What’s Fate of Orthodox Unity and Diaspora?

From: Orthodox Christian Laity
By Peter Marudas

Behold now, what is so good or so joyous as for brethren to dwell together in unity?  Psalm 132

In late May, a meeting of potentially enormous significance for the Orthodox Church in America will occur in New York City when all Orthodox Bishops in good standing in North and Central America convene for a first-ever Episcopal Assembly. This unprecedented gathering has received little attention in most Orthodox circles and virtually none in the wider religious and secular media.

Nevertheless, its implications for the future of Orthodox Christianity in the Americas are both hopeful and controversial. The historic Episcopal Assembly will take place shortly after the Great Feast of Pentecost – the Kairos – when the Holy Spirit inspired the disciples to establish the Church.

Until 18 months ago, the mere contemplation of such a meeting would have been considered unthinkable in view of long-standing and entrenched official opposition to even discussing the question of closer intra-Orthodox relations. In recent years, a few Orthodox hierarchs with some support from clergy and laity openly but unsuccessfully championed unity initiatives. But with the exception of Orthodox Christian Laity, no group has consistently or aggressively pursued Orthodox unity in America. In October, 2008 the unity landscape experienced an earthquake, when His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew convened in Istanbul, a Synaxis (gathering) of the leaders of all Autocephalous (independent) Orthodox Churches; the entire leadership of world Orthodoxy.

At that meeting, Patriarch Bartholomew delivered a remarkable address about the dangers of division among the Orthodox in the so-called Diaspora and the pressing need for these believers to unify themselves in a way consistent with church tradition. Immediately, the assembled Orthodox leaders unanimously endorsed a communiqué calling for a process to address Diaspora issues – and to the shock of many – for the convocation of a Great and Holy Council of Orthodoxy; an encouraging announcement for those seeking greater Orthodox unity both here and abroad.

The Swiss Gambit

The Church leadership further directed their individual representatives to convene two meetings at the Patriarchal complex in Chambesy, Switzerland in June and December, 2009 to formulate specific plans for implementing their declarations regarding the status of the Orthodox in traditionally non-Orthodox lands. These deliberations expeditiously produced guidelines which required the formation of Episcopal Assemblies in a number of geographical regions and the Orthodox Church in uncharacteristic fashion managed in a matter of only 18 months to move from Istanbul to New York via Chambesy and convene this unprecedented meeting whose assignment is to chart the Church’s future course in North and Central America.

This sudden change of heart and mind by Orthodoxy’s leaders – all centered abroad – about Orthodox unity in the Diaspora has naturally provoked ecclesiastical and political commentary. Irrespective of such speculation, we can reasonably conclude that Orthodox leaders for whatever reason clearly decided to put aside any disputes in order to reach unanimous agreement on this unity initiative. Their actions should also be measured in the context of related developments, most notably the reunification of ROCOR (The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) with the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia, which ended a bitter schism generated by the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. This reunion meant that the membership of SCOBA (The Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of America) for the first time included all recognized Orthodox jurisdictions. In that respect, there is already serious talk that one likely result of the upcoming Assembly is that SCOBA, whose membership is limited only to church heads; will dissolve to be replaced by a new entity.

While local Orthodox cooperation has generally been limited, national Pan-Orthodox organizations such as OCMC (Orthodox Christian Mission Center,) IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities,) OCF (Orthodox College Fellowship,) OCN (Orthodox Christian Network) and other groups continue to flourish and build strong bridges of intra-Orthodox collaboration of bishops have never publicly commented about Orthodox unity in the Americas, although some have called for an independent American church while others have expressed strong opposition to any change in present ecclesiastical arrangements.

As the regional representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archbishop Dimitrios will have the honor and critical responsibility of chairing this meeting. Perhaps the Assembly should be compared to our the Constitutional Congress where delegates had to organize themselves, create and adopt rules of procedure and then decide on an agenda which in this instance could be a topic of prolonged discussion and debate. Skeptics with some historic basis, but also with what some critics called hasty prejudgment, contend that the Episcopal Assemblies are merely a ploy by "Old World" Patriarchates to sidetrack any real progress toward unity.

They cite past actions by overseas Orthodox centers, which stifled efforts to seek unity and assert that the "church establishment" is deliberatively downplaying public attention on the Episcopal Assembly as a means of minimizing expectations and maximizing control. Others believe that such speculation, however, seems premature, as are more optimistic expectations that the Assembly would declare on the spot a united Orthodox Church in America, Canada and/or Central America. At this point, no one can with any certainty predict, given the unprecedented nature of this meeting, what will happen.

How Much American Involvement?

A wait and see attitude is certainly in order but the Bishops might give a hint about their intentions when they organize relevant committees to carry forward the Assembly’s work. Under the rules, the Bishops may form committees comprised of their own membership but also open to clergy and lay participation. Whether these committees and other Assembly organs reflect legitimate, real and broad-based lay participation in the spirit of Orthodox conciliation and American inclusiveness and transparency may reveal how much. How the Bishops approach this task and what plans they have for a broader dialogue within the entire church will be crucial indicators, those close to the church believe.

Orthodox Christian Laity and other advocates of Orthodox unity (Full disclosure: I am an OCL board member) support the process established by the Istanbul and Chambesy meetings and view the Episcopal Assembly as the fullest and most tangible expression yet of a united Orthodox presence in America.

Any results or decisions emanating from New York are unlikely to have any immediate effect on the Orthodox faithful but the meeting itself will raise questions, such as:

  • Will the move towards Orthodox unity deliberately weaken ethnic affiliations and lead to the imposition of an English language liturgy?
  • Will church-related ethnic language schools be abolished? That’s a question not just limited to the Greek Orthodox. No such actions are likely but in the months and years ahead the Bishops and the entire church must be prepared to deal seriously and honestly with these and many other similar, provocative questions.

Clearly the mosaic of Orthodoxy in the Americas is dramatically different from the immigrant-dominated Church of the early Twentieth Century. Recent immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Middle East still enter the Church. But most members are descended from earlier immigrants and it is their marriages – many of them inter-faith – that have produced new members. These worshippers have also been joined in recent decades by an increasing number of Americans who have converted to Orthodoxy; sometime with families and friends. These developments pose challenges but also offer opportunities to acquaint the broader American community with historic Orthodox theology and practice.

One very current and extremely encouraging example of how Orthodoxy is preparing to engage the religious dialogue in America is expressed in the theme of the forthcoming St. Vladimir’s Seminary Summer Symposium, "Hellenism and Orthodoxy (June 10-12.) Not only will Archbishop Dimitrios deliver the symposium keynote but the Very Rev. Dr. Archimandrite Elpidophoros Lambrianiadis, Chief Secretary of the Holy & Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will discuss Hellenism and Orthodox Identity in North America.

The symposium will feature an impressive array of younger and thoughtful Orthodox speakers – panelists from America and abroad who will discuss how Hellenism, a critical component of Orthodox tradition, transcends conventional and generally narrower nationalistic perceptions. The seminar represents a working Pan-Orthodoxy at the highest theological and intellectual levels and perhaps could even eventually reach all the faithful.

Clearly something is stirring in world Orthodoxy. It was evident at the Synaxis of October, 2008, which forthrightly called for a Great and Holy Council- the last was held in 1872. It was also expressed at the subsequent Chambesy meetings and now is emerging in the regional Episcopal assemblies scheduled to convene around the world. These actions, unprecedented in both scope and speed, demonstrate to some that the Orthodox peoples are finally and confidently emerging from centuries of suffering and martyrdom to engage each other in the light of God’s freedom. Strengthened by their sacrifices they are now able to bring the Orthodox message to the entire Oikoumene.

As these developments unfold, it is instructive to observe that as Orthodoxy embarks on what could be an unprecedented step toward unity in America, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism – in sharp contrast – have been and are consumed with fierce feuding involving both secular and faith matters; many of them so-called hot-button issues. This should signal caution to the Orthodox as they phase out from Old World divisions and into newer realities and many believe they must remain steadfastly faithful to the Church’s theological and liturgical tradition and ever vigilant to avoid the fads, factionalism and rampant individualism, which regretfully constitute much of what they believe, passes for so-called contemporary American Christianity. On the other hand, they said that the Church, as it evolves, should seek to incorporate those practices of institutional integrity and collective and individual philanthropy, which distinguishes the many beneficent aspects of American religious life.

Perhaps guidance may also be found in the sentiments expressed by the late Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan, the Twentieth Century’s pre-eminent historian of Christianity who late in life left the Protestant Church of his childhood to become Orthodox. Following a lecture in 1998 at Baltimore’s prestigious St. Mary’s Seminary and University, he was asked why he had become an Orthodox? He initially declined to respond but then replied by stating he would provide his questioner with what he called a Western Answer: "What was de facto is now de jure," an obvious allusion to his long time sympathy for Orthodoxy and Western Christianity’s preoccupation with legal definitions and theological precision. That could be an example as perhaps the Eastern Orthodox Bishops have already unified de facto by Liturgy and The Eucharist may also, in the spirit of Dr. Pelikan produce a de jure response at their May Assembly and maybe even produce the beginning of a clear path to ecclesiastical unity in America.

Read the entire article on the Orthodox Christian Laity website (new window will open).

Comments

  1. Wasn’t Peter Marudas Chief of Staff to Senator Paul Sarbanes?

    Lets be honest, no matter how “influential” some people are, Pro-abortion leaders and commentators will never help the cause of American Orthodoxy Unity. What good is unity if we dumb down the the Church’s moral Tradition?

    American Orthodoxy deserve better.

  2. Dean Calvert :

    Andrew,

    Christ is Risen!!!

    Peter Marudas is an extraordinary Orthodox Christian with a long history of faithful service to the Church.

    We could use a LOT more like him, his connections to Sen. Sarbanes notwithstanding.

    You say “American Orthodoxy deserve better.”

    I say, “they don’t get any better than Peter”.

    Best Regards,
    Dean Calvert

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      Very good analysis too.

      • Father, I am unsure what you are commenting on and would welcome your opinion on this matter in more detail.

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

          I am saying that I think Peter Marudas’ analysis is good.

          As for the abortion question your raise (2.2 below), I see Marudas as a lot like those who supported slavery in England before abolition. It takes politicians a long time to sort things out correctly. People are responsible for what they do of course (and politicians are responsible for how they vote), but the failure in leadership here is with the leaders of the Church who remain silent, or, in some cases, actually adopt the pro-abortion apologetic. If you are a lone voice (like William Wilberforce was in England, or Thomas Clarkson in America) you persevere. People can and do come to their senses. (Look what Raquel Welch(!) just said about the failure of the sexual revolution. Give her a little more time. She may get the whole picture soon.)

          With Marudas and others, you keep writing and talking. You let him know you disapprove. (I met him for the first time at the OCL conference last year but he sought me out since (presumably) he read some of the things I had written about his boss. He knows how I think. I know how he thinks.) Meanwhile, the man has good things to offer, much of it worth listening to. He’s not an abortion ideologue.

          You are right. Moral schizophrenia cannot exist. But what you try and do is heal it by bringing those who are on the wrong side of an issue back to the right side. The ultimate responsibility for the schizophrenia however, lies with the Bishops — not Marudas.

          • Scott Pennington :

            Fr. Johannes,

            “Skeptics with some historic basis, but also with what some critics called hasty prejudgment, contend that the Episcopal Assemblies are merely a ploy by “Old World” Patriarchates to sidetrack any real progress toward unity.”

            Allow me to point out a few details that might curb your enthusiasm:

            The EA documents approved at Chambesy state that the EA’s do not have the right to form a real synod and there is no mention of dividing up territory. The documents also state that only an Ecumenical Council will be capable of recognizing an autocephalous church in America. This call for an Ecumenical Council did not originate at Chambesy and has been in the air for decades, to no apparent progress.

            The Romanian Orthodox Church, in the second largest Orthodox country in the world, has apparently already rejected the “spirit of Chambesy” which you have described. They want all Romanians, far and wide, to return to the jurisdiction of the Romanian OC.

            Given that and other things we know about the EA, like the Phanar did not want OCA invited because they didn’t want the EA to get out of hand and become a real synod, it seems to me that any optimism about the true purpose of the EA’s is wild optimism. Now, if the EA’s were actually successfuly hijacked by pro-autocephaly bishops, that might be interesting. I’m not sure it would turn out any differntly than Ligioner though. The bottom line is that it’s hard to find any substantial difference (except this alleged new spirit) between the EA’s and SCOBA, except for expanded membership. Did more bishops in SCOBA make a difference regarding unity?

            “As for the abortion question your raise (2.2 below), I see Marudas as a lot like those who supported slavery in England before abolition.”

            This is not an apt comparison. Historically, Orthodoxy has at least tolerated slavery from the very beginning. I can quote you passages from St. John Chrysostom that appear to support the institution. Abortion has been condemned by the Church since the earliest days. The widespread movement to abolish slavery was a new moral step in human development. Mr. Marudas’ and Sen. Sarbanes’s position seems to be a retreat to paganism.

            Fr. Johannes, I understand your desire and those of many who support a united autocephalous church in America to see the EA’s as a step in furtherance of that goal. And my point is not to criticise you or others who feel the way you do. What I would hate to see is this enthusiasm end in further disappointment and intra-Church bad feelings. Taking a very cautious, even lukewarm, attitude toward the EA seems to me to be the wise road. Given what seems to me to be the overwhelming evidence – – even according to the EA documents themselves – – that this is basically SCOBAII, I don’t think any hype is warranted.

    • Dean, thank you for your response. In all honestly we cannot agree on this issue. I see no place in the leadership of the Church for individuals who believe abortion and for in this case partial birth abortion are compatible with Christian leadership.

      Common sense says that you cannot work against the Church violating human dignity Monday through Friday and then claim to be a leader of the very Church you work against on Saturday and Sunday.

      This is the problem with the GOA. This is the problem with OCL. Both organizations now have leaders who believe pro-abortion Orthodoxy can exist.

      This type of moral schizophrenia will make American Orthodox Unity a facade.

  3. Isa Almisry :

    One very current and extremely encouraging example of how Orthodoxy is preparing to engage the religious dialogue in America is expressed in the theme of the forthcoming St. Vladimir’s Seminary Summer Symposium, “Hellenism and Orthodoxy (June 10-12.) Not only will Archbishop Dimitrios deliver the symposium keynote but the Very Rev. Dr. Archimandrite Elpidophoros Lambrianiadis, Chief Secretary of the Holy & Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will discuss Hellenism and Orthodox Identity in North America.

    This should prove “interesting.”

    • George Michalopulos :

      Isa, this is an outrage. If he is invited to speak, others should come forward to challenge his ahistorical narrative (i.e. the speech from last year). Not only was it historically incorrect, but theologically inept as well. It would be smarter for SVS to drop him from the itinerary because otherwise, his presence and words will very likely invalidate the remarks of Arb Demetrios and anybody else there who knows what they’re talking about.

      • Hi George, et al,

        I’m one of those lurkers.

        Actually, I think it is a good idea for the Archimandrite to speek. It will give him a chance to correct himself.

        I noticed in the article that there was no mention of the fact that the OCA was not supposed to be invited but was instead invited by “mistake.” If this does not tell us that this whole process is doomed from the start, then we are just not listening.

        I think the mistaken invitation should be shouted from the rooftops so all will know of the real intentions of “Blark Bart.”

        • George Michalopulos :

          Steve, there’s no chance that he will recant or otherwise take back his speach. It’s not in the nature of Phanariotes to ever admit mistakes. Hubris. A complete lack of humility I’m sorry to say. Right now I’d be the rent that not only will he not modify his statements but he will double down on his idiotic statements.

        • Isa Almisry :

          I noticed in the article that there was no mention of the fact that the OCA was not supposed to be invited but was instead invited by “mistake.” If this does not tell us that this whole process is doomed from the start, then we are just not listening.

          What Athenagoras did in the Latin American Assembly should be a warning. However, HB Jonah has a different take on HE Demetrios. The fact that the Phanar seems to want to throw him under the bus bodes well for HB Jonah’s confidence in +Demetrios.

          • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

            These kind of “mistakes” don’t happen. It’s not a mistake.

          • George Michalopulos :

            Isa, I too was conflicted about the bona fides of the Episcopal Assemblies. But I think you are right about Demetrios and Jonah’s assessment of him.

            If I may, it appears that Demetrios has learned the lesson of Iakovos, that is to say he’s not going down without a fight. We know that the Phanar is not well-intentioned, that is obvious by the recent dust-up in South America as well as the Orphangate brouhaha. Is it possible though Demetrios knows that Orthodoxy has stagnated in America under his watch? That a real and well-intentioned Episcopal Assembly will resurrect his reputation? That’s my analysis.

            So how do I reconcile this with my oft-stated belief that the EA will degenerate into Son of SCOBA? I’m struggling with that, but perhaps it’s something like this: once the EAs meet, they will created a new paradigm. It’s going to be hard for the Mother Churches to all of a sudden interfere, especially the decrepit ones. Intereference still will happen but it will be increasingly ineffectual. Local bishops will have to “punt” directives by saying “well, we gotta take this up with the EA” (or something like this. At the very least, it’s a new reality.

            The real problem for the EAs in my opinion will come from that segment of the Orthodox population that I choose to call DiasporaWorld. These people exist in all the jurisdictions (except the OCA) to various extents. These people are going to be the ones preventing meaningful consolidation of dioceses, true unity, etc. They will be a reality that the EA has to live with.

            At first blush, this is depressing, but given the various loopholes that exist in the EAs, that each jurisdiction will continue its distinct existence and independence, then these jurisdictions will continue their present attrition. The ones that are evangelistic and/or native will continue to grow. In other words, God will sort them out.

            As for the threat that consolidation will be forced come the Great Council, I view that as an empty one. There is no guarantee that such a council will take place (we’ve been waiting sixty years so far) and if it does, its dictates would most probably be created by the ROC. At that point, the GOA-triumphalists who hide behind a charade of Chambesy enthusiasm would be hoist on their own petard. (As will the Phanariote propagandists when the next EP turns out to be a Russian.)

    • Eliot Ryan :

      It is painful to see how people who supposedly represent the Church are instead working against it. What can we do? We may be thinking of some complicated solutions but praying for all concerned is the solution. If we are Christians we must pray for those who love us and for those who hate us, for our enemies. I pray that our bishops will stay focused on the One Christ, the One Church and the One Tradition, and be faithful to their calling by the Holy Spirit.

  4. Has anyone made mention in article or otherwise regarding the pro-abortion stance of the GOA and OCL? This needs to be talked about by Orthodox leaders at least once a day in the public light.

    “Hellenism and Orthodoxy” or “why I believe you have to be Greek in order to be Orthodox?” This from the same Orthodox leader who likened President Obama to Alexander the Great. Is St. Vladimir’s trying to stir of controversy for publicity?

    Also, it is a bit troubling for me to see all of this ‘positioning’ by the grand Orthodox nations.

  5. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    The OCL has no position on abortion. It’s not in their bailiwick. The GOA position is clear:

    Generally stated, fornication, adultery, abortion, homosexuality and any form of abusive sexual behavior are considered immoral and inappropriate forms of behavior in and of themselves, and also because they attack the institution of marriage and the family. Two representative statements, one on abortion and another on homosexuality, from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America follow. They are from the Twenty-Third Clergy-Laity Congress held in Philadelphia in 1976. The Orthodox Church has a definite, formal and intended attitude toward abortion. It condemns all procedures purporting to abort the embryo or fetus, whether by surgical or chemical means. The Orthodox Church brands abortion as murder; that is, as a premeditated termination of the life of a human being. The only time the Orthodox Church will reluctantly acquiesce to abortion is when the preponderance of medical opinion determines that unless the embryo or fetus is aborted, the mother will die (GOARCH).

    I have no idea why St. Vladimir’s invited Fr. Elpidophoros to a conference on Hellenism after the Holy Cross fiasco. His conception of Hellenism is bound to the ethnic/politcal definition promulgated by Constantinople. Can offer any substantive scholarship without contradicting his call for Constantinopolitan hegemony? Abp. Demetrios, on the other hand, could be be very good.

    • Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim :

      Christ Is Risen!

      As far as Archimandrite Elpidophoros is concerned, I was just as astounded & offended as anyone else who had the misfortune of hearing or reading his talk delivered at Holy Cross last year. His ignorance of both history & the actual positions of Metropolitans Jonah & Philip, both of whom he personally criticized, as well as his arrogant culturally supremacist attitude regarding Hellenism & the Ecumenical Patriarchate are scandalous, to say the least. When I read that he was speaking at Saint Vladimir’s annual summer symposium I was immediately shocked & if the truth be told: angry.

      However, after pausing for a moment, I realized that this is precisely why I respect Saint Vladimir’s Seminary so much. As an academic institution they have the integrity & objectivity to hear “other” perspectives & engage in dialogue on controversial matters. This is not to say that they endorse any & every perspective. Nevertheless, they refuse to isolate themselves within an artificial & delusional ghetto of homogeneity. The reality is that there are “crazy” perceptions on ethnicity & ecclesiology that exist WITHIN the Orthodox Church (even on the “upper echelon”) & they MUST be addressed head on. The ostrich approach is not viable.

      Now I am making it a priority to attend the symposium, and I fully intend to lock intellectual horns with the Archimandrite should he insists on maintaining his misguided stance. In fact, I am confidant that it will result in a heated debate involving most attendees. I take my hat off to Saint Vladimir’s Seminary for inviting him & to Father Elpidophoros for accepting the invitation. Kudos to both!

      May Christ have mercy on us all as we loving struggle to maintain & achieve unity in the Spirit!

      • Geo Michalopulos :

        Seraphim, I too respect the intellectual freedom offered by a fine institution such as SVS. I am all for a vigorous give and take. The more the better. However the academic rigor of Lambrianides is questionable to say the least (I am going by his scandalous speech last year). It would be like Harvard Medical School hosting a talk by a voodoo doctor. (All in the interest of “multiculturalism” of course.)

      • However, after pausing for a moment, I realized that this is precisely why I respect Saint Vladimir’s Seminary so much. As an academic institution they have the integrity & objectivity to hear “other” perspectives & engage in dialogue on controversial matters.

        So, shall we start again? … remember Dr. Rowan’s stand against the moral tradition while “lecturing” on the Philokalia. I really do not understand how the conferring of the honorary degree does not imply an endorsement. It has been said plenty on the subject, but it seems that nobody cares.

        • Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim :

          George & Eliot, I agree with both of you.

          George, if Father Elpidophoros’ talk at Holy Cross last year is anything close to representative of his intellectual capabilities then he truly is the antithesis of a scholar. Last I knew, fabricating history & no-holds-bared circular reasoning were considered illegitimate tactics in a serious discussion.

          Eliot, I sympathize with you in finding it unfortunate at Saint Vladimir’s awarded Archbishop Rowan Williams an honorary doctorate degree. It is one thing to invite the man speak & an entirely different matter to bestow a prestigious academic award on him. Be that as it may, I still laud Saint Vladimir’s for its commitment to promoting open dialogue & debate.

          My point is simply that it takes a great measure of patience & humility to allow others to share their ideas, especially if those ideas are regarded as offensive & absurd by many of your peers. Of course Archimandrite Elpidophoros has already proven that he is far from the ilk of Jarolsav Pelikan & Father Alexander Schmemann. This goes without saying. Despite this, no matter how obnoxious or ridiculous his assertions may have been (or will be) they do represent the unofficial position of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and therefore, merit some discussion & debate because whether we like it or not they DO matter when it comes to the world-wide Orthodox Church & Orthodox unity. The bishops & others at the Phanar need to know that Americans are gracious hosts, but this does not mean that we are ignorant, docile peasants of some by-gone imperial era. We are an educated, articulate, critical and demanding populous. We expect people to be accountable for their words & this is what I am anticipating will happen at Saint Vladimir’s in June.

          • George Michalopulos :

            Seraphim I truly applaud your reasoning and graciousness. Having said that, if we are to conceed your point, that because Lambrianides’ weltanschaung represents the Phanar and as such deserves to be heard –if only for that reason–then it also stands to reason that Lambrianides be brought to task for his historical illiteracy (to say nothing of his horrible misunderstanding of American culture). This can be done by any number of ways: having a panel dissect his sloppy reaserch, a vigorous questioning by the students and attendees, or better yet, a reasoned response by an honest critic. To rsspond to a critic face-to-face and to allow a vigorous (and civil) debate is the essence of higher education.

    • I jumpted the gun a bit. My apologies.

  6. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Fr. Johannes, I understand your desire and those of many who support a united autocephalous church in America to see the EA’s as a step in furtherance of that goal. And my point is not to criticise you or others who feel the way you do. What I would hate to see is this enthusiasm end in further disappointment and intra-Church bad feelings. Taking a very cautious, even lukewarm, attitude toward the EA seems to me to be the wise road. Given what seems to me to be the overwhelming evidence – – even according to the EA documents themselves – – that this is basically SCOBAII, I don’t think any hype is warranted.

    Remove the modifiers “optimism” and “enthusiasm” from your analysis and you roughly have my sense of it. I look at the ‘factual’ development, that is, this effort emerged from Old World Patriarchs and thus indicates movement of a new and different kind. If SCOBA II was the goal in other words, why not remain with the status-quo? How this will end is anybody’s guess but I think (time will tell if I am right) that this new motion is of a different character than what we’ve seen. I have an “Introduction to the EA” (under a different title) coming up on Catholic.org soon that express my tone towards it with more accuracy.

    Regarding slavery, the point wasn’t to make a moral comparison of slavery vs. abortion, it was to show that sociologically the politicians are often the last ones to get on board with self-evident moral truths (granting of course that self-evident truth isn’t always so evident at first). There are a lot of reasons for their obstinance, but ideological commitment to the destruction of the unborn is not necessarily one of them. For this reason some patience is required.

    • Scott Pennington :

      “If SCOBA II was the goal in other words, why not remain with the status-quo?”

      To create the impression of forward movement without actually doing so? This temporarily – – i.e., so long as people buy the rhetoric – – relieves some of whatever pressure is directed at the leadership to move toward unity. Now they can have press releases and cultivate enthusiasm about the Big New Thing for awhile.

      Fr, Johannes, none of it makes the slightest bit of difference until they start dividing up territory among the bishops. That, and only that, would indicate seriousness.

      P.S.: I wasn’t making a moral comparison of slavery and abortion. What I was saying is that abortion has been condemned by the Church from the very beginning. This is not true with slavery. It makes perfect sense to cut those in slave holding states some slack in light of the fact that moral opposition to slavery was an emerging opinion in the 18th and 19th centuries.

      Opposition to abortion among Christians was fairly uniform before the twentieth century. In fact, the first church to actually even approve of contraception was the Episcopal Church back in 1930. It’s not a question of giving politicians and operatives time to adjust to the emerging moral wave. The emerging moral wave of the 60’s and 70’s was toward approving of abortion on demand. Mr. Marudas’ and Sen. Sarbanes seem to have adjusted to that moral developement (or decay) all too well. Outrage might be a better response to their position since they have had almost 2000 years of notice as to what Christianity teaches. They may not be ideologically commited to the destruction of the unborn but they are ideologically commited to a woman’s “right” to destroy her unborn. That amounts to the same thing.

      • SCOBA was a creature of the locals in America, the EAs (while possibly not generating anything different than SCOBA) is a creature managed from overseas and mostly from Istanbul/EP.

        Anyhow, in our parish we hold a huge festival to pay off ‘distant centers’ in exchange for no new faces — and if the lady who manages our choir and plays the organ didn’t donate her fee back to the church we’d have a problem. But, we do it every year, so it must be ok. A Vegitarian? You don’t eat no meat? It’s okay, I’ll make lamb.

        • Geo Michalopulos :

          Harry, I think that the real force behind these EAs is Moscow. Look how they wormed their way up past Alexandria and Jerusalem in the protocols worked out in Chambesy (but not yet in the actual Diptychs –that’s next). It’s really rather brilliant. What can we expect from a nation in which chess is a spectator sport?

      • Geo Michalopulos :

        Scott, you’re absolutely right. Unless and until there are serious movements towards dividing up existing dioceses into real, discreet political entities, then it’ll be more of the same. That’s not a bad thing however, since the various jurisdictions will continue their independent existence. If an ethnic jurisdiction complains about new missions opening up nearby by the more evangelical-minded churches, well…too bad. It may goad them to some serious action.

        • Scott Pennington :

          Good point George. Let’s see who can grow the church in the apostolic faith. You will know them by their fruit.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :
      • There is an ‘interesting’ comment on Catholic Online. Looks like the discussions will never go beyond “who has the Truth?”

        • Michael Bauman :

          Eliot, the exchange reminds me of the beginning of Romeo and Juliet in which servants of Montague and Capulet have the following exchange:
          “Do you bite your thumb (akin to giving the finger) at me sir”
          “At you sir, no sir, but I do bite my tumb sir”

          We all know how that story ends: “Montague, Capulet, see what a scourge is laid upon thy hate that heaven doth find means to kill thy joys with love, and I for winking at your discords have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punished.”

          • All are punished … because there is no brotherly love. Scary … Lord have mercy!

            The way do deal with such complicated issues is shown by the Elder Paisios of the Holy Mount Athos:

            Guard the secret as well as you can and don’t indulge in excessive frankness.

            If we expose someone out of love, with pain in our hearts, then a change will occur in his heart whether he understands us or not. But to expose without love, with partiality, only enrages to object of our exposure. Our hostility strikes against his egoism, producing sparks like flint against steel.

            Sweet words and great truths have value when uttered by righteous lips. They take root only in people of good will and clean conscience.

            Truth, when used without judgment, can commit a crime. And he who possesses sincerity without reason commits a twofold evil, first against himself, then against others. Because there’s no empathy in his sincerity. A Christian must not be a fanatic but have love in his heart for all. He who throws words around carelessly, even true words, does evil.

  7. Scott Pennington :

    I was just rereading this:

    “It was evident at the Synaxis of October, 2008, which forthrightly called for a Great and Holy Council- the last was held in 1872.”

    I thought the last Great and Holy Council was in 787.

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