Ecumenical Patriarchate: American ‘Diaspora’ must submit to Mother Church

The battle is joined.



With regards to the United States, the submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only fitting with the American society and mentality but also it opens up the horizons of possibilities for this much-promising region, which is capable of becoming an example of Pan-Orthodox unity and witness.

The Mother Church of Constantinople safeguards for the Orthodox Church in America those provisions that are needed for further progress and maturity in Christ.

Full text follows:

Challenges of Orthodoxy in America And the Role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

By Very Reverend Archimandrite
Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis

Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod
(Chapel of the Holy Cross, March 16, 2009)

Reverend Protopresbyter Nicholas Triantafyllou, President,
Reverend Protopresbyter Thomas Fitzgerald, Dean of the School of Theology,
Reverend and Esteemed Members of the Faculty and staff,
Dear Students,

It is an exceptional honor and a great joy for me to be here today, among you, with the blessing and permission of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch and the consent of His Eminence the Archbishop of America, in order to share with you some thoughts regarding the present condition of Orthodoxy in America and our Ecumenical Patriarchate’s position towards it.

You have, my brothers and sisters, the privilege to be citizens of a country which determines to a great extent the fate of many people on our planet; a country where pioneering technologies as well as ideas and philosophies have been discovered and disseminated. The cultural peculiarities and characteristics of the United States find also a reflection in, as it is only natural, and exercise an influence on the religious communities of this country. It is far from accidental that none of the “traditional” religions (coming either from Europe or elsewhere), remained the same once they were replanted on American soil.

The same change can be of course observed in the case of Orthodoxy, whose appearance and development in America was influenced by certain indeterminable factors.

The first and main challenge that American Orthodoxy faces is that it has been developed in a region which, from an administrative and technical point, is that of diaspora. By the term “diaspora” we indicate that region whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction is been unfortunately claimed by a variety of “Mother” Churches, which wish to maintain their pastoral care over their respective flocks, comprised by the people who, over the years, immigrated to the superpower called USA.

In this way, the Orthodox faithful in America became organized according to their national origin and not according to the canon law of the Orthodox Church—that is, they organized themselves not in accordance with the principles of Orthodox ecclesiology which dictates that neither national origin, nor the history of a group’s appearance in a particular region but rather the canonical taxis and the perennial praxis of the Church, as codified by the Ecumenical Councils, has the ultimate authority.

According to such ecclesiological principles, in any given region there can be one and only one bishop who shepherds the Orthodox faithful, regardless of any nationalistic distinction. It was, however, the very opposite scenario that took place in America and today one observes the challenging deplorable condition where a number of bishops claim pastoral responsibility for the same geographic region.

A second challenge of the Church in America is that it was brought here by people who left their homelands at a time that these homelands were economically underdeveloped. Economic immigration created, from the very first moment, the need for these people to assimilate to their adopted land in order to achieve, as soon as possible, the high living standards of the privileged Americans and therefore to enjoy the fruits of the American dream. Towards that goal, they changed their names, they put an emphasis on the English language in every aspect of their lives, and at last they succeeded in becoming true American citizens, holding ever higher positions in the financial, commercial, academic, artistic and political life of this country. The negative aspect of this strong emphasis on cultural assimilation was the consideration of the faithfulness in one’s cultural background as an impediment to the progress and success in the American society. Thus, the complexes of an alleged inferior nationality or class that, in order to enjoy the fruits of the American dream, is supposed to eradicate any bond to its distinctive culture.

The third challenge of Orthodoxy in America concerns the manner of its ecclesiastical organization. The Orthodox faithful organized themselves in communities of lay people, who, in turn, became identified with the ecclesiastical community in the manner of the traditional organization of Christian communities. Thus, the parish (κοινότητα) being now governed by lay elected members, builds its own Church, school and other such institutions, and provides the priest’s salary. Such communal organization improves, as it is right and desirable, the role of laity in Church administration, and increases the sense of responsibility and participation in the life of the Church, offering thus the change to the Church to profit of its talented and able parishioners. On the other hand, however, four very concrete dangers lurk behind such a communal organization of the local Church:

a) That the priest might become alienated from his administrative duties, and from being the spiritual leader of the parish would become a clerk of the parish council,

b) That the parishioners would find it difficult to comprehend the rules according to which the Church is governed and instead they would follow their own secular reasoning,

c) That the structures of the parish would become influenced by the prevalent Protestant models and thus they would replicate and imitate practices that are foreign to the Spirit of Orthodoxy, and

d) That the parishes would degenerate into nothing more than membership clubs, invested with some ecclesiastical resemblance.

As you all know, one of the secrets for the success of the American miracle in its financial, political and technological aspects was precisely its desire to detach itself from the traditional models of the old world, its ability to break free from the established norms, its willingness to question whatever was considered as given or beyond any criticism. As it might have been expected, these tendencies soon found an expression within the life of the Church, sometimes in more extreme ways, other times in more temperate ways. Thus, soon Orthodox clergymen became indistinguishable from the clergy of other denominations, choirs in the western style were adopted, the liturgical tradition became more and more impoverished by being limited only to the bare essentials, etc.

Against that gradual secularization of Orthodoxy in America, a reaction soon made its appearance in the form of a number of rapidly spreading monasteries of an Athonite influence, characterized by ultraconservative tendencies, attached to the letter of the law, and reacting to any form of relationship with other Christian denominations. All of this is nothing but the manifestation of the intense thirst for a lost spirituality and a liturgical richness of which the Orthodox people of America have been for very long now deprived, forced, as they were, to embrace the Church only in the form of a sterile social activism.

The traits of the American clergy today also appear to undergo certain differences.

The secularization of the parish life, as described above, fails to inspire young men and to cultivate in them the religious vocation, so that tomorrow’s pastors would be part of the very flesh of today’s parish. That vacuum in clerical vocation is covered by candidates who, being unusually older than what was perceived the standard age, have already on their shoulders the domestic burden of a family. Thus they struggle to obtain the necessary degree that would secure for them among others the society’s respect.

Another great number of candidates to the priesthood come from converts, who possess little, if any, familiarity with the Orthodox experience and they are usually characterized by their overzealous behavior and mentality. It is of interest that the converts who become ordained into priesthood represent a disproportionally greater percentage than the converts among the faithful. The result of this disanalogous representation is that, more often than not, convert priest shepherd flocks who are bearers of some cultural tradition, but because their pastors either lack the necessary familiarity with that tradition or even consciously oppose it, they succeed in devaluing and gradually eradicating those cultural elements that have been the expression of the parishes that they serve.

It is particularly saddening that the crisis in priestly vocation has decreased dramatically the number but also the quality of celibate priests, who one day will be assigned with the responsibility of governing this Church. Lack of spirituality makes the monastic ideal incomprehensible and unattractive especially among the youth (with the exception, of course, of the aforementioned monastic communities with their own peculiarities).

Having attempted this general evaluation of the American Orthodoxy, allow me to consider briefly the Holy Archdiocese of America, this most important eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne.

The image we depicted above in rough brushstrokes holds also true for the Archdiocese. Thanks to the selfless dedication of our immigrants and under the protection of the first See in the Orthodox world, a strong Archdiocese was created that, in time, reached a level of maturity and excellence and it is today the pride of the Church of Constantinople. The Archdiocese took advantage of the possibilities that a deeply democratic, meritocratic and progressive state, like the United States, was able to offer, in order that the Orthodox faith of our fathers take root deep in the American land.

To this effect, the active participation of the lay element was, as we have seen, very important. We believe that the younger generations of the omogeneia are free of the past’s prejudices and complexes, according to which, if you wish to succeed in America you have to forget your cultural patrimony and your language in order to be left naked, so to speak, in the thorny desert of the Wild West. Today’s omogeneia has overcome that denial and has come to understand that the secret of the American civilization’s success does not lie in the obliteration of one’s cultural background but rather in the free and harmonious co-existence of people and races who have come to this hospitable land seeking a life in freedom, in faith and in dignity. Our cultural heritage and our national conscience is not, by any means, an obstacle for our progress and for the successful witness to our faith, especially insofar as ecumenicity (οἰκουμενικότης) is the heart of Hellenism and by definition alien to any form of nationalism or cultural chauvinism.

The Holy Archdiocese of America under the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the most organized, well-structured and successful presence of Orthodoxy today. This is not accidental. This success was not achieved by foregoing its cultural identity. It was not achieved by ignoring the sacred canons and the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils. It was not achieved by succumbing to the temptation of secularism. It was not achieved by imprisoning itself in the darkness of the extreme fundamentalism, nationalism and sterile denial.

Precisely because the Holy Archdiocese of America occupies such an esteemed position in this country we are obliged to offer a self-criticism but also to defend ourselves against the unjust accusations that target this jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Examining, then, ourselves, I believe that we ought to be more careful towards the easiness with which we are ready to abandon our Hellenism, both as language and as tradition. As we have already said, it is nothing but a myth the opinion that Hellenism is an obstacle to the creative and successful incorporation in the American reality. Hellenism is identified with its ecumenical character and for that reason it can never be nationalistic for both of its manifestations, its culture and its Orthodox faith are concepts that transcend the boundaries of the national.

I do not support the opinion that we can today oblige everyone to speak Greek, but I think that we have to offer that possibility to those who so desire, to learn Greek in well organized schools, by talented teachers. I think that we owe our children the possibility of choice. We owe to our culture the obliteration of contempt for a language that expressed the Gospel and became the vehicle for the most subtle meanings in the articulation of the dogma by the founders of our faith and Fathers of Christianity.

I do not support the opinion that the services here in America should be done exclusively in Greek. Simply I do not understand how it is possible that any priest of the Archdiocese might not be able to serve in both languages. It is not understandable how an institution of higher education cannot manage to teach its students a language, even in the time span of four years!

My brothers and sisters, I am not one of them who believe that there is a sacred language (lingua sacra) for the Church. I just wonder why in every Theological School in the world the students are expected to learn the Biblical languages, and it is only in our School of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America that such a requirement seems anachronistic, nationalistic or conservative.

Speaking now of your Theological School, do you think that the Church’s expectation that the graduates of this School know theology, canon law, Byzantine music, be able to celebrate the service of matins, vespers and the sacraments, be able to preach the Word of God and instruct our youth in the catechism is unreasonable or excessive?

My dear brothers and sisters, allow me now to return to the problem of the diaspora and the jurisdictional diversity that one observes in the USA.

First of all, allow me to remind you that the term “diaspora” is a technical term denoting those regions that lie beyond the borders of the local autocephalous Churches. It does not mean that the Orthodox people who dwell in these regions live there temporally, as misleadingly it was argued by His Eminence Phillip in a recent article (“The Word”). According to the 28th Canon of the 4th Ecumenical Council one of the prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch is precisely His jurisdiction exactly over these regions, which lie beyond the predescribed borders of the local Churches. The canon in question uses the technical term “barbaric” in order to denote these lands, since it was precisely referring to the unknown lands beyond the orbit of the Roman Empire.

On account of this canon, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has suffered the unfair and unjust criticism of two American Orthodox Hierarchs: Metropolitan Phillip and the newly elected Metropolitan Jonas.

It is my duty to refute the injustice directed against the Mother Church of Constantinople for the sake of historical truth and for the sake of moral conscience.

Metropolitan Jonas, while he was still an abbot, in one of his speeches presented what he called “a monastic perspective” on the subject “Episcopacy, Primacy and the Mother Churches”. In the chapter on autocephaly and primacy he claims that “there is no effective overarching primacy in the Orthodox Church.” He seems to be in opposition to the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, because he considers that such an institution “is based on primacy over an empire-wide synod” and that this “has long become unrealistic.” What surprised me the most in this “monastic perspective” of His Eminence Jonas was the claim that allegedly “now only the Greek ethnic Churches and few others recognize the Ecumenical Patriarchate to be what it claims to be.” It is indeed saddening the ignorance of this Hierarch not only on account of History and canonical order but even on account of the current state of affairs. How is it possible that he ignores that there is no Church that does not recognize the Ecumenical Patriarchate? Perhaps he is carried away by the fact that the ecclesial schema over which he presides and which has been claimed as “autocephalous” in rampant violation of every sense of canonicity, is not recognized but by few Churches and it is not included in the diptychs of the Church.

Please allow me, by way of illustration, to sample a few other points of the same article that should not remain unanswered.

Metropolitan Jonas claims that in America “there is no common expression of unity that supersedes ethnic linguistic and cultural divisions.” Does His Eminence ignore the fact that under the canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America belong Greeks, Palestinians, Albanians, Ukrainians and Carpathorussians? Is this not proof enough of a common structure that supersedes ethnic and cultural divisions? Does he imply perhaps that SCOBA either constitutes a common expression of unity that supersedes such divisions?

The most provocative of his claims is that which asserts that with the formation of the so-called OCA “the presence of any other jurisdiction on American territory becomes uncanonical, and membership in the Synod of the Orthodox Church in America becomes the criterion of canonicity of all bishops in America.” It is perhaps a sign of our times that he who violated the holy canons par excellence, the most uncanonically claimed as allegedly autocephalous, makes now himself the criterion of canonicity and vitiates the canonical hierarchs as uncanonical. O tempora, o mores!

Instead of acknowledging the mercifulness of the other Patriarchates which, in spite the uncanonical status of the so-called OCA, accept it in communion, its representatives choose to subject them to such an unfair treatment that contributes nothing to the common cause of Orthodox unity. I would be interested to hear an explanation from His Eminence in response to the question “How will the so-called OCA contribute to our common Orthodox witness in diaspora by electing bishops holding titles which already exist for the same city”. Especially our Ecumenical Patriarchate not only is it not “unable to lead” as most unfortunately Metropolitan Jonas claims, but already since last October (in order to limit myself to the most recent example) has launched under the presidency of His All Holiness the process for the convocation of the Holy and Great Synod. I am not sure whether His Eminence, upon his ordination to the episcopacy, refused to put on the vestments of a bishop, which he, in the same article, and while he was still an abbot, had called as unfitting to the real nature of the arch-pastorship (p. 11).

Let me add that the refusal to recognize primacy within the Orthodox Church, a primacy that necessarily cannot but be embodied by a primus (that is by a bishop who has the prerogative of being the first among his fellow bishops) constitutes nothing less than heresy. It cannot be accepted, as often it is said, that the unity among the Orthodox Churches is safeguarded by either a common norm of faith and worship or by the Ecumenical Council as an institution. Both of these factors are impersonal while in our Orthodox theology the principle of unity is always a person. Indeed, in the level of the Holy Trinity the principle of unity is not the divine essence but the Person of the Father (“Monarchy” of the Father), at the ecclesiological level of the local Church the principle of unity is not the presbyterium or the common worship of the Christians but the person of the Bishop, so to in the Pan-Orthodox level the principle of unity cannot be an idea nor an institution but it needs to be, if we are to be consistent with our theology, a person.

The second article that I have to mention here is that of His Eminence the Antiochean Metropolitan Phillip under the title “Canon 28 of the 4th Ecumenical Council—Relevant or Irrelevant Today?”

Metropolitan Phillip begins his argument with an entirely anti-theological distinction of the holy canons into three categories 1) dogmatic, 2) contextual and, 3) “dead”.

I would like to know in which of these three categories, following his reasoning, His Eminence would classify the canons of the Ecumenical Councils that demarcate the jurisdictions of the ancient Patriarchates. Are they “contextual”—subject, as it is, to change? Does His Eminence believe that in this way he serves the unity among Orthodox, by subjugating the holy and divine canons under the circumstantial judgment of some bishop?

Based on the above distinction, and although he accepts that canon 28 of the 4th Ecumenical Council is not “dead” (since there is so much debate about it), he affirms that indeed it gives certain prerogatives to the Ecumenical Patriarch, on the other hand, however, he claims that this happened for secular and political reasons that have nothing to do with today’s state of affairs. Implicitly and yet all too clearly, Metropolitan Phillip implies that the prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch can be doubted. The question then is: does His Eminence know of any Church whose status (Patriarchal or Autocephalous) were not decided according to the historical conditions that they were current at the time? Or, does His Eminence know of any Church that has received its status on the basis of theological reasons exclusively? Every administrative decision of an Ecumenical Council is equally respected to perpetuity together with its dogmatic decisions. Imagine the consequences for the Orthodox Church if we begin to re-evalutate the status of each local Church!

The correct interpretation of canon 28 is considered by His Eminence as “novelty”, by invoking only sources of the 20th century, while it has been scientifically established already by the late Metropolitan of Sardeis Maximos the uninterrupted application of the canon in question during the history of the Church of Constantinople.

The question, my brothers and sisters, is rather simple:

If Constantinople was not given that prerogative by canon 28, how was she able to grant autocephalies and patriarchal dignities to the Churches of Russia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Czech Lands and Slovakia, Poland and Albania? Under the provision of which canon did Constantinople give the right of jurisdiction over the remaining of Africa to the Patriarchate of Alexandria in 2002?

And if the Ecumenical Patriarchate has not granted the Patriarchate of Moscow the privilege to bestow autocephaly as it pleases it, then what gives it the right to do so on the expense of the Orthodox unity?

Summarizing my lecture, I wish to call your attention to the following points:

1. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is a Church that undergoes martyrdom, a Church that often has received unfair criticism, especially by those Churches which were most richly benefited by it. At no point, the spirit of nationalism took hold of the Ecumenical Patriarchate because that is incompatible with the concepts of Hellenism and Ecumenicity (ecumenical character) as well as with the Christian Orthodox faith. The proof of this emerges in the most decisive manner throughout the 17 centuries of its history, during which it never Hellenized, not even attempted to Hellenize the nations to which it gave through its apostolic missions the undying light of Christ. What better example than the Slavic tribes which owe even their alphabet to the Thessalonian brothers Cyril and Methodios. I, who speak to you tonight, although I am an Antiochean from my maternal side, nevertheless I serve as the Chief-Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Church of Constantinople.

2. The Ecumenical Patriarchate neither had nor has territorial claims against the sister Orthodox Churches. That truth is testified by the fact that, although the Patriarchates of the East were virtually destroyed during the difficult times of the 17th and 18th centuries, nevertheless, the Patriarchate of Constantinople was taking the care to have a Patriarch elected for those Patriarchates, supporting their primates in every possible way.

3. The submission of the diaspora to the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not mean either Hellenization or violation of the canonical order, because it is only in this way that both the letter and the spirit of the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils is respected. The Mother Church knows, however, that such a submission is difficult to be accomplished under the present historical conditions. For this reason, and by employing the principle of economy, it was suggested and it has now become accepted in Pan-Orthodox level, that there will be local Pan-Orthodox Episcopal Assemblies in the diaspora (like SCOBA in the US). The principle of presidency is followed, namely the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate presides over these Episcopal Assemblies in order to preserve the necessary element of canonicity.

As you surely know, last October the Ecumenical Patriarchate summoned in Constantinople a Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches. The Primates accepted the proposal of Patriarch Bartholomew to move ahead with the Pan-Orthodox preparatory meetings, within 2009, so that the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church take place as soon as possible. For the record, please note that this decision was reached thanks to the concession on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which accepted that the Autonomous Churches will no longer be invited as to avoid the thorny problem of the Church of Estonia in the relations between Constantinople and Moscow.

4. With regards to the United States, the submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only fitting with the American society and mentality but also it opens up the horizons of possibilities for this much-promising region, which is capable of becoming an example of Pan-Orthodox unity and witness.

The Mother Church of Constantinople safeguards for the Orthodox Church in America those provisions that are needed for further progress and maturity in Christ.

Please allow me to conclude with the phrase of His Beatitude Ignatios Patriarch of Antioch during last October’s Synaxis of the Primates at the Phanar: “In the Orthodox Church we have one primus and he is the Patriarch of Constantinople.”

Thank you for your attention.


  1. Eliot Ryan says

    Back to the Mother Church and back to Rome? Is this the ‘new orthodoxy’ or the ‘ecumenistic Orthodoxy‘? This is a betrayal of the Holy Orthodox Church, a negation of its essence:

    From a letter of the HOLY COMMUNITY OF THE HOLY MOUNTAIN OF ATHOS (11th/24th May 1999) to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos:
    Finally, how can we not but be deeply pained by the epilogue of the address:

    “May the Lord make us worthy to see the resurrection of unity of His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” when by this statement the impression given is that since the time of the schism with Rome, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church ceased to exist, so that we must pray for her “resurrection?”

    In other words, were we not born into, baptised, and reared in the embrace of the One Holy Catholic Church, but are anticipating her resurrection? Is then our faith in vain? Are we dashing off into the void?

  2. This lecture is seriously flawed on a number of levels. It is a more subtle version of the omogenia before Orthodoxy mentality. Its response to converts and America is in many ways insulting. I have many thoughts that need to be collected but in thinking about the vision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and America laid out in this talk and of how us non-omogenia types are viewed I was drawn to the following quote from JRR Tolkien’s Two Towers

    “A strong place and wonderful was Isengard, and long it had been beautiful; and there great lords had dwelt, the wardens of Gondor upon the West, and wise men that watched the stars. But Saruman had slowly shaped it to his shifting purposes, and made it better, as he thought, being deceived – for all those arts and subtle devices for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which fondly he imagined were his own, came but from Mordor; so that what he made was naught, only a little copy, a child’s model or a slave’s flattery, of that vast fortress, armoury prison, furnace of great power, Barad-dûr, The Dark Tower, which suffered no rival, and laughed at flattery, biding it’s time, secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength.”

  3. Chris Banescu says

    There’s so much misdirection and purposeful distortion of the truth that one hardly knows where to begin. I offer instead Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s analysis of this kind of thinking and argumentation:

    What makes, however, this new (not Byzantine but modern) Greek nationalism distinct from other Orthodox nationalisms is the certitude, surviving in it from its “empirial” antecedents, that within all these Orthodox “essences” the Greek “essence” has a primacy, occupies jure divino the first place.

    Having forgotten that it is not “Hellenism” as such but “Christian Hellenism” that constitutes the real unity of Orthodoxy and has a spiritual and eternal “primacy” over all other “expressions,” having identified this “Hellenism” with themselves, the Greeks claim a “primacy” which indeed might have been theirs but on an entirely different presuppositions.

    This is today the fundamental ambiguity of the universal “primacy” in the Orthodox Church. Does it belong to the first among bishops, the whom the “concensus” of all the churches respects, loves and venerates in the person of the Ecumenical Patriarch, or does it belong to the spiritual head and bearer of “Hellenism” whose Christian value and affiliation is as questionable as that of any moderm and half pagan nationalism?


    Sooner or later it will become clear to all that it is not by concentrating on the preservation of “Hellenism,” “Russianism” or “Serbianism” that we will preserve Orthodoxy; but, on the contrary, by preserving and fulfilling the demands of the Church we will salvage all that is essential in all incarnations of the Christian faith and life.

  4. Chris Banescu says

    Found another quote from Fr. Alexander Schmemann that is also on point regarding the kind of defensive reactions evidenced by the memo released by the Chief Secretary of the Holy and Sacred Synod.

    Sooner or later it will become clear to all that the Ecumenical Patriarch, if he is to fulfill his “universal primacy,” will achieve it not by defensive and negative reactions, not by questionable “appeals to equally questionable and inapplicable “precedents” and “traditions,” but by constructive leadership towards the fulfillment by the Church of her essence in every place of God’s dominion.

  5. The Archimandrite makes a provocative if unconvincing argument. Many of his observations about American culture ring true, which makes for a good beginning and builds some good will.

    He argues that ethnic separatism is wrong. Agreed: philetism is a heresy. He then makes the potentially contradictory claim that we should maintain – or at least not be detached from – our culture of origin. He gives particular weight to what he claims is a broadly understood Hellenism, but in fact serves to demand deference to a very particular culture. He claims to value the American experience but then criticizes both the local parish and the “corrective” Athonite monastic movement in the US. (I wonder how the monks on Mt. Athos would respond to these comments.) He demonstrates an appreciation for the contributions of the laity in the US but then asserts a very high view of primacy. It is a view of primacy that would seem to erase or at least significantly diminish any notion of conciliarity. (So much for the wonderful work of Zizioulas and others.) In fact, so far as I can see, there is no good reason given in his argument to stop at Constantinople; the logic chain leads as well – if not better – to Rome. At the end of his address, he quotes the Patriarch of Antioch as something of a proof. Unfortunately it is not a proof, merely an illustration. Quoting St. Ignatios of Antioch would have been much more compelling – but, as I understand the saint’s comments about the (local) bishop would have much better served those with whom the Archimandrite disagrees than his own position.

    That said, he demonstrates NO effort to understand the arguments of those whom he believes are critics of the claims of the Patriarch. And here we come to the purpose of his talk. The intensity of his disagreement with critics frequently substitutes a zealous demeanor and unyielding demands for carefully considered data. His tone exceeds the quality of his argument and suggests some desperation.
    As a result, his attacks rarely addresses the central claims of “the critics.” He seems to simply dismiss them for not subscribing to his quasi-papal view. His claim that his view is the traditional and essential view begs the question; no real evidence is offered. Worse, he often resorts to ad hominem attacks that do no credit to his arguments and unfortunately contradict the Christian character that he should, in his official role at least, embody.

    He makes some claims that don’t square with my understanding of history – but I may be wrong. It is my understanding that most of the autocephalous Churches often “took” their status without the blessing of Constantinople. Either way, the notion that the Patriach finally granted Alexandria such status in 2002 only serves to undermine his purpose further. That it took 1900+ years surely serves his critics’ purposes, not his. (Either that, of the Church in the US can look forward to official blessing for self-rule sometime in the year 3800.)

    He argument ultimately seeks to establish that the health of the Church here depends upon its deference to the Patriarch. Obedience is often a great source of blessing, but that argument is not offered. In the end, the “patrimony” that he claims is intrinsic to the Patriarch of Constantinople alone is not demonstrated – at least in his presentation. He claims that it is essential to the life of the American parish, but does not convincingly demonstrate how. The purpose, however, is clear enough: America should not consider self-governance. (Which is ironic since this is what America is known for and, as the “empire” of the current age, would seem to be have the standing upon which both Old Rome and New Rome asserted their preeminence.) Indeed, he seems so intent on defending the idea of the value of the Patriarch that he fails to address the seemingly transparent reason for his urgency — which is that the opposite is actually true. It is rather the Patriarch who is desperately dependent on the US for political and financial support.

    In the end, his effort to assert the claims of Constantinople and (uncharitably) silence the growing American Church’s desire for increasing self-governance are more urgent than considered, more demanded than demonstrated. And for that, he may have done his cause far more harm than good.

  6. Eliot Ryan says


    It is my understanding that most of the autocephalous Churches often “took” their status without the blessing of Constantinople.

    This is right. Most of the autocephalous Churches often “took” their status with the blessing of a few bishops who escaped the communist holocaust. The Orthodoxy was meant to perish during communism but it did not happen.

    The communist regimes ‘were not friendly’ to
    the Christians. The ordeal undergone by Christians, targeted with particular ferocity reveals consistency and planning. When did it stop and for what reason? One has to wonder how Orthodox is the leadership that emerged after the communism fell. Where and by whom were they formed and educated?

  7. How do you think all the converts at Holy Cross feel when they read this quote from the EP’s chief secretary:

    Another great number of candidates to the priesthood come from converts, who possess little, if any, familiarity with the Orthodox experience and they are usually characterized by their overzealous behavior and mentality. It is of interest that the converts who become ordained into priesthood represent a disproportionally greater percentage than the converts among the faithful. The result of this disanalogous representation is that, more often than not, convert priest shepherd flocks who are bearers of some cultural tradition, but because their pastors either lack the necessary familiarity with that tradition or even consciously oppose it, they succeed in devaluing and gradually eradicating those cultural elements that have been the expression of the parishes that they serve.

    Sorry but the EP does not understand Freedom or America. Somebody should send him a copy of Tocqueville. If you are not part of the omogenia you are a second class citizen of the EP.

    Lets remember too it is in the West that Orthodoxy is Free to live its mission. Constantinople continues to be manipulated by the governement in Istanbul. This is sad…. that they show no resistance is even more of a tragedy.

    If the Chief Secretary is the best and brightest of the EP then we are big trouble.

  8. Harry Coin says

    The author cites and presupposes history and ‘facts’ that can’t be found in the ‘non-fiction’ section of the library.

    Especially perverse was the idea the the Greek archdiocese and churches in America came about through protection and so forth from the little struggling group the author hails from in Turkey that couldn’t fill one of our social halls in Iowa.

    Greeks built churches with zero help and zero money from abroad, indeed having people from them travel to Greece to try to persuade clergy to move here to be pastors. There was no archdiocese, nor diocese, nor any help from the E.P. or the church of Greece insofar as paying for, planning, protecting or doing anything here. Only decades and years and years later the parishes found each other and created affiliations that lead to diocese, decades later archdiocese and so forth — even all of that the patriarchate had nothing to do with, barely being able to show up in the later decades once every many decades to have a party.

    Having been recipients of donations from here to attempt to ensure their survival, those at the EP now wish to bite the hand that feeds them presuming their little group has what it takes to control and lead here. Their attempts and actions in this regard have brought reductions, explosions and losses to date.

    We will not survive, much less grow, under ‘leadership’ from over there, meanwhile our ‘Metropolitans’ here have become their personal property.

    Senior married clergy must be added to the ranks of bishops since women’s health has erased ‘working age widower priest’ from the population since after 1950 or so.

    Or, expect the ‘only never married’ crowd in the leadership such as we see to reduce the ranks of the churches to be little remnant groups who like kool-aid. The end of that game will be a ‘grand declaration of unity with Rome’ — since nobody will be left to cover the pension payments of the failed leadership that remains, wondering what happened to all the ‘Orthodox’.

  9. Elias D. O Mytlinaos says

    Christ is in our midst!

    Having read and reread this article over and over again I can’t but think, why has it taken so long for somebody to speak up?


    To begin I thought the Archimandrite was very kind in regards to his correct assessment of the two American Hierarchs, in particular to the recently installed Metropolitan Jonah of the OCA. Metropolitan Jonah’s paper goes beyond logical and historical thinking into the realm of fiction and fantasy. Not so subtle does he begin to make a point which he now extrapolates to an American Patriarch! Elliot do we dare speak of “a betrayal of the Holy Orthodox Church”.

    What’s next the Patriarchates of Mexico, Canada, South America and The Patriarch of Cuba and All the Caribbean and while we’re at it perhaps a Texan Patriarchate because you know Texans.

    Yes dramatic, yes absurd, but the truth is sometimes absurd, look at the Balkans it’s so ridiculous to think America is close to autonomy, autocephaly or even a patriarchate, it’s practically laughable. The Orthodox Church here in the USA can’t even get themselves to appreciate one another for the beauty we each bring to the table. The OCA talks about America but go to almost any community and you’ll hear as much about pirogues as you do baklava in the Greek communities and guess what, that’s ok. What’s not ok is the overabundant hatred and overt dismal of anything Greek or ‘Ethnic” in the OCA. I know they’re not ethnic in the OCA but the onion domes in the California and Florida are there just in case it snows, right?
    For the record I am and American whose parents came from Greece and I attend an OCA community.

    As for Metropolitan Phillip listen to his interview with Fr Peter Gilquest and you sort of get the idea the man is struggling with issues of his own. Not understanding the extremes of his own priests and why and how to assimilate or project his own identity to the American society or community at large. Perhaps more can and should be said in the future.

    The Church here in America is still immature, that’s the fact! We can hardly walk and some want us to run a marathon. The Archimandrite is correct when he says “The Ecumenical Patriarchate is a Church that undergoes martyrdom, a Church that often has received unfair criticism, especially by those Churches which were most richly benefited by it”.

    Lest we forget the truth in Moscow’s self declaration of autonomy, how convenient. Now it’s ‘child’ is trying so very hard to prove “We were here first so it’s ours!” that like a child not seeing the facts clearly. The missionaries, may God remember them in His Kingdom, were missions in what was still Russia. They had that right but once they went beyond that scope they were breaking Canon laws. Yes saints do that sometimes too, don’t tell anyone but some saints even waited until there death bed to be baptized! The truth is that while Russian missionaries were exercising their rights in Russian, Alaska, Greeks were landing in Spanish Saint Augustine, Florida and elsewhere (not to mention Christopher Columbus was from Genoese, Chios… ‘Greek’). The OCA likes to promote the misguided idea if their “North American Diocese”… whiles it sounds nice; nowhere in the history of Christianity did a church claim an entire continent. This is just cleverly disguised byzantine politics at work. Let’s not forget the Russians were the best at Byzantine diplomacy next to the Byzantines;) Any how I hope to talk further about the OCA’s misguided and distorted views of history and their ridiculous and some might say heretical desire to create an American Patriarchate in future blogs.

    So far as earlier comments left by readers:

    Eliot obviously harbors other Orthodox conspiracy issues. Nowhere does archimandrite discuss Rome. Elliot displays the classic fear tactic of ‘union with Rome’ as the ultimate betrayal. No, sir the ultimate betrayal is the lie which you propagate by suggesting that union equals altering Orthodoxy! Union can only be achieved by the west’s removal of the filioque, acknowledgment of papal infallibility and so on. No where can he or anybody else show that the Church under the leadership of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch has any inclination of doing so. Until you’re in Istanbul, Antioch or Serbia and you’re reciting the Nicene Creed in a church during the Divine Liturgy and the Muslim call to pray is proclaimed over loud speakers intentionally pointed at you… the whole ‘new orthodoxy’ argument is mute.

    Ignatius of Alexandria
    “Be not deceived, my brethren: If anyone follows a maker of schism [i.e., is a schismatic], he does not inherit the kingdom of God; if anyone walks in strange doctrine [i.e., is a heretic], he has no part in the passion [of Christ]. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of his blood; one altar, as there is one bishop, with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons” (Letter to the Philadelphians 3:3–4:1 [A.D. 110]).

    As for Mr. Banescu: The quote “There’s so much misdirection and purposeful distortion of the truth that one hardly knows where to begin” He knows, being an attorney, that argument, wouldn’t go over in court and as a university professor he would never accept that from a student. To claim its wrong, then quote somebody else who is perhaps as articulate and misguided as some theological professors today. Oh my, did I just insult the great Schmemann? Mr. Banescu thinks to prove his point seems adolescent, so he’ll just quote somebody else. I am sure the readers would like to see the misdirection and profuse distortion, as to directly engage in dialogue. An alluring idea, no?

    As for Andrew who is concrened for the ‘converts’ but the safety of a man who lives under the constant threat of assasination perhaps its Andrew who does undertans FREEDOM or AMERICA.

    There is so much more to write…

    Until we speak again

  10. Jim Rentas says

    We are in the midst of the Sacred and Great Lent of 2009. This coming Sunday we will contemplate the message of the Holy Cross and venerate it as we are sustained in the blessings and joy we derive from it and strengthened in the good fight of the fast period. As Orthodox we need to concentrate on and contemplate our personal spirituality with faith in the ever miraculous grace of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon us through His Church.
    With all due respect, the Archmandrite addressed the leadership and student body of Holy Cross with a particular and very pointed message from His Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomeos I. Like many who may read this and are “laypeople”, I ask, how will the Archmandrite’s message impact me? I believe that, as Orthodox, we all have greater concerns as regards responsibilities for our own relation with our Lord as we help sustain the individual communities we call our Church with our time, talent and treasure.
    And then, of course, there are other matters like, oh well, jobs, family, yard work, gutters, children, school, etc.
    In the meantime we are ascending toward Golgatha and truly have enough with which to contend.
    The gates of hell shall not prevail against Orthodoxy. All the more reason for us to adhere to and sustain our Faith.

  11. George Michalopulos says

    I concur with all of the above (esp. Chyrs). Lambrianides’ comments are so self-contradictory that they aren’t even wrong. Calling them wrong would do injury to the very concept of right and wrong. It’s stuff like this that gives sophistry a bad name.

  12. Fr. John W. Morris says

    It is most unfortunate that Archimandrite Elpidophoros Lambriniadis has failed to recognize the essential truth in Metropolitan Philip’s statements on the situation of Orthodoxy in America. His Eminence is well qualified to discuss the needs of American Orthodoxy, because he, more than any other Orthodox leader, has shown an ability to rise above petty ethnic concerns to make a home within Orthodoxy for native born Americans.

    By its failure to rise above its efforts to preserve Greek ethnicism, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has shown that it does not understand the true situation of Orthodox in America. Orthodoxy in America is not a Church in diaspora, but has become an indigenous American Church. The Church in America is no longer an extension of immigrant communities, but is also composed of the descendants of the immigrants whose chief ethnic identification is American. Many parishes are made of people from several ethnic backgrounds. The Church also has more and more converts from Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.

    Canon 28 of Chalcedon gives the Patriarch of Constantinople authority because he presided over the Church in the capital of the Empire, a status Istanbul no longer enjoys. Therefore the case can be made that the claims of Constantinople are anarchism with little relevance to the modern world. However, since we do need someone to act as “first among equals,” there is a place for an Ecumenical Patriarch, provided that he shows himself able to lift above a narrow concern for his own power and shows himself worthy to lead world Orthodoxy.

    To apply the term “barbarian” in the canon to America is at best a misunderstanding of the historical situation behind the canon. The Holy Fathers of the Fourth Council had no idea that such a thing as America existed. To them the “barbarians” were the barbarian tribes that threatened the northern border of the Empire. Historically, America belonged to Moscow because Moscow as the first to exercise jurisdiction in the New World. Significantly, before the Patriarch of Antioch established jurisdiction in America, he asked for and received the blessing of Moscow, the bishops who formed the Metropolia and eventually the OCA, and the Karlowitzi Synod, the forerunner of the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile.

    The Ecumenical Throne has shown little, if any, understanding of American Orthodoxy. When the Ecumenical Patriarch comes to America and serves the Divine Liturgy in English, as has the Patriarch of Antioch, will Constantinople be able to begin to win the allegiance of American Orthodox. As long as Constantinople continues to give the impression that its chief concern is the preservation of Greekness, most Americans will be unable to accept any claims by Constantinople to jurisdiction in America. Thus Metropolitan Philip’s statements are correct and show an understanding of the true needs of the Orthodox Church in this country than Archimandrite Lambriniadis.

    In Christ

    Archpriest John W. Morris, Ph.D., Pastor
    St. George’s Antiochian Orthodox Church
    Vicksburg, Mississippi

  13. Christ is in our midst. He is and always shall be.
    The sentiments posted by elias are thoughtful and considerate in noting that the archimandrite didn’t go far enough. He seems to have a strong foundation in history and church protocol and policy.
    Let us remember that what seperates us from all religions is our humility as Christ the Savior humbled himself by taking on flesh and the cross.

  14. Elias D. O Mytlinaos says

    The Archimandrite is correct!More people should address the issues he points out. Why are the ‘posters’ afraid of true dialogue about the issues, particularly when it comes to the patriarchate? They immediately character assassinate, theologically mischaracterize or falsely point out his unfamiliarity with America or some other ridiculous trait. The points made by false accusations and mistaken history are becoming common place in the lexicon of American Orthodox thought… that’s wrong!

  15. Michael Bauman says

    Time out! It seems as if we are arguing before we even know what we are arguing about. Secondary issues at best. Total Satanic distractions at worst. It is not important what we want, only what God wants. Is that not true?

    Look at the larger picture, i.e., what is happening in the OCA, amongst the Antiochians and now the position of the EP in regard to we American Orthodox. Five issues emerge: 1) The nature of episcopal authority; 2) How should that authority be exercised in this time and place; 3) What is obedience, especially for lay people; 4) What is the proper direction of the American Church; 5) How is the American Orthodox Church going to evangelize this country or do we even bother to try?

    It is significant to me that all of our major bishops are forcing us to look at these questions–ALL of them. That cannot be a coincidence. Sure, right now in a room of 10 Orthodox believers there will probably be 15 or 20 answers to those questions and emotions obviously run high. Nevertheless the fact that all of our bishops are calling even demanding that we face these issues and find answers cannot be ignored. The battle has begun, the Holy Spirit is upon us. Old formulas are no longer applicable. We must work together in Christ to discover the truth. If we do so with love and humility, the Holy Spirit will make known to us what we should do. Then and only then will be have something to which we must be obedient.

    As an Antiochian attempting to address these questions because of the recent ruling from our Synod in Damascus I’ll share a little of the process I’ve gone through. Shock, anger, confusion came first–none of those are helpful. Last night my own bishop said this to me: “Hold your peace! Don’t ignore the problems or be silent, but maintain your peace.” With that in mind and in an attempt to be obedient to his word here are some questions I continue to ask myself:

    1) What is the foundation of a bishop or Synod’s authority? What is the extent of that authority? Is a bishop’s or Synod’s authority absolute or conditional? If it is conditional, what are the conditions that limit or abrogate that authority? What are the principals that govern the interaction of various bishops and Synods?

    2) What is the Patristic and Scriptural understanding of how a bishop should lead (exercise his authority). Is the bishop a commander or a shepard or both? Does he issue orders or does he give himself to God so that God may be given to those with whom he is entrusted?

    3) Is obedience for lay people simply a matter of doing as the bishop or priest says, or is it more subtle more profound and more difficult than that?

    4) Who are we as American Orthodox right now, what is our real state? Who does God want us to be? How do we get from where we are to where God wants us, generally and specifically? What can I, should I, must I do to allow God’s will to manifest in the Church?

    5)Unless we diligently work on issues 1-4 we already have the answer to #5: We won’t bother! We won’t even bother because we will be so hamstrung by our own refusal to live in the Church, there will be no good news to share, only the false triumphalism based on a mythic past. Oh, the Church will continue to live, but we won’t be a part of it.

    Obviously even the questions we ask tend to reveal our own bias but unless we pose the proper questions, we will not receive real answers. Unless we engage with one another in a positive Christian manner, we will continue to fragment. We cannot assume we know the answers like Zacharias in the Temple. We must ask sincerely as Mary did of Gabriel.

    I am sure of one thing; fragmentation is NOT what God wants of us. Fragmentation only reflects the nilhism of our age and has no part in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Facing what our bishops are telling us we must face is not a distraction from our Lenten journey, it is our Lenten journey. Truly we must all offer up our prejudices, desires, passions, opinions and ourselves on the Cross if we are to see the Truth.

    “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered…”

  16. Eliot Ryan says

    Elias D. O Mytlinaos:

    Nowhere does archimandrite discuss Rome. Elliot displays the classic fear tactic of ‘union with Rome’ as the ultimate betrayal.

    “May the Lord make us worthy to see the resurrection of unity of His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”

    are the words of Patriarch Bartholomew. Read carefully the first comment.

    No, sir the ultimate betrayal is the lie which you propagate by suggesting that union equals altering Orthodoxy!

    The Catholic West should came home humble and admit that they were wrong. The Orthodox Church preserved the whole TRUTH and paid blood for it. It did not sell anything for money. The Catholics wanted both wealth and truth (small t).

    No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (wealth in some other translations).

    Yes sir, union equals altering Orthodoxy!

    What conspiracy issues are you talking about?
    I pointed out facts and logical questions! See:

  17. Steve Tinker says

    If there were to be a single head of the world-wide Orthodox Church, it should be the Patriarch of Moscow.

    BTW, it took about 250 years for the EP to recognize the ROC as an independant church.

    He also forgot to mention that until the 1920s, all Orthodox churches in the US were united under the ROC. It was after the communists took power that the EP started his power grab. And he’s also doing it in the Ukraine where he succeeded in splitting the church there.

  18. George Michalopulos says

    Elias D, are you related to the O’Mytlinaos’s of County Kerry? It’s a fine Irish name you got there, try not to drop the apostrophe.

  19. Elias D. O Mytlinaos says

    May the frost never afflict your spuds.
    May the leaves of your cabbage always be free from worms.
    May the crows never pick your haystack.
    If you inherit a donkey, may she be in foal.

    Wherever you go and whatever you do,
    May the luck of the Irish be there with you.

  20. Chris Banescu says

    And just what exactly did Elias contribute with post #20? Not sure whether off-topic detours like these (regardless of their humor) should be allowed to distract from the level of discussion we strive to achieve here.

  21. Eliot Ryan says

    Steve Tinker:

    It was after the communists took power that the EP started his power grab. And he’s also doing
    it in the Ukraine where he succeeded in splitting the church there.

    This is the trend: unity with Rome which will cause the
    splitting the Orthodox Church!

    Cardinal Sepe Visits Bartholomew I, Patriarch Expresses Gratitude for Unity Efforts:

    If there were to be a single head of the world-wide Orthodox Church, it should be the Patriarch of Moscow.

    The Orthodox Church does not have a single head. Christ is alive and He leads the Church. There is no need for a vicar of Christ. The structure of power in the Orthodox Church is what gives stranght to it. The gates of hell led by Satan figured it out that this is what he has to change to prevail against it.

  22. Eliot Ryan says

    Chris Banescu:

    Post #20 enables us to assess Elias D. O
    Mytlinaos’ spirituality.

  23. Photini Henderson says

    Give a guy a break, gang! It is totally understandable contextually. Money’s tight. And political bedfellows lost their vigor, so what else is there but send the boys choir on a world tour, trying to rally enough of the old fans to bring back the golden hits.

    Remember, Obama hasn’t just waffled on right to life issues, he’s also apparently no longer so sunnily disposed to Greek support. We shouldn’t be pushing to have Turkey’s transgressions against human dignity and civil rights examined if we’re not willing to do the same for the parishioners who live in the U.S. Obama’s prolife choice isn’t off the GOA standard of prominent legislators of the GOA. We want to preserve Orthodoxy? Why not then be Orthodox. But what is Orthodoxy now, given the contradictions in canon, morals, and ethics? If we are known by our fruits, (no pun intended) then Orthodoxy is a misnomer.

  24. Harry Coin says

    Does anyone else remember, during the Truman administration I think it was, the Turkish government wouldn’t let the EP back in after he’d left on a trip. So the Greek Orthodox in America lobbied the President of the US and he put the EP on Air Force One and had it land in Turkey.

    Now we have bouzoukia in Turkey wanting to make decisions for us on the basis they are speaking about how we here were under their protection.

    Either they’ve got to start working with actual history and consent to let us manage our own affiars while accepting our support or we’ve got to leave them behind in rooms with padded walls for the sake of our own survival.

  25. Scott Pennington says

    I’m breaking a self imposed withdrawal to post this given the almost comic nature of the above article.

    Being a parishioner at a Greek Orthodox Church, but not being Greek at all, I had the following reaction to the Very Reverend Archimandrite, Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis’s address quoted above. It’s an old Sicilian proverb: “Don’t demand what you can’t take.”

    Now, I have a great deal of respect for Greek culture (and Russian and Serbian and Arab Orthodox culture) so I don’t want this comment to be taken as being anti-Hellenic; however, the hubris involved in Lambrianiadis’s address is very thick and deserves a very candid reply.

    Greece itself, presently, is a little third tier EU country. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is an ancient See whose total adherents in Turkey number a few thousand at most. The EP is practically under house arrest. His greatest possession is the GOA of America. He wishes to expand is influence, ostensibly by mischaracterizing Canon 28 and asserting his right to do so in a number of territories, some of which have historically fallen to other Patriarchates. He does so for money and influence in the world which might alleviate his political situation and because he apparently believes that the Orthodox Church is a Greek owned and operated business.

    Moreover, far from being a great defender of traditional Orthodoxy in the United States, it is common knowledge among all the Orthodox here that the Greek churches are far and away the most Westernized and lax in their discipline.

    Lastly, those who question concerns about the ecumenical ambitions of the EP with respect to Rome ought to consider recent history. If the monks of Mt. Athos are willing to go on record with a list of criticisms against the EP, and if we can all agree that they represent an icon of traditional Orthodoxy, and if one of those criticisms was the reception by the EP of the Pope with honors reserved for a canonical Orthodox bishop, then it is not too far fetched to assert that the EP wishes to become a kind of “eastern Pope” (especially in light of the above address) and that he might pursue an unprincipled reunion with Rome.

    Now, the largest Orthodox church in the world is the Russian Orthodox Church. If you think that the ROC takes this sort of drivel seriously, then I have a bridge for you to look at.

  26. Michael Bauman says

    Photini Henderson said: “Why not then be Orthodox. But what is Orthodoxy now, given the contradictions in canon, morals, and ethics? If we are known by our fruits, (no pun intended) then Orthodoxy is a misnomer.”

    As long as the Church is still producing saints (and she is) they are our fruits–those who have decided to be Orthodox. The rest is the normal fruits of sin that will be with us until Jesus comes again.

    The Church has always been a raucous place in which people are free to work out their salvation (or not). It would seem to me that one of Ben Franklin’s comments concerning secular government could apply here as well: “Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither.”

    Legalistic order imposed from above is no solution and is not Orthodox (at least in my probably arrogant opinion). An OCA priest whom I respect greatly frequently makes the comment that we have a weak ecclesiology in the sense that it is founded around the Cross: we as sinners coming to the Cross in the hope of the Resurrection. To me that means that the sacredotal duty of the hierarchy is to facilitate we sinners access to the Cross through the Sacraments, Divine Services, guidance and prayer. Our obedience is certainly central to that process, but only in the context of helping us conform our lives to the teachings of the Church and uniting with Christ and that goes on local and personal, not national, international and impersonal.

    I have a real tough time understanding how demanded and coerced obedience to a massive distant bureaucracy fits within the Orthodox Church.

  27. George Michalopulos says

    Scott and Photini’s arguments are the best summation I’ve heard yet on Lambrianides’ poorly reasoned comments (as well as the modus operandi of the ecumenical patriarchates’ contretemps) throughout the last twenty or so years.

  28. What an article. I will have to read it 8 times to understand it all.

    I am not as learned as the archimandrite or those who have posted comments. I will speak from experience. I was a member of an ethnic Greek Orthodox church for 13 years. I do not go there any more. I am a proud member of The OCA. Not, the so-called OCA.

    All of the bad things Archimandrite Lambrinidis said about parish life I have seen primarily in ethnic parishes. All the good things he wants to see in a parish I have only seen in OCA parishes, with convert priests and convert parishioners.

    By the way, I am a cradle Orthodox, of Greek descent. However, on several occasions, I have been accused of being a convert.

    I want no part of the archimandrites “vision” of Orthodoxy in America. Thanks, but no thanks.

  29. Ron Brotzman says

    I find the article in question to be very insulting to us converts. I came to Orthodoxy for several reasons, well reasoned and faith based. I am sorry that I am seen by the author as someone less than his hellinistic ideal. The time has come that all the Orthodox churches unite in the US under a common American Patriarch. As with Moscow it will take generations to be recognized. The church of Constantinople has ceased to exist except in memory. If there is a true head of the church, then it should fall to Moscow, the Third Rome. The EP’s actual jurisdiction could end any day by Turkush fiat. Just as Constantinople was recognized as the second Rome by an Ecumenical council, so now a further recoginition should be made, that Constantinople will never rise again, and that the leadership should be moved as it once was before. The title is one of designation by a council, not one of historical and unchangeable rule.

  30. Michael Bauman says

    I have a friend who is what we call a ‘cradle’ Orthodox–generation upon generation. I have frequently heard him say that we all have to be converts to be Orthodox. He considers himself a convert.

    Now that’s an Orthodox attitude isn’t it?

  31. Steve Robinson says

    His speech reminds me of a statement made by Mp. Anthony GOA Western Diocese (memory eternal)at a college conference a few years ago, “Hellenism is the light of the world”. My son came home and said “Don’t we believe that Christ is the light of the world?” sigh.

  32. Irene Matta says

    I’ve looked, but cannot find a city called “Constantinople” anywhere on the map. As Archimandrite Tikhon’s documentary “Fall of An Empire” relates, Moscow is indeed the Third Rome and is rising to the Holy Spirit’s Orthodox missionary efforts to this generation here in America.

  33. Fr. Jonathan Tobias says

    I think it has been said, somewhere, that “by their fruits you shall know them.”

    Fruitfulness — in the New Testament at least, and also the Fathers — simply means theosis, and a culture that is conducive to the same. It also requires self-denial for faith: especially self-denial on the part of leadership.

    I’m sure I risk being called naive, but it seems embarrassing to press one’s claims for primacy in a religion predicated on divine (and human) kenosis.

    But aside from that peculiar point, the fruitfulness of the hellenists bears examination. I’ll pass over sociological analyses. I like to look, instead, at how they portray their own future. Few things are more revealing, even exhibitionistic, than a judicatory’s forecast of goals and aspirations.

    The ecumen has made such a statement. On 15 July 2007, in Constantinople (I was there), the Secretary of the 2nd International Orthodox Youth Conference of the Ecumenical Patriarchate read the “Conclusions of the Conference.” (If you’re brave enough, and insomniac enough, you can read it here.)

    I should say something about these “Conclusions.” They are written in the first person, giving the impression that the world Orthodox youth community were making these sentences into some tepid manifesto. What really went on was the Secretary scratching notes from all the presentations, which ranged from a few good ones, to many that I would have thought could have emerged more natively from a mainline Protestant gathering.

    The Conclusions were drafted from the Secretary’s own pen. You see the usual existential fogging of dogma, the customary endorsements of egalitarian fraternity, the implicit rejection of dogmatic exclusion, and certainly no clarity on moral issues like abortion, homosexuality and cohabitation.

    These Conclusions are important, because they really do present themselves as the ecumen’s map of the future. This report reveals a practical agenda at work.

    And the Secretary’s name, who wrote these Conclusions?

    You guessed it.

  34. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Just a historical note:

    “Istanbul” is the Arabic pronunciation of the Greek phrase: E steen polee, or in English: “the city.” Arabic changes the p to a hard b thus: e steen boulee — or Istanbul in English.

    If you’ve ever lived around New York City for example, you never say “I am going into New York City”; you say “I’m going to the city”.

  35. Ron Brotzman says

    I reread the archimandrite’s irritating article again this morning. I found that it said nothing about Christ and His church, it only had to do with man’s self-serving goals and cultural pride, arrogance and will. I cannot say how hurtful this article was to me in my dedication to the church. His criticism of Mt Jonah and Met. Philip was unfounded and pedestrian, if not down right anti-Christian

  36. Scott Pennington says

    Actually, though I am a Slavophile and Russophile, it might be better, if the first place were moved, to move it to Jerusalem. That is where the Resurrection occured and that was the first Church.

    Historically, it does make sense to move the first place to Moscow if you look at it from the point of view of political power and martyrdom. Rome held the primacy because it was an imperial city and because Sts. Peter and Paul were martyred there. Rome, of course, lapsed into heresy.

    Constantinople was the New Rome, the new capital of the Roman Empire. When Rome fell away, primacy fell to it (by “primacy” I only mean the first among equals position and those perogatives granted by Councils).

    As Ms. Matta pointed out above, you can’t find Constantinople on a map today. It’s not even the capital of Turkey. The conditions there for Christians are well known.

    Russia suffered more martyrdom in the past century than all of the pre-Constantinian Church. One could say that the United States is a kind of capital of the world (although we’ve never really been a global hegemon and our power is waning). But America is not an Orthodox country. Russia is being reborn as an Orthodox country and about two thirds of its people are at least nominally Orthodox.

    That being said, empires rise and fall. While I sympathize with the Third Rome idea, no one knows the political fate of great powers. No one outside could look to Moscow as leader for over seventy years because of the damage to and coercion of the ROC by militant, atheistic communists.

    Perhaps it would be wiser to locate primacy in the Mother of all Mother Churches. I’m not married to the idea, but it bears consideration.

  37. Scott Pennington says

    By the way, Fr. Jacobse, I didn’t know that about the etymology of Istanbul. I always thought that it was a Turkish or Arabic corruption of Constantinople, just like Iskandar is a corruption of Alexander.

    You live and learn.

  38. Eliot Ryan says

    Ron Brotzman:

    I found that it said nothing about Christ and His church, it only had to do with man’s self-serving goals and cultural pride, arrogance and will.

    This is what I noticed after I read this long article. I searched how many times the name of our Lord appears. I found it twice:

    The Mother Church of Constantinople safeguards for the Orthodox Church in America those provisions that are needed for further progress and maturity in Christ.

    The proof of this emerges in the most decisive manner throughout the 17 centuries of its history, during which it never Hellenized, not even attempted to Hellenize the nations to which it gave through its apostolic missions the undying light of Christ.

    Now that we pointed it out he will correct this in the future.

    As for Metropolitan Phillip if you listen to his interview with Fr Peter Gilquist you’ll notice the same thing. He struggling with issues of his own: the seminarians should feel good about their bishop, his accomplishments and so on. Not much about Christ. He said that Met. Jonah kept saying that we must preach the Gospel of Christ.

  39. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Note 38. Yes, “Istanbul” is an Arabic variation of the Greek term “the City” (or “in/to the city” depending on the question being answered). Thus, the next question is “which city?” The correct answer is “Constantine’s City” (“City-of-Constantine” — Konstanteen-ou-polee in Greek; ou indicates the possessive “of”). “Constantinople” in other words, is still the legitimate name in historical terms.

  40. Eliot Ryan says

    Scott Pennington:

    Historically, it does make sense to move the first place to Moscow if you look at it from the point of view of political power and martyrdom.

    There is no doubt that “the focus of purpose and discipline that followers of the communist ideology”
    practiced in the former communist countries produced a large number of martyrs (not sure if more than all of the pre-Constantinian Church).

    However, Patriarch Bartholomew I and Patriarch Kirill are one mind. On the occasion of Patriarch Kirill’s enthronement in Moscow on Feb. 1, Bartholomew I “expressed the hope that this event will be a step forward toward the celebration of “The Great and Holy Synod” that gathers together all the Orthodox Churches.” 13 days later, on February 13, Inter-Orthodox Secretary Archpriest Nikolay Balashov reminded that preparations for the Council started in 1960 and after 30 years “unfortunately, they were suspended, but not through the Russian Church fault

    Fr. Nikolay also “reminded that last autumn at the Istanbul meeting between primates of all Orthodox Churches Patriarch Kirill (then Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad – IF) “actively and largely contributed” in taking decisions to lead preparatory work out of the deadlock”.

  41. Scott Pennington says

    “not sure if more than all of the pre-Constantinian Church”

    It was. From New Martyrs article here at AOI:

    “Twentieth-century Christians surely have particular reason to reflect on the centrality of martyrdom, for ours has been pre-eminently an age of martyrs,” writes Bishop Kallistos of Diokelia in his essay “The Seed of the Church.”

    “The ordeal undergone by contemporary believers — in the Soviet Union after 1917, in Ethiopia after 1974, to mention but two examples — makes the persecution of the early Church in the Roman Empire, even under Diocletian, appear relatively mild and humane,” the Bishop writes. “In the past sixty years incomparably more Christians have died as martyrs for their faith than in the whole of the three hundred years following the Crucifixion.”

    “However, Patriarch Bartholomew I and Patriarch Kirill are one mind.”

    They may both, in general, be supportive of another Great and Holy Synod. However, I think there is very little that they are “of one mind” on.

  42. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Look, Constantinople is the “first among equals” in Orthodox ecclesiology. There is simply no question about this. The Patriarch of Constantinople is deserving of this respect and has particular authority because of it.

    The assertion that all the Orthodox in America must come under the authority of Constantinople because of this claim to primacy however, is another matter entirely. Much debate centers on Canon 28, and as the articles on the main page of AOI attest, Constantinople’s interpretation is hardly met with universal consensus.

    That said, some of the Archimandrite’s complaints in his piece are accurate. Yet, again, this is hardly justification for Constantinople’s assertion that it should have jurisdiction over the American Orthodox Church. Some of those complaints might just be growing pains.

    In many ways we are novices at integrating the dynamics of American culture into our Orthodox faith. Some of the dynamics are good, some bad, but some of the good actually dovetails quite well with Orthodox values — it’s that “Hellenism” thing actually, although we should distinguish between the Hellenistic values inherent in Orthodoxy and the “Greekification” that is subsumed under the same term.

    By the grace of God we will work through it.

    My objection lies in the fact that the Constantinopolitan vision is not really working well in the GOA. GOA attrition rates are quite high. It’s a graying Church. It seems to me that before we buy the program, we should first see if it works. (How’s that for a good dose of American pragmatism?)

    For example, GOA inter-marriage rates (Greek Orthodox-Christian) run at 80% (some say it is closer to 90%). Out of that 80%, only 20% are retained. There are different reasons why this occurs, but a chief one is the conflation between ethnic identity and the Gospel. It really is a huge problem for the GOA in terms of self-identity.

    And it affects the Greeks themselves, especially yia-yia and papou (grandma and grandpa). Ask them if their children are still Orthodox and most of them will say no. Ask them why, and they will tell you that for one reason or another the non-Orthodox spouse never could call it home. It breaks their heart. Some parishes in the GOA are exceptions, but not enough to make a dent in the numbers.

    I am not anti-tradition or anti-ethnic guy. In fact, I love the Byzantine tradition. After 25 years it has sunk into my bones, just as the Slavic tradition has sunk into the bones of others. I comprehend some the lyric beauty of the Greek language in the services. I can do services in both Greek and English in ways that minister to both native Greek speakers (an ever diminishing minority) and native English speakers. In fact, I agree with the Archimandrite that at least some knowledge of Greek is indispensable for teaching the Scriptures.

    What I can’t do is bring Americans seeking Christ into this environment. If they are non-Greek spouses the job is a lot easier, but the people I meet seeking our Savior who would benefit greatly from our Orthodox faith, either can’t make the cultural jump, or are never really accepted. If the priest accepts them they can deal with the dislocation fairly well. If you have a priest who treats them with the soft disdain that invariably arises when ethnic identity is conflated with Orthodoxy’s apostolic mission to bring the Gospel to all nations however, well, it’s a boatload more difficult.

    The Archimandrite doesn’t seem to understand this at all.

  43. Scott Pennington says

    “Look, Constantinople is the “first among equals” in Orthodox ecclesiology. There is simply no question about this. The Patriarch of Constantinople is deserving of this respect and has particular authority because of it.”

    This is currently true but need not be in the future if a Great and Holy Synod chose to change it. I’m not saying that this is likely, but it is possible. Constantinople was not the first among equals for the entire first millenium. It acquired the position by default. The criteria used by the Council that set the order could be looked to by another Council to change that order. It was not decided on theological or doctrinal grounds but mostly on the basis of practical power.

  44. Eliot Ryan says

    Scott Pennington:

    They may both, in general, be supportive of another Great and Holy Synod. However, I think there is very little that they are “of one mind” on.

    An 8th Ecumenical Synod may be great (large number of participants) but not Holy. Patriarch Bartholomew I and Patriarch Kirill (regarded as a modernizer) are both ecumenists. Fr. Justin Popovich, a great Serbian theologian said that the Ecumenism is the pan-heresy of the 20th century.
    The Orthodox Church recognizes the Seven Ecumenical Synods, (the seven pillars of Orthodoxy) of the One Undivided Ecumenical Church which took place between the 4th and 8th centuries.

    Saint Seraphim of Sarov said very clearly:

    There will come a time when under the guise of the progress of the church and Christianity, but in order to please the desires of the world, they will be changing and twisting the dogmas and rules of the Holy Church, forgetting that their beginning is with the very Lord Jesus Christ who taught and gave instructions to his disciples – the Holy Apostles – about the constructing of the Church of Christ and about her rules, commanding them,
    “Since then until now the rules and traditions of the Holy Apostles that have reached us have been preserved, being also explained and definitively confirmed once and for all by those who inherited them – Holy Fathers who were governed by the Holy Spirit at the Ecumenical Councils.”

    Many other synods were attempted but not recognized as Holy Synods. One example is the attempted false union of the 1439 pseudo-Synod of Florence. I cannot say enough about this. The Truth is a matter of life or death. It is a matter of eternal life or eternal punishment.

    The synod seems to be due soon:
    Orthodox synod due in June and December
    “Invitation letters have gone out to Orthodox churches to convene a grand Pan-Orthodox Synod in Istanbul. This would be the first since 1901” (here is implied that every one hundred years a synod is due).

    Here is a part of its agenda, something that St Seraphim of Sarov warned us about:

    7. The question of fasting in the contemporary world.
    8. Relationships with the other Christian confessions.
    9. The ecumenical movement (not heresy).
    10. The contribution of the Orthodox in affirming the Christian ideals of peace, fraternity, and freedom.

  45. Fr. Isaac Farha says

    It is good to have experience in the Orthodox Church before going to seminary. It is good to have experience in the monastery before becoming a hermit. Experience is what the Orthodox Church is all about. All the American saints have this experience and many of them came from Russia. Russia is over a 1000 years old in its Orthodoxy and if it decides to grant autocephaly to the OCA ought it be able to do so? What then do we do about the Orthodox in the Greek Archdiocese, or Orthodox in the Antiochian Archdiocese or the OCA. How do we go about unity in the country? The man did make a good point about inexperienced priests being exhalted over those in their own parish who may have more ethos/culture/experience as parishioners then the priest may have. I think this is indeed a problem in any given Orthodox Church when its priest has less experience than his own parishioners. But, then the question is why are those who have so much experience, as parishioners, not going to the seminaries themselves? How can such a parishioner complain if they themselves aren’t doing anything about it? “Many are called, but few are chosen”. Archimandrite Sophrony interpets this to mean that many are called but few actually answer the call. And Christ says himself that the fields are ripe for harvest “but, few are the laborers”. You who have been raised in the Church and have made the Church your own are to be stepping up to the plate with those coming into the Church later on in life. There are many people who’ve been in the Church their entire lives that could be priests who for whatever reason choose a secular job. How then can you complain when a convert priest is given blessing to pastor a parish? It would behoove all of us according to our experience in the Orthodox Church to humbly address one another and not to be exalted over each other.

    If converts weren’t allowed to be priests there’d be that many less and we need priests period be it cradle or convert.

    Those who are born and raised are both cradle and convert and for that reason ought not be exalted over the convert who came to Orthodoxy after becoming and adult. And as converts we ought not exalt ourselves over those who’ve been hard at the job long before we entered into it. We respect employees who’ve been at a particular business for a while don’t we? (maybe not in America), ought we not respect those vessels who have been recieving the Body and Blood of Christ for longer periods than we have? Is there no reverence from a new comer to those who have been faithful parishioners in confessing sins and receiving the mysteries? (I’m not talking about Russia nor Constantinople, I’m talking about the person)…If we don’t then we overlook the energies that have been recieved by such vessels/persons. As Orthodox, no matter who we are we are to be humble, striving to be humble people.

    We ought all be humble and not let pride deter us from blessing and unity. There are many American saints. We can be greatly benefitted from their prayers as Orthodox in America.

    Fr. Isaac

  46. Ron Brotzman says

    Fr Isaac: I take your words to heart, but I do not think that experience is the only criterion. I have seen the enthusiasm, the dedication of young and old, new priests and their desire to lead a congregation. Experience is one test but there are many others. The archimandrite seems to be saying that experience coupled with ethnicity is the combination to make a preist a good priest. I respectfully disagree. There are good and bad priests, the test is of the man who fills the position of pastor of his church.

  47. Irene Matta says

    My point about the non-existent city of Constantinople was simply that the patriarchate presides over a mere historical footprint left by the former “new rome”. How can canons meant for this non-city still be in effect? His very election is predicated on the approval of God’s enemies, the Turks! God has given them an opportunity to be humbled, and they refuse it seems. The Canons do state that the Mother church sending missionaries to new regions control the “daughter” churches which result. Moreover, we have blessed martyrs in Alaska which, we believe, is the Lord’s Grace upon the Russian Church’s efforts in America. The OCA is the one Church with English services – not clinging to a “lingua sacra” (note the use of Latin by the Archimandrite a la Rome). We can refuse to play into the rampant Phylitism of today, but the Lord Jesus warned us of this “rise of ethnics (nations)” in the Last Days. Jurisdictional diversity allows us to choose whom we would follow – as we search out the “Right-believing Bishops” who teach Christ’s life-giving doctrines!

  48. George Michalopulos says

    Fr Isaac, bless. I agree w/ Ron. Although your point is valid, the archimandrite’s concerns are not as pure as yours. This is evident when he uses “culture” as a club to beat these convert priests over the head, yet in the next breath says that the “Hellenic” model is best for the Church in America because it is not a culture but presumably, beyond culture and even “nationalism”! This is absurd. What he really is saying is that only the EP has the right way to govern these silly little ethnic parishes. I could go on but you get the point.

  49. Macedonian Orthodox says

    Why are we up in arms again? The questions posed by Father Elpidophoros and some of the posters aren’t really in question. They’ve been answered for us already.

    Forgive me.

  50. Eliot Ryan says

    I found a very interesting book
    closely related to what is being discussed here:
    I quote:

    But this growth in converts to Orthodoxy from the Western confessions has taken place not thanks to, but in spite of, the preaching of the official Orthodox Churches. For how often have potential converts to Orthodoxy been dissuaded from joining by the Orthodox hierarchs themselves! Even when already Orthodox, these neophytes from the West have often been made to feel like second-class citizens who cannot really know the mystery of Orthodoxy because of their “western mentality”.

    And so we can define the essence of ecumenism as indifference to religious truth, or, in its extreme manifestations, the absence of faith in the existence of objective truth generally. In the words of Metropolitan Philaret of New York in his Sorrowful Epistle to Patriarch Athenagoras, ecumenism “places a sign of equality between error and truth”.

    In this book you can find:


    I. The Heretical Encyclical of 1920.
    II. The Uncanonical Election of Meletius Metaxakis.
    III. The EP’s uncanonical annexation of vast territories belonging to the Russian and Serbian Churches.
    IV. The EP’s communion with the Russian renovationist heretics and uncanonical deposition of ROCOR Bishops.
    V. The EP’s false “Pan-Orthodox” Council of 1923 and acceptance of the uncanonical papist calendar in 1924.
    VI. The participation of the EP in the World Council of Churches.
    VII. The Apostasy of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras.
    VIII. The EP’s “Lifting of the Anathemas” on the Roman Papacy.
    IX. The EP’s Heretical “Thyateira Confession”.
    X. The EP’s Participation in “Super Ecumenism”.

  51. Scott Pennington says

    “Why are we up in arms again?”

    You know, that’s a very good question. I’d rather not be up in arms about this type of thing. I’d rather not have to read about turf wars between Constantinople and Moscow over the Ukraine and Estonia. I’d rather not have to read about turf wars here over the “uncanonical” OCA or how the other jurisdictions here should see the light and come under Constantinople.

    But up in arms we are. Which brings us back to that old Sicilian saying, “Don’t demand what you can’t take.” There’s no real reason for Rev. Elpidophoros or the EP to throw gasoline on the fire in the way he did in his above address. As a practical matter, they have no way to make the other jurisdictions here do anything at all. Moreover, the condescending and insulting tone which Rev. Elpidophoros takes in his talk may not be calculated to provoke negative reaction in those who do not agree with him, but anyone who reviewed his speech before he made it could tell you that it would provoke such reaction.

    “The questions posed by Father Elpidophoros and some of the posters aren’t really in question. They’ve been answered for us already.”

    The matters Father Elpidophoros and the EP alledge to be settled clearly aren’t since Metropolitan Jonah and Metropolitan Phillip, and their Churches, do not agree.

    The lack of respect Father Elpidophoros shows seems to stem from some sense of entitlement to dictate policy which reminds many of us very much of Roman tendencies.

    Nonetheless, I suppose we really shouldn’t take it seriously at all. Many may listen to such speeches but the other jurisdictions have no good reason to conform to this vision – – and won’t. He’s preaching to only a part of even his own choir.

  52. Tray D. Sional says

    “Paradosis” is a rich word that describes something passed on–whether cultural, or in the context of our Church, what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ passed on to mankind through the Holy Spirit, His Blessed Church and our Holy Traditions. The symbiosis of “paradosis” when viewed in the light of Hellenism and Orthodoxy is a fascinating subject–especially for us in the “new world” that seeks to extol and celebrate that image in “His Likeness.”

    The following link is from the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s website–it comprises a list of all the Ecumenical Patriarchs that have served the Holy Orthodox Church. Take a few minutes and reflect on the same–imagine the myriads of controversies,challenges and martyrdom so many of these hierarchs and their respective flock faced: .

    If we have a large pitcher containing a glass of orange juice and continue to add water to it–eventually the juice becomes diluted eventually losing it flavor, hue, texture and nutrutional value. Dilution, NOT of an ethnic nor cultural nature, is part of the diabolical plan Satan has in motion. Dilution on its surface may appear to be as benign. Characterization of a need to hold onto ethnic/cultural aspects is a surface concern. What is really afoot is more clever and deceptive.

    There is nothing sinister to preserve the language of the “Gospels,” nor paedia/education as tempered by Orthodoxy. The goal for us all is “theosis” and using certain tools doesn’t guarantee the result, but makes the journey a mystical and desirous experience. I marvel how children and adults yearn and learn for the strange language of “Harry Potter,” “Star Wars,” “The Lion King” and other Hollywood byproducts yet cringe to learn the etymology and deeping meaning of words like “A-ghios,” or “Pneuma,” or “Aghio Pneuma.” What incredible richness, depth and meaning–what “paradosis” unfolds before us when coupled with fasting, prayer and partaking of the Mysteries and our Blessed Sacraments.

    Our physical earth is undergoing dramatic change wrought by the way we live in the modern world. There is an echoing call in the west to return to a simpler way life. The dilution each soul faces has also undergone dramatic change wrought by the way we live today. We too must return back to a simpler way of life. Put yourself within the shoes of the Ecumenical Patriarch–a link in this long chain of Orthodox “paradosis.” Are we really so naive to think he’s concerned about earthly “of the world” ends–power and authority?

    As a lawyer and law professor in Washington, I’ve been blessed to know many clerks that worked in the Supreme Court and have personal accounts of how judges come to the Supreme Court with certain bias and views and dramatically change once they realize the import and affect their office has–think of what it means to be the Ecumenical Patriarchate–what awesome responsibility and import it bears–which many try to strip away to the chagrin of the Patriarchate’s Kemalist overlords.

    There is an old Greek saying that when the giant oak tree falls it is easy for everyone to pillage and take a part of it. The Ecumenical Patriarchate finds itself in troubling circumstances with external forces seeking its extermination and even more worrisome, an internal pillaging.

    Pride is the mother of all sin and it is pride that beckons changes that add more dilutive water to the essence that sustains, nurtures and continues Christ’s “paradosis.”

  53. Scott Pennington says


    “Are we really so naive to think he’s concerned about earthly “of the world” ends–power and authority?”

    Yes, and it’s not naivete. You give the man far too much credit.

    If you’re suggesting he’s preserving this paradosis by allowing his GOA to become the most modernized, westernized jurisdiction in terms of practices, then I think you’ve lost me. If you’re suggesting that he’s preserving this paradosis by suggesting the converts who graduate from Holy Cross are not competent to lead parishes where a large percentage of parishioners are native Greeks, then that is an internal problem of Holy Cross. It is their incompetence, not that of the converts they train.

    There is no need whatsoever to learn to read Greek, Slavonic, or any other language besides ones own, in order to be an Orthodox layman – although for spiritual reasons, or for mere curiousity, one might make the effort.

    “. . . think of what it means to be the Ecumenical Patriarchate–what awesome responsibility and import it bears–which many try to strip away to the chagrin of the Patriarchate’s Kemalist overlords.”

    It’s not about stripping power away from the EP. It’s about the EP adding powers to his office to which he’s not entitled (again, somewhat like Rome).

    I’m really not sure exactly what you mean by dilution. I’m not sure what you consider to be analogous to pure orange juice. However, to me that orange juice is the Orthodox faith, whether it is wrapped in Koine Greek, Byzantine Greek, Slavonic, Arabic, etc. is almost totally irrelevant.

    It is a common criticism, but bears repeating: If the Greeks were half as concerned about preserving traditional Orthodox morality and practices as they are about preserving Greek cultural phenomena such as teaching modern Greek, making baklava and spanikopita, celbrating Greek National Holidays, doing Greek dances, etc., then they would be much closer to God, wouldn’t lose so many of their children to other churches, and might even be successful at fulfilling the Great Commission.

    Not all Greeks, to be sure, feel this way. But some Greeks really just want the inquirers and converts to go away. “They have their own churches. Why do they want ours?” They just want to have a little Greek cultural embassy, attended almost exclusively by Greeks, to go to. It’s the religion of being Greek – – which has a minor spiritual/moral component which is ignored since they consider it outdated in terms of modern thinkng.

    But that’s not the thing that Father Elpidophoros or the EP are concerned about. You can tell when you read the criticism of excessive zeal among converts and convert clergy. No, what they really are concerned about (besides Green issues and photo ops with Al Gore) is with the dilution of “greekness” in American society. That’s a matter for ethnic Greeks to be concerned about (if they wish) that has little if any bearing on the Orthodox faith.

  54. Orthodox Christians have to consider the political ramifications of this recent speech. Respectfully, the Archimandrite’s speech was in my opinion his debut on the American scene. Considering the GOA has an aging Archbishop, America may have been just introduced to someone who may be a leading candidate for Archbishop of America. It is also clear to me when you read this speech, the conclusions of the youth conference and the EP’s book Encountering the Mystery that Father Elpidophoros is certainly a man of influence in shaping what comes out of the Phanar. The similarities cannot be dismissed.

    That being said Father Elpidophoros and the EP have drastically misunderstood America and its Orthodox Christian Faithful and overreached. This most recent communication failure is once again a sign of the fashionable fundamentalism that is corroding Constantinople. Demography is destiny and the omogenia which he celebrates is fading into obscurity. It only exists as nostalgia in the Phanar, 79th Street and a few isolated ethnic pockets.

    Father Elpidophoros’ talk was an opportunity to change to tone and perception of the EP in America. The man could have been hailed as part of a new generation of Greek Orthodox leaders who have learned from past mistakes. Instead America got a first hand lesson in how far the EP has deteriorated.

    I have no doubt that ultimately the GOA’s diverse membership and all of America’s Orthodox will just say no to the fashionable fundamentalism which now guides the Phanar.

  55. Fr. Isaac Farha says

    I agree with you Ron about ethnicity coupled with experience. While that can be a good thing I certainly don’t think ethnicity is what I’m concerned about. I’m not concerned about ethnicity at all actually.

    Blessings George. Thanks for clarifying. Certainly, I’m not concerned about protecting any kind of clubs to the detriment of Orthodoxy.

  56. Harry Coin says

    I wrote a lengthy response to the speech, interposing thoughts inspired by the various paragraphs of his remarks. The result is too long to be reposted here, I’ll leave it up at this website address for a while:

  57. George Michalopulos says

    Harry, excellent article. I come from a more traditionalist and conservative ecclesiological bent but I get your point. Let us continue to pray.

  58. Fr. Nectarios says

    May our good God bless the Ecumenical Patriarchate & the Ecumenical Patriarch!

    I am a convert priest…entered via the Greek Orthodox Church, chrismated by the Antiochian Orthodox Church, and am a priest in the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese. My parish has parishioners from 15 different nationalities, immigrants and first-generation Americans. We have a Russian Academy and Greek language school. While we have Greeks in the parish, what is important is that we are Greek in our spiritual heritage, heart, and love of our neighbors. And we are canonical thanks to the Ecumenical Patriarch.

  59. Eliot Ryan says

    Fr. Nectarios:
    Origen was an early Christian scholar and theologian. He was the author of about 6,000 writings many of them very valuable. A part of his teachings were not accepted by the Church and were declared heresies. The Fifth Ecumenical Council pronounced “15 anathemas” against Origen in 553. The Church kept what was valuable and condemned what was untruth.
    When Truth is mixed with unrighteousness or partial truth we fall into an abyss of falsehood. A small dose of poison in a wholesome loaf makes the whole loaf poisonous.

  60. Sam Lawhorn says

    This article has so many flaws that it’s hard to know where to begin. It would be nice to be able to respond to everything, but this is not the forum for that. Because there are so many jurisdictions in America, I would like to qualify that I belong to the Greek Archdiocese. So, let’s touch on the high points.

    The Patriarch of Constantinople is not the first bishop of the Church: he is the FIRST AMONG EQUALS, and there is a major difference between the two. The Patriarchate of Constantinople is only called “the first see” as an abbreviation of “the first see among equals.” St. Gregory the Diologist, Pope of Rome, wrote, “Who is he that calls himself the Universal Bishop? He is the antichrist who calls himself such.” Even a careless reading of St. Cyprian of Carthage and his contemporaries should make clear the position of the Church on this matter: the ONLY Primus is Christ Himself. And in all fairness to Metropolitan Jonah, a more careful reading of his article would reveal that he is reflecting that most ancient position.

    It was interesting that the author noted that the see of Constantinople was not greatest EXAMPLE of Orthodoxy, but rather the most powerful PRESENCE–or at least, that see’s version of it. These days, the Patriarchate is consumed with egotistical fanfare. Even Patriarch Bartholomew’s eulogy (if one could call it that) at the funeral of Patriarch Alexi was less concerned with the resting man in their midst and more concerned with taking another press opportunity to plug “the Patriarch of Constantinople, the first bishop of the Orthodox.” It was thoroughly disgusting. Frankly, the Patriarch should be alerted by some discreet individual at the Patriarchate (if there are any) that this tactic is not only NOT unifying the Church, it is dividing it. And no amount of repeating the “I’m top bishop” phrase is going to make it so. There are canons.

    As for the matter of the canons, we can all sit here and pretend that the Patriarchate did not only in recent years develop such a fondness for the 28th Canon of the 4th Ecumenical Council, but we all know better–or at least, those of us actually living in America do. Perhaps former Patriarchates were more reluctant to appeal to that canon because they were more canon-savvy. The Patriarchate for a long time recognized Russia as having the first position in America. It did not officially give up that position until the Russian Church Abroad broke communion with Constantinople over the issue of ecumenism. Not, mind you, pleasant ecumenical talks. Not healthy dialogue. We’re talking con-celebration, an issue that still plagues the Phanar. It’s hard to talk about unity when you’re staring at a history of divisiveness (in the name of unity, no less–O irony, O mores!).

    Greek is great. We agree, Church Greek should be taught. Koine Greek should be a requirement of all pastors. Kids could learn it too. But please take a journey through the parishes: you will find that Modern Greek is being taught to third and fourth generation Greek children (i.e., full-fledged Americans, at this point). Now, Modern Greek is nice too–but it doesn’t have all the theological implications appealed to in the article. Nice try, though.

    I recently attended a Greek church where the priest, immediately after the consecration, turned his back on the Precious Body and Blood to have a children’s hour, during which he made jokes and admonished the American kids to learn the Lord’s prayer in Greek because it would be helpful to them. While no one can argue with learning the Lord’s prayer in Greek, can’t they at least be given the opportunity to learn it in the language they understand first? And can’t the priest wait till after the service so that half or more of his congregation doesn’t have to sit this communion out because they just judged him up and down for ignoring the Holy Sacrament? How can the author speak of learning any language when the priest doesn’t even know that he’s in the very presence of his Lord?

    The author speaks of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. The Church planted by these two saints blossomed into a full-fledged Patriarchate within 500 years in an age of poor and slow communication. Excluding the early fifth and sixth century monastic Orthodox presences in North America (Celtic and North African) Orthodoxy has been here for about 400 years. And yet, the Phanar cannot even lead the bishops of all jurisdictions who are here to get together, throw all their names in one hat and all the cities in another, and pair them. It’s really that simple. We could at least have one American presence here–one that honored its roots. The main reason we’re running from it at this point is that it’s HINDERING unity. It’s not because of “omogenia” (and by the way, for future reference, try using either “homogeneity” or “melting pot”); I mean, a convert could tell you how UN-homogeneous he feels when attending an Orthodox church.

    I realize my tone in this response is quite caustic. I think it’s because of the condescending tone the author takes with the audience, all the while displaying an unmatched ignorance of Church history, theology, and tradition. It’s grating. Take, for example, the poor choice of words regarding the Holy Trinity. There’s a reason we say “One in Essence.” There’s a reason why St. Mark of Ephesus blasted the Latins at the Council of Florence: they used the “filioque” in a manner not consistent with its original intent–a manner that made the Holy Spirit into a creature by creating a strange hierarchy in Holy Trinity. The author’s words also convey an unorthodox hierarchy. How odd that Constantinople should fall into the same trap that the Latins did, and for the same root purpose. The ways the author expresses the Holy Trinity and specifically his purposes for those expressions are blatant heresies. Period. And I am no authority to judge that, but there is ample, overflowing history to stand as a witness against his pride.

    Another major ignorance on the part of the author is his coloring of the monasteries, as if they were a sideshow. Monasticism is at the foundation of the Church. The bishops (including the Patriarch) are to be chosen from among their ranks (not merely tonsured as such, as even the author’s precious canons provide). The histories of the Greek monasteries here in America begin and end primarily with the Elder Ephraim. It should be of great interest to readers that those who tend to criticize these monasteries have spent little to no time at them. Meanwhile, the Elder Ephraim remains silent against all slander–a true testament to his profession. A little research into his history reveals that he came from Mt. Athos, and that his policies fall in line with that monastic enclave. They are not at all a reaction to the liberalism here in America (though they may be perceived that way by the uninformed); rather, they are a reaction to the neglect and heresies of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. How can the Phanar think of ruling everyone in the world when they can’t even rule in their own back yard?

    Liberalism is one thing, blatant heresy another. Heresy is the greatest divider of the Church–historically, practically, realistically. While all jurisdictions and sees have had political scandal, there is only one see that has not, to my knowledge, officially fallen into theological heresy: Jerusalem. If Constantinople wants to paint itself as the great champion of Orthodoxy, it should start by adhering to the beliefs of the Orthodox. Trust me: all of us poor, ignorant, culture-less Americans are paying attention.

    There is just one major underlying theme that we haven’t touched on, and that is the subject of money. Why is America so important to the Phanar? It’s a huge source of money. Why does it drag it’s feet in creating an American Patriarchate? It would lose money. Why did it DIVIDE Canada from the US? To prevent a consolidation that would lead to a loss of money. What irks the Patriarch the most about the monasteries? They are getting money that he wants.

    In the event that I have not been clear, I would like to state emphatically that the author did not at all inspire me to unity. Rather, he inspired me to anger. The article was completely disgusting. It comes from an ignorant outsider, and that’s exactly what it sounds like.

    Sam Lawhorn

    PS–(to the author) Please feel free to contact me about my opinions via the email address I supplied to this site. You can even fly me out to the Phanar, as I have no difficulties in expressing my distaste for your opinions or the policies of the Phanar. Perhaps the perspective of an insider could enrich your ruling experience.

  61. Sam’s comments and the OCL response are both very well said. A bit more contentious in tone than I would prefer (though I understand that response), but compelling and well-reasoned.
    My own conversion to the Orthodox faith was a response to the theological and spiritual beauty, integrity and power of the faith, revealing fully and faithfully the meaning and essential perspective of Scripture. My interest in and understanding of the Church’s political history and canons – as I noted previously – is weak at best. Along those lines, it is my understanding that the Church in America was recognized by all to be under the jurisdiction of Russia prior to the Communist revolution, and that it was only as a result of the untenable situation that produced that the American Church fragmented as other jurisdictions necessarily asserted responsibility for their members in America. Please correct me if I am wrong. However, IF this IS true, it would seem to contradict the Phanar’s claims.

  62. George Michalopulos says

    Chrys, this is true. The Phanar’s claims are not only false, they are the result of the infamous canon 28.

  63. Eliot Ryan says

    Sam Lawhorn: very well said!
    Please do not waste your time writing emails or flying to Phanar. You will achieve nothing, they will go their own way no matter what you say. Better post this
    comment on related blogs.

    The ways the author expresses the Holy Trinity and specifically his purposes for those expressions are blatant heresies.

    We knew this was coming. The Lord GOD will do nothing
    but He revealeth His secret unto His servants:

    The enemy of the human kind will act skillfully, if possible, leading the chosen ones to heresy. He will not begin by discarding the dogmas on the Holy Trinity, divinity of Jesus Christ, on Theotokos, but will unnoticeably start to distort the Teachings of the Holy Fathers from the Holy Spirit – the Church teaching itself. Cunning of the enemy and his “tipics” will notice a very small number of those most experienced in spiritual life. Heretics will take over the Church, everywhere will appoint their servants, and the spirituality will be neglected.

    Like wolfs in sheep skin, they will be recognized by their vainglorious nature, love for lust, and lust for power – those will be betrayers causing hatred and malice everywhere; and therefore the Lord said that one will recognize them by their fruits. The true servants of God are – meek, brotherloving and obedient to the Church(order,traditions..).

    “Do not fear troubles, but fear pernicious heresy, for it drives out Grace, and separates from Christ, wherefore Christ commanded consider the heretic as let him be unto thee as a heathen man and publican.”

  64. Dean Calvert says

    To paraphrase Sir Steven Runciman, ‘Perhaps now that there are no more Greeks in Constantinople – the patriarch can go back to being a ‘ecumenical patriarch,’ rather than just a ‘patriarch of the Greeks.’

    One can only imagine how Sts John Chrysostom and Photios are cringing at the ridiculous comments coming out of the mouths of Phanariot hierarchs.

    The truly sad thing is that they believe this.

    Best Regards,
    Dean Calvert

  65. Theodoros says

    I would like to comment on how interested I am in what all the above have had to say. I am a Greek American with a profound love for Christ and Hellenism (in that order, Christ and his Church always first.)

    I have a great respect for the converts who come to the Church, and I greatly admire them because unlike those ofus born into it, they learned the faith before entering itand appreciate it more than many cradle Orthodox.

    My attitude is one that is Byzantine. Saints Cyril and Methodios converted the Slavic people by using their own language to convert them. They Christianized them, they did not try to Hellenize them.

    Politically, I am what one would call a “Greek” Nationalist. I would not define “Nationalism” in the same way as others would, and I do not believe that what the Synod of Constantinople in 1872 in Constantinople condemned was “Nationalism”. It was chauvanism and racism.

    I believe firmly in Orthodoxy Unity and peace and stability within the Church. I believe it is unfortunate that some Greeks (and I would like to emphasize “some” Greeks) havemisinterpreted and misrepresented modern Hellenism.

    Since the subject of Greek identity came up with regard to the lecture, I wish to emphasize here that what I consider to be part of my Greek identity is my avid support for the survival of Greece and Cyprus, a commemoration of the dead of Asia Minor (who were slaughtered by the Turks in large part for being Christians and “infidels”.

    Some of us who are Greek are not entirely in agreement with much of what is going on within the GOA. And again, I consider all Orthodox whether Greek, American converts, Russians, Serbs, Arabs etc.. to be brothers firmly united within the sacraments of the holy Church of Christ.

    So I hope that people are not getting a bad impression of Greeks in general.

    With regard to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. I support the Ecumenical Patriarchate for religious, historical, and political reasons, but disagree with many policies that he has undertaken. Such policies include the appalling forced expulsion of the Monks of the Espigmenou Monastery on Mount Athos, and the confrontational tactics adopted toward the Churches of Greece and Russia.

    Indeed, the resistance of the Church of Greece toward Constantinople’s intervention in its affairs demonstrates that those who claim to be speaking for Hellenism in certain quarters do not speak for most Greeks.

    I do think the Ecumenical Patriarchate has a purpose which all the autocephalous Churches would acknowledge. Cases include the various Synods over the years that he has hosted and which have been attended by all the Churches, such as that of March 1992 where the Churches took a united position against Uniatism.

    The EP is a beacon of light and a witness to the Gospel by its very presence in a land where the Turkish regime continues to wage a war on the last remaining Christians on that territory. I respect the Ecumenical Patriarch for his difficult position against the Turks (six assasination attempts, bombings etc at the Phanar ) while disagreeing with some of his positions.

    The Church of Constantinople has produced its own martyrs in the twentieth century (Chrysostom of Smyrna etc, and a few other Bishops who died for their flocks) and should be respected for that.

    Someone raised the question of the expulsion of the Patriarchate. The Patriarch was not expelled in 1948, but the American government supported then Archbishop Athenagoras of America in being placed on the throne. Accounts differ as to the circumstances surrounded his elevation. Some accounts state his predecessor had to be removed for health reasons, others have stated his predecessor was removed in a sort of coup or power grab. I am not sure which are the true facts.

    Also, I ask that it be kept in mind that the Church of Constantinople has been deprived of its flock because most were either slaughtered between 1914 and 1923, or ethnically cleansed in the period after 1955 with most of their Churches being profaned in unspeakable ways. Churches being burnt, Icons smashed and demolished, etc. The few remaining Christians are still living under difficult conditions in a very anti-Christian atmosphere.

    Last year, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the late Patriarch Alexy of Moscow fixed up their differences. Hopefully this is a trend that will continue. I see no reason why the entire Orthodox Church from the ancient Churches up to the American Orthodox Churches cannot simultaneously prosper.

    My best wishes to all for Great Lent


  66. Scott Pennington says

    I saw this on Orthodox Christians for Accountability and thought you all might enjoy it:

    Formal church greetings are rarely memorable. The following, a formal greeting from Patriarch Kyrill of the Russian Orthodox Church to Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America, given on March 22nd, six days after the Chief Secretary of the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis’ controversial speech at Holy Cross Seminary, is an exception. The complete text, reprinted from a Moscow Patriarchate website, reads:

    Your Beatitude!

    I sincerely welcome your visit to the St. Nicholas Cathedral of the Moscow Patriarchate in the city of New York, this memorable and holy place connected with the life and service of St. Tikhon.

    Your first visit as head of the Orthodox Church in America to the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA and to a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church comes during the week of the Cross, when the Honorable Cross stands before us for reverential worship and adoration.

    May the invincible and inscrutable power of the honorable and life-giving Cross strengthen the love between our Churches and overcome the demons of feeble impertinence (emphasis in original).

    Having passed over the course of Great Lent in peace, I wish you a joyous Pascha. I await the upcoming visit of Your Beatitude in Moscow.

    With love in the Lord,

    Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

  67. George Michalopulos says

    Theodoros, well-spoken words. I too consider nationalism properly understood (as sovereignity) to be the correct posture for Christians. We are enjoined by God to “Fear God, honor the king, and love man,” and to “pray for Caesar” because “the king does not hold the sword in vain.”

    My nationalism of course is American, my heritage Greek. As someone who still follows Greek politics, you could put me in the monarchist camp because Greece under the monarchy was a far more Christian land. Anyway, that’s water under the bridge.

    My feelings towards the Ecumenical Patriarchate are simple: the occupant of the throne is first among EQUALS. He is not supreme, nor does he enjoy any extra-territorial rights. I believe that these are congruent with yours. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

    Therefore, a functionary of his coming to another country and lambasting its various expressions of Orthodoxy is the height of bad taste. Even if we granted for the sake of argument everything he said, it is tactless to the extreme to criticize a country in which you are a guest. I would never go to Russia, Greece, Serbia, Turkey, Israel, the PA, etc. and presume to highlight their many and various defects. Yet that is what this man did. Very boorish.

    Anyway, my 2 cents.

    p.s. Everyday I seem to get another reason why we shouldn’t have the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council. I feel in my very bones the opportunity for grave mischief.

  68. Theodoros says

    Reply to George Michalopoulos,

    I believe we agree with regard to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Indeed, the Ecumenical Patriarch is “First Among Equals” and holds a “place of honor”. All the Orthodox Patriarchs and Primates have acknowledged this including the Russian Church.

    The Ecumenical Patriarchate needs reform and perhaps to be reigned in. Take aways its claims to meddle in the affairs of autocephalous Churches and its claim to the entire Orthodox diaspora and it is a smooth functioning institution.

    Some of the Councils presided over by the Ecumenical Patriarch such as that of March 1992 where all the Orthodox Churches spoke in a unified voice against the Papacy’s Uniate policies and that which took place in Constantinople last October went well. The Patriarch took his place with his honorary position and rank, but all decisions undertaken were done by consensus with all Churches being firmly in agreement.

    I recall the statement the primates released after the 1992 Council which was signed by all of them which stated they gathered under the “Presidency” of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. That term Presidency in my opinion properly defines the role the Ecumenical Patriarchate has.

    I am also in agreement that the statement by the Archimandrite was improper and out of place. I thought the references to the cultural background were rather bizarre and inappropriate, especially since he tried to be inclusive at the beginning by repudiating “nationalism” or the small minded behavior that is frequently interpreted as nationalism.

    I do believe that eventually the Orthodox Church in America will gain Autocephalous status. I do believe however that such a Church can and should be inclusive for all, embracing all languages Greek, English, Russian, Serbian, Albanian, Arabic, Ukrainian, Rumanian, Bulgarian, Georgian, etc…

    What is important are the Canons and the Canons do indicate one Bishop in each place.


  69. I too believe that eventually there will be a united Orthodox Church in America (not to be confused with the jurisdictional entity known as the “OCA”). I hope it will be a Metropolinate under the Moscow Patriarchate. The OCA is too weak, both spiritually and numerically to ever become a unifying agent, its pretensions and delusions of grandeur notwithstanding (e.g. Metropolitan Jonah’s words: “The dilemma, however, is that with autocephaly, the presence of any other jurisdiction on American territory becomes uncanonical, and membership in the Synod of the Orthodox Church in America becomes the criterion of canonicity for all bishops in America.”).

  70. Eliot Ryan says

    It is astonishing that we are so concerned about the Orthodox Unity in America and we do not notice that the Orthodoxy in the Old-World is being threatened. The two Patriarchs, Kirill and Bartolomew agreed on the agenda of the Synod and rushed to send out invitations. The excuse for the haste is that the preparations for the all-Orthodox Council started a long time ago. That is true, but the “contemporary problematics” kept changing beginning with the meeting in Constantinople in 1923, continuing through Rhodes in 1961 and up to Geneva in 1976 (BTW back then nobody could travel to Geneva or anywhere abroad without a special approval of the communist authorities). See popovich_on_council
    Fr. Popovich wrote:

    Historical reality is perfectly clear: the holy Councils of the Holy Fathers, summoned by God, always, always had before them one, or at the most two or three questions set before them by the extreme gravity of great heresies and schisms that distorted the Orthodox Faith, tore asunder the Church and seriously placed in danger the salvation of human souls, the salvation of the Orthodox people of God, and of the entire creation of God.

    The real problem facing the Church is the heresy of ecumenism. A theological conference on ecumenisms is long overdue not a Council. Some people here insist on calling such a Council Great and Holy. By their fruit we will recognize them. Fr. Popovich warned us: schisms and heresies will result. See on_ecumenism

    : Ecumenism is a child of the 20th century. It was born at its outset, experienced a metamorphosis in the World Council of Churches (need to say more?) around the middle of the century and by its end, it was on its last breath being fiercely rejected. Unfortunately, it survived this crisis, and continues to trouble the Church of God in the 21st century.

    Patriarch Kirill (former Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad – IF) “actively and largely contributed” in taking decisions to lead preparatory work out of the deadlock. The agenda of the Council mentions the ecumenical “movement”. So, in our time “Holy” synods are dealing with movements not heresies. Perhaps the word heresy will be banned because some people find it offensive … God help us.

    As for the “canonicity for all bishops in America” I have this question: was St Abp. John Maximovitch canonical?

  71. Theodoros says

    If an autocephalous or united Orthodox Church in America
    is to be established it should not be under the jurisdiction
    of any Patriarchate, not Constantinople, Moscow, etc..

    There should a unified Synod of Bishops with one
    Archbishop whose name would be added to the dyptychs and
    who would represent the Eastern Orthodox Church of America
    at Orthodox synods.


  72. “If.”

  73. George Michalopulos says


    regarding your comments as to the “weakness” of the OCA, recent events prove the opposite: the OCA –people and priesthood–were able to right the ship. As to its actual numbers, that is neither here nor there. Many of the ancient churches were “numerically weak” as well, yet their legitimacy and Chrsitian witness was uncquestions. (Besides, I don’t believe for a minute that the OCA is all that numerically weak, it has more members than the AOCA and quite possibly more than the GOAA, its own protestations to the contrary.)

    As the autocephalous church of the North American continent, it operates under no “delusions of grandeur.” The OCA for its part never put out press releases with inflated figures (unlike other jurisdictions).

    In opposition to good canonical order, Orthodox Christians who migrated to America set up their own parishes and eventually dioceses/jurisdictions, when there was already an established Orthodox presence (which even Patriarch Joachim III of Constantinople acknowledged).

    Sorry for the tone, I don’t mean to sound harsh, but facts are facts.

  74. Dean Calvert says

    In response to Joe:

    Dear Joe,

    Here is the message, sent by the Grand Prince of Moscow, Basil II to the last Byzantine emperor, i.e. their own “Mother Church”, announcing the independence of the Moscow patriarchate, following the election of Metropolitan Jonah:

    “We beseech your Sacred Majesty not to think that what we have done we did out of arrogance, nor to blame us for not writing to our Sovereignty beforehand; we did this from dire necessity, not from pride or arrogance. In all things we hold to the ancient Orthodox faith transmitted to us, and so we shall continue to do until the end of time. And our Russian Church, the holy metropolitanate of Russia, requests and seeks the blessing of the holy, oecumenical, catholic, and apostolic church of St. Sophia, the Wisdom of God, and is obedient to her in all things according to the ancient faith; and our father, the Lord Iona, metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia, likewise requests from her all manner of blessing and union, except for the present recently appeared disagreements.”

    We (all) should send that same letter to the respective Mother Churches ASAP.

    The thought of creating an indigenous church on this continent, which is subservient to any of the Old World patriarchates is not only preposterous, but it flies in the face of 2000 years of Orthodox tradition.

    The organization of the Church follows geographic, not ethnic boundaries. Traditionally, the ecclesial boundaries follow the secular ones. The independence of the newly formed states in the Balkans in the late 1800’s meant the formation of national churches in each of those countries. We are witnessing the same today in the various Former Soviet Republics (Georgia, Estonia, Ukraine). Ditto for Macedonia.

    We in America simply need to remember that the Mother Churches NEVER accept the independence of the daughter churches…not even the independence of the Church of Greece was accepted by the ecumenical patriarchate until several years afterward. As a matter of fact, I would suggest that the willingness of the daughter church to declare indepenence, even though it might be considered heretical by the mother church for a period of time, is IN ITSELF an act of maturity.

    While I would certainly argue with Metropolitan Philip on a number of things right now, he was absolutely corrected when he said that independence cannot be “granted”, it must be “taken”.

    That’s not a radical American talking – that’s simply the Orthodox tradition. Go check out the history books.

    Best Regards,
    Dean Calvert

  75. Scott Pennington says


    I also am very leary of the proposed Council. As to your comments regarding the OCA and the possibility of a united American Orthodox Church under the MP: First, this is a contradiction in terms. Such a Church would be an autonomous province of the Russian Orthodox Church (just as ROCOR is now). Second, since Moscow granted autocephaly to the OCA, what makes you think they would want an American Church to be united under the MP?

    I find that scenario very implausible.

    Nonetheless, I am not anxious to see a unified American Church. Autocephaly was granted to the OCA in odd circumstances. They requested autonomy and a ROC dominated by Communists granted them autocephaly instead.

    I do not see any problems solved by unifying the American Orthodox jurisdictions (except the problem of uncanonical overlapping jurisdictions).

    The danger is that the practices of the more ardent traditional jurisdictions would get watered down in the name of standardizing discipline (to prevent flight from one jurisdiction to another). I mean, consider for a moment whether the Serbian Orthodox churches or the ROCOR churches are going to soften their rules to suit the Greeks. Will the Greeks tighten their rules to suit these other jurisdictions?

    Hopefully, jurisdictional unity here will wait for another age when this society’s pendulum is clearly swinging toward tradition and the various jurisdictions are of similar mind on practice and discipline.

  76. Michael Bauman says

    IMO we are at the tipping point: we either move purposefully toward unity or the whole thing will pretty much fall apart. We are not the Church here we are a bunch of fancy-dress sacramental Protestants. The Church would be of one mind. Clearly we are not.

    I am mightly tired of two canards:
    1. We all in communion with each other so the rest doesn’t matter;
    2. We are too immature.

    As to #1:
    We may be ‘in communion’ but as out of whack as we are, we may be eating and drinking condemnation to ourselves. I am deadly serious on this point BTW. I see no evidence of really being in communion with one another, otherwise we’d be one body. If we are not one body, we are not in communion. Did Jesus Incarnate or did he not? Is He fully man and fully God or some spirit only.

    As to #2:
    It is impossible to be mature as long as we remain tied to our mother’s apron strings.

    As to Scott’s point on more uniformity of practice before unity–impossible, not going to happen. The Church in America will always be more diverse in practice than any previous example — that’s part of the American ethos and the way it should be here. Until we have a true American Synod everybody will just continue to do their own thing. The appropriate level of discipline is a function of the hierarchy in any case. If the American Church is of one mind on being American and evangelizing America, all of that will come into focus. The Holy Synod should decide. Those that don’t like it will go into schism or migrate to heretical churches.

    BTW I’m beginning to think Met. Phillip’s action has almost nothing to do with we Antiochians. I think it is a reaction to the election of Met. Jonah.

  77. Scott Pennington says

    “I see no evidence of really being in communion with one another, otherwise we’d be one body. If we are not one body, we are not in communion.”

    I see evidence of it frequently when the three Orthodox churches in my area (GOA, Antiochian and OCA) have pan-Orthodox events at which they concelebrate, or when parishioners from any of our jurisdictions are received warmly at the Liturgy of any of the other churches.

    “Those that don’t like it will go into schism or migrate to heretical churches.”

    That’s the unfortunate mentality the Greeks took in changing their calendar. Result: Old Calendarist schism. Greek Orthodox who are otherwise impeccably Orthodox in practice – – more so than canonical Greeks – – persecuted, sometimes violently.

    Bad idea.

    “Until we have a true American Synod everybody will just continue to do their own thing.”

    Amen. At least traditionalists will be free to a) practice the faith as it was delivered to them and b) remain canonical.

    “The appropriate level of discipline is a function of the hierarchy in any case.”

    The appropriate level of discipline is a function of reasonably close adherence to canon law and traditional practice. A local hierarchy might get it right or might get it badly wrong. I do not trust the judgment of what would be a unified American hierarchy at this point. This is not a function of the immaturity of the American Church. It is a function of the corrupting influence of an unspeakably evil age.

    But really, again, this is an almost purely academic question and there’s no reason for unpleasant division over it. The OCA is what it is. There was talk of the Antiochians joining with the OCA, but that seems to be far off if Antioch’s recent action is any indication. The Greeks, well, it’s obvious that it’s not going to fly with them. ROCOR, etc., would refuse to join a unified Church that had standards significantly lower than theirs. They would not be heretical or schismatic either, still being part of the ROC or their “mother churches”. If you think the ROC is going to insist that ROCOR become part of an autocephalous American Church, why haven’t they done it already?

    I wish people would just get over this obsession with an American Orthodox Church and commit to reforming the practices within their own jurisdictions that betray the Orthodox faith – – such as being tolerant of abortion, etc.

    Or just feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and spread the Gospel.

    I mean really, all the insistence on immediately forming an American Orthodox Church sounds as feeble as the EP’s insistence on all jurisdictions coming under GOA. Can’t make it happen, too many don’t want it to happen, not going to happen, waste of time “insisting”.

  78. Re: ” The OCA for its part never put out press releases with inflated figures (unlike other jurisdictions).”

    According to the 2008 edition of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, the OCA has 1,064,000 members ranking it #24 in the 25 Largest Churches in the U.S.

    In 2006 Father Paul Kucynda, Secretary and Acting Treasurer of the OCA, swore under oath: “The Church is currently comprised of approximately two (2) million faithful…”

    In the 2006 edition of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, the OCA had 1,064,000 members, an increase of 6.4 percent from 2005.

    In 2004, a Fr. Jonathan Ivanoff stated in a presentation at the OCA’s Evangelization Conference that the Church’s census population in 2004 was 27,169, and that membership from 1990–2000 declined 13 percent. It further stated that the OCA population in the continental United States declined between six and nine percent per year.

    In 2002 Metropolitan Herman stated that the OCA had “1 million members.”

    A study by Alexei D. Krindatch of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, performed in 2000, presented a figure of 115,100 adherents (baptized Orthodox who attend services on at least an occasional basis and their children) and 39,400 full members (persons older than 18, paying annual Church membership fees). In response to the study, an OCA representative stated the Church had “around 750,000 adults and children.”

  79. Michael Bauman says

    Scott, I understand your concerns and actually share them to some degree. We are superfically in communion with each other sure, but it only goes so far or we would be of one mind on the polity.

    While your approach is true to the Biblical command and absolutely essential I find it depressingly minimilistic and fatalistic.

    The situation in the Orthodox communion in the U.S. does not conform to cannonical norms. Everyone agrees on that but everyone refuses to do anything about it. Some have even gone so far as to call our situation heretical. If it is heretical, can we continue to live that way? Can we continue to give lip service to the canons while ignoring the reality they are meant to guide us to?

    I don’t personally like any of the hierarchs with putative authority to guide the American Church, none of them. If I had to choose one right now, it would be the Patriarch of Bulgaria simply because of the Bulgarian Metroplitan here in the U.S–Met. Joseph. However, if we decide together as the Church to have one of them any one will do if that is the will of God in the Church. We don’t do that, we all arrogate ourselves to the top, ignoring not only the canons but the humility of service to each other the Gospel passage you quote speaks to.

    What you seem to gloss over is the damage our current situation does to our witness not to mention to individual souls. The Fathers called the Church The Pillar and the Ground of the Truth, said she contains the Fullness of the Truth, affirmed that outside the Church there is no salvation. We reject that by every act of disunity we so eggregiously display. IMO we reject the Incarnational reality and settle for the tepid waters of individual salvation as if that were even possible. Like I said, fancy-dress, sacramental Protestants.

    Sorry, whatever the soltion turns out to be, the status quo is no longer tenable.

    The Antiochian Archdiocese was unified, not by Met. Phillip, but by Archbishop Michael Shaheen of blessed memory. He saw the necessity for unity and took second place behind Met. Phillip to achieve it. He even allowed Met. Phillip to take the credit. Where are the Patriarchs and bishops who will follow the path of humility and love. They all want to be at the right hand of our Lord and claim the right wishing to lord it over God’s people. We in the pews echo the same stupidity by saying.. I’m am of Cephus, I am of Paul, I am of Barnabus rather than submitting to Christ.

    You are correct in saying that we cannot forge unity for unity’s sake–a human unity imposed by human power and ideas. We will either submit to Christ together or we will be scattered.

  80. Michael: Amen! We must put no conditions on obedience to Christ.
    In my experience, whenever we begin ANY discipline or obedience – as individuals or as a group – we begin where we are and as we are. If we wait for pure motives and proper conduct, we will never undertake ANY form of discipleship – individual or corporate. Indeed, as I have grown older, I have come to realize that many of the motives that I once thought were correct have since been exposed as more self-serving than I would wish. This is not to impute the same to anyone in this discussion, only to recognize that we begin where we are – and that pretty much always entails some very mixed motives. The scandal of separate jurisdictions seems to reflect the same problem and the damage, as you indicate, afflicts everyone. Romans 14 makes it clear that if we are to begin to walk in obedience to the commandment of love in Christ, those who are strong and those who are weak must accept and not reject each other. The danger of permitting ourselves to do otherwise if significant, for if we do not strive to love each other in Christ, in Whom alone can be found the restoration and healing of fractured humanity, then we will continue – as humanity always does – to stand at odds with the purpose of Pentecost and recreate Babel. In the end, our claims of being of Cephas, of Paul . . or of Andrew, Vladimir, or otherwise . . . are too often revealed to be little more than another expression of that perennial inclination to use God to serve ourselves. For the same reason that we hold fast to the tradition handed down (and stand athwart ecumenism), we must seek to legitimate union where and as we can: in obedience to and communion with Christ. In this matter, judgment is His . . . but obedience is mine.

  81. Re: ” The OCA for its part never put out press releases with inflated figures (unlike other jurisdictions).”

    The latest figure was reported in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Metropolitan Jonah has said he believes it has about 100,000 active members, with 10,000 in the Pittsburgh archdiocese.”

    Does 100,000 members mean that the OCA lost over 900,000 members in this past year, or does 100,000 mean that the OCA has almost quadrupled its membership in the past year?

  82. Scott Pennington says

    Michael, brother in Christ,

    I did not mean my last post to sound as sharp as it might read. Often we agree on things that many who post here do not. I do agree that the situation here in the US is somewhat depressing if you let it get to you. It is definitely, inarguably uncanonical.

    America is a strange country. When the Greeks converted Rus, the Russians were pagans. Christianity coexisted to some extent with paganism for some time as it spread, but Russia had not already been Christianized by a plethora of sects and by the Romans.

    I wish, as countless millions living and dead also, that the Bolshevik Revolution never took place. Were that so, there might be a unified American Orthodox Church today.

    Part of the problem is definitely the ethnocentric behavior of many Orthodox of this or that Orthodox ethnic heritage. This does not help missionary efforts. I disagree with those, however that think ryassa’s and beards are the problem. Clerical dress in the US varies from Protestant denomination to denomination (suits to Anglican/Roman garb). Sixty years ago, Roman priests wore cassocks throughout the day. It is imperative to separate modernism from American-practice. There is really no such thing as common American practice and so traditional Orthodox practice can “fit in” just as Hasidic, Amish, Anglican, Roman, Pentecostal, Muslim, etc.

    But I digress – – although not much. What actually hampers conversion efforts are specifically Hellenocentric, Arabocentric and Russocentric behaviors. Hymns and sections of the liturgy done exclusively in a language unintelligible to most Americans. Conveying the impression that Orthodoxy is a Greek thing or an Arab thing. Ignoring canonical and traditional Orthodox practices because, “We Arabs/Greeks/Russians don’t do that anymore.” That conveys the idea to converts and potential converts that the standard is not traditional Orthodoxy but rather current ethnic usage.

    I am certainly not the first to make this observation, but there is a “natural selection” at work. Actually, it would be better to call it a “divine selection”. Some Orthodox churches do not witness successfully to “Anglo-Americans” (and Hispanics as well). They do not reproduce above the replacement rate. They do not convey the faith to their children in such a way as to convince their children to remain Orthodox throughout their marriages and lives. Just as some alternative lifestyles are really deathstyles, so is the above mindset. God will solve the problem by reducing the number of Orthodox in these churches and reducing their power respective to other Orthodox in this country. It will take time, but it is happening right now.

    Then there are, and will be, other Orthodox churches who encourage their members to have as many children as God gives them, who teach the youth the traditional faith in church school (and leave Greek school and Russian school etc. as an optional lesser concern). These churches will make their temples American friendly not by outwardly appearing as other American denominations (as if the Church were just one of many denominations), but by having services and hymns predominantly in the language of this country. By positing traditional practice as the norm, not the current practice (which is sometimes lax and watered down) of the ethnic community. These churches will flourish because they do things which are both a) indisputably Orthodox and b) make them magnets for those potential converts who have ears to hear. They present a genuine Orthodox witness in contrast to a culture gone terribly wrong – – a culture whose mistakes we should not be emulating.

    “Sorry, whatever the solution turns out to be, the status quo is no longer tenable.”

    In a sense, I agree with you. But patience is a virtue. I do not see movement on the part of the hierarchy toward a unified American Orthodox Church. However, what very well might happen is that the OCA, if continues and strengthens its witness as per the recipe above, simply becomes the last surviving viable Orthodox jurisdiction over time. Of course, it could be the AOC or ROCOR or even the GOA if they change their tune. That is why autocephaly is not so important to me. If a church does the things I mentioned above, it will prosper and be a strong witness for Christ. If it does not and retreats into ethnic obscurity and/or adopts the mistakes of modern America, then it will dwindle. It’s almost mathematical. Autocephaly might strengthen American Orthodoxy or might weaken it. Who knows?

  83. Michael Bauman says

    Scott, I happen to live in a parish that does most of the items on your list, a parish that is still has a strong Lebanese influence. Antiochian of course. Most seem to be opposed to Met. Phillip’s action. Maybe its a coastal thing?

    The things you mention are really not so much really ethnic problems, just the world masquerading under an ethnic identity.

  84. Scott – from you mouth(or keyboard) to God’s ears. (But then, listening isn’t God’s problem, it’s ours.)
    When you say that you do not see the hierarchy moving towards unity (undoubtedly true), it made me wonder: what is their incentive to do so. One can easily identify plenty of disincentives — not least the fact that the “pillars” of support (which any leader in any institution depends upon to effectively exercise authority) are very likely to resist any such move. It would, after all, erase their own value, stature and ability to exercise influence. Looking at it from an organizational perspective, then, I can see no apparent incentive for any hierarch to overcome institutional resistance or inertia (which, after all, is what institutions are so good at). The only successful example that comes to mind is a merger (okay, mergers are actually acquisition). Absent a mandate from above or heroic sanctity from below, it is difficult to see how such a merger would occur. This, it seems to me, is a cross that American Orthodoxy will have to bear until God makes a way. (Of course, this may have been your earlier point.) Either way, it has been a blessing to read the thoughts of others who also want the Church to be the Church, come what may, as both you and Michael have in your recent posts. Thank you.

  85. Michael Bauman says

    What is their incentive to do so? How about the call of God to be one, the words of the Creed that we are One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church or St. John Chrysostom’s words that the ‘road to hell is paved with the skulls of priests and bishops’.

    The Church is not an organization–it is the living Body of Christ or it is worthless. We had better start actually believing what we say we believe and living as Christians or we are in real trouble. We are either ruled by Christ or the world. Take your pick.

  86. George Michalopulos says


    I stand corrected. I obviously did not know about these obscure references. However, I don’t believe you see the irony: the GOAA constantly and prodigiously inflates its numbers to 1.5 million at the drop of the hat. (And the actual numbers of the GOAA is 110,000 stewards –the subscription base of The Orthodox Observer–which is sent out to every paying steward.)

    One who lives in glass houses should not throw stones.


    you’re absolutely right. The hierarchies of the various ethnic jurisdictions (i.e. not the OCA) have zero secular incentives to act like pastors. The cleavage is not between “ethnics” and “converts” w/in the various jurisdictions, but between those who are worldly and those who are not. I could go on but I need to repent.

  87. Michael, if it was not clear enough, I agree with you. What I see, however, is behavior that is consistent with typical organizational dynamics. Thus, as I said, absent a miracle from above or the witness of compelling sanctity below (which gets to your point), I don’t see anything changing. In that regard, as you put it, we are in real trouble. This may be, as George notes, a point of judgment on our leadership. (From what I have read in the Fathers, I am not sure that the Church has often lived up to its calling, which you have clearly describe.)
    At the same time, I fear that we ourselves are no less vulnerable to judgment. Nothing about this situation – this particular cross – exempts us from wholehearted commitment, obedience and love on our part. While the issues of the hierarchy are above my “pay grade” (and, so far as I can see, well beyond my influence), I find it more beneficial – and all the more necessary – to focus on trying to offer everything I am to God and leaving what is beyond me to Him. My best hope – for myself and for the blessing of others – is that if I am able to truly realize some portion of what God desires, then perhaps others, too, will be blessed around me (to paraphrase St. Seraphim). Entering into living communion with God is the only source of communion we may hope to have with each other. In the end, then, our own faithfulness and dedication to Christ may be the most meaningful contribution any of us can personally make to the building up of His Body. As both you and Scott note in different ways, our salvation – both individually and as a Body – depend upon it.

  88. Michael Bauman says

    Chrys, you said it better than I did. Thanks.

  89. George, the further irony is that even with 110,000 the GOAA is still three times bigger than the OCA!

  90. George Michalopulos says


    you are absolutely right! Each and every one of us has the capacity to become holy. If there are stumbling blocks along the way, then we need to get over them.

    The judgement is not only upon our hierarchs, but upon us. Let’s face it: the bishops would have pushed for unity if the people wanted it. Most of us don’t.

  91. Dean Calvert says

    Hi George,

    I agree with you on almost everything but that last statement “the bishops would have pushed for unity if the people wanted it. Most of us don’t” gets a resounding NYET from me.

    Although I’m now in the OCA, I grew up in the GOA…and I’ve been to too many events in the GOA where the comments receiving the MOST applause were those related to unity. The laity get it…in that particular jurisdiction the problem is with some of the bishops.

    I honestly think some bishops are petrified of unity because of it’s perceived effect on them. Not only would they not “have pushed for unity”…it is my firm belief that those bishops will be the very last ones thru the door…and they will be dragged kicking and screaming.

    However, as my bishop (+NATHANIEL) says, “there is no place for fear in Christ’s Church” and we must not be stopped by those fears.

    This is clearly an issue in which we, the laity, must lead (some of) our hierarchs.

    Best Regards,

  92. Elias D. O Mytlinaos says

    I am a member of the GOAA. Let’s do some math

    I am -1 “paid” steward of the GOAA which represents 5 family members. Plus my in-laws who are members of the GOAA but don’t offer a stewardship to the Archdiocese, as well as at least three additional relatives who attend church occasionally but are not ‘stewards’ of the church.

    So my 1 Orthodox Observer (of the 110,000 copies), gets read by at least 9 additional members who are not “stewards” of the church…

    1.5 million… sounds about right…

    I would be interested to know how many “members” or better ‘paid’ stewards there are in; let’s say the OCA’s Diocese of Alaska?

    I would really appreciate this number or even better a list of various memberships for all diocese and metropolises in North America and/or around the world.

  93. Dean Calvert says

    Dear Elias

    I would also welcome some “real” numbers for a change…from ANY of the jurisdictions. The problem is that those numbers would show what a completely miserable job we have done on this continent. So they are guarded like nuclear secrets.

    Regarding your “let’s do some math”…please be sure to subtract GOA ex-members like myself, who have not donated or attended a GOA parish for about four years…but are still receiving the Orthodox Observer. I’d guess there are more of those folks on that distribution list than anyone would like to admit.

    Just a thought…but I’m all for doing the math.

    Best Regards,

  94. Scott Pennington says


    Not to quibble with you, but I have been a paid steward of my parish for over two years and never received one issue of the Observer. Perhaps in some places all paid stewards receive them, but certainly not all.

    As to the reason for continuing disunity, I believe it is all about money and power. Most of Constantinople’s income probably comes from America. Much of Damascus’ income probably does too. Also, I’d bet that many of the more influential, wealthy donors in GOA and the AOCNA would not want merger for ethnocentric reasons and because it would dilute their power within a unified Church.

    Or, in short, the reason for disunity is human sin.

    As for the laity and priesthood interested in unity, I don’t know there’s a lot we can do except let time work for us. The bishops of the GOA and the AOCNA could all just decide to move to the OCA; however, I’m not sure what would happen to all the church property of their dioceses. It might be held in trust for the patriarchates (I would be interested to know for sure).

    However, I think, even if the property wasn’t at risk, that very few bishops are courageous enough to do such a thing. It’s hard enough getting them to speak out and exercise discipline on issues where Church teaching is clear.

  95. RE: “In the 2006 edition of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, the OCA had 1,064,000 members, an increase of 6.4 percent from 2005. In 2004, a Fr. Jonathan Ivanoff stated in a presentation at the OCA’s Evangelization Conference that the Church’s census population in 2004 was 27,169…”

    Looking back on the news release for the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, the OCA was commended for its 6.4 percent growth in 2005. The religious news reporters touted the OCA for “fastest” and “highest” growth for any American church body that year.

    I haven’t seen the 2009 Yearbook, but the press release for the new edition and the reporting from the National Council of Churches no longer shows that the OCA in the Top 25 this year. The highlights for the 2009 edition were the single digit declines among the Roman Catholics and the Baptists. No mention about any sort of 90-some percent drop in membership of the 2005-Fastest-Growing-OCA.

    Does anyone know what number the OCA gave to the Yearbook/National Council of Churches for the latest edition? 27,000? 34,000? 100,000? 750,000? 1 million?

  96. Elias D. O Mytlinaos says


    Good point. The fact is there are no real reliable numbers. We’re not going to hold someone’s feet to the fire; we just want a sense of things.

    I would really like some numbers, even if they aren’t 100% on the money. What do they say [the various jurisdictions] say as far as members in Alaska diocese? Are there any demographic studies?


  97. George Michalopulos says


    let’s do some math: 549 GOAA parishes in the U.S. (that’s 50 states, not the 57 or 58 that our President thought there were). Ok, 1.5 million Greek-Americans and or parishioners. Let’s see: that’s 1,500,000 divided by 549 = 2,732 parishioners in each parish. Do you you know any parishes w/ more than 300 parishioners? Annunciation in Houston, Texas is the 4th largest GOAA parish in the nation. It has a little over 700 stewards. It has two liturgies every Sunday to accomodate that many people (that includes children).

    BTW, Joe, did you know that the US Census Bureau (2000) states that there are 900,000+ US citizens who “self-identify” as Greek? Based on the GOAA mailing list, the vast majority of these are not members of the Eastern Orthodox Church but belong to other denominations (ever here of the Gospel singer Dino?) or are lapsed at best (Jennifer Anniston posing naked on the cover of GQ).

    Hate to be snarky about this, but facts are still facts.

    Scott, the 110,000 is the subscription list. I know that there are people who are members of the GOAA but don’t receive one. However, I’m not a member of the GOAA and still receive one. So my feeling is that it’s a wash.

  98. Dean Calvert says


    I was asking similar questions a number of years ago…never received anything even approaching satisfactory answers.

    One thing I was able to come up with was a series of data from the GOA information over a number of years. They did not report membership, but did give data regarding number of baptisms, chrismations,weddings and funerals. I always suspected that a good demographer could have made some pretty good inferences about the population size if given these attributes.

    That data, by the way, suggested a roughly 30% decline in baptisms from the peak years (1970?) thru 1995 or 1996.

    Unfortunately this data, which covered the old GO Archdiocese of N and S America became useless once the GOA was split up in the late 90’s. I have seen no “consolidated” information which would be comparable.

    As I said, it’s not membership data, but I’d be happy to share what I have with you if you’d like. It goes back to 1949. Email me at if you’d like to take a look at it.

    Like you said…just give us some data. Easier said than done unfortunately.

    Best Regards,

  99. George Michalopulos says

    p.s. sorry for the interruption (I’m at work). Elias, your point is well-taken. However let me ask you a few questions:

    1. Why aren’t your in-laws paying stewards?
    2. How can they justify being “members of the Archdiocese” if they don’t help pay for its maintenance?
    3. Also: did you notice that you had three other relatives said “attend occassionally”? Would you consider these people stewards of the GOAA? I wouldn’t, and neither do the bookkeepers at GOAA HQ in NY. Canonically, they aren’t even members of the Church either but that’s another.

    Right off the bat, I can think of 2 dozen close and distant relatives of mine who almost never attend church but receive The Orthodox Observer. These people are proud of their Greek heritage (as they should be) and they also consider themselves Greek Orthodox. And yet many of these people rarely partake of the sacraments and even stand as godparents for infants.

    I don’t want to press the point beyond civility, but such behavior would never be tolerated in the OCA (at least west of the Mississippi or south of the Mason-Dixon line). Needless to say, such a lacksadaisical attitude is complete verboten in ROCOR and the Russian patriarchal parishes here in the US.

    As for Fr Ivanoff’s comments, he didn’t stop w/ the OCA. Listen to AFR for an old interview of his. More importantly, a GOAA priest told him a while back that the numbers for ALL jurisdictions were so grim that they GOAA sent out a detailed questionnaire to all GOAA priests asking them to HONESTLY state the correct stats. I.e. how many in church on Sunday, how many communed, how many are Orthodox, how often they attend on Sunday, how often they attend per month, etc.

    Again, not to belabor the point, but how many new missions has the GOAA established in 2008? 2007? Do you know of any? I don’t. Listen again to AFR and an old interview with Fr James Kordaris, director of missions and outreach. When asked how many new parishes and/or missions were established per year, he wouldn’t give a number. Why not? Because numbers can be checked out. In the meantime, how many missions has the OCA established in that same period? Here in the South for example, we had three deaneries in 2003, in 2006 growth was so significant that three more were added. Growth certainly appears to be in the other jurisdictions. (Again, Antioch went from 65 to 245 in 30 years.) That’s explosive.

    I’m in contact w/ GOAA priests via the internet and they tell me the situation is more grim than the happy, triumphalist face you and Joe put on it. It’s possible that the the total GOAA numbers (that includes pious grandmothers who attend weekly plus those who attend hardly at all) may have peaked in 1998. The firing of +Iakovos and the tumultuous archpastorate of +Spyridon took its toll nationwide. Some have told me that at least 20% have left the GOAA since that time. That’s permanent loss to the nowhere, the AOCA, OCA, or regular attendance at the growing number of monasteries.)

    Also, how many seminaries does the GOAA have? One. How many does the OCA have? Three. I know that Alaska is struggling but it’s keepin’ on. St Tikhon’s recently had a scandal and it’ll take awhile to recover from that. (If you read The National Herald, Holy Cross still hasn’t recovered from the scandalous events of ’98, but I digress.) Regardless, ask yourself this, if the OCA is so much smaller than the GOAA, then why doesn’t the GOAA have more than one seminary? Because they don’t need one perhaps? That doesn’t make sense. 25% of the parishes in the Diocese of Denver are vacant. Is it because of lack of funds? Well, what’s Leadership 100 for? The answer is because growth isn’t expected. Again, the Diocese of the South is getting ready to open a new seminary in Dallas in the Fall of 2009. That would mean the OCA would have four seminaries at that point.

    Let’s keep going down this path: the Ukrainian eparchy of the EP has one seminary, the Carpatho-Russian eparchy of the EP has one as well. Like Alaska, they’re essentially self-service seminaries, if you go there to study, you go back to your jurisdiction and/or diocese (in the case of Alaska). (Antioch doesn’t have a seminary but they made the strategic case to subsidize their students by sending them to either St Vlad’s or Holy Cross.)

    Anyway, you get my drift. Where there’a a demand, the supply creates itself. So knock off the triumphalism. It may work on the East Coast, but it ain’t playing in Peoria.

  100. BTW, George, did you know that the U.S. Census Bureau uses that crazy “1,064,000” members figure for the OCA in its

    Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009

    See it here:

    Hate to be snarky about this, but non-facts are still non-facts.

    It’s true that holiness needs no great numbers to make its case (cf. the “narrow gate”) but that hasn’t stopped the OCA past and present from trying to bolster its own case for primacy in the U.S. based on numerical (member figures) falsehoods:

    “We’re almost as big as the Greeks and we’re the fastest growing!”

  101. Dean Calvert says


    You are absolutely on the right track. The numbers don’t lie…so they don’t publish anything of substance.

    Let me give you some more tidbits of info that I’ve picked up.

    First, baptisms in the GOA, as I mentioned above in a post, peaked at 12650 in 1970. By 1986 this same number was down to 7389 – a drop of almost 42%.

    By 1995, the last year consolidated information was available for the GOA (North and South Am) this number had recovered to 9172 – still 27% below the peak year.

    At the 2003 or 2004 Clergy Laity convention, during which the charter was debated – the most stunning number that I heard was from Abp Demetrios during the first day. In remarks to the convention, he stated that something like 18 ordinations had occurred during the previous year. I might be high (memory is a little fuzzy..might have been more like 11).

    What I remember clearly is doing the math…550 parishes x 1.5 priests = estimated 823 priests for the GOAA x 5% attrition = about 40 priests per year needed just to breakeven. I actually got up and asked Fr. Nick Triantafilou the question: “Fr. Nick, my math tells me we need probably 35 priests per year just to replace those dying and retiring…the archbishop gave numbers yesterday which were far below that…we must have a real problem on our hands?”

    Fr. Nick hemmed and hawed from the dais, and gave me a very polite non-answer. Later on, in the hall, one of his minions came and found me…and apologized for the nonsense answer that I received. “Your math is pretty close…we need about 25 per year and we’re producing nowhere near that number. I’m sure Fr. Nick would have answered your question, except that it would have gored too many sacred cows up there on the dais…I apologize for him.”

    I work with bankrupt food companies for a living. I’ve told more than one Greek bishop, “You find me a company with a declining unit growth rate, declining productivity, inconsistent quality and poor leadership…and I’ll show you a company that’s going bankrupt – and by any objective measurement – you preside over a bankrupt organization.”

    I stand by those words.

    But I’m still with Elias…let’s get the numbers…maybe I’m wrong.

    Best Regards,

  102. Elias D. O Mytlinaos says

    Q. Why aren’t your in-laws paying stewards?

    A. Let’s assume they are on a fixed income or in a nursing home or maybe poor. They give to the church but not to get Theological schools and seminaries out of the crapper. Not to mention frivolous lawsuits but disgruntled individuals.

    Q. How can they justify being “members of the Archdiocese” if they don’t help pay for its maintenance?

    A.I know it is difficult for some to understand particularly in an American mindset.1st no justification needed to be a member of Christ’s body. 2nd They don’t have to pay for its maintenance to be a “member” this is a new phenomena in Orthodoxy as you know (or maybe not)

    Q. Would you consider these people stewards of the GOAA? I wouldn’t, and neither do the bookkeepers at GOAA HQ in NY. Canonically, they aren’t even members of the Church either but that’s another.

    A. No they are not stewards of the church but they are members of the Orthodox Church. By your standard most of the priests in the OCA are non-Canonically because they shave their beards. Oh but wait, are you one of those who picks and chooses which canons are dead, irrelevant and so on?

    George for someone who doesn’t “press the point beyond civility” you are very quick to judge someone un- canonical. It seems that your points are often proven by immediately designating someone un-canonical, uniformed or ethnic.

    You make irrelevant points, for example: you ask about missions in the GOA as if the missions in OCA with all 2, 3 or 6 families (who could go to any other Orthodox church in the area) mean something. The DOS of the OCA is opening mission by the handful usually a few miles from another jurisdiction after that priest serves in that community then moves on and opens his own (Montgomery, Alabama; Tampa, Florida, Atlanta, GA…). But lets talk unity. You say how many churches in the GOA have 700 members? I say how many OCA churches have a dozen or two families.

    And of course we know the OCA is “Not ETHNIC” no pirogues, matushkas and babushkas there, but we should ask a Vladyka to be sure. And we don’t like ethnic nationalism unless it’s American because the church is full of leadership both in the clergy and laity, the real issues are no different now than when the OCL was first founded

    George, I like you (we’ve met a few times) but in respectful retort I say there too much assertion, assumption and heresy in your arguments and not to mention a lot of bias and hypocrisy with very little substance. I would love to see some open, frank and fruitful discussions without the presupposition of autocephaly.


  103. Brother in Christ says

    Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

    It is obvious that we’re going through a difficult time, and everyone is trying to be of help. However, if we really want to help Orthodoxy spread and flourish, and if we want to be saved, we can only do so by repenting, by getting to know our own weaknesses, by seeking to understand one another, by loving one another, by asking for forgiveness and being willing to fogive, by helping and supporting one another, by seeing the beauty of God in every one of us, and ultimately by acquiring the Holy Spirit (as St. Seraphim of Sarov has taught).

    Orthodoxy survived to this day because it did not seek earthly glory but rather because in every generation, and in every place in the world, there were those who carried the cross, and gave their life for the love of God and the love of the Church. We did not make it this far because of material wealth, autocratic rule, rigid canons, threats, and strong disciplinary measures. Orthodoxy made its way to us, and hopefully through us to those that will come after us, because in every generation there were those applied the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in their life, being humble and meek, showing mercy, helping make and spread peace, thirsting for righteousness… Those were the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and the shining stars of the Universe and of Orthodoxy.

    My beloved brothers and sisters, given that we’re witnessing some difficulties and misunderstandings in the midst of the Church, let us go back to the basics of what we learned and remember what Orthodoxy is all about: ‘Every one will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another’. This is then the time to love and pray more, and talk less, so we can hear what God wants us to do. This is the time to let God be God in our life and of His Church, whom we are all members individually, and let the Chief Shepherd lead His flock to safety.

    May “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of us”, Amen!

    P.S. ‘Love never fails’!

  104. Re: “..if the OCA is so much smaller than the GOAA, then why doesn’t the GOAA have more than one seminary?”

    Perhaps because Greek seminarians have the option to study at wonderful places like the University of Thessaloniki where they have the opportunity to learn theology of both the academic and spiritual kind?


    In the interest of full disclosure, I am not Greek, though I am exactly half Greek Orthodox and half Russian Orthodox. Neither half has any interest in being ruled by the OCA.

  105. George Michalopulos says


    You answered my question by not answering my question. I never said that OCA parishes had 700 members or were numerically large. That’s kind of the point. The joke about Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas is that he can start a mission with “two old ladies and a hat.” But so what? Our own mission started with 14 adults and three pre-teens in 2003 and now has grown to 75 people. That’s how missions start (ever hear of the 12 Apostles?) That’s growth. End of story.

    Orthodoxy is not a mega-church phenomenon. It is better to have 125+ people per 1 priest in a parish than 400+ who kind of meander in and out as the year progresses. I asked a ROCOR priest how many parishioners he had, and he told me 80. I then asked how many attend vespers, he told me 30+. I have found out that that’s the key: a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3 for Vespers:Liturgy. Let’s not forget, those people confess regularly. I have found that that’s the case in the OCA. In our mission, we had 18 people on a Sunday but 7 the nite before. Those seven confessed. And more importantly, they weren’t the same seven or eight every Saturday. (I myself could not attend every Saturday nite because of work.)

    Also, we were told by Archbishop Dmitri that once we got to 150 people, to not get comfortable, because we were going to start a new mission. And another, and another. That’s growth. So which would you as a bishop rather have? a diocese that went from 12 missions and parishes in 1978 to over 65 today even if each parish has less than 100 people on average of a diocese of 50 parishes during that same time period? Even if the “official” stats say that there are 80 “families” within each of those churches? I know which one I’d rather have.

    Parenthetically, would you rather be the priest of a parish in which the 50 adults actually tithe? Or would you rather be the priest of a parish which has 150 adults but they pay “dues” and you have to have an food festival every year to pay your salary? This is America, tithe. If you’re poor, give up a pack of cigarettes a week and put that money in the tray. I didn’t mean to judge your in-laws. But did you ever hear parable of the widow’s mite? I know a poor black woman who is on kidney dialysis, has emphysema, had open-heart surgery, and is diabetic. She’s on Medicaid, and has to take public transportation to church (she’s Orthodox), yet she always puts money in the tray. Every Sunday. She attends pre-sanctified liturgies (often she’s one of three people). And she’s in the GOAA.

    You undercut your point further when you said that some people might not want to support the GOAA (I believe the word you used was some of its institutions were in “crapper”). Well, OK. But doesn’t this indicate lack of growth, accountability, or just plain lack of vision on the part of the GOAA? More to the point, we are CALLED to tithe. That’s in the Bible. To suggest that that’s a “new” concept for Orthodoxy is bogus. Before the Turkocratia and the establishment of state-sponsored churches, the Christians of Byzantium built and maintained their own churches (read Runciman, “The Great Church in Captivity”).

    As for the canons, the lack of beards and priestly garb was never one of the biggies, and you know it. NOT going to church however on a regular basis, not confessing, not communing, and not giving, you know ARE biggies. You can’t squirrel your way out of that one. (I’ll give you this one however: I bet more priest in the OCA wear cassocks and beards than in the GOAA, so if we’re going to play “who’s not more canonical?” you may very well lose this one.)

    Also, I notice that you didn’t answer my point about the need for only one seminary in the GOAA. Therefore your quietness mandates acceptance of my point (that is no planned future growth in the GOAA).

    Joe, I concede your point about the OCA’s numbers in the Census. You however have yet to concede my (verifiable) claim that the GOAA likewise and with more profligacy puts out equally absurd numbers. I’ll tell you what: next time I see Metropolitan +Jonah, I’ll ask him to revise the numbers to reflect the actual reality if you’ll ask the Archbishop of America-East-of-the-Hudson-River to do likewise. Until then, it seems to me that that’s the entire basis of your argument.

    As to you’re point that the GOAA doesn’t need another seminary because students can go to Thessalonika is special pleading. Do you know of any students who have gone to Thessalonika for training? How many? How many returned to the US to pastor parishes? Is there an official program for this purpose, one endowed with scholarships and a contract that upon graduation, said student will be incardinated from the Church of Greece into a GOAA parish? I’d like to know if this is the case. I know of one such student who quit HC and went to Thessalonica because he didn’t like the drift of Holy Cross (too many converts studying there): he crapped out.

    Also, your contempt for the OCA is probably ethnic, because for a long time, it was viewed as “Little Russian” or Carpatho-Russian in makeup and from what I understand, the Great Russians have long disdained these people. I hope this isn’t so because this would be a sin and if I’m wrong about your intentions, I apologize. But let’s go beyond that, if you don’t want an American to be metropolitan of the Orthodox Church of America, then you’re going to be beholden to a Turkish citizen, pure and simple. Is that what you want? I’m 100% Greek and proud of it. But I came to the conclusion that the secular Greek-American East Coast elite and the hierarchy can never get over their misbegotten Byzantine delusions of grandeur. Like the free Greeks of the Kingdom of Greece, they had to take their church’s autocephaly from the Phanar which is an organ of the Turkish state (and has been for half a millennium). I’m not proud of what Peter the Great did to the Russian Church but in the final analysis, the Romanovs at least were Orthodox Christians and they encouraged the Church in its evangelistic mission. The sultans never did and their successors never will.

    Anyway, the fact that both you and Elias are on this website means you love Orthodoxy and as such, I ask for any forgiveness. I’ve tried to keep my words civil and relied as much as possible on actual data. Every now and then my innate sarcasm comes through and for that I apologize. (I won’t be able to take Communion today because of my words.)

  106. George Michalopulos says

    p.s. Elias, I re-read your last post. If we’ve met, I’m at a disadvantage. I’m glad you like me, I too, never met a man I didn’t like. If I’ve said something heretical, please point it out this would disturb me immensely. (The presupposition of autocephaly however is not heretical.) Again, please forgive me if I’ve offended you in any way.

  107. Elias D O Mytlinaos says

    George, I meant here-say not heresy sorry. It’s not a question of forgiveness or offense it’s a question of honest discourse, though sometimes it’s hard to discern the real motive behind some posts. We are all lovers of Orthodoxy though the OIAEC judges otherwise.

    Again you insinuate a lot out of your posts for example. To infer that “I undercut my point” or “answered by not answering” then making a completely different point doesn’t help you make your point. The rebetiko vernacular has a word: rechtis (sorry for the spelling) it is a person who puts someone else down to make themselves or their position seem loftier. I think this word is applicable. An example: a person would make their point by dismissing mine by saying I spelled applicable wrong in the last sentence, so my whole claim is erroneous.

    You do this quite often; you make the claim I suggested something was “new” when that wasn’t the point, though it is a very effective and distracting verbal tool. You do it all the time, as do some of the other posters. You even did it with regards to the seminary issue. I didn’t address several things but you’re able to infer your own outcome. That must give someone a great sense of validity.

    I never suggested we don’t tithe but you sure proved that point, especially since it’s in the Bible, I was impressed.

    This could very easily turn into a “who’s not more canonical?” though I would care to differ as to who may lose, giorgos opos lemei sto chorio tha se cathariso safto to thema 😉 (again sorry no Greek font in this laptop and of course its all in good fun).

    It’s ok if your innate sarcasm comes through but when that sarcasm turns into righteous indignation then I am disappointed because you do make one or two good points every now and then. I’d quote some ol’ Irish limerick, but afraid I’ll get scolded by the OIAEC (Orthodox internet anti-ecumenical council).

    By the ways; who are those ‘12 Apostles’ some new rock band? End of Story.

  108. Elias D O Mytlinaos says

    No Greek font because it’s too ETHNIC. To correct my last post, I have deleted all ethnic fonts from my computer; No Greek, No Cyrillic and No Arabic just English Kyrie Eleison for me!

  109. Elias D O Mytlinaos says

    I know its hearsay by the way… just offering some targets for the stones. I want to ask you to please forgive me if I’ve offended you in any way. As we are in Great and Holy Lent and it seems the anger sharks are swimming in my head.

    God Bless you and Pray for our Holy Orthodox Church and our Patriarchs.

  110. Re: “Also, your contempt for the OCA is probably ethnic, because for a long time, it was viewed as ‘Little Russian’ or Carpatho-Russian in makeup and from what I understand, the Great Russians have long disdained these people.”

    “Contempt”is your word. “Ethnic” is your own prejudice.

    My sadness about the OCA is about its little-Orthodoxy. To be specific, the OCA is responsible for loosing the false dichtomy of “little t tradition” versus “big T Tradition” into the minds of Orthodox Christians in America.

    “Little t” is an OCAism (sort of an euphemism) for anything that its converts or second-third generations cradles feel is too ethnic or Old Country, things like pew-o-clasm, beards, headcoverings, fasting, monasticism.

    As another poster commented, the “American” Orthodox OCA has no problems with things like “Vladika” or “Matushka” and playing ethnic in order to bring ’em in during bazaar time. But a very vocal element (Majority? Hard to tell. Since the OCA is such a small jurisdiction, even a single parish or Web-gathering like ocanews has a very loud voice.) just doesn’t want any of the Saint-producing traditions of the ethnics/Old Country that conflict with their American lifestyle and so they literally belittle these traditions with the “little t” tag, which is a toxic marriage of Protestant minimalism that many of their former-Evangelical converts have never abandoned with the self-loathing/wannabe mainstream ethos of the second and third generation cradles.

    So much of what these Wholly Minimalists within the OCA call “little t traditions” are the outward signs of our immaterial relationship with the Living God.

    Here’s what Fr. Victor Potatpov (ROCOR) has to say about this:

    Dostoevsky wrote a remarkable parable about the growth of sectarian antiritualism in Russia during the last century:

    They carry a vessel of very precious liquid; all fall down, all kiss and adore the vessel containing this precious life-giving fluid. And then, suddenly, people stand up and begin to cry: You blind! Why do you kiss the vessel? It is only the live-giving fluid contained in it that is precious; only the contents is precious and not the container; but you are kissing glass, simple glass; you adore the vessel and the glass, ascribing all the holiness to it, and you are forgetting about the precious fluid that it contains. You idol-worshipers! Throw away the vessel and break it. Adore only the life-giving fluid, and not the glass!

    And the glass was broken, as we read further in Dostoevsky’s parable, and the life-giving fluid, the precious contents, is poured out on the earth and disappears into the earth. They have broken the vessel and lost the liquid. What miserable, unhappy, benighted people! exclaims Dostoevsky as he ends his parable.

    Many of us left the OCA because we could not stand the sound and sight of breaking glass.

    The late, great Metropolitan Laurus (Memory Eternal!) of the ROCOR was Carpatho-Russian. He was a true monk, a saintly and humble ascetic who was used by God to reunite the Russian Orthodox Church. While he was in the world, I didn’t exactly hear his fellow Carpatho-Russians in the OCA singing his praises or even calling him one of their own…unfortunately, just the opposite occured, even at the moment of his greatest work for the Kingdom of God.

    All of this makes me very cynical about what another Orthodox blogger characterized as “Jonah Messianism” that seems to be exciting a bunch of the OCA faithful.

    We had a truly saintly Metropolitan in America who accomplished a very great thing for the Kingdom of God and the OCA ignored him or treated him at best, as a rival, at worst, as an enemy.

    Nope, no contempt for the OCA on my part, just sadness. I’ve moved beyond the sour grapes belittlement of the Orthodox who do not share the OCA’s vision or latest “re-visioning.” The very things that they disparage are the things that they have put out of the reach of their faithful but cutting themselves off from their elders in the Mother Churches, all in the name of a delusional American Exceptionalism.

  111. Scott Pennington says

    I live in an area where there are three Orthodox Churches, one Greek (mine), one Antiochian and one OCA. My parish is growing, if at all, very slowly. But it’s a university town and we get a lot of through traffic. There is no outreach of any kind that I’m aware of.

    I’m not sure about the Antiochian parish because I’m not there on Sunday mornings. If vespers are an indication it appears that they are maintaining a stable number. Not sure if there’s much growth.

    The OCA parish is bursting at the seams. I started in Orthodoxy there in 2002 and there were just a few families. Now their Sunday attendance rivals our parish and when they get their new church built, I believe they will pass us in membership within a few years.

    Oh, my parish has been in the area for 60 years.

    Now, I don’t like to generalize from one little case study. The OCA parish is composed almost exclusively of converts who are mission minded individuals.

    If this situation is any indication of what’s happening around the country, then the OCA might very well become the dominant American Orthodox Church by sheer demographic attrition within a few generations.

  112. Michael Bauman says

    With the addition of three new bishops to the Holy Synod of the OCA who appear to be well qualified men in no way connected to the old guard, plus the leadership of +Jonah, Scott may be quite correct.

  113. George Michalopulos says


    your “sadness” for the OCA was directed to them because of their treatment of the late Metropolitan +Laurus of blessed memory. Well, that’s too bad. But that’s in the past. The old hierarchy did many things poorly. If you can’t let go of that, well, all I can say is: I hope I’m not judged because of my actions. I’ve always been a big supporter of ROCOR’s piety, but let’s not forget, the Metropolia was here before them and any other jurisdiction. In case you don’t know, Patriarch Kyrill has directed his parishes in the US to commemorate Metropolitan +Jonah during the Great Entrance. That’s as it should be: Jonah is the primate of the autocephalous, indiginous American Church.

  114. Michael Bauman says

    Joe, I don’t know where you’ve been in the OCA, but let’s take your list one by one:

    1. Pews; several convert OCA parishes I’ve worshipped in do not have pews in the western sense, pew-like benches around the outside, but not rows of pews;
    2. The priests wore beards and cassoks during the day
    3. The women worshippers in the congregation wore headcovers
    4. Fasting was taught as the Church has traditionally taught it.
    5. The OCA has several monastaries which are populated and directed by American converts. I know some of the monastics personally and they are devoted to traditional Orthodox monasticism. They are not devoted to a dry legalism however.

    Now, if you want to direct your criticisms toward the Antiochians, of which I am one, be my guest except for #4 (at least in my parish).

    It is a sad fact of life that the Church frequently treats its most saintly members badly, only coming to our senses later. ROCOR did not exactly treat St. John Maximovitch with a great deal of charity. That stuff is our fallen humanity and it exists in all times and places in all jurisdictions.

    Unless the non-American jurisdictions change their methods and approach, the OCA is likely to be the only one left standing. What is of God will endure, what is not will pass away. We can wait until attrition shows us or we can actively work together to discern God’s will and take action.

    One Church is the norm and that to which we are called. Whatever else it may or may not be, the OCA is indigenous. If the MP, the EP and AP would work to strengthen the OCA and work toward unifying the indigenous Church instead of having turf wars, everybody would be better off. Here’s a radical thought: When Met. Philip reposes, the Antiochian Synod could ask +Jonah to assume the office of Met for the Antiochian Archdiocease and transfer every thing and everybody to the OCA. There could even be a monetary gift to Antioch as well. I’d have no problem with that as a continuation of already established Antiochian ministries.

    Just a thought.

    What will the GOA do once the Turks succeed in strangling the life out of the EP?

    With the MP already recognizing +Jonah, how much more of a step would it be to do it fully?

    Would the other Slavic jurisdictions hold out? Maybe, but maybe not. It could take a long time, or it could move quite swiftly. We’ll see.

  115. Once upon a time my wife and I were preparing dinner and almost getting ready to serve it. Toddler son comes over, “Want cookie!” I said, “No cookie. Dinner is coming, okay?” Toddler nods in the affirmative and toddles off. As dinner is being served, son shows up in kitchen again, mouth and face covered with cookie crumbs. Me: “Did you eat cookies?” Son: (Insistently)”No,” accompanied by vigorous head shaking (sending crumbs flying) to emphasize his point. Awww, too cute to for me to discipline so I just gave his chubby cheek an affectionate pinch and put him in his chair for dinner.

    The tiny OCA, with its earnest insistence on primacy in the United States reminds me of my toddler. “Want autocephaly!” No, little OCA, the rest of the Orthodox Church says that it’s not time yet and it’s not for you. “Want primacy!” Sorry, but the rest of the Orthodox Church doesn’t think so. “Momma say yes!” Sorry, little OCA, your Mother made a mistake which she and the rest of the Church will fix soon. “Want autocephaly, want primacy!” “Okay, okay, little one, we hear you, now go outside and play pretend some more!” What a cute little dickens!

    Just because a toddler wants something and insists on it, doesn’t make it so. Ask any parent. Ask any of the Mother Churches including Mother Russia. The OCA will demand. The OCA and its apologizers will go on blogs like this one to state and restate their case, but no one is going to take them seriously. It makes for fun blogging and online discussion, but none of the Patriarchates are going to budge on this. The sooner the OCA realizes this the better.

    No one,not even the Moscow Patriarchate has ever truly recognized the 1970 (little “a” autcephaly) and it looks like they never will. The stakes are too high and all of the Orthodox in America have moved past the 70s. Hopefully, Moscow will rectify her mistake in the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council or take action of its own. Until then, the OCA will continue to whine and plead in order to get its way, but it won’t work.

  116. Dean Calvert says

    Dear Joe,

    That was a cute story…now if it were only pertinent or even comparable.

    The OCA is not asking anyone for already has it…your comments, and other metropolia-phobes in the ROCOR notwithstanding. The autocephaly of the OCA is a fact that both you, others in the ROCOR, and the Mother Churches are going to have to get used to.

    Setting aside whatever other private issues you may have with the OCA, which seem to be legion, I would simply urge you to go take a look at the history books.

    Of all of the autocephalous churches in the world, aside from the original patriarchates, virtually none of them was recognized by the Mother Churches at first. I believe Serbia might be the exception…but there is only one.

    ALL of the other autocephalous churches spent years in the wilderness…labelled as schismatic by the Mother Church for varying periods of time, ranging from a very few years (I think the Church of Greece was recognized after only 10 years) to a very long period of time (Russia, 143 years before recognition by the Mother Church). Being labelled “schismatic” by people like you, patriarchs and Mother Churches simply comes with the territory. Unlike the facts you present, the more accurate “fact” seems to be that Mother Churches do not like to allow autocephaly…at least not until after the Daughter moves out.

    What we are witnessing on this continent is nothing more than a traditional progression toward an independent unified church. It may be anomalous because of the way Orthodoxy was brought here, but it is progressing toward the same endpoint nevertheless.

    When it does occur, which I honestly expect to be sooner rather than later, it will take on it’s own unique cultural characteristics, just as every other national church has. In America’s case, part of that uniqueness may very well be a multi-cultural dimension of Orthodoxy, which is not present in any other country in the world. Only a very silly few would expect a unified church in this country to be some sort of homogenized/sterilized English only Orthodoxy…we all know that cannot and will not happen.

    In any case, your rantings about the OCA are beginning to remind me of the Greek rantings about Turkey and Hagia Sophia.

    It’s time to get over it. We’re not getting Hagia Sophia back, and we’re not putting the OCA’s autocephaly back in the bottle. Not if there are 1,000,000 members….and not if there are 20.

    Best Regards,
    Dean Calvert

  117. George Michalopulos says

    Joe, I really don’t know how to answer you. You cling to the myth of the “tiny OCA,” yet you never acknowledge any of the arguments I or Michael or Scott or Dean made. Instead, you cling to little childish analogies. What exactly do you mean the MP never gave “full autocephaly” to the OCA? Are there now degrees of autocephaly? No, just autonomy or autocephaly, there is no in-between. But, since you like childish analogies, how about this: did you date any girls who were “almost virgins”? Did you believe them? Get over it. If tinyness is all that you have to bash the OCA, then you are clinging to a very thin reed indeed. As mentioned, the OCA may not really be that tiny (you don’t know for a fact one way or the other). And even if they are, as Michael pointed out, they may be the last midget standing.

    As mentioned, for a “tiny” jurisdiction, it is going to have 4 seminaries by the end of the year (it has three already). Anyway, I’d rather be in an autocephalous church that loves this country an its people rather than one that treats it’s American “eparchies” as nothing but cash-cows. If you really believe so much in the rightness of your cause, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and tithe (literally) to your jurisdiction? Indeed, why don’t any of the partisans of the EP likewise tithe to his various eparchies here in the US?

    I repeat: please take me to task for any of my assertions, answer them directly. Don’t evade them. The fact that you can’t or won’t tells me a lot. (I’d really like to see how you answer Michael. I was not aware how badly St John Maximovitch was treated by his fellow hierarchs in the OCA. I won’t hold it against them, I’m sure the saint has forgiven them. Interesting concept that, forgiveness.) Character assassination and ad hominem attacks render any arguments useless. Gratuitous comments can be answered gratuitously as well, I however will refuse to engage in such hostility.

    Have a blessed Lent and Pascha.

  118. Theodoros says

    Message to Dean Calvert

    As to the Church of Greece it was declared Autocephalous in 1833, but was recognized by the Phanar in 1850. This situation was distinct from the Autocephaly that was achieved by the Churches of Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Rumania.

    The faithful of independent Greece including Monks and hierarchs did not want to break away from the Ecumenical Patriarchate. There was a great deal of foreign intervention particularly from the British at the time which imposed itself on the Greek Church. The argument the British made was Greece needed a Church that would not be influenced by the Turks. In point of fact, the British were attempting to ensure that Greece would not go into the Russian camp since the Phanar was asssisted politically and financially by the Russian Embassy at Constantinople.

    The Russian Government and Russian diplomats in Athens backed the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the time, but subsequently accepted the Synodal Tomos declared by the Phanar in 1850. The original Autocephaly of 1833 was in uncanonical and was brought upon under Protestant influence with the participation of European lawyers who drafted the original Greek Constitution.

    As for the Greeks who rant about the Turks and Haghia Sophia, that would include me. Not because I expect to get it back anytime but it is a symbol of Genocide and mass misery inflicted on the Greek Church by the Turks.


  119. Elias D O Mytlinaos says

    Joe you’re the only one who makes sense!

    Your story about the cookie is right on.

    I applaud your effort and clear sense of the issues. George, Dean, Harry, Chrys and the rest though they do make some good points (and only a few) don’t get what is reality in the Orthodox world so they say then we’ll do it our way. Or we the ‘laity’ say so you the church are obligated.

    Some canons are biggies and some not so biggie but cookies aren’t pertinent or even comparable.

    Not to mention the vitriol towards The Holy Sees (or anyone who supports them: infidels) though they disguise it in compassion and ‘canonicity’ they have other agendas. They keep leading the horse to the water and can’t get it to drink.

    End of story!

  120. Michael Bauman says

    Joe, autocephaly means, literally, self-heading. In other words a group that elects or otherwise chooses its own head. HMMMMMMMMMMMM. If I’m not mistaken, the OCA just did that with zero input, advice or interference from any of the Patriarchs. Am I wrong or did I miss something? That is a prima facia case that the OCA has autocephaly.

    Joe, do you really thing that anyone would stand for any attempt to re-impose control over the OCA by any Patriarchate? If they did, how would it ever be inforced? I’d almost like to see an attempt to try it as it would likely do more to unify Orthodox in the U.S. than any positive step that could be taken.

    BTW, the OCA and Antioch have quite a number of converts, priests and laity, influenced by Fr. Seraphim Rose. I think it is quite likely that allowed to develop unfettered the Church in the US would be far more rigorous than you seem to think, but the rigor would be one fitted to this time and place. A rigor with the soul purpose of creating an avenue of salvation for the people of this land.

  121. George Michalopulos says

    Michael is absolutely correct. All jurisdictions are influenced by conservatism and traditionalism as evidenced by the popularity of Fr Seraphim Rose. Even the GOA has its Athonite monasteries and the AOCA has come a long way towards more services, confession, etc. Michael’s observation about the degree of rigor within the OCA is spot on as well. In my OCA parish, we don’t have pews or organs and that’s the way in all other OCA parishes I’ve attended. More importantly, there is hardly any difference in praxis and liturgy between the OCA and ROCOR. I can’t speak to the Russian patriarchal parishes but I would be surprised if that wasn’t the case as well.

  122. Scott Pennington says

    “The tiny OCA, with its earnest insistence on primacy in the United States reminds me of my toddler. “Want autocephaly!” No, little OCA, the rest of the Orthodox Church says that it’s not time yet and it’s not for you.”


    First of all, it is not true that the rest of the Orthodox world does not recognize the OCA as autocephalous. The MP represents a large percentage of the Orthodox Christians on earth. Furthermore, Churches of Bulgaria, Georgia and the Czech and Slovak lands also recognize OCA’s autocephaly. Second, if you are in ROCOR, being an autonomous province of the ROC, you implicitly recognize the autocephaly of OCA. True, ROCOR’s particular situation being an anomaly here, it inhabits much of the same canonical territory as the OCA.

    Nonetheless, in his recent letter Patriarch Kirill addressed Metropolitan Jonah as “Your Beatitude”. Sounds like the ROC sees OCA as autocephalous.

    So really, just as it doesn’t matter what the EP wants for the American Orthodox, so it also doesn’t really matter what OCA bashers want. They have no power to hamper the OCA. But if that is a truth too uncomfortable for you to face, you’re welcome to continue with condescending and demeaning analogies. They don’t reflect well upon you though.

  123. Well, you can imagine the scene: This very weekend I finished racing through “Becoming Orthodox” by Peter Gillquist, I was excited by what Fr. Gillquist had to say.

    I was led to Gillquist’s book after being disheartened by the doctrinal laxity and spiritual confusion within American evangelicalism, in particular a recent craze called “prophetic evangelism” cropping up in many non-denominational churches.

    And I had prayed and sought God’s guidance, and I was preparing to attend a local Orthodox service within the next week.

    Hope was burning bright in my heart….

    … and then I read this article and the numerous comments that followed.

    And now my despondency is deeper than ever.

    Lord, have mercy.

  124. I guess the positive thing out of this – the key takeaway – is that thanks to the photograph of Reverend Archimandrite at the top of the article, I’ll now have a permanent visual embedded in my synapses whenever I read about Jesus confronting the Pharisees. I’ll always see Archimandrite’s smiling face when I think of a white-washed tomb, a scribe, a Pharisee or a hypocrite. Woe to Rev. Archimandrite.

  125. Steve Tinker says

    This is my first post so I’ll be brief.
    I do not understand comments like
    “The tiny OCA, with its earnest insistence on primacy in the United States”.
    The fact is, we need to have an independant American curch. If we were suddenly to unite, than guess what, the GOA folks would probably have the majority. As it should be. So comments like “the OCA wants to absorb us” just don’t make sense.
    Put it this way: Whoever has the most Bishops, wins!! 🙂

    St Barbara’s (OCA)
    Fort Worth

  126. Dean Calvert says

    Dear Theodoros,


    With due respect…I think arguing about the “type” of autocephaly is fruitless. I don’t think anyone would suggest that the Church of Greece is indeed autocephalous, autocephaly being defined as selecting the head of their own church…would you?

    Setting that red herring aside…let me first apologize for my snarky remark about the Greeks. I’m Greek myself, my family was most likely in “the City” at the time of the conquest in 1453. I have no issue with those underlining the misery or genocide of the Greeks in either 1453, or in 1922. That is a historical fact.

    My point is simply this – in 1922, when the Greeks were exterminated from Ionia/Asia Minor, 2500 years of Hellenism was wiped out on that continent. People like you, and me are outraged about it. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about it.

    On the other hand, there is an ONGOING extermination occurring, right here in this country, which we COULD do something about if we were united. Ask the Sunday School director of your parish for a list of children enrolled in your parish Sunday School 30 years ago. Then go and find out how many are still Orthodox…if you are like me (I did this) you will find out it is less than 10%!!!

    Now think about what happens when that occurs…these are families which have likely been Orthodox for 33 generations (do the math!). When that first link is broken, which is occurring in this country, all the future generations are lost to the Church.

    Look at it another way – if the current Sunday School class was marched up to the Solea, as happens on Sunday of Orthodoxy in most parishes, and the priest announced we are going to excuse and excommunicate 80% of those children – there would be rioting in the streets…yet this is the reality of what is occurring.

    My point is simply this – rather than waste our time on nonsense issues (I consider “degrees of autocephaly one of them), let’s do something about saving the future generations of Orthodox. I’ve always taken that responsibility very seriously.

    Again, please forgive me for any offense.

    Best Regards,
    Dean Calvert

  127. Michael Bauman says

    Steve, we either all win or all loose. Continuing as we are–we all loose. The Orthodox Church in the U.S would/should be multi-ethnic (Slav, Greek, Syrian, Anglo, Hispanic, Asian, African). Think of the beauty and the witness! It is only our insistence on sticking with antiquated categories that keeps us from doing our job. Good grief, we do it together in IOCC, why not here at home to address the spiritual and moral needs of our own country.

    Right now we are all adamanently refusing to do what Jesus Christ is calling us to do.

  128. Steve Robinson says

    Houghton, “Internet Orthodoxy” is a VERY slim and vocal and opinionated slice of the real deal. Visit a parish, not websites to get Orthodoxy. The internet is mostly heat, the “Light” is in living among flesh and blood folks who are striving for their salvation in a flesh and blood community in real relationships.

  129. Michael Bauman says

    Mr. Robinson, I’m confused, you don’t think that the Orthodox folks here live in real Orthodox communities are real flesh and blood and striving for our salvation in real relationships? Are we some dis-emodied cybergeeks?

    I have conversations every bit as ‘opinionated’ in my parish as I do here. Orthodoxy is not some cloak put on over us so that we come out as cookie-cutter clones. In fact, the history of the Church shows us just the opposite. The Orthodox botherhood tends to be quite rambuncious with each other–not unlike a giant lapidary.

    Sure it is easy to let personal opinion over-ride genuine Orthodoxy, and the internet can certainly tempt one in that direction, but in case you haven’t seen this site: you might want to give it a try.

  130. Steve Robinson says

    Hi Michael, No, all I’m saying is the people who post on blogs are a thin slice of Orthodoxy. You might have such conversations in your parish but not with everyone, nor is everyone in Orthodoxy (or maybe even in your parish) concerned about this stuff or have strong opinions one way or the other about it. I’m merely responding to someone who has potentially determined to give up on Orthodoxy based on what he sees here over one issue and a handful of people who obviously have some passion about this one issue. One cannot judge “Orthodoxy” by what one encounters on the internet… Even from my podcasts (Our Life in Christ and Steve the Builder, or from my blog Pithless Thoughts…I’m as much a part of the Ortho-blogoshpere as anyone here and I hope no one judges what they think Orthodoxy is all about by me.)
    Until someone meets us personally (incarnate) we are indeed disembodied cybergeeks. Me included.
    blessed Lent,

  131. Theodoros says

    To Dean Calvert,

    First, no offense taken by me. Apologies if came on too strong. It was unintentional.

    With regard to the Church of Greece, it is indeed autocephalous. They elect their own Bishops although at many times both Greek governments and the Phanar have attempted to influence those elections. In any case the Church of Greece has made clear under Archbishops Serapheim and Christodoulos that Athens recognizes Constantinople’s “primacy of honor” but not primacy of jurisdiction.

    With regard to the Church problem in America, I agree with you. The Greek Archdiocese is in less than perfect condition. In my opinion, the Archdiocese has been infected with the very secularism that Constantinople is complaining about. The responsability in large part for this mess are the Bishops who have failed to adequately teach their flocks. Their does not seem to be any vision right now.

    The inevitablity of autocephaly which I think will strengthen the Greeks as well as all Orthodox is one that should have been recognized when all Orthodox nationalities were established in this country. The Bishops are the ones who have permitted secular ethnicity to overtake Orthodoxy inside the Church.

    I see a difference in preserving national history (which is in large part inseperable from Church history and the experience of the Church, something that can also be said for Serbs, Russians etc..)on the one hand, and letting the Church become a social club while its members are drifing away.

    But the ignorance of much of the faithful and young people is not strictly a Greek problem. About ten years ago at the local mall, two Evangelicals approached me asking me if I wanted to join. I said no, I am Eastern Orthodox and politely recommended that they might like to at least research the Orthodox Church.

    One of them told me he was Lebanese and grew up in an Orthodox family. I asked him why he left. He said because he did not really get the same sense of being Christian in his parish as he did by going to the Evangelicals who were more fervent (in his view) in the Bible and in the worship of Jesus. He told me his family was not religious and going to Church was a matter of socializing with people, drinking coffee, talking politics etc.. He told me he liked being an Evangelical because he liked going out and spreading the word something that he thought Orthodox Christians did not do.

    I got the point very well that we have done wrong. I politely told him that I think he was given the wrong impression of what Orthodoxy is, that I hoped he would return and really study the faith and participate in the liturgy and prayer services.

    We definitely need to teach young people and family members to be spiritually educated.


  132. Joel Kalvesmaki says

    A point of clarification on a statement by the archimandrite:

    According to the 28th Canon of the 4th Ecumenical Council one of the prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch is precisely His jurisdiction exactly over these regions, which lie beyond the predescribed borders of the local Churches. The canon in question uses the technical term “barbaric” in order to denote these lands, since it was precisely referring to the unknown lands beyond the orbit of the Roman Empire.

    Here is the relevant Greek for canon 28 (text from ACO 2.1.3:89, lines 9-12):

    …ὥστε τοὺς τῆς Ποντικῆς καὶ τῆς Ἀσιανῆς καὶ τῆς Θραικικῆς διοικήσεως μητροπολίτας μόνους, ἔτι δὲ καὶ τοὺς ἐν τοῖς βαρβαρικοῖς ἐπισκόπους τῶν προειρημένων διοικήσεων χειροτονεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τοῦ προειρημένου ἁγιωτάτου θρόνου τῆς κατὰ Κωνσταντινούπολιν ἁγιωτάτης ἐκκλησίας… (translation)

    The three regions mentioned in this canon–Pontus, Asia, and Thrace–were all dioceses within the Roman empire. This canon makes no explicit provision for Constantinople’s jurisdiction over territories not already in the empire. In fact, note μόνους, which suggests that Constantinople ought not have authority beyond these three regions.

    The “barbarians” in question are resident within the three Roman dioceses. This judgment would have applied particularly to barbarians in the army or to barbarians given settlement rights.

    I do not wish here to promote one side or another, only to ask for more considered reflection on what the holy canon actually says.

  133. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    An explanation of what the term “barbarian” actually means (a correct definition, BTW):

    Barbarian – Greek origins of the term

    Barbarian comes from the ancient Greek word βάρβαρος (barbaros) which meant a non-Greek, someone whose (first) language was not Greek. The word is imitative, the “bar-bar” representing the impression of random hubbub produced by hearing spoken a language that one cannot understand.

    Read more

  134. Dean Calvert says

    Dera Fr. Johannes,

    With regard to Canon 28, I would refer everyone to the letter from Patriarch Alexei to Patriarch Bartholomew of Sept 18, 2002 which deals comprehensively with the claims of the EP.

    The letter is available in it’s entirety, at – scroll down about half way on the page for the letter.

    The language in the letter has always been particularly interesting to me, and it concludes, “…the assumption made by Your Holiness that on the basis of Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon…appears quite far-fetched and devoid of any canonical substantiation.”

    Pretty rough language between bishops from my experience.

    Best Regards,
    Dean Calvert

  135. Dan Georgescu says

    Dear Brothers,

    Father Gheorghios Kapsanis the Abbott of the Grigoriou Monastery on the Holly Mountain wrote last year a very good and thorough review of the JOINT INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THE THEOLOGICAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE ORTHODOX CHURCH that took place at Ravenna, Italy, on 13 October 2007.

    He highlighted the intentional overpowering language included in the document. The document is very skillfully written and it takes a good theologian like him and God’s presence to see the ramifications of these directions.
    There we can find the beginning of this long and tedious process of a couple of years to come that will lead us under one leadership of the Vatican.

    However this document has been signed by both parties and it is a law in its own sense.
    It is just matter of time and the right pressure in the right places.

    With love in Christ,

  136. John Couretas says

    The 2007 Ravenna statement is available here:

    Followed by an interview with Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev who explains why the Russians walked out of the meeting. (It wasn’t because of the Catholics).


    Bishop Hilarion: I hope that by the next meeting of the Mixed Commission, which will take place probably in two years, some solution will be found which will allow the Orthodox Churches to work together in harmony and solidarity, as was the case before Ravenna. In the meantime the Russian Orthodox Church will study the whole question of primacy in the Universal Church from a theological point of view. By the decision of the Holy Synod, the Theological Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate is given the mandate to examine this question and to produce a relevant paper. This paper will form the basis of the Moscow Patriarchate’s position in the future discussion on the issue of primacy within the Mixed Commission, if we return to it. I say ‘if’, because our ability to join the Commission will largely depend on the position of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

    Only God knows whether or when the division between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches will be overcome. But I believe that we must work for it. And I am deeply saddened that ‘church politics’ undermines our work. In the time when we urgently need to find new ways for coming closer to each other we demonstrate disunity and discord.

  137. Scott Pennington says

    “Only God knows whether or when the division between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches will be overcome. But I believe that we must work for it.”


    We really should get out of the habit of speaking as if the Church were or could be divided. The Orthodox Church is the Church. There are no “two lungs” or branches.

    If the Orthodox were to take our own ecclesiology more seriously, we would cease serious discussions like this with Rome. Recall Patriarch Jeremias’ correspondence with the Lutherans. It was limited to three exchanges where each side explained it’s position in great detail to the other. It became clear that the Lutherans were not interested in or open to the Orthodox faith. The Patriarch ceased the dialogue telling them not to write him again regarding doctrine, only friendly correspondence if they wished. That is the Orthodox way.

    Rome knows – – how could they help but know, they have some very distinguished scholars – – exactly what the Orthodox Church teaches regarding primacy and the doctrinal differences that separate us. They simply have no intention of reforming themselves. It’s all about power so they’re content to make up their faith as they go along. It really isn’t any more complicated than that and hasn’t been since the beginning of the ninth century.

    If Rome as a place holds some great significance for the Orthodox, why not just create an Orthodox See of Rome? I would think that that would be politically possible now. The See has been vacant for a thousand years due to the heretical posture of its purported bishops. Why not fill it with an Orthodox bishop? Perhaps the Italian authorities would allow him to build a cathedral. God knows they’re not in love with traditional Catholicism.

    Rome will not be converted en masse. It will be one Roman Catholic at a time. We ought to focus on conversion of Roman Catholics rather than conversion of Roman Catholicism.

  138. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Note 135. Thank you Dean. Also available here:

  139. I support neither Metropolitan Philip nor Metropolitan Jonah, at the same I disagree with the line of your argument.

    One difficulty with arguments advanced in the cause of Greek Orthodoxy, including your own, is the confusion with Christian Orthodoxy, it being impossible to find a discussion of Christian Orthodoxy by Greek Orthodox that do not refer to and rely on the pagan ideology of Hellenism. Indeed, as is often clear from GOA publications, the purpose of Greek Orthodox evangelism is the spread of the gospel of Hellenism, and the suppression of non-Hellenistic Christianity. One need only consider, for example, Syriac Christianity, as found St. Ephraim, St. Symeon the Stylities, and no shortage great patristic and right believing fathers. Similarly, Georgia can boast substantial independence from pagan Hellenist ideologies. In this regard, the scandal of the Jerusalem Patriarchate and the outrage among Greeks provoked by the suggestion that “their” Patriarchate it might fall into the hands of some other group betrays your cause.

    Another difficulty is fundamental historiography. The region of the North America most densely populated with Orthodox faith as a percentage of local population is the Aleutian Islands. Ethnically, not the most numerous, but if you were going to go one place to find a viable Orthodox culture, that is where it is to be found. Of course, the Orthodox of that region are not Diaspora people from anywhere but an indigenous people evangelized within the context of Orthodoxy from Russia.

    Still another problem is your sociological analysis. While it seems an excellent description of the narrowness of Greek parish life and of the seeming Protestant congregationalism, one finds in OCA and some Antiochian parishes, it is essentially a red herring. Issues of vocations, both monastic and priestly, is a reflection actual zeal for the faith, not culture, and of budgetary will. Secularization is a function of endemic lukewarm belief and extraordinary ignorance of the actual teaching of the faith on the part of many of the ethnically Orthodox faithful.

    That converts might have studied the faith, and might actually believe and seek to live it to the fullest does not appear to occur to you as an explanation for why many converts leave perfectly comfortable situations as clergy in their natal faith, there being no genuine Christianity outside of Orthodoxy (and indeed, as the True Church, within that, no division ontologically possible). Why, they might even have pastoral sensitivity, something often lacking among ethnic priests. My own experience is that OCA has the best handle upon pastoral care, though I have left that jurisdiction.

    An argument from seniority in place, missionary dynamic, and prior uncontested administration provisioning, might lead one to a meditation on St. Raphael Hawaweeny, which would lead one quickly to a consideration of the events surrounding St Tikhon of Moscow. Such a consideration, in the face of the reunification of the Russian Church Outside of Russia, might lead one to the conclusion notion that the Moscow Patriarchate should simply reassert its status before the Russian Revolution.

    It would be difficult to accuse the Russian Church Abroad of secularism, uncritical ecumenicalism, or of being overly influenced by such desires to look like Protestant Americans as congregationalism, distain for monasticism, pews, mechanical organs, Roman collars, or even the innovative employment of barbers.

    Following the reconciliation it would likely be unwise to accuse the Moscow Patriarchate of being theologically or pastorally eccentric, the derogatory “ultra-Orthodox” being the creation of radicals wishing to over throw the Faith once delivered to the Saints, and carrying the blood of the Holy and Great Martyrs with some watered-down, delusionary doctrine, incapable of doing the one thing needful: guide the soul in repentance and to salvation in Christ.

    After all, that is what it is about, is it not:
    Working out our salvation, under the guidance and protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, offering our tears and ever mourning our sins before God, hoping for good defense before the Great Judgment Seat of Christ, and living transparently to Love.

    Political aspirations, on the other hand, concern the manipulation of divisions and use of force, which is to say, the work of the Evil One. Therefore, nothing whatsoever should/needs be done. Christ will provide for the needful and necessary, we need only endure with faith, following, as might be given to each, in the way of the saints.

  140. Theodoros says

    TO JH

    Not sure if your comments were directed toward my last
    post. Can you clarify? Thanks.


  141. Death Bredon says

    Perhaps the EP can explain to we inexperienced New World Orthodox how it is Orthodox for the EP to decorate and honor pro-abortion politicians as well as mass-murderer Fidel Castro.

  142. Fr. Isaac Farha says


    I love the idea about creating a new Orthodox Patriarchate in Rome. Brilliant. I’m bubbling inside. Yes, why waste all this energy with trying to convert the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church to Orthodoxy? I think diologue may be important in some cases still when we’re dealing with the muslims for example but, by in large it seems that we’re often sharing pearls that don’t need to be shared…We shed light on people out of Communion with Orthodoxy and in turn they receive the pearls and use them to recognize that they still exist even though they exist in a state of nonexistence.

    Mow it over and let’s get a new established Patriarch in Rome.

    Ohh, I love this new idea…If its not new, its new to me…never heard or considered it before. May the Lord put it into the mind of the Patriarchs and those who could do something about it.

  143. Fr. Isaac Farha says


    I feel like the idea about establishing a new Roman See, A new Patriarchate in Rome or at least a new bishop of Rome in the Orthodox Church would is God-given. I’ve never thought about that or even considered it. Perhaps its an idea that is out there but, that was the first I read it. Thank you for sharing it.

  144. Fr. Isaac Farha says

    Correction “. . .in the Orthodox Church is God-given. . .”

  145. Bill Congdon says

    Scott and Fr. Isaac,

    I respectfully but firmly disagree with the idea of establishing a “new Orthodox patriarchate” in Rome. The Roman “patriarchy” (the Roman Catholic papacy) may be out of communion with the Orthodox Church and may hold heretical doctrines, but it is one of the seven ancient patriarchies and it cannot be simply thrown out and replaced. To attempt to supplant it with a rival Orthodox patriarchy within its own jurisdiction would would play havoc with fundamental Orthodox ecclesiology and to show dismissive and divisive disrespect. Roman Catholics would have every right to consider their church as infringed upon and violated as the Eastern Orthodox Churches (Russian, etc.) do who have suffered similar encroachments by Roman Catholic missionizing within their own jurisdictions. The idea is punitive, not unitive; it is not “from God” but rather partakes (unintentionally in your case, I am sure) of the same power-focused approach that Constantinople now manifests towards the American church. To establish a new Roman patriarchy would only cause increased bitterness between Rome and the Orthodox, and further marginalize Orthodoxy and its relevance in Western culture.

    Some relationships are permanent even when they exhibit division. When brothers disagree, they do not throw them out and replace them with other brothers. If they are Christians, and if they are truly “of the same mother” (in this case, the one ancient church), they continue to hold out hope for reconciliation and to show mutual respect towards each other. Even when there seems no practical way in which full reconciliation might occur, they still struggle to exhibit towards each other the self-sacrificing love for neighbor commanded by our Lord. To do otherwise would be to abandon the Gospel itself.

  146. Michael Bauman says

    For us to establish an Orthodox Patriarch in Rome would require two things: 1) That we actually believe and practice Orthodox ecclesiology, 2) The other Patriarchs give up ANY jurisdiction in the west.

    Since both of those are now under active dispute in our situation here in the U.S., I’m not going to hold my breath.

    I’ll ask the real question: How does the Patriarchal system serve the Church? Is its foundation anything other than Roman Imperial political structure?

  147. Michael Bauman says

    Bill, I have empathy with the charitable attitude you take and indeed, it seems to be the manner in which we have approached Rome in the past. I wonder how fruitful it is to continue to ‘dialog’ with Rome when it seems as if the ‘dialog’ only results in us compromising essential elements of classical Orthodox ecclesiology. Especially when we continue to be met with the same Papal position that everything would be fine if we would just submit to the Papal authority and stop being schismatics.

    The differences are irrconcilable this side of the 2nd coming. Why can’t we just recognize that and deal with each other in polite estrangement?

    In any case if taken to its logical conclusion, any Orthodox presence in any but the ancient lands is out of order because it is an affront to Rome.

  148. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Writing from the UK …. Understandably the focus is on America right now but let us not forget that Orthodox episcopal multiplicity and phyletism plagues the whole world; outside that is the current or former Orthodox countries. So, the question that interests me is as follows:-

    Why has the Phanar chosen America upon which to make its stand and why now? Why not Europe? Not that we won’t be next of course. (Please let’s try and address that without shouting for our own teams!)

  149. Theodoros says

    To JH

    1) With regard to Greek Orthodoxy and Hellenism. Hellenism in ancient times was associated with paganism. Today, it is a form of national identity which Greeks associate with modern Greece and modern Greek national consciousness is in fact firmly compatible with Orthodoxy as it arose during the period of the Latin occupation of Constantinople. This Greek-Hellenic consciousness was firmly consistant with Orthodoxy since it championed both theological and political resistance to the oppressive policies of the Roman Crusaders. The growth of Greek-Hellenic consciousness strenghtened the Orthodox party in Byzantium against the Uniate elements that embraced the Papacy and the filioque.

    Being Hellenic and Orthodox is no more a problem than being Russian and Orthodox, Serbian and Orthodox, or Arab and Orthodox. We Greeks have our traditions and our national views as these others (rightfully do).

    I have no idea what this “Gospel of Hellenism” you refer to means and I have not seen anything like it in the GOA despite some criticisms of my own that I have for the GOA.

    2) With regard to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, I have criticized the hierarchy there for years for the scandals that have been rampant and for there treatment of the Orthodox Palestinians who are undergoing tremendous difficulty. In any case, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece together with the other Churches have taken measures to rectify that situation.

    The Patriarch Theophilos has won the support of the Palestinian authority and the Jordanian government. Steps have been taken to include the Palestinians. The elavation to the Archbishopric of Atallah Hanna is indicative that reform in the Church of Jerusalem is under way.

    3) The threat of secularization emanates from a variety of sources, especially in the permissive godlessness of the present age. I have criticized the secularization of the Church and the attempts to define the GOA by cultural-ethnic stuff. But it is not inaccurate or inappropriate to respect or emphasize that Greek is the language of the New Testament, the Fathers etc. or that Orthodoxy and Hellenism preserved one another during the nightmare of Ottoman rule (as Steven Runciman correctly points out). What is evil and completely incompatible with the Church is chauvanism, racism, and exclusion. The attempt to badger someone for not being Greek or Russian etc. and to forget that Orthodox Christians of all backgrounds are obligated to bear witness to the faith for the conversion of all is what is inherently bad.

    4) With regard to your view that political aspirations are bad. What about Constantine’s legalization of Christianity which terminated the persecution of the early Church? Should Orthodox Christians not work under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to support brother Christians who are persecuted? A case in point is the Serbian Church in Kosovo which is suffering horrendous persecution at the present time. Is it not right for Orthodox Christians to raise their voices in protest? Does not Christ will for us to be united and to support one another?

    Did not Constantine, Justinian, and other Emperors wage wars against barbarians and enemies of the Church? What of Tsarist Russia who waged war on the Ottomans and secured better treatment for Orthodox Christians under Turkish rule? Also, what of ROCOR’s activities against the murderous Soviet regime?


  150. Michael Bauman says

    Theodoros, I obviously cannot answer for JH on the objection to ‘being political’ but some of my own observations:

    1. Politics is involved in any human endeavor of two or more people and in its purist form is simply the way we agree or disagree on how to order and govern ourselves. On that level, it is unavoidable.

    2. The historical examples you give are of an Orthodox ruler acting on behalf of believers, a condition we do not have any more

    3. The secular states of today are throughly corrupt and have no conscience or values except power (but that is always the way of the state). That makes it particularly difficult for Christians to be involved intimately in the poltical process from inside and remain Christians. The temptation to power and other forms of political ideology as a replacement for Christian faith is too great for most it seems.

    4. The answer it seems to me is for the Church to regain and express her prophetic voice, beholden to no political party or idelogy, seeking to curry favor with none. Such an approach will mean that the Church and her people are more involved in the political culture but in a completely non-partisan way. The call to repentance in love must never be forgotten. Excusing sin and immorality because one favors a particular political party or candidate cannot be. No matter what the party espouses or which party it is.

  151. Ferris Haddad says

    Wait — “The battle is joined?”

    I know I’m late to the party here, but really, this is hardly the opening salvo in a battle. The first shot was fired by Metropolitan Jonah last year, when he made the following statement:

    “[T]he presence of any other jurisdiction [besides the OCA] on American territory becomes uncanonical, and membership in the Synod of the Orthodox Church in America becomes the criterion of canonicity for all bishops in America.”

    That’s from his lecture/essay “Episcopacy, Primacy, and the Mother Churches.” It’s hardly surprising that the Chief Secretary of the Ecumenical Patriarchate would respond as he did.

    In any event, both of them are wrong — Met Jonah and the EP. The OCA’s myth of unity AND the EP’s appeal to Canon 28 are both wrong. I wish everyone would agree that NOBODY has the “right” to America and that we all must work together to make this thing work.

  152. Theodoros says

    Response to Michael Bauman

    1)With regard to Orthodox rulers, while it is true we do not have an Emperor or a Tsar, there are Orthodox governments however imperfect. Russia as the largest Orthodox country can lay claim as the Third Rome to the legacy of Byzantium. The state funeral of Patriarch Alexy and the presence of Russia’s President, Prime Minister and the military impressively showcased the extent to which Church and State can exist in the modern period for Orthodoxy. Russia also is in effect the prime supporter for Orthodox Christians who are being persecuted (Kosovo, Cyprus).

    A second example is Greece where the Church exercises a great deal of influence for the betterment of society and which is in the process of resisting secular encroachments upon society which will lead to the corruption of youth and the abandonment of the faith.

    On your third point, I tend to agree. As an Orthodox, I do not in fact because I object morally to the secular and anti-Christian policies of both parties. One being a party that supports abortion, same sex weddings, and euthanasia, and the other supporting policies that are harmful toward Eastern Christians in the Balkans and Middle East.

    Who is advocating excusing sin and immorality? The Church has an obligation to protest anything that is wrong. One of the best reasons for Autocephaly in America is for the Church to take a more visible stance on issues such as abortion, same sex weddings etc.. Such opposition is not necessarily political, but moral and in keeping with Church teachings.


  153. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Note 152. Ferris, the statement from Met. Jonah that you quoted is more nuanced than your conclusion allows. Here it is in context:

    In 1970, the Russian Orthodox Church granted autocephaly to its American mission, forming the Orthodox Church in America. While this action remains controversial to this day, it recognized the existence of a local Church in America, with the fullness of sacramental integrity and institutional self-sufficiency. In other words, the gift of autocephaly established a hierarchy with the authority to incarnate the vision and mission of the Orthodox Church in North America by its own work, and to take responsibility for the life and growth of the Church in North America while remaining accountable to the other national Churches throughout the world. Finally, there was an effort to establish Church life according to canonical norms.

    The dilemma, however, is that with autocephaly, the presence of any other jurisdiction on American territory becomes uncanonical, and membership in the synod of the Orthodox Church in America becomes the criterion of canonicity for all bishops in America. This, of course, has not been pushed by the OCA. What is at stake, however, is the canonical order of the Church, its vision and mission (emphasis added).

    Note Met. Jonah’s comment: “This, of course, has not been pushed by the OCA.” Met. Jonah does not seem to be making the case for OCA primacy. He only points to the canonical anomalies in the American situation.


  154. Ferris Haddad says

    Fr. Hans,

    Good point about the context, and thanks for posting the fuller quotation. Still, can you imagine how that must have been received by the EP? Here’s the now-Metropolitan of the OCA claiming that the presence of the OCA effectively makes the other jurisdictions (including the multiple ones under the EP) uncanonical. Yes, he says that the OCA hasn’t pushed it, but the simple fact that he makes such a statement is itself provocative. And of course, they could start pushing it at any moment.

  155. As someone who is a long-time member of the GOA, I can’t see why it would matter “how” the EP or anyone else “received” Met. Jonah’s comments. What matters is whether the comments are true or not. What makes them both powerful and poignant is that they are finally calling attention to the elephant in the living room: the granting of autocephaly has created a canonically untenable situation. This, it seems to me, is inarguable.
    What is interesting is what the response reveals.
    If the leadership didn’t realize this situation until these comments were made, then it does not speak well of them. If they DID see it but found the comments disagreeable, then the only appropriate response is to address the actual problem, not attack the one pointing them out. (Though, as I understand it, shooting the messenger is an ancient and time-honored way of dealing with news one does not wish to hear; today it is typically called “spin.”) Of course, if they did see the problem but did not speak out – for whatever reason – then we also have, at the least, a certain lack of moral courage. (This I doubt.)
    Thus, whether his willingness to state the unspoken truth clearly demonstrates clear perception, proper understanding or moral courage, it seems to me that Met. Jonah is giving some pretty compelling evidence to vindicate his calling to leadership.

  156. Dean Calvert says

    To Theodoros:
    150)TheodorosApril 08, 2009 | 1:48 pmtop ^
    To JH

    1) With regard to Greek Orthodoxy and Hellenism. Hellenism in ancient times was associated with paganism. Today, it is a form of national identity which Greeks associate with modern Greece and modern Greek national consciousness is in fact firmly compatible with Orthodoxy as it arose during the period of the Latin occupation of Constantinople. This Greek-Hellenic consciousness was firmly consistent with Orthodoxy since it championed both theological and political resistance to the oppressive policies of the Roman Crusaders. The growth of Greek-Hellenic consciousness strenghtened the Orthodox party in Byzantium against the Uniate elements that embraced the Papacy and the filioque.

    Being Hellenic and Orthodox is no more a problem than being Russian and Orthodox, Serbian and Orthodox, or Arab and Orthodox. We Greeks have our traditions and our national views as these others (rightfully do).

    Ted, I think a small adjustment is needed to make your interpretation a little more precise. In reading the original works of the Byzantine historians, one is immediately struck by the contempt, yes contempt, that most of the writers have for “hellenes”. There is a paragraph in the Alexiad, written by anna comnena, where she states something to the effect that “the hellenes, they are the ones that we have to bring to the capital to teach them their own language.” It’s not an exact quote, but it’s close (don’t have my Alexiad handy).

    While you are right about a Hellenic consciousness having arisen during the last 200 years of the empire, I doubt most people would have agreed or sympathized with it. I say this because even AFTER the Fall of C’nople, books written still maintain the “Roman-ness” of the people…in some books there is even a palpable confusion as to “what are we?” so much so, that in one book (Patriarchs, Emperors and Sultans?) the writer simply refers to the Byzantines/Romans as “Our people.”

    The fact is really this, for most of the life of the Eastern Empire, most citizens considered themselves Romans, not “Byzantines” and certainly not “Greeks.” At the same time, the term “Hellene” was used very specifically by those same people, generally in a derogatory manner, to refer to either 1.) the pagans or 2.) the people inhabiting that far off province of Hellas. Generally, when the second definition was used, there was an implication that you’d never want to go there…the same way a New Yorker might talk about Arkansas.

    Just for what it’s worth.

    Best Regards,
    Dean Calvert

  157. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    I know I am a European interloper but none of you have yet addressed my question … “Why America? Why now?”

  158. Michael Bauman says

    Why America–Money, its America, it has a growing Orthodox community.

    Why now–just a guess, but Pat. Bartholomew must be feeling more desparate. Clearly he wants to give the impression of having authority (the Turks continue their oppression of the Patriarchate saying that it is solely and internal affair since the Patriarch has no international authority). The authority comes into play in several areas: vis a vis Rome, the Moscow Patrirachate, calling the council and of course against the Turks.

  159. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    But he must know that Moscow will stand by the OCA and will not surrender its international presence. It doesn’t make sense.

  160. Michael Bauman says

    Father, I’m sure he does know that. I don’t think he is serious, he just wants to give the impression of reach and authority. If we’d play along (with the private and full understanding that nothing would really happen) it could improve the EP’s situation with the Turks.

    Barring drastic changes from the Turks, the EP will either die a slow death or be forced to relocate. If the EP was moved to Geneva, what happens then?

    I would like someone to address my question: What value is the Patriarchal system to the Chruch? Why do we have to keep it?

  161. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Dear Michael

    If a Patriarch (any patriarch that is, not just Constantinople) is really a Primus, a Presiding senior bishop who can convene Synods and provide some coherent leadership for the Church at the macro level, then there is good value to be found there.

    What we perhaps need to look at is how the patriarchal primacy is exercised for it is not one of jurisdiction (contra the later papacy) but rather a service of love. It has little or nothing to do with “rights.” Argue from “rights” or even from alleged precedent and you have already lost the case in my opinion.

  162. John Couretas says

    To Dean’s point, this is from Victor Roudometof, a scholar who has written on the cultural history of the Balkans:

    By making all “Romans” (i.e. formerly Orthodox subjects of the Byzantine Empire) members of the Ottoman Rum millet, the Ottomans officially sanctioned the Church’s Orthodox universalism, thus facilitating the legitimation of Grecophone ecclesiastical elites over the Balkan ethnies. Additionally, after 1453, the Church assumed jurisdiction over the civil affairs of the Orthodox communities. Moreover, by virtue of his residing in the capital of the empire, the ecumenical patriarch was able to usurp — in an informal but effective manner — considerable power from the Orthodox patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. In the hierarchical structure of the Eastern Church, the ecumenical patriarch ranked first, followed by the other Orthodox patriarchates, the autocephalous archbishoprics of Cyprus, Pec, and Ohrid, and the local metropolitans. In the eyes of the higher clergy, the Orthodox Church was the only legitimate bearer of the Christian tradition. For centuries, the enemy was the Roman Catholic Church, which consistently attempted to infiltrate the Orthodox world. Most post-1453 Grecophone publications were religious in nature, their major function being to counteract Catholic propaganda.

    The conflation of Greek ethnic identity with Rum millet identity was an indispensable component of the Ottoman social system. This conflation is revealed in the ethnic Greeks’ view of their ancient Greek ancestors, the Ellines (Hellenes), whom they considered mythical beings of extraordinary stature and power, capable of superhuman tasks. Popular folk tales dated the Hellenes’ exsistence to the dawn of time. In sharp contrast to this ancient race, the contemporary Greeks called themselves Romaioi (Romans) or Christianoi (Christians).

    And from Georgios Scholarios, on the eve of the fall of the Byzantine Empire (quoted in Runciman):

    I do not call myself a Hellene because I do not believe as the Hellenes believed. I might call myself a Byzantine because I was born in Byzantium. But I prefer simply to call myself a Christian.

  163. Dean Calvert says



    You and I obviously read the same books!

    Kalo Pascha.

    Best Regards,

  164. John Couretas says

    Thank you, Dean. And to you, and all faithful readers of The Observer blog — Kalo Pascha!

  165. Michael Bauman says

    Father Gregory, I have no problem with what you say about the Primus. The trouble is with the seemingly insatiable need we humans have to exercise control, i.e, power. Even at the height of the Conciliar period the Primus really rested with the Emperor, not with the Patriarchs. The Bishop of Rome assumed that mantle in the west. We have been struggling with the issue ever since. Five hundred (1000) years is long enough. It needs to be settled so we can get on with our real work.

    It has always kind of been in the back of my mind that despite protestations to the contrary, many Patriarchs have really agreed with Rome’s argument just not with the power being vested in Rome.

    Here’s the rub, do we (including all of the bishops) really accept the ‘weak'(from a worldly point of view) ecclesiology in which we are bound together in an hierarchical community by the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross with mutual submission in love or the strong ecclesiology of the Roman Church in which authority is vested solely in the human head and orders flow from the top down.

    If the get together that the EP is calling for can honestly with open hearts and minds address that question and make a declaration we will have something to go by. I am just very uneasy that the human viewpoint will over-power the Traditional understanding. Maybe that’s just my lack of faith.

  166. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    The east’s strong point Michael was and is the existence of more than one patriarchate. I cannot emphasise too strongly how the key player in all of this will be Moscow. This is not just about the US.

  167. Michael Bauman says

    Father, I agree, in fact, it is really about the rivalry between Moscow and Constantinople. The U.S. is caught in the middle so to speak.

    I also agree that, in theory, the mutiple Patriarchates is a strong point, in practice it has more often than not resulted in un-Christian turf wars which Rome then uses against us. Of course ignoring their own internal battles.

    It is a strength if we can actually get together more often

  168. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Indeed, that’s the key. Let us remember though that it was Roman centralism that led to the Reformation and the thousands of separate churches. Our turf wars are minor matters compared to the butchery of that era. Only when the Soviet and Ottoman yoke had ended would Orthodoxy find the freedom to be ABLE to put her house in order. There are bound to be a few teething problems.

  169. Theodoros says

    To Dean Calvert

    It is true that the Byzantines considered themselves Romans, that is because they were technically the Eastern Roman Empire that was the successor of the old Roman Empire. The Christian Emperors kept the title “Emperor of the Romans” up to the end until 1453. And it is true that the terms Greeks/Hellenes were looked poorly upon.

    Byzantine historian Warren Treadgold has said of Byzantium that its political institutions were Roman, its religion Christianity, and its culture Greek. Greek was the language for much of the Empire’s history, and also the Universities of Constantinople preserved many manuscripts of classical Greece. Before the end came in 1453, Christians fleeing the inevitable Turkish conquest brought with them manuscripts of the Hellenes that are the responsible for much of the knowledge pertaining to ancient Greece.

    What Anna comnena and the others despised was paganism. Alos, ethnic consciousness as it later developed was not part of the identity of people in the East Roman Empire. That came later with the Ottoman yoke.

    There are many poems and Greek folk songs dating to the capture of Constantinople that lament the passing of the City which indicate the rise of a Greek consciousness, indicating that Greek-Hellenism were terms that came to signify something else. If Anna Komnena and some of her contemporaries were alive today, that might have a different impression of what a Greek-Hellene is.

    Modern Greece is called “Hellada” and the people “Hellenes”. It has a new and distinct meaning than what it did in Byzantine times. Greeks today are “Hellenes” as the Byzantines were “Romans” as part of Roman Empire.

    The advent of nationalism and its influence on the Balkan nations contributed to the changes. The Greek War of Independence was influenced by nationalism, and so a great many changes have led to a redefinition of “Hellenism”. Certainly, the Church of Greece would not consider itself under the old understanding of Hellenism as paganism.


  170. Theodoros says

    TO Michael Bauman

    Father, I’m sure he does know that. I don’t think he is serious, he just wants to give the impression of reach and authority. If we’d play along (with the private and full understanding that nothing would really happen) it could improve the EP’s situation with the Turks.

    Barring drastic changes from the Turks, the EP will either die a slow death or be forced to relocate. If the EP was moved to Geneva, what happens then?

    I would like someone to address my question: What value is the Patriarchal system to the Chruch? Why do we have to keep it?

    To my understanding, the only system in the Orthodox
    Church is the Conciliar or Synodal system. All the
    Patriarchates are subordinate to Councils in addition to
    scripture and tradition. The only change I believe is
    needed is in the Ecumenical Patriarchate which should
    be compelled to do two things,

    1)Abandon its claims on Canon 28 and the claims to the

    2)Cease interfering in the affairs of autocephalous

    The Ecumenical Patriarchate is effective on those occasions
    when it cooperates with Orthodox Churches and presides at
    Synods. Perhaps a Council should be called to reign in
    Constantinople’s more problematic claims.


  171. Dean Calvert says

    To: Theodoros

    You are right about the Byzantines despising paganism…I’ve always gotten a charge out of the fact that the modern GOA promotes Hellenism, while St. Gregory Palamas railed against it in the 14th century in On the Triads.

    It is also obviously true that the language of the Empire was Greek…no question about that.

    And finally it was certainly true that the citizens of the Empire respected the ancient learning of the pagans. One of the things that amazes me the most is the ability of Byzantine authors to switch from quoting Homer, the Old Testament, Euripides and St. Paul all on one page. Reading the classics of ancient Greece was clearly a part of the Byzantine curriculum.

    However, when you read direct translations of Byzantine authors, I’m talking about Procopius, Psellus, Comnena, Kinnamos, Choniates, Sphrantzes and others, you are struck with how different their world-view was than exists today, particularly among the Orthodox.

    It was really kind of shocking to me, having been brought up in the GOA, with the emphasis on the “Greek” as it is.

    The worldview of all of the authors mentioned, and most of the others I’ve read is shockingly non-ethnic. They were Roman citizens, and proud of it. They considered themselves no less “Roman” than inhabitants of the original Rome -not some “semi Romans” as the later Western European historians tried to make them into.

    But what is even MORE shocking was the complete unimportance of ethnic or tribal affiliation. Sure, there are the occasional comments about the terrible Armenians, but for the most part they are just silent about whether someone was Greek, Syrian, Egyptian etc…it just did not matter. It was as seemingly unimportant to them, as what state you are from might be today…something you might talk about a a cocktail party after you’ve run out of things to talk about.

    That was shocking to me, as a modern day American, with all of our hyphenated Greek-American, Irish-american, Arab-American emphasis. It was very interesting to me to read that it simply did not exist in the Eastern Empire.

    While Mr. Treadgold is a wonderful author (and his wife a terrific photographer), I would not read too much into his comment about “Greek” culture.

    The way I always think about it is this: St. Nicholas would not have known what a “Greek” Orthodox was, and would have been insulted to have been called an “hellene.”

    I honestly think that’s a pretty accurate statement.

    Best Regards,

  172. George Michalopulos says


    I have been out of pocket for the past week (went on a pilgrimage to an “Athonite” monastery w/ another cradle and three converts (we’re OCA). I need to listen to Metropilan Jonah’s wonderful speech and I’ll get back to you in due time.

    Let us prepare for the our Lord’s Passion.

  173. Fr. Isaac Farha says

    I’m OCA too. I recently transferred from the Antiochian Archdiocese to the OCA. I desired to do so for the sake of unity and was allowed to do so (fortunate for me) because my wife is an Alaskan Native and it is better for her to be in a land that’s more like home (though we’re not in her actual hometown). You know Alaska seems to be a very different place than the lower 48.

    If you would please say one prayer for our transition.
    It has been interesting to read all the quotes. I can’t say that I can write in such a manner as many have but it seems like it has been a great thing to discuss.

  174. Fr. Isaac Farha says

    That is the topic of unity seems like a great thing to discuss

  175. George Michalopulos says

    Steve, re point #126. Are you sure the GOAA has more bishops? I’m not. And there are a whole lot more coming down the pike in the OCA.

  176. George Michalopulos says

    Brethren, regarding points #133-35, and #39: It is the validity of canon 28 which is at stake. I’m presently writing as essay regarding this ill-conceived canon. There are many things that bother me about it, they are in order:

    1. It was illicitly inserted into the acts of the council on a day in which the three presidents were not present (they were legates of Leo I1). This automatically shows that there was something mickey mouse about it. It was excized from the acts and never brought up again until much later and when the popes were unable to do anything about it.

    2. It made the archbishop of C’pole overlord over three independent metropolises (in effect, a metropolitan of metropolitans) which was unheard of.

    3. Joel, Fr Hans, Dean, JH, you are correct, even if accept the above two scandalous assertions, the language is very plain: “…the barbarians located WITHIN them…”

    This is a prime example of the scandals that compound upon each other once you allow a little heresy to fester. As I wrote in another essay, do the partisans of the EP want to rest their claims on evanbelism by stating that all non-Greek lands are populated by “barbarians”? God forbid! But if they’re true to their principles (doubtful) this is what they have to say and believe. The fact that they won’t shows how little they really believe their little games.

    For me, that’s the end of the story: believe what you say and say what you believe. When you can’t do that, but are forced to engage in mental gymnastics that shows that there are no first principles to begin with, or they’ve been long forgotten. +Jonah is right, “it’s Christ, not some long-dead, half-forgotten empire.”

    Let us be careful, the Lord is not mocked and the Holy Spirit will not tarry where He is not wanted.

  177. Scott Pennington says

    Bill Cogdon wrote:

    “Some relationships are permanent even when they exhibit division. When brothers disagree, they do not throw them out and replace them with other brothers.”

    The Orthodox Church and Rome have no permamanent relationship and we are not brothers in the sense you imply. Nor do they have any jurisdiction at all in an Orthodox sense of the word. A heretical see can’t have a jurisdiction and we are not “separated brethren” as the Catholics state.

    “To attempt to supplant it with a rival Orthodox patriarchy within its own jurisdiction would would play havoc with fundamental Orthodox ecclesiology and to show dismissive and divisive disrespect. Roman Catholics would have every right to consider their church as infringed upon and violated as the Eastern Orthodox Churches (Russian, etc.) do who have suffered similar encroachments by Roman Catholic missionizing within their own jurisdictions.”

    I for one have never agreed with the “Orthodox” phobia/hostility regarding “proselytization”. Yes, we don’t like it when heretics try to convert people in traditionally Orthodox lands. What does not follow from that is that we should somehow refrain from bringing anyone, anywhere to the truth. The enemy is not proselytization, it is heresy. It is a zero sum game, not a question of reciprocity. For the Orthodox, “to proselytize” is to obey the Great Commission. It is a duty, not something to be avoided. Creating an Orthodox See in Rome would not “play havoc with Orthodox ecclesiology”. The See of Rome should be considered vacant since Rome has been lost to heresy for a thousand years. The Roman Catholic Church is not, in any sense, any part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. They chose to separate themselves from it long ago and we should quit acting as if somehow they are a quasi-part of the Church.

    Instead of whining about Catholic proselytizing in Eastern Europe, the Orthodox should a) use the power of the states which they can influence to discourage the spread of Roman Catholicism and b) engage in vigorous evangelism (the real name of proselytism) to bring people into the Orthodox faith.

    There is absolutely nothing unorthodox or problematic about creating an Orthodox See of Rome except that that would require some sacrifice and prudence on the part of the old world hierarchs – – qualities that seem to be in short supply these days.

    “The Roman “patriarchy” (the Roman Catholic papacy) may be out of communion with the Orthodox Church and may hold heretical doctrines, but it is one of the seven ancient patriarchies and it cannot be simply thrown out and replaced.”

    1. It has been “thrown out”, or rather it removed itself. 2. There is nothing to replace. The See is vacant due to the heresy of its occupant. We could recognize that fact and fill it.

    “When brothers disagree, they do not throw them out and replace them with other brothers. If they are Christians, and if they are truly “of the same mother” (in this case, the one ancient church), they continue to hold out hope for reconciliation and to show mutual respect towards each other. Even when there seems no practical way in which full reconciliation might occur, they still struggle to exhibit towards each other the self-sacrificing love for neighbor commanded by our Lord. To do otherwise would be to abandon the Gospel itself.”

    Dead wrong. “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” Matthew 18:15-17

    We are not of the same mother, the “ancient church”. We are the ancient church and they broke away from the ancient church. What you are suggesting is the branch theory which the Orthodox explicitly reject.

    We give way to much significance and status to the Church of Rome. It makes it seem as though we are somehow incomplete without them. This is an heterodox attitude. The Church is complete in and of itself. Nothing about us can depend on heretical entities. So, actually, it makes perfect sense to create an Orthodox See of Rome. It would underscore the point that if Roman Catholics wish to reconcile with the Church, they need to embrace the Orthodox faith. It would also emphasize the fact that the faith is not something to be bargained or worked out in interfaith commissions. Once again: Don’t try to convert the Roman Catholicism, convert Roman Catholics.

  178. Scott Pennington says

    “For us to establish an Orthodox Patriarch in Rome would require two things: 1) That we actually believe and practice Orthodox ecclesiology, 2) The other Patriarchs give up ANY jurisdiction in the west.”


    I’m not sure that your number 2 need be the case. “Patriarch of the West” might not be construed to include the Americas since they were undiscovered at the time the title originated. I also don’t think that a “Patriarch of the West” would inhibit autocephaly for any other Church in the West (indeed, one of the requirements for reconciliation with Rome would likely be the breakup of the RCC into smaller churches). The fact of the Ecumenical Patriarchate did not prevent the establishment of an autocephalous Church of Russia.

    I don’t actually think that filling the See of Rome with an Orthodox Patriarch is on anyones agenda or has any serious possibility of coming to fruition – – although I don’t think it would be a bad idea.

    Consider the possibility that we’d all be paying a lot less attention to what comes out of Istanbul since the EP would no longer be primus inter pares. Also, consider the possibility that if “Patriarch of the West” were to include jurisdictional authority over the Americas, that the autocephaly of an American Church would likely be confirmed (Re-establishing an Orthodox See of Rome would require at least the agreement of the other Patriarchs. Would Moscow approve of a Patriarch of Rome that did not recognize the autocephaly of the OCA?).

    Just dreaming out loud.

  179. Dean Calvert says


    With all due respect…all this talk about establishing a patriarchate in Rome “lapsha na oucha”…”noodles in your ear” in Russian…”hackee” in Arabic.

    The ecumenical patriarchate would literally sell their souls before they would offend the Roman pontiff..for one very simple reason – It is MUCH easier to attend nice talks with the Roman Catholic church about unity, because they know it will NEVER EVER happen than to deal with reality.

    Those Papal visits make for great PR. Think about how the stature of the EP is elevated each time a Roman pope travels there or vice versa…it’s one of those trappings without which everyone would see that “the emperor has no clothes.”

    Without a Roman pontiff who recognizes and might actually pray for the day that the “two lungs breathe as one”..the EP would be reduced to the reality of what it is: a dead bishopric, no more alive than the ancient Sees of Philadelphia, Laodicia, Smyrna, Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira, and Sardis.

    When you have nothing at all going on, you focus on hyperbole, the imaginary and other such “wizard of oz” type stuff…imaginary sees, 1500 year old canons that give you imaginary powers (Canon 28), and who knows what else.

    Let’s not enable these folks…”leave the dead to bury their own.”

    Let’s get on with making a united American Church a reality, locally elected bishops sitting in synod the norm on this continent, for our kids and grandkids, the 33 generations that came before us and the 33 that should come after us.

    Sts Tikhon and Raphael are watching us, praying for us, and encouraging us with those prayers.

    Best Regards,

  180. Scott Pennington says


    I think you mean:

    Nyi veschai mnye lapschu na uschi!

    But it means “don’t mislead me” or “don’t lie to me”.

    But I agree, the EP would sooner be dry roasted than give up an ounce of his claimed power.

  181. George Michalopulos says


    right on! brother. I’m presently engaged in an interfaith dialogue regarding sanctity of life issues. We’re all fairly high church. One thing that I can tell you for sure, whatever the faults of Catholic doctrine and ecclesiology in our eyes, their hierarchy at least, is committed to taking a stand, even if it offends the President of the United States.

    All interfaith “dialogue” and such with an eye to reunification will vanish the instant they realize that the EP and his minions are not serious about the degradation of man. I’m sorry, the “environment” and “climate change” just don’t have the same seriousness or fidelity to the Gospel. (I don’t care how many photos of Al Gore buying carbon offsets at the Phanar we put out.)

  182. Dean Calvert says


    My understanding it that it’s used as “don’t lie to me” or “don’t mislead me” but it’s an idiom…the literal translation is “don’t put noodles (lapsha) in my ears” (uschi).

    I’ve always loved it. The Russians have some great ways of putting things. Another one of my favorites is “Hey…I’m your aunt” (Ya Vasha Teotsa) which my Russian teacher and I would always use whenever I couldn’t pronounce something properly.

    Anyway, it’s a kraseevaya yazik.

    Spaceeba Moy Drug,


  183. Scott Pennington says


    That’s right, I wasn’t sure exactly what you meant though. Anyway, you’re right, it is a beautiful language.

    Pozhalsta, Brat,

  184. Temporary abnormalities seem to be the norm in the ebb and flow of Church growth. Many local churches have faced various struggles when asserting autocephaly, and in the end Orthodoxy prevails. We must be patient, while working on a remedy. Full canonical unity and normalization of the American Church will take time, and perhaps Met. Jonah will be a catalyst for much needed action toward this end.

    Outside interests can only hinder our mission in America. Certainly, a strong American Orthodox Church will do more to sustain the struggling patriarchates of the old world than our current disorganized, multi-jurisdicational church can. Rather than being fleeced, we can be freed to reach our potential in Christ and share the riches of the blessing we enjoy with our sister churches.

  185. Dan Georgescu says

    Mark of Ephesus

    Dear Brothers

    After my initial comment #136 I realized that everyone named at the beginning of the conference should be ashamed to be associated with the rest of the material. But, we are not in the times of the St Mark of Ephesus. The other bishops understood their mistake and wanted to have the hands cut off for being part of a wrong doing.
    What do we have today? Some people applaud anything for food like Romans.

    Do we forget the American Saints like St Herman, St Innocent or Peter the Aleut who was tortured by the Roman Catholics in a horrible way?

    Do we forget the martyrs for the Orthodoxy in the East Block under the Communism?

    Is this man in his grave state of confusion from the invisible enemy telling us by any chance that they were just a large number of “barbarians”? It is an insult to living and the dead. He should go to Romania and visit Aiud, and the place of the “Communist reeducation” called the “Pitesti phenomena” . Recently, in Aiud they were digging out bones from the common grave that were giving away a sweet fragrance like relics. Were those tortured people wrong?

    The Greeks would not be today where they are if the Revolution would not have been started in Romania in Iasi by Ipsilanti. They would be still listening the voices from the mosque if we did not win the war in 1877.

    Even the Athonite monks are worried where Greece is heading nowadays. In a country where they go by bus to visit the monasteries like a museum, there is no surprise that we have such a high rank clergyman talking the talk that is a Greek translation of the Ravenna sales contract.

    Dear Brothers, I am deeply offended as an Romanian Orthodox Christian by this man and those behind him mostly now in the Lent when he is disturbing everyone and troubling many minds. I can see it in this blog. Anyway, I am living in United States and it is a double insult. Like me, we are here many immigrants born in the old Orthodox countries of Europe and those frivolous statements are directed to us too.

    However, if we are true Orthodox Christians we should pray for his soul to come to senses and to realize that he is used as a facade for creating more schism among us. St. Paul has warned us against such people – the Eccumenists that are part of the pan-heresy of our times. Father Iustin Popovic ha warned us against the same thing during his life.

    I am glad that our Metropolitan Jonah has started to take a stand against such manipulations. If the Holy Synod would stay behind him undivided we will be winners indeed.

    In Christ,

  186. The name of the author, Archimandrite Elpidoforos, is quite ironic. For instead of living up to his name, ane carrying/bringing hope, he is recklessly dashing the hopes he does not himself even understand.

    But that does not mean I can agree with much of the criticism I already see of his view in this blog. On the contrary: in both the article and the many responses to it, I see much confusion about how the Church lives under Canon Law.

    Unfortunately, such confusion is easily spread among Americans, both converts and ‘ethnic’ Orthodox, because of the rather careless attitude life in America encourages towards history. Our history is so short, we have a habit of ignoring its influence on us.

    Already in his first sentence, he has blown it badly. What ‘submission’? There is NO Canonical basis for claiming that we owe submission to Constantinople.

    On the contrary: it is well-known history that Moscow was in America first, and the OCA gets its canonicity from the Tome of Autocephaly granted by Moscow.

    Now to be sure, there has been talk about revoking the Tome, but it IS only talk. There is NO precedent for such an action, NO provision for it in Canon Law.

    For that matter, that same first sentence “submission to the First Throne … fitting with the American society and mentality” shows blatant ignorance about both American society AND mentality. Why, I am shocked at even the IDEA that they are fitting. Of course they are not.

    On the contrary: one of the most difficult things for American converts to understand – because of American society and mentality – is the Orthodox duty to obedience. It IS the American mentality to believe that such obedience is ‘medieval’.

    Unfortunately, the article has a long series of such egregious errors. Why, it is hard to believe that they are even all genuine errors. It is hard to believe that the Archimandrite could really misunderstand that badly.

    The next such error I have time to treat is not an error about understanding American society, but an even worse failure to understand the difference between the Ecumenical Patriarchal See and an “Orthodox Pope”. The article is FULL of language that sounds like Papism – except that it comes not from the Pope, but from the Archimandrite!

    I have in mind such Papal sounding language as:

    “Let me add that the refusal to recognize primacy within the Orthodox Church, a primacy that necessarily cannot but be embodied by a primus (that is by a bishop who has the prerogative of being the first among his fellow bishops) constitutes nothing less than heresy.”

    And also:

    “in our Orthodox theology the principle of unity is always a person”

    And finally:

    “If Constantinople was not given that prerogative by canon 28, how was she able to grant autocephalies and patriarchal dignities to the Churches of Russia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Czech Lands and Slovakia, Poland and Albania?”

    This last also shows either ignorance of or willful distortion of history. Russia and Georgia, for example, both had Autocephaly before the Ecumenical Patriarch granted it.

  187. Joel Kalvesmaki says:

    …ὥστε τοὺς τῆς Ποντικῆς καὶ τῆς Ἀσιανῆς καὶ τῆς Θραικικῆς διοικήσεως μητροπολίτας μόνους, ἔτι δὲ καὶ τοὺς ἐν τοῖς βαρβαρικοῖς ἐπισκόπους τῶν προειρημένων διοικήσεων χειροτονεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τοῦ προειρημένου ἁγιωτάτου θρόνου τῆς κατὰ Κωνσταντινούπολιν ἁγιωτάτης ἐκκλησίας… (translation)

    The three regions mentioned in this canon–Pontus, Asia, and Thrace–were all dioceses within the Roman empire. This canon makes no explicit provision for Constantinople’s jurisdiction over territories not already in the empire. In fact, note μόνους, which suggests that Constantinople ought not have authority beyond these three regions.

    ‘Suggests’? I cannot possibly agree with Joel here. It is no mere ‘suggestion’, it is quite unequivocal. ‘μόνους’ really does mean ‘only’, and in context, only the Metropolitans of the named regions.

    This is reinforced (though reinforcement was not necessary) by the phrase:

    τοὺς ἐν τοῖς βαρβαρικοῖς ἐπισκόπους τῶν προειρημένων διοικήσεων

    Yes, the Greek really does make it quite unambiguous: it is ONLY the Bishops for the ‘barbarians’ living in the above-mentioned dioceses of the Roman Empire who are the ‘barbarians’ under the Ecumenical See’s jurisdiction.

  188. George Michalopulos says

    Matt J is correct. The Greek is unambiguous. This still does not explain how three independent archdioceses can be degraded and their metropolitans ade to report to another metropolitan (the patriarch). Even Rome did not do that at the time.

  189. Michael Bauman says

    I’ve been reading through Fr. Schmemann’s essay on primacy:
    I found myself nodding my head ‘yes’ a number of times as it seems to flow quite naturally from the Holy Scriptures and the testimony of the early Fathers, particularly St. Athanasius. Fr. Schmemann’s position makes subtle distictions between different types of what he calls power within the Church. That troubles me because I am not a subtle person and it seems such subtlity is easily twisted. However, subtlity is likely called for and is certainly Orthodox.

    Fr. Schmemann points out that the ecclisological question has never been explicitly addressed by the Church. We have assumed certain things and reacted to Rome, but never really addressed the issue explictly. That is the primary reason for all of our disagreements.

    The challenges in the Church in the western world require that finally articulate the belief of the Church. If we really are whom we claim to be, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth, we will meet the challenge. It will continue to be a rocky time, but Met. Philip was right about one thing in his letter on reorganization: our way of governing ourselves doesn’t work. I disagree mightly with his solution because I find it to be fundamentally un-Orthodox, an historic remnant of the Church’s identification with the Empire and the Dhimmi experience under the Turkish Yoke, but his identification of the problem is correct.

    Archimandrite Lambriniadis is identifying the same problem, as is Met. Jonah. So we have to find an answer. The fact that we have an agreement on the problem is a big step. The Holy Spirit will guide us to the solution. That’s why I’m so hopeful even if I don’t see it in my life time. We cannot get discouraged or allow the ball to drop.

  190. Michael Bauman says

    BasilOK, you say: Temporary abnormalities seem to be the norm in the ebb and flow of Church growth.

    What do you consider temporary? The particular abnormality of which we are speaking has been with us for well over 100 years.

    I am not a patient person so to me 100 years seems quite enough time to begin acutally doing something about it rather than just continuing to say “Tomorrow”

    Where does patience end and procrastination/apathy (akedia) begin?

  191. Eliot Ryan says

    Dan Georgescu:

    The great numbers of martyrs of the Orthodox Church is the incontestable proof that this is the True Church fighting against the forces of darkness.

    This satanic marxist experiment in which a whole generation of young Christians was destroyed reveals that satan is evil beyond our wildest imagination. I know of two survivors of this demonic experiment who became priests AFTER they were released from the prison: Fr. Roman Braga and Fr. George Calciu (+ 2006) both of them live (lived) here in US.
    Their lives show us that the experiment failed.

    Satan changed his tactics after seeing that brute force does not work. He became diplomat and is inviting us to become Ecumenists. This perfidious ecumenical movement, in the name of love, spreads intolerance and hate. It talks about unity and has divided (and will further divide) the Orthodox Church. Matthew 7:16 “You will know them by their fruit”s
    makes us wonder if the ecumenists activists are the sons and grandsons of those who killed the martyrs.

  192. Christopher Orr says

    how three independent archdioceses can be degraded and their metropolitans to report to another metropolitan (the patriarch).

    Perhaps this is at the root of a lot of the problems we are all fretting over – i.e., ‘submission’ to Constantinople, teh AOCA, etc.

    In fact, bishops, metropolitans and patriarchs are not ideally meant to “report” to anyone but their Synod and God. The primate is not the boss of the metropolitans and bishops below him, he is simply the most ‘senior’ of all the bishops in that local church. He is given more or less direct responsibility and authority by the local Synod – in much the way that the US Congress passes laws that give the Executive Branch (the President) the authority to do things reserved to the Legislative Branch, e.g., the Federal Reserve. In this way, the primate is acting as the Executive on behalf of the entire Synod during the interims between Synod meetings.

    I think what we are finally starting to realize is that within Orthodoxy there are different ways that this centralized authority in the primate has been worked out. Some are quite decentralized leaving the Synod and local Church more of a confederation of semi-autonomous dioceses headed by a bishop; others centralize quite a lot thus decreasing the autonomy of the local bishop in a rather ‘papal’ sort of way, but within Orthodoxy already. I’m sure there are varying mores and norms within each of the local churches, perhaps even in differing parts of the local churches. It is a good thing that these questions are being raised – in many cases they stem from rather venerable, stable traditions within each local church, so are not recent ‘innovations’ to be ignored or eradicated. It’s something the primates have to understand about each other, that the bishops all have to understand about each other, and the people of the bishops. It is especially important to understand that a decentralized structure will view the claims of a centralized structure as being ‘papal’ and onerous.

    That is, just claiming one’s own tradition as the definition of Holy Tradition alone will not fly, it will increase opposition. Or, put another way, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  193. George Michalopulos says


    In my opinion, the only heresy worth fighting today is ecumenism. You are 100% right.

  194. Eliot Ryan says

    George Michalopulos:
    Any heresy is worth fighting. You are right in a way when you say that “the only heresy worth fighting today is ecumenism”. Ecumenicism wants to put all sects in the same basket and bring them to the same Chalice.

    The union is not a matter of hugs and smiles it has to be a union of dogmas. They who have changed the law of God and the Holy Tradition must return to our dogmas. This way we would have a meaningful union. What is the point of union if the Truth is sacrificed? Unfortunately there is no doubt that the EP favors the Catholic model.

    Ecumenism is called “the movement of love” or “the religious revolution”. Many are being tricked by this utopian view. Imperfect as we are, we still value love for God is love. The extreme misuse of the “love and compassion” argument twists the Law of God “thou shalt not kill” (euthanasia).
    Then what about: “If you love Me you will keep My commandments.”?

  195. Why are George and Eliot talking about the heresy of ecumenism in this thread? Is it because you suspect one of OCA or GOA of this heresy?

    Otherwise, it is quite off-topic.

    But even if you do suspect one of them of this heresy, you have a problem here: how could either one be pushing for ecumenism if both are accusing the other of being non-canonical?? Isn’t it obvious that anyone who says either is not canonical also must reject the false lovey-dovey spirituality of ecumenism?

    Ecumenism is certainly a problem, but not germane to THIS problem of the jurisdictions in America.

  196. Dean Calvert writes:

    You are right about the Byzantines despising paganism…I’ve always gotten a charge out of the fact that the modern GOA promotes Hellenism, while St. Gregory Palamas railed against it in the 14th century in On the Triads.

    To which I reply: but the word ‘hellenism’ has changed in meaning since that time.

    Greek is a very old language. Some words and phrases have not change in meaning since Homer’s time, others have changed a lot over the years. ‘Hellenism’ is one of the latter. The Hellenism St. Gregory criticized really was a surreptitious revival of paganism disguised as scholarly humanism. The Hellenism of today is certainly not that, even if it does come across as too narrowly nationalistic at time.

    But there is one thing the Patriarch and Archimandrite Elpidophoros are right about: the OCA is too quick to jump to this conclusion, that it is ‘narrow nationalism’, concerning a great many things, ‘hellenism’ included.

  197. Michael Bauman says

    Dean, Patriarch Batholomew’s co-celebration with the Pope and the GOA’s continued adament membership in the NCC are considered by many as evidence of an ecumenical agenda.

  198. George Michalopulos says


    it’s a bit “off-topic” but not by much. What started this whole brouhaha was the supremacist ideas promulgated by Rev Lightbearer. Besides being unorthodox, we have to ask: to what end? The ecumenical patriarchate has since the time of Meletius IV been at the forefront of ecumenism. Many of its incumbents have been beguiled by talk from ultraliberals in the West that the EP’s are some sort of alt.pope that the non-Catholics can rally around. They bought it hook, line and sinker.

    I’d like to take a more repentant tack but even the EP’s paschal message is papalist, it’s addressed to the “plenitude of the Church.” He can address a message to his church, otherwise, he arrogates to himself the idea that all Orthodox churches are subservient to him.

  199. Dianne C. says

    When I was chrismated into the OCA several years ago, I vowed allegiance to the Church, and to Trinity. I never said anything about being “Hellenist” or renouncing my own national identity. Perhaps I don’t understand all the nuances of this representative’s speech, but I understand the tone, and “it don’t play in Indiana.”
    I don’t like all the references to money, which I guess is what this all really boils down to. An examination of the treasure chest of the EP would probably bring this discussion to its true meaning, American Greeks have supported him, the rest of us don’t, and that makes him mad, so he starts shuffling out canon law and shoving that in our face.
    I didn’t join the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church to become Hellenist, I did it to find the true church, led by Jesus Christ, not a bully from the other side of the world.
    By the way, my very small, convert church will soon be supporting TWO married, with children, seminarians. The church needs them as much as it does any other man in the church who feels led to join the priesthood. They will not be second-class priests, nor will they lead second-class churches. I am really offended by this representative’s view of the American priesthood.
    Christ is risen, he is risen, indeed, alleluia.

  200. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Christ is risen!

    I think I must restate something I said before and arising from it address a new question.

    Whatever one thinks of the EP they are not stupid. They must know that this is going to go down like a lead balloon. So, should we rather be addressing the question WHO is this initiative really aimed at? My own suspicion is that it’s a warning shot across the bows of the Greek Archdiocese itself.

  201. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Perhaps this is true, but they have been known to misstep before (allowing the NCC to arrange the Cuba visit for example; see: The United Churches of Castro, and Patriarch Bartholomew’s Visit to Cuba).

    Also, the Green initiative by the EP butts too closely to the left Green agenda. For example, the EP should not say anything about global warming; the science is still out. Rome is much more circumspect in this area. It seems that either the EP doesn’t understand the dynamics of Western culture, or that his advisors in the West don’t have a grasp of the deeper ideas that shape and direct the cultural movements.

    Finally, private initiatives have been going on behind the scenes. Dr. Elenie Huszagh has been making private rounds to clergy meetings in the GOA with the same case (using the same reasoning) that the EP emissary made: All American Orthodox must come under the EP through the GOA.

  202. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    I still find it (literally) incredible that they think anyone is going to buy into this, least of all Moscow / OCA and Antioch. I also do not understand why they are not simultaneously pressing the same case in Europe or anywhere else for that matter.

  203. Finally, private initiatives have been going on behind the scenes. Dr. Elenie Huszagh has been making private rounds to clergy meetings in the GOA with the same case (using the same reasoning) that the EP emissary made: All American Orthodox must come under the EP through the GOA.

    And so what has their response been? Did they quietly nod yes, and then wait for her to leave?

    As we have already seen in this forum any interpretation of the 28th Canon supporting this outrageous thesis must itself rely on a perversion of the Greek language itself.

    Surely the priests she has been talking to realize this. Surely they realize her real reasons are sheerly political.

    None of the jurisdictions in America have a squeaky clean record on canonicity, but even so, the OCAs claim for canonicity is clearly the strongest, since the OCA has the Tome of Autocephaly granted by Moscow in 1970.

    So unless the EP thinks it can pull a rabbit out of a hat at the “Great Council”, say, for example, evidence that the Tome was itself uncanonical, the issue is already decided. The OCA alone is canonical in America, just as then Abbot Jonah said.

    BTW: is there ANY reason to think that any other Patriarchate will support this novel interpretation of the 28th Canon? I haven’t seen any. Why, the Georgian Patriarchate still does not support what the EP did in Jerusalem to replace their Patriarch. Moscow is not about to undercut the Tome of Autocephaly Moscow itself granted. Serbia will remember Popovich’s condemnation of this “great council” — a condemnation that will be widely shared if this council tries to proclaim itself ‘ecumenical’.

    Patriarch Bartholomew is a highly educated man of great accomplishments. So it is all the more mysterious that he insists on carrying through on a plan of action that is doomed to fail. But that IS what he is doing.

    In the meantime, Dr. Huszagh can keep repeating it as often as she likes, but that repetition will NOT make it true. The American Church is NOT going to come under the GOA.

  204. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Agreed. So will someone explain why the EP has embarked upon this course? Perhaps they really do think that they can pull this one off. But remember please …. THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT AMERICA.

  205. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Note 203. Your question puzzles me too. Another question I have it how do they plan to accomplish it? — by browbeating the other churches?

  206. Also, the Green initiative by the EP butts too closely to the left Green agenda. For example, the EP should not say anything about global warming; the science is still out.

    Unfortunately, no. The science is NOT “still out”. That it is “still out” is a misleading impression carefully crafted by a slick and well-funded PR campaign. This is well documented at and at many other places on the Web.

    But that it really is well founded on science should be crystal clear from one fact: that the National science Academies of ALL G8 nations — and quite few others — have all united in declaring that global warming is real, it is a real threat, and we must cut greenhouse gas emissions (mainly CO2) immediately to prevent catastrophe.

    So no, the EP is not making a mistake on this issue. Nor is Rome so ‘circumspect’ as you seem to think. Rome has clearly supported the cliam that science supports the need to cut back.

    But let’s try not to get further off topic.

  207. Dean Calvert says

    Dear Fr. Gregory,

    Christ is Risen!!!

    As someone who grew up in the GOA, “knee deep” so to speak, I’ve always been amazed at the degree of misunderstanding that the AOCA and OCA have of the GOA. To be honest, I’ve always thought it borders on naivete. It reminds me of two younger cousins who look up to an older cousin, and refuse to believe anything bad about him.

    First off, they (the EP in particular) absolutely believe this rubbish. After I recovered from the shock of this interview, I recalled a private meeting which 7 of the OCL officers had in LA during the Clergy Laity Congress there a few years back. We met with the representative of the patriarch to the Congress, Metropolitan Panteleimon of Tyroloi.

    As I thought about it, Fr. Elpidoforos’ comments are simply a restatement of what we heard at that meeting, albeit in slightly less radical terms.

    At the meeting in LA, at which there were 8 other witnesses, including (then) Bishop Gerasimos, we heard comments in which the metropolitan completely dismissed the Serbian, Bulgarian, and Romanian national churches (“All of these Balkan churches, they are not truly ecclesiosological
    churches, they are political churches. They were formed after the war (WW1 !!) so that the empire would not come back together”) as well as dismissing the evangelism and outreach success of the Antiochians in this country (“do you want to includes all these Protestants that are not
    correct that they let into the church, that they have to defrock later?”).

    And as someone connected with the archdiocese told me later at the banquet, “Don’t forget Dean…they only let the brightest ones come over here.”

    Not only do they believe these delusions, they will attempt to enforce them at all costs…my kids, your kids, everyone else’s kids…they could care less.

    We need only look to the empty buildings of Jerusalem and Alexandria to see what their end game is.

    Having grown up with these folks, I honestly think the best strategy is to ignore them, and go about our business of uniting the rest of the Orthodox jurisdictions on this continent. “Leave the dead to bury their own,” might be another way of putting it.

    When and if the Greeks decide to come along, there will certainly be rejoicing – but we must not allow the reticence of one dead bishopric to prevent us from doing what is necessary on this continent.

    Best Regards,
    Dean Calvert
    (now wonderfully ensconced in the OCA, warts and all)

  208. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    If this is as bad as you suggest Dean then the tragedy will be Constantinople’s, no one elses. Maybe the writing on the wall appeared in 1923. This may indeed be the end game, which in itself would explain a lot. The sadness is that it didn’t have to be this way. The EP could even yet provide a real service of unity to the Orthodox Church … but not this way.

  209. Fr. Gregory Hallam says
  210. Theodoros says

    Response to Matt J.

    I am not sure what the Georgian Church has to do with
    the removal of Patriarch Irenaios of Jerusalem in 2005.

    The removal of Patriarch Irenaios was a demand made by
    the Jerusalem Patriarch’s flock in response to allegations
    that the Patriarch sold property to the Israeli government.

    The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s intervention was requested
    by the Palestinians themselves. A subsequent council in
    Constantinople was convended including the presence of
    most Orthodox Churches. I think Antioch, Poland, and
    maybe Georgia did not attend.

    Most of the Churches which did attend (including quite
    significently) was a delegation from the Moscow Patriarchate. The Council examined the charges against
    Patriarch Irenaios and deposed him, and then reduced
    him to the status of a Monk.

    In any case, the removal of the Patriarch of Jerusalem
    was done in consultation with most Orthodox Churches and
    was not a unilateral move by the Ecumenical Patriarch.

    The Ecumenical Patriarch presided over the Council in
    his capacity as “First Among equals”. This in my view
    reflects how the Ecumenical Patriarchate properly functions
    as the presiding Bishop in consultation with the other


  211. Dean Calvert says

    Dear Fr. Gregory,

    Christ is Risen!!!

    Re: If this is as bad as you suggest Dean then the tragedy will be Constantinople’s, no one elses. Maybe the writing on the wall appeared in 1923. This may indeed be the end game, which in itself would explain a lot. The sadness is that it didn’t have to be this way. The EP could even yet provide a real service of unity to the Orthodox Church … but not this way.

    I could not agree with you more. Sir Steven Runciman, in his fantastic work, The Great Church in Captivity came to the following conclusion:

    …The Phanariots tried to combine the nationalistic force of Hellenism in a passionate if illogical alliance with the oecumenical traditions of Byzantium and the Orthodox Church. They worked for a restored Byzantium, a New Rome that should be Greek, a new centre of Greek civilization that should embrace the Orthodox world. The spirit behind the Great Idea was a mixture of neo-Byzantinism and an acute sense of race. But, with the trend of the modern world the nationalism began to dominate the oecumenicity. George Scholarius (Gennadius) had, perhaps unconsciously, foreseen the danger when he answered a question about his nationality by saying that he would not call himself a Hellene though he was a Hellene by race, nor a Byzantine though he had been born at Byzantium, but, rather, a Christian, that is, an Orthodox. For, if the Orthodox Church was to retain its spiritual force, it must remain oecumenical. It must not become purely a Greek Church.

    The price paid by the Orthodox Church for its subjection to its Phanariot benefactors was heavy. First, it meant that the Church was run more and more in the interests of the Greek people. The arrangements made between the Conquering Sultan and the Patriarch Gennadius had put all the Orthodox within the Ottoman Empire under the authority of the Patriarchate, which was inevitably controlled by Greeks. But the earlier patriarchs after the conquest had been aware of their oecumenical duties…. (Emphasis added.)

    For an excerpt see: Nationalism in Greek Orthodoxy.

    At another place Runciman comes to the conclusion to the effect of “perhaps now that there are no more Greeks in Constantinople, the patriarch could go back to being an ecumenical patriarch, rather than a patriarch of the Greeks.” I apologize for not having the exact quotation on that one…but it was a fairly striking statement coming from such a philhelene as Sir Steven.

    These are both my long-winded way of saying you are absolutely correct. If the EP would drop the nonsense of its worldwide claims, and revert to the role of the leader of the world Orthodox oecumene (acting accordingly) it would have an incredibly powerful affect on things. The EP should be leading us to unity on this continent, as well as in W. Europe.

    To be honest, this is one of the reasons I have been so bitterly critical of the EP…these are all self inflicted wounds…ones which were absolutely unnecessary. Furthermore, the strategy runs completely counter to the likes of Sts. John Chrysostom and Photios.

    It is truly a Greek tragedy.

    Best Regards,

  212. George Michalopulos says


    I was in LA too. I remember talking to you and you told me about this “metropolitan’s” private meeting. The guy was a complete bozo. What a waste of the exalted title of metropolitan. You’re right, ignore them, that’s the best thing to do.


    Global warming is still not settled science. There have been many geologists and climatologists who have been VERY reticent and circumspect in their language (none of the canon 28 absolutism you find in the EP). There is significant evidence that we were coming out of a mini-ice age in the last century. there is equally good historical evidence that these mini-ice ages/global warm-ups follow 500 year cycles.

    Roman historians write that Britain after its conquest by Claudius (AD 44) produced excellent wines. One thousand years later (AD 1000), the Norsemen found grapes in abundance in Newfoundland. This suggests warm, Mediterranean climate, not the cold, dreary climes that we find now in these countries. So yes, they were warmer back then. What followed were mini-ice ages.

    Even if it is true that we are experiencing global warming, the idea that it’s anthropogenic is not resolved. Regardless, the purpose of our bishops is to safeguard our souls with sound teaching, not pontificate on some questionable scientific hypotheses that can and may very well be disproved in 5-10 years.

  213. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Very good points, Dean. I too see the EP role in the same way you do. That is why I have been very critical of the lack of moral leadership, particularly in the GOA. If the EP really understood that his role is the moral leader of Orthodox Christianity in the world, the EP would be a powerhouse, and would also find much more support than he currently has.

  214. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Spiritual, oecumenical (that is the ORTHODOX oikumene), spiritual and moral leadership is what we want with a convening and facilitating role … not a universal jurisdiction over the so called diaspora (yuk). We need a primacy but not such as Rome operates even over a more limited local range.

    Anyway, this is all academic if there are only going to be uneducated bus drivers who can just about cope with the services eligible to be Patriarch in 20 years time … supported by a few aged retainers. They should relocate now whilst they still have enough strength.

    1453? Get over it. We are not going to get Holy Wisdom back so stop airbrushing out those (defunct) minarets. Russia is not going to come charging to the rescue either, irrespective of what some Athonite pseudo-prophetic gossip has claimed.

  215. Josiah Renfree says

    As a young, American Orthodox Christian, this breaks my heart. It makes absolutely no sense why the OCA should be under the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Greeks are hardly even aware that you can be an Orthodox Christian and not a Greek. Yes I know that’s a stereotype and not all Greeks are like that, but in my 26 years on this Earth, that’s true for a majority of the Greeks I’ve met.

    I’m deeply disturbed by this, and I can guarantee that if the OCA comes under the Greeks, there will be a huge uprising here in America. I for one can nearly guarantee that if that happens, I will leave the OCA or whatever you would call it then and find another Orthodox jurisdiction that makes more sense.

  216. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    It isn’t going to happen Josiah. The worst that could happen (and this would have global repercussions way outside the US) would be for the EP to declare all episcopal jurisdictions in non-autocephalous churches other than under its own omaphorion uncanonical. I don’t see that happening either. As I keep on saying here (but few seem to pick up on it) … this isn’t just about the US.

  217. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Fr. Gregory, what are we missing?

  218. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen!

    Dear Fr. Hans,

    You have known me for a long time and I think you know how much I love the Church. I am very sad when I come to this website. I see so much bitterness and so much willingness to afix motives that have no basis in facts. Just wild speculation and out of contect quotes. I understand that some people have issues and agendas. Especially some former GOAers. But man, this is way out there. Next thing you know the EP will be blamed for the mortgage crisis in the US, or we’ll be hearing people say the EP is responsible for the dissapearance of Jimmy Hoffa.

    Thank God when I attend Orthodox churches of other jurisdictions pan-jurisdictional events I don’t see the bitterness and anger that I see here. Maybe it exists but when we have to look in each others eyes it is more difficult to say the false and hurtful things which are flung about here and on other sites with such great ease. Take the following statement:

    “The Greeks are hardly even aware that you can be an Orthodox Christian and not a Greek. Yes I know that’s a stereotype and not all Greeks are like that, but in my 26 years on this Earth, that’s true for a majority of the Greeks I’ve met.”

    How ridiculous is that? Do you agree with that statement? I can tell you in my 45 years I have run into a whole lot more OCA and AOCA that constantly criticise the GOA than I have seen Greeks who think only Greeks are Orthodox.

    How anout the following, from a priest no less:

    “1453? Get over it. We are not going to get Holy Wisdom back so stop airbrushing out those (defunct) minarets. Russia is not going to come charging to the rescue either, irrespective of what some Athonite pseudo-prophetic gossip has claimed.”

    Everything is possible with God, but very few people harbor any realistic thoughts of resurrecting the empire. That being said, many of us (including this third generation American of Greek descent) choose to not “get over it” and to not forget the suffering of our brothers and sisters left behind, both the clergy and the faithful.

    In 1993 at a Syndesmos Conference in what was still the Soviet Union, I saw villages where I was told that generations of people occupied their Churches 24/7/365 in order that the communists would not take them away. Should we have told them to “get over it”?

    Should we have said during the communist domination in many countries with orthodox majorities: “get over it, you’re not going to get your churches back.” How about saying to the Serbs, “get over it, you’re not going to get Kosovo back”. I doubt anyone would say to Palestinians “get over it, you’re not going to get Palastine back.” Or to native Americans in the US “Get over it, you’re not going to get your land back.”

    In Orthodoxy it’s only politically correct to criticise the Greeks and the EP.

    The very day after Pascha, the Greek bashing continues.

    How would everyone on this site react if I said to the OCA:

    “Get over it, your broke, your churches are continuing to shrink and many of your hierarchs and clergy looked the other way for years as your primates bled your Church dry. You are not leaders in Orthodoxy.”

    or to the Antiochians:

    “Get over it, your Metropolitan cares only about his personal power and influence, Your Arab hierarchy and clergy don’t get along with your convert hierarchy and clergy, you regressed to the same place you were before your ‘so called’ self rule. You are not leaders in Orthodoxy.”

    How do we expect to grow TOGETHER as a Church in the US when clergy and laity speak like this about one another?

    This is really pathetic. Why would I want to build up a ciommunity with people who have these attitudes?

    Fr. Hans, I ask you, why?

    The GOA has plenty of problems and I am not saying that ethnocentrism does not exist among some hierarchy, clergy and laypersons. But honestly, I think they pale by comparson to issues in the AOCA and even the OCA.

    And if I am to be honest, the worst ethnocentrism I see does not come from the Greeks, but rather from we Americans with attitudes like I see on this site. Ugly stuff.

    Oh well………

  219. Scott Pennington says


    All this was provoked by dishonesty on the part of the Patriarchal emissary regarding the EP’s prerogatives under canon law and the hostile remarks regarding Met. Jonah and Met. Phillip. No reasonable person can read the canon in question and get his meaning out of it. They know it and we know it.

    As to the concerns that groups who were formerly under the Soviet Union might have regarding property etc., that is recent history, as is the situation in Serbia. 1453 was a very long time ago and since the Greeks can’t do squat about the Turks, it looks pathetic to kvetch about it. Yes, get over it, or raise an army and drive the Turks out.

    Regarding your characterization of the OCA and the Antiocian church: I’m not sure that the OCA is shrinking but, apart from that, your characterizations of both churches are open and honest.

  220. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    I don’t see “bitterness and anger” Tom. I see some bracing criticism, but that is different than bitterness and anger. I don’t see this as “ugly” or “hurtful” either. In fact, I tend to avoid those words in defining the value of a comment because they tend to emotionalize points that actually have no emotional component to them.

    The EP is the center of the most recent discussions simply because of the speech by the Patriarchal Emissary, which, whether one agrees or not, was certainly aggressive in its assertions. Had he not said the things that he did, the discussion would have taken an entirely different turn. Further, if his assertions are taken at face value, the American Church will have a vastly different structure in ten years than it does today, so it is quite appropriate that they are discussed.

    As for remarks like “get over it” (referring to the Fall of Constantinople), I suggest taking it up with the original commentator. Responses here are loosely moderated, and about the only thing that does not get through is moral posturing — high-minded finger pointing that masquerades as an argument. Things will get said that rub us the wrong way, but by and large the discussions have been held on a reasonably high level and I am sure the commentator would respond fairly to your complaint.

  221. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen!

    Fr. Hans,

    I guess things just depend on the view of the individual because I do see the postings as being very bitter and disrespectful toward the EP and the GOA and in many cases those of us who are lumped together as “the Greeks”.

    I know you didn’t make the comments about “get over it” and I did not mean to imply that you did. i merely addressed the post to you as you are the one individual I know personally on this site.

    Additionally, the comments of Fr. Elpidophoros are open to interpretation as well (which is pretty clear from the fact that some theologians agree with his interpretations of the canon and some do not). I guess this is why a meeting is needed to decide what the course of action is going to be.

    Frankly. I welcomed Fr. Elpidophoros’ comments especially the ones about language. I thought those comments were quite even handed, open and moderate. As far as his comments about Met. Jonah and Met. Philip, I think they were long over due considering the many comments which have been made by the two of them even before Fr. Elpidophoros’ speech. I for one, wondered why it took so long for someone to speak up and address the comments of the two Mets.

    Tom K

  222. Eliot Ryan says

    Fr. Gregory Hallam:

    Russia is not going to come charging to the rescue either, irrespective of what some Athonite pseudo-prophetic gossip has claimed.

    …perhaps the EP self-destructive message is meant to increase the credibility of Moscow?

    Saint Seraphim of Sarov felt compelled to warn us:

    There will come a time when under the guise of the progress of the church and Christianity, but in order to please the desires of the world, they will be changing and twisting the dogmas and rules of the Holy Church.

    We might see exactly this happening after the June conference …

  223. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    First, I want to defend my “get over it” comment.

    IF this was simply about the bereft and suffering Christians of ISTANBUL then, yes I am there in brotherly solidarity and I would and will do my utmost to support them spiritually. morally, practically, financially, politically …. you name it. No Christian can stand by unmoved by the suffering of his brothers and sisters. We are to “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

    BUT this thread is NOT about the suffering of the faithful remnant in Istanbul. It is about that church, first in precedence in Orthodoxy (unargued) which is now claiming universal jurisdiction over the “diaspora” (defined – although not accepted by many – as the Archimandrite defined it). It is a canonical issue at ONE level but underneath that, unspoken often but needful of exposure is the still raw wound of the fall of Byzantium.

    So long as there were enough Greeks pre-1923 to keep alive some sort of dream of restoration (my Athonite jibe) then the End-Game had not really started. The End-Game has now started in my opinion but what makes Constantinople hang on to Istanbul AND try to extend its jurisdiction beyond that local church is the raw human emotion of facing the now inevitable Exodus and its consequences. That which delays and delays and delays this departure is the grief …. the inconsolable grief of a once glorious Christian (not Hellenic per se, East Roman perhaps) Empire now finally being laid to rest SYMBOLICALLY ….. which is what the inevitable Exodus would represent. It has nothing to do with deserting Christians. Even when Constantinople has left Istanbul there will still doubtless be a Metropolitan – or even auxiliary bishop – (not now the Patriarch) left to care for the faithful. No, this is about the grief of the End and the symbolic horror of it all. Hence my “get over it.” The trouble is that unless and until the Orthodox world “gets over it” nobody …. least of all Constantinople … will be able to look forward to a brighter future. Ichabod.

    Anyway, this is what I really want from Constantinople.

    I want Constantinople as soon as possible to move to Crete, Geneva, or wherever and I want her to reassume her role (formally exercised by Old Rome) as the Servant of the servants of God. I want her to be the spiritual focus of unity, primus inter pares, in the Orthodox world. I want her to convene Councils. I want her to provide genuine spiritual and moral leadership in other words. She might deal with phyletism for example by convening Episcopal Assemblies and working out LOCAL CHURCH BY LOCAL CHURCH what is needful to move to “one bishop in one city” …. whether that bishop be Greek, Turkish, Russian, Japanese, South African or Welsh … whatever. I detest phyletism as much as BOTH the Archimandrite and Mets. Jonah and Philip.

    Don’t anybody think here therefore that I have a “low” view of primacy or that I think that Constantinople doesn’t have that right. I have a high view of primacy and she does indeed have that right … but this has nothing to do with universal jurisdiction or Hellenism. THAT’S what I want to distinguish. I want a Constantinople fit for the 21st Century, not languishing psychologically in the 15th. So indeed, IF there is anyone who has to “get over it” … get over it. Move on. Assume your rightful place again but in the right way not by claiming contested rights but by the kenosis of divine love.

    PS … On the issue of people not picking up on my comment about this “not being just about the US” … I hope you can see now why the fundamental issue for Constantinople and for all Orthodox is global not just American … although for some reason I do not as yet quite understand you guys have been chosen as the starting point for the Great Realignment. It doesn’t really matter you see. The same issues and problems face us in Europe ….. exactly the same.

    Long live Constantinople! …. but not in Istanbul!

  224. Christopher Orr says


    I agree that the comments here and elsewhere – my own included – often betray anger and bitterness that can cross the line into disrespect. For that I – and all – should be sorry.

    At the same time, I think many ethnic Orthodox communities do not understand how ‘outsiders’, xenoi, ‘Americans’ and other ethnic Orthodox feel in these communities. We do often feel excluded, looked down upon, disregarded; it is often the case that a convert asks whether the line they have been fed about this being the True Church outside of which there is no salvation is true. It often seems as if an ethnic parish really is by and for that ethnic group alone – others are welcome to join in, but with the understanding that you are guests in a church that is by and for a specific people and to specific cultural (and religious, insofar as they overlap) ends. There is also just the simply cultural fact, right or wrong, in America that if people that can speak English choose to speak another language when everyone present does not speak it, that is seen as rude – especially if one’s organization claims a universal mandate and commission. I think many cradle Orthodox in other local churches do not trust that the Phanar works in Orthodoxy’s best interest but in its own, and that it does not respect other Orthodox languages and cultures and their witness (i.e., the Greeks, their language, faith and practice are the standard of Orthodoxy).

    I note these things not to take a swipe but to share what many feel when they attend ethnic parishes (there are particularities in each ethnicity, and these differ parish to parish across North America). Greater interaction at the parish level needs to happen for these misunderstandings and miscues based on differing cultural mores and norms – not Orthodoxy – to be addressed and resolved. It’s like marrying into your spouse’s family – they are different, better in some ways, worse in others, always strange, but a way of being family comes about. This is difficult to do when each group walls itself off from others through language and by not deigning to allow other Orthodox practices ‘because this is a _______ parish’ rather than a parish for all Orthodox Christians.

    (Personally, I think Sunday morning Liturgy and Great Feast should be primarily, but not solely, in English because this is the one common tongue for all Orthodox and all non-Orthodox in America. All languages in the parish and the language of its founders should be sprinkled throughout – primarily in those portions of the services that are highly repetitive like the litanies and exclamations. Extra services like Vespers, Matins, memorials, sacraments, etc. can be in various foreign languages, as needed pastorally. Sunday Liturgy should be about our unity of faith; serving in a language most Orthodox and non-Orthodox don’t know only serves to divide – and let’s be honest, most immigrants don’t understand Church Slavonic or the Greek of the services very well, if at all – even if they should and classes should be available to teach it. The Fathers wrote the services in a ‘high’ form of languages that were understood; they did so because what they had to say was important, because it taught the faith, out of obedience to the command to “pray with understanding” – they didn’t write for ambiance, for heritage, or as a vehicle for language immersion.)

    I wonder if the various ethnic jurisdictions and parishes are interested in serving everyone? I wonder if they believe the Orthodox Church is The Church outside of which there is no salvation? I wonder if they care about whether my American mongrel of a son is saved? I wonder if they care to know what the services and prayers of the Church say and demand? Actions speak louder than words. I do not share these thoughts or questions to attack or demean, but to share the honest questions and impressions some/many people have. I hope we can address these questions, perceptions, misperceptions. I want us all to be united in faith. I don’t want to feel excluded. I don’t want my non-Orthodox wife, and family and friends to think the Orthodox Church is only for Greeks, Russians, Romanians, etc. or those in love with those culture (e.g., Hellenophiles, Russophiles) – I don’t want to feel like I should agree with them.

  225. Scott Pennington says

    “Additionally, the comments of Fr. Elpidophoros are open to interpretation as well (which is pretty clear from the fact that some theologians agree with his interpretations of the canon and some do not). I guess this is why a meeting is needed to decide what the course of action is going to be.”

    Other than those who are under Constantinople, which theologians agree with the EP’s interpretation. Names would be nice. A number of those here have pointed out exactly how ludicrous the Phanar’s interpretation of canon 28 is based on the text and the very strange consequences which would have resulted if this had been the interpretation of the text in the first millennium.

    Really, persistent clinging to the Phanar’s interpretation is disingenuous, willful blindness. Neither the faith nor the canons are bargaining chips.

  226. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen!

    “All this was provoked by dishonesty on the part of the Patriarchal emissary regarding the EP’s prerogatives under canon law and the hostile remarks regarding Met. Jonah and Met. Phillip. No reasonable person can read the canon in question and get his meaning out of it. They know it and we know it.”

    First, I disagree that Fr. Elpidophoros comments were dishonest. In fact, I think they were right on target. Interpretation of the canon 28 in question, I will leave up to those who know better. I am not an expert, perhaps you are. Although I am fairly certain of one thing. I think whether or not one agrees with the EP’s interpretation of the canon depends largely upon whether or not likes the idea of all Orthodox united under the omophorion of the EP.

    I have no crystal ball but I would just point out that in the US I suspect the Ukrainians and the Carpatho Russians would tell you that they have no problem under the EP. It seems that the OCA and the AOCA are really the only ones who have a problem with the EP. The OCA, because the EP does not recognize the OCA’s autocephally (and subsequently, as a result, many other autocephalous churches do not either), and the Antiochians, I believe, because of Met. Philips ego and because a lot of the Evangelicals are still ticked because they were not welcomed by the EP so many years ago. Perhaps, it is they who should “get over it”.

    “As to the concerns that groups who were formerly under the Soviet Union might have regarding property etc., that is recent history, as is the situation in Serbia. 1453 was a very long time ago and since the Greeks can’t do squat about the Turks, it looks pathetic to kvetch about it.”

    Your tone speaks volumes. No one has been kvectching about getting Hagia Sophia back. I brought up the subject to show how rude and insensitive the comments by Fr. Gregory were. Apparently you feel the same way. People have history and they honor it and it is a part of their identity. It does not mean they value it more than their faith, rather just that they value it. The presence of Orthodoxy in Constantinople is worth of preservation. You may not think it is, but to most reasonable Orthodox Christians it is. When it comes to a groups identity and heritage, the passage of time does not always lessen the desire to remember. For that reason, my assessment of the “get over it” argument is right on target. The “get over it” argument is at best insensitive and unloving and at worst, just plain arrogant BS.

    Also, given the uniqueness of the situation in the new world, a unique solution must be found. Interpretations of canons, assertions of who was here first, who represents the primatial thrones etc are all to be expected. No one is going to be forced to go under this omophorion or that. Either we will stay as we are (bad choice) or the hierarchs of the Mother Churches will figure it out together with the hierarchs in the new world. The Diaspora (oh my God…the diaspora…aaarrrggghhhh).

    In closing, let me just say that perhaps we all should “just get over” our own egos and prejudices and start to get to know one another and to visit one another’s parishes with open hearts not closed minds. Then maybe we can make real progress. Until we,the faithful open up to each other, there will be no unity.

  227. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Dear Tom

    I am sorry but this is not me being rude and insensitive. I am trying to face what I believe to the issues disabling Constantinople’s effectiveness. I am not suggesting that the Church should desert Istanbul. I am supposing that the time has now come for the Patriarchate to relocate. I am suggesting that what prevents this is grief.

    Now if I had a parishioner who had just loved a lost one it would be monstrous if I said “get over it.” But if morbid grief sets in I think I might be a bit tougher with that person. Nonetheless I would not say “get over it.” I would just be a tad more challenging.

    Istanbul is in a different league altogether when it comes to grief and the psychological impact of the Ottoman yoke. What’s if though a church was still stuck in a grief that had lasted centuries? What’s if that had some bearing on her not being able now to fulfill her divine mission?

    I had parishioner who about 6 years ago relocated to Istanbul to teach English as a foreign language. A more humble and self effacing young man you couldn’t hope to meet. A fine Orthodox believer … but, unfortunately, English. Gradually the (what shall we call it) narrow minded ethnocentrism of the residual Christian communities in that once great city wore him down. He was prevented from venerating the Gospels and many other humiliations which I won’t go into now. (He is a good linguist and came with impeccable letters of introduction). He left severely wounded in his Orthodoxy. After dallying with Catholicism upon his return I and others have manged with great care to welcome him bacvk into a more generous hearted expression of Orthodoxy.

    Being under the Ottoman boot for so long does something to a people. That’s why relocation … especially now … is the only answer. Maybe the bishop who looks after the faithful when the Patriarch has left will be able to build something better and more welcoming. Maybe the Patriarchate when they have rebuilt their strength somewhere else will be better abler to serve the Church in a primacy of love.

    Where, in anything I have said here is there bitterness or rudeness. A wake up call perhaps. Nothing more.

    However, offence is offence and I have clearly offended …. for which I unreservedly apologise and I ask you and anyone else here your forgiveness.

    Please don’t ask me though to recant my position on the strategic location of the Patriarchate or the wounds of history. THAT is fair comment.

  228. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen.

    Dear Christopher,

    I agree with your post and I think many (though perhaps not enough) faithful in the GOA would agree. I also think many (though perhaps not enough) clergy and hierarchs would as well.

    Discussion of these issues must take the tone you have shown. One of a family with some differences which needs to speak to one another and work this mess out together.

    Speaking to your concern about the EP perhaps not respecting the other languages and traditions. I understand that many feel that way, but the example i often use are the UOC and the ACROD both of which are under the EP and both of which have their languages and traditions respected. in fact, the thing I like about Fr. Elpidophoros’ speech was that while he spoke about the value of the Greek language, he clearly stated that there was no sacred superiority of that language nor need it be used exclusively.

    “I note these things not to take a swipe but to share what many feel when they attend ethnic parishes (there are particularities in each ethnicity, and these differ parish to parish across North America). Greater interaction at the parish level needs to happen for these misunderstandings and miscues based on differing cultural mores and norms – not Orthodoxy – to be addressed and resolved. It’s like marrying into your spouse’s family – they are different, better in some ways, worse in others, always strange, but a way of being family comes about. This is difficult to do when each group walls itself off from others through language and by not deigning to allow other Orthodox practices ‘because this is a _______ parish’ rather than a parish for all Orthodox Christians.”

    Right on target. Let’s get to know one another. Once we do, there will be no stoppin’ us!

    “I wonder if the various ethnic jurisdictions and parishes are interested in serving everyone? I wonder if they believe the Orthodox Church is The Church outside of which there is no salvation? I wonder if they care about whether my American mongrel of a son is saved? I wonder if they care to know what the services and prayers of the Church say and demand? Actions speak louder than words. I do not share these thoughts or questions to attack or demean, but to share the honest questions and impressions some/many people have. I hope we can address these questions, perceptions, misperceptions. I want us all to be united in faith. I don’t want to feel excluded. I don’t want my non-Orthodox wife, and family and friends to think the Orthodox Church is only for Greeks, Russians, Romanians, etc. or those in love with those culture (e.g., Hellenophiles, Russophiles) – I don’t want to feel like I should agree with them”

    I care, and a lot of other care as well. I care because your American mongrel son might be my son-in law one day. And I want hime to feel like my son and that he is a COMPLETE part of our Faith. Moreover, I care because I want him to be saved. I want your non-Orthodox spouse to be welcomed and become one of us. Sadly, most baptized Orthodox Christians (especially cradle) don’t care enough about their own souls, let alone the souls of others. But of those who do, even the ethnic ones, most want your family welcomed. They want to, and will keep some of their ancestral traditions, but they don’t want to make anyone unwelcome. We just need to learn how to show it a little better.

    Thanks for the tone. It lets us talk about the problems in an honest way without each side retreating to the extreme sides of their position.

  229. Scott Pennington says

    “I think whether or not one agrees with the EP’s interpretation of the canon depends largely upon whether or noe likes the idea of all Orthodox united under the omophorion of the EP.”

    Well, we at least agree on that, although for different reasons. I happen to think that the desire of the EP to unite the North American churches (and those elsewhere) under his jurisdiction is the reason he clings to his interpretation of Canon 28. His interpretation of Canon 28 is simply a very poorly constructed tool to accomplish his objective.

    “It seems that the OCA and the AOCA are really the only ones who have a problem with the EP.”

    The three largest Orthodox jurisdictions in the US are the Greek, the OCA and the Antiochian. So when you say “the only ones” you should keep that in mind. Oh, ROCOR, as far as I can tell, hasn’t taken the EP’s remarks seriously enough to react at all. They probably think this is an internal matter for the Greeks under whose jurisdiction they would never consider coming.

    “People have history and they honor it and it is a part of their identity.”

    The Turks control Turkey. What was formerly called Constantinople is now Istanbul. Unless the Turks relent, and it seems unlikely, the Ecumenical Patriarchate will be forced out of Istanbul and Turkey all together. Constantinople was given its rank when political power was moved east. It became first among equals by default. I am sympathetic to the plight of Greeks who chose to stay in Istanbul; however, I do not think in light of Turkish hostility it is wise to do so. If they were engaging in missionary efforts there to convert the Turks then I could see the point of staying and perhaps becoming martyrs. But that is not their purpose.

    “Either we will stay as we are (bad choice) or the hierarchs of the Mother Churches will figure it out together with the hierarchs in the new world.”

    The largest Orthodox church in the world (Russia) has granted autocephaly to the OCA. Given that they do not seem to be interested in “revoking” that, I don’t see that there are any other ways forward than status quo or other jurisdictions being released or breaking from their mother churches and joining with the OCA.

    “In closing, let me just say that perhaps we all should “just get over” our own egos and prejudices and start to get to know one another and to visit one another’s parishes with open hearts not closed minds. Then maybe we can make real progress. Until we,the faithful open up to each other, there will be no unity.”

    Well, I think we’ve been opening up to one another here on this site. I go to a Greek Orthodox Church. There is an Antiochian Orthodox Church and an OCA parish in my immediate area. I also occasionally visit a ROCOR parish in a city about 2 hours away. I have cordial relations with many people in all of the above churches.

    I don’t think it’s so much a question of getting to know each other. Honesty is essential. A commitment to battling those passions that are excited by this culture is also necessary.

    The EP’s emissary acted arrogantly. We need not dispute this since even some of those in attendance at Holy Cross walked out of his speech in disgust. We certainly should not focus all our criticism on the Greek Church. But the writings of Met. Phillip and of Patriarch Aleksei (of blessed memory) regarding canon 28 were well reasoned and persuasive.

    I have yet to hear one person on this site (or anywhere) offer a rational, logical defense for the Phanar’s interpretation. Not one.

    As I said, honesty is essential.

  230. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Tom …. in the light of my last post and my apology are we clear yet or not? This matters to me. I don’t want to conclude that your apparent silence necessarily means “no.” Speak the truth in love and all that …. even if it’s only MY truth.

  231. Christopher Orr says

    …the example I often use are the UOC and the ACROD both of which are under the EP and both of which have their languages and traditions respected.

    But note that both of these ethnic jurisdictions are placed under the ethnic Greek jurisdiction, which has been given preeminence as the eparchy of the EP. This adds to the lack of trust the EP earned when Phanariotes attempted to Hellenize the other Orthodox peoples of the Ottoman Empire and reserved positions of authority only to Greeks. This led to the Melkite schism, the current Patriarchate of Antioch fought long and hard to earn its autocephaly from the EP and the Phanariotes, and we still see in Jerusalem the Greek monopoly on the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher and the episcopacy in that ‘autocephalous’ Patriarchate with an Arab majority in the laity and lower clergy.

    I see what you mean, but there are still issues of concern over what the EP would do if there weren’t competing jurisdictions keeping the tendency to Hellenize in check.

  232. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    I can back that up Christopher from the experience of a parishioner who moved to the UK from Gaza …. imported Greek speak clergy who did not consider it important learn Arabic and who rarely preached. I managed to ease the way for that person to come out of Evangelicalism and back into the native Orthodoxy of his family.

    All this is part of my pastoral experience …. picking up the shattered shards of the Middle East. It speaks more powerfully than any speech in the west.

  233. Dean Calvert says


    You seem to espouse a “live and let live” attitude which I think is commendable. Unfortunately many in the GOA, the hierarchs in particular, do not share that sentiment.

    Let me give you a live example. Last year, our group, St. Andrew House, sponsored a trip to the Detroit area for Metropolitan Kallistos. It was a Pan Orthodox event, to be held at an Antiochian parish in the area…the program was focused on Unity and the fliers and recordings can still be seen on our website at We ultimately had about 600 people at the event – Armenians, Copts, Greeks, Russians, Romanians…you name it.

    One of your metropolitans, Nicholas, actively intervened to attempt to STOP Metropolitan Kallistos from coming for that event. When I say “actively intervened” I mean he did all he could short of hijacking the plane. In the end, he was forced, and I do mean gun-to-the-head forced, by New York to allow the visit. If you do not believe me, just place a call to the archbishop’s office.

    In an attempt to save face, the same metropolitan attempted to setup a competing event, Greek only, at one of the local churches the night before.

    This was only one in a string of ridiculous and frankly adolescent actions by this Greek metropolitan – who had a particular problem with most Pan Orthodox events in this city.

    Two questions: 1.) how do you square these actions with your comments and 2.) what are you going to do about it.

    As Scott said above, honesty is important. The honest truth is that many of the Greek parishioners in this country are MUCH more open to the idea of Orthodox unity than your hierarchs are. You know that, and so do I. It’s obvious by the amount of applause that Orthodox unity receives at most GOA Clergy Laity Congresses. However, this unfortunate situation will continue as long as Istanbul is electing your hierarchs, which we also both know is the truth.

    I don’t have a good solution. But as Scott said honesty is important. Not all share your views…and in particular not your patriarch.

    Best Regards,

  234. George Michalopulos says


    Christ is Risen! I have spent the last month or so investigating the origin of canon 28. Let’s put it this way: it doesn’t look good if this is all the Ep has got.

  235. George Michalopulos says

    I can second Dean’s interepretations regarding unity and the juvenile antics of many GOA hierarchy. Methodius is only the latest example in a long line of episcopal buffoonery.

  236. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen!

    Dear Dean,

    First let me state that although I have heard this story before, I don’t know if it is true in it’s entirety or merely just one side of the story.

    That being said, the answer is in your own post. Through the intervention of other hierarchs (presumably) from the GOA, the event took place. If Met. Nicholas tried to stop it, I would be in disagreement with his actions. However he is a human being. Sometimes right and sometimes wrong. There you have the dirty little secret.

    However, in fairness, and so that others on this site do not take an isolated incident and condemn the Met. for it (if it indeed happened the way you mention), I have been told by MANY clergy in the Detroit Metropolis that they have NEVER been forbidden or discouraged from attending Pan-jurisdictional events. Many of them just choose not to attend. While I have not ever had anything but good experiences at the many pan-jurisdictional events, if the aforementioned clergy ran into hierarchs, clergy and laypeople who talk about the EP and “the Greeks” the way I have heard many on this site do, I probably would not go either.

    As far as some hierarchs not agreeing with my “live and let live” philosophy (though I don’t really think that is what I said) just look at my comment in a post to Christopher:

    “I agree with your post and I think many (though perhaps not enough) faithful in the GOA would agree. I also think many (though perhaps not enough) clergy and hierarchs would as well.”

    As far as more faithful being in favor of Orthodox Unity than hierarchs, perhaps the hierarchs have had to face more of the anti-EP/GOA philosophy that I have seen of late. I can tell you some of the rhetoric on this site has made me think twice on a few occasions.

    Your favorite sayings are “Let the dead bury their dead” and “Lose the Phanar’s phone number”. And yet the OCA and the AOCA have NEVER taken one single step to lead towards unity and leave the Greeks behind. I have posed this question 100 times and no one ever gives a realistic answer. The reality is that this anomalous situation we find ourselves in will never be worked out without the EP and GOA on board. That’s a fact. So why spit in the eye of the ones you should be encouraging and perhaps leading along? Why not honey instead of vinegar?

  237. Tom Kanelos says

    You guys just keep proving my point:

    “I can second Dean’s interpretations regarding unity and the juvenile antics of many GOA hierarchy. Methodius is only the latest example in a long line of episcopal buffoonery.”

    That is not supposed to be viewed as bitterness, hatred, disrespectful…need I go on.

    The worst offenders are the “former smokers”!

  238. Christopher Orr says

    …if the aforementioned clergy ran into hierarchs, clergy and laypeople who talk about the EP and “the Greeks” the way I have heard many on this site do, I probably would not go either.

    I think there is a lot of water that has gone under the bridge between these churches over the years. I also think that the GOA has been more ‘self-contained’ until more recent years, so the degree of bad feelings is hard to understand for the average GOA layperson. This has not happened in a vacuum, though.

    That being said, “remembrance of wrongs” is a sin. It is time to move on and let bygones be bygones. I would love to see the EP take the high road and take the lead in establishing true Orthodox unity in the world.

    The OCA and the AOCA value conciliarity, broadly speaking, so would never think of simply establishing unity on their own expressly without the EP. They are also the big boy on the block.

    It should be noted that the Metropolia went to the EP back when to be received under her but was rebuffed and told to go back to their own Church (Moscow).

  239. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen!

    Dear Christopher (#234),

    I think you will find that the UOC and ACROD are not actually “under” the GOA. It is my understanding that they are directly under the EP. As far as the GOA being preeminent as the eparchy of the EP, I believe that is because the GOA is the largest and has been under the EP the longest of the three.

    Personally, I would rather see the UOC and ACROD hierarchs part of the Eparchial Synod, not separate. Hopefully that will happen, but I suspect it is not the case because the UOC and ACROD don’t want it. I could be wrong.

    The EP does not force Hellenism on GOA parishes now. My priest gets no instruction on using more Greek etc. If Greek is over used in the GOA (and I believe that in some places it is) then it is because WE HERE in the GOA are causing it. In either case, the EP would not be able to force Hellenism on all the faithful in a unified Church as they would not tolerate it. Nor would their bishops or their priests.

  240. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen

    Fr. Gregory, #233

    If by “are we clear” you mean, are we cool, do I understand you didn’t INTEND to insult, then yes we are absolutely clear.

    However, I still believe that the “get over it” argument is flawed and insensitive.

    In 1922-23 over 1 million Orthodox Christian Turkish citizens of Greek descent were forcibly uprooted and forced to leave their homes and businesses in Constantinople in a population exchange. Like tens of thousands from Smyrna. In 1955 tens of thousands of Orthodox Christian Turkish citizens had their homes and businesses destroyed and were essentially forced to leave as a result of a pogrom against them.

    Over the past several decades something like 8,000 properties belonging to the EP have been confiscated by Turkish authorities and legal battles currently exist at the European Court of Human Rights as we speak.

    When you talk about getting over it, and mean get over losing the city in 1453,, what we hear is get over this ongoing persecution of our Faith and tradition in a location that has given so much to Orthodoxy. Wouldn’t you get a little defensive over that?

    I have been fortunate to attend 2 Syndesmos general assemblies (Syndesmos is the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth, so I attended quite a few years ago). One thing I learned is that the rest of world Orthodoxy, the faithful, revere and love the EP. Why do som many of us here in the US misinterpret the EP’s actions and assign sinister motives.

    Find a student who went on a Campus ministry “Real Break” trip to Constantinople this year or last (most were not from the GOA, but rather OCA or AOCA). Ask them about the humility of the EP and the way in which the person of EP Bartholomeos reached out to them and spoke to them. Ask them about cleanintg up the cemeteries with the desecrated tombs and exposed bones. Ask them about the few remaining faithful who struggle to keep a tradition alive.

    Do yuou think that when we here assign motives, which are not borne out by fact, to the actions of the EP that this helps their plight? Why do we always focus in on one or two comments which can be interpreted in a negative way and yet ignore all the good points?

    This is why I get so offended by many comments here.

    Are we clear, yes. I have nothing but Christian Love for you. But you are wrong when you or anyone else takes isolated incidents and assumes they are the rule not the exception. And I am wrong if I do it (and I know I have done it).

    We do, indeed need honest and open discussion, and it must be done in love. When I hear the phrase “Speak the truth in love” it almost is always followed by a stinging criticism, one which is not always accurate. But it is true, we must speak the truth in love.

    I try to speak what I know to be the truth and I try to do it in love. Please forgive me if I have failed on the second part.

    Tom K

  241. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen!

    Dear Christopher #241,

    I think you are correct in everything in your post. I am not making excuses for people feeling the way I mentioned, rather just stating that from a fallen human point ofview one can understand that people get hurt and insulted by insensitive comments.

    In that case, though, once time has passed they should get on.

    On one point, however, we disagree. You state that the OCA and AOCA value consiliarity and would never move on there own. I must disagree with you about the first part of that statement.

    Met. Philip did not show respect for conciliarity when he pushed for the demotion of all bishops t auxiliary. The OCA did not show conciliarity 30 some years ago when it negotiated its autocephaly in spite of broad opinion outside of the metropolia that it would be come more of a hindrance than a help to Orthodox Unity. The second part of your statement is true, they will not do it without the “big boy” on the block. But the real question is why? Sadly, I believe that AOCA won’t do it because they know they would have a problem with their patriarchate and many of the more Arab parishes in the US. this way they can look the part of Orthodox Unity but still have the EP and the Greeks to blame.

    I believer that if the AOCA approached the OCA, that the OCA might just do it. But it will not happen with Met. Philip alive.

    If in fact the Metropolia approached the EP to come under it, and the EP refused, that was a BIG mistake. The way I hear it, though, is that Moscow pushed the EP to not accept the Metropolia. Moscow wass protecting it’s sphere of influence.

    If I understand its history, ROCOR at one time was either unde the EP or was negotiating to place itself under the EP.

    Could the Metropolia and ROCOR have understood Canon 28 better than we do?

    Like the saying in the recent past…Things that make you go hmm.

  242. Christopher Orr says


    You are right to remind non-Greeks of the recent and current catastrophes they have suffered at the hands of the Turks. I think most people do not know of the 1955 pogrom which was really the death knell of the Greek population in Istanbul. 1.5 million displaced during the exchange of populations was also terrible for Greeks in Greece as well as the forced immigrants from Asia Minor (many of which spoke only Turkish!)

    At the same time, it should be remembered that Greece expelled all its Muslims (50,000), too, so Greeks were not simply on the receiving end of expulsion. Greek Orthodox were also allowed to stay in Istanbul and Muslims were allowed to stay in Western Thrace.

    Again with the honesty, most Orthodox have a rather distant respect for the EP – but primarily due to what it was, not for what it is today, and not for its actions (along with the Phanariotes) in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire regarding the Balkans, Antioch, etc. The Russians declared their autocephaly due to the capitulation of the EP to Rome and then underwent a massive, lasting internal schism in the 17th Century when they (wrongly it has turned out) believed the Greeks when they claimed to have maintained the sole, pristine traditions and liturgical texts of the Fathers – many Old Believer traditions and texts have been shown to be more ancient than the then contemporary Greek practice, which has continued to evolve (e.g., Biolakis Typikon). Add into that the rampant simony and corruption of the EP under the Ottomans – not without external pressure, much like under the Soviets – and the schism inducing actions around the Calendar and ecumenism (not to mention freemasonry) and it is no wonder that the EP of today is not as respected as it once was because it is perhaps not the same church and community it once was (again, due to heavy external and political pressures).

    That is all by way of saying that is easier for non-Greeks to imagine an Orthodoxy without an EP – or at least without an EP in Istanbul – than it is for Greeks. This isn’t disrespect, or it isn’t meant to be. It’s like crying over the loss of an Orthodox Patriarchate in Alexandria, North Africa, or vibrant Orthodox communities in Arabia and Mesopotamia. It is a shame, but it is a fact. It is also part and parcel of the argument for Constantinople’s ascendency to second place: if the Emperor and Senate are to be the reasons for Constantinople’s rise in prominence second only to Old Rome, then with the loss of the Empire Constantinople should by all rights be demoted or ‘merged’ like New Justiniana was ‘merged’ into the Church of Cyprus or Kiev into the Patriarchate of Moscow.

    Of course, if the EP were perceived to place the purity of Orthodoxy, of lovingly interacting with the other local churches, rather than acting to preserve itself institutionally (again, a la Patriarch Sergius and his Synod under the Soviets) there would be a very different reaction to the EP. Demanding of rights has not gone over very well, and likely will not in June or thereafter. This may not be the perception the EP is intending, and they may be acting exactly counter to this, but this is the perception of the actions of the EP – even while there is great love and affection for the Church of Constantinople, its suffering, its history, which are held separately from the canonical issues we are discussing.

  243. Scott Pennington says

    The point isn’t whether Patriarch Bartholomew is a nice guy with the kiddies or pleasant in social contexts. The issue is whether he is miscontruing canon law out of a lust for power.

    I really don’t want to hear anymore about how hateful and bitter we are here. That’s a favorite tactic of the left, lead with your shield. Oh, poor you! The underdog just must be right (and given sympathy).

    Sure there were numerous atrocities commited by the Turks against the Greeks in the 20th century. To what does this entitle you? Sole jurisdiction in America?

    Once upon a time back in the early 1920’s there was a Patriarch of Constantinople named Meletios Metaxakis. This fellow has the sole honor of having led four ancient sees, the last one being Alexandria. He accomplished this through family connections, personal friendships and general intrigue.

    A Greek Orthodox Archdiocese was established in the United States after the Bolshevik Revolution. When Patriarch Meletios IV had been Archbishop of Athens, he was over this Archdiocese. Of course, when he became Patriarch of Constantinople he had this Archdiocese transferred to the jurisdiction of Constantinople. It was during his Patriarchate that you first began to hear of the interpretation of canon 28 propounded by the current EP. Patriarch Meletios also did a number of other interesting things like force Alexandria to adopt the new calendar (later, when he muscled his way into that Patriarchal throne), made his own synod recognize Anglican orders, conducted services with the Anglicans in their churches, tried to shepherd in remarriage for priests and marriage for bishops, etc.

    He was eventually forced out of Constantinople by his own people with a bit of help from the Archbishop of Athens. Later he assumed the throne of Alexandria and cause more mischief. He was working on being elected Patriarch of Jerusalem when he left this earthly life to meet his Maker (how amused He was by all of this, I have no idea.)

    Now, that is how we got the claim that the EP has jurisdiction over all the “barbarian lands” and not just those in and around the three provinces mentioned in canon 28.

  244. Christopher Orr says

    If I understand its history, ROCOR at one time was either unde the EP or was negotiating to place itself under the EP.

    The bishops that made up ROCOR passed through Istanbul (and therefore the jurisdiction of Constantinople) following the Russian Civil War, but the Turkish government did not allow them to stay. They moved on to Serbia under whose authority they acted for many years – part of the reason why Serbia always recognized the canonicity of ROCOR while all others (except Jerusalem) did not. The Western European Metropolitanate of ROCOR did go to the EP, but this had as much to do with the pro-Nazi and reactionary, tsarist political stance of ROCOR as much as anything else.

    Could the Metropolia and ROCOR have understood Canon 28 better than we do?

    There is a difference between the EP’s interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon (which no one shares with it) and the idea that Constantinople is the most fitting omophorion to be placed under. If the EP would drop that argument, I think it would find a lot of people and churches deferring to it as the most logical omophorion to be placed under – due to history, venerability, standing and its need for ‘friends’ and territory to replace the flock it lost due to the wars and mutual expulsions between the Greeks and the Turks. Its interpretation of Canon 28 makes the EP seem disingenuous and more concerned about itself survival as an institution than about any potential flock abroad and its salvation.

    The situation back then was also complicated by the atheistic Bolshevik state. Things were different and a neutral party was needed since ROCOR, the Metropolia, Evlogy’s metropolis in Western Europe, the MP, the Catacomb Church and the Living Church were all in disagreement – for good and bad reasons. I would submit that the situation in the Phanar is quite similar to the situation in Moscow then, and that the Phanar is in need of objective help rather than being in a position to offer it.

    (Of course, if the Turks allowed a non-Turk to sit on the Ecumenical Throne and various territories abroad were placed under the EP (a pastoral choice, not a predetermined fact based on a faulty, unilateral, innovative interpretation of Canon 28), how I would love to see an American or Western European Orthodox Christian as Patriarch of Constantinople!)

  245. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen!

    Scott #244,

    Perhaps down the road with a few more years under your belt so to speak, you will understand a little more about compassion, love and consideration towards one another.

    The funny thing is, if you knew me, you would know that politically I am farther to the right than probably most people on this site.

    Also, you might be surprised to learn that I think that Metaxakis was one bad dude. What you neglected to mention was that from his death bead in Alexandria he was reaching for Jerusalem. Trying to hit a trifecta of the ancient patriarchates.

    Perhaps some day you will learn to read what people write and not what you want to believe.

    Until then, go ahead and have the last word. I remember what it was like to be 26.

  246. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Dear Tom

    It was insensitive of me to use the term “get over it” in as much as you remind us … “we read 1453 as 1955 and everything in between.” (paraphrased) My only defence is that we western Europeans know very little about 1955 although more about 1923. I suppose we are much less tolerant of Byzantine romanticism though …. not that I am accusing you of that although some do need to wake out that particular reverie. Anyway, I am genuinely sorry.

    I would only insist on one thing though. However much it must hurt, for the good of the Church, the Ecumenical Patriarch would be able to do so much more were he not under all this pressure all the time. I certainly want to see him do more … but the right kind of stuff; that’s my main point.

  247. Scott Pennington says


    Feelings hurt again? I should feel bad about the hatefulness of what I wrote? When I was 26, 15 years ago, I actually bothered to read what others wrote before I answered them. If you will look again at my post above, you will see that toward the end I stated he was working on becoming Patriarch of Jerusalem.

    I know about love and compassion – – and how some people, instead of making substantive points, accuse others of hate and bitterness. It is a tactic of the left. I take your word regarding your own politics.

    I notice your last post didn’t challenge me on the origins of the EP’s interpretation of canon 28. So, to invoke your comment from above, you just keep proving my point.

  248. For what it is worth, the vast majority of UOC folks seem to like being under the EP. He “leaves them alone” to let them worship and use the old calendar, which is very important to them.

    I attend both an UOC church and an Antiochian church in Chicago. The UOC is under the EP but uses the old calendar. The Antionchian is self-ruled but uses the new calendar.

    Although I’ve found the “average” OCA and AOCA adult to be much better catechized that UOC adults, which results in greater retenion of future generations. However, the one thing that “ruins” the OCA’s and AOCA’s “reputation” with the UOC (and UOCC and ROCOR) is the use of the new calendar. Any thoughts on how close (if at all) the OCA and AOCA are to moving to the new calendar? Does the EP have a position on this subject?

    I’m not sure if this thread belongs in this discussion, just wondering. Thx.

    Christ has Risen!!! XICTOC BOCKPEC!!!

  249. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen!

    Fr, Gregory, #247

    I agree with you. As I had posted when someone asked me what I would like to see regarding the EP I stated that I think a good move would be to establish a center in Washington DC. I think the EP should divide his time between the the New Rome and the 4th Rome (my characterization). Then the EP could take an even greater leadership role as first among equals.

    As far as Byzantine Romanticism goes, among realists that seems to have died (thanks to the French and the British) after 1923. I think the fight now is really about the right to exist in some form or another in its traditional location. In other words, not the thought of a resurrecting the empire, but rather the right to exist.

    You know what is strange, is how deep these feelings run in some people and how almost instinctive they are. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my family has been in the US for 100 years, my grandfather nearly died on the battle fields in France in WWI wearing the uniform of the US army. My brother was a Vietnam Era vet. My family is American through and through, but the plight of the EP is something that moves me in a way that surprises me as well.

    Have a great day.

  250. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen!

    Scott #248

    I stand corrected on the age point and the Jerusalem point. I’m a big boy, I can accept that I made a mistake. I should not write when I am angry.

    Whether or not you should feel bad about the hatefulness in your tone is something only you can answer.

    As far as responding to your comments about canon 28, as I stated earlier, I am not an expert and I will leave it up to the experts. At least you agree your interpretation of canon 28 is clouded by your opinion of whether uniting under the omophorion of the EP is a good idea or not.

    I stand by my comments about compassion, love and consideration towards others. Those aren’t liberal values, they are Christian values.

    The difference between a liberal and a Christian is that both have concern for the well being of others, care for the poor, considerate behavior, respecting every person etc. A liberal wants the government to do these things, a Christian (and most conservatives I know) understand that each of us have that responsibility, not the government.

    Your angry attitude and argument remind me of the angry liberals during the years of President Bush, and how they criticised his every move.

    As far as love goes, you must be following the famous scriptural passage from Corinthians…”Love is angry, love is accusatory, love makes assumptions about motives…” I think that’s it.

    Whether or not one is making a substantive argument is, of course, in relation to the topic. If the topic is based upon opinions, interpretations, attitude etc, then comments along those lines are substantive.

    Frankly, I don’t much care about canon 28 one way or the other. If some think it is a thin argument then good for them. If some think it is a strong argument, good for them as well. I think that we should be under the omophorion of the EP because in my opinion it makes the most sense. The GOA is the largest, most organized and stable and in my opinion, the EP has the strongest claim because of its multi cultural history. I don’t think that any of the national churches have a strong claim. the OCA autocephaly is questionable to some. Of the other ancient patrarchates only Antioch has parishes here and they are not really in a position to lead given their current crisis of leadership.

  251. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Thank you Tom for your generous responmse. I am with you 100% although that might be 99% as I don’t think you can lead from 2 places. To emphasise what I said before Constantinople has the precedence and it certainly should exercise that for the benefit of the whole Church. We may not agree about the issue of jurisdiction outside the autocephalous Churches but we are certainly one on the outrageous and deeply wounding nature of phyletism.

    I think that Turkey after the inevitable eventual Exodus of the Patriarchate should be assigned Metropolitans who would continue as part of the EP …. and should go on with the vision of converting the Turks to Christ. The issue of the gospel in Turkey does I think need to be separated from the global dimension of the Patriarchate itself. We need a Turkish Orthodox Church in which ethnic Greeks and Turks can stand together as brothers and sisters in Christ. See how politically incorrect I am ? 🙂

  252. orrologion says

    A young Turkish student from Ankara will be baptized in my church in 2 weeks. We were only able to find Orthodox materials in Turkish with great difficulty.

    Is the EP not allowed to serve in Turkish? publish in Turkish? Would that been seen as a good thing (becoming more Turkish and not so Greek) or a bad thing (trying to convert Muslim Turks), or both? The traditional tactics don’t seem to be working, so…

  253. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Riesn!

    Fr, Gregory,

    On the two occasions I have been to the EP I was told of many people (Turks) who come secretly to the churches to ask for prayers and some even secretly baptized. Maybe if turkey does get into the EU and these fights going on now for religious freedom are successful, perhaps that trickle of crypto Christians might become a stready stream.

    Anything is possible with God.

  254. Michael Bauman says

    Tom, you don’t think there is a crisis of leadership in the EP?

    1. Under tremendous pressure to even exist, certainly to exist in their traditional home
    2. Acting like sycophants and cheer leaders before worldly leaders whose policies are demonstrably anti-Christian
    3. Attempting to ‘pull-rank’ within the wider Orthodox communion in a manner that is offensive and demeaning to others
    4. Acting in a manner toward the Pope that many Orthodox believers feel to be at least unwise and un-canonical if not heretical, picking fights with Moscow in the process
    5. Espousing widly fanciful, deeply politicized and near heretical ideas on the environment.
    6. Continuing membership in the NCC which lends credibility to an organization which is more a leftist political organization than an Christian one.
    7. Demonstrating an astounding lack of appreciation for the depth of faith and quality of faith of many American converts.

    Certainly Antioch has its own problems which need to be resolved, the OCA is still recovering and will be for a while and the smaller Slavic jurisdictions simply don’t have the juice or the interest to lead America.

    It seems to me that the only Patriarchate that shows some sort of strength of leadership is Moscow. That, of course doesn’t make them correct.

    It just seems to me that in our present situation it is too much to expect that the leadership eminate solely from the episcopal office. The clergy and laity have to take a more pro-active role in forging the structure of the Church here.

    We are all damaged, maimed, halt and lame. Continuing to forge a real community of believers and bearing one another’s burdens in Christ is the only way to overcome. Allowing Jesus Christ to use our weakness. The internet plays a role, the type of cross fertilization you practice and recommend plays a role. Prayer and repentance are essential. Not being silent in the face of blatant and unnecessary compromises with the worldly agenda. Working to free ourselves from prejudice, thralldom to political ideology and acquiesence to the despondency of the world are necessary.

    The hierarchical structure is simply unable on its own to do anything right now except attempt to defend the status quo. Unfortunately, those attempts may put them at odds with the Holy Spirit.

    BTW, I want to thank you for your contributions and attitude. You are one of the two Greek Orthodox who I’ve even wanted to talk to for more than five minutes because of an arrogant and dismissive attitude from the others I’ve met. The other one is the retired GOA priest who assits at Divine Liturgy every Sunday at my Antiochian parish. He had come out of retirement to pastor the moribund GOA parish in my town. The GREEK leaders of the parish pushed him out because he wasn’t being GREEK enough even though he is native Greek (he had some crazy idea that the Church was actually meant for everyone and that growth beyond being a miniscule Greek social club was necessary) For some reason, once he was pushed out, he then had no where to go. So a few of the wealthy parishoners from our parish are helping to support him and his wife. The few members of the GOA parish that are still left refuse to come to celebrate anything with us, relying instead on an 80 year old priest who flies in from Memphis once a month.

  255. orrologion says

    The hierarchical structure is simply unable on its own to do anything right now except attempt to defend the status quo.

    I always dread that comments like this will be made in such discussions as this. Same with bringing up married bishops, etc.

    We aren’t Episcopalians.

    That being said, I think there has been a definitive lack of discussion in Orthodox academies abroad (SVOTS, HC, St. Serge) regading Tradition, continuity and change through time. That is, while there has been a great deal of research into the realities on the ground at various periods in the Church’s history, there has been less research and enunciation as to how, why and if it is appropriate to arbitratily pick and choose liturgical practices, disciplines, offices, or language from Christian history and rip them out of context to be replanted in the 21st century West. New Skete in NYS is an example of this liturgical recreation, out of context. Calls for a married episcopacy fall into the same camp.

    At what point is it clear that a previous decision was guided by the Holy Spirit? How many centuries have to go by before a tradition is accepted as Holy Tradition? What sort of a council, or how many, have to give official credence to a decision? Or, is Holy Tradition something itself that does not depend on written statements alone to define what we can and cannot do? Does Holy Tradition bear the decisions of the Holy Spirit to us in continuity with previous ages, preserving that which must be preserved and sloughing off that which is not needed or imprecise?

    Most of the Orthodox world – conciliarly – does not accept even the possibility much less the need for an change in structure in the Church’s ecclesiology. The hierarchal structure is just fine.

    What is up for grabs is how that hierarchal structure is used.

    A father has supreme authority over his children, but a loving father does not act like a despot. A loving father assists his children in maturing, standing on their own, and then respects their standing as adult men and women in the family and community. There have always been such hierarchs, there have been more despots, though, due to the lack of inner conversion of his people and clergy and to outside political and cultural pressures that prefer the Church act as a tool of state and forget it is the Body of the Suffering Servant rather than religious Emperor or Tsar. What is in need of rememdy are the assumptions regarding what authority, hierarchy, obedience, etc. mean. We have allowed, as a Church, worldly paradigms of power and authority to interpret the Church’s structures of authority – instead of vice versa.

    What we need is a return to the moto of Pope St. Gregory the Great of Rome: “Servant of the servants of God”. And this he held to while also being one in authority.

  256. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Dear Tom

    Indeed anything is possible with God. An auxiliary Anglican Bishop acquaintance of mine who now serves in the Middle East and who is phil-Orthodox tells me a story of an pilgrimage he undertook to Cappadocia. He was a guest in what he took to be a local Muslim family’s house, (pictures of the Kaba on the wall, the Qur’an on high display etc. etc). ….. only after Supper the man of the house said:- “Your Grace … will you pray with us? We have a place in the cellar.” So down they went and imagine the bishop’s surprise to find a fully furnished miniscule Orthodox chapel …. not obviously put on for his benefit …. and so they served Vespers. Secret Christians. It has happened, is happening and will continue to happen.

  257. Michael Bauman says

    Perhaps Christian unity will occur here with persecution?
    Then all but the most eggregious heresy’s cease to matter and only union with Christ is important.

  258. Theodoros says

    To clarify the issue of Constantinople. What Greek
    Orthodox have wanted is not to reconquer the City, which
    is both impossible and undesirable considering the fifteen
    million Muslim Turks which inhabit the City.

    Many of us would simply be content with making the
    occasional pilgrimage to the Phanar and to various
    Churches and shrines that survive to the present day.

    What the Patriarch asks for is simply the right to
    open Halki Seminary to any Professors and students from
    outside Turkey who would study there, and to keep his
    “Ecumenical” title which the Turks are pressuring him
    to disavow.

    All that anyone is asking for is simply equal rights in
    Turkey for the Greek and other Christian populations and
    freedom for the Patriarchate to function without interference from the Turkish authorities and other

    Between 1993 and 2007, there have been six attempts
    to assasinate Bartholomew I. There have been three
    bombing attempts (two of them went off and damaged the
    Patriarchal Cathedral and injured a deacon).

    Two years ago, Turkish Army officers were arrested for
    plotting the murders of the Ecumenical Patriarch and
    the Patriarch of the Armenian Church.

    In addition, Turkish nationalists frequently gather outside
    the Phanar where they burn the Patriarch in effigy and
    chant “Death to the Patriarch” and denounce him as an

    What Greeks would like from Turkey is the opening of the
    Halki Seminary, compensation for all the Greeks who were
    forced to flee in the midst of various terror campaigns
    and were deprived of all their property and belongings,
    and protection for all Churches still surviving.

    At is appears now, none of these reasonable demands are
    likely to occur. I for one could accept the removal of
    the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Greece, even the departure
    of all Greek Orthodox left in Turkey, but what is
    profoundly disturbing and troubling is the lack of remorse
    on the part of the Turkish authorities, in additon to the
    complete silence and lack of support from any of the
    western democracies to this tragedy.

    to fully comprehend what occurred to the Greek Orthodox
    in Turkey one must see the photos that were taken after
    the anti-Greek pogroms in 1955. Smashed and burned

    Crucixes from behind the altar desecrated and ripped!
    Icons destroyed! Many Turkish thugs urinated in the
    chalices used for holy communion!!! When I first read
    up on this history, I was profoundly disturbed and
    outraged by the above desecrations and blashpemies.

    During the pogrom, a 90 year old Greek priest was doused
    with gasoline and set on fire. A Metropolitan Bishop
    died from wounds sustained after being brutally beaten
    on the street.

    An elderly Greek woman went insanse after being raped by
    several thugs. The entire community of Greeks which
    numbered 100,000 or so at the time was made homeless in
    a single night because their homes were completely

    Their are moving photogrophs of the pogroms which show
    several Greek men the following day praying and weeping
    in front of the Iconastasis of a Church that had been

    It is these memories and this history which Greeks are
    seeking to preserve in the hope that one day there will
    be recognition of these injustices and some apologies
    that will lead to a genuine reconciliaton with the Turks.


  259. Scott Pennington says


    You’re projecting your own anger on me. You come on here and defend the arrogant comments of Fr. Elpidophoros without any substantive argument to back it up and then accuse others of being insensitive because they reject the EP’s claims. It’s all very passive-aggressive.

    In any case, being as how you can’t look at yourself and what you’re doing honestly, there’s nothing more for us to say on the subject.

  260. This is currently true but need not be in the future if a Great and Holy Synod chose to change it. I’m not saying that this is likely, but it is possible.

    Not so fast. It was an Ecumenical Council that made the See “first among equals”, only another Ecumencial Council could revoke that.

    And oh, BTW, it should be obvious, but I will say it anyway: any attempt to proclaim this “Great and Holy Council” Ecumenical will ONLY provoke deep schism.

  261. A young Turkish student from Ankara will be baptized in my church in 2 weeks. We were only able to find Orthodox materials in Turkish with great difficulty.

    Is the EP not allowed to serve in Turkish? publish in Turkish? Would that been seen as a good thing (becoming more Turkish and not so Greek) or a bad thing (trying to convert Muslim Turks), or both?

    Officially the government in Turkey is secular, but in reality, they have to make concessions to the dominance of Islam in their society. They simply cannot restrain, for example, “Muslim extremists” from carrying out murders permitted by the Koran.

    The Koran calls for the death penalty for anyone who tries to convert a Muslim.

    Under such circumstances, obviously the EP cannot count on the protection of the (already hostile) Turkish government should they publish the materials in Turkish.

  262. Tom, you don’t think there is a crisis of leadership in the EP?

    The same “crisis of leadership” exists in many other jurisdictions in the US. Do I really have to name which jurisdiction allowed the homosexuals in their cathedral parish to evict their own bishop? Or has this been so whitewashed that people really do not realize that that is what happened?

    Do I really have to point out which jurisdiction’s bishop defrocked a priest and then offered to do the canonically impossible — undo the defrocking?

    This “crisis of leadership” is by no means unique to the GOA or EP.

  263. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Dear Theodoros

    The Turkish State is neither going to own up to its past nor repent of it. Ask the Armenians.

  264. Theodoros says

    To Father Gregory,

    Absolutely true. And that is why we Greek Orthodox will continue to fight to gain recognition and justice. Even if it means the removal of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Greece so it can function more effectively.


  265. George Michalopulos says

    Michael is right, only persecution will drive out the willfully arrogant among our bishops and people. However, what will result will not be a united church (meaning the merger of all jurisdictions) but authentic Orthodox Christians joining the one church that has not apostasized. There will be mergers but I sadly believe that many of the more worldly dioceses will succumb to the spirit of Antichrist. There will be a great reshuffling rather than a grand merger of all jurisdictions.

    I’m coming to believe that Metropoliran +Jonah’s sermon was providential in ways that even he doesn’t realize. I think the Holy Spirit was speaking through him and with great clarity, caused him to speak some uncomfortable truths. These words have elicited anger towards him, thus making unity in America unlikely for the foreseeable future.

    In retrospect, I believe that this is a good thing, in that Orthodox Christians of whatever jurisdiction who are pious, traditional, and resolute in their beliefs will continue to migrate towards those jurisdictions that are more in tune with them. Of course, as an apologist for the OCA, I see the American Orthodox Church being that vehicle, welcoming all honest seekers into its fold. It can do this because it’s not beholden to a dead empire. Its bishops are not worldly nor do view their mission as museum curators.

    I hope and pray that those jurisdictions which are likewise evangelistic and bishops, priests, monastics, and laymen from the more worldly ones will simply gravitate towards the newly revitalized Orthodox Church OF America.

  266. Eliot Ryan says

    Michael Bauman (#258, also related #255)

    Perhaps Christian unity will occur here with persecution?

    “The movement of love” or “the religious revolution” (the ecumenism) will certainly lead to persecutions. The revolution already started. It is peacefull for the moment.
    The Greeks that refuse to come to celebrate anything with you might be concerned by the changes in your services.
    Not sure if is everywhere the same, but the Liturgy in the Antiochian church started to resemble the Catholic Mass.
    Add to this Met. Philip’s power grab.

  267. Richard Barrett says

    Eliot: Christ is risen!

    In what way does Antiochian practice resemble a Catholic mass? Are you referring to the Western Rite vicariate?

  268. Eliot Ryan says

    Richard Barrett:
    Truly He is Risen!
    I did not know that Western Rite vicariate is the name for it.

    Fr. Alexander Schmemann:

    The question of rites is precisely not, has never been and cannot be a mere question of rites per se , but is and has always been a question of faith, of its wholeness and integrity.

  269. Michael Bauman says

    Eliot, all I choose to say on your assessment of both the Antiochian practice and the lack of attendance from the Greeks when they have no priest to serve is that you are wrong. Totally wrong.

  270. Eliot Ryan says

    Michael Bauman:
    Never heard before about the Western Rite vicariate.
    People can practice whatever they want. I believe that proper labeling on the entrance door should is necessary. Otherwise people get confused and troubled.

  271. Richard Barrett says

    I guess I’m still trying to parse the “the Liturgy in the Antiochian church started to resemble the Catholic Mass” assertion. To what were you referring? Beyond the WRV (which strikes me as a separate issue), it is unclear at best.

  272. orrologion says

    There seems to be a dust-up going on in the Philippines, which may be the issue referred to.

    The Antiochian Church in the Philippines received a large number of Filipinos into the Church via chrismation, but this chrismation seems not be recognized by the local Greek Church. I don’t know why.

    I have also heard that this group has been allowed to use the complete Novus Ordo, Vatican II rites as a valid and acceptable Western Rite. No changes have been made at all to practice or prayers. (Some argue that an epiklesis need not be ‘added’ to the ancient, historic Anaphora of the Mass according to the Latin Rite; others disagree. The Antiochian WRV in the US has such an epiklesis, they also use leavened bread in ‘wafer’ form for communion).

    I am guessing the two are related and that there is more to the story. The boundaries of economia are being tested and demarcated it seems; I’m sure there is also a degree of xenophobia.

  273. Michael Bauman says

    The Western Rite in this country is based on the old Anglican Book of Common Prayer. It was blessed by St. Tikon in the early part of the 20th century.

    At my parish we have a Western Rite mission that holds its services in our chapel. They formed around a former Episcopal priest who converted after Eugene Robinson was confirmed as a ‘bishop’.

    I have been told there is a separate Western Rite that is based on the pre-Vatican II Tridentine Mass but I don’t know if that is true or not.

    I can tell you for sure that the current Roman Catholic Mass bears no resemblence to the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom that is celebrated at my parish. The version the GOA parish celebrates is much less full AND the 80 year old supply priest pretty much practices open communion. The priest is a man of amazing love. His laxity with the sacrament is not ideological or all, it just flows from his heart. Pretty amazing to see actually.

    The parishoners don’t come because they would rather be GREEK and die as a community than be Orthodox and live.

  274. Eliot Ryan says

    Note # 272
    I was referring to the “Christ is in out mist” part with handshakes and kisses, hitting the disk (bell ringing for Catholics) during the consecration of the Holy Gifts.
    Not sure if the priests partake communion the same way as the Greek priests do. Perhaps not much and it could be that
    the WRV is a totally different issues.

    Why am I worried about it when I have my own sins to be concerned about? Well, it is because I believe that the Orthodox faith must be preserved.
    The martyrs and the saints were not wrong. and the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church..
    Easiness to changes leads to deviations from it.

  275. Richard Barrett says

    Yes, the WRV uses both the Divine Liturgy of St. Tikhon as well as St. Gregory — the latter is, more or less, the historic Roman Rite, albeit in English and with an epiclesis added (I believe). My sense tends to be that if we’re going to have a Western Rite, let’s go with a liturgy that was actually celebrated by Orthodox Christians at some point or another rather than cooking up a new liturgical book, so I feel more comfortable with Gregorian use rather than Tikhonian, but having never actually attended a Liturgy where either were in use, I can’t really say.

    Christus resurrexit!


  276. orrologion says

    I was referring to the “Christ is in out mist” part with handshakes and kisses, hitting the disk (bell ringing for Catholics) during the consecration of the Holy Gifts.
    Not sure if the priests partake communion the same way as the Greek priests do.

    I think you may be mixing up Western Rite, ‘western’ influences, modern Orthodox influences, and non-Greek but Orthodox Tradition.

    “The “Christ is in out mist” part with handshakes and kisses” is an ancient practice of the Orthodox Church, but it is primarily known through its more recent addition in the Roman Catholic church post-Vatican II. I am not sure if it is a practice that was retained in a corner of the Orthodox world, or not.

    There are many ‘modern’ Orthodox that have taken ancient practices of the Orthodox Church and ‘reinstituted’ them in contemporary Orthodoxy. An argument is usually made that the current widespread practice in the Orthodox Church is ‘newer’ and therefore ‘less Orthodox’. In fact, the Holy Spirit guides the Church in such things; if they are received by the Church as a whole, they are accepted, if not, then not. For instance, much of the Holy Week pageantry is ‘new’ – within 100-200 years old – the Proskomidia is ‘new’ – from around 1000-1200 AD. Frequent communion went out of practice for quite some time, only to be resuscitated by the Kollyvades (and the likes of Schmemann in more recent times).

    The Western Rite was a missionary activity of the Church of Moscow in the 19th Century to revive the pre-Schism Liturgy of the Orthodox West. It is very much like Tridentine RC liturgics, but different (this form is served at the ROCOR Monastery of Christminster in Canada). There were other moves to accept both the Tridentine Rite of the RCC and the Book of Common Prayer of the Anglicans in an Orthodox Western Rite – these are primarily in the Antiochian Church. There are other movements that have attempted to recreate an Orthodox Western Rite as it would have been served before 1054 – mainly from the Sarum. There are two monastics serving in this fashion in ROCOR in FL (USA) and a few in Australia.

    There is also the difference between differing, purely Orthodox traditions. Differences between Greek and Russian practice is obvious. In fact, the Russian practice is ‘older’ than the Greek practice, which ‘developed’ over the same time period – and the Russians updated themselves to then current Greek practice in the 17th Century, which had changed from the older practices (this led to the Old Believer schism in Russia). There are many differences within Russia, too, since Russia was evangelized over many centuries by missions from different parts of the ecumene with differing traditions, e.g., from the Great Church, from Athos, from the Holy Land, Sinai, via Bulgaria or Slavs that had settled within the Empire, etc. Carpatho-Rusyns are often derided for taking on many ‘Latin’ practices, but most of the differences between Great Russian and Carpatho-Rusyn practice show the latter to be retaining far older traditions than Muscovy.

    “Hitting the disk… during the consecration of the Holy Gifts” is something done in my russophile OCA parish, so I bet that is a purely Orthodox tradition that you are simply not familiar with – if I am understanding you correctly. A bell is also rung after the priest communes as the curtain and doors are opened.

    There are also fully Orthodox differences in action of the clergy behind the iconostasis. For instance, the antidoron is blessed differently. The bishop sits in a different place (the Greek practice sits the bishop’s throne outside the altar where the Byzantine Emperor used to sit). Modern Greek practice also tends to leave the curtain and doors open most of the time during the services – this is normally only done in Russian practice when an Igumen, Archimandrite or Bishop is serving, or during Bright Week.

  277. Michael Bauman says

    Eliot, not sure where you have been, but in my parish no handshakes or kisses (did it one week years ago). The celebrant does tap on the chalice (once) as a signal to the choir that the priest’s communion is complete(since it is conducted with the altar curtain drawn closed)and to move on to the next piece of music. Plus it alerts the ushers that they should come foward to assist the communicants on the steps up to the solea.

    I’m sure that the litugical practice of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America (I will continue calling it that BTW) is somewhat different that some other places because of +Basil–one of the reasons +Basil is not on Met. Philip’s friends page.

    It seems a bit excessive to label such practical adaptations as a danger to the Church. They may have gone further in some places, don’t know.

    What is important is the sacred order that the Church proclaims be communicated rightly (Ortho-) so that we may offer worship and thanksgiving (dox). The sacred order that is revealed and nurtured by the person of Jesus Christ isn’t going away. IMO, too much attention to procedure is antithetical to allowing folks to enter into the mystery of our commuion with God and our life in the Church.

    I realize that it is disgustingly easy to allow too much leeway in practice so I do appreciate those who are more attentive to details than I tend to be. Its part of the dynamics of life in the Church.

    Christ is Risen!

  278. Eliot Ryan says

    Vere resurrexit!
    Truly, He is Risen!
    Thank you all for the answers. I have seen a bit more than I said but I prefer not to go further into details. It is also possible that I became suspicious due to the ecumenicist heresy. I am afraid that more wisely crafted pretexts for changes are to come. The Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch claims to have apostolic succession. In the same time they state:

    We do not believe that the traditional bias against women in the priesthood can be justified any longer. The Church of Antioch has been ordaining women priests, as well as consecrating women bishops for many years.

    So, they were wrong for close to 2,000 years and now they got it right. Do you think that this is not going to affect us? The ecumenists want us to be one with them and all the others who changed the Law of God, the teaching of the Holy Apostles and of the Holy Fathers.
    Are we now modern, enlightened people or people who increasingly perceive darkness as light?

  279. Richard Barrett says

    Looking at their website, I’m afraid I have absolutely no idea what the so-called “Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch” has to do with the Patriarchate of Antioch or the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. That website has about as much to do with AOCNA as the Antioch Bible Church down the street from the shopping mall.

    Oh well.

  280. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Dear Eliot

    This page lists all those churches that use our titles but who are not in communion with us … (I have to be careful how I describe this for legal reasons. Many of them are extremely litigious).

  281. Anyone notice the Greeting of Archbishop Demetrios’ encyclical for the Greek Independence Day Parade (as if we need such a thing)

    It begins:

    Beloved Omogeneis,

    The ethnic insanity of the GOA Herrenvolk know no bounds.

    You know I am not too upset that Metropolitan Jonah is not going to the Phanar. Who needs this stuff? The last thing we need is to model ourselves after the Phanariots.

    Getting uninvited by the Phanar, Criticized by Archons who know no moral bounds, and scolded by the Despota of Desperate Housewives in San Francisco sure seems honorable to me.

    If these folks are upset one most be doing the right thing.

  282. George Michalopulos says


    I agree. It is a badge of honor to not be buddy-buddies w/ the worldly bunch.

  283. Dean Calvert says

    Dear Andrew,

    You are spot on. If they are upset, we are probably moving in the right direction.

    My advice to Met. Herman a few years back was to “lose the Phanar’s telephone number.” Of course, he had other things on his mind.

    I think that’s still the right direction.

    Go and do good work…”from their works you will know them.”

    This is kind of like “show me who your friends are…” in reverse.


    Best Regards,

  284. TO Andrew,

    Actually, we do need Greek Independence Day, and I will be among those who fight and resist any efforts to eliminate the removal of Greek from the Church.

    For the record, the Greek War of Independence was started by the Church after centuries of the cancerous Ottoman Muslim domination of the Balkans which ravaged the Christian populations. Generations of Christian children lost to the Janissaries over many centuries, the forced conversions of Christians to Islam etc…

    The Greek War of Independence and the establishment of the Greek State breathed new life into the Orthodox Greeks who are obviously looked upon with disdain and contempt by this website. I saw the posts on the blog pertaining to the Archbishop’s March 25 visit to the White House and could not believe the utterly sarcastic and arrogant comments being made about the Archbishop.

    The Greek flag incidentally has the Christian Cross on it which Greeks everywhere honor with pride. If not for the Greek Revolution Christianity in Greece would eventually have been wiped out and Islam would be an even greater menace to the western world.

    For years, I have been writing letters defending the Churches of Serbia, Russia, and the Arab Orthodox against the media’s repeated attacks. I view any disrespect toward an Orthodox priest and Bishop with revulsion. The statements made against Archbishop Demetrios are repugnant in the extreme, as were the sarcastic comments about Greece’s Macedonian heritage.

    The New Testament records Saint Paul’s travels to Macedonia and it was not to the territory that the Slavs have today. In addition, the Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire which sent Saints Cyril and Methodios to convert the Slavs ruled in present day Northern Greece.

    Greek Independence day has very much a place in the Greek Orthodox Church because those of Greek descent honor our ancestors who upheld their faith,, language, and culture under horrific conditions. It was a resistance to Islamic oppression as were Constantinople’s resistance to the Islamic assaults of 626 and 678 AD. And it was given its blessing by the Church just as the Church once gave its blessing to the Emperors who fought the Muslim Arabs.

    For all intents and purposes, I came to this site with good will and interested in autocephaly, but I myself will never join with any movement that denigrates the Greeks and denigrates us as if we were nothing, and as if the Greek language was not the language of the New Testament, Byzantium, or the Greek fathers. As if we did not suffer for centures under the Turkish yoke in loyalty to Christ and his Church.

    It is as if the Church of Greece had not produced such theologians as the late John Romanides, or Metropolitan Ierotheos of Nafpaktos (one of the great theologians of today) or had not Metropolitan Zizoulias of the Ecumenical Throne who is a professor in Thessaloniki.

    I have the greatest love and devotion to all brother Orthodox Christians Serbs, Russians, Rumanians, Georgians, Albanians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Czecks, Poles, Finns, and Americans alike. But no movement can pretend to favor Orthodox unity when it decisively and unequivocally denigrates the Greek Church and nation as a whole. Go back and look at the derisive comments on the blogs pertaining to the Archbishop’s March 25 ceremony at the White House or on the blog pertaining to the Church of Greece that ridiculed the late Archbishop Christodoulos?

    I take no offense at legitimate debate and discussion, nor no am I concerned with the legitimate criticism of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the GOA. They can answer for themselves. But many of these posts are outright demeaning and disrespectful of Greeks like myself.

    The Church of Greece is filled with outstanding theologians, Bishops, Monks and ordinary faithful. Visit some of the old “yiayas” in Greece many of whom are illiterate and lack their theological degrees. These women are the greatest of Christians!!! Their piety and devotion, their fasting, their adherance to the essentials of the faith could teach all of us of what is to be a Christian!!!

    Yes, Greek Independence parades and celebrations are necessary. If you do not wish to commemorate it, you do not have to. But neither will we who are Greek ever turn our backs on a crucial turning point in history where the outbreak of the Revolution against the Muslims for the freedom of religion as well as for that of human dignity led to the execution of the Patriarch and twelve of his Bishops as well as to the slaughter of Greek Orthodox men, women, and children.

    In the history of the Orthodox Church, only holy Russia was free during the Ottoman years. The independence of Greece led to the establishment of a second Orthodox State. For Greeks to deny their history would be to deny Church history.

    Christos Anesti!


  285. Dean Calvert says

    Dear Theodoros,

    What do you think about this idea?

    I’ve long said that the priest should use the same amount of foreign language in the liturgy as they do in the sermon – since the purpose of the language is to communicate with the people. So, if the priest finds it necessary to use 50% Romanian/Greek/Arabic in the service – it should be because the people speak Romanian/Greek/Arabic in that parish. He should also be using approximately the same amount of Romanian/Greek/Arabic in the sermon.

    Let me tell you a true story that happened at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Farmington Michigan. I went there for a memorial service of a good friend about a year ago. I was looking forward to going, and thought I’d probably hear a lot of English, since most of the people there are 2nd and 3rd generation Greek/American. To my surprise, the priest used about 50% Greek that day.

    After the service, I went up to one of the board members that I knew, and told him, “Gus, since the priest thinks so many people understand Greek – I think he should also give the sermon 50% in Greek, since there must be a need for it.”

    “Oh…we couldn’t do that!” exclaimed the man.

    “Why not?” I asked.

    “No one would understand him,” he responded…not even realizing what he had just suggested.

    “Can you even hear what’s coming out of your mouth?” I said.

    I have no issue whatsoever with using the language of the parish…whatever that is. St. John Chrysostom himself used to go across Constantinople and perform sermons in the Gothic language to congregations of Gothic tribes who had settled in the outskirts of the city.

    What I do not understand is why we would want to use ANY language that the parish does not understand…isn’t that the secret weapon of the Orthodox…i.e, bringing the Word of God to the people in a language they understand? Didn’t St. Photios settle that argument when he sent Sts. Cyril and Methodios to the Slavs…with a Greek-based alphabet to boot?

    What do you think?

    Best Regards,


  286. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    In 40 years’ time the bulk of the worlds’ population will be living north and south of the 45 degree latitude. Already we are seeing a rush to grab land and mineral resources in the Arctic. So, Patriarch of Spitzbergen anyone?

  287. George Michalopulos says


    You are making our point unwittingly. I for one am proud that my Greek ancestors rebelled against the Sultan. What you are not aware of is how the Phanar did everything in its power to prevent the Greeks of the Morea from rebelling. After all, the Sultan was their “God-given sovereign.”

    Second, re autocephaly. The newly indenpendent Greek kingdom schismed off from C’pole and became autocephalous. It wouldn’t do to have the Greek bishops subject to a Turkish subject.

    Third, no one is against the Greek language or the Greek people. If they were, I wouldn’t be on this website. What they are against is the Greek hubris that comes across as elitism as in “you Bo-hunks, Polacks, Anglos, Spics, etc. must lick our Byzantine boots and be thankful for the few crumbs we toss you.”

    Fourth, the idea that the GOA’s hierarchs are the least serious and most worldly is consistently borne out by events. (Cf Bishop Jerry re “Desparate Housewives” and how “gay marriage doesn’t threaten the family.” Demetrius’ grovel before President Hussein the Beneficent was merely the latest in a long string of buffooneries.

    Hard words but that’s the perception. It may be wrong in some instances but stereotypes are based on reality to some extent. Don’t believe me? Try this on: not all blacks can play basketball but the NBA is 75% black.

    Re Dean, I’ve got a better idea: In every major metropolitan city in which there are more than four Orthodox churches, the bishop should mandate that one parish conduct its services completely in ecclesiastical Greek, another one in Old Church Slavonic, and the third in Arabic. The fourth one and all subsequent ones would be all in English. Theodoros, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and go along with this plan? I’ll give you some time to think about it. Tick-tock, tick-tock. Okay, what have you come up with? You won’t go for it because you know that these exclusively non-English parishes will fail within 6 months.

    There will come a time for placing our cards on the table, if not in this life, then the next. All of us, bishops included, will be asked how we invested the talents the Lord gave us. I for one, don’t want to be standing near a non-evangelizing, ethnocentric, xenophobic, obscurantist, nostalgia-worshiping GOA bishop on that dreadful Day. (Hint: the Lord is going to ask us how many souvlakia we prepared at the annual food-festivals.)

  288. Theodoros says

    To Dean Calvert

    I absolutely agree that the language used in the services must be the language of the people. That means English for any parish that demands English, whether for converts or for Greeks who do not speak Greek very well.

    I have no problem with this. I also happen to believe that criticism of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the GOA is entirely justified and I recognize full well the offensive nature of the Archimandrite’s speech.

    What I am criticizing is not the use of English which should be mandatory in most cases, nor making the Orthodox Church accessible to all, the but the general sarcasm and hostility being directed against Greeks in general in a couple of the blogs.

    Before Autocephaly and administrative unity can become realities we all need to sit down and settle all issues of common concern. Yes, the GOA and the EP need to be seriously restrained and many need to apologize for the offensive they have given.

    At the same time, those offended by them should direct their their outrage at them specifically, and not at the Greeks in general. I am not at all happy with the manner in which the EP and the GOA have chosen to operate.

    I think it is ridiculous for the EP to claim authority over the other jurisdictions in America. I could not believe they actually had the audacity to make this claim.

    At the same time, being Greeks I am somewhat put off by alot of the sarcasm on thse posts. All I ask is direct the anger at those specific Greeks who have caused the offense, not those of us who have no responsibility for the present mess, and some acknowledgement and respect for the Greek legacy of the past.

    If we mutually understand and respect each other and recognize and address one another’s concerns we will have administrative unity much sooner.


  289. Theodoros says

    To George

    I have absolutely no problem with English in parishes where the congregation demands English. At the same time, there are some parishes where the congregation is Greek and it should be there choice.

    As for the Archbishop, it is one thing to take issue with his mistakes and inability to promote Orthodoxy, quite another to mock and ridicule the man because of his lack of political sophistication.

    Clearly he is in over his head, but this not justify ridiculing him.

    As to the point about souvlaki and food festivals, I fully agree. But there is a difference between some of the ethnic stuff as opposed to the historical stuff.

    Souvlaki has no significence to Orthodoxy, whereas the Greek War of Independence having led to the establishment of a free Orthodox country does.

    I see a difference between history and learning of a specific time in history when the Church was oppressed, and another with regard to something as useless as food etc.

    In concluding though, although I am Greek I am not one of the exclusionary people of the Phanar or the GOA. I think many traditionalist oriented Greeks in the GOA are unhappy with their direction and will happily come along in a movement for unity, as long as it is not perceived as anti-Greek per se, but only critical of the Phanar or the GOA who despite possessing the leadership of the Greek Church in America do not speak for many Greeks.


  290. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Dear Theodoros

    I must be extremely dimwitted or insensitive or both but I don’t see anybody here being anti-Greek or disrespectful of Greek history and culture.

  291. Dean Calvert says

    Dear Theodoros,

    Christos Anesti!!!

    You and I have no argument.

    To be honest, I think the real problem has been a bastardization of the term “Hellenism” by those that you and I both have issues with.

    As I’m sure you know, the term “Hellenism,” when first used by Alexander the Great, was meant to be one of inclusion, a way to unite all the diverse peoples of the Persian Empire WITH the Greeks. It was meant to unite the civilized peoples of the planet against the barbarians. The first use of the word was symbolized by the wedding of the 500 Macedonian generals to Persian brides – meant to illustrate a merging of the two cultures. This was a remarkably progressive concept for 325 BC.

    The term, as it is used by people like Fr. Elpidoforos and the like, has now been completely reversed, with all of the idealism of the original phrase having been lost – and has now been turned into something approaching ethno-racism. I would guess most of the “anti-Greek” comments are nothing more than a natural revulsion caused by that…nothing more.

    As our Yiayias would have said, “Ti Hallia!” (what a shame for the “Americans” LOL).

    By the way, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Russia – but from your writings I can tell you would like it. I went there a few years back, looking for cranberries. At the time I was turning around a cranberry juice company out East. I had studied the language so that I was at least conversant…as you might guess it’s pretty easy to learn Russian if you can speak Greek…the alphabet is essentially ours plus 6 or 7 letters.

    In any case, I can’t tell you how many times I would be introduced to a Russian person, and many times someone would say that I was Greek. That comment was inevitably followed by the Russian person (a complete stranger) telling me, “The Greeks are very wise people…they gave us our alphabet, and they gave us our faith.” I was absolutely flabbergasted at the reaction. There is an attitude which approaches reverence surrounding Greeks in that country to this very day…it’s absolutely incredible.

    In any case…like I said, you and I have no argument whatsoever. We have respect for our culture, and understand that it is not the same as our faith. I think we both have the same respect and admiration for other cultures – and I would guess that we both find a lot to admire in the various cultural expressions of Orthodoxy around the globe, from Ethiopia to Varlaam and from Crete to Vladivostok. It really represents quite an amazing tapestry of traditions and cultures….from Romanos the Melodist to Rachmaninoff!

    Our Church Fathers were truly geniuses – we need to prove ourselves worthy of the inheritance.

    Best Regards,
    Kwvstantivos Kalavritinos

    PS who named his son Alexander

    PS PS You might want to take a good look at the OCL board sometime and their background. They are generally despised by the GOA as being anti-Greek. The truth is that Dr Andrew Kopan, may his memory be eternal, was one of the most brilliant Greek historians I’ve ever met (he taught me about St. Photios), George Karcazes has been intimately involved with Hellenic Studies and Cultural events in Chicago for 50 years, Peter Haikalis (ex president) is involved in Hellenic studies and the Patriarch Atheneagoras Institute in CA, Evan Chriss has forgotten more about Greek history than most people will ever know. You would find a lot in common with most of these folks. Incredibly erudite, yet humble and spiritual.

  292. George Michalopulos says

    Theodoros, I too apologize for any sarcasm. Believe me, I have nothing against Hellenism (as properly defined). What I absolutely despise is the “Amos and Andy” type Greekism that is a mockery of the proud race of the Hellenes. (You know, that idiot on Youtube, Basile, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” etc.) Also, the oriental bootlicking that is still apparent among many of our bishops and secular elites towards the powers that be.

    Speaking for myself, I would never have joined the OCL or been involved in pan-Orthodox movements if I thought that anybody within them was anti-Hellenic. True, many are anti-GOA/EP but that is only because they betray a hubris (ancient Greek word: overweening pride) towards those who are non-Greek. Let’s be honest, many of these functionaries are mama’s boys and my experience with these type of men is that they are invariably snobbish towards those not like them. They tend to retreat into obscurantism, laugh at other peoples’ attempts to speak Greek, in short belittle others who are in other ways, better, more moral people than them.

    If an anti-Greek attitude seeps out from those on the receiving end of such hurtfulness, it’s only because many times in this atmosphere, other Greeks will come to the aid of the offending bishops during such incidents. Like the Archons and Bishop Jerry who decided to pile on +Jonah even after he apologized. This is graceless, tactless, and puerile. It breeds resentment and a counter-reaction of hardening attitudes.

    But you’re right: unity will never come unless there is repentence on all sides. Genuine repentence.

  293. To Dean Calvert

    An Excellent message,thank you. Yes the Archimandrites speech was offensive without question, but the Phanar is only one of five Greek Orthodox Churches and not representative of all.

    As for OCL, I know who they are I have been reading their site for many years. I have argues with other Greeks about them. I take a favorable view of OCL because from what I have been able to ascertain, all OCL wants is the implementation of the Canons in America, and the fulfillment of the Gospel. I cannot do other than sympathize with this goal.

    And I would like to visit Russia. I am a Russophile and I have a great admiration for Russian history and culture, especially the Russian Church. Your points also about the favorable way in which Russians view Greeks is well taken.

    The Russians with all their differences with the Phanar recognize their is more than one Greek voice inside the Church. Patriarch Alexey had excellent relations with the late Archbishop Christodoulos of Greece (who supported Moscow on the Estonian Church issue) and today the Russian Church has warm relations with the Churches of Alexandria and Cyprus. It is a pity Constantinople has not pursued the same policies.


  294. To George Michalopoulos

    I agree with what you are saying. I have a great deal of sympathy with those who were offended by the Phanar and the GOA. I also think there are many Greeks like myself who recognize the need for change within the Greek Archdiocese and that the Greek Church has been badly represented to the effect that both converts to the faith have been turned away, and those of us of Greek descent have been misportrayed by the Archdiocese.

    I do like OCL because they want the implementation of the Canons in North America. I hope to clariy though that what I took offense at was not the critism of either the Phanar Archimandrite or the GOA but some of the postings that appeared.

    Christ is Risen!


  295. George Michalopulos says


    Let us continue to work together to reform Orthodoxy in America. The time is short and the laborers few. At base what bothers me is that none of this is necessary. The role of the EP is enshrined in Orthodox ecclesiology, there is no necessity for him or his minions to act the way they do.

  296. Michael Bauman says

    George, “there is no necessit for him or his minions to act the way they do.”

    There is no necessity for the Holy Synod of Antioch and Met. Philip to act the way they are acting. It is a failure of love. A failure to trust in God to lead and reveal the truth. ‘We know better!’

    The same goes for at least some of the opposition as well, unfortunately.

    Christ is Risen!

  297. George Michalopulos says

    All such actions on the part of our bishops covers the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church in no glory. Have they no fear of God?

  298. Theodoros says

    To Father Gregory

    I was referring to the blog about Archbishop Demetrios visit to the White House on March 25 and the blog about the Church of Greece


  299. Fr. Gregory Hallam says

    Dear Theodoros

    Comments on blogs here and there hardly constitutes systemic and widespread anti-Greek feeling. If I filtered my life through comments on the Internet I would become quite unhinged.

  300. George Michalopulos says

    The problem with critical comments that are directed towards certain bishops arises mainly when they enter the secular sphere and pursue worldly ends. This is the realm of politicians and one only needs to open a newspaper, turn to the editorial section, and gaze at a cartoon. These caricatures are rightly directed towards those who view the mundane world as their playground. GOAA bishops (or any other bishops for that matter) who involve themselves in pursuits other than the Gospel, walk into a secularist trap not unlike the sword of Damocles. The pomp and circumstance of the world is enticing but it comes at a price, usually criticism and often ridicule.

  301. Michael Bauman says

    If the following editorial from The Illuminator is accurate, it would go a long way to explaining the EP’s approach.

    Unity of the Church in Our Times?

    The present Pope of Rome, Benedict XVI, has promised that before the end of his tenure as Pope, he would like to see the two churches, Eastern and Western, to unite as one church family, the way they were during the first millennium of our Christian era. Many of us, involved with the theological dialogue between the two churches, Eastern and Western, would like that to become reality. What do we think?

    The Illuminator has followed the theological dialogue in the United States of America for the past thirty-five years. We have certainly made progress, which only responsible theologians may discover and appreciate. However, The Illuminator would like to share these progresses with its readers.

    Two of the important theological differences are those regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit and the Primacy of Peter. Regarding the procession of the Holy Spirit, the differences were in existence during the first millennium, with Saint Augustine being responsible for the Western understanding of this procession. Our dialogue in the United States stated that, as much and as far as the West will be willing to eliminate the Filioque from the Creed, the East should allow the West to keep their theologoumenon of the procession of the Holy Spirit according to Saint Augustine. The dialogue is now treating the question of the Preimacy of Peter, to realize that there is more that one successor of Peter in the life of the Church. This Pope suggests that the West cannot shovel down the throat of the Eastern churches its own developments in ecclesiology during the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.

    For the details about the Pope’s teaching, please see our article in this Illuminator issue regarding the theology of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and its influence on the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. We present the article in the original English and its Greek translation, for the benefit of our readers. The Pope of Rome and our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew are in agreement. It is our turn to also agree with our leaders.

    If we take the pope’s suggestion then, we can hope that the Pope will keep his promise and support the unity of the two churches, Eastern and Western, with the understanding that the unity of the Church may exist without for all the theological differences to be resolved by the theologians of both churches. Then, we could stand to see the two churches, Eastern and Western, uniting in our times, which is the wish of Christ Himself, as it is the wish of those who follow Christ’s will. So, let us hope that the will of Christ will prevail against the will of those who do not actually care about His will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven! The Illuminator would like to see the will of Christ to be accomplished during our lifetime. Let His will be done eventually, and not ours! Amen.

  302. Michael Bauman says

    All of the supposed ‘back door’ deals within the Church will pale in comparison if the EP really has sold out his Apostolic See to Rome.

  303. Michael Bauman says

    All of the supposed ‘back door’ deals within the Church will pale in comparison if the EP really has sold out his Apostolic See to Rome.

    If he has, that greatly simplifies the questions of Orthodox unity and the GOA. They’d simply cease to matter in the equation at all as an entity.

  304. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Two items (I am not endorsing the idea of unity, BTW): When Pat. Bartholomew went to Rome, he and Pope JPII recited the Creed together. The Filoque clause was omitted. This is very significant in terms of ecclesiastical diplomacy and indicates Rome is willing to drop it altogether.

    Internal discussions in Rome, led by Pope Benedict, acknowledge the need to a redefinition of primacy, one that leaves off jurisdictional claims to be replaced with a notion of primary or first pastor.

    Steps toward unity are much farther along than most people realize. Of course, Moscow will probably never go for it. However, it the Patriarch of Constantinople does indeed become the “Eastern Pope,” then this is a price Constantinople might be willing to pay.

  305. The present Pope of Rome, Benedict XVI, has promised that before the end of his tenure as Pope, he would like to see the two churches, Eastern and Western, to unite as one church family

    His predecessor had the same dream — and he will have the same ‘success’.

  306. George Michalopulos says

    Fr bless,

    I would like to see “true unity,” one in which the items you mentioned are dropped altogether (i.e. Filioque and Papal supremacy.) Unfortunately, I fear that the Phanar is simply going to play their usual jesuitical games and accept unity along with the elevation of Bartholomew as the “pope of the East.”

    This leads me to this disturbing thought: If unity between RC and EP takes place and the MP doesn’t go along with it, I fear that a horrible persecution will be unleashed on the MP and those who remain Orthodox. (I guess it’ll be too late to wipe the egg off of the faces of the +Jonah/OCA critics then.)

  307. George Michalopulos says

    p.s. isn’t The Illuminator the diocesan paper of the GOA/Pittsburgh? This would also explain why +Isaiah, the GOA metropolitan of Denver had two services recently with the RC bishop of Tulsa.

  308. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Moscow will never accept a union between Constantinople and Rome. If union ever comes to pass (a huge “if”), then it will cause a worldwide schism in Orthodoxy. Further, the schism would not be contained just to the Constantinople and Moscow. It would reach deep into the GOA as well.

  309. Michael Bauman says

    The striking probability is that, no matter how we may wish it otherwise, the Orthodox Church will continue to grow smaller. There is no reason for us who really are committed to the Truth to fight over ‘jurisdiction’. Sin alone keeps us apart.

    We all know that. The sins are not hidden, in fact they are so blatant as to be undeniable. We, however, continue to use the sins of others as justification for our own.

    Some even maintain that the separation is a good thing as it will allow some folks to be under a bishop who has not apostacized. Thinking, of course, that it is their jurisdiction which will remain true.

    Pride, arrogance, lust of power. We are all subject to these vices as even a cursory reading of just the posts here makes evident.

    We are supposed to be known by our love for each other. That can mean calling each other to account when we go astray as long as it is done in humility, but it also consists in forgiving transgressions, ignoring unimportant differences and finding common ground rather than looking for reasons to divide.

    To take just one problem that every Orthodox commentator has pointed out for at least the last 50 years: ethnocentrism. It seems to be a chicken/egg catch 22. For a united American Church to occur, ethnocentrism has to be put aside, yet how can it be until we get an American Church?

    For the life of me I cannot understand how anyone could conceptually reject the need for a united Church in this land. Yet people do. Why: fear, apathy, phylitism, lack of real desire to even attempt evangelization of the U.S.? I just don’t know. The only answer that really seems to be given is, because its not under the “correct” jurisdiction (fill in the blank as to which is correct).

    Whatever the reasons, none of them hold water. Especially in light of the increasing nilhilism in our culture. As Ben Franklin said in the debates over the Declaration of Independence: “We either hang together or we will hang separately.” Persecution is coming. Without love of our brothers, it will be that much more difficult to endure.

    If the EP really wants nonunity-unity with Rome and Met. Philip manages to tear apart the AOCA, our choices would be greatly reduced. Union with Rome under the conditions outlined in the Illumniator article is heresy. Antioch seems to be withdrawing from her commitment to Orthodoxy in this land for this land. We really don’t know about Moscow. Certainly the smaller Slavic jurisdictions probably have neither the will nor the resources to expand. ROCOR I don’t understand at all as they seem to be capable of producing great sanctity and great sanctimony.

    No course of action is going to be easy. But the status quo can no longer be maintained. We will either become more cohesive around the Holy Tradition or we will fracture even further.

  310. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Too glum, Michael. While it seems clear that becoming or remaining Christian will become more difficult, the clarity of the Gospel, as it is comprehended (and even practiced in places), in our Orthodox Christian faith can be a shining beacon. All that is needed is for people to live it.

    I am not so sure the Orthodox Church will contract. I’m not even sure if our present trials indicate contraction is inevitable. Rather, I see them as necessary in a sense; part of the struggle that arises as we discern, even hammer out, what it means to be Orthodox Christian in a culture that increasingly sees any reference to transcendent and enduring truth as irrelevant.

    Much of this irrelevancy however, arises not from an innate hostility to enduring truth (even though committed nihilists live among us), but because Christianity has become so acculturated that it has lost its savor. Having said this, there are many people looking for certainty, transcendence, and enduring truth. All we need are laborers in that harvest.

    Times of difficulty, hardship, even threats can also be times of great creativity. Just look at the lives of the apostles. As difficulties increase, the sheep will be separated from the goats. You will see much consternation, but you will also see miracles. That age is already upon us.

  311. Michael Bauman says

    Fr. Hans, you are probably correct about my glumness. I agree with you that our current difficulties are necessary to break up the false divisions that divide us without cause. Unfortunately, there will be many who will cling to what divides rather than allowing the unity of Christ to manifest more fully. I may even be one of them. Emotional attachments to doing things a particular way are hard to let go of. It becomes difficult to discern what is proper obedience. That is the one of the problems with what is happening in the AOCA right now.

  312. Scott Pennington says

    “Then, we could stand to see the two churches, Eastern and Western, uniting in our times, which is the wish of Christ Himself, as it is the wish of those who follow Christ’s will. So, let us hope that the will of Christ will prevail against the will of those who do not actually care about His will to be done on earth . . .”

    Yes, of course. Deus vult! I’m not sure why anyone would say that the “uniting” of the Church with a heretical body is the will of Christ Himself – – unless they have no serious respect for doctrine, but we’ll get back to that in a minute.

    More deeply, if Rome had wished to accept the Orthodox faith corporately, they have had ample opportunity to do so during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. That’s not what they are interested in. What they are interested in is giving up as little as possible of Roman prerogatives while throwing enough bones to unwitting or foolish Orthodox to convince them that unity is something they could hold their nose and accept.

    When a Pope stands at St. Peter’s and denounces the doctrine of Papal Infallibility and of universal immediate jurisdiction, when renounes any and all claims to powers not given to him as a bishop or by the Seven Councils, when he abolishes the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and Purgatory, when he breaks his own Western Patriarchate up into smaller autocephalous churches, and about a half dozen other Orthodox reforms, then you will know that Rome is serious and wants a unity based on integrity and not on horsetrading that is disrespectful to both Orthodoxy and to traditional Roman Catholicism. I’m not holding my breath.

    For all the good they do on the abortion front, Rome’s primary animating principle remains the worldly and spiritual power of the Vatican. Doctrine only matters when it serves this interest. This is perhaps why they and Constantinople have this romance: Constantinople’s primary animating principle remains the worldly and spiritual power of the Phanar (see Constantinople’s current interpretation of Canon 28 of the IVth EC).

    As to Michael’s point,
    Sadly, I agree with him to a considerable extent. There are some hard lessons the Orthodox are going to have to learn if we wish the Church to grow – – here or anywhere. Among them are that we have to regain our traditional understanding of the roles of men and women in the family. When married Orthodox couples again begin to trust in God’s providence and commit to having as many children as God gives them, when we make our churches seeker friendly by minimizing ethnic facets like language and ethnic holidays, when we regain a sense that seekers respond to traditional attitudes and practices as an (often welcome) demand on their self discipline, and when we make evangelism a permanent committee on every parish council which is supported as much if not more than other committees, then we will change the dynamic of Orthodox decline.

    I see some if this in some parishes I have visited, but not most. All these things should be preached from every pulpit and frequently encouraged in festal encyclicals.

    I fear that we really do not see the writing on the wall. Or, if we do, we simply have surrendered to the idea that the problem is insoluble or the solutions are so demanding or terrible (from a cultural/political perspective) to contemplate. The most seriously politically incorrect change that has to be made is to subordinate the careers of women to their reproductive role, and not vice versa.

    In any case, in this evil age, I see preservation and mild progress on these fronts as the best that can be managed. And, also sadly, I think it will have to get much worse before many Orthodox wake up.

  313. Michael Bauman says

    Scott, while you may be correct in your assessment of the traditional and ontological male/female roles need to be re-emphasized, I think you are wrong in your starting point. When men start being men instead of greed/power driven metrosexuals, that may allow women to be women. When men are willing to give themselves as a living sacrifice for their families (that does not mean spending all the time at work), being faithful, giving of ourselves in all kinds of ways. When we actually honor the women in our lives for all of the gifts they have, when we are willing to conform our own life to Christ sufficiently to be able to lead a family in Christ; to both model Christ for our children as well as instruct and pray with them, then women will have something to return to. Given the current exerable state of so many men, it is an awful lot to ask of women.

    In any case, it involves a lot more than just the roles since our entire culture is now founded upon the industrial-capitalist model that demands all ‘workers’ be in the ‘work force’ or be deemed as unproductive and therefore parasitical and of no value. Children are a positive hinderance for the same reason.

    Autocratic statism is the end game here. Having and maintaining genuine families has become a radically revolutionary activity, just as cherishing human life as intrinsically valuable.

    The healing power of traditional culture and Christ is amazing however, but that includes a proper celebration of the traditional/Christianized values of the Arabic, Greek and Slavic cultures, not the secularized versions. Eschewing all current political ideologies no matter what they promise for they are all rooted firmly in the lies of the world. The Church must regain her prophetic voice founded upon the members of the Church living transformed lives. If we are unwilling to allow the Holy Spirit to transform and transfigure us, all of the proper doctrine and worship are simply dust.

  314. Scott Pennington says


    I think we are essentially in agreement. I’m not sure what you perceived to be my “starting point” though. I was speaking in the context of talking about church growth. But you are correct.

    I would make one observation though. Given the current political/cultural situation here in the Western world, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for men to assume their traditional roles. There is a power problem of which I’m sure you’re aware.

    In prior Christian civilization, not only the Church, but the general culture and the law reinforced the patriarchy. Alas, such is not now the case and constitutes yet another reason why I see no hope at all in democracy.

    A man could act like a traditional Christian man even in this society, but too much is dependent on the good will and piety of Christian women in a society that aggressively discourages them from their God-given roles. So, on that narrow point, I differ with you slightly in that I do not see that even if men behave rightly that women would naturally follow – – not in this society.

    Oh, the evil of this age!

  315. Michael Bauman says

    Scott, not easy for either men or women. It requires kenotic offering on both of our parts. In fact, one can not do it without the other. It can only start in two hearts dedicated to God and to each other equally guided by the Holy Scripture and Tradition. One marriage at a time with great prayer and fasting.

    Just putting aside the idea that marriage is all about carnality and dominance would be a start for a lot of folks. For some just remaining faithful in marriage, no adultery, no porn, no workaholic abandonment.

    Think big, live small.

  316. Scott Pennington says


    If you give people the right to be equal partners in a marriage, you give them the freedom to have easy, no-fault divorce, etc., then you will get high divorce rates. What you’re saying is true as far as it goes; however, no man, or couple is an island. What the rest of the culture does, even if it’s just their own church culture, matters.

    The fact that the law does not recognize the husband as the head of the house, that divorce is easy, etc. are the reasons we have high divorce rates today. If we disagree on anything, I think it is that you believe that it is possible to change the culture by trying to live as traditional Christians within it. I don’t think that that will change the culture. It is a very good idea in and of itself, but without the law and social expectations on our side, we’re basically playing Amish.

    Eventually a revolution will come, and I mean a political one. I just hope that it’s leaders are Christians who have traditional attitudes. Until then, like you, I’m content to live the best I can in an evil society.

  317. Michael Bauman says

    I rather doubt it is possible to change this culture, but whether it changes or not, we are still called to live as Christians. We will all be held accountable for our love of God and our love of others (or lack thereof). Certainly, a flash point for testing our ability to love and forgive and pick up our cross daily is marriage. Living as Christians gives the only hope for actual cultural change.

    There is no question that the feminist movement has degraded both men and women increasing the feckless sexuality, and violence against both women and children (fallout from abortion).

    Men are allowed to escape our responsibilities not because of equality but because of eqalitarianism. It is no longer seen as necessary to protect women as they can ‘take care of themselves’ after all, just like men. Men and women can be equal without being the same. Certainly we are before God. In marriage as in the Church what is required is mutual submission to Christ in love with the man leading.

  318. Scott Pennington says

    “Men and women can be equal without being the same.”

    If you tell me where it says that a husband should submit to his wife, then I’ll buy it. Real Christianity is relentlessly patriarchal. It is impossible to get the impression from the Bible as a whole or from the New Testament alone that men and women are equal in authority, especially in a marriage. We really should not meet feminism half way with this, “equal but different” nonsense. It may be a good selling point to evangelicals and those whose moral compasses have been ruined by modern attitudes, but it is fundamentally dishonest and a misrepresentation of the Gospel.

    My point, and I guess I have to sharpen it in order for it to get across, is that it is impossible to have a truly Christian marriage in this society since Christianity insists on male leadership and the inequality of power between the sexes and the law here mandates otherwise. Therefore, even if the wife follows St. Paul’s advice and submits to her husband, it is merely her good will (which is nonetheless vital and important) which can change at any given time resulting in disastrous consequences. If, on the other hand, she had a legal obligation to submit to her husband then that would provide additional security to the continuance of the marriage. If you don’t believe me, take a look at how infrequent divorce was during the time when male leadership in the home was unquestioned in both the law and culture.

    But, all of the above is really just me venting. Every word is true but it will be lost on practically everyone here because it’s too hard to bear.

  319. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Scott, are you married?

  320. Scott Pennington says

    Fr. Jacobse,

    If your point is that I would not make such statements if I were married, that is entirely possible. But it would be because I had been cowed from the truth since I had to live with a wife who’s sensibilities are shaped by modernist ideas. If I were married and living in a culture that was thoroughly patriarchal, I’m sure I would not hesitate to make such points.

    I’m not really interested in finding a future ex-Mrs. Pennington. Perhaps if I were to move to a more patriarchal culture I might be willing to pursue it. But if I can’t have the real thing, I don’t want it at all.

    Now, I’m happy and at peace – – which is infinitely preferable to the discord that characterizes modern marriages. Modern marriage certainly has its benefits. It’s just that, by my lights, they are infinitely outweighed by its detriments.

    As you may recall from personal correspondence by e-mail, I practice law and am often involved in court cases where children are removed from the home. I see marital discord very often, whether professionally or when I see what has happened to my peers who have gotten married and lived the modern married life.

    I consider that a wife can leave with the kids because she gets bored or meets someone else. I consider that kids know that adults only have very limited power over them and behave accordingly. I consider the child support cases I see where the man never wanted the divorce and didn’t want to lose his family. Bear in mind, the odds are 50-50.

    Moreover, given the depravity of this culture, why would I want to perpetuate it through marriage and children? Why would I want to bring children into such a sick culture?

    I don’t think I would have any anxiety about getting married if it were understood by all that I am the head of the household. But apart from the Amish, etc. who can reinforce their teaching with the threat of shunning, Christian men in this society are really at the mercy of their wives when it comes to the stability of the marriage. Half the time it fails and two-thirds of the time it’s the woman who files for divorce.

    No, Fr. Hans, thankfully I’m not married.

  321. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    I kind of thought so, not because your point is wrong theoretically, but because it lacked a certain sense of give and take, the learning that takes place in the back and forth of making a marriage work. It’s a lot like raising kids. You learn as you go, but if the commitment to love is there, on the hard side it at least serves as a brake on frustration, anger, impatience, and all the other things that provocation can bring forward, and on the easy side the sheer wonderment of talking to a person that is partly like you — someone who you understand because they share something with you is nothing short of astonishing. And this doesn’t end because they keep growing.

    Marriage is the same way in a sense. You learn as you go. So while the moral precept is true, and while it is certainly true that feminist ideals harden natural dysfunction, marriage doesn’t work because it follows the precept as theory, but because it’s the only way that love can flow. And like raising kids, there’s a hard side and an easy side. Sometimes love is losing your life (I mean really losing it), other times it is joy in concord and sharing. One way or another you figure it out — never completely I think, but certainly more deeply.

    So don’t let the breakage you see around you discourage you Scott. There might be a good woman out there for you, if you are at all interested that is. Either way, single or married, both ways of living can be blessed.

    Moreover, given the depravity of this culture, why would I want to perpetuate it through marriage and children? Why would I want to bring children into such a sick culture?

    Something is wrong with this analysis but I have to think it through. I’ve picked it up in other things you wrote. I really like what you write, but I think that there is more beauty in the world than you see sometimes.

    I just had an insight. In order to see the beauty, you have to bear the stream of sorrow that runs through life too. You bear the sorrow (you make the sorrow bearable) by loving the the people that God brings to you to help. And be very careful with anger.

  322. Scott Pennington says

    Fr. Hans,

    You know me well enough by now to realize that flowery prose is lost on me.

    ” . . . marriage doesn’t work because it follows the precept as theory, but because it’s the only way that love can flow.”

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about here, but I think we’re talking past each other. Marriage doesn’t work because it doesn’t follow the precept. Surely you know the empirical data. There are more important things besides our emotions (although they are important). Let love flow sounds a bit “60’s”, don’t you think? The modern world has destroyed the institution of marriage in this country. For those that wish to take the plunge at least they know what’s in store for them – – it’s not really Christian and it’s nothing at all like the traditional model of marriage that prevailed for 1900 years.

    Enough said by me on the subject. It’s kind of a tangent from the topic we’re under.

  323. Steve Robinson says

    Hi Scott, Fr. Hans kinda beat me to the punch with his question, and his response to you is very kind. Basically (after 36 years of marriage and having been a marriage counselor) I’d say the biggest failure in our culture is on the part of men, not women. The Scriptures give men the “primacy” which is ultimately the harder role in marriage: Love your wife as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. If you approach marriage as if you are God the Father (ie., authoritarian) without the sacrifice of your life for her, you’ve lost your wife. There are women out there who will submit to a man who is the image of Christ to her. What better thing in this culture than to bring children into it who might be salt and light in the darkness. As Fr. Hans noted, as a lawyer you’ve seen the dark side, perhaps too much, and that is sad that your concepts and expectations of marriage have been tainted by that so deeply. Marriage is hard. Biblical Love is hard. Without men who will submit to being crucified for unloving, disobedient, wayward and ungrateful women there can be no Christ-ian marriage. May you find someone you can sacrifice your life for.

  324. George Michalopulos says

    Sorry, Fellas, but I gotta go with Scott on this one.
    Everything posted so far by everybody is accurate, both theoretically and reality-wise, but as I discern Scott’s points, society has definately eschewed/vilified/etc. the masculine/patriarchy. This has led to the collapse of society and the “war of all against all” that is permeating the American underclass. Just by assaulting the masculine principle the “dogs of war” have been unleashed. And all for what? So women could be sexual predators? It’s gonna take a lot more than repentance. Just like birth control, the toothpaste has been squeezed out of the tube. the best we can hope for is attending traditionalist Orthodox churches where families take their responsibilities seriously and reinforce each others’ phronema. And even then, it’s iffy.

  325. Scott Pennington says


    That’s all very sweet. But until you or Fr. Hans actually address the dynamics of cause and effect on a culture wide basis, you’re not going to be very convincing at all.

    “Without men who will submit to being crucified for unloving, disobedient, wayward and ungrateful women there can be no Christ-ian marriage.”

    You sound like a masochist. Um, part of my point is that men didn’t have to put up with so much when we had a cultural and legal concept of the patriarchy in place. Women would be much more reluctant to incur the wrath of the husband, of their peers and of the law.

    But what you’re saying is instructive of how much this touchy feely feministic culture has affected you. I do not suggest for a moment that a husband does not have a Christian duty to love his wife. And that is still part of our culture and our law (insofar as the law takes such a thing into account; i.e., a duty of mutual support). What it does not take into account is the duty of the wife to submit to the husband. We downplay that as often as possible or omit it entirely, even the Orthodox, because it is so culturally offensive, even in Orthodox circles. It’s like the Greek saying about the husband being the head and the wife being the neck. It totally negates the duty of submission.

    Compare your ideas to those of the Fathers or of Orthodox who lived over a century ago. Then come back and tell me about it.

  326. Scott Pennington says



  327. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    What I mean by “love flows” is that the relational dynamics are such that some measure of real communication, communion to some degree (sometimes more, sometimes less) can still occur. I don’t mean by the term an Oprah-esque idealization of sentiment.

    I’m no expert at this, I am not a marriage counselor, I haven’t even developed a vocabulary to describe what I am trying to describe. Nevertheless, love could be described as a state of being, that is, a way of orientation towards the other person. Sometimes it comes easy and sometimes it is very hard. The hard parts are where it is easy to fail. Sometimes love means holding your tongue when you want to yell; listening, really engaging the person while pushing out of your mind the thing you might otherwise want to do; driving to the store to get something even though you are dead tired; listening to the same complaint even though you already understand it (women need to express the same thing several times I’ve learned) and so forth. Love, in other words, is most often a verb, and lots of times it takes interior work to make happen.

    The remarkable thing is however, that if you make this sacrifice, things tend to work to the good.

  328. Steve Robinson says

    Hi Scott and George, I know this whole discussion is somewhat off topic (it does impact the concepts of “primacy” and authority etc.), but as much as I agree with Scott’s point that modern law and culture has failed to reinforce the notion of submission, I’d submit that it has failed to reinforce the concept of love as it is biblically defined. I wasn’t being facetious nor masochistic in my comment about love, I think it is absolutely patristic and is taught in our Holy Week hymns regarding the nature of Christ’s sacrifice for the disobedient, ungrateful, clueless and wayward, and by St. John Chrysostom’s “On Marriage”. If we are going to critique the culture, let’s critique it in a “Trinitarian” order: the failure of men to be a true “head”, have primacy defined by love as God loves in Christ, THEN talk about the wife as “the Church”. Again, I belive Scott’s observations are correct, the role of women has been gutted of any form of “submission” to any authority within marriage by our culture. However, I am also a believer that men’s roles have been gutted of the Gospel too, to be defined by utilitarianism as a support of a lifestyle is not “love”. Men must first must fulfill their “image and likeness” and not follow or be mere reactors to women’s attitudes and fallenness like Adam in Paradise. Had Adam obeyed God and not followed Eve but sacrificed himself for her instead of reacting in the same manner of her disobedience, we might not be in this discussion. I think we are in basic agreement of the influence of culture on marriage and the ease with which women can bail out, but I also think the approach of saying “if we only had a culture and laws that supported my authority as a husband I’d have a better chance at a good marriage” is a bit naive about the nature of what it takes to make a marriage work in any culture and age. St. Paul wouldn’t have had to deliver Ephesians 5 if the “patriarchial culture” of his day was a panacea for husbands with unsubmissive wives. Anyway, ’nuff said, I think. We both see and have seen the same effects of culture on marriage in our mutual areas of expertise. No controversy over that. Regardless of culture, it ultimately comes down to how can I make MY marriage work with MY wife.
    That is much harder than theorizing about culture and marriage, I’m here to tell you. 🙂

  329. George Michalopulos says


    yeah, we veered off-topic somewhat. Let’s get back to criticizing Lambrianides. That was much more fun and productive. 🙂

  330. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    My point is not that cultural attitudes about marriage are not off base. Clearly they are. I think it is a mistake however, for Scott to make a decision about marriage based on the wreckage he sees around him. And I certainly don’t agree that he should not have children because other people mess up their kids. That strikes me as sharing the same affliction that he criticizes — a kind of terminal hopelessness.

  331. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Sounds good George. BTW, I read through it again two days ago. I have to say, it’s a singularly unimpressive analysis. It’s flat; nothing remarkable, nothing new, no real insight.

  332. Scott Pennington says

    “but I also think the approach of saying “if we only had a culture and laws that supported my authority as a husband I’d have a better chance at a good marriage” is a bit naive about the nature of what it takes to make a marriage work in any culture and age.”

    I think it is a mathematical certainty that, on average, that is the case. When the patriarchy was a fixture in the law and the culture, divorce rates were lower, abortion rates were lower, etc. It’s just a fact. What I think or you think can’t change it.

    You guys are too focused on what might possibly work in a particular marriage in the context of this evil culture. As far as that goes, I don’t disagree with you. But as far as changing the context – – it will not. Unless there’s systemic change you will continue to see high divorce rates, broken families, the emotional disorders in children and adults that result from a broken home, high abortion rates, etc.

    From 1 Corinthians:
    7:8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
    7:9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
    7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
    7:11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

  333. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Unless there’s systemic change you will continue to see high divorce rates, broken families, the emotional disorders in children and adults that result from a broken home, high abortion rates, etc.

    Well, yes, but how is this any different than saying: “Unless there is a decrease in high divorce rates, broken families, the emotional disorders in children and adults that result from a broken home, high abortion rates, etc., you will continue to see high divorce rates, broken families, the emotional disorders in children and adults that result from a broken home, high abortion rates, etc.”?

    The question, in other words, hangs on what you mean by “systemic change.” Steve’s point holds I think. We are at the place where “systemic change” — cultural transformation really — has to begin from the inside out, much in the way abolition worked. Change the culture, politics will follow — if we don’t abandon our freedom first. Abandon freedom (an increasing possibility the way it looks), and the dynamic changes significantly. The culture war still exists in other words, only now the stakes are considerably higher.

  334. Scott Pennington says

    What I mean by “systemic change” is a form of government that is less “free”, more patriarchal and less dependent on public passions. I imagine that as things get worse in the coming years and decades that the chances of such a revolution (or a collapse and restructuring which would accomplish the same thing) will increase. I know it’s unthinkable to many right now, but it is always unthinkable for those in a dominant civilization to conceive of the end of their established order – – and it always eventually happens. Lord, let it come quickly.

  335. I sympathize with Scott here. Why open yourself to the wreckage? Simply take the issue of abortion. It is shockingly rampant. The Guttmacher Institute states that a third of all women in the U.S. will have had an abortion by the age of 45. If your wife wishes to kill your children, there is nothing that you can do to keep that from happening. Now, you can say that such would never happen if you support your family and if you find the right woman to marry. Yet, how is it possible to find the right person in the cesspool of modern America? It is rare to find a man with sense and even rarer to find a woman so endowed. The culture is utterly corrupt, and it cultivates withered souls.

    Moreover, even if two good people marry, then the “village” is against them. How can one raise the salt of the earth in such an environment? How often do you see wonderful parents who seemingly have done everything right churn out vipers? With regard to this issue, people sometimes talk about the early Christians and their experience in the pagan empire. We are worse off as a society, though. We may have religious freedom, but the Greco-Roman pagans were far more rational than the post-Christian West today.

    In case you think that I overstate the case, please consider Stephen Baskerville’s “Divorced from Reality.” It is sickening.

    In law, culture, education, and work, our social set-up is very corrosive to sane family life. I hate to think it, but we do deserve to die off as a society.

  336. All Empires of the past, whether Babylon, Persia, Macedonia, Egypt, Rome, Britain–without exception–collapsed through their own internal decadence.

    Such will be the case with ours, as well as all future “World Empires”. They too will have their struggle, their spiritual awakening, their rise to power, their prosperity, their opulent decadence, their spiritual death and their inevitable collapse.

    I dare say that this is what St. John’s “Revelation” is describing….the dissolution of every “earthly” city and kingdom until His Heavenly Kingdom–the New Jerusalem–upon the final trumpet call, triumphantly descends upon the rubble of these perishable kingdoms. A Kingdom that isn’t ruled by fiat totalitarian dictatorship, nor a lustful ruling Mob, nor a greedy Monarchy, nor a self-worshiping Republic, nor a prideful oligarchy—but ruled by the love of God.

    The “symbols”, “tropes” and “archetypes” of St. John’s book of “Revelation” are realized in every generation–past, present and future. The two “Beasts”, the “mark of the Beast”, the “False Prophet”, the “whore of Babylon”, the “bowls”, the “seals”, the “trumpets”, the “Dragon”, the “falling away”, the “two witnesses”, the “judgments”—were present in St. John’s day….but, also, in ours too.

    Our struggle and our fight is not over clinging to the honors, prestige, pleasures or hopes of this world, as if this world held any sort of permanence or hope for us. For us Orthodox, it is to listen to the scriptures plea:

    “come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).

    If we would have a share in glory, then we must first endure our “cross”. It is through the threshold of “death” that we will begin to see the dawning of “life”. And many there will be, shining as New Jerusalem, from every “tribe, tongue and nation” on earth in God’s eternal Kingdom….even Americans!!

    Will God raise Hellenism? No. Indeed, His Bride has already rebuked her prophets, poets and philosophers with the “foolishness of the cross” (1 Cor. 1:18-25)….which surpasses even the Olympian heights of the Greeks.

    Will God raise Judaism? No. For, by the consummated pride of believing ones ethnic heritage holds a place of honor and privilege in God’s sight, God was rejected by them. Yet, God cannot be mocked; for He stirred them to jealousy by bestowing His Spirit upon the Gentiles, pruning their Olive branch and overthrowing their “earthly” Temple within a generation, just as He promised (Acts 10; Romans 11:11-36, Matt. 24).

    “For there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11).

    Will God raise mankind? Yes. From least to greatest. For God came in human flesh (John 1:1,14) to redeem mankind– and not mankind’s “ethnicity”, “culture”, “language”, “history” or “ideas”.

    What did the Lord Jesus Christ think of “primacy”?

    “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

    (Matt. 20:25-28)


    “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

    (Philippians 2:5-8)

    Therefore, let us endure the lowly treatment from our “lords”, as examples of the meekness and humility of Christ.

    As the scriptures say:

    “God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.”

    For our lives on this earth are so very short, while eternity is so very long. We must hold fast to humility….lest, we too, receive dire chastening. But perhaps, very soon–even this very day or night–we shall inherit the joy prepared His children, and a “Mansion” which lasts forever and ever.


  337. I’ve read the EP has about 7000 Orthodox Christians under his direct care in Turkey. By comparison, there’s a Baptist church down the street from me with about 20,000 people in it, and several more of similar size in my home city (not to mention the many hundreds of smaller congregations). The dwindling of his flock is assuredly a reflection on his poor leadership. The apostles didn’t let the Roman Empire get in the way of winning souls for Christ. I don’t see why the EP should let the Turkish government succeed where Rome failed.

    So rather than worry about controlling the American churches, perhaps the EP should concentrate on doing evangelism in Turkey. Take Fr. Zakaria Botros‘ example. Shouldn’t the Patriarch be doing that?

    Or move the Patriarchate to New York. Then we can come back to the table and talk about his relationship to the diaspora.

  338. If the Greek Archdiocese is doing such a great job according to the author, then why are the Greek churches not welcoming to non-Greeks?!? We have moved all over the country and visited many, many Greek churches, but feel the cold shoulder every time. My husband is a convert to Orthodoxy (I am cradle Russian Orthodox), and yet, we would love our little northern European mutt to learn modern and Biblical Greek someday, but we are having a very difficult time finding a sincerely warm Greek church.

    Churches too ethnically oriented put more of a focus on their festivals than The Faith – even within the OCA. We are currently living on the East Coast and the ONLY words I heard from some parishioners here (OCA) for several months were, “We’re rolling perogies on Thursday for the upcoming festival and could really use your help!” At a truly Antiochian church in our area, you could clearly see their facial expressions drop when you didn’t give an Arabic name. Experiences such as these brought me to tears for months as we adjusted to the Orthodox churches on the East Coast. If you want to feel true Christian love, visit the Orthodox churches in the western United States. They are the ones producing converts, monastics, and seminarians.

    If you can get the E.P. to come to NY, be sure he takes a trip westward. He will see the fruits of Orthodoxy there.

  339. Michael Woerl says

    “At no point, the spirit of nationalism took hold of the Ecumenical Patriarchate because that is incompatible with the concepts of Hellenism and Ecumenicity (ecumenical character) as well as with the Christian Orthodox faith.”

    Tell the Russians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Georgians, and especially the Romanians who have been barred or ejected from Holy Mount Athos that “a spirit of nationalism” has never taken hold of the Ecumenical Patriarchate! Is this a joke? If it is, it is a very bad joke. Constantinople has violated the prerogatives of just about ALL the Orthodox Churches, probably those of the Russian Church more than any. With its invasions into Poland, Finland, Ukraine, Estonia, China, on and on and on . . . it has shown itself to be bascially power mad, and not willing to let any other Church into a “diaspora” it claims as its own private property.

    Dont like convert clergy? Quit ordaining them! Tradition? In the Greek Archdiocese? WHAT tradition? Greek Fest? Thats about as traditional as it gets! The Greek Archdiocese parish where I live, as I understand it is typical-very few go to communion; NOBODY goes to confession; a “crazy” convert tried to go to confession twice in one month and was told you only have to go once a year! The priest DOES hold some weekday services, but NO ONE goes – I was at three-and the only people at all three were the priest, the chanter, and three of those “crazy” converts! Imagine going to church during the week!

    At Greek Fest in St Louis one year, I learned the NEW history of Orthodoxy. In a “Learn about Orthodoxy” talk we were told that in 1054 THE ORTHODOX CHURCH LEFT THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH! No mistake in hearing-those were the exact words! Yeh, boy, thats TRADITIONAL! And those Roman Collars-yeh, those are pretty traditional too aren’t they? Just like the pews, the organs, and the Bishops that compare the Pres of the USA to Alexander the Great! Wait a minute-is that good? Obama the Great, conquering the known world! Putting all enemies to death! Worshiping Zeus . . . Hhhhmmm….

    The Ecumenical Patriarchate “extend its jurisdiction” over America? I pray to God that day NEVER comes, because if it did, it would be the death of Orthodoxy in America! And using those little dioceses as an example of some sort of “variety” – a very poor example!

    The Patriarchate of Constantinople, in its original territory, has NO people. It has NO diocesan Bishops, only Bishops of cities that do not exist any longer (which is also uncanonical I believe); it has no churches; it has no monasteries; it does have jurisdiction over Mount Athos, and violates the Athonite Charter every chance it gets. It wants to make Athos into a Byzantine Museum it can charge admission to, and make the real monks go away. If somehow the American Archdiocese were to successfully secede from Constantinople, the Patriarchate could no longer exist, as it would not have the money to do so. Therein lies the NEED for Constantinopolitan hegemony in America! There is MORE than one kind of green after all!

  340. Well said Michael and 100% true.

  341. George Michalopulos says

    Michael, I’m glad to see that others picked up on Rev Elpidophorus’ comments regarding the “fact” that “nationalism never took hold” of Constantinople. The problem is more deep than the Phanar’s regular intrusions into other Churches’ jurisdictions, it’s that people like the good Rev. actually believe what they said. Delusion.


  1. […] this hit. From an address given at Holy Cross Seminary by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. […]

  2. […] When +Bartholomew elevated the Bishops to Metropolitans, the only purpose was to centralize power. No notion of of bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to non-Greek-Americans entered Constantinople’s thinking. Their mission is not evangelical, but political. The new Metropolises (Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, San Francisco, New York, New Jersey, Pittsburgh) are merely push-pins on a world map in the Phanar showing the “growth” of the Patriarchate of Constantinople under the incumbent patriarch. Nothing must deviate from the Diaspora narrative that serves the Phanariote political program (see: Ecumenical Patriarchate: American ‘Diaspora’ must submit to Mother Church). […]

  3. […] have been swallowed up by one or the other of the foreign patriarchates. Since now-Metropolitan Elpidophorous Lambrianides gave his startling speech at Holy Cross some three years ago (in which he demanded […]

  4. […] the autocephaly of the OCA after an archimandrite attached to the Patriarchate of Constantinople delivered an hysterical diatribe demanding the “submission” of American Orthodoxy to “the First Throne of […]

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