Met. Jonah to Old World bishops: Hands Off the American Church!

In a stinging rebuke to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America issued a call for a unified American Church and rejected any path to unity that would mean “we surrender the freedom we have embraced as American Orthodox Christians to a patriarchate still under Islamic domination.” The video here records his sermon on April 5 at Pan-Orthodox vespers at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas.

Although he did not mention him by name, the Metropolitan was responding to a speech given March 16 at Holy Cross School of Theology by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, chief secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In the speech, Fr. Lambriniadis was critical of calls for unity by both the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese and OCA and asserted that “submission to the First Throne of the Church, that is, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate” is the proper mode of unity for American Orthodox Christians.

To such a suggestion, Metropolitan Jonah said: “I would submit that, if we wanted a pope, we would be under the real one.”


He asserted that a Church dedicated to the conciliar process does not ignore the voice of the laity or the priests. The metropolitan spoke of Old World hierarchs “who are ignorant of our saints and who refuse to recognize the sacrifice of so many of those who have come before us in Christ to establish the Gospel here.”

During his sermon, Metropolitan Jonah repeatedly cited the sacrifices that Orthodox Christians have made for more than 200 years to bring the Gospel “in its wholeness” to North America. But this sacrifice, he says, is devalued by Old World hierarchs who believe that they are the only criterion of Orthodoxy.

“We can’t allow our Church to be controlled by people who have no appreciation of our culture and have to bow to the Turkish Islamic authorities,” the metropolitan said.

He concluded with an affirmation that the Church of the Apostles exists in America, in the Orthodox Church “now here in our midst. It was planted by our fathers in the faith generations ago on this continent and it has grown and borne fruit. And it subsists out of our common, sacrificial commitment to Jesus Christ. So let us give thanks to God for our unity. Let us give thanks to God for our diversity. And let us affirm to our bishops that they might tell the churches of the Old World that there is an American Orthodox Church. Leave it alone!”


  1. Chris Banescu says

    AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! Metropolitan Jonah is right. May God bless him for having the courage and conviction to speak the truth and bear witness to the true Orthodox spirit of our Church and the timeless Traditions of our faith. We are indeed part of the Orthodox Church in AMERICA. I am an Orthodox Christian who was born in Romania and was rescued by this blessed land. But I am now an American Orthodox Christian! My family is an American Orthodox Christian family!

    My ethnic heritage is nice, but my Orthodox Christian heritage is 100 times more important and relevant. The fact that the EP and the GOA still do not get this, speaks volumes of their lack of understanding of the real Orthodox ethos and the Christian Hellenism that permeates Orthodoxy (not ethnic Greekness).

  2. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Fr. Elpidophoros’ claim that the office and person of the Ecumenical Patriarch is the living embodiment of Orthodoxy because of historical proximity to the birth of Hellenism is specious. The implicit argument that an American Church should become like the Church of Greece, and that it should serve the political interests of the Greek state as the GOA increasingly does, reveals that Constantinople has no real understanding of the American character. Met. Jonah’s response is appropriate, necessary, and on target.

  3. Al Green says

    Can we now assume that Orthodox unity in America is now dead?

  4. Michael Bauman says

    Mr. Green, I think we can assume that Orthodox Unity is starting to come alive. Kinda reminds me of the Monroe Doctrine.

    There is no dobut the Greeks will come on board last, but I repeat an earlier question: What will the GOA do when the Turks succeed in strangling the life out of the EP?

    Right now, unless I am mistaken, there is no bishop younger than Patriarch Bartholomew who will be allowed to be the next Patriarch. The EP is required by Turkish law to be a Turkish citizen, but they won’t allow any Turkish citizens to serve on the Synod. When Pat. Bartholomew reposes, the Patriarchal Holy Synod will either have to defy Turkish law or move leaving all of the property incluing many holy relics behind.

    If we have a unified Orthodox Church in America. We’d be in a much better position to help.

    No Mr. Green, unity is not dead. Not at all.

  5. Eliot Ryan says

    All those committed to living the Truth, committed to Jesus Christ and the Gospel are united! Those committed to the fullness of the Orthodox Church as it was given to us by the Apostles and the Holy Fathers are united.

    Disunity will occur when some of the archdioceses choose to submit to Old-World Patriarchates or to the EP. The former seems to be committed to the resurrection of unity with Rome.

    May God protect and lead Met Jonah to discerning what is His will for the Church!

  6. After weeks of watching the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the GOA belittle the Church with numerous acts of buffoonery and arrogance, Metropolitan Jonah shows us what being a shepherd in America looks like. He deserves nothing but our gratitude and support for defending American Orthodoxy.

    It is Metropolitan Jonah who is quickly becoming America’s Bishop!

    In other news, today the headline from various news outlets is “Ecumenical Patriarch Congratulates Obama on North Carolina”. When does the buffoonery cease? Does His All Holiness have a bracket? Have they been running a NCAA pool at the Phanar during Lent?

    First we had the comparison to Alexander the Great now we have the spectacle of the Ecumenical Patriarch talking about basketball brackets in a hotel with the president of the USA.

    This is insanity and humiliating.

  7. steve tolbert says

    I am so glad we finally have an American bishop that truly would like to see a “United Orthodox Church of North America” not 50 years from now but 5 months from now.

    Met. Jonah is truly an American Bishop that can follow canon law.

  8. Scott Pennington says

    He’s a so-so speaker, rambles a bit. And he should stay out of politics unless there’s clearly an Orthodox position. The comment about “communists who now call themselves democrats” was uncalled for. Communism is a politico-economic system. If he was referring to the Kremlin, they are more autocratic/less democratic than the U.S. but that has nothing to do with Christianity and they are certainly not Marxists. But, like many Americans, he probably adheres to the equation autocratic = communist, even though that is irrational. It would be good if the Metropolitan would refrain from political imperialism, implying that all nations should embrace American style democracy when it really doesn’t work well at all even here.

    Nonetheless, it’s good that he took on the Phanar. I don’t think anything he said though should raise any expectations about the other jurisdictions joining with the OCA.

  9. Chris Banescu says

    Scott, This comment from you is very puzzling: “implying that all nations should embrace American style democracy when it really doesn’t work well at all even here.” Just what exactly do you propose as a better alternative? Of course democracy is not perfect, because we’re dealing with human beings who are not perfect and constantly fall short of God’s laws and Christ’s teachings. Tell us something we don’t know.

    However, you imply that a better alternative exists, and that’s simply false. History is strewn with humanistic and atheistic social experiments that have lead to tens of millions of innocents enslaved, tortured, and slaughtered, because the intellectual elites despised freedom and proposed instead “solutions” that were orders of magnitude worse than the inherent imperfections of democracies.

  10. Scott,

    I agree with Chris. And it appears you have focused on the political implications of Met. Jonah’s speech instead of His Beatitude’s focus on the necessity of a unified Orthodox Church in North America.

    By your comments I would venture to say you are at least sympathetic to Marxism, an ideology based on envy and just as materialistic as capitalism. One cannot be a Christian, let alone an Orthodox Christian, and a Marxist at the same time. While capitalism and democracy can work within the framework of Christianity, albeit not perfectly, Marxism is atheistic.

  11. Scott Pennington says


    Fr. Jacobse and I have had this discussion at length under a different article; however, briefly, I think that our system of government is inherently self destructive because it does not have any moral anchor tied to Christianity. It leaves the highest good to the will of the people, either indirectly by constitutional propositions that require a supermajority, or by majority rule. As a culture deteriorates, this becomes nothing more than the aggregate of human passions – – devoid of wisdom and inclining to evil.

    We all know about the almost 50 million unborn babies killed since 1973. This is not an “imperfection”. What has crept up on us more slowly is the destruction of family life which resulted from our legal and cultural abandonment of the patriarchy as the foundation of family life. This leads to high divorce rates, single parent families, unwed mothers, etc. It exacerbates the crime and drug problems. There is not a word establishing Christian morality in our constitution.

    So when you write: “History is strewn with humanistic and atheistic social experiments that have lead to tens of millions of innocents enslaved, tortured, and slaughtered . . .” you can count the United States as one more such failed experiment. True, on the surface at least, our failure is not as bad as some others. Nonetheless, when we criticise other cultures who do not share our idolatry of democracy, we should not ignore our own sorry predicament.

    ” . . . you imply that a better alternative exists”

    No, maybe there is a better alternative, maybe there’s not. Humanity will never know unless it continues to innovate. But given the fact that Orthodoxy flourished under the Byzantine and Russian Empires, it seems quite “puzzling” to me that an Orthodox hierarch would go out of his way to criticise those who, though they may not be democratic to his standards, are far less autocratic than either of these inarguably Orthodox empires.

    I didn’t hesitate to take Archbishop Demetrios to task for mixing his own personal politics with religion in his embarrasing adulation of Obama. Christianity does not endorse democracy, autocracy, monarchy, etc. Nor does it counsel against any of them. Communism is a different matter since it is aggressively atheistic. Perhaps Metropolitan Jonah doesn’t know the difference, but I think he does and he was making a point about some ex-Communists who are now leaders and not behaving in a democratic fashion. So what? Democracy is not a Christian value.

  12. Scott Pennington says


    “By your comments I would venture to say you are at least sympathetic to Marxism . . .”

    I don’t know how in the world you could possibly have gotten that idea from what I wrote. What I was saying, boiled down, is that Metropolitan Jonah was slandering leaders who are ex-Communists. His point was that they were still acting like Communists but calling themselves democrats. My point is that that assertion is demonstrably false since they are comfortable with capitalism and friendly with the Church. Some of them also profess the Orthodox faith. What he doesn’t like, and what he confuses with Communism, is the fact that they do not subscribe to Western style democracy. It would be more honest just to say that.

    But so what. Historically, Orthodox societies have not been know for their democratic tendencies.

    It was just one brief but pointed comment he made in an otherwise fairly well done talk.

  13. Demetrius says

    Hey Guys,

    First I think His Beatitude’s sermon was right on.

    And again I encourage you guys to join to further discuss some of the more off-topic subject matter that comes up here.

  14. Fr. David Hudson says

    I think we may have missed the point His Beatitude was trying to make, which in any case was an off-hand remark, and not slander.

    I believe it is typical for the former communist states to be ruled by people who formerly professed to be communists and now profess to be something else politically, but are still guided by the same unscrupulous power and asset grabbing that were characteristic of the former states. Many of us with connections to those countries are quite justifiably cynical about the political renovation of the same elites who formerly called themselves communist.

    But this whole conversation is certainly a side-track to the issue His Beatitude was addressing. Here are his words in context, from the transcription of the address: “It is imperative for us to come together. It is not imperative for all the other churches – the Antiochians and the Serbians and the Bulgarians and the Romanians and everyone – to join the OCA; but to come together in a new organization of Orthodoxy in North American that brings us all together as one Church, even just pulling together all our existing organizations so that all the bishops sit on one Synod, so that all the Metropolitans get together on a special Synod or something like that…so we can continue our relationship with the Mother Churches, a relationship of love and support. Firm in our own identity as Orthodox Christians and making our witness to protect them from whatever evils confront them, whether it be an aggressive Islam, or whether it be Communists who now call themselves democrats (I’m not talking about Washington by the way, not at all.)”

    I don’t believe the Metropolitan is at all addressing the issue as to whether communist imperialism or capitalist imperialism is more Christian.

  15. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    I’m not so sure Met. Jonah was mentioning Russia at all. My take is that the comment referred more to the direction America is taking. But, as Fr. David said, it is a side issue and ought not to detract us from the main points.

  16. Al Green says
    1. With regard to Michael Bauman’s comment that unity in America is not dead…
    2. The E.P. has at least three jurisdictions in the U.S. (Greeks, Carpatho-Russians, Ukrainians), the Moscow Patriarchate has more than a dozen parishes, the Jerusalem Patriarchate has several parishes and two monasteries, the Romainians in the OCA want out to rejoin the Romainian Patriarchate, the Church of Antioch has effectively killed the Antiochian Archdiocese’s “self-rule”, the Church of Serbia has parishes in the U.S., too…etc…etc. How the heck is unity going to be achieved?
    3. Pardon my skepticism, but we need more than a miracle to rid America of foreign hierarchs.

  17. Michael Bauman says

    The question is are we One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church or not? Are we the Body of Christ or a conglomeration of human created miscreant organizations as the Protestants would have us be?

    If we are The Church, the Pillar and Ground of the Truth, we will be one.

    The Church may wither to the appearence of a mere stump, but she will still be there. What is of God will endure, what is of man will pass away. Period. We have the choice to join the fun or turn away.

    Right now a lot of people are frightened because change is occuring. Even if we don’t consciously acknowledge it, change is occuring.

    The fact of the matter the urgent theme being sounded by all of the leading bishops is “Come together”. That is the call, we have to decide around whom we gather. If we heed the call and work together in the Holy Spirit the answer will be clear.

    With men such things are impossible, but with God all things are possible. It could happen far more quickly than any of us suspect or be a long drawn out attrition. The choice is ours.

  18. Al Green says

    ***Michael, you remind me of a comedy routine I saw many years ago about a faith healer who placed his hand upon the head of a person with a twisted right hand and prayed: “Lord, make his hand like the other one.” And the person’s good hand slowly twisted out of shape. To this, the faith healer implored the person to have a little more faith, put some money in the poor box on the way out the door and come back next week!

    ***Yes, we are One Church. Though jurisdictionally divided, we all share the same theology, the same dogma, the same corporate prayers, etc. So, I’ll change direction and say that since we are all One Church…all Orthodox through and through…why worry about where the bishops are? Let’s just stay as we are, united in faith, divided by hierarchal design, and work on our salvation as individuals.

  19. George Michalopulos says


    my fear is that because of our divisions, we will lose what little commanility we have regards doctrine, etc. Eventually, Eucharistic unity will be lost as well. That is because 1) we don’t love each other, and 2) our refusal to unite is heretical in that it shows that we do not really believe in the Incarnatial theology of the Church.

  20. Michael Bauman says

    Al, I’ll agree with you I’m a hoot, I’m a fat old crumudgeon with more opinions than sense, but unlike Protestantism, my salvation is tied up with your’s and your’s with mine unfortunately for you.

    Salvation is not just Jesus and me or even the Church and me, it is about the strength and vitality of the common union (the communion) we share with one another and the witness we give to the world. The health of the Body of Christ. I need to know if I’m in it or not. The Fathers tell us to follow the bishops as long as they are not teaching heresy. OK, but when we are also being told that the un-canonical situation in the western world verges on heresy, when the simple moral witness from many hierarchs is either non-existent or actually opposed to Orthodox Christian belief, what’s a fellow to do?

    Even if I were to practice the neo-Christian reductionism that all that matters is my salvation, I’d want to be sure I’m not following a bishop who has fallen into heresy and that my money is being used with propriety and that basic morality is taught. Oblivion is not salvation. Obedience is not going along with the crowd and following orders. That’s tryanny.

    So I stumble on giving high amusement to many trying to work out my salvation in fear and trembling as the dread judgement seat of Christ approaches with ever increasing speed.

    Have a glorious Pascha.

  21. To George:

    I’m unable to see how failing to unite in America will change one word of Orthodox theology, spirituaqlity, and dogma. If more than 2,000 years didn’t do it (worldwide), it really won’t happen in North America. Let’s give the Lord a little more credit. I live in an area with seven Orthodox churches in a 15-mile radius (two OCA, two GOA, one Ukrainian, and two Carpatho-Russian Greek Catholic, and intercommunion is not all that uncommon. (Unfortunately, the lone ROCOR parish in the area still goes it alone.)


  22. To Michael:

    Most of us have little contact with our bishops except when they make their annual visit and splash wax all over the rug from the ungodly long candles. My advice is to have a good “working” relationship with your priest and work on your own salvation. God will reward to good bishops and priests, and line the road to ghenna with the skulls of the baddies.

    And I agree with you that the “end times” seem to be rushing at us with ever increasing speed. Maybe we can slow it down by impeaching the turkey that got elected to socialize and nationalize us from the White House.

    But I digress. Blessing for a rich and rewarding Pascha.


  23. George Michalopulos says


    Read the canons: we are supposed to be united in one nation, not in a one-world government. “Let the ecclesial model follow the municipal [read: political] model.” I.e. one city, one bishop; one nation one metropolitan. It’s an ancient canon.

  24. Michael Bauman says

    Al, that is exactly the problem, to many Orthodox the bishops are irrelevant. That is not the way it should be. That way leads to a kind of congregationalism. It is not the way it is with me. I attend a Cathedral parish and I have very personal interaction with my bishop and my parish priests as well since my bishop has 49 other parishes to shepard. The sacramental authority of the bishop is absolutely essential. They teaching of the bishop is essential. When they disagree, as they are now doing, the Church is not unified as George points out.

    We need more bishops more and more. We need the bishops to get together and seek the word of truth. Mostly they refuse to do so. The only continues to promote disunity and disharmony.

  25. Michael Bauman says

    Al, by rights, you guys should have your own bishop sheparding the 8 parishes, not 6 (or 7 depending on the variety of OCA parishes) somewhere likely far away. The Church will not change, but the ability to effectively evangelize the American people and baptize them will be and is being harmed. Our ability and willingness to hold up the light of truth in the nihlistic darkness is dimmed.

  26. George Michalopulos says

    If there was one sad, depresseing example of what abandoning the Gospel in favor of currying favor w/ political elites and/or promoting a nationalism, it is what happened when the president met with the patriarch in Isanbul.

    Rather than being greeted the patriarch’s home as a quasi-pilgrim (which is how he would be greeted in Rome, Moscow, Athens, London, etc. if he met with hierarchs of these respective churches, he’s been reduced to supplicating at Obama’s hotel as if he were room service.

    I guess this means that the additional abasement of Arb Demetrius at the White House was rendered meaningless. To all ethnocentrists out there, the Lord is not mocked, neither are ordinary people. These spectacles covers all Orthodox in shame and they profit us nothing. No converts or going to come into our Faith, the Pearl of Great Price as long as certain ethnocentrist bishops act as they do. Nor are those already in the Church going to be edified. Their robes may be gleaming, but they are as “whited sepulchres.”

  27. Michael Bauman says

    If the people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14

    Whether our situation is heretical, uncanonical or just plain stupid, it is sinful. A common sin in which we all share. We are suffering and so is this nation because of that sin.

  28. George Michalopulos says


    I wish it would be enough to impeach the neo-Leninist in the White House, however the rot is much deeper. Look at that buffoon Biden and the Mme DeFarge known as Pelosi.

    I fervently believe that in Metropolitan +Jonah’s assent, the Lord is providing us a new dispensation for a united Chrsitian witness which we will need in the coming anti-Christian tribulation. Just as it was surprising that the patrarchate of Moscow could rise from the ashes of the old, Christian imperium and safeguard the Church in that suffering country, so too it is possible that the Lord is allowing us this mercy in order to prepare us for what is coming.

    I see signs of this all around. I recently spent time in an Athonite monastery and I must tell you, I heard nothing but positive things about +Jonah. Unless we reclaim the Gospel, (and to be honest, it only seems like +Jonah and the OCA are sincere about it), then Christianity will wither in America, as it did in North Africa, and as it is doing in Western Europe.

  29. To Geoirge:

    I’m very aware of the canons. But why should we fret about it. The hierarchs will someday (we hope) figure it out for themselves. Frankly, as a layman, I’m not qualified to “interpret the canons which are NOT hard, fast rules, but guidelines. Consider:

    “Taken by themselves, the canon laws of the Church can be misleading and frustrating, and therefore superficial. People will say ‘either enforce them all or discard them completely.’ But taken as a whole within the wholeness of Orthodox life — theological, historical, canonical, and spiritual — these canons do assume their proper place and purpose and show themselves to be a rich source for discovering the living Truth of God in the Church. In viewing the canons of the Church, the key factors are Christian knowledge and wisdom which are borne from technical study and spiritual depth. There is no other ‘key’ to their usage; and any other way would be according to the Orthodox faith both unorthodox and unchristian.” -— From An Explanation of Canon Law – Orthodox Church in America

  30. Folks,

    George and Michael post much too much for me to respond to. But let me note that since I’ve been Orthodox (mid-’70s), I’ve been confronted by Orthodox Christians that consider themselves so “perfect” that they castigate and shun anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Fr. Hans Jacobse remembers me as that kind of person many years ago on the Orthodox Forum. Now, at 67, with arterial disease and spinal problems, I’ve given up trying to be Mr. Holier-Than-Thou Correct Orthodox Joe Blow, and instead just concentrate on getting myself close to Him in the next life (since the good, bad and ugly will all be in His presence “up there.”). The Body of Christ has survived more than 2,000 years of strife and dispute, and undoubtedly will survive the American “problem,” too. I’m just not going to worry about it very much. It really isn’t my problem to fix.

    My background is the Methodist Church and the pre-femiNazi Episcopal Church. I can say with some degree of knowledge that it is far more complicated to be Orthodox than the churches in my previous lives. Please do not be offended, but I’ll let George and Michael worry about lack of American unity for me.


    Orthodox Church and Bible Study Links

  31. Scott Pennington says

    “I don’t believe the Metropolitan is at all addressing the issue as to whether communist imperialism or capitalist imperialism is more Christian.”

    Perhaps, but he should refrain from criticising, on Christian grounds, capitalist “imperialism” which is certainly no more unchristian than the actions of the Russian or Byzantine empires.

    “I’m not so sure Met. Jonah was mentioning Russia at all. My take is that the comment referred more to the direction America is taking. But, as Fr. David said, it is a side issue and ought not to detract us from the main points.”

    No, Fr. Jacobse, listen to that part of the speech again. He specifically states that he was not talking about the democrats in Washington.

    I think it is good that Met. Jonah spoke up against the EP’s power grab. But he rambled and repeated himself and proposed some type of synod (like SCOBA but not like SCOBA) which would be an improvement on what?

    Apart from rebuffing the EP, he really didn’t say much of substance.

  32. Michael Bauman says

    Al, sorry to rush upon you. Just a comment on Orthodoxy being more ‘complicated’. I think it seems that way because we are actually required to confront sin and we are actually connected to each other forward and backward in time. The Church even reaches into the invisible.

    My brother is an Orthodox priest. For many years he was part of a really uncannonical super-Orthodox sect. Outwardly it looked like an Orthodox Church, but was not. By the grace of God, he and his fellows made the journey to the Canonnical Church. He made the comment to me one time that celebrating the Divine Liturgy after becoming cannonical was a lot more work. Made sense to me, because he had finally joined the real sacrament and wasn’t just play acting.

    Being Orthodox is a lot more work. It is work we’ve largely ignored here in the United States as we’ve gone through our play acting. Now, we are faced with the choice to join the work more fully and more consciously or not. If we choose to join, the Holy Spirit will guide us where He needs us. You may very well be doing the right thing already, just expand your prayers to include all of the Orthdox bishops of this land realizing that without them, we don’t really have the Church (the bishops’s work is certainly only possible by God’s grace).

    Everyone of the bishops is calling us to unity, they just have different ideas of how to achieve that unity. We cannot afford to ignore the call. It will be rough and a lot of apple carts will be upset (and already are being upset), but as we respond great spiritual fruit will be produced.

  33. Michael,

    I’d like to see a survey of every Orthodox Christian in canonical jurisdictions to determine whether the average Joe in the pew (yes, most E.O. churches have them) really cares whether he’s administratively connected with the Greeks, or Ukeys, or Carpys. My gut feeling is that they are not all that concerned if, in fact, they’ve thought about it at all. With all the stuff going on to command our attention and concern…runaway bailout-itis, multi-trillion dollar deficits, the U.S. calling terrorism a “concern,” inflation, Nazi Pelosi, unemployment, taxes about to go through the roof, Islamic nut jobs, pirates at sea, socialism, combating the global warming myth, inflation, potential food shortages, Irainian nukes, Kim Il Jong, etc., ad nauseaum…concern about who is under what bishop is probably at the bottom of the list.

    Prayer is good!


  34. George Michalopulos says


    you are correct to concentrate on the next life. We all should (keep your mind in hell and despair not). Jurisdictional disunity however is an affront to the Gospel (Jesus commanded unity as a sign of love).


    I love your brother’s insights. Orthodoxy IS harder because it deals with salvation. Either we believe what we say or we don’t.


    At base, I don’t see any difference between schism and disunity. Remember what Chrysostom said: “Even martyrdom does not erase the sin of schism.”

    I’m signing off until Bright Tuesday. Pray for me and my many sins.

  35. George,

    Keep my mind in Hell? I thought Christ conquered and destroyed hell, freeing Adam and the rest of those “down there.” (I’ve got this Resurrection icon in my mind.)

    I believe the correct theology is that heaven and hell do not exist as physical places…yet…and that in the afterlife all of us will be in God’s presence (“…everywhere present and fillest all things”). See this rather lengthy article on my web site:

    Heaven and Hell in the Afterlife According to the Bible:


  36. Michael Bauman says

    “Keep your mind in hell and despair not” are the words that Jesus Christ spoke to St. Silouan the Athonite.

    What was destroyed was Hades. Hell is still an option for those who reject the love of Christ.

    St. Siloaun would probably most heartily agree with you that prayer is preferable. We all need prayers, but do not forget that others may be called to be more active.

    Please pray for me.

  37. Not according to my mentor when a catechumen…an archpriest of the Patriarchal Russian Orthodox church (Patriarch Pimen). Read the article at the link I posted in Orthodox eschatology, heaven and hell do not exist at this time…and in the afterlife, we will ALL (good and bad) be in His presence in some noetic way.


  38. Bauman write:

    The EP is required by Turkish law to be a Turkish citizen, but they won’t allow any Turkish citizens to serve on the Synod.

    To which I reply: there is another solution to this obvious violation of religious freedom in Turkey. Turkey still wants to join the EU. But the EU cannot tolerate such an abuse of religious freedom in an EU candidate, much less an EU state. So the EU must push on Turkey to repeal this intolerable law.

    That would be good for Turkey, good for the EU, good for the whole GOA.

  39. Bauman writes:

    What was destroyed was Hades. Hell is still an option for those who reject the love of Christ.

    To which I reply: what did you THINK the word ‘Hades’ meant? It is used throughout the Old Testament to translate either Hebrew word for ‘hell’. The only otherword for hell in the Greek Bible, TARTAROS, specifically refers to a place of eternal punishment for the giants in Genesis and Enoch.

    We must remember that the St. Silouan citation you quote, “keep your mind in hell and despair not”, refers to the vision that NEVER left him from the moment that St. John of Kronstadt started to pray for him: he saw the flames of hell all around him; this was a GIFT to focus his mind on repentance, just as St. John of the Ladder describes the remembrance of eternal punishments.

  40. I believe these church father quotes about “hell” as if it were a physical place apart from God are, at best, metaphorical. “Hades” and “hell” are interchangeable words.

    Let us not forget the Kontakion of Paschal Song 6: “Though Thou did descend into the grave, O Immortal One, yet did Thou destroy the power of hell, and did rise again as a conqueror, O Christ our Lord, saying to the myrrh-bearing women, rejoice! And giving peace to Thine Apostles, and offering Resurrection to the fallen.”

    Nor this refrain from Paschal Song 7: “We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of hell, the beginning of eternal life. And leaping for joy, we celebrate the Cause, the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.”

    And this refrain from Paschal song 9: “Today all creation is glad and rejoices, for Christ has risen and hell has been conquered.” And: “Today the Master conquered hell and raised the prisoners from all the ages which it had held in bitter bondage.”

    Here is a picture of an icon I have entitled The harrowing of Hell…i.e., The Conquering of Hell:

    If we did not believe that Christ conquered hell and destroyed it, I would be loath to sing there refrains this weekend!

    I firmly believe the theologian-endorsed article on my web site that “heaven” and “hell” do not at this time exists, but that we will ALL be noetically in God’s presence in the afterlife…and those who are unrepentant sinners will weep and gnash their teeth knowing that God is constantly seeing them and their sins.


  41. I’m not sure how far I want to wade into this issue. While hell has been conquered – at least for those who are joined to Christ – I do take very seriously Christ’s references to it (or something like it) in the various scriptures about the last judgment. Yet, reading some of the Fathers, I recognize that my former concepts may well have been ill-founded. Probably the best expression of what I have found most convincing so far is the article titled “River of Fire.” (Sections XIII and on are most pertinent to this conversation.) Though the article is a bit contentious for my taste, I found it very helpful and compelling when I first read it years ago. I have grown more firmly in agreement with its view since, but – in the end – I accept that this issue is way beyond my pay-grade and gladly defer to God’s wisdom and love.

  42. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Hades was the place where the righteous waited, Sheol was the place where the unrighteous waited. When Christ entered the place of waiting after his crucifixion (where He preached to those “in prison’), Hades and Sheol took on their eternal dimensions: heaven and hell.

    The temporal boundaries were shattered when the gates to the Kingdom were opened through the putting to death of death by Christ’s death and resurrection.

  43. Fr. Hans,

    This is an interesting theory, one that I had never heard of before. It seems to fly in the face of the messages conveyed in the Paschal refrains. It is, indeed, unfortunate that Orthodoxy never dogmatized this. I, for one, am sticking with the theologian-endorsed article on my web site.



  44. Chrys,

    I’d be very, very cautious with the River of Fire stuff. Its theories have many supporters, but many more detractors. The jury is still out and deliberations are lagging.


  45. Eliot Ryan says

    Al Green:

    The hell is real and physical. The last thing we want is to spread heresies through this site. Before the Coming of Christ even the righteous were going to hell. Now we have a choice.

    Not even David was saved before the Coming of Christ. Even the Patriarch Jacob anticipated going to Hades (Sheol) after his death together with his righteous son Joseph: “I shall go mourning down to my son in Hades” (Gen. 37.35). For “all these [Old Testament righteous], though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us [the New Testament Christians], that apart from us [outside the New Testament Church] they should not be made perfect” (Heb. 11.39-40).


  46. Vladimir,

    What you have described is Roman Catholic dogma which I consider heretical. I’m not buying it.

    Keep in mind Paschal Song 7: “We celebrate the death of death, the destruction of hell, the beginning of eternal life. And leaping for joy, we celebrate the Cause, the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.”


    PS: I do like reading your articles that you frequently post and often pass them on to others to read. Blessings for Pascha.

  47. Al,Thanks for the caution about the River of Fire article. For me it falls into the area of conjecture – hence my hesitation to enter the conversation. Whether hell is the place of absence that God provides in His compassion to those who do can not abide His Presence – or a participation in the same Presence that is light to the saints and fire to those whose hearts remain shut to Christ – or a place of punishment – or anything else, I do not know. As I said, it is WAY above my pay-grade and it is not something that, so far as I know, the Church has addressed specifically (apart from rejecting a couple of heretical notions). What I do know is that Christ made it a point to describe something that is horrific beyond imagination as a warning to us. Whatever then is meant by hell – or by heaven – all I know is that we have been given the incredible blessing of being called and enabled to enter into an all-consuming and everlasting relationship of love with Him Who is Love. If I can in some way enter into communion with God and man in the manner God wants, I am happy to leave the consequences – whatever they may be – to Him. Kali Anastasi!

  48. Michael Bauman says

    Al & Chrys: In the past, the Church had little need to articulate the nature of hell. Then the heretical Protestant formulation of a wrathful God appeared. It is a formulation that is quite common among Americans even those who are not particularly relgious. There are many others who reject Christianity altoghter because of the false ideas of God and hell.

    The River of Fire is an attempt to address that issue. I have read and studied it quite a bit. Many priests whom I respect have commented on it favorably as being in line with Tradition.

    I have my own questions on it which need to be answered. The main one is that it seems to de-emphasize the judgement. However, it is clear to me that we need to be more specific on these matters as a response to the false idea of a wrathful God.

  49. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Note 47. Al, where do I find Paschal Hymn 7? I want to look at it in Greek. My hunch is that what is translated “hell” in English might be “Hades” in Greek.

  50. Fr. Hans,

    The entire Paschal Canon is found here on Fr. Alexander’s web site:

    Hades and hell are synonyms and used interchangeably. Two words that can be interchanged in a context are said to be synonymous relative to that context.


  51. Eliot,

    Hell as a place NOT apart from God is not out of line with the concept of an afterlife comprising a noetic experience of the soul. That an unrepentant person is experiencing hell (possibly relative to the severity of his/her unrepentent sins) in the presence of God would make that hellish experience all the more…well…hellish.

    Do we not pray daily asnd more than once that God is everywhere present and fills all things?


  52. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Note 50. Unfortunately my book only has the first line from each ode. I don’t have the rest in Greek.

  53. Note 48 – Michael, you are spot on. It was the correction to the pervasive notion of a vengeful God that I found compelling in the article. The image of a wrathful Father so prevalent in the West is of a piece with a particular reading of St. Anselm’s theory of atonement – and immortalized in Jonathan Edwards famous sermon. It is an image that is very difficult to square with any notion of God as love – or as a Father. (It also appears to have fostered some pretty deformative tendencies among those who embraced it, but that is a whole different issue. Of course, the sick fruit is just one of the things that makes a heresy so dangerous.) I found St. Isaac of Nineveh’s critique of such perspectives convincing – even if I can not follow him to the point of some kind of eventual apokatastasis. (Bishop Hilarion, however, seems to indicate that a more nuanced view is warranted.) Regardless, I agree with your reservation about the River of Fire’s notion of judgment. It clearly plays a central role in Scripture and I am not sure that the article gives it its due. (See, for example, Matthew 24:31-46.)
    Either way, though, judgment is always a component of any encounter with God. At the very least, being in the direct presence of the Absolute Holiness and Pure Light of God would mean complete exposure of our corruption, pettiness and sinfulness. Only Absolute Love could make such a moment bearable.

  54. Metropolitan Jonah issued a statement today (h/t to Father Gregory who posted it on his website, Koinonia.)
    Hopefully all of our leaders will show this same level of humility, repentance and care as we address the challenges facing the Church in America.

    Posted 04/17

    SYOSSET, NY [OCA Communications] — On Great, Holy and Good Friday, April 17, 2009, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, issued the following statement in response to recent commentary on his April 5, 2009 sermon, delivered at Saint Seraphim Cathedral, Dallas, TX.

    “I greet you in a spirit of repentance and forgiveness as we celebrate the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Certain comments that were made in the course of my sermon have provoked a reaction from my Orthodox brothers that I did not intend or foresee. I regret making those comments. In particular, I realize that some characterizations regarding the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Patriarchate of Constantinople were insensitive. As the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, I am motivated only by the desire to underscore our fervent hope that future discussion about the so-called Orthodox Diaspora will include the Orthodox Church in America and other Orthodox jurisdictions in North America. It is also my purpose to affirm our Church in the face of those who would question our presence as a local Orthodox Church in North America.

    “It is now clear that I made statements that were uncharitable. I do apologize to His All-Holiness as well as to others who were offended. I also hope that through personal contact and acquaintance we might be able to overcome any misunderstandings that might arise or have clouded the relationship between our Churches in the past. My hope is that we might cooperate in an attitude of mutual support in our common mission, to spread the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the spirit of this Great and Holy Friday, I sincerely pray that as we contemplate Our Lord, Who ascended the Cross to “bring all men to Himself,” we will see in His patience and long-suffering the way to continue our work together for the witness and mission of Orthodoxy in the world and for Orthodox unity in North America.”

  55. Note 54 —

    Apologies are always appropriate. However, you would think that the OCA’s head honcho would run his speech by a couple of people first! Gee Whiz! (He sould have sent it to Bill O’Reilly!!) 😉


  56. Michael Bauman says

    Al, he should not run his speech by anyone. Is open apology speaks more to his Christianity and his character than any amount of spin and control would. When will I see the EP apologize for the insensitive and offensive remoarks of the Archmandrite? Those remarks far exceeded anything said by Met. Jonah.

    Or from Met. Philip for the offense given by the demotion of our diocesan bishops?

  57. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    Timely apology from His Beatitude Jonah. Praise the Good and loving Lord for His Beatitude’s increase in wisdom and appreciation for his stature and the proper perspective.

  58. George Michalopulos says

    Apologies are a sign of humility. In this sense, Jonah “won” because he recognizes the frailty of all me. Unfortunately, we will wait many moons before we get any apology from the archimandrite, therefore what Jonah did was “heap coals onto his lips.”

    BTW, you will notice that Jonah carefully protected the interests of the OCA in his apology. As well he should.

  59. No 56: Good points.

    No. 57: Are you a communicant of the OCA? I have no qualms with your sentiments. Too bad his predecessor and some of the criminal element and sexually challenged underlings were so humble.

    No. 58 (second graf): So much for unity in America.

    No. 57 & 58: I sometimes think we attribute too much holiness to our hierarchs. Besides the usual theological issues they all must deal with, far too many are caught up in the politics of jurisdictional protectionism, CYAing (as in the recent OCA past), and protecting one’s “job.” But, I guess that’s the cost of becoming top dog.

    Blessings to all for a Most Holy Saturday and Glorious Resurrection Sunday.


  60. George Michalopulos says


    unity is not going to happen in the US. I’ve never been under illusions to the contrary. The best that can happen is the more evangelistic jurisdictions coming together under one American omorphorion while those that view their jobs as curators of long-dead empires will go along their merry way. Of course with endowments they can keep the doors open but therein lies grave peril as it encourages the members to give less. Anyway, either Orthodoxy will grow or it will wither in America. I just don’t see thousands of converts lining up to join a museum exhibition.

  61. Tom Kanelos says

    Met. Jonah clearly realises he made a mistake and said things which were hurtful and innacurate. One could say that he should have sought input prior to the speech (though I am not sure from whom), but I think that is in the past and is irrelevant as the request for forgiveness erases the error. I too pray that the Hierarchs will move forward in a spirit of cooperation as we continue to work out our current regrettable situation in the US.

    My hope for unity is increased this day by the statement made by Met. Jonah. He has set an example we should follow.

    Many years to Met. Jonah and a Good Resurection to us all!

  62. Michael Bauman says

    Christ is Risen!

    Just for the record at my parish tonight there were Anglos, Arabs, Greeks, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Romanians, Afro-Americans, Asians, French and probably a few I didn’t catch. About all we were missing was some Aluets or other Native Armericans.

  63. Eliot Ryan says

    Christ is Risen!

    Το Άγιο Φως στα Ιεροσόλυμα – Τhe Holy Light in Jerusalem

    Every time heterodox have tried to obtain the Holy Fire they have failed.


    The Holy Light symbolizes and reminds us in a miraculous way the Resurrection of Christ. It is a Godsend miracle through centuries from the light of the world, and this light is Christ for the world. Science cannot explain this great miracle and this time in its honor science never tried to explain it not even theoretically. Besides how can anyone explain a genuine miracle?

    Indeed He is Risen!

  64. Michael,

    What, no Irish in your parish? The Gaelic (phonetically):

    Christ is Risen!
    Taw Creest Ereen!

    Indeed Hd is Risen!
    Taw Shay Ereen Guhdyne!

    All double e’s are pronounced long.

    BTW, I am caucasion and I was born in America, so that makes me a Native American.

    I wonder if an Egyptian living in the U.S. would appreciate being called an Afro-American?


  65. Michael Bauman says

    Well, we do have one red-headed gentleman who has a passable brogue when he wants to and knows more than a bit about St. Patrick, but he is really an American of Irish descent. I forgot to mention rich and poor, young and old, male and female.

    And yes, my descent in the politically correct labeling is less than accurate although Afro-American is not quite the same as African-American. Even the tribal cultures the Europeans found when we arrived are eariler immigrants who cannot properly be described as aboriginal and Indians is too easy to confuse with those from the sub-continent of India. None of which is my point.

    Here is an Orthodox parish in the middle of the country gathered around her bishop to celebrate the Risen Christ. It should be the norm in any metropolitan area in this country. Only the refusal to allow we Americans to elect our own bishops and have our own synod prevents it from being so.

  66. Michadel,

    I missed your use of “Afro” instead of “African”. It went right over my head and I saw the common terminology. Frankly, I’ve never run across “Afro-American” before.

    Are you Antiochian? In the OCA bishops are selected “at home”, not from abroad. In the jurisdiction I attend, we have but one diocese for all parishes in the U.S. Here’s the link to my parish’s web site:

    When the parish church was constructed in the very early 1900s, it was Uniate…became Orthodox in 1938.


  67. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen!

    Al Green (#66),

    My wife an I attended the Holy Thursday service at St. Michaels in Niles, Illinois. It also belongs to the ACROD. We like to visit the various Orthodox parishes in our area and expose our children to them as well. We enjoyed it very much and plan to make an annual tradition out of it.

    BTW we have a Sam Green at our parish, St. Haralambos (GOA) in Niles, Illinois. Do you have any relatives in the Chicago area.

    Although, now that I think about it he goes by the Greek version of his name…Sam Prassinos. 🙂 (prassinos=green in Greek). Just a small (very small) attempt at humor.

    Tom K

  68. George Michalopulos says

    Christ is Risen!

  69. Tom,

    No relatives in Obamaland. However, these days one cannot be too “green,” right? (I believe “global warming” Al Gore-style is a myth.)

    In the Binghamton, NY, area which is not too far away, there are eight Orthodox churches within a 20-mile radius…2 OCA, 2 GOA, 2 Carpatho-Russian, and one each of Ukrainian (EP) and ROCOR.

    BTW, the rector of one of the OCA parishes is leaving the OCA soon for ROCOR. I’m trying to find out why (he is my former pastor) but I suspect it has something to do with his claim that St. Vladimir’s Seminary, where he instructs part-time, is teaching modernist, revisionist theology. He has also claimed that some teachings are heretical. Ah, the Orthodox beat goes on, and on, and on…like the Energizer bunny!

    Al, who is pro-life and a threat to national security!

  70. Tom Kanelos says

    Christ is Risen!

    Al, (69)

    Obamaland? You really know how to hurt a guy. There are ONLY 2 good things which came out of the election of this hack, Chicago, machine politician. 1. He is no longer one of my senators (although we still have Dick Disturbin), 2. Hillary is not president.

    I’m with you on the Gore theory.

    I have a close friend who attended St. Vladimir several years back, he expressed some of the same issues you raise. But to be honest, there are one or two folks at HC/HC who are not tops in my opinion (for waht little that is worth).

    We are blessed to have quite a few parishes of various traditions in the Chicago area. I think the more that people are exposed to the various “flavors” of the Orthodox Church, the more the barriers come down. We really enjoy visiting St. Michaels every so often for a different “flavor”. BTW, it seems to me that huge number of the ACROD parishes in the US are named in honor of St. Michael (I assume this is the same as the Archangel Michael). Do you know why that is?

    Tom K

  71. Tom Kanelos says

    Truly He Is Risen!

    Best wishes to you (a little early), George, for a blessed nameday. Many Years! May you live to be 100!

    Tom K

  72. I just don’t see thousands of converts lining up to join a museum exhibition.

    But this is a specious objection. Thousands of converts are not going to line up to join the Orthodox in America no matter WHAT happens, even if the EP miraculously gives up its error and Metropolitan Jonah is given a completely free hand to run the American Church the way he wants to.

    Besides: by no means are the other jurisdictions mere “museum exhibitions”. On the contrary: it is ONLY in the GOA that we have an Elder in America, and only in ROCOR that we had such great saints in recent memory as Abba Nektary, St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, and his cell attendant, Archimandrite Mitrophan.

    We NEVER see such saints in the OCA, even their admirers are often driven out of the OCA, which is why when Metropolitan Jonah talks about fruit of the American Church, some of us think of Durian — the fruit that tastes sweet only to the person eating it, and stinks to everyone else (

  73. George Michalopulos says


    Indeed his arisen! thank you for the premature nameday salutations as well. Living to 100 however? If I have more Paschas like this one, I hope you’re right. You do the same as well.


    Elder Ephraim is in the GOA. However for awhile he was in ROCOR because of secularization within the EP. He came back to GOA (and I’m glad he did because it’s probably the best thing going there). However, most of the bishops in the GOA have put an embargo on his creating any more monasteries. (The only standout in this regard is +Isaiah of Denver.) Interestingly enough, the Ephraimite monastery I make pilgrimages to is on excellent terms with the OCA and they think highly of +Jonah.

    I must tell you, that I don’t see the same problems with the OCA “driving out defenders” of the saints you named, at least in my diocese. In fact, quite the opposite. Are you sure about the God-pleasing saints such as Raphael Hawaweeny, Jacob Netsvetov, Peter the Aleut, etc. not being in the Russian Archdiocese? For all its faults, the OCA is the successor to this diocese.

  74. ***If nothing else, the 17 Ephraimite monasteries in the U.S. have generated their share of negative publicity. Although I can no longer find my link dso as to post it here, there was a vicious web site at one time by parents of young men who had entered Ephraim’s monastic communities. Their main complaint was that their sons were no longer allowed to see their parents. THAT sparked a spate of negative news stories on several television stations. One such story, by an Arizona station in 2006, can be found here:


  75. George Michalopulos says


    I too have heard the many stories about Ephraim and his monastics. All I can say is I’ve been to one, four times now over the last 5 years and I saw nothing at all that justified these slanders. I’ve met other pilgrims who’ve been to some of the other monasteries and I heard nothing untoward from any of them. I realize of course I’m one man and I’ve only met about a dozen other pilgrims (if that) so my information is based on random samples. I don’t pretend it to be scientific or exhaustive. However I do know one thing, and that is “by their fruits ye shall know them.” One of the hieromonks where I was told me that if the monastic phenomenon was based on a cult of personality, it would wither upon the repose of the Elder. These were the kindest, gentlest, most Christian men I’ve ever met.

  76. I am the boat with His Eminence, Met. Jonah. However, I would have liked for him to address the +EP tendency towards Ecumenism, the Pope, and the up and coming sobor.

  77. Al Green says

    Re: No. 76:


    Maybe some of your answers can be found in this summation of Met. Jonah’s interview with Blagovest-Info conducted last week in Moscow.


  78. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    Chief Orthodox Archpastor of American and the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is how Metropolitan Hilarion of ROCOR welcomed His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios to the headquarters of ROCOR: “We welcome the Chief Orthodox Archpastor of America and the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

  79. Al Green says

    Re: No. 78

    “Chief Orthodox Archpastor of America”? Wow! There are several hierarchs who would really like to be the “chief archpastor,” but in America, there are none. Orthodox hierarchal structure and protocol is far too rooted in some obscure tradition to face the reality of America with its hundreds of religious groups both christian and otherwise. Just the same, “Chief Orthodox Archpastor of America” has a certain ring to it (to say nothing of the great big ego boost)! 😉


  80. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    sorry to disappoint you but you miss the concept entirely. first: not even russia accepts the autocephaly. we are part of an order and do not stand outside it. America is not unique and does not establish for itself a whole seperate code by which to operate. sorry. further more if you ever had the pleasure or blessing of actually meeting and spending time with ARchbishop Demetrios you would find a man of great intellect, spiritual discernment and wisdom. He is a man of great love and compassion for all. His ego doesn’t require boosting. Even when his brother was the presiding president of the european community he was no less humble. i have had the privilage to hear him speak and to share several meals on several pilgrimages to the Phanar and He is one of the greatest blessings in my life.

  81. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    i stand correct i mistyped. I didn’t mean russia doesn’t accept autocephaly but they themselves are changing their own rhetoric as is evident in their invitation. so either russian representatives are disingenious in their invitation or are self correcting.

  82. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    Lets do some math:

    Do not recognize OCA autocephaly
    Ecumenical Patriarchate
    Patriarchate of Alexandria
    Patriarchate of Jerusalem
    Patriarchate of Antioch
    Patriarchate of Romania
    Patriarchate of Serbia
    Patriarchate of Georgia
    Patriarchate of Albania
    Church of Greece
    Church of Cyprus
    Church of Ukraine
    Church of Finland
    Church of Japan

    OCA’s autocephaly is fully recognized by
    The OCA
    Moscow Patriarchate
    Bulgarian (parts)
    Polish (parts aligned w/Moscow)

  83. George Michalopulos says


    how can you say that “even Russia does not accept the autocephaly” (presumably of the OCA)? The fact of the matter is that they do. (Either that, or they’re liars.) As for +Demetrius being lauded with such honorifics, that’s great! It’s not his official title however. When +Jonah visited ROCOR however he was called by his official title.

    Of course, it’s all very interesting that this was the first time the leader of the GOA (btw, isn’t that the EP?) visited Jordanville. I’d been asking for several days now of another correspondent when someone from the GOA would visit ROCOR. Now we know. Looks like +Jonah’s got a whole lotta people sweating.

    Apropos of the above, I’ve made some predictions & observations regarding +Jonah’s evangelistic hyper-activity. One was that that the GOA is going to have to revisit its loyalty to America w/ a concommitant introspection regarding its ethnic identity. Just yesterday, two communiques from the GOA called that body “The Holy Archdiocese of America.” This has never been done (believe me, I’d remember that). The second, was a rhetorical question I asked above (“when has the GOA ever visited ROCOR at Englewood?”)

    As to the implications of these two observations, I will answer them more fully in a later post, when I have more time. (Work beckons.)

    The Reader’s Digest version of the past six months (since +Jonah’s election) is this: +Jonah is driving events in North America. I don’t know how it’s gonna play out, hopefully in unity and a renewed commitment by ALL bishops to evangelism but even if unity doesn’t happen but a happy rivalry breaks out, one in which the GOA becomes truly American and evangelistic, then as my beloved grandpa used to say: “kathe embodhio kai sto kalo!” (Every undertaking for the good!)

    p.s. And no, I don’t believe that ROCOR will be placed under submission to the Phanar. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’ve always respected ROCOR for its fidelity to the Orthodox liturgical tradition (OCA is a a not-so-distant second) and the moral stance of traditionalism. I could be wrong (please note the caveat) but given their steadfastness, I doubt they’re as enthusiastic about the Phanar. (I get this from anecdotal evidence btw, from people I know and have known in ROCOR.)

  84. George Michalopulos says

    Agnela. you forget Georgia, Czech and Slovak. What do you mean “parts of” That’s mickey mouse.

  85. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    George, first i immediately corrected my comment regarding russia recognizing autocephaly. More importanly it does seem as if someone (maybe me) tried your skirt in a knot.

  86. George Michalopulos says

    p.s. Angela, let’s be honest. The first four churches you named are dhimmi churches. They are not free agents and even their patriarchs are chosen by hostile anti-Christian governments. Their evangelistic endeavors are non-existent (even Antioch bumped into evangelism when the EP rejected the 3000 evangelicals back in the late 80s). Plus, Alexandria and Jerusalem are dependencies of the EP so they’re opinion doesn’t hold water (as was Antioch but they broke free). In other words, their dependencies of dependencies (the Phanar is dependent upon the Kemalist government of Turkey).

    As to the Romania, Serbia, and Greece (and Bulgaria too), the EP does not “really” recognize their autocephaly. (Quick, go ask your GOA priest if the Church of Greece is autocephalous.)

    Ukraine. Which “Ukrainian” church do you mean? (There are three).

    Japan and Finland are autonomous. You forgot Estonia. But you can’t bring that one up because that one’s a mess (admittedly not as bad as Ukraine).

    SCOBA? Are you kidding me? They’re just a gathering of bishops with no authority whatsoever.

    Yes, Angela, let’s do the math: >95% of Orhodoxy recognizes the OCA. As I’ve said in another post, I’d rather go with the self-confident evangelistic churches than the dhimmi ones.

  87. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    the 3000 you mean with gilquest who came in with their own bishops and now look at them. sadly george you would rather go with herectical churches then ones fighting for their freedom. I have met on many occaisions the Ecumenical Patriarch both in the United States on both coast and at the Phanar and misc. events. You persecute a man you do not know. one who has lived his entire life in service and with complete dignity. as for the 95% of the churches it is the autocephaly which is not acknowledged. i prefer to die for the plight of the Ecumenical Patriachate. by the way the autocephalous states that many of the churches you named including Greece and OCA were granted because of intense persecution and torture not because they were all grown up. It is the way wrong direction. Apostolic succession is the rule and if you don’t beleive it then you subscribe to another creed. as for me and mine i remain steadfast with the Phanar.

  88. The GOA wants to cry fowl over Met Jonah’s sermon in Dallas. The Despota of Desperate Housewives in San Francisco cries crocodile tears of persecution. Apologies to 79th street are asked for.

    Now with the latest salvo in this press release (which is designed to escalate the situation) we see once again the profound lack of maturity in the GOA.

    If you ask me the situation boils down to the following

    Recent statements and events show clearly the GOA and EP want to rule American Orthodoxy. Metropolitan Jonah wants to serve American Orthodoxy. I will take a leader who wants to serve over a leader who wants to rule any day of the week.

    Rule or Serve. It could not be more simple. It could not be more clear.

  89. George Michalopulos says

    No Angela, I don’t wear skirts or hide behind them. I just want the debate to proceed under agreed terms. And I’ve gotten really tired of mealy-mouthed correspondents who play mickey-mouse games. Examples? Try these on for size:

    1. “Little-a autocephaly.” (File that under “a little bit pregnant.”)

    2. “Doesn’t really accept autocephaly.” (File that under “I promise I’ll respect you in the morning.)

    3. “The canonical jurisdiction of America.” (So what the heck is SCOBA? Chopped liver?)

    4. “Little-t traditions.” (Are you kidding me? Have these people even attended an ethnic –any ethnic–parish?)

    5. “The OCA is an ‘Eastern-Rite Episcopalianism’.” (As opposed to the GOA which pants after the elites of Hollywood and politics?) Before Frank Schaeffer drank the Obama Kool-aid, he called this “the George Stephanopoulos school of Orthodox journalism,” getting the archbishop in as many pictures with under-secretaries of state for waste-disposal as possible. Or with as many half-naked starlets as possible.

    Honestly, it’s impossible to conduct a good-faith debate with correspondents who engage in such tactics and change the meaning of words and/or bring in new phrases (such as the ones above). So yes, there is a bit of sarcasm to my tone at times, but it’s reflective of a contempt that I’ve acquired for people who play games with Christ’s Church (and for which I must assuredly repent).

  90. George Michalopulos says

    Actually, Angela, I’ve met the EP. He seems like a mighty fine man to me. I’ve gone on record stating that he has a primatial (not supremacist) position within Orthodoxy. Just because I correctly understand the prerogatives of his office (primus inter pares) does not mean that I “persecute him.” That’s like saying the I “persecute” the Chief Justice because I don’t like the way the Afghan war is going and he swore in the current President. He’s not the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. Completely tangential and beside the point.

    This is why I repeatedly cry “foul” because people are not debating in good faith but always pulling out the “victim” card which is very tiresome and unbefitting resolute and confident men (or women in your case).

    Angela, please consider: all this began when a functionary from the Phanar came and gave a tactless and graceless speech full of slanders and half-truths. When +Jonah responded in a very sweet voice, the victimologists started crying like babies. “Oh, it’s ok for us to call you names, but if you defend yourselves, your being hurtful.” I can’t tell you how derisively people look at the Phanar and its spokesment as crybabies when they act like, you know, crybabies.

  91. George Michalopulos says

    p.s. I just read your comment regarding “heretical churches.” Do you mean the Church of Antioch is “heretical”? They are the ones which took in the evangelicals whom you seem to judge their hearts and conviction to Orthodoxy.

    This of course leads me to another questioI challenge you to name me an Orthodox jurisdiction which is more desirous of ecumenical dialogue (“chasing after heretical churches”) than the Phanar and the GOA.

    As for “apostolic succession,” all canonical churches are in apostolic succession. Which apostle founded the diocese of Boston? Are we Mormons now who believe that Jesus and the Apostles came to the Americas in the distant past and set up the Church here as well?

  92. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    I am unable at this time to fully expound on several of the posts. but i would like to say first that by heretical i ment the evangelical demoninations not the other canonical churches. your last statements are most telling. as for the mormons they are heritics as there is nothing in our tradition that indicates such an occurance. i am a simple person/believer: i maintain the traditions as best as i am able which were established by the great fathers of our church which dates back to the apostle andrew the first called. i eagerly await the day the the roman catholic church returns to the one true faith so that the line of peter may be fully restored. nothing good has ever come from the reformation it began and continues with heresy. i don’t look into the hearts of people i don’t make excuse for sin or beleives contrary to the one true faith. i know and affirm with all certainty the Holy Orthodox Church and leave other faiths to God to judge. My judgement is enough for me to concern myself with. It is for this reason alone that i comment to defend the Ecumenical Throne and the Throne of our Lord and Savior the Living Christ.

  93. Michael Bauman says

    The Church does not need any defense, she just needs to be identified, entered lived in and shared.

    Right now ALL of the jurisdictions are standing in the way of allowing people to do that. We are ALL shirking our duties and living in a state of sin and perhaps shism and heresy. Hard to tell on the latter two.

    Does it really make any difference who is sinning the most? We are ALL WRONG!

    Lord have mercy.

  94. Michael Bauman says

    Angela, BTW, as an old crumudgeon, I find it quite difficult to follow or respect your thoughts when you fail to use proper punctuation and capitalization. It is illiterate and disrespectful.

  95. Al Green says

    Re: No. 82

    SCOBA doesn’t recognize the OCA’s autocephaly? Duh! The OCA is a member of SCOBA.

    BTW, you list SCOBA as if it’s a jurisdiction like the churches listed above it. SCOBA is, of course, not a church but an association of hierarchs operaing in North America seeking to work for the common good of the Church across jurisdictional lines.


  96. Al Green says

    Re: No. 84

    George, Angela also forgot the Church of Sinai.


  97. Al Green says

    ***The following canonical church are, in theory, in communion with each other. The OCA has shared the Communion Cup with nearly all of them.

    Autocephalous Churches

    The Church of Albania
    The Church of Alexandria
    The Church of Antioch
    The Church of Bulgaria
    The Church of Constantinople
    The Church of Cyprus
    The Church of the Czech and Slovak Republics
    The Church of Georgia
    The Church of Greece
    The Church of Jerusalem
    The Orthodox Church in America
    The Church of Poland
    The Church of Romania
    The Church of Russia
    The Church of Serbia

    Autonomous Churches

    The Church of Finland
    The Church of Japan
    The Church of Sinai
    The Church of Ukraine

    And then there is the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America which is under the autocephalous Church of Antioch and which defies categorization due to having had its self-governing status undermined recently by Antioch.

  98. Dean Calvert says


    I’ve asked the same questions before.

    The answer I received was that the OCA is recognized as an autocephalous church by the Russian, Bulgarian, Polish and Czech Churches.

    However, in addition, the OCA is recognized by all of the others as an autonomous church. This is the reason they can participate in SCOBA.

    Otherwise it would be ridiculous – as if it weren’t already!

    “Ridiculous”…we Orthodox have certainly pushed the limits on that, haven’t we.

    Best Regards,

  99. George Michalopulos says


    my point was why were you calling these evangelicals “heretical”? My other point was that ALL canonical church’s hierarchs are in the apostolic succession. I was being too cute by half by asking the rhetorical question “are we Mormons now?” The point being that none of the American sees were founded by the apostles, yet they are in the apostolic succession. BTW, neither was Constantinople. During its heyday, Byzantine theologians maintained Constantinople’s apostolicity because it was a canonically recognized church, whose bishops were originally suffragans of the Metropolitan of Heraclea (in Thrace). Even in the first millenium, churches were popping up all over, and none of the newer, post-Nicean dioceses were founded by8 apostles (as these men had been dead 300+ years). Indeed, in the first 500 years, only the sees of Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome were considered to be “patriarchal.” Even Jerusalem, the true Mother Church was not accorded the same honors (and that’s because it had been destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, taking centuries to recover. Also, it was called “Aelia Capitolina” and its bishop the “bishop of Aelia.”) As long as they were founded by earlier churches, their canonicity was accepted (as was their autonomy).

    p.s. I don’t mind the lack of caps and punctuation. I myself am far from consistent in this regard.

  100. George Michalopulos says

    Dean, also Georgia.

  101. George Michalopulos says

    Dean, Michael, Scott, Steve, et al, since it’s obvious that the Phanar/GOA is reading this blog and taking direction from the many criticisms (legitimate IMHO) leveled herein, let’s have fun with it! If any of you have any ideas that you think would make the GOA more evangelical, post them! I ask that they send Phanariote missionaries to the Yucatan and evangelize the Zapotec Indians. In Zapotec.

  102. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    would you like to explain being you all have the trite answers what the differenvces are between autcelphaly and automonous.

  103. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    It is incredible to me that punctuation and grammar are the primary concerns for what is stated here when you have a Heirarch who mispresents the OCA’s real or tiny presence in the U.S as compared with the Greek Orthodox Church which is overflowig building larger Churches which are filled to capacity and where we are having to have two Liturgies regularily in many churches. let’s also remember american history alaska was not part of the united states and neither was california for that matter. it was not part of the first colonies and had nothing to do with the formation of the country until much later in our countries history. the argument that we are in some way creating a shine to byzantium is an inane argument. our church is one of history and it is just as valid as the church today as we stand in the most profound sense out of time. You all seem envious and bitter. As for my grammar i am a most educated and elequent speaker. if i have typos or improper punctuation grow up by and large your clergy can’t even read Greek the language of the Gospels which are a greek phenomenon. get a grip. Good thing our Lord and Savior didn’t look at the communication skills of those fisherman he called to help him. you all need a good history lesson and more importantly a good does of humility. If you want your own church go ahead God bless you but you would be wrong and would take only a fraction of believers with you. the ignorant, the arrogant, the prideful and the spiteful. don’t let the door hit you on the way out. BTY, conversion doesn’t happen with fanciful articuation.the GOA or EP as you rudely refer to them do not and will never take their lead from the likes of you. You have no influence expect in the space of your small minds. The actions taken are corrective and not do to tredipation or fear. sounds like Met. Jonah is the only one back peddling. i won’t be back to this forum because you ahve an agenda hang with the OCL and puff yourselves up all you’d like. http://www.elgreca262.blogspot

  104. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    FINAL POST HERE: you might check out my blog for more details on Met. Jonah. (on another matter none of you mention the misappropriation of funds that standard protocol in syoccet,ny in the OCA!!!

    Met. Johan not to be included in meeting

    Metropolitan Jonah interviewed by Russian news outlet
    This is a solid and frank interview.

    The autocephaly of the OCA is still not recognized by all of world Orthodoxy. Could you remind us which Local Churches recognize it, and which do not? How do you see the prospect of dealing with this sensitive issue? Do you plan to visit the Patriarch of Constantinople?
    to see his answer which acknowledges his desire for legitimacy and the protocol he needs to follow go to my blog:

  105. Michael Bauman says


    The intentional non-use of traditional modes of communication is not a trivial matter. The denigration of language that is involved is one more step into the nihilist culture that is robbing us of both beauty and humanity. We are rapidly regressing to a pre-literate form of communication approaching the Summerian forms and heading to hieroglyphics. Do we really want to go there?

    Such denigration of language relates to many things in the Church especially any notion of ‘liturgical reform’ using modern language (anathema)!

    It is pretty amazing to me that an Orthodox person would not understand that content is effected by form. Should we write our icons in any old way? Is it not a major part of our practice that particular forms are necessary to properly communicate the Holy Spirit and the faith? Much of the dispute in the 1st Council was over one syllable of one word

    Shoot, there are some Greeks who even maintain that only Greek should be used to properly convey the faith. While that is obviously going too far, I can actually understand the point.

    There are many more who strongly maintain that any alteration in traditional forms changes the faith. Language is a potent and dangerous tool. Being intentionally sloppy in using language denotes sloppy thought as far as I am concerned. Why should I even bother to read it?

    It is especially ironic that someone who is arguing so intensely for maintaining a traditional structure in the Church should use such modern forms. To me it undermines your argument significantly.

    Speaking and writing are two different modes of communication. Skill in one does not necessarily translate to the other.

    I love history, it is one of the factors Jesus used to get me to His Church. However, when history becomes a detriment to realizing our calling as a Church in this land (as it has), we have to reexamine everything in light of genuine Tradition and go forward. The GOA and the EP do not have a lock on Tradition. What is important to me is communicating Jesus Christ and the Church to the people in this country. I don’t care what nationality. I don’t care who was here first, etc, etc, ad nausem, that has long ago ceased being anything but Pharasitical.

    Unfortunately, my experience with the GOA and Greek Orthodox has been almost universally negative in this regard (Tom Kanelos, despite our disagreements is a welcome exception). You do realize the phylitism is a heresy, don’t you?

    If we can’t even agree that the Church for Americans and Americans for the Church is our primary job, the rest is moot. If we don’t realize that EVERY JURISDICTION IS A MESS, the rest is moot. If we don’t realize that the Church is not a birthright, but a gift we have to consciously accept, even a calling we have to respond to, everything else is moot.

  106. George Michalopulos says

    Michael, you are right. Repentance is called for. Woe be to them who think they have nothing to repent of.

  107. Michael Bauman says

    On the matter of autocephally not being recognized. Whether it is officially (whatever that means) or not doesn’t matter a whit. Met. Jonah (not Johan) was elected with zero input from any other jurisdiction. Since the OCA is in communion with just about everyone in the Orthodox world (to my knowledge), there is defacto recognition of the autocephally of the OCA. Autocephally means ‘self-heading’ after all.

    The OCA elected their head, they are in communion, their autocephally is recognized.

    It is beyond me why so many seem to want to degrade and deingrate the OCA. What have they done to offend, exist?

  108. cherokee steve says

    This is both Russian and Met. Jonah view. Here is Met. Jonah speaking in a interview is Russia a few days ago.

    “The American Orthodox Church is the former “daughter” of Russian Orthodox Church, who now is like our older sister. We have no difficulties in our relations with her. Here we are perceived as a fully canonical and autocephalous Church. This is logical because the Russian Orthodox Church and granted us autocephaly. I am received here on the same level as the Patriarch himself. If we were not perceived as a fully independent and equal Church, then I would be received here as I am.”

    Met. Jonah my God grant you many years…

  109. Al Green says

    Re: No. 102

    From the OCA web site:

    An “autocephalous” Church is completely self-governing. It elects its own primate and has the right to consecrate its own Holy Chrism, among other prerogatives unique to autocephalous Churches. [The term “autocephalous” literally means “self-heading.”]

    An “autonomous” Church is self-governing to a certain degree in its internal matters, but its head is appointed or confirmed by the autocephalous Church which nurtures it. An autonomous Church also receives its Holy Chrism from its “Mother Church.”

  110. Al Green says

    Re: 104

    Angela, it really doesn’t matter which jurisdictions (churches) have or have not officially recognized the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America. That all of these churches have served at the altar with the OCA at one time or another is the most important act of validity. In nearly all cases, lack of official recognition is strictly political…such as the Church of Constantinople (Ecumenical Patriarchate) not “officially” recognizing the OCA so as not to tick off the GOA which supplies a bunch of money each year to the Phanar!

  111. Al Green says

    Re: 107


    Here is a super long list I have compiled on my web site of vagante Orthodox that the OCA is definately not in communion with:

    Religious Groups That Use ‘Orthodox’ in Their Names
    But Are Not Canonical Eastern Orthodox Churches

    I’m particularly amused by the section titled: “The Ukrainian Debacle – They boldly go where no Ukrainian has gone before.”


  112. George Michalopulos says


    the problem is one of “thin skin.” People who are resolute in their knowledge of the truth don’t have to play the victim card. The fact that the Phanar’s defenders pull it out every 5 minutes should tell us something.

  113. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    first i am resolute in my knowledge. belching facts does not make you correct or your comments appropriate. Al, I take great offense implying that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a sell out or a whore yeilding to the highest bidder according to your comments the Greek Orthodox Arch. We do not pull the victim card ever. The fact that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has lived under the Ottoman Rule and the yolk of the Turks for four hundred years is not the victim card. Likewise it is not the victim card for Moscow to reflect on its time under the occupation of the communists and the slaughter of clergy and laity alike (memory eternal). As for my Patriarch the Orthodox Christians living their number only about two thousand in a country of 68,000,000. When i have visited throught the last decade there are no victims only survivors. We proclaim the Creed as they call to prayer. We have been photographed, had our passports confiscated and harrassed. I wend to Nicea to the place where the creed was affirmed i have traveled to the Holy places to be around and in the presence of the Holy People of God never numbering myself among them. visit the archon website to learn about the confiscation of properties and the limited on human rights. Basic religious freedom. I am not against Met.Jonah and i have met him on two occaisions. I am not against the OCA in fact i support my local parish. I am offended at how quickly we throw our history under the bus. Let Met. Jonah gain some perspective because trumpeting his own horn so loudly. I sincerely want nothing more then communal respect and affection one orthodox christian for another. but the end doesn’t justify the means St. Paul warns us against doing what is wrong in the name of what is good or God. He repeats “God forbid”!!! Creating patriachates are not signs of promotion or advancement. We are not like the protestants who set up their own creeds and affiliations to suit local needs or demands we are members of the most Holy most richely endowed faith the One True Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is the more complete understanding of God that is known or has yet to be revealed. Let’s proclaim love in any language Christ is risen!!!

  114. Al Green says

    No. 112

    You wrote: “Al, I take great offense implying that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a sell out or a whore yeilding to the highest bidder according to your comments the Greek Orthodox Arch.”

    Angela, you read too much into what I wrote and i take great offense in your putting words in my mouth, which is disingenuous on your part. Keep in mind that the E.P. is my patriarch. That said, facts are facts. Without financial support from the Greeks in America, the Phanar would become dust. Time for the E.P. to pull out of Turkey and find residence in a friendlier country. (There is precedence for this…The Church of Antioch.)

    I suggest you deal with it.


  115. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    Al, first i would like to say that each time you feel disagreed with we don’t need to take great offense. Our Lord went to the cross in Extreme Humility. As for your comment “lack of official recognition is strictly political…such as the Church of Constantinople (Ecumenical Patriarchate) not “officially” recognizing the OCA so as not to tick off the GOA which supplies a bunch of money each year to the Phanar!” does state not even imply a sell out for perhaps you were refering to a decision of necessity. Nonetheless asking The Ecumentical Patriarch to leave would we akin to telling the Jews to leave Israel. Not likely. Have you been to the city. Have you seen the ancient monuments to Christianity and the current monuments behld in the testimonies of those still living there. Some secretly living as Christians. Abandoment is not the key here. Ecumenical Patriarch Archbipshop of Constantinople And Pope of New Rome himself has said that he will not leave not during his lifetime. The answer may be political and our current president Obama (who i dislike immeasureably for his stance on abortion and economics) did at least mention Halki Theological school. I have been there on several occaisions and it is a school which is very much alive with the spirits of those who have passed through those hallways dormiories and books. We have the Hospital at Barulki which is owned by the Patriarchate and serves all who need free of charge about 30-40,000 annually with a full services in and out patient specialties. That means that even if every Greek were to go the 98% are muslims/turks. It also has an old age home limited to the the Greeks where they live their entire lives with top notch medical care and social interaction. They have a chapel in their housing and are visited regulariy by priests. They are given memorial services when they doe as the church perscpribes for years. I have visited this hopsital many times also. The goverment has been trying to take this too. The archons God bless each and every one of them have been tireless in their efforts to apply internation pressure not to pack and run. The efforts spent here and on other websites should be to ignite a ground swell from the grassroot orthodox christians like you to defend her (the churches) right to exist where it as been for over a thousand years. By the way i listed your weblink of non orthodox religious groups at my blog. very informative.

  116. cherokee steve says

    See if the orthodox churches in America truely went by cannon law and didn’t want to be a Greek/Arab/Russian social club than we would not have the problems today. Most of us would not have anything to mad about.

    Well the OCA is going by cannon law.

  117. Al Green says

    Re: No. 115

    Angela, I converted to Orthodoxy because of theological and dogmatic truth, not religious political B.S. I’ll let you cradle Orthodox worry about such stuff. Frankly, I could care less whether the E.P. is in Istanbul or Podunk, USA. He can shepherd his flock from anywhere. You make some good points, but I’m not going to lose very much sleep over it. And yes, the Archons, even the Carpatho-Russian ones in my parish, have worked hard to keep the Church of Constantinople viable where it is.

    Glad you like my list of Ortho-Pretenders.


  118. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    Al, first of all B.S is not a legitimate arguement. It is dismissive and uncuts all that you are trying to convey. I find the only people engaging in the politics of character assassination are some of the members here. Why do you profile me and assume that i am a craddle orthodox because of my last name. My maiden name could be smith or hernandez. as i stated earlier all believers of all faiths are converts there is a comming of age a time when each individual proclaims or rejects their beliefs. I don’t understand why insults continue to be slug. It would be much simpler to address the comments and positions not the person. I do not attack Met. Jonah or anyone else i reject the positions. someone can be very sincere and still be deluded. i am also dismayed to find individuals whose comments are not posted here. Freedom of speech is one of the foundations of a free society of American culture and law and to banish and censure comments is unamerican. Is that the kind of dialogue we want? isn’t that the strong arming you fear or reject? if what the moderators what conversations exclusively which express their own thoughts then it should be a private club and not something open to everyone. Am i allowed to publish here simply to serve as a target and punching bag? please publish all non profane comments as i think it will either strengthen your position or change it. It’s the american way!!

  119. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Al and Angela, your posts are devolving into a private argument. Either is gets elevated to the expression and defense of ideas, or else it will be closed.

  120. Al Green says

    Re: No. 118

    Angela, I attacked no one. But if that’s the way you see it, then I say those famous words of Roy Rogers: “May the good Lord take a liking to ya.” I’ll chat with you no more. Goodnight and godspeed!


  121. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    Dear Father,
    I am dismayed to learn thatyou would ban me from exchanging in a healthy discourse. I am not dealing with specific individuals who express themselves here. In fact unlike several of your members i have not attacked the ability to write concisely or express themselves. I always make the effort to understand the spirit of what they are stating. I am upset that the only group which is consistenly on the out are craddle orthodox. You may choose not to publish my posts any longer and if i were some disenfranchised minority thenthe ACLU would rush to my defense. Please clarify what your mission is for this site. I have read other topics also and it regularly slanders the leaders of the Greek Orthodox ARch. Arch. Bishop Demetrios is the object of many unworhty comments and yet his defenders are marginalized and silenced as you wish to do here to me. this is an unfortunate state. In the spirit of St athanasious who was persecuted until his death i will continue state what my conscience dictates. God has truly blessed me that i may be wrongful persecuted for His names sake.

  122. It is always difficult and sometimes risky to try to address controversial issues in a format designed for brief interchanges like a blog (though my posts tend to violate these requirements). One can not be thorough enough, nor nuanced enough, nor can one “read” all of those important facial expressions that help us understand how someone else might understand our comments so we can modify them as needed to foster clarity.

    On more than one of occasion, I have noticed claims made that others had attacked them (or some other person or Jurisdiction) or had engaged in character assassination. Having followed this post closely since its inception, I can not see anything that would warrant these claims. I have seen some occasionally snarky and uncharitable comments, but nothing that reaches the level of the accusations.

    What I have also noticed, however, is that those making these charges seem to be personalizing criticisms that – to me at least – are not fundamentally personal; they are focused on issues, policies and specific positions. That is, the responses to their position or comments may be critical or unkind, but nothing appears to be directed at them personally. Yet their responses made it clear that they experience the comments that way.

    While I can not begin to speculate on the reasons for the personalization, that they do so is evident in both the nature of the response and the apparent tendency to assume or impute motives to the others in their responses. (It is also evident in their focus on being attacked and the apparent unwillingness to respond to the content of the criticism offered.) That this is so is made particularly clear by the fact that those accused of such attacks have readily offered apologies for any misunderstandings or uncharitable comments, where as those who have claimed that they were attacked seem to continue to personalize and generalize, elevating the disagreement into an Epic Battle over Principles of Enormous Import. Perhaps this justifies the intensity of the feeling. I don’t know. In my experience, it can be difficult to converse long with anyone who tends to personalize issues, since it will tend to turn disagreement into persecution. If so, it is a persecution to which no one else will show up.
    (As an aside, this is what makes the notion of “hate speech” so destructive – it allows those most prone to personalizing issues to use their perception to silence the opposition. The irony, then, is that those who claim to be the victims become very effective victimizers – not that that is occurring here. So far as I can see, those who have felt themselves to be the victim have not sought to silence anyone else.)

    The desire to maintain a focus on the issues rather than personalizing them is, as I read it, the purpose of Father’s challenge (#119). More to the point (since it was subsequently challenged), moderators have a duty to monitor the character of the conversation or it will undermine the value of this site. Free speech is presumably not undermined when editors choose not to publish letters, radio talk-show hosts select particular callers or when moderators at a given site establish ground rules.

    It should not need to be repeated, but – for those for whom it seems difficult to believe, my reading of the conversation resulting from the initial post is that everyone on this site would readily and eagerly grant the EP the honor and respect owed to him due to his Primacy. We would all, I believe, support as much as possible the (truly) persecuted Christians in Constantinople. They are suffering a modern martyrdom and deserve our active, urgent love and support. At the same time, many of us take issue with the claims for Supremacy made by the EP. It is this issue alone that is being addressed – not out of disrespect for the EP but out of a fundamental disagreement over the Orthodox understanding of the nature and function of hierarchy. While these are issues that touch on deeply-held beliefs, disagreement is not denigration nor persecution. In the end, however much we may disagree with my brother or sister, I believe that all of us would still affirm them as brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, worthy of our love and, if need be, sacrifice.

  123. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Comment requirements.

    The comments must deal with ideas, the ideas must be coherently expressed, and they must move the conversation forward.

    Discussions that trail off into a private conversation will be closed.

    Moral posturing (finger wagging; false outrage; charges of “hate speech,” “slander,” “censorship” etc. in place or reasoned argument; etc.) will not be accepted.

    Sentiment masquerading as clear thinking will not be accepted.

    Participation in the discussions occur solely at the discretion of the moderators.

    Having said all that, everyone is welcome to post as long as they hold to these standards. Those that don’t will have their posting privileges rescinded regardless of their stand on the questions discussed.

  124. Al Green says

    Re: No. 122, 123:

    ***Just a thought…when a discussion group such as this has rules to be followed, there is no such thing as freedom of speech (ala the amendment to the U.S. Constitution). Speech is free only to the extent that such does not go beyond the discussion group’s rules and regulations. Thus, since this is Fr. Hans’ blog, he can do pretty mush as he pleases.


  125. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    the point to made here is a simple one. the comments should remain dispassionate and rational. often times when discussing religion and politics it can be difficult.the freedom to think and speak is endowed by the law of the land and just like you can’t yell fire in a crowded theature there can be guidelines for self expression like in a classroom. my real concern and objection to censuring commentary and banning participants is that it undermines what i would assume is the goal of this forum. it is perceived on the surface as being a place for the exchange of thoughts and expression of concern and encouragement. if however it becomes a cheerleading squad then it is like a group of adolescents all with high self esteem and opinions of themselves while not having accomplished anything. it is morally reprehensible to ban membership but allow the persistent slander of church leaders like Archbishop Demetrios who was ordained as a bishop over 40 years ago. he has been a bishop as long as i have been alive give or take a few months. if this is a forum for dissention then it should be flexible enough for traditionalist like me. we are all free in the end to pick up our toys and leave the sandbox.

  126. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Restrictions on freedom of speech apply to the government. “Congress shall make no law…” It does not mean that publications are required to list every possible opinion on subjects they choose to discuss. Nor does it meant that every person who contributes to a publication gets a say in setting the rules.

  127. Michael Bauman says

    Nor does free speech mean there will be no consequences.

  128. Dean Calvert says

    Hi everyone,

    Happy Mother’s Day.

    I just happened to bump into this today. Thought it might be of interest. Maybe we should adopt this practice as well? See what y’all think…it’s from Fr Meyendorff:

    When Metropolitan Jonas died (1461), his successor, Theodosius, was elected ‘Metropolitan of all Rus’’ without the title of ‘Kiev’: he was appointed ‘for the house of the most-pure Mother of God, near the grave of the holy wonder-worker Peter, the metropolitan’ (i.e. in Moscow), whereas Russian bishops were required to pledge allegiance to him, as their legitimate primate, and to renounce ‘Gregory, excommunicated from the holy Catholic church, who calls himself Metropolitan of Kiev’. Thus, the Muscovite metropolitan had de facto renounced a claim to ‘Little Russia’, as belonging to his jurisdiction. In later years, the newly consecrated Russian bishops were also asked to pledge not to receive metropolitans ‘appointed in Constantinople, in the dominion of ungodly Turks, by a pagan Tsar.’

    Source: Byzantium and the Rise of Russia, Fr. John Meyendorff, p 269

    Sounds good to me!

    Best Regards,

  129. I would be willing to wager that the next chapter in Phanariot lunacy will be at the HC/HC Graduation. Given the statement of the faculty posted at -a statement without any context of who signed it or how it was issued- you can pretty much bet that this year’s graduation is going to be an omogenia before orthodoxy type of affair complete with a traditional episode of GOA buffoonery.

    It will be a Phanariot version of dueling banjos for sure……

    Cue the music Fr. Tom Fitzgerald……..

  130. Michael Bauman says

    There is a difference between a Traditionalist and an inflexible legalist although the two often get confused.

  131. Regarding #129, I suspect that you may well be right in your prediction. More to the point, I would probably agree with your position – which should be evident from my prior comments. I strongly favor efforts to build a vital American Orthodox Church and, if possible, realize some degree of jurisdictional unity – something focused fully on the faith the Church that appreciates but does not elevate ethnic origins. I have also been very disappointed by recent (political) episodes involving the GOA. At the same time, I do hold Archbishop Demetrios in very high regard – for both who he is and for his office. In that light, disparaging descriptions (such as lunacy or buffoonery) seem unnecessarily disrespectful and uncharitable. Aware as I am of my own sins, I am not eager to add to them: my reading of Acts 23:5 doesn’t constrain criticism but it does demand respect. While I take the underlying point (and fear that you may well be right) it should also be evident from recent comments that others may not. In the spirit of charity, it would go a long way to express even vehement disagreement in a manner that would generate more light than heat.

  132. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    a consequence for free speech should not be censorship or a smack down. i take responsibility for my actions and commentary both here in the real world. but to speak in such a totalitarian tone that there will be or should be consequences to what i have said short of a debate is a dangerous slippery slope. chrys spoke quite well about the cost of slander to the church. as for andrew, he has already begun the attacks prior to an event. first character assassination and bigotry by his term “Phanariot lunacy…..of GOA buffoonery”. I feel strongly father that these are the comments which should be strongly condemned not removed but condemned. they do not open dialogue but in inflame the senses. All the that Greek American money that is sent overseas goes to hospitals in Georgia for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer spearheaded by Andrew Athens. We have Greek from Greece who paid to renovate the Phanar. but to assume that monies have given His All Holiness some life of luxury is improper. Much of the funds go a defense fund for appeals made to the EU and for charitable needs in the City. The GOA as you frequently refer to that jurisdiction has created many vital worldwide charities like the IOCC under Alexander Rondos, The Philoptochos under the vision of Archbishop Iakovos, OCMC etc. I am glad to see that other jurisdictions a have joined such efforts and began their own. But to imply that the Greeks are nationalists who don’t welcome non-Greeks is untrue. Case in point Met. Iakovos of Mytilini establishes churches throughout the world like Cameroon where the services are conducted in English and locals where worship with traditional sounds and sights. He for decades had taken children from Serbia every summer to feed them and give them respit from there war torn country. These are only small examples of the love and charity of one man in a few instances. Please refrain from attacking entire groups for matters which you do not have all the details and which is destructive and misleading. We have not spent countless hours discussing the theft of the OCA for years and years. We have nto discussed that also thank God the OCA has opened many parishes in the Dio. of the So. they often come from priests who were converted int he Greek Orth. Church went to seminary and then set of mission parishes blocks from the Greek (Hellenic) churches. The OCA churches seldom number more then 15 which the GOA parishes easily number in the hundreds. I myself am not impresses with numbers necessarily but they are telling. Also when you have church leadership who are over 75% (a conservative estimate) are converts the community or church can be top heavy. there is something to be said for cradle orthodox who remain faithful. there is a marinating that occurs where you are shaped and molded as a child in the faith. We are all constantly going through a purification of fire removing impurities under the guidance and leadership of the clergy. If however the clergy themselves are new to the faith and only recently finding the path themselves it is more difficult to have the discernment necessary for such a task. Let’s discuss these issues and not develop this into a cult of personality

  133. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Angela, how about a few paragraph breaks and some conventional punctuation? The post is a waterfall of assertions that makes it difficult to respond; as soon as I place my cup in it another one barrels down to displace the one I just caught.

  134. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    Sure thing Father, I’ll be sure to break it into smaller more digestable bites.

  135. Dean Calvert says


    re:I strongly favor efforts to build a vital American Orthodox Church and, if possible, realize some degree of jurisdictional unity – something focused fully on the faith the Church that appreciates but does not elevate ethnic origins.

    One of the things that got me started on path to Orthodox unity was my love of history. I’ve loved Byzantine history since I was about 10. I began by reading all the traditional histories, Ostrogorsky, Runciman, Gibbon, etc. Then, using the bibliographies in those, I went back to the original sources – Eusebius, Psellus, Kinnamos, Choniates, Anna Comnena…etc.

    What I found absolutely fascinating, to the point of bewildering, was the absolute LACK of ethnic affiliation in ANY of the original histories…It finally dawned on me that they simply dealt with a completely different paradigm than we do. Having grown up in the Greek Church, with all of the corresponding emphasis on Greek culture, this was really shocking to me. And the contrast could not be more dramatic. For example, Niketas Choniates wrote an extraordinary 800 page history which covers the period before and after the Fourth Crusade (it’s includes an incredible description of the evacuation of C’nople by the residents and the fires). In that 800 page tome (Dr. Harry Magoulias did the translation), I’ll bet he uses the word “Greek” (or Hellene) fewer times than the last issue of the Orthodox Observer did….on the front page alone!!!

    What that should teach us, and to underline your point, is that ethnicity is NOT the foundation of our church. This situation in the US, with all of our hyphenated-American attitudes, is a very very recent innovation in Orthodoxy and is an anomaly. It has been branded a heresy by a council of Constantiople, 1872.

    The Church Fathers would simply not have known what a “Greek” Orthodox or “Russian” Orthodox was. They spoke of the Orthodox “Oecumene”…that was it.

    It is up to us, cradle Orthodox hopefully spurred along by converts, to reclaim this rich patrimony. If we do, we will find that we have a treasure of immeasurable value to offer and transform America. If we don’t, we’ll be extinct as the dinosaurs…and rightly so.

    Best Regards,

  136. Dean, thank you for the detail you provided. As a convert, I may speak my mind, certainly, but I recognize that my words will not be received in the same manner as those from a cradle Orthodox. In a couple of my more cantankerous moments (usually with sympathetically-minded folks), I walked through the sanctuary and, pointing to the icons, noted the ethnic origins of the people depicted – the vast majority of whom were . . . Jewish. This is not to denigrate the Greek witness, for which I am extremely grateful; it is to recognize that it is a terrible mistake to assert criteria now by which they would have suffered before. The point is made unequivocally in St. Paul’s condemnation of such ethnic divisions in which the “Greeks” were being treated as second-class members. (Interestingly, Paul’s description of the benefits of being Jewish would recognize that the Jews did indeed have historical and cultural advantages. However, all these things and more are ours in Christ.) His full-throated assertion that we are one in Christ is based on the cross itself: in it, Christ over came the divisions in and between human caused by sin.
    Soon we will celebrate Pentecost – the outpouring of the Spirit by which we become by grace what He is by nature, the first fruits of healed humanity, and by which Babel is overturned. In the end, I do not want to find myself knowingly or unknowingly on the other side of the cross, undoing Pentecost and restoring Babel.

  137. Michael Bauman says


    But to imply that the Greeks are nationalists who don’t welcome non-Greeks is untrue

    It may not be true for all, but it is certainly true for many. Of course such activity is not limited to the Greeks because the Slavs, Arabs and Anglos also demonstrate the same not Orthodox approach. Frankly, I don’t care who is doing it, it is dead wrong.

    You and Chrys are correct in that we should strive to moderate our vehemence in a personal sense. However, the idea that Obama warrants any comparison to any Greek ruler of the past is archaic at best, but mostly the idea is looney. It gives the perception that Abp. Demetrios is not living in reality. Perhaps he is too gentle and saintly a man to be in the position he occupies (and I mean that without a trace of sarcasm or irony).

    The comparisons and statements of the Archmandrite at Holy Cross were inflamatory and insulting.

    The environmental statements of Pat Bartholomew are, IMO, putting Christian window dressing on leftist political ideology.

    I am vastly disappointed because I want and expect a higher level of thought from men in their positions. I expect them to be better than I am, a lot better.

    The Greeks make themselves easy targets, but I could easily say many of the same types of things about my own Met.–Met. Philip and probably worse.

    So many of our bishops are not calling us to higher things, are too ivolved with partison and ideological politics, seemingly to concerned with upholding their perogatives without enough concern for the Church, i.e, the Orthodox faithful, in this country.

    Defending old ethnic divisions simply will not work here. We have to go beyond anything history has to show us and work together from the heart of living Tradition to find our way now. History and Tradition are not the same thing. The sucesses of history are not repeatable as they are crafted from the unique combinations of people and circumstance in a given moment of time.

    Failure is much more perdictable from history. Legalism is too rigid to be sucessful for long because it is a fundamentally false assumption about the inter-relationship between God and man.

    BTW the consequence for speaking truth or even attempting to speak truth is far more likely to be adverse than positive.

  138. George Michalopulos says


    I don’t know where you get your numbers (OCA = #15 people vs. GOA = hundreds). This only holds true for missions. You’re comparing apples to oranges. As a rule, GOA parishes are larger than OCA parishes but there are exceptions to this as well. But the ratio you use is completely caterwampus. Indeed, I’ve been in GOA parishes which were well under 45 on a Sunday, from start to finish.

    I’ll be glad to provide you some context: In most OCA/ROCOR parishes, the ratio of Vespers attendees to Liturgy attendees is 1:3 or 1:2. Also, I see a higher percentage of people showing up before the Gospel rather than after the Great Entrance (i.e. just in time for Communion). I don’t want to make this a comparison game, just trying to point out some irregularities in your arguments.

    Also, since the OCA/ROCOR parishes place a premium on Confession, there is an unwritten but decided bias in keeping the numbers in a congregation less than 150. (It’s just not possible for one priest to seriously counsel/confess 200+ people at least six times a year.) In our diocese, we were told by the bishop to seriously start looking at forming another mission once we hit a 100 regular attendees.

    I’m not saying having 300+ is better or worse than having less than 100, but the number “15” is ridiculous. Our mission started with 15-18 people and there are other OCA missions which started with less, but they don’t remain viable if they remain at these numbers. (Again, our mission has Wed nite vespers crowd of 25-30 and Sun crowd of 70+.

  139. Al Green says

    Re: No. 137

    Michael Wrote: “But to imply that the Greeks are nationalists who don’t welcome non-Greeks is untrue.”

    I concur. Over the past two years I had occasion to stay in Concord, NH, 11 times, many over weekends. In the state capitol there is but one canonical Orthodox parish, and it happens to be GOA. I was not only warmly welcomed, but encouraged to commune…and stay for coffee hour. Because this single parish had so many none Greeks as members, the Divine Liturgy was in Greek, English, and occasionally Church Slavonic.

    And, I had a similar experience many years back at a Greek parish near Middletown, NY.


  140. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    when we cling to our ‘american’ ideals of uniformity we are guilty ourselves not only of nationalism but hypocrisy.

  141. George Michalopulos says

    Al, I agree, there are many warm, welcoming GOA parishes. I wish the hierarchy was as warm and welcoming.

  142. Michael Bauman says

    Angela, I’ve seen no one here say anything about wanting uniformity. That is absolutely the wrong way. That’s part of what the mess in the Antiochian Archdiocese is all about. Met. Philip thinks unity lies only in uniformity, his uniformity.

    The OCA is hardly uniform containing both new and old calendar parishes in the same diocese for instance.

    No one in their right mind wants uniformity. That would be a cutting off of both history and Tradition. We need everybody to counter the nihilism of our culture.

    God forbid that we ever become a well organized machine!

    We need to preach the Gospel with all different flavors and colors, not preach the nationality with a hint of Gospel.

    I’d love to see the Greeks and Arabs stand up and fight as they have for so many centuries (not against each other). I love to witness more of the Slavic sense of struggle against this world and its darkness. We have yet to really see what the American spirit can do, but at our best we seem to be able to make odd combinations work together somehow inspite of ourselves. Each tradition has such a rich treasure of saints, fathers and mothers from whom we can learn.

  143. Dean Calvert says


    This is what the church has said about ethnic divisions:

    “We have concluded that when the principle of phyletism (i.e. ecclesiastical nationalism) is juxtaposed with the teaching of the Gospel and the constant practice of the Church, it is not only foreign to it, but also completely opposed, to it. We decree the following in the Holy Spirit: 1. We reject and condemn racial division, that is, racial differences, national quarrels and disagreements in the Church of Christ, as being contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the holy canons of our blessed fathers, on which the holy Church is established and which adorn human society and lead it to Divine piety. 2. In accordance with the holy canons, we proclaim that those who accept such division according to races and who dare to base on it hitherto unheard-of racial assemblies are foreign to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are real schismatics.” Constantinople…1872

    Read that last sentence particularly closely..“those who accept such division according to races and who dare to base on it hitherto unheard-of racial assemblies are foreign to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are real schismatics.

    This statement was issued by a synod in C’nople called to discuss the setting up of a Bulgarian parish, in Constantinople, which would be under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Bulgaria (rather than the EP). The sarcasm drips off the words. What they really wanted to say was, “Are you guys NUTS!”

    Personally, I think it is one of the proudest moments of the Orthodox Church…think about the time it was written…1872.

    This could have come out of the mouth of Martin Luther King…only it preceded him by 100 years!

    The Church has labelled these ethnic divisions a heresy…it’s just that simple.

    Best Regards,
    Dean Calvert

  144. Dean Calvert says


    re: As a convert, I may speak my mind, certainly, but I recognize that my words will not be received in the same manner as those from a cradle Orthodox. In a couple of my more cantankerous moments (usually with sympathetically-minded folks), I walked through the sanctuary and, pointing to the icons, noted the ethnic origins of the people depicted – the vast majority of whom were . . . Jewish.

    Just always remember this: If you had called ANY of those saints on the iconostasis “Greek” Orthodox you would have confused them, and if you had called them “Greeks” (or Hellenes) you would have just insulted them.

    That’s really pretty accurate, historically speaking (as long as you were pointing to saints living in the first 15 centuries of the church).

    Best Regards,

  145. Dean Calvert says

    First of all…my apologies to all for the 3 in a row postings…sorry!!!


    I just reread your post. I just wanted to tell you that your last sentence, “In the end, I do not want to find myself knowingly or unknowingly on the other side of the cross, undoing Pentecost and restoring Babel.” was about as powerful a statement as I’ve seen with regard to this issue.

    Wow…that is truly a breathtaking statement…”undoing Pentecost and restoring Babel”.

    Just my opinion..for what it’s worth.


  146. George Michalopulos says


    I agree. Particularly “restoring Babel” How do we do that in the Orthodox Church? Answer: when we force homogeneity, by forcing one universal language. Ergo, we should be celebrating the liturgy in every language of man in every region where humanity exists. What could be more opposite than Babel?

    that’s why I love you converts, you come up with the neatest paradigms and observations!

  147. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    I am now defined as a Phanariot for my outright protest of the insidious attempts by some to use their position as priest or hierarchy to silence the faithful. While I am not an official of the Orthodox Church I am bound by membership to protect it. This is the mandate of all the faithful the entire Body—”…because the protector of religion is the very body of the Church, even the people themselves…” (Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848). As St. John Chrysostomos writes it is a “fundamental ecclesiological truth that all members of the Church, in a certain way, constitute a continuous Synod of the People of God.” I stand firm as a “champion of the Faith,” and take seriously my duty.
    “…I want and pray, you to be wholly harsh and implacable with the heretics only in regard to cooperating with them or in any way whatever supporting their deranged belief. For I reckon it misanthropy and a departure from Divine love to lend support to error, that those previously seized by it might be even more greatly corrupted”. Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 91 col. 465c; as cited in The Panheresy of Ecumenism, by Metropolitan Cyprian of Orpos and Fili (Etna, CA: The Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1995), 32
    My intention and effort is for the “awakening those in the dark sleep of error and bringing them to repentance”. ( “The True Nature of Heresy,” 76-77)

  148. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Angela, the term “Phanariot” is not a pejorative. It’s a historical term that outlines the policy adopted the Ecumenical Patriarchate after the fall of Constantinople. The historian Sir Steven Runicman outlined the development of this policy in his epic work “The Fall of Constantinople 1453.” Two relevant paragraphs:

    It was good for the Church to have to meet an intellectual challenge; but the challenge was too abrupt. The strength of the Byzantine Church had been the presence of a highly educated laity that was deeply interested in religion. Now the laity began to despise the traditions of the Church; and the traditional elements in the Church began to mistrust and dislike modern education, retreating to defend themselves into a thickening obscurantism. The cleavage between the intellectuals and the traditionalists, which had begun when Neo-Aristotelianism was introduced into the curriculum of the Patriarchal Academy, grew wider. Under Phanariot influence many of the higher ecclesiastics followed the modernist trend. In the old days Orthodoxy had preferred to concentrate on eternal things and modestly to refuse to clothe the faith in trappings of modish philosophy. The Phanariots in their desire to impress the West had no use for such old-fashioned notions. Instead, seeing the high prestige of ancient Greek learning, they wished to show that they were, by culture as well as by blood, the heirs of ancient Greece. Their sons, lively laymen educated in the new style, were now filling the administrative posts at the Patriarchal court. As a result the Patriarchate began to lose touch with the great body of the faithful, to whom faith meant more than philosophy and the Christian saints more than the sophist of pagan times.

    Above all, the Phanariots needed the support of the Church in the pursuits of the ultimate political aim. It was no mean aim. The Megali Idea, the Great Idea of the Greeks, can be traced back to the days before the Turkish conquest…With the spread of the Renaissance a respect for the old Greek civilization had become general. It was natural that the Greeks, in the midst of their political disasters, should wish to benefit from it. They might be slaves now to the Turks, but they were of the great race that had civilized Europe. It must be their destiny to rise again. The Phanariots tried to combine the nationalistic forces of Hellenism in a passionate if illogical alliance with the ecumenical traditions of Byzantium and the Orthodox Church. They worked for a restored Byzantium, a New Rome that should be Greek, a new center 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 ecumenicity. 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, not 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 ecumenical. It must not become a purely Greek Church.

    Read the entire article: Nationalism and Greek Orthodoxy.

  149. Angela, while I appreciate and defended your objection to the use of inflammatory language as demeaning and uncharitable, it is probably more inflammatory to accuse others of heresy – whether directly or by presenting yourself as the lone protector/defender of the faith. If you’re going to pull that trigger, you should not be surprised that folks might fire back. If the goal is indeed to lead others to repentance, you need to present compelling reasons for a claim of that magnitude. Since “heresy” is the equivalent of capital punishment in spiritual terms, you should not be surprised if it arouses hostility. What follows is not martyrdom nor suffering persecution; it a response to a highly escalated provocation – not really all that different from your own reaction. Unfortunately, using the term heresy in an unsupported and promiscuous manner is tantamount to using the theological “big gun” to quash unpleasant opposition.

  150. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    This comment made on my blog might help to clarify the matter it is used with the permission of the author. I offer a brief insight into one of my papers with regards to OCA jurisdictional canonicityIn reading online blogs and the rhetoric from the “modern Day Iconoclasts” at AOI, OCL and elsewhere it seems to me that everybody is missing the point about ‘canonicity’ of the OCA. The problem truly lies with the Moscow Patriarchate. As everybody knows and agrees Jurisdiction is, put simply, a geographical boundary of a particular bishop. It is essential to mention that the “Golden Seal Certificate” of 1591 is the primary source of definition of the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate.The problem today in America goes back to the 16th century when the Moscow Patriarchate took it upon herself to expand her geographic territory along with the secular power of Czarist Russia.It was then, Moscow broke canon law in regards to America. The question is how can the ‘daughter’ church be jurisdictionally legitimate if the ‘mother’ church was not within her canonical authority to bestow it? Obviously there is a common communion the real issue is jurisdictional territory.The online thugs want to make it about: ethnicity, feeling unaccepted, self interest of the Holy Patriarchates or some other irrelevant issue like an individuals grammar… one priest goes so far as to say he won’t serve people pastorally because of their insistence on cultural identity, this smells of bigotry to me. What’s next no pastoral care because of skin tone? What’s worse is his pride in that evil position.The truth of the matter is in 1794 with the arrival of Kodiak Mission’s to supposed Czarist Alaska and part of the geographical jurisdiction of the Diocese of Irkutsk, a diocese well beyond the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate, the continental problem begins. As a foot note as early as 1528 Orthodox had come to other parts of the continent; Don Theodoro with the Narváez expedition in Florida, Ioannis Fokas sailed up Pacific coast under Spanish flag in 1592… so the idea Russians was here first is another scapegoat.As the situation in North America grew further complicated and communities began to bring their own clergy from other homelands, for example The first Greek Orthodox community in the Americas was founded in 1864 in New Orleans under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. By 1900 Moscow recognizing the developing issue of jurisdictional claims to the New World began flexing her political power and unilaterally abrogated Canon law again with no concern for other jurisdictions on the continent and continued further un-canonically expansion with the change to the name of Aleutian Islands and Alaska to Aleutian Islands and ‘North America’ thus attempting to claim, in an expansionist ideology well beyond its canonical geographic and territorial boundaries an entire continent, a new anomaly for Orthodoxy.Confusion grew even further when the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1908, temporarily transferred jurisdiction to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. This arrangement was maintained until 1918 and in 1917 Czarist Russia fell to the communists and the Moscow Patriarchate fell into turmoil. Creating yet another element into the mix.Anybody who claims the situation is as simple as “Moscow granted us autocephaly in 1970” so the conversation is over or tells the Holy Patriarchate of our Mother Churches “Hands off” is either delusion or ignorant to the facts which brought us to this current anomaly.We must pray for the Great Council and the holy mission which they will embark upon for only they can direct the future of this Holy Vessel.

  151. Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

    Angela, again, you are going to have to organize this better. Use paragraph breaks. There are simply too many assertions in this post; nothing is defended, expanded, or developed, it all just runs together and cascades down.

  152. Angela, I will re-read your comments with care, but the notion that anyone on this site (or OCL) is a modern day iconoclast is utterly unwarranted. The iconoclastic heresy effectively denied or denigrated matter in general and the humanity of Christ in particular. Nor can I see how this is in any way supported by the argument that follows.

    In addition, the argument that Czarist Russia “broke canon law” by reaching out to a population that was geographically proximate makes no sense. Constantinople was in no position to do so. No one else was. Should they have suffered without the gospel, then? Moreover, the notion that Russia, as an autocephalous Church should have to get authorization from the “mother Church” assumes a fairly papal notion of the EP – which is exactly the point in contention here. (This may explain why we seem to be talking past each other.) While you reject the validity of the MP’s historically clear claims to its mission in Northwestern North America, you simultaneously assert the prior claim of a Greek sailor under a Spanish (not EP) flag. (Did he have the EP’s authorization to establish that outpost? Presumably not, since the Spanish flag would have conveyed rights to a Roman Catholic country, and with it papal authority. If you doubt that, as them.

    Finally, if the collapse of the MP into chaos as a result of the revolution mitigates the authority of the MP, how is it any different from the imposition of almost tyrannical control over the Church in Constantinople by the Turks? Both suffered a martyrdom; both negotiated a politically perilous situation in order to protect, as best they could, their faithful, both have suffered terrible constraints imposed by hostile political authorities.

    The EP is certainly owed a place of historical honor. So are the other historical seats. But none of them received the authority to exercise administrative control later assumed by the pope. It was certainly not important enough in any historical sense if the best one can do is an incidental, highly qualified and historically-contentious canon. (This is not to diminish the value of the canon so much as to note that, if it were as important as folks claim, one would think it would have received a much clearer, more central expression in canon law. The fact that it did not is why we are even having this discussion.)

    I will, as I said, re-read your post to see what I may have missed. But my concern is that what we are seeing is a latter-day innovation being read back into history rather than the faithful expression of an ancient and commonly-understood practice. (If it was commonly-understood, there is a surprising paucity of evidence to support it.) Rather than tossing the “heresy” card back and forth, it may help to realize that the debate going on here is precisely about constitutes the “real” Orthodox understanding of patriarchal authority. Calling folks who oppose your position heretics begs the question, since that is the very issue in contention.

  153. Al Green says

    Re: 152

    ***This is a rather interesting discussion, but not one that I would have expected to find on a blog like this one. I WOULD not be surprised at such a discussion if one or more of the individuals claimed to be a member of one of those vagante Orthodox…you know…The Holiest Most Traditional and Absolutely Truest Old Calendar Orthodox Church in Exile and Resistence Inside and Outside North America and the Entire World!!


  154. Father Gregory’s blog cited this very helpful examination of the establishment of Orthodoxy in America: Jurisdictional Disunity and the Russian Mission

    That it is posted on the OCA’s website should not dissuade anyone; it appears to be a very honest and critical – and much less contentious – assessment of jurisdictional claims.
    h/t: Koinonia.

  155. Al, I know the type and I am certain you have the name about right. Invariably this holier and more authentic-than-thou congregation – all three of them – will soon undergo further schism (in order to rid themselves of even the slightest defilement) until there is exactly half of a person left (half, because he will be forced to denounce his sinful half-self). This is what happens when we become more focused on being “right” than on being faithful to God Who is Love.
    My apologies to all for posting so much.

  156. angela damianakis m.s.w says

    Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’. My only agenda is to defend to the best of my ability the sanctity and honor of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew l Archbishop of Constantinople and Pope of New Rome. Make no mistake that he and his role do not require defending or explaining but I am compelled to defend His All-Holiness as the head of my family. My duty is not derived from my own sense of perfection or innocence but more so from my Agape Christian Love and Loyalty. I do not take pride in my own words or ideas and sometime I unknowingly misspeak but I do so in good faith and without any personal or political agenda. I strive to educate myself in spiritual matters. ‘Holy things are for the Holy people of God’. My only regret is for the times I may have publicly or privately said or behaved in any manner which might reflect poorly on my Holy Mother Church. I am not angry or embittered I am merely defending my church not for egotistical reasons but because such disrespect for my church is paraded before my door. The entire situation is disheartening and saddening to me. It is horrific to bear witness to the falsehoods and salacious accusations that have been circulating. In His service, I remain, an unworthy servant of God.

  157. George, I just read your critique of the link I posted in #154. Well done and compelling.

  158. george michalopulos says

    Chrys, you are kind. I just posted another response to Fr Herbel’s response. Hopefully it will be posted soon.

  159. Dean Calvert says


    Re: Tower of Babel

    I just happened to bump into this article, entitled “Ethnic Identity, National Identity and the Search for Unity”, presented by Archbishop Makarios of Kenya, which made the following reference. I thought to myself, “He said it ALMOST as well as Chrys!” LOL…

    The unifying and transforming work of the Holy Spirit: In terms of our present discussion, concerning the search for human unity, a Byzantine kontakion which is chanted on the Orthodox Sunday of Pentecost is theologically most illuminating in terms of the post-Tower of Babel potential for a unified human condition initiated by Christ and confirmed by the Holy Spirit:

    When He came down and confused all the languages the Most High split the world into nations, when the tongues of fire to them He distributed, He called the world into unity, reasons then we glorify the All Holy Spirit.

    Here the Pentecost Event in the Upper Room in Jerusalem is seen as God’s reversal and undoing of the punitive measures taken at Babel. Through the “tongues of fire” and the speaking in various human tongues” the potential for the linguistic reunification of humanity is again made possible through the unifying operations of the Holy Spirit. Among other works the Holy Spirit possesses a creative force to transform and renew. The Pentecost Event transformed the disciples into bold witnesses for Christ by renewing their hearts and mind. This transforming “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is capable of transfiguring human hearts and making enemies friends and brothers. The Church needs therefore in its search for human unity to consistently experience the empowering anointing of the apostolic Pentecost and become a faithful instrument of the Holy Spirit in action, the very same Holy Spirit at work in Jesus Christ.

    Read the entire article.

    This article was originally posted on the website of the patriarchate of Alexandria. Not sure if it is still there.

    Best Regards,

  160. Eliot Ryan says

    I doubt the honesty of the EP’s concern regarding the present canonical irregularities the United States.
    The EP sent representatives in the first and founding general assembly of the WCC (1948). The reaction was a strong protest from ten leaders and representatives of the Autocephalous Churches. Even back than it was obvious that the WCC is aiming towards the creation of an “Ecumenical Church.”

    The ever-memorable Father Justin Popovich characterized the WCC as “a heretical, humanistic, man-made, man-worshipping association” and regarded the position of the Orthodox towards the ecumenical movement and the WCC as “deplorably and hideously at odds with Holy Tradition, slavishly degrading the Holy Church” (Full text of the Memorandum in Koinonia, March-April 1975, pp. 95-101; also in Orthodoxos Typos, No. 235/June 1, 1975, and in Orthodoxos Enstasis kai Martyria, Nos. 18-21/January-December 1990, pp. 166-173.)

    At the WCC’s 60th anniversary the Ecumenical Patriarch,

    “often referred to as the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox, said he envisioned a future that will enable “a new generation of labourers to flourish in the ecumenical vineyard” and that retains a foundation of the “three pillars” of unity, witness, and service on which the WCC was built.”

    The Orthodox World should be concerned with the ecumenical “movment”/ heresy. A systematic study of the “canonical irregularities” of the EP’s actions would better benefit Orthodoxy. This needs to be done before the “holy and great” synod.

    The position of the EP gives us some sense of where they are going: a united Christianity and aiming ultimately at one universal religion, a “pan-religion.” that would fit in the model of a single united humanity (globalism). This is without doubt an utopian view, an ideology.

  161. Michael Bauman says

    Angela said in #156:

    My only agenda is to defend to the best of my ability the sanctity and honor of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew l Archbishop of Constantinople and Pope of New Rome

    I get your point, Angela. I am in total disagreement with it. I find your position to be archaic nonsense without grace or love. Continuing to post with such a petulant attitude only confirms to me your unwillingness to listen or to really search for the the will of God in our mess.

    I have never questioned that the EP has a significant role to play in assisting Orthodox unity in the United States. I would welcome with joy any constructive action. So far, it has either rejected that role or actively worked against any unity with a dogged obtuseness, seeking unity with Rome in the meantime.

    What about Jesus Christ? What about the Church? What about salvation for all peoples? Do we worship in spirit and in truth or are we Samaritans?

    If the actions of the EP are of God, they will bear Godly fruit. If not, they and the EP will wither. Just as the possibility that the AOCA may well implode because of the ungodly actions of Met. Philip; or the near destruction of the OCA by the ungodly actions of her hierarchs.

    Continuing to post in the style of writing you choose means, to me, that you don’t really wish to communicate. You merely want to be bombastic and inciting. You do not appear to be concerned with ideas and their consequences, only with how you feel. Your style of writing reflects that. You appeal to and write from the passions not with a desire to acquire the Holy Spirit so that we may know the Truth together.

    Your attitude and approach merely strengthens the idea that GREEKS don’t care about the Church or the people in the United States, only about the GREEKS.

  162. Scott Pennington says

    There seems to be this false and evil notion operating out there that all jurisdictions besides Constantinople are confined to certain canonical boundaries and Constantinople’s boundaries (I assume by virtue of Canon 28) are not really boundaries at all but the rest of the world outside of the jurisdictions of local churches. So when those defenders of the Phanar suggest that other jurisdictions like the ROC are breaking canon law by forming missions outside their canonical territory they rely on canons which say that no Church should interfere in the canonical territory of another Church.

    Canon 28 simply does not mean what they suggest it does. We who know this to be true then read their assertions about Churches not engaging in any missionary efforts beyond their canonical jurisdictions and are left scratching our heads: Did a council somehow negate the Great Commission? How is Orthodoxy supposed to spread if not by Churches sending missions outside their jurisdiction?

    I am convinced that the Phanar’s interpretation of Canon 28, minted under Patriarch Meletios IV, is simply a bald faced lie. They know it has no basis in the text or subsequent history but they say it anyway, hoping that by saying it long enough it will gain gradual acceptance and become a Known Fact – – which it appears to have become in the Greek community, if not anywhere else. They do not think of it as a lie. They think of it as the Greek Church taking up for itself, an unfortunate political game which hierarchs (they probably believe) must engage in. This is very unfortunate.

    Russia’s mission work here is only uncanonical if this territory belonged to another Orthodox Church. Since Canon 28 (contrary to the disingenuous assertions of the faculty of Holy Cross) did not give all barbarian territory everywhere to the EP (and certainly not “explicitly” so, as the HC faculty misleadingly asserted), then the America’s belonged to nobody and everybody. All things should be done in an orderly manner and so the Churches should coordinate and decide the authority structure here. They have not. Earlier, there is considerable evidence of widespread acknowledgment of Russian jurisdiction here, but the Bolshevik Revolution intervened.

    In short, Constantinople is flat out lying. They know it’s a lie and they say it anyway because if it were to be accepted it would give them power. It’s that simple.

    The arrogance involved here is astounding. The only time that I have ever encountered such arrogance is in reading certain assertions of Roman Catholics with regard to other Christians (including the Orthodox).

    In fact, the whole thing is eerily reminiscent of Rome. The EP constantly referring to itself as the “Mother Church”, boasting that it deigned to bestow autocephaly on this or that Church, etc.

    If there is a Mother Church it is Jerusalem. Constantinople was not at all notable before the capital of the Empire was moved there in the fourth century. Tell me again, which Apostles preached, lived or died there? It inherited primacy by default when Rome fell into heresy. It was Uniate for a period. It claims the sole perogative to grant autocephaly without any canonical basis whatsoever. Today there is no Constantinople, only Istanbul, run by secular and Muslim Turks, who may well not allow the Patriarchate to survive on their territory. This hardly justifies a place of preeminence as measured by the criterion of the Fathers who elevated it on the basis of its imperial status.

    Those Greeks in the Phanar and in this country who defend this nonsense need to wake up and let it go before they cause a permanent rupture in relations with the other Orthodox. It makes them all look either delusional, dishonest or so tied to ethnocentric mythology that they can’t be trusted. There is no Eastern Pope and there is not going to be.

  163. George Michalopulos says

    Angela, re #150. this is when things start getting desperate. The legend of “Don Theodoro” is a canard. If he existed, and if he was Greek, he was probably a Catholic. As far as Ioannis Fokas, he died in the Roman faith. As a Greek-American, I resent the laughable attempts of people to make fools of my civilization by asserting claims that are false. We have enough to be proud of, there is no reason to resort to lies and legends to buttress our contribution to humanity.

  164. Michael Bauman says

    The bottom line here is that history is not Tradition. We all tend to confuse the two, but if we want clarity and truth, we’ve got to separate the confusion.

  165. 162: “This hardly justifies a place of preeminence as measured by the criterion of the Fathers who elevated it on the basis of its imperial status.”
    So far as my (obviously limited) reading indicates, this is true for the most part. The lack of direct Apostolic foundation was, as I recall, a bit of a scandal in the original elevation of the city’s bishop to patriarchal status. Although other factors are important, if we were to apply this same criteria today, primacy would be given to . . . Washington.

  166. George Michalopulos says

    Chrys, absolutely correct. Read my response to Fr. Lambrianides (just drink a cup of coffee first, reasoned analyses tend to not be exciting).

  167. cynthia curran says

    Well, I probably have the worst grammer and spelling among the people that post here. I probably should pay more attention to my mispellings, typos and grammer. As a child I learn to read and write at a later age than normal which makes writing for me more difficult than most people here. Like Dean I also like Byzantine history since the Byzantines were apart of the Roman Empire. I started having a interest in Roman history back in 7th grade and bcame intersted in Byzantine history much later.

  168. cynthia curran says

    Angela, you did make some good points about the fact that some Greeks were in the United States prior to the Russians, so the Greeks have just as much as a claim as the Russians do. You also pointed out two good acts by the Ecumentical Patriarchate considering the Halki Theological school and the Hospital at Barulki.

  169. George Michalopulos says


    Actually, the Greeks were not in the US prior to the Russians. Our claim to fame (I’m Greek and proud of it) is Holy Trinity parish in Neo Orleans. It was founded during the War Between the States in 1864 in land that was under Union martial law (Louisianna) in which the citizens of that state were disenfranchised.

    Plus, the first priest was a Ukrainian (and we’re not really sure about his credentials) and the majority of the parish was Serbian. In addition, there was no Greek jurisdiction in the US operating at that time anyway. Although this parish was founded 3 yrs prior to SF, there was a Russian episcopal presence, administration and yes, diocese, in North America.

  170. Isa Almisry says

    Gets better: not to belittle Holy Trinity NO (a lovely parish, and full of Southern Hospitality as I found out last year: in my dream Synod, its bishop would be the Metroopolitan of the South, defender of the Greek usage), but Honcharenko came because the Russian warship Alexander Nevsky had stopped in Athens from NO, and informed the CoG of the NO parish founded by the Greek Consul (the Greek counsul in SF, btw, helped founded the future HTC (OCA), the roots predated HTC in 1864). Honcharenko ended up demanding an antimens in SF>

    Btw, since according to the EP line, the CoG has no business being in North America until 1908, according to them Honcharenko was uncanonical, not matter the state of his credentials.

  171. George Michalopulos says

    Isa, I agree with your assessment of HT in NO. It is a lovely parish. My wife’s got kin there. “Metropolitan of the South”? I like it! I’ve even got a crest I’ve been working on. It’s borrowed from the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia –don’t panic all: the bars are taken from the Cross of St Andrew.

    Anyway, back to reality: the whole Honcharenko angle never ceases to amaze me. Once on this site, I was told that the ROC had no right to be out of its borders (i.e. Canada, lower 48) because the Golden Seal which granted Russia its patriarchate back in 1549 (I think) confined that church to the borders of Russia (however you define Russia –its borders were fluid, that’s what happens with empires).

    Anyway, the same thing happened to the Church of Greece. It was begrudgingly granted autocephaly by C’pole in 1850 (over the protestations of the ROC I might add, who were on the side of the EP). Like the Golden Seal, Greece’s national church was to be confined to its borders as well.

    BUT GUESS WHAT?!! OK, I’ll tell you: The EP conveniently forgot this little stricture in 1908 and “granted” the CoG the overlordship of all Greek parishes in North America. Now, this is really rich isn’t it? But it gets better: According to the EP’s earlier stricture against the CoG, Holy Trinity could not be canonical because it was “founded” by the CoG according to the “new historians.”

    It’s not that they can’t have it both ways, they can’t have it ANYway. And of course, your own research really fills in the picture even better.

    I once heard a sardonic criticism of some molecular biologist. His detractor said, “it’s not that he’s not right, he’s not even wrong.”

    Anyway, not that any of this matters to ideologues. Certain folks (like Lambriniades, the whole GOA/Phanar axis, & the guy who does Mystagogy, thanks for the heads-up btw) are content to delude themselves that the Phanar is the Eastern Papacy.

    I think we all need to re-read Bradley Nassif’s excellent esaay, that the duty of a bishop is to preach the Gospel.

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