Thinking about the bulletin insert on the Green Patriarch’s visit…

Pardon my skepticism but does anyone else find the effusive praise in the handout to Greek Orthodox parishioners last Sunday overbearing? The author tries so hard to convince us of Patriarch Bartholomew’s stratospheric virtues that the entire piece has an “Our Dear Leader” feel to it. It reads, I am sad to say, like propaganda.


Strong words? Yes, but only because the endless strings of ebullient praise muddles other very important points. While Pat. Bartholomew’s stand on the protection of the environment should be applauded, and while he has done much to raise awareness that environmental care is an issue to which Christians can contribute, it does not follow that all of his actions surrounding “creation care” (as some of the participants in the Mississippi River Symposium refer to it) are sound.

For example, as part of Pat. Bartholomew’s environmental program in the United States later this month, he plans a visit to Georgetown University to deliver a talk co-sponsored by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a George Soros funded think-tank originally developed as Hillary Clinton’s cabinet-in-waiting, but now a center of far-left cultural activism. We can say, and CAP would probably agree, that CAP’s sole function is to promote the ideas of “Progressives” — the far left — including moral issues that an Orthodox Christian could never adopt and still remain true to the moral tradition.

Of course, this is America and support of these issues is fair game. America has no institution of moral adjudication so the vexing moral questions end up being debated loudly in the public square, including think tanks. But should the Ecumenical Patriarch be lending his moral authority to CAP with a speech? I don’t think so. It simply is not appropriate for a religious leader of his standing to do that. I object not only because the positions CAP holds on the great moral questions are different than my own. A visit to, say, the Heritage Foundation whose views are closer to mine would be just as inappropriate.

Why throw in with CAP? Why align yourself so closely with George Soros (no friend of religion, nation-states, or free markets)? Why risk the diminution of an already fragile moral authority by lending it to those who hold religion in disdain, and whose policies contradict the Orthodox moral tradition?

You can be sure that Pope Benedict would never make such a blunder, but then the Pope seems to have a better grasp of moral leadership than the EP. The Pope recognizes the crisis in Western culture is primarily moral and has spoken out forcefully against the cultural rot. We don’t see the same breadth and consistency from the EP. In fact, all too often we see the lauding of politicians who in their public lives foster the culture of death. The EP will do that again in his visit to Washington next month. Compromise trumps conviction time and again, at least in some parts of the Orthodox Church.

Perhaps the overbearing praise attempts to cover these persistent lapses. But that too, is a miscalculation. We are Americans. We don’t do well with monarchical pretensions. And while many hierarchs still govern their flocks with the medieval sensibility that the mitre confers a divine right of kings, Americans (responsible ones anyway) understand that ideas have consequences, and that a bad idea is still a bad idea even if a hierarch promotes it.

For example, Pat. Bartholomew urges passage of the UN Protocols on Climate Change. I wasn’t aware that the Phanar had a Ministry of Science, but someone needs to tell them that global warming is hardly settled science. Further, global warming is as much an economic issue as a scientific one. Again, the Pope wisely distances himself from global warming, realizing perhaps that fads sweep through the scientific community as easily as they do the larger culture.

Although some in the media have taken to calling Benedict the “the Green Pope” for his recent pronouncements, the Vatican’s witness on the environment is more carefully thought out than the Phanar’s. Most significantly, the Vatican has taken great care to distance itself from any environmental movement that threatens the sanctity of life. It also ties its environmental ethic to human and social development. In other words, Benedict and his advisers understand that environmental questions are bound up with economic and social factors — and all are profoundly moral issues.

Could it be that the EP just does not understand American culture? It doesn’t seem likely. Pat. Bartholomew is an educated and well-traveled man. He must have some sense that although Americans can be patient with the trappings of authority, we don’t follow a leader just because underlings make appeals to his putative virtues.

Who is at fault here then? His handlers? Could it be that the author of the piece and other advisers, really believe that talking to CAP is a good move for the EP; that it won’t in the long run diminish his authority; and that support for policies like the Copenhagen Protocols won’t in the long run make him appear he is speaking to issues out of his league?

It’s hard for me to believe that the ignorance would run so deep; that they can’t see that the road the EP is following might win him some support in the short run, but will inevitably lead to a lessening of his authority down the road. On the other hand, perhaps they don’t understand from where moral authority is drawn. If that’s the case, they will confuse political with moral authority and we are in worse trouble than we think.

Whatever the case, the entire enterprise seems woefully misguided. No amount of effusive praise can cover bad ideas and the author is foolish to think we can’t see through it. The Ecumenical Patriarch needs to think this one through again.


  1. One of your last phrases hit the nail on the head, Fr. Jacobse.

    “…they will confuse political with moral authority and we are in worse trouble than we think.”

    We are in worse trouble than is being let on. Truth is, the EP could solve the unity issue by simply moving to America. Who would not throw in with him at that point? However, without an historical political relationship here, he clearly feels he would lessen his ‘moral’ authority. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    One must not forget that the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as it became politicized, is littered with hierarchs who are now known as heretics – false teachers. His ecclesial arguments are intellectually dishonest (and that’s putting it very kindly).

    But then again, Orthodox unity is one of the last things on his agenda, and it is a political, not moral, agenda.

    Again, I ask, what about this ‘tour’ is Apostolic?

    Again, I answer, “nothing.”

  2. Isa Almisry says

    I’m curious, was the handout in Greek or English?

  3. I think what we are seeing today is end result of decades of omogenia (race) before Orthodoxy. This mentality has so hollowed out Greek Orthodoxy in America that the community functions more like a college fraternity than the body of Christ.

    The emphasis on Green Patriarch, Greek Festivals, personal wealth, material success, and political power are the new language of this community. I am fairly convinced that generations have been so dumbed down by all of this to the point that how they feel about their faith is more important than being right about their faith. Its a twisted Greek version of therapeutic deism and relativism. You can believe or do anything you want as long as you do not challege the omogenia (race).

    Without a doubt I think you can make the argument that the EP and Greek Orthodoxy in America are fundamentalists. Maybe not fundamentalists in the way we think of Bible toting Protestants, but fundamentalists in a fashionable way in that they have succumbed to popular political and social currents as well as ethnic chauvinism. There is no mechanism in Greek Orthodoxy to self correct, self criticize or ask serious questions. You either go along with the omogenia (race) mentality or you get attacked (Believe me I know firsthand and I bet many here know first hand as well).

    When I read the above referenced bulletin insert. I see a Church that is afraid of the truths of the Gospel. It is a Church that has by its own volition surrendered its prophetic witness, call to evangelize, and authentic cultural heritage. The omogenia mentality we see today is a counterfeit Greek culture and Potemkin Village that hides a hollow culture.

    During his upcoming visit to America, the EP will visit the place of Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis. Maybe, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the many leaders present should consider these words from Dr. King taken from A Letter from A Birmingham Jail

    There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

    But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.

  4. Chistopher says

    On the surface, we have to remember that the EP does believe he is bringing the “colony of heaven” to bear in that he (and his “handlers”) truly believe in their version of “stewardship” on the environment. The fact that this happens to be aligned with the current societal self image all the better – he thinks he can do a real good here.

    Deeper of course, there is a real problem however. Why do some see this as the clumsy compromise with the current secular culture that “stewardship” movement really is and not others? Specific to Orthodoxy, why is the “traditionalist”/liberal divide that has literally broken the back of Protestants/western Christendom (and would the RC’s if not for their strong centralizing ecclesiology – and still could) now showing itself so transparently in the Eastern Church?

    Perhaps it is time to admit that due to historical circumstances Orthodoxy may have been behind the curve, but a real and lasting fissure has formed. This fissure may not have the exact outline and details of those that occurred in the west, but the essentials are the same.

    The history of the last 200 years or so of the west reveals that most believers do not recognize the fissure until it is far too late – usually when the moral innovations are truly radical (homosexualism being fully accepted by “Christians”, etc.).

    I know most of us will want to believe that the EP’s essential Orthodoxy and Christianity is not compromised. I want to believe it, but yet we have be honest and recognize that the fissure is real and that a lack of discernment and moral confusion is a real sign that these Christians have lost something essential in Christianity…

  5. Benedict and his advisers understand that environmental questions are bound up with economic and social factors — and all are profoundly moral issues.

    For the sake of rounding out the discussion, this is the Catholic rationale from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace…


    Does the Orthodox Church have a similar document?


  6. But should the Ecumenical Patriarch be lending his moral authority to CAP with a speech? I don’t think so.

    I would say let’s wait and hear what he says to that group. After all, we need only consider the precedent of the speech given in Havana; now there was a powerful example of “speaking truth to power.”
    Oh wait, that was the Pope.
    Never mind.

  7. Wesley J. Smith says

    Fr, bless:

    Perhaps it is just a matter of sidling up to the perceived power structure, a problem for Orthodoxy over the years, I think.

    • Chistopher says

      As I say in post 4 it has several more important dimensions than simply a crass or unthinking attraction to perceived worldly power. Does the secular “moral” determination of human induced global warming and change of the environment automatically = “bad” and does it necessarily lead a Christian to the same moral determination (answer: no)? Even if one accepts the science (a problem in of itself) does a Christian have the same attitude towards human freedom and will in the economic sphere as would a historical determinist like Marx or a secular socialist engineer like a generalized socialist/statist (answer: no)?

      These are things instinctively understood and recoiled at by traditionalist or classical Christians (even if not well articulated by the majority) yet mysteriously absent from the EP’s thinking(and SCOBA’s – see:‘social-justice’-in-an-age-of-globalization/ )

  8. I am very much in agreement with the critique given in the above article
    to the Ecumenical Patriarch’s association with think tanks and other
    secular minded interests. I can only surmise that this is yet one more
    aspect of the tragedy playing out at the Phanar. I am guessing but the
    Patriarch is so desperate to improve his situation in Turkey, he is
    asking for support from anyone he can find it, even those whose interests
    are contrary to the Orthodox Church. This is another version perhaps of
    the Council of Florence where the Church surrendered the Orthodox faith.

    It is interesting Father that you cited the Pope, who is unquestionably
    a moral leader. We do not necessarily have to look outside Orthodoxy for
    real leadership. The Church of Greece has been addressing world events
    and moral issues from a truly Orthodox perspective and in contrast to
    the Phanar without the political correctness.

    The late Archbishop Christodoulos was a fine Archbishop and theologian
    who frequently talked about the effects of globalization on religious
    faith, the problems emanating from organized crime, and the problems of
    the lack of morality emanating from secularism. Some time ago, I was
    browsing on the Church of Greece website and was examining the positions
    of the Holy Synod of Greece and was quite impressed with the various
    Bishops who have formed committees to examine various biological and
    other issues from a moral perspective.

    The late Archbishop Christodoulos was well loved by the people of Greece
    and most importantly by the youth. Many young people in Greece who had
    strayed returned to the Church as a result of the interest the late
    Archbishop took in their lives.

    The problem in my view with the Phanar is that his holiness talented as
    he may be is primarily interested in his own Patriarchate as
    opposed to Orthodoxy. The real interest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
    is in reflecting the common viewpoints and teaching of all the Orthodox,
    and the fact that the Phanar has moved away from this role is something
    I find troubling and painful as an admirer of the Church of
    Constantinople and its great history.

    The Patriarchate in my opinion is being poorly served by many of its
    representatives. I hope I am wrong, but I do not believe this visit will
    amount to anything.

    I think the Ecumenical Patriarchate should consider exile in Greece
    (as it was in exile after the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204)
    where it will have a real flock and the influence of the Church of Greece
    upon it will have a desired effect.

    The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad should be a possible model for the
    Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Church Abroad went into exile and became
    a voice for the Russian Church and faithful when the Russian Bishops
    could not speak. The Ecumenical Patriarchate should leave Turkey and
    stop trying to curry favors from either the Turks or the western
    governments and should concentrate on preserving Orthodox Unity.

    One of the problems contributing to the Phanar’s continued decline has
    been the involvement of western governments with it. At the Treaty of
    Lausanne, the British and the French pressured the Turks to keep it in
    Constantinople without giving it any real rights or protections for its

    The US government similarly has blocked Turkey from expelling the
    Patriarchate for its own ends which were primarily to curb the influence
    of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    There is an article from a 2005 article at National Review Online cowritten
    by a Turkish woman which openly supports the dismemberment of the Church of
    Russia at

    The fact remains that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a hostage to the
    repressive climate in Turkey, and I think this has led the Phanar to
    concentrate on these problems before anything else. In effect, the
    Great Church is being used by secular interests, and not for the first

    Steven Runciman wrote about the tragic Patriarch Cyril Lukaris who was
    being manipulated by Calvinest Diplomats in Constantinople while the
    Jesuits themselves had also attempted to influence the Phanar.

    That is what is ocurring today. The secular powers today are attempting
    to influence all religions in general including the Orthodox Church.
    The Phanar is vulnerable where it presently is.


  9. To John Panos,

    If the Patriarch moves, he should not move to America. Nicholas Gvosdev
    made an excellent point years ago that in American the Ecumenical
    Patriarchate would lose its prominence and become just one more religious
    institution in a country that had thousands of different religious sects.

    Also, America is the home of a native Orthodox Church.

    The best location for the Ecumenical Patriarchate is Greece in a
    status of exile as it was during the years of the Latin occupation of
    Constantinople (1204-1261). There is a real precedent here for the
    Patriarchate’s temporary move.

    Its claim would forever be Constantinople but in so much as that is not
    possible, Greece is the best choice.


  10. To Andrew,

    I am a very nationalistic Greek active on Greek issues and I do not at all
    fit the definition that you use to describe the Greek Orthodox Church in

    The Phanar and the GOA are not by any means reflective of Greek Orthodox
    in general. The GOA has the ability to infuriate just as many Greeks as
    it does non-Greeks. It is not a “Greek” Church, it is an ethnic Church.
    There is a huge difference.

    And the Phanar has succeeded in antagonizing the Church of Greece itself
    and many of the faithful of Greece when it severed communion briefly with
    the Archbishop of Athens back in 2004.

    When I visit Greece I see a huge difference between the Church there and
    the GOA here. I could not envision any Bishop in either Greece or Cyprus
    going along with the agenda that the Phanar is presently endorsing.


  11. cynthia curran says

    Well, the Patriarch reminds me of one protestant fundamentalist, the late 19th and early 20th century presidential candidate Williams Jennings Byrant. In Byrant’s day, the enviroment was a new cause but Byrant wanted to nationalized the railroads,this happen with passenger, and switch from gold to silver, so credit would be more available to farmers, and opposed World War one, I might have if I were alive myself. Something that the Patriarch is involved with a Soros think tank like Byrant represented the left of his day. Just simalarities between both men in the political sphere.

  12. George Michalopulos says

    Fr Hans, is it possible that in criticizing the “handlers” of the EP, we are proceeding from an erroneous premise? I think Andrew is on to something when he talks about the “homogeneia/race” paradigm. I say this guardedly and with much discernment (I hope), that these self-same handlers are men of attenuated faith at best. Not unlike the RC church of Rennaisance Italy. That is men for whom Christianity was nothing but pomp, ritual, protocol and access to secular power. Otherwise, why would they let someone like Soros (a man with no conscience if there ever was one: as a Jew in Hungary during WWII, he ratted Jewish families to the Waffen SS), organize and probably subsidize this entire event? You’re right: why not go to Heritage or CATO foundations as well? Why not the Hoover Institution? (I guess it’s not all bad, he could be going to the UN.)

    I was looking for some kind of confirmation before I responded, but unwittingly Theodoros provided it to me when he contrasted the Church of Greece with the GOA/Phanar. When I was in Greece in 2000, I witnessed a genuine Christian revival that was ecumenical in the best sense of the word (not racialist/nationalist/xenophobic). Obviously things have gone south somewhat since then, but the difference between Christodoulos and the Orthodox scene there and here in the GOA was palpable.

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here (and boy, do I hope I’m wrong): I worry that if this trip is a PR bonanza, then his Laodicean stance on the sanctity of life may, just may, tip the scales in the Congress regarding the passage of universal health care WITH abortion coverage. In other words, his prestige (though limited) can be used by the ultra-leftists to counter the Catholic bishops’ and the Evangelical’s opposition to their present schemes.

    Now please understand, I don’t think that this trip is going to be a PR extravaganza, and I’m fully aware that we Orthodox are marginal at best here in the US, however, the partisans of Obamacare and secularism in general are feeling a dramatic pushback at present. They may just be desperate enough to look for any support from any quarter to get the ball over the goal line.

    P.S. “Letter from a Birgimingham Jail” should be required reading from every GOA pulpit. We’ve got to overcome the concept of Orthodoxy as a big fat Greekist glendi.

    • George,

      The only chance for a PR extravaganza for this visit was lost when the EP was denied the Nobel Peace Prize. I also do not think the EP has nearly the gravitas to influence a political or Social Issue in America -so healthcare is a non starter. Remember he can’t get a simple sit down at the White House on his own and needs CAPs John Podesta to arrange a visit/quick photo with Obama. That says it all right there.

      Btw, does anyone know if the EP is really going to see Obama at all?

      My major fear is that having missed out on the Nobel and having a small amount of political influence, the EP will try to pull some stunt which garners a substantial amount of press. This means his rhetoric could go off the deep end in an effort to get some headlines. Although its going to be hard to outdo +Demetrios’ Alexander the Great comment.

      Let us not fear however, the EP/GOA tradition of buffoonery always finds a way to exceed expectations.

      George, I was thinking the other day that we should have a friendly wager. How about donating $5.00 to a worthy American Orthodox cause for every time the EP says OMOGENIA during his “Apostolic” visit. It can be a pledge drive of sorts. Others can participate as well and we can keep tabs on the OMOGENIA count here at AOI.

      An Omogenia here and an Omogenia there can add up you know………

  13. To Andrew

    The Patriarch will be going to the White House. This is the very basis
    of the Patriarch’s trip since he was invited by Obama when he was in
    Turkey last April.

    As a Greek I must add I have no problem with the repeated criticisms of
    the Phanar and the GOA which are quite valid and accurate, but as someone
    who considers himself part of the “omogenia” I see no need to ridicule
    the term or the reference.

    A distinction must be made between the Phanar-Goa and Greeks in general.
    The cause of Orthodox unity will not be served by denigrating what Greeks
    including myself value with regard to our history and customs etc. and
    confusing that with the Phanar and the GOA.


    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

      I agree with this Theodoros. The legacy of (Cappadocian) Hellenism is Western Civilization. These are ideals, not located in personages, except of course Jesus Christ, the one from whom the Cappadocians received their wisdom.

      Subsuming the Hellenistic ideals to ethnicity is the reason we see such missteps like feting culture of death politicians, lending moral authority to totalitarian dictators like Fidel Castro, servile flatteries like comparing Pres. Obama to Alexander the Great, making cultural alliances with people like George Soros or organizations like the Center for American Progress, and so forth. When the ideals are subsumed to ethnicity, moral clarity diminishes.

      The West owes a lot to the Greeks. But it does not follow that we should accept the subsuming of the Hellenistic ideals to ethnicity because these ideals flourished in the West too. Where, for example, can you locate developments like the Magna Carta or the US Constitution in the Christian East? Where do you find the respect for the conscience of the individual (granted, often misunderstood and misused — the substitution of moral license for liberty for example) as well developed as you do in the Declaration of Independence? These, I argue, are the legacy of Hellenism, but even more precisely — the leaven of the Gospel of Jesus Christ brought into the world through the preaching of the Apostle Paul in Greece through the work of the Cappadocians.

      What we face here is the difference between, say, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “The Charioteer” — tawdry comedy and something that touches the unseen verities. (How many clergy objected to the sexualization of baptism in MBFGW? And doesn’t the silence over the profaning of the primary sacramental event of our Orthodox faith in order to promote an ethnic comedy reveal our decadence?)

      Much needs to be recovered.

    • John Couretas says

      Theodoros: I would be grateful for some insight on what the term omogenia means in Greece. Does it carry any connotations there that it doesn’t have here? How has Greece’s demographic transformation, wrought by immigration, changed the meaning of the term, if at all? And tell us a little bit, if you would, about your background. Many thanks.

      From Marylin Rouvelas’ book:

      For generations, seagoing Greeks told stories to their families of faraway places where their ships had docked. These stories invariably included meeting patriótes (fellow countrymen) in restaurants and at card tables in exotic places. Years ago these chance
      encounters seemed wondrous. A Greek could travel halfway around
      the world and find a fellow Greek speaking the mother tongue
      and sharing common friends and relatives from a village or town
      in Greece. These transplanted Greeks comprised the Greek Diaspora
      still thriving throughout the world. According to a Greek government
      ministry, “[M]ore than five million Greeks (or more than half
      of Greece’s domestic population) live outside of Greece’s borders.”

      The word, Diaspora, is one of various Greek terms commonly
      used when referring to Greeks living outside Greece. Diaspora
      comes from the Greek word, diaspora, which means “scattering.”
      Another word, omogenia, translates as “same birth.” (The English word, “homogeneous” comes from this root.) The Greek government
      uses the term Apodimos Ellinismos (Greeks Abroad) for the
      General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad, a department of the Foreign
      Affairs Ministry created to interface with Hellenes in other
      parts of the world. In this text the term Diaspora is used according
      to the Oxford English Dictionary definition: “a dispersion, as
      of people of a common national origin or of common beliefs.”
      However, this seemingly simple term, “Diaspora,” creates controversy
      among the Greeks. Some of the controversies are semantic
      or academic, relating to the circumstances of settlement and migration.
      On a personal level, some individuals take exception to the
      term as not describing their own condition or attitudes. For
      instance, some Greek Americans say they are Americans of Greek
      ancestry, not Diaspora Greeks.

    • Theodoros,

      Please accept my apologies for any offense. My emotions do get the better of me. I think we can both agree that the best of Greek Culture has shaped the best of our world. This is indisputable. I think we can also argue that what passes for “Greek Culture” in the USA is an embarassment to the history of a very blessed people -your ancestors and my cultural ancestors. After all your ancestors brought the Gospel to my Ancestors and gave them the gift of culture.

      Nonetheless, how sould people of mixed and diverse backgrounds respond when they sit in the pews of Churches and hear Omogenia? It has very much become a term used to exclude rather than include. As you are a man much more connected to Greek Culture than I am can you offer a translation of this phrase and an insight as to how it used in Greece today. Maybe you gave us some key context here -especially Christian context.

      I take the word to mean literally “same genes” aka “same race”, “same kind” etc. In my worst fears I see the word omogenia in a highly negative that is more racial that cultural. Omogenia to me is a term alien to the very essence of the Gospel.

      • To Andrew

        No need to apologize, I understand your frustrations with the GOA.
        My own understanding and interpretation of the term “omegenia” is
        one more to do with “nation” rather than “race”. And I agree with
        you with you that if it does come to signify exclusion rather than
        inclusion, the term should be dropped. There is no justification
        for excluding people and on this I am highly critical of the

        But if the Patriarch is addressing a Greek audience I do not see
        a problem with the word, he is speaking as someone who loves his
        Greek heritage.

        The Patriarchs of Moscow likewise a sentimental feeling for
        Russianness, and the late Pope John Paul II loved his native
        Poland and it would be like the late Pope speaking before a
        Polish American audience.


      • Dean Calvert says


        In what I consider to be an irony of ironies, it has always mystified me how the word “Hellenism” has been distorted (from it’s original meaning) to become almost a racist term.

        If you read about the origins of this term, it goes back to the time of Alexander the Great, who was roundly criticized (by his own officers) for attempting to unite the peoples of Greece and Persia – beginning with the marriage of hundreds of Macedonian officers to Persian brides. Alexander imagined the ideal of a common front of the civilized peoples of the world against the darkness of the barbarians.

        The term, as originally used, was one of inclusiveness – nothing like what it has been turned into today.

        Such a shame – huh?

        Best Regards,

  14. George Michalopulos says

    Theodoros, you are absolutely right about the distinction between the Phanar/GOA elites and Hellenes in general. They’ve done their darndest to besmirch a proud legacy. Of course, what could we expect, their in thrall to a quasi-Islamic/secular Turkish government. That’s who pulls their strings, make no mistake about it. The sooner we Greek-Americans understand this, the better. last March 25th’s grovel-session at the White House was just one instance in a long line of cringe-inducing history, going all the way back to 1453.

    As for who should take up the cause of the real omogeneia (at least those who are free-born), I see no reason why Hellenic or philhellenic organizations cannot take up the cause. When the EP does it however, it denigrates all non-Hellenic Orthodox Christians. Trust me, it does.

  15. Christopher says

    The EP is an anachronism. Someone upstream said he should move to Greece – describing this move as temporary. Are not bishops, metropolitans, Patriarchates, and the like supposed to be organic in catholic ecclesiology? The whole apparatus of the EP is based on bishops that have not had Christians in them for hundreds of years. There would be nothing temporary about moving the EP, since his very existence is an abstraction and has been ever since Islam conquered and converted his people. Neither does he have a place in America, as administrative unity just is not important enough to justify continuing support of Orthodox papalism (even if the details are a bit different from the western version). The proper place for the EP is in the dustbin of history – that is where this corpse would already be if it were not for politics and nostalgia on the one hand, and the conservatism of an Orthodoxy that has not had real conciliar life on a high level (i.e. an ecumenical council) since the 8th century.

  16. To Father Johannes,

    I agree with your critique of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. As a Greek, I find that movie terribly embarrassing.


  17. To John Couretos

    In my own experiences, I do not hear the word “omogenia” being used
    commonly by most people in Greece. There is however a consciousness
    of a diaspora. I am a Greek American born and raised in the United
    States and my love for Hellenism came about only through Orthodoxy
    and Byzantine history.

    I do maintain a love for Greece being the homeland of my parents, and
    because it is a country that has suffered immensely through history.
    At the same time, I revere Greece because for all purposes it is a
    throughly Orthodox country despite some alarming trends at the present

    My parents were married in Corinth at a Church built where Saint Paul
    travelled in the Acts of the Apostles. It is most impressive to note
    numerous sites in Greece associated with the Apostles and/or the New
    Testament. Saint Andrew for example was martyred in the City of Patras.

    I view modern Greece as an Orthodox American much as many Christians
    would have viewed the Christian Empire of Byzantium back in those
    centuries. Greek history and Church history are somewhat inseparable
    (as is the case with Serbia, Russia etc…) I have been most impressed
    that Greek was the language of the New Testament and the Fathers, and
    during the Ottoman Turkish centuries Steven Runciman noted that Hellenism
    and Orthodoxy preserved one another. His book “The Great Church in Captivity
    I read when I was younger and it is a tremendous masterpiece that teaches
    the reader a great many things about Greece and the Orthodox Church.

    I do consider myself a diaspora Greek although I do not intend to return to
    Greece, I am an American but I am also Greek. The Greek heritage I preserve
    has much to do with the Church and the Byzantine Empire. Being Greek for me
    includes the remembrance of history such as the Fall of Constantinople and
    the heroic resistance of Constantinos Paleaologos the Last Emperor and his
    7,000 soldiers who held out for 55 days against 80,000 Muslim Turks, in
    addition to the horrific slaughter and the violation of Churches that
    accompanied the Turkish conquest. Steven Runciman was a master of history
    and his book “The Fall of Constantinople 1453” is one of my favorites and
    has been since I first read it many years ago.

    Other Greeks might have different ideas of what it means to be Greek than
    I do. It has to do in large part with survival over the several centuries.
    When the Greek War of Independence began in 1821 they revolted primarily
    against the Turks, but also to a lesser extent against the Greek
    Phanariots who were viewed by most Greeks as collaborators with the Turks.

    I appreciate modern Greece because unlike most of Europe where atheistic
    and secular ideologies have replaced religion, Christianity is very much
    alive among the Greeks. When visiting Greece, I like to go into Athens
    on Sundays to visit the main Cathedral and other nearby Churches which I
    see are almost full. If they are not entirely full, they are by no means
    empty. Many Greeks today are not enthusiastic about the new secular order
    that the European Union is seeking to impose

    Greece if for me an Orthodox country under siege by the Turks. I believe
    that the Greek Megali Idea which helped keep the nation alive during the
    Ottoman centuries was a just and valid cause. The injustice done by the
    mass slaughter of Asia Minor Greeks in 1922, the subsequent pogroms and
    ethnic cleansing of Greek Christians from Constantinople since 1955, and
    the invasions of Cyprus by the Turks are matters of tremendous injustice
    that ocurred as a result of the apathy of the western world.

    The Greeks here, like the Christian Armenians and Assyrians were permitted
    by the great powers to be massacred by Muslim Turks for a variety of
    political and economic interests. This story here is one that has not been
    widely told but the events of 1922 indicate for me the real ravages of
    secularism since Christianity was wiped out from Asia Minor with few
    protests from the West.

    For all the legitimate criticism to be thrown at the Phanar (and that
    criticism is well deserved) it is difficult for Greeks to be indifferent
    to its plight today under the Turks. Six assasination attempts by
    extremists against the Patriarch between 1993 and 2007 and continued
    persecution against mostly elderly Greek Orthodox people that remain in

    Finally, I view Greece as a holy country with many sacred sites such as
    the sacred island of Patmos and the cave of the Apocalypse where Saint
    John the Theologian wrote the Revelation. A glorious place to make a
    pilgrimage to.

    I am trying to keep this short, and I hope I answered your question.


    • Christopher says

      I don’t think you will find unanimous agreement that it was or is the duty (by which I believe you mean western nation states) to protect or otherwise interfere with the plight of Christians in Asia Minor. Indeed, if you study organizations like the OPF and the statements of individual Orthodox intellectuals like Kallistas Ware and almost the entire professorship of St. Vlads, you will find they philosophically opposed to interference in such matters (witness “the Plea” and the like) – they even claim it is Orthodox teaching…

    • Dean Calvert says

      Hi Ted,

      Reading the above, you and I share many things in common, not the least of which is our love of Runciman’s works. The Great Church in Captivity is one of his finest, if least read, works. It ought to be standard reading at Holy Cross.

      Let me suggest a couple of other good works, if you have not already read them – seems like they might appeal to your taste:

      1.) O City of Byzantium – The Annals of Niketas Choniates – translated by Harry Magoulias. It’s a fabulous work, about 800 pages long, which covers the period beginning around the time of the Comneni, and continuing right up thru the Fourth Crusade. It includes a very moving actual description of the evacuation of the City – the only one I’ve ever read anywhere. It’s an eyewitness account. I believe he also includes a description of the Heroon, and it’s destruction by the Crusaders.

      2.) The Byzantine Commonwealth, by Dmitri Obelensky – a great work by a contemporary of Runciman’s. Obolensky’s unique contribution (in my opinion) is to provide the context of the Byzantine Empire during the Middle Ages as it relates to the Slavic World. He includes many many fascinating letters between Constantinople and the Russian states. His “take” on this is fascinating and unique.






      3.) Patriarchs, Emperors & Sultans: Short Chronicle of the Sixteenth Century (Archbishop Iakovos Library of Ecclesiastical and Historical) by Marios Philippides – not a terrific piece of literature, but interesting from a couple of standpoints. First, as a Greek, you’ll appreciate the fact that the book is published with English on the left, and the original Greek on the right. So you can actually check the translations – which is important at times. Second, one of the few works that I’ve read from the period immediately following the Fall. Fascinating from the standpoint that the confusion in the author’s mind as to his own ethnicity is entirely visible and obvious. An example of this is that throughout most of the book, he refers to the Byzantines simply as “our race”. It’s obvious that the author is not sure whether he is Roman? Greek? the confusion is palpable and interesting. PS Amazon shows this at $200+…I think I paid $25.

      Have fun.

      Best Regards,

      • Dean Calvert says


        Re: The Greeks here, like the Christian Armenians and Assyrians were permitted by the great powers to be massacred by Muslim Turks for a variety of political and economic interests. This story here is one that has not been widely told but the events of 1922 indicate for me the real ravages of secularism since Christianity was wiped out from Asia Minor with few protests from the West.

        I don’t know if you’ve read the book Smyrna 1922: by Marjorie Housepian Dobkin.

        In that book, I believe it was one of the British officers said something to the effect of, ‘There hasn’t been a city destroyed like this since the Romans destroyed Carthage..except that when the Romans destroyed Carthage, there wasn’t a Western fleet sitting in the harbor.’

        • Thanks Dean. I have read the book Smyrna 1922 it is an excellent
          researched book and very informative. The comment you cite was
          in fact stated by American Consul General George Horton who was
          a very religous guy himself and went out of his way to give shelter
          and support to Greek and Armenian Christians fleeing the Turks.

          Horton represents the best of America and Christianity.


      • Thanks for the recommendations Dean.

        I will look into those


  18. To George Michalopoulos,

    I absolutely agree that Hellenic organizations should take up the
    cause of the omogenia. The GOA has a tendency of damaging anything that
    it touches. The sorry plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in
    Constantinople and the continued ravaging of the Churches in Turkish
    occupied Cyprus has received no response whatsoever from the GOA.

    My opinion is that the Greek Archdiocese should concentrate on fulfiling
    the requirement of the Canons in ensuring that there is a united Orthodox
    Church in America.


  19. To Christopher,

    I do not agree that the EP should be consigned to the dustbin of history.
    The institution still has merit, despite that it seems to have gone
    astray. Whatever the faults of the present Patriarch, the Church of
    Constantinople is still undergoing a process of fierce persecution like
    the early Church.

    I still have to respect the fact that the present Patriarch has remained
    in a City despite six assasination attempts which include bombings and
    various conspiracies by Islamist and Turkish nationalist elements.

    Even Archimandrite Justin Popovich stated the following in his work

    “On summoning of the Great Council of the Orthodox Church”

    “I bow in reverence before the age old achievements of the Great Church of
    Constantinople, and before her present cross which is neither small nor
    easy, which according to the nature of things is the cross of the entire
    Church- for as the Apostle Says, “When one member suffers, the whole body
    suffers.” Moreover, I acknowledge the canonical rank and first place in
    honour of Constantinople among the local Orthodox Churches, which are
    equal in honour and rights.”

    I do not see a problem with the existence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
    which has kept the light of Christianity burning in Turkey as a witness
    to the faith.

    The problem emanates from the claims and policies being put forward by the
    Phanar. The solution is one of reform and corrective action rather than
    simply abolishing the institution, even if necessitates removal. The
    Patriarchate of Antioch has not been in Antioch for many centuries.


    • Christopher says

      I believe that history has already laid it’s judgment upon the EP. While I recognize the history and the reason for existing canonical statements, can you imagine what a truly ecumenical council coming to the same conclusion today? It would be an abstraction. The Roman Empire is no longer – and thus the factual reasons for the EP’s “first in rank’ are no longer.

      Since there is no Orthodox or Christian empire today, and since the century’s since the 7th ecumenical council has not revealed a patriarchate or Church that seems blessedly free from heresy and in whom the Spirit seems to always guide aright (like Rome during the first 7 centuries or so) the basis for declaring these “ranks” no longer exist.

      While one can fully acknowledge the suffering of the EP it also reveals that his people have been lost. I don’t believe a truly Spirit guided ecumenical council would ever prop up and approve the abstraction that the EP is in Orthodoxy today…

      • While I agree that no Ecumenical Council would come to the same
        conclusions today regarding the ranking of the Churches, that is
        because there are new realities in which the Church exists today.

        It is not only the Ecumenical Councils that established Churches.
        The Church of Bulgaria became Autocephalous in the tenth century
        and that of Serbia a century or two later.

        The Russians were recognized as Autcephalous in 1589 (and with their
        own Patriarchate). The subsequent Autocephaly of Churches in the
        nineteenth and twentieth centuries demonstrates that Orthodoxy is
        not held hostage by the Phanar or the other ancient Patriarchates.

        The Autocephaly of America is inevitable (as it should be)despite
        Constantinople’s fervent protests.

        Constantinople’s first rank is due specifically because it is not
        supposed to be an Eastern Papacy. Constantinople’s unacceptable
        behavior and claims are in defiance of proper role and function that
        the Ecumenical Councils gave this specific Church.

        The solution is not to abolish the Church of Constantinople, but to
        call it to order. Yes, it is true it is presently off course and has
        become a source of division and has been so in the past.

        Yet, it has also been a source of unity and achievement in the past
        as well.


  20. To Christopher Response to message 17.1,

    It is Orthodox tradition and history for Christian rulers to protect
    oppressed Christians.

    1)The Byzantine Emperor Heraclius launched a war against the Persians
    in the seventh century to recover Jerusalem after the latter burned the
    Holy places and slaughtered the Monks.

    2)Later when the Muslims conquered Palestine, Syria, and Egypt the
    Orthodox peoples looked to Constantinople for diplomatic and political

    3)During the Ottoman centuries, the Russian Tsar sought to intervene
    against the Turks in protection of Orthodox Greeks, Serbs, Rumanians,
    and Bulgarians in addition to the Armenians. Catherine the Great forced
    the Turks to improve the treatment of Christians with the Treaty of
    Kachuk Kanarji in 1774.

    On what basis would it be wrong to suggest that the western powers should
    intervene to protect Christians?

    The Serbian Church as well as the Greeks would disagree with such a notion.
    The Serbian Orthodox Church has a lobby in Washington “the National
    Council for Kosovo” which is meant to bring attention to and raise support
    for the plight of Serb Christians today in Kosovo.

    At the port of Smyrna in 1922, are you aware that there were American,
    British, French, and Italian warships that stood by while Greek and
    Armenian Christians were slaughtered? Or that there were French troops
    that stood and watched while Metropolitan Chrysostom of Smyrna was hacked
    to death by Turks?


    • Christopher says


      Don’t get me wrong, I in no way support this isolationist and passive philosophy. Indeed I believe it to be pacifist to the core. However, what I am referring to is something that is very real and relatively new. Fr. Webster traces the “lesser evil” philosophy back to the early 20th century. The OPF in “the Plea” states a philosophy that internal conflicts are just that – internal – and it is evil and “preemptive” and indeed soldiers doing the duty would be “murderers” in such conflicts. They believe this isolationist and non-interfering philosophy to be Orthodox morality. Who are “they”? Men like Kallistas Ware, just about all the SVS seminary professorship, Hopko, etc.

      IF they are correct (I don’t believe they are but many do) then it is immoral and un-Orthodox for anyone to have intervened in these atrocities…

  21. George Michalopulos says

    Just a general point: pacificism is very nearly a heresy. It is an abrogation of love for others. Pacificsm, like celibacy, asceticism, etc. can only be imposed on oneself, not by society, the state, or the church on any one person, or group of people. Therefore if (for example) the state takes this approach, then it are committing two great sins: 1) it is imposing an ascetic struggle on a population against its will, and 2) it is allowing violence to be visited upon people whose welfare have been been entrusted to it. To take it to its logical conclusion, then the jails should be opened and courts of law and police forces disbanded, that would be essentially the same thing as far as the innocent are concerned. (Note: armed neutrality a la Switzerland is NOT pacificism.)

    Even if one is a pacificist in regards to himself (i.e. he literally “turns the other cheek” when he is confronted with violence to his own person), he is obligated as a Christian to come to the aid of others. This does not have to take the form of violence, he can call the police or after the fact, he can be called as a witness in a court of law, but all Christians have an obligation to others. This includes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, protecting the weak, and so on is our duty pure and simple. Only the hermit is exempt from these obligations, mainly because he is a hermit –one who has no or very limited human contact.

    This is not to say that the Church should not speak out against militarism or agression, that is if the state attacks another state or people with no just cause.

    • Isa Almisry says

      Just a note on Switerland. There they have gun control: EVERY male over 21 has to have and maintain a gun, and know how to use it.

      • Christopher says

        Fully automatic “assault weapons” also. Switzerland is another example that belies the claims (as if right reason does not on it‘s own) of “gun control” activists.

  22. cynthia curran says

    Well, I was just thinking about what everyone was saying here. The current left in politics is not interested in defining Greeks or other orthodox countries. However, this was different when the Greeks fought their war of independance. Lord Byron was a great supporter for the Greeks.

  23. cynthia curran says

    Since Constantine a pacifist position is a position against as Geroge stated one’s responsibly to society, since Christians whether good christians or nominal have been mainly in charge of government in old Roman Europe since his day and many other places after his day.
    Some have mention that Constantine was bad for christianity since he was poor in theology, there is some truth in this and his son Constantius was Arian. But without Constantine, christianity might not have survive into the modern era, he defeated two of his main opponents Maxentius and Licinius. and historians whether Catholic, or Protestant, or Orthodox, actually see Constantine as important to have brought christianity out of the shadows even if it became a look more worldly.
    Both him and his mother Helen are Saints to many Orthodox. This means that the pacifist view is a contradiction when you consider a soldier emperor as saint. Actually, the most Anti-Constantine position is among the anabapists who are Protestants and blame Constantine for all is wrong with the church mixing it with pagan Rome.

  24. George Michalopulos says

    Isa, I like the take on that old joke we have here in Oklahoma, “gun control means holding the gun with both hands.”

  25. I was look at the Patriarchal Itinerary and I may be wrong but I still do not see a scheduled visit to the White or with Obama. I am missing something here???

    • You are not missing something. I did not see it either. This will
      be the first Patriarchal visit to America which did not have a
      scheduled meeting at the White House. This however would be the
      second snub by Obama directed at the Patriarch. The first was in that
      farcical meeting in Turkey where the Patriarch visited the President
      in his hotel room to avoid a public visit and media attention, thus
      not offending the Turks.

      My own view is assuming the schedule has been correctly posted that
      the Turks asked the White House not to invite the Patriarch. They
      have been cracking down on the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the last
      couple of years and now they are in effect dictating the Patriarch’s
      agenda outside Turkey.

      If this is the case, this is shameful on the part of the Patriarch
      and the GOA for not protesting both Turkey’s continuing violations of
      human rights and religious freedom, and for not protesting the shabby
      treatment the Patriarch received last April from Obama.

      It also says a great deal about Obama who apologizes to the Muslim world
      time and again, but refuses to make any principled gesture on behalf of
      Christians, even a simple gesture like meeting with the Ecumenical


      • I hate to say it but the Greek Community in the USA and elsewhere fell head over heals for Obama with some even calling him Obamakis etc etc. Now that the mask is off on Obama we see that many Greeks (along with many others across the country) were seduced to vote against their interests.

        Makes you wonder if the America’s Greek leaders truly know what is in the best interests of the community at all?

        One wonders how the left leaning folks at the National Herald are going to spin all of this.

  26. cynthia curran says

    Well, many on the left thought of Obama as a messiah including relgious people. However, the jobs created by the stimulus package created jobs in states with low afro-american populations, California about 6 percnt and Colorado about 4 percent. Michigan home to Detroit,the stimulus package added few jobs. So, I think the left view of Obama was somewhat unrealistic. He is not a savior, and has not done any better for his racial-ethnic than other politicians.

  27. George Michalopulos says

    Andrew, Theodoros, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s even worse than we thought. I’ll try to link an analysis by Caroline Glick called “How Turkey was Lost to the West” so you can see for yourselves. Even though she’s writing from an Israeli perspective (it’s her latest column in The Jerusalem Post, google it if you want), the “loss” means that Turkey returning to its atavastic, Islamic roots. The grand experiment of Kemalist secularism is on its last legs. That means that all the Christian churches that accepted their dhimmi status, thinking they could survive in their little ghettoes on faded glory and foreign remittances, are very likely on their way out. And let’s be honest, the president doesn’t have a cultural feel for Christendom/Western civilization. (One of his first acts was to send the bust of Winston Churchill which was in the Oval Office back to England.) That’s probably another reason why the EP was uninvited (although I’m sure the Turks put their foot down as well). Anyway, there it is.

    • Christopher says

      Add to that Lebanon and Syria. When the Bathist regime in Syria gives way to wahhabist Islam (it’s only a matter of time) the Christians in these two countries will be forced to convert or immigrate also.

      That’s one think I have never understood about this lady:

      She writes as if Israel is the sole source of her peoples (a small remnant Orthodoxy). Even when they suffered an Islamic version of “Night of Broken Glass” recently her report still implied it was rooted in the behavior of Israel.

      I suppose it’s difficult for some to look a the history of Islam with a steely eye…

    • John Couretas says

      The Glick article is available here.

      • Conspiracy Theory Nob. ON.

        Is Turkey intentionally trying to stir-up trouble in the region at this time so it can forbid the return of the EP?

        Will the TRT1 headline read: All Flights From Jewish Controlled Airlines Forbidden for Security Reasons?

        Conspiracy Theory Nob. OFF

        • George Michalopulos says

          No, the Turks are just gonna let things play out. So far, judging by the turnout in LA, the EP’s visit is shaping up to be of no consequence. That suits the Turks just fine. Flops like this prove to them that the EP is not “ecumenical” (read, universal). He can come and go as he pleases as far as they’re concerned.

  28. cynthia curran says

    Well, the president’s ex- pastor Rev Wright thinks that the Romans were white imperialist and certianly would think the same of Constanople as well since it was apart of the Roman Empire. Remember Rev Wright talk about black Jesus against the Garlic nose Italians. And he compared white america to Ancient Rome. So, yes Obama doesn’t like either the civilzations developing out of the old Roman Empire or the Byzantine one, except probably Russia since the politicans there have been anti-west for years

  29. George Michalopulos says

    All, please understand, I think Caroline Glick’s take on the Israeli-Turkish estrangement is overstated. It’s more complicated than her assessment. For example, I found out that the Turks are pissed because the new commander of SACEUR (strategic air command-Europe) is a Greek-American, Admiral James Stavrides. He wrote in his autobiography about the anti-Greek “pogroms” perpetrated against his grandparent’s in Smyrna. The Turks don’t like hearing about the “Armenian Holocaust,” or “ethnic cleansing” against the Greeks, it goes into their collective memory hole.

    Anyway, they pulled out of a joint Israeli-Turkish air force maneuvers because of some things he said and overall anger at the US. Plus, they’ve sized up LaBamba and like Putin, they know they can roll him. That said, the general thesis of her argument stands: Turkey is throwing off its Islamic veneer, which was imposed via the heavy hand of Ataturk, and returning to its Islamic “glory days.” (This is no problem for President Hussein the Magnificent as he feels no affinity for Christianity.) At any rate, as Orthodox Christians, the past under Kemalism was never a walk in the park, and under a Wahabi’ist-financed Islamism, it ain’t gonna get any better.

    Basically, the days of a hellenic Ecumenical Patriachate are numbered. The Turks (even Islamist ones) will possibly allow the Russians to take it over because of quid pro quos that the Russians can give (and nobody else; i.e. not Greece, not the US). Let’s face it, we Greeks can’t offer Turkey anything, except dropping our intransigence against them joining the EU. Now, pace Glick, it appears that the Turks are ready to turn their back on Europe permanently, so we’re are left with a wasting asset, namely a position that we can change but they no longer care about. A classic overplaying of our hand.

    Of course, this is not to say that the Greeks (or the French) should have dropped their intransigence against Turkey joining the EU (I would be against it myself). I’m looking at this from the Phanar’s standpoint. Let’s not forget that the EP has been carrying Turkey’s water big-time, in regard to their joining the EU. Those in the patriarchate of Constantinople can now kiss it all goodbye: halki, everything.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I meant “…Kemalist/secular veneer,” not “Islamist.” The latter makes no sense since they’re becoming radicalized in their Islam.

  30. Does Anyone Know how the EP travelled to America? Did the Green Patriarch take a Private Jet?

  31. Private Jet Confirmed! Check it out live!

    We have a Green Patriarch who preaches conservation while flying on a private jet. What is the Carbon Footprint of all of this? How big a polluter is the EP? Hey I remember being on a plane once with the President of Cyprus who flies commercial. If a Head of State flies commercial why cant the EP?

    Also, did the EP just land in the USA or Greece. The ethnic show is a little much.

  32. Anthony Katsivalis says

    His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has received criticism with regards to his speech at Georgetown University early next month. “The Green Patriarch” – a name given to Patriarch Bartholomew by Al Gore for his long history of environmental advocacy – is being attacked for the same moral leadership that coined his nickname. I don’t know what distorted agenda these unwarranted attacks against His All Holiness is meant to serve, but abandoning the moral imperative to examine environmental issues serves neither the Church, nor humanity.

    The criticism of Patriarch Bartholomew is centered on his participation at an event co-sponsored by the Center for American Progress, a progressive think-tank founded by Georgetown professor and former Bill Clinton chief of staff, John Podesta. His critics say the Ecumenical Patriarch should distance himself from “partisan organizations” and issues. This line of argument encourages inaction when dealing with issues of moral consequence, which begs the question, what is the role of the Patriarch?

    Is the role of the Ecumenical Patriarch to stand by as a figurehead of the Orthodox faith, constantly evading any issues deemed confrontational? Should he turn a blind eye to a preventable and potentially devastating global problem that will only perpetuate? His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew does not believe so and has fought for his beliefs since he ascended to the Apostolic and First Throne of Orthodoxy. During his first years as Ecumenical Patriarch, he revitalized the Orthodox religion in Eastern-European countries, stifled by a post-Soviet communist regime. He has consistently expressed his belief in the preservation of the Earth through environmental awareness and action.

    This action means holding such talks as the one being debated. It means speaking to an audience that understands the issues, and wants to do something to stop it. Patriarch Bartholomew plans to speak at Georgetown, a Jesuit university that yields many great, young minds. I personally cannot think of a better venue for a religious leader to hold such talks, which in my mind makes these arguments against him wrong. To perceive the environmental consciousness of the Green Patriarch as partisan and politically driven is not only fallacious, but a hindrance to any kind of progress on this issue.

    This backlash facing Patriarch Bartholomew has been faced by other great moral leaders in history. Abraham Lincoln went to war for the emancipation of the slaves, Martin Luther King, Jr. faced violence when marching for civil rights (with our own Archbishop Iakovos at his side) and our Lord Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice while affirming his existence as the Son of God. They all fought for what they held to be true, despite the criticisms of the naysayers. They all put their reputations, and in some cases, their lives on the line to make the world a better place for future generations.

    His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has made a choice to take that same path. He defends he issue of climate change, despite the attacks from the opposition, so our grandchildren can enjoy this Earth – which we have not earned, but have received as a gift – as we have. When we examine his motives in this light, we can plainly see that a political agenda is nowhere to be found.

    That is why his upcoming visit to Georgetown is not controversial, but considerate. He possesses the kind of forward thinking that has been a consistent characteristic of many great leaders throughout history. Even if you don’t agree with climate change, you can’t disagree with the pursuit of truth. I would rather have a Patriarch that actively seeks solutions in the face of criticism, than a Patriarch that stands by passively and lets someone else handle the problem. It seems the critics would prefer the latter.

    • Christopher says

      Is this a draft of an essay you are going to publish or opinion piece for a newspaper?

      My personal favorite howler is the “great moral leaders” comparison.

      Until you stop characterizing the criticism of the alarmist position and the EP’s embrace of it as a “distorted agenda”, you will not be able to listen to the criticism on it’s own terms.

      But hey, keep painting us as unthinking monsters if it helps you sleep at night. Sticking your head in the sand is a tried and true tactic.

      I wonder if the EP/supporters of the EP do not relish the criticism as a way to garner publicity. Mr. Katsivalis post certainly does read like a hit piece the left loves to use…

      • Anthony Katsivalis says

        Thank you Christopher for the response, I enjoy the dialogue on this topic. Yes, I have written my response in more of a essay format, I’m a recent college graduate and I find it is the best way for me to form my opinions.

        Your arguments on this topic are contradictory. You have condemned me in your response as “characterizing the criticism of the alarmist position” as a “distorted agenda”. Yes, I believe the criticisms of the EP are largely derived from a politically partisan viewpoint. My argument is that this topic is not political at all, it is humanitarian, and to brush it off as political only silences the debate on the importance of this issue. You have reinforced my point that the criticism of the EP is politically charged by your last sentence claiming my piece “does read like a hit piece the left loves to use…”

        All I am saying is that we need to examine the issue as it related to the well-being of the Earth, and the people that inhabit it. An honest attempt to preserve the Earth should not be perceived as partisan, but taken as it is, an honest attempt to fulfill the will of God by protecting the place that we all share.

    • I can think of one instance that completely proves the above argument wrong. The 2004 visit of His All Holiness to Havana where he praised Castro as an enviromentalist while downplaying the regimes laundry list of crimes against humanity and personally ignoring prisoners of conscience.

      Sorry but beating the paranoid drum of global warming and lobbying for the Copenhagen protocols while flying on a private jet is not the same path of Dr. King or President Lincoln. Please do not get them confused.

      • Anthony Katsivalis says

        I thank you Andrew for your response, but why shouldn’t a religious leader of such a high stature take a private jet? Is security not a constant issue when transporting Pat. Bartholomew anywhere? If Pat. Bartholomew took a commercial airliner as suggested, and, God forbid, something happened to him, everyone here would be scrutinizing the lack of security.

        • Anthony, you are right and I would agree. However, this would kind of mean that he has elevated his personal security above the purported peril facing the planet – a peril so critical and urgent that it requires policies that would unavoidably impair the economic “security” of millions. Since this would hit the world’s poor (who can least afford or survive such expensive constraints) particularly hard, it puts him and other “green leaders” in the awkward position of harming the most vulnerable in order to address a serious but theoretical outcome with costly but largely ineffective solutions (most of which are estimated to have only a nominal effect on CO2 production). As said elsewhere on this blog: for thee but not for me.

  33. Anthony Katsivalis says

    Can you please clarify the partisan you speak of? And again thanks for the comments Christopher.

    • Christopher says

      For arguments sake, let’s assume the following (remember in truth we don’t grant these things as true, at least in the whole):

      1) The “environment” (i.e. the planet and her climate, etc.) is a zero-sum game
      1) The Alarmist position is true – the game is almost over and drastic measures are needed.
      2) Mankind really does need a spiritual “kick in the pants” from a Bishop of the Church to help us understand the crises and just as importantly to act on the crises

      I know from you post you agree with the above. So given these hypotheticals then the light is green for a Patriarch to ‘prophetically’ speak to man about the tradition of Christian stewardship and enrich the conversation with this tradition.

      So what does the EP in fact do. He does rightly speak of Christian stewardship. Good for him (I in fact support this 100%)

      BUT (and this is a huge BUT) he does more. He actively supports partisan solutions. You see, people from all sorts of political perspectives (excepting maybe militant atheistic communists) are part of Christ’s Church. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars. The EP has chosen a side however. He actively supports solutions that come from a particular political perspective. Copenhagen is a centrally planned solution that is antithetical to free men. The very partisan CAP explicitly explains why the EP is on their side as a “progressive” – this is a partisan designation. The EP by choosing sides has left his role as a Bishop and entered into the realm of partisan politics by his own choosing. Not only that, he is supporting this partisanship as the Orthodox thing to do.

      When we point this out, you then point the finger at us and claim WE are the ones being partisan – that is exactly backwards.

      • Anthony Katsivalis says

        Then what is a “non-partisan” solution in dealing with the Christian stewardship I have mentioned and which you agree with?

        • Christopher says

          Off the top of my head:

          First, ‘Christian stewardship’ should be better explained from a theological point of view. Others have started to do this – and perhaps the EP has but I am not aware of it. The statements I have read have been of the slogan and sound bite variety that seems to paste over a vacuous call to “Christian stewardship” over partisan politics.

          Second, on the basis of a consistent and well thought out theology, a practical and prescriptive morality (that is to say a praxis) could then be outlined. This morality would necessarily be apolitical, but would provide a Christian with the necessary guidance to work within the political sphere for a moral outcome on the environment and mankind’s place in it.

          This outline would be much more comprehensive in the moral dimensions it addresses than the EP’s current trajectory. For example, any moral perspective on “climate change” would also take into account the creation and man’s place in it. It would factor in man’s economic life, his family life and the blessings of children, even his political life (freedom vs. tyranny, etc.). When you do that you find that the alarmist position on the environment, before you even get to the alarmist solutions, has certain aspects that arise out of a secular view of the created order and man that are antithetical to a Christian understanding and praxis.

          Finally, armed with the above a Christian no matter what his political predilections could embrace this call and work within his political situation in his country’s political and moral heritage.

          As it stands, the EP has uncritically accepted (“hook, line, and sinker” as they say) a secular alarmist position, and compounded the error by throwing his support behind particular political solutions that one can only support if one is a pragmatic/progressive socialist. For example, as a traditional conservative in politics I support environmental solutions that take into account man’s political and economic freedom. I believe this approach has worked in America where a combination of rule of law (e.g. the EPA not allowing factories to pollute the commons) and market solutions (technology such as catalytic converters on cars and soot scrubbers on coal power plants) has produced an environmental cleanliness and stewardship that is the envy of the rest of the world.

          For whatever reasons, the EP has bought into both the questionable alarmist position (that says we are at a crises point in resource use and life style) & centrally planned solutions (e.g. Copenhagen) that only folks who don’t value Christian liberty can possibly support.

          It’s really too bad, as he is now between a rock and a hard place. He will either have to repent, and admit that he not only uncritically accepted a very questionable view of the science and situation, but also promoted particular political solutions to the exclusion of others – none of which he is supposed to do in his capacity as a Bishop of the Church. Such a repentance would have him stepping back and admitting this error and then moving forward on the theological and moral questions – which should have been done in the first place


          He will continue on his current path and simply trying to yell louder than his opponents (which include answering your critics not with substance but with arrogant comparisons to “great moral leaders”), and trying to force a particular political solution down the throats of Orthodox people everywhere. I have faith that he will not only utterly fail in this, but he may well bring about a very vocal break with other bishops and laity who do not accept his politicization of this issue…

          • Anthony Katsivalis says

            You tried your best to dance around the question, and in the end provided our own “partisan” solution. I asked you for YOUR answer, so don’t admonish the EP to define “Christian stewardship”, give me your definition; don’t speculate about the ability to outline a praxis, outline one yourself; give me the proof that any “non-partisan” organization survey/group believes that the EP’s position is “alarmist”.

            It seems that YOU are the one between a rock and a hard place. You keep arguing that the EP has adopted an alarmist secularist position — epithets that are meant only to disparage the scientific community’s amazing level of consensus on the environment in recent years — but deliberately define the Christian position to support another secularist position.

            You argue against “centralized” solutions but then concede that the EPA has a crucial role to play (thus acknowledging that some level of centralization and therefore sacrifice of unrestrained liberty is required). You claim that while there is a moral case to be made for environmental stewardship that the EP makes a secular one, all the while presenting us with an algorithm (my economic life and political freedom on one side, pollution and the my children’s future on the other) that is strikingly secular. And then, to top of your moral equation, your make the baseless claim that our environmental protections are the envy of the world (I guess that’s the fun part of blogs — not having to substantiate your statements).

            YOU are the one that has bought something “hook line and sinker”. You have bought into the fiction that environmentalist are just “alarmist” and that this has something to do with “freedom”. In fact, even if Copenhagen were adopted, you have not told me how that equates to a victory of tyranny over freedom. Isn’t it possible that all it is going to do is make it more EXPENSIVE FOR YOU TO POLLUTE? And if you are so concerned with freedom, aren’t you concerned with how free future generations will be to enjoy God’s creation if we continue down this course?

            So, once again good sir, give me a non-partisan solution rather than an American Enterprise Institute answer wrapped up in disingenuous moral language.

          • Christopher says

            I asked you for YOUR answer, so don’t admonish the EP to define “Christian stewardship”,

            I don’t have my own theology, as I am not the Church or a Bishop. I have not seen a thoughtful theological defense of ‘Christian stewardship’ in relation to the environment (which is really a relationship with neighbor). Neither have you (unless you want to point us to it).

            give me the proof that any “non-partisan” organization survey/group believes that the EP’s position is “alarmist”.


            do some basic research – you will find the alarmist position is anything but “a consensus” (not that that is a substitute for scientific method). This is of course before you get to any moral/philosophical evaluation (how to act on the alleged facts). We can even accept the alarmist position and not agree on what it MEANS.

            You argue against “centralized” solutions but then concede that the EPA has a crucial role to play (thus acknowledging that some level of centralization and therefore sacrifice of unrestrained liberty is required).

            EPA is a lawful organization created by duly elected representatives. They do not tax. They are not a tax regime/income redistribution plan trying to re-organize society on a basic level. You really don’t know what the EP is supporting (through Copenhagen and the like) do you?

            You claim that while there is a moral case to be made for environmental stewardship that the EP makes a secular one,

            He does. Read Fr. Gregory Jenson’s post on this very website. Any Christian moral case will have as it’s presuppositions an Christian understanding of man and the created order. The sky is falling alarmist position is secular in it’s assumptions and its solutions.

            Until you put aside your obvious fear of impending doom you will not be able to view the alarmist position critical. Until you make a basic inquiry into Christian anthropology and freedom, you will assume that the alarmist solutions are as “neutral” and non partisan as any other. It’s easy to label those you don’t agree with. It’s harder to think critically…

        • Anthony, would you agree that if the EP’s calls Castro and his murderous regime enviromentalist then there is something seriously wrong with the Green Patriarch’s understanding of his own signature issue and his understanding of the dignity of the human person?

  34. George Michalopulos says

    Anthony, it is the EP who is dancing around the issue. Let me explain, if for the sake of argument we accept his premises, then there is more than simple treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol which have to be signed. Human beings themselves will have to be forced into an ascetic lifestyle.

    This means that women will not be able to take birth control pills any more or estrogen-replacement drugs. Why? Because these get flushed into the rivers and have caused significant genetic mutations in fish.

    Anybody wanna tell the women of the West they can’t take any more BCPs? Maybe an encyclical from the EP will do it?

    Let’s get real…

  35. Geo Michalopulos says

    I hate to sound like a broken record, but if we take the EP’s remarks about “molecules of water” being sacrosanct and a “part of the prologue of the Gospel of John” (paraphrase) then aren’t the molecules that make up the protoplasm of the budding life in a woman’s belly also part of the great “cosmic” dance of life?

  36. Jim Lohse says

    This link is broken do you still have this content? It’s at the top of your post. I noticed that Bartholomew’s website doesn’t keep his more controversial things posted, and I appreciate when this site or has a copy when the original has gone missing!



  1. […] EP’s global warming stance was reckless January 24, 2010 9:58 AM | Fr. Johannes Jacobse We warned the Ecumenical Patriarch that endorsing the global warming agenda was reckless. Anyone with eyes to see clearly saw that […]

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