Can This Archdiocese be Saved?

Buckle your seat-belts because there’s more awful news coming out of 79th St.

The Pappas Post revealed today that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has defaulted on the payments to Skanska, the construction company tasked with building the St Nicholas Shrine at Ground Zero. (You can read the story for yourself here: http://www.pappaspost.com/archdiocese-defaults-payments-construction-company-work-st-nicholas-halted/)

As of now, Monomakhos doesn’t know how much has been lost on the project or how badly in arrears the GOA is. Nor do we know how much has been pledged for the project or how much was raised. Other questions abound: did the construction costs contribute to the annual shortfall of the GOA’s deficits? Or was the money squirreled away for exorbitant overseas trips? Who knows? It’s doubtful that we’ll ever really know, not with the Phanar firmly in control of the GOA.

In my opinion, this disaster is a sad coda to the derailed legacy of Ligonier. Recriminations will surely follow. That being said, it would be wrong to pin the sad legacy of the last two decades only on the shoulders of the Ecumenical Patriarch. After all, the GOA had real bishops back in 1994 and they took it upon themselves to go to Ligonier and embrace their fellow American bishops from the other jurisdictions.

When they were told that they had to rescind their signatures, they could have stood up and said “No!”. Short of that, the principled thing to do was resign en masse. Instead, they took their lumps and were rewarded later with the empty title of “metropolitan”. And to what end? There is nothing to show for the abrogation of their signatures. Instead we have had a lost generation with droves leaving the Orthodox faith.

If viewed in this light, the stalled, unfinished shell of the erstwhile shrine, can serve as an emblem of the failures that is the GOA ever since Archbishop Iakovos Coucouzis was forcibly removed from the primacy.

One thing can be said for sure: if the Phanar thinks that things will turn around for the better once the present archbishop is removed, then they really don’t have a clue. Especially if they replace him with some phanariote acolyte who believes in the Canon 28 mythology. I’d like to think that there are some Archons or principled priests out there who can stand up to the Phanar and tell them that Byzantine nostalgia simply won’t work any more here in America. After all, it hasn’t worked in Istanbul.

We can always hope.

P.S. I really don’t want to be flippant but maybe the Trump Organization can take over and save the day? They’re pretty good with construction projects I hear.

Comments

  1. Gail Sheppard says:

    I think it’s “don’t have a clue.” – I still believe the Phanar orchestrated the timing of all this so they could wipe the board clean and set up their own pieces. What I’m not sure they counted on was such strong opposition from laity for anything resembling “business as usual.” Could be a game changer.

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Gail, you may be right in that what we are seeing is the “controlled demolition” of the GOA by the Phanar.

      Along these lines, one of my contacts told me that (and this is only speculation), that the blandness of the Shrine in the first place was deliberate. This was so it could be more “ecumenical” and eventually Islamic. Hence the 99 year lease. Under this scenario, which was foreseen by the powers-that-be because they know that the GOA is the gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight, it would only be a matter of time before some white knight swooped in and took over the project, that is to save it from dereliction. The white knight in this case is some Saudi consortium.

      Personally, I think this is too clever by half but it does make sense.

      • Hieromonk Mark Kerr says:

        LOL! As I read the article, George, I thought how that monstrosity would make a good mosque. I posted this on your previous article about this subject and I’ll post it again here:

        Go online and have a look at pictures of the recently restored Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas, in Kronstadt, Russia, (eg., https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g2394587-d2618634-Reviews-The_Naval_Cathedral_of_Saint_Nicholas_in_Kronstadt-Kronshtadt_Kronshtadtsky_Dist.html#photos;geo=2394587&detail=2618634&ff=283837783&albumViewMode=hero&aggregationId=101&albumid=101&baseMediaId=283837783&thumbnailMinWidth=50&cnt=30&offset=-1&filter=7&autoplay=) and then ask yourself if you really think that the modernist, minimalist and irreverent cartoon parody of an Orthodox temple at the WTC deserves ever to be finished. It is a monument to the compulsive pimping of the Orthodox Faith and Orthodox Tradition that has characterised the GOA since its founding and has been expressed in numerous examples of horrid ‘church’ architecture, particularly dating from the second half of the 20th century, mostly commonly in the GOA, all across America. May God forbid such a travesty ever to be put forward as an Orthodox temple!

        None of our US jurisdictions is perfect, and a lot of problems exist across the board. We must pray for God’s hand to work to correct our path(-s) and infuse us all with His Holy Spirit. The change, the correction, the awaking has to start with me, and you, and all of us together. Complaining and criticising others does not solve the problems. Each one of us must address his own problems and failings, or, at least, be humble and trusting enough to bring them to God’s throne and lay them at His feet, in earnest supplication for mercy, forgiveness, strength for the battle and healing. For all of us and for the whole Church, the answer is found in the prayer at the beginning of the Proskomedia: ‘Make ready, O Bethlehem, for Eden hath been opened for all. Prepare, O Ephratha, for the tree of life hath blossomed forth in the cave from the Virgin, for her womb did appear as a spiritual paradise in which is planted the divine Plant, eating whereof, we shall live and not die as [did] Adam. Christ [is] born, raising the image that fell of old.’ Let us all obey the Lord’s command: ‘With fear of God, faith and love, draw near.’ Our salvation is of the Lord, and the revitalisation of Church life starts with each one of us.

        • George Michalopulos says:

          Indeed.

          You know, if you’ll permit me to go off on an architectural tangent, it’s just as easy (and probably less expensive) to build a tradition Orthodox temple as it is to build these modernist contraptions. Just sayin’.

  2. Greatly Saddened says:

    Could we possibly one day see a sign posted outside of 8 East 79th Street stating: “CLOSED – OUT OF BUSINESS”

  3. Did anyone die as a direct result of the destruction of that church – or perished on church property during the event?

    Is this really just a shrine to a fallen building?

    • Gail Sheppard says:

      If it’s a shrine, it is a shrine to the dreams of people who sacrificed to build it. It’s not about a building.

  4. No! If Greeks were really Orthodox they would go to Russia. Elytis and Seferis families fled the bankruptcy caused by the original Olympics by going to Smyrna, not Russia. Now, Greeks go to Australia and France, not Russia. Greeks want to be Western! They don’t care for Orthodox. The Russians imposed Orthodox by sabotaging the Council of Florence. See “Why they leave Orthodox” https://sites.google.com/site/quitodox/

  5. Veras Koultroupis says:

    The church withstood the main ordeal but fell that night from falling debris. No one was hurt at the church.

    • So no one got hurt on church propery? This is dedicated to the loss of a building – a building – when thousands had died in the neigborhood – and thousands and thousands would die following as the world spun out of control?

      I agree. The monument is great as is – unfinished, bankrupt and a bad idea with no real spiritual goal to begin with – and oblivious to the real sufferings and deaths that surround outside of it. It’s perfectly symbolic of our Orthodox Church reality here in the United States. How poetic even!

      No one was around to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 fall down either

      Should we build a shine to that dedicated Hellenic secular humanistic piece of trash too?

  6. Meanwhile, in Moscow, Putin met with a number of representatives of the local churches regarding the persecution of Christians and the situation in Syria.

    http://orthochristian.com/108963.html

    “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:16

  7. Will Harrington says:

    Who owns the actual properties of the parishes? If they are owned by the parishes, then the parishes can carry on as long as they have active congregations. If they are owned by the archdiocese or the Phanar then things could indeed get very bad.

  8. I agreed with you until your ?postscript?

    Trump would name it the St Donald Cathedral.

    Or the Trump entry.

    Or Trump’s steps

    But no without Russian 💰

  9. Oh, not to worry. I am sure Hank Hanegraaff will be able to bring in the converts by the truck load who will bail them out…oh wait, never mind.

    • Yes Hank converted to the Orthodox Church and therefore no longer believes in the bible.

      Oh – and he no longer loves Jesus.

      When he sees the bumper sticker now, he firmly keeps his hands 10 and 2

      • Billy, I think you miss my point. Hank really isn’t an apologist nor has any real education in that or any other field. He’s a conman that got lucky and abused his way to the top, leaving a rather long paper trail. He isn’t going to be the convert truck that the GOA thinks he is. Rather he is going to use them to support his millionaire lifestyle. That is why they promote his Protestant books to the Orthodox right off the OCN webpage.

        Besides, Hank had no apparent plans to reveal his chrismation. A picture got out and everything after that was damage control.

        • Fr. Deacon John says:

          And how does Hank Hanegraaff even enter into this string or have anything to do with it? I find your ripping on him unnecessary and distasteful. Hank is battling cancer right now and I am sure he has bigger fish to fry. I met Hank in June of 2016 when he was part of a group of 12 men, mostly from North Carolina, that went to Greece and spent three days at Vatopadi on the Holy Mountain, Mt. Athos. It was my second time there and being a deacon representing our Metropolitan, I was sort of a tour guide and information source for the group. I found Hank to be a good man who was sincere about his journey to Orthodoxy, and I was delighted to hear of his Chrismation. The GOA is in deep trouble to be sure, and comments like these above against a specific individual, who has no fingerprints on any of this, is uncalled for.

        • Perry

          I had not heard of any such issues surrounding Hank Hanegraff

          The only thing I heard was that he had some following that felt betrayed by his becoming Orthodox – as if he no longer loves God or believes scripture.

          I only poke at it because I can personally relate to it

          It would seem strange to me if he isolated himself from his target demographic just to push book sales in the GOA

          That would be like leaving Palm Desert, California – and relocating your pool cleaning business to Nome, Alaska

  10. Gail Sheppard says:

    Looks like Putin called a “Holy and Great Council” of all those who weren’t at the table in Crete.

    Noticeably absent is the one who claims to speak for the entire Orthodox Church. Can’t imagine he is pleased that Moscow is calling them together or that they went!

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Gail, please check the video I just posted. Do you think that the meeting you’re talking about was part of this concelebration?

      Misha, I think you first broke this story. Do you have any information along these lines?

      • Martyr’s Guilt says:

        Putin is calling Holy and Great Council? Next the new Tsar will return Aghia Sophia to Orthodoxy. Hail Putin! Russia has a Holy Tsar. America has Gregory Pappas, Theo Kalmoukos, and Monomakhos! Saint Anna pray for us!

      • Gail Sheppard says:

        I’m guessing it was, George.

        At the same time, the 3rd International Religious Freedom conference, organized and hosted by the Order of St. Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople (Istanbul) was going on: https://tinyurl.com/y8vjzw6l

        While the EP was meeting with the President of the State of Israel, Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, at the Presidential Palace in Jerusalem. https://tinyurl.com/y9nlgseo

      • https://mospat.ru/en/2017/12/04/news154070/

        If you look at the stories listed at the bottom of this one, you will see that a number of high ranking hierarchs of the various local churches have been visiting and making their way around Russia – even Ekaterinburg. Putin met with a host of them at his private residence.

        I think what you will see is action without overt explanation or claims of this or that. It is more important what people do than what they say. These are the actions of a modern day Constantine. But I doubt there is a need for a rival council. That may be the point. Nine councils is enough to hammer out the faith in great detail.

        If you’re looking for dramatic statements about Third Rome and a rival Orthodox group formally at odds with the Phanar, you may be disappointed. Russia can lead without any explicit claim so long as those following it are on the same page.

        This looks to me like a collection of clerics on the same page.

  11. Son of man, can these bones live?

  12. Gail Sheppard says:

    George, one caveat to my earlier statement: Putin called to the table some who were NOT part of the concelebration (according to your list), specifically, His Beatitude Patriarch John X of ANTIOCH, His Beatitude Metropolitan Savva of WARSAW, Metropolitan Theodore of Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti of the GEORGIAN Orthodox Church, and Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech of the BULGARIAN Orthodox Church.

    What this particular group has in common is that they were missing from the Holy and Great Council in Crete, which means they have their issues with the EP.

    Does it concern anybody else that a political leader is able to call together patriarchs and metropolitans in our Church, excluding the EP? If the true objective was to address religious persecution in the Middle East, don’t you think the EP would have been included?

    I’m not a fan of the EP, but I don’t want a political leader leading the charge against him, either. Putin should be working through ROCOR; however, it appears as if ROCOR and other like minded people may be working through him to marginalize the EP. This is dangerous IMO. To claim Putin puts the interests of the Church above his own is just plain stupid. He is not a God appointed Czar. He doesn’t even kiss the hands of these people but Pope Francis and an Orthodox priest kiss his!

    It’s no secret that the Orthodox Church has become a global source of “soft power” and I wouldn’t want Putin, or any other political leader, leveraging this for his own purposes.

    What am I missing here? Why did these people show up at his meeting and why wasn’t the EP included?

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Gail, I hear you. But may I offer another perspective on Putin being a “political leader”? He is. Nothing wrong with that per se. But I think that misses the point, which is this: he’s a layman and he represents a whole lot of laymen. That’s a good thing IMHO.

      Why? Because we laity have to get control back of the Church. To be sure, it’s not ideal that he’s a strong-man leader but what’s to stop us laypeople from banding together and doing the same thing?

      Now I realize that the normative Orthodox ethos is to let the strong-man take care of things but maybe the good things that we are seeing in Russia can embolden us republican-minded Americans to step up to the plate?

      An honest question to one and all.

      As to why the EP wasn’t invited I can only speculate. At this point I’d rather not.

      • Michael Bauman says:

        George, lay people take back control of the Church? Really? Where does that come from? That just seems like an ignorant statement.

        Both we lay people and the Bishops have to give back control of the Church to the Holy Spirit or candlesticks will be falling all over the place.

        The key to that is repentance. Not someone else’s repentance, but mine. I can talk soteriology, etc. and sound pretty good but the darkness and the wasteland in my soul is vast and deep so my opinions have little value.

        Sunday, we had a Trisagion for the dead after the Divine Liturgy and Bishop Basil led it. When he intoned the central prayer that the reposed be in a “place of brightness, a place of verdure, a place of repose where all sickness, sorrow and sighing have fled away…” I shook with the authority of God, even though he spoke the words quitely the echos reverberated in my body.

        We have neither the right nor the skill to control the Church. Shame on you!

        • George Michalopulos says:

          Michael, I regret that my call to arms seemed Prod-like and congregational. My mistake, it certainly wasn’t my intention. I agree that only a godly people can do such a thing. We are far from godly. However, things have gotten so bad in some corners of the Orthodox world that the Holy Spirit may see that that’s the only recourse left. At least at this point in history.

          I mean, we all know how the opposite can be used for God’s purposes. How the Lord allowed the Assyrians to destroy Israel, the Babylonians to destroy the first Temple and the Romans the second Temple. All for the purification of His people Israel. If God could allow the hated gentiles to do His will then why couldn’t He allow the laity, along with a faithful remnant of bishops (who are true monastics) to set right the Church?

          I realize that sounds impertinent but what other choice does the GOA (in this instance) have? More of the same? A compromised oversees bishop to serve as Primate? The so-called metropolitans of the GOA make six-figure salaries and they retire at full pay. The laity of the GOA will never find out how that money was squandered. Heck, I don’t even think the brainiacs on 79th St have a clue as to what happened to the money. And I’m being charitable.

          Now I realize that increasing lay power in the GOA will augment more of the same decrepit leadership provided by the Archons/Leadership 100. Their secular mindset coupled with Byzantine nostalgia will never cease with these people. But whose fault is that? Does your average GOA priest demand orthopraxis from the elites? No, because he knows that when they complain to the bishops, he’ll be thrown under the bus faster than you can say “Jackie Robinson”.

          Forgive my ramble, I seem to be making indictments and not offering any solutions. Perhaps there aren’t any –at least for this generation. It might very well be the case that more lay control is the least, worst option available for the moment. I’ve tried to look at this six ways from Sunday but I can’t see any way out for the GOA at this point. And since the EAUSA is tethered to the GOA, then that albatross is still around our collective necks as well.

          Regardless, I’m optimistic. The silver lining is that by having things implode so horribly, we’ll look back and when the time comes to pick up the pieces, we’ll know what not to do.

          • About 15 years ago, I was discussing the power structure of the Episcopal style of church government with a Byzantine Catholic gentleman. He was a former Franciscan monk and had an MDiv

            I questioned what happens if/when the whole of the episcopate embraces something that is clearly not Orthodox in faith and tradition

            I remember that he stated something to the effect that the laity would have say in rejecting what was happening because the Holy Spirit indwells the whole church, not just the clergy

            It was something like that, I can’t quite remember. But I did remember the fact that the overall thought was being expressed by someone who at the same time believed in top down papal control. It must be interesting to be Byzantine Catholic

            I don’t think anyone means to take power such as a congregational rule mindset

            What I see is laity demanding that from the clergy which is adherence to the tradition, instead of allowing various excuses of why things are in disorder outside the guidelines of our faith church structure.

            What is it that we are asking for but that the tradition be upheld and things go from being irregular to regular?

            It has to be done with proper and appropriate methods of influence. That’s the power I see.

            It is right to be humble, supportive and submissive. On the other hand, it is wrong to be subjegated so extreme that the church lies dormant, choked by its own leadership

            I also believe that if the church in America was structured properly, the ancient practice of all the people being able to select/elect their bishop should apply (from there, I’d be fine with the idea of the Archbishop/Metropolitan being selected from the province/regional bishops only). I think this would help safeguard against the propensity for the clergy to often become a closed ring of self promoting enablers

            Without such a process, it is no wonder certain abuses tend to exist and eventually become typical and deeply entrenched

            I also believe that it would help the church expand greater over time – allowing better for appropriate and healthly growth

          • Michael Bauman says:

            Find a true bishop and follow him.

            • Find Christ and follow Him. Even the most faithful bishop is a flawed human being. “Trust not in princes and sons of men for in them there is no salvation.”

              • Michael Bauman says:

                Like it not, and most in the west do not, we have no Church without a bishop. “Following Christ” easily takes on a narcissitic self-righteousness that is the bane of actual Christianity.

                If we want the Church there will be bishops and priests. If we work to discern those who are following Christ in the Church that is what we can do.

                Taken literally johnkol, your advice
                means that it’s just you and Jesus and the devil take the hind most.

            • You got Metropolitan Joseph’s new contact number? Where do I need to relocate to? Saskatchewan? Does he have a congregation full of reindeer somewhere now?

      • Gail Sheppard says:

        George, Putin is a layman who doesn’t feel it’s necessary to show respect to the office of our metropolitans and patriarchs. You sure we need someone like that leading the charge?

        The laity was never meant to have control over the Church, so why would you think we need to “get it back?” The day the laity bans together and strong-arms the Church into changing is the day the gates of hell prevail.

        It’s all very romantic to think the Russian people rebuilt the Church because it was in their collective souls, but the reality is that in 1997 they passed a law that restricted the freedom of religious practice of faiths considered “foreign.” It was that vacuum that allowed Russian Church to reestablish itself. Putin capitalized on it. He was not responsible for it.

        With regard to the GOA, what if it is the laity we need to worry about?

        http://www.worldreligionnews.com/religion-news/attempt-get-rid-archbishop-demetrios

        • George Michalopulos says:

          Good points Gail. I wasn’t aware that Putin didn’t kiss the hands of bishops. I’m not sure that that’s always the case. When he was here in 2002, he secretly met with Metropolitan Laurus of ROCOR and I heard he kissed his hand. Anyway, he greased the skids so that ROCOR could reunite with the ROC. And that’s a good thing.

          As for the laity of the GOA, I’m in a quandary. We’re screwed any way you look at it. Please remember that my last sentence (or therabouts) was “the least worst option”. However, I will consider your point re the laity getting control as being the day “the gates of hell prevail”. I hadn’t thought of it that way so I may be wrong.

          Of course a better option would be for the Athonites to go in and clean house but they don’t strike me as doing something like that.

          I dunno.

          • Estonian Slovak says:

            George,
            I SAW on Russian TV that Putin shook Metropolitan Laurus’s hand and then kissed him three times. It was Russian TV broadcast over American cable. Thus, it was meant to show all of Russia that he felt himself superior to the hierarchy. At least, that’s my take. He would have impressed the heck out of me had he kissed the Metropolitan’s hand. It may be that Tsar Peter the Great behaved this way. He also abolished the Patriarchate in Russia.I’ll take the Tsar Martyr Nicholas II over him any day. The Tsar Nicholas offered himself to the Holy Synod as a candidate for Patriarch. This would have entailed separation from his family and taking monastic vows. God chose another path for him.

            • George Michalopulos says:

              ES, thanks for the correction. I may have mistaken it for another picture I saw (I think when he was on Athos) and he kissed some monk-priest’s hand. He may still be on his path towards humility, I know I’m not the same man I was ten years ago; twenty years ago I was quite skeptical of Athonite monasticism here in America. Now I try to go every year. What I’m saying is let’s us all cut other people (and us) some slack.

              Having said all that, the intense gratitude that Orthodox Christian leaders feel towards him cannot be overstated. I’ll say this until my dying day: it was Putin who put the kybosh on the Cretan Robber Council. Had he not been in charge, Moscow, Bulgaria, Georgia and Antioch would have been dragged in chains over to Crete to proclaim the wonderfulness of the EP. He might have even take the chance to proclaim the Unia at that conference.

              • Gail Sheppard says:

                George, why would you say it was PUTIN “who put the kybosh on the Cretan Robber Council?” It was reported that Kirill (and even Vladislav Surkov, who claims to be “the author, or one of the authors, of the new Russian system”) visited Mt. Athos immediately before the announcement. I suspect if anyone was behind the withdrawal, it was the monks.

                I knew someone who was very connected to Russia, George. When I met him, he was working with ROCOR to recover some relics belonging to the Tzar’s family. I’ve told you about him in the past. My friend is no longer with us but before he died he told me he had worked with Putin during the years when they were doing cultural exchanges. Putin was still with the KGB at the time. My friend, who was Orthodox, portrayed Putin as a not so bright opportunist. – This guy knew him.

                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Interesting. Good points you raise as well, Gail. I don’t doubt for a minute that Putin has opportunistic tendencies. He’s a politician after all. To my mind, that’s not a disqualifier.

                  If memory serves however, Putin visited Mt Athos some months before the Cretan Robber Council. He was placed on the bishop’s throne of one of the Greek monasteries (it was either Vatopedi or Simonopetra I believe) and there was a tacit understanding that until the Romanov dynasty is legally restored, he’s the imperial place-holder.

                  In any event, I imagine that both he and Patriarch Kirill were double-teaming the EP during the entire pre-Conciliar process. Putin had his own reasons (i.e. Ukraine) for doing so. Regardless, even if it was Kirill who was leading the anti-CRC charge, I’m glad that Putin went along with him. I just wish that every other Orthodox hierarch did so as well.

                  Still, I’m not disputing you just offering a different perspective.

                • Martyr's Guilt says:

                  Gail, Do you see any similarities between Putin, and Assad? Do you believe Putin to be more opportunist, or Orthodox Christian? I do find it hard to believe he is not bright, with all due respect to your friend.

                  • Gail Sheppard says:

                    Martyr’s Guilt,

                    Since you asked. . .

                    I see very little difference between Putin and Assad with one exception: I don’t think Putin would kill 500,000 plus of his own population to stay in power, nor do I think his country would allow it. A few thousand here and a few thousand there, maybe, but not 15% to 20% (in Syria’s case) within the span of 6/7 years.

                    I also don’t think Putin would open up Russia to literally hundreds of different terrorist groups. Quite the contrary.

                    (As you may have guessed, I am not an “the end justifies the means” kind of girl. I tend to be very black and white about these things and Assad is no angel. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/04/18/bashar-al-assads-war-crimes-exposed)

                    Putin is probably not any more opportunistic than any other political leader. I don’t know how smart he is. I trust my friend who was “off the chart” intelligent. If he says Putin is not particularly bright, I believe him. I remember being surprised by how bored I was when I watched him in the Oliver Stone documentary. Putin didn’t impress me like I thought he was going to. The one thing he knows how to do is not talk too much! I imagine it serves him well.

                    I would argue Putin is not all that “Orthodox.” His father was an atheist and women don’t count for much in Russia so I doubt his mother influenced him to any great degree. She may have baptized him, given him to God and was done with it.

                    A lot of hype surrounded that visit he made to Mt. Athos the month before Crete. It’s important to keep in mind that it was a half day pilgrimage and only his second visit. He hasn’t been back since. Even I have spent more time in a monastery than that! If George has seen him kiss the hand of any man, I’d like to request he find the ink and share it. I’m the “GOOGLE queen” and I can’t find it anywhere. I would also like to see where it says there is a “tacit understanding” that he is the Tsar. Sounds like Russian folklore to me but then I am not as “romantic” as George is about these things. I have seen too much.

                    I suspect Putin’s interest in the Church came later in his life. There are some VERY politically savvy people in the Russian Church who no doubt impressed him (perhaps even helped him). If there were no political advantage to align his interests with theirs, I doubt he would do it. His personal feelings, whatever they may be, are probably secondary.

                    To be fair, there are people all over the world who say they’re Orthodox. They are quite sentimental about it, too. They’ll lie, cheat and steal (or worse), attend 1 or 2 services a year, and tell you how much they love Church. (They give fistfuls of money to the Church to prove it, too!) I don’t know how “Orthodox” this is, though. God knows and I imagine He’ll enlighten them with the rest of us when that time comes.

                    • Gail Sheppard says:

                      . . . In the meantime, did you see where Putin got the lease from Assad for the Humaymim air base and the Tartus naval facility?

                      Hmmm . . . I thought he was only there for the Christians.

                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      I never said that it was only for the Christians. I mentioned the two bases which you (Thank you for doing so) named.

                      I never believed for a minute that he’s an altruist.

                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      As usual, you’ve given the fine folks here a lot to chew on.

                      I’ll comment more on this as I need to consider your comments but now all I would like to say is that the “tacit understanding” I wrote about was that he wasn’t the czar but “an imperial placeholder” against that time in which the real czar would be revealed.

                    • Martyr's Guilt says:

                      Gail, Thank you for your well written response. I was correct to label you a wise sister. I will also add, a wise sister in Christ. Sorry George, I am a big fan of your work, but I hope you can see through this romantic Russian spell with Putin.

                      Gail, Putin may not be bright, in intellectual terms, but he must be a managerial and administrative mastermind, and his leadership skills are impressive, though I will say most Russians are easily impressed. That said I find him to be a second class monster, like his friend Assad. First class will always belong to his predecessor Stalin, and his predecessor Lenin. Putin has and will use The Church to his advantage. His predecessor Stalin also used The Church during WW2, desperation. Last I checked, Stalin didn’t care much for neither God nor humanity, but he sure liked what the Orthodox Church had to offer him….survival!

                      Now what rubs me the wrong way with Orthodoxy, be it Greek or Russian, is it’s bad reputation of late in who they partner up with. The GOA had Michael Jaharis, and his money pit, and Orthodoxy in Russia of course have Putin and his government’s never ending money pit. Bad luck for the Greeks, Jaharis died. Now Putin is much younger, but even he can not last forever, as a Faux Tsar. Both churches went all in on both men. The GOA may be saved financially, as America has deep pockets. What happens when Putin is gone, and the next leader is not so fond of Orthodoxy’s new found power, or what it might have to offer him and his country?

                      I am not a end’s justify the means type of person, as well, but many in Orthodox leadership are, and look the other way, to their murderous leader’s actions. Are not all souls precious, or are our spiritual leaders just bean counters and sorters? Some live some die, oh well. Then they have the gall to point fingers at each other, EP versus MP, BS, petty infighting, and political back stabbing is not only tolerated, but expected! This is how a True Church operates? Do they not fear Christ, or most importantly love Christ? Do they believe they, and their deep pocketed friends will live forever? This is a stain on our religion. Some days it drives mad, and I debate whether I should guide my family to seek other ways to participate in, The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Gail, how do you see through this madness, and still come to church every Sunday? Sorry for the ramble, but right or wrong it’s simply how I feel.

                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      MG, I am grateful to have another “wise sister in Christ” on this blog. (I did read that right: you are a woman?) The more the merrier.

                      Your’s and Gail’s responses deserve a thoughtful consideration on my part. I hope this suffices:

                      1. While it is clear that Assad has murdered several hundred thousands of his own people, we cannot forget that Saddam Hussein was worse –infinitely worse. Are you (or anybody else wishing to comment) glad that we went into Iraq and toppled his regime? Is the aftermath worth it, for all sides?

                      2. We forget our own history here in America: the ethnic cleansing of the Indians from the South, the atrocity that was Sherman’s March to the Sea and the forcible internment of Japanese American citizens in concentration camps during WWII. If the War Between the States was fought today, the death toll would be upwards of 4,000,000 based on the population of the US and the US now.

                      3. We keep on hearing about how Putin is only slightly “less” of a monster than Assad because –he simply is. There are no numbers to back it up other than the Chechen wars. Which he, like Lincoln, views as a civil war. As for the body count of journalists which is constantly laid at his feet, well, it pales in comparison to the dozens of victims of Arkancide.

                      4. As for his piety –God knows. I will say this: I’ve known many Russians and Eastern Europeans in my life and I saw how they struggled to come to Orthodoxy and the deep compromises they or their parents had to make to get to this point. Not only intellectual compromises but orthopractic ones. When I was younger people in my GOA parish used to snicker at little old ladies making full prostrations before icons. Before you knew it, nobody was doing them. Until now, and mainly at the Athonite monasteries. And yes, I look ridiculous because my generation fell out of the practice. What’s my point? Don’t judge another person’s struggle at piety. It may be all a sham but you or I can’t know that.

                      5. Like Gail and yourself, I’m not an “ends justifies the means person” either. At the same time, I look at the fruits of a person, not his heart (which I can’t). My philosophy on leadership is the same as Martin Luther’s: “it’s better to be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian”. Give me a wise Turk (or former KGB officer or real estate developer) over any Establishmentarian who’ll sell out his country at the drop of a hat any day. For years we were fooled by the noblesse oblige of Bush 41 and his patrician manners. Now we know that –unlike Trump–he actually does grab women’s privates.

                      6. As for the late Mr Jaharis, I never met him. From what I know about his speeches, he seemed pretty evangelical to me. As for his giving, God bless him.

                      Time constraints do not allow me to continue. Perhaps later. Thank you for your considered criticisms.

                    • Martyr's Guilt says:

                      George you are a Ponyruuli, if my suspicions are right. Left myself open for that one, didn’t I? Sorry to let you down, but not female. Just adding another complement to Gail. Now I was raised by saintly, but tough as nails Greek woman, calling me one is no insult to me. In fact my YiaYias could probably kick both of our butts at the same time, or at least stare the sin right out of us. Don’t know if Gail is Greek, but she seems both tough as nails, and quite intelligent as well. You are very lucky to have her here. If she ever leaves Monomakhos, you should close up shop.

                      As far as your first five points, mostly agree, except that my point was not about Government A, B, or C is less guilty of murder than another. My point is that one would think our Orthodox Church, would/should set itself apart from the stench our Governments have to offer Orthodoxy, and it’s leaders. They are setting themselves up for a big fall, and taking the laity down into the pit with them. It is so sinful on so many levels, but so many want to hang with the big boys, and their big guns, impressing who? Your blog is first to point out GOA leaders hob nobbing, and giving awards to leftist, pro-abortionist politicians, and rightly so, but look the other way, when Russian Orthodoxy kisses the hand of Putin, and his murdering thugs. Perhaps Orthodoxy is guilty of Vatican envy, hey now with Putin behind them, they got something, The Pope never had. The Bomb!

                      By the way, I do not know heart of Mr. Jaharis, what I know from one speech, is he was not a fan of Monasteries, if fact quite suspicious of them. Since his passing, it seems the GOA has gone into default, so I pray his influence was evangelical, and not a power trip.

                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      She’s a gem

                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      MG, I’m against all “hobnobbing” by Church leaders with politicians. But here in the USofA, it seems that the GOA in particular goes all out for hobnobbing with the most extreme pro-abortionist politicians out there. As a Greek-American (also raise by a tough-as-nails Greek-American woman), it grates on me. I would be more than happy for a moratorium on all political hobnobbing taking place –across the board.

                      Yeah, Jaharis, like most of the Archons/Leadership 100 crowd were definitely not fans of the monasteries. But I still admire his evangelical spirit and his generosity. To my mind, that means a lot. Being a billionaire/CEO of a Fortune 400 company, he could have imbibed the secular culture; instead he poured his energies into the Church. The fact that the GOA has hindered the Gospel lo these many years is not an indictment of Mr Jaharis.

              • George,

                That is the thing that so many people miss about the council at Crete. The Phanar pushed the documents through the process of being approved by the patriarchs under the impression that they could be cleaned up or revised at the council, then Pat. Bartholomew turned the tables and stated that the only changes to the drafts that would be permitted would be by unanimous consensus.

                Essentially, he treated the purported great council like a bureaucratic function in his contempt for the process and thus excluded the Holy Spirit who most certainly cannot be gamed. The local churches which did not attend realized this to varying degrees.

                There was an obvious and flagrant attempt to bless other Christian confessions with the term “church” which in Orthodoxy is reserved for the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church – that being the Eastern Orthodox Church, coterminous and exclusive of all other groups. Constantinople had some combination of the Anglican Branch Theory and Protestant baptismal theology in mind, apparently, as the right medicine to “bring the Orthodox into the 21st century”, so to speak.

                It is all so shallow and superficial. Like a bad B-movie. If they want to lie on par with Rome they really need to take some classes.

                In any case, in the aftermath the Phanar is discredited without being publicly, explicitly shamed as such. Everyone with a brain who paid attention knows exactly what transpired. Thus there is a leadership vacuum . . . or was . . .

                I, for one, do not want to get ahead of Moscow . . . especially since they are still getting their sea legs and there could be turbulence on the horizon. But it seems as if that is where we are headed.

                The MP is still getting used to its role as a protector of Tradition (to put it politely). They have had a tin ear coming out of the Soviet period. I will be the first to testify to that. But they have gotten rid of most of the collaborators by this point and are once again finding their true voice. It is a work in progress. They really should work more closely with the Church Abroad in this respect, even vetting major decisions through the ROCOR synod if need be. No self respecting theologically competent person in ROCOR would have, for example, approved the Joint Statement between the Pope and Patriarch that was issued. ROCOR was the receptacle of the supreme governing authority in the Church of Russia up until the reunification. The MP never lacked grace, just gravitas. Now it is getting its mojo back.

                PS: As to the kissing thing, let’s grow up. I’m not sure what the deal is but I can say for certain it has nothing to do with withholding proper respect from Orthodox hierarchs. It is possible that it is in light of his status as head of state of the Russian Federation. Did Byzantine emperors kiss that hands of bishops or did they kiss each other as equals? I know that the emperor was allowed at the altar to take communion. I’m sure there is a practice that the Russian emperors inherited. Putin has not been anointed czar but nonetheless probably prefers to protect the dignity of his office as head of the Russian State. We recall Obama bowing left and right to anyone around.

                See:

                Byzantine Court Culture – https://books.google.com/books?id=qjy2d8ExpTAC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

                • Estonian Slovak says:

                  That does it, George! I put up with narcissists like Michael Warren(Rostislav Michailovich Z) and Millman. But I refuse to be lectured by a man who publicly called for wife beating here on this blog. I wish you and everyone here a Blessed Nativity. I will not be posting here again.

                  • George Michalopulos says:

                    ES, as long as Misha plays by the rules and says nothing heretical or outrageous or actionable, he can comment.

                  • Constaninos says:

                    Millman was narcissist? He was very funny, unpredictable, and entertaining. Monomakhos has become very boring without him.

            • Joseph Lipper says:

              Estonian Slovak,

              Did Putin not kiss Metropolitan Laurus’ hand before the reunion with the Moscow Patriarchate or was it after?

              If it was before the reunion, then it would make sense, just like you wouldn’t kiss the hand of priest who is outside of the Church. I know that Putin met with Metropolitan Laurus before the reunion.

              • Estonian Slovak says:

                Sir,
                I am not aware that either you or Mr. Putin is qualified to determine who is or isn’t in the church. I am not aware of a single case in which the MP reordained any cleric ordained by ROCOR or even had some prayers read over them. On the other hand, either Metropolitan Hilarion or Metropolitan Jonah serving with him, did reordain a priest coming from the uncanonical Macedonians.
                Furthermore, the Serbs served with ROCOR long before the union and neither the MP nor the EP nor anyone else broke communion with them over it. Try again.

                • Joseph Lipper says:

                  Estonian Slovak, the issue at hand was only communion. Before the reunion, would it have been customary for somebody from ROCOR to have gone up to a priest of the Moscow Patriarchate and asked for his blessing and kissed his hand? Perhaps, but if I recall, it was more customary for them to avoid each other and walk on opposite sides of the street if they could. Thank God there was a reunion, but healing is not easy and takes time.

                  • George Michalopulos says:

                    Interesting replies JL. They are correct IMO. We forget about the lack of communion between ROCOR and ROC.

          • Martyr’s Guilt says:

            This sister knows what’s she talking about George. In other words she knows, that she and we don’t know, even if we think we do.. The political machinery of World Orthodoxy today, is like an expensive Swiss watch, purrs like a kitten, until one wheel gets too much GREASE. Very few people know how to fix an expensive watch, but those that do, keep their dying trade within their circles. So When the other gears and wheels get gummed up from the one over greased wheel, the watch quits working, until all the wheels and gears are properly cleaned and equally oiled. With a expensive and valuable watch this requires removing all parts and cleaning them of all gummy grease and shaved precious metal. Once properly cleansed, all parts are returned to the watch, minus a couple insignificant minor parts, and loose screws, easily replaced. All puns intenteded!

            • George Michalopulos says:

              The Sister does indeed know what she’s talking about.

              Regardless, I haven’t worn a watch in years.

              • George Michalopulos says:

                BTW, I really loved the analogy MG. Maybe what we are seeing is the “watch being taken apart” and “useless pieces being left behind” while “it is being put back together.”

                Let’s not forget that seven churches were addressed by John in the Book of Revelation. Not all were up to snuff and one –Laodicea–was going to be “vomited out” by the Lord.

          • George

            What I see as possible action on the part of the laity and what is being stated as strong arm control is two different things

            The day the gates of hell will prevail? I don’t know about that

            What do you call what has happened to the American Church (as well as the Orthodox Church worldwide) since Meletius IV Metaxakis? If the gates of hell can’t prevail against us, they can sure dunk on us nonstop

            Who is responsible for and who failed to act regarding Metaxakis? How could have things turned out differently and what would have been the catalyst?

        • Greatly Saddened says:

          Gail … thank you for posting the above article from World Religion News. I found it quite interesting, to say the least.

  13. Joseph Lipper says:

    Gail Sheppard,

    I’m pretty sure this was just a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the restoration of the Russian Patriarchy. That was the official reason why Patriarch John of Antioch was there. I’m not sure if the EP was invited, but it may not have interested them anyways.

    As to why Putin met with all the gathered foreign hierarchs, that’s just what he customarily does. He makes a diplomatic effort.

    Right before this concelebration, there was a separate council of the Moscow Patriarchate from November 29th to December 2nd:

    https://mospat.ru/en/2017/12/02/news153781/

  14. Gail Sheppard says:

    I hope you’re right, Joseph.

  15. Joseph Lipper says:

    Estonian Slovak,

    Today, I have a lot of respect for the Greek Old Calendarists, but my bishop is not in communion with their bishop, so I currently wouldn’t kiss the hand of a Greek Old Calendarist priest. If I met one, I would be cordial and shake his hand.

  16. Michael Woerl says:

    ” … people may be working through him to marginalize the EP.” No “people” have to do that, or “work through” anyone to do so. The EP has marginalized itself with its incessant novelties, modernism, minimalism, and ecumenical excess, beginning around 1920. It is, basically, irrelevant. Totally. Turkish citizens in a Turkish city named “Istanbul” pretending something else altogether. Crete was the start of the last nails in the coffin. Unity with the Vatican will finish it off! But no Western Armies to enforce it this time!

  17. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find an article from Tuesday’s The National Herald. Unfortunately the article is locked and doesn’t appear in its entirety. I will continue to be on the lookout for the article in its entirety, and if found, I will post.

    Hellenic College and Holy Cross in Serious Enrollment and Financial Crisis

    https://www.thenationalherald.com/184432/hellenic-college-holy-cross-serious-enrollment-financial-crisis/

  18. Greatly Saddened says:

    In a recent article, it had been stated that due to the most recent financial crisis, The Archdiocese, may have to sell one of its two buildings on East 79th Street. Only time will tell for sure. At this point, all we can do is pray and hope for the best.

    • George Michalopulos says:

      That may be the best case scenario. We’ll know things are really bad when they start taking offers for HC/HC and its 20 acres (?) of prime real estate in Brookline.

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