Ligonier, Its Aftermath and the Collateral Damage to the GOA

The title for this essay comes from a recent comment by one of our correspondents. If you’ll permit me, I’ll try to connect all the dots.

As you may know by know, it appears that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is in free-fall. Several of you have contributed links to other sites which have detailed on a daily basis the avalanche of bad news that has befallen the largest Orthodox jurisdiction in America. I won’t bore you with the details but the picture that is painted by The National Herald and others is a dire one. Indeed, it’s so bleak that it’s incredible. We’re talking about basic things like there being no electricity to operate the elevator or the money necessary for exterminators. That bad.

This parlous state of affairs was not unforeseen. But first an explanation. Even though American Orthodoxy is divided into several ethnic jurisdictions, it has long been my fervent belief that what affects one jurisdiction will affect all. That’s because I believe that the Orthodox Church is the mystical body of Christ. Therefore when a massive influx of converts enter into one jurisdiction it positively affects all jurisdictions. Conversely, when one scandal plagues one church all the others are affected as well –to one degree or another.

Therefore if you’ll permit me my observation. Several years ago, Yours Truly made a prediction right before the unjust ouster of Metropolitan Jonah, that if Syosset was successful in their uncanonical action, then Orthodoxy in America would suffer greatly. This was certainly proven with the OCA which has not recovered from this injustice (nor will it). I then made counter-intuitive prediction that the GOA would likewise suffer if only in this way: through indifference. That has likewise proven to be the case.

Except for this and a precious few other blogs, the indifference shown to the GOA is apparent. This has not been because of malice or envy but simply because there hasn’t been anything worth writing home to Mother about. Basically, nothing positive has been accomplished by that jurisdiction. That is unless you consider FAITH: An Endowment for Hellenism and Orthodoxy donating $250,000 for a new swimming pool at the Ionian Village in Greece to be a “positive development”.

Now, I don’t mean to say that Syosset’s contretempts led to the GOA’s downfall. That would be ridiculous. What I am saying is that when institutions become rackets, then malaise invariably sets in and it can’t be extirpated until a general collapse takes place. That collapse is now proceeding apace. In fact, if Orthodoxy is to be able to take root in America, the GOA has to collapse. (As do the others of course, but first, the GOA, the largest and wealthiest has to implode.)

Indeed, it could be no other way. The various jurisdictions in this country are built upon sand for the most part. This is apparent when one looks at the canons and how they are regularly obliterated based on whims and political exigencies. A stark example would be found in the Antiochian jurisdiction when the late Metropolitan Philip Saliba demoted the several bishops to auxiliary status, just a few years after they had been ordained as the diocesan ordinaries of North American cities. Likewise, he countermanded the directive of one of these bishops when four majority ethnic churches refused to obey their bishop. In addition, other innocent people who have tried to point out injustices have suffered for their courage (as one of our correspondents has pointed out herself).

Likewise in the GOA for instance, when the Ecumenical Patriarch dismissed the slate of candidates for the episcopal seat of Chicago out of hand, simply because it didn’t have his preferred candidate on it. This happened as well in the Diocese of the South of the OCA, an action which undercut one of the main arguments of the OCA’s autocephaly. We could no doubt think of other such incidents but in the final analysis, all this proves is that Orthodoxy in America is in a parlous state.

To be sure, what we are describing here are symptoms of a disease, not the cause. The cause I submit to you is that we have never developed the proper phronema required for an authentic Orthodox witness. Moreover, we have never really been allowed to –on many sides. Priests of course blame parish councils, many of which are made up of highly assimilated and secularized laymen. Laymen on the other hand blame obscurantist non-native bishops who they feel view America as a colony of the Old Country. Then again there are the ancient patriarchates which view America as their personal cash cow. I’m sure there are other reasons as well. I grant you it’s complicated and that there’s more than enough blame to go around on all sides.

This all came to a head in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, when in 1994, twenty-nine Orthodox bishops from all canonical jurisdictions came forward to declare a path to independence and authentic territorial dioceses. The excitement was palpable. Though we could not in good conscience say that the Church in America was sufficiently mature at that point, what we did see back then among the attendees was agape and the enthusiasm that flows from it. And we should never forget what St Paul said about agape: it covers a multitude of sins. Like the marital bond enjoyed by two united in Christian eros, the deficiencies one will be made up by the other. Gladly and joyfully.

To this day I fervently believe that our respective deficiencies would have been borne and made whole by others. In time, a proper Orthodox phronema sufficient to America would have grown. And by its growth, America could itself have been baptized. This is what I mean when I say “collateral damage”.

The damage has in fact been widespread. Instead of working together in the spirit of Ligonier, we have only seen enmity and envy. This is now starkly apparent in the GOA, where, despite an explosive multi-million dollar growth in the annual budget, there is nothing to show for it but massive deficits.

I won’t go into details as to how this came about. No doubt there are several reasons, most all of them unsavory. I doubt we’ll ever really know the whole story but there is no use crying over spilt milk. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t really matter. The collapse of Orthodoxy in America was fore-ordained given its shaky foundations. As it says in the Good Book: “pride goeth before a fall”. And now the GOA –the most prideful of the jurisdictions–is falling. Hard.

Nor will it recover. Clearly, Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis will take the fall. In my opinion, this is rather unfair. Why? I continue to believe that given the circumstances, whoever was the primate was set up for a fall. Therefore, if the Phanar continues to play the normal phanariote games and replaces him with a compromised bishop of their choosing, then the downfall will only accelerate.

So is the outlook for American Orthodoxy bleak? Not at all. The Lord in the past has used catastrophes to cleanse His Church. Permit me to explain: as an Hellene, I was taught to view the conquest of Constantinople as a tragedy. Yet that downfall preserved Orthodoxy. Why? Because the patriarchate of Constantinople at that time had lapsed into the heresy of Uniatism. As bad as things were for the Greek people, a repentance took place in the wake of that tragedy and they remained Orthodox. (I for one believe that the reason the Ukraine suffers at present is precisely because that nation has not been able to overcome that heresy.)

It is for this reason that we Orthodox here in America will look upon this collapse and take the measure of our shortcomings. Perhaps we will come to the realization that the reason Ligonier was strangled in its cradle in the first place was to serve the interests of a false ecumenism, not unlike that which the Paleologian emperors were foisting upon the Byzantine state. Given the apparent fact that the raison d’etre of the Ecumenical see since the time of Meletios IV Metaxakis has a program of ecumenism, this is not an unreasonable assumption. As such, it is my hope that we will be able to connect the necessary dots and make the appropriate corrections.

And then, when it pleases the Lord, we will be graced with an authentic American Orthodox Church.

Comments

  1. Monk James says:

    Oh, there’s a lot to think about here, and I’m grateful to George Michalopulos for sharing his thoughts with us.

    One important factor contributing to the failure of Ligonier is missing from this analysis, though, and that is that the bishops of two ethnic jurisdictions which had opted for Constantinople’s authority rather than return to their mother, the Russian Orthodox Church, which they feared would russify them. These were bishops Nicholas Smishko of the Carpatho-Russians in America, and Vsyevolod Maydanskiy of the Ukrainians here.

    Although Archbishop Iakovos Koukouzes of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America (a dependency of Constantinople as it was constituted at that time) was completely on board with the decisions reached at Ligonier, bishops Nicholas and Vsyevolod betook themselves to Constantinople and LIED to the patriarch about the actions and intentions of the Ligonier meetings.

    As far as can be discerned, the lies which these venal bishops told Constantinople were motivated by one single factor: They wanted their ‘jurisdictions’ to retain their ethnic characteristics rather than blend into a single American church.

    These men were mistaken, of course, since each parish has — and has always had — its own ethnic flavor, especially in the Orthodox Church in America.

    Eventually, some of these customs will be homogenized, I suppose, but in the meantime we can rejoice in the differences we find when we visit parishes away from home, fully Orthodox, yet fully themselves.

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Beautifully spoken, Fr. Thank you for correcting the record.

      If I may, while these two bishops did much to sabotage Ligonier, the EP did not have to listen to them. The fault ultimately rests with him. (Or perhaps us, we could have risen up in righteous indignation and told him that we were going to do it anyway.)

      Sigh.

      • Monk James says:

        There’s more than enough blame to go around, sinners that we all are, but because Patriarch Demetrios apparently believed the false representations of the two traitorous bishops, he punished us all by dismantling the GOA and forcing the retirement of Abp Iakovos.

        The EP did this in order to ‘divide and conquer’, consolidating Constantinople’s authority over fragments of the GOA, more easily managed than the monolithic structure which they replaced. With such control established, the EP could then more efficiently oppose any moves toward an American church — bad ecclesiology but good for the Phanar’s bottom line.

        Orthodox Christianity in the United States has never yet recovered from the ensuing chaos.

        • Greatly Saddened says:

          Monk James … it was Patriarch Bartholomew, not Patriarch Demetrios. What makes matters even worse is, Patriarch Bartholomew believed these two bishops. Rather than his Godmother’s brother, His Eminence of blessed memory, Archbishop Iakovos. How sad is that?

    • Monk James,

      Thank you for the additional insight into what went on at Ligonier. I still remember reading about the meeting in the NY Times article a few days after the meeting (pre-internet days!) — I was hopeful, then later, not so hopeful.

      I wonder what Metropolitan Orestes (the “father” of ACROD) would have thought of Bishop Nicholas’ and Bishop Vsevolod’s actions to undermine Ligonier? Truth be told, ACROD grew out of a “neither Rome nor Moscow” mentality, so in this light, Bishop Nicholas’ and Bishop Vsevolod’s actions are not surprising.

      Many Ukrainians also have a “neither Rome nor Moscow” mentality (except the Uniate Ukrainians), even though the cradle of Russian Orthodoxy is in Kiev. (Or, in the case of the former St Nicholas Church in Philadelphia, they have a “neither OCA nor MP nor ROCOR nor UOCofUSA nor ACROD” mentality, but “yes to the schismatic pseudo-‘Patriarch’ Filaret.” Still angry about that one. If that parish thinks they will thrive now, they have a few screws loose.)

      For anyone who’s interested in American Orthodox history, I highly recommend reading “Good Victory” by Fr Lawrence Barriger, which is a sort-of biography of Metropolitan Orestes and a more-or-less history of the ACROD. It’s fascinating and explains some of the Slavic Orthodox jurisdictional mess that we have today in America. The book also explains why there are 3 different Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Churches in Bridgeport, Connecticut! For we Orthodox, the shortest distance between two points is often not a straight line but a rather convoluted zigzag. Sigh.

  2. Good observations George.

    For me……ROCOR seems to be the best place for this sinner right now.

    (And many of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries).

  3. Greatly Saddened says:

    Let us not forget who the Patriarch’s Godmother is. She is His Eminence of blessed memory, Archbishop Iakovos’ sister. Unfortunately, nothing seems to be sacred any longer.
    I guess the Patriarch felt threatened and decided to ask for His Eminence Iakovos’ resignation. Divide and conquer. The rest is history. Things have continued to go down hill from that point on. In my humble opinion, with little hope in sight.

  4. Peter Ray Millman says:

    Please file this under YOU CAN’T MAkE ThIS STUFF UP.

    1) On fox news, an hispanic college professor wrote that teaching mathematics perpetuates so called “white privilege.”
    2) Kathy Griffin called President Trump a moron and a Nazi.
    3) Granny “Pocahontas” Warren claims she was sexually harassed.
    Unbelievable!!!

  5. Survival in the face of historical exigencies is a fact the Ecumenical Patriarchate has had to deal with ever since the fall of Constantinople. And in that context, much of what has emanated from the Phanar has been justified in the scheme of things ever since. But beyond the need for self preservation, the failure to accept the reality of the here and the now in which the Faithful have lived has contributed to myriad problems throughout the Orthodox world and recently to the situation the GOA is in today. A jurisdiction in disarray and one for which His All Holiness Bartholomew is largely to blame is well described by the historical events chronicled by George Michalopoulos and Monk James. Governance by remote control with self serving motives coupled with leadership and goals unintended to serve the Faithful portend disastrous outcomes. Sad but true, a jurisdiction in America, which should have been in the vanguard leading all others toward a one unified Orthodox Church of America has been crippled by those for whom Body of Christ seems to have a distorted and parochial meaning.

    • Monk James says:

      Yes. All attempts to explain (there are NO excuses) this ecclesiological confusion notwithstanding, we are in deep disarray and in need of some serious rearrangements, especially in North America.

  6. The previous Patriarch of Jerusalem was ousted. The Ecumenical Patriarch before Athenagoras l patriarch Maximos v was forced to resign because he was thought to have communist sympathies. Was that canonical?

  7. Reads as if the Orthodox leadership have little idea what Othodoxy is about.

  8. In the Desert says:

    I mourn to think of the accountability that will be required of those who choose to take the most precious thing in this world, the Church, and turn it into a arena of political intrigue. How much good has been lost? How many opportunities squandered? What holy things have been wasted by such petty concerns? Yet God still loves and cares for us, even if that love and care means a purging fire to clear out the underbrush and set us right for new life. Stay faithful, people, and practice your Faith. God knows. God hears. God understands.

    • AMEN. In the desert, The National Herald is first friend to Greek, before Greek Orthodoxy!

      “Therefore, putting away lying,”Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.”Be angry and do not sin”:do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”-Ephesians 4:25-30

  9. r j klancko says:

    the problem is that these children do not know how to play in the sand box together in a civil manner. as such we become the scandal of christianity. if we all would start putting christian back into what we called ourselves, and the if we opened the bible – even for the first time – as saw what it mean’t to be christians perhaps a lot of this tomfoolery would go away.

    these is not logical reason for us not to have an american church, a church led by americans without long beards and weird accents, led by those who can clearly articulate the english language. the only way the faithful will recognize their mission as christians is for the leadership to come out of their caccoons and actual lead in christian harmony.
    pogo has identified our problem very well, we are our problem — it is time to stand up and take responsibility for our collective actions.

    at best count we have under 800,000 adherents and if we continue to act like sects instead of christians we will be joining the dodos quite soon.

    this in not greece, nor russia, nor syria etc this is america, we need to be unified as americans not into 15 canonical jurisdictions with some 55 bishops and 1900 parishes — this is pure lunacy — it is an acknowledged fact that the oca has the primary jurisdiction legacy — so why not merge tomorrow into it and make and preserve a strong legacy for generations to come

    just ask yourselves this wigsau — what is god saying about us???????

    i am afraid of the answer, are you?

    • George Michalopulos says:

      RK, it goes deeper than that. Whenever sodomy infects an all male hierarchy, even minimally, corruption accelerates.

      • VASEILI DOUKAS says:

        Both the GOA and the OCA are being assaulted by both clergy and laity seeking to advance their gay agenda and eventually assume control

        • Interesting observation, Vaseili. What do you base this on? I think the only group assaulting the GOA is the GOA itself, with its financial shenanigans and abuse of power. I don’t think a “gay agenda” has anything to do with the recent million-dollar deficit and other nationwide scandals being reported.

    • Will Harrington says:

      Just a note from this long haired country boy, beards aren’t weird and prejudice against people with accents may be a longstanding American tradition, but it will kill the Church as surely as any other sort of phyletism.

  10. I told you so.

    Long ago I made the case that the Metropolia and the Phanar were really a two pronged attack on Orthodoxy to bring it into Uniatism. Trees may be judged by their fruit. Fr. Alexis Toth brought a boat load of Carpatho-Uniates into what was the the Russian Mission in America. There were later waves. That accounts for the later division between the Metropolia and the ROCOR during the Met. Platon period and subsequently.

    In France, it was the Paris School under the omophor of Constantinople.

    What was behind it all was Rome. We needn’t argue about it. It will be hard to prove for some time because all the actual physical evidence would be in the hands of Rome. Everything else is circumstantial. Someone asked Fr. John Meyendorff once about converting to Catholicism and he said it would be pointless. Uniate mentality.

    http://orthodox-theology.com/media/PDF/IJOT2.2014/Mong.pdf

    If you dismiss the feints to Orthodoxy being the Church and actually read what the man wrote and said, it is clear that he had a quasi-uniate mentality and that this has infected the OCA to this day.

    There is no greater unity to be rediscovered. Ut unum sunt is reality, not a goal. Neo-Patristicism and Schmemannism were quasi-heterodox mistakes.

    The Orthodox Church, and only the Orthodox Church, is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

    That false phronema has been the problem and the solution is clear. It is being played out now in the contention between the Phanar/Crete Robber Council on one side and the Churches of Russia, Georgia, the Athonites, Fr. Zisis. This is where the line has always been. New Calendarism was always heteropraxis and quasi-heterodox.

    It is time for a reckoning.

    • Estonian Slovak says:

      No, sorry, I’m no fan of the Paris School and what they appear to have infected the OCA with. I like services in an understandable language. I’m not in love with the Revised Julian calendar, but I can live with it. I do have a huge problem with the silent prayers read out loud during the liturgy. Please don’t let anyone tell me that how it was in the ancient church. Maybe so, but in the ancient church, the St. James Liturgy was used. In the ancient church, one might be cut off from communion for years, for committing fornication, for example.
      Reading prayers out loud was an innovation of the Living “church” , along with married bishops and other so-called returns to Apostolic tradition. Without this sad legacy, the Church of Russia today might have actually gone over to Modern Russian as a liturgical language. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Slavonic, I love the services in Greek, but people should understand the Gospel.
      If parishes could have a regular cycle of Vespers and Matins, preferably prior to every liturgy, and the theology of the church could be expressed in an understandable language, then a liturgy served 50/50 might be a good plan, depending on local needs, of course.
      But Misha, you do St. Alexis Toth an injustice, in my opinion. He led Uniates back to the faith that the Poles and Hungarians had forced their ancestors to abandon; by use of force and misrepresentation. Had the Russian Revolution and the upheaval following not affected church life here, maybe some of the Uniate practices one sees in OCA parishes and elsewhere might have been phased out by now.

    • Alitheia1875 says:

      Precisely. There is no such thing as “unity” among the various “Christian” denominations. You cannot unite, or re-unite, that which has never been divided. When the priest proclaims “broken but not sundered” (correct translation ?) he is referring to the Body of Christ, which, even on the Cross, was not broken. But this theology escapes, or is ignored, by hierarchs who are interested only in the glory of the world. There is no partial apostolicity, no apostolic succession outside Orthodoxy, no “churches” which are almost Orthodox or which share common ground. Common ground existed only when there was one Church. There is, in fact, only one “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”

      • Alithia, your assertion contradicts the writings of the saints. Both St Photios, during the schism while he was patriarch , calls the schismatic Cathilic church , the Western Church. Likewise St Mark of Ephesus calls the Cathilic Church the Western Church.

        • Michael Bauman says:

          Johnkal, read the 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs to Pope Pius IX.

        • Alitheia1875 says:

          True enough, but there has been a patristic and conciliar consensus for some time now that Roman Catholicism and Protestants have gone beyond schism. They are, in fact, mired in heresy.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says:

            Depends on which Protestants you are talking about. The ones I know the most about are mired in apostacy.

            • George Michalopulos says:

              TimR, did you ever see the movie Local Hero? It’s one of my faves. Funny, whimsical and ironic all rolled into one. It takes place in a Scottish village on the North Sea. One of the characters is the pastor of the local Presbyterian church who is an African. It seems that there were no Scottish men who could minister to that village. When he introduced himself to the American hot-shot who was sent there to buy up property for a Houston-based oil company, he told him “my name is Rev so-and-so, I’m not Scottish”.

              Anyway, it’s a heartwarming movie. I highly recommend it.

              • Estonian Slovak says:

                Yes, it’s one of my favorites,too. The African minister sure spoke like a Scot. Then there was the scene when someone gave the Gaelic toast “slainte”, and none of the Scots understood. Then the visiting Russian said, “Na zdorovie” and they understood that!

                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Yeah, Viktor, the Russian sang a country song too at a fete. I think it was “Lonesome Guy from the Lone Star State” or something like that.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says:

      So Fr. Alexis Toth was working for Rome all the while?

      It does get confusing. “Schmemannism” and “Meyendorfism” brought many people of a generation to the Orthodox church.

      Well, we “Eastern Rite Protestants” (as Michael Warren used to put it) will have to do the best we can with what we have learned from these dubious sources……

  11. r j klancko says:

    leonty, platon, theophil all were widowers — they were and are the cream of the crop aren’t they —– perhaps the time is nigh for married bishops, all of whom and this is a radical statement, have mba’s so they know how to run their diocese

    • rj, married Bishop would certainly improve the quality of our Bishops but MBAs surely do not guarantee honesty and integrity.

    • Estonian Slovak says:

      Metropolitan Platon, in my opinion, led the Metropolia, now OCA, into schism from the Church Abroad. Apologists for him and the subsequent Metropolia/OCA never seem to be able to explain why it was perfect all right for them not to recognise the MP during the Soviet years, but when ROCOR did the same thing, it was called schism. As for married bishops, see my reply to Misha above. To me it’s all a hothouse attempt to return to Apostolic Tradition; read reform the church. It’s we who need reforming, not the church.

  12. Fr Stephen Lourie says:

    Over time I is apparent that the worst thing about this blog are the comments.
    I always regret reading them.
    Pray more read less.

  13. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find the article from this past Saturday, of The National Herald. It was posted today in its entirety on OCL’s website.

    “Archbishop Iakovos’ Home Sale Money Missing at the Archdiocese”

    http://ocl.org/archbishop-iakovos-home-sale-money-missing-greek-archdiocese/

  14. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find an article from today’s The National Herald. It was posted in its entirety on OCL’s website.

    “Fr. Melackrinos, Formerly of Long Island Church, Assigned to Parish in Iowa”

    http://ocl.org/fr-melackrinos-formerly-long-island-church-assigned-parish-iowa/

  15. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find an article from today’s The National Herald in its entirety.

    “Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria to Reinstate Order of Women Deacons?”

    https://www.thenationalherald.com/179536/greek-orthodox-patriarch-alexandria-reinstate-order-women-deacons/

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Oy gevalt!

      • Estonian Slovak says:

        Gee, George, you’re just finding out about this? I believe back during Great Lent, Dr. Gayle Woloschak and Dr. Elizabeth Podromou were gushing about this event on Ancient Faith Radio. The excuse used was, ” All hands on deck”. That’s just what Rome said, to justify Altar girls and women Eucharistic ministers. Why, even some Lutheran churches are more traditional than this. I’m beginning to wish that I HAD gone to the Greek Old Calendarists after ROCOR joined so-called World Orthodoxy.

  16. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find an article from Tuesday’s The Jerusalem Post.

    “Court Rejects Orthodox Church’s Appeal, Delays Jerusalem Land Sale”

    http://m.jpost.com/Israel-News/Court-rejects-Orthodox-Churchs-appeal-delays-Jerusalem-land-sale-508305

  17. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find an article from Tuesday’s The National Herald in its entirety.

    “Analysis: All are Responsible”

    https://www.thenationalherald.com/179278/analysis-all-are-responsible/

  18. Greatly Saddened says:

    Moments after checking to see whether the above article: “Analysis: All are Responsible” was in its entirety, I posted the above post. Unfortunately since my post, they decided to once again put a lock on the article. After noticing the lock, I did attempt to delete the above post. Please accept my apology. Thank you.

  19. Edgar Tomopolous says:

    First off, getting rid of + Jonah was the best thing the OCA did. As discussed here before, he tried to high jack the OCA making unilateral decisions. He had to go. The OCA is 100% healthier now. Regarding Ligonier, + Iakavos should have refused the Phanar, joined the OCA taking as many parishes as he could with him. + Philip should have done the same. The outcome: they would have run the OCA and no matter what overseas did, they would have lost. By now, we would have had a REAL autocephalous Orthodox Church shared by ALL Orthodox in America.

  20. We need real bishops says:

    It’s not married bishops that we need, but bishops who are actually monks, not academics who decided that they didn’t want to get married, therefore becoming thirty-year old archimandrites with a free ticket to the episcopal candidacy shortlist.

    We need real monks to become bishops; holy men that have spent years in the monastery, perfecting themselves in the virtues, and achieving the mind of Christ. ROCOR’s Metropolitan Laurus of blessed memory is a great example of this, as well as their current first hierarch, Metropolitan Hilarion, both of whom spent years in the monastery before consecration.

    Another good example would be Archimandrite Gerasim down south, who was passed over for the episcopacy. He’s been a monk nearly forty years, I believe.

    These ‘tonsured scholars’ who haven’t spent a day under obedience to an abbot are, with a few exceptions, the reason that our episcopacy in America lacks backbone. Too much academic formation, not enough spiritual formation.

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Bingo! You hit the nail right on the head. In the See of Constantinople esp, there are way too many academics who are neither parish priests nor monastics but merely tonsured dilletantes.

    • Alitheia1875 says:

      And the GOA continues to give monastic tonsure to those who want to be celibate priests without their ever having spent a day under obedience to an abbot in a monastery.

  21. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find an article from yesterday’s Haaretz.

    “New Details Emerge on Greek Orthodox Church’s Massive Asset Sell-off in Israel – and the Mystery Only Deepens”

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.819264

  22. Michael Woerl says:

    “Ligonier” led to the Assembly of Bishops, the Assembly of Bishops leads to the Phanar “ruling the world,” the Phanar “ruling the world,” leads to Unity with Rome, Unity with Rome leads to the Death of Orthodoxy in ALL the “non-Orthodox countries” that the Phanar seeks to rule. Not as many converts as there used to be? When you have “leaders” of Orthodoxy campaigning for the New Unia, and Patriarch Bartholomew lionizing Martin Luther, and the Catastrophe in Crete announces that all sectarians are “part of the Church,” and ongoing scandals and stupidityand money-grubbing … who needs to ‘convert?’ Mormons? Buddhists? People with an aesthetic love for cool Byzantine art? Maybe masochists?

    • Nice Michael! All these foreign bishops are lost in their ethnic ivory towers. In the U.S., these bishops attached to foreign bishops try to emulate their foreign leaders. No real progress in American Orthodoxy, but let’s pretend we’re Greek, Russian, Arabs, etc. Very, very stupid. Where are all PAN-ORTHODOX CHURCHES filled with all nationalities and converts? All in English and preaching the Gospel?

  23. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find a posting from yesterday on OCL’s website.

    ANONYMOUS BECAUSE OF VINDICTIVE GOA HIERARCHS on OCTOBER 27, 2017 1:51 PM

    Yes Dokos retired in a $1.3 million dollar home in the Chicago suburbs, while he collects a nice pension funded by stewards:

    https://m.estately.com/listings/info/3304-club-court

    You can see his address on the bottom of page 2 from the Archdiocese announcement as proof:

    https://www.goarch.org/documents/32058/3699984/March+2017+Updates

    Using funds from the faithful to support lavish lifestyles in the ranks, is still business as usual for the GOA. Even bankruptcy doesn’t change their mindset.

  24. Greatly Saddened says:

    Another interesting post from Wednesday on OCL’s website.

    MARY ANN PATURIS on OCTOBER 25, 2017 2:26 AM

    Sadly, the present Patriarch of Constantinople has set the example of behavior followed by our Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America.

    I recall hearing about a trip to Paris at the invitation of the Bishop of Paris whereby, His All Holiness Bartholomew, accompanied with 4 or 5 of his Metropolitans, stayed in suites at the Ritz Hotel. While there, we were told that they purchased Rolex watches plus other personal items.

    When it was time to leave for Greece, the hotel presented them with a statement for their stay along with the personal items purchased.

    Their response was that they were there as guests of the Bishop of Paris and thus, the Bishop would be paying.

    The Ritz contacted the Bishop of Paris, who responded that Greece would be reimbursing the hotel.

    Net, net: they had to call Greece for help. Greece paid and then told them that the monies would come out of the money allocated to the Patriarchate’s annual fund.

    • Gail Sheppard says:

      RE: “Sadly, the present Patriarch of Constantinople has set the example of behavior followed by our Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America.”

      But they are now at cross purposes.

      First there is what happened in Chicago.

      Then the EP summons the Archbishop and immediately following that meeting, all hell breaks loose in the GOA. Stuff that could have come out at any point time (so many stories, so many people) comes out, all at once, after this particular meeting. It’s like someone unleashed a hailstorm. So what is so important to the EP that he is prepared to take down the GOA and probably the rest of us with it? I can think of only one thing. Our unity, on any level, would be his worst nightmare. We, along with ROCOR and Mount Athos, would most certainly block his move toward the RC.

      And then there is this:

      ” . . the purpose of our coming together as members of our Episcopal Assembly of the United States is also our sacred duty as Hierarchs to organize and function according to the canonical norms and tradition that our Church Fathers wisely established throughout the centuries. It is our responsibility to walk according to the canonical prescriptions of our Church because these common ordinances help steer us and the faithful on the path to salvation. . . of course our discussions around this matter have not been easy over the years. We have not always agreed on how we ought to proceed with our internal organization and functioning. There have even been times when we thought that we have made important breakthroughs only to realize that we have far more work ahead of us than we ever could foresee. And while a consensus view of how Orthodoxy should be organized in the United States still evades us, we are most confident that by constantly investing our time and energy in the process, there will one day be enough room in our hearts to allow the Holy Spirit to lead to a spiritual and fruitful outcome. To this end, I offer special thanks to the Lord for the work of His Eminence Metropolitan Nicolae, who, together with the members of the Committee for Canonical Regional Planning, continues to study and present to us possible ways to enhance the way we function and organize ourselves as an Orthodox Church.

      Dear brothers, if we are not committed to getting our own house in order; if we cannot find more effective ways to preach the Holy Gospel; if we have difficulties being patient with each other, then, what image of Christ and His Church are we sharing with the world? How can we expect the world to take refuge in the Arc of Salvation—the Church—when the image of the Church that is often publicly portrayed is that of disharmony? . .

      And all this will hopefully allow us, dear brothers, to ask ourselves whether we are part of the problem and if we are prepared to be part of the solution. Does our conduct help people find Christ when they look at us? Do we truly love one another or are we still allowing grudges and agendas of various forms to stand in our way to connect to each other? How can we help young men and women understand that leadership requires sacrifice and service if we are not prepared to serve and sacrifice for each other?”

      If this isn’t a call to action by the Archbishop, I don’t know what is. There is so much dirt to go around. The EP could be planning to target the Antiochians next. He’s on a mission and if we don’t capitulate, he’ll mow us down. He did it to the GOA and he didn’t even flinch.

      It’s time we get serious.

      • George Michalopulos says:

        Gail, thanks for pointing this out. I don’t know how I missed that. The Archbishop’s words are huge. Again, another rhetorical two-by-four across my forehead. (Actually, in retrospect, I do. I’ve dropped so many balls lately some having to do with business dealings which have now been mercifully resolved in a positive manner; another of a more personal nature). Thank you for picking them up and setting them straight.

        Since we’re talking about Demetrios, do you think there’s a chance that the EAUSA will take his words to heart and declare a righteous independence? And is there something you and I and everybody reading this blog (and the OCL) can do to help further this along?

        • Gail Sheppard says:

          I don’t know that we can do anything other than to pray and to remind our bishops that whatever they do, or more importantly don’t do, will be talked about throughout history if the EP is allowed to dismantle the Orthodox Church on this continent.

          Those who step down so their brothers in Christ can save this Church will be heralded as martyrs in the eyes of many and deserving of every honor.

          Pray that the patriarchates realize that only by letting us go can they keep us.

          • George Michalopulos says:

            Again, words of wisdom Gail, spoken in love. I hope –fervently–that at least some bishops in the GOA are reading them.

  25. Greatly Saddened says:

    Let me be fair in stating the truth as it really is. I will admit there are exceptions, but for the most part, this seems to be the norm. The Greek Orthodox Church, especially in and around the major cities of the US, is a cultural and social Greek club with a cross put above the building. There seems to be more interest placed in the Greek school, Greek dance troupes, Greek festivals, Greek this and Greek that, rather than where the main emphasis should be. That is, in our own Orthodox Christian faith.

    How many of us will honestly admit, we truly know so little about our faith. We seem to know more about all the other facets of our parish, than the most important one. Our religion!

    Many of us go through the motions following the lead of our parents and grand parents. When asked why we do something pertaining to our faith, our response is, “I do it because my parents and grand parents did.” Shame on us. Is that what we want to pass on to our future generations? I should hope not! Let us try our best to be better examples to our children and guide them in the importance of our faith, rather than the cultural and social aspects of our parish.

  26. Greatly Saddened says:

    Congratulations to Mr. George Behrakis for having the guts to stand up and voice his dissatisfaction in having a Clergy-Laity Congress next year. As well as allegedly not accepting to be chair of said Congress. At a time when the Archdiocese is once again experiencing these financial problems, the last thing needed is more money spent unnecessarily.

    What I also find rather sad is the fact His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios allegedly seemed to make every effort to stop any conversation relating to Mr. George Vourvoulias, and the $900,000 he supposedly received in travel expenses over the past 10 or so years. Plus, any discussion pertaining to grants from Leadership 100 and the registry.

    I guess the most recent press release about the financial situation of the GOA and how it will be transparent was just more double talk. Lies, deceipt, scandal, corruption, cover ups, lack of leadership, accountability, transparency, mismanagement, malfeasance, irresponsibility and the list goes on, is still a trademark of the GOA.

  27. Greatly Saddened says:

    So, bottom line, will there or will there not be a forensic audit done? How nice the Archdiocese seems to be concerned with the cost involved. After all the continued lies, scandals, cover ups, corruption, mismanagement, malfeasance, lack of leadership, accountability and transparency!
    The question remains, where is the missing money and who are the individuals responsible? If warranted, criminal action should be taken. This seems to be an on going problem.
    Where does the buck finally stop? Amazing how no one seems to know anything. It’s a mystery but please keep on giving. Where is the remorse and asking of forgiveness?

  28. Greatly Saddened says:

    Members of hierarchy, along with the appointed members of the archdiocesan council should try reading these posts and be sick to their stomachs. But then again, if things haven’t changed after all this time, what makes us think it will in the future.

    I guess holding a position of power seems far greater in importance, rather than doing what is right and ethical. Perhaps some ethical training is in order for these powerful and elitist souls. May the good Lord have mercy on you, your actions or lack thereof and on all of us!

  29. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find an article from today’s The National Herald.

    “Sincere Dialogue Can Change the Flow of History, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Says”

    https://www.thenationalherald.com/180028/ecumenical-patriarch-sincere-dialogue-can-change-flow-history/