Another Bite Out of the Church

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water. . .   duunn dunnn . . . duuuunnnn duun. . . duuunnnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnn  dunnnn

Pat. Bartholomew came out with a mouthful while welcoming a large group of students from the Theological Academies and Seminaries of the Autocephalous “Church” of Ukraine:

““In addition to its important doctrinal decisions, the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon set out 30 canons, of which the 9th and 17th canons concerning the clergy are of particular importance to the Church of Constantinople, as they delineate the privileged right of the Patriarch of Constantinople alone to receive, in a final and irrevocable manner, appeals to the See for disputes between the other Patriarchates and the other Churches, and especially the acclaimed 28th canon, which further ratified and clarified the third canon of the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople on giving to New Rome a throne of equal privileges with those of the throne of the Elder Rome, as well as the supreme jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the overseeing of all areas outside the limits of particular ecclesiastical jurisdictions.” 


It’s rather interesting if you ask me. Like the American President, the Patriarch of Constantinople is nothing if not audacious. Like President Trump, he is doubling down on a controversial decision, in this case, his previous recognition of the corrupt schismatic Ukrainian sect.

Trump for his part has doubled, tripled, and quadrupled-down on his feud with the Four Morons of the Apocalypse. The difference is that the President is operating from a position of strength, not weakness. Oh, don’t get me wrong, his dust-up is going to get messy and it does not look the least bit “presidential” but –so what? He’s winning the political fight against them personally and tarring the Democrat Party with their faces. It’s a calculated, political move. It means nothing in eternity.

Bartholomew’s grandiose, hyperbolic claims, however, do matter and they cover the Church in no glory.

And anyway, Trump is a secular politician. Bartholomew is a spiritual leader (although he’s certainly not acting like one). Big difference. Like all other politicians, Trump only has to answer to the electorate. He’s not right or wrong (strictly speaking); if the people agree with him, he’ll win reelection, if they don’t, he’ll lose. God does not care about marginal tax rates or whether Google, Facebook or Twitter violate the Sherman Anti-trust Act of 1890 (I think they do but that’s beside the point). On the other hand, I dare say that God does care about proper ecclesiology. And schism.

You see, this is the problem with the new, extravagant claims peddled by Bartholomew and his Phanariote coterie: by engaging in brinkmanship, he runs the very real risk of losing. Worse, he is contorting theology and canon law to foist upon the Orthodox Churches a twisted ecclesiology, one that is completely alien to the historical record. The very words that he used in the speech above would make a post-Schism Pope blush with envy.

And all of this is for no reason. Christ is the Head of the Church and the Third Person of the Holy Trinity has guided us lo, these past 1,200 years (since the date of the last Ecumenical Council). All without theological incident. Our Triadology, Christology, and Mariology are uniform despite our national differences. By engaging in hyper-papalism, Bartholomew scandalizes the Church in its entirety. I would even go so far as saying that the non-Chalcedonians, Catholics and even Protestants are frankly bewildered.

Let us be clear: by referring to the Canons above he invites unwelcomed historical scrutiny. Why? Because the city he references no longer exists. Worse, his misguided nostalgia invalidates the relevance of these canons (and here it must be repeated), given that the city he references is dead and has been for centuries. Istanbul is not “Christian”, “Roman” or “imperial” in any meaningful sense of these words. To believe otherwise is delusional. At the very least, it makes it impossible for non-Orthodox to take us seriously.

This is not what we need at this point. Especially when this new Ortho-papalism is being used by political actors for their own secular ends. Politicians who will change their views and leave the Patriarchate of Constantinople twisting in the wind should times change. It has happened before, it can –most probably, will–happen again.




  1. The text below is very interesting. From the Latin perspective, but highlighting key points in theological differences with the Orthodox:

    Eastern Orthodoxy: Primacy and Reunion:

    One sample quote:

    “It is thus evident from the writings of the Angelic Doctor and present day Orthodox theologians that a rejection of the “Filioque” inevitably leads to the logical rejection of the primacy of jurisdiction “de jure divino” of the See of Peter. Likewise, the dogma of the procession of the Holy Spirit from both the Father and the Son admittedly leads to the “emphasis on papal authority.”

    • George C Michalopulos says

      Well, there you have it.  We need to distort the Trinity in order to allow human hubris to function, don’t we?

      • “Well, there you have it. We need to distort the …”
        I think it is a good text to study. They really spilled their beans there 😉

  2. Gail Sheppard says

    What is it going to take to for the Local Churches to respond?  Bartholomew is a not a “pope,” he is never going to be a “pope,” the Orthodox Church does not have “popes” and yet he is running around talking about himself as if he is the pope.

    Could this be why Pope Francis ended their bromance in 2017?  Is it because Bartholomew had designs on taking over the RC?!  What a hoot that would be.  And here we were worried about the RC having designs on us!  Maybe that’s why Francis is saying he wants “communion with diversity,” in other words, he doesn’t want the RC to have become Orthodox under Bartholomew!  This could be why he supported the MP in Ukraine. 

    I understand why the Local Churches would not want to acknowledge the schism since it is frankly the worst thing that can happen to the Church but no amount of wishful thinking is going to change what is.  Even if Bartholomew were to pass from this life tomorrow (Lord have mercy, because no one wants that, least of all me), this is not going to go away because of everything he has put in place.  As a matter of fact, we would be even MORE vulnerable because he wouldn’t be here to fix it, which is fast becoming the only possibility out of this mess.  With how things stand now, the CP could appeal to his role as the “See for the dispute” between him and “the other Patriarchates and Churches” and in this role as arbitrator, decide in his own favor, anathematizing the Local Churches.

    A time is coming (if it hasn’t already) when Bartholomew won’t accept the outcome of a Council.  Instead of who is commemorating whom, the schism would turn into “hard stop.”  There would be two churches, both claiming to be the True Church, and worse, we would be at war with one another over territory.

    • Christopher says

      Gail Sheppard asks:
      “What is it going to take to for the Local Churches to respond?”
      Answer:  a real ecumenical  council
      Fact is, by the letter of the (canonical) law, the EP can do exactly what he has done.  Arguments against his particular reading – by precedent (as our host often points to), humility, historical aversion to “popeism”, or fill_in_the_blank are just that, arguments.  The letter of the (canonical) law is what it is.  Without an Empire to enforce this or that particular reading one way or another, what happens is what happened:   the head of the particular little empire (i.e. the Ukrainian state) adjudicates.
      Also, don’t confuse Bartholomew’s particular brand of secularism with Francis kind.  Bartholomew might be compromised, but he still suffers from the same (rather hopeless) nostalgia as the rest of Orthodoxy, and would welcome a “return to Empire” and a homogeneous “Orthodox” culture.  Francis is a real secularist, and is quite comfortable with a secular (i.e. “communion with diversity”) culture – his basic vision of Christianity depends upon it…

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Then why aren’t the Local Churches changing this? Maybe a better question is: “Can they change this?”

        • Christopher says

          “Then why aren’t the Local Churches changing this? Maybe a better question is: “Can they change this?””
          Cut off as they are from the historic Byzantine church/state “symphonia”, the question becomes how to call a ecumenical council. If the Emperor had the (very pragmatic) authority and means (an ecumenical council is expensive and difficult logistically – you literally have to bring in a significant number of the worlds bishops to a single location and time  – lasting months), who (which bishop/metropolitan/patriarch) of which local church has the spiritual charisma and trust, and thus authority, to call a ecumenical council – and who pays for it?
          This is what lies behind the how/why of a ecumenical council that has been asked in various ways and forms for 1300 years.  So far, no answer has been forthcoming (i.e. from either history or the “mind” of the Church).
          The usual answer of “well, that’s what the EP is for” is inadequate because it assumes that the EP is really an “ecumenical” (i.e. universal) patriarch outside and beyond the now very dead Roman Empire and canons written in and for said dead Empire. 
          The other popular answer, the “Third Rome” MP can/should do it, is somewhat more plausible (given this sees earned respect, $means$, etc.) but it too runs into the de facto “Orthodoxy is a collection of national/ethnic churches” conundrum of this Church since the fall of the Empire.  Unfortunately, there is no small amount of idealism in our self understanding of “conciliarity”
          Will the fill_in_the_blank crises (Ukraine, multi-jurisdictions in the west, Secularism, etc.) be the catalyst that reveals a solution?  So far the answer is no.
          Soooo, it appears we wait on the Lord….

          • I imagine that Vladimir Putin could convene a meeting of many of the heads of autocephalous churches and I also that some of the Pentarchy would participate. I don’t imagine this would be any more problematic than most of the Byzantine emperors calling Bishops together to deal with serious issues in the Church (perhaps a damn sight better). Very few if any of the local Churches are going to break Communion with Istanbul, but they could perhaps make a statement in unity.

            • Estonian Slovak says

              Putin is not an annointed monarch and has no business calling for a council. Neither was Poroshenko, which makes his interference in church affairs that much more objectionable. A true Orthodox king would want to look out for the interests of his people. Alas, we have none.

              • George Michalopulos says

                ES, I see your point but in the end, does it really matter? Let’s say that the Greeks, the Bulgars, the Serbs, the Romanians and the Russians re-instituted their respective monarchies. And all of the monarchs in question received the Holy Chrism of anointing and rejoicing breaks out in the Orthodox world. And one, or all of them calls for a Council and foots the entire bill from soup to nuts, and every diocesan bishop throughout the world is invited, do you honestly think that the present CP (or his even more grandiloquent successor) is going to accept said Council?

                I’d say no. The Phanar has almost always dealt in bad faith with the other Orthodox Churches (but curiously, not the non-Orthodox Churches –go figure). The Council of 1878 in which they condemned ethnophyletism is one such case. Not only did they convene that because they didn’t want the Bulgarians encroaching on their territory, they don’t even abide by the findings of that Council today. In fact, they never have.

                I could be wrong and boy howdy, do I want to be wrong, but as they say: “Once burnt, twice shy”.

                • I can say being in Bulgaria that the bulgars have suffered greek domination foe centuries and care of  their actions in wwii u can only say, ‘well so would I have grabbed the chance’.  
                  I have never met anything but respect for Greece and greek Culture and especially Church, but many of my fellow Greeks, obscessed with non existent macedonian problem,  unable to move forward. Above all they blind ro growing REAL Turkish threat.  Our track record is abysmal is it not?  What do u think we gonna lose this time around while we scream and shout over macedonia, an Orthodox nation and devout one, and ain’t too many of those about. 

              • Estonian Slovak, I basically agree with you but I do see a BIG PROBLEM:

                Consider this:
                (1) The ultimate de facto human power lies with the people, not the Hierarchy.  The people have declared saints (e.g. St.Nektarios) although the Church (initially) did NOT agree and vice versa.

                (2) Specific petitions made by the Hierarchs in Church MUST be verified by the people singing e.g. “Amen”, “Worthy, Axios”, etc.

                (3) The President or the King of the country has equal right to be a fully-fledged member of the Orthodox Church, and he may have succeeded in becoming VERY popular in his country.

                (4) Now imagine an Orthodox assembly (real, live, or nowadays virtual, online): The various people, there, say various proposals. Then the President/King/Queen, described above, stands up just lile any other Orthodox member and says his opinion. Because of his popularity, the people shout “YEAH, WE AGREE WITH PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!” At the end of the day that President, by following EVERY FORMALITY in the Church, he manages (purposedly or not) to pass his own opinion on something.
                As a worked example, you can assume that that President is Putin. Is there anything wrong, undemocratic, even evil in this example?

                In a nutshell:
                Has he the right to be a member of the Church?
                Has he the right to be VERY popular?
                Has he the right to speak up in a Church assembly?
                Have the people the right to agree with him?  

                Why does not Trump or any other important or clever person become member of the Orthodox Church and then totally democratically and canonically try to influence the Orthodox Church?

                • George Michalopulos says

                  I personally agree that an elected or otherwise secular official (e.g. Chief Executive) has the right and duty to call a Council.

                  • Monk James Silver says

                    Probably not.

                    The age of an Orthodox Christian empire has passed, as has the existence of an Orthodox Christian emperor, who might once have convened all the bishops of all the kingdoms under his putative authority into an ecumenical synod.

                    At the moment, although Constantinople would have us think that an ecumenical synod cannot be convened except at the direction of an Orthodox Christian emperor, or at least — absent the emperor — at the direction of Constantinople itself, the fact is that a majority of the autocephalous churches may call for the convening of just such a synod.

                    This is much more easily accomplished in our own modern age of almost instant communications, but such ecclesial business must be done formally and in writing on paper, by way of letters exchanged among the churches. Even so, this effort would take only several months, and could result in the convening of an ecumenical synod in not much more than a year’s time.

                    No political head of any government has such authority now, and it’s questionable that the emperors of Constantinople ever did.

                    This was always an ecclesial matter, and even the Orthodox Christian emperors were subject to The Church, as was pointed out by painful examples in both Rome and Constantinople.

                    The summoning of the bishops by various Constantinopolitan emperors to such meetings was not the equivalent of their ‘calling’ a synod together. The emperor was merely lending the force of government to the unanimous decisions of the bishops.

                    It’s important that we remember this now, as we seek authoritative consensus among and within the Orthodox Christian churches, which can — if they will — speak with one single united voice.

                    BTW: Let’s please stop using the word ‘council’ to describe the seven ecumenical synods. There is a purely secular meaning to ‘council’ (Greek _symboulE_) which is different from the ecclesial meaning of ‘synod’ (Greek _synodos_).

                    The fact that Roman Catholics describe the meetings of all their bishops as ‘Ecumenical Councils’ is not an issue for Orthodox Christians, especially since the decisions of most of those meetings have been seriously flawed and theologically in error for the last thousand years or so.

                    The Catholics use ‘synod’ in other ways. but they also use the Latin word ‘concilium’ (‘council’ in English) in ways which Orthodoxy avoids.

                    We do best to use our own language and terminology, not theirs, even in English.

                    • Monk James Silver: ” the fact is that a majority of the autocephalous churches may call for the convening of just such a synod. ”

                      I wonder if it is feasible in our post-Christian times. Most (if not all) of the autocephalous churches will be under tremendous pressure from powers that be, what might result in another Robber Synod, this time having overwhelming power and authority, plus support of popular opinion.

                      Perhaps it is better to be patient and let informal consensus of those who are real believers, work out its way. As a last resort – “let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains [of prayer?]”

                      Monk James Silver:
                      “BTW: Let’s please stop using the word ‘council’ to describe the seven ecumenical synods.”
                      Absolutely right!
                      Unfortunately of you tell RCs or Protestants the word “Synod” they get mixed up, and so, after a few times, we tend to say “Council” to them. (I, too.)
                      But, as far as this blog is concerned with (as Gail said) 95% Orthodox, let us follow this good advice and say “Synod”.

                  • George Michalopulos:
                    ” I personally agree that an elected or otherwise secular official (e.g. Chief Executive) has the right and duty to call a Council.”

                    Let alone if he is a member of the Church too.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Ioanni, I should have specified that. Constantine, though a catechumen, was a member of the Church.

                • Estonian Slovak says

                  Never said Putin isn’t or shouldn’t be a member of the church. I do feel that I have a right to express my dissatisfaction over him not kissing a bishop’s hand.

                  • George C Michalopulos says

                    ES, that’s totally a valid point.  I imagine there’s some “inside baseball” reason why he didn’t do it.  Was he signalling something about said bishop?  Who knows.
                    Still, all things being equal, he should have kissed it.

                    • Estonian Slovak says

                      I saw on Russian TV that when Putin met with the late Metropolitan Laurus in New York prior to the 2007 reconciliation, he kissed the Metropolitan three times without kissing the hand. Of course, our friend Joseph Lipper pointed out that that was when ROCOR was allegedly in schism. Whatever.
                          For those keeping score, Poroshenko didn’t kiss Patriarch Bartholomew’s hand either, when those two met at Phanar. But Poroshenko has totally discredited himself by this autocephaly caper. The fact that he lost the election to an actor who never held political office, shows that the citizens of Ukraine were wise to this clown.

                  • ES I don’t know who was the bishop whose hand Putin did not kiss. Mind you, this is not something dogmatic, it is a custom.

                    I hope I would never meet Bartholomew but I wouldn’t like to kiss his hand, because that hand gifted the “Holy Quran” in Texas. BTW, that is MY dissatisfaction!

                    St.John Chrysostom, at the end of his life(!)   said something very important about the respect shown to various Bishops:

                    ” But he went into the baptistery, and called Olympias, a lady who spent all her time in the church, and Pentadia, and Procle, the deaconesses,243 and Silvina, the widow of the blessed Nevridius,244 who adorned her widowhood by a beautiful life, and said to them, “Come here, my daughters, and listen to me. I see that the things concerning me have an end; 245 I have finished my course 246 and perhaps you will see my face no more.247 What I want to ask you is this: let no one dissever you from the good-will you have always borne to the Church; and whoever succeeds me, if |87 he be brought forward for ordination not by his own wish, and without place-hunting, with the approval of all, bow your heads to him, as you have done to John. The Church cannot exist without a bishop. And so may you find mercy. Remember me in your prayers.”
                    (The Life of Chrysostom, Chapter X).

                    As we are living in difficult times, with Bishops, out there, exercising their “right” to teach whatever they like, then if you exercise your right NOT to kiss their hand, then that is a very soft, subtle, diplomatic, peaceful “non-destructive” method of telling such a bishop that you do not lile his ecumenist “ouvertures”.

                    • Alitheia1875 says

                      One doesn’t just kiss a bishop’s. or priest’s, hand because they are a bishop or a priest. One should get a blessing first and then kiss the hand. It is out of respect for the person who is able/chosen to give a blessing and thankfulness for receiving a blessing that the hand is kissed. Of course, not many bishops and priests any longer give a blessing before extending their hand to be kissed. Let us not forget, in the case of bishops, that Orthodoxy considers her bishops to be living icons of Christ, hence the icon of Christ, dressed as a bishop and labeled King of Kings and Great High Priest, on the bishop’s throne.

                    • Alitheia1875,

                      “One doesn’t just kiss a bishop’s. or priest’s, hand because they are a bishop or a priest…etc etc”
                      Alitheia(=Truth), please tell me the Truth, give me the link what is the MOST IMPORTANT document which supports your words. 
                      You understand the importance sequence,
                      The Bible
                      The Ecum. Councils
                      The writings of the Great Fathers of the Church
                      Writings of other theologians

                    • Alitheia1875 says

                      Ioannis, there are many practices and customs that have not been codified by ecumenical councils or canon law. It is not a document which supports what I have written (there are none). It is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church which guides clergy and laity alike. Hands are kissed when a blessing is given because the clergy celebrates the Mysteries and other services of the Church, through which the laity receives the Grace of the Holy Spirit. The bishops’ validity is guaranteed by Apostolic Succession (which only the Orthodox have) and the priests receive their validity from the bishop. Things occur sometimes without formal consent from the hierarchy. Many times the laity has proclaimed someone a saint before the Church formally declares them saints. And what a hierarch or priest does that is of a personal nature does not impact the efficacy of his ability to conduct the services of the Church. Personal failings and shortcomings do not alter or affect the validity of the Mysteries they celebrate. (Heresy is another matter) That the validity might be affected by the failings or shortcomings is a distinctly Protestant teaching. If you choose to not kiss the hand that is your business. But you do need to reconcile your action with your feeling and the reason you don’t kiss a hand. And it is usual that when an Orthodox person seeks forgiveness he/she kisses the hand of the other. Just because the tradition has not been codified by the Church does not mean it does not contribute to the spiritual life or that it shouldn’t be upheld.

                    • Alitheia1875,
                      “Ioannis, there are many practices and customs that have not been codified by ecumenical councils or canon law. It is not a document which supports what I have written (there are none). It is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church which guides clergy and laity alike. ”

                      True. But it does not necessarily mean that this practice or custom is dogmatical, or to put it more to the point:This custom is not dogmatic, is not necessary for our salvation.

                      Here is a clearer example to understand if a customs is the work of the Holy Spirit:

                      Centuries ago, Bishop Makarios of Antioch called the Bishop of Constantinople Pan-agio-tatos ie All-most-holy. In the Pedalion (Rudder) St. Nikodimos explains that the title is not dogmatical.Actually the title is TWO superlative degrees above “Holy God” we sing in Church.
                      Do you really think this ” is the work of the Holy Spirit”?

                      A recent example is Elpidophoros who about 4 years ago called Bartholomew “first between equals”He of course got a bonus for that.Can you imagine this “first between equals” becoming a common practice or custom?
                      Do you really think this ” is the work of the Holy Spirit”?

                      I do hope these examples illustrates the case.

                      BTW it might be very interesting to know
                      the hand-kissing started in the Ancient Church.

                      Are the clergy free to do as they like
                      or are all of them automatically remotely-guided by the holy spirit (kinda protestant predestination), indeed even if they act against each other?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Correction: LP’s novel doctrine is “first without equals”.

                      Pride goeth before the fall…

                    • Alitheia1875,,
                      George Michalopulos corrected my mistake:
                      Correction: LP’s novel doctrine is “first withoutequals”.

                      Pride goeth before the fall…

      • Knock it off with the “…can’t have an ecumenical Council without the empire…” garbage.  It will be ecumenical if it upholds the faith, not if it fits your narrow criteria of a “legal” council

        • George Michalopulos says

          For what it’s worth, Crete was a “legal” Council although now it is widely execrated as a Robber Council. “By their fruits ye shall know them” —that is the hallmark of a real Council.

      • George C Michalopulos says

        Christopher, forgive me but you make a serious mistake in your first sentence.  Outside those canons which deal with Scripture and dogma (e.g. “Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God” or “He was born of a virgin” or “there are only 27 inspired books of the New Testament” or “there are only two Testaments”), all other canons are to be read and understood in historical context.

        That’s why even canons which are flagrantly violated today (e.g. “one city, one bishop”) are not held up to accuse another bishop.  In other words, why we don’t press the case of ethno-phyletism to its logical conclusion since we know that there were pastoral reasons for the Diaspora which make this canon a dead letter (at least for the time being).  Or why the Eastern Church only allows three marriages but the Western Church allows as many as desired by the (constantly) widowed party. Those are all provisional and dispensation is allowed.

        In any event, the canons which the present CP relies upon clearly violate this basic concept in that the reason for his authority was because and only because Cpole was the imperial capital, “ruled over by a God-fearing Emperor” who was “assisted by a God-pleasing Senate.”  None of those facts exist today, nor have they existed for a half of a millennium.  To believe otherwise would mean that the Ottoman Sultan and his Divan were grace-filled entities.  

        The context in which those canons were put forth are thus invalid.  Regardless, they can in no ways be viewed as granting the CP the right to interfere in the boundaries of a Sister Church (and outside of Jerusalem, there are no Mother-Daughter relationships). 
        And this is where it gets real tricky:  they are based on the concept of romanitas.  The powers of the Papacy are invalid, not because there is no Rome (there is) but because that city had fallen into heresy (and there is no Emperor there).  Since romanitas is the sine qua non of this hyper-episcopal power Bartholomew claims to discern in these aforementioned canons, then he is foolishly steering himself into a corner which I don’t believe he sees.  There are only three ways to get out of this corner in my opinion:

        1. Cede all authority back to Rome (ideally if it reconverts to Orthodoxy), or 
        2.  Watch helplessly as another Orthodox Christian imperium arises, which leads to 
        3.  Cpole unwittingly watching its patriarchal powers slip out of their hands into Moscow’s grip.

        This does not have to be Moscow by the way but for all intents and purposes, one does not see another Orthodox Christian imperium anywhere else.   Regardless, Bartholomew has yoked himself into the imperial trap.  No doubt he sees (or hopes for) Trump or one of his successors to extricate him from this snare.

        There is a fourth option:  and that would be to convene a real Council and clarify these issues, mainly by erasing all dependence upon imperial power.  I’d like to see this happen however I don’t think it likely.  And that’s too bad.  (And I am one who does subscribe to the Third Rome theory.) 
        Again, in line with my earlier observation, this canonical dependence upon the imperium as far as it goes provided that an Orthodox monarchy exists.

        Regardless (and this can’t be said enough) it is nevertheless a canon that is secondary or even tertiary to salvation in that is neither dogmatic nor derived from Scripture.  It can be changed or amended depending upon the historical circumstances.   

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          Then of course there is the point that the Church of Christ has nothing whatever to do with any secular, much less imperial, power whatever, and that Rome, East or West, and Moscow, and the rest, have nothing inherently to do with Christ at all.
          There were Christians at Rome. There were bishops there, eventually. So with Antioch, Jerusalem, Constantinople, and all and sundry.
          These are really interesting cities, full of history, intrigue, romance, and citadels of the Faith. So were countless other towns, large and small. So are Seattle, San Francisco, Wichita, Novgorod, Birmingham, Omaha, Sophia, innumerable towns and villages. So what? What is this endless imperial storytelling all about?

          • George Michalopulos says

            Agreed. Nothing wrong with cities and/or the world, it’s where we work out our salvation after all.

            My problem is that one bishop in particular is binding himself to an arch view of imperialism from which he can hide behind. As I’ve said, I have no problem with a Christian imperium as a civil protector of Christ’s eternal bride. And I firmly adhere to the Third Rome theory.

            The problem is that so does Bartholomew, although he doesn’t realize it. Or at least he is in danger of authenticating this belief with his going on and on about “the New Rome”.

          • Amen, Tim.  One really has to be a thick-headed, hard-hearted, legalistic fool devoid of the Spirit not to see that the rationale our fathers gave for this canon no longer exists.
             Forth Council, Canon 28 “Everywhere following the decrees of the Holy Fathers, and aware of the recently recognized Canon of the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved bishops who convened during the reign of Theodosius the Great of pious memory,   who   became   emperor   in   the   imperial   city   of   Constantinople otherwise known as New Rome; we too decree and vote the same things in regard to the privileges and priorities of the most holy Church of that same Constantinople and New Rome. And this is in keeping with the fact that the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital. And motivated by the same object and aim the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the  city which is  the  seat of an empire, and of a senate, and is equal to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges and priorities, should be magnified also as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs, as  coming next after  her, or  as  being second to her.” 
            This does, however, answer my question as to why the CP insists upon remaining in the city in spite of the practical absurdity and compromise it entails.  The whole house of cards the CP has contrived for itself from these canons is based upon his being bishop of that particular city.  If he abandons the city, it would constitute an admission of the reality that is already patently obvious to most everyone else.

        • To me it’s simple folks. Phanar is claiming for istambul ‘ sui generis ‘ powers above and over the Church. This is papal doctrine fullstop stop. I ASK U GUYS WHAT IS THERE TO DISCUSS???
          And based on a reality that died the death in 1453 if not before. It is a Fantasy on a delusion in a Bubble…And the Church is meant to evangelise in 2019!! KOLIKITHAKIA AS WE SAY.
          We becoming a niche hobby.
          The Roman PAPACY is slowly suffering from same loss of relevant space. More slowly as more invested.

        • Alitheia1875 says

          This reminds me of a situation I have long pondered and have come to a conclusion about.
          Why isn’t Constantinople’s bishop (metropolitan) in Italy based in Rome and not Milan? Answer: because that bishop would have to be considered Pope of Rome. Of course this wouldn’t fly for two reasons: first, this would damage the ecumenical relations between the Latins and Constantinople: and, second, would not the bishop of Rome have precedence, as was in the ancient church? Just sayin’. Anyone out there have any thoughts about this?

      • …and ironically,  these same ecumenical councils repeatedly affirm the throne of Rome as first.  No council has ever overturned these rulings.  Such is the weakness and futility of trying to live by the letter of the law.
        Second Council, Canon 3
        “ Let the Bishop of Constantinople, however, have the priorities of honor after the Bishop of Rome, because of its being New Rome.”
        Forth Council, Canon 28
        “Everywhere following the decrees of the Holy Fathers, and aware of the recently recognized Canon of the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved bishops who convened during the reign of Theodosius the Great of pious memory,   who   became   emperor   in   the   imperial   city   of   Constantinople otherwise known as New Rome; we too decree and vote the same things in regard to the privileges and priorities of the most holy Church of that same Constantinople and New Rome. And this is in keeping with the fact that the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital. And motivated by the same object and aim the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the  city which is  the  seat of an empire, and of a senate, and is equal to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges and priorities, should be magnified also as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs, as  coming next after  her, or  as  being second to her.” 
        Sixth Council, Canon 6
        “Renewing the laws made by the one hundred and fifty Holy Fathers who assembled   in   this   God-guarded   imperial   capital city, and by   the   six hundred and thirty of those who assembled in Chalcedon, we decree that the throne of Constantinople shall enjoy equal seniorities (or priorities) with he throne of older Rome, and in ecclesiastical matters shall be magnified like the latter, coming second after the latter; after which the throne of the great city of the Alexandrians shall come next, then that of Antioch, and after this the throne of the city of the Jerusalemites.”
        Perhaps Bartholomew might want to consider his own violations of the letter of the law to which he supposedly strictly adheres.  After all, only a true ecumenical council can change it, and none has.

        • George Michalopulos says

          To which some Phanariote would say (pace Dr Johnson):  “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”.  

          Lord have mercy.

          • Hieromonk Philip says

            The quotation is from the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, not Dr. Johnson.

        • Why do we not just install an Orthodox Bishop of Rome and call it a day? Wouldn’t that solve this issue 

          • Monk James Silver says

            There are too few Orthodox Christians at Rome for it to be resurrected as a local autocephalous church, As is the case in all of western Europe, Orthodox parishes in and near Rome are under the authority of bishops who are sort of serving foreign missions away from their territorial churches.

            Rome, with all its people, abandoned Orthodoxy a thousand years ago, but if they ever do return to The Church, we’ll have to reconfigure our notions of ecclesial precedence.

            In the meantime, though, Constantinople, while it has certainly lost its Orthodox Christian population, is still well within The Church, but its continued misapplication of Canon 28 of Chalcedon fails every known reality test, and makes Constantinople a laughingstock among the churches.

            Whether or not it deserves to still be considered an autocephalous local church is questionable,

            We must consider the many other local churches of the Middle East, several of them mentioned in the New Testament, especially in Revelation, and acknowledge that most of them have gone extinct, their people now Muslims, monophysites, nestorians, etc., or just gone from the scene.

            Perhaps its time for the other real and functioning churches of the Orthodox Christian world to consider Constantinople extinct, too.

            • Just why are there “too few” Orthodox to make it autocephalous?  What is the minimum, when, what council established that number?  This has always been my question.  I don’t think anyone can deny that all that has to happen is for the Orthodox of that place to acclaim a legitimate fellow as bishop (see Milan, St. Ambrose) and done.  Constantinople INSTANTLY off page six of the NYT to well deserved oblivion.  I would never say as smoke vanishes, but if the shoe fits, wear it.  Are the Orthodox of Rome supposed to wait until Halki reopens so the Turk can assign them a properly hatted and multiple-PhD’d drone?  Vive il Papa!  May he come quickly.

              • To reply to myself (Sounds like talking to myself, which it is), what if there are actual living, breathing Orthodox faithful in the place called Antikiah?  It seems to me that if they acclaim a man (Ambrose was a catechumen) as their bishop it puts that guy in Damascus in an uncomfortable position.  Actual geographical facts matter.  When you move to a new town you don’t get to use the old return address for the next 800 years.  A useful message for the Metropolitan of Diokleia, too.   If the Anglicans can have a bishop of Jerusalem why can’t the Orthodox have a bishop of Rome? There must not be another organization on earth that lives on a steady diet of ignorance and inertia more than the Orthodox Church.

                • In actual fact, Antakya, in modern-day Hatay province of Turkey, probably has more Orthodox Christians than the Second Rome.
                  Around 10,000 Arabic-speaking Rum Orthodox of the Church of Antioch still reside there, under the spiritual leadership of the Metropolitan of Aleppo, who is still whereabouts unknown at present.

              • To bob and Monk James Silver:
                bob, Monk James Silver has correctly told you
                “In the meantime, though, Constantinople, while it has certainly lost its Orthodox Christian population, is still well within The Church, but its continued misapplication of Canon 28 of Chalcedon fails every known reality test, and makes Constantinople a laughingstock among the churches.”
                (highlighting mine)
                This is not so much a case of absolute numbers of the Faithful or their Bishops but rather a relative situation.
                If you know nothing about Canon 28 you might think you could take the throne of the Ecumenical Patriarch any where you like, some people propose Athos, the Holy mountain, others propose other places.
                Monk James Silver probably one of the VERY FEW who have done their homework here, he knows all about Canon 28.
                This is proven by his hereabove correct comment. 
                The spirit of Canon 28 (as explained by St.Nikodimos) is very practical functionality, not merely a beautiful tradition of no REAL value. The Ecumenical Patriarch and his function is by Canon 28 defined as:
                -In a city which is “basileuousa” ie reigning, ie the capital, having the King Emperor or President or Head of State of the “Ecumene”, ie the very large Christian country (as was the case in the 4th century AD).
                -The Ecumenical Patriarch has a REAL & IMPORTANT function there: To assist the visiting Bishops of the vast country (the Ecumene) to meet with the Head of State and get help for their local problems.
                Now, Bob, you have all the brains in the world to apply this test to several Capitals in the world and see which passes the test best.
                You will find that Rome is not very interesting at all for this test.
                If you say that Cple is the correct just because of history, then Jerusalem will reply: Why do you people sing St.J.Damascene’s Hymn, “…Holy Sion (Jerusalem) Mother of Churches…”

                For Canon 28, downloads etc see elsewhere on this same page.

                • Ioannis, you flatter me.  I agree, Fr. James certainly knows more about the canons than I’m ever likely to.  St. Nikodemos notwithstanding, we have no imperial city, no ecumenical city and no emperor.  And no faithful to speak of in the place those things used to be.  The use of  names of empty places for bishops of nothing is just silly.  Nothing to do with reality, and the first among equals there is Bartholomew.  He simply has no function and demands respect for nothing.  His silliness is what brings out my talk of an Orthodox bishop in Rome, the one in Italy.  If there has to be a top bishop, let it be in a free place, not under the heel of muslims.  The longer this goes on the more people like Bartholomew, our new archbishop and the army of professional archmandrites will continue to gum up the church to no end.  Some day I’d like to be able to point out the bishops to my children (and to myself) as good solid examples.  As it is I live in fear they will someday discover the bureaurocrats above the parish level and lose their faith.  The single men’s club has no function except beard growing and hat wearing.  Very tiresome.  When one comes to town I find another parish to visit.

                  • Bob, the despair of which you speak at the spiritual vacuity of the GOARCH hierarchy is very real. I know a man who works as secretary in a large Greek parish near me who has extensive contact with the local Metropolis, who told me nearly in tears how empty it all seems, how little Christian love is expressed amid all the rigamarole he sorts through with them week by week. I told him to buck up and look around more broadly for better examples among churchmen.  I explicitly mentioned Abp. Alexander (Golitzin) as a true hierarch of the first water who would help him restore his faith in the Church. But I get the sense that Greeks are to a man captivated by the overweening preciousness of their Byzantine institution. 

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Claes, I know of what you speak.  “Vacuity” is a horrible condition to endure.  It is to the mind what vapidity is to the body.  True men cannot endure it.

                  • Bob  would that it was was proper beard wearing!!    They are a collection of every reason to be a non Orthodox 

                • Ioannis.  Sorry but Phanar not within the Church, because it is openly and clearly from their own mouths claiming dogmatic foundation for having authority above and over the Church.  Friend last time I looked that is what my Catholic friends believe of Rome, and why 1054 schism, but even my Catholic friends demanding some slack in running their local affairs.
                  But at least the situation there is still clear.  Rome is Rome and is the  capital of a nominally and to degree, active, Christian, Catholic nation. 
                  Phanar is living in delusional land and dragging church into delusion.  I leave aside the corruption,  the potemkin village bishops and professional archimandrites still afraid to come out of the closset and hanging on to a nice plushy number. 
                  Look at them brown arsing it with Political leaders.   CHRIST!  Yes u may as well ask!   Am I the only one who is sickened and bored with this criminal crap? They laugh all the way to the next  cheap watch at the Parish nerds,….sorry priests expense who busy gathering in the readies!! ? It will only change when the laity vote with their feet.  Well as we know they already are. But they need to hurry up.  

                  • George C Michalopulos says

                    Niko, Ioanni, et al:  As part of my rotation list on YouTube, I keep up with sede vacantist sites (or those that are extremely sympathetic to ultramontane Catholicism) and yes, they always come down on the side that the Supreme Pontiff is over the Church and that even a Council can’t overrule him.
                    They even go so far as to say that he can’t be deposed by a Council or any grouping of bishops (i.e. Curia, College of Cardinals, etc.)
                    It’s sad, really.
                    The only silver lining is that such arrogance instructs those of us in the Orthodox Church that yes, Virginia, there is a papalist virus, and it can infect any Christian communion.

            • I disagree. There’s probably more Orthodox Christians in the First Rome than there is in the Second.
              Italy is estimated to have at least 1.8 million Orthodox Christians, with 300,000 of them being Italian citizens (although probably not ethnically Italian), which is far more than a good number of autocephalous churches (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Albania, even Cyprus and Jerusalem).
              Now, if all the overlapping jurisdictions would cooperate, then you might have something workable. An Orthodox Church of Western Europe would have millions of faithful and thousands of parishes, not to mention several seminaries and dozens of monasteries.
              Who knows what might happen in the next couple of years, once the ‘Orthodox realignment’ has come to pass…

          • George Michalopulos says

            It just might, actually.  But then he would be the top dog, not cpole.

          • No Menas.
            Please see my detailed reply to Pavlos.

        • Brian,
          Why are we talking about “honors” all the time?
          Why don’t we talk about the practical reason of having this special case in Cpole?
          Canon 28, above, mentions (*)
          “on account of her being the imperial capital. ” 
          And St.Nikodimos further explains that in the Rudder:
          That city must be an Imperial City where the Emperor (King, President) is residing so that the local Bishop (EP) can assist the visiting Bishops to see the Head of State for some kind of help.
          -Is Cpole now a capital with the Head of State there (or is it Ankara)?
          -Is the Head of State of Turkey(!) the right one to help the local Bishops in other Christian countries.
          -or, is this whole thing with Cple just a historical custom, like a nice dress, without the real functionality between Bishops and Head of State? If yes, Why? 

          -Obvously, Bartholomew cannot fulfill this duty to assist remote Bishops who want to visit the Head of State for help.
          Is this why Bartholomew never, NEVER talks about this function, but distracts attention to the fact that he is based in that City. Why then do we sing St.John Damascene’s Hymn about Sion (Jerusalem) being the Mother of Churches?
          Who’s gonna answer all these questions?


  3. Monk James Silver says

    George, it appears that you wrote ‘Mariolatry’ (, the ‘worship’ of the Virgin ,Mary, the Mother of God — a heretical practice) where you meant to write ‘Mariology’ (the theological study of the same Virgin Mary).

    Best fix that!

  4. Occasionally it’s suggested the EP is interested in hasty reunion with Rome.  I hope he has noticed that according to the canons he so readily quotes, if that were to come to pass he would be if possible even more insginificant than he already is.  In that unlikely case the “2nd in honor” lines  all come roaring home.  2nd fiddle is forgotten fiddle.  Pretty much forgotten, for every good reason now, if that were to happen, utterly forgotten.  In fact, if there were one good reason to submit to Rome it might be to just get the EP to shut up.

  5. It’s funny to see pat. Bartholomew appeal to the canons, when he has called them ‘walls of shame’. Hypocritical opportunism.

  6. Francis Frost says

    Well, friends, here is a wonder. You all are debating the exact interpretation of the 28th canon of Chalcedon, despite the fact that all of you declare it to be irrelevant to the current controversy over the church in Ukraine! The fact is that canons are not laws. They are examples of how the church has responded to a particular situation in a particular place and in a particular time in history. Such examples are often of limited value in responding to current issues.

    We should note that while the MP propaganda machine flogs its own “canonicity” and derides the new Ukrainian church as “schismatic”, the MP has yet to site a single canon to support it’s claims. Indeed, the MP cannot site those canons for fear of being called out for its own flagrant violation of those same canons. It is for this reason, that there will be no “council” to decide the issue, as the MP could well find itself on trial. No, the MP continues its bluster, as that is all it has.

    In any case, the canons don’t alway help resolve disputes. The Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem have been estranged at the altar for seven years by the controversy over which patriarchate “owns” a single parish in Qatar. Both sides have quoted at length various canons which they claim define the boundaries of the “the three Arabias”. Never mind that the political map of the Middle East has actually changed since the 6th century! In the end, it turned out that Holy Fathers were able to settle the matter with a short face to face conversation and a handshake, with no reference to the sacred canons!

    The sacred canons are neither laws, nor doctrines. On the other hand, God’s own commandments are perfect and eternal. “Thou shalt not kill. Thous shalt not steal. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house… Love your neighbor as yourself.” These are clear and eternal expressions of God’s will for our life. Yet somehow, in the current controversy, God’s commandments are considered irrelevant.

    Sine the end of the Soviet Era, the leaders of the Russian Federation have tried to claw back their empire by invading their neighbors six times. As a result of these illegal invasions, some 65,000 innocent civilians have perished. There are nearly 2 million refugees from the invaded territories. Many of those refugees are destitute, deprived of their homes, their property, their livelihoods, and all too often their precious loved ones.

    What is more, the Moscow Patriarchate has directly participated in these crimes against God’s law. The MP seized by violence and occupied two entire dioceses of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate in 1993 with the murder and armed expulsion of the legitimate Orthodox clergy. You can read about the martyrdom of the Hieromartyr Andrea Kurashvili and the martyred sub-deacon Giorgi Adua at the Mystagogy Resource website. You may read about the persecution of the canonical Orthodox Christians on the Forum18 religious freedom web-site:

    The Moscow Patriarchate received into its ranks without a canonical release the rebel Archimandrite Vissarion Apliaa. The MP established on the territory of the Georgian Orthodox church a schismatic “Abkhaz Eparchy”. The Moscow Patriarchate funded, and ordained clergy for this schismatic body.

    During the 2008 invasion of Georgia the MP sent Bishop Panteleimon of Adyghea and Bishop Feofan of Saratov into the territory of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate to literally “bless” the weapons used to massacre civilians; used to destroy 15 entire villages, and used to desecrate and burn the sacred altar of God in the Ghvertaeba Cathedral Nikozi, with Our Lord’s Body and Blood incinerated on that burned out altar. A television documentary on the destruction of Ghvertaeba and the work of reconstruction carried out by Metropolitan Isaiah may be viewed at:

    Now the MP claims to be a victim? Get real

    You see, my friends, the endless repetition of canonical arguments is useless in this situation. In the end, the parties will grudgingly accept the reality of 2 churches in Ukraine: the UOC-MP for the Russian speakers and the UCO-EP for Ukrainian speakers and Ukrainian patriots. The present situation in Estonia provides the paradigm for such an outcome.

    Some of you have expressed your adherence to the “Moscow, the third Rome” theory. In fact, this theory was propagated by a single monk, not a hierarch nor a Father of the church. This theory was never ratified by any council. It is a political theory, nothing more. What is more: the Russian Empire has not existed for over a century. The current autocrat is neither an anointed Tsar, nor a nobleman; but a self professed street thug. Mr. Putin is, however, the former and current head of the KBG (call it FSB, SVR, GRU, Cheka or NKVD or what you will, it’s still the same KGB). It is precisely Mr. Putin’s KBG that executed the Royal Martyrs in Yekaterinburg one hundred years ago. As for “honoring” the Royal Martyrs, one must recall the Lord’s own words: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.” Matthew 23 : 29 – 31

    As for Holy Russia in its present iteration, Our Lord said: “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15: 7 -9

    Mr. Putin may be an autocrat; but he is no “Orthodox Tsar”. Last December, Putin revealed his true colors, when he declared to the entire Russian nation on his annual call in show that abortion at will would always remain legal and readily available in government funded clinics. We can now add the millions of Russian children who are murdered in their own mother’s womb to the hundred of thousands of innocent civilians murdered at his command. “Holy Russia, Orthodox Tsar” – get real !!!

    While self appointed experts bat about their theories of “canonicity” we need to remember that the canons and even the scriptures can be misused by “untaught and unstable people (who) twist (them ) to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the scriptures,”
    2 Peter 3:16.

    The church is not a club, nor a debating society. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
    Romans 14: 17

    It is time for our Orthodox chatterers to get serious, for Our Lord will indeed “render to each man according to his deeds” Romans 2:6

    • George Michalopulos says

      Francis, you again prove that concepts like “right and wrong” don’t really enter into your lexicon. You’re are neither right nor wrong but quoting the rules of cricket while everyone else is playing basketball. Indeed, your only reference to reality is Georgia (which you beat like a dead horse relentlessly).

      First of all, you say that the latest scandal perpetrated by Cpole is based on Canon 28 and that we are obsessed with it. Actually, if I read the various comments by Brian and others, no mention was made of Canon 28, instead everybody concentrated on those canons which Cpole trotted out about “the Second Rome”, etc. Therein hangs their entire argument. And many of these commentators (myself included) showed the historical speciousness of said canons and their irrelevance.

      Everything else you write subsequently is tedious.

    • “derides the new Ukrainian church as “schismatic”
      Francis, I do not need any canons to see that this new “church” is a sick joke. Same way as I do not need any lab results to know that Bill Clinton was a notorious womanizer.
      If you do not see it too, perhaps you should go to an eye doctor.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Orwell said something to the effect that “it takes an intellectual to believe something unreal” (total paraphrase).

      • Martin second all u say.  Georgia on my mind!  Eh! Francis. 

  7. I have a question. According to Patriarch Bartholomew, what is the status of the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine headed by Metropolitan Onufry?
    I’m having trouble finding anything definitve in my online search.
    Does the CP consider them to be in schism or just non Ukrainian members of the MP?
    Or has there been no official position reported?
    Any links to sources would be appreciated. Thanks.

  8. Michael Bauman says

    Well, another public “Christian” bites the dust. Joshua Harris of Evangelical fame has issued a mea culpa regarding his previous Evangelical Christian stands on marriage, sex and family life especially doing a deep prostration to the alphabet homoerotic social justice warriors. Asking their forgiveness–proclaiming along with that prostration–he is not a Christian.

    All of this the result of a cascade of guilt and shame because he divorced. He went from Evangelical legalism to secular affirmation. Not a big leap actually.

    Of course what he fails to realize is that genuinely asking for forgiveness is a profoundly Christian act and that mercy comes from God alone, but he is not doing that. He is merely taking his place in the dock of the show trials to proclaim his guilt in order to receive justification from men.

    May God grant him real mercy and lead him to real faith.

  9. SOC hierarch: Jerusalem’s mother of all Churches not Rome or Constantinople
    29 July 2019, 21:50
    Elena Konstantinova

    Metropolitan Amphilochios of Montenegro and the Littoral. Photo:
    Metropolitan Amphilochios claims the Church should return to the system that was before Emperor Constantine, and all issues should be resolved by the Ecumenical Council.

    Metropolitan Amphilochios (Radovic) of Montenegro and the Littoral believes that “Jerusalem is the true mother of all Orthodox Churches” because, according to him, “neither Rome nor Constantinople, but Jerusalem gave birth to all churches”. He stated this in an interview with TASS agency.

    In particular, His Eminence Amphilochios stressed that he did not believe in the possibility of repeating the scenario of Orthodox schism in the Balkans, which the Patriarchate of Constantinople had committed in Ukraine.

    He recalled that Dedeich (the leader of the schismatic Montenegrin Orthodox Church – Ed.) was defrocked by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, “so this is out of the question”.

    At the same time, commenting on the situation in Macedonia, Metropolitan Amphilochios stated that he would not like to believe, “that after all the events [in Ukraine] the Patriarchate of Constantinople will declare war on the Serbian Orthodox Church, since this would be the declaration of war to the SOC. After Ukraine, everything can be expected but I still hope that this will not be the case.”

    In addition, the Metropolitan regretted that “the Patriarch of Constantinople is influenced not by the decent figures but by a certain group of young metropolitans, ambitious people, who with their ambitions instigate the patriarch to certain actions”.

    He noted that “he had talked with serious people from Greece and others” who “are dissatisfied with such an influence on the Patriarch of Constantinople”.

    Metropolitan Amphilochios stressed that Patriarch Bartholomew “is an elderly man and tries to adapt in order to strengthen his primacy, but in fact, he is putting himself in harm’s way, there is no doubt about that”.

    He also recalled that “there were great hierarchs on the patriarchal throne of Constantinople, universally recognized, such as John Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian, yet there were condemned heretic patriarchs, so there aren’t infallible people in the Church.”

    At the same time, His Eminence Amphilochios believes that Constantinople has long since lost its significance for the Orthodox world. In his words, “since 1453 Constantinople has ceased to be the imperial capital, today it is the capital of the Sultan. This quality of the imperial capital was inherited by the Russian kingdom, playing a large role for the whole of Orthodoxy until the royal death in 1918. After the fall of Constantinople and the killing of the tsar in Russia, the empire no longer plays its previous role, therefore, the Church must return to the system that used to be before Emperor Constantine, the Constantine era of ecclesiastic history is over.”

    He emphasized that “the Ecumenical Council is the only one to solve all Orthodox issues”, which should be convened by the Patriarch of Constantinople. However, according to Metropolitan Amphilochios, if Patriarch Bartholomew “continues to behave this way, he will lose that right too”.

    Also, according to one of the most authoritative hierarchs of the Serbian Church, “the only Church – the true mother of all Orthodox Churches – is Jerusalem, because it was neither Rome nor Constantinople, but Jerusalem that gave birth to all other Churches.”

    Earlier, the UOJ wrote that Theophilos III, the Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine, declared that the Jerusalem Church is a Mother of all Churches and a guarantor of pan-Orthodox unity.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      So, what happens when “Israel” finally decimates Syria?  After all, the “Promised Land” is supposed to extend all the way to the Euphrates.  Will the Patriarch of Jerusalem then take over the Antiochian Archdiocese in America?

      • Monk James Silver says

        The land of Israel which God promised to the Jews was delimited biblically by the Jordan River on the east, the Mediterranean Sea on the west, Syria to the north, and Egypt to the south. This is not a very large piece of real estate, and it never included the Euphrates valley. It’s helpful to remember that Abraham — at God’s command — came FROM that part of the world and settled near Hebron.

        The partition of that area of the former Ottoman Empire, as designed by the League of Nations to create a modern state covering the ancient homeland of the Jews, was actually a little larger than the biblical limits, but still a rather small slice of the pie.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Monk James, according to some of the more extreme Zionists, the land of Israel was between the Nile and Euphrates rivers inclusive. This includes the entire west coast of Egypt, the Sinai peninsula and all of Jordan and half of Iraq.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            I think the Zionist idea comes from Genesis 15:18,  “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates”.  
            Of course both Arabs and Jews are seed descendents of Abraham.  God’s promise is already fulfilled.  Yet, the modern Zionists seem to make a racial and legal contention that since Arabs descend from Ishmael, the illegitimate bastard of Abraham, the Arabs therefore have no legitimate right to the land.   
            It’s all very tiresome.  What bothers me is not really Zionism per se, but rather the idea rampant in America that Christianity is supposed to support this modern Zionist program as the “will of God”.  This is a great moral and theological confusion. 
            The tacit support of “Christian Zionism” misconstrued as a “conservative Christian family value” has led our country into numerous wars and destroyed inumerable innocent lives.  Modern Zionism is a huge political agenda with far-reaching domestic and international ramifications.  There’s nothing Christian about it either. 
            Unfortunately, the biggest champions of “Christian Zionism” are also the biggest self-appointed champions of “conservative Christian family values”.  People need to wake up.  The “pro-life” movement and the “pro-family” movement have both become the never-ending political hamster wheels that turn the Zionist agenda.

          • Monk James Silver says

            All of the biblical citations mentioning the Euphrates River as the eastern boundary of the land promised to ‘Abraham and his descendants forever’ are inaccurate.

            This can  be ascertained from several different angles, the first being the most obvious:  The Lord told Abraham to leave his home in Ur and go to ‘the land which I will show you’.  Since Ur is located on the Euphrates, it’s obvious that Abraham would not have had to travel very far in order to arrive in the land which God had promised him, had the river currently known as the Euphrates been one of its borders.

            As it is, though, he traveled several hundred miles, crossing the Jordan River in into Canaan, and dwelled there, raising his son Isaac there and dying there, finally being buried at Makhpelah.  It’s important to our present concerns to note that he had crossed the Jordan River to get there.

            Then, of course, there is an occasionally encountered inconsistency in biblical place names.  This happens for several reasons, mostly because the same place is often called by different names in various local languages, and some of that spills over into the biblical narrative.  And sometimes, place names just change.  Bombay became Mumbai, Peking became Bei-Jing, Nieuw Amsterdam became New York, etc.

            In the thirty-first chapter of Deuteronomy, we read that only Joshua would lead the Israelites across the Jordan into the Promised Land.  Moses will see that land from a distance, but the Lord forbade him to cross the river to enter it, so he died outside the land which God had promised to Abraham, even though he had led the Israelites right up to its border, which, as we noted, is several hundred miles west of the Euphrates.

            During the 1967 War, Israel did indeed capture the entire Sinai Peninsula, which they returned to Egypt before long.  They also recently returned Gaza to the Arabs, unintentionally resulting in intense misery for its inhabitants, abused by Hamas as they are,  and creating a recurrent headache for themselves.

            The fact remains that what we now call the Jordan River is and always has been the eastern border of the Promised Land.

            • Fr. James,
              As to the Jordan being the eastern boundary, what is one to make of, for example, Numbers 32?

              • Fr. James,

                For what its worth, my question about your assertion that the Jordan river was the eastern border of ancient Israel is purely “Biblical.” I do not ask with any notion that it has any relevance today.

            • Monk James: “The fact remains that what we now call the Jordan River is and always has been the eastern border of the Promised Land.”
              These were different times, different people. Palestinians are not the wicked Canaanites and we cannot apply the Biblical quotes from 3000 years ago, today, without context and without understanding.
              Are you willing to put these words in practice, Monk James?
              “But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction,”

              • George Michalopulos says

                Martin, leaving aside the geography lesson, the Lord ordered the genocide of the Canaanites for several reasons. For one, they engaged in horribly wicked and abominable religious practices, including the murder of infants. Also, according to the rabbinic sages (and some Church Fathers), their bloodline was polluted with demonic DNA –as were their livestock.

                In Genesis 6, we read about the nephilim –fallen angels–and how they had polluted the genome of the Adamic race and how humans had tinkered with the genome of animals, making horrible hybrids. The Canaanites were themselves engaging in these practices, hence the need for their complete annihilation.

                • “The Canaanites were themselves engaging in these practices, hence the need for their complete annihilation.”
                  Either way, the Jews of that time were not so ferocious and did not carry it out . I suspect that this modern zeal has more to do with Calvin and Cromwell.

          • What is it with this Jewish obscession?. WHO gives a damn where and what the jews imagine their land to be outside of others living there and the problem it causes?
            They committed genocide in taking it over, being usual middle eastern practice. The other was to move the entire population as the jews were to Babylon It has NO SPIRITUAL CONNECTION FOR US. Irrelevant to me.
            Am I the ONLY CHRISTIAN, ORTHODOX HERE to point out that THE OLD COVENANT IS DESTROYED, OVER TURNED???. We are the new Israel of Christ’s New Testament.
            I AM A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST. I thought only yr loony protestant arians were this obscessed.? Maybe it’s an american thing?.
            I repeat the jews are a middle eastern race as any other with no current claim to anything beyond that of all human beings. We are Christians who are the NEW COVENANT!! THAT IS BEYOND TIME AND PLACE.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Unfortunately, Nikos, it has an outsized influence on U.S. politics and culture.

              One cannot forget that there are actual groups of real people here in the US that are working on breeding the perfect Red Heifer to immanentize the eschcaton, i.e., bring about Armageddon in Israel to usher in the Return of Christ and the last judgment. Thank you John Nelson Darby.

              Apocalyptic/utopian ideology has a long and vigorous history in the US. Sometimes we are like a bunch of drug crazed idiots on the quest for the perfect high and perfect justice. We are, after all, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, so why pay any attention to the actual God and His mercy and actual providence. Our national philosophy could easily be described as Calvinist Enlightenment.

              We MUST forge our own way to perfection in this world, don’t you know. Violence is often not far behind when such ventures or ideas do not yield the expected fruit. As a nation, sober we are not.

        • Monk James: “The land of Israel which God promised to the Jews was delimited biblically by the Jordan River on the east, the Mediterranean Sea on the west, Syria to the north, and Egypt to the south. ”
          Really? “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates – the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaite, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” Putting aside Samaritans, who could lay claim to the land of northern Kingdom – Israel (present Jews came from much smaller Judea around Jerusalem)
          Funny thing is that the original Zionists, most of whom did not believe in God, still believed that God gave them the land. Another question, did the ancient Jews. who accepted Christ and are among the ancestors of modern Palestinians, lose  rights to their land?

  10. Archbishop Elpidophoros visted St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona yesterday. He visited with Elder Ephraim and they both issued joint statements that indicate that the new Archbishop is strongly endorsing the presence of monasteries in the Greek Archdiocese. Considering the strong, misinformed, often hateful and ignorant, opposition to the Ephraim monasteries in the GOA, I commend the Archbishop for his manly, courageous endorsement of monasticism in the Greek Archdiocese. Glory to God! May God grant his blessing on the work of the new Archbishop and the elder Ephraim and all the faithful of the Greek Archdiocese. I look forward, with cautious optimism to the meeting of the Archbishop and the elders of the Ephraim monasteries that will take place at the St. Nektarios monastery, Roscoe NY in September. The GOA developed over the last 100 years without monasteries, with obvious consequences. Thank God for Elder Ephraim, through a great miracle from God established 20 monasteries over the last 20 years. And thank God that we have a GOA Archbishop, who openly and without fear endorses these monastic communities.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Well, I must give the new Arb credit then. I hope that this won’t antagonize the Archon/L100 class however. Kinda like what happened to Met Jonah when he was one of the first signatories to The Manhattan Declaration.

      That sealed his fate as far as the liberals were concerned.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Glory to God! Many years to Archbishop Elpidophoros!

    • I would be glad to be proven wrong, but I believe the agenda for the monastic summit will be driven by:
      General Regulations for the Establishment and Operation of Holy Monasteries in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America” [Protocol #95] issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on February 16, 2005.
      The Archbishop and the Metropolitans will probably be looking to regulate (bring them to heel) the monasteries according to this protocol with a major focus on enforcing these articles and taking control of their finances:
      Article 4 of the Regulations set forth the “Rights and Duties of the Metropolitan,” which include: “…the highest oversight” and “The auditing of the financial records of the Monastery.”
      Article 14 requires the permission of the local metropolitan for the construction of buildings.
      Article 15 (b) requires monasteries to “contribute financial assistance to the local metropolis and the Archdiocese for the benefit of the Church and the community.” (c) requires every monastery to submit to the metropolis a financial report for the previous year and a budget for the coming year. (e) requires each monastery to judiciously maintain financial records “detailing the exact daily income and expenditures, as well as documents pertaining to their entities.”
      Article 16 (d) states: “The Monastery Sanctuary is not a parish church. As such, the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage is fully prohibited in monasteries of the Archdiocese…. In special cases, the Sacraments of baptism and chrismation may be conducted in the monasteries, provided there is a compelling reason that is deemed acceptable by the local metropolitan, who grants the requisite episcopal permission for the celebration of the Sacrament and issues the proper certificate. In any case, the registration of such baptism and/or chrismation shall be done in the official books of the parish to which the one baptized or chrismated (anointed) belongs.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        It’s puzzling that you bring up the prohibition against the sacrament of marriage in monastery churches.  That prohibition is for the protection of the monastery itself.  Traditionally, marriages are never held in monastery churches. 
        In the rare instances where marriages have been held in monasteries, it comes across to me as a bit scandalous.  Why on earth would people want to be married in a monastery church?  Do they wish to be monks, or do they wish to be married?

        • I didn’t bring it up.  
          That was the work of the Patriarch of Constantinople and his Synodical Metropolitans.
          I guess they brought it up to reinforce: “The
 church” i.e. no in-the-world “family” sacraments allowed.
          Apparently these hierarchs have a problem with the monastery “regulars” who have made their monasteries into not just places of pilgrimage but substitutes for home parishes.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Ioann, I can say for a fact that several of these monasteries have become the place of regular worship for many disaffected people in the GOA. Whether this is proper is a story that needs to investigated.

            • In Uk. The monastery of St John Baptist in Essex, at Tolleshunt Knights has a regular Sunday crowd of greek cypriots from London and today includes many Slavs and others. Many folk have moved house to live near by.
              But I am not aware of any Sacraments except Holy Communion, being celebrated there.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Nikos, probably the Sacrament of Confession/Contrition is also likely I would suspect.

                • Michael.  Sorry. YES of course confession, many many lay people including me have gone there

          • Gail Sheppard says

            In 2017, the GOA was looking for a way to offset its losses. However, if it is true that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is now getting something from all the schismatic parishes and monasteries in Ukraine, they would have more than enough money to bail out the GOA and no longer need to squeeze the Efraim monasteries to stay afloat.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            This is very encouraging, actually, because it shows that the GOA is taking a very pro-monastic stance.  Extenuating circumstances aside, monasteries should not be viewed as substitute parishes for “regulars”.  It can create a cult-like environment that’s dangerous both for the monastery and for those “regulars” who are avoiding both a regular parish life and also an actual monastic life.  A good monastery sends people back home to witness to their parish, and to live in humble obedience to their parish priest.

            • Matthew Panchisin says

              Dear Mr. Lipper,
              “This is very encouraging, actually, because it shows that the GOA is taking a very pro-monastic stance.”

              Some think that it is not possible to author the first without equals ecclesiastical heresy, create schisms and authentically take a very pro-monastic stance, unless one doesn’t actually know the difference, as such, please at least attempt to refrain from presenting additional distortions.

            • Joseph Lipper,
              It is encouraging in the sense that Bartholomew has recognized the “power” of all the people who visit Ephraim’s monasteries. These monasteries are literal and spiritual oases in the GOA.

              However, it is discouraging or alarming, considering the ecumenist targets and performance of the last 100 yrs of EP history, that Bartholomew with Elpidophoros may want to use a manoeuver to “capture” these monasteries for their own interests and glory. 

              Let us pray that both of these men fully understand the real message from Arizona, that they repent and return to the fullness of Orthodoxy, far from Ecumenism and personal glory. Otherwise they will lose their secular glory AND their soul.

              • Matthew Panchisin says

                Dear Ioannis,

                I think it was an elder that said something like the ecumenist love the Church like a prostitute loves. It’s the sort of comment that isn’t pleasant to hear, however it seems like it conveys a root understanding about what is happening in Ukraine and throughout the Orthodox Church.

                I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to the Greek monasteries (in the barbarian lands) that are thought to need guidance and corrected ecclesiastical structure from Elpidophoros.

                • Dear Matthew, I couldn’t agree more!
                  Yes, St.J.Chysosostom has said a lot about his dangerous beautiful female, Gloria, the Glory of the Bishop, and the even prettier Glories of the Arch-Bishop, Patriarch, Pope, World Religious Leader.
                  It isn’t pleasant to hear, but it is a fact of everyday Church life and we have to face it.
                  Let us all pray for Elder Ephraim to act wisely.And if we, the laity, see something wrong going on, we must then speak up.

              • Neitherbeast says

                What if some hierarchs of the OCU arrive at the assembly to concelebrate with the heads of the Elder Ephraim monasteries?

                Will the OCU then claim that Elder Ephraim has given de facto recognition to the schismatics?

            • Joseph for once agree every word!!  

      • Sorry I neglected to give proper citation to what I believe will be the agenda (driven by the Donor-class and certain lay groups):
        Orthodox Christian Laity Requests Check on Monasteries
        The National Herald
        April 2, 2017

      • Michael Bauman says

        Ioan, are you saying the support of the Arb for monasteries is contingent upon the monasteries paying money into the coffers to support the various projects of questionable worth and Pat. Bartholomew?

        If the money or sufficient money is not forthcoming, the support will evaporate?

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Monk James,
      Joshua’s entrance into the southern part of Canaan and across the Jordan River was simply where God wanted the Hebrews to enter.  That doesn’t necessarily define a full eastern boundary.  At the time of King David, the adjacent Kingdom of Hamath stretched east to the River Euphrates, and Hamath willingly submitted to Israel.  Thus, God’s promise of land stretching to the Euphrates was fulfilled.

    • Credit where due to elpidophoros.  Yes the lack of a monastic spirituality has been what has crippled the GOA. It was monasticism that kept the Slav side of things going.  Well credit where due   As George says ‘ let’s see reaction in the karloutsos et al business machine.’

  11. I think the Archbishop and the GOA Metropolitans are going to enforce “The Regulations for the Establishment and Operation of Holy Monasteries” laid down by the EP by mainly by the hierarchs taking over the finances of the monastery/-ries in their individual jurisdictions.

    I don’t think the Archbishop’s “support” will “evaporate,” but will instead solidify like an iron glove.

    This is just morbid speculation on my part and I hope the monasteries do not fall, but if the wishes of the Billion/Million-aire Donors and lay associations like OCL and Go Truth Reform are granted we will see the monasteries lose their independence and control of their finances.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Thankfully, there are “billion/millionaire donors” who don’t want to see the monasteries lose their independence. They’re the ones who helped build them.

      • After the monastic assembly I’m sure the GOA hierarchy will be especially thankful for the continued support of the monasteries by these very donors.