Document Adopted by the Bishops Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church 19 July 2023

Архиерейское совещание

Everyone is a buzz about a document referenced in Resolution #7, adopted by the Bishops Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In our opinion, the content cannot be adequately summarized, as each point is critically important to understanding why these concerns were raised and why they are deemed as legitimate by those representing the greater part of the Orthodox Church.  The far reaching implications of the approval of this document cannot be overstated, as it could be a prelude for convening a spiritual court for the removal of the Ecumenical Patriarch.  Distorted teaching is heresy.  For this reason, we included the document in its entirety below:

On the distortion of the Orthodox teaching about the Church in the acts of the hierarchy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the speeches of its representatives

The document was approved at  the Bishops’ Meeting of  the Russian Orthodox Church on July 19, 2023.

Having gathered for joint prayer and fraternal communion in the Holy Spirit at the honorable relics of St. Sergius of Radonezh in the ancient Holy Trinity Lavra founded by him, we, the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, cannot pass over in silence the sad division that is now being experienced in the Orthodox world, generated by the wrong actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and new teachings, which are distributed by its Primate and official representatives. We consider it our duty to raise our voice in defense of the Orthodox teaching about the Church, addressing both our God-loving flock and fellow archpastors of the Orthodox world.

Behind the schismatic acts of the hierarchs of Constantinople in Ukraine, which divided the Orthodox world family, are innovations in the teaching about the Church, intensively planted by the same hierarchs, aimed at destroying the existing canonical foundations. The new concept of the primacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople, presented as the earthly head of the Ecumenical Church, assimilates to him rights and privileges that go far beyond the rights of any other Primate of the Local Orthodox Church and violate the canonical rights of other Churches.

Already in 2008, the Consecrated Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, in the definition “On the unity of the Church”, summarized the main theses of the new ecclesiological concept of the representatives of the Church of Constantinople, noting that this concept comes from an understanding of individual canons (primarily canons 9, 17 and 28 of the IV Ecumenical Council) not shared by the entirety of the Orthodox Church, and becomes a challenge to pan-Orthodox unity.

According to this concept, a) only that Local Church, which is in communion with the Throne of Constantinople, is considered to belong to universal Orthodoxy; b) The Patriarchate of Constantinople has the exclusive right of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in all countries of the Orthodox diaspora; c) in these countries, the Patriarchate of Constantinople alone represents the opinions and interests of all the Local Churches before the state authorities; d) any bishop or cleric serving outside the canonical territory of his Local Church is under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Constantinople, even if he himself is not aware of it, and therefore, if desired, can be admitted to this jurisdiction without a leave letter; e) The Patriarchate of Constantinople determines the geographical boundaries of the Churches and, if his opinion does not coincide with the opinion of this or that Church on this issue, he can establish his own jurisdiction on the territory of this Church; f) The Patriarchate of Constantinople unilaterally determines which autocephalous Local Church can and which cannot participate in inter-Orthodox events.

The Council noted that such a vision by the Patriarchate of Constantinople of its own rights and powers enters into an insurmountable contradiction with the centuries-old canonical tradition on which the existence of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Local Churches is based. The Council recognized that all the above-mentioned issues can only be finally resolved at the Ecumenical Council of the Orthodox Church, and before that it called on the Church of Constantinople to exercise caution and refrain from steps that could destroy Orthodox unity until the pan-Orthodox consideration of these innovations. This especially applies to attempts to revise the canonical limits of the Local Orthodox Churches.

To date, new claims have been added to the claims of Constantinople, which were pointed out by the Council of Bishops in 2008. In particular, a) the Patriarch of Constantinople insists that he has the right to consider appeals against judicial decisions taken in any other Local Orthodox Church and make a final decision on them; b) The Patriarch of Constantinople considers himself entitled to interfere in the internal affairs of any Local Orthodox Church if he deems it necessary; c) The Patriarch of Constantinople declares that he is empowered to revoke canonical bans imposed in other Local Churches, to “restore to rank” persons who have lost their hierarchical dignity due to deviation into schism; d) moreover, persons who have never even had the appearance of a canonical episcopal consecration (for example, ordained by a deposed bishop and a former deacon who pretended to be a bishop), are “restored” to the dignity by the decision of the Patriarch of Constantinople; e) The Patriarch of Constantinople considers himself entitled to accept into his canonical jurisdiction clerics of any dioceses of any Local Churches without leave certificates; f) The Patriarch of Constantinople assimilates to himself the exclusive right of initiative in convening pan-Orthodox councils and other significant pan-Orthodox events; g) finally, contrary to the inter-Orthodox agreements reached in the course of preparations for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, suggesting that the granting of autocephaly to one or another Local Church is possible only with the consent of all generally recognized Local Churches, The Patriarch of Constantinople declares his sole right to proclaim the autocephaly of new Local Churches, including those not under the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople, without the consent of the Primates and Councils of other Local Orthodox Churches. At the same time, the very concept of autocephaly is interpreted in such a way that it actually means the subordination of the autocephalous Church to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

These deviations from Orthodox ecclesiology, when translated from a theoretical plane into a practical plane, led to a deep crisis in world Orthodoxy. The immediate cause of the crisis was the invasion of the Patriarchate of Constantinople into Ukraine. This anti-canonical and criminal act, for which Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople is personally responsible, received a proper assessment in the statements of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of September 14 and October 15, 2018, of February 26, 2019, as well as in the resolutions of the Holy Synod of December 28, 2018 (magazine No. 98) and April 4, 2019 (magazine No. 21).

The visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to Kiev, which followed on August 20-24, 2021, received a canonical assessment at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on September 23-24, 2021, which decided: “To recognize the arrival in Kiev of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople with persons accompanying him without an invitation from the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Onufry and the law hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by a gross violation of the canons, in particular, 3 canons of the Council of Sardis and 13 canons of the Council of Antioch” (journal No. 60). Among the recent anti-canonical visits of Patriarch Bartholomew, one should also mention a visit to Lithuania on March 20-23 and Estonia on June 16-20, 2023.

The attempts of Constantinople to convince all the Local Orthodox Churches of the correctness of the actions taken by him did not bring the expected results.

Meanwhile, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has already announced new anti-canonical acts. In particular, on March 21, 2023, at a meeting with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania in Vilnius, he stated: “Today, a new perspective opens before us, as well as the possibility of working together to create an exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Lithuania” [1 ] . Thus, another invasion of the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church is being prepared.

Since the illegal actions of Constantinople continue, and the ideas that distort the Orthodox teaching about the Church are being further developed, we consider it our duty to remind our flock of the basic principles on which Orthodox ecclesiology has been built for centuries, and to testify to the entire Orthodox Plenitude of our fidelity to these immutable principles. It was the violation of them by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople that caused a schism in world Orthodoxy. 

1. Claims of the Patriarch of Constantinople to the primacy of power over the Universal Church

The Church was founded on earth by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It is an assembly of believers in Christ, into which each one is called by Himself to enter. The Church is not an ordinary human community; the Holy Spirit is present and active in it.

The Church is a divine-human organism, the mystical Body of Christ, as the Apostle Paul says about it: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in heaven… and has put all things under His feet, and made Him above all things, the head of the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:3, 22-23). The image of the body indicates the unity of all members of the Church under a single Head – the Lord Jesus Christ (see Col. 1, 18).

The purpose of the Church is the salvation of people and the whole world. Salvation can only be found in the Church of Christ. According to the words of the Hieromartyr Cyprian of Carthage, “he can no longer have God as the Father who does not have the Church as a mother” [2] .

The creed points to the four essential properties of the Church: unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolate.

The Church is one because God is one. The Church is one and only, because it unites believers with the unity of faith, Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and Eucharistic communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is indivisible: “Where Christ is, there is the Church” [3] , “Where the Holy Spirit is, there is the Church” [4] .

The Church is holy because its Head, Jesus Christ, is holy. Members of the Church partake of His holiness.

The Church is catholic (catholic), since it is spread all over the world, open to believers regardless of time, place, origin and social status who wish to join it. The catholicity of the Church is also reflected in the communion between the Local Churches that form the Universal Church. The bishops of the Local Churches, despite the difference in their positions, are equal to each other as having been elevated to the same degree of priesthood. Since each bishop received from the Holy Spirit grace equal to that of other bishops, the dignity of all bishops is equal: “Let not the bishop of the first throne be called an exarch of priests or high priest” (canon 48 of the Council of Carthage). The assimilation of any bishop of special significance in sacramental or theological terms is a distortion of catholicity.

The property of catholicity does not exclude the ministry of primacy. The document “The Position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the Question of Primacy in the Ecumenical Church,” adopted by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in 2013, noted that “in the Holy Church of Christ, primacy in everything belongs to its Head — our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man.” The document states that the substitution of the traditional and canonically justified primacy of honor of the Patriarchate of Constantinople by the doctrine of the primacy of power allegedly belonging to it is justified by the unlawful transfer of power from the level of the episcopate to the level of the Ecumenical Church, while at different levels of church existence primacy has a different nature and various sources . These levels are: a) episcopacy (eparchy), b) autocephalous Local Church and c) Universal Church.

At the level of the diocese, the primacy belongs to the bishop. The source of the primacy of a bishop in his diocese is the apostolic succession, communicated through ordination. In his ecclesiastical inheritance, the bishop has the fullness of power – sacramental, administrative and teaching.

At the level of an autocephalous Local Church, primacy belongs to the bishop, who is elected as Primate of the Local Church by the Council of its Bishops. Source of superiority at the level of the autocephalous Church is the election of the pre-eminent bishop by the Council (or Synod), which has full ecclesiastical authority. The primate of an autocephalous Local Church is the first among equal bishops, as Apostolic Canon 34 says: “It is fitting for the bishops of every nation to know the first in them, and to recognize him as the head, and not to do anything exceeding their power without his reasoning: to do to each only what concerns his diocese, and to the places belonging to it. But let the first do nothing without the judgment of all. For in this way there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified in the Lord in the Holy Spirit, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The powers of the Primate are determined by the Council (Synod) and are fixed in the charter adopted by the Council. The primate of an autocephalous Local Church does not have sole power in it,

At the level of the Ecumenical Church as a community of autocephalous Local Churches, primacy is determined in accordance with the tradition of sacred diptychs and is a primacy of honor. The source of the primacy of honor at the level of the Ecumenical Church is the canonical tradition of the Church, recorded in the sacred diptychs and recognized by all autocephalous Local Churches. The canonical rules on which the sacred diptychs are based do not endow the bishop who takes precedence in honor with any powers of authority on a general church scale [5] .

For centuries, this understanding was also defended by the Patriarchs of Constantinople themselves, in particular, challenging the claims of the Pope to universal jurisdiction. However, now one of the leading theologians of the Patriarchate of Constantinople asserts: “The phenomenon of anti-papism, understood as the denial of the first in the Ecumenical Church… is, in fact, heretical… The fact that the Orthodox Churches today refuse to recognize among themselves any kind of primacy like the Roman one is the main problem in their dialogue with Rome” [6 ] .

Today, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has developed and is implementing a new vision of primacy at the level of the Ecumenical Church. The Patriarch of Constantinople is presented not as “the first among equals”, but as “the first without equals” [7] . His primacy in the Universal Church is likened to the primacy of God the Father in the Holy Trinity [8] . He allegedly “is the spiritual father of all people, whether they understand it or not” [9] . Other Local Churches are interpreted as being in the bosom of a single Church due to communion with Constantinople [10] . The special powers of the Patriarch of Constantinople are defined as arising from certain hitherto unknown privileges received almost from the apostles themselves [11]. The right to speak on behalf of the entire Orthodox Plenitude is presented as automatically arising from the position held by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and not as acquired by the Local Churches by virtue of a pan-Orthodox consensus [12] .

In the official speeches of the current Primate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, this Local Church is actually identified with Ecumenical Orthodoxy. Speaking in Vilnius on March 22, 2023, Patriarch Bartholomew stated: “Will Orthodoxy continue to be spiritually led by its source and protector, its traditional and historical center, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople? This is an essential issue that determines the character, identity and existence of Orthodoxy” [13] .

Patriarch Bartholomew asserts that “for Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate serves as a leaven that “leaves the whole dough” (Gal. 5:9) of the Church and history”; The Patriarchate of Constantinople “embodies the true ecclesiastical ethos of Orthodoxy: “In the beginning was the Word… In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1,4). The beginning of the Orthodox Church is the Ecumenical Patriarchate, “this is life, and life is the light of the Churches” [14] . Quoting the statement of the late Metropolitan Kirill of Gorty and Arcadia that “Orthodoxy cannot exist without the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” Patriarch Bartholomew declares that “each of us must be even more strongly united with the First among us in order to drink from a full-flowing spring, the source of which is our pious nation and immaculate faith.” It is claimed that “The Ecumenical Patriarchate is responsible for bringing affairs into ecclesiastical and canonical order, because only it has the canonical privilege, as well as the prayer and blessing of the Church and the Ecumenical Councils, to fulfill this supreme and exceptional duty as a caring Mother and parent of the Churches. If the Ecumenical Patriarchate renounces its duty and leaves the inter-Orthodox scene, the local Churches will become “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36), wasting their strength in church initiatives, in which the humility of faith is mixed with the arrogance of power” [15 ] .

According to Patriarch Bartholomew, the doctrine of the equality of Orthodox primates is a distortion of Orthodox ecclesiology, from which he considers it necessary to warn the bishops of the Church of Constantinople: “Without recognizing the sacrificial, kenotic and irreplaceable responsibility of the Patriarch of Constantinople among the Orthodox, ecclesiology can in no way be sound and in no way corresponds to the way of thinking and ethos of the fathers who preceded us, as being here, as well as in other places. You serve a true and unchanging ecclesiology, far from the sad distortion that we are all equal, and the first, Constantinople, exists simply “for the sake of honor.” Yes, we are equal, we have the same bishopric,[16] .

Patriarch Bartholomew openly declares that the Primates of Constantinople have the exclusive right, on their own initiative, to interfere in the internal affairs of any Local Church on any issue, to independently evaluate, cancel or review the acts of the Primates of autocephalous Churches, if they are recognized in Constantinople as “insufficient”: but also about all relatively important individual issues of interest to this or that Local Church, she never and nowhere slowed down and did not refuse, as a guardian, in care and support, sometimes on her own initiative and out of a sense of duty, and sometimes at the request of interested parties, making her effective contribution, as an arbitrator,to resolve disputes that arise between the holy Churches of God, to settle disagreements between pastors and flocks, to get rid of additional difficulties and return church affairs to their canonical path, to strengthen the sometimes insufficient actions of the spiritual leaders of individual Churches, to support weak, vacillating and victimized intrigues in Orthodoxy, to prevent, in short, any moral and material dangers that threaten the well-being of those most holy Churches.waverers and victims of intrigues in Orthodoxy, in order to prevent, in short, any moral and material dangers that threaten the well-being of those most holy Churches.waverers and victims of intrigues in Orthodoxy, in order to prevent, in short, any moral and material dangers that threaten the well-being of those most holy Churches.[17] .

Any rupture of communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople of any Local Church is presented as a falling away of the latter from Orthodoxy: “He who threatens to break off Eucharistic communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate thereby deprives himself, cutting himself off from the trunk of the tree of the Orthodox Church” [18 ] .

Assuming for itself exclusive powers in the Orthodox Church, the Patriarchate of Constantinople does not consider itself bound by the decisions of even the Councils it convenes. So, in 2018, the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople decided on the possibility of a second marriage for clergy under certain conditions. This definition is in direct contradiction with the document “The Sacrament of Marriage and the Obstacles to It”, adopted at the Crete Council, the decisions of which the Patriarchate of Constantinople declared binding even for those Local Churches that refused to participate in it.

Such an understanding of the primacy in the Ecumenical Church and the place of the Patriarch of Constantinople in the family of the Local Orthodox Churches is in radical contradiction with the Orthodox Church Tradition and is categorically rejected by the Russian Orthodox Church, which remains committed to the letter and spirit of the Church canons.

The patristic tradition and Orthodox teaching about the Church affirms the equality of the primates of the Holy Churches of God and does not endow the first of them with any powers of authority. This, among others, has been testified throughout history by His Holiness the Patriarchs of the East, including those of Constantinople.

Patriarch of Constantinople John X Kamatir (1198-1206), in his message to Pope Innocent of Rome, insisted that the Roman Church cannot be the mother of other Churches, because “there are five great Churches that are honored with patriarchal dignity, and she [the Church of Rome] is the first among equal sisters”; “with regard to these great thrones, we think that the Roman Church is the first in order and is venerated only by virtue of this merit alone, being the first in relation to other Churches as sisters of equal honor and one father, born of the one Heavenly Father “from Him is every family in heaven and on earth” (Eph. 3:15), and that she is the teacher and mother of other [Churches], we have not been taught in any way even now» [19 ] .

The confession of faith of 1623 by Patriarch Mitrofan Krytopoulos of Alexandria, also signed by Patriarchs Jeremiah ΙΙΙ of Constantinople, Athanasius V of Antioch, Chrysanthos of Jerusalem, and several hierarchs of the Church of Constantinople, defines: “There is an equality between the four Patriarchs, truly befitting Christian pastors. None of them exalts themselves above the others, and none of them considers himself worthy to be called the head of the Catholic Church… Such head of the Catholic Church is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the head of all, from whom the whole body is made up (Eph. 5:15-16)… Knowing this, the most holy and blessed four Patriarchs of the Catholic Church, the successors of the Apostles and champions of truth, do not want to call anyone the head, being content with spoken deified and almighty Head, sitting at the right hand of the Father and observing all. They treat each other equally in everything. Apart from the pulpit, there is no other difference between them. Constantinople presides, next to it is Alexandria, then Antioch, next to it is Jerusalem.[20] .

Rejecting an invitation from the Pope of Rome to the First Vatican Council, Patriarch Gregory VI of Constantinople wrote in 1868: “We … cannot accept that in the whole Church of Christ there is a certain Bishop in charge and head, one and the other, besides the Lord, that there is a certain Patriarch … speaking from the pulpit and the highest Ecumenical Councils … or that the Apostles were not equal, to insult the Holy Spirit, equally enlightening all, or that this or that Patriarch or Pope had seniority to the throne not from the Council, not from people, but according to divine, as you say, right” [21 ] .

In 1894, Patriarch Anthym VII of Constantinople, in a message to Pope Leo XIII, also emphasized the equality of Primates and Local Churches: “The divine fathers, honoring the Bishop of Rome only as the bishop of the reigning city of the empire, granted him the honorary privilege of presidency, looked at him simply as the first among other bishops, that is, the first among equals, which privilege was later given to the bishop of the city of Constantinople when this city became reigning in the Roman Empire… Each individually autocephalous Church in the East and West was completely independent and self-governing during the seven Ecumenical Councils… and the Bishop of Rome did not have the right to interfere, being himself also subject to conciliar decrees” [22 ] .

The history of the Church knows many cases when the Bishop of Constantinople veered into heresy or schism. In particular, Bishop Eusebius of Constantinople was an Arian, and Macedonian was a Doukhobor. Bishop Nestorius of Constantinople was a heresiarch, for which he was deposed and excommunicated from the Church at the Third Ecumenical Council. Patriarchs of Constantinople Sergius I, Pyrrhus, Paul II, Peter were monothelites, and Patriarchs Anastasius, Constantine II, Nikita I, Theodotus Cassitera, Anthony I Cassimata, John VII Grammarians were iconoclasts. Patriarchs Mitrofan II and Gregory III Mamma were in union with Rome.

Belonging to the Orthodox Church is determined not by the presence or absence of communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, but by firm adherence to dogmatic and canonical tradition. In those cases when the Patriarch of Constantinople himself deviates into heresy or schism, as has repeatedly happened in history, he finds himself out of communion with the Orthodox Church, and not those who, for the sake of defending the truth and following the canons, are forced to break off church communion with him. In particular, when the Patriarch of Constantinople veered into the union, other Local Churches continued to firmly preserve the Orthodox faith. And the fullness of grace in them did not diminish because they were temporarily out of communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople.

In the Orthodox Church there cannot be a Primate who has special privileges in comparison with other Primates. The head of the Ecumenical Church is the Lord Jesus Christ (“He is the head of the body of the Church” — Col. 1:18), and not the Ecumenical Patriarch [23] . The interference of one Local Church in the affairs of another Church is unacceptable. The primacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople among the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches is a primacy of honor, not power. It does not grant him any special privileges, with the exception of those that can be acquired by him by virtue of the consensus of the Local Orthodox Churches, as was the case in the course of preparations for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, when, by agreement of the Churches, the functions of coordinating the process were entrusted to the Patriarch of Constantinople.

At present, due to the accession of the Patriarch of Constantinople to the schism, it has become impossible for the Russian Orthodox Church to recognize this honorary primacy for him. As the Holy Synod noted in a statement dated October 15, 2018, entering into communion with those who have strayed into schism, and even more so with those who have been excommunicated, is tantamount to deviation into schism and is severely condemned by the canons of the Holy Church: rank” (Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch; cf. Apostolic Canons 10, 11).

In a ruling dated September 23-24, 2021, the Holy Synod noted that, “by supporting the schism in Ukraine, Patriarch Bartholomew has lost the trust of millions of believers,” and emphasized that “under conditions when the majority of the Orthodox believers of the world are not in church communion with him, he no longer has the right to speak on behalf of all world Orthodoxy and present himself as its leader” [24 ] .

2. Claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for the role of the highest instance of appeal in the Ecumenical Church

 A gross violation of the canonical order that exists in the Orthodox Church is the claim for the allegedly available “canonical privileges of the Patriarch of Constantinople to receive appeals from bishops and clerics from all autocephalous Churches” [25] . Constantinople bases this claim on canon 9 of the IV Ecumenical Council [26] , which prescribes with a claim against the “metropolitan of the region” to apply “either to the exarch of the great region, or to the throne of the reigning Constantinople.”

However, this rule does not apply to all Local Churches, but to the Local Church of Constantinople, and is valid only within it. This is evidenced by the authoritative Byzantine interpreter of the canons John Zonara, who clearly points out that “the Patriarch of Constantinople is not placed as a judge over all the metropolitans without exception, but only over those subordinate to him. For he cannot bring to his judgment the metropolitans of Syria, or of Palestine and Phoenicia, or of Egypt, against their will; but the metropolitans of Syria are subject to the court of the Patriarch of Antioch, and the Palestinian metropolitans are subject to the court of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, while the Egyptian ones are to be judged by the Patriarch of Alexandria, from whom they receive ordination and to whom they are subordinate” [27 ] .

The Monk Nikodim the Holy Mountaineer in Pidalion, which is an authoritative source of ecclesiastical canonical law of the Church of Constantinople, also notes that “The Primate of Constantinople does not have the right to act in dioceses and regions of other Patriarchs, and this rule did not give him the right to receive appeals on any case in the Ecumenical Church.” Enumerating a number of arguments in favor of this interpretation, St. Nikodim concludes: “At the present time… the Primate of Constantinople is the first, only and last judge over the metropolitans subordinate to him, but not over those who are subordinate to the rest of the Patriarchs” [28 ] .

In different eras, there were cases of appeals by the Primates of other Local Churches to the Patriarch of Constantinople for help. This practice is reflected, in particular, in the “District Epistle of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to all Orthodox Christians” (1848), which says: “The Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, in case of unusual and complicated cases, write to the Patriarch of Constantinople, because this city is the capital of autocrats and, moreover, has the advantage provided by the Councils. If by fraternal assistance the one in need of correction is corrected, then it is good; if not, then the matter is referred to the government in due course. But this fraternal assistance in the Christian faith does not come at the expense of the enslavement of the Churches of God” [29] .

However, firstly, here we are talking about specific Local Churches – Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, and not in general about all the Churches that have ever existed and still exist. Secondly, we are talking about “unusual and complicated” cases, which are transferred to the discretion of the Patriarch of Constantinople by the Primates of these Churches on their own initiative, in the event that they themselves cannot resolve these issues. Thirdly, the text clearly states that the participation of Constantinople in resolving such issues should not prejudice the freedom of the Local Churches. Fourthly, nowhere in this text does it say that an individual bishop or cleric of one or another Local Church, bypassing his Primate or the highest conciliar authority of his own Church, could appeal to the Patriarch of Constantinople. The practice of turning to the Patriarch of Constantinople in complex and intricate matters is due to the fact that “this city is the capital of autocrats,” which, as is well known, it no longer is. Obviously, the corresponding powers of the See of Constantinople could not extend beyond the territory under the rule of the above-mentioned autocrats: in 1848, the sultan was such an autocrat, and therefore in this place we could only talk about local churches located within the Ottoman Empire.

In recent history, there have been cases when, on its own initiative, one or another Local Church, represented by its Primate and the Synod, turned to Constantinople for help if it could not solve the problem on its own. The Patriarch of Constantinople in such cases acted not as the highest court of appeal, but as a coordinator of assistance provided to the suffering Church by other Local Orthodox Churches.

An example of such a pan-Orthodox action, carried out with the coordinating role of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, can serve as one of the stages in the healing of the schism in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. In 1998, at the request of Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople presided over the Holy Great and Enlarged Council convened in Sofia, in which the Primates and representatives of thirteen Local Orthodox Churches participated on September 30-October 1, 1998. The Council accepted the repentance of a number of bishops who were in schism [30] , and with them also clerics, monastics and laity, reuniting them with the canonical Bulgarian Orthodox Church [31] .

Many years later, Patriarch Bartholomew claimed to “heal the Ukrainian schism,” but acted in a completely different way than when healing the schism in the Bulgarian Church. If in that case the leadership of the Bulgarian Church turned to Constantinople, now neither the Hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, nor the Hierarchy of the self-governing Ukrainian Orthodox Church turned to Constantinople for a solution to the problem. And the secular authorities of the Ukrainian state and two groups of schismatics turned to Patriarch Bartholomew, bypassing the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. And the decision of Constantinople to “restore in dignity” the excommunicated former Metropolitan of Kyiv Filaret Denisenko was made in violation of church canons.

It should be recalled that on August 26, 1992, in response to the notice of the deposition of Metropolitan Filaret of Kiev, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople wrote to Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Rus’: “Our Holy Great Church of Christ, recognizing the fullness of the exclusive competence of your Most Holy Russian Church on this issue, accepts the decision of [your] Synod on the above.” The response of Patriarch Bartholomew dated April 7, 1997 to the message about the anathematization of Denisenko reads: “Having received notification of the said decision, we informed the hierarchy of our Ecumenical Throne about it and asked her not to have any further ecclesiastical communion with the mentioned persons.” Thus, even if the Patriarchate of Constantinople had the right to receive appeals from other Local Orthodox Churches, then even in such a case the Patriarch of Constantinople,[32] , could not again accept the appeal from the former Metropolitan Philaret Denisenko, having previously recognized the fullness of the exclusive competence of the Russian Orthodox Church in his case and expressing agreement with the definition of her Bishops’ Council without any proposals for its revision. However, any appeal from the part of the former Metropolitan of Kiev Filaret was obviously insignificant already because, being convicted, he did not stop performing divine services and ordinations, thereby losing, according to the canons [33], the right to review his case.

Undertaken by the Patriarchate of Constantinople unilaterally, without trial and consideration of the case on the merits, the “restoration to the dignity” of the former Metropolitan Philaret Denisenko is insignificant in the light of the sacred canons – in particular, Canon 15 of the Council of Antioch, Canon 105 (118) of the Council of Carthage and the canonical epistle of the Council of Carthage to Pope Celestine [34 ] .

The actions carried out in Constantinople in October 2018 cannot even be called a court of appeal in form: there was not only no study of the church court decisions adopted against Filaret Denisenko and Makariy Maletich, but also an elementary acquaintance with the biographies of these persons. Thus, Patriarch Bartholomew wrote about the appeals he received “from the once Kievan Mr. Philaret, and also … from the once Lvovsky Mr. Macarius” [35] , although at the time of the deviation into the schism, Nikolai Maletich was a married archpriest.

In an effort to expand the scope of its imaginary rights and create new precedents, on February 17, 2023, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople “cancelled” the duly approved decisions of the church court of the Vilna diocese on the deprivation of the priesthood of five clergymen for canonical crimes committed by them and, following the recommendation of Patriarch Bartholomew, “restored” them in their former church degrees. At the same time, despite the assurances of a “thorough study of the cases under consideration,” the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople did not have the materials of the court cases and was based solely on the personal statements of the mentioned clerics, which one-sidedly reflected their opinions and interests [36 ]. On June 27, 2023, in a similar way, without studying court materials, on the basis of a personal application, a cleric of the Moscow diocese was “restored” to the priesthood, although the process of depriving him of his dignity, initiated by the diocesan church court, was not completed (the verdict was not approved by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia at the time the issue was considered in Constantinople) [37 ] .

Expanding its illegal activities, on April 25–26, 2023, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople considered the appeals of two clerics of the Orthodox Church in America, who were subjected to reprimands by the ecclesiastical court of their Local Church for canonical crimes committed by them.

A most dangerous situation is being created when any cleric who violates the sacred canons and is deprived of his rank in his Local Church can file an appeal to Constantinople and receive “restoration in rank.” Moreover, the structure of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the canonical territory of another Local Church can be created from such clerics.

3. “Restoration in rank” of schismatics who did not have canonical ordination or who lost their rank as a result of deviation into schism

An undoubted violation of the sacred canons and a departure from centuries-old church practice is the “restoration in dignity” of Ukrainian schismatics by the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

By the decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople of October 11, 2018, the “hierarchs” and “clerics” of the two schismatic structures in Ukraine — the UOC-KP and the UAOC — were accepted into church communion “in their existing rank,” without considering the circumstances of their condemnation and whether they had ordinations.

This decision was made despite the fact that the schismatics did not repent and did not reunite with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, from which they fell away and against which they still continue to enmity. Thus, the most important condition for the acceptance of schismatics into the Church was violated: their repentance and reunification with the Local Church from which they broke away. Meanwhile, it was on this condition that the Holy Church healed schisms both in antiquity and in modern times, which is confirmed by many examples.

In particular, the consideration of the problem of the Melitian schism at the First Ecumenical Council took place with the direct participation of the Church of Alexandria, within which it arose and which suffered from it. Bishop Alexander of Alexandria, as it is said in the Council Acts, “was the main figure and participant in everything that happened at the Council.” It is characteristic that the bishops ordained in schism, returning to the Church, had to be confirmed by a more mystical ordination (μυστικωτέρᾳ χειροτονίᾳ βεβαιωθέντας), and they were placed in a subordinate position to the local canonical bishops: they were instructed “to do nothing at all without the consent of the bishops of the catholic and apostolic Church under the administration of [Bishop of Alexandria] Alexander.”

Similarly, the First Ecumenical Council passed a decision regarding the Novatian schism. According to his 8th canon, Novatian bishops were required to “confess in writing” that they would follow the determinations of the Catholic Church in everything. After that, after performing chirothesia over them (ὥστε χειροθετουμένους αὐτούς), they joined the Church and, just like the Melitians, were placed in a dependent position in relation to the local canonical bishops.

The 7th Ecumenical Council, which dealt with the issue of accepting iconoclastic bishops into the Church, demanded written repentance from them, which they did. At the same time, the case of each iconoclast bishop was considered by the fathers of the Council separately, which is narrated in the cathedral acts, and the bishops who were the most zealous iconoclasts, such as, for example, Metropolitan Gregory of Neocaesarea, were interrogated with special care and summoned to the meetings of the Council several times.

In recent church history, the same principle was applied at the Council of Primates and Representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches in Sofia in 1998: schismatic bishops were received into communion only after they repented and expressed their readiness to reunite with the canonical Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

The schismatics in Ukraine did not repent and did not reunite with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its Primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kyiv and All Ukraine. The decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to accept these people into church communion testifies to a departure from the centuries-old practice that has a deep foundation in Orthodox dogma, which, in turn, leads to distortions in understanding the nature and structure of the Church itself.

The severity of the anti-canonical act of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is aggravated by the fact that all schismatic “bishops” and ordinary “clerics” without exception were “restored” to their rank by the strong-willed decision of its Synod without examining the apostolic succession of their ordinations. Meanwhile, in many cases, the consecrations of Ukrainian schismatics cannot be recognized as valid even with extreme economy.

The hierarchy of the so-called “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” (UAOC) was founded by the former deacon of the Tula diocese Viktor Chekalin (deposed from the priesthood in 1983) and the former Bishop of Zhytomyr and Ovruch John Bodnarchuk (deposed from the dignity in 1989), who in 1990 “ordained” the first bishops of the UAOC. At the same time, Viktor Chekalin, who posed as “Bishop of Yasnaya Polyana Vincent”, never and nowhere (even in non-canonical communities) received not only episcopal, but even presbyter “consecration”.

The main part of the current “episcopate” of the UAOC, included in the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, has the succession of “consecrations” from these two persons. In particular, “Metropolitan of Galicia” Andrei Abramchuk, who served with Patriarch Bartholomew at St. George’s Cathedral on January 6, 2021, was “ordained” with the participation of V. Chekalin. From the “Chekalin” hierarchy received episcopal “consecration” and the former head of the UAOC Makary Maletich, who called himself “Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine.”

The so-called “Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate” was created as a result of the transfer to the UAOC on June 25, 1992 of the former Metropolitan of Kiev Filaret Denisenko, who two weeks earlier had been defrocked by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church on a number of charges, and even earlier was banned from serving in the priesthood by the Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church 27-28 May 1992.

Having joined the schismatic UAOC, the former Metropolitan Filaret served for a long time with the hierarchs of the “Chekalin” order, that is, those who never had hierarchical consecration. Despite the attempts of former Metropolitan Filaret to secretly “re-ordain” the hierarchs of the UAOC with the help of the former vicar bishop Jacob Panchuk and the former bishop of Lviv Andriy Horak, who followed him into schism, who were also deprived of their holy orders, some of the hierarchs of this structure refused to “re-ordination”. After the breakup of the Ukrainian schism in 1993 into two non-canonical structures, the “Chekalinsky” episcopate of the UAOC repeatedly switched to the UOC-KP and back, repeatedly participating in the performance of “hierarchal consecrations”. In this regard, the presence of even formal signs of apostolic succession in the “consecrations” of the UOC-KP cannot be recognized without a deep study.

The circumstances of the legalization of the Ukrainian schism confirm that no study of the consecrations of Ukrainian schismatics in the Phanar was carried out at all. This is confirmed by the above-mentioned “restoration” of the head of the UAOC, Makariy Maletich, as the “former Metropolitan of Lvov”, although no one has ever deprived him of this rank and could not deprive him for the reason that he joined the UAOC in the rank of archpriest (which he was subsequently deprived of), and received the episcopal “ordination” and the rank of “bishop of Lvov” already in schism. Moreover, as a result of the automatic acceptance “in the existing rank” of all persons who were at that moment part of the non-canonical UAOC and UOC-KP, Mikhail Lyarosh, who lived in Paris, was recognized in the rank of “Metropolitan of Korsun” by Constantinople [38 ], who became the “hierarch” of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”. Meanwhile, the succession of the episcopal “consecration” of this person goes back to the Greek schismatics-Old Calendarists.

The unlawful actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople to “restore to the rank” of persons who have never had such a rank have found an appropriate canonical assessment in a number of Local Orthodox Churches. According to His Holiness Patriarch Porfiry of Serbia, “The Church is the Church, and an illegal parasynagogue can become the Church only through repentance and canonical procedure, and not by anyone’s stroke of the pen ” [39] . “Those who have apostatized from the Church and at the same time are deprived of priestly ordination cannot represent a healthy church organism,” [40] declared the Council of Bishops of the Polish Orthodox Church.

As His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania rightly notes in a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople dated March 21, 2019, “the correction of the Melitian schism and the acceptance of the unlawfully ordained by Melitius through the economy included the following stages: 1) repentance; 2) the laying on of hands by a canonical bishop is the least that is required to confirm the apostolic succession; 3) prayer and 4) finally reconciliation. We are talking about a principle that applies in all cases, without exception, of the return of schismatics to the Orthodox Church…”. It is also inappropriate to compare the Ukrainian schism with the existing division between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Church in the Fatherland, which was overcome in 2007. The hierarchs of the Russian Church Abroad have never been defrocked and,

It is also appropriate to mention the argumentation of the statement of the secretariat of the Holy Synod of the Albanian Orthodox Church of November 15, 2022, which raises the question of the legality of the ordination of the current “primate” of the OCU by the excommunicated former Metropolitan Filaret (Denisenko): “When the ordainer is separated from the Church, excommunicated, anathematized and expelled, he becomes inactive, does not transmit any grace (just as an electrical device does not transmit energy when disconnected from the power source). Of course, what never happened cannot become accomplished, valid and legal by a simple administrative decision. It is here that lies the cause of concern about the legality of the ordination of Epiphanius by Philaret.

It must be recognized that the “hierarchs” of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, formed by the decision of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople from two previously existing non-canonical structures – the UAOC and the UOC-KP – do not have canonical ordination and therefore are not bishops. Any hierarch of the canonical Church who enters into concelebration with them, through this concelebration, in accordance with church canons (canon 9 of the Council of Carthage; canons 2, 4 of the Council of Antioch; canons 11, 12 of the Apostles), himself joins the schism and is subject to excommunication. Having neither the right nor the desire to enter into Eucharistic communion with such “hierarchs” after their recognition by Constantinople, The Russian Orthodox Church, at a meeting of the Holy Synod on October 15, 2018, was forced to state the impossibility of Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople until it renounces its anti-canonical decisions. Subsequent decisions of the Holy Synod[41] The impossibility of Eucharistic communion was also extended to those primates and hierarchs of the Local Orthodox Churches who recognize the legitimization of the Ukrainian schism and enter into concelebrations with persons who do not have canonical ordination.

Faithful to the spirit and letter of the sacred canons, the Russian Orthodox Church will continue to strictly adhere to those canonical decrees that prohibit concelebration with schismatics and self-sacrifices. Any deviation from these canons inevitably leads to the destruction of the inter-church peace and the deepening of the schism.

4. Claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for the right to receive clerics without vacation letters

Another innovation of the Primate of Constantinople was the statement about his alleged right to receive clerics of any Local Churches without leave letters from their bishops. With reference to the supposedly “accepted rights” of their throne to act in this way, five former clerics of the Vilna diocese [42] were taken “under the omophorion” of Patriarch Bartholomew [42] and two clerics of the Belarusian Exarchate in April, as well as a cleric of the Moscow diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church “restored to holy rank” in June 2023.

The transfer of clerics from one jurisdiction to another without the sanction of the Hierarchy in the form of a holiday letter is a canonical crime both on the part of the cleric and on the part of the bishop who received him. This is clearly stated in a number of canons [43] . In the light of these rules, the acts of Patriarch Bartholomew are acts of trampling on the canonical foundations of the church system.

To justify his actions, Patriarch Bartholomew refers not to any of the canons, but only to Theodore Balsamon’s interpretations of canons 17 and 18 of the Trullo Council and canon 10 of the VII Ecumenical Council (forbidding the reception of clergy without letters of acquittal). Commenting on the content of canon 10 of the VII Ecumenical Council, Balsamon wrote: “Various canons forbid clerics from leaving the dioceses in which they are clergy and moving to others. So, following them, this canon also determines that not a single cleric without his bishop, that is, without his representative and dismissal letter, or without the determination of the Patriarch of Constantinople, should be received anywhere, that is, he should not serve in any church … Note from the literal meaning of this canon, that one Patriarch of Constantinople is allowed to receive other clerics even without a letter of dismissal from the one who ordained them, if they present at least letters of ordination testifying to their ordination or acceptance into the clergy. Why, it seems to me, His Holiness the Patriarch and his chartophylax have the right to allow someone else’s clergy to serve in the reigning city even without a letter of severance from the one who ordained him”[44] .

Balsamon in this interpretation really makes an exception from the general order for the Patriarch of Constantinople. Such an exception in the interpretation of neither this nor other canons on the topic of the transition of clerics is not found in other authoritative canonists: Zonara, Aristinus, St. Nikodim (Milas). The only understandable basis for the allocation of the See of Constantinople and the assimilation of a special privilege for it could be the capital status of the “royal city”, which was therefore the center of attraction for clerics who arbitrarily left their bishops, a status that this city had long lost. However, the question arises as to what Balsamon thought about the territorial boundaries of the privilege he mentioned. The interpreter himself does not have an answer to this question.

Light on this problem is shed by the comments of John Zonara on canons 9 and 17 of the IV Ecumenical Council on the issue of appeals, making it clear that we are talking only about metropolitans subordinate to the Patriarch of Constantinople [45] . By analogy with this indication of Zonara, it can be argued that the right of the Patriarch of Constantinople to receive clerics without a holiday letter, to which Balsamon refers, applied in his time exclusively to the clergy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Moreover, in his interpretation of Canon 17 of the Council of Trullo, Balsamon claims that the same privilege belongs to the Bishop of Carthage: “Exclude from here the Bishop of Constantinople and the Bishop of Carthage; for they alone can, as has often been said, receive foreign clerics without the consent of the one who ordained them” [46]. Indeed, canon 55 (66) of the Council of Carthage granted the Bishop of Carthage, as the then primate of Africa, the privilege of consecrating clerics from other African dioceses as bishop of a vacant diocese, without requiring the obligatory consent of the bishop to whom the cleric was subordinate. However, it is clear that this privilege did not extend beyond the borders of Africa. So, it seems clear enough: Balsamon talked about the fact that the Bishop of Constantinople, by analogy with the Bishop of Carthage, also has expanded jurisdictional rights compared to other bishops, but only within the Church of Constantinople.

At the same time, it should be remembered that the canons themselves have legislative power in the Church, and not their interpretations, even if they are authoritative. And the direct meaning of the canons mentioned by Patriarch Bartholomew speaks precisely of the ban on accepting foreign clergy without leave letters from their own bishops. Therefore, the Russian Orthodox Church does not and will not recognize such an interpretation of the canonical tradition that ascribes universal super-jurisdictional rights to the Patriarch of Constantinople, and will firmly adhere to the principle of jurisdictional equality of autocephalous Churches and their Primates, regardless of their places in the sacred diptychs. And the acts committed by the Patriarch of Constantinople to accept clerics of another Local Church into his jurisdiction without vacation letters are considered and will be considered by us as a crime punishable in accordance with the sacred canons,

5. Claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for the exclusive right to grant autocephaly

The institution of autocephaly took shape in the Orthodox Church gradually and in its present form is the fruit of centuries of development.

Neither Jerusalem, nor Rome, nor Alexandria, nor Antioch, nor the See of Constantinople was granted autocephaly by anyone: they all became autocephalous due to the circumstances of the historical development of the Church in the first centuries of Christianity.

In the future, autocephaly arose and was abolished for various reasons, and there was no single generally accepted procedure for granting or abolishing autocephaly. Autocephaly could be granted by the Ecumenical Council. Thus, for example, the Cypriot Orthodox Church received autocephaly by the decision of the III Ecumenical Council in 431 [47] .

Autocephaly could also be granted by the Mother Church, from whose jurisdiction the new independent Local Orthodox Church emerged. For example, the autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church was granted three times – in 1219, in 1557 and 1879 – by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which also granted autocephaly to a number of other Local Orthodox Churches that came out of its jurisdiction.

The Russian Orthodox Church has more than a thousand years of history dating back to 988, when Kievan Rus was baptized by the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir in the waters of the Dnieper. For several centuries, the unified metropolis of Rus’ – with its center first in Kyiv, then in Vladimir and, finally, in Moscow – was part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. However, in 1448 the Russian Church gained de facto independence after Saint Jonah was elected to the Moscow Metropolitan Throne without the consent of Constantinople. This decision was forced for the Russian Church: the Patriarch of Constantinople at that time was in union with Rome, and the Russian Church categorically rejected the union.

The autocephaly of the Russian Church was not immediately recognized by Constantinople and other Eastern Patriarchs. However, in 1589, with the participation of Patriarch Jeremiah II of Constantinople, a Patriarchate was established in Moscow, and Saint Job was raised to the rank of Patriarch. In connection with this act, Patriarch Jeremiah and the persons accompanying him, as well as the bishops and archimandrites of the Russian Church, signed the “Laid Letter”. The patriarchal dignity of the Moscow See was approved at the Councils of the Eastern Patriarchs in Constantinople in 1590 and 1593 [48] .

Decisions to grant autocephaly to parts of the Patriarchate of Constantinople have been repeatedly adopted by the Holy Synod or Councils of this Church. Thus, the Patriarchate of Constantinople granted autocephalous status to the Greek (1850), Serbian (1879), Romanian (1885) and Albanian (1937) Churches that were part of it.

In history, apart from Councils, autocephaly was granted not only by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but also by other Churches. Thus, in the 5th century, the autocephaly of the Georgian Orthodox Church was granted by the Patriarchate of Antioch, and the Moscow Patriarchate in the 20th century granted autocephaly to the Polish Orthodox Church (1948), the Czechoslovak Orthodox Church (1951) and the Orthodox Church in America (1970). In 2022, the Macedonian Orthodox Church (Archdiocese of Ohrid) received autocephaly from the Serbian Orthodox Church.

His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, in a letter dated June 24, 1970, to the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Pimen of Krutitsy and Kolomna, wrote: its provision belongs to the competence of the entire Church, and in no way can be considered the right of “any autocephalous Church”; the final judgment on the issue of autocephaly belongs to the competence of a more general Council representing all the Local Orthodox Churches, and, in particular, the Ecumenical Council” [49] .

The understanding of the procedure for granting autocephaly as a conciliar affair of the “whole Church” was the basis for the draft document on autocephaly and the methods for granting it, which was considered at a meeting of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commission in 1993 and at the Fourth Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference in 2009.

The procedure for granting autocephaly provided for by this draft and previously agreed upon presupposes: a) the consent of the Local Council of the kyriarchal Mother Church to a part of it receiving autocephaly; b) the revelation by the Ecumenical Patriarch of the consensus of all the Local Orthodox Churches, expressed by the unanimity of their Councils; c) on the basis of the consent of the Mother Church and pan-Orthodox consensus, the official proclamation of autocephaly through the issuance of the Tomos, which “is signed by the Ecumenical Patriarch and witnessed by the signatures in it of the Most Beatitude Primates of the Most Holy Autocephalous Churches, invited for this by the Ecumenical Patriarch.” Regarding the last point, only the procedure for signing the Tomos was not fully agreed upon, which did not detract from the significance of the agreements reached on the remaining points.

At the Meetings of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches in 2014 and 2016, the delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate, along with representatives of some other fraternal Churches, insisted on including the issue of autocephaly on the agenda of the Council. However, the Patriarchate of Constantinople turned to the Local Orthodox Churches with a request not to bring the topic of autocephaly to the Council, which was scheduled for June 2016. The Russian Church agreed to exclude this topic from the agenda of the Council only after Patriarch Bartholomew on January 24, 2016 during the Assembly of Primates assured that the Church of Constantinople has no intentions to carry out any actions related to Church life in Ukraine, neither at the Holy and Great Council, nor after the Council.

Now it has become obvious that the Patriarch of Constantinople was already preparing an invasion of Ukraine, and therefore avoided discussing the topic of autocephaly, insisting on its exclusion from the agenda of the council, allegedly due to lack of time for its detailed study. In fact, the Primate of Constantinople wanted to abandon all the preliminary agreements previously reached at the pan-Orthodox level in the name of the false theory that the right to grant autocephaly belongs only and exclusively to the Church of Constantinople. The result of the development of these views was the granting in 2019 of the Tomos of autocephaly to the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”.

The faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church do not and will not recognize those autocephalies that the Church of Constantinople creates or will create in the future on its own without the consent of other Local Orthodox Churches, much less without the initiative and consent of the chiriarchal Church. The topic of autocephaly needs further discussion on the basis of those preliminary agreements that were reached during the pre-conciliar process, in particular, at the commissions and meetings of 1993 and 2009.

6. Violation of the principle of equality of autocephalous Churches by the Patriarchate of Constantinople

An autocephalous Local Church, which has complete independence in governance, does not depend on any other Local Church in resolving internal issues. The Ecumenical Orthodox Church is a family of autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches. An autocephalous Church may include autonomous Churches and other church formations with varying degrees of self-government.

All Local Orthodox Churches, regardless of when and in what way they received autocephaly, are equal among themselves. During the concelebration, the Primates and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches sit in the order of the diptych. However, the lower place of the Primate in the diptych does not put this or that Church in a subordinate position in relation to the Church, which occupies a higher place in it.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople today is trying to impose on the Local Orthodox Churches a different idea of ​​autocephaly. It is argued that any Church becomes autocephalous solely by virtue of the Tomos received from the Patriarchate of Constantinople [50] , although history knows other ways of acquiring autocephaly by one or another Local Church. It is argued that it is Constantinople that is the highest court of appeal for all Local Churches (see section 2). It is asserted that only the Patriarch of Constantinople has the right to make and distribute holy ointment. It is argued that only in Constantinople can the canonization of saints be carried out.

This new ecclesiological concept was fully implemented by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 2019 with the establishment of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), a non-canonical entity created from two groups of schismatics. The fundamental legal documents — “The Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos on Granting Autocephalous Church Status to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine” (hereinafter: Tomos) and the “Charter of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (hereinafter: the Charter) — contain a certain flawed model of an allegedly autocephalous Church, which, however, is in direct and very strong dependence on the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

So, if in the Tomos of autocephaly granted earlier to a number of Local Orthodox Churches, it was emphasized that the Head of all Churches is the Lord Jesus Christ [ 51] , then in the Tomos of the OCU it is said that “the autocephalous Church of Ukraine recognizes the Holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical Throne as the head, like other patriarchs and primates” [52] . According to the Charter (item 1), the newly formed “autocephalous Church”, in accordance with the new concept of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, “is one with the Mother of the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople and through herwith all other Orthodox Autocephalous Churches”. Tomos determines that this “autocephalous Church” considers its “primary task” to be the preservation of not only the Orthodox faith, but also “canonical unity and communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

In accordance with the same new ecclesiological concept, Tomos explicitly forbids the autocephalous Church “to appoint bishops or establish parishes abroad”, stipulating that “those that already exist, from now on, according to the order, will be subordinate to the Ecumenical Throne, which has canonical powers over the diaspora.” This provision is directly confirmed by the Charter: “Orthodox Christians of Ukrainian origin in the Orthodox diaspora are now served by the diocesan bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate” (Charter I, 4). In addition, Tomos claims that “the jurisdiction of this Church is limited to the territory of the Ukrainian state”, while establishing an exarchate of the Church of Constantinople and its stauropegia on the same territory, emphasizing that “the rights of the Ecumenical Throne to the exarchate in Ukraine and the sacred stauropegia remain undiminished.” Besides, The Charter warns against any interference in the affairs of the Constantinopolitan stauropegia: “The decision to draw up and approve the internal rules of the Patriarchal stauropegia belongs exclusively to the Ecumenical Patriarch, and only to him.” Diocesan bishops cannot interfere in the formation of the governing bodies of “patriarchal stavropegies who are subordinate to the Ecumenical Patriarch”.

Both documents, the Tomos and the Charter, specifically stipulate the judicial powers of the Patriarch of Constantinople: “The right of all bishops and other clerics to file appeals with the Ecumenical Patriarch, who has canonical responsibility to make final judicial decisions on the cases of bishops and other clerics of the Local Churches, is also retained” (Tomos); “a clergyman of any rank, who has been finally condemned by his ecclesiastical authorities to any punishment, may use the right of appeal (ἔκκλητον) to the Ecumenical Patriarch” (Ustav. XI).

Fixing for the future these obviously unequal relations between the two “autocephalous” Churches, of which only one actually turns out to be autocephalous, the Patriarchate of Constantinople specifically stipulates that the Charter “in everything must necessarily comply with the provisions of the present Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos”, and the Charter contains the provision that “the right to interpret the provisions of the Charter according to the Tomos has exclusively the Ecumenical Patriarch.”

Inequality and even direct subordination are spelled out in some other provisions of the Tomos and the Charter. For example, “in order to resolve significant issues of an ecclesiastical, dogmatic and canonical nature,” the primate of the OCU “should turn to our Most Holy Patriarchal and Ecumenical Throne, asking him for an authoritative opinion and undoubted support” (Tomos), and in this case, the Patriarch of Constantinople “announces the necessary decision to the Holy Bishops’ Council of the Church of Ukraine” (Ustav. IV, 3). The Holy Chrism of the OCU should be received from the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Thus, the Tomos and the Charter, following the main guidelines of the new ecclesiological concept of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, create a legal precedent for securing inequality between the autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches and their subordination to the administrative authority of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Such inequality is rightly regarded by many in the Orthodox Church as an approximation to the papal model of ecclesiastical authority [53] , which has never existed in Orthodoxy.

The Russian Orthodox Church, faithful to the centuries-old canonical tradition, has upheld and will continue to uphold the equality of the Local Orthodox Churches and the independence of each Local Church from other Local Churches in internal administration. “The desecration of the sacred institution of autocephaly” [54] , expressed in the granting of autocephaly to a group of Ukrainian schismatics, was one of the sad consequences of the distortion of Holy Tradition, on which the life of the Orthodox Church as a family of Local Churches, independent of one another in matters of internal government, was built for centuries.

7. Unilateral revision by the Patriarchate of Constantinople of acts of legal significance

While laying claim to its alleged special powers in the Orthodox world, the Patriarchate of Constantinople does not hesitate to unilaterally revise historical acts that have legal significance in relation to the Local Orthodox Churches and their canonical boundaries. Such an approach is in conflict with the canonical Tradition of the Church, violating, in particular, Canon 129 (133) of Carthage [55] and Canon 17 of the IV Ecumenical Council [56] . These rules do not allow for the possibility of revising the established church boundaries, which were previously uncontested for a long time.

An example of the actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople that violate these church canons is the “renewal” of the Tomos of Patriarch Meletios IV of Constantinople dated July 7, 1923 [ 57] , who, without the knowledge and consent of Patriarch Tikhon of All Russia, accepted the autonomous Estonian Orthodox Church, which was part of the Moscow Patriarchate, into the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. After the restoration of the legal jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate in Estonia in 1944, the Tomos of 1923 was forgotten. On April 3, 1978, by the act of Patriarch Demetrius of Constantinople and the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Tomos was declared “invalid”, and the activities of Constantinople in Estonia were declared “completed” [58]. However, on February 20, 1996, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, chaired by Patriarch Bartholomew, gave a new interpretation to this decision, stating that in 1978 “Mother Church … declared the Tomos of 1923 invalid, that is, unable to operate at that time on the territory of Estonia, which was then part of the Soviet Union, but did not cancel, invalidate or annul it.” Now Patriarch Bartholomew and his Synod are announcing “the resumption of the Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos of 1923” [59] .

The anti-canonical expansion of the Patriarchate of Constantinople into the territory of Estonia led in 1996 to a temporary suspension of Eucharistic communion between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Communication was resumed by the joint decisions of the Holy Synods of the two Churches of May 16, 1996, on the terms of the Zurich agreements, which were never fully implemented by the Constantinople side.

In 2018, the Patriarchate of Constantinople unilaterally canceled the Act of 1686, signed by His Holiness Patriarch Dionysios IV of Constantinople and the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople, confirming the stay of the Kyiv Metropolis within the Moscow Patriarchate. As noted in the statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of October 15, 2018, the Act of 1686 cannot be subject to revision, otherwise “it would be possible to annul any document that defines the canonical territory and status of the Local Church, regardless of its antiquity, authority and general church recognition.”

The Synodal Charter of 1686 and other related documents do not say anything about the temporary nature of the transfer of the Kyiv Metropolis to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, nor do they establish the possibility of canceling this act.

The groundlessness of the cancellation of the Act of 1686 is emphasized by the fact that at the pan-Orthodox level for more than three centuries no one had any doubts that the Orthodox of Ukraine belonged to the flock of the Russian Church, and not to the Church of Constantinople [60 ] . In addition, the Patriarchate of Constantinople hushed up the fact that the Metropolis of Kiev of 1686, the return of which is now announced by Constantinople, covered only a smaller part of the territory of the modern Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which was later formed as part of the autocephalous Russian Church.

8 Canon III of the Ecumenical Council [61] forbids bishops to extend their power to other people’s ecclesiastical destinies. Having established its “stauropegia” in Kyiv without agreement with the canonical hierarchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Patriarchate of Constantinople invaded the boundaries belonging to another Church, which falls under the condemnation of the said rule.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople turned the threat of annulment of its previous decisions into a technique used to put pressure on the Local Orthodox Churches. For example, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, in a letter dated February 4, 2012, to the former Primate of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Metropolitan Christopher, threatened to abolish the autocephaly of this Church [62] .

It must be emphasized that the attempts of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to impose on the Orthodox world the right allegedly belonging to the Throne of Constantinople to cancel, at its unilateral discretion, conciliar or synodal decisions of any prescription do not correspond to the canonical structure of the Church and plunge inter-church relations into a state of chaotic lawlessness.

8. Claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for the exclusive right of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the Diaspora

The claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to the exclusive right of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in all countries of the Orthodox diaspora took shape in the 1920s. Previously, the Church of Constantinople held different views on this issue. In particular, it recognized: 1) the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church over America; 2) nourishment of the Orthodox diaspora in Australia and New Zealand by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem; 3) the canonical administration of the St. Petersburg Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox diaspora in Western Europe; 4) the right of the Church of Greece to manage the Greek parishes in the Diaspora, secured by the Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos of March 18, 1908, signed by Patriarch Joachim III of Constantinople and members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople.

Patriarch Meletios IV (Metaxakis), who occupied the see of Constantinople in 1921-1923, was the author of the new theory about the indispensable and obligatory subordination of the entire Orthodox diaspora to the Throne of Constantinople. The theory was based on the concept of transforming the Patriarchate of Constantinople into a global Church organized on the principle of extraterritorial jurisdiction, a kind of “Orthodox Vatican” [63] . By a synodal decision of March 1, 1922, the Tomos of 1908 was terminated, and if that document concerned exclusively Greek parishes in the Diaspora, then the new decision declared the right of Constantinople to “direct supervision and management of all, without exception.”Orthodox parishes located outside the boundaries of the Local Orthodox Churches in Europe, America and other places” [64] .

In accordance with the new theory, structures of the Patriarchate of Constantinople were created in 1922 in Western Europe, North and South America, and in 1924 in Australia and Oceania, as well as in Central Europe. The creation of the structures of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in other regions of the diaspora continued in subsequent years. At the same time, Constantinople, where possible, prevented the creation or re-establishment of the jurisdictions of other Local Churches in the Diaspora [65] .

The claims of Constantinople to the entire diaspora are based mainly on the understanding of canon 28 of the IV Ecumenical Council, which is not shared by the entirety of the Orthodox Church, which reads: “Therefore, only the metropolitans of the regions of Pontus, Asia and Thrace, and also the bishops of the foreigners of the above regions, are delivered from the aforementioned Holy Throne of the Holy Church of Constantinople.” This rule refers to specific regions of the Roman Empire, where the spread of Christianity was associated with the missionary efforts of the Church of Constantinople.

In the modern Church of Constantinople, however, claims — with reference to the aforementioned rule — are made against the entire Orthodox diaspora in general, including North and South America, Western Europe, Asia, Australia, and Oceania. Allegedly, only the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople can exist in these regions, and other Local Churches are present there illegally. Moreover, if, for example, a bishop or cleric of a Local Church serving in the diaspora wishes to transfer to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, then he allegedly does not need a leave letter, since in fact he was already a bishop or cleric of the Patriarchate of Constantinople even before the transfer, only he did not realize it [66 ] .

The claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople also cover such countries where there are no and never existed structures of this Patriarchate and where missionaries from the Church of Constantinople have never preached, for example, Japan and China.

The formation of Orthodoxy in Japan, as is known, is connected exclusively with the feat of Saint Equal-to-the-Apostles Nicholas of Japan and other outstanding missionaries of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1970, the Japanese Orthodox Church received autonomy from the Moscow Patriarchate, but Constantinople not only did not recognize this deed, but also declared its rights to this territory, in connection with which, in 1971, the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, Metropolitan Pimen (later Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia), in a letter to Patriarch Athenagoras, noted “the fundamental contradiction of the corresponding act of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with Orthodox canon law and practice of the Local Orthodox Churches” [67 ]. Nevertheless, in 2004 the Patriarchate of Constantinople appropriated the title of “Exarch of Japan” to its Metropolitan of Korea, despite the complete absence of its own flock in that country.

The decision of the Synod of the Church of Constantinople to include the People’s Republic of China within the borders of the Hong Kong Metropolis (both in 1996, when it was established, and in 2008, when the Singapore Metropolis was separated from it), is also connected with the theory of the exclusive right of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to take care of the Orthodox diaspora, despite the autonomous Orthodox Church existing in China under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on April 15, 2008 stated: “The centuries-old spiritual ties of the Russian Orthodox Church with China, where dozens of Orthodox churches were built by her labors, sacred and liturgical books were translated into Chinese, witnesses of our Lord Jesus Christ, faithful even unto death, were brought up in Orthodox piety, now oblige the Holy Synod to defend the rights of the God-saved flock of the Chinese Orthodox Church, weakened by severe trials, and to declare injustice and canonical injustice. the dimensionality of the decision of the Throne of Constantinople, causing damage to the world and the well-being of the holy Churches of God ” [ 68 ] .

It is categorically impossible to agree with the claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for the exclusive right of pastoral care for the Orthodox believers of the Diaspora. No Local Orthodox Church has special, exclusive and comprehensive rights to jurisdiction over the entire Orthodox diaspora. On the contrary, each Local Church bears direct pastoral responsibility for its children, who exist in the dispersion, if they remain outside the canonical boundaries of other Local Churches. According to canon 99 (112) of the Council of Carthage, “bishops … who converted to the catholic faith the people they had in control, must retain power over it.”

The new teaching of Constantinople about its exclusive canonical rights in the Diaspora became a source of conflict within the Church of Christ. Therefore, from the very beginning, as part of the preparations for the Pan-Orthodox Council, the issue of the Diaspora was also included among the topics. At the IV Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference in 2009, it was decided to establish in each of the regions of the countries of the Diaspora Bishops’ Assemblies “of all the canonically recognized bishops of the given region, who will continue to submit to the canonical jurisdictions to which they belong” [69 ] . The meetings should be chaired by the first of the bishops subordinate to the Church of Constantinople, and in the absence of the latter, by the eldest of the bishops of the Local Churches, according to the order of the diptychs.

The Russian Orthodox Church considered Episcopal assemblies in the diaspora as advisory bodies, called upon to coordinate the actions of hierarchs from various Local Orthodox Churches without any derogation from their independence [70] . However, for Constantinople, the creation of Episcopal Assemblies is a step towards the gradual abolition of the presence of Local Churches in the Diaspora. In a number of countries, representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople have taken it upon themselves to represent all the Local Churches before the state, to make public statements on their behalf, often without their consent.

9. Conclusion

The ideas of the new ecclesiological concept of the Patriarchate of Constantinople come into obvious conflict with Orthodox Tradition and canonical provisions, as a result of which they force the Patriarchate of Constantinople to question this Tradition itself and demand its revision. Patriarch Bartholomew declared: “We Orthodox must subject ourselves to self-criticism and revise our ecclesiology if we do not want to become a federation of Protestant-type Churches” [71] . In order to avoid this clearly far-fetched threat, it is necessary, in his words, to urgently recognize “that in indivisible Ecumenical Orthodoxy there is one “First”, not only in honor, but also a “First” with special duties and canonical powers assigned by the Ecumenical Councils” [72 ] .

We condemn and do not accept the theoretical provisions of the new ecclesiological concept of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as well as the practical illegal and lawless actions taken in order to introduce this concept into modern church life. These provisions and actions do not correspond to the Orthodox Tradition, destroy the canonical foundations of the Universal Church and cause grave harm to the unity of the Local Orthodox Churches.

Lifting up a prayer to preserve in unity and orthodoxy the Orthodox Church, abiding all over the world , we, the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, call on the Most Holy and Beatitude Primates of the Holy Churches of God, fellow Orthodox hierarchs, God-loving presbyters and deacons, honest monastics and pious laity, who together constitute the Fullness of the Ecumenical Church of Christ, to the same fervent prayer to the Lord Jesus, the only true Head of His Church, may the one who is separated by the will of the Heavenly Father gather with the grace of the Most Holy Spirit, may he drive out all heresies and schisms from the fence of Holy Orthodoxy, may he abolish enmity and shame all unrighteousness, so that with one mouth and one heartglorified in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church the most holy Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] See the publication “Το Οικουμενικό Πατριαρχείο στην Λιθουανία” on the Fos Fanariou website ( io-stin-lithuania / )

[2] Cyprian of Carthage, Hieromartyr . A book about the unity of the Church.

[3] Ignatius of Antioch, Hieromartyr . Epistle to the Smirnians VIII, 2.

[4] Irenaeus of Lyon, Hieromartyr . Against Heresies II, XXIV, 1.

[5] Position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the issue of primacy in the Ecumenical Church, p. 2 (3).

[6] Archimandrite Panteleimon (Manoussakis), professor at the College of the Holy Cross (USA): Manoussakis, John Panteleimon. Primacy and Ecclesiology: The State of the Question // Orthodox Constructions of the West. Ed. by G. E. Demacopoulos and A. Papanikolaou. New York: Fordham University Press, 2013, pp. 229, 232.

[7] Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis), Met. Primus sine paribus. Answer to the position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the issue of primacy in the Ecumenical Church.

[8] See Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis), Met. Primus sine paribus : “The Church has always and systematically understood the person of the Father as preeminent (“monarchy of the Father”) in the communion of the persons of the Holy Trinity. If we were to follow the logic of the text of the Russian Synod, we would also have to argue that God the Father is not the beginningless cause of divinity and fatherhood… but becomes the recipient of his primacy. Where? From other persons of the Holy Trinity?

[9] Sermon by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America in the Episcopal Church of St. Bartholomew. New York, June 10, 2023

[10] “It is inconceivable that the Local Church, especially the Church that received what it is thanks to the initiatives and actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, interrupted communion with it, since the canonicity of its being stems from it” (Amphilochius, Metropolitan of Adrianople. Denying the Ecumenical Patriarchate, you deny the source of your existence – the website ) .

[11] “The Ecumenical Patriarchate… has canonical jurisdiction and all apostolic privileges, bearing responsibility for maintaining the unity and communion of local Churches” (Introductory speech by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at a meeting of hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on September 1, 2018).

[12] Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis), Met. Primus sine paribus. Answer to the position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the issue of primacy in the Ecumenical Church.

[13] Speech by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at the seminar “Reaction of Churches and Religious Communities to War and Conflict”. Vilnius, March 22, 2023

[14] Opening speech by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at a meeting of hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on September 1, 2018.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Word of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at Vespers at St. Andrew’s Church in Kiev on August 21, 2021.

[17] Letter from Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Archbishop Anastassy of Albania dated February 20, 2019.

[18] Speech by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at the ceremony of conferring the title of honorary doctor of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy on August 22, 2021.

[19] Cited. by: Jannis Spiteris . La Critica Bizantina del Primato Romano nel secolo XII. Roma, 1979 (Or. Chr. Ap. 208). P. 325-326.

[20] Cited. by: Ἴ . Καρμίρη Τὰ δογματικὰ καὶ συμβολικὰ μνημεῖα… Graz, 1968. Τ. ΙΙ. Σ. 560 (640).

[21] Op. by: Ἴ Καρμίρη Τὰ δογματικὰ καὶ συμβολικὰ μνημεῖα… Σ. 927-930(1007-1010).

[22] Op. by: Ἴ Καρμίρη Τὰ δογματικὰ καὶ συμβολικὰ μνημεῖα… Σ. 939-940 (1025-1026).

[23] “A person cannot be the head of the Church of Christ… The doctrine of the inevitable necessity of having the highest visible head of the entire Church of Christ appeared as a result of a great decline in faith in the invisible head of the Church, that is, in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in His presence and action in the Church, and also in view of the decline in love for Him” (Gorazd of Prague, Hieromartyr. 1168 questions and answers about the Orthodox faith. 343, 388 .

[24] Journal of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church No. 60 of September 23-24, 2021.

[25] Quote from the decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople of October 11, 2018 on the acceptance into communion of Filaret Denisenko and Makariy Maletich.

[26] “ If a cleric with a cleric has a court case, let him not leave his bishop, and let him not resort to secular courts. But first, let him do his work with his bishop, or, at the pleasure of the same bishop, let those elected by both parties draw up a court. And whoever acts contrary to this: let him be punished according to the rules. But if a cleric has a court case with his own bishop or with another bishop: let him be judged in the regional council. If, however, the bishop or cleric has displeasure against the metropolitan of the region: let him turn either to the exarch of the great region, or to the throne of the reigning Constantinople, and let him be judged before him ”(From canon 9 of the IV Ecumenical Council ) .

[27] From the interpretation of canon 17 of the IV Ecumenical Council. See: Bishop Nikodim (Milash). Rules of the Orthodox Church with interpretations. M., 1996. T. 1. S. 374.

[28] Pidalion. Interpretation of Canon 9 of the IV Ecumenical Council.

[29] υς απανταχού ορθοδόξους. Εν Κωνσταντινουπόλει, 1848. (§ 14)

[30] At the same time, the penitents of the schism publicly took off their panagias – signs of episcopal dignity.

[31] Despite the importance of the 1998 Sobor in Sofia, it should be noted that the position of Patriarch Bartholomew presiding over it was not distinguished by canonical purity. The presiding officer defended the acceptance of “extreme economy” into the communion of “hierarchs” who received consecration in schism from persons deprived of their dignity and excommunicated from the Church, while the majority of the participants in the Council advocated their acceptance through canonical ordination. This position is reflected in the special opinion of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church regarding the decisions of the Council of Primates and Hierarchs of the Local Orthodox Churches in Sofia.

[32] See canon 5 of the Council of Sardica.

[33] Canon 14 of the Council of Sardica: “But before all the circumstances have been rightly examined, the one who has been excommunicated until the consideration of the case must not appropriate communion for himself”; 29 (38) canon of the Council of Carthage: “It is pleasing to the whole council that a bishop who is excommunicated for his negligence, whether a bishop, or anyone from the clergy, during his excommunication, before hearing his justification, who dares to start communion, is recognized to have pronounced a sentence of condemnation on himself” and others.

[34] Canon 15 of the Council of Antioch: “If any bishop … be judged by all the bishops of that region, and all of them will pronounce a single sentence according to him, let such other bishops by no means be judged, but let the consensual decision of the bishops of the region remain firm”; 105 (118) canon of the Carthaginian Council: “Whoever, having been excommunicated from the communion of the church … sneaks into overseas countries in order to be accepted into communion, he will be expelled from the clergy. The canonical message of the Council of Carthage to Pope Celestine: “Those who are excommunicated in their diocese, let them not be accepted into communion by your shrine … Whatever matters arise, they must end in their places.”

[35] Letter from Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia No. 1119 dated December 24, 2018.

[36] Communiqué of the General Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople dated February 17, 2023 on the appeal of the clergy from Lithuania.

[37] Communiqué on the work of the Holy and Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople of June 28, 2023.

[38] Died 2022.

[39] Serbian Patriarch Porfiry. Appeal in connection with state terror against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. March 28, 2023

[40] Message from the Chancellery of the Holy Council of Bishops of the Polish Orthodox Church of April 2, 2019.

[41] Journals of the meetings of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church No. 125 of October 17, 2019; No. 151 of December 26, 2019; No. 77 of November 20, 2020

[42] Previously, these former clerics, deprived of their rank by an ecclesiastical court, were “restored” to their rank by the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople (see above, section 2).

[43] See Apostolic Canons 12, 15, 32, 33; 15, 16 canons of the First Ecumenical Council; 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 20, 23 canons of the IV Ecumenical Council; 17, 18 canons of Trullo Council; 10 canon of the VII Ecumenical Council; 3, 6 rules of the Council of Antioch; 20, 23 (32), 105 (118), 106 (119-120) canons of the Council of Carthage.

[44] Rules of the Holy Ecumenical Councils with Interpretations. M .: “Siberian Bell Bell”, 2011. S. 665–666.

[45] See above, section 2.

[46] Rules of the Holy Ecumenical Councils with Interpretations. S. 341.

[47] “ Let those who rule in the holy Cypriot churches have freedom, without claiming against them, and without constraining them, according to the rules of the Holy Fathers, and according to the ancient custom, to themselves appoint the most reverent bishops” (canon 8 of the III Ecumenical Council).

[48] ​​The Council of Constantinople in 1593 determined the Primate of the Russian Church “to be and be called a brother of the Orthodox Patriarchs, according to the strength of this name, co-throne and equal in rank and dignity, to inscribe and sign according to the custom of the Orthodox Patriarchs: “Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Northern Countries” ”(Act of the Constantinople Council of 1593).

[49] Letter from Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople to the Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Pimen of Krutitsy and Kolomna, No. 583 of June 24, 1970.

[50] Interview of the Metropolitan of Prussia Elpidophoros ( Lambriniadisa ) to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency , July 2018 .

[51] Cf. Tomos on the autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church of 1879: “From now on it will be canonically independent, independent and self-governing, whose head, like all Orthodox Churches, is the God-man, Lord and our Savior Jesus Christ.”

[52]This provision of the Tomos was criticized in a statement by the secretariat of the Holy Synod of the Albanian Orthodox Church dated November 15, 2022. The document of the Albanian Church states that the Tomos granted to it does not contain the thesis of recognition as the head of the Ecumenical Throne, and the Albanian Church itself is called a “sister”, while the OCU is called a “daughter” in its Tomos. The hierarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church writes on this occasion: “I mean not some symbolic headship of the Patriarch of Constantinople or headship in the sense of the first among equals.Daniel, Metropolitan of Vidin. For the unity of the Church. M.: Knowledge, 2021. S. 25, 38).

[53]“Unfortunately, in the case of the Ukrainian autocephaly, the Ecumenical Patriarch renounces his traditionally recognized coordinating role, which involves the expression and implementation of conciliar decisions of the Local Orthodox Churches, and therefore refuses to convene a Pan-Orthodox Council or a Council of Primates. On the contrary, he, like the pope: 1) acts cross-border on the territory of a foreign jurisdiction, which is subject to the Russian Church, as he himself until recently admitted; 2) makes sovereign and independent decisions contrary to the opinion not only of the Church of Ukraine itself, but also of the Local Orthodox Churches; 3) asserts that the rest of the Orthodox bishops of the whole world are obliged to accept his any decisions; 4) considers that his decision does not need to be approved by other Churches and cannot be contested” (from an Open Letter from Priests, monastics and laity of the Greek Church, published in September 2019). “There is a desire of the Patriarchate of Constantinople … to appropriate powers that have never been given to any of the bishops of the Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, this is reminiscent of the sad attempts of the Bishop of Rome to usurp power in the Church. Everyone knows what it led to” (Daniel, Metropolitan of Vidin. For the unity of the Church. S. 27).

[54] The expression of Metropolitan Nikifor of Kykkos and Tilliria from his report at a conference in Moscow on September 16, 2021. See: World Orthodoxy: Primacy and Conciliarity in the Light of Orthodox Faith. M: Knowledge, 2023. S. 268.

[55] “If someone … converted a place to catholic unity and had it in his charge for three years, and no one demanded it from him, then after that, let it not be exacted from him, if, moreover, in this three years there was a bishop who was supposed to exact, and was silent.”

[56] “The parishes in every diocese … must invariably remain under the authority of the bishops in charge of them – and especially if for thirty years they have unquestionably had them in their jurisdiction and administration.”

[57] Tomos of Patriarch Meletius IV of Constantinople // Orthodoxy in Estonia. Research and papers. M.: Orthodox Encyclopedia, 2010. T. 2. S. 42-45.

[58] Act of Patriarch Demetrius of Constantinople and the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople of April 3, 1978 on the termination of the Tomos of Patriarch Meletios IV of Constantinople of 1923 // Orthodoxy in Estonia. pp. 207-208; Message from Patriarch Demetrius of Constantinople to Metropolitan Paul of Sweden and All Scandinavia dated May 3, 1978 // Orthodoxy in Estonia. pp. 208-209.

[59] The Patriarchal and Synodal act of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the renewal of the Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos of 1923 regarding the Orthodox Metropolis of Estonia // Orthodoxy in Estonia. pp. 314-317.  

[60] See: Nicephorus, Metropolitan of Kykkos and Tilliria . Modern Ukrainian question and its resolution according to the divine and sacred canons. M.: Poznanie, 2021. P. 32. There is also a lot of evidence of such recognition on the part of the Church of Constantinople (pp. 32–42).

[61] “Let it be observed in other areas and everywhere in dioceses, so that none of the most God-loving bishops extends his power to a foreign diocese … let not the rules of the fathers be transgressed, let the arrogance of worldly power not creep in under the guise of priesthood, and let us not gradually and imperceptibly lose the freedom that our Lord Jesus Christ, the liberator of all people, has given us with His Blood.”

[62]From a letter from Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to Metropolitan of the Czech Lands and Slovakia Christopher No. 102 dated February 4, 2012 (the reason for the letter was the celebration in Prague of the 60th anniversary of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia): the Moscow Patriarchate of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia of autocephaly, the Ecumenical Patriarchate will regretfully be forced to abolish the canonical autocephaly granted to your Church fourteen years ago, to return the status of an autonomous Church to the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, which was before this canonical deed, to delete it from the Sacred Diptychs of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, where it occupies the fourteenth place,and notify all sister Orthodox Churches of this deed.”

[63] Anastassiadis A. Un “Vatican anglicano-orthodoxe” a Constantinople?: Relations interconfessionnelles, rêves impériaux et enjeux de pouvoir en Méditerranée orientale a la fin de la Grande Guerre // Voisinages fragiles: Les relations interconfessionnelles dans le Sud-Estterra européen et la Médi nnée orientale 1854-1923: Contraintes locales et enjeux internationaux / Éd. A. Anastasiadis. Athènes, 2013. P. 283-302.

[64] Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ Ἀλήθεια. 1922. Σ. 130.

[65]In particular, in 1993, when the Jerusalem Patriarchate decided to restore the previously existing diocese in Australia and appointed an exarch there, this decision provoked an extremely harsh reaction from the Patriarchate of Constantinople: at a meeting of the enlarged Synod of the Church of Constantinople held in Istanbul on July 30-31, 1993, with the participation of the Primates of the Alexandrian and Greek Churches, as well as representatives of the Cypriot Church, two bishops of the Patriarch of Jerusalem ata were deprived of their holy dignity, and Patriarch Diodorus of Jerusalem was condemned for “blasphemous violation” of the holy canons, temptation and division of the Greek people. His commemoration in the diptychs of the Church of Constantinople was discontinued, however, out of “mercy and philanthropy” he was given time to repent and cancel the decision to establish the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Patriarchate in Australia, under threat of defrocking otherwise. Under these conditions, Patriarch Diodorus was forced to abandon the organization of the exarchate in Australia and other countries of the Diaspora, after which his commemoration in the diptychs of the Church of Constantinople was renewed, and the defrocked bishops were restored to their rank. See: Orthodox Church of Constantinople // Orthodox Encyclopedia. M., 2015. T. 37. S. 289. Orthodox Church of Constantinople // Orthodox Encyclopedia. M., 2015. T. 37. S. 289. Orthodox Church of Constantinople // Orthodox Encyclopedia. M., 2015. T. 37. S. 289.

[66] This logic was applied by Constantinople, in particular, during the transition of the former Bishop of Sergius Basil (Osborne), who was admitted to the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 2006 without a leave letter from the Russian Orthodox Church (in 2010, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople deprived Bishop Basil of his rank and monasticism in connection with his decision to marry).

[67] Letter No. 85 from the Locum Tenens of the Moscow Patriarchal Throne, Metropolitan Pimen, to Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, dated January 14, 1971.

[68] Statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, April 15, 2008.

[69] Document of the IV Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Meeting “Orthodox Diaspora. Solution”, Chambesy, 2009

[70] The participation of the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church in these meetings was terminated in accordance with the Statement of the Holy Synod in connection with the illegal intrusion of the Patriarchate of Constantinople into the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church of September 14, 2018.

[71] Interview of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to the newspaper Ethnikos Kiriks, November 13, 2020.

[72] Ibid.



  1. I wouldn’t look for much movement on the part of the other local churches. To date, none of the rest have excommunicated Constantinople. They are simply playing the wait and see game. They’d really rather not deal with it.

    And I can understand their position. Russia had to do what it did because it was Russia’s ox getting gored by what happened with the OCU. But most other churches would rather turn a blind eye to Bartholomew and Co.’s antics and just focus on keeping their own houses in order. Most of them would not follow Bart into a Unia, but they have no desire to boot him until such time as he proclaims one.

    I can’t say it is the courageous path, just the predictable one.

    • This 👆

    • George Michalopulos says

      Ordinarily, I would agree with your assessment. However these are not ordinary times. One way I could tell that is the way the majority of the local Churches did not swoon and complacently accept Bartholomew’s egregious actions in the Ukraine. He thought that the Slavs would “get over it”. They haven’t. In fact, I sense a hardening of resolve.

      Even the Greeks have not been fully on board with his antics. When it came time for the Holy Synods of Greece, Africa and Cyprus to decide as to whether they were going to accept Epiphany’s phony sect, they played an ungainly game of hot potato. In the end, their respective primates more or less went along with Bartholomew. (I believe that given the uncanonical and irregular way they “accepted” the decision leaves a future convocation of these synods a way out.)

      Anyway, I wish the Grecophone Churches had been more resolute and stood up to the EP but they didn’t. That said, there are significant cleavages in these Churches which the Ukrainian issue are widening. As such, if the EP goes into unia in 2025, then the greatest damage will happen withing the Grecophone Churches.

    • Illumined says

      Ejecting an entire See out of the Church is not something that should not be done immediately or lightly because once breaks happen they’re very hard to repair. The excommunication of Rome was a process that took 400 years total, running from the 800s to the early 1200s despite their errors. You want repentance, not rejection. Besides, we don’t know how much longer Batholomew will still live as he is quite old and reportedly has cancer iirc. We don’t know how long Washington is going to keep propping up Constantinople. We don’t know if Bartholomew won’t repent (doubtful but you should pray for it anyway). We also don’t know who his replacement is going to be and what his position will be on these things. That’s a lot to consider which is why a wait and see approach is more prudent for the time being.

      • Illumined, there certainly is a measure of prudence in your call for restraint. Nonetheless, Bartholomew is not the only patriarch of Constantinople who has committed ultra vires overreach. I’m no historian, but the Byzantine shenanigans have been going on for at least the last century. I’ve read through the Russian bishops’ communiqué once and plan to read it again. It’s a tour de force, an absolutely damning indictment of Bartholomew that one hopes will be used by a future Church council to remove him from the episcopacy altogether.

        I don’t say that out of vindictiveness, but rather for two constructive reasons. Removing Barthomew may turn out to be an opportunity for him to repent for the sake of the ultimate salvation of his soul. Also, anathematizing Bartholomew’s inflated claims for the authority of the so-called “Ecumenical Patriarchate” will serve to heal the divide and set the worldwide Church back on course.

        I’ve had a peek at recent news from the Anglican world and am astounded at some of the lunacy that passes for mainstream policies in my old communion. It would seem that Satan has nearly captured the western Anglican leadership. Simultaneously, he has his sights on the Orthodox Church’s hierarchs. Only an unequivocal rejection of the heresy and schism that he has promoted by way of Constantinople will save the wider Church. Thank God that He is using the Russian bishops to restore sanity.

        • Illumined says

          The Byzantine shennanigans go back well before that. If we go back all the way to the golden era of the 4th century, what you’ll see is actually total chaos. For a time most of the Church didn’t believe Jesus was God and one of the few lone voices confessing the truth was exiled multiple times and even excommunicated at one point. The Church has always been under attack by the enemy, don’t forget Iconoclasm lasted for a hundred years and the persecutions involved were way worse than anything we face today.

          I would also argue that Satan captured the Anglicans right from the start, remember that they could have come back to Orthodoxy during the Reformation. They didn’t, and neither did the rest of the Protestants because they couldn’t accept out of pride that their vision of how the early Church was didn’t match reality. On top of that their monastic disciplines were destroyed when their founder closed all of them. While watching them fall even further into darkness is painful, there is no direct comparison. They are headed by a monarch, not God directly. Monarchies are part of the powers and principalities of the world, the same ones spoken of in the temptations of Christ. God will set the Church straight in accordance to His providence, as was promised in Scripture. The Church is inseparable from God. There is no comparison between the Heterodox communities and us because of that.

          • Along about William the Conqueror’s victory (Brendan has a more colorful epithet for the man.) in the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the Catholic and Orthodox Church in England became the Catholic Church in England, and when Rome’s pope excommunicated Henry VIII in 1538, the Catholic Church in England became the Church of England, and with the conquests that subsequently comprised the British Empire, the Anglican Church gradually became the Anglican Communion, the third largest ecclesial grouping in Christianity.

            Where to start? In other words, at precisely which pivot point in its long history can we say that England’s Church departed from the Orthodox Church and became specifically Anglican in separation from her? The conventional wisdom is 1054, but 1066 was such a watershed year in history it is close enough in my estimation. To say it another way, ultramontane England’s departure from the Catholic Church under Henry VIII was their problem; William’s conquest of England by William was our problem.

            Indulge me, if you will, when I say that that rough summary of big events in England’s religious history was not at all on my mind when I was referring to “my old communion”. I was only referring to the rapid downfall of the Anglican Communion in my own lifetime, especially as it concerns the Episcopal Church of my youth and the Nippon Seikokai of my ordination. My own working hypothesis is that, among the mainline Protestant denominations, Anglican spirituality maintained the highest degree of affinity with Orthodoxy especially after the recovery of much of Catholic spirituality during the Oxford Movement of early the 19th Century. That may not mean much to those who have never darkened the door of an Anglican parish, but it meant a tremendous amount to us who held it so dear to our hearts. The rapid erosion of that spirituality and its replacement with cheap modern practices, but especially the capitulation to the newfangled morès of the sexual revolution have rendered Anglicanism a shadow of its former self that was burned on my memory n the 1950s and ’60s.

            A case in point is this: St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Nagoya, Japan was the seat of Bp. Sasaki Shinji, the near-martyr, shall I say, of WWII. The fascist government in Tokyo demanded that all Protestants join one Christian grouping, but Bp. Sasaki cited his claim that the Nippon Seikokai had the apostolic succession and therefore refused. He was imprisoned and treated harshly, dying soon after the war. Fast forward to the present day, the current dean of the cathedral is named Gotō Kaori (In Japanese the family name comes first. Kaori is a girl’s name.) Gotō-kun was obviously a man when I knew him thirty years ago – a husband, father and priest – but soon after his irrevocable ordination, he then claimed to be a woman. He/she/it wears long hair and a skirt and performs special Eucharists for “sexual minorities”. For your visual reference:


            • Just a dad says

              This person? Revd Ambrosia Kaori GOTO ? He looks no more than 35, if that

              We too were Anglican (née Episcopal). Our children were baptised in an Episcopal church that went back 100 years (a long time in US terms). It held out as long as it could, switching to the ACNA around 2008. Our church fought, and lost, our battle to retain our property. Even in 2008 the most strident Anglican leaders for some semblance of orthodoxy (small O) were the bishops in Africa. I believe that is still the case, but I lost interest in following the events once we found the true church. It was just a matter of time before leadership in England started to crumble.

              • Jeff Moss says

                Well, most of the African Anglican provinces now ordain women as priests (Nigeria and, I believe, Central Africa are still holding out against that).

                At least three (Kenya, Southern Africa, and South Sudan) have women bishops.

                I’m not confident that they are effectively resisting the slide that the Episcopal Church USA went down—just taking it more slowly.

                • Even the ACNA ordains women in some diocese, or at least they leave it up to that particular diocese.

                  TBH traditional Anglicanism in the U.S & Africa is only a generation behind liberal European & American Anglicanism.

                  It’s all doomed to failure because it is not the True Church & doesn’t have protection of the Holy Spirit

                • Yeah, my impression of a lot of these conservative Anglican groups is that there’s a degree of cultural chauvinism going on that makes them very resistant to becoming Orthodox Christian formally.

                  It’s simply what I have observed and has been my experience over the past few decades.

                  As I understand it, for many western Christians, there can be shame involved in becoming Eastern Orthodox, which in the West has sometimes been associated with cultures that are perceived as “beneath” the Anglo-Saxon culture, which, like it or not, has historically been viewed in the West somewhat aspirational, as if it’s the pinnacle of human civilization.

                  It still is perceived that way today – an English accent is often used when the goal is to portray a sense of sophistication.

                  Obviously, this isn’t true across-the-board…. many British and Westerners have certainly become Orthodox Christian. But among those who are resistant to it and who huddle in these continuing Anglican groups, their desire to persevere in these continuing Anglican groups seems (to me) to speak more of a cultural chauvinism than anything…. As in “ we’d rather stick with our continuing Anglican group than deign to join with you Eastern Orthodox Christians.”

                  It’s bizarre. But then again, I’ve been in the Church since I was a kid. I’ve never had to approach her from the outside. Maybe for many, the idea of becoming Orthodox Christian is very weird and very scary?

                  • FTS, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head! Even though I never thought about it in the ways you described, I can say that I’ve had no issue with our Church incorporating the Sarum Rite for the Continuing Anglicans.

                  • Yeah, my impression of a lot of these conservative Anglican groups is that there’s a degree of cultural chauvinism going on that makes them very resistant to becoming Orthodox Christian formally.

                    What’s you’re saying is that they’re a bunch of snobs who won’t stoop to affiliate themselves with Orthodoxy. In many cases you may be right, but there may be other reasons that you don’t see too many continuing Anglican congregations swimming the Bosporus.

                    The first reason is that Orthodoxy has not reached critical mass in this country, so opportunities for exposure may not be available to the Anglicans. Some Orthodox parishes may be considered to be ghetto parishes for peculiar ethnic groups in the city and Anglos don’t visit the ghetto, as it were, even when the parish is in the suburb. The second reason is that Orthodoxy is just plain weird, as you cite.

                    It’s bizarre. But then again, I’ve been in the Church since I was a kid. I’ve never had to approach her from the outside. Maybe for many, the idea of becoming Orthodox Christian is very weird and very scary?

                    Bingo! Let me explain by sharing with you what may appear at first to be an unrelated story. It’s about the approach of my own continuing Anglican diocese to the ordinariate established by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglicans to come under the Roman papacy while retaining much of their patrimony. The patrimony here was made up of the so-called “externals” such as the hymnody, prayer book language, married priesthood, etc. that are all characteristic of Anglicanism. When the opportunity arose 15 years ago, there was interest amongst some clergy and their parishes to take advantage of it, but the opposition amongst the rest was TREMENDOUS. It was frightening, to be honest.

                    The turmoil led to the opportunism of a bishop from outside our diocese. (Where have we seen that before?) There was a knock-down, drag-out court fight over an historic church property in Hollywood and the expulsion of its exemplary priest, Fr. Christopher Kelley. Old friendships turned sour. That is just one example of the chaos that was caused over the opportunity for a few Anglicans to simply reunite with erstwhile Mother Rome with whom they had deep historical ties.

                    If reunification with Rome caused the devil to stir up so much turmoil in a largely Anglo-Catholic diocese, just think of the cognitive dissonance that must needs have occurred if a solid invitation had been offered for an Anglican congregation to come home to the early Church as she continues today!

                    A couple of Orthodox jurisdictions have provided for the usage of western rites for use by such parishes in what may be viewed as a consolation. However, as we know, the Byzantine Rite is by far the dominant usage in the Orthodox Church and it is unavoidable to anyone who is willing to come out from under his parochial shell. It is an understatement to say that it takes a bit of getting used to before one feels comfortable with it, especially when it is served using the Byzantine chant which is so dissonant to the Western ear. There are other off-putting rituals like bowing and kissing sad-looking Byzantine icons, standing on tired feet throughout services that start late and seem to go on ad infinitum, refraining from eating red meat for most of the year, and going to confession frequently if not weekly.

                    Orthodoxy is “very weird and strange”, especially to those who have been churched in another Christian confession, where life is easier. Without a God-given adaptability and determination, the run-of-the-mill Christian is doomed to lose interest unless the Holy Spirit has a hold of the aspirant’s heart and just won’t let go.

                    “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Mt. 13:45-46)

                    To run with that simile, let’s put it this way: average continuing Anglicans are satisfied with the pearls they already have and just want to hang onto them? They may have been through the drama that followed separation from the Episcopal hierarchy and the loss of parish property. They’re not looking forward to more consternation. They aren’t out seeking more pearls and they certainly aren’t ready to sell everything again that they had for one pearl no matter its worth.

                    Those who have been in the Orthodox Church all of their lives have had the rare advantage of familiarity with its bizarre customs, but they must understand the hesitancy of those who consider joining it something akin to moving overseas to a foreign country. People tend to suffer from inertia especially in cases like this.

                    Speaking for myself, when I realized that the center of Anglican theology just didn’t hold and that it was more about being British than having a tight theological paradigm, I knew that I had finally seen through Anglicanism as a system. Our diocese encouraged us to join the Chair of St. Peter Ordinariate so I requested (re)ordination there, but I could not stomach the cheesy Novus Ordo mass and the hundreds of scandals caused by pedophile priests and the bishops who covered for them. The local bishop took his time adjudicating my request, but he ultimately determined that a candidate for orders who was not willing to become a Latin Rite layman could not work in an overwhelmingly Latin Rite communion.

                    While I was waiting for over two years for the bishop to make up his mind, I was on the hunt for the true Church of Jesus Christ and once I found it, I had decided to join it. I had my grandson in the car one Sunday and felt drawn to the local Greek Orthodox parish. Experiencing the Divine Liturgy for the first time was a Eureka! moment for me. As weird as it was, it just felt right. “This is it!” I said to myself. After reading a dozen books on Orthodoxy, I was convinced that the Orthodox Church was indeed the authentic Church and her Faith was the authentic Faith. I renounced my Anglican ordination, quit my church-related job and set off on the adventure of a lifetime. My entire family still thinks I’m nuts, but I can only pray that one day they to will see the Light as well.

                    • “My entire family still thinks I’m nuts”

                      In Orthodox language, this means that you’re on the correct path…. haha

                      I recall hearing a talk by Fr Stephen Freeman of the Oak Ridge, Tennessee, OCA parish about 10 years ago where he recounts how, when he told his former Episcopal bishop that he was leaving the Anglican/Episcopal Church to become Orthodox, his bishop told him: “Enjoy bowling.”

                      The idea being that bowling is a lower/working class activity that Eastern Orthodox do but that a proper Episcopalian wouldn’t deign to engage in.

                      Yep, it’s snobbery as you cite…. it’s palpable in parts of our society. Go to any “top tier” American university Religion department or to many wealthy suburban country clubs and we’ll experience it real-time…. they’re happy to engage with the lesbian transgendered Episcopal “bishop” wearing a miniskirt…. but Elder Cleopa of Romania or St John of San Francisco they’d be embarrassed to be seen around.

                      This phenomenon used to bother me a lot — it’s painful as a kid growing up around these folks, since it makes you feel like a real outsider, like something is wrong with you (no kid likes to be perceived as weird or different) — but with the complete disasters that mainline protestant churches have become, with their sexual lunacy on full-frontal display, with their American cultural clout more in the toilet each day — well, now I’m so thankful to God that He gave me bowling instead of that garbage.

                    • Jeff Moss says

                      I have some family and close friends who are Anglican, and one of the main reasons for them to stay Anglican and not become Orthodox is actually the Branch Theory. If they stay Anglican, they can still believe (with however many qualifications) that their Evangelical and Catholic and Orthodox friends are all part of the same church with themselves—even if some from each of these groups would disagree! Orthodoxy, by contrast, will always finally require them to say that some part of their friends’ Christian experience is not valid, and that can feel either very arrogant or very lonely, or both.

              • Goto Kaori is probably in his fifties now and his bishop, Nishihara Renta is a liberal academic who is fully on board with his sexual perversions and the promotion thereof. If Goto had had a modicum of integrity thirty years ago, he would have withdrawn himself from the priesthood and allowed the diocese to move on in peace without him. In the early 1990s, even the ordination of women was a controversial subject in the Nippon Seikokai. Goto’s sort of sexual dysphoria was something that did not even register on the church’s or the public’s radar.

                Just, I’m sorry to hear that your Episcopal parish was another casualty of the legal battles waged by the liberal church establishment, but even though you lost your property, you kept your faith. I admire the leadership of the African bishops of Uganda, Rwanda and Nigeria who stood in the gap for the American Episcopalians. What a turning of the tables that was when you consider missionary history! It’s despicable that those black bishops were denigrated by the spiteful U.S. Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori, who squandered so many millions of dollars on lawyers in order to keep the properties from going with the congregations that had built and maintained them.

                Thanks be to God that you eventually found the original Church as I did after wandering a bit. I don’t know about you, but in my weaker moments, I find it hard to just forget everything that has passed, despite St. Paul’s admonishment: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Phil. 3:8

            • ” … in 1066, the Catholic and Orthodox Church in England
              became the Catholic Church in England”.

              For an in-depth analysis of how this came about, see:

              Vladimir Moss: THE FALL OF ORTHODOX ENGLAND
              The Spiritual Roots of the Norman Conquest, 1043-1087


              Of particular interest to Monomahos readers might be:

              3. DOOMSDAY (1070-1087) 66
              The Papist Reformation of the English Church 66
              The Gregorian Revolution 72
              The King and the Church 77

              and concerning:

              “… when Rome’s pope excommunicated Henry VIII in 1538, the Catholic Church in England became the Church of England, and with the conquests that subsequently comprised the British Empire, the Anglican Church gradually became the Anglican Communion, the third largest ecclesial grouping in Christianity.”


              The Anglican Reformation 88
              The Non-Jurors 90
              The Branch Theory 92
              “He that Restraineth” 94
              The Return of the Branch 95

            • Just a dad says

              Am I wrong in thinking this story below, that I just read, could not have taken place just 20 years ago?

              “A concerned father is urging the chief education officer of the Church of England to take action over allegedly inappropriate and explicit sex education lessons in his child’s church school.

              The unidentified parent appealed to the Rev. Nigel Genders after claiming the unnamed Church of England school in Norfolk, England, is utilizing materials that teach children as young as 7 that they can be born in the wrong body, according to the London-based Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which is aiding his legal battle, according to the Christian Post.

              The materials also reportedly encouraged young students to participate in simulated same-sex weddings.

              The anonymous father reportedly expressed his concerns about the curriculum to the school and an independent review board, but his concerns were not addressed.”

              • “Am I wrong in thinking this story below …
                could not have taken place just 20 years ago?”

                No, this station had not yet arrived at the train,
                but it was surely converging upon it;
                once the aptly named Rev Nigel Genders
                had been appointed its conductor…

            • Illumined says

              Even though they had recovered at least some of the externalities, it doesn’t change the fact that they were not a part of the Orthodox Church, and by extension not Israel. Why pine for what was only a hollow imitation when you have the real thing right now? They NEVER had the mysteries because there are none outside the Orthodox Church. I get there’s a lot of comfort in nostalgia, it’s an issue I have to deal with myself as well, but there’s no salvation there, only temptations.

              I would also like to point out that Branch Theory, which is the theological foundation for the intra-Christian ecumenist movement we’re all opposed to, came from that very same Anglican Oxford Movement you’re just now praising. Do you see how the demons work? They don’t just control the left side, they control the right side too. So sure even though they hadn’t gone woke at that time, they still helped to advance their cause in pushing us toward the End of Days. Heads they win, tails we lose. The truth of Revelation is that the good guys don’t win in this world, we were always going to lose.

              You can read more about the history of Branch Theory right here.

              • Why pine for what was only a hollow imitation when you have the real thing right now? They NEVER had the mysteries because there are none outside the Orthodox Church.

                Never say “never” because at one time the Church in England was indeed Orthodox since the whole Western Church was one Church united with Rome before the schism. If you read the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which the monk wrote in the early eighth century, you will see accounts of remarkable feats of piety and missionary work, and astounding miracles that were characteristic of the nascent British Church.

                I am well aware of the Branch Theory as it was our theological lifeline to the wider Church. Without assent to the Branch Theory via apostolic succession, we Anglican clerics could not lay claim to membership in the Church Catholic and the sacraments which we confected were null and void, or without grace.

                However, I eventually learned that a genealogical connection with the first apostles is not sufficient, but rather an adherence to apostolic tradition is also required. Thus I lost faith in the validity of my own orders, indeed in the authenticity of the Anglican Communion as a whole, a view which has been reinforced by the ahistorical novelties found in the Anglicanism of recent decades.

                Nevertheless, I like to work with my hypothesis that there are varying remnants of Orthodoxy in the several denominations as our mutual history has been one of a long trajectory, despite some of the watershed moments. This thinking helps me to gauge the relative proximity of theologies, often vague assumptions, that the many visitors and inquirers bring to our parish of a weekend, so it helps me to engage them in conversation. Of the non-Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox are perhaps the closest to the target, followed by the Roman Catholics. Anglo-Catholics would come next and evangelical Anglicans are several steps behind, etc.. At the same time, I agree that a bleeding-heart longing for “reunion” with others who sincerely call themselves Christian is possible only when they discover what is lacking in their faith, or what is extraneous, and find it in Eastern Orthodoxy. Theological compromise is verboten.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Sir, I agree with you for the most part.

                  I remember our beloved Vladyka Dmitri of blessed memory. A good old Southern Baptist boy from East Texas. His background made him one of the premier evangelists in North America, right up their with Bishop Basil Essey of Wichita. (I consider Ss Raphael and Alexis Toth as missionaries as well but they primarily ministered to the already-Orthodox or the formerly –i.e. Uniate–Orthodoxy.)

                  • George, I left out the Uniates, who are closer to us Orthodox than the Orientals. My bad.

                    Your mention of belovèd bishops who were converts from Protestantism highlights what I haven’t said, but am tempted to say. That is the notion that some people who have been emersed in a heterodox Christian tradition but who have then been converted to Orthodoxy bring things of value with them that enrich us all. I’m going to walk halfway off the plank when I say that Protestant preachers tend to have memorized more of the Holy Scriptures, they preach with greater vigor and they have a missionary zeal that is often absent in their Orthodox counterparts. I am not saying this to denigrate our Orthodox clergymen who have had little exposure outside of Orthodoxy, or those who have discounted their former spirituality, but am appealing to their humility when I suggest that there is something there for a strengthening and enrichment of the Orthodox ordained ministry if they aren’t ashamed to use it.

                    A case in point: My wife and I visited an Antiochian parish in San Diego a couple of years back and were impressed by the homiletic force of the rector there – a man who had been a Calvary Chapel (I think) pastor before his conversion to Orthodoxy. My wife had already soured on Orthodoxy by that time, but she said that she would be willing to join that parish if we lived close by.

                    What I am getting at is that we need to be thankful for converts, especially clergymen subsequently trained and ordained Orthodox, who bring with them singular gifts that work to the edification of the body of Christ and to the greater glory of God. Ad maiorem Dei gloriam

                • “Theological compromise is verboten.”

                  Agreed. Orthodoxy is what it is – Orthodox.

                • Of the non-Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox are perhaps the closest to the target, followed by the Roman Catholics.

                  Are you sure?

                  For all the faults of RCism, they at least agree with us on Christology, and what is Christianity, if not faith in Christ? If you can’t even get Christology right, you’re a non starter.

                  Oriental Heterodox are fine and pious people, but I believe that many today are misled into believing that they are “just like us” based purely on external factors and a bunch of semi-apostate academics telling us that “the Fathers got it wrong at Chalcedon.”

                  Based purely on dogma, I would have to say that the RCs are closest to us and, even then, they are a far way off.

                  • Yes, Greg, the Roman Catholics – even the Protestants – believe in the Chalcedonian dogma of Christology, but there are two things that merit some thought: The Oriental Orthodox use the Liturgy of St. Basil in their worship. That alone brings them closer to Orthodoxy than Romans with their stripped-down missal. Besides that, the Romans insert the filioque into the Nicene Creed. Doesn’t that sabotage their trinitarian theology?

  2. Ben David says

    I agree completely with the statements in this document. However, to be taken seriously, the Russian Orthodox Church needs to apply these same principles in Africa and South Korea where they are invading and causing division in the local church.

    • Yes, there’s that.

    • George Michalopulos says

      The trouble with that assertion is that the lands which the ROC “invaded” belong to schismatic bishops –at least in their eyes, i.e. Alexandria. As far as Korea is concerned, there was always a Russian presence there which preceded the Cpolitan one.

      That’s one reason ROCOR is now even in Greece(!).

      • Antiochene Son says

        But Russia has never declared any of these Churches in communion with the OCU to be graceless. Ecclesiology based solely on the schismatic “communion line” theology is dangerous, and applied to history, puts saints outside the Church.

        And even if they did declare Alexandria to be graceless, it would be for a neighboring Church to deal with disaffected parishes (Jerusalem or maybe Antioch), not anyone who would take them (Russia).

        • I don’t think Russia is implying or stating that the Fanar or others who recognize the OCU are graceless in any way. In fact, I have heard Russian insistences that this is not the case at all, that rather it is a rebuke of schismatic behavior which breaks them from the Church but which is not a severe enough condemnation for God to withdraw His grace. That would need to come from a local council at the least.

          But, on the other hand, if Alexandria is schismatic (though retaining grace) yet some of its clergy and parishes no longer wish to be associated with schismatics as a matter of spiritual health, and these clergy and parishes apply to the MP, which is not schismatic, in order to be received, then it seems right for the MP not to turn its back to those who are being led astray and away from the Church.

          Now, as to active mission presence apart from requests of Alexandrian laity and clergy – i.e., just out and out evangelizing on the territory of Alexandria, I cannot take a position on that. I would point out however, that the claim of Alexandria to all of Africa is of relatively recent vintage. I don’t think C’pol renounced its claims to Africa until 1921. That is much more recent than, say, the CP’s grant of the Ukraine to the Church of Russia.

          I mean, if we’re going to open up the books, then let’s open up the books.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Well said, Misha! Or as Jack Nicholson said in A Few Good Men: “The truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

          • George Michalopulos says

            Misha, what’s your take on this:

            And everybody else for that matter? I have my own take but I’ll wait to see what everybody else thinks.

            • I don’t see why Putin would do an about face on this issue. I can see a Turkish exarchate. And, once established, I could see transfer of the monastery to it. But, as is, I don’t see why the Russians would interfere.

              Now, what is going through Erdogan’s mind is another matter entirely. Perhaps he just wishes to “stick it to the Greeks”. He knows that in Turkey they are agents of the State Dept. and CIA. So no love lost. I mean, the US has tried to overthrow him recently.

              Alternatively, he may think doing this will suck up to the Russians. If so, I think it is a miscalculation. Putin has nothing against the Greeks in general. His problem is with the hierarchical leadership, not the monastics and rank and file.

              • I actually like one of the comments on the Helleniscope article:

                This may very well be the hand and judgment of God. Black Bart is taking away the churches of the good Orthodox Christians of Ukraine. And so God is taking this Church away from Black Bart.

                Under Bartholomew the Hagia Sophia has reverted back to a mosque, Halki is still not open, there was a recent rave in a historic church is Smyrna, now the refusal to be able to use Soumela, and that is after it was desecrated for a commercial.

                It could be the Russians, but, it could also be God. Or, maybe God is using the Russians to punish Bartholomew. I obviously cannot be sure of that and am only speculating.

                Now, what is going through Erdogan’s mind is another matter entirely.

                I’ve given up on trying to even figure him out logically, that dude just blows with the wind. The phrase “being everything to everyone means you’re nothing to no one” comes to mind with Erdogan.

                I can see a Turkish exarchate

                I could also see this and have been saying that for some time. The fact that there are 80x’s more Russians in Turkey than there are people under the EP would be the impetus for doing this. Plus Russia is close with Antioch who also has territory, and a more significant flock than the EP in Turkey.

                I could easily see Putin strong arming Erdogan into doing this since Russia cancelled the grain deal and since I’m sure Erdogan wants to still allow Turkey to be a gas hub and all the $$ that will come along with that. “Let the Church of Russia set up a Turkish exarchate and we can continue the gas hub deal.”

                I also think that’s why this document was put out by the Russian Church, accusing Bartholomew of schism and heresy and claiming the Patriarchate in general has fallen into heresy would justify a reason to go into Turkey, same as Alexandria.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              Sounds to me like Nick is right about this.

              • Nick has not (so far) commented on this topic.
                So, with which of his comments do you agree?

              • George Michalopulos says

                This is one of those times when both sides may be right.

                I can see Putin calling Erdogan and “chatting” about the EP.

                A few months ago, Gail wrote something about the benefit of the whole patriarchate being relocated somewhere in Greece. Truth be told, I wasn’t so sure about that but in retrospect, I can see the wisdom of the EP making such a move. The “New Rome” schtick is over and done with. Even if every last Turk living in Istanbul converted to Orthodoxy, Istanbul would still not have any claim to being a New Rome anymore. That is unless Turkey becomes a superpower.

    • I don’t know about South Korea. However, it was only after Alexandria recognized the OCU and the MP excommunicated it that Russia became involved in receiving parishes in Africa which did not want to remain under a schismatic entity.

      • Ben David says

        I mention Korea with sadness because it is one of the few mission areas that have ALL the parishes united under one bishop. Orthodoxy in Korea has a complicated history (like everywhere else), but claims on the Korean territory had been settled for decades. You can read and compare their histories from Constantinople and Russian sources. However, both agree that there has been only one bishop in Korea until recently. There is a similar situation in Thailand. All of the Orthodox parishes there are under the Russian Church, though Constantinople has tried to mission there unsuccessfully. I actually found Orthodoxy while living in Korea so the situation is close to my heart. I pray that a Council will finally be called to resolve all of these issues.

    • Good point!

    • Unlike Ukraine, there are no long standing universally recognized diocesan boundaries in Korea… and as a matter of fact, the Russians established the first parishes there. Russian only established parishes in Africa when the Patriarchate of Alexandria entered into communion with the schismatics in Ukraine, but the parts of Africa they are operating in are also not part of the ancient boundaries of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. But when a Church like Alexandria or the EP blow off the boundaries of the Russian Church, they shouldn’t be surprised that this can legitimately come back to haunt them.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Thank you, Fr for this insight.

        Repentance on all sides is called for. And then the term “ecumenical” must either be redefined or better yet, stripped away from the word “patriarchate”.

  3. This article introduces additional points of view worth contemplating:

    • After all, out of the 400 bishops whom the ROC Patriarch considers “his own”, only 250 gathered in Moscow. Almost no one came from abroad: neither from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) nor from the Baltic countries, nor from the Paris Archdiocese.

      Given certain travel sanctions that exist on Russia and the difficult ability to travel to Russia from abroad, it’s not exactly shocking that there were very few who were able to travel to Russia.

      My guess is that this will be disseminated to ROCOR, etc., to be discussed and there is no reason to see why this would not be ratified by those respective bodies. This is especially true for ROCOR who functions in the “diaspora” and has to deal with the eparchies of the EP abroad.

      It’s hard to believe that this statement by the Russian bishops would not be accepted by ROCOR here in America considering the problems with Elpi and them leaving the AOB because of him/EP.

    • The council did not claim to be anything more than it is, a limited council of bishops within Russia. Also, the ROC never said it sought to “rise above the conflict”, as if rising above a conflict between good and evil can ever be a good thing.

      The actions of the UOC in the Ukraine are warped by the politics of the war. Even those who support the Russian war effort cannot openly express such a position in the police state that the not z’s have created. Kiev slaughtered civilians in the Donbass since the coup d’etat in 2014. So the UOC has done as much as it felt it could dare without openly crossing canonical lines. It has not proclaimed autocephaly but merely “independence”, nor has it severed communion with the MP. The UOC is trying to be good Ukrainians under the circumstances. But Ukraine is a fictitious state to begin with. The American Empire is built on such lies. The UOC should not be playing along but, given the circumstances of the duress, it is understandable. But in doing so, they raise their hand against Mother Russia and have reaped the whirlwind in terms of war deaths and casualties. A more principled position would be to refuse to serve in any war against Russia. But that would take tremendous courage.

      It is true, however, that rank-and-file Ukrainians are the main victim in all of this. This is because it is a complete mismatch. US/NATO clearly provoked this war. If one cannot admit that, one is not discussing it in good faith. Moreover, it is clear that the US has no intention of allowing Kiev to settle the matter in negotiations with Russia. They had practically done so shortly after the war began and the US/UK forbade the Ukrainians from sealing the deal already agreed to.

      So Patriarch Kirill is righteous in his call for the victory of Russian troops against the willful agents of the Western heretics, whether they be Orthodox, schismatic or heretics (Roman Catholics, etc.). They have all raised their hand against the Third Rome and until they relent, they are God’s enemies.

      I wish this were not common in Orthodox history, but I cannot say as much. Groups of Orthodox have been dupes of usurpers on several occasions. Overthrowing the legitimately elected government of Little Russia was an act of war. The rest of it just had to play out. Russia is not just Great Russia but rather Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine. Patriarch Kirill is styled “Patriarch of Moscow and of all the Rus'”.

      This mad plot to defeat Russia was a fool’s errand from the get go. Has twenty plus years of Putin taught the West nothing? Well, this time they are getting a harsh lesson.

      • Misha, I wouldn’t get hung up on the word “council.” This was a last minute, secret meeting (as Russia is a potential war zone) where not all could attend. 5 of the 14 Local Churches were there, as well as representatives from Antioch and the OCA. – This particular document wasn’t about Ukraine. Ukraine was addressed in the other resolutions. This document was specifically about the distortion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s teaching, which, of course, included his stated reasons for going into Ukraine. Those who weren’t able to attend would have received this document, as well.

        • I don’t really take any of it very seriously except that it lays out a case which theoretically could be acted upon. My guess is that the bishops of the various local churches will sidestep their duties regarding the condemnation of heresy and ostracism of schismatics in favor of letting Bartholomew and Co. seal their own fate by entering into a real Unia in the near future.

          It is an interesting dynamic among heretics and other unstable sorts that their psychoses get worse, not better, absent repentance. This has been true throughout history. One can see it in the degeneration of Rome as well as its Protestant and Secular Humanistic progeny. They just keep getting worse. The modern West is all the evidence of this that you need.

          And so, you can expect the same from Bartholomew. He will be possessed to commit ever more extreme antics by the spirits which move him. That is the nature of the beast. And so, one way of dealing with it is just to live and let die. Probably, in a short time, he will cross a line which most all of the Orthodox will recognize as having set him outside the Church.

          It’s just a matter of time.

          However, the bishops have a higher responsibility. If you recall, there was a petition before the Synod of the Church of Greece listing Bartholomew’s many transgressions and heresies. The monastics offering it wanted him condemned as a heretic. I don’t think that was precipitous at all, but brave.

          Regardless, one way or another, God’s will shall be done.

          • The timing of this meeting should tell you something. – The only thing Russia cares as much about as their country is the Church. Do you really think they’re going to leave Ukraine before the legitimate Church is reestablished, property is returned, and the thugs jailed?

            The Local Churches are similarly concerned. Bartholomew has shown a propensity for taking in their deposed clergy.

            Then there is that thing in 2025 that’s right around the corner.

            Even the Greeks are having problems with Bartholomew. They’re deliberately dragging their feet on the charter, probably because if they wait something better will present itself.

            The time is right and the time is now.

            • Gail. Misha. An intersting back-and-forth. I love it! Geopolitically, I see Misha’s point.

              However, Gail added an interesting wrinkle: is the GOA dragging its feet about the new charter waiting to see what comes out in the future? Maybe not consciously but that may be the case regardless.

              Who knows? Perhaps some of the more spiritually attuned archons/L100s are receiving sound advice from some Elders?


              • George,

                Mostly, I try to avoid speculating on the inner workings of GOARCH. Different tribe, different customs. You are much more attuned to that situation than I am.

                Just in general, I can’t imagine that there aren’t Greeks in GOARCH who can see the writing on the wall and are interested in some exit strategy for the oncoming conflagration. And you hit the nail on the head of where some of the alarm bells would be likely to ring – among the true noetic monastic elders.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  As Michael Corleone said in Godfather III: “They keep pulling me in!”

                  Yes, I’m very attuned to what is going on in the GOA.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      This bishop’s conference of the Russian church was publicly announced six months ago, in the minutes of their Holy Synod meeting last December 29, 2022:
      So everything was thoroughly planned and scheduled way in advance. While it’s not surprising that autocephaly for Ukraine was not discussed, it is nonetheless disappointing.

      The positive outcome of this bishop’s conference is that it actually reflects what the Russian Church is supposed to be. These were mostly bishops who actually have their diocese within the Russian Federation, not outside of Russia. So at this conference, the Russian church was basically right-sized.

      The glaring takeaway, though, is that the ROC has no positive solutions for Ukraine. The only “solution” offered here is that the Russian armies be victorious over the Ukrainian armies. That’s really just a tacit admission by the ROC that it actually has no jurisdicition in Ukraine anymore, other than in those territories that have since been annexed. So I believe this bishop’s conference has solidified the disconnect between the ROC and the UOC.

      • Not that it matters, but it also said: “On August 25, 2022, the Holy Synod determined: “Since the international situation continues to make it difficult for many members of the Council of Bishops to arrive in Moscow, postpone its holding to a date to be determined in good time, intermediately returning to this issue no later than the meeting of the Holy Synod in December of this year.”

        It obviously didn’t happen in December. It was reported that the July date was up in the air and they decided to meet at the last minute. That the meeting itself was planned is a given.

        With respect to any mess, you have to clean it up before you can move forward. They have to undo what Bartholomew did to have any authority over Ukraine and because Metropolitan Onufry separated from Russia (for obviously reasons, that I’m sure Russia understands) they will have to undo that, as well, to be in a position to grant autocephaly, if that is the goal.

        Bartholomew made one heck of a mess.

        • Joseph Lipper says

          To be clear, the ROC Holy Synod meeting did happen last December:
          The English news release just doesn’t include the detailed minutes.

          The detail is provided in Russian, in the Holy Synod’s journal entry 121:

          It says that since the ROC Council of Bishops is unable to meet due to travel restrictions, there will instead be a Bishop’s Conference on July 19, 2023 with attendance mandatory for all bishops within the Russian Federation, as well as allowing bishops outside of Russia to attend as travel is permitted .

          It also says that Patriarch Kirill is given full discretion to determine the program and agenda of the Bishop’s Conference for approval.

          Wow. It sounds like this was a rubber-stamp meeting.

          • Yes, Joseph, a Holy Synod meeting happened. Not sure what this has to do with anything. Also not sure why you recopied what I just wrote, but OK. Yes, it said there would be a bishops council meeting in July, as they were not able to have it when they hoped which was yearend 2022. They scheduled it for July which I’m guessing was a tentative date. As the date approached and bombs weren’t flying overhead, they were able to call the meeting.

            It is the host who calls the meeting who is responsible for distributing the agenda and the program.

            Rubber stamping means “approve automatically without proper consideration.”

            Patriarch Kirill did not rubber stamp anything. As it says at the top, “The document was approved at the Bishops’ Meeting of the Russian Orthodox Church on July 19, 2023. It was the consensus of the group to approve what was presented.

            Now that the group has approved what was presented, it has been bumped up to the Holy Synod to determine next steps.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              Gail, the statutes of the ROC seems to make a distinction between the “Council of Bishops” and the “Bishop’s Conference”. The Council of Bishops apparently requires a quorum of at least 2/3 of the bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate.

              Even with mandatory attendance, it is reported that out of 400 total bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate, only 250 were able to show up for this bishop’s conference. Apparently they are not quite able to reach a quorum, according to their statutes, to call a “Council of Bishops” anyways. Perhaps that would explain why the bishop’s conference was called instead.


              This was also a very short bishop’s conference. The program and agenda was presented, and then it was quickly adopted by those bishops present, i.e. the rubber stamp. The decision of the ROC Holy Synod from December 2022 to give Patriarch Kirill full discretion to determine the program and agenda of this bishop’s conference gave him a lot of power to personally shape the outcome of this meeting. So, it looks like it was carefully scripted theater. The ROC is certainly very organized, at least.


              • This was a pretty serious document, Joseph. Time will tell.

                • I believe Joseph is being naive in how important of a document this is since it’s not “officially” approved by the entire Russian synod.

                  If the Russian Church had no plans to make this official on a synodal level or to disseminate it out to ROCOR, etc., then they would not have wasted their time doing it. You can clearly tell a lot of work went into this document and that it is being used as a blueprint moving forward in a formal condemnation of heresy against Patriarch Bartholomew.

                  Joseph’s glossing over this document is willful ignorance.

                • Gotta be honest, I’m really looking forward to how the Ecumenical Patriarchate is going to respond to this, there’s no way they wont, unless their own hubris makes them think it’s not worth mentioning because they are “above” the Church of Russia (and every other Church).

                  I do really, really hope they respond to the claims made against them though because it will make them look theologically ridiculous.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  I agree with Lawrence’s assessment: the ROC document (which is being discussed) is “a tour de force”.

                  To my mind, that makes it unarguable.

                • I think there are a couple of misconceptions here and I may have inadvertently contributed to misunderstanding by referring to the proceeding as a “limited council”. It was a conference, as advertised. As such, it would be making no binding resolutions affecting the whole ROC in the manner a full council of bishops would.

                  “All member bishops of the Council shall comprise the Bishops’ Conference. The Conference shall be convened by the Chairman of the Council on his initiative, by the decision of the Board of the Council or on the proposal of no less than 1/3 of the bishops. The task of the Conference shall be to consider the decisions of the Council which are of special importance and which cause doubt as to their conformity with the Holy Scriptures, Holy Tradition, dogmas and canons, and to maintain church peace and unity.” – emphasis added

                  However, since it was adopted without controversy, this is likely to be the drumbeat narrative to be carried on through future synods and intra-Orthodox dialog. It also may be Met. Ilarion’s way of reasserting some relevance in the wider ROC. His reputation was previously as a darling to the West and an ecumenist. Perhaps this is changing. He may have taken inspiration from the metamorphosis of Dmitri Medvedev who previously was seen as a moderate but now is a fire breathing nationalist.

        • Just a dad says

          Bartholomew made one heck of a mess.


          I just got a private message back from one of the members of Konevets Quartet, who I first saw in Chicago at an Orthodox church (Holy Trinity) we were visiting with our daughter. I was hoping they might swing thru our part of the country this year, but Igor Dmitriev just messaged me and said “Hello. We would like to visit US but US does not give visas to any Russians unfortunately.”

          Sad. But on the flip side, for reasons I don’t understand, you can catch Leonid & Friends – all Russians, I believe – on their 2023 tour of the US starting in early September.

          I can’t see the Russian’s I first saw sing in Chicago, but I can go see Russians sing Chicago songs all over the US. It’s a crazy world.

          For those who have no idea who I am talking about, here you go. Both Russian “groups” are fantastic, and well worth seeing if you can.

          Sorry Gail for the lighthearted post today, but sometimes it is good to get away from all the sadness and frustration.

  4. I’m gonna touch on the points in the article a little bit later but do you think this statement is finally coming out now because Russia is winning the war, Ukraine is falling apart and the West/NATO are weak?

    This also will have geopolitical ramifications for the EP since he is in Turkey, I’m sure the religious aspect of this war is something that Putin has discussed with Erdogan.

    It just seems that after 5 years of the schism and after 1.5 years of the way this is a strategically timed document. My guess is that Russia has realized that the Emperor (West/NATO/EP) has no clothes and now is the time to not only wrap up the physical war that is taking place, but, also wrap up the spiritual war that is taking place with the EP at its center.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Petros, I believe you are on to something here regarding how this document from the bishop’s conference may have been purposefully created for Putin to bring up to Erdogan and the Turkish authorities.

      Is it a coincidence that the Turkish authorities have suddenly cancelled the Phanar’s planned Divine Liturgy on Holy Dormition at the Sumela Monastery?

    • Petros,

      I can easily see the following scenario unfolding:

      Russia wins the war in the Ukraine and eradicates the OCU, deposing its clergy and imprisoning those who persecuted the Church. Russia continues to take over the Alexandrian territory inasmuch as Alexandria has fallen into schism. Alexandria remains in solidarity with the Fanar but loses much of its territory.

      This all further radicalizes Bartholomew and his synod and they dream up even more outlandish antics. But it solidifies in his mind the need to form a Unia so as to preserve his leadership of some slice of what is now Orthodoxy.

      In the mean time, in order to get on Russia’s good side, Erdogan lands on the Fanar like a ton of BRICS. He might exile it or otherwise sabotage it. Who can say?

      And in the end, like at the conclusion of The Godfather movie, the non-Greek churches plus Jerusalem end up kissing the hand of the new don, leaving the other Greek churches to fall into a Unia and/or experience a nasty civil war. Antioch becomes de jure protos, but Russia really calls the shots.

      Of course, this is all far from certain. But if people continue acting to type, it is very possible. Bear in mind, this is all accomplished without a council and without any coordinated effort of the local churches.

      • Jeff Moss says

        Out of curiosity, to what extent did the rest of the Orthodox world ever formally ratify Meletios’s assumption of ecclesiastical authority over “all Africa”?

        Did previous Greek Patriarchs of Alexandria ever use that title, whether or not it corresponded to reality?

        • Jeff Moss says

          “Ask and you shall receive.” Today I came upon Matthew Namee’s excellent article posted just last week, which summarizes developments in the Orthodox Church (at least on the level of earthly organization) over the past century or so.

          Apparently the addition of “All Africa” to the title of the Patriarch of Alexandria, was formally accepted by Constantinople in 2001. 2001! This is not a matter of ancient tradition.

      • Jeff Moss says

        And speaking of Orthodoxy and Africa, a Google search for more info landed me on this Britannica article…why have I never before heard this part of Spartas’s story with the Church in Kenya?

        Lord, have mercy.

  5. Hilber Nelson says

    “After all is said and done, more is said than done.” Now comes the hard part: what is to be done about EP? Who or what holds the power to take action? Inquiring minds want to know.

  6. As a lifelong ROCOR member , I for one am very pleased with the document !
    Needed to be said !.

  7. For me its real simple. Power grabs are of Satan. The State Department and the Patriarch are in bed together. What the State Department says the Patriarch does.

    These deviations from Orthodox ecclesiology, when translated from a theoretical plane into a practical plane, led to a deep crisis in world Orthodoxy.

  8. Hieromonk Michael says

    Only a synod of Patriarchs and heads of autochephalous Churches can resolve this matter and declare the throne of Constantinople vacant. Such a meeting would of necessity have to take to itself the temporary right to elect a new Patriarch or else something worse could befall The Church.

    • Hilber Nelson says

      Thanks. Has a synod ever assembled to take such action?

    • Perhaps all that’s necessary is to clarify the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. For example, currently the EP calls council. They could add that if two or more patriarchates request a council, the Ecumenical Patriarch must call one. They could add that the EP has no more privileges than any other patriarchate. They could stipulate that no patriarchate may bring in deposed clergy without the permission of the patriarchate who dispose them. They could stipulate that all clergy must be ordained by clergy in good standing within the Church. They could stipitate that relationships acknowledged by the patriarchates for 5 or more years must be respected. They could mandate that the role and responsibilities of the Ecumenical Patriarch must now be rotated among the the patriarchates.

      • Russia understands that they are not dealing with the most confident, responsible types when it comes to the bishops of the wider Church. I don’t think they are counting on any conciliar process to provide leadership. They are simply doing what they can to make sure their ship, the ROC, is rightly guided.

        Excommunicating the CP and those who recognize the OCU simply means they will no longer deal with these figures anymore. They have crossed a “red line”, so to speak. The rest of the Church is free to deal with them, or not, as they see fit.

        The damage of the OCU can be contained and reversed. But this will come as a consequence of military and political developments, not church conciliar developments. Other than that, the MP simply refuses to participate in any pan-Orthodox meetings at which the Fanariot schismatics are present. This effectively closes the door on their mischief as far as the ROC is concerned. If the rest of the Church wishes to move forward with discipline, then that is their prerogative.

        But the ROC will sail on.

  9. Jeff Moss says

    The headline in the Orthodox Times is telling: “Patriarch of Moscow has taken on role of protector of Orthodoxy.”

    Well…yes. Yes, he has.

    • As he should…. many dislike or fear to acknowledge this simple fact that more than half of the world’s Orthodox Christians are in the Patriarchate of Moscow, as are more than half of the world’s Orthodox bishops.

      I’ve read some data that 65-70% of the world’s Orthodox Chrisitians are in the Russian Orthodox Church…. not that they’re Russian, but the ROC is their hierarchical body. The ROC is incredibly multinational…. Metropolitan Jonah has said that across all the territories and dioceses of the ROC, on any given Sunday, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated in about 120 different languages.

      Simply because of numbers, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church will always play a significant role in worldwide Orthodox Christianity.

      One can dislike this fact as much as he wants to, but it’s still a fact. Best to honor this fact and own this reality – and also to absorb the implications of this reality – rather than whine or complain about it (or fight against it). Just my opinion.

      • Robert Burns:
        “…facts are chiels that winna ding
        An downa be disputed”

        […facts do not ring hollow
        and cannot be disputed]

    • I admittingly skipped through the article but I didn’t see them try and defend any of the claims made against the EP…but maybe I missed it.

  10. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    Is there a link to the original English version, in printable format, i.e., PDF or web page that has unnecessary elements like images stripped out when the Print command is invoked?

  11. The Russian Church brought Orthodoxy to the Korean penisula, this is true. The Korean mission itself has an interesting history, suffering greatly from the 20th century (as much of our Church did). The Russian Mission was cut off from the MP due to the Revolution, and it limped along under the Japanese occupation until the end of World War II, when the peninsula was divided. The last Russian priest who served the Mission was expelled by the authorities, undoubtedly because of Cold War politics. It was in the aftermath of the Korean War that the Orthodox flock in Korea decided to petition the Ecumenical Patriarchate to take them in. The Soviet Union actively aided North Korea (making the MP’s presence impossible). The Orthodox Church in Japan was also impossible, because the Koreans had thrown off Japanese rule. Realistically, the Greek Church was the only place they could go at the time (it was also the Greek army that took them in and helped them, building a church and pastoring them).

    So for decades, it was only the EP, and there was no MP presence on the Korean peninsula. In the 70s, Metropolitan Sotirios of Korea and Pisidia (Memory Eternal+) came to Korea as a hieromonk missionary. The EP Church in Korea as it now exists flowered under his fatherhood. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russians and eastern bloc people came to South Korea for economic opportunities. Metropolitan Sotirios served them in Church Slavonic, and had a chapel built for them (dedicated to St. Maxim the Greek)—in fact, the current Russian Bishop, Theophan, was the hieromonk who served in St. Maxims for over a decade, on loan from the MP.

    Once upon a time, there was cooperation. From 1991-2018, there was unity. Metropolitan Sotirios later became the Metropolitan of Antalya, which is where most of the Russians in Turkey live. He also ministered to them and by the Grace of God restored the Church there. Ask old Russian expats in Korea and Turkey about HE Sotirios, a true man of God. Sadly, the unity didn’t last, and the Korean Metropolis is a casualty of the continuing Ukraine disaster.

    It is hard to speak of canonical scruples, when both the EP and MP are not respecting boundaries. Matthew Namee has written an excellent piece on this:

    I think this is the best and most objective take on it. The MP and EP are compromised. “Repentance” is all that can be done.

    Lord, have mercy.

  12. I have finally been able to read the document.
    Ii is measured and thorough throughout.
    I agree with its arguments and conclusions.

    • It is terrible, but the reality is that the UOC has already been pushed into “schism.” The ROC in their council all but declared it so, complete with a nasty aside about the “cowardice” and schismatic ethos of those who don’t commemorate him (never mind that commemorating the Patriarch is only a Slavic tradition, and in the former Ottoman territories where the “Greek” Churches are, only the ruling bishop commemorates the Patriarch, with the priests commemorating their ruling bishop only). Metropolitan Onuphry apparently is a coward and a schismatic, as he is the one who approved the exceptions of commemoration where the situation for the UOC was nasty (in particular West Ukraine), and he ceased commemorating Patriarch Kyrill as his ruling Patriarch (rather as an equal, acting as an autocephalous ruling hierarch).

      As terrible as the EP’s mistakes and actions have been at times, the MP’s utter contempt for the UOC and throwing it under the bus is deplorable. “Canonicity” is slipping through the UOC’s fingers, by Moscow’s doing. The UOC is already slated for destruction, either by the OCU or by the MP, who already seems to be convinced that the UOC are Banderists as well, and will absorb the UOC territories back into Mother Russia.

      Utterly reprehensible. Patriarch Kyrill has stuck a shiv in Metropolitan Onuphry’s back. This betrayal compounds an already heart rending situation. Everybody is focused on the EP document, but little has been said about the veiled threats and complete disdain that the MP showed the UOC.

      • The NAZI in Ukraine, including Zelensky, wanted to destroy all things “Russian.” Their most important objective was to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church. The lives of the laity were threatened, they were harassed by Security Officers, they tried to starve them out of their homes. They took their property, parishes and monasteries from them turning relics into museum pieces. They then banned them altogether. Met. Onufry really had no choice but to declare himself and his Church independent from Russia for fear of what they’d do next. – He was trying to keep the people safe and the life of the Church intact.

        Does the following sound like Patriarch Kirill stuck a shive in Metropolitan Onufry’s back?

        “Proponents of the creation of an “independent church” in Ukraine are filled with anger and use the language of force, unlike His Beatitude Onufry. This was declared on December 9 by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus in his sermon after the Liturgy in the church of St. Tatiana, reports the Telegram channel of the press service of Patriarch Kirill.

        “Listen to those who are fighting for the so-called ‘independent united Church’, listen to the intonations, listen to the words,” said the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. “What anger and hatred can be heard in those speeches! And can malice and hatred come from God? No! Therefore, all those who are striving today to establish the so-called “independent Church” and who are ready to destroy the lives of other people, ruin their church life, break into temples and monasteries, capture them by force – can they be children of God?”

        Patriarch Kirill stressed that the leaders of the split are filled with hatred, and only talk about light, in fact being in darkness.

        “Just listen to His Beatitude Onufry, the hierarch of our Church, who never says anything bad even about schismatics,” noted Patriarch Kirill. “They pray, they cry that there is a split. But no one, after all, offers the state to overcome the split by force, and they don’t even speak harsh words about the dissenters. This is simple: some assume the heritage of the saints in the light, while others fall into the power of darkness.”

        The head of the Russian Orthodox Church noted that “it’s not about the Church’s to-be-or-not-to-be in Ukraine, as the campaigners of the Church’s independence say, but it’s about what the Church’s in Ukraine should be: the Church of God following God’s will, or the false church serving the devil and only clad in light clothes.”

        • Personally, I believe very much that the Ukronazis are a sub-set within the greater Ukraine that are truly evil and they and their Western masters are intent on destroying the Orthodox Church.

          There is no doubt that they are neo-pagans, just like the Nazis who controlled Germany in the last century.

    • Source: The issue of banning UOC was removed from VR agenda

      ‘ According to a UOJ source in the Verkhovna Rada, the initiators of the draft law No. 8371 failed to collect enough votes to pass it.

      On July 28, 2023, a bill on banning religious organizations affiliated with an aggressor country, which provides for a ban on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, was removed from the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada, UOJ sources report.

      According to our information, the reason for the cancellation of voting on draft law No. 8371 is an insufficient number of votes to make a decision … ‘

      • Well, thank God for that. Now they’ve got to figure out a way for the people to get back their parishes.

    • So far, despite the best efforts of mice and men, no one has been able to drive a wedge between the MP and the UOC. This is despite each church carrying out tradition in praying for victory for their respective sides. One has to think about the future of the UOC after Russia prevails in the current war. It should be obvious that the OCU has no future under a government turned toward the MP. Met. Onuphry has attempted to thread the needle of loyal opposition vis a vis the MP but none of his gestures at “independence” have made him less of an enemy toward the current Kievan regime in their eyes, despite his opposition to the Russian invasion.

      It’s a tragic situation but necessary given the Western coup d’etat in the Ukraine and subsequent attempts by the US to turn the state against Russia and Russians. The fundamental failure of all parties (besides Russia) is to conceive of the Ukraine as an entity distinct from Russia. Russia simply won’t allow that to be translated into reality.

  13. And yet again, His Beatitude Onuphriy celebrates the Feast Day of St Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles.

    St Vladimir, pray for us.

  14. never mind that commemorating the Patriarch is only a Slavic tradition, and in the former Ottoman territories where the “Greek” Churches are, only the ruling bishop commemorates the Patriarch, with the priests commemorating their ruling bishop only

    Certain number of Bishops stopped commemorating Patriarch Kiril , not only priests. Nobody is saying that UOC is in shism because of priests, but because of some Bishops who STOP commemorating their ruling Bishop which was and still is Patriarch Kiril… And when this happens it is called shism in Orthodox Church. MP did not through them under the bus but show love and humility to call it shism. On the other hand some in the Church think that icconomia is not appropriate in this case as shism is the worst thing.

    Whatever it will be, this is kind of summary of the current situation in the eyes of the UOC.

    who already seems to be convinced that the UOC are Banderists as well, and will absorb the UOC territories back into Mother Russia.
    🙂 Where did you find that?
    This is what the Bishop Leonid said but he did not talk about Banderist 🙂

    • Jeff Moss says

      It struck me as very funny that Metropolitan Leonid (in that article you quoted at the end of your post) has been nicknamed by some in the Russian Church as “the Church version of Prigozhin.”

  15. Flowery words mean nothing in war, only deeds. The Moscow Patriarchate continues to be tone-deaf and utterly incapable of relating to the UOC in a meaningful way. Metropolitan Onuphry signed off on those decisions that Patriarch Kyrill deplores. At least Metropolitan Leonid in Africa has the courage of his convictions and openly calls the UOC schismatic. He isn’t alone in that opinion. Ukrainian Autocephalism is synonymous with Banderism in their eyes, and see it as something to be eliminated. The statement on the ROC was diplomatic and mealy-mouthed, probably reflecting the sharp divisions in the ROC on the issue. Metropolitan Leonid represents the “Banderists one and all!” faction, whereas Metropolitan Hilarion of Budapest represents the more diplomatic wing.

    The MP is like an estranged husband who refuses to believe that his wife no longer loves him and that the marriage is over. You can blame “outside forces” all you like, but the reality is that Ukraine will never accept Russian rule again. The parts of Ukraine which would be amenable to such rule have already been annexed. I was disheartened by the EP’s actions, but this to me is even worse, because it is inexplicable. How can the MP say they love and support the UOC when they refuse to hear them? Even Metropolitan Neophytos sharply rebuked them, saying they should have given the UOC a Tomos long ago, and chastised them for their hardness of heart and inability to foresee this disaster.

    The “wedge” between the MP and the UOC is already there. The war did that. Russian bombs and soldiers are doing a good job of turning “the middle” against Russia. Western Ukraine already hated Russia. The far east of the country has already “rejoined” Russia. The rest of the country was on the fence, more or less. The war has changed that.

    The UOC is autocephalous in all but name. They haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but the destruction of the Odessa Cathedral and the continuation of the war may change the calculus yet again. What does the MP expect? They are pretending like nothing has changed. That is not the reality. It isn’t going to go back to the way it was before. The UOC’s existence is threatened on both sides. It isn’t just the OCU and Ukrainian government they have to worry about. If Russia wins, are they just going to meekly accept liquidation and capitulation to the Russian ruling authority? Will they resist and become an underground church?

    • “Tone-deaf, utterly incapable, and meaningful way” are terms that are useful only to the degree that your audience knows what the heck you’re talking about. In the same paragraph, you mention 5 or 6 names (I stopped counting after 3).

      Moving on to your second paragraph: You know what else no longer matters when a marriage is over? What the estranged husband likes or dislikes about the situation. No one expects Ukraine to like anything and thanks to NATO and the West who “rule them” it’s out of their hands. Losing this war means they no longer have choices. They should have taken Russia’s many offers which included remaining neutral. But what do they do? They open their doors to NATO to help them fight a war that raised their own body count to the point of genocide, as there aren’t that many men left to father their own children.

      This war wasn’t about the MP. Not even a little bit. The MP’s problem was the AZOV Nazi and the EP’s attempt to legitimize them, while they took possession of their property and brutalized their clergy. Every bishop who was not financially beholden to the EP agreed with the MP. There was/is no wedge there. The wedge is between the EP and the rest of the Church which includes the MP.

      The UOC declared their independence (not autocephaly) from Russia so they wouldn’t come under anymore scrutiny than they already were. They can’t “pull the trigger” on autocephaly. Only the Russian Church can declare their autocephaly which they very may well do when all this is over. The MP and the rest of Russia look on the UOC as martyrs. They are extremely sympathetic to the UOC.

      The war was sparked by the creation of the OCU Nazi, as they had aligned themselves with the West. I imagine the discovery of biolabs funded by the Pentagon had a lot to do with it. That and the fact that these biolabs were creating bio weapons genetically predisposed to targeting Russian people.

      There is no “if” about Russia winning. There never was. It didn’t have to be this way either. Ukraine could have followed the Minsk agreement and kept NATO and the West out of their country but they chose a different path and this was way before Zelensky got there. The U.S. started training the Ukrainian army back in 2014 (perhaps even before).

      • Ukraine doesn’t have to “accept Russian rule”. It will simply be imposed by force. That is what the war is about, after all.

        There are those in the Ukraine, in the eastern, southern and central regions, who welcome Russian liberation from the Ukronazis. Then there are many who wish to be Western as well as the Banderist faction. But that all goes to show that the Ukraine is more of a region than a political polity (Orthodox, schismatic, Greek Catholic, etc.).

        In the end, after Russia has won the war (which is inevitable), many, many Ukrainians will turn on their former colonial masters when they wake up to the utter carnage the West has subjected them too needlessly. Zelensky and his cohorts were ready to make a deal in March-April of 2022, at a far lower cost and the West prevented them from doing it. Even now they are forbidden to negotiate.

        The Ukies will eventually turn on the West just like the Chechens did.

        • I never said anyone had to “accept Russian rule.” I said, “No one expects Ukraine to like anything and thanks to NATO and the West who “rule them” it’s out of their hands. Losing this war means they no longer have choices.”

          • I know. David said it.

            You’re right though that Ukraine has lost agency in this mess. Any independent Ukraine died in the Maidan coup. Since then, America has ruled it as a colony. As a result, now Russia will rule it as a satellite.

            It was America that destroyed Ukrainian independence and freedom.

        • Misha: “Ukraine is more of a region than a political polity
          (Orthodox, schismatic, Greek Catholic, etc.). … ”

          As Winston Churchill observed before Indian independence: “India is
          a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the equator,”

          The establishment of Pakistan, Bangladesh and
          Sri Lanka prove that his analysis was correct.

          A similar process is working itself out in Ukraine.

    • If Russia wins, are they just going to meekly accept liquidation and capitulation to the Russian ruling authority? Will they resist and become an underground church?

      🙂 This is actully really funny you can find this only on the web orthodox sites. So MP is after liquidation of UOC:)

      Lets put in different prospective, so if the Russia loses, will they (UOC), go under and fight or join EP sect and its heresy and hail Slava Ukraini and blessed LGBT for donation to Ukrainian Army

      • VSWR: Will they resist and become an underground church?

        Under Ukronazi rule, they are becoming an underground church.

        • meekly accept liquidation and capitulation to the Russian ruling authority
          Like how can you be Orthodox and say things like this.
          Something is fundamentaly wrong there in your belief.

          • First of all, it wasn’t Brendan who said this. It was David. Secondly, have you heard of the Beatitudes? Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” If this doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps what’s “fundamentally wrong” is your catechesis with respect to the Church. Of all the things David has said (again, not Brendan), this particular comment is probably as “Orthodox” as it gets. We are to humbly submit to all civil authorities.

            You watch. Russia will be the only country who will help Ukraine rebuild. The West has already abandoned them much to the chagrin of Zelensky.

            Russia has nothing against the Ukrainian people with whom they share their DNA. It is the people who hijacked them that they have a problem with: The AZOV Nazi, NATO, the money launderers, the traffickers, the corrupt leaders like Poroshenko & Zelensky, and finally the guy in the robes who betrayed the Bride of Christ by splitting her right down the middle for a fistful of cash and a place at the table of the powerful and the elite. – However, now that he’s served his purpose, like Ukraine, the West is done with him. They’ve got a new puppy now. If Elpi had the ears of a Basset Hound, he’d be tripping all over himself, blissfully unaware that one day, sooner rather than later, he’ll join the other dog chained to the fence in the backyard of “nobody cares.”

            • You watch. Russia will be the only country who will help Ukraine rebuild.
              For us Orthodox Serbs we appretaite your effort in defending the Church. God bless You and your efforts.

              • And we appreciate you, the Orthodox Serbs, for remaining faithful to the premise, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . .”

              • Yes, it will not be Blackrock but rather Moscow that ends up rebuilding the Ukraine. As Russia gains control over all of the territory that was previously known as “Ukraine”, whatever plans that the West has for it will become moot and it will become Russia’s responsibility. That was known by Russia going in. “Demilitarization and denazification” are impossible without control of the entire country. Any agreements with the West would go the way of the Minsk Accords.

                Russia will have to conquer it all, rule it and rebuild it. Now the structures in place in various regions may differ. Russia is annexing part of the country and how it rules the rest, directly or indirectly, is a matter of speculation. But if one square meter of Ukraine is left uncontrolled by Moscow, it will be used as a staging point for anti-Russian attacks. If Russia controls everything, one way or another, right up to the Polish border, then NATO will have to attack from NATO territory.

                And that’s a whole ‘nother ball game.

            • Gail, that’s one reason why Russia hasn’t carpet-bombed the Ukraine. Not only would it be anti-Christian to do so, it would add to the cost to rebuild it.

  16. Gail,

    I should have written more clearly and concisely. Here is what I mean, put more simply.

    The MP is not listening or hearing the UOC at all. The UOC has asked, no, BEGGED the MP to do 3 important things:

    1.) Join them in opposing this war, and petition Putin to stop it.
    2.) Stop speaking for them.
    3.) Respect the decisions they have made as an INDEPENDENT body.

    The MP has done none of the above. Instead, the MP declares “support” but in the next breath chides the UOC for their “cowardice” and “schismatic tendencies.”

    How does one interpret such “mixed signals” (which is the most charitable spin one could put on it). I personally find the MP’s duplicity towards the UOC to be diabolical.

    The goal of Russia isthe reestablishment of historical Rus, a “Greater Russia.” It was never about NATO or restoring the Soviet Union. Belarus and Ukraine are “not real countries” and the reunion of the three was Putin’s long term plan, all along.

    Putin doesn’t want the Stans (descendents of the Mongol horde—too many Muslims is trouble) or the Baltics (Lithuania and Co, ancient enemies of Rus) except to keep them in check. It was always about just Belarus and Ukraine (and to a lesser extent Georgia, but that has more to do with the Black Sea, as Georgians also were heavy resisters of Russification). This is primal and personal for Russia.

    Autocephaly and true independence for the Ukrainian nation was never on the table. Russia’s plan was for Belarus and Ukraine to exist as half-states, integrating more and more into Russia proper until one day, they disappear off the map organically, with reunion becoming a mere formality. Belarus is on it’s way towards this reality. Ukraine was supposed to also follow Belarus, but the Ukrainian nationalists wouldn’t allow it, because they wanted true separation from Russia.

    Russia was never going to allow this separation. The Maidan was not engineered by the West. The Maidan was bubbling under the surface since 1991. The West helped it along, but it wasn’t a creation of the West. I think Russia’s plan was for Galicia to pull the separatist act first, in which the Russians could say “good riddance!” and implement the Belarus plan in Ukraine. Of course Western involvement reversed this, putting Russia on the defensive, leading to where we are now.

    The MP is fully on board with this plan to “restore Rus.” That is the only explanation for their actions. Their thinking is it will be better once they are “returned to Mother Russia.” Then they can be “healed.” “Re-educated.” This also explains Russia’s ho-hum reaction to Finland and Sweden joining NATO. Russia doesn’t care about Finns and Swedes. NATO was always a secondary sticking point. Minsk and Kiev are Russian cities. OUR LAND.

    This is why I react against the “getting autocephaly the right way” arguments of people who support the MP. Moscow was never going to allow that, because Belarus and Ukraine are Russia to them. Perhaps this is why the Ukrainian nationalists are so virulent in their actions, because they see this reality more clearly than the West does. This is purely about blood, faith, and land. This is a war that pre-dates modern sensibilities, and as such is inexplicable to them.

    I see Ukraine as a separate country. Many here do not. That is where the disconnect is. Any concessions Russia made for Ukraine prior to the war was a way to get them back on the Belarus track, and eventual reunion.

    Let’s just drop all the pretenses. The MP is all in on the reunification of Rus, because for them it is as much a religious war as a political one. Anyone who opposes the reunification of Rus is an enemy of God. The Ukrainians disagree.

    • David, where are you getting your information? This is a legitimate question. Please give me a few of the sources you’re using.

      • I posted a reply to this, but perhaps it got chewed up by the internet. I will post a more concise summary:

        The information on the UOC is from UOJ, as they are an excellent resource—not even orthochristian reports everything they do.

        As for the other stuff, Peter Falk is my source. I see the facts that are not in dispute about this whole mess, and it doesn’t add up. “The little details” bother me. Russia’s rationale for this war makes no sense if you take the “NATO argument” at face value, attacking Ukraine has triggered the expansion of NATO in a very dangerous way. Ceding the entire Baltic and expanding the NATO line (to where the monks at Valaam can wave at the NATO flag) is illogical and, dare I say, stupid.

        Same with Ukraine—-they are more militarized now than ever before, with hardware they would not have gotten had the war never happened. The Baltic states, Poland et al are very “militarized” now. Ukraine joining NATO was never serious. Russia had multiple means of soft power to torpedo a Ukraine NATO bid. Germany would have likely done it for them.

        That leaves Donbass, the strongest argument in favor of Russian intervention. What kind of intervention? If they wanted to save the people of Donbass, they could have done it without full scale war.

        In short: The security argument doesn’t wash. You don’t need a cache of podcasts by retired West Point grads to see that. All you need is a rumpled trenchcoat and a cigar, examining the arguments that don’t add up.

        • ” If they wanted to save the people of Donbass,
          they could have done it without full scale war.”

          Which was why they launched the SMO
          with just a very small expeditionary force
          to shock Ukraine to the negotiating table.
          It worked fine. Negotiations then began
          and a settlement in principle was worked out.
          Then Boris flew in – with petrol and matches…

          • A settlement in principle? Much is made of those talks, but what evidence is there that a deal was that close? Pro-Russian blogs make hay of that, but I haven’t seen any actual credible evidence that a deal was that close.

            • Former Israeli PM: West Blocked Russo-Ukraine Peace Deal

              ‘ Former Prime Minister of Israel Naftali Bennet, who led the country for the first several months of the Russo-Ukrainian war, has said the United States and its closest Western allies “blocked” his attempts to broker a peace agreement between the two East Slavic nations.

              In a wide-ranging, nearly five-hour interview with Israeli journalist Hanoch Daum posted to the former prime minister’s YouTube channel on Saturday, February 4th, Bennet—who played a central role in mediating between the two sides following a request from Zelensky at the war’s outset—said “there was a good chance of reaching a ceasefire” before key Western powers “blocked” his attempts. …

              He further explained that during his efforts to broker an agreement, both sides agreed to significant concessions. President Putin, Bennet said, made two big concessions: first, he promised not to kill Zelensky, and second, he reversed his position on demanding the disarmament of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Zelensky, for his part, said that he would not seek NATO membership, which the former Israeli prime minister argued was the primary “reason” for Russia’s military incursion.

              Bennet, who described the concessions as “huge steps [for] each side,” said his impression was that “both sides very much wanted a ceasefire.” He described both Putin’s and Zelensky’s approaches to the negotiations as “very pragmatic.” …

              “So they blocked it?” the interviewer asked, to which Bennett responded: “Basically, yes. They blocked it…” ‘

        • I remember it as though it was yesterday: at precisely the moment that the godforsaken media stopped bludgeoning us to death with covid, Russia invaded Ukraine.

          Incredible timing

    • David: “Autocephaly and true independence for
      the Ukrainian nation was never on the table.”

      In the eyes of the Ukrainian Government (post-Maidan),
      the inhabitants of the Donbass were not part of the nation.
      Their offered options were de-Russification and assimilation,
      expulsion from their homes, or extermination from the Earth.
      The same options were to be offered, in time, to Crimea.

      The remainder would be serfs on the Blackrock Latifundium.

      • It’s amazing Brendan, that nobody in the West was told this. It’s always been the St Zelensky/Slava Ukrainia story.

        • Here’s a 10 min video from 2014 on who were the real terrorists
          and how the USA chose Ukraine’s new ‘democratic’ goverbment:

          Ukraine Crisis – What You’re Not Being Told

          [Video – 10:36]

          Forget Vicky’s cussing and focus instead on
          the colonial diktat content of what she says.
          Ukraine lost its independence in 2014…

    • Of course, this will not be settled by dialog but by force of arms. That is the way the West wants it and Russia will oblige.

    • Johann Sebastian says

      My ancestors came from Polish Galicia and Austrian Subcarpathia. They always saw themselves as Russians under the heel of an oppressive and heretical foreign yoke. My grandparents and great grandparents—born during the late 19th and early 20th centuries—felt that the idea of a “Ukrainian nation” was an artificial construction designed to drive a wedge between the people of Rus’. Yes, we have our differences and our squabbles, but we are one people and anyone who says otherwise are either our own who have been brainwashed or outsiders who are either ignorant or actively support the fracturing of our people. A united Rus’ must include *all the Russias* from Galicia to Muscovy.

  17. he Maidan was not engineered by the West. The Maidan was bubbling under the surface since 1991. The West helped it along, but it wasn’t a creation of the West.

    • VSWR,

      Revolutions don’t just come out of nowhere. Conditions have to be right. “Revolution” has to be in the air. The conditions in Ukraine made the Maidan inevitable. The West lit the match, but the powder was already on the ground. It’s like blaming Germany for the Russian Revolution. If it wasn’t Lenin, it would have been another guy.

      • Nonsense.

        Victoria Nuland is on record as bragging that the US poured over $5B into the Ukraine in order to foment the coup. How do you think all those people could afford to “spontaneously” appear, day after day? Yanukovich had been democratically elected, the last legitimate leader of Ukraine.

        It was a regime change operation right out of the CIA playbook. They even gave it a corny name, as they usually do: “Revolution of Dignity”.

        But it was all staged and coordinated bs. They overthrew the legitimate govt and installed the puppets we have seen since. They did it in order to attack Russia and achieve the same result there.

        It’s all business to them David, nothing more. They’re gangsters. They operate on behalf of the fascist oligarchy that runs this country.

        Grow up.

        • Of course the CIA were involved. They are going to do what they do.

          That doesn’t change the fundamental reality. The CIA didn’t create the anti-Russian sentiment, they merely stoked it to a fever pitch and provided the cash to Ukrainian hands that were already eager to receive it.

          This is a key problem. The Russians seem to be incapable of understanding why the hatred exists. They dismiss it as demonic (the demons are involved, but like the CIA, the demons merely encourage feelings/passions that are already there), wring their hands and refuse to reflect in any way as to how their actions may have contributed or continue to contribute to its existence. It is akin to the “they hate us for our freedom” nonsense spewed about the Middle East.

          Russia and Russian Orthodoxy used to be more reflective than this. Compare the “rebirth of our country” jingoism to the humility found in the book Father Arseny, for instance. Night and Day.

          “They” will do what they do. That doesn’t give us license to do the same.

      • The capitalists funded the communist revolution in Russia. See Antony C Sutton’s book:

        Part of this funding involved massive technology transfers from America to communist Russia, starting from 1918 and lasting at least well into the 20th century, including throughout Stalin’s tenure, and the entirety of the cold war, which many saw as genuine (and not contrived) struggle between the communist east and the capitalist west.

        Some have said that the capitalist’s hold on communist Russia ended when Stalin refused to co-operate with them, thus giving rise to the cold war, but if this was true, then Anthony Sutton couldn’t have written the other book below, which outlines the abovementioned technology transfers.

      • There were other communist revolutions in the world at the same time: Bavaria, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Portugal. The conditions were ripe for the USA as well. The reason these other revolutions failed is because Lenin was the “right man” at the “right time”. The revolution in Russia was no sure thing, it took a five-year long civil war between the Whites and the Reds for the Bolsheviks to consolidate their power.

        In other words, it was because Lenin was the “right man” who showed up at the right time. We forget that it was not the Bolsheviks who overthrew the Tsar, it was the liberal republicans led by Alexander Kerensky who softened up the old regime and whose incompetence greased the skids for Lenin.

  18. Gail,

    All of my information about the UOC comes from UOJ, an excellent resource for what is happening with the UOC.

    As for the rest of it, my “sources” are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Peter Falk.

    Looking at the facts that are not in dispute, there are some conclusions that can be made. Alot of this stuff doesn’t add up. I am of course, open to correction.

    My contention was and is that it is all about “Rus.” The ideological and religious evidence (Dugin and the Russky Mir respectively) is there. Additionally, Russia’s actions in this entire crisis only make sense in light of this worldview. Russia gave these reasons for the war:

    1.) Ukraine joining NATO and “abandoning neutrality”
    2.) The oppression of the Russophone East Ukraine
    3.) The overall threat to Russian security caused by a “militarized Ukraine.”

    The NATO argument is silly. If NATO was such a concern, why would they start a war that would bring about the very thing they are trying to prevent? Ukraine was not in the position to join NATO in 2021. Heck, NATO doesn’t want them even now. All of the NATO talk was bluster, just as it is now. Russia has one of the best intelligence services in the world. Their dossier on Zelensky could probably fill up a shelf. They didn’t know the guy was full of it? That is certainly obvious now, but I have no doubt the Russians knew it even then, too. There were a number of avenues of soft power that Russia had that could have quickly torpedoed a Ukraine NATO bid (if the Germans and Hungarians didn’t get there first, which was more likely to happen). Additionally, attacking Ukraine paved the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Congratulations Russia! You just ceded control of the entire Baltic Sea to your enemy and made it so the monks at Valaam can wave at the NATO flag. How does that help Russian security? I don’t buy it for a second.

    A militarized Ukraine is a threat to Russian security? Well, attacking Ukraine made sure that every NATO country is thoroughly “militarized” with their weapons pointed in Russia’s direction. With the Ukrainian army getting hardware that they would not have gotten before the war. Again, it makes no sense for Russia to do something that would increase the threats to their security, not decrease them.
    Even if Russia “wins” the war, Kiev will become Peak Troubles Belfast overnight. How does that help Russian security?

    I’ve heard the “biolabs” story. Again, Russian intelligence knew nothing about this? Engineered weapons to target Russians specifically? Using technology from a James Cameron movie? The FSB just whistled while these things were being built? To quote our low esteemed president, “C’mon man!”

    The Donbass issue is the only solid one here, and that is certainly a strong argument for Russian intervention. The question is, what kind of intervention? If it was about Donbass, then why not confine your military operation there? Let the Ukrainians fire first.

    In short: The “security” angle that the Russians are trying to sell internationally doesn’t add up. That leaves 3 options:

    1.) The Russians are stupid (they aren’t).
    2.) The Russians miscalculated (possible, but on this scale that inevitably leads you to #1)
    3.) There is another reason.

    To quote Doyle: When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however unlikely, must be the truth.

    If Russia’s UN rationale is to be believed, it is a bumbling Charlie Foxtrot of a mess that runs counter to stated goals. Looking at the spiritual angle, it all comes into sharper focus. If Vladimir Putin agrees that it is a spiritual battle for Rus, then he will do what is in his power to facilitate the integrity of Holy Rus. From that POV, everything Russia has done makes perfect sense, is logical, and in fact NECESSARY. Of course he won’t come out and say it is as holy war, but Patriarch Kyrill’s words combined with Putin’s speeches certainly give weight to the idea.

    Commenters here and in the Russian Orthodox sphere certainly think it’s a holy war. Not far fetched at all.

    • Of course the Russians knew about them. That’s why they went into Ukraine.

      • So Russia allowed these biolabs to be built? They didn’t use their contacts/agents in the Ukrainian government to sabotage or otherwise stop them? Why didn’t they shout their existence to the world before the war? Russia has enough “friendly nations” in the UN to make a fuss. Why didn’t they?

        With all due respect, the biolabs story has all the markers of “Belgian babies used for bayonet practice” level propaganda.

        • Yes, Russia knew about the biolabs. Yes, they shouted to the world about their existence (including to the UN). They did stop them. They called it a “military operation.” The first thing Russia did was bomb those labs.

          While I was publishing some of the invoices from the labs to the Pentagon, Wikipedia was still calling it a “conspiracy theory.” The “world” is stupid, David. Take a look for yourself.

          Then The Guardian wrote this story.

          • You know who else knew about the biolabs? Victoria Nuland, who when speaking before the Senate in March of 2022, admitted that they were there.

            • Nate Trost says

              Russia has never presented any credible evidence of bioweapons programs. Which is not surprising because they don’t exist. The mere existence of facilities in Ukraine that could be called “biolabs” in scare quotes is treated as proof of said fictional bioweapons programs regardless of what the facilities actually are, or what their modern usage is.

              Russia makes a sport out of dishonestly spinning statements that are not actually admissions of what Russia claims they are. Especially with Nuland, whether it’s the biolabs statement or the $5 billion invested in Ukraine over the 20+ years of post-Soviet independence magically turning into a $5 billion check with ‘Russophobic 2014 coup’ in the memo line.

              The vibe is kind of like watching some edgelord atheist going “Oho! So your priest ADMITS the church is an establishment that serves underage minors alcohol! Gotcha!” When the question was “Do children receive communion in church?”

              “Russia said it! I believe it! That settles it!” might work for some folks, but obviously not yours truly.

              • Russia didn’t have to. Victoria “Fv@& the EU” did that.

              • You know why Russia never presented any credible evidence of the bioweapons? They didn’t have to. We provided it. The existence of these labs is literally common knowledge at this point. These US bio-laboratories are funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) under a $ 2.1 billion military program– Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) and are located in former Soviet Union countries such as Georgia and Ukraine, the Middle East, South East Asia, and Africa.


                More evidence: 2011, The Lugar Center, Andrew C. Weber (on the right) – US Assistant Secretary of Defense (2009-2014), US DoD Deputy Coordinator for Ebola Response (2014-2015), is currently a Metabiota ( the US contractor) employee:

                You discount everything and produce nothing.

                “Nate said it!” So, we should believe it? Is that the way this works?

                • Nate Trost says

                  I believe I’ve linked to explainers on the DTRA and the CBEP program on this blog in the past. I can’t help it if you don’t bother to read my reference material! The purpose and mission of the program, the facilities it covers, the projects, and the budgets are all public knowledge and have nothing to do with bioweapons, regardless of what Russia claims.

                  So no, I disagree, what “we” (the US) have provided is evidence there are *no* bioweapons programs. Indeed, making sure no such programs continued after the breakup of the Soviet Union was one of the core missions of the programs you reference!

                  • I can’t recall a single instance where you’ve provided any “reference material” on anything. Let’s turn this around. You prove those labs had nothing to do with bioweapons, then you can comment again.

                    Your only comment after we proved the labs existed.

                    Nate Trost

                    This particular disinformation campaign relies on misrepresenting the DTRA. It presumes the targets are either going to 1) not bother to investigate what it actually is and what it does, or 2) refuse to believe the actual truth, because it contradicts their existing beliefs.

                    Given that this has done the rounds in the QAnon cult and the Covid-19/vaccine conspiracy circles, the latter is pretty much a given.

                    Strong rhetorical energy going around equivalent to telling a pharmacist “Oho, so you admit you are a drug dealer!”

                    • Nate Trost says


                      I would appreciate you removing my email address from your archived quote of my post. Thank you!

                      Thank you for finding what I posted on the DTRA, I thought I included a link to its history back then, my mistake! I can provide some if you’re interested. The NIH history is probably the most comprehensive while still accessible:

                      As to your request, to the casual observer, argumentum ad ignorantium probably isn’t a good look, but it is your site.

                    • Looks like your reference also knew about the bioweapons being created in Ukraine.


                      Ukraine 4 BSL-3
                      4 w/ BSAT (B. anthracis, Y. pestis, F. tularensis, B. abortus, Guanarito virus) (Some part of FSU weapons program). Min Health No funding described Operational Reference Lab/Culture Collection, bacteriologic and arbovirus research, surveillance of ‘plague’ diseases

        • ‘ With all due respect, the biolabs story has all the markers of
          “Belgian babies used for bayonet practice” level propaganda. ‘

          In the above statement, ‘all due’ = ‘no’

          As for: ‘Belgian babies … level propaganda‘, see:

          Reveals UKRAINIAN BIOLAB Concerns

          [Video – 08:53]

          • I don’t think it is disputed that all the major powers play with germs. COVID proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. What is in dispute, is the idea that NATO was developing bioweapons to target Russians. With what happened in Wuhan, there are legitimate concerns, because all it takes is a missile taking out one of those facilities and spreading God knows what.

            One does not necessarily mean the other.

            PS. Disagreement is not “disrespect.”

            • David, the labs in Ukraine belonged to the Pentagon. Not NATO.

              • In this narrative, aren’t they one and the same?

                • I can see how one could look at it this way. The current secretary general is former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

                • “…aren’t they one and the same?”

                  On October 25, 1973, during the Yom Kippur War,
                  President Nixon put all American forces worldwide
                  on full nuclear alert – including those attached to NATO.
                  This was despite the fact that these NATO attached forces
                  were supposedly under NATO (not US) military Command.

                  How did the United States react to the Arab-Israeli War of 1973

                  The NATO allies were not consulted.
                  So no, they are not one and the same.

            • ‘ Disagreement is not “disrespect.” ‘

              The historical ‘Belgian babies used for bayonet practice’ lie
              provides the context for the invocation of ‘all due respect’;

              …and context is all.

    • David,

      Your NATO argument misses the point. For the West, having non-NATO country as a battering ram against Russia is essentially a risk-free way to war with Russia without ‘officially’ warring with Russia. Ukraine is the patsy if the West, a mere expendable tool that they ultimately care little about.

      Eventually the Ukrainians will wake up and realize they’ve been used.

      • David, NATO clearly wanted to provoke Russia. This goes all the way back to the 90s, when they promised that they would not allow NATO to expand “one in to the East”. The fact that it expanded 1,000 kms to the East is clear proof of provocation.

        Then there’s the fact that Zbigniew Brzenzski’s life long dream was to carve up Russia into five countries. (Which, in fairness to him, he backed off from in his last years.) That too, is a provacation.

        Where you are correct is in the misjudgments of both the West and Russia. Russia thought with a minor incursion, Zelensky would be brought to the negotiating table. Actually, they were right about that.

        As for the West, a great percentage of us are dunderheads who really believe that the Russians are a bunch of drunken trolls whose idea of craftsmanship is hitting a TV with a wrench. The whole “gas station masquerading as a country with nukes” nonsense.

        Trouble is, many of still believe this crap.

        . However here is where many (most) in the West misjudged Russia.

        • The thing for your gentle readers to understand, George, is that it is all just business to those purveying the lies.

          The CIA, NED, State Department, etc. absolutely must have some grand enemy in order to justify their existence. Russia serves that purpose. To the extent that China is allying itself with Russia, it risks being taken from the current ambiguous classification to the enemy classification by the powers that be in the West. They can’t afford to lose China as a trading partner. It would be far worse than it has been with Russia and that debacle is sending Europe into a depression and the US into a recession.

          Globalism, Inc. makes more money off of Russia as an enemy than they could as an ally or competitor. Russia has immense natural resources which the West covets. These assets, and the nukes, and its size are its sources of power. The West wants a hostile takeover of a competitor.

          As Russia became more powerful and self-sufficient, a number of those previously committed to its destruction and division – like Zbig – reconsidered their positions somewhat. But the need for a Кысь, a Slynx, remains.

          You have to consider for a moment the economic effect it would have if there were peace on earth and good will toward men. Many consider such a possibility as negative – bad business. You’re looking at a massive downgrade of the military and intelligence services of all major powers and a downturn in all the resources they consume. That’s outside the business model.

          Think of major powers as organized crime enterprises. That best explains what is going on in the Ukraine. It is a classic “bust out”.

          Mafia acquires an interest in a viable business, usually through gambling debts. They force the owner to buy all sorts of easily sellable products on credit, making out the borrowing capacity of the business. The products are brought in the front door and immediately taken out the backdoor and sold at a discount (think Goodfellas). When the last penny of credit is expended and the business falls into such debt that there is no escape but a turbulent bankruptcy which would uncover the scam, the mafia torches the place and collects the insurance. Game over.

          Ukraine is the same way. All the military aid and govt aid and the loan guarantees built up the country into an indebted tool of the US. Then the war commenced and there was yet more aid in various forms. The politicians and the MIC profited and continue to profit handsomely from all of this. The politicians skim off the top and get kickbacks through various business vehicles and the MIC gets paid directly to supply and resupply weapons. Even the upper eschelons of the Ukrainian military and govt make money, both directly and through the resale of weapons.

          It goes on as long as a profit can be squeezed out of it. When the last penny has been extracted, they shut down the main operation, abandoning the people and leaving the destroyed infrastructure to Blackrock, etc., to rebuild, extracting further assistance from the US taxpayer.

          Rinse and repeat. Far and wide.

        • NATO is going to NATO. That doesn’t explain why Russia did what it did, if Russian security and NATO was such a concern. Attacking Ukraine has brought about the very scenario that Russia claims to be trying to prevent.


          The security argument doesn’t hold. Why is Ukraine a red line and not the Baltics? Why the shoulder shrug with Finland joining?

          All this stuff about “bleeding the American MIC” is copium. Are the Russians so stupid that they would fall for it, endangering their security? The only thing that makes that argument sensible is that the Russian MIC is “in on it.” That of course raises a whole other set of questions about who actually runs the Russian government.

          Russia isn’t stupid. Belarus and Ukraine are “Russian territory,” and as such that is why Ukraine was a red line (as opposed to the Baltics), and why Russia will not allow Ukraine to disconnect itself and join the West. Kiev is the mother of Russian cities. Ukraine’s independence was always “temporary” in their eyes. That is what this is really about. Of course, that rationale won’t fly in the UN, so they have to have “legitimate reasons.”

          If Russia is fighting to preserve “Rus,” just drop the pretenses and be open about it (many commenters in the Russian Orthodox sphere certainly are). Of course, if that is the reason for the war, that explains the virulence of the Ukrainian Nationalist movement.

          “Rus.” That is the only way to explain this Charlie Foxtrot. The alternative is stupidity, on a scale that rivals 1914.

          • I can answer that easily: none of the Baltic states have the firepower to act as a battering ram against Russia. As for Finland, they also don’t have the manpower and firepower to act in such a manner either.

            Let’s take stock of the situation:

            1. Russia wanted to demilitarize the Ukraine. Check.
            2. Russia didn’t want the Ukraine to join NATO. Check.
            3. Russia wanted the Ukraine to remain neutral. At the end of this, the Ukraine will be degraded (possible “check”.)
            4. Russia wanted to denazify the Ukraine. Process ongoing.
            5. The Ukraine is suffering a debilitating demographic collapse, losing perhaps 12 million people to the West. Very few of them are going to want to go back. Hard to see how it can rebound to ever be a serious threat to Russia going forward.

            Now what did the West/EU/NATO want?

            1. To punish Russia through sanctions. Didn’t happen.
            2. To punish Russia’s economy. Didn’t happen. (Actually the opposite happened.)
            3. To isolate Russia from China. Don’t make me laugh.
            4. To make Russia a pariah to the rest of the world. Didn’t happen.

            Let me put it this way: on Feb 24, 2022, the Ukraine had the second largest army in NATO, second only to the US and more than Turkey. 750,000 men out of a total population of 38,000,000. Now it has an army of perhaps 350,000 out of a population of ~24,000,000. That’s 100,000 more men than the Greek Army has (out of a total population of 11,000,000).

            Are you beginning to see the picture?

            The Russians don’t care about glitzy CNN-reported fireworks like we saw during the Gulf War, reported in breathless fashion by Wolf Blitzer. What they care about is whether they achieved their objectives.

            • The Baltics don’t need to be a “battering ram.” Russia ceded control of the entire Baltic Sea to NATO. How does that make any sense from a strategic and security standpoint?

              Ukraine is not demilitarized. They have more hardware than ever before. Even if Russia wins, it will be Northern Ireland and Gaza X 100. A great number of Ukrainians hate Russia with the same intensity of peak IRA and Hamas. No demilitarization there.

              Ukraine was never going to join NATO. It was a lever of pressure on Russia. Ukraine was and is a basket case. Germany and others didn’t want them in 2021, and they don’t want them now. Heck, they don’t even want them in the EU.

              Ukraine will not be neutral. There will be a quisling government, where officials will have to sleep with one eye open and checkpoints will dot the land. Think the West Bank on a Sunny Tuesday. Money and weapons will continue to flow into Ukraine from supporters. Who bankrolled the IRA? Again, to quote our fearless leader: “C’mon Man!”

              The neo-Nazis in Ukraine are an issue, but war tends to create strange bedfellows. Who would have thought that white skinheads would fight under the leadership of a scruffy Jew?

              As for what the West wanted, they saw and see Russia as an enemy, that is true. I think what they actually wanted was Cold War II, and instead got the Cuban Missile Crisis and both Afghan wars combined. The West threw the kitchen sink at Russia because they plucked up and instead of getting their politically beneficial Cold War, they got another quagmire instead.

            • Now what did the West/EU/NATO want?

              1. To punish Russia through sanctions. Didn’t happen.
              2. To punish Russia’s economy. Didn’t happen. (Actually the opposite happened.)
              3. To isolate Russia from China. Don’t make me laugh.
              4. To make Russia a pariah to the rest of the world. Didn’t happen.

              If one believes evil geniuses are really that inept, then I don’t know what to tell one, for when things are really the result of stupidity, then even that will sometimes yield the right results.

          • “NATO is going to NATO.”

            Therein lies the crux of the problem. NATO was created to contain the Soviet Union. It’s raison d’etre ceased to exist at the end of 1991.

            Previously, the ideological enemy was Soviet Communism. Presently, the enemy is Russian Orthodox Christianity. The former conflict was noble to some extent, though the West was far from virtuous. The present conflict is satanic. NATO has made containment and rollback of the Russian Federation its new raison d’etre.

            And that is why it is at war with Russia. NATO pushed ever closer to Russia’s border despite its own promises and Russia’s warnings to the contrary. It was only when NATO began to constitute an existential threat to Russians on its border and to the Russian state due to the military buildup that Russia decided to act.

            Moreover, the whole matter could have been avoided if the West and the Ukraine had abided by Minsk (which Merkel later said was merely a ruse to give the Ukrainians time to build up arms for renewed hostilities). Furthermore, if the West had stayed out of the negotiations in early April of 2022, there would have been an agreement in place which avoided all of the subsequent carnage.

            It simply isn’t logically tenable to assert that Russia is acting from imperial expansionist impulses in light of the Minsk Accords, the two proposed treaties it offered before the current war and its agreement to end the war in April of last year. It was never interested in anything more than restoring the neutrality that the West destroyed by overthrowing the Yanukovich government.

            The West doomed the Ukraine (and itself).

            They can blame the Russians if they wish. No one can stop them. But they will simply repeat their mistakes if they don’t learn from them. Russia has benefited immensely from this war. Its economy is sound despite Western uber-sanctions. That knowledge alone, that it is immune from Western economic warfare, is priceless. It is defeating Ukraine handily and incorporated formerly persecuted Russians into the RF. It has increased its standing with the non-Western world greatly. And with China, it is creating a new alternative economic pole to the Western world.

            And it would have taken much, much longer without Western myopia, impulsivity and bottomless greed. Biden is the best thing to happen to Russia since Putin arose.

            David, you are spouting disjointed, senseless propaganda at odds with the facts as everyone knows them. But it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to reply to this nonsense anymore because it doesn’t matter. I don’t let trolls waste my time since they know that they’re just baiting and have no real case to make. It’s the wasting of other people’s time that is the point for them.

          • It was NATO who chose the location. For Russia, this was about keeping NATO at arms length while depleting it.

            • But they brought NATO closer to their door. Ceding the entire Baltic region to NATO makes no sense from a security standpoint. Attacking Ukraine is not going to neutralize NATO, because if it is as some claim, the MIC is licking their chops. Weapon production will INCREASE.

              Are they diabolical geniuses or morons? Which is it?

              • David, again you don’t understand geostrategy. The miniscule size of the Baltic states can’t even be compared to the Ukraine.

                Think of it this way: would the US prefer a soviet Cuba or a soviet Mexico, each armed to the gills with soviet weapons and troops? Obviously Mexico would provide a greater threat because its size and population has greater throw-weight.

                As for the Baltic states, they have three strikes against them: (1) significant Russian minorities within them, (2) the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad to their rear, and (3) Belarus as a buffer between them and Russia proper.

                As to your point that “they [Russians?] brought NATO to their door”, I’m not sure what you mean. Who is “they”? NATO? If on the other hand you mean Russia because it did nothing to stop the Baltic states from entering NATO, then I could see your point. Strategy, as most things in life, is dependent upon timing. The RF had no ability 30 years ago to stop the inclusion of these states into NATO. Basically, you have got to look at the broader picture and make your decisions accordingly.

                I’m sure that in retrospect, the Russians would have rather that the Balts not been brought into NATO but that’s all water under the bridge.

                • Finland and Sweden as well?

                  Ukraine joining NATO was not going to happen. It was a bargaining chip, a lever of control against Russia. Attacking Ukraine GUARANTEED the expansion of NATO. Russia had multiple avenues of soft power to torpedo a Ukraine NATO bid. Heck, the Germans et al don’t even want them in the EU. It was all bluster (as subsequent events and the treatment of Zelensky since the war started confirms). The FSB, of course, knew that already.

                  I don’t buy it for a second.

                  • I’m guessing Russia probably knew Ukraine wouldn’t make it into NATO. NATO truly is depleted and they would not be able to keep financing this war. I think Zelensky was pretty shocked, though. Scott Ritter was talking about how Zelensky may have started to believe his own hype. I would really encourage you to see “Servant of the People” if you haven’t already. I just watched the first few episodes but it’s really quite good. According to Ritter, they put that together to get the Ukrainian people to get behind electing Zelensky. An actor playing a role.

                  • Sweden’s neutrality was always anti-Russian
                    armed neutrality, as the Russians well knew.
                    If push came to shove, Sweden would be a foe.
                    Hence its joining NATO makes little difference.

                    Finland’s joining NATO is indeed a problem
                    but not the same order as Ukraine in NATO.

                    But for Russia’s response to said problem
                    and its alleged ceding control of the Baltic,
                    I refer you to the following:

                    Russia warns of nuclear, hypersonic deployment
                    if Sweden and Finland join NATO


                    ‘ LONDON, April 14 [2022] (Reuters) – One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined the U.S.-led military alliance then Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in a European exclave. …

                    Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said that should Sweden and Finland join NATO then Russia would have to strengthen its land, naval and air forces in the Baltic Sea.

                    Medvedev also explicitly raised the nuclear threat by saying that there could be no more talk of a “nuclear free” Baltic – where Russia has its Kaliningrad exclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

                    “There can be no more talk of any nuclear–free status for the Baltic – the balance must be restored,” said Medvedev, who was Russian president from 2008 to 2012. … ‘

                    This puts Berlin, Warsaw and Stockholm
                    under the new Cold War nuclear cosh…

  19. Jeff Moss says

    I spent the summer of 2000 on a mission trip in Kiev with an American non-denominational Protestant church. Over the years I’ve kept in touch with friends from that summer, and I received the updates throughout Euromaidan about how my Protestant friends were (cautiously) supportive of the revolution and even were among those offering public prayers from the stage to the assembled crowds on Maidan.

    I’m just pointing out that the supporters of the revolution weren’t all stooges of U.S. agencies. BUT on the other hand—even though by 2013 the churches I’m thinking of had mostly Ukrainian leadership—they were Ukrainians who had been trained and discipled by American Protestants who thought and acted like American Protestants. I wonder how much that’s the case across Ukraine. I’ve heard it said that Ukraine was “the Bible Belt” of the Soviet Union, because it’s where the USSR’s Baptists and other Evangelical Protestant groups were concentrated, and all of these can of course be traced back to Western European or American religious influence.

    • That explains a lot. I met a Baptist deacon from Kiev several years ago. FWIW, there’s a Mormon temple in Kiev

      • Many NGOs have been infiltrated, funded or “counseled”, knowingly or not, by the NED or CIA or some other govt actor. They use all Western cultural manifestations as lures and weapons. Truly insidious. Just as if the Cold War never ended, which I guess it hasn’t.

      • AnonymousII says

        Makes sense. “Protest”antism. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

  20. Patriarch Kirl responded to ridiculous accusation of his fellow Bishop.
    But it might be this Bishop did not have a choce and had to sign pamflet with or without his knowledge.