A Dogmatic Case Against the Phanar’s Grant of “Autocephaly”

I guess it boils down to just one word: Repentance.

Anyway, Prof Tselengidis, a professor of dogmatic theology at the University of Thessalonica, isn’t making the bishops of the Church of Greece’s job any easier when they meet next month.

Actually, he’s making it quite easy. That is, if they want to do the right thing. I imagine it’s going to be a bad day at black rock if they do what Patriarch Bartholomew and the globalist overlords wants them to do.

Oh well, that’s why we have bishops. It’d be great if they stepped up to the plate and did the right thing, consequences be damned.

Lord have mercy.


Prof Dimitrios Tselengidis’ Letter to the Holy Synod of Greece

by Petrus Antiochenus

Dimitrios Tselengidis is professor of dogmatic theology at the University of Thessaloniki. The Greek original of this letter is available here and a Romanian translation is available here.

SUBJECT: Regarding the institutional legitimization of the schismatic Church of Ukraine

Most Blessed Primate,

Reverend Holy Hierarchs,

With regard to the upcoming convocation of the Holy Synod of Hierarchs, as the least member of our local Church, but also as professor of the Church’s Dogmatic Theology, I would like– with a sense of responsibility– myself humbly to put into Your view some Dogmatic-Ecclesiological dimensions, as well as some soteriological ramifications of unconditionally accepting the schismatic Church of Ukraine into ecclesiastical-sacramental communion, in the event, of course, of an eventual Synodal decision by You to recognize its “autocephaly”.

The first and most important issue is, in this case, the Ecclesiological issue, which is relevant to the “ecclesiastical construct” in question. First of all, it should be examined whether this “construct” fulfills the conditions of an Ecclesiastical Community. If, on the contrary, its “autocephaly” is recognized, then the ecclesiastical “legitimacy” of the Schismatic Church is automatically recognized.

As is well-known, there has previously been Pan-Orthodox condemnation of the Schismatic Church of Ukraine with defrocking and excommunication. This Pan-Orthodox condemnation has not been revoked. Finally, with the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Tomos of Autocephaly (November 1, 2019), an institutional overreach of a spiritual and ecclesiological character occurred, which raises reasonable questions about its ecclesiastical legitimacy. And this is because, at least as far as we know, the fundamental patristic and spiritual conditions were not met, something that raises reasonable objections to the canonicity of the terms and conditions of the Patriarchal Praxis, so long as there has not been public repentance and renunciation of Schism. What we are saying in the case in question does not mean that we are calling into question the institutional competence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grant Autocephaly with the consent, of course, of the entire of body of the Church expressed synodally. Here only the issue of the valid conditions for issuing the Tomos in question is being raised.

According to scriptural testimonies (Matthew 4:17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 2:6-8), as well as according to the Patristic and Spiritual tradition of the Church, the integration or reintegration into the one and indivisible body of the Church in any case presupposes a profound experience and sincere expression of repentance on the part of the member or wider community being integrated or reintegrated.

The condition of expressing repentance is not invalidated or annulled by any institutional person or institutional ecclesiastical body. There exists no Ecclesiastical Economy that can replace or annul repentance. Repentance itself constitutes the fundamental condition and spiritual “key” to receiving and possessing the Economy of salvation, as well as the “key” to activating or reactivating it, in accordance with the testimony of Scripture: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

For precisely this reason, the Meletian Schism in the ancient Church was restored after not only expression of repentance, but also the anathematization of the Schism by the Schismatics themselves. And, as St Theodore the Studite characteristically notes, “anathematizing their own schism, as they say, they are received into the Catholic Church” (Letter 40 to Naukratios, PG 99 1053C). Only then did there follow the synodal Pan-Orthodox restoration at the First Ecumenical Council.

In the case of the Schismatic Church of Ukraine, as it appears, no repentance was sought or expressed. Here, in practice, repentance was annulled, even though it is an explicit commandment of the Lord and the age-old practice of the Church. There can be no talk of Ecclesiastical Economy for this. In fact, this is a flagrant ecclesiastical transgression, which makes salvation impossible, not only for the Schismatics, but also for those who sacramentally commune with them, since they too become excommunicates (see Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch, which was validated by the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils).

From the above, it becomes clear that the issue in question is essentially Ecclesiological-Dogmatic, with inevitable soteriological ramifications, as has already been very rightly expressed in the Letter of the Hagiorite Elders to the Sacred Community of the Holy Mountain (March 2019).

For this reason it is also essential that the Holy Synod of the Hierarchy decide on the identity of the Schismatic Church of Ukraine and to demand the application of the age-old ecclesiastical conditions for its reintegration. That is, repentance and the anathematization of the Schism. This spiritual responsibility is fully within the competence of the Hierarchy about to recognize the “Autocephaly” in question, which of course has other parameters of Canonicity, so long as it does not take into account the existence of the Canonical Church in the same country, under Metropolitan Onufry of Kyiv, the Canonical Church from which it split. That is to say, “Autocephaly” has, in this case, been granted to unabashed schismatics. And this unprecedented matter, which is logically, canonically and spiritually unthinkable, is now being asked to occur with the Synodal consent of our Church.

With the “rationale” for accepting the Tomos of “Autocephaly” of the Schismatic Church of Ukraine, we are in danger of possibly also being led in the future to the sacramental acceptance of Papism and other heresies without the fundamental conditions of repentance and the renunciation of their dogmatic delusions, something that Ecumenism attempts today, not only in theory but already in practice. So we wonder, essentially, whether the spiritual institutions within our Church have begun to “function” devoid of their spiritual foundation. We wonder whether in recent decades a “new ethos” has been introduced with the hidden aspiration to become the habitual ethos also in customary law, which will undermine the Canonical Tradition of the Church. Historically, we know that when such a mentality was consolidated in the West, the Western Church was led to Papism– with all its dogmatic deviations– and ended up cut off from the One and only Church.

To summarize, we note that any eventual decision about the “Autocephaly” of the Schismatic Church of Ukraine cannot be unconditional. Because then– indirectly but clearly– it would mean in practice an illegal ecclesiastical-institutional “legalization” of the existing Schism, something that has no historical precedent in the Ecclesiastical Tradition of the Holy Fathers. Most importantly, the eventual recognition without spiritual conditions gravely harms the unity of the entire Church, of which there is nothing more precious. The danger is clear– that of creating Schisms throughout the entire Church on account of your eventual assent to recognizing the “Autocephaly” of the Schismatic Church of Ukraine, something that we wish to avoid with all our heart.

Finally, the spiritual solution to the current ecclesiastical problem is repentance. And unfortunately, at the moment this is lacking. Nevertheless, there is realistic hope. Those of us who love the Church in Christ, let us ourselves take the cleansing and deifying medicine of repentance and then Christ will give healing to the sick, according to the testimony of the Holy Fathers [see St Nicholas Cabasilas: “everyone marvels at God’s goodness, though no one escapes an illness when someone else takes the medicine, seeking to be released from chastisement while others suffer” On the Life in Christ, Part 7, PG 150 700C) Here some may marvel at the goodness of God. No one can be rid of illness without taking the medicine. Can someone be rid of the consequences of sin when others do the work for them?]

With the deepest respect,
Dimitrios Tselengidis
Professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Petrus Antiochenus | September 9, 2019 at 1:36 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL: https://wp.me/pah5WH-aX


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  1. Monk James Silver says

    ‘Finally, with the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Tomos of Autocephaly (November 1, 2019), an institutional overreach of a spiritual and ecclesiological character occurred, which raises reasonable questions about its ecclesiastical legitimacy.’


    In these words from the latter’s third paragraph, the false tomos is dated 1 November 2019 — more than six weeks from now. As I recall, the actual date was 7 January 2019.

    An error such as this does not assist the letter’s credibility.

    What happened here?

  2. Ronda Wintheiser says

    I’m not sure what you are looking at, Monk James Silver.  Here is the full third paragraph that I see — but it is on this website:


    “As is well-known, there has previously been Pan-Orthodox condemnation of the Schismatic Church of Ukraine with defrocking and excommunication. This Pan-Orthodox condemnation has not been revoked. Finally, with the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Tomos of Autocephaly (January, 2019), an institutional overreach of a spiritual and ecclesiological character occurred, which raises reasonable questions about its ecclesiastical legitimacy. And this is because, at least as far as we know, the fundamental patristic and spiritual conditions were not met, something that raises reasonable objections to the canonicity of the terms and conditions of the Patriarchal Praxis, so long as there has not been public repentance and renunciation of Schism. What we are saying in the case in question does not mean that we are calling into question the institutional competence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grant Autocephaly with the consent, of course, of the entire of body of the Church expressed synodally. Here only the issue of the valid conditions for issuing the Tomos in question is being raised.”

    The error that appears here must be a typo or something.

  3. Ronda Wintheiser says

    And now this:
    The Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Self-Understanding
    Patriarch Bartholomew’s Letter to Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus

    Patriarch Bartholomew


    Most Blessed and Holy Archbishop of Nea Iustiniana and all Cyprus, very much beloved brother in Christ God and concelebrant of our Mediocrity, Kyr Chrysostomos, we fraternally embrace you in the Lord, addressing you with great joy.

    “Inasmuch as as the Great Church, the common Mother and caretaker of all, has reasonably established and the particular Church on Cyprus refers the pestilence that has befallen her, soul-destroying malady and spiteful abuse from certain malignant people, to this common Great Mother Church for relief and correction with the double-edged sword that the Lord has until now bestowed upon her…” (The Petition of the Cypriots on Behalf of their Archbishop Philotheos. Kallinikos Delikanes, Ἐπίσημα Ἐκκλησιαστικά Ἔγγραφα, vol. 2, pp. 586-587)

    With these inspired words, the ever-memorable Metropolitans Joachim of Paphos, Makarios of Kition and Nikephoros of Kyrenia, along with twenty-one clergymen and an equal number of select laymen from Your blessed island appealed to our Great Church of Christ in the year 1759 for the resolution of an ecclesiastical problem among them at the time.

    And we keep these things as sacred relics bequeathed to us by our illustrious predecessors, the Archbishops of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarchs, a whole series of honorable men who spent their entire life for the glory of God and service to the Church.

    Through reading and scrutinizing such ecclesiastical texts, we are reconsecrated [literally, rebaptized: ἀναβαπτιζόμεθα] for the responsibility that we consciously bear as we minister from the seat of the martyric Phanar. For we are a great-martyr Church: indeed, not so much for external reasons, but especially because we always and everywhere have the responsibility from the Divine and Sacred Canons and from the sanctified practice of the Church to serve the truth alone, without calculations and second thoughts, without other impertinent concerns and unworthy expediencies.

    We are the Great Church of Christ, who birthed all the newer ones, who has preserved your own autocephalous status since the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus, who has the responsibility of caring for every other Church, both the ancient sisters and the newer daughters who were weaned from our Canonical body, in toil, deprivation and distress, but also with concern and care, so that they could have their own internal autocephaly.

    It is in this sense that we understand and recall with boasting, at this sacred and distinguished hour of the Feast of your See, Your forefathers’ declaration, most Blessed and holy brother, that the Church of Constantinople, the Great Church of Christ, is the “common Mother and caretaker of all.”

    And so she is. She truly is. We regret that we have arrived at the point of repeating self-evident matters and matters of organization in the Orthodox Church, but we are forced to because on account of pastoral withdrawals, certainly in dark days of history, our passionate and noble attitude and our decorum with regard to a certain falsely-called (as it appears in the end) Pan-Orthodox unity made it seem that we had chosen for our See to resign from the responsibilities with which the Church has adorned it. But no.

    Until the end of the ages, to the chagrin and shame of the recalcitrant spirit that hates the good and those inspired by him, in Constantinople shall live steadfast and immovable the most precious and holiest [possession] of our pious Race [τοῦ εὐσεβοῦς ἡμῶν Γένους] and our blameless faith, our Holy Great Church of Christ, the Mother and mistress among the Churches.

    In Constantinople, there is not a coordinating body in the manner of a choir director, but rather she herself is the loving heart and clever mind of the Orthodox Church. The Phanar lives, Your Beatitude, and we have come here today to lovingly remind on the one hand Your Beatitude, who recognizes it and has love for us and on the other hand all those who hate us and love us.

    The Phanar lives because the Lord of Glory wills it, He who was crucified and has not been brought down, who is risen and has ascended from us to the Heavens. It lives because it has the prayers of the God-bearing Fathers of the holy Councils, which granted it sacred, inviolable and non-negotiable privileges of service.

    Therefore, with these feelings of love and respect, we take part with all our soul and mind in the splendid and eucharistic rites of the feast of your See, knowing that in this land watered with the blood of the pious children of the Church, from Apostolic times the Romaic consciousness and its devotion has lived in the hearts of our faithful children.

    There lives the fragrance of the life in Christ. In Cyprus, there lives a precious part of Ecumenical Romeosyne, from this Great-Martyr Romeosyne, whose tree has taken root through the blood and sacrifices of her children for our blameless faith and lofty ideals.

    We have come, through our representative, our most reverend brother the Metropolitan of France, Kyr Emmanuel, to embrace Your Beatitude and the holy hierarchs in the Lord and also to bestow our Patriarchal prayers and blessing from the Mother Church of Constantinople upon the Most Holy Church of Cyprus.

    We have come to embrace You in an Apostolic spirit, as Andrew embraced Barnabas. Congratulating you heartily, we pray from the Phanar for every good thing of the Lord and that which is well-pleasing to Him, that He may keep Your honored Beatitude, the brother hierarchs around You, the righteous clergy and the Christ-loving people in health and many blessings. May it be so.

    9 June 2019
    Your reverend Beatitude’s loving brother in Christ

    Patriarch Bartholomew


    • Yeesh…can we not just temporarily suppress the Patriarchate? I’m also of the opinion that the Church of Jerusalem should rightly take over Constantinople  as not only is its flock much larger, but, it is the mother Church of all Christianity…much to the dismay of Constantinople I’m sure 

    • 17th Century calling: we want our oblique and flowery language back!
      +Bartholemew needs a Twitter account.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Sorry, but this poor Kansas boy simply cannot follow such prose. Can somebody translate it for me? That is the other thing I should have put in my essay. Matthew 5:37.

      Or perhaps any such missive should just be marked “Return to sender” with the addendum of this little beloved ditty: http://editingmonks.blogspot.com/2009/06/dont-use-big-words.html

      • George Michalopulos says

        Indeed. Such flowery prose is unbecoming Christian manliness.

      • Monk James Silver says

        Except for its last three sentences, which are pointedly Anglo-Saxon flavored, the brief 1975 essay linked here by Michael Bauman is written entirely in English words derived from Latin and Greek. They are not so much ‘flowery’ as classical, and that distinction deserves some comment.

        There was a time, not so long ago, when the study of European classical culture and its languages, at least Latin, was considered an essential aspect of a well rounded education, along with mathematics an sciences and modern languages, and students were required to learn how to write cursive script and to spell correctly — and our notoriously difficult spelling in English is greatly assisted by the study of Latin. I’m describing a high school curriculum here, not a degree program at Harvard.

        A century ago, the subways in New York city had to replace signs saying ‘Expectorating Prohibited’ with others which read ‘NO SPITTING”, but we can imagine the educational level of the people who needed to be told that.

        The perceived ‘floweriness’ of language may be just a cultural index, a sign of decline in educational standards, and not so much a comment on the style of any given piece.

        BTW: Many years go, I received a BA. in classics (civilizations and languages, Greek concentration but with lots of Latin) from the University of KANSAS at Lawrence.

        I met many well spoken, barely high-school-educated elderly people on the prairies at the same time as their grandchildren in college were saying ‘like’ three or four times in what they apparently thought was a sentence. I strongly suspect that it’s the educational system which is at fault here, not the geography.

        Still, certain styles of language are falling into disuse, as, for example, that of the ‘Authorised (King James) Version’ of the Bible and liturgical translations based on that style. I don’t recommend that we ‘dumb down’ the language of our sacred texts in English, merely that they be brought into closer conformity with contemporary standards of literate speech. There is a middle ground between the sort of caricatures in Mr Bauman’s example and ‘street talk’, and we should strive for that ideal in our service books and elsewhere, and be certain of accuracy in translation, too..

        Just for one example: If people actually understand the meaning of ‘vouchsafe’ (there’s a solid Anglo-Saxon pedigree for that word), it is almost always a mistranslation, so even if they are comfortable with the archaic style, it doesn’t help.

  4. A friend from my childhood was following what several people were saying regarding the good in the Holy Orthodox Church with thoughts of finding one near him in East Texas to start attending. Then all this sad news came out about the unilateral granting of legitimacy to the schismatics in Ukraine; and all the fighting started. He told me he wasn’t at all interested in joining a group with such a mess in its churches. And that mess just keeps on giving.

    All Hail The Pope of Istanbul! God help us and His Holy Church.

    • This is something we need to keep in mind, the spiritual damage and scandal that this is causing not just the flock that is already Orthodox, but, those who are potentially going to be Orthodox. 
      I have heard through the grapevine (I will not say from who or from where) that a mission parish outside of the U.S was going to switch their canonical affiliation from the Greeks (under the EP) to the Russians because of this mess. This is a very real issue for the entire Orthodox world that needs to be sorted out. 

    • Michael Bauman says

      I don’t know of a single Christian tradition which is not fighting about something at some time or other.

  5. If the Patriarchate or Constantinople is hell-bent (no pun intended) on continuing their spiral into madness, which seems to be the case, I am all for cutting them off of the vine before they poison the whole tree. 
    But, how would that even work, would we elect a new, valid patriarch? Or, are we willing to lose another Patriarchate like we did Rome? 
    In an ideal world, I would love to see the Oriental Orthodox come back into the fold

    • Greek control over much of the Orthodox world is what has kept non-Chalcedonians out of our Communion. Familiar with the ‘azymes’ controversy? Copts want to work it out with Russian Orthodox, in whom they see great promise. Greeks have nothing to offer anyone. 
      This idiotic notion that nothing happens in Orthodoxy that does not originate from or receive approval from the Fener has got to be countered in every case. History shows clearly that Orthodox churches have consistently acted independently and never relied on the blessings of some wannabe orthopope. When C’ple and Rome fell out in 1054, for instance the Georgian church did not break communion with Rome for nearly another 150 years and had also maintained communion with Armenians long after Chalcedon, as did most other autocephalies. 
      We don’t now and never did need that job-seeker in Stamboul and his Synod of Bps. of underwater cathedrals. Life — the Life of the World —is far too precious to let this pathetic pawn push the churches around.  

      • Claes: “Greek control over much of the Orthodox world is what has kept non-Chalcedonians out of our Communion.”

        Orthodox Greeks at Chalcedon were right, and their dogmatic
        definitions are true.

        Logos united without confusion, alteration, or mixing to humanity also without confusion, alteration, or mixing, and without separation.

        BTW, Eutyches was an archimandrite in Constantinople.

        • Monk James Silver says

          Yes. All the best heresies originated in Greek!

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            The New Testament is in Greek. Is the New Testament heretical? How about our Creed its in Greek. Is it heretical? Most unbecoming of a monk. Hopeful you will repent post haste.

            • Monk James Silver says

              The fact that the scriptures and the decisions of the ecumenical synods were written in Greek did not prevent heretics from teaching their errors in Greek.
              The Greek language, for all its precision, is not in itself a guarantor of sound reason or theological accuracy.

              The Areians spoke Greek, the Monophysites spoke Greek, the Origenists spoke Greek. What ancient heretics did not speak Greek? The fathers of the seven ecumenical synods refuted these heretics and their false teachings in Greek, too. Everyone spoke Greek,

              It’s not possible for me to repent the reality that both truth and lies were and are spoken in Greek. I think we have a misunderstanding here rather than an error.

            • Greek bigotry has kept the Armenian Church alienated. They had all the theological differences hammered out but the Greek bishops wanted to stick it to the Armenians insisting they cease using ‘azymes’ — flat bread. 
              Greek overlordship and promotion of Hellenism over Christianity pretty well defines epochal decline of Orthodoxy worldwide (except in the former Soviet Union). When maintaining control and promoting privilege of Greek culture is more important than the Gospel of Christ then it is fair to decry the dead hand of the Phanar. 

          • Monk James Silver,

            “All the best heresies originated in Greek!”, I trust you know  
            “All the Bible books have been saved in Greek”

            Even those of the Old Testament: They were translated into Greek by the 72  (70=LXX) Jewish Learned Fathers BEFORE CHRIST!
            Most of the O.T. quotations by Christ and the Apostles are from LXX.

            The current O.T. (Massoretic) was translated/adjusted in the course of centuries AFTER CHRIST according to the “Massor” (bond, tradition). Remember, Christians pointed to the O.T. (LXX) texts for proofs of Christ.
            Did you expect the heresies to be written otherwise, e.g. in Latin or Hebrew?
            Greek was then the Lingua Franca

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          It sometimes seems to me that the Chalcedonian fathers went too far in their anathemas. That their doctrine is true is certain. But they had the practice of anathematizing not only aberrant doctrines, but numerous individuals regarded as saints by the adherents of what became known as the non-Chalcedonians.
          So more than once I’ve heard knowledgeable Orthodox comment that their dialogues with Copts and Armenians disclose no real  Christological barrier to re-union, but such union would require their repudiation of saints they have venerated for 1500 years. This, obviously, will never happen, thus the union will never happen, either. 
          So there lie always those poison pills. I often wonder about the wisdom of the ad hominem quality of classical Greek rhetoric, and its adoption into theological discourse of the time.
          Just some musings….

          • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

            Tim, I can empathize with your empathy for the non-Chalcedonians. But empathy is no substitute for dogmatic truth and ecclesial integrity.

            The “smoking gun” regarding the non-Chalcedonians is their adamant refusal TODAY to accept the rejection of  the “monothelete” heresy by the Sixth Ecumenical Council in AD 681. To his dying day, Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Orthodox Church and other hierarchs and theologians among the non-Chalcedonians still alive insist that the Incarnate Son of God possessed only a divine will (“monotheletism” from the Greek words for “one” and “will”) instead of a divine will and human will in accordance with His divine and human natures. The doctrinal deviancy and spiritual danger of monotheletism is to reduce the humanity of Jesus Christ to a partial nature with no human will as an energetic manifestation of that nature. From a more practical perspective, monotheletism empties the Lord’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross of any significance in the economy of salvation–as if the Lord were merely going through the motions or play-acting.

            Holy Orthodoxy embraces fully the teachings of all Seven Ecumenical Councils. An ecclesial entity cannot affirm only five or even six of the seven without embracing heresy and departing from the Church.

      • Nonsense, the azymes controversy has nothing to do with the non-Chalcedonians. The Copts use leavened bread! The Armenians might not, but that’s not the business of the Russian Church and the Copts to discuss.
        The Non-Chalcedonians are separated because they are HERETICS. There was no linguistic confusion, as many say today, as people like Dioscorus, Severus, et al, were all Greek-speaking and philosophically trained. They rejected the wisdom of the holy Fathers, as well as the miracle of Saint Euthymia the All-Praised.
        It goes to show how unfaithful so-called Orthodox Christians are to the holy tradition that our fathers fought and sometimes even died to preserve when they say things like the non-Chalcedonians are ‘jsut like us’ and that it’s a ‘linguistic misunderstanding’ or an ‘ethnic issue.’
        Balderdash. It’s heresy, plain and simple.

        • Brute from bygone ages says

          Speaking on MP and non-Chalcedonians, Russian Church was one who didn’t sign agreement with Non-Chalcedonians.
          BTW, monopysitism did take a root among non-hellenised population, but it’s leaders were Hellenised, same as their opponents. (Severus, Eutyches, Dioscore…)

        • I have no doubt there was no mistake at Chalcedon.  However, many centuries have passed and if we find today that the Non Chalcedonians are much closer to true Christology then I suspect it is a recent phenomenon due to the turmoil in the Middle East in the past hundred years and increasing dependence on relations with The Church.  The question is can their progress be recognized without doing violence to an Ecumenical Council and can they take the final steps and repudiate heretical texts which with monophysite or monothelite language.  The writings of Pope Shenouda III are a good example of the persisting thread wile there are others who reject it.  Then there is the question of whether all the Non-Chalcedonians profess the same identical faith.  I don’t know the answer but that would predispose diolougue with one group vs. another.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Dan, having read some comprehensive meeting notes from one on the reunion conferences from several years ago, it is not that simple.  The issue of the saints is deeply and organically tied to the Christology.  
            What I read, unfortunately I no longer have a copy, showed me that their Christology is not ours. The reps were quite firm in it. 

          • The Coptic Church now stands in an unprecedented position of intercourse with Rûm (Chalcedonian) Orthodox. Many of their Bishops are even schooled in our seminaries.  The conservatism of the Coptic Church, and its insularity, was enforced by Moslem overlordship which imposed monastery training on its clergy, both parish priests and hierarchs. Now even their monastics are clamoring for better access to Patristic sources and some are defecting from the close scholarly quarters defined by loyalty and obedience to the late Pope Shenouda. I know of a community of Egyptian nuns who now comprise a monastery of the DOWOCA for just this reason. 
            It is unfair to label Copts heretics because of their faulty Christology which is the result of alienation effected by Roman Imperial politics after Chalcedon. The bloody suppression of Copts by Imperial Constantinople (both State and Church) has left an indelible scar that no Greek churchman has done anything to heal. Leadership in this matter — healing schism — would fit within the job description the Ecumenical Patriarchate is so jealously promulgating, would it not? But then what did we hear from Fener  in old Stamboul even regarding the schism between Antioch and Jerusalem over the latter’s incursion in Qatar?
            This is why the era of a Greek-led Church is definitely over and done. They who are most frequently the source of the problem itself are poorly equipped to lead us to greater functional unity in Christ. 

            • ”This is why the era of a Greek-led Church is definitely over and done. They who are most frequently the source of the problem itself are poorly equipped to lead us to greater functional unity in Christ.”
              Maybe this is why the Copts think it’s a better use of their time working with the Russians. The EP is clamoring so hard for reunion with Rome that I can almost bet he doesn’t care one bit about the Copts (who we actually have a real chance of reuniting with) bc it doesn’t suit his ego/ecumenism fancy since they are “weaker” than Rome.
              I would say that Antioch and Jerusalem have done leaps between just the two of them to mend the schism then they ever did with Constantinople trying to “mediate”
              i would have to imagine the Orthodox world is finally coming to terms that the EP Just is no longer Orthodox. Now, it’s up to them on how to fix the Istanbul Issue 

            • Brute from bygone ages says

              EP was side pushing for agreement with Monopysitist Churches, their negotiators took leading role. Russian Church was one who didn’t sign. Besides of that, Copts still stand firm on position of Severus of Antioch, who is heretic condemned by few Oecumenical Councils. To put it short, according to him, Christ has composite hypostasis composed of Divine and Human hypostases. In his vocabulary, physis is singular nature, very close to hypostasis. Orthodox teaching is, Christ assumed Human nature in His Divine hypostasis, and that’s why we speak of composite Hypostasis (who has two common natures) . 
              Severus was aware of Ordhodox teaching, but rejected it. In fact his major work is against John Grammarian (one who proposed introduction of triadological terminology and anticipated works of two Leontii). For all purposes, all dialogue went to point where Copts want rehabilitation of Severus, and others. 
              All talks about “semantic misunderstanding” comes from ROman Catholic monk Lebon who wrote capital study on Severus and proposed rehabilitation of him. Copts, simply want to capitalize on current trends among Western researchers who follow Lebon. Such researchers impacted Orthodox clergy for oast few decades. But on closer examination, Holy Fathers and Severus understoid eachother enough. Point is, he didn’t preach Orthodox teaching. That’s why he was condemned. In the end, Armenians abd Ethiopians don’t follow Severus’ Christology… It’s enough to say, Severus was closest to Orthodoxy of all monophysite thinkers. 

    • George C Michalopulos says

      Well the loss of Rome was a grievously wound given the size of that patriarchate.  The loss of Istanbul would in no way be as comparable.

  6. The problem as I see it, and forgive me I am a retired Orthodox priest who now lives on a farm, is that it like there is a rogue bull creating mayhem. The farmers extended family, all 14 of them, agree it needs to be put down, even though the lineage of progeny has been very good over the years.
    The gun is loaded but no one wants to pull the trigger.
    The Archbishop of Cyprus is to be commended for his attempts to sort this out but surely the buck must stop with the 3 most ancient sees, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. They are the ones, who if the Phanar was vacant, would assume the role of first among equals according to the Dyptychs.
    It would appear de facto the Phanar is vacant, (de juris is another question) due to the actions that have taken place and proposed (swuch as the ludicrous one that Constantinople could revoke the autocephally of any Church including the aforementioned one) so one of them or all three of them need to take the lead, summon a Council, all 947 bishops and get it sorted.

    • Good points Fr. Paul. I am wondering if this recent letter from the PoC to the Church of Cyprus will further along Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria on the works they were already doing with the Cypriot Church. 
      I’ve been hoping since this issue started that maybe the blessing in disguise that God is revealing to us is that this is what it took for us to get together on a pan-Orthodox level to actually take care of the issues that are plaguing the Church that need to be addressed. I of course speak in no way for the Holy Spirit or God Almighty, but, it is more-so my optimistic way of looking at it 

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I love your analogy, Father. It’s a sad state of affairs. The problem is the longer you wait, the more mayhem the bull is going to cause. I can’t help but think that they’ve known this was coming for a long time. When they met in Russia in November 2017 most, if not all, of the bishops were there, including some who wouldn’t breathe the same air (Jerusalem & Antioch). Though he was invited, the only exception was Batholomew, who was running around Israel complaining that Trump changed the capital city to Jerusalem. Bartholomew has been a lone wolf for a long time. Certainly since Crete.

  7. “In fact, this is a flagrant ecclesiastical transgression, which makes salvation impossible, not only for the Schismatics, but also for those who sacramentally commune with them, since they too become excommunicates (see Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch, which was validated by the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils).”
    Is this essentially saying that the Patriarchate of Constantinople, or, those within the Patriarchate who have communed with them are now excommunicated? 
    This has has huge ramifications for those that fall under the PoC, diaspora included, if this is true

    • Gail Sheppard says

      This is the concern.

    • Michael Bauman says

      While it is true that those whom the Apostles bind on Earth are bound in heaven, I have a problem with uncategorically saying that when there is a great confusion in our puny little human brains that the downline folks are also in salvific jeopardy–not even all the bishops involved.  
      Personally I think Jesus is much more merciful and I would pray for all of us but especially for the Bishops: Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.
      I am beginning to think that most of our bishops are in the state that the musical Jesus Christ Superstar described the Apostles using the theme song tag line: What’s the Buzz, tell me what’s a happenin’ 
      God bless our Bishops, every one.  
      That means we in the world need to step up more and criticise less.

      • Monk James Silver says

        Michael Bauman (September 12, 2019 at 1:06 pm) says:

        While it is true that those whom the Apostles bind on Earth are bound in heaven, I have a problem with uncategorically saying that when there is a great confusion in our puny little human brains that the downline folks are also in salvific jeopardy–not even all the bishops involved. SNIP


        In his account of the Gospel, St Matthew (16:19) records our Lord Jesus Christ as telling St Peter — specifically and in the singular — ‘I will give you (singular) the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, but whatever you (singular) will bind on Earth must have been bound in Heaven, and whatever you (singular) will loose on Earth must have been loosed in Heaven.’

        This translation reflects not only the underlying Aramaic sense of these words, but also addresses a peculiarity of the Greek.

        All translations miss the point of necessity in the words of our Lord, at least as St Matthew’s text renders them in Greek. Here, it is inaccurate to read them as saying something like ‘whatever you will bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven’, since the Greek does not employ a simple future-tense form here. Instead, the construction moves from a simple future-tense form (‘you will bind’) to a future-perfect-tense passive form which expands the verb into an augmented participle amplifying the future-tense form ‘it will be’: ‘it will have been bound in Heaven’.

        This sequence-of-tenses protocol seems to me to be an attempt to mirror the ‘passive periphrastic’ form in Latin, a construction which is lacking from New Testament Greek, but which creates a condition of necessity.

        In my view, then, St Peter is being told by Christ that whatever he does on Earth, he must follow Heaven’s lead — not the other way around. A misreading of these words forms a large part of Roman Catholic theory about ‘petrine authority’, but they are mistaken.

        Apostles are apostles and bishops are bishops. Not a single one of Christ’s twelve apostles ever served as the bishop of anyplace, not even Rome. (There goes another mistaken RC idea.) In their missionary work, the charism of the apostles was to found local churches, appoint bishops for them, and move on.

        Bishops derive their authority from the bishops who legitimately ordained them, ultimately from the apostles who appointed the first bishops in their line of succession. No bishop has the plenipotentiary authority of an apostle, so the notion of ‘apostolic succession’ is understood very differently by RCs and Orthodox Christians.

        • George Michalopulos says


          • Monk James Silver says

            I’m fascinated by all this too, dear George. There is so much to learn!

            I went to school and paid money to learn all these languages, yet people are so easily misled by bad translations. Something appears in print, even as a Bible, and it’s assumed to be correct, nut it usually isn’t.

            I’d like to blame all this confusion on the devil, but we’re doing our best to mess things up without its help. We like the language we’re used to hearing. We want to stay in our ‘comfort zone’, accuracy be damned.

            Yet we can’t settle on a common version of ‘Our Father’ in English. It’s a fact that there’s nothing in the ‘Our Father’ prayer about ‘daily bread’ or ‘trespasses’ or asking God to ‘lead us not into temptation’, but we go on with these mistakes and pray them as sincerely as we can. Sometimes inertia is stronger than truth.

            Since I’m only seventy-two and in reasonably good health except for my glaucoma (please pray that my eyes be healed), I hope that the Lord will give me at least another thirty years or so to publish everything I’ve learned, especially my translation of the psalms, the motherlode of Christian worship.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              At 71 I heartily endorse your hopes, and humbly beseech the same!
              Not necessarily 30 years, though…my oldest grandchildren would be getting pretty long in the tooth by then; perhaps they’d rather see Old Koskoosh off with some dignity still left…

        • Michael Bauman says


  8. george osborne says

    “In fact, this is a flagrant ecclesiastical transgression, which makes salvation impossible, not only for the Schismatics, but also for those who sacramentally commune with them, since they too become excommunicates (see Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch, which was validated by the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils).”
    One, given the undeniable fact that the Schismatics are, in fact, schismatics and, two, that nobody but nobody can wave a piece of parchment over that situation and call it healed and forgotten.  Then this analysis is the most penetratingly true and profound one I have yet seen.  I’m just a country boy, not a canonist, but I do know a con-job when I see one and that definition (con-job) fits the Ukranian situation to a fare-thee-well.  Salvation, indeed!!

  9. Joseph Lipper says

    After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was no equivalent of the Nuremburg Trials, and there was nothing analagous of  “de-Nazification” in either Moscow or Kiev.  There were no trials, and there was no justice.  No such medicine of repentance was taken, and so the illness of sin still persists.  So yes, Tselengidis seems to ask us, “where is the medicine of repentance?”
    Did the Moscow Patriarchate ever repent of it’s close connections with the KGB?  Did the Moscow Patriarchate ever repent of the many noncanonical anomolies and ordinations of the hierarchy and clergy during Soviet times? 
    Tselengidis is possibly correct that there is no visible sign of any such repentance from the “Ukrainian schismatics”, but alas, the same point could easily be made of the Moscow Patriarchate.  There’s far more similarities than differences between these two groups.  In truth, many of the hierarchs and clergy of the OCU have their origins in the MP, such as was the case with the former Metropolitan of Kiev, the “Patriarch” Filaret. 
    Despite the horrendous activities of the MP during those Soviet times, and despite the resulting sickness of sin that undoubtedly still persists, Patriarch Bartholomew has not made any demand of repentance from Moscow.  He still commemorates the MP.  So why should he specifically make this demand of repentance from those Ukrainians who want autocephaly, and not make a similar demand of repentance from Moscow?
    And for that matter, none of the other autocephalous Churches have demanded repentance from Moscow for her Soviet past either.  They all still commemorate the MP and “look the other way” from that illness, from that sordid past and sin. 

    So why should *anyone* demand repentance from those Ukrainians who want autocephaly, and then not demand similar repentance from Moscow?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Joseph, I’m not sure you’re correct about the ROC not repenting of its past collaboration with the Soviet state. One sign they did so was their recognition of the Tsar-martyr and his family as passion-bearing saints. I also seem to remember that Patriarch Alexeii II repented of the ROC’s role in communism.

      We should be careful going down this road, after all, Cpole uncritically collaborated with the Soviet state when it recognized the Renovationist Church created as a false front by the Bolsheviks.

      • Michael Bauman says

        ….and there are the multitude of saints such as St. Luke of Simferopol in the Crimea, who’s passion bearing witness brings healing.  The MP recognizes them in addition to the Tzar and his family.  
        That is repentance.  The EP just keeps adding more and more nonesense. 

        • Yes, Michael,
          there is a proverb,
          “to cover a lie you must tell more lies”.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Maybe that is why the EP likes degree s such as Piled Higher and Deeper.
            BTW, the EP is in no way synonymous with Greek to me neither is the GOA.

            • Michael, I don’t believe in Telepathy, but I have been thinking about exactly that! 
              Bartholomew is not Greek and neither Elpidophoros (remember how he compared GR vs TR). Bartholomew had (probably still) the picture of Ataturk in his office. Bartholomew has served in the Turkish army as officer (there is a picture), and recently prayed for the Turkish armed forces! 
              I totally and utterly agree with you:
              “the EP is in no way synonymous with Greek to me neither is the GOA.”
              I urge George and you and all of us here to  use a more precise description instead of “Greek”.

              • George Michalopulos says

                When I was there 20 years ago, the pic of Ataturk was very prominent in his office. As big as the icon of Christ on the opposites wall.

        • Joseph Lipper says

          Incidentally, it is because of the request of Metropolitan Epiphany of the OCU that St. Luke of Simferopol is now venerated as a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  We can thank Metropolitan Epiphany for that. 

          • Monk James Silver says

            This is nonsense.

            The Orthodox Church of Russia recognized Archbishop Luke Voino-Yasenetskiy as a saint two years before the schismatics in Kiev requested the deluded Patriarch of Constantinople to do so.

            What arrogance! What foolishness! What an amazing display of ignorance and defiance of Orthodox Christian ecclesiology!

            • Indeed!

            • Joseph Lipper says

              He was canonized a saint by Moscow in 1996, but Constantinople only added him to their calendar, or list of saints, as of this year.

            • Brute from bygone ages says

              Saint Luke was canonized by Ukrainian Orthodox Church in 1995, as local saint.
              Russian Orthodox Church approved his commemoration on level of entire Church, in 2000. Patriarch Aleksey II and Synod sent encyclical notfying rest of Primates and their Synods. For all purposes, canonization is valid for all including CP. 

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Brute from bygone ages,
                That’s an interesting point about Moscow sending an encyclical to the other Primates,  Did Constantinople just not get the memo?  I don’t know.  
                Here in America we have St. Raphael of Brooklyn who was canonized by the OCA in 2000.  He was the first bishop ordained in North American and was part of the Russian mission, yet he was Syrian and organized and supported the Arab community in North America.  I believe he is still considered a local saint, and people I know from Syria and Lebanon tell me he is not commemorated there.

                • Brute from bygone ages says

                  Of course they did get encyclical. It’s established procedure. At every canonization Synod notifies rest of Churches.
                  That just underlies how ridiculous CP acts, whe he meddles in Ukraine.
                  Sandinopulos is misinformed, there are dozens of Churches and chapels dedicated to St. Luke in Grerce. If that’s not official commemoration what else is?

      • Joseph Lipper says

        George, I suppose we could find fault in just about anybody if we really wanted to. Yet we all know the saying: when you point a finger, there’s usually three fingers pointing right back at you.   

        The Moscow Patriarchate is demanding repentance from the OCU, yet nobody much is asking the Moscow Patriarchate to explain how they repented of the well-documented KGB collaboration and control of the hierarchy during Soviet times. Perhaps this is out of politeness.  That’s fine.  We all want to move on.  Things look pretty amazing in Russia, so why spoil the party? 
        There’s more similarity between the OCU and the MP than are differences.  These people both did and went through the same things during Soviet times, and they both escaped any jury or trial.  If we want somebody to repent though, then the best thing to do is to repent ourselves.  

        • Joseph Lipper, “There’s more similarity between the OCU and the MP than are differences. “

          This is totally wrong!

          I don’t know how you measure “similarities and differences”
          – by number of items,
          – by pages in a book, 
          – by some other parameter

          I am sorry Joseph:
          The famous Canon 28 (and St.Nicodeme’s interpretation/commentary) uses specific normative parameters:

          1)- The City (Cple, Moscow etc) must be the Capital of the Country with the seat of Head of State there. 
          2)- The country must have many  remote Bishops of the country (thus a big Christian country) who come to the Bishop of the Capital to mediate with the Head of State, i.o.t. assist the remote Bishops.

          These parameters define who is really, de-facto, the Ecumenical  Patriarch.
          So, THE DIFFERENCES between C. and M. are HUGE!

          Canon 28 does not say the Cple will be the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch until the end of this World.
          It say because Cple is “basileuousa” (βασιλεύουσα).

          “basileuousa” = reigning
          = Participle, present tense, ie Now!

          Cple does not satisfy parameters 1) and 2) above ANY MORE.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Well, I’m told the OCU uses Ukrainian liturgically.  That’s a difference.  Apart from their distinct administrative structure and as being autocephalous, what else is different?  Cultural and national identity perhaps?  Western Ukrainians have distinctive embroidery.  
            The argument has been made that Russians and Ukrainians are the same people, yet there is undeniably a distinctive national and territorial consciousness in Ukraine.  I don’t see anything wrong with the distinction as long as there are good relations between the two.  There shouldn’t be a break in communion.  That’s a tragedy.

            • Estonian Slovak says

              Oh, please. The Canonical church does use Ukrainian in places. It also uses Romanian and even Hungarian in some Western regions, though it’s difficult to imagine that many Hungarian speakers are Orthodox.
              Furthermore, the MP allows the use of Belarusian in the country of Belarus and Lithuanian in Lithuania; though neither of those churches is autonomous.
              Furthermore, in Ukraine, the autonomous church need not commemorate the Patriarch of Moscow, but only Metropolitan Onufry followed by the diocesan bishop. This is more autonomous than ROCOR, where the Patriarch is comemorated at every service. My source of information is actually a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox church, USA. He’s from there, he studied in both Ukraine and Russia, he supports the new OCU, so he’s hardly in love with the MP.
              I don’t suppose arguing with you will accomplish anything, though, I think you will stick with the EP no matter what they do.

            • Brute from bygone ages says

              Some of hierarchs of so called OCU have been ordained by impostor Vikentiy Chekalin… One of them went in front with automatic rifle, one went in disco club and got arrested for fight there… I don’t think you will find similar cases in UOC.

    • Mr. Lipper,
      It would sound pretty odd for a Patriarch of Constantinople to demand the Moscow Patriarchate repent of sins of Soviet collaboration or what-have-you when it was just such a Patriarch of that Turkish city who recognized the Russian schismatic Living Church led by Vvedinsky, promoted by the NKVD, over St. Patriarch Tikhon, actually instructing the confessor saint to resign.
      If there is a Holy Council, this unrepented act of infamy by the Fener must be anathematized. 

      • George Michalopulos says

        I completely agree! And the GOA must repent of not allowing St Tikhon (then Arb of the American Missionary diocese) entry into one of its churches in NYC. What ghastliness.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Claes, yes I agree. It would be odd for a Patriarch of Constantinople to demand the Moscow Patriarchate repent of sins of Soviet collaboration. 
        My point is the EP is not making any such demand.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          That would be odd since the Patriarch of Constantinople has no right to demand anything from the MP.

          • Estonian Slovak says

            We ought to demand that the Antiochian church apologize because some of the late Metropolitan’s friends trashing your property and caused you to live in fear. Even if you really had done something wrong, such gangster like behavior hardly sits well with the Gospel.

    • Brute from bygone ages says

      Did Phanar repent for it’s close cooperation with Ottomans. I mean, they were putting Orthodox Christians under interdict for rising against Ottomans. Is there repentance for simony and biding sees in Serbia and Bulgaria. Then we can discuss “KGB blah blah”. Besides, Filaret Denisenko was KGB’s man in Russian Church. It’s something he admited openly, and didn’t repent. 

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

      Ignoring most of your anti-Russian dezinformatsiya, Mr. Lipper, I must take special exception to your baseless claim that the Moscow Patriarchate never repented of its former ties with the KGB.

      In the second edition of my book, The Price of Prophecy: Orthodox Churches on Peace, Freedom, and Security (1995–still available at https://www.amazon.com/Price-Prophecy-Orthodox-Churches-Security/dp/0802808360), I added to my previously unrestrained critical moral analysis of the MP’s shameless collaboration with the Soviet Communist regime since Met. Sergius’ “Declaration” in 1927 a necessary update on p. 57 as follows:

           “A long-awaited breakthrough finally occurred in Patriarch Aleksii’s Lenten Message on February 28, 1993 (according to the Gregorian calendar). In the unequivocal language of repentance, he spoke from the heart:

      We repent for those of us who did not stand firm enough for the faith in the years of persecution, who [were] faint-hearted and even, God forbid, pandered to the persecutors who trampled on the Church of God, bringing to Christians suffering and death.

      Today when a sea of suffering has flooded us, we are guilty before every one who suffers, guilty of not always warming him with the warmth of our hearts, not always sacrificing ourselves for his good . . . . 

      Every one has sinned against God, But, my fellow-brothers, the greatest blame lies with us, archpastors and pastors. We will have to answer for our flock at the Last Judgement. We carry the burden of both their sins and our failure to be always a good example and good teachers for them . . . .

      On this day of Cheesefast, the Sunday of Forgiveness, I make to every one of you, beloved in the Lord bishops, fathers, brothers, and sisters, a humble appeal to forgive me for all my many sins before you.” [Italics added]

      [Source: Information Bulletin (Department of External Relations, Moscow Patriarchate), no. 5 (March 15, 1993)]

      Mr. Lipper, I hope that puts to rest your false, uncharitable claim and, perhaps, encourages you to reconsider your attitude toward the Russian Orthodox Church both then and now.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Thank you for setting the record straight, Fr.

      • Monk James Silver says

        God bless Fr Alexander Webster for his good words.

        Yet all of this, while true, fails to mention the fact that even Patriarch Sergius Stragorodskiy was not guilty of the ‘sergianism’ named for him and of which enemies of the Russian Orthodox Church accused him and his church, claiming that they were denying the providence of God and depending on the godless sovyet state for their very existence.

        No Orthodox Christian — in Russia or elsewhere — was EVER guilty of ‘sergianism’. The whole idea was a lie fabricated by people who couldn’t imagine that Christianity might somehow survive in Russia during the decades of communist persecution.

        The ROCOR’s Met. Lavr proved them wrong, and so the Patriarchate of Moscow and the ROCOR were reconciled in 2007.

        Lately, though, Moscow — the Russian Orthodox Church INSIDE of Russia — has acted in ways which seem to disregard the mission and purpose of the Russian Orthodox Church OUTSIDE of Russia (the ROCOR), especially in western Europe. Only Heaven knows what this portends for the rest of the world.

        While I can’t imagine what this must look like within the ROCOR, it’s becoming clear that Moscow is not respecting its agreements with them, or with the Orthodox Church in America, to which it granted autocephaly in 1970.

        The OCA can make its own way canonically, if it must, but perhaps it’s time for the Russian Orthodox Church to withdraw the ROCOR’s portfolio, if they are to be at all consistent in their evident and practical ecclesiology.

        At least in North America, it appears to me that the ROCOR would be safer uniting with the Orthodox Church in America than remaining in a ‘poor relations’ status with the church of Russia.

        Russia is Russia. America is not Russia, and our Orthodox church here hasn’t been Russian for a very long time.

        Orthodox Christians who come to America from other countries ought to realize that we are not a suburb of Constantinople or of anyplace else.

        There is an autocephalous Orthodox Church in America, and those immigrants should attend its parishes rather than think that they can establish ethnic enclaves disguised as Orthodox Christian parishes.

        After all, if they wanted to keep all their ethnic identifiers, they could have stayed in Europe. But they came here, and here is where we take the services in English with a little bit of Greek, Church Slavonic, and other languages, just exceptionally. But if people really want another language, they should have stayed home and not have come to America.

        While our ecclesiological relationship with Canada remains to be clarified, it must be said that we are in North America, and we are Americans, not Russians or Greeks or Romanians or anyone else.

        We are who we are, where we are, and when we are, and we must spread the Gospel.

        God grant us what we need to preach the Gospel here and to all nations!

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster,
        It’s commendable that you accept Patriarch Alexei’s 1993 Lenten Message as words of heartfelt repentance.  Yet these words rang hollow to the ROCOR hierarchy as evident eight years later in their October 2001 Epistle to the Moscow Patriarchate:
        “The division between you and us is dismissed as ‘political’ by many. However, in the revolutionary events in Russia that are to blame for the beginning of our division, we see nothing political in the proper sense of the word. The motivating factors of those bloody events were lies, deception, apostasy and theomachism. You must agree that this gives us the right to evaluate the ‘sovietization’ of Russia as a moral and profoundly religious catastrophe. ”
        Eight years later, ROCOR was still demanding repentance from the Moscow Patriarchate.  This demand for repentance came even after the MP’s glorification of the Royal Passion-bearers, and the release of the Basis of the Social Concept in the year 2000.  However, thankfully, all these were inroads for the eventual reconciliation that took place in May 2007.  
        Yet here we are in 2019, twelve years later.  The leader of the Russian Federation is still the former head of the KGB, and the position of the Patriarch of Moscow is still held by a former agent of that same agency, code name “Drozdov”.  So, where was the justice?
        Yet, now we have the Moscow Patriarchate still demanding repentance from those Ukrainians whose only actual reason for being labeled as “schismatics” is there desire and insistence on autocephaly within their own sovereign nation of Ukraine.

        • Firstof all Joseph, your claim against Patriarch Kirill is utterly appauling, slanderous, and baseless. In the past I myself have done extensive research on the slanderous claim that His Holiness is a former KGB agent, and just like the claim against Patriarch Alexi the last time around. This slanderous claim is mostly based on the fact that there was supposedly a KGB agent that was had the code name ”Gudaev” (a common last name in Russia), and therefore because Patriarch Kirill has a similar last name, they MUST be the same person. This is a wild conspiracy theory made up by obviously anti–Russian sources, and later parroted by a myriad of tabloid sites online. It is a silly claim, especially considering the fact that it is a really terrible idea to make the code name of a secret agent just be his legal last name. (don’t you think the formerly most powerful secret agency in the world would have a luttle more sense than that, Joseph?). Evil baseless accusations like that do nothing but scandalize the faithful, and should not be repeated by anyone considering themselves to be an Orthodox Christian, ESPECIALLY when speaking to an Archpriest.

          Secondly, I’m sure that this has been explained to you many times before, but there are legidimate reasons why the various groups thar make up the so–called “OCU” are considered to be schismatics, first among them being that most of their ordinations are indisputably invalid, such as those performed in the UAOC, a group which has never had any sort of apostolic succesion whatsoever.

          “Beware of the Ukrainian self-ordained” -st. Lawrence of Chernigorov

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Yes, I am just realizing my own mix-up of KGB code names.  It seems the former Patriarch of Moscow’s code name was “Drozdov” and the current Patriarch’s code name was “Mikhailov”.  This is all documented in the Mitrokhin archive, and from other sources also.  Vasily Mitrokhin was the senior archivist for the KGB before his defection to the UK in 1992, taking with him his archival notes.  By his own estimates, about half of the clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate were directly connected with the KGB at the time of his defection.  
            Randt, isn’t there supposed to be a canon or something against clergy being KGB agents?  I mean, that by itself makes these ordinations questionable.  It appears the Moscow Patriarchate was also secretly ordaining married men as bishops, as purportedly was the case with the former Metropolitan of Kiev, Filaret.  On top of that, we also have the Russian practice of openly receiving Roman Catholic schismatic clergy into the Church without re-ordination. 
            Sure, the OCU is a rough bunch, there’s no denying that.  However, it was impossible for these people to reconcile with the Moscow Patriarchate, and only because these people insisted on autocephaly.  It was only the Patriarch of Constantinople who was able to reconcile with them, and an important part of that reconciliation was the retirement of “Patriarch” Filaret. 

            For the time being, the instances of “church seizures” hasn’t proved to be nearly as bad as some feared, and now the current Ukrainian government is vowing to restore any illegal seizures back to their rightful owners.  May that be so.  I don’t see any good reason why there can’t be communion between the OCU and the UOC.  Metropolitan Epiphany also commemorates Patriarch Kirill when he serves Divine Liturgy.

            • Brute from bygone ages says

              Sergey Dumenko is not a Metropolitan. 
              Drozdov was codename of Denisenko. Mihailov was nobody. Soviets refused to recognise monastic names, so in dealings with the bishops they used secular premonastic names. It’s Mihail Antonovič Denisenko, again. 

            • Joseph Lipper: “It seems the former Patriarch of Moscow’s code name was “Drozdov” and the current Patriarch’s code name was “Mikhailov”.”

              It seems that you do not understand how the Soviet system (and others) worked. Every person of special interest had a code name. It does not mean that clergy were agents in disguise. The most important figures were obliged to have regular contact with the authorities, it was a condition to function in public.
              Joseph Lipper: “the OCU is a rough bunch”
              On this we can agree. They are a rough bunch, same way as Positives Christentum were (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_Christianity).

            • Joseph Lipper: “Yes, I am just realizing my own mix-up of KGB code names.  It seems the former Patriarch of Moscow’s code name was “Drozdov” and the current Patriarch’s code name was “Mikhailov”.  This is all documented in the Mitrokhin archive, and from other sources also.”


              Brute from bygone ages: “Drozdov was codename of Denisenko. Mihailov was nobody.”

              Joseph, before you start to throw another well “documented” names, perhaps you reveal what is your own codename?  Just kidding of course 😉
              You seem to carry a big chip on your shoulder.

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Martin, as the saying goes in the spy world, “If I told you, then I’d have to kill you.”  (Just kidding of course.)
                Felix Corley has written a short piece entitled “The Mikhailov Files:  Patriarch Kirill and the KGB”.  In this piece, he points out what is known and is public information available from the KGB archives.  It shows that Agent Mikhailov was a high-up religious figure with the same birthdate and characteristics of the current Patriarch and who was engaged in ecumenical affairs such as attending the World Council of Churches.  Of course, Patriarch Kirill was the protege of Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad, who formerly handled the external affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate and attended WCC meetings, and eventually Kirill himself took over that position.
                What’s interesting about Corley’s study is that it shows, from the available information, that Agent Mikhailov was engaged in ecumenical activity as a religious leader at the behest of the Soviet government.  In other words, the Russian Orthodox Church was attending these WCC meetings because the Soviet government wanted to use it as a platform to engage in political manipulation.
                Corley’s study only covers what is from available information dating back to the 70’s and 80’s.  Yet, the Russian Orthodox Church is still engaged in ecumenical activities, and more recently we have the previously unheard of event of Patriarch Kirill meeting Pope Francis in Cuba, issuing a “Joint Declaration”.  Then just months afterwards, the current Metropolitan of External Affairs, Hilarion, gifts to Pope Francis a holy relic of St. Seraphim of Sarov.  How strange.  It’s difficult not to wonder if this ecumenical alliance is directed somehow by the Russian Federation’s current government.  It sounds eerily like the same stuff that was going on back in the 70’s and 80’s.

                  Joseph Lipper:
                  “Then just months afterwards, the current Metropolitan of External Affairs, Hilarion, gifts to Pope Francis a holy relic of St. Seraphim of Sarov. ”

                  Which is worse, that, or what Bartholomew gifted to the President of a multinational Co, the Quran which rejects the Holy Trinity, the Crucifiction and Resurrection the foundations of the Church?


                  • Brute from bygone ages says

                    Also, there is no “archive” in “Mitrohin archives”. It’s set of hand written notes, which former KGB officer gave to the British spy agencies. As for academia paper you linked it’s not worth of paper on whhich it was printed. “Author” accuses Patriarch, without any proof, and then simply copies and pastes few pages of mentions of “agent Mihailov”… Without establishing who Mihailov is. But, I guess everything is fine in avoiding real problems like who were leaders of “Ukrainians wose only sin was that they wanted ibdependent Church”.
                    KGB informant Drozdov, former Metropolitan Filaret, and former archpriest Maletich, ordained by impostors. Can you please focus on that two persons. 

                • Brute from bygone ages says

                  Joseph, so called Mitrokhin Archives spoke about external colabourators, like a president of Somalia. I doubt it would deal about deacons of Metropolitan Nikodim Rotov. What do you seem to ignore is, for some reason, you slipped well confirmed code name “Drozdov”. It was also DECR chairman, personal friend of KGB leaders… former Patriarchal exarch of Ukraine, former Metropolitan Filaret… For whom you said his only desire was “desire for autocephaly”…
                  Schism is a grave sin. Far worse than colabouration with spy agencies. We can start with Phanar… Patriarchs were appointed by Ottonans, or Mi-6.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    Brute from bygone ages,

                    Felix Corley also wrote a short piece entitled “The Antonov Files: Patriarch Filaret and the KGB”. In this piece, Corley compiles publicly available information about “Agent Antonov” who was a top religious figure in the Moscow Patriarchate, with the same birthdate, characteristics, and travels as the former Metropolitan of Kiev, Filaret.


                    Interestingly, one of the main objectives of Agent Antonov was the suppression of Ukrainian Uniates. Agent Antonov was tasked with influencing the Pope of Rome to comply with the objectives of the Soviet State regarding the status of the Uniates in Ukraine. Again, ecumenism and such venues as the World Council of Churches were being used by the Soviet Government as a platform for political manipulation. The Russian Orthodox Church’s involvement in ecumenism was at the behest of the Soviet government.

                    All of this sounds eerily familiar to what we witness today. Metropolitan Hilarion now makes frequent trips to the Vatican, and even has private meetings with the Pope:

                    “Pope Francis received a Russian Orthodox Church delegation led by Metropolitan Hilarion. During the meeting the Roman Pontiff stated that the path of Uniatism is not the path to walk today, and reiterated his belief that ecumenism, which is achieved by walking together, which is the path towards Christian unity.”

                    It seems the old Soviet government mission of influencing the Pope of Rome to suppress the Ukrainian Uniates never went away.

                    • Brute from bygone ages says

                      Joseph, who is that Felix guy, and why he is relevant here?
                      KGB tried to make Filaret Denisenko Patriarch. When failed, he went in schism. He was also maried as monk. Besides of that, Maletič’s group is heretical. They accepted ordination of impostor, and canonized self-cobsecrated heretic Vasil Lipkovski…
                      Fact that Constantinopolitan Patriarch dares ti restore such people is disturbing, to put it mildly.
                      That’s impirtnant issue here, not what some Felix guy recycled from Mi-6 pamphlets. 

            • The false “Metropolitan” Epiphany only reluctantly commemorates His Holiness Patriarch Kirill because the EP has been putting great pressure on him to do so, if it were up to him he wouldn’t commemorate Patriarch Kirill at all. 

              “I don’t see any reason at all why the OCU and UOC shouldn’t have communion with eachother” there is a kind of smug erasure of church history and practice latent in this statement. Just replace “OCU” with “the pope of Rome” and “UOC” with “the Eastern church” and you’ve got a common argument often heard from RC defenders of the “council” of Florence. I have noticed in most arguments in defense of the EP’s uncanonical and evil actions in Ukraine a certain disregard for the many times in history when the church has had legitimately needed to condemn and excommunicate those that seek to wound her. It demonstrates a kind of historical amnesia, oblivious to the fact that the church, even in the modern age, is a place where there can still be heretics among us, who need to be dealt with. “Just stop worrying about doctrine and shut up for the sake of unity” is the same argument the betrayers of christ at the “council” of Florence made. This unity you seek between the schismatic “OCU” and the canonical UOC is no unity at all, but a Godless attempt to heal the wounds of the church by placebo, rather than the healing that comes from a genuine, canonical solution to the situation, which in my opinion, involves the full and unequivocal condemnation of the malevolent “OCU”. 

              Also, I have no idea where you are getting your claims that the horrid seizures of the churches of the UOC by the OCU “aren’t all that bad”. Just last week I read of a priest with multiple children being kicked out of his parish house of 30+ years, as well as (on a separate occasion) death threats, an arson, a mob beating an elderly man half to death, etc. etc. I could go on. Is this “not all that bad”? When is the cut off point for “bad” for you? When someone gets murdered?

              And, even if the church seizures “weren’t all that bad”, which they are, the fact that ALL the bishops and priests of the “OCU” either have an uncanonical ordination devoid of apostolic succession, or have been defrocked, (not to mention it’s leader being an open supporter of a nazi war criminal) would still be enough to justify their lack of inter-communion. 

              May God bless you and keep you Joseph, but please do not forget the fact that you are called to uphold and conform to the Orthodox faith, not to the worldly aspirations of those who hate Christ and his Holy Orthodox Church.
              “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” Matthew 12:30

              “Then the Metropolitan of Kiev (not worthy of the name) together with his like-minded hierarchs and priests will strongly shake the Russian Church. The whole world will be amazed at his lawlessness and will be frightened. He himself will go off into eternal perdition, like Judas.

              But all these slanders of the evil one and false teachings will disappear in Russia, and there will be One Orthodox Russian Church.” -St. Lawrence of Chernigov

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Excellent post, Randy. I love the term: “historical amnesia.”

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Please don’t get me wrong, the scuffles in Ukraine over church property were bad, but what I said is it “hasn’t proved to be nearly as bad as some feared”.  I believe that’s accurate.  People expected much worse.  Perhaps things will get worse, but at least the present Ukrainian government is making a commitment to restore order.  Even if we expect the worst, let’s still hope for the best.
                Your comparison of the OCU to the Uniates is unfair.  Apparently some people on this blog would be delighted if the OCU commemorated the Pope of Rome, but it just isn’t the case.  It’s not happening.  Even if people want to believe that somehow it’s going to happen, we have to be fair and admit that it’s not happening now.  We can’t condemn people for committing a sin they haven’t committed.  Though the OCU is still labeled “schismatic” by the Moscow Patriarchate, the OCU is not being labeled as heretics.  If there actually was some heresy the OCU was teaching, there’s no doubt that it would be widely trumpeted by the Moscow Patriarchate.  We would all know about it for sure.

                • First of all, we have been hearing about a very pervasive and pernicious heresy that is openly espoused and supported by all facets of the “OCU” from the MP for years now, that being (as rightly pointed out by various prominent and respectable church theologians, both Greek and Russian) the heresy of Eastern Neo-Papism (not to mention ethnophylitism). For examples of this heresy being pointed out, good sources are Fr. Theodore Zisis, Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraus, Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokomansk, and Fr. George Maximov 
                  A good article to read is https://pravoslavie.ru/118507.html
                  It is an ecclesialogical heresy, but no less a heresy than Roman Papism. 
                  Secondly, you completely missed the point of my comparison between arguments defending the “council” of Florence and your idea that the “OCU” and the UOC should unite. It had nothing qualitatively to do with the claim that the “OCU” wants to unite with the RCC, as it was a simple rhetorical comparison between two illogical arguments. I used this comparison with the “council” of Florence to point out the similarities between your dismissive statement that “there is no reason why the “OCU” and UOC shouldn’t unite” and the dismissive arguments of RC’s who “see no dogmatic reason why the Orthodox church and the Roman Catholic Church shouldn’t unite”.  I could have just have easily replaced “the council of Florence” with any of the 6th century robber councils that attempted to unite the Orthodox church and the monophysites and it wouldn’t change my argument. My point was that dogmatic/ecclesialogical disagreements can’t be so easily dismissed, just because you personally don’t agree with the arguments of the MP against the schismatic “OCU”. Whether or not you like it, there are still legitimate dogmatic reasons (as mentioned above) why the UOC chooses not to unite with the “OCU”, that cannot be dismissed with the wave of the hand for the sake of a false sense of “unity”. Unity without unity in dogma is no unity at all, which is why we don’t have open communion. Even if all the ecclesialogical claims of the MP were wrong, the MP still has a firm and united belief in those claims, and the “OCU” has a firm and united belief in an ecclesiology that is fundamentally opposed to that of the MP’s, so even in that circumstance lack of inter-communion would still be justified. 
                  Speaking of which, here is a wonderful article written with numerous showing the open and deliberate aspirations of “Epiphany” to unite with the Uniates:

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    The charge of “neo-papism” is worth considering for all the Churches that have foreign exarchates, and it’s a topic that should be brought up in an Ecumenical Council.  It’s peculiar that the Moscow Patriarchate probably has at least as many, if not more, foreign exarchates than the EP.  This should be examined.  Yes, Orthodoxy is not meant to be the equivalent of Roman Catholic Papism with subjection to a foreign headship, and that’s why we have distinct autocephalous churches.  It’s notable that the OCU’s tomos forbids it from having any foreign exarchates.
                    Personally, I would be very surprised if Metropolitan Epiphany subjects himself to Rome.  Pope Francis has openly stated that he does not support Uniatism as a positive thing, but rather has openly admitted it’s negative consequences.  I don’t believe Pope Francis would allow it to happen.

                    • Estonian Slovak says

                      I wonder just how much you know about Ukrainians, Joseph.(I also wonder why I bother dialog with you, since the EP is never wrong, in your eyes, no matter what).
                      I don’t believe you’ve ever answered the questions, are you Ukrainian, do you speak Ukrainian,or what is your interest in the Ukrainian church?
                      I have had dialogues with Ukrainian Catholics who are tired of Rome, who would be open to union with the OCU. They appear to want one super Ukrainian church. They also won’t rest until every Russian in Ukraine either leaves or assimilates. That’s outdoing even the IRA and their anti-British bias. Incidentally, Ireland has two official languages; English and Irish(Gaelic). And most people still use English as their day to day language. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve begun a conversation with someone in Ukrainian only to have them respond in Russian even in the Ukrainian Orthodox churches I used to frequent before all this trouble started.
                      I also can’t grasp how you seem to want to have everything both ways. Are you sure YOU’RE not Russian? When President Putin didn’t kiss Metropolitan Laurus”s hand in 2003, he was being a devout Russian Orthodox,right? But now he’s a KGB man again, right? What happened in between? I guess he was ok until the EP decided to back Ukrainian autocephaly

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Estonian Slovak,
                      I guess like yourself, I am interested in Orthodox unity in America, and that’s the main reason I am still in support of the reconciliation of ROCOR with Moscow.  I’m glad it happened.  However, whatever unity we had has now been damaged in America.  ROCOR has broken communion with ACROD, GOA, and UOC-USA, and I believe this break in communion was done primarily to maintain communion with the Moscow Patriarchate.  Patriarch Kirill made those terms clear and mandatory.
                      So, ROCOR has stopped attending Assembly of Bishops in America.   I suppose the decision was either do that, or go into schism again with Moscow.  Perhaps it’s time for a third option. 
                      Yes, I believe ROCOR is being played by the Russian Federation.  We’re supposed to be Americans here, and not duped into being loyalists of the Russian government.  The time is ripe for ROCOR in America to start contemplating more on how to identify as Orthodox in America, and less as Russian Orthodox Outside of Russia.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      RE: So, ROCOR has stopped attending Assembly of Bishops in America.

                      They haven’t met as a group since last year. (They were supposed to conclude their mission with Crete.) – The Assembly is under the control of Elpi now.
                      Those with access to their website are promoting ecumenical dialog these days. Their most recent efforts have to do with, among other things, expanding the role of lay people (think women). ROCOR isn’t going to have anything to do with this.

                      Menas asks if Batholomew is going to drag the whole Patriarchate, diaspora included, down into oblivion. Yes, if he can get away with it.

                    • Joseph Lipper: “I am interested in Orthodox unity”

                      Do you think that your constant disparagement of Russian Church serve this purpose?

                  • This just in: Archbishop Staroslav of the UGCC just met with Patriarch Bartholomew in Rome to discuss union between the “OCU” and the UGCC, as well as various other points of “ecumenical dialogue”

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Well, there you go.

                    • Estonian Slovak says

                      Birds of a feather who hate Russia together!

                    • Solitary Priest says

                      Commenting to Joseph above, yes, I am a loyal American citizen. But I would answer with the words of St. Tikhon the Confessor of Moscow, that I accept the laws of this country, as long as they don’t contradict the laws of piety.
                      When you have legalized murder through abortion, when you have legalized same-sex marriages, when you have Sharia law being enforced even if it contradicts civil law; then I would say you have a problem.
                      My loyalty is to Christ and His Church. That must take precedence above loyalty to any country or any leader.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Well said, Fr!

                      Personal question (if you don’t mind): what is your contingency plan when Bob “Barsanuphias” Jones and Bill “Vasily” Smith show up at your church for you to “marry” them? Or if they just want to rent your parish hall for the “reception”? Have you talked with any other Orthodox priests about this?

          • Randt,
            you have very good points.
            I wonder if anybody here can prove them wrong.

            • Solitary Priest says

                  To answer your question, as of now, I have a bishop(OCA) who would support me. If times change and God forbid, his successor mandates such a thing, I already have an exit strategy in place. I believe most Orthodox priests in this area, including ROCOR, Serbian, and Antiochian, feel the same way. 

              • George Michalopulos says

                That’s good to know Fr. Because as things stack up now, the handwriting is on the wall as far as the GOA/EP/Phanar axis is concerned. It’s a subtle thing which will happen subtly. How it will happen is this way: the targeted parish will lose its tax exemption. My take on the GOA is that the average GOA parish will cave rather than lose their tax exemption. Probably other marginal, ethnic parishes will likewise cave.

                Just keep an eye on the Fordhamites, they’re leading the way.

                • Antiochene Son says

                  I don’t know how other jurisdictions are legally organized, but in the Antiochian Archdiocese individual parishes don’t hold their own individual 501(c)3 registration; rather parishes are tax-exempt by virtue of membership in the Archdiocese. So it would be a huge legal mess to target an individual parish’s tax-exempt status. (Not that the homosexualists mightn’t try.)

  10. Rhonda Dodson says

    I don’t see how the Greek Church’s Assembly of Bishops is going to decide anything ref the Ukraine situation as the topic has yet to appear on its agenda. Thus the proverbial can will be officially kicked down the proverbial road for at least another year.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Well, good.

      Personally, I’d rather they man up and do the right thing but if they can’t, then it would be a condign punishment on the EP to let this worthless pet project of his in Ukraine twist in the wind.

  11. Please allow me to bring up a very important topic. In the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Chicago, there is an icon of the Panagia that is weeping. This is the church that has been in and out of the bankruptcy court in the last couple of years. Recently, an LGBQ group bought the church. We need to reverse this and have the church back as an Orthodox church. If the parish can’t afford it, there needs to be a fund drive that includes all Orthodox. Let this church be a pan-Orthodox  shrine. We can’t ignore this sign from heaven. It’s as if God is telephoning us and we hang up the phone. Bishop Nathanael needs to take action. 80,000,000 has been spent on that ecumenical shrine at ground zero in Manhatten. If it’s completed, I’m sure a lot of people will be proud of it, and the public will praise it. But, in the Chicago case, it is God speaking. We have to pay attention and please God. I say we need to starting collecting money and get Holy Trinity back as an Orthodox Church to please God.

  12. It is more accurate to describe the Universal Life Church as an all-inclusive organization. It includes atheists, pagans, satanists, as well as the complete spectrum of LGBT’s. The tens of thousands of organized religions are included(I’m sure the disorganized ones won’t be left out either). My point is that Holy Trinity Church is sacred ground. God has communicated with us on that site. Neither Universal Life or any other group belongs there. We Orthodox must move quickly to keep that Church

    • Michael Bauman says

      No wonder the Theotokos is weeping. The priest there expressed no idea why when interviewed by Fox News

  13. Estonian Slovak says

    It would not be the first Orthodox church to bite the dust. The first Romanian Orthodox church in the US is now a place for rehab meetings( if I recall). It was St. Mary’s(Dormition) Romanian Orthodox church from it’s foundation in 1904. Sometime in the 1950’s, the building was purchased by a Russian congregation. It became Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox church and was ROCOR, later Metropolia/OCA, and still later reverted to ROCOR. Since it was organised as part of a lay brotherhood, the ROCOR diocese was powerless to prevent the sale to whoever is now using the building.
          Actually, I have mixed feelings about such things. I used to think that all church property should be deeded to the diocese, as is the case in both the Roman church and the GOA. That’s why almost no parish has ever been able to vote itself out of the GOA. The ROCOR by-laws indicate that if a parish closes, all assets revert to the diocese. I think the OCA has similar by-laws. But if the congregation has NOT adopted the official by-laws; as I said, the diocese is powerless.
          Maybe, with the way some Hierarchs are today, the congregation might be better off independent, after all. That way, if the OCA really did submit to the EP, parishes would have an out.

    • Slovak,
      I see you imbibe freely of the Michalopoulos beer brewed here.
      Newsflash: neither the OCA, nor any agent of it has any plan to give up the ship to the EP. Just because it was rumored to be in the offing — and now known definitively to have originated from the very lips of Abp. Elpidophoros himself as recently as Aug. 30 in Long Beach, CA — does not make it so, no matter how many times this blog’s author will insinuate it.  
      Every parish of the OCA is owned by its parish council corporation; this is stipulated by the Universal Bylaws of the Archdiocese in order to prevent replay of lawsuits brought by Living Church agents against the Metropolia in the 1920s, that were successful in alienating property from the archdiocese. Because each parish’s affiliation with Diocesan authority does not extend to bishops owning any church property, parishes are free to reaffiliate without loss of it. It happens most frequently with parishes in identity crises, where the reality of the Local Church in America does not satisfy and the ethnic siren song plays more convincingly among poorly-formed Orthodox, more faithful to national blood & soil mythos than the Blood of Christ. 
      In the case of any GOARCH or AOCNA parish wishing to reaffiliate, or alienate itself from the archdiocese, they would have to be willing, Dukhovor-like, to lose all their property and start over. Thus ‘Stamboul and Damascus present a spiritual opportunity to parishes to act on their conscience that the OCA does not; venal reasons for leaving the latter present no legal obstacle, and they can (and do) keep their churches. The only Greek or Antiochian parish I ever heard of leaving their temple behind was Ss. Peter & Paul in Ben Lomond, CA.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Claes, I did not “insinuate” it.  I “reported” it.  And now you have done me the favor of confirming it, to the extent that you say that Arb Elpi has openly stated that this is the case.

        To all:  please understand, I am in the OCA and love the OCA.  I treasure its autocephaly.  If however there are back-channel negotiations going on to bring the OCA under the EP, I believe it my duty to report it, in order to possibly derail it.  

        I will go further:  if there are side-deals being made behind the scenes between parts of the OCA and the EP, I will report on those as well. 

        In any case, I hope to God that no such negotiations are going on.  If so, we would be going out of the frying pan and into the fire.  

        • George, you have absolutely no reliable attestation of this charge. You do continue to insinuate that there are Benedict Arnolds among the Synod of OCA bishops. I can tell you something more besides the origin of the rumor in the crooked mind and tongue of Elpidophoros: there is an OCA bishop I know of who will not concelebrate with the Greek Archbishop. And this same bishop would not be on your list of folks who would take to OCA onto the battlefield in your 1990s hobbyhorse cultural wars. The Synod of the OCA does not have ‘back channels’ like the corrupt Whitehouse of the present day, and the bishops work together honestly and transparently. Do you seriously consider my report of the rumor’s definitive origin as somehow corroborating your false narrative? I don’t know what else can be said to satisfy your conspiratorial mind. You want to believe this rumor, you have investment in it. Reminds me of ‘sharpiegate’— doubling down on nonsense.
          The autocephaly of the OCA is NOT on the table under Metr. Tikhon.  

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Claes, you keep saying that George based his story on the rumor started by Elpi, himself, in Long Beach on the 30th, right? The problem with your theory is George came out with his piece on the 15th, 5 DAYS BEFORE the 30th. How could he base his story on a “narrative” that hadn’t yet occurred?

            You can’t know it’s a “false narrative,” either. Politically, it makes perfect sense that Elpi would want the OCA under him and it makes sense that the OCA would consider it in exchange for the recognition. I just heard from yet another source the autocephaly of the OCA is still on the table.

            Time will tell who is “doubling down on nonsense.”

            • No Gail, I did not insist the rumor originated 8/30; I only assert that that day he most definitely and openly pronounced the same. Abp. (NOT ‘Arb.’) Benjamin had already gathered that Elpi was the source of the lie before that date; George continues to assert without proof that it came from anonymous sources within the OCA.
              The latecoming news of the Long Beach gathering confirms our previous guesses. 

          • George Michalopulos says

            Claes, at no point in my reportage did I use the words “Benedict Arnold” and “bishops”. There are many different levels of administration which engages in consultation with other bodies. An apparat if you will.

            • Your implication remains that there is a ‘mole in the potting shed’ and that the OCA is not the ecclesial unity it seems but is riven by subterfuge and treachery.
              I reject this baseless and paranoid accusation not borne out by any actions. Do you claim that the individual opinions of OCA clergymen amount to this? I see you are retreating into vague supposition and lawyerly ratiocinations. I rest my case; this game grows tiresome. 
              The OCA stands autocephalous despite the ill wishes of the dissembling scandalmonger Elpidophoros and the insinuations you or others carrying his water publish. 

        • George, 
          could what happened to the Russian Archdiocese of Western Europe be what Bartholomew and Abp. Elpi have in store for the OCA? I divide and conquer tactic if you will. 
          I would imagine a soft majority (if not full majority) of the OCA would not vote to move under GOARCH (similar to what happened with Apb. John of the Russian diocese), but, with a weakened OCA, I’m sure that benefits Constantinople. 
          The way I see it, the PoC wants to squash anything “Russian” and since the OCA has its roots in Russia, it is going to spite Moscow, who have it autocephaly 
          FWIW I am Antiochian and with my patriarch/archbishop would state what our position is

  14. Deacon Nektarios, the keeper of the Hawaiian myrrh-streaming Iveron icon, usually gives a talk to those who come to venerate the icon. He tells of the many miracles and healings that have been bestowed on those that venerate the icon and are anointed with the myrrh. But then he places the miracles in perspective by reminding  the people that the greatest miracle of all takes place each Sunday on the altar of your parish church when the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, and that they should not fail to partake. I say the sign given at Holy Trinity can be honored without diminishing our worship of Christ-crucified. Indeed in view of the circumstances at Holy Trinity-the sale of the church and the weeping of the Panagia’s icon. How can you can you ignore her weeping?

    • Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

      He was ordained a deacon? I never knew that. The last time I read about him, he was a reader. If this is true, AXIOS!

      • Subdeacon Nektarios became a deacon recently in the Joy of All Sorrows cathedral in San Francisco, last month if I remember corrctly.

  15. Speaking of the EP and anti-Russian political moves:
    Years ago, I was at a large conference and talked with a lady who had just joined the Orthodox Church that year, and who was asked by the organizer to give the “Orthodox perspective” on certain social issues (if I remember right). We were talking about national politics in that light, and I (of Russian heritage) happened to joke that all the most famous Orthodox people in America were Greeks who were liberal Democrats (e.g. Dukakis, Stephanapoulos) , instead of a random scattering of political views. It was really just my joke about the mass media, who decides who steers publicity as they wish!
    But she angrily retorted, “I am sick and tired of hearing how the Greeks and Russians hate each other!” and stomped off. I had never in my life heard anything from anyone about “Greeks and Russians” hating each other, and my life experience has always been one of small peaceful parishes, all serving their own local communities. That’s why it so sad that the EP is mixing in and causing turmoil when there need never be any, and any opposition to his empire-building has nothing to do with him (or his predecessors) as actually being “Greek”.
    PS: (She soon left her short stint in the Orthodox Church and next became Roman Catholic).

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Maybe she was just tired of hearing about Greeks and Russians all the time, and she exaggerated a bit….

      • Monk James Silver says

        Who is ‘she’?

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          She is the she who is the subject of the post I replied to.
          I have looked again at that post. I can’t see the possibility of confusion, unless the posts and replies do not ‘stack up’ on your screen as they do on mine.

          • Monk James Silver says

            I think that the posts usually do appear in order for me, but my question is more related to a puzzlement that this unnamed woman’s bizarre behavior might be taken as an indication that the Orthodox are really doing anything which might have caused it.

            That is, unless the Russians and the Greeks — in spite of being Christians — really ARE enemies, rather than that the Phanar is uncanonically interfering in the internal affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              Well, the quality of irony is both hard to convey on a blog, and, apart from that, often lost on some.
              Here’s my meaning: when a ‘heterodox’ (an unlovely expression, incidentally), be he or she Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, etc. etc., becomes Orthodox, they hear considerably more about Greeks and Russians than they had perhaps anticipated.
              I could say more. More of Christ, less of Greece and Russia. I haven’t been to Greece, but I’ve been to the Greek world, in Cyprus. I have been to Russia, under the old regime, and have attended deeply moving services there. I have deep respect for them and their place in Orthodoxy. Beyond that, I don’t care anything about them. Or rather, I care about them like I care about France, Italy, Sweden, etc. 
              But anyway, you get the point, I suppose.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Tim, you say ‘heterodox’ (an unlovely expression, incidentally). I disagree with you, it is actually a quite descriptive word that covers all possibilities from being simply non-Orthodox (which they are) all the way to heretic and blasphemous. It would not be difficult at all to make it quite a bit more unlovely. Within the word heterodox there is still a tacit acknowledgement of a fundamental and real belief in Jesus Christ.

                At its most general it simply signifies there is a distinct difference between the doctrine and practice of the Orthodox Church and others.

                I have never met anyone, including myself who came from a decidedly heretical group, who does not significantly value what they are leaving behind. That is true for me too, even though 90% of what I left behind is garbage. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ was there for me and many others as I am sure He was for you and is for your family and friends.

                Unfortunately, the garbage dump is growing and includes people who say they are Orthodox but actually believe and practice in quite a heterodox way (or worse). Discernment in love is always necessary.

                As people, all of us are heterodox in some ways so it is crucial to make the distinction there as well. Just because Calvinism is a condemned heresy and a good deal of its expression describes God in blasphemous ways does not mean that a particular person from that tradition is a heretic or a blasphemer.

                We are all called to “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  I don’t disagree. My comment was confusing. It’s the word ‘heterodox’, like several other Greek terms sometimes used in English in religious contexts, that I find unlovely. Not the concept; and, indeed, there may not be a better term, I don’t know.
                  “You are heterodox”….”Say what?!”
                  ‘Orthodox’ is not such a great term either, because when one says that one is ‘orthodox’, nobody really understands you until you add “Eastern”, or one of the nationalities, neither of which is all that helpful. Without the modifiers, they just think you are describing yourself as a traditional believer, in Western, i.e., Protestant or Catholic terms.
                  I don’t have a solution for that one, either.

      • Actually, the truth is that the lady with whom I was talking was attending an Orthodox church that was neither Greek not Russian during her one-year experiment of looking into the Orthodox Church, and it was not anyone in any Orthodox church talking about such invented conflict, but rather her Roman Catholic contacts (who fed her that false information and induced her to come on over to them). My point in the original comment above was that it is extremely easy for people to hear about this church-political stuff and be misled to believe that there is any truth to it. We know from history going back more than a thousand years that the anti-Christian forces of the world love nothing better than to cause conflict, and what better way than to invent a claim that we Orthodox have contempt for each other? Or, in the present crisis, to do something uncanonical, unethical, vainglorious, and divisive as the PofC did and then claim that all opposition is “only because he is Greek”.

  16. Joseph, I am of Greek ancestry and in ROCOR. My parish is about 80% converts. There is no talk about Russia in sermons or elsewhere.We are Americans and love our country, and no one is preventing that. Before the Cherubic hymn, we pray fervently for the Church in the Ukraine. ROCOR is a wonderful place for an Orthodox Christian to be. I highly recommend. It. ROCOR is no threat to my love of America and my love of my Greek ancestry. Please come and see, and please stop writing such nonsense about ROCOR. Yours in Christ.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Peter, I appreciate your response.  I’ve attended many ROCOR parishes, both in Slavonic and English, and I love them all.  It sounds like God has blessed you with a wonderful parish.  I am not suggesting anyone leave their ROCOR parish.
      What I am suggesting is that ROCOR’s recent break in communion with the EP likely came as a directive from the Russian government to Patriarch Kirill, and then was reinterpreted as Patriarch Kirill’s mandate to all the bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate, including the ROCOR hierarchy.  In the Soviet past, it is documented that the Moscow Patriarch was influencing world politics at the behest of the Soviet government.  Today, after almost 30 years of the collapse of the Soviet government, the Russian leaders of both Church and State are still holdovers from the USSR.  
      So now here we are in the U.S. and it is only ROCOR and the MP that has broken communion with ACROD, GOA, and UOC-USA.  Nobody else has.  Did ROCOR really have a choice not to do this?  I don’t think so, unless they would break from Moscow again.  That’s a lousy deal.  Orthodox communion in America has become collateral damage.  We are living in America, not in Russia or Ukraine.

      • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

        I see you are talking through your hat again, Mr. Lipper.

        As a ROCOR priest and Dean Emeritus of Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, I think I have the correct pulse of the ROCOR bishops and other clergy. We regard the breaking of communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its subsidiaries as regrettable and painful but also unquestionably necessary for the several reasons already discussed on numerous occasions on this blog.

        I appeal to you to resist the temptation to speculate and pontificate about the life of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Patriarchate of Moscow. There was no compulsion or “Soviet-style” intimidation whatsoever in the decision of the Holy Synod of Bishops in ROCOR to concur with the mother Church on that question.

        Moreover, your musings about ROCOR parishes and clergy joining the OCA are even more preposterous. I do not know a single ROCOR bishop, priest, or deacon who would ever make such a move. As a refugee myself from the OCA after the shameless episode of Metropolitan Jonah’s forced resignation as primate under false charges and subsequent mistreatment by the OCA administration (which would shock most of the readers of this blog, if they knew the full story), I would never again consider the OCA a viable option under any circumstances.

        • Joseph Lipper says

          Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster,
          Your notable service to Orthodoxy in North America and abroad is commendable.  Your transition to ROCOR has apparently not hindered your service either, but rather has bolstered it, such as with your recent position and accomplishments as Dean of Holy Trinity Seminary.  Your example is suitable proof there’s no need or reason to abandon ROCOR, not for yourself, nor for anyone else.  I don’t suggest otherwise.  Instead, I am suggesting ROCOR may need to reinvent or redefine itself, and perhaps explore once again the nature of it’s semi-autonomy under the Moscow Patriarchate.
          While the 2007 “Act of Canonical Communion” describes the ROCOR Council of Bishops as it’s “supreme ecclesiastical, legislative, administrative, judicial and controlling authority”, nonetheless it’s made very clear in this “Act” (Item 10) that any decision made by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church extends also to ROCOR.  Thus when the ROC’s Holy Synod made the decision to break communion with the EP on October 15, now almost a year ago, that decision automatically extended to ROCOR.  It was left only for the ROCOR Council of Bishops to publicly confirm this, which they did three days later on October 18, apparently without much need for deliberation.
          While the ROC’s decision probably changes very little within Russia, and ironically changes nothing within Ukraine, it nevertheless does create change and serious problems in the “diaspora” where jurisdictions of ROCOR and the EP co-exist and are now divided.  Thus it was necessary for ROCOR’s Council of Bishops to state very clearly:
          “We thereby inform our clergy and faithful that Eucharistic intercommunion with the Church of Constantinople is presently impossible, for Hierarchy, Clergy, and Laity.  So long as this situation remains, it is not possible for clergy of our Church to celebrate in any parish of the Church of Constantinople, or for clerics of that Church to celebrate in ours;  nor is it possible for laypersons to partake of the Holy Mysteries performed in the temples of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.  We further reiterate that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will not participate in theological inter-church meetings, or other dialogues, including the regional Assemblies of Bishops, which are chaired or co-chaired by clerics or hierarchy of the Church of Constantinople.”
          In this way, the original directive coming from Moscow was repackaged by the ROCOR Council of Bishops and was thus applied to the faithful of the “diaspora”, disrupting the intercommunion shared between Orthodox jurisdictions and causing Orthodox families, friendships, and communities to be divided.
          Almost a year afterwards, no other Orthodox jurisdiction has joined with this directive of breaking communion with the EP.  It is only the Moscow Patriarchate, inclusive of ROCOR, who has done this.  No other Orthodox jurisdiction has found it necessary or helpful, baring an Ecumenical Council, to break communion with the EP.  Even though the Ukrainian autocephaly and it’s constituents are recognized by nobody other than the Patriarchate of Constantinople, this still does not prevent all the other Local Churches from communion with Constantinople. 

          The example and response of the other Local Churches shows us that Moscow’s disruption of communion was a rash and brash decision unnecessarily affecting Orthodox Christians all over the world.  Given the ROC’s Soviet past and the present leadership of both Church and State, it’s difficult not to wonder if such a decision actually originated from the Russian government, rather than the ROC’s Holy Synod itself.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Joseph, it only shows what you say it shows under your personal assumptions. Your “reasoning” is simply a statement of your own opinion. It is quite possible to believe, using the same recitation of facts, that the other jurisdictions are hiding their heads in the sand hoping it will all go away so they will not have to make any actual decisions. Ah…..the path of Orthodox Unity in a nutshell.

            Of course it is neither Orthodox, nor Unity, but hey, who really cares as long as we have nice photo-ops. At this point, everybody is wrong as far as I am concerned.

            Makes me wonder what happens if the PofC decides to unify with Rome. I know that as far as the GOA is concerned it will continue business as usual: Orthodox Unity. Real simple: submit to the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Pope. All will be well.

            It is a great opportunity to actually follow Christ rather than sitting around pretty tables discussing like Ents in The Lord of the Rings. At least they made real decisions but it cost them the Ent-wives. May our Good and merciful Lord grant us the grace and courage to do so.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              Michael, yes, probably most people “are hiding their heads in the sand”, but that’s not such a bad decision.  The main thing is to keep the faith:

              “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.  And of some have compassion, making a difference:  And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.  Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”  Jude 20-25

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                And there’s this:
                ” For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
                Including potentates and prelates in Istanbul and Moscow, and here, for that matter.

          • I will not accuse you Joseph, as I am truly a more terrible sinner than all from adam, but you have been repeatedly posting this vile slander, and you seem to never take constructive criticism or advice from your brothers in Christ. As manh have noted before, your accusatory tone lacks any sort of love or benefit of the doubt when it comes to anything related to the MP. Anf once again, you yourself a layman, have disrespected a priest and baselessly accused his bishops of being compromised by the evil Russian government. I entreat you to stop this behavior, if not for my sake then for the sake of the numerous laymen that are scandalized by your rude statements. We should speak respectfully to our priests, no matter what, even if they are speaking incorrectly.

            As for your argument, I would remind you that not a single local church has recognized or entered communion with the schismatic “OCU” with the absolute majority so far (every local church save for Greece) showing direct synodical and/or hierarchical support for the canonical UOC, with many making direct condemnations of the actions of the EP. So, by following your own logic, I could say that all local churches consider the actions of the EP just as rash, unconciliar, and damaging as you consider the actions of the MP to be.

            God Bless you Joseph. May Christ enlighten us all with his precepts.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              Randy, yes, probably most of the Local Churches are critical of the  Ecumenical Patriarchate’s actions in Ukraine as being a rash and brash decision that has damaged the Church.  Yet is it right to respond in kind?  Do two wrongs make right? 
              Is it right for the Moscow Patriarchate to respond by mandating a world-wide division in Orthodox communion?  I don’t believe so, especially since Moscow has acted alone.  That’s neo-papism.  If we want to make the argument the EP is being neo-papist, then fine, but it’s a worse argument to respond in kind.

              • The Greek Patriarch of Fener is the one who broke communion by entering into communion with schismatics.

                The Serbian Patriarchate is still in communion with Fener, but only out of economia.

                Fener is unrepentant and still charging ahead with its order of battle against not just the largest Orthodox Christian body – Moscow.

                And so we see Fener’s original “wrong” was just its opening gambit and this wrong is being compounded.
                Perhaps Fener may repent and Serbia (and whomever else) will no longer have to maintain communion with economy.
                Perhaps Fener will repent of its Ukrainian misadventure and communion will be restored with Moscow.

                Or perhaps Fener will continue to try to establish itself as “first without equals” and we will have to agree with Joseph Lipper that “two wrongs don’t make it right” snd that Fener’s future wrongs: 3, 4, and 5 will divide the Church or worse.

          • “Your notable service to Orthodoxy in North America and abroad is commendable. … I am suggesting ROCOR may need to reinvent or redefine itself”
            And what are your accomplishments Joseph, that you feel entitled to pontificate like that?

            • Joseph Lipper says

              Martin, I don’t really want ROCOR to change anything.  I love it the way it is.  Yet, I have serious doubts about how sustainable it’s present ecclesial structure is.  ROCOR allegedly has presence in 32 countries around the world with many of these overlapping jurisdiction with the EP.
              The fact that Moscow’s Holy Synod can make decisions for ROCOR that automatically extend to all 32 countries around the world and cause division where both ROCOR and the EP have jurisdiction, is itself a questionable ecclesiology.  If that’s not neo-papsim, then I don’t know what is.  

              • What nonsense. ROCOR is an organic part of the Patriarchate of Moscow, although highly autonomous. If the Patriarchate of Moscow breaks communion with the hucksters in Istanbul, then ROCOR does likewise, as does the canonical church of Ukraine, and the autonomous churches in Moldova and Japan.
                Likewise, if the Feneriots decided to break communion with, say, the Church of Antioch, all of the autonomous bodies under them, such as the church of Finland and others would do likewise, whether they were in Turkey or not.
                That’s not neopapism, that’s just how things work. Autonomous churches are organic parts of the patriarchates that they are subordinate to, receiving chrism from them and following the same canonical and disciplinary measures against renegades.
                I’ll repeat what every other sane poster on this site has stated: the decision of the Moscow Patriarchate to break communion with Black Bart’s mafia has not adversely affected Orthodox unity, it was the actions of the bullies on the Bosphorus that caused this mess in the first place.

                • Joseph Lipper says

                  Well, on a positive note, the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Bishops Recommits to Orthodox Unity in the USA:
                  I wish the ROCOR bishops were part of this though.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Many of us are committed to unity, Joseph. That doesn’t mean we’re committed to unity under Bartholomew. Just because they’re sitting at the same table does not mean they’re on the same page.

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Gail, if the Assembly of Bishops was indeed a commitment to “unity under Bartholomew”, then the only ones present would be Archbishop Elpidophoros and the other EP bishops. Obviously that’s not the case.

                      The ROCOR Hierarchs, as canonical bishops in America, have a right and a responsibility to be a voice in this Assembly’s discussion, even with the break of communion. It’s shameful that Moscow is effectively prohibiting their presence and thereby silencing their voices from this Assembly. Their exclusion, by a directive extended from Moscow, is damaging to the common Orthodox witness we all share, right here in the U.S.A.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Joseph, I don’t disagree with you on this issue. However, the stunning bad faith that the EP has displayed for several years now has gone off the charts with the Ukraine situation.

                      My gut tells me that the other jurisdictions are still there to try and keep the GOA from going completely off the rails. At least that’s the way I would play it if I were one of the American bishops. Regardless, it’s probably not going to work.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      I’m sure that’s what Batholomew thought. He also thought he could call a Council and everyone would attend. Just think about it for a moment, Joseph. Why would Antioch or anyone else who has an interest in this country give it over to Bartholomew? I guaran-dang-tee you Metropolitan Philip had no intention of giving Bartholomew anything. Bartholomew has a way of stating things as if they are facts. He did it in Crete and he did it in Ukraine.

                  • Solitary Priest says

                    I wish there could be a Tsar in Russia and a Hetman in Ukraine. I also wish the King was reigning in Greece and that Greece could take back at least the European part of Turkey, thus freeing Constantinople. And yes, I regret that England prevented Russia from liberating Constantinople. And if Mortiss objects to me stating this, I have enough Celtic blood in my veins to tell him where to get off.
                         Speaking of which, it alienates me to hear an Anglo Saxon speak of the term ” heterodox” as unloving. Where was the Anglo love, when Catholic Irishmen were required to pay a tithe to the Protestant Anglican church? Whatever faults the Tsars may have had, I do not believe Russia ever required Catholic Poles or Lutheran Finns to pay a tithe to the Russian Orthodox church.
                         I wish for unity, too, but let it be unity in the truth. True Christians are already united in Christ. We in America should thank God that up until now, we have been relatively free from persecution. Yet even on this forum, one man whines about long beards, pony tails and accents. Another blubbers about pews and Roman collars. Still another wails about bishops or ethnicity and others(not so much here) blame “homophobes” like George and myself for suicides. This concludes today’s rant.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I look forward to next week’s rant, Fr! Maybe because at least as far as I’m concerned, I’m the choir you’re preaching to!

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Well, Solitary Priest, I never objected to you or anybody else saying that you regretted the Brits preventing the Russians to taking Constantinople.  Nor would I object to your monarchical desires concerning the countries you mention.
                      Don’t confuse disagreement, or indifference, with objection.
                      I didn’t say that the term ‘heterodox’ was unloving, at all. I said that the word was unlovely; an aesthetic matter, really, but I see that I sowed Michael Bauman’s confusion and yours on the subject; so I was wrong to make the offhand remark. I actually don’t have a better word, myself, as I think I said then.
                      I have been very, indeed extremely, blessed in my life, and have very few resentments and grievances, either personal or historical. I was taught both as a child and as a young professional that blame, resentments, and grievances are a waste of time– and more than a waste of time.
                      I certainly have a point of view or two here, but except in a couple of very rare instances, I have never felt any anger about anything that has been posted, whatever my disagreements might be. 

                  • My chief concern is that the OCA – which has always, to its credit, been a vocal advocate of Orthodox unity in America – will take “Orthodox unity” in any form, even if that means advocating that everyone in America go under the “first without equals” Abp E. in New York and C’ple. 
                    The OCA leadership simply seems too buddy-buddy with Abp E. for my comfort. They don’t post anything public against his heretical, non-Orthodox-Christian views of Orthodox ecclesiology. 
                    They cannot, on the one hand, vocally support Met. Onuphry (as they’ve been doing – thank God!), and then on the other hand support Abp E. These two courses of action don’t mix.
                    It seems that to play the “we support everybody” game would be to play the Fr Alex Karloutsos “both ends against the middle” game, which is a spiritually dangerous game to start playing. 
                    I have fear that the OCA leadership would follow Abp E. to “Orthodox unity in America” under him. I wonder if this is what George was getting at when he posted his “OCA gives up its autocephaly to go under the EP” story a few weeks ago. 
                    I am so thankful I’m in ROCOR – I’m not a fan of jurisdiction-bashing since I’ve been in pretty much all of the major Orthodox jurisdictions in America during my lifetime – but ROCOR seems one of the only safe places to be for an American Orthodox Christian these days. 

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      ASP, it is my sincere hope that they’ve got a plan and they’re waiting for the right moment to implement it. There is no way Antioch is going to give up their interests in the country when Patriarch John has already made a statement regarding the foolhardiness of Bartholomew going into Ukraine. In addition, Russia has been instrumental in helping Assad (whom they love) squash the uprising of terrorists (for now) and Russia has promised to help rebuild. He’s not going to betray Kirill or the MP.

                      Of course, Metropolitan Joseph is going to be warm toward Elpi. But that doesn’t mean he is going to allow him to take over Orthodoxy on this continent. They (Metropolitan Jospeh & Archbishop Elpi) value completely different things. They don’t share the same loyalties. Antioch has sided with Russia both at Crete and more recently with regard to Ukraine. Elpi may think it’s going to be a walk in the park for him but it isn’t.

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      No, the OCA’s commitment is not to unity per se, but rather it’s to autocephaly in America.  This has been firmly stated by Metropolitan Tikhon.  Of course, neither Constantinople, nor Antioch, nor Serbia, nor anyone else really wants this because it would cut off much needed funding and influence to their respective Patriarchates.  Even Moscow is no longer interested in American autocephaly, because of the globalist reach and influence of ROCOR in 32 countries that supports Moscow’s “Russkiy Mir” ideology.
                      The problem of multi-jurisdictionalism is probably worse in America than anywhere else in the world, probably because nobody (except the OCA) really cares about it.  However, the present situation in Ukraine now represents a new crisis of multi-jurisdictionalism that finally everybody does seems to care about.  So, this topic will have to come up at an Ecumenical Council. It’s highly likely then that the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis will also result in a resolution of multi-jurisdictionalism in America.  If the problem is fixed in Ukraine, then it will have to be fixed in America.

                • Indeed!  Ten of thousands or more martyrs from the time of Roman persecution through the persecution of the Godless communists of Russia shed their blood because they would not be silent in preaching the Good News to all men in fulfillment of the Great Commission.
                  Not only is Black Bart silent in never preaching the Gospel in Turkey outside of the crumbling Churches in his little ghetto, but he has actually blessed the tanks of the oppressive regime that forbids preaching the Gospel.  Some of those tanks were likely used in the invasion of Cyprus.
                  The Church of Constantinople is dead.  It’s flock dwindled to less than 2000.  It’s bishops lazy and corrupt.  They are no longer a beacon of faith but rather a tool of the new Sultan. We don’t need a Pope and sadly by his actions we no longer need a Patriarch of Constantinople.  The imperial city is gone and the emperor’s man wears no clothes. As a Greek through all four of my grandparents, I am sad to say but shout to the rooftops #NoLongerMyPatriarch

        • Solitary Priest says

          I serve an OCA parish, yet I read the ROCOR prayer for Ukraine described above. Furthermore, the prayer also refers to this American land, asking that we be freed from hatreds, passions, drunkenness, and other sins. What can be wrong with that?
               For years, the OCA and others chided ROCOR for not being in communion with anyone else. Actually, they never broke communion with Serbia or Jerusalem, but I digress.
              Now, after reconciling with the MP, people still aren’t satisfied. The MP was ok back when the OCA received autocephaly in 1970. That was when the MP was very much under the heel of the Soviets. But when ROCOR reconciled with Moscow in 2007, sixteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, somehow that ain’t right. Like the Calvinist ditty, ” you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.”

          • Well said dear priest

            • I agree Father very well said.  You give voice to what many of us think.  Please keep us in your honorable prayers, even though you will never likely meet us.

              • Solitary Priest says

                I hope to meet you in the next world where it really counts. Indeed, I don’t wish condemnation on any person.
                    For what it’s worth, I have a blessing from my bishop to participate in local Orthodox services outside of my own parish on condition that no hierarch or priest of the CP presides. Naturally, I’m not going to blow the bishop’s cover by identifying him or myself. Is he wrong? Inconsistent? Maybe so, but as I’ve said here two or three times, some people will have an issue with what you do no matter what.
                    You deny someone communion, you lack charity. You admit someone to communion when you aren’t in communion with that person’s bishop, you lack consistency. We are trying to save souls, that’s what it’s all about. Even receiving people from other Christian confessions veries. I prefer baptizing most, if not all, heterodox into the church. Yet, I would argue against baptizing someone who has already been received by some other means.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  Is my priest, who was Orthodox a year ago, no longer Orthodox? I have noticed no change in him!
                  I have not carefully followed the discussions here about these issues except on a broad level, not too many details.
                  But I’m interpreting recent posts as saying that if I, a parishioner of a GOA church, were to go to a ROCOR church I would be denied communion. Is that true?

                  • Dino Tsortanidis says

                    Tim R. Mortiss asks: “If I, a parishioner of a GOA church, were to go to a ROCOR church I would be denied communion. Is that true?” 

                    When I read your comment Tim, it brought back thoughts  of  days when George of this blog, and Greg Pappas of The Pappas Post went to “battle”, and the debate began whether  open homosexuals should receive communion in The Orthodox Church. Now it appears in the eyes of most in ROCOR, we are with ranks of our homosexual brothers and sisters, and not worthy of communion!

                    The demons will not rest until The Orthodox Church is splintered like the Protestants.   Orthodoxy is at a cross road. WHY?$$$! What is truly sinful is that the leaders of Orthodoxy are at odds with one another, not because of theological differences, but political differences, and the almighty dollar.

                    Will Nationalism, and greed  destroy our unity in Christ, and His  Church?  

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      I still would like a clear, direct answer to my question, because I’ve heard this and that about bishops and clergy, but not a clear statement about the ‘laity’.
                      It’s not a rhetorical question. I don’t know the answer.

                    • Solitary Priest says

                      Dino, nobody is worthy to receive Holy Communion. I certainly am not. When I read the prayer before communion about sinners of whom I am first, that certainly applies to me.
                          Cohabiting homosexuals should not commune, not because they are less worthy, but because they are willfully violating traditional biblical morality.
                      Neither should cohabiting heterosexual couples commune, because they can marry as man and wife. If anything, I’d be harder on them precisely because they have this option.
                          I’m sorry your Patriarch chose to interfere in the live of a local autocephalous church. And please don’t hit me with being anti Greek. You might want to ask my spiritual father why he left the Greek Archdiocese before he even entered seminary.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Dino, we have one really big advantage over the Protestants. We are the Church. No matter who decides they do not want to be part of the Church, we are still the Church. Our unity in Christ cannot be destroyed. Even if we are reduced to a bishop, a priest, a deacon, a monk and a lay person, we are still the Church in union with Christ and the fullness that brings.

                      One thing writing my essay showed me and the primary reason my heart was renewed in joy is the realization that no matter what, our Lord has a great gift for us when this time of seeming disintegration is done.

                      I have no idea how that will come or when that will come or what it will look like, but it will come. Remember His words: “Fear not, I am with you even unto the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.

                      For myself it means diligently working to be still, thankful and allowing His joy to fill my heart. In the meantime practicing the disciplines of the Church: pray, worship, give alms with a merciful heart, repent/forgive. God will give the increase.

                    • Dino Tsortanidis says

                      Michael Bauman,

                      Please forgive my ignorance, but what do you mean by “diligently working to be still,”?

                  • Antiochene Son says

                    Correct, a member of an EP parish cannot commune in a Russian parish at this time.
                    Neither can I, as a member of the Church of Antioch, commune in a Jerusalem parish at this time, due to that schism regarding Qatar. Were I in Jerusalem I could not commune at any of the holy sites, which is terribly sad.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I thought that the JP/AP schism was healed because of the good offices of Cyprus. Am I incorrect?

                    • A friend with a small group of pilgrims and their GOA priest, communed regularly on their recent trip to the Holy Lands-early September.

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      I am not aware that the schism between Antioch and Jerusalem has been officially healed. I know the two patriarchs have met with brotherly goodwill, but I have not seen evidence that they celebrated the liturgy together.
                      When the schism occurred Metropolitan Joseph ordered a letter read in parishes to instruct the clergy and faithful to have no participation with Jerusalem clergy and faithful until further notice. I am not aware that this instruction has been lifted. (Initially the ban was only applied to clergy, but it was extended to the laity later.)
                      (The JP has no parishes or hierarchy in North America so it very well may have been lifted without announcement, but like I said, I’m not aware of it.)
                      The schism is only between Antioch and Jerusalem, not the GOA. How strictly the faithful actually follow the hierarchy’s directives is impossible to say.

                    • I spoke with someone from ROCOR who said that parishioners from the EP could commune in MP/ROCOR churches, but clergy cannot, which makes far more sense. MP/ROCOR parishioners and clergy are forbidden from going to EP parishes, though.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Over the years, including recently, I have explained the ‘jurisdictional’ conundrum to friends and other interested parties that this is an artifact, so to speak, of the immigration, complicated to some extent by the Bolshevik revolution (if the discussion gets that detailed). But I have always carefully explained that it is all the same church, with full intercommunion between these American ‘branches’.
                      I guess that’s out the window. What a ridiculous, preposterous, and scandalous state of affairs. 
                      In this country the non-Orthodox have heard of the Greek Orthodox and the Russian Orthodox. The other ones, they don’t know at all. So the Greeks can’t commune with the Russians? Try explaining that…no, don’t, because then any interested party will walk away for good.
                      So, I am not Orthodox, not by reason of my personal defects, but because I belong to a GOA parish? That’s what the ‘Russians’ believe?

                    • Antiochene Son,
                      Would you please provide some sort of reference?  It is not that I do not believe you.  What you wrote may very well be correct, but it would be helpful to see something in black and white, preferably from the ROC.
                      I think I’d seen something that suggested that the severance of communion applied to clergy rather than to ordinary civilians.

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      I can confirm, the break in communion extends to the laity:
                      “From now on until the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s rejection of its anti-canonical decisions, it is impossible for all the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church to concelebrate with the clergy of the Church of Constantinople and for the laity to participate in sacraments administered in its churches.”

                    • Antiochene Son says


                      Scouring the Antiochian Patriarchate website since the Cyprus meeting turned up only the statement given at the conclusion of that meeting. It says:

                      “[They] expressed their sincere intention and good intention to overcome these problems in the near future, so that the two Eucharistic communion desired.” (Google translation)

                      So the meeting was huge progress, but as yet the schism remains.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      AS, thank you for clearing that up.

                    • Antiochene Son,

                      Thank you for the link. The way I read it, the Russian Church’s decision is to ban the clergy of the ROC from concelebrating with clergy of Patriarchate of Constantinople (“PoC”). As to the laity it bans the laity of the ROC from participating in sacraments administered in churches of the PoC.

                      However, it does not ban the administration by ROC clergy of sacraments to the laity of any of the churches of the PoC.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Tim, the dilemma you are in is horrible. From everything you say, you have a faithful priest. If I were in your place, I would ask my priest and be obedient to what he says. However, if you are traveling it is always a good thing to contact the priest at any parish you want to worship at, let them know who you are and who your bishop is. They will let you know if you can commune or not. Be obedient to what they tell you.

                    Even if you cannot commune, you can still worship. Having spent some enforced time away from the Cup, I will tell you that if you attend in humility and repentance, Jesus will make sure you are blessed, especially if you pray the prayer before communion. “I believe, O Lord and I confess….”

                    The ecclesial situation is totally out of your control. Do not worry about it. Remain faithful and you will be blessed no matter what.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Thank you Michael, but I will say that I don’t worry about it in a personal sense at all. I am long in life beyond a point that I believe this can have any real effect on my or my Orthodox family members personally, as it were.

                      I am deeply disappointed by what I see as these patriarchal pretensions. Are we now sectarians? The head of “your sect” blames it on the head of “my sect”. But that’s what sectarians always do, don’t they?
                      My Orthodoxy does not depend upon the fact that when I finally was brought to the Church by a son who asked me, after decades of ‘fellow-traveling’ with the Church–“isn’t it time you, and I, joined?”
                      and I said yes and we joined together, that we chose our city parish, a GOA church.
                      I watched four grandchildren last year, from age 12 down to age 6, baptized and chrismated together. Their awe and innocent piety was miraculous to behold. They commune every time they are at liturgy. To see their simple acceptance and joy of the Eucharist lifts my own heart every time.
                      So the ‘Russians’ would turn them away? Well, they’ll never get the chance, I hope.
                      And for those who don’t know already, I’m an Anglo-Caledonian, not a drop of Greek, and I essentially care about Greek culture to the same extent I like the Italians and the French, except both have much better food. So “Greece” and its “glory” doesn’t enter into it.

                  • This question, whether a lay person in the GOA (for example) can receive communion in a Russian Orthodox Church, keeps getting answered in different ways and receives various comments, such as “So the ‘Russians’ would turn them away? Well, they’ll never get the chance, I hope.”

                    Antiochene Son kindly provided a link to the official announcement concerning the issue. The key statement in the announcement is this:

                    “From now on until the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s rejection of its anti-canonical decisions, it is impossible for all the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church to concelebrate with the clergy of the Church of Constantinople and for the laity to participate in sacraments administered in its churches.”

                    Here is the link to the source: https://mospat.ru/en/2018/10/15/news165263/

                    The first part of the quoted statement is clear: The Russian Patriarchate forbids its (i.e., ROC) clergy from concelebrating with clergy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

                    The second part of the statement pertains to laity. The question is, to whose laity does it pertain? The answer is, it pertains to the laity of the Russian church. Just as the first part of the statement is addressed to the MP’s clergy, the second part is addressed to the MP’s laity.

                    And at the end of the second part of the statement, the reference to “its churches” is a reference to the churches of the Church of Constantinople. In other words, ROC laity cannot receive communion in churches that are under Constantinople.

                    To read it differently, to read it to mean that laity of the Church of Constantinople cannot receive sacraments from the ROC makes no sense. If “its churches” means churches of the ROC, then the statement would mean that laity of the Church of Constantinople cannot receive sacraments from churches of the ROC. But then that leaves out the laity of the ROC.

                    Clearly, the statement is directed to and imposes restrictions on the clergy and laity of the ROC and not on the laity of the Church of Constantinople.

                    The essential point is this: Laity of the ROC cannot commune in churches of Constantinople. However, no restriction is placed by the MP on laity of the Church of Constantinople. The statement by the MP does not say that laity of the Church of Constantinople cannot receive communion in ROC churches.

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      The official directive of the Patriarchate of Moscow forbids the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church to serve together with the clergy of the Church of Constantinople. It makes no difference whether such opportunities to serve together occur in or are sponsored by the Russians or the Greeks — the ban is completely reciprocal.

                      But the clergy are always held to higher standards than the laity, so while Moscow forbids Russian Orthodox lay people to participate in the Christian Mysteries offered by the Greeks, it is a frequently encountered pastoral practice that legitimate churches offer eucharistic hospitality to the laity of churches (at least temporarily) out of communion.

                      In the history of canonical rearrangements, though, even this courtesy will cease if a merely administrative offense by the hierarchy of a church (at least temporarily) out of communion escalates into dogmatic error and formal heresy.

                      The breaking of communion is intended to gain the attention of people in error and alert them to the seriousness of their mistakes. This does not involve the laity, but only their clergy, mostly only their bishops. But if the errors persist and get worse, and the laity follow their hierarchy into further estrangement, then they will have left The Church and all these other issues become moot.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Orders from Moscow!
                      Actually, these ‘official orders’ do not totally answer the question. I do indeed read the ukase as saying that R laity cannot commune in G churches.
                      Does anybody know from personal experience or other direct knowledge whether GOA laity in  fact are or are not being communed in ROCOR churches?

                    • Tim, I mentioned above that I have been told by people who are members of ROCOR parishes that laity of the EP are able to commune there. It’s pretty straightforward, as Father James and blimbax have already pointed out.
                      I am not a member of a ROCOR parish, nor GOARCH, but when I have visited ROCOR parishes and monasteries in recent months, no one ever asked if I was EP or not, merely if I had a blessing to commune from my confessor.

                    • Solitary Priest says

                      I know at least one ROCOR diocese in the US where lay people from the EP can commune.  
                          Furthermore, my parish is OCA, and therefore not directly involved. Neither my bishop here, no the OCA, recognize the interference of the EP with Ukraine’s canonical church.
                          I have a sweet Greek American lady in my flock. I commune both her mother and her grandchildren, who are GOA.
                           I could continue writing, but I wouldn’t want to grieve you further. I would just say this; your personal defects, whatever they may be, have no bearing on whether you are or aren’t in the church. As far as that goes, I’m certain that I’m a hundred times worse a sinner than you could ever be. You already know that I’m a coward, because I won’t give my name. God, be merciful to all of us!

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Thanks; that answers my question, SP and Basil. I was aware that it was not a question with the OCA.
                      In my own personal case, I was connected by friendships and long associations with both the GOA and OCA parishes in the area. I joined the GOA church at the time I joined the Orthodox Church, and was Chrismated there, along with my youngest son. 
                      To me it is important to go to a church in my city. My life-long Presbyterian church was a few city blocks away. My church now is about a five-minute drive or a 25-minute walk. A parish church, in other words. I’ve never believed in picking and choosing churches for this or that personal consideration or preference.

                      In addition, my church is in the central city, and encounters some of the issues associated with a changing neighborhood, to put it euphemistically. I’m a city dweller, and for a variety of reasons prefer this to a bucolic or suburban church setting.

        • I think that, for many people, it is extremely difficult to “let go” of past beliefs and of perceived injustices, and to grow – some may even view this as impossible.

          Not long ago, I had a beer with an Orthodox friend who grew up in Sea Cliff, Long Island, in the 1960s.  His family was intimately involved with the long-time Orthodox parish there, which suffered the lamentable OCA (Metropolia)-ROCOR split in the 1960s.  For whatever reason, he seems to forever to be unable to see ROCOR as anything but sectarian, archaiac, non-Americans.  He chided our English-speaking ROCOR parish for still following the “old calendar,” as if it represented everything wrong and backward with the Orthodox world.

          As Fr Andrew Phillips notes in a recent comment in his blog, the church has been undergoing cleansing over the past few decades.  The MP in Western Europe was cleansed of modernist elements in the drama following Metropolitan Anthony Bloom’s repose in the early 2000s. (Indeed, many of the former parishes of Met. Anthony Bloom in England that detested the MP had “escaped” to rue Daru in the early/mid-2000s; it is these same English parishes of the now-defunct-rue-Daru-group that vehemently oppose rue Daru going with the MP now).  The “hate Russia forever” phenomenon that we see in America is also seen among the English.

          ROCOR was cleansed in the 2007 timeframe, when many of its pharisaical/sectarian elements split off after ROCOR formally reunited with the MP.  (Remember the “ROCOR-Valentine” group?  “ROCOR-Agafangel”?)  These days, ROCOR is bustling with English-language, Spanish-language, Portuguese-language, and French-language growth in North and South America.  Thank God the sectarians are gone.

          The former rue Daru group is now being cleansed, as its faithful are being forced to formally choose between Phanariot-style “Orthodoxy” and the traditional Orthodox Christian faith.

          My guess is that the next groups to undergo a formal cleansing will be the American Orthodox groups of the GOA and the OCA (and maybe the American Antiochians?), both of which will probably soon be forced to choose between following modernism/Roman Catholicism/Western secularism vs following traditional Christian Orthodoxy.  Some OCA and GOA groups have been begun this battle already.

          I suspect that the OCA and GOA will also splinter, much like the prior cleansings have resulted in splintering.  This splintering is terrible, painful, and tragic, but is this not what our Lord said would happen, as He works to clearly define those who will stay with Him?

          • Antiochene Son says

            ROCOR is also the only jurisdiction really committed to the Western Rite, which is going to become more important as Rome continues to implode.

            Sad to say, the Antiochian Western Rite seems little more than “grandfathered in” at this point. Existing Orthodox (Eastern rite) parishes are more afraid of inter-Orthodox sheep stealing with the WR than trying to use it to evangelize the 99.9% of America that isn’t Orthodox.

            • Father Michael says

              I’m confused. I thought that ROCOR was in essence suppressing its Western Rite, while the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate is stable and looking to grow.

            • Monk James Silver says

              The ‘Western Rite’ movement is largely a failed experiment, originally conceived, it seems, as a response to the deceptions attempted by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States to claim that it was (as one of their leading lights told me personally) ‘the Orthodox Church in the West’. As a result, the western rite is not now, nor has it ever been, a realistic and viable missionary tool.

              When St Raphael Hawawini, bishop of Brooklyn NY, realized that he’d been deceived, he issued pastoral letters retracting his earlier blessing for isolated Orthodox Christians to avail themselves of the ministries of local episcopalian clergy. This correction left a number of people wondering what — if anything — they could redeem of their protestant experience and make it orthodox.

              Like St Raphael, St Tikhon Belavin, patriarch of Moscow, was also caught up in this movement and authorized a version of some anglican rites, edited for orthodoxy. The eucharistic liturgy which bears his name is only one text now in use among western-rite Orthodox Christians, but there is wide variation in practice and considerable liturgical disarray.

              This is bad enough, but protestant — even episcopalian — polities are severely defective in their approach to the Christian Mysteries.

              Although converts to orthodoxy have largely corrected their use of unleavened bread for the Eucharist, their historical practice has no rituals for the consecration of water or oil for use in other services, for initiating monastics, and so on. They have to patch in such rites, essential for life in The Church, from the byzantine structures in use throughout all the orthodox churches.

              Of course, the Roman Rite has these rituals, but we’re not discussing that. If ever the pope and the entire Roman Catholic Church ever abandon their errors and embrace orthodoxy, I suppose we’ll talk. Until then, though, it seems that western-rite orthodoxy is a dead end.

              People should stop using even the heavily modified rites of their protestant experience as a crutch to enter The Church. If it’s possible to learn the theology and ecclesiology which underlie orthopraxis altogether, it should not be difficult to learn the liturgical practice which has articulated the faith correctly, in precise orthodox terms, without losing entire continents to heresy.

              Without doubting the sincerity of people who support the continuation of a western-rite expression of orthodoxy or belittling their efforts, we can acknowledge that it’s time for them to give up their fond nostalgia for a dead and irretrievable past.

              They should accept the healing balm which The Church offers, administered in their own language. Then they can throw away their crutches, and start to move in step with rest of The Church.

              • Michael Bauman says

                For anyone who wants to see a thoughtful critique of the Western Rite Fr. Lawrence Farley on his blog, No Other Foundation, has one right now.

                I really do not think, but do not know that either ROCOR or we Antiochians are looking to grow the Western Right. Bishop Thomas is the WR Vicar for the WR I believe.

  17. Michael Bauman says

    Dino, you ask above what I mean by “diligently working to be still”. It begins with a spiritual directive I received from my bishop years ago when the OCA wars were going on. He told me “hold onto your peace, do not give it away to others or let them steal it from you”. The first fruit of my attempting to be obedient to his word, was a change in how I posted on blogs–more irenic.

    A compliment to being obedient to the word of my bishop is to practice thanksgiving for all things as often as I can and honestly calling on our Lord’s mercy when things go against my will. Met. Jonah called it not reacting.

    Then there is the practice which I do not do enough of, asking God at least daily to release those whom I have judged during the day from my judgment. “O, Father forgive all of those I have judged this day and forgive me a sinner.”

    All of it is tied to the recitation of the Jesus Prayer but sometimes I just sit, quiet my breathing and contemplate the command in the Psalm 46/45:10: Be still and know that I am God.

    In retrospect, I was doing that as I wrote my essay and joy bubbled up in my heart and has continued to flow since.

    Bishop Basil blessed me to share the essay which I have been doing. His blessing deepened the joy. Whether the points in my essay are right or not, one thing I know, God has a great gift for we Orthodox in North America. The Church here will be different than anything we can really imagine. It will be neither Greek, nor Russian, nor any other ethnicity even “American” nor will it be the result of “Orthodox Unity” programs. How long it takes for that gift to manifest is up to us. There is good soil here and many seeds have been sown in it. Mostly we have ignored those fields preferring the stony, rocky and arid ground where the seeds just die. Nevertheless, the good soil exists and the seeds are growing whether we recognize it or not. Such is the sub-text of my essay. It may be that all it will take is one bishop to, like St. Peter, to step out of the boat in the midst of the storm and trust completely in our Lord, then He will come and rescue us all and bring us to land again.

    Almost nothing human we are doing now will release the gift. Indeed, all things will be made new. The more the clamor of temptations, passions, politics, thought, effort, betrayal, stupidity and change clouds my mind, the more I begin to lose appreciation for what is. So I return, quiet my breathing, say the Jesus Prayer and focus on the Psalm; trying to live in remembrance of Him who Is the only existing one.

    Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.

  18. Dino Tsortanidis says

    Michael Bauman,
    I am glad I asked the question, and more so to hear how your essay has lifted you heart with joy. I have experienced the Peace  of Christ a few times, and can only imagine what is to come for us faithful and forgiven, when the final chapter in our book is written for us. I found this Peace all but once at monasteries as a child and teenager when visiting my grandparents in Athens and later when they took me to monasteries on the island of Chios.
    The one, and only time here in the states, I found that Peace, was laying in the operation room preparing to find out exactly how much blockage there was in the two arteries going to my brain, after a MRI scan showed major blockage in both. The doctor explained the process of the Cerebral Angiography again while I was laying there, and told me, he would most likely insert a stent because he was sure there was a least 70% blockage in a least one, but probably both. He explained the risks with both procedures and began. 
    Before the procedure I must say and include that my best friend, Spiritual Father, and Koumbaro since moving to Utah, Father Matthew Gilbert, of blessed memory, not only prepared me beforehand, but also had every priest, nun, monk, he knew, praying for me. Not to mention his fervent prayers. He anointed me that morning with the blessed oil of our AMERICAN Orthodox Saint, Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco. He knew hospitals, doctors, and nurses  always gave me anxiety.
    Well that morning laying on the table, was the last time I felt that Peace, but like the other times before it never leaves my memory. Not a worry, not a care, total peace, whatever would happen, would happen. I had accepted His answer.  I gave it all to Him.
    I was awake during the whole thing, and when the Doctor said, “Were done”. I asked, “What about the stent? How bad was the blockage?” The doctor replied with a most puzzled/disturbed look, “You have no blockages, you are OK.” and left the room before I could ask anymore questions. Later in the recovery room he gave excuses about false readings on the MRI’s, which were done from many angles, but even if one was not a Doctor, one could see the ballooned blockages.  We of faith know the real reason.
    God Bless you Michael, your responses are never glib, and always from the heart. We may never witness it here on earth, but with most things in this nation, great things are always possible, and the Orthodox Church in American is on great soil. A True Great Orthodox Church will emerge, God willing, one that will come from faithful hearts, not governments, nor ethnic prejudice and division.

    If any reading this inclined, please say a prayer, and light a candle for Father Matthew Gilbert, missed by many,I do dearly, gone too soon, a young 58 years old.  In fact three years ago this month. Can’t say ironic, but he is buried at a Monastery. Saint Anthony’s, in Arizona. American soil! May his memory be eternal!

    Peace, Love, Prayers, Patience, Forgiveness, and Repentance,


    • Michael Bauman says

      Dino, thank you brother for your kind thoughtful and profound response. Your experience of the peace that passes understanding is a great blessing. God is at work despite our many efforts to prevent His work.

      May your statement: “A True Great Orthodox Church will emerge, God willing, one that will come from faithful hearts, not governments, nor ethnic prejudice and division.” is a great way to describe the gift that Jesus has for us. Whether it be now, or not now, it will come of that I have no doubt(all though before writing my essay I was near despair).

      Being greedy, I would like to be here to see it and I would like to know the particulars of it all, but I do not know them and it is unlikely that I will be here to see it, yet I will see it when it is revealed by God’s grace.

      If people get nothing else from what I wrote, I hope they receive the hope founded in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and His promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church. That promise has real substance to me now in a way it did not before.

      • Dino Tsortanidis says

        Michael Bauman,
        God is at work despite our many efforts to prevent His work.”  So true!
        Collective true faith by laity and brave steps brought forward by spiritual leaders, will bring forth such miracles, and His work.  Bravery nothing close to what  Christ’s apostles endured, but bravery none the less. They may lose titles, riches, and grand structures. No matter how far they/we  sink, we will be brought back up to glorify His Church. Eliminating doubt from His Truth is the first step. How this is done? I don’t know. I am a complete failure in this regard, and most other examples of Jesus Christ. “Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”(Matthew 14:31)
        I don’t see these miracles coming from this generation. Too many distractions. Too much instant gratification. Too much to “lose” in assets and status.  I fear we (the Church)must hit rock bottom first, like a drug addict,(our addiction; vanity, greed, and national/ethnic division) before realizing there is nowhere else to go, but Christ. Maybe a national crisis must come first. Remember how our Church, and other faiths buildings filled up right after 9/11?
        Honestly I’ve never understood why I/we can’t keep “faith of a grain of  mustard seed” “(Matthew 17:20) Instead just  fleeting moments here and there of true faith, joy, and peace.  Saint Peter, my favorite Saint, gives me hope in my humanity, sinful nature, fears, and enlightens understanding, and hope. This is just the way it is. True faith will always be a great struggle  How well Saint Peter knew  Christ, His miracles, and yet still lacked faith, even to deny Him three times. Later his true faith would perform  great works and miracles.
        It will take great  works and miracles, thru faith Michael, but  in Christ, all things are possible. Yes we are greedy we “WANT” it “NOW”, and lack patience. So much to overcome, so little time. God Bless bro!

        • Dino,
          that was a touching post of yours.
          No doubt Michael will give you valuable opinions.
          I you want my opinion FWIW
          read the book
          you can get it for as little as 2 dollars (used).
          It has helped me a lot!

          • Dino Tsortanidis says

            Thanks Ioannis,
            I have not read it, but will. A long time ago my uncle or his son  gave me the book on Father Arseny. The power of prayer is real. True doubtless  faith is the  key.  How we attain it the greatest struggle. Thanks again for the tip.