A Godly Man in an Ungodly Age

Pope Benedict & Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev)

Pope Benedict & Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev)

Like many, I was shocked Monday morning when I found out that His Holiness, Benedict VXI, was going to resign as Pontiff. I think many Traditionalists took it as a blow because he struck us as a superb intellect who understood the necessity of both Faith and Reason. More importantly, he understood that the wellspring of Western Civilization was the Church. (On a personal level, I was hoping for the long-awaited summit between him and His Holiness Kirill of Russia, on the 1,700 year anniversary of the Edict of Milan. What a photo-op that would have been!)

His Regensburg Address for example was a refreshing non-capitulation to Islamic totalitarianism, inviting Muslims (after a fashion) to reexamine their own presuppositions. Although the blow-back was immediate, I believe it will stand as a touchstone, one which will be heeded — or at least considered — by many in that part of the world.

Another reason I liked him was because he was a courageous man who was willing to do the heavy lifting required to prevent the Barque of Peter from shifting to the prevailing winds. Unlike his charismatic predecessor, he did not dominate the world stage but his taciturn, soft-spoken manner, the quiet voice of reason, was what a weary and jaded world needed to hear. Not that the chattering classes care, but their disparagements of him will wither while serious people will be reading his encyclicals for centuries to come.

In addition, he brought back the majesty of the Liturgy and that’s no small thing. (I guess that’s one thing we Orthodox don’t have to worry about.) Behind the scenes, he strengthened the Episcopate, putting in stalwart bishops all over the place. The days of weaklings like the late Rembert Weakland (sic) and Liberationist theologians like Hans Kung are pretty much over with.

A Godly Man in an Ungodly Age

Source: Taki’s Magazine | By Patrick J. Buchanan

“To govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

With those brave, wise, simple words, Benedict XVI announced an end of his papacy. How stands the Church he has led for eight years?

While he could not match the charisma of his predecessor, John Paul II, his has been a successful papacy. He restored some of the ancient beauty and majesty to the liturgy. He brought back to the fold separated Anglican brethren. The Church is making converts in sub-Saharan Africa. And in America, new traditionalist colleges and seminaries have begun to flourish.

“The Secular City seems to have triumphed over the City of God.”

That is looking back eight years. Looking back half a century, to that October day in 1962 when Pope John XXIII declared the opening of Vatican II, the Church appears to have been in a decline that, in parts of the world, seems to be leading to near extinction.

At Vatican II, the Rev. Joseph Ratzinger, the future Benedict XVI, was among the reformers who were going to bring the church into the modern world. The encounter did not turn out well.

In 1965, three in four American Catholics attended Sunday mass. Today, it is closer to one in four. The number of priests has fallen by a third, of nuns by two-thirds. Orders like the Christian Brothers have virtually vanished. The Jesuits are down to a fraction of their strength in the 1950s.

Parochial schools teaching 4.5 million children in the early 1960s were teaching a third of that number at the end of the century. Catholic high schools lost half their enrollment. Churches have been put up for sale to pay diocesan debts.

And the predator-priest sex-abuse scandal, with the offenses dating back decades, continues to suppurate and stain her reputation and extract billions from the Sunday collections of the abiding faithful.

The highest-ranking Catholic politicians, Vice President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, support same-sex marriage and belong to a party whose platform calls for funding abortions to the day of birth. Catholic teaching on contraception, divorce and sexual morality is openly mocked.

Yet, while colleges like Georgetown appear Catholic in name only, others—like Christendom in Front Royal, Va., St. Thomas More in Merrimack, N.H, and St. Thomas Aquinas near Los Angeles—have picked up the torch.

Among Catholics, there has long been a dispute over the issue: Did Vatican II cause the crisis in the Church, or did the council merely fail to arrest what was an inevitable decline with the triumph of the counterculture of the 1960s?

As one looks around the world and back beyond the last half-century, it seems that Catholicism and Christianity have been in a centuries-long retreat. In the mid-19th century, Matthew Arnold wrote in “Dover Beach”:

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar …

In Christianity’s cradle, the Holy Land and the Near East, from Egypt to Afghanistan, Christians are subjected to persecution and pogroms, as their numbers dwindle. In Latin America, the Church has been losing congregants for decades.

In Europe, Christianity is regarded less as the founding faith of the West and the wellspring of Western culture and civilization, than as an antique; a religion that European Man once embraced before the coming of the Enlightenment. Many cathedrals on the continent have taken on the aspect of Greek and Roman temples—places to visit and marvel at what once was, and no longer is.

The Faith is Europe, Europe is the Faith, wrote Hilaire Belloc. And when the faith dies, the culture dies, the civilization dies, and the people die. So historians and poets alike have written.

Surely that seems true in Europe. In the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Western Man, under the banners of God and country, conquered almost the entire world. But now that Christianity has died in much of the West, the culture seems decadent, the civilization in decline.

And the people have begun to die. No Western nation has had a birth rate in three decades that will enable its native-born to survive.

Dispensing with Christianity, Western peoples sought new gods and new faiths: communism, Leninism, fascism, Nazism. Those gods all failed.

Now we have converted to even newer faiths to create paradise in this, the only world we shall ever know. Democratic capitalism, consumerism, globalism, environmentalism, egalitarianism.

The Secular City seems to have triumphed over the City of God. But in the Islamic world, an ancient and transcendental faith is undergoing a great awakening after centuries of slumber and seems anxious to re-engage and settle accounts with an agnostic West.

As ever, the outcome of the struggle for the world is in doubt.


  1. Ladder of Divine Ascent says

    George, “I think many Traditionalists took it as a blow because he struck us as a superb intellect who understood the necessity of both Faith and Reason. More importantly, he understood that the wellspring of Western Civilization was the Church.”

    I’ve heard it said that Ratzinger was a radical liberal, he never really stopped being a radical liberal, he never became more conservative, but the rest of the leadership of the Latins became so liberal that he ended up being the de facto conservative. Perhaps someone doubts it? Well then:

    Co-Workers of the Truth, 1990, p. 217: “The question that really concerns us, the question that really oppresses us, is why it is necessary for us in particular to practice the Christian Faith in its totality; why, when there are so many other ways that lead to heaven and salvation, it should be required of us to bear day after day the whole burden of ecclesial dogmas and of the ecclesial ethos. And so we come again to the question: What exactly is Christian reality? What is the specific element in Christianity that not merely justifies it, but makes it compulsorily necessary for us? When we raise the question about the foundation and meaning of our Christian existence, there slips in a certain false hankering for the apparently more comfortable life of other people who are also going to heaven. We are too much like the laborers of the first hour in the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt. 20:1-16). Once they discovered that they could have earned their day’s pay of one denarius in a much easier way, they could not understand why they had had to labor the whole day. But what a strange attitude it is to find the duties of our Christian life unrewarding just because the denarius of salvation can be gained without them! It would seem that we – like the workers of the first hour – want to be paid not only with our own salvation, but more particularly with others’ lack of salvation. That is at once very human and profoundly un-Christian.”

    Salt of the Earth, 1996, p. 24: “Q. But could we not also accept that someone can be saved through a faith other than the Catholic? A. That’s a different question altogether. It is definitely possible for someone to receive from his religion directives that help him become a pure person, which also, if we want to use the word, help him please God and reach salvation. This is not at all excluded by what I said; on the contrary, this undoubtedly happens on a large scale.”

    Zenit News story, Sept. 5, 2000: “[W]e are in agreement that a Jew, and this is true for believers of other religions, does not need to know or acknowledge Christ as the Son of God in order to be saved…”

    “Hailed for Praying like Muslims Toward Mecca,” Dec 1, 2006 — ISTANBUL (Reuters) – “Pope Benedict ended a sensitive, fence-mending visit to Turkey on Friday amid praise for visiting Istanbul’s famed Blue Mosque and praying there facing toward Mecca ‘like Muslims.’… ‘The Pope’s dreaded visit was concluded with a wonderful surprise,’ wrote daily Aksam on its front page. ‘In Sultan Ahmet Mosque, he turned toward Mecca and prayed like Muslims,’ the popular daily Hurriyet said, using the building’s official name…

  2. Benedict was not a Traditionalist, George, he was a Modernist minted in the 1950s. The fact that He was regarded by the 1990s/00s as a Traditionalist is only an indicator of how much the Roman church has suffered from internal rot since Vatican II.
    Re.:Europe; as Dostoevsky wrote, Europe is a graveyard, full of precious relics, but a graveyard none the less.
    I’ll concede that the four so-called “pillar speeches” of his papacy were significant, but in the end his resignation is a signal that his dreams of re-Christianising western Europe were rooted in the hubris of the papacy and not reality.

    • Abbouna Michel says

      Another comment of the sort that cause Orthodoxy to be viewed as narrow and mean-spirited. “Hubris of the papacy:” we know that you never would see such a thing among Orthodox hierarchs!

      • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

        “Another comment of the sort that cause Orthodoxy to be viewed as narrow and mean-spirited.”

        Ratzinger/Benedict appears (haven’t bought/loaned the books to check myself) to have multiple quotes from various writings saying that salvation is possible outside Catholicism (which is really Orthodoxy), in fact possible outside Christianity of any type altogether, thus no need for belief in the only True God the Trinity (Islam and Judaism), and that even pagans can be saved in their paganism. He worshipped with Muslims in a mosque facing Mecca, etc.

        Ratzinger/Benedict seems to have been a radical mordernist, that never reformed, but ended up being the de facto conservative, because the rest of their leadership moved ever deeper into heresy.

        As far as Orthodoxy being viewed as narrow and mean-spirited, if the world doesn’t hate you then you may not be presenting real Orthodoxy, with the real Jesus Christ, who told us we’d be hated, because the world hated Him first.

        • You should read his books, Ladder. I don’t think you know first-hand what you’re talking about. Men like +Hilarion (Alfayev) do and would not share your radical anti-Benedict opinions.


          • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

            “You should read his books, Ladder. I don’t think you know first-hand what you’re talking about. Men like +Hilarion (Alfayev) do and would not share your radical anti-Benedict opinions.”

            Oh, I know first hand now. I was only hedging because the heretical quotes of Benedict because I had seen were on traditionalist Catholic websites, yet I never saw any denial of them on mainstream Catholic sources. Now, however, I’m sure of it because I found a third party source which has the entire surrounding context of the 1964 sermon (I’m pretty sure that most if not all the more recent heretical quotes even into his “Papacy” are authentic as well) that one of those heretical quotes came from:


            The question that really troubles us is not in the least concerned with whether and how God manages to save others.

            The question that torments us is, much rather, that of why it is still actually necessary for us to carry out the whole ministry of the Christian faith—why, if there are so many other ways to heaven and to salvation, should it still be demanded of us that we bear, day by day, the whole burden of ecclesiastical dogma and ecclesiastical ethics? And with that, we are once more confronted, though from a different approach, with the same question we raised yesterday in conversation with God and with which we parted: What actually is the Christian reality, the real substance of Christianity that goes beyond mere moralism? What is that special thing in Christianity that not only justifies but compels us to be and live as Christians?

            It became clear enough to us, yesterday, that there is no answer to this that will resolve every contradiction into incontrovertible, unambivalent truth with scientific clarity. Assent to the hiddenness of God is an essential part of the movement of the spirit that we call “faith.” And one more preliminary consideration is requisite. If we are raising the question of the basis and meaning of our life as Christians, as it emerged for us just now, then this can easily conceal a sidelong glance at what we suppose to be the easier and more comfortable life of other people, who will “also” get to heaven. We are too much like the workers taken on in the first hour whom the Lord talks about in his parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20:1-6). When they realized that the day’s wage of one denarius could be much more easily earned, they could no longer see why they had sweated all day. Yet how could they really have been certain that it was so much more comfortable to be out of work than to work? And why was it that they were happy with their wages only on the condition that other people were worse off than they were? But the parable is not there on account of those workers at that time; it is there for our sake. For in our raising questions about the “why” of Christianity, we are doing just what those workers did. We are assuming that spiritual “unemployment”—a life without faith or prayer—is more pleasant than spiritual service. Yet how do we know that?

            We are staring at the trials of everyday Christianity and forgetting on that account that faith is not just a burden that weighs us down; it is at the same time a light that brings us counsel, gives us a path to follow, and gives us meaning. We are seeing in the Church only the exterior order that limits our freedom and thereby overlooking the fact that she is our spiritual home, which shields us, keeps us safe in life and in death. We are seeing only our own burden and forgetting that other people also have burdens, even if we know nothing of them. And above all, what a strange attitude that actually is, when we no longer find Christian service worthwhile if the denarius of salvation may be obtained even without it!

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Basil speaks of “the hubris of the papacy.”

      Frankly, after 25 years of membership in the Orthodox Church—with ample opportunity to see how things are actually done—I could not, with a clear conscience and a straight face, accuse the papacy of hubris.

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says


      The characterization of Pope Benedict as a “a Modernist minted in the 1950s” is simply not true. Ever read the Regensburg Address? The essay is a gift to the Catholic and Orthodox Churches alike. I don’t know of any recent Orthodox theologian who has penetrated early Christian history with such precision and with such awareness of the contemporary crisis in Christendom.

      (David Bentley Hart comes close in his analysis of the transition from pagan to Christian culture in Atheist Delusions. Lutheran(?) scholar Peter Leithart gives a brilliant analysis of pagan Roman theocentrism in Defending Constantine that provides historical context to Benedict’s thesis in Regensburg.)

      The 1950s was the decade of the “Christian Century;” an age of unbridled optimism that was in fact a conflation of Church/Christianity and culture that would unravel a few short years later and cause the downfall of mainstream Protestantism that led it. Benedict understands this.

      I have a short essay appearing on Catholic Online later tonight that discusses Pope Benedict’s contributions to the Orthodox Church in a bit more detail. He is not the unreconstructed modernist you claim him to be. I’ll post the link when it is published.

      Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections (The Regensburg Address)

      • OK, then, Fr Hans – he’s a reconstructed Modernist.
        That still doesn’t make him a Traditionalist, and neither does his insight into history, however vaunted it may be.
        And if claiming universal jurisdiction isn’t the height of ecclesiastical hubris, Fr Patrick – goodness, what is?!
        The papacy is an iron fist in a velvet glove (witness the continued spread of Uniatism in the Ukraine), even in the frail figure of Benedict. The fact that so many look to it today as the peak representative of Christianity is an indicator of our age’s lack of spiritual discernment.

      • Minor correction says

        Leithart is a Reformed Calvinist.

        Read more about him here: http://orthodoxyandheterodoxy.org/tag/peter-leithart/

      • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

        “The essay is a gift to the Catholic and Orthodox Churches alike. I don’t know of any recent Orthodox theologian who has penetrated early Christian history with such precision and with such awareness of the contemporary crisis in Christendom.”

        There is no Christendom outside Orthodoxy, because is no Christianity outside the Church. If Heterodoxy is in crisis that will only loosen the hold of heresy and help send more souls to Orthodoxy. If the Church itself is in crisis it is from Orthodox who don’t grasp that Orthodoxy is the “One Holy Apostolic Church” and understand and accept all the implications of that.

  3. Source of shame says

    I was at the barber with my son when I heard the first misinterpretation of the “unity” between the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox. One of the barbers was disgusted that we had become Roman Catholics, but said he could get used to it, thanking God that his daughter had fallen in love with one of us. His friend’s daughter had married one of them.

    At liturgy the next morning, I heard one fellow exclaiming to me that now things were great – he could bring his Roman Catholic wife to communion. After all, he could take communion at her church every other week, so now, she could fully participate in the Orthodox “rite”. When I gently suggested why such a thing was still impossible, saying that it would take a council, not a kiss, he went off to the parish priest for confirmation that he was right. He was told that it would probably happen but that the process was not yet complete and the priest wasn’t quite sure what he thought about it. A wink and a nod to ecumenism in action.

    The biggest source of shame during the Pontificate of the heterodox Ratzinger, who never left the filoque off when he recited his credo, was our so-called Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew



    May God grant the heterodox Bishop of Rome a leaving off of his heresy and an Orthodox Profession of Faith in his dotage with a pronoma to support the same.

    • Guy Westover says


    • Catholic Observer says

      Oh brother. Where’s that eye-roll emoticon when I need it?

      There is so much rabid misinformed bigotry in this thread that I could swear I was at the Bob Jones University website.

      Thank God for the voices of reason here — like Fathers Reardon and Jacobse.

      • Catholic Observer, it’s almost always like this in the Orthodox world.
        I am not sure what Bob Jones U. is, but I assume a Protestant thing?
        The strange anti-Catholic arguments I have heard for so many years sound exactly the same as Protestant complaints,
        leading one to wonder……to wonder A LOT about the roots of the thinking among
        many of the most zealous and otherwise admirable Orthodox.
        Thanks for expressing this.

  4. macedonianreader says

    Just one more event to add to the many the last few years in the category, “I can’t believe what I’m reading.”

  5. Michael Bauman says

    Now we have converted to even newer faiths to create paradise in this, the only world we shall ever know. Democratic capitalism, consumerism, globalism, environmentalism, egalitarianism.

    These words from the article ring true to me. We have made both man and nature into things, resources that must be either used or protected upon the whim of the moment and the sense of the sacred is lost.

    Only a sacramental, ascetic faith that acknowledges the Incarnation and all of the effects of that singular event has any hope to restore the sacred understanding of man and the rest of creation.

    There is something here that speaks to the nature of the priesthood too. Man has a particular office to take on the sins of others and offer them up, even in blood, and receive the absolution and grace that is different than woman.

    Women receive the heavenly seed and give it substance and life in a way that men are incapable of. That is why it is such a great tragedy to send women into combat.

  6. The Catholic Traditionalists that I’m familiar with see Benedict as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. First, there is a great deal of dismay over what many see as his silence and sheltering of Cardinals and Bishops who did little or nothing regarding pederast priests. Salon.com has an interesting article discussing the troubling side to this aspect of his papacy. Secondly, like John Paul II before him, Benedict has gone out of his way to achieve rapprochement with Judaics. Traditionalists were upset by his decision to change traditional prayers offered on Good Friday for the conversion of the Jews — a move many saw as little more than a betrayal of the witness of Christ. Complaints had been lodged by various Rabbinic leaders regarding the prayers and Benedict watered them down to satisfy their outrage. Would the Orthodox consider a Patriarch or Metropolitan a traditionalist if he censured “offending” language in the Octoechos or the Menaion? Traditionalist Catholics familiar with the Talmud point to what “the traditions of the Jews” say about Christ: that His father was a Roman soldier (Pantera), that Mary was, how shall we say — a “loose” woman, and that Jesus is boiling in excrement in Hell for His sins against the Jewish people. These and other “traditions of the Rabbis” are discussed in a book published by Princeton University Press, “Jesus in the Talmud,” written by Peter Schafer, a Professor of Religion and Judaic Thought at Princeton University. But it isn’t simply the revision of prayers that bother the Traditionalists. There are other concessions Benedict made to the Rabbis and a number of things he did that indicated — at least in the eyes of the Traditionalists — that he was all too willing to placate the Rabbinic imperative to denigrate or reject the Truth of Christ in the name of some sort conciliatory move towards repairing “centuries of anti-Semitism” on the part of “the Church.” Unfortunately, most Christians are completely unfamiliar with the Talmud, its Mishnah and Gemara and the Torah Shebichtav and Torah Shebe’al Peh — one a written tradition the other an oral tradition supposedly handed down to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai. Never mind the occultic nature of the Kabbalah and its Gnostic aspects or that Orthodox Judaism teaches reincarnation — see Gershom Scholem for plenty of information on the Kabbalah. Consequently, Christians are too uninformed about what is involved in Orthodox and Messianic Judaism and accept whatever charges its adherents level against what is often portrayed as a bigoted and cruel Christian Church. This also touches on one of Benedict’s initiatives regarding the claim that the Jews crucified Christ. Benedict rejected this teaching which is all the more ironic when one considers that the Rabbis actually take credit for killing Jesus in Sanhedrin 43a in the uncensored Babylonian Talmud. Catholic Traditionalists argue that this led Benedict to essentially reject what some of the Church Fathers taught regarding “Judaizers” and the errors of the Jews (saints like St. John Chrysostom, St. Justin Martyr, and others). This Traditionalists see as nothing more than progressive or evolving theology in action, an unwillingness to take an uncompromising stand for the Truth of Christ and revising what is accepted teaching in the name of political expediency. So, why does Benedict have a reputation for being a Traditionalist himself? Like JP II, Benedict’s public “traditional pronouncements” provide cover for the transformations that have and are happening at the spiritual core of the Latin Church. A review of JP II and Benedict’s own reflections regarding voodoo in Benin will surely raise eyebrows for anyone that considers him or herself a traditionalist. There’s also the Vatican pronouncement that aliens likely exist on other planets and that Darwinian evolution is consistent with Church teachings. These are the reasons why some Traditionalist Catholic quarters consider him nothing more than the latest agent in a long line of Masonic-occult styled hoodwinks.

    • There is so much misinformation in your post, Patrick, that I weep. The Tradition is a holy thing. I am not certain that every “Traditionalist” is. No doubt one may be so anxious to preserve or restore traditions that the One of Whom they speak and Who is thereby made Present to our minds and senses is, in fact, forgotten and ignored. One kind of Traditionalist thinks that if the Tridentine Mass could simply be brought back and imposed, everything would be right again. This ignores the fact that everything wasn’t right even “in those days.” It ignores what the Divine Liturgy and the Holy Eucharist is and diminishes and minimizes what is meant by salvation and theosis.

      So, what if such persons consider Benedict to have been a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as you say. Does that make them right? In fact, the lack of charity undergirding such an assessment may indicate hearts that are, in fact, off center.

      I haven’t seen any credible evidence indicating Benedict’s (or Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger’s) complicity in sheltering cardinals and bishops who turned a blind eye toward pederast priests. How is an article in Salon a particularly reliable source, I wonder?

      I can testify first hand that many Orthodox have deep misconceptions about Catholics and also about Jews. In the same way, Jews have many miconceptions about Orthodox and other Christians and Protestants are typically quite misled about Orthodox and Catholics. It is easy to fall into these traps since we seldom have first hand information about and sympathetic acquintance with each other.

      MIght it not be wise to consider with a charitable eye, il Papa’s “decision”, as you put it, to soften the Good Friday lamentations and consider that there may have been other reasons than to placate various “Rabbini leaders”? The Pope hardly makes these decisions alone and given the way in which the Roman Church is structured, the curial decision to make the change is hardly equivalent tyo its having been made to the Menaion or Octoechos by a single Patriarch or Metropolitan. To suggest this with a sort of feigned outrage is to compare apples and oranges. The Communions aren’t structured in the same way, and within the Roman Communion the Pope and Curia certainly have more accepted authority than any Orthodox Patriarch or Metropolitan would dream of exercising.

      I had, personally, a great many misconceptions about Jews and Judaism before getting to know quite a few as friends and studying with them from within. Furthermore, just as there are all kinds of “Christians” so there are all kinds of “Jews”, even as St. Paul noted to the Romans, not every Jew is circumcized in his heart (but some are) and as St. John the Theologian says in the Apocalypse, there are some who “say” they Jews, but aren’t. The same may be said of Christians, of course–even of some who call themselves Orthodox Christians.

      No doubt “the Jews” killed Christ. But this begs the question that we are often loath to ask: Who are these “Jews”? What does the language mean? Surely it does not mean every Jew of all times or living after Chrtist or even every Jew living at the time of Christ–after all it excludes (at a minimum) Himself, and the Apostles other than Judas, the Theotokos, the other women who followed Him from Galilee, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who were not consenting to the Sanhedrin’s judgment. It probably does not even mean every inhabitant of Judea. Most likely it connotes Caiphas and his father in law Annas, who purchased and held their “high priestly” office from Rome, and their cronies, the members of the other four high priestly familes who ran the Jerusalem establishment along with the Herodians and some Pharisees (though probably not all, q.v. Joseph and Nicodemus).

      The point is the label used in our liturgies of “the Jews” can be misinterpreted and lead our people to despise persons and hold them personally responsible for deeds they did not do. It is all too easy to use our crticisms of “the Jews,” or Judas or “the Pharisees” (not to mention the Catholics or the Protestants) to get the monkey off our own back and make ourselves feel holier than thought–which makes us guitly of the very hypocrisy of which we critize the Pharisees and we become puffed up with their “leaven” even as our Lord warned us to beware of it and avoid it.

      I’m quite skeptical of how many Catholics (or of the rest of us for that matter) are actaully “familiar” as you say with the Talmud. As you seem to know, the Mishna is a commentary and collection of discussions by sages and rabbis interpreting the Torah and the Gemara is a further commentary and collection of (sometimes heateds) discussion by later rabbis on the Mishna. It contains statements of all kinds and can hardly fairly be used, like a catechism or set of canons, to say what Jewish belief is about Jesus’s birth. The suggestion of his paternity from a Roman soldier named Pantera may only be suggestions made by one of the discussants. They are not the ruling of a rabbincal court or council. Furthermore, there are discussions about several men named Yeshua, who lived at different times and it is not alway clear which if any of the discussion actually relate to Christ let alone whether they are “authoritative” in any way. People use these kind of anecdotes for their own purposes.

      Your and your “Catholic Traditionalists’ suggestion that Benedict was willing “to placate the Rabbinic imperative to denigrate or reject the Truth of Christ” is unfair and without foundation in the light of Dominus Iesus and many of Benedict’s own writings.

      I’m not sure whay you seem to consider the rabbinc distinction between the written Torah and the oral Torah so unjustified, since we honor much the same distinction when we speak of Holy Scripture and Tradition, some things being written and some handed on by word of mouth and by demonstration.

      It is no quite accurate either to state that the Kabbalah is necesssarily occultic. Some form of it are; others are no so different from what we Orthodox recognize as mystical. Nor does every strain of Orthodox Judaism teach reincarncation.

      Regarding the “transformations that have and are happening at the spiritual core of the Latin Church”, they are not all bad. Some damage was done by Vatican II and its modernist interpreters. Yes, churches were full in American at least in the 50s with 3 out of 4 Catholics attending every Sunday and holiday and now attendance has fallen to 1 in 4. At the same time I can testify to a spiritual awakening that has also occurred in some sectors and not only among the mantialla-wearing Latin Mass types. (This is not, by the way, a slur on them. My own bride of 33 years has taken to covering her head since we became Orthodox and I rejoice at this. But it is the motivation of her choice and the humility and desire for theosis it signifies that is important and not simply the keeping of a custom for tradition’s sake. That would get us no where but a place where, as we were warned would occur in the last days, of having a form of religion but lacking the power thereof.

      Let us pray that we may all faithfully represent Christ and show Him as He is to others who do not yet believe and gain a hearing with them by respecting them enough to find out what they believe and why so that they may be interested and feel free to ask us for a reason of the hope that is within us. These people are not our enemies. They are children of God, whom He loves and our salvation may, in a sense, depend on theirs. If they choose to make themselves our foes, let it be their doing not our, but if they do let us turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, bless them who curse us, pray for them who despitefully use us, and forgive the for they often know not what they do and if we do not forgive them we have Christ’s own warning that our heavenly Father will not forgive us. Let love be without dissimulation and let love never cease for God is love and we are made to be like Him.


      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        Lex caritas! Many thanks, indeed, for this remarkably perceptive and insightful note!
        It’s likewise unnerving to read even worse and more egregious hasty generalizations made by many of us today about Islam, based on the worst of ideologically biased and politically motivated commentary by fanatics. I sometimes wonder what many of us would do without threatening menaces to bother about.

  7. New on Youtube says


    This video discusses community and communion

    No Metropolitan Jonah lecture tomorrow.

  8. What is it about many Orthodox Christians that will not allow them to come within 500 feet of anything Catholic without making some arrogant, mean spirited, or snide remark?

    If this story were about how Catholicism is “right” and Orthodoxy is “wrong,” then the shots at Catholicism could be understood as an effort by Orthodox believers to defend their position. This, however, is not the case. This is a general-interest complimentary-opinion story about the Pope.

    I know, of course, that those making such remarks consider it their duty to do so. And they think it a badge of honor when they are chided. I wonder if they think that Met. Hilarion is a closet-Catholic because he is in the same room as the Pope? And shaking hands with him!

    • To understand why there is so much animosity you need to understand the history of the relations over the past 1200 years. The RCC has a terrible track record of duplicty and exploitation, all in the name of a false supremecy. Shaking hands and talking nice is nothing without real repentance, if anything such interpretations smack of a Protestant insti-saved mindset. Our modern society likes to discount history for a counterfiet emotinal headyness and yet it is our history that is a key underpinning of our world view. To ignore it is to leave oneself open to the spirit of the age.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Dan, while I do agree with you regarding your critique of “Protestant insti-saved mindset,” we Orthodox are not angels in comparison. Ever since the Fall of Constantinople, the Phanar essentially rewrote the book on self-serving duplicity. I’m not sure the other patriarchates have been any better.

        • Never the less you don’t see examples of Orthodox bishops intrguing with various nations to conquer, subjegate, and convert the population. Rome has never recovered from the moving of the imperial seat to Constantinople. This is the problem and the root of the papal supremacy heresey and people forget t at their peril.

          Furthermore we as Orthodox Christians need to stop using the phrase Byzantine and the term Byzantine Empire. The so called Byzantine Empire never existed. It was always the Roman Empire, except for the turmoil after the sacking of Constantinople, up until the fall of the Great City. The term Byzantine is actually a pejorative applied by western scholars.

  9. I am not Catholic and don’t have, as they say, a dog in the fight. However, I would like to say a few things in regard to your post. Although you say there is a great deal of misinformation in my earlier post, I’m not exactly sure what you think that is. Regarding the Talmud, you’ll have to take issue with Princeton Professor of Judaic Thought Peter Schafer and his scholarly work. In regard to the Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem certainly offers ample evidence regarding the occult nature of Lurianic and Hasidic uses of the Kabbalah. In fact, there is a tradition, a highly mystical one, involving what is very similar to tantric yoga and kundalini where the semen of the Kabbalah practitioner is believed to travel up the spine and encase the brain. There is a rather large, scholarly tome written on the subject by Moshe Idel, “Kabbalah and Eros,” published by Yale University Press. Prof. Idel is A senior research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, and Max Cooper Professor of Jewish Thought at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has a doctorate in Kabbalah. The point in all of this is that the “traditions” of the Kabbalah are diametrically opposed to Roman Catholic teaching and involve techniques and mystical doctrines that Catholics considered to be nothing short of occultism. This debate is an old one and can be found in the debate between traditionalists and so-called Christian Cabalists during the Renaissance. Occult sympathizes such as Ficino, Pico, Giordano Bruno, and Reuchlin advocated use of the Kabbalah because they practiced a form of magic that they believed put then in contact with angels. Pfefferkorn and Reuchlin had quite a debate on the issue of the Kabbalah and orthodox Catholics have not forgotten the infiltration of the Papacy at that time by Kabbalists. Scholar Francis Yates has written extensively on the topic. So, to say that the Kabbalah is not occultic is to ignore the ontological and metaphysical view it proposes regarding the world, God, and the soul. Orthodox Catholics soundly reject ANY aspect of the Kabbalah as being consistent with Christianity. As far as the Talmud and the Gemara and Mishnah, the issue is how Benedict could sanction any retreat from his church’s traditions or teachings regarding the “error of the Jews.” No one I know thinks this involves a mandate to persecute Judaics — that’s unchristian and unconscionable. However, what it does provide a mandate for is a witness for the Truth of Christ. Backing away from traditional liturgical texts and practices that are intended to convert people unaware of the Truth necessary for salvation seems, in the minds of orthodox Catholics, a sin and an abdication of the Papacy’s apostolic mission. Additionally, it’s not just the Talmud that is of concern here. There is the Toledot Yeshu that contains many obscene and offensive things related to Christ. Orthodox Catholics ask why the Rabbinic leadership isn’t offering to eradicate those elements offensive to Christians from its traditions. As far as who killed Jesus, I don’t know of any orthodox Catholics that think this means present day Jews bear some sort of responsibility. However, when Rabbinic leaders criticize Catholics for this teaching they typically attempt to shift blame onto others. Orthodox Catholics see in this nothing more than a cynical ploy to fool Christians into thinking that Jews are really their elder brothers in the faith who are also eligible for salvation — without Christ!!! In other words, it’s a means whereby Rabbis can insist that Catholics avoid trying to evangelize Jews — the very thing the Church is supposed to do regarding anyone in darkness. One can quibble over whether or not the Talmud is actually referring to Christ — you’ll have to go head to head with the considerable scholarly proof and competence of Prof. Peter Schafer and his sources — but that’s not really the point here. Even if Jesus’ paternity is attributed to a Rabbinic interlocutor, how does that make it better? Is the text itself intended to provide an out for Jews if the text is found out? That is, does it provide a means for Rabbis to argue, “Well no, that’s not what we think! That’s just a ridiculous suggestion by a misguided Rabbi!” These “decoy” texts are not uncommon in parts of the Talmud. The fact that there is no central authority to declare “official teaching” is related precisely to the oral tradition of the Jews. An oral tradition allows occluded teachings or controversial teachings to be passed down out of the light of day. It promotes an “exoteric” “esoteric” distinction that conceals “mysteries” from the eyes of the profane. You can read scholars on this issue and decide for yourself. The point is the willingness of the Pope to downplay or revise traditional teachings of his church in service to political expediency. In the end, I’m not sure what misinformation you think my earlier post displays. You might think orthodox Catholics are somehow misguided in how they regard Judaism or the Pope’s handling of pederast priests but whether or not that’s the case will depend on whether or not they (orthodox Catholics) have sound, plausible reasons to question Benedict in this regard. Still, Benedict’s papacy saw the Latin church reverse important Catholic teachings from who killed Christ to the existence of aliens and Darwinian evolution. In regard to aliens, it’s not an innocuous claim. Since phenomena associated with aliens and UFOs often resemble demonic manifestations, how spiritually sound is it to tell the Catholic faithful that these aliens could be other life forms and not demons? You can draw your own conclusions regarding evolution.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Regarding Evangelism and the Jews, what you are describing here is a failure of nerve on the part of the Roman Church. Like you, I don’t like it’s other accommodations to the zeitgeist (which you detail). The purpose of my introduction to Pat Buchanan’s essay was not about the internal failures or theological faults of the RCC but the fact that in the broader sense, the RCC has been the bulwark against modernism and totalitarianism. The intense pressures put on the Papacy to “reform” by the dessicated intellectuals who have ruined secular Western culture was no small thing. That Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were able to basically thumb their noses at the Cultural Marxists was a tremendous boon to all traditional people of good will.

      If anything, the stances of these men have made it easier for Orthodoxy to regain its cultural footing. I am convinced that ever since the patriarchate of Meletius IV Metaxakis, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has made too easy an accommodation with Modernism and it has only been the courage of JPII and Benedict XVI that have prevented Constantinople from going even further to the Left. Do you want an example? OK, the present EP said that “in general, the Orthodox Church is pro-life.” No pope would have said “in general.”

      The loss of Benedict in my opinion will make that harder.

      • I suppose it’s one of those things that’s hard to really quantify, but it seems to me that Russia began the process of resurrecting due to the will of God and some measure of repentance on the part of Russian believers. Despite my differences with my orthodox Catholic friends, I don’t believe Rome has been the mystical hand that has held back the final apostasy. If anyone played that role it was Tsar Martyr Nicholas — a view I’m sure that sounds bizarre and ridiculous to Catholics and many Orthodox. Nonetheless, it is Russia that plays a central role in the endgame of the approach of anti-Christ, not so much Rome — in my opinion. I don’t think this is a “fact” or a point of doctrine but it is my intuitive sense of things as I read history and look at the lay of the modern world. What country has moved to outlaw homosexual activity and proselytizing? What country has struggled with education reform that allows for Christianity in the classroom? Yes, Russia is imperfect but this shouldn’t lead us to dismiss these things as a misguided resurgent nationalism. The Papacy and the West in general fell victim to the Enlightenment and they’ve never really recovered since. What, in my opinion allowed Orthodoxy to regain its footing was the blood of its martyrs in Russia and repentance on the part of its admittedly small number of believers. Give it time, however.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Patrick, I very much agree with you that the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II was perhaps the last Christian monarch from a long line of monarchs that withheld the bloody reign of anti-Christ. That doesn’t mean that in the interim that the Papacy hasn’t had the spiritual resources to take up the slack once secularist terror was unleashed on the world (from 1914 on). Even though I am not a Roman Catholic, I firmly believe the possibility that the Fatima Appearance was prophetic. In it the Virgin told the people to “pray for Russia.” When the evil Bolshevists took over, the Pope at the time did “consign” Russia to the protection of the Theotokos.

          If I remember correctly, Orthodox theologians spoke of icons in Russia glowing mysteriously around this time, which gave comfort to the people to persevere, if secretly. The key of course was repentance. I believe that the Russian people did repent of the satanic folly of Bolshevism (which was thrust upon them by alien evildoers) and the unjust murder of their sovereign done in their name.

      • George that’s not a good example. +Bartholemew hardly occupies the same place in Orthodoxy as Pope Benedict in the RCC. A better example would be +Kiril.

    • Bishop Sergios (David Black) says

      Patrick, re your references to kabbalah in your post on Feb 14, 6:24 PM, a visiting Elder at Simonopetra in 1976 said that the widespread, well-nigh universal practice of kabbalah among Jewish members of the medical profession, for some extended period of time, led to the canon prohibiting Christians from consulting Jewish doctors. I don’t recall that Elder’s sources, if he referenced them – the circumstances were informal and conversational. The point, he thought, was not to avoid Jews as Jews, but to avoid mixing the occult in with standard medical procedures, which is what Jewish doctors were believed to be doing. Thank you for your carefully written posts. Bishop Sergios (David Black)

      • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

        Bishop,my fat clumsy fingers gave your post a thumbs down when I meant the opposite.

      • Vladyka,

        I don’t know anything about the place of the Kabbalah in medical practice on the part of Jews. I do remember reading that Maimonides, referred to as “Rambam,” perhaps the most respected Jewish philosopher of all time, instructed Jewish doctors not to treat Christians on the Sabbath. There is some question as to whether or not this teaching applied to Christians all the time, especially when Jews found themselves to be a majority population. In any case, this discussion appears in Maimonides’ Hilchot Avodat Kochavim, which has to do with the relationship between Gentiles and Jews. In the text, Jewish doctors are instructed not to treat a “woman idolator in labor” on the Sabbath which, in Maimonides’ day, Christians were considered because they had not accepted the so-called Noachide laws. You can read the actual text at this link here: Go to Halacha 12 to find the text —


        The footnote attached — footnote 45 — clarifies the matter. On one reading, it seems to suggest that Christians, insofar as the are considered idolators, are to be denied medical treatment, certainly on the Sabbath. Obviously, this teaching is not accepted by the vast majority of doctors who are Jewish today but it might explain why, historically, there was distrust on the part of Christians regarding Jewish doctors when these things became better known.

      • Here is another contributor to the Boston situation. This fraud of a bishop brought homosexuality to the Boston OCA church and it never left. He then screwed everyone there and took off to the Republic of California with his lover and ran in and out of dioceses and jurisdictions until he went to that gay group at Transfiguration monastery in Boston (see Pokrov) and now he has joined some other freaky fraud group in Greece. You are a lair abuser and a fraud Mr. Black. Ask Pokrov all about this bum.


        (formerly Harry of Everett MA, remember me and my SON!!! Dave? huh???)

  10. Interesting about the icons glowing — I’ve never heard of that. I agree with you that Rome has the means to reverse centuries of secularization and apostasy. But, and call me hard-headed in this regard, I think in order to do so Rome has to become Orthodox. While there’s no official Orthodox teaching — to my knowledge — on the matter (outside of views attributed to Blessed Vl. Averky of Jordanville), the Holy Spirit might withdraw from institutions and people over time. If so, It seems to me that, as Rome became increasingly infected with various kinds of theological innovations, it unwittingly began moving away from God — or, at the very least, created distortions that led to practices among the faithful that made it more difficult for them to go through the actual process of theosis. Part of me wonders if the real reason why JP II was intent on rapprochement with the Orthodox was because he realized that the only way to save the Catholic Church was through a union with the True Church — that is, the Orthodox Church: if Rome has either lost its Grace or was believed to be in the process of losing its Grace, unity with the Orthodox would hopefully restore its Mystical balance. Of course, this view is scoffed at by my orthodox Catholic friends. In fact, they believe union was sought for various conspiratorial reasons which run the gamut from Freemasonic hijinks to financial and political motives. In the end, there’s no denying that elements within the Latin Church continue to fight the good fight regarding the culture wars. I’m not convinced, however, the JP II completely disavowed himself of Marxist or modernist thought. Admittedly, I haven’t read most of his writings but both he and Benedict make ample use of German philosophical theologians and seldom rely on the Church Fathers. It’d be like Lossky quoting Heidegger, Husserl, or Hegel instead of Pseudo-Dionysius or the Cappadocians.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Or the Cappadocians referring to Plato, Aristotle, etc?
      I wouldn’t be at all surprised to read of any of the Losskys quoting Heidegger, Husserl, Fichte, Hegel, or Kant (except, of course, in Vladimir Lossky’s book on Mystical Theology). Going by the recollections of my late friend and parishioner, Andrei Nikolaevich Lossky, Vladimir’s brother and Professor of History at UCLA, Vladimir, like his father would be VERY apt to quote from all sorts of modern European philosophers. Andrei said it was always a source of amusement in the Lossky family that Vladimir became known as a theologian!
      All the Losskys, by the way, loved the late Archbishop Peter of the OCA very much: he had been their parish priest in the MP parish in Paris (while teaching at the MPs St. Denys Institute). They said he was always especially kind to, and beloved of, their children.

  11. Referring to Plato or Aristotle is one thing. Using one of their philosophical principles as if it were part of the revealed truth is another. St. Maximus, St. John of Damascus, and the Cappadocians certainly make use of philosophical language, especially regarding cosmology and issues pertaining to substance and essence. However, they do not substitute Greek philosophical ideas for Christian ones — for instance, by claiming that God is Plato’s Demiurge and that Jesus, Paul, and Peter all share in common the Platonic form of “human being.” St. Maximus’ “Logoi” are not Platonic forms and Christ is not the Demiurge. Or, that God, as the Platonic Demiurge, is not above Being but is identical to the Form of the Good. Perhaps more to the point, the understanding of Eros in Plato is nothing like the understanding of Eros in Orthodoxy. Yes, it seems reasonable to think that many of the educated Fathers read Plato’s Symposium but where do any of the Fathers appropriate that understanding for Christian doctrine? Likewise, modern day Orthodox writers/theologians like Yannaras, while making use of Heidegger, do not attempt to understand personhood and the hypostasis in terms of Dasein or Heidegger’s “existential analytic.” Lossky may have been quite conversant in Heidegger or Hegel. However, at least in his English language publications, he doesn’t sound like he’s offering an explication of Christian doctrine in Heideggerean or Hegelian terms — if that’s possible. That Orthodox theologians and writers have made use of philosophy is not controversial but they don’t refashion the “truths of philosophy” in Christian clothing. Reading JP II and Benedict seemed to me like the latter.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Well, ok, Patrick. That’s a lot different from your original ” It’d be like Lossky quoting Heidegger, Husserl, or Hegel instead of Pseudo-Dionysius or the Cappadocians.”

  12. cynthia curran says

    Still, Benedict’s papacy saw the Latin church reverse important Catholic teachings from who killed Christ to the existence of aliens and Darwinian evolution. In regard to aliens, it’s not an innocuous claim. Since phenomena associated with aliens and UFOs often resemble demonic manifestations, how spiritually sound is it to tell the Catholic faithful that these aliens could be other life forms and not demons? You can draw your own conclusions regarding evolution. Well, there are some Catholics and mainly protestants that think some of the UFO activity is demonic since some people that go into the spacecraft are cut up. Some orthodox think this as well but most of the demonic literature on this issue I think is protestantt at least in the States. As for who killed Christ it was the Jewish leadership and the Romans. Darwin evolutioin is also except by Orthodox and as George states the Ecumenical Patriarchate takes a look of left view on things, Byzantine law didn’t punish abortion until the 60 day period for girls and the 80 period for boys, something I can across which explains the difference between orthodox on the issue and Catholics.

    • I’m not sure I understand your point regarding UFOs. There are Orthodox writers here and there that have discussed the issue. For English speakers in the US, Fr. Seraphim Rose’s book, “Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future” is probably the best known. However, I wasn’t really thinking of what kind of Christians primarily address the UFO phenomenon. One can read Jacques Vallee and John Keel — two of the more “scientific” and prominent investigators on the topic. Strangely enough, both Vallee and Keel came to see themselves as “demonologists” of a certain stripe, given the phenomena associated with UFOs. The material on this topic is frightening, bizarre, and not something one should become preoccupied with; however, it does seem to suggest that what is being dealt with is very similar to the kinds of phenomena reported on by various saints — the point Fr. Seraphim Rose develops. I don’t know that Vallee or Keel were Christian or, if they were, to what extent they would identify their conclusions as a product of their faith. Vallee was trained in mathematics at the Sorbonne and had an advanced degree of some kind in astrophysics. He considered his approach to be more “scientific.” I think the worry here is not whether warnings regarding UFO phenomenon are tainted because they are Protestant worries — I’m not sure that even applies. Rather, the worry here is that by telling Catholic laymen that aliens exits — or likely exist — one may be promoting a spiritual openness to phenomena that is dangerous.

      Regarding the killing of Christ, the issue here has nothing to do with whether there’s some strange, generational guilt or taint. I don’t know of any orthodox Catholics that take that bizarre and unfounded view. The issue is whether or not the Catholic Church accepts the teaching that Jews can be saved without Christ. Traditionally, the killing of Jesus was directly tied to an historical event that resonates with Old Testament prefiguring. There is a mystical connection of significant proportions when one considers Jesus’ death and the book of Leviticus — who could perform the Temple sacrifices, what kind of sacrifice was necessary for various sins, how the sacrificial offering was to be treated, when priests could eat of the sacrifice offered, etc. In light of the revelation of Christ, these issues go beyond Halakic considerations but open up onto the salvation for all mankind. Thus, understanding the death of Jesus at the hands of the Pharisees resonates with Leviticus in interesting ways. By revising the Catholic Church’s traditional teaching on the issue, an important part of the mystery is lost and we have an entry for the claim that salvation is possible without Christ. Whether you agree or not, that is the orthodox Catholic beef with Benedict on the topic.

      Darwinian evolution — in its classical form, not today’s Lamarkian revision — suggests that human beings evolved or descended from some sort of hominid ancestor. This raises interesting questions regarding the soul, what the hypostasis of the person is, and how we would then be made in the image and likeness of the Triune God. Again, you may very well be right but I’d like to know where there is an official doctrinal statement on the part of the Orthodox Church or any Orthodox writer claiming that Darwinian evolution is consistent with Church teaching. I’m sure there are Orthodox Christians that accept Darwinian evolution but I’d like to know where the Church actually sanctions it.

      As far as abortion, there was some disagreement, if I remember correctly — someone can fill in the details if I get them wrong — among the early Fathers regarding when the soul develops within the body. For some reason, I recall that St. Gregory of Nyssa thought it took 40 days for the soul to enter the body. Eventually, the consensus settled on the view that the soul enters the body at conception: here, drawing on Aristotelian language (kudos to Vl. Tikhon here) the form of a human being is the soul (animating principle) while the body is the matter — the idea of the substantial form. Consequently, I believe St. Basil for one argued that abortion at any time should be understood as murder. Whatever Byzantine law claimed — I know nothing about Byzantine law so you’ll have to provide information on that front — would not overturn the Church’s prohibition against abortion. If there was a period of time in Church history where abortion was sanctioned or unpunished within a certain time frame, I’d like to know where I can read about it to educate myself on the topic. Thanks —

  13. cynthia curran says

    Cruxfrication is a Roman punishment not Jewish and the Jews had to have the ok from Pilate. who was governor ,so Pilate was the most responsible. Some UFO accounts have people cut open by the aliens and then sewn up which some think is demonic.

  14. Doesn’t matter if it’s Jewish or Roman. The Pharisees accused Jesus and asked Pilate to crucify Him. He was brought before Pilate. Pilate offered the Pharisees a choice between Jesus and Barabas — another interesting level of mystery when one considers the place of the scapegoat. Go back and read the Gospel account — it’s all there.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      This discussion reminds me of something that those reading this blog might find interesting. Every week, the Antiochian Archdiocese published the complete text of Vespers and Matins so that it can be printed out and used without having to use all the books necessary to find the proper sticheria, etc. Originally, it was published in simple Word format. However, someone was hacking our Archdiocesan site and rewriting anything that a Jew might
      consider offensive. As a result the Archdiocese changed to using a pdf format that could not be changed.
      Read Jesus in the Talmud by Peter Schäfer. It shows how violently anti-Christian ancient Jewish writings were. The Talmud brags about the role played by Jews in having Christ crucified. When reading ancient Christian statements against the Jews it is important to remember the context. The Jews were violently anti-Christian and provoked the sort of response found in some of the writings of St. John Chrysostom. Never forget Hitler killed a lot more Orthodox Christians than he did Jews.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        ‘Never forget Hitler killed a lot more Orthodox Christians than he did Jews’ Father Morris concludes.
        What’s the point of that exhortation? Hitler didn’t give a damn about the religion of the armies his army fought. He certainly patronized some of the Orthodox citizens of his Reich. He even patronized the building of a ROCOR Church in Berlin, for which he was profusely thanked him as a great Fuehrer and benefactor. The Russian Orthodox in the Reich were all under the Omophorion of Metropolitan Seraphim (Lade) an ethnic German. The Romanian Orthodox Church was closely allied to the Iron Guard, a quasi-Nazi Romanian political faction of hooligans Only the Serbian Orthodox were suspected of being Russophile and anti-Croatian Catholic, but they were not blamed by Hitler for their faith.
        Never forget, rather, that Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews. He never tried to exterminate the Orthodox; in fact, he needed the Slavs of Russia to work for the Reich.
        Then, too, there were Ukrainian Orthodox and Uniate clergy in occupied Galicia that gladly wore Nazi insignia on their vestments and on Church paraments…not only Orthodox processional banners during Liturgy, by swastika banners. Anybody wants copies of photos send me your email address.
        Yes, Jews are mostly anti-Christian but, please, explain how they were ever (after Christ) “violently” antiChristian. I don’t believe or accept that. Never have the Jews exceeded or even approached the standards of violence followed by Christians relative to Jews, especially in the Crusades and in “Catholic” Spain. We’ve heard of Sephardic Jews and I believe the oldest synagogue in America was Sephardic.
        Sephardic Jews are scattered all across North Africa and Asia Minor, including Turkey and Greece.
        Sephardic comes from the Hebrew word for Spain. They were given by the Christians who “re’ conquered Spain a choice of baptism, expulsion, or death. Fortunately, a Good Neighbor was found: the Ottoman Turkish Sultan who welcomed them into his vast Empire , where they prospered in dhimmitude into modern times. It’s not clear to me at all, given human nature, why Jews are NOT violently anti-Christian!
        Muslims have always treated Jews with respect and “dhimmitude’ (protection). Of course they,like Christians, always had to pay for their dhimmitude by paying special taxes to finance their protection. They also were given access, like Christians, to the highest levels of the bureaucracy and finance. The Armenians and the Copts (like the Jews!) prospered mightily in the Islamic Empire,; and became fabulously rich. Greeks, too, prospered especially in Alexandria and the Phanar, so that the word “Phanariote” became pejorative, because the Greek tax collectors from the Phanar were notorious for their corruption and brutality in collecting taxes (regular taxes) throughout the Balkans.
        “Never forget Hitler killed a lot more Orthodox Christians than he did Jews.”
        Never forget that NO ONE hated Liberals more than Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Tojo, and Mao-Tse-Tung, ok?

        • It’s a common claim that the violence of Jews towards Christians never reached the level of Christian violence against Jews. Given the Jewish make up of the NKVD and the leadership among the Bolsheviks, one should take into consideration the Jewish violence against Christians during and after the Communist putsch in Russia. As various historians have pointed out, one can find Jews calling the revolution in Russia at the time a “Jewish Revolution.” This isn’t too difficult to understand, given the resentment that was percolating in the Pale of Settlement, put to use by revolutionaries who wanted to bring Russia to its knees. That’s one reason why Stolypin was murdered — his reforms would have taken the wind out of the sails of the revolution. After the revolution, the Communist state’s security apparatus was primarily run by Judaics, an argument Yuri Slezkine, a Professor of Russian History at UC Berkeley, makes in his book, “The Jewish Century.” It’s an interesting read and a compelling case he makes, especially in regard to the security state under Krushchev.

          And, since we’re on the topic, Elliott Horowitz, Associate Professor of Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, has written a very interesting book on the violence of Jews against Christians: “Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence.” It’s a very interesting book, endorsed by no less a personage than Leon Weiselter.

          In regard to Spain and the phenomenon of the “Murranos,” there’s a bit more to the story. One has to keep in mind that during this time, Jews lived in communities, “ghettos,” and the Rabbinic leadership held a great deal of power. A problem Jews confronted when living in Christian nations was how they would handle certain passages in the uncensored Babylonian Talmud, the Toledot Yesu, the Shulcan Aruch, or knowledge of certain Kabbalistic practices. The Rabbis worried that if the surrounding Christian majority became familiar with these things, there would be persecutions. Keep in mind that at this time, there weren’t really more “liberal” versions of Judaism. Consequently, the instructions to spit when passing Christian churches, that it was okay to cheat gentiles but not Jews, that it is okay to ignore the lives of Gentiles to save one Jew, etc, would — and did — land Jewish people in trouble with the surrounding Christian population. Additionally, many of the Jews in Spain were engaged in commerce and maintained good relations with fellow Jews in other countries. In some cases, trade was diverted from Spain to these other lands in order to assist the interests of their friends or family. And, when Spain went to war with one of these countries, supposedly these “conversos” would supply information regarding the movement of Spanish ships, undermining the military interests of the Spanish crown.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            patrick, patrick! Many revolutionaries, such as Trotzky and others were ethnic Russian Jews. As revolutionaries, however, they made no distinction between Jews and Christians in their violence. There were members of other ethnic groups that were Muslim and Buddhist amongst the Revolutionaries as well. I don’t believe ONE synagogue was opened up in the USSR after the revolution, though. Surely, if there was a specifically Jewish policy of violence against Christians, opening synagogue should have been the frosting on the cake of the revolution, no? With your type of “reasoning’ those Jews who blame the Russian Orthodox Church for the misdeeds of the Cossacks and Black Hundreds were right?
            What does the Spain of the Murranos have to do with anything? The Jews with all their good and nasty scriptures and arcana etc., lived side by side in peace and harmony with Christians and Muslims in Islamic Spain. “Conversos” were not caused by Judaism, but by the Christian TERROR visited on Jews and Muslims once the Christians got into the driver’s seat! You mentioned “A problem Jews confronted when living in Christian nations.” The main problem was the intolerance and terroristic violence of the Christians toward “The Christ-Killers,” and you know it.
            “The rabbis worried that if the surrounding Christian majority became familiar with these things,” (then) there would be persecutions.” patrick. You can say many things about Jewish rabbis (it’s a free country), but you really shouldn’t call them stupid if you expect to be heard on any topic at all!
            “The rabbis WORRIED…there would be persecutions if…?” Has anyone asked you to do your Shtick on late night comedy tv? Oh, the days are way too short!

            • I’m not sure what your distinction between “ethnic Jews” and what — “practicing Jews?” — is supposed to net you. The same sort of sophistry can be employed when discussing the actions of Germans (or Soviets) regarding the Jews: there are the true believing, practicing Christians and those who were baptized Christian but not really practicing or believing. So, it was the Nazis, not Christians, that had a hand in persecuting Jews in Germany??? Thus, it was secular Jews — but not really Jews — that were responsible for killing millions of Christians in Russia??? Ironically, according to Halackic tradition, Jews are still considered Jews even if they are not observant. As far as the status of Jewish places of worship after the revolution, it’s immaterial to the issue: did Christians suffer at the hands of Jews? If all synagogues were closed — and I don’t know that they were — so what? Does that mean that Jews did not persecute Christians under the Soviets?

              In regard to Trotsky, it’s interesting that he became a Zionist late in life. He and Lenin both believed Jews would be assimilated into the broader revolutionary culture. In many ways, this is simply the view of Moses Hess, the founder of Zionism and a HUGE influence on Marx and the development of Communism. Trotsky’s change of heart can be attributed to Stalin’s use of anti-Antisemitism for political purposes. However, Zionism and the Soviet state were not necessarily mutually exclusive and more than a few Communist officials were also Zionists, if even of the left-leaning variety. So, to claim that they killed and persecuted without regard to their victims being Christian is to suggest the martyrs weren’t really martyred — they weren’t killed because of their belief in Christ but because of what — because they were religious in some way? This also diminishes the martyrdom of the Tsar and his family. According to this logic, secular Jews — who were thus not really Jews, though some were Zionists — killed Christians not because the latter believed in Christ but because they had metaphysical beliefs considered to be in the category of “religious.” Okay . . .

              Regarding the Marranos, there’s a great deal more to the story here — that’s the point. I’m not sure why you think the beliefs and practices of the Jews isn’t part of the dynamic regarding problems between Jews and Christians. What do you think explains it? Are we to believe that Spanish Christians just had an irrational, nasty hatred of “the Other” and decided for no reason at all to persecute the Jews among them? William Thomas Walsh’s book, “Philip II” sheds interesting light on these questions and suggests there is, once again, more to the story than the rather simple picture presented by those who portray Christians as nothing but victimizers in their relations with Jews. Ditto regarding Elliott Horowitz’s book, “Reckless Rites” — you might want to give it a read.

        • the Truth Shall Set You Free says

          As usual Bishop Tikhon shows his ignorance in his posts. Jews have hardly been innocent victims of Christian persecution. There is a long history of Jewish persecution of Orthodox Christians. The Jews put a curse against Christians in the official synagogue service. They bragged of killing Christ in the Talmud and spread the story that Our Lord was the illegitimate child of a Roman soldier. Jews turned Christians into the Roman authorities during the persecutions. Orthodox welcomed the Germans as liberators, because they were living under Stalin’s tyranny, which was actually worse than living under Hitler. Russians did not like Jews because of the memory of economic exploitation by Jews In parts of Russia conquered by Poland. Polish land owners borrowed money from Jews and paid them back by making the peasants pay fees to the Jews. In some areas Orthodox Christians had to pay fees to Jews for marriages and baptisms in Russian Orthodox Churches.The Jews welcomed the Arab invasions of the Byzantine Empire. The Jews sided with the Ottoman Muslims against the Christians. For example, after the Greek Revolution of 1821 the Turks hung Patriarch Gregory V from the gate of the Patriarchate. When they took his dead body down, Jews dragged it through the streets of Constantinople.By any objective standard, the treatment of the Palestinian Orthodox by the Jews is as bad as the native Africans were treated during apartheid in South Africa. Jews harass Christian processions and spit on Christian clergy in Jerusalem. The Spanish did not trust the Jews because they sided with the Muslim Moors during the liberation of Spain from Muslim domination. Even in America, one Orthodox parish could not build on land that it had owned for years, because of Jews used every legal means to prevent them from building. They finally had to build in an entirely different area of the urban area of the city.

          • The Truth shall set you free, but there is a lot of error and over generalization in your post and that is not conducive to true freedom.


  15. cynthia curran says

    Read Jesus in the Talmud by Peter Schäfer. It shows how violently anti-Christian ancient Jewish writings were. The Talmud brags about the role played by Jews in having Christ crucified. When reading ancient Christian statements against the Jews it is important to remember the context. The Jews were violently anti-Christian and provoked the sort of response found in some of the writings of St. John Chrysostom. Never forget Hitler killed a lot more Orthodox Christians than he did Jews.

    This is true but the Jews who were govern by Rome coluldn’t do themselves. The Jews played upon of not being a friend of Caesar since Pilate according to some studies was allied with Serjanus who fell out of favor with Tiberius. Pilate stated he washed his hands of it but not really. Anyway, an inscription to Tiberius from Pilate was found in 1963.
    The Romans easily defeated the Jews in 63 B.C. because two brothers Aristbolius and Hyrcanius were fighting a civil war. Yes, the Jews were reponsible for their coming under Roman Rule by fighting each other.
    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)

  16. Not Benedict XVI says

    I think instead of sparing over how modernist the pope Benedict is, we should really ask RC to follow the example of OCA. Retire them [popes] every five years. Why just have one retired pope? What fun is that?