A Tale of Two Bishops

Metropolitan Augustine of Germany ceremoniously baptised by Roman Catholic Bishop.

In Charles Dickens’ classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, we are told from the beginning that “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”  

What Dickens was trying to convey was that even during the Red Terror unleashed by the French Revolution, as well as the abysmal morality that obtained during the Regency Period in England, things weren’t always as bad as they seemed.  Or they were only to the degree one succumbed to the spirit of the age.  Grace and goodness could always be found, depending upon how hard one looked for it.  

So, too, today, during this largely contrived pandemic, when so many Christian leaders have folded like cheap suits in the presence of the secular authorities.  Seeing such pusillanimity among the hierarchy makes despair inevitable.  We Orthodox Christians here in America are not the only ones who have an embarrassment of riches in this department.  Take for instance Metropolitan Augustine of Germany.  (As Henny Youngman would add:  “…please”.)

His Eminence, in case you don’t know, buckled, again, this time to the German government and ordered that Communion in the eighty or so parishes in his diocese will be closed for as long as Chancellor Angela Merkel declares.  Only the priests will be allowed to take the Eucharist.  To be sure, he said that he was only doing this in order to prevent further egregious diktats from taking place down the road.  Measures which would make a mockery out of the Eucharist.  Things like plastic spoons, disposable napkins, the wearing of masks, and so on.

Not that it matters, these measures may soon be ordered in due time, much to the merriment of Satan.  Make book on that.  Once Big Brother puts on his jackboots, he never takes them off.  And anyway, too many of our bishops miss the old days of the Byzantine court, where they would have made excellent sycophants, bowing and scraping before Caesar.  

I’m sorry, but restricting Communion to the priest in order to prevent further atrocities down the road is exceedingly small beer as far as victories are concerned.  It is a “victory” in the same sense that Sergianism was a victory in the early, terrible days of the Soviet Union.  “As long as we can keep a hundred or so churches operating even as the Bolsheviks were dynamiting the other thirty thousand, we’ll take it as a win.”   

What we are seeing is in fact no different from what was obtained during the late second century A.D.  In those days, several bishops and presbyters buckled under legal pressure and “handed over” (traditore) their books to the Roman authorities.  Many salved their consciences by stating that they were only handing over those books which were gathering dust in the attic.  Some of these books were heretical, others were deuterocanonical at best.  It didn’t matter, they bent the knee to Caesar; the optics as we like to say, looked bad.

Whatever sophistry they used to reason, they were cowards.

The Traditores, back then, did what all too many are doing today.  The bishops of most local Churches have succumbed to the spirit of the age.  Few are immune.  That being said, those who have led the way in handing over our sacraments are (surprise, surprise) in the Patriarchate of Constantinople.  

This should not startle us.  The majority of the “metropolitans” in that patriarchate are bishops in name only, presiding over dioceses that have long been extinct.  To be sure, they are intelligent men –most academics are–so we should not be surprised that they employ sophisticated reasoning.  And like sophists everywhere, they invariably accede to the spirit of the age.  After all, no reason to rock the boat. 

I get it:  nobody wants to go to jail.  That would interfere with the next useless ecumenical conference planned for Durban or Geneva, where they could hobnob with the elites of other denominations.  If they play their cards right, one of them might be invited to Davos next year, to kiss the ring of SauroSoros.  Maybe even get a picture taken with that little scold Greta Thurnburg, the patron saint of Globalism.  I’ve heard that the amenities are to die for and the cuisine is exquisite.  Besides, does anybody know how expensive Louis Vuitton baggage is?  You can’t take those to jail with you. 

I mean really!  Jesus was arrested and thrown into prison.  So, too, were Ss Peter and Paul.  If memory serves, they died as criminals.  There was only one Apostle who died in his sleep, the one who wrote the Apocalypse, after doing hard time on the island of Patmos for several years.  These bishops, on the other hand, are used to the finer things and jail is not their thing.

All is not lost, however.  In Luke: 18:8, Jesus asks this one question:  “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth”?  Because this is what we are talking about.  All this nonsense about preparing the antidoro tray as if it were a prettified hors d’oeurves dish at some hoity-toity party screams lack of faith. 

So, how screwed are we?  I believe Jesus was speaking, rhetorically.  Of course, He will find faith somewhere on the earth.  Especially, if He looks to Denver, where one bishop in the Patriarchate of Constantinople stood up and said “Enough!”  Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver basically tore up his own previous protocols* when he saw the damage that was being done by the other bishops with their tedious, turgid directives.  He heard the cries of the people of his diocese regarding the Eucharist.  And so, he repented.  Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Let us pray to God that many others will stand up and repent as well.

AXIOS!!! to His Eminence.  And Semper Fi!





  1. Philhellene says

    Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver last week sent out a 4-page-long list of rules to be followed in order for parishes to reopen – rules much stricter than anything in the other jurisdictions. Did something change? What happened? Out of the loop.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Yes, he stated in his final protocol (which was released on Saturday, May 16th), there will be no rotating metal spoons (my locution) and people don’t have to jerk their heads back to have the Eucharist dropped into their mouths. They could receive it just like they always had. Here’s the link: May_20_16_Coronovirus.pdf

      The operative paragraph is the fifth: “Therefore, my instruction is that the reception of Holy Communion by the faithful continue in the normal manner. I acknowledge that my two differing directives in this regard could create confusion, and for that I am sorry.” (Italics mine.)

      • Hi, George , 

        You wrote: 

        “Here’s the link:  May_20_16_Coronovirus.pdf” 

         but that’s not a live link.  It doesn’t go to the Metropolitan’s revised protocol.   Would you please repost the link ? 

    • Hieromonk Philip (Vreeland) says

      I am surprised that no one caught the obvious error in the caption under the picture of Metropolitan Augustine & the German Catholic bishop.

      • Was Metropolitan Augustine not involved in an ecumenical ‘renewal of baptismal vows’ with RCs, Calvinists, and Lutherans in Germany?
        I think he did, and so do these photos: https://www.omologitis.org/?p=1915
        He is an apostate.

        • Hieromonk Philip (Vreeland) says

          That’s not what the caption says.  It says that Metropolitan Augustine was baptized by the German bishop.  What is pictured is not the way Roman Catholics perform their sacrament of Baptism.  Sorry about that.  And that’s not the caption of the picture shown in the article you referenced.  Sorry about that, too.  The obvious error is in the wording.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Father, the caption came with the picture from the blogsot listed below. It doesn’t say Metropolitan Augustine was baptized by the German bishop. It says Metropolitan Augustin was being “ceremonially baptised” which, as I understand it, means he was being anointed.

            It is odd to see a RC bishop making the sign of the cross on the forehead of an Orthodox metropolitan. I don’t know how RC’s anoint others, but that’s what it looks like.

            I thought perhaps you might be referring to the caption in the article Basil provided but that just has his title.

            There is no reference to a baptism in the blog’s caption, as you are correct, nothing in the picture suggests that. What it DOES suggest, and I think the picture and the caption portray this very well is this: Our clergy should not be receiving blessings from, serving with or even praying with clergy in the Roman Catholic Church . . . or so the Church teaches. An that’s what’s happening here. I think that was the true point of all this. In other words, why was he allowing this RC bishop do whatever he was doing?

            More and more often, we are seeing pictures like this coming out of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is concerning given that its patriarch, Bartholomew, is telling the world he represents and speaks for the Orthodox Faith. We know this isn’t true. However, the rest of the world doesn’t. These pictures, coupled with Bartholomew’s message that he heads the “Mother Church” have become “teaching.” Through his actions and those of the members of his patriarchate, for which he is completely and wholly responsible, he is teaching the world that the RC and the Orthodox Church are united, not only in belief but in practice.

            I cannot believe someone, anyone, hasn’t brought him before some spiritual court for teaching heresy which he, of course, would ignore. But at least it would be evidence of the rest of the Church saying: “No, this is not the teaching of the Church. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is not the ‘Mother Church’ in the Orthodox world. (That distinction belongs to Jerusalem.) Bartholomew has a voice, but it is one voice, i.e. his. First among equals does not mean first without equal, as he routinely implies in everything he says and everything he does. By virtue of the position he has carved out for himself as speaking for the Church, he is teaching heresy when he suggests there is unity between the RC and ours or that he is the head of anything other than his own patriarchate.”


        • And did they all recite:
          “I do not believe in one baptism”?

  2. This might be a good time to submit another writing by Fr. Demetrios:

    Beloved Co-passengers of the Mystical Ship, our Holy Orthodox Church, heading for the Divine Harbor of Paradise,

    Christ is risen!

    Tonight, with the help of St. Gregory Palamas, we will share the call of the Prophet Isaias as he himself described it. It is my prayer that it will provide us with clarification regarding the reception of Holy Communion — whether there can be present the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, or any other virus or deadly disease:

    “And there was sent to me one of the Seraphim, and he had in his hand a coal, which he had taken off the Altar with the tongs. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips and will take away your iniquities, and will cleanse away your sins.’” [Is. 6:6-7]

    In his analysis of this passage, St. Gregory focuses on the tongs – used by the Seraphim to remove the divine coal from the heavenly Altar – as being a prefiguration of our Most Beloved Panaghia.

    “Isaiah shows us clearly that it is only through her [Panaghia] that they [the bodiless powers], together with us, both partake of and touch God — that Nature which defies touch. For he did not see the Seraphim take the coal from the altar without mediation, but with tongs, by means of which the coal touched the prophetic lips and purified them (cf. Isaiah 6:6-7). Moses beheld the tongs of that great vision of Isaiah when he saw the bush aflame with fire, yet unconsumed. And who does not know that the Virgin Mother is that very bush and those very tongs, she, who herself … conceived, without being consumed, the divine Fire — Him that taketh away the sins of the world, Who – through her – touched mankind; and by that ineffable touch and union cleansed us entirely.”


    My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, when you and I receive the “divine Fire” of the Godhead through Holy Communion, is it not safe to believe that the tongs have now become the holy Spoon — that as the tongs prefigured our Panaghia for the Prophet Isaiah, now the holy Spoon mystically symbolizes the Panaghia, through whom we are touched by the Fire of the Godhead, without being consumed, “and by that ineffable touch and union cleansed us entirely” ?

    After the priest receives Holy Communion, he repeats the words that the Seraphim said to the Prophet as he placed the fiery coal on his lips. When I return into the Holy Altar, after having had the sacred honor to place the divine Fire into the mouths of the faithful with the mystical tongs, I say silently, in behalf of those that have received: “Behold, this has touched your lips and will take away your iniquities, and will cleanse away your sins.’

    May God increase our faith in Him, so that we always approach the holy Chalice only fearing Him — nothing else.

    Truly He is risen!
    Unworthy priest, Demetrios

  3. Anyone want to bet on when they’ll start recommending to just place the Holy Communion into little plastic ramikins that they will then distribute to parishioners using salad tongs, while wearing sterile gloves of course?

    Of course, the little plastic ramikins will then be burnt, much to Greta Thunberg’s dismay.

    According to the Archdiocesan directive, “faithful” are to share the holy meal, then leave the building immediately. How impersonal. How transactional. Not at all according to Christ or to Christian tradition. Would you go to someone’s house for dinner, is it recommended to inhale their food quickly, then just bolt?

    Thank God for Metropolitan Isaiah, but he is among the most elderly bishops in the Patr of Constantinople. A true man, and a true Bishop. But he is an anomaly in C’ple. With your photo above of Metropolitan Augustine of Germany ceremoniously being baptised by a Roman Catholic bishop, C’ple is well along its path toward Eastern Rite Catholicism. Catholic clergy celebrate the eucharist regularly without any faithful present, so these directives for the clergy to celebrate without any faithful present are no big deal to those steeped in the Roman tradition.

    If you boil the frog slowly in the water, it hardly notices that it’s being boiled. I’m sure this is the concept the C’ple episcopate are counting on as they slowly but surely take their faithful to Eastern Rite Catholicism. Most will never know. Wonder how many will care.

  4. Jacob George Lee says

    Yes, we just moved to Houston 10 days ago. We went to the Greek Cathedral and took communion on Sunday! Only real change was families sitting 6ft apart. We did not have to register, sign wavier, where gloves or masks. It felt good to be normal.

  5. Can you expand on what Met. Isaiah has changed in his protocols? I had heard about the first notices to the parish regarding changing how communion is received and I was very disappointed. I’m hoping to have reason to restore some of the great respect I have for Met. Isaiah. 

    • George Michalopulos says

      Sarah, at this point, I don’t care.  Just that he did change his mind is good enough for me.

    • Jacob Lee says

      I believe it was face masks and all kinds of other silly security theater items. I went to an Antiochian Church and they had face shields on ushers and bread in bags, temp checks. Lots of Security theater. A usher yelled at my family for standing too close each other. The Greeks in the Denver metropolis are winning this round.

    • Fr Brendan Pelphrey says

      He changed the directive for the Eucharist to be dropped into the open mouth of the communicant, as directed by the Archdiocese (and that if the spoon touched to communicant—I suppose meaning if it changed against teeth—the spoon was to be replaced). He directed his priests to give communion “in the normal manner.” The background is his encyclical directive from several years ago that the faithful should close their mouths around the spoon, lest we decide that communion is frightening every time there is a flu outbreak, or other infection going around. His reasoning in part is that soon, people will demand their own private communion, or bring a plastic spoon, or their own cup, Protestant-style. 

  6. George,
    In your article you say that Metropolitan Isaiah “basically tore up his own previous protocols”— leaving me to wonder what, if anything, he did after that. Given the leeway he has under a GOA sanctioned directive to act independently on policy and Praxis during the pandemic, his decisions are relevant to your story. Am I missing something here, or are you assuming I already know?

  7. Metropolitan Augustinos presided over the enthronment of Archbishop Elpidophoros at Holy Trinity Cathedral in NYC a year ago.

  8. The worst offenders may be GOA, but here is what the OCA parish in town is demanding courtesy of its bishop:

    These are the requirements for safe attendance at church services:- Wash your hands upon entering the church.- Refrain from kissing icons and the priest’s hand.- Facemasks are required for everyone 8 yrs and older. Until the church acquires facemasks, you will need to bring your own. Here’s a link that shows you how to make one.- Maintain social distancing at all times including while waiting to enter the church (the designated greeter will tell  you when you can come in and will be explaining procedures),  the restrooms (only one family at a time in the restrooms) and communion line. If you have young children make sure they will be able to practice social distancing.- Open your mouth wide at communion and the priest will place the holy gifts in your mouth without you touching the spoon.- Do not wipe your mouth with the cloth or venerate the chalice.

    So the disease of non-belief is, sadly, quite widespread

    • George Michalopulos says


      Personally, I have a feeling (or hope?) that these strictures will not last much longer.  Or those churches which practice them will wither in time.

      P.S. what diocese of the OCA is the church of which you speak?

    • My OCA parish isn’t doing all of this stuff. We are being told that you can venerate and kiss icons, but if you don’t feel safe, then just cross yourself and make bow. As for Holy Communion, we get it from the spoon, wipe our mouths then move on—and we don’t have to leave church right away. Social distancing is strongly encouraged, though masks aren’t required. (But you can wear one if it makes you feel safer.) We also are kindly requested to help wipe things down after services end. We’re also allowed to have up to 10 people attend per service, which is a big increase from just until recently. So, it’s not all doom and gloom everywhere. (Glory be to God for all things!)

      • Pat Reardon says

        Driven to anxiety by very nervous decrees from high places, my parishioners asked if they might kiss the icons.
        I explained to them that the preferred veneration of icons, according to the most ancient and reliable sources, is the “elbow bump.”
        Best sentiments to all of you from the People’s Republic of Chicago, which has recently revoked the Edict of Milan.

        • Thanks, Fr. Patrick! Just as long as the elbow bump is done in all sincerity—followed quickly by the Jesus prayer! (Go Cubs!)

  9. Here are the new directives for opening the Church as set forth by Mikhail. Any Hierarchs who are reading this can feel free to use them.  : )
    Covid-19 directives for the Holy Orthodox Church
    Holy Communion
    The Eucharist is the very Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is for the healing of both soul and body. It does not carry disease.
    The Communion spoon
    The Most Holy Theotokos carried Jesus Christ in her womb.  The Communion spoon holds the Holy Eucharist and symbolizes our Panaghia. It does not carry disease.
    The holy Icons
    Icons are imbued with Divine grace. Some of them stream holy myrrh.  Many Icons have been responsible for the miraculous healing of terrible ailments.  It is okay to touch and kiss them. They do not carry disease.
    The priest’s hand cross
    The Holy Cross is the sign of Christ’s victory over sin and death.  It is okay to kiss it.  It does not carry disease.
    The priest’s hand
    Your priest is an Icon of Christ Himself and he consecrates the Holy Eucharist. You may kiss his hand. It does not carry disease.
    Antidoran (“instead of the Gifts”) is blessed bread and should be handled carefully so that no particles fall to the ground.  It is considered sacred because the Lamb taken out of it, was consecrated and became the Body of Christ.  It does not carry disease.
    The people
    The people of God gather together to worship him in truth and love. They are sanctified with divine grace. Everything in the holy Temple is sanctified with divine grace.  There is no need to vandalize the Church by placing social distance markers on the floor.  There is no need to cover your face with a mask like a thief in the night.  There is no need for the priest to wear a face shield during Holy Communion.  Even the dust that gathers on the floor in the corner of the Church is sanctified.  St Gabriel the Fool for Christ of Georgia tells us:  “If you knew how much grace and blessing comes in the Divine Liturgy, you would even gather up the dust from the ground of the Temple and wash your faces with it.”
    After leaving the Church
    When you leave the Church and enter the world again, you may follow the Covid-19 directives of the civil authorities of your state.  Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. (Mark 12:17)

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I like it!

    • Sorry, Mikhail, too much common sense.

    • Bravo!

    • Finally, a reality based response to covid.  Well done.

    • 🙂

    • I cannot, for the life of me, grasp why it is so difficult for an Orthodox bishop to issue common-sense guidance like this.  
      Fr Peter Heers is correct — humanist rationalism is so widespread in our Orthodox parishes and dioceses in the West, that we don’t even recognize it anymore.

    • Pat Reardon says

      Good show, Mikhail

    • Thomas Barker says

      Thank you for sharing a beautiful expression of faith that dispels fear.

    • Matthew Panchisin says

      A few months ago the CDC was saying the virus spreads easily by touching things as it is highly contagious. Today we hear, “(CDC) now says the novel virus “does not spread easily” from “touching surfaces or objects”

      Wearing a face mask used to be bad now they are mandatory or you could be fined. Much more could be said.

      So many very good Priests can’t say anything like that Mikhail, it would be seen as ecclesiastical disobedience to the bishop while the Priests are being obedient to Christ and the ways of His Church that they know so well. Your “directives” I find especially beautiful considering your names sake.

      Thank you Mikhail for reminding the Bishops about what Christ’s Church has always done and why. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

      • Thank you, Matthew. My heart aches for all those good priests who are suffering under the oppressive mandates of their Bishops. I am going to light candles for them at every Liturgy.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mikhail, you really need to blog more!  I love your sense of humor!

  10. https://domoca.org/clarification-on-directives-related-to-face-masks/ more from the OCA diocese of the Midwest. Apparently the services are too long for social distancing to be “effective.”  
    The OCA website posted a missive about the dangers of choirs: https://www.oca.org/reflections/misc-authors/what-covid-19-means-for-singing-in-church
    I pray at that the next synod meeting, one of the hierarchs stands up and says enough. 

    • The cowardly words of betrayal that were written by Bishop Paul, made me sick to my stomach. He might as well put everyone in haz mat suits with supplied oxygen, and let the governors celebrate the Liturgy.

  11. George Michalopulos says

    Meanwhile, the RC Archbishop of Wisconsin and six of the local bishops told Gov Gretchen Busybody to “shove it” (I paraphrase), while some bishops are directing their priests to serve hors d’eourvs trays:


  12. Metropolitan Isaiah is my Bishop. He has allowed our Churches to open.
    One would think the priests of the three Churches  of Salt Lake County would be very eager to serve liturgy last Sunday, after over two months of closure. Nope! Seems they need two to three weeks until the first liturgy.
    Keep in mind in Utah everything has been open for a week. Including restaurants. 
    Yet, for some reason, after slightly over two months of waiting for the “permission” to re-open our Churches, they have no pre-planned plan to open right away? I hope other Churches under Metropolitan Isaiah were more eager and prepared than my local Churches and priests were. 

    • George Michalopulos says

      Dino, in this case, the sin of infidelity is on the priests, not their bishop.  He (God bless him!) has given permission for the rectors to worship openly.  

      • I gave some thought to calling or sending an email to my priest, but then thought what’s the point. Nothing will change, except his attitude towards me, and maybe even my family circle. So why bother? We have a Church to build and I am more committed to that, than ruffling feathers.

        On a different note. Since Trump has been elected, eyes have been opened to the corrupt political machine, and the medias one sided, driven agenda. More and more, stereotypes are no longer that, and cynicism is justified. AND. Now with this virus over reaction, BS opportunity to control. All is exposed, and clear. Our Constitutional rights are just words on a piece of paper. I will never see things in my country the same again. My view/faith in my country, my fellow citizens, 95% of politicians, and my Church have diminished. Shocking how fast a nation can go from the strongest economic status it has ever seen , to complete economic depression overnight.

        A few men in DC snap their fingers, and in a blink of an eye we are socialist nation, under house arrest. In some state their power drunk governors, bordering on totalitarian fascism. Locked in our homes with out a peep, sheeple, until lately groans begin for normal gone forever. Maybe soon, some vision, forced vaccinations.

        Alan Dershovitz, a scholar of American Constitutional Law, and a very leftist liberal, has lately stated our government has the right, and should force us to vaccinate, even if we need to be arrested, held down, and poked! Imagine that in modern America!Hell, I can no longer hold a grudge toward the German people who did not put up a struggle against Hitler, as I have witnessed how fast fear controls the masses to blindly follow, and obey their government.

        So now back to, does one speak up, in regards to Church re-opening. Is there a point? Does it matter? Do they even care? How long do we blindly follow, and remain silent towards our priests and bishops who should know better. Lately their track record is not doing so well, whether it be humility, financial, logical, or most import, faith/trust in God’s Body and Blood. For now I will work on my own faith(lack of it?)

        Will speaking up, and/or resisting make us the new patriot, martyr, or Judas?

    • What an embarrassment.
      What could they possibly need three more weeks for?

      • “What could they possibly need three more weeks for?”

        The hazmat suits they purchased are in short supply, still on backorder and won’t be delivered for another three weeks.    Also , instead of censing with incense they’ll be using a germicidal fogger. (also hard to get and on backorder).