Ancient Faith Radio: Correcting a Canonical Anomaly

ancient-faith-presentsI guess the question for me is, is the glass half-full or half-empty? Please take the time to listen to this wonderful interview conducted by Ancient Faith Radio. The interviewee is Protodeacon Peter Danilchick. He’s been doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the committee tasked with correcting the highly irregular diocesan boundaries so he deserves a listen.

Correcting a Canonical Anomaly

Source: Ancient Faith Radio

One Bishop per city or region is what the canons call for. Yet, here in North America we have multiple Bishops in one location. The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops are working to correct that and today we speak with Proto-Deacon Peter Danilchick who is the liaison for the Canonical Regional Planning Committee. Learn about the importance of this task and how long it will take to get it done.

For more information on this issue, we refer to you our documentary section – Unravelling Chambesy.



  1. I was there says

    When was this talk on Ancient Faith Radio? Here is the (in three parts for recording purposes) lecture he gave at the 25th Anniversary of the OCL in Washington, D.C.

    • Met. Jonah on Orthodox Unity in America

      • Mike Myers says

        and…says, when did this talk happen?

        • It is in the description on the video:

          Published on Mar 10, 2012
          In March 2012, his Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah spoke at Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Linthicum, MD on the topic of Orthodox unity in America.

          For the talk show that George posted, I could not find out the when.

      • Thomas Jones says

        + Jonah makes way too much of languages and ethnic traditions. Everyone understands English. In fact, if you go to Greece, Russia, the Mideast, etc., they all understand English. Understanding ethnic particularities is no big deal. Any priest or bishop should be able to serve a Greek parish, Russian parish, etc. interchangeably. The real problem is that the Greeks insist on controlling any and all unity with themselves in authority. Why? America needs to decide it’s own destiny with it’s own bishops. No need for Moscow, Damascus, Istanbul or any other outsiders. It really is past time for the American Orthodox to take control of their own churches and lead.

      • Thomas Jones says

        + Jonah makes way too much of languages and ethnic traditions. Everyone understands English. In fact, if you go to Greece, Russia, the Mideast, etc., they all understand English. Understanding ethnic particularities is no big deal. Any priest or bishop should be able to serve a Greek parish, Russian parish, etc. interchangeably. The real problem is that the Greeks insist on controlling any and all unity with themselves in authority. Why? America needs to decide it’s own destiny with it’s own bishops. No need for Moscow, Damascus, Istanbul or any other outsiders. It really is past time for the American Orthodox to take control of their own churches and lead.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Mr. Jones:

          America needs to decide it’s own destiny with it’s own bishops

          Having bought into this particular Kool-Aid in the past and seeing the effect it had on my soul, I recanted.

          Even your own statement is logically inconsistent: “Any priest or bishop should be able to serve…interchangeably.”

          Bishops belong to God not to us. They struggle with the same temptations to settle for less that the rest of us have and even worse I suspect.

          I want Godly bishops. Since bishops are not dropped down from heaven, it follows that if our bishops are not Godly, it is likely because we are not Godly.

          • DC Indexman says

            I think you have hit the bulls eye on this one. I find myself agreeing with you.

  2. There are several things to keep in the back of your mind when thinking about this issue. One is that the Assembly is a toothless tiger which was never intended for any function other than moving sideways pretending that some type of progress is being made. Nothing has, is or will come of it.

    Two is that many of us do not want canonical regularity regarding diocesan boundaries in the American church. Many, like myself, want the more traditional eparchies to pursue their efforts and growth and evangelism separately from any blended hierarchy that would spread modernism, ecumenism and secularization. Let the experiment continue and see where tradition-minded churches are in a hundred years as opposed to Americanist churches.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      I think that there is much to be said for this point of view. There is a reflexive and repetitive mantra about the “non-canonical” situation in North America. But maybe there is more to it.

      Perhaps God has his own purposes. As Misha says, this may be something of an inoculation against modernism in the church. A speculation, necessarily, but one does wonder.

      In any event, the canons never contemplated the North American situation; multiple strands of Orthodox immigration into a non-Orthodox Christian society, long established, rather than pagan territory as was the case long, long ago.

      Perhaps “checks and balances” aren’t out of place in the Apostolic Church.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I agree with both Misha and you. It is about time that we allow the people of North America (indeed in all so-called lands of the diaspora) to vote with their feet and wallets. I think that in such a scenario, the native church will eventually become the dominant one and acknowledged as the local church.

        • Dear Carlos,

          We already can vote with our feet. But by making it a contest, we can insure that the most lukewarm wins and we’ll have what beauty queen are – a followed script, a predictable look and talk, not too hot, not too cold, just acceptable enough, nothing to get too excited about. A careful church, not one to nudge the Protestants, not one to get rid of Roman Cahtolic translations and practices, not one to challenge the cradles or converts into examining themselves, not one to turn away a cohabiting couple, a general confession of a church

          • Carl Kraeff says

            On the contrary, Yo–The churches that are growing are not the lukewarm ones, but the ones who demand real discipleship of their followers. It is certainly true that lukewarm churches attract lukewarm Christians but they are not growing, indeed in many cases they are shrinking.

            • Pere LaChaise says

              Carl, I agree. Ethnic churches which are by nature largely not Christian in concept but rather kaffeeklatsch mutual-appreciation society type affairs, are dying while much more actively conservative parishes are growing. But countervailing, the US-sponsored (or at least unopposed) destruction of Middle Eastern Christian societies is leading to a new immigration re-ethicizing churches rooted there. Ask and Syriac, Coptic or Arabic priest.
              If the geopolitical rise of Russia due to high oil prices continues, we may see Russians here repatriating even as America declines into a semi-feudal corporatocracy, with no middle class.
              The destruction of America’s middle class is the 500 lb. gorilla in the room that no one dare mention. But anyone with a semester of sociology should know the churches in America are a middle-class institution. Lacking patronage from the rich or support from the state, each parish relies on the wealth of middle class parishioners. We are already seeing the collapse of many communities here.
              As usual, there are too many things going on at once to draw a clear picture that allows prediction of a future scenario. But more than likely, any surviving Orthodoxy done in English in this country will be more engaged, less bland and present more of an alternative to the mainstream’s corporate-oriented pseudo-permissive police state.

              • Pere,

                Language here in America means nothing as far as the passing on of the Orthodox Faith. The single most important determinant is whether the Faith is actively lived in the home, from Monday to Saturday as it were. If our children see us doing one thing on Sunday and living a contrary life the rest of the time, they are not stupid and will make their own judgements REGARDLESS of language.

                The OCA has been that English language bastion here yet it continues to shrink in numbers. To conclude as you say “But more than likely, any surviving Orthodoxy done in English in this country will be more engaged, less bland and present more of an alternative to the mainstream’s corporate-oriented pseudo-permissive police state.” is just too simplistic to be believed.

                The numbers don’t lie, especially when it comes to the OCA. They have hung their hat on this idea of being an “American” Church. There is no such thing as of today. Can there truly be one in the future? Of course but it won’t be what the OCA vision has been. Yes, it can be a part, but not the whole. The whole will be the best and truest of each Orthodox seed planted here and it will only grow and prosper if we live it as an authentic expression of who we are. To do less will mean less and less is lukewarm.

                • Pere LaChaise says

                  Yes, the OCA has pretty much used up its initial impetus and the ‘American moment’ seems to have passed. In the future we will be confronted by the whole world all the time except in out-of-the-way places.
                  Why is it simplistic to say that for any ministry to survive it must engage and inspire and offer a compelling vision of life that engages healthy rigor and joyful freedom, which is so lacking in mass culture? That is no pipe dream. It’s why I joined the Church.

                  • Pere,

                    You make good general statements which, in theory we can agree, but in the specifics and the history of Orthodoxy in this land one must not ignore.

                    It is, as it has always been, the role of the Church, as you say, “engage and inspire and offer a compelling vision of life that engages healthy rigor and joyful freedom, which is so lacking in mass culture…” yet, in the specifics, the OCA has not done so to the degree that its’ American moment” has been squandered. Now the OCA is in the hands of those who were taught by her visionaries but they lack the skill and the inspiration to not just talk the talk but walk the walk. They have rather settled on a path which stifles that “healthy rigor and joyful freedom” which has led them to the sidelines.

                    In theory who better to open wide the windows of this engagement but the so-called “local church?” Free from the foreign “boggy men” what excuse can they give for missing the mark? Who better than this “local church” yet they are not healthy enough to raise up men to fill their own episcopal ranks? They have had to look to other Orthodox churches here to fill the void and sadly ignored their own history and raised a man to the rank of bishop who was barred from that office for over 25 years? Then they prance him around Russia because he has a Russian lineage as if that is going to impress their Mother Church.

                    It has become a sad legacy but one can hope it can get better, but it won’t be as an OCA pipe-dream but as a result of all Orthodox working together to plant a truly Local Church here. Humility, something sorely lacking these days in the OCA I believe must be the new path of this jurisdiction. No more OCA triumphalism, no more thinking they have the answer but many generations of cooperation with others taking the lead and the OCA following.

                    You joined the Church for the right reasons, it is sad that the OCA has not lived up to its mandate of 1970 but even more to the point its mandate in 1794.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Misha both are assumptions on your part. Perhaps valid, but certainly leave a lot out of consideration.

  3. Peter Bankus says

    It is important to note that first off, Dn. Peter has no theological education; not Orthodox or other. He is not a canon law expert, but a good Orthodox Christian who wishes to see Orthodox unity. In his secular position working all over the world, he has served as a deacon under Pat. Bartholomew in foreign countries, but is a deacon in the Orthodox Church in America. Dn. Peter clearly believes in the rhetoric and vision of Orthodox unity as outlined by Pat. Bartholomew.

    So, what is wrong with Pat. Bartholomew’s vision? It is based also on a non-canonical structure that sets up Pat. Bartholomew as an Eastern Pope. The Episcopal Assembly in the United States, formally SCOBA, is a Greek invention that puts all Greek bishops in control. Examining the written structure of the Assembly, one finds that no matter what the Episcopal Assembly decides, their decisions must be reviewed, examined and even vetoed by Pat. Bartholomew.

    The Episcopal Assemblies, being established all over the world, are to have their decisions submitted to the “All Holy Great Council” where every country will have their concerns ironed out and decided. Between now and this Great Council, the Episcopal Assemblies are set up to be run by bishops according to the Diptychs. The Diptychs set up Pat. Bartholomew, first among equals and his bishops, as the leaders of all the Episcopal Assemblies.

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is trading one non-canonical situation for another. The truth, according to Orthodox Canon Law, states that Local Churches in any territory are under the control of Local Bishops. Canon law also is clear that foreign bishops have no authority outside of their own local territory. Therefore, in the United States, no patriarch or foreign bishop has any authority here. Yet, after the Russian Revolution 1915-1917, all the other patriarchs decided to grab and claim territory in America. Therefore, the Greek Archdiocese in America, the Antiochian Archdiocese in America, etc. Many different bishops in same cities taking care of their own ethnic flocks.

    How should this be remedied? Certainly not by having everyone put themselves under Pat. Bartholomew. Nor Moscow or any other foreign bishop as canon law dictates. The answer has already been given to North America in an autocephalous Orthodox Church where all bishops should join and administer their own flocks and elect their own leader.

    This is what SCOBA outlined in 1961 and became a reality in 1970 with the creation of the Orthodox Church in America. Many ethnic bishops joined the OCA; the Romanians, Albanians, Bulgarians, etc. This exactly what the bishops decided they would do in the early days of SCOBA. However, the Greeks and Antiochians reneged.

    So, today we have the Greeks putting forth their own plan for Orthodox unity based on the non-canonical idea that everyone should be under Pat. Bartholomew. Yep, this is going to happen. Just the same way a Great and Holy Council will happen with all the world’s Orthodox bishops. If such a council did take place, it would be Greek engineered and Greek controlled and the end results would probably be non-canonical anyway.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Are we going to trust God or man? Every Council of the Church has involved distinct political problems that at times seemed to out weigh the truth.

      Trouble is it is difficult to know in the midst of it all. If we are unwilling or unable to trust God in our bishops, that will lead us into schism or out of the Church altogether.

      I am weary of the boiling of bishops in the town square by people who are not bishops. It does no good. It just stirs up a state of fear–the opposite of that to which we are called.

      Are we the Church or are we usurpers?

      • Michael,

        I’m happy to trust in God. What great heresy are we seeking to defeat through the means of a Great and Holy Synod? What great theological or doctrinal question are we resolving? Ecumenism? The Calendar Question? Fat chance. Is there some dispute over what the canons require regarding the eparchial structure? Don’t think so. What we have is a dispute over whose omophorion the Church in America, and other places, should be under.

        There are no easy answers to that one either. Russia seems to have sacrificed its claim to America as its canonical territory through its granting of autocephaly to the Metropolia (now the OCA). Nonetheless, it has Patriarchal parishes as well as ROCOR in North America.

        The Fanar would claim America under Canon 28 of the IV Ecumenical Council, but this is a fanciful non-starter based on its arrogance and pretensions to Eastern Papacy. The Slavs and Antioch have rejected this out of hand.

        The OCA would claim America under its Tome of Autocephaly, but the creation of the “autocephalous” OCA was irregular to say the least and this autocephaly is not recognized by any Church not part of the Eastern bloc during the Cold War. This is because the Church of Russia was run by and for the benefit of the KGB at the time autocephaly was granted. The ROC was regularly communing Catholics at the time and, essentially, received the Church of Japan as a trade for a Tomos for a church with which it had not even been in communion for decades.

        Imagine the effect of Greek leadership on the practices of ROCOR and the Serbian Church here. I’d rather not. Let’s dispense with all the crap and give the God pleasing churches time to flourish and occupy the field and the dead weight time to die on the vine. That’s God at work, not some political council without a theological or doctrinal impetus for their gathering.

        Don’t just do something, stand there! Or better yet, “Be still and know that I am God.”

        • George Michalopulos says

          I think you hit the nail on the head. What I see in the ACOB and all its particulars is a complete lack of faith. This carping on “sensitivity” and “unanimity” is bogus. They’re just code words for inactivity and lack of love on all our parts.

          Dn Danilchick is correct when he quotes our Lord in His High Priestly Prayer re unity and love. The fact that he has to quote Scripture means we have already failed and are in the process of failing.

          • Michael Bauman says

            What comes across to me with the constant carping is that ALL of our bishops are weak, compromised men who have no desire to do the will of God for the good of the Church. The mind of the world controls everything and there is no possibility of any good coming out of anything the bishops do. In fact, we’d be better off without them. Such dysentery does not promote actual communication, it actually hardens hearts.

            I know one bishop, I know him well. I trust him because he has demonstrated time and time again a heart for God and the pastoral care of God’s people. I have never known him to lie to me or sugar coat anything. In fact he has shown great firmness, in love, in many situations and those are only the one’s of which I am aware. I see his obedience and hope in the midst of his frustrations and I have to deeply question myself.

            It is seriously beyond my comprehension to imagine that there are not more such men in the episcopate. It is even more beyond my belief that if we are who we say we are, that the Holy Spirit will not find a way no matter what (prophecies of great apostasy not withstanding.)

            As to the great heresy we are fighting: the defacto schism under which we operate.

            One thing I do know, carping on the internet won’t have half the useful effect of actually communicating with your bishop in ways the promote solutions with out condemnation.

            • Alexander says

              Ahh, yes, the “Man-Who Statistic.” The MWS stands for the proposition that “I know a man (or group of them) who is an exception to your generalization so therefore your generalization is false.”

              I doubt seriously people believe that “ALL bishops are weak, compromised men who have no desire to do the will of God for the good of the Church.”

              Instead, the problem is that far too many of them are far too weak and grossly compromised men. So, the acts and omissions of those that are weak and compromised suggest a decided disinterest in doing the will of God for the good of the Church.

              And, you’re right: carping on the internet doesn’t do much, and in some ways is counterproductive to sorting out our own salvation. No one advocates elimination of the office of the episcopacy. But, the “carping” expresses the self-evident need for the episcopacy to be cleaned up — that whole road to hell paved with the skulls of bishops thing.

              We are in our 21st century of trying to clean it — and therefore ourselves — up, although these days we seem to have better brooms and more potent disinfectants. It makes no difference whether they are cleaned up by their peers or by others so long as the rotting apples go away.

              Few people of good will and good faith have the opportunity to speak with their bishop — weak, compromised, with “a heart for God and the pastoral care of God’s people,” or otherwise. And when they do have that chance, some are inspired and comforted, others are even more disappointed and disillusioned.

              But, a half century of experience and exposure to more bishops than I care to recall — an admittedly flawed MWS in and of itself — reveals to me that there are far more are weak and compromised bishops than those that meet St. Timothy’s pretty basic job description.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Well, Alexander my bishop and my brother’s bishop are the only one’s I know. They are loving, pastoral men (that’s 2).

                And there are those who come close to wanting to do without bishops.

                I know how blessed I am. I also tend to believe where there is one there is a good chance there are more.

                I choose to be grateful for the goodness I know.

                • Alexander says


                  You and your brother are blessed indeed.

                  As to the OCA and the Greek Archdiocese, res ipsa loquitur.

                  If you have not done so already, pay a visit to for a glimpse into a barrel of rotten, fectid apples. Pokrov chronicles not only episcopal criminals and diviants, but priests, deacons and monastics as well.

                  Scandals abound in the Serbian Church — in North America and in Europe — with war criminals, financial improprieties, ethical lapses, and of course, sex scandals of all nauseous varieties that exploit men, women and children of all ages. The broom the SOC uses sweeps all under the rug.

                  The primate of the Czech Church, Metropolitan Christopher, was recently busted with having shadow family. At least they did the right thing and canned his keister in short order.

                  It bears repeating: those few bishops who are not compromised must speak out and act against the plague of those who are so obviously and clearly compromised.

                  In the end, consider yourself lucky not to be stuck with a diocesan bishop who cohabitates with his deputy.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Alexander, my brother and I are blessed. I just wandered into an Orthodox Church in my hometown one day and ended up being received there. The parish was toxic, the priest was well, barely functional and the bishop at the time was His Grace Bishop Antoun. A young priest came to town a couple of years a later and was installed at the parish a few blocks away, Fr. Basil Essey. The toxicity of the parish in which I was originally received came to such a head we transferred to St. George, now across town right after Fr. Basil was elevated to Bishop and was assigned to LA.

                    A couple of years later, Met. Philip came to town, declared St. George the Cathedral and sent Bp. Basil back to us. In the meantime, Fr. Paul O’Callahan came to town from San Diego, landing in the middle of an ice storm just in time to do Theophany house blessings in the middle of a Plains winter. He has been here ever since. He is a fine priest.

                    I’m blessed to have him and the tremendous assistants who have come through as part of their training, most of home now have their own parishes. Knowing them, any parish they serve is blessed to have them. A fine young priest, a son of St. George, who has been serving in the OCA in Fairbanks, Alaska is coming home to take over a small parish in a small town nearby. That’s kind of how it works, blessings are all over.

                    And here’s the rub. No where is it required that one continue under a compromised bishop as a lay person. at least not in the U.S. If living under such a bishop is burdensome to you and your salvation, there are options. You’ve ruled out the OCA, the GOA, Serbs, and a couple of others.

                    Personally, going down with the ship has never seemed to me a good option when there is a good life boat nearby.

                    Between ROCOR, Patriarchal Bulgarian, Antioch and ACROD there ought to be a healthy parish near you who has at least a competent bishop. Unless you really believe that there are only two and my family has the corner on the market.

                    One thing the EA website is really good for is finding parishes. Pretty good searchable data base.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Misha, I don’t expect “American Autocephally” whatever that red-herring actually is to come out of the EA. Frankly, I rather expect it will eventually lead to a real schism with those who wish to go secular being recognized and those who want to remain Orthodox recognizing each other as well. That is a good thing to know if a horrible thing to happen.

                      I also know that as good as my bishop is, he is bedeviled by sin and the challenge of the secular world to an even greater extent that most of us because he is a bishop. That is a tough thing. I pray for him. He could fall, God forbid.

                      The de-facto schism to which I was referring was the belief that the secular and the Traditional can co-exist and the Church serve two masters.

                      I trust God to fulfill His promise that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church and even if there are only two who continue to gather in His name, that is enough. I pray that I and my family will be part of that.

                      If things keep going as they are, we will be faced with the choice. Probably, we will be surprised by some of those choices.

                    • “The de-facto schism to which I was referring was the belief that the secular and the Traditional can co-exist and the Church serve two masters.”

                      Yes, Michael, that is a quasi-schism in a way. Two different Orthodoxies, only one legitimate. It’s happened in some Protestant denominations already. I expect it in the Orthodox Church here in America as well. I personally welcome it, but I’m eccentric.

            • It seems we are talking past one another. I don’t see the jurisdictional overlaps to be a problem but a blessing in disguise. I see no schism, defacto or otherwise. I have proof positive of this whenever I go to our sister churches and commune. It’s all a manufactured crises in pursuit of American autocephaly reminiscent of the “too late for autonomy” bs foisted forward by Schmemann, et al. in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Lighten up, we’re not making a western here. Efforts to create a crisis atmosphere have been completely ineffectual. Better to find another dead horse to beat.

              I’m sure there are good bishops out there. Yours may be one. But the equation “Good bishop = supporter of American autocephaly” is a false one. I repeat: At the present moment, it’s a bad idea, and a non-starter to boot. If you wish to be perpetually disappointed, persist in this quixotic quest. But the reasons against a unified American autocephalous church are better and more noble than the reasons in favor of one. Status quo = God separates the wheat from the chaffe. Unified American church = chaffe rules.

              It’s that simple.

              America is not the Church. It is one tiny, tiny little corner of the Church, maybe 1% of the population of America and 1% of the population of the Church. I would not impune the character of the bishops at large throughout the Church just because we have an anomalous situation here in America. America is not a high priority for the ROC. It is high for Constantinople and Antioch because they use America like an ATM. But the entire world of Greek-centered Orthodoxy – -for example the “ancient patriarchates” that recently met regarding the situation in the Middle East – – represent only 10% of world Orthodoxy at the most.

              Most Orthodox bishops in the US are beholden to Constantinople or Antioch. They have no intention of pursuing autocephaly ardently and insistently. Metropolitan Phillip successfully deposed the bishops under him, making them auxiliary bishops. Don’t deny it, it’s true. Constantinople runs a tight enough ship that most of its metropolitans are “company men” who simply tow the party line. Moreover, of all the jurisdictions in the US, the OCA seems to be having the roughest ride lately with the deposition of Met. Jonah by the mauve mafia, vacant sees, friction with Moscow, Constantinople, etc. Six months ago people I know in the OCA were wondering whether it was going to survive or not. That’s American autocephaly at the moment.

              I should say one more thing. During the public catfight between Met. Johah and his synod, Met. Ilarion flew over from Russia. What I heard regarding the meetings he had with both parties is that he had two essential messages: a) settle it, and b) outside of the public spotlight – – or else we will simply forget about your status as autocephalous.

              Transparency is no way to run a church. It’s like laws and sausages, you really don’t want to know exactly how either are made.

              • Trudge at SmartVote says


                You say that “Transparency is no way to run a church.”

                Then what are we to make of the Apostle Paul exposing the Apostle Peter’s hypocrisy to the whole Church?, “But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned.” (Galatians 2:11)

                Or why didn’t the Lord keep Peter’s denial a secret? Or when the Lord challenged Peter after his resurrection asking three times if he loved him, again bringing up Peter’s earlier denial, and warning him to “feed my sheep?” Yet Peter was the chief Apostle, essentially the Patriarch.

                What are we to make of this transparency that not one of us would want of our sins and failings? Yet the sins and failings of the Apostles are fully disclosed, sins that were committed after having been taught by the Son of Man himself, writ large in the Scriptures for all generations to see?

                • Your examples are non-sequiturs. That Paul challenged Peter to his face or that Christ rehabilitated Peter has nothing to do with the transparency of synodal operations whereby dirty laundry is aired in public and disagreements between bishops end up as public team sports. Were letters going out from Peter and Paul’s contentious meeting, during the dispute, to all the faithful? Were there pro-denial and anti-denial factions lined up on a papyrusphere someplace. No. Later, long after the fact the events were reported, inspired by the Holy Spirit, as sacred history.

                  The notion of transparency before the masses is a staple of democratic government, which never ever results in Christian social policy in the end. You might as well define church doctrine by the PAOI poll of Orthodox Americans which indicated that the masses want open communion and women priests. Good luck with that. The bishops are charged with running the Church. At most, the laity’s role is to accept or reject their doctrinal statements over time or to advise the bishops if asked to do so. The fad with transparency is a serious mistake – – trying to run the Church as if it were Ben and Jerry’s.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Misha, that may be so, but the fact that Paul publicly rebuked Peter means something. I think that’s its very possible that others witnessed this rebuke. Notwithstanding, the fact that it was published after the fact does not speak against the need for accountability and transparency. Indeed, it rather speaks to it as well. For one thing, it would have allowed Peter to give his side of the story.

                    • I’m quite content if Met. Jonah were to rebuke another bishop to his face, or if another bishop were to rebuke Met. Jonah to his face, or if an outside bishop (like Met. Ilarion of the ROC, for instance) were to rebuke all of them to their faces. Just do it in synod or in private, not on Jerry Springer. Later on the tale might be told in memoirs, histories, etc.

                      Your last line makes my point exactly. If the early Church were run like the OCA has been lately, there would have been Petrine and Pauline factions who never got anything settled. Instead, they settled it among themselves. Peter did not present his side of the story to the faithful at large in the name of transparency, sending letters to gather support for the Petrine position. At the end of the day, what matters is that it gets resolved quickly and gracefully and the only ones who can do that are the bishops in council. Let the bishops argue in synod just as Paul did with James, Peter, John and the rest of the delegation from Jerusalem, settle it, and move on. Otherwise, it’s a scandal to the faithful, “delegitimizing” the Church.

                  • Trudge at SmartVote says


                    What I really want is for us to consider the gem of the OCA encyclical dated Pascha 1989 “On Preaching” rather than my words. That is more worthy of our attention.

                    What is missing among us modern Orthodox is the substance of Christianity, the salt and the light. If we had that, the other things would come as we bear spiritual fruit. The encyclical is a clear means to that end.


                    The encyclical is an energetic plea for spiritual renewal and vision for how to preach the Gospel. It defines the proper place of the sermon and the qualities of good sermons in the life of the parish and in evangelism. It also tasks each Christian with the duty of preaching. It even addresses the use of electronic media and the need for the continuing education of priests for the preaching and the focus of their time and energy on this duty above all others.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Trudge: To quote Fr. Stephen Freeman from his blog:

                  The Church does not need transparency – it needs reality. If we do not become the gospel, then there is nothing to say. It is this reality that drives the importance of monasticism in Orthodoxy. Monasticism is, more than anything, the eschatological existence.

                  He does not mean by that hiding anything but the way to truth is to seek the truth and allow Him to find you.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Misha, haven’t seen a single difference in the day to day operation of the cathedral or the diocese since the “demotion”.

                Parishes continue to be added to the diocese; our parish family continues to grow and extend our activities in the community for evangelism, charity (the Treehouse for instance), etc. We have begun a new classical school which will eventually be K-12, but is now K-3. Our headmaster is experienced and energetic having run a similar school in San Francisco. Our catechesis programs are full and continue year round with able teaching from several lay members of the cathedral as well as our priests. Our cycle of services is growing with daily vespers served almost daily and special saints feast days celebrated mid-week. Our Divine Liturgies have gotten longer as we don’t skip as many of the Psalms as we used to. We have a fledgling monastery a bevy of fine chanters, a strong choir and a beautiful array of icons including several mosaic ones on the outside of the building. Fasting is taught and encouraged. Prayer and almsgiving widespread. Worship and repentance a never ending accompaniment. We have a well ordered and accountable parish council. Oh, and the best bookstore in the world: Eighth Day Books which has created a small Orthodox publisher, Eighth Day Press, and a foundation for promoting Orthodox belief through literary means.

                We are open and welcoming to new people and have a wide ethnic cross section: Arabs, Romanians, Greeks, Russians, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Native Americans, Afro-Americans, Anglo-Saxon, and a few I am probably missing. Oh and we have OMG PEWS! We also have an organ out of charity to the man, now reposed, who donated it. Its there, non-functional, but to honor his gift.

                Ah, the rest of the story……..not that long ago, before my time, but not long ago, we had a small parish that was at war with itself–competing Arab families each with their own chanter (first one there did the chanting), pretty closed to actual converts but who had suffered through a terrible priest who no one will talk about, because he drove many people away–some of which have not returned. We had an old, dysfunctional building with really bad icons and were best known in the larger community by the less than Christian activities of two parishioners: one who punched out a fellow city councilman during an official council meeting and who later was arrested for fraud in the running of his quality, home delivery meat franchise, the other who once refused to serve the Harlem Globetrotters at his restaurant one night (to be fair, his restaurant was right down town, it was quite late and he was alone in the place when this platoon of rather large black men came in together. Not surprisingly, he was a little frightened.

                The road to healing began with a convert parish priest who knew no Arabic, just English and German, became an alcoholic and years later divorced and left the priesthood. He stopped the chanter war by inserting a Greek man as chanter who couldn’t really carry a tune but had a thick skin, deep devotion and a working knowledge of Byzantine chant then used his alcoholism as a point of commonality by asking for the help of the entire parish.

                Fr. Basil picked-up where he left off. But here is the point: The people responded Misha. I firmly believe that we have His Grace Bishop Basil because the parish did a lot of heavy lifting to reconcile, heal and start becoming Orthodox. I walked into that. It began when we had an absentee bishop who nobody really liked. These were people who many of the ‘really Orthodox” folk would call nominalists.

                If that is the result of tyranny and demotion, I’ll have some thank you. Met Philip is coming this weekend to honor a long time parishioner who has devoted his life to the Church and his community and probably does not have much of it left in this world. If I get the chance, I’m going to ask his personal forgiveness for all of the unkind and vicious things I have thought about him and said in the past and honor him as a true bishop, albeit a flawed and sinful human being. I only know that in a similar circumstance, I would fair far worse.

                You know what? By God’s grace, similar things can happen anywhere. We are blessed, but we are not special and I am the least. Y’all come and visit some time. Orthros begins at 8:30, Divine Liturgy at 10. Confession is at 5PM almost every Saturday followed by 9th hour and Vespers.

                God forgive me.

                • Yes, God forgive you, Michael. If you listen to what Met. Phillip says about the relationship between a bishop and his diocese it is diametrically opposed to what you yourself want for an American church. He has said on the record that for a bishop to consider himself “married” to his diocese is tantamount to polygamy since he is “married” first and foremost to the archdiocese. The AOCNA is really one large diocese with Met. Phillip as the diocesan bishop and all other auxilliaries. Very papal.

                  None of my business though. Not my church, thank God. And one reason I oppose a unified church is the prospect of having such crap spread.

                  • Sorry Michael, I was a bit too abrupt re: the AOCNA as a whole.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Misha, while I don’t doubt what you say it is not as much that way in practice as it seems on paper. When Met Philip does repose it will be even less that way. As a group, I’d take our bishops over any other group.

                    They will be prepared and able to function as a true synod going forward which is also a part of Met. Philip’s legacy as everything else.

                    In 100 years looking back, Met Philip will fare rather better than most of his contemporaries.

                    Oh, when Archbishop Michael reposed several years ago, he, not Met. Philip was given the lion’s share of the credit for healing the Antiochian schism in The Word magizine which is not known for its independence from Met. Philip.

                    Met. Philip is a unique and multifaceted man. While I don’t particularly like him, I have no doubt he does his best to serve God first and has the fortitude to actually lead.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Michael, first of all, you must understand, your bishop is an American standout. Now that the Venerable Dmitri has gone to glory, he is the preeminent Orthodox evangelist in America, bar none. You are fortunate to be in his company.

              As for your other critiques –re our incessant “carping”–if our bishops are so “hardened” in their hearts because of the good-faith criticisms offered on this website (by a nobody such as myself), what do you think they are going to do when the going gets really rough? When the persecution starts? They’re going to cave like an avalanche.

              As for the idea that we should talk to our bishops face-to-face to tell them our concerns, for the majority of us that’s a non-starter as well. No GOA bishop wants to hear about it for one thing because they’re scared it’ll get back to Istanbul. I rather doubt the other ethnic ones want to as well. There’s also logistical problems. When do we actually see our bishops? The OCA now has four vacant US dioceses and no prospects of filling them on the horizon. As for the other jurisdictions, most bishops won’t travel to some jerkwater town because they’re too high and mighty; others want the most expensive accommodations, essentially breaking a parish (and that’s before the honorarium is paid). And let’s be honest: how is the one Bulgarian bishop, two Romanian bishops, etc., going to travel 2,000 miles? Some of these bishops get $25,000 per year. One bishop I know demands that chocolates be placed on his pillow.

              Don’t get me wrong, I very much admire the passion in Danilchick’s voice and his words convict us all. But wishes and passions aren’t going to unify American Orthodoxy. Few of the bishops really want it and I dare say even fewer laymen want it. I’m not going to pile on the GOA here, although that is the elephant in the room, i.e. nobody wants to be dominated by the leaden foot of Istanbul. The OCA has committed slow-motion suicide so it has delegitimized the concept of American autocephaly.

              Ultimately, the idea that ACOB could congeal into a non-GOA dominated autocephalous church is a fool’s errand. Unless non-Greek laymen step up to the plate and demand a seat at the Archon’s table (and this means shelling out big bucks), it’s GOA laymen who’re going to call the tune (as in “he who pays the piper calls the tune”). And these guys aren’t ever going to place themselves under a non-Greek bishop. At best, the non-EP bishops could force a stalemate in order to force some concessions but that could only last so long and they’d have to present a united front in order for this to happen.

              I’m sorry to be so blunt and I mean no offense. I just think it’s time we put our cards on the table. I’m too old to play cat-and-mouse games with bishops who have no faith. My ability to be “sensitive” to men who’ve never known a hungry day in their life or slept on a cot in the Gulag has worn thin. (Did the Apostles ask for honoraria before “going to the ends of the earth”? Did St Peter sleep in the Ritz-Carlton while setting up the Church in Antioch?)

              Is my assessment about their capabilities harsh? If so, they are based on observation. My critique that their resolve has been diluted to accommodate the lowest common denominator has been proven yet again by their inability to come up with a simple statement on the DOMA decision. Would it have been so hard to just put out last year’s (tepid) statement? The culture has already made stark inroads. The ACOB has essentially become what the NCC is: a body of liberal prelates which has used the Orthodox as theological cover. This is the same dynamic at play in the ACOB now. ROCOR and the Serbians are used as cover for an adrift OCA and a liberal/ecumenist GOA.

              The silver lining? I agree with Danilchick that even an EP-dominated church could not force liturgical changes in individual parishes’ rubrics. I rather like his observation that we would have “more diversity” rather than less. Even a corrupt GOA bishop wouldn’t be stupid enough to force a ROCOR or Diocese of the South parish to install organs or pews. Nor would an Antiochian bishop force a GOA parish to remove theirs.

              • Excellent observations, George.

                I would just add that if an EP dominated American church would not affect the operations or practices of the more traditional parishes (and I seriously doubt that), in what way other than authority structure does this unify the American church? And if it is only unified authority and not unified practice for which we are striving, then many pro-autocephaly folks are going to have to revise their arguments about why unity would be a good thing.

                I regularly speak with Russians in ROCOR and those who are here temporarily from Russia. That being the case, the notion of Russians, other than perhaps Ukrainians and other Carpatho-Rus (who historically have resented Great Russian hegemony), putting themselves under the omophorion of Greek bishops seems to me a bit fanciful. I say this not so much because I think Russians are natural Hellenophobes but because of the way the ROC(OR) sees itself.

                I have rarely ever heard Russians in Russian churches say anything about the Greek church or practices. Once or twice I have heard a ROCOR convert make a comment or tell a story on the subject, but that is maybe twice in five years. To Russians, the ROC is the center of their spiritual universe and the Phanar and GOARCH are on the far periphery at best (thought there is a universal and great respect for Athos). There is a consciousness of other Slavic churches but the ROC and ROCOR tend to operate day to day, and their faithful operate day to day, without much thought to Greek or Arab Orthodoxy.

                Thus the notion of putting themselves under the jurisdiction of Greek bishops is as foreign to them – – outlandish really – – as the notion of Greek Orthodox faithful putting themselves under the jurisdiction of an Albanian Orthodox bishop, or a Bulgarian. It’s just not on their radar.

                This worldview is quite pronounced and I believe explains why the lion’s share of ROCOR was on board for the reunification with Moscow in 2007. Though ROCOR had not been in direct communion with New Calendar Churches for some time, and though they would come into communion with such Churches as a result of the reunion, the operative consideration was really Russian unity, not such minor peripheral concerns. Seen in this light, one can appreciate that the speculation about how ROCOR faithful would operate under Greek metropolitans is quite fanciful.

                Looking at some of the comments on this article, it may be useful to propose another model for looking at American Orthodoxy. We all know the story of the Russian churches and the Greek and other churches here in America and the chaos that resulted from the Bolshevik Revolution. Later, two distinct “Russian” entities emerged. One primarily “Great Russian”, ROCOR, and one primarily Ukrainian/Carpatho-Rus, the Metropolia/OCA. In about 1970 some serious horse-trading resulted in a Tome of Autocephaly being granted to the Metropolia by then KGB dominated Moscow. This was a sort of provisional attempt at American autocephaly. Forty-three years later, we can say that this effort was less than entirely successful (to engage in a bit of British understatement). Therefore, it may be more useful to see the OCA as a sort of Carpatho-American Orthodox Church, one among many jurisdictions, rather than an autocephalous American Orthodox Church. After all, if they’d really been serious about autocephaly they would insist that they were the only canonical authority in North America and that all other Orthodox churches here line up under them. They never have and their “mother church” even maintains a separate presence on what is purportedly OCA territory (ROCOR, the Patriarchal parishes).

                I suggest seeing this as the reality not out of any hostility to the OCA but because it seems to be a more accurate reflection of the status quo and sheds some light on the actual composition and history of the entities in question.

              • Michael Bauman says

                George, yes, I realize that Bishop Basil is a gem. I realize all that you say. I have come to the conclusion, however, that I’d rather give thanks for the gem and the example he sets for all of us and do my best to follow it rather than complain about the unhygienic conditions.

                If one or two men praying in a cave somewhere hold the salvation of the world in their prayers (as some pious Orthodox traditions hold) what difference does it make if some can’t travel. I am not promoting passive quietism (God forbid). We just need to go more deeply ourselves.

                Another thing Bishop Basil told me in the midst of the Met. Philip furor years ago: “Hold your peace” not as in be silent, but do not allow the furor to disturb your peace. My fitful attempt to be obedient to that direction has brought a great deal of fruit in my life.

                If you can’t talk to your bishop, there are people you can find and talk to. Bishop Basil has a volunteer staff of 13. Most of them are easily accessible. And it is not to “share your concerns” it is primarily to ask questions (motivating type). Even if they don’t appear to be heard and are not responded to if enough folks ask directly and persistently, it will have an effect> remember the parable of the unjust judge.

                Believe me, other than brief conversations when he makes himself available after Divine Liturgy (to everybody), I don’t impose on him. It was just that my brother, a priest, was in town for a day and he and Bishop Basil had never met. That is why I got to be there.

                Remember: “Bishops die, babushkas live for ever”

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Michael, would you be willing to publish more information about this staff of volunteers that assist His Grace?

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    He just said he has 13 people to help him. One is his deacon the rest I don’t know. All I know is that Bp Basil gave me a wholly different outlook on the EA than what passes as conventional wisdom in these parts. I am concerned that too many prejudices and fears are in play.

                  • Jerry Wilson says
                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Thank you Mr. Wilson. Also of note, the executive committee is dominated by Antioch with two out of five. While one member of that committee can veto something they all agreed on the gay marriage statement.

                      If you think for one minute that Met Philip will allow a Greek take over then all the other things said of him on this site are fantasy.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Regardless of the motivation of the ROC in 1970, the OCa has never been controlled by the agents of the Godless Soviet state. Nor, is it controlled now by the God-fearing Russian government or the ROC. Your entire argument is weakened by your implication that the OCA became sullied by the KGB affiliations of the principal ROC actors in the 1970s or that she is a narrowly defined ethnic church. Most OCA and Antiochian churches consider themselves to be pan-Orthodox and many go further by acting as missionary churches. The Holy Church in the United States will not grow and prosper because of an influx of immigrants but by reaching out and converting their communities. Have you look at the demographics of the United States lately?

          • “Your entire argument is weakened by your implication that the OCA became sullied by the KGB affiliations of the principal ROC actors in the 1970s or that she is a narrowly defined ethnic church.”

            The OCA owes its tome of autocephaly to the KGB. It’s just a fact that everything the ROC did at that time was either instituted or approved by the Soviet government because it benefited the Soviet state. Moreover, it is a matter of public record that St. Alexis Toth brought a large number of Ukrainian Uniates into the Russian Church in America toward the end of the 19th century:

            “Meanwhile, the Metropolia, the Russian diocese in America, which was becoming increasingly less Russian and more Carpatho-Russian (with the reception of many thousands of former Uniates under the leadership of St. Alexis of Wilkes-Barre), began a winding path toward independence from the jurisdiction of Moscow. The increasingly Carpatho-Russian/ex-Uniate character of the Metropolia is seen in its choice to name itself in 1906 as the Russian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church in North America under the Hierarchy of the Russian Church.” – Orthodoxwiki, ROCOR and OCA

            In November of 1946, at the famous Cleveland Sobor (the “7th All-American”), after a call from Moscow for the Metropolia to renew its loyalty, a vote was held which resulted in the Metropolia’s separation from the ROCOR and which declared loyalty to the Patriarchate. The voters, comprised of clergy and laity, voted 187 to 61 to reunite with the Patriarchate in the USSR. The pro-ROCOR faction within the Metropolia was understandably furious, as they regarded the Patriarchate as still compromised by the Soviet power.

            The history of St. John’s Cathedral in Mayfield, Pennsylvania, describes the 1946 severence of ties between the Metropolia and the ROCOR as a split within one body:

            “In 1946, at the Cleveland Sobor, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia indicated that the church headquarters would be moved to New York. A split then occurred in the American Metropolia, and the decision was by approximately half of the bishops to disassociate with the Russian Synod Abroad.” – ibid

            “The five bishops which refused to submit to the vote at the council—which had not been ratified by a Bishops’ Council as protocol dictated, probably because doing so would have ended up with a vote against ratification, as the Council majority was pro-ROCOR—then received a letter from Theophilus indicating their exclusion from the Metropolia.” – ibid

            “The effect of the events of 1947-48 was to declare autonomy from the ROCOR and to have Moscow believe it was about to receive its North American diocese into its fold again only to be rebuffed without explanation.” – ibid

            Such were the shennanigans of the Metropolia, they broke away from ROCOR in order to rejoin the KGB dominated MP and then had a mood swing and decided otherwise. It has been my experience when dealing with OCA faithful and clergy that the OCA institutions and hierarchy simply and boldly lie about the history of the Metropolia/OCA. Nonetheless, I have friends, some clergy, in the OCA and normally we just avoid the subject since in any given locale the OCA may be the most traditional church in town and since clergy are normally company men who don’t want to hear anything at variance with the party line. It’s all pretty well documented though.

            As to the current composition of the OCA, I’ve heard that it is majority convert at this point. That’s fine with me. The job of all ethnic Orthodox in this country is to make themselves a small minority “in their own church”; i.e., if evangelism is a priority. As to who still runs the OCA . . . I’m told it’s a small number of families who pull the strings. But all I know is the historical reality.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Your criticism that the KGB engineered or influenced the OCA’s tomos of autocephaly is no doubt correct. At the same time, we cannot forget that for over 500 years now, the patriarchate of Constantinople has been exploited by the Ottoman and then Kemalist Turkish governments.

              • No doubt that is true George. I’m certainly not carrying water for the Fanar, for the OCA or for Moscow.. I was looking at statistics today and find that other than the churches of the Czech and Slovak Lands and of Finland, the number of Orthodox in the OCA is quite low compared to other autocephalous churches. And these autocephalies all involved Moscow and all during the Soviet period.

                I suppose my point, if I have one, regarding the whole situation in America is that the desire for an autocephalous American church is simply not widely enough held here in order to accomplish the fact. It’s obviously money and ethnicity that are the concerns, but the experience of the OCA over the past decade or so is not encouraging either.

                I honestly believe that the concern over the canonical irregularity is overblown and misplaced. Just live a holy life and spread the Gospel. Make babies or join a monastery or work to further the cause of Orthodoxy in some other way. The jurisdictional problem will solve itself in time. Peace of mind is more important than perpetually demonstrating that we can’t control the powers that be. We should know that by now.

    • Bruce Wm. Trakas says

      In Peter Bankus’ 2nd paragraph, he states “Episcopal Assembly…decisions must be reviewed, examined, and even vetoed by Patriarch Bartholomew.” That is incorrect. The Ecumenical Patriarch is only responsible to implement the decisions of the IV Preconciliar Commission, i.e. ensure the regional assemblies are working to address their charge from the Commission. The plans that will be developed, any of the work product of the assemblies, must be evaluated by the Preconciliar Commission, a commission of pan-Orthodox composition; and, as Mr. Barkus does note, ultimately the decisions of the Regional Episcopal Assemblies will be submitted to the Holy and Great Synod (Council) for approval.

      • Peter Bankus says

        Mr. Trakas,

        Who do you think controls the Preconcilliar Commission? Let’s be honest, not Byzantine. It’s Istanbul and the Greek operatives who are trying to control any or all unity under Istanbul. The entire process is fake. Even Istanbul made secret agreements with Moscow to allow it to move forward if it kept it’s fingers out of the Ukraine. There will be no real Great and Holy Synod; only possibly one engineered and controlled by Istanbul. When are people going to realize that the organization for churches is clearly outlined in Orthodox Canon Law. Organization is by territory. Local bishops have absolute authority over their own territory; not some foreign council of foreign bishops in a foreign country. Pan-Orthodox? You mean bishops who are bought and paid for by Istanbul. If this attempt by Istanbul should possibly approach reality, I am certain it will do more to create schism and divisions among the Orthodox people in North America. More lay people will run from Orthodoxy to conservative Protestant Churches, RC Churches or create a new Orthodox Church in American territory.

        • Bruce Wm. Trakas says

          “…[B]ishops who are bought and paid for by Istanbul”? If that is the case, and I wholly disagree that it is, why then did the last meeting of the Preconciliar Commission break up in discord because the Churches of Russia and Romania took issue with the language of the proposed form letter developed for the proclamation of the autocephaly of a new sister Church among the Holy Orthodox Churches? I think this meeting occurred in 2010. The matter of the language in the letter of proclamation still seems unresolved as the Preconciliar Commission has not as yet reconvened.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Mr Trakas, regretfully I am forced to concur with Mr Bankus regarding the supremacist claims of Constantinople. Though the Phanar has done a passable job sublimating them, the fact remains that in certain areas of the world, the Constantinopolitan-Muscovite rivalry is as heated as ever. My fears about the EA process, which were first voiced some three years ago have not been allayed in the interim. If anything, they’ve been exacerbated.

            Regrettably, the OCA has kicked so many own goals that the job of the Phanariote triumphalists has been made infinitely easier.

            I don’t know how this is going to play out mind you. We could be in for big surprises down the road. Or just more of the same.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              I think that the narrative of Phanar control and so-called “foreign” control of the American Church is a narrative pushed by the OCA and other independence movements in American Orthodoxy. I think that the EP is in a territorial war with Moscow. Moscow has the same triumphalist goals by claiming it should be first among equals and yet nobody squawks at that.

              Moscow is pushing for hegemony just as hard as the Phanar, in fact I think harder as Moscow has the whole Russian Federation behind it. The Phanar does not have such resources. The true is that Moscows claims on territorial hegemony in America can and are viewed as spurious for historical and political reasons, while Constandinople’s claims based on Canon 28, whether you agree with them or not, are at least based on one valid interpretation on Canon law.

              I personally do not hold to that interpretation, but it is at least based on Canon law. What is Moscows claims based on? Personally I think their claims are spurious. However, many view as the Phanar bad and Moscow as good may be a good and simple narrative, but not based in any reality. The same as the foreign bishop narrative. It’s good to stir up our inherent xenophobia, but not really based in the truth.

              I think Bruce is right. The Phanar, Moscow and Antioch are all attempting to do the right thing with the EA. If that happens I do not really know, but I am willing to wait and see, and let the truth, not an unrealistic narrative, claim the day.



              • “Moscow has the same triumphalist goals by claiming it should be first among equals and yet nobody squawks at that.”

                Apart from remarks in medieval letters, I do not recall Moscow having recently asserted any claim to be “first among equals”. So there’s nothing to squawk at. Also, Constantinople’s interpretation of Canon 28 is fanciful, rejected by all the other churches besides the Church of Greece, contrary to the plain meaning of the text and the commentary in the Rudder upon the text, and of fairly recent vintage. Now, Moscow does appear to be walking the walk as far as leading some important efforts (as opposed to taking riverboat rides down the Mississippi to fight “global warming”). De facto, the ROC is the leader of the Orthodox world. But this is due to its size, its new found freedom and to the black hole at the top in Istanbul. God willing the next Patriarch of Constantinople will be less arrogant and more Orthodox. Perhaps a senior monk from Mt. Athos, which routinely castigates the Phanar about its unorthodox shennanigans.

                Moscow’s claim seems to have persuaded most everyone besides the Greeks (at times) of its jurisdiction in America in the 19th century. There was some tumult regarding the Serbs at times, and at times the Greeks appealed to Moscow to approve bishops, but most everyone else fell in line. The Bolshevik Revolution changed all that.

                The EA is a joke, Met. Phillip, not my favorite hierarch mind you, has as much as said so. It’s SCOBA II, “people walking sideways pretending that they’re leading”. Committees don’t meet, nothing really gets done beyond what SCOBA did. As for the next Great and Holy Synod, as one perceptive soul inquired, “show me the hotel reservations if it’s going to happen in the next 1-2 years”. I don’t think there are any serious plans, thank God. If the “truth” of the EA were going to claim the day, you would think someone would have moved in that direction in the last couple of years. Instead, crickets chirping.

                Nonetheless, the whole situation gives me great cause for hope. Wheat and chaffe will separate, one way or another. It’s a function of God’s will and the internal logic of the different factions. I’m not so concerned about what man thinks or does anymore because the older I get, I can see the hand of God in developments.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Misha Moscows claims are fanciful whether you want to believe them or not. You said it yourself “We are the biggest so we should rule, plus the Phanar is a black hole.” Ok if you want to believe your narrative of Slavonic control (which is also KGB control) as opposed to Hellenic (I.e. corrupt) Orthodox control have at it. In the end it’s all a big political lie and gamesmanship.

                  We are one church with Canons. You may not like the Phanar’s interpretation but as an attorney I can tell you it’s at least valid. Not correct, but valid. Is Moscow’s claims valid. Lest see. Kit landed in Alaska when Alaska was not a part of America. It was and IMHO continues to be under Communist control. It unilaterally acted to give independence to its Church here in America when it had no canonical right to do so ( I guess Moscow’s interpretation on Canon law at the time back in 1970 was correct right?), and somehow that gave the OCA complete control on America (the OCA’s own Canon 28 fiasco).

                  So Moscow is canonically correct? The OCA is canonically correct? However the Phanar is not? Please give it a rest. Ethnic Orthodox Churches have been and continue to play fast and loose with the canons as long as it serves their own political and economic purposes.

                  This is why in the USA we have a final arbiter of Constitutional Law called the US Supreme Court. This is also why we have a court system that interprets our laws. Whether we like those interpretations or not that system is in place so as to avoid the BS going on now between Constandinople and Moscow.

                  So, take a breath, relax and allow the EA to work. If you want canonical normalcy here in America it’s not by supporting the Phanar, Moscow or the OCA. It’s by supporting the EA and putting fire under them as laity that they have to get moving and get this done.

                  All other narratives need to be put aside.


                  • Peter, Moscow doesn’t have to make any claims. It gave the Metropolia a tome of autocephaly and no longer makes any claims to it. ROCOR is an autonomous province of the ROC. There’s nothing to claim, it just is.

                    Constantinople’s claims are preposterous and universally rejected outside the Hellenosphere. Both the late Patriarch Alexei and the present Metropolitan of the AOCNA have each explained in detail why the Phanar’s claims are disingenous and non-starters. Romanians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Antiochians, etc. have parishes here all in direct defiance and disregard of Constantinople’s big lie. I too am a lawyer and I can tell you that their claim doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Constantinople’s interpretation would have given them control of the entire Western hemisphere to the detriment of Rome, which had left the council before the canon was adopted at the last minute. They know they are lying and everyone else knows they are lying. It’s pseudo-Greek tradition (or mythology, take your pick). Canon 28 of the IVth Council only gives three territories to the Phanar. The commentary in the Rudder says they also had jurisdiction in bordering territories. That’s it. The rest is a lie.

                    “So, take a breath, relax and allow the EA to work. If you want canonical normalcy here in America it’s not by supporting the Phanar, Moscow or the OCA. It’s by supporting the EA and putting fire under them as laity that they have to get moving and get this done.

                    All other narratives need to be put aside.”

                    The EA is an entity created to placate those who wish to see a unified church here in America by giving the illusion that Constantinople, et al. have a serious intention of facilitating that goal. Not being one who cares about American autocephaly or a unified church here, there’s no reason for me to take a deep breath. The EA is doing (or rather not doing) exactly what I thought they would. For me there is no frustration since the status quo is just peachey keen as far as I’m concerned. That’s been my point, if it hasn’t dawned on you yet.

                    The laity has no power to make the EA do anything. It is led and controlled by the Phanar. Now, if all the other jurisdictions here in America were suddenly to decide to fall under Constantinople – – pause for laughter – – then something might come out of it. But Constantinople and the other old world patriarchates are not just going to give up their ATM machines here in America. I’m simply discouraging any serious expectations regarding the EA. So far, events have proven me correct.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Peter, I know Antioch is approaching the EA in an attempt to do the right thing.

                The EA may not succeed
                The EA may be filled with all sorts of political maneuvering but I wonder if we did a “You Are There” episode before or during many of the Ecumenical Councils if the same type of thinking did not abound.

                God has a way of working these thing out despite the recalcitrance, sinfulness and pride of his children.

    • Pere LaChaise says

      Η νεα μεγαλι ιδεα, the ‘new great idea’. The Phanariots plot over little cups of Turkish coffee. It’ll never work – a de juretakeover of ‘barbarian lands’ will exist only on paper.
      A meta-question: SInce the Phanar still exists only at the pleasure of the Turkish state, in order to put lipstick on the pig that is their civil rule in the eyes of the West (esp. the US), the Phanar is particularly vulnerable to geopolitical currents and cannot function freely as a church. Instead, it serves as a chesspiece is a complicated game of subterfuge and division ultimately at the pleasure of US foreign policy hacks and their counterparts in Ankara. Not what I call a winning team for the future of Orthodoxy. Next planet?

      • Well why not? says

        Mr. LaChaise, I’ve never been room mates with an ostrich. Is it terribly stuffy living with one’s head in the ground?

  4. Pathetic! The OCA at its best, American Church? Bullcrap! Read and weep!

    I spek englesh good!
    Tikhon Moelard

    A meeting of His Beatitude Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Tikhon with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill.

    * Home/
    * News / A meeting of His Beatitude Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Tikhon with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill.

    A meeting of His Beatitude Metropolitan of All America and Canada, Tikhon with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill.

    July 22, 2013 at the Patriarchal Residence St. Daniel Monastery hosted a meeting of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill with His Beatitude Metropolitan of All America and Canada Tikhon, who arrived within the Russian Church to participate in the celebrations of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus.

    Metropolitan Tikhon was accompanied by Chairman of the Office of the Orthodox Church in America for Foreign Affairs and Interchurch Relations bishop of Toledo, Alexander, Chancellor Archpriest John Jillians, a representative of the Orthodox Church in America to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Archimandrite Alexander (Pihach), a clergyman of the Moscow Representation of the Orthodox Church in America Deacon Cyril Dotsenko cleric and Canadian Diocese Deacon Jesse Isaak.

    On the part of the Russian Orthodox Church was represented by the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion, Bishop Krasnoslobodski and Temnikov Clement, deputy chairman of the DECR, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, DECR secretary for inter-Orthodox relations, Archpriest Igor Yakymchuk, Representative of the World Russian People’s Council at the United Nations, the clergyman Nicholas Cathedral in New York, Archpriest George Roschin.

    “Over the last 25 years there have been great changes not only in the life of the Russian Church, but also in the lives of our people. Today a lot of people identify with Russian Orthodoxy – Patriarch Kirill said. – This is evident by the number of believers who attend services, including youth. An increasing number of churched people, those who are fasting constantly receive communion. But perhaps the most important thing that many now began to look for the motivation of their actions in Christian beliefs. ”

    “We want to pray together with the Heads of the Local Orthodox Churches, and to thank God for the grace that was revealed to the Russian people – said on His Holiness. – But at the same time, we want to pray together with all the Orthodox Churches of the Lord to bless our continued historical path. We are faced with many problems of various kinds – because the church is large and our great nation. A positive solution to these problems could have very good effects on people’s lives, and a negative – slow the spiritual development of our people. And we would like to see this general congregational prayer has given new impetus to the development of the spiritual life of our church. The celebration will be held in Moscow, Kiev and Minsk – three capitals, heiress of Holy Russia. For us, it is equally important that, in all three places these celebrations have become a stimulus for further spiritual development. ”

    For its part, Metropolitan Tikhon thanked the Primate of the Russian Church for their hospitality.

    “Your Holiness, in the Orthodox world is now facing some difficulties. As you know, the United States, including our Orthodox Church in America, too, is facing a number of problems, “- stated the Metropolitan. He thanked Patriarch Kirill for help and wise counsel during the period of temporary difficulties experienced Orthodox Church in America in the recent past.

    They discussed bilateral issues and themes of pan-Orthodox character. Primates of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church in America expressed a common concern about the threats to the existence of the Christian presence in Syria and the Middle East in general. Particular concern was expressed about the long stay in the captivity of militants Metropolitan of Aleppo Paul (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and Metropolitan Mar Gregorios John Ibrahim (Syrian Orthodox Church).

    After the talks, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of attention to works for the good of the Holy Church and in connection with the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia presented the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America and the members of his delegation awards of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    His Beatitude Metropolitan of All America and Canada Tikhon was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir First degree.

    Bishop Alexander of Toledo was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir II degree.

    Archimandrite Alexander (Pihach), Archpriest John Jillians, Deacon Cyril Dotsenko and Deacon Jesse Isaak awarded the Order of St. Vladimir III degree.

    Also on the memory of the stay in Holy Russia of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon gave kit consisting of a cross and two panagias, small robe and bishop’s staff. Gifts were presented to the other members of the delegation.

    Blessed Tikhon thanked the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church from himself and the members of the delegation and presented at the meeting of the prayerful memory of an icon of St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Dear Photios–The article you are quoting seems to have been translated into English and thus it may not have originated with the OCA. Would you please tell us the source or give us a link? Thanks.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Dear Photios–Do not bother; I found the source of your article at the ST Catherine’s website. It is indeed a translation from Russian. Take the very first paragraph: “July 22, 2013 at the Patriarchal Residence St. Daniel Monastery hosted a meeting of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill with His Beatitude Metropolitan of All America and Canada Tikhon, who arrived within the Russian Church to participate in the celebrations of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus.” No English writer or translator of any worth would have said this. If you do not see the obvious mistakes, I would advise you strongly to be more discerning in choosing “evidence” by which you attack the one and only Metropolitan Archbishop of the OCA.

  5. Trudge at SmartVote says

    We should treasure the OCA’s own encyclical “On Preaching.”

    (Re: report of OCA representatives reception in Moscow.)

    After the medals have been handed out, and the lights go dim, and everyone departs back to their homes where they can carry out their pet projects, such as sexual minorities, it is good to remember the purpose of the Church as expressed in the OCA’s own encyclical “On Preaching.”

    The encyclical is dated Pascha 1989. If it were truly “encycled” and carried out, our problems of Christian witness would disappear at a stroke.

    The encyclical is an energetic plea for spiritual renewal and vision for how to preach the Gospel. It defines the proper place of the sermon and the qualities of good sermons in the life of the parish and in evangelism. It also tasks each Christian with the duty of preaching. It even addresses the use of electronic media and the need for the continuing education of priests for the preaching and the focus of their time and energy on this duty above all others.

    Encyclicals of the Synod are reached on the OCA website under the top menu, hovering over About the OCA > selecting Holy Synod > the Encyclicals link is to the lower right of the page, 2nd from bottom.

  6. The Q&A beginning at 19:56 indicates (at least to me) that the inertia on this issue will continue for the foreseeable future.

    Proto-Deacon Danilchick says, “We must succeed. This is a critical thing for the life of the church.”

    Then comes the question: “The presupposition here is that the bishops want this to happen. Do you get the sense that that is the attitude of our bishops here in North America?”

    In answer to the above question Proto-Deacon Danilchick talks for 1 minute and 21 seconds, but he never says, “Yes.”

  7. Philippa says

    This is a great lecture to listen to on the topic given by Fr. Josiah Trenham march, 2013.

    And here is the text complete with annoutline of recommendations.

    Maybe I’ll print it out and send it to the Assembly of Bishops care of Pdcn. Danilchick so they can implement it! Geesh! Talk about reinventing the wheel.

    • Dear Phlippa,Thank you for the link to Father Josiah’s article from 2006 which seems to cover all the bases but one, i.e. the incredible wastefulness of unshared resources and the additional material and emotional costs of disunity.

    • Thomas Jones says

      It seems Fr. Trenham loves to hear himself. So much so that he has his own publications and podcasts yet, I don’t see any Orthodox theological education in his background. He’s a great speaker, very intelligent, but clearly, he has a lack of understanding in many of the areas where he speaks. More so, he tries to use the words of Frs. Schmemann & Meyendorff to support his conclusions, but their words are used out of context. They were speaking of unity under the OCA as SCOBA prescribed and Fr. Alexander made a reality. The Bishop of Istanbul rejected Russia’s granting of autocephaly of the OCA and has said again and again that only HE (Pat. Bartholomew) had the right to grant autocephaly. There are no canons regarding who can or can’t grant autocephaly. Now, Istanbul sets up it’s own plan for Orthodox unity that Trenham (under the Antiochians) has swallowed hook line & sinker; like Danelchick who also has no Orthodox theological training. Amazing how Istanbul has targeted the Antiochians and pro-Greek sympathizers to push it’s plan for “world Orthodoxy domination.” When are people going to realize that Istanbul is just setting itself up as an Eastern Pope; contrary to Orthodox Canon Law. The answer to Orthodox Unity was given to America in 1970 with the establishment of the only autocephalous Orthodox Church in America; as SCOBA prescribed. Again, the Antiochians and Greeks reneged on joining. Ligonier in 1994 blew up in their faces when Pat. Bartholomew dismissed Arbp. Iakavos and emasculated all the Greek bishops in North America. Now the Greeks want everyone to believe that their non-canonical plan is the only way for real unity. Unity for Orthodoxy in America can never come from outside. In fact, Canon Law insists that only “local bishops” can self-determine their own destiny; not foreign bishops. Unity now under an autocephalous Orthodox Church. There is no need to wait for approval of any foreign bishops or the so-called, future “Great and Holy Council.” All churches have to do is follow what Canon Law prescribes; not manipulation coming out of Istanbul. And by the way, Canon 28 does not give the Pat. of Istanbul any authority in North America. Read it. It only gives him additional authority among certain territories around the Black Sea.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Mr Jones, leaving aside your critique of Fr Trenham, I don’t disagree at all with what’s really going on behind the scenes and the dubious canonicity of the entire EA process. To say nothing about the legitimacy of Canon 28 in all its fabulous idiocy.

        The problem however is that the OCA (my church incidentally) has completely delegitimized itself in spectacular fashion. Even more egregiously, it is continuing to do itself in by refusing to allow for the election of bishops for the four American dioceses that are currently vacant.

        • Thomas Jones says

          “…OCA (my church incidentally) has completely delegitimized itself in spectacular fashion. Even more egregiously, it is continuing to do itself in by refusing to allow for the election of bishops for the four American dioceses that are currently vacant.”

          I don’t see your conclusions at all. There is no delegalizing. You may still be licking your wounds over the dismissal of Met. Jonah, for good reasons, but let’s move on. In fact, I also agree with many that the Primate of the OCA should be a term of 4 years and only renewed if the Synod unanimously agrees. The vacancy of dioceses is probably very wise after the choice of bad bishops in the recent past. Married archpriests who are administering these parishes are doing fine and as mentally stable, qualified episcopal candidates surface, they will be installed. I am all for married bishops who are more well-adjusted mentally and wiser regarding family situations. The doom-sayers here of the OCA do not have info based on reality.

          • George Michalopulos says

            I didn’t say “delegalizing.” The OCA is a legal institution recognized by the State of New York. I said the OCA had “delegitimized” itself. I stand behind this assertion. I ask anybody in Syosset reading this (and we know you do) to tell me where I’m wrong. Where are the statistics showing church growth? Are we not in fact seeing church decline?

            Your recommendations regarding a rotating Metropolitinate, a married episcopate, etc., are fine and dandy as thought experiments but they don’t address the massive problems that the OCA has at present, do they? And your assertion that married archpriests are “mentally stable” means what exactly? That archimandrites and monks are not? Either by necessity or by accident?

            • Thomas Jones says

              All my years as a cradle-born Orthodox, I have never encountered a mentally stable celibate or bishop. All are a little off in their own way. Some, not a threat, but others like + Tikhon (retired) were a serious threat to the entire church. Why do we continue with celibate, monastics as bishops? Because they are cheap and easily dismissed.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Wow, really? So much for balance perspective and common sense. Your posts, Mr. Jones have been both unstable and “off” as far as any I have ever seen.

                Let me ask you, were you among the Obamalytes calling him the Messiah?

          • Oh, please, Thomas Jones. Moscow only wants to prop up the OCA long enough in hopes of getting the EP to accede to Moscow’s stance on granting autocephaly. However, the OCA is not likely to last long enough for that to happen. If Moscow knew how badly the OCA is bleeding money and souls, they would probably just cut and run.

            • Thomas Jones says


              Moscow has nothing to do with the operation of the OCA nor can it “cut and run” anything. ROCOR would like nothing better than to see the OCA fail and probably will continue to try and engineer this. The fact is, ROCOR is dying and only recent immigration from Russia has saved it. The OCA continues to grow as a real American church. Go visit parishes around the country. The rhetoric and disinformation here won’t change reality.

              • This is incorrect-ROCOR is the fastest growing Jurisdiction.

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                How many new bishops have been consecrated in OCA within the past ONE year? How many OCA dioceses still have no PERMANENT bishops? How many new missions have opened within the past ONE year?

                When you can answer these questions, then we can talk about how fast OCA is growing.

                • The Clergy Conference of the Diocese of the South is meeting in Jacksonville Beach, Florida and the members present were told that they will probably not have a Bishop for at least another year.

      • Orthodox Texan says

        Info available online:

        Fr Josiah Trenham received his Ph.D. in theology from the University of Durham, England, where he studied under the tutelage of the internationally renowned Orthodox Christian theologian and professor
        of patristics, Father Andrew Louth. Father Josiah’s doctoral dissertation was entitled Marriage and Virginity according to St. John Chrysostom. (Fr Andrew Louth is a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church and Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion and Orthodox chaplain at the University of Durham in Durham, England).

        So not sure what you mean that he has “no Orthodox theological education” — possibly meaning that he doesn’t have a degree from an Orthodox theological seminary? Not sure why that matters.

        In my opinion, he is one of the best podcasters around. He is not afraid to address contemporary social issues that many priests and bishops do not address (or don’t know how to address), from abortion to same-sex marriage to feminism to problems with modern secular education in the universities. His “Arena” podcasts on AFR are a breath of fresh air. He did a recent interview with the Catholic Archbishop in San Francisco on same-sex marriage which was outstanding. And thanks be to God he is an excellent public speaker, is clear and makes his points well, with a voice that commands attention. Our church needs more leaders like him. (For the record, I do not know Father Josiah and have never met him.)

        • Thomas Jones says

          “Fr Josiah Trenham received his Ph.D. in theology from the University of Durham, England, where he studied under the tutelage of the internationally renowned Orthodox Christian theologian and professor
          of patristics, Father Andrew Louth.”

          Oh, so he understands the Orthodox Church via the Orthodox in England who put themselves under the Pat. of Istanbul. Of course! An Istanbul sympathizer without any understanding of Orthodox Canon Law.

          • Fr George Washburn says

            Mr. “Jones:”

            Please allow me to tell you that your above approach to Fr. Josiah and his positions does not win you *any* respect among discerning readers. You suggest, but with no supporting evidence or argument whatsoever, that he is too weak or dumb to do anything but reflect a bias in favor of the jurisdiction under which his former professor serves, even though it is not the jurisdiction in which Fr. Josiah himself serves.

            That is so silly and weak that it strongly suggests you feel you have no good basis for arguing against his views, and must therefore grasp at straws.


            Fr. George

            • Thomas Jones says

              Fr. George,

              I would agree that Trenham is very learned and a smart person, but his Ph. D. alone under Louth does not make him an expert on the Orthodox Church. He truly lacks an understanding of Orthodox Canon Law. Each “territory” where an Orthodox Church is established, that church is canonically responsible for it’s own affairs and determination. Not Moscow, Istanbul, Damascus or any foreign bishops. If the bishops of N. America can’t get together and solve their own issues, then where are we? Outside intervention will only cause schism & division. The problem: foreign bishops keep the American church divided, esp. Istanbul. Look at Ligonier in 1994. It was + Bart who dismissed + Iakavos & emasculated the Greek bishops. It’s important to realize who the real enemies of Orthodox unity are. Should we all acquiesce to Istanbul’s insistence that only it can lead and decide and determine the affairs of all the Orthodox worldwide; as an Eastern Pope? What do the canons say about this? Trenham is a smart guy, but has been indoctrinated by Istanbul’s rhetoric. What would you expect; he’s under the Antiochians who are also pushing this non-canonical agenda of Istanbul.

              • Fr George Washburn says

                Dear Mr. Jones:

                Thank you for a reply that seems to try to focus more on the issues. Before going farther, however, please allow me to say that it seems rather inconsistent to see such a stickler for canon law correctly address me as Fr. George, but deliberately refer to Fr. Josiah twice in a non-traditional way – by last name only. Are you giving yourself a license to be non-traditional, and even impolite, because you don’t like Fr. josiah’s personality or his position on the issues?

                I also note your seemingly intentional, and perhaps dismissive, reference to the EP by the current secular name for the Turkish city within whose political boundaries it must operate.

                Third, let me inquire if you have a basis in fact for your assertion that the Antiochians are “pushing” the agenda of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. They are certainly *cooperating* and participating in the AOB process at this point, but I do not personally see or hear statements from my leaders I can interpret as “pushing” an “agenda,” let alone the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s. In my one brief, private meeting with the late Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius IV, back in the late 90s, I got the distinct impression that the church’s hierarchs had not forgotten the centuries of domination of their Church government by Greeks in cooperation with the Phanar.

                Fourth, let’s look a little more closely at your assertion that the N. American bishops ought to be able to get together and solve N. American problems and anomalies themselves. Are you advocating that the Serbian, Russian and Antiochian churches secede from their respective Patriarchates, and if so to which canons do you appeal as authority for this contention? Your assertion that “Outside intervention will only cause schism and division” strikes me as simplistic in the extreme, and wrong. If I have any instinct for how the Church works, some united initiative by bishops in N. America to unilaterally assert themselves would only cause worse “schism and division.”

                Don’t get me wrong. I do not pretend to have the answers to this set of problems, and I have not read or listened to Fr. Josiah’s and therefore do not take a position on his either. I do pretend to be able to offer some critique of language and arguments, expose hidden assumptions, question evidentiary support or lack thereof, and ask difficult questions of you, however.


                Fr. George

          • Orthodox Texan says

            Um, no. Father Josiah’s mentor in England was Father Andrew Louth, a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church has the Diocese of Sourozh which covers the lands of Great Britain and Ireland ( The diocesan Cathedral of the Dormition in Ennismore Gardens, London, is well worth a visit when one is traveling in or near London.

            Not all Orthodox in England are part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

  8. Some Jurisdictions Anonymatized says

    Sometimes, it takes a little while to find your way. I think one of the reasons we need one jurisdiction in America is to guard against voting with your feet in Orthodoxy. That takes a leap of Faith, and maybe we aren’t ready for that, but I thought I’d provide one priest’s jurisdiction changes as an example of how we now must do a Google search to find our holy priesthood and bishops.

    Archpriest .. an archpriest in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, was ..raised as a devout Roman Catholic. He converted to Holy Orthodoxy on… He was elevated to the Subdiaconate by Metropolitan … Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, in Boston, MA, on ..7; ordained to the Diaconate by Bishop …, Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America, in .., on ..; and ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Bishop Christopher, Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America (with then Bishop .. of the Greek Archdiocese in attendance), in …on…. Fr. ..’s previous full-time parish pastorates include … Orthodox Church in the Romanian Episcopate of the Orthodox Church in America …(…); St. ….); and St. … Serbian Orthodox Church. Fr. … served d as Professor of … Theology and …Dean at St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary in … and is concurrently serving as … Professor of Religion at….Fr… is also the author of hundreds of scholarly articles and …essays, as well as … books on Orthodox Christian …

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says


      And imagine how the (Fr.) Nathan Monk fiasco could have been resolved, if only . . .

  9. Don’t know where else to post this.

    Are we ever going to get the details of the agreement between Metropolitan JONAH and his false accusers on the OCA Synod? Or is it going to be the usual pattern of secrecy?

  10. Thomas Jones says

    —So, who is it that doesn’t recognize the OCA’s autocephaly? Oh of course, it’s Istanbul and it’s Greek cronies.—

    July 24, 2013
    Metropolitan Tikhon concelebrates at Anniversary Liturgy in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral

    His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, was among the Primates and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches who concelebrated at the Divine Liturgy with His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, at Christ the Savior Cathedral here on July 24, 2013. The Liturgy opened a three-part commemoration of the 1025th Anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ that will be marked with similar celebrations in Kyiv, Ukraine and Minsk, Belarus. [See related story].

    According to the Press Service of the Moscow Patriarchate, other concelebrating Primates included His Beatitude, Pope and Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa; His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos III of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine; His Holiness and Beatitude, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of All Georgia; His Holiness, Patriarch Irenej aeus of Serbia; His Holiness, Patriarch Neophyt of Bulgaria; His Beatitude, Archbishop Chrysostomos II of New Justiniana and All Cyprus; and His Beatitude, Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland. Hierarchs representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Churches of Antioch, Romania, Albania, the Czech Lands and Slovakia led delegations from their respective Churches.

    At the conclusion of the Service of Thanksgiving that followed the Liturgy, Patriarch Kirill shared a message issued by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church highlighting the legacy of Saint Vladimir, who in 988 AD embraced Orthodox Christianity for his people, and its importance today.

    “A quarter of a century has passed since the beginning of the revival of the Russian Church,” the message read. “Over the years, the renovation and building of tens of thousands of churches and hundreds of monasteries has revived the Church and placed her activities on a solid foundation in many areas…. We give our heartfelt thanks to God, Who is the Lord of history, for the grace that has been revealed to our people…. However, much remains to be done, because the Lord wants us to bear new fruits. And chief among them should be the unity of faith and life, the assertion of the truth of the Gospel in words and deeds….”

    Patriarch Kirill also extended warm greetings to the numerous state and religious officials present for the Divine Liturgy, including the Presidential Envoy to the Central Federal District, A.D. Beglov, and the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, Konstantin Grishchenko.

    Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria offered congratulatory remarks on behalf of the Primates and the delegations representing the Local Orthodox Churches.

    A reception for the Primates and delegations and state, religious, NGO and diplomatic representatives followed, during which Patriarch Kirill expressed his deep gratitude for their presence and participation.

    Metropolitan Tikhon, accompanied by His Grace, Bishop Alexander of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese, arrived in Moscow for the celebrations on July 20. Other members of the OCA delegation include Archpriest John Jillions, OCA Chancellor; Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, Director of External Relations and Inter-Church Relations; Archimandrite Alexander [Pihach], OCA Representative to the Moscow Patriarchate and Dean of Saint Catherine Representation Church, Moscow; Deacon Jesse Isaac, Archdiocese of Canada; and Deacon Cyril Dotsenko, Saint Catherine Church, Moscow.

    • “So, who is it that doesn’t recognize the OCA’s autocephaly?”

      No one recognizes the OCA’s autocephaly besides the ROC and some of the churches that were under Soviet domination. Moreover, the ROC has a very strange way of recognizing the OCA’s autocephaly by having both ROCOR parishes and Patriarchal Parishes on the OCA’s supposed canonical territory. Antioch doesn’t recognize its autocephaly. The Romanians recently called for their people in the OCA to return to the Patriarchate’s churches here. Jerusalem still has some parishes here though they’ve acknowledged at other times Constantinople’s jurisdiction. The Serbs have their own church in America, as do the Bulgarians.

      All of these presences are essentially a rejection of the OCA’s autocephaly. What else could they be? Otherwise, all of these churches would be turned over to the OCA’s administration asap.

      • Thomas Jones says

        Well Misha, you’re wrong! 1st, since the OCA is in communion with all the Orthodox Churches around the world, de facto, it is recognized by all the Orthodox Churches around the world. In fact, if the Pat. of Istanbul has an issue with the OCA’s autocephaly, they are required to tell world Orthodoxy why. So far, any of Istanbul’s arguments are ridiculous at best. It amounts to, “If you won’t make me captain, I’ll take my ball and go home.” So, go home! ROCOR is an anomaly tolerated via love. The Patriarchial churches are few and are viewed as Orthodox embassies of the ROC. The Romanians aren’t going anywhere. Jerusalem is under the Greeks, the Serbs are a small faction unto themselves and the Patriarchal Bulgarians are minimal. Take a close look again of all the bishops participating with the OCA at the celebration of the Baptism of the Rus in 988. No divisions, just an absence of Istanbul and it’s cronies – cry baby losers.

        • Thomas,

          Obviously you have no idea what you’re talking about. The OCA’s autocephaly is not recognized as a result of maintaining communion with it any more than Constantinople’s remaining in communion with Antioch means that Constantinople acknowledges America to be Antioch’s territory. Intercommunion and recognition of autocephaly are two distinct things.

          Constantinople has “told the world” in no uncertain terms why it explicitly rejects the OCA’s claim of autocephaly and has done so consistently since Moscow granted the tome. It’s reasoning, I agree, is wrong-headed. But that does not mean it has any obligation to accept the OCA’s autocephaly.

          “ROCOR is an anomaly tolerated via love.” Not exactly. Formerly, the Metropolia made considerable efforts to steal ROCOR church properties with the court system telling the Metropolia that it was in the wrong. It is only recently that there has been a reproachment as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fact that the only serious defender of the OCA’s autocephaly is Moscow, which reconcilled with ROCOR on terms which guarantee that any changes in ROCOR’s diocesan structure must be approved by the ROCOR synod. In other words, Moscow had to agree that they had no right to compel ROCOR to join the OCA in order for the reconciliation to take place. The OCA can’t do squat about ROCOR even if it wanted to and there has been some movement from the OCA to ROCOR during the recent follies regarding Met. Jonah.

          As far as numbers are concerned, most of the numbers regarding Orthodox in North America are exaggerated, OCA included. I’ve heard claims of 1 million in the OCA. It’s actually closer to 75,000. Read and learn:

          The fact that the OCA is represented in Moscow at the Baptism of Rus’ celebration, among many other churches (some of which maintain dioceses on the supposed canonical territory of the OCA) is irrelevant. They are there to honor Russia, not to recognize the autocephaly of the OCA (which most don’t).

          • Thomas Jones says

            Clearly you have no clue. You don’t understand Orthodox Canon Law nor what Intercommunion within the Orthodox means. After the Council of Florence where Constantinople ans all the Patriarchs of the East fell into heresy by agreeing to reuniting with Rome, the Kievan/Rus threw out their appointed Bishop Isidore from Constantinople and declared their autocephaly. Constantinople, in heresy, refused to accept the Kievan/ Rus’ autocephaly for 150 years! Finally, after paying Constantinople a huge amount of gold, Constantinople recognized the autocephaly of the Kievan/ Rus. Do you think the OCA will pay Istanbul? Do you think the OCA will wait 150 years? Again, there are no Canon Laws stating who can or cannot grant autocephaly. Furthermore, Canon Law is clear, “FOREIGN BISHOPS HAVE NO AUTHORITY OUTSIDE THEIR OWN TERRITORY.” Therefore, the OCA is the ONLY Orthodox Church obeying Orthodox Canon Law. Istanbul, nor Moscow, nor Damascus has any authority in North America. However, via the Episcopal Assembly, Istanbul wants everyone to believe, according to the Diptychs, that the Greeks are 1st in North America and have authority over all. NON-CANONICAL. A false front built on lies.

          • Thomas Jones says

            Clearly you have no clue. You don’t understand Orthodox Canon Law nor what Intercommunion within the Orthodox means. After the Council of Florence where Constantinople ans all the Patriarchs of the East fell into heresy by agreeing to reuniting with Rome, the Kievan/Rus threw out their appointed Bishop Isidore from Constantinople and declared their autocephaly. Constantinople, in heresy, refused to accept the Kievan/ Rus’ autocephaly for 150 years! Finally, after paying Constantinople a huge amount of gold, Constantinople recognized the autocephaly of the Kievan/ Rus. Do you think the OCA will pay Istanbul? Do you think the OCA will wait 150 years? Again, there are no Canon Laws stating who can or cannot grant autocephaly. Furthermore, Canon Law is clear, “FOREIGN BISHOPS HAVE NO AUTHORITY OUTSIDE THEIR OWN TERRITORY.” Therefore, the OCA is the ONLY Orthodox Church obeying Orthodox Canon Law. Istanbul, nor Moscow, nor Damascus has any authority in North America. However, via the Episcopal Assembly, Istanbul wants everyone to believe, according to the Diptychs, that the Greeks are 1st in North America and have authority over all. NON-CANONICAL. A false front built on lies.

            • I leave you to your fantasies Thomas. If foreign bishops have no authority outside their own territories, then Constantinople never had any authority over the Church of Russia to begin with. This is obviously not the case as you stated above. Russia only acquired de facto autocephaly after Constantinople fell into heresy. If foreign bishops had no authority outside their own territory, then Moscow had no right to grant the Metropolia autocephaly, not having the authority to do so. Your reasoning is pretty awful. Good luck with that line of thought.

              And, by the way, the OCA has never given a rats tail about canon law. Take a quick look at its non-geographical ethnic dioceses (Romanian and Bulgarian) and you’ll see an example of this.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Dear Thomas–I think you paint with a brush that is too wide when you say “No divisions, just an absence of Istanbul and it’s cronies – cry baby losers.” First, it was the Patriarch of Alexandria (a traditional “crony” of Constantinople) who presided over the Divine Liturgy. Second, while Patriarch of Constantinople was not there, the patriarchate was certainly represented. I say these things as someone who is sceptical of Constantinople (as I am of Moscow) and who is in general agreement with you.

        • Bruce Wm. Trakas says

          In summary, the primary objection to the Church of Russia’s Tomos of Autocephaly upon the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Metropolia of 1970 was that it was a secretly negotiated bilateral activity between Moscow and the Metropolia, upon a region that was populated by a much larger group of canonical dioceses, an anomaly, but a reality. The ecclesiastical principle of “Concilarity,” (“Sobornost”) was ignored. It was also extraordinary to go immediately from a relationship of schism to autocephaly. The act of adding a new sister church to family of the Holy Orthodox Churches, without consultation with anyone, was inappropriate in Orthodox administrative practice, especially when the Patriarchate of Moscow had two years earlier conspired with the Ecumenical Patriarchate to reject the request of SCOBA for consideration of the canonically anomalous situation in the Western Hemisphere before the Preconciliar Commission for preparation of the Holy and Great Synod (Council), and while the Metropolia was a member of SCOBA. Maintenance and growth of Moscow’s so called Patriarchal Representation, a diocese except in name, 43 years after the Tomos, is a testament to the irregularity and failure of the Tomos.

          The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s recognition of the Orthodox Church in America as a “self-governed” church, but not recognizing it as a sister among the Holy Orthodox Churches, was a cleaver, benevolent, and loving manner to not break Communion with a Holy Church, not-with-standing its irregular administrative status.

          Also, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is represented at the Church of Russia’s celebration of the 1,025th Baptism of Rus’. The delegation is led by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France (a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, Mass., by the way).

          • George Michalopulos says

            Very good points, Mr Trakas. However it can be argued whether the already-existent other jurisdictions were indeed “canonical.” If we take into account the creation of the GOA, we know that the Phanar was forced by the Turkish government to let the Church of Greece create the first Greek parishes. This was after Patriarch Benjamin III of Constantinople had already recognized the Russian claim to North America.

            • Bruce Wm. Trakas says

              No doubt, George, the North American Russian Orthodox Archdiocese/Metropolia/OCA’s canonical claim to North America has some validity, but after the Bolshevik assumption of the Russian government in 1917, the Metropolia became dysfunctional. And a few years later, due to the law suites of the “Living Church,” it encouraged its parishes to distance themselves administratively from the Metropolia’s Central Administration. The Metropolia even lost its own primatial cathedral! Further, the Metropolia acknowledged that the Greeks were not affiliating with the Metropolia. And the minutes of the discussion within the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece when it was deliberating the creation of an Archdiocese of N. & S. America (1918), acknowledged the presence of a Russian bishop in America, but that the Greeks were not affiliating with him. And the Syro-Arab and Serbian jurisdictions within the Metropolia were breaking away seeking association with their mother churches.

              The proliferation of dioceses in North America ensued. Let’s face the fact too, all of the dioceses were experiencing quite a task convincing their faithful to affiliate with a diocesan entity, most being content being an island unto themselves. The Metropolia itself was not able to convince its parishes to approve administrative statutes until the mid-1950’s. So, by 1970, realistically, the multitude of canonical dioceses could not be ignored, whether they should have existed or not, whether the Russian Church had a valid claim to this region may have been part of the discussion, but it was essentially irrelevant by then. The Russian Church could not at that point realistically say, “Well, despite our Metropolia’s disfunctionality in the 1920’s, ’30’s, and ’40’s, despite our ‘anathema’ upon them, now, we’re restaking our claim and turning it over to the Metropolia, with which we weren’t in Communion only yesterday and for the prior 46 years.” What were the other members of SCOBA to do, dissolve and hope their parishes would sign up with the OCA? Another point pertinent to this matter, keep in mind, the Russian Orthodox Church aggressively demanded that the other Holy Orthodox Churches not commune or share relations with the Metropolia. Much at risk to pan-Orthodox relations, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of N. & S. America maintained relations and Communion with the Metropolia; likewise did other members of SCOBA. The Metropolia then suddenly secretly makes up with their Mother Church that had ostracized them for 46 years, and now they claim that they are “THE Autocephalos Orthodox Church in America!” Finally, consider what ROCOR said in its statement of non-recognition of the OCA’s Tomos, “The Greek [Orthodox] Archdiocese [is] larger and better organized.” The larger and better organized church is supposed to submit to “THE [new] Autocephalos Orthodox Church in America?” Come on, I don’t know who ever realistically thought anyone was going to buy into this new church. The Church of Russia reconciling with its daughter church, as an autonomous church, would have been welcomed by all, and we would not have had to go through the ensuing 20 years of stagnation in North American pan-Orthodox relations. In fact, my sense is that Russia would have preferred to grant an “autonomous” status as it granted to the Church of Japan, but it was the insistence of the Metropolia’s principals that resulted in the Tomos of Autocephaly.

              So while the Church of Russia’s claim to North America has some validity, it abrogated that claim because its daughter archdiocese had essentially dissolved as an administrative entity, (other than the spiritual relationship Metropolia parishes maintained by commemorating its Metropolitan,) coinciding with the proliferation of overlapping jurisdictions throughout the Americas.. This unfortunate reality cannot be ignored because of a historic claim.

              • Thomas Jones says

                Mr. Trakas,
                It’s obvious you are ROCOR and distort history. 1st, when Russia fell to the Communists in 1917 and tried to control the ROC and all diocese, Pat. Tikhon told all of its dioceses (including the Metropolia) to operate independently until the ROC could be normalized. Thus, the Metropolia did so. The Russian Orthodox Bishops in Exile went to Constantinople until kicked out (usurping authority not theirs) and ended up in Serbia. This disruption in the ROC in 1917 caused ethnic American parishes to turn to their own mother country patriarchs for priests and guidance. Thus, the American anomaly. The Metropolia continued its independence from the ROC and Communist influence and finally achieved it’s autocephaly in 1970. Strong relations with the ROC were re-established and after the Fall of Communism in 1989-90, even more so. ROCOR became a complete anomaly until its re-uniting with the ROC. Today, it is still an anomaly.

                • Bruce Wm. Trakas says


                  What did I write about the church’s history that is distorted?

                  You neglected to note that the Church of Russia imposed an “anathema” upon the Metropolia in 1924 (+/), and that it affiliated with ROCOR on and off during those years it was estranged from the Church of Russia. I agree ROCOR is in an anomalous situation, understandably, due to the extraordinary events following the Bolshevik Revolution.

                  I’m not in ROCOR; I’m in the GOAA. Just because I am critical of the process that the ROC and the OCA employed that resulted in the proclamation of the OCA’s autocephaly, does not mean that I oppose the OCA, having experienced the beauty and holiness of our Holy Orthodoxy in the OCA and ROCOR parishes I’ve worshiped at in my community.

                  • This is all very interesting and I think you have made some interesting points, but going down the diptychs how many of those churches have been granted autocephaly by the principals you’ve outlined here?

              • Really, the direction in which the Orthodox in America should have saluted was toward the Russian Church Abroad. The Metropolia was part of this church from 1920-1926 and from 1935-1946. However, there was much confusion during this whole period. Patriarch Meletios IV actually supported the Communist backed Living Church over the ROC in Russia even before the Bolsheviks broke the ROC and abandoned the Living Church project. The Metropolia was utterly fickle and with the ascent of Met. Platon, a throughly dishonest character who had a visceral hatred of Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky), the Metropolia left ROCOR for about a decade. In this confusion, and given the fact that the Greeks were essentially congregationalist during the period leading up to the Bolshevik Revolution, what ensued makes a certain amount of twisted sense. Meletios formed the Greek archdiocese under the Church of Greece, then took it to Constantinople with him (!?). Other national churches began going their separate ways.

                Now it is difficult to see in what direction to proceed if a unified American church is the goal. Constantinople is simply not respected outside of the Greek community here because of the silliness of Patriarch Bartholomew. The OCA appears to be self-destructing. Nonetheless, GOARCH seems to be doing fine administratively as are the other jurisdictions, for the most part. My guess is that we will have the status quo with the EA being irrelevant until there is another more able Patriarch of Constantinople. However, in the meantime, I don’t see why all the jurisdictions can’t engage in “healthy competition” to see who can be the most prolific, most evangelical (i.e., evangelize the most) and best expand their ministries. I suspect that the more tradition minded jurisdictions will have an advantage in this regard. Who knows what the landscape will look like when actual unification becomes a serious possibility?

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Not respected? Who again had the magically disappearing expensive wrist watch? Who is the shill for the Communist? Silliness goes both ways to Constandinople and
                  Moscow. Now lets again drop the stupid narratives and start having a real discussion.

                  Also, Christ’s Church does not and cannot compete with itself. If that happens the forces of evil win. You just end up with Abortion on demand, Gay Marriages, etc.

                  Oh wait…

                  Keep fighting the stupid fight while the atheist pick at our carcass.


                  • Peter,

                    No, Patriarch Bartholomew is not respected outside the Hellenosphere. It’s just a fact. They gave him the nickname “Black Bart” because of his unorthodox antics. Even the monks of Athos, under his omophorion, don’t like him and write letters detailing his misdeeds. Geez, grow up and face it.

                    As to Patriarch Kirill, though he is in fact widely respected and the Russian Church is one of the most trusted institutions in the country, I’m sure he has his moments just like we all do. Now, as far as being a shill for “the Communists” you are either lying or are so ignorant that you can’t carry on an intelligent discussion on the subject and need to read more about Russia’s recent political history. As it stands, all you’re doing is repeatedly demonstrating your own ignorance as to what the term “communist” means. That’s nothing to be proud of.

                    The “stupid narrative” is that something is going to come out of the EA’s and there’s really nothing much to discuss. Nothing much but parish lists has come out of it in the last couple of years and nothing of any greater value probably ever will. Expect in vain, if you must.

                    Christ’s Church can and does compete with itself and the Church wins when it does so. Those parishes who wish to be cosmopolitan and worldly, whose young people don’t even know that abortion is wrong and look on large families condescendingly are in a competition with more tradition minded parishes where the children are taught Orthodox morality and bigger families are the norm. The Church wins under those circumstances since the faction that follows God’s will will prosper and that that doesn’t will wither.

                    That’s the fight that needs to be fought, within the Church. But it is being fought and will continue to be fought regardless of silly distractions like the EA that only succeed in deceiving fools. In order for the gates of hell never to prevail against the Church, and they never will, the Lord prunes his vine from time to time. Get over it, grow up and realize that discussions are not going to solve any perceived problems. It’s what is done that matters. The whole EA thing is talk, talk, talk, full of sound a fury, signifying nothing. What will actually decide the future course and character of Orthodoxy in America is what’s being done day to day in the parishes and the contrasting policies of the various synods. They can either choose tradition and life or modernist/cosmopolitanism and death. Discussions like this are irrelevant except, hopefully, to relieve people of unrealistic expectations. The decisive activity is going on out there regardless of what either of us want to happen.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Misha, I don’t disagree with you, it’s just that I think we should recognize who are cobelligerents and allies are. Peter and a growing cohort within the GOA who are disgusted with the dearth of spirituality in the GOA are definitely allies. Peter’s criticisms of some of the ROC’s antics need to be accepted as well, otherwise it devolves into a game of “my daddy can beat up your daddy.” If Kirill wanted to make a good-faith effort to show that he’s on the side of the angels, he could have come to the OCA’s aid last year or insist that ROCOR/MP merge into the OCA.

                      Having said all that, if I had to choose between a foreign patriarch ruling the American church, it’d be Kirill hands-down.

                    • George,

                      I think there is a misperception on the Cpole side about my motives and allegiances. I don’t really see it as a Russian v. Greek rivalry but as a modernist v. traditionalist rivalry, Russian heritage notwithstanding. You are Greek and belong to an OCA parish. I am part Russian on my mother’s side and belong to a Greek parish (at least or the moment). My godfather is Greek and I formerly taught Sunday school. I know whereof I speak.

                      Though there are many things about GOARCH that make me uncomfortable, I could be happy as a clam in any traditional parish whether Russian, Serb or Old Calendar Greek. In fact, the type of music I am most familiar with is Byzantine (ironically) and so Old Calendar Greek would be ideal. If the Patriarch of Constantinople were a traditionalist, like a monk from Athos, for instance, and the Patriarch of Moscow were a modernist, like the folks that run GOARCH, I would still be saying that traditionalism will persevere and modernism will not.

                      Really, I don’t think that there is much danger of a unified church developing here in America. Not only is it the interests of the foreign patriarchs which stands in the way but the ethnocentric character of many Orthodox in this country, especially the older families who have a loud voice in church decisions. They want to keep their little ponds dominated by their ethnic groups, not by converts. It’s like a family business to them, in a way. “The Americans have their own churches, why do they want ours?” is a comment I’ve heard more than once. Even when it is unspoken, the attitude remains underneath it all as the elephant in the room.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Misha, I completely agree with you. I couldn’t have said it better myself (and wished I had): the Moscow/Cpole has become shorthand for what really is at stake here: the traditionalist/modernist rivalry. In a better world, monks from Athos would be populating the entire Synod of C’pole and one of them would be elected EP. Sigh.

                    • Mike Myers says

                      “. . .I think there is a misperception on the Cpole side about my motives and allegiances. I don’t really see it as a Russian v. Greek rivalry but as a modernist v. traditionalist rivalry, Russian heritage notwithstanding.

                      . . . I would still be saying that traditionalism will persevere and modernism will not.”

                      Your dichotomy between traditionalism and modernism begs a lot of questions, I think. You put it even more tendentiously in a post upthread:

                      . . . What will actually decide the future course and character of Orthodoxy in America is what’s being done day to day in the parishes and the contrasting policies of the various synods. They can either choose tradition and life or modernist/cosmopolitanism and death. Discussions like this are irrelevant . . .

                      Some questionable assumptions here. Tradition small t is not or at least should not be held as immune from critical scrutiny, on one hand. On the other, what some like to invidiously label as “modernist” may sometimes be nothing less than signs of the Holy Spirit in action, seems to me, shining fresh, new Light on ancient truths. Christ was crucified on false charges of blasphemy, and of “modernism.” But underneath the surface of history’s worst judicial crime was this: His hospitality, generosity and competence put his accusers to shame. These things, and the fact that H/he genuinely had something real, true and powerful to give: the words of life, which drew crowds. Unlike them. Unforgivable.

                      Cosmopolitanism is one of those unfortunate coinages that seem almost designed to torpedo communication and insight among Christians. First because it’s become an -ism, an ideology, and also because of its root meaning: world city. Two words with an unsavory provenance only compounded by the compounding. But originally, cosmopolitan had a benign and, I would have thought, to a Pauline, Orthodox Christian, unobjectionable primary denotation: Philosophical cosmopolitans are moral universalists: they believe that all humans, and not merely fellow church members or fellow-citizens, are subject to the same ethical norms. The distinction to be discerned here is between the ethics of Babylon and those of New Jerusalem.

                      Really, I don’t think that there is much danger of a unified church developing here in America. Not only is it the interests of the foreign patriarchs which stands in the way but the ethnocentric character of many Orthodox in this country, especially the older families who have a loud voice in church decisions. They want to keep their little ponds dominated by their ethnic groups, not by converts. It’s like a family business to them, in a way. “The Americans have their own churches, why do they want ours?” is a comment I’ve heard more than once. Even when it is unspoken, the attitude remains underneath it all as the elephant in the room.

                      This about sums it up. “I don’t think that there is much danger of a unified church developing here in America” is a provocative way to preface your testimony, though. Is “much danger” meant ironically, or not? Regardless, the phyletism you testify of, and which I feel fairly certain is indeed all too real, is heretical. Just a reminder.

                      Συνήκατε ταῦτα πάντα; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ, Ναί. 52ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Διὰ τοῦτο πᾶς γραμματεὺς μαθητευθεὶς τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν ὅμοιός ἐστιν ἀνθρώπῳ οἰκοδεσπότῃ ὅστις ἐκβάλλει ἐκ τοῦ θησαυροῦ αὐτοῦ καινὰ καὶ παλαιά.

                      Does anyone know the Aramaic equivalent of καινὰ? If there is one.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Excellent points, Mr Myers. And all of us should be circumspect and humble in our critiques. Having said that, there is a hallmark that helps us properly discern that which is of the Spirit and that which isn’t. Looking at only the GOA here, we can compare the “traditionalist” spirit that is found in the Athonite monasteries to the “modernist” spirit that obtains in all too many of the parishes. Which phenomenon is growing? Which one is addressing the needs of the laity? As for the Syosset/ROCOR divide, which one is growing? I don’t pretend to have the answers but like Will Rogers, all I know is what I get from the newspapers.

                      It’s by their fruits that ye will know them. That’s one reason I don’t get all Ortho-triumphalist regarding other Christian denominations. Where are our hospitals? Our orphanages? Our soup-kitchens?

                    • Mike,

                      Just briefly to address a few points:

                      1. One can see modern America and the modern Western world in terms of Orthodox Tradition or one can see Orthodox Tradition in terms of norms of the modern Western world. The former is a traditionalist, the latter a modernist. It is a staple of Orthodox Modernism to stress the distinction between large T and small t tradition. This is usually done in pursuit of dispensing with some facets of Holy Tradition which are alleged to be merely custom.

                      2. It is also a staple of modernists in the OCA to condemn “phyletism” as a heresy based on the local council held at Constantinople in 1872. Those who make this claim seldom mention that it was a) merely a local council, of b) Greeks, whose c) ox had been gored by Bulgarians who were d) being discriminated against by said Greeks in terms of church offices and liturgical language. To put it another way, a local phyletist council condemned phyletism as a heresy. Moreover, if this council were to be taken seriously, very few if any Orthodox on earth would not be heretics since we are all in communion with those who have ethnic jurisdictions.

                      3. I don’t normally have these types of conversations. I turned my back on the Schmemann/Meyendorff school of thought long ago and do not consider it to be mainstream Orthodox thought as exemplified over the ages. It is no use talking to neo-Patristics, they are impervious to evidence. In Russia and Eastern Europe, this approach (neo-Patristicism) is increasingly seen as quasi-Uniate. The neo-Patristics did a considerable amount for the Church, and a considerable amount of damage to the Church in the Western world which will take some time to undo.

                      BTW: The Aramaic of Matthew 13:52 can be found here:
                      It won’t copy to this site though.

                    • BTW Mike,

                      I wasn’t accusing you of being a modernist. I just think it is important to be wary of the neo-Patristic philosophical subculture within western Orthodoxy (especially the OCA). For someone outside the Church and looking in, it is possible to mistake that as the testimony of the Church of the Ages, which it is not.

                  • Mike Myers says

                    Peter, I never get an answer from anyone who professes real knowledge about the contemporary Russian church to a question that I think screams to heaven for an answer: did he or did he not personally make hundreds of millions or more (some say billions) selling cigarettes and alcohol while taking advantage of the tax-free exemption granted the ROC to undercut the competition? Did this happen or not? Is it a lie, or is it true? I wonder if Misha would care or dare to comment on this scandal. Or anyone else in a position to know the facts.

                    This story is out there, it comes from Russia, and if it’s true, that matters hugely.

                    To someone on the outside looking in to Orthodoxy and impressed, at least on paper and at least relative to Catholic theology and praxis, I cannot understand the legitimacy of the offices of Patriarch and Metropolitan, whatever the canons may dictate here. Those offices, together with unwholesome theological/economic/political ferment initiated by emperors, czars and other autocrats, for purposes alien to human spiritual development, seem to me to be the primary human root of much of the trouble in the Orthodox Church over the centuries. Analogous problems in the West take different forms, but this matters less there, arguably, because of all the distortions that have crept into Catholic theology. Orthodoxy at its best could unify Christendom in truth, but the corruptions at the top are a huge factor in its occultation. “Conservatives” generally have a dangerous blind spot to the malignant consequences of iniquitous structures of power that develop over a span of centuries but, because they are “traditional” and in alignment with the ideologies of altar and throne or Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality that are congenial to them, these structures are allowed to fester into more and more corruption, until disaster strikes. “Liberals” in reaction against perfectly evident corruption tend to err along opposite vectors.

                    • Mike,

                      As to the truth of the “scandalous allegations” regarding monopolies on certain kinds of tobacco and alcohol products, I have heard the story and – – my ears not perceiving it as scandalous – – simply assumed it was true. The only part I question was whether the current Patriarch personally profited to the extent you imply or whether it was done primarily to enhance income to the ROC. What I heard was that it was the latter and the line of attack of his enemies is therefore to paint Patriarch Kirill as a corrupt profiteer.

                      When the Soviet Union collapsed, there were only about 7000 churches in operation in a country which spans 9 or more time zones. Formerly, under the tsars, there had been almost 60,000. Now they are back up to around 35,000. The funds for this little endeavor did not grow on trees.

                      As to hierarchy and autocracy, personally, I think that is something you just have to get over if you want to be Orthodox. There is actually no other mechanism of which I am aware for the calling of a Great and Holy Synod but for the Christian emperor to do so. So much in Orthodoxy assumes autocratic government that to say that it is illegitimate strains credulity. That does not mean that every Orthodox has to be a monarchist. Opinions differ. But we do have a greater tolerance for authoritarian rule and its in the DNA of the Church. We bow and prostrate to the saints and kiss their hands and feet on the icons. We touch the ground before receiving a priest’s blessing. We address a bishop as “Master”. None of this comes from the Enlightenment.

                    • Mike Myers says

                      . . . The only part I question was whether the current Patriarch personally profited to the extent you imply or whether it was done primarily to enhance income to the ROC.

                      Only asking questions provoked by what’s being said “out there.” Last year, when I’d first heard this story I asked if anyone here at the time knew the facts of the case, because what I heard sorta shocked me. It seemed almost incredible, maybe not as shocking as some of the things we hear about RC bishops but still very disheartening.

                      I claim absolutely zero solid knowledge of the relevant facts, am privy to no reliable sources whatsoever and am the first to admit it. Little idea what the full story is, or, if this report is basically factual, how much of the profits he personally pocketed. All I know for sure was 1) it appeared that some Russians were making disturbing claims about this man’s business activities in the 90s, and 2) I haven’t heard any rebuttals of the core assertions in the claims. Maybe credible denials are out there, but I just don’t know about them.

                      Anyway, this is my business only to the extent that it might be for any American like myself who’s seriously inquiring into Orthodoxy. It’s a story circulating about the primate of the largest body of Orthodox Christians in the world, elected by the ROC hierarchy well after these things allegedly occurred and therefore presumably well-known and not thought at all disqualifying — possibly, just the reverse. Again, if basically true.

                      This is a man you say is “widely respected,” unlike “Black Bart,” whom you rather gravely impugn in this thread: “black hole at the top,” silly, arrogant, telling lies, etc. You make perfectly clear that your readers should regard the motives of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Phanar with deep suspicion, while your take on the current ROC hierarchy and this MP is obviously far more favorable and benign. You communicate these positions, and others, with an air of great authority and self-confidence.

                      An American convert to Orthodoxy has to choose a “jurisdiction.” The GOAA and the various jurisdictions deriving directly from the MP, which includes the OCA, are the main options here of course, with by far the most parishes and members. You noted above that the nature and policies of the various ruling synods are going to be major factors determining future conditions in their respective churches. That seems true, so trying to get some grasp of it seems sensible and prudent before making a choice. I’m interested in the facts to get better insight into the ROC and its priorities and this is why I’ve asked. Maybe others in a similar position will find the information useful.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Your critique of the ROC would carry more weight if you were as easily vexed by the rampant corruption that exists in other patriarchates. You will forgive me but in my experience, those who are sympathetic to modernism/ecumenism tend to give the See of Constantinople a free pass in matters financial.

                    • Fair enough, Mike. I’m not in the tank for Moscow, I just admire what they have done, in general. As to their missteps, the only one of which I am aware that resonated with me as a genuine mistake was the thing about the expensive watch. Intrigue over Ukrainian churches and allegations that somehow, somewhere Patriarch Kirill must have a bank account with over a billion dollars in it (for what, retirement? Patriarchs usually die in office) have not really impressed me. Airbrushing an expensive watch out of a picture on your own website and denying the whole faux pas seems like poor judgment. However, it’s the cover up, not the underlying “scandal” that is unfortunate. If someone gave him an expensive watch and he wore it – – well, to me that’s not a big deal. Nonetheless, I don’t think people make a big deal of such things unless they have an axe to grind against the Patriarchate to begin with, which really is the point of his spokesman’s response.

            • Trudge at SmartVote says


              Please take a look at Pope Francis’ comments in Brazil, as it has bearing on our Orthodox crisis of leadership.


              Note the connection he makes between outward preaching and the riddance of the “mundane” that parishes so often occupy themselves with (cultural festivals, feeding themselves, etc.).

              From the story:

              He told the thousands of youngsters, with an estimated 30,000 Argentines registered, to get out into the streets and spread their faith and make a “mess,” saying a church that doesn’t go out and preach simply becomes a civic or humanitarian group.

              “I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!” he said, speaking off the cuff in his native Spanish. “I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!”

  11. A Roman Catholic Anomaly says
    • lexcaritas says

      He is “still a devout Catholic who stands by his priestly vows.” Nonsense.


      • Michael Bauman says

        It is the acceptance of the natural and a denial of the greater reality of life that inter-penetrates everything; a denial of the power of sacrament. I question if he ever understood the priesthood or the Catholic Church.

        It is a problem, perhaps, that stems from the natural law orientation. Natural law is too often transposed into the law of nature. Man is immutably the way he is, sex is the most powerful passion for most folks so go with it.

  12. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    On a final note I actually agree with much of what Misha says, not all, but most. I have also argued before, and continue to argue that if we cannot call our bishops by their rightful titles, such as Ecumenical Patriarch, then it cuts both ways, and I and other “Greek” cronies, whatever that means, have every right to call the Patriarch of Moscow the Communist Patriarch or Archbishop of Moscow.

    So, to Thomas and others who continue to push this BS can we drop this and have a real substantive discussion about the future of American Orthodoxy? Because I, as a cradle Greek Orthodox, want that, while other pro-Slavs talk a good talk but just want everything Russian, or can’t seem to see Antioch and the EP still being Orthodox even with pews, I mean grow up already. Do you want unity or do you want unity as long as its Russian?

    Also, did the EP depose Jonah? Did the Greeks cause the damage to the OCA? You blame the Greeks for damage that Moscow allowed to happen and the OCA did to itself. However, because the OCA has no pews it’s much better than the Greeks and Antiochians. PLEASE, give it a rest. This is so old and all we are doing is going in circles.

    If anybody wants to get off this train, please do so and then we can have a real discussion. I’ll wait to see that happen.


    • George Michalopulos says

      Peter, Misha, et al, I think we need to give the whole Moscow/Cpole rivalry thing a rest as well. All of the Old World Patriarchates have done us a huge disservice by making rivals of us all. As Peter has observed, because of hotheads like myself, we’re more interested in fighting over who’s more Orthopraxic while Rome burns around us. Also, the OCA cannot and will not escape the blame for its horrendous self-destruction, which not only hurt it personally, but delegitimized its entire raison d’etre. Like Ham, it exposed its father’s nakedness for the entire world to see. (Who will be Shem and Japheth to cover up Noah’s shame?)

      Am I willing to turn the other cheek, then? Let’s frame it differently: information has gotten back to me that the EA process is pretty much dead in the water, something I always suspected would happen sooner or later. It’s so for a variety of reasons but one of the most germane is that the Archons are tired of shelling out money for it, probably because all of the non-EP-affiliated bishops are pretty much united in their opposition to GOA domination. We see examples of this with the unanimous resolution passed by the AOCNA delegates in Houston yesterday, in which they condemned the EP (through his proxy the Patriarch of Jerusalem) for encroaching on the See of Antioch’s territory.

      The inability of the EA to come to even a minimalistic agreement on DOMA is more than a symptom of the same NCC dynamic in which the liberal minority bends the conservative majority to its will (the same majority which provides the NCC with theological cover), it’s a sign of the dearth of spirituality that is endemic to the ecumenist See of Constantinople since the start of the incumbent’s reign. (One could push this tragic legacy back to the patriarchate of Meletius IV Metaxakis who swallowed the modernist/ecumenist brew wholeheartedly.) It’s tragic really, because Bartholomew has his gifts and he’s played a weak hand very well. There was nothing wrong –and a lot right–with the Chambesy process for correcting the canonical anomalies in the “diaspora.” The problem was that despite its stated purpose, it was not executed in good faith.

      And so we Americans are left to our own devices. The question is, will we recognize our alone-ness but turn our hearts towards God and go forward with the fullness of faith, or will we yoke ourselves to a failed paradigm and wither on the SCOBA vine for another generation?

      • Agreed George,

        Peter and Thomas and I are never going to see eye to eye. We just come from such different perspectives. All I have really been saying all along is what you just wrote: We should not expect much of anything from the EA.

      • Thomas Jones says

        “Also, the OCA cannot and will not escape the blame for its horrendous self-destruction, which not only hurt it personally, but delegitimized its entire raison d’etre.”

        I don’t know how you come up with this stuff. “Delegitimize?” How? Explain. “Self-destruction?” How? Explain.
        The only problem the OCA had was putting people in places of power who didn’t belong. RSK was a huge mistake pushed into power by + Herman. + Herman himself was mortgaging (re-financing) property for $$$ without permission. Then with + Jonah, he was making unilateral decisions without the Synod’s approval. No delitimizing; no self-destruction; only bad leadership.

        • George Michalopulos says

          So Jonah acted “unilaterally” doing what exactly? Preach the Gospel? Uphold Tradition? If this be unilateralism, we need more of it.

          • Thomas Jones says

            You still can’t get over + Jonah, can you? Wasn’t it you and + Tikhon here calling for RSK to re-instated to save the OCA? How much more does he have to steal? Again, it was the Synod who relieved + Jonah of his leadership and one of their claims for doing so was that he was acting unilaterally in many areas. Maybe + Jonah got it wrong and thought when he was elected, it was for Pope!

            • Oh Brother-dude if +Jonah was acting unilaterally so were the other OCA Bishops. Wake up.

        • Thomas Jones,

          If you are going to make accusations you should at least know your history. Fr. Kondratick was the Chancellor since 1989, long before +Herman was the Metropolitan. What you know about Fr. Kondratick I would suspect is what you have read on the Internet, and possibly from OCAN.

          Yes, +Herman mortgaged and re-morgtaged St. Tikhon’s, but with the full knowledge of the STS Board, the Synod. It was no big secret.

          As for +Jonah and his “unilateral” decisions, again that is just more OCAN smoke and the baloney of Bishop Benjamin, Fr. Garklavs, Fr. Kishkovsky and Fr. Jillions.

          If you are going to just reprise the muck from the usual sources, at least say so. We here have heard this crap time and time again and it part of the self-destruction of the OCA.

          Please note that the only way the OCA was able to serve this week in Russia and Ukraine was because the OCA would not be mentioned in the diptychs during the Great Entrance. That was at the insistence of the EP and the willing acceptance of the MP.

          As for bad OCA leadership. You got it – in spades and they are still in power.

          So much for the OCA being a real presence in the “Motherland.”

          • geo michalopulos says

            James, thank you for setting the record straight. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Jonah’s tenure will be looked upon as the high point of the OCA’s history.

            Tikhon, though a fine man in many ways, is an empty shirt. I would be willing to cut him all the slack he needs to clean up the mess in Syosset and at St Nicholas, but the Kishkovskyite/Syosseteers won’t let him. Indeed, they won’t let anybody.

          • Thomas Jones says


            RSK was the protege of + Herman at STOTS before going to Syosset. RSK was + Herman’s hand-picked, fair-haired boy at STOTS and pushed him into Syosset. So, both RSK & + Herman were corrupt – surprise, surprise! + Herman did the re-mortgaging without the full knowledge of the OCA Synod. In fact, it was almost a secret. + Jonah definitely overstepped his authority and was warned 3-4 times, but continued. This is why the Synod voted “UNANIMOUSLY” to dismiss him as Primate. There is no self-destruction of the OCA only re-realignment of leadership. Give it a rest with Russia & the Ukraine. Both fully recognize the OCA as their daughter church. + Bart has no say-so in Russia or the Ukraine; as it should be. He has no authority in N. America, only within his own territory!

            • lexcaritas says

              Mr. Jones, to pass on erroneous information willfully and deliberately is to make the lie one’s one. I know nothing of the history of RSK or Herman, but a number of us here followed the troubles between +JONAH and the Synod quite closely. +JONAH did NOT definitely oversteop his authority. That is your opinion and apparently the opinion of some, but many saw the matter differently. Furthermore, theSynod did NOT vote unimously to dismiss him as Primate. He was told by the Chancellor that the Synod was uninous in its desire for him to resign. He did not verify this assertion, but acceded to what he thought was a uninmous request and tendered his resignation. The request had apparently come from the Lesser Synod. When the entire Synod met by phone to consider whether to accept +JONAH’s resignation is was reported that Bishop Michael asked him why he was had chosen to resign–proving that it had not been unanimous to that point.


          • Thomas Jones says


            RSK was the protege of + Herman at STOTS before going to Syosset. RSK was + Herman’s hand-picked, fair-haired boy at STOTS and pushed him into Syosset. So, both RSK & + Herman were corrupt – surprise, surprise! + Herman did the re-mortgaging without the full knowledge of the OCA Synod. In fact, it was almost a secret. + Jonah definitely overstepped his authority and was warned 3-4 times, but continued. This is why the Synod voted “UNANIMOUSLY” to dismiss him as Primate. There is no self-destruction of the OCA only re-realignment of leadership. Give it a rest with Russia & the Ukraine. Both fully recognize the OCA as their daughter church. + Bart has no say-so in Russia or the Ukraine; as it should be. He has no authority in N. America, only within his own territory!

            • George Michalopulos says

              1. Too bad, Fr Kondratick was appointed by Methodius and approved be the then-synod. To continue to paint him as a protégé of Herman is tendentious.

              2. What do you mean that it was “mostly” a secret? Is that like being “almost” a virgin? It’s either secret or it isn’t. If it was wrong the Synod bears just as much responsibility. If the Synod would have wanted to exonerate themselves they would have brought Herman up on charges. End of story.

              3. What exactly did Jonah do that was “unilateral”? Please give a specific. Mind you however that I will kindly reinform you about Bishop Benjamin’s interference in Alaskan politics. BTW, I have absolutely no problem in principle with Benjamin’s actions there. He’s a bishop, he is obligated to uphold and preach the Gospel as best he sees fit. We can quibble about the details.

              4. “Re-alignment of leadership”? Is that why there are so many vacant dioceses?

              5. BTW, they did NOT vote “unanimously” to dismiss Jonah. There was no “unanimous” vote by the entire Synod. He was told that the Lesser Synod voted unanimously and that their votes reflected the overwhelming consensus of the Synod. That is not “unanimous.” And anyway, even if every last man-jack of them voted overwhelmingly and enthusiastically to remove him, it was still illegal, uncanonical, and civilly actionable as no Synod can meet, nor even be unanimous by definition, without the chairmanship of the Primate. That would be like the Congress passing a law without the President’s signature. Only by overruling his veto by a 2/3 majority can the law be enacted. In either case, the President is aware of the legal process each step of the way.

              • Thomas Jones says

                1) RSK was + Herman’s right-hand person at STOTS before being pushed into Syosset.

                2) + Herman did the re-mortgaging of monastery property under his signature very quietly. Who knew besides him, don’t know. Certainly not the Synod.

                3 + Jonah was making speeches and formulating “policy” without the Synod’s approval of his policies.

                4) Vacant diocese of bishops is a good thing. People have time to choose the right person to lead as bishop. No one is being thrown into vacancies.

                5) I don’t know. The entire Synod signed the dismissal papers of + Jonah.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Mr Jones, your points one and two are fallacious and unprovable. Merely reasserting them doesn’t make them true.

                  Point #3 is arguable in some points but unless you can state them clearly, you are probably going to lose that argument as well. Even so, it’s a remarkable comedown from your earlier accusation that he acted “unilaterally.” I suppose that’s an improvement.

                  Point #4 is (how shall I say it?) is completely insane. You may not know it but parish priests need guidance as well. And let’s not forget that the office of bishop is a teaching office. If vacant dioceses are “a good thing,” would not “vacant parishes” be a better thing? If we’re going to be Congregationalist we should pull out all the stops and be Congregationalist and be done with it once and for all. You then compound the insanity by saying that these vacancies allow the “[p]eople [to] have time to choose the right person to lead as bishop.” Pray tell, where has this happened recently? The most the Diocese of the South could do is prevent a bishop from hacking more email accounts. We’re still not out of the woods yet.

                  In point #5, you seem to have backtracked significantly from your assertion that Jonah’s resignation was unanimous. Obviously you have come to the realization that because a) Jonah is a bishop, b) Jonah is on the synod, and c) he wasn’t present, then the action requesting his resignation was ipso facto not unanimous. Unfortunately you then lurk off yet again into fantasy land by asserting that “the entire Synod signed the dismissal papers of Jonah.” If memory serves the only signed document was the one signed by bishop Matthias. I distinctly remember a letter put out by the Synod that did not contain the signatures of the said Synod, only the designation “the Holy Synod.”

                  If I’m wrong about point #5 I’ll gladly correct the record.

                  • George,

                    This Thomas Jones is just another Syosset shill. The bottom line is that the OCA is a legend in their own mind. When world Orthodoxy gathered in Moscow makes a point of changing the Divine Liturgy to admit the irregularity of the OCA, it means that even Moscow can’t defend the OCA when push comes to shove.

                    It is just a matter of time before the OCA will slip under the waves either has part of the Russian Orthodox Church, their Mother Church, or a sideways move back to Moscow so that it can disappear in a united Orthodox Church here in the USA. Either way, the sooner the better.

                    All the Thomas Jones out there can do is repeat the same old stuff in a desperate attempt to legitimate the illegitimate. The only thing the OCA got out of their junket to Rus was photo ops and reports from a very strange chancellor who writes as if the OCA had never been to Russia before. Weird guy.

                    • Thomas Jones says

                      Not a Syosset shill. No change in the Liturgy to accommodate the OCA except in your mind. The OCA is firmly considered by Moscow as a daughter church and completely legitimate. (Are you ROCOR?) The OCA will slip no where. The OCA has a plethora of well-educated priests and growing churches, except in your mind. The OCA was invited to attend the Kievan/Rus celebration as an autocephalous church with close connections to Russia and the Ukraine. The current OCA Chancellor is well-versed in Russian & Greek practice as well as languages; nothing weird here. You’re just filled with disinformation, aren’t you?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Mr Jones, it appears I congratulated too soon. If the OCA were truly an autocephalous church in spirit, and as you say, have a “plethora of well-educated priests,” then we should have no trouble filling all of the diocesan vacancies. These vacancies (and the vacuous excuses given by the powers that be as to why they continue to be vacant) give the lie that we are a mature church.

                      I’ll leave aside the fact for now that Russia should have put its foot down and given ROCOR and the MP parishes orders to have joined the OCA some few years ago. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: the OCA will be kept propped up as long as it suits Moscow’s purposes and provided that Syosset doesn’t embarrass itself too much.

                    • Thomas,

                      We will leave it to history to finally record the plus/minus record of the OCA but few but the most isolated can conclude that the OCA has lived up to its autocephelous church status. Its creation was at a unique intersection of history when the desires of the then Metropolia king-makers and the MP led by KGB bishop Metropolitan Nikodim (who later died under mysterious circumstances in Rome) came together. It served both their purposes, yet history continues and the world does not stop in 1970.

                      Since then the OCA, for a brief time, captured the potential imagination of a means to Orthodox administrative unity in the USA, have not only failed in that effort but now are on the outside looking in as history has moved passed them. While it would be easy to indict specific people, better to look at the larger picture. Once a major player in local Orthodoxy here, the OCA now is not and worse can be viewed as an impediment to the goal of Orthodox unity here.

                      You may object to the call of the EP (which has been consistent) in its call for the OCA to go back to under its Mother Church (Russia) as a necessary step to overcome a major obstacle to administrative unity. I believe that Orthodox unity can take place here if turf wars between jurisdictions can be overcome. The questionable status of the OCA only makes this goal more difficult. One less turf war is helpful.

                      Although in its past, leaders of the OCA stated publicly and without reservation, Met. Theodosius in 1999 at the Sobor in Pittsburgh, that if giving up its autocephelous status was the necessary step to Orthodox unity, the OCA would do so. However, it now seems that the OCA Synod has no interest in giving something up to gain the greater prize of real administrative unity. This is a sad reality made more problematic by the way it treated their former Primates. Credibility is earned, not a gift because one says so or even demands it.

                      You are correct that the MP invited the OCA to Moscow/Kiev/Minsk for the 1025 Celebration. It had to, otherwise it would be openly throwing the OCA under the bus in worldwide Orthodoxy. The OCA, as weak and dysfunctional as it is, is still a bargaining chip that Moscow can use in its own local strategies, namely the Ukrainian Orthodox Church without the EP in the Ukraine, and Estonia, for example. The fact that Moscow agreed to the EA format, as did all other Orthodox Churches, was a clear signal that where un canonical parallel Orthodox jurisdictions living side by side must be solved. This was a shot across the bow of the OCA by Moscow and set a ticking clock for long term OCA existence.

                      Deals have always been made in this regard. One only need point to the creation of the OCA in 1970. For that to happen the OCA gave up its relationship with the Church of Japan, which came under the MP.

                      With the advent of the reunification of the MP and the ROCOR, the ban on the MP starting new parishes on the territory of the OCA was practically abrogated since ROCOR can start as many parishes, monasteries, etc on the territory of the OCA. Thus the MP, de facto, is alive and well back in the USA, Canada and Mexico, where they are free via the ROCOR to grow without obstacle, and they are, faster than the OCA these days.

                      All of this, and more, indicates that the OCA can survive as an isolated and ambiguous church which is its current status. The OCA in 1970 traded in its then ambiguous Metropolia status for they though would be a better one, but some 43 years later, the OCA is still ambiguous.

                      George points out that the OCA is not able to fill its own episcopal ranks. Alaska, the South, now the Midwest, are without local bishops. A viable Church must be able to repopulate its bishop ranks, if not, what does that say about its internal life? The fact that the OCA has had to go outside itself to find bishops says something about what it claims to be. ROCOR, smaller than the OCA has no problem filling its vacant ranks. The Antiochians are expanding their ranks of bishops.

                      The OCA presence at the local EA is not as a Sister Orthodox Church, a Local Church, but as the last in rank of Churches here. That is a sign of the real rank of the OCA here. The ROCOR is placed in a higher place of rank and honor. All of this goes to show that if the OCA is truly committed to its own vision of one Orthodox Church in America, then it will need to face reality and stop trying to pretend or try and gain legitimacy by trips to Russia and rather grow up and concede that what it brings to the table here at the EA is not THE answer (speeches by Archbishop Nathaniel, for example) but brings a part of the answer. If it will solve its own ambiguous status it can stop being an obstacle to unity and speak with an unimpeachable voice.

                    • James,

                      I’m curious, do you have any solid evidence on the Ukrainian angle? This is not a criticism but a genuine inquiry. I have heard the rumor that somehow the MP reached some type of understanding with Constantinople – – MP relaxes regarding the OCA and Constantinople quits interfering in the Ukraine.

                      However, I have never really grasped the logic of such an arrangement and always assumed it was just disinformation put out by Constantinople, something they are certainly not above. I say this because I question the motivations of the parties; i.e., why they would find it in their best interest to make such an arrangement.

                      Specifically, from Moscow’s perspective, I don’t see what would motivate them. There is already schism in the Ukraine but the lion’s share of Ukrainian Orthodox are under the MP. The best insurance against the interference of the Phanar is having a Moscow friendly government running things from Kiev since the whole thing revolves around Ukrainian nationalism. As it stands, Moscow perpetually reaffirms its decision regarding OCA’s autocephaly in the way it addresses its primate and in press releases in which the OCA is mentioned. However, in a number of other ways, it appears not to take the OCA’s autocephaly seriously. But this could not be a change pursuant to an agreement with C’pole since this attitude predates the possibility of such an understanding. The reconciliation with ROCOR was in 2007. The Patriarchal parishes are more longstanding. The supposed agreement would have originated around the time the EA’s were conceived at Chambesy in 2009.

                      The OCA is basically on its own unless and until it folds under its own corruption and mismanagement. As you mention, ROCOR is expanding. I’m not sure exactly what the MP would have promised to do (or not do) in exchange for the supposed benefit of the Phanar’s non-interference in the Ukraine. They seem to be proceeding full speed ahead on all fronts. I mean, I dare say that expanding ROCOR certainly doesn’t make unification under C’pole more likely.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                “Civilly actionable”, George?

                No, at least it is not that, thank God, however bad it is otherwise.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        As so often, an interesting clash of viewpoints!

        My tiny contribution: hierarchy, yes; autocracy, no. I’m an American descended from Englishmen, after all!

    • Mike Myers says

      Peter, I read your posts here with respect and interest, fwiw. I hope you’ve read Fr. Schmemann’s learned, insightful and, to me, completely persuasive 1965 article. I can’t recommend it too strongly. I see more in it each time I read it. Any thoughtful person who discusses the issues related to Orthodoxy in America should pore over it carefully, prayerfully, and probably repeatedly. All three in the “Problems of Orthodoxy in America” series are great — this one’s a standout, brilliant and seminal.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Thank you for the link. I shall read it carefully when I have more time. I want the canonical situation corrected here in America as much as anybody else, but how do we go about doing it? Right now I am hoping in the EA sharing in people’s skeptism, but hoping for the best.


        • Thomas Jones says


          “I want the canonical situation corrected here in America as much as anybody else, but how do we go about doing it?”

          SCOBA in 1961 told all the Canonical Orthodox Churches how to do it. They agreed to create and work toward an autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America that all SCOBA bishops would join. Fr. Alexander Schmemann who attended all the SCOBA meetings by invitation, made this a reality in 1970. In fact, SCOBA said that this newly created autocephalous church should be called, “The Orthodox Church in America.” Once an autocephalous church was established, the Romanians joined, the Albanians, the Bulgarians and others, but the Greeks and Antiochians reneged. Think of where the Church in North America would be today if the Greeks & Antiochians joined the OCA 43 years ago? Instead, they continued the division and the Greeks even tried to discredit the OCA’s autocephaly with extremely silly arguments. Even in 1994 when the Antiochians & Greeks tried again at Ligonier with some form of unity agreement, + Bart forcefully retired + Iakavos and emasculated all the other Greek bishops. So you see, SCOBA told us how to go forward with unity in 1961, Fr. Schmemann made it a reality in 1970 and Pat. Bartholomew squashed any attempt with non-Greek participation. Now, + Bart “invents” the Episcopal Ass.’s to solve everyone’s unity problems at the “Great & Holy Council.” He fails to tell everyone that unity will only be had under him with all the Greek bishops being top dogs in every country. The creation of an Eastern Pope and non-canonical.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Mr Jones, you have redeemed yourself with this fine critique. I agree with every word of it.

        • Mike Myers says

          This excerpt may persuade you to shut yourself off somewhere quiet and read the whole article a few times. Fr. Schmemann explains how to go about doing it. It has to be stressed though that patience is a key ingredient in his prescription.

          “. . . On the one hand, there are those who believe that the old pattern of national and religious unity can be simply applied to America. The Church is Greek in Greece, Russian in Russia, therefore it must be American in America—such is their reasoning. We are no longer Russians or Greeks, let us translate services in English, eliminate all “nationalism” from the Church and be one… . Logical as it sounds, this solution is deeply wrong and, in fact, impossible. For what, in their cheerful but superficial “Americanism,” the partisans of this view seem completely to overlook is that the rapport between Orthodoxy and Russia, or Orthodoxy and Greece, is fundamentally different from, if not opposed to, the rapport between Orthodoxy and America. There is not and there cannot be a religion of America in the sense in which Orthodoxy is the religion of Greece or Russia and this, in spite of all possible and actual betrayals and apostasies. And for this reason Orthodoxy cannot be American in the sense in which it certainly is Greek, Russian or Serbian. Whereas there, in the old world, Orthodoxy is coextensive with national culture, and to some extent, is the national culture (so that the only alternative is the escape into a “cosmopolitan,” viz. “Western” culture), in America, religious pluralism and therefore, a basic religious “neutrality,” belongs to the very essence of culture and prevents religion from a total “integration” in culture. Americans may be more religious people than Russians or Serbs, religion in America may have privileges, prestige and status it has not had in the “organic” Orthodox countries, all this does not alter the fundamentally secular nature of contemporary American culture; and yet it is precisely this dichotomy of culture and religion that Orthodoxy has never known or experienced and that is totally alien to Orthodoxy. For the first time in its whole history, Orthodoxy must live within a secular culture. This presents enormous spiritual problems with which I hope to deal in a special article. What is important for us here, however, is that the concept of “americanization” and “American” Orthodoxy is thus far from being a simple one. It is a great error to think that all problems are solved by the use of English in services, essential as it is. For the real problem (and we will probably only begin to realize and to face it when “everything” is translated into English) is that of culture, of the “way of life.” It belongs to the very essence of Orthodoxy not only to “accept” a culture, but to permeate and to transform it, or, in other terms, to consider it an integral part and object of the Orthodox vision of life. Deprived of this living interrelation with culture, of this claim to the whole of life, Orthodoxy, in spite of all formal rectitude of dogma and liturgy, betrays and loses something absolutely essential. This explains the instinctive attachment of so many Orthodox, even American born, to the “national” forms of Orthodoxy, their resistance, however narrow-minded and “nationalistic,” to a complete divorce between Orthodoxy and its various national expressions. In these forms and expressions Orthodoxy preserves something of its existential wholeness, of its link with life in its totality, and is not reduced to a “rite,” a clearly delineated number of credal statements and a set of “minimal rules.” One cannot by a surgical operation called “americanization” distill a pure “Orthodoxy in itself,” without disconnecting it from its flesh and blood, making it a lifeless form. There can be no doubt, therefore, that in view of a this, a living continuity with national traditions will remain for a long time not only a “compromise” meant to satisfy the “old-timers,” but an essential condition for the very life of the Orthodox Church. And any attempt to build the unity of Orthodoxy here by opposing the “American” to the traditional national connotations and terms will lead neither to a real unity nor to real Orthodoxy.

          But equally wrong are those who from this interdependence of the national and the ecclesiastical within Orthodoxy draw the conclusion that, therefore, the ecclesiastical, i.e. “jurisdictional” unity of the Orthodox Church in America is impossible and ought not even to be sought. This view implies a very narrow and obviously distorted idea of the Church as a simple function of national identity, values and self-preservation. “National” becomes here “nationalistic” and the Church—an instrument of nationalism. One must confess that one gets tired of the frequent exhortation to “keep the faith of our fathers.” By the same reasoning a man of Protestant descent should remain Protestant and a Jew a Jew, regardless of their religious convictions. Orthodoxy should be kept and preserved not because it is the “faith of our fathers,” but because it is the true faith and as such is universal, all-embracing and truly catholic. A convert, for example, embraces Orthodoxy not because it is somebody’s “father’s faith,” but because he recognizes in it the Church of Christ, the fulness of faith and catholicity. Yet it is impossible to manifest and communicate that fulness, if the Church is simply identified with an ethnic group and its natural exclusiveness. It is not the task or the purpose of Orthodoxy to perpetuate and “preserve” the Russian or the Greek national identity, but the function of Greek and Russian “expressions” of Orthodoxy is to perpetuate the “catholic” values of Orthodoxy which otherwise would be lost. “National” here has value not in itself, but only inasmuch as it is “catholic,” i.e. capable of conveying and communicating the living truth of Orthodoxy, of assuring the organic continuity of the Church. Orthodoxy, if it is to remain the vehicle and the expression of a national “subculture” (and in America every exclusive ethnical nationalism is, by definition, a subculture), will share the latter’s inescapable disintegration and dissolution. Orthodoxy as the natural solidarity and affinity of people coming from the same island, village, geographical area or nation (and we have, in fact, “jurisdictional” expressions of all these categories) cannot indefinitely resist and survive the pressure of the sociological law which condemns such solidarities to a sooner or later death. What is required, therefore, is not only unity and cooperation among various national “jurisdictions,” but a return to the real idea of unity as expressing the unity of the Church and the catholicity of her faith and tradition. Not a “united” Church, but the Church

          The unprecedented character of the American Orthodox situation results thus in a double requirement. The Church here must preserve, at least for a foreseeable period of time, its organic continuity with the national cultures in which she has expressed the catholicity of her faith and life. And she must, in order to fulfill this catholicity, achieve its canonical unity as truly One Church. Is this possible? . . .”

          • My, my . . . where to begin? Well, first to agreement: I agree with most all of what he wrote in the paragraph beginning, “But equally wrong are those . . .”. If Orthodoxy remains “Greek” or “Russian” or “Antiochian” here, it will always be foreign to other Americans and never more than a tiny fraction of the American religious landscape. No argument here.

            Where he goes woefully wrong is in what he states before regarding the uniqueness of the American situation and the need for Orthodoxy to adapt to the secular context of America.

            “For what, in their cheerful but superficial “Americanism,” the partisans of this view seem completely to overlook is that the rapport between Orthodoxy and Russia, or Orthodoxy and Greece, is fundamentally different from, if not opposed to, the rapport between Orthodoxy and America. There is not and there cannot be a religion of America in the sense in which Orthodoxy is the religion of Greece or Russia and this, in spite of all possible and actual betrayals and apostasies.”

            Here, Fr. Schmemann is simply being small minded. And what he is advocating is abandoning the vast majority of the American people to false religion. That is precisely what we have done over the last 200 plus years here in North America. It is high time we stopped it, began looking at the entire country with all its different religions as mission territory similar to pagan Rus’ or pagan Greece and drawing a clear line between the Church and everything-else. That is why we are not converting America. We are content to be a little sect, coexisting with and situated beside the temples of Perun and Athena, or St. Francis RCC and Trinity Baptist, as the local Greek church, or Russian church. We discourage “sheep stealing” and “proselytism” because we are afraid of falling victim to it. Yet we do fall victim to it even when we refrain from it, being practically the only ones who do not see the zero sum nature of the endeavor.

            “Whereas there, in the old world, Orthodoxy is coextensive with national culture, and to some extent, is the national culture (so that the only alternative is the escape into a ‘cosmopolitan,’ viz. ‘Western’ culture), in America, religious pluralism and therefore, a basic religious ‘neutrality,’ belongs to the very essence of culture and prevents religion from a total ‘integration’ in culture.”

            Yes, as of today. And that is a challenge to be overcome, not a condition to which we need adapt. It was not always so. When this country was founded, there were established state churches. The last one to be disestablished was that of Massachusetts (Congregationalism) in 1833. Moreover, up until the 1940’s, you will search in vain to find “separation of church and state” mentioned in any Supreme Court opinions. My grade school teachers read the bible out loud to us during one period of the day. This was before 1980 when the court said the state couldn’t do that. Indeed, “Protestantism” was, in a sense, the national religion of America for quite a long time, with Catholic enclaves. This is easier to see in the South, where the ACLU still has to occasionally sue schools and where you can walk into rural court houses and still see wall size renditions of Christ in the clerk’s office.

            It is quite possible in the long run for a total integration of Orthodoxy within American culture. It is just that the Orthodox will have to rediscover the seriously conservative nature of their faith and be creative in adapting the practices that are widespread within traditionally Orthodox cultures to the American context. We might have bonnets (as did American women of earlier generations) instead of shawls or scarves. American Christians used to cover their heads too, once upon a time, when they actually believed. The great cathedrals of Western Europe were built without pews. Sitting in pews evolved out of Protestantism, where the sermon is the focus of the service, a lecture of sorts. The pews eliminate the possibility of Orthodox worship, great reverences and prostrations, as it existed in a variety of cultures from its very inception.

            We might have American Orthodox composers writing church music (and we do already, American composer Kurt Sander has a fantastic East-West church music album with a Russian composer). America did not suddenly appear in 1960. There was a healthier American culture, a more conservative one, on this continent at one time. Rediscover it. Yes, it is woefully decadent now. Don’t feel obliged to adapt to this decadence.

            “One cannot by a surgical operation called ‘americanization’ distill a pure ‘Orthodoxy in itself,’ without disconnecting it from its flesh and blood, making it a lifeless form.”

            True. But this is because in Greek Orthodoxy, or Russian Orthodoxy, Orthodoxy took over the culture, purged what was unOrthodox and Christianized the rest. This is not what the Orthodox in America have done, however. The Orthodox came here with a lot of ethnic pride mixed with a deep inferiority complex regarding the advancement of the Western world. Often they sold their souls for baklava and borsh. The ethnic festivals survive, the traditional religious practices vanish. Just the opposite would be better. However, festivals are fine and dandy, we just shouldn’t ape the degenerate religious and social practices of a deeply flawed and fallen culture. To do so results in the secularization of the Orthodox here, much like is documented in the PAOI survey.

            Orthodoxy will remain a quirky little eclectic sect in this country, un-unified and small, until the Church here approaches America they way it approached Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Rome, etc. Our mistake is to make peace with the Enlightenment foundation of this country and the religious establishment that has been utterly ruined by it. That guarantees that most Americans will never see the inside of an Orthodox church now or anytime in the future. It guarantees a heterodox America. That is not our mission here.

            • Mike Myers says

              I’m a little surprised by what sounds like a basic misconception about an elementary matter of fact relevant to Fr. Schmemann’s argument. Part of the problem is that you cannot have read the whole article, clearly. I’m confident you wouldn’t say some of these things if you had. I hesitated to excerpt it for this very reason, because the article is of a piece; in it he made a carefully structured, symphonic case. But I wanted to post an appetizer relevant to Peter’s plea for an adult conversation on the issue — at the known risk of mutilating somewhat the order, power and coherence of his argument.

              Fr. Schmemann was describing, I think not just realistically, but factually, the situation existing in contemporary America (now, even more than when he wrote this, a profoundly, radically, more and more militantly secularist and pluralistic society).

              There is not and there cannot be a religion of America in the sense in which Orthodoxy is the religion of Greece or Russia.

              He’s not saying that America could not be permeated eventually by Orthodoxy, as Greece, the Eastern Empire and then Russia were. I think it should be clear enough that he meant: probably not anytime soon. The biggest reason is the little fact of the First Amendment, which built religious pluralism into the legal and political DNA of this nation: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” In Imperial Russia and Greece, no analogy of the Establishment Clause stood in the way. No legal choice but to adapt to the law of the land, as I think should be obvious, even if not explicitly stated in this part of the article.

              “Where he goes woefully wrong is in what he states before regarding the uniqueness of the American situation and the need for Orthodoxy to adapt to the secular context of America.”

              This is evidence that you have either misunderstood the nature of the problem and/or simply read into his text what he did not say. He assumes certain core realities are grasped. (As noted above, the final article in the series (1965) focused on secularism and its challenges.)

              These paragraphs occur just prior to the section I posted and should banish your evident misconception about his position.

              . . . (iii) The Meaning of Canonicity
              The canonical chaos in America is not a specifically “American” phenomenon. Rather, Orthodoxy here is the victim of a long, indeed a multi-secular disease. It was a latent disease as long as the Church was living in the old traditional situation characterized primarily by an organic unity of the State, the ethnic factor and the ecclesiastical organization. Up to quite recently, in fact up to the appearance of the massive Orthodox diaspora, ecclesiastical stability and order were preserved not so much by the canonical “consciousness,” but by State regulations and control. Ironically enough it made not much difference whether the State was Orthodox (The Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Greece), Roman Catholic (Austro-Hungary) or Muslim (the Ottoman Empire). Members of the Church could be persecuted in non-Orthodox States, but Church organization—and this is the crux of the matter—was sanctioned by the State and could not be altered without this sanction. This situation was, of course, the result of the initial Byzantine “symphony” between Church and State, but after the fall of Byzantium it was progressively deprived of that mutual interdependence of Church and State which was at the very heart of the Byzantine theocratic ideology. [11] What is important for us here and what constitutes the “disease” mentioned above is that this organic blend of State regulations, ethnical solidarity and Church organization led little by little to a divorce of the canonical consciousness from its dogmatical and spiritual context. Canonical tradition, understood at first as an organic part of the dogmatical tradition, as the latter’s application to the empirical life of the Church, became Canon Law: a system of rules and regulations, juridical, and not primarily doctrinal and spiritual in their nature, and interpreted as such within categories alien to the spiritual essence of the Church. Just as a lawyer is the one who can find all possible precedents and arguments that favor his “case,” a canonist, in this system of thought, is the one who, in the huge mass of canonical texts, can find that one which justifies his “case,” even if the latter seems to contradict the spirit of the Church. And once such “text” is found, “canonicity” is established. There appeared, in other terms, a divorce between the Church as spiritual, sacramental essence and the Church as organization so that the latter ceased in fact to be considered as the expression of the first, fully dependent on it. If today in America so many of our laymen are sincerely convinced that the parish organization is an exclusively legal or “material” problem and ought to be handled apart from the “spiritual,” the root of this conviction is not only in the specifically American ethos, but also in the progressive secularization of canon law itself. And yet the whole point is that canons are not mere laws, but laws whose authority is rooted precisely in the spiritual essence of the Church. Canons do not constitute or create the Church, their function is to defend, clarify and regulate the life of the Church, to make it comply with the essence of the Church. This means that in order to be properly understood, interpreted and applied, canonical texts must be always referred to that truth of, and about, the Church, which they express sometimes for a very particular situation and which is not necessarily explicit in the canonical text itself.

              If we take the canonical area which interests us more particularly in this essay, that of ecclesiastical organization and episcopal power, it is evident that the basic reality or truth to which all canons dealing with bishops, their consecration and their jurisdiction point and refer, is the reality of unity, as the very essence of the Church. The Church is unity of men with God in Christ and unity of men one with another in Christ. Of this new, divinely given and divine unity the Church is the gift, the manifestation, the growth and the fulfillment. And, therefore, everything in her organization, order and life is in some way or another related to unity, and is to be understood, evaluated and, if necessary, judged by it. The dogmatical or spiritual essence of the Church as unity is thus the criterion for the proper understanding of canons concerning Church organization and also for their proper application. If the canons prescribe that a bishop must be consecrated by all bishops of the province (cf. Apostolic Canon 1, 1 Oecum, Canon 4) and only in case of “some special reason or owing to the distance” by two or three, the meaning of the canon is obviously not that any two or three bishops can “make” another bishop, but that the consecration of a bishop is the very sacrament of the Church as unity and oneness. [12] To reduce this canon to a formal principle that there must be at least two bishops for a “valid” episcopal consecration is simply nonsensical. The canon both reveals and safeguards an essential truth about the Church and its proper application is possible, therefore, only within the full context of that truth. And only this context explains why canons which apparently are anachronistic and have nothing to do with our time and situations are not considered as obsolete but remain an integral part of Tradition. To be sure the Melitian schism which divided Egypt at the beginning of the fourth century has in itself no great importance for us. Yet the canons of the First Ecumenical Council which defined the norms for its solution keep all their significance precisely because they reveal that truth of the Church in the light of which, and for the preservation of which that schism was solved. All this means that the search for canonicity consists not in an accumulation of “texts,” but in the effort, first, to understand the ecclesiological meaning of a given text, and then, to relate it to a particular and concrete situation.

              The necessity for such an effort is especially obvious here in America. The American ecclesiastical situation is unprecedented in more than one respect. Enough time and energy have been spent in sterile attempts simply to “reduce” it to some pattern of the past, i.e. to ignore the real challenge it presents to the canonical conscience of the Church.

              (iv) National Pluralism and Canonical Unity**
              The unprecedented situation of American Orthodoxy is that the Church here, different in this from all other parts of the Orthodox world, is multinational in its origins. Since the Byzantine era, Orthodoxy was always brought to and accepted by whole nations. The only familiar pattern of the past, therefore, is not the creation of mere local churches, but a total integration and incarnation of Orthodoxy in national cultures; so that these cultures themselves cannot be separated from Orthodoxy but, in their depth, are genuine expressions of Orthodoxy. This organic unity of the national and religious is not a historical accident, much less a defect of Orthodoxy. In its positive expression it is the fruit of the Orthodox concept and experience of the Church as embracing the whole life. Catholicity means for an Orthodox more than geographic universality; it is, above everything else, the wholeness, the totality of life as belonging to Christ and sanctified by the Church. In this respect, the situation in America is radically different from the whole historical experience of Orthodoxy. Not only the Orthodox Church was brought here by representatives of various Orthodox nations, but it was brought as precisely the continuation of their national existence. Hence the problem of canonical or ecclesiological unity, which as we have seen is a self-evident requirement of the very truth of the Church, encounters here difficulties that cannot be simply reduced to the solutions of the past. And yet, this is precisely what happens much too often.

              On the one hand, etc. [This is where the first excerpt began]

              • geo michalopulos says

                Fine response, lots to consider. I prefer to cut to the chase. Whether it is possible to “convert” America to Orthodoxy is a loaded question on all sides so I’ll leave it alone. Instead, I prefer to ask why our leaders and people have been content to ghettoize Orthodoxy, to in essence, tribalize it –on steroids as it were.

                Perhaps if Fr Schmemann had asked that question, or looked into it, we might be arguing from a different place, operating from a different dynamic. Dare I say a more confident Christianized America? It needn’t take a lot to “leaven” American society.

                Thinking aloud here: would we have been better off had we made common cause with ECUSA traditionalists and came to their aid in 1976 when they started ordaining priestesses? This is not idle chatter btw, the NCC regularly uses us –and begs us from leaving–to provide some semblance of orthodox Christianity to their essentially pagan, libertine, and incoherrent organization.

              • In brief, Mike, Fr. Schmemann simply didn’t write or mean what you wish he had. Yes, the above sets the stage for the earlier excerpt you quoted. But it changes nothing regarding his view that religious plurality is the “essence” of American culture and that therefore it is a radically different context and calls for a fundamentally different approach than the evangelism of other cultures to Orthodoxy. No doubt his thoughts would be more relevant if he had said that.

                But instead he wrote:

                “There is not and there cannot be a religion of America in the sense in which Orthodoxy is the religion of Greece or Russia and this, in spite of all possible and actual betrayals and apostasies. And for this reason Orthodoxy cannot be American in the sense in which it certainly is Greek, Russian or Serbian . . .

                . . . in America, religious pluralism and therefore, a basic religious “neutrality,” belongs to the very essence of culture and prevents religion from a total “integration” in culture.” [emphasis added]

                Nothing he wrote immediately prior contextualizes this conviction on his part. If you care to cite passages from Fr. Schmemann wherein he makes a full frontal assault on the Enlightenment foundations of the American republic and rejects its essential [in his view] religious pluralism as unchristian, I would be most happy to look at them. Good luck.

                Moreover, in the passage you quote above, you can see a sort of anti-Estabishmentarianism which characterizes the man not only with regard to the symphony of church and state during the medieval period but which he blames for a certain corruption of the Church’s liturgical life around the period following the Edict of Milan (as do Protestant scholars). In this he was a very conventional Western thinker rather than Orthodox. The third article I cited below essentially makes this point.

                The page quotes are from his Diaries:

                “Primarily, Fr Alexander’s Diaries are those of an urbane, secular, sociable, civilised Franco-Russian émigré, a very well-read literary critic (but not an academic – he strongly disliked academics and especially academic Orthodoxy – Pp. 14, 19-21, 530). Thus, he loved literature, restaurants, good food, laughter and conversation . . .”

                “Although his Diaries form an index of secular émigré intellectuals, they are remarkable by their many omissions. Thus, Fr Alexander never seems to speak of holiness, of saints, he never once mentions St John of Shanghai or monks like Fr Seraphim (Rose), he hardly ever speaks positively of monasticism and, in the true Parisian style, frequently expresses dislike of it (Pp. 271-2). He had no contact with Jerusalem, Mt Athos or any of the Local Churches in Eastern Europe or with Russia itself, which tragically he never visited. The only exceptions were brief visits to the Serbian Church under Yugoslav Communism and the Coptic Church and its monks (Pp. 416-17)”

                “It is clear that secular literature, French and Russian, did indeed shape much of his world. Fr Alexander calls himself a rebel, an iconoclast (P. 63), a “contestataire” (P. 106). He hated any attachment to the past (P. 73). And in this way he was the typical Russian secular intellectual, who, born outside Russia, came to the Church, but never fully integrated Her (P. 53). In this way he was a stereotype of the Paris emigration, a remnant of the uprooted St Petersburg aristocracy and ruling caste after Peter the Great had cut them off from the people.”

                “The essential tragedy of Fr Alexander is that although he loved the Bible and the Eucharist (Pp. 615, 635 – and who does not?), he never accepted the mass Orthodoxy of the Church after the Constantinian settlement, the mass Orthodoxy which is the fruit of the Incarnation. Fundamentally – and this is what gives rise to all the accusations that he was a Protestant – he never went beyond the fourth century . . .”

                I am under no misconceptions about his position.

                I was going to leave it at that, but I thought I should add this quote from the end of the article regarding Fr. Schmemann’s Diaries which puts the positive and negative in the article in context and a sentiment with which I concur:

                “There is no doubt that Fr Alexander helped many into the Church and many of them, who later moved onto a deeper understanding and life in the Church of Christ, are grateful to him. The fact is that the spiritually moribund Metropolia of the 1950s, with its ethnic ritualism from ‘the old country,’ was transformed by him and those with him. There is no doubt that, however one-sided his views, Fr Alexander was sincere and well-intentioned. And there is no doubt that he helped lay foundations for the renewal of the Orthodox Church in North America.

                Since Fr Alexander”s death others, like Fr Ephraim, those in ROCOR and others, are completing what he was unable to do, enlivening the whole other, supra-rational, half of Orthodox Church life, monasticism, asceticism, the Tradition, which Fr Alexander, a man of his times, only partially knew and understood. Therefore, as to one who helped lay foundations, we have no hesitation in saying:

                To Protopresbyter Alexander – Eternal Memory!

                16 February/1 March 2011”

                • Mike Myers says

                  Before I reply in detail, I need to ask if you’ve carefully read any of Fr. Schmemann’s books cover to cover, or any of his articles from beginning to end. (Prior to right now, I mean. . .) An honest answer would help me respond more effectively. It sounds as if you rely on the opinions of others about his writings and his views. If this impression is incorrect, please disabuse me.

                • Mike Myers says

                  Before I reply in detail, I need to ask if you’ve carefully read any of Fr. Schmemann’s books, cover to cover or close to it (For the Life of the World; Great Lent, A Jouney to Pascha; Of Water and Spirit; The Eucharist; O Death, Where is Thy Sting; The Journals of Fr. Alexander Schmemann; et al.), or any of his scholarly articles, from beginning to end — such as the two I’ve posted links to, say? (Read prior to right now, I mean. . .)

                  An honest answer would help me respond more effectively. I ask because it sounds as if you may rely on the accounts of others about his writings and his views. If this impression is incorrect, please disabuse me.

                  • Mike,

                    Please set aside the pretentiousness. If you have a point to make, make it. It makes no difference what I have and haven’t “carefully” read. If you disagree with what I or a writer I have quoted think regarding this or that issue involving Fr. Schmemann, simply quote something he wrote that explicitly contradicts any supposedly erroneous assessment of him. It shouldn’t be that hard. I will be happy to show you where he adopted facets of the canonicity fallacy which he earlier condemned, or where he effectively slandered some in ROCOR, or where he did any number of unpleasant things. I can even get into his theology of the liturgy and eucharist, if you prefer.

                    Really, I just don’t appreciate the man or the school of thought that he and Meyendorff and a number of others represent. Nonetheless, I can recognize that they did make considerable contributions to the status of Orthodoxy in this country, however imperfect or misguided at times. I’m really not here to give you a bibliography of what I have read over the years. If you have a point, nothing I’m doing or not doing is preventing you from making it.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  I’m glad you put that last part in, because I sure have gotten a great deal from Fr. Schmemann, indeed.

                  “…. he loved literature, restaurants, good food, laughter and conversation . . .” He must have passed that on to his son!

                  That quote puts me in mind of something from Jesus ben Sirach, to the effect of “do not let your share of life’s good things pass you by.”

              • BTW, Mike,

                The first link you include above is to Fr. Schmemann’s article on orthodoxinfo. At the bottom of this article is a webmaster note on an article by [now] Archbishop Chrysostomos which he recommends as a companion to Fr. Schmemann’s. It makes a number of the same points as I did. Some excerpts:

                “Cultural Paradosis and Orthodox America.”

                “As the Byzantines beautifully envisaged human society (a vision so terribly distorted by prejudice and misunderstanding in western historiography), it expressed in human dimensions the magnificence and beauty of paradise. In the pleroma of the Orthodox experience, society (be it the microcosmic society of a church community or the macrocosmic Orthodox imperial societies of Byzantium or Russia), in its ideal expression, lifts up the mundane and unites it to the heavenly in synergy and image. No single culture serves itself, but serves to express the Eternal Orthodox Culture. And, as Khomiakov so beautifully phrased it, man ceases to be an isolated, alienated individual; he is lifted up in the whole, saved only together with others, damned only in his individuality.”

                “If we wish to attain to the highest understanding of Orthodoxy, there is no doubt that we have to draw on the ‘old country’ cultures which expressed this understanding. If America has a culture (and many sociologists and anthropologists would argue that it does not), that culture is not Orthodox. It was not created to serve the Orthodox Weltansicht. It is in many ways incompatible with the Orthodox view. In time, perhaps, an Orthodox culture might grow up in America. But at this juncture, we have no choice but to retreat, whether temporarily or permanently, to those cultures which were shaped by their holy interaction. We must regain the priceless crucible in which saints and Holy Fathers were formed. As difficult as it may be for us Orthodox in America to understand, the true expression of our faith does demand the rejection of much of the witless, plastic, and soul-destroying mediocrity of American society. This may mean, ultimately, a change in our styles of dress, in our manner of eating, and in our general self-presentation. But this, after all, is what Orthodoxy is: what we eat, how we speak, how we stand, how we sit, indeed how we understand ourselves and others. If we succeed in regaining this view and this cultural tradition, the benefits may accrue, not only to us, but to America itself.”

                “The convert might object, indeed, to the thought of having to adopt an Orthodox culture as a prerequisite for the reception of the Orthodox faith. ‘Must I become a Greek, or a Russian, or a Serbian, or so on?’ might be the rhetorical response to this prerequisite. The answer is, to some extent, ‘yes.’ That we separate Orthodoxy from its cultural medium is already evidence that we have lost a great dimension of Orthodoxy, as we have said. But just as importantly, it is essential to remember that conversion to a true Christianity is the denial of secular culture, the acceptance of a new culture formed by detachment from the world and Christian involvement in it—St. Paul’s paradoxical state of being ‘in’ but not ‘of’ the world. This new culture is the very culture which Orthodox societies, however successfully or unsuccessfully, have attempted to build. We are bound by the Christian experience to accept and follow those attempts. They are our one step out of the world while being in it. American society, not built on these same attempts, is not compatible with Orthodoxy. The realization of this heavy and stark reality is no more threatening to us than it was to the Greeks (and subsequently all other Orthodox peoples) when they gave up their pagan cultures and accepted the Christian culture of the Hellenic world.”

                “It is not too much, thus, to ask of the convert that he remain loyal to his country (rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s) while, at the same time, adopting a new culture and new traditions better suited to the expression and preservation of his Orthodox faith. This is not a restrictive requirement, but one which brings the Orthodox convert spiritually into a new dimension as well as intellectually into contact with some of the most profound pillars of the edifice of human civilization. The adoption of traditional styles of eating and dress lends itself to the expression of Orthodox spirituality. It provides a context in which association with the secularized world is predefined from an Orthodox stance. And it provides, at the same time, knowledge of the Christian ancients, of Greek and Slavic civilization, and of the deep, theologically developed languages in which the Truth of truths was articulated. To be sure, an adoption of a traditional Orthodox culture expands the American convert to Orthodoxy in every way, the end result being, perhaps sometime in the future, the actual creation of a particularly American expression of these cultures.”

                I merely go a step beyond the good Archbishop and suggest that while we still are grounded in the Old World traditional Orthodox cultures at the moment, now would be a good time to engage in the “creation of a particularly American expression” of traditional Orthodoxy.

                • Mike Myers says

                  Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Misha. I’ve just read the whole piece and found it sane and balanced, quite sound. Only some minor quibbles here and there.
                  My very serious problems with his letter to Bishop Photii remain. But this isn’t the sort of thing I’d care to discuss publicly, and certainly not on this blog.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Thanks for posting that. A very interesting read.

  13. Mike Myers says

    1. One can see modern America and the modern Western world in terms of Orthodox Tradition or one can see Orthodox Tradition in terms of norms of the modern Western world. The former is a traditionalist, the latter a modernist.

    I wonder who’d be a modernist, then. You seem to be suggesting that “neo-Patristics” are modernists. Are you? And would you include these four greats in that indictment: Frs. G. Florovsky, A. Schmemann and J. Meyendorff, and V. Lossky? I know for a fact that “neo-Patristic Synthesis School” figures such as Frs. Schmemann, Florovsky, and V. Lossky were quite definitely Traditionalists according to your formula. Not so familiar with Fr. J. Meyendorff’s work, but from what I do know I doubt he’d belong in the latter category, either.

    I wonder if you’ve ever read Schmemann’s “Problems of Orthodoxy in America: The Canonical Problem.” It’s the first of a series of three articles published in St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly in 1965. Dr. Stankovich quoted recently from the final one, “The Spiritual Problem“; it focused mostly on Western secularism. I recently reread them and think they’ve only improved with age. I’d be very surprised to hear a cogent case for modernism as you define it in Fr. Schmemann, if you’d make one that is, or feel you could.

    It is a staple of Orthodox Modernism to stress the distinction between large T and small t tradition. This is usually done in pursuit of dispensing with some facets of Holy Tradition which are alleged to be merely custom.

    Well, I’m in the camp that see a real distinction and think the difference between them matters a lot. Hard to know what to make of the non-specific charges in sentence 2, counsel. Which facets, for example, and who are you referring to (among theologians, I mean)?

    2. It is also a staple of modernists in the OCA to condemn “phyletism” as a heresy based on the local council held at Constantinople in 1872. Those who make this claim seldom mention that it was a) merely a local council, of b) Greeks, whose c) ox had been gored by Bulgarians who were d) being discriminated against by said Greeks in terms of church offices and liturgical language. To put it another way, a local phyletist council condemned phyletism as a heresy. Moreover, if this council were to be taken seriously, very few if any Orthodox on earth would not be heretics since we are all in communion with those who have ethnic jurisdictions.

    I stretched a point in my post. I’d qualify it pretty radically. Still, I think the tendency of phyletism, properly understood, is very real and a threat to Church unity and plenty besides. The word phyletismos in Greek means tribalism. The tendency at its worst: “Nation shall rise against nation . . .” Russian Fed. vs. Georgia, Georgia vs. Russian Fed., say. A case, partly, of phyletism and its all-too-real consequences “on the ground” arguably. Not good, and not imaginary.

    “We renounce, censure and condemn racism, that is racial discrimination, ethnic feuds, hatreds and dissensions within the Church of Christ, as contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the holy canons of our blessed fathers which “support the holy Church and the entire Christian world, embellish it and lead it to divine godliness.”

    I take it you wouldn’t dissent from that. I hear your point though.

    3. I don’t normally have these types of conversations. I turned my back on the Schmemann/Meyendorff school of thought long ago and do not consider it to be mainstream Orthodox thought as exemplified over the ages. It is no use talking to neo-Patristics, they are impervious to evidence.

    Not clear on just who these “neo-Patristics” are. Are you talking about Frs. A. Schmemann and John Meyendorff (or Fr. Georges Florovsky or Vladimir Lossky)? If so, in what way do you think they’re impervious to evidence? I take it you’ve read them, right? Or do you mean some of their students?

    In Russia and Eastern Europe, this approach (neo-Patristicism) is increasingly seen as quasi-Uniate. The neo-Patristics did a considerable amount for the Church, and a considerable amount of damage to the Church in the Western world which will take some time to undo.

    I’d be interested to hear some evidence supporting your strong assertion in the 2nd clause of sentence 2. I’m far from impervious to evidence, or so I like to think anyway.

    And thanks for the link to the Peshita site. That helps.

    • Rather than answer point by point, I have included some links below to give you an idea of what I am talking about. You will notice in the first link that the author praises Fr. Schmemann’s article which you mention, wishing only that he hadn’t changed his views once the Metropolia had obtained its tome of autocephaly from Moscow:

      That’s just a taste of what’s out there but supports most of what I wrote above. Specifically regarding Florovsky and Lossky. As to Florovsky, as is mentioned in the articles, he was a work in progress and his views evolved over time. I have read some of what he wrote on conciliarity and agreed thoroughly. I have read some of what he wrote on scripture and found Protestantism. As to Lossky, he wrote a standard work on iconography with Leonid Ouspensky and wrote another classic of sorts on Orthodox theology which is widely respected. I think he is wrong regarding “God the Father” icons, but that’s a minor point, on the whole:

      • Mike Myers says

        No real comment on the two things from orthodoxinfo, at the moment. Tempting though it is in the case of that first one.

        Though I gotta ask: Did you happen to see and take in the little postscript, of a certain sort, to the views expressed by the “Least among Monks,” on the bottom of the same page in that first link?

        An excerpt, emphases added. BOOK BURNINGS, from the “Church News” section of the Fall 1998 edition of Orthodox Tradition:

        While a demure attitude towards the phenomenon of public book burnings is natural, and especially regarding works which, whatever their deficits, also contain proper Orthodox teachings, the claim that Fathers Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff are the greatest theologians of the twentieth-century Orthodox Church gives us cause for deeper reflection.

        A bile green rhinestone of poshlosht ecclesiese, there.

        Wouldn’t want you to think me ungrateful, however! So I do sincerely want to thank you for directing us to the very astute and sometimes moving personal reflections of Fr. Andrew Phillips, published on ROCOR Studies. I hadn’t encountered this one before. Fascinating on many levels.


        The last link is to a vast amount of spiritual substance, too much for me to comprehend. I’m not clear on your reason for including it, though. Seems a bit out of place, next to these other links. Lossky isn’t mentioned as far as I could make out. Not familiar with the controversy you mentioned. Maybe you could elaborate a little.

        • Mike,

          Yes, I noticed the note you mentioned. It went on to say something to the effect that though they didn’t support book burnings, it may not be a bad idea to make room for sounder works on Orthodoxy. Just included it to support my point that in Eastern Europe (specifically Russia and Bulgaria), Fr. Schmemann is not exactly accepted as the Church Father he is by some in the West.

          As to the last link, perhaps I should have included also the lines from the Meaning of Icons rejecting God the Father icons as un-Byzantine, or whatever. As I stated, this is a minor point where I depart from Lossky, nothing more. Really getting into the controversy would be a tangent at this point, but to boil it down: There are two schools of thought regarding icons representing God the Father as an old man. One is that this is prohibited as an attempt to circumscribe the uncircumscribable. We have seen Christ in the flesh and therefore it’s ok to depict Him. We have seen the Holy Spirit as a dove and therefore it is ok to depict Him. But the Father we have not seen and so it’s not ok. St. John of Damascus seems to have held this position. This ignores quite a lot, including that no one really is opposed to Hospitality of Abraham icons labelled as “the Holy Trinity” which would be subject to the same ban if consistently applied, or that St. John the Forerunner merely saw the Holy Spirit descend like a dove, but no dove actually physically appeared, etc., etc.

          The other attitude, quite universal apparently up until at least the middle of the twentieth century, was that since God the Father had been seen in visions of the prophets and, as such, was specifically included as acceptable material for iconography by the decree of the 7th Ecumenical Council, such images are fine and dandy. This is the position taken in the Russian version of Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy’s catechism “The Law of God” as well as by the Old Calendar Greek churches. The work that forms the basis of the article I included was written in Greek on Mt. Athos by one of the monks there. Incidentally, you find these images throughout Eastern Europe. There is at least one on Athos that I know about, maybe more. In the English edition of “The Law of God” there are only 3-4 such images. In the Russian edition there are 19, plus explicit approval. One of the domes of the new Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow has one of these images in it as well.

          Not a big deal, but it is just another case where the neo-Patristics have gotten out in front on an issue without really thinking it through.

          I did find the article quite indicative of another phenomenon though. It has been my experience that ROCOR and other traditionalist organizations’ explanations or defenses of their positions are quite detailed and fact laden, laid out almost like a Church Father would lay out an argument based on Holy Tradition, going to the sources – – Fathers, scripture, canon law – – as well as historical documents and statements of the principals recorded at the time. The “neo-Orthodox” seem to deal in broad self-justifying generalizations unsupported by hard evidence. At least that is what I have perceived in my readings and discussions with both groups. If you want further evidence of this, look at most any explanation of the relationship between the Metropolia and ROCOR offered by the OCA side. Compare it with the article on Orthodoxwiki, OCA and ROCOR, which apparently was written by someone trying to be even handed but sympathetic to the ROCOR side. Or look at Fr. Schmemman’s response to The Sorrowful Epistle on orthodoxinfo as opposed to the rejoinder to Schmemman by the traditionalist writer. Essentially, its “everybody knows that . . .” followed by generalizations, on the OCA side vs. detailed evidence based on Tradition and historically verifiable evidence on the ROCOR side. There is also a work out of St. Vladimir’s I think regarding icons addressing the God the Father issue as part of the book, I’ve seen it in the library of the local OCA parish here. Compare it with the article I included above.

          It isn’t difficult for me to discern who the more thorough and honest operators are.

    • Mike Myers says

      A correction: Fr. Schmemann’s first, great article, the”The Canonical Problem,” was published in 1964. So was “The Liturgical Problem.” The third, quoted by Dr. Stankovich, dates from ’65.

  14. Mike Myers says

    As to hierarchy and autocracy, personally, I think that is something you just have to get over if you want to be Orthodox.

    Well, no problem with hierarchy per se: overseers (bishops), archimandrites, abbots and elders, archpriests, priests, monks and lay faithful. I do think I see a lot of potential for trouble-making, however, inherent in the very nature of offices like Patriarch, “super-bishops” and that sort of thing, on the basis of lots of historical evidence. These multiple heads seem to have a powerful tendency to become anti-Heads. According to my reading of Paul and the other apostles, the Church has and needs only one Head. We have about 1000 years of history to meditate on in the New Roman Empire and almost exactly 1000 in the Russian version. The lessons seem clear enough to me. I could be deluded, though, or missing something big time. I do try to keep an open mind about that possibility. Always open to entertaining contrary views.

    As to autocracy, that seems to me one of the more thoroughly refuted political ideologies there are; this historical rebuttal seems especially vivid in the case of Russia (and also in the OT chronicles of the kings of Judah). The Byzantine theocratic ideology played itself out. Lots of problems, from the point of view of Christian anthropology, in successfully aiding and abetting the goal of human personhood, as I understand this — achieving the likeness of God. Its successor ideology in the Russian Empire represented an amazingly steady, progressive development into an almost pure caesaropapism, did it not? Culminating in a more or less complete de jure and de facto subjugation of the Church to an abject role as mere department of the temporal power. A neat inversion. That experiment ended in disaster.

    There is actually no other mechanism of which I am aware for the calling of a Great and Holy Synod but for the Christian emperor to do so. So much in Orthodoxy assumes autocratic government that to say that it is illegitimate strains credulity.

    Shouldn’t a mature sobornost suffice to call a Great and Holy Synod if needed? Isn’t it long overdue that bishops grow up and not need a Big Bad Daddy and his threats? Maybe I’m naive.

    Never said autocratic government was illegitimate as such. Not a word I’d have picked. “Having said that,” if regarding Constantine and all that “In hoc signo vinces” etc. stuff with profound misgivings makes me a problem convert, well, I’d be a problem convert. I’d be one with a marked preference for looking forward, mainly, not backward, so much. Well-informed glances from time to time are certainly helpful, but I’d want to avoid false nostalgia at all costs.

    That does not mean that every Orthodox has to be a monarchist. Opinions differ. But we do have a greater tolerance for authoritarian rule and its in the DNA of the Church. We bow and prostrate to the saints and kiss their hands and feet on the icons. We touch the ground before receiving a priest’s blessing. We address a bishop as “Master”.

    Formally still Roman Catholic, so I know about authoritarian rule. Cheerfully accept authority, and hierarchy in the Church. And zero issue with reverence for the Saints.

    None of this comes from the Enlightenment.

    Little does from a false dawn. Hallucinations mostly.

    • Mike,

      My appreciation for monarchy and authoritarianism probably comes from two sources: First, its universality in the history of Israel and pre-Enlightenment Orthodoxy (after all, judges, monarchs, emperors, etc. – – none of these were popularly elected officials and so, by definition, authoritarian). On this note, I think too much is made of the intrigue around Saul’s anointing as king. At first, Samuel’s sons are blamed as being incompetent judges, then 180 degree turn toward God reluctantly granting the request of the masses for a king. Saul, of course, was not a good king and lived up to the negative prophecies regarding kingship. Nonetheless, David is rather fondly remembered and from that point on kingship seems to be a venerated norm. “Son of David” is not exactly a pejorative.

      The second source is the observation that modern Western democracy is an abject failure when it comes to making Christian morality the societal norm. Here, I’m not talking about public morality in general, or sin in general. All generations are sinful to one degree or another and that’s simply part of the human condition after the Fall and before the Second Coming. But redefining morality in the law and the culture so that we have a new system of good vs. evil, regardless of how well any of us measure up when evaluated by it, seems to be an inevitable outcome in societies animated by Western democracy. Such is truly diabolical and not at all admirable. At least with Christian monarchs you have a shot at a good one and the overall normative framework will likely remain Christian despite abuses. With democracy it is a race to the bottom fueled by the passions. I.e., IMHO

      • George Michalopulos says

        Generally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with “authority.” My textbooks in College were all written by authorities.

      • Mike Myers says

        Misha, a whole lot to say in reply to those two paragraphs of yours. But I’ve been way too glib in this thread, and I’d want to take the time required to avoid any more of that, or minimize it anyway. Don’t have time at the moment though.

  15. Second Chance says

    Now, for some positive news:

    1. By a decree of the President of Ukraine, in the acknowledgement of their efforts to assert Orthodoxy in the world, Patriarch Kirill, Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and All Africa, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem and All Palestine, Catholicos-Patriarch Iliya II of All Georgia, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria, Archbishop Chrisostomos of New Justiniana and All Cyprus, Metropolitan Sava of Warsaw and All Poland and Metropolitan Tikhon of America and Canada were awarded the state Order of Jaroslav the Wise, 1st degree.

    2. Archpriest Dr. Steven Voytovich, a licensed professional counselor who spent many years in the field of pastoral care and education, has been named Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary here effective August 18, 2013.

    • I am concerned wit h the appointment of Fr. Voytovich, not that he can’t do the job, but he will be paid $170K a year PLUS a percentage of the money he raises for STOTS. I have no opinion about his salary except that most clergy labour with a small fraction of what he will be paid, rather, it is ethically wrong to take a percentage of what you raise for a not-for-profit. The temptation to “shake-down” little old ladies of their money so you can get a cut is morally wrong, especially in the Church.

      • Thomas Jones says

        $170K a year? Where did you get that? He won’t be paid anything close to that.

        • His total package is $170K a year plus a cut of the money he raises. My source? Someone at the meeting that hired him.

        • Dear Thomas,

          Fr. Steven’s total package is $170K per year, a three-year contract, plus a percentage of the money he raises for STOTS. Where did I get this information? From folks at the meeting who hired him.

          I think STOTS overpaid.

      • Dear Albert,

        You’re information is not correct. Not only that, I woulds gently remind you that sharing details publicly of someone’s employment contract may not be legal (and if it is legal, It’s at the very least distasteful and at the very worst disgusting). Perhaps you should remind your “sources”, whomever they are, that they have a duty to not disclose that kind of information, and should think through the moral, legal, and ethical ramifications for themselves and the venerable institution they represent before they do.

        George, I’d expect better from you than to allow this kind of gossipy behavior on your blog.

        • Dear Anya,

          None of those involved signed a non-disclosure agreement and such information is public given that STOTS must report to the State of Pennsylvania its financials not to mention the OCA. I would hope they are not doing this hiring by some sort of stealth.

          Besides, I have no problem with the salary package the good Father has negotiated. He gave up a high-paying job in NY to take this new post and apparently that is what was needed to lure him to STOTS.

          What is worrisome and unethical is taking a percentage of money raised by him. That is not done in not-for-profits and certainly should not be done in the Orthodox Church. Shall we now pay clergy a cut of all the new revenue that comes from new members to the parish thru their ministry? It is utterly corrupt. If people support STOTS through their free will gifts, the money, all of it, should go to STOTS and not take a part take a detour into the fundraiser’s coffers.

  16. Philippa says

    “paid $170K a year PLUS a percentage of the money he raises for STOTS.”

    Do you have documentation of this part of his contract? I find it very hard to believe that he’d get a percentage of any monies raised.

  17. Thomas Jones says

    Nice try James,

    The OCA’s autocephaly is real and permanent. The only way the OCA will relinquish it’s autocephaly is if all the Orthodox bishops in America formulated a NEW autocephalous church without foreign bishop intervention. The current Ep. Ass’ is a Greek controlled invention where the Bishop of Istanbul wishes to be a Pope. There are so many canons contrary to what the Bishop of Istanbul is doing it isn’t funny. There will be no Great and Holy Synod of all of world Orthodoxy. The Bishop of Istanbul may try to force such a council dominated by Greek lacky bishops,but Moscow will never agree to Greek World Domination. Orthodox Canon Law is clear; each territory is responsible for it’s own churches under it’s own bishops without foreign intervention. What the Bishop of Istanbul is pushing is domination under him; it won’t happen. I would be the first, as many others, to lead the creation of a new autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America that follows canon law and rejects the domination of any foreign bishops.

    • Here We Go Again says

      Typical anti-Greek rhetoric. Attack a supposed enemy so that you don’t have to look at your own warts.

      It is people like you that perpetuate Orthodox division here.

      • Thomas Jones says

        Supposed unity under one bishop is contrary to Orthodox Canon Law. This is the Roman Catholic form of Church Organization that Orthodoxy rejects.

        • Here We Go Again says

          Good Lord, are you saying that the EP is conspiring so all Orthodox will fall under it? Amazing but typical boggy man distraction not to deal with the shrinking role of the OCA.

          Here is another example of the irrelevance of the OCA. Where is the OCA in their planning, you know, the Local Church here? I am sure that in time the MP and ROCOR will inform the OCA what they are doing, after it has been decided.

          If the OCA really was the Local Church here, this meeting would have been chaired by the OCA as a clear indication that the MP/ROCOR recognize the OCA as the local church. Showing up in Russia and serving with the other guys looks great but when it doesn’t translate on the practical and local level, it is nothing more than PR.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Here we go, yes but don’t you know that “the Greeks are crazy and papal, the Antiochians are worldly and papal, the Russians are anachronistic and papal”. What we need is good old America anti-papal, realistic church that has no outsiders including Christ I presume since He comes from a foreign land too and He sure isn’t like us. He even breaks the canons by healing on the Sabbath!

        Triumphalistic, xenophobic nonsense.

    • “Greek World Domination”

      Well, I’m no fan of the Phanar, but that appellation I found truly amusing. Have you looked at the news regarding Greece lately? Or regarding, say, Hagia Sophia?

      You know, I think unity in America under the Phanar is a non-starter but at some point it does start to look like piling on to treat it as if it were SPECTRE or something.

    • Well why not? says

      Thomas Jones wrote:

      There will be no Great and Holy Synod of all of world Orthodoxy

      It happened before Mr. Jones. The year that all the Churches where convened at the request of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchure by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the former Patriarch Irineios was wrongfully removed from His position despite being found innocent of any wrong doing by all civil authorities concerning the false accusations of selling the properties belonging to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. They do plan on meeting again. It was published recently on

      The fact that the Phanar took such an interest in bishops that were being elected to the OCA several years ago (Bishop Melchisedek for example) and made it a point to have their representatives contact candidates (Bp. Melchisedek was contacted by Dn. John Chrysavgis and others) not to mention Bp. Melchisedek going through 79th street to get to the Phanar in order to get his canonical paper work snafu cleared up doesn’t speak well for the Phanar. You are going to have to do better if you want to convince me and others that they aren’t bent on world domination.

      Nice try, but I saw where they placed the mirrors and smoke machines.

  18. Thomas Jones says

    The Diptychs

    The Bishop of Istanbul wants all of Orthodoxy around the world to be organized according to the “Diptychs.” What are the Diptychs? The diptychs are a list of all the autocephalous churches listed from the top order of “honor.” Originally, the top order of honor was Rome, then Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. When Rome & Constantinople split (stating Rome fell into apostasy) the Primacy of Honor went to Constantinople. Then Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Russia, etc. Now, the Bishop who sits in the city of Primary Honor has certain responsibilities. These are: Chair the meetings when all the Patriarchs meet; be an arbitrator between the Patriarchs when disputes arise and keep records pertaining to all the other churches. This “Primacy of Honor” or “1st Among Equals” is ceremonial at best and does not give any special powers over the other autocephalous churches nor can it interfere with other churches. Rome had disregarded this honorary role and usurped more and more power and authority while falling into theological apostacy. All Orthodox Churches operated independently in their own territory. With the Episcopal Assemblies, + Bart wants all territories throughout the world to operate according to the Diptychs. This is contrary to Canon Law. He even states that this is a temporary arrangement to prepare for the Great & Holy Council. Those inside the Phanar clearly state that if the council should take place, + Bart would insist that the Diptychs become the established formula for church rule around the world. Therefore, in America, the Greek bishops would control all Orthodox Churches reporting to + Bart. Ain’t happen’in!

    • Well why not? says

      Actually according to the Diptychs, the one that would first have seniority would be Alexandria. Alexandria being the oldest see. Alexandria is also given the title “Judge of the World”, an honorary title because historically the Patriarch of Alexandria settled an argument with great pastoral care and wisdom. You will notice on the VFR website the recent photograph for the 1025 years for the celebration of Rus that the Patriarch of Alexandria has the central position, with Jerusalem on his right, and Georgia on his right and so on.. this is the order of the ancient sees.

      • Thomas Jones says

        Canon 36 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 681 states:

        “Let the throne of Constantinople be next after that of Rome and enjoy equal privileges. After it Alexandria, then Antioch and then Jerusalem.”

        • Well why not? says

          Exactly the point. It is a false set up of seniority, undermining the right ordering of the historic relevance of the Churches. Please put the canon into context Mr. Jones. For what REASON was that canon created, and does that REASON still exist?

          The Byzantine Empire died a long time ago. There is no reason for Constantinople to continue to hold the place of primacy as the “imperial” center. To insist that Constantinople holds the place of primacy only cements the argument that the Phanar still views itself as the imperial seat of a dormant empire waiting for resurrection and to go out and conquer “new lands” (the USA anyone?).

          As it currently exists, the Phanar is the brain child of a demented ego.

          I notice that you did not address the fact that a Great and Holy Synod did happen previously in recent history, just a few years ago to remove the former Patriarch of Jerusalem Irineios from his throne, nor did you address the fact that it was announced recently on that there would be yet another Great and Holy Orthodox Synod .

          I am curious how you would form your own Orthodox Church as you mention in a previous post. Do you plan to dig up the hand of deceased bishop and ordain yourself perhaps? Don’t laugh, it’s been done before. Quite literally laying on of hands. Obedience at least to the spirit of the law.

          • What in the world are you all talking about regarding a recent Great and Holy Synod? I don’t recall that a call went out to all Orthodox bishops of the world to assemble in a particular locale. I think you are mischaracterizing a local assembly. The Synod of Jerusalem voted to depose him. A Pan-Orthodox conference in Constantinople upheld this deposition, but there was no Great and Holy Synod, nor do I expect one anytime soon.

            Now, that being said, it is true that the reason for Constantinople being the first among equals was its status as capital of the Roman Empire. That being no longer the case, it would make sense to reorder the diptychs which, at this point, read in the order – Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. Personally, it makes more sense to me to permanently vest Jerusalem as first among equals to get past the notion of imperial capital as the appropriate place. However, if we are going to abide by the old rationale, Moscow is the logical primus, it being the capital of the largest Orthodox nation in the world.

            • Well why not? says

              Hello Misha,

              Please see the following:


              Second paragraph from the bottom (item in bold is my emphasis):

              Theophilos III was elected as the new Patriarch on 22 August 2005 by the Synod. The election was confirmed by the pan-Orthodox Synod of Istanbul (Constantinople) and he was enthroned on 22 November 2005.

              If you wish to know which other Patriarchs where in attendance or which Patriarchs sent their representatives to this Pan-Orthodox council I suppose that one can always ask them.

              The fact of the matter is that by allowing +Bartholomew to convene this council for the reason he convened it the other Patriarchs set up a dangerous and highly irregular canonical precedence. You all imagine that it “ain’t gonna happen'”? Hate to break it to ya’, but it already has.

          • Thomas Jones says

            To Well why not?

            This particular canon was created to show an “ordo.” Just as in the Holy Trinity, there is an “ordo.” Everything comes from the Father, done by the Son through the Holy Spirit. They are all equally God, but an “ordo” exists. In the Roman/Byzantine Empire, territory around the Mediterranean Sea, Rome was the capital. This is where the Emperor resided and his bishop. That changed to Constantinople and then Rome fell into apostasy. If Constantinople fell into apostasy, what city would be next to uphold True Christianity? Again, 1st among equals didn’t give that bishop any ruling authority over the other bishops, except when they were backed up by the Emperor and his army. As you point out, the Bishop of Istanbul today, has no authority outside his territory and certainly not in North America. There was no Great and Holy Synod held recently. Both Jerusalem & Alexandria placed themselves under the authority of Constantinople when the Muslims took over their cities. When the Pat. of Jerusalem was removed, this was done by the Synod of the Bishop of Istanbul. I am well aware of how the Ukrainians used a dead bishops hand to ordain their own clerics; ridiculous. If this Great & Holy Synod took place, it would be dominated by Greek bishops and bishop lackeys of the Bishop of Istanbul. (Damascus, etc.) The Russian presence would be marginal and probably as observers. In any event, one the decisions made would certainly be that ONLY the Bishop of Istanbul could grant autocephaly. He would then try to take the bishops of the Epis. Ass’ and make them the permanent church authority in every country. Surprise, surprise, the Greek bishops in every country would rule doing nothing without the approval of the Bishop of Istanbul. Thus, an Eastern Pope. This will cause divisions in the Orthodox Church and many refusing to accept this council. The Russians in particular will tell the Bish. of Istanbul to go pound sand. UNLESS, some incredible deal could be forged with Moscow. There would be so much schism, that many clerics will rebel and new autocephalous Orthodox Churches will be set up. Protest from Istanbul would take place condemning these new churches, but the new churches will easily claim that Istanbul and it’s council was a “robber council” and non-canonical.

            • Well why not? says

              Essentially they’ve already put into action the process you have described.

              For example:

              Let’s say that you Thomas Jones are the supreme ruler and law maker of country Teal. All authority rests with you. It is your job to discern that all who wish entrance under your authority are qualified and meet the criteria under the established laws. All of a sudden, in the name of “unity” and “communion” you are invited to an “assembly” because you share a common t-shirt size. This assembly sets up several sub-groups within itself with various representatives from the different countries to over view different things which were formerly under your own purvue. You are no longer the supreme ruler and law maker of your own country. Your discernment is now under review by “brothers” who claim to have some sort of authority “over” you by virtue of belonging to the assembly of a common t-shirt size.

              This is what is being done with the Assembly of Bishops. If you take the time to look at the various committees that have been set up, you will see that powers and authorities that until recently fell under the authority of bishops in their own dioceses have been reassigned to the Bishop’s Assembly. They are evaluating whether or not monasteries are in proper canonical order, whether parishes are in good standing, etc. These are the responsibilities of the individual Bishops, not a team of marionettes, which is what the Bishop’s Assembly boils down to.