Good News All the Way Around

The other day, Abbot Gerasim Eliel was consecrated to the episcopate as Bishop of Ft Worth,  Gail and I had the extreme pleasure to attend the services.  More will be said later but after what we experienced in Dallas, I would like to state that those foreigners who say that America is not “spiritually mature enough for autocephaly” don’t know what they’re talking about.*  

Today, however, I wish to write about something that also brings cheer to my heart.  At the same time that we were celebrating Abbott Gerasim’s elevation to the episcopate, His Holiness, Patriarch John X of Antioch received a distinguished visitor:  His Eminence, Metropolitan Anthony of Boryspil, the Chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.  (The real one.)

Please click on the link so that you see it for yourself:

*My warmest congratulations to the Diocese of the South for the marvelous work they did in hosting the hundreds of people who attended Abbott Gerasim’s consecration.  I’d never seen St Seraphim’s so packed before. The Orthodox Church in America deserves much recognition for helping make this possible.  

His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon proved to be a commanding presence as well. One little boy asked him as he passed, “Are you the high guy?”  He thought for a moment and said, “Yes.  Yes, I am.”  –  Hold onto that thought, Your Beatitude.  Hold onto that thought.  


About GShep


  1. Ronda Wintheiser says


    I don’t mean to rain on this parade; my thought is not relevant to the actual story. I’m responding to your comment about autocephaly.

    Had our hierarchs and clergy not behaved (generally speaking; I know there are exceptions) as they did over the past year and a half, I would have enthusiastically agreed with you that America is ready for autocephaly…

    • Amen Ronda! I was going to make virtually the exact same comment. You beat me to it.

      • George Michalopulos says

        In fairness, I saw a grand total of three masketeers during the entire event.

        Your point is well-taken but we should remember that the Branch Covidian hysteria was observed in more “mature” Orthodox locales as well.

    • Seraphim says

      Can anyone name me anyone except Metropolitan Neophytos who has shown over the last year they are faithful enough to guide a diocese? Maybe Metropolitan Jonah? I don’t know what his stance on all this covid bs has been.

      • I’m not as familiar with the bishops, but, I can tell you that during covid, it was the parish priest who flew under the radar, spoke out and kept the churches open. I can attest to this personally and Fr. Peter Heers mentioned it as well in a constant stream of emails he received letting him know that there are parishes that stayed open and kept it “secret.” not to mention the monasteries. St. Anthony’s in Arizona stayed open during Pascha. Did most of the bishops fail? Sure. But the laity and the priests held strong, not all, but many

        • Gail Sheppard says

          A priest will not be able to fly under the radar if there is a split. They won’t be able to commune schismatics.

          • Seraphim says

            I don’t think they would even try, Gail
            Petros, is right that some priests acted honorably despite the bishops. Though for me, keeping the churches open wasn’t enough. When you disinfect everything, discourage veneration of icons, tell pro to wear masks, etc, that’s a failure as well. There are many great priests out there but even many of those toed the line, probably out of “obedience”. But a few did things completely normal.

            Ultimately, though, the original post was about the response of the bishops. And it bums me out to say my trust most of them has been shaken. So ultimately I will do what I can to be faithful. We should pray for unity, but at this post can they really shock us further?

  2. Austin Martin says

    In addition to all of the above news, Bill Cosby’s conviction was overturned. Chalk up another loss for the feminists.

  3. Well if we called out Patriarch Bartholomew for meeting with the Pope we should call out Patriarch John for doing the same this week. Though Patriarch John’s visit seems to be purely political

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Oh, I think it’s clear they’re all going to picking sides.

      • I just have serious doubts that Antioch would chose Rome/Bartholomew over Moscow, for lack of better terms.

        Bartholomew didn’t help Antioch when they asked for it with their spat with Jerusalem. Antioch isn’t ethnically Greek and gets a lot of help from Russia. There is just zero reason to think Antioch would benefit from going along with Bartholomew.

        Plus the fact that I’d be willing to bet Antioch would lose the entirety of its flock in America, who are mostly converts.

        • Anonymous II says

          Patriarch John won’t side with Pope, Bart and other commies of the ‘compromised’ church – they’re the ones waging war in his country of Syria! He knows that, and this is why he met Putin with Assad not too long ago.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          RE: “Bartholomew didn’t help Antioch when they asked for it with their spat with Jerusalem.”

          Right you are and Antioch is never going to get over it. The one time (not that there weren’t others) two patriarchates ask for Bartholomew’s involvement and he declines. I doubt they will ever side with Bartholomew.

          Ukraine? – Against the advice of practically all his brother bishops, Bartholomew moves forward without a council. He knew what Russia’s reaction would because they told him many times. Pat. Kirill begged him not to do it. – Don’t tell me about the Great and Holy Council and how Russia could have addressed it there: it wasn’t on the agenda.

          What people don’t understand is that an Orthodox Christian’s loyalty is to the canonical Church and to the canons that govern it. Period. It doesn’t matter what you think about Putin or Russia. With respect to Ukraine, our loyalty is to the Moscow Patriarchate. Kiev and all Ukraine are under His Beatitude, Metropolitan Onufriy, the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the MP.

          On the other hand, the OCU is not (canonical). They aren’t even ordained. They were brought in under Bartholomew as schismatics.

          Had a decision been made through a council, either way, we wouldn’t have to deal with this mess. It’s now to the point where all the bishops are culpable because they failed to act, i.e. either to embrace the OCU or sanction Bartholomew.

          Even if the bishops were inclined to let Bartholomew get away with it, their indecisiveness has fractured the Church and put us in an impossible position. The bishops who initially did not support Bartholomew, but later did, are especially to blame. We should be able to trust our bishops to stand behind their words. Changing their minds, with no explanation, is unacceptable. They were either following the evil one when they first objected or following the evil one now, by embracing Bartholomew’s position.

          You can see what a mess this is going to be in America. By the end of the year, we’ll have a schism here, as well. It’s a shame, too, because as dysfunctional as we were, we could still commune in each other’s parishes. So much for unity. And they say we’re “too young and spiritually immature” to be a patriarchate. Really?

          The Church has become like jello without a mold; one big gooey mess.

          If Bartholomew doesn’t come to his senses and/or the bishops fail to act, they will all go down in history as the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight.”

          Not something I would like to have on my resume before Christ.

          • Most, I fear, will go down in history (as one faithful bishop who owned up to his own responsibilities recently wrote) as “shrewdly neutral… colorless, indifferent, listless, and complacent.”

            I have no desire whatsoever for schism, and it can be avoided. But it will not be avoided – indeed it will only deepen – if our hierarchs continue to refuse to acknowledge that schism has been thrust upon them and thus fail in their duty to call the perpetrators to repentance.

            Unity is a gift of the Holy Spirit that they (and all of us) are called to preserve. But for many “unity” (so-called) has become an idol to which every other gift is all-too-easily be sacrificed.

            Just as there is no truth without love, so there can be no love without truth. Few relish the prospect of conflict (least of all myself), but indifference in the face of extreme hubris, lawlessness, and manifest error is neither love nor the preservation of the gift of unity. It is comfortable listlessness, colorless neutrality, and complacency masquerading as the bond of peace.

          • Gail, you are so right. After Bartholomew goes to Ukraine—the hammer will fall, and fall it will. There will be a big mess for us here in North America from the fallout. We ALL need to be PREPARED.

            • Curious as to what ACROD will do. They are, after all, originally ethnically Rusyn but are under C’ple thanks to the late Met. Orestes’s “neither Rome nor Moscow” journey in the 1930s.

              They’re essentially from the same stock as the core of the OCA, only about 30-40 years later, after St Alexis (Toth) brought his groups of Rusyns back to Orthodoxy.

              I pray that ACROD comes to the OCA or ROCOR, but their bishop is ethnically Greek. I know nothing about him, but what I make up is that most ethnically Greek bishops in the C’ple jurisdiction will stick with Patr Bartholomew rather than remain faithful to Orthodoxy and Christ’s Holy Church. I wonder if the ACROD faithful care one way or another?

              • At least two ACROD priests and at least one parish have already joined ROCOR since the Ukraine issue flared up. Maybe some more are waiting on the wings.

          • Rusty Shackelford says

            Bartholomew didn’t help Antioch when they asked for it with their spat with Jerusalem

            I wasn’t around for that. What happened?

            fractured the Church and put us in an impossible position

            Will you please expound on the impossible position? What does that mean?

            By the end of the year, we’ll have a schism here, as well

            Why do you use that timeframe, and how will the lines be drawn?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Antioch and Jerusalem’s dispute is over ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

              If the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not back out of Ukraine, it will cause a permanent schism between the Greeks and the Russians. (It already has but thus far the bishops have refused to address it.)

              In America, Bartholomew wants to unite all the jurisdictions under him, claiming we’re part of the diaspora. He is in the process of creating a new charter to this effect.

              We would certainly like to unite in this country, but if we go under the Greeks, we would be out of communion with Russia and all that side with her, making true unity here impossible.

              Bartholomew is due to come here in November where he will probably announce the new charter. That’s when people will have to choose between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Russia.

              My prediction? The jurisdictions will have nothing to do with a new charter under the Greeks after what Bartholomew did in Ukraine in 2018.

              Because all the jurisdictions are tied to foreign mother Churches, the choices the mother Churches make will dictate ours. This will cause a schism in America, with the Greeks on one side and the rest of us on the other.

              The break Bartholomew started in Ukraine caused a fissure all the way down to the United States, ripping apart any ideas we had about unity.

              And this SHOULDN’T have happened. Causing a schism is the worst thing a bishop can do. So many will be lost. There can be but one Orthodox Church.

              • Rusty Shackelford says

                Thank you for the reply.

                Will you please elaborate on the ecclesiastical jurisdictional dispute between Antioch and Jerusalem?

                Also, do you know why the Jerusalem patriarchate gave up its parishes in America? What did they gain by giving them over?

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  Some of this on Google. – Antioch and Jerusalem have recently met. Perhaps they have worked some of this out but I’m up on their progress. I had no idea the Jerusalem patriarchate gave up its parishes in America.

                  • Rusty Shackelford says

                    I think it was in the 90’s. my understanding it was related to the Evangelical Orthodox Church. I believe that they are under the EP and the GOA. What I cant figure out, is what did the Jerusalem patriarchate get out of the deal that they thought it was worthwhile transaction.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      I can’t answer that.

                      The EOC is with the Antiochian Archdiocese. The metropolitan prior to Metropolitan Joseph was Metropolitan Philip and he felt those parishes should have fallen under him. I do remember that.

                      The EOC supported Metropolitan Philip because he was the only one who let them into the Church. They were incredibly grateful as a result.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Jerusalem’s parishes in the US were ceded to the GOA; However, chafing under the GOA, they petitioned to be released about a year ago. As I understand it, they’re now in ROCOR.

                    • All of them? That’s pretty cool if it’s true. I wonder why we haven’t seen anything about it anywhere, besides Fr. John peck’s rebranding of his missionary work as being under ROCOR. If true, it’s a pretty significant event in American Orthodoxy.

                  • Jerusalem got cajoled into handing its US parishes over to the EP, although I’m not sure of the circumstances.

                    George mentioned a month or so ago that the Palestinian-Jordanian Vicariate of the EP (the former Jerusalem parishes) had been dissolved or something, but never gave any more info. Do you have anything else to give us on that one? I’ve heard nothing elsewhere about that, although I do know that a couple of priests and parishes have switched to ROCOR.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      “After a long process that began in 1993, related to the ecclesiastical status of a portion of the Palestinian and Jordanian communities in the USA (the portion connected to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem), there was a final agreed decision by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem concerning these communities. The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Jerusalem Patriarchate agreed that the canonical and pastoral supervision of these communities and their clergy would belong to the canonically established jurisdiction in the United States which is the Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne in America, that is, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The agreement was signed in Jerusalem on February 28, 2007. Archbishop Demetrios of America was the senior representative for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and signed on its behalf.

                      The process of implementation continued through 2008, when His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem met at the Ecumenical Patriarchate and concluded final details, including the creation of the Vicariate for Palestinian/Jordanian Christian Orthodox Communities in the USA. Following the meeting at the Phanar, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America was directed to proceed with the implementation of the agreements by the creation of a Vicariate for the clergy and communities within the Archdiocese of America. The clergy and communities of the Vicariate will be directly under the Archbishop of America and will report to the Archdiocese through the Archiepiscopal Vicar, The Very Rev. Protopresbyter George Jweinat.”

                      I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Bartholomew claimed all the clergy and communities in question in America belong to him. This seems to be his default position: “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.”


                • For Antioch’s view, see:

                  Carol Saba on the Rupture of Communion
                  between Antioch and Jerusalem



                  Antioch’s Response to Jerusalem Over Qatar Turf War

                • Antiochene Son says

                  In a nutshell, back in 2014 I think, Jerusalem consecrated a parish in Qatar (and possibly a bishop as well?), which is Antioch’s territory.

                  This break in communion was a big deal. It was the first time I remember a communication directly from the Holy Synod being read in church (usually messages come from the Metropolitan). Antiochian parishioners are not permitted to commune in Jerusalem churches, which doesn’t matter in America because there are none, but I heard of some Holy Land pilgrimages being canceled in the aftermath due to this.

                  While there has been a thaw and communications have been happening lately, there has not been a restoration of communion yet. I hope to God the matter is settled soon.

                • The Qatar thing is very strange. Both Jerusalem and Antioch claim it as canonical territory. Below is a summary of the basis of Jerusalem’s claim:


                  I’ve not read an explication of Antioch’s canonical basis but I’m sure there is one. Constantinople seems quite cagey about the whole matter, sometimes leaning toward Jerusalem, sometimes avoiding the whole matter. It seems that last year they almost came to some type of arrangement to resolve the thing but then that seems to have fallen through. I’m glad someone is opening up Qatar, that perhaps is the most important thing. The turf battle is unfortunate but resolvable so I don’t want to take a position other than to suggest that it may be a legitimate bona fide dispute of murky allocations through the canons. I’ve never researched it in depth.

                  It does have political implications, however, that extend far beyond the narrow jurisdictional claims of either patriarchate. There is going to be a Second Great Schism from Orthodoxy. The leadership of the soon to be schismatics is not in question. That is Constantinople.

                  However, there is no clear canonical leader of the remaining Church at this point inasmuch as there is a sub-schism between Antioch and Jerusalem, the two contenders for official leadership according to the diptychs. Alexandria has and will follow Constantinople in its recognition of the schismatic pseudo-church in the Ukraine and its movement toward a Unia with Rome.

                  Jerusalem has presided thus far at the Amman meeting of the remaining Church. Antioch has been aloof, allegedly due to the Qatar situation but also to avoid contributing to conflict between brethren. This aloofness is unsustainable. It seems likely that Antioch will eventually lead the remnant; however, it may be seeking to leverage toward an optimum deal with Jerusalem (and Russia) in order to maximize its power within the new Church order before lending its full support. That would be the wise course.

                  Yet it is a dicey business. Antioch remains New Calendar and less that solid regarding ecumenism. It has relatively strong ties with the Greek local churches but operates out of Syria which has a solid Russian presence. Jerusalem is waiting in the wings, but I don’t think the Antiochians are stupid enough to screw up a chance to be at the top of the diptychs of the Orthodox Church, post CP Unia. Especially not with Russia’s political support in Syria.

                  The cat fight in Qatar can be resolved. It’s small potatoes. Flip a coin and get on with it.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Selling properties was involved and the loss of money from the parishes in America of which there are many. (12 in CA alone.)

                    Qatar resides in the territory belonging to Antioch. It may be a small issue, but not to Antioch. They bring it up at every opportunity.

                    • Gail (and/or George),

                      Can you point me to the canonical basis for Antioch’s jurisdiction in Qatar or the Arabian peninsula? As I linked, I have read the JP’s claims. They seem sketchy but I don’t really have a solid appreciation of Antioch’s side. Saying, “it’s ours” is obviously not enough. I assume that there are canons that grant them jurisdiction over the Arabian peninsula? I’m genuinely curious. If someone from the Antiochian Patriarchate has done an article on it referencing the canons, that would be perfect. I assume over the course of the dispute, someone’s bothered to reduce the nuts and bolts to writing.

                      PS: I’m surfing and I see some stuff from Chalcedon regarding the Palestines, Phoenices and Arabia. Seems that this has been adjudicated on that basis.

          • Antiochene Son says

            Not to mention that Antioch had clear misgivings about the Crete council, which they wanted dealt with before the council met. Bartholomew refused to do so, and has misrepresented Antioch with anger ever since. After Antioch pulled out, three other churches did also. That was a huge embarrassment for Bartholomew.

            I think he wanted Crete to be a trial run for a reunion council with Rome, basically to prove to Rome we had our act together and could pull it off. His refusal to postpone was a game of chicken, and Antioch didn’t blink.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              It was, in fact, the offiical reason they withdrew.

              • This is true. Word on the street was that a very high Vatican delegation was there lying in wait for some breakthrough. The Cretan Robber Council was a CIA/MI5/Mossad operation. Trouble is the Russians have equally good intel and they orchestrated the last minute pullout of Georgia, Antioch and Bulgaria. They almost got Serbia to pull out but the Serbs took a very non-committal approach to the whole thing, which further rained on Bartholomew’s parade.

          • Agreed. As much as I want something to happen now (I’m inpatient I guess), it just doesn’t seem that anything will “officially” start until Bartholomew comes to America in November and the Church of Russia meets in November as well. I believe the Russian Synod meets after Bartholomew will be in America so perhaps they are waiting as well.

            One thing that could expedite the process before November:

            Barring Divine Intervention, Bartholomew is going to Ukraine in August. There has been speculation that he might “excommunicate” Met. Onuphry and the canonical Ukrainian Church. We recently got a foretaste of this from one of his clergymen. If this happens I expect the Church of Russia to not wait until November, and other local Churches (possibly) to formally smack down Bartholomew. I don’t really see any other option if he excommunicates the primate/Church that the majority of the Orthodoxy world sees as being canonical. Luckily, from what I have seen, thousands from the canonical Church will be there to “welcome” Bartholomew and make their presence know, if you will.

            Here in America I’m actually not as pessimistic. Will there be fallout? Sure. But I think the majority of lay people will do the right thing and stay in canonical Orthodoxy. ROCOR/Serbs/Georgians/Ephraim Monasteries & many GOARCH parishes or priests are not likely to go along with the split.
            I think the same can be said of the majority of Antiochians.
            The OCA outside of the Diocese of the South I can’t say because I am not familiar, but, if Archbishop Alexander tries to follow the Greeks I expect almost every DoS parish to leave, probably to ROCOR. I agree that it will be bad short-term in America but when the dust settles I expect the average lay person and priest, even in the Greek Archdiocese to make the right decision.
            From what I have heard “on the ground” the vibe that I get right now in GOARCH is that many of the clergy/laity are in a “wait and see what happens next” situation as it is a big deal for clergy to switch jurisdictions.

            In the end, only God knows how this will play out. But, similar to the situation after the Council of Florence I believe it will be the laity who do the right thing, even in Greece and Cyprus. In Alexandria they are screwed (sorry to use that term) if they formally go along as the majority of their Church are non-Greek Africans.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Although everything you’ve said is true, there will be a split. I think of people like George whose entire family is in the GOA. He won’t be able to commune with them.

              • Yea that would be very unfortunate. Hopefully the priest at the parish where George’s family goes will not stay with GOARCH when the time comes

  4. The Russian palestine society has been the protector of the christian arabs for two hundred years,,,,they have not russified their fellow christians,,,much unlike the record of the hellenists

  5. Gail Sheppard says

    This might prove helpful:

    “Why is Antioch not in communion with Jerusalem? In short, because in 2013 the Jerusalem Patriarchate appointed a bishop in Qatar, an area that has been defined as part of the territory of Antioch since at least the fifth century. According to Orthodox canonical tradition, the proper response to an incursion into universally defined ecclesiastical territory is a break in communion—a step that Antioch took after trying to work things out with Jerusalem for about a year. (See this detailed timeline for a full background…

    The situation—a Jerusalem priest serving in Antioch’s territory—was provisional at best. But there is a reason why no Antiochian clergyman had been assigned to the parish in Qatar: The Qatari government wouldn’t allow it. Qatar is fomenting unrest in Syria, and since the Antiochian church is based in Damascus, Qatar will not issue visas to Antioch’s clergy. It is therefore impossible for Antioch to minister directly to this piece of its territory.

    The arrangement of allowing a Jerusalem cleric to serve the parish while commemorating the Antiochian bishop worked fine until March 2013, when Jerusalem decided to consecrate its priest in Qatar as the “Archbishop of Qatar.” In Orthodox ecclesiastical terms, naming an archbishop for a territory is claiming it. But what need is there for an archbishop for a single parish? What’s more, the Jerusalem Patriarchate does not maintain a diocesan structure. All of its bishops are essentially auxiliaries to the patriarch, and most of them do not even live in their sees (and haven’t for centuries).

    It is hard to see how this act on Jerusalem’s part was in any way a response to a pastoral need in Qatar, especially given the concerns of many of the faithful under Jerusalem’s care. When Antioch responded to this provocation, Jerusalem rejoined by claiming not only Qatar but also the archdiocese of Bosra (Bostra) and Hauran in Syria (all of Syria is under Antioch). In June 2013, an agreement was hammered out in Athens that returned things to the status quo ante. But Jerusalem immediately reneged on this agreement and refused to withdraw its claim.

    Since 2013, Antioch has repeatedly attempted to resolve the situation, not least by asking the Ecumenical Patriarch to mediate a settlement, a role traditionally played by Orthodoxy’s most senior hierarch. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has a strong record of influence over Jerusalem: In 2008, Bartholomew successfully removed Jerusalem’s presence in the US, and in 2005, he led a pan-Orthodox council that deposed the previous patriarch. To date, however, he has not resolved the Qatar issue. . .”

    • Yes, having looked into the matter, Gail is right on this:

      It appears that Jerusalem took advantage of political circumstances to nose its way into Qatar when the Qataris were excluding Antiochian clergy. Chalcedon is quite clear and Jerusalem’s claims (to which I linked above) are quite sketchy and based on historical circumlocutions rather than any hard evidence.

      • Historically Qatar was known Beth Qataraye and outside Byzantine political jurisdiction and under the Sassanid Persia. Christianity came to this region from missionaries from the Mesopotamian Church otherwise known as the Church of the East which became independent of Antioch long before Chalcedon. Saint Isaac the Syrian was born in this region. It would raise the question as to whether Chalcedon refers to was Byzantine Arabia and not Qatar which was still part of the Persian Empire.

        • I suppose I will reemphasize my original point: How many Qatari Orthodox are there and why is the jurisdiction of Qatar seen as more important than who tops the diptychs in the emerging Church?

          I reread Patriarch Theophilus’ explication and the Chalcedon canons also referenced above and will recoil from taking sides though it appears that Jerusalem did not take the context of its actions into account, even if its ruminations are correct on the murkiness of which conciliar references to Arabia apply to present day Qatar.

          But again, why are they fighting over peanuts when there’s money on the table? It strikes me as a) petty and b) politically contrived.

          When people fight over stuff like this, there are reasons behind the reasons offered. I suppose the magic question is why did Jerusalem initiate this? Antioch sees it has a bargaining chip, that is clear enough.

          • I think the answer indicates the tenor of the times in which we live. Evidently, Jerusalem saw this train wreck coming back in 2013. And one did not need to be a prophet to see that the Phanar was moving toward a Unia and that the Greek local churches might very well follow it, especially Alexandria.

            That being the case, you have the final demise of the Pentarchy. Rome left long ago, but now Constantinople and Alexandria are late for the door. Jerusalem must have been thinking that the time was becoming ripe for it to press for a bigger slice of the jurisdictional pie in the event of a complete corporate reorganization at the top. They may have forseen horse trading revived anew as it was in the fifth century based on the reality that Constantinople and Alexandria are departing and that no Orthodox bishops would be appointed in the place of those who slide into a Unia (just like the Orthodox are loathe to appoint an Orthodox bishop of Rome because of the automatic entitlements that pertain to that see).

            Whatever has been under the jurisdiction of Constantinople may soon be up for grabs. Antioch would be the most likely to benefit from this and so Jerusalem may have been thinking that a general reallocation of percentages was in order. Staking a claim in Qatar and laying claim to yet other territories gives them a leg up in the impending negotiations. All very Mediterranean Mafia type intrigue.

            That would explain the behavior.

  6. I would like to state that those foreigners who say that America is not “spiritually mature enough for autocephaly” don’t know what they’re talking about.

    Many said something similar when Met Jonah was elected. The Diocese of the South sadly had one of the worst responses to COVID with churches being completely closed in areas where this wasn’t even required by civil authorities. Bp Gerasim made shameful statements about COVID and supported all of the measures of church closures, masking, confessing from a distance, etc. I know many who left the OCA for other jurisdictions as a result and a large group of people in my area have started a mission parish under another jurisdiction specifically because of the Diocese of the South’s terribly unfortunate response to COVID which deprived many of the live-giving Mysteries at such a critical time.

    The spiritual maturity of a jurisdiction has nothing to do with organizing a nice gathering for an episcopal consecration. Spiritual maturity has to do with an ecclesiastical and patristic phronema. The OCA continues to tolerate the most obscene distortions of the Faith and has not produced much in the way of authentic monastic witness nor saints that are recognized and venerated as such universally. When formally respected monastics enter the OCA and find themselves in line for consecration to the episcopacy, it appears that they become further corrupted by this association rather than becoming fearless leaders of authentic and unadullterated Orthodoxy, dashing the hopes of many.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I was making a joke that those who have caused the split think we lack spiritual maturity when they can’t reach a decision on a canonical matter! We is America, not the OCA. At least we have enough decorum to breathe the same air! I can’t say that for all of them.

      It’s difficult going from mission status to parish status so the jury is still out. Going into it comparing your little group favorably to an autocephalous Church seems a bit audacious to me but we’ll see.

      The covid regulations were pretty much the same across the board. I think it was unwise for some of the bishops to “wink” and look the other way while others insisted their priests follow the restrictions. But that’s apparently what happened even within the same jurisdiction.

      At least one of your statements is pejorative and flatout inaccurate, although I agree with your sentiments and share your frustration.

      • Gail, feel free to address what remark I made that you considered pejorative and inaccurate. The COVID regulations were definitely not across the board in the South. There were certainly jurisdictions where we were able to attend multiple parishes throughout the South that never closed, never required masks, never deprived the faithful of Holy Communion, and whose bishops did not formally require this and did not merely wink at the nonobservance of these things. There may have been priests in the OCA that disobeyed their bishops and allowed everything to proceed as normal, but Bp Gerasim was officially and formally pro-mask and all the rest. Actually, just the other week, a friend of mine saw him and heard him openly criticize those who are against masks, those who refuse the vaccine, and those who voted for Trump.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Then, according to this friend of yours, I guess I represent everything he hates! Oh, my. I wonder why he called me and asked me to bring his 90-year-old father to the banquet. I didn’t wear a mask or take the vaccine. (Unfortunately, his plane was delayed and couldn’t make it.)

          I’ll have to ask Bishop Gerasim about your friend. You might tell your friend, my priest, who is directly under Bishop Gerasim, ran our parish with a wink and a nod, too.

  7. Christopher McAvoy says


    I wholeheartedly agree with your statements, likewise I am frustrated with how many of the faithful people are slow to accept that they have been betrayed by those who claim to be the hierarchs of the Church. These hierarchs rightfully must repent for their betrayal of the flock, for they have in so many ways denied Christ and revealed the prototypical ways of the anti-Christ. They foreshadow how much betrayal is possible into the future as well.

    The Church does not deny the flock which Christ gave to be tended. Many of these bishops today in the OCA and across many “popular” (worldly) jurisdictions have betrayed Christ and denied the marks that identify the Church. Therefore all of us who recognize this are called by Christ to humbly, courageously, lovingly reject falsehood and cleave to the truth. The Holy Ghost will lead to everything else in time, if we are faithful, wherever the Church remains will eventually thrive again.

    It is my own supposition Mr. and Mrs. Michaelopoulos are doing their best to be good noble stewards of the faith. I have a great respect for them and I greatly admire what they do for defense of the faith. The articles and perspectives shared on monomakhos are important but I do believe there may be some statements which might appear too radical for them – or at least based upon knowledge of situations which not all have.

    As like yourself, I also have been present both in the southern USA and Pennsylvannia over the last year and have seen the disparity of the Church’s approach to this political “medical” situation in both regions. The disparity between different jurisdictions and clergy has been quite incredulous; some open, some closed, sometimes inconsistent. We all have are limitations, sins and blindness which we should hope in time heals us so that the full grace we need to recognize truth is brought to illumine our hearts. This same grace will of course also better be to keep us on the path to salvation.

    I believe some of the patrons of this blog emphasize the good aspects of the OCA while not as easily accepting how they more important dereliction of faith in the OCA is ultimately all that counts. It is not for us to know how our heavenly father will allow the purification and repentence of the Church but to be part of that Church which remains Orthodox. Until the OCA has done this, it is ultimately perhaps not as important a topic for many of us who have seen what mockery of the faith it represents, but God is not to be mocked. May the Lord have mercy on us.

    “Be not deceived, God is not mocked. [8] For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting. [9] And in doing good, let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not failing. [10] Therefore, whilst we have time, let us work good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” – Galatians 6

    I think at the end of the day the importance of cleaving to the “old calendar” makes some difference and ought to be a pre-requisite (which often rules out the OCA, Antioch and Goarch ) but the old calendar alone does not deny worldly compromise and error either, it is however a good starting point for basic level of what is necessary for other elements of greater degree of faithfulness to be manifest.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Christopher, this is a very thoughtful comment you make here, bringing up several points. Gail has responded to many of them but I’d like to add this one in particular: while it is true that the OCA mishandled the entire response to the COVID hysteria, in the interest of fairness I must point out that all of the jurisdictions in America botched things up completely. (Remember the multiple-spoon debacle which Bartholomew walked back, leaving Elpidophoros to hang out to dry?

      Some jurisdictions were less culpable than others but even within jurisdictions there was a lot of disparity. So there’s more than enough blame to go around.

      Myself, I must take some responsibility for my own cussedness regarding these responses. Although events have seem to bear out our (Gail and I) conclusions regarding the lethality and virulence of COVID, my own response at times has been uncharitable to those who took the opposite view.

      This is of a mind with the Iconoclast controversy. Although the iconodules won out in the end, many did admit that iconoclasm itself was a somewhat understandable response to some of the iconodules’ excesses. When the dust finally settled, Patriarch Photius the Great welcomed back iconoclastic bishops with open arms. When asked, why he was an iconoclast, one bishop told Photius, “I was born that way”. In other words, his parents were iconoclasts (as were their parents). It was normative.

      In the end, charity prevailed.

      Now, perhaps I’m being naive; what if there is a “second wave”? What if the so-called delta variant rears its ugly head? Will the bishops go back into lock-down mode? I for one, hope that they learned their lesson. We shall see. In the meantime, the taxis, phronema and sobriety we saw in Dallas stands on its own. Orthodoxy is its own reward.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      One of our rules is to avoid pejorative statement’s about other commentators on the blog who, of course, would include us. Frankly, no one can intuit what we “easily accept because it’s too radical”. Those who are fans of this blog should know that’s not how we operate. –You have no idea how much fire we’ve taken on over the last decade and I’d like to think it’s because we’ve taken on the hard issues.

      BTW, I appreciate your kind words and thoughtful consideration. It didn’t go unnoticed. Thank you!

      About the OCA: We don’t try to single them out nor do we ignore them.

      In general, if one cannot see some good in a situation, it’s a pretty safe bet they’re missing part of the bigger picture. To say something was good is not the same as saying there isn’t plenty to work on, which we’ve acknowledged across the board jurisdictionally. You’ll be hearing more about this in the days to come.

      We are as frustrated as the rest of you. I truly mean it. And we all are not wrong to feel that way. The Church belongs to the entire Body of Christ and changes to our traditions should not be subject to the goings-on of the secular world.

      In the case of the “friend of a friend” scenario, I think it’s a mistake to assign blame to someone based on what a third party tells you and expect anyone else to entertain it when the one passing on the story is anonymous. It makes a lot more sense to get feedback from the people you KNOW, like George & me. If someone doesn’t feel we’re straightforward and honest, they’re wasting their time reading our blog.

      We visited the Catherdral under His Grace, Bishop Gerasim, several months ago and only a few people were wearing masks. He is aware, no doubt, that we are avid Trump supporters but considers us worthy enough to help him with a family member. He has never asked about our vaccination status. To portray him as a dictator is so far removed from our personal experience with him we can’t let it go unchallenged.

      We don’t need to label a situation as “all bad” in order to spring into action to correct the things that must be changed. Perfection, however, does not exist and with regard to the situation we find ourselves in now, the issues can be grouped into one of two categories: “fixable” and “never going to happen again without a fight”.

      This covid thing falls into the “never going to happen again without a fight” category.

      However, it is also true that having our own autocephalous Church in this country may save us from folding up under the Greeks and rather than tearing down Met. Tikhon and the members of the Holy Synod right now, we should be looking for (legitimate) opportunities to prop them up because they need our support. I don’t want them sitting at the back of the bus, as they did with the Assembly of Canonical Bishops before Archbishop Demetrios stepped in. If it were up to Bartholomew, they would never have been invited in the first place just like they weren’t invited to Crete; because for Bartholomew to acknowledge the OCA’s presence flies in the face of his premise that all America belongs to the Greeks.

      Plus, we need to give credit where credit is due. We had 8 bishops from multiple jurisdictions, at a consecration, and in spite of being told the risk from covid still exist, they stood by what Metropolitan Joseph told us: We’re done changing the practices of the Church to accommodate a virus. We are to go back to the way things were.

      NO ONE was wearing masks except one older couple who may have had health issues. We filled a banquet room designed for no more than 300 where the chairs were packed tightly around the tables. Each bishop was close enough they could reach out and shake each other’s hands. They all sat at one table and allowed us to come up and ask for their blessing. They let us kiss their bare knuckles and no one ran out to sanitize their hands when they were served their food (not that I could see). We gathered in small groups to hug and talk with one another for the better part of an hour after the event was over. Just like old times.

      I would highly encourage you all to view the picture on our post so you can see how crowded it was.

      I was proud of our clergy. Very proud. Proud that they all came together. Proud that they were pleasant and friendly with each other. Proud they didn’t flinch when we breathed on them!

      All this was under Bishop Gerasim’s watch, BTW. It was his Cathedral.

      Let’s give him props for that.

  8. Were you all able to ask Bishop Gerasim if someone else wrote the letter with the COVID directives that said “you do not want such [disobedient nonmaskers] worshipping in your parish” ? You had theorized in comments on earlier articles that the letter may not have been written by him because there was no way he could have written something like that.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      It was a long time ago but I seem to remember he offered the information. I asked George if he remembered me telling him about it and he seems to recall I did.

      This isn’t the first time I’ve seen bishops draft letters for their underlings. I’ve done it on some of my projects as well. It’s a totally appropriate thing to do if done for the right reasons.

      I wish that part of the letter, however, had not been written and I remember feeling it was directed toward us. Whoever drafted it got it wrong, though: it wasn’t a civil rights thing. We just needed a “constant” in our lives and this was the first time we had to wrestle with the fact that it wouldn’t be the Church.

      Wearing a mask wasn’t a big deal. It was the communion part that got to me. As I recall, it could not be done during the liturgy and had to be scheduled but I could be wrong.

      Again, it was a long time ago.

      Frankly, the idea of dying didn’t bother me as much as the thought of the Church being mailable and afraid during a crisis.

      I’m still not over it.