And Now for Something Really Important

This just in:

It’s come to our attention that the reason there has been no follow-up regarding the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishop’s press release against the HHS mandates was because it was put out hastily by the GOA without consulting any of the other jurisdictions. As is known, the Catholic bishops have been leading the charge against the egregious infringement on religious freedom that these mandates impose. Stalwarts in the Evangelical community also joined the bishops.

When the story first broke there was an embarrassing silence from our leaders that compelled some courageous Orthodox priests and laymen (including our readers) to speak up. They questioned the apparent apathy of our Bishops which in turn provoked functionaries within the GOA hastily put out the press release. Unfortunately, they did not bother to consult with the other jurisdictions within the ACOB.

The release was a lot better than nothing, but it was still lacking. There were no signatures, no extensive reasoning and subsequently no followup. Monomakhos has learned because of this unilateral action on the part of the GOA, tensions within the ACOB have increased.

As such, this new information leads us to the unfortunate realization that not only is the GOA reactive (indeed oblivious to the broader culture), but that it feels it has the authority to go it alone if need be. This of course means that it can dictate the terms to the other jurisdictions, who I suppose are merely along for the ride (and no doubt seated at the back of the bus).

This is counter-productive and embarrasing to say the least. It certainly says a lot about the future and whether the GOA (and by extension Istanbul) feels that the other non-GOA jurisdictions are worthy of consideration.

Regardless, the primate of the GOA does have time to concern himself with more pressing matters. He spent two days in San Francisco watching Greek Dancing.

Just think of it. The Catholic bishops are pulling out all the stops to get the Obama Administration to reverse the mandates. Nothing less than a full-court press with the Congress, the media, and the people is being pursued. Yet outside of this one press release, we hear nary a peep from the ACOB –and now we understand why.

I wonder if irony is lost on the brainiacs on 79th St.


  1. So much for that grand consensus! At best the ACOB is one the road to irrelevance at worst the ACOB is a bureaucratic tool being weilded to squash American Orthodoxy and empower a Church that is controlled by a compromised Phanar. The ACOB does not have to accomplish any task or do anything as long as it stalls and blocks the formation of any distinctively American Church. No wonder they are in a rush to dissolve SCOBA.

    You also have to truly wonder what on earth the wizards of smart down at 79th Street are thinking. Greece is on the verge of social chaos and many folks are suffering but the Greek Community in America is about to whoop it up at the WHite House and on 5th Avenue this week. How tragic indeed! People are suffering but all are leaders are doing is attending lavish parties. Just look at the program for the 5th Avenue Parade.

    And finally you have a Metropolitan of Pittsburgh who is subtly posting articles on his facebook page questioning whether there are any threats to religious freedom at all.

  2. Surprising to me that the GOA would have the hubris to release that statement unilaterally on behalf of the entire ACOB. That would be very stupid indeed – I’m curious what your source is for that interpretation. At the same time, I’m glad the statement was released at all, and I’ve been disappointed at the lack of any follow-up.

    Yet if this report is accurate, I wonder which jurisdictions would have had a problem with the statement? Or are they just miffed that they weren’t consulted, and are impeding further statements until their wounded dignity has healed sufficiently?

    If their problem is the process rather than the content, they ought to stop pouting and take action. The current threat to religious freedom is vastly more important than that kind of childish posturing. They should tell the GOA (my jurisdiction) “if you do that again, this ACOB farce is toast”, then roll up their sleeves and fight the REAL battle.

    If their problem is the statement’s content, then perhaps some bishops (not all of them foreign-born, I’m ashamed to say) may need remedial classes in US History and the Constitution.

    This lowly parishioner is ashamed of his hierarchs’ virtually non-existent response at a time of exceptional crisis, and inspired by the vocal opposition and solidarity of the Roman Catholic bishops. Go, Cardinal Dolan!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Yianni, you eloquently point out the problem (as I see it). Many of us very much appreciated the letter from the ACOB against the HHS mandates. It was a good in and of itself. And yes, the other (non-OCA) jurisdictions have been very laggard in this regard. The problem is the execution of this letter. Although I’m not one to stand on style over substance, the fact remains that style is not unimportant (phronema, good order, etc.)

      This should have never transpired this way. The ACOB has been in existence for almost three years now. If it had acted in a serious manner, it would have had its committee regarding Culture seriously meeting on a quarterly basis (at least) and considering all the things that are coming down the pike. The Evangelicals and Catholics are talking ad nauseam about the state of the culture, and they have a serious understanding of Scripture; that’s why they weren’t caught flat-footed. The HHS mandate was a no-brainer for them. No different than if the Dept of Agriculture said that in order to guarantee price supports for pork from now on Jews and Muslims have to eat pork. The rioting would be instantaneous.

      The problem is that most jurisdictions are not interested in engaging the culture. Even the OCA –the only one that is proactive against abortion–has spent the last year trying to strain on legalistic gnats in order to trip up Jonah. Look at all the intellectual capital we spent on trying to deport The DC Nuns for example. AOCNA has spent the last two years trying to mollify its Arab base. Regardless, this was a purely reactive thing we saw. I guess what I’m trying to say was this this letter wasn’t serious because we aren’t serious about moral issues.

      But you’re right, the non-consulted bishops should have gotten on the band-wagon at least in their own dioceses.

      I’d like to think this is all growing pains. I hope so.

      • The lingering question before us is whether or not the members of the ACOB can agree on basic moral issues like the sancitity of human life, religious freedom, and the nature of marriage. I believe they cannot even though what the Church teaches is clear. This is the root cause of the tension we see developing. The American hierarchy is today more of an aristocracy than servants of the Truth. Until this changes we are going to see the same issuea and the same problems repeated over and over again.

  3. George:

    Congratulations on writing something with real insight! The unilateral actions of the GOA in this case is only the tip of the iceberg of what will follow if the “sheep” of SCOBA continue to acquiesce. The Greeks have always acted as if they alone were only Orthodox. All the other Orthodox were just second class citizens or just tolerated. The hubris of Istanbul and 79th St. has extensive historical precedence. Any so-called “Great Council” would only be Istanbul’s attempt to become an “Eastern Pope.” The Orthodox world cannot sit by and allow Orthodox Canon Law and the Ecclesiology of Orthodoxy be re-engineered by some archaic bishop in Istanbul trying to put breath back into a “New Byzantium.” Hubris, hubris & more hubris!

    • Well, Diogenes, we know your bias already. “The OCA must go it alone!”

      You certainly think very little of all the other Orthodox Churches in the world, as if they all coward before the throne of the EP. Do you really think that the Orthodox world would approve, as you say, an “Eastern Pope?” Really? Do you think Orthodox people are so stupid that they would acquiesce to an “Eastern Pope?”

      Another knee jerk posting by Diogenes who hates anything that apparently is not “American.”

      • George Michalopulos says

        Jacob, I think you are right. I don’t believe that the other patriarchates would “cower” before the concept of an Eastern “pope.” However, the quasi-papalism that has emanated out of Istanbul since 1994 has been very obvious. Even thought the EP is not, nor can ever be, an Eastern Pope, the fact that last 20 years we’ve been consumed with his thoughts and actions have done nothing but engage us in a massive waste of time. Ligonier should have been allowed to proceed and create through an organic process a genuince local American Church. Instead, we’re stuck with this contraption which make nobody happy and causes all of us to look over our shoulder and play tedious political intrigues.

        • I understand your point and generally do not disagree, however I believe that the EA process here and in those other areas in the world put on full display the willingness of “diaspora” Orthodox to unite locally to form self-governing polities. I don’t think that the EP has anything to gain. Let me explain.

          If these various EA cooperate and form local united polities they will not be “under the thumb” of the EP. They will eventually be Sister Churches with the EP. Thus, the EP will have less influence.

          On the other hand, if the EA process fails here and in other places, then the EP will be no better off, in fact, I would suggest, worse off, because if ACOB fails, then it is very possible that the EP will either be blamed or take the blame. Again, nothing to enhance the EP’s status.

          So, let me suggest, is it not possible that this EP is now looking through the lens of “his legacy?” In a post communist world, with the Russian Church (the Third Rome) expanding without opposition, would not these new local Churches be a check on that “expansion?”

          Consider this in the USA. There is nothing stopping ROCOR from planting new churches, thus expanding the presence of the ROC here in the USA. True, the Tomos stops the ROC from planting new churches here, but the Tomos does not cover the ROCOR. To this point the ROC has been cautious but if the ACOB fails, there is nothing stoping all that Russian oil money to pour into the USA under the ROCOR banner with new Churches, new monasteries, new bishops, new clergy, new diocese expanding here. The millions of Russians here in the USA are still very much underserved by the OCA, MP and ROCOR. The OCA won’t do anything about this. Proof of this is that they have done nothing for almost 20 years. MP can’t and ROCOR was hamstrung as long as there was not unity with the ROC. Now that this has happened and if ACOB fails, you can bet that the “Russians will be coming.” This will only weaken the position of the EP in the USA as well as further diminish the OCA.

          So, I think the “legacy” card cannot be underestimated here. The EP is not getting any younger, and if all of you think he is an ambitious “Eastern Pope” he won’t be able to gain more ground here in the USA, even with a transitional Autonomous Church. Rather, he could go down in history as one of the great EP’s by bringing order and unity to the “barbarian” lands. If you think he has an ego, I can’t think of a better ego booster than this.

          Intrigue. You bet. No less byzantine than what goes on behind the closed doors of the OCA synod or the Metropolitan Soviet.

          • ROCOR is DEAD! Russian will keep coming to the U.S. and they should be served, however, this doesn’t mean we need more ethnic enclaves. More Egyptian Christians will be coming. More Syrian & Lebanese. If Americans went to foreign countries, would we expect English services and American priests? NO. Assimilate and join the culture. Sure, priests can throw in a paki-paki or a yara-boorham here, but this is America.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Diogenes, I appreciate your insights but I don’t believe that ROCOR is dead at all. If anything, it may provide the right model for parish churches if we are to thrive in America.

              • Right….if we want to pretend we’re in 17th century Russia!

              • Carl Kraeff says

                “The right model for parish churches”? I don’t know George. There isn’t that much difference between my OCA parish and our sister ROCOR parish. Indeed, the fact that ROCOR is stubbornly clinging to the “holiness” of the Julian Calendar is a huge strike against her. Before fols get to excited, here is what I am saying: There are folks in ROCOR who will not change for any reason. Period. There are others, mainly converts, who are attracted to a romanticized idea of the Holy Rus and indeed to the idea of Tsarist Russia (not as far back as 17th Century, but certainly the 19th. I suspect that they are so enamored of that “good old time religion” not so much for substantive reasons but because they want to be as far away from whence they came as possible. OTH, no one, least of all, I can have an issue with the personal piety of ROCOR parishioners.

            • And you base your idea that ROCOR is dead on what, exactly? That they’re having money problems in NY? That would be different from the OCA how?

              Again, don’t be fooled. ROCOR = Moscow Patriarchate without the Tomos restrictions with the OCA. Moscow has very deep pockets. Very deep. If they want something done in the US, they’ll do it through ROCOR, undoubtedly. There’s a huge push to ensure that the Russian ‘diaspora’ (their term) is well connected all over the world. (Look at the expensive property they bought in Paris, so close to the Eiffel Tower.) The Russian government is doing this through every means possible, and the ROC will play a major role in that effort. Don’t think the US is out of their sights. That would be foolhardy.

            • Your philosophy of assimilation is not one that can be imposed, and we’ve learned that over the last 40 years. There is definitely a natural process of attrition regarding language and maybe even some cultural identity. But clearly, you’ve not been to a Serbian parish recently, have you? Or what about a Coptic church?

              For many people, the church is stil the place where you meet with people “like yourself.” While the OCA is somewhat “Americanized,” not everyone is thrilled about that, because many today feel that the OCA has become so sanitized that it’s barely recognizably Orthodox in certain places.

              So today we know that you can’t shove people into some kind of American model. It hasn’t worked, and it won’t work. These things have to happen naturally, and these various churches will evolve as their resepctive groups evolve in this country. Some of them will never stop serving their emigre communities as long as they keep coming, others will do their best to serve both, still others will be ‘staunchly’ American, and there may be some immigrants that will simply succomb to that, or they may just get turned off and leave the faith.

              There’s nothing inherently virtuous about being “American” Orthodox. Everyone is different and every community is different.

            • Patrick Henry Reardon says

              “ROCOR is DEAD! ”

              Not in Chicago, not by a long shot.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Jacob, VERY interesting insights. Thank you for bringing them to the table. (“Metropolitan Soviet”, I love it!)

          • Jane Rachel says

            Jacob, I was sad to read that the Russian immigrants who have come to America in the past few decades have not been able to find Orthodox churches to go to. Where are they going? Are they starting to attend ROCOR churches now?

            • Carl Kraeff says

              In my city, most of the Russian immigrants are either attending the local OCA parish, which has an active outreach to the community, or are not attending church regularly at all. Very few of them are attending the other local churches (GOA, AOCA and ROCOR). Interestingly, most of the Romanian immigrants are attending the local GOA church or are not attending church regularly at all. Many of the immigrants are thus nominal Orthodox, agnostic or atheist.

            • Patrick Henry Reardon says

              In Chicago they have found a home at All Saints, and we are so blessed to have them.

            • Pravoslavnie says

              In DC it seems that the greater share of local Russians find their way to the ROCOR cathedral with a lesser share attending the OCA cathedral and and a distinct minority spread out across other jurisdictions. The kinds of Russian immigrants showing up at church can be lumped into two broad categories; those who attended church regularly back home, and those who only started attending church here for a variety of reasons.

        • Again George, brilliant and right on! Ligonier could have transpired into something very good and + Philip & + Iakavos could have had the legacy Fr. Schmemann began. As I said before, and people approached + Iakavos after he was forcefully retired, he should have joined the OCA as it’s leader and brought as many Greeks as he could with him. By today, we would have been far along in the unity process throwing off foreign control.

          • But Archbishop Iakovos didn’t join the OCA. No use crying over things that would NEVER have happened in a million years. Both Archbishop Iakovos and Metropolitan Philip have very strong legacies. Archbishop Iakovos was a sophisticated and respected statesman, and Metropolitan Philip is a strong visionary who gets things done.

            BTW, Fr Schmemann died in 1983. Time to move on. I know, it’s hard. That whole woulda-coulda-shoulda thing. He too has a strong legacy in his own right, but it was as a speaker and thinker, not as an architect for autocephaly. I do not think he would agree that autocephaly for the OCA was the apex of his life’s work. It’s much more likely that he was thrown into that situation.

            (By the way, see Jane Rachel’s repeated plea for you to use the correct form of ‘its’ vs ‘it’s”. You can always say it to yourself first if you feel the urge to use ‘it’s’ as “it is.” It works for us mere mortals. Proper word usage, grammar, and punctuation makes you look, well, intelligent, even if your argument is often less than that.)

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Ordinarily, I don’t like to engage in “alternative history” but I do believe that Iakovos of blessed memory might have wished he merged the GOA with the OCA way back in 1970. His legacy was indeed great but it is being whittered away even as we speak. And that is a damn shame.

              The best that can be said about the GOA since his forcible retirement is that it has undergone stasis. All jurisdictions btw have retrenched to their ethnic core more or less (even the OCA which tried to go back to the old Syosset/MC way of doing things was a type of this ethnic retrenchment). Amateur sociologist alert here: I think this is what groups do when they hit rough waters so it’s not an evil thing I’m talking about.

              Glimmers of hope within the GOA? Yes, the Athonite monasteries. Otherwise it’s embarrassments like the hootenany in SF.

              • Jane Rachel says

                George wrote, “Glimmers of hope within the GOA? Yes, the Athonite monasteries.” Would you explain a bit more about what you mean, George? How does the GOA show glimmers of hope in connection with the Athonite monasteries?

                • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                  Good and reasonable question, I think, nor is the answer apparent to me.

              • If you mean “it would have been a good idea,” of course, because unity is always a good idea. But you can’t possibly believe that the GOA would have ever joined the OCA, not in this universe. Maybe joining together to to form some other entity, but that’s a pipe dream.

                What IS true is that the Antiochians and the OCA were actively seeking a way to join one another together, and even went as far as combining some committee work. The idea was to have their respective clergy-laity gatherings at the same time, as a bridge to further, if not eventual, unity. But it was short lived and never came to fruition. I suspect that Met Phillip is not one to wait for the OCA to twiddle their thumbs, and he certainly would never have put himself under the ridiculous encumberance of a Metropolitan Council. So, the whole movement died a quick death. The Antiochians have definitely moved on.

            • Spasi:
              Apparently you “old folks” don’t text. a pity. Autocephaly is here and isn’t going to disappear. Those who want to be under the thumb of foreign bishops, go ahead. However, this will NEVER become the norm for any Orthodox unity in N. Am. Both + Iakavos & + Philip will leave legacies of always saying they wanted unity, but never making it happen. That’s like Steve Jobs saying i always wanted to make a personal computer, but didn’t.

              • If that’s true, then what is the legacy of an ever-shrinking and constantly-in-turmoil OCA? The Romanians have one foot out the door, the Albanians barely exist, and the Bulgarians are also very small, plus they have a Bulgarian Patriarchate that I’m sure would be happy to take those people. They also don’t financially contribute to the OCA in any committed way, so what exactly is their committment to this autocephaly that you worship?

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  You certainly are doing your part to keep the constant turmoil to continue unabated. You and so many others are just malcontents, not able to stomach even the possibility that “things are working as they should.”

                  • If this is what “things working as they should” looks like, I’d hate to see what things NOT working as they should looks like.

                • Isa Almisry says

                  “Romanians have one foot out the door.”

                  Its a dead foot. I’ve that from the lips of the powers that be, on both sides.

                  Ever-shrinking OCA? Don’t see that, despite all its turmoil. Itself a miracle.

                  and since North America isn’t going to be either hellenized nor arabized, submit itself to Russification….the OCA is here to stay if for nothing else but default.

              • Well, I’m an “old folk” who texts, like I’m doing right now. It’s a pity you can’t see that.

      • Apparently the bishops in N. Am. were dumb enough to let Istanbul get a hold of SCOBA and destroy it. Creating the “Episcopal Assembly” officiated by 79th St. – the arm of Istanbul. Where do you think this ends? Autocephaly is what every Orthodox bishop in every country should be striving for as canon law dictates – not ruled over by foreign bishops – non-canonical.

        • You really need a reality check. It’s not 1972 anymore. Time to come to terms with where everything is. No amount of whining is going to change that.

          • No Spasi, you need a reality check! There is no going back to 1940. The OCA will never go under the Russians again. ROCOR is dead. Istanbul will fall to radical Islam. Damascus will fall to radical Islam. Russia has it’s own extensive problems. The Greeks in the U.S. think they can continue their hubris and step all over all the Orthodox. GET REAL! The ONLY way forward is “AUTOCEPHALY.” The OCA has shown the way, but the foreign bishops are the obstacle. “The Kingdom of God must be taken by force.”

            • Pravoslavnie says

              Diogenes I’m not sure what alternate reality you inhabit, but the ROCOR I know in the USA is thriving since having turned itself into a missionary church from what was once a church-in-exile. Any death announcement is mistaken and makes you look quite out of touch.

          • I think Diogenes is a leftover or a child of the USAs 70s generation.
            And he used “The Kingdom of God must be taken by force” completely out of it’s proper context.

    • SCOBA? News flash: SCOBA no longer exists.

  4. Andrew,

    Another perfect of example of why cooperation is hard to learn after decades of jurisdictions doing their own thing. If the GOA sent out the HHS statement without proper consultation from at least others on that committee, then shame on them. An important lesson needs to be learned that the ACOB is not the EP and the EP is not the ACOB. But this is up to the Assembly of Bishops to make clear and they have an excellent forum to state this. If, as you suggest the EP is going to drag her feet to stop any serious steps toward unity, then it should be open and clear at their next ACOB meeting that the Greek bishops will line up on one side and the non-Greeks on the other. Very easy to ferret out. Right?

    Having said that, what is the alternative you suggest? I would be interested in your solution to the question of Orthodox unity in the USA?

    Enlighten us, please. Thank you.

    • I told you the answer! Every country in the world to be recognized as a “territory.” Each country recognized as “autocephalous.” All the Orthodox bishops of each territory to become members of a Synod which rules it’s own churches and elect their own leader – in essence, Patriarch. Where’s the issue? Where’s the problem? The problem is the foreign bishops don’t want to let go of what they grabbed in N. America and around the world; simple. The foreign bishops are the obstacle to Orthodox unity. This is why unity must be taken by force according to Orthodox Canon Law. This is what the OCA did! No need for any “Great Council.” Just have all the Orthodox Patriarchs follow Orthodox Canon Law!

      • Jane Rachel says

        Diogenes, I used to be a proofreader/copy editor. Not that my writing is any good, it’s usually not. But honestly, “it’s” is incorrect in the way you are using “it” as a possessive. It’s “its.” ‘… a Synod which rules its own churches…” No apostrophe. Of course you can’t change doing it now, because it’s been pointed out, but you really should if you are going to help lead Orthodoxy in America into a New World Order.

        • Jane:
          Congratulations on being a proofreader. Now, go back to your knitting.

          • Diogenes, that was a nasty comment with no redeeming value whatsoever. How about – out of basic human kindness – apologizing to Jane Rachel for your bitchy little remark? I think that on some level she was trying to do you a favor. I’m beginning to wonder whether you chose the name Diogenes in reference to the syndrome, or to the crab genus.

            • He’s just a pompous a__ shouting down to us from the “autocephaly” pedestal that he has erected for himself.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                While I agree that Diogenes’ remark was over the edge, what is one to do with the remarks by Yianni (“Bitchy little remark”) and the good protodeacon (“He’s just a pompous a___.”) ?

          • Jane Rachel says

            I get pretty acerbic with him, too. It’s true, though, I was trying to do Diogenes a favor. If he is trying to convince people, it’s easier to be convincing when you don’t misuse the language. The “its” vs. “it’s” mistake is not uncommon. When I was little I watched a Rose Bowl parade on television. The Minnesota float had a sign that said, “Minnesota Loves It’s Gophers” or something to that effect. The announcer made a big deal of the error, saying, “That’s embarrassing, they should have taken that apostrophe out!”

            • Jane Rachel says

              Plus, if he portrays me as a granny, it discredits what I say. The Stokovites were experts at that.

              • yeah, should we play the “sexist” card here??

                • Jane Rachel says

                  nah, they are equal-opportunity discrediters.

                  • I bet he wouldn’t tell George or Jacob to “get back to his knitting “. . . just sayin’ . . .

                    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                      Except that there are Georges and Jacobs who knit, and are much better at this than him . . .

                      I know of a certain gay knitter who loves to decipher arcane Victorian knitting patterns written in such a way that would drive you around the bend and some.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Diogenes-When considering any application of the Holy Canons, we have to do so with some discernment.We have to know why the canon was promulgated, under what conditions, and the overarching principle behind it. I think many of the canons were promulgated to correct problems that had arisen in the context of close church-state entanglement. We do not have such an entanglement in North America. Indeed, there is simply no precedent in history. There are of course canons that we can apply to our situation, but the no foreign or robber bishop canons are a no go for the present. It will be a different story after true autocephaly but in the meantime we have to be careful not to elevate these particular canons to a matter of core principle.

        It seems to me that the overarching principle in the United States is that it is time to establish a local autocephalous church. Indeed, I believe that numerous statements from the Holy Synod and hierarchs of the OCA back up the call for such an eventuality, at the same time offering up the autocephaly of the OCA, if necessary, as but a stepping stone to that administratively united and autocephalous church in North America. From the OCA;’s perspective, the price of her autocephaly has always been the establishment of a truly autocephalous local church, with absolutely no other canonical jurisdictions allowed in her canonical territory (In your terminology, no foreign bishops). That being the case, I cannot see how the only solution is for everybody just join the OCA. Similarly, I cannot agree that the solution is a bastardized ecclesiological condition that is short of true autocephaly. Let’s give all concerned a chance to come up with some proposals before we get too excited.

        • Carl,

          Autonomy is not a “bastardized” ecclesiological condition. Why paint yourself, like Diogenes, who appears to be having a really tough day, into a corner by saying saying it is one way or the highway. That is exactly the attitude that has caused the ghetto mentality we all suffer from in the USA. It will take real consensus building, dare I say, conciliar, thinking to bring all these Orthodox parts together in America. We all agree that a local autocephalous church is the goal. I simply do not believe that the OCA solution is in play now. It had its chance, actually a very brief window between 1970 to 1974. But that window closed and it is not going to reopen.

          If i truly was a gift, a gift of the Holy Spirit, one would think that it would have born the fruit of unity by now. Sadly and tragically, all the OCA has borne is the bitter fruit of internal disharmony. We are no model for the rest of the Orthodox in the USA. We may have transparent books now, but we lost our heart. We have good rules now but we have shown a spirit of retribution and scapegoating. We squandered the gift given to us and no one looks to us any longer as a model for unity.

          So, we have to look around us, see with clear eyes what is possible for the sake of unity and keep testing the spirits. The cheap shots of Diogenes again only prove to the world that the OCA has become a bitter angry sect, living in the past and off its past laurels.

          I take you at your word as you said,

          a stepping stone to that administratively united and autocephalous church in North America. From the OCA;’s perspective, the price of her autocephaly has always been the establishment of a truly autocephalous local church, with absolutely no other canonical jurisdictions allowed in her canonical territory

          Once the euphoria of the 1970 Tomos wore off and the OCA looked around and discovered that there was no groundswell of support, and in fact opposition to the Tomos, the perspective of the OCA, as you correctly state, began to be accepted. It is in that spirit that the OCA should, in good faith and in a sober reality, work with the ACOB to bring about the goal of a local Church.

          There is no better option for us at this time, except the ostrich option, which frankly, if the OCA wants to go it alone while everyone else comes together, I suppose they are free to “live their dream.” But that would be against what the OCA really believes, at least what it use to belive.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            One can think of autonomy and autocephaly in various ways, depending where and when you are living. I will put myself in the shoes of my ancestors and consider the way that my Church was autocephalous THREE times in her history, each time the major actor being the Patriarchate of Constantinople who screwed around with my people and my church with no regard for anything or anybody but power, state, and ethnic politics. I could thus be somewhat justified in talking about autocephaly being a bastardized ecclesiological condition.

            In fact, the current situation in the so called diaspora is also a bastardized ecclesiastical condition, the offspring of many fathers and mothers. I firmly believe that there is no use in accepting anything short of full and complete autocephaly. But, if some folks like you believe iin full autocephaly as the ideal or ultimate goal but are willing to accept something less as an interim, transitional arrangement, I would submit that even acknowledging this possibility is a horrible negotiating tool.

            • Carl, are you Bulgarian? Just curious. I’m not sure who your “people” are.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                Yes I am. On my father’s side, Bulgarians from Macedonia (Lerin/Florina and Solun/Thessalonika) and from my mother’s side from Bulgaria (Veliko Trnovo and Sofia).

                • Then how did you get the (Teutonic?) name “Carl Kraeff”?

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    Came off the boat on July 4th (!) with hardly any English language skills and was enrolled in Summer School French classes (so that I could reverse engineer into English). Anyway, the Summer School Principal decided that nobody could correctly pronounce my Bulgarian name, so he said “let’s call you “Carl.” Later, I retained “Carl” as my middle name and am now using it interchangeably with my first name.

            • Carl,

              I can better understand your bias now, but it is a bias nonetheless. Your mistrust of the EP vs. the Bulgarian/Macedonian Church is again, understandable, but such mistrust and bias being overlayed in such absolute transference is more than bias but outright prejudice. All of which reduces your ability at the current time in the current circumstances to be constructive to this dialogue. You have simply injected your old world history onto the new world. Orthodox unity includes Bulgarians now living in the USA but it is not limited to them nor their history. However you have exposed one of the hurdles to be overcome, old world wounds and the attempt to carry them and open them here. That is not at all helpful.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                That may be so. However, with or without my prejudices, I see nothing in the arguments that have been put forth so far that would support a concept such as “maximal autonomy.”

                The problem of multiple bishops in one city is something that I did not live with since we lived in Istanbul a very long time ago. My experience in the States has been the local parish that usually gets along with the other local Orthodox parishes (at least nominal participation in Sunday of Orthodoxy, that sort of thing), with my bishop making an appearance once in a blue moon. I was also in the US military for over 25 years; meaning I did not stay put in any given ethnic ghetto or even a single locality.

                Thus, my orientation has not been an ethnic one but an openness to all people, cradle or convert. My orientation has not been Moscow, Constantinople, Ohrid or Sofia, but the American cities that I lived in. Since I am a cradle, I also do not have a need to appreciate the Old Country culture and piety, nor do I hold them in highest regard. My issue is how to live and grow the Orthodox faith where I am and my strategy is the inkblot strategy: the True Faith will grow from each committed disciple in each committed parish outwards, like an inkblot grows outwards. Many such small inkblots will eventually mean something real, something much more than this discussion we’ve been having.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Carl, I believe you and Jacob are both correct, just on different issues. I won’t say just yet that the autocephaly of the OCA has been completely squandered away, but the Stokovite/Syosset axis came pretty damn close. To me, autocephaly means nothing without moral authority. That’s why I cringe at what I report about the ACOB/HHS mandate and the other things about the GOA/EP in general. It’s cringe-worthy and it is impossible to find any moral authority in that quarter as things are now.

              Jacob, I totally get Carl’s fears about the historical bad faith of Constantinople. Maybe they’ll change but as of yet, we’re going on at least 1000 years of history. Each and every time, Cpoe has proven to be insincere. Believe me, as a Greek, it gives me no pleasure to say this.

              Still, we can be optimistic. Even with all these missteps (OCA + GOA/EP), the Holy Spirit might very well be at work. And I do like your earlier assesssment.

          • Isa Almisry says

            “I simply do not believe that the OCA solution is in play now. It had its chance, actually a very brief window between 1970 to 1974. But that window closed and it is not going to reopen.”

            The OCA isn’t going anywhere because, unlike its competition here, it’s home.

            “We all agree that a local autocephalous church is the goal.”

            No, we are NOT all agreed. Many are quite committed to perpetual ecclesiastical colonialism, and overlapping archipelagos of ethnic enclaves strewn from sea to shining sea across North America. But that pesky OCA and the Orthodox ecclesiology that it repesents stands in the way. And on the ACOB.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Isa, you’re 100% right. We’re not all 100% agreed on a local, autocephalous Church here in the US. The Phanar is perhaps the least serious of all.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        What a load, Diogenes! What a load!
        The Church of Constantinople in its heyday was not ethnically homogeneous—far from it, in fact. Not all its hierarchs were native speakers of Greek or Latin. Today’s Patriarchate of Alexandria (Egypt) has very, very few native Egyptians in its ranks; however, it’s located in Egypt. In fact, it’s mostly Greeks. Should the Faithful of the Alexandrian and Jerusalem Patriarchates insist on Arab bishops according to your deep thinking about autocephaly in the U.S.? And since when are the hierarchs, clergy, and people of ROCOR in America any less Americans than you and I, or the hard-shell Baptists in the Appalachians? Surely, you’re not succumbing to the principles of the Nazi ideology which hypothesize that language determines nationality? Do we really imagine that some kind of canonical or patristic reality will come into being if only the Sacred Synod of Constantinople is confined to Turk nationals? If you say they are already Turk citizens, that’s true, but they feel no need to speak and serve in Turkish all the time (if ever). Relative to the Orthodoxy of the non-American Local Churches, it’s been around a lot longer than the Orthodoxy of America. In fact, the Orthodoxy episode in America is barely off the ground, who knows if it will fly? You seem to have inherited the idea of Orthodox American exceptionalism (which is in the very AIR of Crestwood/MC. In fact, that air of American Orthodox exceptionalism is rather like that of those iron lungs that those suffering from juvenile paralysis used to live by. It keeps you alive, but you can’t go anywhere.

        • Let’s strip away all the bull. You have been in direct opposition to the OCA since God knows whenever. You should have left and went to the Synod years ago, but no, you love to spread untruths and outright lies trying to destroy the OCA. Your “very close” buddy, Nicolai, was a disaster as were you. Now, get over it and stop spreading hatred & lies. Your years of attacks and trying to destroy people and the Church are legendary. It’s Lent. Go repent and join a monastery. Death will be at your door before you know it.

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            Why, Diogenes! I just re-read my post and I don’t see untruths or outright lies anywhere in it. Please, point them out. Even ONE would suffice. Why are you striking out suddenly at Bishop Nikolai? What is relevant about his situation and anything in this thread or on this site? Death will be at my door before I know it? I play Alexander Kelberine’s piano transcription of Bach’s chorale prelude, “Komm’ suesser Tod almost once a week. If it’s true, as you say, then I say, May it be! May it be! “Budi, budi!” Are you upset because I called Russian Americans in ROCOR Americans when your family had to struggle so in a vain attempt to be really “acceptable” as American? Why am I still here? (I’ll be 80 in November) You tell me. I repent my sins every day, don’t you? Should I do it twice a day—is that what you’re driving at? Why don’t you “join” a monastery, Diogenes? Is it because you’d have to attend services in such a place? Some people might very well accuse you of not believing in God: I never could!
            I showed you some respect by replying to your ;post here. Why, next thing you’ll be going out and shooting up a bunch of Afghans, having “snapped?”

          • Diogenes, that was just ugly. Get a grip. Such outbursts may earn you a timeout in the penalty box.

            • If Diogenes is an example of, or a spokesman for, the intellengensia of the breakaway autocephalous Orthodox in america he is promulgating, then it’s failure is assured.

              • PS: And if he is an example of, or a spokesman for, the intellengensia of the OCA today, then it’s demise is assured.

              • Jane Rachel says

                If Diogenes is Eric Wheeler, and I’m as sure he is as I can be, then we know he is just that. It has already been done. It actually hurts to think about it.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says


          • His Grace is not allowed to die until I’ve had a chance to experience him in person. Sorry, Diogenes.

        • Jane Rachel says

          It was interesting to read Diogenes’ comment and Bishop Tikhon’s reply together (pasted below this comment for easy access).In Diogenes’ comment he stated: “each country must be recognized as ‘autocephalous'” and “unity must be taken by force according to Orthodox Canon Law,” and in Bishop Tikhon’s comment he stated: “You seem to have inherited the idea of Orthodox American exceptionalism (which is in the very AIR of Crestwood/MC).”

          Here is Diogenes comment:

          Every country in the world to be recognized as a “territory.” Each country recognized as “autocephalous.” All the Orthodox bishops of each territory to become members of a Synod which rules its own churches and elects their own leader – in essence, Patriarch. Where’s the issue? Where’s the problem? The problem is the foreign bishops don’t want to let go of what they grabbed in N. America and around the world; simple. The foreign bishops are the obstacle to Orthodox unity. This is why unity must be taken by force according to Orthodox Canon Law. This is what the OCA did! No need for any “Great Council.” Just have all the Orthodox Patriarchs follow Orthodox Canon Law!

          Bishop Tikhon wrote:

          What a load, Diogenes! What a load!
          The Church of Constantinople in its heyday was not ethnically homogeneous—far from it, in fact. Not all its hierarchs were native speakers of Greek or Latin. Today’s Patriarchate of Alexandria (Egypt) has very, very few native Egyptians in its ranks; however, it’s located in Egypt. In fact, it’s mostly Greeks. Should the Faithful of the Alexandrian and Jerusalem Patriarchates insist on Arab bishops according to your deep thinking about autocephaly in the U.S.? And since when are the hierarchs, clergy, and people of ROCOR in America any less Americans than you and I, or the hard-shell Baptists in the Appalachians? Surely, you’re not succumbing to the principles of the Nazi ideology which hypothesize that language determines nationality? Do we really imagine that some kind of canonical or patristic reality will come into being if only the Sacred Synod of Constantinople is confined to Turk nationals? If you say they are already Turk citizens, that’s true, but they feel no need to speak and serve in Turkish all the time (if ever). Relative to the Orthodoxy of the non-American Local Churches, it’s been around a lot longer than the Orthodoxy of America. In fact, the Orthodoxy episode in America is barely off the ground, who knows if it will fly? You seem to have inherited the idea of Orthodox American exceptionalism (which is in the very AIR of Crestwood/MC. In fact, that air of American Orthodox exceptionalism is rather like that of those iron lungs that those suffering from juvenile paralysis used to live by. It keeps you alive, but you can’t go anywhere.

          I just can’t see how Diogenes’ “solution” is realistic. Bishop Tikhon’s comment, and the comments of those who are arguing against Diogenes’ ideas make more sense. If Diogenes is a “lone wolf” it doesn’t really matter because they are only opinions, but do Diogenes’ views reflect the views of other OCA leadership? Jacob and Spasi, do your comments reflect the views of other Orthodox leaders, whether OCA or not?

          Also, I don’t think the Orthodox immigrants were thinking about whether the churches and communities they were struggling to establish in America were canonical or not, and I don’t think the writers of the canons originally had a place like America in mind when they wrote them. Sticking to the letter of the law may make an argument sound legalistically “correct” but it forces truth into boxes, and truth is too organic to stay locked up.

          • Jane Rachel says

            Maybe they knew, but at that time, given the circumstances, they did what was necessary. So, to state in 2012 that all non-OCA American Orthodox Churches are “legally uncanonical” and therefore somehow invalid is an unsound foundation on which to build your idea that the “canonical” OCA as it is today is the only way.

            (I’ll go back to my welding now.)

  5. Instead of sitting around kvetching, consider putting your money where your mouth is and attending the nationwide Stand Up For Religious Freedom rally on Friday March 23 at noon. See their site for locations.

  6. I grow weary of every discussion on this blog degenerating into a re-hashing of the OCA’s problems. George continually puts out great material and we should all appreciate it. But more and more the quality of the comments on each thread just goes downhill. People can yell and ramble all they want but its really not helping contribute to any meaningful discussion. Do we need 50 comments on each thread discussing the problems of the OCA? We do not. Focus is certainly called for.

    • Andrew,

      I don’t this blog is much less critical of the “problems” in the GOA, AOCA, MP, ROCOR, and any other alphabet soup that is Orthodoxy in America. However, since many of the contributors are members of the OCA, and since some here consider the reality of the OCA to be THE answer to unity here, it would seem fair that the absurdity of holding the OCA up as some sort of model needs to be presented because what the OCA has degenerated into is one of the problems not only of the OCA but of Orthodoxy in the USA. Just my opinion.

    • I think it is because we have lost sight (focus) of the underlying problem to all this which is the heresy/error of Phelitism (as pronounced by the EP of the late 19th century) which is being encouraged and in some cases practiced by old world Orthodoxy and as Long as they persist in that autocephalous Orthodox churches in the “New World”
      is a “pipe dream” which a break away autocephlous US Orthodox church will never bring about.

    • I think it is because we have lost sight (focus) of the underlying problem to all this which is the heresy/error of Phelitism (as pronounced by the EP of the late 19th century) which is being encouraged and in some cases practiced by old world Orthodoxy and as Long as they persist in that autocephalous Orthodox churches in the “New World” is a “pipe dream” which a break away autocephlous US Orthodox church will never bring about.

    • Jane Rachel says

      Andrew, I think the latest discussions have been really interesting. Just skip over, or sigh, say a prayer, and move on when the comments get tiresome. The word “rehashing” implies that the “old” problems have been solved and all is well. The problems have not been solved. Not even close. Some of us have been focusing for so long our eyes are crossing.

    • Jane Rachel says

      P.S. Andrew, feel free to contribute in a meaningful way.

  7. I wonder. Perhaps it is partially true that “the foreign bishops don’t want to let go of what they grabbed in N. America” (Diogenes), but are they THE primary roadblock to autocephaly in the U.S? Is it not possible that the Bishops in the U.S. – and their people in “the Americas” – WANT to maintain a close connection to the “Old World” and might believe that pushing for an autocephalous church in the U.S. would, in some sense, sever that connection to their ancestral homeland?

    • That’s “plain as day.”

    • Carl Kraeff says

      GregF-If the overseas Patriarchates and their folks in the so-called diaspora were truly afraid of such ties being severed, why go through the EA process? I think that it is a holding pattern as the struggle between Moscow and Constantinople resolves itself. Constantinople has put out its novel interpretation of Canon 28, telling the Russians that she deserves the position of primacy because the Patriarch of Constantinople is over all the nations of the world where there is no established local church. Moscow has rejected both Constantinople’s can 28 argument and any attempt to hold the Great Council/Synod without unanimity (read Moscow’s assent). Moscow is playing for the Old Russian Empire; Constantinople for a redefinition of the ecumene as going way beyond the traditional boundaries of the Eastern Roman Empire to cover the entire globe. They are both playing a strategic game and all of the others are waiting to see what happens next. Of course, many saw that they must tighten up the reins and garner as much strength as possible. Thus, you see the developments in Antioch, Romanian Church, etc… They want to be in as strong a position as they can be as the two elephants are maneuvering for power and influence.

      • Maybe all Orthodoxy is going through the EA process because they know it is the right thing to do. (There should be only one Orthodox Church in a given geographical area.) That, however, does not address the emotional ties that a group of people have to where they came from. The foot dragging of the Patriarchs may be convoluted political manuvering. The hesitation at ground level may be more a sense of not wanting to turn your back on your grandfather.

        But… what do I know. I’m just thinking out loud.

        • Isa Almisry says

          “The hesitation at ground level may be more a sense of not wanting to turn your back on your grandfather.”
          Or failure to deal with the Existentialist angst that if you are not living on your grandfather’s land, you have turned your back on him. Or so some think.

          I’ll just repeat what an “old Russian” (his self discription) whose grandfather was one of the few (Great) Russians (among Serbs, Ukrainians and Ruthenians) who founded Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago (one of the oldest (4th or 5th) parishes outside of AK in North America): I’m not worried about what language my grandfather prayed in. I’m worried about what language my grandchildren pray” to make sure they prayed Orthodox prayers.

          • StephenD says

            I remember my grandmother yelling at Met.Leonty at St. Stephen’s Cathedral that she was worried about having slavonic in the services because she was afraid that her grandchildren would leave the Church…many did..One of my cousins brought a girl he was very interested in to Divine Liturgy and as we left she said “It was just like going to the opera”. They married and they went to the local episcopalian church. I think this happened more than we know in a lot of families. The episcopalian church near me which is very tony has a lot of greek names in its directory and the local GOA parish which I recently joined has only recently started using a lot more english. The episcopalina church as we all know has its huge share of problems but a greek family I know who went there joined the local mega-church with its coffee bar and praise band…

            • “a greek family I know who went there joined the local mega-church with its coffee bar and praise band…”
              They probably want to be “real Americans.”

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        pretty good read on the situation, Carl. More than enough blame to go around. Emotional ties run both ways.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I was tempted to add “This means that, even if the OCA were to be a model church, she would be just as disposable as a third t–“, But, I decided not to stir the pot once again. 😉

  8. rjklancko says

    And what is this madness, we are in the Lenten period, a time of fasting, reflection, rebirth, prayer, and self introspection and what happens? we have a parade, we have festivies, we have banquets – does this really pass the sanity test? if Lent is so important for us Christians, what is it that in some circles it is a disposable commodity – or is it all right to have two masters, with greek independence day trumping Great and Holy Lent? So we Galician Russians hold fast to the Lenten journey as our Greek bretheren deviate from the course, oh it is so good to succumb to the secular world! got to run my lamb gyro is waiting

    • You Galician Russians, whose Orthodoxy I greatly admire, do it right.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Oh, rjklancko! You are amazingly brave! Saying “Galician RUSSIANS,” is an example of giant, industrial-strength, red-flag-in-front-of-bull waving. A name-change and change of address might be indicated, immediately. For your own safety.

      Imagine someone saying, “I was born in the West British city of Dublin.”” Or, “Good thing Alexander the Great was Macedonian, rather than Greek…..”

    • Here’s a wonderful website for information on “Orthodox Carpatho-Russia”:

  9. rjklancko says

    My grandparents immigrated before 1908 and were leaders of the Galician Russian Community in Southern Connecticut even founding a Galician Russian American Club and a Galicaian Russian American Company, they were also Lemkos not Lemkivs and were adamant and pround of the fact – if you did not want to call them Galician Russians – you were allowed to call them Little Russians but nothing else – period – no debate! They spoke of praying for the Czar to send in the Cossacks to free them from the yoke of Austria-Hungary and their henchmen the Poles – their feelings were deep rooted and passionate and from their standpoint the return of their Galician Russian brothers to the Mother Church of Christendom led the way for the Carpatho-Russians to do so some 30 years later – the immigrations of the past have little in common with these pre WWI immigrant souls —– and it is these peoples who have formed the back bone of the Metropolia of America (OCA) and the Moscow Exarchate. Therefore, the description of an American of Galician Russian heritage is worn with pride – I have an extensive archive on the subject and feel extremely comfortable with this perspective – May God Bless you all, in anticipation of the Feast of Our Risen Lord – Sub Deacon Bob

    PS, remember after WWI there was a movement to create a country called Galicia

    • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

      Dear Subdeacon Bob,
      My late wife,Olga,was also of Lemko descent,born in Pennsylvania.Her father’s parents came from the Hungarian side of the mountains,now Slovakia.Her mother’s parents came from Bilanka(Polish “Bielanka”) now Southern Poland.As I recall,she and her family called themselves either “Russian” or “Carpatho-Russian.”
      In the three ROCOR parishes I seved from 1977-2006,many of the so-called “real” Russians would snicker at her Lemko dialect.Sad to say,I was guilty of this myself.Now that she’s gone,I miss hearing “PO_NASHOMU”.
      When she reposed on May 7,2006,the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women,I had her buried here in Michigan.When the funeral director asked her nationality for the record,I hesitated.I couldn’t see classifying her as “Russian” since she didn’t fit what most Russians would consider Russian.Nor could I classify her as “UKRAINIAN” since neither she nor her family ever called themselves such.I settled on the term “Carpatho-Rusyn.I hope I don’t offend by this revalation.I likewise wish you the best for the Feast of Our Lord’s Resurrection.

      Protopriest Andrei

  10. rjklancko says

    and my God bless her soul for it is all inmaterial when we are one with our Lord, all of this chatter is for our earthly side which pales in respect to the spiritual – vechnaya pamyat dear Olga.

  11. With respect to SCOBA, the Assembly, and so on…..
    There is the political maneuvering that occurs at very high levels. And those who are indeed recent immigrants will find that the church serves as a corner somewhere that “feels like home.” And then there are the converts that came to Orthodoxy to whom both these things were irrelevant. As His Grace said quite well above, the hallmark is not homogeneity.

    It would seem, then, that the Church in America in its diversity needs to look at the commonalities between jurisdictions, and the structural obstacles as well. The core tenets of the Faith should never be compromised. But many of the things discussed here at (seemingly) high volume are not the core issues.

    OCA, do you believe that the governance structure that includes an AAC meeting every three years, and the MC structure are an integral part of the faith? Do you think that the other jurisdictions in N.A. will gladly embrace this structure? Is this a bug or a feature? If it is a feature, how can it be positioned as such?

    Has “transparency” as experienced over the last decade made the OCA an attractive beacon that others can joyfully follow? Or has it been an embarrassment? Or have results been mixed?

    GOA, is your commitment to the EP? Or to an (eventual) autocephalous American church? Do you see that your size allows you to mandate how that goes down? Do you expect all other jurisdictions in America to fall in on that basis?

    And how are things working for the Antiochians et al?

    It appears that an end state of a single Orthodox jurisdiction in America is not yet a commonly held objective. If we don’t know where we are going, any road will get us there.

    Each of the players will have to decide how important the objective is, and what they are willing to sacrifice to achieve it. It does not appear that unanimity exists even within jurisdictions, let alone between them.

    One thing that is clear, however, is that no one is going to get their way entirely.

    And in that, the Holy Spirit may be working…..

  12. ProPravoslavie says

    From ROCOR’s main website:

    “New regulations of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate all employers to provide employees with benefits which must include coverage for abortifacient drugs and other procedures which offend the Christian conscience. The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America has issued a declaration in protest of these unethical regulations, and we clergy of the Chicago and Mid-America Diocese agree with and support the Hierarchs’ efforts to secure religious freedom for Christians in the United States.”

  13. I apologise, but, in my opinion, you commit an error. I suggest it to discuss.

  14. Daniel E. Fall says

    Thanks for reporting this George.

    I was extremely disappointed in the statement and assumed it was from all of them. I understand most of you won’t agree, but I can’t fathom for a minute that any religion should be able to decide the health care of its employees. The reasons are simple. If a religion decided antibiotics were wrong to use; they could ala carte out the payment for antibiotics. Don’t be too quick to poo-poo the example… Anyone remember Bob Marley?

    I met a health food store owner that didn’t believe doctors were smart enough to fix broken bones. Well, at some point; the kid broke his arm and nearly died from non-treatment. I don’t know all the facts; just that he ended up going to an ER eventually. OK, so now some of you will say it has nothing to do with religion. If he is anti-religious or atheist; should he get to decide the health care of his employees if he is also anti-doctor?

    The only decision he should get is to not pay for health care at all, and that is the same for religions.

    My decision on the subject is made…employers have no business deciding treatments.

    Where the right is shattered on the subject is they will all tell you the government has no business getting between you and your doctor, but your boss can!

    Thanks again George; genuinely.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Daniel, thank you for your considerate comments. However, freedom of religion is an absolute. I know what you mean about Bob Marley, broken bones, and the Christian Scientists, but let’s not forget that we live in a free country. One doesn’t have to belong to a church or religion that teaches things that are in contradiction to one’s conscience.

      The egregiousness of this is manifold. First of all, the forcing of a religion to subsidize that which is abhorent. That’s evil and of itself. Period. End of story.

      However, we cannot forget the cynical calculation behind this, which is basically to neutralize the Roman Catholic Church. Let’s not forget that the Amish, Mennonites, Muslims, and (probably) Hasidic Jews are exempt from this HHS mandate.

      I ask a simple question: how do you square that circle? Why is the RCC made to abide by HHS but not these other miniscule religions? Is that even fair?

      That’s all I’m asking.

      • George said:

        However, freedom of religion is an absolute.

        Freedom of religion is not absolute. You have the freedom to believe anything you want, but the government, constitutionally, can put restrictions on your practice of religion

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says

          So you’re saying that the church and state shouldn’t be, well, separate?

        • To expand Logan’s point:

          The Constitution does not allow the religious freedom to sacrifice a human being. It does not allow the religious freedom to stone adulterers, homosexuals or other miscreants to death. It does not allow the religious freedom to practice polygamy. It does not allow the religious freedom of a 40-year-old to consummate his marriage to an 11-year-old. It does not allow the religious freedom to smoke ganja or ingest peyote.

          The Constitution guarantees freedom of belief, but does not give license to every action that arises from one’s belief.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Actually, the freedom to ingest peyote is a protected religious right much like (I assume) the use of wine in the Eucharist during Prohibition. Also the animal sacrifice of sects such as Santeria depsite animal cruelty laws.

            However, no political or social freedom is absolute. Rights are a rationalist’s attempt to legally define morality and the social contract and the legalist’s attempt to rule everything. God gives life and like any good parent he uses natural and logical consequences to allow us to grow properly. The concept of political and social rights especially those used today often shields us from the consequences of our poor decisions. It is gotten to the point that no one (except Christians) should suffer the indignity of anyone disagreeing with their choices or asserting that any type of behavior is morally reprehensible.

            Human conscience is not absolute because like anything else in us, it is fallen and therefore subject to sin. Conscience is only valid when embedded in a worshipping community and in acord with the will of God. Human beings are not autonomous even in matter of conscience. No government can ever give or take away the ‘right” to conscience. As Romans 1 points out, it is part of how we are made. Govenment can only decide to punish its exercise (or not).

            God’s live and love and salvific power in the person of Jesus Christ are absolute. We–all of our actions, thoughts and beliefs are contingent, created and transient except for what the grace of God inspires and allows to continue.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Good point Logan. Let me restate it thusly: freedom of conscience is absolute. The adherence of a believer to his religion’s moral precepts cannot be abridged. (Human sacrifice is not a moral precept.)

          If however some religion maintains that it enjoins its believers to act violently (and Islam by no means mandates such behavior in the strict sense), then a society is obligated to protect its own against violence. Indeed, the first and most fundamental aspect of government is to protect against anarchy.

          • “The adherence of a believer to his religion’s moral precepts cannot be abridged.”

            I’d love for you to define “moral precepts” lest we just continue to swirl about in the vortex of poorly-utilized terminology.

            For example: Is participation in the Eucharist a “moral precept?”

            If not, would it be Constitutional for the government to ban it?

            If so, how do you see it differing from the religious experience attendant to the consumption of peyote or ganja?

            Is marriage between one man and one woman a “moral precept?” If so, why not marriage between one man and many women, or one woman and many men?

            Just asking.

        • Point of clarification:

          Freedom of religion is certainly not absolute, and we can all be very grateful it isn’t. George’s assertion was an overstatement to say the least, and I’m certain that upon reflection he would reconsider his choice of words. However, the freedom to exercise one’s religion (not merely to believe as one chooses) is absolute under the Constitution except to the extent that it causes physical harm or limits the freedom of others.

          Neither of these exceptions can be said to apply to those who choose not to fund “contraception services.” The only possible way a Constitutional exception could apply would be in the case of refusal to cover treatment for life threatening conditions such as an ectopic pregnancy, but no one –not even the Roman Catholic Church – is arguing for such a refusal.

      • Daniel E. Fall says

        birth control is certainly not abhorent

        as for the other religions; I don’t know if they have been cherrypicking insurance policies; if so, they certainly deserve the same as the RCC; if they aren’t getting an equal treatment, sounds like fodder for a court case to me and I’d agree with it

        treatment decisions must be made between doctor and patient, not boss and patient, not panel and doctor, not insurer and doctor, not boss and doctor…..goes for birth control as well as other horribles as George might say

        and how dare anyone on this board, or the government suggest contraception is cosmetic…

        birth control is a serious need for women

    • According to federal law, abortion is elective cosmetic surgery, birth control is an elective preventative cosmetic treatment, and sterilization is an ounce of elective cosmetic surgery plus an ounce of elective preventative cosmetic surgery. I don’t know of any health insurance plan that covers elective cosmetic procedures.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Um, you are right. All health insurance policies (except those self-funded plans negotiated by unions) exclude elective cosmetic surgeries including weight loss surgery at least in Kansas.

        It is not really about health care, it is not really about abortion, it is about exerting federal power and destroying insurance companies and therefore our ability to have any choice but the federal one.

        Every government mandate raises the cost of the coverage for which the government then blames the evil, greedy insurance companies which gives just another reason for the good-guys (the feds) to take over.

        The statists (left & right) want to own us body and soul. Nothing else will statisfy their lust for power.

        • Daniel E. Fall says

          Cheaper to prevent pregnancy through birth control than to pay for births… lot cheaper. Our child cost a ton…premie.

          • Just stating the law of the land, not suggesting anything.

            In the real world: Contraception (and the birth control pill in particular) is responsible for changes in sexual behavior which have brought on both treatable epidemics (for example chlamydia) and untreatable epidemics and pandemics (for example the hundreds of strains of HPV, some of which cause cancers and others of which contribute to cancers and all of which degrade skin health in ways doctors cannot address, certain strains of herpes which significantly degrade quality of life, hepatitis C, HIV, etc.). So if you want to argue about cost, consider the big picture.

            Since you bring up neonatal costs, if we simply eliminated the immoral and largely unregulated industry of fertility “medicine”, the over all need for NICU treatment would drop to a very manageable level. Why no one is willing to address the Wild Wild West of this highly profitable industry (highly profitable for fertility “doctors” not for hospitals left with the NICU costs) is beyond me and a huge social problem. I say social problem, because no man is an island the way so-called “conservatives” on this blog and elsewhere would have you believe.

            Let’s be crystal clear here, no one is telling doctors they cannot prescribe BC pills. Some health plans just won’t pay for them, the same way most do not pay for athletic club memberships, cosmetic surgery, multivitamins, or prenatal vitamins (no matter how important any of these might be to the health of current or future generations). And no one can prevent you from going to the gas station and buying condoms, or from going to Planned Parenthood and getting them for free. Why not just make a donation to Planned Parenthood so that poor women who want condoms more than once a week can get them for free and our Catholic citizens can go to bed at night with a clear conscience?

            But whatever you argue, please put a little effort into consistency. If it should be a doctor-patient choice with no one standing betwixt the two, then the cost of your baby (neonatal care or otherwise) is irrelevant. You do understand that don’t you? You do understand what irrelevant means, don’t you? OK good, then why are you and the Obama administration bringing it up? Serious question. The answer of course is that the doctor and patient cannot pay for the things you want them to have, so there is always going to be a third party in the room. Let’s start from that point and see if we can’t come up with a coherent and moral system.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              Um is absolutely correct about birth control and disease. Remember the “safe sex” campaign a decade or more back when putting condoms on a banana became de rigeour in public high schools? Fewer people got pregnant ostensibly, but skin borne STD’s shot through the roof.

              Um is also correct in linking contraception to the larger problem of sexual promiscuity. The notion that contraception is an unqualified good because it prevents pregnancy is a self-comforting myth. Licentious behavior carries imposes other serious costs visible to anyone who sees the bigger picture.

              I’m not sure what the “conservative” reference means because I see only moral conservatives willing to refute the panaceas of the condom culture.

              I wrote a review of a book discussing these issues several years back. Even the today the facts are very troubling. See: Teen Sex is Killing Our Kids

              • Self-proclaimed political and economic conservatives today are influenced to an alarming degree by the teachings of Ayn Rand. Rand was a psychological and ethical egoist, preaching that individual humans have an ethical obligation only to their own self-interest, that we have no obligation to act in the interest of others (ethical altruism), and that we in fact lack the capacity to act in the interest of others (psychological altruism) and therefore do more harm than good when we pretend otherwise.

                Her ideas are anti-religious to their very core, being derive from her atheistic commitments, and the current devotion to her teachings within this country by self-proclaimed conservatives is appalling. When these devotees are Christians, as countless numbers are currently, the situation is morbidly perverse.

                • Mike Myers says

                  Amen, Um. Glad to see you back. Another point of light here.

                • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                  Um, your point might be more plausible if you referred to some “self-proclaimed conservatives.” The devotees to and fellow travelers with Ayn Rand to whom you refer are, whatever allegiance to political or moral conservatism they may pledge, radical libertarians, not genuine conservatives. I agree with you that they debase the meaning of the term “conservative” and undermine the traditional conservative emphasis on seeking the good of both the community and the individual. Above all, that entails the traditional extended family (and its more recent “nuclear” variant) firmly rooted in the marriage of one man and one woman alone.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Um, to suggest that an atheist and libertine like Ayn Rand is the font of all conservative wisdom is hogwash. If she is correct in a particular point, neither her atheism nor her licentiousness should be mitigating factors against the point which she addresses. Anymore than we should throw out the entire canon of the Founding Fathers because some of them were slave-owners or Deists.

                  Truth can be spoken by anyone, even a sinner.

                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                  Um, ever read any Russel Kirk? Get a copy of “The Portable Conservative Reader” to understand the proper boundaries and moral grounding of conservatism. Rand was a libertarian (libertine actually) who had no real grasp of the communal responsibilities of the individual. Both radical individualism and collectivism are closely related in terms of moral self-understanding which is why you often see the libertarian sharing the progressive sexual bed and justifying the same necessary remedies for their behavior like abortion, contraceptive myth-making and so forth.

                • Um,

                  Thanks for pointing out that the liberal contraceptive mentality and the conservative promotion of “individual freedom” are in fact flip sides of the same narcissistic coin.

                  Fr Weber: I’d offer that “some self-proclaimed conservatives” (very few, and those are declared “not real conservatives,” in political terms “RINO,” by the majority) against the narcissism of the mass of conservatism today, not the other way around.

                  Rush Limbaugh become the fattest of fat cats by preaching a secular prosperity-gospel of consumption for me, Me, ME!, not a conservatism of service and actual conservation of any resource. Liberals and government are bad because they stop me, Me, ME! from getting what I want when I want it how I want it.

                  The conservative mantra is “Drill, baby, drill.” because it seeks to satiate “I want, baby, I want.”

                  • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                    Just to clarify, I did not say “the conservative promotion of “individual freedom” are in fact flip sides of the same narcissistic coin.” I said that Randian style libertarianism shares moral assumptions in common with Progressive ideology (Rand places the locus of moral authority in the individual, the Progressive in the state). That’s why you see some libertarians and Progressives sharing the same bed.

                    Two essays you should read to clarify your ideas about conservative thinking:

                    Ten Conservative Principles

                    Civilization Without Religion?

                    • Fr Hans,

                      I was addressing Um’s comments and views.

                      While I appreciate the desire to promote Kirk’s views, they have not been the views of conservatism in America since the rise of Reaganism.

                      Goldwater lost, and lost big, and Reagan won, and won big, and all the world loves a winner. The result is that today’s conservatives are much more in the mold of Limbaugh and FoxNews than Russell Kirk, Edmund Burke or any conservative theorist of the past 200 years.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Moving along for a second…you are misreading the success of FOX News. FOX may become the next major news channel in the same way that the Japanese cars replaced Detroit home-growns. People like to hit on FOX, but Toyotas and Hondas took hits too at first and Detroit was too self-satisfied to recognize the challenge. Look who won.

                      Limbaugh too is underestimated (although never by his sponsors). Philosophers are usually not politicians and even less commentators, but that does not mean they are fools. Limbaugh is a smart man and very good at what he does. Party line liberals hate him of course, but liberals pretty much hate anyone who dares challenge the nostrums of political correctness which Limbaugh does relentlessly and often with great humor. Few on the right, and certainly no one on the left can match his originality.

                    • CQ, the reason Goldwater lost (and lost big) was because he was running against the ghost of JFK. There was simply no way that the American public was going to have three presidents in one year. The trauma was simply too great.

                      Let’s also not forget that Goldwater was Jewish on his father’s side. I well remember Democratic operatives saying under their breath, “you know down deep, he’s still a Jew.”

                    • Fr. Hans: I don’t know where you get the idea that I’m at all misreading the success of FoxNews or Limbaugh. What I’m saying is that their success comes from promoting something incoherent with the work you cited as representative of conservative thinking.

                      George: Goldwater lost for a variety of reasons, but surely chief among them is that he pretty much said what he really thought without regard for how media could and would twist it. The only time LBJ ever said what he really thought was when he thought no-one could hear him.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      I get the idea from statements like contemporary conservativism is incoherent with the views I suggest is representative of conservative thinking. In a sense this is correct but only because culture and poitics (and I see politics as a lagging indicator) is a complex and messy business. The line between the expression of an idea and its translation into policy is seldom as clear as your criticism requires.

                      The culture war, in other words, is real but the lines defining them can shift. It is true that liberal ideas affect conservatives (neo-con foreign policy for example is as expansionist and culturally aggressive as any liberal’s) so that the line between liberal and conservative is blurred. This lends credence to the your “incoherent” argument if we assume the relationships have to be linear. We have to make broad sweeps sometimes to clarify the distinctions and broad sweeps always invite exceptions even though that sweep is still largely correct.

                      This is true in the Church as well, for example:

                      All current versions of Christianity can be very conditionally divided into two major groups – traditional and liberal. The abyss that exists today divides not so much the Orthodox from the Catholics or the Catholics from the Protestants as it does the ‘traditionalists’ from the ‘liberals’. Some Christian leaders, for example, tell us that marriage between a man and a woman is no longer the only way of building a Christian family: there are other models and the Church should become appropriately ‘inclusive’ to recognize alternative behavioural standards and give them official blessing. Some try to persuade us that human life is no longer an absolute value; that it can be terminated in a mother’s womb or that one can terminate one’s life at will. Christian ‘traditionalists’ are being asked to reconsider their views under the slogan of keeping abreast with modernity.

                      Regrettably, it has to be admitted that the Orthodox Church and many in the Anglican Church have today found themselves on the opposite sides of the abyss that divides traditional Christians from Christians of liberal trend. Certainly, inside the Anglican Community there remain many “traditionalists”, especially in the South and the East, but the liberal trend is also quite noticeable, especially in the West and in the North. Protests against liberalism continue to be heard among Anglicans, as at the 2nd All African Bishops’ Conference held in late August. The Conference’s final document stated in particular, ‘We affirm the Biblical standard of the family as having marriage between a man and a woman as its foundation. One of the purposes of marriage is procreation of children some of whom grow to become the leaders of tomorrow’.

                      From: Address by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations to the Annual Nicean Club Dinner (Lambeth Palace, 9 September 2010)

                    • I’d offer that the opposite of “traditional” is “modern,” not “liberal,” but that’s a colloquialism that is likely lost on the Metropolitan.

                      And since the discussion has moved from American politics to the Church, to me the strength of Orthodoxy is that it has always contextualized the modern world (of every era) within the bedrock of faith, rather than allowing faith to be contextualized within the shifting sands of the modern world.

                      Those, I think, are the real differences between “traditional” and “liberal” as used by the Metropolitan.

                      The problem I see with the culture war is that it, like the clashes that followed the Protestant Reformation, contextualizes both “sides” the world. Back then Protestants and Catholics justified murderous atrocities committed upon each other in the name of “faith.”

                      Holy Thursday, gotta jet…

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      I can see the distinction you are trying to draw, but is there really a difference between “modern” and “liberal”? Take the group within Orthodoxy that wants moral legitimacy for homosexual copulation for example. Do their arguments differ in any way from the gay rights lobby? Not really. They throw in a few words borrowed from the vocabulary of the moral tradition to add a patina of authority to their platform, but the fundamental thrust of appealing to emotions and amorphous standards of fairness is the same. Liberal Christians don’t reason any different than their secular Progressive counterparts apart from a bit more fluency with the Christian vocabulary. This is as true of the Orthodox as it is of, say, the Episcopalians.

                      After the McGovern loss, the Democratic party was taken over by cultural radicals (McGovern lost the election but his supporters won the party). Believe it or not, the Democrats used to be pro-life. Now they are known as the part of death and statism. Is this a fair characterization? Unfortunately yes and the country is poorer because of it.

                      The leftist captivity of the party drove many former Democrats rightward and Reagan was the beneficiary of the shift. Of course, the “center” by which we define right and left shifts according of the self-definition of rightists and leftists. In this way Reagan was correct in saying the “I did not leave the Democratic Party but the Democratic Party left me” and many people who voted for him agreed (the “Reagan Democrats”).

                      The emergence of the neo-cons who understand the devastation of the Democratic cultural agenda maintained the activist temper of leftist cultural values in foreign affairs (Hillary’s aggresive pro-abortion and pro-homosexual policies as Secretary of State for example, a noxious brew of cultural imperialism actually) although limited it to military expansionism (“Arab Spring”, bombing of Serbia, and so forth). I remember being the odd man out for criticizing the bombing of Serbia when it was occurring just as I was last week at some meetings in Washington where I criticized the notion of an “Arab Spring” to conservatives. I asked them why they were endorsing a liberal/Progressive foreign policy? Didn’t they realize that the ones who would suffer most would be the Christians?

                      The needful project is, as you say, the contextualization of Orthodoxy into culture. That is one area where I think the classical liberals (not Progressive liberals), like Kirk et. al. can be helpful. They reason from a moral sensibility grounded in Christianity, much of it Orthodox as it happens. I don’t believe however, in the project I term as “Orthodoxy as a Third Way.” It is simply not possible and promulgated chiefly by those who see the moral bankruptcy of liberal/Progressive ideology but can’t stomach calling themselves conservative.

                      We are in a war for the survival of the culture and, if God is merciful to us, its restoration. I agree with Charles Murray. If the foundational values are not recovered, all is lost. In biblical terms, we need a deep repentance in the land.

                      Source: Uncommon Knowledge — The Hoover Institute

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      CQ, I reject your distinction. There are either Christians or heterodox. All Christians who believe in Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected are “Traditionalists.” Modernism on the other hand is a heresy. It preaches a different Christ, one who changes with the whims of the moment.

                      (And no, wanting central air & heating in churches is not “modernism.”)

                    • Actually, Fr., I’m asserting the Venn set “Modern” contains the sets “American Conservatives since Reagan” and “American Liberals.” It seems that you agree with this.

                      I’m afraid that I see we’ve said two different things when it comes to the relationship of Orthodoxy and culture. I wrote that “Orthodoxy … has always contextualized the modern world (of every era) within the bedrock of faith” and you wrote of “the contextualization of Orthodoxy into culture.” I see the latter as quite possibly being claimed by all those who wish to change Orthodox teaching in order to “bring it into the 21st century,” whereas my point is that the 21st century needs to be brought to fullness in Orthodoxy.

                      My own feeling is that what the world needs more than anything is our repentance and prayers, and our proclamation of the Truth. And with that I’m off to yet another round of services…

                      George, Two things, I think you misunderstood my point about terminology which is more clearly outlined above, and your definition of “traditionalists” would appear to include the proudly gay Metropolitan Community Church.

                • Joseph Clarke says

                  I read The Fountainhead while I was in architecture school and found it irritating and facile. But Rand has countless devotees on the political right. Rush Limbaugh calls her a “brilliant writer and novelist.” Clarence Thomas reportedly requires his law clerks to watch The Fountainhead, and says he tends “really to be partial to Ayn Rand.” (source)

                  Right now the most influential conservative advocate for Ayn Rand is Congressman Paul Ryan, who authored the current Republican budget that Mitt Romney and all but four House Republicans have endorsed. From TIME magzine: “Paul Ryan says Ayn Rand is the reason he entered politics and he requires all staff and interns to read her books. Says Ryan: ‘Ayn Rand more than anyone else did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism.'”

                  Broadly speaking, the Republican Party’s power comes from a coalition of libertarian/supply-side economic interests, social conservatives, and foreign policy hawks. The increasing suspicion with which social conservatives view the GOP’s economic devotion to Rand as expressed in their current budget is a reminder that total faith in the unfettered free market (“the morality of individualism”), like any other political or economic ideology, is inimical to Christianity.

            • Oh, come on Um; you need to take things not out of context.

              Bauman suggests the lust for power is the reason behind the fed gov requiring a religion to not cherry pick a health policy, and he suggests it is getting done by making the insurers go broke. And you are worried about my inconsistency? The religion had the original lust for power asking for the no birth control policies. Governments only step in when they need to…

              Heracleides crocodile is in the house. The federal government hasn’t forced insurers to do much for years and for years; insurers have used every method available to minimize large losses. My mother had a false shadow on a mammogram; verified by physical exam, and the incoming insurer decided it right to place a 24 month rider on her non-existing condition. Lucky for her she didn’t have a real condition, or the hospitals would pick up the tab treating her and the next year it’d be reflected in rate hikes, or she’d just die. By the way minimizing large losses is the insurance cos means of survival, but they don’t mind consistent cost increases because they can manage those easily through rate hikes. The insurance companies would prefer birth control over pregnancy all day long; be assured. They only care about controlling large losses; it is how they function.

              Insurance is supposed to be a pool where the healthy pay for the sick; sorry, I know that’ll get the ire of the AynRandians…insurance is very ______, oh someone fill in the blank.

              I argued by saying the insurance companies are generally more interested in prevention than higher losses later and you are telling me I’m inconsistent because I believe in the dr-patient relationship? The dr-patient relationship is relevant because some employer ordained the policy of no birth control payments!

              And don’t tell me condoms are the answer. Use one yourself and don’t call me in the morning when you are crying. And don’t go into side arguments about fertility and the epidemiology of birth control abuse; please.

              The right really struggles with inconsistency on the birth control subject because they insist on the dr-patient relationship until the boss-insurer relationship pooped into the discussion.

              Sorry, Um, but I really am not the inconsistent one here. Bauman’s logic is simply not good logic; with one exception..since health insurance is by its very nature socialistic (and don’t tell me it isn’t); it does stand to reason the government could do it and remove the profit motive at least from that portion of it). They aren’t trying to do it by driving costs through the roof; insurance companies are better of paying for birth control than pregnancy care; neonatal or otherwise.

              Costs have been going through the roof for years; long before the government tried to bring any reform to the mess.

              • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                If you don’t like how the insurance companies limit losses, wait until the government controls health care. They will limit loses through rationing. You aint seen nothing yet.

                There’s No Such Thing as Free Health Care

                You put too much faith in statist solutions.

                • Fr. Hans, you’re quick to criticize government, but you offer no alternatives? What would you do with 50 million Americans without health insurance?

                  • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                    First of all the 50 million figure is way off. It includes illegal aliens, people who don’t chose to have insurance (the young especially), and so forth.

                    See: The Real Story On The Uninsured

                    According to AHRQ’s  The Uninsured in American, 1996-2008: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Nonstitutionalized Population under Age 65 (Statistical Brief #259) the number of non-elderly individuals for the full year in 2007 was 39.9 million.

                    That 39.9 million includes 5.9 million children (see Statistical Brief #259) who are either in families wealthy enough to afford health insurance or are already eligible for Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

                    That 34 million uninsured number includes 12 million illegal aliens s who the proponents of H.R. 3200 swear up and down will not receive a single dime of taxpayer assistance through the legislation.

                    Most of those who are uninsured become insured. As most health policy analysts know, the insurance market is unstable; it is constantly churning with people going in and out of coverage. According to the CDC’s Summary Health Statistics for the U.S. Population National Health Interview Survey (CDC, Table 25), nearly one quarter of currently uninsured individuals was due to change in employment. And according to AHRQ’s The Long-Term Uninsured in America, 2004-2007: Estimates for the U. S. Civilian Nonstitutionalized Population under Age 65 (Statistical Brief #258) 55% of individuals ages 18-24 were uninsured for at least 1 month in the period 2006-07, but only 18 percent were uninsured over a two year period and only 11 percent were uninsured over the entire four year period.

                    I think one solution to the funding problem would be to increase competition among insurance carriers. (Michael Bauman understands a lot about this since he is in the business.)

                    Here are some ideas: Critics Are Wrong: Conservatives Have a Plan for Health Reform. There are actually a lot of policy papers written about reforming insurance without rquiring a government takeover of the health care industry. Just Google for them.

                    • Whether the figure is 10 million or 40 million begs the question–are we as a society OK with Americans having shortened lifespans because of economic status? (Many of my conservative friends are honest enough to answer yes without resorting to ridiculing the notion that there are Americans who don’t receive medical care because they can’t afford it.)

                    • You know, in every other country besides America, Orthodox leaders call on their governments to protect the vulnerable……. Things like providing healthcare are what governments in civilized countries exist to do.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Samm, it’s true that civilized people care for the vulnerable. It is not true that government run health program can provide that kind of care. Often government control makes situations worse.

                      Right now in the US, the uninsured have better care using emergency rooms (where the costs are transferred to the insured through higher premiums) than they will have under Obamacare once all funding mechanisms are federalized. England and Canada already prove that.

                      Look at how welfare decimated the Black family, or how the worst performing schools in America are located in Democrat controlled inner cities. Do we really want to turn our health care over to the same crew? If they can’t handle education, how are they going to handle health care?

                      See: The Ugly Truth About Canadian Health Care. FYI, City Journal is the magazine put out by the Manhattan Institute, the originators of the “Broken Windows Theory” that provided the theoretical basis for Guilliani’s restoration of New York after the Dinkens fiasco. They don’t let moralistic bromides cloud the facts over there.

                    • Fr. Hans,

                      My family members who live in Canada, several of whom work jobs where they’d never be able to afford healthcare in the US, are pretty damn happy with the Canadian system, at least relative to what we get here in the US– HMO bureaucracy, given its market-driven need to minimize the services it provides and deny coverage any chance it gets, is far worse than any government bureaucracy!

                      Pointing out that poor governance or corruption exists is not a reason to call for the government to not provide a basic service that all other developed countries (and many less developed countries) provide. In a way, poor governance often exists specifically because Americans have become accustomed to the government not providing basic services. Instead, we should be calling both for good governance and for good basic services. In this, we should take our cue from Metropolitan Elias of Beirut’s Easter sermon, where he called on the Lebanese government to both reduce corruption and waste and to provide better education and healthcare. It’s in working for both these goals that progress can be made in our society.

                      The type of libertarianism that you advocate, so peculiar to American politics, is based on the mistaken assumption that social justice can be an individual mandate. In fact, it has to take place both individually and collectively in order to work. In the scriptures, God calls on both individuals and whole peoples to work justice for the oppressed. We can’t ignore either element of this and claim to be giving a truly Christian witness.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Samm, calling for good governance is a good thing. Getting it is something else. Asking government to takeover the health care industry just to improve funding mechanisms is asking them to do for health care like they did for education. No thanks. There are ways of fixing this apart from resorting to Obamacare.

                      Source: New Study Shows Obamacare’s Huge Additions to Federal Deficit.

                  • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                    Do you mean higher infant morality rates? That’s usually the argument. That has some fuzzy logic too, however. The shortened life spans is one I haven’t heard of before.

                    Where do you get the idea that government run healthcare will magically solve all health care funding problems? (Gotta shake the idea that moralistic bromides trump facts, Logan.) The best you can hope for is the resolution of smaller problems for much larger ones.

                    Further, do we really want people like Katherine Sabellius who exhibit the deepest moral confusion about such things as, say, the inherent value of the unborn child making decisions on who lives or dies and what care they receive in the interim? I don’t. If they think killing at the early stages of life is a social good, they won’t have any problem with killing at the end of life either.

                    Look at Canada and England. Didn’t you read the article: There’s No Such Thing as Free Health Care?

                    Maybe we can become like England. Sex-change operations will be picked up by taxpayers, but forget trying to fix your teeth. See: Bad teeth – the new British disease.

                    • I am in favour that the government should take over the monopoly of producing shoes. That way no one will be without shoes. All will get shoe-stamps and when their cue comes up in the line they will receive one left-shoe. The next assignment will be right shoes…. (They found a factory ware house full of left shoes when Eastern Germany became free).

                      I am also in favour of the government to supply electricity to all. No one should be without electricity. In order to save the environment and save the water driving the turbines, electricity will provided for all for free. Monday, Wednesday and Friday the left sides of the streets will have two hours of power. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday the right side. Sunday’s nobody will have power, because that is when all go to re-education and sensitivity training.

                      I am also in favour of the government introduces more environmentally friendly traffic regulations. No one should be without traffic. Mondays all roads and streets will be reserved for trucks. Tuesdays buses and streetcars, Wednesdays cars and SUVs. Thursdays bicycles. Fridays pedestrians, Saturdays street cleaners and ice-cream trucks. On Sundays no one, but governmental officials is allowed to use the streets because all lemmings are in sensitivity training anyway…

                      I am also in favour of the government running all churches. The sample of operation could be taken from the Holy Resurrection Church in Jerusalem. Every denomination get’s a certain amount of square feet assigned and certain hours of operation prescribed. If Pas’cha should fall on Western Eastern we could then also follow the example of our Orthodox brethren of Jerusalem and beat the crap out of the Catholics if they step into our space…

                      I really love the government and can’t see any end of things we can hand over to this efficient and benevolent body of selfless leaders and meritocrats.

                      I have more suggestions, but leave them undisturbed under the rock for now. 😉

                      Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!
                      Christus is auferstanden! Er ist wahrhaft auferstanden!

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Fr. Hans,
                      Kathleen Sabellius has absolutely no moral confusion about unborn children. When she was running for govenor of Kansas (my state) she was clearly pro-abortion stating (paraphrasing) that she believed in human rights, they just didn’t extend into the womb.

                      She was supported fully by the abortion interests in the state (Democrat and Republican alike) and, as govenor, (among other things) vetoed a lactation bill, a mere $300,000 to support breast feeding among low-income women because it also included pre-natal counseling whose intention was to reduce abortions.

                      No moral confusion at all, she is and has been systematically evil.

                      I am proud to say that I voted against her every time she ran for state-wide office and am ashamed at the lap-dog, boot licking fawining of our supposedly pro-life Senators Roberts and Brownback when she was nominated for HHS Secretary. Their rationale was that she would somehow bring the bacon home to Kansas. I know because I wrote them in protest. Of course, some low level staffer replied with an already prepared press release full of hypocritical self-congratulation.

                    • Fr. Hans, you still didn’t answer my question. Should all Americans have access to basic health care without regard to economic status–yes or no, please?

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Logan, Americans already have access to basic health care. It is called the emergency room.

                      Please, don’t argue that Americans don’t have access. They do. Arguing they don’t is as specious as arguing that 50 million Americans are uninsured.

                      Now, if you ask me if that is a good system, my answer is no. If you argue that a government takeover over of the health care industry is the solution, my answer is a double no. It will get worse.

                    • Fr. Hans said:

                      Logan, Americans already have access to basic health care. It is called the emergency room.

                      Emergency rooms don’t provide basic health care, they provide emergency care. Last year I took my mother to the ER for chest pain. They determined no heart attack, but she did have an irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation.) As it was not life threatening, she was discharged her with instructions to see a cardiologist as the condition and her advanced age increased her risk for a stroke. If she did not have health insurance or financial resources, there would have been no follow up care and possibly devastating consequences.

                      There are many sound reasons to argue against government-run health care, but don’t use the “there’s not a health care issue because they can use the ER” argument–it doesn’t work.

                      Be honest and come out and say it–health care is an individual responsibility and if you believe that, then it’s an either/or proposition and there should be no government involvement at all, in any circumstances.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      There are many sound reasons to argue against government-run health care, but don’t use the “there’s not a health care issue because they can use the ER” argument–it doesn’t work.

                      Logan, I never made the argument that “there’s not a health care issue because they can use the ER.” You use quotes as if the words came from my keyboard, but can you cite the comment # where it was written? You can’t because I never wrote it. I believe health care funding is in serious trouble, but I don’t believe that a government take over of the health care industry will help solve the problems at all.

                      Just to clarify. Every American can receive basic health care. In fact anyone located in America including illegal aliens can receive health care which is one reason why the California health care and education establishment (we’ll overlook the California pension benefits for the time being) is running astronomical deficits for example. That’s the law and as imperfect and unwieldy as it is, it is all we have right now and I agree with it. But it can’t continue. The numbers just don’t allow it. Either it changes, or everyone else’s care gets reduced to second-world status just as it is in Greece (I lived there so I know).

                      The wealthy of course get privileged care and Obama and Congress have already exempted themselves from Obamacare and are using public money for a private Cadillac plan. Don’t you ever question why they exempted themselves? If health care nirvana is just around the corner, how come they aren’t making the trip with the rest of us? What do they know that you don’t?

                      Sometimes you see things that are just not there. That’s what I mean by “reflexive liberalism.” Just because people defend Obamacare using the language of compassion does not mean it is de-facto the right thing to do or will be an improvement over what we have today. Most likely it will extend the crisis in the emergency room throughout the entire hospital given the economics like it has in England and Canada. Facts matter.

                    • Fr. Hans, you still didn’t answer my question–should all Americans have access to basic health care without regard to economic status–yes or no?

                      You said all Americans do have access to basic health care (without regard to economic status.) That’s just not so–everyone has access to emergency room care which is not the same thing as basic health care. Basic health care, in my mind, includes a preventive emphasis and maintenance of good health. I can’t walk into the ER and get my annual physical and labs.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Reread what I wrote Logan:

                      Every American can receive basic health care. In fact anyone located in America including illegal aliens can receive health care…That’s the law and as imperfect and unwieldy as it is, it is all we have right now and I agree with it.

                      If you are arguing that everyone should have preventive health care, then there has to be a funding mechanism to pay for it without distorting the true costs which is the problem that we have now (insurance premiums are high to pay for all the uninsured care). Giving government control over the pricing mechanism (which Obamacare does) won’t solve this. It will only redistribute resources through rationing given our already sky-high deficits. We can’t borrow our way out this anymore, which is how we have been funding entitlements since the Great Society.

                      Probably the most sane way out of this mess is stricter eligibility requirements and more local control. It may be necessary to turn to the older system of charity hospitals. Preventive care could be done on a state by state basis. Some states will be better than others, but overall the care could be better. It is time for some creative thinking.

                      Maybe we have to adopt the Catholic model or encourage the Catholic Church to build more hospitals. They seem to manage things better.

                      From: Obama Risks $100 Billion If Catholic Hospitals Close

                      The Catholic Church has perhaps the most extensive private health-care delivery system in the nation. It operates 12.6 percent of hospitals in the U.S., according to the Catholic Health Association of the U.S., accounting for 15.6 percent of all admissions and 14.5 percent of all hospital expenses, a total for Catholic hospitals in 2010 of $98.6 billion. Whom do these hospitals serve? Catholic hospitals handle more than their share of Medicare (16.6 percent) and Medicaid (13.65) discharges, meaning that more than one in six seniors and disabled patients get attention from these hospitals, and more than one in every eight low-income patients as well. Almost a third (32 percent) of these hospitals are located in rural areas, where patients usually have few other options for care.

                      Compared to their competition, Catholic hospitals take a leading role in providing less-profitable services to patients. They lead the sector in breast cancer screenings, nutrition programs, trauma, geriatric services, and social work. In most of these areas, other non-profits come close, but hospitals run by state and local governments fall significantly off the pace. Where patients have trouble paying for care, Catholic hospitals cover more of the costs. For instance, Catholic Health Services in Florida provides free care to families below 200 percent of federal poverty line, accepting Medicaid reimbursements as payment in full, and caps costs at 20 percent of household income for families that fall between 200 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line.

                      Imagine the impact if these hospitals shut down, discounting the other 400-plus health centers and 1,500 specialized homes that the Catholic Church operates as part of its mission that would also disappear. Thanks to the economic models of these hospitals, no one will rush to buy them. One in six patients in the current system would have to vie for service in the remaining system, which would have to absorb almost $100 billion in costs each year to treat them. Over 120,000 beds would disappear from an already-stressed system.

                      The poor and working class families that get assistance from Catholic benefactors would end up having to pay more for their care than they do under the current system. Rural patients would have to travel farther for medical care, and services like social work and breast-cancer screenings would fall to the less-efficient government-run institutions. That would not only impact the poor and working class patients, but would create much longer wait times for everyone else in the system. Finally, over a half-million people employed by Catholic hospitals now would lose their jobs almost overnight, which would have a big impact on the economy as well as on health care.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Logan, if we go down this road, should every American be entitled to three square meals a day and shelter? If not, why not. And if “yes,” then what kind of food and how many square feet? Where should the shelter be located?

                      The Constitution guarantees negative rights, that is those rights which are God-given and inure to the individual because he is created in God’s image. These are rights which can’t be taken away except for cause. To believe positive rights is an abomination and always leads to totalitarianism and (ironically) slavery.

                      There is an old Serbian saying: “It is better to drink vinegar as a free man than have honey and be a slave.”

    • Isa Almisry says

      “My decision on the subject is made…employers have no business deciding treatments”

      Then seek employment elsewhere.

  15. Daniel E. Fall says

    On the subject of a unified Orthodox Church in America; George just gave a great example of why it might be important…for a consistent message, but frankly, I’ve never cared about the divisions. I always thought they were an interesting opportunity for varied cultures within Orthodoxy in the US. St. George’s Greek festival; meat during Lent at St. Katherine’s Ukrainian on Sundays….all fine with me.

    I think it is only a problem to the degree where it is made one; but what do I know about bishops getting along?

    I hope it never changes; so here is my chance to really be admired by the status quo!

    Actually, although the Greeks ran the statement; I doubt our Metropolitan would have disagreed, but it is nice to know what really happened…

  16. cynthia curran says

    Personality, Fr Hans ,Procopius still the greatest writer at political satire. Ler’s face it Procopius’s images of Justinian and Theodora as demons in the Secret History and putting down Belsarius for being under the thumb of his evil wife Antinonia is one of the best in politcal satire. I read it and while it exaggerates things there is some truth in it. Rush could learn things from Procopius on poltical satire.

  17. cynthia curran says

    Well, Johnson had that ad that Goldwater was to blow us to tim buck too. Anyway, Goldwater didn’t have the Reagan appeal and Nixon made it in 1968, Nixon dislike by both left and right for different reasons.

  18. cynthia curran says

    Well, on Ayn Rand she developed her philosophy based upon the Communists takeover, her family had to leave Russia. Being jewish probably turn her off from Christianity and some Christians in Russia attack Jews. On the other hand, she didn’t have much stock in Judaism.

  19. cynthia curran says

    Well, Rand has some good and bad, she is right that too much too the collective is wrong. But if indivduals do their own thing that a lot of right wing conservatives don’t believe like legal drugs or selling your body for sex, or hardcore porn or abortion. Actually, Paul Ryan should be a little in the middle on Rand. About 40 years ago the Buckley conservatives dislike Rand for being too much against religion. As for suppply side fiscal conservative the states like Texas grow fast but because of their domegrpahics a lot more hispanics than the national average they do poorly on poverty stats, people being insurance. Actaully, the best state on fiscal consrative is North Datoka, a low rate of poverty few minorities. Republicans need to use ND as stheir model rather than Texas.

  20. cynthia curran says

    As for selling your body for sex, while the Byzantines were noted for brothels and underaged girls. In fact, the Justinian Law Address the subject that a lot of brothels were near Churches and so forth, and pimps should be severly punished. So, Orthodox shouldn’t just compliain about the morals of the west.

  21. Fr. Hans Jacobse says:
    Logan, Americans already have access to basic health care. It is called the emergency room.

    and that is why healthcare is so expensive in the USA. Part of what needs to be done is to find a way to obtain Primary care for the poor and/or uninsured which cuts down on visits to the ER.
    I worked at a major hospital in Chicago and the ER was over run with the poor using it for basic care while trauma patients were sometimes overlooked..

    • G. Sheppard says

      I’m with Stephen on this. I, too, have worked in healthcare for many years. Not only do people come in for basic care, they come in when they are literally at “death’s door.” What could have been averted is now a full-blown crisis, which is infinitely more expensive. Providers (hospitals, pathologists, radiologists, etc.) have to eat the cost, which is passed on to the consumer. For both humanitarian & fiscal reasons, I would much rather pay for primary care; however, I am not an advocate of government getting involved on the scale that Obama is recommending. If they gave uninsured children and their families vaccinations and antibiotics through the school system, that might alleviate some of the problem. They could extend this care to uninsured adults in the community who meet certain criteria. We used to have a school nurse when I was young. I remember lining up at school for the first polio vaccine. School systems want kids to stay well because each absence costs them money. Seems to me it’s a win/win. Does it take care of everything? No, but it’s a relatively inexpensive start. – Regarding the healthcare of illegal aliens, people need to consider that these people are HERE. They are in our malls and other public places. They get sick, you get sick.