Casting Lots and Coming up Snake-Eyes

First of all, Gail and I hope you all had a blessed Holy Week and Pascha.  We certainly did.  May this triumphant spirit continue for all. 

It is now time for us to roll up our sleeves and continue to fight the good fight.

So, where are we?  

Basically, here:  The Ecumenical Patriarch made a serious mistake in casting lots in Ukraine.  

First, the local Orthodox Churches came out en masse condemning the various atrocities committed by Bartholomew’s fake church against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, whose primate is the long-suffering Metropolitan Onuphriy of Kiev.  (If you’re interested in learning more about which Churches in particular, please go to

And now, the governing body of Mt. Athos known as the Sacred Community has come out against the Ukrainian schismatics, as well. 

This is huge.  Why? 

Because all twenty monasteries on Mt. Athos are under the direct control of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  To use Western terminology, the Patriarch of Constantinople is the “governor-general” of the Holy Mountain and all of the priests, the monasteries, the sketes, the hermitages and other dependencies commemorate the Patriarch of Constantinople —and no other bishop–in all their liturgical services.  They take direction only from him. 

This includes the abbots, especially the abbots.

Even if they are Bulgarian, Romanian, Serbian or Russian.  In other words, it’s not just a “Greek thing.”  In refusing to abide by his dictates regarding the schismatic sect in Ukraine, they have effectively “unrecognized” his canonical sovereignty over them. 

Were they sailors or soldiers, it would be a mutiny.

Previously, the twenty abbots who make up the governing council of Mt Athos could not come to a unanimous decision regarding the false church created by Bartholomew.  So, they decided to let each monastic community make up their own minds as to whether or not they would concelebrate with any of the Ukrainian schismatics.  Most chose not to.  To my knowledge, only two –Pantokrator and Xenophontos–were the exception.

This temporary work-around has since unraveled.  When priests from the monasteries of Pantokrator and Xenophontos arrived to celebrate the Liturgy at Philotheou monastery, they were prevented from doing so, as they had both concelebrated with Ukrainian schismatics. 

In other words they, too, were schismatic.

Lines have now been drawn in the sand.  The ball is in Bartholomew’s court (so to speak).  As the governor of all of the monastic communities which comprise Mt Athos, he has the authority to take disciplinary matters into his own hands against the offending abbots. 

Whether he will do so is another matter.

In any event, he is boxed into a corner.  His Ukrainian gambit is not working out as he and the State Department had planned.

Curiously, Bartholomew’s annual Paschal Encyclical was rather subdued.  Leaving aside the usual arrogance in addressing “the plenitude of the faithful,” there was no mention of the present troubles in Ukraine.  Is it because he has come to realize how unpopular he has become in the Orthodox world?  Or is he just laying low, hoping not to draw attention to himself, given the defeat that is being inflicted upon the West by Russia? 

It’s sad really, as it didn’t have to be this way.  As I wrote earlier, he could have refused the blandishments of the Western globalists who hoped he would corral all of the Orthodox into his spiritual orbit.  Truth be told, given his rancid hatred for his Christian brothers in Russia, it is nigh impossible to envision a pathway in which he could realize his grandiose delusions.  

Unfortunately, as has happened so many times in history, the Holy Spirit intervened:  first with St Alexander Nevsky, then with the expulsion of the Poles from Moscow, and later with Napoleon and, of course, Hitler.  In all cases, the demonic Western spear was shattered on the impregnable walls of Russia.

And now the same thing is happening to NATO in the rich alluvial soil of Ukraine.  Bartholomew, rather than standing up to the West and telling them that he could not bless their crusade against his fellow Christian brothers in Russia, chose instead to throw in his lot with them.  

This was a bridge too far even for the most loyal of the Athonites.  


  1. Jeff Moss says

    Well, the Ecumenical Patriarch may be the “governor-general” of the Holy Mountain—but the All-Holy Theotokos Herself is its Abbess.

    It would seem that the vast majority of Athonite monasteries have decided to follow their Abbess rather than their Patriarch.

    To me it’s significant that just a handful of places on earth belong entirely to the Mother of God as Her own rightful domain—and two of those places are Mount Athos, and the Kiev Caves Lavra.

    Ὑπεραγία Θεοτόκε, σῶσον ἡμᾶς!
    Пресвятая Богородице, спаси нас!
    Most Holy Theotokos, save us!

    • Good point.

      • Jeff, I agree with you and Gail here.

        I can’t believe my oversight. You are 100% correct, the Blessed Theotokos is indeed the Abbess of this holy mountain. Her will trumps those of any other secular or spiritual ruler.

        True story: when Mehmet II conquered Constantinople, his mother (step-mother actually) was a Serbian Christian who was one of his father’s wives. She raised him (it seems his biological mother had died when he was young) and he was very devoted to her. When he became Sultan, as was the custom, his mother became Sultana vilayet, i.e. Empress-Dowager. (The custom of the king’s mother being the new queen goes all the way back to Solomon; his mother Bathsheba was the queen, not any of his 700 wives.)

        Anyway, back to the story. Being a Christian, she wanted to go visit Athos. On her way there, the ship she was on was being storm-tossed and she heard a voice: “there is only one Queen here, and it’s not you.”

  2. George P. says

    The monastic communities founded by Elder Ephraim must be aware and considering these developments, along with all the other actions which we’ve seen the past few years. Perhaps they too will take a stand against these attacks against the Holy Orthodox Church, if they do the GOA will fall apart.

    • The monastic communities founded by Elder Ephraim must be aware

      The ones I am familiar with and have visited are definitely aware, and they have no intention of siding with Bartholomew.

  3. Wayne Matthew Syvinski says

    “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.” – Proverbs 16:33

  4. As Dylan (the other one) said:
    “In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand at the mongrel dogs who teach
    Fearing not that I’d become my enemy in the instant that I preach
    My existence led by confusion boats, mutiny from stern to bow
    Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”.

    PS: The full lyrics of My Back Pages do, somehow,
    seem appropriate to Bartholomew’s position
    (apart from the refrain – at which he has yet to arrive):

    [Verse 1]
    Crimson flames tied through my ears
    Rolling high and mighty traps
    Pounced with fire on flaming roads
    Using ideas as my maps
    “We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
    Proud ‘neath heated brow

    Ah, but I was so much older then
    I’m younger than that now

    [Verse 2]
    Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
    “Rip down all hate,” I screamed
    Lies that life is black and white
    Spoke from my skull, I dreamed
    Romantic facts of musketeers
    Foundationed deep, somehow

    Ah, but I was so much older then
    I’m younger than that now

    [Verse 3]
    Girls’ faces formed the forward path
    From phony jealousy
    To memorizing politics
    Of ancient history
    Flung down by corpse evangelists
    Unthought of, though, somehow

    Ah, but I was so much older then
    I’m younger than that now

    [Verse 4]
    A self-ordained professor’s tongue
    Too serious to fool
    Spouted out that liberty
    Is just equality in school
    “Equality,” I spoke the word
    As if a wedding vow

    Ah, but I was so much older then
    I’m younger than that now

    [Verse 5]
    In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
    At the mongrel dogs who teach
    Fearing not I’d become my enemy
    In the instant that I preach
    My existence led by confusion boats
    Mutiny from stern to bow

    Ah, but I was so much older then
    I’m younger than that now

    [Verse 6]
    Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
    Too noble to neglect
    Deceived me into thinking
    I had something to protect
    Good and bad, I define these terms
    Quite clear, no doubt, somehow

    Ah, but I was so much older then
    I’m younger than that now

  5. ‘given the defeat that is being inflicted upon the West by Russia?’… what defeat?

    • Defeat is to win a victory over (someone) in a battle or other contest; overcome or beat. By what stretch of the imagination does a world power not defeat a country that depends on others to defend them?

    • Economically? Check: Russia is sound. The West is not. De-dollarisation.
      Politically? Check: BRICS + Global South moving towards EURASIA.
      Militarily? Check: Unfolding as we speak…[Watch this space].
      Media War? UnCheck: The West is winning this one – for now.

      • DigitalWarrior says

        The West is winning the media war… in the West. Check out other foreign news sources, outside of Western Europe, and you’ll see plenty of counter-messaging. Thankfully, the entire world is not duped. Heck, even Robert F. Kennedy Jr is calling out the lies about Ukraine.

  6. It’s sad really, as it didn’t have to be this way.

    It really didn’t. If he had stuck with Orthodoxy and chosen to uphold the Faith then he would have been supported by the entire Church. But, he chose to betray the Faith and now he has lost, in the eyes of the Church, whatever spiritual authority he held.

    In the future when eventually the lives of the recent Ukrainian martyrs are being read by the Orthodox faithful, Patriarch Bartholomew’s name will be remembered in shame as the one who betrayed the faithful and betrayed Orthodoxy for power and money.

    That is his legacy and that’s how he will be remembered throughout all of history along with Nestorius, and other Ecumenical Patriarchs who have betrayed Orthodoxy.

  7. George Michalopulos says

    A very insightful analysis by Larry Johnson.

    One minor flaw: he calls Metropolitan Pavel the “head” of the Orthodox Church in the Ukraine. That honor goes to His Beatitude Onuphriy, the Metropolitan of Kiev. Pavel is the abbot of the Kiev Caves Lavra.

  8. The Priest Nicholas Young says

    Christ is Risen! As a Canadian, I am amused by your use of the title “governor-general”. In Ottawa the g-g, as we often call the posistion, represents the monarch (King Charles III) in parliament. Does Bartholomew represent a monarch? Does he think of himself as some kind of viceroy? The Romish title ‘vicar of Christ’ comes to mind.

    • Truly He is Risen!

      He may very well feel that way, Father! (BTW, welcome to the blog, Father.)

  9. Glory to Thee o Lord, Glory to Thee!

  10. Joseph Lipper says

    Members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (in Ukraine) have stated that they don’t want to join the OCU, because the OCU doesn’t have enough recognition among the Local Churches. Meanwhile, some Local Churches have stated they don’t want to recognize the OCU, because then that would alienate the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. So, it seems this has become a circular argument. Yet there are bishops among the Local Churches that certainly want to recognize the OCU, but their Holy Synod is not yet ready for this.

    For example, there’s His Grace Bishop Saba (Intskirveli) of the Georgian Apostolic Church in North America who has shown such enthusiasm. Last year he joined a prayer service for Ukraine with the two hierarchs who masterminded the creation of the OCU: His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, both of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA. At the prayer service for Ukraine, Bishop Saba said a few words through his translator:

    “He stated that he came here today to be with the people of Ukraine, because both our countries have been occupied by Russia. In 2008 we said the next country would be Ukraine. But back then the world did not see it. Now we see that we are dealing with a dictator. My biggest pain is the biggest problem in Ukraine and that is that the clergy do not recognize the evil. He stated that many bishops and patriarchs are wrongly blessing the people who are murdering innocent civilians. This is not the Christian way. Whoever believes in Christ must stand today with Ukraine, because today, the antichrist is attacking her. Today, Ukraine is Golgotha ​​upon which Christ was crucified. We believe He will rise, and at the end Ukraine will rise, and the Light will conquer the darkness.”

    • RE: ” . . . they don’t want to join the OCU, because the OCU doesn’t have enough recognition among the Local Churches.”

      Yes, going from being recognized across the Church to not being recognized by anybody but the EP would certainly be a problem for the UOC which is why the EP saying he offered it to everybody is a bit of a stretch, as the only way the representatives from the UOC would not be able to accept it is if they gave up the Church.

    • “…it seems this has become a circular argument.”

      But your argument is linear: from silk purse to sow’s ear.

    • Joseph Lipper:

      “Members of the UOC (in Ukraine) have stated that they don’t want to join the OCU, because the OCU doesn’t have enough recognition…

      “Meanwhile, some Local Churches have stated they don’t want to recognize the OCU, because then that would alienate the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
      So, it seems this has become a circular argument.”
      (emphasis mine)

      The key words have been CAREFULLY CHOSEN/DOWNPLAYED to imply a circular argument, QED.

      What if we rewrote/corrected the above logic with more accurate/important words, e.g.:

      “Members of the UOC (in Ukraine) have stated that they don’t want to join the OCU, because the OCU HAS SOME NON-CANONICAL PRIESTS/BISHOPS

      “Meanwhile, some Local Churches have stated they don’t want to recognize the OCU, because then that would INFECT THE UOC WITH NON-CANONICAL PRIESTS/BISHOPS.

      As Brendan says, this is not a circular argument but a linear one. OCU is non-
      canonical. Period.

      • The OCU is not canonical, nor do they want to be! They don’t even want to be ordained. Visits with Bartholomew have been few and far between. Epiphany is now bypassing Bartholomew and having official visits with the Pope. To save the Church, I wish our bishops would deal with Bartholomew and cut Epiphany off for heresy. If he doesn’t want to be ordained/canonical he shouldn’t be in the Church making deals with the pope.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Ioannis, this blog has discussed other instances of groups that were formerly considered non-canonical, but then suddenly became recognized as canonical, even without any “re-ordinations”. In those instances, does the analogy still work that “you can’t make silk purses from pig’s ears?”

        I believe the main reason why the OCU is not recognized by many Local Churches is in deference to the Russian Church. The ROC considers Ukraine to be their jurisdiction. Many of the Local Churches apparently still agree with that viewpoint.

        There is a formulaic saying, though, that war = weapons + ideas. The ideas behind Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (or “Special Military Operation”) are, unfortunately, often enough coming from the Russian Orthodox Church, such as with the persistent viewpoint that the ROC, and now the Russian military by extension, still has proper jurisdiction there. It seems what it really boils down to, then, is whether or not people agree with Russia having jurisdiction in Ukraine.

        The Russian Federation’s “liberation” of Donbass and Crimea has not actually produced any independence for those territories. Now that they are annexed, the inhabitants of those territories have been conscripted into the RF military and are at the front lines fighting against the rest of Ukraine. The churches there, formerly part of the UOC-MP, now just belong to the Moscow Patriarchate. If the RF continues to advance, this pattern will only continue. Russia’s current trajectory is, in fact, a destruction of Metropolitan Onuphry’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

        • The OCU will never “suddenly become canonical” and reordinations are always done in cases where legitimate ordinations are absent. Apparently it was offered (encouraged even) by the EP, but Epiphany refused. He has said he didn’t want to be canonical if that meant that he and his faux church would be tied to the Russian Orthodox Church.

          Russia’s trajectory is the destruction of the Ukrainian government. It is the Ukrainian government that is persecuting and banning Metropolitan Onuphry’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, not the RF.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Gail, you’re of course right about the Ukrainian government persecuting and trying to ban the UOC. Unfortunately, if the annexation of Crimea and Donbass are any indicator of Russia’s current trajectory, then the Russian Federation will only do the same (probably worse) as what the Ukrainian government is now doing. The UOC doesn’t exist anymore in the RF annexed territories.

        • Joseph Lipper,

          “I believe the main reason why the OCU is not recognized by many Local Churches is in deference to the Russian Church.”

          Yes, everybody is free to believe what he/she wants…

          “The ROC considers Ukraine to be their jurisdiction.”
          Obviously you like to expand the discussion…no problem.
          Yes, this is the Bartholomew “jurisdiction paradigm” whereby he considers various nearby or remote places to be his own jurisdiction. Other Patriarchates use the same paradigm to protect their existence.
          If Bartholomew dismisses that paradigm, then all other “jurisdictions” will change to the simple and friendly application of Canon 28 (IV Synod).

          Which brings us to the acid test which should be well known to all writing here on this subject:
          The title and function of the E.P. (as a mere coordinating bishop) in the capital city is mentioned in the abovementioned Canon 28 ONLY!
          Please read carefully that Canon and please justify to us here:
          Which similar geographical and political reasons are still TODAY valid for his existence THERE and indeed his …jurisdictions.

          For the complete Pedalion (Rudder) in Greek including interpretation(!) by Saint Nikodemos Agiorite:

          pp. 172-175

  11. Of course don’t expect this comment will ever be published.

    Just a curiosity: in the same introductory page of your website (‘about monomakhos’) I found these two sentences:

    1.’(…) with their stupid speech codes and jiggering with the algorithms.’

    2. We view each and every one of you as a member of our family.
    Pax. Let’s always try to love one another!

    Can these two sentences really come from the one same person? The first person/sentence seems to be on the attack and very judgemental – the second apparently is very loving and Christian.

    Couldn’t have found a bigger contradiction on an introductory page. So are you or are you not viewing each and every one as ‘a member of your family?’ Are you truly ‘loving one another’ as you suggest or are you only saying that you do because you like to call yourself an orthodox Christian?

    • You don’t know us very well. You might want to stick around and then tell us what you think.

    • Paraphrasing Whitman:
      We are large. We contain multitudes.

    • Mark E. Fisus says

      It’s like the Old Testament, then the New Testament

    • Not surprised at all.
      It wouldn’t be the first time, and pretty sure not the last, that the Patriarchate of Constantinople has been on the wrong side of history, both ecclesiastical and theological.
      One hundred years ago it was in support of the schismatic Soviet state church, directly opposed to the saintly Patriarch Tikhon; today it’s the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
      Currently, pushing strange the new doctrine, like first without equals, not to mention the various heresies condemned in a conciliar level in centuries past.
      The See of Andrew can fall too, and like the See of Peter, go down a path of no return.

  12. The Fanar chose sides long ago when it seemed most logical to ally with the US, its State Department and intelligence services. This was during the Cold War and it seemed then like the US was a beacon of religious freedom in contradistinction to the communist, Eastern world.

    This was really only skin deep, however. The American religion for most of the twentieth century and to date is actually Liberalism, not Christianity. And this Liberalism never was particularly supportive of Christianity and has become incrementally less tolerant of us over the last few decades. Liberalism is totalitarian in essence with no god higher than the state/party. “Truth, Justice and the American Way” was always a lie, propaganda for the Liberal oligarchy.

    However, it was better than communism. Communism was overtly anti-religious and hostile toward the concept of private ownership of the means of production. So Liberalism seemed like a prudent alliance from the Orthodox perspective. Yet, at some point, the Fanar ceased being Orthodox and adopted Hellenistic Liberalism as its actual, practical faith. Liberalism is inherently atheistic and materialistic and so while it may be more or less tolerant of religion, it does not actually share any religious convictions beyond, perhaps, at times, a sort of “civic deism”.

    This is also the Fanar’s approach, except instead of the combination of superficial religiosity and “liberal values”, the Fanar has substituted a superficial religiosity (over which it claims absolute authority) and Hellenism; i.e., the propagation of the well-being of the Greek “nation”. The two religiosities align quite nicely since the Fanar does not take tradition any more seriously than Biden or Pelosi. “Liberal values” dovetails nicely with Hellenism due to the cosmopolitan appeal of both.

    Thus, they are natural bedfellows, especially in light of the Fanar’s history of sycophancy vis a vis imperial powers. But what they cannot bring themselves to say in public is that, “Nobody believes in any of that old magical thinking anymore.” Yet that is the way that they behave, so there is no mystery as to their apostasy.

    What Liberalism and the Fanar did not bargain on was the parochial nature of the liberal thesis. It was simply a temporary ideological manifestation confined to the English speaking world and Western Europe. The West has now found itself in the position of trying to impose its values on the rest of the world without the military or economic power to do so and at a time when the rest of the world is sick up and fed with Western hegemony. The little cult of liberalism cannot expand, flourish or even survive under these circumstances since its unnatural edicts face internal opposition as well as external. The walls are, indeed, closing in.

    The revival of Christianity in Russia and the rise of the Russian Federation from the ashes of the Soviet Union have changed the game. The rise of China and India guarantee that the game change is inevitable and durable. This Alliance is becoming evident to the rest of the world as the heir apparent to world hegemony. India is the most populous country on earth now. China is the largest manufacturing power and second most populous state. Russia is the largest state with the largest nuclear arsenal and a phenomenal military production complex. Russia also is utterly rich in energy and commodities.

    The Rest of the World is quickly aligning with the BRICS framework into an overwhelming economic/military bloc.

    And so, it seems, after all, the Fanar has chosen poorly. Of course, it is not too late for the Greeks in Istanbul to change sides and get with the program. The writing is clearly on the wall. And, given their location in Turkey, it may only be a matter of time before Erdogan forces them to repudiate their State Department ties and get on side. In fact, that is the most logical development at this point. As the dollar devaluation proceeds, BRICS+ takes shape and as European states begin to assert their independence and effectively switch sides, it will become clear to the Greeks in Greece and in Istanbul that the winds are blowing opposite the direction for which they bargained.

    Perhaps adjustments will be made.

    In the meantime, it could get quite turbulent for the Fanar and its “friends”.

  13. Please help Father Nektariy of México he is a good man.

    • Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Fr.

      This would also be a good time to ask our readers to get ahold of ROCOR’s Fund for Assistance. We receive monthly requests from them and they do wonderful things with people’s donations (which are targeted).

  14. Priests of the Church of Georgia: We hope that the head of the Phanar will be judged by the Council


    Interestingly, George Cantonis is stepping down as president at HCHC. He’s only been in that position since 2019. From what I heard from folks I know who went there they really liked him.


    The whole Synod of Antioch has now expressed its support for the UOC. Yet another Church who has called out the persecution of the UOC.

    And Bartholomew is still silent.

  17. Looks like the Macedonians aren’t getting the hint about not using their name:


    How kind of Elpi to assist the US intelligence community. He never ceases to disgrace and disappoint. No weaponization to see here.