Are We Entering a St Mark of Ephesus Moment?

Good question.

Somebody (I think it was FDR) once said that “there are no coincidences in politics”. I imagine you can apply this aphorism to Church politics as well.

Case in point: recently Patriarch Kirill of Moscow celebrated a liturgy with several hierarchs. His homily was on St Mark Eugenicus of Ephesus, the lone Orthodox holdout at the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1441; video below). For those who don’t know, Ferrara-Florence was the specific council which forged an unia between Rome and Constantinople.

Admittedly, the overwhelming majority of the Eastern bishops who were there were operating under duress. Byzantium was under tremendous pressure by the Ottoman Turks who had seized the greater portion of Anatolia. Byzantium itself had been reduced to basically the city of Constantinople itself and a few regions in the Peloponnese. The military situation as dire and the Emperor thought that by healing the Great Schism of 1054, the Papacy would send much needed military aid.

The bishops were instructed to sign on the dotted line by their suzerain. End of story. And so, they did. Even Isidore, the Metropolitan of Kiev who was not under political control by Byzantium buckled. Upon his return to Moscow (which was then the seat of his archdiocese) he was escorted into the city by a phalanx of Western clerics bearing a Latin cross. This was so shocking to Russian sensibilities that it is said that even the dogs wouldn’t bark upon seeing this spectacle.

The rest is history. Byzantium –in heresy–fell anyway. And Moscow became (yes) the Third Rome.

As galling as that might seem to Greek sensibilities, there’s no other way to view this turn of events. I’m afraid that we are seeing it play out this way in Ukraine. Patriarch Bartholomew is not stupid but his hand is exceedingly weak. Regardless, he has always played the globalist game, admittedly to no effect. “Constantinople’s” prestige has never been reclaimed under his archpastorate (not that he didn’t give it the old college try).

Mark my words: the Orthodox faith won’t be strengthened because of this. If anything, when blood starts being shed in Ukraine or, worse, NATO is embroiled in an actual shooting war with Russia, it will not redound to the benefit of Orthodoxy. Honest seekers who have come to the realization that the Reformation is a dead end and that Rome is in the worst odor since, well, the Reformation, will now see that Orthodoxy has become the casus belli of a possible world war.

That this was the plan of the globalists all along won’t matter. All that they will see is the Ukrainian Army seizing MP churches and perhaps the Russian Army coming in to prevent them. President Trump won’t be able to stop the dogs of war of the Atlanticist Establishment which constantly barks for war against Russia.

Is it possible that there is another way out?

I believe that there is. There are two sides to the St Mark of Ephesus scenario. As mentioned above, St Mark was able to be the lone holdout because he wasn’t under the political control of the Paleologos dynasty. His diocese was Ephesus and his political overlord was the Turkish Sultan. In other words, he had the political cover necessary to refuse to affix his signature to the documents.

Is it possible that Erdogan, who is now feeling the sting of American sanctions and who is being drawn closer into Russia’s orbit, may forbid Bartholomew from undertaking this disastrous course of action? It would be in his interests to do so for a variety of reasons.

First of all, Turkey has long coveted the creation of a pipeline from Russia to transit liquefied natural gas (LNG). If Russia is embroiled in a war with the West, then that venture would be delayed and possibly permanently derailed. Because of the recent set of sanctions, the Turkish lira has lost half it’s value and the overall economy –which wasn’t doing all that great anyway–has fallen further into the doldrums. The planned pipeline would have been a boon even in a robust economy. In today’s situation, it is now an absolute necessity.

Second, the Turkish government enjoys the power it exerts over the Ecumenical Patriarchate and by extension, throughout all of Orthodoxy. A rupture in the Orthodox commonwealth with the Phanar being reduced even further because of schism, in which Moscow then takes over the leadership of the majority of the Orthodox Churches, would reduce the Phanar to an even more decrepit state. Turkey’s leverage on the international stage would be further reduced if this became the case.

Third, there is the fact that the present sanctions forced Turkish banks to seek other lines of credit. Germany (which owns a significant amount of Turkish debt) extended a helping hand. Russia’s central bank did so as well. Putin, however, went further and promised Erdogan up to six million Russian tourists this year to Turkey.

In other words, Patriarch Kirill will not go to Istanbul this week without any aces up his sleeve. I believe that it is possible he can force the Ecumenical Patriarch to back down from this reckless course of action. Unfortunately, I’m not that hopeful. The track record of Patriarch Bartholomew has not been a stellar one when it comes to Evangelism. Indeed, in North America alone it has been nothing short of disastrous (as evidenced by the slow-motion implosion of the GOA).

In addition, his open embrace of globalism has shown him to be yesterday’s man. Political currents worldwide are going in the exact opposite direction. And when it comes to the Faith itself, inquirers invariably look to Russia as the gold standard (for better or worse). The afterglow of Byzantium has long been extinguished. And it won’t be revived by stunts such as this.



  1. I am so, so, so very pleased that I was wrong in my expectations for Patriarch Kirill. I feared that he would “pull a Francis” in Moscow, given his history and friendships. O me of little faith. While not perfect (who among us fallen men is???), he is better than I could have hoped.

  2. Joseph Lipper says

    George, I believe the “best case” scenario would be for Patriarch Kiril to hand over the Ukranian Eparchy to an autocephaly that is approved by Patriarch Bartholomew.

    Unfortunately, if it happens that way then I believe Vladimir Putin will crucify Patriarch Kiril, and then the Moscow Patriarchate will enter a new dark age.

    I really don’t believe Vladimir Putin would recognize an Ukranian autocephaly. If the autocephaly happens, then Vladimir Putin will go to war in the Ukraine. Soviet-era Russian nationalism will then take the upper hand over the Russian Church. I hope and pray that Patriarch Kiril won’t give in to this.

    If Patriarch Kiril doesn’t give in to the Soviet-era Russian nationalism over the Ukraine, then maybe it will be something of a “St. Mark of Ephesus moment”.

    • Johann Sebastian says

      Or, just as the Metropolitanate of Kiev was relocated to Moscow, perhaps there is some way to relocate the Moscow Patriarchate to Kiev and call it the “Patriarchate of Kiev, Moscow, and all Rus’.”

      That would really flip the Ukies.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        My guess is that’s exactly what Vladimir Putin will attempt to do: He will force schism and use the Ukranian autocephaly as a pretext to invade Kiev.

        But what does Ecumenical Patriarchate have to gain by granting Ukranian autocephaly?

        Erdogan will likely want to distance himself from Russia when he sees Putin involved in a “Christian” war in the Ukraine. Erdogan won’t want to get involved with that, and neither will Russia’s allies of Iran and China. It’s a game of divide and conquer. Perhaps that was the plan all along.

        It now sounds like Germany is expected to jump in with an economic bailout for Turkey. Of course there will be strings attached. Turkey will probably be offered the Euro as a new currency, EU membership and Schengen status, but Turkey will be forced to accept the EU conditions.

        In the end it may be that Turkey will have no other option but submit to the European Union, and perhaps that is what Patriarch Bartholomew is ultimately hoping for.

        • George C Michalopulos says

          That’d be a bold move. Perhaps not actually march on Kiev but formally annex the
          Donbass and Lugansk areas; perhaps placing a few divisions there to protect the MP churches from being confiscated by the Ukrainian Army. Also sending in commandos to secure Kiev Caves and Pocharsky. They would be a tripwire.

  3. Greatly Saddened says

    In my most humble opinion, it seems with each passing day, the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul is and has been losing its promenance in the world and seems to be fading in to the sunset. While the Patriarchate of Moscow is growing by leaps and bounds and seems to becoming of even greater importance.

    One seems to hold on to the glories of the past and is declining, whereas the other looks towards the future and is growing. What a telling story this truly is!

  4. M. Stankovich says

    Whether Mr. Michalopulos intends to post my comment from early this morning is irrelevant, the fact remains: President Putin openly stated on December 14, 2017 that he is pro-choice for a woman’s right to choice a legal abortion, and that will not change. Unless the Patriarch excommunicates him, which obviously seems unlikely given the intervening time since his announcement, he is complicit with nearly a million legal abortions in Russia last year, subsidized by government funds. The citations for his discussion of his pro-choice opinion were provided on the TASS official news service website, as well as numerous US news services – discussion of pro-life groups can be found on the Fortune Magazine site.

    On a more encouraging note, I am very grateful to our President. – who while acknowledging his political differences – set them aside to properly allow the honouring the service of Sen. John McCain.

    • George Michalopulos says

      The Duma has passed significant restrictions on abortion. Far more than we have here (which essentially are zero).

      • Fr. Harry Linsinbigler says

        Irrelevant George. Dr. S. has pointed out that Vladimir Putin should be excommunicated for his pro-choice position. You have dodged the challenge to you because of your emotions and feelings in favor of President Putin. You said the Duma has passed restrictions. That is like saying four years ago “Obama was pro-choice but Congress passed pro-life measures”. I expect you to be intellectually honest about this.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          If we’re being intellectually honest, we need to acknowledge that Putin has lowered the rate of abortion in Russia by supporting measures that increase family size. In the early 2000s he called for federal financial support for children in the first 18 months of life as a way to encourage women to have a second or third child. Obama never did that.

          What Putin said on the TASS website was in regard to implementing a ban on abortion. He said: “The decision should be careful, reasonable and based on the general sentiment in society and the moral and ethical norms that have developed in society. Nothing should be drastically changed.” No Patriarch is going to excommunicate a leader for upholding the law until such time the population is ready to change it. We do not live in a perfect world. As far as I know, living in a perfect world is not a requirement to being in the Church.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Perfection? This is called rationalizing the ethics & morality of murder and you know it. That this announcement stunned & even outraged the pro life advocates in Russia, most notably the Prime Minister & his wife is testimony enough. For heaven’s sake Donald Trump even expressed his surprise at Putin’s “sudden shift.” Orthodox Churches in Russia have been periodically holding organized “Sunday’s of Mouring” for the aborted unborn, and hospitals just this month held a week long moritorium on any pre-abortion medical clearance (routinely issued for abortions post 12-weeks) and pre-abortion medical approvals of any kind, and promised more. Regardless of Putin’s reasoning, or his function in a less than perfect world, what sort of moral thinking allows a man who supports the right to legal abortion and facilitates it’s funding to participate in the “Fountain of Immortality?” Was it not one of the the primary issues that this forum railed against Hillary Clinton? Such hypocrisy is despicable. And while I’m not home to access the source at the moment, why was I not the least bit surprised to find a research institute very similar to Pew in in Russia found this past January that nearly 75% of Orthodox Chritians in Russia found homosexuality abhorrent, but less than 35% felt abortion for economic reasons for single women already with a child was morally objectionable?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Michael, you ask what sort of moral thinking allows a man who supports the right to legal abortion. . . . ?

              The answer? A man who has found himself the leader of a country with a 100-year-old law in place that permits women to terminate their pregnancies. The same sort of men we’ve had as our presidents since Roe vs. Wade. Putin is making efforts to curb abortion by changing women’s minds through various incentives AND getting men to take pride again in having larger families. He has a secret army at work, too. (See Below) These women are kind of scary but they seem to be doing the work for him.


              • M. Stankovich says

                Please allow me addenda to my initial comment:

                1) You can believe TASS, the official news service:

                “In a modern world, the decision (to have an abortion) is up to the woman herself.” Путин о запрете абортов: «В современном мире это решение все таки оставляется за самой женщиной».

                Or you can believe your ‘lyin eyes.

                2) Is it possible, with a bit of time, and a lot of google, to transform on the greatest providers of legal abortion in history into Joan of Arc? The answer? Certainement.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Again, Dr S, you ask for perfection. As a staunch pro-lifer who helped organize our first March for Life here in T-Town, I would be doing back flips if we had the same restrictions on abortion that Russia has. Instead, we are the only First-world nation (that I know of) in which a woman can have a “doctor” crush her infants skull while he is in the birth canal waiting to be born.

                  A little humility and less rah-rah American “exceptionalism” is in order.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Mr. Michalopulos,

                    Seriously, you are drunk on your ass from “sucking the breast of kings.” (Isa. 60:16) You are the innkeeper of the House of Hypocrisy, whose motto is, “I never met a confirmation bias I didn’t like.” You and your crew absolutely dogged Hillary Clinton as “evil” and “immoral” – and let me be clear, I am not saying her position on abortion was anything but immoral – yet you are now eating your own guts to somehow preserve Vladimir Putin. Evidence, you say:

                    Steven says:
                    April 21, 2016 at 5:17 pm

                    Any Christian worth the name should be embarrassed and ashamed for openly admitting to voting for the likes of Barack Obama; he who voted against a measure when in the Illinois senate that would have required doctors to provide medical assistance to babies who survived the hit attempts on their lives at the hands of abortionists. Ditto for campaigning for Alinskyite, abortion loving Hillary Clinton. Shame!

                    Peter Millman says:
                    October 3, 2016 at 6:04 pm

                    It is a sin for any Orthodox Christian to ever vote for this execrable, abortion loving woman. I will go so far as to say that if someone votes for the Hildabeast, that person is no way, shape or form a Christian.

                    How Long, O Lord? How Long? says:
                    October 19, 2016

                    [Regarding the GOA presenting an award to Gov. Andrew Cuomo of NY] Cuomo isn’t even that gifted of a politician. He’s just the last man standing in a state in which there is no effective Republican Party –that’s all. He is a man who screamed at the top of his lungs for gun control on one occasion and then on another said pro-life people have no place in his state. Can you believe the governor of a Red state saying that pro-abortionists have no place in his state? (My guess is that he’s a cardinal in Hillary’s Church of No Salvation.)

                    Nicole says:
                    October 7, 2016 at 1:37 pm

                    Yes I will vote for Trump with difficulty and strong reservations about his maturity, but he is not dead-set on inflicting death on infants in the womb, on the essence of femininity, on men involved with abortion, and on families for generations to come. I hope Orthodox males will not sit this one out given the physical, psychological and spiritual effects on more than half the population and on the souls of the males who accede to or conspire to promote abortion in their pregnant wives, daughters, or girlfriends. I am hoping there is a truly protective aspect to Orthodox manhood which becomes manifest. A patriarchal society is only godly if there is the respect given to all women and their concerns and their very being. ~ not just toward one’s own wife and children. Please consider being protective to all women and the vulnerable as best you can this election… even if you have to sacrifice to do so.

                    Ages says:
                    October 9, 2016 at 11:10 pm

                    Thank you, Nicole.

                    I agree, I have many reservations about Trump. But he does not present any threat to the Church—my first concern—which cannot be said of Clinton. He has a more peaceable foreign policy than Clinton, who is dead-set on war with Russia at this stage. He is committed to a constitutionalist Supreme Court, which will protect human life. He is opposed to abortion, which is America’s squeaky-clean form of genocide.

                    Dino says:
                    October 17, 2016 at 4:33 pm<

                    Bishop Tikhon, We all know their will be not only be more abortions, but more late term abortions, more morning after pills, and more of all this paid for by our Government, if the Clinton’s have their way.

                    George Michalopulos says:
                    October 19, 2016 at 7:54 am

                    Peter, my feeling is that the Elites really have no choice but to install HRC, as damaged as she is. And that should she win, things will fall apart in due season. (That after all is the inevitable consequence of Nihilism (which is what Abortion + Feminism + Sodomy equals.) I used to think that she was a puppet of the Oligarchy but after the fiasco of her siezure [sic] on Sept 11, I’m now of the opinion that she and Bill are very high up in the Oligarchy itself. If not the pinnacle, then very near the top of that pinnacle with enormous power and prestige within the Oligarchy. Were she merely a factotum for them, they would have excised her then and replaced her with Biden.

                    Dino says:
                    November 3, 2016 at 10:50 pm

                    Mike Myers, Sad is that (Tim) Kaine is now your only hope as prez. Sadder is that Planned Parenthood has murdered about 350,000 babies. Saddest is our Government gives Planned Parenthood close to $400,000 per year. Tax payer dollars also go to medicaid. If you don’t believe the money is manipulated to pay for abortions, or keep Planned Parenthood afloat in other services, so that they can give out free/cheap abortions, well then you probably also believe Hillary doesn’t manipulate the system to line her pockets by selling government favors…

                    Michael Bauman says:
                    November 4, 2016 at 3:12 pm

                    [Answering the question, why not vote for Hillary Clinton?] Because she [Hillary Clinton] has specifically said Christians must change our beliefs on homoerotic activity and partnership and abortion because our beliefs are not in line with the Orwellian name progressive policies.

                    Dino says
                    November 5, 2016 at 11:45 am

                    I hold the same opinion as my Orthodox Church holds. Rape, and the life of the mother is the only exception for a abortion. I do thank you for only implying I am a fanatic, I am not… God’s will is all I ask, whether this subject, or any other. Trust me there are times I wanted my will before our Lord’s, and every time I regretted my decision. I would never force my will on another, only state my opinion, then they can decide their fate. If one woman thought twice before aborting her baby, is that not worth my opinion being expressed? The Bible is our owners manuel for our body and soul, what we choose to apply or ignore will no doubt affect our lives, and soul. In regards to federal funding of woman’s services, I am sure the leftist would set up clinics for woman to continue killing their babies, and other services, if our tax dollars did not. It would be a great recruiting ground for their base… In regards to abortion, I really don’t understand your logic, especially if a woman has to make an extra effort to kill her baby. This might give her an opportunity to change her mind, instead of having the door wide open to commit such a sin. My main point is that I don’t want my tax dollars supporting the abortionist’s agenda, such as Planned Parenthood.

                    Michael Bauman says:
                    November 14, 2016 at 5:02 pm

                    The American people did not give Clinton the majority of our votes. The mostly urban, secular folks voted in massive numbers and think the rest if us are ignorant bigots. Well, I am ignorant of many things but not a bigot. I really do not understand how any committed Christian could vote for Hillary given stand on abortion and her desire to force us into re-education until we agree with the secular-nihilist philosophy she espouses…

                    M. Stankovich says:
                    November 14, 2016 at 8:08 pm

                    Michael Bauman,

                    For the record, I wrote in the name of Mr. Kasich on my ballot, remaining true to my conscience as I indicated from the beginning of this disgusting process… [And enjoy the full dialog…]

                    Rebuff and dismiss as you will, Mr. Michalopulos, and its your house, so end this whenever you’ve had enough, but what is immoral and unethical in the sight of God our Savior – He Who alone is the Creator and Fashioner of our existence, and Who literally breathed life into us – whether perpetrated or facilitated by Hillary Rodham Clinton or Vladimir Putin is completely irrelevant. If Mr. Putin had said, “This is the reality I must deal with for the time being and [with the Church], I strive for a better, more acceptable ethical & moral resolution,” what Orthodox Christian could not appreciate the struggle? But he did not. He bluntly and emphatically stated that that in our “modern world,” it only stands to reason that the choice remains with the woman alone. And so I ask you, how does this differ from the position of Hillary Clinton or the US Congresswoman representing the 53rd Congressional District, covering a large portion of the City of San Diego since 2001? And unavoidably, the second corralary is that he is a communicant of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Patriarch is silent.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Dr S, what has Putin ever done to you? Seriously.

                      OK, snark off. In my next vlog, I’m going to close out the thread on my recent pilgrimage to Russia. I took the time to investigate the economic situation upon my return and will unfortunately bore those who will take the time to watch with a more realistic picture of Russia.

                      Til then, please calm down. The wascally Wussians aren’t going to launch an invasion of America and force the same abortion laws they have there on our women here. Nor are they going to get rid of all the pews and organs in our churches. (Dammit!)

                      Seriously now, from a proglib standpoint (and note: I’m neither a progressive nor a liberal), Russia has more going for it regarding social services than we have here in the States. I imagine that you, being considerably to my left regarding these matters would be jumping for joy upon news like that. Unlike us, their military spending is based on reality –it’s 12% of ours. Look, I’m a flag-waving right-winger, and I believe that we should cut our defense spending by at least half.

                      Anyway, more to follow.

                    • For the record, Michael Stankovich,

                      I have always been a critic of Putin. I never cared for, nor respected his partnership with MP, and Russian Orthodoxy. I perceived it as a phony and convenient relationship to harness popularity, and power. You know the saying, “with God on your side, who could be against us”, type of thing. His dance partner, the MP, at the very least is guilty by association, and we all know who leads that dance.

                      For the record again, the MP was not wearing a Rolex. He was wearing a Breguet watch which generally runs twice as much as a Rolex. The super rich consider Rolex gaudy, and not up to par. Just take my word on that one.

                      I have gone the rounds with George and Misha about the topic. So much so with George, I even apologized a couple times, because I felt I was disrespecting him. No need with Misha, words bounce off him.

                      Anyway I noticed nearly half of the comments above, were mine. Do you have a problem with my position on abortion, and voting for the candidate that would support less abortions, perhaps thousands less, in one or two terms in office? My vote counted for at least that.

                      I suppose yours counted for nothing more than feeding your ego. We know, God knows our hearts, so you had nothing to prove to Him, by voting for anyone other than Trump or Clinton. Regardless, and sincerely, I believe your soul more pure than mine will ever be, to the One it matters the most.

                      “With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.”(James 3:9)

                    • Deep Steak says

                      russia military spending is 12% of the usa but russia economy is only 7% of the usa

                      so i guess if you think the usa should cut defense by at least half russia should cut theirs by like two thirds or so

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Dr S, if I am “drunk” then this is what I wish to drink:


                      And more, I want every other Orthodox in America who wishes to partake of this to imbibe heartily as well.

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      Calm yourself. I was simply citing examples, not accusing you. I did say. “I am not saying her position on abortion was anything but immoral ,” did I not? In this case, verbosity distinguished you. (It is a joke)

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  Michael, I was quoting “TASS, the official news site” (AKA TASS, Russian News Agency).

                  Do you disagree with Putin that in the modern world the decision to abort is made by the woman herself? Name one developed country where the decision to abort is not up to the woman.

                  I think your eyes are “lyin” to you if you think Putin stating the obvious qualifies as some kind of indictment!

          • George Michalopulos says

            Excellent analysis, Gail.

            • M. Stankovich says

              12.14.17 12:13 GMT – Transcript

              “In a modern world, the decision (to have an abortion) is up to the woman herself.” Путин о запрете абортов: «В современном мире это решение все таки оставляется за самой женщиной». Yes, excellent analysis, indeed.

              And Mr. Langis, did I read you correctly? NOMINAL support for abortion! My United States Congresswoman of 12-years is the wife of a man who was a close colleague of mine; a compassionate, and caring physician whom I worked with in state prison. When she determined her constituents elected her to defend abortion rights for women, we had long, often brutal arguments (they are religious Jews), but they were settled. I wept in separating myself from them. Your accommodation and rationalization is exactly what Fr. Alexander Schmemann described as the decay of the Faith into “religion.”

              Putin was equally disingenuous in promising more “services to the family,” when the fact is that Russia has a record of providing social services to families comparable to the third world – with the complete neglect of supplemental outreach and assistance from the Russian Orthodox Church (though they are building more storehouses churches) – is continuously cited by the World Health Organization as one of the main reasons for the rate of abortions as a “primary form of contraception.” We had this ridiculous discussion in 2016, yet to this day, Russia cannot accommodate the contraceptive needs (i.e. making them available) of even 45% of single women. Undoubtedly, this will stir the self-righteous to cry out for “morality,” but please consider the thoughts of someone who has studied epidemiology extensively: women who are utilizing surgical abortion as their primary form of contraception (more realistically, it prolly is secondary to something fabulously idiotic like “withdrawal,’ made all the worse by a little vodka…), they have already dismissed the notion of “morality.” Probability would suggest that after an effective contraceptive would be a better time to talk… And the Russians have publish no official reports regarding abortion rates nor birth rates since 2015. Don’t offer praise for “vaporware.” Abortion rates are extrapolated.

              My point, after all, was simply to say that the level and extent of hypocrisy here is as thick as the proverbial brick, and to offer one big reminder:

              Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know you the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God: he that knows God hears us; he that is not of God hears not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

              • George C Michalopulos says

                And yet, at the end of the day, Russia is putting significant restrictions on abortion so much so that the culture is changing and here’s the important thing: the rate of abortion is actually falling.

                On the other hand, here in the States we have pro-life politicians who promise the moon and won’t even deliver the Oklahoma panhandle when they get in power. I was told several years ago that I and others like me in the pro-life movement were being played for fools, that Pro-Life, Inc is just a ruse to keep the rubes in the hinterlands voting for the GOP.

                I’m not that cynical but sometimes I have to wonder. Of the last four GOP (Reagan included) presidents, only Trump sent his vice-president to address the annual March for Life and he was the only one who spoke to them via phone from the Rose Garden. It’s ironic but that it should be the one president who has the morals of an alley-cat to actually do and say more for the pro-life movement –but that’s a story for another day and I digress.

                Getting back to Putin and Russia as opposed to the US, we have a conundrum and as such I look to Christ for wisdom: One of my favorite parables is the one in which the father goes to his two sons asks them to do something. One promises to do but doesn’t while the other one refuses but upon reconsideration goes ahead and does it. Jesus asked: “which one did the father’s will?”

          • George,

            Funny, they hate Putin’s autocratic tendencies but nonetheless yearn for him to act as an autocrat regarding the abortion question. How blindly hypocritical!

            But on to the broader point regarding St. Mark of Ephesus:

            Moscow enjoys being the Third Rome. It can maintain this role, de facto, without considering the Phanar for much of anything. All that Pat. Bartholomew can do is not to truly lead but to devise ever new methods of becoming a fly in the ointment. This is all from a Russian perspective, of course.

            I do not think Putin would go to war over a declaration of Ukrainian autocephaly unless it were accompanied by Ukrainian military moves against UOC(MP) members or property.

            However, I’m sure it would signal a schism between Moscow and Istanbul. It would have to for Moscow to maintain its canonical territory and the respect that goes along with defending it. It’s an existential issue for the Church of Russia.

            My guess is that Bartholomew is quite aware of this and that this is why he dangles this card so arrogantly.

            And that is why it is doubly important for Moscow to face the situation with dispassion. It is merely an administrative step to grant Ukrainian autocephaly as well as it is to strike a name from the diptychs. No need for shooting unless the Ukies insist on it. Then the Red Army should leave a deep and lasting impression. And the Phanar can try to explain why the Orthodox world considered the Ukraine as Russian Orthodox territory for over three hundred years.

            • M. Stankovich says


              I have been trying to find out how one cleans blood from a Rolex watch. You know, when it has inadvertently wept from the hands… Unfortunately, all I can find are references to the everyday “grit & grime,” or as one source put it, “the ordinary stuff one accumulates on the beach.” Perhaps you could pad your google-portfolio with a short essay… Something like, “Removing unsightly blood from a Rolex watch: Photoshop in the 3rd Rome Method.”

        • Gus Langis says

          If grounds for excommunication of Putin is based on nominal support for abortion then every single European Orthodox politician should be excommunicated, the Greek Parliament building in Syntagma should be given an excorcism and about 70 percent of all the female laity in Cyprus, Greece and Romania will have to be excommunicated as well. While we are at it we should remove from the calendar most emperor saints as they’ve all sinned as some put to death their wives and sons to divorcing and remarrying to Constantine being baptised by semi arians etc. Putin is actually the ONLY western leader trying to elevate birth rates unlike every other Christian nation on planet earth.

          • George Michalopulos says

            True that. I saw so many young families pretty much everywhere on my recent trip.

        • George C Michalopulos says

          Fr. respectfully, it was a Greek Orthodox Senator (Olympia Snow) who not only voted for keeping partial-birth abortion legal but was the deciding vote in having it pass the filibuster. Then there was Sen Paul Sarbanes of MD, who has always voted against any and all restrictions on abortion. He is an Archon if memory serves.

          Our hands are dirtier in this regard. After all, we live in a “free” country where our we can vote our consciences. Russia is undergoing a de-sovietification, which was brutal in its atheism/materialism.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Seriously, if President Putin should be excommunicated because he’s not 100% pro-life then Sens Sarbanes and Snowe should be tarred and feathered.

      • Will Harrington says

        There abortion rate is also declining. Could it be that, rather than complicity, we have a politician who realizes his limitations but instead has been complicit in changing the culture rather than trying, and failing, to dictate change? No, that can’t be. Putin is nothing but a brutal dictator.

    • Will Peretsky says

      Indeed, Putin quietly encourages abortion because the Magidsky bill caused his oprhanages to overflow. Russian women today are quite liberated and they are quick to dump offspring they consider unattractive to the orphanage.

  5. And meanwhile Bartholomew is being commemorated less and less on the Holy Mountain.

    • Marcos Faziris says

      Athos has been a soviet spy base since 1839 which is why the junta sought to close it

      • Monk James Silver says

        There was soviet spying in 1839?

        • Ha. U noticed too. But facts, well.!
          Sure the Tsarist regime sought to dominate with numbers down to their early 1900s scandal with the ‘name glorifiers ‘ ( Imenoslavy) who needed troops to remove them.
          But in Soviet times the Russian monastery was dying on it’s feet if not comotosed by mid century and violently anti communist so doubt their influence any.