Are Women Who Abort their Babies “Mothers”?

George:  According to Metropolitan Nathanael Simeonides of the GOA diocese of Chicago, they are.

Now, I know some of you are saying:  “George, you’re being hyperbolic!  Surely no Christian hierarch would say such a foolish thing!”  You could be forgiven for saying so.  After all, calling a woman who kills her unborn infant a “mother” is analogous to saying that Jack the Ripper liked to patronize prostitutes.  Strictly speaking, that’s correct.  (I suppose a case could be made for calling a woman who already has children who undergo the procedure a mother.  But that’s different from a woman who has never experienced a live birth.)

Anyway, rather than take my word for it, please take the time to listen to the homily of His Eminence for yourself in order to receive this nugget of spiritual wisdom (go to 2h 17m). . .

Gail:  A “woman” conceives a child but she doesn’t become a “mother” until she accepts the child.  Therein, lies the difference. 

Some women become “mothers” even before they are pregnant, by preparing their bodies to carry the pregnancy.  They take supplements, eat the right foods, stop drinking and smoking, get enough sleep, etc.

Some look at a stick and say, “Oh, crap.”  

I’m not judging.  Everyone is broken and God forgives.  But a mother must die to herself.  Not for a few weeks or months, but forever.  It doesn’t take “courage.”  It takes love.  

Frankly, it was insensitive of this bishop to call women who aborted their babies, “moms” on Mother’s Day.  Many, many women are deeply wounded by these decisions that are often forced upon them by a variety of factors including the men who got them pregnant.  To be reminded of the child they didn’t have on “Mother’s Day” seems particularly cruel, IMO. 

I wonder if this bishop brings attention to the men who force abortions on women on “Father’s Day?”  Does he say, “Happy Father’s Day” to all the men who abandoned their responsibilities and call them “dads even if it was just for a short period of time”?  

Seems this bishop, who admits to getting his theology from a deacon, doesn’t know much about the teachings of the Church.  We don’t honor sins in the Church.  There is nothing “happy” about abortion.  It’s a tragedy.

The following passage from Kings should have rung a bell.  There are some things that are just not the same and it’s heresy to connect them.    

1 Kings 3:16-28

19 “During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. 20 So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne.”

22 The other woman said, “No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.”

But the first one insisted, “No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.” And so they argued before the king.

23 The king said, “This one says, ‘My son is alive and your son is dead,’ while that one says, ‘No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.’”

24 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”

26 The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!”

But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!”

27 Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.”

28 When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.



George:  But wait!  There’s more!  At the end of the Divine Liturgy, Nathanael tonsures several girls as readers.  Go to 3hr 35m.  At 3hr 45m he asks the congregation to consider “other ways” in which girls can “assist in worship.”  You know where this is going. 



  1. There seems to be many American Orthodox hierarchs who have a need to be “accepted” by secular society. Adopt secular positions on abortion. Unilaterally challenge the ecclesial anthropology and just ordain women in the hopes that it makes fewer men and women “feel bad” about “antiquated church practices.”

    The secular world hates us. Read that recent NPR piece? That sort of NPR story has cultural weight to those who run our culture. Most of them do indeed believe that being Orthodox equals being misogynistic, racist, etc. You name it. The data are fabricated to support the narrative they want, not the other way around.

    The American Orthodox may have flown under the radar as ethnically strange and isolated in the past, but with this Russia war, we’re directly in their crosshairs now. During the 20th century we relied on our traditional protestant friends a lot for cultural support in North America. But traditional protestant friends don’t even exist now.

    Many American Orthodox bishops seem to be unable to tolerate being despised by the culture in which we live. These days, we desperately need leadership who is able to say “yes, we’re different, yes our country and culture don’t like us, but yes that’s ok. We have Christ and the Saints and His Church. No matter what happens, we will be ok.”

    Praying that there are contemporary American Orthodox bishops who can publicly express this sentiment, boldly and confidently to the American flock. Are such bishops out there?

    • “Many American Orthodox bishops seem to be unable
      to tolerate being despised by the culture in which we live.”

      They wouldn’t have been much use in the Early Church, then…

  2. During the sermon by Bishop Nathaniel of Chicago on the Sunday of the Myrrh Bearing Women and Mother’s Day (5/8/22) he states, “We talk about women who have an abortion as a sinner and we forget that they are mothers. They are mothers.” ( 2h25m) I do not disagree with this statement. They are mothers. They just happen to be mothers who have killed their own child in the womb. I also agree with him that we should not pity them but to show mercy. And yes, it is a grievous sin. It is both premeditated first degree murder and suicide. For whatever reason a woman has entered into this diabolical contract with Satan, there is the path of healing and reconciliation through repentance. For those who have pressured the woman, been an instrument or accomplice in the murder of the most innocent, there too is a path through a deep and profound repentance. For those who have promoted abortion through political means, financially supported or through indifference, the path remains the same. The Church offers the balm that heals such a deep wound. For the clergy, and in particular, Hierarchs who defend the woman’s right to choose this path of self-hatred and murder, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea”.

    On March 25, this statement was put out in response to Archbishop Elpidophoros’ comments at the annual March For Life in Washinton D.C. It is worth rereading.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr David, thank you for your insights.

    • Thank you for saying this. I had similar thoughts about how he is correct especially if we truly consider life to begin at conception. They are mothers. Thank you for the link.

  3. No, they’re murderers. Simple as that.

    Wolf in shepherd’s vestments.

  4. Whatever you call them, it is only through repentance that they can escape damnation. That should be the focus.

  5. Jesse Dominick says

    As for tonsuring girls, I know that Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Church in the US, not known for being a liberal, has done the same.

    • I believe the Antiochians, at least in the Middle East, have some the same thing.

      However, doesn’t make it right. Knowing Met. Nathaniel I’d say he has ulterior motives.

  6. Also: orthros (matins) in 1 hour 15 minutes?

  7. Viganò speaks against abortion…

    Abp. Viganò: Roe v. Wade leak was Deep State ‘propaganda
    operation’ to ‘radicalize’ abortion debate, influence justices

    The embarrassing silence of the Hierarchy’ on ‘Catholic’ politicians like Joe Biden who support abortion, said Archbishop Viganò, ‘reveals itself as a confirmation of the sense of inferiority of those who ought to be wisely leading the people entrusted to their care, but who instead are following them off the edge of a cliff along with the politicians whom the bishops supported in the last electoral campaign.

    ‘ In recent days, the media has leaked the news that, according to a draft obtained from the Supreme Court of the United States, the justices of the Court are about to declare that the Roe v. Wade decision of January 22, 1973, is unconstitutional and must be overruled.

    First of all, a widespread misunderstanding needs to be clarified: this potential decision of the Supreme Court does not address the moral legitimacy of abortion, but rather whether the 1973 decision conforms to the Constitution of the United States with respect to the sovereignty of the individual states. It is not therefore addressing an ethical or moral question with regard to the legitimacy of abortion, but rather a question of jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under the Constitution.

    The vulnus [wound] that the Roe v. Wade decision inflicted on the sovereignty of the states of the Union is a constitutional matter, and the justices will have to make a ruling on it as such.

    It is significant that this aspect of the decision has been deliberately not spoken about by the media, emphasizing instead the specific content of the decision and making it an ideological banner. It is also clear that this propaganda operation, maliciously conducted by the Deep State, has the purpose of radicalizing the debate that the news will stir up in public opinion, with the intention of influencing the motivations of the decision, which has yet to be finalized by the justices. It does not escape anyone’s notice that the premature leak of the draft of the decision has provoked violent protest demonstrations organized by pro-abortion groups and Antifa, while at the same time scandalous provocations and sacrilegious attacks on Catholic churches during services are multiplying. The courageous witness of the Catholic laity ought to be encouraged and supported by the Shepherds of the Church, precisely in the name of that freedom of worship and preaching that is an inalienable right of the Church of Christ, as well as an inalienable constitutional right of all Americans under the First Amendment.

    Thus, while Americans have yet to fully comprehend the scandals that are emerging about the criminal management of the pseudo-pandemic and the imposition of an experimental treatment that irreversibly modifies the human genome with still unknown long-term damage and serious side effects that have been culpably concealed by pharmaceutical multinationals and control agencies; while Special Counsel John Durham is preparing to conclude the investigation into Russiagate which will soon see Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Biden – whose accomplices include members of the highest levels of the Italian government at the time – investigated for their role in the suppression of Trump’s presidential campaign (and hopefully condemned for high treason and attacking the institutions of government); while Joe Biden desperately seeks to cover up the cases of corruption involving his son Hunter in Ukraine, which disturbingly include his involvement in the biolaboratories located there in which research on the “gain of function” was carried out on the SARS-CoV-2 virus, altering its pathogenesis and its transmissibility; while the White House desperately seeks to blame the problems in the U.S. economy of inflation and the rising price of raw materials on the Russian-Ukrainian crisis; while NATO acts as an arms salesman in the service of the American lobby and tries to impede the peace negotiations between Putin and Zelensky at all costs – behold, the operation is ready with which to distract public opinion and radicalize the clash between pro-life and “pro-choice,” after having successfully experimented with the same method of mass manipulation during the pandemic farce and even earlier with the George Floyd case and the exasperation provoked by the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

    If the Supreme Court is to be reproached for anything, it is for having wanted to impose legalized abortion on the states of the Union in 1973, even where it was rightly prohibited: this abuse of power was tolerated because it was cloaked in the ideological prejudice of the Democratic Party that gave rise to a massacre of the innocents that cries out to Heaven for justice. The Roe v. Wade decision was an operation of deliberate partiality that violated not only the natural law and the law of God but also the very principles enshrined in the United States Constitution. If the justices are to heal this vulnus, they will limit themselves to applying the law that they have sworn to defend, something which their predecessors fifty years ago either did not know how to do or did not wish to.

    And if it is true that on May 11 the United States Senate demonstrated that it is not aligned with the proponents of abortion (by its vote to block the “Women’s Health Protection Act”), one cannot fail to notice the scandal given by self-styled “Catholic” politicians, first of all Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, who trample down without scruples the morality that instead they ought to commit themselves to defending in the social and legislative sphere.

    The Holy See and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ought to reaffirm, along with a firm condemnation of abortion, that American Catholics cannot and must not vote for elected representatives whose positions are not consistent with the Magisterium of the Church, and who as such are excommunicated. The embarrassing silence of the Hierarchy reveals itself as a confirmation of the sense of inferiority of those who ought to be wisely leading the people entrusted to their care, who instead are following them off the edge of a cliff along with the politicians whom the bishops supported in the last electoral campaign. Hearing Joe Biden advocate for abortion as a “fundamental right” – disguised under the hypocritical euphemism of “women’s health protection” – proves the loss of any sense of the meaning of Catholic social commitment, for which not only the Hierarchy is responsible but also the entire system of Catholic education that looks to it for guidance. What sort of teaching is being given in Catholic high schools and universities if their graduates can declare that they support abortion without understanding its moral gravity? How can it be said that the killing of an innocent creature can be decided by the very mother who instead ought to protect the life of her child more than her own? Is this the “civilization” that Americans want to support and propagate? Are these the values that they want to pass on to future generations?

    I am certain that Americans will not allow themselves either to be sidetracked by these operations of mass distraction or to be provoked by the pro-abortion protests that have been deliberately incited in order to foment clashes and violent reactions. Let us not forget that those who propagandize the killing of children are equally supportive of euthanasia, LGBTQ ideology, gender theory, the Great Reset, the pandemic farce, and the use of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis to weaken the nations of Europe and cover up the crimes of the Deep State.

    Let us pray therefore that She whom we venerate as Sede Sapientiæ, the Seat of Wisdom, may illumine the minds of the justices of the Supreme Court and inspire them with a sense of justice so that they may recognize the sacredness and inviolability of the life of the unborn child. And may the Woman foretold in Genesis crush the head of the Serpent who is the first inspirer of the horrendous crime of abortion. .

  8. Off topic and non-related to this post – Looks like the Holy Synod of the Serbian Church has decided to canonically restore communion with the Macedonians, thanks be to God:

    Press release of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church
    (May 16, 2022)

    Having received the act of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the “Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric” by which it accepts the generally recognized canonical status granted to it in 1959 by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, it hopes that the Serbian Orthodox Church will resolve and resolve canonical status, which should be followed by pan-Orthodox consent and acceptance of that status, the Holy Synod of Bishops decided:

    – with gratitude to the Lord and with joy, the Parliament welcomes the acceptance of the generally recognized canonical status, which is the status of the widest possible autonomy, ie full internal independence, granted in 1959;

    – since this removed the reasons for the interruption of liturgical and canonical communion, caused by the unilateral proclamation of autocephaly in 1967, a full liturgical and canonical communion is established;

    – by establishing unity on canonical grounds and under the conditions of validity of the canonical order in the entire territory of the Serbian Orthodox Church, dialogue on the future and eventual final status of dioceses in Northern Macedonia is not only possible but purposeful, legitimate and realistic;

    – in the dialogue on their future and possibly final canonical status, the Serbian Orthodox Church will be guided only and exclusively by ecclesiological-canonical and church-pastoral principles, criteria and norms, not caring about “realpolitical”, “geopolitical”, “church-political” and others given or for unilateral initiatives and not subject to anyone’s influence or pressure;

    – and, finally, the Parliament does not intend to condition the new sister Church with restrictive clauses regarding the scope of its jurisdiction in the home country and in the diaspora after resolving the status, with its recommendation to resolve the issue of its official name in direct fraternal dialogue with Hellenic and other local Orthodox Churches.

    Original article in Serbian:

    • Gail Sheppard says

      So where does this leave the EP? Are the Macedonians going to commune with both the EP and Serbia, because that could be a problem.

      • I’m honestly not sure but it seems as though both Serbia and Macedonia didn’t “take the bait” from the EP. Serbia is not going to require them to be only within the borders of Macedonia and will be negotiating the actual name through pan-Orthodox consensus. They seem to have wholly ignored Bartholomew in the talks, or at least they weren’t published. Serbia has been a vocal supporter of the UOC and I’m sure they know this was a potential power-play from the EP and they are bringing the Macedonians back in under the Serbian stipulations and not the EP. To me this just signals further irrelevance of the EP.

        And while the Synod of Constantinople stipulated that the Macedonian Church must be known as the Ohrid Archbishopric, the Serbian Council of Bishops state that the official name will be resolved in “direct fraternal dialogue with the Greek and other Local Churches.”

        Additionally, while the Synod of Constantinople stipulates that the Macedonian Church only has jurisdiction within the state of North Macedonia, the Serbian hierarchs state that they have no intention of limiting its jurisdiction in the diaspora. The Macedonian Church already has established dioceses in North America, Europe, and Australia.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          You can count on the Serbian Patriarchate to do things the right way.

          • George Michalopulos says

            It’s been my observation that the Serbs which have always righted the ship when it comes to preserving Communion with continuing jurisdictions (e.g. ROCOR).

      • I’ll add, if the entire Orthodox World accepts the canonicity & reunification of the Serbians and Macedonians (which I have no reason why they wouldn’t), then this will be a major blow to Bartholomew as well. It will send a clear signal that the OCU and Bartholomew’s recognition of them are both a charade.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Maybe it will “wake him up” before he passes. I hope so.

          • I really sincerely hope and pray that he does.

            Maybe this was attempt to do things the right way after he saw how the collective Church reacted to the OCU. At least that’s what I hope.

      • Don’t all Orthodox jurisdictions other than Moscow commune with both the EP and Serbia? I want to understand how 50 years of schismatic sacraments, especially priestly ordinations and episcopal consecrations, are now deemed valid. I’d also love to know how Abp. Jovan of Ohrid is feeling right about now…

        • The Macedonian issue is a lot less complex than the Ukrainian debacle. There’s no question regarding the legitimacy of their episcopal succession, etc. There’s been numerous cases in church history of schisms being resolved in like manner.

          I’m glad the Serbs responded as they did, despite the EP’s provocative actions, which could have upturned the entire agreement.

          • Please educate me on this. I’m a convert to Orthodoxy from Catholicism, but Catholic sacramental theology, especially regarding priestly ordination and episcopal consecration, is much more clear to me: a priest is a priest forever; a bishop is a bishop forever regardless if they are excommunicated or even defrocked. Ex-cardinal McCarrick can come to my house and if he goes through the rite of ordination with the intention of ordaining me, I’m a priest. The Catholic church would say the ordination is “illicit” but “valid.” The same if he consecrated me a bishop. The same with the Eucharist. If the defrocked McCarrick were to celebrate the Mass with bread and wine and read all the proper prayers with the intention of consecrating them, Catholic sacramental theology says that’s the Body and Blood of Christ. It’s all about proper form and matter. I understood Orthodox sacramental theology to say sacraments are only valid when done in the Church. So even someone who has a valid ordination/consecration can only perform valid sacraments while a member of the Church. So is that not the case? Are schismatic sacraments valid?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              RE: “Are schismatic sacraments valid?’


              Best explanation from an unknown author I’ve ever read:

              “Forced laicization or removal from sacred orders is a form of ecclesiastical punishment, imposed by the ruling bishop of this cleric for certain transgressions. According to the canonical procedure, if the cleric is found guilty of an infringement of a sacred vow, unrepentant heresy, breaking of canons, or ecclesiastical discipline, he can be suspended from exercising all clerical functions. If disregarding his suspension, he continues to liturgize or does not repent of his actions, he may be permanently deposed from the sacred orders (in common parlance – “laicized”). Strictly speaking, the deposition can be appealed at the ecclesiastical court, but, in modern practice, the bishop’s decision is usually final.

              Laicization as an ecclesiastical punishment may carry with it the ex-communication of the former cleric from the church for a certain period, or indefinitely. The anathema, the permanent act of ex-communication, against a member of the church or a former cleric is usually imposed by the decision of the synod of bishops or the ecclesiastical council. In such cases, this not only defrocks the former cleric but also banishes him from entering an Orthodox church, receiving the Eucharist and other sacraments, or being blessed by a priest.”

              In terms of baptism, it doesn’t have to be done in the Church. In fact, anyone can baptize another individual in an emergency.

              In terms of marriage, it is to be done in the Church. Civil marriages (in court) or a marriage performed in another church (Example: Baptist) are recognized as long as they are Christian unless they were done after one or both of the spouses were Orthodox.

              The spouse who is not Orthodox would need to be chrismated to commune. The spouse who was Orthodox would need to satisfy a penance to come back into the Church, as the Orthodox are expected to always marry in the Orthodox Church.

              If someone in the clergy has been deposed, like those in the OCU, they’re schismatic and nothing they do is valid until they repent to the appropriate bishop and complete whatever penance is required.

              Another bishop, even the EP, can’t swoop in and say, “OK, I’ve normalized your status. You’re good to go!”

              • Well, the bishops and priests of the Macedonian Orthodox Church were not laicized to my knowledge. But their ordinations/consecrations were all done while the group was universally viewed as being schismatics. So prior to yesterday, we’re they actually priests/bishops? Was their Eucharist actually the Body and Blood of Christ? If they don’t have to be reordained/consecrated, which appears to be the case, why not?

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  In 1959, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church granted autonomy to the Macedonian Orthodox Church in the then-Socialist Republic of Macedonia as the restoration of the historic Archbishopric of Ohrid, and it remained in canonical unity with the Serbian Church under their patriarch.

                  In 1967, on the bicentennial anniversary of the abolition of the Archbishopric of Ohrid, the Macedonian Holy Synod unilaterally announced its autocephaly from the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Serbian synod denounced the decision and condemned the clergy as schismatic. Thenceforth, the Macedonian Church had remained unrecognized by all canonical Orthodox churches for a period of five decades.

                  In May 2018, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople agreed to examine the church’s canonical status.

                  On May 16, 2022, the Serbian Patriarchate announced the ending of the schism between the Patriarchate and the Archbishopric, restoring the church to full communion and the same autonomy granted in 1959.

                  This was all in Wikipedia.

                  Are they going to go back and recognize previous ordinations and sacraments? I don’t know. There should be a letter to that effect soon. My guess is, they will.

                  • I imagine you’re right. But then it seems to me that in Orthodoxy it’s not the sacrament of priestly ordination or episcopal consecration itself which actually bestows the grace of priesthood and episcopacy and the powers that go with it – to ordain, forgive sins, consecrate the Eucharist – but rather the proclamation of a recognized canonical body, in this case the Serbian Orthodox Church, that someone is a priest or bishop that confers those powers and that doesn’t seem to me all that different from what Constantinople is doing, but we’re friends with the Serbs so it’s all good. I love being Orthodox and I would never go back to Catholicism, but I must say I find Catholic sacramental theology much more coherent…

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      It was incumbent upon the Macedonians to resolve their issues with the Serbs, as a result of their fallout. It looks like they did that. God is good.

                      The bishops are accountable to one another. If that weren’t the case, each patriarchate could do whatever it wanted. If the problem is with a particular patriarchate, that problem must be worked out between the two of them.

                      The only exception is if both parties ask the EP for help in reconciling the situation or if the EP calls a council to do the same.

                      In this case, the EP was NOT asked by the Serbs to intervene, so his hands were technically tied (although he didn’t see it that way). The EP won’t ask for a council on this subject, lest he be sanctioned for the OCU.

                      Fortunately, the Serbs resolved it.

                      This has nothing to do with being “friends” with anyone. This is the way a synodal Church works.

                    • I have to reply to my own comment, because it won’t let me reply to yours. Regarding being “friends,” I’m in ROCOR, I wouldn’t go to another jurisdiction with the possible exception of Serbia, that’s just me personally. I can’t stand Bartholomew and what he’s doing throughout the Orthodox world and in particular in Ukraine. But just as he seems to me to making priests and bishops by fiat, it seems to me Serbia is now doing the same. You have over 50 years of schismatic ordinations that apparently are going to be posthumously back filled with grace and while Moscow criticizes Bartholomew rightly for what he is doing, I doubt they’ll bat an eye over what Serbia is doing because of their friendship, but whatever…

                    • I’m not talking about autocephaly or in the case of Macedonia, autonomy within the Serbian Church. I’m asking as an interested former Catholic and former Catholic seminarian trying to better understand Orthodox sacramental theology. Whatever we think about Bartholomew and Constantinople, every Orthodox jurisdiction outside of Moscow recognizes it as a valid canonical Church. And it, with a stroke of a pen says Epiphanius and all those Ukrainian bishops that we didn’t recognize before, well now they’re valid bishops and hierarchs like Theodoros in Alexandria, and Chrysostomos in Cyprus, Ieronomos in Athens, hierarchs who lead canonical Churches that every jurisdiction except Moscow is in communion with have signed on to the idea and concelebrated with them as being fellow bishops. They weren’t reconsecrated. Bartholomew signed the Tomos and that was it and we say: “Bad Bartholomew! We don’t recognize them as being bishops so there!” Fair enough. But here is Serbia saying well that Macedonian Church that for over 50 years no one recognized as canonical, who all this time has been performing graceless ordinations and consecrations that no one says are valid – well guess what, we’ve patched things up and they’re all priests and bishops now with grace filled orders and sacraments. Yeah I do see a double standard there. Yeah, I do see it as ordination by fiat. And it seems incoherent and illogical to me and while fortunately it doesn’t effect me, I want to better understand it rather than just be an unthinking fideist that says well whatever the Church says that’s fine with me. I’m not trying to be combative, I know it can be hard to detect tone in what someone writes at times. I want a logical, consistent theological justification for accepting what Serbia is doing while rejecting what Constantinople is doing again strictly from the perspective of Orthodox sacramental theology…

                    • Given the circumstances, my guess is that the SOC only considers the schism to be over administrative matters and not over anything doctrinal, much like the schism between Antioch and Jerusalem. In that case, the MOC never would have lost sacramental grace.

                      With the OCU, it is a bit different. First, only the MP could receive back those schismatics who strayed. Second, some of their clerics were never ordained by anyone (there was apparently a tendency to “self ordain” in some of these groups). Beyond that, some of the clergy in question had actually been deposed, not simply excommunicated.

            • PJ,

              In Western confessions, the RCC included, the focus is on the “validity of sacraments”. In the Orthodox Church, the focus is on whether the mysteries have grace. The grace of the mysteries only operates within the Church. The question is, “When does schism render one outside the Church and therefore without grace?” For example, the ROC has excommunicated Constantinople, Alexandria, et al. However, though the ROC is the largest of the Orthodox churches, no local council, let alone an ecumenical council, has excommunicated these churches. Therefore, the excommunication is seen as administrative and grace remains in the mysteries of these churches.

              The excommunication of Rome, on the other hand, has been reaffirmed by councils and therefore Roman mysteries lack grace. A more difficult question would be the Greek Old Calendarist churches, IMHO. Their only “sin” is to reject modernism and they operate just as all Orthodox churches did before the adoption of the “new calendar”. They are certainly not in communion with the Greek new calendar churches but they have, from time to time, been in communion with other Orthodox churches. I would not venture to say their mysteries are without grace nor that they are outside the Church, though most modernists would.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Canon 45: “Let a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, who has only prayed with heretics, be excommunicated: but if he has permitted them to perform any clerical office, let him be deposed”; and Canon 2 of the Council of Antioch: “And, if any one of the bishops, presbyters, or deacons, or anyone in the Canon shall be found communicating with excommunicated persons, let him also be excommunicated, as one who brings confusion on the order of the Church.”

                Both canons are among those ratified by the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils.

                • Speaking of Antioch, since they have broken communion with Jerusalem, yet the rest of the Church is in communion with both, have the gates of hell prevailed?

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Naw, God can fix anything.

                    • Gail, have you seen this? Maybe this has already been posted on here but it’s beyond sad. How could Athos even allow this if it does happen.


                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

                    • So many of these issues might have a chance of being resolved if addressed sooner rather than later.

                      It seems like the deposition & excommunication of Bartholomew would solve a large amount of the problems in the Church.

                  • Misha,

                    I thought that Antioch & Jerusalem worked out their situation in Qatar? Or am I mistaken?

                    Also, I’m curious to see if the Macedonians accept the OCU. It would be terribly sad to come out of schism just to go back into one after communing with schismatics.

                    I’m also hoping this spurs the other local Churches to finally address the elephant in the room that is the OCU and force a council.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Actually, the EP worked out their situation. He confiscated the holdings of each and declared it was now all under him. Bartholomew was pleased with the result, but neither Jerusalem nor Antioch could walk away without feeling cheated by him and by each other.

                      So many of these issues might have a chance of being resolved if addressed sooner rather than later.

                    • I hadn’t heard. I was just using it as an example.

              • So for the last 50 years in Macedonia were the sacraments graceless? Was the Eucharist actually the Body and Blood of Christ?

                • Honestly, I wouldn’t care to speculate on the previous status of the MOC. They were certainly out of communion with Serbia, but I don’t know who else excommunicated them or of a local council had done so.

                  Normally, if your own local church excommunicates you then you are out and your mysteries lose grace. However, I don’t think one can ignore the rationale or validity of the excommunication itself, which I think is the real question among the Greek New and Old Calendarists.

                  • O come on speculate. I would really like your opinion. Reading your comments is one of the primary reasons I come to the website. I get a lot out of them. If you lived in a town that had a Macedonian parish, and the next closest canonical parish was a two hour drive away, prior to yesterday I assume you would make the drive, but after the decision of Serbia, would you start going to the Macedonian parish fully confident that when you communed you would be receiving the Body and Blood of Christ from a valid priest? I wouldn’t.

                    On a separate note, if memory serves me, sometime back did you say that where you lived they just opened a ROCOR mission and prior to that the closest Russian Church was a monastery a couple hours away? Out of curiosity, is the mission you referred to the one in Marquette, Michigan and the monastery the one out in Atlantic Mine?

                    • PJ,

                      No, I live in Kentucky. The closest ROCOR parish is about 2 hours away, but ROCOR has opened a mission in a town about 25 miles up the road.

                      Re: The MOC

                      I would defer to the judgment of the Church of Serbia. Serbia and ROCOR go way back. For example, I know the priest at the Serbian parish in the same city as my church. He speaks Russian as well as Serbian and English.

                      If a Macedonian Orthodox parish opened in my town now that the MOC has been received back into communion with the SOC, yes, I would attend it.

                    • PJ,

                      Let me give you a few theories that you will hear from the Orthodox on this question. First, there are some who would use communion with Constantinople as the litmus test. You mostly hear that in GOARCH. That is clearly wrong. There have been times when the Phanar has left the Church, for example.

                      Second, among modernists (New Calendarists), you may hear that it is only those local churches mutually recognized as canonical by the ancient churches and those of long standing. This would include everyone from Constantinople to the ROC and ROCOR as canonical, but not the Old Calendarist Greeks. That is an interesting way of viewing it, clearly closer to the truth than the first; however, for example, ROCOR has been in fairly unstable communion with the New Calendar churches from the late 1960’s until the reunification with the ROC. Moreover, though many, including myself, would not count ROCOR as “uncanonical” during that period, some would. Moreover, during that period, not only was the ROCOR in communion with Serbia and Jerusalem but also from time to time with some of the Old Calendarist Greeks.

                      A much more reliable criterion for who is and who is not canonical is whether the body complies with the canons of the Church. Now, being a lawyer, I’m also mindful of the question, “complies in whose judgment?” And that can be a dicey quesiton indeed:

                      “When told that all Patriarchs have agreed with the Patriarch of Constantinople that Monotheletism is an Orthodox doctrine, St. Maximus the Confessor refused to accept this argument as a decisive criterion of truth. The Church ultimately canonized St. Maximus and condemned the Patriarchs.” –

                      So all I can say, in summary, is beware innovation and read enough to know what constituted Orthodoxy one hundred, five hundred, a thousand, and fifteen hundred years ago. And that is the Orthodox faith to which he who adheres is Orthodox. In my experience, ROCOR, the Church of Serbia, the Church of Jerusalem and the Greek Old Calendarists have a collective reputation for solidity regarding Holy Tradition. Where they agree, or most agree, you can be sure it is Orthodoxy.

                    • Thank you for the replies Misha. Gail replied with a post about autocephaly above which I then replied to although I am no longer seeing her post or mine for that matter. I just see a double standard in the actions we reject from Constantinople but will accept from Serbia strictly from the perspective of sacramental theology not talking about invasions of canonical territory and such. Like with Filaret, he’s a grace filled bishop, he then starts the KP and he becomes a graceless schismatic, then he gets rehabilitated by Constantinople and he’s a grace filled bishop again (from Constantinople’s perspective) now he’s back with the KP and he’s a graceless schismatic again. Or with the topic at hand. The Macedonian parish in your town that you wouldn’t attend a week ago as being graceless, you would attend now although nothing has changed other than Serbia saying the sacraments there are now grace filled. It seems from my perspective at least that it’s not the laying on of hands then that makes one an Orthodox priest or bishop, it’s a canonical Church saying you’re a bishop or priest and the ordination itself or the vesting like with the former Catholic priest that was recently accepted in the Russian Orthodox group over there in Paris is just secondary and outward, a ceremony simply confirming what has already been actualized through the fiat of the canonical Church and the former Catholic seminarian in me has a hard time swallowing it. I find it all very interesting and am grateful to be unaffected by it other than my brain going round and round trying to understand it.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      You say, “every Orthodox jurisdiction outside of Moscow recognizes it [the Ecumenical Patriarch] as a valid canonical Church” and you want to know why. It’s because it’s one of the 5 ancient patriarchates. Its status isn’t new and it isn’t in question.

                      You say, “with a stroke of a pen says Epiphanius and all those Ukrainian bishops that we didn’t recognize before, well now they’re valid bishops . . .” That’s the same problem we have with this.

                      “Hierarchs like Theodoros in Alexandria, and Chrysostomos in Cyprus, Ieronomos in Athens, hierarchs who lead canonical Churches that every jurisdiction except Moscow is in communion with have signed on to the idea and concelebrated with them as being fellow bishops.” Exactly. –And every bishop but one begged Bartholomew NOT to do it without a Council but he did it anyway and now bishops like Theodoros and Chrysostomos have recanted their positions because they are each beholden to him.

                      The problem is that all those bishops you mentioned, combined, are not as nearly as big or as powerful as Russia, Antioch, Georga, Serbia, and Bulgaria and they aren’t having it. Together, they represent the overwhelming majority in the Church not to mention the U.S. States, where the Greek Church has lost 33% of its laity while the others have standing room only. The EP is coming from a very weak position. Geopolitically, the circumstances in Ukraine are not at all like Macedonia. I’m sure you’ve noticed, that there’s a war going on in Ukraine due to the tensions between the 2 countries representing the 2 churches. You might have also noticed the request for a Tomos didn’t come from the OCU but from an Olegard who wanted to gift the OCU to a group of Nazis to strengthen his prospects for re-election. The request for the Tomos came from Rada, the parliament. That’s unusual. The fact that the bishops in the OCU refuse to be ordained, unlike in other situations where autocephaly is granted, is extremely problematic in terms of apostolic succession upon which the Church is based. The OCU is its own Church and when 2/3s of the rest of the Church won’t commune with you, you’ve got a problem.

                      Their situation is not like the situation between Serbia and Macedonia.

                      I don’t know where you’re getting, “that for over 50 years no one recognized as canonical, who all this time has been performing graceless ordinations and consecrations that no one says are valid – well guess what, we’ve patched things up and they’re all priests and bishops now with grace-filled orders and sacraments.” I think it’s naive to assume any institution, especially something as old and complicated as the Church, is going to behave in predictable ways. The Church is constantly trying to right itself. As a former Catholic, I would think you’d be familiar with this concept. Not trying to be rude but it’s hard for me to understand why you’re so upset. You say it doesn’t affect you, but now you say you’re in ROCOR, which BTW, isn’t happy about Ukraine, either. Anyway, here you are on an Orthodox blog demanding our time and a theological explanation you can accept.

                      “And it seems incoherent and illogical to me and while fortunately, it doesn’t affect me, I want to better understand it rather than just be an unthinking fideist that says well whatever the Church says that’s fine with me.” Just because you don’t have the capacity to understand something that is so much more complicated than you make it out to be does not mean it’s OK to say that our position is, “whatever the Church says is fine with me.” On another day, that statement would get you kicked off the blog.

                      “I want a logical, consistent theological justification for accepting what Serbia is doing while rejecting what Constantinople is doing again strictly from the perspective of Orthodox sacramental theology…” Because what Constantinople does or doesn’t do is inconsequential at this point. He crossed the Rubicon with Ukraine and the bishops are going to have to deal with it.

                      Sometimes we just don’t get what we want, PJ. I tried. Got to close this thread before I lose our audience.

                    • PJ,

                      My, admittedly limited, understanding is that:

                      The Fathers write about degrees of separation, and the canonical ‘remedy’ for bringing groups back really depends on how far they have strayed from orthodoxy and orthopraxis. Grace is not a tap that switches off immediately, so I don’t think it’d be wise to take such a black and white approach.

                      In the case of Macedonia, they had separated from the Serbian church and… not much else. Everything else they did and everything that they believed was totally Orthodox. Same can be said for Bulgaria and Romania in the 19th c. I would find it difficult to say that they were totally graceless during this period of isolation.

                      A similar situation has been the Bulgarian Alternative Synod, which reconciled with the Patriarchate in 2012 or something like that. Some moderate Old Calendarist groups have been received back into the Church quite easily and usually in orders, while the crazier ones normally have to be received as laymen, due to the canonical mess usually surrounding them and usually some moral issues.

                      As for the Ukrainian schismatics, they were ‘ordained’ by a deposed and anathematised former bishop, as well as other sketchy characters, so they had fallen very far from the cart. They had also entered into communion with a variety of ‘hierarchies’ with fly by night canonicity. The state of their ‘church’ was such that it would be difficult to see any grace there.

                      One thing all the above have in common – besides the schismatic Ukies – is that they repented. Not one cleric in the fake Ukrainian church has showed a speck of remorse.

                      The Holy Synod of a local church has the full right to apply the canons as they see fit, as long as it within the boundaries of acceptable custom, praxis, and tradition. Such issues can only be resolved by the local church themselves, unless both parties ask another to resolve the issue.

                      There’s other factors too, but it’s a complicated issue and there’s never really a cookie-cutter approach from what I see in church history.

                    • Dear PJ,

                      Misha, Basil and Gail have responded to your questions with a good degree of wisdom. Please allow me to toss in my two cents as a former Anglican priest who considered his ordination to be valid by virtue of the Branch Theory. I have put that behind me and am now a lay convert to Orthodoxy like you.

                      I would like to say two things: 1. The Western approach to the sacraments is based on the validity conferred on the priest via the Apostolic Succession, as is the Eastern approach. Without the ministrations of a validly ordained priest, there are no efficacious sacraments.

                      However, we must remind ourselves that the Western approach is highly rationalistic and legalistic, whereas the Eastern approach is mystical and holistic. In the West, proof of a cleric’s spot on the apostolic genealogy is the ticket to his ability to celebrate valid sacraments. In other words, if the bishop who ordained you was properly consecrated, then your ordination is valid forever, no matter what. That is true in the East, as well, but the East demands one further criterion for validity, i.e., obedience to the Apostolic Tradition in addition to Apostolic Succession.

                      As the others have suggested, a priest’s ordination may be valid, but if he is not in right relationship with his bishop, or if a bishop is not in right relationship with his synod or fellow bishops of other local (read: national) churches, the Eucharist that he confects and the other mysteries (read: sacraments) that he serves (read: celebrates or officiates) are called into doubt, or are rendered graceless outright. That is, for all intents and purposes, they are null and void. Whatever grace that the communicants at his liturgies may receive regardless of this fact are, one must suppose, due to their personal faith, but not due to the objective invalidity of the mystery itself (read: sacrament).

                      Having said all that, I’ll posit my second point: 2. Unless you put out of your mind the highly rationalistic mentality of the Thomist West, you will not be able to “loosen your belt”, shall we say, and open your heart to understand the mind of the East. God will impute his grace upon those whom he will impute it, regardless of the strict adherence to the rules of valid ordination, regular elements, set form, and right intention.

                      Elder Arsenie of Paparocioc, a Romanian monk priest who was persecuted terribly during the 20th century is one example. When Fr. Arsenie was imprisoned, he would take water and a morsel of bread and celebrate the Eucharist for himself and his fellow captives. He admitted that he didn’t know if it was “the real thing”, but he did what he could in his circumstances to pray to God and to administer God’s grace in the hope that it was effectual unto salvation for the poor souls. Certainly his actions were taken in extremis and God only knows if there was any validity to them, but it seemed to strengthen his faith and that of his comrades. Of course, the exception does not disprove the rule, but I hope you’ll get my point.

                      All that I am trying to say, however feebly, is that we who have been tutored in the rationalistic Western tradition have a good deal of “unlearning” to do before our Eastern catechism can settle in and take root. God works primarily inside the box, but he certainly is not confined by the dimensions of the box and is free to work outside of it.

                      On the other hand, those clerics who consider themselves to have obtained some grace that they are free to dispense and manipulate without the strictures imposed upon them by the discipline of the Church are sadly mistaken, for the grace is not theirs to clutch, but rather is bequeathed upon them by the Church for the sake of the building up of the Church according to the Church’s discipline. He who would be first within the Church must become the servant of all.

                      I don’t know if that helps, but there it is for what it’s worth.

                    • PJ,

                      I did not say the Macedonian Church lacked grace previously and miraculously received it back by the stroke of a pen. You assume that because I would defer to the SOC’s judgment that that means I don’t believe they had grace before. That is not the case.

                      There are two questions: 1) are two churches in communion?, and 2) which ones (both, neither, one or the other) have grace? There are local churches which have grace and which I would not attend, Constantinople being the best example. Simply because the MP excommunicated it does not mean it lacks grace but at the same time I would not set foot in such a parish. God gives good and ample notice before switching off the lights.

                      If a local church or some part thereof has truly lost grace, simply restoring it to intercommunion would not suffice. Everyone would have to be received back into Orthodoxy in some form or fashion (baptism, chrismation, etc.).

                    • Misha: ‘ Now, being a lawyer, I’m also mindful
                      of the question, “complies in whose judgment?” ‘

                      In that question lies the problem of the practice of law;
                      whether that law be canonical, civil or criminal.

                      To keep this short, I shall illustrate the point from criminal law.
                      In most jurisdictions, for someone to be convicted of a crime,
                      the prosecution must prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
                      Failure to prove this ‘should’ result in a verdict of Not Guilty.
                      In Scotland, however, another verdict is available: Not Proven.
                      This, to my mind, is a truer verdict than Not Guilty; for who, other than God himself, can truly say someone is without guilt?
                      The verdict is an acquittal, to be sure; but it is a verdict that
                      recognises that all our human judgements are provisional
                      and subject to correction or rejection through further evidence.

                      We may be right, but we do not and cannot know we are right.

                      Now when we come to the problem of ‘finding’ canonicity,
                      do not forget the example of St Maximos the Confessor,
                      nor that of St Mark Eugenicos.

                      When the Florence Unia was signed by the EP and the Emperor,
                      was St Mark outside the Church? History suggests otherwise.

                      Now think of all the country priests and parishioners of the time,
                      of whom many will have known little or nothing of these matters.
                      Were they all in the Church then? Are they all outside it now?

                      In the end, all our judgements are provisional;
                      but those of the Lord are true – and he knows his own.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          No, they don’t. Not with the EP. (Serbia is fine.)

          The OCU is schismatic and because the EP has communed with the OCU, the EP is now schismatic. So, anyone who communes with the EP (like Alexandria) is schismatic, as well.

          Bartholomew has spilt the Church right down the middle.

          • Only Moscow has broken communion with Constantinople. Bishops and priests of all the other Orthodox jurisdictions continue to concelebrate with their counterparts in the EP. Are you saying that’s not the case?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              We’re talking about 2 things. I’m talking about the canons and how they forbid us from communing with schismatics.

              Not only do former Orthodox bishops and priests continue to concelebrate with the EP and their counterparts, but even bishops and priests OUTSIDE the Church continue to do so, as well!

              BUT NONE OF THEM ARE IN THE CHURCH. They may think so, but they’re not because to commune with schematics makes you a schismatic.

              This fall, the bishops are going to meet again in Moscow and I suspect they’ll come out with a joint statement.


              • So to be clear, are you saying if a Serbian or Antiochian priest concelebrates the Liturgy with a GOA priest, that Serbian/Antiochian priest is now a schismatic outside the Church?

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  I was clear. I told you what the canons say and the teaching of the Church.

                  Am I now to go through each member of the clergy of each Church who concelebrates with the EP or the OCU, and pronounce them schismatic?

                  • I’m not asking you to be the schismatic police, but you didn’t answer my question. But given your response, you seem to be saying that said Serbian/Antiochian priest is now a schismatic outside the Church for concelebrating with a GOA priest, and regardless of your quoting of the canons, I don’t believe that is what the Orthodox Church teaches…

                    • PJ,

                      It doesn’t go that far under these circumstances. I’ll use the situation between the MP and CP as a case in point.

                      The MP has excommunicated the CP over the question of receiving Ukrainian schismatics and purporting to create an autocephalous OCU. Constantinople did this but others recognized the OCU as well, Alexandria being among them, for instance. However, besides the ROC, no other local church has excommunicated the CP.

                      The MP does not consider all these secondary intercommunicants to be schismatics, only the first generation offenders: Constantinople, Alexandria, Greece, etc., i.e., only those who directly intercommune with the schismatics. Thus the MP is still in communion with Antioch and the OCA, for example, notwithstanding the fact that both these local churches intercommune with Constantinople, et al. It is only in the case of heresy or some wider conciliar condemnation, normally, where secondary relationships are considered.

                    • This point made by Lawrence Wheeler cannot be overly emphasized:

                      “However, we must remind ourselves that the Western approach is highly rationalistic and legalistic, whereas the Eastern approach is mystical and holistic.”

                      This fundamental observation is counterintuitive to the way most of us raised in the West are hardwired, especially when it comes to “rules.”

                      Understanding schism is such a difficult concept and it is hard to put a fine point on it. Perhaps better terminology is needed to describe an “administrative schism,” which like the issues between the SOC and MOC, was the case with the SOC and the “Free Serbian Orthodox Church.”

                      Better terminology is also needed to describe a “dogmatic schism,” such as the case between the Romans and the Orthodox, the Orthodox and the Oriental churches, and these days between the Orthodox and the Istanbul ghetto.

                      The mess that the lap-dog heretic Dimitrios Arhondonis created in Ukraine has elements of an “administrative schism.” However, the proffered ecclesiology — indeed theology — to support his actions is heretical. This makes the Moscow rift with the Istanbul crazies a “dogmatic schism,” and if he keeps it up, the same will be formalized by the Antiochian, Jerusalem, and Slavic churches. Add to that the increasingly pernicious and purposefully elastic commentaries on sodomy and abortion, we can confidently eliminate any doubt that Arhondonis has excommunicated himself and his church.

                      Lastly, somewhere in this discussion a commentator noted that the SOC can be trusted to do the right thing. Don’t be so confident. Remember that recently they got tricked into attending Crete. They have a lot of bad apple bishops that they did not fully purge and who are now conspicuously attempting comebacks, including among several, George, formerly of Canada, and Basil, formerly of Tuzla and male strippers.

                      And the way they run things stateside is far from ideal.

                      How they handle the long-suffering and persecuted Archbishop Jovan of Ohrid and the other Macedonian bishops who stood by the SOC will be a test of their character.

                      The new SOC Patriarch “gets it,” theologically, politically, and (most importantly) pastorally, so there is hope for those of us concerned about the temporal affairs of the Church.

      • Solidarity Priest says

        The Serbian church communed with ROCOR, the OCA, the MP, AND the EP back in the day when ROCOR did not have intercommunion with the latter three, I was ROCOR at the time and not particularly happy about this. ROCOR also served with clergy of the Jerusalem Patriarchate.
        Furthermore, the Greek Old Calendarists then in communion with ROCOR knew about the above situation. I do recall a Serbian deacon glibly telling me,” The Greek Old Calendarists are outside of the Church”. One wonders if said deacon (now a priest) thinks that the Papists are IN the Church. Bartholomew and his ilk certainly feel that way.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Well, this deacon would not be wrong. They’re in something but it’s not THE Church.

  9. Maros Lelas says
  10. Must we?

  11. Anonymous says

    Christ is Risen! Glory to His holy third day Resurrection!

    Please pray for the soul of our Metropolitan Hilarion Krapral, first hierarch of ROCOR who reposed in our Risen Lord today. May his memory be eternal!

  12. cynthia curran says

    Ok, so Trump does DR OZ. Is Trump the hero after Dr Oz,

  13. Apparently Pelosi has been excommunicated by the Roman
    Catholic Abp of San Francisco over her support for abortion.
    And Clinton’s campaign manager shops her in Russian Hoax inquiry…

    [Video – 13:55]

    • This story is true. It’s also true that the RC Cardinal in DC went out of his way to say she is welcome to commune in his diocese. So much for his concern for her soul.