Athos to the EP: Ain’t Happenin’

According to, the majority of the abbots of Mt Athos rebuked Patriarch Bartholomew’s request to attend the enthronement of the false metropolitan Epiphaniy Dumenko on Feb 3rd.

The vote took place on January 28th and was 13 to 7 against recognition of the schismatics. That’s two-to-one against recognition –a super-majority if there ever was one.

This happened on the heels of Metropolitan Emanuel of France’s recent trip to Mt Athos. Obviously, he failed in his mission. Next stop for Emanuel is Georgia.

In the meantime, the Church of Greece is undergoing immense pressure to reverse its previous decision to not recognize the schismatics.

Clearly, the unfortunate act by Bartholomew is having negative repercussions throughout the Orthodox world. My gut feeling is that Athos’ rebuke will put more steel in the spine of those who are sitting on the fence. If I were Epiphaniy (and I were truly Orthodox), I’d be repenting right now and publicly abasing myself before His Beatitude Onuphriy, the Metropolitan of Kiev and All-Ukraine.

But that’s me. The State Department doesn’t have anything on me.

About GShep


  1. Joseph Lipper says

    The only surprising thing here is that even 7 abbots support the recognition of the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The EP is recommending that people recognize the new church, but the EP is not enforcing it. Until there is a council about the matter, with a final conciliar decision, it doesn’t bode well for people to take sides. The autocephaly of the OCU may be revoked, or it might be affirmed. Right now it’s difficult to know how this will play out, so it’s much better to abstain from recognizing the autocephaly until there is a council on the matter.

    Regardless, a council on the topic of autocephaly will probably lead to some major changes across the board. It’s very possible, for example, that we may be witnessing the final days of ROCOR. It’s difficult to justify a good canonical reason for the Russian Church to be administratively outside of Russia.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Joseph, the only recommendation the EP makes is that the church be acknowledged and commemorated by the name “Most Holy Church of Ukraine.” He is not using the word “recognize” in the sense that one is free to choose whether or not to recognize them as an autocephalous Church. He explicitly states we: “recognize and declare this Autocephalous Church, established within the boundaries of the sovereign territory of Ukraine by means of this signed Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos, as our spiritual daughter. . .” As far as he is concerned, it’s a “done deal.”

      The EP was begged to call a council before he created this mess. He refused. It would be ludicrous for him to call one now when so many of his brother bishops have lined up against him. He has left no choice but to take sides.

      Upon what do you base the speculation that we may be witnessing the final days of ROCOR and what does THAT have to do with the “price of bread,” i.e. Ukraine? You keep introducing these extraneous topics. No councils have been called to discuss the need for ROCOR. Whether or not one can find a “good canonical reason” to justify ROCOR is another subject altogether.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Gail, the topic of autocephaly needs to be addressed at an Ecumenical Council. It was supposed to have come up at Crete, but it was dropped at Russia’s request. When a council finally rules on the topic of autocephaly, then we might see wide-ranging organizational changes throughout the Church.

        More importantly, it also sounds like the topic of how much power a patriarchate should have over foreign lands will probably come up. There are accusations against the EP of “papism”, and it’s not hard to accuse the Moscow Patriarchate of “papism” also. The fact that ROCOR in America has broken communion with the Greek Archdiocese over this Ukraine incident demonstrates the depth and reach of Moscow’s papal pretensions. Yes, the EP will be held accountable at a council, but so will Moscow. If Moscow is held accountable, then that might be the end of ROCOR.

        • “The fact that ROCOR in America has broken communion with the Greek Archdiocese over this Ukraine incident demonstrates the depth and reach of Moscow’s papal pretensions.”

          You are mistaken. ROCOR is an autonomous part of the MP. It has nothing to do with “papal pretensions” and a lot to do with being, in fact, one Patriarchate.

          As for the alleged risk of the demise of ROCOR, I believe you’ve misread that one badly.

        • “The fact that ROCOR in America has broken communion with the Greek Archdiocese over this Ukraine incident”

          From the keyboard of ROCOR Bishop George of Canberra, the broken communion only applies to clergy and not laity. This gives me some consolation  

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            The keyboard of the lord…..

            See, I have signed this with my own keyboard, with my worn and clumsy hands, so that you know that it is I who writes to you….

            • Do you really believe Tim that when the monks of ROCOR Archangel Michael Monastery seek guidance from the Bishop about the breadth of the break in communion, the Bishop picks someone off the street to write his emails?

        • “Gail, the topic of autocephaly needs to be addressed at an Ecumenical Council. It was supposed to have come up at Crete, but it was dropped at Russia’s request.”

          I have seen this claim or similar claims made before. Can you substantiate it?

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Joseph, the other Joseph (Lipper) made this statement and I disagreed with him.

            Autonomy and the means by which it is proclaimed was on the agenda for Crete. It was one of the documents listed under “Documents with Unanimous Approval.”

            Through various spokesmen, the EP has maintained that all documents adopted by the Council are binding on all Orthodox, which would include Russia. (1) (2)

            Had it been dropped at Russia’s request, it would not be included on the list of “Official Documents of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.”

            I should add that with respect to Ukraine, it was not on the agenda so it could not have been dropped at Russia’s request.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Joseph Zheng,

            Here is the link of Patriarch Bartholomew’s address from Geneva, Switzerland on January 22, 2016. In this address, he points out the 10 agenda items slated for the council, with 2 items being dropped because they didn’t have unanimous approval:

            1) Autocephaly and it’s manner of proclamation, and
            2) The Dyptichs

            However, the subject of autonomy and it’s approval was kept, and this was included in the Crete Council, as Gail points out.


            • Monk James Silver says

              We have to remember that ‘autonomy’ and ‘autocephaly’ are rather recent conceptual constructs in ecclesiology, and maybe not even real, at least insofar as they are thought to be distinct from each other, but the canonical tradition of The Church doesn’t support this distinction.

              Protochristian churches such as Jerusalem and Cyprus, Antioch and Alexandria and Rome originally understood themselves as both autocephalous and autonomous, separate in administration yet united in faith.

              Since our Christian faith has grown to include larger territories, even entire countries and their spheres of influence, these ancient notions of ecclesial structure have been stretched beyond breaking.

              While I don’t know just how to sort out all of this in terms of our contemporary church politics, I’m inclined to think that canon 28 of Chalcedon is being misinterpreted by Constantinople.

              Lest we fall into the modern error of vaticanism, we must be aware that the ‘ecumenical patriarchate’ (a rather late term, as these things go) does NOT rule the Christian world beyond the borders of the ancient patriarchates. It’s important that we remember and understand the concept of ‘borders’.

              With all of that in mind, perhaps all of us Orthodox Christians can admit a few things.

              First, a great part of the world has not yet heard the Gospel, and it’s our responsibility to evangelize them as generously as we can.

              Second, a great part of the world has already been evangelized by heretical Christians, and it’s our responsibility to evangelize them and correct their errors in faith as kindly as we can.

              Third, we must repent our own selfishness, our own ethnocentrism, our own feelings of superiority over heterodox Christians, and learn to be humble servants of our lord Jesus Christ rather than pretend to be masters of all who don’t approach Him as we do.

              Our lord Jesus Christ teaches us to ‘let (our) light shine so that whoever sees (us) will give glory to (our) Father in Heaven.’

              Shine! SHINE!

              • Exactly.

              • Christopher says

                “Lest we fall into the modern error of vaticanism, we must be aware that the ‘ecumenical patriarchate’ (a rather late term, as these things go) does NOT rule the Christian world beyond the borders of the ancient patriarchates. It’s important that we remember and understand the concept of ‘borders’. “

                Just one of many highlights of your excellent post Monk Jame Silver, which deserves to be read carefully. Borders, and their relationship to the canonical Tradition as received is central to all of this. The fall of the Empire, the rise of nation states, and the ad hoc manner that autocephaly and most other significant ecclesiastical acts in the life of the Church for the last 1000 years is the history and foundation of the present “crises” in Ukraine specifically and the role/privileges of the EP in the modern world in general.

            • Joseph Lipper, the link you provide does not substantiate your assertion that the topic was dropped “at Russia’s request.” What it does say is that there was not a text on the question with unanimous agreement. Which is no surprise- the EP has its own strong positions on these question, other churches disagree. Since the Crete council did not allow for free and open debate, but only the discussion of pre-approved documents, it is absurd to say it was dropped “at Russia’s request” any more than it was dropped at the EP’s request or any other church that failed to come to a unanimous agreement.

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Joseph Zheng,

                The main objector to the document on autocephaly was Russia, but not for the reasons one might imagine.

                The EP’s proposal for the council was that autocephaly be canonically proclaimed unanimously by Ecumenical Council.

                It was Russia’s proposal that autocephaly could be proclaimed instead just by the mother church (such as in the case of Russia granting autocephaly to the OCA) and then eventually (or hopefully) be affirmed later by the other local churches.

                What we see with the Ukraine autocephaly is Constantinople instead following the proposal put forth by Moscow on proclaiming autocephaly. Of course Constantinople is also asserting herself as the mother church (which seems to be a matter of debate), and rescinding the 1686 document of transfer.


                • Gail Sheppard says

                  I wouldn’t take what Archbishop Job says too seriously. There were many people and multiple proposals. That they collectively failed to reach a decision in time for Crete cannot be blamed solely on Russia. Archbishop Job makes his biases clear. Notice how he calls out the “canonical prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch” at the end: “Although the issue of autocephaly might seem to be an insolent question, one must remember that no solution can be found without a reference to the established canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church throughout two millennia and taking into consideration the specific role and the canonical prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

                  * * *
                  Russia offers a more balanced perspective without ascribing blame:

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    Gail, your link is dated from 2009, do you have anything more current?

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Joseph, there has been A LOT written on it.

                      * * *
                      Why has the way of signing a Tomos on autocephaly remained undefined to this day?

                      —The question of signing a Tomos was discussed at the IOC in 2011, but a full consensus on it by Local Orthodox Churches was not reached. And, indeed, a consensus of all the universally recognized autocephalous Churches was a fundamental principle of all the previous works for preparing a pan-Orthodox Council. All the Churches agreed that a Tomos should be signed by all the Primates. Everybody agreed that the signature of the Ecumenical Patriarch (of Constantinople) is to occupy the first place. But the delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople insisted that the signature of the Ecumenical Patriarch should be also singled out in a special way. In particular, it was proposed that it should be provided with the word apophenete (Gr. “decides”) while the signatures of the Primate of the rest Local Orthodox Church should be provided with the word synapophenete (“decides together”).

                      The delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed an opinion that a Tomos should be confirmed by equal signatures of the Primates of all the Local Orthodox Churches, with the Patriarch of Constantinople certainly given the place of the first among the equals. Because of the unsettled differences on such, in general, a marginal question, the topic of autocephaly was not put on the agenda of the Pan-Orthodox Council. By the decision made at the Synaxis of the Primates, which took place in 2014 in Istanbul, this matter should have been discussed additionally as part of a newly established Special Inter-Orthodox Commission, so that in case of a consensus it can be submitted to the Council. However, in fact, the commission has failed even to begin studying this matter despite the calls of several Churches. Thus, in 2015, the Primates of the Georgian, Serbian and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches, in their correspondence with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, stood for bringing the topic of autocephaly to the Council’s agenda.

                      At another Synaxis [assembly] of the Primates, which took place in January 2016 in Chambesy, the Russian Orthodox Church insistently proposed that what little remained to agree upon on the matter of granting autocephaly should be finalized at the Council. But the Patriarchate of Constantinople was afraid that it could delay the convening of the Council.

                      Nevertheless, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople assured Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia that neither the Council nor the Patriarchate of Constantinople after it would take any action that would involve the legalization of the schism or the granting of autocephaly to Ukraine. On this understanding, the Russian Church agreed to hold a Council without consideration of the autocephaly topic, of which Patriarch Kirill officially notified all the Primates during the Synaxis on January 24, 2016.

                      —But the Council on Crete never became pan-Orthodox. Has it put off a decision on autocephaly for good? Or is there a hope?

                      —Unfortunately, during the further preparation of the Council, for reasons not dependent on the Russian Orthodox Church, a proper attention was not given to the repeatedly stated disagreement of the Church of Antioch to attend it without a prior solution of the disputed problem of church jurisdiction in Qatar (The Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem contest the right to the parishes in Qatar.—Ed.) and to the objections put forth by the Churches of Georgia and Bulgaria. All this led to the fact that the Council did take place but failed to become pan-Orthodox.

                      But that is a different story, although it does not cancel the fact that on the principal issues concerning the granting of autocephaly—the role of the Mother Church as initiator of the process and the essential consensus of all the Local Churches expressed in the unanimity of their Councils—a pan-Orthodox agreement or, in the words of the document, “a full convergence of views” was achieved as far back as a quarter of a century ago.

                      Archpriest Nicholai Balashov

                      DECR Communication Service



      • It would be ludicrous for him to call one now when so many of his brother bishops have lined up against him.

        Ludicrous only if his intent is toward power. Not ludicrous at all if he loves the Church and is truly a “concelebrant of our mediocrity.” So… will he call one? Or will he force one to be called against him?

        I don’t often agree with Misha, but he is right about at least one thing. The rest of the Churches need to ‘man up,’ put their fears aside, and be more concerned with the truth about what they’ve allowed to EP to evolve itself into than they are about the optics of disunity in the eyes of the world.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          There is a third possibility, Brian, i.e. that no Council is called. I was reminded today that if a Council was called, their decision could cause a hard stop with regard to schism. No one wants this. They might win the battle but lose the war. Perhaps this is something they have to work out behind the scenes.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Do we need the EP to have a council? Why not Alexandria? If everyone comes except the EP, that would be a strong rebuke.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Well, this weekend in Moscow is the big party celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Enthronement of Patriarch Kyrill. It sounds like this will basically become the council you envision. Most likely it will be a pan-Orthodox lovefest for Patriarch Kyrill sans the EP.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I think that may have already happened in 2017, Antiochian Son. As his brother bishops met, the EP was in Israel opposing the United State’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital. – You all should seriously look at this. It’s a “whos who” of bishops (minus one).

        Resolutions (Ukraine is mentioned):

    • Joseph Lipper: “EP is not enforcing it.”

      EP is using government power on Ukraine. Same way as it did in 1920s in Russia/Ukraine, Poland, Finland, Estonia etc …

  2. There has to be a way for the Churches to evangelize heathen and heterdox areas. Hence, the justification for ROCOR as well as other missionary and “diaspora” extensions of the Churches.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Joseph A., Yes! There is the Orthodox Christians Missions Center (OCMC) “the official missions agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States”.

      • Nothing AT ALL against the OCMC, but this was a rather silly response.

        Let’s see here. We have OCMC missions to Guatemala, Kenya…

        • Joseph Lipper says

          ROCOR has unfortunately withdrawn from SCOBA meetings, and most likely this also affects their involvement in organizarions like OCMC.

          • Rhonda Dodson says

            No one is in SCOBA anymore. SCOBA withered, died & ceased to exist long ago, long before the Ukraine & Constantinople’s recognizing of outright schismatics. The organization that both ROCOR & Antioch withdrew from was the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America.

            FWIW, ROCOR is in no danger going away & has actually grown in size & prestige. Even if Constantinople should make good on its not so veiled threats of revoking Moscow’s autocephaly, both Moscow & ROCOR would still exist & have to be dealt with. Their faithful would not then necessarily nor willingly nor automatically fall under Constantinople.

            To defend Constantinople’s blatant papism by accusing Moscow of papism is disingenous at best & asinine at worst. It is Constantinople that has allowed itself to be declared “first without equals” in the usurping of the Church’s traditional understanding of “first among equals”.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              Rhonda Dodson, thank you for the correction about SCOBA. Did Antioch withdraw? I thought I saw Bishop Thomas and Fr. Thomas Zain in the last meeting.

              By the way, I don’t think Constantinople is threatening to revoke Moscow’s autocephaly. I believe the reference to revoking was only regarding Ukraine’s autocephaly.

              All I’m saying is that if Constantinople is held accountable for “papism”, then Moscow will be also.

        • Antiochene Son says

          I have personally long been critical of sending missionaries all around the world when over 50% of our own country is unchurched, and 99.8% is not Orthodox. Let the Church of Alexandria deal with Africa, it is their responsibility.

          My parish has spent thousands of dollars sending people on OCMC trips all over the world. God bless them, their heart is in the right place, but what about the homeless, victims of violence, and lost souls in our own city?

          I don’t think God will absolve us of our responsibility if we are running around the world to make proselytes when our own neighbors are wandering into hell.

          • Actually it is not either or, we are to do both. Some stay and some go. But the main thrust is to share the good news of Jesus the Mesiah.

          • George Michalopulos says

            AS, I completely agree with you. The Pope of Alexandria is doing a splendid job missionizing his field. Would that we were 1/10th as successful here in America.

            • The Pope of Alexandria is a good man. Alexandria always was close to Russian church. I just hope the Church of Greece has some backbone.
              I am sad to say what i am about to say but I do not trust greek bishops or Church to not show modernist attitudes in worship and order or bed on the fence re. Ukraine. I hope not. Where as with Slavs I feel confidence that they will not.

  3. Joseph,

    You write that “the EP is not enforcing it.“

    What might “enforcing it” look like? Say the EP does decide to “enforce” recognition of Epiphany’s/Filaret’s new church to those Orthodox who are outside of its own jurisdiction. What might that look like? How would it do that?

    This is definitely an important point to reflect upon. This point cuts to the heart of Orthodox ecclesiology as opposed to Roman Catholic or Protestant ecclesiology, in my opinion.

    From my perspective, the only way the Phanar could “enforce” such recognition is to say that if one disagrees with the Phanar or goes against what the Phanar wants or says, then such disagreement would place one outside of the boundaries of the Orthodox Church. This is simply Roman Catholic ecclesiology.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      ADK, you are right. When push comes to shove, I believe he’s going to say exactly this.

      What people don’t realize is that our only obligation is to stand with the canonical Church and reject those who operate outside of it. It is totally irrelevant if we don’t like Kirill or if the MP was KGB or even if they poison people! God will judge them. In THIS situation, the ONLY thing that should concern us is where the Church is so we can stand with her. The MP is the canonical Church in Ukraine. The EP is operating outside of the MP. End of story.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      ADK, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not threatening to break communion with anyone. If the EP was threatening to break communion, then this would be a means of enforcing, and yes this would be papalist.

      Contrast that with Moscow who HAS broken communion and HAS mandated that all her foreign exarchates also break communion with the EP, or be cast out. Yes, that’s enforcement. That’s papalist.

      • Joseph Lipper: “Ecumenical Patriarchate is not threatening to break communion with anyone.”

        I am afraid they would like to have communion with everyone. First with Rome, then with Anglicans and in the end with every other group. Of course with a severe suppression of any resisters.

        • Nikos stone says

          Joseph is so funny. EP is like a thief telling police he will not press charges against the house holder for the injury to his hand from the door but keeping the property

          • George Michalopulos says

            That is the best analogy I have heard yet! It’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking my coffee at the time.

            As the Jews say about chutzphah: A man murders his parents and then throws himself at the mercy of the court saying that he’s an orphan!

            • Even better!! I love Jewish humour!!
              Ps. EP and my thief analogy, the EP would charge you for yr stolen goods and keep a few!!
              Beautiful liturgy here for today’s Feast. That is what is important.

      • “That’s papalist.“

        Uh, no it’s not. It’s not papist for clergy and faithful in one jurisdiction to obey their first hierarch. (An important aside: the word “obey” comes from the Latin “to hear” or “to listen to.”). It would be papist if the MP we’re trying to tell the Church of Romania or the church of Greece, for example, that those churches must obey the MP.

        Joseph, I really don’t think you’re naïve enough to fully believe most of what you write. Your shtick of trying to bend all available information to fit your desired narrative is tiresome.

        Time will show us, anyway: If we don’t see any saints or holy men & women coming out of this newly created Ukrainian “church” or even out of the EP, and if we continually see more and more Orthodox churches distancing themselves from this new Ukrainian “church” (like the OCA just did in its recent statement, clearly supporting Metropolitan Onuphry), it’ll be clearly obvious where the Holy Spirit rests.

        Everyone knows the EP won’t be advocating any full church council anytime soon – they know very well that this Ukrainian fiasco would be shot down in a full church council and that their only hope for survival if they continue this same course (without repentance) is to fully embrace an “Eastern papism.”

        • Joseph Lipper says

          ADK, it sounds like the Patriarch of Moscow is telling ROCOR if they want to be part of the Moscow Patriarchate, then they need to break communion with the local parishes and clergy under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. These are not people inside Russia. ROCOR represents people outside of Russia.

          Of course within Russia, this poses almost no problem, because EP parishes there are almost non-existent.

          From the sounds of the keyboard apparently belonging to ROCOR Bishop George of Canberra, Australia, this comes across as a bit of an embarrassment to him. If it’s true he says lay people are not banned from intercommunion, only the clergy, then this is a bit of a crack in the dam.

          • Matthew Panchisin says

            Mr. Lipper,

            Once again what you are attempting to convey is false.

            From the Synod of Bishops (ROCOR)

            “In light of these most grievous affronts to the very nature of canonical Orthodoxy, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has no option except, with profound sorrow and yet with full conviction, publicly to register her assent with the decision of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, which recognises that continuing Eucharistic communion with the Church of Constantinople is impossible, at any level, until this ancient and once-glorious sister Church repents from its introduction of false and alien teachings about primacy and universal authority, contrary to the ancient Orthodox Faith, and ceases from its lawless actions.”

            “We thereby inform our clergy and faithful that Eucharistic intercommunion with the Church of Constantinople is presently impossible, for Hierarchy, Clergy and Laity. So long as this situation remains, it is not possible for clergy of our Church to celebrate in any parish of the Church of Constantinople, or for clerics of that Church to celebrate in ours; nor is it possible for laypersons to partake of the Holy Mysteries performed in the temples of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. We further reiterate that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia will not participate in theological inter-church meetings, or other dialogues, including the regional Assemblies of Bishops, which are chaired or co-chaired by clerics or hierarchy of the Church of Constantinople.”

            In full context here:


            • Joseph Lipper says

              Mathew Panchisin,

              I’m just pointing out the January 31, 2019 post from “Steven” in the thread above that says:

              “From the keyboard of ROCOR Bishop George of Canberra, the broken communion only applies to clergy and not laity. This gives me some consolation”

              Did Bishop George really say this? Can “Steven” back this up?

  4. The Istanbul “Patriarchate” is now in schism. There is no choice but for all local Churches and Orthodox faithful to stand against them. Those who support Istanbul will also find themselves to be schismatics.

  5. Tim R. Mortiss says

    I don’t “support Istanbul”. I intend to remain an active member of my GOA parish; not going anywhere.

  6. Dean Calvert says

    I have refrained from making any comments about this whole thing, which would certainly be viewed as “uncharitable” at best. Particular credit for this is due to Metropolitan Tikhon, who requested that OCA members (I am one) refrain from making outrageous remarks online.

    Let’s see if I can thread the needle, in that spirit.

    Last night, I was re-reading Fr. Meyendorff’s book “A Vision for Unity” – which is a compilation of articles Fr. John had written over a number of years. All of the articles pertain to the autocephaly of the OCA, and the resistance of many other American jurisdictions, principally the GOA and the EP.

    Fr. Meyendorff’s pain is obvious, as he re-words and restates (with lucid brilliance) the case for Unity over and over, ad naseum. The book covers a period from OCA autocephaly to about 1985.

    As I was putting the book down, it occurred to me: This SAME Ecumenical Patriarchate which has steadfastly opposed unity and autocephaly on the American continent has just granted autocephaly to these Ukrainian schismatics – following a logic that only an intellectual contortionist can follow – and uniting the entire Orthodox World against him in the process. As a priest I respect said a couple weeks ago, “I’ve never seen the Orthodox World so united!” I think he was right.

    Then the thought occurred to me: perhaps this is God’s way of finally “removing the lampstand” from Constantinople. Perhaps the “game is up”…no more excuses…no more nonsense. Like King Josiah, when the book of Deuteronomy was found in the temple.

    Hold a council, don’t hold a council…who really cares when you discuss nothing of import anyway? I think many of you are missing the point….not seeing the forest from the trees.

    I’m beginning to see this, not just as another (perennial) Istanbul-inspired fiasco – but as the end of a process that began years ago when the Berlin Wall came down. At that time, I wondered if the fall of communism would result in a divergence in the Orthodox World between LIVE Churches (Moscow, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Georgia, Cyprus) and DEAD Churches (Constantinople, Jerusalem, even Alexandria to a degree) .

    Perhaps this is the way it all ends…in God’s time?

    Such a shame…so many wasted opportunities – assemblies, councils etc etc – but they just can’t get out of their own way. I’m reminded of Abba Eban’s famous comment about the Palestinians…who never, “miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

    Perhaps it is finally time to adjust to reality.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Dean Calvert, do you really think the path to Orthodox unity in America is to quash the EP? Metropolitan Jonah made the unfortunate off-the-cuff remark to that effect, caught on video, and look where it got him.

      • Joseph Lipper: “do you really think the path to Orthodox unity in America is to quash the EP?”

        Bingo!!! You hit the nail on the head, Joseph.

      • There is no more EP. He is in schism.

        Metropolitan Jonah is in ROCOR. …..the best thing that ever happened to him.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Joseph, he’s jumped the rails.

        • Indeed. And this whole “autocephaly” question is really a side show in my opinion. The real and most central issue that needs to be faced head-on is put forth quite well by Fr. George Maximov.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Excellent article.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Fr. George Maximov, in his essay, identifies the central issue as being “papism”:

            “The Russian Orthodox Church has become the first to refuse to submit to the heresy of papism that is being imposed on all the Churches by the Constantinople Patriarchate.”

            Certainly the issue of how much power any patriarchate should have over foreign lands needs to be examined and dealt with. Many have pointed out how the EP has developed a position of primacy of authority as “first without equals” instead of being “first among equals”. However, a centralized primacy of authority within the jurisdiction of any first hierarch might also resemble the Roman papacy and result in schism.

            We now witness the schism of the Russian Orthodox Church’s break in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. If this break in communion only affected the actual jurisdiction of the ROC within the geographical boundaries of the Russian Federation, then perhaps it wouldn’t be as big of an issue, because there are only a small handful of EP parishes within. Instead, the Russian break in communion extends to all foreign exarchates of the ROC, including ROCOR. The jurisdiction of all these ROC foreign exarchates is global and huge, and in many cases these also overlap the foreign jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This is a big schism that is actually felt in overlapping jurisdiction.

            It’s certainly valid then to question how much power and jurisdiction the Ecumenical Patriarchate should have over foreign lands, and to question if this reflects an unjustifiable primacy of authority. Many have accused the EP of this. However, like the old adage says, whenever you point a finger, there’s usually three fingers pointing right back at you.

            Is the Moscow Patriarch also displaying an unjustifiable primacy in his authority? Is he first among equals within the ROC, or is he first without equals? How much power and jurisdiction over foreign lands should he or any Orthodox patriarchate have?

            Elder Sophrony of Essex is quoted in Fr George Maximov’s essay:

            “We reject any ‘Rome’—the First, Second, and Third—if this means the introduction of a principle of subordination into the life of our Church. We reject any Constantinople, Moscow, London, Paris, New York, or any other papism as an ecclesiological heresy that distorts Christianity.”

            Elder Sophrony advises that the issue of “papism” needs to be addressed not just in Rome, but also wherever it may be found in the Church.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Wow! Dean, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    • Could not agree more. Only one point that Alexandria under current Patriarchate has come alive in Africa and in open support of legality in Ukraine. But you only have to see the current Alexandrian Patriarch to see the spiritual difference.
      Interesting the spiritual centre of Catholics retreats from Europe while Orthodoxy advances.

    • Yes yes yes yes and да да да и ναι, ναι, ναι and oui, oui, oui, and ya and any other yes u care to name. OVER TIME

  7. Joseph Lipper says

    “if we look at the present day situation of the Orthodox Church in an objective and critical way, one can easily come to the conclusion that another Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church is definitely needed not only to approve the document on “Autocephaly and the way of its proclamation”, but also to clarify and define the specific reasons to proclaim or restore autocephaly, as well as to confirm in a conciliar way the autocephalies proclaimed in the 20th century and to resolve the on-going ecclesiastical crisis in Ukraine, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or in Montenegro. ”

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Maybe someone else can weigh in here but the EP thinks he is the only one who can call a Great and Holy Council and for him to convene something like this after the horse has left the barn, so to speak, is unlikely. I believe the only other one who can call something like this is an emperor.


    What surprised me most about Fr. Andrew Phillips’ article above is the revelation that a number of the synod of Constantinople refused to sign the pseudo tomos.

    In any case, his take is usually spot on and will likely prove to be the outcome of all this madness.

    • Yes I did not not know re refused to Sign but hope that even in Constantinople there is honour. Very sad this once great patriarchate has fallen low. I as a greek hope and pray Greek church stands firm. This reminds me of the 14-17c with unia and brest livtovsk etc, only the players were different. Well. Not much and there is Poland.
      I did not realise how much Ukrainians dislike Poles, and these were greek Catholics!!

    • Joseph Lipper says

      The OCA’s tomos of autocephaly was signed by Patriarch Alexis of Moscow in 1970, four days before his death on Lazarus Saturday. The other 14 signatures were the members of the Russian Holy Synod.

      Constantinople’s tomos granted to Ukraine somewhat mirrors Russia’s example we see with the OCA.

      It was a complete reversal for Constantinople to follow this Russian model, because Constantinople’s 1993 pre-conciliar document on autocephaly recommended an unanimous decision of all the local churches for autocephaly to be granted. Unfortunately, the topic of autocephaly was not brought up at Crete, at Russia’s request.

  9. P. Antonio Arganda says

    We Orthodox should give the term “ecumenical” a rest. The Ecumene means the Roman Empire, which no longer exists. The term “ecumenical” in reference to general councils has no present meaning. since the empire expired in 1453. The reference of Canon 28 to “barbarian lands” specifically refers to any land outside of the Roman Empire. Canon 28 has therefore , expired..The jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul) ends at the city limits of that city.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      It also is rather misleading given the meaning of “ecumenical” to English-speaking Christians!