Marriage and the Cup of Salvation

Pappas at Greek Archdiocese 29th Annual Leadership 100 Conference writes on blog: “Archbishop Elpidophoros of America: OK for Non-Orthodox Christian Spouses to Receive Communion”     

Marriage —real marriage—mirrors the Trinity.  There is no separation between man and wife.  (The fact that we have to qualify that means the battle is all but lost.) The husband and wife are one.  A case could be made that if one is able to commune, both should be able to commune.   

This does not mean the partaking of the Eucharist, unprepared, is of no consequence, however.  Far from it. In 1 Corinthians 11 St Paul exhorts those who approach the Chalice to be properly prepared.  Why?

Because the Eucharist is REAL. It is the body and blood of Christ –literally. And it is powerful. When one partakes of the Eucharist, without properly aligning themselves with Christ and His teachings, it breaks the conduit of unity and turns the substance into a poison that is also powerful, St Paul said communing in an unworthy manner is why many people become “sick” or are “asleep” (i.e. dead).

Leaving aside the fact that in our present society the husband is only rarely head of the household anymore, the issue is not that we want to keep spouses who are not Orthodox from communing within the Church.  In a properly-ordered patriarchal society, we could have an honest debate as to whether an Orthodox husband should be able to cover for his non-Orthodox wife.  

But this particular directive of the GOA reeks of being issued with the wrong intentions. First, not to hurt the feelings of the non-Orthodox spouse but second, to stop the atrophy in membership rolls.  There may be another consideration, as well.

What do I mean by that? Given the Fordhamites’ propensity to concentrate on all aspects of the globalist agenda, not the least of which is homosexuality, what’s being proposed could be a way to commune gay couples down the road who have already been legally “married”.  And then, of course, these couples’ rites will be solemnized. (They will have to be.)

St Paul attaches a prerequisite to Communion by saying:  Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. (1 Corinthians 11:2)  The onus is on the Church is to ensure that those who partake of the Eucharist are properly prepared according to the tradition of the Church. 

The Apostle later tells us in verse 27 whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  Who wants their spouse consuming the Body and Blood of Christ to their detriment?

Because Elpidophoros declared that anyone who was married in the Orthodox Church can receive Communion, one can conclude the GOA either doesn’t care about the spiritual well-being of the spouse OR they have divested the Eucharist of its power.  If the Eucharist is of no more spiritual substance than the grape juice and crackers other denominations serve, what’s the point of being Orthodox?  Why should anyone be taking it at all?   

For the GOA, I suspect the inclusion of non-Orthodox spouses to the Chalice is merely a means to an end.  If they allow spouses to commune when they want to, if they want to, the family is less likely to pull away from the Church and if a Greek family stays in the Church, it’s a means to preserve the status quo, i.e. being Greek, while identifying as Orthodox, even if they’re not particularly good at adhering to Orthodox tradition.  

It’s not like I am unsympathetic to any Church which wants to stanch the out-flow of its flock. Jesus Himself spoke about a shepherd who had one hundred sheep and lost one and that he wouldn’t sleep until he found that one. This is all to the good. Indeed, this is the essence of Christianity.  But let us be honest. It is most ironic that the GOA is only now concerned with opening its arms to those who are struggling or are in the process of leaving.

I’m sorry but that train has already left the station. When the GOA was founded in 1928, it was literally the fastest growing religion in the United States according to the decennial census. Now, almost a century later, it is perhaps one quarter the size that it was then.  What could it have done in the interim, decades ago, to stop the outflow? They could begin by repenting of what they allowed to happen fifty years ago when Archbishop Iakovos Coucouzis was almost drummed out of office for daring to suggest that the Liturgy should be translated into English.  And please don’t tell me that there were no good translations available. The Russian-American Archdiocese (which later became the Metropolia then the OCA) had been celebrating the Divine Liturgy since the earliest days of the twentieth century when Isabel Hapgood made a stately and elegant translation into Elizabethan English. How about congregational singing? It’s not rocket science.  

The ideal is for the entire family to come in and stay together within the Church and we who are in the Church should make every sacrifice to open our doors to all who want to enter.  But that said, the academics who have become the GOA’s “brain trust” haven’t thought this all the way through.  It’s one thing to open the Chalice to a non-Orthodox spouse but what about the necessity of Confession beforehand? I ask this in all sincerity. What about the onus on almsgiving? In my OCA parish, we are reminded every Sunday that we should only receive if we have “properly prepared ourselves, which includes prayer, fasting, and a recent confession”. This is further reinforced during Lent when we are constantly reminded that there are three pillars of faith: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Is someone who has no interest in Orthodoxy going to embrace the rest of it if they partake?  My guess is the answer is no because if they did, they would elect to become Orthodox in the first place. 

But most importantly, where is the concern for not bringing judgment upon those who are not properly prepared?   Either the Eucharist is the literal Body and Blood of Christ or it’s not. You can’t have it both ways. Earlier, I mentioned crackers and grape juice. Been there, done that. It had as much spiritual power as pretzels and beer, no matter how many theological dissertations to the contrary that you can find in Calvin’s Institutes.

One of our commentators put it best:

Communion is direct contact and union with the Living God through the deified Flesh and Blood of His Son.  It is, therefore, a judegment.  For those who are prepared, who have been made ‘worthy’ (which is to say capable) of union with God, direct contact is a life-giving Grace.  For those who have not been prepared, who have not been made ‘worthy’ (capable), direct contact with God is akin to a burning. 

Yes,  the Church is protected by closed Communion.  But let us never forget the other side of the coin.  Our  practice protects those who are not yet prepared, who have not yet been made ‘worthy’ of withstanding the judgement inherent in direct contact with the Living God.” 

(Brian 02/22/20 10:11PM)



  1. In my humble opinion, Elpidophoros is trying to turn the GOA into the liberal branch of Orthodoxy, the “un-cola” as compared to the more conservative Orthodox churches, and also to encourage defection from those jurisdictions for those who want a more liberal environment. It’s a marketing strategy: our congregation leans liberal, so let’s just do what CNN and Washington Post does, let’s step up the game. The conservative voices are not the ones that Elpidophoros seems interested in having steer the church in the future, so he’s fine losing them if he gains more liberal minded people who are aligned to the globalist agenda. This way the conservative churches will be seen as the bearded crazies and the GOA will be the progressive, “with it” church which will beat out the protestant competition with its 2000 year history.

    • Estonian Slovak says

      Isn’t that the same Pappas who is “married” to another man? Might that not be his significant other in the picture with the Archbishop?

      • Attuned to reality says

        Exactement….  and from what I’ve heard, Mr. Pappas proudly communes at a GOA parish, all the while with everyone knowing that he’s in an active homosexual “marriage” to another man.
        It’s not ECUSA here we come, it’s ECUSA, meet your protégé, who is now your equal:  the Greek “Orthodox” Archdiocese of America.

      • Some time ago Mr. Pappas was visiting his hometown parish. The priest there, one of the most well known and well respected priests in the GOA, knew of his homosexual relationship and privately told him he should not approach for Communion because he would be refused. This was said in private. But Mr. Pappas made it public and became indignant that he would be refused. He then said he had gotten support from priests and even one hierarch. Any clergyman who knowingly communes someone who is in a sexual relationship outside of marriage imperils his own salvation.

    • Antiochene Son says

      The conservative voices are not the ones that Elpidophoros seems interested in having steer the church in the future, so he’s fine losing them if he gains more liberal minded people who are aligned to the globalist agenda. 
      But if conservatives leave, then it will only get worse. They’re doing to the GOA what Democrats are doing to Texas: create the outcome you want by manipulating the population’s ideology/demographics.
      So maybe instead of leaving the GOA, conservatives should stay and fight. And I mean FIGHT. Maybe even people outside the GOA should join it with the intention of changing things. Be a missionary and re-evangelize your local GOA parish. Be a thorn in the side of the bishops.

      • And how well has the “conservatives need to stay and fight” mantra worked out for any church body that has faced this dilemma in the past?  You pick it: the Presbyterian Church USA, the Methodist Church, the Protestant Episcopal Church of America, the Roman Catholic Church…. you name it.  In no body have the traditional Christians ever “won.”  They’ve all splintered and broken off from the secularist/modernists.
        Unless it is well known that your church body will not tolerate innovations in the faith but will only hold to the Truth that has been handed down to us, as “Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” in our modern, secularist world, once the modernists get a foothold in an organization, the they will always drive those who are striving to stay with Christ out.
        That’s why I believe it is so crucial to behave as ROCOR or the Antiochians behave: modernists are not welcome, and you will not change the teachings of our church.  Yes, God loves you, but please reorient (i.e., “turn back east” toward Christ) your mind to Christ and come back into the loving embrace of the Church, but until then, you are not welcome to change us.
        The GOAA is now where the ECUSA was about 30 years ago: its hierarchy is entirely corrupted and clearly has demonstrated time and time again that it has no interest in following (or intention to follow) Our Lord, or in following the faith that millions of martyrs have died for and that has been handed down to us over the centuries.
        Despite a compromised and corrupted hierarchy, there remain some steadfast faithful in the GOAA.  However, if the past is predictive of the future, they will be driven out in the years to come.
        Fifty years ago, it was nearly unthinkable that the ECUSA — a church body with venerable, deep roots and a tremendous amount of money and properties in America (indeed, our “National Cathedral” in Washington DC is an Episcopal “Cathedral”) — it was unthinkable in the 1960s that they would even ordain women.  And yet here we are now, in 2020, and the ECUSA “clergy” and “bishops” has come to be an active homosexual and lesbian club.  And how many traditional Anglicans remain in the ECUSA?  I’d venture to say not even a handful.
        I don’t think that it is more virtuous to “suffer” inside of the GOAA as a faithful Orthodox Christian, knowing how its hierarchs believe and behave and where that church body is headed.  It is fully heretical in its leadership’s views at this point.  I do firmly believe that the GOAA has declared itself to represent a faith that is not Orthodox Christianity.
        I’d say that it’s far more virtuous — and far more sensible — to jump onto the RMS Carpathia (the OCA, ROCOR, the Antiochians, the Serbian Church in America, etc.) rather than to stay on the RMS Titanic of the GOAA, as she sinks into oblivion.  That is, unless you want to become part of the meaningless, modernist jurisdictional morass that often passes as pseudo-Christianity in America.
        Very tragic, yes.  But I don’t believe in sugar-coating reality. I believe that God commands us to live in reality, even if coming to terms with that reality is painful.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          I see a difference: the Greek Orthodox Church in the US is an Orthodox church. My parish certainly is.
          The Anglican/Episcopal church was never Orthodox.
          And don’t lump the Roman Catholics in with the Presbyterians, Methodists, and Episcopalians. Not hardly yet.
          Let your schadenfreude be sufficient to the day thereof.

          • Why “schadenfreude”? Not sure why you think I enjoy witnessing this train wreck of the GOAA?

            For full disclosure, I was baptized and chrismated in the GOAA. But as others have said, I didn’t leave Orthodoxy; the GOAA did.

            I don’t enjoy this one bit. Though I’ve had enough emotional recovery work to understand that I’m at the point where I can dispassionately discuss it.

            I have no more to add to this conversation, since it seems that too many are not comfortable facing the reality of the situation.

            I pray for all, particularly for the GOAA and for those in it. And I pray as well that – if they want it – that God grants all American Orthodox Christians the emotional strength to see the reality of what’s transpiring and to have the emotional tools to deal with it.

            A blessed Cheesefare week to all!

          • George Michalopulos says

            TimR, you’re not wrong. That doesn’t mean that grace will always stay within any particular Orthodox Church or subdivision thereof. Rome was once Orthodox.

            Constantinople only became Orthodox again when Mehmet II conquered it and put an Orthodox monk on the Cpolitan throne.

            To all: I was baptized, married and had my sons baptized and raised in the GOA. I am appalled by what I see down the road. I only hope that the OCA takes heed.

            I take no pleasure in the present chaos. It makes evangelism all but impossible.

            • Antiochene Son says

              Constantinople only became Orthodox again when Mehmet II conquered it and put an Orthodox monk on the Cpolitan throne.
              That gets to my point: what is stopping the faithful (the actual faithful) from conquering the GOA? It definitely won’t happen if everyone leaves.

              • Will Harrington says

                If this is truly what you see yourself called to, then do a realistic assessment of your weapons; how can you influence the Phanar? That is what you will have to do. The only weapon I see available to you is the withholding of finances. the question is, can you create a large enough movement to have an effect? Pray and discuss with other members of the GOAA, but be open to the alternative as well. I hope you can take back your jurisdiction.

                • Incrementalism isn’t going to work to take back anything. Since Nicaea 2025 is fast approaching Bartholomew and Elpidophoros have to move fast if they are going to present (gift wrapped) a reasonable facsimile of an Orthodox Church to their Roman and Western overlords.
                  That probably means in the near-term giving a tomos of dependent-autocephaly ( a la OCU) to America. 
                  Presented to whom? Why, to the so-called “Archbishop of America” Elpidophoros!
                  Think of it, America from “sea to shining sea” which by the way Elpidophoros claims as his as well (Atlantic and Pacific Oceans!).
                  Seems ludicrous, but I think it is in the cards.

        • Antiochene Son says

          ‘You pick it: the Presbyterian Church USA, the Methodist Church, the Protestant Episcopal Church of America, the Roman Catholic Church…. you name it.  In no body have the traditional Christians ever “won.”’
          That’s because those bodies are graceless.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Colorado, AMEN.

  2. An extraordinarily difficult topic. After all, the Apostle goes so far as to say the non Christian spouse is sanctified by the Christian spouse. And I am not sure we can affirm “In a properly-ordered patriarchal society, we could have an honest debate as to whether an Orthodox husband should be able to cover for his non-Orthodox wife.” The question cannot be “is society properly ordered”: it never is. Certainly it was not in pagan Rome, which was unambiguously patriarchal.
    Anyway, the problem with atrophy is the same for all the Orthodox jurisdictions, which are surviving only through conversion, and often that is happening inspite of the parishes, not because of them. Using the example of the Russian jurisdictions (with which I am most familiar since that is my family heritage): all these parishes were effectively perceived as ethnic variants of Christianity. Once assimilation occurs (usually in one to two generations), even if nostalgia remains, there is no sense that Orthodoxy is the true and correct form of Christianity. Only that it is the form that ones family followed in the old world. And that is the best case. In most instances until recently services were in slavonic and people were elated to flee to something they understood (assuming they didn’t just melt into secularism). Imagine what the OCA, for example, could have been had it tried to pivot a generation earlier. Today one only has to visit San Francisco to see the sad legacy of ethnic Orthodoxy. 60000 Russian speakers. How many attend a typical Liturgy? In another generation, if immigration stops, will more than a handful?
    Until we all drop the ethnic focus, reach out to our neighbors, insist on English alone, the situation will continue to be bad across the board. The form of decline may be the Episcopal liberal route or it may be ossified traditionalism. But it will be decline nonetheless.

    • Greg yr words need to be posted to every hierarch and priest.   Bishop Antony Bloom ‘got this’  back in the 1950s and brought the Russian Patriarchal Parish from a few babas to over a 1000  peopke with many converts by the systematic use of english and english clergy etc . And this was before the fall of communism which changed much.  

      • Evangelical converts get a lot of criticism (and constructively distributed much of it is correct). But one thing I must say is they can produce living parishes. Openness and outward facingness can produce miracles. Due to travel we have two parishes we consider home. One GOA and our more regular, OCA. Interestingly both nearly collapsed and both are reviving in remarkable ways. What is the similarity? New priests who discard the ethnic malarkey for openness and a love of the Gospel. We have a ways to go in both cases but they are in their own ways remarkable.

    • It does not matter if the Liturgy is in ancient Greek or Church Slavonic. They are Liturgical and mystical languages. Elder Ephraim’s monasteries are filled to the brim…including many American converts and I don’t hear anyone complaining. I love to experience the Liturgy in Greek, Church Slavonic or English. Holy Orthodoxy is the one holy catholic and Apostolic Church. It is the Church of our patristic fathers and saints. The gates of hell will not prevail.

      • Mikh,
        I got a complaint for you right here. No way I’m going to drive all day across burning sands to attend services of which I cannot understand a word past Άγιος ´Ο Θεός and Κύριε Ελεισον. Maybe they have the magic sauce at St. Anthony’s but it’s just for real people, of one of the two sorts: Greek or want to be Greek. 
        I understand that it was Elder Ephraim’s wish that the services be sung in Greek. The massive labor of rendering metered chant into actual English rather than cramming English words into a melody written in a meter alien to our tongue remains to be even attempted by the monks of the GOA. It’s part and parcel of their cultural attachment to pure Byzantine forms, allowing them to make no real progress toward offering Orthodox worship to English speakers for fear of losing some of that special sauce they are famous for, for fifteen people.
        ‘Quality, not quantity’ I grasp, but I really don’t see the relevance of that quality in America. The Orthodox peoples whose churches moved away from Greek language in past centuries already opened a way for successfully translating into English idiom. No one can tell me the AGES initiatives’ English renderings pass muster. I look to OCA translations and settings, because the unmetered chant the OCA wisely adopted from Slavic sources renders clear theology in the contemporary idiom. 
        The big problem with Greek Orthodoxy is their burden of high culture and artistic purism that refuses to even see the need for adaptation. They are blinded by the glitter of their amassed wealth of ecclesiastic art. I just don’t see it surviving much longer. 

        • Your complaint has been noted, Lance. All I’m saying is, the holy Liturgy transcends language. I do not believe the exodus is happening because of language barriers. Furthermore, the Fordhamites like to force this narrative…and if the Fordhamites are pushing it, then I get real suspicious. 

        • Lance I am Greek but I agree with you to great degree. I don’t think it is existence of greek or slavonic per se but the use of when congregations do not understand and a big Sign saying all this is foreign and nothing to do with you..  And even modern greek and russian speakers do not. I sometimes re Church  Greek have to listen very carefully.  
          Here in Bulgaria we have switched to modern bulgarian  since the fall of communism I believe.  Romanian church always after ditching greek in early 19c. .  Hey the Balkan slavs were forced to worship in greek you know by Phanar! . 
          But in USA the Church needs to be american and the language english of poetic, powerful quality.  Now ethnic customs and food etc  should not be banned. They are fun and tasty and part of the tradition of  Faith and as long as do not become the focus, add colour and community effort.  Red eggs and soup avgolemono will always speak of Pascha night to me. 
          Re music. Yes u make good points but, and I am not advocating byzantine music for all, but Capella romana have recorded the full liturgy in english byzantine chant dealing with the problems you bring up. And of course there is harmonised byzantine chant of Great beauty.  And Slav music speaks for itself.  And naturally in time local american tradition can develop.  But liturgical singing needs to be, POWERFUL,  DIRECT.  And ACAPELLA.  
          Here in Bulgaria we have have mostly Slav folk harmonised byzantine chant which is beautiful. 

          • Niko,
            Music is an art, like Icon painting is an art, not a dogma, but it helps one to come closer to God.
            Both old Orthodox arts (icons and music) were the product of fasting and praying to inspire devoutness.
            Orthodox Icons may differ a little from country to country.
            Byzantine music may be used in many countries with small differences to melody depending on the text.
            A few Russians inside Russia are slowly discovering and learning Byzantine Music. But if they have the same devoutness from the Russian Music then that is all that really matters.

            • Ioannis. Thank you for that. Yes agree all you say. And the work of Boston choir etc shows that byzantine music fits in to any language as spanish for instance.  And for me as a greek carries special meaning.  But I fully understand may not for all.  And yes re icons, music is a verbal icon and I make the point that organs etc are equivalent of italianate icons.  Tikey Zes may be better musical art than some lower down the chain effort, but is still the italianate icon on the block!  
              The Russian church in 19th c before the liturgical and musical renewal of the Moscow Synod school of Katalsky  Rachmaninov etc and revival of znamemy chant,  had operatic western style singing which was their ‘ organ ‘ moment. Αnd may saw it as tradition.  Tchaikovsky was met with much critical when he wrote his liturgy  which was the start really of long road back 
              But at end of day we will ‘know’ what is Orthodox  and what is not. And will REJECT what is not.  
              I have faith in american Orthodoxy in end and as we approach Great Lent, to remember our liturgical tradition and its richness and to live it and come close t to Christ as far as we can. Καλή Σαρακοστη φίλε!! 

        • I wonder if St. Anthony Monastery’s “Divine Liturgies Music Project” might hint towards a future of chanted English services at the monasteries founded by Elder Ephraim?


      • Michael, one cannot worship in a language they don’t understand. Yes, they can be passive bystanders but one cannot worship. Greek was my first language and I continue to be fairly fluent but can not even pray the Lord’s Prayer in Greek. Remember the words of St Paul who said, “it is better to speak 5 words in a known language than 10,000 words in an unknown language.”

        • Antiochene Son says

          Vernacular is ideal, but “one cannot worship…” is a hefty overstatement. I’ve attended Slavonic-only services in which I’ve been positively transported to heaven in my mind. Are non-Greek pilgrims to Athos and the Holy Land unable to worship in those places?
          Language matters (many of the Fathers say the services themselves are the most important form of catechesis), but the disposition of the heart matters too.

          Vernacular is important for evangelism and helping people develop that heart, but we can’t be so extreme with our either/or mindsets that we end up in reverse-phyletism.

          • Athos and travel to a foreign land are exceptions. We are talking about parishes in which to raise your family in America: I can follow the slavonic service to some extent (to a lesser extent Greek) with the aid of a transliterated service book. But my family? No way. My neighbors? That isn’t even a serious question. 

            • Antiochene Son says

              Believe me, I understand. I am very much of two minds on this situation.

            • I go to a mixed language parish mostly English with some Greek. You can watch the kids faces when they switch to Greek. They have a moment of disengagement then they quit paying attention for a while and just when they go back to engaging in the service again they throw in some Greek. We have brought friends family and neighbors same deal mixing languages is a huge stumbling block.

          • Antiochan son you have it about right. I worship in bulgarian which is not my language with no trouble.  But of course english should be used and developed, not just as a side line, but as a national language next to all the others used. The monastery in Essex uk of St John Baptist,  used english, German, French, slavonic and of course Greek. 

        • Dear JK,
          I am able to worship in any language. I do not need to understand the language. It is the nous which experiences the Divine Liturgy. It is holy, divine, and mystical.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Mikhail, that is true for you and may the Lord be praised for it. But let us be honest, the words of St Paul are no less true, it is better to say five words in a language someone understands, than not.

            The purpose of the Church is to be our Mother as She is the Bride of Christ. While we are called to theosis, we are not all spiritually elites. Nor should we expect that.

            • George,
              Believe me. I am not in the state of illumination or theosis…nor am I spiritually elite. Forgive me if I have given such an impression.  St. Paul is referring to a different type of tongues. I have seen children perfectly behave during long vigils in other languages….and they don’t understand the language. I will reiterate that it is the eye of the soul (the nous) that understands the Liturgy…not the fallen mind/reason. No one will ever convince me otherwise. I love the Liturgy in the ancient Greek…in the Church Slavonic…and in the Elizabethan style English (that is the way it is done in my parish and I am the choir director). The problem of empty Churches is not because of language.

              • Monk James Silver says

                If what you write is true, why does the Divine Liturgy consist of words at all?  We learn and preserve and convey the Faith by means of the words of all the services
                This is not to be disrespectful of the human actions and divine movements which accompany those words, but there are always words, and they must be understood by the people who speak them, sing them, and hear them.
                The scriptures (PS 46:7-8, for example) tell us  ”Sing to our God, sing!  Sing to our King, sing!  Since God is King of all the Earth, sing with understanding! ‘   It’s clear that we must use words in order to sing.  The last phrase here, psalate synetOs in the standard Greek source text of The Church, insists that we know the meaning of those words.  There is, therefore, an intellectual content to worship in spite of your resistance to it.
                It is unhelpful to adduce the example of small children, to whom all language is simply a collection of (we can hope) pleasant sounds, especially when sung.

                • I am not trying to convince you of anything Monk JS. 
                  Our fallen reason does not need words. We experience the Divine Liturgy through the nous. The example of our children is powerful. They hear the  beautiful hymns in any language and their souls rejoice…and somehow, even the deaf can hear it in their souls.
                   Where is your monastery?

                  • Surely the text enhances and completes the offering of the Divine Liturgy which touches every aspect of our being.
                    My brother, you have offered your voice and body and heart and soul in worship, I beg you to perfect your sacrifice and offer your ears and mind in great attention to the words as well, for an even greater blessing.

                  • Monk James Silver says

                    Contrary to your unusual assertion here, ‘Mikhail’, it is just exactly because our rational powers — along with our human nature as a whole — are fallen that we absolutely need words. Yet even in our use of words, naturally damaged by human sinfulness, we show a reflection of the divine image in which we were created. We read in the scriptures that ‘By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made’ and ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’

                    You protest that you are not trying to convince me of anything, but I am convinced that you are somehow equating your psychological and esthetic feelings with the understanding of your _nous_, and even that of children and the deaf, as if you had some way of knowing how they experience divine worship. This is spiritually perilous, especially as you explicitly reject intellectual discussion.

                    As I was informed by Archbishop Job Osacky, the OCA’s bishop of Chicago at the time, the monastery for which I was tonsured in 1978, the Tikhvin Monastery established the previous year in Louisburg KS, ceased to exist when I left the physical boundaries of the eparchy to begin doctoral studies in theology in New Jersey in 1994. At that time, I was the last remaining monk of that community which was new and fragile, and, or our sins, failed. I have been a solitary monk since 1981

                    • No Monk JS…contrary to your doctoral theological assertion, I will always believe that we do not need to hear the holy Liturgy in our own language.  My “psychological and esthetic feelings” have nothing to do with it.  If you want to believe that children (including the deaf) are incapable of experiencing the Divine Liturgy, that is your prerogative.  And yes, I will always reject intellectual discussion and scholastic bantering in favor of the heart. And I don’t care if  theological doctoral graduates accuse me of being “spiritually perilous” (whatever that is).
                      So you are a solitary monk…in the world…without a community or a monastery…an urban monk of sorts. This is highly unusual. I have never heard of such a thing. You have not been able to find another monastery in almost 40 years!?!

                  • Dear Mikhail,
                    I too love to be in the services when another language is spoken and say the Jesus Prayer at times.  It is also quite wonderful for me to have a book in both English and Greek, especially with phonetics so I can become familiar with Greek a bit and tune in at any time if my mind wanders or I simply wish to be present in a more usual way at an Elder Ephraim monastery.  From having a Greek spiritual father I have learned how rich the Greek language is theologically, so learning Greek would be advantageous to any Orthodox person who cares about Scripture methinks.  Although it is not the one I use there is such a book of the Divine Liturgy in Greek, phonetical Greek and English on Amazon right now you might consider:  If I can find the one I love, I’ll post it.  Mine also has explanations.   If you know of such a book with Slavonic or Russian and English, I would be grateful for the reference.  Best in Christ, Nicole

                    • Thank you, Nicole. I will see if I can find a similar book with the Church Slavonic. It sounds like we have the same spiritual father!

                    • Nicole, I think worship and Greek school are different. Worship was never intended to teach a language. If your desire is to learn Greek, there are several good programs on line. I doubt you will understand the NT in Greek .

      • Michael, one cannot worship in a language they don’t understand. Yes, they can be passive bystanders but one cannot worship. Greek was my first language and I continue to be fairly fluent but can not even pray the Lord’s Prayer in Greek. Remember the words of St Paul who said, it is better to speak 5 words in a known language than 10,000 words in an unknown language.

        • Dear JK,

          I am able to worship in any language. I do not need to understand the language. It is the nous which experiences the Divine Liturgy. It is holy, divine, and mystical.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            It all puts me in mind of Guyal of Sfere’s question of the augur, in Jack Vance’s eponymous story:

            “What are your fees?” inquired Guyal cautiously. “I respond to three questions,” stated the augur. “For twenty terces I phrase the answer in clear and actionable language; for ten I use the language of cant, which occasionally admits of ambiguity; for five, I speak a parable which you must interpret as you will; and for one terce, I babble in an unknown tongue.”

            • A Glasgow painter (and decorator), when asked by a fortune-teller how much it would cost to paint a new sign for her shop  said: “You tell me. You’re the mystic.”
              He did not get the job…

          • Mikhail, your attitude towards language completely disregards the didactic element of worship. Orthodox hymnology is a codification of Orthodox theology. One ot the reasons many Orthdox don’t know the theology of the church is because they don’t understand the hymnology.

            I think you owe the good monk an apology for your ad hominem attack. Great time of the year to seek forgiveness.

            • I am sorry that you do not understand JK. The Liturgy is experienced through the nous…not with the head.
              I have not insulted any monks…and this is the last time I will respond to you on this blog.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Mikahil, I am 100% with Monk James on this one. The Divine Liturgy and, indeed, all of the services in the Church can be experienced noetically but that is far from the only way. The Incarnation demands that all aspects of who we are as human beings is presented and experienced in the Divine Liturgy except sin and we even offer up our sin in repentance.

                While it is true that we can enter into worship in a language that is not known to us, that is a grace, not something to be sought. Indeed one of the most profound senses of worship I have ever experienced was sitting in silence in a Friends meeting one Sunday morning. There was a deep communion going on between the 200 folks who sat and reached for God together. This was before I became Orthodox but on the way. I knew of and deeply respected the partaking of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The experience in the Friends meeting, as profound as it was, left me longing for a deeper communion, more physical in nature. His Body and Blood.

                Our interrelationship with Jesus in conjugal. It is described in our marriage ceremony quite well. Indeed, in every aspect of our services. A significant part of that union is to hear and understand in one’s own language as at Pentecost.

                While I do think that the noetic component can and does make up for imprecise and even faulty translations at times, it is still good to be as precise as possible without becoming pedantic and literal.

                The path of the “noetic only” experience has a touch of Gnosticism in it I fear. He comes down from Heaven and sanctifies everything we offer up, including our language and our bodies.

                You might want to visit the web site Pascha Polyglotta in case you doubt that.

                Besides, if we do not know the language, how do we know who and what is being worshipped? The Evil One is a great deceiver and can counterfeit “noetic” experiences so as to fool or nearly fool great saints and the demons are stalking about just hoping to grab us. I do not know about you, but it is quite easy to be fooled.

                I have read that one of the original functions of the two who stand with candles by those who read the Epistle and Gospel is to confirm that what is being read is actually from an Epistle or actually the Gospel. While mass produced printed word has made that function largely obsolete, it is still not entirely gone I think. All the more reason for quality translations.

                • Michael,
                  I never said that it can only be experienced noetically. My argument is, for me, that I don’t need to hear it in my native tongue (English). I am not seeking noetic experiences. I am the worst of sinners. I am confident that I am not being fooled by demons because I have the protection of my spiritual father through obedience. To imply that I am being drawn into gnosticism is rather insulting. For me, the Liturgy transcends language. I learned this from holy monks and my spiritual father. I am not going to argue this point with you further (or anyone else)…especially during the Great Fast. I respect your opinion on the matter. Forgive me if I have offended you.

  3. The Greek Archdiocese is on the way to become what the Episcopalians are to Anglo-Saxon white Americans….irrelevant. When you meld with the culture there is no reason to go to a church that tells you the same thing the culture does. 
    What will become of the zealous converts and good priests in the Greek Archdiocese? Will they stay? Leave? 

  4. Apparently the good Archbishop has forgotten what those tassels at the bottom of his petrahili really symbolize, for his flock and for himself.

  5. Where is the URL to the quotes that prove he has called for Communion for non-Orthodox? I have seen quotes say 100 percent in our COMMUNITY. I need to see transcript quotes addressing Communion. URL please? More than one?

    • Interesting. Is no one able to provide any kind of URL to remarks that support the very arguments taking place here? I know that I am a journalist. I’d like to see some direct quotes to evaluate.
      Let me add another factual, and relevant, question: Does anyone know what percentage of GOA parishes have fewer than 85 active, contributing members (the number required, in most areas, to pay a priest’s salary)? 

      • Gail Sheppard says

        tmatt, he said it in a question and answer session that was not recorded. We have the “testimony of 2 men” (actually 5 that I have counted).

        • Who are the five?
          I only counted 4 on Facebook:
          Christina P, another woman, and two men, one of whom was citing his wife.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Here are a few I’ve seen on social media writing about it: Apostolos & Christina P., Nikos M., Theodore P., Emily K., Nick P., Jane P., and Greg Pappas who wrote about it on his blog.

            • I saw Emily K, Nick P, Nikos M, and Christina P.
              Where did you get Apostolos, Jane P, and Theodore P saying this? Was Greg Pappas at the Q and A session in particular?

            • Gail,
              Where did Apostolos, Theodore P, and Jane P write about it?
              I only saw the other ones.
              I am not saying that you are wrong, but rather it would be helpful for me to find it myself.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Hal, I saw it on one of our Russian contact’s Facebook page. It was a series of Tweets where people were talking back and forth about it. Not everyone was on the same page about how they felt, as I recall, but they made a point of telling people they were there and it was not “fake news,” as one person reported.

  6. Globalists – the international communists – haven infiltrated the GOA and Constantinople just as they attempted to infiltrate the Russian Church during communism. 
    For what it’s worth, this article on declassified CIA documents shed light on recent and past events:

    • Alitheia 1875 says

      As I recall that didn’t happen because all the bishops of the MP back then were KGB. Perhaps I’m wrong.

  7. My reply is for some comments above. In regards to using English in liturgy and why we Greeks refuse it. Most ethnic Orthodox branches are dying out because of their low number of immigration to the United States. The Greeks on the other hand come in waves. There are about 900.000 Greeks in the tristate. Assimilation was easier in the early 20th century but with the use of technology it is harder as we are more connected to Greece. The constant contact with Greece and the wave after wave of immigrants coming over could spell colonization . However, most Greek immigrants do not plan on staying permanently in America but want to return once they “made a buck”, it is those that remain behind and are assimilated that have issues with Greek liturgy. Those kind of Greeks are Greeks from regions that are occupied by the Turks (Smyrna, Constantinople, Cyprus, Pontus). Most Greeks immigrate out of Greece and return to Greece within a decade or two and again. Greeks migrate back and forth, these migrations are never permanent. We don’t have issues like facing communist rule that wouldn’t allow us to return. Most of us however have issues with English liturgy, either understanding it or bearing to listen to it in the first place. Personally speaking I would stop attending Church if they offered the liturgy in English or even partly English. The OCA is a better Church for converts and assimilated second to fourth generation (insert ethnicity) Americans. Most Greeks prefer to keep the diaspora as alive and as Greek as possible, because most Greeks are depended on it, economically, militarily, tax wise.. etc. The diaspora is our repository. One quarter the people in my unit when I was in the Army were Greek-Americans, Greek-Australians, Greek-Britons. Half of Greece, lives outside of Greece. We need these people for obvious reasons to be connected to the fatherland and not lose their roots just like the German Americans who once used to be an ethnic majority in America with strong cultural ties to Germany and today they are assimilated and lost. The Greek immigrants outnumber the Russian, Serb, Romanian, Bulgarian immigrants and are better connected and organized. They could do vastly better if they want to, but like the Jews they have their own places of worship, their own schools, their own societies, their own newspapers, their own neighborhoods, their own lobby. We are not seeking assimilation, but preservation. We are much alike with the Jews and just like the Jews have the “law of return”, we believe in something similar and many wish to return to Greece. It is the conditions (Corrupt government, endless bureaucracy, the EU domination, and the crashed economy) that prevent many from doing so. Greeks are too attached to their homeland to make a permanent stay anywhere far away from home, because they will be assimilated. Anywhere the Greeks had colonies and permanent populations outside of Greece they were always near the Greek mainlands making travel and contact easy. If you are looking for an Orthodox Church that uses English the OCA, Antioch (Which is Greek in essence), ROCOR is best for you. They are more convert friendly Churches than us. We are interested in preserving our faith, language and identity. It is called Greek Orthodox for a reason and because there are over 3 million Greeks in America, we happen to be a very large Orthodox population, therefore a larger Church. Perhaps now you can see why all attempts to supplant Greek with English in liturgy have failed miserably.. Or you could learn Greek. As for me, I would never attend a Church that has English in their liturgy and I have done that for 4 years due to location even though there were Orthodox and not so “Orthodox” Churches (I know Copts don’t count) around. When Easter came I would fly out. That’s how important the language of the Church is to me.

    • Ag, you have no idea what the Body of Christ is meant to be or for the purpose it was established. Please read the NT to understand the true function and purpose of a Christian Church. What you promote is a Greek club not the Body of Christ. “Convert friendly” is not an option for a church but a command. Simple question for you, do you believe in Lord Jesus Christ, by the way He as a Jew.

    • Antiochene Son says

      The Lord commanded us to go into all nations and baptize them, not go into all nations to take our homes with us, keep them pure, and then return home again after we’ve made a buck.
      So you’re saying Greeks want to keep the Gospel to themselves so it feels more like home? This kind of nukes my charitable mindset of maintaining the mother languages for pastoral reasons, but there is nothing pastoral about telling converts to get lost. I guess, thanks for your honesty though.
      As an aside, this “colonist” mindset needs to be nipped in the bud. The melting pot was fine (I guess), but when ghettos start turning into colonies, it is a matter of national importance.

      • My post addresses not only the language but many things about the GOAA and why it is difficult for that Church to “go under” as some have claimed. As for Church numbers fluctuating, my post suggests that this has to do with back and forth immigration, which mostly accounts for the numbers rising and dropping. In the late 80ies and early 90ies hundreds of thousands of Greeks migrated back to Greece (myself included). But need I remind you two that the Gospel was originally written in Greek and spread throughout the Roman Empire because it was written in Greek. Why is it that the covert populations dislike the fact that Greeks like to listen to their liturgy in Greek and Russians in Russian? Does it divide the Church? Not one bit. If there was such a rule that stated you should be assimilating and erasing their ethnicity for Christ, I assure you we wouldn’t exist today, neither would many other ethnicities. When it was said “There is neither Greek nor Jew”, it meant that everyone has access to the Kingdom regardless of ethnic origin and status in society, it did not mean destroy your culture, language and customs for Christ. On the contrary, the Greeks respect the concept of ethnicity, therefore they bothered to translate their Orthodoxy to old Slavonic and created the Cyrillic alphabet in order to convert the Slavs instead of imposing Greek as the language of the Church like the Latins did in their Western portion of the Church. Did not God himself create the nations? Acts 17:26 “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” Is not Christ the one who will separate each according to his nation on judgement day? Matthew 25:32 “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” I appreciate that your zeal for the faith is your “national” identity, but the world is complex and you can be zealous in the faith and have a national identity.. the past 2,000 years is a testament to that. Do you not identity as Americans after all? So why are you all so bothered when a Greek states that he is a Greek? Did I say “back off” from my Church, you’re not Greek enough? I said, we Greeks, as Greeks that we are, prefer to have our liturgy in Greek and obviously converts will have a hard time. The argument by the first person replying to me that I am supposedly not Christian enough or that I have no clue is laughable enough and I will not bother to address it. My reply is dedicated for the second person, the Antiochian.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Agamemnon, a lot of what you right is true. The devil is in the details however. You vastly overstate the Greek presence in America. According to the last census (2010), barely one million Americans identified as being of “Greek origin”. As for the population of the GOA the best estimates (based on The Orthodox Observer subscription rates) is 120,00 at the outside.

      That is not a recipe for success, or growth. It’s not even a recipe for stasis but further atrophy.

      There’s a Russian saying: “it’s better to see things once than to read about it seven times”.
      We saw this with our own eyes with Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit Q&A last Sunday. The pews were not even half-full. Usually when a bishop visits, all the stops are pulled out and the pews are full.

      Based on my own observations, I think that what was seen at the Assumption Church was par for the course in the GOA.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Agamemnon, what’s most troubling about your (overall) largely correct assessment of the Greek/diasporic existence, is that not once was there any mention of Christ contained therein.

        It is perhaps for this reason that we are seeing the atrophy of the GOA here in America. Even more depressing to me is the complete secularization that is going on in Greece, where we find a “conservative” government going all out to condemn those who are against infanticide.

        • George, of course by the Church I mean Christ as he is the bridegroom. I agree with your stance. I dislike modernism and secularism as much as the next person. As well as the attack on our traditions be it historical or religious. Unfortunately, like every other nation and religion we are infiltrated by individuals in positions of power who believe in the new age “dogmas”. It is a global phenomenon, and Greece is no exception. They infiltrated our government, our foreign policy, our education system. However, I do believe they fight us harder than they fight certain other ethnicities. The current government is just the flip side of the same coin, they are just the same as the previous leftist government, they just wear the mask of “conservatism”. In my opinion they all have to go. They all represent the same system. Democracy has failed Greece and has to go. I don’t believe in representative democracy (I think you will find few Greeks who believe in it). Direct democracy wouldn’t work out for Greece either with its notoriously “Byzantine” bureaucracy. I think the path forward lays with either imperalism\monarchy but it must be preceded by a coup by patriots in the armed forces. Even though this sounds very “tyrannical”, it is sadly the only way forward and the only way to save anything that can be saved. The problem is finding generals, colonels, even captains with the guts to bring down the tanks to Syntagma square and deliver justice. Greece is rotten with corruption, irreligiosity, theft, unjust laws, and lawlessness. It needs order, and a return to tradition and roots. Only the army is large enough and equipped for imposing and maintaining order. Which is why they immediately discharge from the army anyone who mentions the forbidden word “junta”. The ruling “elite” of Greece is very scared of that scenario.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Agamemnon (btw, I love the moniker), you see things in a unique way –in many ways a spiritual way.
            I am more in sympathy with you, especially re secular “democracy”, than you may think.

          • Agamemmon, I’m also in sympathy with you. 
            “Hell is a democracy, but heaven is a kingdom.” 

          • Can’t disagree with that. Being back the Colonels!

        • Being in the tristate area I really dont see a problem with language . Fact is more people know the Christ is Risen hymn in Greek rather than english.  Orthodoxy just like the broader christianity will continue to decrease no matter what you do. Simple fact is people just dont want to be Christian anymore. They simply dont believe in it, everyone has people in their families who consider it fairly tales. 

          • Michael Bauman says

            Gus, it is not the Christ is Risen that is the problem. I love it in Greek even though that is the only Greek I know or will ever know. While it is certainly possible to worship in a language one does not know, it certainly creates unnecessary barriers for newcomers.

            I do not hold to “English only” services. I worship in an Antiochian parish and the chanters are able to chant in English, Greek and Arabic sometimes back to back. It is a good thing.

      • I apologize for the many posts. I didn’t see these replies until after they were posted. I guess it depends on different experiences George, when I went to Chicago I barely found a Greek who knew to speak the language, and those who did spoke with what you call “broken down” Greek. Not even the Hispanics speak Spanish in Chicago. Things are different in the East Coast, where the majority speaks fluently on the streets. As for Church attendance, I would say our Church is pretty full even on Sundays. But you know Greeks, the vast majority shows up for Church only on major holidays like Christmas and Easter.
        As for the census, there as asterisk claiming that the number could well be in the three million as not everyone partakes in the census for their own reason. I know my aunt and her family did, but the other four sisters and two brothers did not. As for me, I was in Greece at the time serving in the army. I doubt the accuracy of these census as many don’t like being probed in the first place. None of my relatives are subscribers to the Orthodox Observer, and to be quite honest, this is the first time I hear of this newspaper. Subscriptions and censuses are not as as accurate as one may believe. Your guess is as good as mine. The real number is probably known by the Greek government, and even that is by estimates. Anyways, I reached my quota posting around in blogs and forums for the day. Be blessed!

      • Ioannis. Thank you for that. Yes agree all you say. And the work of Boston choir etc shows thst byzantine music fits in to any language as spanish for instance.  And for me as a greek carries special meaning.  But I fully understand may not for all.  And yes re icons, music is a verbal icon and I make the point that organs etc are equivalent of italianate icons.  Take Zes may be better musical art than some lower down the chain effort, but is still the italianate icon on the block!  
        The Russian church in 19th c before the liturgical and musical renewal of the Moscow Synod school of Katalsky  Rachmaninov etc and revival of znamemy chant,  had operatic western style singing which was their ‘ organ ‘ moment. Αnd may saw it as tradition.  Tchaikovsky was met with much critical when he wrote his liturgy  which was the start really of long road back 
        But at end of day we will ‘know’ what is Orthodox  and what is not. And will REJECT what is not.  
        I have faith in american Orthodoxy in end and as we approach Great Lent, to remember our liturgical tradition and its richness and to live it and come close t to Christ as far as we can. Καλή Σαρακοστη φίλε!! 

      • george you are correct.  I saw this in Southampton UK, at Great Friday, young people there openly saying they knew nothing of what was going on. Yes I know, when did they ever bother to read or look up on net etc? ,  or attend, but fact is there they stood. One with english friend as if in an exotic native happening.  That is not a way forward for anything. 
        Yes for me to worship in greek with never a word in english  is perfect. But outside of Greece and for me, The Church is not just for little old me!   But for that young man. At least if he understanding the words, it might be a start. Still the quality of TRANSLATION, but that another discussion. 
        U know these are the issues we need to be discussing over and above politics of church. But Sadly the times……!!! 

    • “In Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew”. I always puzzled on exactly how the cognitive dissonance was managed on that Sundays this is read when I was in a parish with mostly Greek language Liturgy and heavy ethnic focus.

  8. This is Bad news if it’s true… this could drive many to Russian church

    • Sage,
      Do you mean ROCOR? I doubt many Greek Americans would make that transition. The Moscow Patriarchate has precious few churches in America so that’s not even a potential. 
      But I’m not naive so I’ll interpret your brief statement liberally to mean you think it’s bad if Greek Americans leave the churches administered out of Istanbul and go to churches administered out of Washington DC and Syosset, Long Island, to whit the Orthodox Church in America which continues to be called ‘The Russian Church’ by those who deny its Autocephaly after half a century of its establishment.
      Please explain why third, fourth, fifth generation Americans would be ill served by worshiping in their native language  and giving tithes to a Local administration without bakşiş to an Islamist regime? How is it that the veneration of dozens of saints who served Christ and died on this American continent would vitiate American Orthodox people’s piety? Do you expect that if these American Orthodox people of Greek ancestry finally shirked their foreign overlords they would lose something essential to their salvation in Christ? 
      I certainly hope this is not what you are implying. 

      • Lance: “Do you mean ROCOR? I doubt many Greek Americans would make that transition. The Moscow Patriarchate has precious few churches in America so that’s not even a potential.”

        There are plenty of jurisdictions together. OCA, Antiochians, ROCOR, Serbians, etc …
        There are also Old Calendarists that can be reconciled in one of the those jurisdictions. Some Greeks can establish their own. Little messy, but not the first time in history.
        Either way, those who put Orthodoxy before ethnicity will find a way. They will.

      • Lance,
        well in NYC there’s Russian church to escape to in case the Left destroys it… and my Russian Elder who tonsured me as a small schema monastic (I don’t live in monastery) is very kind to us Greek Orthodox;
        he speaks Greek & was friendly with late Elder Ephraim who I admire. So Ephraim monasteries are what I’d consider better church IF our poor Greek Orthodox ecclesia crashes & burns by the Left.

  9. George do you happen to know:
    Is Mr Pappas an archon?
    Was a Divine Liturgy served at the Conference and if so did he commune and from whom?
    Has Abp Elpi communed a known active homosexual?
    For those concerned about transcripts versus oral deviations, often occurs during Q and A or spontaneously as departure from written planned text or sadly at times by design to confine the audience for novel ideas to those present  to plant seeds/test the waters  

    • George Michalopulos says

      Nicole, I have no way of knowing the answers to your questions. As for the original words to that effect (i.e. open Communion), they are reported in Mr Post’s own blog. I imagine that we should take him at his word.

    • NEVER trust a homosexual in position of power … we’ve tragically seen what’s happened since official “gay marriage “, they’re emboldened to sue & destroy people’s lives!!
      God Help Us from scourge of PC propaganda infiltrating our Orthodox Churches!

    • Interesting theory, Nicole. 
      Sometimes speakers plant questions in audiences.
      It is not a usual public question to ask if a spouse who is heterodox can commune, because the answer is already well known for the EO and RC churches. Any priest or bishop could have answered that kind of mundane pastoral question. Plus, the questioner wasnt asking about anything in the content of the Abp’s speech. Conceivably though a questioner who wants the EOs to change their position on the topic could have used a public forum like this to pressure the hierarchs to change their well known position. Or conceivably there are poorly catechatized laity who are unsatisfied with their pastor’s answer, and who out of curiosity and on a lark would use a public forum with a hierarch to get an official answer.
      So it is a bit of an unusual question for the person to ask unless the questioner wants to advocate a certain position, and the unusual question just *happens* to dovetail with the Abp’s new position on the question.
      Based on the EP’s recent closed door approach to decisionmaking like when the EP dissolved the Russian Exarchate, surreptitiously putting this new policy out orally in an unrecorded Q and A session for a group of influential church leaders to test the waters for a new policy and tincture the waters with a new idea is the kind of thing that they might try to do.

  10. Meanwhile the Antiochians have decided not to go to Jerusalem. As a convert in an Antiochian parish, I am deeply ashamed of their weakness. If we can have different jurisdictions side by side here in the US and get along, surely they can set aside their differences for THREE DAYS to deal with this massive crisis threatening the Church.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Our patriarch is in a difficult position. We’ve been out of communion with Jerusalem for 6 years now, and while they did extend an olive branch in hosting the synaxis in Jordan to allow the Antiochians to attend, there has been no real effort to fix the problem in Qatar that caused this schism in the first place.
      Indeed, it appears the Jerusalem Patriarchate has been spreading misinformation about the state of those talks in order to pressure Patriarch John to attend. As it stands, the pronouncement of the Holy Synod from 2014 stating Antioch will not participate in any pan-Orthodox initiative to which Jerusalem is a party remains in effect until that schism is healed.
      The issue is that if Antioch went to the synaxis without fixing the Qatar issue, the act of setting the matter aside would in effect cede the issue to Jerusalem.  There is also the matter of Jerusalem trying to remove a speck while they have a log in their own eye. (Of course, that matter is also a demerit to the EP, because he refuses his own trumpeted role as chief mediator among churches.)
      None of this is to say I’m happy that Antioch isn’t going. I’m quite sad they aren’t. But as with the Crete council, Antioch is approaching the matter from a different angle than the other churches, with its own concerns tied up in the situation beyond choosing sides between Moscow and Constantinople, which OrthoChristian notes in the article.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Speaking of which:

        In the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem convened today, Friday, February 21, by Patriarch Theophilos III, various matters relating to the Patriarchate’s ministry were discussed, including the pending matter with the Patriarchate of Antioch relating to Qatar.

        It was asserted by Patriarch Theophilos that since the two Primates met together mid last year in Cyprus, dialogue has been taking place between the two Patriarchates on the matter.

        In today’s Synod, Patriarch Theophilos positively commended the position of Patriarch John X of Antioch in welcoming Jerusalem’s initiative for Orthodox Unity being held as the “Amman Fraternal Gathering” even though a resolution between both Patriarchates, regarding Qatar, had not yet been concluded.

        Patriarch Theophilos briefed the members of the Synod that, with gratitude to the Almighty, in the last weeks, concrete understandings have been reached with Antioch for a resolution to this matter.

        The Primate of Jerusalem concluded that Jerusalem is looking forward to next week’s familial gathering of Orthodox Primates, with hope for continued dialogue towards the precious unity amongst brothers, as well as keenness for the opportunity to further discuss with Patriarch John X of Antioch in order to reach a final agreement on the matter of Qatar.

        Source: Patriarchate of Jerusalem

    • It is probably due to the mutual conflict with JP and may be using it as leverage.
      The good thing is that the Antioch Church (worldwide) is about only 1% of the total Orthodox population, whilst MP has about 60%!

      • Ioanni, if two of the four remaining Patriarchs from the original Pentarchy had gone, it would have added substance – particularly given Antioch’s historical role (not that of Constantinople) in the original granting of Autocephaly to Georgia. I suspect the State Department crocodiles will have even wider smiles tonight.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Ioannis says: “The good thing is that the Antioch Church (worldwide) is about only 1% of the total Orthodox population, whilst MP has about 60%!”

        …and getting smaller by the minute due primarily to US foreign policy decisions in the Obama administration that unleashed havoc in the region. Of course the Clinton administration bombing Serbia on Pascha Now the Trump administration is trying to finish off the EP.


        • Michael,
          Yes, I think I know what you mean but I am not sure.
          I said that was the good thing, meaning from the point of you of the importance of the Amman Meeting.
          There are two parameters:
          (1) The truth and the will of God which does not depend on the Faithful population size.
          (2) the human leverage on Bart. & in the Ukraine situation which does depend on the the size of the Orthodox population in favor of the Amman Meeting.
          I think the concensus here is that we are both (1) and (2).
          If your Church is Antioch then welcome to the club, mine is (still) the Church of Greece. Neither went to Amman.
          It would do no harm if you Antiochian US people sent a letter to Antioch P.
          The Greeks are writing to GA every day.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Ioannis, I am in Antioch. I am blessed by being a part of a cathedral parish with a resident bishop, His Grace Bishop BASIL who is a man of God and of love. Many of the founding families came from the Diocese of Homs in southern Syria. It has been laid waste at a time when the Met. there was in the process of rebuilding it and strengthening it.

    • I would not expect much, if anything, to come out of the Jordan conference.  The MP only excommunicated Constantinople, and those others recognizing the OCU, by reason of the uncanonical encroachment on its own territory.  Until then, they had left the question of eastern papalism to the Greeks.  We in the Church of Russia were having none of it, but what is it to us, really?  The ROCOR on its own might have been more decisive but, reunited, the line seems to be “Why react to this?  We can still expand and strengthen the Church of Russia at home and abroad irrespective of Greek mythology.  How many divisions does Bartholomew have?”  Thus the policy of ignoring the whole spectacle.
      The Jordan meeting does not seem to be in contemplation of any ultimatum to Constantinople.  Absent that, what is there to discuss really?
      I assume how this will play out is that the schism between the Church of Russia and Constantinople will harden.  Perhaps others may also excommunicate Constantinople on principle, but my guess is that most will simply be content by withholding recognition of the OCU.
      Probably the decisive split into two confessions will have to await the formal proclamation of a Unia by Constantinople sometime around or before the 2025 anniversary of Nicea I.  The local churches do not see the heresy of sine paribus spreading beyond the Greeks (since it is nothing more nor less than a projection of perceived Greek self-interest) and thus it is not a front burner issue, especially not with the new government in Kiev.
      Depending on how adventurous Bartholomew gets between now and 2025, they may regret having not acted decisively, but I just don’t see it happening now.
      I would offer one caveat, though.  These people are meeting in Amman for a reason, it just may not be apparent what it is now or even shortly after the meeting.  Antioch’s absence is a serious mistake.  Constantinople and Alexandria have already crossed the Rubicon.  Antioch has not.  Thus to those who see the split over the OCU as a permanent one, Antioch now leads the diptychs.  The more Antioch avoids exercising this responsibility, the more it will be seen as abdicating it in favor of Jerusalem, the next in line. 
      Having a heresiarch as first among equals is bad enough.  No one wants that replaced with a candle in the wind.

      • I agree with much of what you say, Misha…especially the part about Antioch committing a serious lapse in judgement. I see a future where the various Orthodox Churches begin to slowly (or more quickly for some) gravitate to either Constantinople’s uniatism….or the traditionalism of Russia/Serbia.  The laity will need be sure to stay with a Hierarch who decides to follow patristic Orthodoxy. Perhaps Bartholomew and Elpi should start parading some of the OCU schismatics to many different Churches and Monasteries around the world so we can see who decides to concelebrate with them…then the people will know who to avoid.

  11. I guess it depends on different experiences George, when I went to Chicago I barely found a Greek who knew to speak the language, and those who did spoke with what you call “broken down” Greek. Not even the Hispanics speak Spanish in Chicago. Things are different in the East Coast, where the majority speaks fluently on the streets. As for Church attendance, I would say our Church is pretty full even on Sundays. But you know Greeks, the vast majority shows up for Church only on major holidays like Christmas and Easter.

  12. Michael Bauman says

    There is a fundamental misconception about marriage in all of this: Marriage is marriage precisely as it partakes of the spirit and the reality of the Cross. Indeed the marriage crowns partake of the crown of martyrdom. Anything less is not marriage–at best a social or ideological convenience to allow people to feel good about themselves. We say to those suffer from same sex attraction to remain celebrate and give glory to God. What of those who are attracted to those not in communion with the Church, i.e., Jesus Christ?

    My own dear wife was not in communion when we met, but I knew right away it was only for lack of an opportunity and that Jesus was kindly using me as a way to get her here. She has always been Orthodox in heart.

    I am not talking about “conversions” that are on the surface only either. God has always warned us against unequal unions. They are particularly problematic when children are introduced, these “olive shoots around your table” often wither and die because of what some have called “interfaithless marriages”.

    Without God, all marriages tend to wither and die from the weight of selfishness in both parties. It is hard enough in the best of cases. Allowing non-Orthodox spouses to approach and receive the Eucharist will not help the marriage. In fact, it may hasten its demise.

    The fact there is not a quick and firm denial on the part of the GOA on the idea, indicates to me that, whether stated or not, it is the actual practice going forward. Silence means consent.

  13. Tim R. Mortiss says

    We got married just once, in 1967, in her Roman Catholic church. I was a member of the Presbyterian church two blocks down from her church. We live today about 6 city blocks from both. Inasmuch as we are close on to 53 years of marriage, my views on the subject differ from yours. I have considerable experience from which I derive my opinions.
    The ‘olive shoots around the table’ live and thrive, thanks be to God. We two now add up to 24 total, counting the recently-added grandsons-in-law; a granddaughter-in-law is expected to qualify in June.
    I have belonged to two churches in my life, that is to say, two ‘parishes’, not just two “denominations’.
    One, the said Presby church from infant baptism to age 66. The other, the GOA parish I joined six years ago.
    So I am a man of settled habits; for better or worse– not given to being tossed about by alarums and excursions.

  14. Gail Sheppard says

    On another note, Pope Francis is doing “his thing.”  He wants to make sure our “young Orthodox priests and monks have a positive experience of the Catholic Church and the city of Rome.”

    Eighteen young Orthodox priests and monks are spending this week in Rome at the invitation of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
    The study visit is aimed at deepening their understanding of the Catholic Church.

    Pope Francis welcomed the group to the Vatican in an audience on Friday, and took the opportunity to send a special greeting to the Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
    Exchanging gifts of the Spirit
    “Every visit brings a sharing of gifts,” the Pope said.
    He recalled Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth to share her joy at having received God’s gift.
    “Like Mary and Elizabeth,” he said, “the Churches carry with them a variety of gifts of the Spirit, to be shared for their mutual joy and benefit.”
    The Orthodox group’s visit to Rome, said the Pope, is both an opportunity to learn about the Catholic Church and “a chance for us Catholics to receive the gift of the Spirit that you bring.”
    Acknowledging God’s grace
    Pope Francis went on to thank God for the grace bestowed upon the group.
    “Everything begins there,” he said, “with our acknowledgement of grace, with our recognition of God’s gracious work, with our belief that He is the source of the goodness within us.”
    He called this “the beauty of the Christian vision of life.”
    The Pope said he was grateful to God for the “witness given by your Oriental Orthodox Churches.
    “For yours are Churches that have sealed their faith in Christ in blood and that continue to sow seeds of faith and hope, even in areas often, tragically, scarred by violence and war.”
    Bearing fruit in visible communion
    Pope Francis also expressed his hope that the young Orthodox priests and monks have had a positive experience of the Catholic Church and the city of Rome.
    “May your presence,” he concluded, “become a small but fruitful seed that will bear fruit in visible communion between us, in that full unity that Jesus ardently desires.”
    Study group members
    The study group is made up of 3 members each from the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church [See of Etchmiadzin and See of Cilicia], the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.
    They hail from Egypt, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, India, and Ethiopia.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Ah, yes the fruit of dialog. The modern day method of destruction of all good. St. Mark of Ephesus pray for the souls of these young priests that they may not be tempted from the true faith.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Heck, if the Pope invites me to Rome for a few days, I’m going!
        I was there once, 35 years ago. A great experience. (Not by papal invitation, I hasten to add…)

    • Too bad Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus wasn’t invited!

    • Yes, introducing them to all the gays and pro-gays the Pope has appointed. Lovely. I’ve been on pilgrimage to Rome three different times, loved it, so many saints buried there, but have little desire to go there now. Sad.

    • None of those guys are even Orthodox.

  15. Greg poses an interesting question about the biblical passage”…in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek…”, and how Greeks would react to that when it’s read in Church. Maybe I can give some insight. I have a paperback New Testament in the contemporary, demotic Greek language. It’s an official translation with primaturs by the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria and Jerusalem, and the Archbishop of Athens. In passages like Gal.3:28, where the original Greek mentions “…there is neither Jew nor Greek…”, this translation into demotic Greek says”…there is neither Jew nor idol-worshipper…”. There is an asterisk for a reference in the glossary that expands on idol-worshiper by refering to the   word ethnikoi which it says are the nations that worshiped idols or idol-worshippers. Similar references to Greeks are also translated as idol-worshipers(eitholotatres) or gentiles, nations(ethnikoi, ethne) and the word Greek is not used.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I wonder why they would replace “Greek” with “idol-worshiper”. It’s almost as if “Greek” deserves the same exalted status as the Church. In other words, Greek=Christianity; its not just an ethnicity.

  16. Gail Sheppard says

    Guess Bishop Kyrillos of Erythres isn’t the sunflower Elpi is/was.  Wonder what Kyrillos did to offend eminent theological circles.  Inquiring minds want to know.   
    ” . . . However, the new Abbot of the Holy Trinity Monastery of Halki, Bishop Kyrillos of Erythres, has allegedly made a bad impression on the Phanar and some eminent theological circles. They accuse him of not being able to cope at the moment with the actions and initiatives necessary for the achievement of his tasks. On the other hand, they say, he obscures and undoes the whole work of his predecessor, and is even allegedly making comments against him, which, in turn, has caused even greater reactions against him.”

    An Archon is going to save the day and pay for all the renovations at Halki.  It’s like some tectonic shift has happened in the Phanar’s favor.* All this money is coming in to fund Bartholomew’s special projects: First St. Nicholas and now Halki.
    ” . . . He expressed special thanks to the Board of Trustees and to the Archon Exarchos of the Great Church of Christ, Athanasios Martinos, for his decision to assume the cost of the renovation of the facilities of the Halki Theological School.”

    * Could it be because there is no longer any hope that there will be a Council of any consequence on Ukraine? The fat lady has sung. Antioch abdicated her voice in the single greatest challenge the Church has faced since 1054 and over what? Qatar, which is roughly the size of Los Angeles County with about a fourth of the population. As closely tied as Putin is to the MP, I wonder how anxious he is going to be to make good on his offer to rebuild Churches in Syria to bring back the Christians. I guess to Antioch, being right about Qatar is SO much more important than Christ’s Church or even the Christians they claim to represent. Got to fix these little squabbles between patriarchates before we can even BEGIN to worry about the Church as a whole, right? Priorities, people! (Snark Off)

    • Stefan Evgenii Kuznetsov says

      You know Gail, this is how I was thinking. I always thought we could rely on Antioch. In WWII (VoV) to us Russians, Antioch was the only one to stand with us. That the Jerusalem and Antioch scrobble can sabotage the most important decision of the Church in the modern age is astounding. 

      • I could not agree with you more, Stefan. I am Antiochian and could not possibly be more let down and disillusioned with their pettiness.

        • Theo it’s pitiful.  We seem to have a generation in power across the board who are without a spine or any morals apart from self comfort.  Words of sacrine meaninglessness. 

        • Christian Cate says

          Then we must return to our prayers, for only through our fervent prayers and appeals to God’s Mercy and assistance do we have hope for a resolution.  With man, things may seem impossible, but with God all things are possible.
          Lord, Have Mercy!
          Christ Have Mercy!

  17. From Archbishop Elpidophoros’ Greeting to L100 Executive Committee, February 19, 2020:

    “This is more than a leap of faith… it is the event horizon of a limitless future for our Church…”
    What is “the event horizon?”
    “The ‘event horizon’ is the boundary defining the region of space around a black hole from which nothing (not even light) can escape.”
    Lord, have mercy!

    • Alternatively, “in astrophysics, an event horizon is a boundary beyond which events cannot affect an observer”. [Wikipedia]
      If ElpiBart’s theological spaceship were to disappear beyond it, what’s not to like?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        When my son was a toddler, I saw him in the bathroom with the door half-open doing something that required flushing the toilet over and over again. Call it a mother’s instinct or just the special powers God gave me because He knew I would need them to be Chase’s mom, but I instantly knew something was up and it was not good. I threw open the door and found my little son in his footed pajamas throwing my jewelry into the toilet and flushing it. Gone was my great grandmother’s wedding ring. Gone were my diamond earrings. Gone was the little opal birthstone my mother got for her 13th birthday. When I asked him what in the world he was doing his only response was that they looked pretty going round and round in the bowl. – That’s kind of how I feel with Bartholomew. He’s dumping our jewels into a black hole and watching them go round and round.

      • RE: “If ElpiBart’s theological spaceship were to disappear beyond it, what’s not to like?”
        Sadly, I have loved ones who are still aboard that “spaceship” who still don’t see the difference between it and the “Ark of Salvation.”

  18. A priest analyzes Abp. Elpidophoros’ October 2019 address on the topic:

    • Gail Sheppard says

      May God bless this man and protect him, for telling the truth these days is not well received.

    • Monk James Silver says

      I sent the following comment to this essay:
      Father Emmanuel, while I generally agree with the points you raise here, I think that you are remiss in two areas.
      First, you neglected to explain why the canons of the Ecumenical Synods make provisions for receiving some heretics but not others by means other than Baptism. Here, I’m referring specifically to Canon 19 of the First Ecumenical Synod (Nikaia A.D. 325), Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Synod (Constantinople, A.D. 381), and Canon 95 of the Sixth (or Fifth-Sixth) Ecumenical Synod (in the Troullos Hall at Constantinople, A.D. 680-681). In any event, there are some exceptions, even if all of them are no longer in effect, and that must be acknowledged.
      Second, and perhaps more importantly, there is no direct quotation from Abp Elpidophoros anywhere to be found in which he specifically says that the heterodox spouses of Orthodox Christians may receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. There are many interpretations of his other words all over the Internet, but nothing which asserts this directly, and it would be prudent to wait for a clarification from him before reacting.
      May this holy fast be a blessing to you and yours.