Calling a Spade a Spade

This just in 

from our friends at the YouTube channel “Orthodox Church” (Bookmark it, it’s really good).

It appears that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All-Russia, is going to summon a council of all 370 bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church to discuss the growing fissures that have been set in motion by Patriarch Bartholomew. The meeting will take place later this month and its purpose is to define and decide if the Greek Churches in Communion with the un-ordained Ukrainian nationalist schismatics are in fact schismatic. (In addition, all ninety bishops of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church will attend as well.)

I imagine that spades will be indeed be called spades.


  1. vladimir ko says

    Challenge: best name for the Orthodox Churches that have become schismatic …
    Greek Catholic Church of Constantinople?Greek Catholic Church of Greece?
    Maybe I’m not creative enough.
    (Since they aren’t Orthodox at the moment after concelebrating with schismatics and will probably follow Bartholomew into union with Rome.)

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      The EP is already Admiral-Bishop of the Atlantic, Pacific, and All the Ocean Seas. That and the Barbarian Lands will all have to be given up….I suggest the Greek Catholic Church of Asia Minor, Armenia, Persia, and All the East.

  2. I subscribe to the Orthodox Church channel and find it to be of great value.
    This will have major repercussions on world Orthodox, or, should I say will solidify them. If the Church of Russia does indeed decide that the Churches of Alexandria and Greece are schismatic, which I assume they will if going by the cannons, there will be schisms in each the Alexandrian and Greek Churches, as not all agree with the decisions to recognize the schismatics. 

    If the Church of Constantinople is also found to be schismatic, which I also suspect will also be yes, then what does that mean for GOARCH? Are all parishes under a patriarchate in the diaspora to be considered schismatic, or, only in the “homeland.” This is not an issue with the Church of Greece or Alexandria as as far as I know they do not have diaspora parishes.

    If the former is the case, what are those of us to do who do not fall under Moscow or Constantinople (I am Antiochian). I suppose that based on what I have seen, I will not be attending another parish or monastery under GOA until all is sorted out. 

    We should all be greatly saddened by this and should beg God for aid. These are people’s eternal souls we are talking about and it should bring us pain that they are being led to perdition. Lord Have Mercy 

    • Alitheia1875 says

      Well, if any of your bishops are in communion with Constantinople, Greece or Alexandria then you are too. As with Moscow. Some people who contribute to this blog don’t seem to understand that it doesn’t matter what one wants to do, you cannot separate yourself from your bishop. You can’t simply say you don’t agree with your bishop. What ever he does you are doing also. What this all means is that people will really have to start taking sides. You have to decide which bishop (i.e. which synod) you will follow.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Along the same lines, it isn’t enough for you to say you love your priest and your parish. If you don’t love the Church MORE than a person or a group of people, you are not committed to the Faith. We all have our preferences, but Alitheia1875 is right. You have to (first) decide which bishop you will follow and then find a priest and a parish you like. It doesn’t work the other way around.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          Interesting concept. I never knew who my bishop was until I found a priest and a parish. Do people who come to the Orthodox church actually decide what bishop they will follow, first?
          It would be interesting to meet such a person. They must exist. But my experience of converts besides myself is that they choose a congregation and a priest, first, because never before in their experience has it been a issue– true?
          It was an OCA bishop, Bp. Basil Rodzianko, who played a very large part in my own conversion (many years after I encountered him), but I converted in a GOA church because it was in my city.
          I must candidly say, Gail, that it is novel to me that one “first” must decide which bishop to follow when one chooses an Orthodox church in a country that has so many jurisdictions….hadn’t even considered that myself.
          Maybe it’s a question of which blog to “follow”….
          Let’s hear from some GOA members who are leaving the GOA, as opposed to those on the sidelines….

          • Gail Sheppard says

            That was before Ukraine. – Not everyone will care. But for those who do, being outside the canonical Church will be a problem.

            • Ms. Sheppard, It appears you’ve never mixed it up with a proud Greek Orthodox. Such consider a y talk of contradiction or questioning of Fener policy anathema, anti-greek, Pro-Russian (Putin). There are also the kind that don’t follow the news at all but will stay Greek Orthodox no matter what and they don’t care what it means. A third type would just as soon be atheist and will become so if church becomes too problematic. 
              I’ve never met anyone who was conscious of episcopal affiliation in any jurisdiction. Many OCA people think they are attending a Russian church. 

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Tim, the decision is more about being Orthodox, which requires one to be under a bishop in the canonical Church. One wouldn’t necessarily have to know him.

            Question: If everything were the same, i.e. the people were the same, the priest was the same, and the location was the same, would you have joined your parish if it wasn’t Orthodox?

            • When I decided to become Orthodox, I knew neither parish nor priest nor bishop. On checking, I found that there was only one Orthodox church in Glasgow – the Greek one in the Diocese of Thyateira and Great Britain under the EP. So, after attending services for some years, that was the one I joined. I was catechised by a theology student who is now both a Greek Orthodox priest (in Edinburgh) and my Godfather.
              I love Orthodoxy. I love the local parish. Such family as I now have were found through my local parish church. I have been an outsider most of my life, but here I found a home. Now, the foundations of that home are being undermined by Patriarch Bartholomew – The Man Who Would Be King(?), Pope-let(?), Simon Magus(?). Archbishop Nikitas has (as far as I know) made no public statement of his opinion on the matter, but I’m sure that, when push comes to shove, he will have to.
              Should I have to leave this parish, I would be devastated. Where would I go? There is now both a Russian and a Romanian parish in Glasgow, so I would have somewhere to go. However, as the parish was largely founded by Cypriots (who compose much of the congregation) and it is by no means certain that Cyprus will follow Bartholomew, I need not despair yet.

              • Alitheia1875 says

                Archbishop Nikitas doesn’t have to make a statement. He is part of the EP, therefore you are part of the EP. Whatever the Patriarch says and does the Archbishop says and does. And that goes for every bishop, of any rank, and all priests and laymen.  

                • Tom Spyrou says

                  It seems some readers think we are no more than robots and automatons. When one is Eastern Orthodox one does not surrender their ability of rational thought. That goes for clergy and laymen. Now clergy are highly constrained through parish assignments, pension plans, diocese work assignments, etc. In actuality there is very little control a bishop has on a regular lay member. Keep them out of Sunday School teaching,  parish council, youth work. But would they even bother to throw one out of the choir or serve as a psalti? I doubt it. I hope the ROC pushes for a Council and not more Communion breaking, at least not now. It’s so sad that church brings us so much anxiety. I just try to remember God is in control.
                  Tom S.

                • Either Nikitas is a bishop or he is not a bishop. If he is a bishop, then as a bishop he is equal to Bartholomew – as a bishop. All the ‘Arch…’ stuff has to do with earthly organisation – not with his position as pastor to our flock.
                  “Whatever the [Primate] says and does the Archbishop says and does. And that goes for every bishop, of any rank, and all priests and laymen.”
                  I take it you do not believe in conciliarity then?
                  Anyway, the two Seraphims (of Kythera and Piraeus in the Church of Greece) would dispute your contention, I think – particularly when it come to the schismatics of the OCU.

                  • Tom S. and Brendan,
                    All Patriarchs, Archbishops and bishops are indeed equal Bishops.
                    Read apostle St.Paul and the early church and canons. 
                    The newer additional titles actually denote like a specialised organizational coordination etc.
                    Now because of the usual human temptations like glory, greed, etc,
                    some bishops have profited from the coordinating function, they had to accumulate power and they call it tradition.
                    Read Canon 28 plus the interpretation!
                    There many things a bad”coordinating” Bishop can do to induce other bishops. Similarly a Bishop can intimidate a priest. Also in some cases if some laity are completely uninformed then some priest can take advantage of them and intimidate them.
                    The only people that no Patriarch, Bishop, Priest can intimidate are those who know the basics of the canons, the faith and the scriptures AND who are not dependent on Bishops eg salary-wise etc.  
                    the informed laity (no church employees) have nothing to fear. They can speak up.
                    The clergy will fear and obey their “superiors” unless they do not care for there position in the church or their salary.

              • There is a St Gabriels, a parish of the Archdiocese in western Europe which is now under Patriach Kyril having suffered under the EP. It traditionally has good relations with your St Lukes, although I know that some Greeks who attended St Gabriels weekday liturgies and were friends with that amazing parish  have ceased attending simply because they did not bend to the EP, which is sad. The monks at St Gabriels are diamond souls.

            • This thread speaks to the dilemna affecting my relationship for well over the past year.

              My significant other and I are both converts to the faith (she through GOAA; me through the OCA). Although I am more inclined to the Russian tradition, I transferred to the GOA parish she attended so we could attend service together.

              From the time of the EP’s uncanonical incursion into Ukraine, I could no longer, in good conscience, commune in a church under his direct jurisdiction. I felt, in doing so, that I would be acquiescing to – and tacitly supporting – his agenda.

              In the months that followed, as the EP’s papalist pretensions became more clear, more and more dominoes followed in quick succession: Archbishop Elpidophoros’ affirmation of the EP as the “first without equals”; the rubber-stamping of the schismatic OCU by the GOAA; the capitulation by the Greek church; the welcoming of the imposter metropolitan by the Archons in New York; the betrayal by Patriarch Theodore; the “double-mindedness” of Mt. Athos, etc. As of this past summer, I could no longer remain in the GOA, even as an observer. I now attend a ROCOR parish alone, while also retaining some ties to the OCA.

              My better half was always more invested in the GOA, at least at the parish level. She has given much of her time and resources (in fidelity to stewardship), serves on the parish council, and has established numerous close relationships within the parish. To be fair, there is much to commend about the particular parish in question. It may well represent the “best” of what the GOA has to offer.

              She is well-aware of my reasons for why I stopped communing, before leaving the archdiocese entirely. There is substantial agreement between us on some of the most egregious concerns (e.g. disagreeing with the actions of the EP in Ukraine). Yet, she is loyal to the parish where she was baptized/ confirmed, to the priest who performed the sacramental acts, and to the relationships formed, from that point to the present. From my perspective, she does not see the inextricable connection between life at the parish level with the decisions made by the GOAA and, indeed, the EP. For her, she can disagree (or not) with the hierarchy, but that has no bearing on the act of communing, or her continuing presence in the parish community.

              I wanted us to be united in mind and heart regarding this all-important issue of faithfulness to what it fundamentally means to be Orthodox. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, the laity must take responsibility for decisions made by the hierarchy – especially when it veers into the heretical. So, here matters stand. Services come and go, and she and I go to our respective destinations. We don’t even talk about the “larger picture” anymore, so as to avoid conflict. It’s heartbreaking, and shows no signs of abating – based on the entrenched position of the Hellenists, and Russia’s soon-to-come, canonically-faithful response. Please pray for us, as we navigate these very dark waters.

              P.S. With great sadness have I followed the chaos unfolding in the Orthodox world over the past year. Thanks be to God that Russia has taken the stand that it has, like a voice crying out in the wildnerness. A few primates and synods have stood fast against the pretensions of the EP (and his Greek sycophants), but most have retained communion with the aforementioned, and this is most disconcerting. If the actions of the EP in Ukraine, and following, are not deserving of a clear-cut and unambiguous anathema, what would it take? We need voices at the patriarchal/ primatial level, a la the resolve of Beckett in his confrontation with Henry II.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                I was saddened to read your personal struggle, Menas. I see your wife’s point. She’s happy in her parish. And, of course, I see yours, as it aligns more closely with mine. I’ve loved the parishes I’ve been in but I never became so much a part of them that it eclipsed my need for the Faith. It may be a personality thing. I left the Episcopal church when women priests started to appear and never looked back. I guess it all comes down to the hill you want to die on. For me, it’s the Orthodox Church.

                • And I left the RCC when I could no longer affirm papal infallibility. To be a faithful Catholic requires one to subscribe to the belief that the church has not erred – indeed, it cannot. That is why reunion of the Church pre-Great Schism is impossible. It would require the RCC to violate it’s own self-understanding. If one adheres to this doctrine, everything falls neatly into place. Once I could no longer do so, I departed.
                  I fear that allegiance to one’s parish is trumping allegiance to the faith. At what point will enough be enough to draw a proverbial line in the sand?

              • Anony-mouse says

                That’s why we Orthodox in the West are on the front lines of this ridiculous C’ple-instigated drama. 

                In the countries with the patriarchates of old, they generally don’t have many places where there are a plethora of churches of overlapping jurisdictions in one town or city. We do. 

                To Patr Bartholomew, this may just be a fun global chess game, but as you’ve detailed, Manassas, to us in the Americas, Western Europe, and Australia, this stuff affects our real lives every day. 

                We have many town and cities where C’ple parishes coexist right alongside of Church of Russia parishes, Antiochian parishes, and everything else. 

                It stinks, but Christ loves us and He shows us the way through. Yes feathers will be ruffled, but they must be in order to separate the wheat from the chaff in these serious matters. 

                May Christ be with you.  I don’t fault your wife – I know plenty of loving and warm people who are Roman Catholic and even Mormon, for crying out loud!
                Are you in Manassas, Va.?  I visited the ACROD parish there, probably at least 20 years ago now. 

                • I am indeed in Virginia, but not Manassas. I use this name (a derivation of Manasseh) to remind myself of the notorious Israelite king who went far astray, but was ultimately brought to repentance. 

          • Tim,
            if you were a Protestant before, it would be practically correct to choose a Pastor and follow him in whichever denominations he is moving in his lifetime. Every Pastor is virtually/potentially another mini-denomination.

            When you become an Orthodox Christian you (tacitly) agree you go back to the One True Church of the New Testament (read Fr.Guillquist’s book).

            The Orthodox Jurisdictions have their Bishops and the kindof presiding Archbishop or Patriarch. If you think they have become heretical then this is not the canonical Church any more, the one you originally wanted to join, I think you want to leave her with or without your  friendly priest.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              You say my ‘friendly’ priest. I say my Orthodox priest. 
              By the way, I thought all of these ‘jurisdictions’ in this country, with separate bishops, were non-canonical in the first place. I should just choose one to be ‘mine’, right? Can I stay in the same building?
              Let’s find out about GOA members leaving…are there some around here? 

      • Alitheia1875: “you cannot separate yourself from your bishop. You can’t simply say you don’t agree with your bishop. What ever he does you are doing also. What this all means is that people will really have to start taking sides. You have to decide which bishop (i.e. which synod) you will follow.”

        This is a projection of the present USA situation, where you have several jurisdictions and bishops to chose from.
        Try to imagine the situation of 1920s/1930s  Russia. The official Church was taken over by the Bolsheviks and modernist Ecumenical Patriarchate, while the remaining faithful bishops were either in Gulag or abroad.
        What the true believers did?
        As we are moving out from the Era of Constantine, to the pagan (or neopagan) world with pagan rulers hostile to the Christianity, like in a reverse time machine to the time of Diocletian persecution, the main temptation might the heresy of Donatism – judging too harshly who remained in the Church and who did  not?

  3. I just watched the video: ‘Reconverting Russia’
    ‘The Bursting of Bolshevism’ would be a suitable subtitle.

  4. Alitheia1875A says

    One of the sticking points between Moscow, and those who agreed with the MP, and Constantinople regarding the council in Crete, was the number of bishops each church could send. A true council, or synod, is usually comprised of all, or as many as possible, of each church’s bishops. Kirill has been consecrating new bishops for a number of years and now has almost 400. Any wonder why the EP didn’t want full representation from each church?

    • Joseph Lipper says

      That’s a very interesting point.  Should a single Local Church have more say in an Ecumenical Council solely because it has more bishops?  Is that fair and right?

      • Maybe those churches with a lot of bishops have a lot of churches and parishioners.

      • Alitheia1875A says

        As far as Russia is concerned, there was, and quite probably continues to exist, an underground church. These are not Old Believers. There will always be bishops who know and proclaim the true faith. 

      • Joseph,
        consider just two countries:

        Country_____Orth.popul’n____% of total Cyprus___________782,000____0.4%

        What do you propose as fair,that both Russia and Cyprus are represented by one Bishop and one vote each?

        • Johann Sebastian says

          An electoral college.

        • Joseph Lipper says

          Ioannis, it seems there is potentially a dilemma if an Ecumenical Council is addressing politically sensitive topics that could easily be swayed either by the enormity or paucity of a Local Church’s representation.  The decisions are not supposed to be a simple political contest.  Although I suppose that’s why some Councils later end up being rejected.

          • Joseph,
            I’ve lost you with your legally complicated reply.
            Would you PLEASE give a straight and simple reply
            to a straight and simple question?
            Do you think it is fair, YES or NO?


            I take this opportunity to kindly remind you AFTER THREE WEEKS that I am still waiting for another kind reply of yours:
            “Joseph Lipper saysNovember 15, 2019 at 11:06 amIoannis, thanks for the spelling corrections! I will have to ponder your other questions some more.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              I don’t know.  For example, I agree with Metropolitan Hierotheos that all ruling bishops ideally should be present at a Council, or at least have a voice somehow.  Yet I also see how Metropolitan Hierotheos noted the great frustration present at the preconciliar meetings leading up to Crete, mainly having to do with the MP delegation usurping the whole process. 
              The Moscow Patriarchate seems to making the argument that the Local Church with the most bishops (and most people) should have the Primacy in the Church.

              BTW: Thanks for your kind reminder. I have finally responded.

              • Joseph,
                “The Moscow Patriarchate seems to making the argument that the Local Church with the most bishops (and most people) should have the Primacy in the Church.”
                Yes, this argument is the substance of Canon 28 (4th Ec.Syn.)
                ie MP actually is the closest man NOW who can do the real function of canon 28 as interpreted by St.Nikodimos (Nicodeme) on p. 273 line 19ff. In other words it is Kyrill who can assist the majority of Orthodox Bishops on earth who want to see the current “”emperor”” for some assistance, always according to Canon 28. Read it yourself, very carefully.
                Whether we like it or not (remember I am Greek, not Russian) the fact (now in 2019) is that in the case of a schism the MP will coordinate roughly 2/3 of the Orthodox Ecumene (World) and Kyrill will be seated in the capital of that virtual Orthodox Ecumene. Even if EP could manage to ge 2/3 instead, the C’ple is not a capital city and Erdogan can/will not assist any remote Bishop who comes to him via Bartholomew, again according to Canon 28.
                You are crying “the king is NOT naked” hoping that the people will believe you one day. It is a pity for such a waste of energy.
                I ‘m sorry, I get excited. 
                BTW, Canon 28 does not mention the Primacy of the Church of C’ple (or any other for that matter). That Bishop WAS  then only a kind of coordinator, or mediator to assist the remote Bishops to see the Emperor. The Primacy is a Papist perverse word!

                • Joseph Lipper says

                  If you believe the “King is naked,” then what is the appropriate response? 
                  I’m reminded of the Old Testament story about how Noah got drunk and naked and how his three sons responded.  Is the appropriate response to be like his son Ham, who didn’t cover his father’s nakedness, but instead further shamed him by announcing it to others?  No.  The better response was that of his other two sons, Shem and Japheth.  They walked backwards with a sheet into Noah’s tent, so as not to witness his nakedness and further shame him, and then they covered their father. 
                  Regarding your interpretation of canon 28, as I’ve pointed out before, the Russians have accepted the Primacy of the EP for hundreds of years.  They’ve accepted it even after the fall of Constantinople, and even when Russia had it’s own Tsar.  The EP’s primacy has been traditionally accepted, not just by Russia, but by all the other churches.  Now some people are suddenly accusing the EP of taking this primacy too far.  I’m not convinced the EP is, but that’s what we’re debating about.  If this primacy is of the Holy Spirit, then ultimately and miraculously, it will remain.  If it’s not, then it will collapse.  God will protect His Church.  The Hand of God is at work in all of this.  
                  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

                  • Joseph, please,
                    do not take an analogy literally, BUT GET THE REAL MESSAGE, otherwise it makes discussion unnecessarily longer and less enjoyable to both of us.
                    When I talk about the Naked King of the Fairy Tale, I do not use it literally about nakedness but RATHER about the LIE that they did not tell that the king was naked.  If they had LIED about something else instead of nakedness, say beauty, riches you wouldn’t be able to mention Noah at all now.
                    You choose (once more) to focus on something irrelevant.
                    Why is Noah irrelevant?
                    Because he was not hiding something BAD under his clothes but just his manhood created by God, if you prefer,  his private parts, and it was not DECENT to show them to the others.
                    If somebody in the Church HIDES SOMETHING WRONG  then Joseph, if it remains hidden/concealed it will damage the CHURCH AND THE NAME OF CHRIST!
                    (e.g. think of  the sex scandals in churches)
                    You know, I really think somebody has somehow intimidated you, kind of Papist mentality “do not say ANYTHING bad about MY Pope!”
                    Having said that, I must admit, I sense it and I LIKE it, a sort of innocence and honesty from your part  that you are saying the correct/christian thing and that is why I like to talk to you. 
                    So, forget Noah and Ham, totally different situation!

                    Now the second part of your reply:
                    Again, you hastily draw conclusions.
                    “the Russians have accepted the Primacy of the EP for hundreds of years.  They’ve accepted it even after the fall of Constantinople”
                    If I am not mistaken, you have said a similar thing in the past, i.e. you justified something just because it was done for some years and therefore is has become “tradition”. So we are back to “square one”.

                    Please, Joseph, 
                    read Canon 28 PLUS INTERPRETATION once more.
                    Right after the Fall of C’ple, and for many centuries, Canon 28 could still  apply because, 
                    (1) There were still remote Bishops
                    (2) The Head of the State (Sultan) and government resided in that City
                    so, EXACTLY AS PER CANON 28:
                    (1)The remote Bishops could come to Bishop of C’ple  (in the beginning Gennadios) and
                    (2) ask him to take them to see the Sultan and ask for some assistance or mercy. 
                    Gradually and certainly about a century ago the Greeks practically disappeared from Turkey and indeed The Sultan or President moved to Ankara.
                    I am sure you can see that (1) and (2) above are non existent any more. But still you say, it has been done for so many centuries so it is a tradition, i.e. Bartholomew is still THAT coordinating Bishop for points (1) and (2) BECAUSE IT IS A TRADITION! Whoever said that Canon 28 is a Tradition. It is a Canon ie Church Regulation or Law (compare to Traffic Law) which prescribes how the remote Bishops will come to the Head of State for assistance. The Canon is for real results, not an opportunity for decorations and increasingly higher title for the coordinator, even higher than those given to God Almighty.
                    If we now disclose that this wrong thing is happening,  you then compare it to leaving Noah uncovered…
                    This tactic will lead you or anybody else to justify anything a Bishop will do, just as in Rome! Sorry, I just forgot THAT IS EXACTLY THE IDEA to go to Rome!

      • The church transcends nationalism. Thus, for he who has the fullest belief in Christ, being a Christian by all means trumps being Russian, Ukrainian, Greek, French, Pakistani, etc.  Obviously St Paul wrote much about this fact in his letters/epistles. 
        Therefore, whichever autocephalous Church has the “most” bishops shouldn’t matter. 
        It certainly does seem that Patr Bartholomew is not happy with the reality that more than 70% of the world’s Orthodox Christians fall under the jurisdiction of the church of Russia. 

      • Antiochene Son says

        The Ecumenical Patriarchate has bishops who have no flock, and whose titular cities are heaps of ancient rubble. That definitely is not right.

        If the number of bishops is proportional to the number of parishes and faithful, then the largest church should certainly have the most delegates. We know the Holy Spirit will speak through a true council, even if the majority go into it with ill intention, as was the case in Nicaea.

      • Councils are to represent the whole church, and their decisions must be received well by the whole Church. Cut out a good percentage of bishops solely because from a large Orthodox country, you cut out a good portion of the Church. And ecclesiology means the whole Church is present in each, so to say “local” divides the church into pieces just as ethnophyletism does.

      • Joseph,
        Your question might make some sense if a “local Church” consisted of a Patriarch and his council of bishops.  But it doesn’t. 
        A local Church is a bishop and his flock, and each one of these is the fullness of the Church.

        • Joseph Lipper says

          Brian, to clarify, I’m using the term “Local Church” to reflect those autocephalous churches mentioned in the diptychs.

  5. My advice to  Alithea and Gail, be very careful, we are in dangerous times. One can make foolish decisions at this time concerning picking bishops. That whole thing of bishop A is in communion with Constantinople so if you are in communion with bishop A etc…………..can get you in a lot of trouble. My advice, sit still and find out where this is all going. You could end up in some group that is not part of the canonical Orthodox Church. In other words, you would be in a schismatic group. Time to be still and pray.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I think it’s important to know where your bishops stand. I think it’s important for them to know where you stand. St. Ignatius of Antioch said, “where’s the Bishop? There is the Church.”

      • Antiochene Son says

        It is important, but heresy is not communicable through the chalice.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        As things currently stand, Russia would have to recognize Ukrainian autocephaly before the OCA could even think about it.  The OCA’s autocephaly exists only because of Russia’s unilateral proclamation.  If, for example, the OCA were to recognize Ukrainian autocephaly, then Moscow would cease to commemorate Metropolitan Tikhon and autocephaly would effectively be withdrawn. 
        Without Russia’s recognition of the OCA, nobody else would recognize the OCA either.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          “What’s it’s to do with the price of bread?”

          Joseph, in your example you wonder what would happen if the OCA were to recognize the OCU. Yet the OCA doesn’t want to recognize the OCU. They continue to recognize and support Metropolitan Onufry as the canonical head and Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and have expressly said they will “withhold, with several of her sister Churches, recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”

          You seem to be trying to draw parallels between the OCA and the OCU, but unlike the OCU, “the gift of autocephaly [to the OCA] was not a declaration of independence, an expression of nationalism, or an excuse for isolationism but rather a call to the fulfillment of the apostolic, missionary, and pastoral work of the Gospel.” And unlike the OCU, the OCA has only ordained bishops, no unrepentant schismatics and is not permitted to step on the toes of other patriarchates who also have a presence here.

          The differences between them are profound, Joseph. Unlike the OCU, the OCA has operated and continues to operate under God-given grace. Any grace the OCU might have had was forfeited by their hierarch. He set them up to fail even farther than they had failed on their own. He could have insisted that they repent, ordained them and made an effort to smoothe their entry into the Church by getting the support of his brother bishops. That’s the Orthodox way, is it not? But he did none of these things. He is no longer Orthodox and hasn’t been for a very long time. If you go back in time, you’ll see evidence of this. Remember two years ago, almost to the day, when all the bishops met in Russia? The only bishop not there (or represented) was Bartholomew. Why? Because he felt it was more important to be in Israel to complain about the Trump administration making Jerusalem its capital than to be at a council with his brother bishops. Bartholomew walked away from the Church thinking he IS the Church.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Gail, my point is that the OCA won’t and can’t recognize Ukrainian autocephaly until Russia does it first. If Russia never does, then the OCA never will. There is no threat otherwise.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Still not getting your point, Joseph. Why would the OCA want to recognize the OCU? The OCA is autocephalous and it can do whatever it wants. They’re not dependent upon what Russia does or doesn’t do. Russia and the OCA don’t always see eye to eye either. Metropolitan Jonah is an example. The OCA got rid of him, failed to pay him and dragged their feet on releasing him. Russia was purportedly not happy but life went on for the OCA.

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Well no, the OCA can’t exactly do whatever it wants. It doesn’t even matter whether or not any of the OCA bishops would want to recognize Ukrainian autocephaly, even if they could. Their opinions on the topic, stated or unstated, are largely irrelevant.

                The OCA bishops won’t recognize Ukrainian autocephaly, and they can’t either, unless Russia does it first.

                Patriarch Kyrill is the biggest sole supporter of the OCA’s autocephaly. If he stopped commemorating Metropolitan Tikhon, then that would effectively be the end of the OCA. The other Local Churches (Czech Lands, Poland, Georgia, Bulgaria, and Romania) that currently give recognition would undoubtedly follow Russia’s lead and stop commemoration also. I’m sure all the OCA bishops are keenly aware of this.

                Yes, the OCA still commemorates Patriarch Bartholomew, just like everyone else does (besides Moscow), but on the topic of Ukrainian autocephaly, the OCA has no choice in the matter. The OCA needs recognition from Moscow to exist.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  They don’t want to recognize the OCU at this juncture. Just because Patriarch Kyrill is their biggest supporter does not mean he has any power over them, as you’re suggesting.

                  What is heresy, Joseph? Heresy is the rejection of a doctrine that a Church considers essential.

                  I would argue that the importance of apostolic succession is an essential teaching in the Church. If this is true, then a bishop who violates this teaching by bringing unordained clergy into the Church is guilty of teaching heresy by example, just like an older sister who uses the F word is guilty of teaching her younger siblings to do the same.

                  One could also consider the disruption of the good order of the church heresy.

                  Arguments have been made that those who set themselves up against the ministers ordained of God, and trouble the society and good order in the Church or state, do in effect, “gather themselves against the Lord and our guilty of rebellion against God Himself.” This is quite serious.


                  And what is a schism? It’s a division between people.

                  Schism is a rejection of communion with the authorities of a Church. Bartholomew went into the territory of another bishop without that bishop’s permission; a territory he previously acknowledged was not his own by historically referring to Metropolitan Onofri as the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine and then giving that name to someone else entirely. He also reinterpreted the canons in a way that his brother bishops could not accept or reject without a Council which he refused to call. The end result was a schism between the MP and the EP and because we are all connected in the Church through our various and sundry relationships, their falling out of communion affects all of us. (It takes two to be in communion and it appears Russia has withdrawn from communion with the EP permanently.)

                  What is a schismatic? A schismatic is a person who creates or incites schism in an organization.

                  The schism began when Bartholomew elevated himself above the Church. He is no longer accountable to anyone. He refused to honor the wishes of every single Church (90%+) when he did not call a Council to discuss Ukraine. He went rogue and promoted himself to the role of an Eastern Pope. The Orthodox Church doesn’t have a pope. Bartholomew defined himself out of the Church by insisting he is first without equals.

                  Now that Bartholomew has sent a delegate to America with the intent of uniting us under him, he has caused a schism between himself and Antioch, who does not recognize his authority. It may not be official, but it is there. The OCA has also not accepted his authority and has no intention of forgoing their autocephalous status for anything short of true autocephaly for the entire country.

                  Bartholomew created the schism(s) and is now praying with schismatics which makes him a schismatic and everyone he pulls into this nonsense schismatic, as well. That includes many in the Church of Greece and, sadly, Alexandria. They have left the Church.

                  These are sad realities.

                  Again, Russia has called 370 bishops together to address the matter. The rest of the Church has no more than 100 bishops. If 370 bishops reach the conclusion that Bartholomew is a schismatic that will pretty much seal Bartholomew’s fate. No one (except those beholden to him) want to support his actions in Ukraine. That’s why they wanted a Council. They’re not OK with what he has done. They’re not going to serve with him, and risk being ostracized by Russia. Does that make Russia the big bad wolf who exerts its will over the Church? No. Russia is providing a way out of this mess and the rest of the Church, including the OCA, will be most grateful.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    Gail, it’s not really a matter of whether or not the OCA wants to.  There is no choice.  The OCA is not even being asked to recognize Ukrainian autocephaly.  Patriarch Bartholomew never sent an invitation to Syosset about Ukraine’s OCU, so there’s no pressure or even request coming from Constantinople.
                    Even in the hypothetical situation where the OCA recognized Ukrainian autocephaly, it likely wouldn’t be reciprocated by Metropolitan Epiphany anyways.  Since the OCU gets it’s diptychs from Constantinople, Metropolitan Epiphany couldn’t recognize the OCA even if he wanted to.

                • .Joseph u are a past master as scholasticism which undoubtedly will be of use to u in Rome.  You try and obscure things in a cloud of verbiage. 
                  Look. It’s irrelevant re OCA etc etc etc and what Moscow might have or have not done etc etc etc.  
                  THESE ARE THE FACTS MR LIPPER.  The patriarchate of Constantinople for  worldly reasons very plain and in line with Rome after 1870, is abrogating for itself and it’s Patriarch,  power and authority ENTIRELY above and separate from the Church and saying that the  entire Church is depending on, HIM ALONE.  And, yes I can see u typing now,  that Constantinople was the Source of their autocephaly!  HALLO, YES,  SO WHAT?..  As they were originally bishops under Constantinople, that was normal and legal as it were.  END OF.  YOU BETRAY SO MUCH when you write as if autocephaly can be taken back,  which mocks the meaning of the greek word totally and teaching of the Orthodox Christian Church. Independence is independence.   MAY BE UK WILL TAKE BACK USA AUTOCEPHALOUS STATE AS A COUNTRY??? ? 
                  What the Phanar teaches about the Church is not Orthodox but is simply papal catholicism.  HOW DO I KNOW.?  Well give bartholomaios and his creature in USA credit.  THEY OPENLY TEACH AND PREACH this ‘orthodox’ catholicism .  I give them honesty in that. And why.?   Because they see the ‘united church ‘, as sort of union with western and eastern Pope and theologically if you like, a bringing back of St Peter and St Andrew. Now Moscow has been tempted by third Rome ideology, but that was and is a worldly political ambition to which was given an answer in 1917, Was not church belief.  And be clear if Moscow was or ever claims same dogmatic beliefs for itself above the Church, then my reply would be what I am giving u here. But it does not.
                  As to Ukraine.  I do not think Joseph that   repeated explanations to you are any use.  All I can say is you hold to a Church where sacramental VALIDITY is a form of words.  HEY PERHAPS THAT IS THE NEXT STEP TO NET IN THE PROTESTANTS?. There is no more to be said except perhaps the Church is awaiting a Council where bartholomaios can face his EQUAL IN AUTHORITY PATRARCHS AND ARCHBISHOPS and tell them to their faces he is superior.  Is he thinking of getting some cardinals?  Maybe the greek bishops to make running the Church a greek establishment?    I. Am GREEK AND I REJECT AND DENY HIM AND THIS AND ALL THEY STAND FOR, ANATHEMA, ANAXIOS 

                  • To add. I am beginning to think the actual office of Patriarch is the temptation to which many fall in worldly power.  Perhaps Peter the Great may have got it right?  That is a sad statements for me to be making.Gives me no Joy
                    NONE OF THIS DOES. Or does good to the Church.  They have much to answer for to the believing people of God and to Christ. 

                • Lipper, you talk as though you think you know something, but you don’t. Patr. Kyrill is specifically no champion of OCA autocephaly and the MP even under Alexei in the ‘90s was finagling ways to take back the Tomos. 
                  As I’ve maintained many times here, the loss of autocephaly to Moscow was in greatest potential when Metr. Jonah was publicly pondering giving it back. Kyrill was most pleased at those sounds coming from the DC Cathedral. 
                  The rest of the ‘cabal’ running the OCA so unpopular here would never, ever give up the Tomos, not to Moscow, not to ‘Stamboul, not to Antioch (as has been inanely posited by someone I know who should know better). 
                  I don’t know you or what makes you think you know anything about the people in the OCA, but judging by your snarky comments suggesting the OCA is some tool of the MP, I consider your pose preposterous. 

            • Monk James Silver says

              Joseph Lipper (December 6, 2019 at 5:05 pm) says:

              Gail, my point is that the OCA won’t and can’t recognize Ukrainian autocephaly until Russia does it first. If Russia never does, then the OCA never will. There is no threat otherwise.


              Let’s first understand that the Orthodox Church in America is under no obligation to second any motions proposed by the Orthodox Church of Russia.

              Then we must acknowledge that it is impossible for the Orthodox Church of Russia to ‘recognize Ukrainian autocephaly’ because that putative status is fictive and canonically illegal, and involves a group of schismatics who were falsely put in place by Constantinople in defiance of the canonical prerogatives of the patriarchate of Moscow.

              This was also an exercise in pretending to legitimize men as clergy — even bishops — men who had never actually been ordained. May the Lord protect the laity who, in their simplicity, accept the ministrations of these false priests and bishops.

              Nationalistic movements among Ukrainians have driven many of them to blasphemy and violence against God and against The Church.

              Their ‘religion’ isn’t Orthodox or Christian, but Ukrainian, and this is a great delusion. May the Lord be merciful to the people caught up in this awful rebellion against Him.

              Should the canonically legitimate Ukrainian Orthodox Church desire to be autocephalous, Kiev could request such a change in status from its mother church, which is Moscow now, although their positions have been reversed by the vagaries of history.

              On the other hand, Moscow could unilaterally grant autocephaly to Kiev, but this is unlikely since neither party has expressed a need or desire to accomplish this.

              Altogether, though, it’s important for everyone to realize that Constantinople has no role to play in this. That patriarchate lost its legitimacy in Russia in the fifteenth century by becoming uniat, and the Orthodox Christians of Russia moved on without the help of their heretical former co-religionists on the Bosporus.

              Even though Constantinople eventually returned to Orthodoxy, it’s ridiculous of them to claim authority over events which occurred during their absence from The Church.

              God help them, it seems like they might be getting ready to leave again.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                You said it much better than I did, Father James.

                • Monk James Silver says

                  Perhaps, dear Gail, and I thank you for your corroboration.

                  The fact remains that what is true and real is still at issue, and we have to work toward clarifying that, no matter what people say in support of Constantinople’s missteps.

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Monk James, yes, the OCA is not obliged to follow the Orthodox Church of Russia, but if the OCA does something that gives reason for Moscow to cease it’s commemoration (as have Constantinople, Greece, and Alexandria), then the OCA goes back to being the Metropolia again.  

                • Antiochene Son says

                  What makes you think Russia would revoke anyone’s autocephaly? Does the Russian Church believe autocephaly is revokable? 

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    To answer yours and Joseph’s question, the Patriarch of Russia recently asked the Mayor of Moscow to refurbish the St Katherine’s church, which is the OCA’s metochion (representation parish) in Moscow.

                    Kinda makes you go “hmmmm….” (With apologies to Arsenio Hall.)

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    The OCA can’t exist without being in communion with Moscow.  If, for whatever reason, Moscow broke communion with the OCA, then the OCA’s autocephaly would be meaningless and defacto revoked. 
                    By the way, Patriarch Kyrill is supposed to be concelebrating with Metropolitan Tikhon today at St. Katherine’s. 

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    The OCA’s tomos was granted unilaterally by the Moscow Patriarchate’s Holy Synod. The other five Local Churches that now recognize the OCA only do it out of respect and courtesy to Moscow.

                • Monk James Silver says

                  Joseph Lipper (December 6, 2019 at 9:13 pm) says:

                  Monk James, yes, the OCA is not obliged to follow the Orthodox Church of Russia, but if the OCA does something that gives reason for Moscow to cease it’s commemoration (as have Constantinople, Greece, and Alexandria), then the OCA goes back to being the Metropolia again.


                  Mr Lipper, your words here show that you have a seriously distorted sense of Orthodox Christian ecclesiology. This confusion may be at the heart of your continual support of Constantinople’s canonically illegal moves in Russia, and I hope that you will learn a few things in our conversations here.

                  While it’s difficult to imagine any canonical infraction on the part of the OCA so serious as would cause the Russian Orthodox Church to break its connection of eucharistic communion with it, even if such a sad event took place, it would not affect the OCA’s autocephaly.

                  These are two completely separate canonical issues, and one does not affect the other.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    Monk James,
                    Autocephaly was the vehicle by which Moscow normalized canonical relations with the “Metropolia” and restored full eucharistic communion.  Because of this, communion with Moscow is a fundamental and necessary aspect of the OCA’s autocephaly.   Everyone sees the OCA as being relational to it’s Mother Church. Please explain how a hypothetical break in communion with Moscow would not affect the OCA’s autocephaly.

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      Mr Lipper: As I wrote earlier.’These are two completely separate canonical issues, and one does not affect the other.’

                      Please go and learn something about authentic Orthodox Christian ecclesiology.

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Monk James, so why doesn’t the OCA cry foul and go into schism with Moscow over ROCOR encroachment on American territory?

                      That’s what most other autocephalous churches would do, as we have witness of Moscow’s present schism with the EP over disputed territorial integrity in Ukraine.

              • Monk James Silver ,
                very well said, Bravo!!!!

        • Anony-mouse says

          The OCA has never indicated that it respects, honors, or believes in the legitimacy of the “OCU” or of “Met. Epiphany.”

          It is firmly behind the legitimate and true warrior for Christ, the saintly Met. Onuphry, and his flock in the UOC.

          My guess is that the only reason the OCA has not formally broken canonical communion with C’ple and its various tentacles of jurisdictions across the globe is because of the presence of the GOA/ACROD/UOCofUSA in America and the complex, intertwined nature of “jurisdictional Orthodoxy” that we find here, particularly for the faithful laymen and laywomen who are caught in the middle for now.

          Plenty of Christ-believing folks in the GOA/ACROD/UOCofUSA are firmly behind Met. Onuphry and the legitimate UOC; the only reason they stay in their GOA/ACROD/UOCofUSA parish is that they have a long history there with loving family and friends, and the chaos unleashed by Patr. Bartholomew hasn’t fully hit home yet.

          However, once Patr. Bartholomew fulfills his intentions to become Roman Catholic (the new Uniates), then maybe it will fully hit home and all hell will break loose in the GOA/ACROD/UOCofUSA.

          As an example of where the OCA stands on the “OCU” and “Met. Epiphany,” as detailed by one of its clergy, Fr Edward Henderson of St John the Baptist Church (OCA) in Berkeley, Calif.:

          “Let’s face it, Epiphany is a zero. You can put that in the headline. That man is a zero. All those guys in the KP or UAOC are zeros…. And now the Archons are giving a human rights award to Epiphany. The man didn’t do anything, he just showed up in the right place.” (ref.:

          Joseph, your insinuations are manipulative and spread slander. The OCA will never recognize the “OCU” or “Met. Epiphany.” Yes, some individual clergy or faithful may exercise their free will and do so individually, thereby leaving the Church, but the OCA as an embodiment of Christ will never do so.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            No, I’m not suggesting at all that the OCA will ever recognize the OCU or Metropolitan Epiphany.  Quite the opposite.  I’m saying that regardless of anyone’s opinion on Ukrainian autocephaly, the OCA can’t and won’t recognize it unless Russia does so first.

            • Lipper, you are really hammering that one note solo through all this as though it meant something.  Let me tell you Joe, you ain’t no Neil Young.
              The OCA, pathetic as you may think it is, has withstood the withering blast of both Fener and Moscow for decades with only the short period under Metr. Jonah when there was talk of giving up the Tomos in order to fulfill the OCA’s greater destiny in forming a universally recognized autocephaly here. The latest attack has come from Elpidophoros who boldly lies to Greek clergy and the moderator of this blog that the OCA is giving up the ghost and coming under the EP. 
              The simplest test of the proposition is to ask how it benefits the OCA to go under Moscow or ‘Stamboul. Answer: not in the least. Why give away full self-governance already half a century old for what? Becoming a bigger ACROD? It only seems to make any sense if you, like all the duped and brainwashed  Greek clergy, think the OCA is bankrupt like it looked to be 10 years ago. But the publicly available facts are that it ain’t. We’re still the biggest jurisdiction of Orthodox after GOARCH and have healthy finances (unlike them at this stage).
              So please leave off pretending to be able to play Neil’s ‘Cinnamon Girl’ guitar break. You don’t have Crazy Horse backing you on this track n

              • Joseph Lipper says

                OK Claes, let’s just test a hypothetical situation:  the OCA Synod completely loses it’s mind and adds Metropolitan Epiphany to their dipytchs.  Shortly afterwards, the Moscow Patriarchate informs the OCA that it will no longer be commemorated, and all communion is cut off by Moscow.  There’s still the five other Local Churches that commemorate Metropolitan Tikhon, but if Russia isn’t doing it, then why should they?  After all, Bulgaria, Romania, and Georgia all have a presence in America.  It makes sense for them to cease commemoration also.  Poland and the Czech Lands?  They basically just don’t want to be on the wrong side of Russia.  So, at the end of this hypothetical, nobody recognizes the OCA, except I suppose the OCA itself.  And what would the OCA be then?  It would be the “schismatic” daughter church of Russia, just like the Metropolia was.  The canonical end result is some type of limbo I suppose.  All the other Local Churches (such as Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Cyprus, etc.) who currently view the OCA as merely an autonomous part of the Moscow Patriarchate would technically have to admit the OCA is schismatic and outside of communion with the Orthodox Church.  Meanwhile, Metropolitan Epiphany in Ukraine is pleasantly suprised to hear about recognition by the OCA, but Patriarch Bartholomew won’t let him add Metropolitan Tikhon to his diptychs,… because the EP doesn’t recognize the autocephaly of the OCA.

                • Antiochene Son says

                  Only Russia has broken communion with anyone over Ukraine. Why would it turn into a cascade with the OCA? Everyone recognizes the OCA as canonical, the only question is their status (autocephalous vs autonomous). 
                  The real complexity for the OCA is if churches start ceasing to commemorate Russia. This has not happened, even Epiphany commemorates Kyrill. But if it did, then it could be a mess for the OCA.
                  I know of one pilgrimage to Athos organized by a priest of the OCA that had to be canceled due to uncertainty over all this. Bartholomew has concelebrated with Met. Tikhon since then, so that is currently not at issue. 

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    Yes, an interesting point you make.  If Constantinople went into schism with Russia, then Constantinople would technically have to admit being in schism with the OCA also.  Likewise, if any of the Local Churches who don’t recognize the OCA’s autocephaly were to go into schism with Russia, then the same principal applies, and they would technically be in schism with the OCA as well.
                    Yet if Moscow was to go into schism with the OCA, then all those Local Churches that still maintain communion with Moscow, and who also view the OCA as merely autonomous, would then technically have to treat the OCA as schismatic as well.  Of course they might not though, depending on the circumstances, and as was the case with the Metropolia before.
                    The inherent contradiction of the OCA’s tomos from Moscow is it’s lack of territorial integrity.  Territorial integrity is generally considered a characteristic of autocephaly.  Yet the OCA’s tomos not only acknowledges this deficiency, but it also makes allowances for it.  For this reason, none of the Local Churches are obligated by Moscow to recognize the autocephaly.  So it’s advantageous for most (like for Constantinople, Antioch, and Serbia) not to recognize it.  

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Joseph, to Bartholomew, the OCA doesn’t exist. That’s why he didn’t invite them to Chambesy, why he didn’t invite them to join the Assembly of Canonical Bishops (Archbishop Demetrios later rectified this) and why they weren’t invited to Crete. Oh, sure, Bartholomew will make nice with Metropolitan Tikhon when he wants something but the EP DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THE OCA. You can’t be in schism with someone you don’t recognize.

                      Joseph, the reason some of the Local Churches don’t recognize the OCA is that they have parishes here. How would Antioch be able to recognize the OCA as being over the entire country? They can’t because of the anomaly we have in the country. The OCA, however, is not tied to Moscow the way you think.

                      This whole thing can be solved if we had autocephaly across the board. Doesn’t have to be under the OCA. The OCA would consider giving up what they have for true autocephaly for all of America. The American Church could become a Local Church with our own synod composed of a bishop from each of the Churches headed by our own American born patriarch. Arrangements could be made to maintain ties with our mother Churches through our respective bishops. It could be done. It should be done.

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Gail, I don’t believe it’s quite accurate to say the OCA doesn’t exist to Patriarch Bartholomew.  After all, he has served Divine Liturgy at least twice with Metropolitan Tikhon.  Of course the OCA was not added to the Patriarch’s diptychs, only because he doesn’t recognize it’s autocephaly.  From his perspective, the OCA is an autonomous branch of the Moscow Patriarchate.  So if the EP was in schism with Moscow, then that schism would technically include the “autonomous” (his viewpoint) OCA, as well as all the other autonomous churches under Moscow, including Ukraine, Belarus, Japan, China, and ROCOR.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Bartholomew serves with RC and schematics so the argument that he serves with the OCA and that somehow means something is moot. It means nothing.

                    • J. Lipper:
                      So if the EP was in schism with Moscow, then that schism would technically include the “autonomous” (his viewpoint) OCA…
                      G. Sheppard:
                      …so the argument that he serves with the OCA and that somehow means something is moot. It means nothing.
                      Actually, it does mean something.  It means he thinks he has something to gain from friendly relations with the OCA, though he will never recognize their autocephaly.
                      “Never trust your enemy,    for like the rusting of copper, so is his wickedness.Even if he humbles himself and goes about cringing,    watch yourself, and be on your guard against him;    and you will be to him like one who has polished a mirror,    and you will know that it was not hopelessly tarnished…
                      “An enemy will speak sweetly with his lips,    but in his mind he will plan to throw you into a pit;an enemy will weep with his eyes,    but if he finds an opportunity his thirst for blood will be insatiable. If calamity befalls you, you will find him there ahead of you;    and while pretending to help you, he will trip you by the heel;he will shake his head, and clap his hands,    and whisper much, and change his expression.”
                                -Wisdom of Sirach

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Brian, what I meant was that because he serves with RCs and schematics, whom he serves with doesn’t matter. He doesn’t matter. The point is that nothing Bartholomew does means anything anymore. He has effectively left the Church. When a patriarch grants autocephaly and NO ONE except his own people show up for the enthronement, you know he’s not leading anyone. I wish our State Department would get a clue. I would agree, Bartholomew wants something from the OCA. Thankfully, the OCA told him they weren’t interested.

                      I have no idea why the OCA is being perceived as having to go along with whatever Moscow does. She is a “sister church” of the MP and she is completely independent and self-governing. The MP has no spiritual or canonical jurisdiction over her bishops, clergy or laymen. What Moscow does or doesn’t do in these different scenarios has nothing to do with the OCA. Bartholomew has painted himself in a corner. No one really sympathizes with him. Those who are standing with him have to because of the consequences. I suspect the OCA will do what the majority of Local Churches do. It has nothing to do with Moscow, per se, other than Moscow is ALSO not sympathetic to Bartholomew. People who have been with the Chruch long enough to get a sense of what’s going on should read Bartholomew’s biography on his webpage. It’s astonishing how an Orthodox bishop can allow himself to be put on such a pedestal.

                      I believe it was the Ecumenical Patriarchate that granted the MP autocephaly so by Joseph’s logic, if the OCA must follow Moscow because the MP granted the OCA autocephaly, then Moscow would have to follow the EP because he granted Moscow autocephaly. None of this makes sense. Maybe I’m not understanding what Joseph is talking about. I think what it’s going to come down to in this county is that we are going to have to come together and form “a strong and united witness to Christ and His Holy Church” and move beyond who belongs to this jurisdiction or that jurisdiction. It is still my belief this is going to happen. It must happen. If we don’t move beyond what is “mine and yours, to what is ours” (Metropolitan Tikhon’s words) we will remain vulnerable to Bartholomew and other hierarchs like him.

                    • Well said, sister!

                    • Gail,
                      “It’s astonishing how an Orthodox bishop can allow himself to be put on such a pedestal.”
                      “It’s astonishing how an Orthodox bishop can induce others
                      to put him on such a pedestal.”

                      Now, about Bartholomew’s biography.
                      Presumably you have read the English translation.
                      The original in Greek, meant for the Greek natives begins with:
                      “Ἡ Αὐτοῦ Θειοτάτη Παναγιότης, ὁ Οἰκουμενικός Πατριάρχης κύριος κύριος Βαρθολομαῖος…”
                      which means,
                      “His Most-Divine All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch lord lord Bartholomew…” 
                      Make no mistake, lord lord is said twice!
                      Now compare that to what we say/sing in Church:
                      “Holy God”
                      Lord Jesus  (lord, once only)  
                      But of course Bartholomew is the apex of …humility!?
                      Note also that St. John  Chrysostom
                      was just called  The Archbishop of C’ple”
                      Don’t you think it is about time we obediently beg Bartholomew to write a new and Most-Divine Liturgy including his catchphrases (see biography) and also praise of the “Holy Quran”, and the fact that “all religions lead to salvation”?
                      But no! Chrysostom warns, “the more titles the less value”.

                    • Gail Sheppard says


                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      It’s a mess all the way around.

                • This shows you nothing about the OCA.  The OCA will do NOTHING until it is forced to take a side.  THEN things could get interesting as the modernist element will want to follow Bartholemew off the cliff and  into union with the Rome.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    The only way the “modernist element” could do this would be if they leave the OCA and join with the EP.  It’s not really possible for the OCA to “follow Bartholomew off the cliff” without Russia.  Even though the OCA is autocephalous, it can’t really be in schism with Moscow.  I bring this idea of schism up as a hypothetical possibility, but only to show how ridiculous it would be.  Without Russia, the OCA is really just the Metropolia again.

                • What if is a big what if. Nothing to indicate it might happen and lots of reasons it won’t. If you are trying to insinuate something to the effect that the OCA has no real independence by this you are failing altogether. 

    • This is going to throw quite the wrench in Orthodox unity here in the U.S., or, possibly improve it if GOARCH isn’t involved? Honestly, I would rather not even think about that happening and it’s not something we should celebrate, we should pray to God that GOARCH does not go into schism 
      Should Constantinople continue down this road, and should Abp. Elpidophors take GOARCH down, I really believe this is how it will play out (though I try to be an eternal optimist) and this is all only related to GOARCH: 
      1) Most parishes will lose half their membership, this is based on those parishes that are half convert. Only saying this as the converts tend to be more conservative than GOARCH members as a whole 
      2) Traditional parishes will leave wholesale.  My guess would be to Antioch, I think that’s the safest bet. I think of a couple of parishes in DFW and other convert-heavy parishes that have true, Christ-loving people. I would also be curious to see what the Greek Metropolis of Denver will do. 
      3) Same goes for the Ephraim monasteries here in the U.S. they have been at odds with GOARCH/EP for a while now and are a large site of pilgrims for non-Greeks, including myself.  
      My hunch is that IF this does happen then it will most likely center around the Antiochian Archdiocese as they are neutral as the OCA might be “too Russian.” 
      The point we need to face is that something will happen here in America, we’re past the point of sticking our heads in the sand like ostriches. 
      One other possible outcome that hasn’t been discussed is the return of the Melkites and other EC’s to Orthodoxy from being tired of Rome and seeing through the veil. This would be a blessing as we would get the best of theirs, whereas Catholicism would get the worst of ours.  The one exception to this will be the UGCC, they would never return to Orthodoxy. What also should be discussed is the potential return of the Oriental Orthodox to Chalcedonian Orthodoxy, which the Russian Church seems to be spearheading 

      • Antiochene SOn says

        I could see the monasteries going under ROCOR, which has been a haven for conservative Greeks in the past. 
        Metropolitan Joseph is working hard to bring a serious monastic presence into the Antiochian Archdiocese, so something might be possible there too.
        But let’s pray none of this happens. Even if it would unite the other Churches, I’m not sure this price is worth paying. It would be tragic in cities which have good pan-Orthodox relations.

        • Wholeheartedly agree. My metro area, DFW, is one such area that has amazing pan-Orthodox relations, but, those that tend to me more involved are the more “traditional” ones, often converts 

        • Dino Tsortanidis says

          I don’t know much in such affairs, but I believe George knows my source in Arizona. My understanding from that source is that the Ephraim monasteries will go under the MP, but ONLY when/if the EP partners up with Rome, and the GOA follows along. Actually the Ephraim monasteries are the GOA’s only hope and leverage that we do not follow the possible EP/Rome union. It might be a win/win for Orthodoxy in America. One of the reasons I have been optimistic and have faith all will work out for the best.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Excellent analysis, Menas.  You have given us much to think about.


      • Parishes in the USA aren’t going to fall apart because of Bartholomew’s tomos for the OCU.  The vast majority of Orthodox parishioners don’t participate in Orthodox forums or seek out Orthodox articles. They have no idea what has occurred.

        When parishioners eventually realize Bartholomew intends to slowly push us into unity with the Roman Catholics, THAT’S when all hell will break loose.  Because his “push” is occurring insidiously, this chaos won’t occur for many years. 

        • Antiochene Son says

          Parishes will realize it pretty quickly if Antioch breaks communion, at least in places like my area, where there are good pan-orthodox relations and many joint services and activities.

          When Mrs. Georgette Papas suddenly has to direct the choir for five Akathist services during Lent rather than just one, people will be talking.

      • Alitheia1875 says

        The GOA Metropolitan of Denver, Isaiah, tends to be more conservative than the other GOA bishops. Incidentally he is also a Marine veteran. Many of the smaller GOA parishes are still controlled by a mindset that says all things Greek rule. The president of a small GOA parish in New Jersey actually said that his parish has gotten smaller because “Hellenism”, i.e. Greeks/Greek Americans, had moved away.

    • Thank you, Peter, for your remarks about the “mathematical equivalence” of a layperson being under a particular bishop.  This line of reasoning is EXACTLY why “zealot” — (I don’t know what is the politically correct term to use at this message board) — friends of mine insist that I am wrong not to leave the canonical Church.  If ANY hierarch within my jurisdiction tolerates and/or espouses a wrong belief, then axiomatically I have a deadly communicable disease and my only hope of cure is to “go rogue.” 

  6. Antiochene Son says

    Greece, Constantinople, and Alexandria are in communion with schismatics. If that makes those three canonical Churches schismatic, then are not all the other sister Churches also schismatic? Is Russia itself not schismatic? After all, they are in communion with those in communion with schismatics—Antioch, Serbia, and everyone else.
    This is a bad precedent to set, and is not in line with how the Church dealt with even the most grievous heresies in history. I support Russia’s actions heretofore, but this cannot be allowed to turn into a purity spiral. Must all the churches working for peace among the Churches now be forced to choose a side?

    I hope this issue has been raised for the purpose of knocking it down, and not for the purpose of serious discussion.

    • Orthodoxy is in a mess. A shambles. A shambolic mess. But it always has been.
      Nevertheless, there are some lines, drawn in the sand, which cannot be crossed;
      not by those who wish to remain Orthodox.
      The chiefest (dogmatic) issue, identified by St Photios the Great, is the Filioque.
      Another is that best expressed by St Mark of Ephesus in his Encyclical Letter thus:
      “…the Pope is as one of the Patriarchs, and that alone—if he be Orthodox”;
      which I expand thus: “How can a bishop of Constantinople be more than this?”

      • Alitheia1875A says

        The EP’s metropolitan in Italy is in Milan and not Rome. Why? Because, ecclesiologically speaking, if he, or any other Orthodox bishop for that matter, was in Rome then that bishop could be considered Pope.

        • Johann Sebastian says

          I always wondered why we Orthodox haven’t set up a parallel Roman Patriarchate. After all, they maintain an Antiochian Patriarchate and have in the past maintained Jerusalemite and Constantinopolitan ones. Alexandria has a Coptic Catholic patriarch as well.

          • Antiochene Son says

            Even though a heretic and schismatic, in some sense we still recognize the Roman Catholic Pope as being the heir to the historical title. I suppose we still give deference to the Pope which would not be given to any other Roman Bishop, or even fellow Orthodox bishops in the diaspora.

        • Uhm… not really. The EP metropolitan Gennadios (Zervos) actually lives and has his cathedral in Venice (not in Milan), but that is just because the longest-standing Greek presence in Italy (around 500 years) is in Venice. In fact, he does not claim the title of metropolitan OF Venice (…or of any other town in Italy! This is one of those funny privileges of a diaspora: you don’t even have to pretend that you are the local historical Church).
          As a matter of fact, any bishop could be a bishop IN Rome without claiming to be the bishop OF Rome (much less being considered Pope). There are (surprise!) TWO Oriental Orthodox Bishops, one Copt and one Ethiopian, who actually live and serve IN Rome without making any such claim.

    • As seems right now, Communion has been broken with Constantinople, and any hierarchs (from other Churches) who commemorate and are in communion with Epiphany. It’s going to get real messy…especially in America.

  7. Manassas, my advice to you, is stay with your wife in the GOA. No jurisdiction has yet declared that there is no grace in the  GOA. We pray that things will not get worse, at which time decisions will have to be made. I say this as one of Greek background, brought up in the GOA, and was fully involved in the church including 10 years of GOYA. I left decades ago for ROCOR. My wife was also cradle GOA and left to join ROCOR with me. But in your case, my opinion is that at this time, the strength of your marriage trumps the need to leave GOA.

    • Manassas,
      if I may jump in,
      it is better the other way round,
      leave the GOA now and come back later when things are better, if you like.
      If many people leave GOA now, it will  give Bartholomew a lesson, and maybe GOA  will be saved from a Papist catastrophe. 

  8. Peter: “Manassas, my advice to you, is stay with your wife in the GOA. No jurisdiction has yet declared that there is no grace in the GOA.”
    I do not dare to give a advise, but it is what I would do. I would go with my wife to GOA parish, but I would not commune there. For the sacraments I would go the other jurisdiction once in a while, and travel far if necessary. For my wife I would go even to the RC or Protestant church, without active participation, just as a discrete observer. One needs to be a kind husband (or wife).

  9. Johann Sebastian says

    In today’s news–in Russian. John of Antioch is standing by his word.

  10. If every autocephalous Church with the exception of Russia decided to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics. I would stay with Russia/ROCOR. For a bishop to look at this situation and not be able to see that Bartholomew is in communion with a bunch of laymen pretending to be hierarchs…absolutely blows my mind!

  11. George,
    I have never learned what was the actual conflict between Met. Jonah and others, or his mistake, that was the basis for his retirement as the OCA’s Metropolitan. One reason is because it seemed like an unpleasant affair in an organization that I loved – the OCA – and so I didn’t have a strong desire to find out about it. But now after reading so much about how the EP is coming apart spiritually, with its declarations of vertical supremacy, I am thinking back over the conflict with Met. Jonah.
    Clearly, he did not get along with the hierarchs of the Synod of the OCA for some reason. I remember that he was insisting on buying an expensive property that the OCA did not need for its headquarters, and that there were assertions that he needed rest and recuperation for psychological reasons.
    To me, this is very vague. OK, supposing that his request for a new building was a mistake and was his only fault, then they could just override him on this one issue. It seems like there was some other, deeper reason for the conflict. For instance, was he or the other hierarchs actually doing something deeply immoral that nether side openly admitted? Or was it just a matter  that he had a personality problem in interpersonal relations, as the assertion about his psychological need for recuperation and rest implies?Like I said, I have a pretty positive view of all involved- the OCA, Met. Jonah, and the hierarchs of the Synod, so I wasn’t particularly interested in finding out more. But I want to ask you about it, because now I have been reading so much about the EP’s problems, that I thought back about this problem in my own jurisdiction. Plus, as I remember, you were writing in support of Met. Jonah when the conflict occurred.

    • Not wanting to re-hash the persecution against Metropolitan Jonah. I will only say this:
      He was a very good Bishop with the OCA…and he is a very good Bishop with ROCOR.

    • I love Met. Jonah and his work. I do believe, as Marilyn Swezey has said, that Met. Jonah is in a unique position to be able to explain Orthodoxy to an American audience. He is, after all, fully American, having grown up near San Diego and born into the episcopal church. He understands the frame of reference of most Americans and understands where we’re coming from, what underlying cultural “assumptions” we bring to the table (which are often wrong), etc. As Bp Basil Rodzianko brought Orthodoxy to millions of unchurched Russians who grew up under communism, Met. Jonah works to spread it in our land. 

      That being said, remember that he was “Bishop of Fort Worth” for about 10-11 days before being elevated to Metropolitan!  As Met. Jonah says himself, his ascent was at an astronomical pace, and so was his “downfall!”  

      He was not set up to succeed from the get go. Indeed, his election as Metropolitan was to put the new guy in charge to deflect attention from the old crew, some of whom were knee deep in the financial scandal of the early/mid 2000s. Recall that Met. Theodosius “retired” in 2002, for unclear reasons (he is still alive today, 17 years later…. one wonders why he had to retire then?).  Then Met. Herman was in charge for 6 years (“retired” in 2008, and still alive today). These were the days of the former-Fr Robert Kondratick and his alleged escapades.  

      The old boys club Syosset leadership wanted the attention off of them – thus they deflected to Met. Jonah. Problem is, Met. Jonah took his God-given position seriously!  He was set to use his position to bring Orthodoxy to unchurched Americans.

      The old guard didn’t like his style, and they had more power and influence than he did.  Just as they used their power to put him in charge to deflect attention, they used their power to take him down. 

      In full disclosure, I fully support Met. Jonah’s Holy Archangels Foundation (the continuation of Bp. Basil Rodzianko’s work) and his efforts to establish a Russian-style English-language monastery in the D.C. area. I attend his fantastic talks on Tuesday nights at the St John Cathedral in DC when I’m in DC, and I listen to them online in the car all the time. 

      Anyone who’s remotely interested in bringing our faith to Americans should be attuned to Met. Jonah and his work. He seems well situated in ROCOR and has done much to help “reclaim” ROCOR’s missionary heritage in America dating back to St Herman of Alaska and St Tikhon and many others (since they were the same church at the time, both ROCOR and the OCA rightfully are inheritors if this heritage).  He has done amazing work to help ROCOR move past its “sectarian” stage of the 1960s-1980s when many non-Russians felt excluded from it. 

      Met. Jonah doesn’t seem to bear ill will toward the OCA – indeed, he seems to be in favor of anything that spreads the Gospel in our country. He does seem to believe, as I do now, that the future of missionizing to the unchurched in the Americas lies with ROCOR and the work of the Russian Orthodox Church (worldwide, ROCOR is largely the missionary arm of the Russian Orthodox Church in the English-speaking world).  

      I do agree that the future of the OCA seems tenuous, with its modernist element and its C’ple/Rome sympathizers. My guess is that in 5-10 years, the OCA will splinter, probably after C’ple/GOA formally enters communion with and goes under Rome. The Orthodox element of the OCA will probably merge with ROCOR, and the modernist element will become Uniates like the GOA has done and is planning to do.  I could be wrong – probably I am – but that’s my impression of things. 

      As an aside, I owe a lot to the OCA, as it was my first entry into English-language Orthodoxy nearly 30 years ago. I love the works of Fr Alexander Schmemann and Fr Tom Hopko, among others. I love the vision of an English language church for Americans. I simply think that with the tsunamis unleashed against the church over recent years, the tiny OCA can’t survive independently long-term in a hostile land with no deep Orthodox roots to draw from.  The Russian Church survived 70 years of communism, but she had nearly 1000 years of Slavic Orthodox history supporting her. Americans don’t have that. 

      Great question, brother. I’m so thankful to George for providing this forum for connection and exchange of thoughts and ideas. Many years, my friends.

      • Use Occam’s Razor here — Jonah didn’t work well with the Synod and made many unilateral actions in the way he was accustomed to do as abbot, the position from which he was elected so recent to his elevation to Primate. Metr. Jonah was very much a West Coast person with strong ties to ROCOR and none to Syosset. I’m not going to go into specifics of his viewpoints vs. Syosset but he did want to have the Chancery relocated very soon. From personal experience, this rings a warning bell: as a new guy trying to assert himself by changing things up, a fellow engenders opposition he is in no position to deflect or absorb, having garnered insufficient trust in his judgement, etc.
        Jonah came into Syosset a little too hot and fast and immediately set himself in opposition to the status quo – many aspects of which did need to be changed. But he didn’t form a good working relationship with the rest of the crew and things just went downhill rapidly.
        I know many here are still sore about the way Jonah’s programs came to naught. But to remain entrenched in resentment is unbecoming. I see nothing in the governance of the OCA that is egregious. I see honest men and women who love Christ trying to do the job of being the Church. They do it unpretentiously and meekly. You want them to come out fighting, galvanizing opinions and doubling down on controversies? That’s not the way of the Church. 
        Let us let Jonah go in grace. I was excited briefly too when he was elected, and thought he was very good at speaking the truth, like he did to Elpidophoros’ attack in 2008. But when I gauged responses to what I thought was a brilliant defense of autocephaly, I found that more polite folks  like Frederica Mathewes-Green among others had quite a different impression. It was already the beginning of the end at that opening salvo. 
        Sorry folks, I love Metr. Jonah probably more than most of you, because I knew him personally for a long time. I  touch in 2010 but have no ill will for him and wish he could have stayed in office. I had hoped things could be worked out, but apparently the job was toxic to him. Metr. Tikhon seems to be doing very well and under his presidency the Synod governs pretty well with no substantial issues.  

        • George Michalopulos says

          Claes, this is one of those issues in which on two points at least, we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

          Point #1: His eloquent declaration of independence against the present GOA primate and the EP’s stunning papalism was spot on. I’m sorry that some fine people like Fredericka saw it differently but given the present circumstances, I think its necessary that we get all other non-GOA bishops some of the same liquor that Jonah drank at the time. We need more of Jonah’s courage, not less.

          Point #2: Upon his accession to the primacy, Jonah became a rock star. And prophet: When he became one of the first people to sign The Manhattan Declaration, he preached forcefully about what would happen to this nation once we went down this path. As Chaplain-general for Orthodox servicemen in the Armed Forces, his predictions regarding what would happen with the erasure of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell have proven to be remarkably prescient.

          Maybe it’s because I’m a big picture guy that I overlook the details which you write about (and which are probably true).

          • George Michalopulos says

            In any event, I am going to exercise editorial privilege and ask that no more discussion about this be entertained.

            • George,
              After the premature retirements of Met.s Theodosius and Herman and Fr. Kondratick, and knowing about scandals in the Catholic Church, and seeing that Met. Jonah was forced to resign soon afterwards without much clear reasons given, I thought that there could have been some unstated reason for his early retirement. For instance, he wrote an essay called The Doors if Repentance about the HOOMS brotherhood that was I think involved in those kinds of scandals. The article says: “[Met. Jonah] has been closely acquainted with the fathers of the St. Herman Brotherhood for over twenty years, and with the CSB for ten years.”

              But it sounds like from what you and others are saying is that it wasn’t anything like that, there were no unstated reasons, it was basically an issue of personality conflicts.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                What you’re reading is a synopsis of the journey of the Holy Order of Manns. Their problems had nothing to do with Metropolitan Jonah.

                Metropolitan Jonah was forced to resign because the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council just didn’t like him. They behaved like the “mean girls” you see in these high school movies. They didn’t like him because:

                (1) He was a rock star not only with the laity in the OCA but with the laity in other jurisdictions like the AOCNA. His speeches were electric.
                (2) He had a close relationship with ROCOR and they were paranoid of the Russias.
                (3) He came from an Episcopal background.
                (4) He acted like a metropolitan and didn’t feel he needed to consult with the Metropolitan Council to move forward.
                (5) He was zealous. He was the first to sign the Manhattan Declaration and came out strongly for the March for Life.
                (6) He was more pastoral in his approach to address personnel issues. For example, he got medical help for one alcoholic monk and made arrangements to transfer him to another jurisdiction where he wouldn’t be under the same scrutiny. The powers-that-be were angry the monk wasn’t brought up on charges because when he was drunk he showed his pocket knife to a woman who went out with him for a smoke one evening.
                (7) He wanted to move chancery to Washington DC because he was the Archbishop of Washington DC and Metropolitan of all America and Canada. Seems reasonable to me he might want to reside where he was working as the Archbishop.
                (8) He brought in some nuns from Greece who were disliked by the Syosset so he transferred them to ROCOR rather than transferring them back to Greece.

                Those were the reasons I remember, as stupid as they sound. They just didn’t like him. It had nothing to do with HOOM. If they had some legitimate gripe, they wouldn’t have gone to such ridiculous measures to get rid of him.

                • Gail,
                  Thanks for explaining. I remember numbers 4 and 7 above, and it still seems to me that they were the main two reasons.
                  Personally, I like Met. Jonah, the OCA and the synod in general. My impression is that some people have gifts or talents in some areas and other people have them in other areas. Maybe the main leadership position of the OCA was not a very good fit for him. It doesn’t mean that he or the OCA were bad overall.
                  To give an example, IIRC I read once that Joseph the Hesychast hit a monk under him with a stick. Maybe it was a different elder, and maybe it was a regular practice. But regardless, it would be a case where an elder does a good job with Hesychasm and his own asceticism, but is not specially gifted for tutelage as a master over another monk. Otherwise I think he could have found a way to avoid this as a normal practice. I am not implying that Met. Jonah was abusive, just making a point that spiritual people have different gifts.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    I would agree, Rako, it was not a good fit for him. But boy was I disappointed. He did a speech in Dallas, where he said with regard to Batholomew, “If we wanted a pope we’d be under the real one!” The man is a straight shooter and I love him for that.

                    • “If we wanted a pope we’d be under the real one!” – That is a good quote, because I am skeptical that the Filioque and other factors would have been enough to break the EOs from the RCs if the EOs considered the Pope to have supremacy over the Church.

                    • “If we wanted a pope we’d be under the real one”

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      No popes. Not a good idea.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Gail, it was Holy Order of MANS.  Met Jonah looked favorably upon their ability to repent and find the Orthodox Church which many subsequently did including several priests in the OCA. 
                  While there were some sexual improprieties, they were mostly focused on one man and another man Pokrov hounded.

                  It has not existed for over 20 years. It had absolutely nothing to do with the OCA Synod disliking Met Jonah

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Thanks, Michael.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      In the interest of full disclosure as many here already know, I was a member of the Holy Order of MANS from 1972-1980 as a vowed brother and part of the non-vowed group from 1980-1986. I was received into the Orthodox Church in 1987.

                      I will always be thankful for my time in the Order because it was an avenue for coming closer to Jesus Christ and His Church despite its seeming quite otherwise.

                      Many mistakes were made, including following vagrante Orthodox initially after the Order became Christ the Savior Brotherhood (which happened after I had been received). Abuses regretfully occurred. Nevertheless, the journey continued and it was the greatest joy of my life when my brother was ordained to the Orthodox diaconate and priesthood by his grace Met. Joseph of the Bulgarian Archdiocese in A.D. 2000. On the day of his ordination to the diaconate, when Met. Joseph came out to serve communion, my son held the napkin in front of the Cup on one side and my brother, the new deacon on the other. A perfect example of His grace and mercy. I have several friends from the old days who are also Orthodox priests, most of them in the OCA.

                      Keep in mind the Order received many borderline people some directly off the streets but we also went where many other mainline Christians did not go. I think the maximum number associated with the Order never exceeded 1500 maybe 2000 but there was always within the Order a quest to find the truth and for those who wanted the full truth, the quest was fulfilled in the Orthodox Church.

                      For me, the Order provided by far the easiest avenue of getting to the Church and I do not think I am alone in perceiving that. We went backwards through church history starting in the syncretistic new age Christianity, moving to a Protestant period, then a Catholic period and finally to the Church. People got off the train along the way, not making the next step.

                      Nevertheless, the Order had Jesus Christ as the central focus and a sense of His sacramental reality. He and His mother were there with us, despite our often heretical beliefs. If that were not so, I would not be in the Church.

                      It took me years of repentance and I must continue to guard my heart, to overcome, by the grace of God, some of those beliefs and their effect on my soul. Nevertheless, by His grace, they have been overcome, as Met Jonah foresaw.

                      I have seen personally the dire consequences of genuine heresy, although we did not know the Truth to begin with.

                      To compare in any way the systemic sexual predation that seems to be in the Roman Catholic Church and possibly our own to what happened in the Order is simply wrong. In fact, fornication within the Order was forbidden and, if it occurred, the people were often asked to leave. Sin still manifested.

                      We had a lot of junk that we needed to repent of. We all are definitely grafted on to the vine, but I can also say confidently: “What God has cleansed, call though not unclean.”

                      For anyone reading this who was hurt by the HOOM or the CSB, I implore your forgiveness, and always will.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      You were in good company, my friend. I’ve known several Orthodox from HOOM and they are all good people. How some paint HOOM with such a wide brush is a grave injustice, as far as I’m concerned.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      I also must say that Rev Peter Gilquist, of blessed memory, thought us lazy.  He told me that to my face in a rather dismissive way.  He was right in one sense. We just went with the flow of things as befitted the rather unmoored  folks we were.  We had no real clue what we were working toward and nothing to check it against.  We just wanted the Truth.  

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      It takes quite a bit of spiritual growth to get to the point where you want the Truth.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      These ‘searching’ stories truly fascinate me, and one day it would be interesting to have a thread devoted to them.
                      The Evangelical Orthodox story is especially interesting, because of the intense process by which that group over the years approached Orthodoxy, and how it maintained cohesion over many years. 
                      Michael Bauman’s testimony is also of great interest; individuals and groups with an intense spirituality, exploring various avenues to the truth. (These are my own inadequate capsule descriptions.)
                      My own path was that of a very worldly layman, but long active in a ‘mainline’ Protestant church, whose study gradually exposed me to Orthodoxy and led me to be something of a ‘fellow traveler’ for decades before conversion.
                      And I’ve always thought of myself not as a ‘spiritual’ person at all, but, rather, as a religious one. If one gets the distinction (which may exist only in my own mind….).

                      One thing that the process left me with is a conviction of the truth of Orthodoxy, but a less jaundiced view of Western Christianity than is often on display here.

  12. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today in The National Herald.
    The Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine is a Fact
    By TNH Staff 
    December 17, 2019

    • Greatly Sadenned I see in the national herald article the Greek bishop of new lands promoting the new supremacy ecclesiology of the Phanar. 

  13. Michael Bauman says

    Tim, Journey to Orthodoxy is a web site devoted to those stories as well as a resource for those making the journey. 

    This is the title of a long letter sent to ORTHODOXOS TYPOS (Orthodox Press) weekly newspaper
    by the 90-year-old priest Fr.Ioannis Diotis, well known for his Reprint of the Bible Concordances of Bruder and Hatch Redpath. 
    The letter has also been published by some web-sites.
    Here is the beginning of the article translated semi-automatically:  


    By Pr.Fr. Ioannis K. Diotis, Theologian – Journalist – Writer – Publisher.

    “I weep and with tears lament”.The Ecumenical Patriarch Fr. Bartholomew, shaking and bedraggling Orthodoxy by his monstrous ecclesiological felony of by-him formed pseudo-Church of Kiev from defrocked, anathematized, unordained, self-ordained and schismatics, he is lying shamelessly and cheating noticeably….”

    Full letter:

  15. Michael Bauman says

    Gail Sheppard says
    December 16, 2019 at 9:16 pm
    It takes quite a bit of spiritual growth to get to the point where you want the Truth.

    Not really. At least not for me. I had it from the beginning because that is what my parents taught me. It is a way of thinking rather than a spiritual attainment. It helped me avoid the worst pitfalls of living in a totally heretical milleau. I had had an encounter with Jesus Christ and as a long as I wanted Him, I was protected from the most serious damage. There were four levels in the Order:
    1. Poseurs who were just there for some freebies–they did not last long
    2. Folks who were looking for occult answers and power. They generally left when the original founder of the Order died in 1973
    3. Folks who were religiously inclined by wanted something more–those folks generally either dropped into the “spiritual but not religious” crowd or went back to their Christian faith of origin.
    4. Folks who wanted Jesus Christ fully and well. Despite my sinfulness, that is were I was. Repentance and the forgiveness that is its companion has been the most difficult aspect of life in the Orthodox Church. It is, in fact where the Orthodox Church differs from all the other options out there. When I give a tour of our Holy Temple, I always point that out to people. It is a distinct theological and praxis difference.

    Protestants, if they confess just do it directly to Jesus Christ

    RCs confess to a priest and the priest forgives them–the confessional booth is a standard and the concomitant separation between the penitent and the confessor.

    We on the other hand, kneel in front of an icon of the Good Thief–WITH the priest there as both guardian and guide as we confess to our Lord Jesus Christ. The absolution, if it comes, comes through the priest and is sealed by him.

    That alone gives the lie to Black Bart’s contention.

    • In St Dmitri Cathedral in Thessaloniki I noticed a confessional booth. It had glass windows to be sure, but was a confessional booth

  16. No change in the Diptychs of the Church of Greece for 2020. Onoufrios remains the only Metropolitan of Kiev.

    Reactions to the Church of Greece’s recognition of Ukraine’s pseudo-autocephaly appear to have yielded results.

    More (in Greek):