Ecclesioclasm Interview: What’s Wrong with the GOA? –Part I

Recently, Fr John Peck, the host of the Ecclesioclasm podcast, asked a rhetorical question; specifically, what was wrong with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America?

Rather than rehash the latest scandal du jour, it seemed that a roundtable of prominent Greek-Americans would be better inclined to offer their insights into the problems which plague the GOA (and the Ecumenical Patriarchate) at present.

Two such men were James G Jatras and Nick Stamatakis, both of whose works you know.  Surprisingly, Yours Truly was asked to participate as well.  (Needless to say, I was extremely honored to be considered in their company.)

At any rate, when you get three Greeks together, there’s no way that you can get all that needs to be said in an hour.  And so, Fr John, who hosted this interview, divided it up into two parts.  No doubt, at the rate that things are going, there will probably be more such podcasts in the future!

In any event, we hope you enjoy “What’s Wrong with the GOA?, Part I.”


  1. “In a real sense – in America – traditional Orthodoxy is all that’s left.” That was Fr. John Peck’s final comment in Part I. I sense in my heart that he is right.

    I am the only Orthodox member of my family. As the husband of one, the father of three and the grandfather of seven, I find myself increasingly concerned in the midst of this crazy world that my progeny discover the truth of Fr. John’s statement. Most of my family are Christians, but there is a righteousness and a fullness that only traditional Orthodoxy has to offer.

    Thanks for posting your group’s interview, George.

  2. A priest moderating conversations (albeit only with people who are extremely critical of the GOA) about what is wrong with a particular jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church? What about focusing on ministering to the people entrusted to his care in his parish family? Totally inappropriate behavior for a priest. Is this a new model for faithful stewardship of time on the part of the clergy? Wow!

    • Ah, yes, because pretending that everything is fine and dandy with the GOA is good pastorship? Sorry to break it to you, but letting your flock know where the wolves are is good pastorship.

      • Interesting that concern about a ROCOR priest and others critical of the GOA engaging in a public dialogue about their concerns is interpreted as “pretending that everything is fine and dandy with the GOA.” Not at all my intent. But bashing, criticizing, judging, name-calling–not appropriate for any of us. There is a way of standing for Truth, which is honorable.

        • I guess the Church Fathers were dishonorable in your eyes, because they certainly “bashed,’ “criticized,” “judged” and “name-called” when they saw fit. Concern trolls like you like to go after those calling out the wolves, but never the wolves themselves. “Concerned Orthodox Christians” give more flack to people like Fr. Peter Heers than they do those tearing the Church apart.

          • So you are now comparing yourself and those bashing the GOA to “church fathers?” Wow, a high and mighty perch! May the Lord have mercy on all of us.

            • And now for some piety signaling. Nice. So spiritual. Much humble.

              Sorry, but you ain’t gonna get me with that.

            • Lay people called stuff out too in the early Church and in times of heresy, not only Church Fathers, were far from quiet and polite. There was quite a debate going on in the marketplaces while ecumenical councils were happening. And sometimes laity rioted over bad bishops, even threw them out appointed their own good ones. Maybe we should go back to those days.

      • I agree. Pretending is detrimental to all involved.

    • A Parishioner says

      I’m a former parishioner now helping establish another mission, so I can shed light on the situation. We were perfectly happy in the Vicariate for Palestinians and Jordanians under the EP. If I could compare it to anything, it was like being in a more traditionalist version of the Antiochian Archdiocese. We helped them start a mission in Phoenix and were warmly and enthusiastically supported by this sort of sub-diocese. It *was* great.

      Archbishop Elpidophoros came and replaced +Demetrios and with a mixture of hope and trepidation we waited to see what he would do here. The situation in the Vicariate devolved very quickly and it was nearly dissolved in order to gain clout with the Antiochian Archdiocese after the Archimandrite who was supposed to be our bishop was unjustly railroaded and left the country. Shortly thereafter, the completely bewildering and utterly uncanonical and political creation of the so-called “Orthodox Church in Ukraine” began along with the servile claims from our Arch-pastor to the universal jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch beyond the appellate jurisdiction appropriate to his primacy. These were not even real clergy who went into schism and were received into this entity. Their “church” was a mixture of ultra-nationalist fascists, hardcore ecumenists making overtures to Rome, “clergy” ordained in a lineage from the blasphemous consecration of “bishops” by the corpse of a bishop, and sectarian nutcases all united in a hatred of Russians propagated in a decades long campaign to remove Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence. Moreover, as Fr. John mentions in the video, +Elpidophoros had “Epiphany” ordain clergy in the United States and also brought some of these false clergy to the US to concelebrate with clergy under the EP as a loyalty test. Following this were the lockdowns and the ever increasing pressure on all of us under the EP TO NOT DO THE WORK CHRIST COMMANDED US TO DO. Do you have any idea the amount of pressure on EP clergy during this time to either comply with robbing the faithful of the sacraments, blaspheme Holy Communion with “adjustments” such as multiple spoons and antiseptic wipes(?!) or to risk bucking these impious and scandalous orders at the risk of disciplinary actions that could end in the parish having no clergy to provide the Holy Mysteries? Remember those live-streamed services we were all doing? Are you aware that while the stated pretense of this was to provide some consolation to those forced to remain home from the Life-Giving and Awesome work of the Liturgy, the real reason was to spy on parishes to make sure the clergy and laity were adhering to the restrictions? We left because we had to, and when we requested release, they even rubber stamped it for us. ROCOR welcomed us, supported us, and ecstatically supported our missionary work. It was an immense relief to finally feel safe again.

      Since this time, +Elpidophoros has continually attacked the foundations of the faith. He has marched with rioters who openly use Marxist signalling, who burned down businesses and homes in my hometown (including the homes of old friends who supported them), he has awarded politicians who support infanticide and thinly veiled proxy wars, he has OPENLY said that while he considers abortion to be infanticide women should be free to do it, he has further watered down liturgical practices in GOA parishes, he has intimidated his fellow bishops of other jurisdictions by throwing the weight of the Ecumenical throne around, baptized the children of a homosexual “couple” with non-Orthodox “godparents” for social clout and under false pretenses, and has been a continuous scandal in innumerable ways. He has furthered division among the Orthodox jurisdictions in America, given false and soul destroying comfort to obstinate sinners, punished the faithful, and been a source of endless consternation and anxiety to faithful clergy who suffer in silence because they are afraid to speak up.
      The GOA is a giant mess, an obstacle to Orthodox unity, and a barrier to our duty to evangelize our nation. We can speak openly about it, because their hierarchy can’t do anything to us. Unless the people under the EP start to wake up to the ecclesiastical crisis happening because of their hierarchy and vote with their feet and wallets, nothing will improve. We must not proclaim “‘peace’ where there is no peace” as the prophets say. Things are getting worse at an exponential rate and we have a nation to evangelize. The collapse or apostasy of the GOA everyone is murmuring about in grim expectation is becoming a more clear and stark reality by the day and the consequences will be devastating for all of us. Pretending that this isn’t an imminent possibility helps no one.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        People accuse me of being too optimistic, but I really think when the war in Ukraine is over and the tide turns against globalism, which it appears to be doing due to the attempted “extinction event,” and the ruin they’ve inflicted around the world, that the Russian Patriarchate is going to address the problem with Bartholomew. Not that he will cooperate with any kind of spiritual court, but it will force a split; a split that already exists but no one wants to acknowledge it. Bartholomew and his patriarchy left the Church when they went into Ukraine. His brother bishops begged him not to do it. When you think about it, the very foundation of the Church is based on the premise that the bishops must bout meet and come to an agreement about something like this and Bartholomew areach a consensus a matters that

      • A Parishioner says, “Remember those live-streamed services we were all doing? Are you aware that while the stated pretense of this was to provide some consolation to those forced to remain home from the Life-Giving and Awesome work of the Liturgy, the real reason was to spy on parishes to make sure the clergy and laity were adhering to the restrictions?”

        Now, that statement caught my eye. I was on the parish council of a GOA church when we enthusiastically spun up Internet access to services during the height of the so-called pandemic. Live-streaming (and a brand new website) now seems to have been a desperate attempt to maintain the congregations’ public prayers to God and our bond with each other. I was either too stupid or too naive to even think that the push for going online with the services was to create access for the metropolitan powers to surveil the parish in order to make sure priest and parish weren’t breaking any of the Covidian rules. Spies R Us a la GOA, eh? Hmm.

        What A Parishioner says above makes sense to me now, because it was very clear to us on the council that we were expected to observe the strictest of all state, local and metropolitan rules. We practically turned the parish upside down in order to toe the line — and unwittingly turned the Faith upside down in the process! As time went on, I and one other councilor urged the council to down pedal the restrictions and do our best to not turn people away from the mysteries, but the nurse (with doctorate), the doctor and the lawyer on the council insisted that we play by all the petty rules, and the priest meekly obeyed. The unspoken fear was that someone might catch the bug at church, get really sick or die, and then sue the property out from underneath us. Legal counsel said that, as officers of the parish, we each might be held liable in his personal capacity for such a remote catastrophe.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          All true. Parishioners were hiding out of view of the cameras.

          • George Michalopulos says

            A GOA priest told us that during Great Lent, his bishop had several screens open on his computers and taking headcounts of parishioners. If there was one or more than was allocated by the CDC, he’d call the offending priest and take him to task.

            In reality though, were these cameras not a beta test for Big Brother? To see who shows up for Church on any given Sunday? Forget about the “pandemic,” now these cameras are installed in the churches.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              My parish’s livestream doesn’t show people receiving communion. This was a decision of our parish priest.

              After the prayers when the chalice come out, the camera goes to the choir until communion is finished. It’s a good practice, I think.

              • The county health commissioner of the county where my parish resides had reinstated a mask mandate last spring while all surrounding counties had lifted theirs. Coming from a non-masking county, my children and I came to church without masks. But the parish council members barred us from entering. They tried to convince us to take one of the complimentary masks they offered, but we said no. So we stood at the doors just outside the church and kindly adhered to their rules. This was too shameful for them to bear, so after a few minutes they allowed us inside the church maskless. That’s when we were admonished to sit behind the livestream cameras. It was then I first understood that these cameras were sinister and not simply for the benefit of those parishioners who could not attend service in person. It was also when I realized just how performative this Covid dance really was, as few church members and clergy truly believed in all the mandates and restrictions, but went along with it all so as not to rock the boat or attract negative reaction from woke secular fiefs.

      • George Michalopulos says

        A Parishioner: your indictment is very eloquent. As stated, I definitely feel the pain in your voice.

        Truly, I was worried about the title of this video (which I more or less chose) and I was also worried that it would be unnecessarily harsh to the GOA. I don’t want that. I have kith and kin in the GOA and the overwhelming majority of the people I personally know are exceedingly good people. As are two of the priests I know and of course Metropolitan Isaiah (whose sanctity reminds me of the Venerable Dmitri of Dallas).

        So I was hesitant to say the least. I realize also that it’s not proper to “call out” another jurisdiction in the ordinary run of things. And until I read your words, I was feeling more than a little guilt. But no more. What you write here is a truth-bomb; explosive, yes but truthful nonetheless.

        • Solidarity Priest says

          Yes, Metropolitan Isaiah for sure. Another Metroplitan of the EP, Iliya of the tiny Albanian diocese, was one of the good guys. He just reposed. None of his churches were shut down, but since there were only two or three of them, nobody noticed. Also, Metropolitan Gregory of ACROD. When the question of multiple spoons for communion came up, he stated,”We’re not doing that.”

  3. This discussion was very helpful to me as an American convert late in life. Currently, I have stepped back from attending church due to the confusion and chaos taking place within Orthodox Christianity due to what. I believe is government interference.

    Question: Can anyone provide us as to how smoothly the GOA conducted itself according to God’s word before Lyndon Johnson gave US churches non profit status? I would
    appreciate any historical links on this.

    My Chrismation and entrance as a convert into the GOA was the happiest time of my life until I started experiencing church politics and government intervention.

    Bring everything into the Light! Time to turn the lights off on the Fordamites.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Currently, I have stepped back from attending church due to the confusion and chaos taking place within Orthodox Christianity due to what.

      Then the Devil has won. Please go back to church, the sacraments are the only place you can find Life.

      • I don’t think leaving a schismatic body led by heresiarchs and apostates is letting the devil win. In fact, it’s praiseworthy. Prior to 2018, I might have encouraged those in GOARCH to stay and pray for the best. But the heresy of sine paribus plus the schismatic activity regarding the OCU is too much for me.

        If you are in GOARCH, flee. If you have fled, do not look back lest you be turned into a pillar of salt.

        Now, of course, you are responsible for finding a better home for your soul which I strongly encourage you to do.

        • Misha, I disagree. We must remember that the Athonite (Elder Ephraim) monasteries have not left GOA. Leaving a jurisdiction because of immoral behavior and bad teaching is an American sectarian mindset that is not Orthodox. If we have strength, we must fight within and stand up for the Orthodox faith. To leave GOA would be to condemn the Athonite monasteries as well. Do you know if the Greek monasteries speak against our worldly bishops?

          • Every time a communicant of the GOA attends services and every time he (or she) partakes of the chalice, he is praying to Christ and receiving spiritual nourishment. Yes, admittedly. By faith we are saved through the graces that the Church has to offer. Nevertheless, such a one is also at the same time quietly supporting the hierarchy of the GOA and pledging his allegiance to the bishop through whose omophorion the Eucharist is celebrated. No bishop? No Church and no sacraments. That is catholic and orthodox dogma.

            Now, if the hierarchy is demonstrated to be fiscally corrupt, sexually immoral, heretical or schismatic, then such a heretofore-innocent communicant is perhaps unwittingly a participant in the sin of the hierarch. Bartholomew and Elpidophoros have made it eminently clear time and again that they are not faithful guardians of the Faith once delivered to the saints. On the contrary, they are the very source of the rot that is spreading in the GOA. The rot won’t stop until they are stopped, or repent, or resign. There are still communicants in the GOA who are not aware of the rot, or who are in denial of the presence of the rot, even though they know it is growing. There are even some others who, God forbid, are working to help the rot spread.

            In my never-to-be-humble opinion (…a little levity there…), the GOA is fast approaching a state where it will have lost all credibility as a jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church, despite the faithfulness of some of its bishops, priests and people. While no one is looking, the GOA will have lost the grace that is imparted through the Word rightly preached and the sacraments rightly administered. The reason for this is that the top hierarchs are hopelessly corrupt and since they hold positions of such sway, their corruption trickles down from the top and affects the clergy and people submitted to them. If this goes on too long, it affects everyone under the bishops’ authority. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

            Failing an early replacement of Elpi and Bart, the only remedy for the communicant is to come out from among them and be separate. I know that that sounds like the Protestant thing to do, but I would beg to differ. I would argue that it is the Catholic and Orthodox thing to do. Why? Because demonstrating one’s displeasure with the hierarchy is the expression of the rationale that recognizes that the hierarch has the power to corrupt the whole diocese or metropolis, indeed the whole jurisdiction. Actions taken to oppose the hierarch like withholding stewardship pledges, complaining to the priest, or finding a more faithful parish are not acts of rebellion against God and his Church. On the contrary, they are actions taken to cling to the Truth despite the appearance of disunity. Our union must not be a false unity with heretical and schismatic hierarchs, but rather with our Lord, with sacred Tradition and with the remnant bishops and clergy who stand by it and soldier on.

            I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but a time may soon come when the Ephraimite monasteries will have to choose whom they are to serve.

        • Antiochene Son says

          Until the EP is anathematized, they have valid sacraments.

          Sure, ignore their social programs and bad teaching, and give your tithe elsewhere. But to shun the very table of the Lord is not right, and if GOA is your only option, you are obliged to participate in Liturgy with them.

          • I understand what you are saying, Antiochene Son, but how can the “Ecumenical Patriarchate” be anathematized if it takes a pan-Orthodox council to anathematize them, for which purpose only the Ecumenical Patriarchate has the authority to call? The EP can simply ignore the hue and cry for a council to keep themselves out of official trouble. We’re stuck in a Catch 22.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Any secular leader can call a council. This idea that only the EP can call one is ahistorical –and self-serving.

            • Antiochene Son says

              We aren’t papists, and things work incrementally. Arius was anathematized by lower level synods before the First Ecumenical Council. And as George said, a secular leader could also call a synod together.

              Even Russia, though severing communion, has not anathematized the EP. If they do (or if another church does), then we’ll have something to talk about. Until then, this is Donatism.

              Just because their sacraments are Orthodox doesn’t mean their words should be listened to. But if I lived in a place where there was only a GOA church, you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming away from their chalice, no matter how bad their bishop is. Christ > All.

              • Solidarity Priest says

                That’s not Donatism. Donatism is saying that the personal sins of the cleric deprive him of the Grace of the Holy Spirit. For example, some people have stated that Metropolitan Joseph’s alleged affair or affairs have put the validity of his sacrements into doubt. No! If he really is guilty, it’s a personal sin, but that doesn’t make him a heretic.
                When a cleric willfully gives the mysteries to non-Orthodox, when he enters the synagogue or mosque to pray/participate (how can either of these groups claim the same God as us, when they either accept Christ ONLY as a prophet or not at all), when he bends or breaks the rule in general to accommodate the “people”, when he allows a dog to buried from the church, albeit by a non-Orthodox cleric (both the OCA and Russian churches allow service dogs in church; but that’s a totally different thing), then that cleric has stepped across the line. Fleeing such clergy is not Donatism, it’s looking out for one’s soul.

                • Mark E. Fisus says

                  The things you are accusing GOARCH clerics of — would those not be also be forms of apostasy on a par with those of the traditores whom the Donatists opposed?

                • Donatism is refusing to reconcile Orthodox who have lapsed as “traditores” and subsequently repented. It is not relevant to the current discussion.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    I believe you are correct, Misha. I read a book not all that long ago called Defending Constantine, written by Peter Leithart (a Protestant pastor no less!).

                    As I understand it, the Donatist party refused to reconcile with repentant Traditores , as you say. It was finally healed by St Augustine.

                    As for the Donatists, I can’t say this for sure (i.e. speculation), this strand of hyperholiness found its way into the Montanist heresy. It is also an aspect of certain Pentacostal/Holiness sects at present.

                • Joseph Lipper says

                  Solidarity Priest, I perfectly understand why someone would avoid such clerics.

                  Yet none of these things you mention would make the Holy Mysteries as consecrated by such a cleric as “invalid” or “graceless”, that is until his bishop suspends him. Yes, the Holy Mysteries shouldn’t willfully be given to non-Orthodox, but whether it’s done willfully or non-willfully (as often happens), it’s still the Holy Mysteries. How can it be otherwise?

                  Yes, Donatism originally claimed that the personal sins of clergy rendered their sacraments as graceless. Yet the parallel “church” structure of the Donatists went on for hundreds of years. So the Donatists were basically arguing against a whole lineage of “graceless” clergy, and it had absolutely nothing to do with those clergy’s own personal sins. Quite soon it became all about lineage.

                  The fundamental error of the Donatists thus seems to be a refusal to accept the God-given right of bishops to use economia, or whatever method they saw fit, to reconcile wayward clergy.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    It’s not a question of personal sins, Joseph, with which I agree.

                    It’s a question of praxis. You are not covered if your hierarch (bishop) removes himself from the greater part of the Church, I don’t care what he says.

                  • Solidarity Priest says

                    I said flee from such clerics. I said nothing about anybody’s mysteries being “graceless”. Misha and Gail seem to understand what I meant. You, perhaps not.
                    Not all the examples I cited were EP clerics. Some OCA , Antiochian, and Serbian clerics have done questionable things. Even a ROCOR cleric or two. My late spiritual father forbade me from serving with such clerics. Truly, I couldn’t very well commune if I was upset over how things were done.
                    To cite a non-EP cleric, there is a Serbian priest who does the censing for the Epistle during the chanting of the Trisagion! By rights, that censing ought to take place after the Epistle, since it pertains to the Gospel. But it’s not my church and I’m not the priest’s superior. I simply avoid serving there so as not to partake to my condemnation.

          • “Until the EP is anathematized, they have valid sacraments.”

            Valid or having grace? It is not the same thing.
            Either way I would not partake of sacraments in EP and at the same time I would not judge those who do.

            Millions of Orthodox in Russia did the same. They shunned the Living Church set up by the Bolsheviks and endorsed by EP.

        • Misha,

          There is another aspect to consider in which I don’t have a clear answer. That aspect being the legitimacy of not just the distribution of Holy Communion such as multiple spoons but even the consecration of the elements. We know that the priests
          personal worthiness spiritually speaking has no bearing on the legitimacy of the Sacrament. However, what is to be discerned when during the proskimede, consecration and distribution the elements that become the body and blood of Christ are treated as if they are something other than the body and blood Christ?

        • Mark E. Fisus says
      • Antiochene Son
        The devil has not won. God saved me from the lies going on inside the GOA. Thank goodness for solid journalists who report the truth and do not hide the apostasy taking place. That’s why I comment on this blog and Helleniscope. I no longer feel ashamed that I left. I fully understand the disfunction taking place within our churches thanks to Orthodox Christians not afraid to dig in and report the truth.

        As for finding a new church, I see a lot of hanky panky going all over. God will lead me in the direction He wants me to go. Recently, I called a priest in a OCA church to ask for Confession two times. I never received a call back. As an American convert late in life, I poured my heart into the GOA. I am not a church jumper. Just think of how many converts are being denied truth.

        There are deep problems taking place in all the jurisdictions. We are together here to shine the light on the darkness that has enveloped Orthodox Christian Churches. Let us attend. Either we stand for truth now or hide in the dark. It takes a lot of courage to face facts.

    • Currently, I have stepped back from attending church due to the confusion and chaos taking place within Orthodox Christianity due to what. I believe is government interference.

      Hermits and monks have always done that in times of turmoil, so you’re in good company. Just keep your eyes on Christ and your prayer life strong.

      • Thank you. Best wishes to you in these difficult times.

      • Antiochene Son says

        Hermits and monks had clergy and sacraments. Absenting yourself from the liturgy is a sin and highly dangerous.

        • Not at first they didn’t. How do you think St. Mary of Egypt became a saint?

          • I appreciate this thread in the conversation so much. I can’t even express it. I have been an online “parishioner” of Holy Cross Monastery (ROCOR) since the pandemic hit, due to a variety of factors.


            My ROCOR parish is a 3-hour drive away, and my husband and I can’t handle the progressive politics and sappy liberal homilies and activities of the local OCA and GOA parishes in our hometown. So we participate in Holy Cross Monastery’s full round of services at our home altar via YouTube. We stand at our altar with the services livestreamed through our TV or tablet. This has been blessed by our parish priest because we do make the pilgrimage trek to our ROCOR parish one weekend a month for All Night Vespers and confession followed the next morning with Hours and Divine Liturgy. I have to tell you in all honesty that I have never felt more spiritually alive! The opportunity to participate in an amazingly full and rich schedule of services (in English) throughout each day with these beloved brothers has transformed my whole life! I’ve been Orthodox since converting 20 years ago, but I have never learned as much as I do currently from participating in the life of this beloved American ROCOR monastery’s services online. It has been a profound blessing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. God ALWAYS provides a way!

            If you are in a similar situation in which there aren’t parishes close by, or your local parishes are not preaching and practicing Truth, may I recommend subscribing to this dear Monastery’s YouTube channel? It will literally save your life. You will find yourself at prayer almost 24/7, worshipping at your home altar in Orthodox manner, praying with dedicated monks at all hours, growing in earnest through hearing the amazing homilies and exhortations, and truly participating in the life of the Church.

            Yeah, being at church in person is of course ideal! But God has provided this incredible technology for us here in these end times so that we can worship Him in spirit and in truth. Amen, amen, amen!

            And in YouTube, search for Holy Cross Monastery ROCOR West Virginia and click subscribe!

            • Thank you, that looks beautiful. I will check it out. I so hunger for something richer and deeper, which I know exists but have a hard time finding in my area.

            • And that is a perfect example of how to manage it if the parishes in your locale are Fanariot or liberal.

          • . . . Separating yourself from the Church and the sacraments is sinful and dangerous, as AS mentioned. Encouraging people to do this is also sinful and dangerous. It’s low-level Donatism. People are being led into delusion. . .

          • Antiochene Son says

            St. Mary of Egypt is an extreme special case. She was called by special private revelation and granted grace to live that kind of life. Nobody else in Jerusalem was.

            I was also angry when at the beginning of “COVID Lent” our hierarchs were using St. Zosimas and St. Mary to justify depriving people of the Church and Sacraments.

            The blessing to be a hermit is only given to experienced monks who are advanced enough in holiness to live in that kind of solitude and do single combat with the devil. Most monks are not suited to that, much less laymen.

            It would be low-key prelest to say I, a schlub living in the world (and a particularly secular and anti-Christian part of it), am able to survive for any length of time without regular contact with the Church.

            Besides, if we want to restore the Church, what good does it do to run away? At least we can stay and be a squeaky wheel and maybe even awaken a few.

            • Antiochian Son, the opinion you express is popular in certain circles in the Orthodox world today and repeated a lot, but it is not actually the entire tradition. While it might be true that you personally aren’t able to survive spiritually without regular contact with your parish, it is not true for everyone, including the laity.

              Recall that St. Mary of Egypt (along with all the early hermits) was also a lay person. She was not “special” because given something different from everyone else, but because she responded to the same grace God offers everyone, though in a particular way according to her own circumstances. He does the same with all of us. And we are all capable of becoming saints, if we really respond to His grace.

              And she was not the only hermit in the desert at her time, there were others. St. Paul of Thebes was the first known hermit, born a century before St. Mary.

              The teaching on only monks becoming hermits was slow to develop in the life of the Church, is a custom and part of many monastic rules. But it is not a commandment. There is wisdom in it to make sure people are spiritually mature. But the Holy Spirit blows where He wills and works with anyone He wants who truly loves Him. And there have always been people seeking different forms of solitude with the Lord and always will be, formally and informally, as the Lord calls them. I think Russia is a great example of that with its large forests where people can easily withdraw and hide.

              A big motive in the early church for people to go to the desert was the complacency in the cities after Christianity was legalized. They felt it weakened them spiritually, so they withdrew to follow Christ more radically. In doing so they became stronger in Christ and thus more deeply rooted in the Church, not less. Same today. Some find parish life, if there is not a good one near them, to be more spiritually weakening than strengthening.

              To say people who withdraw from parish life in similar extenuating circumstances are “separating themselves from the Church” is simply wrong, ahistorical, risks making the parish building a kind of idol, and God a finite creature contained within it and unable to work anywhere else. The Church is much larger and older than the local parish, indeed is the oldest thing in creation, having been created before the world came to be (the Shepherd of Hermas writes this), and is subject to God. And He will hold the leaders responsible for their failures in the end, while remaining with and saving all who truly love Him.

              This is not advice to simply “leave if you don’t like it” or an excuse to sleep in on Sunday morning (that would be spiritually dangerous), but to make sure you are in a place that is actually feeding and helping you grow spiritually, not damaging you.

              Ideally of course you want a good parish and regular access to sacraments. But there have been times of extenuating circumstances all across history when that was not possible, yet saints have still been made.

              And there is quite a bit of writing in the Early Church Fathers, rooted in the Bible, about the danger of sinful or heretical presbyters. We are to shun, flee and avoid them. The teaching is crystal clear. The idea we should stay put no matter what is a flat contradiction of their teaching.

              Father Ephraim, the 20-year cell attendant of Elder Ephraim of Arizona, has written a wonderful book on Orthodox monastic life, The Angelic Life, that includes a section on obedience, the limits of obedience, the circumstances in which a faithful monk must disobey his spiritual father or superior, and in extenuating circumstances of serious sin or heresy even quit the monastery and publicly denounce him. It is preceded by an even more important section on the qualifications of a spiritual father. Not everyone is fit to be one, including parish priests. One much choose carefully, and obey only to the extent they remain good and truly committed to God.

              So to leave when necessary in order to protect oneself spiritually is very much a part of Orthodox Tradition. It must be for serious reasons, carefully discerned. But it is not wrong.

        • I’m not going to listen to any more of this. Leaving a heretical schismatic jurisdiction is praiseworthy and it’s no fig leaf to say that the rest of the cowardly Church has not excommunicated and anathematized it yet. That’s a cop out. Russia, the largest Orthodox church, has rightly excommunicated them. Everyone knows the truth. Telling people to remain there is evil – period. Stop it.

          Now, what I will agree with is that it is necessary to find some other parish even if one needs to move or do the online thing in order to accomplish it. Leaving a church for another church may be the righteous thing to do, leaving a church for no church indefinitely is much less likely to be wise. However, even in that circumstance, given no alternatives, I would still say leave GOARCH. In the old days, some of our people used to go to Episcopal Churches if there was no Orthodox parish available. That was wrong, regardless of the impetus. The same is true of the Greek Episcopalian GOARCH/Fanar churches.

          The “Athonite” monasteries have compromised the faith by remaining in communion with the Fanar for decades. They are no indication of anything other than rationalizing sin. Donatism is something completely different and is so much overused tripe. No one is saying Fanar mysteries lack grace. What we are saying is that nonetheless they poison the souls of their adherents. The residual grace is just a way God gives the faithful time to make other arrangements before He turns off the lights.

    • Dear Sister in Christ, Jane; I’ve followed your posts and feel a certain kinship (age, South, 20-year convert, GOA chrismation). After experiencing various jurisdictions within official Orthodoxy, I’ve learned the bishops keeping their jobs are more or less compliant with the ecumenist agenda. They may think they are promoting peace and union, but too often at the parish level the fruit is ignorance of deep orthodoxy, as priests feel pressure to avoid upsetting anyone. Moreover, the erroneous mindset is subtly and frequently inserted. Since Orthodoxy matters, that’s a tragedy. Theoretically, one could remain in their congregations and still hang onto Orthodoxy by extensive personal study of the Fathers, but I’m sure you’ve found it’s a tough row to hoe alone. If you are blessed, you may be within reach of a parish or monastery of the Greek “old calendarists” who have been resisting the rot since the new calendar and the rest of the revolutionary package was first forced (yes, physically forced) by the EP’s Encyclical of 1920 — essentially a bomb tossed into the Church. You will hear that the old-calendarists do not have canonical hierarchs/clergy. Not true. Perhaps you are aware of publications by The Center for Traditional Orthodox Studies. You might also wish to speak with Father Steven Allen Blessings of the Lord.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        I’ve got to say, I have never supported what was done with the old calendarists. I think they were right to resist. I have never understood the calendar change; it just created division.

        • As far as I’m concerned I no longer recognize the state churche of Greece as canonical. Only the Florinite old calendar. We all owe them an apology. The Phanar cannot even bring firth a single saint in the diasporan churches evidence of it’s diminishing grace. The GOA is basically watered down Orthodox lite with episcopalian music thrown in for good measure.

          • A GOA priest said to me the organ etc is just an American way of doing things and doe’s not affect the faith.
            At as deep level true but at a deeper level so untrue and a outward symbol of a corrupted mind set, that then accepts the next ,’ this is America ‘ mind set offering.
            Such people in the 1920s were wanting to be Episcopalians and ashamed of their dark Balkan selves and their primitive worship.. Hopefully we have moved on and understanding what is at stake.

        • “ I have never understood the calendar change; it just created division.”

          Exactly. Which is how you know that the “new calendar” or “Revised Julian Calendar” is not of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not divide the church. And those who pushed the NC on parts of the church knew that it would divide the church from Day 1. The Holy Spirit wouldn’t do that.

          Most of the Orthodox world including Russia and Ukraine were being brutalized under Bolshevism when the C’ple church adopted the NC 100 years ago. It was definitely not a conciliar decision.

          I pray that the NC/RJC goes the way of the Italianate realistic-painting style iconography that was popular in Russia at the end of the 19th century (and which can be found in many >100 year old Orthodox churches in North America): a quasi-interesting historical anomaly that is eventually corrected.

          It’s no accident that the NC/RJC is associated with “modernism” and “progressivism” in the Orthodox Christian world. That’s sort of what it was designed for!

        • Galinushka,

          The calendar travesty was a product of West-envy or, in more common parlance, the Western captivity of the Church. At the time, it seemed like Orthodoxy itself was backward and provincial and that the West was the best and had all the advantages. Therefore, imitating Western Christians became a compulsion with some Orthodox of weak character. There were other changes considered as well that were more radical but were not adopted.

          The Greek Old Calendarists were right; however, the question is whether they had valid ground to excommunicate the Fanar and the Church of Greece. I remain agnostic about this. I’m not sure that God is deeply concerned about the niceties of whether the GOC’s went too far. That they preserved orthopraxis and Orthodoxy is probably all that matters. I would gladly commune in their churches if allowed.

          • George Michalopulos says

            All things being equal, we should have never gotten on the NC without a true Council.

            • Amen!

            • Yes, but it would be hairy even then. The problem is that the Church Fathers knew that the Julian calendar was not perfect but the typicon was nonetheless constructed around it. Essentially, you would have to go back to the drawing board and construct a new typicon around the Gregorian calendar, moveable and immoveable dates, changing canon law to accommodate it. You end up with a similar problem of legitimacy.

              The hybrid is an embarrassment, eliminating or curtailing certain types of feasts and fasts, basically disfiguring the church year.

              All out of Rome envy, which was understandable at the time but ought to be passe given subsequent developments in the West (namely its apostasy).

              Sycophant b*tches are all the same over time. Rome and DC envy will give way to Moscow envy as Russia rises as a/the leading world power. They’re just confused as to what direction they should be prostrating and abasing themselves in a time of change.

      • Isadira, thank you for the link. I will read it this very night. I appreciate your thoughtful response.

  4. Whiskey Six says

    Another Foreign Bishop to rule over Antioch. I said a new one was coming months ago in the comments section before the Joseph thing happened. Did not know Joseph would go down. I knew they were planning on sending in more. With BP Basil retiring expect more.

    The old country will rule.

    • Antiochene Son says

      This is just a temporary vicar. No different than when Met. Siloan took over after Met. Philip’s death. I think Bp. John is definitely in the running for Metropolitan.

  5. Jesus says that we cannot serve two masters. The GOA worships being Greek ahead of God. Therein lies the problem. Yesterday the Greek Church I attend. celebrated Leadership 100 Sunday. To quote the last sentence of the article in the bulletin. “The mission of Leadership 100 is to promote Hellenism and Orthodoxy. God comes in second.

    • George Michalopulos says

      The Greek-Americans who propagate this sort of nonsense have divided loyalties. They are no different than the Jewish lobby here in the States, are they?

      • I have read that the founders of Israel were secular Jews. Interesting thought as we ponder the state of the world. And now we have secular Greeks leading us down the primrose path.

        We must learn to pray in the midst of this chaos. The first book I read after entering the Orthodox Church was the biography of Fr. Arseny, a Russian priest., prisoner, spiritual father.
        1893-1937. We can learn a lot from him.

        As to whether to stay or leave a parish. Consult with God. This is His show and He will pick the actors. Discern where he wants you, not where you want to be. We forget that in baptism we die to self, though I find this a life long process.

        Lord Jesus, have mercy on us all.

      • Many in the GOA flat out preach paganism. That’s why you have pagan named organizations such as Maids of Athena ond Daughters of Penelope, At my local parish Greek festival the pathways between tents were named after the old Greek gods such as Zeus Rd.

    • Lina, this is exactly my experience of life in the Greek Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. Greeks preaching Hellenism, not Orthodoxy.

      • A GOA priest said to me the organ etc is just an American way of doing things and doe’s not affect the faith.
        At as deep level true but at a deeper level so untrue and a outward symbol of a corrupted mind set, that then accepts the next ,’ this is America ‘ mind set offering.
        Such people in the 1920s were wanting to be Episcopalians and ashamed of their dark Balkan selves and their primitive worship.. Hopefully we have moved on and understanding what is at stake.

  6. Lina, this is exactly my experience of life in the Greek Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. Greeks preaching Hellenism, not Orthodoxy.

    • This is not the case in Glasgow
      with Father Mark, on either count!

      • You mean he doesn’t preach Hellenism or Orthodoxy?

        • Ahh… unintended ambiguity
          The English language is wonderful! 🙂
          What I mean is:
          1) He’s not Greek.
          2) He does not preach Hellenism.

      • Contraire. There are very few non-Greek priests in the Archdiocese of Thyateira that have not been Hellenised. The exceptions generally are priests that have transferred from other jurisdictions, or where parishes have transferred from another mother church.

        • . . . I have heard about his priest, an archimandrite, from another source and his reputation is good.

          • Why do you keep chopping parts off my comments? You’re making them look like vague non-statements when there’s actual context there.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Because you’re going after other commentators which is against the rules. I’ve gotten complaints from people who were so angry with you, I couldn’t print what THEY said. From now on, I’ll delete your entire comment. Much, much easier for me. You should know that once you submit something to us, we own it. We can do anything we want with it.

              • I would see the point if I made some kind of ad hominem, but that’s not the case here or in my last notably chopped up comment. I simply mentioned names.

                If people get angry, so what? They can cope. Freedom of speech and all that.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  It intimidates people to be chided for what they believe. I don’t want that here. Freedom of speech is allowing someone say whatever they want. You can have another opinion. But you can’t tell people what to do. You can’t say, “stop saying . . .” (Only I can do that.) What’s most important to us is having people feel comfortable here. There is no need for people to get angry.

          • “…his reputation is good.”

            Deservedly so.

        • And you know them all…?

        • Are you still with the Greek Catholics, Noddy?
          Or have you hitched a ride on yet another Ark?

          • . . . I have never been under the pope of Rome. My Patriarch says I am canonical Orthodox and all other Orthodox Bishops are in communion with him.

            • The level of spirituality in tbyateira Greek parishes is very low. Hellenism that attracts less and less people is empty .
              A good example is the St Nicholas Southampton parish now minus priest that after going on sixty yrs cannot even provide its own priest . Truth be told most of its original.cyoriot member’s children have long moved on and distant from it. It’s kept alive by current Greek ex- pat members. Take them away and no parish really.
              And I am Greek speaking and Greek citizen .

              • Agreed. There are many parishes in Thyateira without their own priest for decades. Parishes kept going by Greek freemasons and archons of the Ecumenical Patriachate.

  7. Molon Labe says

    What we are experiencing world wide is 5G warfare. This includes the spiritual realm as well as experienced within Orthodoxy.
    The old bastard and his minions are pushing harder as they realize they are losing.
    You now know who most of them are. They have names and they have faces. They have shown their hand and revealed their intentions.
    Stand fast and do not fear. Fear, doubt and insecurity are the only weapons the old bastard has and the only power he has is what you relinquish to him.
    Look the old bastard in the face – all of his minions – and spit in their eye to remind them that they are losers, for God’s Will, will be done.
    Ignore the noise and roadside distractions. Keep going to any Orthodox liturgy near you, ignore the politics and keep receiving communion with Our Lord.

  8. Misha, I disagree. We must remember that the Athonite (Elder Ephraim) monasteries have not left GOA. Leaving a jurisdiction because of immoral behavior and bad teaching is an American sectarian mindset that is not Orthodox. If we have strength, we must fight within and stand up for the Orthodox faith. To leave GOA would be to condemn the Athonite monasteries as well. Do you know if the Greek monasteries speak against our worldly bishops?

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Ben David, I believe the Greek monasteries in America are leading by their righteous example. No, I have never heard any of the Greek monasteries speak against Orthodox bishops.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        For Bartholomew to be right, (in round, conservative numbers) 90 million Orthodox Christians in Russia, 1 million in the Church of Antioch, 4 million in Bulgaria, and 4 million in Georgia (the Orthodox within their respective countries) would have to be wrong!

        These are just the patriarchates who didn’t recognize the Great and Holy Council. This doesn’t include the OCA, or the Local Churches who did participate but later withdrew their support of Bartholomew due to Ukraine.

        How many Orthodox Christians are there in Turkey? Something like 2000? Today, it’s less than one tenth of one percent of the population.

        So I ask you, where exactly is the Church? With a patriarchate of 2,000 or patriarchates representing 100M+ world wide? (When he says he is the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, he is flat out lying.)

        The GOA knows he is lying, too. They don’t like what their archbishop says and does and it’s cowardly and faithless not to collectively reject him and the “long-arm” who sent him.

        Bartholomew and Elpi are not Orthodox Christians. They’re globalists who want to bring the Church in line with the culture. It used to be the case when being set apart meant being “holy.” Not any more.

        It’s like the Greeks who were once so proud (and had a right to be) have adopted a “Kmart” mentally. No standards. No trying to reach the bar. Knockoffs, at best.

        Is that the way the Greeks want to be remembered? Adhering to the lowest common denominator? They’re ancestors must be rolling in their graves.

        This is not the way Greeks are meant to be. They are not meant to “fit in” with anarchists walking down a street in a crowd with a stupid mask, holding up a sign that says, “black lives matter”. Of course they matter. All people matter. Even the unborn; the new life that God created that the Greek archbishop says is under the prerogative of the woman.

        The GOA is being cowardly and faithless because they know better and continue to do it. God knows they know better. They have a long history in the Church. They were once great defenders of the Faith but now they complain as if they don’t have the wherewithal to fix anything. They whine rather than take action. They should never have accepted Elpi because Bartholomew shoved him in without giving the archdiocese time to vet him. Where is their “NO” to Bartholomew?

        The old guard has something else cursing through their veins. They practice flat out witchcraft, in CHURCH! Staring people down as if they had some magical power to bring them harm, and cackling at the hint of their misfortune. Spitting at people’s feet. Oh, yes! Workers of evil have a stench about them that seeps from their pores and these are often the same people who pass for good stewards of the GOA.

        We need to stop worrying about the GOA. If their priests allow them to do this, and they do (I’ve seen it), what hope is there that God will bless them in anything they do?

        What does it say in Scripture about the cowardly and faithless?

        But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Just last month, by God’s grace, I was able to make a pilgrimage to St. Nectarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY. (It is said that Elder Ephraim prophesied that the monks there would be the first to martyr, and incidentally, they have a cemetery that’s empty, but in the middle is a small church dedicated to All Martyrs.) It’s a very traditional monastery, as expected, like the others founded by Elder Ephraim. Visitors are instructed to first go to their bookstore. Upon entering, I was greeted by portraits prominently displayed of Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Elpidophoros. I never heard any of the monks say anything bad about these bishops.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        The reason it’s empty is because we haven’t gotten to the hard part yet. If we don’t win back this planet soon, we’ll be in a world of hurt.

        Here are some monks and bishops who have criticized Bartholomew. Now you can’t say you don’t know of any:

        • Antiochene Son says

          “If we don’t win back this planet soon, we’ll be in a world of hurt.”

          We won’t win it back, and we will be in a world of hurt. That is guaranteed.

          But Christ will win it back (and already has, and will continue to), so we nevertheless have nothing to fear.

        • Joseph Lipper says

          Gail, I’m referring to monks in the monasteries of the GOA that Elder Ephraim started. I don’t hear any criticisms from them about their bishops. I also believe that Elder Ephraim knew what he was doing, starting monasteries in the GOA.

          Everyone now seems to finally admit that we are heading for WWIII. However, I doubt the U.S. or even Russia will emerge as superpowers in such a war. I would probably put my money on China. Much of the Russian Federation is in Asia, and it could easily be conquered by China.

          Yes, the Russian Federation is gaining territory now in Ukraine, but in the case of a WWIII, the Russian Federation would likely be fighting on many fronts. Although China is currently Russia’s ally, it would only be natural for China to take advantage of a weakened Russia, and a weakened U.S. also.

          So what then in the final days will be the last bastion of Orthodoxy in America? Based on the intuition and prophecy of Elder Ephraim, it appears to be Greek Orthodoxy:

          • Gail Sheppard says

            They are detached from Bartholomew. I’ve never seen any pictures of him there. Their world is not bothered or influenced by anything on the outside. Even locally.

            I was talking to Father Paisios about Tucson parishes and he said why not go to the Greek Church? It’s close. I told him some things that I knew about the parish. He looked somewhat surprised but not particularly concerned because it doesn’t affect them. Their monasteries are insulated by the way they live. They don’t care too much about the outside world or it’s problems. They pray for us but they’re not one of us. If someone started talking about a “Bartholomew”, I could see him saying, “Bartholomew who?” So, no. They haven’t launch an attack on Bartholomew or anyone else. But it would be wrong to conclude this means they’re OK with him or what he’s done.

            We do the fighting. They do the praying.

            I think WWIII has already begun. They unleashed bioweapons on us. Until then, its been a digital war which they never saw coming.

            The Russian Federation hasn’t “gained” anything. They just incorporated a region that has always been known as part of Russia. There aren’t even borders between the two countries. Ukraine belonged to the former Soviet Union. Over the years the Fourth Reich moved in and started killing Russian speaking people.

            After the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became friendly with the West and corruption became rampant. Congress kept sending them money, as NATO inched closer and closer. If I were Russian, I would be very concerned which is why Putin has the support of his people.

            In my mind it would like Texas seceding and for whatever reason began hating us. We’d certainly have a problem with that, especially if they were considering bringing in foreign agents like the West & NATO to attack us.

            There wasn’t a huge problem until they aligned themselves with NATO. Russia didn’t want that. The West had already released pathogens from at least one of the biolabs by infecting birds and dropping them over Russia.

            At the same time nationalism (the Nazi party) grew.

            The ONE thing that had previously united them was the canonical Church, which Bartholomew intentionally undermined at the request of the West, even though all of the bishops objected to what he was doing as evidenced by their unwillingness to attend the enthronement.

            ALL OF THEM.

            He created a faux Church at the urging of a political leader, Poroshenko, so the latter could win the nationalist’s vote in an upcoming election. He didn’t. Bartholomew allowed himself to be an agent of division. He split Ukraine into two distinct camps: The canonical and the schismatic. The hatred that resulted was so deep the nationalists (for whom Bartholomew created the non-canonical church with un-ordained bishops) turned against their own people, many of whom decided to go back under Russia’s protection.

            By splitting Ukraine in two, Bartholomew also created an animosity toward the greater part of the Church in terms of numbers.

            Corruption by the West, coupled with Ukraine aligning themselves with NATO, pretty much finished them off. Had they just agreed to be neutral and not threaten a SUPERPOWER, their country would still be in tact, minus the Separatists who had long since announced their status in 2014, I believe. According to International Law, they were able to do this. But the nationalists wouldn’t allow them go in peace and as a result, they not only lost that region, THEY LOST THEIR ENTIRE COUNTRY.

            Bartholomew was an instrument of this division and hatred. We all know where that comes from.

            There is no way a country in such turmoil, coupled with foreign involvement, could come of out of this war unscathed. Especially since they hitched their wagon to the crumbling West who frankly are war mongers, resisting any attempt to bring about a peaceful resolution.

            If there is “hell to pay” for that country being leveled to the ground, Bartholomew just might take center stage. Do you know he actually handed the Tomos to Poroshenko?!

            • Joseph Lipper says

              Gail, I believe these monks are at the very front lines of spiritual warfare. They are the ones actually doing the fighting.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                They don’t criticize people which I believe was your question. They’re response is to pray. That doesn’t mean they’re board with Bartholomew.

              • Joseph, are you implying that Gail, George, other polemical bloggers and commentators are NOT “actually doing the fighting”? It sounds like it, given the way that you wedged in your comment here.

                All Orthodox who are serious about prayer will grant you that prayer is the main means of our warfare, but certainly you won’t dismiss the efforts of those who wage a war of words in order to defend traditional Orthodoxy. You yourself appear to be fighting a battle of words even only to defend an unscrupulous patriarch and his lieutenant.

                Those who are sent to fight in the air should be commended for doing battle in the air, but a war is fought on multiple planes and those who fight it on the ground deserve their commendation, too.

          • Joseph,

            Thank you for this link…seriously.

            One quick comment.

            Nowhere does this prophecy mention GREEK Orthodoxy in specific. In fact, he refers only to “the faithful in America.”

            • Joseph Lipper says

              According to this video, Geronda Ephraim specifically insisted that Greek be used liturgically in all the monasteries, because it is the language of accuracy.

              • Yes, of course, because God understands Greek so much better than he understands English or even Slavonic. And, in the Western Church, it was always evident that God had an easier time with Latin than with the barbarian languages of Europe. As long as the Almighty understands what’s being said, it matters little that few American monks and nuns can pray in ancient Greek and actually understand what they’re saying.

                St. Paul had this to say about that: “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 16Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: 19Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” (I Corinthians 14)

              • Zoy Perkas says

                The word sycophant means slander in Greek but flatter in English. Fornication, porneia means prostitution, not premarital sex. Meek, praos means gentle not humble. So how are you going to trust English in Church? Americans and Jews and Westerners LOVE the Greek language, but Russians hate it

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  RE: “Americans and Jews and Westerners LOVE the Greek language.”

                  Not in Church they don’t. As a matter of fact, the language spoken in the parish is to be the predominant language spoken in the region. Many Russian Churches appreciate this. – Not fond of bold statements that can’t be supported, BTW.

                  • Deacon John says

                    At the Russian Orthodox parish I serve in, we sing the Trisagion hymn in Russian, English, and Greek. We also have a retired Greek Orthodox priest who serves with us. I don’t see how anyone can say that Russians don’t like Greek. We have been gaining a lot of converts to our parish lately because our Russian speaking members are trying to use more English in the services so the new converts can understand what’s going on.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  Not really.

                  In the English dictionary:

                  (1) Sycophant means a servile self-seeking flatterer; to flatter can mean to make someone feel honored and pleased.

                  (2) Porneia includes sexual activity outside of marriage, i.e. premarital sex.

                  KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon:

                  (1) Praos means gentle, mild, meek (quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.)

                  To answer to your question: How are you going to trust English in Church? By using the right translation.

                • Oxford English Dictionary [OED]

                  Sycophant, n:

                  1. Ancient Greek History. One of a class of informers in ancient Athens…

                  †2. transferred and figurative. An informer, tale-bearer, malicious accuser; a calumniator, traducer, slanderer. …

                  3. A mean, servile, cringing, or abject flatterer; a parasite, toady, lickspittle….

                  †4. Vaguely used for: Impostor, deceiver. …

                  Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament
                  [Friberg, Friberg and Miller]

                  πορνεία, ‑ας, ἡ (1) generally, of every king of extramarital, unlawful or unnatural sexual intercourse fornication, sexual immorality, prostitution (IC 5:1); (2) when distinguished from adultery (μοιχεία) in the same context extramarital intercourse, sexual immorality, fornication (MT 15:19); as a synonym for μοιχεία marital unfaithfulness, adultery (MT 5:32); metaphorically, as apostasy from God though idolatr, (spiritual) immorality, unfaithfulness (RV 19:2)

                • “Americans and Jews and Westerners LOVE the Greek language, but Russians hate it.”

                  Where’d you get that idea? I’m a native-born English-speaking American, can’t stand Greek in church, makes me feel like an outsider and makes it hard to worship.

                • Zoy where you get that from? One can say Roman Catholics hate Greek because they prefer Latin. The Jews I’ve encountered hated Greek because the found it inferior to the Hebrew scriptures. Americans like ancient Greeks but hate modern ones. Etc. Russia uses Slavonic . But as a Greek myself I found the racist rants of Greeks against Russians terrifying as of late. This includes bishops, monks and the lazy college educated Greeks. And this is why the Greeks cannot evangelize. You can’t evangelize only wanting a few hundred compliant “barbarians” under your yoke
                  China and India both have over a billion people, if they become Orthodox thanks to Greeks, the Greeks will eventually resent them as they now do the Russians. It’s not the Russians fault they have a more successful demographic it’s the Greeks fault for their declining demographic and adoption of European values such as abortion and naterialism

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    RE: “But as a Greek myself I found the racist rants of Greeks against Russians terrifying as of late.”

                    And you haven’t even seen the comments I have trashed. It really gets to me sometimes.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Kosta, very insightful analysis there. Many modern ecclesiastic Greeks (not Athonites or those evangelistically inclined) do resent other Orthodox ethnicities.

                    I’m quite ashamed of them.

                    Having said that, I would like to point out that regarding the Ancient Greek of the LXX compared to the Hebrew of the MT, the Greek is far superior –and more accurate–than the MT. Not only is it earlier (by at least three centuries to the MT) but it is reliant on an earlier and more accurate Hebrew text.

                • Mr. Perkasie has just provided a perfect example of why language alone (apart from the ethos of the language) cannot by itself preserve the Faith, although I certainly agree that Greek bears a precision and nuance that is hard, but far from impossible to convey in other languages.

                  The canons of the first Council of Jerusalem commanded the Gentiles to abstain from pornea (translated fornication). If this meant only prostitution the Apostle Paul owes the Church of Corinth an apology.

          • And why would the monks express any criticisms to you, the random pilgrim?

            • Joseph Lipper says

              And yet apparently they had no problem with prominently displaying photographed portraits of Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Elpidophoros at the monastery’s welcoming center for pilgrims.

          • Joseph, seriously—if ‘Greek’ Orthodoxy (i.e., the GOA) is to be the last bastion of Orthodoxy in America, then WE ALL are in real deep trouble!

          • A Parishioner says

            I hear tons of criticism of the GOA from “Ephraimite” monks (I don’t like the term. It’s always been pejorative, but it’s stuck) and the people at their monasteries. Spend any amount of time around their communities and adjacent lay communities and you will hear anxiety about the GOA constantly. That said, their influence was significant enough to openly buck diocesan directives during the COVID days and for the most part, they are left alone to do their own thing. Most other jurisdictions would pressure them to do things differently, namely confession and penance, which they have no desire to change. So, unless the GOA really does enter into a Unia with the Latins in 2025 like people are saying, or decided to try to push them to concelebrate with OCU schismatics (they know better), they are unlikely to leave any time soon, but boy are they raising up a generation of laity who are furious with the GOA and +Elpidophoros. They’re probably the best example of fighting from within.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              You see, this is the problem. If they remain ecclesiastically under the GOA having to commune with them, they’re schematic too.

              • A Parishioner says

                True. I wish they would jump, but I don’t know all the bits and pieces factoring into this. I’m almost positive they own their own land unlike the other monasteries, so that isn’t the issue. It’s a giant pastoral issue among the ROCOR parishes in Arizona that our parishioners are not supposed to go to GOA parishes OR monasteries and people do anyway because, well, it’s St. Anthony’s. If they went to any other jurisdiction it would solve the problem overnight, but given the fact that they weathered COVID and stayed doesn’t indicate that they have any plans to leave anytime soon.
                In spite of all this, we do happen to have a good relationship with them, being of one mind on a lot of things, and that kinship grew over the COVID madness, but we are required to love them from a distance, which is one of the most depressing fallouts for us from the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew

              • On the other hand, perhaps they are
                an immune system; producing antibodies
                that help the Church resist schismatic infection.

              • There’s nothing in you – and others on this website of like mind – which tells you that they might understand something that you don’t? Is that possible?

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  RE: “There’s nothing in you – and others on this website of like mind. . .”

                  If that were true, I doubt people would bother to read or comment on the blog so I must understand a few things.

          • Joseph,
            “Although China is currently Russia’s ally, it would only be natural for China to take advantage of a weakened Russia, and a weakened U.S. also.”

            When was the last time when
            China took advantage of a weakened country, and what advantage?

          • The level of spirituality in tbyateira Greek parishes is very low. Hellenism that attracts less and less people is empty .
            A good example is the St Nicholas Southampton parish now minus priest that after going on sixty yrs cannot even provide its own priest . Truth be told most of its original.cyoriot member’s children have long moved on and distant from it. It’s kept alive by current Greek ex- pat members. Take them away and no parish really.
            And I am Greek speaking and Greek citizen .

    to use an adaptation of a concept from Jim Jatras’ presentation, “It’s Even Later Than You Thought.” He stated that people all over the world know who they are, historically and ethnically. They know the values and beliefs from which their culture derives its stability and identity. Sadly — and I agree with him— a likely majority of Americans don’t know who they are or what they believe. As Orthodox, we know what we believe and we know who we are. But, we do need to gird ourselves for the battle against these Neo-Gnostics who are introducing their vile innovations to the Church and fight like the Saints to defeat them.

    I do have a question however, why haven’t the traditional Greek Orthodox monasteries, here in North America, in other parts of the world and particularly in Greece, led the charge against these heretics?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Very good question, indeed.

      • This is a question for George B. What Orthodoxy are you talking about? In my brief time, 12 years, in the Orthodox Church. I have seen flat out heresy, lukewarm worship, ignorance about basic subjects, like who is the Holy Spirit, little interest in spiritual growth, great interest in all things Greek. And I could go on.

        Christianity is not inherited, from what I gather. It is a personal relationship with Jesus who says he is with us 24/7. We can not pass on personal relationships. Jesus came down to us and spent time teaching us the way to live. Jesus comes down to us today, teaching us. We can ignore him or receive him. That is why He said, “ Many will cry, Lord, Lord, but I did not know them. “.

        • I have seen flat out heresy, lukewarm worship, ignorance about basic subjects, like who is the Holy Spirit, little interest in spiritual growth, great interest in all things Greek.

          Welcome to the past 2,000 years of Church history.

        • Lina,
          Apologies for the tardiness of my response to you.

          I think you are right and wrong.

          On the one hand you are absolutely right that each one of us is responsible for our relationship with Christ and are responsible for helping those within the Church, who may not have the interest or inclination to learn about or live their faith, to understand more about their faith. This is the responsibility of the clergy and the laity. If the living out of our faith, moment by moment, bares out our words of faith we will be effective in our responsibility to our brethren.

          On the other hand, as Antiochene Son pointed out the hymns of the Church are replete with references of the Orthodox being a Christian race, a Christian nation or a Commonwealth as the Inheritors of God’s Kingdom. As such we are all God’s heirs through His Son, Jesus Christ.

          Now we can clearly see that as heirs of all things through Christ, His Church, that we have an imminent choice to make. Will we stand up for our Inheritance and fight for its integrity with Christ OR will we give Christ a kiss on the cheek, as did Judas, and betray our Lord. We know that Christ will be victorious; we also know how Judas ended up. I think about the Iconoclastic period which raged within the Church for nearly 150 years. The faithful made a choice to stay within the communion of the Church and fight for the Truth. Today a similar choice is before us, will we choose the blessing of Christ, to spread his Gospel– yes even to those within the Church– and our martyrdom for Christ in keeping the faith we inherited inviable.

    • Antiochene Son says


      Indeed. The hymns of the church refer again and again to “the Christian race.” The blood we share, that flows through our veins, is Christ’s blood. Among the Orthodox that is all that matters.

      • How simple and profound:
        “The blood that we share, that runs
        through our veins, is Christ’s blood.”
        Thank you Antiochene Son. Immeasurably more important, thank you Lord for having mercy on us sinners.

    • Because they realize God is in charge of His Church

      • Mary, any serious-minded Orthodox Christian agrees with you. However, what role does the human agency, that God has given us, play in the synergy
        between Creator and creature? When, if ever, and how do we take a stand on issues essential to our Faith, recognizing that, indeed, God is in charge? When do we suffer for our Faith and when do we “let go and let God?”

    • These monasteries are in agreement with these heresies. All this talk about St. Anthony’s leaving GOA are pipe dreams. They will never leave nor denounce anything. Athonite monasteries have participated in ecumenists activities with Latin monasteries just last year. The last time the Athonites condemned ecumenism was in the 80’s. Just look at the bizarre stance of the “new” Esphigmenou monks on these issues. Those monks of yesteryear have either died, been replaced, or fell in line.

      • A Parishioner says

        This is a sweeping generalization. Esphigmenou, Vatopaidi, Simonopetra, and Pantokratoros gave into the OCU and COVID nonsense, but many others resisted. Philotheou closed their doors in the face of the OCU delegation and others resisted as well. The Ephraimites are from Philotheou. They are radically against Ecumenism. They’re going to stay in the GOA for as long as they can to be a lifeline to the Greeks but they do not have unlimited patience.

    • Monks tried to resist in the past. On Athos the police/paramilitaries were called out against them. Many were beaten and tossed out of their monasteries. They subsequently worked out an agreement whereby they–the monasteries–were allowed to continue using the Orthodox (old) calendar. I find it to their shame that they only insisted on the correct calendar for themselves, allowing the rest of us to be submitted to the thrice anathematized Roman Catholic (new) calendar with a brief hiatus for Pascha, which too many Orthodox now refer to as Easter. Monastic weakness and unwillingness to suffer rubs off on all of us because it is held up as a justification to keep going along to get along. Likewise the weakness and unwillingness of lay people to suffer for real Orthodoxy robs the monastics of vigor. We all have much to repent of, but repentance isn’t just feeling terribly upset over it all, it’s making an about-face in behavior, embracing some inconvenient choices. God grant us courage.

  10. “…why haven’t the traditional Greek Orthodox
    monasteries…led the charge against these heretics?”

    By remaining Orthodox in thought, speech and worship,
    I believe that is exactly what they are doing.

  11. As is states in John Chapter 10, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

    The sheep (the flock) know their shepherd. If the flock doesn’t follow or doesn’t want to follow a hierarch, it’s not because the flock is bad or wrong. It’s usually because the hierarch is not worth following. (It’s the old “do the people need new leaders, or do the leaders need a new people” question. Bolshevik leaders, for example, felt that they needed a new people to follow them, so they murdered and imprisoned millions who didn’t want to.)

    Look at leftist protestant bodies that have collapsed — they’re all led by leaders who are not worth following. Thus, they have no flock.

    It’s not that difficult…. the flock follows leaders who are worth following. In Orthodox language, that means hierarchs along the lines of Metropolitan Hilarion of blessed memory, St John Maximovitch, Metropolitan Leonty, St Nectarios, Patriarch St. Tikhon, etc etc.

    If some Orthodox American leaders are in the crosshairs, maybe some introspection is worthwhile… perhaps some time spent asking and reflecting on the question, “Am I worth following?”

    Great video with Fr John Peck, thanks for recording and posting it, George.

  12. Hilber Nelson says

    Just as the GOA has been infiltrated by woke operatives, I am still somewhat dazed in disbelief from the recent and successful woke-driven coup against ousting Met. Joseph of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Without a shred of evidence, Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s “reporting”of his “affair” was all that his boss Pat. John needed to throw him under the bus. Met. Joseph is now “retired.” Can’t say I blame him for doing so. Sadly two of the three persons taking on his duties until a replacement can be found were behind his ouster. Yep, woke foxes are now running our hen house. Like the GOA, the AOA has been hacked by the globalists. And like the above comments from readers, I too am perplexed as to what the Lord should have the faithful do next. Prayer, fasting and silence are options, sure, as some advocate. But what about taking action, too? Aren’t we the church of the the saints, martyrs and confessors, and the ecumenical councils? It seems that courage is called for, not blind obedience. Will not God hold us accountable for going along to get along — the sin of commission? When those who claim the apostleship behave like devils, isn’t it our duty to call them out and rout them out? I’m am starving for leadership. Please share your ideas.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Starving for leadership. That’s a great way to put it.

    • Are you an insider in the Antiochian Archdiocese and the Patriarchate to know that it was only the reporting of Orthodoxy in Dialogue that led to Patriarch John to Met. Joseph “throw him under the bus?” It is my understanding that what he was accused has been known in certain circles for a while. The assumptions you make, you state as fact, when in fact, they are assumptions.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        RE: “It is my understanding that what he was accused has been known in certain circles for a while. The assumptions you make, you state as fact, when in fact, they are assumptions.”

        Actually, I’m not an “insider,” either, but I knew about the letter, as did many other bloggers, before Orthodoxy in Dialog published it and Patriarch John was already involved as he had a copy of it, too.

        We got it from a few priests, who got it from their bishops or Members of the Board, because one of the felons on the board, the one who collected goods for “charity” and then sold them for profit, distributed the material among the Board with a note of his own.

        Your understanding, i.e. that it was “common knowledge”, could have come from “The Fawz,” as well, because I specifically asked my sources if they knew about it or if they were told it was “common knowledge”?

        They said they were told it was “common knowledge.” They had no firsthand knowledge.

        When people lie, cheat, and steal, as “The Fawz” has done in the past, they’re not necessarily credible when passing on information like this.

        If anybody “threw him under the bus,” it was “The Fawz” and his buddies on the Board. Because if this story is true, the letter indicates they were notified of this DECADES ago by the woman’s then husband yet looked the other way.

        As far as I know, this woman hasn’t surfaced to substantiate this story. I wonder if she even knows about it. If anyone has heard from her I would appreciate it.

        It was NOT the reporting of Orthodoxy in Dialog that led to anything, however.

        Nor did the Patriarch “throw anyone under the bus.” He accepted Metropolitan Joseph’s retirement, without contradicting Met. Joseph’s proclamation of innocence.

        I would agree, he appears to have been set up. Doesn’t take an “insider” to see that.

        • Mark E. Fisus says


          It was NOT the reporting of Orthodoxy in Dialog that led to anything, however.

          It might’ve been swept under the rug if there hadn’t been a public stink about it. It’s just human nature. We saw this with airlines some years ago. Nothing was done about some situation until passengers made a ruckus on social media. Squeaky wheel gets the oil.

          And apparently there might’ve been people at high levels in the archdiocese who knew about these allegations for some time.

          To be clear, for me, the jury is still out on whether the now-former metropolitan did any of what he’s been accused of, it’s all he-said she-said, no evidence, and quite lamentable that the presumption of innocence until proven guilty was abandoned.

          That said, what is an established fact is that he co-owns properties with his accuser. A bishop doesn’t just get his name on deeds without people knowing.

          So it’s hard to believe that those around him didn’t know that there was something there even if they didn’t know exactly what that something is, and certainly merited looking into — if only from a financial perspective, because that’s what a property deed might point to.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            I’m not so sure it’s an established fact. I know an attorney who said the following on the blog:

            (1) The latest from OID (The “Fawz”?) shows 4 documents that in my mind prove that he bought a house in Post Falls ID. One appears to show that the property is part of a trust, and the beneficiary of the trust is someone with his last name, likely a nephew or something.

            No mention of the woman on these documents that I can see. Seems like the topic of your next post.

            (2) There is a note today on the OID website that someone has forwarded these property records to the District Attorney. Nothing to see here, certainly no connection to any women mentioned so far. Even if he had cosigned for a woman, why on earth do they think the District Attorney would care?? I wonder if the guy at OID has ever seen a home for $600K on the West Coast. At a stretch you might call it a starter mansion, certainly nothing like his LA chancery pad ($4M).

            I sure hope they have better evidence than this of the alleged financial wrongdoing.

            • Mark E. Fisus says

              I think at one point the woman was named on OiD’s site and she “formally” came forward with the editor saying her name was used there with her consent:


              Her name does come up with “Bishop G. Joseph” at least on this Blockshopper listing:


              I understand Blockshopper uses bots to compile this information from public records.

              You’re right that it’s not evidence of financial wrongdoing per se, but it’s the sort of thing which both requires and is sufficient for triggering deeper examination — what a monastic is doing with his name on properties. Even if it were his “nephew,” what would his nephew be doing with his name on the “chancery pad” (as you put it)? That would also be something that should trigger, and be enough to trigger, an inquiry.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Her name was typed at the beginning. Under her name she put “To: Metropolitan Joseph,” which is strange in and of itself. If she was involved with him like she said, I doubt she would address him as, “Metropolitan Joseph.”

                I noticed on the site you’ve been going to, the letter appeared to be retyped from the letter cc’d to the board, and was submitted by a trusted “source,” or something like that. I am always leery of other people’s sources. I only trust my own.

                I know what it looked like because I have a copy. (Or did; after bluehost blew us out of the water, my computer was fried and I don’t keep things like that in the cloud.)

        • Gail, what do you know about Met. Antonios, the new Apostolic Administrator?

          I wonder if he will “clean house,” though TBH I don’t know if that’s his main purpose.

          I’m also curious as to who they are going to appoint as the new Metropolitan, there is not a big pool to choose from in America due to the lack of monasteries and now the Antiochians have to fill 3 vacant bishoprics: Diocese of Wichita, West and New York. Where exactly are they going to get these bishops? Lebanon?

          • Gail Sheppard says

            I don’t know anything about Met. Antonios or what an Apostolic Administrator is. I thought this was a Catholic thing.

            I think with Metropolitan Joseph and Bishop Basil retiring, they’re going to be in a world of hurt in terms of American bishops. I’ve heard good things about Bishop John, but I think he is an auxiliary bishop, isn’t he? It would be hard to jump immediately into the role of a metropolitan, although I think he’ll be nominated.

            There was a metropolitan on the synod of Antioch that was featured on site called Notes on Arab Orthodoxy a few years back. It’s a great site. You might want to peruse it and let us know his thoughts.

            There are a couple of metropolitans who have written there. It’s probably one of these:

            Met Younan el-Souri (7)
            Met. Elias (Audi) (9)
            Met. Paul Yazigi (38)
            Met. Saba (Esber) (24)
            Met. Siluan (Muci) (23)

            I saw this and thought it would be of interest because we’re talking about bishops:

            • Met. Paul (Yazigi)—isn’t this the brother of the Patriarch who was kidnapped in 2013 along with his Syrian Orthodox counterpart and never heard from again? Or did I miss something? What are the numbers after their names? Years served?

              • Gail Sheppard says

                If you checked out the website and looked at the index you would see a block of metropolitans who have written for the site. I copied and pasted the block as it would be too labor intensive to pull them out one by one. Yes, some are no longer with us because this site has been around for many years. Presumably, the numbers are the number of pieces they’ve written over time. I don’t know.

            • Notes on Arab Orthodoxy does in fact have a number of homilies by Metropolitan Antonios (el-Souri), who is the new Patriarchal Vicar temporarily overseeing the Antiochian churches in North America.


      • “a while” in this case is many years, encompassing the years both before and during his tenure as Metropolitan.

        I therefore believe firmly that it is more than appropriate to ask…

        These allegations are, and always were, serious and consequential enough to remove him long ago. Why, then, did those who “always knew” remain silent for so long? And why is Sanfilipo giving those who claim they always knew an apparent pass in terms of responsibility? How is it possible that those who always knew were not themselves complicit in the matter?

        I have no idea whether the story is true or not. But if it is true the accusers, other than the woman herself, necessarily implicate themselves in an active or passive cover-up that lasted for many years, and their outrage rings hollow indeed.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Exactly. If he had been accused of this several years ago, why didn’t they investigate it then, especially if it was “common knowledge?” I’m sorry, this story began with the Board of Trustees, and you can’t trust them if felons are calling the shots.

          • I expect “common knowledge”,
            like “common sense”,
            is a mis-named commodity…

          • Solidarity Priest says

            If people recall, Mr. SanFillipo was promising to do something if Fr. Josiah Trenham was not silenced. The Metropolitan didn’t cave in. If, and I say IF, the Metropolitan really is guilty, that crowd was just holding things in reserve to spring on him for not “forcing” Fr. Josiah to “apologize”.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Could be.

              In addition, Metropolitan Joseph wrote a very well crafted letter on behalf of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops to Elpi of their concern about having to bring Belya into the mix. Elpi was pretty taken aback and angry. Could Elpi have had something to do with the Board circulating that letter or fabricating it?

              You know what they say about “birds of a feather.”

              • Sirach 27:9
                πετεινὰ πρὸς τὰ ὅμοια αὐτοῖς καταλύσει
                The birds will resort unto their like
                [Brenton: LXX]

            • Mark E. Fisus says

              Yes, OiD is a place I have to visit while metaphorically holding my nose. But it’s still on the metropolitan for acting in a way which gives them something to blackmail him with. Over the course of writing posts here, I refreshed myself again at OiD about the whole affair and I can’t get past that voicemail. It’s true.

              Make no mistake, OiD is a renovationist rag, but it was the metropolitan by his own lack of self-control who gave them this tool to advance their agenda.

              As I wrote elsewhere, the Church’s monarchical culture disincentivizes early resolution of this sort of problem. “Crown immunity” means we must have leaders who practice what they preach. That’s our only recourse. There’s no next election at regular interval to throw the bums out.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                To me, and this was my first impression, it sounds like a message you might leave for your daughter or your niece to have lunch when you’re in town. It’s almost too sweet/sweet (cutesy) at the beginning; like the personal way you spoke to a child when they were growing up.

                Not like a message you would leave a grown woman who dumped you several years earlier.

                My daughter often begins her messages, “Hi, little mommy. It’s me. Call me back. I loooove you.” She thinks because she grew an inch taller than me she can call me, “little mommy.” Her calls are cutesy like that at the beginning.

                And then there is the “hope everyone’s OK,” sort of thing (hope your brothers and your mom are OK), checking up on everyone. I’m in town, etc.

                It could have been anything or anyone, for that matter. Until someone talks to her directly, it’s hard to tell what was going on.

                However, I think that we can infer he was set up from the way this was handle.

                • It hit me very differently. In my book it’s very inappropriate for a major Metropolitan – or any clergyman not free to date – to leave a message starting with “sweetheart” and ending with “I love you” with a woman to whom he is not related. And now alleged to have had an affair with.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Theo, thanks for your feedback. We’re going to close this discussion now. The link to the other website that seems to be running with the story was published yesterday so people can go there for further discussion.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Interesting insight there, Fr.

              I wonder if Tucker Carlson jumped into the fray to laud Fr Josiah, knowing that the latter kicked San Fillipo’s ass?

        • Mark E. Fisus says


          Why, then, did those who “always knew” remain silent for so long?

          The accuser in her letter said that though her now ex-husband reported it, the metropolitan was “charming and cunning and knew how to use [his] power.”

          I’ll choose my words carefully. If the conduct was indeed reported early on, and if those who knew of the report kept silent, then the accuser’s characterization of how the metropolitan “knew how to use [his] power” would be plausible simply due to the way the Church is. The Orthodox Church is hierarchical and monarchical. Bishops are the princes of the Church. There’s a “cultural crown immunity” which is inevitable in any human institution structured that way. In no monarchy is there an much incentive for the king’s courtiers to squeal on him. Only bad and nothing good would come to the courtier. And that’s the ugly truth about scandals and the Church — its very structure disincentivizes early resolution of these issues, and they snowball, until the only resolution is a huge blowup, such as we have seen, a removal from office and sense of betrayal from those who “thought we knew who he was” sort of thing.

          But even supposing the Church were more like a modern entity with separation of powers between equal departments and checks and balances, what could one do about an allegation without evidence? It’s not clear that when the ex-husband made his report whether he also submitted evidence.

          So returning to the monarchical metaphor of the Church hierarchy, if you strike a king, you must strike to kill. In this context, if you don’t have evidence of the sexual impropriety, you can’t bring down the king. It should come as no surprise then that those around Bishop (and later also Metropolitan) Joseph did nothing with the allegations.

          Only very recently, and I just now hopped over to OiD to see the latest, was there evidence, an audio of a damning voice mail from Metropolitan Joseph.

          • Mark,

            I don’t disagree with your overall point. But I will nevertheless repeat and expound upon what I wrote before.

            First, when one suspects or somehow “knows” that his or her spouse is being unfaithful, it is not a difficult task to watch them (or have them watched) and gather verifiable evidence (photos, recordings, etc.). Many of the accusers within the archdiocese certainly had the means to do so. So the question: why didn’t they? If it was my priest and I was sure (as they claimed to have been), I would have done. After all, clergy abuse of this kind is a very serious matter – far more serious and consequential than marital infidelity. And some of these people were/are trustees of the archdiocese, not clergy directly under his control. If longstanding abuse was occuring, where was their courage? Where was their concern for the woman herself and for the archdiocese? Concerning clergy who were under his direct control, why didn’t they discreetly present evidence to the trustees? And if they did, why didn’t the trustees act on it?

            Second, if the atmosphere you describe prevailed, then it also prevailed when the accusations were finally made public. What suddenly changed in terms of the atmosphere? Nothing.

            Third, although it is understandable that Metropolitan Joseph should be the primary subject of Sanfilipo’s wrath, it is inexplicable to me that the manifest responsibility of these others seems to go unnoticed by him as though they had no part in enabling the abuse. First he went after Metropolitan Joseph. Now he is targeting Patriach John. And all the while those who “always knew” and were in a position to act escape his and other’s obvious notice. Instead he uses these very enablers (if true) as additional (and credible) “witnesses,” practically portraying them as being among the heroes who finally brought this all into the light.

            In short, even if it is all true, the “good guys” in the story stink of deep corruption.

            Off topic…

            Funny how the entire community of all the caring, loving supporters of all things LGBTQ blah..blah..blah cannot manage to raise even $1,000 for that poor, homeless gay married couple in Toronto. Oh the humanity!

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Excellent comment. We should be talking about the Board. People may not realize this but after her husband told them, they divorced.

              If any of this is true.

              Interestingly, Metropolitan Joseph not only continued to denied it, he wanted the parties who did this to him to know he forgave them. He didn’t say her. He said them.

  13. Hold that thought. It will serve you well.

  14. Μολων Λαβε says

    I had mentioned to friends in the past that the non-Greeks will be the salvation of Orthodoxy.
    Many cradle-Greek Orthodox IMO take Orthodoxy for granted and go through the motions primarily to be seen and compete for who gets the bronze plaque on the hall for donating the most money.
    The devout “old country” Greek Orthodox left are diminishing in number. I am amused at those who equate Hellenism with Orthodox – and don’t speak a word of Greek.
    (except for “Opa!” at the Greek festivals – which are more Greek celebrating than Orthodox celebrating)

  15. George Michalopulos says

    One of our other commentators said something to this effect: until Cpole is formally anathametized, then they’re still in communion.

    As I understand it, provided the local GOA priest (or bishop) hasn’t concelebrated with a schismatic Ukie priest (i.e. one of Dumenko’s charlatans), then their sacraments are valid.

    That makes sense. If I’m wrong, please correct me.

    • George,

      Russia excommunicating the Fanar, et al., does not mean that grace has been withdrawn from their mysteries. Some type of condemnation by at least a local council would be necessary for that or a recognition that they had incurred some anathema by one or more local churches. It does mean that they have stepped into the shoes of schismatics by intercommuning with them. It prevents intercommunion by anyone in the ROC with anyone under the Fanar or the other churches which accepted the OCU. But it does not extend to third parties which may be in communion with both, for example, Antioch or Serbia.

      Now the OCU is different. It lacks grace.

  16. Solidarity Priest says

    I don’t know about the term “valid”. Sounds a bit Latin to me. I am not a theologian, but I think at a certain point, God withdraws the Grace of the Holy Spirit from a church that persists in heresy. I think we can safely say we can flee from where there is obvious error. Whether Grace has left any given body before they are formally anathemized is anybody’s guess.

    • SP,

      You make a couple of interesting points. We Orthodox have gotten into murky waters before discussing the “validity of orders”, specifically Anglican. The long and short of it is that we prefer to speak of whether a church’s mysteries have or lack grace rather than about the validity of orders. The reason is that in the Catholic and Anglican West, validity of orders was the dispositive consideration regarding whether the priests or bishops in question could celebrate “real” Eucharist, successfully invoking the Real Presence in the elements.

      But this is not the case in Orthodoxy. One can have “valid orders” in the sense of being in the line of bishops originating from the Apostles with ostensibly “valid” consecrations in terms of form, yet lack the substance of faith for the grace of the Holy Spirit to transform the Gifts. In other words, what one professes to believe is equally important to form and succession. This is a distinct question from the personal piety of clergy. the question is whether the local church confesses Orthodoxy, not the piety of the particular clergyman.

      Thus at times Anglican orders were found “valid” in the sense that if they accepted the Orthodox faith and were received into the Church, their method of laying on of hands would then suffice to convey consecration. It was a statement about form of consecration, rather than substance of faith.

      Regarding grace leaving a local church, the point with the OCU is that it never received the grace through laying on of hands. A substantial part of their clergy are the progeny of “self consecration” which is not valid. Bartholomew cannot just smile and shake someone’s hand and thereby make them a bishop. And those who have entered communion with them have, according to the canons, stepped into the shoes of schismatics. Yet this does not, as you point out, mean that grace has necessarily left those schismatic by association who otherwise may have had sound consecrations.

      But the elephant in the room is sine paribus, the doctrine espoused by Elpi and the Fanar that the CP has a special charism distinguishing him from other bishops. That is clearly a form of the papist heresy. Infallibility or even absolute, immediate and universal jurisdiction are not the core of papism. Papism, fundamentally, is the notion that the pope has exceptional authority for reasons of some inherent grace of the papacy rather than as first among equals at an ecumenical gathering or by means of his prerogatives in canon law. That is precisely what Elpi asserted about the CP.

      • If “The Office of Pope” has such exceptional authority
        would Peter not have presided over the Council of Jerusalem?
        And if the Bishop of Rome has no claim to this authority,
        how much less has the Bishop of Constantinople?

  17. Solidarity Priest says

    I don’t know about the term “valid”. Sounds a bit Latin to me. I am not a theologian, but I think at a certain point, God withdraws the Grace of the Holy Spirit from a church that persists in heresy. I think we can safely say we can flee from where there is obvious error. Whether Grace has left any given body before they are formally anathemized in anybody’s guess.