Finally! The Assembly Lays the Hammer Down

What a difference a week makes. 

Ever since the recent pro-Christian/pro-conservative rulings of the Supreme Court (Bremerton settled the question of school prayer), the wind is at the backs of authentic conservatives.  You can almost feel it.  As John Lennon wrote, “The sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are you.”  There is this delightful pinkish haze everywhere you look!  The days of having to explain why good is good and evil, evil, are over and done with.  

If I may so bold, this same sense of rectitude coupled with some righteous anger has taken a hold of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops here in America.  At least those jurisdictions that are not part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.  As you can see from the recent headline from, the non-Constantinopolitan bishops of the Assembly here in America issued an ultimatum to the GOA regarding their upcoming consecration of a defrocked archimandrite as a bishop for their “Slavic Vicariate.” 

This is huge on many levels.  The fact that they’re standing up for what they know to be true and not relying on self-proclaimed “theologians” is beyond refreshing. 

It indicates that the days of Constantinopolitan supremacy are over.  Second, it means the other jurisdictions no longer are starry-eyed about the wonderfulness of the EP/GOA axis.   (Not that they ever were but the pretense was grating).  Third, as far as the world stage is concerned, the non-Greek local Churches now realize Istanbul has lost more than it has gained.  And finally, it’s just the right thing to do.  AXIOI!!!

I’m sure we can think of more things.  I, for one, see that with regard to the battle-lines between Istanbul and Moscow, the American jurisdictions know which way the wind is blowing.  Mind you, I don’t see any backroom negotiations going on.  It’s more of a vibe if you will.  Anybody with two active brain cells can see that the vaunted Greek-American economic supremacy is nothing but a joke.  The St Nicholas Shrine debacle in all its unfinished glory is proof of that. 

As an aside, I seem to remember something about a Bulgarian beggar who panhandled enough money to rebuild churches in Bulgaria during the same time frame that it took these supposed billionaires to get the scaffolding of the Shrine completed. 

Yes, the bloom is finally off the Phanariote rose.  But that has been a long time coming.  Where to begin?

  1. The whole “Green Patriarch”/global warming nonsense was a joke from the start, but it gave Bartholomew enough globalist currency to keep his moribund office afloat for a while.  
  2. Then there was his incessant meddling in the Balkans, all at the behests of NATO, where he has managed to anger the Greeks, the Bulgarians, and the Serbs all at once.
  3.  The creation of a schismatic sect staffed with unordained charlatans in Ukraine was probably the final nail in the coffin.  This was shocking on many levels. 
  4.  I realize that bishops hardly ever reproach other bishops.  It’s simply “not done.”  That they did so tells you something.  

And what do they have to show for it?  Not just a potential schism within Orthodoxy, but a fratricidal conflict that is taking the entire world to the brink of a third world war.   (And yes, violence in Ukraine between the illicit sect and the canonical Church erupted long before the Russian invasion.  The Russian invasion was an attempt to stop the continued ethnic cleansing precipitated by the Ukronazi regime.) 

The only silver lining is the fact that Serbia was able to create an autocephalous Church out of one of its archdioceses —without any Phanariote hubbub to the contrary.  This is confirmation of the new-found confidence of the local Churches.  That’s the way it should be.

This open rebuke is real enough.  Regrettable, but necessary, nonetheless.  Does it mean that Istanbul is finally seeing the handwriting on the wall?  Or are they too obtuse to see it, too ensconced in their delusions of grandiosity?  Well, if that’s so, then “more fool them”.  Regardless, I have to imagine that 79th Street can see it no matter how much they’d rather not have to countenance it.    

Now, I’ll be honest with you.  Having received this, I don’t know how GOA/HQ is going to take this stunning rebuke going forward.  If they ignore it, the incipient rupture within Orthodoxy, which is happening in the Old World, will take root in the New as well.  Mind you, I’m not for ruptures, schisms, or what have you.  That’s not the way the Church of Christ should function.  But let’s be honest, Constantinople has really left us no choice.  This type of high-handed behavior –arrogance really–has finally reached the boiling point. 

As it says in the Bible, “pride goeth before the fall.”  Did the Phanar really think that they would be the exception?  If so, how ludicrous of them!

So, hats off to Their Eminences, Graces, and Excellencies who wrote this long-overdue letter to Archbishop Elpidophoros.  Again:  AXIOS! to every last one of them.

My advice?  Don’t give in. It’s you all who have the whip-hand.  Istanbul and its American outpost have no more hole cards.  The fact that the 79th Street is telling the GOA parishes to close down this Sunday so their parishioners can go to the cathedral to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of the GOA should tell you something:  their numbers are dwindling, apathy runs deep, and they have to fill up those seats!  (Read it for yourself here, at

The New Rome mythology is over and not a second too soon.  The pendulum has swung the other way.  Finally.



  1. Wow…impressive! Never thought that we’d see our respective bishops ‘grow a collective pair’! Alleluia!

  2. Eh. Sigh. While the wizards from Lord of the Rings are anathematizing each other and issuing edicts or ultimatums against one another, the world burns. How is “the best kept secret, ” the “pearl of great price” supposed to be an example of Christ’s love and unity when involved with such shenanigans? Seriously, all this Patriarchal bickering reminds me of the scene from The Two Towers when Gandalf and Saruman are duking it out with their staffs. Sadly comical, if you think about it. I think we, the laypeople – the Hobbits! – if you will, will have to continue setting the example and affecting change. SMH.

    • Antiochene Son says

      You might read the New Testament, if you think bickering among church leaders is anything new, or in any way hinders the Gospel.

      But in this case, it’s something that must be said. Perhaps they should have ordained Simon Magus just to keep the peace, in your mind?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Good point!

        • George Michalopulos says

          Excellent point. While bickering does not cover Christians in glory, capitulation for the sake of niceties never helps. In fact, it always winds up wounding the Body of Christ.

      • There was bickering in the New Testament and there’s bickering today, but that doesn’t make it okay, and yes it does hurt our witness. Sts Peter and Paul, Silas and Mark, all eventually reconciled. Have we? Their reconciliation is proclaimed and celebrated in the icon of Sts Peter and Paul embracing. Are we embracing? Be careful that one’s agreement with one side over another doesn’t cause one to stumble by excusing away bad behavior.

        • Antiochene Son says

          I’m sure reconciliation will happen. We know the end of Sts. Peter and Paul’s story, we don’t know the end of this one.

    • Seraphim says

      While I love that you’re making a LOTR reference, I don’t think what you’re trying to say with it really works. First, their fight was in the Fellowship, not Two Towers. That aside, Gandalf was on NO high horse. He was there seeking advice as to what to do with the newly found ring (aka help the hobbit who had it), and was betrayed by Saruman who gave up hope and joined the enemy. In that sense, if you want to compare Bartholomew to Saruman, it wouldn’t be out of place. What followed was Gandalf standing against him and getting his butt kicked for his troubles. When the other bishops stand together against Bartholomew and his injustices, this is like their next meeting in Return of the King, when Gandalf shatters Saruman’s staff with a word. When the bishops stand together, Bartholomew has no power, no leverage. Like Saruman, he has a chance, even after all the damage he has caused, to repent. If he doesn’t, well…we saw what happened to Saruman in the end.

    • I’d hardly compare the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils to characters from LOTR. Was duking it out and fighting against Nestorianism, Iconoclam, Ariansim just “shenanigan’s?”

  3. This to me is huge and I think it’s missed on some people:

    I realize that bishops hardly ever reproach other bishops. It’s simply “not done.” That they did so tells you something.

    For better or worse bishops, at least here in America, usually “play nice” with one another. So, for just about the entire Assembly of Bishops to publicly rebuke another bishop, not once but twice, in a few months is huge deal. I know for a fact that Met. Joseph has had private conversation with Elpidophoros, which obviously have not worked.

    It has given me some pause as to why they waited until now to say anything given the number of scandals that Elpidophoros has caused and since the EP has been concelebrating with schismatics for 2 years. Maybe they were waiting for something “concrete” to indict him on here in America? I wont complain because thank God they did something.

    the American jurisdictions know which way the wind is blowing.

    Not only this but I can 100% guarantee that the bishops of the other jurisdictions have heard non-stop from the laity about the never ending scandals that Elpidophoros has caused (I also know this is the case from within GOARCH), plus I’m sure the bishops are well aware of this themselves. I also think the massive wave of recent converts has something to do with this, I follow several Orthodox “internet celebs” on Instagram and they’ll occasionally ask which jurisdiction their followers belong to…very few of them are GOARCH, the only GOA ones always add “reluctantly since there are no other parishes.” Which is a shame because there are very good GOA parishes.

    If they ignore it, the incipient rupture within Orthodoxy, which is happening in the Old World, will take root in the New as well.

    I’m not sure it would be so much of a rupture as the Assembly would just kick GOARCH off and the rest keep trucking along, and hopefully bring back ROCOR. All of the bishops clearly had a huge amount of respect for Met. Hilarion.

    Third, as far as the world stage is concerned, the non-Greek local Churches now realize Istanbul has lost more than it has gained.

    You have to wonder what the Greek speaking Churches are thinking right about now. I did see where Patriarch Theodoros was in Cyprus (Crete?) you have to imagine this was a topic of discussion. Good on Patriarch Theophilos & Archbishop Anastasios (the only other two ethnic Greeks) for holding out. I pray the Greek Churches comes to their senses as losing them would be a catastrophic loss for the Church.

    The New Rome mythology is over and not a second too soon. The pendulum has swung the other way. Finally.

    They called the bluff of the bully and realized that the bully is a paper tiger. With the economic downfall of the West comes the downfall of the EP.

    Ironically it may be GOARCH that unites all of the Orthodox in America – though unfortunately we are united against them – I pray they change course.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      And don’t discount our prayers to our Father in Heaven.

      Each of these bishops has made a turn-around with that letter, showing their love for us and for our Church. Given what’s happened in Ukraine with the inclusion of the OCU, the attempted grab of Macedonia, trying to install a defrocked bishop, and a myriad of other things, they finally used their collective voices to protect the Church in America and they have done it well.

      By George, I think they are ready to lead!

      • And don’t discount our prayers to our Father in Heaven.

        Yes! That is the most important. I’m sure many, many of us have implored God.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Agreed. not a rupture or formal schism but a “Well, we hope you like being Episcopalian!” In other words, the EP and his followers will no longer be recognized as being Orthodox in any meaningful sense of the term.

      I can see the non-GOA bishops following the lead of Antioch which (unless Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria changes his mind) will become first in the Diptychs.

      Eventually, the worldly GOA will become a historical curiosity (unless they too, change their minds).

      • unless they too, change their minds

        And I sincerely pray to God they do.

        Now that the bishops have sent this I really have to wonder what the monasteries will do when it comes down to brass tacks. A lot of people in America (and around the world) look to the Ephraim monasteries for guidance and what they do is indeed important.

    • Antiochene Son says

      I can 100% guarantee that the bishops of the other jurisdictions have heard non-stop from the laity about the never ending scandals that Elpidophoros has caused

      Indeed. The last time my bishop was in town, he talked at length with the parish council about them.

      • Oh yea, I know an OCA & an Antiochian bishop who have said the same thing.

        I can’t help but notice the timing of this letter was done just days before the GOARCH clergy-laity conference, I’m sure this will cause some buzz.


    Very sad to see, but, can’t help but see a correlation between the fall of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the fall of holy sites in Turkey. All of this has been going on for a while but it seems to have ramped up the last few years. Hagia Sophia, the desecration of Soumela, and a couple of other previous churches being turned into mosques/museums/becoming derelict, plus Halki still being closed.

    Guess all that political pandering didn’t do any good after all.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

  5. Barbara Tuchman said it best:

    “Three outstanding attitudes: Obliviousness to the growing disaffection of constituents, primacy of self-aggrandizement, illusion of invulnerable status, are persistent aspects of folly.”

    She was talking about governments throughout history making stupid mistakes, almost knowingly, blind to warnings, with clear, tell-tale signs that they were wrong. Yet with arrogance and short term personal gain on their agenda, they created the exact opposite of what they intended to do.

    The current leadership of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is a vivid example of this.

    Thank you, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for giving wisdom to our other American Church leaders in the OCA, the Serbian Dioceses, the Antiochians, and the Russian Orthodox Dioceses in North America, to take a stand against the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s clear “folly.”

    People like those who currently run the GOA and the Patr of C’ple cannot be in charge, they can’t be allowed to run things. They need help, repentance, metanoia. God will not allow Himself to be mocked.

  6. In some really good news, Fr. Josiah Trenham won his libel lawsuit against Giacomo Sanfilipo the homosexual who runs Heterodoxy in Dialogue:

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I keep having to pinch myself. Not used to getting all this great news!

    • Antiochene Son says

      But he has not yet complied with the judgment. All the articles are still on the site, over a month hence.

  7. Austin Martin says

    Oh don’t worry. Wait a couple weeks and they’ll change their mind. Robbery, cruelty and deceit are the nature of the world.

    The only silver lining is the fact that Serbia was able to create an autocephalous Church out of one of its archdioceses —without any Phanariote hubbub to the contrary. This is confirmation of the new-found confidence of the local Churches. That’s the way it should be.

    Not only that, but the Serbians let them use the name “Macedonia”, something the EP and CoG are opposed to for some historical ethnic reason no one cares about.

    Istanbul and its American outpost have no more hole cards.

    They have money, the CIA, George Soros, the media, and probably several forms of blackmail. The money may be running low, but that’s what NGOs are for.

    All of these bishops did the wrong thing during COVID. Most of them think the Monophysites are Orthodox. Probably none of them have taken a strong stand against the Marxist clergy. Have they changed their minds overnight? Have they suddenly become conservatives? Do they suddenly care about what the laity in middle America thinks? Are they worried that something will become a scandal to the faceless masses outside the BosWash corridor?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Austin, yes, “they have the money” (not really) and Soros and NGOs, etc. But even billionaires can recognize a wasting asset. The Phanar at this point is a “sunk cost.”

  8. Seraphim says

    I know no one wants a full division “within” Orthodoxy. But we have to ask “Is there something worse?” If something isn’t done, what we end up with is our version of the Catholic sex scandals: Orthodox leaders doing bad stuff, everyone knows about, and the Church did nothing about it. And it’s not enough to simply have it Moscow vs Istanbul and the rest of ’em sit on the fence. Cause then it becomes “So who are the “real” Orthodox? We need a situation where the whole Church says “I’m calling BS!” and holds Istanbul accountable. If he still refuses, then you don’t have a breach within the Church. You have THE Church excommunicating someone who violated multiple canons and refused to repent. It may be ugly, but the people, in and out of the Church, need to know we stand for the Truth. You think it was pretty when those guys were carrying the dead bodies of Ananias and Sapphira out the door? Nope. But everyone knew: the Holy Spirit, and the Church He indwells, doesn’t put up with any shenanegans.

    • You have THE Church excommunicating someone who violated multiple canons and refused to repent


      Given how intertwined Orthodoxy in America is now with the various jurisdiction, things like pan-Orthodox Vespers during Lent, pan-Orthodox Young Adult/Young Professional groups, etc., are going to get very awkward for those in the Greek Archdiocese if things really hit the fan.

      • mamma mia says

        pan-Orthodox events are already awkward – that is even if they still exist in some places. Covid restrictions, the EP’s shenanigans in the Ukraine, and the need for the GOA parishes to call the shots have contributed mightily to DISunity.

        • Personally I think Orthodoxy is going into schism. Romanian, Greek, Bulgarian, and all new calendar European churches will form their own sect. These churches have been integrated and brought into the European socio-economic and security architecture of that continent. Hence they quietly support abortion, promote European liberal values through their silence, and hate the Russian church ( further evidence Orthodoxy is just a regional European religion meant to be confined to the Balkans, imagine EP wakes up and a China has converted to Orthodoxy further marginalizing his Euro-Greek clout and we can never have that). This new european Orthodoxy is not the Orthodoxy of our grandparents.

          • The Romanians and Bulgarians don’t really strike me as being sympathetic to Constaniople. Antioch is also new calendar and they are definitely not in the EP’s camp.

            • I’m still hoping Antioch returns to the old calendar . Romanians and Bulgarians may not be sympathetic to the EP, but it’s no longer about that. These churches have been brought into the European architecture thus their individual opinions are irrelevant. It is the EU which dictates to them what the gospel is and not the other way around. Hence why European Orthodoxy is shy about criticising anything against traditional morals. In fact these bishops are terrified of their own modernist laity. European Orthodoxy is just a domesticated cultural relic inside some European museum now, their relevance is to just be yes men to what is called the “European perspective”.

  9. I have to admit even after years of being Orthodox, Orthodox ecclesiology does sometimes confuse me. Take this article for example:

    If you commune with schismatics, doesn’t that make you a schismatic?
    If that is the case then Constantinople, Greece, Alexandria are schismatic, right?
    Why would the hierarchs from Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania & Jerusalem be celebrating with them?

    Does the schismatic part only apply to the patriarchs of those Churches? Does it only apply to those clerics who have concelebrated with the schismatics? Does it apply to all the bishops?

    I’m genuinely really curious about this.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      It applies to everyone. It is not clear to me that they’re communing since they’re outside.

  10. If you open the OrthoChristian article zoom in to the top right of Bartholomew and take a look at who is in the shiny picture frame. Tells you all you need to know.

    Then there is also this:

    I really do wish they would just hurry up and get it over with so we can move on.

  11. What does it really matter if a number of jurisdictions abandon the CP’s gabfest in America? Does it signal discipline against the CP or is it simply empty posturing? Unless they excommunicate the CP, the rest of it is really irrelevant.

    • I tend to agree Misha. The more the other patriarchs refuse to outright condemn and excommunicate the EP the worse this will get. A majority of current problems in the Church could be solved by unanimously condemning and excommunicating the EP like Russia has done.

      They have done enough damage and it needs to stop. They’ll continue with the consecration of Belya and then just move on to their next scandal. Montenegro? Abkhazia? They are just going to continue with division after division.

      Maybe the old world patriarchates have communicated this to their American bishops and that’s why the Assembly has finally spoken up?