Game of Thrones

Last month, Archbishop Elpidophoros, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St Bartholomew’s Episcopal Cathedral in New York City.  Neither the date nor the venue was coincidental.  More to the point, his “homily” (which was really a glowing encomium to his patron in Istanbul) was somewhat unsettling, being as it had nothing to do with the Gospel. 

One thing that stood out was the mention of the longevity of Patriarch  Bartholomew’s tenure as Ecumenical Patriarch.  We ere told in the homily that he has occupied the patriarchal throne longer than any of his predecessors  (thirty years to be exact).

The fact that St Bartholomew’s Cathedral was festooned with LGTQ paraphernalia was not lost on those of a more traditional bent within Orthodoxy.  Some speculated that the choice of the venue was a subtle message that the Greek-speaking churches (as opposed to the Slavic churches) were more sympathetic to the present zeitgeist

Given that the historic See of Constantinople has known little peace throughout its seventeen-hundred-year history, this is not insignificant.  Cyril VI Lukaris (d. 1638) for instance, had six different tenures on the throne.  Many other patriarchs were exiled and reassigned on a whim by their Turkish suzerains.  (Not that it was much different during the Byzantine period for that matter.)  One can therefore be forgiven for viewing mere longevity as an accomplishment, especially in such a turbulent area of the world.

Be that as it may, hope springs eternal.  Unfortunately, Bartholomew’s hand was a poor one, since “Constantinople” as a church, had been dying for generations.  Because of his erudition however. as well as his excellent command of the English language (something which his predecessor lacked), he was able to find a more useful niche to play on the world stage.  And that was environmentalism.  All things considered, he played that role very well.  Unfortunately, he did so while the forces of globalism (of which environmentalism is a part) would begin to unravel.  

That said, when he assumed the Constantinopolitan throne, globalism was still on the ascendant.  If he was going to assume a papal-like presence on the international stage, then he had to rein in the many foreign eparchies that made up his patriarchate.  North America was especially problematic, being that it was then led by the charismatic Archbishop Iakovos Coucouzis.  Because of Iakovos’ commitment to pan-Orthodox unity in America, Bartholomew sensed that America was restive for autocephaly, and thus, he forced Iakovos to retire in 1996.   

The intervening twenty-five years have not been particularly peaceful.  If anything, the demand for greater inter-Orthodox American unity has only grown, as have demands for autocephaly.  Unfortunately for Bartholomew, Iakovos’ successor, Metropolitan Spyridon Pappas of Italy, had a disastrous tenure, alienating in particular several in the leadership class, including the bishops.  And so, in order to placate the bishops of the GOA, Bartholomew elevated them to metropolitan status, thereby making them “equal” to the new primate. 

This only bought Spyridon some time and things continued to degenerate in the archdiocese.  Bowing to the newly-minted metropolitans’ increasingly insistent demands, Bartholomew sacked him in 1999, replacing him with Metropolitan Demetrios Trakatellis.  An irenic man, Demetrios’ tenure was less turbulent and more long-lived but he (like Iakovos decades earlier), had excellent relations with the Orthodox Church in America, and even forced their inclusion into the newly-formed Episcopal Assembly of the United States.  This did not sit well with Bartholomew who had long viewed that American church’s grant of autocephaly by Moscow as a thorn in the flesh.  Predictably, Demetrios was forced out in 2019, to be replaced by the Metropolitan of Bursa, Elpidophoros Lambrianides.  

For many, the question is why has the Ecumenical Patriarch behaved in such a high-handed manner?  His curious interpretations of obscure canons as well as the crafting of novel doctrines which aggrandized his authority struck many as pretentious and self-serving.  Some worried that he was creating an Eastern papacy.  They continue to do so.  Needless to say, his actions weren’t particularly well-received by the rest of the Orthodox world who found his brazen attempts to craft new autocephalies in already-existing local churches shocking.

In Ukraine, this has caused a deep fissure bringing Orthodoxy to the precipice of schism.  

Unless historical events change to justify his ecclesiology, the most charitable assessment of his archpastorate at present is that it is one that has been mired in controversy.  The question before us today is where will he go from here?  

According to his calendar, Patriarch Bartholomew is supposed to go to  Ukraine next month, where he will implement diocesan changes in that country.  Presumably, he will do this by sacking some bishops, relocating others, and demanding obedience from the rest.  Regardless, it is hard to see how he will succeed, given that (1) there was no groundswell for support for an autocephalous church in the first place, and (2) Metropolitan Onuphriy of Kiev has only gained more sympathy from the rest of the Orthodox world.  The reality on the ground is that the average Ukrainian is firmly in Onuphriy’s camp. Prudence would indicate that given the precarious political nature of Ukraine, he would be wise to take all of these things into account.  (

How chaotic are things in the Ukraine?  Presently, there are three Metropolitans of Kiev:  Onuphriy Berezovsky, who is universally recognized as the legitimate primate; Epiphany Dumenko (Bartholomew’s uncanonical candidate); and the extremely colorful Philaret Denisenko, the man who singlehandedly precipitated the entire Ukrainian crisis in the first place.   In order to placate Denisenko, Bartholomew made him “Patriarch Emeritus” of Ukraine, a move which satisfied no one and in fact, only served to anger Denisenko.

In November, Bartholomew is slated to come to America.  Rumors abound that he will “bless” the new charter for the GOA and force the retirement of the existing metropolitans, replacing each with a bishop.  The seats will be filled with several unknown monks who were recently brought to the United States by Elpidophoros and placed strategically near the archdiocesan headquarters. 

In addition, he is to consecrate the St Nicholas Shrine in New York City, roughly approximating the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of its destruction.  His agenda is not set in stone and neither is St Nicholas.  It remains an incomplete eyesore, horrendously over budget.  Even worse, it has no set date for opening.  As for the prospects for jurisdictional unity in America, they appear to be remote.

Finally, Bartholomew was supposed to pay a visit to Cuba after his American sojourn.  One can only speculate as to why.  As a revolutionary society, it is an abject failure and no longer holds much allure even for the Third World.  We have since learned that this leg of the journey was “postponed”.  

Perhaps his declining health precludes it.  If the cancellation of the Cuban leg of his North American journey is any indication, then we can say that his plans remain fluid, especially if any prospective successes in the United States remain elusive. 

This hesitancy is viewed positively in some circles.  One reason would be the fact that should he proceed to execute his plans for Ukraine, he runs the very real risk of provoking a worldwide schism within the Orthodox Church.  As is known, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church is scheduled to meet in November of this year.  Metropolitan Onuphriy of Kiev sits on that body and no doubt any further intrusions in his archdiocese will be viewed most unfavorably.  

As a Christian bishop resident in a country that is overwhelmingly Muslim in population, it cannot be overlooked that despite Bartholomew’s tight grip on the reins of power within his patriarchate, he is ultimately a hostage to events and not a driver of them.  Try as he might, he cannot escape his circumstances; neither the size of his patriarchate (which is minuscule) nor the usually hostile Turkish government allows him any such luxury.  As such, he has no real power; a fact which is obvious even to those who surround him.  Flowery titles for metropolitans of extinct dioceses to the contrary, some of the bishops have the remarkable latitude to engage in their own whims and caprices while others engage in internecine squabbles. 

His putative heir, Metropolitan Emanuel Adamakis of Chalcedon for example, has not taken Turkish citizenship (which is a requirement for elevation to the patriarchal throne); instead he has purchased a home in one of the northern suburbs of Athens, a move that was met with anger by the Turkish government.  Already there is jockeying for position among certain metropolitans, which the Turkish government is using to its advantage (

Ultimately, we don’t know what the future holds.   Of course, we hope for his health, yet despite his longevity on the throne, the time will come when a more sober analysis of his legacy will take place.  Presently, all we can say is that he is viewed in some circles as a man of progressive vision, one who took the necessary steps to bring some semblance of order as far as inter-Orthodox relations are concerned.  His championship of the local Episcopal Assemblies, for example, has merit, at least as far as the diaspora is concerned.  Likewise his granting of autocephaly to the local church in Albania was rightly lauded and overdue.  

Not that he was a lone actor; it was Elpidophoros’ mission to bring the other American jurisdictions into the Constantinopolitan fold.  This would have been one of the crowning achievements of Bartholomew had Elpidophoros been able to do so, as it would have invalidated the autocephaly of the OCA.  (That said, the OCA has divested itself of its properties in Syosset and is moving its headquarters to Washington, DC,  move which, if anything, would be congruent Orthodox ecclesiology regarding the placement of a headquarters for a national church.)

That being said, the record is mixed, at best.  His still-born “Great and Holy Council” has not resolved anything despite all protestations to the contrary and even its votaries have quietly forgotten it.

As for his heavy-handed intrusion into Ukraine, it is hard to imagine how it could be viewed in a benign light.  The fact that several “mini-Ukraines,” (e.g. Macedonia and Montenegro), wait in the wings has likewise galvanized opposition to him in Balkan circles.  This newfound arrogance seems to be in lock-step with American hegemonic ambitions and does not sit well with many in the Orthodox world.  Especially so given the fact that American geopolitical hegemony is no longer cloaked in the mantle of freedom as it was during the days of the Cold War, but in unsettling, ultra-liberal ideas.

And then there is the elephant in the room, which is the deliberate steps that Bartholomew has taken with regard to union with Rome.  It’s ironic but instead of healing the Great Schism, should he take this step, then schisms within schisms will erupt in ways that would be difficult to contain.

As for this last venture, time is probably not on Bartholomew’s side.  This might explain his headlong rush into Ukraine, his desire to unite all of the American jurisdictions under him, and the ill-advised granting of autocephalies in the Balkans (to say nothing about Ukraine).

However, it is unity with Rome that remains the long-awaited jewel for his earthly crown.  He will accept nothing less before he goes.  None of the other men who are his possible successors possess the stature to execute such ambitious plans and there is little time to teach them.        

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.  There is no middle ground.” 





About GShep


  1. Elpidophoros reminds me of a rapper. He is always talking about his name and laying down diss tracks.

    • Illumined says

      It seems to me, in my humble opinion, that the Patriarchate of Constantinople would be better off focusing on evangelizing the Middle East and Africa. Certainly there’s some limits to this because of the various Muslim theoracies, but the word is starting to spread. After reading about the fiasco in Uganda about priests not getting paid, given that Africa is practically virgin territory that area in particular should be getting the most attention and resources. Overtime these efforts would revitalize Christianity in the Middle East as well as plant firm roots in Africa. That would be a praiseworthy accomplishment, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

  2. Andrew Sabak says

    Speaking of the “Patriarch of Constantinople” (which it always seemed to me is an honorific title that could be executed while living anywhere in the world such as Greece or Mount Athos, analogous to the Patriarch of Antioch living in Damascus), I remember seeing him in Johnstown PA at the War Memorial events venue when he visited the United States in July 1990. I still have the little souvenir flag they handed out. There were several thousand people from Diocesan parishes, there to see a real live Patriarch. It was a big deal, with three hours of Matins followed by three hours of Liturgy, from what I heard afterwards after we left.
    I got the distinct impression, which I never really shared with others, that he was an extremely prideful man. The example I will always remember is when, before Liturgy, he (or is it He?) sat on a throne on the right side of the stage facing left, and one by one the attending clergy slowly approached for a blessing and then walk backwards slowly away from him the entire length of the big stage. I’m glad no one stumbled.
    The only other Patriarch I saw was the Patriarch of Moscow at a festive liturgy at one of the Kremlin cathedrals 20 years ago. He entered for the 4 1/2 hour Liturgy, bells ringing, greeted at the door with symbols of hospitality and prayers, and he was right there in the midst of his people.
    But back to the Patriarch of Constantinople, I am not surprised by all this unnecessary grasping for earthly glory. Anyway, just my obviously sinful comments

    • Not terribly surprising.

      Both the Roman Pope and the Patr of C’ple have a long history of merging political and ecclesiastical leadership into one messy soup sandwich.

      The Pope effectively became a political leader after the fall of the western Roman Empire. He filled a vacuum.

      And after the fall of the eastern Roman Empire 1000 years later, the Patr of C’ple effectively became the political leader of all Greeks under the Ottoman yoke.

      The Patr of C’ple still behaves that way today – as if he has an eternal mandate to lead all Greeks. Some have called him the Greek people’s “ethnarch.” It’s insane.

      The Church in Russia and in other Orthodox countries that have their own autocephalous church are the best examples of how ecclesiastical and political leadership in a state should remain appropriately distinct – as it was in the eastern Roman Empire before the fall.

      The C’ple church’s ecclesiology – like that of the Roman church – is all cattywompus and needs to end.


    In the above link, Elder Metropolitan Apostolos of Derkoi (who? where?) demonstrates why none of the serious churches want anything to do with the EP. The canonical Ukrainian church and friends are just piously celebrating the Baptism of Rus, while this bishop is throwing insults at them, like a monkey throwing his feces from the cage at the zoo.

    BTW, the EP recognized Albanian autocephaly in 1937. Bartholomew only assisted in its rebuilding under Anastasios, which is to his eternal credit.

  4. Anonymous II says

    UOC publishes an appeal of monastics to Patriarch Bartholomew.

    In their address, the monastics called on the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to assess the consequences of his treacherous actions against the canonical Church in Ukraine and reconsider his decisions so as not to go down in the history of Orthodoxy in the ranks of the traitors to the Church.

    The UOJ publishes the full text of the document:

    “Your Holiness!

    The millennial tradition of Orthodoxy has been built on the unity of the Local Orthodox Churches, each of which fully possesses all the fullness of grace, and all together form the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Ecumenical Church.

    This unity of the Local Orthodox Churches can be likened to the Holy Eucharist, where in the entire Holy Lamb is all of Christ, but in every particle is all of Christ, too. From time immemorial, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has kept such an ecclesiology, paying tribute to the seniority of the ancient Orthodox Churches. We, believers in Christ, remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ that He did not come to be served, but to serve (see Matt. 20:28). Therefore, any teaching associated with special powers and special status is always disposed to the spirit of this world.

    Your Holiness, on July 15, 2021, 310 participants of the monastic congress from 258 monasteries and 56 sketes, households and communities of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church gathered at the great Holy Dormition Pochaiv Lavra in order not only to discuss the pressing issues of monastic life but also to respond to those processes in world Orthodoxy, which undermine the unity of the Orthodox Church. We, monastics of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, have always treated the spiritual tradition of the great Greek monasteries with respect and reverence. For us, both Holy Mount Athos and other monasteries in Greece have been places of receiving spiritual guidance and care. This phenomenon is traditional for the monastic tradition of our Church. Almost every monastery in Ukraine has icons painted on Mount Athos and Greece-related shrines. We treated the Greek monks, from whom we received spiritual instruction in simplicity, with love and reverence. We remember your visits to Ukraine, as well as your representatives’, when you illustrated in every possible way your support for the legitimate Metropolitan of Kyiv, first to His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir (Sabodan), and then to his successor, Metropolitan Onuphty of Kyiv and All Ukraine. Therefore, for us the greatest pain and the greatest sorrow were those treacherous actions that you, as a first among equal bishops of the Orthodox world, made towards the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church. We are at a loss as to what motivated your decisions, but we see with our own eyes what they led to. With confusion in our hearts and sorrow, we, monastics of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, ask you, Patriarch Bartholomew, how your morality accepts the level of turmoil that your decision brought to our country: the seizure of churches, the beating of ordinary believers, discrimination of our pastors and flock at the state level, calls for the extermination of our clergy? Do you understand that in your declining years, you became the reason for the division of the one people of God, in which, according to the words of the Apostle Paul: “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Col. 3:11)? To please what anti-church forces, you committed an unprecedented crime against the Church? Do you realize that into the bloody confrontation that sows grief among our people, you brought new seeds of religious struggle, from which the Lord saved us earlier?

    In this situation, we, the monastics of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, call upon you to assess the consequences of your actions and reconsider your decision. Become the first bishop and father recognized by all Orthodox Christians again. Remember the firm commitment to Orthodoxy of your great predecessors. Think what a great responsibility will rest on you if in the history of Orthodoxy your name will forever be associated with trampled unity and will not be on a par with the names of your great predecessors and saints: John Chrysostom, Photius, Tarasius, Gennady, but among the traitors to the Church that defiled the Throne of Constantinople.

    Before the common shrines of all Orthodox Christians, we, the bishops, abbots, and abbesses of all the holy monasteries of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, offer our prayers to the Merciful Lord to grant you to see what your desire to unite the legitimate Church with those who fell from it decades earlier and strengthened in their hardheartedness, sowing confusion and division among ordinary people, has led to.

    As reported, on July 15, 2021, the Congress of Monasticism of the UOC took place in the Pochaiv Lavra, which became the largest of such events previously held.


    • Gail Sheppard says

      What Bartholomew has not yet acknowledged is that he has so damaged the very foundation of the Chuch he has nothing left to build on.

    • I suspect these monastics of the UOC lost his attention after the first two words of address, “Your Holiness!”

      This letter is not addressed to ‘us,’ for ‘we’ are, Your All-Holiness. Therefore nothing else you may say holds any value for ‘us.’

    • A passionate plea from the UOC monastics, unfortunately it will be ignored by Patriarch Bartholomew. But, he has been given many opportunities, this included, to repent.

  5. Very well written and balanced.

    I wanted to add one problem that needs to also be addressed: the fact that the Ecumenical Patriarchate claims to speak for all Greeks, and if one speaks against it or its decisions one is “against Hellenism”. The latest diatribe by Metropolitan Apostolos in Orthodox Times is a prime example of this.

    Along side this is the constant accusation of “ingratitude” toward the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of today and of 1000 and 400 years ago is different than Patriarch Bartholomew’s “administration” if we may call it such. It is one thing to respect the seat, another to disagree with “the man”.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I agree, GerogeS, but the fact that they could “go there” is the problem. We can’t afford to have a patriarchate that enables their patriarch to crown himself king.

      We also don’t need a patriarchate with metropolitans over places that no longer exist. It’s a game of musical chairs with them.

      God willing, Bartholomew will continue to live out his natural life in relative peace. Unfortunately, however, the patriarchate will live on.

      My understanding is that unless it is moved, the patriarchate keeps its “special powers” which are at the root of our collective problem.

      If, however, the patriarchate is moved, they can go forward without the fairy dust and we won’t have to deal with the ongoing anxiety of a patriarchate creating another schism.

  6. Really good summation of the situation. Hopefully his cancellation of his Cuba trip means that he will also be cancelling his American tour. With the rising unpopularity of Abp. Elpidophoros maybe he can “read the room” so to speak. However, As I mentioned on Helleniscope, I somewhat hope Bartholomew shows up and we show him exactly how he feel about all his crap. As for Ukraine, it is also speculated that he will formally “excommunicate” Metropolitan Onuphry by denouncing him of having any ecclesiastical status…this is possibly the dumbest thing he could do…but I’m sure he will do it.

    From “inside” word I’ve heard from people close with Met. Joseph, going under the omophorion of the Greek Archdiocese is never going to happen. Even IF Met. Tikhon, Met. Joseph, etc., hypothetically were to do it, they would lose so much of their flocks to render them irrelevant. For goodness sakes, even parishes (and monasteries) in the Greek Archdiocese are hanging on to the GOA by a thread.

    I pray for Pat. Bartholomew’s repentance, but, it seems more likely (unfortunately) that he will be going down in history with the likes of his predecessors Nestorius or Metrophanes II, who also betrayed the faith to Rome at the Council of Florence. He had the opportunity to do great things with his office but chose to hitch his wagon to the zeitgeist of the age.
    Now all we need is our St. Mark of Ephesus, luckily there are a few I can think of. God has a way of sorting out these things…just look at the way the heretic Arius died…not pleasant.

    In the end the Church canons do not have particularly good things to say about “makers of schism.”

  7. “That said, the OCA has divested itself of its properties in Syosset and is moving its headquarters to Washington, DC, move which, if anything, would be congruent Orthodox ecclesiology regarding the placement of a headquarters for a national church.)”

    Proper setup for the USA would be national hqs in a red rural county of each red state, each red state being a sovereign country, avoiding many/most of the official capitals of those states as foreign occupied territory. All of blue “America” could be provided for by one single hq in Beijing, China, cutting out the middle management of Washington D.C.

  8. “However, it is unity with Rome that remains the long-awaited
    jewel for his earthly crown. He will accept nothing less before he goes.”

    Perhaps, but who will go with him when he goes?

    • I never understand why people think Bart wants union with Rome. He already exists in utter obscurity. If he’s in union he is in even greater invisibility. From the meaningless first among equals (what a joke) to 2nd fiddle of nothingness. Even Bart can’t be that dense. I’m usually wrong, though. He’s best ignored as are all bishops.

      • “I never understand why people think
        Bart wants union with Rome.”

        We think he wants it because he said he wants it:

      • It is actually the Pope of Rome who desperately wants the “jewel” of union with the Orthodox, and it is not really Patriarch Bartholomew who necessarily wants it per se. It is the Pope of Rome who has everything to gain by union, not the Patriarch of Constantinople.

        Pope John Paul II wanted union with the Orthodox so very badly. Since he was Polish, he was also well acquainted with both the Orthodox and the Uniates, and he wanted a united Christianity to help defeat Communism. His successor, Pope Benedict, carried on the crusade for union with the Orthodox, seeing in Orthodoxy a traditional conservatism that he thought would help wayward Catholics. Now it is primarily Pope Francis who carries on the crusade for union, because I suppose Pope Francis wants to be the Pope of All Christians. Patriarch Bartholomew has just kept stringing all of these popes along, and he’s being doing it for thirty years now.

        The Ecumenical Patriarch has an understood position to reach out to apostate Christians and help to bring them back into the fold. For example, we can see the 16th century correspondence and dialogue between the German Lutheran theologians of Tubingen and the Patriarch of Constantinople. While there was some fruit to that dialogue, in the end the Patriarch simply told the theologians they were welcome to join him for tea if they wish, but he would not dialogue with them anymore about theological matters because that discussion had finally reached a standstill. Regardless, I’m certain that dialogue did finally help many Lutherans to convert to Orthodoxy later on.

        • “Now it is primarily Pope Francis who carries on the crusade for union, because I suppose Pope Francis wants to be the Pope of All Christians.”

          Pope Francis wants to make us all socialists. I believe deep down inside he is a follower of liberation theology. All of these materialist clergy and hierarchy, be they Latin or Orthodox, have one goal in common, submission of the Church to the temporal powers. I call it Neo-Sergianism.

      • It’s political. Bartholomew may not even believe in God, for all we know. What he does believe in is Greek power. In the Orthodox Church with the largest local church being the ROC and the Slavs being an overwhelming majority, Bartholomew lacks the power he desires, the status, the recognition.

        However, in communion with Rome, he could write his own ticket regarding prerogatives and status among the Eastern Catholic “churches” at the same time as being rid of the Slavs, who would never follow him into a Unia. It makes perfect sense from the perspective of someone who has no respect whatsoever for Orthodox theology or ecclesiology. He was turned, converted in a sense, during his time at the Pontifical Institute, if not before. He is already a Uniate in spirit. The rest is arranging the details to maximize Greek power.

        That’s what’s on his mind and that’s all that is on his mind.

        • Misha,
          I think he believes in “Bartholomew Power” not Greek Power.
          After all, like LP , he is more Turkish-influenced than Greek.

          • Ioannis,

            I don’t wish to paint all Greeks with the same brush, to be sure. But Bartholomew has referred explicitly to the prerogatives of “our race” in reference to his assertion of papal powers. He sees himself as the ethnarch of Hellenism and as eastern pope as a corollary.

            • Misha,
              Inside Greece, the last great “ethnarch” was believed by some to be Archbishop Makarios in the 50s, 60s, 70s. I have not heard (many) people now call Bartholomew an ethnarch (= a leader of the nation). People are rather taught to believe B. is the head of Orthodoxy, but not all (or many) mainland Greeks believe that.
              On the other hand, for B., personally, it is naturally interesting to diplomatically act as a Greek ethnarch, that gives him at least some nominal followers even as little as 10mln, very few compared to Kyrill’s.

              • I think Abp Makarios was Ethnarch in Cyprus,
                not Greece.

                • Yes Brendan,
                  but Cyprus is related to Greece, her Religion and language.
                  So ethnos and thus ethnarch was wider connotations.

  9. George,

    Nice summary, as dispassionate as possible. And that is wise in these times. Some will cling to the hope that Constantinople can yet be saved. Others of us have long since let it go as being pruned out by the Lord in His wisdom. One cannot say the writing has not been on the wall for generations.

    Bartholomew has his hand picked heir apparent on the throne in the GOA, Elpidophoros. So his plans will have a driving force should he pass away prematurely to their fruition. It is a mix of ecumenism and jealousy over the restoration of the Russian Church. The Phanar’s dependency on the US State Department plays a large role as does “Hellenistic Supremacy”. There is a deep, inferiority inspired thirst to be relevant to the western progressives who seem to rule the world. They are the new Turks whose boot Bartholomew and Elpi lick.

    Their sense of racial superiority cannot stand the specter of an ROC leading more than half of world Orthodoxy by default, if not de jure. They cannot displace the ROC from Orthodoxy so they must take their wing of Orthodoxy into Uniatism. In their minds, they are not leaving the Church but leading the remnant of “True Orthodoxy” to reunion with Rome.

    The real marker has already been laid down. Interference in the Ukraine precipitated the ROC to excommunicate the Phanar and all other churches which recognize the OCU. That is the Schism. It simply hasn’t played out into complete separation of communion in that a number of parties have not decisively chosen sides. But the two visions are mutually exclusive and will not be modified but for divine intervention. The interests of the ROC cannot be protected in any way other than how they have proceeded. The ambitions of the Phanar cannot be satisfied in any other way and they are shared by a ready made successor in Elpi.

    The Phanar and the ROC have already decided to split for good. Everyone else will just have to decide for themselves where the Church is and where it will be for them. It is sad to see the Greeks overcome by papism as the Romans were a thousand years ago. Yet pride cometh before a fall.

    Never hold hands with a jumper.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Thank you, Misha.

      While Elpi may be his “hand-picked successor”, I would not hold my breath if I were you. Two months ago it was Emanuel who was given the new-fangled title of “geron”. Now, the Turks are angered at the latter.

      Please click on the second link in the story. If I’m reading it right, there’s an unknown metropolitan who’s kissing up to the Turks and sticking his knife in both Emanuel’s back as well as LP’s. Of course, I would appreciate a more detailed analysis from anybody who wishes to examine it.

      • there’s an unknown metropolitan who’s kissing up to the Turks and sticking his knife in both Emanuel’s back as well as LP’s

        I can’t even think of who it could be since we never really hear about any of the other Metropolitans. If they have to have Turkish citizenship there can’t be that many of them. I wonder if any of the monks on Athos have Turkish citizenship?

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Perhaps his former Chief Secretary, now Metropolitan Joachim of Prousa/Bursa? Isn’t the Metropolitan of Bursa always the #2?

          • Don’t know much about him but if that is the case then God Willing he isn’t as bad as Bartholomew, but, that entire patriarchate is pretty slim pickings for hierarchs who are “orthodox” in their Orthodoxy. Whoever it is, it cannot be worse than Met. Emanuel of France would be

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Which one of these people fits the profile?

              Dimitrios of Metres and Athyra
              Ambrosios of Karpathos and Kasos
              Apostolos of Militos
              Alexios of Atlanta
              Joseph of Proconnesus
              Meliton of Philadelphia
              Joseph of Buenos Aires
              Cleopas of Sweden and all Scandinavia
              Maximos of Selyvria
              Makarios of Australia
              Kyrillos of Imbros and Tenedos

        • It’s the geron metropolitan of Pringeponesa Demetrios the person that you seek…a problematic person.

      • George,

        It appears so. His English is eclectic so it is a bit clumsy to get ahold of. Whenever succession is in question, or if it can be called into question, you have aspirants to the throne willing to make deals with anyone who feels they have a stake in the outcome to “divvy up the graft”, so to speak. So it could be an unknown hierarch working with the Turks to install a more amenable “Ethnarch of the Romaioi”. Such a person would need help and perhaps the Turks might find it in their interest to offer such assistance.

        Or it could be FSB.

        I have wondered when Bartholomew would start getting “unlucky” in his own little pond. Not wanting to call too much attention to the possibility, I won’t explore it in depth, but the Turks have every reason to suck up to the Russians and, as you point out, the Greek clergy can be utterly cutthroat with one another. I would not put it past a Greek bishop (and his entourage) to side with the Turks and/or Russians. History would condemn me for the assertion.

        For those who think the Russians and Turks are in an adversarial dynamic, you may want to take a look at the above article. You will see other articles about arms sales to Ukraine in the news and thus some think there is a rift. But you have to understand that the arms trade is not a good indicator.

        The arms trade is a business more than it is political. It only becomes political when the nature of the arms traded are destabilizing. If Turkey, for instance, sells Ukraine some drones, planes and other aeronautical equipment, so what? If they have the money, they will get them somewhere. Better Turkish arms producers should profit than, say, Americans. Russia understands this. They make formal objections, but it is all winks and nods. As the Sicilians say, “It’s business, not personal.” It only gets personal when the weapons sold will decide the conflict.

        Bartholomew’s geopolitical mistake was the persecution and dispossession of Russo-Ukrainian Orthodox in the Ukraine by his pseudo-church and the Ukie gov’t. That’s violence and property, a turf war. The Ukraine is in Russia’s front yard and the RF has recently suffered two attacks from the Western Alliance, one in Georgia, the other the Ukrainian coup d’etat. Both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union encompassed the Ukraine or large parts thereof and Kievan Rus is the font of Russian-ness. Up until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, all Ukrainians spoke Russian either as a first or second language, only some used Ukrainian. Russians see Great Russians, Ukrainians and Belarussians as all being basically the same people, with considerable justification. Thus Bartholomew’s interference is seen as an attack on the Rus’. And Russia has a long history of being invaded and repelling invaders.

        Russia cannot be seen as weak in such a circumstance. And the ideal solution is to address the root cause, which is the ruling clique at the Phanar, as well as the American political situation.

    • It is sad to see the Greeks overcome by papism as the Romans were a thousand years ago. Yet pride cometh before a fall.

      I wouldn’t equate all Greeks with the Phanariot fanatics. When push comes to shove and they go the way of the Uniates, don’t be surprised if there is a large segment of the Greek laity, and many, many clergy who do not go with them to perdition. Bartholomew is not very popular in Greece, and even here in America many GOA parishes are convert-heavy, they won’t be going and forget about Athos or the Elder Ephraim monasteries going along.

      Just my humble opinion, but, outside of Bartholomew and his Synod…is just don’t see any major number of people joining them.

      • Petros,

        I don’t. My godfather is Greek and his reaction to merger with Rome has always been, “never, never, never”.

    • Which of these is the dumbest move?

      (A) Hitching one’s wagon to the political leadership of the West, which includes Biden/Harris/Pelosi/Macron/Merkel/Trudeau (and the latter is on record as stating that burning Canadian churches to the ground is “understandable”!). These are some of the most pathetic, incompetent political leaders that the Western world has ever known.

      (B) Hitching one’s wagon to the Church of Rome, which is run by a bunch of pachamama-worshipping pederasts and where traditional Catholics (not to mention the eastern rite Catholics!) are second- or third-class citizens?

      (C) Planning to denounce one of the most holy men in Ukraine – Met. Onuphriy – as “not really Orthodox” and “schismatic”?

      I can’t figure out which of these 3 moves is the most stupid.

      But the Phanar is apparently planning to do all 3 ! Nice job, gentlemen. This will guarantee the EP/GOA’s complete crashing and burning. Can’t wait to see what they teach in the next “Christian stewardship” class in Brookline!

  10. rjklancko says

    Isn’t it time all old country ties were severed? Yes there can be an old country representation church, only one, with a titular bishop. No dependent parishes or monasteries allowed. All parishes on American soil under an American church led by American born bishops. No money sent off shore but used to grow the American church and it’s ministries. Immigrant clergy allowed for acceptance only if they are fluent in English. Foreign born bishops allowed as seminary professors but not administrators of dioceses. Tough criteria yes,,,,necessary criteria yes,,,,, paradigm changes, yes.

    • rjklancko “No dependent parishes or monasteries allowed. All parishes on American soil under an American church led by American born bishops. No money sent off shore but used to grow the American church and it’s ministries. ”

      Whoa. Who are you to impose such nationalist rules? Would you apply the same rules to the Jews or Catholics?

      • ‘Would you apply the same rules to the Jews or Catholics?’

        I think the Chinese are following such policies.

      • Foreign intrigue is killing us,,,,the cream of our finances goes off shore,,,were are the orthodox hospitals in America,,,,both Jews and Catholics have them,,we not even have a wing at st jude’s,,,,,,,where are our orthodox colleges and universities,,,,the Jews and Catholics have them,,,,they are part of the fabric of America,, we are still ethnic ghettos,,,,,what is our Christian mission?

        • rjklancko “where are our orthodox colleges and universities,,,,the Jews and Catholics have them”

          Nobody stops you from establishing such university or hospital. If you do not have money, you can look for the donors.

          • rjklancko “where are our orthodox colleges and universities,,,,the Jews and Catholics have them”

            Yes, the world is in dire need of more pseudo-religious institutions that educate against the doctrines and morals of those who founded them.

          • And also,,,,you totally missed the point, we have not made a commitment to America,,,,we have not established institutions of out reach,,,,,we have no desire to be part of the fabric of America,,,we get orgasmic over foreign control,,foreign skimming our funds from us,,,what foreign powers think of us,,,,as such we have lost focus on our Christian mission in America and prostate archaic relationships,,,,,no wonder our numbers are dwindling,,,,,where is our vision,,,where is our commitment,,,,where is our ministry to America?

            • “,no wonder our numbers are dwindling,,,,,where is our vision,,,where is our commitment,,,,where is our ministry to America?”

              The Holy Spirit has made Eastern Orthodoxy among the fastest growing religious groups, just on converts. If only the cradles would stop disillusioning themselves and falling away, because Orthodoxy isn’t powerful and influential enough to impress their secular friends. Nope, have to toss the Ecumenical Councils, join with the Monophysites, Rome, and the local coven of witches to really command some earthly respect.

            • rj klancko “you totally missed the point, we have not made a commitment to America … our numbers are dwindling,,,,,where is our vision”

              I still have no clue what are you saying. And to whom this “we” you apply?

    • Interesting you say that because as a Southernor in the OCA I feel like our bishops are foreign even the ones that are American. During Covid I felt like we were in Reconstruction under the Yankee Synod. I heard archbishop Dimitri was a southerner. I wish we had a southerner as bishop of the diocese of the south.

      • Bryan G,
        On the whole I think you’re right. There can be no doubt that the Orthodox view of mission has always been to enlighten the population so that the Church in that locale can sustain itself, with its own native priests, bishops, local language Liturgy, etc. That’s how it happened with the Slavs, the Japanese, and there can be no doubt that’s how the mission started here.

        I think the problem is America grew so fast, both territorially and industrially, and real Orthodoxy never quite took root. So many of the early Orthodox Christians here came to have the same vision that any other American would: the American dream. I don’t think we’ve ever got the hang of bringing real Traditional Orthodoxy to this country. We’ve only seen flashes of it. I think the closest we got was in the 60s and 70s. We had giants of the Faith here: St. John, Bishop Nektary, Archbishop Averky, Fr. Seraphim Rose, Archbishop Andrew of Rockland, etc. These men, and the women who worked with them, were our connectors with the real Orthodoxy of pre-revolutionary Russia. But we didn’t appreciate them while they were here, and now they’re gone and we’ve had virtually no one to replace them.

        So now we’re in this tough spot. On the one hand we have foreign clergy, and sometimes whole foreign congregations, which alienate native Americans. On the other hand, we have native clergy and laity who can speak the language but have nothing to say because they have no root.

        However, I, the eternal pessimist, do see rays of hope. I don’t know that we can, or should, expect some massive shift. But I do think we are seeing those few little drops of rain falling. God is raising up a new “crew,” like St. John talked about. Traditional Orthodox Christians who are preaching the Faith and making it appealing to others. And interestingly, it’s mostly coming from young laity. I will never say we don’t need clergy, but I will say that covid showed us there are limits to the unquestioning obedience we can expect to give them. Read any adventure story and it’s always the noble, valiant, strong king who gives his men hope, even in the face of impossible odds, whose men will follow them to the gates of hell. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we blew an incredible opportunity during the last year. If the Orthodox Church had stood up (clergy first) and proclaimed Christ’s victory over death and our lack of fear and our intention to practice our Faith as we always have, Orthodoxy would not just have grown, it would have exploded!

        • If the Orthodox Church had stood up (clergy first) and proclaimed Christ’s victory over death and our lack of fear and our intention to practice our Faith as we always have, Orthodoxy would not just have grown, it would have exploded!

          Best comment of the day, Seraphim, summarized so well by the quote above.

          We missed a huge opportunity because the message instead was, “Be afraid. Be very afraid because the ‘authorities’ tell us we should be. The day of your death and that of your neighbor’s is not in the hands of God. It is in your own hands, and unless you succumb to the fear, you will be judged a murderer. The holy Mysteries that give life can make you sick…” and the list goes on.

          And lest I be misunderstood, this need not have meant a total disregard for prudent precautions. But it does mean a clear testimony in word and in deed that salvation belongs to the Lord, and blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him as opposed to the shifting sands of ‘science’ (so-called). That He is our life, and His life is above ‘science.’ That though we do indeed have a biological existence, biology alone does not – and cannot – define or exhaust the possibilities of life in Christ, even in this life.

          These are all the things to which every Saint of the Church testified in word and in deed – the very things that they are always preaching about, calling us to look to them and imitate their lives as examples of the faith that overcomes the world. Instead prudence gave way to fear, as they bowed in unquestioning obedience before the ‘authorities’ [gods] of this world. Having the form of godliness they denied the power thereof.

          As the variants take hold and the fear spreads once again, they have an opportunity to show us that their first go-around was an abject failure of faith and that this rather harsh assessment is unjustified. I sincerely hope it is, but they have offered no reason for optimism. We shall see.

          • They will not change. They are not going to admit they were wrong before. It’s just not going to happen. I’d be interested to know when was the last time, if any, a bishop made a call and afterward admitted they were wrong. In addition I think most of them believe they were right all along. Some of them have actively pushed getting the jab, not just leaving it up to personal choice.

            We’re in the days of Elijah here guys. It’s up to us to be the faithful remnant that has not bowed the knee to Ba’al. The unfaithful can do what they want; God will judge righteously.

            • For what it’s worth, Seraphim, I don’t care if they admit they were wrong. It would be nice, perhaps, but all I care about is an approach that reflects faith in God ( that is to say, the Faith) as opposed to asking us to put our faith in the ‘science’ or ‘scientific’ recommendations that even they must realize change daily.

              I realize they would deny that this has been the case – perhaps even truly so in their own minds. I do not doubt (truly) that they think they are doing what is best, but their actions speak much louder than any words they may utter about faith. In the matter of COVID their faith has clearly been in ‘science’ (so called).

              Thus far, it has been easy to predict what the episcopal directive will be in a week’s time because it will precisely mirror the CDC’s and/or the state or local government’s recommendation.

              But to add insult to injury they themselves added the spoon travesty, a matter about which, to my knowledge, no governmental body in the United States ever made recommendations, much less imposed mandates. It was done solely based upon fear – whether their own or that of their parishioners, It is, moreover, a fear that directly contradicts the Faith and promoted belief in an outright lie that even most of them claim they do not believe. Yet once again, their actions shouted louder and clearer than any words they spoke.

      • As a fellow Southron, I have to agree. Archbishop Dimitri of blessed memory was thoroughly Orthodox but a Southerner as well. Being from Texas he spoke Spanish and had pushed for missionary work among the Hispanics. I met him on a visit he had to Florida. He spoke to my wife, who is Hispanic in Spanish. He loved everyone and had that “Y’all come” attitude. IMHO and I could be mistaken, that cradle Orthodox still do not understand the American Christian mindset about church not only being a place of worship but a place for fellowship with kin, neighbors, and guests. My experience has been that ethnic parishes are not too welcoming. A Russian woman once asked me, “Why is it so important that we embrace and welcome people? We are here to pray and worship God.” That’s a valid point but what about letting visitors know they are welcome to come to “pray and worship” with us. No doubt it has gotten better since I first became Orthodox over 35 years ago. But it is a matter of culture and customs.

        • Just a dad says

          Re: “…. cradle Orthodox still do not understand the American Christian mindset about church not only being a place of worship but a place for fellowship with kin, neighbors, and guests. My experience has been that ethnic parishes are not too welcoming.”

          It’s hard to deal with generalizations when the rubber hits the road at the local parish level. My former OCA DoS parish, which Archbishop Dmitri personally helped launch, was/is as cold as it gets. The Russian church we went to could not be more warm and welcoming. But that is just one specific comparison and may not generalize more broadly. Fortunately we (my family) need not worry about the broad brush because we are in a blessed environment in our “ethnic parish”.

        • William Bitsas says

          Re: “…. cradle Orthodox still do not understand the American Christian mindset about church not only being a place of worship but a place for fellowship with kin, neighbors, and guests. My experience has been that ethnic parishes are not too welcoming.”

          Ironically, the ethnic parishes were originally EXACTLY a place for fellowship with kin and neighbors, as well as a place of worship. It’s not uncommon that a Greek community would first build a hall/kitchen/worship space, and only later build the nice church. In that hall were not just services, but celebrations, and gatherings, a place to meet, a chance to remember language and traditions, a place of shelter from a non-understanding, and at times hostile and violent, surrounding culture. What has happened is that, as the cradles assimilated, and dispersed to the suburbs, in many cases they kept the “circle the wagons” mentality and did not expand their
          concept of “who is my neighbor” beyond the ethnic group …. paradoxical for us Greeks especially, who pride ourselves on hospitality. My thought is that the only way this will change is for those communities to learn about and take pride in their ORTHODOXY, not just their ethnicity. Then they will be glad to share that with guests, along with the baklava…. and hopefully that will also lead to less tolerance of unOrthodox assaults on the church from within and without…

    • “All parishes on American soil under an American [New Calendar] church led by American born [Freemason] bishops.”

      Thanks, no thanks.

    • Just a dad says

      Cuz it’s all about ‘Murica ! Seems like holiness and a deep connection to the teachings and traditions of our faith need to be squeezed in there somewhere.

      I am as American as it gets, and immediately after converting from the Protestant church I felt somewhat the same way. But the OCA is such a clown show, and has been for decades, that it seems to me that we need to seek and support and cherish and pray for holy men and women wherever we can find them. Our country is simply not ready to fly solo. So if we find a worthy Abbot and monks on a small island near Seattle, we should listen and learn from them – even if they are ROCOR. (All Americans by the way.). And if there is a holy monk at a Greek monastery in Arizona, same thing. And so on.

      A “must buy American” mandate can work for washing machines and tennis shoes, but we need to be a bit wiser with our salvation.

  11. Elpidophoros “All religions are equal”

    Presumably with exception of one, that is inferior 😉

  12. Patriarch Bartholomew visited Cuba in January of 2004. He consecrated the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Havana. Fidel Castro attended the service. The Patriarch had meetings with Cuban governmental leaders, including Castro, while there. Does anyone know what came of that visit?

  13. Bartholomew will not be consecrating St. Nicholas. He will officiate at the “Thiranixia”, or door opening service. Look for the crowd attending to be heavy with national, state and local officials as well as a broad representation from all sorts of religious groups.

    • So this is a political, not a religious event,,,,,,bet it will be in Greek and Greek chant,,,,what a sham, travesty, and embarrassment for us. The money could have been better used for missionary outreach and Christian charity. In these difficult times we should not be feeding the egos of men, but should be investing in the needy and downtrodden shouldn’t we?

      • rj klancko,
        I am sorry to contradict you, but you are not fair about the Grweek chant.
        The pillar of it is St. John of Damascus and you will be glad to know
        that he was Arab and NOT Greek.
        True, Greek chant has its roots in Ancient Greece, and Ancient Greek music was developed,
        among others, by Pythagoras (you know his theorem).
        P. developed natural musical scales, truly harmonic,
        unlike Western music which only approximates the natural musical scales.
        Historians say that Ancient Greek music was more developed
        than architecture. I guess you do like Corinthian columns, even
        if they are Greek.
        Bartholomew has nothing to do with Ancient Greece.

  14. Serbian hierarch on OCU: For us, this is not a Church



    I wonder if Bishop Basil will be spearheading them monastery effort in the Antiochian Archdiocese since he is retiring. Also, I’m surprised they accepted his retirement given the last of available men to be bishops here in America. For example the Diocese of the west coast of the AOAA is still without a Bishop

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I don’t think you will have a new Diocese of the West bishop as long as Met. Joseph is alive. He was married to that diocese and he takes this sort of thing very seriously.

    • A well deserved retirement for sure but good Lord will he be missed.

      I shudder to think that with the “monastics” waiting to take over in the GOA how diluted the American episcopate will be without His Grace at the helm of America’s heartland.

      It’s even worse when you consider that metropolitan Isaiah is likewise going to be retired as well. (If indeed that’s what’s in store for the GOA upon Bartholomew’s agenda in November.)

      • It’s even worse when you consider that metropolitan Isaiah is likewise going to be retired as well. (If indeed that’s what’s in store for the GOA upon Bartholomew’s agenda in November.)

        It will 100% be another Met. Nathanael of Chicago I’m afraid. Guess we can hope to get someone from the Elder Ephraim monastdries, but, more than likely it will be someone from the old country, probably like the two guys that were fighting over “something” in Archbishop Elpidophoros’s office

    • “…one of the most beloved hierarchs…”

      Even this accolade is an understatement.

      Bp. Basil is among the few hierarchs who truly grasps the meaning of God’s love, He exudes the love of God in all of its fullness – mercy, grace, lovingkindness, pastoral care, and yes, even loving discipline. His is an uncompromising love in the image of his Lord and Master, always seeking the very best for those in his care in a way that leads them to salvation in Christ.

  17. When Bartholomew sends his Greeks, he’s not sending his best. They’re heretics and homosexuals, and some, I assume, are good people.

  18. Whoops! Looks like NY just lost Cuomo:

    This was the Attorney General’s independent investigation. Letitia James, black female Democrat. Bulletproof.