Good News from the Covid Lockdown?

Today, we are honored to be able to post the following submitted by Archpriest Geoffrey Korz from Ontario, Canada.  Father Geoffrey has a reputation for saying what everyone else is thinking but can’t find the courage to say.  This is one such piece.


Good News from the Covid Lockdown?

We Must Learn Spiritual Lessons – Not Just Smile Silently and Move On

Recently, I traveled to a Church meeting in Canada, at which a major event for Orthodox faithful and clergy was being planned. This major event was to be the first such event since the three-year Covid lockdowns and related measures.

Expecting to find something on the agenda related to the effect of Covid and its impact on the faithful of the Church, I was surprised when I could locate nothing of the kind in the draft notes. As it turned out, I was mistaken and had misread the agenda: during the planned four day event, we were scheduled to receive a thirty minute presentation on the subject, followed by fifteen minutes of questions.

The title of the item was, Good News from the Coronavirus Lockdown.

Good News? Really?

Of course, the lockdowns were anything but good news, especially for Christians, and especially in Canada. Naturally the title was puzzling.

I suggested this important question called for a fulsome conversation at our upcoming event, to discuss the lessons we have learned, and the mistakes which had been made.

I suggested the excellent study and report by the Assembly of Bishops in the United States, How the Pandemic Has Reshaped American Orthodox Christian Churches, might be an ideal starting point for comparisons, since the United States had both states with strict measures and those with more lenient ones (Canada had only strict ones). The study surveyed hundreds of parishes and clergy across the United States, and provided scores of objective insights from which our faithful and clergy could learn.

I suggested that, in light of the fact that the lockdown – lived over years, not weeks or months – was the most traumatic for our faithful in a generation (and possibly, since the Second World War), it would be pastorally unwise to gloss it over, to wave it away as nothing, and to act as if the impact of it was fleeting and spiritually insignificant.

I clearly misread the room.

Most of my Canadian brethren at the meeting wanted to avoid the “negativity” coming out of the Church in the United States, where many American faithful had expressed anger against some bishops and priests as a result of measures taken during the lockdown.

There was a desire not to stir up emotions, which may have calmed down by now. Such a desire is naïve at best – especially at times when the world has been turned upside down, when false news rules the day, when it is as foolish for anyone now as it was for those living at the time of the Prophet Jeremiah to say, Peace, peace; when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14). Too much has happened.

In true Canadian fashion, there was a desire to avoid any “radical” opinions – much as the Canadian government had tried to do in our national capital during the truckers protest of 2022, in that case through arrest and freezing bank accounts.

One person present voiced the audacious view that everything during the Covid lockdown was good. “Everything… was good?” I asked, just to clarify, assuming I had heard him incorrectly.

“Yes – everything was good.”

Apparently he was living in an alternate reality.

During the Covid lockdowns in Canada, I can think of no faithful Orthodox Christian who could have listed anything that was good. On the contrary, the experience tested the faith of everyone – not because of the virus, but because of the lockdowns, and the divisions and distrust between the faithful caused by them.

Yet in hindsight, we remember that all things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28). In light of this, and with the Covid lockdowns in our rearview mirror, let us consider some of the lessons that came out of the oppressive months of the lockdowns:

  1. God revealed parishes that trust in Him, and those that trust in secular science.  A multitude of Orthodox parishes took the unprecedented step of closing their doors during the Covid lockdown, isolating both sick people and the healthy majority from the holy services. None of the Church Fathers saw this, even during plagues, rather, they assembled for the holy services, and prayed that God would deliver His people from death – or save the souls of those who perished. The opposite advice was taken from secular public health “experts” – completely ignoring every precedent from Holy Tradition and the experience of the saints who have governed the Orthodox Church since Apostolic times. Not surprisingly, the news continued to report panic-causing statistics every day. While many parishes flew into masquerade fever over masking during the holy services at the start of the lockdown, the most hysterical continued to insist on these disguises in perpetuity – some doing so even after their bishops had directed an end to the absurd practice. Others stationed sentries to prevent the faithful from venerating icons – in direct contradiction of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. (Presumably, these parishes will not need to celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy and the Triumph of the Holy Icons ever again, since they have declared this an optional practice). When secular science trumps Orthodoxy, weirdness wins. The lockdown shed a light on this faith in so-called “science” over faith in Christ and His Church.
  2. God revealed false friends.  Many Orthodox Christians assumed other faithful and clergy would be there for them in times of need, defending them if they were ever accused of something, or in jeopardy of losing their means of making a living. The Covid litmus test changed all that, and revealed those who cowardly remained silent when times got tough. Even more, the events of the lockdown brought to light those Church leaders who were willing to lend their voices to state propaganda, and to have that state propaganda used in thousands of firings from jobs of Orthodox faithful who would not comply with untested gene therapies. Now we know where such people stand, and this is a good thing, even though it has cost many Orthodox Christians lifelong friendships that were sacrificed to state loyalties and saving public face.
  3. It is good to know which of our clergy are willing to claim medical knowledge about untested medicines, especially when those claims will gain the approval of the authorities – even when those clergy have no expertise at all.  The Church has had these experience before, of course, from the time of the Sadducees who conspired with the Romans, to the more recent Living Church leaders who conspired with the Soviets. When times are easy, the faithful of the Orthodox Church assume no one among them would adopt an ideology foreign to the faith of Christ. When times turn tough, however, divisions in the Church reveal both the enemies of Christ and His faithful, just as the Apostle said they would (1 Corinthians 11:19). This is important to know, especially since such circumstances can and will arise in the future. Such people can publically acknowledge the mistakes they have made, and be reconciled to their brethren in the Church, or silent estrangement can be maintained. Time will tell.
  4. The lockdowns revealed those bishops and clergy who were willing to fight for their Orthodox brethren, and those who would throw them under the bus.  Hundreds – perhaps thousands – of Orthodox Christians in Canada objected to taking the Covid shot because of its connection to the abortion industry. In almost every case, employers used the public statements of a few North American Orthodox bishops and priests to rule against religious exemptions for these faithful employees, and to justify their firing. Such situations were spiritually very good for the faithful, forcing them to draw close to God and His saints, and to the prayers of the faithful – and to reject such apostate bishops and priests, and to leave their churches. The Report of the Assembly of Bishops tells this story in technicolour, as do the annual financial statements of certain Orthodox jurisdictions, who faced financial abandonment by their faithful. While a few hierarchs forbade their priests from writing letters of pastoral support for such faithful in their time of need, scores of other priests wrote hundreds of letters of support, saving the jobs of many faithful at a time those faithful needed it most. If times of division come upon the Church again, as seems likely, one can only imagine these faithful will remember those who were shepherds, and those who were wolves. That is a good thing.
  5. God revealed Orthodox clergy who become papal and heavy-handed under pressure.  The lockdowns saw some governments try to enforce the tracking of movement, as well as limiting or stopping the distribution of the Holy Mysteries. Some jurisdictions even implemented vaccine apartheid in their parishes, banning those without vaccine passports from entering church buildings. In light of the many truths revealed in the aftermath of the lockdowns, such churches might publicly state to their faithful that such moves were an error in judgement, and that taking such unprecedented steps during a period of great testing and pressure marked a sign of human failing. This would be an example of repentance for the faithful, one which might even draw back some who have left the Church. If the report by the Assembly of Bishops in the United States, How the Pandemic Has Reshaped American Orthodox Christian Churches, is correct, however, the faithful who have left are gone for good, along with their donations and their children. The Orthodox Church will grow elsewhere, in places which are spiritually healthy – and in these spiritually dead places, unwilling to speak openly about their mistakes, it will die.
  6. Our college-aged faithful – like other religious young people – also learned which of their leaders stood with them during the lockdowns.  Most schools in Canada expelled those who refused because of conscience to submit to the untested shots, the relative lack of Covid risk to their age group, and because of the demonstrated heart risk to young males. Once again, the statements of certain Orthodox leaders were used by colleges and universities as a grounds to expel such students. In Canada, one court appeal even decided on this basis that such claims were not religious, that they were a “political” statement, placing in jeopardy the capacity for Orthodox Christians and others on campuses to exercise their religious freedoms in the future – a result in part of the careless ramblings of a few approval-seeking false shepherds. These students who lost their academic years were blessed with a formative experience, one that gave them an insight into the kind of bishops and priests one should seek out in the Church – and the ones they should avoid.
  7. God continues to reveal those who make excuses for the explosion of unexplained deaths of young people, and the skyrocketing suicide rates. Active clergy have a unique opportunity to speak with funeral directors, and any honest ones will tell you about the massive increase in deaths since the experimental cure some Orthodox mouthpieces advocated during the lockdown. This advocacy was irresponsible: clergy were not speaking of that which they knew, and even medical “experts” were speculating about experimental treatments, under conditions of public panic. Yet many clergy were also swept away by this panic, and offered endorsements with certainty, where they should have remained silent. Some tried to sidestep the matter, advising their faithful to consult their doctors – while knowing full well the advice the doctors would give. Such “spiritual” advice was fallacious, and marked another example of a time priests and bishops should have at least remained silent, if not sounding words of caution. In some cases, endorsements led to people taking shots which may have led to premature deaths. Having stood over the deceased bodies of such people and watched their loved ones weep over the effects of such ill-advised choices, one can only hope such Church leaders – wildly eager to jump on the trends of government certainties – will now make public repentance for their very foolish endorsements of untested gene therapy “cures”. If they would like to publicly debate the matter, however, I would be happy to escort them to the graves of those who died – graves that speak louder than words to the losses that remain with us.

There is an old saying, if you cannot say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Here in Canada, many people live by such an adage, often to the point of avoiding the truth.

But silence does provide one opportunity, which our Orthodox faith teaches us. Silence provides us the opportunity to pray, to repent, and to reconcile. If it is used responsibly, the silence left to us in the wake of the Covid lockdown can be a time of great lessons for Orthodox Christians, and a time for great reconciliation for those in the Church. Broken friendships can be rebuilt, trust can be rejuvenated, and the integrity of leaders who made mistakes can be rehabilitated – if repentance comes first.

It is the very nature of the Orthodox Church to keep alive memories – especially the most painful ones. The memory of the witness of the martyrs of Christ is kept alive in each feast and service of the Church. The memory of the Death and Resurrection of Christ is revisited each Holy Week and Pascha.

What a loss it would be if the silent aftermath of the Covid lockdown were used to try to forget the sins of a very evil time, to bury sins rather than repenting of them, and to charge unprepared into the future only to repeat them.

– Archpriest Geoffrey Korz is an Orthodox priest in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

The report by the Assembly of Bishops in the United States, How the Pandemic Has Reshaped American Orthodox Christian Churches, can be found under the heading Coronavirus and Orthodox Churches at


  1. Athanasia says

    This was a great article. It made me sad and glad at the same time. It also helped me remind myself that I was not, and am not, nuts for all the push back I gave and crap I received (and continue to receive) from those who shall not be named.

    God save us.

    Axios Father Geoffrey!

    • George Michalopulos says

      AXIOS! Indeed.

      You know, the further back that the whole scandemic recedes in the rearview mirror, the more I could kick myself for buying into some of the crap they peddled out to us.

      Having said that, Fr Geoffrey lays down some serious markers going forward. Thank you Fr for sending this to us.

      We need to talk!

      • “I could kick myself for buying into
        some of the crap they peddled out to us.”

        Polish up your boots, George.
        They will be back shortly
        with more mince…

  2. Alexandrovna says

    Thank you for sharing that. We hope it helps wake up the strangely silent shepherds.

    That silence is exactly what we painfully received and continue to receive from our old OCA church.

    We expected spiritual courage from our shepherds. The closed church doors were shocking and excruciatingly painful. How many of us spent Holy Week 2020 in tears as request upon request for Pascha was rejected – can we at least stand outside the windows, can we receive Holy Communion on the front porch, can the priest bring Holy Communion to our homes, etc.?

    Even the compliant sheep soon exhibited apparent signs of trauma, as they functioned like lifeless zombies following orders – mask on, mask off. Abandoning critical thinking, they donned the masks required for Liturgy OUTDOORS but removed them to picnic closer together on the same lawn. That’s nuts! 100 ice-cream Sunday spoons were bought from Amazon to serve Holy Communion. Lord have mercy on us!!

    The silent shepherds showed no regrets over closing church doors. No reflection on the lasting (some are still afraid!) tragedy of forbidding parishioners from venerating icons. Not even private apologies for mask-shaming children to tears or halting their service in the altar. No public remorse for interrupting hymns during Liturgy to announce “The Bishop wants everyone to wear masks.” No sympathy for those injured by the shot, which was required to serve behind the altar.

    Strange silence.

    Written signs in every bathroom still remain at that parish reminding people like little children to wash their hands with “plenty of soap! for atleast 20 seconds!” The medically trained matushkas like that seemed to find their greatest purpose in life during the crisis but that mentality seriously messed up a bunch of parishioners for life.

    They lost several of the good families during covid, but now that the madness is over, the “rigorous bloggers” are bringing inquirers to their doors. Those new catechumens don’t know that priest failed the covid test. We hope they find good priests in the area before the next crisis.

    Records show the batches in our blue state were much less harmful (if not placebos), so the silent shepherds here didn’t experience those painful consequences. They’ll never admit they were wrong, unless, God forbid, something worse wakes them up.

    • Alexandrovna, your comment reminds of something from almost 20 years ago. It was 2004 and we took a family trip to South Dakota. The 900 mile drive from OK through Missouri and Iowa was totally worth it.

      In Rapid City, we saw a Scandinavian stavkirke, literally a “stave-church”, literally a church built from the staves of a Viking longboat. It was the exact copy of an original in Norway built about 800 years ago from whence most of these immigrants migrated from.

      Once the Norsemen had converted to Christianity, they deconstructed their longboat (which was made from staves) and made it into a church.

      The church itself was an active, Wisconsin Synod Lutheran church and its roof soared 80 ft high. As for it’s footprint, I’d say the nave was perhaps 15′ x 15′. It had a narthex and sanctuary which was separated from the nave by a primitive rood screen (if memory serves). Very Orthodox in its architectural footprint.

      Anyway, it had an enclosed ambulatory going all the way around the church, sanctuary included. However, here’s where it got interesting: to the right of the altar was a window about 2’x2′ which opened up to the ambulatory. The purpose of that window was so lepers could come to church and receive the Eucharist directly from the priest in the altar without having to come into contact with the other worshipers.

      The point being, the people who designed the original Norwegian church some eight centuries ago felt that their Christian faith compelled them to care for the leprous. As for the immigrants, leprosy was not an issue, however in keeping true to their ancestral heritage, they wanted to recreate the original architecture as closely as possible.

      If you ever go to Rapid City, I’d recommend it. Nearby is Deadwood. You can see Wild Bill Hickock’s grave there. Belle Star is right next to him.

  3. If the report by the Assembly of Bishops in the United States, How the Pandemic Has Reshaped American Orthodox Christian Churches, is correct, however, the faithful who have left are gone for good, along with their donations and their children

    It would be interesting to see another report post-covid on the major realignment of American Orthodoxy. I can’t remember the guy who did the survey (Alex something?) but he did the survey mid-covid and it showed a slight decline in some of the jurisdictions, minus GOARCH which has had catastrophic decline, while others grew.

    I imagine that if that survey was done again to reflect how much your parish has grown or shrank in the past 3 years, it would be even more telling.

    ROCOR seems to have grown universally while other jurisdictions were either geographic or parish-by-parish based.

    I know of at least two OCA parishes that have exploded in growth, while an Antiochian parish exponentially shrank.

    The one thing that is annoying is we have not had one Mea Culpa from the AOB bishops for closing down and shutting us out. There are whispers that they would “never do it again” but that doesn’t mean much.

    • I was talking with George about getting some people together to put together a document that outlines what we would expect from the Church if this sort of thing ever happens again. The whole 9 yards up to and including what our stance should be with the pandemic police.

      Frankly, I think the government tells you things to scare you. George and I were out after 2:00 AM after Pascha and the streets were obviously empty. We drove by went by two police cars who saw us and did nothing.

      • George Michalopulos says

        It’s high time we did something. As far as the last 3 years are concerned, what’s done is done. Now we need to go forward & decide what we are going to do and NOT do.

        We need to let our leaders know as well. Put down some markers as it were.

      • I was talking with George about getting some people together to put together a document that outlines what we would expect from the Church if this sort of thing ever happens again

        That would be great.

        As a side note I’m still working on the document I mentioned to you and George a while back. Work has been really busy lately and I’m in the process of moving states so its been hectic lol.

      • As President Bush the Younger said about 20 years ago,

        “There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.'”

        Well, we sort of know what he was trying to say 🙂

        Let’s hope this saying applies to American Orthodox Christians. Once the naïveté is gone, it’s hard to get it back.

    • MATTHEW 23:31 KJV “Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.”

      (A 3 part pictorial and video documentary)
      …sons of those who murdered the Prophets

      Cults of personality in the Russian Orthodox Church

      They have icons of Stalin?

      Frescos of Putin, Stalin to decorate new Russian military temple – GeorgianJournal

      • Nick, there was talk about frescoes of Stalin in the military cathedral. It didn’t happen.

        • If the frescos didn’t happen, how do you explain the communist hammer and sickle on the stained glass?

          Frescos of Putin, Stalin to decorate new Russian military temple – GeorgianJournal

          • George Michalopulos says

            The hammer & sickle are emblems of the state. Like stars & stripes for us.

            Personally, I see nothing wrong with the hammer (representing industrial labor) and the sickle (representing agriculture).

            I remember not all that long ago when the color red stood for communism. Now it stands for America-first/MAGA/conservatism..

          • A fresco of Putin is fine by me, so long as it’s not an icon. As to Stalin, he appears apparently in a background “picture on a wall”. That’s hardly objectionable given his immense role in defending Russia. That does not make it an icon of Stalin.

            The hammer and sickle are nostalgia, not an endorsement of communism. That was the symbol of the state during the Great Patriotic War. They won’t change history like a bunch of woketards.

            Soviet symbolism like the old flag is the part I find problematic in some of the current war effort. But native born Russians have a different experience and attitude than of those in the Church Abroad. To them it is a patriotic reminder that the Soviet Union under Stalin defeated the not zs. It should not be read as a desire to return to communism.

      • Context is all, Nick, context is all.
        I have at home two ikons in which Satan appears.
        In one he tells St Joseph there was no Virgin Birth.
        In the other he tries to dodge St Marina’s hammer.
        Whatever else they may be,
        they are not ‘ikons of Satan’.

        • I’m not sure what you mean,

          Please explain.

          • Let us not forget still living Patriarch Bartholomew deemed holy(?) worthy(?) on an icon with Saint Nicholas at the over budget, igloo shaped Saint Nicholas Shrine in NewYork .


          • There may be frescos in which Lenin or Stalin appear
            or will appear – but in what context do they appear?
            Are they shown as Holy Saints worthy of reverence?
            Or are they dragons over which the Saints triumph?

            Lacking context, who can say what they represent?

          • Antiochene Son says

            There are icons that depict Pontius Pilate, Judas Iscariot, and Satan himself. Being in an icon does not make one a saint. Show an icon with Stalin having a halo (nimbus) and people will agree with you.

            • Yes, I have seen an icon of St. Matrona of Moscow where she appears meeting with Stalin at the beginning of the GPW. She has a halo. Stalin does not. She persuaded him to lighten up on the Church during the war.

  4. “When secular science trumps Orthodoxy, weirdness wins. ”

    Powerful prose, powerful poetry – and true!.

    Thank you Father Geoffrey!

    The entire article is both a sensitive analysis
    and a powerful exposure of priestly impotence,
    of the failure of shepherds to shield their flocks
    from the wolves assailing them with suicide jabs.

    Soon they will be back
    the governators pushing
    terminator shots.

  5. Paul writing to the Romans instructed us. Romans 8:31-39
    New King James Version

    More Than Conquerors

    31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

    “For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]

    37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Is Paul whining? No.

    Each of us is responsible for our own relationship with God. To keep rehashing what the leaders of the Church did or did not do is fruitless. The leaders of the Church are not the entire Church. If we lay people cannot stand on our own two feet we are doomed.

    God gave us an opportunity to trust Him through it all. Did we or didn’t we?

    • Illumined says

      The laity has always played a role in keeping the clergy on track. For example following the attempted reunification after the Council of Florence bishops were chased by angry mobs, pelted with rotten vegetables, and in one case even straight up arrested and thrown in jail. Shut up and obey is Papism, not Orthodoxy.

      • Agree, but they did it with ACTION, not just by rehashing and complaining over and over and over again, as conservatives are wrought to do. My question to everyone here is, if this were to happen again, “WHAT IS THE PLAN OF ACTION????”

  6. Art Samouris says


    Shout it from the rooftops!

  7. The recent synod meeting of the Russian Church has issued some really strong wording against the Phanar:

    The Bishops’ Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church was held in Moscow. The main topic of it was the “declaration of war” on the Phanar. What is it and what will it lead to?
    On July 19, 2023, the Bishops’ Meeting of the Russian Orthodox Church was held at the Holy Trinity Sergius Lavra. Judging by the final document and reports at this Council, the main issue at it was the intensification of the confrontation with the Phanar.

    Why was it necessary to convene the Meeting right now?

    Preparations for the Bishops’ Conference in 2023 were carried out in an atmosphere of secrecy. Its date was confirmed just a few days before the start, and the agenda was announced just before the start of the meeting, on July 19. Based on this, it can be assumed that all decisions were prepared in advance, and the vast majority of the bishops did not have any opportunity to get acquainted with them. This means that the obligatory presence at the Meeting of the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church was necessary only in order to give the final decisions more weight. Looking ahead, let’s say that the main result of the Conference is the “declaration of war” on the Phanar. And this announcement on behalf of two hundred bishops, of course, gave it a scale.

    Confrontation with the Phanar

    The confrontation between the ROC and the Phanar has been going on for a long time. The reasons for it, as well as mutual claims, are known to everyone who is interested in the life of the Church. The UOJ wrote a lot about this, so we will only remind you that in this confrontation, the truth is definitely on the side of the Moscow Patriarchate. We also recall that the ROC broke the Eucharistic unity with the Phanar and the Churches that recognized the OCU.
    After the Phanar legalized Filaret Denisenko and Makariy Maletich together with their followers, Patriarch Kirill stated that the Patriarchate of Constantinople “intruded into our jurisdiction, forgave the schismatics who were anathematized, which means that, identifying himself with the schismatics, he himself became a schismatic.” The Synod of the Phanar did not respond to these statements. From the outside, it seemed that the tough position did not hurt the Phanariots. However, in reality, everything was not like that – they were just waiting for the right moment. And with the beginning of the war between Russia and Ukraine, this moment has come.

    Phanar against the Russian Orthodox Church

    In fact, from the very beginning of the NVO, Patriarch Bartholomew has been consistently criticizing Patriarch Kirill and his position on the war between Russia and Ukraine. Much was said – both insults and threats. Here are some examples:

    1. “I don’t know how he (Patriarch Kirill – Ed.) can justify himself before his conscience. How will he justify himself, how will history judge… Even if it was necessary to sacrifice one’s throne and say to Putin: “Mr. President, I cannot agree with you, I am resigning, I am leaving,” we, the other primates, expected this.”
    2. “What is even more painful for us is that the Moscow Patriarchate has reached the level of subordination to the political ambitions of the Russian Federation, supporting and supposedly blessing this violent invasion and unjustified bloodshed … We have repeatedly condemned aggression and violence, sincerely and fraternally appealing to the Patriarch of Moscow to dissociate his post from political crimes, even if this means leaving the throne.”

    3. “The church and state leadership of Russia cooperated in the crime of aggression and shared responsibility for the crimes that flowed from this, such as the shocking kidnapping of Ukrainian children.”

    But these accusations, although they sounded very painful for Patriarch Kirill, could not serve as a basis for any canonical decisions against him. After all, Bartholomew himself repeatedly supported the military actions of the Turkish government. Therefore, Phanar could not oppose something more serious than the “blessing of war”. Exactly until Patriarch Kirill declared that all sins were forgiven for those who died in the war of Russia against Ukraine. Bartholomew’s reaction was immediate: “He said that all who die in this war will immediately enter the Kingdom of God as martyrs. This is not in line with Orthodox teaching.”

    This statement is an accusation of heresy. And even though it sounded from the lips of Patriarch Bartholomew, and not the Cathedral, it was impossible to ignore it.
    War of the Russian Orthodox Church against the Phanar

    Patriarch Bartholomew and the wave of new “autocephalies” that is now gradually but surely rising (Lithuania, Montenegro, Moldova) had to be opposed not by the opinion of Patriarch Kirill, but by the position of the entire Russian Orthodox Church. What was done at the meeting. And, apparently, it was the theme of the Phanar that was the main one on it. This became clear after the speech of Patriarch Kirill, more than a quarter of whose large-scale report turned out to be devoted to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Phanar is called in it “a tool for the fight against Orthodoxy” and “a tool in the hands of skilled manipulators.” However, no matter how harsh these statements sounded, they were clearly not enough to condemn the Phanar. Therefore, the position of the patriarch had to be reinforced by the report of Metropolitan Hilarion “On the distortion of the Orthodox teaching about the Church in the acts of the hierarchy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the speeches of its representatives”, which he read on behalf of the Synodal Theological Commission. His main points can be summarized as follows.

    1. The Phanar claims the primacy of power over the entire Universal Church.

    2. The Phanar claims to be the highest court of appeal.

    3. The Phanar restores schismatics to the “rank” who did not have canonical ordination or who lost their rank due to deviation into schism.

    4. The Phanar claims the exclusive right to grant autocephaly.

    5. The Phanar claims the exclusive right of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the diaspora.

    The final resolution states that “the participants in the Bishops’ Conference express their agreement with the conclusions” of Metropolitan Hilarion’s report, and “submit it to the Holy Synod for approval.” All the accusations that were made in the speech of the former head of the DECR MP against Phanar were made before. But now, from disparate statements, they are gathered into one whole, and sounded from the lips of the Council, if not full, but still. There is no doubt that their approval by the Synod is only a formality. And, apparently, this can become the foundation for the subsequent accusation of Phanar of heresy. There is no doubt that Phanariots will respond to these accusations. How and in what way – we will see in the near future.
    One thing is certain – the escalation of division in Orthodoxy is gaining momentum.

    This is going to be approved by the Russian synod of bishops and it looks like the ROC is getting ready to formally accuse Bartholomew of heresy.

    It will be interesting to see how the EP responds.

  8. also
    Psalm 146
    King James Version
    146 Praise ye the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.

    2 While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

    3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

    4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

    5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:

    6 Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

    7 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners:

    8 The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous:

    9 The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

    10 The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord.

  9. Anon for today says

    My former parish is a poster child for everything that Fr Geoffrey wrote, except one. Rather than posting “sentries to prevent the faithful from venerating icons”, our priest simply hand wrote “Do not kiss the icons” and put the yellow sticky notes on the icons of Christ and the Theotokos at the front of the church. Those notes remained in place for almost 2 years.

    • Lovely. Church isn’t supposed to imitate a Monty Python skit.

    • Anon, I am shocked to learn your priest put sticky notes on the icons. I am flabbergasted!

      • Anon for today says

        I have a photo I took of them but don’t share out of respect for those who chose to stay, for reasons I don’t fully understand. The sticky notes were the tip of the iceberg – but it matters little at this point. Fr Geoffrey started his comments with a statement that applies to our situation, but would have to be amended slightly: “God revealed parishes that trust in Him, and those that trust in the CDC.” (I changed the last few words.)

        We were told we were irresponsible and disobedient if we challenged the “changes” that were imposed: no kissing icons (as reinforced with the sticky notes), no kissing the cross after Liturgy, no kissing the priest’s hand, masks, 6′ distance, less than a dozen parishioners allowed to attend a service, plastic disposable spoons, confess to him if we were unvaccinated but had been in a grocery store or any other public place, etc. And if we asked reasonable questions or expressed concerns we were told we were conspiracy theorists (his words) and being disobedient to our Bishop (also his words). It put the parishioners in a position where they had to choose: obey and remain silent and be allowed to attend church, or leave. We voted with our feet, which we were told was wrong from an Orthodox perspective. If so, we will deal with that as best we can at our judgement.

        I am sad for those who stayed because it already felt, before we left, as though someone had cast a deep dark cloud over something precious and wonderful.

      • Anonymous II says

        Why in the world didn’t the faithful remove the post-it notes? And ignore him? I thought we have an Ecumenical Council that already resolved this issue. In this sense, a priest who posts sticky notes on icons warning the faithful not to venerate them has no business serving, and a bishop who blesses it similarly. Forgive me.

        • Anon for today says

          in short: look up the characteristics of a cult. I won’t expand or add details out of respect for those who stayed or those who are a little embarrassed they took so long to leave. But it was bad.

        • Literally, I’m aghast. I would have removed them. But then again I’m getting up there in years and I find myself getting more cantankerous.

          What a joke. BTW, may I ask which jurisdiction this was in?

          • Some jurisdictions, as I recall, were instructed to cover them up and remove them from sight.

            • The OCA Diocese of Alaska was instructed to do this by the previous Archbishop, however, I know of parishes that refused to do it thanks be to God.

          • Anon for today says

            OCA, DOS

            • Wow OCA

            • Wow…. interesting how the COVID responses were so across the board — I know OCA DoS parishes where the COVID response was the exact opposite.

              Sadly, even though Christ’s most common command in the Gospels is to “Fear not,” for so many of us “fearing not” is far easier said than done.

              Governments/media did a fantastic job of terrifying everyone during COVID…. it’s not hard to imagine why so many — even Orthodox Christians — would be terrified as well, terrified even of Church.

              The parish response that you describe with the post-it notes and all is a fear response par excellence and could be summarized in words with “we are just so scared of everything right now…. our life is now walking on eggshells.” It’s essentially a complex PTSD response.

              In theory, Orthodox clergy are to be leaders of us faithful as we dance and rejoice in the fiery furnace as the 3 youths did in the book of Daniel — dancing and rejoicing despite the fallen world going up in flames around us. Doesn’t always work out that way though, huh.

              But we are all in this life together – we have to support each other, through the good times and through the tough times.

              It’s very tough being Orthodox Christian when Orthodox Christian leaders disappoint — yet that’s exactly what Christ calls us to do.

              I’ve been taught that every Christian must at some point go through that Christ-like process of being persecuted by the institutional Church — just as Christ was persecuted by His “institutional Church” of the day, the Jewish leaders who were out to get Him. I’ve been taught that this is part of our journey to be with Him.

              It’s one of the beautiful (if you will) paradoxes of Orthodoxy — that every strong Orthodox Christian has at some point also been persecuted by the institutional Church that he loves.

              I need to re-listen to this…. Fr Tom Hopko’s reflection on “When Bishops disappoint”….

              • FTS, your comment was profound. Thank you.

              • Anon for today says

                very wise words, and much appreciated. I believe what I (and my family) struggled the most with, was this part: “…..we have to support each other, through the good times and through the tough times…. being Orthodox Christian when Orthodox Christian leaders disappoint… being persecuted by the institutional Church..”

                If we really felt like we were being persecuted by the institutional church (our Bishop, our Synod, our Metropolitan) – we would have swallowed our “feelings”, stayed, prayed, and put one foot in front of the other.

                It was more a matter of your first comment “…OCA DoS parishes where the COVID response was the exact opposite.“. I spent the day with another parish, a brotherhood picnic kind of thing, and saw a completely different atmosphere. An atmosphere where the priest struggled his very best to serve his flock while standing firm in Orthodox Traditions and traditions, against what the local, state, and federal authorities were attempting to mandate. That’s when I realized – this isn’t the OCA, this isn’t our Bishop, this is a fearful unworthy priest who has a mountain of issues of his own (that we’d known about for a while) that now had come to full bloom. It was not easy, but we decided for our own spiritual health and growth that we needed to get to a parish where, Covid or no Covid, we would be fed, protected, loved, and guided by experienced priests who put the teachings of the fathers above the teachings of Fauci.

                • “ That’s when I realized – this isn’t the OCA, this isn’t our Bishop, this is a fearful unworthy priest who has a mountain of issues of his own (that we’d known about for a while) that now had come to full bloom.”

                  Yep, exactly. Real men deal with their emotional sh!t/baggage (whatever you want to call it) and don’t dump it on everyone else.

                  We’re called to be loving and compassionate, but not to be passive pushovers and just sit there and take emotional or spiritual (or any other kind of) abuse.

                  It’s a very fine line to walk, to be loving/compassionate yet not put up with abuse – especially at the hands of those who are supposed to love and support us. It’s hard. Wish it were taught in kindergarten.

              • Wow…. interesting how the COVID responses were so across the board — I know OCA DoS parishes where the COVID response was the exact opposite.


                That’s why IMHO the only jurisdictions that got it right (for the most part) were ROCOR & Serbians. Everyone else was a mixed bag.

                You had GOA parishes that stayed open (especially the monasteries), while you had Antiochian or OCA parishes that went full 1984.

                • Not quite true about Rocor , it depends on the priest, we had to leave the rocor in North Carolina because only few chanters could attend services but we traveled for Pascha to South Carolina Rocor church in Columbia and where shocked – their church lenten life of 2020 was untouched by covid ! A lot dependents on the priest , two antiochian parishes in our area were very different in covid reaction as well , one serbian parish after Pascha 2020 accepted local parishioners from Greek parishes ,two greek fr Ephraim monasteries , and OCA for many months.

        • I agree with you. I left a GOA church that insisted in taking everyone’s temperature, made us walk on dots, and wear masks. The priest distributed prosforo with plastic gloves. I left.

          Such churches are government controlled.

          • LonelyDn says


          • I switched TO a GOA parish for the exact opposite reason. The Antiochian parish near me went berserk with covid, with even the priests wearing masks and face shields at communion, they also tried introducing multiple spoons but were slapped down.
            Meanwhile the GOA parish was a safe-haven from all of that.

            • This is what I’ve been saying for awhile: that when (or if) a schism happens in the US because of modernism (however defined) it won’t be GOA vs Everybody Else but 1/2 GOA vs the other 1/2 GOA + Mostly Everyone Else.

              Anyway, God bless that GOA priest and his parish for not going along with the ridiculous Monty Pythonesque absurdities that the Antiochian parish was laboring under.

              Ridiculous is not a strong enough word.

            • Curious, Petros.

              Slapped down how?

  10. Hilber Nelson says

    Thank you, Father,
    This article and the comments that followed really resonated with me. I am still troubled by the roaring silence that emanated from Orthodox hierarchs, clergy and laity who instantaneously fell in lemming lockstep compliance with secular Covid mandates, church closures, but also have kept their mouths shut with the mountain of evidence of vaccine injuries and deaths.
    If I may add an eighth spiritual lesson: Never Again! Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us — if we silently comply with Lockdown 2.0.
    As I said in my “Open Letter to Our Shepherds” in (June 2, 2023), whether the Church will be found complacent, complicit or courageous in the face of woke-based assaults on our families and freedoms, depends on courageous shepherds leading the faithful to defend the faith. If the present day silence is any predictor, our Orthodox leaders are likely to lead us to Lockstep 2.0 when Covid 2.0 comes around. Such is the high price we laity pay for fear-based leadership.
    As for having a plan in preparation for the inevitable Lockdown 2.0, I recommend Rod Dreher’s “Live Not By Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents,” and formulating your own small group of prepared faithful followers, as the book suggests, before persecution strikes.

  11. To the general article above,

    The lockdowns and other empty measures were a disgrace, all the more so to the extent they were adopted within the Church. What it showed was the amount of faith, or lack thereof, of the clergy (and laity). After all, it was only the flu.

    The clergy in the US are, by and large, weak cowards. That is the lesson. And this weakness and cowardice will not change since they have made it more than evident that they have no intention of repenting. So what remains?

    The faith.

    The faith cannot be harmed by such things. The entire episcopacy in some jurisdictions may be entirely worthless and lamentably cowed, yet the Orthodox faith remains. Just as modernists may compromise practice and even the faith on many points, nonetheless, the faith remains. It is written in the hearts of a faithful remnant and in the Scriptures and writings of the Fathers. And it cannot be overcome by such things.

    But, if your parish succumbed to such madness, regardless of if it is otherwise impeccably traditionalist, you should consider moving to a more solid spiritual home. These are the type of clergy who could not resist the Living Church. They just go through the motions but faith is only skin deep. So the next storm will find them equally wanting.

  12. Great article! Sadly, the great cathedral here in Japan built by Saint Nicholas of Japan, shut it doors for months at a time and when they did open, had very draconian policies for attendance. Even TODAY, the clergy there are still fully masked at all times during the liturgy.

  13. Jeff, I remember a trip to Tokyo about twenty-five years ago when three of us clergymen were let in to pray at the Nikolaidō. It was impressive, indeed, especially since it is still standing even after the earthquakes and typhoons, not to mention the war. I’m disappointed for you to hear that the authorities of the grand cathedral are still being so cautious vis à vis The Bug.

    Last December, my wife and I attended the liturgy at the cathedral in Nagoya and were put off by the draconian precautions they had in place. A sign under the icon of Christ’s resurrection on the stand in the center of the nave read: “Corona virus warning! Do not kiss but only bow to icons, cross, Gospel book, chalice, and priest. Do not take off your mask. Do not speak. Observe social distancing.”

    It was particularly astonishing to see the comical three-second confessions performed in the nave right before the service. Once priest and penitent were down on their knees, the priest wheeled a plastic screen between himself and the confessee in order to augment the social distancing. The problem was that there was no substance to the little stunt, as in nearly every case, it was conducted in total silence! Both people were just going through the motions. Ironically, despite all of the fuss to avoid transmittal, I came down with The Bug the next day, but I had most likely contracted it on the airplane.

    Any whimsical thoughts of a move back to Nagoya and membership at that Orthodox temple are now out of the question for me. Your observations of the status at the Nikolaidō help to confirm me in that resolution.

    • Petros, this is definitely strong action on the part of the Greek Metropolis of Chicago! Though, kind of disappointed that they made no mention of the EPC going into Ukraine and forming a ‘bastard’ church to disrupt everything. (Well, I guess that beggars can’t be choosers, can we?)

    • George Michalopulos says

      Picking up on what I said yesterday, is it possible that it’s God’s providence that the Charter is not going through? You know, 2025 is just around the corner…

      • I pray that’s the case. The EP charter committee is apparently set to meet again in September and given how things have gone so far on Elpi’s Tour de Disaster I can only imagine that the meeting in September will be overwhelmingly negative.

        I have yet to see anything positive on any of the Metropolis meetings that he has held and he hasn’t even gone to Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, etc., yet.

        The big game changer I really think will be the recent document from the Russian Church. I’m not sure if it has yet to be translated into English, Serbian, etc., but I have to imagine that it will be and that it will be disseminatedromfea
        throughout the Orthodox world, whether that be officially by the Church of Russia or unofficially by lay people/clergy.

    • It also just occurred to me: External threats create internal solidarity.

      Reading through this article (or maybe reading too much into it) makes me think that all the antics that Elpi has done, all the scandals, and now this mess with the charter, is the external threat that has caused the priests/bishops/laity in the GOA to wake up and defend the Faith.

      I know for a fact that many GOA priests, and at least one Metropolitan, have been bombarded by the laity on the problems the EP and Elpi are causing. It’s also clear from the article that they have noticed the drop off since covid.

      Just saying, maybe Elpi is what was needed to awaken people in the GOA.

    • Art Samouris says

      It comes as no surprise that a Metropolitan and his inner circle do not want to relinquish any power to the Archbishop.

      Some valid points are made regarding the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of centralized control of the parishes in our nation.

      I see no signs that parishioners feel that they have a voice in matters in their Metropolis. My sense is that the priests fear the wrath of the Metropolitan and his inner circle. Examples have been made for all to see. It sure is not some idyllic democratic community with no fear of repercussions for voicing an unpopular opinion, although in fairness, things have improved a bit of late.

      The terrible way in which the hierarchy handled the Covid panic at the metropolis and archdiocesan levels did more harm than any are ready to admit, as beautifully illustrated by the recent article from this blog: Good News from the Covid Lockdown?

      In my opinion, the solution to all of these problems is for the hierarchs to fill their hearts with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This will not happen while progressive worldly cares take up so much space.

  14. Fr Nicholas Young says

    Reading this article and the comments reminds me of a rather upsetting fact. Some of the laity, in Canada, were reporting violations of the secular bans on kissing Icons, rules for waring masks and keeping social distance. On the bright side, I served in a parish where the rector refused to wear a mask at the Altar; I agreed with this decision and was happy to serve beside him. (Being a military chaplian I’m always’ visiting’ in any case.) All of this to say that if we are to cast blame, some of the ‘faithful’ as well as clergy are guilty.

  15. DeBanking: The Virus Spreads To Florida

    Chase Shuts Down Bank Accounts of Mercola and Key Employees
    Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola | July 27, 2023

    Story at-a-glance

    July 13, 2023, JP Morgan Chase Bank informed me they are closing all of my business accounts, along with the personal accounts of my CEO, my CFO and their respective spouses and children
    My CEO was informed his young children also will never be allowed to bank with Chase in the future
    No reason for the decision was given, other than there was “unexpected activity” on an unspecified account
    This is what the new social credit system looks like, and what every soul on the planet can expect from the central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) that are being rolled out. Go against the prevailing narrative of the day, and your financial life will be deleted
    It’s difficult enough trying to navigate this hurdle today. Once everything is digitized, cash eradicated and the social credit system completely integrated and automated, this kind of retaliatory action for wrongthink could be a death sentence for some people

    ‘ July 13, 2023, JP Morgan Chase Bank suddenly informed me they are closing all of my business accounts, both banking and investment accounts, along with the personal accounts of my CEO, my CFO and their respective spouses and children.

    No reason for the decision was given, other than there was “unexpected activity” on an unspecified account. The oldest of these accounts has been active for 18 years.

    Politically-Motivated Harassment

    This is what the new social credit system looks like, and what every soul on the planet can expect from the central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) that are being rolled out. Go against the prevailing narrative of the day, and your financial life will be deleted with the push of a button.

    It’s difficult enough trying to navigate this hurdle today. Once everything is digitized, cash eradicated and the social credit system completely integrated and automated, this kind of retaliatory action for wrongthink could be a death sentence for some people.

    My CFO, Amalia Legaspi, whose Chase accounts — including a joint account with her husband — were closed along with mine, is now struggling to figure out how to pay for her husband’s health care in the Philippines. He’s bedridden with dementia and is wholly dependent on her financial support, and she’s not allowed to open another bank account in his name.

    “I have to provide all the legal documentations including notarized physicians’ affidavit from the Philippines to prove that my husband is incapable of handling his finances and request the Federal to directly deposit the pension to my own personal account,” Legaspi told Florida’s Voice.1

    Legaspi’s son’s account — which he’s using to pay for college expenses — was also cancelled. My CEO, Steven Rye, believes his and his wife’s accounts were shut down because of my opinions on COVID-19. He told Florida’s Voice:2

    “I believe they cancelled all of the accounts because of Dr. Mercola’s (our employer) opinions. He has carried a contradictory view throughout the COVID narrative and co-authored the best-selling book ‘The Truth About COVID-19,’ which exposed the likelihood that this virus was engineered in a laboratory funded by the NIH.”

    In May 2023, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation specifically prohibiting financial institutions from denying or canceling services based on political or religious beliefs.3

    Apparently, Chase Bank is bowing to some other “authority,” and perhaps they refuse to cite a specific reason for the cancellation, “for legal reasons,” is because they know they’re acting unlawfully.

    Generational Punishment for Wrongthink

    On top of closing the accounts of Rye and his wife, Rye also was told his young children will not be able to open accounts with Chase Bank.

    “It’s just hard to believe that your family, your wife, your kids can’t have a bank account because of the opinions of your employer and they’ve never done anything wrong. We all have completely clear records,” Rye told Florida’s Voice.4

    In a voicemail reply, a Chase Bank representative told Rye the reason for closing his personal accounts and that of his wife could not be disclosed “for legal reasons.” He was, however, told he could submit paperwork to have their accounts reconsidered. “We are going to try because you’re a good client of our institution,” the representative said.

    While a common suggestion is to “just go with a small bank,” this is not an ideal solution for many companies, as small banks are getting destroyed and won’t get bailouts. Even if a small local bank is FDIC insured, that only covers up to $250,000.00 of total deposits between all accounts. That amount would not cover a single payroll.

    As an online business, you also have requirements for payment gateways and merchant accounts — and cryptocurrency does not have the infrastructure or general acceptance to support most businesses.

    Chase Bank Holds Moral Low Ground

    Mercola Market has more than 150 employees and thousands of vendors that farm, process, manufacture, distribute and manage the logistics of our business. Will the banks go after all of our employees? Will they start closing the accounts of our contractors? Will they go after our customers?

    Again, this is the social credit system in action. Just imagine how easy it will be to control people’s expressions and actions once all currency is digital, centrally controlled and mandated.

    This could happen to anyone. My CFO and CEO are not me. They’re not directly engaged in the dissemination of my views, and their spouses and children most certainly have nothing to do with my business or my views. Yet they’re being “punished” too, merely because they’re related to people who work for me.

    Imagine being retaliated against something your neighbor, your employer, a friend or some distant relative has said or done. That’s our future, unless we all refuse to play along. It’s crucial to reject CBDCs and to do everything in your power to not enter into that system. The life and freedom of your children and grandchildren depend on it. Your actions today will shape the future of your descendants, perhaps in perpetuity.

    In closing, let me remind you that if Chase Bank is trying to stand on some moral high ground, they can’t. While they may think they’re doing the world a favor by debanking so-called “anti-vaxxers,” they had no problem aiding and abetting child sex trafficking efforts by the likes of Jeffrey Epstein. They didn’t cut ties with that notorious pedophile until a few months before his death.5

    A spokesperson for Chase told The Epoch Times6 that “most account closures are done for anti-money laundering or identity verification purposes.” So, the grossly tainted proceeds from Epstein’s disgusting ventures were good enough for JP Morgan Chase, but deposits from a business selling natural health products and organic food is at risk for money laundering and is bad for business. That’s the moral and ethical ground Chase Bank is standing on.

    Sources and References

    1, 2, 4 Florida’s Voice July 25, 2023
    3 Ron DeSantis May 2, 2023
    5 The Washington Post July 25, 2023
    6 The Epoch Times July 26, 2023

    © 1997-2023 Dr. Joseph Mercola. All Rights Reserved.

  16. Pastor Artur Pawlowski – [Facing] 10 Years Imprisonment for “ECO-Terrorism!”

    [Video – 01:02:52]

    ‘ 340 Citations, 120 court cases and 16 arrests … ‘

    This man deserves our prayers