Greetings from the “New Rome”: Turkey’s PM Erdoğan planning prayers with Islamic leaders in Hagia Sophia

agia-sophia Source: Jihad Watch [Remember this the next time you see something from the Leadership 100/Phanar/79th Street claque calling “Constantinople” “The New Rome.” –Editor]

Rapidly re-Islamizing Turkey has already converted two churches back into mosques. They were converted to mosques at the time of the jihad conquest of the Byzantine Empire, and then made museums by the secular Turkish government. The same thing happened to the Hagia Sophia of Constantinople, once the foremost and grandest church in the entire Christian world. Its reconversion to use as a mosque would be the crowning hallmark of Turkey’s re-Islamization and re-Ottomanization.

“PM Erdoğan planning prayers with Islamic leaders in Hagia Sophia,” Hürriyet Daily News, April 30, 2014 (thanks to Halal Pork Shop):

The prayer at Hagia Sophia may be organized as part of the events held for the week marking Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottomans late May, according to Radikal. DAILY NEWS Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is planning to perform prayers at Istanbul’s historic Hagia Sophia, along with the leaders of other Islamic countries, according to daily Radikal.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is reportedly considering organizing a special prayer in Istanbul’s most illustrious architectural setting ahead of the upcoming presidential elections next August. The move will come amid a wider “reform package” that will contain important steps on several thorny issues, from the opening of the Greek Orthodox Halki Seminary to giving legal status to Alevi cemevis as official places of worship.

The prayer at Hagia Sophia may be organized as part of the events held for the week marking Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottomans late May, according to Radikal. The government, however, remains concerned over the possible reactions that such an event could spark.

Previously, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç publically expressed his hope to see the Hagia Sophia, currently a museum, be converted into a mosque at some point in the future day. The suggestion was strongly condemned by Greece, which described it as an “insult to the religious sensibilities of millions of Christians.”

However, in a possible bid to balance potential controversy, the reform package prepared by the government may also include steps regarding the historic Halki Seminary.

Ankara has reportedly completed is preparations for ensuring the reopening of the Greek Orthodox Seminary of Halki, located on Istanbul’s Heybeliada island.

The government had previously set two preconditions for opening the seminary, calling on Greece to cease appointing state muftis and also to build a mosque in Athens. However, only Erdoğan’s instruction is now said to be needed for the reopening of Halki.

The reforms will also contain a change of approach on cemevis to respond to one of the most significant demands of the Alevis. The government may introduce a debate on legally recognizing Cemevis as worship places, before the anniversary of the Gezi protests in late May.

According to the Radikal report, the AKP also foresees adopting a softer stance over last year’s Gezi protests, “enhancing dialogue” with protest figures “who criticized the government but also reacted against vandalism.”

The government is also said to be gearing up the normalization process with Israel after the deal on compensation over the Marmara raid, with the reassignment of ambassadors from both countries.

The fresh “reform package” comes as increasing numbers of AKP figures voice their opinion that Erdoğan would be the most suitable candidate for presidency, rather than Abdullah Gül, in the August elections.


  1. aixelsyd hcum egroeG? says

    Remind me again please, which of the GOARCH offices is at 37th st?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Oops! That’s what I get for not having my morning coffee. Thanks for the edit.

  2. Nate Trost says

    The push to turn the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque is more or less out of Gulen’s faction, whom at this point Erdoğan hates just about more than anybody, I wouldn’t hold my breath. I don’t think even the mine scandal is going to dislodge Erdoğan, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to put money on it, Turkish politics are going to get even more interesting in the fallout from that.

    This kind of stuff does get covered in respectable geopolitical coverage of internal Turkish political wrangling. For someone who just spent a lot of time beating his breast over supposed anti-Christian bigotry you seem to have a rather huge cognitive blind-spot when it comes to Islam. If someone covered criticisms of Orthodoxy posting through a blog titled “The Lice-Free Monk”, I’m sure we’d never hear the end of it, but a hat tip to “Halal Pork Shop?” Really? What’s next, an analysis of upcoming US municipal elections in major cities from “The Fried Chicken and Watermelon Report?”

    • Monk James says

      No matter what opinions people may have about this proposed event, two facts remain unaddressed here.

      First: Any building in which Muslims pray together — even once — is considered a (turkish) djami, (arabic) masjid, (some other languages) mosque, according to Islam’s shari’a law.

      Second — and perhaps more importantly — Turkey’s theoretically secular government constructed by decree of Mustafa Kemal, Ataturk, in the 1920s, has gradually been modified these last thirty years or so by Islamic fanatics to such an extent that the shari’a law mentioned in the first fact here is likely to be invoked to return the church of God’s Holy Wisdom to muslim service, as it was before Ataturk’s reforms.

      As an aside, it’s doubtful that the christian population of Turkey could maintain, let alone employ Hagia Sophia as an active church in any realistic way.

      Such maintenance would depend on either of two things: the continued status of the building as a secularly supported museum, or the financial support of Christians around the world. But our people are often stingy and short-sighted.

      In any case, it would be a serious mistake to allow Muslims to hold formal prayer in the building — they’d take that to the bank.

      • Christopher William McAvoy says

        Constantinople needs to be reconquered by Orthodox Christians, whatever the cost, this is the only way it will ever be christian again ! It is on the tiny edge of land in mainland Europe, let turkey keep anatolia..

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Who needs it? Who’d want to move there and why?

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          The Turks took it before Columbus sailed the ocean sea, and have held it since. It’s theirs.

          Now, I remember that the Greeks had it for a little while after WWII, but decided that their mighty armies could take back all of Asia Minor. So much for dreams— played out in blood, of course.

          • Isa Almisry says

            “The Turks took it before Columbus sailed the ocean sea, and have held it since. It’s theirs.”
            They took Greece even earlier. The Turkish grip can be pried off.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Excellent point, Isa. However, as a Greek I would say that warfare and bloodshed are not what is called for. Constantinople was the Second Rome, of that we are sure. But it fell. Moscow is the Third Rome, there will be no other.

              What does this mean to me? That until the Lord returns, we Christians have no abiding home in this world. Yes, I love my country, we should all “Fear God and honor the king,” we are called to do that. But not at the expense of creating golden calves of any kind.

              The Lord has planted His Church here in the Western Hemisphere, we will be called to account if we do not grow His Church. Constantinople deserved to fall, I’m afraid that America will likely face the same fate.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              What would be the moral justification to “prying off” the grip of the Turks, who have held Constantinople for over 500 years? Who would do the prying?

              This could be a bad precedent for those of us who live in North America, and own land here!

              • Isa Almisry says

                That isn’t their problem. Who says they need moral justification?

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  It just might work! The walls could be a problem, and the chain boom, but they’ve been overcome before. NATO might cause trouble, though…..

          • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

            Constantinople may be more a memory than a reality in the modern era. I would agree, Tim, that the erstwhile imperial city is obviously a Turkish city and therefore “theirs.” But Aghia Sophia is another matter. For Islamists to re-take the mother church of Byzantium and turn it again, with impunity, into a mosque, whether full or part-time, would constitute a violation of global inter-religious respect and, to use a phrase of leftist provenance, a hate-crime against Christianity. Hands off Agia Sophia, Muslims!

            • Christopher William McAvoy says

              How do you think Agia Sophia will ever be allowed to be a Church again, if Constantinople is not forcible taken over by Greece?

              Most Turks don’t care about global inter-religious respect!! They don’t care about hate crimes. They are moslems and they think they have the true faith and that christians are heretics. And likewise we know they are the true heretics and that we have the true faith. To expect them to return Agia Sophia as a Church would be the same as expecting the Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady in Cordoba, Spain to be restored as a Mosque for Berber immigrants. (This was a request made by them which has already been rejected.)

              If you think my idea of taking back Agia Sophia by force is unrealistic – I think any other idea of a voluntary restoration is equally unrealistic.

              Unless perhaps the Turks gradually convert to Christianity en masse…

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                There is no way to restore Hagia Sophia as a church. I do think that that is the general understanding.

                I’m just thankful it didn’t become a mosque in the 7th century, which was a close-run thing as it was.

              • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                You are arguing, Christopher, against a straw man of your own creation. I said nothing about restoring Aghia Sophia to Orthodox liturgical use. That would, indeed, be a wondrous outcome, but it is quixotic at best. My point is simply that the civilized nations of the world–led perhaps by the USA, NATO, and Russia–ought to pressure Turkey, if necessary, to back away from any attempt to dedicate the mother church of Byzantium to Muslim worship again. Aghia Sophia continuing as a “museum” is the best outcome that we may expect and the minimum on which we must insist.

                • My point is simply that the civilized nations of the world–led perhaps by the USA, NATO, and Russia…

                  Your premise that Russia belongs with the civilized nations is debatable.

                  • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                    I thought I was generous to include the USA and NATO (under their current managements) under the rubric of “civilized.”

                    • You are delusional to think that the U.S.will take any action against Turkey for worshipping in the former church in Istanbul. Nobody cares.

                    • Turkey is a member of NATO, so there goes that hypothesis.

                    • Fr. Alexander,

                      Yes, by Orthodox standards, neither America nor NATO are morally civilized. By the contemporary standards of Western liberalism, well, of course.

                      Two things:

                      1. As to the NATO factor, Putin has successfully prevented the accession of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO for the indefinite future by recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent republics, as well as by the annexation of Crimea. So long as Georgia and the Ukraine, respectively, maintain their claims to these territories, they cannot be admitted to NATO according to its constitution. If some other alleged sovereign occupies part of your territory, you cannot be admitted. This is logical. Were it otherwise, admission to NATO would be tantamount to a declaration of war against the alleged occupier.

                      2. There are quite a lot of Russians in Turkey and the population has been growing. Recently, the ROC made a deal with the Phanar to open Russian Orthodox parishes in Turkey for Russians there, but under the omophorion of Constantinople. Despite the fact that Turkey is a member of NATO, it is an open question whether the other NATO countries would come energetically to its defense if it were attacked, depending on who the attacker was. The naivete of those who assume that treaty obligations will simply, unquestioningly be fulfilled is amusing. History indicates otherwise.

                      None of that means I advocate any military action against Turkey. Given the state of relations between the MP and the Phanar, I seriously doubt the Russian government would do much at all to seriously benefit the Phanar. However, the possibility of Russian influence as to the succession to the “throne of Andrew” is growing. But again, is it really in Russia’s interest for the Phanar to change its ethnocentric orientation? Does it not make more sense for the ROC to simply grow and evangelize and ignore Istanbul?

                      As to the West, it has no incentive to do anything regarding Turkey and Hagia Sophia. The restoration of Hagia Sophia to its former status as a mosque might warrant a line in a presidential address or two, but that’s about it.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Misha, I disagree with your first statement. Even by the standards of contemporary liberalism the West has clearly fallen into the abyss.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  Perhaps Mr. Putin will take care of it, inasmuch as Russia has often said that it is the protector of the Christian peoples of the Turkish dominions.

                  Of course, that was when there were more than a handful of Christian peoples in the Turkish dominions.

                  Anyway, the idea that NATO, etc., would take a position on the use of Hagia Sophia as a mosque, museum, or church is a fantastic notion.

                • M. Woerl says

                  Turkey is one of the “valued allies” of the US. While the US and the Phanar have, indeed, “had their dealings,” the US is not about to infuriate the populace of Turkey over a matter Turkey sees as a strictly “internal affair.”

              • Johann Sebastian says

                I have an idea…let’s ask the Catholics to return the mosque at Cordoba to the Muslims on the condition that the Muslims return Hagia Sophia to us Orthodox.

                There are too many Roman Catholic churches as it is, and it’ll help show how serious the Catholics are about mending their schism from us.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  Before the Pope is approached on the matter– who are these Muslims with whom the deal will be made?

                • Isa Almisry says

                  Naw….they claim that it was a Uniate Cathedral when Mehmet took it. Why would they trade Corboba (which, unlike Constantinople, plays no role in Islam) and give it to us?

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    Correct, Isa. Why indeed? The Christians EXTERMINATED Islam and Judaism from Spain, so there’s not be even a mercenary remnant,, equivalent to phanariotes, to worship at Cordova. Yes, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the New Rome, etc., etc., etc. etc. was mostly definitely Uniate (and partly in a vassal relationship to the Sultan) when the Sultan conquered it, as was the Emperor who got out of there even faster and more completely than MacArthur got out of the Phillipines. At least MacArthur, though, said, ‘I’ll be RI-I-I-I-GHT back!” The Emperor just skeddadled out of the place and was never heard of again. The Sultan rescued the Constantinopolitans and their Patriarch from the Unia, however, the Uniate Patriarch fled to refuge in Italy, and the Sultain ferreted out a monk of unimpeachable Orthodoxy, George Scholarios and commanded the Church to make him a Bishop and then he appointed him as Patriarch, thus, by fiat, restoring (once again) that Patriarchate to Orthodoxy (much as Julian the Apostate restored Orthodoxy to that Patriarchate which had been Arian since the reign of St. Constantine) Who was it that delivered that Patriarchate from Nestorianism of Nestorius of Constantinople? No doubt the Archons revere the memory of the Sultan and of Julian the Apostate for restoring the reputation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate?

      • Pete Lachaise says

        Sorry, James, there is a distinction among Moslems between a “house of prayer” (what the Alevis are demanding be recognized) which is not permanently sacrosanct, and a masjid, which is established, like our consecrated churches, eternally. Nonetheless, depending on who controls the cops and army, a mosque, such as Cordova’s, might be made a church, and vice versa.

        As the sway of kemalist laikism wanes calls for reimposition of Moslem precepts over Haghia Sofya will grow more persuasive to the new generation of Turks.

  3. Monk James says

    Not necessarily.

    We’ll just tell the Phanari what they want to hear, send them no money, and do what is right.

    In America — very different from Europe — we have always required accountability in ways which those people haven’t ever imagined, even, even especially, in The Church.

    This was the ancient way of the first Christians, and it’s long past time that our mutual accountability was restored: laity to clergy, clergy to laity, and all of us to each other with love in Christ.

    • Dear Monk James,

      What do you think of this latest press release?

      8-10 East 79th St. New York, NY 10075-0106
      Tel: (212) 570-3530 Fax: (212) 774-0237
      Web: – Email:

      Contact: PRESS OFFICE
      Stavros Papagermanos

      For Immediate Release

      May 20, 2014


      NEW YORK – On Sunday, May 25, 2014, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis will meet at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to commemorate a meeting in the Holy Land fifty years ago by their revered predecessors, Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI. The historic meeting in 1964 marked the beginning of a new era in the relations between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople, and indirectly between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy as a whole. The significance of that event can only be fully appreciated if placed in the context of a millenium dominated by theological estrangement and mutual mistrust between the two great traditions of the Church.

      EWTN has confirmed that this Catholic Television Network will broadcast LIVE the Ecumenical Celebration at the Holy Sepulchre on Sunday, May 25, featuring commentaries in English, Spanish, German and French.

      The coverage is scheduled to begin on May 25 at 11:55am Eastern Time. The faithful can follow the events on:




      General information on all the ways to access EWTN –

      U.S. Direct to Home Satellite Services – Dish Network Channel 26, Direct TV Channel 370

      Satellite Information on all EWTN feeds around the world

      Web-streams of all EWTN feeds –

      EWTN web streams can also be viewed and heard on the EWTN smart phone app.

      EWTN Channel Finder for U.S. –

      U.S. Radio Affiliates –

      U.S. Satellilte Radio – SiriusXM channel 130

      Shortwave Radio Frequency Guide –

      EWTN page for the Papal Visit to the Holy Land –

      • Monk James says

        Yo (May 20, 2014 at 9:05 pm) says:

        Dear Monk James,

        What do you think of this latest press release? SNIP

        Why should I have an opinion about this?
        All the media hype in the world isn’t going to make it mean anything.

      • M. Woerl says

        What an unceasing propaganda party that was!

    • Pete Lachaise says

      Sorry, James, there is a distinction among Moslems between a “house of prayer” (what the Alevis are demanding be recognized) which is not permanently sacrosanct, and a masjid, which is established, like our consecrated churches, eternally. Nonetheless, depending on who controls the cops and army, a mosque, such as Cordova’s, might be made a church, and vice versa.

      As the sway of kemalist laikism wanes calls for reimposition if Moslem precepts over Haghia Sofya will grow more persuasive to the new generation of Turks.

    • Pere LaChaise says

      Mr. Panos,
      Do all the Ukrainian churches of the EP bear signs facing the street labeling them “Greek Orthodox”? Do the Carpathian eparchy’s?
      No, they do not.
      Florovsky remained a priest of the EP and never joined the Metropolia. I think a majority at Syosset would prefer a threadbare EP omophore to a bullet-proof Russian one.
      More than any other misstep, it was Metr. Jonah’s flirtation with the latter that really cooked his goose there.

  4. A political science professor of mine had a short list of “rules of politics”, things like “dance with who brung ya”, etc. One of them was, “If you sit on your hands, you deserve to get screwed.”

    I see two interesting scenarios evolving, neither of them flatters Western Christianity or Western liberal civilization. The first is that Islam conquers Western Europe through demographic warfare. That may be inevitable.

    The second is that Russia rises again as a truly Orthodox power and leads some portion of Eastern and Central Europe to reimpose a less tolerant Christendom and thus defeat Islam and progressivism on that territory. That is probably less certain than the first scenario. Of course, these are not mutually exclusive and eventually, after our lifetimes of course, the fulfillment of both might lead to another European theomachy.

    As to those who do not embrace traditional Orthodoxy, an interesting tale comes to mind:

    There was once a very gifted Arab general during the time of Muhammad. Initially he fought against the nascent Islamic community. However, in time his forces were overcome and he was surrounded. But the Muslim forces wanted him to serve Islam, not kill him. Emissaries were sent to his camp to try to convince him to convert to Islam.

    Now, the shahada, the Islamic confession, has two parts. The first states, “There is no god except Allah.” Being sympathetic to monotheism in any case, he accepted this proposition immediately. He was given the night to consider the rest. The second part is, “Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger” (“Messenger” being the highest rank of prophet in Islam). The general considered the fact that this one god in whom he believed had sought fit to deliver him into the hands of the followers of Muhammad. Thus, it seemed like the hand of Providence was at work. The next day, he accepted the second part of the shahada.

    I relate this because it matters that you create facts on the ground. Words are almost meaningless except to the extent that they materialize into concrete results. Aspirations about conservative Christianity being able to resurrect itself in Western liberal societies are utterly fanciful. Western liberal society is the antithesis of traditional Orthodoxy, almost as much as communism was. People think that God is with you when you create facts on the ground. In fact, they become skeptical of your religion or philosophy when it shows itself too impotent to do so, and with good reason. In the end, war is not about who is right, but about who is left.

    Of course, how else could it be if God truly is omnipotent and the ultimate Director of history?

    • Isa Almisry says

      by that standard, the Church of the Apostles failed in the first century.

      The General: you talking about King Jabalah ibn al-Ayham of Ghassan? I question if he went over, as the same sources that claim that admit he “returned” to Christianity and went to Anatolia to serve the Empire.

      • It’s been almost two decades since I read the story so I don’t remember but I’m almost positive he wasn’t a king. As to the “Church of the Apostles of the first century,” there is no such thing. It is a snapshot out of the history of the Church which later took over the Roman Empire. Or, to put it another way, said “Church of the Apostles” was no failure. It resulted in the Christian Roman Empire. “Go forth and baptize all nations . . . ” naturally leads to Christian government, if God is with you.


        • Isa Almisry says

          “It resulted in the Christian Roman Empire. “Go forth and baptize all nations . . . ” naturally leads to Christian government, if God is with you.”
          Did it in 1917?
          “My Kingdom is not of this world.” The King so mandated. “Render unto Caesar” and all that.
          I’m all for the symphonia of Church and State. I just don’t predicate Christianity on it.

          • Oh, I’m tired of casting pearls before swine and all of that. Your argument is not with me, it is with the Orthodox monarchs, the Fathers, canon law, etc. 1917 was a real winner of course. The end of Christendom resulted in the bloodiest century, by far, on record, with more Christians martyred in it than in the first three centuries of Christianity combined.

            Good luck with your democracy. I believe the verdict is already in. Abortion, destruction of the traditional family, feminism, etc. Not that they didn’t go on before, but now they are the norm, enshrined in law, by we the people. That is an evil form of government.

            • George Michalopulos says

              The older I get, the more appreciative I am becoming of traditional, hierarchical Christian civilization. The loss of which leads to egalitarianism and ultimately nihilism. The only exception to this rule appears to have been the United States from 1789 til about 1913.

              We functioned under outright aristocratic principles until the 11th and 12th Amendments were passed but even then persons on the public dole couldn’t vote. Thanks to the Senate, the States still ruled (even Lincoln dared not mess with the Senate). The single worst amendment that destroyed the liberties and put us on the road to Executive tyranny was the 17th Amendment, which created the direct election of Senators, thus destroying the sovereignty of the States. From thence passed the national income tax and the creation of the Federal Reserve which enslaved our population to private banking institutions.

              I guess it was inevitable.

              • George,

                In a sense, I will agree with you. The degeneration of a kind of aristocracy into actual democracy does coincide with the beginning of the more extended licentious periods in American history. Of course, since America is the sole exception, and since even it eventually fell into the same trap as other egalitarian, nihilistic political philosophies, perhaps the distinction is academic. It does create a “good ole days” period in American history with which I am sympathetic.

                It is also interesting that when I was young, in grade school, the teachers felt free to read the Bible in class and do explicitly religious Christmas plays. This ended in 1980. We should remember that the Establishment Clause was never meant to apply to the states and that the first instances in which this was done were in the 1940’s as part of an anti-Catholic political strategy.

                • Isa Almisry says

                  I was just watching the movie “Back from Eternity” (1956). In it there is a scene when the little boy is saying his prayers, and everyone joins in saying the “Our Father.” Even the old professor. I thought to myself that even in the seventies, you could find such moments in film even into the ’70s.
                  Now, you would never see it. I remember someone noticing how religion had been scrubbed from the remake of “War of the Worlds.”

                  Egalitarianism means no one can resist what the majority can be convinced of.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          “Go forth and baptize all nations . . . ” naturally leads to Christian government, if God is with you. ”

          I didn’t know that, and I’ve been a Christian and an American for 66 years!

          Or maybe it means that there’ll be “Christian government” when all nations are baptised. That will be a long time hence.

          • “I didn’t know that, and I’ve been a Christian and an American for 66 years! ”

            Then you should read a bit more Christian history. Originally, Christianity spread from the lower classes upward into the higher levels of society and took over the Roman Empire. In Rus’, there were missionaries and converts and finally Prince Vladimir was converted.

            In both cases, the new Christian leadership imposed Christian morality, through autocracy, by law, on their societies. Moreover, Prince Vladimir went so far as to declare that anyone who refused baptism would be an enemy of the state. That is our history as Orthodox. That is why Russia, parts of Ukraine and Belarus are Orthodox to this day (and this represents something close to a majority of all Orthodox on earth).

            Not only that, but a significant part of canon law is predicated on the assumption or the conviction that there is and will be an emperor.

            The notion that the Church just fell asleep for 1800 years and suddenly discovered that democracy is the Christian form of government is ludicrous. It sounds like Mormon Restorationism or Protestant views of the Church falling into heresy upon taking over the state.

            Utter rubbish.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              I don’t think democracy is “the Christian form of government”. Nor do I think that autocracy is. I doubt that there is a Christian “form of government”.

              I do think that a republican form of government is the best form, but I’m not an evangelist for republics, either, and they are unsuited to many societies. My views on forms of government are largely congruent with those expressed in the Federalist Papers. I do think that religious faith in the people is vital to the success of any form of worldly government.

              I am convinced that Orthodoxy does not require one to be a monarchist.

              As far as what you think it “sounds like”, I don’t believe that the Church “fell into heresy when it took over the State”, and I never met a Protestant who did, although I assume there are those who do.

              Protestantism is a product of the medieval Roman Catholic church, and you will recall arose rather a long time after the 4th century.

    • Western liberal society is the antithesis of traditional Orthodoxy, almost as much as communism was

      Just where does this “traditional Orthodoxy” exist? Who, exactly, are the bearers of this civilization?

      • It survives in traditional Orthodox churches – ROCOR, SOC, Athonites, etc. Often they are very open about the fact that they lament the demise of Christendom with the abdication of the Tsar in Feb. 1917 and the ascent of the Provisional Government (which was a center-left democratic institution). The saying goes that for 7 months Russia was the most free country in Europe. Of course, democracy self-destructed there out of stupidity and Lenin “found power laying in the street and simply picked it up”.

        I’m not worried. If the demographics, the devaluation of the currency and sliding into Third World status, as well as the moral degeneracy do not indicate to you the future of Western liberal democracy, then you are suffering from Ostrich Syndrome. I don’t have to persuade anyone. I just have to “sit by the river long enough and the corpse of my enemy will float by” (and old Japanese saying).

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          Or your corpse will float by him! 😉

          • Oh, I’m not worried about it. It’s all in God’s hands. Christ may return first anyway. Also, I was not referring to my own lifetime, but the competing views of civilization. America is slowly sinking into an odd form of bankruptcy where we do not default but just keep printing money, the value of which declines. We have been overextended militarily for a long time and have immense unfunded mandates in our welfare system. Everyone, including BO, has called the situation “unsustainable”. I won’t go into detail on the morality, but feminism and the destruction of the family is directly related to our demographic problems here and in Western Europe.

        • [Traditional Orthodoxy] survives in traditional Orthodox churches – ROCOR, SOC, Athonites, etc.

          Hm… “Traditional Orthodoxy” is a subset of the canonical churches. There are some interesting omissions from your list. The MP, for example. Its history (and present condition) is a bit of an embarassment, isn’t it? Now, as for the Athonites, I wonder whether the those monks who openly defy their hierarchs, or the obedient ones, ought to be considered the traditionalists.

          The Tsar’s reign as the last gasp of Christendom. What an idea!

          • George Michalopulos says

            “Last gasp of Christendom”? Well, I guess halitosis is better than no breath at all. Sometimes you just have to pick your poison. If what we are experiencing today in the West is “civilization” then we’re royally screwed.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Obedience is to the Gospel. (See for example Deacon Athanasius being disobedient to Bishop Arius ca AD 325.)

            • And here I thought you rejected the Reformation. You know, sola scriptura and all that.

              • People are going to think we are the same person.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                I would think that “obedience to the gospel” is a far cry from “sola scriptura”!

                • Other other Matthew says

                  “Obedience is to the gospel” is an aphorism worthy of Martin Luther. It suggests that one can interpret the text of scripture (“the gospel”) as an excuse for defying one’s hierarch. The analogy of Athanasius and Arius is inapt. The EP, despite his shortcomings, is not a heretic.

                  “Obedience to one’s hierarch” is the Orthodox way.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    I’m going to ask a question in all sincerity as I may very well be wrong. Here it is: what would be your response if your bishop started teaching heresy? It’s simple question.

                    • George,

                      This is the reason I have always been sympathetic to both the Athonites and the Old Calendar Greeks. One might believe ones hierarch is a heretic. Ones hierarch might very well espouse heresy. But until one’s hierarch is called on the carpet by his brother bishops, there is a problem. Who’s to say?

                      The Athonites have called Pat. Bartholomew on the carpet several times for uncanonical (or worse) activities. He has done things for which a bishop in the first millenium could easily have been deposed. Yet his brother bishops simply ignore or encourage him.

                      I recall a friend of mine who began in ROCOR but whose wife was Antiochian. They settled on going to a Greek church because she liked to chant. Eventually, they bolted (understandably), however, while he was there, his spiritual advisor in ROCOR told him to remain on the Church calendar at home and for fasting purposes. In the Church Abroad, this is called “walling”.

                      Essentially, the idea is that modernism is tolerated in others but never embraced by traditionalists. Practices from traditionalist churches can be exported to and encouraged in modernist churches, but the reverse is impermissible. It creates a sort of Church within the Church.

                      Give the fact that the hierarchs are not honest enough at the moment to face and announce the fact that we are a collection of different faiths within the Orthodox Church as it now exists, this is the best that can be done in order to preserve Orthodoxy and orthopraxis.

                      I’m sure the day will come when the traditionalists will have had enough, but I would look for the modernists, specifically the Phanar, to make the first move and excommunicate us. Time and demographics are on our side so there is no reason to force the issue. Modernism is internally self destructive and will kill itself off in time. Why be the “bad guy” and be the one to break communion?

                • Amen! Anyway, the Gospel goes beyond what we have in scripture-Scripture is what’s recorded. . . . hmmm I wonder how often that confusion happens . . .??

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    Yes. The Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Much of it is found in Scripture, but it is found also in the Church and Tradition. To speak of the primacy of the Gospel is to speak the language of the Fathers, and has nothing in itself to do with the Reformation at all.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Thank you Tim. Most people seem to forget that the “Gospel” does not refer to texts but to Jesus’ own preachments. The first use was by Jesus Himself when he preached on the Isaiah Scroll in the synagogue. He used the words “I have come to preach the Good News…”

            • anonymus per Scorilo says

              Arius was not a bishop but a priest last time I checked

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              Obedience is ultimately to Christ as King and God. It is a personal matter, not a doctrinal, jurisdictional, confessional, or ideological one. The Person is Himself the perfect principle of our existence, our archê and telos. I know you meant this, but there are better ways to say it.

              By the way, Arius was never a bishop, and St. Athanasius was never subject to him.

              • Other other Matthew says

                “Obedience” is a “personal matter” ? No Protestant could put it better!

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Personal rather than individual or private. Obedience is certainly not a corporate matter is it?

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Just so, Michael. Thank you.

                    The Gospel is the Good News about a Person, Who reveals to us the three Persons of the Trinity and Who is Himself the model, the standard, the archetype for all we are supposed to be as divine humans. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is therefore the One we obey.

                    This is important because even the Orthodox sometimes idolize their doctrines, their traditions, or their identity as the “Orthodox” at the expense of their fidelity to Christ.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Yes, we do may God forgive us. At the same time being called to obedience by a bishop or priest can be a time for great healing.

                      Five years ago my bishop put an obedience on me for something that I knew was the right thing to do but was out side canonical norms. I obeyed and did the best I could to really submit my will to the Church.

                      God blessed me and it was quite good for my soul.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              George, refresh our memories, please. You referred to a “Bishop” Arius. When did Arius, the famous Presbyter of Alexandria, become a bishop and where was his see?
              And in what way, or when, did Deacon Athanasius DISOBEY him? Did Deacon Athanasius serve under him? And why “ca 325?” Are you just winging it again?

              [“See for example Deacon Athanasius being disobedient to Bishop Arius ca AD 325.”]

          • Matthew,

            I had in mind American Orthodoxy. Certainly the MP, the Church of Serbia, etc. would quailify. The communist period was very difficult for the Church of Russia. It seems to have gotten past that difficulty quite nicely. As to the Athonites disobeying their hierarch, their hierarch is an ecumenist who ignores canon law and thinks that boat rides down the Mississippi to fight global warming are more important than, for instance, abortion.

            Also, to the list of traditional churches which preserve traditional Christianity, I would add the Old Calendar Greeks. You might read Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s article on canonicity which, despite his general unpopularity in traditionalist circles, still enjoys respect. He wrote it before the Metropolia reconciled with the MP so it was sort of in a canonical wilderness at the time, which explains his forthrightness regarding Tradition. Later, he did a 180 after the Metropolia became the OCA.

            Finally, the Christendom to which I was referring is the system of symphony between Church and state with a Christian ruler and an established Church. The last major representative of that Orthodox form of civilization was Tsarist Russia.

            • Isa Almisry says

              “Finally, the Christendom to which I was referring is the system of symphony between Church and state with a Christian ruler and an established Church. The last major representative of that Orthodox form of civilization was Tsarist Russia.”
              That would have last been in 1700.

              As for “quite nicely” I wish it were so.

              What article are you speaking of by Fr. Schmemann on canonicity?

        • If the demographics, the devaluation of the currency and sliding into Third World status, as well as the moral degeneracy do not indicate to you the future of Western liberal democracy, then you are suffering from Ostrich Syndrome.

          Misha, you’re a funny one. Have you considered that population decline, the devaluation of the currency, the slide into third world status, and moral degeneracy are evident in Holy Russia? Here you go:

          If the demographics, the devaluation of the currency and sliding into Third World status, as well as the moral degeneracy do not indicate to you the future of Russia, then you are suffering from Ostrich Syndrome.

          • George Michalopulos says

            The trouble with your facile, Frostian understanding of demographics is that you are willingly blind to historical context as well as current events. The problems Russia is facing are real. They are the problems of Western Europe as well. Here’s the kicker: they’re now the problems of the US. And why, when it was so unnecessary? Russia had its pathology forced upon it by the Great War and evil, foreign infiltrators. What’s our excuse? It’s completely self-inflicted.

            • Other other Matthew says

              Now the narrative becomes clearer. Here are the categories:

              BOLSHEVIKS: “evil, foreign infiltrators”

              RUSSIAN PEOPLE: “innocent victims”

              They are mutually exclusive, of course!

              By “our excuse” do you refer to the U.S.A.’s so-called demographic problem? Answer: it doesn’t exist. You may not like it, but the fact is, legal and illegal immigration to the U.S.A. compensates for the low birthrate of native born Americans. The U.S.’s politicians understand this demographic fact although a vocal minority does not. The children of the immigrants are as American as apple pie.

              Millions around the world long to immigrate to the U.S.A. Millions of Russians would like to leave their country.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Would you consider those children of immigrants who are agitating for “Aztlan” to be as “American as apple pie”?

                • Johann Sebastian says

                  That apple pie was eaten long ago or got burnt in the oven, depending on how you look at things. One of the biggest mistakes our parents and grandparents made was to shed their identity in favor of becoming American. Their progeny have become a breed of self-described “white mutts” who have no sense of their heritage or culture, and certainly have no ethnic affinity with the various Anglo-German groups to whom the term should more aptly be applied.

                  There is no turning back from multiculturalism. We have to shed that outmoded notion of the homogeneous American society. The only recourse we have is to go back to our own roots.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    Yes, and this is why I now sprinkle my conversation with such ethnic phrases as: “I say, old chap, hard cheese!” ; “Keep your pecker up”, and the like.

                    And when I’m at church, I just close my eyes and think of England!

                    • Johann Sebastian says

                      Tim R. Mortiss says:
                      May 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm

                      “Keep your pecker up”.

                      …with Viagra

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      No, Johann, the yanks would say “keep a stiff upper lip”. I’m just connecting with my ethnic roots! Cheerio!

                      I’ve never heard of your “Anglo-Germans”, though. Are they mythical beasts like the Jabberwock? Our forpal plades ko snicker snack? Vee Anklo-Chermans– vee haf vays of mekking you speak—- English!

                      Where does one find these “anglo-german groups”?

              • Yes, at most the Bolsheviks/Communist Party had a membership of about 5% of the Soviet people. It was a small gaggle of “infiltrators”, led by V. Lenin, whom the Germans put on a train into Russia in order to destabilize it during WWI. Well it worked, but it did not play out exactly as the Germans would have liked.

                As to America’s demographic problem: The problem here is the drain on social and retirement services of an aging population. While we are not shrinking due to immigration, the ratio of retired to working is so high as to be unsustainable in the long run. It’s an ongoing series of “crises”. Higher birth rates would solve that problem.

                Also, I disagree with your assertion about the children of immigrants being as American as apple pie. While the children do tend to learn English, their identity is forever mixed at best. In a way, that is a compliment. Their culture is stronger than our non-culture.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Given the utilitarian culture of abortion in this country and the anti-family economy a higher birthrate is unlikely. A higher, artificial death rate among the “aging population” is more likely.

                  My current average life expectancy given my current age is 17 years or so. The way things are going, if I need any significant medical care at all, I won’t make it that far.

                • Other other Matthew says

                  If they can’t speak Spanish, they’ll have a tough time getting in.

                  Newsflash: the best and the brightest from around the world want to emigrate to the U.S. Did Sergei Brin have a tough time getting in? Does he speak Spanish?

                  • Johann Sebastian says

                    And just where in article you cited does it suggest that “the best and the brightest” want to move to the U.S.?

                    Of course, when one considers “the average American,” a lot of things could pass for the best and brightest.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Excellent point, JS. It’s been reported for at least a year now that more Americans have renounced their citizenship than at any other time in history. I am fairly confident that those doing so are not losers, layabouts, or otherwise unproductive people. Rather, men and women of substance and creativity.

                • Other other Matthew says

                  While we are not shrinking due to immigration, the ratio of retired to working is so high as to be unsustainable in the long run.

                  What you really mean: “If current levels of taxation (on the one hand) and benefits (on the other) are extended into the future indefinitely, programs like Social Security and Medicare will run out of money.”

                  Regular old politics must and will solve the problem. Taxes will go up and benefits will be reduced. The rest of the world envies the U.S. for “crises” like this!

              • Johann Sebastian says

                Other other Matthew says:
                May 22, 2014 at 6:48 am

                “Millions around the world long to immigrate to the U.S.A.”

                If they can’t speak Spanish, they’ll have a tough time getting in.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              Rather, evil, domestic infiltrators.

            • Pere LaChaise says

              George wrote: “The trouble with your facile, Frostian understanding of demographics is that you are willingly blind to historical context as well as current events. The problems Russia is facing are real. They are the problems of Western Europe as well. Here’s the kicker: they’re now the problems of the US. And why, when it was so unnecessary? Russia had its pathology forced upon it by the Great War and evil, foreign infiltrators. What’s our excuse? It’s completely self-inflicted.”

              Please! You sound like you’ve ingested whatever bug most Russians have that has always caused them to call whatever evil befalls them a ‘foreign influence’  – as though Russia alone remains free of the effects all other societies feel from the Fall of Adam. This is a character flaw tantamount to British Pelagianism, but maybe more pernicious.
              If Russia’s own XX c. leaders were not such genocidal monsters, they wouldn’t be in the demographic slough that now threatens their ultimate collapse. A Russian churchman himself cited this fact recently – that if not for the purges of Lenin & Stalin (admittedly, also the decimation wrought by Hitler) the Russian population would be twice its extant number.
              But how do you continue to posit Russia as paragon when their rate of abortion remains higher than the birth rate? The US has NO such statistic – which demonstrates that despite its flaws, our society has a future (if giving birth counts as a vote) because American women ARE bearing children at a fair rate. Meanwhile Russian women continue to say ‘no’ to the their own families’ future. Sad, but true.

              • George Michalopulos says

                “foreign infiltrators”: Lenin and his ilk who though not technically foreign were in exile. They were inserted into Russia by foreign governments.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  “Not technically foreign”, i.e., not foreign at all. True, the infiltration of Lenin by the Germans is well-known.

                  My point is only to counter that old “outside agitator”, “foreign elements”, “rootless cosmopolitan” strain that was a staple of many a regime, then and now.

                  The overwhelming number of revolutionaries of all stripes in the Russian Empire were home-grown.

                  The really big question has always been: how did they succeed?

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Sorry, but Russia was plugging away quite nicely until Catherine the Great’s enthrallment with the philosphes of France. Then of course once Napoleon was defeated, revolutionary, Rosicrucian, and Masonic winds started laying waste to Russia.

                    In short, I’m not at all impressed by the so-called Enlightenment in the West. The only thing it led to (with an admitted kick-start from the Reformation) was a desacralized, dispirited Europe. We are now in the final, inevitable stages of this wonderful experiment.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Now you are saying that what you meant is that their ideas were foreign? This is not the same as these revolutionaries being “foreigners”.

                      Now, here my longtime Protestant background may be showing: Masons are a supper club that sometimes use funny costumes. Some of them wear fezzes and play calliopes in parades. Most US big cities have large old Masonic temples, that have lots of ballrooms, because back in the 20s and 30s, they had lots of dinners and dances. Old pictures show that they probably had a fine and fun public social life. They barely exist anymore.

                      It is always very interesting to read about Catholics (and evidently Orthodox) talking about the mysterious, conspiratorial “Freemasons”. All Masons ever were were social societies that didn’t seek the Church’s permission to meet. Very scary!

                    • Other other Matthew says

                      Sorry, but Russia was plugging away quite nicely until Catherine the Great’s enthrallment with the philosphes of France. Then of course once Napoleon was defeated, revolutionary, Rosicrucian, and Masonic winds started laying waste to Russia.

                      In short, I’m not at all impressed by the so-called Enlightenment in the West. The only thing it led to (with an admitted kick-start from the Reformation) was a desacralized, dispirited Europe. We are now in the final, inevitable stages of this wonderful experiment.

                      You ought to be thankful for that quintessential Enlightenment value: freedom of expression. It’s what allows you and other commentators on this blog to dispense wacky historical interpretation, conspiracy theories, and pseudo-oracular pronouncements about the “final, inevitable stages” of this, that, and the other thing.

                      In Holy Russia, they have little truck with free speech. You may be aware of the journalists killed there in recent years, especially those who criticize the government. They’re really doing a great job shutting up the gays, too.

                      Enlightenment. Who needs it?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      You really think there was no freedom of expression before the Enlightenment? All those books, speeches, and essays by various Church Fathers, polemicists, philosophers,and writers? (Niccolo Macchiavelli was an atheist as was George Gemistos Plethon.) What was Martin Luther doing on that spring day outside the Cathedral? Walking the dog?

                      Look at another way: you really think we have freedom of expression now? Ask Brendan Eich, Jason Richwine, John Derbyshire, SecState John Kerry, the poor sap who made the Islamic video which Madame Hillary blamed Benghazi on (he’s still in jail btw), Donald Sterling, Marc Cuban, etc.

                    • Nate Trost says

                      Maximos the Confessor: hand chopped off, exiled.

                      Donald Sterling: Compelled by fellow owners to sell the team he bought for $12 million to the highest bidder, which turned out to be $2 billion from another rich white guy.

                      Quality of analogy:

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Apples and oranges. The punishments meted out in previous ages for high crimes and misdemeanors should not be used to glorify our own punitive measures. But I’ll play your game: what religion were the ancient Athenians? And why did they condemn Socrates to death?

                  • Tim,

                    That’s an easy one to answer. The Tsar abdicated on behalf of himself and his son in favor of the Grand Duke Michael. Michael said he would only accept the crown if the Provisional Government agreed to guarantee his safety. They would not.

                    During the summer, there were rumors of an attempt on Petersburg by one of the generals. The Provisional Government actually armed the Bolsheviks in order to help defend the city. The Bolsheviks never gave back the arms, of course. Later they used them to overthrow the PG which was incredulous as to their intentions until it was too late. They simply took over the communications, police and government buildings in Petersburg. Contrary to their own self glorifying cinematic propaganda, the revolution was almost bloodless in Petersburg [“We found power lying in the streets and we merely picked it up”].

                    The Bolsheviks were not even a majority of the leftists or socialists, despite their name. They won the appellation pursuant to an internal dispute on a particular point of Marxist doctrine and kept it for psychological reasons even though they were a minority.

                    Lenin is the reason they succeeded. He was ruthless, disciplined and amoral regarding his goals. By his own admission, he signed the death warrants of over 200,000 people. In the entire reign of Nicholas II, only about 5,000 people were executed, and most of those as a result of the Revolution of 1905.

                    There were three reasons, then, the revolution succeeded: 1) a weak, incompetent Tsar, 2) a weak, incompetent democratic government (the Provisional Government), and 3) Lenin

          • Matthew,

            Yes, I’m hilarious.

            Nonetheless, Russia is not declining into a Third World status but emerging therefrom. This is mostly being done with revenues from gas, but this is a good thing. You use what you have. Kuwait, for instance, used its oil wealth to create an investment economy that would guarantee a good standard of living for its citizens even if the oil dried up tomorrow.

            Also, regarding population, Russia recently reported its first year of (slight) population growth. However, that is not a trend yet and it is still a serious problem.

            The question is trajectory. Even Russian physicians and the Russian government have begun to discourage abortion. Some part of this may be due to the influence of the ROC; however, much of it has to do with the demographic problem. Indidentally, this would not be possible in a “free society” due to notions of individual liberty.

            Regarding morality, the elephant in the room, Russia is doing better than the US by traditional standards. It is hostile toward homosexuality and is more patriarchal than the US, despite its socialist recent past. Church construction and the formation of new monastic communities has occurred at an astonishing rate since Gorbachev’s reign.

            All things in good time. Just keep on doing what you’re doing here in America and everything will take care of itself. I encourage all social-progressives here in America to stay with their current mindset and pursue the domestic policies they think best. If you’re enemy is trying to destroy himself, stay out of his way.

            • Daniel E Fall says

              Hostility toward gays is moral high ground?

              • Michael Bauman says

                Misha said “hostility toward homosexuality” not “gays”.

                Now it would be more consistent if they were also hostile to fornication of all types, greed, slander and envy and the other sins listed in Romans 1. If their is a law against homosexual fornication, there ought to be laws against all forms of fornication, adultery and pornogrphy.

              • Gregory Manning says

                The line reads “It is hostile toward homosexuality…”. not homosexuals. Hate the sin, love the sinner etc., etc.

                • Daniel E Fall says

                  Very few adults even are able to distinguish any difference towards hostility towards homosexuality and hostility towards homosexuals.

                  While you might be able to paint your own lines defending such dribble; it is still just dribble.

                  but nice try…

                  Now, take up the issue with Misha, because he clearly states below, “hostility toward homosexual activity … is the moral high ground”.

                  It isn’t. And if Orthodox Christianity guides my moral compass, then let any priest tell me what you have. I have never heard any mention of hostility in the context of any morality.

                  • Daniel,

                    Reasonable people are able to make the distinction. However, I will go even further just to ruffle your feathers thoroughly. Also, probably “disapproval” would be a more accurate term than “hostility”, although ostracism I think could be considered hostile, though not violent in any sense.

                    Not only is hostility/disapproval/ostracism of homesexual sexual activity the moral high ground, but the attitude cannot but be expressed toward the uncloseted homosexual who shares his deviant, sick predisposition with the rest of the world. We generally express this to those who openly tout other perversions, like the upstanding fellows of NAMBLA. I am unaware of the Fathers making any references to “consenting adults”. Perversion is perversion.

                    Now, if someone who has homosexual inclinations is willing to keep their sickness to themselves, make confession and attempt to live in chastity, then it is no ones business but his and his priests (and God’s). But open expression is fair game, IMHO. It normalizes perversion just as surely as does a “fairness” rally. Of course, I do not advocate violence. But clear disapproval is certainly the moral position, that of the Church, Scripture, Tradition, the Fathers and all decent people.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Misha, once again you start out by telling us what you’re going to do and then muffing it. I’d like to know what the difference is, too, between just ruffling feathers and ruffling them “thoroughly?’ Ostracism would be violent if it involved separating from someone by jumping off a cliff or throwing someone off a cliff. Violence is not always bad, either. One may attack a piece of chocolate cake or a hunk of rib-eye steak with great violence, for example: there’s no sin in it.
                      Finally, Misha, there’s NO ROOM for anything but love on the high ground. Your disapprovals, hostilities, ostracisms, etc., are most definitely NOT high ground in any sense including moral.. I feel that you APPROVE of yourself That’s common in your generation: that’s how you were brought up.

                    • Oh Vladyka, you’re hopeless. Thank Christ you’re retired and not doing any more damage than you can online.

                      Rejecting homosexual sexual activity as filthy, sick and evil is an act of love, as is ostracizing those who choose to engage in it and normalize it. Same for pedophilia, bestiality and incest. These things are soul destroying and sugarcoating that fact is harmful to those who engage in these abominations.

                      Really, Vladyka, anaxios.

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Here’s one of my experiences of “hostility toward homosexuals”:

                    Amidst the blow-up at St. Nicholas Cathedral in DC in 2011, one well-known gay parishioner weighed in on this blog to rail against those of us defending the Church’s teaching on sodomy, accusing us of “unnatural sexual obsessions”; calling us “gossips,” “tittering hens,” and “sinners”; alleging us to be hysterical; complaining of being treated as a “second class citizen”; and declaring “you are so EVIL”

                    But when challenged on this blog and in a later parish council meeting to name one incident in which he had been treated badly by someone at St. Nicholas because he was gay, the man fell silent—both times. Everyone at St. Nicholas had always been kind to him, me included. Colette as well.

                    So it seems some people can tell the difference between homosexuality and homosexuals, and some people can’t. Those who can’t are those who identify so strongly with the sin that to condemn the sin is to condemn them. But who’s fault is that?

                    • Your last paragraph is so sad, you hit it on the head-they identify so strongly with the sin that to condemn the sin is to condemn them. Knowing that is why I can’t feel anger with anyone in such a position, whether it be this sin or another as confusing. But I do get angry with those who keep people in their sin instead of freeing them. Only the truth will set you free.

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      I personally have never met anyone who has turned to the way of repentance as the result of having been humiliated, embarrassed, or scorned. The most direct public confrontation of our Lord – recorded in all the Synoptic Gospels – is with a “rich man” who inquires as to “What must I do to gain eternal life?” The Lord boldly tells him to sell all that he has and come follow, and the narrative ends by stating “he went away grieved: for he had great possessions,” (Mk. 10:22) and noting that the “disciples were quite astonished.” (10:24) But what is missed is St. Mark’s observation in verse 21: “Jesus, having looked upon him [ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ] loved him [ἠγάπησεν αὐτὸν].” And lest they despair that anyone could be saved, the Lord told them, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” (10:27) I believe that this constitutes the sine qua non of “freeing sinners with the truth.” This rich man knew, first and foremost, that the Lord loved him, and I believe that this confrontation lead to his salvation.

                      On the other hand, I always choose my words carefully, and if you are not familiar with Tartuffe; Or, The Hypocrite by Molière, you can download it in a number of formats here. We have far too many of these characters pontificating and “confronting” in their version of “defending the church,” which is nothing more than a projection of humiliation and scorn simply because they do not possess compassion. Sometimes the “truth” drives people away, keeping them in their sin, as well. Jura, mais un peu tard, colette, qu’on ne l’y prendrait plus.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    The fact that you say that Daniel is part of the problem.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    I completely agree with Daniel Fall: this notion of my superior ability to separate homosexuality from homosexuals – keep it to yourself, your priest, and your God – is a completely transparent rationalization for hatred. And by all means, let us refer to this as the “moral high ground,” and by simply stating, “I do not condone violence,” a type of “Wurther Effect” does, in fact, produce violence. Further, let us call upon the most self-righteous, the most arrogant and judgmental Tartuffes to be the apologists to convince us exactly why this is not hatred at all, but rather spiritually “necessary,” as is the use of the word “sodomy” to antagonize. Nice touch.

                    By analogy, I have sat with hundreds of felony sexual offenders, who to a person have employed grooming, coercion, manipulation, and what is referred to as “fear and force” in soliciting their victims. On the one hand, I recall “He who comes to me I will not cast out” (Jn. 6:37) and that God desires “all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” (1Tim 2:4), but on the other, these are some of the most loathsome & despicable human beings I will ever encounter. There are days I could not purchase a grain of compassion. I once listened to an inmate describe to me the circumstances of murdering his best friend for molesting his daughter: cold, calculating, he had him drive to a commercial warehouse district, had him kneel, prayed with him, and shot him four times in the head. He drove directly to the police and turned himself in. His was a horrible, massively tragic decision, but somehow I understood it.

                    My point here? You are either liars or in denial. You probably know what I’m thinking.

                    • Stankovich,

                      Most of your post is nonsense, however, I sympathize with the inmate who killed his daughter’s molester. Unfortunate he had to be punished.

                      I am not more hateful or disingenuous than St. Paul when he wrote regarding homosexual sexual activity. Perhaps you should take it up in prayer with him. Once you come around to his way of thinking, I’m sure he would be a fervent interecessor on your behalf. You seem to see arrogance everywhere except in the mirror.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      It is actually remarkable how seldom St. Paul is mentioned in the discussions on this subject. As Misha remarks, he did write about it.

                      Did he have it wrong, then?

                      Somewhere along the line amongst the Presbys (I know them well!) it no longer would do to read certain passages in Romans in public worship…..

              • Daniel,

                Hostility toward homosexual sexual activity and the normalization thereof is the moral high ground Also, they are pushing forward against abortion and cursing in public and in films (there are lots of exceptions for art and literature to that rule though). These things take time. However, at least they are moving in the right direction. Of course, if your moral compass is guided by something other than Orthodox Christianity . . .




                As to the magnitude of the sin, Christ mentioned weightier and lesser matters of the law and we have sins unto death vs. “not every sin is unto death:” I don’t think you could define greed or envy with sufficient precision to outlaw any except the most serious manifestations of them (theft, murder, etc.).

                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                  Misha, I repeat, LOVE is the only thing on the moral high ground. Take it or leave it.
                  I’m sorry you want to think that you can vaunt this or that as love, but love does NOT vaunt itself. Get it?

                  None of the statements and declarations you reference includes any statement like “WE are on the high ground in this.’ That is left to others, to you, for example, and others who brag about the excellence of their own moral sense as you do.

                  • Vladyka,

                    I have never bragged about “the excellence of [my] own moral sense”. That is a pathological reaction of your own personality to the positing of the Orthodox moral witness. You react by accusing me of Phariseeism. But St. Paul, Moses and a host of saints have said essentially the same thing. I have never claimed to be anything other than the foremost among sinners but moral liberalism’s favorite weapon against frank statements of the truth is to lash out with accusations of arrogance and hypocrisy. This is supposed to mask their own moral turpitude.

                    Again, thank God you are retired and incapable of directly harming souls through your episcopal office.

                  • And how do you act out love? Lying? You know as well as I Misha would act kind, patient, give his time and attention to anyone who struggles with this sin or any other such sin. But he would be honest with the person that this is indeed sin and for his own salvation, instruct him/her to go and sin no more.
                    You fill in the blanks with your own ideas, that see the worst in people. That’s really not a testament of Christ’s love and sacrifice for us. The only good here is to train us so we know how to find the holes in communicating the Gospel to those in need by such responses.

                    Misha, forgive me if I’ve stepped out of line in putting words in your mouth. Just for the record I don’t know who Misha is , but I think he is a good fellow just from his posts.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Collette, you ask, “And how do you act out love?” I confess that this is the first time I’ve heard that expression, acting out love. It’s completely foreign to me and I wonder what it is. ‘Acting out…’
                      I don’t think I see the worst in people. I do know I loathe, despise and am offended by the idea of anyone saying, “I am on the high ground.” If the shoe fits, wear it.

                    • Vladyka,

                      “’I am on the high ground.’ If the shoe fits, wear it.”

                      I never wrote, “I am on the high ground.” I just described what the high ground is. Yet the notion that no one occupies the high ground is moral relativism at its worst and incompatible with the Orthodox faith since we do have a system of morality.


                      Thank you for your kind words. Vladyka is an elderly liberal. In my experience they are quite thoroughly knee-jerk reactionary and incorrigible. I would not take him very seriously since his entire worldview is based on stereotypes created by those who propagate his political philosophy, to which he refers as a higher authority than the Church and its Tradition. He is not going to change that since he believes he is doing the right thing.

                      He is misguided and therefore to be pitied but, retired, he is relatively harmless. As an active bishop I’m sure he was a real piece of work.

                    • Isa Almisry says

                      “Love does not tell anyone, “I am on the moral high ground and you are not.””
                      It does to any addict of any sort. That is, if it loves them. Otherwise, it is just enabling.

                  • Btw, Vladyka,

                    “High ground” refers to an analogy with military tactics. “Occupying the high ground” means occupying the advantageous postion. Those making warfare, or arguments, occupy the high ground. Not abstacts like “love” “Love occupies the high ground.” might be true in a sentimental platitude sense – no argument here. But it says nothing regarding the merits of the discussion. One side or party might occupy the high ground because they are more loving, but that is my point. Love does not tell a person engaging in soul destroying depravity that they are just fine. Love tells them that they are sick, that they need to stop and that they are morally culpable for their actions if not their feelings.

                    You don’t treat a fever by encouraging someone to sit in a sauna.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      “Btw” “Misha.
                      Your are right. “High ground” refers to military tactic. But “moral high ground” does not.

                      I don’t treat a fever through sauna-sitting, but many, many many people do, and have done that for ages of ages.

                      You voice some imaginings of what love does or not does not do. I only add that Love does not tell anyone, “I am on the moral high ground and you are not.”

  5. Michael Bauman says

    The facts on the ground that Christianity creates are the Cross, the martyrs and the saints.

    Stumbling blocks and foolishness only to be spurned by the world and those of the world.

    The fact that all of these lead to the Ressurection is not seen nor heard as the Ressurection is a fable.

    The Church will be quite small, as a mustard seed in the world. God grant me the mercy to be part of her.

    “A seed must fall into the ground…”

    • Yes, well, the “facts on the ground” which I asserted distinguish the Church from, for example, the cult of Mithras in that it gave birth to Christendom while Mithraism was dead by the 5th century. Let’s try and keep things Incarnational, shall we? Temporal power matters. We’re not Baptists.

      • Michael Bauman says

        The quality of mercy is not strained, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: Tis mightiest in the mighty: it becomes the throned monarch better than his crown; His scepter shows the force of temporal power, the attribute to awe and majesty, wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; But mercy is above this scepteted sway; It is enthroned in the heart of kings, It is an attribute of God Himself; And earthly power doth show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice. Therefore Jew, though justice be thy plea, consider this: That in the course of justice, none of us should see salvation. We do pray for mercy and that same prayer doth teach us all to render the deeds of mercy…

        Temporal power is not without importance but nothing is more incarnational than the Cross and the martyrs. We are not Arians after all.

        Proper order is not made by laws, but proper laws come from a rightly ordered society centered on “God is with us”

        No King can rule rightly unless he does so in the shadow of the Cross.

        • “No King can rule rightly unless he does so in the shadow of the Cross.”

          Amen. Now, try to get a democratic government to rule “in the shadow of the Cross”. Having to live under pagan rule is a different matter entirely than choosing to live under pagan rule. He who sits on his hands deserves to get screwed.

          • Michael Bauman says

            We have democracy(over simplification follows) because the Pope decided to be a king and the kings, not to be out done decided to play God. The Turkish Yoke corrupted and isolated we Orthodox, folks got greedy and wanted in on the game so “the people” became king, pope and god ruling all with our minds. Rationalism descended into rule by the passions.

            The spirit of rebellion motivating each step.

            It is that spirit that is the problem, not democracy per se.

            • “It is that spirit that is the problem, not democracy per se.”

              Democracy is the political manifestation of that very spirit. “Vox populi, vox Dei”.

              • Michael Bauman says

                The larger and less homogeneous a population, the more problematic participatory government becomes. The wider the sufferage, the greater the problem.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              Only one or two English kings tried to “play God” (by which I infer you mean rule by “divine right”) They didn’t get very far down the path.

              As for the Pope, he was distant to the island of Great Britain, mostly.

  6. Isa Almisry says

    Btw, the gravestone of a previous EP in the Phanar reads “The Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of America” (emphasis added).

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Isa, the tombstone says neither “Archbishop of America” nor “Patriarch of America.’

      But we should be glad that Archbishop Demetrios never succumbed to vaunting the ludicrous title, “Exarch of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans!”

      • Isa Almisry says

        “Isa, the tombstone says neither “Archbishop of America” nor “Patriarch of America.’”
        I didn’t say it did, Your Grace, now did I?

        I think the sea title can wretched away when the Phanar dismembered the Archdiocese, to keep it in its place.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Oh, Isa, Isa! What DID you mean to say when you printed “of America” in bold face and say “(emphasis added)”?
          I find the sentence beginning ‘I think the see title” to be utterly incomprehensible/

          “Can wretched away? ” What the…..?

          And: The GOA was ‘disMEMBERED?”
          Were you having a nightcap perhaps, when you came out with, “the sea title can wretched away?”

          I call that literally wretched writing.

      • M. Woerl says

        I remember seeing, in reference to the “A&P” title, “even the fishes can’t escape!”

  7. Great – the American Church will fall under one of the most corrupt and crony-driven Churches in the world. It doesn’t get any better than this

    Which Orthodox church, exactly, is entirely ethical and accountable, and therefore worthy of the honor?

    • Johann Sebastian says

      Matthew, which church, Orthodox or otherwise, has an administration that is entirely ethical and accountable, and therefore worthy of the honor? Can you name any organization–religious or otherwise–that doesn’t have some degree of funny business going on?

      From your other posts, you seem to have an axe to grind against Orthodoxy. Spill the beans–are you even Orthodox?

  8. 5am Sunday the 25th of May I left Athens. The bus driver on the way to the airport expounded to us the glories of ancient Greece and the people who brought us democracy and the power of the people voting. Because my knowledge of Greek history is very weak, I just listened. But I did feel like asking about the kings of Greece and why they had them, and how had life been under Muslim rule for 400 years. How had the right to vote survived, been practiced, etc in these times.

    We did enjoy popping into various chapels along our way to stop and light a candle and say a prayer as we wended our way through our days in Greece. I thought it was nice that God was in the midst of our activities and not off in some secluded spot.

    We began our trip in Istanbul, where our guide extolled the glories of Islam in the Blue Mosque and spent much less time in Hagia Sophia and seemed to gloat over taking this building from the Christians. I rather enjoyed the fact that the name has not been changed, and that in spite of everything the Theotokas and her Son shine down on all from on high. Even though it is a museum.

    And these thoughts entered my mind.
    1. That God has won the battle, no matter how grim it looks and it is our job to remain faithful and continue making disciples.

    2. The words that Jesus imparted to the woman at the well concerning worship in Jerusalem. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must do it in spirit and truth. Jesus and the Father seem not so impressed with where we worship but how we worship Him.

    And as far as all the politics of Christianity are concerned, This thought comes to mind, “And Jesus wept.”
    God is interested in whether our hearts belong to Him or have another allegiance. Years ago, my children sang in Episcopal Church choirs and they began every rehearsal with the following words.

    A Prayer for Choristers

    Bless, O Lord, us Thy servants,
    who minister in Thy temple.
    Grant that what we sing with our lips,
    we may believe in our hearts,
    and what we believe in our hearts,
    we may show forth in our lives.
    Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    If we all followed this simple prayer the world would be a better place for all.

  9. Michael Bauman says

    Lina, God indeed cares how we worship Him but a part of that how is the making and maintaining of sacred places whether for corporate worship of private prayers in the home.

    • Michael, I have no problem with maintaining sacred places. However, I was a missionary for several years in a third world country. At times we worshiped God sitting under a tree or in what most of us would call a shack but in reality was someone’s home and we knew that God was present. I have also worshiped God in well maintained and beautiful places and wondered if He was present.

      My experience has been that God is present when our hearts are turned toward Him, and that can be anywhere.
      That to me is the meaning I take from the reply of Jesus to the woman at the well. Photini, I think we call her.
      The Church is composed of people, not buildings. And we people are temples of the Holy Spirit. That is the temple we need to maintain first.

      • Michael Bauman says

        I have just seen too many folks disregard the sacred in the concrete (so to speak). Yes, it is our acts that allow a place to become sacred and holy and our hearts most of all.

        No argument at all, just a slightly different emphasis.

  10. cynthia curran says

    Well, I think the more secular Turkish government was right it should be a museum so Orthodox, Catholic and Protestants and even Muslims can enjoy it. To make it a mosque again would be a shame since some of the beautiful mosaics have been uncovered. Its actually the third version, the first two were destroyed by fire. It should be declared and probably is a UN Historical Building why do Muslims in Turkey prevent the world from seeing it.Maybe we need to pray to St Justinian and Theodora on this.

    • Johann Sebastian says

      I wonder what would happen if a priest went up to the minbar in there, where the altar used to stand, and cried out, “Blessed is the Kingdom, etc., etc.”

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      One can certainly go see it.

      You might call it the third-and-a-half version: the original dome collapsed due to engineering error!

      • cynthia curran says

        That is true, I think an Earthquake caused it to collapsed. It was redesign a little more practical.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        FACTS!!!!!!! Timor! What are THEY doing here?

  11. It is my hope that one day in the not too distant future, Hagia Sophia will be allowed to be used by Orthodox for one day per year for The Divine Liturgy, as a sign of understanding from the islamic world.

  12. Taha al-Moghlawi says

    Reading this thread reminded me of just how divided the Orthodox Church was at the time of Constantinople’s conquest by the Ottomans in 1453…it appears that not much has changed in the last five hundreds years, save for even more division, factionalism, and spiteful “church politics.”

    • Taha,

      You probably get a skewed picture of Orthodoxy by focusing on its American manifestations. Slavic Orthodoxy is largely united and constitutes the majority of the Orthodox on earth. The entire population of the ancient (i.e., Greek and Arab) patriarchates that recently met and tend to walk in lock step (apart from Antioch), amounts to about 10% of Orthodoxy. Then you also have the Romanians (ca. 20 million) and others.

      So really, the arguments here in America amount to little more than a tempest in a teapot on the outskirts of the Orthodox world. The center of Orthodoxy is elsewhere and largely oblivious to what happens here regarding Orthodoxy.

  13. M. Woerl says

    The “others,” no. The loss of its financial base in the US and Australia would be the death knell for the Patriarchate of Antioch. Adherents of the MP and ROCOR (including myself) would rather have our eyes poked out with red hot needles. I don’t believe the Serbs or the Romanians would be extremely “amused” either. There are two “entities” pushing for the Phanar’s interpretation of Canon 28 (Jurisdiction über alles): the Phanar itself, and Rome. Who both also are pushing the Phanar’s drive to become “the Vatican of Orthodoxy,” with all that particular title implies. A rather transparent dual effort pushing for Dual Primacies. The Phanar even recognizes it will be home of “Primate Number Two” after the grand new unia …

    • Isa Almisry says

      “The loss of its financial base in the US and Australia would be the death knell for the Patriarchate of Antioch.”
      Uh, no. Unlike the Phanar, Antioch actually remains a local Church. (Jerusalem has a local Church as well, but the Brotherhood of Tomb-worshippers has dedicated itself to denying its existence).