Has Albania Opened a Back-Channel?

And will it allow Constantinople a face-saving way out?

Permit me to explain:

His Beatitude Anastasius, the primate of the autocephalous Church of Albania, has been in contact with both Moscow and Istanbul over the Ukrainian situation and has addressed no fewer than two letters of concern. He has brought moral clarity to this scandal. (Yours truly has already commented on both of Anastasius’ letters, in both blog and vlog format.)

I see no reason to speculate as to his motives, as he has always appeared to be an honest man with no hidden agendas.  He is under no illusions as to the severity of Bartholomew’s intrusion into another patriarchate’s territory. All of the sequelae that have resulted clearly show that Istanbul’s unilateral actions have only made the situation worse, not better.

To be sure, he admits that Constantinople does have the right to grant autocephaly, which no one denies, but his critique of the situation as read in its entirety calls into question the prudence of Bartholomew’s actions, resting as they are on novel ecclesial doctrines. Simply put, his self-understanding of his office is (at this point) beyond papalist in scope. One could scour scholarly works such as Runciman, Norwich, Balsamon, et al and find nothing which comports to these novel doctrines.

Let us put our cards on the table: The fig leaf which His Holiness hides behind –that he is answerable to a Holy Synod–is disingenuous to a fault. Indeed it is laughable and most decidedly self-serving.

In this particular (Ukrainian) situation, Anastasius appears to be an honest broker and for that, we should be thankful. Unfortunately, Bartholomew has taken an aggressive stance in his response to Anastasius’ second letter and it may be the end of the road.  Repentance seems unlikely. In light of this, it remains to be seen whether Anastasius will abide his irenic comments or not.


Ecumenical Patriarch: “The restrained work and order and tradition of Orthodoxy is a rock of immovable”

of archimandrite Romanos Anastasiadis

What have they not understood? What is it that has concealed their intellect and conscience? Why do they hurt both Orthodoxy? Why are they not respecting the limits and institutions that our Fathers have set? Why are they joined by those who want to dishonor the Church and its Holy Tradition and Order?

I have these questions to address to all those who refuse to confess the truth and do so. To His Beatitude Archbishop of Albania, Anastasios, and to others who pretend to be the same or similar to Him, in order to “sink our hands” at such critical and historical moments about the course of our Church.

They have no mitigating effect. There is no excuse to resist reasoning, seriousness, prudence, responsibility towards the Church and its testimony.

They no longer deserve any other special answer. They have been told everything. The alibi of ignorance or ignorance can not be invoked. Their deeds and their reasons stem from selfishness and not from sincere interest in the Church. They do not have the greatness and sacrificial responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarch, nor can they be compared to him in anything … They are small, very few, unable to bear the Cross of the Church, the Cross of Christ. All that concerns them is ‘fame’, ‘image’, ‘viewing of people’. That’s why their works are straw and not gold. Works that will burn the fire of Divine Justice and History will ensnare in oblivion and disobedience.

Therefore, they deserve no other attention or importance. If they want to repent and reunite and stand up to the circumstances, I see the opportunity. It is now welcome. Let us listen to the shocking words that the Ecumenical Patriarch sent to the ordained Deacon Eagle recently on Sunday of Orthodoxy. These reasons are the answer to all the whims and false claims they invoke to put their heads in the sand, not to be able to look at the truth and the debt.

“Dear Undead,

We are aware that at this moment you realize fully how great it is through the honor of becoming a clergyman, even this great Day of Orthodoxy, in the Center of Orthodoxy, and by the hands of the Ecumenical Patriarch, who collectively, as an ethno, Synodal High Priests.

And we are sure that you feel along with his honor and responsibility to become a clergyman of the Holy Christ of the Great Church. You feel both, and honor and responsibility, because you have age and gained greed, even in the field of Normal Law, with which we have never dealt with.

This means that you will always be, during your ecclesiastical course, a supporter of the righteousness and privileges of the Pentecostal Ecumenical Throne, which are very peculiar today, when they are questioned, of course, with purely secular criteria. Against this we proclaim the ordained act and order and tradition of Orthodoxy, which is a rock of immovableness, upon which the waves of ambition and purposefulness are broken, in order to harm the sacred and inviolable predominance of the preached love and ministry of the Church of Constantinople … ”

Extract from the Ecumenical Patriarch’s speech.) Full here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETSx9MzId0M&fbclid=IwAR3R3vgFYl5fYOF4gWHtRUrjvzdIxZC_2UFQNj6lGqldMHzF7xSh5terszY

Archim. Romanos Anastasiadis is the Secretary of the Metropolitan of Rethymnon and Avlopotamos Eugeneos



  1. My God. As I read EP words I AM SHOCKED. This tone and wording is even foreign to the Catholic church since Pope John 23rd.
    I am a mental health professional and wonder if EP is dementing? Could be. Multi infarct type process. This is not the words of an Orthodox hierarch. Even Nikon of Moscow was not claiming powers above and over that of Moscow.
    No this man is no longer Orthodox and he is a bit too Ultra Vatican 1 for Pope Francis.
    Help someone.

    • EP: “They do not have the greatness and sacrificial responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarch, nor can they be compared to him in anything … we proclaim the ordained act and order and tradition of Orthodoxy, which is a rock of immovableness, upon which the waves of ambition and purposefulness are broken, in order to harm the sacred and inviolable predominance of the preached love and ministry of the Church of Constantinople ”

      Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302:

      this one and single Church has one head and not two, – for had she two heads, she would be a monster,- that is, Christ and Christ’s vicar, Peter and Peter’s successor. For the Lord said unto Peter, “Feed my sheep.” “My,” he said speaking generally and not particularly, “these and those,” by which it is to be understood that all the sheep are committed unto him

      if a minor spiritual power deviate from the right path, the lower in rank is judged by its superior; but if the supreme power [the papacy] deviate, it can be judged not by man but by God alone. And so the Apostle testifies, “He which is spiritual judges all things, but he himself is judged by no man.” But this authority, although it be given to a man, and though it be exercised by a man, is not a human but a divine power given by divine word of mouth to Peter and confirmed to Peter and to his successors by Christ himself, whom Peter confessed, even him whom Christ called the Rock. For the Lord said to Peter himself, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth,”

      Furthermore, that every human creature is subject to the Roman pontiff, – this we declare, say, define, and pronounce to be altogether necessary to salvation.

      • Joseph Lipper says


        I want to clarify that this appears to be the quoted opinion of Archim. Romanos Anastasiadis: “They do not have the greatness and sacrificial responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarch, nor can they be compared to him in anything …”

        • Joseph I hope they make you an Archon. You so deserve it. You really are batting for EP, good try,NEXT.
          Where is a Luther when u need one????

          • Gail Sheppard says

            What I admire about Joseph is that he states his opinions in a VERY respectful way. I DO appreciate that.

            • Yes although I often disagree, i admire Joseph’s always polite and clear style. God bless him. If any one deserves to be an Archon he does.

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Nikos and Gail, you are my brother and sister in Christ. May God help us all.

                • Joseph long may u publish here. U never trivial and I know you have a love for the Church over schism. Even though in future blogs we may be horns locked,it will be with respect. Take care.

  2. Gail Sheppard says

    So what constitutes a true “schism?” Has it already occurred?

  3. Yes, Ukraine is the 1204AD moment GALE

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Nikos, what does “the 1204AD moment” mean?

      • 1204 would be the year Constantinople was sacked and lost its glory as the seat of the empire.

        When a true and faithful friend of the CP, as His Beatitude Anastasius clearly is, cannot be heard…


      • I think he means the sacking of Constantinople. Buy in this case, Constantinople has attempted to sack the other Churches.

        • I am not sure what u mean by ‘Constantinople had attempt to sack other churches’? There had been bloody anti -western rioting , against italian traders mostly, but no sacking and desecration of Christian churches by the byzantine state as opposed to any mob action . And no denial of western ecclesiastical titles.

          • Will Harrington says

            Nikos. The verb tense is “has”, not “had”, meaning that the case “in this case” is current, not the situation that occurred in 1204. Does this clear up any confusion?

            Humble former English teacher at your service

            • Thank you. U know I know I make comments re you yanks use of english but every time you show yrselves to be better english grammar experts than the brits and yr spelling, honor and not honour etc. actually older.
              I found this out seeing a statue fo an 18c general in a London Sq, 1768 with honour spelt honor.

          • It was a metaphor, Nikos. By causing chaos in Ukraine, and declaring himself first without equal, he is harming (sacking) the Orthodox world.

      • Yes the yr the crusaders sacked Constantinople installing Latin Patriarch so making clear to Greeks and ro all Orthodox the schism in the Church,let alone their actions.
        Yes the byzantines must take some blame for getting to that point but the sacking of churches and desecration of altars, especially in St Sophia were all acts of the Latin. ( soon to be a mosque again)

        • Merle Contler says

          1204 was the consequence of the Genocide of sixty thousand Catholics at Constantinople in April 1182. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_the_Latins

          • George Michalopulos says

            Merle, I am gratified that you brought up the pogrom against the Latins. One of the things I especially hate about the victimology olympics, is the incessant whining about atrocities perpetrated against one group while never admitting that your group was equally responsible or their own atrocities.

            • Exactly. George and the fact that three byzantine emperor all trying to use crusaders for their ends and promising the earth they never had brought 1204.
              Last Friday here in Veliko Tarnovo was the celebration of the 1185 revolt against as they saw it byzantine tyrany and destruction of first bulgarian patriarchate. Food for thought there.
              Just as we greeks responsible for our disasters from the 1204 to 1453, to 1922 to 1974 and the laatest financial one. TIME TO MAN UP

            • George classic example is slavery. How bigest slavers were the chiefs of the western African Gold coast and Arab Muslim slavers, who all made lots of money. This does not absolve white slavers and cities in Uk as Bristol and Liverpool but shows the falsity of asinine identity victim Politics.
              Again what white privelege against the likes of Chuuka umuuna in Uk Politics, does a White kid from Toxteth, ,Liverpool or Grimsby have?
              Poverty and lack of opportunity affect all equally. This identity stuff is a classic middle class posey load of rubbish.

              • Cekwano Canaploti says

                The Asanti muslims sold their POWs to the west as slaves. Many of them were Christians, hence modern American Negro Spirituality. Must the same, today, Nigerian and other West African Christians are fleeing to USA and re-energizing churches, including the GOA as many Nigerians with Greek undergrad degrees arrive.

          • Tonyr Omab says

            It was also denounced before and after by the Pope

  4. Anastasios is generally highly respected as the reviver of the Albanian church, and before that a missionary in East Africa and a notes scholarship and academic. To conbines pastoral leadership and scholarship, is not given to many.
    He means well and Moscow not without sin, but I fear the good man is not wanting to face the disaster of Bartholomaios in the face.

  5. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find a synopsis from Wikipedia pertaining to the sacking of Constantinople in 1204.

    Sack of Constantinople (1204)


  6. Lekas Zarafloutas says

    Anastas Janullatos of Albania is a saint and a classmate of Demetrios Trakatellis

    • Well do not know about Saint but yes possibly. A good and decent, deep, open minded man whohas taken alot of calumny re Albania where he has accomplished miracles. Εις πολλά έτη Δέσποτα!

  7. Joseph Lipper says

    George, when you say that Patriarch “Bartholomew has taken an aggressive stance in his response to Anastasius’ second letter”, are you specifically referring to this speech addressed to the newly ordained Deacon Eagle on the Sunday of Orthodoxy?

    I must be missing something here, because Sunday of Orthodoxy was March 17, and Archbishop Anastasios second letter, I believe, is written on March 21.

    The comments of Archimandrite Romanos Anastasiadis sound like he is personally frustrated, but these are not the comments of Patriarch Bartholomew.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      RE: “The comments of Archimandrite Romanos Anastasiadis sound like he is personally frustrated, but these are not the comments of Patriarch Bartholomew.”

      Joseph, who is speaking here? What is he saying? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETSx9MzId0M&fbclid=IwAR3R3vgFYl5fYOF4gWHtRUrjvzdIxZC_2UFQNj6lGqldMH

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Gail, the youtube link you provide appears to be Patriarch Bartholomew’s full speech from the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 17. Archimandrite Romanos’ comments are from March 30, and his comments quote an extract of the Patriarch’s full speech to the newly ordained deacon, beginning with:

        “Dear Undead, We are aware that at this moment you realize fully how great it is through the honor of becoming a clergyman, even this great Day of Orthodoxy”.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Joseph, I understand. But to say that the archimandrite is expressing his own frustrations would not be true if he was, in fact, quoting the Patriarch Bartholomew, which is apparently the case.

          • GALE he is quoting the words of Bartholomaios and he is the official spokesman of a bishop of the Greek Church.

            • Well official spokesman of bishop of church of Crete which is i think technically under Phanar. The situation re Greece and its Church may be next on list to be looked at.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            I was getting the impression that people were confusing Archimandrite Romanos’ own comments with the quoted words from the Patriarch’s speech. I hope the distinction is clear.

            Archimandrite Romanos sounds very frustrated by Archbishop Anastasios’ second letter. I still haven’t seen a response from Patriarch Bartholomew.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Joseph, I suspect the 2nd letter from Albania was putting into words what they had discussed with him one on one. It would totally surprise me to learn that a letter like that would be sent in a vacuum. In other words, Patriarch Bartholomew WAS responding on March 17.

              • In any case, we await the CP’s own response to His Beatitude Anastasius. There can only be two sorts of responses.

                1.) Serious and substantive adjustment to the unilateral path he has chosen thus far.
                2.) More of the same condescending (and, to put it bluntly, heretical) nonsense that there is no Church apart from him, that all truth and authority rests in his office, and that his definition of conciliarity is unquestioning submission – all justified by spurious interpretations of history and historical documents.

                We live in troubled, yet highly revealing, times. There is no need to be disturbed, impatient, or deluded into thinking we can ‘help’ control the outcome of these events. Our God is at work, and he doesn’t need our help. He desires only our faithfulness – faith and faithfulness of the kind that His Beatitude admirably models for us.

  8. Francis Frost says

    The ecclesiastical crisis in our Orthodox church is not happening in a vacuum. One must consider the civil and historical context of what is happening. There was no great support for Ukrainian autocephaly until after Russia invaded and occupied Crimea and Donbass. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has a historical and canonical argument for its position. You may disagree with that argument, but it is a coherent argument based on history and precedent The Moscow Patriarchate’s entire argument is that Imperial Russia’s conquests are some how ‘sanctified’ by the passage of time. While the MP ruled the church in Ukraine for 300 years after Russia’s conquests; it is also true, the the EP ruled Ukraine for 700 years prior to that, and never transferred its authority to Moscow. That is not nothing.

    The Moscow Patriarchate unilaterally declared its autocephaly, which was recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch 150 years later after the payment of a substantial sum. The Moscow Patriarchate absorbed the church in Ukraine after the Russian conquest of Ukraine, and that was also belatedly ‘recognized’ as a ‘fait accompli’, although the Ecumenical Patriarchate never ceded its claim to canonical jurisdiction over Ukraine. If the prevailing arrangement was accepted as a concession to reality, why, then is it illegitimate to now recognize the fact that the Russian and Soviet Empires no longer exist, and that the ecclesiastical situation should reflect the current political reality? So far, no-one has actually answered that question.

    Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian government has tried to claw back its prior conquests. Russia has illegally invaded its neighbors 6 times. Some 65,000 ordinary civilians, nearly all of them Orthodox Christians have perished at the hands of the Russian military. There are some 2 million homeless refugees due to the Russia’s occupation of its neighbors’ territory. The Moscow Patriarchate is, itself, complicit in this crime spree. If you want to see how this impacts the ecclesiastical situation, I would direct your attention to PBS’s Nightly News report on the ecclesiastical situation in Ukraine. You can access the video via the Byztex blog.

    What is more, the Moscow Patriarchate’s argument that it is the sole “canonical” jurisdiction is undermined by the fact that the MP has flagrantly and repeated violated the very canons the MP now wants to cite in defense of its claims in Ukraine.

    The MP has occupied 2 entered dioceses of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate; dioceses that were seized though violence; with the murder and expulsion of the legitimate Orthodox clergy. You can read about the martyrdom of the Hieromartyr Andrea Kurashvili, and the Martyr Giorgi Adua on the Mystagogy website. The MP created, funded and staffed the schismatic “Abkhaz Eparchy” on the ruins of the canonical Orthodox diocese of Pichvinta-Tskhum (Abkhazeti). The MP received into its ranks the renegade Archimandrite Visarrion Apliaa , without a canonical release from the Georgian Orthodox Patriarch or Metropolitan Daniel, his diocesan bishop. This same Vissarion Apliaa personally led the Russian military forces who expelled at gunpoint the last canonical clergy and monastics from Gali and Kodori (eastern Abkhazeti) after the 2008 war.

    During the August 2008 war, the Russian bishops Panteleimon of Adyghea and Feofan of Saratov along with other MP clergy accompanied the invasion forces into the canonical territory of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate and publicly “blessed” the weapons and the military forces that carried out deliberate attacks on civilian populations and that destroyed 15 entire towns and villages in occupied Samechablo (South Ossetia) On August 8 2008, the rockets blessed by bishop Feofan were used to attack the Ghvrtaeba Cathedral in Nikazi. On the next day, the Russians and Ossetians looted, desecrated and burned the sanctuary of that ancient house of God. They did not spare even the sacred vessels nor the very Body of Christ on the Holy Table – but incinerated all.

    What does it mean to be “canonical”? Is it a one off “imprimatur” or a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” ? Or is it an ecclesiastical life led in accordance with the Saving Commandments of Christ and the Sacred Canons of the Orthodox church? How can the MP call itself “canonical” after shredding all the canonical norms by its own conduct? Really this “crisis” is not about canonicity – its about power politics. Sadly the MP under Patriarch Kirill has surrendered the Cross of Christ for the sake of Putin’s power vertical. And, of course, none of our Russophile friends have addressed that issue either.

    Despite the shrill propaganda campaign waged by the MP and its proxies here in the West, not one of the autocephalous churches has followed Moscow’s lead to cease commemoration of, or communion with the Ecumenical see. Despite a 2 year effort by Met. Hilarion Alfeyev, the Holy Fathers of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate have steadfastly refused to issue an opinion in accordance Moscow’s claims. Last month Metropolitan Hilarion left behind his blandishments and resorted to open threats; stating the Georgian church would “suffer negative consequences” if the Holy Fathers continued to refuse to accede to Moscow’s demands. Those who are interested can read more about this matter on the Jam-news.net, Interpressnews.ge or Civil.ge web sites (all have English language options).

    We are told that reconciliation cannot be effected without repentance. There is no question, that ROCOR was in schism from most if not all of the canonical churches for many decades. During its time “in exile” the ROCORS bishops created schismatic ‘traditionalist’ jurisdictions on the territories of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church of Greece, the Bulgarian Patriarchate, the Russian Patriarchate, and the Patriarchate of Georgia. Despite these multiple canonical violations, the ROCOR was reconciled to the canonical church without repentance. If ROCOR, which literally invaded the territories of 5 autocephalous canonical churches, can be reconciled without repentance, why then why is reconciliation impossible for the Ukrainians, who have not invaded anyone’s territory? So far, all I see are arguments based on a pharisaical interpretation of process – what Russians like to call a “bumazhnaya dela”

    Metropolitan Anastasios’ call for a council to resolve the current crisis is apt; but even that process would subject to politics and manipulation. During the preliminary planning for the Cretan council, Patriarch Bartholomew promised Patriarch Ilya II that the MP’s uncanonical seizure and occupation of the Georgian dioceses would be placed on the agenda. Later in 2009, Patriarch Bartholomew removed that item from the agenda, claiming there was ‘insufficient time’ to consider it. And that, is the real reason for the Georgians’ refusal to participate in the meeting in Crete. If a future council is convened, then all the territorial disputes between the autocephalous churches must be on the table for adjudication. That is also the stated position of the Antiochian Patriarchate. Of course, neither Moscow nor Constantinople will be willing to accede to that demand, hence the log jam.

    I apologize for posting another ’novel’, but history is not written in sound bites and twitter storms. Facts actually matter.

    A Blessed Fast to all.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      The problem with your argument, Francis, is that how a patriarchate behaves in the world geopolitically, ANY patriarchate, has about as much to do with ecclesiology as a piece of fruit has to do with the fruit bowl it sits in. Even if I were to concede your point with respect to the way you’ve characterized the MP, it does not change two things: (1) Ukraine is in the MP’s territory, as evidenced by their many parishes and monasteries there and (2) Metropolitan Onuphriy is recognized as THE metropolitan of Ukraine across the canonical Church. No bishop can intervene in another bishop’s territory without the approval of that bishop. The CP didn’t have it.

      A patriarchate does not have to correspond to your sensibilities to be legitimate and if the CP had a historical and canonical argument for its position, all of his brother bishops would not be saying otherwise. The Church is not about the musings of one man, Francis. It is about what “seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us” that enables the Church to move in a given direction. When you see a particular patriarch saying, it seems good to ME, you know he’s left the Church.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Francis Frost, this is an excellent post. Especially, thanks for pointing out the actual political reason why Georgia withdrew from Crete. That is, because Patriarch Bartholomew initially promised to address the “MP’s uncanonical seizure and occupation of the Georgian dioceses”, but then shelved that request because there was “insufficent time”. Most likely it was actually shelved as a concession to Moscow, just like the topic of autocephaly was shelved at Moscow’s request, and then Moscow still backed out of Crete the week prior.

      What we see here is a pattern of Constantinople making repeated attempts to work with Moscow, bending over backwards to make concessions for the sake of conciliarity, but to no avail.

      The squabbles that exist between the autocephalous Local Churches make the job of the Ecumenical Patriarch an exceedingly difficult one. Here in America, I’m sure that even if Patriarch Bartholomew attempted to recognize American autocephaly, he would ultimately be shut down by other jurisdictions and bishops who can’t agree or who don’t want it. I believe that’s what actually happened at Ligonier.

      Hopefully this ecclesial mess will ultimately force all the Local Churches towards finally meeting in a real Ecumenical Council.


      • Joseph,

        Although we often disagree, I do respect your point of view.

        Just a couple of thoughts.

        When you write, “The squabbles that exist between the autocephalous Local Churches make the job of the Ecumenical Patriarch an exceedingly difficult one,” I have to ask: What is his job? Is it to make decisions for everyone or even decisions that please everyone?

        I honestly don’t think so, and that is what is really at issue. The Ukrainian mess only served to bring it to the forefront. As long as he assumes this understanding of his office there will be trouble – often (but not always) of his own making.

        One thing we have always agreed upon is this: “Hopefully this ecclesial mess will ultimately force all the Local Churches towards finally meeting in a REAL (emphasis mine) Ecumenical Council.”

        The CP’s self-understanding (true or not) is that only he can call one. All his brothers are calling him to. Will he? And if not, why not? If he is correct he has nothing to fear from the Holy Spirit and the peace and conciliarity that only He can bring to Christ’s Church. And if he is not correct, he will have proven himself the truly humble servant of the Church in the image of Christ who lays down his life for the sheep.

        Not a predetermined pseudo-council decided beforehand through “pre-conciliar documents,” but a REAL face to face council that takes as long as it takes in order to discern “what seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit.” Call me unrealistic, but this is what how our holy Fathers (whose words and actions are otherwise constantly quoted as authoritative evidence to ‘prove’ this or that) behaved under these circumstances in which we find ourselves.

        • Greatly Saddened says

          Brian … so well said and I cannot agree with you more. God bless!

        • Joseph Lipper says


          I don’t think the Moscow Patriarchate actually wants an Ecumenical Council. Maybe they want some other type of council, like Patriarch Kyrill’s 10th anniversary party, but not a real Ecumenical Council.

          Since Moscow has broken communion with the EP, this now precludes Moscow’s participation in an Ecumenical Council. So, it appears to me that Moscow is actually trying to prevent a council with the EP from taking place. Moscow should at least make attempt to restore communion. That would be the first step.

          One of the best criticisms I’ve read about the Council at Crete was from Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, who pointed out this council was generally conceived and operated as a diplomatic council, rather than theological. Perhaps the reason for this being that the serious ecclesial issues regarding autocephaly and territorial disputes couldn’t be addressed without the threat of various Local Churches dropping out. Of course, they dropped out anyways.

          As Francis Frost wrote, ” If a future council is convened, then all the territorial disputes between the autocephalous churches must be on the table for adjudication.” That could be brutal. I honestly don’t think everyone’s ready for that yet. Do you?

          • Joseph,

            When Christians sit down face-to-face, as equals, the tenor of their dialogue improves dramatically, though they may disagree initially.

            If we insist (on either or any side) on living ‘by the law’ (which no one can agree upon at this juncture) there will be no peace. Everyone – and I mean everyone – needs to stop being afraid and have faith in God.

            I can understand and even empathize with your view of Moscow. Truly I can. But sitting down as equals is a prerequisite to conciliarity. Anything else is a non-starter, a denial of Orthodox ecclesiology, and not at all helpful. And yes, I do believe Moscow would attend under such conditions, as no other Church to my knowledge has broken communion with them.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              Brian, we all know there was a face to face meeting between the two Patriarchs at the Phanar last August. That meeting was quite open and honest and clarified their intentions. Yes, it should have been a springboard for further discussion and possible compromise. However, that was not the case. Now Moscow refuses to attend any type of council that includes the EP, that is unless the EP bows down to Moscow and rescinds Ukrainian autocephaly.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                It’s not about “bowing down,” Joseph. The MP was very clear about what was at stake in Ukraine as were the Local Churches. The CP ignored them just like he ignored them when they all met in Moscow in November 2017. Everyone was there except the EP.

                Did you notice that when Russia opened up South-East Asia no one said a word about it being in the CP’s territory? The CP has two options: (1) to call a council to stop the MP, which he won’t do because he will have to revisit Ukraine OR (2) let Russia take over. This is checkmate, Joseph. The CP has succeeded in walking himself off the stage.

                “On 28 December 2018, in response to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s actions in Ukraine, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to create ‘a Patriarchal Exarchate in Western Europe with the center in Paris’, as well as ‘a Patriarchal Exarchate in South-East Asia [PESEA] with the center in Singapore.’ The ‘sphere of pastoral responsibility’ of the PESEA is Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, the Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand. Archbishop Sergius (Chashin), was appointed as primate of the newly created PESEA, with the title ‘of Singapore and South-East Asia.’ On the same day, in an interview with Russia-24 channel, Metropolitan Hilarion, spokesman of the ROC, declared the ROC ‘will now act as if they [Constantinople] do not exist at all because our purpose is missionary, our task is to educate, we are creating these structures for ministerial care about our flock, there can be no such deterring factors here’, and that the ROC will take charge of the Orthodox faithfuls of its diaspora instead of the Eumenical Patriarchate.”


              • “Yes, it should have been a springboard for further discussion and possible compromise. However, that was not the case.”

                Indeed. The MP did nothing, and that is, perhaps, worthy of criticism. And what did the CP do? He told him I am going to do ‘this’ with or without you. Respectfully, Joseph (and I mean that sincerely), you are far more reasonable than the one you defend.

                “Now Moscow refuses to attend any type of council that includes the EP, that is unless the EP bows down to Moscow and rescinds Ukrainian autocephaly.”

                How do you know this? Has one been called? WILL one be called by the one whose self-understanding is that he alone can do so? And if not, why not? If and when a REAL Council without artificial preconditions and severely limited agendas is called we will know that the CP is willing to submit his claims of supreme primacy to the scrutiny of the Church. Then – and perhaps only then – can we know with certainty whether the MP is similarly willing to submit to the Church.

                And please don’t reply that “The CP did call a council (in Crete), and the MP refused to show up.” Lots of Churches refused to show up. And why? Because the CP refused to allow the items important to these Churches to be placed on ‘his’ agenda, and he also refused even to allow for much of any substantive discussion or modification of the ‘pre-conciliar’ documents. A ‘council’ that is predetermined both in agenda and outcome makes a mockery of the councils of our Fathers who had faith in God and entrusted the outcome to Him.

                As to “face-to-face,” perhaps I should have made it clearer that I was speaking of an ecumenical council in which all are accountable to ALL for the truthful and Christian manner of their discourse, cooperation, and submission to the will of the Church catholic, including Moscow…and the CP.

                • Joseph Lipper says


                  I’m referring specifically to this quote from the recent statement of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate):

                  “We believe that the Patriarchate of Constantinople and personally Patriarch Bartholomew must admit their mistake and start working on correcting it. A way of rectifying their mistake could be to rescind the granting of the Tomos, call for the schismatics to repent of their sin of schism and convene a Pan-Orthodox Assembly in order to facilitate a conciliar decision which may help resolve the Ukrainian ecclesiastical question.” http://orthochristian.com/120377.html

                  It seems clear to me that the UOC-MP is making a reversal of the OCU’s autocephaly a prerequisite for a Pan-Orthodox Assembly. In other words, do what we say, or we’re not even going to talk with you.

                  While it’s perfectly understandable that the Moscow Patriarchate neither recognizes nor accepts communion with the OCU, this doesn’t neccesitate the break in communion with the EP. As far as I know, none of the other Local Churches recognize the OCU or accept communion with them, and yet … they all still maintain communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch.

                  Furthermore, Moscow’s break in communion with the EP has been largely criticized by the other Local Churches. It would then be a sign of good faith for the sake of conciliarity if Moscow were to heed this criticism and attempt to restore communion with the EP. That would probably be the first step towards a conciliar resolution.

                  • Joseph you say
                    ” In other words, do what we say, or we’re not even going to talk with you”
                    Do not forget this is the reaction to B’s virtual words:
                    “This what I say and you shall do it, because I say so!”

                    I appreciate that B has driven the whole logic to his own paradigm:
                    He wants to be the one un-equal (in the East).
                    To appreciate the matter, you ‘ll have to read the Rudder carefully.
                    Understand both the Rule AND the spirit.
                    You will then understand that he has the same power like any other Bishop! Please read this: https://www.monomakhos.com/biden-and-ware-on-ukraine/#comment-134269

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Ioannis, the head of any autocephalous church has special priviledges and perogatives. He is, in that sense, an unequal. For example, stavropegial institutions under the Primate may exist in other diocese belonging to his brother bishops. Also, the Primate has priviledges of consecrating chrism and dealing externally with other Local Churches and with secular and/or other religious institutions. In disputed matters, he is also the final arbiter among the dioceses he has primacy over. This is headship, and the headship of the Primate makes him an unequal.

                      The equality of the Primate with his other brother bishops comes when a synod is convened and a synodal decision is made. He has one vote in decisions, just like his bother bishops.

                      Likewise, the Ecumenical Patriarch, being the head of the Local Churches, has special perogatives and priviledges. In that sense, he is unequal. However, in conciliar or synodal decisions, he has one vote just like the others. In that sense he is equal.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Joseph, he is the head of a Local Church (singular). He is not the head of Local Churches (plural).

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Gail, the Ecumenical Patriarch is not only head of a Local Churches’ synod, but he also has headship over the synod of Local Churches.

                      Of course, right now he’s not recognized as the head of any Church by the Moscow Patriarchate, so they would disagree with you also.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      I know he thinks he does, Joseph, but I seriously doubt all the Local Churches are going to be OK with continuing the status quo without Russia, whom they see as the canonical Church. At Crete, more stood with Russia than the EP.

                    • Joseph Lipper: “the Ecumenical Patriarch is not only head of a Local Churches’ synod, but he also has headship over the synod of Local Churches.”

                      Out of politeness, I will not comment.

                  • Jospeh Lipper: “In other words, do what we say, or we’re not even going to talk with you.”

                    Why, they will talk with him. But not about giving up on principles of Orthodoxy.

                  • “A way of rectifying their mistake could be to rescind the granting of the Tomos, call for the schismatics to repent of their sin of schism AND convene a Pan-Orthodox Assembly in order to facilitate a conciliar decision which may help resolve the Ukrainian ecclesiastical question.”

                    I read nothing here that indicates conditional participation on the part of the MP. What I read is that the MP is willing to submit this question to a conciliar decision.

                    Does anyone suppose that the MP would want this question submitted to a council while refusing to take part in it themselves and thereby have their views go unheard?

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Brian, if the Ecumenical Patriarch called a council, that council would now include the newly autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Would Russia attend?

                    • I suspect not. Nor, I suspect, would many other Churches.

                      I have a better question for you. If the other Churches together agreed to call a council, would the CP attend?

                      This stupid game can be played both ways…and in time it just might be. Face it. He doesn’t want to held accountable for his claims of supreme primacy and will do everything possible, including prolonging the chaos in order to avoid it. As long as this continues, the other Churches will ever-increasingly ignore him – and rightly so. It is sad, too, because every Church heretofore (and even now) acknowledged the RIGHTFUL dignities of his office.

    • As I have said before, the MP recognizes both Abkhazia and South Ossetia to be the canonical territory of the Georgian Orthodox Church. This policy has been the same for years.





      The breakaway Abkhaz have been trying to go under the EP, because the MP will not recognize them.

      Note, too, that the MP continues to recognize Crimea as part of the UOC.

      Finally, the historic Kiev Metropolitanate, to which appeal is being made, is not the same thing as modern-day Ukraine. One cannot say that the “EP ruled Ukraine.” This is a big part of the problem.

      • Yes the Phanar is using as usual ‘ retro’ history There was no such country as Ukraine in 17th c. There was a Orthodox people under Catholic Polish attack who of course could only be defended with the support of Moscow, not Constantinople, which to be fair Constantinople understanding at time and why they gave up oversight .
        However you come at it, and what ever faults Moscow might have, you cannot escaped that Phanar has acted in a papal way and is arguing papal powers based on a non existing empire and continued Fantasy world. Moscow view is the real world as is and Orthodox ecclesiology.

  9. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today on the Orthodox Christianity website.

    On the Ukrainian Ecclesiastical Question.
    Second Reply
    Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana
    Orthodox Albania


    • I read this letter of Athanasios and was very moved. What ever the criticism that can be leveled at him for saying he will remain a critical voice within the Phanar so to speak, he does one great service to us all. He return the issue away from Politics where bartholomaios has put it, back to Orthodox ecclesiology and sacramental theology and grace, all of which are lacking in the so called new autocephaly granted to schismatics and self ordained non Orthodox.
      The actions of Bartholomaios are even worse than we see at first glance. He has made a mockery of Orthodox church and sacramental raison d’ etre. GOD HELP US.

  10. “What we see here is a pattern of Constantinople making repeated attempts to work with Moscow, bending over backwards to make concessions for the sake of conciliarity, but to no avail.”

    This statement is only true in an alternate universe.

  11. I am certainly not on the side of the EP in this dispute, but if one listens to his speech, which is in old Greek, one sees the translation is inaccurate.

    Just two examples:: “Dear Undead” is supposed to be the translation of Αγαπητέ Υποδιάκονε (Beloved Sub-deacon)(!).

    “Normal Law, with which we have never dealt with.”
    Should read “and indeed in the feld of Canon Law, with which we too once dealt” (και μάλιστα εις τον χώρον του κανονικού δικαίου, με τον οποίον και ημείς ησχολήθημεν ποτέ).

    There are more such but there’s no time. If the translation is from Fr. RA, who is fervently pro-EP, then he’s not helping his cause much.

    • The translation is from Google. Someone just cut and pasted it without any knowledge of Greek. My Greek isn’t that good, but what I could make out from the Deacon’s reply is this
      “During this period, His Holiness ordained the subdeacon Dimitrios Nikiforos, legal and theologian, to the degree of the deacon, giving him the name Aetius. …,”

      In the new clergy’s reply he assured his complete dedication to the Mother Church.
      “I am called to become, “A freeman and a servant of the holy tradition of the” beginning and suffocation “of the Great Church joining today in the Patriarchal Court. … I assure you that the MAIN PURPOSE OF MY LIFE will be the unconditional and unswerving ministry to Our Holiness and the victorious and volcanic struggle for the righteousness of the Ecumenical Throne, following faithfully the example of the Archdeacon Aetius”
      (My emphasis) The whole tone is becoming a crusade of pushing for these special prerogatives, and it is sounding just like a country trying to rally its troops to greater patriotism – Except it is not loyalty to Christ, but to the patriarchate and its agenda and self-perception.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Actually, Google provided the translation and it is only as good as Google allows (not much). I think that’s why George provided the YouTube clip from whence it came.

      • Yes it was an appalling translation fit for google. But Sadly Bartholomaios comments re his power are grandiose in the main.
        Is he just a sad old man trying to keep his dying community going in face of Turkish pressure and history? But he is destroying the Church in process.