Heads or Tails?

If Greece agrees with the Local Churches on Ukraine, a schism might be avoided because then it would be a Bartholomew problem and not a Church problem.   However, if Greece doesn’t agree with the Local Churches, the result might not be the same.   So what’s it’s going to be, heads or tails?

Well, nothing at the moment.  Our friends on the Ortho Christianity site tell us:  “The Synod announced that it was entrusting the issue to the Greek primate, His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, who in turn declared that he could not shoulder the issue alone but would turn it over to the Bishops’ Council, though it now seems that course of action will again be delayed.” 

Now, I realize that this resolute indecision is not becoming an august body of hierarchs whose goal is to make decisions for the Church and stand before God for their actions. (That alone makes me glad I’m not a bishop. I’ve already got plenty on my plate to account for.) However, as an Hellene, I take some measure of pride in their inaction. You see, they really did make a decision in a byzantinesque sort of way.

Permit me to explain.

What the Greek bishops are doing (whether they realize it or not) is stand in the pass and prevent the enemy from getting through. Think of King Leonidas and his three hundred Spartans at Thermopylae. The “last stand” at the Hot Gates was essentially a suicide mission in that there was no way that the combined Spartan, Thespian and Theban forces could withstand the Persian hordes. But stand and fight they did. In doing so, they bought precious time for the Athenians to marshal their forces and finally defeat the Persian fleet at Salamis.

As in 1940, when the Greek Army turned back Mussolini’s legions, or in 1998 when the Serbs fought NATO to a standstill in Kosovo, a courageous stand against incredible odds can serve a larger purpose. In both cases, the Greeks and the Serbs bought the Russians valuable time. In 1940, Hitler had to put off his invasion by several weeks, choosing the very day that Napoleon decided to invade Russia. Likewise in the late 90s the Serbs proved to the Russian nation (which was economically prostrate before the vulture capitalists of the West) that NATO wasn’t as invincible as they made themselves out to be. Under a strong leader and free-market reforms, Russia could regain its strength and in due time, become the counterpoise to the neoliberal establishment.

What the Church of Greece is doing is the same thing. And the eyes of all local Orthodox Churches are on them. But here’s the thing: the Spartans held out for as long as they could and would have held out longer were it not for a traitor named Ephialtes, who showed the Persians a way around the pass to outflank the Greeks. I don’t think any Greek bishop, in particular, wants to be known as the next Ephialtes.

I don’t think that time is on the Phanar’s side. If this is so (and there is no Ephialtes) we can thank the Greeks.



As they have already done several times, the hierarchs of the Greek Church have again postponed discussion of the Ukrainian ecclesiastical issue, according to sources within the Greek Orthodox Church.

Yesterday, the Telegram channel of the Moscow Patriarchal press service, “Church Today,” reported, citing its own sources within the Greek Church, that the hierarchs would not discuss Ukraine at the upcoming session of the Bishops’ Council, which will open on October 8.

This report comes after the Permanent Holy Synod of the Greek Church met in Athens on October 1, and, according to Greek sources, was “seeking a formula whereby the Church of Greece takes a position regarding the Ukrainian Church’s autocephaly.”

According to the source, in the Greek Church, they feel, “Too much pressure is coming from all sides.” There is a feeling that, “We’re a small Church. What can we do?” and that, “There is a schism everywhere, both in the Greek Church and in Orthodoxy.”

An extraordinary session of the Bishops’ Council of the Greek Church could be called in February of next year. “In the meantime, judging by everything, the line remains as before—to not react to what is happening and postpone,” the source explained.

The Greek Church is unfortunately divided on the Ukrainian issue, with several hierarchs strongly speaking out against Constantinople’s non-canonical invasion of the Ukrainian Church’s territory, and others openly supporting the invasion and creation of a new church. Some hierarchs have even taken it upon themselves to concelebrate with representatives of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) already.

The situation is complicated by the fact that a number of hierarchs who make up the Holy Synod and Bishops’ Council of the Greek Church are in fact hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, serving in the areas that became part of Greece after the Church had already received its autocephaly in 1850.

It is likely this division that has caused the bishops to bounce back and forth on the Ukrainian issue. The Holy Synod had already declared in January that it would not make a decision about the OCU but would instead entrust it to the broader Bishops’ Council, consisting of all of the hierarchs of the Greek Church.

However, despite this decision, the Holy Synod again considered the issue at its August session, hearing reports from the two commissions it had created in March to investigate the Ukrainian issue in depth. Reports vary on whether the commissions recommend recognizing the OCU or not, though the Holy Synod did make a statement concerning the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s right to grant autocephaly, though it worded its statement vaguely enough so as not to refer directly to autocephaly for Ukraine.

The Synod also announced that it was entrusting the issue to the Greek primate, His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, who in turn declared that he could not shoulder the issue alone but would turn it over to the Bishops’ Council, though it now seems that course of action will again be delayed.



  1. Rhonda Dodson says

    I personally am both proud & impressed with the Greek Church (aka: the Orthodox Church of Greece). They are under incredible pressure from all sorts of secular powers as well as Constantinople itself to cow-tow & recognize the schismatic-OCU. Most Greeks do not want the Greek Church to do so & those within her ranks that do (mostly clergy from the New Lands) are an actual minority.

  2. After last week’s disappointing display by hierarchs of the Church of Alexandria, one of their brothers has spoken with measured tones:

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Interesting article that points out how the Russian schism with Constantinople is being used by the Russian Orthodox Church to justify expansion into territories formerly the sole jurisdiction of Constantinople.  The ROC is expanding headlong into these territories, and it will continue to expand, that is until an Ecumenical Council can be called to sort this out. 
      Ukrainian autocephaly is the new excuse that serves Moscow’s broadening purview.  Because of this, it now becomes questionable if Moscow actually wants this matter resolved in an Ecumenical Council.  Any decision coming from such a council will likely only diminish Moscow’s purview and not serve to maintain or broaden it. 
      Ukrainian autocephaly has, of yet, done no substantial damage to the Russian Orthodox Church.  With a minority of exceptions, most of the UOC parishes and monasteries still remain part of the Moscow Patriarchate, and not much has actually changed in Ukraine.  And the kicker is that the Moscow Patriarchate has only grown abroad as a result. 
      So who’s the victim?  Not Moscow. 

      • George Michalopulos says

        Joseph, perhaps an answer from a recent saint?


        • Joseph Lipper says

          The various prophecies about an end-times Christian Emperor are interesting, because these come from so many different sources, yet they all seem to tell the same story.  In more recent times there is the account of Elder Ephraim and the story of the Marble King.  Elder Joseph of Vatopedi (died in 2009) had a vision of the return of the “Greek King, the chosen of the Lord which in everything shall be perfect and in the earth will rule with justice”.   St Kosmas of Aitolia and St. Paisios of Mt. Athos both saw this.  The idea of an end times messianic Christian Emperor also comes up in the 4th century Libri Sibyllini, the 8th century Apocalypse of Pseudo Methodius, in many Roman Catholic prophecies, and Islam has this concept with Mahdi.  Even the Apocalypse of St. John, the Book of Revelation, talks about the woman who gives birth to a “man child” in chapter 12:  “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.”  Curiously, this “man child” is not Jesus Christ, but rather appears to be a Christian Emperor, one who is chosen by God, and who will precede the Anti-Christ.  
          I actually first heard about these prophecies on my trip to the Phanar years ago.  I was chatting with one of the Patriarch’s deacons there, and he told me about these.
          So how can an Ecumenical Council be called?  It might just be that God will soon raise up His chosen one, a Christian Emperor, to accomplish this.  God will protect His Church.  I believe that St. Paisios said at first there will be an imposter Emperor, but very soon he will go away.  Then afterwards, God will make manifest His chosen one, and this will be obvious to everyone.

          • George Michalopulos says

            An excellent distillation of the various prophecies. Thank you, Joseph.

            I for one have no problem with the ep remaining in Istanbul. My concerns are with the ecumenism that began there 100 years ago and is presently accelerating.

          • Prophecies? Cosmus Aitrelus was a nazi-era fabrication.

            • Monk James Silver says

              Starting with the time frame of St Kosmas, and regardless of purported predictions, this assertion doesn’t comport with anything I’ve ever learned about St Kosmas Aitolos.

              Nazis? 1930s-1940s? I don’t think so.

              But perhaps we’re considering two different people.

              I’d be grateful for a clarification from George Comney.

            • Everyone should visit the link on this guy’s post, just to see the state of his mind. It will explain all of his (and the other strangely-spelled pseudo-Greek names) bizarre and sometimes blasphemous posts.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Well, according to the Metropolitan of Zimabwe: “In the absence of dialogue with the Sister Orthodox Churches to discuss the issue of canonical ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Ukraine, the result is that today the Russians will send their clergy into all areas of the canonical ecclesiastical jurisdiction of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, even within Turkey and, indeed, Constantinople”. . .” https://orthochristian.com/124413.html

        They have all asked for a Council on Ukraine. What could Bartholomew possibly be afraid of? (Being sarcastic. He has reason to be afraid but if he were truly a man of God in Christ’s Church he would allow it to happen.)

        • george osborne says

          Schism is like a highly infectious mortal disease. It spreads sickness and death to everyone who comes into contact. The Greeks are infected. The Russians are equally infected as they react unilaterally. If the proper spiritual medicine is not applied, the sickness will spread to the entire Church.

          • The Russian Church has not behaved improperly.  It was invaded and attacked by a fellow Church, whose leader’s lips are stained with lies and whose pockets are full of bribes.  Given the physical harm being inflicted on her children in Ukraine, their actions to date have been quite restrained.  
            I am Greek and have no business or personal connections to anything or anyone Russian.  But I love my Orthodox Church and her unity.  And Black Bart has thrown that away to fuel his papal pretensions and dreams of power and glory in his crumbling buildings in Istanbul.
            It is past time for all of us in the Greek Church to say enough is enough and to throw off the yoke of Black Bart.

            • That makes two of us bro’.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Regrettably, Michael, I must agree with you.  I am Greek myself but being Greek provides no immunity against heresy or schism.  The last, sad days of Byzantium show that to be the case.
              God is the ultimate trickster:  He allowed the Turks (augmented with many Christian divisions) to conquer Cpole and return it to Orthodoxy.
              “Man plans, God laughs” as they say.

        • Joseph Lipper says

          It’s likely the only way that Patriarch Bartholomew will even consider calling a council right now is if the ROC restores communion with him, withdraws from EP territory, and acknowledges Ukrainian autocephaly.  Of course Russia will not do this. 
          Likewise, the only way that Russia will even consider attending an Ecumenical Council called by the EP is if Ukrainian autocephaly is retracted.  Of course Patriarch Bartholomew has no intention of doing this either.
          Strangely enough, this becomes a matter of national security for Russia in the sense that Orthodox Christianity has now become intertwined with it’s nuclear military arsenal.  There is a caveat however.   In the “Nuclear Orthodoxy”, there is no room for doubt or dissent.  Obviously there’s high stakes involved with anything nuclear.  The spiritual, moral, and psychological welfare of Russia’s nuclear military program requires absolute ecclesial and theological certainty.
          Because of this, the ROC necessarily has to continue an information campaign both of invalidating the Ecumenical Patriarchate,  and of invalidating anything the EP does, and also to float the idea of an “Ecumenical Council” being called without the EP.   The problem is, Moscow’s “Nuclear Orthodoxy” necessitates a council on it’s own terms.  The modern institution of “Nuclear Orthodoxy” is not reconcilable with correction coming from the other Patriarchates either. 

          • Gail Sheppard says

            That’s one way of looking at it. Another is that Bartholomew won’t call a Council because he doesn’t have the support for Ukraine. The Churches don’t care that ROC went into Asia (or eventually Turkey), Poroshenko didn’t win, the lion share of parishes and monasteries stayed with Onophry, the nationalists can’t get it together even with a church, Trump didn’t send in troops, Ukraine can’t get in NATO, they have a new president who is trying to forge a relationship with Putin, and the 250M in military aid Congress authorized has been stalled indefinitely. I’d say things are looking up for Russia. No nuclear weapons required.

            ROC didn’t have to undermine Batholomew. He did it all by himself.

          • You’re just making things up now, Joseph. I can hear the distinct sound of a barrel scraping somewhere.

          • Joseph Lipper: “Orthodox Christianity has now become intertwined with it’s nuclear military arsenal. There is a caveat however. In the “Nuclear Orthodoxy”, there is no room for doubt or dissent.”
            A very dangerous and inflammatory accusation! The closest thing comes to my mind is a blood libel.

          • Orthodox Daily Prayers, sTs press 2008
            Prayer to the Theotokos page 133-134
            “…Grant me compunction and contrition of heart, humility of thought, and a release from the slavery of my own reasonings….”
            Dear Joseph, whenever I read this prayer, I know it is meant for me. 

  3. “So who’s the victim?”
    I am seriously beginning to think that you are merely a phanariot troll.
    However, I will answer this question for you.  Here are the victims:

    * All Orthodox Christians. The schismatic abomination created by the CP risks tearing the entire Church to pieces. Thank God no other Orthodox Church has recognized them to date.
    * Clergy and their Matushkas are being beaten.  Parishioners are being beaten (including elderly and women).  Their Churches are being seized by the new fascist schismatics.

    Those are the main victims. I would recommend that perhaps you could be a bit more thoughtful before continuing your Constantinople apologetics tour.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Mikhail, absolutely there’s much suffering in Ukraine.  There’s a war going on there for some five years now.  Yet strategically, Ukrainian autocephaly has not hurt Moscow, but rather it has brought cause for Moscow to open up new avenues for it’s global expansion, such as in Turkey and Korea.  I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing either.  We should rejoice wherever the Gospel is preached.  However, I do question how sustainable this type of ecclesial expansion can be.  At some point in the future, it will likely be reigned in by an Ecumenical Council.  
      The argument has been made that Ukrainian autocephaly has been a boon to church seizures.  Well, I’m not entirely convinced of that.  There were many reports of church seizures before.  This was a consequence of the war, not autocephaly. 
      Patriarch Bartholomew did not start the war.  He reconciled with the schismatics in the interest of peace, and then gave what they asked for.  He only gave them autocephaly and with strict terms.  The former schismatics are at least somewhat reigned in by the autocephaly that was granted.  The OCU would probably be reigned in even more if the other Local Churches would even speak with them.

      • You are living in a Phanariot dream world. You can be sure that the ROC is not planning a global expansion. The Church seizures and beatings increased when the CP created his abomination. The CP has been creating havoc and executing power grabs for 100 years. The canonical territory of Russia was invaded. A group of unrepentant nationalist schismatics were given a tomos. It is tearing the Church apart. Who did this? His name begins with a B. There’s really no way to sugarcoat this Mr. Lipper.

  4. All really good points George. Not to divert, but, this is what Patriarch Bartholomew wants to attach himself to:

  5. George Michalopulos says

    Well, this is good news coming from the Ukrainian front:


    What a difference an election makes. 

  6. Anyone record +Tikhon’s talk on “Primacy and Service” on October 8th?  Given the rumors the title is ominous.