Is the Pope Catholic? Part Whatever


OK, this is getting tiresome. When someone asks if “the Pope is Catholic?” it’s understood as a rhetorical question. Along the lines of “does a bear [defecate] in the woods? The answer to both is always “yes.”

So why am I tired? Mainly because the current pontiff makes me wonder anymore if this even partly true. I can’t figure this guy out. He comes into the See of Peter for all intents and purposes as the Second Coming of Papa Pinko (John XXIII) and upsets all the Traditionalist apple-carts. To the hosannahs of all the Progressives and other right-thinkers.

Not that some apple-carts didn’t need to be overturned, mind you. But then he goes off and does or says something “retrograde,” possibly as a sop to the Traditionalists, I guess. Like when he was in the States and he had a secret visit with Kim Davis last year, the Kentucky registrar who went to jail rather than sign a gay “marriage” certificate. Then when he went to Kenya earlier this year and paid homage to several dozen African martyrs who refused the homosexual advances of a Kenyan king in the nineteenth century. (Because of their refusal, they were tortured and killed by said king in case you were wondering.)

Then of course there was the big meeting in Havana with Patriarch Kirill of Russia. The joint declaration was praiseworthy in and of itself. Indeed, I could find nothing wrong with it. It was as if Pope-emeritus Benedict XIV was still in charge.

Regardless, all this made me wonder if he was playing a double game, saying the “right” things to please the world while doing the (really) right things behind the scenes in order to pull the rug out from the right-thinkers in due season. And so, I refrained from criticizing him.

Well, I can’t think that any longer. His most recent offenses took place last week when he achieved a trifecta of stupidity, imprudence and heresy.

The stupidity first: thinking that Europeans needs to allow more Orcs into their ancient homelands. The imprudence: continuing to piss off Traditionalist Catholics for their adherence to Catholic doctrine. And the heresy: comparing Islamic jihad to the Great Commission of our Lord and Saviour. There simply is no way to walk that one back.

What we are dealing with here is more than mere sloppy-mindedness (that is to say an inability to see things clearly) but a disavowal of Christianity in and of itself. (It would be good to remember what the late Richard John Neuhaus said: “If orthodoxy is optional, it becomes unnecessary.”)

I’m sorry, but it should be obvious by now that in the temporal sphere at least, all serious Christians –but most especially–Orthodox Christians are on their own. In John Paul II and Benedict XVI, we had an ally or at least very sympathetic co-belligerents. That’s all gone now. And maybe for the better: I imagine that his latest theological illiteracy will serve as a bracing slap in the face to the bishops who are getting ready to meet in Crete next month.

One can only hope so.


  1. Gregory Manning says

    I’ve cited this comment from 2014 before and I’ll do so again, as it continues to prove accurate.

    “The man is a good-hearted moron, and I mean that in a completely non-malicious way. He is a sentimental, gushing, huggy-bear and would make a great parish priest, but is in well over his head as Patriarch of an autocephalous Church.”

    Also, clergy who worked under him in South America have witnessed to the fact that he flip-flopped on a daily basis, making one claim in the morning and its complete opposite in the afternoon, in the process making their lives and jobs frustrating and chaotic.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      He appears to run on his “feelings” at the moment. Better to hang on to what you know, than how you feel. But that’s being Orthodox, which he is not.

    • That sounds an awful lot like how Met. Jonah was described by those who were near him, at both Syosset and in CA before that.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Has there ever been a great world leader who has not been characterized by some people as a moron or demon? So many Orthodox people here appear tp know that they are smarter and more honorable than the Pope. Is this the famous Tradition with a big “T?

      By the way, anyone ever hear of a Nestorian, Arian, Masonic or Iconoclastic POPE?

      • Gregory Manning says

        There’s a lot to be said for “The Peter Principle” your Grace. I dare say many here have seen individuals promoted to their level of incompetency. In my brief tour of duty in the military I saw it happen with depressing regularity. Anyway, what’s wrong with being a “sentimental, gushing, huggy-bear” parish priest if that’s his strong point?

      • I can name at least two members of my parish who are smarter and more honorable than Francis.

        “By the way, anyone ever hear of a Nestorian, Arian, Masonic or Iconoclastic POPE?”

        I have heard of many Filioquist and schismatic popes.

      • Your Grace-

        As one who was a member of the roman denomination when Francis came to power and having spent almost 35 years in the RC and can vouch that Francis’ “theology” is thoroughly Modernist and not recognizable by a great many members of his church as Catholic. It has nothing to do with being “smarter” or more “honorable” than the pope. And it isn’t just “right wing schismatic” groups that have come to recognize this pope as a danger to what remains of rome:

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          Steven, what’s your point?

          • Your Grace-

            My point is that those of us who criticize Francis do not think ourselves necessarily “smarter” or more “honorable” than he but simply are trying to point out how very far he has steered what is left of Rome upon the rocks of Modernism.

  2. Yeah, they’ve all pretty much bitten the dust besides Orthodoxy. BTW, did you hear about the draft letter from the fathers on Athos?:

    I google-translated it and it appears that the good fathers may cease commemorating Pat. Bartholomew en masse and are contemplating excommunicating anyone who accepts decisions of the coming council along the lines of the proposed Statement on Relations with the Heterodox. Could just be a rumor though. The text is signed “Draft Committee of the Fathers of the Holy Mountain”.

  3. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    May you always have your “sympathetic co-belligerents” outside our Church!

  4. The “Joint Declaration” praiseworthy of itself ???? No, no, it was a complete total sellout of Orthodoxy, a complete total deception, all this phony political sell for some kind of agenda of “unity” in dealing with the Muslims or what have you when on Passion Week (Gregorian of course) this pontiff goes as far as not only “washing the feet” but then also giving them a kiss, this of Muslims? The ones that reject the Gospels of Matthew Mark Luke and John pretty much outright? He washes and kisses their feet? The “joint declaration” is nothing else or other than a blueprint for the complete and total wholesale sellout of Orthodoxy, Tradition and Doctrine, for some kind of a ‘political unity’ and some kind of ecumenical prerogative of a ‘unity of faith’ with heretics and apostates just for the sake of a “unity” which becomes the overlying factor taking precedence over everything else. The “joint declaration” is nothing less or short of the NWO anti-christ agenda for the Church. The way it was carried out, completely “fly by night” was in violation of everything Orthodox from the standpoint of “Sobornost” universality it just came out of nowhere and then BOOM “Patriarch” signs this thing, this abomination, no, its not praiseworthy at all whatsoever however a complete total hijack, fraud, and now they are going to use it to further their agenda …. catholicizing Orthodoxy and getting the Orthodox in under the papacy, their agenda.

    • Fr. Florovsky from “Ecumenism: A Doctrinal Approach”:

      “Would it not be an absurd situation, if Christians could have been at one in secular unessentials and still at variance in essentials? Would it not have suggested that all doctrinal or confessional disagreements were of no vital importance whatever?”

      As far as the Joint Statement, Fr. Hatzidakis (GOA) points out the serious problems with it:

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Well it has finally been said that the MP is just as “compromised ” as the EP on ecumenism with the RCC. I wonder is our ROCOR brothers Misha and Edward will continue to make excuses for the MP’s behavior that is Soooooo similar to the Uniate EP.

        Will Michael Warren go on and on and on about the Uniate MP? Hmmm? Or will all our ROCOR brothers and Russiophiles friends like MW make excuse after excuse for the MP?

        Like I said before if you put nationalism before the Gospel this is what you get with the Greeks AND THE RUSSIANS.

        MW is worried about Bishop Alexander on a a joint comission in the 60’s, but has no care in the world about what Moscow just did. How very telling and predictable. We have a hard time being Orthodox, but an easy time being nationalists.

        All hail the 3rd Rome…NOT!

        Peter A. Papoutsis

        • Peter,

          Far from hailing Pat. Kirill’s meeting with the Pope, I called attention to the heterodox elements in the joint statement and agree with Fr. Longin in the shot that he fired across the bow of the MP. It appears that the Athonites are about to fire just such a shot across the bow of the Phanar. God bless those voices crying out in the desert to make a straight way for the Lord.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            I hope they do. Both Moscow and Constantinople have gotten to close to Rome’s heresey.

      • “Would it not be an absurd situation, if Christians could have been at one in secular unessentials and still at variance in essentials? Would it not have suggested that all doctrinal or confessional disagreements were of no vital importance whatever?”

        That’s an interesting quote from Florovsky. It does not seem to have occurred to him that one Church could have successfully preserved the Truth, in toto, as Christ prophesied (“that they may be one”; “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”) and that all others deviated in some way.

        • Fr. Florovsky certainly believed that the Orthodox Church was the Una Sancta.

          • Maximus,

            Did he? Let us take as a given that just because someone asserts that they believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church that it does not necessarily indicate that they actually hold that belief or think as if it were so. One need only look at the double speak of the draft documents for the council, which also seem to affirm “one Church”, yet go on to read in denial of that very concept. Based on the above quote, I have no idea what was in Fr. Georges’ heart. Lip service is commonplace.

            • Fr. Florovsky:
              I believe that the church in which I was baptized and brought up ‘is’ in very truth ‘the Church’, i.e. ‘the true’ Church and the ‘only’ true Church . . . I am therefore compelled to regard all other Christian churches as deficient, and in many cases can identify these deficiencies accurately enough. Therefore, for me, Christian reunion is simply universal conversion to Orthodoxy. I have no confessional loyalty; my loyalty belongs solely to the ‘Una Sancta’. “Confessional Loyalty in the Ecumenical Movement”

              If you want info on his ecclesiology you should read Cavarnos’ Florovsky and Ecumenism and Blane’s book on his life and thought.

              • It is not protestations of orthodoxy that impress me. It is comments at odds with orthodoxy which lead me to doubt. Anyone can state the Orthodox faith which Fr. Florovsky did on many occasions. It is the exception which proves the rule. When the preparatory documents, for example, speak of the Church initially, they recite orthodox notions. Later, unfortunately, they wander off into heterodoxy. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways and diabolos refers to one who walks two ways. The devil is happy to tell you the Truth. He just tells the Truth and mixes it with lies. So, like others in his circle, I read Florovsky with caution, filtering out the crap from the cream.

                • Misha,

                  How did either of Fr. Florovsky’s statements provoke you to question his Orthodoxy? He’s not a Saint, nor is he infallible, nevertheless, his work was endorsed by Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky, Vl. Theophan of Poltava, St. Justin Popovich and Constantine Cavarnos. Hieromonk Seraphim Rose also attested that Fr. Florovsky vexed the ecumenists when he regularly asserted the Church was Orthodoxy.

                  Fr. Florovsky composed the Orthodox ecclesiological statement to the WCC in 1954 that concludes thusly:

                  “In conclusion, we are bound to declare our profound conviction that the Holy Orthodox Church alone has preserved in full and intact “the faith once delivered unto the saints.” It is not because of our human merit, but because it pleases God to preserve “his treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God.” (2 Cor. 4: 7).”

                  Read the whole:

                  Fr. John Whiteford said that Fr. Florovsky’s WCC statement provided the framework for ROC’s ecclesiological statement accepted and promulgated by the Jubilee Council in 2000.

                  Again, Fr. Florovsky is not infallible; but even his “Limits” expressed the view commonly held by Russians for centuries. Actually, even Limits was relatively conservative when compared to certain Russian hierarchs. St. Hilarion Troitsky’s refutations of pseudo-ecumenist ecclesiology are a great source for observing how rampant ecumenist ecclesiology was prior to the Revolution.

                  If Fr. Florovsky is suspect then how one must feel about the ecclesiological statements of Pat. Kirill and Met. Hilarion of Volokolamsk?

                  • I have no opinion about Fr. Florensky’s speculative statement regarding Una Sancta. I think he was just writing off the top of his head, but by its wording it did raise the question I presented. As to his quote I produced regarding sola scriptura, it was a misrepresentation of the Orthodox faith. But it was marginal and minor and . . . so what? But no, I do not trust him completely in his presentation of Orthodoxy. I would say that, ironically, he is among the least offensive of the neo-Patristics (having coined the neologism) and he probably backed away from what neo-Patristicism became toward his latter years.

                    “If Fr. Florovsky is suspect then how one must feel about the ecclesiological statements of Pat. Kirill and Met. Hilarion of Volokolamsk?”

                    Similar to how Fr. Longin “feels” about Pat. Kirill’s joint statement with the Pope and the conciliar preparatory documents: Sad, if one chooses to have feelings about such things, but hopeful that they will reconsider their statements and positions. The latter 19th and 20th centuries were devastating in some ways to the stability of the Orthodox witness, especially in the West. Russian Orthodoxy was well preserved in ROCOR but the MP is still getting its bearing on these matters. In Eastern Europe, they are learning to read the neo-Patristics with serious caution when compared to the Fathers and their own native theologians.

                    In Greece, something comparable is happening. You notice that the bishops of the Church of Greece, not of Constantinople, are the ones who are most alarmed at the ecumenical enterprise and the nature of the proposed council (along, apparently, with the Athonites). Constantinople was thoroughly modernized and, though still aggressively Hellenistic in a way, a creature of the West. Greece is not. Americanism has made its way but the native Orthodoxy is still strong enough in its spiritual DNA to resist heterodoxy.

                    This is the scene that is playing out before us. The environment that produced American Orthodoxy was highly acidic and had a considerable effect on the integrity of the faith as practiced here.

      • “secular unessentials essentials variance of essentials secular unessentials” ….
        got it …. really, shouldn’t Florovsky define what he means with all this secular essentials unessentials things he talks about, maybe give an example? Otherwise you just only have an ambiguity that appears to allude to something but then still leaves you guessing at it whatever that may be. Meanwhile one of your links had some very good points.

  5. Monk James says

    We’re so deeply affected by heterodox vocabulary, even unaware of our subtly buying into vaticanist propaganda that we can write and read such a term as ‘See of Peter’ and be reasonably certain that everyone will understand those words to mean ‘the RC diocese of Rome, Italy’. But the term is false and misleading, since St Peter was not that city’s first bishop. That distinction belongs to St Linus (mentioned by St Paul, 2 TIM 4:21)who was appointed by Sts Peter and Paul together, both of whom were apostles, neither of whom was a bishop of anywhere.

    Although St Peter is also credited with founding the church at Antioch and St Paul with establishing several others in Asia Minor, the fact that the two of them together founded the church at Rome is its principal claim to primacy among the ancient patriarchates, even ahead of Jerusalem which is called ‘mother of the churches, the dwelling of God’. Of course, being the center of roman imperial government didn’t hurt its claim to pre-eminence, either.

    But if the roman pope derives his cachet from being the successor of the first bishop of the city in an unbroken line of that bishop’s successors lo these twenty centuries, and that bishop is NOT St Peter (as the RCs mistakenly think), but St Linus, what happens to his supposed cachet?

    In a rhetorical question of his own, my spiritual father used to wonder: ‘Why is it that every time the pope sneezes, the orthodox catch cold?!’

    So, personally, I don’t think it matters much what Rome does unless and until they repent their schism and correct their theological mistakes and the errors in practice which arise from those mistakes, and rejoin The Church.

    • M. Stankovich says

      This, obviously, speaks to the question of the primacy of Peter, the scholarship, apparently, of Fr. John Meyendorff & other Patristic scholars of our time are not to be trusted because… Well, we are waiting for quotation(s) that damns him/them as a Roman Catholics (Uniates?). In the meantime…

      I am not so naive as to place anyone on a pedestal because of a “dancing with the stars” model of adulation, or a hearty alphabet soup following their name; and this is despite the fact that it is generally the first place pseudo-scholars focus when discrediting, somehow suggesting that the disciplined, systematic application of the talents God has bestowed upon you is prideful. I say, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) Wonderful are the words of Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) who warned against, “modern self-appointed ‘wise men’ who know more than all the ancients merely by living in our “enlightened” modern times,” but whose wisdom I have echoed here many, many times:

      There has been no century without Holy Fathers of its own. St. Nicetas Stethatos, disciple and biographer of St. Simeon the New Theologian, has written; “It has been granted by God that from generation to generation there should not cease the preparation by the Holy Spirit of His prophets and friends for the order of His Church.”

      Again, the issue, as I see it in Mr. Mortiss’ question assumes that any acceptance of a primacy bestowed upon Peter, the single apostle, distinct and unique from the other apostles (e.g. James, who presided over the first council in Jerusalem) is a horribly mistaken western “creation” intended to consolidate power and influence for the “See/City of Rome.” In a purely Patristic and historical argument, Fr. Meyendorff systematically deconstructs this argument as false, clearly demonstrating that for the first millennium of the Church, the Bishops of the ancient sees acknowled the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. Then, last week, I was reading a translation of Cyprian of Carthage from Migne’s Patrologia Latina, 4, (I cannot find Vol. 4 in Greek, if anyone can help!)

      Anyone consider and examine these things, there is no need for lengthened discussion and arguments. There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter, saying, “I say unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, “Feed my sheep.” And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says, “As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you: Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins ye retain, they shall be retained;” yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one.

      Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity, Which one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in the Song of Songs designated in the person of our Lord, and says, “My dove, my spotless one, is but one. She is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her.” Does he who does not hold this unity of the Church think that he holds the faith? Does he who strives against and resists the Church trust that he is in the Church, when moreover the blessed Apostle Paul teaches the same thing, and sets forth the sacrament of unity, saying, “There is one body and one spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God?”

      (5) And this unity we ought firmly to hold and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside in the Church, that we may also prove the episcopate itself to be one and undivided. Let no one deceive the brotherhood by a falsehood: let no one corrupt the truth of the faith by perfidious prevarication. The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one for the whole, The Church also is one, which is spread abroad far and wide into a multitude by an increase of fruitfulness. As there are many rays of the sun, but one light; and many branches of a tree, but one strength based in its tenacious root; and since from one spring flow many streams, although the multiplicity seems diffused in the liberality of an overflowing abundance, yet the unity is still preserved in the source. Separate a ray of the sun from its body of light, its unity does not allow a division of light; break a branch from a tree, when broken, it will not be able to bud; cut off the stream from its fountain, and that which is cut off dries up. Thus also the Church, shone over with the light of the Lord, sheds forth her rays over the whole world, yet it is one light which is everywhere diffused, nor is the unity of the body separated.

      Her fruitful abundance spreads her branches over the whole world. She broadly expands her rivers, liberally flowing, yet her head is one, her source one; and she is one mother, plentiful in the results of fruitfulness: from her womb we are born, by her milk we are nourished, by her spirit we are animated.

      The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother. If any one could escape who was outside the ark of Noah, then he also may escape who shall be outside of the Church. Vol. 4, Col. 498

      What is St. Cyprian saying here? All of the Apostles were given an equal authority, both on this earth, and with keys, to the kingdom of heaven itself. Likewise, all those designated as bishops following these are equally as “many rays of the sun,” and so thus we have the unity of the Church. But it clearly & unequivocally was the point of the Lord “that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one,” and that one was Peter. The other apostles were the same as Peter, “both in honour and power,” and it was no insult to bestow or acknowledge a “primacy” among them, but the Lord Himself determined “One Church” began from one, and from the one unity proceeded.

      This is demonstrative of the writings of the Early Fathers of the Church, and exactly what we read from St. Maximus the Confessor in the Seventh century, St. Symeon the New Theologian in the Tenth century; and Sts. Nilus of Sora and Symeon of Thessalonica, and Patriarch Gennadios Scholarios in the Fifteenth century. To suggest this a renovationist/”sort-of-roman-catholic” position” is to deny the teachings of the Holy Fathers and the fathers and scholars of our generation.

      • Certainly St. Peter has the primacy among the Apostles. But whether that applies to his successors is another question.

        I dare say Antioch arguably has a stronger claim to being “THE Petrine see” than Rome.

        • Monk James says

          Ages says: May 28, 2016 at 11:46 pm
          Certainly St. Peter has the primacy among the Apostles. But whether that applies to his successors is another question.
          I dare say Antioch arguably has a stronger claim to being “THE Petrine see” than Rome.
          Why? St Peter wasn’t the first bishop of either city, or the bishop of ANYPLACE. Apostles are apostles, bishops are bishops. In the first christian century, apostles appointed bishops, then moved on to other cities to appoint other bishops, and then moved on….

          BTW: The petrine WHAT?! Please, friends, let’s learn to express ourselves in an orthodox manner before we have chasubles all over the place.

          • That is fair. I had not thought of the apostle-bishop dichotomy. It would be nice if it were emphasized by our Orthodox leaders more clearly, rather than defending our ecclesiology from RC base assumptions.

      • It all falls apart very quickly when you go down the road Rome went. As another poster demonstrated conclusively, the Fathers understood Christ to be referring to Peter’s confession, not his person, when He said, “upon this Rock”. The rest is rationalization. No doubt Peter was “alpha” among the apostles, and Peter and Paul together are called the “foremost of the Apostles”. Yet Paul rebuked Peter to his face, St. James presided at the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem and, as others point out, apostles were roving messengers establishing bishoprics rather than serving as local bishops. Regardless, there is nothing whatsoever that indicates that any exclusive charism was communicated to St. Peter or that any such charism could be communicated to others by him. Suggestions to the contrary are papism or, at best, semi-papism, which unfortunately has infected some Orthodox, well meaning and otherwise well-informed though they may be. Now, generally, the source of papism is Rome. It might be as a result of lingering bad ideas from “converted” Ukrainian Catholics, from Pontifical Institute educated Phanar clergy, from the Phanar influenced Paris school, or by some other avenue. Regardless, it’s not my job to trace these things.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Huh? You just did. Which is fine, but that last line had me laughing…hard! Good one.


          • Well, that’s just a sketch. Someone with a deeper interest in the pathology involved might want to do something indepth on it. That’s what I was really getting at. I do research now for a living and I’m just not focused on papist emanations at the moment.

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              Thanks, Misha! That makes it even more disheartening when “Ecumenical” Patriarchs today charmingly inform Popes that they are “Successors of St Andrew, just as you are of St Peter.” One can almost feel the smirks amongst the Papal entourage!

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              No worries.

      • “And again to the same He says, after His resurrection, “Feed my sheep.” ” ……..

        Three times Jesus asked him if he loved Him and to “feed his sheep” .. thus the three times was because Peter denied Christ three times before the rooster crow. It was a “three-fold” restoration of Peter back to apostleship. Not a “designation” of any kind of “primacy” of Peter.

        Then: “He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one,” and that one was Peter.” …. No way, no way, thats not what the Orthodox Church teaches, no Orthodox Saints Church Fathers have ever said nothing like that. There is a book called “The Papacy” by Father Vladimir (the Abbe Guettee) a foremost Latin scholar of the 19th Century who converted to Orthodoxy. A passage from his book:

        “St. Cyprian was right in calling the Church of Rome, “the chair of Peter ; the principal Church, from whence sacerdotal unity emanated.” (St. Cyp. 55th epis. to Cornelius.) But for all that, did he pretend that the Bishop enjoyed authority by Divine right? He believed it so little, that in his Treatise upon the Unity of the Church, he understands by the “chair of Peter” the entire Episcopate, he regards St. Peter as the equal of the other Apostles and denies his primacy, he makes St. Peter to be the simple type of the unity of the Apostolic College.”

        • M. Stankovich says

          “No way, friend? You can believe Father Vladimir (the Abbe Guettee), or you can believe the words of St. Cyprian himself, which I quoted directly from his treatise On the Unity of the Church, PL 4, as I noted above. And what would you make of my previous citation from the public trial of St. Maximus the Confessor:

          So the sacellarius [a public official who was examining St. Maximus] asks him directly, at one point [in his trial], “Why do you love the Romans and hate the Greeks?’ The servant of God replied, “We are commanded to hate no one. I love the Romans because I am of the same faith as they are; I love the Greeks because I speak the same language. ” Rome, for him, was objectively the home of right faith: “Christ founded both the Catholic faith and the Church on Peter,” he proclaims to his judges, “and I wish to adhere to that confession of faith on which the unity of all the Churches is based.”

          Detailed in both Patralogia Graeca 90, 93D, and 128C

          Misha would suggest that this position of St. Cyprian “breaks down fairly quickly.” Now, I’m no judge of the Theory of Relativity, but the time between Cyprian and Maximus is 6-centuries, which aligns with the position of Sts. Symeon of Thessalonika, Nilus of Sora, and Patriarch Genadius Scholarius 5-centuries later verbatim. Perhaps, brother or sister Cy, the conflict arises here because you are citing the authority of Father Vladimir (the Abbe Guettee.), while I am quoting you the Holy Fathers. If you read Unity of the Church carefully, nowhere does Cyprian say the Lord gave Peter “authority,” no where. I provided special emphasis to bring attention to what St. Cyprian said: “that He [the Lord] might set forth unity [His own, the Lord’s unity, in the Church which is His Body], He [the Lord Himself] arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one.” And that one was Peter. Apparently you and others are imputing “authority” and every other corrupting similar term with which the Bishop of Rome attempted to paint himself. Likewise, neither “primacy” nor “honor” were ever intended to suggest “authority” or rule. And I believe everyone here understands that.

          Whenever I read that something has been “demonstrated conclusively” to be correct or incorrect, and it is followed by paragraphs of blather, followed by posts of further blather, it has been “demonstrated conclusively” to my satisfaction that the line has been crossed from “interesting theological discussion” to pissing contest. “That would be a roger, Houston.” “Goodnight, Enterprise.”

          • ok, you’re saying “origin of unity comes from Peter”? How why and what for? Peter was at the Transfiguration of the Lord along with James and John. Now I’m rusty however John Apostle wrote Gospel, Revelation, Peter only two Epistles.
            Besides St. Cyprian, you need to look at some of the others, Basil the Great and
            St. John Chrysostom, see what they say, …. “Peter” as some source of “unity”? ….
            It’s not in the Bible. None of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council Like
            St. Cyril of Alexandria and Nicholas of Myra accorded any prerogatives to bishop of Rome. Nicene Creed makes no mention of Peter or any kind of “primacy.”

            • Article 9 of the Nicene Creed:

              In One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

              There is no “and the bishop of Rome, unifier, sovereign church leader” ….
              its not there.

          • Besides, if Peter being this supposed “origin of unity” and that of itself has nothing to do with “authority” or “honor” or “primacy” then what is the point? Do you have a point ….
            your “interesting theological discussion” or is it pointless? Also all your supposed “citations” of the Church Fathers? You name quite a few.
            St. Symeon the Theologian says “unity” came from the “one” and that “one” was Peter? Where?
            And Pleasssse …. Abbe Guettee is way out of your league ….

          • And just one last thing here before we “roger” out …. you really are crass ….
            no you don’t have much intellectual humor …. just get nasty when people don’t buy what you’re sell’n …. Yes your “lyrical musings” on Cyprian of Carthage ….
            give me a break ….

            • M. Stankovich says

              “Crass?” Come on, dude. I distinctly recall I was sitting in Grand Rounds which had to do with the Tarasoff “Duty to Warn” Law in CA – if a patient threatens to harm someone you are obligated to inform the intended victim and the police – and I was making a point as someone working with soon-to-be-released parolees , and I could hear the voice of someone behind me saying, “Who is he? Do we know him? He should shut up” until his voice reached a level where he could be easily heard, and I was embarrassed. I finally turned around and said, “What is your problem? Blah, blah, blah” As it turned out, this man was a world-class authority on Bipolar Disorder & was my introduction to the contentious world of the Big Leagues. Why tell you this story? To emphasize the fact that in the “real world,” it all ended at the door of the auditorium. I saw that doctor several weeks later, and he was as pleasant as could be. I have no “academic humor,” and get nasty when people “don’t but what I’m sell’n?” Dude, it’s the internet, for heaven’s sake! Who would be stupid enough to listen to me? Aye! But, one of the most fascinating factors revealed in the pioneering Minnesota Nun Study for dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease showed clearly that

              Sophisticated language skills turn out to be a powerful predictor of Alzheimer’s disease. The director of the study, Dr. Snowdon, stumbled upon the autobiographical essays written by the sisters when they entered into the order. To the astonishment of Dr. Snowdon and his fellow researchers, the participants who showed signs of Alzheimer’s had consistently authored essays that were lacking in language complexity. To measure language complexity, the notions of idea density (the number of discrete ideas per 10 written words) and grammatical complexity were used.

              That and a Folic Acid supplement. Yeah, there are some issues, of statistical “confounding,” (read about it), but in all, we will all benefit from the intellectual challenge. And I suspect, Cy, in the words of Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, “The more you do not like me, the more you will learn.” That, I believe, is intellectual humor. And presumably, the more you will love the Living Tradition of the Holy Fathers to the glory of our God! Play along, pal, and don’t take it personally.

              • Folate. Thats n green leafy vegetables right, kale? I recall having seen Full Metal Jacket. Screaming general right. Like Ali after he knocked out Liston.
                Back in those old days when Ali was still Cassius you had the good old Bristol Meyer’s Cod Liver oil for your EPA eicosopentanoic acid and DHA docohexonaic acid also to suppress the activity of the delta 6 desaturaze
                enzyme that turns omega 6 salad oil into the pro-
                no.1 series of “prostaglandin” makes your platelets stick, cells proliferate, vaso constriction …. I’m a deletente in this area anyway, as many times as Cassius Clay and later Muhammad Ali dished out licks he took a few himself. Thats probably what I liked about him. He took some big hits. However, when he
                would do this fast combination punching thats just classic stuff.


          Father Vladimir (the Abbe Guettee) book “The Papacy” is on-line. Just also found another interesting passage from his book:

          “Clement, one the great luminaries of that school (School of Alexandria), taught distinctly that no primacy–in the sense of authority–ever existed among the Apostles. “The disciples,” he says, disputing for primacy, Christ made a law of equality, saying, ‘Ye must become as little children.'”

  6. Peter Millman says

    Hi George,
    Personally, I strongly approve of this great Pope. He is leading the Catholic Church away from the insane “just war theory.” For three hundred years, the early Christians followed the nonviolent Jesus, and refused to kill another human being under any conditions. If the US could rid itself of its addiction to war and violence, this would be a much better country. May the Pope continue to speak out against war and violence at all levels. As the Lord Jesus so eloquently stated, ” Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called ‘the sons of God.’ Under no conditions, do I believe that war or violence is ever justified. Many thanks.

    • Spoken like a true follower of Marcion.

      • Peter Millman says

        Hi Misha,
        Is the statement, ” spoken like a true follower of Marcion” really appropriate? With the Orthodox attacks on “Rome,” we Orthodox sometimes sound like protestants. When the Orthodox Church does 1/100th the good works the Catholics do, then the Orthodox can speak with authority. Until such a time, perhaps a little less triumphalism and a little more humility may be called for. Also, I would like to ask if you have ever served in a combat role as a member of the US Armed Forces or would you be classified as a “chicken hawk?” Thank you for your response to my post.

        • Was there a reasoned response to my observation about Marcionism contained in your little tantrum? I think I missed it.

          • Peter Millman says

            Hi Misha,
            First of all, no one is perfect, not even you. Obviously, there was no tantrum on my part. You still haven’t answered my question; Have you served in a combat role in the US armed services, or are you one of those chicken hawks?
            The God of the Old Testament is obviously a brutal, tribal war God who engaged in and supported the crimes against humanity of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The Old Testament was written by primitive, barbaric people for primitive, barbaric people, oh, like you. All the best, and please answer the question I have posed to you twice.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Peter, you are wrong. The devil uses physical means to bring evil. Sometimes physical means are necessary to stop it. Such violence is always problematic but it is necessary and not always evil although it’s proximity to evil makes dangerous.

      We pray for our soldiers and civil authorities in part to keep them from evil.

      Someone who is willing to throw out true Christian understanding for “peace” will end with nothing.

      Exactly where the father of lies wants us.


        also, for modern Marcionists contrasted with Marcion himself, see:

      • Peter Millman says

        Hi Michael,
        Would you mind pointing me to the Gospel verses which support your supposition? I don’t see how it can be any clearer, “Put up your sword into its sheath, for all who live by the sword, perish by the sword.”War and violence beget more war and violence. In my humble opinion, if a person follows the Lord Jesus, he cannot take a human life under any condition. Michael, have you ever served in the US Armed Forces or are you one of these people who are willing to send other people’s children off to fight in other people’s wars while you never served yourself? Just a friendly question. Although I completely disagree with you, I appreciate your comments.

        • If you look at Christ’s actions in cleansing the temple (John 2:15) and the fact that He allowed his disciples to bear swords and even encouraged them to do so (Luke 22:36), you begin to doubt the pacifist thesis. You also see Christ and the Apostles praising Old Testament prophets who used violence extensively. God even strikes down a couple who promised, then withheld, property from the Church.

          But what really destroys it is the Old Testament. As Christians, we believe that Christ is the Son of God, the Word, the Second Person of the Trinity, who is a fulfillment of the Law and Prophets. Therefore everything that Yahweh (the Trinity) did and commanded in the Old Testament was according to the Will of the Son. Now, you may want to revisit the stories of how Israel was directed to deal with Moab and Amalek. It made jihad look like a backyard barbecue. There is no way to get around the fact that “He who lay in a manger” also killed the firstborn of Egypt.

          The only alternative is to deny the God of the Old Testament. That is precisely what Marcion did. And that is why I wrote, “Spoken like a true follower of Marcion.”

        • Michael Bauman says

          I never served as I was physically unable. My son in response to 9/11 elected to go into the Coast Guard but was not able to pass basic training because he could not conquer the push-ups.

          In preparation for going my late wife and I assigned him the task of studying the Church’s teaching on war and participation in war. He spent two years researching and writing a paper on it. Many Orthodox sources are cited.

          It is titled the Christian Warrior. You can find it on line. His name is Garrison Bauman. He was 18 when he wrote it. BTW it was translated into Romanian as well.

          Many people have read it and been impressed with his thought.

          It is not the complete story, but our priest thought enough of it to use as a resource for young folks considering a military career.

          If you have heard any of the folks from Syria and Iraq on the need for a Christian military you would be sobered.

          That does not imply any sort of support for US policies or minimize the horror of modern warfare.

          If you take the pacifist option that is fine but do so knowing that it does not represent an intrinsically superior option and entails much effort and sacrifice to realize in life.

          As with all moral decisions in this life both the reasons for that choice and the result are decidedly mixed.

          Know also that it is a moral decision not a doctrinal one.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Interesting Mr. Millman that you automatically attribute to me intentions that are not mine and accuse me of being a hypocrite. You have zero foundation for anything you said about me personally. Did you actually read what I wrote?

          BTW, early in the conversations my son and I had about his research and perspective on being a Christian warrior I said, “You know that if you follow your thesis, you will have to be fully prepared to die. ” He said, with great certainty, “Yes, I know that. I am.” I then asked, “Even if it puts your own salvation at risk?”. To which he replied, “If that is necessary to protect others, yes”

          I am grateful that God did not allow that, but I am deeply proud of my only child that he looked so deeply and honestly at the problem.

          May God grant you the same wisdom and integrity. As it stands now your comment appears to be just another exercise in empty jingoism. The topic and the people involved deserve much more respect than that.

  7. Tim R. Mortiss says

    It’s hard to think of St. Paul as a founder of the Church in Rome, though, inasmuch as he wrote to it before he ever went there. Am I missing a point…..?

    • Monk James says

      Yes, ‘Tim R. Mortiss’ is indeed missing a point here, which is that the fledgeling christian community at Rome had no bishop until Sts Peter and Paul appointed St Linus to that post, thereby establishing that community as a ‘catholic’ church — one which contains everything necessary for its peoples’ salvation ‘ in accordance with the whole’ (kata holon,->katholikos) of revelation and tradition.

      BTW: The usually encountered RC definition of ‘catholic’ as ‘universal’ is just wrong, and is used to justify the ‘universal jurisdiction’ of the pope, an idea never contemplated in the ancient notions of roman primacy among the patriarchates.

  8. Technically, the Pope hasn’t been Catholic for some 1000 years now. (Which makes me scratch my head to hear Orthodox say we can’t call an Ecumenical Council without the West.)

    If we believe we are the Catholic Church, we should act like it.

    • Ages,

      Yes, I have heard this coming from OCA clergy. They really need to go back to (a different) seminary!

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Which one do you have in mind? Here is a list from Orthodox Wiki; most of them seem to offer vocational training. My remarks are in parenthesis):

        Saint Herman’s Orthodox Theological Seminary – Kodiak, Alaska; Diocese of Alaska in The Orthodox Church in America. (Offers a M. Div.)
        – The Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute – Berkeley, California (Offers an MA that allows students to “explore theology and religion”. Not a serious program IMHO)
        St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology – Elk Grove, California; Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (Offers a “Correspondence Study Program;” again not at the same level as SVOTS).
        St. Sava’s Serbian Orthodox Seminary – Libertyville, Illinois. (Offers a Bachelor of Divinity Degree and appears to be a priest training program for the Serbian Diocese).
        Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology – Brookline, Massachusetts; Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. (Has variety of degrees, all requiring students to have a bachelor’s degree. The M. Div. degree takes three years (four for those students who do not already know Greek and seems designed to produce parish priests). All in all, Holy Cross may be considered as an alternative to SVOTS)
        – St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary – South Bound Brook, New Jersey (M. Div. degree offered for 4-year college graduates. Seems to have a very heavy emphasis on all things Ukrainian)
        – Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary – Crestwood, New York; Orthodox Church in America (The same menu of Masters level degrees as Holy Cross, plus a doctorate degree–the only one in the Americas. SVOTS is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and has cooperative agreements with foreign theological seminaries, such as Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University of Bucharest and the Faculty of Orthodox Theology at the University of Belgrade.)
        – Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary – Jordanville, New York; Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (Offers a five-year program of study leading to the degree of Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.); seems to be a nice vocational training schools for ROCOR)
        – Christ the Saviour Carpatho-Russian Seminary – Johnstown, Pennsylvania; American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese (Similar to Holy Trinity)
        – Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary – South Canaan, Pennsylvania; The Orthodox Church in America (Similar to St Hermans’)

        I cannot see a valid alternative to SVOTS. Surely, you cannot be serious in suggesting vocational training programs, such as Holy Trinity.

        • Personally, I would suggest Jordanville, St. Savas’ or someplace abroad. Can’t speak to the Antiochian program. I considered both when I investigated the possibility of the priesthood earlier in life. Both the Serbs and the Russian Church Abroad are solid traditionalists, from my experience. The attraction of the Serbian Church for me was the fact that they do Byzantine chant, which I love to sing in Greek and Slavonic. I had to admit that I’m a hunter/warrior (at least in this fallen world) more than a lover and so I let all that go.

          I heard the comment about not being able to call an ecumenical council from two OCA priests, so I’m not too confident that SVS teaches them the faith. I’ve heard that St. Tikhon’s is good for learning the pastoral role but less into academia than SVS, which is probably a plus. The Greek seminary, well, their faculty signed on to the Phanar’s propaganda regarding canon 28 of the IVth council, and I’ve heard any number of questionable things. Yet some of the younger clergy seem to be moving toward Tradition despite it all.

          So long as you stay rooted in the Church Fathers and Sacred Tradition, you can get a good education in any number of places. Yet if a person emerges and doesn’t even know that the Orthodox Church is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church which, if need be, could gather in a Great and Holy Synod to settle a disagreement of faith afflicting the Church, then of what value was their seminary education? I mean, being able to identify The Church, the Pillar and Ground of Truth, would seem to be pretty basic to me – Ecclesiology 101. Yet it vexes some “great academic minds”. Slava Bogu that doctrine is not the purview of the academics but of those ascetics who have attained some degree of theosis through noetic prayer and thus are true, experienced theologians. That is the Achilles heel of this upcoming shindig, it is basically an exposition for modernist academics to which true theologians are increasingly taking exception. Bulgaria just pulled out entirely.

        • SVOTS is a bit too interested in worldly praise these days. Met. Philip may have been wise to pull out all the Antiochian seminarians some years ago.

  9. Michael Kinsey says

    Crete is the facts on the ground place, where the banks took 90% of every depositor’s money when the nation went bankrupt. They got away with it. As the next 2008 type global financial collapse is an absolute certainty,. perhaps, he is gathering his bishops together to point out to them, how to retain the RCC’s unmatched wealth, as the bankers and stock holders in the banks did in Crete. The technique of just keeping doubt and a small hope in the minds of all his critics, is working fine apparently. He is a very clever, shrewd, slick, deceitful pimp for the great whore. The New World Order means the mark of the beast, and the 1% ers are giving him his marching orders. He is saying we need a New World Order in his speeches. What he is not saying is that the collapse is unavoidable, and the only solution acceptable to the RCC is world spiritual dominance (ecumenism) with all the RCC’s wealth intact. But, this sly little Jesuit apparently doesn’t read the Holy Scriptures. As it says, antichrist is thrown in the hell fire where the beast and the false prophet (already) are. The Western NWO vision may be destroyed by an Eastern Vision, which is atheist. What this says to me is the RCC does not survive the economic collapse or WWIII. Nostradamus was occult as well as the Malichi list of popes. But, the occult’s do have some accurate hits. 1999 can be decoded as 9,1,11 the exact date of the WTC attack. The under-standers of dark sentences planned the attack for that date, thinking , this is when the demons say they will be successful. As HW Bush, says,” and we will be.”

    • Joseph I. says

      There is Crete and there is Cyprus….. get a map! Or let Nostradamus decide…

    • Until Abp. Jorge Bergoglio was elevated to the Papacy in Rome, my acquaintance with (just a few!) Jesuits revealed them to be men of intellectual rigor. Their students, at Jesuit-controlled high schools, were commendably articulate and could marshall arguments for either side of a debate proposition quite convincingly.
      All of this to indicate my complete bewilderment with Abp. Bergoglio’s failure to engage “correctly” with Islam, to take it at its own face value.
      Watching him in action, one might think he had been kidnapped off the streets of Buenos Aires and thrown willy-nilly into a seminary without any intellectual training whatsoever, much less a conviction that Christianity is a salvatory moral and intellectual structure, to be defended against even the Gates of Hell.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        There have been many great Jesuit intellectuals and teachers. Jesuit high schools and colleges all over America are of the highest standard. I have many, many colleagues and friends who are the products of Jesuit education.

        But to say that their history within the Roman Catholic Church has been checkered is an understatement. They have never been accountable to any bishop. I have heard them express disdain for local bishops, from whom they are completely independent. In the modern era, they have led the most secularist and worldly trends within the Roman church.

        That church had always had the sense to never elect a Jesuit as Pope. To finally have done so, and a South American Jesuit at that, is a wondrous folly.

        • “…the Society of Jesus can no longer produce abundant fruits. … after a mature deliberation, we do, out of our certain knowledge, and the fullness of our apostolical power, suppress and abolish the said society: we deprive it of all activity whatever … the name of the Socity shall be, and is, forever extinguished and suppressed.” — Clement XIV (1773)

          Forever isn’t what it used to be.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Not to belabour the point, Mr. Mortis’s, but I hold a graduate degree in Bioethics from a Jesuit university, at the time the only non-Jesuit priest in the program, whose faculty were staunch defenders of the sanctity of life at its inception and it’s conclusion. Likewise, their knowledge and insight into the moral dilemmas posed by the emerging medical and genetic fields was, far and away, years ahead of the Orthodox. At a time when limousines transported ultra-wealthy patients to clinics with doormen on 5th Avenue for in-vitro fertilization, it was the Jesuits who discovered the fact that fertilized ova were “discarded” in lieu of gender preference selection, and yet others were discarded because the “mission was accomplished.” They stood in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and declared it the everyday “abortion” that it was. I never went to see the Robert DeNiro film about their travesties in South America, and who’s pimping who, I suppose. I, for one, do not regret a day in that program. Some will be happy to know, however, that I never prayed with them, nor attended graduation – which was not intentional – which probably would have involved praying with them.. (That’s a joke Mr. Mortis’s!) And so it goes…

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            My generalizations are of course just that. The Orthodox should only have a tiny fraction of the universities and high schools the Jesuits have founded in this country!

            But in this city, and countless others, if you’re a Catholic who doesn’t want to be too constrained by the traditional faith, you attend the Jesuit church, not the diocesan parish ones…..Among other things, you get that cachet of the “deeper”, “intellectual” understanding…..

  10. George,

    Not to change gears on you but I just saw the latest OCA posting about St. Vladimir’s seminary and would like your take on it. I got the latest annual report from the seminary a few months ago and they lost a massive amount of money this past year. Clearly, there are some major financial issues. It’s interesting to note the desire to have a CEO that everyone reports to (including the dean). Was this a power struggle? It looks like the old plan of co-leaders with Fr. Chad and Fr. John didn’t work out so well.

    Another interesting observation is the goal to reduce salaries by 50%. So much for a great education. They are going to be left with a very small number of full-time faculty and large number of adjunct, lower level, faculty. And last year they blew through almost their entire cash reserves of over $300,000.

    I mean no offense but am just stating the obvious, the last few years at the seminary have been a financial disaster. I’m curious as well why are they are shifting the CEO and Dean around instead of looking for a new CFO. It doesn’t make much sense.

    • George,

      You may very well be right. The plan of having co-CEO/Dean at the seminary was a stupid idea from the get go. Whoever thought it would work should have been fired. Almost all institutions today have a head person because when the trouble comes, people want to know who, exactly, is in charge. Unfortunately St. Vlad’s made a terrible mistake.

      I have absolutely no inside knowledge but I suspect there must have been some level of conflict between the dean and the CEO. Incidentally, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Fr. Chad, a former dean of a seminary in Alaska with what ten students? vs. an Oxford educated PhD professor. Which do you think the seminary is going to choose as it’s head? Knowing the OCA, they will choose the former dean of St. Herman’s seminary.

      I also got the annual report and the financial statement that was included in the “Tell me a story” was an ugly story. The seminary is in a world of hurt. Some things have fundamentally changed since the days of Fr. Schmemann and Fr. Meyendorff. Again, I have no first hand knowledge, but the financial report says that unless things change really soon, there is going to be either a consolidation with St. Tikhon’s and/or some prime real estate available for sale in Crestwood, NY.

      • Nick says, “Which do you think the seminary is going to choose as it’s head? Knowing the OCA, they will choose the former dean of St. Herman’s seminary.”

        Neither having a PhD from Oxford, nor being a former missionary and small seminary dean serve to make one an effective leader or administrator. Both are fine men. Perhaps one of them should be in charge or perhaps someone else altogether. I don’t know, but I doubt Nick does either.

  11. Michael Bauman says

    May be wrong but it seems to me that the Pope is THE Catholic. Whomever the Pope is gets to set the standard for everybody else.

    • Yes, Michael. I have said for decades that the RCC is just one bad pope away from becoming the Episcopal Church. Methinks they’ve found him.

      • I follow some Catholic blogs and from what I see, that may be the case.

        This Amoris Laetitia is a complete disaster. People are blowing off their annulment tribunals and cohabiting, contracting illicit marriages, and more. They claim that the Pope is okay with it, so it doesn’t matter what they do.

        Frankly I don’t know how it is that more Catholics aren’t sedevacantist.

        • This is what makes it nauseating that some Orthodox are taking Vatican II to be a model for the upcoming council. Why not just convert to Episcopalianism? Here’s why: It’s not good enough to apostacize on ones own, one must drag the rest down as well. The rest, you see, are a threat to ones guilty conscience and ones ideological dominance. All gods are jealous gods.

          • BTW, for those who have lost faith that the ROC is righting itself, you may want to look at where the patriarch and president of Russia have been in the last few days.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Now that you are pursuing research, you need to start thinking in terms of measurable signs of “righting itself,” when the church aligns itself with the secular government and it’s enterprises. If your comment was directed at “naysayers,” I believe the words of my colleague from Nigeria, via the London Infirmary, rings true: “The test of the pudding is in the tasting,” though I am the first to admit his puddings were always a starchy business beaten out of some odd root or another. For myself, a simple correlation with a drop in the rate of medical abortions would be a nice start.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Let me suggest to you this: a single, dated, random article found on the internet used to reach a conclusion of “denial” is something I would not allow one of my 3rd year undergraduate students to attempt to sneak by as “compelling.” Therefore, a competent researcher would draw two conclusions: 1) Is there more recent data that contradicts what is being offered here – but more importantly – 2) even if there was a reduction, does it remain the single highest rate of medical abortions of any country in the world, “Et pour montrer sa belle voix, Il ouvre un large bec, laisse tomber sa proie!” Oh my! It is so embarrassing when that happens…

                  Seriously, Misha, researchers must be predictive, for heaven’s sake, and all it would have taken was 53 seconds. Now, do you honestly imagine I don’t know exactly where to find the most recent data regarding the epidemiology of surgical abortion and the state of contraception in Russia? You bet I do. And do I plan to share this information with you? You bet I will not. And why? Because I have actually earned the privilege not to serve as your research assistant, and the respect to not suffer your insult.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Dr S, I’m coming to Misha’s defense here. The very fact that the RF is even aligning itself with the Church and passing legislation based on Christian principles is the point here. We’ve gone so far off the civilisational rails that even a the pro-life Republican governor of the fire-engine red state of Oklahoma recently vetoed a bill that would have criminalized many abortions (To say nothing about the recent imperial diktat allowing horny young boys the opportunity to take showers in girl’s locker rooms in every school in our nation.)

                    In retrospect that that detestable Madeline Murray O’Hair won her lawsuit against school prayer fifty years ago. If we still had it we’d be praying to Satan right about now –or perhaps Moloch or Baal and our high school pep rallies would be full-blown orgies.

                  • Ummmm . . . MS, was the article erroneous in its relation of the data? If so, how exactly? If not, go fish.

                    And really, I don’t need your help to find anything. I take your word for nothing. Certainly not about the future. That is difficult enough to predict for anyone and trend projection is sort of an engine of pop fallacies. You take all of this stuff way too personally. What has already occured is a precipitous decline. What may happen is a matter of conjecture, which is a political opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Everyone is not entitled to their own facts.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Holy Cow! The two of yez! As the God-fearing Irish grandmother who assumed the phones in the small office I was assigned in Westchester Co. in 1983 would say (as she calmly enjoyed what New Yorkers refer to as a “lite & sweet coffee with a buttered hard roll” as she read the “Irish sports page,” the Obits from the daily Irish Times): “Would you boys jump into my grave as fast?”

                      Facts is facts, however you wish to present them. OK’s law would have failed at the first appeal, and cost a ton of money in subsequent appeals that would have likewise proven futile. Moral victory follows moral authority, Mr. Michalopulos, and until you/we have “people of muscle” (attribution to Fr. Alexander) – not quack – we will never succeed. Misha, I would argue the precision of the science of epidemiology in regard to predicting future trends of surgical abortion, abortion as the primary form of contraception, and contraception other than abortion in any modern country in the world, except the former Soviet Block. In the comments following this article, the discussion of the Soviet Union as being “pioneers” of abortion rights since the 1920’s is exactly what was presented by Russian historical epidemiologists I heard speak last year: in his “tenure,” Stalin encouraged, rewarded, and – surprise, surprise – brutally punished those who did not utilize the abortion system, only to reverse himself later and encouraged, rewarded, and – surprise, surprise – brutally punished those who did when the birth rate fell. As I have insisted for months, the WHO, amoung others, refers to the official Russian data regarding medical abortion as “notoriously unreliable.” To conclude here, let me be especially clear for you and Mr. Michalopulos – who I admire, in fact, for stepping into this “joust” – that I am acutely aware of your right to an opinion, and will lose not a moment of sleep nor mirth (that was intended for CY) if you ain’t buyin’ my trype (sic) (attribution, him who shall not be named). What you have failed to do, however, is establish any correlation between the ROC with any “precipitous decline” in the rate of medical abortion as a measurable sign of “righting itself.” And them is the facts.

    • @Michael Bauman: That’s correct.
      According to the doctrine of papal infallibility, proclaimed at the First Vatican Council in 1869-70 during the pontificate of Pius IX, the pope is “preserved from the possibility of error ‘When, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church’ ” ( with church sources referenced there).
      So, yes, the pope *can* define Roman Catholic doctrine as he wishes, and there is no override mechanism by the people like there was in Orthodoxy when St. Mark of Ephesus was the lone hold-out against the agreement of the Council of Florence until its contents were revealed to the people and THEY were appalled.
      Thus, your suspicion is justified.

      • Michael Bauman says

        It is my impression also that the RCC is a church primarily for clerics and the people are just along for the ride if they want to be. I am sure that is an overstatement, but when Orthodox complain about “clericalism” it is of a much different sort.

        On a political level we are a confederation, the RCC is a monarchy.

        IMO if there is one concept that should be deleted from the Orthodox mind, it is the idea of the synergy between Church and State. If it was ever a real thing, it most certainly is not now. But, the way of the world is ever more centralized government.

        We Orthodox actually seem to take our form of polity from the Hebrews prior to Saul, which if I recall was God’s preference. He gave Israel a King so that they could be “like everyone else”.

        Confederation is messy, it takes a lot of work by all members to keep things headed in the right direction. Most folks, including myself, are lazy when it comes to this type of work. We want someone else to make the decisions. Of course, when they do, me tend to complain.

        Bishops in the Orthodox Church cannot really function unless they are connected in some way to a living parish. To the extent that my bishop, Bishop Basil, is the righteous and effective bishop that many attest to it is in part because he has always been a part of the parish family of St. George Cathedral. He was priest here first, he was consecrated and enthroned here. He himself says that the people of his diocese make it easy for him.

        So we want a good bishop, love him, pray for him, go out of your way to make him a part of the parish, especially the cathedral parish. The cathedra chair is in each temple, make it in your heart as well for as you receive your bishop, you receive Christ and the opposite is true as well.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I couldn’t agree with you more, Michael. Now that the OCA has recentralized itself regarding the selection/election of bishops, it’s up to your jurisdiction to show other Orthodox how it’s done. May y’all keep on doing it this way.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Our bishops seem to come out of the trenches for the most part. They are solid men.

            I don’t know though if a replacement has been name for Met. Joseph in the West however.

            No matter how they are chosen we cannot expect them to be perfect or even that they are all personally up to the job.

            We can always pray for them and find ways to be obedient to Christ in them.

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            How and by whom was Fr Dimtri Royster selected to be a bishop?

  12. Joseph Lipper says

    George why is it so important to pigeonhole everyone as either a traditionalist or progressive? The pharisees were incensed because they couldn’t figure out if Jesus Christ was a traditionalist or progressive. The fact of the matter is that historically some of the most “traditionalist” churches have been in schism with Orthodoxy…think of the Old Believers, Old Calendarists, and etc.

    If the Roman Catholic church became hyper traditionalist in some way, but still stood firm in schism with Orthodoxy, of what benefit would that be to the Orthodox Church?

    • Joseph,

      It is almost a motto with me, “No enemies toward tradition.” There is a reason for this. You may not know it, but many of the Old Believers have been reconciled to the ROC and, to a certain extent, some of what they asserted has been vindicated. As to the Old Calendarists, and setting aside certain peculiarities that have developed in some of their jurisdictions, they are correct on every issue except whether the uncanonical adoption of the New Calendar constitutes a justification for schism – that conviction, and that some of them believe that the churches in communion with the New Calendarists lack grace, are their only faults. We know this to be true because they are simply doing what all Greek Orthodox did before the adoption of the New Calendar. The burden of proof is upon the one who changes.

      Faith speaks to faith. Faith has a harder time with secularism. That is why the evil one invented it. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.

      An Orthodox traditionalist and a Traditio Catholic would understand each other perfectly when they spoke about “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”. They would each give the locus of that church as their own, of course. But there would not be any confusion about the exclusivity of the concept. Nor would we be arguing about the solidity or fluidity of the Immaculate Conception, Created Grace, Papal Infallibility, or any of their other doctrines. They would either stand or fall, not linger impotently.

      One can argue with falsity because it takes a firm stand. Secular progressivism is simply a nebulous acid, a sickness of the soul.

      • Joseph Lipper says


        Some of the fiercest battles against Orthodoxy have been waged by “traditionalists”. The early Christians were persecuted by “traditionalist” Judaism. Also, think of the martyrdom of St Maxim Sandovich who died resisting the Roman Catholic church’s political battle on Orthodoxy, a battle that was done under the guise of a common Eastern Rite “tradition”. Think of the “traditionalist” muslims who are even now killing Christians. It would appear that the more traditional Islam becomes, the more hostile it becomes to Christianity. Some traditions are just flat out dangerous to Orthodoxy.

        Yes some of the Old Believers and Old Calendarists have reunited with Orthodoxy, and some have even been vindicated, but unfortunately they are now being branded as heretical “progressives” by those remaining “traditionalist” Old Believers and Old Calendarists who still remain in schism.

        • Joseph,

          Was there any point to the above besides obfuscation?


            Fr. Peter Heers traces the history of the upcoming council from the first preparatory steps taken just after the announcement of the Vatican II. Interesting reading.

            “While the domination of academic theologians in the West at the Second Vatican Council cannot be considered either a break with past practice or particularly problematic (indeed it is hailed as a great and positive contribution), for the Orthodox, for whom a theologian is one who prays, to have academic theologians guiding the bishops is an apostasy from Orthodox epistemology and a sign that Barlaamism has once again raised its deluded head. We must not forget that at every turn in the history of the Councils at which orthodoxy was proclaimed “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit” and to ascetic bishops—not to philosophizing scholastics who had no relation to neptic (νηπτική) theology and practice. ”

            PS: The Athonite fathers appear to have spoken and sent an extensive letter to Pat. Bartholomew:


            It’s in Greek but Fr. Peter has a summary posted:


            That really should be enough for fair-minded people.

          • Joseph I. says

            Misha, There was no obfuscation, but pointing to facts. Cyprus was the place of the banking crime. It is an independent nation. Crete is Greece’s biggest island and has nothing to do with that banking crisis. However, it suffers as part of Greece’s crisis and that of the EU.

            And citing Nostradamus as a source, please….

            I have stopped posting here, but keep reading. I like most of what you say, btw.

            • Nostradamus? I thought it was just something I heard in a movie once. Interesting.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Good question, Joseph Lipper! Maybe a Pope who doesn’t noisily declare that “the Greek Church” is in error is a disappointment somehow?

      • If it were being said on the grounds that “the Greek Church” has maintained the fidelity of the Faith better than the Roman Church, it would be wonderful.

        But insofar as Pope “perhaps my teachings are heresy, I don’t know” Francis does not have much concern over dogma, his relaxation of Latin policy towards us does not signal a return to truth.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Joseph–The division into progressives and traditionalists is narrow and unwieldy. For one thing, as I discussed in another thread, there are two kinds of traditionalists: (1) those who stress the tradition of the Apostolic Era and (2) those who like later traditions, based on a quasi-Roman Catholic approach. Progressives also may be more than one kind, depending on their motivation; (1) those who believe that Orthodoxy is mired in a past and foreign culture and thus must adapt to the modern age and (2) those who want to make Orthodoxy more accessible to modern man with only cosmetic changes that do not affect basic beliefs. I will illustrate them by using two relatively recent developments; the frequency of lay reception of the Eucharist and the issue of gays in the Church.

      Frequent communion was championed by the first kind of traditionalists, but was criticized as innovation by the second kind. I am the first kind of traditionalist, you wil find others who belong to the second camp; I guess that is why having several jurisdictions to choose from is a blessing. But, this is confusing and perhaps we could call the second kind traditionalists as something else, perhaps “reactionaries” ?

      As for gays in the church, there are folks who are deadly afraid of the possible evolution of Orthodoxy into something like ECUSA and are therefore intolerant of any attempt to help gay people overcome any temptation to act upon their sexuality (you will many of them on this blog). Those who point out the need for addressing this issue in a pastoral way are progressive in my opinion. However, there are indeed a few folks in the Church who would like the Church to accept homosexual activity and same-sex marriages in order to accommodate the “spirit of the age;”that is, to no longer be an Orthodox Church. Similarly, in this camp would be those who support abortion and do nothing against members who hold public positions and vote for pro-choice or abortion-enabling legislation, as well as those who shy from criticizing co-habitation. To call these folks “progressive” would be an insult to the plain meaning of the word. I cannot think of an appellation right now without betraying my conservative political beliefs. However, I do have a good word for those who oppose the first kind of progressives: reactionaries. I hope this helps.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Good points, Karl. Which is why I believe it all becomes simpler when one simply proclaims fealty to the Gospel. It’s very refreshing and makes it a whole lot easier to understand the mind of the Church when one’s beliefs and actions are in conformity with the Gospel.

        In my humble opinion, those who call themselves “traditionalists” (as I do on occasion) should perhaps dust off the the old invective “fundamentalist” and “own it.” All it really means is that you agree with the fundamentals of the Faith. If nothing else, it saves one from going off the rails into casuistry (or Jesuitical over-analysis/Talmudism/what-have-you) and trying to re-engineer the wheel to justify the latest whim of the moment.

  13. Michael Kinsey says

    John Marshall is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which has 8 other assoiate justices.When a ruling is called for on any case, all nine of them vote. Subsequently, many times the Chief Justice’s vote is overruled by a majority of the other 8 justices.
    What the pope who dictated the filoque to all others did, was negate all other votes on any issue, claiming it was his right of Primacy. The once united Christian Church, was split in two, because the other 4 Primates were rendered mute, as well as the 7 Ecumenical Consuls.
    Why did the Church hold 7 Ecumenical Consuls, when all that was needed, was a yea or nay from the Pope. This Rock the Church was built on is God’s Revelation to the human heart, inwhich St. Peter did receive. But. 3 or so verses down the chapter the Christ calls St Peter Satan. How anyone who has any reading comprehension can conclude that St Peter and all his following popes, are infallible and sole arbiters of authentic Christian dogma and teaching is utterly astonishing to anyone who values the use of his commonsense.
    The RCC has drilled thier people into beleiving the lie of the Vicorshp of Christ, they claim, he proclaims the buck always stops at the Popes. A decietful powere grab by apostate christians to enable them to become the richest institution on the planet.
    The RCC now is championing itself as world religion ruler, frist over all religions. Still, many faithful are in the RCC, but among the lowly common people. These do beleive in Jesus Christ truely, as do some Protestants. The false droctrines, usually are ignored by a good and honest heart. These bring forth fruits of the Holy Spirit. These have works and fruits. Orthodoxy which has maintain authentic apostolic teachings needs to recognize that the Holy Spirit goes where It will, and does appear in many surprising places and people. Can anything good come out of Nazarth? You bet it can!!

    • Michael Bauman says

      Your Grace, if you think that the Papal solution to reunion is anything other than submission to the Pope, you are likely deeply mistaken. Just because that position is lurking behind the tapestries does not make it any less deadly.

    • I’m pleased to read that the Roman Catholic Church is still “the richest institution on the planet.”
      This means that they *may* have the resources to pay damages to every man and woman assaulted and/or abused by a priest so that that man or woman can afford effective counselling and fashion a productive life for him/herself.
      It appears that no one in the upper hierarchy of the RCC has clean hands on this vast wrong, so (if the Holy Spirit so moved them) there could possibly be multiple instances of “seeking truth” in monasteries in prayer.
      But this, of course, assumes that those responsible for covering up the great sins can still HEAR/FEEL the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
      Those riches can be used for much good to many deserving/wronged people.

  14. Michael Bauman says

    It is easy when one is immersed in an ideological way of evaluating the world to see nothing but other competing ideologies.

    Any word that ends with is probably not an accurate description of reality.

    Living in the Tradition demands a great deal of humility and flexibility something that no ideology has.

  15. Thomas Barker says

    The Vatican is Lucifer’s embassy on Earth and the Pope is an ambassador from Hell. The Roman Curia exists to promote homosexuality, to protect pedophiles across the globe and to prepare the world to worship the evil one. Bergoglio the Bumbler is actually a cunning narcissist who sows chaos in order to destroy the last vestiges of conservative Catholic belief. Why the cult of the Latins is afforded such a surfeit of respect leaves me nonplussed.

    • Monk James says

      In spite of all of Vaticanism’s errors, this seems a bit extreme.

      I mean, it’s not like we don’t have thieves and liars and sexual perverts among us Orthodox, even in the clergy, even in the episcopate.

      It’s just that we don’t pretend to report to any king of the christian world except to Jesus Christ Himself, and we rely on our bishops to help us ‘work out our salvation in fear and trembling’ just as our bishops must rely on us in a completely mutual relationship as members of the Body of Christ.

      After all, to whom does a bishop go for a blessing?

      • Serious question from ignorant convert please Monk James: does the bishop go to his spiritual father?

        • Monk James says

          Nicole says: May 31, 2016 at 12:56 pm
          Serious question from ignorant convert please Monk James: does the bishop go to his spiritual father?
          Yes, among other people. Someone must witness our confessions, even those of the bishops, and confer absolution/eucharistic re-instatement — or not.

          Although this is now merely a vestigial remnant of the principle, when a man is about to be ordained, he makes three prostrations, one of which is toward the assembly as the deacon says (plural in Greek) ‘Give the command!’ It’s only after asking/receiving the people’s approval that the bishop proceeds with the ordination. Although it’s technically possible for the people to object at this point, they usually don’t, mistakenly reserving their shouts of anaxios ( ‘unworthy!’) for later in the service after the ordination is already accomplished.

          The difference between ‘power’ and ‘authority’ is that ‘power’ is usually taken, arrogated by a person or a group themselves, often violently, and usually resented by those over whom such power is exercised. On the other hand, ‘authority’ is usually conceded by people to those who will wield such authority over them benevolently and constructively. It is authority which we respect in our bishops, not power, yet it sometimes becomes necessary for people to reject the authority of the bishops, as history well attests, even in our own time.

          BTW: Ignorance isn’t so bad. After all, it’s curable with some education , pace Alexander Pope. It’s just so disappointing when we can’t admit how much we really don’t know, and ask for the help which is always so easily forthcoming, even to and from the bishops.

          ‘Bear each others’ burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.’ GAL 6:2

          • M. Stankovich says

            It is authority which we respect in our bishops, not power, yet it sometimes becomes necessary for people to reject the authority of the bishops, as history well attests, even in our own time.

            It strikes me that if Priest Robert Arida had made this statement, people would have fallen over themselves, wildly speculating as to whom we must necessarily reject “even in our own time.” Unfortunately for Priest Robert Arida, self-righteousness, downwind, smells exactly like faggotry.

            This whole business, I believe, was definitively settled by the Lord Himself as He sat before Pilot: “You would not have authority [ἐξουσίαν] against me were it not given to you from above.” (Jn. 19:11) What we are doing in our demonstration of respect is to “subject [ourselves] to the Bishop as to Jesus Christ… [and] not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us (Ignatius to the Trallians, PG 5, ch. 2.). How complicated could it be? Is St. Ignatius instructing us to “get in line and march?” Certainly not. But I personally don’t recall anyone here who did not reasonably believe themselves less competent or lacking in “piety” or personal sanctity to go digging around in any Bishop’s business. Whatever… That bears repeating: whatever

            “But above all things, my brothers, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yes be yes; and your no, no; lest you fall into condemnation.” (Jm. 5:12, cf. Matt. 5:37) You saw that coming.

        • Yes, Nicole. Everyone should have a spiritual father if he or she is actively engaged in theosis. Now, there may be a small handfull, or even just one, on earth who have attained a state which no others have and so have God Himself as a spiritual Father. But we are talking about a number of people you can probably count on both hands, maybe just one.

          The reason is that as one advances on the ‘stairway to heaven”, so to speak, one can hit pockets where one rises in consciousness very quickly and this can disturb and confuse the podvizhnik (the one who undertakes the theotic course). So even if a person is resolute in their commitment to an Orthodox mindset and thus will reject heresy and the logismoi as they present themselves, nonetheless, it is better to have a guide.

          For example, Patriarch Kirill has a confessor and spiritual guide.

          • I know that many Orthodox in different countries and at different stations on the hierarchy, so to speak, read Monomakhos. George has done a great thing here, as well as a fallible human being can be expected to do. We should all give him a hand for hosting all us crazies.

            Now, never let it be said that we are above constructive criticism. In that vein, I have a few suggestions regarding the council:

            1. Make it open to all bishops of the Orthodox Church, give them time to get to Crete.

            2. Re-establish the protos at Jerusalem. Who sits there is up to the council, Theophilos or whoever. But put the first among equals at the holiest ground on Earth: the place where the Firstborn emerged from the tomb.

            3. Return everyone to the Church Calendar. Time is short. It’s already established and after a short time we won’t be looking at calendars anymore anyway.

            4. Reaffirm the theology of St. Gregory Palamas and the position of St. Photios. These are important, both of them. Read Lossky if you don’t understand why but do so under spiritual direction. He’s deep.

            5. Officially adopt Apocatastasis as taught by St. Gregory of Nyssa as a theologoumenon.

            6. Prepare for mission work to Secular Humanists, Heterodox, Muslims, Chinese Buddhist/Taoists, Hindus, etc. – essentially everyone outside the Church. Find the similarities and explain how Orthodoxy is a completion of their incomplete faiths. Explain that humans have sought after God and God has reached out to humanity and that their faiths reflect this; however, in order to deify man, God had to become Man. That way, humanity in all its depth could be saved and humanity could remember the Divine Metaphysic as communicated by Orthodoxy in the Eucharist. Everything else ended up garbled. Receive everyone with baptism or however the bishops direct, but make clear that the Grace of the Mysteries does not operate outside the Church. There is no valid heterodox baptism or any other mystery.

            7. With all due respect to Western Christianity, explain to them that they have wandered from the flock and are welcome back. We want intercommunion so much that we will patiently explain ourselves for as long as it takes for them to fully understand and accept and assimilate the Truth. But we can’t betray it. That’s not written anywhere.

            And relax, because we may be in for a rough ride . . .

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              I think you need to explain number 5 as this teaching was officially declared a heresy and condemned by St. Photios the Great.

              • Peter,

                First, it is entirely possible that the 5th EC did not actually condemn any form of apocatastasis:


                However, what may or may not have been condemned by a Council was a type of circular apocatastasis (“restoration”) which the Origenists had come to teach, many centuries after Origen, who got mixed reviews from the Fathers before the condemnation. It is unclear even to what extent Origen held the particulars of the teaching which was condemned, but my purpose is not to rehabilitate the man. I am entirely satisfied that circular apocatastasis is heretical. Part of the teaching condemned by the controversial anathemas had to do with souls having been created long before their incarnation in humans (pre-existent logikoi). This is a strange twisting of Orthodox cosmology.


                “The first of the fifteen anathemas directed against him states: ‘If anyone maintains the mythical preexistence of souls, and the monstrous
                apocatastasis that follows from this, let him be anathema.’ 8 This seems entirely explicit and definite: belief in a final ‘restoration’ (apocatastasis)
                of all things and all persons—belief in universal salvation, not excluding that of the devil—has apparently been ruled out as heretical in a formal decision by what is for the Orthodox Church the highest visible authority in matters of doctrine, an Ecumenical Council.

                There is, however, considerable doubt whether these fifteen anathemas were in fact formally approved by the Fifth Ecumenical Council. They may have been endorsed by a lesser council, meeting in the early months of 553 shortly before the main council was convened, in which case they lack full ecumenical authority; yet, even so, the Fathers of the Fifth Council were well aware of these fifteen anathemas and had no intention of revoking or modifying them. 9 Apart from that, however, the precise wording of the first anathema deserves to be carefully noted. It does not speak only about
                apocatastasis but links together two aspects of Origen’s theology: first, his speculations about the beginning, that is to say, about [p.200] the preexistence of souls and the precosmic fall; second, his teaching about the end, about universal salvation and the ultimate reconciliation of all things. Origen’s eschatology is seen as following directly from his protology, and both are rejected together.

                That the first of the fifteen anathemas should condemn protology and eschatology in the same sentence is entirely understandable, for in Origen’s thinking the two form an integral unity. At the beginning, so he believed, there was a realm of logikoi or rational intellects (noes) existing prior to the creation of the material world as minds without a body. Originally all these logikoi were joined in perfect union with the Creator Logos. Then followed the precosmic fall. With the exception of one
                logikos (which became the human soul of Christ), all the other logikoi turned away from the Logos and became, depending on the gravity of their deviation, either angels or human beings or demons. In each case they were given bodies appropriate to the seriousness of their fall: light-weight and ethereal in the case of angels; dark and hideous in the case of demons; intermediate in the case of human beings. At the end, so Origen maintained, this process of fragmentation will be reversed. All alike, whether angels, human beings, or demons, will be restored to unity with the Logos; the primal harmony of the total creation will be reinstated, and once more ‘God will be all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28). Origen’s view is in this way circular in character: the end will be as the beginning.”

                But Met. Kallistos goes on to describe how other saints, in particular St. Gregory of Nyssa, openly held to an apocatastatic eschatology and were never condemned for it. The problem seems to have lie in the protology, not the eschatology. The restoration being monstrous because the proposed earlier disintegration was fiction.

                Met. Kallistos’ case is largely based on St. Gregory Nyssa and a few others. The distinction between what they believed and taught and what Origenists taught is thus decisive. Moreover, apocatastasis, even it its “Nyssian” form, is not a doctrine of the Church. At most, it could be a theologoumenon. But there is good reason to make it so.

                Consider the main objections offered to the possibility that all humans might in the end be saved (I will set aside the devil and demons for the moment). The first has to do with free will. The second with divine justice. Neither are good reasons to maintain that some human or humans must necessarily be condemned to hell. Here’s why:

                I will not replay the whole history of the debates regard free will vs. determinism which have gone on over the centuries. I am no Calvinist and I do not believe in Calvinistic predestination.

                Human free will is a fact and a gift from God. Yet it in no way affects or limits His omniscience. Just because it is an open question to us what we will do next does not mean that God does not know what that will be. Prophecy would be impossible were that not the case. If the future were unknowable to God, how could it be revealed to the prophets? Quite simply, like the problem of evil, it is something which in our present state we simply cannot fathom because of the limitations imposed on our own understanding by virtue of our mortal, time-bound humanity.

                Yet determinism is not necessary for a universalist resolution in any case. Even if God did not know what human beings would do, he certainly would know what we are capable of and what types of decisions we would not knowingly make. One of those decisions, I dare say, is that if we are presented with a fully informed choice of destinies, all being crystal clear, we would not choose eternal torment and separation from God. We are not built that way.

                I simply believe we will be presented with the entire body of relevant information and fully functional faculties with which to decide; i.e., not a decision under duress or entrapment.

                Second, the problem of justice. This actually is the strongest reason I believe that a Nyssian apocatastasis is not only possible, but likely:

                Tell me a crime that deserves, as punishment, the eternal torture of a person, body and soul, as much as they can take and even then some, forever and without end.

                Honestly death, even a violent death, is enough punishment for any crime. And God certainly has imposed and exacted that from us all already. No one here gets out alive except some in the last generation before the Second Coming.

                Understand, I’m not saying God is a softie. Far from it. There may be a “cry room” in the next world where, confronted with all of our hellish, selfish misdeeds, we weep and gnash teeth in the worst of all temporal torments of self flagellation. I could see that. The type of trauma which sometimes affects us in this world but more intense because we might experience for all things left in our guilty consciences.

                And consider all the hardships, suffering and eventual death we experience and countless generation have experienced under very challenging circumstances. That is all real. All the death and suffering we know about. No, God is not a softie. The buck stops with Him.

                Yet consider some of the worst monsters of history – Hitler or Stalin, for example. What do they deserve? One could say that they deserve punishment, certainly. How long and how intense? Well, “millions of souls worth.” might be the natural reply. Enough to compare with the suffering and death that they inflicted on others.

                Fair enough.

                But Hitler is one person. Stalin is one person. Did they really inflict the suffering of millions upon one person? No. Only one person ever experienced all the suffering and death that a single person could experience. I’m not being cagey here, just accurate. There is no such thing as the collective grief of millions. No aggregate. This is so because suffering and death have to be experienced by a sufferer and decedent. And that is always one at a time. This is why you have heard it said and seen it written, “If you kill one man, it is as if you have killed all humanity.”

                I steal a thousand dollars from this man, two thousand from another. That adds up. But suffering has a limit, always. God is merciful in this regard. He does not let us “feel it all”.

                And that is why I doubt He will condemn anyone to eternal hell: Because it would be unjust to do so. And He is, above all, just.

                “Will not the Judge of all the world do right?”

                Ultimately, we must all admit that we are speculating about a judgment that Christ will make for each of us on that Last Day. The decision has not been made yet. That is the thing which vexes us. What I am suggesting, and all I am suggesting, is that Christ’s hands are not tied; i.e., there is actually a decision to be made and that even for the worst of us (truly “the least of these”, utterly impoverished by heavenly standards with little or no treasure stored up there) it is up to Him.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  The Response of Fr. John Whiteford on the continued heresy of Universalism.
                  Question: “Is the teaching that ultimately all men will be saved (the apokatastasis) a heresy, or is it an acceptable theological opinion within the bounds of Orthodoxy?”

                  Origen taught the heretical doctrine of the apokatastasis, that ultimately everyone, even the devil, would be saved. The Church condemned this teaching at the Fifth Ecumenical Council. The Church has ever taught this as a fact since that time. However, in recent times we have had a rebirth of this heresy, and have many who try to argue that the Fifth Ecumenical Council did not condemn this teaching.

                  Did the Fifth Ecumenical Council Anathematize this Heresy?

                  To cite some examples of trustworthy theologians who state this in no uncertain terms, Fr. Michael Pomazansky wrote:

                  “The Church, basing itself on the word of God, acknowledges the torments of gehenna to be eternal and unending, and therefore it condemned at the Fifth Ecumenical Council the false teaching of the Origenists that the demons and impious people would suffer in hell only for a certain definite time, and then would be restored to their original condition of innocence (apokatastasis in Greek). The condemnation at the Universal Judgment is called in the Apocalypse of St. John the Theologian the “second death” (Apoc. 20:14).

                  An attempt to understand the torments of gehenna in a relative sense, to understand eternity as some kind of age or period — perhaps a long one, but one still having an end — was made in antiquity, just as it is made today; this view in general denies the reality of these torments. In this attempt there are brought forward conceptions of a logical kind: the disharmony between such torments and the goodness of God is pointed out, as is the seeming disproportion between crimes that are temporal and the eternity of the punishments for sin, as well as the disharmony between these eternal punishments and the final aim of the creation of man, which is blessedness in God.

                  But it is not for us to define the boundaries between the unutterable mercy of God and His justice or righteousness. We know that the Lord “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4); but man is capable, through his own evil will, of rejecting the mercy of God and the means of salvation. Chrysostom, in interpreting the depiction of the Last Judgment, remarks: “When He (the Lord) spoke about the Kingdom, after saying, ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom,’ He added, ‘which is prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ (Matt. 25:34), but when speaking about the fire, He did not speak thus, but He added: which is ‘prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41). For I have prepared for you a Kingdom, but the fire I have prepared not for you but for the devil and his angels. But since you have cast your own selves into the fire, therefore accuse yourself for this” (Homily 70 on Matthew).

                  We have no right to understand the words of the Lord only conditionally, as a threat or as a certain pedagogical means applied by the Saviour. If we understand it this way we err, since the Saviour does not instill in us any such understanding, and we subject ourselves to God’s wrath according to the word of the Psalmist: “Why hath the ungodly one provoked God? For he hath said in his heart: He will not make enquiry” (Ps. 9:34) (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (Platina, CA: St. Herman Press, 1984, p. 349f).

                  Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) devotes an entire chapter to this subject in his book “Life After Death (Chapter 8 The restoration of all things, pp. 273-312), affirms that this heresy was condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council, and goes to great lengths to make the case that St. Gregory of Nyssa did not in fact teach it, but rather taught that hell (gehenna) and its punishments are unending, and that those who attribute this teaching to him are simply failing to understand them in the context of his complete teachings on the subject. If one rejects the argument that St. Gregory of Nyssa did not teach this doctrine, that would only prove St. Gregory to be in error, because Ecumenical Councils are infallible, whereas no Church Father, as an individual, is. However, it certainly is interesting that in the one instance in which, if he was a universalist, you would expect him to put that on display, St. Gregory of Nyssa not only does not affirm universalism in his treatise on the death of unbaptized infants, but directly refutes it when speaking of Judas as an example of one who died in his sins:

                  “Certainly, in comparison with one who has lived all his life in sin, not only the innocent babe but even one who has never come into the world at all will be blessed. We learn as much too in the case of Judas, from the sentence pronounced upon him in the Gospels; namely, that when we think of such men, that which never existed is to be preferred to that which has existed in such sin. For, as to the latter, on account of the depth of the ingrained evil, the chastisement in the way of purgation will be extended into infinity…” (On Infants’ Early Deaths).

                  Anathemas? What Anathemas?

                  The advocates of Universalism try to argue that, despite the fact that the Church has consistently stated that the Fifth Ecumenical Council anathematized this heresy, that there are reasons to doubt whether the council formally issued the anathemas ascribed to it.

                  St. Justinian issued his anathemas against Origen before the Council, which he convoked, and the last of those anathemas is as follows:

                  “If anyone says or thinks that the punishment of demons and of impious men is only temporary, and will one day have an end, and that a restoration (ἀποκατάστασις) will take place of demons and of impious men, let him be anathema.”

                  The first of the Council’s anathemas states:

                  “If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration (ἀποκατάστασις) which follows from it: let him be anathema.”

                  Now, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that there is some ambiguity about whether or not these anathemas were endorsed by that council. All one has to do to settle the question is to consider the Synodikon of Orthodoxy which is recited every year, throughout the Orthodox Church, on the Sunday of Orthodox (the first Sunday of Lent):

                  “To them who accept and transmit the vain Greek teachings that there is a pre-existence of souls and teach that all things were not produced and did not come into existence out of non-being, that there is an end to the torment or a restoration again of creation and of human affairs, meaning by such teachings that the Kingdom of Heaven is entirely perishable and fleeting, whereas the Kingdom of Heaven is eternal and indissoluble as Christ our God Himself taught and delivered to us, and as we have ascertained from the entire Old and New Testaments, that the torment is unending and the Kingdom everlasting, to them who by such teachings both destroy themselves and become agents of eternal condemnation to others, Anathema! Anathema! Anathema!”

                  Those who advocate for universalism argue that this is only a condemnation of Origen’s universalism, not the universalism supposedly expressed by other Fathers, because they had different theological and philosophical reasons for their universalism. But that is a bit like arguing that the Church hasn’t anathematized Jehovah’s Witness Christology, because they have different theological reasons for denying the divinity of Christ than the Arians did. This anathema states, without equivocation, that “we have ascertained from the entire Old and New Testaments, that the torment is unending and the Kingdom everlasting…” and there is no indication that we would ascertain anything differently if people were universalists because they saw a documentary on the history channel, read pseudo-Isaac’s writings, and agreed with it, or agreed with Origen.

                  Anyone who has ever had an Orthodox thought in their life knows that we believe what we say in the services of the Church (lex orandi lex credendi), and when what we say ends with “Anathema!”, we mean it in no uncertain terms.

                  What Saith the Scriptures?

                  If one believes Christ’s teachings carry any weight, He affirms the unending character of the torments of hell repeatedly:

                  In Mark Chapter Nine, he states that the fires of hell (gehenna) will not be quenched five times, and speaks of the worm that will not die three times:

                  “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell [gehenna], into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:43-48).

                  When Christ speaks of gehenna in these terms, he is probably alluding to Isaiah 66:24: “And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh”; and Judith 16:17: “Woe to the nations that rise up against my people! The Lord Almighty will take vengeance on them in the day of judgment; he will send fire and worms into their flesh; they shall weep in pain forever.”

                  In the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Christ addresses the wicked (the goats) and said: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:26); and he concludes the parable by saying: “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (Matthew 25:46).

                  St. Paul wrote: “since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).

                  Commenting on these verses, St. John Chrysostom wrote:

                  “There are many men, who form good hopes not by abstaining from their sins, but by thinking that hell is not so terrible as it is said to be, but milder than what is threatened, and temporary, not eternal; and about this they philosophize much. But I could show from many reasons, and conclude from the very expressions concerning hell, that it is not only not milder, but much more terrible than is threatened. But I do not now intend to discourse concerning these things. For the fear even from bare words is sufficient, though we do not fully unfold their meaning. But that it is not temporary, hear Paul now saying, concerning those who know not God, and who do not believe in the Gospel, that “they shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction.” How then is that temporary which is everlasting? “From the face of the Lord,” he says. What is this? He here wishes to say how easily it might be. For since they were then much puffed up, there is no need, he says, of much trouble; it is enough that God comes and is seen, and all are involved in punishment and vengeance. His coming only to some indeed will be Light, but to others vengeance” (Homily 3, 2nd Thessalonians).


                  Those who advocate for this heresy are forced to place all their weight on the supposed advocacy of a few saints of the Church, while ignoring the clear and unambiguous teachings of all the other Fathers, the Councils, the Apostles, and even Christ Himself. This is not how Orthodox Christians approach such matters. We affirm that which the Church has consistently taught — we do not go hunting for theological exotica. And if it happens that God has a surprise for us in eternity, and that despite all the talk of the unquenchable fire and the undying worm, He will ultimately save even the devil, then we have nothing to worry about. However, if Christ, the Apostles, the vast majority of the Fathers and saints of Church, the Councils, and the Synodikon of Orthodoxy are correct, then it is a very dangerous thing to give unrepentant sinners false hope — because those who teach such a heresy will “both destroy themselves and become agents of eternal condemnation to others” (the Synodikon of Orthodoxy). This is not a question of what we may wish to be true — it is a question of what Christ, who is Himself the Truth, assures us to be true, in the most emphatic terms.

                  Update: Here is an interesting comment from St. Cyril of Alexandria, on 1 Peter 3:19:

                  “Here Peter answers the question which some objectors have raised, namely, if the incarnation was so beneficial, why was Christ not incarnated for such a long time, given that he went to the spirits which were in prison and preached to them also? In order to deliver all those who would believe, Christ taught those who were alive on earth at the time of his incarnation, and these others acknowledged him when he appeared to them in the lower regions, and thus they too benefited from his coming. Going in his soul, he preached to those who were in hell, appearing to them as one soul to other souls. When the gatekeepers of hell saw him, they fled; the bronze gates were broken open, and the iron chains were undone. And the only-begotten Son shouted with authority to the suffering souls, according to the word of the new covenant, saying to those in chains: “Come out!” and to those in darkness: “Be enlightened.” In other words, he preached to those who were in hell also, so that he might save all those who would believe in him. For both those who were alive on earth during the time of his incarnation and those who were in hell had a chance to acknowledge him. The greater part of the new covenant is beyond nature and tradition, so that while Christ was able to preach to all those who were alive at the time of his appearing and those who believed in him were blessed, so too he was able to liberate those in hell who believed and acknowledged him, by his descent there. However, the souls of those who practiced idolatry and outrageous ungodliness, as well as those who were blinded by fleshly lusts, did not have the power to see him, and they were not delivered.” (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, Gerald Bray, ed. (Downers Grove, IL: Intervasity Press, 2000) p. 107f).

                  by Fr. John Whiteford (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia)

                  • I respectfully disagree, mostly for the reasons that Met. Kallistos raised as well as the arguments regarding free will and justice that I asserted above.

                    However, I would suggest one thing to bear carefully in mind: Those who wish to quash the “heresy” of an eschatological apocatastasis (as opposed to a protological one, which was condemned), at least in the form that I am stating it, are arguing for the necessity of casting a human being into eternal unending torment. “Those of you without sin . . .”

                    Secondly, I have never advocated even eschatological apocatastasis as a doctrine of the Church. It does not have enough support in the Fathers for this. Frankly, what I think has happened is that some form of restoration was a widely assumed opinion early in Church history, but not widely preached because of the obvious possibility of licentious consequences flowing from the idea. Later, some form of Origenism complete with a bunch of heterodox teaching about pre-existent souls was being taught and was explicitly condemned, but I’m not sure with what force.

                    In summary, nothing whatsoever that you have raised calls into question anything I asserted at all. Not only that, but we are still confronted with the unprovable assertion that St. Gregory’s thoughts on the subject were forged and that, if he did hold the opinion in question, that he must be an uncondemned heretic.

                    None of that is plausible. I’m simply not that bloodthirsty. I do believe, obviously, that the following is accurate:

                    Based on scripture and the teachings of some of the Fathers, one may believe not that all necessarily will be saved. That is not true. Rather one may believe that all may be saved if that is the free choice of the Judge on that Day. And I do not presume to make that judgement for Him since I am the worst of all sinners and, as much as anyone, deserve Gehenna, which I do not dispute is, in itself, eternal.

                    Fr. John is a spiritual advisor to me, of sorts. I have never gone to him with this question but I stand by the answer I have written in this post.

                    I should mention something else as well. I did not just throw this in to my 7 suggestions “just for the hell of it”. However, I’m not married to the idea of normalizing it as an acceptable theologoumenon either. If I am right, I will know soon enough, of course.

                    The reason I think it worth mentioning and considering is this: Though I do not know the specific times and dates, I am virtually certain that we are living in the end times. If I had to speculate, I would say that we are no more than 15-25 years from That Day, if that far. Too much is happening that was foretold to happen for this not to be true, IMHO.

                    Given that, I suggest that the Church get its house in order. The 7 suggestions were an effort at ushering it in the right direction. But it is up to the Church as to what it intends to do. It is the pillar and ground of Truth.

                    PS: I copied Fr. John on this. I doubt he wants to get into this conversation, but he might. I thought it was considerate given that his name has been invoked, his views quoted and because I have gone to him for advice from time to time. I can’t say I would necessarily defer on this narrow issue, but I might if he disagreed and stated exactly what he was thinking.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      I think that was a wise move Misha. Even I who believe the EO and OO are saying the same thing in regards to the nature of Jesus Christ and want them to return to the fold, have always insisted that they must accept the 5th Council. End. Period. Full stop.

                      Once Fr. John points out your reliance on heresy and that even Bishop Ware says and supports things that are not Orthodox you too will come back into the fullness of Orthodoxy.

                      Take care.

                    • Peter,

                      You assume too much.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Your record speaks for itself. Just be careful from here on out. You’re Russian Orthodox for crying out loud. You have standards to uphold.

                    • I cover this subject some more in the following posts:



                      And as for the possibility that on the day of judgement, God might decide to save everyone — the problem is He has told us in no uncertain terms that everyone will not be saved:

                      Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it..”

                      Matthew 25:49: “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

                      Luke 13:23-28: “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.”

                      St. Paul is no less clear:

                      1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

                      From these words it is clear that one would have to be deceived in order to believe that such people will inherit the Kingdom of God.

                      What we might wish to be true or think ought to be true here is irrelevant. Christ has told us the truth on this question, and the Fathers have made it very clear. And we proclaim the truth on this question every Sunday of Orthodoxy when the Synodikon of Orthodoxy is read.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Fr. John just did.

                      Ladies and gentlemen Elvis has left the building.

                    • I will leave Fr. John with the last substantive word regarding Scripture and Fathers. I have never seen a passage to which we ascribe infallability which so clearly states that some particular person or persons will definitely be condemned for me to conclude that the possibility I suggest is foreclosed.

                      But I will also admit the following: Though I suspect that what I suggest may be the case, I do not know that it will be the case and so I am not interested in beating the drum too loudly.

                      The reason I think it important not to foreclose it as a possibility is that I am sure that there are some well meaning persons who simply could not believe that a God Who is the Lover-of-Mankind would do such a thing. Not that He couldn’t, but that He wouldn’t.

                      Now, I am always willing to defer to God, of course. I do not pretend to fathom His Depths. At the same time, I would prefer to remove every unnecessary obstacle for someone who otherwise would be willing to accept and receive Him without reservation. I find that the certainty that He will condemn at least some, or one, to eternal unending torment without any reprieve is too much for some people. It is not too much for me because I have that much faith in Him. That is why I do not speculate about the devil and demons. Hell was prepared for them, as you know. I was Orthodox long before this occurred to me as a possibility so obviously it is no stumbling block for me. Just because I do not understand the justice of a thing, does not mean that I would reject our God on that basis. But for some, that may be the case.

                      If you reread over everything I’ve written on the subject (and I”m not asking anyone to do that), I believe you will find that what I have been advocating all along is that there is such a possibility, but under no circumstances a necessity. I have always said, “There is a good chance.” or “probably” or used some other qualifier. There is a reason for this that others have touched upon.

                      I decidedly do not believe that God is like the God of the philosophers. God is not an equation or an impersonal Force. He lacks passions, but that is not the same thing as lacking personality. And so, I believe that when the Creed says that Christ our God will come again to judge the living and the dead, I believe that means that He will actually judge, not just go through some automatic motions like a machine. Judgment implies two possibilities, at least: Conviction and acquittal. Now we know that some will be acquitted. Otherwise, why did Christ die? And I certainly do not foreclose the possibility that He may find a Pol Pot worthy of eternal torment. I am not now, nor have I ever asserted that. What I do suggest is that we need not presume to prejudge the matter because it may unnecessarily complicate evangelism.

                      To a seeker, I would not hesitate to say, depending on the circumstance, “It is possible, on That Day, He will find that enough is enough and not pass a condemnation of any particular person to eternal torment – though we certainly should not assume that He can’t or that His patience is infinite. So behave as if you are the worst of all sinners and in danger of hellfire.”

                    • Peter,

                      Yes, I realize I’m Russian Orthodox and I appreciate your concern and consider you a brother in the faith. I will be careful but I should also say that I’ve encountered at least one Russian Orthodox monastic (ROCOR and far, far from a novice) who believes essentially as I do on this subject, for similar reasons. In fact, in a conversation, he went out of his way to say so. However, I mention no names because this is a hot potato.

                    • To be Russian Orthodox one needs to be Russian, no? Aren’t you a “plain vanilla” American?

                    • No, I have a Russian background. From my mother’s side, no more than third generation however, attenuated. Yet I love the country, speak the language and have a degree in Russian studies not to mention being Orthodox and having been a member of a Russian Orthodox church while on hiatus from the church where I was christened. Moreover I started out in an OCA parish so all my demonstratives are Russian. So, judge me as you will, call me what you want, so long as you call me for dinner.

                      “Misha” is the nickname I got in the Russian department. I was christened “Mikhail/Michael”. “Misha” is a diminutive.

                      Also, just fyi, I know of a number of lilly white gringos in ROCOR who consider themselves “Russian Orthodox”. It’s not really a statement about ones ethnicity, only ones faith.

                      Also, I have some Cherokee on my father’s side. I don’t talk much directly about race or ethnicity. Ethnic identity is often a touchy subject.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      DBG, you’re wrong when you say this.
                      “?To be Russian Orthodox one needs to be Russian, no? Aren’t you a “plain vanilla” American?”

                      The All Highest (or “Great and Holy”) EP refuses to accept the OCA as anything but RUSSIAN.

                    • Far be it from me to discourage anybody from loving Russia or from worshiping in Russian Orthodox churches outside of Russia. But I’m a bit surprised to read that “Russian Orthodox” would be a statement of faith as only the word “Orthodox” (Christian) denotes one’s faith. Being the manifestation of the Kingdom of God on earth, the Church is one and undivided. After all, the mission of the Church is to unite all. But when we unconsciously form factions within the body of the Church, we compromise her great mission.

                    • DBG,

                      No ethnic exclusivity intended. For our purposes here Russian Orthodox = Greek Orthodox = Eastern Orthodox = Orthodox Christian. I think Peter was referring to the fact that ROCOR has a well deserved reputation for adherence to Holy Tradition. But so does Athos, Jerusalem, Serbia, etc.

            • I agree with everything in your list. If only our bishops could accomplish such a task.

            • Monk james says

              Although the apokatastasis tOn pantOn (‘reinstatement of all things’) was certainly promised by our Lord Jesus Christ, referenced by the apostle Peter (ACTS 3), when ‘Misha’ writes in his list of prerequisites for christian unity ‘5. Officially adopt Apocatastasis as taught by St. Gregory of Nyssa as a theologoumenon’, he doesn’t mention that St Gregory accepted correction on this point. It’s been said that his original concept of the apokatastasis was his only theological error.

              Peter taught this reinstatement of all things as an eschatological event associated with the return of Christ to Earth, when He would ‘make all things new’ (REV 21:5). Gregory’s mistake was that he thought that this meant the cancellation of the effects of all human choices, in fact of all choices made not only by Man but by the Angels, effectively undoing the consequences of sin and making Christ’s final judgement unnecessary or at least redundant, and asserting this as a logical and theological necessity.

              But this not only flies in the face of divine revelation as we have it through the scriptures and all of the authentically orthodox catholic tradition, but it negates the concept of free will: If all creation, including Angels and Man, is to be reinstated to its original condition as good, (GEN 1), and human and angelic natures are restored to their sinless original state willy-nilly, then what would be the value of free will, if there were any such thing to begin with?(Consult St Augustine of Hippo’s De Libero Arbitrio for some insights.)

              Now, if by ‘theologoumenon’ we mean Gregory’s corrected notion, that it would be wonderful if, in His mercy, Christ forgave us all, Angels and Man, for using our free will to defy Him and His commandments, but that we could not hold Him to such an expectation as a theological necessity, then we’re back to an orthodox understanding of the apokatastasis.

              • That is precisely what I am asserting, that it is wonderful and possible but certainly not a necessity. He can do as He wills, and will. And I have received no exclusive information, I’m just guessing, but it is an illuminated guess, as it were. What I’m asserting is the possibility. What else could I possibly assert? It has not yet come to pass.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Ok. That’s not what you stated, but OK you get a Mulligan on that one. I guess your back to being Orthodox, but barely. Watch it from here on out buddy. Michael Warren is on the prowl.

                • Misha,

                  Although I myself would prefer to say that we simply do not know what will happen to the ungodly after the judgment in that it has not been REVEALED, I nevertheless find the way you are approaching this subject refreshingly different than others who argue for this view.

                  Most do so from an almost purely philosophical angle that I find very troubling. Approaching it from a philosophical angle makes God less than personal. It makes of Him a sort of ‘force’ (as it were), a logical and philosophical necessity. It makes Him subject to the necessity of His own love every bit as much as approaching salvation from the forensic, legal perspective (to which most of the West adheres) makes Him the prisoner of His own justice. While God is certainly loving and just, He is bound by neither. He is free and may do as He wills.

                  I quote here a response I posted on another forum:

                  “Some of us are wary [of apokatastasis] not because we think we are right or even because we think the Scriptures or the all of the Fathers are entirely clear about the matter (although some Fathers…are much clearer about their views of apokatastasis than others).

                  “What is clear is that the Church in her wisdom never saw fit to settle the matter once and for all even when presented with the opportunity to do so [primarily at the Fifth Council at which only a very specific form of weird, Origenistic universalism was specifically condemned while Justinian’s proposed anathema that many think is part of the council’s rulings was ignored, although it was included in the documents/records related to the council]. Did she refrain because she simply did not know (there being no clear consensus)? Or did she refrain because if true, she understood such knowledge to be something of which an extreme few are worthy (i.e., able to bear responsibly without danger to their own salvation or those around them)? These were bishops with grave pastoral responsibilities, after all. We simply do not know why she refrained from ruling on Justinian’s proposal.

                  “What troubles some of us is neither the possibility, nor the hope. It is the teaching of a hope as though it were revealed, nearly dogmatic truth and the use of philosophy to ‘prove’ what our gracious God has not seen fit to reveal out of His love for us. Philosophy has its uses, but it if it is to be profitable it must be disciplined by the limits of revelation (Saint Basil has a wonderful work on this topic).

                  “I know that I who believe (!) am not worthy of such knowledge, even if true. And so I cannot help but wonder about the wisdom of those who not only feel themselves worthy of having attained to such knowledge but of teaching openly to all something about which the Church has chosen to remain silent in a dogmatic sense (I am not speaking here of you).

                  “I do not deny the possibility. God is certainly good enough, and it is possible to read many (though not all) of the Scriptures through that ‘lens.’ I would also never say that it is wrong to hope for what God has made very clear He desires. Such a hope, however, is no different than my hope of being made worthy to stand at the right hand of Christ in the judgment. It is a hope, not a certainty. It has not yet been revealed.

                  “I want everyone to be saved. I do not want anyone – even my worst enemies – to be deprived of the eternal life of God. But God has not revealed to us precisely what will become of the ungodly after the judgment; and we do well, along with the Church, to be careful of what we think we can know, much less teach.”

                  If the Orthodox Church settles the matter in true, unquestioned, world-wide ecumenical council I will stand with the Church. Until then, I remain highly skeptical – especially of intellects like Met. Kallistos whose speculations often strike me as undisciplined by the limits of revelation.

                  In any case, your approach, “that it is wonderful and possible but certainly not a necessity. He can do as He wills…” is highly refreshing.

                  • Brian,

                    When it comes to Scriptures that seem to foreclose the possibility of a Nyssian restoration (which is the shorthand I’m going to use), one must recall that we are talking about Scripture which tells us about the process of a thing which has not yet occurred. In other words, when it says that those who are numbered with the goats, for instance, will be banished to the outer darkness, the text is referring to something that has not yet happened. I’m not sure God is prophesying that any particular person will indeed be banished, only that that is how Court will be conducted so that all of us, who should read Scripture as if it applies to us directly, can envision condemnation and thus repent.

                    That is another reason why I think we should stand on what is written, not necessarily on what we might assume or think is implied, and only count the infallable weight of authority as infallable: clear specific edicts of Councils or clear consensus of Fathers on the subject. It is, obviously, a very important matter.

                    As to Met. Kallistos, I understand your point. I have been critical of some of his writings and comments in the past. He seems to me to go too far sometimes. Also, it should not be lost on anyone that I’m hardly a pacifist or believer in the necessity of God being a doormat. I believe in Yahweh, the God of the Armies of Heaven and Israel who is referred to in the Law of Moses as a “Man of war” or “Warrior”.

                    God is fierce. We would not know righteous ferocity were this not the case. I believe that He has done every last thing ascribed to Him in both Testaments. He’s not above any of it and I never try to “protect His honor” from the written record. I would not have Him any other way than as He is and has been to revealed to us in Scripture and the Fathers. He is Love, no doubt. But He is also a Warrior, no doubt. We are blessed with a “full spectrum” Trinitarian God.

                    And we need no less given the future we face. As you all know, I’m sure we are going to have a great conflagration with Islam. They are not boy scouts. In some ways, they are as bad as Moab and Amalek in the Old Times. I would prefer to convert them. We will suffer many martyrs. And some of us will choose to take up the sword of Constantine and the shield of David. It is possible that we will be sending some of them off to eternal hell. That is a shame because I find some nobility in some of their sentiments and convictions and can’t help but think, “There but for the Grace of God go I.”.

                    Such are our times.

                    • To Brian,

                      Just incidentally, do you know the other reason that I did not suggest that the “Nyssian restoration” should be doctrine, but only a theologoumenon?

                      * * * * * * * * *

                      Because, by its nature, it could not possibly be doctrine. To teach it as doctrine would predetermine God’s judgment, just as foreclosing the possibility predetermines God’s judgment. The question takes you right to the edge where you have to trust God and have no control over Him whatsoever. That is uncomfortable for many.

                    • Just wondering then, Misha. How does a Council affirm a theologoumenon ? Dogma and practice, yes; but a theologoumenon? I am admittedly ignorant of many things, but I can think of no precedent in the Tradition.

                      Your other words…

                      “I believe that He has done every last thing ascribed to Him in both Testaments. He’s not above any of it and I never try to “protect His honor” from the written record. I would not have Him any other way than as He is and has been to revealed to us in Scripture and the Fathers. He is Love, no doubt. But He is also a Warrior, no doubt.”

                      …are much appreciated. I wouldn’t EVER suggest that this implies that things that were ordered in a specific time and place for a specific reason provides us with license to imitate what has been done (by, for example, the Israelites) in the past, but attempts to deny what occurred or apologize for God always wind up being simply silly. Yes, He ordered innocent children to be killed (doubtless saving them from a worse fate), and it seems so unloving, so unjust to the modern ear. He also allows innocent children to suffer and die today – both from disease and by the hands of the wicked. This shouldn’t tell us that God is unloving or unjust; it should tell us that we have no idea what true love and true justice are. We certainly struggle with these things, but we ought not apologize for them. We either have faith in God and in His goodness and wisdom, accepting Him as He is, or we don’t.

                    • Oh, Brian, it was just an idea. If ROCOR could recognize the “toll houses” as a theologoumenon in one of its ukases dealing with a debate involving one of its priests, I think a council could comment on anything it wished to. Due to the odd nature of the issue, it only really lends itself to formal acceptance in that way. However, as a practical matter, I do not think that this opinion is particularly unusual in higher monastic circles, though I could be wrong.

                      My only point is that it may be time to take the possibility a bit more seriously given that God seems to be winding down the clock of our present age. I’m sure there are a great many developments afoot which we will notice in the coming months and years.

              • “If all creation, including Angels and Man, is to be reinstated to its original condition as good, (GEN 1), and human and angelic natures are restored to their sinless original state willy-nilly, then what would be the value of free will, if there were any such thing to begin with?(Consult St Augustine of Hippo’s De Libero Arbitrio for some insights.) ”

                Augustine again? Please, the man was all over the place.

                God gave us free will because He has free will and we are created in His image and likeness. We are not just restored to our condition prior to the Fall. We receive spiritualized bodies and sin will be abolished; i.e., we will have been perfected in the sense of no more “Fall”‘s.

                Whether or not there be a Nyssian restoration or not, the result for “restored” humanity is that we will have finally, with God’s help, and only after His Grand Bar Mitzvah (so to speak), grown up.

                I make no statements whatsoever, one way or the other, with respect to angels and demons. Scripture speaks for itself on that account.

                • PS: If you read the anathema in the synodikon and can successfully decipher its opaque wording, I think that that is the belief that the underlying conciliar decision was aimed at: That the Kingdom of Heaven is an impermanent condition subject to another Fall, since the protological formulation of apocatastasis taught precisely that.

        • M. Stankovich says


          Perhaps the answer lies in how one defines a blessing, for ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἄνθρωπος, ὃς ζήσεται καὶ οὐχ ἁμαρτήσει, “for there is no man who lives and does not sin.” Some things you never forget, and thanks to God!

      • Thomas Barker says

        Monk James,
        It seems to me there are more than errors on the part of the Vatican. Is the Roman Catholic Church the Bride of Christ? If you say yes, then we reach a terminus. If you say no, then I have to ask you what its true nature is. It is a counterfeit to the True Church. And what could be more evil?

        • Monk James says

          Trying to avoid a false apposition here, I will ay that The Church is the Body and Bride of Christ. The vaticanist organization is in schism from The Church and, during these many centuries of separation, it has developed teachings and practices which are contrary to the authentically orthodox catholic christian Tradition.

          Those contradictions and other errors will be corrected, I think, only when the schism is healed, such corrections being a natural part of the process of its reintegration into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church in which we profess to believe when we recite the Symbol of the Faith.

    • I wouldn’t go quite as far as all that, but I completely agree with you here:

      Bergoglio the Bumbler is actually a cunning narcissist who sows chaos in order to destroy the last vestiges of conservative Catholic belief.

      It makes me sick when people laud his “humility”. Is it humble to refuse to wear the traditional vestments that you are expected to wear? To refuse to live in your purpose-built papal apartments and instead force people to convert a hotel into an apartment for you? To literally kiss the feet of Mohammadans while shutting down societies dedicated to preserving traditional liturgy? To prostrate yourself before immigrants, but refuse to ever kneel before the Eucharist because you “have bad knees”? To teach opaquely and confuse your flock? To ramble idly and force your spokesmen to clean up your mess on a daily basis? To actually utter the words, “this may be heresy, but…”?

      It’s impossible to believe he is simply idiotic and inept and has no idea what he’s doing.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Your foaming at the mouth leaves me perplexed.

      • Thomas Barker says

        Mr. Bauman,
        I was not foaming at the mouth. That’s how I view the Roman Catholic machine. In my opinion nothing good comes of paying respect to institutionalized evil. My four years (grades 9 through 12) as a student at a private RC high school that was run by a cabal of queer clerics set me on the path to appreciating the wickedness of the scarlet beast.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Mr. Barker:. The Papacy is heretical and it has only gotten worse since the Schism, but investing so much energy in condemning them is not fruitful.

          In fact, we would do better if we prayed for their return, especially for those who are honestly seeking Christ.

          Certainly we must not pursue nor accept any sort of false Union with the RCC as that is unthinkable.

          Pray also for our bishops that they be filled with the Holy Spirit and rightly divide the word of truth.

          • Thomas Barker says

            Mr. Bauman,
            Thanks for your comments. I have to agree with all you’ve said in your response.

  16. I sometimes wonder why people bother doing western Pope following at all. I manage to live my life, try to get to church as often as possible and be one of the two or three gathered together, and if I am reading something, even news, I am more likely to spend time reading and praying over migrants or persecuted peoples than ever considering Roman Catholicism. I save those thoughts for once a year when maybe I can get to a Kallistos Timothy Ware lecture given for free associated with a service at a local Orthodox church around the time of the pay to play Orientale Lumens conference. Then, Roman Catholics will attend thee events made a part of the famous bishop’s presence, and they will make their presence felt, and we will all pray for unity together in a setting without an entrance fee and part of that prayer will be that the Pope will be like our own Pope, to wit he will finally reclaim his Orthodox Christian heritage and be one of our brother bishops again. He will believe like us. If he has charismatic powers through his sermons, many other heretics and heterodox will come back with him to the Faith, One, Holy, Apostolic.

    This year’s Oriental Lumen, XX:

  17. Michael Bauman says

    Misha, judgement need not be only about guilt or innocence. In fact since we are all guilty there would be no reason for a judgement if that is all it were.

    To me “judgement” implies a through review of life and placing all in order. It is not nor can it ever be solely about just me but about communion and inter-relationship with one another.

    We simply have no way to appreciate the process nor the context. What we know is at best a shadow of the reality: but two dimensions of an eternal and multi-layered reality.

    I can pray for all and if I had the opportunity, I would hold the door open until everybody else but me had passed through because I am unworthy to enter, to even be in the Church here–yet I am because Jesus opened the door for me and bade me enter.

    • Michael,

      This, I think, is the reality that the Fathers were trying to get at when they spoke of the “cleansing fire” and “aerial toll-houses”. After ones death I think in that 40 days there is a reckoning of some sort. It is not about the effort of the deceased during that time since the time for voluntary repentance has passed, but rather about the residual burdens the soul carried at death. These could either drag one down to perdition (demons) or be overcome by the agents of the Physician (angels).

    • Well said, Michael, concerning the larger, more complete meaning of judgment.” I am reminded of the Evening Prokeimenon for Wednesdays…

      “O God, in Thy name save me, and in Thy strength do Thou judge me.”

      …a prayer that makes no sense at all other than from within the context of your comment.