Is the Tomos a Dead Letter?

scuttlebut-smallMonomakhos recently received a tip from one of our sources directing us to This portal is run by one Svetlana Vays, a big fish in a very little pond, the little pond being the liberal wing of the Russian Orthodox Church.

You may have heard of her. In the recent past she interviewed Mark Stokoe on the illegal coup against Metropolitan Jonah. It was clear where her sympathies lay. I guess you could lump her together with the other Kishkovskyites and East Coast liberals who have a very “reformist” view of Orthodox Christianity.

The essence of her diatribe was that the Patriachate of Moscow recently opened a church catering to Russian-language immigrants in Spokane, Washington. Even through Google translation it was clear that she was apoplectic. Despite her hysteria, she is at least consistent with her understanding of what this means for the OCA’s autocephaly. After all, the plain text of the Tomos that Moscow issued in 1970 clearly states that Moscow would not plant any parishes in the OCA’s territory. There was no wiggle room in the Tomos: no catering to the “needs of future immigrants,” no “as conditions may merit,” and every indication that in time, any and all Moscow Patriarchate parishes would be absorbed by the territorial Church.

Thus, the opening up of even one parish by Moscow on the North American continent is a clear breach of the original Tomos.

Because Yours Truly is part of the OCA, I felt that a call to one of my sources in the Syosset Apparat was necessary. I was casually informed that this was old news and that Moscow had even opened parishes in Canada in the interim. My question to him was blunt: didn’t this “undermine the Tomos of Autocephaly?” His reply was blithe. I was told that the real meaning of our autocephaly was contingent as to the time of day: defended when expedient, otherwise ignored. As to what was considered expedient, it was things like being a thorn in the side of the Phanar’s flesh or attending international events.

This unseriousness was shocking to me. Without the Tomos Orthodoxy in American could not have grown as it had. Even under ineptocrats like Theodosius and Herman, the Syosset Apparat had the good sense to stay out of the way when it came to mission formation. And let us be under no illusions: without the OCA opening up English-language missions left and right, Antioch would not have accepted the Evangelical Orthodox into its midst and experienced its own explosive growth. Yes, despite all the difficulties of the past forty years, the Tomos mattered and it did much good.

So let us savor the ironies of this insouciance. Like an onion it has many layers.

First of all, where are the Autocephalists-uber-alles now? If memory serves, Archbishops Nikon and Nathanael were especially appalled by any mention made by Metropolitan Jonah of “reimagining autocephaly.” Jonah’s close ties to Moscow particularly exercised Mark Stokoe and his cadres as evidenced by OCAN which quickly turned into a disinformation site about Jonah. In time, it even directed the coup against him. The hypocrisy is astounding: it would appear that the Tomos’ effective nullification is alright as long as Jonah is not the Primate.

Second, would Moscow have been creating parishes if Jonah were still in charge? That’s a good question. It’s certainly possible but the groundwork would have been different. Let’s not forget that early in Jonah’s tenure, Moscow directed ROCOR and MP parishes in America to commemorate Jonah as “His Beatitude Jonah, Metropolitan of All-America and Canada” during the Great Entrance. Though these two eparchies were not administratively yoked within the framework of the OCA, the implication was clear: they would acknowledge the OCA’s Primate as the Metropolitan of All-America and Canada. Symbolically this was a huge step in the right direction.

Third: the now-aborted rapprochement between Moscow and Syosset deserves further exploration. With their close ties to Jonah and the latter’s acceptance of the reality of the OCA being a dwindling presence in need of revivification, the creation of any new parishes by Moscow could have been finessed as meeting an urgent need regarding immigrants which the OCA was ill-equipped to handle. Moreover, they would have been under his omorphor. Interestingly, a scenario such as this would have been congruent with Jonah’s vision as explicated in Dallas in 2009, when he invited all Orthodox bishops in North America to congregate in a collegium around –not under–the OCA Primate who would serve as president of said collegium. Not an administrative Synod per se, but certainly better than what obtains presently with the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops (suffice it to say that Metropolitan Savvas Zembillas of Pittsburgh has let the cat out of the bag regarding the true mission of the ACOB, of which more will be said in due time.)

Fourth, the invalidity of the Tomos is expressed by Moscow in other, more subtle ways as well. For example, shortly after the July 6 coup, Bishop Alexander Golitzyn and Fr Leonid Kishkovsky were read the riot act by exceedingly high sources within the Russian Orthodox Church when they went to Kiev to participate in the festivities honoring St Vladimir the Great. More recently, during the recent celebration in Nis, Serbia in honor of the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Toleration, all autocephalous Orthodox Churches were present. All except for the OCA. Such snubs in international Orthodox meetings are par for the course anymore. Clearly, Moscow is toying with us but we can’t say that we weren’t warned. Shortly after Jonah was defenestrated in July of 2012, Moscow made it clear to the Syosset Apparat that its forbearance would be contingent on how it treated His Beatitude. Were it not for Moscow, Jonah and his parents would be living on the streets right now.

Clearly the Syosset Apparat as told to me by my source knows that the Tomos is a dead letter in all but name. That they have put to rest their belief in the mythology of the OCA is not necessarily a bad thing. Would that Constantinople be as wise and quietly lay to rest its own mythological pretensions based on Canon 28 and maybe the Orthodox Church would grow in North America. Like Constantinople however (which will never give up its universalist pretensions), Moscow will never formally rescind the Tomos. Anyway, barring outright apostasy and liturgies sanctioning gay nuptials, why would they? The OCA was always an arrow in Moscow’s quiver against Constantinople. Under Jonah it had some utility in that it could be taken out and polished every now and then to remind the Phanar of its presence. Now, because this is no longer possible and its decrepitude laid bare for all to see, it will be permanently sheathed to prevent Syosset from further embarrassing itself. This however, is an iffy proposition for Moscow. To put not to fine a point on it, the OCA (like Constantinople) is a wasting asset. The most that can be said at this point is that as long as the OCA exists it will complicate the Phanar’s designs on North America no matter how bad things get for it.

So where are we? It is said that the current Primate believes that “our Time of Troubles is over” (another Stokovite metaphor, by the way) and that “peace and calm have reasserted themselves this past year.” Given declining census figures and remittances from all Dioceses to Syosset, this is an extremely questionable proposition. True, there have been no outright schisms, and only one parish and monastery so far have decamped for ROCOR, but the erosion of the OCA is nevertheless real. Unlike other ethnicities which erupt in obvious and public fracases (as did the GOA in the immediate post-Iakovos period), the Slavic/Convert sensibilities in these regards are more circumspect. There is no actual rioting, no court challenges, no manifestoes issued by the disgruntled parties, but the decimation and demoralization of the OCA is still very real. So much so, that it’s long-term stability is very much in doubt. If indeed Metropolitan Tikhon actually believes that our “Time of Troubles” is over, then we are definitely headed for choppy waters.

We’ll see. In the meantime we should ponder whether any of this would have transpired under Metropolitan Jonah. Even with a recalcitrant Apparat in place in Syosset, it is inconceivable that Moscow would have undermined the OCA in such a blatant manner.


  1. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Please provide a link to the portal article.
    The Tomos’s ground rules are different for Canada and the U.S. For example, while no Bishop may be assigned in the U.S. with episcopal jurisdiction,but only a vicar of the Moscow Diocese, a bishop with episcopal jurisdiction has always been assigned in Canada.
    And whether or not it is a ROCOR mission or the conversion of an existing MP skete into a parish, the portion of the Tomos relating to the setting up of Altars in the U.S. became problematic the moment ROCOR was reunited to the Church in Russia.
    The following sentence appears to me to be nonsense: ” In the meantime we should ponder whether any of this would have transpired under Metropolitan Jonah.” I don’t think we should “ponder” anything of the sort. There’s no reason whatsoever not to opine that things might have been exponentially WORSE under Metropolitan Jonah.
    It’s all vanity and chasing after the wind.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I’m sincerely interested Your Grace: how could things have been “exponentially WORSE under Metropolitan Jonah” than they are now? When he was Primate, missions were opening, he was being invited to ecumenical venues (in the best sense of the word), he was lecturing at major Catholic institutions, STS and SVS were saved from consolidation, etc.

      To all: I’m genuinely interested. How many missions have opened up since His Beatitude was thrown out? I’ve documented one parish and one monastery being released to ROCOR but does anybody know of any others who have petitioned? Please feel free to augment and/or set the record straight.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        How about that LINK, George? I’m “sincerely interested” in it.
        As far as exponentially worse….I’m thinking of the ease with which they got his signature on a letter of resignation…perhaps if they’d been more patient they could have got his signature on a whole barnful of declarations and fatwas.
        I’d like to read for myself what was posted on credo-ru and not your summary of a machine translation.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          A kind friend provided the link to SVETLANA WEISS’s article:
          The article is not at all hysterical as George complains (while not providing access to the article itself). However, it is not completely factual, and Ms. Weiss confuses the existing mp parishes at the time of the Tomos with Metropolia parishes. Both the OCA and the MP (or, if you will, Metropolitan Nikodim and Father Alexander S.) agreed that “for psychological reasons” (deep antipathy by the Metropolia), the mp parishes should be kept out of the new autocephalous church (it was a coin toss: who wanted those parishes to stay under Moscow more, the Metropolia or those parishes?). As it turned out, those parishes were saved from the Metropolia or the Metropolia was saved from having to deal with those troublesome parishes.
          It’s true that the present Patriarch, as a dyed-in-the-wool Russian nationalist Patriot and maximalist, disagrees with anything which limits the jurisdiction of the MP to any canonical geographical limits whatsoever. However, he’s enough of a realist to put up with the OCA, especially insofar as this putting up with relates to MP-EP politics. Metropolitan Jonah, as a long-time disciple and admirer of the late MP Archimandrite Andrej Urusov (a former Jesuit received by Metropolitan Nikodim) thereby had a certain “cachet” with the MP.
          The OCA continues to ordain bishops, erect altars, define diocesan boundaries, consecrate Chrism, and elect its First Hierarch without the slightest reference to any other ecclesiastical entity. it remains FULLY autocephalous. MP parish in Oregon? So what! How about EP parishes in the “northern lands” like Finland and Estonia, despite the original tomos of autocephaly for Moscow granting jurisdiction over Russia ‘and all the Northern Lands?”
          Are the Chicken Littles now clucking that Moscow’s autocephaly is crumbling or a fiction?

          • geo michalopulos says

            Respectfully, I must disagree Your Grace. Miss Vais uses words like “spit on the Constitution” and to do so one must be “either a criminal” or “have a reduced IQ.”

            Them’s fighting words where I come from. Coming from her they are definitely hysterical.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              No more hysterical than your “homosexualization of the Army.”. Ms. Weiss’s got a long way to go to catch up with Breitbart, Coulter and Co. I had no idea that Texans equated “fighting words’ with hysteria!!! Hyperbole, maybe…hysteria? Pots, kettles.

              • “Ms.”

                I am currently a catechumen in a ROCOR parish, previously I was a unitarian universalist. Living in Manhattan, I have many options, and indeed spent holy week at an OCA parish, which stands out in my mind as my first exposure to real holiness and the point at which I decided to commit to Holy Orthodoxy. However, the priest lost me during the Sunday of Myrrh-Bearing Women. His homily was a 30 minute feminist diatribe about the unjust oppression of women in the church. The female parishioners, heads uncovered, were all nodding in rapt agreement. Same with the “men” (castrati, in my estimation) and homosexuals (of which there were several — out and unrepentant about it).

                The whole thing felt… a lot like the time I spent in Episcopal churches before discovering Orthodoxy. And as I sat there stewing, I recalled that, during my first conversation with the presently sermonizing priest, when he discovered my UU background, he energetically opined that he was jealous of how accepting we were. He also complained about how the previous head of the OCA was anti-women, because, you see, he was strongly opposed to the ordination of women (the horror/worse than hitler). I didn’t know anything about His Beatitude Jonah at that time, but I did find this conversation a little unsettling.

                My attention returned to the present just as the homily reach its dramatic conclusion, with the priest vowing to fight tirelessly to liberate women from their state of oppression. I accepted that this was not the place for me. So I slipped out, swallowed my Russophobia, and went to vespers that night for my first visit to the ROCOR parish of which I am presently a member. I have never looked back.

                The OCA seems bent and determined to turn itself into another version of the Episcopal Church — the Churchanski Episcopalski, perhaps. The Episcopal Church is dying, of course, and why you’d want to emulate that is beyond me. Maybe existential suicide is more acceptable than the corporeal version. Suffice it to say that things do not bode well for Christ’s body as represented in the OCA — but then, women who insist on the title “Ms.” don’t tend to have stable marriages, nor many children. The natural order of things, I suppose.

                • Heracleides says

                  Spot on, Thomas, and welcome to ROCOR.

                • Disgusted With It says

                  Out of curiosity, would you mind telling us which OCA parish you visited? Sometimes those in charge (bishop, dean, etc.) have no idea such things are happening in their parishes because they’re not there to see them when they occur. Thank you, and God bless you on your journey to Orthodoxy!

                • Thomas,

                  Glad you found ROCOR. It would be a mistake, however, to paint the entire OCA with the brush of the Episcopal Church. No doubt that type of unorthodox perspective is present in some, perhaps many, OCA parishes. On the other hand, I have been in OCA parishes where there is a much stronger sense of piety.

                  What I would observe, however, is that even in convert parishes where the piety of the laity seems to be a bit more pronounced, the priests often fail to challenge the modernistic, feministic conceptions of the younger laity (aka, the “hipsters”) even if they don’t hold these conceptions themselves – all to keep the peace and the collections coming.

                  Incidentally, the Russian word to describe Episcopal Church wannabes would be отступники, “apostates”.

                  • Yes, I should not generalize my one experience to the entire OCA, true. I pray for the pious wherever they may be. It’s never easy.

                    Also, who was it that said “there is much ruin in a nation?” I think he was referring to hipsters. I’m from that shameful demographic, and I understand financial necessity, but catering to these kids might patch things over in the short term but the pressure for continuing liberalization will continue to mount and lead to significant damage in the long term.

  2. I tend to agree with you, George, that the Tomos is functionally meaningless, though it can be pulled out as is needed, such as when it is nice to say: “look — we are the 15th Autocephalous Orthodox Church!”

    A question, though: is ROCOR in America subject to the Tomos, since they are part of the Moscow Patriarchate now? I worship at a lively ROCOR mission which started only a year ago, well after ROCOR reunited with the MP — thus, if ROCOR were subject to the Tomos and took it seriously, then technically our mission should be in the OCA.

    Also, George, you write that so far only 1 parish and 1 monastery have decamped for ROCOR. However, the OCA was tasked with starting a mission in our large city in the South years ago, but never did it (for a variety of reasons — the chief of which probably is the lack of episcopal leadership, lack of oversight, and lack of accountability since Abp Dmitri reposed). ROCOR noticed the need for a mission and filled that need.

    It seems to me that the Tomos of Autocephaly — while a noble document and one with a rich history, not to mention with so much potential (or rather unrealized potential) — is now functionally meaningless, with few taking it seriously outside of the OCA.

    • George Michalopulos says

      All too true. The point of this essay however was that there are people in the Syosset Apparat who don’t take it seriously either.

    • “the Tomos is functionally meaningless” when it comes to the OCA’s status as the sole canonical body in the territory of North America, perhaps. No one buys the pre-1917 undivided church in NA under Russia story anymore, and there’s no need for the EP or the other local churches to accept the OCA structure (and they don’t desire to be autocephalous from their mother churches in the way American Orthodox did post-1917 or during the Cold War.)

      However, the Tomos is fully functioning within the OCA herself, and most of her relations with the MP and ROCOR. While, yes, there are still MP parishes here (and more given the reception of ROCOR’s NA parishes – remember, it’s a global body), it’s interesting to note that the Metropolitan of the OCA is commemorated in such a way in MP parishes that he outranks MP and ROCOR bishops when they serve together. That’s not nothing, neither is the ability to consecrate chrism, nor the ability to consecrate bishops and Metropolitans without approval from Moscow (as ROCOR must do).

  3. ” let us savor the ironies of this insouscuence”
    Indeed, it is shocking. But it’s insouciance.

  4. Why don’t you just give up with these posts against the OCA? This stuff reeks of writings by Synodal convert nuts. Disinformation, twisting the truth, outlandish accusations, etc. George, I’m sure you aren’t writing this skata, but you sure are condoning it. Same stuff that could be found on the “Indiana List” controlled by Synodal convert nuts!

  5. Memorial Service for Laura Paffhausen(aka "Madam") says

    A memorial service was held for the 1 year anniversary of the falling asleep of Laura Paffhasen, the sister of Metropolitan Jonah. The service was held with the Metropolitan’s parents in attendance among many clergy and people after which a memorial repast was held. Also remembered were George Chelpon, newly deceased, who was instrumental in bringing the finances of the Greek Archdiocese back to health and transparency. Also remembered was Saint Tikhon. We remembered the seventh anniversary of the passing of Father Georghe Calciu, a local Washington, D.C. area priest from Romania. Upon the recent disinterring of his body, he was found to be uncorrupt and fragrant.

    A large repast was held afterwards. I thought this blog should hear the anniversary of her passing as she used to write on this blog

  6. Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim says

    George, nice catch.

    It would appear that Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh did in deed let the cat out of the bag regarding the Phanar’s plan for the future of the reorganized Church in America to be under Constantinople. I couldn’t help but appreciate that point myself. The Metropolitan said that if the mother churches thought we were coming up with a plan for independence then they wouldn’t be allowing the North & Central American ACOB to exist. (, minutes ~1:00 – 4:30)

    Well, if the overlaping jurisdictional divisions are going to come to an end, and ACOB is going to restructure the chaos into canonical churches, which is to say territorial dioceses that do not overlap each with its own ruling bishop & all of those bishops sitting on the same synod, then by default that church must either be autocephalous or under another autocephalous church, either autonomous or an enormous but dependent archdioceses.

    Given Constantinople’s relatively new & idiosyncratic (and I would add untenable) interpretation of canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon, which it is not vocally pushing at present but certainly has not rescinded, the answer seems to be self-evident…

    Nick Katich did a nice job humorously debunking the whole canon 28 claim of near universalism a few years ago ( Please note that I say this as a member of the GOA & as a prayerful proponent (most of the time) of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, but legitimate support and sycophancy are two entirely different things. Repentance is in order on this preposterous canon 28 claim, which I find altogether embarrassing.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Seraphim, thanks for bringing to the fore Nick Katich’s succinct rebuttal of the Canon 28 mythology. And for linking Zembillas’ squelching of the American Church’s territorial integrity.

  7. Archpriest John Morris says

    And let us be under no illusions: without the OCA opening up English-language missions left and right, Antioch would not have accepted the Evangelical Orthodox into its midst and experienced its own explosive growth.

    I must take issue with the above statement. The Antiochian Archdiocese was opening English speaking missions and reaching out to converts long before the OCA autocaphaly. Our English speaking parishes and missions go back to the 1920s and the efforts of Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh, who was stabbed in the back by the Bishops of the Metropolia because they did not want to offend the Episcopalians who were mad because so many Episcopalians were converting to Orthodoxy. The illusion that Metropolitan Philip took in the Evangelical Orthodox to compete with the OCA is false.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Point taken, Fr. But Antioch went into hyperdrive when it accepted the Evangelicals in 1983. They did so (and wisely in my opinion) after they were first rebuffed by the OCA and then by the GOA. Another point to consider: English-language missions were already par for the course for both the Metropolia and Antioch pre-Tomos, that much is true but if memory serves, most of the growth in Antioch took place after.

      As for your point that Ofiesh “was stabbed in the back by the…Metropolia,” I would like some confirmation on that. If true (and I have no reason to doubt you), that would be most regrettable.

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        Hello friends:

        George is wrong about the date of our reception by Antioch – 1987, not 1983.

        Touche to Heraclides on his closing posts in the Time Out thread. My hobby horse tends to get excited and overdo it in the presence of so many people riding high ones and beating dead ones around here!

        Funny cartoon and word play on my name too. I recommend one amendment to the cartoon though: lose the pectoral cross!

        As to not addressing Helga directly, it is my usual choice to avoid direct exchanges with the anonymous.

        Fr. G

      • “As for your point that Ofiesh “was stabbed in the back by the…Metropolia,” I would like some confirmation on that. If true (and I have no reason to doubt you), that would be most regrettable.”

        Ofiesh was living with a young girl. His credibility as a serious bishop was self-inflicted.

        • Archpriest John Morris says

          About 35 years ago, I was commissioned by the Antiochian Archdiocese to write a biography of Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh. I had access to the archives of the Antiochian Archdiocese, used materials in the Harvard Theological library, and even had the opportunity to interview Fr. Michael Gellsinger. The article was published in two parts in the Word in the late 70s or early 80s, and then republished in 1995. The first part can be found at Unfortunately, I do not know where I put the second part of the article that covers the time under question. I am certain that that the second part of the article can be found in old issues of The Word in the libraries of St. Vladimir’s or Holy Cross. The American Orthodox Catholic Review is in the Harvard theological library.
          Archbishop Aftimios was the successor to St. Raphael as Bishop of Brooklyn and head of the Arabic mission of the Russian Bishops. Seeing the division and ethnicism of Orthodoxy at that time, he received the blessing of Metropolitan Platon and the Bishops of the Metropolia for an effort to organize an English speaking American Orthodox Church. He converted several Episcopal ministers and published The North American Orthodox Catholic Review that was designed to reach Episcopalians and other non-Orthodox. However, after he converted several Episcopalian clergy, the Episcopalians began to put pressure on Metropolitan Platon and his Bishops to persuade Archbishop Aftimios to stop converting Episcopalians. At that time the Metropolia was in debt to the Episcopalians because they had given him one of their old churches in New York to use as his cathedral after the Living Church faction won a court case giving them possession of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York City. During all of this Metropolitan Platon made a public statement that the Episcopal Church and the Orthodox Church share the same Faith. I believe that it was in Bridgeport, Conn, but am not sure. Because the Bishops of the Metropolia owed the Episcopalians they yielded and Metropolitan Platon ordered Archbishop Aftimios to stop converting Episcopalians to Orthodoxy. At that time, the Episcopalians had a Commission for the Americanization of the Foreign Born, which tried to persuade Orthodox that they did not need to start an Orthodox mission, because they could become Episcopalians and remain Orthodox. Because of this there are places all over the country where we should have had Churches, but do not because the Orthodox in these places fell victim to the propaganda of the Episcopalians. St, Raphael had the same problem with the Episcopalians and wrote a letter telling his people to stay away from them, because the Episcopalians were misrepresenting themselves as Orthodox. Meanwhile in 1924 with the blessing of Moscow, the Russian Bishops in exile who eventually founded ROCOR, and the Russian Bishops of the Metropolia, the Antiochian Patriarch began to accept Church in America under its omophorion. After the members of St. Nicholas Cathedral in Brooklyn took him to court and he lost his cathedral, Archbishop Aftimios finally became so disgusted that he married and lost his episcopate. Thus, I do believe that by siding with the Episcopalians against Archbishop Aftimios Metropolitn Platon and his Bishops stabbed him in the back.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

            Heh, heh! I liked the part where after the members of his own cathedral (presumably not Russians) took Ofiesh to court and he lost, he “finally” became so disgusted with the Russian hierarchy’s ambiguous attitude toward the Episcopalians that he got married and “lost” the episcopate!!!!!

            So THAT’s what historical Christian marriage is all about: “Darling, I’m so disgusted i want you to be my wife.” Was that the only candidate he was holding in reserve, “in case?”
            I believe the majority of the western rite an other fantasticaly titled ‘American Orthodox’ jurisdictions that apang up like mushrooms in the 30s and 40s all claiimed to be “in the Apostolic Suiccuession” becauase they had a certificate or the like loccked up in their safe showing they were granted autocephaly by Ofiesh….a real pioneer!

            Well all is not lost. The debate over whether clergy are deposed, defrocked, or laicized or removed from the clergy list has been settled They LOST their function: presbytery, diaconate, or episcopacy.

    • The Evangelicals had many talks with Fr. Meyendorff about entering Orthodoxy. In fact, they never considered speaking with anyone else except the OCA. The Evangelicals wanted all of their “priests” to be accepted as they were into Holy Orders of the Orthodox Church. Fr. Meyendorff and the OCA said, “No, each cleric would be examined and considered for ordination individually.” This is when the Evangelicals sought out Met. Philip who accepted them en masse; only to weed out the “questionables” later. Accepting the Evangelicals doubled the size of the AOCA from 100 parishes to 200. Met. Philip felt this a great accomplishment and feather in his cap. Later, Bishop Tikhon (retired) secretly told the Evangelicals (once they were unhappy with Met. Philip), that he would take them into the OCA. The fit hit the shan; + Tikhon denied this and certain Evangelicals sought to leave Met. Philip anyway.

      • Fr. George Washburn says

        If, as it seems to me on the face of what he has written, our pal Al is stating that the reception of the EOC in 1987 ipso facto doubled Antioch’s size in NA from 100 to 200 parishes he is *badly* mistaken. Our numbers were nowhere near that. Nowhere.

      • Sean Richardson says

        So many of these “facts” are just wrong. The reception of the Evangelical Church added about 20 parishes to the Antiochian Archdiocese (not 100), and several of these were very small, mere house-churches (some of these house churches have since grown to be fairly good-sized parishes). The reason the OCA rejected the Evangelicals was because the OCA felt that it was too controversial at the time and the OCA didn’t want to further jeopardize their standing in the world Orthodox community.As to “they never considered speaking with anyone other than the OCA”, let us not forget the trip that many of the Evangelical bishops made to Constantinople. Finally, it should not be forgotten that the primary catalyst of the Evangelicals joining the Antiochians was (Fr.) John Bartke who knew the Evangelicals from their Jesus-freak days at Berkeley in the late-1960s, made a connection between them and Fr. Alexander Schmemann and then set up the meeting between the Evangelicals and the Patriarch of Antioch in Woodland Hills, California. Al Jizzara needs to get in-touch with more of the facts.

        • Archpriest John Morris says

          The leadership of the Evangelical Orthodox went to Constantinople hoping to meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch. However, he refused to meet with them. After they returned to the U.S. Fr. John Bartke arranged for them to meet with Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch, who was in California at the time. He met with them and later spoke with Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh who urged him to take them into Orthodoxy since Constantinople was not interested in them. Before he left the US to go back to the Middle East, the Patriarch urged Metropolitan Philip to help them become Orthodox. After meetings with them, they agreed to come into Orthodoxy as part of the Antiochian Archdiocese. However, it is not true that they were received without proper screening. Each candidate for ordination had to send their credentials to Englewood for review. Men who were divorced and remarried were denied ordination, for example. In each region, liaisons were appointed by the Metropolitan to prepare them and their congregations for reception into Orthodoxy. I was in charge of the EOs in the Midwest.

    • Fr. John,

      You are absolutely correct! The Antiochian Archdiocese has been missionary minded for many years and well before the Evangelical Orthodox ever appeared on the stage. It’s kind of ironic for anyone to be saying that the Autocephaly of the OCA is dead now because it was pretty much dead on arrival. No offense, but the reason that the OCA is not accepted by a large number of Orthodox groups throughout the world is that there wasn’t buy in at the get go. Russia was at a particularly vulnerable time in the early 1970’s and were in no real position to be managing the Russian churches in America. So perhaps we could say that they gave in at a moment of weakness.

      The historical truth is that Serbians, Ukrainians, Carpatho-Russians, Romanians, the churches under ROCOR, etal. all said no to the autocephaly. You’ll notice that I left out the Antiochians and the Greeks here. It is simply a lie to say that the OCA had buy-in from all of the other jurisdictions except the Greeks and Antiochians, as if it is the Greeks’ and Antiochians’ faults that the OCA autocephaly wasn’t accepted throughout the world. And then to continue to sell the Kool-Aid to the OCA faithful that the OCA is the only English speaking missionary minded Orthodox jurisdiction in America is ridiculous. (Please, no one get back up on the horse about Arabic liturgies either, as if this is a defense of the OCA – there are just as many parishes in the OCA singing badly butchered Slavonic as there are Arabic churches — both churches have their faults).

      The really painful truth is that the OCA should probably join forces with Antiochians. They are the two most similar Orthodox jurisdictions in America and share a common vision for America. They already share Christian Education materials, youth gatherings, theological training, and some music. Most OCA churches no longer serve vigils, so liturgically doing just Vespers on Saturday nights and before feast days is consistent with both jurisdictions. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the continual overlap that exists: Archbishop Joseph and Archbishop Benjamin on the West coast, Bishop Michael and Bishop Nicholas on the East coast, etc. And do you really need a national headquarters in Syosset, NY and one less than an hour away in Englewood, NJ? It all seems pretty silly.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        You’re so absolutely right. But will this happen? Not while pride and refusal to face hard-nosed truth about reality still rules.

  8. Michael Bauman says

    George, there were a lot of other converts to the Church whom Antioch accepted at approximately the same time as the EOC folk. What was happening was a movement of the Holy Spirit, IMO. Antioch responded. Others did as well. We are still seeing the movement toward the Church and it would only expand and broaden if we were more open to it and less concerned about all this nonsense. Your explanation is simply formed on the wrong assumptions.

    • geo michalopulos says

      Michael, right you are. There have been converts trickling into the various jurisdictions for the better part of a hundred years. My point is that the mass conversion of the Evangelical Orthodox in 1983 was a significant turning point in the history of Orthodoxy in America. A watershed if you will.

      I paint with broad brush strokes when it comes to the Grand Narrative. I know history is messy and its easy to get lost in the details but that’s ok. What we remember is what’s important and the reception of Gilchrist, Sparks, et al was a significant event.

      btw, how’s your wife?

      • Sean Richardson says

        George, the reception of the Evangelicals was in 1987 and began at St. Michael’s Antiochian Church in Van Nuys, not 1983. However, I think that your point is essentially correct, that this was a turning point for the Antiochian Church. One wonders what would have happened had the OCA accepted the Evangelicals first, after all, they had the first opportunity.

        • Pere LaChaise says

          The EOC-to-AEOM conversion is significant, in the way that it represents a crucial vanguard movement signaling a wider interest in Orthodoxy among Evangelicals that belies the actual modest numbers of souls converted to Orthodoxy.

          My question about it is: where, a generation and a half later, is the second act in this triumphalistic narrative? Has the AOCNA managed another such coup, or has the OCA? It begins to feel like a flash in the pan, a one-time watershed that ought to produce a more watershed event but so far has not. Success should beget success, but I see that numbers are stable and the 1987 event has not led to deeper integration of an English-speaking, mission-minded Orthodoxy here.

          What I see in the AOCNA with the creation of the AEOM is an all-English mission which is cordoned off from the more typically Arabic assembly of the greater jurisdiction. It is well known in clergy circles that there is a fair amount of chauvinism among Arab clergy and the noobs will never really ‘cut it’ in their eyes. AEOM remains a subjurisdiction with its own norms, at variance with general standards of AOCNA, safely ‘ghettoized’. It’s an unflattering picture I draw, and I don’t mean to be offensive, but that’s how I see it. The mainstream AOCNA has minimalized the impact of the AEOM through its policies of containment of the American threat.

          Maybe someone here could enlighten me with good news to the contrary that would correct my jaundiced view.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Pere, come to Wichita and see. When I came into the Church here in 1987, St. Mary was pretty much an Arabic ghetto (yet they received me and my family), St. George not too much beyond that and there was a Greeker than Greek GOA parish that was limping along without a priest (still limping, still no priest)

            Now: St. Mary is a growing parish with a young, dynamic convert priest and a life-long Arabic deacon whose Arabic is almost non-existent and a pretty diverse parish family. St. George is a Cathedral parish with a parish family that still includes mostly Arabs to be sure but also a lot of mutts like me, Ethiopians, Romanians, Greeks, Russians, Egyptian, a native American or two, American blacks two priests and a deacon who were once (respectively: Roman Catholic, Church of Christ, and Mennonite, the latter two relatively recent converts). A western rite parish, St. Michael’s has formed when a local Episcopalian priest and a number of his flock left the Episcopal communion when Eugene Robinson was consecrated as a “bishop” in the Episcopal Church. We have year ’round catechesis classes in all three parishes populated by folks from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.

            During that time the number of Antiochian parishes/missions has gone from 3 to 9 with more on the way–all of the new ones coming from Protestants of various stripes. One in particularly was an evangelical congregation who made the journey together and is in a small town about 60 miles away. The number of parishes in the diocese has more than doubled and continues to grow. Bishop Basil is in the slow organic process of building a monastery, St. Silouan’s.

            We have an endowment fund for the support and founding of missions (The Bishop Basil Endowment Fund).

            I really don’t care what it looks like on the coasts or the large cities, here in the heartland where it counts what you describe is pretty much non-existent despite the fact that we have deep and strong roots in our mother Church, the Patriarchate of Antioch. Those roots allow us the stability and authenticity to welcome all and continue to testify to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

            My impression of the situation you describe is not that the AEOM was walled off (in fact it was officially disbanded many years ago) but that the people of the AEOM have maintained their own practices which Met. Philip has not forced them to abandon (nothing wrong with that BTW and to me shows great pastoral sense).

            So, to any an all, especially to those on the coasts–come and see.

          • Sean Richardson says

            Pere, I think that you have suggested something that many convert clergy have recognized for decades, it’s “the elephant in the room”, so to say. The Antiochian clergy I know have often talked about the uneven treatment of Arabic clergy vs. convert clergy. One of the places this can be most clearly seen is in the distribution of the “Non-vested” retirement plan in the Antiochian Archdiocese (although everyone who has been around any length of time will swear, and one day they may have to, in court, that it was NEVER stated as a non-vested program until the last fifteen or so years). The Antiochians are perfectly willing to give a full retirement to a priest of Arabic descent wo was charged, and retired, after sexual misconduct charges were leveled, but have refused to grant a convert priest who left the Archdiocese in exceptional standing any retirement at all (and yes, names can be provided if George would like them).

            I would like to suggest that with the passing of that first generation of leadership in the AEOM, and with many of those who held the vision in the Antiochian Archdiocese who have died or retired, something has indeed been lost. That spirit needs to be rekindled.

            • Come to Jacksonville Florida and see an almost 100 % Arabic Liturgy at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church with “Las Vegas’ Nights. You know things are bad when Palestinians come to the Greek Orthodox Parish because they want English in the Liturgy. “Archpriest ” John Morris is not going to say anything against this or Met. Phillip because he knows all too well who controls the pension. It isn’t as cowardly as it looks… its just survival of the quiet.

      • Michael Bauman says

        George, she is out of the hospital after 6 days and her healing is progressing by the grace of God. Our priest came the night she was admitted to the hospital and anointed her with myrrh from the Hawaiian Iveron icon. For all of you who prayed, thank you.

        • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

          Dear Michael,
          I’m sorry, I missed the posting of your wife’s illness. Could you state her Christian name, so that I might pray for her? BTW, tommorrow would be your namesday old style and of course Entrance of the Theotokos on the new style. I shall remember you and the other Michaels at Liturgy tommorrow.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Fr. Andrei, she is Merry Margaret but identifies with our Lady the Theotokos. When she was preparing to be received she ask Bishop Basil about taking another name. Bishop Basil said: “Merry Margaret, how many saints names do you need?”

            Thank you Father.

            • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

              Michael, you’re welcome! Actually, our paths may have crossed in Wichita back in 2006. I was still serving in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the time. There was an elderly Russian lady, once my parishioner in Detroit, who had moved to Kansas to live with her sister. I was at the Cathedral for Vespers with Iraida, I believe it was the eve of the Archangel Michael,NS. His Grace was not there, but a man in a black clerical shirt approached me for a blessing. I thought he was a deacon, but was shocked to see him vest as a priest and do the Vespers! Later, chiding him for having tricked a blessing out of me, I related to him how a visiting priest in Chicago once bestowed a blessing on a little old monk, whom he ran into. The old monk smiled and kissed the priest’s hand. The priest later found out that the old monk was Archbishop Alypy! May God Bless you and your wife!

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Gillquist, George. Father Peter Gillquist; the man who gently squeezed my shoulder when I walked by him in our parish in July 2009. Some of you will know why that was significant. He was being kind. Seems like we need to get his name right.

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      There have been many converts in the Antiochian Archdiocese for many years, long before anyone even head of the Evangelical Orthodox including a very large percentage of the clergy. The Southwest Region began an active missions program before I went to seminary back in 1978.

  9. Your Grace et al,

    Here is the link to the article by Svetlana Vays.

    • Thanks, Alyosha says

      I went to the article by Ms. Vais, who appears not to be on their staff but someone who seeks to be published there from time to time. I looked all over the site and could find no Russian original. This makes the English in the article you linked puzzlingly poor. It reads like a very bad and possibly quick translation, but where’s the original?

      She has brought a canonical anomaly to our attention. However, there may indeed be a loophole if a skete or a metochian has been formed from an existing monastery. One aspect of this, however, would be that if the monastery from which the metochian is formed is on ground belonging to Russia, such as the ground under the cathedrals in NY and Baltimore, then the metochian would have to be on the same. But I am not sure of the status of the ground of all the MP churches and properties, i.e. are all Russian property?

  10. Amazed in the Midwest says


    What I found the most “amazing” aspect of Ms. Vas’ rant was her (Stokoe’s) thinking that even ROCOR should not be setting up missions in the USA. That is both a totally uninformed and ridiculous conclusion. Uninformed because the Tomos never envisioned a reunited ROC to include the MP and ROCOR here in the USA and ridiculous because the OCA has no authority to tell anyone they can’t set up missions and new parishes in the USA, even the MP it would appear!

    This may be a test balloon being sent up by the MP to see what happens. In fact there is really nothing the OCA can do about the MP starting new communities, even if they are done so in an oblique manner such as the Spokane mission/monastery chapel attachment. Nonetheless, Russians are going to this community (now in ID. across the border from Spokane) and are being serviced.

    The OCA has talked and talked about doing a better job ministering to Russians and for the most part that means Russians are surely welcome at OCA communities but those communities are not going to change much to accommodate them. I think a Russian mission was started in Jacksonville as an outreach from an english only parish, and that seems to be doing well, so it is not that the OCA has done nothing, but not enough according to the MP. And now with ROCOR the de facto outreach to Russians in the USA, they can plant as many Russian speaking missions to satisfy the needs of Russians here. This is just another and maybe the best example of the MP having little use for the OCA anymore, except to stick it to the EP as you point out. Yes, the OCA is here, but they have little interest in serious ministry to Russians, which ironically is a fast growing population and could have been a boon to declining OCA membership.

    My conclusion is that this attempt by Ms. Vas speaks more to the loss of OCA direction than anything else. Her melodramatic outburst says more about how the OCA has wasted its time in recent years playing Don Quixote and attacking windmills of their own making and not tending the sheep God has given them. As a result, they have been passed over my other Orthodox jurisdictions that are tending to business, even in the midst oft their own scandals and missteps, but they have not thrown the baby out with the bathwater as the saying goes and have not engaged in cannibalism of its leadership.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      The German or Yiddish German word/name “Weiss” is transliterated into Cyrillic phonetically. The “W” becomes the Cyrillic “v” sound, and the “ei” (pronounced like the personal pronoun ‘I”) becomes the Cyrillic “a” plus y-glide or “i-kratkoe” resulting in SLAVONIC “v-ay-s.” The author (or her husband) has an ethnically German or Yiddish German family name: “Weiss”, pronounced like “vice”. I suppose the spelling “Vays” is as good a disguise as any… Machine translating at its worst.

    • Annunciation Orthodox Church is an offshoot of St. Justin Martyr {OCA} with an outreach to Russian speaking people in Jacksonville, Florida. ROCOR has now opened another Mission to Russian speakers in Jacksonville Florida called St. John Maximovitch Russian Orthodox Church…I have no idea how many people want a Russian Church or how many Russians there are in Jacksonville but ROCOR opening up another Mission sounds odd. There was a WR ROCOR Mission but it closed recently.

    • Dear Amazed,

      I tend to agree with you about the OCA’s lack of direction, particularly when it comes to outreach to new Russians. My impression is that a number of the OCA central administrators have spent their lives distancing themselves from the Russian church, perhaps in an attempt to emphasize the OCA as a local church. Ironically, the very act of distancing themselves from the Russian church has led the OCA to neglect an important duty of a local church: outreach. Such neglect was a major reason for dressing-down the OCA recently received from the Russian church.

      But, I think it is also a diocesan problem–diocesan bishops bless new communities not the OCA central administration–that is exacerbated by the number of widowed diocese we have. Locum tenens, as place holders, are probably less interested in taking outreach risks than a ruling bishop. Furthermore, it is my sense that a number of dioceses that have bishops don’t have the energy or imagination to keep what they have. This lack of energy and imagination can be even be seen at the diocesan council and deanery levels.

      I get the feeling that the OCA as whole is tired. It is tired by scandal and tired by bruising infighting. During the past decade, a lot of people retreated to their own communities and drew up the drawbridge. It is going to take a while for that drawbridge to come down and for people to feel energized and optimistic again. Outreach is really difficult to do when you are not feeling optimistic.

      Circling back to the central administration. Amazed, we generally disagree about the sexual misconduct guidelines. I will concede the central administration does nothing to create a feeling of optimism by its continuous reference to these guidelines. Sad (but necessary) topics don’t generate optimism. Perhaps the OCA would be best served considering ways to generate optimism.


    • The OCA’s mission to minister to Russian immigrants should not be to establish Russian missions. Rather, it should be to immerse them in English services and proactively teach them English. We don’t need any more ethnic ghettos in the church.

      • When the majority of Orthodox in a large metropolitan area are of foreign origin (e.g., Russians, Greeks, Romanians etc.), an English-only, proud-not-to-use-foreign-language parish becomes a self-isolated ethnic ghetto. And the job of the church with respect to immigrants is not to teach them English, or Russian, or instill in them national pride of one type or another, but rather to help them on their way to God and salvation. Anything that helps this task is good, including using multiple languages in services. Anything that detracts from it (for example, any kind of nationalism in the church, be it Russian, Greek, or American) is bad and should be rejected.

        • Amazed in the Midwest says


          You have hit the nail on the head. Greeks, Russians, etc. are proud to be identified with their ethnic roots and an “American exceptionalism” Orthodox Church telling them they need to listen to worship in the “American” language may work for some but not all.

          The OCA long ago went the “American way” with instilling the New Calendar as law. They went to court over it, they lost parishes but more importantly they lost the minds and hearts of people. Is the Calendar so important that you would divide families, cause turmoil and mistrust? It was for the OCA Synod back then and now the OCA looks rather puny with the reunification of the MP with ROCOR and the OCA was “forced” to eat a lot of crow with priests and parishes that left for ROCOR are now “legit.” Just another example of a marginalized OCA.

          When I look at OCA clergy promoting”We are the Legacy” crap compared to those bad old “ethnic” parishes that are trying to minister to people where they are at and not trying to turn them into new age Orthodox, even if they serve in Greek or Slavonic, I would rather be a part of a parish that I know is truly part of Orthodox “legacy” and not some made up inclusive/WCC/OCA/Paris School/LGBT/We are the Legacy sellout.

  11. Close the Curtain says

    What would be so bad about returning the OCA to the MP? Russian bishops have liturgical and administrative skills, and they don’t take any crap from their clergy or parish councils. In America, we need to learn to be OBEDIENT. Getting the MP, OCA, and ROCOR under one administrative structure would solve a lot of current problems, and prevent future ones. We are languishing here, while Russia has opened an average of 3 churches a day for the last 25 years. So let’s just go back to the mothership, and get ourselves organized. Then, in 50 or 100 years, the Patriarch could spin us off again on our own, if we’re ready.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Close the Curtain, we will never be ready under your scenario. We will not be ready until we are willing to be obedient that is true, but the obedience is not to a particular hierarch or ‘jurisdiction’ but the Apostolic call to unity.

      Of course, there are those who think that the more disorganized we are, the greater chance that someone will survive the coming hard times.

      IMAO, if persecution actually comes, as I think it will, unity will be achieved between those who are true to the faith and unity will be achieved in a different body by those who are not.

      • Mchael Kinsey says

        Where the eagles are gathered together, there also will the body be. A hard, disliked Holy Scripture, spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. Those of the great falling away will not be gathered here, while those who do know their God will do valiantly. These will Do the Will of God, the Vision. The others will despise them.

    • Dear Curtain says

      You say

      What would be so bad about returning the OCA to the MP?

      I say we should continue to work for an American Patriarchate. There is no perfect Patriarchate. We are Americans, have extensive lands and peoples in our own hemishpere, and probably should have both northern and a southern patriarchates. The northern would be primarily English and French, and the southern primarily Spanish and Portuguese. Other local and natal languages could be accommodated as well. God is with us! With Him, what cannot be accomplished?

      • Sean Richardson says

        Dear Curtain, my suspicion is there are five times as many people in North America who speak Spanish as speak French. Why would the northern be “English and French”? All, for one province? Where would Central America fit into you suggestion? However, beyond this, it might be nice to focus on an America patriarch, but please forgive me if I don’t hold my breath.

    • Fr. George Washburn says

      Hi friends:

      A drizzling misty morning in Santa Cruz that we’ll happily call “rain”after months of nothing in the driest year on record.

      I find “Close’s” line of reasoning *extremely* naive to the extent that it is based on a comparison between the stated rate of church openings in Russia to the rate of OCA church openings here over the last 25 years. The doings in a land culturally and historically state-church Orthodox coming out of decades of oppression and shutting (not to say desecration and destruction) of churches cannot be meaningfully compared to the growth – or lack thereof – of Orthodoxy in a Western, media-dominated democracy which eschews any connection between church and state,

      The MP would do just fine I am sure tending a flock of heavily emigre parishes with culturally Russian clergy all predicated on a pretty permanent tie (and flow of money) to Moscow, but that is not what the OCA is by a long shot.

      As a “mothership” for some imagined attempt to grow an authentically American Orthodox Church? How can you possibly substantiate that? The cultural disconnect is a huge one, and it would take a very long time, an extraordinary commitment, and a succession of extraordinary individuals (whom one doesn’t often see in cultural church leadership) to bridge the giant gaps in language, geography, cultural assumptions, and economic realities and make a functional and thriving N. American Church.

      I am afraid the suggestion of a return to the “mothership” is another one of those nice idealistic possibilities that dissolves when subjected to critical examination. Sure there have been a lot of problems in Syosset over the years, but how can this idea possibly be seen as the fix?

      very doubtfully,

      Fr. George

      • M. Stankovich says

        It is likewise interesting to note that Dr. Zoe Knox, author of Russian Society and the Orthodox Church: Religion in Russia after Communism, who has devoted significant sociological scholarship to the “mothership” of late, demonstrates that there has been a resurgence of faith in Russia; a resurgence of identification of citizens as “Orthodox Christian” in official documentation; in calls for the Church to restore “moral order” to society in general; to place more trust in the Orthodox Church than in any other “institution”; and support governmental controls on the establishment of other religious groups with equal access and rights to function under the law as the Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, despite the continuous scolding of the Patriarch, it is rare that a scientific survey conducted since 2005 indicates that those who identify themselves as Orthodox Christians, who indicate they at least “occasionally” pray, and at least “occasionally” read the Scriptures exceed 30% in actual church attendance. That would be, “свет, никого нет дома.” (Lights on, nobody home). On the bright side, there will be plenty of room for those of you who missed the bus to ROCOR.

        • Russia’s position on lists of nations ranked by percentage of the population that “attends church” is dead last, or near last**, in every survey or poll I’ve ever seen — regardless of the criteria defining “church attendance,” or the methodology used, evidently. Nigeria consistently rates near the top. Evidently a much higher percentage of the population attends church in Communist China than in Russia. Japan and Russia look to be about even on this measure. About half of Russians never attend church services.

          From a recent survey of attendance on major Orthodox feast days, by city (Russian Federation):

          . . . new data show that the numbers of people taking regular [sic] or even in the holiday services of the Russian Orthodox Church are far lower than the church itself or its political allies routinely claim, as data collected by the Russian interior ministry show.

          Self-reporting of church attendance is notoriously inaccurate, however, and if I remember correctly this is cross-cultural: people lie about it, a lot, claiming to attend far more often than they really do. So the actual numbers in Russia may be even more embarrassing than this. Why those (very, very few) who actually participate in any active and measurable way in the liturgical life of the ROC do so appears to be a rather complex question, and it is far from clear to me that even this tiny, tiny percentage are all motivated by profound spiritual seeking, based on the facts and figures for that nation. All-too-temporal and careerist motivations may well be strongly represented in the mix of significant drivers these days, in both Church and State.

          Any objective analyst of these facts and figures must entertain the suspicion that, however spiritual or even Christian contemporary Russians may be, something has caused all but a very very few of them to be profoundly allergic to the ROC. The fact that she’s headed by an oligarch who evidently got filthy rich profiting from the tax-free (i.e., Church-exempt [sic]) trade of cigarettes and booze to his fellow Russians may have something to do with that. Given this, and the fact that he was nevertheless elected to the Patriarchate by his fellow hierarchs, I confess an anthropological if not particularly pious interest in why any American would want to be tied or retied to her apron strings. This fascinates me.

          ** 4% last year, according to a translation of this document.

          • ** 4% last year, according to a translation of this document.

            That is, 4.3% of Russian believers “attended church regularly,” according to the translation I read.

    • Pere LaChaise says

      What would be wrong about the OCA becoming part of the MP? What country or planet are you living in/on? Americans are not Russians – that’s what’s wrong with it. It’s just Not Going To Happen.

  12. Francis Frost says

    This thread already includes several misinterpretations and mis-statements of fact.

    First, the Antiochian Archdiocese was the first jurisdiction to publish and utilize English texts to any significant degree. Father Seraphim Nassar’s “Prayers and Services” commonly referred to as “the 5 pounder” dates to the 1930’s. Even George Papadeos “Holy Week and Pascha” pre-dates the OCA publications of the 1970’s. The use of English was still tentative and very controversial in the OCA of my youth. Indeed, until the 1970’s there were more published translations into Spanish than into English.

    Secondly, the growth of the Antiochian Archdiocese, particularly here in the what is now the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, pre-dates the reception of the Evangelical Orthodox by nearly a decade. The “Wichita Awakening” dates to a series of lectures, retreats and choir events, featuring Father Alexander Schmemmann and other lecturers from SVS, sponsored by St Mary’s and St George, the Antiochian parishes in Wichita as well as Holy Trinity OCA in Kansas City. This process led to a real involvement of a generation of young people in what had hitherto been struggling ethnic parishes. The effects of that revival are still at work today throughout the US.

    As for the reception of the AEOM, I suspect that somewhere in a drawer there is a hidden chapter to Father Peter Gilquist’s book “Becoming Orthodox” a chapter he suppressed out of respect for Father Schmemmann and Meyendorff. I remember in the spring of that year the “Orthodox Church” newspaper (in those days it was a monthly paper mailed to our homes) had full front page coverage of the AEOM’s interest in Orthodoxy and their decision to convert en mass. The next month there was a notice that he Holy Synod had designated Bishop Dmitiri of Dallas to conduct the discussion with the AEOM. The following issue had a one paragraph notice from Vladyka Dmitri, who noted that he had met with representatives of the AEOM. He then stated that he envisioned a period of discussion and reflection to last somewhere between 2 and 10 years. After that, there was dead silence for about 9 months until the news that the AEOM would be received in the Antiochian Archdiocese.

    When the Ben Lomond parish underwent its crisis, I remember hearing self congratulatory remarks about how smart out leaders were to have avoided that mess. But the reality is that Saidna Phillip had the faith and courage to take a chance, one that was roundly criticized by some, but a chance that in the end proved to be beneficial for the Antiochian Archdiocese and Orthodox America as a whole. Look at he Orthodox Study Bible. Where did the impetus and much of the labor for that project come from?

    The hysteria about whether the Tomos is observed is over wrought and tiresome. The OCA’s autocephaly was never an end in itself. If you, George, had been in the OCA in the 1960’s or 1970’s, you would know that. The truth is that the founders of the OCa always preferred a relationship with the Ecumenical Patriarch. In fact they only started negotiations with Moscow after being directed to do so by Patriarch Athenagoras of blessed memory.

    Metropolitan Savva’s remarks should be no surprise to those paying attention. The Chambesy accord clearly notes that the Episcopal Assemblies are convened under the chairmanship of the local EP Archbishop, as representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch. This is not only consistent with the responsibility of the EP as “primes inter pares”; but it is simple common sense. After all the Greek diaspora is the largest Orthodox emigre community throughout the world. Here in America, the Greek Archdiocese is as large as all the other jurisdictions combined. Or perhaps, we want to enshrine the principle of the “the tail wags the dog”?,

    It is clear that the ROCOR MP wants to play the spoiler. ROCOR’s member have always considered themselves as a community apart and above what is often dismissively termed “World Orthodoxy” or “Orthodoxy Light”.

    Frankly, Orthodox unity in America would have been easier had ROCOR remained schismatic, or had they been required to repent of their “canonical anomalies”. While some harrumph at the “papal ambitions” of the Phanar, they ignore the fact that he ROCOR-MP reunion created a universal, extra territorial, phyletist jurisdiction, which is far more problematic. After all the half dozen schismatic “traditionalist” groups or “Synods in Resistance” created at the hands of the ROCOR bishops still exist, still create confusion and scandal, and no-one has ever been held to account for that.

    In the end, God’s will be done. That is all and that is sufficient.

    Francis Frost

    • George Michalopulos says

      Very well, said, Mr Frost. When the history of American Orthodoxy is written, your bishop will rank alongside Dmitri of Thrice-blessed memory as one of the premier evangelists of the turn of the century.

      As for my understanding of the history of English translations and outreach, I never said that the Metropolia was the first and only. I only stated that it was under the foresight of Metropolitan Philip that the Evangelical Orthodox were mass-received and that that was a turning point in American Orthodox history. Certainly the Antiochian jurisdiction exploded in numbers and missions/parishes since then. (What was it before? less than 100? Now there are over 250 AOCNA parishes/missions. By any definition that’s “explosive growth.”) Please see my reply to Mr Bauman for a more nuanced explanation.

      Although I agree with most of your facts, you might be wrong by saying that the Greek diaspora is the largest in the world. It may have been at one time but I believe the Russians have overtaken my people in this regard. Case in point: when I was in Istanbul in 2000, the Grand Archdeacon at the time told me that there were fewer than 3,000 Greeks living there but that the numbers of Russians had increased to over 10,000. How extensive is the Russian diaspora? I don’t know actual numbers, although I will say that recently I went to the doctor’s office and filled out a questionnaire. One of the questions was which language are you most comfortable in talking? English, Spanish, or Russian? I was astounded.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        Plus there is apparently a large community of deaf Russians in Texas. Not sure why they chose to settle there, but here is this anecdote to add to your comment.

      • Michael Bauman says

        BTW, it was not just Met. Philip but Patriarch Ignatius of blessed memory. It was Patriarch Ignatius after meeting with AEOM representatives in Los Angles who blessed Met. Philip to proceed. Met. Anthony Bashir blessed the printing of the English service book.

        To quote from the on-line history of the Antiochian Archdiocese:

        A pioneer in the use of the English language in the Orthodox churches in the New World, the Antiochian Archdiocese has since 1917 kept in print and available Isabel Hapgood’s pioneering English Service Book; it printed the first English music books for choirs in the 1920s; and its Father Seraphim Nassar produced in 1938 the first – and still the only – comprehensive collection of texts needed for the chanting of complete services in English (The Book of Divine Prayers and Services). A full-fledged publishing department was established in 1940, and it has produced and distributed numerous titles in religious education, sacred music, and liturgical services.

  13. Close the Curtain says

    What is the purpose of the OCA existing as a “national” church? To protect a dozen people’s jobs at a multimillion dollar mansion? We’re blessed that the Romanians and Canadians even bother to stay…since they both could easily go jurisdiction shopping. If the OCA is going to stand as a “national”, North American church, then we need to get our collect act together. That means laity, parish councils, deaneries, Central Administration, dioceses, MC, and Holy Synod working together in a spirit of love. Syosset remains too internally focused on policies, when we need leadership in the areas of parish growth and missions.

    • Disgusted With It says

      I wouldn’t think it’s as simple as “shopping” for another jurisdiction. The Archdiocese of Canada, even with various legal restrictions because of the border, is a fully canonical part of the OCA. The Romanian Episcopate is a different situation altogether in that they need to correct their canonical anomaly, having broken from their Mother Church without canonical release. So don’t expect to see either one knocking on random jurisdictions’ doors anytime soon.

      • Close the Curtain says

        Disgusted with it, The OCA Romanians have established a parallel administrative structure, which means they already enjoy a lot of latitude. When they plant a new church, no matter its geography or proximity to other Bishops, it goes under ArchBishop Nathaniel. So what does he or they “get” by being part of the OCA?

        The Canadians don’t even pay dues to Syossett…by law they are prevented from doing so.

        Bishops Alejo and Irenee are pretty much ignored during the AACs, and are forced to listen to hours of discussions about a “national” church.

        When you back these three out of the OCA, what’s really left that is so important that we couldn’t all come under the MP?

  14. I gave up on the idea of American autocephaly and unity some time ago. It is wise to put the whole matter in perspective and then one can see how irrelevant the whole discussion is.

    The Orthodox in America represent, at most, 1-1 1/2 % of the American populace; that despite the fact that the Orthodox have been on the North American continent for over 200 years. Coincidentally, the Orthodox in America represent about 1-1 1/2 % of world Orthodoxy.

    Evidently the Americans do not want what we are selling.

    The theory seems to be that we need an “American Orthodoxy” to remedy this problem. Yet American moral culture has decayed to a frightful extent from what it was in earlier eras. The precise value of the modern American culture which we are supposed to meet half-way has yet to be established and, in my opinion, is a chimera. America should be treated like unconverted pagan lands by Orthodox whose faith and practice is strong enough to overcome the challenges.

    Alas, this is not to be since American Orthodoxy is so weak. So the question is “why is it so weak?” The OCA, purportedly an autocephalous body, has not had much luck in converting America. Yes, in the diocese of the South it has established innumerable little skeleton parishes, and is to be commended for that. This modest gain has been achieved regardless of American Orthodox unity by a hierarch (Abp. Dimitri) who had the will to pursue it. Unity was not a factor. More to the point, it is a drop in the bucket; demographically insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

    Moreover, the largest Orthodox body, by far, in America is GOARCH, which collectively has no desire or illusions about any coming autocephaly. More-moreover, the practices of GOARCH and those of ROCOR, for example, are so incompatible as to make any talk of unity a real stretch. When you add in the fact that the number of actual persons self-identifying as Orthodox in America is habitually grossly inflated, you begin to see that we’re not behaving rationally in pursuing these discussions.

    We hear talk of an American Patriarch. This is silly. Even an autocephalous American church would not be entitled to designate itself as a Patriarchate for a few hundred years. We would be autocephalous with a presiding Metropolitan for the foreseeable future.

    But the real thing to look at is that America is culturally disintegrating. Those churches and parishes here that most effectively answer and provide a refuge from this disintegration, which stand in greatest contrast to the dying culture, will succeed. As the culture gets worse, the reputation of those jurisdictions which side with the popular culture will wane since it will become evident that they are the problem, not the solution, and people will be looking for a lifeboat, not a supposedly safer deck chair on the sinking ship.

    Let the process work itself out. It is our God separating the wheat from the chaffe. Work with Him, not against Him. He will prevail in any case and working with Him just helps you to avoid unnecessarily complicating your life.

    If you wonder what Russia is doing, it is pursuing the propagation of Orthodoxy in the least controversial way it responsibly can do so. It is spreading pious, old-calendar parishes while acquiescing to the “autocephaly” of the OCA. It is reclaiming its parishes abroad expropriated after the Revolution. It is attempting to fill a vacuum in leadership when it comes to the propagation of Orthodoxy in the world and defense of Christians abroad against persecution by Islam and progressivism. All the while, it is avoiding claiming any “Third Rome” status and recognizing the primacy inter pares of Constantinople while simply sidestepping this errant see as a practical matter.

    Well over half of all Orthodox in the world are under Moscow and other Eastern European patriarchates. Only about 10% were represented at the meeting of the “ancient Patriarchates” recently convened to discuss matters in the Middle East. Moscow is simply pursuing the unity and evangelization of the Orthodox faith with the tools it has been given, being conscientious to set this faith in contrast to the dying mores of the West rather than engage in collaboration with the evil spirit of the age. To the MP and ROCOR, unity of the Church of Russia is more important than canonical niceties especially since such canonical niceties seem to be universally ignored by other Orthodox bodies in America in any case.

    • . . . Moscow is simply pursuing the unity and evangelization of the Orthodox faith with the tools it has been given, being conscientious to set this faith in contrast to the dying mores of the West rather than engage in collaboration with the evil spirit of the age.

      This is pretty rich. On what measure of “mores” do you think “this faith” stacks up so favorably with “the West?” This faith (this imperial cult, to speak more accurately) whose ineradicably inherent caesaropapism had prepped its people to suffer a loathsome tyrant to crush them under his heel for thirty years. An Empire whose alpha was Ivan the Terrible and whose omega was Joseph Stalin. A religion so little loved and valued by its own people that a few thousand individuals were all it took to murder those of its leaders who hadn’t fled, dynamite its property and turn most of what escaped demolition into museums and museum artifacts. “Contrast to the dying mores of the West” my a***. Comical hypocrisy.

      And what do you even mean by “the West?” Does your signifier “the West” include in its denotation the political trajectory of the English-speaking nations of the world? Do you seriously mean to compare that development qualitatively with what transpired concurrently in the Russian Empire over the past 1000 years? That wouid be just another bad joke, buddy.

      Those who know the ROC/MP best are the Russian people, presumably. Reliable, objectively determined percentages of Russian Federation citizens who actually participate in any meaningful sense in its liturgical life range from 2 – 5. Three to seven million souls. I’m afraid that’s not even close to a ringing endorsement of the ROC by those most competent to evaluate it — the Russian people. Interesting indeed that anyone would refer “the West” and its undoubted spiritual malaise to treatment by this therapist. With a straight face, anyway.

      Why should anyone take your poshlost pontifications seriously? Have you ever even been to Russia? What’s your evidentiary basis for these subjective if not hallucinatory opinions about the ROC?

      • Instead of “1000 years of Russian Empire,” I should have etched a comparison based on the Tsardom of Russia beginning with the illustrious reign of Ivan IV Vasilyevich, through almost three centuries of Empire proper from the autocracy inaugurated by Peter I until its “apotheosis” in the monstrous tyranny of Ioseb Besarionis dze Jugashvili. Let us pass over in polite silence Rus’s preceding five centuries.

        I’d only point out that the developmental trajectory in England and her colonies during this millenium was somewhat different. Her “dying mores” notwithstanding . . .

        To sum up my objection to the American (?) Misha’s odd Russian propaganda: “Nation,” Autocracy and orthodoxy is fine as a pious slogan for Russia, I guess. It takes all kinds. But you Americans who’d prefer the MP to call the shots for Orthodoxy here — you cannot be serious. Can you?

        • Fr. George Washburn says

          Mike, there is a simplistic, informal school of thought among *some* Orthodox in NA that some wag has dubbed “Fiddler on the Roof Orthodoxy.” Maybe a bit like some of the Latin rite RCs you’ve seen.

          It involves the idealization of all (a very selective all, to be sure) or maybe just most things Russian from an imagined (19th century?) period of “Holy Russia” in which the peasantry had a rich, deep, sincere and observant faith, flocked to monasteries on feast days, and were either unplagued by the passions or quite triumphant over them. People seek to imitate it. By comparison to the “open sewer” (as George with some real justification has termed it) of so much of contemporary media culture in NA and fueled by this or that recent fictionalized novel or movie version of a Golden Age, this pious chimera can be a captivating one to a people trained by public education, advertising and electioneering to think (or rather react unconsciously) to mass images, promised quick “solutions” to endemic problems (think wars on poverty, drugs and ignorance) and sound bites. Toss in the extremely praise-worthy, but perhaps sometimes idealized, labors of the pioneer Russian saints of NA in Alaska. That leads to simplistic thinking about the contemporary MP, especially when contrasted with the foibles of the real people we encounter over here.

          And as to “Helga’s” recent question about my supposed lack of contacts with Met Jonah and his friends, I have made three attempts to get in touch with him – one before and one after his resignation, and the third a couple of months ago – to which there has been no reply. Maybe i did not use the right method, but my life on the opposite side of a large continent seemed too full (or is it just disorganized?!?) to attempt more.

          • Well, in all fairness, I’m not sure it’s nostalgia and “simplistic” thinking. “Real” people have been converted to Orthodox parishes using the canonical Church calendar, where women cover their heads in obedience to St. Paul’s command, etc., for many centuries. One does not need to idealize 19th century Russia to observe that has been the Orthodox modus operandi for many, many generations. But suit yourself, Father.

            • Fr. George Washburn says

              Hi Misha:

              I was responding to Mike’s question about how people could seriously believe that wholesaling the OCA to the MP was a good idea. My comment about a certain kind of oversimplified and idealized thinking was meant to explain one possible way people could draw such a conclusion. It did not mention, let alone criticize, traditional forms of piety or church calendaring.


              Fr. G

              • Fr. George, I certainly didn’t read you as in any way criticizing traditional expressions of piety. I got just the opposite impression. Like the reactionary Mr. Misha, I myself am quite fond of such things. In spite of acerbic appearances to the contrary.

                I’ve noted that he has more than once signaled his especial approbation for head coverings, in obedience to St. Paul’s command. And I entirely agree with him on this point. One is moved and edified by the loveliness of these scarved ladies, adorned by a mien of chaste modesty, often not without a certain stylishness, too. Evidently the mayor of Moscow has been inspired to emulate tastefully this token of submission to authority.

          • Fr. George,

            You have written 146 comments here on Monomakhos, and it seems the vast majority of those comments pertain to Metropolitan Jonah. Since you’ve found the time to write all of these comments, couldn’t you also find more time to try to get in touch with the old friend who you are writing about?

            I’m sure George M. can give you the number if you need it.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              According to”Helga,” EVERYTHING pertains to Metropolitan Jonah, but that’s just his own idea.
              And if Father George “needed” (sic) Metropolitan Jonah’s telephone number he wouldn’t have to resort to consulting George M. Nice try at attempting to get this topic diverted to Helga’s obsession, though. It’s time to move on, though, and let Metropolitan Jonah move on to something beyond becoming a cult object.

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                My November 23, 1:38pm message above has still not been moderated; nevertheless, I’d hope that it will eventually appear. In the meantime, I feel that the drawing illustrating this topic originates in an imagination not unlike Barbara Drezhlo’s…it’s definitely Drezhlo’s style and humor.

        • Pere LaChaise says

          I appreciate this exchange on the relative strengths of Russian and Western culture. We Americans would not do well under Byzantine or Russian autocracy. It’s not in the cards. Our civilization may be dying, but I don’t think Russia is doing so hot itself.
          This is not to say I do not appreciate the relevant gifts of Russian Orthodoxy. We have to take up and incorporate what we can of it, and the other wholesome traditions of the Church throughout the world across the last two millennia.
          The quandary currently besetting us is that there is no past model of governance and interface with society we can use based on historical models, unless we use the general outline of pre-Constantinian Rome. The Russian/Byzantine model is completely unavailable, inapposite here.
          God save the Orthodox people, wherever He may find them!

      • This is actually somewhat entertaining. In order to defend what most Orthodox here would gladly admit to be ever degenerating decadent morality in the West, you trot out Ivan and Stalin as objects of comparison, also neglecting to note the actual numbers of Orthodox who regularly attend liturgy in this country as opposed to the officially propagated numbers of members usually cited. Instead of the 3-6 million usually cited by the Orthodox here as the number of self-identifying Orthodox in America, the number of those engaged in any meaningful sense is probably little more than 200,000 and the actual membership around 800,000. Same phenomenon as in Russia, except that we don’t have the history of Bolshevism to use as an excuse.

        So silly! Back to the drawing board, Mike.

        Numbers from the Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches (2011) – published by GOARCH:

        PS: By the way, I’m not suggesting that the MP should run things here in America. I’m suggesting that the MP is busy running its own operation, including its parishes here in the US, and that they are not particularly concerned with the activities of the other American Orthodox, other than to wish them “all the best”. Russia makes no claim whatsoever to territorial jurisdiction here in America. If it did, it would have to formally renounce its grant of autocephaly to the OCA. The other jurisdictions here will just have to work things out for themselves.

        • Francis Frost says

          Misha Wrote:

          I’m suggesting that the MP is busy running its own operation, including its parishes here in the US, and that they are not particularly concerned with the activities of the other American Orthodox, other than to wish them “all the best”. Russia makes no claim whatsoever to territorial jurisdiction here in America. If it did, it would have to formally renounce its grant of autocephaly to the OCA.

          Actually, the MP is carrying out the agenda of its sponsors in the Putin regime. In doing so, the MP’s bishops have been willing to violate the Sacred Canons and the Savior’s own commandments.

          After the 1992-93 invasion of Abkhazia, the Russian Orthodox Church created a schismatic “Abkhaz Orthodox Eparchy” on the ruins of the legitimate Orthodox Diocese of Tskhumi and all Abkhazia. The “leader” of this schismatic church is the de-frocked Archimandrite Vissarion Apliaa. Despite the obvious schismatic, un-canonical nature of this so-called “Eparchy”; the Moscow Patriarchate has ordained and assigned clergy to this diocese, and has funded its work. The Moscow Patriarchate only distanced itself from the Abkhaz after the Abkhaz clergy openly rebelled against Moscow and elected their own “bishop”. The Abkhaz wanted to worship in their own language rather than in Slavonic. The MP, however, still communes with the renegade hieromonk Vissarion Apliaa in violation of the canons

          The 2008 documentary “Orthodox Occupation” describes the participation of the Moscow Patriarchate and its clergy in the history of the aggression against the Georgian nation and the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate. 

           In the “Orthodox Occupation” television documentary, the Russian Bishop Panteleimon of Karabadino-Adyghe is shown con-celebrating with the schismatic Vissarion Apliaa, and officially awarding him the Order of St Seraphim of Sarov on behalf of the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate. This demonstrates the direct involvement of the Moscow Patriarchate in the creation of the schismatic “Eparchy” By its own admission, the Moscow Patriarchate stands self-condemned of both schism and heresy.  
          Following the 2008 invasion of Georgia, this same Vissarion Apliaa led the forces that expelled the last legitimate Orthodox clergy from the newly occupied Gali and Kodori districts in eastern Abkhazia in April 2009.  Vissarion Apliaa has been received into the ranks of the clergy by the Moscow Patriarchate, and Patriarch Kirill has personally con-celebrated with this renegade monk in violation of the Sacred Canons of the Orthodox Church. Reports of the persecution of the legitimate Georgian Orthodox church by the schismatic “Abkhaz Eparchy” and its sponsors may be read at the Forum 18 Religious Freedom web-site:

The Human Rights Watch Organization has posted updated reports on the on-going persecution of the Georgian Orthodox faithful in occupied Abkhazia

          In August 2008, the Russian bishops, Panteleimon of Kabardino-Adyghe and Feofan of Saratov (since transferred to Machkhala) accompanied the invasion forces and publicly “blessed” the weapons used to attack civilian populations. These “blessings” were televised first in Russia and then in Georgia. You may watch the video with your own eyes as it is included in the “Orthodox Occupation” video on You Tube. These infernal “blessings” are also included in Andrei Nekrasov’s documentary “Uroki Russkogo” (Russian Lessons), which debunks the Russian government’s propaganda campaign of justification for its invasion of Georgia. Mr.Nekrasov’s documentary is also available on You Tube in 12 segments, some with English sub-titles for those who do not understand the Russian language. Additional documentation of the truth behind the 2008 invasion can be read in the attached articles by Svante Cornell and Yulia Latyinina.

          On August 8, 2008, the missiles “blessed” by Bishop Feofan were used attack the ancient Ghvrtaeba Cathedral and the Shrine of the Protomartyr Razhden in Nikazi. On August 9th, the Russian military and their Ossetian allies looted, desecrated and burned this ancient House of God. These weapons were used in bombing raids and missile attacks on civilian populations throughout Georgia, including areas well outside the so-called “zone of conflict”.

          The 2008 documentary “Orthodox Occupation” has been re-released and posted on You Tube at the following url:

          Portions of this documentary plus additional footage are now available with English voice over, titled “Orthodox Occupancy Part 1 and Part 2” at the following urls:


           A television documentary on the destruction of Ghvertaeba and the work of reconstruction carried out by Metropolitan Isaiah may be viewed at:

           By their own actions, the bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate have violated Apostolic Canons, and they have spurned the Lord’s commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. They have specifically violated the Apostolic Canons 11-16, and 30 -35. 

          It should be noted here that clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate have also publicly “blessed” the latest nuclear armed ICBM missiles – the very missiles aims at American cities.

           Only God know the future of Orthodoxy in this country; but the MP is hardly the vehicle for evangelizing the American nation.

          • I suppose opinions vary.

            In the 1990’s, just after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, borders were in flux. For some reason, there was a separation of North Ossetia from South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the latter two being assigned to Georgia. From the moment this happened, the people in these areas were in rebellion against the government of Georgia, a little war that ended in a cease-fire and the de facto autonomy of these two areas.

            Perhaps at the prompting of the US government and/or Sen. John McCain (although the State Department vociferously denies it and asserts loudly that it warned Saakashvili not to attack), Georgia began killing civilians, bombarding and invading these two areas. Unfortunately for them, they also killed 15 Russian peacekeepers therein and some of the others killed had dual citizenship with Russia.

            So, Georgia got exactly what it deserved, though the loss of civilian life on all sides, including the Georgian, is regrettable. The Red Army went through them like sh*t through a goose and the only thing that temporarily saved Saakashvili was the airdrop of Condi Rice into Tblisi.

            Yep, the Russians used Chechens in their war against Georgia. All the better to leave a lasting impression so that the mistake is not repeated. There seems little chance of Georgia doing the same thing again though. Saakashvili’s successor, Ivanishvili and his entourage, upon meeting Saakashvili and his men after ousting his party in last year’s election, told him to his face that they intended to have him and his leadership thrown in prison. He has succeeded as far as several of Saakashvili’s men are concerned and, now that Saakashvili himself has been defeated at the pols, we can look forward to his flight or incarceration.

            Also, I have no objection whatsoever to Russian Orthodox clerics blessing troops and weapons. There is a very long tradition of this among the Slavic Orthodox with liturgical blessings for this very type of thing appearing in manuals at least back into the middle ages.

            But so what, unless you have some magical formula for stopping the spread of ROCOR parishes here, what is the significance of all this Sturm und Drang? You don’t like Russia or the Russian Orthodox?, fine and dandy with me. Let me repeat, there is no move afoot, at least of which I am aware, to bring the American Church under Moscow. In fact, the ROC is the only one of the “old world patriarchates” that makes no claims here. They have ROCOR and Patriarchal parishes but I have never heard even one hierarch of either the MP or ROCOR make any territorial claims here or even seriously discuss the reabsorption of the OCA, let alone any other church entities here.

            So, as much as you may not want to come under the jurisdiction of Moscow, neither does Moscow want to administer parishes of other jurisdictions here. Now, Constantinople would be quite elated to have as much of the American Church as possible under its omophorion, and they assert that it is their right to have this. If the non-Slavic and/or new calendar churches here want that, God bless and good luck.

            • Francis Frost says

              Misha wrote:

              So, Georgia got exactly what it deserved, though the loss of civilian life on all sides, including the Georgian, is regrettable. The Red Army went through them like sh*t through a goose and the only thing that temporarily saved Saakashvili was the airdrop of Condi Rice into Tblisi.

              Yep, the Russians used Chechens in their war against Georgia. All the better to leave a lasting impression so that the mistake is not repeated.

              First Misha needs to learn some history and international law. Georgia has a universally recognized right to defend its own national territory as well as its citizens when they are under attack. That right is enshrined in the UN Charter. No Georgian soldier ever set foot on Russian soil, not even one centimeter. All of thees battles have been fought on Georgian soil with Georgian Orthodox Christian as the victims of murder and ethnic cleansing. Examples of the suffering of innocents can be read at:
              Related photo album is at:

              Secondly by this very statement, Misha has declared that he is not a Christian and not a follower of Jesus Christ!

              The Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments… This is My commandment that you love one another as I have loved you” John 159-12

              Elsewhere, the Lord taught: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:13) , and in another place He taught ” But I say to you:, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you. do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Matthew 6:44

              Yet, you Misha, who claim to be an Orthodox Christian, approve of the murder and despoilment of innocent civilians, fellow Orthodox Christians by saying: “The Georgians got what they deserve.”

              The Lord said “Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed, when He come in his own glory and in his Father’s and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26

              Do you not know, dear Misha, that before the dread judgement seat of Christ ,you will be called to account ” for every idle word you have spoken” ? Do you not know that by rejecting the Lord’s mercy towards others, that you have denied that same mercy to yourself, for it is written: “Judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.” ? James 2:13

              May the ever merciful Lord grant you the chance to repent before it is too late!

              You accuse “the West” of degenerate morality; but it is your own morals that are degenerate and anti-Christian. This life flies by and disappears “like a dream upon wakening” and then we face the judgement. What answer, dear Misha will you have to give on that day?

              • I’m slightly amused by your concern for my soul, Francis. Yet I have no intention of repenting of any word I’ve written and will gladly stand before God to give account. You might concern yourself with your own soul. Time better spent.

        • Not why I “trot out Ivan and Stalin as objects of comparison,” obviously. Read it again. And I simply assumed that any minimally informed person would hardly need me to clue them in on the fact that, pace Mr. Misha, today’s Russia is very, very far from being the Light Unto the Nations in piety, morality and virtue. Have you ever been there? I’ve asked you that probably half a dozen times, thus far in vain. I ask because you speak with such authority about the place. Ever even seen Russian TV on satellite? A real eye-opener that would be, for you. Your opinions on Russian society are worth less than squat to me.

          Maybe our pious, reactionary Mr. Misha would like to draw his dupes’ readers’ attention to just one index of degeneracy on which Russia might fairly claim the high moral ground, vis–à–vis the US? Just one. I’m sincerely interested in hearing this. (Please exclude gay civil rights protections, however, from your indices of decadence. I personally think it’s honorable and just that a decent and civilized nation should value the love lives and dedicated relationships of gay human beings and prosecute rights-denying, sometimes murderous haters and thugs. So something else besides Russia’s currently fashionable, quasi-fascist indulgence of this particular bugaboo of hypocrites, pharisaical fanatics and barnyard bigots, please.)

          • Mike,

            It’s obvious you have a seething contempt for traditional Orthodox morality, and thus Orthodoxy. Any comments by you regarding moral comparisons are therefore meaningless to those who embrace Orthodox morality. Given that that appears to be the subject of our disagreement (at least from your perspective), there is no point in continuing. It would be like me debating an Episcopalian regarding any number of moral issues. Pearls, swine, you do the math.

            All the best,

            • Your unhinged rhetoric, these rather deranged syllogisms and the breathless hysteria poking through are sort of what one has come to expect from far-right ROCOR reactionaries, “Misha.” Interesting that presumably educated professionals in 2013 are still capable of equating historically refuted medieval arrangements with the substance of the Christian faith, as if sentient humans hadn’t moved on to someplace rather far away from there politically. Atavism and holiness are seldom the same thing, fyi. At least in most people.

              I think our disagreement isn’t really so much to do with morals as with a different take on what looks like a basic category mistake, pandemic in the heads of extremist reactionaries: the need to equate an antiquated political ideology with the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church and her faith. Not the same thing, sorry. Since it looks like your psychic equilibrium may depend on the conflation, it’s probably more charitable to stop chipping away at it. Maybe I ought to do that. It’s fascinating how much you guys have in common with the Islamists as it is. Wouldn’t want to help nudge you into an entente cordiale.

              • You seem to be saying that Orthodox morality is not part of the “substance of the Christian faith” but rather an “historically refuted medieval arrangement”. If so, that demonstrates my point. If it oinks like a pig, cast not thy pearls.

                If, on the other hand, you were simply referring to my disdain for democracy, then I think you haven’t been paying attention, we have drifted elsewhere. However, I do not think the latter is the case given the first sentence of your last paragraph.

                Stankovich got me in a nostalgic mood with the Tina Turner post. Do you remember Arnold from Green Acres? How about Babe from the movie of the same name?

                “I am Babe; who am you?”

                Too cute!

                • Mike Myers says

                  First, I’m most dubious that you possess any pearls to throw, “Misha.”

                  I was going for an oversubtle and pithily etched point that I now see doesn’t quite work as written. I shoulda proofed that. I intended to play on 1) the fact that for most of the medieval centuries, Russia was arguably the most “gay-friendly” iteration of Christian culture thus far on Earth, combined with 2) my strong hunch that you were almost certainly unaware of that fact. I hoped it would be a “small coin” paid the ferryman, as it were, to cross the River Styx bounding your subconscious, from which I thought it likely something interesting and self-revelatory would bubble up.

                  Unfortunately, “Misha,” the “historically refuted medieval arrangement” that appears to be foremost in your mind here is an illusory figment of your imagination. The varieties of “morality” observable in Russian social history have run quite a gamut of attitudes toward same-sex sexual behavior, and love, over the centuries. It’s my pleasure to bring you up to speed on the facts concerning the issue, one that notably obsesses you and those like you — including many contemporary Russians, one out of three of whom inform pollsters: “homosexuals” should be executed. Another one in three believe they should be segregated from the general population. Only 1 in 7 think they should remain unmolested. The contemporary Russian hostility that you yourself embody is a very far cry indeed from “medieval arrangements,” as any competent social historian of Russia could tell you.

                  State laws against “homosexual acts” were first introduced by Peter I. Oddly enough. . . These applied only to members of the armed forces, however, and proscribed only that act which I blush to indicate via specifics. Czar Nicholas I extended legislative proscription of muzhelozhstvo to the entire male population, though it was interpreted and enforced by the courts with respect only to that mode of congress which I shall once again decline to articulate with rigor.

                  Lenin repealed them, but it wasn’t long before General Secretary Stalin brought even harsher legislation back, with a studied vengeance, laws enforced ruthlessly for the remaining two decades of his reign of terror. Chairman Mao and Chancellor Hitler also wasted no time once in power to see to it that similarly draconian laws were in place and brutally enforced. Mao was particularly savage. Many other blood-stained 20th-century dictators and autocrats were similarly zealous in this matter. One notes a certain pattern here.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Would that include Thomas Jefferson? When he wrote the statutes for the Commonwealth of Virginia, he stated that “Sodomites should be hanged, and their bodies thence given to the Anatomist for study.” Lesbians were merely to have a whole the size of a dime bored through their nose. (Bigamists also were to be hanged.)

                    • George, it’s just fascinating how seldom you have anything remotely substantive or factual to say. I’ve never encountered anyone so intellectually shameless. Where do you come up with this stuff? I bet you just make it up.

                      What he actually wrote on the subject:

                      Whosoever shall be guilty of Rape, Polygamy, or Sodomy with man or woman shall be punished, if a man, by castration, if a woman, by cutting thro’ the cartilage of her nose a hole of one half inch diameter at the least.

                      I’m in “roger and out” mode again with you.

            • Candid chats with far-right Christianist reactionaries like “Misha” can be so revealing. The big picture of their essentially ideological, cartoon take on things is very similar to a .zip file whose contents first need unpacking before point-by-point scrutiny is possible, however. When methodically approached in this manner, many inadequacies in their rigid view of human personality and the modern world become obvious, to others if not so much to themselves, usually. Alas.

              It’s never long before it becomes clear that far-right Christianists have little genuinely evangelical interest in respectful encounters with complex human persons as they really are, or in doing the honest, difficult work required to assemble in their heads an evidence-based model of social reality somewhere closer to representing what actually is the case. Instead, they seem forced by the peculiarities of their psychology to see many complex and valuable human beings in a profoundly false way, as caricatures, stick-figures, dehumanized “Others,” abstractions populating a simple-minded ideology based on cruelty, low info and hypocrisy. When the hint of a challenge to certain pet obsessions is sensed, their typical tactic is to retreat at once under cover of a squid ink of contempt and dismissal — which they will then often project rather than honestly face and own. This appears to be his move now.

              “Misha” is quite haughty, the picture of self-righteous certitude. He projects a persona very sure of himself and of his anti-“modernist” ideology’s correspondence with the truth. But I wonder if “Misha” has the stones to submit his judgmental core to a close public analysis by me in dialogue, or if he’s just another demagogue playing to a scapegoating and similarly backward-looking crowd.


              • George Michalopulos says

                Your second paragraph is a caricature. In my experience, sincere, evangelical Christians of whatever political persuasion are more than happy to engage people “wherever they are.” Instead, many of us on the Right, see Leftists using code words to not engage people “wherever they are” so much as to use them as shock troops for their own political agendas. Invariably this agenda being the distortion of Christian tradition.

                It is not incumbent on those of us who are traditionalists to ignore discernment and common sense for the sake of possibly not hurting someone’s feelings. Jesus engaged people where they were and then said “go, and sin no more.”

                • Mike Myers says

                  George, your frequently embarrassing reading comprehension level betrays you into self-caricature, once again. You’re just projecting.

                  Please reread what I actually wrote with more attention. If you don’t know what “Christianist” means, you can google it (closely related terms: Dominionist, theocon, theofascist, Crusader. These may lead you into the semantic vicinity.). It’s a noun, here. “Far-right” is a qualifier that I presume you’ve encountered before. A hyphenated compound adjective, it modifies Christianist. Now, in your head, meld them into one concept, as the syntax directs you to do. Voila!

                  Can you see that this sentence pointedly does not refer to “evangelical Christians” as such but to something else entirely?

                  Hope this tutorial helped. If you need more assistance, please let me know.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    I know exactly what “Christianist” means: it’s a weasel-word first used by that ghastly Rosie O’Donnell in order to deflect attention from the depredations of Muslims. Because of Progs like her, we are to always be on the lookout for blue-haired Lutheran widows from Wisconsin because everybody knows it is “Christianists” who commit most of the terrorism in the world.

                    I’ll gladly google Theocrat, Dominionist, Theocon, etc. and compare their depredations side-by-side to those of secularists and Islamists any day of the week.

                    What you’re attempting to do (and failing miserably I might add) is what Progs always do when trying to deflect the attention of ordinary people from reality.

                    • You actually don’t seem to have grasped what it means in recent common usage, but since young neologisms have a notoriously dizzy ride at first, that’s understandable. Your bizarre etymology is amusing but entirely without merit.

                      I concede that to the extent that some sloppy sorts have used it intending to suggest an absurd moral equivalence with violent, extremist “Islamists,” they’re way out of line. I don’t mean it that way, fyi.

                      Having said that, Bush is an example of a Christianist. Blair was one, too. Together, building on the efforts of another baleful Christianist, St. Ronnie Reagan, these gents have managed to catalyze quite the world-historical disaster, arguably midwifing countless Islamist terrorists. Putin, another one, has made notable contributions himself. Watch and learn.

                      “Deflect them from reality?” What are you talking about, please? The deflection you assert implies a redirection *from* “reality” (whatever that may be — no doubt you will illuminate us), *to* something else. To what, pray?

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                I inveigh against such unwieldy phrases as “…. assemble in their heads an evidence-based model of social reality” and others of the like!

              • Michael Bauman says

                Well Mr. Myers, sir.

                Beggin’ yo pardon but there are a number of really important items to dete before considering “evidence based” modes of thought:

                1. Who determines what is evidence?
                2. What are the biases of that person?
                3. What are the philosophical assumptions of that person related to the matter for which evidence is being collected?
                4. Who decides the relative importance of the evidence collected?
                5. Who inteprets said evidence?

                An empirical, linear, naturalistic mode of thought will regard somethings as evidence and give a importance to those things that a sacramental, incarnational mode of thought will not think as either important or simply untrue.

                The Apostolic teaching and the lives of the saints are the criteria by which the Church discerns what is true especially in matters of ecclesiology, soteriology and anthropology.

              • “But I wonder if “Misha” has the stones to submit his judgmental core to a close public analysis by me in dialogue, or if he’s just another demagogue playing to a scapegoating and similarly backward-looking crowd.”

                You see, Mike, I do not assume anything you say is actually the case. So, of course, I do not see myself as having a “judgmental core”, nor would I submit the same to “close public analysis” by you (whatever that means) in dialogue. You have no authority to tell me the time of day, much less evaluate my opinions. Finally, I suppose, the implication that I am “just another demagogue” if somehow I do not submit to your analysis seems to assume you are competent to evaluate my opinions. Yet I have already explained to you that since you hold Orthodox morality in contempt, no Orthodox person should trust any of your moral judgments.

                I’m not sure you’ve been paying attention.

                As to “backward looking crowds”, I think the Episcopal Church is very “forward looking” (assuming common parlance) and that, for example, Athonites might reasonably be described (again, assuming common parlance) as “backward looking”. The EU certainly thinks so. If those are the terms we deal in, then I’m quite happy with my “backward looking” outlook.

                • Mike Myers says

                  Your evidently rapt reception among the voting Monomakhiacs appears to have gone to your head, “Misha.” I believe you may be in some misapprehension about the value of that, my friend.

                  But even they might concede that you’re a pretty judgmental fellow. Regardless, it wouldn’t surprise me if this should come as news to you. Something tells me you’re not the sort of guy who’s exactly dripping with self-insight.

                  While we’re on the subject of having a clue, counselor, are you aware of the Smith Act, [18 U.S. Code § 2385 (2000)]? You might want to check it out.

                  • “An agreement to advocate forcible overthrow of the government is not an unlawful conspiracy under the Smith Act if the agreement does not call for advocacy of action; the act covers only advocacy of action for the overthrow of the government by force and violence rather than advocacy or teaching of theoretical concepts. Those to whom the advocacy is directed must be urged to do something, immediately or in the future, rather than merely to believe in a doctrine. A Smith Act conspiracy requires an agreement to teach people to engage in tangible action toward the violent overthrow of the existing government as soon as possible.”


                    I wouldn’t quit my day job if I were you. Your prospects as a lawyer don’t look too promising.

        • This is actually somewhat entertaining. In order to defend what most Orthodox here would gladly admit to be ever degenerating decadent morality in the West,

          Do I detect herein the implicit assumption that historically Orthodox Russia or Eastern Europe are themselves unafflicted by “ever degenerating decadent morality?” Similarly, do you assume Monomakhiacs’ assent to the corollary proposition, that R & EE have been preserved therefrom by the aforesaid Orthodoxy? You certainly seem to be implying both; otherwise, your sentence in this context would appear to be nonsensical. But alas — both assumptions are unwarranted and false. On most indices of social malaise & “decadence,” R & EE are significantly worse off than any nation to their West. Obviously. Do you really want to force me to rub your face in the numbers quantifying social pathology in Eastern Europe and Russia?

          you trot out Ivan and Stalin as objects of comparison,

          Already dealt with that non sequitur, and/or misreading.

          also neglecting to note the actual numbers of Orthodox who regularly attend liturgy in this country as opposed to the officially propagated numbers of members usually cited.

          Immaterial. The question at issue is the fitness of the Russian Orthodox religious model to serve as Light Unto the Nations. The problem with the “traditionalism” and “old-time Orthodoxy” you ceaselessly tout here as “the medicine for what ails humanity” is that it’s a model summarily rejected by the Russian people themselves. And incidentally, since you raise the subject (and, strangely, continue to do so): I’m unaware of a single Orthodox nation where church attendance exceeds that of any in Western Europe, except Sweden, mb.

          Instead of the 3-6 million usually cited by the Orthodox here as the number of self-identifying Orthodox in America, the number of those engaged in any meaningful sense is probably little more than 200,000 and the actual membership around 800,000.

          Your point here escapes me. Either this is completely irrelevant to the issue I raised, or it merely supports my own case. Most of the new churches in Russia are empty. Isn’t it so? “Build it and they will come” seems to work only in the movies. Priority glitch in evidence here, I’d suggest.

          Same phenomenon as in Russia, except that we don’t have the history of Bolshevism to use as an excuse.

          Bolshevism was a symptom, not a cause, as such. To focus on symptoms while studiously ignoring deeper causes and pathologies isn’t too bright and will probably fail to improve the patient’s prognosis.

          So silly! Back to the drawing board, Mike.


    • The Orthodox in America represent, at most, 1-1 1/2 % of the American populace; that despite the fact that the Orthodox have been on the North American continent for over 200 years. Coincidentally, the Orthodox in America represent about 1-1 1/2 % of world Orthodoxy.

      Evidently the Americans do not want what we are selling.

      As we can see, rebuttals of Misha’s BS write themselves:

      The [genuinely] Orthodox in America Russia represent, at most, 1-1 1/2 % 2 – 5 % of the American Russian populace; that despite the fact that the Orthodox have been on the North American Asian continent for over 200 1000 years. Coincidentally, the Orthodox in Russia represent about 1-1 1/2 % of world Orthodoxy {here things break down — numbers of “Orthodox” are rather inflated, obviously. Ed.}.

      Evidently the Americans Russians do not want what we are Misha and the MP are selling.

      Question: Why should Americans want what Misha and the MP are selling? Russian “Consumer Reports” appears to give the product a great big thumbs down, clearly. So caveat emptor.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Mr Myers, the problem with your criticisms of Russian Christianity for many of us who have long been in the Faith is not in the details but in your judgment. Good Lord man! Those people suffered for 70 years under the worst brutality known to the mind of man. I’ve gotten to know Russians of all stripes and classes and I’ve seen the ravages of enforced atheism on their psyches.

        How do you think we would fare under such a theomachist barbaraism? It’s just six days into the Advent Fast and I’ve already broken it twice. In examining my own stalwartness and those around me, when I survey the open sewer that is American culture, the destruction of the open mind in our universities, etc., I pray for the Lord’s mercy that He never allows 1/10th of the persecution that was leveled on those people.

        • George,

          It doesn’t make any difference. During the Soviet period, about a third of Russians retained some sense of their own Orthodoxy. Since the end of Gorbachev’s rule, this has doubled. Thousands upon thousands of new churches, etc. Yes, it will take a couple of generations for orthopraxis to set in. But the distance from being afraid of religion and scoffing because that is the view encouraged by the overwhelming context of where they lived has been covered quite quickly. Mike is comparing apples and oranges and he knows it. No matter.

          One of the nice things about witnessing history work out the way you want it to is that comments from the peanut gallery are not at all threatening since they have no power to affect anything adversely. Captive audiences not enjoying the show are expected to whine and moan.

          • George Michalopulos says


            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              i, too, especially liked the “it will take a couple of generations for orthopraxis to set in.” FAntastic to see so much agreement with Mike Myers’s assessment of the practice of the Christian religion/Russian Orthodoxy in today’s Russia!!

              • Vladyka,

                I am encouraged by a number of things in modern post-Soviet Russia, the actual habits of the majority of those who have formally joined the Church is not one of them. However, given the Church’s expansion and its efforts, it is difficult for me to believe that it will not have an increasing effect on Russian culture not only through the government (which allows it to teach religion in the public schools) but also through direct involvement in communities. Here in America, the churches provide a community environment which helps parents with childcare and activities for children. Many Orthodox who stray from the Church after high school return when they get married and begin having children because they suddenly find themselves benefited by their Orthodox “village”. I’m sure this dynamic has not escaped the notice of the ROC.

                Forgive me for being crass for a moment but let us set aside the motivation of evangelical zeal for a moment. The Church hierarchy has a strong interest in creating churchgoing Orthodox. They give money. It is sort of the reverse side of the coin as to what you often see in America. Here, clergy often sugarcoat or misrepresent the faith in order not to alienate the laity and thus lose revenues. Baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc. – – the types of things that even the marginally involved take part in – – these are all fine and well as sources of income; however, weekly/monthly/yearly giving makes these pale in comparison.

                Now, I assume the clergy of the ROC want to “go forth and baptize all nations” and teach and preach the Gospel, bringing as many into the fold of “frequent flyers” as possible. However, even where this is not the case, everyone has a bulldog they need to feed. Thus, I believe in time that piety, at least the variety that involves attendance and giving, will increase over the next couple of generations. The Church is free, funded and motivated to work toward this end.

          • Captive audiences not enjoying the show are expected to whine and moan.

            Audiences captive to whom? What show? Do you actually make a living arguing cases in court? That seems highly unlikely to me.

        • Read this. Some excerpts below. I wonder if you’d care to charge His Eminence Hilarion of Volokolamsk with “berating the suffering Orthodox of Russia and Eastern Europe.” He more or less told the nasty truth: what happened was more or less entirely on the heads of the ROC and the vast majority of the Russian people. A judgment of God. M. Hilarion gave this talk more than 12 years ago. Before the Russian Orthodox Synod elected Mikhael Gundayev MP. Really hard to imagine how that pick has helped things get “off the ground” there. Very cynical move IMO.


          Orthodox Peace Fellowship retreat, Vézelay, France
          7 May, 2001

          Atheism and Orthodoxy in Modern Russia, by Metropolit Hilarion (Alfeyev)

          In this talk I propose to outline the history of atheism in Russia during the last hundred years. I will start by considering the kind of atheism present in Russia before the Revolution. Then I will say something about the development of atheism during the Soviet period. And finally I will conclude with some observations concerning the nature of Russian post-Soviet atheism.

          I should like to begin with the following questions. How did it happen that the country known as ‘Holy Russia’, with such a long history of Orthodox Christianity, was in a very short period of time turned by the Bolsheviks into ‘the first atheist state in the world’? How was it possible that the very same people who were taught religion in secondary schools in the 1910s with their own hands destroyed churches and burned holy icons in the 1920s? What is the explanation of the fact that the Orthodox Church, which was so powerful in the Russian Empire, was almost reduced to zero by its former members?
          I should say at once that I cannot interpret what happened in Russia, in 1917 as an accident, the seizure of power by a small group of villains. Rather I perceive in the Russian revolution the ultimate outcome of the processes which were going on within the pre-revolutionary society and so, to a considerable extent, within the Russian Church (as there was no separation between Church and society). I would claim that the Russian revolution was the offspring of both the Russian monarchy and the Church. The roots of the post-revolutionary atheism should be looked for in pre-revolutionary Russian society and in the Church.

          . . . It is clear, when one looks at the pre-revolutionary period, that there was a huge gap between the Church and the world of educated people, the so-called intelligentsia, and this gap was constantly growing. But on the eve of the revolution it became more and more clear that atheism had also invaded the mass of ordinary people. Berdyaev wrote at that time that the simple Russian baba, who was supposed to be religious, was no longer a reality but a myth: she had become a nihilist and an atheist. I would like to quote some more from what this great Russian philosopher wrote in 1917, several months before the October revolution:

          The Russian nation always considered itself to be Christian. Many Russian thinkers and artists were even inclined to regard it as a nation which is Christian par excellence. The Slavophils thought that Russian people live by the Orthodox faith, which is the only true faith containing the entire truth… Dostoevsky preached that. the Russian nation is a bearer of God… But, it was here that revolution broke out, and it…revealed a spiritual emptiness in Russian people. This emptiness is a result of a slavery that lasted too long of a process of degeneration of the old regime that went too far, of a paralysis of the Russian Church and moral degradation of the ecclesiastical authorities that lasted too long. Since long ago the sacred has been exterminated from the people’s soul both from the left side and the right, which prepared this cynical attitude towards the sacred that is now being revealed in all its disgust.

          . . . it was not by mere chance that there arose people like Rasputin:
          against the common background of indifference towards religion he appeared as a charismatic figure and was at first accepted as such by the ecclesiastical authorities, who then directed his steps to the imperial palace.

          . . .Though Orthodox Christianity was still maintained as the official religion of the Russian, monarchy, both society and the Church were fatally contaminated by unbelief, nihilism and atheism. Even the seminarists, future priests, balanced on the edge between religion and atheism. Many ordinary Christians, if not the majority, had no faith at all, and it was they who turned against the Church as soon as membership in it stopped being encouraged. The Church at once lost the great majority of its members and remained a small flock of those prepared to die for Christ.

          . . . It seems to me that, though the numbers of believers has immensely increased during the last years, Russia is still far from being a Christian country. To be baptised, to be Orthodox has become a fashion. I would not be surprised if the majority of people, when asked whether they are Orthodox, would now give a positive answer. This does not mean, though, that they all go to church. It only means that most of them have assumed a new outward identity to keep up with the ongoing ‘religious revival’. I remember asking one teenager who came, together with her mother, to be baptised: ‘Do you believe in God?’ ‘No,’ was her answer. ‘Why then do you want to be baptised?’ I asked. ‘Well, everybody gets baptised nowadays,’ she said. This case, one of many, illustrates that many people take religion in a very superficial manner, sometimes without even believing in God. Remaining inwardly atheists, they become outwardly Orthodox.

          . . .We recognise that there exists something supernatural’, but then admit that religious belief does not play an important role in their life. There is another paradox: not all people who claim to be Orthodox do believe in God. Some even take part in Orthodox organisations and movements without practising their religion. To speak of a religious revival in contemporary Russia has become a commonplace. But people vary in their understanding of what this revival entails. Certainly there is an external revival: many churches, monasteries and theological schools are being reopened, the buildings are being restored. But it is too early to speak of the restoration of the Russian soul. There is no improvement in morality in contemporary Russia. On the contrary, one mustadmit that moral standards have become much lower than they used to be under the Soviets. Is this not an indication that there is no inward revival of Christian life, that people do not assume Christianity as a norm of living? Is it not striking evidence of the fact that the long-waited repentance, metanoia, as a change in mentality for the better, has not yet taken place in Russia?

          Some ascribe this sudden, lowering of moral standards to Western influence: it is from the degenerate West that pornography, prostitution and all sorts of immorality come. This is our way out: to blame everybody except ourselves. But the reality is that, as Berdyaev put it in 1918, ‘however bitter it is… the Russian people is now less religious than many peoples of the West… the religious culture of the soul in it is weaker.’ This is true if religious culture is understood not as membership in some right-wing Orthodox organisation, but as first of all living according to the norms of Christian morality.

          When ‘perestroika’ started, the Church was challenged by the very high expectations on the part of the society. Many believed the Church would be able to assume the leading role in the spiritual revival of the nation. One has to admit that this did not happen. The Church started to revive itself by rebuilding monastery walls (which is indeed an important and difficult task) but it did not respond adequately to the need for religious and moral enlightenment of the people.

          . . .The Orthodox Church is still closed in upon itself; it is still more occupied with its own internal problems than with spiritual demands of modern society.

          Petty, scapegoating moralists, “candle-holders” and all those who are readily bewitched by garden-variety imperial or merely nationalistic mystagogy and trance-state induction, hollow formalism, glitzy ecclesiastical show-biz and pious logorrhea (“And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking . . .) — these sorts are no doubt much impressed by the presence in the RF of much more churchly haut théâtre and liturgical ritual these days — not to diminish the importance of the latter, which I certainly wouldn’t want to downplay.

          But how about holy men and women of mystical depth, insight and intellectual & spiritual power? Persons of faith in Jesus Christ, his teachings and in the Kingdom of God, not idolaters of Orthodoxy or mysteries or ritual or worst of all, that delusional phantasmagoria re: “Third Rome?” I’m genuinely eager to hear solid indications that such godly persons have truly arisen from Holy Russia. I hope so, because God knows we and His good Earth desperately need them.
          Won’t be holding my breath though. From here, looks and sounds a lot like the same ol’ same old to me.

          • George Michalopulos says

            I don’t believe any of us have any essential qualms with Alfeyev’s historical analysis. The problem seems to be that you strain on the gnat of modern Russian Christianity’s deficits while swallowing the camel of American Christianity’s degeneration. More, you seem to be put out because Russia isn’t more like the West, which in its depravity, is committing spiritual and demographic suicide.

            Even worse, you ignore the horrible persecution suffered by believers inflicted upon them by the Bolsheviks. And I’m not even mentioning the environmental and material degradation that plagued the Iron Curtain countries because of this horrible theomachy. And what of the hygienic degeneration experienced by individuals because of this Orwellian nightmare? The alcoholism, the teratogenic deformities, the loss of even the belief in simple human dignity? What’s our excuse? We who have had peace and plenty?

            I’m sorry, but we’re talking past each other.

            • Evidently you do have essential qualms. Did you even read what he said? You amaze me.

              The objective historical fact is that the Russian Orthodox Church was violently & systematically razed to the ground in pre-war Soviet Russia by Russians. IOW, by those who knew it intimately, far more intimately than any of you. Those not actively manning the demolition or cheering it on from the sidelines held its cloak, as it were — or, they were one of 10s of millions who couldn’t be bothered to effectively get in the way of The Destruction. So it’s pretty obvious that “this faith” — or this imperial cult — had failed dramatically. Her own children hurled her over the historical cliff. Why???

              When he isn’t advocating the violent overthrow of the US Constitution and the Republic it framed, here on George’s blog, Mr. Misha touts the ROC, “old-time Orthodoxy,” “traditionalism,” “old calendar piety” and so on as holding the cure for the West’s degeneracy. I have a simple question for him and some of you: what makes you think the outcome will be any different this time? Why shouldn’t we in the West be very wary indeed of “this faith,” given its track record in Russia? Isn’t it obvious that something is really wrong with this picture?

              Consider too the fact that this is the same ROC whose current primate, His Holiness, Metropolit Kyrill, is a man who grew filthy rich by taking advantage of tax-exemptions for non-profits (i.e., the ROC) to hawk cheap cigarettes and booze in ultra-high-volume to his own people (one of the shortest-lived and most disease-ridden in the world — the men anyway — due largely to alcoholism and smoking). A lucratively successful entrepreneur — no Commie, he! — Archbishop V. Gundayev undercut his trade competitors, who, unlike him, had to pay the government taxes. A decade later, he evidently sought the patriarchal throne and at any rate was elected to it by his peers in the Russian Orthodox Synode. Can anyone explain to me just how this isn’t an in-Your-face mockery of Christ and His Church? One is confused.

              • No need for any confusion Mike. You have a deep hatred for Orthodoxy, Russians and the ROC. Most everything stems from that.

                If alcohol and cigarettes are legal, as they are here, why should not the consumption of the same be harnessed to bolster the economic standing of the Church? Essentially, tax money otherwise due the state was deferred to help rebuild the Church persecuted by the state.

                Moreover, your slander against the Russian people is not amusing. It was the Soviet government that dynamited churches, etc. That government represented the sentiments of a very small swath of the Russian people, a swath that successfully seized power from a hopelessly incompetent center-left government that succeeded Nicholas II. Please read just a touch of real history. It may open your eyes a bit more than the Howard Zinn version that you currently embrace.

                You are perfectly free to revile the renaissance of Orthodoxy in Russia, but the lies are unnecessary. Just tell the truth, you hate it because Orthodoxy is politically unpalatable to you.

                • ¶ 1. Beneath comment.

                  ¶ 2. Amusing special pleading, counsellor. Transparent sophistry and distortion. Am I expected to take this seriously?

                  ¶ 3. Direct your beef to Metropolit Hilarion (Alfeyev), whom I was paraphrasing, if somewhat provocatively I admit. The view he expressed in his talk happens to concur with what I take to be the consensus of most fair-minded, well-informed observers, as you must know.

                  Though I’ve never read Zinn, I’m aware of a thing or two about 19th-century Russia prior to the catastrophe. You yourself might want to read a bit of real history. It might open your eyes to the tragic incompetence and folly of the weak and delusional Nicholas II, who was vastly more culpable than anyone at the time for what followed, short of Lenin. Of course his and his family’s fate was a horrible crime, but that’s a separate issue.

                  ¶.4 What lies? It is true that I hate the delusion demonstrated by those who would dare to equate ugly, throwback politics and politicians with Orthodoxy. That’s rather vile.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    The God-pleasing Tsar-Martyr bears very little responsibility for what transpired. It was international bankers who pressed the State Department to give visas to Trotsky and his ilk (who were living in New York City at the time) so that they could go back to Russia and burrow it from within. And it was Germany which sent Lenin in a sealed train to Russia in the manner of a virus. Even then it was no sure thing that the Communists would win. The devotion of the common man to the Tsar was apparent even up until the very last when ordinary peasants would sneak food to the Imperial Family. Likewise it should be noted that no Russian Orthodox participated in the butchery at the House of Special Purpose.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      “International bankers”, George?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Wall Street especially. Warburg, Kuen, Loeb, and Jacob Schiff (and others) either gave money directly to the Bolsheviks or floated loans to them. In 1905, Schiff floated $15 million in loans to the Empire of Japan in order to keep it militarily viable during the Russo-Japanese War.

                    • I meant the political consequences of his reign, specifically with respect to the prestige of the autocracy and of unqualified czarist authority among most urban Russians. Adequate cause to think he destroyed it in most thinking men. I was responding briefly to “Misha’s” “… hopelessly incompetent center-left government that succeeded Nicholas II.” I don’t dispute that characterization, but I think it elides the obvious political conditions that Nicholas II had bequeathed before abdicating. Those were on his head, mainly. That was all I meant and I can’t see how that could be controversial. It was an autocracy; therefore the buck stopped with him. Duma or no Duma. He was on the throne for more than 23 years, after all.

                      I’m afraid I cannot sympathize much with the pious nonsense about the reign of this disastrous last czar. The horrible end was an abomination, but princes and their families have been known to suffer shocking fates.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Your cartoonish understanding of Russia under Nicholas II is at variance with the facts on the ground. Was he perfect? No. Was he inept at times? Yes. (I suppose the Federal government today runs like a well-oiled machine?)

                    • Archpriest John Morris says

                      My faith in Holy Orthodoxy does not require me to cast aside all that I leaned earning a PhD in history with an area in Russian history. Indeed, it was my studies of Russian history that led me to Orthodoxy. That I am Antochian is due to the fact that when my wife and I got tired of the constant changes in the Episcopal Church and began to look at Orthodoxy, there was only one Orthodox Church in Austin, Texas, St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church.
                      We should not allow our horror at the crimes of Communism to lad us to romanticize about pre-Revolutionary Russia. If one was not a member of the ruling class, it was a rather terrible place to live. I have a copy of the private letters between Tsar Nicholas II and his Tsarina and have no doubt that he was a faithful Orthodox Christian. Significantly, they corresponded in English. However, as a ruler, he was a disaster. He had a chance in 1905 to lead Russia into the modern world by transforming Tsarist autocracy into a constitutional monarchy. It is no accident that the only European monarchies that have survived were the ones who became constitutional monarchies with parliaments elected by the people. To his discredit, the Tsar tried to save the old out of date autocracy and as a direct result was partially responsible for the terrible fate that fell upon the Russian people. Thus he may have personally been a holy man, but as a ruler, he was a total failure.

          • I agree with some of what the good Metropolitan says but I think he fundamentally misconceives the origin of the present difficulties if he discounts Western influence. From whence came the “lowering of standards” he speaks of since Soviet times, Mars?

            Also, he does not address why large percentages of the population retained their Orthodoxy through the Soviet period, nor does he admit the fact that only about 15% of the Soviet people actually joined the Communist party. In reality, it was a small band of fanatics led by Lenin that overthrew the relatively democratic Provisional Government, not the monarchy. Nicholas II had already abdicated. Lenin later said that they found power in the streets, lying there, and they merely picked it up.

            Moreover, contrary to what the Metropolitan has said, the government seems to be taking an ever larger hand in shaping the moral sensibilities of the people, or at least reflecting the best of these sensibilities. Laws restricting the advertisement of abortion are being promulgated. For years, abortion has often been discouraged by the medical community because of the fertility rate. Now, the cultural momentum is growing but it may be sometime before we can document results.

            The government also disfavors the normalization of perversion, measures to which some here object, but which is also a good sign. However, there is a flaw in the whole line of this argument. What you are essentially saying is that because the Russian people have not yet chosen en masse to improve their own spiritual condition by following old fashioned Orthodoxy, that neither should the people of so. We know modernist Orthodoxy is having little to no positive effect thanks to the result of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute’s poll of the laity several years ago. It is truly scary. No separation at all from the fashions of pop culture. Spiritually, much of the Church in America is functionally apostate.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Mike, if you can’t see that American consumerist/secularist society is a running open sewer and that our mainline denominations are headed and populated by milquetoasts, then it’s truly hopeless. Even many of our “Evangelical” mega-churches are nothing but calisthenics cults at this point.

        Let us tend to our own knitting before we go around berating people who have suffered as horribly as the Eastern Europeans these past 50-70 years.

      • Michael Bauman says

        The problem is the whole metaphor of selling. Contrary to most people’s thinking, evangelism is not about meeting a sales goal. Evangelism is about sharing one’s own transformed life with others through caring and serving and listening.

        There is a prophetic element to be sure, but that is still not the same as selling.

        For instance: The Mormons grow precisely because they have a well thought out consistent memorized sales talk centered on being successful in this life and in eternity–accumulating power actually. It is an unethical sales talk because it relies on manipulation, distortion and lies, but “it works”. Oh, they also make it a priority to keep their children ‘set apart’ from the world.

        What the Orthodox Church has to share is ascetical labors, the Cross, martyrdom and suffering as the way to theosis, the Resurrection and the second coming. Talk about delayed gratification.

        Even Jesus Christ in his humanity appears to have had difficulty embracing the Cross.

        If I want the culture to change, I have to change. If I want holy leaders, I have to become holy by the grace of God. To me that is the message of John 21: 20-22

        20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”

        22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

        We bear the sins of others whether we want to or not as well as our own. Still, we are called to forgive, to repent and allow God’s grace to transform and transfigure us.

        Forgive me, but as I age, I find less and less room in that for condemning others–particularly those who have endured great tribulation and I have not.

        • “Contrary to most people’s thinking, evangelism is not about meeting a sales goal.”

          Perhaps not, but you may have heard of the late Archbishop Dmitri’s rule that if you have a parish of 100 (I don’t recall whether it was individuals of families), you have to found another mission. I agree it’s not numbers. Nonetheless, we are to go forth and baptize all nations.

          • George Michalopulos says

            I remember that directive very well Misha. It was perhaps our 3rd meeting with him in Dallas and we were sitting around the table in his dining room in Dallas. The number that he suggested was “about 125.”

            • George,

              I used to attend an OCA parish in a nearby town many, many moons ago. Abp. Dmitri made a pastoral visit. The laity were simply in awe of the holiness he exuded. I’m sure he is widely remembered with the utmost respect and even veneration of a sort.

    • I’m not sure what pride has to do with it. I never see Russians act prideful when it comes to their relations to the other Orthodox. I’m sure they do sometimes, like any other people. I’ve certainly heard them comment proudly regarding American politics, but that is a legacy of the past.

      It probably does appear like gloating from the perspective of those whose hierarchs are hamstrung by modernist incompetence. There are Orthodox who still believe that that old time Orthodoxy is the medicine for what ails humanity. That is most certainly threatening to many and may seem prideful to them since, in terms of American Orthodoxy, this is a distinctly minority opinion. It is probably very tempting to view those who hold it as prideful, rather than simply responsibly following their own consciences. If it were the latter then, God forbid, modernism might be misguided. Perish the thought! Must be bad faith instead. Just like all political conservatives, it seems to liberals, must be evil, blue meanies, not people with a different opinion.

  15. Pere LaChaise says

    Well put, Close. The sclerosis sapping the collective will and energy of the OCA needs to be addressed. But having attended several AAC’s already, I see we are unable as a body to address bigger issues and unwilling to engage a deep critique of our mode of operation.

    I think one of the things that got Metr. Jonah retired (cough) was that he intrinsically sensed the need for perestroika and glasnost in the OCA –that’s why he was elected by the Synod, then in crisis. Then they all thought better of it once the Metr.’s agenda collided with his inability to force its enactment. They should have been more careful what they wished for, in other words. Metr. Jonah was so demoralized by the many instances of conflict that he readily gave up the throne.
    Syosset as a bureaucracy does not embrace real change. Parish councils generally don’t either.
    The facts of flawed institutional structure take a long time to play out and become cemented as they do. Basically, as you said above, Curtain, we lack leadership. We thought we wanted a leader in Jonah, but were disappointed on the whole by the results of his efforts. I neither defend or criticize him. But leadership is not the same as a leader. It is a cultural value that we are not cultivating sufficiently in the OCA. On a parish level it translates to PC members acting badly and the others, rather than correcting bad behavior, making room for it.

    Problems of the OCA are the ecclesial mirror of American society, which obviously lacks leadership and is hobbled by corruption (influence of big money) and lack of true democratic leadership by the people as was intended Constitutionally. Now the Church is not a democracy, but it embodies the spirit of society– another reason why we cannot ‘go back to the Mother (sic) Church’ – the problems of America as an ailing society are the problems of our church. If we recognize that, then we can begin to address and with God’s help begin the work of healing.

    But so long as we simply plug along as disparate parishes each pursuing its own ethnic kaffeeklatsch agenda, with hierarchs blessing decline (out of ‘respect’ ?), we can only expect further diminishment, obsolescence and irrelevance.
    Did anyone here watch the video “They Gather Here No More” produced some 30 yrs ago? This will be our epitaph unless we ‘grow heads’.

  16. Most of the accusations here regarding the OCA are just pure baloney. Furthermore, most contributors here have no understanding of Orthodox Canon Law. Simply stated, no bishop (even Patriarchs) have no authority outside their immediate territory. Therefore, in America, no foreign bishop has any authority here. Not the MP, the EP, the Antiochian Pat, or any other. Yes, our situation in America is an anomaly due to historical circumstances, however, canon law cannot be ignored. Therefore, only the OCA is in proper accordance due to Orthodox Canon Law. And, under canon law, every parish, priest and bishop can abandon any foreign bishops imposed authority for a “local church” that is autocephalic. So you see, the OCA is THE only canonical solution to American Orthodox Church unity. Yet, people wish to pick and choose what canons they’ll abide and which they won’t. Foreign bishops have no canonical authority in America.

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      The historical facts are that after 1917 the Russian Bishops in American were faced with an unprecedented situation. Agents of the Living Church, a group of renegade Orthodox allied with the Communists, came to America and claimed authority over the Orthodox here as representatives of Moscow. They went to court and won possession of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York City. To prevent the Living Church from succeeding, the Russian Bishops encouraged each ethnic group to seek affiliation with the Church in their homeland. Antioch was given the blessing of Moscow, the Bishops that formed ROCOR, and the Bishops of what became the Metropolia which became the OCA to assume jurisdiction over the parishes formed by immigrants from Syria and Lebanon. Metropolitan Anthony was consecrated with the participation of Russian Bishops. Therefore, Antioch did not invade the territory of another canonical Orthodox Church, Antioch was invited to assume jurisdiction over parishes in America by the Russians.

  17. M. Stankovich says

    Pere LaChaise,

    As near as I can tell – judging by the statement of the ROC – Met. Jonah’s “agenda” consisted in unilaterally and covertly offering to return the OCA to a contrived state of “autonomy,” and lobbying for himself as the chat dans le chapeau blanc over his wiser and senior brothers. Good Lord, man, N. Soraich had sown ill-will from Alaska to to Australia, but no one seems to have been able to dissuade Archbishop Kyrill from placing him back in the mix. Jonah was demoralized and “readily gave up?” Pere, as the blues classic goes, “Reconsider, baby.” One man’s demoralization is another man’s caught red-handed. Do you imagine that this revelation just slipped out of the mouth of the Dean of the Patriarchal Cathedral in New York? Seriously? They finally set the record straight.

    Mr. Michalopulos loves these crank articles to stir the pot of his imagination. Svetlana Vays, otherwise unknown to anyone, anywhere, and pardon me, but who cares? “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:25) What is 40 years in the life of a local church? Or 200 years in the life of an Orthodox Church in such an extraordinary circumstance? Drink up, Shriners. We live through another fabricated crisis to celebrate this glorious Feast of the Mother of God! с праздником!

    • to M. Stankovich says

      You stated that

      Met. Jonah’s “agenda” consisted in unilaterally and covertly offering to return the OCA to a contrived state of “autonomy,” and lobbying for himself as the chat dans le chapeau blanc over his wiser and senior brothers

      Au contraire, Mergatroid, in all his innocence, the dear retired Metropolitan basically stated it like this at a discussion he hosted in a McLean, Va Orthodox parish.

      Many bishops, he hoped, sincerely and without ethnic bias were working toward a combined American jurisdiction that would ideally provided one bishop per each determined territory. This would require great humility on the part of all to form such collegiality and he expected it to take a great deal of time before any such community became a reality.

      He explained that titles might change as the Greeks called as Metropolitans what we call as Archbishops and vice versa, but that titles are minor.

      What would be important would be the good working of the Church. As to where he saw himself in all this, he said that he would probably be in a tier quite under Metropolitan, given his academic credentials and years on the job as bishop and Metropolitan. He thought, were he fortunate, he might be made a bishop of some small area of Idaho. And he explained why it was in the interest of the future of Orthodoxy in America to have our own hierarchy, not to be under foreign domination (although he did not use those words) as we are all Americans and Orthodox, and even immigrants seek to be the same.

      We could accomplish all this through the grace of the Holy Spirit. He thought we could do it, so why not work for it and not think in terms of which foreign domination we should choose.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Ah, Mergatroid here, Pal. You might want to read the last paragraph of the answer of Archpriest George Roschin of St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in NYC as provided on this site:

        Later, Metropolitan Jonah offered to change the canonical status of the Orthodox Church in America, with an autocephalous to autonomous within the Russian Orthodox Church. This tendency, along with a certain authoritarian decision was one of the reasons for the resignation [departure] of the primate on 7 July 2012 at the request of the members of the Synod of the OCA . As Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky said in a comment to “Neskuchny Sad (Garden},” : ” It did not correspond to the self-dentity of the majority of our faithful , many of whom do not have any relation to the Russian community — who are Romanians , Albanians or converts from Protestant denominations .”

        Ring any bells Pere LaChaise?

        And if you look up the interview with Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky on Neskuchny Sad, entitled, “Why Did the Primate of the American Church Retire?” (in Russian), Fr. Leonid adequately analogizes – figuratively, of course – how cold a day it would be before the Patriarch of Moscow would tolerate another member of the Holy Synod to unilaterally dog the Ecumenical Patriarch or offer to negotiate the canonical status of the church on their own.

        Apparently, my friend, innocence is in the eye of the beholder, and when you are a liability, you are a liability. Ask Tim Tebow…

  18. Daniel E Fall says

    I am still looking for George’s next article.

    Will it be “Zimmerman arrested for more violent outbursts with people he loves-imagine how he acts with those he hates” or perhaps “fmr. Metropolitan Jonah comes out of the closet as Helga”? Or perhaps “How to cut health care costs by eating more bananas”.

    As for autocephaly, a priest once told me that which is given can be taken away, but I don’t agree. For me, I think the diaspora is more a proof that a canon was flawed. (Oh gosh, imagine if a bishop or cleric could say that!) Al Jizzara (what a name) would like to fall back on the flawed Canons and hold them up in high regard, but doing so misses the important fact that the diaspora was necessary in America to support Orthodox people speaking many languages. And to suddenly disregard the rest of the churches or regard them as part of the OCA is quite absurd. If we went back to 1053, the Catholics would argue we shoulda stuck with the Latin in Greece I suppose as well and if we had there wouldn’t have been a language issue ever, let alone anything besides the imfallible Pope. Rules broken for centuries are no longer rules friends. It doesn’t matter how great your knowledge of the abandoned 110 years ago rules are; the rest of us understand NA.

    Furthermore, I’d for once in my life like to have someone explain to me what is so horrible about having a Greek Bishop and an OCA bishop for the same city presiding over two different churches. Maybe AJ, with his anonymity and infinite Canonical wisdom, can persuade me.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      I agree that competition is a good thing, even within the same faith. It helps to correct error.

  19. Since the post header concerns the OCA’s autocephaly, and no-one else has mentioned it, I thought I’d throw into the mix that the Metropolia ceded the omophor of the Japanese Orthodox Church to the Soviet dominated MP as part of the deal for autocephaly. After all, you don’t think the Soviets would grant such a precious benefit without a quid pro quo, do you? I’m sure the American security agencies were all over this – when do their files become public?

    • Basil,

      Foreign bishops have no authority outside there own territory – Orthodox Canon Law. That being said, it was proper time that the MP released the Metropolia (1970) from a “missionary church” to being a “local church” with it’s own seminaries, bishops, monasteries and able to run itself. The Japanese church was never under the Metroplia. The Metropolia did offer assistance to the Japanese church. So, you see, there couldn’t have been such a deal. The Metropolia could not give up something it didn’t have.

    • Oh Basil, it’s actually worse than even that.

      The OCA is in itself a very strange creature if one consults canon law. Yes, as you point out, OCA bought its autocephaly with the Church of Japan. But furthermore, the Metropolia had not been in communion with either the MP or with ROCOR for about 35 years before its purported autocephaly. Even furthermore, the whole deal probably not only had to pass over the desks of American security agencies, but had to have the KGB’s stamp of approval, as did everything that happened in the ROC at that time. In fact, it is not really a stretch to say that the Metropolia received its autocephaly courtesy of the KGB, their level of control of the ROC was that great.

      Not only that, but when you add in that in a number of court cases regarding church property (which the Metropolia at one point was intent on snatching from ROCOR) the Metropolia lost to the ROCOR since it had gone on record as stating that the ROCOR synod was the highest ecclesiastical authority in the free Church of Russia, and that Moscow was regularly communing Catholics at the time, you begin to see that all this talk of canonical niceties is, at best, idealistic table-talk.

      • Yes, Misha, to paraphrase a certain Frenchman: idealistic table talk and subterranean conduct go together. Or – if you prefer – as the poet wrote: between the idea and the reality falls the shadow, and in the OCA’s case, it is as murky as the downstream Hudson. Which is the reason why I have never been able to take the OCA’s autocephaly, the result of “personal negotiations” between Fr Alexander Schmemann and Metropolitan Nikodim – himself a KGB agent who, most unfortunately, died visiting Rome while in the Pope’s embrace would you believe – too seriously. What a surprise to learn then, after all these years, that neither does Syosset!

        • Whoa whoa Basil! You forget one vital bit of detail. All the Russians that moved here want nothing to do with Russia. Even young fools like me (2nd generation) would vanish forever if the OCA were to return to the MP.

          There are friends of ours that refuse to sing in Slavonic-save for a funeral.

          The tiniest idea about a return to Russia makes most cradle OCA shudder. If fmr Met Jonah missed that bit-he messed up.. The people are supposed to follow the bishop, but they will not return to the MP.



            Look at the list of parish transfers at the bottom of the page. All of the transfers listed from 1982 to present were OCA – > ROCOR. Also, I’ve heard enough anecdotal evidence recently to know that there has been some movement from OCA to ROCOR after the Met. Jonah debacle, but I’m not sure how much.

            The other thing you have to look at is the actual demographic in play. Some considerable part of OCA is CarpathoRus (Ukrainian, Rusyn, etc). They would indeed be reluctant to switch to a Church dominated by Great Russians.

            Nonetheless, all the jurisdictions are out there and people can see for themselves and choose. Let’s take a look in 100 years and see who’s still around and most numerous. I make no bets but I’d guess that those the best at evangelization, reproduction and conveying a firm Orthodox mindset will be the ones to survive and prosper. Who that sounds like today is probably in the eye of the beholder.

            • That was the nicest cogent response I’ve ever got here. The OCA will not return to Russian rule. It would be the end because no money will flow to Russia.

              • “The OCA will not return to Russian rule.” The tone of that sentence seems off, Dan. Far be it from me to tell the OCA what to do, but the OCA is the child of the Russian church, why wouldn’t it go back if it finds it can’t manage its own affairs, just like young adults today who make a mess of their lives go back to live with their parents until they get it together to venture out again? At least, if the OCA doesn’t believe in its autocephaly, go under Constantinople like the Carpatho-Russians; it seems to work for them. Without some resolution of this nature I think the OCA’s autocephaly will become increasingly problematic and even absurd, if it isn’t already.

          • You’ve misconstrued me, Dan. I’m not advocating a return of the OCA to the MP, although perhaps that wouldn’t be the worst fate that could befall the you. I’m simply pointing out a long-forgotten, shady aspect of the autocephaly negotiations which were conducted with a church body that was…politically compromised, shall we say? The OCA is a creature of the Cold War and, secondarily, a Moscow-begotten thorn in the side of Constantinople. That was its raison-d’etre in the eyes of Moscow, whatever gilding may have been added at the time by the creative mind of Fr Schmemann et. al.. That is all, although that is something at least. I suspect the story of the OCA will make for an interesting chapter in the history of world Orthodoxy in the 20th C., but I don’t think it is the future of Anglophone Orthodoxy in North America and when it doesn’t itself believe in its autocephaly how can it expect others to?

      • Misha,

        You have it all wrong. The Metropolia was in communion with the ROC. The Metropolia did not have any control or authority over the Japanese church except for assistance. There was no “BIG DEAL” for the Metropolia to receive it’s autocephaly and become the OCA. ROCOR had isolated itself from everyone in the U.S. and had become sectarians. They are still trying to get past this ideology of theirs.Eventually, Moscow will envelope the entire ROCOR and weed out the nuts.

  20. Oh yeah!(sac off)-more on women Bishops . . .

    Didn’t know where to put this.

    George have you ever thought of having a corner dedicated to current events of the day on this blog-where whom ever could add on-with no commentary?? I know –as if you don’t have enough here . . . would be a nice touch though.

    another lovely article . . .

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Evil and diabolical would not begin to describe this. They care more about their Idol/false god EQUALITY than the One True God. This has been Humanity’s constant struggle. Is there any wonder why the First Commandment says what it says and why? Now you know.


    • Daniel E Fall says

      The newsbit idea is sort of good. I could’ve commented about Zimmerman without making it seem like a slam on George, but it is George’s page. I was glad he allowed me to make a wisecrack.

      • George Michalopulos says

        The question was never one of Zimmerman’s character. The salient question was whether he acted in self defense. Based on all the facts it appeared that George Zimmerman did indeed act in self defense and that he was innocent of second-degree murder.

        The larger societal question is whether people are allowed to act in self defense. Many agitators on the left believe that people don’t have the right to defend themselves. Hence “The Knock-out Game” or “Polar Bear Hunting” which seems to be all the rage among a certain criminal element.

        • Thomas Barker says

          The media choose stories for us very carefully in accordance with their agenda. The Zimmerman case was chosen to be significant because it served an agenda. To master a free people, you must weaken and eventually deny their right to act in self-defense.

          • There is no proof of self defense. It is all conjecture. The US court need prove guilt, not innocence. The media loves controversy; not agendas. Trayvon might have screwed up, but the last two women were also afraid. The story is pretty clear. Zimmy provoked Martin. Provocation is a legal defense for Martin’s assault, but not if he is dead. There is an unresolved issue. Zimmy is making it vivid now.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Of course there was proof of self-defense. Zimmerman was on the ground lying on his back while Martin was pounding his head with his fists. How do you propose that Zimmerman survived this? by invoking the tooth fairy?

  21. issued a statement about sexual conduct. It links to an article by Matushka Ellen Gvosdev.


    She has fallen asleep in the Lord but the Synod of Bishop seems not to have noticed the fact of her passing. Whoever wrote the article did not even search the OCA website for her. Here is her memoriam on the same website

    Could someone let the OCA know of their ommission? May Matushka Ellen’s memory be eternal!

    • Brian Van Dunn says

      What exactly is the problem here? Are the web-masters supposed to scrub anything by an author once he or she passes? I find it perfectly legitimate to link to her article. Not only is it a fantastic work, it keeps her memory eternal.

      • Dear Brian,

        I thought to Orthodox it would be obvious that they article should not only have linked to her article but also mentioned that she now probably rests with the righteous, may her memory be eternal. I obviously should have been explicit about the mernory eternal being in the article part

  22. I should lay some cards on the table because it could be inferred that I have something against the OCA, which I really don’t.

    It is wise to separate out the history of the OCA from its present reality. It does have an odd history, a history at odds with the claims of its founding clergy. And though its founding clergy clearly did much for the propagation of the faith here in the US, they had some questionable ideas and attitudes, many of which are still manifest in the OCA’s collective culture, and beyond.

    That being said, one should not look a gift horse in the mouth. I’m sure the OCA has many of the same problems with an internal, secular mentality as do the other jurisdictions. But relatively speaking, of the new calendar jurisdictions, the OCA is probably, collectively, the closest to a traditional mindset. One can see this in the cordiality with which its clergy and that of ROCOR interact since the reunification of the Church of Russia.

    There seems to be a battle for the soul of the OCA being waged. Apart from one or two unique hierarchs in GOARCH, for example, this battle is not being fought inside the Greek church here.

    Abp. Dmitri, “of thrice blessed memory” (as George refers to him), was a true credit to American Orthodoxy. The OCA still needs to overcome its “neo-patristicism” and reform the workings of its most upper eschelons so that a functional deposition of a sitting primate cannot take place in the way it did with Met. Jonah. That cost the OCA dearly in the eyes of world Orthodoxy, most especially in the eyes of the MP. I do not think that most in the OCA realize how serious this impacted how it is perceived.

    Literally, after the deposition of Jonah, many in the traditional-sphere took the OCA out of the category of “conflicted but partially and potentially fruitful” and replaced it in “decayingly modernist”. It had a reputation for being messy and childish before, but this is different. The love for those with whom cordial bonds had been formed (mostly ROCOR-OCA) remains, but Syosset itself as well as much of the rest of the OCA is now viewed with a kind of resignation to its chosen fate. It is as if something died.

    The MP still officially considers it autocephalous, at least in name and the deference of formal designation and address of its hierarchs. Yet in a number of other ways, Moscow and the ROCOR are now behaving as if the OCA does not exist. A loss of gravitas in the present American environment, where strict canonical norms regarding episcopal organization are universally ignored, is the one thing that the OCA has to lose that can contribute to its own self destruction. Formalities aside, if and when its “autocephaly” becomes not only not universally recognized, but a sort of standing joke, its days are numbered. Capitulation to the norms of secular culture and mismanagement could easily create the type of centrifugal forces necessary for it to effectively dissolve.

    OCA is about 60% convert. Many of these converts joined the OCA, at least partially, to escape the progressive, secular culture. If Syosset is perceived as moving in the direction of the Episcopal Church, many of these converts as well as the more conservatively inclined cradles will bolt.

    This is not a game. The convictions of the people are not going to change much. Where they go to church might indeed change.

    • Daniel E Fall says

      I’d say you overthought everything and most of your points in the above essay are well, overcooked.

      For one, to suggest early OCA attitudes are still manifest and it is supposedly bad without pointing out the whats makes for a very weak point. If you are suggesting the Metropolitan Council; the Metropolitan Council is really supposed to help the Metropolitan. If you believe it has become too congregational in its function; that certainly may have merit, but has nothing to do with early church attitudes. And even if you believe what I’m assuming; the Metropolitan Council had to step in and stop the madness of what was going on under fmr Met. Herman. There really were good reasons for it, and the arrest of Kondratick in Florida ought to be enough to satisfy you. As for the recent business with fmr Met Jonah, I’m sure over the last 9 or 10 centuries of Orthodoxy, there are lots of other leaders that have been asked/forced/whatever you want to call it to resign, probably a few bumped off sad to say as well. I’d rather not debate whether it was right or not this time, but it certainly has happened in other Orthodox jurisdictions. And Metropolitan Jonah made a very significant mistake no matter who you are and what you think. The church had gone through some turmoil with the need to borrow 1.6 million to pay unpaid obligations under Herman. All Jonah needed to do was to not create a lot of turmoil and he would have been very well loved. And that did not suit him well it seems. I know a lot of people won’t like it, but all the church needed was a doughboy and well, he wasn’t, contrary to namecalling, etc.

      And your idea about the OCA moving toward the Episcopals is baseless hooey. I don’t know how to say it and not offend. Reconciling how to deal with gays in the church married by the state probably needs to be done in some way, but it won’t be by following the state.

      As for universal recognition, the EP has a goofy idea that the thing that will solve the violation of the canons in America for the last hundred years is to dismantle all the wrongs. And that somehow the autocephaly is the last of the wrongs and first to change. He is also full of hooey and ought to recognize it. The first thing to getting North America back in line with the canons would be to declare all foreign rule ended. But he doesn’t have that much power. And even if he had, has anyone written a doctoral dissertation on whether or not the current state is actually bad for the church? I still don’t see the how.

      And another absurd statement you make is that 60% of the people in the church joined to escape progressive secular culture. Escapism just leads to more of the same. People don’t join to escape; unless it was the underground railroad. People join because they have the spiritual need.

      Sorry Misha, but I think you are way off in your assessment.

      If the external world views the OCA in some poor way because of the problems started under Theodosius, the external world isn’t very wise. Those same problems cascaded into Jonah’s time because the people wanted a period of calm after the storms.

      • I did not say that 60% of the OCA joined to escape progressive secular culture. I said that 60% of the OCA was convert. That is a neutral statement and a statistic I’ve seen floating around which sounds accurate – – as accurate as any church statistics.

        What I actually did say, in contrast to what you want me to have said, is that “many” of that 60% were thus motivated. “Many” does not necessarily even mean “most”. I would not put a percentage on the number to which I was referring. I formed that opinion since “many” of the Orthodox converts I have met in the OCA are ex-Methodists, ex-Episcopalians, ex-Catholics, ex-etc. who have felt safer, at least up until recently, in the OCA than in their more progressive, secular former circumstances.

        Others, especially the younger people in their 20’s, can be quite liberal and “many” of them would be happy with a much more progressive Church. Now, institutionally, I agree with you that the OCA, much like the GOA, will not formally become like the Episcopal Church. That would cause a schism. But “wink and nod” is certainly prevalent in GOA and if reports are accurate also in OCA. I believe those who like Thomas on this thread have witnessed awful conduct on the part of the clergy.

        You didn’t really say anything about how Jonah’s ouster reflected badly on the OCA vis a vis some of the other churches so I assume you don’t dispute that point.

        As to Pat. Bartholomew, I don’t know anyone outside the GOA who takes the EA’s seriously and I’m beginning to hear even from Greek clergy that they don’t think anything is happening other than the bishops getting to know one another, or at least meet from time to time. Unity under Constantinople might be a possibility for the Antiochians, you’d have to ask them about that. I think it would cause schism within the OCA and it is a non-starter in ROCOR.

    • M. Stankovich says

      You have loaded this thread with wordy “omens” based up, well, not much. You would speak to history and to the future as if you can substantiate the “mind” of Moscow, and the “mind” of the diaspora, the Russian people, and the world which is to come, when, in fact, it is more wordy, breathless conjecture. And in my mind, the most offensive aspect of your pontificating as to what the Russian Church is “thinking” and “planning” is your avoidance of the conclusion of this “dead” Tomos:

      With profound, sincere joy, We announce this to the Fullness of the Church and We do not cease thanking the All-Gracious Almighty God, who directs all in the world by His right hand for the good and the salvation of mankind, for the successful and final formation of Autocephaly, and we entreat the all-powerful blessing of God upon the younger Sister in the family of local Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America.

      May the Consubstantial and Life-creating and Undivided Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, acting on Its own wondrous providence, send down on the Archpastors, Pastors and Faithful Children of the Holy Autocephalous Orthodox American Church Its heavenly, unfailing help, and may It bless with success all her future endeavors for the good of the Holy Church.

      What you would presume in all your lofty observations and conclusions, your scholarly insight into the “behind-the-scenes” machinations of the Third Rome and their power and influence, is that even you, brother Mischa, cannot contain what “the All-Gracious Almighty God, who directs all in the world by His right hand for the good and the salvation of mankind, for the successful and final formation of Autocephaly” has planted. And please, read it again. You speak as it it were a document, and not an event and a blessing bestowed at the Right Hand of our God for good. And you seriously and foolishly mistake forty years as conclusive a period for false “critics” and interpreters such as yourself to determine “the end is near, as I see the signs,” when for a thousand years in Russia ignorant, cowardly, weak-willed complainers – like the Jews wandering in the desert threatened Moses, “For this we left our homes to die in the desert? Slavery was better!” – wagged their heads as you do. And somehow, you imagine God will bless you to discourage others? Somehow you imagine it is not better for everyone – including yourself – to just shut up and leave? Shame on you. If your heart is so cold as to have forgotten the history of our salvation, move on do not be a stumbling block to those not as “strong” and “wise” as yourself.

      • Is there actually a point or thesis to this latest little hissy fit of yours, Stanko? Is this conclusion of the “dead Tomos” all the more compelling since it was negotiated by the KGB on behalf of a church that could have been excommunicated for communing the heterodox?

        You’re so silly and pretentious, Stanko! It’s a pleasure setting you off.

        • M. Stankovich says


          Your response clearly indicates you understood the point of my pretentious “fit.” While we both may hold our “opinions,” the difference between us is that I clearly distinguish between opinion & conjecture from fact. You need help. I am happy to oblige.

          I was around for the formative years of Autocephaly – the only “seminarian” of the ROC in US – and I knew the Bishop and clergy of the Cathedral in NYC. The Dean of the Cathedral at the time (an American) even wrote a very candid history of the ROC in the US in the 20th century as his doctoral dissertation. I had the pleasure of meeting Met. Nikodim (Rotov) – and please spare me the cheap KGB references – as well as Archbishop Dosethius (Ivanchenko), the last Patriarchal Exarch when the Russian Diocese was dissolved (he retired to Pine Bush, NY, a property exempted in the Tomos). I derive my position from authority. I could go on and on, but I suspect it would be wasted on such a bright fellow as yourself.

          The point, dear Mischa: I resent again correcting your cheap theatrics and superficial understanding of history. The responsibility of speaking with authority is dependent – first and foremost – upon the possession of authority. Let me repeat myself that there are only three types who would discourage others with conjecture: the ignorant, the foolish, and the arrogant. The Church of Russia suffered discouragement over a millennium at the hands of “critics” like yourself, only to arise again and again, at the Hand of Him who planted the vineyard with His Right Hand. You will regret this tact.

          • Stanko,

            You are amazingly full of yourself and do more damage to your own reputation here with your rants than I ever could with a response.

            • M. Stankovich says


              If I were the least bit concerned about my “reputation,” I would not engage with those who resort to the “way of the creeps” as response. I do not, however, appreciate your play on my name, as Mr. Michalopulos assured this ended “over a year ago.”

              The fact of the matter is that my statements to you have not been about me, nor to my reputation, for my “ego needs,” nor my “legacy” (enjoy the pun). As always, the issue is truth. I have always been moved by Fr. Florovsky’s comment that St. Gregory Palamas “would not entertain any argument that attempted to limit the Energy of the Father Who is Uncontainable.” But he never explains what is meant by “entertain.” Did he physically walk away; remove himself? Did he loudly declare his opposition? Did he quietly object & then explain himself without demonstration? We will never know. So, I am left to simply state in my own way that I will not entertain “conjecture” as truth, regardless of the erudition of the poseur. If you like, I will have Tina Turner improvize one chorus, however: “What’s reputation got to do, got to do with it? What’s reputation but a second-hand emotion?” That was refreshing, no? It was getting so gloomy in here…

              • Well Dr. Stankovich, since you spelled my name right (finally) I guess I can do you the honor. And I had to give you a thumbs up on the post above. I always loved that song.

  23. “OCA is about 60% convert. Many of these converts joined the OCA, at least partially, to escape the progressive, secular culture. If Syosset is perceived as moving in the direction of the Episcopal Church, many of these converts as well as the more conservatively inclined cradles will bolt.”

    Not true. Syosset is not moving toward the direction of the Episcopal Church. This is a BIG LIE! No one is BOLTING and certainly not for the GOA, ROCOR or Antiochians. This entire web site is dedicated to MISINFORMATION, LIES and NON-ORTHODOX thinking. Truly unfortunate since, it could have been a good forum.

    • Daniel E Fall says

      The views of Misha are not necessarily the views of the host, nor the views of others posting on the forum.

      • Daniel,

        No doubt that is true. However, I have documented here some movement from OCA to ROCOR and we have another poster describing a decidedly Episcopal Church-like experience at an OCA church. Opinions do vary, of course.


    • apparently Al, you have not seen what I myself have seen and others here have mentioned over and over again. It’s tiresome. Misha has summed it up well. I would believe you AL if I saw proper action taken where obvious sin has been displayed but instead the OCA just doesn’t seem to know how to handle itself or really doesn’t think sin is a big deal. I don’t know. I do know there are wonderful priests and laity remaining there, but I do think something has died within it. Very sad.

      By the way I came into the OCA because I believe we should have American Autocephaly . However, I didn’t understand the whole picture when I became Orthodox about how the OCA was formed and under what circumstances. I have learned a great deal since then and am not so threatened now about not having it or being under foreign rule. I’ve spoken with many Carpatho-Rus priests who are very happy under Constantinople and also with ROCOR priests being under Russia.
      Anyway what is happening to the OCA now is heartbreaking (I can say after the dust has settled) especially in my former parish.
      You may not see it all Al, but you should never turn someone’s testimony away just because you don’t like it.

      • Mark from the DOS says

        “By the way I came into the OCA because I believe we should have American Autocephaly . However, I didn’t understand the whole picture”

        Amen, Collette! Me too. Once the veil is pulled from your eyes though, it is difficult to remain.

    • I have personally seen quite a number of people BOLT for ROCOR and other jurisdictions after the non-canonical treatment of +Jonah.

  24. I just took a few moments to glance through Vays’ article. If she’s a lawyer, she’s not a very good one. I’d be surprised if there were any contractual significance to what has transpired and have no doubt that there is no “criminal” significance to opening new parishes, monasteries, etc., tomos or no tomos.

  25. Dan Fall says:
    November 17, 2013 at 11:17 pm
    Ok James…there is absolutely zero correlation between your statement and mine. I suggested non-homosexual clerics have taken advantage of the secrets of homosexual clerics and that has been a problem for at least the OCA. What is flippant about that? It is fact and I am supporting your concern and suggesting homosexual clerics are a problem has merit! If that old fool you saw thinks this is a good decade for a revolution; even this liberal appreciates his error.

    Now go back and reread what I said-it wasn’t the tiniest bit flippant. Furthermore, if addressing the bishop is not helpful-did you mention that in the original post? If you said you complained about this to your priest or bishop with no effect, I would appreciate your efforts to complain more publicly.

    Yes, sir, Dan Fall, when you are right, you are right. I re-read what you wrote and I stand corrected, I misread what you wrote. Please forgive me

    I am also glad that there is no misunderstanding on how dangerous homosexual clerics are in the Church. The Roman Church has greatly suffered and paid (is still paying) a terrible price for their dirty little secret for generations and the mental gymnastics it took to “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” and fill their seminaries with young gay men who grew up into old gay men and played priest while they played with other men and children.

    The real sexual misconduct in the OCA is not male on female sexual misconduct (although that may be taking place) but the male on male sexual misconduct within its clergy ranks. Yet, not one homosexual misconduct case is being investigated by the ORSMA. NOT ONE! Syosset is not making one move against Archdeacon Burke, nor the mentor priest of Chancellor Jillions, nor clergy at a prominent OCA Cathedral (or two) nor current ruling bishops.

    If and when the OCA really starts to police itself without discrimination to position or status, faces up to the depth of its internal sickness, then and only then will the OCA have a chance at renewal. Personally, I don’t think they have the integrity to face up to its sickness. At one time in the not too distance past OCAN positioned itself has a point of truth and transparency to clean up the OCA. Cleaning up fiscal mismanagement or misdeeds was easy compared to this cancer eating the OCA. But OCAN and its editor faded away as soon as his lifestyle became a subject. He is no longer anywhere to be seen or heard on a much more important subject to be tackled, a subject that is killing the OCA. But he can’t speak out because his weakness has exposed him. Nor can OCA bishops speak out for fear their dirty little secrets will be exposed, so the mutual embarrassment of men at the very top of the OCA slowly eats away at the jurisdiction.

    So who will speak up for the future of the OCA? Who will call out those who lead the OCA but who are corrupt because of what they do in the dark? It can’t be an OCA cleric because when clerics have spoken up in the past about episcopal misdeeds they have paid a price. When OCA bishops have spoken out against their brothers they have been removed. OCA clergy today have been intimidated into silence but it would be a great mistake to understand their silence as acceptance. It is not – and those church leaders who have been and who already know the facts about homosexual clergy, even in their own dioceses, and do nothing, they are only fooling themselves if they think their own compromised weakness is not noticed. People are noticing and people are leaving the OCA.

    So let’s see if the ORSMA will move against a known and proven homosexual Archdeacon. If they can’t do what is right in a case already proven, they send the clear message to every gay cleric in the OCA that they are safe to continue to misrepresent themselves and further lead the OCA down the path to perdition.

    Is the TOMOS dead? Very dead and the OCA may be not far behind.

    Oh, and yes, the complaint against the retired priest in the New York New Jersey diocese was presented to its bishop and its previous bishop.

    • M. Stankovich says

      They are, in fact, so dangerous, James, that you are not able to raise a mustard seed of courage to do anything but bitch and complain on the internet. Got it. What, exactly, prevents you – apparently in such close proximity to attend the SVS anniversary – to transport yourself to Syossett, demand to speak to the Metropolitan, and confront him with the facts as you see it: homosexual clerics are killing the OCA. Cowardice. You are a coward. And worse, you are capable of rationalizing cowardice into righteousness, and blather into “wisdom.” Here, take another “thumbs-up,” from me. Puff yourself up by chastizing others for what you cannot do yourself to feed your denial of your own hypocrisy. You should have gone to ROCOR a year ago, before you began this systematic revelation of yourself as the pharisee you are.

    • Disgusted With It says

      “2.03. Complainant: Complainant means any person who makes an allegation of sexual misconduct, whether or not such allegation is made in writing. All allegations, whether written or unwritten, shall be investigated.”

      According to the new “Policies, Standards and Procedures of the Orthodox Church in America on Sexual Misconduct” quoted above, all we need is for anybody and everybody to keep calling Syosset (516-922-0550) and tell them about these situations until they are dealt with. Right?

    • Daniel E Fall says

      I think the greatest danger of homosexual clerics is heterosexual clerics using the information for their advantage James. It is still a danger.

  26. Francis Frost says


    Your entire line out reasoning is predicated on layers of misunderstanding and false premises.

    First, you seem to misunderstand what the Tomos was / is. The Tomos was a mechanism to regularize the Metroplia’s status as a “temporarily autocephalous” body. The Metropolia declared its “temporary autocephaly” after the Bolshevik suppression of the church and the MP’s subsequent demand that Russian clergy in America swear an oath of loyalty to the Soviet Union. Such a course was impossible and unthinkable. Hence, the temporary autocephaly. Much has been made of the Metroplia’s tangled and troubled relationship viv-a-vis the ROCOR. I will not wade into that, beyond to say that cultural, ethnic, political as well as ecclesiastical differences contributed to that lengthy estrangement.

    While the Metroplia’s and the OCA’s hierarchs repeatedly asked for sacramental communion with an open and respectful discussion of the outstanding issues, the ROCOR always insisted on submission to its position as a pre-requisite to communion.

    The OCA’s Tomos of Autocephaly was negotiated only after the Ecumenical Patriarchate refused to subsume the Metroplia under its own omophorion. After all, that was the Metropolia’s bishops first request. The Tomos was a means to regularize the OCA’s status. The Tomos was never a blueprint for unification of the jurisdictions in North America. The OCA’s Metroploitan and its bishops never made such a claim no matter how many others, yourself included, have done so.

    From the very beginning, the OCA’s primates and its bishops have advocated for a unified Orthodox church in this land. The vehicle for that goal was first SCOBA, and now the ACOB. Both of those institutions have been headed by the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of North America, as the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch. This has been a consistent policy for 60+ years. There has been no change in all that time, nor has the Tomos altered that policy.

    Currently the Chambesy Agreement is the operative document that is governs the process of unification of our Orthodox community in this land. The MP is a signatory to that agreement. The OCA is a full participant in the ACOB. End of story.

    You decry the moral decadence of “the West” in presumed contrast to the spiritual and moral superiority of “the East”. First you should define West and East. Do you include the Islamist countries as part of the East? Are they superior to the West as well? Tell that to the 1400 victims of Sarin gas in the Damascus suburbs this past August. Tell that to the 1 million killed in the 10 years of the Iran / Iraq war of the 1980’s. Tell that to the victims of 9 /11.

    You frequently extol the religious superiority of “resurgent Russia”. Never mind the facts. Despite 25 years of freedom from atheism, the ROC has achieved next to nothing. Three annual surveys by the Levada Center (Russia’s version of the Gallup poll) show that the ROC-MP attracts only 2% of the population (about 2.5 million out of a total population of 147 million) to active participation in the church. Metroplitan Hilarion admitted as much in an interview with the US ambassador in the diplomatic cables leaked by the Assange group. You may still find a copy of that document on the Stokoe web-site.

    While you decry the moral degeneracy of the West, it is an documented fact (WHO web-site) that the rate of abortion in the Russian Federation is 3 times that of the US, which, in turn, is much higher than that of western Europe. As the Lord said ” by their fruits, ye shall know them”.

    You, like many others extol the moral leadership of Vladimir Putin. Putin is an unreconstructed militant atheist who is using Christianity as a cover for his consolidation of power and neo-imperialist ambitions. Never mind that Putin called the demise of the Soviet State as the “greatest geo-political disaster in history. Never mind that Putin has systematically attempted to rebuild the neo-Soviet State.

    In the Gospel, Jesus said: “ If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”. Has Putin kept the commandments? The answer is a definitive NO.

    Last summer Putin publicly renounced his wife of over 30 years, and made her take the fall for the failure of their marriage by claiming that the were divorcing due to her antipathy to public life. This after 30 years in the public eye. Of course, there was no mention of Putin’s mistress, Alina Kabayeva or their 2 year old son, Dmitri. Putin, having consolidated his imperial power needs an heir and wants to legitimize this son, and so his wife of 30 years is disposed of. Practical, yes. Righteous, no.

    Putin does not practice the commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” nor does he practice the commandment “Love your enemy”. In the reconquest of Chechnya, over 100,000 people almost all innocent civilians, were killed by the indiscriminate carpet bombing of Grozny and Gudermes. Putin famously vowed to “hunt them down in their outhouses and destroy them without mercy.” In the invasion of Georgia, civilians were specifically targeted and even hunted down like animals.

    To suggest that Putin is an exemplar of Christian values is not just ignorant, it is delusional.

    In August 2008, the Russian bishops, Panteleimon of Kabardino-Adyghe and Feofan of Saratov (since transferred to Machkhala) accompanied the invasion forces and publicly “blessed” the weapons used to attack civilian populations. These “blessings” were televised first in Russia and then in Georgia. You may watch the video with your own eyes as it is included in the “Orthodox Occupation” video on You Tube. These infernal “blessings” are also included in Andrei Nekrasov’s documentary “Uroki Russkogo” (Russian Lessons), which debunks the Russian government’s propaganda campaign of justification for its invasion of Georgia. Mr.Nekrasov’s documentary is also available on You Tube in 12 segments, some with English sub-titles for those who do not understand the Russian language.

    On August 8, 2008, the missiles “blessed” by Bishop Feofan were used attack the ancient Ghvrtaeba Cathedral and the Shrine of the Protomartyr Razhden in Nikazi. On August 9th, the Russian military and their Ossetian allies looted, desecrated and burned this ancient House of God. These weapons were used in bombing raids and missile attacks on civilian populations throughout Georgia, including areas well outside the so-called “zone of conflict”.

    The 2008 documentary “Orthodox Occupation” has been re-released and posted on You Tube at the following url:

    Portions of this documentary plus additional footage are now available with English voice over, titled “Orthodox Occupancy Part 1 and Part 2” at the following urls:

    A television documentary on the destruction of Ghvertaeba Cathedral and the work of reconstruction carried out by Metropolitan Isaiah may be viewed at:

    The tragedy of the Russian Church is that its leaders have chosen to serve a master who is not Christ. To suggest that the MP is somehow better or morally superior to the OCA is simply ridiculous.

    Frankly your entire argument is specious and silly. Why don’t you find a subject in which you actually know something and use your site for constructive purposes?

    Francis Frost


    • George Michalopulos says

      Francis, thank you for your erudite response. Unfortunately there are more than a few incorrect premises on your part as well. There is no such thing as “temporary autocephaly.” Either a church is autocephalous or it’s not.

      Equally unfortunate, my contact in Syosset spilled the beans: even Syosset believes in the conditionality of the OCA’s autocephaly. What’s worse, they play along with this game as we can see when Metropolitan Savvas Zembillas let the cat out of the bag and stated that ACOB’s mission was not to set up an autocephalous church.

      When and where that first became known should have been the point in which the OCA’s synod should have gotten up as a man and walked out of the meeting.

      Do you begin to see how convoluted Syosset’s continued existence is (and this is ignoring their own violation of several canons recently).

      On a tangential issue regarding the ACOB: didn’t the Patriarch of Antioch recently issue an embargo on all his eparchies in the Diaspora from further participation? Didn’t he also set up three new archdioceses for the Lebanese Diaspora in Europe? How is this in line with Chambessy?

      And yes, I continue to proclaim that the ROC is “morally superior to the OCA” at this point. Where are the OCA’s hospitals? women’s shelters? drug clinics? Do they get rid of their primates (and other bishops –towit Bp Basil Radzianko) by stealth, secret negotiations, and lies? Has the ROC established an Unclear Sex Squad Regime in which anonymous tips can be sent to Syosset and an accused priest must respond within 21 days to nebulous accusations? The Inquisition was a model of transparency compared to the USSR.

  27. Francis Frost says

    And one more thing…

    Whether you, George Michalopoulos keep or disregard the fast is utterly irrelevant to the discussion. The fact that you broke the fast three times says absolutely nothing about anyone but you!

    What is more, you seem ignorant of the Savior’s command to fast in secret. Matthew 6:16-17.

    Really George, perhaps you should consider an inquire’s class to learn the basic of the Orthodox Faith before you launch into another critique of the church,

    • George Michalopulos says

      Francis, the reason I stated my own personal failure was to illustrate a point. We here in America are mollycoddled beyond all historical precedent. As Elton John sang, “…even the poor get fat.” We have never known what true tyranny is. And yet some of us presume to judge our Christian brothers and sisters who lived behind the Iron Curtain. That’s rich.

  28. Francis Frost says

    Misha’s phrase “ the ever degenerating decadent morality in the West” , is one of those undocumented assertions that are frequently thrown out with the assumption that the readers will swallow the accusation unchallenged. After all, Lenin once said that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.

    No doubt, these accusations against “the West” make certain persons more confident of their own adopted “Eastern” identity. But is there any verifiable evidence to support such an assertions? Let’s review a few facts.

    The American people are in aggregate, the most generous donors to charitable causes of any nation’s citizenry, bar none.

    Bill and Melinda Gate, Warren Buffett, the Number # 1 and #2 wealthiest billionaires in America have pledge 90% of their wealth to the service of humanity through the Gates Foundation. This foundation works to insure health, clear water, and development around the world. Recently through its vaccination program, polio was eradicated among the 1.2 billion population of India.

    Warren Buffet recently issued a public challenge to the wealthiest Americans. As a result, another 38 members of the Forbes 400 wealthiest list have pledged at least 50% of their wealth to charitable causes.
    Can our critics of “the West” point to a similar endeavor among Russia’s oligarchs?

    When the Russian Duma outlawed foreign adoptions it effectively outlawed all adoptions for the 750,000 Russian orphans living in horrific conditions. Adoption by Russian families is nearly non-existent.
    While Mr Putin, who has a stated salary of roughly $56,000 USD owns three estates, each valued at greater than $1 billion USD, has he taken in a single one of those abandoned or orphaned children into his grand estates?

    Never mind that most of these children suffer from congenital debilities due to HIV infection, the prenatal damage from drug abuse or fetal alcohol syndrome. No they are just one more pawn in a cynical political game. What can be more despicable or degenerate than that?

    While Russian men have an ever declining life expectancy ( now less than 60 years) due to rampant alcoholism and drug abuse, the only 12 step programs in Russia were offered by our IOCC. The recent laws against foreign “agents” will ensure the demise of even those modest program.s Russia, with a population less than half of the US population consumes 70% of the entire Heroin production of the entire world. As the “west” pulls out of Afghjanistan, the heroin crop is growing exponentially. As a result of cheaper and more potent heroin more Russian addicts will die young.

    The church fares not much better. In 2012 Patriarch Kirill who is reported to have a personal fortune of $4 Billion USD, suffered a series of public relation disasters when his own bad conduct was publicly revealed.

    Read on from the BBC:
    The Church started speaking of a “smear campaign” being waged against the Patriarch.
    It appeared to have in mind stories in the media and on the internet alleging that its leader enjoyed luxuries that contravened the vow of poverty he took when he became a monk.

    One concerned a lawsuit involving a large flat belonging to him in an exclusive district of Moscow. The lawsuit ended with damages of around $500,000 (£315,000) being awarded to a woman acting on behalf of the Patriarch, while a neighbour’s flat was seized by bailiffs.

    Another featured a $30,000 Swiss watch that the Patriarch was photographed wearing during a religious service in Ukraine in 2009.

    Kirill said the watch was a gift and not part of his attire. He said the photo was a “collage”.

    But then bloggers posted another photograph, from his website, which had been doctored to remove the watch from his wrist. The reflection of the watch was still clearly visible on the highly polished table.

    Twitter users mocked him as “Patriarch of Switzerland and all Watches”.

    And his press service was forced to issue an apology, admitting a “ridiculous mistake”.

    The scandal does not end there. Knowing that the Canons forbid clergy from entering into civil lawsuits, the lawsuit used to deprive Kirill”s neighbor of his home was filed by one Lidia Leonova, who lives in the Patriarchs apartments and is described “as a distant relative”. From the Moscow Times:

    It started two years ago as an ordinary neighbor’s quarrel.

    One complained that the other had contaminated her apartment while renovating his residence in the prestigious House on the Embankment in downtown Moscow.

    Yet the petty squabble has developed into a highly contentious court case involving the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and a former Cabinet minister who occupied Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and became a priest after leaving office.

    Yury Shevchenko, 65, a renowned surgeon and former health minister in Vladimir Putin’s first government, is locked in a court battle with the custodian of a luxury apartment belonging to Patriarch Kirill, the powerful head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    The plaintiff is Lidia Leonova, the registered owner of the apartment. She alleges that dust from remodeling work Shevchenko was doing in the apartment above ruined her home and the expensive books it contained.
    She is seeking 20 million rubles (about $6 million) in damages.

    Read more:
    The Moscow Times

    BTW: As the outcome of the lawsuit Father Yury lost his home in Moscow and has been forced to relocate to Ukraine while he is battling cancer. He now lives with his children in Kyiv.

    So we have a sumptuary Patriarch who is publicly exposed a s a liar and who is know to be sharing his home with a woman, who is decorously described as a distant relative. This same cohabitant woman has filed lawsuit on the Patriarch’s behalf in order to circumvent the canonical prohibition on clerical lawsuits.

    But after all, decadent moral degeneracy is in the eye of the beholder.

    Just one more thought: If life in Russia was so attractive, the OCA would be opening English language parishes in Russia, not he MP opening churches to serve the many Russian who have fled Russia.

    • George Michalopulos says

      “Undocumented”? Can we just start with 3,000 abortions a day? Can we start with civil magistrates who move heaven and earth to safeguard partial-birth abortion, wherein the skulls of babies are crushed, a practice so barbaric that Nazis, head-hunting cannibals, and commissars recoiled from? How about starting with something so innocuous as removing crèches from the public square?

      Don’t get me started. It’s too early in the morning for me to start drinking.

      • George, the obvious point that I and Francis and others are making and you keep missing for some reason is that Russia is worse. Russia has less than half the US population but performs twice as many abortions, in absolute numbers. 4500/day.

        Mantras like “the ever degenerating decadent morality in the West” are purely imaginary to the extent that they are meant to imply “morality” is better in the Orthodox world, because that’s just a lie. It’s mostly worse. By nearly every index. Blaming the 80-year-old Bolshevik aggression against the Church and the Czar is a textbook case of fallacious special pleading. The Bolsheviks were a product of the ferment in Russian culture, and the Russian people themselves did nothing effective to resist their “theomachy” after ’22. That says a lot about the politico-religious model that Orthodox “traditionalists” and reactionaries would hawk to us here in “the West.” Caesaropapism metastasized more perniciously in Russia than it had in the theocracy of New Rome.

        I’ll say it again: Petty, scapegoating and hypocritical moralists, “candle-holders” and all those who are readily bewitched by garden-variety imperial or merely nationalistic mystagogy and trance-state induction, hollow formalism, glitzy ecclesiastical show-biz and pious logorrhea (“And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking . . .) — these sorts are no doubt much impressed by the presence in the RF of much more churchly haut théâtre and liturgical ritual these days — not to diminish the importance of liturgy, which I certainly wouldn’t want to downplay.

        But how about holy men and women of real charity, mystical depth, vision, insight and intellectual & spiritual power? Persons of faith in Jesus Christ, his teachings and in the Kingdom of God, not idolaters of imperial cult orthodoxy or mysteries or vain ritual or worst of all, delusional phantasmagoria about “Third Rome?” I’m genuinely eager to hear solid indications that such godly persons have truly arisen from Holy Russia. I hope so, because God knows we and His good Earth desperately need them.
        Won’t be holding my breath though. From here, looks and sounds a lot like the same ol’ same old to me.

        To these eyes, what’s happening now in the MP/RF, “post-Soviet,” shows more than a few signs of descent into an even greater depth of apostasy from the Kingdom of God; a cynical, sinister, transparent farce on its face, a sordid mockery of Christ’s Church, in which the people are enticed to feast on stale husks and chaff, revere deceitful appearances and bend the knee once again to an exclusively backward-looking, reactionary organization staffed by unlearned and superstitious neo-apparatchiks — “having a form of godliness, but denying its power.”

        Nevertheless, most fetching to y’all, apparently. Instructive. But then I’ve noted for years how many adore and swoon over “pretty” lies. Good luck with that. Roger and out.

        • George Michalopulos says

          And you know what else Russia leads us in even though they have half our population? Murder by gunfire. Even though they have stricter gun-control laws than we do in the States. (Just thought I’d throw that one in there.)

          Now, to the main point: you and Francis continually harp on regarding the awfulness of Russia is part of a larger point that you and he and other Russophobes continue to overlook and/or deny: and that is that Russia (and the other Iron Curtain countries) have been subjected to at least a half-century of militant atheism. And I don’t mean “militant” in the same way that Murray Madelein O’Hair was militant, I mean “militant” in the sense of closing and burning down churches and lining believers up against a wall and shooting them, militant. That’s a horse of a different color. I mean militant in the sense that at least three generations of schoolchildren were marinated in an education system that said everything about religion was bad. I mean that even the strongest of believers went to church with the full knowledge that many of the priests were KGB agents and that their confessions were being reduced to writing and sent to their KGB files. I mean militant in the sense that if you maintained a belief in Christ, your life-choices were sharply limited. There are more than enough potential engineers out who eked out livings by being janitors thanks to their faith in Christ. I could go on.

          The point is that even the strongest of individuals have a hard time overcoming the Zeitgeist, whatever that Zeitgeist is. We Americans are so inculcated in materialism and commercialism that we think the major holiday this week is Black Friday. There have been incessant stories on the TV about it. How many about Thanksgiving?

          So what’s my point? How about this: how do we dare to judge our Russian brethren when we haven’t walked even a block in their shoes? More, how can we judge the Russian hierarchy when one of their own (Alfeyev) has the courage to critique the state of Russian Orthodoxy when our own American bishops engage in nothing but happy-talk?

          • George Michalopulos says

            Mike, in my reply earlier, I failed in my rush to wish you and yours, and all our readers, a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. (Church awaited, my sons were in town and they wanted to serve on the Altar, then copious amounts of calories awaited at my auntie’s house.)

            • George, glasses raised, wishing a blessed Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones, too — as well as a blessed and fruitful Nativity fast. The same, and all the best, to all the readers of Monomakhos.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Also, thanks for keeping it lively!

                • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

                  In line with what you wrote above, yesterday I celebrated Matins at 8:00 AM.We couldn’t do liturgy because the first day of the fast is not a liturgical day, unless it falls on Saturday or Sunday.
                  Anyways, I served in a cold church(at least the altar area was cold; the only time I felt somewhat warm was when I emerged from the altar area to intone an ektenia or read a kathisma).
                  But while standing in that cold area, I thought of the 8 million of my fellow Ukrainians who died in Stalin’s man-made famine of 1933. Just as Hitler was getting started in Germany, Stalin was killing about the same number of people as perished in the Holucast. And this is just the number of Ukrainians in just one year of Soviet rule.
                  It is said that Hitler was inspired by the Turkish genicide against the Armenians. I believe Stalin was inspired by the Irish potato famine of 1846-47. Then about a million Irish perished, while the landlords of that land exported the beef, pork, lamb, and grain that might have saved the starving Irish. It was a mass atrocity that no Irishman has ever forgiven. Stalin did the same to Ukrainians in their land, the breadbasket of Europe(one reason why Ukraine was coveted by Pole, Russian, and Turk alike). As to forgiving Stalin, all I can say is I leave that up to God. I condemn Hitler’s extermination of the Jews in no uncertain terms, but cannot gloss over such attrocities committed by another equally evil tyrant!

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Fr, like yourself, I am appalled at how little mention is made of the Holodomyr. I recently ran across an excellent summation as to why this might be by Jim Goad. I intend to publish it next week.

                    • One reason it was not well publicized in earlier times is because American liberals were denying it happened. They admired the Soviets (“Ten Days that Shook the World”) and either could not or would not believe or admit that Stalin was a vile monster. Later, as America ended up being allies with the Soviet Union during WWII, the mass murder of Ukrainians by starvation and the Katyn massacre (of Polish officers) were verboten subjects.

      • M. Stankovich says

        The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention today early released the Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report (Dated 11/29/2013) which included a Surveillance Summary: Abortion Surveillance – United States, 2010. The full PDF is available at:

        From the executive summary:

        A total of 765,651 abortions were reported to CDC for 2010; the abortion rate for 2010 was 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years; and the abortion ratio was 228 abortions per 1,000 live births.

        Women in their 20s accounted for the majority of abortions and had the highest abortion rates, whereas women in their 30s and older accounted for a much smaller percentage of abortions and had lower abortion rates. In 2010; women aged 20–24 and 25–29 years accounted for 32.9% and 24.5% of all abortions, respectively, and had abortion rates of 26.7 and 20.2 abortions per 1,000 women aged 20–24 and 25-29 years, respectively. In contrast, women aged 30–34, 35–39, and ≥40 years accounted for 15.3%, 8.9%, and 3.4% of all abortions, respectively, and had abortion rates of 13.2, 7.6, and 2.8 abortions per 1,000 women aged 30–34 years, 35–39 years, ≥40 years, respectively. Throughout the period of analysis, abortion rates decreased among women aged 20–24 and 25–29 years, whereas they increased among women aged ≥40 years. Adolescents aged 15–19 years accounted for 14.6% of all abortions and had an abortion rate of 11.7 abortions per 1,000. Throughout the period of analysis, the percentage of all abortions accounted for by adolescents and the adolescent abortion rate decreased.

        In 2010, most (65.9%) abortions were performed at ≤8 weeks’ gestation, and 91.9% were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation. Few abortions (6.9%) were performed at 14–20 weeks’ gestation, and even fewer (1.2%) were performed at ≥21 weeks’ gestation. From 2001 to 2010, the percentage of all abortions performed at ≤8 weeks’ gestation increased 10%, whereas the percentage performed at >13 weeks’ decreased 10%. Moreover, among abortions performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation, the distribution shifted toward earlier gestational ages, with the percentage of these abortions performed at ≤6 weeks’ gestation increasing 36%.

        When they speak of the “entire surveillance period,” they refer to the period of 2001-2010. I am presuming when they refer to a full 5% decrease of abortions – approximately 99% of which are performed for “unwanted pregnancy” – over the nine years of surveillance, and still report nearly 800,000 abortions for 2010, they do so “positively” and with a straight face. In the interest of fairness, Mr. Michalopulos, even rounding up, that would only be 2098 abortions per day…

    • Truly delusional. American philanthropy and politically incorrect Russian political decisions do not disprove the fact of “ever degenerating decadent morality” in the West.

      Look at the divorce rate, the abortion rate, the percentage of unwed pregnancies, church attendance, doctrinal disintegration of the mainline protestant churches, degeneration of even Orthodox practices, the PAOI poll of Orthodox attitudes in GOARCH and AOCNA. My God, it’s amazing anyone would even attempt to assert that American morality is not decaying.

      I’m not sure that a person can actually do that unless one of two conditions is present: a) open, flagrant dishonesty, or b) a moral code deeply opposed to that of the Orthodox Church.

      Part of the problem is inapposite comparisons. No doubt American culture is swirling down the toilet, but what about Russian culture? And why is Russian culture in its present state, and where is it going?

      Obviously, Russian culture is not in its present state because of the activity or inactivity of the Russian Orthodox Church during the Soviet period. Moreover, twenty-five years is a drop in the bucket measured in Orthodox time, this is the approximate length of time that the ROC has had to begin again working on Russian society. For comparative purposes, much of what is now European Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine were pagan for centuries after the beginning of the conversion of Russia in 988. Most certainly old fashioned Orthodoxy cannot be blamed for the shortcomings of Russia today, but it can be credited with some positives that it has accomplished. Attitudes toward abortion are slowly changing. Revulsion toward deviant sexual lifestyles is a healthy sign. The mere fact that membership is becoming a normative facet of Russian life is in itself encouraging compared to the attitude propagated under the Soviets. “Rome was not [re]built in a day.”

      A real comparison would be between the pop culture of America (which indicates the direction in which America is moving) and the parish culture of ROCOR (which arguably is a product of that “old fashioned” Orthodoxy, insofar as it can be lived in a hopelessly morally corrupt environment).

      • Francis Frost says


        It is delusional to keep denying facts. We have presented you with a long list of documented, verifiable facts.

        All you have in reply are unsupported cant: “moral degeneration and decadence of the West” If you want to make a case, give proof of what you assert.

        George keeps pulling out the excuse that the Russian church was oppressed for 80 years. Guess what? So were all the other Orthodox communities under Soviet Rule. In my wife’s hometown of Kutaisi alone, (population 300,000) there were 20,000 martyrs under Stalin’s oppression of the church.

        The oppression of the church affected all those under the communist yoke; but the church in Georgia is thriving. 90% of the population identifies as Orthodox and 60-70% attend services on at least a weekly basis. Churches are being constructed in every neighborhood. Churches are open 7 days a week with prayer services conducted during the week as well as on all the Holy Days and saints days. The Holy Synod just established 6 new dioceses, for a total of 44 dioceses in a country the size of South Carolina. Starting on the first Sunday of November, a new bishop has been consecrated every Sunday for a 7 weeks in Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. This, despite continued oppression of the Georgian nation by its neighbor to the north through economic blockades, continued territorial aggression and ethnic cleansing. The occupation forces in “South Ossetia” are daily moving the occupation line forward and stealing more land, homes and crops.

        The Georgian Patriarchate commands a great deal of moral authority. The Patriarch has no support from the government; but he has intervened to prevent violence ands ensure open elections during the recent change of government. Three years ago, Patriarch Ilya II suggested that families have more children. He offered to personally baptize any 3rd, 4th pr higher birth order child in a family. The result has been a 25% increase in the birth rate throughout Georgia. We are now close to the 10,000 mark in such baptisms by the Patriarch, which are held about 4 times a year.

        Of course, the oppression of the past does not excuse Putin’s adultery any more than it excuses Patriarch Kirill’s cohabitation with a woman or his worship of his own wealth or his public lies about his wealth. It does not excuse the murder of 50,000 Orthodox Georgians or the ethnic cleansing of 300,000 Orthodox Christians from their ancestral homes. It does not excuse the murder of 100,000 Chechen civilians bombed to death in rheir own homes. It does not excuse the assassination of over 300 journalist who dared to tell the truth about ‘Holy Russia’.

        You sir, are welcome to drink the Kool Aid; just don’t expect the rest of us to go along for the ride.

        The problem, dear Misha, is that you have made an assertion that the West is morally degenerate and more decadent than ‘Holy Russia’. It is now your obligation to provide proof of that, not unsupported assertions or excuses for why it is not so. Either provide proof of your assertion, or admit it is not so.

        While we are on the subject of moral decadence and degeneracy, we might also note that the news from Russia is so damning that over 300 journalists have been assassinated for reporting it. Google Anna Politkovskaya or Natalia Estemirova.

        BTW Transparency International ranked Russia as 133rd out 144nations on its Corruption Perception Index. This year’s results are due for release next week. Preliminary reports list little Georgia at number 8 ( last year Georgia was listed at 51).

        • George Michalopulos says

          Some of us have presented facts as well Mr Frost. Particularly how Georgia was used by Neocons in 2008 to be a staging area for the US military in its encirclement of the Middle East. It’s sad really, I do feel sorry for the Georgians because they were used by their dupe-president and they had to pay the price. I’m sure they’re asking at this point whether it was really worth it.

          • Francis Frost says


            Once again you fail to know your history. The Russian aggression against Georgia started in 1991, long before Georgia had any relationship with the US , NATO or the EU. It was in 1991 that ethnic Georgians were expelled from Tskhinvali by the Russian military and its allied Muslim militias. It was in 1992-1993, that 46,000 Georgians were slaughtered in their own homes and villages in Abkhazeti by the Muslim militias created, armed and protected by the Russian military. It was in 1992 that Father Andrea Kurashvili and subdeacon Giorgi Adua were tortured and martyred by these same militias. All long, before the Rose Revolution and Saakashvili’s decision to look westward for support.

            You also fail to mention that despite the ongoing provocations, the new Georgian government is determined to continue the EU and NATO accession plans. You might also notice this weeks events in Kiyv.

            After threats of an economic blockade, Ukrainian president Yanukovich, cancelled Ukraine’s plan to join the EU. As a result, there have been massive demonstrations across Ukraine similar those of the Orange Revolution. That, despite the real possibility of a 25% downturn in the economy if Putin carries through with his threats.

            Perhaps, you just might ask yourself: If Russia is so great, why do all its neighbors want to get away from it? . Why do its own best and brightest emigrate to the West ? Current Russian emigration is about 56,000 per year. How many American are emigrating to Russia?

            If we peel away the rhetoric, what you and Misha hate and despise about the West is its permissiveness, its freedom You fail to see that there is a difference between permission and advocacy. Allowing rights to homosexuals is not the same as advocating a homosexual life. If you think there have been no homosexuals in Russia, think again. Read the life of Piotr Tschaikovsky (and his brother Modest) or Prince Yusupov ( Rasputin’s assassin). For that matter read about Rasputin;s sexual escapades. Read about the Khlisty the Skoptsy and other deviant cults.

            No your real problem is freedom, because there are some who prefer slavery to freedom. Read Dostoyevsky’s Chapter “The Grand Inquisitor” in the “Brothers Karamazov” It has ever been so. Even the children if Israel had to wander 40 years in the wilderness until all those who longed for “the fleshpots of Egyot” had died before they could be allowed to enter the Promised Land.

            After all, freedom means you have to chooseto do right. You have to choose to fast. How much easier to have a tyrant make all those decisions for you!

            As for the OCA, you may claim that there is no “temporary autocephaly”; but that is not what we were told 40 years ago. If you had any connection to the OCA of that time, you would know that. Instead, you substitute your own notions for that history. You create a straw-man in order to declare that “the sky is falling” Go to the OCA archive, read the past issues of “The Orthodox Church” and then we might have the basis for a rational discussion about the Tomos.

            • George Michalopulos says

              For now, I’ll just concentrate on a few of your points as it’s getting late:

              1. I don’t know where you get the idea that I ever thought that there were no homosexuals in Russia. I’ve never said nor believed such a thing.

              2. If you think the US has “allows rights to homosexuals” but is not “advocating” on behalf of homosexuality, you obviously haven’t been paying attention to the news.

              3. What makes you think I have “a problem” with “freedom”? Please direct our attention to one essay, one paragraph, one sentence, where I have ever advocated censorship or the restrictions of freedom. That’s rich considering I’m a life member of the NRA, believe in unrestricted free speech, all of the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution, and even the right of secession.

              Really, your assertions about me lead me to wonder if you even understand what it means to be free or if you believe that licentiousness is a hallmark of freedom.

              • Francis Frost says


                Our Lord said “the truth will set you free” John 8:32

                The Prophet Isaiah, quoted in the 6 ode of the Holy Saturday Canon says” by observing lies and vanities, you have forsaken your own mercy”.

                You and Misha have made multiple assertions, comparing the West to Putin;’s Russia. All of them have been disproved by the facts.

                You claim that Russia invaded Georgia in a response to an encircling occupation by US “Neo-Cons”. I have demonstrated that the invasions of Georgia, the ethnic cleansing and mass murders started in 1991, long before the Rose Revolution or any US or European involvement in Georgian affairs. Even the Tagliavini report about the August 2008 war clearly states that Georgia “fired first” only after five weeks of Russian bombardment of the Georgian villages surrounding Tskhinvali.

                Truth matters

                You like to tout the “resurgent Russia” led by the MP. Never mind the statistical evidence of the MP’s complete failure to re-evangelize the populace. Never mind the public scandals.

                You also fail to note the heritage of Russia’s own saints who warned Russia’s rulers against such pride and aggressive imperialism.

                In 1811, St Seraphim of Sarov wrote to Tsar Aleksandr I : “ Georgia is the inheritance of the Holy Theotokos. Do not make war on Georgia; lest the Mother of God make war on us… and Russia perish.”

                In 1989, the Blessed Mother Makaria of Temkino warned Metroplitan Nikodim: “Russia will be turned into salt” (like Lot’s wife) Mother Makarai warned of internal apostacy and betrayal of the church by its own bishops. Matushka said “Russia is holy; but the Russian people have gone rotten”. She warned her friends” How sorry I am for you. How hard it will be for you… You will be barely able to commune even once in a year.” Matushka Makaria warned of natural disasters and catastrophes. You may read all this for yourself in her biography “Beloved Sufferer” by Gennady Durasov.

                Russia saints called for repentance; but what we have now are violence against innocents, violations of the canons and commandments, the adulterer and mass murderer, Putin vaunted as a paragon of virtue, and the acknowledged liar, thief and luxuriant Patriarch Kirill, and his crew held up as a models of virtue.

                There is a price to be paid for this hypocrisy. The day of God’s righteous chastisement is coming far sooner than any of you might think.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Yes, ROCOR was “in schism” for 80 years. You overlook the fact as to why they were in schism. Seems like they had a pretty darn good reason for doing so.

                  • It’s actually not true. Really, ROCOR was in communion with a number of canonical churches all the way up to the early 60’s. It was during the 60’s that they began to cease intercommunion with other churches due to ecumenism. Nonetheless, they were always in communion with Serbia and Jerusalem.

                    If you mean “schism” from Moscow . . . well of course. Though they never officially stated that the MP had lost its grace, it was apparent to everyone that Moscow was controlled by the Soviet state as a puppet church.

                    • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

                      I already have mentioned the fact that ROCOR Metropolitan Philaret served the Liturgy together with Metropolitan Ireney in Syosset. This had to have been after 1965 when Metropolitan Ireney was elected primate of what was then called the”Metrop.
                      Also, Bishop Longin of the Serbian Orthodox church blessed me to serve in his diocese years before the ROCOR-MP unification.

        • Francis, Francis,

          “The problem, dear Misha, is that you have made an assertion that the West is morally degenerate and more decadent than ‘Holy Russia’. It is now your obligation to provide proof of that, not unsupported assertions or excuses for why it is not so. Either provide proof of your assertion, or admit it is not so.”

          It is not my obligation. I have not compared America to “Holy Russia”. Find the quotes of mine to which you are referring and list them or else admit that you are misrepresenting me.

          Now, I have frequently said that the United States is morally degenerate. And I have given lists of examples regarding abortion, feminism, homosexuality, births out of wedlock, etc. Anyone who shares Orthodox morality really out to agree with me since all of these things are anti-Orthodox.

          I have made no representations regarding the holiness of Russia other than to say that they are now making some slow progress coming out of a long period of communist repression. Again, I defy you to produce some quote of mine to the contrary. I have said very little about modern Russia. What I have said repeatedly was that old fashioned Orthodoxy is the remedy to modern social problems. If you have read that as some endorsement of “Holy Russia” then that is your own affair.

          • Francis Frost says

            Here, Misha is being too clever, by half. Misha claims to have mode NO comparison between the “degenerate West” and Russia. Even so, he makes direct comparisons between the church in the US and the church in Russia.

            Mishka, the entire thrust of all your argument is the superiority of “traditional piety” as exemplified by the ROCOR and MP.

            This is actually somewhat entertaining. In order to defend what most Orthodox here would gladly admit to be ever degenerating decadent morality in the West, you trot out Ivan and Stalin as objects of comparison, also neglecting to note the actual numbers of Orthodox who regularly attend liturgy in this country as opposed to the officially propagated numbers of members usually cited. Instead of the 3-6 million usually cited by the Orthodox here as the number of self-identifying Orthodox in America, the number of those engaged in any meaningful sense is probably little more than 200,000 and the actual membership around 800,000. Same phenomenon as in Russia, except that we don’t have the history of Bolshevism to use as an excuse.

            You claim superiority for the “traditional piety” as exemplified by the ROCOR and MP in your arguments that the OCA is dying or collapsing.

            Never mind the fact that have after 25 years of government support, the MP is unable to attract more than 2% (Levada Centet), at most 4 % (VTsOM) of the Russian population to participate in the life of the church. Never mind the scandalous behavior of Patriarch Kirill and President Putin. Never mind that every statistical measure applied to the moral issues you raised is worse in Russian than in the US or Western Europe.

            The problem is that neither the MP nor ROCOR practice the actual tradition piety as exemplified by the Holy Canons and the Savior commandments.

            The ROCOR spent 80 years in schism, and during that period ordained bishops on the territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church of Greece and the Bulgarian Patriarchate. Those schismatic “traditionalist groups and Synods in Resistance” all trace their existence to the hands of ROCOR bishops. Now ROCOR has renounced them in favor of the MP. So tell me, are these, your children legitimate? If not then what is your church?

            The MP has wantonly violated the sacred canons by trespassing on the territory of the Georgian Patriarchate, by concelebrating with the renegade Hieromonk Vissarion Apliaa and “blessing” the weapons used to murder fellow Orthodox Christians and used to destroy the very altar of God in Nikazi.
            If this, sir, is “traditional piety” you are welcome to it. God’s righteous chastisement for all these outrages is already at work in Russia.

            AS\s for your clever remarks about the invasion of Georgia and the consequent suffering of innocents, I have no doubt George was wise to censor you. In response I have only toy say: “The Lord rebuke you” Jude 1:9.

          • Francis Frost says

            Her again George, himself, verifies the clear meaning of your remarks about the “decadent West.” Or are you going to accuse George of misrepresenting your remarks?

            If Misha permits me, I’ll gladly provide proof that the West is more morally decadent than Russia: Can we start with the legality of partial-birth abortion, in which a baby’s head is crushed? Are underage Russian schoolgirls allowed to have abortions without their parents’ knowledge? Is the illegitimacy rate for Russis 38% (more for African-Americans –78% and Latinos –52%)?

            • George Michalopulos says

              I was speaking mainly for myself but the facts as stated stand for themselves. They also seem to be a pretty good barometer of what most reasonable people would consider to be “decadent.”

        • Also, Francis, FYI, I did try to post a tasty little treat regarding my observations and feelings about the Russian-Georgian war of 2008 (and the fate of Saakashvili, etc.) but George (probably out of an abundance of wisdom) did not allow it to post. But I did make an effort to respond to your musings regarding that unfortunate episode.

          • Francis Frost says


            That fact that you take relish in mocking the suffering of innocent civilians, and the destruction of Orthodox altars says more about you and your spirituality than any words I might convey.

            “By your own words you will be condemned” Matthew 12:37

            Your amusement at the desecration of holy temples, the debasement of the Orthodox faith and the suffering of others is a sure sign not only of a defective, degenerate morality; but a positively demonic spirituality.

            May God help you to repent.

            • George Michalopulos says

              You know, I’d be curious how many native Georgians actually feel about the devastation visited upon them by their puppet-masters who were in thrall to the Neocons. And how they actually feel about Russia. It seems to me that the Patriarch of Georgia has visited Moscow more than once in the recent past.

              My guess is that the people of Georgia have had it up to here with the way they were used by their previous president.

        • George Michalopulos says

          If Misha permits me, I’ll gladly provide proof that the West is more morally decadent than Russia: Can we start with the legality of partial-birth abortion, in which a baby’s head is crushed? Are underage Russian schoolgirls allowed to have abortions without their parents’ knowledge? Is the illegitimacy rate for Russis 38% (more for African-Americans –78% and Latinos –52%)?

          Are tenured college professors and presidents of Ivy League universities thrown out of their jobs because they dare raise politically incorrect questions? Do the Russians have an Attorney General who thinks that it’s OK to perform drone strikes on Russian civilians? Do Russian politicians try to come to the aid of Islamic rebels who destroyed the WTC and who tear out the hearts of their enemies and eat them (and then post them live on YouTube)?

          Can we just start there?

    • “The American people are in aggregate, the most generous donors to charitable causes of any nation’s citizenry, bar none”. One would hope so, given that the USA is the world’s wealthiest society (not counting your national debt, obviously). But one suspects the aggregate figure is distorted by the large donations of very wealthy Americans. The most charitable people on earth in terms percentages of people who engage in charitable activity, including donations and volunteering for social service, are the Australians, followed closely by the New Zealanders then Ireland and Canada. The USA comes 6th on the list, which was compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation in 2010( I don’t expect the figures have changed much in the few years since, as they represent deep seated cultural traditions that seem to be unaffected by national or personal fortunes. Just a thought – since Australia, NZ and Canada all have significant populations of Irish descent, does that mean the Irish are the most charitable people on earth? I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.

  29. Francis Frost says

    You know I grew up among refugees from the Russian revolution, the Bolshevik oppression and two World Wars. They knew what hardship and tragedy were.

    Every single one of them described America as “the greatest place on earth”. You would never hear them decry the so called ‘decadent West’.

    No one mollycoddles you but yourself. No one forces you to break the fast. That is your own choice and your own responsibility. Stop blaming the surrounding culture and take responsibility for your own observance. And while we are on the subject perhaps you should read St Basil an St John Chrysostom’s advice on a pleasing fast. It is what come out of your mouth that defiles you not what goes into it! c.f Matthew 15:11

    You might also reference the Prophet Isaiah’s cry:

    “Cry aloud with strength, and spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet, and declare to My people their sins, and to the house of Jacob their lawlessness. They seek Me day by day, and desire to know My ways. As a people who did righteousness, and did not forsake the judgment of their God, they now ask Me about righteous judgment, and desire to draw near to God, saying, ‘Why have we fasted, but You did not see it? Why have we humbled our souls, but You did not know it?’ Because in the days of your fasts, you seek your own wills, and mistreat those under your authority. If you fast for condemnations and quarrels, and strike a humble man with your fists, why do you fast to ME as you do today, so your voice may be heard in crying? I did not choose this fast, and such a day for a man to humble his soul; nor if you should bow your neck like a ring, and spread sackcloth and ashes under yourself, could you call such a fast acceptable. ‘I did not choose such a fast’ says the LORD; ‘rather loose every bond of wrongdoing; untie the knots of violent dealings; cancel the debts of the oppressed; tear apart every unjust contract. Break your bread for the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house. If you see a naked man, clothe him, nor shall you disregard the offspring in your own household. Then shall you light break forth as the morning, and your healing shall spring forth quickly. Your righteousness shall go before you, and the glory of God shall cover you. Then you shall cry out, and God will hear you. While you are still speaking, He will say: ‘I am here’.”  Isaiah 58:1-10

  30. Amazed in the Midwest says


    I would answer if not dead then mortally wounded. Why? Take a read here.

    Those who support this waste of money in sending OCA reps to these heterodox gatherings just don’t get ti. If 60% of the OCA is made up of “converts” do you think for one moment that those converts left their former confessions to seek out Orthodoxy just to see their jurisdiction involved as members of heterodox organizations? There is little support in the OCA for their membership in the NCC or the WCC, but Kishkovsky and his anointed Golitzen as the elitists they are ignore the cries of the οἱ πολλοί as they spend the precious dwindling resources of the same on these worthless junkets.

    But now, read here. Now the οἱ πολλοί are invited to pay for this nonsense. I would wager a bet that they could get 1000 people to join this remake of FOS if they said they would stop supporting and attending heterodox meetings like the one in S. Korea.

    This marketing campaign to get 300 the so-called Stewards of the OCA is really an embarrassing reflection of how far the OCA has sunk. But by setting the bar so low, they can declare victory and conclude how vibrant the OCA is. But wasn’t it just a few years that FOS claimed nearly 3000 members, not 300 and raised something like $325,000 per year?

    Now as to the reasons they give us we should give: because the OCA Synod has joined (nothing new they gave to FOS), the Chancery Staff (nothing new there, they also supported FOS), the MC members (same is true for FOS). No, now we should give because of their leadership? We should give because they have set what standard of leadership for us to follow? Say again???? Pray tell what leadership? What new standard and example?

    I think I will support my own parish, IOCC, OCMC, Hogar Rafael. Organizations that have a future grounded in love and respect for others and who are really helping people. I don’t think the OCA leadership has earned respect to be rewarded with joining this “new” giving scheme.

    • Engaged observer says


      I completely agree with you. One thing that’s important to be aware of (or to remember):

      Fr Leonid was involved in the early negotiations of OCA autocephaly back in the 1960s, and the early meetings between the estranged OCA and the Moscow Patriarchate were at the time coordinated/organized/arranged through representatives the WCC, as the OCA and the MP did not have any existing contact otherwise at the time. Thus, Fr Leonid has a long history of involvement with the WCC (going on almost 50 years probably) and likely has some warm feelings toward the WCC as a body because of the way it helped to coordinate the early autocephaly negotiations — and these warm feelings seem to have persisted through the present.

      Old habits die hard. I’m not saying that I agree with him, but that his long history with the WCC helps to explain his reluctance to disengage from WCC involvement.

      I thought this paragraph in the “300 Stewards” letter was compelling:
      “In recent years, the OCA’s departments and ministries have been underfunded, while assessments only provide for the Church’s administrative needs,” said Father John. “While not everyone will want to or be able to join, and while some may have mixed feelings—especially since there are lots of other vital parish, diocesan, inter-Orthodox, charitable and humanitarian causes that need support—we hope that those who share a common vision of what the Orthodox Church can be in serving the people of North America will step forward during the next three weeks.”

      Father John leaves out one major reason why many may not want to join the “300 Stewards”: because even now, years after the OCA financial problems were first brought to light, many of us *still* do not trust (and haven’t seen reason to trust) that our God-given resources (of which we are charged to be responsible stewards) will be used wisely by the OCA central administration.

    • Daniel E Fall says

      Don’t you ever get tired of the get out of the UN drum W?

      It is sort of meaningless in all things from a layperson’s perspective.

      What makes it so horrible from a priest’s viewpoint?

      Enlighten me please.

  31. Dear Amazed,

    Don’t give! The OCA doesn’t need your gift. Regarding the OCA’s participation in the WCC & NCC, this is nothing NEW. In fact, there were many Orthodox representatives from many countries and many jurisdictions. This has nothing to do with converts in the OCA. It has to do with “witness” of the Truth. Your comments are the same we have seen over the years from Synodal, sectarian diatribes. So, how is the dying Synod anyway?

    • Amazed in the Midwest says

      Al Jizzara,

      I could not disagree with you more. It has everything to do with converts, The OCA has styled itself as being at the forefront of attracting converts to the Orthodox Faith. Look at their Synod. Golitzen and Dahulich are the only cradle Orthodox on that Synod. If it is true that 60% of the OCA is made up of converts, you can bet your bottom dollar that all this “Ecumenical” nonsense is not lost on them. They left their former confessions because of Ecumenism and the slippery slope that leads to relativism.

      I know you may not like to hear it, again, but it can be argued that the OCA softness towards their gay clergy and bishops is a result of their exposure to the “fellowship” with other Christian confessions and their acceptance of homosexual leaders. If you lay down with fleas…….! This has nothing to do with gays and lesbian laity who understand that their lifestyles/choices are not compatible with Orthodox teaching, those who struggle against their sinful inclinations, just like any other person struggles against their sinful inclinations, but that does not equate to gays being ordained or made bishops.

      The current OCA leadership in Syosset is very pro ecumenical activity. They have blocked and ignored the many attempts by the voice of the people at their “highest legislative body” the All-American Council, to leave the NCC and the WCC. And, in reality I can’t point to one concrete example of the time, talent and money that has been wasted by “witnessing” to these bodies. How have they changed, how have they come closer to the Truth of the Orthodox Faith?

      I object, as is my prerogative, to support the OCA if it continues to make their participation at these events a high priority. But I will admit that the realistic response of the OCA Chancellor that there may be a substantial number of people who also don’t agree with the direction of the jurisdiction who may also not avail themselves to their invitation.

      But let me say again, it has everything to do with converts and to think otherwise does not line up with reality.The OCA is not growing and participation in the NCC and WCC will not help them grow.

      • Dear Amazed:

        You are all over the place. Converts, the WCC & NCC, Syosset, Gays, Etc. As I said, Orthodox participation in the WCC & NCC goes back to the 1960’s. Not just the Metropolia/OCA, but Constantinople and Moscow. Converts on the most part, are not a big problem for the OCA. Converts like Bp. Tikhon (retired) were a disaster. As for gays, there are gays in every jurisdiction. Many have ceased acting on their passions, but those who haven’t are revealed and dismissed. So, I don’t know where you are coming from. The OCA still has the most Orthodox theologically educated bishops and priests than any other jurisdiction. This will continue. Are you homophobic?

        • I thought that labels such as “homophobic” are not in an Orthodox man’s vocabulary.

          • Mitrich,

            You’re right. “Homophobia” is just a twisted way of describing Orthodox morality with respect to sexual ethics. It would be like using “egalitarianophobic” to describe our ecclesiastical-hierarchical structure. True, but not an Orthodox way of talking about the situation. It presumes a perspective and value system foreign to Orthodoxy.

        • Jim of Olym says

          Dear amazed: perhaps the testosterone level of gay aging orthodox clergy decreases so they aren’t as apt to act out (disclaimer: I’m 78 and not gay and not as apt either, even if I’m married to the love of my life!)

      • M. Stankovich says

        Amazed in the Midwest,

        What have you done, studied with Misha?

        Allow me to employ your criteria and present to you the case of the greatest of offending Orthodox “Ecumenicists” of our time. “If it is true that 60% of the OCA is made up of converts, you can bet your bottom dollar that all this “Ecumenical” nonsense is not lost on them,” they would arise as one against this one, because not only did he describe himself as an “Orthodox Ecumenist,” but as a “radical Ecumenist.” In his time, he was on the cover of every major US news magazine because he was a noted & noteworthy scholar, respected from Canterbury, to the Vatican, to Moscow, to Princeton, and to Harvard. Yet, never have I ever heard or read anyone remotely suggesting that he was anything other than faithful to the full and unchanging Holy Tradition of the Church. He was “soft” on nothing though he continually “lay down with fleas.” His direction was not set by any jurisdiction, Synod of Bishops, or Chancellor, or expectation of converts, or “supporters with prerogatives,” but by the words of our Lord Himself: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) And if you haven’t already guessed, I refer to Fr. Georges Florovsky. member of the WCC, NCC, first Dean of SVS, Professor at Princeton, Columbia, and Harvard Universities, and Professor at Princeton, Union, and Harvard Divinity Schools.

        I’m thinking you need to focus on something significantly more substantial. Do you honestly believe that even 10% of the OCA faithful cares about this issue? Seriously? Relativism? Think indifference. I’ll bet you’d be hard-pressed to find a dozen in your parish who even known what the acronyms WCC & NCC mean. If people like you actually spent as much time advocating something – anything – positive, inventive, creative, and edifying – pedestrian though it might seem – how much more brightly our light would shine before men. Perhaps re-read Fr. Alexey Kargut’s essay on our mutual responsibility in sobornost. As best I know, all the the positions for “bitching & complaining” are filled.

        • Amazed in the Midwest says

          Mr. Stankovich,

          You are so silly. You have frozen Fr Georges in time and lock what he did in the 50’s and therefore conclude he would be an ecumenist today. Again, so very silly.

          Fr Florovsky did not envision women priests and bishops, gay and lesbian clergy and the associated theological and ecclesiological compromises necessary to justify these slippery slopes.

          So if you can say with total certainty Fr Georges who be an ecumenist today based on what it is today, then in fact you are not making much of a case for this great Theologian.

          Nice try, but your OCA friends and you have made your peace with the WCC and NCC and the OCA are members of these groups in part, for the worst possible reason, to legitimate itself (code word, fellowship) with other Orthodox. How very sad.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Amazed in the Midwest,

            “Silly.” you say? Might I inquire as to how you would determine what Fr. Florovsky could or could not envision? I met him. I spoke with him. He graciously invited me for tea. He answered my foolish questions. He signed several books for me. I attended the liturgies he served. I listened to him preach. I was in the choir that honoured the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. I was in the choir that sang at his funeral and burial. I have “frozen him in time?” Your head is empty.

            Go back and read what I wrote: “Allow me to employ your criteria” You are the one foolish enough to generalize such superficial criteria to suggest anything about anyone. I was simply applying your ignorant logic to a great man as Fr. Florovsky as an analogy of how ignorant and unfair you had been. Get it? Let’s try this another way: you too are of the breed prepared to instruct rather than to be instructed; to teach, rather than be taught; and to speak rather than to listen. And maybe among your “cohort” your observations are magnanimous and insightful. but not to someone like me. This is why I referred you to the essay by Fr. Alexey Karlgut on this site – about the role of the laity in sobornost and the hierarchy of the Church (“Re: Authority in the church, Accountability, and Responsibility”).

            And finally, how cowardly and cheap of you to hide behind a pseudonym and make statements about “me and my friends” and “making peace over the WCC/NCC.” What do I care about any of this? I said you would not find 10% who care about this issue, me notably included. If you find it necessary to lower yourself to the “way of creeps” to argue with me, then you are not prepared to instruct me as to Fr. Georges Florovsky – or much of anything, for that matter – and you should be listening, certainly not instructing.

            • Amazed in the Midwest says


              You met Fr. Georges? Really. Well, so did I and I can tell you that he would be turing over in his grave today to see what the so-called Ecumenical movement has become. And yes, I am instructing you because you need it. I agree with you on Fr Kargut’s article. Too bad the OCA doesn’t follow his advice either.

  32. So why don’t they emulate St. Herman by living the gospel and also an ascetic life, filled with compassion instead of only trading on his name.

  33. Just in case any of you are waiting patiently for replies to some of the puerile tongue lashings launched my way, I should inform you that there are a few remarks of mine waiting for “moderation”. If they ever post, you may amuse yourselves further and spew forth more bile to your hearts content.

    BTW, Happy Thanksgiving!!! [No, I really mean that. And not just to George and the others here whom I respect but to each and every one of you. I have a pretty thick skin.]

  34. Daniel E Fall says

    And the final tally is

    Russia – not so great
    US – not so great

    talk about negative

    Alcoholism is a driving force behind Russia’s woes highlighted here….didn’t see it mentioned unless by FF who is unreadable on a blog in my lifetime.

    • Well, Dan, it kind of matters what point each of us is trying to make. I for one did not set out to show that the Russian Federation is paradise. Nor did I set out to show that the American Church should be under Moscow. Others have and that is their affair. All that I have ever claimed is that traditional Orthodoxy as exemplified by ROCOR, the Serbs and some of the Greek Old Calendarists is the medicine that a sick and degenerating culture needs, whether American or Russian.

      Much cyber ink has been spilled trying to refute other propositions in which I have nothing invested.

  35. cynthia curran says

    Well, actually Constantine government was no more authoritarian than the Roman rulers had been the past 200 years. The century that Constantine was born in seen 50 rulers in 50 years Civil war the name of the game.. The pre-Constantine government was the rule of 4 which didn’t last long. Augustus to about Marcus Aurelius was the period that you might be referring to. As one protestant stated that Christ being born at Augustus’s rule was the perfect time. Augustus didn’t appear anti-Senate which was smart since the Senate had influence in the Republican Period and he still allow them to do some things like promote some of the Roman governors like Pilate I believe. I mean this took placed under Tiberius but Augustus’ set the rules for the Senate. The last century of the Roman Republican which I’m very familiar with was impact by getting the common man into the army this lead to the common man being loyal to a general rather than the state. This was the idea of Julius Caesar’s uncle by married Gaius Marius which lead to his seven consulship and the dictatorship of his political arrival Sulla. Later with more political instability you had the sole consulship of Pompey and Pompey’s arrival Julius Caesar that became dictator for life as a result of civil wars. Caesar killed by Brutus and Cassius and then Mark Antony and Octavian. In fact the Republic work best before it gain too much territory where generals would divide the land among their veterans leading to a strong loyalty to a power hungry general.

  36. cynthia curran says

    By the way, Augustus memory was in such high esteem, that Byzantine emperors like Justinian like to use the term Ever Augustus. Byzantine empresses had the Augusta title like Livia. Robert Graves did Livia a disservice.

  37. cynthia curran says

    Well, I think Putin has a good point on opposing out of country adoptions. Many of the children would be adopted by protestants or Roman Catholics like Laura Inghram who has two children from Russia. Improve the orphanages and have more people adopt in Russia. I saw a wonderful story about a Russian Priest that adopted 70 children and has a home for them. He and his wive gave the kids a good christian upbringing that they may not get in the USA>

    • anonymus per Scorilo says

      I saw a wonderful story about a Russian Priest that adopted 70 children and has a home for them.

      I imagine you are talking about Fr. Michael Jar.
      He is not in Russia, but in Ukraine
      He is not Russian, but Romanian
      and He is not anymore a priest, he was ordained a bishop, under the name Longhin

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Pretty rough on a child to be adopted by a “Protestant or a Roman Catholic”! My own protestant parents, and my wife’s Catholic ones, were very fine parents indeed, to use a very small sample! Perhaps Mr. Putin lacks a certain perspective, or knowledge of the world…..

  38. cynthia curran says

    The quandary currently besetting us is that there is no past model of governance and interface with society we can use based on historical models, unless we use the general outline of pre-Constantinian Rome. The Russian/Byzantine model is completely unavailable, inapposite here.
    God save the Orthodox people, wherever He may find them!

    Well, what about America’s 40 years of drug addiction problems going back to the 1960’s. Dr Tim Leary got the ball rolling and you hear of middle to upper middle class kids still having the drug problems that their parents or grandparents did.

  39. cynthia curran says

    I don’t believe any of us have any essential qualms with Alfeyev’s historical analysis. The problem seems to be that you strain on the gnat of modern Russian Christianity’s deficits while swallowing the camel of American Christianity’s degeneration. More, you seem to be put out because Russia isn’t more like the West, which in its depravity, is committing spiritual and demographic suicide.

    Well, I wished that Mexico had committed demographic suicide, we would not had to debate whether 11 million people should be legal or not. Granted,I know some of those people came from other countries. Not that I’m saying that Mexicans should have had lots of abortions but they just recently got down to 2.3 and Brazil is 1.8.

  40. cynthia curran says

    Francis, the reason I stated my own personal failure was to illustrate a point. We here in America are mollycoddled beyond all historical precedent. As Elton John sang, “…even the poor get fat.” We have never known what true tyranny is. And yet some of us presume to judge our Christian brothers and sisters who lived behind the Iron Curtain. That’s rich.

    George your thinking is what caused our problem on immigration. Oh, the Us has indoor plumbing and electricity and I can go to live in Los Angeles even if I have to rent an apartment or house with 10 to 20 people. In fact some parts of the USA are not much better than the third world, everyone in the third world thinks they will own a tract house or something in the US..

    “El Futuro” is what some residents had begun calling the area, and here the future was unfolding in a cycle of cascading extremes:

    Hidalgo County has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation . . . which has led almost 40 percent of residents to enroll in the food-stamp program . . . which means a widespread reliance on cheap, processed foods . . . which results in rates of diabetes and obesity that double the national average . . . which fuels the country’s highest per-capita spending on health care.

    This is what El Futuro looks like in the Rio Grande Valley: The country’s hungriest region is also its most overweight, with 38.5 percent of the people obese. For one of the first times anywhere in the United States, children in South Texas have a projected life span that is a few years shorter than that of their parents.

    It is a crisis at the heart of the Washington debate over food stamps, which now help support nearly 1 in 7 Americans. Has the massive growth of a government feeding program solved a problem, or created one? Is it enough for the government to help people buy food, or should it go further by also telling them what to eat?

  41. “The OCA continues to ordain bishops, erect altars, define diocesan boundaries, consecrate Chrism, and elect its First Hierarch without the slightest reference to any other ecclesiastical entity. it remains FULLY autocephalous.”

    Or maybe merely, as the Antiochians say, “self-ruled.” Personally, the more I see of the American adventure the more I think an ancient patriarchate is not so bad.

  42. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Luke, not the same thing as the American Antiochians’ vaunted “self rule” at all. Did not the Archdiocese comply with the Antiochian Patriarchal Holy Synod in withdrawing from the kinky “Bishops Conferences” in accord with the latter’s pique about Qatar? That, Luke, IS reference to an ecclesiastical entity other than, actually higher than, the Archdiocese. And when does Metropolitan Philip or his bishops’ council consecrate Chrism?
    Having leverage in Antioch is not self-rule, either.

  43. Indeed, Luke, your distinction between “autocephalous” and “self-ruled” is quite appropriate, particularly for the OCA! After all, “autocephalous” implies the presence of a “kephalḗ” (head).

  44. Met. Jonah Served says

    Last Monday, at the beginning of Thanksgiving week, His Beatitude was asked to serve a Moleben service for a small group of Orthodox students at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. W&M is one of the oldest colleges in America, established during colonial times. Attending the service was a handful of Orthodox students from several backgrounds, a slightly larger handful of Greeks, and a much, much larger group of non-Orthodox. By all accounts he was extremely well received, and +Jonah gladly stayed several hours afterward answering questions about Orthodoxy.

    The student organizers who invited +Jonah to serve took some ribbing from the Greeks who indicated that while they came up empty searching for a priest, their friends were able to get a Metropolitan. +Jonah was definitely in his element there, and he always draws a lot of interest while visiting universities and around young people. It’s a pity that the OCA didn’t know how to handle his talents and abilities. Handled correctly, Jonah could have/still could become Orthodoxy’s version of Bp. Fulton Sheen bringing the gospel and Orthodoxy to the American masses. The interest he created among the students attending proves that Orthodoxy contains a message that people need and want to hear. He is simply too young to be pensioned off.

  45. Francis Frost says

    More about the protests in Ukraine:



    Will Democracy in Ukraine Survive in the Face of Government Aggression?

    Annually, for the past twenty two years, we in America joined our brethren in Ukraine in joyfully commemorating and witnessing the realization of our prayers and aspirations – Ukraine’s liberation and independence. For those who rightfully focus from a spiritual perspective that which occurred 22 years ago, the event of August 1991, was clearly a gift from God. It was the answer to fervent prayers uttered and noble deeds accomplished over centuries – prayers and deeds often sealed in blood shed out of love for our nation and her people.

    The events of last several days in the life of independent Ukraine and her aspirations however, to continue the development of true democratic society have been under a severe threat. Thousands of Ukrainian citizens have taken liberty to stand up for their beliefs by participating in protests-maydans throughout Ukraine and especially in the capital of Kyiv.

    Throughout Ukraine’s history, millions of people have given their lives for freedom, dignity and human rights, in order to reclaim the right to peaceful demonstration as well as political and societal activity. The voice of the street must be heard and respected and it cannot be silenced by the noise and uncertainties of those in leadership positions who choose to confuse and abuse by utilizing violence against the protestors. The use of force, confrontation and violence will fail to resolve political issues.

    We call upon the leaders of Ukraine to address and immediately cease the violence against the protestors. The country’s democratic future will depend on dialogue and the ability to listen to voice of Ukrainian citizens. It is essential that logic and calm prevail. No physical force will ever succeed in eliminating the free will and the voice of the citizenry! The authorities must respect the protestors who have simply exercised their political and constitutional – and most importantly – God-Given rights to peacefully gather in protest and demonstration. All the leaders and citizens of the Ukrainian nation must, as Saint Paul reminds us, clothe themselves in “heartfelt mercy, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.” (Col. 3:12)

    Embracing the gift of freedom with you, our spiritual children here in the United States of America and with those in Ukraine and in the hope of moving forward, rather than backward in history, we beseech with awe and thanksgiving the Father of lights and every perfect gift, the Son of righteousness and the Spirit of truth to descend upon us all, embrace us, guiding and perfecting our every deed.

    +Antony, Metropolitan
    +Daniel, Bishop