Kirill Speaks for the Orthodox

A good friend of Monomakhos, brought the following letter to our attention.  It is from Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All of Russia to President Erdogan of Turkey regarding his recent decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque . . .

The Patriarch’s letter:

“I am deeply concerned over the calls of certain Turkish politicians to reconsider the museum status of Hagia Sophia, one of the greatest monuments of Christian culture. 

“Built in the 6th century in honour of Christ the Saviour, this church is of great importance to the whole Orthodoxy. And it is especially dear to the Russian Church. Prince Vladimir’s envoys stepped across the threshold of this church and were captivated by its heavenly beauty. Having heard their story, St. Vladimir received baptism and baptized Rus’, which followed him into a new spiritual and historical dimension – Christian civilization. 

“Many generations conveyed to us admiration for achievements of this civilization, with us now being its part. And Hagia Sophia has always been one of its devoutly venerated symbols. The image of this church has become deeply ingrained in our culture and history, having given strength and inspiration to our architects of the past in Kiev, Novgorod, Polotsk – in all the major centres of the spiritual formation of Early Rus’.. 

“There were different, sometimes rather difficult periods in the history of relations between Rus’ and Constantinople.. Yet, with bitterness and indignation the Russian people responded in the past and respond now to any attempt to degrade or trample upon the millennium-old spiritual heritage of the Church of Constantinople. A threat to Hagia Sophia is a threat to the entire Christian civilization and, therefore, to our spirituality and history. To this day Hagia Sophia remains a great Christian shrine for every Russian Orthodox believer.  It is a duty of every civilised state to maintain balance: to reconcile the society, and not aggravate discords in it; to help unite people, and not divide them.

“Today the relationships between Turkey and Russia are developing dynamically. At the same time, one should take into account that Russia is a country with the majority of population professing Orthodoxy, and so, what may happen to Hagia Sophia will inflict great pain on the Russian people.

“I hope for the prudence of Turkey’s state leadership. Preservation of the current neutral status of Hagia Sophia, one of the greatest masterpieces of Christian culture and a church–symbol for millions of Christians all over the world, will facilitate further development of the relations between the peoples of Russia and Turkey and help strengthen interfaith peace and accord.”



  1. Thank you (spasebo) for your words Pat. Kirill! At my parish there’s an older gentleman that told me some time ago that the Patriarchate of Russia would someday emerge as the leader of world Orthodoxy. He hopes to live long enough to see that day. I pray that he does.

  2. American says

    Words from infidels (kufirs) are meaningless to Erdogan’s posse which, of course, holds jihad as its instrument of discourse with all kufirs. Name me a moment in time when anything was achieved with the Turks without force, except surrender. And don’t get all sloppy praising Putin, Kyril and the crew. It’s plausible they have a hand in this development as payback for Ukraine. Their S-400 missiles (that the Turks want badly) are also a chit in the big game. And their newest cathedral in Moscow makes the case for their being “Third Rome” with a magnificent edifice. Thus, Bart and the “Greek West” are done forever. They don’t call this Byzantium for nothing. The word “byzantine” took its place in our vocabulary because it stood for semi-treachery and convoluted backstabbing. Lastly, the HS in Istanbul doesn’t do a damn thing for American Orthodoxy, which is Orthodoxy’s last best hope–not Putin’s Russia or a building in Islamic Republics.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Putin would never have a hand in turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

      Bartholomew has no vested interest in it either way. He gave lip service to keeping it a museum, because it was expected, but he wasn’t passionate about it. He sees Hagia Sophia as a “place and symbol of encounter, dialogue and peaceful coexistence of peoples and cultures, mutual understanding and solidarity between Christianity and Islam.” Nothing would change for him if it was turned into a mosque. He doesn’t care about it from an Orthodox POV. He doesn’t care about Orthodoxy, period. He cares only about singing kumbaya with all religions, including Islim, and can do that just as well with his Muslim brothers reclaiming it.

      When the Russian Patriarchate broke ties with Bartholomew, they banned Russians from visiting all Orthodox churches in Turkey. Over 4.7 million Russian tourists visit Turkey each year and they have something like 30,000 Russian citizens. It’s no secret that the Russian Foreign Ministry has petitioned Erdogan to allow the Russian Orthodox Church to open one or more of their own churches in Constantinople for the many Russian people who are there.

      Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Putin is negotiating taking over Hagia Sophia for the Moscow Patriarchate! Boy, would that get under Bartholomew’s skin. The Russians would be one step closer to his “ecumenical throne.”

      Russia always plays the long game. They have not forgotten, nor will they ever forget, what Bartholomew did in Ukraine. It horrified the greater Church, as well, which is why all the Local Churches begged Bartholomew not to do it. The privileges Bartholomew thinks he enjoys, by virtue of his patriarchate being in Constantinople, could change if his patriarchate is relocated.

      Erdogan doesn’t like Bartholomew. Turkey doesn’t like Bartholomew. Russia doesn’t like Bartholomew. Maybe no one has to go to war to get rid of the Ecumencial Patriarchate. They just have to squeeze Bartholomew out of Constantinople.

      • Amen, Gail.

      • “The privileges Bartholomew thinks he enjoys, by virtue of his patriarchate being in Constantinople, could change if his patriarchate is relocated.”

        Yep. Which why he will never freely choose to leave, no matter the cost to the Church catholic. Apart from his current address the entire ‘canonical’ house of cards upon which he and others base his authority would collapse. His nakedness would be fully exposed, his prestige vanished like smoke in a soft breeze…and he knows it.

      • I agree with you Gail! I know Russia has her faults but it is the closest think that we have left of a Orthodox empire 

      • Gregory Manning says

        It is worth bearing in mind that the expense of maintaining Hagia Sophia is borne entirely by the Turkish government.  Moreover, the Turkish historical/architectural folks are so certain that Hagia Sophia, sitting as it does right on top of a major earthquake fault, may very well not fare so well when next Istanbul suffers yet another disastrous earthquake.  Several years ago, at considerable expense, the Turkish government initiated a comprehensive structural examination of the building by every expert they could round up in an effort to incorporate whatever modifications they could conceive of to try to avert the complete collapse of the building.  Hagia Sophia is, for whoever “owns” it, a serious money pit as it is.  If the experts in Turkey are to be taken seriously, it has the potential of becoming a heap of stones.  You think Notre Dame is going to be a challenge to restore?  Wait until Hagia Sophia falls.  No. It’s best to leave it as a museum and let Turkey continue to foot the bill.

        • The Greeks in the US certainly know something about churches that are money pits.  Olympic level mismanagement & crime.

      • Austin Martin says

        Two years ago, I would have agreed that Bartholomew is powerless. But I think we’ve learned that he has a lot more influence than we realized. Even with the Ukrainian incident, almost no one outside of Russia stood up to him.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Unleessss. . . they have a long range plan. They’ve dealt with this man a lot more (and more in depth) than we have. In 2017, they all met in Russia, minus the EP of course to talk about the “problem”. He had announced he had been approached about going into Ukraine internally.

          Stage 1 was trying to discourage him
          Stage 2 was sending him public letters to let us in on how they felt
          Stage 3 was not showing up for the OCU’s coming out party
          Stage 4 was distancing themselves from him
          Stage 5 may be a coup that has yet to happen

          They also know about his leanings toward Rome. They have not chided Russia for what happened in Western Europe or moving into Asia. Something (I pray) is in the works.

    • “American Orthodoxy, which is Orthodoxy’s last best hope,” is a nice thought or dream, but I’m puzzled as to how such a small and divided number of (American) churches are going to be our salvation? In the grand scope of things, we are very (mostly) spiritually immature in America, and our Orthodox brothers and sisters on the other side of the world look at us with curiosity. Until we can throw off the shackles of jurisdictional rivalry and weed out ecumenism and modernism, we’re not going to be anybody’s last hope. (Then again, that’s just my humble observation.)

      • Will Harrington says

        Why would you be puzzled? Hasn’t God given us enough examples of how he uses the small, weak, and insignificant to glorify Himself? As far as maturity, any local church is only as mature as its wisest living member so that argument always struck me as nothing more than an insulting way for Old world churches to hold onto their new world jurisdictions. But lets be real, American Orthodoxy is not Orthodoxy’s last, bent hope. Christ is.

      • Antiochene Son says

        I disagree with the tone of “American” but I will say that American Orthodoxy is the salvation of Americans, so we ought to man up. Whatever we think of the Mother Churches and their involvement here, they have planted it and it is up to us to make it grow—and that doesn’t mean begging the ethnic Orthodox to come to church once in awhile. It means doing actual evangelism.
        And as much as the conversion of the Hagia Sophia angers me, we should be more angry that modern Bolsheviks are burning churches to the ground and destroying statues of the Virgin Mary here in America, today.
        Byzantium is dead and gone. Throwing up a double-headed eagle flag may feel good, but it’s LARPing. There may be those who are in a position to restore that great temple, but that’s probably not anyone who is reading this post. Apart from divine intervention (which does not require our help), it will not come back.  We need to focus on what we are responsible for, saving what we have and those whom we can.

    • George Michalopulos says

      American, I truly would like –scratch that: love!–to see America become the “last, best hope for Orthodoxy” in the world.  But given the cultural rot and the demonic fury that has overtaken the Democrat Party, I’m not holding my breath.

  3. “The word ‘byzantine’ took its place in our vocabulary because it stood for semi-treachery and convoluted backstabbing.”

    It had more to do with the semi-barbarians of the Roman church, like the Normans, being frustrated by Greek statemanship in fending them off.  Anyway, the West wanted to come up with “something” new to call the Eastern Roman empire, just to avoid the embarrassment that the East continued another thousand years, while the West lapsed into barbarian kingdoms.   

    “American Orthodoxy, which is Orthodoxy’s last best hope–not Putin’s Russia or a building in Islamic Republics.”

    That type of thinking is why American Orthodoy isn’t even succeeding in reaching the fullness of the faith.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Have you ever been to Russia, Myst?

      The last time I was there, they were having a heat wave and George and I were standing in a very long line to venerate St. Matrona. It took 2 1/2 hours standing there in the sun. There was a young woman ahead of us in a headscarf and long skirt, who said she “often stopped by before going to work to venerate the Saint”. We then all took a cab to the 5 star hotel where she was a manager and she was transformed into any American young business woman.

      You would not see 30 something people in America standing outside in the hot sun for 2.5 hours before work to venerate a Saint.

      Russia has a cathedral everywhere you look and they are filled with people. What we have here is nothing remotely close to what they have there. American Orthodoxy is a toddler when compared to Russia.

      • Gail that’s exactly correct! Orthodox people in places like Russia, Serbia and Romania would think nothing of standing in line for hours to venerate a saint’s holy relics, while most Orthodox here in America get agitated when Sunday Divine Liturgy goes longer than the usual one hour and fifteen minutes. Heck, we get agitated if the priest’s sermon goes over 10 minutes. We Americans lack patience and spiritual maturity! I once visited a monastery in my area some years back and stayed for the all-night vigil; the service went on and on—and on. It lasted over 4 hours! I felt all proud of myself for having bravely endured the whole service. The Abbot soon deflated my pride by remarking that this was nothing compared to what our brothers and sisters endure in traditional Orthodox lands! That sure put things into perspective.

      • This was my experience in Romania as well. It was amazing to see a church on every corner and people coming and going at all hours of the day. I know a lot of places are trying their hardest here in the states, but, we just dont have the deep Orthodox history that those countries do and it sometimes feels like we are just LARPING. Having said that, Romania and Serbia were the same way when they were fist evangelized I’m guessing…we’re just 1,000 years behind 

  4. George Michalopulos says

    Here’s a secular take on the importance of Hagia Sophia not becoming a mosque:

  5. Vladyka Kirill and Putin are very close.  Erdogan must know this.  It is not only the Japanese who have the concept of “face”.  It exists in the Muslim world and certainly among the Slavs.  This is the gentlest nudge with room for Erdogan to save face and reconsider in the interests of international comity.  It’s public, but it is also plaintive, acknowledging that it is Erdogan’s decision to make.   I suspect Erdogan will reconsider.  Then again, the whole thing may be staged as drama at this level often is.  If that is so, it is a slap in the face of Bartholomew.  The implication being that the Mother Church is impotent and needs Kirill to intervene to save its own cathedral.
    We live in interesting times.
    PS: Kirill’s title is actually not “Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia”. That is a mistranslation of what is more subtle in the Russian language. Sometimes you may have heard it as “Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias”. That is a bit closer, but here’s the real deal: “Кирилл, Патриарх Московский и всея Руси.”
    Literally, this means “Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and of all the Rus'” “All the Rus” meaning Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine – the three Russias. Great Russia, White Russia (Belarus) and Little Russia (Malorossia – the Ukraine).

    Consider Bartholomew’s actions in Ukraine in that context.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I didn’t know that. Thanks, Misha.

    • Misha, what do you think the odds are that the ROC sets up parishes in Turkey? 

      • Petros,
        I want to wait and see how Erdogan reacts to the letter.  If he relents and Bartholomew does not back down in  the Ukraine, given that Moscow has already excommunicated Constantinople, I could see this getting very dicey.  George would know more about this than I, but Moscow might have a canonical argument to simply go in and reorganize the Constantinopolitan eparkhia.  All hell would break loose, but I could see it happening in the context of the recent synaxis.  Dhespota Bartholomew has messed with the wrong people.  I don’t know if you have seen footage of church seizures from the Ukraine.  But this could easily spiral.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          He was scheduled to visit America last month but declined. The reason given was COVID. He’s staying clear of American.

  6. George Michalopulos says

    Go to the last paragraph: it’s classic!

  7. Austin Martin says

    These people are all hypocrites (though less so in this letter). I guarantee you that if Hagia Sophia was being turned back into a church, none of these bishops would be talking about the “preservation of the current neutral status of Hagia Sophia”. There would be no sentiment about friendship between Greeks and Turks and our common human heritage.

    • Antiochene Son says

      There is no hypocrisy if you believe in true and false. Museum to Mosque is a false trajectory, Museum to Church is a true trajectory.
      We use the language that suits the need, because unlike American fake conservatives, the Russians understand that losing with principle is still losing.

  8. One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned yet from an evangelization perspective is the ability that the Russian Church has to actually do mission work in Turkey. The EP seems to have zero desire to do mission work among the Turks, and from what I understand he is in no position politically to do so. However, given that over 7 million Russians visited Turkey in 2019, and around 30,000 Russians actually live there (many married to Turkish people), this outnumbers those under the EP by about 27,000. Because of this, the Russian Church has the ability to do mission work among the Turks because they are not held captive to the same politics that the EP is. I could see Moscow setting up a Russian Vicariate in Turkey that ministers to the Russian residents and tourists and Putin has the political strong arm over Erdogan to do so. If the EP wants to play politics, he is in going to be playing connect 4 while Russia is playing 4D chess. Plus, this is the most likely way that Russia can take the helm of world Orthodoxy 
    Also of note, and I dont think many people know this, but, the Patriarch of Antioch covers the southeastern portion of Turkey centered around Antakya in Hatay Province.  As best as I can tell, this is where the majority of Eastern Orthodox in Turkey live. The EP isn’t even the EO majority in his own country 

    • Yes, Antakya, a diocese which has a real martyr-bishop that really walked the way of the Cross, unlike this pseudo-‘martyr’ with his gold cufflinks in Istanbul.

  9. What’s with this ridiculous letter on today where – once again – Metropolitan Tikhon simply gushes over how wonderful Patr Bartholomew is for the Orthodox faith and for the entire universe:

    “I also know that the work of the Great Church of Christ will continue in Constantinople to the glory of God no matter what happens to the Great Church of Hagia Sophia. And for you, Your All-Holiness, I remain concerned, because I perceive this action to strike at the heart of what you have labored for as the Ecumenical Patriarch: service, toleration, respect, religious freedom, and a yearning for peace and unity. Please be assured of my prayers for you and your unique ministry within world Orthodoxy.“

    Huh? On what planet has Patr B’s behavior over the past years demonstrated “a yearning for peace and unity” in our faith? By “creating” the fake Ukrainian church magically a couple of years ago? By sticking it to the saintly Met Onuphry? Because that forwarded Orthodox unity so much, now didn’t it?

    Who approves this garbage on the website? How does this drivel make it past the website editors? Isn’t there some wise matushka that tells him “this is how you ‘select all’ with the mouse” and then, “Now, delete this nonsense at once, Vladyka!” When Met. Ireney was unable to function in the mid-1970s, they discreetly let others run the show.

    Met. Tikhon seems to be going full “Joe Biden.” To be an Orthodox Metropolitan, do you have to take a course on how to write over-the-top emotionally gushy letters to each other that are full of B.S.?

    If this is how the OCA leadership really feels about the Patr of C’ple, please just go join the GOAA already and leave the rest of us Orthodox Americans alone, as we find a more loving church home.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I just shake my head sometimes.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Met. Tikhon’s simping is embarrassing, like a teenage crush. “It’s not going to make him like you.”

    • MomofToddler says

      I am so glad I left the OCA when I did!  This letter would have caused me so much stress.  I have no idea how people in the OCA deal with the cognitive dissonance, those that have the capacity to understand these matters at least.  This letter blatantly confirms my suspicions of the past few years.  Note that he ends the letter with “my brother and concelebrant”!   Does he really want to concelebrate with the overseer of a schismatic church?  Someone who helped cause the persecution of Orthodox Christians in Ukraine? It’s madness.  I also wish they would just go join the GOA already.  The longer they take to make this so obvious even the apathetic will notice, the more souls are being led astray.

    • I’m puzzled by things like this, too. Not sure if it’s because even though the OCA only recognizes the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine under Met. Onuphry, and insists on taking a ‘neutral’ stance of not getting involved, it also wants to show Constantinople some balancing act of love, or something. (Or they don’t want to alienate anyone.) Even if the person that they try not to alienate—Bartholomew—doesn’t really give a lick about them. And, you know something, we really shouldn’t give a lick about Bartholomew. I think it may be time to write my local bishop another letter. (I hope that he’s stocked up on aspirin.) 😉

    • “…toleration”? Of what?
      “…respect”? For whom?
      “…religious freedom”? For whom? Huitzilipochtli?
      “…yearning for peace and unity”? With whom?
      As the old saw goes. the Devil is in the detail…

    • Joseph Lipper says

      You have to keep in mind that Metropolitan Tikhon’s “concelebration” with Patriarch Bartholomew primarily highlights the OCA’s much vaunted autocephaly.   It’s basically a grand autocephaly statement.  The OCA can do this.  ROCOR can’t.  
      Yet the Russian Holy Synod completely tolerates this “concelebration”, not only by the OCA, but also by all the other autocephalous churches.  The caveat is as long as they don’t also “concelebrate” with the autocephalous Ukrainians, the OCU.   Everyone knows that Russia won’t tolerate that, and  it’s the reason that Russia has broken communion with the EP, and with the Churches of Alexandria and Greece.
      However, from the EP’s point of view, the OCA is not really autocephalous, but rather it’s just part of the Russian Church.  Most likely this is the primary reason why Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Elpidophoros have recently entertained the OCA so much.  The OCA is the EP’s living proof that the Russian Church has not fully severed communion with them.  In this way, Patriarch Bartholomew needs the OCA to remain “part of the Russian Church”, and also not to have any “recognized” autocephaly by him. It wouldn’t serve the EP well to change this.

      • That’s an interesting point, Joseph.  So you’re saying the OCA is playing the Phanar, and the Phanar is playing the OCA.  Both of them are seeking and (quite possibly even need) each other’s attentions to prove their separate agendas.  Yes, a merger will not happen under current circumstances.  A merger won’t help the OCA’s agenda, nor will it help the Phanar’s.

        • We in the OCA won’t let a ‘merger’ happen with the GOA/EPC! No way, no how! If a few goofy individual parishes want to go, then let them slip into oblivion.  

          • Johann Sebastian says

            We can’t allow it. To do so would be a slap in the face to our grandparents and great-grandparents who laid the foundation for what is now the core of the OCA–that is, the Carpatho-Russian diaspora.
            We are all too aware of Papist lies.

            • We won’t let it happen! I don’t have Carpathian roots in my bloodline (just Russian and Ukrainian), but I’ll be damned if I see a few fools sell us out to the EPC.

  10. Thank you for sharing this excellent article! If anyone is interested in learning more about Patriarch Kirill’s vision for the Church, you can read about it in SVS Press’s book, Patriarch Kirill In His Own Words. Available here:

  11. George Michalopulos says

    FWIW, I try to go to Taki’s Magazine every day to get jewels like this:

  12. George Michalopulos says

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Phanariotes gotta phanariote:

    It’s always inside baseball and intrigue with these guys. Never about being men and standing up for the faith.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Absolutely disgusting. You can taste the bile and the inferiority complex. This is like the EP version of Voices from Russia but turned up to 11.

      Constantinople and Russia both have rich histories to be proud of. But only one of them is relevant in 2020.
      Maybe it’s not as disgusting as it is sad. It’s like a senile old man marching around in the backyard, wearing his 50 year old military uniform, in his own mind reliving the battles of his youth.

      • Man… Voices From Russia. It’s been a while since anything has come from there. Anyone know what happened? The person behind that was an absolute train wreck.

        • Antiochene Son says

          The speculation I have heard about “Varvara” was that “she” died, or that “her” husband did. God have mercy. 

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Nicky, had cancer from what I heard.

            • Veronica says

              That person, Barbara-Marie Drezhlo, is still around, and quite active on Facebook. Has been the entire time since the last Voices from Russia blog post.

    • I think that this guy has demonstrated on a number of occasions that he is mentally unstable. His twitter feuds with reputable Orthodox clergy were simply an embarrassment to read.

    • They’re all a bunch of jokers.

    • LonelyDn says

      Psyop propaganda

      • George Michalopulos says

        I see where you’re going with this, LonelyDn, but you’re giving the Phanar too much credit. They just ain’t that sophisticated. It pains me to say this but in the grand scheme of things the Phanar is a collection of has-beens and never-weres.

        I will give Pat Bartholomew credit for playing the horrible hand his predecessors were dealt with as best he could but in the end, it was obvious to everybody that the Phanar is –on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being a non-entity to 10 being a major player–somewhere between one and two. Not entirely useless in the Great Geopolitical Game but mostly a wasting asset that could be used as a chit or a bargaining piece.

        Which of course makes all those Greek-American muckety-mucks look even more ridiculous with their vain titles.

    • While I am not in favor of intrigue of any kind on either side of the CP/MP controversy and am not at all suggesting that I hope this happens…
      What if Erdagon did, in fact, allow Russia to purchase these properties?  What if Bartholomew was somehow deprived of his “Constantinople” address and forced to leave the country?  What if Erdagon somehow managed to replace him with an Orthodox bishop of any non-Greek ancestry?
      Does anyone suppose that a single Phanariote or most of the Greek world would insist (as they do now) that whoever is bishop of the city of Constantinople enjoys the prerogatives they now claim for said bishop by virtue of the canons “which can never be altered”? Would they still affirm…

      “… the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “The ‘Great Church of Christ’ is the touchstone and reference point for ecclesiastical affairs in the East, whether in terms of church government, relations with the state, or liturgical matters. ” …The Great Church, the Great Nation of Christians, The Ecumenical Patriarchate.”  ??
      Or what if no one was installed in Bartholomew’s place, but he was forced to vacate the city?  Does anyone suppose that a single Phanariote or most of the Greek world would insist (as they do now) that only he who is in residence as the bishop of that particular city holds preeminent status and great prerogatives as the “Ecumenical Patriarch” and “Mother Church” because…well, you know… that is (according to them) what the canons “that can never be changed” insist upon? 
      Would they continue to encourage us to…
      “…not lose sight of the basic value of the land on which the house sits. The sacrificial Phanar “the Sacred Center, our Ecumenical Patriarchate, is at the heart of Orthodoxy, is the spiritual womb of our Genos.” ??
      I am neither wanting nor hoping for any of this.  I am simply, as they say, just sayin’.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Brian, the idea is not so far off.  Whether the Phanar is sold to Russia by Turkey, or the Phanar is invaded and destroyed by Russia (as some prophecies suggest), what happens when Russia gains control and/or “ecclesial privilege” over the city?  Does that rightfully make the Patriarch of Russia the new EP? 

        Perhaps the question is whether or not the other autocephalous churches would accept this.  My guess is that they wouldn’t.

        • “Does that rightfully make the Patriarch of Russia the new EP?”

          There is no such thing as an ‘Ecumenical Patriarch’ in the canonical tradition. There is only a first among equals with real (but very limited) prerogatives that our fathers granted first to the Patriarch of Rome and later to the Patriarch of Constantinople by virtue of its being the preeminent city of the Christian empire.

          The Patriarch of Russia is just that: he is the Patriarch of Russia. So no, the autocephalous churches likely wouldn’t – and perhaps shouldn’t – immediately accept the Patriarch of Russia for this role apart from an ecumenical council, though (subject to reasonable argument, I agree) no other patriarchate is in a better position to qualify for the role in terms of the reasons our fathers stated for bestowing it in the first place.

          But that wasn’t the question I asked; was it? The question I asked was whether the Phanariotes or the Greek world in general would hold so steadfastly to their strict, legalistic canonical arguments if either a non-Greek was installed as Patriarch of Constantinople or there was no bishop at all in residence in the city that was once Constantinople. In the former case, if they are to be consistent, they would accept the new patriarch and acknowledge his role. In the later case, if they are to remain consistent, the ‘Ecumenical Patriarchate’ (as they insist upon calling it) would cease to be.

          Something tells me they would suddenly find it within themselves to discover an up to-that-point non-existent and previously ‘unthinkable’ sense of economy and flexibility in their interpretation of the canonical tradition.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            There is no longer a need for an ecumenical patriarchate. At this point, it has become a serious liability. We need bishops with concrete boundaries. Having a bishop who believes he has authority outside his own patriarchate has proven to be absolutely disastrous for the Church.

            • EP is not only liability, he is destroying those bounders and in this way Orthodox Church. Boundaries exist in Orthodox Church and EP is just another Bishop who has full control over his lay-people, priests, deacons, Liturgy. This is why papism is heresy. But some of the Bishops in US are completely lost, don’t know what they are doing and what they are supposed to do. Patriarch Bartholomew has no right to interfere how his brethren serves liturgy in Turkey or Greece, US, Canada. EP writes some ridiculous letters about communion and sends them around the world, but in real autocephalous Churches no one takes them seriously, only here and then impose this heresy on us. But this is all done in purpose by EP, now are other Bishops doing this in purpose or only some of them is hard to say and is not even important. We see in Toronto Greek people start complaining but its hard to change things that clergy, especially Bishops impose. It was not people but Bishop Mark of Ephesus who stopped what is actually happening again. There is a saying: no raskol without phelonion.

            • Amen to that.
              Having none is infinitely better than having the Church’s mission held captive to the mercurial interests of any government (Turkish, Russian, European, United States…).
              The entire concept of an ‘Ecumenical Patriarchate’ (indelibly imprinted upon the Greek psyche though it is) is ironically the creation of those who have long been known as their oppressors – the Ottoman Turks who were (and remain) more than happy to manipulate the entire Christian populous through one man by exploiting their nostalgia and ingrained ‘canonical’ inflexibility.
              The Church ought not remain nor ever again put herself in a position to be the pawn of any government.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              Gail, how would an Ecumenical Council be called without an Emperor or Ecumenical Patriarch?  If just any bishop is given the right to call a council , then the conciliar process collapses and gives rise to factionalism.  That was the danger of the “fraternal gathering” in Jerusalem this past year.  Some bishops were in support of it, and others denounced it as factionalism.

              In the scenario where Russia gains control over Constantinople, can the Patriarch of Russia then proclaim himself the defacto Patriarch of Constantinople and call a council for the whole Orthodox Church? I think we’re all in agreement here that there’s still issues that need to be addressed in Church-wide council. Perhaps issues addressed might include the limitations of primates, and also the possibility of a non-Greek “first among equals”.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Maybe, just maybe, if the Local Churches wanted to have a Council, they would be able to call one themselves! The first Council was called by Saint James, the Bishop Jerusalem.

                The Council Jerusalem, is also an example.

                Then in 2017, Putin called one for the 100 anniversary of the reestablishment of the Patriarchate of Moscow.

                It’s just calling a meeting, Joseph.

                • Joseph Lipper says

                  Gail, let’s suppose the throne of the Ecumenical Patriarch has been vacated, and all the other Orthodox bishops miraculously agree to meet around a campfire and sing kumbaya.

                   Would Metropolitan Epiphany be welcome?  What about the Patriarch of Alexandria and the Archbishop of Athens?  Well, why not?  It would just be a harmless campfire meeting with ‘smores and campfire songs.  

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Why would it be miraculous for the Orthodox bishops to agree on the need for a Council? What do you think happened before Bartholomew went into Ukraine? Was it “miraculous” that they all called for a Council then? And what about the council Putin call in Russia in 2017. They were all there, minus Bartholomew.

                    It’s almost as if you think Bartholomew is the only bishop with the wherewithal to know when a Council is needed, the one area where he consistently makes the wrong call. 2/3s of the bishops did not agree with his decision to move forward with the Great and Holy Council in Crete. The entire Church did not agree to NOT have a Council before he went into Ukraine, including some of his own metropolitans.

                    It is Bartholomew who is consistently the odd man out in this regard. The other bishops have no problem meeting or knowing when to meet. Right?

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Gail, would Metropolitan Epiphany, and the Patriarch of Alexandria, and the Archbishop of Athens all be welcomed at such a council?  That would be miraculous. And if the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem both came, that would be miraculous also. 

                      The problem of factionalism isn’t solved simply by taking the Ecumenical Patriarchate out of the equation. We already saw this at the “fraternal gathering” in Jerusalem.  It didn’t resolve the dispute in Ukraine, and it didn’t resolve the dispute between Antioch and Jerusalem.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Epiphany is not Orthodox so of course he would not be welcomed at any Council. Did you miss the fact that none of the Local Churches were at his “enthronement”?

                      I guess the miraculous has happened, because the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem have met.


                      I can’t see where anything could be worse than a schism. The OCU as no hope of being embraced by the greater part of the church. They still act like the schismatics that they are. Bartholomew could have, at least, insisted they be ordained.

                      Nothing is worse than a bishop who has no appreciation for boundaries.

              • The Church existed pre-Christian Roman Empire, and of course she  still exists post-Christian Roman Empire. She is not dependent on a non-existent Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”) Emperor to call a council. 

                The centrality of the Patr of C’ple has not existed for more than 500 years now. The only reason we “thought” that the Patr of C’ple had been über-relevant in the 20th century is because it was elevated to that level in our minds by the work of influential Greek-westerners and by Western politicians eager to honor an Orthodox center that wasn’t under communist captivity. All those reasons are now gone. 

                We’ve now returned to largely how the Orthodox world looked in the late 1800s. If there were mass communication or internet back then, by far most of the world would look to Russia as the de facto spokesperson for the Orthodox world, as she comprised then (and still comprises today) well more than 70% of the world’s Orthodox Christians. 

                God will not grant us a Church Council until we can get past our ethnic rivalries and join first as Christians and only second as whatever nation-state we represent. As long as Greeks refuse a council unless they’re in control (à la Crete 2016) or Russians or Romanians or whomever refuse because they believe the same way, no further legitimate church council will happen.

                We are the body of Christ first and foremost and need to act like it. 

                Sadly, C’ple is now experiencing how little the West cares for it when it can’t use it for anything. The secular West doesn’t give two licks about any cathedral, let alone Αγία Σοφία. It’s high time the Patr of C’ple leaves that city, as it hasn’t been Orthodox for centuries. With no more use to the West now since a counter to Soviet Moscow is no longer needed, the West leaves C’ple high and dry. 

                Greek Constantinople is very analogous to Serbian Kosovo — very meaningful to those of that heritage and to some academics, but modern secular sensibilities and international politics don’t give two hoots about it.  As quick as the international community threw Serbian Kosovo under the bus a few decades ago is how fast they now throw Greek Constantinople under the bus.

                Not saying that I agree with this, but Greek C’ple is like today’s Jewish woman: yeah there’s still some compassion for your plight, but you’ve been surpassed by the half-Native-American-lesbian-transgendered.  You’re now far lower on the cultural compassion hierarchy. Sorry. 

          • Johann Sebastian says

            Would it be uncanonical for a synod to be convened whereby a new Patriarch is elected by consensus of the other autocephalous Churches?
            The EP needs to be Orthodox. This one is showing that he really isn’t.

          • Brian and Gail, well said.
            BTW the famous Rule 28 (4th Ec. Synod) says:
            “….this is in keeping with the fact that the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital. And motivated by the same object and aim the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate….”

            and the interpretation by St Nicodeme in the “Rudder”:

            “….the Bishop of Constantinople ought to receive privileges of authority because various Patriarchs and Prelates used to come to the Emperor to beg for his help in their exigencies, and it was necessary for them first to meet the Bishop of Constantinople, in whom they found a man to cooperate with them and to lend them assistance, and through him they were enabled to approach the Emperor, just as, in confirmation of the ancient custom, Justinian prescribed this….”

            Present-day Constantinople (Istanbul) can not provide the above function of Rule 28. She has no Emperor (Head of State) and no Senate.
            Simply coordinating (Arch)Bishops, in the spirit of Rule 28, can be the Arch-bishops of Capitals, like Moscow, Washington, London, Athens etc. 

        • Joseph,___”Does that rightfully make the Patriarch of Russia the new EP?”
          Please read my reply to Brian/Gail below and the quotation from Canon 28.
          Q. Why do you think that (based on Canon 28) Bartholomew can still function as EP and not Kyrill? 
          Is Cple a Capital with head of State and senate, but not Moscow????

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Ioannis, as we’ve discussed before, it’s a matter of accepted tradition that the Patriarch of Constantinople has primacy over the Ecumene, even without the visible presence of the Emperor.
            However, there are many people, even saints, who believe that the Emperor is still alive and well in Constantinople, but that he is simply hidden away and asleep for centuries (like the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus.)  If this is true, then perhaps the relevance of having an Emperor for Canon 28 never actually went away.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              The ecumnical C-I-T-Y (Constantinople, the Imperial Capital, which no longer exists), Joseph, not the world!

              What Saint is saying this?

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Gail, in an Ecumenical Council, the Archbishop of Constantinople has primacy as Ecumenical Patriarch over the other attending bishops of the Ecumene.  This is accepted tradition.  Outside of an Ecumenical Council, that primacy is much more limited.

                • Joseph,___Gail, in an Ecumenical Council, the Archbishop of Constantinople has primacy as Ecumenical Patriarch over the other attending bishops of the Ecumene.”
                  Joseph, where did you read that, could you please provide a link? 

            • Joseph,___”Ioannis, as we’ve discussed before, it’s a matter of accepted tradition that the Patriarch of Constantinople has primacy over the Ecumene, even without the visible presence of the Emperor.”

              Now, brother Joseph,
              Where did you read THAT?

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Ioannis, the evidence is that when serving with any other Orthodox bishop, the Archbishop of Constantinople, wherever he is invited, always has primacy. It’s not jurisdictional authority over the Ecumene, but it is primacy.

                • Joseph,
                  Why then do the Orthodox present the Primacy of the Pope as one of the obstacles for uniting, and say that no Orthodox Bishop has primacy but are all equal?

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    It’s papal supremacy that seems to be an obstacle, not primacy.   The Pope of Rome’s primacy is accepted and referenced in the church canons.  So there was always a proper usage and understanding of primacy within the Orthodox Church. 
                    Every autocephalous Orthodox church has a Primate.  Russia has one, Greece has one, etc.  The Primate of every local church has special privileges that make him “first without equal” among it’s bishops.  Those unique privileges include the calling of local councils and presiding over them, the privilege of representing and speaking on behalf of that local church, the privilege of holding a supreme ecclesial court within that church, and the privilege of having inter-Orthodox relations with other Primates of autocephalous churches.  However, when the Primate votes in a local council, he is a “first among equals”, having one vote just like the other local bishops.  He also doesn’t have jurisdictional authority them.  He can’t visit other diocese without invitation.  The concept of primacy has these accepted and traditional boundaries within the local churches.
                    The Ecumenical Patriarch’s primacy mirrors that of any other autocephalous Orthodox church, except that his primacy is not only local.  His primacy also represents a church of all the churches.  It is this unique position that makes him “first without equal” among the other Primates.  Yet, he is still “first among equals” when they vote in council, and he doesn’t have jurisdictional authority over them, and he can’t visit the other churches without invitation. He doesn’t have papal supremacy.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Some autocephalous Orthodox churches have primates. Some are led by metropolitans or archbishops, although they have the same administrative role as a patriarch. In the Orthodox Church in America supreme administrative power is given to the All-American Council, according to His Grace Hilarion (Alfeyev), Bishop of Vienna and Austria. He also says, “Although the rights and duties of the primate vary in different Local Churches, there is not a single Local Church that accords him supreme authority, for it is the council that has always been the final authority.”

                      Quite frankly, in the Church no one can say he is first without equal. No one is even whole (let alone first), without the rest of the moving parts.

                      Within the Body of Christ, there is but one who is first without equal and that is Christ. Bartholomew, on a good day, which he doesn’t have too often, functions as a fraternal facilitator. He shouldn’t be talking about being “first” of anything.

                      If you’re in touch with him, remind him that the true first without equal says this: “You must not behave like that. Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. Whoever wants to be important must be a slave of all.”

                      If he were to start talking like that, people would listen. He needs to tell the world that he is but a servant to his brother bishops and that he enjoys no special status among them, other than as a slave to their concerns and needs.

                      And he needs to shout this from the rooftops in a way that makes it sound like the most important job in the Church! If he starts talking like this, I guarantee people will listen.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Joseph, How many primates can dance on a head of a pin without it becoming a WWE match?  
                      I was taught coming into the Church and in what I read at the time that “all bishops are equal”.  Unfortunately my life in the Church has taught me that some bishops are more equal than others.  
                      Gail is right!  

                    • Well said, Gail! 

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Michael Bauman, yes it’s true that all bishops are equal, but what does that mean?  We can see there’s a difference between ruling and non-ruling “auxilary” bishops.  There’s bishops who have a cathedral, and those who don’t.  There’s also a hierarchy of:  bishops, metropolitans, archbishops, patriarchs.  Most of that hierarchy is just honorary, but not completely.  The Primate of an autocephalous church has responsibilities and privileges that the other bishops don’t have.   Yet in a council, all bishops in attendance have equal vote.  

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      These are administrative roles, Joseph. They are not roles that make one more or less “important.” No one in the Orthodox Church is “without equal” because we are all part of the same living, breathing organism, that is the sum total of all it’s parts.

                      Would you say a prominent theologian is less important than a patriarch? No. Would you say a monastery is less important than a parish? No. There are many parts of the Body of Christ and not one of them is more or less important than another.

                      In 1 Corinthians 1-10, Saint Paul admonished the Corinthians saying, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

                      He goes on to say, “11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

                      To say, Bartholomew is the “first without equal” is the same thing as a Corinthian saying, “I follow Paul” or “I follow Apollos” or “I follow Cephas,” or even “I follow Christ,” as if another does not. To suggest that anyone within the Body is somehow more worthy, more important, more entitled, and generally greater in importance than any other is frankly blasphemous.

                      The way Bartholomew operates in the world, going where he pleases and doing as he pleases, believing he is “first without equal”, is causing HUGE divisions among us. As we struggle to be united in mind and thought to combat the evil in this world, we have a persistent nat buzzing around our heads insisting he is more important than anyone or anything, putting his own agenda, i.e. the environment, inclusiveness, power, speaking for all Orthodox in the world, etc. before even Christ crucified.

                      When was the last time you heard this man speaking only about Christ? GOOGLE this: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Christ Crucified and see what comes up. The first thing you’ll see? “Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leader of the 300 million-member Orthodox Christian Church, feels ‘crucified’ living in Turkey under a government he says would like to see his nearly 2,000-year-old Patriarchate die out.” Yes, folks, it’s all about him.

                      The whole idea of a “first without equal” is abhorrent to an Orthodox Christian, which is the major reason Bartholomew has become so hugely unpopular. That, and everything that comes from that. No one would care if he sat on his ecumenical throne and organized Councils when called upon by his brother bishops or addressed issues brought to him for arbitration were two parties to agree and who would have a problem with a bishop speaking for us in those cases where we are indisputably of like mind? Things like the tenets of our Faith; that which matters to the Church.

                      Unfortunately, Bartholomew is inept in this regard, preferring instead to talk about what matters to him, e.g. the environment, reconciliation with Rome, the plight of schematics, to name a few. He even chooses to talk about racism and fundamentalism, criticisms he launches against other Orthodox Christians who are a little too traditional for his liking, but people he has no compunction against using when he says he speaks for the entire Orthodox world!

                      I pray, seriously pray, that God will intervene and permanently remove the ecumenical patriarchate from Constantinople. No bishop should occupy this position. 99% of the men who, by the luck of the draw, might find themselves in the position of Bartholomew would probably do just fine, but after Bartholomew’s antics, it is simply too much of a risk to have some small minded, little dictator, educated by the Jesuits and fed a bunch of garbage by his academic handlers, find himself sitting on that tiny little throne, thinking he has more power than Christ Himself.

                      Bishops lacking in humility are like black widow spiders: the kiss of death for their bridegroom. We do not need a patriarchate that ends up with another “Bartholomew” who, rather than exercises restraint with respect to his exalted status as the “first among equals”, lets it go to his head, taking it to mean he is without equal and can do as he damn well pleases.

                      If we wanted a pope, we would go under Pope Francis.

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Gail, every autocephalous church has a Primate.  This is not about the “supreme authority” within a church.  After Christ, we could probably say that the “supreme authority” of any church is it’s national government.  It’s the government’s privilege to arrest us all and lock us up!
                       The OCA is structured somewhat differently perhaps than others, but it still has a Primate who functions much the same way as any Primate does.   As a Primate, Metropolitan Tikhon has much the same primatial responsibilities and privileges as Patriarch Kyrill.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Joseph, a primate is a primate. A metropolitan who operates as a primate is a metropolitan who operates as a primate. “Much the same” is not “the same” and where Patriarch Kirill is recognized as a patriarch throughout the Orthodox world, the same is not true for Metropolitan Tikhon.

                      Do you or I think he should be? Doesn’t matter. It is what it is.

                      I can tell you, I do not think Metropolitan Tikhon acts like a patriarch nor do I think the OCA had this in mind when he was installed.

                    • However, when the Primate[s] vote in a… council, he is a “first among equals”, having one vote just like the other local bishops. 
                      Of course, this assumes that they are allowed to gather and that there is, in fact, a vote on matters concerning the Church catholic.  Bartholomew refused to fulfill this responsibility.  He both refused and continues to refuse to call a council or attend any meeting on the Ukrainian matter in spite of multiple pleas from most of the churches.  Strike 1
                      He also doesn’t have jurisdictional authority them. 
                      And yet Bartholomew continuously claims that he does by insisting (among many other things) that only his office has the “competency” to decide such matters despite the fact that well over 2/3 of the Church opposes his decision.  Strike 2
                      He can’t visit other diocese without invitation.  Bartholomew (or at least his direct representatives [who themselves also violated this rule in his name]) both visited and divided the Ukrainian Church at the invitation of neither its Patriarch nor its Metropolitan nor any of its bishops (Did the former president of the Ukraine hold any of these offices?).  Strike 3.
                      You are largely correct, Joseph, that…  The concept of primacy has these accepted and traditional boundaries within the local churches.  Thank you for reminding us of his gross violations of the duties and limitations of his office .

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Gail, I’m glad you brought this up.  The problem of factionalism (people saying “I follow Archbishop Alexander” or “I follow Archbishop Benjamin” or “I follow Archbishop Paul”) is exactly countered by having a Primate.  For example, it is precisely because of the OCA’s Metropolitan Tikhon that people can say “I’m an Orthodox Christian, in the OCA, and my bishop is Archbishop [fill in the blank].”
                      Imagine what would happen though if the OCA didn’t have a Primate.  Could the OCA’s Holy Synod exist?  Perhaps they could trade off and delegate the different primatial duties amongst themselves, right?  One bishop could preside over meetings.  One bishop could act as liaison to other Orthodox churches.  One bishop could be the voice of the Holy Synod, etc.   And they could all take turns.
                      Well, what if they don’t all agree with each other?  Then the result would be an emerging factionalism, and then the OCA would possibly cease to exist.  This is not even to mention that Russia would never recognize an OCA without a Primate, or at least a locum tenens.  
                      If we can see the importance of primacy in a small local church like the OCA, then how much greater is the importance of primacy on a global scale of world-wide Orthodoxy?  The danger of factionalism between the different autocephalous churches has to be countered somehow. 

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      You’re welcome, I guess, but I didn’t bring up anything that pertains to what you just said. My point was that there is no first without equal in the Church. You seem to have taken my point and buried it in another discussion about the efficiencies of having a primate.

                      Efficiencies only go so far in the governance of a Church who decided way back when that taking a concilier approach was far more important: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us . . .”

                      It has been my observation that when it comes to the OCA, the Holy Synod does not always agree (or even usually agree) on joint matters, but the Metropolitan Council, their attorneys and their advisors help them sort it all out when it comes to reaching a decision. As far as I know, Metropolitan Tikhon operates as a member of the Holy Synod. He does not operate in the capacity of a primate insofar as making unilateral decisions. The Holy Synod does not like their metropolitans making decisions without them, which is why Metropolitan Jonah was not so well received. He was too independent.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Joseph, respectfully, the Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus, AD 431) was not called by the Ecumenical Patriarch, mainly because it was he who was being put on trial.

                  While I grant you that it was called by Emperor Theodosius II, the idea of kings or emperors (who represented the laity) could call a council in the first place was highly problematic. It was in fact, controversial. Constantine’s presence at the First Ecumenical Council was not appreciated by a lot of the churchmen (even though he was called to intervene in the Traditorian/Donatist controversy ten years earlier by many North African churchmen themselves.)

                  Realistically, the only reason for imperial patronage is that somebody had to foot the bill for the gathering of churchmen who don’t have any independent wealth themselves.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    George, it’s a good point.  The primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarch has never implied doctrinal infallibility.  It would be impossible to suggest otherwise because of those like Nestorius who were condemned as heretics.  It’s one of the reasons why the EP is not a papalist primacy like Rome’s.

                    Likewise, the Emperors often made life difficult for the Church. The persecutions of Leo III come to mind. In some ways the current EP has more freedom to serve the church than some of his predecessors who served Imperial Rome.

            • Joseph,___”….that the Emperor is still alive and well in Constantinople, but that he is simply hidden away and asleep for centuries ….  If this is true, then perhaps the relevance of having an Emperor for Canon 28 never actually went away.”
              Canon 28 and the interpretation of St.Nicodeme, refer to an Emperor (we now say genericly head of State) who is there, and who (not asleep!) can receive the visits of  remote Bishops and help in their exigencies.
              Canon 28 describes actual function not folklore, or a tradition like the title All-Most-Holy (two superlatives above Holy God, right?) which was pronounced by one bishop and subsequently “grabbed” by Phanar (Phanarion=Little Lamp) .

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Ioannis, where does St. Nicodemus say anything about the Emperor needing to be awake?  Does canon 28 only apply when the Emperor is awake?

                • Really Joseph, is this a time for jokes?

                • But, seriously Joseph,
                  this is a novelty you are saying,
                  that the word “Emperor” in Canon 28 also means somebody who is asleep for centuries, and not the actual Head of  State.
                  Such novelties are “normally” pronounced by Bartholomew and recently Elp.
                  Joseph, have you received permission from B. or even E. to say such novelties yourself?

                • “where does St. Nicodemus say anything about the Emperor needing to be awake? Does canon 28 only apply when the Emperor is awake?”

                  This sounds like an Orthodox parody of Shia Islam with the hidden twelfth imam (Mahdi). 

            • Joseph: “…the Patriarch of Constantinople has primacy
              over the Ecumene,”
              Peter: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons”
              [Acts 10:34 – KJV].

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Yes, but since we’re not God, it’s better to be humble.  As St. Paul says, “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”

                • And where is the humility in the claim of:
                  “First without Equals”?

                  • Indeed!

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    Brendan, if this title is given, then it could be possible to have the great humility to accept the burden of it. 
                    By the way, I don’t believe Patriarch Bartholomew refers to himself as “first without equals.” Rather, this was just an academic point that Archbishop Elpidophoros was making about the nature of primacy in a paper he wrote.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Joseph, please don’t make me go to the trouble of pulling everything he said in relationship to Ukraine that explains why he could do what any other bishop could not, i.e. carve out a section of another bishop’s territory granting them autocephalous status, and installing a second metropolitan who happened to be ordained by a deflocked, schismatic bishop who never repented. All this by virtue of his status as the ecumenical patriarch, even though none of the local Church supported his actions save one, his own.

                      His actions prove he believes and operates under the premise that he is first without equal.

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      It was a decision of the Holy Synod to go into Ukraine, so it wasn’t a unilateral decision by the Patriarch of Constantinople. 

                    • Bartholomew could have rejected the title – but he didn’t. He could have corrected Mark Antony (sorry: Elpidophoros) – but he didn’t.

                      As for having ‘…the great humility to accept the burden of it’, Augustus had the great humility to reject the titles of Rex and Dictator in favour of the more modest Princeps Civitatis (First Citizen), while making clear in his Res Gestae Divi Augusti (Deeds of the Divine Augustus) that the Princeps held the Auctoritas (Supreme Moral Authority) to go with the Potestas et Imperium (Supreme Civil and Military Power) which he indubitably held.
                      Auctoritas is, of course, the quality invoked by Innocent III to justify his claim of absolute authority for the office of Pope (in whatever realms he could make it stick) – eventually including Constantinople.
                      No. The temptation inherent in the title is too great for any man.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Joseph, while technically correct, that “the Holy Synod” of Cpole voted for this illegal and egregious incursion into Ukraine, we all know that said “Holy Synod” is a rubber stamp.

                    • That a LOCAL synod of the CP voted on it  (rubber stamp or not) justifies nothing, as this was not a matter concerning the local synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate. 
                      Whatever their faults, their local synod has the right to vote on matters of internal concern to their own patriarchate.  They do not have the right to vote upon matters that concern other churches unless expressly asked to do so.
                      A reply will doubtless follow that argues that they were asked – by the president of the Ukraine and by Philaret.  But, of course, the former was neither a bishop nor even a clergyman, and the latter is an excommunicated schismatic scoundrel whose laicization and excommunication were formally acknowledged by said patriarchate. 
                      Now they could have voted not to acknowledge the MP’s synodical decisions concerning Philaret at the time of these decisions.  That would have been their right.  They could have chosen at the time of his removal from office to hear his appeal.  It would have been just as foolish and divisive, but they were free nevertheless to exercise this right granted to the Patriarch of Constantinople under the canons.  But they didn’t.  Once they acknowledged his removal from office, his subsequent laicization, and finally his excommunication from the Church, they forfeited any possibility of hearing any appeal short of his repentance and possible restoration as a layman.

    • “The Great Church of Christ is not a building, it is the Ecumenical Patriarchate. ‘The “Great Church of Christ” is the touchstone and reference point for ecclesiastical affairs in the East, whether in terms of church government, relations with the state, or liturgical matters.’

      “From the second century Irenaeus who first referenced to the ‘Great Church’ (ecclesia magna).”

      Yes, the “Great Church” isn’t the Holy, Apostolic and Catholic Church as a whole, but the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and Irenaeus was a prophet foretelling the rise of the “First Without Equals” whose current goals includes leading Orthodoxy into submission to Rome, which would ultimately result in the EP being just another bishop, although with some lofty but obsolete titles.

  13. Johann Sebastian says

    “Hagia Sophia is a symbol and we, like all Muslims, wanted it opened as a mosque…When Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror came to Istanbul he bought Hagia Sophia with his own money as a symbol of the conquest, endowed it and wanted it to be a mosque.”

    I heard nothing of this “legend” before a couple of weeks ago. I suppose he “bought” Hagia Sophia like the Jews “bought” land from the Palestinians?

    This silliness has to be challenged. Soon it’ll be accepted as historical fact. Our hierarchs need to have more fire–more salt–in their words.

  14. Johann Sebastian says

    On second thought, with modern-day characters like Bartholomew and Meletios, it might not be too much of a stretch to imagine that there was an unknown-to-us character roaming the streets of Constantinople during the summer of 1453 with a “cathedral to sell.”

  15. Johann Sebastian says
    Even though I may be in the “multiple spoon” camp, I must say that GOARCH isn’t Orthodox.

    • So… the revival of Orthodoxy in Russia is bad? Because “muh pluralism”?
      Take a good look at GOARCH – or American Orthodoxy in general (with certain exceptions) – if you want to see the fruits of a religiously pluralistic society. No thanks.

  16. Johann, please remember that the Ephrem monasteries are under the GOA as was Ephrem himself. I guess Ephrem wasn’t Ortodoxy.

    • Those monasteries are in the GOARCH, but not of it. They are a fruitful vine, planted here from Mount Athos.

    • Johann Sebastian says

      Why do they give airtime to that garbage that unabashedly criticizes Orthodoxy on their website? They are not Orthodox. Unless someone in the Archdiocese speaks up and denounces that madness, they are nothing more than idol-worshippers that play dress-up, recite incantations, and perform magic tricks. One spoon, a dozen, or none—it won’t matter.
      They hide the Light; they blow it out with their double-talk.

  17. Basil, an incredibly interesting interpretation of a situation which does not fit your ecclesiastical paradigm. The Ephrem monasteries are under GOA bishops, like it or not. They are not independent Orthodox, as you suggest. They have no existence outside the GOA.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I think you’re mistaken JK. If Ephraim monasteries were under the GOA bishops, they would have floundered, not flourished, AND they would have followed Bartholomew’s orders that no pilgrims would be able to visit them during Holy Week. What appears to man to be true is often not the case with God. You’re looking through the wrong lenses.

      • Gail, it would be great to have this clarified by  someone from an EE monastery.  My understanding is that the monasteries ARE each under the authority of the individual Metropolitan who is free by economia to allow certain practices in parishes and monasteries which might be forbidden elsewhere.  Permission and a blessing seem to be required from the Metropolitan for certain activities.  And on the San Francisco Metropolis website the monasteries are listed by name under heading “Metropolis Monasteries.”   

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Technically, they are, Nicole. In practice, they are not which frustrates the GOA to no end.

          • Yes, Gail ~ I think anyone who has been to these monasteries (and found the peace of Christ within)  trusts these monks and sisters to honor the Faith in practice in humility and without fuss while being respectful and loving toward those with whom they may disagree.  

      • Gail, why do bishops liturgize in the monasteries? Why are they commemorated during liturgies. It seems to me that you are playing ecclesiological games and that you believe the monasteries feign allegiance to the GOA. I guarantee you the monasteries will never join ROCOR; they are GREEK monasteries. In fact, they are more ethnic than the GOA. There is more of a chance they join some Greek non- canonical group than ROCOR.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          JK, I am not the one pretending to be Orthodox so please don’t accuse me of playing ecclesiological games. I never said the monasteries “feigned” anything. I said, in practice, they operate independently of the GOA. Do not put words in my mouth.

          I did not say the monasteries would join ROCOR. I never mentioned ROCOR!

          The Greeks who support the monasteries do so because they would rather support the monasteries than the GOA. It’s really that simple.

          Finally, no one said anything about anyone being more ethic. You’re throwing all kinds of stuff in here that has nothing to do with anything.

          • Gail, I am a Christian Orthodox in the GOA, not a pretender as you suggest. It is my firm conviction that the majority of posters on this site can not reconcile the fact that the Ephrem monasteries are part of the GOA because of their attitudes about the GOA. Thus, you get this disconnect between reality and the actual connection between the GOA and the monasteries. Please let me know why GOA bishops liturgize and are commemerated at the monasteries. I say the monasteries are either part of a the GOA or feign allegiance to it.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              JK, I never said you were a “pretender” but based on things I recall you saying years ago about your status, I did not think you were Orthodox. Perhaps you were, then were not and now are again. In any case, I’m glad you are now. It is bothersome when people who are not Orthodox, tell people who are Orthodox, that they are “ecclesiastically incorrect” about something to do with the Church.

              It is certainly possible that many of the posters on this site do not understand the relationship of the monasteries to the GOA and it’s not hard to understand why. Although the monasteries are under the Greek Orthodox Metropolis where they reside, they operate very independently, much to the consternation of the GOA leadership. I provided evidence of this. That is why I said technically they are under the GOA, even though in practice they operate differently.

              Are you really asking me “why GOA bishops liturgize and are commemerated at the monasteries”? Presumably because they are part of the Greek Church! What other answer could there be? No one is suggesting they are feigning a relationship with the GOA.

              If a woman gives birth to a child and gives it up for adoption, is she the “mother?” Well, yes, but no. If an Orthodox couple chooses to be married at the courthouse instead of in the Church, are they married? Under the State, yes. In the Church, no. (In some jurisdictions, going outside the Church would put them outside the Church altogether.) Do I live in Oklahoma or on a Native American reservation? To the State, I’m an Okie. To the the Supreme Court, I’m an Okie from Muskogee!

              Relationships are not always linear. They can be fluid and hard to understand. The monasteries are modeled after the monasteries on Mt. Athos. They have very little in common with the secular parishes in this country.

              I am not trying to pick a fight with you! I was just making an observation.

              • Gail, I have never suggested that I am not Orthodox nor have I questioned my status in the church. I hold many positions contrary to you and many of the posters on this blog, thus some may dismiss me as Orthodox, which does not bother me. I also hold some political views which are different from your posters but choose to not enter into the arena of politics.
                I believe that the monasteries are different from the secular GOA yet are part of it. The monasteries would not exist apart from the GOA.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  JK, are you not the person who said you served as a Greek priest for many years and then left the priesthood? This was a while ago. I really do have a memory for this sort of thing. If I have you confused you with someone else with the same moniker, please let me know. The last I heard, you (now I’m thinking it wasn’t you) became a Protestant or an Evangelical or something and later became Catholic, which doesn’t line up with what you’re saying here at all.

                  Another individual may have been pretending to be you and supplied false information. George and I will go back and look at the IP addresses. We don’t care if people choose not to use their name, but we do want what’s being said here to be true. We don’t knowingly allow outside comments to go through with false information. It’s one thing to use an anonymous moniker but another to fabricate one’s background to appear as a subject matter if you’re not. (Not that any of this requires a subject matter expert, as it’s pretty straightforward.)

                  I am relieved to know you, JK, are Orthodox, as I said before. As an Orthodox, of course you wouldn’t be questing your status in the Church! I didn’t mean to imply that you should. I’m sure I speak for the other commentators on the blog who have also responded to you: we did not mean to get off on the wrong foot. I sincerely appreciate your input and the heads up to check on the IP address.

                  So, getting back to the matter at hand.

                  You can see that apart from defining what a monastery is in a brief description, monasteries are are not included in the GOA Archdiocese Regulations:

                  The regulations for the monasteries are different:

                  I can’t read Greek but as I understand it, they do some or all of their commemorations silently and though they supply money to the Archdiocese they are not dependent upon the Archdiocese to provide them with anything in return. I have seen bishops, even from other jurisdictions, participating in the services so the practice wouldn’t ONLY be restricted to Greek bishops as a byproduct of their relationship to the GOA. Otherwise, you wouldn’t see a ROCOR metropolitan participating in the liturgy, which I have.

                  I hope this helps.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    This was also my understanding of your background. Gail and I will track this down. We appreciate your patience.

                    • I have never divulged who I am and do wish to do so. I had a bad experience on another site. I am Orthodox and don’t see myself leaving Orthodoxt.

    • How could you even misinterpret my words? I was paraphrasing Scripture. It’s simple: the monasteries are under the GOARCH hierarchy, but they don’t have the GOARCH spirit and mentality, which is why they are successful. Being ‘in the world, but not of it’ doesn’t mean that I’m not under jurisdiction of legitimate civil authorities, does it?

  18. Gail, I assume you consider them independent Othodox. I know for certain, that bishops of the GOA visit the monasteries and celebrate liturgy as bishops. This verifies that they are under the GOA.

    • George Michalopulos says

      All:  I must agree with Basil here.  The Athonite monasteries are in the GOA but most certainly not of it.  Seriously, the Archon/L100 spirit vs the Athonite praxis found in said monasteries is night and day.

  19. George, certainly the spirit of the Archon/leadership 100 groups is radically different from that of the Ephrem monasteries but that difference is the reality of the Church and will not change until our Lord separates the sheep from the goats. Nevertheless, the monasteries function under the GOA, not ROCOR, the OCA or AOC. Your analysis of their jurisdictional affiliation makes them non-canonical parasites.

    • Michael Bauman says

      JK, non-canonical parasites. Best description of the archons I have heard. 

  20. “Nevertheless, the monasteries function under the GOA, not ROCOR, the OCA or AOC.  Your analysis of their jurisdictional affiliation makes them non-canonical parasites.”

    The monasteries are indeed “affiliated,” but the GOA bishops probably have serious doubts about whether that would continue, if they exercised their theoretical control in a practical but unpopular way, and know what a blow to their pretensions if the monasteries left for ROCOR. 

    • Judging from the Church of Greece and the holy Mountain, Bartholomew/Elp. will most probably try to promote their own decision-making monks in Arizona. So if/when the time comes for a move to another jurisdiction, then the Bart./Elp. decision-making monks will block it.
      It would seem the Arizona has to move sooner than later.
      Lord have mercy.

  21. Myst, the Ephrem monasteries need the GOA more than the GOA needs the monasteries. The primary source of funding for the monasteries is from Greeks. If the monasteries left the GOA much of the funding would dry up. Furthermore, the monasteries worship entirely in Greek. Would ROCOR affiliate themselves with Greek speaking monasteries?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Yes, JK. The primary source of their funding is from Greeks, but you left out one important fact: These particular Greeks choose to put their money into the monasteries; not into the GOA.

      If the GOA were over the monasteries in practice, would the GOA be stymied with respect to their role within the Church life of not just the Greeks, but Orthodox from around the world?

      God, Himself, is protecting these monasteries.

      Source: The National Herald

      By Theodore Kalmoukos

      The Orthodox Christian Organization (OCL) during a recent meeting adopted resolutions relating to monasteries that operate in many parts of the United States. The Christian Newswire reported on the issue as well.

      The National Herald has reported many times about the issue of the monasteries and more specifically about their ecclesiastic belonging, theological teachings, and financial issues.

      There are 18 total monasteries and nunneries in the United States. Technically, these monasteries are under the ecclesiastical and canonical jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and consequently, the local metropolises in which operate. Actually, though, they are under the total control of the priest monk Ephraim and his close associates, whose headquarters are at St. Anthony’s monastery in Florence, AZ.

      TNH reported that a few years ago the Archdiocesan Council, with the insistence of its late Vice Chairman Michael Jaharis, had instituted a special committee to conduct a thorough examination of the monasteries, including their finances, but the issue was stalled because the metropolitans did not cooperate with the committee.

      TNH has learned that a fundamentalist movement has been created in the Archdiocese, deriving from the monasteries called “Ephraimism.” Many priests in the parishes have been influenced, and consequently, they pass their influence onto their parishes. Even at the School of Theology in Boston there are fanatic followers of elder Ephraim.

      Archbishop Demetrios seems to be fully aware of what is going on with the monasteries but, unfortunately, he does not seem willing to confront the issue. Not even the Archdiocesan Regulations that specify the operation of the monasteries are implemented, and thus we have a situation whereby “a Church has been created within the Church.” Also, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is fully aware of the monasteries and their teachings. There are plenty of videos online with homilies of Fr. Ephraim that are quite revealing about his teachings and even “his prophesies.”

      The OCL has brought the issue into light again asking about the implementation of the Regulations of governance of the monasteries. The resolutions follow:

      “OCL respectfully calls upon the Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to enforce its own Regulations relating to the Monasteries operating under its auspices in the United States; that each metropolitan who has monasteries within his metropolis require full compliance by those monasteries with the letter and spirit of those Regulations; and, that all information concerning the operations of those monasteries, including but not limited to financial disclosures, be made public.

      “OCL respectfully calls upon the Assembly of Bishops to request that all jurisdictions that have not yet done so adopt regulations regarding monasteries in the United States requiring transparency and accountability in financial reporting and Hierarchical oversight of theological teachings; that the Assembly encourage full compliance by those monasteries with the letter and spirit of those Regulations; and, that information relating to the well-being of the Church be made public.”

      The Resolutions were adopted after the Board reviewed the provisions of the “General Regulations for the Establishment and Operation of Holy Monasteries in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America” [Protocol #95] issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate on February 16, 2005. The Regulations are set forth in the Official Documents of the Archdiocese on its website (

      No “boss monk” is going to be installed anywhere. The monasteries are self-supporting and when you are self-supporting, any “dependency” is in name only. They do not take orders from the GOA. If that were true, they would have been unable to ignore Bartholomew when he said that pilgrims would not be received during Holy Week, which, of course, they were.

  22. Erdogan: “Now, this place has returned to its roots,
    it was a mosque and has become a mosque again…”
    To its roots…??? Shurely shome mishtake?