BOOM!!! The Other Shoe Just Dropped!

From the looks of the photo to the left, I’d say that the Russians are loaded for bear.  

As you all know by now, His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all-Russia, has received 102 African priests under his omorphor.  This could be viewed as an indirect –and much needed–slap in the face to Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and all-Africa for his betrayal of Metropolitan Onuphriy of Kiev, the canonical primate of the Ukrainian Church. 

Or it could be viewed as African priests who are tired of the torpid leadership of the Greco-supremacists in Alexandria.  

Perhaps it’s a little of both.

There is no doubt that Africa is “white for the harvest”.  Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds on the Dark Continent and Orthodoxy should be no exception.  Save for a few exceptions, the number of stalwart and sincere Greek evangelists has stagnated.  Alexandria and its ethnocentric clique are not helping matters any.

Nor can they.  We shouldn’t be too hard on them, after all, as the great political philosopher “Dirty” Harry Callahan said many years ago:  “a man’s got to know his limitations.”  And it’s not in their DNA of time-servers and dilettantes to “do” evangelism.

Now I realize that some would interject and say something to this effect;  “how can Kirill complain about Bartholomew interfering with one of his archdioceses but now he’s doing the same?”  

I really should have learned by now to listen to Gail.  She pretty much called it.  Interestingly enough, she even saw the order of battle.

Good question.  Unfortunately, it completely misses the point:  one cannot have a dialogue with someone who doesn’t play by the rules.  Or worse, makes them up as they go along.  The party which engages in such shenanigans makes himself irrelevant.  And if he has any people dependent upon him, those people start looking for the exits mighty quick.

This brings us to Turkey.   Ah yes, Turkey.

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, the head of the External Relations Department for the Moscow patriarchate, just announced that the Russian Orthodox Church is going to open an exarchate for Turkey.   And why not?  There are some 50,000 Russians living there at present.  In the “New Rome” itself, there are only 2,000 Greeks (tops).

And then there’s Cyprus.  The island nation/autocephalous Church has close to 100,000 Russians living there.  So far, there’s been no announcement of a Russian exarchate for that island; I imagine that Kirill is giving Archbishop Chrysostomos some time to “revisit” his position vis-a-vis Cyprus’ quasi-recognition of Epiphony’s schismatic sect.

We live in interesting times.  

Now Bartholomew and his puppets (Theodore and Chrysostomos) have basically four options:   

Option #1:  If they’re smart, they’d take a step back and rethink the whole Ukrainian fiasco.  A serious Christian leader who feared God would repent and do so openly.  In a spirit of true humility, he would step down and retire to a monastery and spend the rest of his days in repentance.   Paradoxically, this would make him the hero he never was.

Option #2:  A cynical Christian leader who realizes he screwed up and/or got hoisted on his own petard, would be looking for a face-saving way out.  In other words, repent of the whole debacle without actually repenting.  You know, use mealy-mouthed words and hope that that fig leaf being proffered is big enough to provide cover.  (The end result of options #1 and #2 are essentially the same.)

Option #3:  A desperate man would find some legal stratagem to buy him some time. If I were Bartholomew and options #1 and #2 were not attractive to me (or my handlers), I would call for a Council and hope for the best.

Option #4:  A patriarch who has decided from the outset of his career that he’s going to take the Orthodox Church into an unholy unia with Rome come hell or high water  (and anything to do with this pope would be “unholy” or –at the very least–ridiculous), would ignore Russia’s provocations and keep on going full speed ahead.  

Now, it’s possible (perhaps likely) that what Kirill has done is short-circuit Bartholomew’s plans.  That would entail a fifth option, which would be paralysis on the Phanar’s part.  The end-result of this would be identical to options #1 and #2:  the de-recognition of Dumenko’s outfit and a return to the status quo ante.  In other words, no unia on the horizon. 

Option #3 is too risky for Bartholomew in my opinion.  If he learned anything from the so-called Great and Holy Council of 2016 –and that’s a big “if“–it’s that he can’t guarantee the outcome of any gathering of bishops.  What’s worse for him is that since that Council met, he has only exacerbated international relations between himself and the other local Churches.  It’s bad enough what he did in Ukraine, now he’s poking his thumb in the eye of both Serbia and Greece with ukrocephalous talk for both  Montenegro and Macedonia.  

Basically, the well of goodwill he needs right now has pretty much gone dry.  

In other words, if he (or Theodore working at his behest) called for a Council right now, it could blow up in their faces.  Things like this have happened before.  It’s an old cliche:  if you can’t guarantee the outcome you want, don’t attempt it. 

And let’s be honest, the geopolitical winds are not conducive right now for a united Western front against those wascally Wussians.  With a demented resident in the White House, one who’s already thrown in the towel to Putin (and Xi), NATO is not going to provide the cavalry that’s needed to come swooping over the hill to pull your chestnuts out of the fire.  If you think that, you’ve got another thing coming. 

Just look at Kabul:  the US has proven that it can bug out of a battle faster than you can say “Jackie Robinson.”  Taiwan has taken the hint.  I imagine Ukraine has as well. If the mightiest military on earth could lose to a bunch of goatherders who wear pajamas and have sex with sheep, I can’t see how they’re going to win against the Russians, who would be fighting a defensive battle in their front yard.  (A battle which could turn offensive in no time flat.)  Say what you want about them, when they withdrew from Afghanistan, they did so in an orderly fashion.  

Then of course Bartholomew could keep on going down the path that he was tasked to do back in the fifties when he was a young man getting educated at the Pontifical Institute in Rome (i.e. option #4), that is to say go for the unia and hope for the best.  And also hope that Alexandria, Athens and Cyprus follow him merrily along the way.  My hunch is that he doesn’t have his troops all lined up and ready to go.  I already foresee Cyprus and Greece not going along for this ride.  

Is there a wild card?  Yes, but Moscow just played it.  Two actually.  And they’ve got a third one (and probably others) somewhere up their sleeve.  But what should we expect?  The Russians consider chess to be a spectator sport.  Bartholomew on the other hand has been playing checkers.

This is what happens when you don’t “do” Evangelism.  

About GShep


  1. “Is there a wild card? Yes, but Moscow just played it. Two actually. And they’ve got a third one (and probably others) somewhere up their sleeve.”

    Bismark remarked once that “the Russians are slow to saddle up, but ride fast.”

  2. I would love to find a list of the 102 (maybe more by now) Orthodox priests who have sought union with true canonical Orthodoxy under the omophorion of the Patriarch of Moscow

    The reference I made yesterday to a book written by an Orthodox priest in Africa should be augmented by the following ground-breaking work by the same author, giving the history (good and bad) of Eastern Orthodoxy relative to European colonialism and to the Patriarch of Alexandria / ethnophyletistic Greek factor, which has actually been a hindrance for precisely 100 years now.

    The Orthodox Christian Witness in East Africa / Historical, Ecclesiological, and Theological Approach, by Elekiah (Rev. Dr. Archimandrite Anastasios) Andago Kihali, Eastern Light Publishing, 2020, ISBN 978-1-949940-17-6, 692 pages. Based on his Ph.D. Thesis

    If you read between the lines, I believe that we can discern some understanding of the frustrations of some very faithful people, which may or may not have led to the current situation.

    • The P. of Alexandria Theodore’s decision to recognize the OCU is perplexing because
      – He had served for years in Odessa under the MP, IIRC
      – He openly repeatedly took strong overt stances in favor of the UOC-MP
      – He did not really give much of a strong explanation for his rather sudden reversal. The sense just seemed to be that he was following the CP.

      Supposedly the Greek government pays a lot of the Alexandrian Church’s revenue, and some consider this a key factor. I am wondering what percent. 60%?
      And was there some pressure besides just monetary being applied on P. Theodore?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Originally, he came out against it and then changed his mind.

        • Correct.
          So it is curious why he would do that since he seemed so strongly against it. I guess that he could just have had talks with members of his clergy and the Greek government and they persuaded him.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            He was heavily indebted to the Greeks (in what compacity, I don’t know), but he was strongly encouraged to support it. We all thought a lot of him until he did that.

            • It’s curious what form that “encouragement” could take. To use an extreme example, could he get “retired” like the last JP did by his own synod, and like CP Maximos did when the latter was replaced by CP Athenagoras? Could it just be an issue of funding? I have a hard time thinking that it was just a matter of them telling him that the CP has a right to do this, although hypothetically I could think of this.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                He won’t get retired. He is in a most unusual position.

                • I meant, would the Church of Alexandria have “retired” the AP Theodore, had Theodore continued to reject the OCU?
                  You made the point that the Church has councils. I take it you meant that a council/synod of Alexandria or its members might have been talking to the AP Theodore, telling him to recognize the OCU.

                  At that point, it seems that the AP Theodore could have still rejected the OCU against his synod’s desires or even its synod’s vote. In that case, it becomes a curious issue whether the synod’s decision would be binding, as against its patriarch’s declaration that the OCU was schismatic. Further, such a situation could make AP Thedodore fear repercussions from his synod, like forced retirement.

                  Nonetheless, instead of going down that road, the AP Theodore formally made the declaration himself that the AP was recognizing the OCU.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    No. What I meant was, when there is a dispute in the Church over the Canons, territory, or anything else, all the Local Churches are to form a council to resolve it.

              • OK, here is what I was looking for:

                According to the Ukrainian Telegram channel Pravblog, with reference to its own sources, and according to other sources that have spoken with OrthoChristian, Patriarch Theodoros was pressured by the Greek Foreign Ministry to recognize the schismatics, threatening to cut off funding to the Patriarchate from the Greek state. This pressure of Greek diplomats was supported by a group of metropolitans of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, who threatened to overthrow the Patriarch.


          • It’s curious what form that “encouragement” could take. To use an extreme example, could he get “retired” like the last JP did by his own synod, and like CP Maximos did when the latter was replaced by CP Athenagoras? Could it just be an issue of funding? I have a hard time thinking that it was just a matter of them telling him that the CP has a right to do this, although hypothetically I could think of this.

            This is from about 2018:

            Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa: One must not yield to pressure on the Church in Ukraine

            His Beatitude Theodoros, Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, came to Moscow for the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ and spent in Russia more than one day. He spoke about his visit, the view held by one of the oldest and largest Local Orthodox Churches in the world on the situation of the faithful in Ukraine, the political pressure exerted over the problem of autocephaly, the persecution against Christians in Africa and the problem of refugees, in an exclusive interview with the RIA Novosti news agency.

            – What do you think about the situation of the canonical Church in Ukraine and the problem of autocephaly discussed there today?

            – The Church should be governed according to sacred canons. Politicians have their own considerations, guidelines and instructions but politicians come and go whereas the Church has existed inviolably for already two thousand years now. In this sense, the Patriarchate of Alexandria agrees with the opinion of the Russian Church that political pressure must not be yielded to. It is wrong that when states are divided and then the Church has to be divided too.


            • Gail Sheppard says

              The Church is also governed through Councils.

            • George Michalopulos says

              I guess Theodore’s opinion in 2018 is “no longer operative” in 2019.

              Let’s be clear: he is not a man of integrity. He is a hostage (because of financial reasons alone?) to the Greek govt and they told him to change his mind “or else.”

              • “Hostage,” Yes.
                It’s like when hostages go on TV and say different crazy stuff.
                It must be awkward at least for him.

                The Coptic and Alexandrian primates right now are both named Tawadros II and Theodoros II, respectively. Both names mean “Theodore.”

                Did someone behind the scenes deliberately set that up, or is that a “pure coincidence?”

  3. The EP still acts like it’s Byzantium circa 850 but have no political backing circa 2022.

    Russia might not necessarily be a modern Byzantium but they certainly have the political clout over Turkey to create their own Archdiocese there and unofficially supplant the EP. Wait a decade of Russian evangelism in Turkey with the same success they’ve had in SE Asia and the EP will legitimately be extinct.

    Paraphrasing “never fight a land war with Russia in winter” Bartholomew is playing Connect 4 in Siberia in January.

  4. “Option #3 is too risky for Bartholomew in my opinion. If he learned anything from the so-called Great and Holy Council of 2016 –and that’s a big “if“–it’s that he can’t guarantee the outcome of any gathering of bishops.”

    What decision was made at Crete, if any, that opposed CP Bartholomew’s?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      None. But one of the few voting bishops objected to the point of locking himself in his room. None of them seemed comfortable with redefining the meaning of the Church which was a victory of sorts.

    • George Michalopulos says

      In reality, because of the four no-shows (Antioch, Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia), Crete 2016 never really got off the ground.

      It’s not so much a matter of “defiance” by the rest of the Orthodox world but ignoring the pretensions of the EP.

  5. Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, the head of the External Relations Department for the Moscow patriarchate, just announced that the Russian Orthodox Church is going to open an exarchate for Turkey.

    Where was this reported?

    This will be the endgame for the EP, I think. Maybe they could bracket in Cyprus and Greece to this exarchate and basically pull the carpet out from under the feet of the Greeks.

    • Not to be a debbie downer, but Met. Hilarion didn’t actually say this. Orthodox Times declares that the MP wants to create an exarchate, referring to Met. Hilarion’s RIA-Novosti interview, but he actually says nothing about it.

      It may very well be the MP’s plan, but we can’t say Met. Hilarion announced any such thing.

      All he said was: “We could not refuse the clergy, who realized the erroneous position of their patriarch [Theodoros], in accepting them into the bosom of our church. In the same way, we cannot deny the Orthodox believers in Turkey in pastoral care in the conditions when the Patriarch of Constantinople took the side of the schism.”

      There’s a difference here – in Africa, it’s clergy being taken in, while in Turkey he’s talking about taking care of the faithful – no indication that there’s any clergy who want to switch.

      Again, the MP might very well be planning a Turkish Exarchate, but Met. Hilarion did not announce any such thing.

      • Thanks for clearing that up.

        There’s no clergy in Turkey to switch anyway, besides titular Phanariot metropolitans.

  6. It is painful to say this because I have four Greek immigrant grandparents and have always love the history of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Unfortunately the papal wannabe on the throne today has upended sixteen centuries of First Among Equals tradition to fuel his egomania. If his own synod does not end his madness it will be proof to the world that the EP is no longer needed in a post-Byzantine world and a hindrance to Orthodox unity.

    If this becomes a split between Russians and Phanariotes, the Phanar should know that many of us “diaspora” Greeks will follow the Russians. I believe many of my peeps here in the US treasure Orthodox spirituality over Hellenism. Sadly in recent years that only seems to exist in churches of the Russian tradition.

    The EP should take a step back and repent of his errors in Ukraine. Otherwise he may have the distinction of being both the longest serving and the last EP.

    Lord have mercy!!!

  7. I’m waiting for a Greek spiritual figure to take the lead against what Patriarch Bartholomew is doing. There’s no need for Hellenism to get a bad rap, I happen to be a very big Philhellene.

    Just as Russians shouldn’t be equated with communism, Greeks shouldn’t be equated with Bartholomew. Throughout Soviet history Russians had their own heroes who stood up against the godless system, from the White army generals to Alexander Solzhenitsin. Hellenic Orthodoxy desperately needs such a figure. Otherwise this is going to turn into a war of Greeks vs Slavs which will have terrible repercussions, it will simply go along an ethnic divide.

    • George S,
      There are some Greek hierarchs globally who are in opposition to the CP’s decisionmaking, each interesting in their own way. In GOARCH over the last few decades, interestingly there were hierarchs like Abp. Iakovos and Abp. Demetrios who were generally loyal to CP Bartholomew, but who got forced retirement. In the case of Iakovos, he led the SCOBA council in Ligonier, PA and some think that this was a key factor in his forced retirement a few years later. He wasn’t openly promoting a separate SCOBA Church or something, but that seemed to be the fear from the CP.

      Goarch is run in a relatively top down manner in its structure by the CP, AFAIK. So if some US GOARCH hierarchs who were not yet in retirement made some declarations like you are asking for, it’s predictable that they would get resigned/retired/transferred to a defunct See. Retired hierarchs might get some kind of censure too, but I don’t know for sure or how much, like if he could get defrocked or lose a pension.

      Another factor is one’s own vested interest. Rome find it a big problem if the CP declared itself the head of all Christians (note Rome’s objections to some Ecumenical canons that might be construed this way), just as the CP historically objected to Rome claiming supraChurch vertical supremacy. But would Greeks object to the Greek CP declaring supremacy over all other Christians? This gets a little sticky. Apparently not. Apparently it can be one thing when another region’s leader declares supremacy over you and a quite different state of affairs when your own leader declares supremacy over everyone else.

      This is one practical reason why Unia with Rome is less likely from the CP side. Does CP Bartholomew actually want to give up his self claimed powers over the world’s EOs by submitting himself to Rome? Even if so, this would be a quite different practical state of affairs for GOARCH clergy, laity, and the Archons than the CP just claiming power over all EOs.

      This practical reason is why I think that actual full Unia with Rome is unlikely from the CP side. The CP synod must be well aware that the CP membership would not go into submission to Rome, and the CP synod probably doesn’t even want that itself.

      A lot of Melkites consider themselves “Orthodox in communion with Rome.” This kind of fiction would be more practical for the CP, but it would still seem hard for either Rome or the CP to reunite without them resolving the issue of Supremacy and either Rome or the CP accepting the other’s classic ecclesiology (eg. Roman papal supremacy on the Roman side or independence for the CP). Who knows. Maybe in a century or more they could work something out. Reunion with bad is not necessarily bad of course for EOs, depending on the terms, eg. First Without Equals.

      So I don’t see it as very likely that the CP would perform a Unia submitting itself to Rome.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        They’re both pretty invested in the idea. The Pope calls it: “Unity with diversity!” Whatever that means.

        The interesting thing is how we Trads will like it. We like them and they like us. For a reason I don’t understand, they’re committed to keeping their Pope (one of them anyway).

        • ” The Pope calls it: “Unity with diversity!” Whatever that means.”

          My understanding is that “unity” means submission to the Pope of Rome, “diversity” means plurality of practice and to some extent plurality of beliefs.

        • I don’t see the CP uniting with Rome as very workable in the long run if Rome keeps its teaching that it has supreme authority, because eventually the Pope could just do the same kind of thing that the CP did in Ukraine or make other “interventions” and it would set off the same kind of divisions again.

          • I don’t think it would be total submission, rather, I think a deal would be worked out where the Pope of Rome would remain over the Latin Rite and the EP would have domain over all Uniates. That’s essentially how I see it working out and I can almost bet that Bartholomew has wholly signed onto that.

            That’s just my 2 cents but I think it’s the one that’s most likely.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Under this scenario, the EP would have “jurisdiction over all the uniates” to be sure but “jurisdiction” would be defined down as far as Rome is concerned and as the need arises. Bartholomew (or his successor) would get a taste of their own medicine given how they played out their supremacist presuppositions in the Ukraine. I.E., the EP has universal jurisdiction, can unilaterally make autocephaly, can unilaterally withdraw autocephaly, etc. Hence my derisive term for what he created in the Urkaine as “ukrocephaly.” (I’m working on a book right now in which this –and many other topics–will be discussed.)

              That’s the first option.

              The second option is that Rome won’t go for this in the first place, especially if all Bartholomew can promise is TO bring over a handful of Greek-speaking dioceses while inflaming the rest of Orthodoxy and causing schism along the Moscow-Istanbul axis. Bart’s remnant would be small beer. In other words, not worth it.

              Believe it or not, Rome already has twenty-two uniate autocephalous (as they define the term) patriarchates and archdioceses under its omorphor already. I suppose they could transfer the whole kit-n-kaboodle to the omorphor of the EP but there’s no guarantee that all 22 would “welcome” that. They’ve been doing mighty fine on their own.

              I suppose the Ukrainian uniates would jump at the chance but not the Melkites or the Maronites.

              • I agree with George here, Petros.

                Even in the scenario that the CP and RC would join and the CP would get the Uniates, and even where Rome would agree to respective some watered down version of the CP’s independence, Rome’s theory has for centuries traditionally been that ROME is the head of all Christians. Would Rome formally abandon this claim that it is the head of all Christians?

                It does not seem likely. It sounds like what people like you most often describe is a situation where Rome continues to call itself the “head” somehow and also agrees to respect the CP and let the CP do its own thing. And along with this, the CP would not be forced to accept the RC Councils like Trent and Vatican I and II. Suppose that this arrangement worked for decades, due at least in part to the two primates’ (Pope of the RCs and also P Bartholomew) desire to make it work. It seems that eventually it would come apart again due to the inherently underlying conflict- the Pope teaching that it’s the supreme head and the CP teaching that it has de facto full independence of powers.

                Now with the CP openly claiming that he can create and revoke autocephaly in other jurisdictions (eg. Ukraine), such an arrangement with Rome would seem unworkable because the CP would eventually get its own medicine, so to speak.

                Kind of an interesting sidenote question is how far back in time had this tension been going on in Christianity between Rome claiming supremacy and the Eastern Churches not accepting this. Papal Supremacy is NOT an EO or pre-Schism Eastern Christian teaching. However, the Popes seem to assert something like this for centuries before the Schism. They seemed to “live and let live” to some extent. One early example could be 1 Clement, in which Clement, the hierarch for Rome (the office of bishop of Rome was maybe not yet called “Pope”/Papa/Father?) gave pretty strong advice for the Corinthian Church to listen to the hierarchs and leaders whom the apostles had appointed. Clement did not directly assert that he has jurisdiction over the Corinthians, but it’s still a 1st century case of Rome taking an authoritative air regarding another Church.

                Then there was the Quartodecimian controversy of the mid-late 2nd century AD. At the end of the conflict a bit before 200 AD, I recall reading that the Pope seemed to think that the Church in Asia Minor should listen to him because he was the Pope. I would need to double check that. In any case, the decision got resolved in Rome’s favor substantively, but it didn’t actually excercise decretal top-down Papal Supremacy in that case.

                Another place it comes up early is Irenaeus’ pretty strong words about the See of Rome. However, Irenaeus also stopped short of declaring Papal Supremacy as top-down and decretal in nature.

            • Antiochene Son says

              I agree, Petros. I think the plan is to bring in the EP and he will be the head, the mini-pope, of all the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome. The EP will only answer to the Pope, and if Rome’s current practice is any indication, they would let the Eastern Churches continue to do what they want.

              Communion with Rome is literally the only thing Rome cares about; these days, ultramontine micromanagement is only done to the Latin rite. (Which, frankly, I could personally accept from an administrative standpoint. If the Roman Patriarchate wants to operate as a monarchy within its historical territory, as long as they keep it to themselves and we agree on our theology and creed, I don’t care.)

              To George’s point that the Eastern Catholics might not welcome this: maybe not, but they have accepted centuries of Latin captivity and meddling for the sake of being in communion with Rome, so why wouldn’t they at least accept the captivity of an Eastern patriarch under the Pope, especially if he would have the historic rights to be in that position.

              It would be the true fulfillment of the Two Lungs theory: a Western Pope and an Eastern Pope.

              I could see the resulting schism within Orthodoxy not being considered worthwhile if the folks in Rome and Istanbul were sober, but I think the allure of “healing” the Great Schism on the 1700th anniversary of Nicaea and its historic nature will be too great to resist.

              It will be just another half-baked triumphal disaster wrought by the Greeks, in the way of the “Great Council” of 2016 and the St. Nicholas Shrine. I don’t see any sobriety in Pope Francis that would pump the brakes either.

            • William Tighe says

              The year 1024 comes around again? From The Eastern Schism by Steven Runciman (Oxford, 1955), pp. 35-36.

              “In 1024, Patriarch Eustathius of Constantinople, with the backing of the Emperor Basil II, wrote to Pope John XIX suggesting that the time had come to settle once and for all the relations of their two sees; and he proposed a formula that ‘with the consent of the Roman bishop the Church of Constantinople shall be called and considered universal in her own sphere, as that of Rome is in the world.’ The original Greek words have not survived, but it seems clear that the Patriarch intended that his Patriarchate should be admitted to be self-sufficient and autonomous, while the primacy of Rome was to be recognized and Rome was to remain the suitable court to which to apply for arbitration and information. It has been suggested that the Patriarch’s motive was to heal the schism of the two Sergii (in 1009); but more probably he was anxious to establish his authority over the churches in the Byzantine provinces of southern Italy, where trouble was beginning to occur. As Byzantium was now at the height of its power and the Papacy had sunk to a low level, he doubtless thought his proposal generous; and John XIX apparently agreed to it. But at once there was an outcry amongst the Cluniacs, and the Abbot of Saint-Benignus at Dijon wrote angrily to reprove the Pope for his lack of vigour in governing the Universal Church and to remind him that though the secular Empire might be divided up between many rulers the domain of Saint Peter was indivisible. The heir of Saint Peter could not parcel out his power to bind and loose. Pope John withdrew his agreement, and in consequence his name was never mentioned in the diptychs of Constantinople nor in the Synodicon published there in 1025.”

              Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose? The EP in communion with Rome becomes head of the whole Byzantine Christian Oikumene, Orthodox and “Uniate” alike, so becoming the junior “Byzantine Pope” to the senior “Roman (and worldwide) Pope.”

              The “Schism of the Two Sergii,” so called after Pope Sergius IV of Rome (Pope from 1009 to 1012) and Patriarch Sergius II of Constantinople (Patriarch from 1001 to 1019), if it really happened, was due to unknown causes, and its name reflects the fact that the name of Pope Sergius IV never appears on the diptychs of Constantinople, nor do those of any later Pope of Rome after John XVIII (Pope from 1004 to 1009).

    • George S,
      To put it in other words, there are certain practical challenges behind what you are asking for.

      One challenge is how much the Hellenic world would find itself directly incentivized to follow such a spiritual leader to object to CP claims over non-CP Churches? Think of the Western Church by analogy. What Western Spiritual leader rose up to contest Papal rule over the EOs? Protestants did, but they were incentivized to object to Papal decisionmaking over the Western Church too; they objected to the Role of Tradition, etc.

      Another challenge is how such a hierarch would succeed in practice. Even if, conceivably, a GOARCH hierarch spoke out and got forcibly retired, would he join ROCOR and be followed by a major fraction of GOARCH? I am skeptical.

      That said, cases of CP clergy speaking up on the issue or tacitly dissenting in different ways are still interesting.

      • Some interesting perspectives there Hal…

        One thing that off the bat needs to be dismissed is the idea of a Greek structure succeeding under a non-Hellenic omophoron. From what I know about Greeks (a people I passionately love) that’s just not going down. If some GOARCH bishop goes under ROCOR or the OCA he’s going to be very lonely.

        To me Jerusalem seems to be the only real chance of an existing hierarchy going against the Ecumenical Patriarchate. At the moment I think that’s a very tall order, but it would be the strongest candidate in the prospective future. The Jerusalem Patriarchate even had at one point a presence in the United States. There also could be under this aegis some rapprochement with some old calendarists.

        All the other churches: Greece, Alexandria, and Cyprus, are just not options purely for political reasons.

        What regards Cyprus I wanted to comment separately. If the Russian church decides to have a totally independent presence there I’m expecting that to be a bigger challenge politically. Africa is somewhat of a neutral, non-aligned territory. Cyprus is moving rapidly away from non-alignment and has pretty much become fully aligned with the transatlantic bloc. I can imagine a lot of resentment amidst the population there if the Russian church decides to go separate, including problems on the government level. It’s a small country and everyone knows each other there. It’s not going to be fun.

        I’m counting on the Russian hierarchy to also not make the mistake of entering into any sort of agreement with the Turkish occupational authorities to start any churches there. There is one ROCOR-in-schism priest in occupied Kyrenia who has a parish, and that created a bit of a scandal with Chrysostomos accusing Patriarch Kirill of setting it up as revenge for his at the time neutral stance on Dumenko. That was false as this priest is in schism from the Moscow Patriarchate, but it was a convenient vehicle Chrysostomos used to stoke some anti-Moscow sentiment amidst his flock.

        Either way, I think the best possible solution to Bartholomewism has to come from within the Greek people themselves. Not an easy task, but it may make the biggest difference in the long run.

        • If some GOARCH bishop goes under ROCOR or the OCA he’s going to be very lonely.

          Not going to happen. Instead, the GOA will just continue to hemorrhage members to the point that it will be irrelevant on the Orthodox scene in America. This is already happening on a large scale (see the covid studies on parish life) and I would imagine that many of these Greeks have sought refuge elsewhere. This doesn’t even count converts at GOA parishes.

          I have a good friend who goes to [a GOA] parish and them and their family are almost out the door already. Why stay when you can take your money and talents elsewhere?

  8. Antiochene Son says

    Much of Turkey is actually under Antioch, so I don’t imagine Russia would meddle in those regions?

    I wonder what Antioch thinks about all this, given the situation with Jerusalem over Qatar.

  9. I’m a bit of an outsider looking in, don’t comment often here as it seems a conversation between a small number of people with a lot more familiarity with issues than I have as a somewhat recent convert to Orthodoxy in the US.

    But I will say this: since my conversion, I’ve spent time in or visited several jurisdictions, including Greek and Russian. Frankly, just based on my own experiences, the Greeks are the last place I’d want to belong. And I love the Russian spirituality. If there’s to be a realignment between the two of them, I’d choose Russia in a heartbeat. For me, these African priests turning to Russia are a welcome development, I don’t blame them one bit.

    Though, taking a very long view, one hopes for more indigenous autocephalous churches, and more indigenous Patriarchs, around the globe as Orthodoxy, we hope, grows. I don’t always want to be looking to another country, and a different culture, for my “leader.” We should all be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with Jesus as our Leader.

    • The problem with the Greeks isn’t Greek-ness. It’s that the ones who came here were consumed by America. They made a bunch of money and forgot God. But there are definitely saintly Greeks on this continent.

      • No doubt, but there are no North American Greek saints, though there are plenty of Russians, and Slav saints associated with Russia. Why is that?

        • Are you sure?
          I kind of remember reading of a Greek saint who lived in America, although he was probably born in the Old Country.

          • Yes, I’m sure. Here’s an official list, none are Greek:

            There are a couple of Greeks in consideration now, in a second list in this link, including Elder Ephraim.

            I worshipped for awhile in an OCA parish, which had beautiful icons and relics of the North American saints, in which a couple of them had walked, and the parish celebrated the yearly feast of All Saints of North America. Their stories are wonderful and it was very powerful to feel so close to them, when here in the US saints usually seem “a long time ago in a place far, far away.” The Russians really did a lot of evangelization from the earliest days of their presence here in and through Alaska, a large part of why they became saints.

            I’m now Western Rite Orthodox, the WRO being founded and approved by St. Tikhon of Moscow. WRO parishes are currently in the jurisdictions of Antioch and ROCOR. Given how Greek-centric the Greeks are, it’s hard to envision them taking on the WRO.

            • As I recall, I was reading a story about a Greek Orthodox, maybe a monk, who prayed that his beard would grow, and it grew very long and he never cut it. I don’t know if he was canonized. I thought it said that he had been in the US. Maybe he just had a miracle or holy living without canonization. It was interesting to read and made me think that there had been some Greek Orthodox saints who had been in the US, although maybe who had not been born or died here.

              If not, one factor could be that GOARCH for whatever reason has hardly a monastic tradition in the US, unlike the Russian Church (eg. in Alaska). The Greek monasteries in the US are a relatively new appearance.

              Maybe the Greek Church is more secular in the US, relatively speaking, and less likely to look at people as “saints.” Another factor could be the time period for saints in the US. The Russians have been here since the 1800’s at least due to Alaska. Other than the Shipping community in New Orleans, Greeks don’t seem to have much of a community presence in the US until the late 19th century.

              There’s probably a couple other factors too, which don’t really disprove what you are saying.

              For example, the OCA has St Alexis Toth of Wilkes Barre, and AOCNA has St Raphael of Brooklyn…. so…. historically was there some spiritual leader of the Greek Church in the US too, who could be at least compared a bit to them….?

      • Yes, Slavic ancestry aside, I was brought into Orthodoxy in a Greek parish and learned to love Byzantine chant. There is nothing comparable to the Greek Lamentations during holy week in the normal cycle of music. And, oddly, I would have preferred staying in a Greek parish if it had been more like the Old Calendar Greeks with respect to tradition. One language to master both to understand the liturgy in Greek, the Gospels written in Greek and the Fathers (not to mention the Septuagint).

        Yet, here we are in this dystopian mess. I hope there are “Greek rite” parishes that spring up among Greeks who flee to the ROC. They should abandon the 19th century revisions to the liturgy embraced by the modernist Greeks but keep the general Greek practices, the Julian calendar, the Apostle’s fast and kyriopascha.

        The glory of Russian and Slavic services is undeniable. However, it was the Greek services in Constantinople that the early Russians attended that made them question whether they were in heaven or on earth.

        • Given that the Russian services didn’t even exist yet, it’s not a good comparison. And they took what they received and springboarded it into something truly sublime.

          Some of this is a matter of individual culture and preference. As a westerner I relate much better to Russian chant than Byzantine, and am grateful to the OCA, WRO and others who do the liturgy in my native English. Makes worship much easier.

        • I wonder that people want to push the Traditional Greeks to the Russians, as an only choice. Many like the Serbs, Romanians and Georgians. I prefer Byzantine chant, as the Russians reminds me of Western style music, which it is.

          • Lana,

            I don’t see it as a zero sum game.

            Did you know that the Byzantine chant Agni Parthene was based on the Western European ballad melody Greensleaves and composed about a century or two ago?

            In comparison, Russian chant can go back to medieval Slavic melodies. OCA has a lot of old Carpathian plainchant, and is acapella. Lots of Greek Churches in the US have organs.

            Wouldn’t the most “original” Christian singing be Palestinian/Mideast melodies like in the Antiochian Church?

            But already in the 1st century, Christianity was established in Rome. So it doesn’t seem to be a zero sum game.

            • One of the more profoundly musical examples
              of the Lord making a spiritual silk purse out of a sow’s ear
              is the Gaelic Psalm singing from the Western Isles of Scotland.

              Gaelic Psalm Singers from the Hebrides
              This is a form of singing now largely restricted to the Western Isles of Scotland. The precentor (literally ‘one who sings beforehand’) sings the line of a psalm, and the congregation sings the line back in a cappella style (without musical accompaniment). The precentor’s duty is to pronounce the words clearly and precisely, but also to give a hint of the melody line. The role of the precentor is very important, as traditionally he or she arrived at church not knowing which psalms were to be sung, and had to think of a melody ‘on the spot’ when the minister announced the psalms. The congregation’s singing is much more ornamental, with many passing and grace notes. The result is a distinctive and emotive swell of sound. This style of singing is also learned from an early age in the home, where it is an integral part of family worship.

              This form of singing developed in Britain after the Reformation to help illiterate congregations to sing psalms without needing to read them. The practice died out in most of mainland Britain due to church reform, but survived in the Hebrides as many were unable to read their native Gaelic owing to the hostility of the educational authorities. Today, many Gaelic speakers can read the Bible in their own language and maintain psalm singing in the traditional style. However, there is concern that the tradition is in danger and psalmody classes have been arranged in Gaelic-medium schools.

              The Reverend Dr. I. D. Campbell minister of the Free Church in Back, Isle of Lewis, explained the endurance of the Gaelic psalm singing tradition, ‘A lot of the new songs and hymns that are being used elsewhere just don’t have the depth of feeling and the ability to marry theology and personal experience together in the way the psalms do.’

              Few who listen to Gaelic psalm singing can fail to be moved. Lesley Riddoch, who is originally from Belfast and is now Radio Scotland’s best-known presenter, declared that listening to the psalms made hairs stand up on the back of her neck and she found the music very moving. When she played a track from this choir’s CD on her show many listeners were amazed – one caller said ‘I did not know that Scottish men could sing with such emotion.’

              Professor Willie Ruff, of the University of Yale believes the Hebridean style heavily influenced the black gospel tradition of ‘lining out’ psalms, as Scottish Gaelic speakers and black slaves shared the same churches for many years in the southern United States. Willie played a CD track to an old Black precentor who burst into tears, recognising the similarities immediately. There are also striking similarities to be found in the singing styles of the Coptic Church of Ethiopia. …’

              Here are some Psalms from Back Free Church in the Isle of Lewis:

              And here is some lined-out hymnody from Southeastern Kentucky:

              The musical similarities are obvious, except that the Gaels do not do hymns.
              They do Psalms – Scripture – only.

              Stripped of their liturgy by the Reformation and a government
              that tried for centuries to destroy their language and culture,
              they found a way to worship God in Scripture, in Song and in Spirit.

              It is deeply moving.

              • A Scottish monk – now a hieromonk, actually – whom we both know actually told me about this a few years ago and I have grown to love it. I have both CDs by Back Free Church and listen to it often when driving to and from church with the family. They think it’s great too.

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Thanks for sharing this. It reminds me very much of the canonarch I heard at an Orthodox vespers service at Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra outside of Moscow years ago. The entire vespers service was sung/chanted solo by the canonarch in bits, and then each bit repeated by the choir in waves. Such a beautiful vespers service, but their security wouldn’t permit any recording devices. I wish I could find a recorded example to share. This tradition of the canonarch seems very rare now in Russian Orthodoxy, but it was probably more prevalent at one time.

  10. At this point people will be bringing up the “ethnophyletism” scandal of the 1800s. Let me remind you that there are only seven, possibly eight, ecumenical councils, which do not include this one. Ethnophyletism is a made up gibberish word, sort of like racism and misogyny.

    Nor is this a parallel. Moscow is doing this not out of love for the Russian people but to protect the Orthodox from Bartholomew’s apostasy.

  11. African Diocese has called on the priests to recant their move to Russian Orthodoxy:

  12. It ought to be clear at this point that Bartholomew will do whatever his State Department masters tell him to do. Were matters otherwise, he would not have ventured into the Ukraine the way he did. He’s an agent.

    So, the question is whether a Unia is in the best interests of the Western Establishment, not the Phanar in particular. None of this, I suggest, was really in the best interests of the patriarchate. The Liberal Borg sees the spiritual gravitas of the ROC as a threat to Progressive, Inc. Not only that, but they recognize the ties which the ROC has to the rest of Orthodoxy. The objective, then, would be to sever as much of Orthodoxy away from ROC influence and into the loving arms of the State Department as possible. That makes the psyche warfare (and kinetic warfare) that much easier.

    Do not look at Bartholomew or the Istanbul Synod as players in this game. They are but pawns, dogs. Were it not for Western support, Ankara would rid itself of the Phanar in short order. Moscow certainly would not object. Their one and only sole lifeline is sycophancy to the State Department. That is their god. And this is a god that cares nothing for them personally. At the end of the day, Bart could end up in a shack on the outskirts of some little Greek town without indoor plumbing.

    Having sold his soul, he is cursed.

    • Your post says it all so concisely. Yet it’s so sad that so many people don’t get it.

      So many Greek Americans just buy into the “naughty naughty too big, greedy Russia” while saying “Patriarch Bartholomew is in a difficult position in Turkey, we need to support him” without seeing the absurdity of the whole thing. They want to believe they have the progressive Patriarch who understands, as opposed to fights against, globalism and gives the Greek community the keys to the big euroatlantic club. If they throw Russia and Metropolitan Onufry under the bus, Erdogan’s mobs will be kept away from the gates of St. George’s church in the Phanar.

      Yet I know how contradictory this is to the Greek character which has always been one of questioning authority, being happy to be on their own, and saying a decisive “ohi” to foreign pressure (and willing to spill blood to defend themselves, e.g. the infamous “Ohi” to Mussolini).

  13. I’m in a Diocese (African) where the Bishop seems preoccupied only with the Hellenic communities and has zero structure or budget for missionary work (let alone taking time to connect with those missions).

    Let every jurisdiction that can make a difference come. We listen as Westerners tell us that the MP, through his actions, is being impolite, but guess what, very few have spoken to anyone in Africa. We foresaw something like this happening. For us, it has always been a matter of “when”, not “if”. Without outside jurisdictions budging into this continent, the future will be “non-canonical, schismatic, and Old Calendarist”.

    My children and I won’t be running to any MP parish anytime soon, but their presence will surely give us hope that Orthodoxy will finally be known in our corner of the world.

    Of course, I’d rather our Patriarchs got along – but even Christ and his 12 had their moments.