Making New Plans

Archbishop Elpidophoros advocated an ecumenical dialogue with the RCC.(He’s not wearing a mask though.)Photo: Panorthodox SYNOD

So what are we on now?  Strike 4 for the AB? 

Or would it be more apropos to say that the Fordhamites strike yet again? In any event, no matter how maladroit, incompetent, misguided or corrupt many of our leaders are, I don’t think for a moment that the Church can “strike out”.  That’s on them.

Lord have mercy.



His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America

The Future of Orthodox-Catholic Relations in the U.S.A.
Orthodoxy in America Lecture,

Dear Fr. Joseph M. McShane of the Society of Jesus, President of Fordham University
Dear Fathers,
Distinguished Participants,
Dear Christ and Anastasia Economos, in whose honor this lecture series has been renamed,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends present here at the University Church and elsewhere online,

When I think of Orthodox-Catholic relations, I see the word: “Solidarity.” Let me tell you why.

Two months ago, in the middle of this sweltering summer, I picked up my phone and called His Eminence, Cardinal Dolan. I told him: “Your Eminence, I need your help. As you know, Hagia Sophia in Constantinople has been re-converted into a Mosque by the Turkish authorities. Would you be willing to sign a joint statement with me to denounce it?” It took the Cardinal less than a second to agree and by the end of the day we had issued a common statement on Hagia Sophia that ended with these powerful words: “We stand together as brothers in faith, and in solidarity with all people of good will and good faith, so that Hagia Sophia may remain what She is – a symbol of encounter, history, spiritual aspiration, and human achievement of the highest order, glorifying the One God Who has made us all to be sisters and brothers of one human family.”

The ecumenical solidarity of the last few months has been incredible. We have heard words of support from our brothers and sisters in Christ from many denominations. The ecumenical movement is not dead, but we have to recognize that its role and reality is evolving. As you all know, at the time of its inception, the ecumenical movement emerged during one of the bloodiest periods in the history of humanity, but also at a time that has seen the greatest deployment of means of communication, connecting people, circulating ideas, and building relationships across the planet. The 20th century was the century of two World Wars and the century of globalization. At the center of this tension between fragmentation and unification is an intersection, where dialogue stands as the most significant marker of today’s culture and civilization. Dialogue is now social, interreligious, and inter-Christian, or ecumenical.

Dialogue is both negotiation and mediation. It is the overcoming of controversy and it transcends arguments. However, it must also be critical and rigorous, at least when it is a tool in the service of truth and unity.

We should recognize, with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, that: “True dialogue is a gift from God.” Dialogue is above all examining the relationship which, in Christianity, finds its pinnacle in communion, in a union where the dissimilar resonates harmoniously, where differences complement each other, and where what is experienced as a division is transformed into a possibility of reconciliation.

Although dialogue has established itself as a hallmark of our contemporary society, its ecumenical dimension goes beyond other initiatives in its fulfillment. Ecumenical dialogue, and particularly dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, goes beyond historical and theological antagonisms to become a gift: a gift of relationship, a gift of freedom, a gift of charity, and a gift of solidarity. In his teaching, Christ not only enjoins his disciples to be united, but He makes the words exchanged with His Father, His High-Priestly prayer, the very presupposition of the mystery of Trinitarian unity: “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who are to believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”(John 17:20-21).

Thus, I would like to take the opportunity of today’s lecture to thank the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University for its invitation to speak tonight. I am honored. Allow me to commend its co-directors Professor George Demacopoulos and Professor Aristotle Papanikolaou, both Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, for their inspiring work, not only by placing Orthodoxy on the top tier of academic research, but also by challenging all of us to engage in a conversation that invites us to consider the place and role of the Orthodox Church in the broader society. I hear that your blog, Public Orthodoxy, attracts a great deal of attention. I am pleased that these conversations are taking place, that opinions are heard, and that knowledge is shared.

Today, I was asked to speak about the future of Orthodox-Catholic relations in the U.S.A. I would remind you of these words attributed to Winston Churchill: “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Allow me to reflect on the history of the relationship between our two Churches in order to be able to build a vision for our future together in this country in our quest for visible unity, “unity as communion” to paraphrase His Eminence Metropolitan John of Pergamon .

Orthodoxy and the Quest for Unity

The search for unity stretches back the long history of Christianity. From the first hours of its existence, the Church had to face a fundamental question: how to preserve her diversity without prejudice to her unity? From the opposition between Gentile convert and the Christians from Judaism in the Book of Acts, through the Christological controversies of the first millennium, not forgetting the schism of the Eastern and Western Churches in 1054, the council, the synod, has always been the place of unity and a space of reconciliation. The assembly in Jerusalem, in the days of the Apostles, is a clear sign of this. Unity will only come at the cost of a decision made collectively according to the consecrated expression: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” (Acts 15:28)

In the 20th century, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople constantly linked the process of ecumenical dialogue to the conciliar fermentations of the entire Orthodox Church. This is how the encyclicals produced by the Ecumenical Patriarchate between 1902 and 1920, which call, through the common commitment of the Orthodox Churches, to invest in what would become the ecumenical movement, should be interpreted.

The denominational alterity that Orthodoxy gradually faced at the end of the Great War determined the interdependence of the ecumenical and pan-Orthodox processes. The movements of Orthodox populations, particularly following the Russian Revolution (1917) and the “great catastrophe” (η Μεγάλη Καταστροφή) in Asia Minor (1923) have profoundly influenced its ecumenical work. The presence of a large Orthodox population in Western Europe and North America conditions the rapprochement of Christians. The diaspora became a meeting place. Among the many great Orthodox theologians from these regions who have shaped today’s Orthodox Church, I think it is worth mentioning here the brilliant personality of Fr. John Meyendorff who was, as you all know, a full professor at Fordham University, in addition to being the Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, and also one of the pioneers of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue in the U.S.A. Fr. Meyendorff exemplified how scholarship and theology can serve the mission and vocation of the Church in its quest for unity.

Finally, the Orthodox Church, faithful to her ecumenical commitment, also participated in the creation of the World Council of Churches in 1948. A recent document entitled For the Life of the World. Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church and approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate very accurately captured the vision of the Orthodox Church’s role in the Ecumenical movement:
“Our commitment to ecumenical relations with other Christian confessions reflects this openness to all who sincerely seek the truth as the incarnate Logos, Jesus Christ, and who remain true to their conscience, even while we continue to bear witness to the fulness of the Christian faith in the Orthodox Church.”

Catholic-Orthodox Relations and the Spirit of Jerusalem

The Orthodox Church’s involvement in ecumenical dialogue also depended on the willingness of other Churches to build bridges with her. A radical turn was taken during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), when the Catholic Church decided on the fundamental necessity of a rapprochement between Christians, and especially with the Orthodox Church. De Unitatis Redintegratio, the decree on ecumenism issued in 1964, is the manifestation of the extraordinary openness brought by Pope John XXIII (1881-1963) and his successor Paul VI (1897-1978). One of the most important events emerging from that decision was, without a doubt, the meeting of His Holiness Pope Paul VI and His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem in January 1964.

The genuinely ecumenical hearts of Patriarch Athenagoras (1886-1972) and of Pope Paul VI beat in unison. On January 5, Paul VI, after crossing the sea of Galilee, and having celebrated the Mass in Nazareth, entered the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem. The Patriarch joined him there, accompanied by ten metropolitans and archbishops. On the threshold of the house, the two men embraced. Their conversation was overwhelming in truth, trust, faith and prophecy. One must seek in the words and the embraces exchanged the foundations of a renewed fraternity. Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras would later tell the Orthodox Theologian Olivier Clément: “We kissed once, twice, and then again, again. Like two brothers who meet again after a very long separation.” The exchange was spontaneous, warm. Speeches were given at the end of the meeting before Pope Paul VI offered Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras a chalice, as a sign of the communion to which both aspired. The joint communiqué, issued on January 6, 1964, testifies to the change in relations after so many centuries of opposition between the Christian Churches of the East and the West:

“The two pilgrims, their eyes fixed on Christ, the exemplar and author, with the Father, of unity and peace, pray God that this meeting may be the sign and prelude of things to come for the glory of God and the enlightenment of his faithful people.”

We should acknowledge that, behind the scenes, the bridge on which Catholics and Orthodox are walking on their ecumenical journey was first established by my predecessor, His Eminence, Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory. At the direction of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, Archbishop Iakovos, newly elected as Archbishop of North and South America in 1959, traveled the same year to Rome and was able to meet with His Holiness Pope John XIII. When Archbishop Iakovos visited the Pope on March 17, 1959, it was the first encounter between a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Pope of Rome since the mid-16th century; only one month later, a representative from the Vatican would visit the Phanar to meet with Patriarch Athenagoras.

Fifty years later, in 2014, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew recommitted themselves to continue the prophetic mission of their predecessors by meeting in Jerusalem. They declared together:

“Our meeting, another encounter of the Bishops of the Churches of Rome and Constantinople founded respectively by the two Brothers the Apostles Peter and Andrew, is a source of profound spiritual joy for us. It presents a providential occasion to reflect on the depth and the authenticity of our existing bonds, themselves the fruit of a grace-filled journey on which the Lord has guided us since that blessed day of fifty years ago.”

Putting an end to centuries of silence, I think we all have in mind the picture of the embrace of the two Primates, emulating the embrace of the two brothers and Apostles, Peter and Andrew, based on the iconographic tradition . In 1965, in a deeply prophetic gesture, the same Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras decided in common, as a visible sign of their desire to restore the bond of Eucharistic communion that had been lost for centuries, to simultaneously lift the excommunications of 1054.

Through the years, what has been characterized as a “Dialogue of Charity” became more and more visible, with, for instance, the presence of a delegation from the Catholic Church at the Phanar, the center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, for the feast of St. Andrew the First-Called and the reciprocal presence of a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Rome for the feast of St. Peter. The dialogue also became a “Dialogue of Truth” after Pope John Paul II and Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios announced the opening of the theological dialogue between the two Sister Churches in 1979.

The Dialogue of Charity was built in successive stages which culminated in the creation of the Joint International Commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The transformation of the Dialogue of Charity into a Dialogue of Truth, that is to say the shift from gestures manifesting a rediscovered fraternity to an exchange on theological problems, marks the fruitful maturation and the growing confidence which makes it possible to tackle the heart of our divisions.

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation

The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation should not be shy about its accomplishments. Since 1965 – you might notice the connection to the timing of the reestablishment of Catholic-Orthodox relations in the context of the Second Vatican Council – this Consultation has produced thirty-two documents, reports and statements. Some of them became real references for theologians, and for our Churches to walk together towards unity. Over fifty years, the Consultation discussed some crucial issues. In the most recent document, “The Vocations and Mission of the People of God” (2019), we agreed that: “Every member of the Church has a dignity and value rooted in baptism. The Spirit also endows each baptized Christian with spiritual gifts, which are meant to contribute to the well-being of the Body and to the salvation of the world.” In 2017, responding to the Joint International Commission on the question of “Synodality and Primacy during the First Millennium”, the Consultation members encouraged their colleagues to complete their study by examining the “diversity of ecclesial models of the first millennium” and to take into consideration “the other Churches of the East”. Five years before, they reflected on “The Importance of Sunday”. The document says: “For Christians, Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is a special day consecrated to the service and worship of God. It is a unique Christian festival. It is ‘the day the Lord has made’ (Ps. 117 (118):24). Its nature is holy and joyful. Sunday is the day on which we believe God acted decisively to liberate the world from the tyranny of sin, death, and corruption through the Holy Resurrection of Jesus.” These words resonate in both of our Churches in today’s context of a post-Christian era where the sacredness of the world, its time and places is forgotten in the abyss of secularism.

Some statements deserve to be rediscovered because of their boldness and courage. In 2010, for example, the Consultation published a stimulating study entitled “Steps Towards a Reunited Church: A Sketch of an Orthodox-Catholic Vision For The Future.” Today more than ever, we need to think not only of our differences, but about how we can anticipate our Churches being united through a rediscovered experience of communion based on: mutual recognition, a common confession of faith, the acceptance of diversity, liturgical sharing, synodality and conciliarity, mission and evangelization, subsidiarity, renewal and reforms, and finally the role of the Papacy. To the latter, the way we define Church governance would have some direct impact on our ability to live and exist as one Church. His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew uses a beautiful expression, speaking of “a primacy of love, honor and service.” The 2010 document concludes:

“Conscience holds us back from celebrating our unity as complete in sacramental terms, until it is complete in faith, Church structure, and common action; but conscience also calls us to move beyond complacency in our divisions, in the power of the Spirit and in a longing for the fulness of Christ’s life-giving presence in our midst.”

There are signs that would tangibly bear witness to our thirst for unity. Celebrating Easter or Pascha together on a common date shouldn’t be so difficult, but we are not there yet, even among Orthodox. In rare years, our dates for Easter do coincide, and this is a great joy for Christianity as a whole. We now have to wait until 2034 before our next unified Pascha. The document “Celebrating Easter/Pascha Together” issued in 2010 raised some excellent questions: “Can the members of our interchurch families celebrate Easter together? Can we prevent the undesirable possibility of a fixed date recurring every year, which would contravene Nicaea, our biblical theology, and our sacred tradition? For the mission of the Church, a common celebration would support the unity we already share and help to build it further in the future.”

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to detail the many encouraging – and yet unknown – themes and documents prepared by the Consultation. One crucial and courageous document is unquestionably the study of the Filioque. From 1999 through 2003, the North American Orthodox-Catholic Consultation has focused its discussions on an issue that has been identified, for more than twelve centuries, as one of the root causes of division between our Churches: our divergent ways of conceiving and speaking about the origin of the Holy Spirit within the inner life of the triune God. When Orthodox and Catholics come together, we need to be able to have the same and identical confession of faith. For us Orthodox, this is a very important step.
These are the fruits of the collaboration between the Committee for Ecumenical Relations of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, and prior to 2010 with the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Allow me here to commend the two co-chairs of the Consultation, His Eminence Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark and His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston for their inspiring leadership.

It is also worth noting that the Consultation works hand in hand with the Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops, which has been meeting annually since 1981.

Ecumenical Challenges and Opportunities

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

Along the historical journey of Orthodox and Catholics towards unity and communion, we have identified spaces where our relations globally, but especially in this blessed country, should encourage and strengthen: a dialogue of charity and truth, an ecumenism of solidarity. Moving forward, we need to acknowledge some of the challenges that our relations are facing. I have identified several challenges that will need to be addressed.

The ecumenical dialogue and the ecumenical movement are going through a crisis, I would say an identity crisis. Some prefer talking about an “ecumenical winter.” The quest for unity has gradually become marginalized. Our religious landscape has profoundly evolved. Our confessional geography has gained in complexity. The Christian landscape is a real mosaic to the point that the articulation between unity and diversity is particularly in danger, and with it our ability to reestablish the link of communion that we desire. Changes and reforms in some Churches and communities have created a new sense of estrangement. Other Churches have embraced a more nationalistic and/or fundamentalist approach.

Furthermore, the legitimacy of institutions is being called into question across societies and nations. Interfaith dialogue has taken on a more important role, especially in a world viewed through the lens of the “clash of civilizations.” We live together but in silos. I would call this crisis “the secular age” of ecumenism, to borrow Charles Taylor’s expression. The relations between our Churches seem to be shaped by today’s culture war. This same culture war coupled with recent geopolitical developments also prevents the Orthodox Church from speaking with one voice. The future of Orthodox-Catholic relations depends on the condition of inter-Orthodox relations. Rev. John Meyendorff, in one of his articles, gives us a wonderful view of today’s situation:

“As the culture of the contemporary world has become universally secular, it is not the medieval model of symbiosis between culture and religion which is applicable, in practical terms, to our situation, but rather the model of early Christianity, when the Church was conscious of its ‘otherness’ and its eschatological mission. Let us remember that it is this consciousness which made the Christian mission truly universal.”

Finally, allow me to speak of a more difficult and painful situation in the life of many of our faithful: the question of mixed or inter-Christian marriages. Allow me to clarify my views on this question, as I remember that my statement back in February of this year at the Leadership 100 Conference generated much controversy. Today, the 63% of marriages that take place in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese are marriages between an Orthodox and a non-Orthodox Christian. These numbers may even be higher because our data does not take into account Greek Orthodox Christians who marry outside of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Inter-Christian or ecumenical couples and families represent a joint pastoral responsibility for our Churches. The issue has been discussed by the Consultation since 1971 and I have been told that its members are currently working on it again. We look forward to reading their new opinion. In the meantime, we have to acknowledge that the conversion of the non-Orthodox Christian member of the couple might never happen for various reasons, and he or she can be more or less involved in the life of their local Orthodox community. However, the non-Orthodox Christian spouse cannot partake in the Holy Eucharist by receiving the body and blood of Christ.

Ecumenical families pay a particularly high price for our divisions. We live our lives without noticing it, while they experience the schism between the Churches every single Sunday. The Eucharist, which the sacrament of unity par excellence, exemplifies our divisions in their eyes. This is an oxymoron. How can we overcome it? Do we do it by practicing oikonomia, pastoral compassion, and accepting a measure allowing the non-Orthodox Christian spouse to receive Holy Communion? Today, in this unique context of Orthodoxy in the diaspora, we are able to examine the issue of Communion, that is contingent on the fact that we allow ecumenical couples to marry. This was not always the case.

It is known that while the early Church discouraged exogamy for religious reasons, she nevertheless tolerated marriages between a Christian and a pagan. Early Christian literature gives evidence that marriages between a Christian and a non-Christian were not rare, although they were problematic. Only when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire was the celebration of such marriages forbidden by the Church. For example, the Council of Laodicea in 343, with its 10th and 31st Canons forbade members of the Church to marry their children to heretics. And here we see that during that time, conversion to Christianity was a precondition for the marriage.

The most explicit Canon regarding this issue is the 72nd Canon of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council in Trullo (692). This particular Canon not only spoke about impediments to mixed marriages, but it also prescribed the sanctions to be applied against those who transgress the rules of the Church.

Today, ecumenical marriages between Orthodox and non-Orthodox are allowed, with the following explicit and sometimes implicit prescriptions, namely that:1) The wedding should be blessed by an Orthodox priest; 2) The couple’s children should be baptized and nurtured in the Orthodox Church; 3) In cases of conflict, the spouses should address themselves to Orthodox ecclesiastical courts .

It is also interesting to note that the two historic Patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch, living as close neighbors with Copts and Syro-Jacobites, because of the social conditions prevailing in this part of the world, and for purely pastoral reasons, signed bilateral agreements with their Oriental sister Churches, regulating ecumenical marriages . In the U.S.A., we are currently working on a similar agreement between the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops and the Standing Conference of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The challenges are very similar across denominations.

The difficulty here is that the treatment of ecumenical families is a local question. However, when it comes to the distribution of Holy Communion this can only be discussed at the synodal level of various Mother Churches. Even the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, convened in Crete in 2016, considered this question as being at the discretion of the autocephalous Churches .

What should we do? What is the perimeter of oikonomia? Marriage is not a precondition for Holy Communion, but baptism and chrismation are. In the daily life of our communities and parishes, there is much to do to serve our ecumenical families, to be more aware of their needs and particularities. The Eucharist is only one aspect, an important one, but still only one response among many others that we should look into. The inclusion of the non-Orthodox spouse is a vital question for the spiritual well-being of the entire family that has been blessed by the blessing of the Church, welcoming all its members into a divine plan, the economy of salvation. In his famous book, Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective, Rev. John Meyendorff reminded us of the perspective and vocation of all marriages towards the Kingdom of God . This idea is also present in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia :
“This realization helps us, amid the aggravations of this present life, to see each person from a supernatural perspective, in the light of hope, and await the fulness that he or she will receive in the heavenly kingdom, even if it is not yet visible.” (par.117)

Perhaps this should help us refocus our pastoral care and mission. Beyond the question of partaking in the Holy Eucharist, are there any other spaces in which to make a marriage Eucharistic in the sense of thanksgiving, acknowledging the special place of our ecumenical families, as living bridges between Sister Churches.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

The Orthodox Church in general and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in particular have been present in various dialogue initiatives, multilateral as well as bilateral, local as well as international. Ecumenical dialogue is such an important part of the Orthodox mission in the world today that it was also discussed during the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, convened in Crete in June 2016. The document on inter-Christian dialogue affirms that:

“The Orthodox Church, which prays unceasingly ‘for the union of all,’ has always cultivated dialogue with those estranged from her, those both far and near. In particular, she has played a leading role in the contemporary search for ways and means to restore the unity of those who believe in Christ, and she has participated in the Ecumenical Movement from its outset, and has contributed to its formation and further development.”

The apostolic faith represented by our Sister Church of Rome is embodied by gestures of brotherly love like this one, a little more than a year ago when His Holiness Pope Francis offered to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople relics of Saint Peter the Apostle in a sign of Church unity. This unexpected gift on the day of Rome’s patronal feast was a powerful message of hope. As Pope Francis said, “The joining of the relics of the two brother Apostles can also serve as a constant reminder and encouragement that, on this continuing journey, our divergences will no longer stand in the way of our common witness and our evangelizing mission in the service of a human family that today is tempted to build a purely secular future, a future without God.”

And I am convinced that the future and mission of Catholic-Orthodox relations in the U.S.A. is to continue bearing witness to God’s presence in the world, faithful to the Spirit of Jerusalem that we received as a legacy.

Thank you for your kind attention!



  1. These are globalists, pure and simple, they will try to deliver the Church to the Antichrist. We have all been warned in the past. ISN’T IT OBVIOUS BY NOW? I had a friend that lived in Poland in the 60s and 70s as a Catholic believer. He said the people on the street knew who the real priests were, and who were the fake ones. You needed to avoid confessing your sins to the fake ones, because they were communist informants. Americans are naive to think this sort of thing couldn’t happen here.

  2. “A division within the Church has never occurred, nor indeed can one take place, while apostasy from the Church has and will continue to occur after the manner of those voluntarily fruitless branches which, having withered, fall away from the eternally living theanthropic Vine—the Lord Christ (John 15:1-6). From time to time, heretics and schismatics have cut themselves off and have fallen away from the one and indivisible Church of Christ, whereby they ceased to be members of the Church and parts of her theanthropic body. The first to fall away thus were the gnostics, then the Arians, then the Macedonians, then the Monophysites, then the Iconoclasts, then the Roman Catholics, then the Protestants, then the Uniates, and so on—all the other members of the legion of heretics and schismatics.”

    St. Justin Popovich, The Attributes of the Church

    • I think the Protestants fell away from the Roman Catholics.
      So, from an Orthodox perspective, they were already separated.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        They don’t care. The truth to them is just a story told to a friend.

      • “I think the Protestants fell away from the Roman Catholics.”

        Some Orthodox get sucked into Protestantism without going through Rome first, so it isn’t incorrect, although the wording could’ve been better.

      • Brendan,
        while my previous book recommendation didn’t go over too well, I will cautiously recommend another, as it touches upon the earliest foundations of Protestantism. A heretical and persecuted group known as the Bogomils. Although the book itself isn’t solely about that. It is entitled,
        Bosnian Phoenix: How Bosnia saved Europe and made possible the modern age, by author Miljan Peter Ilich. 
        A good read for those interested in the history of Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

        • It looks a fascinating book and I am interested.
          At the moment, however, my books-to-read list is huge.
          If I can fit it in, I will. Thanks for the tip.
          Just one thing, however. I am given to understand that Protestant spirit/matter dualism can be just as easily traced back to Augustine as to the Bogomils.

          • I am given to understand that Protestant spirit/matter dualism can be just as easily traced back to Augustine as to the Bogomils.
            On the basis of that one article?
            One might want to read a few thousand pages of Augustine (in Latin, of course) before suggesting such an improbable task. His commentaries on the Psalms and the Fourth Gospel would be a good start.

            • No. The article is one example of such a tracing at work.
              Still, many things are built on readings of Augustine’s theology
              which Augustine himself might not approve.
              Yet he had himself been a dualist in his youth.

              • Yet he had himself been a dualist in his youth.
                Yes, and he spent the next ten years writing extensively against the heresy.
                To accuse the author of the Contra Faustum of dualism illustrates an incomparable, a breath-taking ignorance.
                I have not yet purchased Miljan Peter Ilich’s new book, so I won’t comment until I do. Let me mention, nonetheless, that the influence of the Bogomils on the West is already well-documented and common knowledge. I have several volumes on the subject on a shelf right in front of me, as well as some original sources. (I confess to my failure, however, to read The Book of Good and Evil in the original.)
                On the other hand, if one proposes to treat the magisterial Protestants as heirs of the Cathars, I hope he girds his loins for battle. Off hand, and after a half-century or so of reading Luther and Calvin, I think the task is impossible.

                • Moi: “Yet he had himself been a dualist in his youth.
                  Note the past perfect “had…been“.
                  Toi (1): “Yes, and he spent the next ten years
                  writing extensively against the heresy.”
                  Well noted.
                  Toi (2): “To accuse the author of the Contra Faustum of dualism illustrates an incomparable, a breath-taking ignorance.”
                  How quickly you forget.
                  And it’s goodbye to you too.

                • Would you please list some books you have on Bogomils.
                  Thank you!

                  • Thank you, Ana, for the inquiry.
                    Since you ask —
                    A. P. Smith, The Lost Teachings of the Cathars: Their Beliefs and Practices
                    P. Brockett, The Bogomils of Bulgaria and Bosnia: The Early Protestants of the East
                    Stephen O’Shea, The Perfect Heresy: The Life and Death of the Cathars
                    I also have an English translation of some primary sources, called The Cathar Bible
                    I have a few other titles that are not in front of me at the moment, as well as a second and different translation of The Book of Good and Evil that should be on this same shelf.
                    I feel singularly stupid in even mentioning these matters, Ana, because my ignorance of the history of the Palatinate churches is pretty much total. Besides, I don’t even read Armenian, or Bulgarian, or the other languages essential to this study. Anything I say about this, consequently, must be tentative in the extreme. This is not my field (if I even have a field).
                    When authors describe the Bogomil/Cathar churches as “early Protestantism,” that can only mean, I think, that they were early examples of organized and doctrinal resistance to the Orthodox Catholic faith and hierarchy. The teachings of these churches, as far as I can tell, contained not a shred of the great, distinctive, and important themes of the 16th century Reformation.
                    Very much the same is true of the Hussites, who also are often called “early Protestants.” (I have been to the Hussite churches in Prague and Rome, and, in fact, they do seem rather Protestant in worship and ethos.) If one compares the distinctive theologies of Jan Hus and Martin Luther, however, to say nothing of Calvin’s Institutes, these are very different; indeed, on the question of Justification, Hus and Luther are utterly opposite. (Again, I am limited to Latin and German sources. I do not read Czech.)
                    Anyway, everybody agrees that the Bogomil churches, and their direct successors the Albigensian, were dualist. To this extent, they are emphatically NOT early Protestants. No one can read Luther’s Lectures on Genesis, for example, or very much of Calvin, and accuse such men of the heresy of Dualism. 
                    For all I know, there may have been this or that Protestant sect that slipped into Dualism, but not the magisterial Reformers. The idea is preposterous.
                    On this thread, alas, we were recently referred to some on-line article that claimed to trace the Dualism of Protestantism back to the Dualism of St. Augustine! How in the world! There are no words to describe such insanity. It is something on the order tracing Father Hopko’s theory of electricity back to Chrysostom’s theory of electricity. The head spins.
                     Neither St. Augustine nor the major Reformers were dualists. Indeed, on the subject of Creation they were all deeply indebted to Irenaeus, who wrote the Church’s first great treatise against Dualism.
                    Anyway, dear, you’ve probably grown weary with all this. Thanks again.

                    • Thank you Father Patrick for your clarification and extended answer. 

                    • William Tighe says

                      On a more popular level, but written by a great and prodigiously learned historian, is Sir Steven Runciman’s <i> The Medieval Manichee: A Study of the Christian Dualist Heresy </i> (1947: Cambridge University Press).

    • “Among the many great Orthodox theologians from these regions who have shaped today’s Orthodox Church, I think it is worth mentioning here the brilliant personality of Fr. John Meyendorff who was, as you all know, a full professor at Fordham University, in addition to being the Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, and also one of the pioneers of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue in the U.S.A. Fr. Meyendorff exemplified how scholarship and theology can serve the mission and vocation of the Church in its quest for unity.”

      Couldn’t besmirch the man’s repuation more if they tried.

      • ROMAN CATHOLICISM IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH: Abp Alexander of the OCA served (still serves?) on the Assembly of Bishops (called different names) Orthodox Catholic Dialogue Committee for decades (and worked at a Catholic institution) and those signed statements are worth reading to understand exactly how long this process has been going on in the OCA.  

        LONG DEVIATION FROM PATRISTIC ORTHODOXY: Fr Seraphim Rose and others steeped in the Patristic Tradition including then living Saints understood the massive deviations in Constantinople and then in our country.  Unless we study them, we will remain ignorant and part of the problem.  Fr Seraphim’s enlightening and vital Orthodox Survival Course is available on line.  Fr Peter Heers’ courses as well.  Hope some folks will avail themselves if you do not believe yet…

        Fr Seraphim’s appreciation of the devastating effect of industrialization on general as well as spiritual community life and faith is all too clear now.  Our present urban isolation from one another and from the fruits of raising our own crops so we were not dependent on others far away but interdependent  with our neighbors whom we knew ~ well look what happens when we become a number in a crowd and pollute our own planet with plastic because we don’t have our own cows for milk, etc.   Back to the land for sure!  

        • Michael Bauman says

          Back to the land.  It is hard, hard work.  My Dad when he was 5 lived in a sod hut with his mother and father and older brother as they homesteaded 160 acres in the high plains of eastern New Mexico.  An arid, near desert.  Yet people still live there surrounded by lots of space. My grandfather and the family did dry land farming and my dad hunted rabbit pelts to sell back east. As a young teen he sat on the back of his horse with a .22 rifle and a Coleman lantern at dusk. He had to shoot the rabbit dead in the eye not to reduce the value of the pelt.  If he missed one, it cost his family money they needed to survive.  He could still do it 50 years later when he taught my brother and me to shoot a gun-coring the bullseye on a .22 five spot target from 25 yards with only an iron site. A target that I could barely see.  We never hunted and I learned my first swear words watching my father work on our little garden plot.  He soon abandoned it.  There was no longer a necessity.

          Just be careful in thinking too romantically.  

          Yet, he encountered God on those vast, arid plains that led him to develop a profound philosophy of the inter-connectedness of all things that powered his work in the public health arena that was unique. 

          That same philosophy that my  brother and I found fulfillment of in the Orthodox Church.

          It is not just the land to which we must return but to the worship of our Incarnate Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ–everywhere present, filling all things and calling all to Him.  As we allow Him to heal us in repentance and worship, the land will be healed.  Otherwise…..

          • Thank you for sharing experience Michael!  Agree Michael that life on the land is hard for sure.  From what I know, I’d rather be country poor than urban poor in a heartbeat though.  Growing up half in the country (natural air and firewood, ie, no AC or heat) and half in the city (all the urban advantages) there was a wonderful contrast for me.  And I came to value greatly the Czech Catholic farm community in our area and the beauty of relationship to God, land and one another and the lack of pretense which shone through.  They worked very very hard and had no time for the passions, temptations, and vanities of our urban existence.   Because of them, I sought out similar folks.  Where did I find them?  First at at a Catholic med school with faculty mentors and students dedicated to helping the poor, then in the RC pro-life pre-Vatican Council parishioners, and then in the Orthodox Church.  I am not surprised therefore at the wisdom and beauty of moving into the countryside with a little plot of land near an Orthodox monastery.  Would if I could!  

  3. I pray that Bart and Elpi and any other hierarch, clergy, monastic or layman…make quick work of uniting with the Roman Catholics (if they so wish) so that the rest of us can strive for the narrow path in the one holy catholic and apostolic Church…the holy Orthodox Church.

  4. Michael Bauman says

    For all those interested in history and technology and how they intersect I highly recommend an essay by the great American historian, Henry Adams titled ‘The Law of Phase as Applied to History’  It is in a collection of his essays: “The Degradation of the Democratic Dogma”.   Remarkably prescient for a piece written not long after the Civil War.   Read and discuss

  5. Christine Fevronia says

    Good Lord, could 2020 get more strange???

  6. Good Speech.  I wonder who wrote it.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Someone who is bound to unite us with Rome.

      • Gail,
        What you mean “we”, paleface?
        I have no objection to Rome abandoning its heresies and returning to the Church, but I do not believe that the Church of Russia, and most definitely not its province in ROCOR, are remotely contemplating a Unia, regardless of the plans of the Phanar.  In fact, that is the tension.  
        Constantinople does not have the authority to unite “us” with Rome if by “us” we mean the Orthodox Church.  What he has the power, but not authority, to do is to break off the Greek led local churches from the Body of Christ and unite them with the heretical confession that calls itself the “Roman Catholic Church”.  

        • Gail Sheppard says

          We’ll not us! Talking about the Orthodox who support this nonsense, which seemingly includes members of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops. – Rome has not indicated they are going to abandoned anything. The Pope is calling it “diversity with unity” which means “take me as I am,” heresies and all.

          It’s a “it’s your thing, do what you wanna do” kind of affair. – Hey, we’re hearing from the next next Patriarch, here!

          How do you know I’m “pale?” (George keeps telling me I have to go out in the sun.)

          • Who exactly do they think is going to go along with them? The 3,000 Greeks left in Istanbul? Even the majority of Eastern Orthodox in Turkey are not Istanbul Greeks…they are either Antiochian Orthodox in Hatay or Russian Orthodox living in Turkey. 
            I would imagine a solid minority/majority of GOARCH parishes will not be joining in (don’t forget a lot of GOARCH parishes are conservative in spite of the bishops), the monasteries wont join either. The Greek Archdiocese of Australia is decidedly more conservative than its American counterpart so I would imagine they are out, even if they are also solidly more “Greeky”. And there is no way that even a majority of Greeks in Greece would join. At best they take a small portion of the EP to Rome. 
            I think sometimes we give the Patriarchate of Constantinople too much credit and think they have more of a far reach than they actually do. Aside from Pat. Bartholomew, Abp. Elpidophoros, and a handful of other hierarchs, the majority of the laity seem to be decidedly more ”orthodox” in their Orthodoxy. 

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I agree with you, Petros.

            • Petros,
              The Ukraine debacle is designed to be a litmus test.  Whoever recognizes the OCU is by so doing compromised canonically and probably dogmatically as well.  Constantinople’s actions are clearly uncanonical and Bartholomew’s assertion of the power to raise unordained persons to hierarchical status is unprecedented, even for Rome if I’m not mistaken.
              So the Greek local churches of Greece, Alexandria and Cyprus that have or will have signed off on this atrocity will have indicated thereby that they are game for the move to Rome.  Russia has already excommunicated Greece and Alexandria and the rest of the canonical Church will have to follow in time.  It’s the perfect gauntlet for a contemplated Unia.

            • MomofToddler says

              If people ( a lot of them) are willing to approach the Holy Mysteries with multiple spoons, cleansing of the spoon with everclear, not kissing icons, etc, why would these same people have any trouble following the bishops to Rome.  Many have shown they are about blind obedience (almost like papism but to a bishop) and perhaps changing their Sunday routine pre-Covid as little as possible no matter what.  I wish I was as optimistic as you about this. 

          • George Michalopulos says

            FWIW, her cheeks are rosy-red.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              “No longer could I doubt him true–
              All other men may use deceit;
              He always said my eyes were blue,
              And often swore my lips were sweet.”
                    Walter Savage Landor 😉

          • Petros,
            The Ukraine debacle is designed to be a litmus test.  Whoever recognizes the OCU is by so doing compromised canonically and probably dogmatically as well.  Constantinople’s actions are clearly uncanonical and Bartholomew’s assertion of the power to raise unordained persons to hierarchical status is unprecedented, even for Rome if I’m not mistaken.
            So the Greek local churches of Greece, Alexandria and Cyprus that have or will have signed off on this atrocity will have indicated thereby that they are game for the move to Rome.  Russia has already excommunicated Greece and Alexandria and the rest of the canonical Church will have to follow in time.  It’s the perfect gauntlet for a contemplated Unia.

            BTW, no one has to “sign off” on anything. If the hierarchs of these churches begin concelebrating, the deed is done. The burden would be on the laity to leave their parish churches, including their property.

            Gail, the “paleface” is the punchline to the old joke about the Lone Ranger and Tonto surrounded by hostile Indians.  “What are we gonna do now, Tonto?”  Tonto’s answer says it all.

  7. “The apostolic faith represented by our Sister Church of Rome” ~ heretical much?

    Pope Francis, PB and AE are in concert with the Fordhamites.  All has been developing for some time.  Fr Seraphim Rose in the 20th century and Fr Peter Heers in the 21st are among those North Americans who have commented wisely on this phenomenon.  

    It will be interesting to see how GOA priests will respond.   Will they insist on “obedience” despite the clear teaching of and example of the Saints about defending Orthodoxy from heresy and heretics?  

    Praying the Traditional RCs will expel their libertines on their journey back to the Patristic Orthodox Church and those Orthodox deluded by ecumenism, Fordhammites and secularism will be enlightened and return to the Patristic Orthodox Church.  

    Thank God Fr Peter’s new Orthodox Ethos classes on Patreon begin October 6.  If only AE would sign up.  “Suicide of the Liberals” in full view a la Gary Morson’s First Things articles. If only it did not describe some key clergy and hierarchs in our beloved Orthodox Church.
    God help us and the deluded in our midst.

  8. Christopher McAvoy says

    Yes, be prepared for endless surprises. The digital dollar will be attempted next as was announced by the federal reserve conference today. Endless attempts at new systems of control bringing mockery of God and destruction toward mankind shall pass forth during this next year. They must be crushed and overturned one after the other. Many people must persevere with suffering and courageous sacrifice to follow the will of God to overcome the devil. Many will die, many will live. Christ shall be glorified.

  9. …and of course…since he hasn’t done it in a while…king Bart had to blast the Russian Orthodox Church again. His union with the RC’s can’t happen fast enough for me.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I feel the same way. He needs to do it so we can go our own way. The sooner the better.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Having said all that, the sheer, utter gracelessness of any bishop speaking like this is a moral affront to me and the way I was raised. My beloved mother taught us “If you can’t find something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all”.

        It grieves me that Bartholomew insults people in such a fashion.

        Of course, what this means is that he’s lost control of the situation. Usually at the global, apex-level of leadership, the top dogs or their direct underlings speak in coded, discreet words (Trump excepted) or pose in various gestures to convey messages. Kind of like when Ted Kennedy died: there were only a few priests in attendance (Vaticanese way of saying he was not a good exemplar) or Kremlinese (like when the Soviet poobahs would stand on Lenin’s tomb).

        What the EP did was petulant; it served no purpose and exposed the fact that he was not speaking from a position of strength.

  10. Today, Thursday 24 September  Elpi thinks he can garner assistance from Mike Pompao? He should have thought of the consequences before marching alongside BLM and speaking at the Democrat National Convention. 

  11. Not one mention of papal supremacy. I agree with you Gene. All globalists who have no problem with secular supremacy. Are we to follow God’s will or should God follow our will? When reading this I felt like Archbishop was describing a different religion, Vatican Twoism. I hoped to leave that behind when I converted to Orthodoxy but the spirit of the antichrist is everywhere!

  12. Michael Bauman says

    For those who are interested:
    Fellowship of St. Moses the Blacklinking Ancient African Christianity and the African ¬American Experience
    2020 Conference
    Our 27th annual conference: October 9-10, 2020
    “Where there is no vision, the people perish:
    but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
    Join us via Zoom for the 27th Annual Ancient Christianity and African American Conference.Register Here: Conference fee: $20 (covers all Zoom webinars and the pre-conference fellowship)

    • Thank you Michael!  Have you tuned in to previous ones?  Ie, Do you and Fr Moses endorse it as a Conference this year?   I’m too vulnerable to the disappointment of finding yet another formerly splendid project compromised by the spirit of the present age, so trying to tune in only to uplifting Truth.  If you see and then recommend it this year, I’m in!  

      • Michael Bauman says

        Nicole, given the list of speakers, several of whom I know personally and others whom I know some of their stories, I have no problem at all recommending it.
        I also know the history of the organization.  
        Let me highlight one: Mother Katherine Weston.  She is a monastic under Serbia. She sang, before we became Orthodox, at my first wedding. She has a depth of soul that is extraodinary to behold.  I have read some things she has written. They are challenging to my self-righteousness and complacency but not political.  Fr. Stephen Freeman is also a speaker.  I would go anywhere to listen to him
        On top of that my brother is still involved in the organizing.  His Bishop is Metropolitan Joseph, Patriarchal Bulgarian probably the best formed Bishop we have in this country.  If you follow this link   you can see pictures of him at my brother’s parish and read his addresses.
        Solid all.  Be at peace.  The only agenda will be the truth.
        Father Steven Freeman’s blog Glory to God For All Things is an island of sanity.

  13. I would not waste much time on the rantings of heterodox wannabe Uniates like Abp. Elpi.  They will depart in good time and thereby increase the average level of piety in both confessions.
    Glory to God for all things.

  14. Anonymous II says

    This article may really reveal the historical and political prism through which the Globalists see us…
    “America is the Holy Roman Empire”:
    Very thought-provoking. 

  15. Fr. David Hovik says

    “We must not mind insulting men if by respecting them we offend God.” St. John Chrysostom

  16. George Michalpulos says

    AnonII, thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will attempt to disembowel its Wilsonian heresies shortly.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Ah……the myth of PROGRESS. All must be sacrificed on the that bloody neo-pagan altar of which Woodrow Wilson is one of the architects

  17. Looks like he’s backed down from his February announcement. “However, the non-Orthodox Christian spouse cannot partake in the Holy Eucharist by receiving the body and blood of Christ.” GOArch priests must have pushed back. 

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Further down he says, “The Eucharist is only one aspect, an important one, but still only one response among many others that we should look into. The inclusion of the non-Orthodox spouse is a vital question for the spiritual well-being of the entire family that has been blessed by the blessing of the Church, welcoming all its members into a divine plan, the economy of salvation.”

      • Yes, gibberish about “looking into” Communion as part of “vital question” of “inclusion” – whatever that means. 

        • Those who are in the Church are ‘in the Church’.
          Those who are not are, well, ‘not in the Church’.
          I am amazed at how such a simple distinction
          could escape this sophisticated archbishop.

        • “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.””The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.””The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

  18. Here are two tales of ‘Making New Plans’ from Ukraine.
    Both should be read together, but try not to laugh – or weep.–eks-deputat

    • Gail Sheppard says

      There were many agendas wrapped up in the issuance of the Tomos:

      – Unity with Rome through the Unia
      – Securing Bartholomew’s contention that he is first without equal and, therefore, he can do whatever he wants without the support of his brother bishops
      – Money received from Poroshenko to help offset the St. Nicholas boondoggle that somehow never made it there

      Ukrainian Nationalists
      – Sticking it to the Russians
      – Opportunity to inflict violence on the canonical Church

      03. United States State Department
      – Isolating Russia in an attempt to usher in NATO

      – Ostracizing Filaret
      – Replacing the canonical Metropolitan of Kiev and all of Ukraine

      – Possible victory in upcoming election
      – Confiscation of property via bogus laws created by Rada to re-register names

      • “There were many agendas wrapped up in the issuance of the Tomos”
        Interestingly, following Christ does not seem to be one of them.

  19. Fr. David Hovik says

    The “Pandemic” or whatever it was is OVER!!!

  20. RE “NEW PLANS”: Does anyone know if the ROC and/or ROCOR are planning to object to church closure and/or imposition of masks, not kissing icons if not closed ~ IF the Russian Government and USA governments respectively insist on it?

    Since the idea is being floated and is quite likely if Biden/Harris win, I am trying to prepare myself.  This spring I have never been so shocked/horrified/dismayed  as I was by ROCOR’s initial response and failure to understand and defend the Patristic view of the Temple.   I really need the full spiritual medicine of the Orthodox Church and thus far ROCOR is the only jurisdiction allowing it in the US.   (The Elder Ephraim monasteries are thus far but I’m not near.). So the thought of losing that again is distressing, the worse part of COVID for me anyway. I pray at least ROCOR will instead walk as the Orthodox Church of old and bring their myrrh-streaming icons to lead walks around neighborhoods and call for prayers of repentance, etc. and proclaim the beliefs of our faith, put in action about the spiritual and physical health necessity/essential nature of our worship in the Temple. And all that goes with our glorious Tradition when disease or events threaten!

    I am hoping the spring was a “learning experience” for ROCOR, never to be repeated. However, want to prepare.  Any ROC or ROCOR reassurance would be appreciated.  

    Thank you in Christ,
    On the eve of the Exaltation of the Precious Cross (OS).  

    • I was also disappointed and shocked that many (not all) ROCOR parishes and monasteries followed the other jurisdictions in drinking the kool-aid. I think the monastery in West Virginia and the cathedral in NYC are still mandating masks for the laity (I’m not sure about kissing icons and other such mandates). The beautiful Church in San Francisco which houses the holy relics of St. John Maximovitch still has directives that read like a Soviet novel. I am sure that St. John is not pleased. I truly thought that ROCOR would not fall for any of these Marxist vice grips…but alas…my hopes were crushed. Like you, I am praying that it was a learning experience for them. However, I am still waiting for that Bishop to lead us out of the wilderness.

      • Thank you Mikhail. It helps not to feel or be alone in this.  I am still processing the September 2/15 letter from the ROCOR bishop read in our service today. Seems so different in understanding from what I learned.  I am feeling ever more grateful for my teachers in the Faith.  

        • Thyateira and GB (or the Office of the Chancellor) has spoken.
          Here is the text of an email circulating from thence:
          “Beloved in the Lord,
          We draw your attention to various unfounded rumours circulating on the internet that the threat of the coronavirus is a so-called lie and therefore protective measures are supposedly unnecessary and restrictive of our personal freedom.
          The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID19) poses a real threat and, as official figures show, claims many lives daily.
          It is indeed very dangerous not to obey the government’s guidelines and observe and implement these protective measures because we are responsible not only for the danger to our own health but also for the harm we cause to others by our own selfishness.
          The guidelines given to us by the government, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Archdiocese must be observed to the letter. We must set a good example, fully implementing these protective measures to all those who behave irresponsibly and pose a potential threat to wider society.
          Therefore, please disregard these unfounded rumors and do not help the spread of such dangerous messages directly or indirectly. Help to convince young people in particular that they should behave responsibly as mature citizens for the greater good of our society.
          From the Office of the Chancellor”
          Interestingly, according to the EUROMOMO figures, there have been no excess deaths in Scotland since week 22. We are now entering week 40. So, unless there is a huge upsurge in late death reports for weeks 38 and 39, it seems perfectly reasonable to argue that there is no pandemic in Scotland.

          • MomofToddler says

            Can you please clarify who wrote the letter?  Is it from a ROCOR diocese?  I am aware of a ROCOR priest that sent out a slanderous letter about Fr. Peter Heers in the spirit of the OCA, just to his parish and it sounds quite similar to this.  I could already tell he was “liberal” though so I wasn’t shocked.   (I have the letter in my inbox still).  With parks opening up again where I live, and my children having the possibility of running around happily with other children again after 6 months, I am feeling naively positive about life right now, but if this letter is from ROCOR, things are obviously not good.

            • I have no idea who wrote it. It was copied to me by the
              “Governance Administrator” of my Parish with the following preamble:

              Dear compatriots and/or congregants,
              I have been asked by the Office of the Chancellor of our Holy Archdiocese to forward the below message to as many members of our community as possible.”
              ‘Thyateira and Great Britain’ is not under ROCOR.
              It is an Archdiocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

            • “Thyateira and GB” that is the Constantinople Archdiocese in the UK, not ROCOR.

            • MomofToddler, while I know from past postings that you had a bad experience in your old parish, you can’t judge a tree by one or two bad apples. So, when you make statements like, “I am aware of a ROCOR priest that sent out a slanderous letter about Fr. Peter Heers in the spirit of the OCA,” it really doesn’t sound very fair to the rest of clergy and laity in the OCA that actually respect and read Fr. Peter’s writings. You’re going to find bad apples everywhere—the AOCA and ROCOR not being immune either.
              I know that the OCA has not really been the greatest in leading her faithful during this current crisis, but most Orthodox groups in the U.S. haven’t been entirely spectacular either. (My own bishop has admitted how he has badly stumbled—and for people to please pray for him.) So, let’s just all pray that our bishops can shake off the rust and start leading us out of this dark tunnel.

              • MomofToddler says

                Sorry, I should have said Diocese of the South OCA.  I don’t know very much about the other Dioceses.

                Which bishop admitted he made a mistake?

                Also, does your bishop now allow you to kiss icons and take communion as usual?

                • MomofToddler, no worries. My parish is not in the OCA’s Diocese of the South, but in one of the more traditional and stable dioceses. My bishop does allow us to kiss and venerate the icons; though, after services are over, we disinfect the glass over them (the icons). And communion has always been the usual way—no multiple spoons like in some sections of the GOA. Though, the one aspect that I’d like to see disappear are those silly face masks. But at this point, I’ll gladly except that for some sort of normalcy.  

            • Dear Mom of Toddler and Brendan: I asked Fr Peter’s team to send the actual scandalous along letter about him (similar to the OCA letter with Abp approval) or simply the jurisdiction to me but probably out of their excellent Christian response, they would not. It is VERY important to me to know what jurisdiction the priest was in and whether he was reprimanded or approved. I would really like to see the actual letter itself in your inbox Mom of Toddler if you wouldn’t mind sending to Gail. I just can’t risk giving out my email due to the need to keep hackers out or I would! Or if you want to post the letter or info on the OE site which is subscriber only, maybe that would be another way. If Brendan is speaking of the same letter, that would be a comfort since expect the EP folks to speak that way, sadly. Thanks to both of you for helping me solve this mystery…

              • PS or Gail please give my email address to M of T if she wishes!

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  Will send tomorrow.

                  • Thank you Gail and Mom of T. I have appointment Wed at 10 am with my ROCOR priest to discuss these issues if possible to get article to me ahead. Know how busy you are.  As it seems good to the Lord.   

              • Nicole, the email I quoted is not an attack on any particular person. It is a response to a particular perceived state of affairs concerning a virus. My point it that the reponse is not justified by the actual state of affairs.
                It has nothing whatever to do with Fr Peter Heers.

              • MomofToddler says

                Hi Nicole, I just reviewed the letter again…and it is about Fr. Peter Heer’s video contents without actually naming him.  It was not a widely known letter sent to a small mission parish which who knows how many people are paying attention, etc. so I don’t think really anyone has seen it.  The contents of the letter were definitely leaning towards that anyone that questions the narrative is a conspiracy theorist.  

                • Thanks Mom of Toddler.  Abp Alexander of the OCA DOS wrote a public letter against people espousing what Orthodox Ethos/Father Peter is teaching. His eminence spoke dismissively of this teaching and quoted/lauded a critique of by an anonymous priest on an official website (discussed here a few months back).  Is that the letter to which you are referring?  

                  Yes I too was chrismated in the OCA DOS and the approach exemplified by that letter  is unlike all I learned earlier and experienced with Vladika Dmitri of thrice-blessed memory, so I am hoping for a rebirth of the DOS he founded by Vladika Dmitri’s prayers and healing of my parish church which holds his relics.  Hopefully many DOS priests who are “sons of Dmitri” privately still believe in the Holy FAthers and Church tradition..  They are in a difficult position. I respect and love everyone in the OCA I know, but weep for the grievous changes from above.

                  Since the unOrthodox/unPatristic response to COVID  by the AOB, out of respect for God and for the parish priest and self-respect I have been attending a ROCOR parish which is in the Chicago Diocese and which presently allows us to worship and fully honor the Divine Energies present in the Temple by our traditional behavior.

                   I have no wish to debate. I pray for all to be enlightened by reading and trying to live by the Holy Fathers with the humility that Fr Seraphim Rose did as well as the Saints. If the Corinthians needed St. Paul et al to guide and straighten them out, no surprise we need their successors the Holy Fathers (not academics) for same.  That’s why I am keen to hear from ROCOR priests that they believe in the Divine Energies in the Temple as Orthodox Ethos and the Fathers convey. And grateful for my Patristic priests who have taught from the Holy Fathers and Church Tradition so that I have access to the “full medicine” of our Holy Orthodox Church. The pearl of great price in my life which I pray all will find. Father Peter’s courses are a good start. Come and see.

                  • MomofToddler says

                    Unfortunately, the letter I am referring to was from a ROCOR priest in Chicago diocese.  I did send it on to George and Gail for you.

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

          I can assure you, Nicole and Mikhail, that not all ROCOR churches have thrown in the towel, as it were, after the first or second round. (That’s a boxing metaphor!)

        • MomofToddler says

          Nicole, is the Bishop’s letter posted somewhere we can read it?  (Not sure which bishop you mean).  What did it say?

        • Hi Nicole,
          I just saw the letter to which you referred. I only have one word.  ANAXIOS! This is the antithesis of the way I have come to love and respect the jurisdiction of ROCOR. I pray that not all the other bishops and clergy and monastics are of the same mindset as him.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Nicole, God’s blessings be with you.   I saw a beautiful moment this morning. A young man with his toddler son approached the icon of the Theotokos in our Narthex to venerate it.  Unmasked. He held his son forward so his son could kiss the top right corner and then he kissed the top left. After Liturgy I went up to him and told him that his veneration with his son had really touched me. He uncomfortably shrugged and said, “That is what we do.” 
      We also had a monk visiting our Bishop. He did not have a mask.  He had been here 25 years ago and stayed quite awhile.  
      In my parish we have a lot of icons high up that I have long venerated and never been able to kiss. One of Blessed Joseph of the Old Testament.  His feet are at least 20 feet off the ground.  Since I do not have the gift of levitation I have never been able to kiss him yet I have venerated him for a long time. My veneration is no less complete.
      While receiving communion frequently is the current practice, that has not always been the case.   Especially in situations not under our control, His Grace will be sufficient. I learned this personally when I had a nine month period of penance where I could not approach the Cup.  My obedience alone, even though I disagreed with the penance, acted as a channel of grace so I lost nothing.  
      God provides so we lack nothing.   “Be of good cheer for He has overcome the world”
      Every single act of devotion any where in the world is interconnected with us.  That is the way the universe is made.  The full medicine is always available.  

      • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

        RE: “Every single act of devotion any where in the world is interconnected with us.  That is the way the universe is made.  The full medicine is always available.”

        Michael, that eloquent observation is eminently quotable!

        • Michael Bauman says

          Father, it is a gift from my parents and the driving force behind why my brother and I became Orthodox.  The Orthodox Church for all of our sins and flaws is the only Christian body that is built on that reality.

      • Joseph,
        You could not kiss the Icon because it was out of reach. Many faithful Orthodox cannot kiss Icons that are within reach because their hierarchs are forcing them to be iconoclasts. There are times when we must be obedient to our hierarchs…but not when they tell us to do things that are opposed to the faith of our fathers.

        • Yes. 

        • Sorry. I was addressing Michael…not Joseph.

        • Michael Bauman says

          “To do the right deed for the wrong reason is surely the greatest treason” T. S Eliot Murder in the Cathedral.  It is how Becket rejects the tempter who suggests marytrdom to glorify himself rather than God.  
          I was in that play as a freshman in college. That line hit me hard and lodged in my heart becoming a part of my conversion.  
          Obedience too must be for the right reason. 
          When done for the right reason both the kissing and not kissing will glorify God.  
          I disobeyed my priest to marry my lovely wife outside the Church–not out of self will but because I knew God had brought us together.  I obeyed the penance of my Bishop for the same reason.  God’s grace was sufficient in both cases and now my Bishop says with conviction our marriage is blessed by God.  
          His mercy endures forever.
          To kiss or not to kiss, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them.
          Hamlet vacillated and pondered struggling with his own will and thus participated in a bloody ending.
          I sense much the same thing in those struggling with the question.  Remember my fellow parishoner. He kissed with his his son even though we are directed not to.  Only God and I witnessed what he did. His reason “That is what we do.”
          I rather doubt he agonized over his decision and he was embarressed  that anyone else saw. 
          If you doubt, do not kiss. If you kiss do not make a spectacle of it for other people to see. If you do not kiss, fear not, giving thanks to God for His mercy.
          Allow God to give the increase. 

          • Many died during the Iconoclast heresy. They spilled blood so that we could properly venerate (kiss) Icons.
            My spiritual father tells me to kiss the Icons, kiss the priest’s hand cross and his hand, receive communion with one spoon, and try to find a parish where I do not have to wear a mask, be contact traced, or have my temperature taken. I am obedient to him. Thank God I found a parish where I can practice this obedience.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Profound words, Michael. I’ve often wondered what Hamlet’s soliloquy meant, in the broader scheme of things. Now, I think I know.

          • “He who seeks to save his life shall lose it . . .”
            I suppose it doesn’t do much good at this point but, for what it’s worth, it should be reiterated:
            It’s just the flu.
            Overreacting to normal flu season events is a political statement of opposition to the Trump Administration.  The masks are symbols of the resistance.  The idea being he is toxic.  
            That’s the bottom of the psychological well upon which we are floating.  And it has to be this bad until he is no longer in office.
            It is upon that basis that civil liberties are being rampantly violated and clergy have closed churches and are telling their flocks not to venerate or to kiss the priests hand.  
            The emperor is buck naked.  This year is not materially different than years passed.  The numbers have been thoroughly cooked and are only of very, very marginal significance.
            It’s a hoax.  Pure and simple.
            Now, I am tempted to call every last one of the complacent clergy a miserable, insufferable coward at this point, but I don’t think it would do much good and I’m not sure it is completely accurate.
            We don’t know what is going to happen after the election.  That is up to God and the free will of the American people.  If Trump wins, I suspect many will repent of their obsequious behavior during this period while others will take refuge in pride and never admit error.
            Yet the possibility does admit of a Trump loss.  That would be a moral failure before God of the American people.  But they have done worse.  And in that event, it may prove convenient for our clerics to have heeded government guidelines on distancing, masks and casual contact in the crystalized Orwellian political climate that is even now developing.  Russians are as keenly aware of this as any people having been through a communist revolution and the recriminations which followed.
            Still, as an American, my instincts tell me that the time to reject Covid “precautions” is now and from the first time that it appeared clear that the whole thing was a politically engineered hyperbolic tactic against the Trump Administration.  One should not reward wicked people by playing along with their nefarious schemes.  It only encourages, enables and empowers them.

  21. A step genuinely heading the US to become one is now in if full gear, with Trump’ superb supreme court choice. He is very committed to successful nomination. Also, Alabama has passed a law making abortion doctoring illegal  a felony in all instances. This will become the supreme court chance to overturn Rose v wade. Breath to new free air in a repentant America. If the godless demoncrats somehow stop the successful Trump nomination. May the Truth have mercy on us. We are all created equal in the image of God, with the first right, being the right to life. The Holy Just, God will requite the innocent blood.

  22. Patriarch Bartholomew and too many of the clergy under Constantinople devote a lot of time at seeking union with Catholic Rome. If these clergy could show the same love, commitment, compromise and attention to seeking union with Orthodox Moscow, the Orthodox Church would be operating at 100% efficiency . In other words, the Good News  will be preached unto all ends of the earth. Time to reread your job descriptions, O clergy of Constantinople.

  23. Peter,
    “….or find another job….”

  24. George, a few months ago you shared a post regarding Kanye West’s converion to Christianity. Well, today Mr West appears more Orthodox than the EP…no kidding! Not only is he speaking out against abortion and democrats, supporting Trump and mentioning Christ with more sincerity than Elpidophoros, Kanye is now posting Orthodox icons. This is actually refreshing.

    • MomofToddler says

      He is inconsistent and confused about some things (and associates with health and wealth mega pastors) but I agree that it is not a stretch to say he is more Orthodox than the EP.

      • Agreed MomofToddler. Per his wife snd celebrity friends he seems to suffer from bipolar disorder which unfortunately lessens his effectiveness with some.   

    • Kanye is probably being influenced by the Armenian monophysites.  His wife is Armenian, and they had their child baptized in Jerusalem by the Armenians.  Even though they use icons, it’s heretical Christianity, so it’s not actually Orthodox.

  25. There have been a series of earthquakes that have struck Mt. Athos, perhaps God is trying to tell them something: 

  26. Apologies Gail and Mom of Toddler. I thought I posted the article earlier but it didn’t “take.” It is from the Chicago Diocese of ROCOR by their Archbishop dated September 2/15. I’ll try to post the link here or if not in the next “comment.”

  27. “Spiritual Guidance in the Quarantine::

    • MomofToddler says

      I’m curious how others feels about the letter.  It sounds like he is saying one can participate virtually in a sacramental service if they are afraid to come to church, but it would be better in person?  Fasting before watching something on the television doesn’t sit well with me.  I know some Antiochian churches have taken this tone too with virtual participation.  If one is going to watch, wearing pajamas doesn’t sounds good either, but the other extreme of treating virtual like the real thing also seems unusual. 

      • Dear Mom of Toddler on Abp. Peter and the ROCOR priest letter:

        Abp Peter:
        Yes I agree with you that he seems to be hoping folks will come back to Church and not get into the habit of TV watching but without specifying that experiencing the Divine Energies or Heaven on earth in the Temple and worshipping the All Holy Trinity and all the Saints in our midst there during services in a unique and holy way are the reason we need to be there!!!   The western perspective of any devout Orthodox hierarch or priest trying to serve both Orthodoxy and the CDC or the government  is really costing them and twisting them into knots whether they realize it or not.  Having not stood up for the services as necessary and essential and apparently not understanding why or even that they should have in retrospect, they are in a bind to get those who received their message (that it is not essential or necessary) back in Church.  

        ROCOR priest letter:
        Thank you also  for the letter from the ROCOR priest which Gail forwarded to me today.  He actually disagreed with an interviewee of Fr Peter specifically but then did NOT take on Fr Peter’s actual teaching at all, having dismissed him as a source of info (much as the MSM do in our liberal politic climate and as Abp Alexander of the OCA did in his missive).    That tactic is not Orthodox.  Vladika Dmitri would have disagreed dispassionately point by point without branding the person of someone as a crank or not worth heeding. His respectful disagreement and clear separation of person from issue won many over to Orthodoxy in fact. This young priest’s characterization of the interviewed monk as “anti-Semite” reveals a misunderstanding of the monk’s point of view, sources, meaning and perhaps simply reveals a Western unconscious bias, much in contrast to Eastern Orthodox understanding of both the Temple and our duty as laypeople and the Church’s duty to us to provide the full medicine at all times.  (Fr Seraphim Rose outlines it all nicely).

        I do not know this priest’s  background (whether convert or not) or what he says in Church to his people.  He looks very kind and committed on the site.  And it is very understandable that we Americans especially the scientifically or psychologically trained (as his wife and I both were) would be saturated with this western bias, as Fr Seraphim said he was himself.  But per my Patristic priests and the Holy Fathers they insist I read and try to follow,  it  is our struggle to subject ourselves to the fronema of the Eastern Orthodox Church  as Fr Seraphim did and  to participate fully and with full reverence in the Holy Mysteries, Sacraments and Tradition ~  and only through doing so be transformed and healed as God wishes for us.  

        In the letter the young ROCOR priest himself does not seem to believe in the Divine Energies of the Temple or to understand that approach by the monk and Fr Peter or to give that any due consideration so again I am saddened at both his and Abp Peter’s apparent more western understanding of our Faith Tradition than I was blessed to receive, although I am a very poor representative.    The “blasphemy” charge by the monk  is specifically about our western science-based  rational behavior about and in the Temple due to COVID, abandoning our Eastern Orthodox roots and perspective at great cost and harm to the laity who then do not receive the full spiritual medicine of our Holy Orthodox Church at the time we need it most!!!  The young priest at this stage of his walk does not seem to be aware of that.  Or to be aware of the role the laity are supposed to have in disagreeing with anything which is not what we have been taught by the Holy Fathers.  Both the priest and the Abp are clearly clearly among the most devout and loving hierarchs and priests.  That is not the issue here. 

        To paraphrase many a Saint and Patristic priest, we must obey God and not men, whoever they may be and however much we love and respect them as persons.  

      • I’ve met Vladyka Peter and found him to be a devout believer.  As far as which churches are allowed to stay open and which are not, I see no reason to close any of them or observe any Covid precautions in church (or anywhere else for that matter).  If a property owner requires it, I do it because that’s his prerogative as owner.  Nonetheless, as I alluded to in another comment, we don’t know who will win the presidency.  Some think it prudent to follow precautions in case the party that brought us this charade ends up in power again. 
        I think ROCOR’s policy is based on government recommendations and mandates for the most part.  We have an odd situation in that we are to follow the law unless it conflicts with our faith since government was instituted by God for the benefit of mankind.  Thus when the government goes insane, it is incumbent upon us to placate them, essentially, so long as they’re not commanding us to bow before idols and such.
        If I were a bishop (pause for laughter) I would probably not do any more than the government commanded with respect to restricting services.  And I don’t think I would let them prescribe how we commune either.  Better for communion to be reserved for the priest and later delivered to those that request it than to make a mockery of the mystery with trays full of spoons, etc.
        As to virtual participation.  I can’t seriously treat it like church because it is not in any way shape or form.  If one wishes to participate as if in church, then by all means follow the rules as the bishops prescribe.  I tend to look in for awhile to get the feel and let it go because I find it ridiculous to face a computer screen as if it were an icon or altar.  Alas, personal prayer will have to do for awhile.  But I perused online services long before the Covid thing hit so I already have my habits.
        But that’s just my humble opinion.

        • I think people advocating direct and complete disobedience to the recommendations – and guidelines – of the civil authorities are all people that have obviously never had real public leadership positions. It’s so easy to criticize, but you have to be careful. The consequences of direct open defiance might not be good for anyone – is the Church as a whole really ready today to proclaim open defiance and rebellion to civil authorities? Today it is still a public organization, with Facebook pages, streaming services, and public outreach. Are you ready to make martyrs of all Church members? Are you honestly ready to be a martyr yourself for this? Otherwise it is just (anonymous) internet talk. There will be a time when open defiance is a necessity for survival but this is not the time. We are not forced to bear the mark yet.

          • MomofToddler says

            I think our perspective depends somewhat on what state we are in and what the local bishops are doing. Things are tough in California and New York obviously. In my state, the local parishes could be functioning almost as normal, like quite a few of the area Protestant churches, but they are needlessly going above and beyond by changing communion, requiring masks in places of worship that aren’t required, etc. I also think we could comply to the extent that is wise and within the bounds of respect for God’s kingdom without pushing the same narrative as the world. We do need to get ready for tougher times. I agree that it shouldn’t be all talk.

            • Dear Mom of T and Gail:
              A trustworthy and straightforward ROCOR priest reassures me privately that he and Abp Peter believe as Fr Peter does about the Temple and that is lovely to hear.  

  28. Spiritual Guidance in the Quarantine in ROCOR Diocese of Chicago and Midwest (I think?)

  29. The hits keep coming for the Patriarchate of Constantinople: 

    Too bad it won’t become a “global environmental center” as Patriarch Bartholomew had wanted. 
    I pray that God prevents them from turning the St. Nicholas Shrine into a mockery of Orthodoxy and a besmirching of St. Nicholas’ holy name 

    • Michael Bauman says

      Petros, they already have the GOA is a living caricature of what the Church. The good priests and people should leave

  30. The so called Orthodox-Catholic diologue needs to stop NOW. The can be no unity with Rome while the Latins continue to descend into apostact