Not So Fast…

champagneIf I were in the Phanar, I’d be careful about popping the champagne corks right about now.

One of my most popular correspondents just tipped me off last night to the latest press release from the Denver diocese of the GOA which brings up some rather interesting criticisms of the upcoming (?) council to be held on Crete. According to this document, criticisms raised by His Holiness Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow are highlighted.

I won’t go into the details as you can read them for yourself. I’m still curious however as to why Denver saw fit to publish it. Perhaps I’m supposing more than is there. Or not. We’ll see soon enough.

Regardless, this document puts to rest the tired propaganda of the Archons and others of their ilk (especially those associated with the Fordham group) that only obscurantists and/or “fundamentalists” who are animated by an anti-Greek bias are Hiraklion’s harshest critics. For one thing, eminent theologians and hierarchs in the Church of Greece (such as Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos of Nafpaktos) have been pouring cold water on the celebrations for quite some time. Now we know that he’s certainly not alone.

Into this mix now comes perhaps the most significant criticism, this time from the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). (Kudos to Gail Sheppard for immediately alerting us to this.)

Now I don’t know what all this means except to say that not all of the autocephalous churches are on board with the meeting in June. We’ve certainly been hearing rumblings going on for some time now. Indeed, they have oly gotten louder. ROCOR’s statement however is deeper –and pragmatically speaking, more significant–than the concerns expressed by the Athonites (for example). We saw how ROCOR’s quasi-disengagement from the Episcopal Assembly of the USA in 2014 very nearly crippled it as a credible, pan-Orthodox institution. More importantly, as a functioning, missionary diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, it would be very hard to believe that it’s concerns are not Moscow’s especially when you consider that it operates everywhere there is a “diaspora.”

I’m sure that there are other implications to this document as well; at this point however, I’m going to go forward with this story in order to get it out there. I’m sure more information will follow.

In the meantime, please take the time to read both documents for yourself.


  1. I read the ROCOR document this AM and all I could keep thinking is that this sounds EXACTLY what the liberals and Modernists did at Vatican II. Ambiguous language that could be interpreted any number of ways. This is why I’ve told anybody who would listen that I think this “Great and Holy Council” is a bad idea and could be highjacked by the same forces that have wreaked havoc in the RCC over the last 50+ years.

    Do we really want to go down this road? Can we not look to the RCC and see that this has possibly terrible consequences?

    • Michael Warren says

      The principle thrust behind the Cretan Robber Synod is to validate the Ecumenist agreed statements of the various interreligious dialogues before the zeitgeist prevents that from remaining a possibility. The Cretan Robber Synod is Istanbul’s frantic and desparate attempt to legitimize its Renovationist and Uniate agenda. Because Istanbul understands that the clock is ticking and Russian primacy will be less de facto and more canonical sooner than the Phanar would like: that would derail nearly a century long assault upon Orthodox fidelity on the part of some.

    • The issue of vagueness is also a major problem with Amoris Laetitia. While technically upholding Latin doctrine, it is incredibly imprecise and liberals are celebrating.

      If the Church is the pillar and ground of truth, then it must be precise, brief, and firm. Vagueness has no place in synodal documents.

    • Virginia Dean says

      Ya know, no one cares what any US-based Orthodox Churches do or don’t do anymore. We’re irrelevant , corrupt beyond rehabilitation, and dwindling by every available metric ( except our own illiterate self-serving “press releases”).

      • Jeff Cahill says


        I think we make ourselves irrelevant by tuning out and uncritically allowing “our betters” abroad to do it for us, come what may. ROCOR’s statement admittedly didn’t mean much to me. I read it. I see its point. I kind of agree. What did they accomplish by publicizing it? They stated their moral opposition to some of what is going on in Crete. Maybe to pave the way for sober Orthodox Christians to reject what might happen in Crete. I just think that gatherings like what is supposed to happen in Crete delegitimize “our betters” abroad.

        The reason why I think that way is because “our betters” assume we are too stupid to realize that they are getting together in a council to revise Orthodox teaching and discipline and that they need to mislabel what they are doing so that we will go along with it. In the Episcopal church, this type of behavior always led to betrayal of Christianity where one group after another was forced to either shut up or leave. Here we go again. At least in Orthodoxy there are people sober enough to speak up to “our betters” and raise the red flag on the deceit before it happens to stop it. In the Episcopal church, the inertia of the agenda shut everyone out of the discussion and declared itself final. I resent the notion that in the Orthodox Church we have to “get out of the way” to allow that to happen, especially when things seem to be pursued so deceitfully.

        Did ROCOR’s statement sway me? No, but the reaction to it and other similar statements “trying to shut it down” made me say that what is supposed to happen in Crete is based on lies, deceit and censorship. I can’t be party to that in good conscience. I hope more is outed to stop that type of behavior. Any council predicated on such tactics is not legitimately Christian.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Well Virginia don’t know where you live but ’round here we are growing in numbers and in quality.

        However it is quite likely that the numbers of people who remain faithful will grow smaller: “Will the Son of Man find faith on the earth when He comes?”

        But…”where two or more are gathered….”

        It is always possible to exercise one’s God given responsibility and offer up yourself your friends and all of your life in Thanksgiving even as the sword descends toward your neck.

        God is good.

      • Oh, I don’t think that the US based churches are irrelevant. They have their problems, to be sure. But these churches are also the vehicle of salvation for many, many people. Better not to get too down on them. Speak the truth in love, to be sure. But where man cannot succeed, God surely can.

        • Ashley Nevins says

          Denial of the demographic collapse of Orthodoxy in America will only increase the collapse and give power to the reasons for the collapse. Corrupt man cannot succeed anymore than man in denial can. The two largest jurisdictions in America are both corrupt and dying and to deny that is the reasons why they are dying.

          Where two or more gathered together only works if those gathered together are not corrupt and/or enabling of the corruptions, how difficult is that one to understand?

          So, as Orthodoxy in America grows smaller that means the faithful will be left to turn its dying state around, how is that working out?

          Denial tries to dispel real world reality. When it is based in subjective misplaced loyalty bias what is really taking place is rationalized, excused and misidentified.

          To be sure Orthodoxy in America has a dying state of church problem that many, many Orthodox people deny. It is a crisis without an effective solution.

          Any growing numbers are not matching the loss of numbers making Orthodoxy in America irrelevant. Stating the state of Orthodoxy as it really is does not equate to getting too down on them.

          Blaming end times on the state of dying Orthodoxy in America dispels the reality of why it is really irrelevant. The cause of the dying state is something else other than the real cause. That is denial.

          But where man cannot succeed, God surely can is denial of what God can’t do with a corrupt state of church or the state of church would not be dying. Truth that speaks with Gods love speaks directly to the real causes of the real world outcome of Orthodoxy in America. Systemic corruption that kills a church is not Gods love.

          So, the smaller Orthodoxy gets in America means the more effective relevant it gets in America? That is irrational considering the opposite is taking place. Things are not as bad as they really are? Things are worse than you think and thinking for yourself without denying subjective bias is how you come to the realization of how gone over the irrelevancy cliff it really is.

          A top down centralized authoritarian structure of self centered dictatorial rule power and control that is an exclusive, isolated and closed system and that is corrupt is not the main problem? A carnal immature, apathetic, indifferent and powerless authoritarian pushed down laity is not part of the problem? A church that believes the solution to its corrupt state are those who lead that corrupt state of church, that is not a serious problem? Being faithful to this is being faithful to God with the hope that God surely can turn it all around and when it has reached a point of no return to God to restore life back to its dead state?

          The living God works through a living for God church. A corrupt, dying and irrelevant church God cannot effectively work through, but a church that is corporately repentant and willing to systemically break it systemic bondage by God can. That is a practical real world of Christian spiritual reality fact. It is the only solution. Don’t get too down on what is bringing your church down under the crushing weight of authoritarianism and because the dying state is not that serious or a crisis. Deny how bad it really is and it will all get better.

          A dying state of church without a solution to its dying state is a church having their problems, to be sure. But where man cannot succeed, God surely can through churches that follow Him.

          • Let the church collapse. Let the chaff be blown away, and let the pure wheat go on to be a far more effective witness for Christ’s Body than a bloated congregation of dead weight could ever be.

            • M. Stankovich says

              I am so struck by your comment, Ages. I distinctly recall as a child, the words of Fr. Eusibius Stephanou, whose consecrated church was sold by the Greeks to the Black Muslims (I would suspect in the very late 1960’s, very early 1970’s) because they were so terrified of evangelization & witness, and headed to the suburbs. He very calmly said, “We have preached to our own repeatedly and unsuccessfully. There are individuals in this country who yearn for what Orthodoxy possesses like like men dying of thirst in the desert. Now it is time to open the entrances and the exits, and to sweep out the dead wood to make room for those who seek the Truth.” A very nice parallel you make.

              • As a recent convert to Orthodoxy, Fr. Eusibius’s phrase describing my own feeling after having found Orthodoxy is 100% to the point: “[those] who yearn for what Orthodoxy possesses like men dying of thirst in the desert.” I used this very image when writing an email to the local Russ. Orthodox parish priest expressing my desire to study more deeply after my first few visits spring/early summer 2015.

                Here’s a copy/paste from that specific message: “Such a vast ocean and I’m drowning in it, and it will hold me up. The West has left me with nothing but ashes and dust.”

                • Michael Bauman says

                  May God grant your prayer Vesta. You make the point, the only reason to come into the Orthodox Church is for communion with Jesus Christ and it is the only reason to stay. Otherwise why would anyone put up with the moronic in-fighting that seems to have always been with us.

                  Believe me there is always some bishop somewhere who does something crazy, un-canonical, even “heretical” (don’t we all even we non-bishops). I rather think that the vast majority of the people using those last two terms have no idea what they really mean and even if they do, their mewling is largely irrelevant. The evil one loves to distract us with “holy” thoughts.

                  There is no way by man’s thinking that I should be Orthodox. Yet, here I am and I can do nothing but thank God for it despite all of the nasty, crazy, stupid and horrible stuff that “other people” do. Gosh, if I keep track of all that stuff long enough I can begin to consider myself a saint by comparison. Neat, huh?

                  Christ is Risen trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

                  I was dead and now am beginning to live even when all of the scar tissue and blood from old wounds (largely self-inflicted) get in the way, hurting and aching. I pray that by God’s grace I finish the race even if I stumble and faint and fall down and can only manage to crawl haltingly over the line.

                  Heresy will always be with us until the fullness of time, that is the nature of the fallen human heart to go after vain imaginings that attempt to throw God down from His throne so that we can assume it.

                  Pray, fast, give alms, worship, repent, forgive, love: guarding one’s own heart in the process. Watch, fear not, lest you be overtaken by darkness and shut out of the kingdom.

                  If He did not fill the whole of creation with His presence and love, in person, we would all be lost. We cannot change the world, but He can and is transforming it. It is He who clothes us in a proper wedding garment but he tailors us to it first.

                  Glory to God.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:3-4) Congratulations on reception into the Orthodox Church!

  2. Gregory Manning says

    Thanks so much George. This synopsis/timeline is really helpful.

  3. See also: On the 2016 Holy Great Orthodox Synod by George Karras, Editor of Orthodox Heritage at

  4. Michael Woerl says

    “Do we really want to go down this road?” No; this is the “road” of EP hierarchs educated by the Vatican (like Patriarch Bartholomew). Thanks to Orthodox hierarchs not ready to be transformed into the new Byzantine Rite with the Cardinal of Istanbul as its “Major Archbishop,” we are NOT going to go down this road at all.
    The Phanar wanted to accomplish much with this confab … not much of the Phanar’s agenda even goes to Crete to be considered! Already dumped are: Canon 28, aka “Constantinople über alle in der Diaspora;” “Common calendar for the Orthodox.” The Phanar, typically arrogant and overbearing, would have insisted on the Papal Calendar; “Common date for ‘Easter’ with “all Christians.” i.e., the Vatican- why not go Western Paschalion while we’re at it, as Finland was forced to do by the Phanar; “Dumping the Fasts,” as they are -waaahhh! waaahhh!- too difficult for “modern people.”
    Now, get rid of the rest of the garbage!
    And, what’s the deal with those Archons? I thought THEY paid the Phanar! They act like the Phanar pays THEM!
    I don’t believe the Phanariots are in any cork-popping mood. More likely crying in their beer as they struggle to come up with an explanation for the Vatican! “What happened? You guys told us, ‘we got this!’ Right!” ?

  5. Tony Kartopolous says

    With all due respect, it doesn’t matter what ROCOR thinks. ROCOR is under Moscow and whatever Moscow says or does is how ROCOR will go. The real problem with Crete is that it is a nothing meeting. A meet & greet with no substance. There are no real theological issues that must be addressed and Moscow won’t allow Istanbul to proclaim anything outrageous. Here in the US, the bishops just don’t get it. All will remain status quo and if these guys want an autocephalous American Church, they’ll have to take it. They won’t. They are all afraid of losing their salaries and retirement. However, a nice meet & greet in Crete. Don’t forget your bathing suits, but there are some nice nude beaches; so I’m told.

    • ROCOR seems to be persuading the MP behind the scenes rather than vice versa. Nonetheless, I agree that nothing of any consequence will likely occur in Crete – if we are fortunate.

      • Pat Reardon says

        I agree that nothing of any consequence will likely occur in Crete – if we are fortunate.

        We live in hope.

        • ChristineFevronia says

          It all is starting to sound so… Monty Python-esque.

          • Yes. I think the Constantinopolitan leadership in Istanbul and here in America, with some notable exceptions, live in an echo chamber and have so embraced humanism and Vatican ecclesiology that they can’t even hear how ridiculous they sound to the rest of us. It’s kind of like some of the more far-out fundamentalist low church Protestants. You are entertained by the show until the unsettling fact intrudes on your peace of mind that they actually sincerely believe it. Nonetheless, out of respect to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, I have to pray that they are being educated by all the fur flying over their proposals.

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            ChristineFevronia! Not Monty Python! It’s pure Basil Fawlty!
            (With an occasional “Oh, I KNOW, I KNOW!” from the distaff side.)

  6. Gail Sheppard says

    The “latest press release from the Denver diocese” seems to be gone.

  7. the link to the Greek press release doesn’t seem to be working … any other links for it?

  8. Priest John says

    The Link for the Denver diocesan press release seems to be down.

  9. Gregory Manning says

    The link provided above by Nicole points out that the link in question actually belonged to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Grand Junction, CO.
    I’m not currently at my PC so am unable to access the relevant documents but the Orthodox Heritage link (Nicole) refers, on page 9, to something the web site characterizes as “The most disconcerting aspect of the released pre-Synodical texts…”. I never noticed but, as I say, I’m not able to check, nor will I be able for the rest of the day. Perhaps someone can figure out what they’re talking about. Orthodox Heritage’s interpretation makes it out to be pretty ominous.

  10. Try this Google Cache of the press release.

  11. Pseudo_Benjamin says
  12. Hieromonk Mark (Kerr) says

    This link might lead to the article that seems to have been removed from the Denver Metropolis website: