Patriarch Bartholomew: No to “Gay Marriage”

pat-bartholomewGood news is breaking out all over! It appears that the bloodthirsty Neocon/Neoliberal elites who wished to spill American blood and treasure in Syria have been dealt a serious blow. As a sideline to the crises in Syria and Egypt, Americans are becoming more aware that there are actual Christians in the Middle East and that these Christians have lived there in continuous fashion since the time of the Apostles. Now would be a good time for the Assembly of Bishops to put some serious money into getting the word out that Orthodoxy is the most ancient and authentic expression of Christianity and that we have the pedigree to prove it. The enhanced posture of Russia on the world stage can only help. That it was Russia which prevented another military catastrophe is no small beer. “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

There is even more good news: Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople just delivered a death-blow to so-called gay marriage. Whether this will cause secular culture to change is doubtful, nevertheless, he made it impossible for Orthodox priests and theologians who flirt with the dominant, sodomite culture that is overtaking the West to continue to do so. This is no small thing, given that secularist elements have been making increasing inroads into the Orthodox Church. We here at Monomakhos have the scars to prove it.

It’s been rather lonely at times. Sure we have recourse to the Scriptures, the Fathers, and Canon Law but it’s refreshing when some eminent Churchman adds his significant voice to the mix. Usually, we get equivocation or a desire to not roil the waters. Not this time. What the Ecumenical Patriarch did was the equivalent of a troop of cavalry coming over the hill just in time to stave off a massacre.

The Ecumenical Patriarch, the first among equals of Orthodox bishops, has decided to speak out –and forcefully–against the blasphemous conceit which goes by the moniker “homosexual marriage.” This is huge. In the sermon which he delivered in Talinn, Estonia the other day, he came out forcefully for marriage (as properly understood) and took apart the arguments for “gay marriage” in short order. He appealed to both natural law as well as the Gospel. His words were unequivocal, direct, logical, and theologically sound. They left no room for a counter-argument.

Monomahos heartily congratulates His Holiness for adding his authoritative voice, settling the debate once and for all. AXIOS!

American Source: Mystagogy

Greek (Original) Source: Ecumenical Patriarchate


Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

On September 7, 2013 His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited the Holy Cathedral of St. Symeon in Tallinn, Estonia. Early that afternoon, His All-Holiness presided over Vespers Service in the same church, at which time he delivered the Homily. Below is an excerpt of this Homily, in which he addressed the topic of the relationship between Church and Family, and in turn condemned Homosexual Marriage as an innovation foreign to the ecclesiological mindset and way of life.

The Church, my beloved parents and children, and subsequently the family, which consists lawfully and by the command of God of men and women, and the children acquired, is not a foundation or association or a simple organization, but a Body, as it is wonderfully depicted by the Apostle Paul. And this parallelism is accurate and true. Church and marriage. Husband and wife. Body and its members.

This community, signified in the Mysteries and in the obedience of Faith, both in the Church and in the family, is sanctified and mystagogued through the Mystery of Marriage, which, according to the Fathers, is a mystery of co-creation, and the ontological link of love with the Head of the Body, to ensure health and life, which is salvation and sanctification.

As in our Orthodox Church, where no member is forgiven to deal with things in a peculiar form and at one’s discretion and to prey on the proper operation and sincere communion of the love and unity of faith of the other members, or despise and ignore them, because they create cancerous disorders, agitations, dissensions, schisms, and heresies. This applies as well to the miniature church, the family, in which is required compassion, love and unity for the structure to be built, in which the father, the mother and the children have a place inter-embracing one another’s gifts, responsibilities and rights, and they are “individually members of it”.

God blesses our every effort towards the fulfillment of His will, and every struggle in life, according to one’s faithfulness in each and every talent. It suffices to realize in time our given talents and gifts and therefore our obligations for our every personal role, which God expects us to live out in the ecclesiastical and familial body as Orthodox Christians, activating its divine-human nature, within the framework of our God-given limits and conditions. For God created man “male and female”, that we might not imitate those who “exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised” (Romans 1:24-26).

To our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed families through the Mystery of Marriage at Cana of Galilee and changed water into wine, that is, into joy and feasting, and to His Body, the Orthodox Church, the partnering of the same sex is unknown and condemned, and they condemn the contemporary invention of “mutual cohabitation”, which is the result of sin and not the law of joy, and by their actions the “females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26-28). Let this not also be born in you, Orthodox Estonians, brethren and children.


  1. Fr. Peter Dubinin says

    Axios to His All Holiness; Axios!

  2. Trudge at SmartVote says

    Dr. Stankovich,

    Responding to a previous post on same-sex attraction and the topic at large.

    But first – “Bury you.” You said this to a priest of the most high God. Why are you talking like this and using the words of Khrushchev? The words of tyranny used against the free world? It was Khrushchev and his regime that got buried and the churches that his regime hated are now rebuilt.

    I reviewed several of your essays on your site, and what I gathered is that you want to needle “traditionalists” with medical science that you sort of agree in the end upholds tradition. You seem to want to hold the question of homosexuality and its status in our culture and in Orthodoxy in suspension and give it latitude, but at the same time in some way hold to the teachings of Orthodoxy, but without doing so for the sake of “tradition.” In the end the result is the same, medical science agrees with tradition, except that your approach allows the sexual anarchists to get more traction.

    Unfortunately, what is behind all modern advocacy “science” is the mechanistic/materialistic philosophy of Spinoza and Marx that denies individual free will. The myth of the advocacy science being promoted is that human sexuality is merely binary, when it is fluid and with an array of deviations from what is beneficial and social.

    It looks like you are trying to straddle the moral fence, so that both sides hear you saying something that appeals to them; there is something for the Orthodox and there is something for the LGBT advocates and new morality revisionists. There are many quotes from the Fathers, so your argumentation has an appearance of Orthodoxy, but the quotes do not directly address the subject at hand, the phenomenon of same-sex attraction and homosexuality and the problem of the human condition: our fallen nature and the problem of evil. So while you make statements supporting the traditional understanding that homosexual behavior is sinful, you also undermine tradition by throwing a cloak over the traditional understanding and means of healing the sinful origins of the sin and put forward that a new way is needed to accommodate same-sex attraction which you believe, is “ontological,” that is an inseparable part of a person.

    Your method is to have a microscopic focus on same-sex attraction to the exclusion of the many other sexual “attractions.” Of course same-sex attraction is sinful, as our desires in themselves are sinful unless they are purified, as is sexual attraction to children, Frotteurism, the sexualizing of children before their time, and the many other corruptions of our sexuality through Sadistic practices, or desiring the opposite sex outside of marriage, bestiality, and the list goes on and on.

    Your scope of analysis of moral and spiritual concepts is materialistic, ignoring, for instance, that sinful desires can be stimulated by the invisible forces of evil as a source of temptation. Basically, your starting point is scientific materialism and then you attempt to find support for this vision in commonalities with the broadest statements of the Fathers, not in statements specific to the question at hand: the nature of sin and how it affects human sexuality and how that sexuality is restored through the inward planting of the words of the Kingdom of heaven and the acquisition of the virtues, specifically love, self-control, chastity, and discrimination, the traditional Christian concepts pertaining to the healing of the soul in its relation to the body in its sexual aspect. Your analysis does not avail itself of the age-old Christian science of the medicines of the soul to accomplish this. Your beginning point is the popular assessment that homosexuality is an innate part of the person and reaches to find support in global statements of the Fathers rather than specific statements of the Fathers concerning our moral corruption.

    Here is what the Scriptures say in specifics:

    Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. -Epistle of James, Chapter 1

    Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? -Epistle of James, Chapter 4

    The bishop speaks metaphorically using sexual sin as the prototype of all sin, that originates through the promise of temporary bodily pleasures as a seduction, that “conceives” by a fornication, that eventually gives birth to an offspring that has a life of its own, a bastard, artificial, and monstrous life, that follows a natural course of activities, that, unless this life of sin is thwarted and “killed” by us, will grow in strength until it brings in the end our spiritual death. So we cannot say that our desires are ontological, because we can temper, bind up, and over time transform the desires we experience for evil by cultivating desires for good. To say that our desires, our “attractions,” is what we are, ontologically, is to say that we are tempted by God.

    The desire is sinful, yet not fully a part of us. To assent to the desire is when we by our will fall in to sin, and a life of sin.

    As for straddling the moral fence and your sympathetic contacts with the sexual anarchists:

    Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Epistle of James, Chapter 4

    No servant can serve two masters; for…he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. Gospel of Luke, Chapter 16

    Also of note, the metaphor in the quote from James is taken from the sexual interests of our fallen nature. In short, our sexual nature is held in the Scriptures as one of the most problematic aspects of the human condition. And the daily headlines attest to this.

    As St. Mark the Ascetic observed, “He who is ignorant of the enemy’s ambush is easily slain; and he who does not know the causes of the passions is soon brought low.” The direction you are trying to take us is to both lead us into an ambush, and also to obscure the causes of the passions, by leaving out the doctrine of sin and its delusional aspects, that also infects the scientific enterprise.

    A thought experiment. If your next-door neighbor opened a brothel in his house, what would you do? You would stop the evil. If a brothel opened next to your church or your local elementary school, you would also stop the evil. And if you were courageous and full of love you would find ways to communicate the Gospel to those involved and explain why you are opposing them. Perhaps like Christians in the past you would purchase the freedom of the prostitutes.

    It is not that complicated and it never was, until now when the anti-Christs of our generation tried to make it complicated.

    The Son of Man preached a clear message of repentance and was intimate with only those who heard or would hear this message. Never did he coddle sin and sinners, or participate in or give comfort to their evil. Christ was accused of dining with sinners, but he did not dine with the Pharisee or other sinners that opposed him, only with those who would listen to him, who invited him.

    It may be that your professional background in the Human Potential Movement is coloring your vision of Orthodoxy through paisley-tinted glasses.

    As far as the approach of modern “science” to human sexuality, Camus correctly I think shows us that the critique of it should begin with Sade, since that is the origin of the ferment we are seeing now, bolstered by the unethical pseudo-science of Alfred Kinsey and the anthropologist Margaret Mead.

    Camus concluded that what we see in Sade is “Man’s emancipation from God is consummated in debauchery, where a kind of bureaucracy of vice rules, and where men and women have committed themselves forever to the hell of their desires.” -The Rebel

    RFK Jr. reiterated this in his just exposed diary: “I’m like Adam and live in Eden. I can have everything but the fruit. But the fruit is all I want.” -RFK Jr Diary 11/5/2001

    As for reparative therapy, there is scientific evidence that does not support banning it:

    Evidence that sexual orientation can be fluid rather than fixed is particularly strong with respect to young people—the very people whose freedom to seek change has been crushed by the New Jersey law. Ritch Savin-Williams, who is the nation’s leading expert on homosexual teenagers, wrote in Current Directions in Psychological Science, “In the data set of the longitudinal Add Health study, of the Wave I boys who indicated that they had exclusive same-sex romantic attraction, only 11 percent reported exclusive same-sex attraction one year later; 48 percent reported only opposite-sex attraction, 35 percent reported no attraction to either sex, and six percent reported attraction to both sexes.”

    Are you familiar with Joe Dallas?

    He is a former homosexual activist who does therapy with those recovering from sexual addiction and homosexuality and is a prolific author:

    The model for homosexuality often fits with the addiction and self-control model rather than simply identity.

    In my earlier career as a professional therapist I was able successfully help others recover from a variety a sexual identity/life-controlling sexual behaviors using Dr. Patrick Carnes’ material. Are you familiar with Carnes?

    Another good reference point is the Mark Regnerus study on the outcomes of non-traditional families. My wife is a sociologist and is teaching it because of the soundness of its methodology.

    About your contacts with the sexual anarchists. Why not invite them to a study of the Gospel of Luke? To show them the beauties of Orthodoxy and the lives of the saints? To teach them the distinction of soul and body and how the soul is to master the body? To preach the Gospel to them and impart the necessities that will bring healing to their souls and eternal life?

    • M. Stankovich says

      Trudge at SmartVote,

      I am truly grateful for your thoughtful comment. The difficulty here is that I have patiently, cautiously, and systematically addressed every question posed to me for at least two years. I have not varied in my original position – except for purposes of elaboration – nor in my purpose for pursuing the discussion. My only regret is that, in my preliminary comments, I emphasized that segregating the aggregate of the συμφωνία of our anthropology would produce error – or at least confusion – and that has, too frequently, occurred. That is all I would change. So, after more than two years of providing responses to anyone who inquires – certainly I am familiar with Mark Regnerus and I, like many, believe his research had significant methodological problems – do not want to appear rude and say, “search my posts, I have answered this three times previously.” Having said that, search my posts.

      Likewise, while you have read some of my essays, you have not read enough; and I say that because, for example, I essentially have no disagreement with you in regard to matter of reorientation therapies. But the fact of the matter is this: there is no data that suggests that some form(s) of reorientation therapy (many of which are religiously/spiritually centered) cannot be helpful and/or effective for individuals who voluntarily seek this form of help. However, neither is there data that suggests a risk-to-benefit ratio justifying exposing patients to reorientation therapies (i.e. it is unethical to subject patients, even voluntary patients, to treatment more likely to cause harm). My full discussion is on the site.

      As to my “use” of science, I want to again be clear that it is non-nonsensical as an isolated aggregate – the biogenetic – of the whole-person, and my intention to emphasize its essential role among the elements as described by Sts. Maximus the Confessor, Simeon the New Theologian, and Gregory the Theologian, drawing on Fr. Michael Pomazansky’s Dogmatic Theology:

      The difference between theology and the natural sciences, which are founded upon observation or experiment, is made clear by the fact that dogmatic theology is founded upon living and holy faith. Here the starting point is faith, and there, experience. However, the manners and methods of study are one and the same in both spheres; the study of facts, and deductions drawn from them. Only, with natural science the deductions are derived from facts collected through the observation of nature, the study of the life of peoples, and human creativity; while in theology the deductions come from the study of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. The natural sciences are empirical and technical, erected upon purely rational foundations and upon the deductions of the experimental sciences, to the- extent that the latter are capable of being used for the higher questions of life, while our study is theological. St. Gregory the Theologian considered it the merit of St. Basil the Great that he mastered dialectic to perfection, with the help of which he overthrew the philosophical constructs of the enemies of Christianity. In general, St. Gregory did not sympathize with those who expressed a lack of respect for outward learning.

      Science should reveal the Creator, and where the science is divergent with the revelation of the Scripture, the Fathers, and the Holy Tradition, “as it was in the beginning,” it is evidence of our fallen creation.

      Finally, what I do personally in my community, on the streets I walk, in contact with the individuals with whom I interact is really quite a different matter than, say, people I would meet in a prison, or clinic professionally. There are times that they actually overlap, and sometimes it’s unnerving & sometimes it’s heartbreaking. We all make determinations as to whom we address, whom we assist, whom we ignore, whom we even give the “get out of my face” look. Personally, I directed these “sexual anarchists” to what I believed at the time to be the best possible source for their “necessities, the church. Read my blog. I have come across desolate human beings in my own city who were so grateful and so happy at a big bag of empty soda cans I gave them, that I couldn’t stop smiling all the way home. Imagine! Your last questions are cheap grandstanding and patently offensive.

      • Daniel E Fall says

        All this talk about the 2/10ths or 1% of society is tantamount to idle talk. The only thing a Christian ought to do regarding homosexuals is pray for them and be kind to them. All the clerical teachings about homosexuality seem to continually focus on the homosexual rather than the other 99% and how we behave towards them.

        To quote the murderer Hitler as accurately portraying one of his murder victims as a pedophile is really quite sad.. Forgive me if I didn’t understand the citation correctly…

      • George Michalopulos says

        Dr Stankovich, I applaud your research and your devotion to the scientific method. For all I know, you may be on to something about the “nature vs nurture” etiology of same-sex attraction. As someone in the sciences myself, I feel beholden to following wherever the evidence takes me.

        Having said that, the research in this field (not simply yours’) is arguable. That means you could be right, you could be wrong, you could be somewhere in between. On the other hand, what we do know is that the heterosexual drive is innate and overwhelming. Moreover, the male drive towards promiscuity is innate. Both propositions are based on simple observation and are congruent with all evolutionary theories. This is not controversial. All non-Christian societies recognize this and many non-Christian religions (OT Judaism included) sanctified polygyny.

        Using the language of homosexual activists who seek to deform Christianity to suit their own preferences, shouldn’t polygynists do likewise? If not, why not?

        • Michael Bauman says

          George, I would caution you against an assumption that seems to flavor your comment here. “Innate” does not mean “created”. “Innate” as we can usually understand it is our experience of the corruption of sin and the movement toward death.

          What is really “innate” is our desire for communion (union) with God. When that is disrupted, we get confused and seek that communion in false ways, sex being one of the strongest. We should not delude ourselves by thinking that so-called “normal” sex is not full of corruption.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          George, you wrote: “There is even more good news: Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople just delivered a death-blow to so-called gay marriage. Whether this will cause secular culture to change is doubtful,”
          If he delivered a “death blow,” why is it doubtful that change in secular culture therefrom is “doubtful?”
          Death blow!!! Come on! He just produced another wet noodle and lashed out with it, but not at ANY Greek or other Orthodox, who do not have gay marriage. I’m sure the LGBT people are just reeling from this “death blow” from….as they might say, “Who is he again? Is he our guide in anything at all?”

          • George Michalopulos says

            Your Grace, if I led anybody to believe that His Holiness dealt a “death blow” to sodomy-masquerading-as-marriage in the broader culture, I apologize. Just like abortion, the Church has lost that battle. What I meant was that His Holiness dealt a death blow to Orthodox theo-speculation on this subject. That is to say that theologians and clerics the like of Arb Lazar Puhalo, David Dunn, Frank Schaeffer, John Jillions, Eric Wheeler, et al, will no longer be able to stretch the bounds of economia/speculation/etc. regarding the subject of homosexuality and its place within the Church.

            I realize that as a bishop his vote is one among many –he is not a Pontiff issuing a ruling binding for all time–but as the patriarch of the primatial See of Constantinople he effectively stopped all further accommodation within that patriarchate towards the prevailing zeitgeist. Whether individual GOA priests or bishops look the other way is immaterial. What they can’t do is punt the ball back to Constantinople and say something mealy-mouthed like “that’s above my pay-grade.”

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              George, do you really think that “Arb Lazar Puhalo”, David Dunn, Frank Schaeffer, John Jillions, Eric Wheeler, et all ‘will no longer be able to” do anything? Have they ever claimed that Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople supported them? They pretty well know who the notorious gays are on the Sacred Synod of Constantinople and ‘the subject of homosexuality and its place within the Church.”
              Give up on your “death blow,” already! Have you ever heard any of the jokes circulating in the Curia about that Patriarch? Many of them start up with, “As the Successor of Andrew says….”
              A “death blow to theo-speculation….” Come on! It’s just getting going and you know it. Perhaps he actually gave those folks a shot in the arm and renewed their vigor. I mean, that Patriarch’s accomplished SO MUCH, right? He’s made men archons. He’s blown with every wind coming from the Greek Foreign Office and Turkish State Department. They OK’d his speech, of course…perhaps they pressured him into making it… Not only that, there’s that ancient Phanariote rule: “if the Pope makes a splash, try and top it.”

              • George Michalopulos says

                No, Your Grace, I’m sure that these and other luminaries which I failed to mention (like Frs Bobosh and Arida) could conceivably still dip their toes into the waters of philo-homosexual theospeculation, but to be honest, I think His Holiness knocked the wind out of their sails.

                I know some (many?) may speculate that the EP did this because he was “pressured” in some way or that he was –as you say–trying to one-up the Pope, but I’m not so sure either is the case. For one thing, the Archon/Leadership 100 crowd is totally in the tank for Obama and East Coast liberalism. It’s part of the “Cold Civil War” between two white tribes that don’t like each other, the old Red-State/Blue-State divide (a continuation in many ways of the Unpleasantness of 1861-1865). As for one-upping the Pope, I like Francis a lot but he hasn’t been very vocal in this matter. Maybe there’s something going on underneath the surface we don’t know about but I doubt that.

                Some said that the venue in which he gave it (Estonia) meant that this was for purely Russian consumption but I don’t believe that either, as its displayed prominently on the patriarchal website.

                No, I’m gonna subscribe honesty to His Holiness. Again I say: “AXIOS!”

                • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

                  Also,George,the Patriarch is the guest of the Autonomous Estonian Orthodox Church,NOT the Estonian Orthodox under Moscow.Given the fact that the Finnish Orthodox Church seems to be gay-friendly and also has close ties to the Autonomous Church in Estonia,one has to wonder how the words of the Patriarch were received in Finland.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Your Grace the Ecumenical Patriarch did good and stood for the Gospel. We should all rejoice and build upon this and offer up our prayers for his continued vigilance. I believe this is the Christian thing to do. Have a good night your Grace.


            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              Sure, it’s good to hear an Ecumenical Patriarch hold forth on the topic of virtue.
              Let’s just forget ‘death blows” and knocking the wind out of anyone’ s sails. The Patriarch preaches to the choir, and George, who is the choir here, likes it. ONLY the choir pays any attention. Good choir. But cut the hyperbole, please. It’s not the case of any liberal media ignoring urgent truths.
              Only thing, the whole world sees the “Primate’ of the East being impotent. He has nothing to say about sin outside the Church: that’s not what he was ordained for…but he’s learned in ecumenical encounters how the non-Orthodox are always being “prophetic’ to their governments.
              Why not say something about ABORTION? It DOES happen, too often even in the Orthodox Church and in all the dioceses of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. George is right: he only speaks when there’s no objection from the A. The Greek Foreign Office, B. The Turkish State Department, and C. The Archons,, who OBVIOUSLy feel any remark he makes about gay marriage is irrelevant to them, unlike an opinion of abortion.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Live in the light of Christ your Grace, and accept the good that occurs. We should all do that. God bless you and have a good night.

                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                  I’ll accept Peter’s recommendations. i’m not in the EP and for all I know this to me ordinary expression of the obvious that has no application to anything going on in the Orthodox Church, is, indeed, extraordinary for a hierarch in the Constantinopolitan Church. They apparently don’t do this sort of thing ordinarily, as so many of our Bishops and Priests do on a Sunday morning! So, thanks be o God that the Ecumenical Patriarch has said something on behalf of a virtue.. I, too, expect that any day now, he’ll say something to give ‘the death blow’ to abortion and those clergy in the EP who adopt a casuistic attitude toward the Orthodox canon on that topic. Never give up hope. Thanks for reminding me, Peter!

                  He’s said more than once, as have other leading Greek Orthodox teachers, that the Greek Church stays out of bedrooms. This must apply only to the bedrooms of heterosexual couples?

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    I am glad to here it your Grace. Hope springs eternal. Have a good night and God bless.


                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Mr. Papoutsis:
                      No need to repeat your little moralistic mantra. Just tap the “thumbs-up” button and we’ll assume I’ve made you glad with my given posting!

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Thank you your Grace. I as well will pray for you and I will assume God’s blessings to shower down on you. Really! God bless you, and have a great night.


          • LOL.
            Your Grace–That is just the Mediterranean blood that I share with George; we do tend to “overreach” at times. 🙂

    • TASV
      Excellent! Thank you for laying this out so carefully.

  3. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    I’m SO happy he won’t let members of his Sacred Synod marry each other or have their “partnerships” blessed in Church! What a courageous announcement.
    When can we expect to hear him or any other Greek Hierarch in the EP’s jurisdiction CONDEMN abortion?
    When this Patriarch was still a Metropolitan the San Francisco area media asked him if the Orthodox Church held the same teaching on abortion and birth control as the Catholic Church. His answer (often repeated) “We stay out of the bedroom.” A leading presbyter of the GOA told me outright condemnation of abortion is “not that simple, Your Grace.” He went on to reveal that a parishioner of his found herself pregnant by her paramour, and if this came out, it would destroy her marriage and family. So abortion would save the marriage.” Now, how’s that for “defense of marriage?” The most you’ll get out of them is that abortion is a terrible tragedy to be avoided. They’ll never say it’s murder, according to the canonical standard of punishment for it.
    Anyone ever see one of Bartholomew’s hierarchs marching in the annual “March for Life” event?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Your points are well-taken Your Grace. As a Greek-American, I have been ashamed at the paucity of participation by GOA bishops and priests in the pro-life movement. Frankly, the sophistry employed by the Archon-type of Greek-American elite is scandalous.

      Having said that, I cannot criticize, and indeed must applaud wholeheartedly, His Holiness’ brave and forthright stance against the homosexual juggernaut which is presently destroying Western Civilization. Why he did so or why he was late to the game makes no difference to me. I prefer to think that he listened to the Holy Spirit.

      He spoke the truth and that’s all that matters.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Oh, I’m sure the non-Orthodox are very impressed indeed.
        I find abortion to be an issue beside which same-sex marriages outside the Orthodox Church are trifles.Oh HOW the Patriarch must have struggled against the forces of darkness to come up with his unheard-of sexual principles, right?
        Morally, he’s FAR above Pope Francis in these matters, right?

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          I have no doubt the non-Orthodox are not impressed, but why would that matter?

          It’s the Orthodox who need to hear it! I am glad of it.

        • Agreed. The numbers alone tell the story. I continue to think that the pending takeover of the Church by the lavender mafia is a scare tactic that is used by some folks with hidden agendas.

          • Robert Alden says


            As long as the OCA does nothing to disciple active homosexual clergy in her ranks your self-assurance that the so-called lavender mafia is a myth is nothing more than justification and tacit consent to the glaring and selective OCA clergy misconduct crusade. It is a sham to protect the friends of Syosset and persecute their enemies.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              Robert, what in the world do you mean by discipling? You want the OCA to make disciples of homosexual clergy?

              • Robert Alden says

                Your Grace,

                dis·ci·plin ing. Dyslectic here.

                Although if the OCA does nothing to dis·ci·pline the gay clergy in her ranks, is it not making gay clergy disciples?

                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                  I believe the OCA continues to discipline clergy who are found guilty of homosexual sins. “Gay” is not a term accepted in Orthodox moral theology, Robert. if I have missed a failure to discipline such, please point out the instance! I personally aware of one or two exceptional failures to discipline such: one of them left the Orthodox Church to return to PECUSA of the day, and the other one died suddenly and ignominiously and alone in a motel parking lot without the consolation of the Mysteries or even the prayers of an Orthodox cleric to accompany his departure. We don’t beat dead horses, though. If you KNOW of active homosexual clergy in the OCA (Please note, an ACtive homosexual is one committing sexual acts of a homosexual nature, although in police work, the word “active” applies to a particular role in any given sexual act. Some people here (pseudonymous, because they can’t “put up” or shut up) have asserted that Metropolitan Theodosius has been shown to be an active homosexual, but when challenged they are unable to cite ANY sexual activity. I know that the same kind of loose and careless allegations were made about the flamboyantly effeminate chancellor of another jurisdiction, but no one ever succeeded in producing evidence of homosexual acts. An archimandrite who was on the faculty of SVS died of AIDS, but, again, no evidence of such (except for the problematic instance of HIV) was ever produced which could result in any “disciplining.” By the way, I am NOT an apologist for today’s OCA,, but I’d appreciate anyone at all indicating to us (until a recent event in California) ANY disciplining of homosexual clergy in the GOA, Antiochene Archdiocese, ROCOR, MP, etc., etc. with which to compare the alleged laxity of the OCA in this regard!

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          I agree that the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, should be given credit for having spoken publicly on a moral issue. More of our clergy should do that, and, unlike the Patriarch, do it OFTEN!!!! It’s not edifying to see the Archbishop of Constantinople the New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch scrambling to catch up with Roman pontiffs!

      • George,
        Of course I welcome this statement by His Holiness, but it seems to me that when we start describing statements or actions by people in authority as brave and forthright etc. when they are simply teaching the truth as we should expect them to…well, then we know we are in deep trouble.

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        At Holy Cross, I was taught that abortion is forbidden for Orthodox Christians as a form of murder. In my last year, my wife became pregnant. However, the blood tests revealed that she had also had rubella during the crucial period of her pregnancy. The doctors advised an abortion and told us that our child would be physically deformed or mentally retarded. He is neither. However, it was a very difficult time for us for obvious reasons. The faculty of Holy Cross could not have been more supportive of our decision not to have an abortion and made it quite clear that the Orthodox Church opposes abortion. My wife received Holy Unction on the feast of the Annunciation and our son was born on the feast of the Dormition. Although the blood tests did reveal that he had been exposed to German measles, he was in perfect health.

        • Glory to God! What a witness to put your trust in Him and His ways and not the worlds . . . .

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says

          There are quite a few of us out there whose mother had rubella during pregnancy. Yes, it can be quite serious, and yes, it can result in deafness (in my case), or blindness, or some other serious health issues. But, it’s not always worst-case scenario.

          What REALLY bothers me is people deciding not to vaccine for rubella, thus resulting in decreased herd immunity and causing more cases like your wife’s to occur.

          • M. Stankovich says


            I am so happy you raised this issue of vaccination. There is an epidemic of Whooping Cough (Pertussis) in California (and other states) among infants & children, but particularly life-threatening cases in infants less than 2-months old, too young to be vaccinated. Yesterday the Centers for for Disease Control & Prevention (CDCP) warned that the majority of these infants contracted Whooping Cough from adults who have not received their booster vaccinations as adults. Today, the CDCP’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report leads with the results of the national survey of vaccination coverage of children ages 19-35 months for 2012 under the Healthy People 2020 project: MMR (measles, mumps, rubella); polio; DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis); varicella (chickenpox); PCV (to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia); and Hib (to prevent Haemophilus influenzae type b, the leading cause of bacterial meningitis among children under 5 years of age). All of these are vaccine-preventable diseases, and vaccinations have fallen by 3% since 2008. Adults need the Tdap (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) booster every ten years. Adults who were born after 1957 and have not had measles, mumps, and rubella or do not have lab evidence of immunity should speak with their doctor. There are other vaccinations for aging adults that you should discuss with your doctor.

          • Brian Jackson says

            Lola, what you may not be aware of is that the FDA-approved vaccine against Rubella is manufactured using cell lines originally derived from aborted fetuses (cell lines RA273 and WI-38). Japan has developed a Rubella vaccine utilizing a cell line derived from (I believe) rabbit kidney, but this is not approved thus far for use in the United States. I mention this not to provoke, but rather because I agree with you so strongly in regard to the importance of vaccination. Nonetheless, it is also important to realize that– in contrast to so many who refuse vaccines based upon pseudoscience and popular misconceptions– there is a serious ethical problem when it come to Rubella. Unfortunately, the same is true of the Varicella vaccine and Hepatitis A. Once upon a time, Merck manufactured individual dose of vaccination against Measle (Attenuvax) and Mumps (Mumpsvax) which did not utilize human fetal cell lines (they were manufactured with chick embryo, I believe). These were rarely utilized by clinics because of their relatively short shelf-life. I donated a case of each to a pediatric clinic many years ago not only to provide my daughters with the opportunity to be vaccinated in an ethical manner against Measles and Mumps but also to provide an option for anyone who shared my objections to utilizing the “MMR” vaccine which includes Rubella. Unfortunately, Merck stopped offering these individual Mumps and Measles choices, opting to manufacture only MMR– which, because it is inclusive of Rubella, is manufactured using a human fetal cell line. I am a physician who has an account at Merck (or had), and I wrote asking why Attenuvax and Mumpsvax were no longer being manufactured and what could be done to make them available again, but I received no response. There are other vaccines manufactured using human fetal cell lines, but several have pro-life alternatives. No pro-life alternatives exist in the US however for MMR, Chicken pox/Shingles (Varicella), or Hepatitis A. Very sad. I was pleased, however, to learn that “Nature” had a recent article beginning to address this issue and the ethical problems posed.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Dr. Jackson,

              Holy Cow! Now I very distinctly recall having had this discussion with you at the time you were arranging to purchase vaccine for your daughters, but had forgotten. I apologize for this oversight. Obviously, in the interim, no advocacy has emerged on a significant scale – even something as a “purchasing broker” – for, say Orthodox family physicians in metropolitan areas. What are the possibilities & what amount of effort would be necessary to broker pro-life vaccine for use by Orthodox Christians? This, it seems to me, would be a very worthy exploration & pursuit.

              • Brian Jackson says

                Michael, I wish I had the knowledge to answer your questions; however, they’re wonderful questions, and I absolutely agree it would be a worthy pursuit.

        • Father, that is truly a wonderful testament to the mercy of God and what can happen when you trust in him and remain firm in your convictions. I too have always believed that abortion is a type of murder. However, I have had a different experience in my own life. Two years ago I took my wife into the emergency room after she complained of extremely sharp pains within her abdomen. After examination, we were told that she had a tubal pregnancy which was causing internal hemorrhaging. There was absolutely no way the pregnancy would be viable and without an abortion both the child and my wife would die. After prayer, we determined that our only option was to commit our child to the love and mercy of God and not let him be the cause of the death his mother.

          Now I believe abortion is wrong, my wife and I both went to confession afterward, but thanks be to God that our religion has a more nuanced understanding of sin and economia that my wife I still alive today. I know Catholics who would condemn what we did because their understanding of sin would not allow for such an action.

          I do believe the bishops ought to come out more openly against abortion as it is commonly practiced but given the difficulty involved in explaining economia to non orthodox, I can understand why they might sometimes be hesitant. For Catholics, the morality of an action is black or white, for orthodox, well orthodox soldiers go to confession for the kills they made during the very same battles before which priests blessed them and prayed for their victory.

          • Fr. Raphael Barberg says

            Dear Brandon, what a painful experience that must have been for the two of you. Thanks for sharing and reminding us that while we stand up for life, that we do so with compassion and not judgement, and allowing for the complexity that life often throws our way.

            God bless,
            Priest Raphael

            • Dear Brandon,

              I understand that you had a difficult decision to make regarding saving your wife’s life, but it is not my understanding that an ectopic pregnancy is ever viable or even possible. Thus, your choice would be life or death in the case of your wife, and might result in the ability of your wife to keep her fallopian tubes and to bear a child in the future.

              Thus, your choice was one for life. Note that even the most sever of life physicians mentions that an ectopic pregnancy in the fallopian tubes is not viable:


              relevant passage from the above is here:

              “What About an Ectopic Pregnancy?”

              The abortion exception for the life of the mother is the exception that most commonly seduces the sincere pro-lifer. The scenario in which this exception is most frequently packaged is an ectopic pregnancy, which is when the embryo attaches somewhere inside the mother’s body in a place other than the inner lining of the uterus. It is argued that in an ectopic pregnancy, an abortion must be performed in order to save the mother’s life.

              What is rarely realized is that there are several cases in the medical literature where abdominal ectopic pregnancies have survived! There are no cases of ectopic pregnancies in a fallopian tube surviving, but several large studies have confirmed that time and patience will allow for spontaneous regression of the tubal ectopic pregnancy the vast majority of the time. So chemical or surgical removal of an ectopic pregnancy is not always necessary to save the mother’s life after all.

              However, if through careful follow-up it is determined that the ectopic pregnancy does not spontaneously resolve and the mother’s symptoms worsen, surgery may become necessary to save the mother’s life. The procedure to remove the ectopic pregnancy may not kill the unborn child at all, because the unborn child has likely already deceased by the time surgery becomes necessary. But even if not, the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life, and the death of the unborn baby is unavoidable and unintentional.

          • Dear to Christ, Brandon,

            I second Fr. Raphael’s expession of condolences. I do not believe your action would be condemned by informed Roman Catholics either since the action taken was to preserve your wife’s life and not, directly, to take the life of your and her child, whom your testimony shows you already loved dearly and would have preferred to live.


            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              I do not think that the Roman Catholics would allow an abortion even to save the life of the mother. When my wife had our children, she went to the county hospital, because the local obstetricians would not work at the local Catholic hospital because the nuns would interfere and forbid them to save the life of the mother. Recently a Catholic Bishop excommunicated the nun who was in charge of a Catholic hospital in his diocese because she allowed an abortion to save the life of the mother. Both times my wife went into labor, I was at the Church and dressed as a priest. The staff of the hospital were not quite sure how to react to a priest with a woman having a baby. They thought that I was there to give her last rights. Later when I went to see our son in the nursery, the nurse came up to me and said, “Father the baby is all right and does not need an emergency baptism.” We were once almost denied a motel room when the desk clerk saw my driver’s license that shows me in my clerical collar. When my wife first became pregnant, I was still in seminary. For some strange reason the wives of seminarians almost always got pregnant after he was ordained a deacon. I took her out to lunch in the Italian section of Boston and got all sorts of weird looks and comments walking down the street in my clericals holding hands with a pregnant woman.

              • George Michalopulos says

                With due respect Fr, I think we should look further into this matter about the RC bishop who excommunicated the nun to “save the life of the mother.” I would be wary of pronouncing the bishop to be immediately in the wrong. Although the incident may be as exactly as you describe, my own intimate knowledge of Catholic circles causes me pause. For one thing, the phrase “to save the life of the mother” is very elastic in certain female monastic circles in the RC church. In fact, many convents are redoubts of Marxism and lesbianism.

                • Archpriest John Morris says

                  You are right since Vatican II many Roman Catholic nuns have become radical feminists and have embraced liberation theology. However, I am also quite sure that traditional Roman Catholic teaching would not make an exception on its prohibition of abortion to save the life of the mother. One of the chief differences between Orthodoxy is that we see shades of gray where Rome only sees black and white. More than once, I have had to deal with a feminist nun who has a chip on her shoulder when dealing with male clergy. That is also true of many women Protestant clergy.

              • My father faced such a question, and my understanding of the RC doctrine is that if the question is between the life of the child and the life of the mother, the RC position is to opt for the life of the child, as the mother has already had a chance to work out her salvation. My father thought that leaving six other children without a mother was a greater injury. Quite a controversy in a Catholic hospital in the 50s.

                RC will allow, for example, the removal of an ectopic pregnancy, as both would perish in that case.

                These are much more difficult questions than simply that of an abortion of convenience.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            The Orthodox Church has always taken the position that in order to save the life of the mother that an abortion is allowed. In your case, I do not think that a sin was committed. We oppose abortion as a means of birth control or in a case like my wife’s when there is a possibility that the child would be physically deformed or mentally retarded. However, the Church would never tell a woman that she must sacrifice her life to bring a pregnancy to termination. There are times when there are no good choices.

            • When an abortion is done to save the life of the mother, it does need to be confessed. The child should be given a proper burial if possible. But when the child was only aborted to save the mother from dying, the sin is not given a penance like it would if done for other reasons.

              • Helga and Fr. Morris,

                Have you ever read (or rather prayed) the prayers for a mother who has miscarried her child? I don’t essentially disagree with what you both have written here on this topic, but I do think you are leaving the impression that sin is merely a transgression, a strictly moral choice between right and wrong. There are indeed times when there are no good choices, but sin is not always a choice. It is a condition, a wound that requires healing. Ask a mother who has faced the terrible choice you describe. Ask a mother who has miscarried a child. Ask a soldier who has been ordered to kill in battle, a civilian who killed in self-defense or in the defense of his loved ones, or a person who caused someone’s death in the course of an accident.

                The Church has wonderful treatments for these wounds, treatments that actually heal the human soul. But they are all based upon a far deeper understanding of sin – one that goes far, far beyond concepts of guilt or culpability and provide infinitely greater healing than merely saying, “You had no choice. You did nothing wrong.”

                My general experience is that we shy away from offering these treatments precisely because we have come to view sin in strictly ‘moral’ terms and fear that the language of sin they employ, when understood in the shallow ‘moral’ way we have come to view it, may offend those who need it the most. I think this is very sad, a very great loss to the Church; yet it is something we can recover if we cease to teach about sin in strictly moral terms.

                • Archpriest John Morris says

                  Yes I have years ago. The Holy Synod of Antioch instructed its clergy not to use those prayers for a miscarriage years ago, because they imply that the woman is at fault because she had a miscarriage. I suspect that those prayers were originally intended for a woman who has had an abortion, not a woman who not through her own fault had a miscarriage.

                  • Fr. John,

                    You have done what you were instructed to do. That is both admirable and to be respected. I do not, however, share your suspicion that they were originally intended for a woman who has had an abortion. That would be an ex communicable offense, and the prayers can hardly be said to fit that mold.

                    That we should perceive an implication that the woman is “at fault” is precisely what I was referring to when I wrote of how we have come to view sin in strictly moralistic terms. So much alienation and lost opportunity for genuine healing comes as a result of this understanding. It saddens me greatly. I do not mean to imply that you to promote this moralistic view. I just find it to be a loss – a very great loss.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      I think you statement deserves no comment, because it speaks volumes all by itself.


    • Let’s hope that’s next.

  4. Axios!

  5. Guy Westover says

    In the sermon which he delivered in Talinn, Estonia the other day, he came out forcefully for marriage (as properly understood) and took apart the arguments for “gay marriage” in short order. He appealed to both natural law as well as the Gospel. His words were unequivocal, direct, logical, and theologically sound. They left no room for a counter-argument.

    While am admittedly left of center on this issue, I do support the Church’s teaching on Marriage.
    My argument is that for those who cannot remain chaste, there must be some pastoral solution for those who truly desire to be good Orthodox Christians but who due to basic desire for companionship, do not want to live a life of loneliness. It is easy to say that is their cross to bear, let them bear it in chastity and loneliness!

    Those over forty (and many under as well) can testify that a marriage is more than the conjugal act. Is it not better that one with same sex attraction live with and commit to one individual rather than return to the days of having to hide “in the closet” and rely on anonymous encounters? Certainly not marriage– for marriage has a purpose. While Boswell’s research was far from solid, the concept is better than the alternative.

    On another matter which Gospel did His All Holiness draw from in his sermon in Estonia (the hotbed of gay rights) that condemns homosexual marriage?

    I’m not in favor of Gay marriage, but let’s be clear what what Scriptures we can and cannot use to condemn it.

    Guy Westover

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      The Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ. It includes the gospels of SS. Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John.

      So the EP is quite right to cite the Gospel.

      Besides, Matthew 19:4-6 says it all, really.

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      Boswell’s research is more than “far from solid.” It is down right wrong. It is a fraud. He only showed his almost total ignorance of early church history. We know that from the beginning the Church has condemned homosexual relations as sinful. How could a Church that teaches that homosexual relations are sinful bless a same sex union?

      • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

        Again,my fat fingers got in the way.The thumbs down I gave you,Fr.John,was meant to be a thumbs up!

    • Michael Bauman says

      Father Stephen Freeman on his blog Glory to God for All Things:

      St. Athanasius explains that when humanity chose to break its relationship with God (through disobedience) we cut ourselves off from the source of life. However God did not take life from us (He does not take back the gifts He gives) but we removed ourselves from it. And so we die. We not only die physically, but we have a process of death at work in us. St. Paul speaks of this process as “corruption.” This movement away from and towards death and destruction reveals itself in the many broken things in our lives. We hurt and kill each other. We hurt and destroy creation. We are weak and easily enslaved to powerful things such as drugs and alcohol. We are dominated by greed, envy, lust, anger, etc. We cannot help ourselves in this matter because we do not have life within ourselves. Only God can give us the true life that alone can make us well.

      Most of what we consider “our sexuality’ falls into the movement away from life that Fr. Stephen describes. Most of “our sexuality” is at least tinged by pornographic desires (even the phrase “our sexuality”). So when you ask the Church to find a way to accommodate that corruption for a specific class of people what are you asking?

      To me you are asking that the Church and therefore Jesus Christ abandon them to perdition and death. In actuality you are asking that the Church and therefore Jesus Christ abandon all of us to perdition and death. It is not just about homosexuality nor should it be.

      It is about the nature of man, sin and redemption. Redemption is not about morals, it is about inner transformation and genuine purification. The Church should never deny anyone the opportunity for redemption especially by saying with false compassion: “Oh, just don’t worry, we know YOU can’t do it.” That is participating in death and a denial of Christ’s gift that He gave to us on the Cross.

      If the Church were to do that, it would be a message to everyone not to struggle any longer; not to strive to repent and seek union with our Lord.

      I certainly cannot condemn any one for their sins because I am worse. I can, however, hold on to the hope of resurrection and redemption through repentance–no matter how often I fall. The first step is realizing that one is powerless to correct one’s sins without help–divine help.

      From “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” to “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!” that is the message.

  6. Michael Bauman says

    Guy, while it is clear that “it is not good for man to be alone” just because one does not have a sexual partner does not mean one is alone. In our secularized state of mind, it is difficult to grasp the sense of community and partnership that exists in the Church. That difficulty means that we just have to work more to realize it, not less.

    I was reading on the Journey to Orthodoxy web site a few weeks ago about a man who was a committed Buddhist all of his life and is now an Athonite monk. When asked why he said, “For the companionship of God”.

    For those who “can’t remain celibate”: this is strictly a concession to the modern mind in which the highest form of self-expression is sexual and the sexual appetites simply irresistible. Nonsense.

    We are all called to chastity and celibacy before marriage, faithfulness and chastity during marriage. One’s inability to remain celibate is a matter of a lack of chastity first. The pastoral response of the Church should be to teach chastity and all that it entails so that we can more fully appreciate the depths of the Christian life and more effectively bear one another’s burdens in love.

    Both chastity and celibacy require that we love God more than we love ourselves and our desires. They demand that we recognize who we are as human beings: made in the image of God to be united with Him and fulfill our likeness to Him in the process. That is the basic calling of any Christian. Someone who turns away from that for any reason in favor of their own ‘irresistible desires’ is not a good Christian. For the Church to approve of such an endeavor for anyone is a abrogation of Her function.

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

      Thanks, Michael, for another insightful, well-argued post. I, for one, concur fully with your concise explication of Orthodox Tradition on the subject.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Fr. I can only give credit for any good explication to those who have taught me the faith: Bp Basil (Essay), Fr Paul O’Callaghan and the several assistant priests he has had over the years. Glory be to God for their faithfulness. By you prayers.

    • From my take of Scripture, especially the psalms, our center of being is our soul. David seems always to be concerned about his soul and his relationship to God. Today, the center of our being, is touted as being our sexuality. The only importance in life is satisfying our sexual desires. As I write this I think about the meaning of the warning we have been given, that it is very difficult to try to serve two masters.

    • Bravo! I hope you do not mind if I use your argument. Thanks, Carl

  7. Michael Kinsey says

    In the book, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology., in it’s chapter on abortion, There is one circumstance where a priest, does not demand an obedience from the mother of the unborn child. This concerned the genuine life of the mother issue. God wants a free will offering. This cannot be ordered by another soul. It must be given freely to God. The options of dying while giving birth, dying and the child lives, and both mother and child die, are presented. SHE must choose which she obeys, or abort the child and live herself or die also. The pro-aborts sense this intimate choice of self sacrifice in costly obedience, and use it as rally point. But, the Holy Orthodox Church has already compassionately addressed this issue Ontenonia, I spell it wrong. I know. They are right,, the choice in this exceedingly rare and dire human condition is the woman’s. But, only in this dire condition. There are no other exceptions.The pro-aborts used the human right in this rare condition to justify the murder of millions.I can think of no greater example of swallowing a camel and straining out a gnat..
    Since the EP has given firm Christian guidance to us, I offer this to him. i hope it helps.

  8. The trial of Archbishop Storheim has restarted..He testified on his hehave on Thursday and cross examination will begin Friday

  9. Sean Richardson says

    I am genuinely curious as to how Jesus would have responded to the issue of homosexuality during His time and during our time. What is your thinking?

    • “…and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”

      I’ve always been intrigued by these words. I am fully aware of the Church’s teaching on this topic, but I am not aware of how the Tradition understands these exact words. On the surface they could be understood as merely an expression (and a somewhat vulgar one at that) along the lines of St. Paul’s comment to the Galatians…

      “I would that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!”

      …but I suspect something far more consequential is meant. The “due penalty” seems not to imply the judgement of God – at least not in terms of His acting upon them (as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah), but rather that the penalty comes through the act itself in a way similar to how fornication is a sin against one’s own body.

      I would be interested to hear from the more learned among us as to how the Fathers and the Tradition interpret the meaning of these words.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I don’t know, but it’s possible that “…receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error” may be an ancient idiom for being sodomized. According to Plato, Socrates himself said that a man “should not plant sterile seed in a man as he would a woman.” As is well-known, homosexuality in Ancient Greece almost never involved anal penetration (sodomy per se). I’d rather not get into the intricacies of it but the orgasm of the sodomist would happen as a result of extra-orifice friction.

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      Christ speaks to us through His Church, which is His Body and is guided by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the truth about God and our relationship with God. The Church would not teach that homosexual and lesbian sexual relations are sinful, if it not the will of God.

  10. Michael Bauman says

    Sean. Why would you think Jesus would respond any differently than the Church?

    But, He likely would have said as He did to the woman caught in adultery–calling her to repentance and the rest of us to mercy.

    Remember that: Repentance and mercy. We should certainly have compassion on unrepentant sinners knowing how difficult it is to deeply repent of our own sins. Compassion does not ever negate the call to repentance however.

    Those who do not acknowledge their sins and repent die in them. That s awful to contemplate and not a fate I would wish on anyone. It is no mercy to tell someone their sin is not a sin. If you have not read Romans 1 lately, it is worth a good read and contemplation of what it really says.

  11. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    There is NO GAY MARRIAGE in the Orthodox Church, just as female circumcision is not practiced in the Orthodox Church. Why is it courageous for the Ecumenical Patriarch to denounce Gay Marriage? He’s sure that he is not going to ruffle any Greek shipowners or landlords or restaurateurs, ETC. by denouncing Gay Marriage. This is the reason he may so easily and IN TOTAL SAFETY FROM ANY CRITICISM, ‘bravely” denounces Gay Marriage. Why not denounce inter-religious marriage such as the marriage of influential Greeks to Jews in New York. You’ll have a long wait for that one too. Where does George Michalopoulos see any bravery, let alone spectacular bravery in the denunciation of something that does not occur under his omophorion? Perhaps he’ll denounce slavery or prostitution next? How about blasphemy or false witness?
    What about ADULTERY???????? What about DIVORCE based on everything BUT adultery, routinely granted for a fee in the GOA? Now those are situations requiring courage by an hierarch that has to pay millions of dollars to attain to his See. According to the Lord, all those divorced for reasons other than disobeying the Commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery, and who marry again are AUTOMATICALLY guilty of disobeying the Commandment. And, by the way, although all kinds of licentious. lewd, and perverted behaviors were found among the adherents of other religions, a prohibition against those behaviors did not find its way into what was delivered to Moses on Mt. Sinai, although buggery did find its way into the secondary Law; that of Deuteronomy, along with enjoying pork and shellfish. A BLT is an ABOMINATION.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      I will keep you in my prayers your Eminence. Have a good night, and sweet dreams.


    • Archpriest John Morris says

      The Ecumenical Patriarch does not have to speak the obvious. There is no question that the Orthodox Church condemns adultery. The Church allows remarriage only after a divorced person has shown repentance for what ever they did that helped lead to the break down of the marriage. Besides we have no adulterers rights movement. So the Church does not have to emphasize what everyone already knows, that adultery is a sin.

      • Trudge at SmartVote says

        There is much to say about this debate on the “ontological” status of same-sex attraction which Dr. Stankovich is asserting is best left to “science” and some seem to find persuasive, and it is not a trifle because of how the promotion of SSM as part of the hedonistic/atheistic/progressive world-view is turning people, especially the youth away from the will of God, and that it exposes that we modern Christians, including the Orthodox have a weak understanding of our faith, due to our minds being steeped in the Enlightenment criticisms of revealed religion, through our education and the general zeitgeist of our times, so we lack confidence, faith in the completeness of God’s revelation through Christ and the Apostles, and so are in a state of doubt.

        Chrysostom left the pursuit of fame and human scientific knowledge with his friend Basil to pursue the “true philosophy” or knowledge, a popular term for the faith among Christians at that time, because paganism and the speculations of Greek philosophy were rivals and not yet defeated. (And they sure have made a comeback!)

        However, because of our Enlightenment education we tend to see our Orthodoxy more as a religious/cultural/moral identity and compartment of our lifestyle than as a philosophy that suffuses all of life as the Apostles and Fathers understood it, as the Apostles said to the Son of Man, “Where will be go? You have the words of life.”

        Therefore we put modern science and its speculations about things beyond the scope of its instruments side by side with revealed religion, the creature, side by side with the Creator, the temporal, side by side with the eternal, the judged, side by side with the Judge.

        This fundamental error is why the first commandment is “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

        In fact the proper position of revealed religion is far above, and that of the legitimate concerns of man-produced science far below, as the source of revealed religion comes from above, and the things of man from below. This is not my thought, because you can see for yourselves that it is embedded in the language of the Scriptures, even in the language of the Son of Man himself, especially as featured in the Gospel of John.

        The temporal, tentative and fleeting conclusions of man’s “science,” the “summit of his knowledge” as Rod Serling put it as he was humbled and vexxed by our limitations and our capacity for evil, a “knowledge” which is passing, is pending to destroyed by God himself:

        But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. – 2nd Epistle of Peter, Chapter 3

        What I don’t understand is that these answers are accessible to any of us, so that we don’t have to be stuck in the orbit our own opinions and speculations, going nowhere, but could be going somewhere, shining out the light of the Gospel from our own lives like the Apostles and being good soldiers of the Christ, armed with the “sword of the spirit,” or for us moderns, the “light sabre,” the Scriptures, defeating these encroachments on the Christian faith, the “true philosophy,” to be amply rewarded in the life to come and among good company.

        Instead we could learn not only the moral teachings of the Son of Man by consulting the Scriptures, specifically his discourses in the Gospels, but also his approach to knowledge, to “science,” the true use of mankind’s scientific energies, because he had much to say about this as well.

        For the moment, I will leave you all with a short discourse from St. Mark the Ascetic’s “On the Spiritual Law” specific to the intellect and what blinds it.

        101. The intellect is made blind by these three passions: avarice, self-esteem and sensual pleasure.

        102. Scripture calls these three the daughters of the horseleech, dearly loved by their mother folly (cf. Prov. 30:15).

        103. These three passions on their own dull spiritual knowledge and faith, the foster-brothers of our nature.

        104. It is because of them that wrath, anger, war, murder and all other evils have such power over mankind.

        105. We must hate avarice, self-esteem and sensual pleasure, as mothers of the vices and stepmothers of the virtues.

        106. Because of them we are commanded not to love ‘the world’ and ‘the things that are in the world’ (1 John 2:15); not so that we should hate God’s creation through lack of discernment, but so that we should eliminate the occasions for these three passions.

        107. ‘The soldier going to war’, it is said, ‘does not entangle himself in the affairs of this world’ (2 Tim. 2:4). For he who entangles himself with the passions while trying to overcome them is like a man who tries to put out a fire with straw.

        108. If one becomes angry with one’s neighbor on account of riches, fame or pleasure, one does not yet realize that God orders all things with justice.

        109. When you hear the Lord saying that if someone does not renounce all that he has he ‘is not worthy of Me’ (Matt. 10:37), apply this not only to money but to all forms of vice.

        110. He who does not know the truth cannot truly have faith; for by nature knowledge precedes faith.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Trudge at SmartVote,

          If you infer that anything you have written here applies to me in your attempt to “simultaneously straddle Plato’s two horses,” you have lost control and been struck STUPIT! You have done exactly what I have warned against: segregating one aspect of the συμφωνία that is our humanity and fallen from the horses head-over-heels. And this, pal, is spelled h-u-b-r-i-s. You now intend to instruct me in science and theology? “Gird up now your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and answer you me.” (Job 38:3)

          We are created “κατ’εἰκόνα θεοῦ” (Gen 1:27),” Καὶ ὁ Λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο” (John 1:14) and the Word of God became everything that we are save sin. What do you have in Matthew 1:1-17? Perhaps the most startling, most precise genetic pedigree ever produced, from Abraham to Joseph the husband of Mary! Imagine!

          The single aggregate of science serves one purpose alone: to reveal, through the works of the creation, the nature of the Creator. Period. “O Lord, how manifold [ἐμεγαλύνθη – magnified/enlarged] are your works! In wisdom You have made them all!” (Ps. 103:24) “You shall have no other gods before before you?” Are you serious, Trudge?” I have said “best left to science?” You would “caution me” of my salvation by a reliance on science over Scripture? “He who does not know the truth cannot truly have faith; for by nature knowledge precedes faith.” Struck STUPIT.

          Wash your clothes, then wash yourself. Then do one of two things: either quote me directly asserting homosexuality is “best left to science” and demonstrating that I am “steeped in the Enlightenment,” or never again using my name in one of your STUPIT, ill-conceived, self-righteous rants again.

          • Trudge at SmartVote says

            Dr. Stankovich,

            I am not surprised by your abusive language because I have seen you treat others the same.

            This use of language does not befit a Christian gentleman and brother, which with all your learning you should know.

            I am taking more time to review your series on same-sex attraction before addressing it further.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Let me say this to you, Trudge: for two years I have not changed a single word of my position. It is on my site, here, and elsewhere in black & white. It is just that simple. In fact, if you search my comments, you’ll find downladable links to the PDFs of all the relevant articles on my site here on this site (for someone with poor vision). So when you say what I am

              asserting is best left to “science” and some seem to find persuasive, and it is not a trifle because of how the promotion of SSM as part of the hedonistic/atheistic/progressive world-view is turning people, especially the youth away from the will of God, and that it exposes that we modern Christians, including the Orthodox have a weak understanding of our faith, due to our minds being steeped in the Enlightenment criticisms of revealed religion, through our education and the general zeitgeist of our times, so we lack confidence, faith in the completeness of God’s revelation through Christ and the Apostles, and so are in a state of doubt.

              yours is an “old claim” here. By a non-threatening demeanor and a smooth “patter,” it all sounds good, no? “Poison, my pretties,” said the Wicked Witch of the West as she narcotizes by poppies; “sleep my pretties.” And seriously, Trudge, who is actually going to investigate miRNA, the “non-coding transcription assistant?” I’ve said before, I might well be a slicked-backed punk with gold in my mouth, but my essays have been there for two years, as transparent and open to correction as the day they were posted.

              And finally, Trudge, I believe your final sentence earned me the right to use the “abusive” language that I did, because as near as I can tell, a gentleman and brother would have utilized his own advice about “taking more time to review” before attempting to stuff that WHOLE 12-paragraph package of bubble gum into my my mouth.

          • This is crazy talk Stankovich, especially coming from a man who councils other people professionally. You affirm my belief that more often than not those who seek the profession of counciling others are most in need of it themselves. You respect Peter P. for “talking your language on the subject” and yet what Peter found is not necessarily at odds with what Trudge wrote. You yourself pick people to attack if they don’t “talk your language”. You appear not to know how to agree to disagree and keep the peace or give people the benefit of the doubt if they don’t say it “how you want them to” that maybe what they are saying has truth in it. I can’t respect that. Like I pointed out before, you swing emotionally all over the place-that is YOUR problem. Do not take it out on other people.
            You also want me to go through your writings and tell you how exactly you are misleading people with your secular thoughts. Well if you truly believe what Peter wrote I don’t have a problem with your facts -it’s leaning towards people being able to change and I know people can, so I have no problem with that. But who knew that is what you believed?! I do not have the time to go through your long, rambling writings like you want us all to. If you have a point to make-what I learned from Fr. Meyendorff is that if you really know your subject you can make a child understand it in short order. You do not need to go on and on. Perhaps writing is not your talent. Well then ok, don’t beat people over the head because you are hard to understand! Some of us do not have the time to read or write on one blog, let alone on the multitudes you write on. My advise-spend more time with your friends and less on the blogs. Learn to not harange people, but love them even though you don’t agree and finally-let someone else write your point if you can’t do it well or are going to belittle people if they don’t agree or understand you. I would like to think the best of you, but I can’t when you act like this . . . .
            You can leave my payment on the table . . . . .

            • M. Stankovich says


              I am trying my best to not focus on the fact that your comments are personal, about me the person, Michael, whom you have never met, nor exchanged a single word – or for that matter shared room air – nor heard my voice, nor “felt” my emotions, or the great passion I have for my patients, or my enthusiasm for their “possibility.” No one, not a single one, leaves my presence without the message of hope. Never. Twice I have been issued the $5 ass-kicking trying to rescue a colleague under attack. It was not courageous, it was not bravery – had I stopped and thought about it, I probably would have stood frozen or run for help – it was pure instinct and pure dumb. I think that makes me a friend. After the last situation, I am disabled, unable to work full-time, medicated for seizures and motor-tremor, and it basically changed my career. And so it goes… I worried I would never “rescue” my executive functions enough to write cogent essays again. I started a blog “off-line” with dictation software and spell-check and proof reading, just to “practice.” Obviously, I’m still “practicing.” It is so ironic that my blog is “renowned” for a handful of essays regarding homosexuality, when nearly 50 posts are about my day-to-day interactions with convicted felons in prison, the homeless, and the persistently mentally ill.

              More that eighty-percent of the patients I have seen recidivate and return to prison, despite my best effort, my hopes, and my prayers for their success. I could “reframe” the situation and say there is a chance I “planted seeds in them could bear fruit at a later time” blah, blah, blah. The numbers do not lie and I do not place bets. Yet, I am as passionate, enthusiastic, and hopeful as the day I began. I sincerely believe God prevents us from seeing the good we might accomplish lest we begin to foolishly imagine that we are the source. Imagine! To that end, I say to you again, colette, you do not know me from anyone. You have nothing to learn from me, and do not allow me to be a stumbling-block for you. This probably is crazy talk for all I know.

              • Of course it’s personal. I’m talking about your behavior. And I know your thoughts from this blog. I don’t dislike hearing about your life or your stories, but you’ve used it as a distraction rather than apolgizing more often than not for your out-of-line name calling and behavior in general. If you can stop all that and simply say you disagree and why-civil like, than I won’t feel the need to speak up.
                Also, this is what it is-incomplete in knowing a person but if you need to see a person face to face to know them (I would agree)-then I’ll call you next time I visit my family in CA to meet in person . . .

                • M. Stankovich says

                  As I’m reasonably certain my original comment to you will forever remain “in moderation,” colette, let me share the “nice” parts: I’ll bet you’re a marvellous mother, but you are not mine. But I humbly accept the advice of my friend Fr. George, who quoted me Proverbs (Imagine!), and I cooled my jets. And like so many times before, and undoubtedly like so many times to come, I express my gratitude to you for holding up a “mirror.”

                  “O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before you: Let my prayer come before you: incline your ear to my cry!” (Ps. 87:1-2) Some days are better than others, colette, “Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? and Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” (v.12) “[and] while I suffer your terrors I am distracted.” (v.15). Aye! But I am always responsible – “Where shall I run?” (Ps. 138:7) And the victory is not in the outcome, but in the struggle. And a struggle it is, every single day. And so it goes…

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    While we’re talking Proverbs, this one is near my favorite (and one that doesn’t seem to get quoted in the current debates):

                    “Three things are too wonderful for me,
                    four I do not understand:
                    the way of an eagle in the sky,
                    the way of a serpent on a rock,
                    the way of a ship on the high seas,
                    and the way of a man with a maiden.”

                  • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                    Yes, she is a marvelous mother, and I encourage you to take up her offer to meet for a chat when she is in CA.

        • “Trudge at SmartVote” writes:

          The temporal, tentative and fleeting conclusions of man’s “science,” the “summit of his knowledge” as Rod Serling put it as he was humbled and vexxed by our limitations and our capacity for evil, a “knowledge” which is passing, is pending to destroyed by God himself:

          But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. – 2nd Epistle of Peter, Chapter 3

          This pericope, from a letter composed in elegant Greek and whose rhetoric asserts Petrine authorship — an assertion much debated in antiquity and which, taken literally, is rejected by a great majority of NT scholars today, who view it as pseudoepigraphical (unlike 1 Peter) — seems to be a favorite of ‘evangelical’ “fire and brimstone” types, many of whom show little or no mystical insight into the sublime meanings of the Holy Scriptures. More alarmingly, a subset of these imposters strike me as almost nihilistic in sensibility, and profoundly self-deceived.

          I don’t mean to suggest that such deep pathology might afflict you, “Trudge.” But since you’ve taken it upon yourself to cite this periciope, please unfold its magnificent, luminous meaning for your readers — if you intended to imply that you comprehend it fully. I’ll be listening closely.

          If you don’t comprehend it, then I have a stern question for you: Why quote it?

          Whether Peter actually wrote it or not, or dictated it or not, I love this little epistle and understand its inclusion in the canon. What I definitely do not love are the gross and deceptively unspiritual pseudo-interpretations of this and other writings that are sometimes foisted on the unwary and credulous by certain inadequately learned and uninspired individuals. The ones who wander about in a falsely ‘evangelical’ Twilight Zone themselves, a tragic space populated by very questionably motivated heretics, schismatics and charlatans. Please demonstrate to us that you aren’t one of them, if you can.

          And another thing: why are you anonymous?

          • Trudge at SmartVote says


            These same concepts are reiterated throughout the Scriptures, if you don’t like this one, including by the Son of Man. Your beef is with the Church, not with me, for canonizing the 2nd Epistle of Peter, and also remember the role of the secretary, which even St. Paul used.

            Please see my latest comment (after being moderated) which is under the Matthew Shepard post on St. Basil’s take on the “vanity” of the human scientific enterprise.

            • I beg your pardon?

              (Forgive me also for the following insipid clarification of my (our) evidently mysterious views. I don’t have time today to do this topic the creative justice it deserves. But I didn’t want to ignore your inartful dodging or let slide without comment your clearly envious ressentiment and a certain lack of due reverence for scholarship and solid human achievements. So this will have to do for the moment.)

              A polite suggestion: Please reread what I actually wrote, with more attention this time. Please exert some effort to distinguish between your misreading and my intended meaning. I thought that was clear enough, “. . . Whether Peter actually wrote it or not, or dictated it or not, I love this little epistle and understand its inclusion in the canon.” But I’ll make it plainer for you: I adore II Peter.

              It’s right up there among my all-time favorites in literature (which is really saying something). In fact, I’d love it even more if it was in fact written or dictated by that once impulsive, heart-on-his-sleeve, unlettered Galilean fisherman Simon, named Petros by our Lord. The man whose faith in his Rabbi’s Divinity, revealed to him by His Father, was the petra that today still calls human beings out of this passing world age into The Exodus, to worship His Father in His mosaic Temple of living “stones,” in Spirit and Truth, and to become Citizens of Eternity in the Kingdom of God — where Love reigns, with forgiveness and mercy. Not imposture, injustice, wickedness, greed, cruelty, hatred, violence and LIES.

              Still under construction, everyone is welcome to labor and to prayer in Him, working together in synergy with Christ’s Mother, His Holy Apostles and the Saints of all the ages. He still invites his disciples today to accomplish their own transfiguration into dynamic Saints in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Further still, he invites us to glorify His Heavenly Father by becoming gods in His Grace, so we might give thanks always for His infinite, inexhaustible, omnipotent Heavenly riches. Above all things, we should desire to share these Heavenly Gifts with all our brothers and sisters, who include, potentially, everyone alive on Earth right now, whether in the womb or out,

              . . . a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues . . . –Revelation of St. John the Divine 7:9

              We ought also to thank Him for all the blessings of His very good Earth, which it is His will to transfigure and heal through us, in holy combat against those who are destroying it. We should desire to share the Good News with every living thing, which as you may recall St. Francis has instructed us to do, as our duty in Christ.

              “. . . We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who revere Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth. — Revelations 11”

              So, “Trudge,” as you can see (?) I got no beef with the Church, or II Peter.


              I suspect, however, that I definitely do have a beef with “these same concepts” to which you allude. I suspect this because your posts thus far suggest a crude incapacity to distinguish between science (and scholarship in general), that magnificent human achievement (though still flawed, incomplete, and far from shore*), and scientism, that monstrous and detestable idolatry built on desert sands — which has sequelae of ever deepening, ever darkening delusion. But I want to arrive at a better model of what “these same concepts” are, those ideas resident in your mind, and this is why I ask you to unpack and expound upon them for your readers. You appear to me to be claiming that your understanding, which you represent by the words “these same concepts,” is identical to or at least significantly approaches how Christ’s Church understands them, who, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, correctly interpret the Holy Torah & the Oracles of the Kings and Prophets and Scribes of Judah and the Israel of God. If your implicit claim is true, then you should be competent to perform as requested (which I repeat for your convenient reference):

              But since you’ve taken it upon yourself to cite this periciope, please unfold its magnificent, luminous meaning for your readers — if you intended to imply that you comprehend it fully. I’ll be listening closely.

              *The tragic result of a mutiny in time, when Captain Kirk got thrown overboard in a rebellion instigated by certain pirates . . .

  12. Gay marriage is still not legal in Turkey.

  13. cynthia curran says

    “Boswell’s research is more than “far from solid.” It is down right wrong. It is a fraud. He only showed his almost total ignorance of early church history. We know that from the beginning the Church has condemned homosexual relations as sinful. How could a Church that teaches that homosexual relations are sinful bless a same sex union?”
    I agree, that his research is flawed. Was there a Byzantine emperor that might have sex with men or boys, that’s a possibly since there is a 1000 years of Emperors. In fact Theodosius the second wrote a law against sex with boys but some ancient source from what I read about child abuse in the Byzantine empire or Roman Empire in the middle ages mentions that he might have had this problem. Also, a another figure that has a bad repute from the ancient sources is Justinian’s right hand man John of Cappadocia, Praetorian Perfect of the East, in charge of collecting taxes he was accuse by John Lydius with having sex with both women and boys, also was a glutton and drunkard. Not a nice man but was handy if you needed the taxes for the government treasury and usually followed orders. He was the other extreme of too much drinking and eating, and sex. Boswell can draw information from these accounts as well.

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      That there were homosexuals during the time of the Byzantine Empire does not prove Boswell’s argument that the Orthodox Church blessed same-sex unions. Boswell as a gay activist who wrote propaganda and not history. It has only been accepted because it is politically correct. I do not think that any serious historian accepts his conclusions.
      There is a whole movement to reinterpret Church history to support feminism and gay rights. They have invented a mythological view that originally there were women priests and bishops and that the male bishops used their authority to oppress women by ending the ordination of women. The problem is that there is no historical evidence to support this mythological view of early Church history. Another problem is that those who accept this argument show a great deal of ignorance. For example a woman called Karen J. Torjesen wrote a book called When Women Were Priests. She bases her argument on the fact that the early Church met in houses and since women ran the households in the ancient world, they must have presided over the Eucharist when it was offered in their home. Any idiot can see through that argument. Another piece of evidence she used is that they found ancient tomb stones of women who were called Presbyterias. Again, anyone who knows anything about Orthodoxy knows that the wife of a priest is given the honorific title Presbyteria. The idea that the Church fell very early into corruption and changed the message of Christ is a rather old Protestant argument that goes back to the Reformation. At the end of the 19th century a German scholar Adolph von Harnack wrote a massive multi volume History of Dogma in which he argued that the idea of dogma was a corruption caused by the Hellenization of the ancient Church. This laid the foundation for people like Boswell and Torjesen.

      • Archpriest John Morris says (September 13, 2013 at 10:58 pm:

        ‘…. Another problem is that those who accept this argument show a great deal of ignorance. For example a woman called Karen J. Torjesen wrote a book called When Women Were Priests. She bases her argument on the fact that the early Church met in houses and since women ran the households in the ancient world, they must have presided over the Eucharist when it was offered in their home. Any idiot can see through that argument. Another piece of evidence she used is that they found ancient tomb stones of women who were called Presbyterias. Again, anyone who knows anything about Orthodoxy knows that the wife of a priest is given the honorific title Presbyteria….’


        Fr John Morris is misremembering something here, but he’s on the right track.

        One of my professors invited Karen Torjesen to sit in on one of our PhD-level patristics seminars. In preparation for her visit, I read When Women Were Priests, (not a very long book, as can be imagined) and I was seriously disappointed in the patterns she formed when she connected the dots she liked and ignored some of the most obvious implications of her studies.

        A catholic priest had called KT’s attention to an ancient mosaic portraying a woman with the title episkopissa, observing that the word had been vandalized, probably by someone ignorantly assuming that the portrait was that of a bishopess. The female figure was not wearing any form of omophorion, which was conventional in the ikonography of the time when depicting a bishop, but this detail seems to have escaped the notice of everyone who bothered to comment.

        I pointed out to KT that, in Greek, the wife of a deaon (diakonos) is called diakonissa, the wife of a priest (presbyteros) is a presbytera, and the wife of a bishop (episkopos) — back in the days when bishops had wives — would logically then be described as an episkopissa.

        Well, KT and the professor spluttered and hemmed and hawed trying to find a way to knock a hole in the facts as I presented them. Neither woman — both ardent feminists — had ever discussed the matter with Greek-speaking orthodox Christians. Any old yiayia could have saved them considerable embarrassment.

        Now, that incident took place about fifteen years ago, shortly after the book was published in 1995. I don’t think that KT’s book has gained any more of a following since then, nor do I know if that waste of paper was ever reprinted.

        Wait till I post something about John Boswell!

        • Archpriest John Morris says

          You are probably right. It has been a long time since I read the book. I bought it to see what arguments they could present and was greatly disappointed by the poor quality of scholarship in Ms. Torjesen’s work. The feminists have invented a mythological view of early church history that has no basis in fact. However, facts do not matter to committed ideologues. I have found that the feminist and other liberal scholars have virtually no knowledge of early Christian history. Even those that claim they do present a very incomplete picture. Elaine Pagels made Gnosticism fashionable among feminist circles, but conveniently has failed to discuss the more bizarre aspects of Gnostic teaching. Instead, she created a politically correct Gnosticism that is really an ancient form of the new age movement but actually bears little resemblance to the real Gnosticism that the Church had to fight to preserve the truth of the Gospel.

          • Well, here’s what I had to say about John Boswell.

            The Ritual for Making Brothers
            Monk James Silver
            (an edited version of an essay sent to an on-line discussion group in March 1996)

            I must admit that I wasn’t exactly delighted to see this subject returned for discussion, since it seemed to produce such strong reactions on the last go-round. Perhaps now that we’ve attempted to subdue our passions by fasting for a few weeks, we can examine the matter a little more serenely.

            But before my intentions are misinterpreted, please allow me to state unequivocally, and without reservation, that physical, sexual relations between people who are unmarried are sinful, by every standard of morality known to Christianity. This is no more — or less – true for people of the same sex than it is for people of opposite sexes.

            The Church rejoices in the divine institution of human marriage: two Christians, one male and one female, united in Christ, fulfilling His commandments and helping each other to ‘work out their salvation in fear and trembling’. The reciprocations of their life together, including their sexual relations, are sacred, sanctifying, and intrinsic to their marriage, since, as the Lord says, the two of them have become ‘one flesh’. Perhaps we can see the ‘one flesh’ best in the new human life generated by two human beings when they become parents: one body (a child) is created by two bodies (his or her mother and father).

            But these blessings cannot be received or experienced in sexual relations outside of marriage, whether or not children result, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. The immorality of creating children outside of marriage is clear and unquestionable. Also, intentional mechanical insemination by any means, including in vitro technology, instrumental introduction of semen, and intercourse for purely functional purposes such as surrogacy (as opposed to the context of a married couple’s loving relationship in which sexual relations are expressions of love and commitment) is also unquestionably immoral. There are grave moral implications to the use of in vitro fertilization even if both male and female cells are derived from people who are married to each other, since incipient human lives are almost invariably ended, murdered at the earliest stage of existence. Still, especially when children are involved — however they arrived — we must be compassionate and responsive to some often very painful realities.

            That much being said: In my humble opinion, the state or condition of heterosexuality as an abstract category in itself is no more a virtue than that of homosexuality is a vice. It appears that ‘sexual orientation’ is not a matter of moral choice, but a construct of self-awareness which is the result of many factors beyond the moral control of individual people.

            But it must be affirmed by Christians that the choices we make in our respective contexts do, indeed, have moral content. The choice of an individual man and an individual woman to have a sexual relationship outside of marriage is not blessed, but their sexual relationship within marriage is blessed abundantly if they obey Christ’s commandments.

            I apologize for restating this material, which is not new to most of the subscribers to this List, but it may be helpful to someone picking up the thread at some distance from its beginning.

            JOHN BOSWELL, a rightly well respected historian at Yale, wrote two major books on the theme of homosexuality: Christianity, Homosexuality and Social Tolerance, and Same-Sex Unions in Early Modern Europe. I read the first study shortly after it appeared, just out of general interest, and I found its scholarship unassailable. When the second book was published, one of my brothers (my sibling — not a monastic brother) who is gay, gave it to me in the hope that I’d be able to find something in it to validate him. This wasn’t an unreasonable assumption on his part, since he had faith in my own scholarly abilities (what loyalty — that’s a brother for you!), and he knew that I had some respect for the earlier work.

            Sadly, we were both disappointed. I, because I was dismayed at Boswell’s shoddy scholarship in the second book, and my brother because he had honestly hoped that, somehow, the Church would find room for him and his self-definitions.

            Let me address my brother’s reaction first. We know that the Church is a ‘hospital for sinners’ — whatever our sins may be — and that homosexual sinners need the Church as much as anyone else.

            My brother’s perception, and that of many homosexual men and women, is that the Church doesn’t want them, that we somehow isolate this one area of human sinfulness and declare it — more than any other — so abominable that it cannot be treated even as a sin. We know that this is a misrepresentation of the Church, but we must also confess our own sins of bigotry and intolerance.

            We Christians have used terrible words and displayed most un-Christ-like attitudes in our response to homosexuals in ways which somehow never occur to us to use in our dealings with, say, liars, thieves and murderers. We have somehow allowed ourselves to indulge in a condemnation of homosexuals so as to make it seem as if their sin was the only unforgivable sin, and that the usual opportunities of repentance and forgiveness offered to all Christians will not be available to them.

            In our own attempts to live the evangelical life, we might remind ourselves of our Lord Jesus Christ’s attitude toward the various concepts elaborated in Chapter 8 of St John’s Gospel, where He clearly points out the sin of those who would condemn the woman who was caught committing adultery. In that same event, He just as clearly identifies the sin of adultery but does not condemn the sinner, who appears repentant, accepts His forgiveness and departs with His injunction to sin no more.

            As must we all, homosexuals cannot legitimately seek to be excused from moral accountability for their actions, sexual and otherwise. It is insufficient for homosexuals to plead that, since they think themselves incapable of heterosexual marriage, they are entitled to some sort of dispensation from the divine economy so that they, too, may have emotional and sexual dimensions to their lives which would otherwise be forbidden.

            The prophet Isaiah (IS 56) anticipates the Lord’s statements about ‘eunuchs’, promising that if they keep the Lord’s Commandments, the fact that they produce no children will not only not be held against them, but will provide an even greater opportunity for virtue. In my humble opinion, this concept, too, needs to be reaffirmed in the light of the current controversy over ‘gay adoption’, which I think is less honestly offered as a refuge for orphans than as an opportunity for homosexuals to imitate parenthood, and so hope to claim some parity with societal norms of family life. .

            The moral and ethical aspects of childlessness and adoption notwithstanding, the Tradition asserts that such an exception does not exist for homosexuals. We might consider the very special kharisma of those who are given the grace (kharis) of lifelong virginity, like many monastics (see MT 19 — the whole chapter is germane to this issue). Again, the various human qualities which make us alike also make us unique, but all for the glory of God, not for our own glory, as Jesus says when questioned about the reasons why someone should be born blind, for example. Substitute the word ‘gay’ for ‘blind’ in the ninth chapter of St John’s Gospel, and see if it works as an index of the inscrutable will of God.

            It was with a heavy heart that I had to explain all these things again to my brother with no hint of a change in the Tradition. He accepted the truth of what I told him, but he was unhappy, like the wealthy young man in the Gospel, because he felt unable to ‘be perfect’.

            The problem, as we identified it in that discussion, was twofold: If Boswell were correct in identifying adelphopoiEsis as the ritual used by the orthodox to unite two men in ‘marriage’, why did the Church stop doing it? And, if the Church insisted that Boswell was wrong, we would be perceived as either being untruthful to protect our vested interest in persecuting homosexuals, or unresponsive to the needs of homosexual Christians. Either way, the Church could not be seen as doing the right thing without fully embracing Boswell’s hypothesis. This is where my brother’s problem leaves off, and mine begins.

            I read Same-Sex Unions very thoroughly, almost compulsively, because I had to answer to my brother. In the process, I noticed, more often than I can recall, that Boswell’s footnotes frequently included statements referring to Latin, Greek or Slavonic quotations as meaning ‘literally….’, when, in fact, no such thing was true. This bothered me greatly, since John Boswell was no slouch at learning languages.

            And I began to wonder if he might just be ‘playing to the house’, saying just what his constituency wanted to hear, reveling in his status as the gay intellectual darling of the decade, perhaps knowing that at the same time as he was providing false fodder to his flock, that he would never be held accountable for his inaccuracies, intentional or unintentional, by his more literate critics, since he would soon lose his life to AIDS.

            Please don’t accuse me of being arch or vindictive; I’m trying very hard to cut Boswell a little slack for his otherwise indefensible conclusions, since they don’t hold up liturgically, linguistically, or ethically.

            The recent posts here by Nicholas Zymaris, recounting the modern performance of adelphopoiEsis in Greece in 1982, and in Athos (but not for monks) could use some documentation, conceptual as well as circumstantial. Without that documentation, I’m going to take the risk of suggesting that whatever the Prayer Book’s (eukhologion) intentions for adelphopoiEsis might be, whether in Greece or Albania or elsewhere, they do not now, nor ever did constitute a liturgical solemnization of a ‘marriage’ between two men.

            Boswell himself (unwittingly, perhaps) gives the reasons why this is so:
            1. Although he alludes to their existence in several places, he never adduces a non-Byzantine (Roman, Celtic, Gallican, East Syrian, Coptic) text, nor a text for uniting two women under similar circumstances. Clearly, marriage exists in the Church for all time, not just in the Hellenistic world; women are just as likely as men to marry.
            2. The very name of the service means the ‘making brothers’, on the same legal and linguistic continuum as the adoption of children. A relationship between Christians is created where one did not previously exist by blood or bond, and that new relationship is recognized by both civil and ecclesial law. This can occur only between people who are already not related as parents and children, or as siblings. The legal relationship is created to satisfy some sort of need, usually one of inheritance or of family alliance, such as would be helpful in times of stress such as war, famine, contagion, or to establish the legitimacy of children. If two men are ‘made brothers’, they cannot contract any sort of ‘marriage’ just as surely as a man and woman adopted by the same parents/sponsors cannot marry. Quoting Zepos on p 229, Boswell amazingly notes that adelphopoiEsis does not create a kinship which would exclude marriage among the men’s relatives in the same way as a true marriage between a man and a woman would. It is maddening to observe that Boswell cannot see that this, in itself, indicates that the Church sees this as a loving, trusting, Christian relationship between two male friends with absolutely no connotation of marriage. ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see.’ Besides, two men who are brothers by birth, or by contract and blessing, would be committing incest, should they engage in sexual activity with each other.
            3. The fact, freely acknowledged by both Boswell and Zymaris, that monastics may not enter into adelphopoetic relationships, has nothing to do with the monastic vow of virginity. It has everything to do with the financial and legal implications of such relationships. The same principle which informs the canonical disability of monks and nuns to be sponsors at Baptism and Marriage also forbids them from establishing ‘brotherhood’ with another person, monastic or not. The principle is this: if Mr X has a strong bond of affection with Mr Y, and Mr X is, let’s say, drafted into the army (25-year stints were not uncommon in orthodox lands, including Russia, well into the twentieth century), Mr X might enter into an adelphopoetic relationship with Mr Y, who would then agree to care for Mr X’s wife, family and financial affairs in the event of his extended absence, incapacity or death. This act was perceived as completely mutual, so that Mr X would thereby incur the same obligations toward Mr Y’s family. In some sense, adelphopoiEsis might be construed as a legal and sacred enactment of a sort of mutual ‘power of attorney’. But not a marriage!

            As mentioned above, monks and nuns are canonically disabled from entering into any sacramental sponsorship or financial responsibility for anyone else’s affairs, because their ascetic vows imply a level of personal poverty which might well make them incapable of discharging such responsibilities effectively. Even so, I know of at least one case in the European DP camps (temporary shelters for ‘displaced persons’) where a monk (a bishop of my acquaintance, my own spiritual father) adopted some Russian refugee children after the Second World War as an act of kindness and to be an example to his flock.

            I know of another case where a monk (a priest) was asked to sponsor a child in Baptism in a situation much less stressful. He declined, because of his canonical disability. The unreasonably demanding mother of that child then telephoned the bishop (another one — not the man who adopted the war orphans) and importuned him to force the reluctant monk to serve as her child’s sponsor. That bishop — ignorant of the law — complied with the mother and gave the monk an obedience to serve as sponsor. May that monk be blessed for his obedience, if not for his breach of church law. I myself (unwillingly) served as sponsor, with a blessing, for one of my spiritual children, a former Episcopal priest. He’d already finished college, so my financial obligations as godfather were pretty well non-existent, and he has no sister who might possibly become my wife! So, there are exceptions.

            Bearing all that in mind, the suggestion, put forward by Zymaris, that there is a ‘well-known gay community’ in Athos (per the usually anti-Church ‘Greek American’) is sort of irrelevant. The only communities in Athos are the hierai politeiai, the ‘sacred communities’. We have already established that monastics do not enter into adelphopoetic relationships. If some monks are unfaithful to their vows, how does that validate Boswell?

            And Hans Ebensten, the well known promoter of gay men’s vacation-package tours, is considered an authority?! Do I detect a possible conflict-of-interest issue here? I respectfully suggest that Karyes refuse to issue any more diamonitEria (Athonite visas) to Ebensten’s tours, if they haven’t already taken that decision.

            If any of this overly long post appears to be anti-gay, please forgive me. That was not my intention. But the Tradition remains in place, and we work within it, not against it, if we consider ourselves orthodox. I wish to be interpreted only as pro-Christian, not as anti-anything. Please remember me in your prayers.

            • ChristineFevronia says

              “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

              “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb… My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

              It’s easy to mentally fiddle around with definitions of what is right and what is wrong. It is far more difficult to open up our hearts to the possibility that only the Creator sees the big picture and knows the whole story (beginning to end) of His creation.

              Isn’t all life sacred–without conditions? No matter how it was created? In vitro or in a test tube? Couldn’t our Heavenly Father have His hands guiding both processes? And isn’t our vocation to love unconditionally–whether a human being is gay or straight?

              We have such a propensity to label others, and that is why the mysterious process of confession is so counter-cultural. We can arrive to confession as a thief, as a harlot, as a glutton, as a liar, as an adulterer. And we leave as an adopted child of God, having our honesty rewarded with God’s incredible grace that washes away that former identity. To cast judgment upon our brethren who’ve gone through the sacrament of confession and identify them with their former sins–well, I think that is to set ourselves up as Christ the Judge.

              • Michael Bauman says

                ChristineF: No matter how much love we have there are some things that are unlawful. We have the responsibility to discern and direct people away from unlawful, harmful and self-destructive behavior, of course taking care of our own such behavior too.

                There is a reason Jesus Christ says: “Go and sin no more” and His words recorded in the Bible frequently talk about Hell.

                My bishop has said that all children are gifts of God, but the manner in which they are conceived may not be, especially if other lives are intentionally ended as a result.

                Not every way in which we use the gifts of creativity and technology are God-given. You might as well say that God gave us nuclear weapons and therefore we should have no compunction about using them.

                There are times when all of us must individually say no to activities that harm our souls–the same goes for our technology: just because we can does not mean we should.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              I think that you are somewhat unfair concerning the vocal opposition of the Church to the normalization of homosexuality and same sex marriage. If the gays had not made an issue of it through gay pride parades and months and the drive to force society to recognize their relationship as equal to heterosexual marriage. If the gays had not made an issue of their demands for recognition, the Church would not be forced to respond by defending Biblical principles of Christian morality against constant assault from the pro-gay crowd.

            • Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
              The journal Traditio carried a devastating scholarly critique of Boswell’s thesis on adelphopoiesis (for more on which see (Likewise “activist” but weak scholarship occurred in expert testimony in the Lawrence vs. Texas case in the same era, which made historical arguments that Classical philosophy accepted homosexuality in ways not supported by actual evidence, as Robert George of Princeton showed in a detailed rebuttal.)
              Boswell took an essentialist position re identity politics, that homosexual identity was essentially set in pre-modern as well as modern times. This put him at odds with Michel Foucault and what became queer theory/studies today, which sees sexuality in much more fluid terms; Foucault argued that essential identities in sexuality did not appear until around the time of the Enlightenment.
              The fault line between the two views exposed a basic friction within the movement to change Christian-based public mores, between the ontological view of fixed sexuality and the view of it as socially constructed. Some LGBT activists object to the former because they say it would deprive them deterministically of any agency as persons.
              Examining that fault line we can see that without the modern secular model of an essential “sexual identity” (multiplied in however many forms) we are left with a model of biological sex and non-genetically-determined sexual identity, which does not rationally support the identity politics of arguments for the state needing to change marriage.
              The lack of awareness of that fault line (and of the problem of the lack of definitive deterministic proof in the nature vs. nurture debate) stems I think from the influence of a new secular sense of natural law, which has placed itself (often irrationally) at odds with the traditional Christian sense of natural law. (The latter is echoed indirectly in the Declaration of Independence’s “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” but also has been confused by Catholic rationalistic notions of natural law.)
              Herman Engelhardt put the Orthodox view best I think when he wrote:
              “Natural law is, after all, the spark of God’s love in our nature, not the biological state of affairs we find in broken nature. Natural law is not an objective external constraint, but the will of the living God experienced in our conscience. It is this natural law, the law of God in our nature, which calls for carnal sexuality to be accomplished only within marriage. Anything else is unnatural in violating the law God established in Eden and renewed through Christ….These are not judgments about the unnaturalness, perversity, or deviance of acts in a secularly biological or medical sense of those behaviors constituting unsuccessful adaptations by reference to either inclusive fitness or personal fulfillment. The Christian moral-theological reference point for the appropriateness of sexual behavior is the creation of humans as male and female and the restoration of the union of Adam and Eve in the Mystery of matrimony.”
              Secular natural law today revolves around usually unexamined concepts and terms such as “social justice,” “sustainability,” and “diversity,” which of themselves can express Christian perspectives, and in fact have Christian roots, but which have become explicitly God-less and implicitly anti-Christian in this new secular natural law (sometimes openly anti-Christian although often simply seeking to erase Christian perspectives it seems).
              An important challenge for us today, in my view, is to develop an apologetic for traditional marriage that re-Christianizes such terms, much in the same way that the early Christians needed to Christianize the dominant Hellenistic culture, and that points out that arguments for the state changing the definition of marriage involve an essentialist view of human identity at odds with even the current secular view of natural law. Thus we need to develop arguments for traditional marriage as expressive of real social justice, sustainability, and diversity, for example.
              Of course, more deeply we need to pray and provide good examples in our own lives and in those of our communities, which is the most difficult struggle. But the apologetic struggle is also a part of the charge given the Church to evangelize the world and for us to be good Samaritans to our neighbors and community, whether Orthodox or not. It recognizes the state as included within the Kingdom of God and not above it, as today’s technocratic state claims, and the importance of community to Christianity.
              Please pray for me a sinner,

        • Michael Bauman says

          Saunca, covering a blasphemous lie is not charity.

          If someone chooes to display their own ignorance in public with the intent of demeaning the Church….well,they got what was righteously deserved wwithout malice or rancour.

          Covering another’s sins applies to those who are struggling in repentance and to those whose sins are private. Even then the whole Church should know when someone is obstinately unrepentent.

        • ‘Saunca’ needs to realize that I was in a doctoral seminar comprising students of several different christian persuasions, clergy, seminarians, and fellow travelers, and led by an unregenerate heretical feminist.

          As I recall, there was one rather reticent Roman Catholic in the group, and I the only Orthodox.

          The professor and her guest were misrepresenting US and Holy Tradition, and it was incumbent on me — the only one in the room who knew better — to set them straight.

          I regret that this irritated ‘Saunca’ or anyone else.

        • geo michalopulos says

          Saunca, in an academic setting, there is no reason for critics of a speaker to be reticent about anything. I’m not saying a respondent should be a jerk but this pussy-footing gets us nowhere. And the Left never abides by the Marquess of Queensbury rules anyway. Witness a recent public tongue-lashing they gave to Gen Petraeus as he was leaving a class he teaches at a New York college. Was this the actions of gentlemen and ladies? Hardly.

          I’m sure that there are thousands of disaffected and ex-Episcopalians who wished they had listened to Archbishop Dmitri Royster of Thrice-blessed memory when he begged the House of Bishops back in 76 to reconsider the ordination of women as priestesses. If more individual Episcopalians had stood up and given ECUSA holy hell they wouldn’t be the joke denomination that they’ve become. There’s a time to have WASP-ish good manners and a time to behave like a hillbilly issuing a Rebel Yell.

          • Perhaps the good Monk James did not use the word “spluttered” to your satisfaction; but the use of the term “spluttered” was perhaps very apropos to what he observed. Perhaps a better term might be that he stuck a needle in their balloon, that situation could be defined “as they made a series of short explosive spitting or choking sounds.” lol You were not there and Monk James was, so unless another witness comes forward, we will have to accept the term spluttered.

            Many people tend to splutter when they are faced with the truth and have no way to respond without appearing to be (using Spanish) estupida/o or tonta/o. Sounds like Monk James pushed the right button to me. The audience needed to hear the truth and some perhaps would have left the conference believing what these deceived people were trying to present as an ancient truth of the Church.

            verb – past tense: spluttered; past participle: spluttered
            1. to make a series of short explosive spitting or choking sounds.
            “she coughed and spluttered, tears coursing down her face”

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          A catholic priest had called KT’s attention to an ancient mosaic portraying a woman with the title episkopissa, observing that the word had been vandalized, probably by someone ignorantly assuming that the portrait was that of a bishopess. The female figure was not wearing any form of omophorion, which was conventional in the ikonography of the time when depicting a bishop, but this detail seems to have escaped the notice of everyone who bothered to comment.

          The inscription on that mosaic, in Church of St. Praxedes in Rome, actually reads: Theodora Episcopa.

          It is significant that the nimbus around the figure is rectangular, which means that it portrayed someone still alive at the time. We need not guess the lady’s identity, for it is well known.

          Since at least the time of Henri Leclercq, archaeologists and historians have identified this “Theodora Episcopa” as the mother of Pope Pascal I (817-824), a fierce opponent of iconoclasm. The title episcopa was apparently applied to Theodora as a term of popular endearment.

          For the rest, every single contemporary literary reference to a bishop, whether in sermon, treatise, or letter, including the works of Pope Pascal himself (Volume 129 of Migne’s Latin Patrology), is masculine. To seize on this inscription and to pretend that it documents the existence of a female bishop at Rome (of all places!) in the ninth century is an embarrassing exercise in ideological fantasy, first advanced, I believe, by Joan Morris in her 1972 hallucination, The Lady was a Bishop.

          If any of you are disposed to pursue this matter further, permit me to draw attention to my own study of it in Touchstone.

          • Many thanks to Fr Patrick Reardon for pointing out exactly the dots which Karen Jo Torjeson refused to connect in order to see the real picture, along with several other feminist theologians who wanted to demonstrate that we orthodox Christians had once ordained women as priests and bishops, and castigate us for not doing so now.

            The Touchstone articles are great!