Simmering Schism

On February 16, 2020, I posted the following comment:

Re: “He also stated that the newly ordained bishop would have to face a lot of difficulties and temptations coming from the “false brothers”. Obviously, Theodore had in mind the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church.

I’m not sure I agree that the Church of Alexandria was talking about the Russian Orthodox Church when it spoke of “false brothers.”  I think George’s reply to what I said was enlightening so I’d like to share it with you: 

Gail, my take is sympathetic to the martyr’s view that Theodore may be (should be) embracing. He may not see it yet but you’ve described its contours.

With the Church, we must be open to being counter-intuitive. Intuition tells me that the dots are lining up to draw a picture of schism in which Theodore and the Greek-speaking churches follow the Globalists (i.e. Bartholomew, Francis, the EU, State Dept, Soros, etc.)

That may be their intention but that may not be the eventuality.

For one thing, there is not going to be a clean schism between the Greek-speaking churches (i.e. Istanbul, Alexandria, Greece, Cyprus, Jerusalem[?]) and the rest of Orthodoxy (Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Albania[?], Antioch, etc.). Mainly because we are seeing a schism happening within the churches, especially the Greek churches.   As we have seen, bishops within the synods of Alexandria, Greece, and Cyprus, rebelled against their respective primates.

Remember, when it came time for these Greek churches to recognize Epiphony’s false sect, these synods played a very ugly game of hot-potato, tossing recognition back-and-forth between themselves and their respective primates. They weren’t able to kick the can down the road indefinitely and in the case of Alexandria, strong-arm tactics by the Greek Finance Minister were needed to make sure that Theodore II went along with the program.

And of course we saw the tender ministrations of Geoffrey Pyatt (Amb. Mordor) who tried to work his magic on the monks of Mt Athos.

Leaving aside these very obvious examples of coercion –and remember, anything done under duress is non-canonical–these synods have allowed themselves ways out.  Not only based on form (i.e. duress) but on procedure, in that the entire recognition process was done against their own protocols.  Think of it as plausible deniability.

Then there’s the fact that some of these bishops refused to go along and are in open  communion with Moscow.  Moscow of course is being very crafty and making it known that it is in communion with these bishops as well.

This last factor is a case of a “simmering schism,” one which would allow some of these bishops to join a Greek or Cypriot “exarchate,” which would be provisional until the formal schism is healed.  Something like this happened with ROCOR which was granted canonical safe-harbor by Serbia for several decades.  Once the primates of ROCOR and Moscow saw the light, they buried the hatchet (glory be to God).

Anyway, your all’s thoughts?

****

Yet another take on the situation:  https://orthochristian.com/144503.html

***

I’m going to repeat a statement I made:  I think it’s crazy that we don’t know what our patriarchs are thinking or doing.  We guess, but we don’t know because to varying degrees they have ALL deviated from the canons through their special brand of convoluted logic, imaginative interpretations, and just plain bad manners.  There are no predictable patterns anymore.  It’s a free-for-all.

At the root of ALL this insanity is Ukraine.  They MUST deal with Ukraine.  Not one of them (this includes the EP and the MP) has the right to cut one another out.  When you have a beef with your sister, can you cut her out of your family?  No, because there are other people in the family and it’s not just about you. 

You also cannot fail to act when your family pleads with you to take care of something.

You cannot hold “ancient patriarchate” meetings (that are intended to be councils),  issue Tomoi (unless supported by your brother bishops), cut off other patriarchates, put patriarchates in a position where they have to choose between you and another brother bishop, bring the heterodox into the “Church” (as you define it), keep us from going to Church because you’re scared, etc.   (I am not singling anyone out.)  

The Church does belong to you.    

There are worse things than a schism and this is it.

(I just ate a bag of Oreos and we can’t have this.)

Mrs. M

About GShep

Comments

  1. Sooner or later, we Orthodox in the U.S.A. and Canada (and our neighbors) will have to stop sticking our heads in the ground. We’re going to have to draw a line in the sand—and make some big decisions. Yes, sooner or later.

  2. We all need to face the writing on the wall that the Greek local churches, save Jerusalem, are moving towards Uniatism and Orthodoxy will continue without them led by either Antioch or Jerusalem with Russia being the real center of power. This is inevitable absent complete repentance on the part of the synod of Constantinople, which will not materialize. Blood ties between the Greek local churches will prevail over truth. There may be internal schism in some of these churches, but the lion’s share will apostatize.

    Just face it, accept it, take a deep breath and move on for your own peace of mind which should not be disturbed by the likes of wannabe heathen.

    • Blood ties between the Greek local churches will prevail over truth. There may be internal schism in some of these churches, but the lion’s share will apostatize.

      I agree with George that I think there will be a clear internal split in the Greek Churches.

      We tend to equate Greek laity with the Greek hierarchy which is not the case. In Greece the laity (and priests) tend to be more devout than the bishops, save a few (which is sad to say). Don’t discount the piety of Greek laity. Even after the “council” of Ferrera-Florence when the Greek-speaking bishops apostatized, the laity did not, that’s why actual Greek Uniatism is not really a thing. A recent example is the protests all across Greece last Summer/Fall against the mandates, many, many priests were included in that…there were also shouts of “anaxios” at Archbishop Ieronimos.

      (Watch minutes 38-40) The hymn they are singing is “To thee the Champion Leader”
      https://youtu.be/NMcEbwvn1RM?t=2349

      The way I see this happening is Russia will probably create an Exarchate within Turkey next since Bartholomew is the offending party and there is a large Russian population, this will render the EP useless on his own territory.
      If things do not clear up then perhaps the next thing will be a Cypriot Exarchate or a Greek Exarchate in Greece, but, I still am not sure that would happen short of an all-out apostasy to Uniatism. In Greece I think the more likely scenario is for the Church of Russia to normalize the Greek Old Calendarists. I can’t speak for their popularity in Greece but I would imagine they have probably grown over the past 2 years there.

      • The problem the old calendarists have in Greece is the successful propaganda of the secular media and the state church. For example the supposed old calendarist that recently joined Filaret-KP was actually a new calendarist (look it up). They have poisoned the mind of many Greeks to consider them a fanatical cult. For the media old calendarism is a favorite and familiar slander to throw around to silence opposition. Examples: when a theatrical Play came out in Greece called Corpus Cristi many Orthodox protested it due to blasphemous content. The secular media labeled all the protesters with one broad brush as fanatical old calendarists when they were not. This allowed the majority to dismiss the protest as fanatics against secular progress. In fact
        the secular media a century ago had a hand in eliminating head scarves in church as being a throw back Ottomons era relic that the old calendarists hold onto. Today some women are scared to attend a new calendar church wearing a headscarf as sometimes the men will rip it right off their heads.
        Also the state Church exaggerates about splinter groups in old calendarism and by this they claim is evidence the o.c. are on the wrong side (lack of love and zeal without understanding) This was a common new calendar motto in the late 70’s today it is new calendarism suffering the same fate. Phyletist hatred and schisms that pales in comparison to anything in old calendarism. The elders that wrote about the old calendar schisms would be in utter shock to see the state of mainline Orthodoxy today and would have taken back what they wrote now that the shoe is on the other foot..
        The reason why old calendarism is not big today in Greece simply put new calendar clergy are civil servants of the state and the state church is one of the biggest employers of Greeks and they have the power to push their view points and slander their opponents. The way the EP and Greeks are now doing against Moscow

  3. This could come to a head around Paskha when clergy who get chrism from the CP would normally concelebrate.

    • Agreed, especially since Bartholomew is holding the chrism hostage from at least 5 local Churches unless they concelebrate with the OCU schismatics.

      • Petros, those 5 local Churches that are having chrism withheld can just get it from Moscow. I’m sure that the MP has plenty to spare…should those wise hierarchs simply ask for it. That would be sticking it to that clueless Bartholomew.

        • Hopefully they do get it from the MP, or one of the Patriarchates that makes their own chrism.

          The pessimistic side of me thinks they will just get it from the EP because of “politics.”

          Maybe that’s one of the things that Met. Hilarion brought up during his recent meeting with Patriarch Theophilos.

          But, there’s no reason why the ancient Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Antioch can’t make their own chrism.

          • I think that the CP would have a hard time canceling the joint chrism consecration since he already announced it.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Petro, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. As for the Athonite monasteries, I think there will be a very rough ride indeed.

        • I actually had not even considered that GOARCH and the Ephraim monasteries get their chrism from the EP (not sure why I never thought of that). I was just thinking of how it would impact Antioch, etc., and didn’t think about how it would impact the EP Eparchies themselves.

          That’s a big problem. Since the Ephraim monasteries have said they will only leave the GOA when the EP concelebrate with Rome it seems like a double-standard that they would accept chrism consecrated with schismatics.

          • Petros,

            To be specific, as far as what I found, what happens is that the OCU and others present help stir the oil together, then over several days they read prayers or Bible verses, and finally the CP does the blessing/consecration while the OCU and others present kneel.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            I suspect the Ephraim monasteries make their own chrism. I don’t think they are dependent on the EP for anything except for their ecclesiastical ties.

            • Don’t think that monasteries can make their own chrism. As far as I know, chrism can only be made and distributed by autocephalous churches to all of their clergy, parishes, monasteries, etc. It’s a visible manifestation of the unity in love under the omophorion of the holy synod of the autocephalous church, from what I’ve been taught. Each autocephalous church’s chrism has elements that date back to the times of the Apostles. Individual parishes or monasteries cannot make their own chrism “from scratch.”

              • Gail Sheppard says

                I didn’t know that. I guess that makes sense.

                Interestingly, I found this on the GOA website:

                During the early centuries of Christianity, a firm tradition existed in the Church in which the Holy Chrism was sanctified only by the bishops of the Church and not by the presbyters (priests). At that time, there were no distinctions among bishops, that is among bishops of dioceses and metropolitanate bishops of greater church districts. As the years passed, however, the common right of all bishops was eventually transferred to the bishops of churches with greater status, that is, to the Patriarchs, and finally to the Ecumenical Patriarch, who today is able to transmit this right to the heads of local Orthodox churches. In other words, even though each bishop has the right to sanctify the Holy Chrism by his status as bishop, he is not permitted by canon law to do so. It appears that there are three reasons that restrict the right of sanctifying the Holy Chrism to the Ecumenical Patriarch. These reasons include: a) the scarcity of the materials and the difficulty for each bishop to prepare the Holy Chrism, b) the constant increase of dependence of the diocese on the head of the greater church and district, and c) the special position that the Ecumenical Patriarchate received through the centuries in relation to the other patriarchates of the East and that expresses the spiritual bond between the Church of Constantinople and the local churches of the people who received the Christian faith from its missionaries.

                In reality, this exclusive right to sanctify the Holy Chrism of the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not mean that local churches are dependent and subordinate to Constantinople. This act of receiving the Holy Chrism from the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a tangible and visible sign of the amity and bond of local churches, patriarchates, and autocephalous churches with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.† It is a necessary sign, not a sign of superiority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church, but an existing visible sign of unity among the cluster of local Orthodox churches. Nevertheless, in the Orthodox Church, the Holy Chrism, in addition to being sanctified in the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is sanctified in the contemporary patriarchates of Moscow, Belgrade, and Bucharest. https://www.goarch.org/-/the-sanctification-of-the-holy-chrism

                • This was written on the GOARCH site in 2000:
                  “this exclusive right to sanctify the Holy Chrism of the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not mean that local churches are dependent and subordinate to Constantinople. …It is a necessary sign, not a sign of superiority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”.

                  Are we going to see future CP and GOARCH articles claiming that the CP has superiority?

                  • Hal- Probably. One thing about bishops and church politics is they can do an about face on almost everything very quickly. This is why I do not handle bishops with kid gloves nor do I trust their words but watch their actions instead. I can give you examples that can fill a book. But in 2022 we don’t have to just look at Theophilus of Alexandria

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Hal, it’s things like this that give sophistry a bad name.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    It is apparently not about superiority. It’s about unity.

            • Solidarity Priest says

              Priests cannot make their own chrism. It is the prerogative of the hierarchy, specifically the Primate of a local church. The OCA Metropolitans have done it. Before the union with the MP, ROCOR did it once. I believe that was during the primacy of Metropolitan Anastassy. That latter event was not without controversy, since ROCOR never claimed to be autocephalous.

            • Only heads of local churches make chrism. The Ephraim monasteries definitely <get their chrism from the EP.

            • Chrism making in Orthodoxy is so centralized. For instance, I believe that the OCA makes its own chrism in a single special ceremony only once per year or once every several years. Antioch and Jerusalem both get their chrism from the CP. I’ve only ever heard of bishops making their own chrism. The only case when the bishops were not heads of churches that I specifically know of was in a Serbian diocese centuries ago.

              “Holy oil” is apparently a different matter. and is used for holy unction. Chrism is a separate substance and used for certain purposes like Chrismating converts.

              • To give you an idea of how centralized chrism making is:

                I’ve just read an article about Metropolitan Anastassy of ROCOR which stated that he performed the first and only consecration of chrism in ROCOR’s history in 1950. – AsianPilgrim

                …the Holy Chrism consecrated by Metropolitan Anastassy in 1950 had not quite been exhausted before our reconciliation with the Moscow Patriarchate in 2007. From this point on, we will receive Holy Chrism consecrated by our Patriarch. -Fr. David

                SOURCE: https://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/291229/ancient-chrism

    • Sad but I believe so. Ever since European first, Greek second, and Orthodox third fervor hit, it became inevitable that most of these churches would align with the liberal structures and institutions of the continent(s) they feel an affinity towards most. Even on the Church of Greece online library website they had an article posted for the past 30 years, how the empire was united under Chalcedonian Orthodoxy and since the advent of the EU this new European unity requires a new pan-european Christian religion taking into account the “shared values” of the continent. We need to get used to that much of European Orthodoxy nor the laity ascribe to an Orthodox ethos or phronema

  4. Perhaps what is really happening is that God is shaking things up and we are in the middle of the shakeup and must muddle through. He really can’t be too pleased with the present status. Pray to the founder for discernment and guidance. Be still and know that I am God.

  5. Aside from finally forcing those jurisdictions on the fence to take a side, Greek Unia would be the best gift Patr. Bartholemew could ever give to the GOC. It would vindicate them completely, proving everything they’ve been saying since 1923. Pious Greeks who want nothing to do with popery and Francis’ New World Order will run to their parishes in droves if that happens, and we should be ready to discuss full recognition and communion.

    Greek Orthodoxy isn’t going anywhere, no matter what the EP and GOARCH do.

    • Peter,

      That is actually the potential silver lining I see in all of this. The Patriarch of Antioch is a traditionalist at heart and there is a cross section of the OCA which is also thus inclined, some parishes having jumped ship over the years into the ROCOR. If indeed the CP leads the main body of the Greek local churches of Constantinople, Greece and Alexandria into the loving arms of Rome, it may give rise to a movement to renormalize the Julian Calendar in the remaining local churches and reconcile the Greek Old Calendarists and other Old Calendarist movements.

      In Russian, we have a word, “yedinovertsy” to describe such believers and many of us do not consider them outside the Church but simply, sadly, in a state of severed communion with the “canonical” Old Calendar churches due to our intercommunion with New Calendarists. ROCOR has never been schismatic or outside the Church and we were once in communion with some of these Greek Old Calendarist groups.

      • Misha, Edinovertsy are the Old Rite churches that are in communion with Orthodoxy, as opposed to those which are in schism.

        • Basil,

          Yes, the word is applied to Old Believers, as is starovery; however, during the period when the Greek Old Calendarists and the ROCOR were in communion, we considered them “yedinovertsy” and the term was used on both sides. I’ve even seen it in writing. Literally it means “people of the same faith”. Somewhere, if I can find it, I have a work on Orthodox etiquette written by a Greek Old Calendarist in which he refers to us (ROCOR) affectionately as “edinovertsy”. I thought it was a Russian Orthodox work until I read him refer to zapifka as something that wasn’t done “in our Greek churches” but was a custom among the Russians. That’s when I realized he was a Greek Old Calendarist.

          • Fair enough, that sounds like some really esoteric ROCOR stuff. Despite my love for ROCOR and its ethos, I’m from another jurisdiction, so I miss out on all the more obscure aspects.

            • Basil,

              Easiest way to understand it is knowing that yedinovertsy just means “co-believer” or “co-religionist”. It has the same emotional connotation as “koumbari” or “sons of the same father/mother”, etc. That is why it is applied to the Old Believers, affectionately, and sometimes back and forth between the ROCOR and the Greek Old Calendarists.

      • The MP-ROCOR should acknowledge the largest old calendarists of Greece. No need to enter communion with them as the old calendarists don’t do ecumenism and won’t allow it anyhow.
        The old calendarists have right believing bishops with apostolic succession. There seperation is allowed by the canons.
        Here is evidence that old calendarists are not schismatics:
        Many saints and soon to be saints have recognized them or were members of them this includes:
        1. St. Nicholas Planas who in defiance of his bishop never served on the new calendar.
        2. St John Maximovitch who was in communion with the oc Greek bishop of Astoria with many photo ops ( never met with new calendar Greek bishops)
        3. Brother Jose Munoz who only communed with SiR in Greece
        4. Photios Kontoglu iconographer whose incorrupt relics lie in Athens monastery and writings show he viewed the oc as two opposing camps of the same church and viewed nc as uncanonical.

        5. Elder Philotheos Zervakos – never canonized because he had old calendar spiritual children and also viewed OC as two camps of the same church
        6. Fr. Seraphim Rose- In his writings on the Royal path and supper correctness viewed the oc of St Markella Astoria as the Royal path. The GOARCH AND Brookline monastery as the two extremes
        7. Constantine Cavarnos: Died as a monk of St. Anthony in Arizona. One the more remarkable Greek Orthodox scholars. Was a member of the SiR but entered St. Anthony’s to raise awareness amongst new calendarists. This is the same approach the webmaster of Orthodox info has taken. Switched to Serbian to reach more people.
        7 They have incorrupt saints and miracles. In fact St Irene Chrysovalandou monastery is the most famous Greek convent in Greece . The miraculous apples grown there are brought to new calendar monasteries.

        • “The MP-ROCOR should acknowledge the largest old calendarists of Greece”

          Since the Synod in Resistance (who were in communion with ROCOR for awhile) folded into a more hardline group, I don’t know of any Old Calendarists that don’t view all of “World Orthodoxy” as graceless, whether those “World Orthodox” are on the Old Calendar or New. Why would MP-ROCOR acknowledge any of the current Old Calendarists given that?

          • The moderate SiR did not fold into the more hardcore. They merged with the largest group whose apostolic succession comes from ROCOR. And were themselves in communion with ROCOR for numerous years from about 1969- to late 70s. The hardcore group are the Matthewites not the Florinites.
            Acknowledge them means to tell their laity to go to them when in Greece as they are of the same calendar. The Florinites DO have new calendarists as spiritual children whom they confess. It’s not as black and white as portrayed for example I had a relative new calendarist who died about a year ago funeral was held at the old calendar florinite church here on Long Island, no problem. The old calendar florinites should NOT nor will enter communion with MP unless they completely disavow ecumenism and embrace the 1983 anathema. By Moscow acknowledging them (privately) they can avoid most of the new calendar bishops who are now in schism and openly hostile to Slavs to a group less hostile and atleast follow the same liturgical calendar and external customs.

            • But would the Greek Old Caldarists even accept communion with the MP? I thought they were extremely hard-liners?

              I do tend to feel the same way about the Greek Old Calendarists as Fr. Peter Heers does. He says that they have made themselves irrelevant because they are no longer in the folds of the canonical Church where they could be fighting against these things. In essence they have done Bartholomew and Co., a favor by not being an obstacle.

          • Probably the idea of having relations with Old Calendar split off churches has a certain appeal toward the MP, as well as for canonical EOs in general. Probably the MP has at least considered whether it’s an option. But there are certainly at least a list of practical hurdles like Myst mentioned.

            It’s one thing for African priests to leave Alexandria for a canonical EO Church (MP Exarchate) and something different for the MP to take a new step of recognizing a church community that it has not in the past. If the GOC goes into schism from the MP, this does not automatically make Old Calendar Greek schismatics “Orthodox.” The MP suspended communion with the GOC, but didn’t anathematize it.

            • Just to be clear the MP has never been in communion with old calendarists. It’s the ROCOR that was. The SiR severed relations when the ROCOR officially joined with the MP. But the MP will have to deal with it as canonizations of ROCOR saints will be happening. Brother Jose Munoz brought his icon throughout Greece but only communed with SiR. Metropolitan Philaret and Archbishop Averky, plenty of letters all in communion with the Florinites. The writings of Fr. Seraphim Rose- endorsing the Florinites as the moderate path between two extremes, etc

              • “Just to be clear the MP has never been in communion with old calendarists. It’s the ROCOR that was. ”

                ROCOR was always in communion with at least the Serbs, the Serbs were always in communion with MP, thus the MP was in communion with SiR and then Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Romania from 1994 to 2007, even if only indirectly.

                “Brother Jose Munoz brought his icon throughout Greece but only communed with SiR. Metropolitan Philaret and Archbishop Averky, plenty of letters all in communion with the Florinites. The writings of Fr. Seraphim Rose- endorsing the Florinites as the moderate path between two extremes, etc”

                All obsolete info now.

      • Misha, I agree that it would be the big positive that could come out of the whole situation. It’s a chance to weed out those who want to treat the Church as a cultural club and would happily follow the EP into Unia because they share his secular, globalist agenda (and/or just don’t care enough to leave their parishes over it). Pious Greek Orthodox believers, of whom there are still many, would not be lost to us, and it’d be a double win if we could reestablish relations with the GOC and renormalize the calendar.

        It’d be a loss in numbers, sure, but I’d gladly have fewer numbers on paper if the members we have are actually right-believing Orthodox Christians who follow the patristic faith and aren’t trying to undermine the Church by conforming it to modern society.

        As you pointed out, many Old Calendarists of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece still recognize the ROCOR informally and vice-versa, myself included. Now that the vast majority of them have united under the GOC and only don’t recognize us because we recognize the New Calendarists, chief champion of which being the EP, the likely departure of whom from Orthodoxy is the whole reason for this line of thought, I don’t see such a scenario as all that far-fetched. The MP would have to be convinced to pull out of the WCC, and maybe I’m being too optimistic here, but if that were the only/final obstacle to full communion I can’t see him insisting on remaining a member.

    • Greek Orthodoxy isn’t going anywhere, no matter what the EP and GOARCH do

      In regards to the EP Metropoli in North America, in the Metropolis of Mexico there are a massive amount of Orthodox under them (Mayan Orthodox). This phenomenon occurred because they left Roman Catholicism en masse for Orthodoxy and they will do so again should the EP move that way. The Metropolis of Mexico has already lost individual parishes to ROCOR because of Ukraine.

  6. Misha, I agree that it would be the big positive that could come out of the whole situation. It’s a chance to weed out those who want to treat the Church as a cultural club and would happily follow the EP into Unia because they share his secular, globalist agenda (and/or just don’t care enough to leave their parishes over it). Pious Greek Orthodox believers, of whom there are still many, would not be lost to us, and it’d be a double win if we could reestablish relations with the GOC and renormalize the calendar.

    It’d be a loss in numbers, sure, but I’d gladly have fewer numbers on paper if the members we have are actually right-believing Orthodox Christians who follow the patristic faith and aren’t trying to undermine the Church by conforming it to modern society.

    As you pointed out, many Old Calendarists of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece still recognize the ROCOR informally and vice-versa, myself included. Now that the vast majority of them have united under the GOC and only don’t recognize us because we recognize the New Calendarists, chief champion of which being the EP, the likely departure of whom from Orthodoxy is the whole reason for this line of thought, I don’t see such a scenario as all that far-fetched. The MP would have to be convinced to pull out of the WCC, and maybe I’m being too optimistic here, but if that were the only/final obstacle to full communion I can’t see him insisting on remaining a member.