What’s Mine is Mine and What’s Yours is Mine

Well, Patriarch Bartholomew and his minions just can’t help themselves, can they? If anybody had any doubts about whether the EP could put away his supremacism, this should put it to rest.

The other day, Archbishop Elpidophoros announced the creation of a new “Slavic Vicariate” for the GOA.  Archimandrite Alexander (Belya), who had been suspended of his priestly duties and laicized, led the Cathedral of Blessed Matrona of Moscow in Dania Beach, FL, and St. Nicholas Monastery in North Fort Myers, FL, out of the structure of the canonical authority of the Russian Orthodox Church.  All were received into the GOA without a canonical release from ROCOR.  You can read about the details here:   http://byztex.blogspot.com/2019/10/another-chapter-in-archimandrite.html  

Now, some might say that turnabout is fair play. After all, Moscow (through ROCOR) decided that it would receive priests, churches and even dioceses (e.g. the Western European Vicariate) without a release from Istanbul. So why can’t Istanbul do the same thing?

Well, there are several reasons.  Because of the unfortunate schism instigated by Istanbul’s actions in Ukraine, Moscow doesn’t recognize Istanbul (for the time being). As a result, Patriarch Kirill has a free hand to receive clergy from Istanbul and can set up dioceses within the political boundaries of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The Phanar on the other hand, does not recognize the schism; indeed, Patriarch Bartholomew continues to mention Kirill’s name in the diptychs. This means that as far as he is concerned, there is no schism. Therefore, all protocols have to be observed, specifically in this case, with regard to the reception of clergy from one local Church to the other.

The creation of this new “vicariate” flies in the face of this logic. One can’t have it both ways: if there is a schism then Bartholomew can receive whichever clergymen he wants from the local Church which is in schism with him. If there is no schism, then he can’t. In other words, we have yet another example of the Phanar and its partisans making things up as they go along.

I’m sure that there are more qualified canonists out there who could explain in better detail what exactly is going on. At this point, we here at Monomakhos would like to simply point out that this appears to be yet another example of the neo-papalism that has been on frequent display during the archpastorate of Patriarch Bartholomew.  Bartholomew thinks he can do whatever he wants now that he has tacked “The Mother Church of Orthodoxy” onto his title. As we have pointed out time and time again (and will continue to do so), Constantinople is not now, nor ever was the “Mother Church of Orthodoxy;” only of those Churches which were eparchies of it, e.g. Russia, Greece, Serbia, etc, in the same fashion that Antioch was the Mother Church of Cyprus and Georgia.

We need to consider what this means for American unity, as well. To his credit, Archbishop Elpidophoros has made several overtures to the OCA. To my mind, his visit to Syosset where he venerated the relics of the American saints was most gracious. Speaking for myself, it temporarily put to rest my own fears about the OCA giving up its autocephaly (or worse, having it “recognized” by the Phanar). Why so? Because those saints were canonized by an autocephalous Church, which is one of the prerogatives of an authentic local Church. On a purely ecclesial level, when one hierarch recognizes another Church’s saints as canonical, then it stands to reason that he also recognizes the validity of that Church’s ability to canonize saints in the first place. (Realizing, of course, that saying, “it stands to reason,” coupled with anything to do with the Phanar, is an oxymoron these days.)

In the ordinary run of things, none of this would be controversial. Unfortunately, we are dealing with the Phanar here. Let us be blunt: this is a local Church in which words and actions don’t necessarily correspond; where theoria can be retconned* to justify praxis for any reason whatsoever. We saw this in stunning display in Ukraine, where Patriarch Bartholomew, in violation of history, protocol and just plain common sense, decided to cleave the Ukrainian Orthodox Church off from Moscow with nary a care in the world. Worse, by stroke of the pen, he made schismatic laymen into bishops, again, without any repentance on their part or the performance of the necessary rituals. The canons are very clear on this point.

This is chaos pure and simple.

Nor has Bartholomew stopped there. He’s made similar “ukrocephalic” noises in Serbia and in the Czech and Slovak lands. He has also threatened the Church of Greece with schism, as well. And for good measure, he has championed a new doctrine regarding all autocephalies, specifically that all autocephalies that were granted after the period of the seven Ecumenical Councils are “provisional” –in other words, they can be rescinded. As if this were not bad enough, he has indicated that the boundaries of those ancient Churches which are autocephalous, both by historical accident (e.g. Antioch, Alexandria), and by recognition of an Ecumenical Council (e.g. Cyprus), can be redrawn should the “need” arise. And by “need” we mean a troublesome prelate/agent provacateur “petitioning” the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the lifting of his suspension or any other disciplinary action taken against him.

The reason of course, is because according to Bartholomew, only the Patriarchate of Constantinople is the “Mother Church” of Orthodoxy. She alone, has certain prerogatives that mandate such unilateral hyper-power.

All of this is nonsense. Worse, it’s fantasy. The canons which allow Constantinople the authority to hear appeals from aggrieved bishops are limited in scope and more to the point, based on another accident of history: specifically that Constantinople was once the seat of an empire –an empire which no longer exists. Moreover, it received this authority only because the Church of Rome went into schism and thereby lost its canonical privileges. That should, of course, be a warning to the Phanar: that what one has presently, can be lost in the future. We could even go further and boldly state that one cannot give what one does not have.  

In any event, the creation of this new “vicariate” does not bode well for the future of a united, American Orthodoxy. If nothing else, it must surely cause the other non-GOA bishops some pause. Why? Because if the new GOA archbishop can create a new “Slavic Vicariate” out of thin air, then what would stop him from doing so with another such institution based on a few disgruntled priests? We have seen that all words with respect to “established” borders are meaningless when uttered by Patriarch Bartholomew. We have also seen that he will interfere in local Churches with whom he is not in conflict (e.g. Serbia, Czech and Slovak lands), as well as Churches with whom he is not in schism (or so he says, e.g. ROCOR).   He’s like a kindergartener who has to be taken aside and told, “Now, Bart, we do not take toys from other children.  This is not how we do things.”

These actions raise severe ecclesiological questions (not the least of which is an increasingly evident papalism). There are several mundane issues which cannot be overlooked. As to the new “vicariate”, the validity of the orders of its “vicar-general” are nothing short of scandalous. Moreover, there are credible allegations of criminality against another clergyman associated with him. Already, Archbishop Michael of New York/New Jersey of the OCA has mandated that none of his clergy can concelebrate with Mr Belya. Indeed, it will raise even more questions when it is pointed out that Archbishop Elpidophoros used the nefarious offices of Mr Michael Dumenko (the false Metropolitan of Kiev) to ordain a deacon in the GOA not that long ago. None of this makes any theological sense and the time is rapidly approaching when it cannot be swept under the rug any longer.  This may put Metropolitan Tikhon’s purported hope of concelebrating with the Greeks on an indefinite hold.  

There are other, more prosaic concerns, as well, given the history of the Phanar and its incessant hamfistedness. This is not the first time that Istanbul created a vicariate for an ethnic group in the United States. Several years ago, the GOA created a “Palestinian/Jordanian Vicariate” of about twenty parishes here in the United States. This angered Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian archdiocese and led to bitter feelings on his part. Ironically, this very same vicariate petitioned to leave the GOA and be received into other jurisdictions for reasons which are beyond the scope of this essay. Regardless, they were all led by validly ordained priests, none of whom were under disciplinary action or even worse, defrocked. The same cannot be said for Mr Belya, the so-called vicar-general of this new body.

These are just details. The broader question is the one that all American Orthodox bishops must ask of themselves: is the new GOA archbishop a conciliar-minded primate, one who fervently believes in American autocephaly (real autocephaly)?  Does he really understand America and its ideals or is he a minion of a foreign patriarch, one who is not only political dependent upon non-Orthodox powers (e.g. NATO, Turkey) but also exhibits grandiose ideas about his office? Ideas which are not only ahistorical, but lacking in Christian humility, as well?

These are the questions. What we have seen in Ukraine and elsewhere and the lack of subsequent introspection by the Phanar and its partisans, leads to very regrettable answers.

*Retcon: a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events; typically used to facilitate a dramatic plot shift or account for an inconsistency.”

About GShep


  1. Let’s put all the cards on the table here. AB Elpi speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He is Bart’s puppet. Just the other day, while mandating that all priests in the GOAA must gather around the EP when he visit’s America, he referred to Bart as “the leader of the Orthodox world”. This man is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. When Bart comes to America, he is going to demote all the Metropolitans to auxiliary Bishops and give total control to Elpi. If a lowly and ignorant layman like myself can see the writing on the wall, why is it so difficult for the Bishops of other jurisdictions to read his moves? Why does Metropolitan Tikhon keep appearing with Elpi for photo ops? The total apathy in this country (with the exception of ROCOR) is beginning to turn my stomach.

  2. Michael Bauman says

    We are acting like Protestants. All of us

    • Nicholas Chancy says

      No Michael, the hierarchy here is. One city, one bishop. That the hierarchy has failed to solve the canonical issue in the West is a major scandal. That the EP is busy tearing about the East is unconscionable. It is a blasphemy. Serious Orthodox Christians in America are not trying to take over or change the church. We want an Orthodox Priest who answers to an Orthodox Bishop who belongs to an Orthodox Synod. The mess that the bishops have created for us, while still better than our Roman Catholic brethren are suffering through, must be sorted out. 

      • George Michalopulos says

        Mr Chancy, now that you put it that way, it brings a lot of clarity to the subject.

      • Nicholas, you are absolutely right!You put it in a practical and useful way.

        It is a scandal and a blasphemy because it drives the people away from the Church, and it appals the outsiders.

        If I may add some thoughts:

        The unforgettable Saint John Chrysostom has explained the root of the problem.
        It has to do with the greatest above all temptations:
        The Glory of the Bishop.
        This is the Virus and the rest are just the symptoms.
        So, fight the Virus, not so much the symptoms.

        Chrysostom knew that danger and refused to become a bishop.(He was literally kidnapped and made Bishop by force).

        Nowadays, many unmarried priests hope to become Bishops, and prepare their PR profile in various ways (University degrees, publications, connections, TV programs, publicity, etc.)

        Chrysostom said that “he who does everything to become a Bishop, will later do everything to remain a bishop!

        We,the laity are also spiritually guilty if we try to promote unworthy bishops.

        Orthodox Churches are one Church.
        Not only in the U.S. but everywhere.
        Then, just as we read in the first Church:Each city in the world has obviously one Bishop speaking certain language(s).
        Similarly each parish has priest(s) speaking certain language(s).
        The rite may be Byzantine or Western depending on the people of the parish.

        The Bishop in the Capital of the country is additionally a sort of coordinator for contacting the Government of the country.

        All Bishops are equal brethren.”First without equals” belongs to the “infallible” Pope.

        The laity play a certain role in the decisions of the Church, as per the ancient Church.

        The laity should respect and love the clergy.
        The clergy should respect and love the laity.

        There is no point for the laity or the clergy to hide information from each ther, because information now travels with the speed of light. Everybody has immediate access to the Bible, the Canons, Chrysostom and all the Fathers of the Church, etc, and can get all right answers.

        It seems that the above problems will be minimized if we find really humble monks (without a PR preparation) and make them Bishops and Patriarchs. We need holy bishops (holy, not in title but in reality), not necessarily speaking 5 languages (Chrysostom did not speak Hebrew or Latin!).

        Last but not least, we need Bishops (and all clergy) who love Christ above their own ethnicity/country and themselves.

  3. What a joke. A very sad, joke. Lord have mercy!

  4. Might this new “Vicariate” have something to do with OCA selling Syosset? Sale is urgent according to the article. https://orthochristian.com/129208.html

    • Monk James Silver says

      As I recall, the Griswold estate stipulated that its gift of the Syosset property to the OCA would be rescinded if the OCA ever attempted to alienate said property from its use and ownership  by the OCA.  An original letter to this effect —  not to mention copies of it —   is still in existence and probably still has legal force.   This restriction seems not to be widely known, but it must be acknowledged and legally satisfied before any plans are made for the OCA’s disposal of the property.

      • Gail Sheppard says


        • George Michalopulos says

          Yes, wow, is all I can say.

          Fr James, do you have a copy of that letter?

          • Monk James Silver says

            George, I don’t have a copy of this letter, but I know where two official copies should be and where the original one was said to be,
            Since the number I have for you is out of service, please phone me again and I’ll give you the details.

          • lol. Russian psefto church propaganda at its finest. Shove your racism and perveived superiority.

  5. Joseph Lipper says

    Did Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral actually contact Archbishop Elpidophorus and complain about this situation? Or is he just not on speaking terms with the GOA? The two bishops should really meet with each other. I’m sure they would have a lot to discuss, and I’m sure Archbishop Elpidophorus would welcome the conversation. However, if they haven’t contacted or met with each other, and if one of them refuses to do so, then how can this matter be resolved? ROCOR passive-aggressiveness won’t solve the problem.

    If we are committed to building up Orthodoxy in America, then the lines of communication need to be open. The excuse that my Patriarch in Russia isn’t talking to your Patriarch in Turkey, and therefore I’m not talking to you in America, it just doesn’t work.

    • Gail Sheppard says
      • Joseph Lipper says

        That’s Metropolitan Hilarion Alfayev.  Different person.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Sorry, Joseph.  You’re right.

        • Monk James Silver says

          True, but Met. Hilarion Alfeev is Moscow’s Director of External Ecclesial Relations, and since the ROCOR is within the Patriarchate of Moscow, Met. Hilarion Kapral’s relations with Abp Elpidophoros Lambrianides falls within his (Alfeev’s) responsibilities.
          It is unreasonable to think that the ROCOR’s interaction with the GOA is not closely monitored by Moscow.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            ROCOR is supposed to be autonomous regarding church matters within North America.  While it’s good that this meeting in Englewood happened, and I hope more are to follow, yet I still believe it should be Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral attending, and  not Metropolitan Hilarion Alfayev.  I don’t think Metropolitan Hilarion Alfayev really gives a rat’s ass about Orthodox unity in America.

    • Joseph,___Did Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral actually contact Archbishop Elpidophorus and complain about this situation?”

      So, Elpidophoros is right and innocent, if he does  ANYTHING he likes to you, and you do not complain about it.
      The criterion about a deed is whether one complains about it or not!!!!!!

      • Joseph Lipper says

        There were also clergy who left the Greek Archdiocese without any canonical release and joined ROCOR.  Did Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral first make contact with the Greek Archdiocese about this matter?  I doubt it.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          As George said: “if there is a schism then Bartholomew can receive whichever clergymen he wants from the local Church which is in schism with him. If there is no schism, then he can’t.”

          Bartholomew continues to mention Kirill’s name in the diptychs. They need releases.

          ROCOR doesn’t recognize Bartholomew. They don’t need releases.

          I’m sure they’re talking about this now! These are not reputable men jumping ship. These are very questionable people who have a problem with authority. Why would the GOA want them? That’s the bigger question.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Well said, Gail.

            One point I failed to mention was that the quality of the men who have bailed on Bartholomew for ROCOR is in sharp contrast to the ones who are part of this new “vicariate”.

            I realize of course that we should never “praise a monk” (in this case priests) as this is a type of judgment and no man has completed his race but our discernment leads us to see that there is a stark difference.

          • Joseph Lipper says

            My point is there seems to be a lack of direct communication between ROCOR and the GOA, and apparently this is now “justifiable” because of the schism between Moscow and Constantinople.  So how is Archbishop Elpidophorus supposed to receive canonical approval or disapproval for the release of ROCOR clergy if ROCOR won’t communicate with him?  It’s probably like talking to a wall.
            It may very well be that Archbishop Elpidophorus made a mistake, but then again, perhaps he’s mainly trying to get a direct response from ROCOR.  He did make a point about venerating the relics of St. John Maximovitch. I really hope that somehow the lines of communication open up.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Bartholomew literally said, “They’ll get over Ukraine and it will be business as usual.” But there is no “business as usual.” The new norm includes taking in questionable priests who don’t accept discipline, without asking for permission. Don’t blame this on ROCOR. What they do or don’t do has nothing to do with this situation.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Gail, Joseph, et al, if I may add:  thanks to the new “first-without-equals/papalism” propounded by Bartholomew, the new normal in Orthodoxy unfortunately is chaos.

            • It may very well be that Archbishop Elpidophorus made a mistake…”
              I think not.  The “Mother Church” doesn’t make ‘mistakes’ these days.  It makes what it considers strategic moves.
              “…following approval of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

        • Joseph,
          please see Gail’s reply.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Joseph, “If are committed to building up Orthodoxy in America…” the Greeks have to stop being GREEK, rulers/savior’s of the universe or any other ethnic badge of superiority or separateness.   
      At this point I wish all the ethnic “jurisdictions” would just go home.  Let us sink or swim.   It would be much more kind.

      • Greatly Saddened says

        Well said, Michael!

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Go home, close the churches?  I hope not.  Whether parishes are “ethnic” or not, they are still an important Orthodox presence in America.  Sometimes it’s good and humbling to attend an Orthodox church and realize that Americans are not the rulers and saviours of the universe either.

        • Joseph,___I see your point, and it is a delicate one.
          You are certainly right about the universe. 
          Also, the real, real Americans are the Red Indians, not Anglos, Germans,Greeks etc.
          Many, and especially more recent immigrants to the US, still remember their mother country they left behind and became American citizens. They might at times feel “home sick”.
          I think the “Golden section” is for Originally-Greek Orthodox (as well as Russians and others) to be Orthodox first, and then suddenly “Bingo!” there is no ethnicity problem.(*)
          Having said that, Michaels point is also valid: Why should Greek Orthodox be superior? Mind you, if you are really really a superior Orthodox Christian, the last thing you will say is THAT.
          (And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment)

        • George Michalopulos says

          Joseph, I agree with you here on this last point. We Americans are too willing to see ourselves as the be-all and end-all of modern civilization. We did good things: defeat the Axis, disassemble the Evil Empire, etc. But since then we have allowed our hubris to cause much mischief in the world.

          Humility is called for. A lot of humility. This does not excuse Cpole however. They regularly exhibit a type of arrogance that to me –as an Hellene–I find most disquieting.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            I’m the son and the grandson of immigrants. My great-great grandfather came from Kendal in Westmorland to Canada. My grandad was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, and was a pilot officer in the RFC/RAF in the First World War. My dad was born on the Fraser River Delta of British Columbia.
            It was tough for them here. When they said ‘aboot’ or ‘shedule’, they were mocked. People can be so cruel! Oh, how they longed for the roast beef and potatoes of their homeland! Sing us one of the songs of British Columbia!

            • George Michalopulos says

              “Aboot” and “hoose”! I love it! Eh?

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                On the shores of Puget Sound, we hung up our lyres.
                [Apologies to immigrants everywhere, from the son and grandson of immigrants. I feel your pain. My Croatian-descended wife keeps saying BC doesn’t count….]

                • If a Scot (or a Geordie) was to say to a Dane: “Gie’s a haun wi the hoose” he would very likely reply: “Ja” or “Nej”.
                  If he was to say the same to a Southern Englishman, the response would probably be along the lines of: “Yoo wot mate?”
                  It’s the Sooth-Moothers that can’t speak (or understand) good English.  😉

          • Dear Mr Michalopolous.    Having been reading the opinions stated on your site for several years now, I ask for leave to make an observation – the arrogance of the west is simply amazing.  Cpole expects the faithful to accept the ministrations of those who acknowledge unordained and defrocked clerics.   In Australia, where I live, we do not have the option of driving across town to a canonical  parish outside of the metropolitan centres.  Some super orthodox of Mt Athos apparently have no problem being in communion with schismatics, because of loyalty to a Man who thinks he is Divine.  Where do we go.
            You mention the need for humility on behalf of the American state and their hirelings.   Who pays the piper calls the tune.   The delusion of Cpole and his puppets in foisting their designs on the faithful is beyond understanding.  Humility may be necessary –  I would think  common sense is  also  required.     The intervention in Korea has resulted in a stalemate of 60 years, Vietnam was a disaster, Cambodia was  deforested – followed by a genocide, Iraq has been destroyed along with  Libya.  Afghanistan has never been conquered. The Russians  denied further action by the west in Syria.  Further more Harry Truman dropped atomic bombs on Japan – but of course they are Asian.
            It should be remembered the Red Army destroyed the Germans at Stalingrad and at Kursk.   The glorifaction of the New Martyrs including the Holy Emperor and Imperial Family by The Church Abroad preceded the fall of the Soviet. Their sacrifice and prayers before CHRIST GOD I am sure contributed to the fall of the Soviet. 
            Vladimir Putin is accused of many things by westerners.  He is an Orthodox believer.  It cannot be that the American Secretary of  State or his minions, whom I believe are mostly evangelicals, have any place interfering in the affairs of the Orthodox Church. 
            American exceptionalism is also a delusion.
            May Christ our True God remember us in His Kingdom.
            Andrea Nixon

            • Ms. Nixon,
              Wonderful post – thank you. Recall that America and much of the modern Western philosophical foundations – i.e., the cultural assumptions that we in the West often take for granted – come directly out of Calvinist and TULIP lines of thought.  These are often diametrically opposed to Orthodox Christian thought and belief.  
              You’re absolutely correct, there’s an undercurrent of Calvinist  Protestantism – now more of a “Calvinist Americanism” – that guides many American leaders — that God appointed them to create and lead America, that God wants their version of “Calvinist Americanism” to spread throughout the world.  (Hence, all of our missionary wars to spread Americanism to the rest of the world.)  America is the “country as Church, the country with a soul” to many — sort of what we get when we conflate state and church into one. Our national symbol is only a one headed eagle, not two.

              Recall also that many of our founding fathers, though they did some great things, refashioned God to their own liking.  Thomas Jefferson totally rewrote the Holy Scriptures to fit how he thought they should read.
              This philosophy is highly delusional, but it’s what we have, and this sort of philosophy will be eternally at odds with Orthodox Christianity. Thus, the West, in its current form, will never be comfortable with large countries that hold steadfastly to their Orthodox Christian Faith.

              (Recall that it was the London and New York bankers who financed the Bolsheviks to topple the Tsar….  The Bolsheviks were most certainly not a “popular rebellion of the majority of the Russian people,” as I was erroneously taught in my American public school.)

              Highly recommend listening to Fr Thomas Hopko’s (of blessed memory!) Ancient Faith radio talk on this subject – his “President’s Day reflection” on his “Speaking the truth in love” podcast, from Feb. 18, 2009.  For those of us who are Orthodox but live in the West, I found this talk invaluable in understanding how American history has played out and in grasping the frame of reference of most of our American leaders.  

              The Church of C’ple is willing to let “Calvinist Americanism” run the show, as long as Constantinopole gets funding and praise/honor/glory in return. The more steadfast and honorable Orthodox churches (like Russia and Antioch) are not afraid to call the West out on its errors. That’s a major difference that we’re actively watching play out today.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Miss/Mrs* Nixon, wonderful analysis.  


                *I never used the title “Ms”.  Please forgive me for sticking to “Miss” or “Mrs”   

  6. Sage-girl says

    I bet Patriarch Bartholomew will Cancel his
    planned trip to Southampton May 10th due to pandemic.

    Everything’s getting cancelled…
    Lord Have Mercy?!

    • The Roman Catholic Archdiocese here in Seattle just suspended ALL masses through Lent. Meanwhile, the same is happening in Kentucky, and elsewhere. 

    • What?  No patriarchal visit??  I weep.  

  7. The normal thing for the EP to do, if he was going to admit the priest suspended by ROCOR, would be to put him in ACROD. ACROD is not Muscovite Russian, but it uses Church Slavonic, so he would function fine there. The Slavic Vicariate thing is weird.
    I can understand that the new priest might prefer a Muscovite or general slavic cultural jurisdiction like his new vicariate, since he is not Carpathian, but plenty of priests in America make that kind of cultural compromise. Most WASP converts don’t join the Western Rite, for instance.

    • One possible explanation of why the priests didnt go to ACROD is because the leadership of ACROD wouldn’t have been happy dealing with them. But that is my speculation.

  8. TheFutureOfTheChurch says

    “Several years ago, the GOA created a “Palestinian/Jordanian Vicariate” of about twenty parishes here in the United States. This angered Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian archdiocese and led to bitter feelings on his part. Ironically, this very same vicariate petitioned to leave the GOA and be received into other jurisdictions for reasons which are beyond the scope of this essay. Regardless, they were all led by validly ordained priests, none of whom were under disciplinary action or even worse, defrocked.”
    That’s not correct. Some of the clergy in the Palestinian/Jordanian Vicariate had been previously defrocked by the Antiochians.
    This sentence is from Metropolitan Philip’s response to that event.
    “These former Jerusalem Patriarchate communities separated themselves from the Antiochian Archdiocese without canonical releases, and in some cases are served by priests who are under canonical suspension.”

    • George Michalopulos says

      I stand corrected.

      For what it’s worth, the P/J vicariate transfer was normalized by Antioch. I somehow don’t see the same thing happening here, especially given the credible actions of criminality against one of the priests.

    • What?  No patriarchal visit??  I weep.  

    • The “vicariot” of the fleeing former Antiochians were and are almost as “Palestinian & Jordanian” as they ever were “Antiochian”.  Of course an Antiochian is only a Damascus inhabiting Syrian, another issue…The silly name was invented to cover the even sillier name of “Jerusalem Orthodox” when the refugee Yankees resorted to yet another bankrupt patriarchate after the tragedy of Ben Lomond.  It impresses the heck out of overseas clerics when Americans forget to shave for a few weeks, this is taken to indicate robust piety.  Add a suitcase or two of cash and all things are possible.

    “WHEREAS the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of this God-protected Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America have met as the General Assembly at the 54th Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocesan Convention here in Grand Rapids, Michigan;
    “AND WHEREAS, in the recent past, we have all witnessed the sorrowful and tragic situation in Ukraine concerning the unilateral actions of the Ecumenical Patriarch, which have and continue to promote permanent division among all members of the Orthodox Church; (these actions represent a failure to constitute a single Orthodox Church in accordance with Her ecclesiological and canonical principles, and brings harm to Her apostolic witness);
    “AND WHEREAS, as a result of these actions, the Orthodox Church of Russia broke off communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and we now experience the negative effects here in the United States and Canada as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Patriarchate in North America no longer share communion with Churches under the Ecumenical Patriarchate; (examples of the unity which have been disrupted include pan-Orthodox services and participation in local Orthodox Clergy brotherhoods, and so forth; these hinder our common witness to the faithful and to the local communities in which we exist);
    “AND WHEREAS, as a further result of this division and disharmony, schismatic clergymen from uncanonical bodies in Ukraine could begin to serve in canonical jurisdictions, thereby creating further disharmony and chaos here and in other parts of the world, where we would otherwise have fraternal participation in unity;
    “AND WHEREAS the appearance of disunity also occurs when the Orthodox Church is reduced to one dimension of a “nationalistic distinction” (such as ethnic background, language, or affiliation), which in turn becomes the basis for the “ecclesiastical” organization, thus resulting in a number of bishops claiming pastoral responsibility for the same geographic region, as if they represented separate Churches rather than the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church;
    “AND WHEREAS, on the basis of its historic primacy, the long-standing role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as a center in service of Orthodox unity, is to lead and coordinate by bringing together, not to act in a unilateral manner; (this primacy of honor is exercised within the context of collegiality, conciliarity and non-interference in the internal affairs of the Local Churches);
    “AND WHEREAS any approach for granting autocephaly must be in accordance with Orthodox ecclesiology, and consequently must respect the necessity of obtaining the prior agreement of all Orthodox Autocephalous Churches;
    “AND WHEREAS there is a necessity to resort to the principle of unanimity and conciliation, concerning both our common Orthodox work and our unified positions on controversial issues; (this unanimity and conciliation are true safeguards of Orthodox unity); AND WHEREAS there is a necessity for spiritual vigilance regarding the stumbling block and snare of political entanglement, which history has shown only serves to weaken the Orthodox Church and Her united witness;
    “NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the General Assembly of this 54th Archdiocesan Convention, duly assembled at Grand Rapids, Michigan, from July 21–28, 2019, calls upon His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, to convoke a Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches in order to discuss the current situation in Ukraine, to settle the issue of granting autocephaly to new Churches, to resolve wider ecclesiological issues regarding primacy, and in general to address our common problems through fraternal support, unity and participation.”
    Notably, the resolution proceeding the one above reads (in part):
    “BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this 54th Archdiocese Convention, duly assembled at Grand Rapids, Michigan, from July 21–28, 2019, in unanimity and by acclamation, offers its love and prayers for the success of His Eminence Archbishop ELPIDOPHOROS as he begins his diakonia for us to advance together as the Body of Christ and body of believers, as a united Church.”
    Personally, I find these to be good examples of speaking the truth in love.

    • Um, but hasn’t the Patr of C’ple repeatedly stated that he has no interest in calling a council of all Orthodox churches and bishops to discuss this issue?  This is a cute resolution, but it’s like a bunch of pro-life Democrats putting a resolution together to have their party revisit the vehemently pro-abortion platform. It’s cute but totally a non-starter.  

      Patr Bartholomew doesn’t even believe in the Orthodox concept of one bishop, one vote, which the conciliar nature of the Church operates on.

      Emotionally, he can’t deal with the reality that Greeks don’t comprise the majority of Orthodox bishops worldwide. Thus, instead of dealing with reality, he’s become a Roman Catholic disguised in Orthodox clothing. Real courageous. 

      • No argument.  But it does express the central issue very well and speaks the truth, as do you.

    • The only ones who have done anything but paid lip service are the Russians.  But that is because it is our local church territory that has been invaded. 
      What is truly disheartening and leads one to marginalize ones faith in the Church Militant as opposed to the Church of the Ages, is the fact that the bishops have been woefully cowardly and derelict in their duty regarding the ideological drift of Constantinople.  The ROC is no real exception in this regard, acting only when its particular ox was gored.
      The Orthodox Episcopate is too tolerant and patient by far.  They are enablers of heresy and thus bear some guilt in the matter.  I am less concerned with Constantinople than I am with the spiritual status of the Episcopate at large.  The Church has survived many heresies including papism.  What sickens and weakens it to the core, however, is a refusal of the doctors to administer medicine.  That is potentially fatal (though some remnant will surely remain as per the Lord’s guarantee re: the gates of hell not prevailing).
      Excommunication and anathema of Bartholomew and Co. should not be enacted out of hostility but out of love.  Unless an errant child is punished, faced with consequences, he cannot appreciate the fact or degree of his wrongdoing.  In this case, the souls of Bartholomew and Co. are in jeopardy of eternal hellfire as the initiators of schism and heresy:
      The Episcopate in being neglectful and cowardly regarding its duty is failing to warn its brethren of the severe consequences of their actions and thereby sinning against these same errant brethren. In this regard, we are our brothers’ keepers.

  10. It’s important to be aware of who the intended audience is for this comical “vicariate.”  It’s certainly not for Orthodox Slavs, and definitely not for Orthodox Americans or for those seeking Christ.

    It’s well-documented that the ill-fated and sinking-quickly “OCU” has no parishioners and exists solely as a “Ukrainian”/anti-Russian nationalist accoutrement, certainly not as a church.  I put “Ukrainian” in quotes because real Ukrainians have nothing to do with it and follow the true Ukrainian Orthodox shepherd, Met. Onuphry. 
    Authentic Orthodox Christians will go nowhere near this laughable “vicariate.”
    No, the real intended audience for this “vicariate” are Americans and Westerners who know nothing about the faith (including, sadly, some of the GOA faithful) but who’d be impressed by this EP/GOA Potemkin-like display of “universality.”  The intended audience are those who view the EP as nothing more than the “Orthodox Pope” and who’d be so impressed by him taking non-Greeks under his umbrella. What a swell guy, huh. 

    Given the farcical nature of those who are “priests” in this “vicariate,” the intended audience are those who don’t even believe in Christ’s Church. 

    Sigh. But as Christ says, let’s wipe our feet of them and move on with the business of following Christ and of observing Great Lent.

    • I live near St Matrona . It is in Davie Florida and it is a huge beautiful Church which basically ministers to the Russian diaspora in South Florida and is packed every Sunday and Feast Day. It is a bit creepy with armed guards and most Orthodox clergy in the area want nothing to do with the place or the clergy there including the Greeks. The services are completely in Slavonic. The building is beautiful though and it is the largest Orthodox Church in Florida. I cannot understand why the Archbishop would receive them and a Slavic Vicariate sounds like something out of the Three Stooges. 

      • That sounds terrible.  The “vicariate” is totally ridiculous.  This will probably do more harm than good to the Greek Archdiocese.

  11. The OCA diocese of the South has essentially shut down from what I can gather, this is unbelievable.
    They did what I expected GOARCH to do. Lord Have Mercy

    • Archbishop Alexander issued a statement that the faithful should remain home. He issued pretty strict guidelines too. He basically went further than the official statement of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the OCA.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Even so, he did not cancel Divine Liturgy. (May he be blessed!)

        He gave very specific guidelines on its celebration while at the same time giving the elderly and the sick a blessing to not attend. At our parish, a photograph was sent to me showing at least 20 people in the Communion line. (As a health professional, I have been exposed to the flu and about a month ago I was coughing and Gail mentioned that I was pail in appearance. It’s possible that I was exposed to corona so in the interests of not infecting others, we stayed home yesterday.)

  12. The Greek Archdiocese of Chicago and Boston have canceled all services including Liturgies. O ye of little faith! Lord have mercy!

  13. Papouli A says

    That’s ridiculous, I’m a Proistamenos of a parish in the Holy Metropolis of Boston, and we’ve only cancelled coffee hour and a Palm Sunday fish lunch. Unless you have some sort [Editor Note: deleted], quit spreading lies.

  14. Papouli A says

    Please refer to what Mikhail said. There has been no cancellation of Divine Services, including the Liturgy, in the Metropolis of Boston. We Greek Orthodox are accused of many things on here, the fallout of which has a dire impact on my parish’s missionary efforts. However, outright elimination of Orthodox worship is not one of them. 

  15. Saint George Greek Orthodox Church in Dartmouth, MA is closed for at least the next two weeks and St. Nicholas in Lexington is closed until further notice.

    • All services in all OCA Churches are cancelled for two weeks.
      It’s official: Archbishop Irénée has directed that the Orthodox churches of the Archdiocese of Canada (OCA) are to be closed for all services as of today, for at least two weeks. The full text reads:
      To all the Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of our Archdiocese of Canada:My beloved Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters in Christ,
      For days we have been monitoring this crisis. Last night the Holy Synod assembled in teleconference to hear the advice of medical and legal counsels.
      This is by far the most difficult decision I will probably have to make in my life. Considering that this COVID19 virus has now begun to transmit within the Community, it is essential that we abide strictly with the guidelines of our Civil and Medical authorities.
      I realize that the Holy Eucharist will not harm anyone of us, but congregating in closed quarters could, therefore, I ask all our clergy to close the churches of the Archdiocese of Canada for the next two weeks, until April 1st, 2020. The situation will be reviewed then.
      I ask you all to be safe and remain at home as much as possible. Clergy of the Archdiocese will do their best to accompany the Faithful and keep them safe. Prayer is essential to our life. Remember to pray to the Holy Unmercenaries and Wonderworkers of Christ for help and strength in these difficult times.
      Asking your prayers,In Christ our Saviour,
      +AB IRÉNÉEArchevêque d’Ottawa et du Canada (ÉOA)Archbishop of Ottawa and Canada (OCA)and the Archdiocese of Canada

      • Sorry StephenD, but not true. They all haven’t been cancelled…in the Diocese of the Midwest (OCA), our bishop (Paul) is leaving it up to each individual parish to decide that. Clergy and parish council members will be there of course, but people are being encouraged to stay home if they feel that their health and safety might be at risk. But services will go on.

      • Dear StephenD:
        In practical terms what do you understand the following sentence to mean please:   “Clergy of the Archdiocese will do their best to accompany the Faithful and keep them safe”?  
        And have you heard any policy regarding the distribution of healing Holy Communion to the ill or infirm (spiritually or physically) so vital to us all?   
        Thus far the OCA is leaning more toward the Roman Catholic and the GOA response to COVID-19 and prioritization of the Sacraments and less toward the ROCOR.   If people have to stand outside 6 feet apart and receive that way, I’m game.   I pray that physician agape will not surpass priestly agape.   

  16. George Michalopulos says

    The end-game of the schismatics in Ukraine, or the EP’s? I imagine it’s going to be easier for many of the people in the false church set up in Ukraine to go ahead and jump ship. We’ll probably see more and more of this as time goes on.


    • I don’t think the EP wants them all to go under Rome. If they did, Constantinople would be the big loser and Met. Onufry would be unchallengable as the Orthodox Primate in Ukraine.

      • George Michalopulos says

        You’re missing the point, Brendan, he want’s all of us to go under/”with” Rome. The Ukrainian gambit was an experiment.

        When all is said and done, the Unia was an insidious experiment from the outset to confuse ordinary Orthodox believers. We should never forget that. I know from personal experience because here in America, their liturgical rubrics are more often than not far more aesthetically pleasing that what you find in many jurisdictions.

        Mind you, I don’t hate them, as they are neither fish nor fowl. I pity them because here in America especially, they have a great respect/envy for authentic Orthodoxy but they can’t let go of their papal theology.

        • I don’t think so, George. The smaller the EP’s flock, the less leverage he has to treat with Rome on anything like equal terms. He wants to keep what he can – and expand it where possible. Anyway, the dissolving diocese was never in the OCU.

        • You’re right, George! The Unia has always been a big lie and smokescreen to lure the unsuspecting, weak-willed and Ukrainian (and other) nationalists into their dubious fold. My question is, how will world Orthodoxy respond to the whole thing when Constantinople/Istanbul enters into the promised quasi-type hybrid communion with these groups and Rome? Its a scary thought for me.

          • Alex,
            what if we beg God to send us another St.Mark of Ephesus?

            • Ioanni, that is precisely what we need; someone in one of the Greek Churches to ‘Bell the Cat”

            • Estonian Slovak says

              Whatever do you mean? We had Metropolitan Filaret and Archbishop Averky of Blessed Memory, who were contemporaries of St. John of San Francisco. The rest of the Orthodox world did not listen to them.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Lord only knows. I’d like to think that as far as the Greek world is concerned, that the Athonites will go ballistic but I’m afraid they’ve been too compromised already.

            I’m somewhat hopeful that the entire Vlad-is-evil/Russophobia narrative is on the verge of collapse. Perhaps it will be easier for the other non-Bart-aligned Orthodox Churches to hold fast. Some may think that I’m a giddy optimist but I’m much more a realist and I can say that as a student of history, the bloom is definitely off the American/EU rose. I mean, culturally speaking, what do we have to offer the world?

            Gail and I recently attended a conference which was Orthodox-sponsored but very interfaith and one of the main speakers there (an Orthodox priest), when asked about the modern Evangelical/American response to something-or-other immediately and vigorously answered: “Protestant Christianity is insipid”. (The man in question was himself a convert from Protestantism.) This was completely politically incorrect. It actually took my breath away. I wouldn’t have said it but that doesn’t mean that he was wrong. Far from it. And you know what? Nobody disagreed. The wreckage of modern, mainstream Protestantism is plain for all to see. The most prominent and successful Protestant preacher alive today is Joel Osteen. ‘Nuff said.

  17. George et Brendan,
    What if both Francis and B. have the same boss?
    (No idea who that might be.)

    • I know who that might be…but I’ll hold my tongue.

    • Francis thinks it’s himself (Keys to the Kingdom etc)
      on account of a vote of the Cardinals.
      Bart thinks it is, or should be, himself (First without Equals etc)
      on account of his Greekness; as opposed to his Christianity…