The “Archdiocese of America” and America

Biden Comes Calling

V.P Biden and Abp. Demetrios

Recently, Vice-President Joe Biden paid a visit to the Archbishop +Demetrios at the headquarters of something called “Archdiocese of America.” Most probably it was a meet-and-greet intended to shore up the votes of Greek-Americans for the upcoming election. Nothing wrong with that for the most part; just another photo-op and innocuous in its own way.

So what did the Vice-President and this “American” archbishop talk about? Homeless veterans? Rising unemployment? The Occupy movement and how it may be getting out of hand? No. Instead only issues of pressing importance to the Greek government were discussed — FYROM, the Greek bailout, the reopening of Halki, among others.

We shouldn’t be surprised. In the past Monomakhos wrote that the Metropolitans of the GOA function as de-facto lobbying agents of the Greek government. It’s been whispered for years that the Greek government keeps dossiers on many of the priests in the GOA. That seems like a stretch but given the focus of the discussions between Biden and +Demetrios, it’s certainly plausible. We know for a fact the Greek government keeps close eyes on GOA leaders.

Divided Loyalties

With that in mind, consider the fact that sixteen Metropolitans in the US, Britain, and Australia have taken Turkish citizenship, all at the behest of the Constantinople Patriarchate. This raises the ugly specter of divided loyalties and has shaken the confidence of many people of Greek heritage. To see our bishops — free men living in a free Republic — trading away their hard-won American patrimony for the pottage of a renewed Turkish subjugation is beyond the pale, especially when so many Greeks came to America to escape it. Further, given the extent of anti-American feeling in Turkey, do we really believe they won’t be pressured to by Turkish authorities to conform to Turkish national interests? After all, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is a perpetual hostage and the Turkish government toys with his office and Greek Orthodox worldwide by handing out goodies in little dollops, pretending that they can’t do much more than that because the Kemalist constitution prevents them from favoring one religion over the other.

The problem of divided loyalties is not new to the GOA. Remember the sordid affair of the Evangelical Orthodox and how they were unceremoniously shown the door when several of their leaders traveled all the way to Istanbul to meet with the late Patriarch +Demetrios? The GOA Bishop of Chicago along with some functionaries in the Greek government leaned on underlings at the Phanar to turn away these Amerikani. To put it simply, the Greek government did not want to see a massive influx of non-Greek-Americans into the GOA.

It doesn’t stop there. Recently the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarch had a meeting and photo-op with Turkish Minister for E.U. Affairs Egemen Bağış. That’s all well and good but by what right do we Orthodox condemn the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for carrying water for Israel? As we all know, the Israeli government is largely indifferent to the plight of its indigenous Christians, but how can this excuse the fact that our Archons grovel before the Islamist prime minister of an increasingly belligerant Turkish government? Whatever else can be said about Israel, at least it’s an American ally.

Closer to Home

Even the best efforts to solidify the narrative of Byzantine nostalgia in the GOA may ultimately fail. Some two thousand miles away from the ethnic ghetto that is East 79th Street, a real battle for the soul of the Church is taking place. In one corner is a hierarch who takes seriously the command of our Lord and Saviour to go “to the ends of the earth”, and in the other a flock which is still wedded to the eparchial method of stasis and inertia. The place is Salt Lake City, the bishop is Metropolitan +Isaiah of Denver (see: The Dangers of Multiple Orthodox Jurisdictions in the United States), and his antagonists are powerful leaders who are resisting his efforts to create independent parishes (read news report).

Met. Isaiah of Denver (GOA)

The particulars involve two communities in Salt Lake which have up until now operated as one large community with one parish council. His Eminence has asked for some time that Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and St Elijah Greek Orthodox Church to adhere to the Uniform Parish Regulations of the GOA that mandates that these two mature parishes function as two different communities.

The newer church (St Elijah) is by no stretch of the imagination dependent upon its older, mother church (Holy Trinity). Basically, all +Isaiah is saying is that there is a time for new churches to be formed but never a time for churches to be bound together in a state of mutual dependency. +Isaiah is doing what any bishop should do in this situation: uphold the canonical order of the Church. (The Uniform Parish Regulations are not controversial at all.)

The conflict has taken a disastrous turn, however. Some leaders in both parishes resisted +Isaiah’s request and went to court to seek an injunction against him. According to some reports they are suing for legal autonomy from the GOA. +Isaiah fired back and excommunicated those who filed this suit, some of whom are Archons and members of Leadership 100.

Both actions are distressing. There are of course good people on both sides of this divide and as anybody with an ounce of wisdom will tell you, the issues underneath are more complicated than how they first appear (they always are). Nevertheless, despite the deep feelings of people in both parishes, His Eminence was correct to ask these two communities to abide by the Uniform Parish Regulations. Unfortunately (putting it in indelicate terms), the question will be decided not by who is right but by who will win.

A Little History

Some background is in order. Before 1996, the GOA functioned under a Charter which could only be amended by Clergy-Laity Congresses. After the forced resignation of +Iakovos by Pat. +Bartholomew for his participation in the Ligonier Metting (see video), Pat. Bartholomew installed Abp. +Spyridon who presumably would be loyal to Constantinople. +Spyridon however was a traditionalist and for some, too controversial a figure, making several missteps along the way. In less than three years, he was removed by Istanbul once prominent laymen and the bishops coalesced against him.

+Bartholomew quickly learned his lesson. In order to prevent power from amassing around both a solitary figure like +Iakovos and a collective of Bishops, he elevated the Bishops to Metropolitans with himself as their Chief Hierarch (this would avoid future Ligoniers as well as the undermining of his handpicked legates). Today all the Metropolitans function as Archbishops with major instructions coming directly from Constantinople and bypassing New York. Despite appearances, the marginal leader of the GOA is Archbishop Demetrios; it is the Phanar which calls the final shots.

Constantinople and the Decline of the GOA

The Constantinopolitans are adept short-term politicians but poor strategic thinkers. This is one reason why Muscovite influence in Turkey is increasing. (Indeed, a Russian on the Throne of Constantinople is becoming an increasing possibility, which is why +Bartholomew begged Greek-American bishops to take Turkish citizenship in the first place.) Nonetheless, the indictment of desultory leadership still stands as can be seen by the lack of vision emanating from 79th Street. One only need look at the census of believers and new missions to see that after 15 years of direct Constantinopolitan domination the GOA is in decline. The Phanar also sees the GOA decline but do not understand that they in large part caused and are contributing to it. (The speech by the Secretary of the Holy Synod given at Holy Cross in March of 2009 is proof that they know things are not all right in the “Diaspora.”)

When +Bartholomew elevated the Bishops to Metropolitans, the only purpose was to centralize power. No notion of of bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to non-Greek-Americans entered Constantinople’s thinking. Their mission is not evangelical, but political. The new Metropolises (Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, San Francisco, New York, New Jersey, Pittsburgh) are merely push-pins on a world map in the Phanar showing the “growth” of the Patriarchate of Constantinople under the incumbent patriarch. Nothing must deviate from the Diaspora narrative that serves the Phanariote political program (see: Ecumenical Patriarchate: American ‘Diaspora’ must submit to Mother Church).

This is where the Archons come in. Their entire raison d’etre is to serve as the shock troops of this new and improved Constantinopolitan myth, a type of My Big Fat Greek Knights of Columbus so to speak. They contribute much money, offer political and business connections, and form a political bloc that helps control independent minded Metropolitans should that problem ever arise (not likely given the current crop).

The dispute in Salt Lake City reveals the fault lines in the new order. +Isaiah, in taking such drastic action against the Salt Lake City Archons, risks either: 1) alienating other Archons and thus the Ecumenical Patriarch, or 2) being sand-bagged by his brother Metropolitans or the Epiarchial Synod in the Phanar (Constantinople). It it were anything else, +Isaiah’s directives would carry the day without question.

The Archons on the other other hand, reveal what they are: 1) benefactors of the Constantinopolitan nostalgia, and 2) an independent bloc that, because of their financial largesse, has an inordinate influence in Church affairs that now threatens the balance of competing blocs that Constantinople has created. Their allegience is to the Archbishop of Constantinople, not the Metropolitan of Denver, and their legacy (such as it is) is wrapped up in a defunct Byzantium that perished over half a millenium ago and not in the America in which they live.

Meanwhile, the commission to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations is left unattended.

What Can we Expect?

So what can we expect? That’s hard to know. If documents such as Uniform Parish Regulations are to have any meaning at all, then they must be upheld. Otherwise they’re nothing more than legal fictions and the office of Metropolitan in the GOA is nothing more than a glorified auxilary bishop. No one really knows at this point whether the concept of territorial dioceses (metropolises) is more powerful than the myth of Byzantine glory. In time we will discover whether the Archons are loyal to their Church or to the myth.

If +Isaiah loses this battle, here is what we can expect: more of the same. Mediocre politicians paying court to “American” archbishops who are in fact ornately vested ethnic ward-heelers. Longer term we will see a church afflicted inertia and led by Greek-American businessmen who, because of their misplaced devotion to a defunct empire, submit to their neo-Ottoman overlords. This will continue until the children and grand-children of the Archons and other leaders have left and there is no one left to lead.

Under these circumstances, can there ever be a truly autocephalous American Orthodox Church? Or is our future the overlapping ethnic ghettos that we have now where some more committed to evangelism, others less so, and some not at all? Only God knows but if the recent experience of the OCA is any indication, perhaps movement can happen in the GOA as it has in the OCA. One thing we can say with certainty: if brave men and women are willing to act and pay a price for fidelity to the Gospel and our Orthodox tradition, change can happen.

We are seeing it happen in the OCA. Is the GOA not far behind?

About GShep


  1. George, I recently saw this article about Biden’s visit to the GOAA headquarters. I also just viewed the film: Apostle of Love, Hope, and Reconciliation. This is a tribute film produced by the GOAA celebrating twenty years of the reign of His All Holiness, Bartholomew, 270th successor to the throne of St. Andrew. The film technically was of excellent quality. Though it did highlight the achievements of +Bartholomew, much of the film showcased the Greek Archbishop and the leader of the Archons in America doing most of the talking — both of these indicated that Patriarch Bartholomew was the recognized leader of 300 million Christians World Wide. This Patriarch was the sole fighter for Orthodox Unity, without him we would not have unity. That the Patriarch will continue to protect and support those in need around the World.

    Can you explain what all of this is suppose to mean?

    • Not really, it’s just posturing. The real legacy of the Phanar in the post-+Iakovos period is the decline of the GOA. I realize that in comparison to the OCA (which is doing a fantastic job of shooting itself in the foot), the narrative of the decline has been derailed, but only temporarily so. Even the Episcopal Assembly, which is presided over by the GOA is sinking into inertia. Look at last year’s anniversery of Roe vs Wade. Thanks to the GOA, it was watered down to a mere perfunctory statement of fact: “Since 1973, when the Supreme Court legalized abortion, 45 million abortions have been performed.” (Or something this blah.) That’s like saying, “since the world was created, the sun has risen in the East and set in the West.” So?

      I thnk that’s what keeps coming back to me vis-a-vis the last 15 years: inertia.

    • Athens Archbishop Christodoulos said we deserved 9/11 (ISBN 960-252-007-8). On the Thursday before Easter Greeks chant pogrom inciting Beatitudes against “godslaying lawless Jews”in Greek, but change it to “Assemby of Jews” in English. They removed American Archbishop Iakovos because he was too American and Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos because he was too friendly with Israelis. Old witches who used to work at diners until they dropped now slip “Elder Protocols” and other terror claptrap in the pews. When I was growing up priests, would bathe, shave, wear pants – Robed, bearded, stovetopped priest is terror sympathist by definition. Greece was only euronation not to vote for 1947 Israel creation. In such time of war, we should insist that any public assembly of more than ten mandatorily be only in English! These heathen necromantic iconolaters have the nerve to ban Psalm 150 organs? If the Greek government did an Enron with its own books, and Greeks Trojan Horse their Greek taxes, what makes you think they pay the IRS? They go to Greece annually to tend their undisclosed accounts on soviet Cyprus. Notice the soviet spy money laundered Metsos disappeared with Cyprus complicity? Did Illinois Giannoulias, Florida’s Crist, California’s Angelides and New York’s Gianaris apply Greek budgeting techniques like Sarbanes Oxen? Greek Ponzi fourfold Eurodefecit boasts Trojan Horse Perfidy, Klephth Brigandage. Upset that industrious Albanians invaded their lazy, gungrabbing, babykilling homeland, the soviet-churched Greeks vindictively hire, house and promote illegals. As quakes render their homes disposable, Greeks are oblivious to the very concept of maintenance. Instead of blaming environmetalists for fires and socialists for deficits, jealousy driven soviet faith seeks scapegoats. Olympia Snowjob supports Obamacare and abortion because of her gangreen patriarch (Is Orthodox Christianity progressive? Michelle Boorstein Washington Post 11-4-09 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke about the spiritual imperative for nonviolence, universal health care and reducing consumption to help the environment.) Ancient Greeks reduced consumption to help the environment through infanticide and sodomy. Palamite Zealotes massacred Thessalonian aristocracy in preparation for Cantacuzene usurpation via hesychast hyperventilatory hallucination. This soviet socialism motivated Anatolian farmers to embrace Turks in the 1400s to avoid redistributative taxation and then for liberated mainlanders to migrate to Smyrna in the 1800s.

  2. George, you missed a bigger point. You see it as black or white, who is right? Instead, what I’m hearing among some of the Archons is why is Isaiah even bringing this up now? They are saying he is upsetting the applecart and he should have just left this entire thing alone.

  3. Excellent Article George. I was just thinking about this the other day.

    You know there was a time when Greek Orthodoxy spread the Gospel with vigor and changed the world for the better. Today, however the opposite is true, the GOA is resistant to any type of evangelism that threatens the purity of the omogenia. The end result is a Church that is increasing secularized and a culture that is in steep decline with no moral compass. I simply cannot see how the upcoming generation of adults in the GOA will be able to support and fund the Church in the manner their predescessors did. You are right George its about inertia and the wizards of smart at 79th Street have decided its best to lay back and enjoy the ride rather than correct course and avoid the iceberg that is dead ahead.

    In the meantime, I wonder how the collapse of the Greek Economy will ultimately impact the financial workings of 79th Street and the Phanar.

    • Dean Calvert says


      There was a time when the best and the brightest sat on the throne of St. Andrew too…but unfortunately that was 11 centuries ago (St Photios).

      And there was also a time when the Fathers of the Eastern Church called Hellenism “a pit of vipers” (Palamas, on the Triads) but that seems to have been forgotten.

      Of course, even a broken watch is correct twice a day.

      Best Regards,

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        That was Pagan Hellenism NOT Christian Hellenism of the Romiosini (i.e. Christian Greeks). Big Difference. Also, I and others may disagree with the current Ecumenical Patriarch on several issues, but let’s not degrade him or the very excellent Ecumenical Patriarchs that did sit on the throne throughout the centuries. I believe a balanced approarch is needed Dean.


        • I wonder how different the world-wide Orthodox Church would be today if Archbishop Anastasios (of Albania) had been elected EP in stead of +Bartholomew?

          • He would have been an awesome EP. I have so much admiration for him and the job he has done in Albania.

            • PtDnJ, initially I wanted to answer your question with a sigh. Yeah, +Anastasios would have been a fantastic patriarch. But then the more I thought about it, the less convinced I was. Even if we believe the best about +Anastasios and his commitment to the Gospel (and count me as a fervent supporter of +Anastasios), the fact remains that the Turkish gov’t would never countenance a dynamic, evangelistic mission coming out of the Phanar. It’s not only not in the nature of the Phanariotes, but it’s not in the interests of the Turks. If any true Evangelist sat on the patriarchal throne, he’d be thrown out in no time (if not killed). In fact, I’m not so sure that it wouldn’t be the Phanariotes who would stab such an Evangelist in the back. Let’s be honest, dynamism has been bred out of the Phanariotes and like the Stokovites here in the US, they don’t know what to do with a real reformer.

              Basically as far as C’pole is concerned, what we’ve got is the best we’re gonna get. *sigh*. Maybe, just maybe things would be different with a Russian sitting on the throne but even then I wouldn’t be so sure.

        • Dean Calvert says

          Dear Peter,

          Since Palamas lived in the 14th century, he was talking about the same Hellenism that New York talks about – ancient Greek learning and philosophy. And he said very correctly that whenever anything but Christ is placed at the center of the church, a heresy has been committed. It was true then, and it’s true now.

          As far as demeaning the current or past patriarchs – that was not my intention. I simply believe it is important for people to understand that today’s atrophied state of affairs in Istanbul is just that.. Imagine St. Photios discussing the Slavic mission with St Cyril (Constantine) and Leo the Mathemetician at the patriarchate. It may have been a discussion among the three brightest people on the planet at the time. At the time, people in the West were barking at the Moon.

          That’s our tradition, and we should settle for no less, in bishops OR in patriarchs.

          Best Regards,

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            I disagree. Ancient Greek learning was never denegraded but preserved in the Eastern Roman Empire. Otherwise, all ancient learning of the Greeks and Romans would have been destroyed. Further, Greek became the language of the Empire and the Church, and Roman meant a Christian Greek, Not a pagan Greek. this is Byzantine history 101. The culture of the Greeks was transformed and renewed by the Gospel, bur never thrown away.

            As for the EP and his disrespect of his person I guess you believe in one form of respect and I believe in another. I wonder did the Holy Spirit make a mistake? I’ll side with the Holy Spirit and count the man’s shortcomings to human nature.

            Best regards


            • Dean Calvert says


              As far as Byzantine history 101…

              “Roman” meant Roman…not a Christian Greek. They just happened to speak Greek. They no more considered themselves Greeks than the Brazilians consider themselves Portuguese, or the Filipinos consider themselves Spaniards.

              And there was always a fairly healthy tension between Christianity and the ancient, pagan learning. It’s not quite the way the modern Hellenists would have us believe.

              best regards

              • As I understand it, to the Church Fathers, “Hellene” was synomous with Pagan. So if you said something to them like “Hellenic Christianity” you would be saying something like “Pagan Christianity” which to them, of course, would be a total contradiction.

                • However, I think they did place high value in classical education of their time in mathematics, medicine, history, etc., but none at all in pagan religions and religious philosophy.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Dean, please read and learn, and stop with the nonsense.
                Hellenism and Romiosini. The unbroken continuity of the classical tradition in the Byzantium and later to the new Hellenism”

                N.G.O. “Romiosini”
                1st International Congress on “Romiosini through the centuries”.
                Amphitheatre of the War Museum of Athens
                Saturday 30th & Sunday 31st of May 2009

                Introducer: Mr. Constantinos G. – A. Niarchos
                Professor in Ancient Hellenic Philosophy of the University of Athens

                Subject: “Hellenism and Romiosini. The unbroken continuity of the classical tradition in the Byzantium and later to the New Hellenism”

                The scientific problem, on the continuity or non-continuity of the spiritual creativity of the ancient Greeks in the Byzantium, and later on to the continuation towards the newer Hellenism, is really existing among the researches. Lately, some years ago, the famous French Byzantinologist Paul Lemerle, in his work “Le premier Humanisme Byzantin”, the first byzantinian civilization, Paris 1971, he put directly the question: who were the citizens of the Byzantine Empire? Were the real descendants of the ancient Greeks or it was about of a summing of people, who in some way were connected with the Greeks, or they were thieves and takers of the ancient Hellenic classical philosophical and cultural creation?

                It is really obvious the fact that, being placed the above question, it was presented a huge interest on the part of researches and university professors internationally. The already expressed and continually telling views are contradictory. On this problem intervened the well-known professor of the Universities of Athens and Berkeley, in California of the United States of America, Mr. Spyros Bryonis, who under his well known scientific knowledge looked out the scientific truth on this matter. One of those denying the continuity of the classical antiquity in the Byzantium, professor R. Jenkins at the King’s College of London, in the work “Byzantium a Byzantinism (1963) the supported the racist uncontinuity of the ancient Greeks among the people of Byzantium. Obviously Mr. R. Jenkins adopts unthinkably the known points of view of Fallmerayer, on overall intermarriage among the masses of the Empire, and particularly by the incursions of the Slavs and Albanians, and as an argument, among others, brought the multiplicity of foreign language forms and kinds being embodied in the then spoken language by the Byzantine people. The views of Jenkins brought out the reaction of G. Arnakis, who in the study under the title “Byzantium and Greece” proved the unsupporting reason of Jenkins, who, let us say it by the way, he probably ignored the powering of Fallmerayer’s views by air national histographer Constantinos Paparigopoulos.

                The Jenkins’s successor at the King’s College of London C. Mango agreed after the reasoning of his predecessor, in his work “Byzantinism and Romantic Hellenism (1965), where he focuses the researching interest of him on the ideologies of Byzantine and Post byzantine Greeks, and, as he characteristically stresses, “to the fantom of the race continuity”. Mango overstresses the Christian faith of Byzantinians, that he takes it as the main obstacle of their society to the classical antiquity.

                To the criticisms and doubts on the continuity of the classical Greece in the Byzantium of C. Mango has answered the professor Ap. Vacalopoulos, who at the same time overthrew all his argumentations as well as these ones of Jenkins.

                Fallmerayer’s theories have resulted to be absolutely wrong, as they all have had an arbitrary result of the international pressures and distortions of the science of theology. The inexplicable insistency of Jenkins and Margo on the non-continuity of Hellenism, has also been the result of erroneous interpretations and partial actions, getting at unscientifically targets. Contrary to the already known and internationally acceptable scientificallity of him, Mango remained silent to the dynamic argument as regarding the language as of the philosophy of the ancient Greeks, as well as the extraordinary argumentation of the professor at the University of Oxford Gebrase Mathews, who in his erudite work in Byzantine Aesthetics has proven obviously the influence of the Hellenic philosophy on the aesthetics of the byzantine art, and particularly on the Neoplatonism.

                According to the research of Professor Vacalopoulos,

                a) It is not even placed a matter of continuity of Hellenism since the ancient times until our days.

                b) Margo totally ignores or on purpose he falsifies those data that compose the Hellenic conscience, since the Homer and later, as in the language, the religion, the art and politics, but mainly in the philosophy. I personally deeply appreciate the scientific contribution of Mango internationally but a I am asking how does he overlooks the unbroken continuity of the philosophical word of Heraclitus in his theory on the Speech of the according to Saint John’s Gospel, of the philosopher Fathers of the Church, of the Byzantine philosophers and thinkers of the New Hellenism.

                Mango’s successor at the King’s College, professor D. Nicol rejected the argumentation of Professors Jenkins and Mango and insisted that during all life of the Empire the population of the main Greece, as well as lots of other byzantine citizens possessed Hellenic conscience. In no one case do we have a collective, linguistic or conceiting slavization in the Byzantium. Professor D. Nicol, in his excellent work, The Last Centuries of Byzantium 1261 – 1453 (London 1792) demonstrated the linguistic and cultural continuity of the ancient Hellenic spirit in the Byzantium, as well as during the Post-Byzantine period.

                It has been a catapult against those who doubt the continuity of the classical culture of the Greeks in the Byzantium, was the Professor at the University of London, in the Birbeck College, Robert Browning, a member in the British Royal Academy and lecturer Dr. in the University of Athens. As characteristically says the distinguished professor “The agony of the Byzantinist scientists, as for instance Jenkins, Mango, and others, to stabilize and strengthen the independence of the scientific specialty against the classical philologists an historians, with a result to differentiate completely the Byzantium and the New Hellenism out of the antiquity”.

                The community of the classical civilization supports even W. Jaeger in his excellent work, “Early Christianity and Greek Paideia (1961), where he overdefences the new form of the Byzantine civilization and interprets positively the influence of the Christian faith on the structures of the Byzantine society.

                R. Browning, especially placed the continuity of Hellenism in the area of education as well as of the totality of Byzantines.

                In fact, as clearly stress the Cappadocian Fathers, Athanassios the Great, John Chrisostomos, Dionisios of the Supreme Court of Justice, Maximos the self-confessed, John Damaskinos, Fotios The Great, John the Blessing, Michael Psellos, John the Halian, Theodore the Monastery dependent, Nikiphoros Grigoras, George Plithon – Gemistos and others, the continuation of the philosophic reasoning, the philology, the tragedy and the art have been unceasing, as that in addition to all these, lots of elements have been fertilizing positively and contributing to forming of the magnificent Byzantine civilization and since then of the new Hellenism, as well as of the entire Western Civilization until nowadays.

                The research of the civilization by Byzantines, as comes out from studies of Faidon Coucoules, Spiridon Vrionis, Robert Browning and others, discovers out the substantial relation with the creators of classical culture of the 5th and 4th century b.D. If the Byzantines had discovered by themselves the classical antiquity, as happened during the Renaissance in the 14th and 15th centuries in the western Europe, then in fact it is to be placed a serious item, an asking on uncontinuity. But the fact that the Byzantines assimilated naturally the structuring elements of the classical antiquity and mostly, the have given to them a new form and shape and a new breathing, fully demonstrates the dynamism of the continuity.

                The Byzantine thinkers, on a multi parted way, multiply and multimannered have been philosophizing even the most enlighted of them, prelates, monks and laics, have been proved excellent scholars pf Plato, Aristotle, and the Neoplatonics, as the Great Fathers, Psellos, Halos and George Plithon-Gemistor. And especially Efstathios of Salonica made him known as an insuperable annotator of the Homerian Epics.

                As for us the above given, and in brief exposed research internationally makes known the Scientifics interest on the greatest importance problem of continuity or not of Hellenism, as a spiritual and cultural creation, through the centuries. And a top argument, in favor of the continuity reasoning is that of philosophy, given the fact that the philosophical argumentation assures, in favor of every other scientific contribution, of the continuation of the being true such truth.

                The through of on purpose gradation of the spiritual creation of Byzantium is due mostly that one on the part of some researches of the modern period to characterized it as being of middle-aged, that is darkening, and this is obvious in order to place it on the same label as it was the Middle age in the West, where there was for centuries a permanent stagnation, as regarding the progress of the sciences, firstly and mainly because of the overstressed influence on them of the Roman-Catholic Church, with the well known extremities and peripecies as of the philosophy as of the scientists. The extreme dependence of scientists on the Roman-Catholic theologists really made difficult the free development of the sciences. Such a thing did not ever happening in Byzantium.

                So, excepting some disgraceful cases, as a rule the Orthodox Eastern Catholic Church of Christ cooperated in the free development of the Word and speech, and some Orthodox Bishops came to be pioneers in the philosophy as well as the scientific research. And this due to the fact that in Byzantium the philosophy has never been considered to be an “ancilla theologiae”, as that took place in most cases in the Western Europe, until the luminous minds as of Descartes, intervened in order to break the chains of the Roman-Catholic Church to liberate the Word.

                A very strong argument in favour of the continuity of the ancient Hellenic philosophy in Byzantium is the reference of Hegel in the history of the dialectic that has been founded by Plato and Aristotle and then perfected by the Byzantine thinkers. The relation of philosophy with the Christian faith, according to Hegel it discovered the meaning of the absolute being, of the Trinitarianity of God.

                And surely the literature, aesthetics, artistic creation and the philosophy of the classical antiquity have suffered some changes by the Byzantine thinkers, but not, by no means any transformations. The nucleus of these creations has been the duly meaning and the moving strength of the creativity of the Byzantine civilization. In fact our Byzantine ancestors, acting under the beneficial burden of the great inheritress coming from Hellenic antiquity could be able to edificate and construct a high speech, and to penetrate into the depth of difficult meanings, and what is more, to compose the messages of the ancient Hellenic philosophy by the messages and thoughts of the Christian faith, and finally to create the new human being, who is this way called to face the problems his own time.

                Such a way reformed and shaped byzantine humanism has constituted the foundation of the later followed European humanism, that really was an extraordinary turn in the world-wide history.

                So, it is self-evident what really is the Hellenic classical tradition, as it is clear that the most extraordinary spiritual creation has been without any interruption followed in Byzantium and then is being continued towards the New Hellenism, and to the entire Ecumene. The wide-spread arguments of those who are opposing to such a view cannot undergo a serious and scientific critics. Hellenism, as a spiritual, artistic, philosophic and dynamic strength of the Race, has always been, it is and should always be the life giving breath of Greeks, under the ancient-Hellenic and Christian substance of its own personality, and even more during our days of crisis of consciences as it is expressed as a serious crisis in values. And in fact, Romiosini, as an ecumenicality expresses the harmonic composition of the ancient-Hellenic classical creation jointly with the Orthodox Christian Faith, as the unique embankment against the universalisation, that one that destroys every element of the human being, as it is a moral support of any person.

                His Beatitude,

                All the above mentioned, as all those who really are the pioneers of the spirit, hierophants of the knowledgement and mystagogists of the science, stars multi-lighted of the thinkable firmament of the word, invincible defenders of dialectic, wise thinkers of the true substance of all beings, inspectors of the untruth and the empty fraud and despisers, all them express the component of the creative turning of the conscience that leads to the light of the truth, for which the really refined to the truth, as the healthy persons can live from the being of existence to the more being of co existence and to the being that is after the historical being.

                Note: The footnotes as well as the references of this introduction shall be published soon.

                Peter A. Papoutsis

                PS – My Grandfather on my father’s side called himself a Roman or “Romiosini” meaning Christian Greek. Hellenism never ended but was transformed by the Gospel.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Peter, is this book available on Amazon? if so, I’d like to get it.

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    That I do not know. I know a few Byzantine bookstores on the net have similar books. Let me look and see what I find and report back. Nowadays everything is on Amazon.


            • “…the culture of the Greeks was trasnformed by Christianity…” Yes, absolutely! Unfortunately, ever since the decay of the Byzantine state and the forced ghettoization of the Church by the Turks, we stopped transforming cultures in the ancient heartland of Christianity. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do so here thought.

            • Classical Greek learning has many parts, some good, some neutral, and some bad. The good/neutral parts would be learning in the sciences, logic, etc. The bad would be theology/philosophy based on Plato, Aristotle, etc. The earliest fathers in their apologetics against the Greeks were fiercely critical of Greek Philosophy. St Clement of Alexandria was the first, misguidedly in my opinion, to co-opt the language of the greek philosophers and incorporate it into Christian theology. In my opinion, the golden thread of Orthodox philosophy and anthropology are encapsulated in the Philokalia, not in Plato.

              St Gregory Palamas, whom I think is the greatest Orthodox mind since Chrysostom, did address Greek learning in the Triads, as has been pointed out in another post. Keep in mind that Palamas was combating Barlaamism, which was really rooted in western Scholasticism, which in turn was rooted in an attempt to force Christianity into a classically greek framework. In his own words, here is an excerpt from the Triads (Paulist Press):

              “Is there then anything of use to us in this philosophy? Certainly. For just as there is much therapeutic value even in substances obtained from the flesh of serpents, and the doctors consider there is no better and more useful medicine than that derived from this source, so there is something of benefit to be had even from the profane philosophers-but somewhat as in a mixture of honey and hemlock. So it is most needful that those who wish to separate out the honey from the mixture should beware that they do not take the deadly residue by mistake. And if you were to examine the problem, you would see that all or most of the harmful heresies derive their origin from this source….

              As to natural wisdom, it is said that even Adam possessed it in abundance, more so than all his descendents, although he was the first who failed to safeguard conformity to the image. Profane philosophy existed as an aid to this natural wisdom before the advent of Him who came to recall the soul to its ancient beauty: Why then were we not renewed by this philosophy before Christ’s coming? Why did we need, not someone to teach us philosophy-an art which passes away with this age, so that it is said to be “of this age”-but One “who takes away the sin of the world”, and who grants us a true and eternal wisdom-even though this appears as “foolishness” to the ephemeral and corrupt wise men of this world, whereas in reality its absence makes truly foolish those not spiritually attached to it? Do you not clearly see that it is not the study of profane sciences which brings salvation, which purifies the cognitive faculty of the soul, and conforms it to the divine Archetype?

              This, then, is my conclusion: If a man who seeks to be purified by fulfilling the prescriptions of the Law gains no benefit from Christ-even though the Law had been manifestly promulgated by God-then neither will the acquisition of the profane sciences avail. For how much more will Christ be of no benefit to one who turns to the discredited alien philosophy to gain purification for his soul? It is Paul, the mouthpiece of Christ, who tells us this and gives us his testimony.”

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Peter, you’re right, Classical learning was revived in many ways by the Palamites, who I believe were more sympathetic to Aristoteilianism than Platonism (as was Aquinas in the West).

              • Aristsotelian logic can be useful but it has its limits. In general, it is preferable to be logical and coherent in one’s arguments than not. However, logic will never teach us the Holy Trinity, the dual natures of Christ, the possibility of noetic prayer, or participation in the divine. Orthodoxy is rooted not only in logic, but also in experience and “mysticism” (no, I’m not thrilled with the term mysticism, but it is the commonly used term.) Palamas above all taught that Hesychastic understanding could not be understood by logic alone. It could only be understood by experience thorugh embracing the disciplines that allow one to inwardly experience greater and greater communion with God.

                Regarding Aquinas, I could be wrong, but I don’t see him as a high point in Western Spirituality. I see him less on the mystical side and more on the reductionist logical side that would have more in common with Barlaam than Palamas. By the way, one of the reasons Barlaam advocated the views that he did was because he was involved in Catholic-Orthodox discussions. Once he was excommunicated from Orthodoxy, Rome was happy to embrace him. Even today, Rome does not accept Palamas as a saint, though they have shown some warming to him.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                I agree with everythinbg you stated. Hellenism has retreated and forced into a Ghetto mentality here in America and abroad, especially in Istanbul. What I was pointing out is that Helleism never ended or died out, but was transformed and is still transforming our world through the spread of both Britism and American culture (i.e. Western Culture) bring such Ideas as Democracy (Athenian) and restraint of mob rule and protection of individual rights (Laws/Platonic) to the entire planet. Now there is a bad side to Hellenism as Jacob Burckhardt noted in his book The Greeks and Greek Civilization that basically stated that Greek society was aristocratic, restrictive and closed to almost all with a limitation of persoanl rights and freedoms, as well as a supporter and purveyor of the concept of slavery.

                Yet, this view is temprered and given a wider breathe of vision by Victor David Hanson in his book The Other Greeks were Hanson shows, and shows quite convicingly that it was the Greek farmer that wanted protection of his property rights and a say in the activities of his community, especially because it directly affected his livelyhood.

                So good and bad in the ancient world.

                Then with the spread of Greek culture, learning and education to the entire midlle east and near east by Alexander the Great Greek thought and understanding of things broke out of its mediterranian shell and expanded to Pergamon where the famous physician Galen came from and to Alexandria where the Great Library of Alexandria was built, the rudamental equations for simple code based mechanisims (i.e. computers) and steam engines were created.

                Then of course and most importantly the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek in Alexandrian and being that the common language of the region was Greek all came to read and understand the divine revelation of God that set the foundation of the Gospel and New Testament in Greek.

                The the Creed was written in Greek and EXPRESSED in Greek thought! Homoousia was a totally created Greek word that expressed the Orthodox teaching of Jesus Christ’s essense being one with that of God the Father. Hypostasis, another Greek term and word that the Cappodocian Fathers used to express the relationship of the Holy Trinity to each other “Three natures (hypostatis) in One Being (Ousia).” Further, this term of Hypostatis was origionally used by Aristotle to express a thing’s inner reality or true substance or nature.

                Later on Greek Culture or Hellenism was preserved and expended upon by the Christian Romans – the Romiosini. Emperor Heraclius (610-641) was the Roman Emperor that official introduced Greek as the official language of the Empire, and where language is so is culture.
                During the Last Stand of Emperor Constantine Paleologos IX, the last Emperor of the Roman Empire, right before the Battle and eventual Fall of Constantinople, the Emperor enboldened his troops by telling them that they were the inheritors of the culture and learing of the Greeks and the Romans, and they should live up to their legacy during this battle and fight bravely and with honor.

                Then came the Turkocratia, and instead of lossing our Hellenism as Greeks we rediscovered it! We stayed in Istanbul and traveled abroad and wherever we went we took our Hellenism with us, our New Christian Orthodox Hellenism. We never lost it and it never left us. Thereafter, Hellenism went west and all of Western Civilization was predicated upon it and new and more beautiful expressions came about.

                Today, how do we as a people preserve and protect our Hellenism as a culture, but more importantly as an idea. As Percy Bysshe Shelley states: “We are all Greeks. Our laws, our literature, our religion, our arts have their root in Greece.” He goes on to state: But Greece and her foundations are Built below the tide of war, Based on the crystalline sea Of thought and its eternity; Her citizens, imperial spirits, Rule the present from the past, On all this world of men inherits Their seal is set.

                Hellenism is an Idea and a dream that men have dreamt and continue to dream of to this day. Why? because its based on such things as Freedom, Equality, Rule of Law, Virtue, Respect and the Betterment of Man. Further Modern Hellenism is infused with the One True faith and The Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

                So Hellenism still exists among the Greeks, but they have forgotten it and squandered it, and still exists in the West, which is also quickly losing its Hellenic heritage. Thus, Hellenism’s continuity and existence survives to this present day.

                Peter A. Papoutsis

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Peter, thank you for pointing out that Hellenism is still alive and well in the world. I’m a huge Hansen fan. He get’s it. It’s too bad that the GOA doesn’t understand it though. Although I will give credit to Arb +Demetrios (and +Jonah for hosting him) when he gave a wonderful lecture at SVS 2 years ago.

                • I’m wondering what the Native Alaskan Orthodox Christians, who assimilated the Orthodox faith into their culture (and vice versa) and held on to It for about 150 years without priests (and bishops?) while under tremendous outside pressure to give it up, would think about “Hellenism.” I’m now wondering the same about the thousands of Mayans presently being brought into the Orthodox Church-must they become “Hellenes” as well?

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    No absolutely not! They should become Orthodox if it is their choice. They should also preserve their own distinct and ancient cultures. The spread of Hellenism is NOT the same as becoming a Hellen. The British, French, German, and even the Japanese through their Post-WWII constitution have adopted and live by the prinicples of Hellenism through should things as Democracy, Rule of Law, Rational though and Phiolosophy that has blended with their own cultures and has brought forth the modern societies we have today.

                    Hellenism survives as a world force through Western Civilation and its export to other countries who have chosen to adopt it. India was dominated for years by England and when England left in 1947 did India go back to a Monarchy with the Raj or back to tribal leaders? No. A Parlament was established, elected and a Prime Minister set with a Court system and the Establishment of the Rule of Law.

                    In fact, when Hellenism went to Rome the synthesis between Hellenism and Roman Legalism and Polity created the “New” form of Hellenism at that time during the period called “The Second Sophistic” age during the Roman Empire.

                    So becoming Greek? No. Adopting the priciples of Democracy, Republicanism, Rule of Law, etc., yes. I am a great beliver in the continuing virtues of Western Civilization spreading througout the world, but naturally and by choice, NOT war and forced assimilation.


          • I am now reading, over and over again, Palamas’ Homilies (Mount Tabor Pub., 2009, dedicated to the great Spiritual Father of our time Archimandrite Sophrony Sakarov of blessed memory) and am amazed on how contemporary they are to this day and age. (But, then again, maybe I really shouldn’t be amazed about that.)

    • George Michalopulos says

      Andrew, that’s a very good question. I hear that Athens gives $3-6 million a yaer to the patriarchate. I wonder if that’s gonna shrivel up. What then? How about leaning on the Archons even more for more money? That may be a dry well. Instead, I look for Soros to swoop in and make up the difference with even more giving.

      • George, another avenue that needs to be investigated is the funding of the Episcoal Assembly which is still not clear as of today.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          It’d be nice if we could find out but I’d place a safe bet on the Archons/Leadership 100. A prediction: if things don’t go the Phanar’s way, look for the funding to decrease over time. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next couple of years they’re meeting at the Holiday Inn Express in Springfield, Ill.

          • We have to make sure that the GOA Metropolitans don’t use the EA’s as a back door to promote Phanariote ideology. They would do that by killing any movement towards jurisdictional inter-cooperation. The tactic would hide their subservience to Constantinople and enables them to maintain the fiction that they are working towards an American Orthodox Church. Don’t let them out of your sight!

            I’ve heard that GOA priests already hammered OCL and FOCUS speakers for not getting a GOA Metropolitan’s permission to speak in their Metropolis even when they are not presenting in a GOA parish. Brazen stuff that has to be resisted. Who wants to become wards of the Phanar?

            • Patrick Henry Reardon says

              Ian James writes, “I’ve heard that GOA priests already hammered OCL and FOCUS speakers for not getting a GOA Metropolitan’s permission to speak in their Metropolis even when they are not presenting in a GOA parish.”

              To that list, he may add Antiochian speakers at Serbian parishes.

              It is really quite remarkable.

              • What?!

                If I were a sought-after speaker, I’d tell the GOA metropolitan that he could start telling me where to speak when he started paying my fee.

  4. Thank you, Andrew.

  5. George–Great article that shows you at the top of your game. I particularly liked the way you connected so many dots.

  6. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Correct as always, but its still sad. This is especially sad for me as I am witnessing before my eyes yet another schism in the Greek Church. What could have and should have happend naturally – i.e. an American Orthodox Church being instituted and installed, has been stalled, hamstrung and delayed all because of politics. Good work George.


    • Jane Rachel says

      I agree, good article and very informative. (Finally had a chance to read it. Still reading and enjoying the comments.)

  7. Did Abp. Demetrios know that the VP was going to Greece and Turkey in early December? (And it makes me wonder who asked for the meeting, the GOA or the VP?)

    In the press briefing there are some notes of interest to Orthodoxy:

    – The VP “will see the Ecumenical Patriarch when we’re in Turkey, and he very much looks forward to doing that.”

    – “(We’ve) been urging the Turks in this constitutional reform process to have an inclusive process that strengthens freedoms of expression, religion and other fundamental rights, including the human rights of minorities.”

    – “We have pushed very hard and continue to push for the reopening of the Halki seminary, and that’s something that will come up certainly on the Vice President’s trip.”

    November 28, 2011. Press Briefing Conference Call on the Vice President’s Trip to Turkey and Greece

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Greg. that’s all well and good, but it’s nothing but the usual anodyne boilerplate. Made to make the Turks look good while they do nothing positive (and more than a little negative), all the while making 79th St still look relevant. All the while they’re not doing anything productive or worthwhile. (Where are our soup kitchens? hospitals? medical clinics? homeless shelters?) Our festivals however are boffo.

      • Perhaps the GOA feels that watching out for Greece and Greek interests in other countries is their primary responsibility. As sad as it might be for a unified Orthodoxy in the Americas, maybe what is needed is for the GOA to affirm unequivocally that they are first and foremost a “Greek” Orthodox Church.

        Just a thought.

  8. Nothing like a photo-op with a beloved war criminal!

  9. Francis Frost says

    Dear Mr. Michalopulos:

    While your criticisms of the Phanar may have some merit, there is a far greater threat to the Orthodox faith, and specifically to the Orthodox Church in America. That threat comes not from the Phanar; but from the the Moscow Patriarchate, which has renounced its fidelity to the Sacred Canons, and the teaching of the Gospel in return for its special relationship with the anti-American Putin dictatorship.

    Recent statements by Patriarch Kirill bemoaning the end of the atheistic USSR are ample evidence of this. See the Interfax article attached below. (I apologize in advance for the ‘data dump’). Please note that Patriarch Kirill calls for national pride and national self-consciousness as the basis or Russia’s regeneration, without even a glancing reference to the Gospel or Jesus Christ. Our Lord said: ” man cannot serve to masters”. It is clear that Patriarch Kirill and his Synod serve a master who is not Christ.

    This apostasy must concern all of us here in America, since Metropolitan Jonah is Patriarch Kirill’s protege, and Metropolitan Jonah has proposed renouncing the OCA’s autocephaly in favor of a ‘maximal autonomy’ under the MP.

    The anti-American nature of the Putin regime is demonstrated by Presidential place-holder Mededyev, who this past week admitted that the August 2008 invasion of Georgia was a proxy war against the US and its NATO allies.

    The late Fr Alexander Schmemmann spoke of a united Orthodox Church in America, that would be “fully Orthodox and fully American”. If our church becomes a slave of the Putin dictatorship, then our church will be neither American, nor Orthodox. If we must choose between the Turkish turban and the racist, atheist imperialists in the Kremlin, then by all means, let us have the turban.

    Francis Frost

    Patriarch Kirill considers collapse of the USSR a decay of historical Russia

    Moscow, November 15, Interfax – Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia believes collapse of the Soviet Union was a negative event. 

”This year we recall the 20th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s collapse. In this connection I prefer to speak about collapse of historical Russia,” the Patriarch said at a mutual session of the guardian, supervisory and public councils of the church and scientific center Pravoslavnaya Encyclopedia taking the floor after the State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov.

According to him, many ask the question why the USSR collapsed and there are many answers, but “among reasons is certainly the decay of national self-consciousness, nation pride, perceiving history in its integrity, understanding that historical community of people has a great meaning for their material and spiritual prosperity.”

On the eve of the parliamentary elections the Primate urged Russian society to care “for the growth of national self-conscience and dignity so that the events of the early 90s would never happen again and so that references to unsatisfactory governing, incorrect ideology could never force people to destroy statehood as they targeted at the regimen, but hit historical Russia.”

”God grants that our nation will be securely protected from such temptations, which we went through loosing historical Russia,” the Patriarch said.

    Medvedev Gets Caught Telling the Truth

    NOVEMBER 24, 2011

    Brian Whitmore
    In a rare instance of truth telling, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev appeared to reveal on Monday the real reason Moscow went to war with Georgia in August 2008.

    Speaking to officers of the Southern Military District in Vladikavkaz, Medvedev seemed to suggest that the goal was preventing Georgia from joining NATO (h/t to Civil Georgia for flagging this story):

    This is a remarkable admission. In the past, Kremlin officials have said they reluctantly went to war with Georgia to stop Tbilisi’s “aggression” and “genocide” in the breakaway region of South Ossetia. But here, Medvedev suggests that the campaign was — at least in part — an effort to stifle Georgia’s NATO bid (which looked a lot more realistic in the summer of 2008 than it does today).

    But nevertheless, Medvedev’s bout of truth telling on Monday was revealing indeed.

    For the full article see:


    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Mr Frost, there is nothing wrong with Patriarch +Kirill being a patriot and loyal to his country. He’s a Russian citizen and that’s his job. That also shows that he does not have any universalist pretensions since his loyalty to Russia necessarily limits his field of vision, as my own love for this country mandates that I be loyal to its desires. I wish our Greek-American bishops were loyal to the country in which they live. Instead, they are too busy abasing themselves to an Islamist Neo-Ottoman who will never be a Christian and who represents a civilization that is in the vanguard of a resurgent Islam. This is troubling on two levels: first, as a proud son of Greek immigrants, I cannot tell you how hurtful that is to me; second, as an American citizen, I consider it the height of ingratitude to this country to become a citizen of a country that is rabidly anti-American, anti-Semitic, and anti-Christian. (The trifect of hatred so to speak.)

      If I may proceed. Many of our greatest ecclesiarchs in America used to be patriots. The most feared regiment in the Revolutionary War was “the Black Regiment,” the pastors who lent their considerable moral authority to the American side. The late Archbishop +Iakovos was a proud American. Billy Graham loves his country. Mormons love their country. How can our bishops do any less?

      Nor can I let stand your assessment that +Kirill has no truck with the Gospel. This is nonsense on stilts.

      That being said, the fact that +Jonah is a “protoge” of +Kirill stands him in good stead. “Protoge” does not mean “stooge,” in this respect but someone who respects the time-honored traditions of Orthodoxy.

      Soon, I will develop an essay which shows that the Phanar is subsidized heavily by Soros and his one-worlders. I am still in the process of collecting all the data. This is to me a far greater threat to canonicity and fidelity to the Gospel than anything going on in Russia. Think about it: George Soros is an avowed atheist and trans-nationalist. Why is he wasting his time giving money to the PC? Hitchens, Dawkins, and the other New Atheists are at least honest in their rabid hatred of all things Christian. At least they’re honest and they’re not wasting their money trying to suborn an ancient Church.

      As for Putin, I do not consider him an enemy any more than I consider Russia an enemy. The Cold War is over and we won it. The USSR no longer stands. He has neither the wherewithal nor the will to engage in a world-wide imperialist program as did the Soviet Union. ” Let us not go forward looking for foreign dragons to slay,” as President James Monroe said two hundred years ago. while we’re at it, let us show the neo-cons who love to get us into wars the door. Their latest attempt to get us to attack Russia because of Georgia is nothing but another transparent attempt to get us to spill our blood and spend our treasure on quixotic quests.

      • P.S. the present rulers in the Kremlin are not atheists. I wish I could say the same thing about the American Ruling Class, which is rabidly anti-Christian. So your dichotomy falls flat I’m afraid.

      • Jane Rachel says

        George wrote: Hitchens, Dawkins, and the other New Atheists are at least honest in their rabid hatred of all things Christian. At least they’re honest and they’re not wasting their money trying to suborn an ancient Church.

        Absolutely. Thanks.

      • Francis Frost says

        Dear Mr Michalopoulos:

        Patriarch Kirill has violated his oath to uphold the canons of the Orthodox Church in the service of a violent and racist imperialism. The MP has violated at least one dozen of the most ancient authoritative Apostolic Canons.

        During the 2008 invasion the Russian bishops Panteleimon of Karabadino- Adyghe and Feofan of Saratov accompanied the invasion forces and literally “blessed” the weapons and the soldiers who used them to commit acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The missiles “blessed” by Bishop Feofan were used to attack the ancient Ghvrtaeba Cathedral in Nikazi on 8/08/2008. The next day the Russian troops and their Ossetian allies looted, desecrated and burned this ancient Orthodox Cathedral. You can see these acts with your own eyes. See video links below. The MP does not even bother to hide its uncanonical behavior in occupied Georgia. The Russian clergy simply believe that they may act with impunity. Read the following article from the MP’s own web-sites. One again, I apologized for taxing your readers’ attention spans; but the original articles are only available on line in the original Russian text.

        It is symptomatic of our contemporary jaded and cynical pseudo-Orthodox culture, that you can hold up a serial violator of the Canons, and a self professed racist as an example to the faithful. Even so, God is not mocked. The time of God’s “righteous chastisement which impendeth against” us is already at hand, already visible for those who have eyes to see. May Almighty God, who is yet Merciful lead us to repentance while there is still time.

        The 2008 documentary “Orthodox Occupation” has been re-released and posted on You Tube at the following url’s This video documents the racist, violent and un-Christian complicity o the MP in the Russian government’s campaign of terror in occupied Georgia.
        Portions of this documentary plus additional footage are now available with English voice over at the following urls:
        The following articles document the un-canonical behavior o the Moscow Patriarchate in occupied Abkhazia. I apologize or the information over-load; but the English translation are my own and not available on line.

        “It’s the Weak Link that Breaks. Abkhazia, the Next Weak Link in the Russian Church’s Diplomacy” by Alexander Soldatov;  Portal-Credo.Ru web-site article

        Original article (in Russian):

        The Moscow Patriarchate has perhaps the world’s most powerful ecclesiastical-political structure. The quasi-state Russian Church does not suffer from lack of funding. Well, perhaps, there is a lack of personnel; there are not enough creative people in the numerous structures of the Patriarchate, who are enthused by the high ideal of service to the Church for the sake of God’s truth on earth. Also this is a pragmatic time, and the political-economic situation of the ROC-MP does not evoke a romantic mood. If you do not accept as a “National Idea” the nostalgic celebration of May 9th (Victory overFascism Day- translator); you’ll have to admit the “Monetocratia” the power of money and the faith in its huge, wonderworking might has become the genuine national idea in most of the post-Soviet space.

        Since the Russian Orthodox Church acquired “an effective manager” as its head, it has articulated just such a mindset and set of values in its church policy. Patriarch Kirill realized that the time had passed when unpaid church workers would labor ‘for the glory of God’ and that in order to implement its ‘missionary imperative’, the church would require a solid financial policy and sound economic base. Hence the transfer of vast properties to the Church’s estate, the public financing of religious education in the schools and chaplaincies for the military; the creation of state sponsored ‘endowment funds” for the most significant monasteries and parishes. In addressing issues of foreign policy, the Patriarch also routinely relies on the Russian government.

        It is no secret to Russians that the wars in Chechnya and the Caucasus region were only concluded by the permanent infusion into the “secessionist regions” of multi-billion ruble subsidies from Moscow. Nor is it a secret that huge sums of money were invested in the restoration of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, whose independence the Russian Federation recognized after the end of its victorious war against a fearsome opponent – Georgia. The Russian government even expended its financial resources in order to acquire recognition of the “newly independent states” by the governments of Nauru and Nicaragua. The authorities of the microscopic island of Nauru did not even hide the kind of sums they were paid for their recognition of the independence of the two Georgian regions.

        For its part, the Moscow Patriarchate also invested its substance in the creation of an independent Abkhaz diocese. Despite the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church recognizes the jurisdiction of the Georgian Church over Abkhazia, Sukhumi and Novy Afon (New Athos), the ROC is constantly sending priests of the neighboring Maikop diocese into Abkahzia to serve there. Moreover, the Russian Church has dispatched to Abkhazia its chief public relations asset, Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev, who in recent months has carried out successful interventions in the various “hot spots” of the post-Soviet Oikumene. His trip to Moldova of last autumn was memorable for his accomplishment of extinguishing the “fire of a new schism” in the face of the conservative Society of the Blessed Matrona of Moscow. That crew consisted of three priests of the Udmurt diocese, who had ceased the commemoration of Patriarch Kirill; a fact of which, alas, Moscow had not been forewarned. And so we have an example of Fr. Andrei’s successful efforts to prevent schisms on the territories of one of Russia’s central regions.

        Officially in Abkhazia since last fall, Fr Andrei has been lecturing at the university, rides around on aMoped, and lives with a pious family, who had moved to the ‘land of the soul’ from stifling Moscow. Unofficially, Fr Andrei is steering the process of forming an autocephalous Abkhaz Church, whose autocephaly will be just as real as the Abkhaz’s government’s supposed sovereignty.

        If we accept Fr Andrei as the “overseer” over the Abkhaz Church, the main lever of control over the Abkhaz Church is the priest Vissarion (Besarion in both Georgian and Apsynni languages – translator) Apliaa, who has served in Pitsunda since the Soviet era, when he went by the surname, “Plia” which sounds better in the Russian language. Having tested the waters in several jurisdictions during the Georgian- Abkhaz war, Fr Vissarion came to the conclusion that only the Moscow Patriarchate could successfully support and defend the Abkhaz Church. Fr. Vissarion often travels to Moscow, where he serves with the local clergy including the Patriarch, despite the questionable canonical status of the Abkhaz clergy. Fr Vissaraion elevates the name of the Patriarch of Moscow during the services, although he never was granted a canonical release by the Georgian Patriarchate. This course of action, however, is consistent with the stated policy of the Abkhaz authorities, who carry out Moscow’s orders and are more loyal to the Kremlin than any other region subject to the Russian Federation.

        Such a “narrow and puppet-like” position as shown by Fr Vissarion – a representative of the old Soviet generation of the clergy – has not found favor with the younger generation of Abkhaz clergy, formed under conditions of independence, who seek to incorporate the Abkhaz church into the system of “World Orthodoxy” rather than relegate it to the status of a provincial diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church –Moscow Patriarchate. This younger generation rejects the destruction of the special delights of catholicity (sobornost’), the strict centralized “vertical” merger with the plutocratic powers, the commercialization, and the other systemic flaws inherent in the Russian State Church. In general, they are guided by the desire to introduce their Abkhaz Church on the world wide stage, rather than “beg on the doorstep of the Russian embassy”. Who could have predicted that the Clergy-Laity meeting at Novy Afon on May 15th would be the premier national event in
        Abkhazia?  It was attended by about 2,000 people, a huge number for such a small country. Here it was:  real conciliarity (sobornost’), the kind that Russians can only dream about! The meeting welcomed numerous political leaders, including Abkhaz government officials. The chairman of the meeting, Hieromonk Dorofei (Dbar), who completed his MDiv and theological studies in Greece, was named candidate for bishop. The organizers of this event let it be known that they have the definite support of the authorities, so that they will soon be registering the new name for their creation – The Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia. As the name of this structure implies, as well as the personal contacts its founders have with Patriarch Bartholomew, indicates the priority they give to Constantinople, not Moscow, in negotiating their autocephaly. Especially, since the Ecumenical Patriarch is of the opinion that only he has the right to grant autocephaly, a right recognized since antiquity. This is why “World Orthodoxy” does not recognize the autocephaly granted by Moscow to the Orthodox Church in America. Yet even with such “daring” as to proclaim the establishment of the Holy Metropolis of Abkhazia, these clergy stressed that they remained within the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate.

        At one time, the Orthodox in Abkhazia had a choice, similar to the one faced by their brothers in South Ossetia. Have found themselves caught between “two beacons of official Orthodoxy” – Moscow and Tbilisi – and unable to be located in either jurisdiction, they opted for one of the unofficial “True Orthodox” jurisdictions albeit one with the softest stance vis-a vis “official Orthodoxy”, that is the “Synod in Resistance” of Metropolitan Kipirian (Kutsumba). Currently, the True Orthodox Church in South Ossetia is headed by Fr Georgiy ((Pukhate) who would like to enter into the Moscow Patriarchate, only Moscow cannot come up with a plan to accomplish the deed.

        The Moscow Patriarchate and its de-facto representative in Abkhazia, Fr Vissarion, responded most irritably to the news of the meeting at Novy Afon. Since the monks Andrei (Amparo) and Dorofei (Dbar) are listed as minor (parish) clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Maikop Diocese, they could be subject to canonical sanctions. It is true that Fr Andrei was transferred to the Church of Greece, where he served in parishes; but Moscow will not acknowledge that this temporary transfer was a canonical release.

        The newly proclaimed Metropolis will prove to be a “great trial” for the Abkhaz authorities. On the one hand, this organization is deeply nationalistic in nature, and the principle of “Independent State – Independent Church ” which was key to the future of Ukrainian Orthodoxy, is dear to the heart of any sovereign power, even a puppet regime. On the other hand the bulk of the Abkhaz clergy, gathered around Vissarion, will never recognize the autocephalous Metropolis without direct and specific instructions to do so from Moscow. Given the fact that the pro-Moscow faction has been present in Abkhazia for twenty years, and the fact that the Abkhaz authorities are so dependent on Moscow; it is unlikely that the authorities could take an independent stance on the church issue. It is therefore unlikely that the “Holy Metropolis” was authorized by the authorities.

        The situation may be resolved as it was in Estonia- a division of the parishes between Constantinople and Moscow. If this model works in so many countries around the world; well then, why not in Abkhazia?
        In any case even with the story still unfolding, we are dealing with another loss of Moscow’s position in the post Soviet region, and with the expansion of Constantinople, which represents the West in the Orthodox world – that is the U.S and the “aggressive NATO bloc”

        Alexander Soldatov
        Excerpt from the Article: “Abkhazia Again Struggles for Independence; but this Time from Russia?”  
        by Vladimir Vorsobin    Moskovskaya Komsomolskaya Pravda, 5/17/2011

        Original article (in Russia):

        The Church
        Further on the way to the border, in the Sochi airport, I meet the well known Russian missionary, Archdeacon Andrei Kuraev. He frowns, furtively and diplomatically. If he speaks, “it is not for publication”. For the past several months, Deacon Andrei has been shuttling back and forth between Moscow and Sukhumi; trying to maintain peace in the confidential religious sector of Russian-Abkhaz relations. Alas, there is a trench warfare going on. The conflict flared up in the New Athos monastery when the Russian Orthodox Church installed a retired priest, Igumen Efrem, as the new abbot of that monastery. Oddly, the head of the Abkhaz Church, Vissarion Apliaa, calls Fr Efrem by the respectable Abkhaz surname “Lakerbaia”, while their opponents call Fr Efrem by his Russian surname, Vinogradov.

        To the amazement of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Abkhazians actually cared. The nationalist scruples of the local Sukhumi Orthodox newspaper “Necessary” described it thus: “If Fr. Efrem had come alone and had Abkhaz roots; well then let him come; but no – he came with three (read Russian) hieromonks, five or six monks, and a novice… This requires a negotiation.”
        “The monastic brethren do not like the fact the Bessarion, behind their backs, took This Fr. Efrem to Moscow and presented him to Patriarch Kirill, and then in their words, Fr Efrem began to give orders what should be and what must not be in the monastery. There was to be nothing of the Byzantine or Greek style; emphasis must be on the Slavonic. It did not please the brothers nor the lay people, who came to worship in Novy Afon, that Fr. Efrem would conduct the services in Chruch Slavonic rather than in the Abkhazian (Apsynni) language.
        The uproar led the former rector of the monastery, Fr. Andrei (Anpar), with the help of public meetings, to obtain the recommendation of the Public Chamber of Abkhazian ‘to suspend the appointment’. Moreover, Fr Andrei clearly formulated the main and clearly understood idea of an established nation, which has finally become independent.

        ‘We believe that the future of the Abkhaz church must be built not only on our relationship with the Russian church; but also with the other Orthodox churches: with the Greeks, with the Serbs. The foreign policy of the Abkhaz church should be multipolar.’ As a result, the (Abkhaz) Orthodox community erupted in conflict. The next Sunday, the Abkhaz church split – those under the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church headed by Fr. Vissarion, and the independents headed by Fr. Andrei.

        Since I promised the Orthodox diplomat (Archdeacon Adrei Kuroev) that I would not cite him in my article, I will only say that the deacon expressed his astonishment at these events in the most colorful and emotional Russian language.
        Vladimir Vorsobin

        The Relevant Apostolic Canons
        Canon X. (XI.)
If any one shall pray, even in a private house, with an excommunicated person, let him also be excommunicated.

Canon XI. (XII.)
If any clergyman shall join in prayer with a deposed clergyman, as if he were a clergyman, let him also be deposed.

Canon XII. And XIII (XIII.)
If any one of the clergy or laity who is excommunicated, or not to be received, shall go away, and be received in another city without commendatory letters, let both the receiver and the received be excommunicated. But if he be excommunicated already, let the time of his excommunication be lengthened.

Canon XIV.
A bishop is not to be allowed to leave his own parish, and pass over into another, although he may be pressed by many to do so, unless there be some proper cause constraining him. as if he can confer some greater benefit upon the persons of that place in the word of godliness. And this must be done not of his own accord, but by the judgment of many bishops, and at their earnest exhortation.

Canon XV.
If any presbyter, or deacon, or any other of the list of the clergy, shall leave his own parish, and go into another, and having entirely forsaken his own, shall make his abode in the other parish without the permission of his own bishop, we ordain that he shall no longer perform divine service; more especially if his own bishop having exhorted him to return he has refused to do so, and persists in his disorderly conduct. But let him communicate there as a layman.

Canon XVI.
If, however, the bishop, with whom any such persons are staying, shall disregard the command that they are to cease from performing divine offices, and shall receive them as clergymen, let him be excommunicated, as a teacher of disorder.
        Canon XXX. (XXXI.)
If any bishop obtain possession of a church by the aid of the temporal powers, let him be deposed and excommunicated, and all who communicate with him.

Canon XXXI. (XXXII.)
If any presbyter, despising his own bishop, shall collect a separate congregation, and erect another altar, not having any grounds for condemning the bishop with regard to religion or justice, let him be deposed for his ambition; for he is a tyrant; in like manner also the rest of the clergy, and as many as join him; and let laymen be excommunicated. Let this, however, be done after a first, second, and third admonition from the bishop.

If any presbyter or deacon has been excommunicated by a bishop, he may not be received into communion again by any other than by him who excommunicated him, unless it happen that the bishop who excommunicated him be dead.

No foreign bishop, presbyter, or deacon, may be received without commendatory letters; and when they are produced let the persons be examined; and if they be preachers of godliness, let them be received. Otherwise, although you supply them with what they need, you must not receive them into communion, for many things are done surreptitiously.

        Canon XXXV. (XXXVI.)
        Let not a bishop dare to ordain beyond his own limits, in cities and places not subject to him. But if he be convicted of doing so, without the consent of those persons who have authority over such cities and places, let him be deposed, and those also whom he has ordained.

    • Pravoslavnie says

      Mr. Frost,

      Almost every ex-Soviet I have ever come into contact with considers the breakup of the USSR to have been a tragedy, and this has nothing to do with any nostalgia for communism. It can rightly be viewed as a breakup of historical Russia for there were no internal borders inside the Russian Empire and the USSR only gained some when Stalin created them after WW2. This is also how Russia “lost” the Crimea to Ukraine despite the Crimean peninsula being a part of historical Russia for centuries.

      I don’t fault Kyrill or even Medvedev for their remarks and calling them subservient or aggressive is the same as the pot calling the kettle black. In South Ossetia, Russia was trying to preserve its territorial integrity. Consider how it might feel to someone born American to need a passport to fly from New York to Chicago or be in a low-level state of war with Oklahoma.

      Consider this. Suppose the USA were to break up after half a century of political and social decay with the richer states of Texas and California pulling away from the heartland and older states of the East Coast. Then suppose that Washington decided to throw off several of the “poor” southern states like Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana because they were full of minorities and a burden on the weakened federal government. This is more or less what happened to the USSR during its period of disintegration. Then suppose that California started to give aid and encouragement to native Hawaiians who remember their once independent kingdom that was annexed by the USA following a coup in the 1890’s. They then mount a guerilla insurgency against US government facilities in Hawaii and start killing and forcing out non-Polynesians. This then requires the US Army to occupy Hawaii and put down the rebellion. Suppose that breakaway California had offered Russia use of Vandenberg Air Force Base and Russia supplied military advisors to the Californian army. Also suppose that weapons captured from the Hawaiian rebels had Russian markings on them. This roughly parallels the scenario that played out in Georgia during the conflict with Russia over South Ossetia. So I find it difficult to criticize Medvedev or to fault Kyrill for expressing some patriotic sentiments.

      • Pravoslavnie, you hit the nail right on the head.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I am not so sure that Russia’s recent attack on Georgia was for self-preservation. Recently, we saw its echo in the ridiculous arms-rattling by Medvedev over the deployment missile defenses in Russia’s periphery. We should remember that Georgia and Georgians predate Russia and Russians by centuries. Georgia was forcibly annexed to the “Holy Russia” in a naked power grab, proving once again that folks and nations who call themselves “holy” are not so at times. That said, I would not prefer the Turkish or any Muslim “turban” over any Russian or Orthodox crown. However, I am intrigued by Mr Frost’s hint that Putin, Medvedev and their ilk are not true Orthodox Christians. I have not looked into the Kremlin leadership for a couple of decades, but it seems to me that old habits die hard.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Francis Front writes:

      “If we must choose between the Turkish turban and the racist, atheist imperialists in the Kremlin, then by all means, let us have the turban.”

      Oh my, that I have lived long enough to read something like that!

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Fr Patrick, speaking as a Greek and with complete 20/20 hindsight, I think whichever of my ancestors said this was a fool. I guess I could understand how they would believe it 500+ years ago, with the memory of the 4th Crusade only 300 years old, but what lay in store was ghastly. Indeed, if I may be so bold as to make a prediction, the ghettoization and willing dhimmification of the ancient patriarchates means that they may go the way of Carthage, Hippo, Cyrene, etc. (Of course, I would love to be proven wrong.)

    • American Orthodox subjection to any foreign power, whether Greek, Russian, or Ottoman, would be unacceptable. It is not possible to serve two (political) masters, and we cannot be patriotic Americans and subject to a patriarch who is allied with any foreign government. Can you imagine any American becoming Orthodox knowing that they are putting themselves under authority to a foreign government. The mission of American Orthodoxy is to evangelize America, pure and simple. George rightly pointed out that there is nothing wrong with the faithful being patriotriotic to their own government, though there is something wrong with a citizen of one country being under a patriarch who is patriotic to a different country. The only way forward is for all American jurisdictions to put aside the power struggles and work towards a unified autocephalous American Orthodox church that treats all merging jurisdictions equally and respects all existing cultural differences.

      As for Russia, my biggest beef with them politically is their support for Iran, which is on purely expedient economic grounds. If there were such an award, Iran would be voted “most likely to start WW III.” The Iranian leader is on record as saying that he wants to annihilate Israel. He is someone who would welcome apocalyptic end of the world conflict in the name of his religion. For Russia to allow Iran to become a nuclear power in order to make a few shekels of silver in business dealings is unconscionable. The way this could play out is as follows. A nuclear Iran gives ultimatums to Israel that they won’t accept. Iran starts war with Israel. The US comes to the aid of Israel who has been attacked. China and Russia join forces with Iran in order to counter-balance American power. Voia – instant WW III. Anyone have an argument why this scenario couldn’t/wouldn’t play out?

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Ken writes:

        American Orthodox subjection to any foreign power, whether Greek, Russian, or Ottoman, would be unacceptable. It is not possible to serve two (political) masters, and we cannot be patriotic Americans and subject to a patriarch who is allied with any foreign government. Can you imagine any American becoming Orthodox knowing that they are putting themselves under authority to a foreign government. The mission of American Orthodoxy is to evangelize America, pure and simple.

        Yeah, just like those Roman Catholics being under the jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome. I just knew those darn Catholics were not true Americans. Thank you Ken for exposing their un-American activity. I am following your logic loud and clear.


        • But there is a difference. My understanding is that the Roman pontiff is actually not under any “government” except Vatican city itself, which means no secular government. Having said that, the last argument I would ever use is “Rome does it so it must be right.” In fact, from an Orthodox perspective, if we ever were to heal the schism between East and West, we would ideally want Rome to conform to territorial integrity. That would mean that American Catholics and Orthodox would probably not be under Rome, but under a single American jurisdiction (by the way, I’m not holding my breath for that to happen.) The greeks had it right when they founded the Russian church, allowed it to operate in its native tongue, and gave it independence.

          • Heracleides says

            Gave? *cough*cough* More like acquiesced.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Herc, you’re right. Autocephaly was taken, as it almost always is. But at least we Orthodox have the concept of autocephaly to begin with and I think that’s important. Even the neo-papalists within the Phanar can’t dispute this fact. Their slavish devotion to Canon 28 is mere throwing sand in our faces: “go on, walk on by, nothing to see here, pay no attention to that man behind the green curtain, Canon 28, you’re living among barbarians, yada, yada, yada…”

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              I wonder if the Patriarch of Moscow started making universalists claims, like the EP is doing under Canon 28, would the ROCOR or the OCA support him? I wonder.

              Also, the EP gets criticized for having parishes in America, but the MP does not get criticized for having parishes in America under his exclusive jurisdiction. Unless, of course, there is criticism, which if so I would love to be directed to it so I could read up on it. Don’t worry I know what the ROCOR says, I want to see the OCA’s criticisms of the MP for doing and having the same things in this country as the EP does.

              To follow up on Ken Miller’s point all those MP Russian Orthodox Parishes are under an “Old World” Patriarch and cannot be true Patriotic Americans either. Time to get the MP RO Christians out of America or have the FBI monitor their activities.

              So, until I see some even handedness, if feels like “Heeping On” the EP, and letting the MP skate free on alot of things with the MP doing alot of the same things or similar things as the EP. Take a look if you don’t believe me:

              As for the Russians TAKING autocephalacy, or the Greeks acquiescing I do not know the full history of this. Although history is seldom black and white as many purport it to be. Yet all I can say is if Russia’s actions were canonical then fine. If Russia’s actions were NOT canonical then why have the Canons at all. Is breaking the Canons is sometimes good? Don’t know, let’s ask the MP about that one.

              I will leave it to others to debate these matters, but given the time when this occurred it would be helpful to keep in mind the Power of Russia and the lack of power of the EP. The forcing of the Ukranians under Moscow’s jurisdiction as opposed to the that of the EP. (All Slavs need to be together right? Who cares where they, the Ukranians, were originally. Maybe the EP forcefully took them from Russia to begin with. I do not know).

              So I have seen and heared alot, and I mean ALOT of criticism of the EP, myself included, but not much, if any of the MP. Let’s even things out a little bit shall we? Thanks.

              Peter A. Papoutsis

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Peter, speaking for myself, I would castigate any patriarch –American or foreign–who started espousing universalist claims. As for the MP parishes, they should by rights belong to the OCA (even though if I were in one today I would fight to the last breath to prevent such a thing from happening, at least Stokovism is relegated to the dustbin).

                As for the Ukraine, I’ll continue being consistent. All nations should have completely territorial churches. Each with its own patriarch and/or metropolitan.

                Look, none of us want to deny the EP his prerogatives as primus inter pares. Heck, I willingly acknowledge the Pope as the real primus (when and if the Schism is healed). But that’s with the acknowledgment that autocephaly exists and it should be freely given when appropriate.

                And you’re right about us not really knowing how Russia was granted autocephaly, whether it was “taken” or “given.” Regardless, it was canonised by a council so it’s a done deal.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  What if the Tomos of Autocephalacy was to Moscow what the Canon 28 debacle is to Constantinople? Is the OCA truly authocephalist? Look at everything that happened with Met. Jonah. I just have this nagging felling that only the OCA believes in Autocephalcy, and not Moscow, and the only reason it was given by Moscow was for the same claims of territorial supremacy that the EP is making with Canon 28.

                  I just can’t shake the thought that Moscow and Constantinople are using us as pawns and I just do not like it. I hope I am wrong.


                  • Why was autocephaly given by Moscow?
                    One day, when all the main actors are dead, the full story will be written, I’m sure.

                    A big part of the price the Metropolia paid for autocephaly was allowing the Japanese Orthodox Church to go back under the omophorion of Moscow. During the post-War occupation the son of Metropolitan Theophilus (Pashkovsky), Boris Pash, was a high-ranking officer in the American occupation forces (later he would be in charge of very significant activities carried out by the CIA) who persuaded General MacArthur to place the Japanese church under the oversight of the Metropolia. Obviously this was quite a coup at the time as it certainly prevented the Russians from using the Japanese church as a cover for the KGB in Japan. By the way, the talents of a certain Japanese interpreter in the US Army, a Lieutenant Robert Royster, were employed in the ‘negotiations’ surrounding this coup.

                    Thirty years later the Metropolia agreed to cede control back to Moscow.

                    Cui bono?

                    For me, it’s always cast the OCA’s autocephaly in an unflattering light, and all the shenanigans since have done nothing to redeem that image.

                    • I was told that it was to protect the church in America from Communist infiltration and domination., but that doesn’t explain why the MP has so many representation churches in the US, as well as the Metropolia/OCA’s willingness to turn Japan over to Moscow.

                    • Basil, this is fascinating! To my mind, the transfer of the Japanese Orthodox Church to the omorphor of the Metropolia was a necessary consequence of our total victory over Japan. Having said that, I see nothing wrong with returning it to Moscow, especially now that Russia is a free republic. Of course, in time, it should be granted autocephaly.

                      Thought experiment: what would have happened if MacArthur and the young Lt Royster had importuned on the Emperor to convert to Orthodoxy? Might all of Japan have become Orthodox?

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Helga states:

                      I was told that it was to protect the church in America from Communist infiltration and domination., but that doesn’t explain why the MP has so many representation churches in the US, as well as the Metropolia/OCA’s willingness to turn Japan over to Moscow.

                      Good point. Very good point. Add this to the EP’s Canon 28 stance and we start to see a picture that many of us in American Orthodoxy may not like.


                  • Of course. All American jurisdictions are pawns to one extent or another.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      That’s why we need our own American Orthodox Church at some point.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says


                      Did you see this new little tidbit from the Church of England this past Sunday. Check it out:


                      Really, what is going on with them?


                    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                      And meanwhile, the new woman “bishop” at the National Cathedral right up the street from my church has big, ambitious plans to “shake” things up. I’m sure she’ll do a great job, just not the way she expects.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Peter, re “tidbit”: doom, gloom, cats and dogs living together. What a sad end to such a wonderful tradition.

                    • Lola, the Bad Vestments blog ripped on that “consecration” a few weeks ago. The link to an account of the service is not to be missed. Apparently, it was a catastrophe, even by low-church liberal Episcopalian standards.

                    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                      Helga . . . Cosmic Disapproval?

                      I still very well remember the atmosphere of +Jonah’s consecration – it was . . . different. There was quite a spirit of joy, but that’s not quite how to describe it, only that I could sense something different.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Helga–I am aghast at the goings on in the Episcopal Church of the USA. Just seeing women as priests and now bishops sets my teeth on edge. Reading the following account of Bishop Budde’s consecration should be required reading for anyone who is open to the idea of women priests/bishops. I think that the unnamed parishioner quoted in the article was right:

                      :Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori began the service with the declarations of the election of Budde (who was ordained by John Shelby Spong.) During the Litany for Ordination, the prayer was being read “For Katharine, our presiding Bishop, and for all bishops, priests, and deacons that they may be filled with your love…” when something seemed to fall upon the pipe organ keys hitting simultaneously about three octaves of notes, creating a tremendously large sound of dissonance, overwhelming all spoken words and creating a sound like something from a horror movie. Everyone quickly stopped speaking and looked at one another aghast. A woman sitting in the row behind me said, “What is the Spirit doing?”

                      Read the rest of the fiasco at

                    • Carl, thou dost protest way, way too much. You have already disowned the patristic principle against women as priests and bishops and declared yourself in favor of women as deacons — not deaconesses, but deacons. Nothing in your philosophy now stands against women as priests and bishops, except an old man’s reluctance to apply his revolutionary principles fully and follow his own arguments to their logical conclusion.

                    • “What is the Spirit [or, more accurately, spirit] doing?”

                      Laughing with glee and mockery at the utter stupidity of man, I suspect.

                    • Brian, whatever “spirit” was involved in that consecration has more in common with the spirit of the age than with the Holy Spirit.

                      Lola, I remember well what it felt like when we elected Metropolitan Jonah. I’d heard Met. Jonah’s speech on AFR before the election and had been totally stunned by it. The AFR podcast of the announcement of the election was really cool, too. When Vladyka Dmitri said they had elected “…Bishop Jonah of Fort Worth. Axios!” the responding “AXIOS!” from the assembly was so resounding and in unison, it almost knocked me off my chair. I don’t see how anybody could claim that the Holy Spirit was not there.

                      When I got the news that this little baby bishop had been elected Metropolitan, I and all my Orthodox friends were weeping from joy, laughing and calling each other to share the news. I was so excited I was even calling my non-Orthodox friends, who were understandably bewildered. It felt like how in the first Harry Potter book, how the wizards were so happy that Voldemort was defeated that they were celebrating with Muggles, even though the non-magic people had no idea about Voldemort in the first place.

              • I knew that the MP had its own parishes in America, but I never made Peter’s connection. Thanks!

                Now I wonder, with Abp. Justinian seated as an Officer of the Assembly – and the OCA not represented among them – it seems that the MP might be able to wield considerable power as to the shape of Orthodoxy here.

                … the EP gets criticized for having parishes in America, but the MP does not get criticized for having parishes in America under his exclusive jurisdiction… So, until I see some even handedness, if feels like “Heeping On” the EP, and letting the MP skate free on alot of things with the MP doing alot of the same things or similar things as the EP.

                Peter A. Papoutsis

                • Pravoslavnie says

                  As to their existence, there is a clear difference in the origins of the parishes under the EP and those under the MP in North America.

                  Orthodoxy was brought to North America by the Russian church and it ministered to Orthodox believers of all jurisdictions. The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought an end to the general acceptance by world Orthodoxy that North America was under the jurisdiction of the Russian church. The EP moved into North America mainly in response to the power vacuum.

                  The existence of the MP parishes has more to do with rivalry between different Russian church factions in the decades after the revolution. Their continued existence was a matter in the negotiations between the MP, the Metropolia, and the parishes of its North American exarchate in which the MP negotiated an opt-out from OCA for those MP parishes that wished to stay with Moscow. The MP otherwise agreed to dissolve it exarchate when it granted the Tomos of Autocephaly to OCA, and the remaining MP parishes became representational churches within OCA territorial jurisdiction. OCA also gained St. Catherine’s in Moscow as its representational church in Russia.

                  • RE The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought an end to the general acceptance by world Orthodoxy that North America was under the jurisdiction of the Russian church.

                    I thought that Matthew Namee’s 2009 presentation “The Myth of Unity and the Origins of Jurisdictional Pluralism in American Orthodoxy” showed that North America was NOT administratively united under Russian jurisdiction prior to 1917?

                    RE The MP otherwise agreed to dissolve it exarchate when it granted the Tomos of Autocephaly to OCA, and the remaining MP parishes became representational churches within OCA territorial jurisdiction.

                    To someone unfamiliar with the intricacies of Orthodoxy this sounds like a distinction without a difference, and it seems opposed to the Orthodox idea that there should only be one Church in a geographical region. Nevertheless, thanks for the brief summary.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      It’s the distinctions without a difference that makes one side feels its the good guy and the other the bad guy. Otherwise, this plesent fiction stops being…well..plesent.


                    • Pravoslavnie says

                      If I recall Namee’s thesis, he had trouble with the OCA’s presumed claim to territorial primacy in North America. I also recall he has been accused of picking and choosing facts, and ignoring inconvenient ones. I would agree with him though that there was no “golden age” of Orthodox jurisdictional unity, just the “facts on the ground” which the Russian mission in North America wins handily by a century. If the Russian mission had established itself east to west instead of vice-versa I think this would be beyond debate.

                      What are now most of the MP parishes, the OCA, and the Antiochian Archdiocese all have historical roots in the Russian mission in North America. Several other smaller Slavic jurisdictions maintaining toeholds, and even a couple of Greek parishes have a foundation in the Russian mission which ministered to all Orthodox who came knocking.

                      As far as distinctions, I view the MP representational parishes as basically “consulates” for the MP similar in nature to the OCA’s St. Catherine’s in Moscow. That’s a huge distinction. I don’t see anybody accusing the Patriarch of Moscow of trying to establish jurisdiction in North America or Met. Jonah trying to usurp Kyrill in Russia. The MP parishes are free to exit if they so choose, but the door swings only one way into OCA by the agreement preceding the Tomos.

                    • GregF, I pretty much demolished Namee’s thesis last year. His fault was the fault of all historical revisionists in that they reduce incidents to near non-entities. That’s why there’s a cottage industry for turning over accepted narratives. For example, I’ve seen people argue with a straight face that the Serbs didn’t lose at Kosovo back in 1389. Why? Because the Turkish sultan died in the battle and the Serbian kingdom didn’t come to a formal end until 80 years. To the Serbs of Kosovo though, they knew that they lost and were under Turkish rule. Other examples include Marxist historians stating that Sir William Wallace’s revolt against the English was an early example of a proletarian revolution a la Sparacus’ rebellion against the Roman Republic. The reality of course is that Wallace was from a knightly family, a conservative, Catholic, and upholder of the old, established order of Scottish governance.

                      So what did Namee get right? That there was no “jurisdictional unity” pre-1917. Unfortunately, that’s the wrong barometer. That’s because there were no jurisdictions before 1917 outside of the Russian Mission. That would be like saying that because there is no provision for an Air Force in the Constitution, then the Air Force is unconstitutional.

                      To be sure, there were independent ethnic churches before that time, and they existed in an uneasy tension with the Russian archbishops, but their foundation was slap-dash at best. And I’m being charitable. It was more like absolute chaos and anarchy outside the Russian Mission. While priests were sometimes sent from the Old Country (Serbia and Greece) no bishops were sent and when the issue of outright autonomy from the Russian Mission were raised, the Constantinopolitan and Serbian synods resolutely refused to countenance them.

                      Why? I guess because they recognized the primacy of Moscow.

                      If you’re interested in finding out more, my response to Namee is archived elsewhere on this blog.

                    • Monk James says

                      Geo Michalopulos says:
                      December 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm

                      ‘If you’re interested in finding out more, my response to Namee is archived elsewhere on this blog.’

                      Wonderful! But how to find it?

                      There are not only many ‘reply’ buttons lacking here,so replies often land in unexpected places, but it seems there’s no search engine.

                      I dearly hope that George Michalopoulos can fix these problems!

                    • Pravoslavnie and Geo Michalopulos,

                      Thanks for the additional insights.

                      Peter A. Papoutsis,

                      I don’t understand what you are saying.

                    • Monk James,

                      I believes this is the essay George is referring to:

                      The “Myth” of Unity: A Response to a 2009 Address Given at St Vladimir’s Seminary

                    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                      Monk James, there’s a Search form at the top of the page. Searching for “Myth Unity” brings up a list, of which the essay that GregF linked to is the 1st.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      What I am saying is that by Pravoslavnie making the distinction that the M p is simply having representative churches in America is simply a canard. That is just MHO.


                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      George–Spot on! I wonder if we could go a bit further and state the problem as “the existence of parishes on the American soil who commemorated not the existing diocesan bishop but bishops in far off lands or none at all.” In other words, from a technical point of view, the ethnic parishes were not ordinary Orthodox churches (to say the least) and their existence should not be taken into account in trying to show that not all Orthodox Christians were under the Russian Mission or later diocese. I know that this is a cold and may be overly technical position but it is important in the Church not to invent falsehoods in order to spare folks’ feelings. Those parishes who established ethnic churches apart from the existing diocese ought not be given undue credit in the history of canonical Orthodoxy on this Continent.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Monk James,

                      The search is an extended search (through Google) and works well. The search box is located at the top of the sidebar.

                      The threaded comments only allow only up to 10 levels deep. Once the limit it reached, the reply button disappears. This is a WordPress limitation.

                    • Monk James says

                      George Michalopulos says:
                      December 5, 2011 at 9:59 am
                      Monk James,

                      ‘The search is an extended search (through Google) and works well. The search box is located at the top of the sidebar.

                      The threaded comments only allow only up to 10 levels deep. Once the limit it reached, the reply button disappears. This is a WordPress limitation.’

                      My thanks to George Michalopulos for this post, and to GregF and to Lola J. Lee Beno for their kind assistance.

                      I missed the search box because of my poor eyesight, but I did finally get to read GM’s response to Matthew Namee, which I found very satisfying.

                      As it happened, I was in the room when MN delivered his paper to a very receptive audience, largely composed of SVS faculty, staff, students and fellow travelers.

                      While I have no little respect for MN’s scholarly efforts, I thought it was odd that the very russian-flavored/influenced assembly was so easily able to applaud the idea that the 18th-19th-centuries russian missionary efforts didn’t effectively constitute a north-american ecclesial administration — the fact that some non-russian clergy ignored it notwithstanding.

                      ALSO: The WordPress limitation on reply buttons needs to be fixed, as it creates confusion in our conversations.

                • Pravoslavnie says

                  Archbishop Justinian is basically an ambassador representing Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow in North America, and not his Viceroy. He has administrative responsibility for all the MP representational parishes in America. Abp. Justinian stands out simply because he has been a lot more active than his predecessor who didn’t seem to adapt well to the job.

                  • If I remember correctly, Bishop Mercurios had difficulty speaking and understanding English, so that may explain why he wasn’t as active as Archbishop Justinian.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              All the other Holy Sees had to recognize her autocephalacy so it is “Gave.” However, if you prefer TOOK even better. Why follow the Canons and proper canonical order if an Orthodox Church can just TAKE something it wants.

              I guess its the “Golden Rule.” He who has the Gold makes the Rules. Russia had it at the time and the rest of Orthodoxy, especially the EP did not. Go Russia Go!

              Love it.


          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Ken originally stated before he changed up his arguement was:

            It is not possible to serve two (political) masters, and we cannot be patriotic Americans and subject to a patriarch who is allied with any foreign government.

            Vatican City is a foreign government, a political government and a stand alone nation state just like any other country. So its NOT an American nation or entity. So by your definition American Catholics cannot be truly patriotic because of their allegiance to Rome and Vatican City.

            Now you argue that because its religious government (i.e. non-secular government) then its ok for American Catholics. They can be patriotic. So as long as the state is religious, according to you, its ok and American Christians can have their allegicance to that religious state AND America. Sooooo….If we have a Patriarch or Pope in Iran, because Iran is religious, it would be huncky-dory, right?

            Dude, I think your Protestantism and hyper-neo-con Patriotism is showing. No wonder JFK had to go talk to the Baptists back in the day, Sheesh!


            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Peter, that’s an interesting point. Ironically, one that may undergird the rightness of Orthodox ecclesiology as opposed to Catholic. The issue of divided loyalties for Catholics was one that plagued them for centuries. We Orthodox on the other hand have allowed native churches to grow organically and independently. The fact that there are no deviations in doctrine (and precious little in praxis) means that maybe we are guided by the Holy Spirit after all.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                No I agree with you. I just didn’t like my patriotism and that of others being questioned. That’s what I was getting at.


                • Peter, I for one would never question your patriotism. That’s the one thing I’ve never had to worry about Greek-Americans. My point was that for our leaders in the GOA, the question of divided loyalties are very real. Nnd let’s be honest, abasing themselves before Erdogan does not look good for the future. You and I and our sons are Americans and could be called up to serve in the Armed Forces (well, not me anymore but you get the point) and shed our collective blood. In the meantime, the neo-Ottomans in Ankara are going to use the offices of the GOA/Archons to try and steer America’s foreign policy to their favor. We’re the ones who are going to have to pay the price, not the hierarchy.

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    I agree that the GOA clerics should not have taken on Turkish citizenship nor should the GOA get cozy with Turkey.

                    The GOA and the Phanar are saying that its because Turkey will not allow any non-Turkish citizens to be an EP. Ok, take Turkey to the EU courts and force Turkey out of your personal religious affairs, or move the Holy See out of Turkey. I personally do not like that last option because I’m a stubborn SOB, but what else is the EP to do to preserve its internal religious and canonical authority?

                    I don’t know. What I do know its all about the EP preserving itself at all costs.


                    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                      Peter says, by way of hypothesis, “Ok, take Turkey to the EU courts and force Turkey out of your personal religious affairs, or move the Holy See out of Turkey.”

                      I hate to think what the Antiochian Archdiocese in the US would look like today if the Antiochian Patriarchate offices were in Turkey.

                      Whatever his ministry to the Orthodox Church, moving the Bishop of Istanbul out of Turkey to some neutral country would arguably improve it.

                    •  Peter A. Papoutsis says:
                      December 1, 2011 at 9:26 am
                      “move the Holy See out of Turkey”
                      “Holy See”???-That’s “Papal” terminolgy, isn’t it?

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      PdnNJ says:

                      “move the Holy See out of Turkey”
                      “Holy See”???-That’s “Papal” termenolgy, isn’t it?

                      From the website of the Ecumenical Patriarch: “The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the highest see and holiest center of the Orthodox Christian Church throughout the world.”

                      So its the HIGHEST and the HOLIEST see. Thank your for correcting me.


                    • Father Patrick
                      I am all for moving the Bishop of Istanbul out of Turkey as well as moving the Bishop of Damascus out of Syria..Lets call them as they really are.Constantinople and Antioch no longer exist.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Fr. Patrick,

                      A thought (and just a thought): Sometimes I wonder if moving the Patriarch of Constantinople out of Istanbul would compel a return to the centrality of the Gospel. If all is lost (and it would be), what is left except Christ and the apostolic word?

                      It’s a hard call because history is important, and the Patriarch of Constantinople still exists as a historical marker of sorts. Perhaps though, this would still exist even if the Patriarch had to move. I don’t really know.

                      Still, I wonder if it would work the same way it does individually, loss and hardship burn away illusions and leaves a man (if he remains faithful) with a deeper comprehension of and communion with Christ.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says


                      Istanbul comes from the Greek steen polee – “the city.” Replace the p with the turkish hard b and it becomes steen-bulee – Istanbul (e-steen-bulee).

                      If you live near New York and plan on going into the city you don’t say, “I am going to New York City,” you say, “I am going to the city.” Istanbul is “the city.”

                      Next question then is, “What city?” “The city of Constantine of course.”

                      One other thing. There are lot of Christians in Istanbul, but very few are Greeks. They are vastly outnumbered by Russians and Armenians (although Armenians have their own Patriarch of course), and also Roman Catholics. If the Patriarch of Constantinople is anything, he is Chief Shepherd of the Orthodox Christians of Turkey.

                      This contradicts somewhat my post to Fr. Patrick above, but that one was just thinking out loud. This one is linguistic and sociological fact.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Peter, Fr Patrick, et al: I’ve changed my mind on bishops and their dioceses. I think that as long as there are Christians living there they should remain there, even if the conditions are less than salubrious. What to do about successors then (if they must be Turkish citizens)? Then gather the larger cohort of Christians living there and solidify them in the Faith. Even if we look at the worst-case scenario, i.e. less than 20,000 Christians living in Istanbul (3,000 Greeks plus others), that’s still more than enough to draw upon for future priests and bishops. (According to Alexi Krindatch, there are 1.2 million “Eastern” Christians in the US alone, spread out over 22 jurisdictions. That includes Coptics, Armenians, Nestorians, etc., with whom none of the SCOBA jurisdictions are in communion with.)

                      No need to go out of the country to America, Australia, England, etc. and expand the pool there. Especially if the Christian contingent in Istabul is growing, ever so slightly.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      I agree George that the Ecumenical Patriarch should stay in Constantinople ( if some want to call it Istanbul you do so not me). I would only want him to leave if the very existence of the Patriarchate were directly threatened. Currently, I do not see that.

                      Further, the Russians acknowledge the EP as the Ecumenical Patriarch and recognize his Primacy of Honor.. To do otherwise would threaten their own canonical titles and canonical territorial claims. I can see the Georgian Orthodox disrespecting the MP as many here disrespect the EP.

                      If I may just say, to disagree with someone, or even an institution’s stance on certain issues, as George knows my criticism of the EP, does not mean to be disrespectful of or to the man and institution.

                      I personally met the EP with my wife in 2006, and I was personally impressed with his personal humility and sincerity. Now that does not take away my criticisms, but It does mean that I am talking about a man and an institution that has done alot to protect and preserve Orthodoxy at great costs.

                      Finally, Turks and Muslims have done enough to Orthodoxy, especially to the EP. Let’s criticize and disagree, but let’s not attack and let’s not disrespect. I would also say the same thing to the MP because of his struggles with communism and to keep the light of Christ alive and lit in Russia.

                      What both have gone through, al least, deserves our respect if not our agreement. That’s all I have to say. Now back to our regularly scheduled programmings.


                    • Jane Rachel says

                      These conversations are INTERESTING!! Thanks to all.

                    • Monk James says

                      Peter A. Papoutsis says:
                      December 1, 2011 at 9:26 am
                      “move the Holy See out of Turkey”
                      “Holy See”???-That’s “Papal” terminology, isn’t it?

                      It’s actually british based on a latin form. Sedes is the latin word for ‘chair’ just as kathedra is the greek word, both used in association with the principal church/city of an eparchy (the orthodox word for ‘diocese’).

                      As happened in most romance languages, the latin ablative, probaby because it was used so much with prepositions, became the form underlying words which became common in european usage. This is what occurred with sedis (ablative sede).

                      The Brits are notoriously immune to pronouncing foreign words with anything like their original sounds, so the pronunciation of latin sede eventually sounded identical to english ‘seed’. Laziness and long vowels being what they are, the ‘d’ became silent and the orthography evolved to ‘see’.

                      Still, it’s not an appropriate word for us to use in English. Orthodox usage might not want to accommodate kathedra too widely (what will we do with ‘cathedral’, then?) but we can certainly say ‘chair’ or better, ‘throne’.


                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      ablative: Of, relating to, or being a grammatical case indicating separation, direction away from, sometimes manner or agency, and the object of certain verbs. It is found in Latin and other Indo-European languages.

                      I had to look it up too. 🙂

                      Very interesting post, BTW.

                    • Monk James says

                      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:
                      December 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm
                      ‘Istanbul comes from the Greek steen polee – “the city.” Replace the p with the turkish hard b and it becomes steen-bulee – Istanbul (e-steen-bulee).’

                      People keep saying this, but I disagree. As noted here, greek usage reduced eis to ‘s. So, instead of using the older form eis tEn polin, more modern parlance has stEn poli.. On that much, I agree with Fr Hans Jacobse.

                      But I really don’t think that this change in Greek explains ‘Istanbul’ in spite of an allophonic or metathetic p/b consideration.

                      Consider a few other greek words in turkish form: Nikaia -> Iznik, Smyrna -> Izmir, Alexandros -> Iskandar, ktl.

                      Clearly, there’s no hint of an eis in any of these words, merely Turkish’s attempts to assimilate greek words in accordance with its own (Turkish’s) phonemic rules.

                      And that, I think, is the process which produced ‘Istanbul’ rather than a corruption of the phrase stEn poli..

                      FrHJ also writes:
                      ‘If you live near New York and plan on going into the city you don’t say, “I am going to New York City,” you say, “I am going to the city.” Istanbul is “the city.” ‘

                      I was born in Hoboken NJ in the Port of New York City, at sea level but on the west bank. Before leaving the NYC area when I was 24, I ONCE (as I recall) heard a friend from a couple of counties inland speak of ‘going into the city’ and I thought it was odd, since the rest of us commonly said that we were ‘going to New York’ when we meant crossing the Hudson to get into Manhattan.

                      After being away from here for a while (1971-1994) I’m back, living not ten miles from where I was born (you can see the NYC skyline from here) and we still speak as I described, but our vowels have gone a little higher, especially a stressed a.

                      Well, anyway, that’s neither here nor there wrt Constantinople/Istanbul, but I thought it was interesting….

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Peter, you’re absolutely right. My family and I met His Holiness in 2000 and had a wonderful time. I was truly touched by his humility as well. I know I’ve sounded harsh and I beg his forgiveness but like you, I mean no disrespect to the man or the office. Like you I believe in the primacy of honor. Where the difficulty lies is in the supremacist claims.

                      My heart is actually broken because of the tragedy of it all. Had Ligonier been allowed to proceed, we might very well have had a united American Orthodox Church, autocephalous, local and territorial. And our ties to C’pole would have been ones of love and far stronger than they are now. The last 17 years have seen nothing but rancor and spite. It was all so unnecessary.

                    • Monk James, I’ll grant a linguistic reason for adding an “i” to Smyrna (Izmir), Sper (Ispir), and Stamboul (Istanbul). But why add “iz” to Nicaea (Iznik) and Nicomedia (Izmit) but not to Neocaesarea (Niksar)? Something else seems to be at work. Istanbul, Iskenderun, Izmir, Iznik, and Izmit were all major seaports. To get to Nicaea, for example, you went down to the docks and called out in Greek for a boat eis Nikaian. This would also explain why the port of Amisus became Samsun. Hardly any inland towns in Turkey add an “i.” I can only find Ispir and Isparta (Baris).

                    • Monk James says

                      Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:
                      December 3, 2011 at 8:13 pm
                      ‘Monk James, I’ll grant a linguistic reason for adding an “i” to Smyrna (Izmir), Sper (Ispir), and Stamboul (Istanbul). But why add “iz” to Nicaea (Iznik) and Nicomedia (Izmit) but not to Neocaesarea (Niksar)? Something else seems to be at work. Istanbul, Iskenderun, Izmir, Iznik, and Izmit were all major seaports. To get to Nicaea, for example, you went down to the docks and called out in Greek for a boat eis Nikaian. This would also explain why the port of Amisus became Samsun. Hardly any inland towns in Turkey add an “i.” I can only find Ispir and Isparta (Baris).’

                      While I can comfortably concede a possible fragment of greek eis in turkish place names, we’re still left with the problem of personal names and other nouns.

                      Rather than seeking greek explanations, such questions are better resolved by examining languages related to Turkish, which is ultimately an asian tongue. While largely extinct in the Far East because of westward emigration on campaigns of conquest, these originally (altaic/tatar/mongolian?) dialects (modern Azerbayjani, e.g.) are still spoken in Central Asia, and are so closely related to each other that they are mutually intelligible and not at all far from Turkish.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      How rude and self-centered! George gave us a very thoughtful and even provocative (of thought) comment on current ecclesiastical politics of the Phanar and the GOA, but Francis Frost has to clamber up on his tired old high-nag and canter feebly in to attack his old favorite bogeymen.
      George’s article was SO interesting and informative. It’s so true that the GOA, like all the overseas arms of the Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul, has to plot its eccesiastical course between the Scylla and Charybdis of the Greek Foreign Office and its Turkish opposite number. There are no Turkish turbans or fezzes for almost a century now. A big advantage of an alliance with the Russian Church is that the Russian Church and government throw money at all their foreign dependencies: it’s just the opposite of the Greek situation, where the main obligation to “HQs” is CASH.
      Of course both Archbishop Iakovos (Exarch of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans) and Archishop Spyridon had numbers done on them no less shameful than the number being done on Metropolitan Jonah. How awful the truth that the main “edge” the OCA leadership has is “at least we’re doing this to ourselves and no foreign instances are doing it!” Is that an edge, though, or is it a death rattle?

  10. Heracleides says

    “If we must choose between the Turkish turban and the racist, atheist imperialists in the Kremlin, then by all means, let us have the turban.”

    Thanks, but no thanks.

  11. Tim of Angle says

    A non-Orthodox friend once asked me, ‘Why do all your priests look like foreigners?’ I had to answer that, mentally, most of them are.

  12. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    I think about a prophecy, which my Greek friend told me, that was made by an elder (from Mt. Athos?) that Hagia Sophia would be returned to the Orthodox Christians via Russia. I don’t know if there is really such a prophecy, but it certainly has some plausibility.

    • There’s a saying in Greek, “πάλι με χρόνια και καιρούς πάλι δικιά μας θα ‘ναι,” which translates “again with years (time) and work, again, it will be ours,” referring to the city of Istanbul (Constantinople), including Hagia Sophia.

      This sort of thing is part of Greek culture and history, so no wonder it is hard to let go of. Even today, Greeks do not refer to the city as Istanbul (even though that word itself is a corruption of the Greek words “to the city,” which the Turks used to hear the Greeks saying where they were going), but as Constantinople.

      I think this carries over into the inflated importance of the E.P. in Istanbul — Greek efforts to lift him up as a sort of Orthodox counterpart to the Roman Pope does not reflect modern realities.

      Of course, it’s so unlikely that Istanbul will be Greek again anytime in the next few centuries, though I suppose stranger things have happened.

      If it happens via the Russians, that sure would be interesting.

      But I sure do agree with you George — the GOA seems to value supporting and advancing Greek culture over evangelizing Orthodoxy. In their defense, I think a lot of Greeks view them as one in the same, but that is so short-sighted. It goes without saying that one need not become culturally Greek or Russian or Serbian or whatever to become Orthodox.

      Blessings during this Advent season.

      • LV says:
        December 2, 2011 at 11:14 am
        “There’s a saying in Greek, “πάλι με χρόνια και καιρούς πάλι δικιά μας θα ‘ναι,” which translates “again with years (time) and work, again, it will be ours,” referring to the city of Istanbul (Constantinople), including Hagia Sophia.
        This sort of thing is part of Greek culture and history,”
        Anyone else notice the similarity of that thinking with the thinking of the Jews about Jerusalem and the Temple Mount?

        (Sidenote: My father was wounded in the war in 1922 when the Greek army tried to recapture Constantinople/Istanbul from the Turks.)

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Both of my grandfathers fought in that same campaign. I never knew my paternal grandfather but my mother’s father would talk about “being within sight of the Walls…” and then he’d get teary-eyed.

    • There are quite a few prophecies regarding the return of Constantinople to the Greeks via the Russians. St Kosmas Aitolos (from various attempts at trying to understand his prophecies) stated that the Russians would defeat Turkey and that one third of the Turks would die, one third would return to their Greek Orthodox roots, and one third would return to Turkeyland in Asia someplace. A more recent elder, Joseph of Vatopedi said essentially the same thing and there were others as well. St Kosmas said that the Russians would take Constantinople, not know what to do with it and thus return it to the Greeks. In the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878, the Russian army was within 10 miles of the City with no way the Turks could stop them, but the British and French friends of the Turks threatened Russia with war if they took the City. The Russians stopped at that point; the British and French thereby showed their true colors, they were afraid of the growing power of Russia. The British public went along with the politicians and there was an interesting chorus to a popular pub song of the day,

      We don’t want to fight but by Jingo if we do
      We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, we’ve got the money too
      We’ve fought the Bear before, and while we’re Britons true

      The Russians shall not have Constantinople

      The term ‘by jingo’, in this case was an alteration, a substitute for ‘by Jesus.’ The Free Dictionary defines jingo as: “One who vociferously supports one’s country, especially one who supports a belligerent foreign policy; a chauvinistic patriot.” And it is difficult for one living in this modern age to understand why the British public preferred Turkey ruling over the ancient city of Constantinople rather than Russia.

  13. cynthia curran says

    Well, I do like the fact that Hagia Sophia is a museum and lots of people get to marble at its architectural achievements. With the restoration of the mosaics thousands of people get to see the spiritual side of the Byzantine empire. I think as a museum it can influence people more around the world than if it was restored as a church. Just my opinion on the subject. Yes, there is a Russian district in Turkey, a lot of Russians came since they thought employment is better in Turkey and Turkey is poorer than Greece.

  14. Sorry George, I can’t see how to make this comment appear under yours – the ‘Reply’ buttons have disappeared!

    ‘Nothing wrong with the Metropolia placing the Japanese Orthodox Church under Moscow’s omophor’?
    Not from a strictly canonical perspective, I suppose; but very little that happens in world Orthodox is done from a ‘strictly canonical perspective’! One must remember this was at the height of the Cold War when the MP was subservient to the Communists – who were still persecuting Orthodox and other Christians – and was being used as an agent of Soviet foreign policy. The Metropolia’s actions would undoubtedly have given succour to the enemies of Christ’s church. This is one matter where the ROCOR was correct, imv.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      But the Metropolia was effectively autocephalous at the time. 1970 was the canonization of the Metropolia’s de facto independence.

  15. cynthia curran says

    Russia history is complex as mention and some of these countries have belong sometimes to Russia in their history. However, even without these countries Russia is still huge in land mass compared to a lot of Western European countries which are small but a lot more wealthier. So, size has little to do with wealth. In fact a east coast state like New Hampshire has a higher average income than either California or Texas that have some very poor Hispanic regions like the Central Valley in Ca or the Southern Border area like Texas. In fact, with a lot more other minorities like Latin Americans and Asians both Texas and California have more minorities than Southern states do where the population is still mainly white and black. Basically, the argument is Russia like the old Byzantine Empire has a right to go to war with a former province since it once was apart of it. In case of the Byzantines, Italy was a very complex situation since not all the Western Romans wanted to be ruled by Constantinople and some preferred the Barbarians since the Taxes were cheaper with the Germans.. Probably, Georgia and the Ukraine and other ex-states have different feelings about being apart of Russia.

  16. Peter A. Papoutsis says:
    December 2, 2011 at 5:23 pm
    “From the website of the Ecumenical Patriarch: “The Ecumenical Patriarchate is the highest see and holiest center of the Orthodox Christian Church throughout the world.””
    Oh my! what do you think the other, non-Greek Patriarchs think about that assertion?
    “First Among Equals” for sure; But “highest” and holiest”-???

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

      The answer to your question lies in how the other Patriarchs address him. The Russians for example refer to him only as the Patriarch of Constantinople. See:

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        I know, but if push came to shove even the Russians would use the dreaded word ECUMENICAL Patriarch. Because even they know that disrespect cuts both ways, and can turn on them very quickly, especially as it concerns Orthodox Churhes in its sheer of alleged control. We should not play either the EP’s propaganda nor that of the MP


        • I must admit ignorance in that I don’t really know what the title “Ecumenical Patriarch” really means/implies today, and even what it meant/implied in the time of the Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”) empire. Can anyone summarize it for me?

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Ecumenical meaning he is the first among equals in the entire Orthodox world (ecumene -whole world). Primacy of Honor not Supremecy of authority.


            • My gut feeling is that it’s probably a lot more complicated than simply that. (But then, maybe not.)

              • George Michalopulos says

                Actually, “ecumene” in ancient times meant the cultivated world of the ancient Hellenosphere. In the early Byzantine Empire it meant the “imperial this” or “imperial that.” Like what “federal” means today in the US.

                How do we know? Because John IV Nesteutes, the first Archbishop of Constantinople who used this term was brought to task for this by Pope Gregory the Great. He explained that it did not mean universalis but was distinctive to the “ecumenical city,” in which there was an “ecumenical library,” etc.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Yeah, Rome was harboring it’s own universalists claims that developed over time. Didn’t want competition. (heh, heh. Tongue firmly planted in cheek). Gotta love this Church politics business. Makes for good Kabouki theater. Oh well.


                  • George Michalopulos says

                    To be fair to Gregory, he said that even he himself as Pope was not a patriarcha universalis. In other words, had he been alive during the the MIddle Ages when the universal papacy became predominant he would have repudiated it. He and his immediate successors were more than content with the concept of primacy of honor, not universal supremacy.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      George, I just read your response to “The Myth of Unity.” Very well done and informative, and full of historical information that I did not know. However, I have a question:

                      1. Are you basing Moscow’s jurisidctional primacy, and now that of the OCA, on the Russian Orthodox’s jurisdictional claims to America because they were in Alaska and on the West Coast?

                      2. If so, what about the Greek colony in St. Augustine, Florida? The Greeks were on the American continent before the Russians?

                      Let me know.



                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Peter, thank you for asking. I do not make my argument on Alaska alone but on the fact that the other old world patriarchates, Constantinople included, accepted Moscow’s primacy. Indeed, as has been pointed out, not only were Greek priests ordained and serving in RM parishes, but the EP himself resolutely refused to send a Constintinopolitan bishop when asked by some Greek parishes. He had no problem with a Greek bishop per se, but one preferably educated at a Russian seminary.

                      As for the New Smyrna colonoy, two problems stand out: those Greeks appear to have been Uniates, second, there was no mention of a Greek priest of any kind nor any concern from C’pole for these colonists, and third, the colony died out.

                      To be fair to Namee, I believe he looks at the mess that was Orthodoxy immigration and conclude that it was ecclesiologically elegant. It was not. And certainly, the fact that America had no patriarchate lends credence to his argument but only up to a point.

                      It’s hard to say what would have happened had the 1917 Revolution not happened. If I had to guess, I’d say that the parallel jurisdictions would have happened anyway simply because of our Serb/Greek/Bulgar/C-R/Uke/etc.. cussedness. In this sense, Namee is right but the problem is that neither case describes anything canonical.

                      Let’s develop this further: should a seperate jurisdiction be opened in Istanbul for Russians, especially now that they outnumber the Greeks? If not, why not? I would be against it because it’s against the good order of the Church. Plus, even though there is a patriarchate in Turkey, there is no way that we can confuse Turkey with being a “patriarchate,” that is to say a Christian land. The US throughout its history was at least a Christian land.

                • George Michalopulos says:
                  December 4, 2011 at 7:16 pm
                  “Actually, “ecumene” in ancient times meant the cultivated world of the ancient Hellenosphere.”
                  That is my understanding of it, too, with the “Hellenosphere” being the territory ruled by the Roman empire which, in reality, no longer exists.

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  You are right of course, but today “ecumenical” means something much more than it did at that very distant past. Constantinople has been pushing hard to be considered the equivalent of Rome and has taken all possible steps to change “ecumenical’ to mean “universal.” What else can we conclude from the positions She has taken in pan-Orthodox and Inter-Christian meetings, the novel interpretation of Canon 28, and Her use or encouragement of the following terminology: “The Ecumenical Patriarch is the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians,” “All Holy____,” “the highest see and holiest center of the Orthodox Christian Church throughout the world”?

  17. George,

    Reflecting on the numerous comments about your “Response” I don’t know that I would agree that Namee’s thesis is “pretty much demolished.” I am, however, glad to have – through your fine efforts on that essay – the opportunity to consider a different point of view.

    Comments on “A Response…” to “The ‘Myth’ of Unity…”

  18. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    I Got my in regards to St. Augustine, Florida and New Smyrna answer:

    “to say that this place is a landmark for American Orthodox history is misleading. The New Smyrnans did not have an Orthodox priest. They didn’t start an Orthodox parish. Their descendants didn’t go on to make a mark on the later history of Orthodoxy (or Hellenism) in America. The colony is an interesting story, and when that story is told well, it can be riveting. But as far as American Orthodox history goes, it’s largely irrelevant. It can’t be even remotely compared with the Russian fur traders in Alaska, since those traders kept their Orthodox faith, converted native Alaskans, and directly laid the groundwork for future Alaskan Orthodoxy. The New Smyrna Greeks didn’t lay the groundwork for Orthodoxy in America. They are people who happened to be Orthodox.
    As my posted comment and source shows, they weren’t (except for a Demetrios Fundulakis) even that. As Namee sums up “I say that New Smyrna means next to nothing for American Orthodox history…New Smyrna, while interesting, is not a significant landmark in American Orthodox history” (adding “I don’t mean to disparage Greek Americans, the Greek Archdiocese, or the St. Photios Shrine, which I would love to visit one day.” I’ve been, btw, twice to New Smyrna and St. Augustine and recommend the trip). The independent parishes on which Namee is basing his narrative led to nowhere but results that the Russian Archdiocese, the Metropolia, OCA, Chief Secretary Elpidophoros and Chambesy (and Ligonier) are unanimous in decrying. Simply put, the Russian Mission had what Chambesy calls for, internal administrative unity canonical in all its particulars. If that is achieved in North America, it will come from the ongoing and continous influence of that Russian Mission, as the heritage of oxymoronic Orthodox congregationalists is a burden which, as Met. Philip warned, if we do “not bury [such] burdens of the past between certain autocephalous churches, such burdens will bury us, and Orthodoxy in this country and throughout the world will become an insignificant dot on the margin of history.”

    So basically the Greeks pooh-pooh the Russians and the Russians Pooh-pooh the Greeks. It seems there is alot of Pooh-Pooh flying and laying around. Watch your step boys and girls its a little messy.

    Although as a Floridian to say that Greeks didn’t make a mark in Florida is absured. The Greeks got there first, but because they didn’t “establish” a permanent Orthodox presence that wasn’t good enough. Yet what do you mean by “established?” as a lawyer I take little ambiguous workds like that that people think they know what they mean, but really don’t. Also, if you say “Well, that’s not what the Canons say.” “Really?” what Orthodox Ecclesiastical Court gets to decide?

    Wait! I Got it! The EP is the final arbitrator where churches have disputes like this, so let the EP decide. Oh, Wait…? Scratch that lets go to the MP he will be impar….oh, wait? This sucks.