Vatopedi and the Failure of Orthodox Leadership

According to The National Herald, Fr Ephraim, the abbot of the Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos was arrested in connection with a land-swap deal that allegedly netted the monastery several millions of dollars (see: Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds). It is unclear whether any laws were actually broken given the fact that many both here and abroad made millions with the buying and selling of real property. That being said, the “optics” of monks being engaged in financial dealings do not make for a pretty picture –at least on a superficial level. Given that such deals helped create a housing bubble which precipitated the current financial crisis is problematic. On the other hand, no one can say for sure whether the economic straights that the Greek government finds itself in is not driving the arrest of Abbot Ephraim. And let’s not forget that the European Union has long wanted to open up Mount Athos to tourism.

Our concern here at Monomakhos is not the adjudication of this affair, as it will take years for the wheels of justice to grind. Instead, it is the fact that no one throughout the Orthodox world has spoken about the arrest of the Abbot. No one that is except for the Russian government. This is curious. No one at the Phanar, no one in the GOA, none of the Archons, not even the Church of Greece has seen fit to protest the arrest and jailing of Abbot Ephraim. (Are we to assume that he was a danger to himself or his fellows, or that he presented a flight risk?)

Why Russia? There is no way of course that spokesmen of one sovereign government can (or should) solve the legal problems of another sovereign government. That’s not the point. A sister Church however can be concerned with the actions of another sister Church. And given that the two other sister Churches involved (Greece and Constantinople) are mute on this issue leaves a vacuum that Russia is all too emboldened to fill.

Let us not forget that the protector of Mount Athos is the Patriarch of Constantinople. It is in his jurisdiction, not Russia’s. All monasteries commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch in all their services, whether they are Bulgarian, Georgian, Greek, Russian or Serbian. Is it not therefore incumbent on the Phanar to adjudicate this matter? Where are the ostensible “protectors” of the Patriarchate of Constantinople–the Knights of St Andrew–on this matter? Why their silence?

The Russian Orthodox Church for its part is observing the correct protocols in that it has not weighed in on the recent arrest. One can’t help but wonder though if the Russian government is acting as a proxy for His Holiness +Kirill in this matter. If so, then it is possible that in time the Patriarch of Moscow will intercede in this matter, especially if the Greek-speaking Churches continue to remain mute.

One thing for sure: 2012 will prove to be an interesting year.


  1. My guess on this matter is that the greek government is slowly turning on the Church to establish it as scapegoat for the anger of the people given the economic chaos in Greece. Now since the EP is a recipient of Greek government subsidies there is no way the EP will say a thing less the socialists hold up their monthly check. The same holds true more of less for the GOA….

    This case also is a stark reminder how omogenia does indeed come before Orthodoxy in the Greek world. It also reminds us who Greek Orthodox leaders serve.

    • charlie patseas says

      We need to convert Greek churches to Latin speaking because all the Yuvrey who were born in Greece and pretended to convert under Mussolini come to practice their Greek and all the Slavs come trying to make us Tsarvrey. Why do you think the Russian letters for Tz and Sh are identical with the Hebrew? If the Greeks were such nationalists, why do they allow Southern Italy to call itself Magna Grece ( Because the Greeks know the Slavs are all coming from being Yuvrey with all their crazy bubble studies and fasting and stuff. We all want to be diverse, parochial, feudal and belong to the land and no Tsarvrey universalist globalizations. That is why we all marry Catholic Italian and stay away from Slav churches.

  2. “Why Russia”? Nothing to do with the recent (very nicely timed) visit of the “Belt of the Mother of God” to Russia, courtesy Vatopedi monastery, I’m sure. They don’t call such politics “Byzantine” for nothing, folks. Pardon my cynicism, but as Montaigne noted, supercelestial thoughts and subterranean conduct are often found to be in singular accord.

  3. Geo Michalopulos says

    Andrew, thanks for fleshing this out. Interesting repercussions that I hadn’t taken into consideration.

    Basil, I’m sure the link between Vatopedi and the ROC re the Belt of the Theotokos is part of this –but only up to a point. I’m thinking that the Russian gov’t would have said something irregardless of whether the Belt of the Theotokos made its way to Russia or not. We can’t ever forget that nature abhors a vacuum and as Andrew pointed out, there is most definitely a vacuum in leadership in Orthodoxy. Moscow would be fools to not step in and take advantage of it.

    You know, I’ve been concerned about how Antioch is a hostage of Assad and the Phanar a hostage of Ankara. But it’s more complicated than that. As Andrew pointed out, the Phanar is also a hostage of the Greek government. The question to my mind is: why are Greek-Americans hostage to both Greek and Turkish governments? And given the collapse of Greece, which government will be the ultimate winner?

    Food for thought at the next Knights of St Andrew banquet.

  4. Is it possible that no one in Orthodoxy has spoken out because Fr. Ephraim might actually be guilty? Thus, the Church of Greece and the EP might want to know what evidence there is before they take a stand.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      GregF, he may very well be guilty. That was not the point of my posting. My point was simply should a senior abbott be manhandled so brusquely? Could he not have been confined to his cell? This man is no danger to anybody and he wasn’t a flight risk. Compare his treatment with that of the two Old-Calenderist bishops in Astoria, Paissios and Vincent. Both of these men were charged with far worse crimes –pedophilia, sex-trafficing, embezzlement of church funds, and general debauchery. Federal crimes here in the States. Yet what did the Phanar do first thing out of the shoot? Try to get them the hell out of Dodge post-haste. Vincent was going to be sent to Imbros until a there was a public outcry. Paissios has been confined to a monastery on the island of Patmos. As of now, both have escaped justice here in America.

      • Good points, George.
        I think Andrew’s speculations are a bridge too far though.
        The church is feeding many Greeks who are feeling the pinch of the austerity measures, so I don’t think the government will get much traction out of attacking it. I really think this is yet another case of monks behaving badly.

        • Basil, you have a point but lets also consider the fact that the Greek government wants money bad and the Church’s assets are not taxed as other assets are in Greece. Western media as run this story a few times and speculated its time to tax the Church. What better way to gin up sympathy for the “tax the Church” argument than to trot out alleged corrupt monks etc etc. Its a divide and conquer strategy.

          Also if you ask me the visit of the Belt of the Theotokos to Russia undoubtedly generated a lot of “gifts of love” and revenue for the Church in Russia. No doubt many of the pilgrims who came out also opened their wallets even if it was in a small a limited capacity. No doubt there are people who covet this. Imagine the revenue stream if Mt. Athos is opened to everyone. It would be a ecclesiastical cash cow and center of religious tourism. that would rival places like Fatima and Lourdes. Catholic tourism alone would be bring in huge sums of money with certain folks getting their tribute payments….oh excuse me I mean “gifts of love”.

          • Perhap’s you’re right after all, Andrew.
            We will watch with interest what happens next.

          • Per interview with Metropolitan Nikolai of Lavreot, the money collected during the visit have already been given to the government (~120 mln euros). Not sure it’ll be enough to fill in the debt gap .. (smile) but to me it’s another sign that the church is not standing by. BTW, Geronda did not sign the transfer documents on his own, where are all the government folks that signed it along with him (about 40 (!) of them)?.
            On a more serious note – it does remind me of how the Soviets acted in the 30s during the hunger — asked for valuables from the church to feed the hungry, complained they didn’t give enough (“just look at those chalices! who cares they are consecrated!) and used it as an excuse to start the persecution.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              EAP, excellent use of history! The State causes the crisis then blames the Church.

    • If he is guilty, then why didn’t Constantinople put a stop to it once they got wind of it?

      • George Michalopulos says

        Good question. And who authorized the “60 Minutes” story? Vatopedi didn’t, they don’t have the authority. Permission came right from the Phanar. Which opens up another hornet’s nest. Did they authorize the original landswaps? And if so, are they throwing Ephraim under the bus?

        Inquiring minds want to know.

  5. ProPravoslavie says

    If the reports on the Greek-language Church news agency — known for its Russophilia — are any indication, numerous hierarchs of the Church of Greece, including Archbishop Ieronymos, have protested the arrest.

    Interestingly, the fanatically pro-Fanar Church news agency is spending more time attacking Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate for their stance on Abbot Ephrem.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Your first paragraph is interesting. was it who “broke” the story of +Jonah’s “resignation” before the Holy Synod had even ended its session back in Feb.

      The info in your second paragraph is par for the course I imagine. Still, what must a Greek priest feel like right now knowing that the CoG is more interested in going after Ephraim’s defenders.

  6. A complex situation, to be sure.

  7. Those concerned that Geronda Ephrem may in fact be guilty should take note of a very exhaustive investigative report in “Vanity Fair,” by an author (MIchael Lewis) who has a strong background in finance and economics and who is clearly not a booster for monasticism in general, or Mt Athos in particular. Despite how odd monastic life appears to him, he ends up admiring the monks and concluding that their only “crime” was being the shrewdest businessmen in Greece. Here is the link for the article:

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Thank you Seraphim–The Vanity Fair article is the main reason why I think that the authorities, not having a case against government officials, are persecuting Abbot Ephraim for political reasons. There is no evidence that the land deals profited anybody personally, although the monastery certainly did well. Also pleasenote that Abbot Ephraim may need medical attention which is not available on Mount Athos. BTW, I understand that at least four Metropolitans in Northern Greece have protested the government’s action.

  8. See, for commentary by the Russian Patriarchate.

  9. See for comments by the Russian Patriarchate.

  10. Pringlesnap says

    Would it not be wise and prudent for all concerned (including even the Moscow Patriarchate) to leave the Greek Courts, which ordered the detention of the Abbot, to come to their own decisions?

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Not necessarily. For one thing, we were always told that the Holy Mountain was an autonomous republic under the sovererignty of Constantinople. If so, then what right does Athens have in this matter? wouth they not have to initiate extradition proceedings in order to detain this monk?

      also, the optics of government officials arresting clergymen cuts too close to the bone for those who suffered under Communism.

      • George, really!
        Constantinople has not been “sovereign” of anything since 1453.
        All Athonite monks today are required to be citizens of the Greek Republic.
        Thus the alleged offences were committed by a Greek citizen within the jurisdiction of that Republic and involved some of its public officials. Is that not reason enough for that Republic to investigate said allegations?
        Having said that, one hopes the Abbot’s legal rights are preserved and his medical needs attended to.
        It may well be that the government is using the Abbot as a scapegoat, but if that is true all this international attention will surely make that goal quite difficult to achieve. Unfortunately, as I understand it, the politicians involved are mostly covered by a statute of limitations, so the truth may never fully out.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Basil, you’re right. However whenever one asks somebody in Phanarland about Athos, all one hears about is the same drivel –it belongs to the EP, it’s autonomous, Canon 28, yada, yada, yada. LIke everything else that comes from those precincts it’s always “we’ll make it up as we go along” or “whatever the Phanar says today,” etc.

          There are so many tragedies here. One is the health of the Abbott himself, the other that no crime was probably committed. Of course, the ultimate tragedy is that the Abbott is being scapegoated in order to blacken the name of the organized Church itself. This will make it easier to tax the Church of Greece, confiscate its properties if need be, and then open up Athos to tourism.

          I wonder where George Soros is in all this?

          • “Phanarland”…I like it. So apt.
            No offence intended, George, but what is it with Greeks and living in denial of historical (and economic) realities? But then I suppose it is hard to come down from such great heights as Greek civilization has attained. The British know all about that and so too, I fear, will the Americans before much longer.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Basil, I intend to write something of an opus on this issue. I’ve been meaning to for a long time. Basically, it’s nostalgia, faded glory, but more importantly, a loss of faith. A fear of the unknown.

              • Yes, I suspected as much.
                Understandable, but not helpful for Greeks in the long run.
                I look forward to your piece, George.

    • Not if Geronda Ephraim is being persecuted, in which case it is right to demand his immediate release.

      I don’t know much for certain about the case myself, but I think it’s overkill to haul a monk to jail before trial, especially an easily-recognizable abbot, who’s had multiple opportunities to flee the country and did not, over a non-violent crime.

      I also haven’t seen any compelling evidence that he’s guilty of anything, at least guilty of anything other than getting a good deal from the Greek state, and having a lot of legitimately tax-free money.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        Helga and George, don’t you find it thought-provoking that the Vatican news only noticed this matter when the Russian Church expressed its love for Father Ephraim and for his bringing of the Sash of the Theotokos to Russia, where the Faithful (no mattter who made money) benefitted the most? The Vatican news agency stressed the centrality of Moscow/Constantinople rivalry, and baited the latter with the remark “the silence from Constantinople is deafening,” a truly cheap shot at Church bureaucrats in the Phanar who depend for their very existence on the Scylla and Charybdis of the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the Greek Foreign Office.
        The Vanity Fair article is a year or two old and the author is an extremely fair journalist, non-Orthodox, who kept to the main theme of his piece throughout; the fiasco of the Greek economy.. Sure, there are angry, furious government officials in Greece, culpable in the disasters that have befallen the country’s economy, but not the only ones culpable, since the Greek citizens themselves are notorious for being tax-dodgers to the max. The government says, “how come those monks were able to make so much money on properties which to us were a burden?” The people say, “Why should we pay taxes when Vatopedi made BILLIONS off our economy?” ONLY the Russian Church has emphasized ANYTHING relating to religion, to Orthodoxy in the matter. The Church of Greece is autocephalous, but to maintain that status it became a state church where the clergy’s salaries come out of tax revenues.
        I think the arrest of Father Ephraim was a tawdry political act by bureaucrats who don’t know whether to defecate or go blind in view of the economy’s mess and their role in it, which may cause the country to undergo something like the ‘Arab Spring” in the world of North African Islam, a “”Greek Spring.”
        That article is very sharp indeed on the politics of the economic brouhaha, and very ADMIRING of Father Ephraim and his closest associate, Father Arsenios.
        Somebody needs to alert Angela Merkel, one of the few national executives who gets anything done, and whose economy is the envy of the rest of Europe.
        Wait till Turkey weighs in!!!!

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Very thought provoking and insightful on many points. Thank you You Grace.


  11. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    Not wanting to push up posts that have hundreds and hundreds of comments attached to dead horses . .

    Here’s the money quote:

    Writing the court’s opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Allowing anti-discrimination lawsuits against religious organizations could end up forcing churches to take religious leaders they no longer want.”

    George, perhaps you’ll want to blog more in depth about this important Supreme Court decision.

    • There are many important dimensions to this opinion that can hardly be fully fleshed out in a short reply on a blog.

      From a purely American political perspective, however, it is remarkable that Hosanna Tabor was a unanimous decision that reversed the lower court. Indeed, Justice Kagan joined Justice Alito in a concurring opinion. And the far left justices, including two Obamatrons, Kagan and Sotomayor, rejected the Obama Solicitor General’s arguments in favor of the dismissed “minister.”

      The opinion is also important to Orthodox ecclesiology in the United States. Yesterday’s Hosanna Tabor case cites, with great prominence and reliance, to the Serbian schism case Milivojevich and the Russian cathedral case Kedroff , a clear indication that the Court considers those earlier decisions to be “good law.” There had been suggestions by commentators and observers that the Court, or the socialist wing of the Court, may look more favourably on enhancing or modifying a “neutral principles” analysis as a pretext to effectuate political correctness and “social” change into the operation of American religious institutions, further turning obvious First Amendment protections on their head.

      In this light, Orthodox bishops in the US, especially those of of imperious dispositions, will be further emboldened when confronted by laity who think that the clergy is mismanging property or some other “administrative” matter. “He’s ignoring/changing the Greek Charter, or some Serbian diocesan constitution and bylaws” type of cases will be increasingly difficult to survive even the most perfunctory motions to dismiss.

      And frankly, based on this case which rejects the “pretext” argument, when confronted by an actual suit, or the threat of a suit, against a parish, diocese, or himself, the imperial bishop may simply excommunicate the putative plaintiffs and deprive them of standing to bring the case in the first instance. And when that imperious bishop lives in, is beholden to, or sympathetic with Istanbul, Damascus, Belgrade, Bucharest or Sofia, … well, its Game. Set. Match. 6 – 0, 6 – 0, 6 – 0.

      I have no understanding about the Episcopal Assembly Legal Committee member’s individual thoughts on the intersection between US law and Orthodox ecclesiolgy, with one exception. But this case — as correctly decided as it was in my view as a matter of US Constitutional law — will be no friend to us laos if we need to call out individual or collective episcopal abuse of power in managing temporal affairs.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Alexander, lot to chew on here. Although you correctly state a parade of horribles which would redound negatively to wronged laymen, priests, and Americanist bishops (and of course make the work of the Episcopal Assembly infinitely harder), it was still the right decision for several reasons:

        1. it upheld religious freedom in the abstract. (thus making the forcible intrustion of the homosexualist/PC agenda harder to enact in any church/religious body),

        2. though it binds GOA/Antiochian/Bulgarian, etc. Orthodox Christian institutions into continued servitude to foreign patriarchates, those in the OCA are unmolested and free from foreign intervention. (Individiual G/A/B/S/whatever Orthodox Christians however are free to join the OCA or any church for that matter, or not to go to church.) Again, religious freedom in principle.

        3. Though this strengthens the hands of “imperious” bishops, it also strengthen the hands of traditionalist bishops who wish to abide by and enforce the canons of the Church. Renegade priests such as Garklavs, Hopko, etc. would have no recourse to removal and/or discipline by the Metropolitan. Given the plain text of the OCA Statutes, even rebellious bishops could be removed.

        I’m sure there are other considerations but these flew into my face immediately. All in all a very good ruling.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Lola, I’d definately like to. I’d even welcome a reasoned essay from one of our many erudite bloggers.

  12. Did anyone read the EP’s response to Vatopedi?

    Here it is and it sure is a jaw dropper….. the worst part is how the EP recognizes the “independence of the judiciary”. This really is new low is EP doublespeak…..

    Today, 10 January 2012, the Holy and Sacred Synod convened in regular session under the presidency of His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, they discussed, amongst other things, the matter regarding the detention of Ephrem, the Abbot of Vatopedi Monastery. On this matter, we communicate the following:

    1.His Holiness and the Holy and Sacred Synod around him express their sorrow over the situation that developed regarding the aforementioned matter.
    2.The Ecumenical Patriarchate, in accordance with its long-established practice, out of respect for the independence of the judiciary, at all times avoids every involvement on legal matters in process, given that, besides, it has no knowledge of the contents of this particular case file.
    3.The Ecumenical Patriarchate, in connection with statements issuing from sister Orthodox Churches on the aforementioned matter, reminds everyone that the Holy Mountain is its canonical territory, even though there are Orthodox monks of various nationalities there; this fact doesn’t make it a place of all-Orthodox character {even though it does have monks from all over the Orthosphere… the Phanar isn’t denying that, it’s a statement about jurisdictional matters only: editor}, and it doesn’t allow any form of interference in its affairs by other Autocephalous Churches.
    From the Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod
    10 January 2012

    • Andrew,lemme get this straight, the ep recognizes the indepenence of the judiciary but reminds everybody that only it has canonical authority over athos? This is doublespeak on steroids.

      • “Double-speak on steroids”
        Not at all. What they’re saying is that they respect the secular judicial processes of the Greek state while retaining authority over the church’s own “judicial processes” on Athos. In other words, an Athonite monk is subject to both the law of the land and the church’s laws, just as Orthodox clergy are in the US. It is a much wiser position than that adopted by the Vatican in the past where the church was regarded as an authority unto its self and the church obstructed criminal investigations by the state.

  13. Carl Kraeff says

    UPDATE 1: 22:55 12/01/2012, ATHENS, January 12 (RIA Novosti)
    “The autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece has called for the release of Abbot Efraim, the head of the Vatopedi Monastery in Mount Athos, who is currently under arrest on real estate fraud charges, the church’s Holy Synod said on Thursday.”

    UPDATE 2: Jan 12, 2012 16:54 Moscow Time (RIA Novosti)
    “The Greek Supreme Court has annulled a verdict against Archimandrite Ephraim, the Abbot of the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos, local media reported on Thursday.”

    The above news releases seem at odds with each other. So, while awaiting further development, we turn to the tiff between Constantinople and Moscow.

    After Patriarch Kyrill wrote a letter in support of Elder Ephraim to the Government of Greece, a Statement from the Constantinople Holy Synod criticized Moscow for interfering in the internal affairs of another local church.

    • So when Moscow supports Abbot Ephraim, it’s “interfering”, but when the Church of Greece supports Abbot Ephraim, the EP doesn’t mind. Since Athos is EP territory, if Moscow is overstepping its boundaries, then isn’t Greece doing the same?

      I think it is entirely Moscow’s right (and that of the other local churches) to speak up for the oppressed, especially when the local church (in this case the EP) is so flagrantly dropping the ball.

      • ProPravoslavie says

        Pat. Bartholomew also met with representatives from the tiny “Abkhazian Orthodox Church” which is recognized neither by the Patriarchate of Moscow (despite Francis Frost’s rhetoric about Moscow fomenting schism in Abkhazia) nor Georgia, and which does not even have the allegiance of most clergy in Abkhazia. I wonder if this is Pat. Bartholomew’s way of punishing Catholicos-Pariarch Ilia II because of his public opposition to the convening of a Pan-Orthodox Council.

        First, the Phanar keeps dissing Moscow. Second, it encroaches on Georgia’s territory, even as it tells Athos that it should not dare develop close ties with Moscow. Does Phanar think it is actually winning any friends?

        • Patriarch Bartholomew is increasingly reminding me of a tin-pot dictator. His flock in Turkey is even smaller than the diminished OCA.

          • Who would have every thought we would see the day when the Greek Government persecutes the Greek Orthodox Church and the EP and GOA shug their shoulders leaving the Moscow Patriarch to point out the obvious.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              When you put it like that Andrew, there is no way to view it otherwise, is there? Where are the Archons? Why aren’t they protecting this monastery, which is in the Patriarchate of “Constantinople”?

              • NEWSFLASH! “….. in accordance with its long-established practice, out of respect for the independence of the judiciary,” the Ecumenical Patriarchate will no longer have any comments on the following events and is currently convening a panel of experts to review is historical understanding of the following events.

                1) The execution of St. Paul by the emperor NERO.
                2) The sentence of St. Ignatius of Antioch to death in the Roman Colliseum
                3) The execution of St. George by the emperior Diocletian.

                Anyone have any others to add to the list?

          • Dean Calvert says

            Correction Helga..his flock is smaller than many PARISHES in this country.

        • Dean Calvert says

          Dear Pro.

          Pozdravlayoo c’novim godim!

          I just posted this on AOI blog, but thought it was just as apropos here:


          Note to Phanar:

          Dead church…meet a LIVE church.

          Strong letter to follow.


          Seriously – I’ve been observing for some time now that the “fault line” in the Orthodox world was going to change from that of “Greek vs Slavic” to one of “Live vs Dead”. I think this episode is a great example of that. And the response was particularly telling: “When it’s important…simply ignore the Dead church.”

          This story is interesting in that it marks a new threshhold for the Russian Church. During the past two years, the ROC has begun to consistently describe the Ecumenical Patriarch as simply “the Patriarch of Constantinople.” This began during the visit of the EP to Moscow (2010) which coincided with the First Assembly of Bishops here in the US, and has continued unabated since then. See for yourself at this or any number of other stories on the MP website referring to Constantinople. There are no longer (or very few) references to “first among equals” or “His ALL Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch”…it is now simply Patriarch of Constantinople…presumably the Greek equivalent to the Patriarch of Moscow.

          This, however, marks a new step in the process. The Moscow patriarchate is now flexing it’s muscles, using it’s position as a “live” church and a serious organ of the Russian State, to weigh in on political issues anywhere in the Orthodox world.

          The ancient patriarchates, who have lived for centuries on nothing but mythology, may want to reconsider their positions on a few things. Because this is simply a “preview of coming attractions.”

          While all the talk about a “Great and Holy Council” makes for important sounding headlines – At the end of the day, churches who are “ALIVE” (Romania, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Georgia, Poland, Czech Lands, Greece, Cyprus, the OCA [arguably]- and I would include even the Oriental Churches of Egypt and Ethiopia) are simply going to ignore those that are “Dead” (Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch).

          If i were “running strategy” for those Ancient Patriarchates, I’d be cutting deals while I still had something to bargain with.

          Best Regards,

          PS Had not realized that the Georgian Church had publicly scoffed at the idea of a Great and Holy council…I always liked that patriarch!

          • George Michalopulos says

            As usual, Dean, a firm grasp of the obvious. Too bad the ancient patriarchates can’t see it.

            • George Michalopulos says

              On second thought, the Phanar does have one or two tricks in its sleeve: the globalism of Soros and making itself a tool of the Obama State Dep’t. Reminds me of a line by Barbara Tuchman in one of her books. She described the Sultan of Turkey ca 1800 as being in such dire straights that “…like a drowning man who has no other option, he grabs for a python.”

          • ProPravoslavie says

            Patriarch of Georgia on “Great and Holy Council”


            Do note his oblique reference to Constantinople’s claims of jurisdiction over all churches outside traditional canonical territories

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Add his name to the list of God-pleasing saints like Justin Popovich. I’m almost at the point where I can’t see an up-side to such a council, at least not until we disabuse ourselves of our internal delusions.

            • I feel conflicted about the whole thing. On one hand, without a council, I don’t know how we will resolve the issues that need to be discussed. On the other hand, the EP can’t be allowed to dictate the terms of the meeting.

              We may simply have to wait until the ancient patriarchates can’t sustain themselves any longer.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Helga, you’ve just elucidated the “Eureka!” solution!

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Helga states:

                We may simply have to wait until the ancient patriarchates can’t sustain themselves any longer.

                That will never happend. If it did not happen in the previous centuries it will not happen now. The EP has actually gotten stronger not weaker. Much more money and power (legal and political) have recently in the last 15 years gone into the EP not out. I can personally assure you on that point.

                Dean Calvert states:

                This, however, marks a new step in the process. The Moscow patriarchate is now flexing it’s muscles, using it’s position as a “live” church and a serious organ of the Russian State, to weigh in on political issues anywhere in the Orthodox world.

                The ancient patriarchates, who have lived for centuries on nothing but mythology, may want to reconsider their positions on a few things. Because this is simply a “preview of coming attractions.”

                The MP and the EP have been flexing THEIR muscles for a very long time, especially the MP which is now simply an arm of the New Russian Federation. Just because the Communists are not in “Apparent” control, does not mean that a strong Russia is not emerging and attempting to do what it has always wanted to do – control as much of the world economically, politically and now religiously as it can.

                The Russians never have and never will tolerate any invasion of what they perceive as their territory and do not share power with no one. This inludes the EP. Communist or Orthodox they are still Russians and they are a force to be rekoned with. This is the real reason they want the EP out of the way in the religious shere. Power does not share.

                This is not to say that the EP has not embarked on a power trip of its own, it has, but the motives of the MP and of the ROC in Russia are not as pure as you may think, and we may all be cautious of the Old Russian Bear that still has all of its teeth and claws. Altruism is not is motivation.

                Yet, remember so does the EP! Just because an animal is cornered and hungry does not make it less dangerous and powerful, but more. The MP recognizes the power of the EP. This is why it has embarked on a campaign of calling the EP “The Patriarch of Constandinople” and bred hostility for the EP.

                Again, this is not to say the EP has not brought this upon itself, but the MP and the ROC are definitely fanning the flames.

                In the present situation IMHO useful idiots abound on both sides.


                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Interesting points, Peter. You may be right. It is arguable however whether C’pole has actually gotten “stronger” or not. It has certainly gotten more publicity and that doesn’t hurt. Whether this is actual power or not is open to question. It has certainly garnered more resentment from the other patriarchates. Even within its own jurisdiction here in America, I see a rupture along traditionalist/secularist lines. We’ll see though. he has certainly played a bad hand pretty well.

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    Agreed on all points. Also, in regards to the “Mythology” that Dean brought up earlier, I think that the EP and all the old world Patriarchates are milking that “Mythology” to their advantage and the Gospels’ disadvantage. Dean is right and perceptive on this point.

                    America was and still is a fertile field for evangalism from the Orthodox. However, what we can all agree on is we need a Unified American Orthodox Church. How we are going to get it is the big question.

                    So many 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Greeks, Serbs, Lebanness, Jordanians, etc., have no real connection with the old world, and are fully American. It goes back to what Michael Bauman said a while ago. When we the laity want an American Orthodox Church we will get it. Presently, not enough want it and many just do not care.

                    I truly hope that changes in the future.


                    • Dean Calvert says


                      If you stop and think about it, our Church grew up in an environment not unlike modern day America – think about it, a world with one superpower; one language was the lingua franca throughout the world; the nation was a commercial colossus; it was essentially a meritocracy, with an educated and literate laity. It’s currency was used throughout the world; and citizenship in that nation was far more important than ethnic or provincial ties. Even the persecution of Christians is not so far removed from today’s USA.

                      The point is, our Church adapted and thrived in that environment. As successors of the same – we possess all the tools we need to evangelize this country as well. All we really need to do is to get our act together (return to the traditional system of governance).

                      Best Regards,

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      As usual, the commentary is right on the money. To bad we don’t have more bishops in America who can think as clearly as Peter and Dean. 😉 (Then again, if we did, we’d probably force them to go in for “evaluation.”)

            • Dean Calvert says

              Dear Pro,

              Very interesting article. Too bad it’s such an awful translation.

              Example: What do they mean by “temples”?

              Thanks in any case…had not heard this.

              Honestly, I’ve always admired Patriarch Ilia.

              Best Regards

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        The last thing the EP wants is for anyone to get interested in their finances, and they just kept their heads down in this matter until the (relatively free) MP embarrassed the dickens out of them by bringing the matter before the attention of the international media. What could the EP do? The only thing that both Turkey and the Greek Foreign Office really are content to let the EP do, as always, is joust with the MP.
        It’s rather upsetting, but, sadly, many Orthodox Church leaders are more concerned with their rights over this or that fire hydrant than they are about practicing what the Holy Tradition has given us: Christ’s Gospel.

        • Vladyka Tikhon, I think you are right about this, although the facts of the situation make me sad. The EP’s position on Canon 28 is about self-aggrandizement, not preaching the Gospel.

  14. Hey look, the Episcopal Assembly is shaking the proverbial tin cup and asking for donations on its website. Maybe some of that mystery money that funded the first two get togethers has dried up which is what I believe George predicted some time back near the first meeting. I take this is a sign that the EA process is pretty much stagnant. Look for this year’s meeting to be uhh…”postponed” due to scheduling conflicts and pressing overseas obligations.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      i think you predicted it as well Andrew. Oh well, looks like Mama is tightening the apron strings.

  15. ProPravoslavie says

    A Greek Orthodox bishop’s strong criticism of the Phanar and defense of the Moscow Patriarchate over the issue of Geronda Ephraim’s imprisonment: (in Greek)

    The bishop is Met. Ambrose of Kalavryta:

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      ProP: the headline was very telling: “One church is a mother, the other a step-mother”.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Unfortunately this is par for the course for the EP. He has always abandoned those he believes are a danger to him and the Patriarchate. Retired Bishop Tikon said it best: “The last thing the EP wants is for anyone to get interested in their finances…” Bishop Tikon is right.

        Although not surprised, it is still very saddening. This is not the image of Orthodoxy that our hurting and dying world needs to see. Not at all.


    • That’ll peel the paint off the walls at the Phanar!

    • Dean Calvert says

      Gotta love this man…perhaps OCL should issue an invitation to the next meeting?


      Best Regards
      Dean Calvert (Calvert = Kalavrytinos – from Kalavryta)

      • Forget that, I hope he gets elected to be the next EP. It probably won’t happen, but you never know.

  16. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    And now for something that can uplift all of us:



  17. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Dean writes:


    If you stop and think about it, our Church grew up in an environment not unlike modern day America – think about it, a world with one superpower; one language was the lingua franca throughout the world; the nation was a commercial colossus; it was essentially a meritocracy, with an educated and literate laity. It’s currency was used throughout the world; and citizenship in that nation was far more important than ethnic or provincial ties. Even the persecution of Christians is not so far removed from today’s USA.

    The point is, our Church adapted and thrived in that environment. As successors of the same – we possess all the tools we need to evangelize this country as well. All we really need to do is to get our act together (return to the traditional system of governance).

    Best Regards,

    Thanks Dean:

    I do not remember if I asked this before of anyone, but do you think that the current jurisdictional jousting over America might end or change somehow given the economic down turn of the the U.S.? Meaning, with the current shift in economic growth to Asia and its sub-continent do you think that the focus will be taken off of the U.S. and placed on Asia for both the EP and the MP?

    The reason I ask this is because I believe that all of the present jurisdictional arguments (i.e. Canon 28, 1970 Tomos of Authocephalacy, Alaskan Mission, etc) are linked to the economic properity and wealth of the the U.S. Hence, if the U.S. economy tanks, or the U.S. is not as afluent in the future, would the jurisdictional fight end?

    Let me know because I tend to link money and jurisdiction together, and I do not want to do that if its not justified.



    • Peter, I believe economics is the proverbial black swan in world orthodoxy. Its the wild card only a few people have considered. Just the other day ROCOR issued a statement on its website asking for help because the synod building is a 1/2 million in debt and falling apart. The Episcoal Assembly is asking for donations to function? What does this all mean? I think it means the Orthodox gravy train where people live like the Church has a limitless supply of money is over and decisions have to be made.

      Common sense also leads one to believe that other Orthodox jurisdictions that prospered throughout the twentieth century do not have the demographic or stewardship base to support the lifestyles they are accustomed to. Ask yourself this, what is going to happen when the first Orthodox jurisdiction in America goes bankrupt? Even the “elevated Greek community” must face demographic and financial reality going forward that it cannot maintain its current standard of operation in an ever changing 21st century.

      Looking abroad we must also recognize that a big chunk of world Orthodoxy is government subsidized and as governments crumble and go broke this will impact how many of the ancient sees function. What happends if Greece cannot subsidize Constantinople or a return to the dracma limits these funds? What happens if Obamas war on prosperity confiscates a large amount of wealth that would otherwise be given to the Church both here and abroad? What happens if the Syrian government falls and no longer supports the Patriachate of Antioch?

      I can certainly see a scenario where the Patriarch of Moscow bails out Constantinople in exchange for a more diverse Holy Synod and the possibility of electing a non-Greek EP. I can also see Moscow intervening globally to preserve churches and holy sites. And of course a Moscow led bailout of the EP would certainly be favorable for establish a united Church in America.

      If division is no longer profitable then unity becomes more and more a reality and a matter or survival. It will be interesting to see who survives this challenge and who fails.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Hi Andrew:

        Thank you for your response. I do tend to greatly agree with you. Being a part of that “elevated Greek community” I can tell you its not that elevated any more. The number of “Whales” in the Greek Community has greatly diminished because the economy is currently in a very bad recession/depression. Further, add to this the number of that old guard has passed away or their interest have been hit very hard. You would be surprised at how many over-leveraged themselves just to “keep up appearances” where a personal line of credit went from $50K to $150K to $200K, and this is exclusive of existing mortgage and property tax obligations. Now this is just here in America. I have no idea what they are doing in Greece or the rest of Europe.

        I also whole-heartedly agree with your statement that: “If division is no longer profitable then unity becomes more and more a reality and a matter or survival.” Let’s see how long it takes us to get there. Thank you Andrew.


        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Andrew, Peter, et al: I’ve often felt that the economic constraints are what is driving a lot of the tumult behind the scenes (and probably some good things as well). The answer of course is that Orthodoxy will only exist (in America at least) if the Orthodox start tithing. Period. End of story.

          I know that the nostalgists (like Barbara/Stan) like to scream that tithing was “never” part of Orthodoxy and they can keep on screaming this til the cows come home. But you know what also was never part of Orthodoxy? Pews. Organs. Parish Councils. Or Episcopal Assemblies. Diocesan basketball tournaments. Youth camps. Etc.

          Ultimately, all of us are going to have to ask ourselves if we are serious about the Church and canonical good order. That doesn’t mean only those of us who are serious, traditionalist, conservative, whatever. That means also the nominalists, the worldly, the ethnicists as well. Once we come to an agreement that “Yes, we really want the Church to continue,” then we have to look at what it’s going to take. And it’s not going to be food festivals, raffles or relying on the super-rich to continue to bail us out.

          If there is one thing I’d like to say to the ethnicists out there: Folks, don’t be looking for a sugar-daddy or waiting to hit the jackpot. We hit the jackpot when our ancestors came to America. Don’t think otherwise because if things were so good in the Old Country, they never would have left.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Amen George, and Amen, However, that 20%/80% mentality, coupled with the old mentality of survival, is still out there, especially in the Greek, Serb and Arab communities. That is an incredibly hard nut to crack.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Peter, even with an 80/20 mentality, tithing and/or proportional giving is not unreasonable. For instance, if you have a church with 10 millionaires who give $100,000 each per year, their combined total is $1,000,000. If the other 90 stewards make only $50,000 each per year and give $5,000 each, then that sub-total is $450,000. I realize these numbers are simplistic, but the breakdown is $145K + $1,000K = $1,450K. That’s a breakdown of 32%/68%, beter than 20/80 but still quite close to it.

              In reality, the numbers would probably be far less than these as you’d have 30+ people who make between $25K-$50K, 15+ who make between $60K-$120K, and 4 or so who make over $120K. If we assume that tithing should come from the take-home income as opposed to gross, (let’s round that to 45% of gross) those numbers would be:

              $25-$50K x 45%: tithing = $1,125-2,250 per year
              $60-$120K x 45%: ” = $2,700-$5,400 per year
              $130K-$200K x 45% = $5,400-$9,000 per year

              now lets assume that there are 35 stewards who make an average of $38,000 per year, 16 stewars who make $77,000 per year, and 5 who make $150,000 per year. What does that leave us?

              Tier 1: $60,000 per year
              Tier 2: $55,000 per year
              Tier 3: $34,000 per year
              TOTAL: $150,000 income per year

              Remember, this is a parish of only 56 adult stewards. Not much larger than a mission really. That’s enough to pay 2 priests.

              Anyway, what’s my point? any jurisdiction would jump at the chance of having parishes maintained by tithing even if in the final analysis we can’t break the old 80$/20% rule.

              P.S. if I got the numbers wrong, please feel free to correct me.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                I agree with you George. I was just saying that if this model starts to breakdown more proportional tithing will come about. Now how much hurt we have to go through to get there, which may very well necessitate the grass root unity Dean is talking about, is the big unknown.


            • Dean Calvert says


              One of the comments that struck me years ago was made by one of the Profs at St Vladimir’s during an OCL conference hosted there. I forget who the professor was, but the comment really struck me..and is a corollary of the economic question you raise.

              He suggested that Orthodox unity will come first in the smaller towns of America, Des Moines Iowa, Tucson Arizona, Grand Rapids Michigan….because in those places you have smaller churches which are struggling to survive…no one has reached that threshhold of size that you see in the major cities. As a result, they must cooperate out of necessity.

              Unity would come last, he suggested, in the large urban areas, New York City, Chicago, etc….because in those places, the ethnic communities are large enough where they can essentially pretend to be in the Old Country…no cooperation with the other Orthodox is necessary.

              I think the bottom line may be the same as you suggest: economics may drive us together as the separate jurisdictions begin to appreciate the horrendous cost of operating as they are today (rather than as a united church). Add to that the certainty of the increased needs which will soon be coming from the various Old Countries (C’nople and Antioch particularly) – and you may have a situation where finances become a motivating factor.

              Can the private bequests of a few millionaires put off the day of reckoning??? I suppose. But ultimately economics, just as demographics (pointed out by Andrew), is on the side of Orthodox unity.

              Best regards,

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Thanks Dean. Good perspective.


              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Dean, I agree with you for the most part. Both you and I have seen wonderful cooperation in Smalltown, USA between the GOA, AOCNA parishes but the lack of jurisdictional unity always leave these priests looking over their shoulders, wondering when their respective bishops are going to yank their chains. I’ve seen that happen too.

        • Peter, I believe that many if not all Orthodox jurisdictions are ignoring the effects of the economy on the finances of the Church. After all what bishop or chancellor wants to be in charge when the ship starts taking on water and sinking. This means that when the gravity of these problems eventually become known by those folks in the pews the damage will be impossible to repair without a radical intervention. Honestly, I do not think any of our American Orthodox leaders are capable of overseeing the bureaucratic and administrative overhaul needed to be a successful Orthodox Church in the 21st Century.

          Such denial will certainly be costly.

        • Peter, speaking of whales. I received in the mail the other day the Stewardship numbers for my local Greek Parish. Now we have alot of people who perceive themselves to be “whales” of the Hellenic variety. They have have huge houses and drive luxurious cars -many of which stretch the bounds of common sense. However, the stewardship numbers for the Church say these folks are barely giving $25 per week and definitely less than $2,000 per year. This tells me that we have some really big consumers but less and less real wealth in the parish. We definitely do not have many tithers if at all. I bet the majority of these folks have leveraged their lifestyles to the hilt. The “elevated Greek Community” that Archbishop Demetrios bragged about at the Clergy Laity Conference some years ago is more and more an endangered species.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            I was a delagate to that Clergy-Laity Conference, and the stewardship issue in the GOA is just atrocious IMHO. I was the head of the Stewardship committee at my Parish during my tenure on our Parish Council and the amount of money that people were making was not proportionaly to their tithing.

            Only a few GOA Churches in our diocese, Sts Peter & Paul, Sts. Constantine & Helens, tec., tithe the way Orthodox should to the point they do not have a Greek Festival and do not need it. as for St. Connie’s they have a festival, but they give all the proceeds over to their private school for its administration and management. the rest of us have our obligatory Greek Fests just to make the mortgage and pay utility bills because our giving is not where it should be.

            Now I do not give like I should. I tried, but when we attempted to set an example as PC members it went nowhere. I even remember that when I did give more than the suggested minimum, which for us was $500, my extra $500 ($1,000 altogether) was given back to me as an overpayment!

            I did it a second time the following year and it was sent back by the church office a second time. Both times I explained it was not an overpayment, but the office would not accept it. Why? because even though we were attempting to set an example of proper and commesurate tithing as PC members, the “Old Guard,” as I like to call them, did not like it because they did not want to give more, but enjoyed the status quo.

            Now many theories abound as to why this occurred, but I will live it at that. However, the vision of our former PC president in instituting this and other tithing reforms were spot on and supported for about a year until the hammer fell and even the PC members stop it. Many times we are our own worst enemies in that we hate change and innovation. Forget about evangelizing our surrounding communities, You try getting money for that and you are in their cross-hairs. We even attempted to institute a food pantry and a soup kitchen at our church and many were wondering “why are be bringing in dirty poor people to our Church?” You believe that?

            On a side note Sts. Peter & Paul although a GOA church is mostly a convert church so those good people actually took their tithing responsibilities and ministries to heart. What’s our excuse? Sorry to rant, but its a sore spot with me. Not just with tithing, but with providing needed ministies to our communities. We have the money and people power and for the great majority of us in the GOA its non-existent. Even I just gave up after a while, and I just hate it.

            Now I just take care of my family, raise my kids and give when I can and as much as I can, and hope the rest of the congregation does the same. I have a great Parish Priest, a great PC President, which I think just recently stepped down, and mostly great parishioners, but its still the status quo. Even my apathy is to blame. Me and my immediate generation tried and nothing much was done. I hope to try again in a few years when my kids get a little older, but for now its defintely a holding pattern.


            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Someday I’ll tell my story about my attempt to give proportionately at my old GOA parish but for now, I’d like to ask you Peter, of the parishes in Chicago you named that are close to tithing, do charity work, etc., how close are they to the Athonite movement?

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Many of them are supportive and even sponsor the two Ephramite Monasteries in our area, execept Sts. Peter & Paul. I do not know if Sts. Peter & Paul do or do not support the Monastery. However, due to their high convert rate they are very firmly rooted in Orthodoxy and take Orthodoxy very seriously. Sts. Peter & paul have amazing ministies and are true testiment to what a motivated Orthodox Church can do for its community. So it does seems that the more “religious” or “traditional” parishes do tithe more or, I should say, properly.


                • I have attended St.Peter and Paul and its a wonderful parish.It was such a long drive to Glenview.The other GOA parish I attended was Annunciation Cathedral….I belonged to Holy Trinity cathedral {OCA}

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    Holy Trinity cathedral {OCA} in the Ukranian Village is very old and very important Orthodox Church here in Chicago. I think its the oldest Orthodox Church in Chicago, but I am not sure. You should be very proud to belong to this Church and Community.

                    In fact, the building itself is a Chicago historical monument, and very beautiful to look at in and of itself. I believe this is Bp Matthaias main church if I am not mistaken. Take care.


                    • Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago on Levitt in Ukranian Village was designed by Louis Sullivan and it is a National Landmark….I now live in Florida and belong to a GOA parish…the OCA parish here isn’t very friendly.

            • Peter and George.

              I would suggest that tithing should never be understood as proportional giving, although the effect of tithing is proportional giving. I would also suggest the reason parishes who receive the bulk of their incomes from tithing tend to be healthy has far less to do with the financial health that results form a culture of tithing than it does from the spiritual health that comes from the firmly held belief that everything we are and everything we have is a gift of God and a stewardship entrusted to us by God.

              Giving is not – and never should be – about what the Church needs. It is about the condition of our hearts. It is a tangible affirmation of the fact that we have been bought with a price; we are not our own.

              All true offerings are Eucharistic in nature (“Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee, in behalf of all and for all”) and are, in fact, inseparably one with the offering of the Eucharist itself. And like the Eucharist, it is not God who needs the offering but we who need to offer in order to be fully who we are in Him. Therefore, I would tithe and give alms regardless of what others do. And if my offerings were returned as “over-payments” (unbelievable!) I would send them where they are most needed and effective as a good steward of the Master.

              The spiritual health of a community that has been reared in a Eucharistic understanding of giving is evangelical by its very being; and this is because it is a community focused on Christ. George has written about this ethos in the DOS.

              There are many historical reasons this Eucharistic ethos has been all but lost in Orthodox culture, not the least of which is centuries of state support of churches in most ‘old countries.’ It is fair to say that the vast majority of Orthodox Christians bristle at the suggestion that this is part of the Tradition because they cannot comprehend giving as offering or as anything other than what the Church needs. It is heartbreaking because they have no idea what they are missing.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Brian, of course you are right. Tithing literally means “10%”. Whether this is 10% of gross or simply take-home is an argument for another day. Regardless, tithing should be the minimum, anything else is “donations,” “gifts,” etc.

                To get to tithing though, I would suggest that a system of proportional giving be instituted immediately in parishes throughout the country. It’s very easy to start at 2% and show people how much this work out if they made (say) $50,000 per year. The church could print out a chart showing how to do it weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly. Also for 4% givers, 6%, 8% and 10%.

                Giving would increase dramatically when people would see that they could afford $25/week or more.

                Your other points are well-taken.

                • George,

                  You are correct, of course, on a practical level, and there is nothing wrong with being practical. And yes, tithe means tenth. While not everyone has sufficient faith to begin even at the minimum, we all need to start somewhere until we begin to realize that we cannot afford to give less than the minimum, nor would we even consider it.

                  I maintain that the ‘cultural’ change should begin with teaching (from our bishops on down) about the Eucharistic nature of tithes and offerings. Otherwise, it remains 1.) only about what the Church needs and the ‘fairness’ of her support and 2.) a touchy subject that seems to have no saving value to a parishioner.

                  Why the subject of money is a ‘touchy’ one among so many clergy is beyond me. Christ spoke more about the use and misuse of possessions than anything else for reasons that are directly related to our salvation. In my opinion, clergy (and bishops first of all) who do not address this topic in as direct a manner as our Lord are derelict in their own stewardship, placing the flock for which they will called to account in jeopardy – ironically out of fear of the loss of the very things our Lord said would be added unto us if we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.

  18. Speaking of proportional giving

    “A statement issued at the end of the two-day meeting offers full support for the Central Administration, the Chancery staff, and the departments and deep appreciation for their work and dedication despite limited resources. It also notes that ‘the current system of revenue is dysfunctional and will not support the OCA in the future.’ The statement includes immediate actions that will be taken in the ongoing effort to promote proportional giving as an alternative to the current system.”

    Barf on that. The current system of revenue is dysfunctional because it’s exploitative and supports a bloated and moribund administration.

  19. cynthia curran says

    Good point, so there was no tithing in the age of Justinian. However, people either walk to Hagia Sophia, or came in a litter if he or she was wealthy- a form of transporation for the wealthy in the Roman Empire, or on horseback. A lot of orthodox today drive to Church in cars just like Roman Catholics or Protestants.

  20. You write here about a ‘failure of leadership’. Take a look at this video about 13,000 Orthodox coming together in a stadium representing a 50,000 person national young person’s Orthodox organization in 1963. Here’s a quote from then:

    ““You will, for the rest of your life, be able to say, ‘I was there – a participant in the first national gathering of the Orthodox Church in the New World.”

    What happened to all the energy there? Until I posted those videos of the work by Ron Mauresan a google of ‘CEOYLA’ got you zippo. The hint of the reason I heard was mentioned by the late Andy Kopan who remarked about the miscue of the then Archbishop Iakovos in some of his remarks. Call me a broken record but if you have leadership who has lived alone since adolescence, to call their grip on what’s really going on in family life ‘rusty’ is being nice. If one’s purpose is to communicate you have to understand how the other person hears.

    • Yawn. Try learning another trick, pony!

    • Carl Kraeff says

      That is why it is refreshing to see senior priests in charge of highest level functions, such as in the ROC and the OCA. Ny the way, the principle of a hierarchical church is not violated by some of the leadership functions going to the clergy. ASince priests are in essence are extension of the episcopate, they can and do function as Deputy Bishops.

  21. There’s the link to the video I mentioned above. And it has links to recordings made during the event.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Ah, I remember those “good old days” well. All the trendy concerns in American Orthodoxy today were unheard-of.
      There was no obsessive opposition to a monastic episcopate; no singling out ot sexual misbehavior as the Sin o Sins; no quantitative, mechanical approach to “Church Growth”; no boot camps; no Novel Sketes; ..oh, the list is too long for these tired old fingers to type out.

      • The episcopate at that time hadn’t lost the church two decimal points worth of our kids with the leadership of separation. The 85,000 strong 13,000 in attendance CEOYLA folk demonstrated they at least did not embrace divisions —and so that was the end of them! .

        Yes, it all starts in the home. The last time the bishops didn’t live alone in one Ford or Nixon was still president, who is surprised they struggle (not all) to comprehend how to reach folk as the decades pass by. Lots of knowledge of texts and the deep relationships among the many phrases. Useful, but not enough.