The Canonical Crisis

Pat. Bartholomew Exercising Ecumenical Infallibility

The situation in Ukraine is going from bad to worse. Seriously, did anybody honestly think that once the Church (or a portion of it) aligns itself so nakedly with secular actors anything good would come of it?

Patriarch Bartholomew’s blatant power-grab in Ukraine, beginning first of all with the unilateral abrogation of the original tomos of transfer of 1689, has borne nothing but bitter fruit. And it will continue to do so unless and until a formal council (a real council) is called by the Orthodox Church to formally undo all his actions in this matter.

The situation is that grave.

Below is a recent essay by His Eminence, Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen, which explains in stark detail the ecclesial and theological ramifications of the uncanonical actions which the Ecumenical Patriarchate has unleashed in Ukraine. It is the second such essay in as many months in which His Eminence has opined on this tragic situation.

[Editor’s Note: The thumbnail on the home page is from the Council of Ferrara-Florence, ca 1448.]


The actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople (EP) in its process of granting a Tomos of autocephaly to the schismatic groups in Ukraine have created a canonical crisis. This point of “judgment” (the real meaning of “crisis”) is not so much about Ukraine, per se; but about the nature of the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and of primacy, indeed of episcopacy in the Orthodox Church. Thus, it affects every Orthodox Church and every Orthodox Christian. It has nothing to do with nationalism, though this has been a tool for manipulation of various parties involved; it has nothing to do with a rivalry between Moscow and Constantinople, though this is certainly exacerbated by the situation. It has nothing to do with Greeks versus Russians, or with Constantinople’s frustration with Moscow over the Cretan council. The roots of this crisis are a hundred years old, and its foundations date back to the Roman Empire.

It is a time of judgment for Orthodoxy, to make us deal with reality as it is, and not how we imagine it to be, not how we would like it to be. This means that to resolve this crisis we have to look at the history of the past several hundred years, and the current situation, and make some decisions as to how we are going to proceed as the Church. This brings up many corollary questions: What is the relationship between the Church and the world, the Church and secular governments, the Church and the nation-state? How does the Church engage in missionary outreach, and the nature of those missions? How do the Local Churches relate to one another, maintain communion with one another and support one another, in relation to the secular world?

The real issue is, what is the nature of the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Orthodoxy and how does it work in relation to the Synodal constitution of the Church?

There are two systems of presuppositions which have clashed in Ukraine. First, the conciliar vision of the Church which sees Local autocephalous Churches as having full authority over their defined territories, and missions, with full jurisdiction over juridical, canonical and disciplinary matters residing in the Synod of that Local Church. The Patriarch of Constantinople has primacy of honor as the first among equals, on the basis of the ancient canons. However each Synod has its own primate, and each functions independently as autocephalous. The second system has a set of presuppositions which vest final authority in the Ecumenical Patriarch over all canonical decisions, with a right of appeal and the right to overrule the other patriarchs, primates and their Synods, and whose decisions cannot be appealed. The conciliar/synodal model has been the operating principle of most of the Orthodox Churches for the past several hundred years. The Constantinopolitan model has been developing over the last century, on the basis of interpretations of the ancient canons, and has most recently been applied in Ukraine. It relativizes the autocephalies of the national Churches, and asserts not only primacy of honor but primacy of jurisdiction over all the Orthodox Churches, and sole jurisdiction outside of their national territories.

The specific conflict between these two visions of the Church manifested itself in Ukraine. While the interference of political powers and their financial ability to influence the leading actors, as well as the personal motivations of various actors involved, are important,they are side issues. The current conflict arose from the process of granting the Tomos of autocephaly to the schismatics in Ukraine, and especially, the validation of their schism. This was done despite the presence of the much larger canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, an autonomous Church under the Moscow Patriarchate. There was no consultation nor agreement with the UOC-MP, and they did not request autocephaly. The process involved the petition to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for autocephaly from the President of Ukraine, P. Poroshenko, on behalf of two groups that had long been in schism from the canonical Church in Ukraine. These bodies were led by former clerics who had been legitimately defrocked and anathematized by the Russian Orthodox Church, of which they had been members: the so called “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko and “Metropolitan” Makary. The excommunication and expulsion of Denisenko had been universally recognized as just, for abuse of power and corruption, and for schism; and supported, even by Patriarch Bartholomew, who had also affirmed the complete competence and jurisdiction of the Russian Church to deal with these issues.

Poroshenko’s petition included an appeal to overrule the decisions and disciplines levied against these clerics by the Russian Synod. The EP appointed two Exarchs, bishops from North America, to work out the details of the relationship with Constantinople and bring the two groups together. By entering Ukraine on official Church business without the blessing of the canonical Metropolitan of Kiev, Metropolitan Onuphry, the Exarchs of Constantinople violated the canonical territory of the autonomos Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and of the Patriarchate of Moscow of which it is part. Interfering in the Church affairs of another Local Church, and invading their territory are major canonical infractions. As a result, Moscow resolved to cease commemorating the Patriarch Bartholomew. Constantinople then withdrew the 300-year-old document, ceding jurisdiction of Kiev to Moscow. The biggest canonical infractions came, however, when the EP validated these schismatic groups and declared them fully canonical, took them under his jurisdiction, and validated the priesthood and episcopacy of their clergy. Moscow had no choice but to break communion with Constantinople at this point. Constantinple later established them with a Tomos of Autocephaly. In addition, the EP has established a stavropegial diocese, under himself, on the territory of Ukraine. He is operating on the basis of his own presuppositions; but they are not shared by the rest of the Church. Rather, he is seen as operating unilaterally, without consultation or conciliar consensus with the other Orthodox Churches.

Perhaps the most significant act in this process has been the validation of the clergy of the schismatic groups, and the recognition of their organization as a legitimate church within the Patriarchate of Constantinople, albeit nominally autocephalous. None of the other actions of this process touch on the sacramental constitution of the Church; these, however, cut to the very nature of episcopacy and priesthood, and of the Church itself. Everything else, as offensive as it has been to the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Churches, is essentially administrative and juridical. Not that these are not important, but they do not have any implications for sacramental integrity of the Church or the continuity of the Tradition. If this schism was just administrative, the parties would eventually reconcile, even if grudgingly, as after Constantinople invaded and divided the Church in Estonia. There was a break in communion for a time, as there is now between Jerusalem and Antioch. But there was no issue that forced the rest of the Churches to take sides and go into schism with the others.

The schismatic clergy all had cut themselves off from the canonical Church. Some had been canonically ordained, most were uncanonically ordained by schismatic bishops, and some had never been ordained as bishops. In an unprecedented sweep of the pen, the Patriarch of Constantinople declared all these clergy valid and canonical, lifting the defrockings and anathemas, and placing them under his omophorion—figuratively. Then the EP demands that they commemorate the new primate as the head of a legitimate Orthodox Church, and serve with him and his clergy, and does so himself. So all the Churches, the primates and Synods, must choose: Will they serve with clergy from this new Ukrainian Church under the Ecumenical Patriarchate? Those clergy and faithful will also go all over the world, to Jerusalem, Mt. Athos, Cyprus, Greece, Serbia, Romania. Will they be received to communion? Will they be allowed to serve? Will their Baptisms be recognized?

To accept this new Ukrainian schismatic body under the EP implies that that Local Church accepts the presuppositions and assertions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople about its authority and jurisdiction. It has nothing to do with siding with Moscow against Constantinople. The assertions include: the right to receive appeals of bishops and metropolitans over the heads of their patriarchs, and to overrule them; that the Ecumenical Patriarch has full jurisdiction over all the Orthodox Churches, and is the final authority, arbiter and judge over all matters canonical, ecclesiastical and disciplinary; has the right to insert itself into the territory and life of every other Church. These mirror the assertions of the Roman Papacy, and its doctrines of universal jurisdiction. However, the assertion that the EP has the right, power and authority to validate uncanonical clergy, and those who had never been ordained, by simply declaring them valid, is something that the Pope would never dream of.

This is something new and unheard of.

The most precious legacy from the Lord Jesus Christ that the Orthodox Church holds and treasures is the Gift of the Holy Spirit, given to the Apostles on the day of Resurrection, and to the whole body on the day of Pentecost. By this gift, the Apostles became bishops and priests, and have handed over that charism to their successors by ordination, unbroken to this day.

This charism of the Holy Spirit constitutes the Church, and is the foundation of its sacramental or mysteriological essence. It is this that preserves the continuity of Orthodoxy, it is the content of its very identity as the Church. The Eucharist may constitute the Church in time and space, but there is no Eucharist if there is no legitimately ordained priest or bishop. A bishop is ordained as a conciliar act, first with election by a Synod, and then the laying on of hands, consecration or ordination, by at least three bishops. This constitutes the affirmation of the whole Church. It is not possible for a bishop to be ordained by just one other bishop, but it can only be done as a synergistic act of the whole Church.

There is no way that bishops or priests in canonical Churches can serve, commune or recognize the new Ukrainian organization under the EP. If you serve with a schismatic, you become a schismatic. It has nothing to do with “supporting Moscow.” It’s all about maintaining the canonical and sacramental integrity of the Orthodox Church. Even more difficult is the question of how one can recognize and serve with the Mother Church of a body with which you cannot be in communion. It doesn’t work. Thus, this entire issue has forced a schism on the body of the Orthodox Church. The Churches will have to choose sides, and wait for an ecumenical pan-Orthodox council to resolve it. But, it is the responsibility of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to call pan-Orthodox councils; and they are not interested.

Thus there arises the essential issue of accountability. To whom is the Patriarch of Constantinople accountable? If he is first among equals, then he is accountable to the other primates, in a pan-Orthodox or ecumenical council. However, if as he asserts, he is the final authority and judge, and his judgments cannot be appealed, or to put it another way, first without equal, then he is accountable to no one, and has absolute authority; in short, he is just like the Pope of Rome.

Constantinople has issued several other documents, Tomoi, of autocephaly over the past century: Poland, Albania, Czechia, besides Ukraine; and Serbia and others shortly before these. These texts assert the special rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople, that the new Local Churches must submit to the EP for major decisions on ecclesial, dogmatic or canonical matters. The EP sets itself up as the “highest juridical authority” in regards to appeals, and their decisions are not subject to revision. Thus it has authority over all the other Churches, which are required to submit to Constantinople.

Thus the autocephalies of the various Churches, including Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Georgian, in addition to the above, are only relative. For example, the cancellation of the decree of 1686 ceding the Kievan Metropolitanate to Moscow, is perfectly legitimate in the system of the EP, as was the division of the Church in Estonia. Now the Serbian Church has to consider the future of the schismatic groups in Macedonia and Montenegro, and the Georgian Church the status of Abkhazia. All of these are schisms waiting for a resolution.

Constantinople claims full authority over the so-called “diaspora,” including places where other Churches have long established canonical jurisdictional structures, especially North America and western Europe. On one hand, this is an attempt to bring order out of chaos. But the reality is that because of migration patterns, the various national Churches have set up churches in these areas to serve their people, who wish to be part of their home Churches, albeit in a foreign land. The new tomoi of autocephaly forbid the Local Churches from setting up parishes, much less dioceses, in the “diaspora”, as all those territories belong to Constantinople as “barbarian lands.” The fates of the American dioceses set up by Alexandria, Jerusalem and Ukraine, and the threats against the Georgian diocese in the US, are an example of what must be expected. All these external communities are ultimately transferred to Constantinople.

The policy of Constantinople reduces the autocephaly of the Local Churches to a vague autonomy, without full authority either within or outside their national borders. This is not the conciliar/synodal understanding of what an autocephalous Church is, or how it operates..

There are two very different sets of interpretation of the canons. The EP bases their set of presuppositions on their own interpretation of the canons. This began in the 1920’s, when Meletios Metaxakis was Patriarch of Constantinople, and has expanded ever since. The other approach to the interpretation of the canons is in such books as the Rudder, by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, which strictly maintains the full independence and integrity of each Local autocephalous Church. The first hearkens back to the context of the Roman Empire, when Constantinople was the imperial capital, and was invested with a level of dignity and authority that came from being the Imperial Church. This authority was perhaps even strengthened in the centuries after the Ottoman conquest, when the Patriarchate of Constantinople was the head of the Ottoman millet, in which he headed the whole Orthodox community of the empire. At this time, the other patriarchates were suppressed and he had immense authority. The only major Orthodox country to escape this was Russia. It was for this reason that the Balkan countries and Georgia had to have their autocephalies recognized or renewed after their liberation from the Ottoman yoke. Constantinople itself has never escaped the Turkish Yoke.

The other set of canonical interpretations, based in St. Nicodemos and the Rudder, have evolved in the new situation of the Churches in newly formed nation states. Despite the rise of Communism and the oppression of the Church by the Socialists, the Local Churches have jealously guarded their autocephaly, and operated as independent units. Orthodoxy became a body defined by conciliarity, or synodality. Each Synod has its own primate, differing from Church to Church in authority. The primacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople is largely symbolic, a primacy of honor and first among equals, but without any kind of universal jurisdictional authority. Each Church strives to maintain the integrity of the Tradition in a consensus of mutual accountability.

Orthodoxy rejected the assertion of universal jurisdiction and authority by the Papacy.

Today, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is raising the same issues that Hildebrandt did a thousand years ago, resulting in the schism with Rome. While these doctrines may not have been defined in a conciliar context, they have been played out in the Ukrainian schism, and in the documents of several Local autocephalous Churches; not to mention being put into print in synodal documents. This is a huge conflict of vision and ideology.

One of the more interesting issues with Ukraine is the role of the Roman, and particularly, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. There is much that unites the schismatic group with the Uniates, especially a strong nationalist fervor and ideology. They also are pushing for a church that is in union both with Rome and Constantinople. There has already been widely published concelebration between the two groups. However, I think it is important to note that if we, as Orthodox, accept a papal ecclesiology, why are we going to accept it from Constantinople and not from Rome itself?

This fiasco has brought Orthodoxy to crisis, a point of judgment. Do we submit to a universalist papal vision of the Church, with one final absolute authority that is ultimately accountable to no one? Or do we maintain the integrity of Orthodoxy as we have inherited it, a communion of autocephalous Churches whose unity is maintained by the Holy Spirit, in a spirit of mutual consensus and accountability?

It all comes down to one decision: whether to serve with the members of the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine and its head, “Metropolitan” Epiphany, or not.


  1. I can’t help wondering how Met Jonah’s valuable insight into the Phanar and her politics factors into his exit from the OCA into ROCOR.

    • Nikos stone says

      As a Orthodox lay person of greek origin I really not bothered why the Metropolitan moved house! His words stand by themselves.
      One does not have to be a big fan of Kyril of Moscow,I am not, but events and Orthodox belief speak for themselves.
      Constantinople is pushing a version of the Church which is papal, not Orthodox as I understanding the last 1000 yrs history of the Church, and if valid would call for union with Rome. Now I am all for union with Rome if Rome will come back to an Orthodox ecclesiology and quietly let fall it’s infalliable dogmatic statements and rest. I say this with all respect, but not while it remains in error and schism.

      In addition what ever the merits of my views, the way the EP has gone about matters and WITH WHOM is disgusting on a secular level and with someone like Denisenko, the lay person playing at priests at 90.! And has treated Moscow Patrarchate and legal Ukrainian autonomous church as a naughty errant Parish.
      Yes I am understanding why most churches sitting on fence because the implications are dire, BUT as in 1054 they are going to have to chose between Orthodoxy and Papalism AS WE ALL.

    • A final serious point the Metropolitan makes. By ‘ making good’ the sacramental authority of the schismatic and defrocked, Constantinople has called into question the sacramental authority, reality and order of the Church. As the good bishop says, if was just a question of church power politics, it would never be a’ good look’ but could be lived with as all the rest of the crap. But this is a question of the sacramental ecclesiology of the Church. Yes to the many whose idea of church is something that only concerns them for an hour,if that on Pascha night and the odd memorial, wedding or chrisening, if, all this is chinese to a monoglot Dutchman as they say, but I hope that this is not the level at which the Church runs, or is it?
      I will say this here, this is not a pro Kyril thing, i personally do not like him, a cardinal richlieu figures, but irrelevant. This is about remaining Orthodox or becoming papal. A clear choice and those in COMNUNION with Constantinople are giving aquiesence to a papal theoried church. To catholicism. This we need not wait to have facts. We have them in their own words.
      People like Anastasios of Albania, a good worthy man but in classic denial mode, Kallistos, more critical, BUT WHAT WILL HE DO?, I hope go to the ROCOR to which he has always been emotionally attached , well for them and us there is no hiding place. Constantinople is heretic in church doctrine for an Orthodox Christian..I can read, i can understand.

    • I am hoping by this posting I may get some discussion going on, as you are all Americans, the future of the Church in USA. And what do we need to build a future for the Church.
      I would hestitate to pontificate on yr needs but I am widely travelled in yr Great country and have greek american son in law and am Anglo Greek and know personally a greek priest in new York state Parish. So i have courage to be shot down.

      I also just read the tomos of EP re Ukraine.

      If it was as stated, the reality, then I would be in post coital bliss, marital I better say, and harmony
      But Sadly this document is EXACTLY what is killing the Church, IT’S LA LA LAND MEETS UKRAINIAN MAFIA.
      It bears no relationship to reality. Now i worked in Uk clinically in the NHS long enough to know that reality and official policy documents have a large gap between them, but even to have a laugh, there has to be some linkeage.
      I have already posted re events in Ukraine so will not repeat except to say that the whole business shows the Church as a Church is NOT FIT FOR PURPUSE RE GOVERNANCE. Let us hope it is spiritually.

      But to get to USA. It is obvious to any one who gives it a second’ s thought that to progress in USA there needs to be ONE UNITED CHURCH, to cut down on costs if nothing else.
      Now i am BORED WITH how we got here cos we are as and where we are, and as a good USA mitlitary friend is fond of saying, “it is what it is”.
      And as another general comment, there is a counter contra ethnic trend that seeks to remove the rich heritage of custom and food that give a human background to the faith for people to express themselves. This has nothing to do with language. I see clearly re memorials, that many converts, and not just, never do them or think they are some ethnic custom unrelated to them and they reduce the Church to a cerebral discussion. They do not understand that this physical warm expression of faith was lost at the reformation and even in post Treat Council Catholicism and that they are seeing things through protestant colouring. The issue is how to bring traditional american custom and food to the table too, so to build on it. This may seem trivial but is not. If a convert family does not develop this wider expression of faith,of expression of faith in feast and fasting, nothing will be built for the next generation . Of course we all know these outward things can become the main attraction , but abuse as it were of something is no basis for an arguement. Like saying ban perscription drugs as widely abused.
      I know in my life how in Uk even without initially a church, this house church expressed in icons, greek language and dyed eggs and the Easter table and the vasilopita etc etc gave me a depth on which to build my faith intellectually .

      Ditto language. The language of the Church in USA needs to be english, not token BUT FULL and good quality poetic english too. However this does not say that greek, etc need be banned. They should be available and used where needed and requested . We live in different age today. They are in Uk for example many well educated Greeks,Romanians, etc who speak fluent english, but want to be able to worship in Romanian etc. The key difference is if the priest can or cannot speak english. I had in July on a uk visit, my parent’s memorial done in Romanian church as literally across road from me and good priest who works as engineer whose english is fluent. I was more than happy to have memorial in Romanian. Where this western obscession to be stood with books reading every word. PREPARE IT AT HOME.
      More to the point what disturbed me was that in this english major southern port city, there is an established greek Parish, with a priest there from Germany previously, now for 12 yrs there, who speaks no english or shows any interest , a newly established Russian Parish and now a Romanian. Is there hope???

      It strikes me that in USA you have a legal path to autocephaly, the OCA. By Orthodox ecclesiology OCA is an autocephalous church. Granted by it’s mother Church, the Church of Russia in 1970.
      You know I am totally positive that in Ukraine if the Church of Russia had granted autocephaly to it’s legal autonomous church, it would be the self same EP that would be denying it. And its land grab. Greeks BEARING GIFTS. Greeks with betting bowel more likely. Well there is that other greek saying about don’t give a poor man too many blankets or he will take them and run away.

      Some years ago George wrote a very good book about the Church in USA and its future. Very good book I recommend.
      To say there can be no future for the Church as a whole in USA, apart from quiet ethnic cult, if nothing changes, is to state the obvious .
      We live in an age where the default position is to be secular and anti- Christian and this is the world young Orthodox will and are finding and if they have no family support they will fall by the wayside. Indeed even with, they may fall, but without, for sure.

      Constantinople has provided poor governance for the Churches it is responsible for with negative results. Yes it’s position is trajic but saving it should not result in Church being critically damaged.

      • Nikos,

        As for the future of the Church in America, I happen to believe that Fr. Alexander Webster says it best.

        …our primary ecclesial task in America is to resist the radicals and their pernicious unOrthodox “theologies” and “moral” insights from a firm, unwavering, traditional Orthodox base.

        This is the basis of genuine unity in the Holy Spirit. Most, though not all, of the rest is pettiness by comparison.

        I also believe that in the course of time, the unity not only of those who remain in the Orthodox Faith, but of all who truly believe in Christ may well come about through our faithful resistance as Orthodox Christian faithful. As the apostasy of the institutional structures of the various Christian sects gradually becomes undeniably evident to those who maintain faith in Christ (wherever they come from), they will be looking for His Church. We must be the Church, submissive to our Lord in the Tradition (abiding presence of His Holy Spirit) we have received. We must be the light of the world, however many or few in number. It is good and beautiful for brothers to dwell in unity, but we must never allow false unity to become a substitute for truth,

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Nikos, some excellent points.

        From my perspective as an active Presbyterian from baptism in 1948 until formal conversion 5 years ago, albeit one who had studied Orthodoxy and often attended Orthodox services for decades, I see it as probably impossible for one such as me to become fully Orthodox in practice, or, shall we say, mentality. Many Protestant viewpoints and habits of mind will always remain. This does not trouble me, because I cannot see how it could be otherwise. Serious and devout Protestant Christians are not babes in the woods about Christianity, however short of Orthodoxy they may fall
        – and whatever many Orthodox may think.

        I can only do my best, with God’s help. I am Orthodox. But, I will never believe that St. Paul wrote the letter to the Hebrews, and I am not much for the Protoevangelon of James. Conventional Orthodox hagiography does not convince me much. The Great Apostle had to cross dangerous rivers at risk of his life, after cold nights without cloak or food– he was not given to float over such obstacles!

        Keep in mind also that almost all converts in the West will come from a developed Western Christian tradition, in which they will be well-steeped, inasmuch as it the devout who will convert. I think this creates something of an often-unspoken fear of such converts in the Church.

        My son who was in his late 30s at the time of conversion is already a better Orthodox than I am, and his children are being raised in the Faith from very young ages. They will be better!

        • Tim yes so true and really we all in same boat cos sometimes candle Orthodox more non Orthodox minded than any converts and worse they lack Insight . I try my best but includes me too 

      • And so coming re church in republic of macedonia where we have a new country seeking it’s own church AKA Ukraine, BUT here the EP refuses to recognise the macedonia church for one, AS LONG AS THE WORD MACEDONIAN is in the title!!
        That is a theologically arguement for sure!!!
        I am sure we will all be happy if, as i saw on visit, the thriving parishes and monasteries there are reduced to a Kosovo or Soumala, or St Andrew’s of northern Cyprus . This double faced nationalism parading as religion will destroy the Church, reducing it to a farce.

  2. Mark E. Fisus says

    Metropolitan Emeritus Jonah, bless his heart, demonstrates an aptitude for vocations other than the primatial office. In opining on this topic, he has added no new insight, and I dare not imagine what would have come to pass if he had uttered these words while still in office. The approach of the current metropolitan is more circumspect — just continue commemorating the same hierarchs we have heretofore commemorated, and keep on praying.

    • Friend yes head in sand. Bartholomaios ihas ACTIVELY carried out papal church governance and as in 1054 claiming authority that relates to him personally as Patriarch of Constantinople above and over the Church. He has with no repentence etc recognised a church led by a legally, recognised by him,defrocked bishop and married man with a mafia like record and broken Orthodox church sacramental ecclesiology and reduced in his eyes the legal autonomous church to a non existent body, and is claiming that autocephaly already given can be held and used and altered by Hin above the Church as he is ‘ first without equal.’ If people think this is quite in order, they are clearly in the wrong church. .

      • Saint Paisios of Mount Athos supports you Nikos:

        Saint Paisios of Mount Athos on the Administration of the Church:

        “The Orthodox Church was always administered by Synods. According to the Orthodox spirit, the Church is administered by Synods and the Monasteries by the Assembly of the Elders. Decisions are reached jointly by the archbishop and the Synod, and by the abbot or abbess and the Assembly of Senior monastics. The archbishop is first among equals. And the Patriarch is not a Pope; he and the other hierarchs have the same rank. While the Pope’s rank is different — he sits up high and others kiss his feet — the Patriach sits together with all the other hierarchs and his work is to coordinate. This is also the relationship between an abbot or abbess and the members of the Assembly of Elders; they are first among equals.

        An arichbishop or an abbot cannot do anything they want. God will enlighten the mind of a hierarch on one issue and the mind of an Elder on another. It works like it did with the four Evangelists who complemented each other. Here too, each person will state his opinion, and if someone disagrees, his dissent will be recorded in the minutes. Especially in cases where a decision is contrary to the commandments of the Gospel, those who disagree should have their dissent recorded, for otherwise it will appear as if the decision was unanimous. If this person signs the document without recording his objection, he has actually caused harm and stands to blame. But if he makes his opinion public, even if the majority disagrees, he will be in good standing with God. When the Synod and the Assembly of Elders do not function well, the Orthodox spirit gives way and the papist spirit takes over. It’s in the nature of the Orthodox spirit that each and every person has the right to speak his mind; no one should refrain from speaking out of fear in order to flatter a superior, or because they want to be in good terms with the archbishop or the abbot.”

        Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Counsels I: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, pages 361-2. (2007, 2nd edition English translation, Holy Monastery “Evangelist John the Theologian”, Thessaloniki, Greece.




        • Paisios Eznepidis (1924–1994) said “Zionists want to rule the earth. To achieve their ends they use black magic and Satanism” (Speeches, Vol. 2, Suroti, Thessalonia, 1999, p. 99; Hellas Frappe Blogspot, July 2011)   (See   condemnation of Paisios in  staid, center right newspaper Kathimerini, “Para-religious fetishism”  Pantelis Boukalas, July 18,  2017.)

          • Monk James Silver says

            George Kender Comney (February 6, 2019 at 1:45 pm)says:

            Paisios Eznepidis (1924–1994) said “Zionists want to rule the earth. To achieve their ends they use black magic and Satanism” (Speeches, Vol. 2, Suroti, Thessalonia, 1999, p. 99; Hellas Frappe Blogspot, July 2011) (See condemnation of Paisios in staid, center right newspaper Kathimerini, “Para-religious fetishism” Pantelis Boukalas, July 18, 2017.)

            This accusation is false, in spite of its citations and attribution to St Paisios Eznepidis.

            But if, big IF, St Paisios ever said such a thing, he was mistaken, and ay the Lord forgive him his slander.

          • Antiochene Son says

            Zionists already rule the earth.
            Leaders from virtually every major power in the world go to Jerusalem to wear kippahs and put their hands on the Wailing Wall and lay wreaths for the Holocaust (saying nothing about the slaughter of 10 times as many Christians as Jews in the last century, because to imply anything in history was worse than the Holocaust is anti-Semitic).
            The freshman class of the US Congress goes to Jerusalem every two years to learn how things are done.
            Every US President who has run on an anti-war/anti-intervention platform (including Bush, Obama, and Trump) invariably ends up in wars that align with Israeli interests.
            The current US President spent more time at the State of the Union talking about the Holocaust than about US border security.
            Followers of “Judeo-Christianity” condemn actual Christians to hell if they don’t support the Israeli government.
            In a large and growing number of US states, you can be fired from government jobs or your company can be barred from government contracts if you do not offer full and unwavering support for the Israeli government. A bill to this effect also just passed in the US Senate by a 3/4 margin, despite being a violation of the 1st amendment.

        • Thank you I am humbled. I am a not very good Orthodox Christian but at least I know what I should aspire to. I take no Joy in what i have to say,especially as a greek re Phanar, but the truth is the truth. They are sound a 1870 Rome grab and for same reasons 

  3. Alitheia1875 says

    Hmmmmm, about 100 years ago, when Meletios Metaxakis, the arch Mason, made a deal with his cousin Eleftherios Venizelos, the arch secularist, have the EP control the Greek communities in the US, Hmmm, about the same time the traditional partistic calendar was revised and only Constantinople and Greece accepted the western calendar. Just saying…..l

    • The letter of the former Metropolitan is superb and needs to be circulated widely. It is not a question ofvreek or Russian but of Orthodoxy clear and simple. As he says with all due respect, if we want a Pope we will go for the real one in ROME. This is a massive crisis. Those who think this is a arguement between clerics need to sit up and take note and take it now.

    • Constantinos says

      What on earth is an “arch Mason?” Metaxakis is listed as a member of the Grand Lodge of Greece. It’s totally meaningless. In all likelihood, he probably never set foot in a lodge after he was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. There is only one reason that Orthodoxy denigrates freemasonry, and that is sheeple control. Masonry encourages free thinking, and the last thing the Orthodox Church wants is people who are free and independent thinkers. In this respect, Orthodoxy resembles the various cults. Old calendar? Who cares about calendars?
      The only reason I came into the Orthodox Church was to worship Christ more fully, not to be told how I must think or to worship the clergy . The big problem in the Orthodox Church is abusive clericalism. A clergy man is no better than you and me, neither is he closer to God.
      An extremely abusive, arrogant clergy man would occasionally post on this forum. He was a jerk of the first order. My spiritual father is a kind and good man, but it is difficult for me to listen to him because he doesn’t know anywhere near as much as me. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, but I spend four hours every night doing brain building exercises such as studying physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, thermodynamics, mechanical engineering, calculus, and all the hard sciences. I believe the mind is a muscle and we should develop it to its fullest potential. I recommend that all Orthodox Christians visit the website brilliant. org, start using their God created minds, and stop acting like sheeple.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Constantinos, the soul also needs nourishing. I suspect if you spent the same four hours in prayer, you might think differently?

      • Dear Constantine, since you appreciate learning- a Great thing- to know why Masonry is deadly, request”Why the Orthodox Church has condemned many of the teachings of freemasonry: a pastoral approach.” EVERY saint who ever commented on masonry said, ‘have nothing to do w it.” It is not a matter of the members, most of whom do not know what the Lodge’s official teaching is, but What the official teaching Is – at min., 500x more serious than arianism.
        free thinking is Great, i am a meber of That club and if didn’t know better, Would also, be a mason as was my beloved father until he knew better and left. My beloved Papou was one only because they knew then, that their Patriarch was one- confusion! There is no fellowship between dark & light. Let us stand well and aright – we will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ..
        an extreme can be dangerous esp, when it is led by the deceptive one/poniro.
        Pray for us.
        Our God Jesus Christ wins!

        Most respectfully,

        • Constantinos says

          Father Pepps,
          I appreciate your gentlemanly demeanor, and your kind response. When you say most of the members don’t know what the Lodge’s official teaching is, you couldn’t be more mistaken. As far as what you said about the saints, they also expressed belief in conspiracy theories along with anti- semitism. They were never infallible guides.
          If anyone wants to know what freemasonry really teaches, there is only one source of reliable information, and that is the Grand Lodge of every state. Throughout the years, freemasonry has been a source of much good. Every Blue Lodge member knows exactly what freemasonry teaches. Actually , membership in masonry can lead one to Christ because the Lodge encourages active church participation. Many people have found Christ after they joined the Lodge. Millions of Christian Masons see no conflict between membership in the lodge and their relationship with Christ. The Church condemns freemasonry out of religious bigotry. intolerance, and anti- semitism.
          I’m sorry your father left the lodge; in my opinion he made a great mistake. Your grandfather was a wiser man . As you know, the late Alex Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers was a thirty third degree mason. He never renounced his involvement. He was a pillar of the Greek Orthodox Church. I can guarantee some of these Orthodox Christian Masons will be numbered with the saints.
          I tend not to listen to cave dwellers. My late grandfather was a thirty third degree Mason, and I’ve never met a more saintly man. My late grandmother was a member of the Eastern Star, and she was a remarkable saint. My grandfather said to me when I was a young lad,” I hope that when you and your brothers are older, you will join the lodge; it’s a wonderful organization.
          To be logically consistent, the Church must ban membership in the Boy Scouts because freemasonry and the Boy Scouts are one and the same. The Boy Scouts are freemasonry with training wheels. Just two examples of Eagle Scouts who became thirty third degree Masons are former President Ford, and Senator Sam Nunn. Of course the American Cincinatus was an active freemason right up until his death. Remember, Father, neither the Orthodox Church nor the saints are infallible.The Orthodox Church is wrong in this area just as it is wrong in other areas such as allowing divorce and remarriage in direct contravention our Lord’s explicit command. The prelates of the Orthodox Church don’t have the wisdom to apply oikonomia. It is most refreshing to see this kind of gentlemanly, kind behavior coming from an Orthodox priest. You and Father Webster are a- okay in my book. Please read the book Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? Remember, scratch and anti- mason and you find an anti- semitic bigot. Thanks again for your gracious post.

          • Constantinos: “Every Blue Lodge member knows exactly what freemasonry teaches.”

            Then could you list the main points of the freemasonry teachings, please?

            Constantinos: “Actually , membership in masonry can lead one to Christ because the Lodge encourages active church participation. ”

            Same way as it encourages active synagogue and mosque participation?

            • Constantinos says

              Hi Martin,
              I can’t speak for freemasonry; only the Grand Lodge in each state can do that. I would recommend the book Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? Also, you can go to any Grand Lodge’s web site for all the information you need.

              • Constantinos: “I can’t speak for freemasonry; only the Grand Lodge in each state can do that.”

                So much for free thinking and free speech? I can state what I believe freely and openly.

                • Constantinos says

                  I can do whatever I want. If you are sincerely interested in freemasonry,contact your Grand Lodge, or a local Blue Lodge. Also, take the time to read the book Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry. I believe you are not asking me questions in good faith; on the contrary, you are trying to play a silly little game called Gotcha. You know what I really think? You are sore because you applied for membership, but you were rejected, and have been harboring a grudge against freemasonry ever since. It’s not my responsibility to educate you or anyone else about anything.I’m merely suggesting that if you want answers, go right to the source, and that is the Grand Lodge in your state, or you can also check out the site Masonicinfo. No one speaks for freemasonry.

                  • Constantinos: “You are sore because you applied for membership, but you were rejected, and have been harboring a grudge against freemasonry ever since.””

                    I never was interested. And I did not want to play “a silly little game called Gotcha”.

                    Let me say then what I believe.

                    1 Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to the salvation.

                    2. He is the incarnate God, perfectly divine and human in one person.

                    3. The life full of good deeds and fulfillment of duties is not sufficient for salvation. Salvation cannot be earned, it is a gift out of loving kindness.

                    4. All are welcome to join the Church of Christ – all races, men and women alike and the destitute poor. Contrite sinners especially.

                    5. The Christian teachings are open and accessible to the people outside the Church

                    6. The holy sacraments are the carriers of God’s saving grace.

                    7. Holy Trinity is the only true God, triune and one in essence. To Him only we owe adoration, worship and praise.

                    8. We are not to judge other people, God is the only Judge, just and merciful.

                    9. No man is infallible, yet God enlightens everyone who is humble and turns to Him with a contrite heart.

                    10. God is present everywhere and always. He is the Creator of all beings and sustaining them continuously in existence. He Himself is beyond comprehension and above all categories, but knowable as a Person by the pure hearts.

                    I could write more, but let it be enough for now.

                    • Constantinos says

                      I agree 100% with every one of your statements about the nature of God and salvation. I guess the big issue may be with my feelings toward many in the clergy. My hostility is based on painful, personal experience. Perhaps, I will explicate my negative experiences at some point .Of course, I do bring some bias with me when it comes to the clergy, but it also has to do with the nature of church government. Let me put it this way: I believe completely in the Nicene Creed.

          • Zeb Condriles says
      • Fr Chris Moody says

        Constantinos,please allow me to dialogue with your response. Please do not take my response in a wrong manner. I wish only the best and your reconsideration of some of your statements.

        What on earth is an “arch Mason?” Metaxakis is listed as a member of the Grand Lodge of Greece. It’s totally meaningless. In all likelihood, he probably never set foot in a lodge after he was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason. There is only one reason that Orthodoxy denigrates freemasonry, and that is sheeple control.

        No. Actually it is canonically condemned. Not sheeple control. Masonry is an alternative faith. Hence the reason why it has it’s own altar. It is antichristian and more akin to the french revolution than the Christian gospel.

        Masonry encourages free thinking, and the last thing the Orthodox Church wants is people who are free and independent thinkers.

        NO. It denies the exclusivity of Christ. The philosophy of those who philosophize according to Christ, at least according to St. Gregory Palamas, does not discourage true thinking.
        Sounds like yo are lodging a complaint against the narrowness of Jesus’s gospel. Strait is the gate.

        In this respect, Orthodoxy resembles the various cults.

        Please. The liberal mindset of the decadent west is a cult – ure of death which embraces this masonry.

        Old calendar? Who cares about calendars?

        Logically, then just celebrate Pascha on your own date if it doesn’t matter!

        The only reason I came into the Orthodox Church was to worship Christ more fully, not to be told how I must think or to worship the clergy .

        Please. Nobody states that. God condemned this attitude with Dathan and Abirim, when they rebelled against Moses and said we are all holy…..

        The big problem in the Orthodox Church is abusive clericalism. A clergy man is no better than you and me, neither is he closer to God.

        He should be. Otherwise he is merely a titular priest. A true priest is an odigos, one who leads into the mysteries. That is the meaning of a hierarch, a source of sanctification. Not in and of himself. But by his ordination and the gift of God laid on him by the laying on hands, a gift he as a pastor is to stir up and pass on to others. You cannot do that only the bishop can and the presbyters by economia.

        An extremely abusive, arrogant clergy man would occasionally post on this forum. He was a jerk of the first order.
        May God have mercy on our failings. Js.3.1

        My spiritual father is a kind and good man, but it is difficult for me to listen to him because he doesn’t know anywhere near as much as me.

        Hebrews 13.7,17 are very instructive.

        I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, but I spend four hours every night doing brain building exercises such as studying physics, chemistry, electrical engineering, thermodynamics, mechanical engineering, calculus, and all the hard sciences.

        Spend 4 hrs praying. It will draw grace. For knowledge puffeth up but charity edifies.

        The church teaches gnosis comes from repentance and stillness, not intellectual exercise. Though we do not denigrate it.

        I believe the mind is a muscle and we should develop it to its fullest potential. I recommend that all Orthodox Christians visit the website brilliant. org, start using their God created minds, and stop acting like sheeple.

        You are a sheep called to follow a God appointed pastor,sheoherd, who will give account for his failure or success in leading you. The tassles on an epitrachelion are very heavy.
        Pray for us clergy.
        Respectfully, in Christ, fr. Christopher


        Speak Your Mind Cancel reply

        • Constantinos says

          Father Moody,
          I appreciate your lengthy reply to my post. I know freemasonry is canonically condemned out of complete ignorance. Freemasonry speaks for itself. It does not deny Jesus Christ. It is not a religion, nor a substitute for it. You will know them by their fruits. The fruits of freemasonry are very good indeed. Twenty Shriners Hospitals for children in America. The greatest American George Washington was active in masonry until his death. His wife, Martha, sent a lock of his hair to each Grand Lodge of every state in existence at the time. Freeemasonry is the handmaiden of religion. The Church does not have the competence to judge masonry one way or the other. There are millions of Christians who see no conflict with their faith and membership in the lodge.
          As far as prayer goes, I’m not a monk, but I have devotions every morning and read one chapter of the Bible every day for well over forty years. Throughout the day, I pray the Jesus Prayer. In fact, I can’t live without it.
          As far as brain building goes, I wasn’t altogether accurate. I actually spend three and one half hours studying the hard sciences. After all that mental exercise, I relax by reading biographies of geniuses. Right now, I’m reading three biographies about Albert Einstein. When I listen to music, I listen to Bach because of his mathematical precision in point and counterpoint. Through this improvement in my mental acuity, I’m able to do more good than I otherwise would. I’ll admit it leaves me little time for community involvement. I want to join the Pilgrim Society Mayflower Descendants, and the Old Colony Club. By the way, I worship in Church every Sunday without fail. I’m a mechanical engineering by degree and training. Due to my love of cars, I own five car and truck dealerships, an auto parts store, a hotel, and several commercial properties. It’s possible that a little intelligence was involved along with good fortune. When I first went into business, I started a transmission shop. My had a small GMC dealership. When he saw how hard I worked, he offered me his dealership for a very small price. I purchased some land and built my first GMC garage. My property was fairly isolated, but due to good fortune, a shopping mall was built right behind my garage, and then a Lowes went in across from me. Since then I have acquired other dealerships at different locations, but I’m still a mechanical engineer at my core. I’m a scientist by nature.

          • sub deacon robert john john klancko says

            Just got out of the hospital. Presbyterian hospital in n c. Could not find a Greek Orthodox hospital. Give to the Shriners hospital no Greek Orthodox hospital to be found. How about the maronite hospital founded by Amos Jacobs. Where is the antiochian wing at St Jude’s. Oh there is none. Do what Christianity are we espousing?

          • Fr Chris Moody says

            Yes masonry does deny the exclusive divinity of Christ . It is not by misinformation that it is condemned. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and imbibe these half truths to paraphrase the apostle. It is by definition a different religion. It has ots own altar. That should cause you to flee and run. So it is not that I am leading sheeple Constantinos. The masonic religion substitutes truth with perennialism. While philanthropic deeds may be done, they are not energized by God’s Spirit, according to scripture.
            I would advise one to beware of vain philosophy like the inspired apostle warned and the fathers after him. It does not lead to Christ but to a ditch.
            An hour in prayer unlocks more sofia than years in books.
            The Lord bless.

            • Constantinos says

              Father Moody,
              First, I want to thank you for your service to our country. I’m sorry but I must disagree with you. Masonry does not deny the exclusive divinity of Christ. It leaves that up to the individual brother. It is not a religion because it has no dogma, or plan of salvation.
              Also, I would add that Masonry has never led anyone to atheism or agnosticism. How many former Orthodox Christians are now atheists and agnostics? I would say quite a few. I would suggest you may find the book Is It True What They Say About Freemasnry ? by thirty third degree Mason Brent Morris ( who is a devout Christian I might add). Thank you for your blessing.

            • Constantinos says

              Father Moody,
              I would like to add that if I people followed your suggestions about knowledge we wouldn’t have the electric light bulb, the computer, cell phones, or any of the modern conveniences we enjoy. These marvelous inventions all take intelligence, brain power, and wisdom not found in the Bible, but in science. What would this world be like if we didn’t have geniuses?
              One thing about you that concerns me is you apparently support the Ephraim Monasteries. I sincerely hope you don’t believe in the gnostic toll houses. I mean you did defend the monasteries in a post on Orthodox Christian Laity.

              • Dear Constantinos,
                Have you not heard the expression, ” don’t bite the hand that feeds you”?

              • lexcaritas says

                Dear to Christ Constantinos, to leave the matter of the divinity of Christ up to each brother is implicitly to deny it or pretend that it is a matter of subjective preference rather than objective fact. Let’s say then that His divinity is not affirmed in masonry as it must be by all who are in Christ.

                Your assertion about not having light bulb,s, computers, cell phones and other modern conveniences is mixing matters of the physical realm in which science and engineering have their applicability versus matters that are known only by revelation because the uncreated God has revealed them in and through His Son and through the Tradition (including the Holy Scriptures). In these realms science and engineering are not competent to say much except by analogy.

                Blessed are the poor in spirit (and the little children) for of them is the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us all take care to limit our idle words for which our Lord says we will stand in judgment, and let us beware of the “leaven of the Pharisees” which is pride and hypocrisy. Pray for me, a sinner.

                Christ is in our midst,

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Very well said. I believe it was the late Rev Richard John Neuhaus who said “if orthodoxy becomes optional, it becomes unnecessary”.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Constantinos your statement that the technology of modernity would not exist if more people paid attention to their souls is just not defensible. We might very well have many of the same technology but more human versions of them.

                Your bias against knowledge that does not appear empiracally based blinds you to a greater reality.

                In fact our world will is founded on the death and Resurection of Jesus Christ. Any science or philosophy which ignores or denies that will have only limited use and eventually will become anti-human.

            • Fr. Peter M. Dubinin says

              Fr. Chris – Your response to masonry is spot on and filled with grace. Our clergy need to more intentionally examine the faithful on this matter and teach, counsel accordingly. As for masons having more charitable works than the Orthodox, this might not be the case if the faithful supported the Church as our Lord instructs. Thanks again Father.

              • Constntinos says

                Father Dubinin,
                I’m sorry but you are totally mistaken The reason you are mistaken is very simple. It boils down to the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts were founded by the freemason Daniel Beard. To be logically consistent, the Orthodox Church must ban membership in Scouting because their religious principles are identical to freemasonry. Robert Baden Powell, the founder of Scouting in England taught exactly as Daniel Beard did in America.
                The principles of Scouting is that it is non sectarian, Scouts must believe in a Supreme Being, and respect people of other religions. When you send your kids to the Boy Scouts they are being inculcated with freemasonry. If you do a little research, you will find that most Masons had their start in Scouting. It is a seamless from Scouting to the Lodge. Senator Sam Nunn is a classic example. He was an Eagle Scout, and is now a thirty third degree Mason. There are many more examples I could enumerate.
                Our Lord and Savior said a good tree cannot produce bad fruit. And what are the fruits of masonry? Pillars of the community, devout leaders in the Church. and the most generous, benevolent fraternity in world history. Father ,with all due respect, you don’t have the faintest idea what you are talking about.When the Orthodox Church forbids membership in the Boy Scouts, then, and only then, will I take you seriously. So no , Father, he is not spot on

                . .

                • Costa,

                  Read this, please about the Boy Scouts.

                  Indeed, our Lord did say, Our Lord and Savior said a good tree cannot produce bad fruit. Nothing against what the Boy Scouts largely once were, but this is where such ‘inclusive’ philosophies of ‘improvement’ of the human person always ultimately lead.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    I agree with everything Prof. Siewers says in the linked article, but disagree completely with your implication that this was inevitable in Boy Scouts itself.
                    In the 1950s and ’60s we had an incredible Scout troop; we did 50 mile hikes every summer, the Wonderland Trail at Mt. Rainier, in the Olympics, etc. Our Scoutmaster was a dispatcher for the Northern Pacific and could get the trains stopped in the Winter mountains for snow camping, on and on. We went to summer camp at Hood Canal in Puget Sound; the same camp my dad had gone to, and that my own sons went to.
                    All gone with the wind. The camp of generations sold– only 14% of the active troops used it anymore.

                    A great tragedy, and no– it didn’t have to happen. The organization at the top, and at other levels, was lead by cowards, who gave in to the cowards who attacked it.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Two of my nephews made Eagle Scout. We are immensely proud of them. However, the Boy Scouts are now on an irrevocable and inevitable decline.

                    • Tim,

                      While I agree with you in general (I was Scout at one time, BTW), my point is that any organization that isn’t Christ-centered is wide open to such a deviation of values. It is not enough to be about self-improvement or even about ‘God’ if that ‘God’ is not identified as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. At one time, the God to whom we pledged was assumed by virtually all to be the Father of Christ (or at least the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), but that was only a long-held general cultural assumption. It was not something taught or required in Scouting. Thus, as went the culture, so went Scouting.

                      It is in this sense that I see it as inevitable.

                  • Constantinos says

                    Thank you for kindly pointing me to this excellent article. May I make a couple of points? First of all, I enjoy reading viewpoints that are in opposition to my own.
                    After the polemics on this forum denigrating membership lodge as being antithetical to Christian, I said to myself, “but the kindest, nicest people to me as a boy in the Episcopal Church were both freemasons.”
                    It dawned on me yesterday, the reason was probably because my grandfather was a masonic brother of theirs.
                    Okay, I happened to be on former Catholic priest Francis MacNutt’s healing ministry web site. He is a member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. He had a page on the occult; it featured books written by fundamentalist Christians like John Ankerberg condemning the lodge. I said to myself about Francis MacNutt, ” you stupid idiot. If it wasn’t for freemasonry, there would be no Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and you wouldn’t have your healing ministry.”
                    The Charismatic Renewal came into the Catholic Church largely because of David Wilkerson’s (founder of Teen Challenge) book, ” The Cross and the Switchblade.” Pastor Wilkerson’s benefactor was the late thirty third degree mason W. Clement Stone. No W. Clement Stone, no Teen Challenge. No David Wilkerson, no Catholic Charismatic Renewal, No Catholic Charismatic Renewal, no Francis MacNutt healing ministry. By the way, the reason he left the priest hood was because he decide to marry and have children with his wife.
                    Life sure has some funny turns , doesn’t it?

          • Johann Sebastian says

            J.S. Bach was not a Mason…

            and many–if not all–of his manuscripts are notated with “SDG” in their bottom margins: Soli Deo gloria. Even the secular works.

            • Constntinos says

              Johann Sebastian,
              Who ever said he was a Mason? I only said he was a true genius, and that his music was mathematically precise.

          • Brother Constantinos,

            Your post embodies the “protestantized Orthodox Christian” phenomenon that is so incredibly common in the United States. Yet be aware that this phenomenon does not really exist elsewhere in the Orthodox world, and it will soon die out in America.

            Most “protestantized Orthodox Christians” who have no ethnic emotional ties to the Orthodox “old country” (meaning as you get to the 3rd/4th generations and further) end up simply leaving the Church. That is a well-documented fact.

            So many non-Orthodox Christians do wonderful things. I know many Mormons who are warm people with large families. I know many Muslims who are warm and loving as well. Sadly, I know many nominal Orthodox Christians (many in my own family) who are hurtful and vindictive (granted, these are Orthodox in name only, who never go to confession and who only go to church maybe once or twice a year — the ethnic Orthodox “by inertia” as I’ve heard them called).

            The fact that Mormons, Masons, Muslims, or whomever do wonderful things and are warm, gracious people has nothing to do with the truth of their faith.

            It’s been well documented that Masonry is inconsistent with being an Orthodox Christian. That is non-negotiable. If Orthodox bishops or faithful have been Masons in the past, then either they have been severely deluded, not well informed, wanting to better blend in with their western friends, or all of the above.

            The GOA’s AHEPA organization has its roots in Masrony as well — yet another problem with the GOA and its lack of authentic Orthodox Christian teaching, as if we need to recount any more problems with the GOA and Istanbul. My guess is that soon, tragically, the GOA and the Church in Istanbul/Constantinople will be formally designated by the rest of the Orthodox communion as officially outside of the body of the Church.

            • This re protestant Orthodoxy in USA is interesting because especially with greek church I as outsider, greek Orthodox Anglo- Greek, looking on.,and from personal experience, have thought this as explaining much.
              Not surprise that there would be this influence as this is USA Culture, even secular, as Culture of Greece,even secular, is Orthodox coloured. Problem is when it begin to colour and change the faith.

      • This is bad advice for the Orthodox.

        Participating in the cult of freemasonry is forbidden to us.

        I have university degrees in physics and philosophy and I certainly enjoy the exercise of linguistic rationality but it burns up like straw in the all-consuming fire of the divine presence.

        Unless you have professional reasons for pursuing such a rigorous course of mental self-development you would be better off spending those four hours in psalmody and, if your spiritual father approves it, the Jesus Prayer. Or alternately starting a meal for the homeless or vesperal gathering at your parish if your Priest approves.

        Faith, hope, and charity will save you. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving will save you. Having a more powerful mind will not save you, and if you take any pride in it once you have developed it, it may even damn you. A man proud of his great mental abilities is like a prisoner who is proud of his large cell.

        A clergyman may or may not be closer to God than you but your Priest and Bishop are given to you as divine gifts for your salvation and you would do well to take this more to heart than it seems like you have from this post.

        Forgive me for being so blunt in my assessments, especially if I have misjudged. We are indeed sheep; we prefer it to being goats.

        • Dear Sean,

          A good reminder for me, thank you. Another beautiful resource and pillar of our faith which has helped me realize the enormous difference between the spiritual mind and the secular intellect is reading the early Fathers and the Saints. Their wisdom and experience of that fire drive the point home and I can see how intellectual arrogance ruled/rules me. How blessed we are to have them. Our Orthodox book club has just finished St. Maximus’ Four Centuries on Love which is quite humbling and enlightening. Am sure a Confessor would know best for any individual. I sympathize with the confusion of all in our country, just grateful to have found an Archishop, priest, and then spiritual father, all of whom in life on the planet love(d) the Fathers.

      • Constantinos” “There is only one reason that Orthodoxy denigrates freemasonry, and that is sheeple control. ”

        You mean that masonry is manipulative by hiding its true teachings from the lower ranks of lodge members?

        But there are other reasons – deism, pelagianism, occult, syncretism and more …

        • Constantinos says

          Wrong Martin! There is no such thing as lower ranks of lodge members. The highest degree in freemasonry is Master Mason. There is no degree higher than the third degree. The Scottish Rite is an appendant body to blue lodge masonry. The Grand Master of any state can shut down any Scottish Rite body whenever he so chooses. There is no deism, pelagianism, occult, or sycretism, unless you are calling the very active freemason George Washington an occultist. How about thirty third degree former Senator Sam Nunn, a man whose integrity is second to none.?You have thirty third freemasons Presidential candidate Bob Dole, and Vice Presidential candidate, the late Jack Kemp. I certainly wish these thirty third degree masons had beaten the non Mason Bill Clinton. The only thing freemasonry does is make good men better along with being the most philanthropic fraternity in history.
          Martin, with all due respect, you don’t know the first thing about freemasonry. You speak out of ignorance. The mind is a terrible thing to waste, and you are a prime example of that truism. Please learn to read, study,and think for yourself , instead of repeating things said by ignorant ignoramuses. In all modesty, I know one thousand times more than you do about freemasonry. Your post is as ignorant as the day is long which is what I would expect from a bigoted, religious fundamentalist. I don;t mean to be harsh, but you just don’t know the faintest thing of what you are talking about. Better for you to stick with a subject you have some knowledge about. You certainly don’t the first thing about freemasonry, nor will you ever.

          • “I don;t mean to be harsh, but you just don’t know the faintest thing of what you are talking about.”

            One thing I know is sufficient. Freemasonry is a different religion than Christianity. You need to chose, Constantinos. I will pray for you.

            • I had an english friend , of a friend, who wanted to visit Bulgaria where i live and visit me here in so i did the kind greek thing and gave him hospitality. It was Easter 2017 and I had made plain that from great Thursday to Easter day thst would be focus.
              Visit was a disaster for many reasons so moral is never invite unknown folk into yr home!! But for point of post, i never discussed religion or expected him to come with me to Church.
              On Easter Sat suddenly unbidden he launched a long trade against Church and during this become clear that he was a mason and totally anti -Christian.

              Re national USA Orthodox. I attended Easter night with Chicago greek family who went, Sat in pew where we could not even see, chatted non -stop, stayed in pew,as many, when procession went outside, and then left. What was the point of this?? Luckily I had attended the morning liturgy and taken Communion.
              Dead, does not need to die, just needs the burial

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                Do not generalize from such experiences. In our GOA church, they do use pews, but they don’t chatter, and they all go on the procession, except, I suppose, the very infirm.

                I will humbly say that there are more than a few that leave after the procession…

          • Constantinos says

            Hi George,
            With all due respect, I really liked it better when people ignored me. Where’s Dr. Stankovich when you need him? I miss the guy! I’m coming off like a cocky, arrogant, know it all. That’s not good!

          • Constantinos says

            Hi George,
            Believe me, this is my last comment on the topic of freemasonry. There is a saying,” scratch an anti- mason and you’ll find an anti-semite.” Anti- masonry and anti- semitism fit hand and glove.
            As you know when Adolph Hitler came to power, the first thing he did was shut down the lodges, and kill the masons because he believed them to be a Jewish conspiracy. Logically, anti- masons are the descendants of Adolph Hitler.
            We all know the Orthodox Church and the Church of Rome have a long, disgraceful, sordid history of anti- semitism The Pope never excommunicated Hitler from the Catholic Church. The Jews in Europe were persecuted by Christian Europe for two centuries.
            This anti-masonic hate speech is not only evil, but very dangerous. With all this hateful rhetoric emanating from religious bigots, before long it could become dangerous for a mason to attend his local lodge during the week when they meet. Words have consequences, and these evil, vile words are very dangerous. That’s it, no more talk with ignorant, obscurantist, religious bigots for me. As for me, I made my salient points, and the subject is closed. Let the fundamentalist religious zealots and bigots speak their vile filth amongst each other. As for me, I’m shaking the dust off my feet. I have more important fish to fry. All you redneck yahoos are unworthy of even conversing with me. Christ had many words to say to you religious pharisees.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Costa, you might want to retract that a bit. I’ve known quite a few Masons and they were not exactly kumbaya types when it comes to race. Many in the KKK were proud Masons. Just sayin’.

            • Constantinos: “As you know when Adolph Hitler came to power, the first thing he did was shut down the lodges, and kill the masons because he believed them to be a Jewish conspiracy.”

              Where did you get this story about him killing masons? I heard that he persecuted Jehova Witnesses but it does not prove their doctrine.

  4. Superb!

    Bartholomew of Istanbul has made it a very simple choice.

    Either become schismatic (like Bartholomew of Istanbul) and serve with the false Ukrainian creation…..or stay true to Holy Orthodoxy.

    The local Churches must now decide.

  5. I remember when I was a child and being asked who was the head of my church. When I answered that it was Jesus, I would get the deer in the headlights look and then the follow up question of ” yeah, sure but who is in charge?” My answer was something like the bishops led by the Holy Spirit. The next question was usually, ” well, who is the head Bishop?” My response was always all bishops are equal.
    These days when I read about what is happening in the Ukraine I feel like Alice in the Looking Glass, what is up is now down and the absurd and bizarre is the new norm.
    Thank you to Metropolitan Jonah for your words that bring clarity to an issue that has been muddied by the waters of distraction.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Tanya, thank you for your poignant reply. The EP’s would throw a wrench in your reply wouldn’t it?

      The paplisn is that blatant.

  6. William Tighe says

    Whatever one thinks of the situation in Ukraine, the idea of the EP as “the default Orthodox papacy” seems to be to be a risible historical (and doctrinal) absurdity. The article’s penultimate, antepenultimate, and their preceding paragraph are of interest, although dragging “Hildebrandt” into it seems a bit gratuitous. Nevertheless, Metropolitan Jonah’s point is a good one:

    “I think it is important to note that if we, as Orthodox, accept a papal ecclesiology, why are we going to accept it from Constantinople and not from Rome itself?”

    Or, in other words,why is a fake papacy (which we may view as “the Patriarch’s new vestments” on the analogy of “the Emperor’s new clothes”) preferable to the real one? (A related question might be, “Why is ‘the real papacy’ seemingly so well-disposed towards towards the poseur?”)

    As a pedantic correction, Metropolitan Jonah should have written “the Rum millet” rather than “the Ottoman millet” in paragraph 19 of this posting.

    • With all due respect the current Constantinople leadership ARE putting forward and claiming papal power. IT IS A FACT. Leave aside the morally dubious Actors they playing with. And please do not bring in the cry, ‘ are we denouncing the good people who worship each Sunday?’ People attend their nearest church for a variety of mundane reasons and some because they are committment nationalistic etc. Just as during living church period in Russia, not all who attended at such churches were revisionist, BUT SOME WERE. the Church however has to state and teach correct belief and did and should now.

  7. “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible…make violent revolution inevitable.”(John F. Kennedy)

    And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity, on all flesh,” says the Lord. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”(Jeremiah 45:5)

    • Daniel Homiak says

      So in other words if you don’t let me walk all over you I’m going to beat the crap out of you.

  8. With all due respect, Constantinos, acknowledging that many of our American Founding Fathers were Masons, (along with my beloved Mozart and Haydn) and my own grandfather (one of the 33rd Degree, I think), one of the problems with Masonry is that its ceremonies are a liturgical replacement for the Holy Mysteries and offices of the Church and as you say, it encourages “free-thinking” –i.e. deism and gnosticism and ultimately makes everyone his own god. Pace what you may think, Christians cannot be free thinkers: we are bound by the Person and words of Christ God as handed on to us in Holy Tradition, including the Holy Scriptures as interpreted by the Church not any of us by private interpretation.

    In addition, it is not safe to say, as you assert, that “a clergyman is not better than you or me”. Indeed, he should be and whether he is or not his office places him in a position to which piety and respect are due and which is somewhat analogous to what the respect and pietas we owe our parents, forebears and all the saints.

    No doubt we should develop our brains, as well, but our brains our destined for dust just as the rest of our bodies. Truly they will rise again in the resurrection, transformed, but it is our hearts that are most in need of development for it is the pure of heart who shall see God and who shall be like Him when He appears for they shall then see Him as He is.

    Glory to Jesus Christ,
    lxc+ (Dcn)

    • George Michalopulos says

      Kudos. Lex!

      If I may open another tangent, I found out decades ago that so-called freethinkers are in reality beholden to whatever new orthodoxy courrant.

      True freethinkers (like Chesterton and Lewis) logically reason themselves into Christianity.

      • A portion of the Prayer To The Theotokos in the Prayers after Holy Communion from the Orthodox Daily Prayers, STS 2008
        “…Grant me compunction and contrition of heart, humility of thought, and a release from the slavery of my own reasonings.”
        How wise the Church is in giving us prayers that we didn’t know we needed until we pray them.
        My own reasonings are slavery indeed!

      • George exactly. Just as their tolerance is to take away yr public religious expression. That is not a neutral act but a negative one.
        They totally blind to their own rigid orthodoxies, like automatic negative assumptions in cognitive work.
        At least we know our orthodoxies

    • Constantinos says

      Dear lexcaritas,
      I appreciate your kind post, and the spirit in which it is written. In opinion, that makes you a wise and good man. I believe that Holy Orthodoxy is the one true Church, however I don’t believe that Orthodoxy is infallible by any stretch of the imagination. For example, the Orthodox Church allows divorce and remarriage. I don’t have to be my own pope to know this contravenes our Lord’s explicit command. In my opinion, divorce and remarriage is adultery. All the monks on Mt. Athos drink wine. I believe they are sinning by this act. Although we have the freedom to drink alcoholic beverages, I believe every Orthodox Christian should forego this liberty. I’m reading Ezra in the Old Testament right now in which he talks about the evils of wine. Why should a Christian forego this liberty? Because it is a stumbling block. There are thousands of alcoholics whose lives have been ruined by the use of alcohol. Millions of people have been killed by drunken drivers. As Christians, I believe it is our duty to set a good example for others. Since alcohol wreaks such destruction in so many people’s lives, I believe we should refrain from imbibing for the greater good. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. What’s the first step to alcoholism? The first drink. I’m disgusted when I read about the behavior of drunken priests.
      About free thinking! There are so many abusive priests that I am very wary of them. One of the cruelest posters I have seen on this forum was an egotistical, arrogant priest. The way he spoke to Billy Jack Sunday disgusted me.
      By free thinking, I mean question everything. Don’t be satisfied with trite responses. The Jews who study the Talmud do this; Alan Dershowitz said that’s the reason Talmudic scholars make such good lawyers.
      I believe in brain building, and continuous learning. Doesn’t God wants us to use our brains, and think for ourselves? Even George practices brain building. How do I know this? Because of his vocabulary. In order to use some of his words, a person must look them up in the dictionary. A large vocabulary properly used is a sign of high intelligence.
      A person can improperly use his mind by trying to develop ESP powers, or engaging in the law of attraction which is bad science, by the way. I also believe every person should study all of Shakespeare’s writings. I’m delighted to know that you love classical music. As you know when you listen to these great composers, you are engaging in brain building whether you are aware of it or not. So you too are a brain builder.
      The American Cincinnatus had the highest praise for the fraternity; he even went so far as to say he hoped that he would be found worthy of such a noble fraternity. Freemasonry has led many people to Christ because it encourages active participation in one’s church. I have heard many stories of people that became masons who starting regular church attendance because of their freemasonry. Freemasonry is the handmaiden of religion, not a substitute for it. The best Christians and esteemed men I have ever known were and are active freemasons. When it comes to freemasonry, this is another example of the Church getting it wrong. Remember, the monks of Mt. Athos thought the anti- mason Adolph Hitler was their protector. They still have a picture of him prominently displaced.
      In any event, I thank you for your kind, thoughtful post to me. I hope our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ blesses you and your family in all your endeavors.

  9. Gail Sheppard says
  10. Constantinos says

    Hi George,
    Thank you for your commitment to American principles such as free speech. The more I think about it we already have an American Orthodox Church; it’s the Greek Orthodox Church. After all, our great nation was founded on some of the Greek principles of democracy. Greece is also an ally of the US. Greek Americans embrace Americanism, and served honorably in every branch of the US armed forces. It can’t be Russia because it’s too foreign, and they are our enemies. So the Greek Orthodox is the one true American Orthodox Church. We need to build a Greek Orthodox Church in every city, and town. In America, the Greeks are beloved. If I’m not mistaken, Jackie Kennedy married a Greek Orthodox Christian. Isn’t it nice to be loved? Lon live the Greeks and Hellenism.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Constantinos: I will reply with a reworking of the Rabbi’s prayer for the Czar in Fiddler on the Roof: “God bless and keep the Greeks!” Far away from me.

    • Costa, your thoughts do travel about a bit holding opposite ideas at same time. Still Sign of agile
      Clever mind. GOOD LUCK friend and God bless.

  11. Joseph Lipper says

    The autocephaly of local churches is probably the main distinguishing characteristic of Orthodox ecclesiology from that of the Roman Catholic model. The Pope of Rome does not grant autocephaly. As far as he is concerned, the Pope is the sole head.

    An Orthodox ecclesiology should then welcome more autocephaly, not less. However, we plainly witness that “old world” patriarchates tend to be highly resistant to offering and/or recognizing autocephaly. Perhaps it is viewed as a threat to their “old world” existence somehow. Some have speculated that an American autocephaly, for example, would be a threat to Constantinople’s existence. Not only, but it would probably also be perceived as a threat to the Antiochian Patriarchate, the Serbian Patriarchate, etc.

    It may be that the terms of the autocephaly granted by Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine is flawed, but that is not what people are upset about here. If anyone should be upset that Ukraine didn’t receive enough autocephaly, or that they were somehow cheated of full autocephaly, it should be the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine. However, the OCU doesn’t seem to be complaining too loudly, at least for now. Rather, what many people seem to be upset about is that Patriarch Bartholomew “invaded” or “intervened” in Ukraine, the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. Unfortunately, the Moscow Patriarch is currently banned from entering “his own jurisdiction” of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin’s solution to this problem may be to intervene by annexing more and more of Ukraine. However, the Church should be able to intervene in it’s own way, and that’s what Patriarch Bartholomew appears to be attempting.

    If Orthodox ecclesiology is to triumph, it will be through it’s own model of a communion of local autocephalous churches. Geographically, the world has changed much in the last hundred years, but this hasn’t always been reflected in the ecclesiology of the Church. This can result in problems, when for example, a bishop is barred from visiting his diocese in another country. This was also the case when the Patriarch of Russia was not allowed to visit the Russian mission to America after the Bolshevik Revolution. This is also the case now with Patriarch Kyrill being barred from visiting Ukraine. The Orthodox Church has the ability to resolve these geographical barriers through the granting of autocephaly, and this is our unique ecclesiology and gift.

    • Joseph Lipper: “It may be that the terms of the autocephaly granted by Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine is flawed”

      “Maybe”? “flowed”? This is a mockery of the word autocephly.

      Second, he did not give anything to the Ukraine, instead he took a lot of property for a “recognition” of some unorthodox fringe groups.

      Are you making fun of us?

  12. Your first post I agree with. Indeed this is the issue along with the behaviour of Actors involved.

  13. Joseph Lipper says

    Is the greater canonical crisis we face in Orthodoxy actually a resistance to the recognition and granting of autocephaly to the geographical areas deserving of it? A healthy church should be trying to create more autocephaly if possible, not less.

    In the U.S. we have a multitude of jurisdictions such as GOA, ROCOR, Antiochians, Serbs, OCA, etc. This multitude of U.S. jurisdictions represents a canonical crisis here in America, especially when communion between jurisdictions is broken by the command of outside patriarchates.

    • Nikos stone says

      Exactly and who is mostly to blame? And all EP in Ukraine has done is to do a land and property grab and have a pseudo autocephaly attached to EP, giving it, he hopes power away and above the sad remants in istambul. Totally human power Politics dressed up in byzantine crap.

  14. Greatly Saddened says

    This is why I feel we here in the U.S., need a Pan Orthodox Christian Church with English being the main language. And not all these individual ethnic Orthodox Christian Churches. Through the years they most certainly served their purpose. Bringing people of the same ethnicity together in worship.

    We are now in to the 3rd and 4th generations and time has come to unite. I am not saying it will be easy. For many, it will be difficult to give up their ancestors’ language and so called “home rule.”

    In my most humble opinion, it is something that needs to be done. Inclusivity rather than exclusivity. We Orthodox Christians believe and pray to one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      My initial interest in and study of Orthodoxy began in the late 1970s and early ’80s. I well remember (or think I do) an “atmosphere” of hopefulness about unity in the US. Everybody would say that the existence of the ethnic “jurisdictions” was clearly uncanonical and was on the way to repair. The OCA seemed like the ticket, etc. etc.

      Needless to say none of it came to pass and we are no closer. Like many others, I have started to think this is a blessing in disguise for our time and place: if one runs off the rails, the others are still there…..and can act as a corrective.

  15. Father John Bless,
    Thank you for reminding me of what is most important.
    “Let a good man strike or rebuke me in kindness, but let the oil of the wicked never annoint my head …”
    No more time for blogs, posts and such for me.
    May God bless all.

  16. Dean Calvert says

    Dear Constantinos,

    You are hilarious!

    When you build those Greek Orthodox churches in every city, because they are so American, I sure hope the will include those ridiculous liturgy books that I have seen, which include Greek, PHONETIC Greek, and English all included!!!

    But, you will need to tell Greeks, standing at the pangari, to stop asking visitors, “You are not Greek? Then why are you here?” That might be a little off-putting to some of the other Orthodox, not to mention Americans.

    Yup…as American as apple pie.

    Good luck with your plan!!!

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      I was never asked, “you are not Greek, then why are you here?”
      I was asked often enough, ‘are you Greek’ and more than once if I wanted to learn the Greek Independence anthem in Greek.

      I had four grandkids dancing in the last Festival. Together with the other convert children, they way outnumber the Greeks now.

      I have declined Ahepa membership, not because I fear any ‘masonic taint’, but because, as I respond, I don’t care anything about the “principles of Hellenism”….

      By the way, I am the son and grandson of immigrants. But my Catholic wife, with two Croatia-born grandparents, tells me that British Columbia doesn’t count!

      • As a 3/4, born greek, the non – greek quarter from father Welsh, and literate fully in greek, good on you. Yes the dancing and food etc,why should we lose all that? , but ‘ all that’ is for everyone and an expression of, not the reason, for rhe Church.
        Besides we are all hellenes, oops!!! ?

        • Meras Mafanortis says

          Welsh is English without vowels. They say Greek shepherds speak without vowels (teeth), that Serb is Bulgarian without vowels/teeth and Romanian is French without vowels/teeth

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            And I noticed when I played Rugby in British Columbia in the 1970s (our Tacoma team was for awhile a member of the BC Fraser Valley Rugby Union) that lots of the Canadians didn’t have much left in the way of teeth. I had not previously ascribed lack of teeth to the question of vowels; rather to poor dental care in outland countries. What is the connection between vowels and teeth?

            These guys would pull out their dentures, line them up on the top of the piano, then begin round of worldly Rugby songs. And these lads were in their 20s and 30s…..pretty young, teeth-wise….

          • As now in Bulgaria, re Serbian, yes!!  And macedonian is bulgarian.  Mind u bulgarian grammar very greek in plan and thought. 

    • Constantinos says

      Mr. Calvert,
      Please allow me to give you your props. Great post on your part! I always like a witty, funny man. Thank you.

    • Nikos stone says

      Indeed. I have to say in Uk where i lived for many years I never heard thst comment reported.
      Seems to me many greek american churches were happy to see everything go, clerics appearance, correct chanting and yes that could included polyphony too, but acapella, etc etc but as long was in greek, all was ok.

  17. Greatly Saddened says

    Can you believe a non Greek attending a Greek Orthodox Church service? The nerve and how dare they! What they seem to forget is that Christ wasn’t a Greek, but rather a Jew! Talk about being welcoming and inclusive. Lord have mercy.

  18. Constantinos says

    Dear George,
    I wasn’t going to post on this forum anymore, but some people had specifically addressed me. I want to say this about the intellect. At one time, I became very curious as to why the Jewish people don’t believe in Jesus Christ, so I studied Judaism, watched videos by Jews for Judaism, and other Jewish “anti- missionary” resources. I even a bought a Jewish Bible from Mesorah Publications written in Hebrew and English. Also, I went so far as to read some books on Halakhah, taught myself to read some Hebrew, studied some of the Kabballah such as the first book of the Zohar, and The Sefir Yetsirah.
    Let me tell you this: if you don’t know what you are doing, they will twist your mind into a pretzel. It could easily cause a person to doubt the divinity of Christ, but then you think, and see things for yourself. My point is if you are “witnessing” to a Jewish person, you had better know Judaism in and out, and know what you believe based on evidence. I believe it is incumbent on every Orthodox Christian to be a critical thinker.
    Yes, we must put our relationship with God first, pray the Jesus Prayer with a sincere heart, seek theosis, and be faithful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I see nothing wrong in developing the mind God gave us. The mind is a muscle, use it or lose it. When you engage in brain building, it’s pretty hard to be puffed up because there is so much you don’t know. The only thing you can’t do in brain building is use new age or occultic techniques. As a result of my studies, I have become very interesting in astronomy, and plan to purchase a telescope. I will continue to develop my mind under God’s guidance.

    • Costa. Good on you and for me science leads me to faith and we must develop the gifts we were given. God will ask no less of us. AND i personally do believe there is a need for the Church to see that putting the Christ event in language ( He came down etc) that surmised a flat earth,let alone rest. is not helpful.No I am not denying anything or a modernist but saying using language relating to cosmology long gone does damage.
      But in last analysis we, ME, YOU, need to develop humility We need to physically as well as mentality prostrate ourselves before God.
      This, not science per se, is what atheists etc cannot do because they have set themselves up as the centre. They as arbiter of all. Do not we see this arrogant stupidity in the likes of celebs and especially IT clowna like Musk as if they do not live, ecrete and will die as we all will. Goes for bishops and rest too. Costa if you can purchase a book about Seraphim of Sarov, on Amazon by Zander, about $10, you will understand there all you need to know. . Στο καλό δρόμο με πάντα προκοπή και κατανόηση.

      • Constantinos says

        Thank you for your kind post. My training is as a mechanical engineer. If I had it to do over again, I would have been a physicist. I spend a great deal of time studying the hard sciences. In my study of astrophysics thermodynamics, and electricity I am in awe of the intricacy of God’s creation. The atom alone requires extensive knowledge. Developing one’s memory is an invaluable aid to remembering the Bible. When you really study, you realize everything is about physics. I’m a very curious person; my late grandmother inculcated in me a love for reading. As a result, I’ve had to learn speed reading, and accelerated learning. I’ve been doing my brain building exercises for as long as I can remember. I suppose it can make a person less humble because the way I test myself is to call one of brothers on the phone. My brother was the valedictorian of his class, and graduated from Harvard College. I think he got his degree in liberal arts. Anyway, I called him a week ago Saturday, and after I got off the phone, I said out loud, ” What a dope!” You really don’t have to be particularly intelligent to graduate from Harvard. Now, if he got his degree from MIT, I would be impressed. I admit I have to spend more time reading the Greek saints. Thank you brother Nikos.

        • Costa the late Russian bishop in London Anthony Bloom was an Oncology surgeon and St Bishop Luke was a surgeon in Russia of renowned fame with a specialist knowledge and books on infected eye surgery and suffered yrs of persecution under Stalin. ST fr Pavel Florovsky, martyr, was a ‘multi – layered’scientist. In Athens a leading priest is a psychiatrist, so the Church is not deficient. But Costa, all this irrelevant if they were not humble people before God.

  19. As a 3/4, born greek, the non – greek quarter from father Welsh, and literate fully in greek, good on you. Yes the dancing and food etc,why should we lose all that? , but ‘ all that’ is for everyone and an expression of, not the reason, for rhe Church.
    Besides we are all hellenes, oops!!! ?

  20. Joseph Lipper says

    The OCA, of which Metropolitan Jonah was formerly Primate of, received Archbishop Lazaar Puhalo with the episcopal rank given to him by the “Kievan Patriarchate”. This was certainly a controversial decision, and it happened before Metropolitan Jonah was made Primate. However, it does show a similar precedent to the reception of “Patriarch” Filaret as a retired bishop. At least the EP demoted “Patriarch” Filaret to the status of “former Metropolitan of Kiev”.

    In the case of Archbishop Lazaar Puhalo, the OCA completely ignored the deposition of “Deacon Lev Puhalo” by ROCOR. So, I don’t think Metropolitan Jonah is being honest here. Such things do have precedent, and even in the OCA of which he was formerly the Primate of.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Joseph, why even mention Metropolitan Jonah’s name? He had absolutely nothing to do with the decision to bring in Archbishop Lazar and has said nothing about it that I’ve read.

      When you say, “I don’t think Metropolitan Jonah is being honest here,” to what are you referring?

      With regard to the OCA, bringing in an old, retired Archbishop who repented for his association with schematic groups (not that I’m a fan of Lazar or the OCA’s decision; I am not) is hardly setting a precedent for granting autocephaly to 100,000+ schematics (I can’t find stats on this number so I’m guessing) in another bishop’s territory.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        Gail, I’m only referring to Metropolitan Jonah’s essay, where he writes “In an unprecedented sweep of the pen, the Patriarch of Constantinople declared all these clergy valid and canonical. ” I’m trying to point out there is some precedent for such actions out of economia, and the instance of Archbishop Lazar Puhalo’s (and his monastery’s Bishop Valaam’s) reception into the OCA, though not the fault of Metropolitan Jonah, is certainly an instance he’s familiar with.

        I’ve also made the point elsewhere, if a large group of non-Chalcedonian’s were received into the Church (and in that case repenting of their theological error), then they too would most likely be received with their clerical rankings intact. That’s because the non-Chalcedonians have preserved the form of apostolic succession. In their case, reconciliation with the Church would likely make their apostolic succession valid and fulfilled, even after some 1500 years.

        • Joseph I cannot comment much on the puhalo case except that he publically repented. Αnd he was one elderly individual. 
          Philaret Denisenko was received with no repentence, indeed over 20 odd yrs he has made that plain .He has also been instrumental in promoting a nationalistic schism. He as a person is morally dubious at best. 
          And to Crown the entire farce he continues to call himself Patriarch and wears the regalia.  Well of course, was entire point for escapade in first place. 
          Yes re non chalcedonians,  yes if they repented and joined the Church, what was lacking would be made good.  But non of them would have been personally defrocked in first place unlike Denisenko.  He was not defrocked for political reasons but for VALID  Church reasons 

          • Solitary Priest says

            How do you know Puhalo publicly repented?  He was deposed by ROCOR. His Grace Bishop Tikhon protested against the OCA receiving an “archbishop” who had been deformed as a deacon. If His Grace is reading this, he can tell you himself.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Solitary Priest, 

              It’s on his webpage. Can’t get much more “public” than that.  It reads:  

              In 2002, after having engaged in many years of correspondence on the subject, Archbishop Lazar addressed the Holy Synod of the OCA in a statement. In what is entitled a “Repentant Declaration” dated 21 October, 2002, Archbishop Lazar stated :

               I wish to express my sincere regret and repentance for my years of involvement
              in Orthodox Church bodies outside the Canonical Orthodox Church. While my long involvement
              with schismatic bodies such as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, the Greek Old Calendarist
              bodies and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev, was well-intentioned and motivated by a love of Orthodoxy,
              it was an error. I deeply regret this error and sincerely repent for it.
              • From an thread:
                Here is a quote from Bishop Tikhon on the Retired Archbishop:“Yes, Ron Haler, alias Ron Buehler, alias Lev Puhalo was ordained a Deacon in the ROCOR. There was at that time a well-known Priest in ROCOR, a convert, Father Seraphim Rose who is now WIDELY venerated as a Saint in various Local Orthodox Churches. Father Seraphim was traditionally pious and conventionally so, except in the degree of his piety which was limitless. In the course of his life and teaching he displayed the conventional prayerbook belief in the so-call Toll Houses. “The Deacon Lev Puhalo, fastened on this as a weakness which might allow him to replace Father Seraphim as a leading light of the Church and he initiated a fierce and never ending battle against “belief in Toll Houses.” He branded such a belief “heresy.” “There began a struggle in letters and otherwise in print, and a division amongst believers hitherto unseen. The Synod of Hierarchs of ROCOR took an interest. Both Deacon Puhalo and Father Seraphim were directed to refrain from public disputation on the topic. The whole concept of Toll Houses was a matter of the Prayers of the Church, but such details of the Afterlife had not come down to us in the Holy Tradition and could not, therefor be affirmed or denied with authority. “Deacon Puhalo, however, continued (as he still does today) to speak “with authority” and to deny authoritatively that the Toll Houses exist and “Belief In” them is a heresy. He did not exempt Jordanville’s Professor of Dogmatic Theology from his doctrinal condemnations of heresy. When he wouldn’t stop, he was directed by Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) to cease, to repent, and to enter the Holy Transfiguration Monastery (then still a monastery in good standing in ROCOR). Puhalo, obviously and patently could never submit to any higher ****spiritual***** authority than himself. He was deposed by the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR. He took refuge under the omophorion of the then schismatic Primate of the Free Serbs, Metropolitan Ireney. He told that Metropolitan that he had to leave ROCOR because Bishop Grabbe was trying to turn him into a homosexual by sending him to that monastery for that very purpose. (“To turn him into a homosexual…” it has a certain ring to it, no?) Then, according to Puhalo’s OWN narrative, submitted to the OCAs synod, ireney agreed that since ROCOR was a non-canonical and schismatic group it couldn’t depose Puhalo (but could ordain him?). so he received him and immediately ordained him to the (schismatic) priesthood.. Unfortunately Puhalo, however, the schismatics were received back into the Church ofSerbia through Patriarch Pavle of blessed memory. “Since the Serbian Church had always been in full communion with ROCOR, Puhalo had to find another place FAST. The only place available was the schismastic ‘Synod of Milan’ whose Primate was a certain Evloghios and who had two other hierarchical cohorts at that time. (Hearing the names of Euloghios and the others at an OCA Holy Synod session, Archbishop Peter burst out with: “But I know them! I know them all! They are all homosexuals. Euloghios was deposed himself as a Deacon! They are all the same!’” “No one questioned Archbishop Peter’s assessment due to his long service and former life in Europe. Every member of the Holy Synod at that time heard Archbishop Peter: Metropolitan Theodosius, Archbishop Kirill, Archbishop Nathaniel, Bishop Dmitri, Bishop Gregory (Afonsky), Bishop JOB, Bishop SERAPHIM, Bishop Boris, Archbishop Herman. Every one of them. It was years after that, when Metropolitan Herman had become First Hierarch, that Archbishop Job, Bishop Seraphim again raised Puhalo’s banner in the Synod with the claim that “He’s a widely read Bishop, and he has a flourishing monastic community in western Canada, and it would be a great achievement in overcoming schisms if we would receive him into the OCA. He doesn’t want a diocese; he’s not interested in that. He just needs to be “brought home” (Seraphim) to the canonical Church!” “By the way, by this time, Puhalo’s Milan Synod had made him an Archbishop in Canada, after having merged “canonically” (!!!) with “The Patrarchate of Kiev.” I rather forcefully opposed that, and I thought it had been put behind us. No action was taken whatsoever. However, the next Holy Synod meeting took place at St. Tikhon’s Monastery and Seminary (from where Metropolitan Herman ruled the Diocese of New York and WASHINGTON )… 
                “On my way to my car to drive myself (as I always did) to the airport, I had an attack of vertigo and fell down. I went back in the house and lay down for a while before calling the Chancery to ask them to let His Beatitude know I was indisposed and would not be attending that meeting of the Holy Synod (we didn’t have smart phones with Holy Synod Meeting apps then). “I was literally horrified when I read that the Holy Synod had received the Puhalo as a ‘retired bishop.” I called Metropolitan Herman and asked him, begged him, to at least not concelebrate with that person until I had a chance to present all the evidence which showed such a reception to be wrong. I said I would not go into schism if, after my presentation, the Synod did not agree with me. He agreed. At the next scheduled meeting of the Synod at Syosset, I presented the case. There were about ten pages of documents, many of them authored by Puhalo, and evidence (including photos of him serving with non-canonical entities such as “Metropolitan Stephen of Cleveland and Mississaugua” who heads a gay-friendly pseudoChurch. (A married deacon, wanamaker, who with wife and children served at Father Gregory Safchuk’s parish, had announced he was gay and had left his wife for a man. He and Father Gregory came to me and asked what could be done (!!!!!!!!). Father Gregory finally said, “So, NOTHING can be done, Your Grace?” Later I was informed by that Wanamaker that there was nothing to worry about: he had been received by Metropolitan Stephen and “they have no problem with gays.”) After I had presented the case in full the hierarchs were excited and seemingly dismayed. So much head-shaking! So much “Well, we never knew about all that” and so on and so on…”
                Another poster on the same site said it best:
                “As for Abp Lazar, if one cares for their soul they will ignore him altogether.  Hopefully, the OCA will find a way to discipline him for his heretical and blasphemous ideas, but sadly the OCA has so many other problems to deal with.  For those who think he is credible because of his title, it should be remembered (as others have pointed out) that Abp Lazar was never an active bishop in any real Orthodox Church.  After he was deposed as a deacon he had some success gaining titles in various sectarian groups that are not recognized by the Orthodox Church.  For some unfortunate reason, the OCA allowed him to keep the title of “retired Archbishop” when they received him, though he was not permitted to serve as a bishop in any capacity in the OCA.  This man is extremely controversial, and one cannot taste much of his teaching without ingesting a whole lot of poison.”
                The example of Puhalo is, in my opinion, an object lesson in how not to receive schismatics, particularly schismatic clergy.  Removing a man from schism is a relatively simple matter.  Removing schism from the heart of a man is another matter altogether, requiring not words of repentance, but fruits of repentance.

                • Joseph Lipper says

                  Brian, you have a good point, as did Bishop Tikhon.  The way that Archbishop Lazar was received is certainly not a good example of how deposed and schismatic clergy should be received.
                  However, the economia used in Archbishop Lazar’s reception appears to have been more focused on bringing his followers into the OCA also.  Archbishop Lazar joined the OCA because he was concerned about his people.  He and Bishop Varlaam were getting older, and he didn’t want to entrust his flock to the “Kievan Patriarchate” when they died.  So, he joined the OCA, and his flock followed him.  His reception into the OCA was a pastoral decision that was more focused on those who followed him.
                  The same could be said about “Patriarch” Filaret.  If “Patriarch” Filaret had gone back to the Moscow Patriarchate, accepting his status of layman, do you think his followers would have followed him there? 
                  No, they wouldn’t have.  They would have dismissed him, and elected a new Patriarch.  That’s the reality.

                • “The whole concept of Toll Houses was a matter of the Prayers of the Church, but such details of the Afterlife had not come down to us in the Holy Tradition and could not, therefor be affirmed or denied with authority.”
                  No, the aerial toll houses are an integral part of Orthodox Holy Tradition and are referenced throughout the Fathers (who sometimes attribute them to Scripture) right up to the recent saints.  Puhalo was and is a heretic for challenging them and proposing his theory of “soul sleep” which is blatantly heretical and contrary to a number of passages of Holy Scripture and the witness of Tradition.  This was pointed out by the ROCOR synod which prohibited further debate.  In effect, their ukaz was a robust vindication of Fr. Seraphim and a flat out condemnation of Puhalo.
                  So, of course, OCA received him as an “Archbishop”.  Just one of the Metropolia/OCA’s many disgraces.
                  There is a traditional Church within the bounds of what we call “Orthodoxy” and a flat out apostate pseudo-church included under the same umbrella.  Precisely the same situation as with the Anglicans in the late 20th century.
                  And a house divided against itself cannot stand.  The whole thing will collapse – sooner better than later.  Only two things will remain:  a revitalized traditional Orthodoxy, and chaff for the fire.
                  This is the doctrine according to Met. Hierotheos (Vlachos) of the Church of Greece:
                  He considers it so widespread in Scripture, the Fathers and hymnology that it is beyond challenge.
                  You will notice that the only one silenced by name in the Russian synodal statement is Puhalo towards the end.  There is no criticism of the teaching of Fr. Seraphim:

                  • Constantinos says

                    Dear Misha,
                    With all due respect, you sound like a fundamentalist, Taliban Christian. If anything, your espousal of belief in toll houses is proof of the fallibility of Orthodox, although I disagree with your contention that it is part of the Church’s teaching.
                    Toll houses make a mockery of Christ’s atoning work on the cross for us. We appear before the dread judgment seat of Christ, not  neo gnostic toll houses.
                    I pay absolutely no attention whatsoever to Seraphim Rose who, in my opinion was a raving fundamentalist, and ignorant buffoon. If the man ever becomes a saint, that just shows how depraved the Orthodox Church has become, but then again the Church is so depraved, I can easily envision the day the Russian Orthodox Church will canonize Herr Putin a saint, the man who assassinates his enemies, has a jerkwater third world , gasoline  station economy, hacks our elections, is our avowed enemy, and is armed to the teeth with more nuclear weapons than any nation on earth. He does business with North Korea, and Iran.  And there are silly posters on this forum who claim Christ is found only in the Orthodox Church. This people need to get out more,  Before you enter an Orthodox Church, they should erect a sign, that says, “sheeple, before you enter these doors, leave your brains outside.”

              • Joseph Lipper says

                Archbishop Lazar repented of being involved with ROCOR and the Kievan Patriarchate, but he still got to keep his rank as Archbishop.

                • Boris Jojic says

                  And Puhalo should have been received in his pre-schism rank of deacon. When Herman Podmoshensky repented, he was revieced back into the church as a simple monk. Puhalo continues to wear bishop’s vestments..Eis polls eti Despota to Bishop Tikhon for defending ROCOR’S integrity.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    Not only.  The Serbian bishop who took jurisdiction of the Platina monastery wouldn’t even let the Monk Herman be buried on the property when he died.  Such was the need to rid the monastery of Fr. Herman’s cult of personality.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    Under normal circumstances, Archbishop Lazar probably should have rightly been received as just a lay person into the OCA.
                    One thing to consider, though, is whether the “Kievan Patriarchate” could have then sued for possession of his properties and the St. Nicholas parish in Langley.

                    • Solitary Priest says

                      You seem unaware that most Orthodox communities in North America are set up as lay trusteeship, Joseph. Only in the Greek Archdiocese does the diocese own the church properties, much like the Latin church. That is why there has hardly ever been a parish that successfully voted itself out of the Greek Archdiocese.
                             But your bringing up the possibility of a law suit points to the real reason why the Ukrainian Orthodox church in the USA is on board with this new deal Constantinople is giving to Ukraine. At least five or six parishes here in the states have voted to go under Filaret of Kiev. The US church is thus involved in litigation. If they didn’t act, they would face even more lawsuits which drain money. I have personally spoken with Metropolitan Anthony, and he didn’t seem to impressed with Filaret. But in the Ukrainian community, nationalism trumps Orthodoxy, and the vocal Ukrainian Catholic minority is fond of Filaret. The latter has jumped on the Ukrainian nationalist and Russia hating bandwagon, thus even his past Soviet activities are forgiven.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Poroshenko wasn’t done. The parliament passed a law that the properties belonging to the MP have to re-register under another name. They have 9 months from the date the legislation was passed. If they fail to comply, they will have no rights of a legal entity. If they comply, they could lose the property associated with the previous name [UOC] because the newly formed autocephalous church took it.

                      The CP has launched a series of events which have put the canonical Church in a vice. Putin has gone on record saying that he is not going to abandon Russia’s interests in Ukraine, nor is he going to abandon the Church. You can’t blame Russia for being Russia.

                      There is a fable about a scorpion asking a frog to carry it across a river. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it did so, they would both drown. Considering this, the frog agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion stings the frog, dooming them both. When the frog asks the scorpion, “Why did you do this?” the scorpion replies that it was its nature.

                      I suspect the CP will feel the sting of his conscience when the death toll starts to rise. Each loss will be the result of the actions he took. He helped Poroschenko cross the river believing it could all be worked out legally with no bloodshed. – But this is Ukraine.

                    • Joseph,
                      If you’re asking me to defend the indefensible I’m not going to do it.  I refer you back to the quotation in my original comment that says it best.
                      “As for Abp Lazar, if one cares for their soul they will ignore him altogether.  Hopefully, the OCA will find a way to discipline him for his heretical and blasphemous ideas, but sadly the OCA has so many other problems to deal with. ..and one cannot taste much of his teaching without ingesting a whole lot of poison.”
                      People like Puhalo (and Philaret and all those with schism in their souls) do incalculable damage with their poison.  I have heard some people I know site such people as ‘authorities.’  God help them.
                      My point that you keep trying to twist into some sort of ‘precedent’ to justify your patriarch because “Well, he did it, too” is that receiving schismatics in these ways is always a very bad idea that bears bitter fruit.  Nothing can make it okay or undo the damage it causes.
                      It is the reason the canons are what they are.  Our fathers understood human nature far better than we do, and the rules they handed down to us reflect it.  No, the canons are not “laws.”  But we ignore their wisdom at our own peril and the peril of unsuspecting innocents.  The word “Millstones” comes immediately to mind.

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Brian, I appreciate your comment.  That’s only why I respond.  I’m not asking you to do anything.
                      Of course, I am defending the decision of the OCA Synod of Bishops, because I believe it was based on pastoral insight.  As far as I know, they haven’t reversed or admitted error.  Bishop Tikhon was part of that Synod and disagreed with the decision, but ultimately he accepted it.  Personally, I believe the OCA Synod of Bishops has a much better handle on pastoral insights than I do.
                      When Christ spoke of “millstones”, I tend to think of His exhortation to the scribes and pharisees who “bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”
                      And also… “for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

                    • No Joseph.  Christ spoke of millstones in another context altogether.
                       “…but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
                      Moreover, a “good shepherd” who brings his flock home doesn’t then proceed to take to Youtube, Facebook, etc., in order to poison the hearts and minds of as many other “little ones” (in both understanding and maturity) as he possibly can. 
                      It is rather frustrating that in one breath (a breath I can agree with, BTW) you express concern for these “little ones” in the Ukraine while in another, you write, “I believe the parish in Langley, B.C. was mostly Ukrainians.  Were they deceived?  That’s like saying the people of the former “Kievan Patriarchate” were deceived.  They knew what they were doing.”  And yet, you say, it is better to receive them into the Church, their lack of repentance notwithstanding. 
                      You speak as though there is some sort of magic in being recognized as canonical or commemorating a hierarch that wipes away the residue of all sin.  Conversely, you speak as though the canonical Church (the MP in your words) has the power to condemn people to hell.  Both are utter nonsense.
                      It took God about one day to bring his people across the sea and out of Egypt.  It took Him (even Him!) forty years to remove Egypt from His people. 
                      Any honest and striving Orthodox Christian will tell you that submitting – truly submitting – in obedience to the  the Church and her wisdom is a long struggle of repentance, one that never really ends.  Yet some would have us believe this can be accomplished with a few words or strokes of the pen of the ‘right’ hierarch.  How much more repentance and struggle is required for those who willfully and knowingly disobeyed, following their own ‘wisdom’?  Not to punish them, but to give them the medicine they need in order to be saved.  The canons tell us.  Again, not because they are ‘laws’ but because they reflect an understanding of human nature as it really is,  the impact of sin on a person, and the medicine required to be healed.  But no, we know better than our fathers.  Everything is neat, tidy, simple, and ‘legal’.  In our hubris we are willing to deny medicine to the sick by deceiving them into thinking they are well.

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Brian, I think we all agree it’s important to be in the Church, because that’s where Christ is, and that’s where our salvation is worked out. 
                      When one’s nationalism becomes a barrier to being part of the canonical Church, that’s a problem.  That’s a millstone around the neck that can drown people.  It’s a millstone that’s probably very difficult to remove also. 
                      Fortunately, the bishops of the Church have the God-given ability to remove the barrier of nationalism.    Though most probably disagree with me, I believe Patriarch Bartholomew acted to remove the barrier of nationalism for the Ukrainians.  He may not have removed the millstone from their necks, but at least they can wear it and still be in the Church.  That’s the same thing we see with Greece, Russia, Serbia, etc.

                    • Christopher says

                      I have not followed the thread that closely so I am just commenting on the below in a “taken in themselves” sort of way:
                      “My point… is that receiving schismatics in these ways is always a very bad idea that bears bitter fruit.  Nothing can make it okay or undo the damage it causes.”
                      This can not be true. There is no “stain” of being a “schismatic” that somehow can not be forgiven, as if it is some sort of metaphysical blot for which even Christ can not overcome. Everything (and I do mean everything) is “okay” not on its own in either a perfect keeping of the law (in any of its forms: moral, canonical, legal, traditional, etc.), or in an antinomial freedom “Grace alone” sort of way. St. Paul rejects both ways/understanding explicitly.
                      “Any honest and striving Orthodox Christian will tell you that submitting – truly submitting – in obedience to the  the Church and her wisdom is a long struggle of repentance, one that never really ends.  Yet some would have us believe this can be accomplished with a few words or strokes of the pen of the ‘right’ hierarch.  How much more repentance and struggle is required for those who willfully and knowingly disobeyed, following their own ‘wisdom’?  Not to punish them, but to give them the medicine they need in order to be saved.  The canons tell us.  Again, not because they are ‘laws’ but because they reflect an understanding of human nature as it really is,  the impact of sin on a person, and the medicine required to be healed.  But no, we know better than our fathers.  Everything is neat, tidy, simple, and ‘legal’.  In our hubris we are willing to deny medicine to the sick by deceiving them into thinking they are well.”
                      I recognize your effort to thread the needle, to stay on the “narrow path” here, and not fall to either side. However, I wonder if you (and so many others who comment on this blog) have not become a bit (or a lot) like the older brother. The Kingdom of Heaven is like…a Father which even a “schismatic” can return to and receive the Everlasting Feast. If “human nature as it really is” was enough, then the Law would have been enough. The little old lady, or the young family, who is in village/city X in Ukraine and thus on the wrong side (i.e. they are a “schismatic”) – their souls are in real peril because this or that so called “canonical” Patriarch, this or that “EP”, has done this or that “canonically” or not?!? What about their praxis, their actual day to day Orthodox living, is this not what Christ is really going to be confronting them on that Dread Day!?!
                      This honest but overwrought concern with the logic of the (canonical) law, framed as a real concern to on the one hand protect the Church’s boundaries and way of life and seemingly Grace Himself, and on the other hand a pious concern for a kind of deception of the schismatic and the innocent…well it’s all overwrought and unbalanced. The Logic of canonicity and the boundaries of the Church can lead to where Misha has gone: Mount Athos is now without Grace. In other words, the logic of canonicity can lead to religious idiocy.
                      Be of good cheer folks, Christ has overcome the world and all its logic, its laws, its cannons, its Patriarchs and its seemingly inexorable history of the Church, nations and sin…

                    • Christopher,
                      My post on which you commented is perhaps the most poorly written of mine in some time.  So I do understand your response, and I quite agree.
                      Allow me to state two things emphatically.
                      There is no sin – none – that cannot be forgiven.  Neither is there any sin that we can refuse to forgive.  To do so leaves outside the feast of our Father, and that by our own choice, not His.
                      I view the cannons primarily as a body of accumulated wisdom intended to order and protect the Church, as well as heal her members.  More on this below.
                      It may help to know that the subject of this thread is not – I repeat not (for me, anyway) – about average parishioners who find themselves under schismatic hierarchs.  It is about schismatic clergy who know precisely what they are doing (or have done).  Admittedly, there are some here who lump them together, but I am not among them.  This thread began specifically with the subject of “Archbishop’ Lazar Puhalo and his reception by the OCA with the rank he gained by his association with schismatic sects.
                      Mr. Lipper set forth Puhalo as a precedent for receiving Philaret (and the other clergy with him) in the manner that the CP did, allowing them to retain their clerical ranks with essentially no repentance.  I, in turn, set forth Puhalo as an example of how not receive clergy from schism.  For as I’m sure you know, Puhalo, though he once uttered words of repentance, has neither humbled himself nor really submitted to the Church.  To this day he continues to spew his poison and sew discord – all with the apparent authority of an Orthodox Archbishop.
                      The bitter fruits borne of ignoring the wisdom of the canons (and I am speaking here of following their spirit, not necessarily the letter) demonstrate the wisdom they represent. 
                      I used the phrase “stain of sin” in the case of such men.  A far better word (and what I meant by this) would be wound.  It has nothing to do with forgiveness.  Even though forgiven, serious sin leaves a wound that if ignored and left unattended (on the pretext that it is forgiven) festers in the person himself and, when they are placed in positions of spiritual influence/authority, almost inevitably spreads to others.
                      We must always be quick to forgive and show mercy to all for any offense whatsoever, for we are sinners ourselves.  But our fathers understood (though many today seem to think we know better than they) that forgiveness is one thing while healing is another.   There are all sorts of examples of this sort of wisdom reflected in the canons – even in cases where the person in question is not at fault for what occurred in his life.  Our fathers seem to have understood that the wounds of sin are not primarily a matter of being ‘at fault.’  Sometimes our wounds are self-inflicted by our own choices to sin; other times they are inflicted on us through no fault of our own (examples: drafted soldiers killing in war, having been sodomized as a child, a wife divorcing her priest-husband, etc.).  The point for our fathers seems not primarily to be who is to ‘blame,’ but rather what is needed in order to be healed and to keep the infection from spreading.  The cry of the modern is, “It’s unfair!”  But that is only because we have become blind to what is really needed for us to be healed.
                      A corollary to the bitter fruit borne of immediately putting such recently schismatic clergy in positions of spiritual authority (“canonical” though they may be by the authority of a patriarch or synod) would be that of allowing a former, even genuinely repentant, child abuser to care for children.  It places that person (forgiven and repentant though they may be) and those in their care in grave (and thoroughly unnecessary) danger –both of deepening the wound in that person and of allowing his infection to spread to others.  Is it then impossible or ‘illegal’ to allow it?  No.  But it is almost always a terrible idea that results in disaster.  Such is the wisdom reflected in the canons.
                      Couple the above with the fact that these Ukrainian clergy were received with full rank indiscriminately by the thousands, without investigation or individual scrutiny, and the CP has made among the most irresponsible acts of pastoral judgement in history, one from which the Ukrainian people for whom I truly care will doubtless suffer (yet further!) for some time.
                      This, Christopher, is what I so poorly attempted to communicate.
                      God can – and doubtless will – bring good out of all this.  I’m not ‘worried’ as such.  Just disgusted with the willful blindness and/or pretension of those who should know better.

                    • Joseph: ” I think we all agree it’s important to be in the Church, because that’s where Christ is, and that’s where our salvation is worked out.”
                      Supposedly. But tell me Joseph, if you kick out devoted parishioners, their priest, manhandle old ladies calling them Russian vermin, so they pray in the street or in a barn, where the Christ will be? In the building you seized?

                • Joseph,
                  Whether you realize it or not, your comments only serve to reinforce the point I’ve made.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    Brian, there were pastoral reasons why the OCA Synod made their decision on Archbishop Lazar.  Right or wrong, I’m just trying to point out the OCA’s rationale.  
                    As for Metropolitan Jonah, he can pretend it never happened, and though he wasn’t personally involved, it is certainly an example he is familiar with.

                    • “…it is certainly an example he is familiar with.”
                      I assume so, and this is yet more reinforcement.  Some people have the capacity learn from the mistakes of others rather than allowing errors of pastoral judgment to serve as precedents.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      How can you possibly know what the reasons of the OCA Synod were and why do you keep tying Metropolitan Jonah to a decision that was made way before his time? This is bordering on slander, given that you’re associating a living human being with perhaps the OCA’s stupidest decision, short of what they did to Metropolitan Jonah. Is this allowed, George?

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Brian, I don’t believe the OCA Synod has reversed their decision on Archbishop Lazar or admitted of any error.  Neither does it appear this happened while Metropolitan Jonah was Primate of the OCA.

                  • Constantinos says

                    Dear Martin, I hope you are not suggesting that Christ is found only in the Orthodox Church. If you are, your God is too small, God is everywhere. If Orthodox Christians believe that Christ is only found in the Church, that makes Orthodox nothing more than a cult.  You can find Christ in the beggar in the street. As I’ve stated many times, Orthodoxy has an warranted much too high opinion of itself. At the present rate, in less than three generations, Orthodoxy won’t even exist, unless it sheds itself of its belief in the supremacy of the Orthodox Church.

                    • Constantinos: “I hope you are not suggesting that Christ is found only in the Orthodox Church. …. If Orthodox Christians believe that Christ is only found in the Church, that makes Orthodox nothing more than a cult. ” Are you promoting Ecumenism?
                      I have no clue, why do you address me with this Overton Window questioning?

                  • Constantinos says

                    Christopher, I’m waiting for the so called “saints of Mount Athos” to repent of their virulent anti- semitism, and false prophecies. Sometimes, I think obedience is just a code word for blatant anti- semitism.

                    • Malis Catipsis says

                      Indeed! I thought so much of Athos until I came across some of the ignorant abbots who visited us here in America and realized how shallow and phoney they were. Sometimes I wonder if the only thing that unites Orthodox isn’t anti-Semitism.

                    • Another new low for Monomakhos, not that George is responsible for it, but now it seems Greek Orthodoxy bashing will extend to The Holy Mountain, because they will not quickly condemn. Ukraine “crisis” is bring out the worst in us.

                      May I remind all that both Saint Nectarios of Aegina, and Saint John of San Francisco were both falsely scandalized as well, before becoming saints. The holier than thou, jealous, know betters, Greek and Russia, I’m sure, are regretting their attacks on such saints, which seems the norm with most saints.

                      As we are entering into the sphere of virtues this Sunday, and the following Sundays into Great Lent, our minds need to prepare in humility, repentance, and forgiveness. I am guilty of bashing many of Russia’s clergy, I ask forgiveness to those I have sinned against. I will try harder not to scandalize others.

                      “If you want to help the Church, it is better to try to correct yourself, rather than trying to correct others. If you manage to correct yourself, one small part of the Church is immediately corrected. Naturally, if everyone did the same, the body of the Church would be in good health. But today, people concern themselves with everything but themselves. You see, judging others is easy, whereas working on yourself takes effort.”-Saint Paisios the Athonite

              • Joseph Lipper says

                The more important thing about Archbishop Lazar’s reception into the OCA was that he was making a pastoral decision for his flock.    He and Bishop Varlaam had at least one strong parish in Langley B.C., as well as scattered supporters across North America.  Their reception into the OCA brought their parish in Langley, and probably at least some of their other supporters, into the OCA also.  Those people had great respect for their Archbishop Lazar, and seeing how the OCA received him with respect and dignity made their decision to be received into the OCA much easier.   The economia for Archbishop Lazar’s reception into the OCA probably had more to do with bringing his flock into the OCA also.
                The same could be said about “Patriarch” Filaret.  He had, and perhaps still has, his strong supporters in Ukraine.  It’s a rough bunch to be sure.  The amazing thing is that before their autocephaly they didn’t commemorate Patriarch Kyrill, but now they do.  I would say that, in itself, is a repentance.

                • Solitary Priest says

                  Puhalo acquired that flock by deceit; he passed himself off as a legitimate priest and hierarch, which he was not. When clergy of the Living church repented and joined the MP, they were accepted in their pre schism rank. No married bishop was accepted as a bishop. 

                  • Solitary Priest says

                    To answer Gail above, I’m sure one reason the Ukrainian bishops here support this deal is so that Constantinople can get Filaret to call off his boys here, as it were.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    Solitary Priest, I believe the parish in Langley, B.C. was mostly Ukrainians.  Were they deceived?  That’s like saying the people of the former “Kievan Patriarchate” were deceived.  They knew what they were doing.  As you point out, this is just a case of Ukrainian Nationalism being more important to people than Orthodoxy.
                    I realize that Archbishop Lazar’s reception into the OCA is very controversial, but the fact that he successfully brought his flock with him is important.  He brought his flock into the OCA.  That was redemptive.  A good shepherd brings his flock home.

                    • Solitary Priest says

                      You don’t quit, do you, Joseph? At least, you admit that for some folks, Ukrainian Nationalism takes precedence over Orthodoxy. If nationalism is that important, why are we denying that poor Macedonian guy his church?
                            I don’t know about you, but I happen to be Ukrainian. At least on one side. I speak the language as well as Russian, though I was born here, and English is my first tongue.
                          No, a good shepherd does not lie to his flock by passing himself off as a real cleric. Nobody is indispensable to the church. Not you, not I, neither the late Herman Podmoshensky, nor the late Pantaleimon Metropoulos, the latter of whom caused his share of trouble. I almost got brainwashed by his cult before all the scandal broke loose.

  21. I have come to the conclusion, doing the canonical math, that Constantinople has already become devoid of grace – even Athos.

    I do not believe this is the case solely or primarily because of the excommunication by Moscow but rather as a function of Constantinople’s decision on October 11th to “rehabilitate” Ukrainian schismatics who were excommunicated and anathematized by the only canonical authority in the territory in question (the MP). Not only did they not succeed in doing this, but the opposite in fact is what occurred in the sight of God and the Church: Constantinople itself, at that time, became schismatic and severed itself from the Church and its grace.

    and see:

    Constantinople violated several canons by purporting to “rehabilitate” anathematized schismatics in the Ukraine. As having intercommuned and concelebrated with such former hiearchs, Bartholomew should be deposed and Constantinople cast out from the Church according to the canons referred to above.

    If that were all that were relevant, I might still have doubts about the grace of mysteries being affected. Canon law seldom operates automatically. It must have bishops to enact it, preferably in synod when it is a matter of this degree. However, the Church of Russia (which represents a majority of the Orthodox on earth) referred to canonical condemnations in its order excommunicating Constantinople. Under the circumstances, due to Constantinople’s own actions more than the Russian response which only confirms the violations for what they are, is another pan-Orthodox synod necessary to confirm what everyone knows to be true? The actions are clear. The canons are clear. And at least one local church representing most of the Church has ordered enforcement of these violated canons.

    I doubt anything else is necessary besides the other local churches individually confirming the excommunication. And that is for the sake of clarity, not effecting the grace of mysteries.

    That being the case, Constantinople has already severed itself from the Church and its mysteries no longer convey grace; i.e., the Spirit has truly already “left the building”, so to speak.

    “Patriarch Bartholomew, who for over twenty years recognized Denisenko as an anathematized schismatic, suddenly removes the anathema—and that without any explanation. Interesting—what lead him to the opposite conclusion?! And mainly no one even listened to the side that placed this interdiction on him—the Russian Orthodox Church, whose clergyman Denisenko was before going into schism. In the canonical sense this is, again, an absolutely absurd, outrageous and scandalous situation. Forgive me, but not even the Roman pope would allow himself to do such a thing.

    However, first of all, whoever enters into communion with a schismatic, according to the Church canons, is considered a schismatic himself. Secondly, if Philaret is after all placed at the head of this very so-called ‘united church’, they will try to push him on the rest of the Local Churches. If they accept him, the Russian Church will be forced to break communion with them also. This threatens great upheavals throughout the Orthodox world” – Vladislav Petrushko, professor, the Orthodox St. Tikhon Humanitarian University, doctor of Church History (Moscow) –

    All I can say therefore is that it is dangerous for the souls of those under Constantinople to remain in what has become a pseudo-church. And it is dangerous for the souls of those in the other local churches to remain in communion with Constantinople. In the long run, whoever remains in communion with Constantinople will be making the choice to leave the Church and its grace.

    • Christopher says

      “I have come to the conclusion, doing the canonical math…”
      Stop right there, go directly to Romans 7, and spend the next few weeks (years really, sometimes a lifetime is barely enough) contemplating the truth of the Law (in all its manifestations:  cannoical, moral, spiritual) in its proper relationship with Grace.  Hint:  the Law is subornanite, because the “math” of it does not add up to salvation

      • God’s Love is missing from our Orthodox leaders, their financiers, and their sycophants.

        “As the Holy Trinity, our God is One Being, although Three Persons, so, likewise, we ourselves must be one. As our God is indivisible, we also must be indivisible, as though we were one man, one mind, one will, one heart, one goodness, without the smallest admixture of malice- in a word, one pure love, as God is Love.
        “That they may be one, even as We are One”(John 17:22).”-Saint John of Kronstadt

        Love is missing, my brothers, and sisters. Orthodoxy must not be allowed to splinter. We are one Church. Their is no Love in divorce.

  22. Believe it, or not Misha.
    Grace is not bound by canon law, or even any church, and there is nothing pseudo about Holy Mount Athos. Do not confuse the difference of what man cannot and what God can offer.

    • Actually, This fits the “pseudo” definition quite well. The Athonites choose to remain under a heresiarch out of worldly fears. Not of persecution, like the New Martyrs, but of merely being evicted from a piece of territory.

      Never hold hands with a jumper.

      Mother Teresa was quite holy in a number of ways. Yet she was still heterodox.

      • Nikos stone says

        Sadly as you may know recent activity of certain parts of Athos has been very economic. A wag said that if they ran the Greek economy, Greece would be the financial lender of first call.  Now they may be Holy too, but Rasputin even on his  visit in early 1900s was, shall we say shocked by certain aspects. And he was no celibate as we know 
        Now please I am not attacking the Holy mountain and Great Holiness is there and was there always, known to God,  with thousands of monks or few and often better with fewer . But as with any thing in this world, the devil also . Indeed where else better would he be?  St Seraphim of Sarov experienced that. 

    • Antiochene Son says

      There is no grace of salvation outside the Church. However, we cannot say with absolute certainty where the bounds of the Church end. We can say, however, where it is present, and we can only say that about the Orthodox Church with absolute certainty.

      • Antiochene Son,
        That is a lie taught in the OCA and some other new calendar churches but does not at all reflect Holy Tradition.  The Church is coterminous with the Orthodox Church and outside of it the grace of the mysteries is not present.  That is the teaching of the Fathers and Tradition.  That modern Orthodox do not hold it only calls into question their faith.
        Fr. Peter Heers has written extensively on these themes:
        The Church continues to suffer from the Schmemann/Meyendorff, neopatristic memes/lies such as this one.  That is one reason why the old calendar “canonical” churches should separate themselves from the new calendar churches and resume communion with the Greek Old Calendarists.  Then the Church in God’s eyes would be better reflected in material reality.
        Now you need a roadmap.  One day there are 14 autocephalous churches, the next day only 13.  They disagree about things long settled in the Church.  It is unfortunate what secular humanism has done to Orthodoxy.  It is no longer one faith but an unstable family of different faiths along the spectrum from Holy Tradition to a completely secular humanistic outlook covered with a veneer of “God speak”.
        Allow me to make a prediction:
        “Canonical Orthodoxy” will succumb to Western Liberalism, the devil, and the gates of hell shall prevail against it.  It will then become clear that only the Old Calendarist churches (those who severed communion over the new calendar) actually constitute the Church and have guarded the faith.
        What is happening to the Orthodox Church right now is precisely the same thing that happened to the Episcopal and Presbyterian confessions.  And it is similar to what has happened to Rome.  Nothing can stop it.  Man and the episcopacy are too weak and cowardly.  This is how a religion dies.
        Consider Athos again, everyone’s favorite darling.  While Russia was losing millions of faithful to the Bolsheviks, its character was being hardened.  Athos, on the other hand, prefers the omophorion of a heresiarch to the prospect of being evicted – not persecuted, just evicted.  Who can possibly believe that these sniveling cowards would not bend the knee to a golden calf if real threats were issued.  They run pissing at the prospect of being evicted by their landlord.  God is not amused.  They are neither hot nor cold so He will spit them out.
        Ours is the Age of Apostasy and it may rival the age of St. Athanasius in terms of the damage it causes to the Church.
        It’s really not even worth discussing anymore.  All of us have more important things to do than watch the “canonical” church self destruct.  If it dies, it deserves to die from lack of faith. 
        We all have our individual lives to lead.  Better to focus on that than a walking corpse.  Let the dead bury their dead.

        • Misha, at last count there are 5 Old Calendar Greek churches with each one claiming to be the true church. I guess one must flip a coin or choose the one that you deem truly Orthodox.

        • Antiochene Son says

          I refuse to believe that all of my Christian ancestors in northern Europe, from 1054 until my parents today, are cut off from the possibility of salvation despite believing in Jesus Christ in the best way they knew how. Does God hold people responsible for not being a member of a church they don’t know exists?
          The schismatic popes are probably in hell. Their flocks, I can’t say the same. 

      • A.S.
        What you say is true. Yet now church leaders will be asking, maybe demanding, us to choose what IS The Church, and what IS NOT. Grace will not be bound by the opinions of men. Men who should know better, before allowing the schism of jurisdictions, these men will not affect laity who enter Orthodox churches to receive Christ in all ways. My Greek Orthodox Church is not better, nor worse, than any Russian Orthodox Church, because two men cannot agree upon political differences. Grace will never leave the Greek Orthodox Church, nor the Russian Orthodox, unless God decides it has. If God does, He will leave no doubt in the minds in ALL men, not just those bound, by borders, and tastes.

        Wait and see, my friends, wait and see. All is not so black and white as many here think.

        • I’m sure Roman Catholics still believe their Church has grace but it lost it long ago. What men believe is irrelevant.

          Yet it has gotten boring. As if people like having the same old problems or are terrified of solutions.

          It’s actually pathetic and disheartening.

          What is tragic is that in the long term the Orthodox are losing their souls to Western “progress” just as certainly as the Western confessions. It is enough to make one reexamine the entire proposition.

          Perhaps a new philosophy or ideology will need to arise that recaptures the ancient fire which seems to have died in Christianity.

          Well, enough. Eternal memory. Words won’t save it from itself.

          • Misha my thick skinned, and hard headed brother,
            I say this in jest, but with a pinch of truth. You would made a perfect Orthodox Jew.

            • Thank you, Dino!

              I take that as a high compliment, indeed. They are tough old boys.

              I wasn’t born Jewish, though. And Judaism is far from a universal faith.

              I refuse to watch the disintegration of Orthodoxy as I did Anglicanism, however. It’s embarrassing. There must be a better way. When God abandons a house, it’s finished.

          • Antiochene Son says

            Life is easy today. When this period of prosperity ends, people will find their way back to God. God has already withdrawn his blessing and we are beginning to see the curse we have called down upon ourselves.

  23. Misha, sounds like you are the dispenser of grace. No one can put God in a bottle not even people like you. I am always amazed when people claim there is no grace outside the boundaries of what they consider the church. Is it not grace that attracts people to Christ and His church? People embrace Christ and His Chuch because of grace working outside the Church to draw them in.

  24. Joseph Lipper says

    How do you bring millions of nuckle-headed Ukrainian nationalists into the Church?  How do you bring a nuckle-headed American nationalist into the Church?
    I would say in both cases, having a local autocephalous Orthodox Church helps.  
    The Ukrainians of the former “Kievan Patriarchate” were probably mostly a group of nationalists who were fed up with Moscow’s influence and Putin’s  “Russkiy Mir” project.  The Russian annexation of Crimea certainly didn’t help.
     So, does a nationalistic disposition necessarily have to make one doomed to hell?  The Russians, the Greeks, the Serbs, the Syrians, the Lebanese, all of them tend towards nationalism.  We witness it plenty right here in America.
    The former Metropolitan of Kiev, Filaret, was a staunch opportunist who exploited Ukrainian nationalism to make a “church” with himself as “Patriarch”.  If it ended there, then it would only be just another doomed nationalism headed towards destruction.  To his credit “Patriarch” Filaret realized this.  Though there was no way he could lead his group of nuckle-heads to submit to the Moscow Patriarchate (not even he wanted to do this), he had a hope that eventually the Ecumenical Patriarch would intervene.  
    So, “Patriarch” Filaret made numerous attempts to get the help of Constantinople, even enlisting politicians to help him in the cause.  Finally, he succeeded.  His group of nuckle-heads were received into the Ecumenical Patriarchate and granted a tomos of autocephaly.  That was his goal, and that’s what he achieved.
    The story is not over yet, though.  As Patriarch Athenogoras stated, “autocephaly is a right belonging to the Church as a whole”.  The Church, as a whole, must decide to ultimately accept or reject this autocephaly, or in baby steps, to accept or deny communion.
    There are certainly forces at work right now trying to tear down and destroy the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine.  It’s amazing that so far it hasn’t split internally like ROCOR did when they joined the Moscow Patriarchate.  So, will the other Orthodox churches eventually be supportive, or will they just watch it die in a condemning gaze? 

  25. Christopher says

    Apparently we have come to the limit of the blog and the “reply” has disappeared above, so hopefully you see this.  As far as a correlation (dwell on that word for a bit) between Puhalo and certain hierarchs in Ukraine, I see the point.  However, what is the weight, the real impact of these facts?  According to the rhetoric of the MP and the forensic (canonical) legalists who post here and elsewhere, it is determinative.  I see however you don’t buy this (and neither does anyone with more than surface grasp of how the canons have actually functioned in history of the Church), so moving past it, what is the impact?  I agree with your description (and analogies like the child abuser), but only up to a certain point.  What is the health of the Body of Christ in Ukraine where these dubious hierarchs ply their trade?  What is the health of the Body of Christ in the OCA where Puhalo ply’s his sophomoric modernist theological project? Can these Bodies suffer the inevitable diseases of this world and live? I think this is where your wound imagery is important and points us to the fact that the we all are wounded, mortally so, in this world.  Puhalo and the like are just the tip of the iceberg of death we all carry.  Yet, the perfection of the (canonical, or any other kind) of moral law is not where our salvation comes from.  This is a central and overriding theme/message/revelation of the Gospel’s and St. Paul.  Mistakes happen, but Grace abounds, and in the Ukraine (and hopefully the OCA – though sometimes I have my doubts 😉 ) the Body has the Grace to adsorb these living hierarchical mistakes and the Body can serve as an overall healthy ship of salvation (to mix metaphors).  Its important to keep our eye on the goal of Salvation, and not get bogged down in the sinful minutia.  As you say the canons are a depository of wisdom, but wisdom serves – when wisdom (of the canonical or any other kind) becomes its own end, then this itself is a wound and disease and this is actually a very common temptation and error in the religious life (again, see the Gospels).   It’s very very important to remember that salvation is not a moral game or end.  Morality and moral wisdom serves the telos of salvation.  In our modern religious context, this truth is too often inverted.  This is why moral corollary’s like your child abuser example only goes so far, and why the paradox of the Gospel is such an affront because here is a hard hard truth:  It is prostitutes and tax collectors and yes, child abusers who enter the Kingdom before moral and canonical men such as you and I.  Such is the nature of His Grace, that it is not confined morally, or geographically, or canonically, or in any other visible thing.
    If you have not already, you should avail yourself of books such as Erickson’s “The Challenge of our Past”, and/or Patsovos’ “Spiritual Dimensions of the Holy Canons” and the like.  You won’t agree with all of their conclusions, but agreement is not the point  – such men can give you perspective on the canons.