The Colloquium and Pope Francis

pope-francis It seems that my comments on Pope Francis have elicited much commentary in return, some of it positive, some of it negative. Some critical comments have to do with the usual Orthodox questions regarding the Roman Catholic Church since the Great Schism of 1054. For my part, we are beyond that, the culture is simply too far gone to concern ourselves with bilateral dialogues regarding the things that separate us.

Perhaps this is obvious to other Orthodox luminaries as well. Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople is going to attend the installation of Pope Francis. This will be a first. Curiously, the OCA will send its Primate as well. It’s hard to tell how this will play with Moscow. Regardless, the congratulatory letter written by His Holiness Kirill struck the right tone to me in that he addressed Francis as an equal. After all, in our ecclesiology the Bishop of Rome is the Patriarch of the West. (It troubled me when Pope Benedict dropped this title.)

So why has Francis’ election spurred such excitement? It’s my opinion that Francis demeanor is “Markan,” in that he takes his evangelical cues from the Gospel of Mark. The language of Mark is bold, terse, and unabashed. His first sermon was unequivocal. “Either we worship Christ crucified or we worship the devil.” There is no in-between. Jesus is the Messiah –any questions? Our times demand such clarity.

For too long have too many Christian pastors spent too many waking hours in “bilateral” and “interfaith” dialogues trying to show their secular betters that the world has nothing to fear form Christianity. We’ve played World’s game according to the World’s rules but that hasn’t satisfied the World. What the World wants is nothing less than our complete allegiance to the coming Nihilism.

I guess you could say that much work needs to be done. The following is an essay by Fr Hans Jacobse. Please take the time to read it.

P.S. May you all have a Blessed Lent.

Source: AOI Observer | Fr. Hans Jacobse

Several weeks ago I spent a weekend with Catholic and Orthodox scholars in a colloquium titled “Liberty, Society, and the Economy in Modern Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Thought.” I am a parish priest, not an academic, which means I approach the big questions from what I call a “rubber meets the road” perspective. I start with the problem or issue that I am thrust into and work out from there. It’s real, sometimes messy, and almost exclusively existentialist.

That also meant that I approached the colloquium as a student and did not have much to contribute until how the ideas we discussed applied to everyday people in everyday life. That’s the world in which I practice my vocation so that has become my area of expertise.

The practical dimension was welcomed especially by the academics who, as most of us know, can distance themselves from the concrete consequences of ideas and sometimes fail to distinguish the power of one idea over another. It’s a professional hazard but then all professions have their hazards including the vocation of the priesthood. That’s why we should not only know ourselves (one goal of the Christian life) but also get to know how others see us and clarify how we see others.

This kind of knowledge cannot be attained without sentiments of goodwill and professional courtesy. They were present in good measure and after a half-day or so grew into a mutual respect that made both the formal meetings (we analyzed texts from the Catholic and Orthodox traditions) and informal discussions over dinner, walks to Starbucks and so forth very fruitful and rich.

The Catholics have a very developed intellectual tradition about contemporary issues, more so than the Orthodox because they faced no Muslim Conquest or Bolshevik Revolution, historical events that have held us back. That tradition is impressive although not nearly as airtight as some Catholic apologists would have you believe.

The Catholic Church also has some significant problems and the frank assessment of their causes by the Catholic participants surprised me. I simply did not expect it. To the Orthodox participants the discussion revealed a resilience and strength within the Orthodox Church that we tend to take for granted.

The resilience has to do with how we worship, how the Divine Liturgy is the essential locus of Orthodox self-identity and maintains a unity of faith despite our jurisdictional divisions. We talked about this at some length especially how in our secularized age (I define secularization as the loss of the awareness of the sacred dimension of creation) many people experience deep interior alienation but are also compelled toward authenticity and communion, especially among the young.

The yearning for authenticity and communion is a search for the transcendent and structured worship speaks directly to it. This is one reason why converts to the liturgical churches (Orthodox and Catholic alike) are often conservative in their approach to worship. In a culture where the divine dimension is lost and worship no longer exists, sexuality becomes a substitute. Malcolm Muggeridge said years ago that “sex is the sacrament of the materialist.” Ideologically this is true but as a priest I also take a more functional approach. The rampant sexuality we see in our culture is often an attempt to self-integrate and find communion — a reach for the unifying clarity that touching the transcendent promises — although greater disintegration is the inevitable result.

The Catholics at the conference understood the relationship between worship and encounter with Christ but are dogged by theological liberals who still insist that the deconstruction of traditional forms is progress. Time is on their side however since theological and moral liberals don’t create children (an abortion mentality applies to ideological progeny as well). They have been unable to raise others in the ideas that they have embraced and new recruits are drying up as the spiritual barrenness of the liberal flanks becomes increasingly evident. They are graying now and in another decade or two they will be gone.

The participants wondered how Orthodoxy, with all its apparent disorganization, can still maintain a uniformity of worship. To us it seems self-evident: worship is the locus of self-identity because that is where the Gospel is preached and where the matrix of faith and morals is brought from the speculative into an encompassing experience that offers knowledge, wisdom, and insight. In sermons I describe it as living our lives not in black and white, but in living color. Anyone who has ears to hear and eyes to see recognizes the power of worship even if only intuitively at first.

I was asked, “What would happen if you changed the Liturgy around?” I answered, “My people would call the Bishop on Monday morning and he would call me on Monday afternoon.” They asked, “What would happen if the Bishop changed it around?” I responded, “They would chase him out of town.” At that point I was corrected by another Orthodox participant who quoted from one of the Fathers, “They should throw him into the river.”

There are several important take-aways from the conference. The first is that Catholic and Orthodox apologetics assume a reality that simply does not exist. All institutions have problems and the both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have their share of them. I’ve spent my share of time with Catholic apologists and frankly, I just get tired of it. There is always an answer for everything. Catholics I am sure would express the same exasperation from the other direction.

This is not to say that substantial differences don’t exist. Clearly they do. Nor is it to say that every ecumenical encounter must have as its goal some kind of unity. I’m not sure if unity between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches is even possible given present circumstances but even if it were, I’ll leave it to others to work it out.

Nevertheless, a unity of sorts was evident and — the second take-away — strengthened. The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, a Lutheran convert to Catholicism, wrote years back that the new ecumenicism is the ecumenicism of the Spirit. What he meant was that Christians from Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism should be clear about their differences but talk together anyway. We are drawn by the Spirit of God and driven by increasing de-Christianization of the larger culture. “We are more united in the acknowledgement of our differences than in pretending that they don’t exist,” Fr. Neuhaus correctly said.

Needless to say the participants in the conference were social and moral conservatives — orthodox Catholics and non-progressive Orthodox. We see the same dynamic when talking with Protestants. Authentic conversation with Christians of other communions takes place only when the foundational moral and theological questions are settled.

Again, this does not mean that universal agreement exists. It doesn’t. It does mean however, that the path to moral and theological relativism where distinctions are erased and where the authority of the received tradition is reduced to private opinion is closed. Unity at the expense of truth is a collaboration of the confused where the only possible outcome is collapse. We can look to the Episcopalian Church or the National Council of Churches as evidence.

We Orthodox owe something to the Catholics. Catholic leaders have been the clearest and strongest voice in the defense of the dignity of the human person in our increasingly secularized culture. We benefit from their witness. They draw from the moral tradition in ways that that hold our own leaders to account — and correctly so since we hold that part of the moral tradition in common. All Christians, not just Catholics, benefit from their faith and courage.

They also give the American Orthodox Church some breathing room as it finds its way in American society and learns how to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the American ethos. Learning this takes time just as it did in the early centuries of the Church. Orthodox Christianity has much to give secularized America especially to the young who, as I said at the outset, are searching for authenticity and communion.

What are they waiting for? In a word — anthropology. “Anthropology” is a theological term that is derived from the Greek work anthropos or “man.” It means that within our Orthodox tradition lies the knowledge of what it means to be a human being particularly how our personhood — the who of who we are — is realized and actualized in communion with the Risen Christ. We Orthodox understand this. Our anthropology is developed. That’s one reason why the Church does not fall apart despite our disorganization and historical suffering.

This understanding has to be brought forward and actualized in the American ethos because that is where we live and how we think. This is true of both cradle born and converts (two misnomers because both are adopted in Christ only through baptism) if the ground for human flourishing is to be recovered and tilled. Many are waiting for us. This too was evident at the colloquium.

I’ve written extensively in the Catholic press about the cultural project that has brought Catholics and Orthodox together on high levels (Pope Benedict and Pat. Kyrill for example) as well as local efforts like the colloquium. One question the Orthodox asked was whether the retirement of Pope Benedict would dampen the work.

It does not look like it will. Pope Francis is faithful to moral tradition and also appears to be courageous (these days there is no faithfulness without courage). He understands the moral crisis in Christendom and appears to be as committed to the restoration of the Christian foundations of culture as his predecessors were. This portends a good future for Orthodox-Catholic relations and will hopefully make more Orthodox aware of the grave crisis facing us.

May God grant him many years.


  1. Archimandrite Gregory says

    As usual Fr. Hans cuts to the quick with clarity and vision. I might add that our jurisdictional overlaps may not impede the church from functioning as a worshiping community,, but it does limit us to some degree from proclaiming the Gospel effectively and with a united front. Hopefully as time goes on we will be forced to confront ourselves in Love and then witness to the world in that Love which expresses itself in the Beauty of worship and the wholesomeness of fellowship.

    • Abbouna Michel says

      Okay, let’s imagine that we’re just ordinary folks in the pew, rather than Orthodox illuminati. Answer the following questions the way you think ordinary Orthodox might.

      Which is more impressive, a hierarch who wears a cheap watch on a black strap, or one who has his picture taken with a VERY expensive Breitling on his wrist (subsequently, airbrushed out of the photo because of pushback)?

      Which is more impressive, a hierarch who tries to negotiate a way forward for the Church in the context of a totalitarian government, and shields people in the process, or a hierarch who’s a member of the secret police?

      Which is more impressive, a hierarch who takes the bus and subway, or a hierarch who tools about in a Cadillac Escalade?

      Which is more impressive, a hierarch who lives in a small apartment and cooks his own meals, or a hierarch who coyly hints that his net worth is well over $1M?

      Met. Jonah was wont to say, “You dress someone up like the Byzantine Emperor, put a crown on his head, and tell him to live a thousand years, and what can you expect?” The answer is: it all depends on the person. There are hierarchs like Met. Nicholas Smisko of blessed memory, and there are hierarchs like (you fill in the blank). There are priest like Matta el Maskeen [Matthew the Poor], who almost single-handedly revitalized the Coptic Church, and there are priests like (you fill in the blank).

      Ordinary jedda’s and sitto’s may not be able to explain the Council of Chalcedon or parse Church Slavonic verbs, but they respond to humility, sincerity, conviction, and holiness. George and Fr. Hans are spot on with their focus on the integrity of vision of the Roman Church, articulated by Pope Francis. But, equally important is the perception that the individual “walks the walk,” as well as “talks the talk.” Too often, we (including myself) in this forum talk as if the only thing that matters is what Symeon the New Theologian and the typicon say about something. These have their value, but the really important things are clarity of vision, and integrity of life. Abstract Catholicism or abstract Orthodoxy or abstract anything doesn’t bring people to the Gospel and personal conversion. Example does. Folks like “Stan the Man” may excoriate the Monks of New Skete for having an icon of Francis of Assisi, but one of the latter’s sayings is worth keeping in mind in our hedonistic, secularized, cynical world: “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”

      • Michael Bauman says

        Being one of those unwashed in the (ick) pews, I’d take the simple over the ostentatious BUT if the ostentatious guy did not engage in syncretism and heresy and the simple guy did, I’d take the ostentatious guy. I’ll take all of my bishops over any RC bishop any day.

        • Is Abbouna Michel really suggesting that the average Orthodox Joe will become a Uniate because the Pope comes across as a nice, humble guy? And what’s all the fuss about riding public transport – I do it every day and I never considered it especially virtuous!

          • Ordo Antiquus says

            There is also such a thing as ostentatious humility. I’m not accusing Cardinal Bergoglio of it; I am merely pointing out that it exists. If having a secretary and staff and a service vehicle and a comfortable airconditioned residence helps my bishop or Patriarch focus on his work more efficiently then I’m all for such “ostentation”, which is nothing more than practicality.

            By all accounts Cardinal Bergoglio was a humble and simple guy. It was also under his watch that Argentina became so secular that it legalized gay marriage; Cardinal Bergoglio himself tried to stop it by supporting gay civil unions instead, something that the conservative “no Pope can do any wrong” Catholic media is trying hard to ignore or airbrush out of memory.

            Merely being humble and simple won’t cut it; the faith also has to be preached in all of its integrity. By the way, St. Francis never said those words about using words only when necessary, and his Order is known for numerous writers and preachers.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              Thanks, Ordo Antiquus!
              One might also recall St. Francis’s remarks about ‘the Greeks.”
              Jesuits, Franciscans, Dominicans all have “numerous writers and preachers.”

              Long ago, in the fifties, when i was in the army. there was a feud on our post between a chaplain who was a Dominican and one who was a Franciscan. ONE of them would put artificial flowers on the altar; the other claimed only fresh ones are allowed. I don’t recall which was which, but it all came out when one of them threw the artificial flowers in the trash too many times and a fight ensued.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Abbouna, thank you for this critique. If I may, I’d like to address all who have commented on this thread (e.g. Andrew, Mr Trakas, yourself, etc.):

        That’s rather unfair. Whether a bishop is wealthy or poor is immaterial. The question is does he reflect Christ’s image in his own face? (I got that from Lexcaritas.) Being poor is not necessarily a virtue as there are many greedy, grasping men who are poor and a few wealthy men who manifest the love of Christ (think Joseph of Arimethea, Nicodemus).

        I don’t know whether Kirill is personally wealthy or not. (I will admit that the Rolex-gate thing was a gaffe of the first order.) That being said, does he manifest the love of Christ? Again, all I can say is that I see the fruits of the ROC and have commented extensively on their pro-active evangelical and charitable/humanitarian works. That’s not nothing.

        Andrew, William: the problem with the Phanariote bishops is that they appear grasping. For one thing, they have no real dioceses but are merely gadabouts who accomplish nothing but travel and put out press-clippings. This folderol drags down the GOA in its undertow. It may be unfair but the perception is that the GOA likewise doesn’t care about real evangelism. Just look at the latest edition of The Orthodox Observer. On page 4, there are no less than five (5) photos of Arb Demetrios shaking hands with Hollywood and business luminaries. I’ve tried not to criticize the GOA because of the problems of the OCA (which in my opinion is unsalvagable) but they keep on doing nonsense like this. Who cares? Why not a picture of a GOA bishop at a soup kitchen? Why don’t each of the GOA dioceses have soup kitchens? Why do they passively try to sabotage FOCUS? Etc. I mean really, they’re the gift that keeps on giving.

        I guess that’s one reason the more vocal GOA bishops preach political liberalism. It lets them –and the GOA–off the hook from having to do philanthropy. (It was Will Rogers who said, “I remember when a Liberal was somebody who was generous with his own money.”_

        If a GOA bishop drives an Escalade or lives in a nice split-level, it doesn’t bother me at all; what bothers me is that the perception is that this is all they care about. America, the poor in their own backyard, etc, is glaringly absent from the mindset of the GOA. Instead, Byzantine nostalgia, celebrophilia, etc, is what is perceived to be the concern of the GOA.

        BTW, I’m not piling on against the GOA exclusively. The cult of celebrity that is apparent is not a fault of the Greek people per se. I’ve been to Greece many times (as well as other European countries). People there are not nearly as preoccupied with celebrities, movie actors, etc, as they are here in America. Greek-Americans have simply imbibed the unfortunate American quality of celebrity-worship and have given it a religious patina. One reason of course is because all Greek immigrants started out dirt-poor. Being photographed with some movie star or athlete is one way of showing the peasants back home that “I’ve made it.” This is another reason that the GOA bishops slobber all over a Greek-American politician (even if they’re not Orthodox).

        I guess what I’m saying is that the people in the pews bear the brunt of the blame. We get the bishops we deserve.

        Sorry for the tangents.

        • “Whether a bishop is wealthy or poor is immaterial”: that is frankly wrong. Yes a poor man may be grasping but a wealthy Bishop can in no way image Christ nor inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Read St Basil, or better yet, the Gospel.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Greg, your point is well-taken but it does not obviate against my own per se. Perhaps I should have been more specific. I didn’t mean personal wealth, i.e. a six-figure salary, real estate holdings, stock options but the wealth of the diocese itself, which the bishop holds in trust. Let’s not forget that the bishop’s vestments are not cheap, nor his mitre, crozier, nor the liturgical implements of any given Orthodox temple. There is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves. As far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier.

            What is wrong is the near-total abrogation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by so many of the Orthodox jurisdictions here in America. Notice I said “many” not just the GOA. To this I must regrettably add my own, which now seems to think that GAAP, MBAs, increased centralization, clinical sovietology, and all-around dithering regarding the election of bishops is more important that spreading the Gospel.

          • Sean Richardson says

            This seems reflective of the possessor vs. non-possessor debate in Russia (St. Nilus vs. St. Joseph) … in which both sides ultimately were proven to ‘have a point’. When it was mentioned that Pope Francis would “take special care for the poor” the first thing that came to my mind was “and he’ll ask the rich to pay for it”.

            • William Harrington says

              Of course, and he should. After all, what is wealth for? Do not go confusing a Bishop, even a Bishop of Rome, with a government that does not ask the rich to pay, but simply confiscates wealth. The Vatican may be a state, but who can they forcibly tax?

            • Monk James says

              Sean Richardson says (March 19, 2013 at 11:35 am):

              This seems reflective of the possessor vs. non-possessor debate in Russia (St. Nilus vs. St. Joseph) … in which both sides ultimately were proven to ‘have a point’. When it was mentioned that Pope Francis would “take special care for the poor” the first thing that came to my mind was “and he’ll ask the rich to pay for it”.

              The most interesting thing about the possessors v non-possessors controversy is that both St Neilos of Sora and St Joseph of Volokolamo were both recognized as saints. But their divergent ways of monastic life must be explained and mediated.

              The distinction between these two monastic founders is almost identical to that between, say, St Francis of Assisi and St Benedict of Nursia in Italy, the former shortly after the western schism and the latter long before.

              Our orthodox Christian monastic practice has long held that we monastics must support ourselves, however we can, in blameless ways. And we do, although we are grateful for whatever help is offered.

              But to renounce all labor and commerce and expect — even demand — that people will pay the bills for us monks is unreasonable and objectionable. the roman catholic notion of ‘mendicant friars’ is repugnant to us.

              As a result, the theories of St Neilos of Sora (and other ascetic fathers) aren’t actuated except insofar as monastic communities support some of their number (and some others) who are called to a life of extreme solitude.

              These hermits will never be known to anyone apart from the monastics who support them, and even those who feed them will never see those ascetics once they are blessed to be gone into their barest cells of prayer. It’s only when the baskets of provisions are lowered to those cells are pulled up untouched after a few weeks that someone looks in on the hermit, usually to find him dead.

              Sooner or later, another monk enters that cell and the process is repeated.

      • To conclude that Abbouna Michel was “really suggesting that the average Orthodox Joe will become a Uniate because the Pope comes across as a nice, humble guy” entirely misses the point. There is more to faith than blind allegiance to either a rigid legalism or rigid ritualism – or resorting to the use of tired charges like “syncretism.” As to ostentatiousness within the hierarchy, I agree with George that alone is not the sole measure of the worth of any man. I have known enough bishops and clergy in my life to understand that clothes don’t necessarily make the man. Nor does outward simplicity guarantee virtue.

  2. Michael James Kinsey says

    A world economic crisis is upon us. It is worsening every day and has yet to reach it’s full impact.Money will talk the loudest. It is likey the crisis will have great effect on religious life, including the relationships between religions.The Christ was not wordy. He said what God’s Will is, when He responded to the devil’s temptations. Love God, and serve Him alone, live by His Word and by bread, and do not tempt God. He also instructed the wise virgins to bring the oil, that is the love of God in thier lamps, and trim the lamps with trust in God. For all things work for Good, for those who love God.

  3. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    “Fr. Hans cuts to the quick with clarity and vision.”


  4. Michael Kinsey says

    I have posted my abomination of desolation definition all over the internet. I don’t need your site to explain it to readers. You need not post this either.I trust God, I don’t trust you.

    • Dear Michael,

      Could you provide a link to where you posted your abomination of desolation definition?

      • Michael James Kinsey says

        Just goolge abomination of desolation and my name.

        • I did google this as you requested and got about 35 versions of your very message . Seems like an end of times protestant kind of thing but past the first Google page, why search?

          • Michael James Kinsey says

            The Christ’s responses are not protestant, they are Orthodox.Prove they are not Holy Scripture, fully accepted by the Holy Fathers of the Church and included in every type of bible. What can I say?Are the Words of the Very Christ Himself not good enough for you?They are not my words, they are His Words.

            • Michael Bauman says

              “I will have mercy, not sacrifice”

            • Michael Kinsey says

              You really have a problem with people who don’t like not being show the highest regard and respect while stepping all over people. Guess it must because the love the high seats where one dare ever say anything they don’t care to like.Bite me!

  5. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    People who only yesterday were castigating the media are today drinking up every single drop about the new Pope whom no one knew anything much about before or cared?
    Are the Dominicans protesting about this Jesuit favoring the Franciscans to dramatically? Will the next Pope have to take the name Dominic?
    It is the Greeks and their Church that resulted in the only nasty remarks from St. Francis on record. I bet the media don’t know that one!

  6. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    Here’s a list of representatives. Notice where OCA is listed.

    • George Michalopulos says

      That would be condign punishment for us Lola. Thanks for the info.

      • That saddened me as someone “under” the EP. I noticed that a Ukrainian Orthodox delegation was placed with the OCA. Was that Met. Antony of UOCUSA? Perhaps the hypersensitive protocol geeks from the Curia thought that seating the UOC delegation would offend the Russians and the OCA would do likewise to the Greeks so they decided to offend us all by excluding both. I suppose that’s one way to foster Orthodox unity.

        • Dear Sarisan,

          Are you a part of this group? I personally like accordian music and Carpatho type dancing.

          You said

          Perhaps the hypersensitive protocol geeks from the Curia thought that seating the UOC delegation would offend the Russians and the OCA would do likewise to the Greeks so they decided to offend us all by excluding both.

          On the other hand, if that is the case why lump them with a kind of strange Armenian Apostolic group and a kind of Anglican? My feeling is that, being ultra hierarchical, they simply did not know where any of those groups in hte OCA category fit, and no insult was intended

      • Take a look at the title that was given to the head of the OCA delegation. Is that the correct title to use?

    • The “Other” cathegory is rather baffing:
      I can get why the UOC is separated (I suppose it’s the Kiev Patriarchate, they’re still “canonically irregular”) and Taize (for the Vatican it holds a special status long ago); but
      The anglican bit is a mixed bag: a bishop from NZ, the bishop and auxilary of Gibraltar/ Europe (CoE), and the bishop for Europe (TEC) ¿why don’t put them with the representatives of the CoE?
      Is the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey NOT in communion with the other Catholicos? Or is there any political problem?
      And why Rome puts OCA, as a matter of protocol as an “irregular” jurisdiction

      • Why the OCA in ‘Other’? It’s a respectful nod to the Ecumenical Patriarch, with whom Rome has more friendly relations than Moscow and better prospects of dialogue. They don’t want to offend by recognising the OCA’s “autocephaly” in the seating arrangements. Moscow can no longer be bothered to stand up for the OCA, so everyone’s happy…except for the OCA, of course. But I’m thinking Rome calculates it has nothing of value to lose by putting the OCA’s nose out of joint.

      • ProPravoslavie says

        You give the Vatican bureaucrats too much credit. They often don’t know what is happening in Orthosphere. The Pope’s abandonment of the title “Patriarch of the West” in 2006 was done supposedly to improve ties with the Orthodox East but it had the exact opposite effect. That gives us an idea how much the Vatican really understands Orthodoxy.

        • ProPravoslavie,

          In this case, the Vatican knew exactly what it was doing as Basil lays out in his comment. It is bad news for the OCA but it was their best attempt at making contact with Pat. Bartholomew in their frantic effort to get an invite to Constantinople. However their attempt by going to Rome to see the EP didn’t bear fruit. No visit, no recognition, no nothing.

          So what does the OCA do? They send a letter to Metropolitan Jonah demanding that he move out of the house he rents in DC. Why would they do that? What good does that do? What good purpose does that serve? The only thing it continues to demonstrate is the unwillingness to treat +Jonah with respect.

          The Vatican may not care about the OCA but you can rest assured that the EP keeps the Vatican posted on the silly OCA and its standing within world Orthodoxy. Hence, the OCA is “Other.”

    • Richard Saunders says

      It would have been better if Met. Tikhon and Fr. Tosi had stayed at home and avoided this embarrassment.

    • Heracleides says

      Interesting to note that it was Tosi who tagged along as Tikhon’s minder whilst in Rome and not Lefty Squishy-kooky; perhaps the rumors of Leonid being on the outs at Syosset Village are true after all.

      • Heracleides,

        In a word, Kishkovsky is PISSED that he was passed over, not just by Jillions, but TOSI?

  7. Abbouna Michel says

    I believe, George, that your comments in reply to my critique are necessary but not sufficient. Yes, I agree that “by their fruits shall you know them.” But, the image of leaders DOES matter. In my experience, far more people leave the Church because of this than for any other cause. And, I don’t think that ostentation in clergy and hierarchs is irrelevant: it speaks to how such individuals understand the Gospel message and their role in proclaiming it. If we operate in sync with the world’s ways of assessing success and importance, then we are “of the world,” pure and simple. While trite, there is some truth in Marshall McLuhan’s old dictum that “the medium is the message.”

    God forbid that Scripture be quoted on an Orthodox blog, but it appears to me that Jesus is supportive of this perspective as well:

    But Jesus called them to him and said, “”You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20. 25-28). As in so many other instances, Jesus is a stern critique of behaviors, especially of those called to ministry.

    I try to pray over this passage at regular intervals, and measure my own ministry against it. The spread of the saving Gospel is either aided or impeded by the way we act and the image we project, clergy and laity alike. That’s the simple Gospel truth.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Image does matter, most definitely. I guess what I’m trying to say is just as we instinctively recognize manly men and goodhearted women, so too do we recognize moral bishops. I grant you that it is difficult for a grasping man more concerned with wealth to be a good bishop (make that impossible) but there have been men who have inherited wealth who were good bishops (like St Nicholas of Myra). Likewise, I am sure that there were successful businessmen, politicians, and soldiers who became good bishops as well. All things being equal, I would rather have bishops chosen from the ranks of godly monks who have taken vows of poverty and thus could not be subject to bribery or flattery.

      Is there not as the French say a je nais se qua? An intangible feeling that one gets when one meets a man or woman who is a moral force? Who possesses a “presence” if you will? In military terms this is called a “command presence.” He’s the guy that takes the lead no matter what the circumstances.

      Of course I agree with you about ostentation. That’s one reason nobody takes the metropolitans-without-dioceses of the Phanar seriously. Not only do you get ostentation, but drama, obscurantism, legalism, and Lord knows what else all in one useless package. It’s not any better in the Church of Greece where every bishop of every diocese no matter how small has taken on metropolitan airs.

      Lord have mercy.

      • Bill Congdon says

        George, just FYI, it’s “je ne sais quoi.” It means “I don’t know what.” I also like to say sometimes that someone or something has a certain je ne veux de savoir quoi, a certain “I don’t want to know what.”

        • George Michalopulos says

          Thank you.

          • Bill Congdon says

            I often open my mouth with good intentions and close it again around my ankle, with my foot inside. This happens especially when I want to bring out interesting (to me) and amusing (to me) facts and end up sounding intrusive and condescending. George, my apologies, and thank you for your gracious answer.

  8. Archimandrite Gregory says


    Are you aware that Orthodox hierarchs are now united into an assembly of canonical orthodox bishops? Metropolitan Anthony and Metropolitan Tikhon would have no problem being seated next to each other. Thank God we are moving beyond the pettiness of yesteryear.

  9. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    What in the world possessed the Holy Synod and unnamed bureaucrats of the OCA to send their primate/First Hierarch to the enthronement of the Pope?
    Patriarch Bartholomew goes to all those papal events if there’s a chance he’ll be photographed with the Roman Pontiff and he’ll get to imagine that the heir of St. Andrew is being recognized as such by the heir of St. Peter–a regular theme of the Phanar since the middle of the last century, accelerated and frantically bruited after the resurgence of the Russian Church and her massive hierarchy and wealth and influence. St. Andrew’s successor! What a joke! As if the Apostle Andrew would single out the pagan town of Byzantion with no synagogue, in order to establish a “See!”
    Surely, if the Patriarch of Moscow sees fit to show his respects to the Pope by letting the hierarch in charge of EXTERNAL affairs convey his greetings, the OCA would have been WELL-ADVISED (those days are, we now see, over for good) to send either Bishop Alexander (in charge of EXTERNAL affairs) or shown some imagination and send Archbishop Alejo! Most Orthodox Primates were content to pray in their cathedrals during the first week of the Great Fast. Surely, Metropolitan Tikhon would have been happier starting the Fast with Vespers followed by the Office of Forgiveness on Sunday evening, then on Clean Monday, the Lenten Hours and Vespers in the a.m. and Complines with the Great Canon in the evening.
    Bishop Alexander can speak Greek and Russian well and would not be totally at sea amongst the rather sophisticated company of the clergy of Rome. Archbishop Alejo would have put the Greeks to shame if he spoke to the Pope in fluent (even if Mexican accented) Spanish. What foreign languages does Fr. Tosi speak? WHY NOT send someone who can, oh, spell?
    Is there NO ONE in the Chancery of the Holy Synod with any administrative know-how? I’m sure the visit THRILLED both the Metropolitan and the Secretary. Where was the Chancellor? Busy preparing a new revelation of the thoughts in his private diary to uplift the Faithful?
    The event could have added SOME luster to the public image of the OCA, but the contrary was achieved.
    Everything was “teamwork” when Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick was the Chancellor. NOTHING is teamwork in the administration of the OCA since he was given the bum’s rush: not under Metropolitan Herman/Garklavs, not under Metropolitan Jonah/Garklavs and not under Metropolitan Tikhon/Jillions, (two loners).

    • Subdeacon Justin says

      Distracted by American media attention on Rome, our leaders have overlooked the suffering of our brethren in Cyprus. How about a special petition for them, or at least an acknowledgement of the situation? I won’t propose a special collection….because I rather like the placement of my limbs. But, c’mon, at least urge additional prayers of the faithful that the Lord ease their suffering.

  10. In that possession (and not freedom) is an attribute of the Evil One, we could hazard a guess as to what or whom might have possessed the Holy Synod & unnamed OCA bureaucrats in the sending.

    But really, who believes in possession anymore?



    Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald wrote on March 22, 2013 at 6:21 pm:

    What in the world possessed the Holy Synod and unnamed bureaucrats of the OCA to send their primate/First Hierarch to the enthronement of the Pope?

  11. Axios! Pope of Rome Washes the Feet of Young Orthodox Christians.

    Memo to Phanar and 79th Street…. this is what leadership looks like.

    • Ordo Antiquus says

      Yes, in open violation of the liturgical laws of the Church of Rome, which dictate that only men can have their feet washed in this ceremony. Why? Because those who have their feet washed historically represented the Apostles, who were men; and Holy Thursday is when the Church of Rome celebrates the MALE-ONLY priesthood. This rubric is something for which many loyal Catholic priests have suffered persecution and opprobrium from feminists and liberals and supporters of women’s ordination. The Pope himself doing this sends the message that liturgical abuses are really OK in Rome. Is this the kind of “Rome” you want to unite with? It is not even the Rome of Benedict XVI anymore, and we’re only a month away from the end of his Pontificate. THIS is what the Church of Rome has become: a Church of passing fads in all but moral matters, and of increasing flexibility even in doctrinal matters; and if the lex orandi and to a certain extent the lex credendi can be so easily played with, then it is only a matter of time before Rome falls on moral matters too.

      I sometimes think that you Orthodox have no idea how to value the treasures that you do have, so consumed you are with complaining about your problems.

      Last week the Orthodox Church of Cyprus put its entire wealth at the disposal of the State in order to help save the country from financial crisis. The Church of Greece feeds hundreds of thousands of people. You Orthodox have enough to be proud of!

      • Ordo Antiquus says

        Except that Jesus was the Messiah and had every authority to do what He did, while the Pope is but the servant of Tradition.

        There are many ways that Pope Francis could have shown mercy and compassion without causing damage and confusion on a seemingly small but crucial matter. I could just as well ask where was Pope’s Francis’ compassion to the priests and laypeople who had suffered because of their obedience to Rome on this very edict that the Pope has now disregarded.

        • George Michalopulos says

          That’s a very good point. Myself, I just wait to see Orthodox bishops do the same thing. I guess that’s why I’ve cut Pope Francis such slack in this regard. I could be wrong.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Definitely kumbaya time. There can be no mercy without standards and such mercy is for particular people for the good of their salvation. The washing of the feet is an icon of the last supper. There were no women there.

        The office of the papacy, as the RC defines it, is heretical (see the 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs) and that was before Vatican I. Is it any surprise that a man filling that office would do things not in accord even with his own tradition let alone outside the Apostolic faith?

        • Bill Congdon says

          This is putting the matter too strongly. The Pope’s message was not to surreptitiously promote feminism or cast the tradition into question, but to underscore that the Church he leads must be a one of poverty and service. Make the points about tradition if you like, and more power to you, but don’t throw out the baby (or at least its feet) with the bathwater.

          • Joseph I says

            For an evaluation of pope Francis and what will be the result of his reign, go to this traditional catholic blog:


            I recommend to, especially, read the comments and if you can spare the time read more recent articles to the pontificate of Francis.

            The Orthodox enthusiasm for Francis is, to say the least, embarrassing… Is there a papal equivalent to Obama hysteria? How does “Yes we Can” or “We are the One we have been waiting for” sound in Latin? As Orthodox, we should make a wide detour around the new Rome…. Moscow is doing it. Is Constantinople?

            I predict a strong surge of traditional Catholics joining the Orthodox church, a further protestantizing of the majority and as a result, a schism within that church as well as the complete demolition of what is left of their liturgical tradition. Francis is the “Last Stand” of the modernizers in the RC and knowing their revolution has failed, they are now going for broke before meeting their maker. May God have mercy on them, because the coming generations will curse them and all the “progressives” of our time, political and religious.

            In view of Rome, what is going on in the OCA is merely a third rate production of an exceptionally inane tragic-comedy, put on by the town folks of Twaddle-upon-Syosset, in the county of Irrelevantasium.

            • Bill Congdon says

              Joseph I., I read the blog post and comments to which you pointed me. Since I don’t have much background in traditionalist Catholicism and its current concerns, can you give me some specifics on what’s at stake here? I gather that liturgical issues are especially pressing, but what else? From what I’ve read, I don’t think Pope Francis is going to introduce liberal doctrine or liberation theology (more accurately, the Marxist wolf in an unconvincing “Catholic” sheep’s costume). Thank you.

          • tradition says
            • Joseph I. says


              I hope you are not serious with this. Besides that this is repugnant un-orthodox kitsch, it fits right in with this on the catholic side:

              Why do you call yourself “Tradition” when you are promoting everything but…?

              • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD, says

                Whirling dervishes in a Roman Catholic mass with a bishop presiding? Just another instance of the liturgical reductio ad absurdum of the Novus Ordo.

            • nit picker says

              It’s not quite as new as you imagine. A similar technique is used in the Greek islands using pebbles and medium sized stones. There are many churches that use the rocks to create intricate mosaics which feel wonderful on tired/sore feet. The use of the pebbles to create icons of the saints is a little more rare only because the rocks that are used don’t have many color variations. I suppose one could refer to Archpriest Dimitri’s works as “seashell” mosaics. 🙂

        • Then no women can receive the Body and Blood either.

          I’m sorry, Michael, but the only reason to limit footwashing to men or even priests is so that you don’t have to follow the Master’s command and example with as many people.

          I will bite my tongue and not say more.

          • Joseph I. says

            I will bite my tongue and not say more.

            I think that this is a splendid idea….

            Either you have no idea what you are talking about or you are being facetious… I give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the latter.

            • Then explain. There is a profound flaw that I have pointed out in Michael’s logic. Your turn.

              • Michael Bauman says

                The Apostle’s were commissioned to go and spread the faith to all which includes the Euchrist distributing of the Euchrist to all the faithful.

                The washing of the feet is a living icon of that commission and, by extension, the commission given to the bishops and priest who have followed.

                We will see what fruit the act bears.

                If it bears the fruit of a greater agitation for women priests and the inclusion of Muslim’s as worshipping the same God nonesense. It will not be a good thing.

              • Joseph I. says

                Um, there is no logical flaw, at least I can’t find one, but you are missing the point. Stand in the corner and think about WHY the foot-washing took place and WHY it is done today…
                Hint, something there has to do with Christ/Apostles, master/servant and bishop/priest. Nothing to do with the Eucharist…

                • lexcaritas says

                  Joseph, the footwashing was done, as our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in St. John’s Gospel, to show us that we should do as He did, and wash each others feet and, yes, even lay down our lives for each other as He was in the process of doing.

                  While He did this at the beinnging of this particular anticipated Seder, when a mere handwashing would usually occur, and at the meal during which He would institute the Holy Eucharist, does not necessarily mean that the footwashing or the Eucharist should be, thereafter, confined to men or the apostles successors (i.e. bishops).

                  While I do not disagree that the rite in question would best be confined to twleve men, it might not be so bad to have them was, in return, the feet of their wives, children and parents. We do something very like this a Forgiveness Vespers, don’t we?

                  May Christ fill us all with a little more charity for those we would so easily criticize–even our Catholic brethren. How can we not be show them more mercy, when our Lord would have us even pray for our enemies? Let us not be such ready accusers of the brethren. Let us rather pray for them and do what we can to see them restored. Let us win them and seek reconcliaton. Is this not the way of the Cross?


                  • Joseph I. says

                    lexcaritas, the point here is not the lesson you think I need (I knew), but that the Pope disregarded the canons of his church. The Latin church lives and breathes law and legality. Now if the Pope disregards the law of his church, what authority does he have to chastise anyone else disregarding that law? He is weakening the foundations of his own office and authority…

                    Maybe, as an Orthodox, I should laud him for this? I don’t think so….

                  • There is an RC canon law that says “Though shalt not wash the feet of a woman?” That is bizarre. In any event, I’m pretty sure the command and teaching of Jesus is more important and has more authority in the RCC than any canon law.

                    Here’s what Jesus said in John 13:14-17:
                    14 “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” 15 “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” 16 “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.” 17 “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

  12. Michael Bauman says

    Uncomfortable is the word and the feeling that is instigated in my with all this seeming Orthodox euphoria over the election of a Pope. Washing the feet of young Orthodox? Really?

    We suddenly are part of the Pope as the Apostles were part of our Lord? Creepy. Too much playing footsie with Rome is not a real good idea IMO.

    As pope and bishop of room, we have no part in him even less when he is the Vicar of Christ.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Michael, I know where you’re coming from and see your concerns. However isn’t there a bigger picture here? How the Pope, for all his theological deficits, is doing the right thing? Where are our bishops on the great issues of the day? Where are our bishops just abasing themselves before their flocks in the manner of Francis?

      • Michael Bauman says

        George, I don’t know where your bishop. Mine is leading, building up his diocese and his people tending his flock, actually washing our feet not working the press for some photo-op using some Lutherans from across the street as a means of asserting fake authority.

        We have no idea if Francis will deal with us in anything other than a condescending way.
        The Pope is, at best, the leader of a schismatic sect who can garner a lot of attention because there are so many lapsed and nominal Catholics in the US press.

        Getting all worked up about him is silly

        • George Michalopulos says

          Well, I don’t have a bishop presently being as I’m in the DOS. Yours definately is leading, he’s a great bishop, we all agree to that.

          I still must say that the pontificate of Francis has struck a nerve, maybe because the world is going to hell. Once the “gay marriage” takes hold, all bets are off. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next president has a Satanist giving the invocation.

          • Michael Bauman says

            To me the Francis freak-out is a bit too much like Chris Matthews’ leg tingling over Obama. The Pope is nobody’s savior although the ecclesiology of the RCC almost puts him there.

            All the excitement is media madness. We have no idea if he is doing the right thing, he may attempt to lead the RCC into apostasy rather than being merely schismatic and heretical.

            Projecting our own hopes onto him with no basis is illogical and borders on idolatry.

            “To do the right thing for the wrong reason is surely the greatest treason”. T.S. Eliot in Murder in the Cathedral.