The Fall-Out from Chicago

Well, it looks like we know the answer to the question we posed last week: the GOA Eparchial Synod caved to Patriarch Bartholomew.

According to The National Herald (story below), the delegation of GOA bishops that went to Istanbul in order to plead their case in favor of the three-man slate (triproposopon) they had submitted last July failed miserably.

Worse, according to this report, the EP’s wish to get rid of Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis is going to come to fruition as well. This of course will allow the EP to not only place his chosen candidate Metropolitan Nikita Lulias on the episcopal seat of Chicago but a non-American bishop (most probably Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis of France) on the archiepiscopal seat in New York City as well.

Both of these placements of course bodes ill for those who were hoping that GOA would become more independent and more open to the idea of working with the Episcopal Assembly as peers instead of Greco-triumphalists.

So complete was the rout of the GOA bishops that it is now clear that Patriarch Bartholomew is the undisputed head of the GOA. The placement of a foreigner as well as an American who has taken out Turkish citizenship on American episcopal thrones means that the GOA will continue along its uninspired path of boutique, dilettante Orthodoxy. For those GOA laymen who are desirous of evangelism or are uncomfortable with the EP’s globalist agenda, no option (save leaving the GOA) is available.

Given the downward trajectory of the GOA these past several years, it’s apparent that many are leaving regardless of who’s in charge in New York City. As to where they are going is anybody’s guess.

It’s not that the Phanar doesn’t have issues with Archbishop Demetrios’ stewardship of the GOA since he took over as archbishop in 2000. At best, there’s been nothing but stasis but to place the blame for the downward spiral of the GOA squarely on his shoulders is unfair. There’s more than enough blame to go around; clergy and laity, as well as hierarchy, must all bear some responsibility for this desultory state of affairs. (In truth, American Orthodoxy has experienced only stagnation since the time of Ligonier.)

True, the annual budget of the GOA has more than doubled since Demetrios took the helm and there’s precious little to show for it. It should be noted however that much of this increase in outlays is structural in that it reflects the overly-generous incomes and retirement packages of the bishops (who were needlessly elevated by Bartholomew to metropolitan status in order to buy their support during the Archbishop Spyridon crisis of the late 90s).

Nor should we forget that the Phanar functions almost completely upon generous seven-figure outlays from the GOA. Since Bartholomew’s accession to the Constantinopolitan throne, several well-spoken and highly-educated theologians have been elevated to metropolitan status (admittedly of defunct dioceses). Some of these men (e.g. John Zizioulis of Pergamum, Kallistos Ware of Diokleia and Elpidophorus Lambrianides of Prussa) are inveterate globe-trotters who participate in international and ecumenical fora and represent well the Phanariote version of Orthodoxy. None of this comes cheap. And it is the GOA which funds the majority of these activities.

Almost all of this has come at the expense of evangelism and outreach. To be sure, it was through Demetrios’ dogged persistence that the OCA was included within the Episcopal Assembly (much to the chagrin of the EP who has long held the OCA in contempt) but since then, the GOA has reverted to ethnic form, with the Archons leading the way. And given the fact that Bartholomew’s globalist agenda was telegraphed from the outset of his tenure as EP, it should be clear by now that the GOA had no other way forward but to continue to serve as the Phanar’s cash-cow.

In other words, the GOA had a decision to make: follow the late Archbishop Iakovos’ territorial vision for an authentically American Orthodox Church as pioneered by SCOBA and which almost came to fruition at Ligonier or continue being an ethnic dependency of the Phanar. Both could not happen as these visions are mutually exclusive. One was full of creativity, the other represents a perfunctory Orthodox observance. As such, Archbishop Demetrios was set up to fail.

Interestingly, 79th Street was quick to pour water on The National Herald’s reportage, disputing His Eminence’s removal (story also below). It’s possible that the truth of the matter lies somewhere in the middle –it usually does. Having said that, the rapidity of the response leads me to believe that TNH struck a nerve and rallied Demetrios’ partisans to his side.

It’s been an open secret for some time now that the Phanar has wanted to remove Demetrios from its American eparchy. Several years ago one of its metropolitans penned a scabrous and shocking letter accusing Demetrios of spiritual negligence of the worst sort. This was also around the time in which the Phanar sent the afore-mentioned Lambrianides to Holy Cross where he delivered a vitriolic screed on the state of American Orthodoxy.

In both instances, the push-back was severe. Indeed, the late Michael Jaharis penned a sharply-worded letter to Istanbul coming to Demetrios’ defense. A careful reading of this letter showed the Phanar who was in charge and it quickly beat a tactical retreat. In similar sense, it appears to me that the rapidity of the GOA’s response to TNH story leads me to wonder if another well-placed Archon (or more) went directly to 79th Street with similar concerns.

Having said that, the financial situation (to say nothing of the spiritual situation) of the GOA is dire indeed. It’s hard to see how it could be bettered with foreign primates at the helm however, especially when there’s no inner reflection of the powers-that-be as to why it is that the GOA has stumbled since the forced retirement of Iakovos.

Rather than merely blaming Demetrios, humility would direct the attention of a great many within the GOA to examine why it is that they are in this parlous state.


  1. I emerge ever so briefly from hiatus to make a personal observation regarding Abp. Demetrios (GOA).

    It saddens me that he is being forced out of his position at his age under these circumstances. It is reminiscent of the “theological cleansing” that has been perpetrated on Athos. As some of you know, I spent about 8 years in a GOARCH parish in the Midwest. I have met Abp. Demetrios and found him to be a man of saintly character and a peacemaker. I have seen no signs of hubris in the man. Even in his corrections he is gentle to his flock and I have personally witnessed this.

    Pray for our brothers in the Phanar and for Abp. Demetrios. The evil one is making a mess of things and some of us “know not what we do.”

    • Misha,

      I have met Abp. Demetrios and found him to be a man of saintly character and a peacemaker. I have seen no signs of hubris in the man. Even in his corrections he is gentle to his flock and I have personally witnessed this.

      Your very limited knowledge is not a proper basis for such sweeping statements, such that you attribute saintly characteristics to the man. You simply don’t know what you are talking about.

      Or perhaps you are a rug salesman. The current Archbishop does like rugs, since they are the perfect place to sweep the detritus.

  2. George,

    Much of what you have said is correct, but not everything.

    The current Archbishop IS to blame for the state of the Archdiocese. He is an empty vessel. Externally, he plays the role of professor and elder, but behind the facade is an unpleasant egotistical personality—full of himself; I speak from first-hand experience. Recalling the famous NY radio personality Bob Grant, “fake, phony, fraud…” comes to mind. He coddles the incompetent and marginalizes the proficient. He is more Protestant than Orthodox in taste. He pretends the spiritual master but cannot even reach the knee-caps of any of our blessed and holy modern elders.

    He is inadequate in so many ways that it is impossible to enumerate them. So, yes, downward spiral about sums it up, but what did you, or anyone else, expect with the likes of this character?

    Of course the EP is beyond the pale…a burning heap of spiritual illness. All of this has been covered previously, so what’s the point of reiterating it. Of course, this is not to express a preference for any other Patriarchal See, since there is enough bad leadership to go around…and around…and around.

    As a “son” of the EP I can tell you that it is a depressing situation. Especially for those of us who have been called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and wish to do so unhindered by weird attachments to Hellenism (which for these characters is mostly a pagan, rather than Christian variety).

    In the parish we are still arguing about English, no thanks to an Archbishop who instructed the students at Holy Cross not to use the response, Lord, have mercy, since Kyrie, eleison, cannot be properly translated into English. And this is happening as the house burns, and the inhabitants run for their lives, scattered here and there. [Thank God the students ignored this proclamation…]

    We are the jurisdiction with the most material resources, and we have wasted them to our eternal judgment.

    • If you don’t like him,the lay leadership got rid of his predecessor Spiridon. If you want Demetrios out-you might not like his successor!

      • JMC,

        The first sentence of your comment doesn’t make any sense…an if…then statement without a “then.”

        As for your second sentence, what I “want” and “like” is immaterial. God will give us what we deserve.

        • GOA Priest

          Both your corrections to JMC were unnecessary and a bit petty

          • I didn’t make a correction. I simply said that his two part comment was muddled and makes no sense. Your comment, on the other hand adds nothing to the conversation and is indeed petty.

            • If you tell someone they make no sense, that in itself is a correction by implication – even if you don’t add any helpful tips.

              The fact that you dismissed what he said as making no sense without asking what he meant or offering anything helpful, means that you were just giving him attitude and trying to make him look stupid

              It was quite clear what he meant

      • JMC,

        The first sentence of your comment doesn’t make any sense…an if…then statement without a “then.” As for your second sentence, what I “want” and “like” is immaterial. God will give us what we deserve.

  3. Petyr Baelish says

    Chaos is a ladder.
    Many who try to climb it fail and never get to try again.
    The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm or the gods or love.
    Only the ladder is real.
    The climb is all there is.

  4. The GOA can very easily topple Bart the Banana Republic Dictator by cutting off the millions of dollars they send him, or curtailing them to only a “token” Jizya, say a thousand dollars a year. Wonder who hustles this guy’s interests among those who feed him money? I have heard for years that this guy is also bankrolled under-the-table by the American government, ostensibly because he represents “Western interests,” or some such. I am today contacting my Congress-persons and asking that they take action to remove this character from the list of those who receive American green-backs as a surreptitious bribe. Wake up, GOA Archons… this clown isn’t your sugar daddy !

  5. Whether the archbishop stays or goes

    The GOA has now officially jumped the shark

  6. JMC

    I’m referring to a bit of TV history. It’s a little known/remembered idiom that comes from Happy Days

    Happy Days had been on for many years, but was finally getting tired. The writing and story line was getting dry. Then the writers of the show put Fonzi on water skies, and he jumped over a shark for some reason. The few remaining loyal fans of the show gave up after that. Jumping the shark is making that fatal error after a losing streak that reveals and solidifies your downfall.

    The show still went on for a short while after that, but not for long.

    The GOA show will still be on air for a bit, but it has jumped the shark.

    We pretty much just have an eastern pope now. He might as well dissolve the epharchy synod. It’s sole purpose can only be for show now – pun intended

  7. ashley nevins says

    The collapse of the GOA is really just starting. You are seeing the character destruction of this church first that then leads to a numerical loss. This church is basically irrelevant to its own X’ers and Millennial’s that are it future. Worse yet it is irrelevant to those same generations outside of Greek Orthodoxy in America. If a church cannot attract and retain younger generations it is a generation away from either extinction or becoming a museum church of irrelevancy.

    A dead church is a dark basement morgue but a living church is light to the world on a sun deck. Darkness is light in the GOA. That is the state of delusion this church is in and it’s sick. It’s high opinion of itself does not line up with Gods ethical or moral character that is humble and other centered and not proud and self centered. Power, control, image and self protection are its priorities and not evangelism, discipleship and healing outreach. The character of authoritarian power and control and not the humility of Christ is in authority in this church. Pride over humility is in power and control. Dead mans religion is in power and control over the living resurrecting power of Jesus that brings renewal and life.

    There will be no repentance spiritual revival taking place in this church in America. What, becoming more Greek ethnic, Hellenistic, monastic and tradition embracing is its revival?

    The Greek Orthodox have made their choice of what kind of church they are today and want to be in the future. They want an ethnocentric cultural museum church that has an arrogant viewpoint of itself and is systemically corrupt without a corporate and hierarchical repentance solution. Bondage is its salvation and that is why it has no solution to its corrupt and dead state. Its salvation that it exclusively claims to be and have cannot save it. That truth is very telling of many other things about it.

    In less than 15 years this church will be but a small fraction of its hemorrhaging size today.

    • Please tell me the church that you attend that I may attend after my own becomes a historic museum. Please tell me what true church, that I may receive the body and blood of Christ in the midst of church full with the sound of babies and young adults. Will there be electric guitars and thunderous drums that may rock out to?

    • Mr. Nevins,

      You are largely correct when it comes to the GOA, but not entirely for the right reasons. The GOA and the other modernist jurisdictions are not selling the Gospel but rather nostalgia to their own people (Greeks) and a veneer of exoticism and progressive politics to outsiders. The Byzantine stuff seems exotic and mysterious to some and it’s a bit of a minor draw.

      But Greek Orthodox largely marry outside their church and end up outside the fold. The hierarchy knows it. It’s been going on for over a generation.

      My point is, that’s not really Orthodoxy. Real Orthodoxy is something that you may never have encountered. If you were to go to a ROCOR or Serbian parish, or even a Greek Old Calendar parish, you would likely see real Orthodoxy being lived out. It is evangelistic, community minded, not particularly individualistic, centered on Christ, the Eucharist, and living a holy life in every aspect, both inside church and outside, in the family home which is a little church in and of itself.

      A bishop serving the Eucharist surrounded by the faithful is the Church. Our bishops have passed down not the traditions of men, but the Tradition of God. The sad fact is that this is not fully lived out in many modernist parishes and even some monasteries across the United States and therefore you are right. Byzantine-lite will fade away. The tension between real Orthodoxy and the world is too much for some people and it destroys them. That too is a shame.

      But the blame lies with those who put a false icon of Christ at the center of their humanist worship. We Orthodox have no quarrel with conservative Protestant Christians who seek to serve the Lord as best they understand Him. Our quarrel is with our own brethren who sell their birthright for a bowl of stew.

      • Estonian Slovak says

        The Serbs? You’ve got to be kidding. Maybe in some isolated spots, but not in general. At least, that’s my experience.

      • Misha, my experience is that ROCOR parishes are just as ethnic as GOA parishes and often even more so. Take for example your parish blog emphasizing not Christ, the saints the Eucharist but rather a Russian festival.

        • Festivals are fine so long as they are not done inside the temple itself. Money is not evil. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil.

          Ecclesiastes 10:17-20:

          “Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles, and thy princes eat in due season, for strength, and not for drunkenness! By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through. A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things. Curse not the king, no not in thy thought; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.”

          If you were to visit St. George’s (and I live two hours away so I can’t get there as often as I would like to) you would find that the Eucharist is the center of life, preparation by confession, fasting and attending vespers or vigil is the norm, and the community is vibrant with many godlike folks, saints and sinners all (the line between good and evil running through every human heart, as you know).

          But ROCOR needs no defense from me. It stands on its own reputation. As to the Serbs, I have only had positive experiences with them at the local parish I’ve visited from time to time. It is the other Old Calendar jurisdiction church in our area and they practice good eucharistic discipline as well. This is important because we encounter the Body and Blood of Christ in the Gifts. None is worthy, but we are made worthy by perpetual repentance. Not everyone who cries “Lord, Lord!” will be saved but only those who do the will of the Father.

          • I never suggested that money is evil. Money is neutral and can be used for good.The truth however remains–the Church should not be in the restaurant business and ROCOR remains an ethnic church.

            • I’m not sure which commandment states that the Church should not be in the restaurant business. As to ROCOR being an “ethnic church”, there is a sense in which we have to plead guilty to this. However, the most that can be made of it is that we kept both the baby and the bathwater. If you look at what the “other” Russian jurisdiction in America has and is doing, one must admit it defenestrates the infant.

              I know of other largely convert and all English ROCOR parishes as well. The culture and language thing is a balance. If it is a convert parish, no need for Slavonic at all. But we cannot be puritanical about language and culture when we have a situation where the American culture, to the extent it existed, has disintegrated to the point where there is little basis for “baptizing” it inasmuch as it has simply dissolved into feminist secular humanism (FSH).

              In parish like St. George’s where a substantial number of the laity come from Rus’ World, a significant percentage need the Slavonic to understand what is going on due to English not being easily intelligible. It would be weird to have a Russian Orthodox church serving the needs of all Orthodox in the area only excluding the needs of Eastern Slavs. I have personally young Russian mothers with children harassed by the local home owners (taunting and cursing) at our previous location.

              Charity begins at home.

              • Misha, where is the commandment that states you should not have festivals in the Church proper; obviously,we all know you should not, Secondly, where did you ever learn that charity begins at home? Your formation is deeply flawed. Charity and also love begin outside of self and outside community. Please let me know your biblical or patristic reference.

                God gave His son, the wisemen gave gifts, the Theotokos gave her womb. Examples of giving are replete in the Scriptures. St Chrysostom says “almsgiving(giving) is the forgotten sacrament of the church.

                • “Misha, where is the commandment that states you should not have festivals in the Church proper;”

                  ‘”And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.'” – John 2:13=16

                  The story is remarkable in that it appears in all four Gospels.

                  “There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. ” – Matthew 12:6-11

                  It is only false piety that exhorts us not to enjoy material things for the Body of Christ and makes a passion out of asceticism. We are not Jainists.

                  “And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children.” – Luke 7:31-35

                  • Based on your reasoning, the work of the church does not exist beyond the building. We are witness for Christ and represent His church wherever we are and whatever we do. I agree with the biblical passages you quote and believe they extend to the work of the church outside of the church temple. I use the same passages you quote to support my position that the Church should not be in the restaurant business. Your secular mindset, expressed by limiting the work of the church to the church temple demonstrates your faulty formation.

                    By the way, I am not a Jainist and do enjoy material things. God has given us the world we live in to be valued and enjoyed.

                    Interesting that you did not defend your ridiculous statement that “charity begins at home.”

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Are Jainists those French Catholics who sweep ahead with brooms as they walk, lest they tread upon an ant?


                      Jainism is an Indian religion loosely contemporaneous with Buddhism. Mahavira, its founder, took non-injury to the nth degree. When asceticism is embraced as a passion, rather than a Christ centered discipline, it leads to Jainism or something like it – aggressive self-abnegation – self destruction, a type of masochism which tortures to death the only soul that one can completely take hostage . . . oneself.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    “Do not deprive yourself of a happy day;
                    let not your share of desired good pass by you.”
                    Sirach 14:14

            • Or the tavern business for that matter

              I wonder how many DUI’s have happened that were connected to our churches’ Greek Tavernas? That would be interesting

          • Misha, if the things you say about this ROCOR parish are true, why is the festival central on the website. You can not serve 2 master , you will love one and hate the other, says our Lord.

        • I have experienced very few environments so far in life I have found to be as depressing as a Russian church.

          Going to an ethnic Russian/Slavic church is like going to a Winnie The Pooh convention – where everyone EVERYONE is Eore – and, like Tigger, all I can think about the whole time is bouncing

          • Estonian Slovak says

            Hey…listen up! What are you, part Jew like me? You want that the church should be a comedy club? Please, you talk of Winnie the Pooh, Star Wars, and Cookie Monster, then expect to be taken seriously?You should live so long!
            I am also half Slav and you should know Russians don’t suffer fools gladly. You seem more knowledgeable about movies than the faith. Well, let me paraphrase James Earle Jones in “Soul Man.” If you are going to take up this blog with humour, please see to it that it is funny.

  8. Michael Bauman says

    Dino, minus the rock guitars you can come to mine.

    • Michael Bauman, Your comment/invitation made me laugh so hard, I actually snorted! Now I know you are both sincere in your invitation, and understand my sarcasm. Thanks all the same. I will go down with the ship, before I abandon her, I know our Lord will save us in the end. In case you haven’t figured it out, Greeks always have to learn things the hard way. Our stubborn pride has caused us many problems, but I firmly believe the Greek Orthodox Church in America, by the grace of God will see the light! After all Orthodoxy has survived both Islam and Communist rule. A few bumpy years ahead for sure, but even in my Nick(not typo) of the woods, where love of Hellenism is king, we have seen great changes, even a new church with continual growth, evangelical spirit and even English liturgy.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Dino, I am glad you enjoyed my comment. It was meant to be funny. Nevertheless if you ever find yourself in my neck of the non-woods….

  9. Michael Woerl says

    Why wouldn’t they cave to the All Powerful Oz, Ecumenist Pope o’ de East, resident in Istanbul? “Constantinople” has become irrelevant. Totally. Join the Real Pope & get it over with. Pseudo-Hieearchs and pseudo-theologians answering to a pseudo-Patriarch pushing pseudo-Orthodoxy. Yawn … And how ’bout that annoucement: “THERE IS GROWING INTEREST IN MARTIN LUTHER IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH SAYS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH,” ??? The Comedy routine only gets worse when he takes it on the road.