The DC March for Life: Part I–Another Nail in the Coffin of the OCA?

Bp. Demetrios KontsavelosThe other night I attended the fourth annual March for Life (MFL) in my fair, albeit very cold, city. Hearing the stirring speech by an actual abortion survivor, I feel ever more confident than ever that the fight to preserve the sanctity of life was gaining national traction. As such, it pains me to point out that the OCA, which has long been the champion of the March for Life on the national scene, was shoved aside at the DC March for Life by the GOA. Unfortunately, this did not happen in a vacuum; as I shall presently explain, the loss of moral authority by the OCA made such a move inevitable.

Don’t get me wrong: I was heartily gratified to see Bishop Demetrios Kantsavellos of Chicago give the opening prayer. More, Bishop John Abdallah of the Antiochian jurisdiction was on the dais as well (as were three OCA bishops). After years of banging my head against the wall trying to get more intra-Orthodox participation at the local level, I felt that we had won a significant victory. We could at least point to the GOA’s first open participation at the DC event. Although it would have been easier for our cause had the GOA carried the banner of life from the start there is nothing wrong with being a Johnny-come-lately as we know from Chrysostom’s Paschal sermon.

To his credit, Katsavellos, who is an auxiliary in the GOA Metropolis of Chicago, has been the most vocal of all GOA bishops in the pro-life movement. Indeed, his singular participation and preaching in these regards has been stellar. More, he has attended the annual March for Life rallies in DC many times in the past. (Bishop Maximos Aghiorghoussis of Pittsburgh was the only other GOA bishop to do so back in 1989.) I mean nothing to take away from his participation. This is no small accolade: I imagine he has some serious explaining to do to the Archons (read: money-men) who control the GOA and the other bishops who continue to remain mute on this issue. As most everyone knows, the goal in life of the Archons is not to enable the Greek-American hierarchy to preach the Gospel but to kiss the hem of Caesar’s garment while playing Byzantine dress-up and handing out awards to half-naked Hollywood actresses.

It is for reasons such as these that I don’t think Kantsavellos’ participation was a cynical ploy –at least on his part. So what is my complaint?

Mainly in the way in which it was done. As most everybody in the OCA knows, Archbishop Tikhon Mollard, the primate-apparent of the OCA, was slated to give the opening invocation, as per long-standing tradition. This custom arose because of the good relationship between Fr John Kowalchyk, the Chancellor of Philadelphia, and Nellie Gray, the legendary leader that made the national March for Life happen. Nellie however recently passed away so this vital link between the OCA and DC-MFL was severed and because of her passing, the organization for the rally fell formally to the Roman Archdiocese of Washington. It is not clear whether the Roman episcopate reached out to the GOA or whether the Greeks decided to step to the fore but by the end of the day, it became obvious that Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis (or his designee) would do the honors. This made sense to the Catholics when they were told that as chairman of the Episcopal Assembly, he was the ranking Orthodox hierarch in North America. (That the Episcopal Assembly might not be long for this world is too soon to tell.) It’s also possible that the Catholics have taken the measure of the OCA in its present decrepit state and didn’t want to take the chance of embarrassing the DC-MFL. At any rate, the honors were given to the GOA. Needless to say, this put the MFL organizers in a pickle: how to uninvite Tikhon? A consolation prize was hastily cobbled together in that he would give the opening prayer at the ecumenical dinner later that day.

Am I as a member of the OCA bothered by the oneupsmanship displayed here? I’d be lying if I said no. For all its problems, the OCA alone has been the standard-bearer in the fight against abortion from the national to the diocesan and to the parochial scene. The GOA on the other hand has been conspicuously absent from this fight on almost every level. Moreover, it has bent over backwards to applaud national office-holders who upheld the culture of death that Roe v Wade unleashed on our fair land. This has not been easy for those of us who take the Gospel seriously. Many pro-life Greek-Americans have had to put up with a lot from family, friends, and co-parishioners who were ardently “pro-choice.” All spiritual aid and comfort went the other way. Worse, a few GOA priests spoke openly and from the ambo no less against the pro-life position! And it goes much deeper than that: from my own contacts in the various Catholic dioceses, I know that scores of GOA priests throughout the country have been asked –begged even–by their local Catholic hierarchies to participate in pro-life events. It’s not unreasonable to believe that based on the number of GOA parishes in the US, hundreds of GOA priests may have been asked at one time or another to participate. If the phone call was ever returned, the answer was always “no.” The moral cowardice on display here is both real and regrettable.

Hence my joy that the GOA decided that the time had come to lead the charge. That they may have done so in a ham-fisted fashion, one possibly designed to humiliate the OCA, is regrettable. Regardless, it was unavoidable. In fact it may have been providential given the OCA’s self-inflicted wounds. In subsequent essays, we will discuss among other things, the OCA’s continuing loss of moral authority in other arenas, the various inter-Orthodox disputes (such as the apparent implosion of the Episcopal Assembly process), and the resurgent Moscow-Constantinople rivalry which has recently come to the fore.

But make no mistake: the shunting aside of the OCA did not happen in a vacuum. And it was most definitely a nail in the coffin of the OCA’s autocephaly –but this time, it was driven in by a hammer handed to others by Syosset itself.

Next: Part II–What Does this Portend?


  1. I rejoiced to see Bishop Demetrios lead, and I’m no Greek. As for the rest, I really couldn’t care less. Jurisdictional ‘moral authority’ is a non-issue.

    There is wheat and there is chaff among us all. Let us rejoice in the wheat.

  2. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  3. Protopappas says

    George, you are assuming that the OCA did not ask that Bp. Demetrios lead the invocation. What if this was indeed the Orthodox Bishops themselves agreeing that he, as rep. of AbpD should lead it? If so, this is a beautiful thing that happened from every front. BTW, your listing of only scheming possibilities without any verification is the sin of gossip and unjustified presumption.

    THAT BEING SAID, the silence of any jurisdiction on this matter is a sin of omission, and a grievous one at that. A big thumbs up to the OCA for taking the lead on this for so many years. A big thumbs up to all the hierarchs who stood and led the nation in prayer for the life of the unborn this year, and may they all have many years in their hierarchy.

  4. this is a problem because why? says

    Perhaps Bp. Tikhon being blown off has something to do with the Stornheim verdict?

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      “this is a problem because why?” I don’t recall being blown off.
      +Bishop Tikhon

  5. Michael Kinsey says

    Playing musical chairs with the high seats after 40 years of piping and morning , and sitting in the marketplace , the place of commence, the abortion clinic ,by millions, in civil disobedience, and legal extreme discontent by those who already have God’s revelation to the human heart, which the rock the Church is built upon.. The Bishops should have been with Nelly the 1st year. Better late than never. The high seat squabble is a non issue within the hearts of these faithful, they follow Jesus Christ..

  6. If I'd known you were coming, I'd a baked a cake says

    ok, it might have been from a cake mix, but I would have followed the directions really carefully….

    Seriously, if you are planning to attend an event around DC, let us folks know in advance. This year doesn’t count for much because a lot of folks even thought the event was cancelled because of the freak storm.. Did you get a chance to talk to any of the Orthodox homey participants? Check in on the Metropolitan?

  7. As a Greek Orthodox Christian, my first response is shock and delight that the GOA had any representatives at all at this year’s MFL. I assumed that we had boycotted it in some fashion, as my efforts to find the least mention of the MFL in the GOA News or official website met with complete failure. Perhaps I did not look carefully enough.

    I did notice that Archbishop Demetrios’ schedule for Jan. 22 had him giving the Invocation at the 148th Dinner of the Harvard Club of New York City – a vibrant witness to a nation in need of Christ in the midst of this demonic holocaust of abortion, indeed. I can only pray that Metropolitan Demetrios Kantsavellos’ participation in such a visible role was not tainted by any kind of unseemly manipulation, or that it did not involve any kind of disrespect or lack of recognition for the long-standing and important role the OCA has played in this important event. Knowing nothing about it, I will assume the best.

    But if such was not the case, may I express my shame, and make my sincere apologies to my OCA brothers and sisters – indeed to all who witness for our common Orthodox Faith here in the Americas.

  8. Reader John says

    I attended the 2014 MFL and I was pleased to see the GOA Bishop Demetrios and the Antiochian Bishop John join the OCA to stand up for the unborn. Commenting on James 1:27 on Ancient Faith Radio, Fr. Lawrence Farley points out that James uses orphans and widows as an illustration of Christ’s call to care for the most vulnerable members of society. As pointed out in the OSB, the orphans and widows had lost their natural guardians. Now, in the 21st century, is it not the babies in the womb that have lost their natural guardians and that are the most vulnerable. In fact, is it not the mother and father, the “natural guardians” of the baby, who are deceived by the world, their own selfish desires and the devil to go against God and their own God-given nature and kill the baby that they have been given to protect and nurture?

    I don’t have my head in the sand, but I can’t help saying to our Greek and Antiochian Bishops and brothers in Christ-Thank you for standing with us!

  9. voice in the wilderness says

    Isn’t it about time we start thinking about encouraging the unity of the church under virtually any circumstance? We know the OCA is having problems—who cares? What’s more important for humanity at this very moment? The issues are much larger than the Orthodox church’s internecine struggles. It’s time to circle the wagons.

    It’s time for all Christians to mobilize and unite against the evil that’s now running rampant and destroying society.

  10. Ilya Zhitomirskiy says

    I know Metropolitan Hilarion has many very important tasks to do, but maybe ROCOR might be able to send one of its bishops to the March for Life next year, or the year after that. ROCOR may not have been involved on the front lines, but the fact that multiple dioceses signed resolutions against homosexual marriage gives hope. Maybe ROCOR doesn’t want to take center stage, but to operate behind the scenes. What do y’all say?

  11. Generally, the “presence” and “preeminence” of the EP and its “persons” is increasingly invasive and not at all a cause for lack of concern. As a faithful son of the OCA, I would like to make it clear that the GOA/EP does not speak for me or my North American local church or for my parish. One often hears the sighs of “jurisdictionalism” and “internecine this and that” but let’s remember that the GOA was formed taking advantage of the Russian Revolution to divide itself from the administration of the Russian American Metropolia and “go its own way.” Well, go your own way. There wasn’t so much concern about “jurisdictionalism” and “internecine this and that” then or for decades since. Opportunism is a pathetic mask for feigned “idealism.” Seems people have shifting standards of outrage all too often and are at home massaging hypocrisy.

    To avoid the “mixed message” of the GOA/EP on abortion and its clear decades long practice of “turning a blind eye” to moral issues is a mistake. They have had chancellors and other “noted churchmen” speak out as “voices for choice.” Never once with their “presence” within the Democrat party have they spoken against abortion, even when their primates have been invited to give invocations at their conventions. So why is it we are ceding our place at the podium to these people?! In the OCA, we may have “our issues,” (WHICH WE DO NOT NEED THE INTERFERENCE OF THE GOA/EP TO CORRECT) but we have had a consistent message and presence when it comes to such things as abortion.

    While I am not opposed to GOA/EP hierarchs (Or any other hierarchs) representing their particular voices when it comes to issues like abortion, as a faithful son of the OCA, I would insist that representative of my local North American Orthodox church, the OCA, have their own voice and their own message. Unity can be expressed without fealty to the Phanar and its pretensions. Our church must not cower in Istanbul’s shadow.

    What prompted me to chime in here was some sophistries scrawled at the Byzantine, TX blog. While I have no doubt that other Orthodox persons of “different jurisdictions” have spoken at the March for life in the past, it was never under the auspices of the OCA in some way abdicating its voice and having someone else speak for her. This is where the Monomakhos blog is correct in voicing its concerns.

    Most of us in the OCA would have found a way to be members of the GOA/EP administration if we had desired it. But we don’t desire it. Most of us have legitimate reasons as to why we prefer our local church. Let our hierarchs respect that.

    We are NOT GREEKS, not PHANARIOTS, have no interest in joining their ecclesiastical administration in whatever iteration it presents itself. We are members of the local North American Orthodox church. Our synod of Bishops should respect themselves and us and maintain the propriety and the interests of the OCA in the face of this encroachment. Moreover, our participation in the “Assembly of Bishops” should underscore that. No North American council voted for this surrender to the EP, and it is high time those in Holy Synod massaging Phanariot options realize that. I would wager that if given a choice between the EP and return to the Mother Church, the preeminent Orthodox church in the world, the Moscow Patriarchate, a good majority of the members, if not entire dioceses, of the OCA would vote in good conscience for return to Moscow. So our polarity is toward pan Slavic/Antiochian, non GOA/EP administration and unity. That being said as an affirmation of our distance and undeniable rejection of the presumptions of Istanbul: we are the autocephalous church in North America, developing our local church, and we refuse the danger of becoming an appanage of crypto-Uniate Istanbul.

    • Pere LaChaise says

      Very forcefully put, and I agree with everything except “mother church” – the OCA is sister, not daughter, to Moscow, little though it be in comparison. I think the Tomos makes that clear. Also, I would not bet many of the OCA clergy and lay, would opt for joining the MP.

      • I do hope for that day when our OCA will in all things be a sister church to the great Church of Russia uniting all Orthodox in North America with our native Orthodoxy and spirituality. I pray for that day and work to its fruition, but we are not there yet. So I very much value our relationship with our Mother Church.

  12. I think the reason that the ROCOR hierarchs are reluctant to get heavily openly involved in the organized anti-abortion movement is the mentality of the people in the ROCOR. They are paranoid of being or being accused of ecumenism. I know a ROCOR priest who was urged to join the local “pan-Christian anti-abortion society” and after giving it much thought decided against it because he didn’t want to cause any sort of controversy in his parish. Let’s not forget that a bishop is first and foremost responsible for the care of his own flock, and if that means steering clear of the mfl to not upset his people then God bless him for doing his job! Who knows, it might prevent some people from joining an old-calendarist church. We all know that ROCOR is probably the least morally compromised of the jurisdictions and I doubt there is a bishop or priest in the entire jurisdiction that isn’t 100%against abortion. But who needs all this speaking at and getting your picture made at all these marches and other public events? Are they trying to prove to the world that they’re anti-abortion too? The best way to do that would be to weed out all elements of the opposition within our own ranks.

    • M. Stankovich says


      Your response begs the question, how is that Fr. Georges Florovsky, either/or a professor of History or Theology at Union Theological Seminary, Harvard School of Divinity, and Princeton Theological – and obviously, first Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminay; likewise a member of the World Council of Churches since its inception (and invariably any and all ecumenical bodies at his disposal worldwide); was on the cover of Look, Life, and Time magaizines as an “ecumenical churchman”; and was a proud member of the Republican Party (you can find a photo of his membership card in the FB group dedicated to him), yet was never accused by the Orthodox as being a “theologically compromised ecumenist?” In fact, he is recognized as single-handedly leading a neo-patristic return to an examination to the essential role of Tradition at the core of the Church; he is a true father of our generation.

      And if you examine his writings carefully, many are papers – treasured examinations of the works of the Holy Fathers, how Tradition is derived by “joining with those Holy Fathers who preceded us…” listening at the feet of those who delivered the Faith to us,” “Preachers do not preach their opinion, but the Gospel, for such is how we have lost the Scriptural mind.” – were not delivered to Orthodox audiences! We were not inclined to listen. They were delivered at international conferences and only much later gathered, compiled, and translated, and consumed – eagerly so – by the Orthodox starved for inspiration.

      My point is essentially this: Fr. Florovsky demonstrated that it is dishonest and disingenuous to suggest that it will cause “scandal” or the “illusion” of scandal or compromising the Faith by witnessing to a greater good, even among the heterodox. “Who needs all this speaking at and getting your picture made at all these marches and other public events?” Your community needs it and it needs to see the Church as One: “Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together.” (Isa. 45:21) In case you have not noticed, the sad lesson of not speaking, of not appearing in pictures is that courts have decided for us.

      • Fr Georges Florovsky, of thrice-blessed memory was a pillar of the ecumenical movement when there were no women priests, no openly gay bishops, no same-sex marriages, no pro-abortion churches and certainly nothing then what passes for ecumenism today.

        To extrapolate what he was dealing with in the 1950’s and 1960’s on the current devolved ecumenical movement is absurd. Today’s ecumenical movement is a scandal and although preaching the Truth never goes out of season, there is a point when one must “shake off the dust from your sandals” and leave.

        Can you honestly say that he would abide with the crap that passes for “ecumenical” work today if he were alive? I think not. Since you have taken upon yourself to “speak” for him, let me then speak for him and say that he would have cut his ties with today’s politicized ecumenist agenda and left their heretical dust to others to muck in.

      • And how is it that people fail to mention when speaking of Fr. Florovsky’s ecumenical activities that he used participation in the ecumenical movement as a means of witnessing Orthodoxy which was later sidelined in the EP’s promotion of the “dialogue of love”

        which circumvented Orthodox ecclesiology by turning Orthodox participation into a more “denominational” approach (Which even Fr. Schmemann attested to in the below correspondence). How is it that Fr. Florovsky’s then open divide with the WCC and the ecumenical movement (and participation in it) is also so curiously ignored?!

        Or is the ecumenical movement with its advocacy of “Ishtadevas” in the place of CHRIST

        and the Far Left’s crusade for the rights of sexual minorities

        now such a sacred cow that it can avoid even embracing the whole truth of the legacy of its former participants? It seems to me Fr. Florovsky never thought that replacing CHRIST with an Ishtadeva would ever be a viable outcome of dialogue, nor would he ever have embraced the language of “eschewing Christological exclusivism,”

        but then again proponents of ecumenism (The “Orthodox” ones) fail to mention that this is just the apostate evil that goes on at these assemblies, oblivious to the “separate statements” of the “Orthodox” who seem not to be saying much in regard to these denials of fundamental Christian doctrine… And do let’s consider some of Fr. Florovsky’s concerns regarding dialogue:

        …Is it possible to restore the lost unity, and to strive for this? Or, alternatively, should one be reconciled to the separation as final and irreversible, and read any attempt to “reunite” as hopeless and rather dangerous? Historical examples suggest, it seems, the most pessimistic answer. In fact, all the attempts to fix the “separation” were clumsy and hasty reunions, and the memory of them is a heavy stone in the mind and heart of the Orthodox. …

        …This judgment of such a careful and discreet theologian and historian as Professor Karmiris requires serious attention. It is not entirely clear how he understands the “way of economy.” In any case, he did not think that “reunification” can take place without a substantial “agreement,” without addressing controversial issues. Only he believed that these issues, with the good will of both parties, may be resolved. In fact, he invites both Churches to a responsible theological dialogue – based on the Word of God and the ancient Tradition of the Church, and in a spirit of mutual attention and love. One must not expect such a dialogue will be easy and lead to quick resolution of all controversy and doubt. On the contrary, one must anticipate that it will be lengthy and difficult, if it is to be honest and deep. …

        …The main obstacle to ecumenical progress is always just ecumenical impatience, ecumenical hastiness.[And to this we can add the modern phenomenon of an outright tendency to relativism and apostasy] And it always will tend towards the simplification of problems. The history of relations between Orthodoxy and Rome in the past demonstrates the danger of such haste, and its futility. …

        Why even Fr. Alexander Schmemann (of Blessed Memory) foresaw the eventual necessity of the withdrawal of Orthodox representatives from the WCC/ecumenical movement for precisely these types of reasons:

        …и нашел Вашу записку и доклад Ниссотиса. Спасибо. Доклад – ужасающая и двусмысленная галиматья и набор слов, которые можно использовать во все стороны, но с общей тенденцией заменить «правило веры», [17] как основу единства Церкви, какой то сугубо неясной «мартирией» и «диаконией». …

        …Я все больше убежден в том, что из W.C.C. нужно уходить и буду об этом писать. Я считаю, что основным пороком там является отрицание даже возможности ереси, т.е. ошибки в вероучении.

        …В этом современные протестанты отходят от своих учителей Лютера и Кальвина: те хотя бы определенно что то утверждали и что-то отрицали. Для Православия старшно и опасно принятие экуменизма на этой вот почве «взаимного обогащения» и участия в WCC [20] становится вредным с того момента, что разговор о вере подменяется т. наз. «экклезиологией».[21] Для нас православных учение о Церкви зависит, прежде всего, от ученья Церкви и вне последнего немыслимо и невразумительно. …

        …Первым поражением православных было, поэтому, их молчаливое согласие сойти с твердой почвы спора о вере на пески «мартирий» и «диаконий». …

        Искренне преданный Вам
        прот. Александр Шмеман

        537 West 121 St.
        New York 27, N.Y.
        [tel.] Monument 2-3889

        But then again, ecumenism never really is interested in even acknowledging truth, is it?

      • Mr. Stankovitch, I don’t quite get how Florovsky is relevant here. Unfortunately, however, I can’t at the moment seem to resist the urge to put my opinions on the internet. Florovsky, though an undeniably good witness of Orthodoxy in the past century, had a few points on which he was perhaps a bit off. Namely, he was too easy on the heterodox. As is well known, he believed that valid sacraments existed outside the Orthodox Church while acknowledging that he outside the standard teaching of the Church in this. But don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for Florovsky. I think he was well meaning but still wrong or at least naive on this subject.
        My point in my first post was that there are other ways of witnessing the Faith than taking front stage at public events. It seems that many take a rather political approach to spreading the Faith, ie the more people see you on tv or behind the podium, the more people will come to your side. This is not the case. A solid message is necessary, but let’s leave the grandstanding to the protestants. What we need to do is pray for the innocent unborn, cultivate a deep love for fellow man within ourselves and when our leaders merge off of the straight and narrow, hold them accountable. If we can fill ourselves with true brotherly love, then God will bless us and through us bring great multitudes into His Fold.

        • M. Stankovich says

          My point in raising the issue of the “ecumeinism” of Fr. Georges Florovsky was very simple: he managed to take what he termed, “the social problem of the Eastern Orthodox Church” – the Church being the harbinger and repository, the final authority and moral witness to address the social turmoil as the voice of eternal Truth:

          The church is indeed “not of this world,” but it has nevertheless an obvious and important mission “in this world” precisely because it lies “in the evil.” In any case, one cannot avoid at least a diagnosis. It was commonly believed for centuries that the main Christian vocation was precisely an administration of charity and justice. The church was, both in the East and in the West, a supreme teacher of all ethical values. All ethical values of our present civilization can be traced back to Christian sources, and above all back to the gospel of Christ. Again, the church is a society which claims the whole man for God’s service and offers cure and healing to the whole man, and not only to his “soul.” If the church, as an institution, cannot adopt the way of an open social action, Christians cannot dispense with their civic duties for theirs is an enormous contribution to make “in the material sphere,” exactly as Christians.

          Collected Works, Vol. 2, Christianity & Culture “The Social Problem of the Eastern Orthodox Church,” p.142.

          and did so in a forum where he managed to be heard and compromised nothing. For anyone who has read his Collected Works, his Ways of Russian Theology, his writings regarding the Byzantine Fathers and Ascetics and Spiritual Fathers know that Florovsky was uncompromisingly Orthodox. I challenge you to read the writings of Archbishop Averky of Jordanville, the prosecutor of the “heresy of ecumenism” – Averky, of blessed memory, reposed in 1976 and Florovsky in 1979 – and see if he ever mentions or alludes to Fr. Georges. Never once. Florovsky employed the medium that brought the widest attention to the witness. As to whether he would have resigned from the WCC now, pardon me, but who cares?

          Christian, you seem to miss my point that no one listens to the Orthodox. We have no voice of moral authority because we ceded it in our own foolishness. Look at this very thread as proof: several threads ago everyone fell over themselves crying “Axios” to the Ecumenical Patriarch for simply making a pro-life statement. Holy Cow! Now, Mr. Michalopulos predicts doom because a Greek gave an invocation at the MFL rather than the OCA. And finally, what you describe as “grandstanding” and “political,” Fr. Florovsky saw as essential:

          Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Pet. 3:13-15)

          • M. Stankovich says


            I had to work over-night so I was unable to address your comment – “As is well known, he believed that valid sacraments existed outside the Orthodox Church while acknowledging that he outside (sic) the standard teaching of the Church in this. But don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for Florovsky. I think he was well meaning but still wrong or at least naive on this subject.” – I will do so now.

            The only possible explanation for your comment is that you have not read Florovsky’s The Limits of the Church (published in the journal The Church Quarterly Review in 1933, and again in The Ecumenical Review in 1950), or, you simply do not understand what he wrote. To state, “he believed that valid sacraments existed outside the Orthodox Church” is ridiculous! The Limits of the Chuch is a brilliant examination of the dogmatic teachings of the Church – notably St. Cyprian of Carthage – and the history of the actual practice.

            As to Cyprian, he is especially clear:

            At that time St Cyprian of Carthage developed with fearless consistency a doctrine of the complete absence of grace in every sect, precisely as a sect. The whole meaning and the whole logical stress of his reasoning lay in the conviction that the sacraments are established in the Church. That is to say, they are effected and can be effected only in the Church, in communion and in communality. Therefore every violation of communality and unity in itself leads immediately beyond the last barrier into some decisive outside. To St Cyprian every schism was a departure out of the Church, out of that sanctified and holy land where alone there rises the baptismal spring, the waters of salvation, quia una est aqua in ecclesia sancta (Epist. lxxi, 2)… Each of us remembers and knows them, is bound to know them, is bound to remember them. They have not lost their force to this day. The historical influence of Cyprian was continuous and powerful. Strictly speaking, in its theological premises the teaching of St Cyprian has never been disproved.

            Emphasis mine. But, he goes on to say,

            the practical conclusions drawn by Cyprian have not been accepted and supported by the consciousness of the Church… It is sufficient to state that there are occasions when, by her very actions, the Church gives one to understand that the sacraments of sectarians— and even of heretics— are valid, that the sacraments can be celebrated outside the strict canonical limits of the Church. The Church customarily receives adherents from sects— and even from heresies— not by the way of baptism, thereby obviously meaning or supposing that they have already been actually baptized in their sects and heresies. In many cases the Church receives adherents even without chrism, and sometimes also clergy in their existing orders. All the more must this be understood and explained as recognizing the validity or reality of the corresponding rites performed over them outside the Church.

            How could this be possible? Oikonomia (referring to Col. 1:25, Eph. 1:10, and Eph. 3:2, 9), for one” “For economy is pastorship and pastorship is economy. In this is the whole strength and vitality of the economic principle— and also its limitations.” BUT, not every question can be asked and answered in terms of economy; in fact it would seem to raise more! “Can oikonomia create something that did not exist in the first place?” He reports

            To the reasonable question whether it would not be possible by analogy to unite Jews and Moslems to the Church by economy and without baptism Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) replied with complete candor: Ah, but all such neophytes— and even those baptized in the name of Montanus and Priscilla— would not themselves claim to enter the Church without immersion and the utterance of the words, In the name of the Father, etc. Such a claim could only be advanced through a confused understanding of the Church’s grace by those sectarians and schismatics whose baptism, worship and hierarchical system differ little externally from those of the Church. It would be very insulting to them, on their turning to the Church, to have to sit on the same seat with heathens and Jews. For that reason the Church, indulging their weakness, has not performed over them the external act of baptism, but has given them this grace in the second sacrament (Faith and Reason, 1916, 8-9, pp.887-8).

            And thus, Florovsky suggests that, had he been know among the Eastern Fathers, they would have concurred with Augustine:

            The unity of the Church is based on a twofold bond— the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace (cf. Eph. 4.3). In sects and schisms the bond of peace is broken and torn, but the unity of the Spirit in the sacraments is not brought to an end. This is the unique paradox of sectarian existence: the sect remains united with the Church in the grace of the sacraments, and this becomes a condemnation once love and communal mutuality have withered and died… The sacraments of schismatics are valid; that is, they genuinely are sacraments, but they are not efficacious by virtue of schism and division. For in sects and schisms love withers, and without love salvation is impossible. There are two sides to salvation: the objective action of Gods grace, and mans subjective effort or fidelity. The holy and sanctifying Spirit still breathes in the sects, but in the stubbornness and powerlessness of schism healing is not accomplished. It is untrue to say that in schismatic rites nothing is accomplished, for, if they are considered to be only empty acts and words, deprived of grace, by the same token not only are they empty, they are converted into a profanation, a sinister counterfeit. If the rites of schismatics are not sacraments, then they are a blasphemous caricature, and in that case neither economic suppression of facts nor economic glossing over of sin is possible. The sacramental rite cannot be only a rite, empty but innocent. The sacrament is accomplished in reality.

            I would note here that you will find the exact sentiment in St. Symeon the New Theologian, St. Maximos the Confessor, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and recently by Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev). Fr. Florovsky concludes by stating:

            Here are many bonds, still not broken, whereby the schisms are held together in a certain unity with the Church. The whole of our attention and our will must be concentrated and directed towards removing the stubbornness of dissension. We seek not conquest, says St Gregory of Nazianzen, but the return of our brethren, whose separation from us is tearing us apart.

            Referring to Fr. Georges Florovsky as “naive,” Christian, surely will win you some award for naiveté.

        • “I believe that the church in which I was baptized and brought up ‘is’ in very truth ‘the Church’, i.e. ‘the true’ Church and the ‘only’ true Church . . . I am therefore compelled to regard all other Christian churches as deficient, and in many cases can identify these deficiencies accurately enough. Therefore, for me, Christian reunion is simply universal conversion to Orthodoxy. I have no confessional loyalty; my loyalty belongs solely to the ‘Una Sancta’.”

          (From “Confessional Loyalty in the Ecumenical Movement”)

          Fr. Georges Florovsky

  13. Peter Proboscis says

    Mother Teresa: “The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love, and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even his life to love us. So the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love – that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts. By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

      I’m astonished that anyone here would vote thumbs-down on the quotation of Mother Teresa concerning abortion.

      • I am not surprised that Orthodox Christians are more convinced by Orthodox witnesses, by Orthodox voices, by Orthodox monastics, by Orthodox Saints. Because we are not papal Christians: we are Orthodox, and there is quite a difference.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Well, when we have an Orthodox leader speaking with Pres. Obama there condemning abortion as Pope John Paul II did in St. Louis with President Clinton on the dais , maybe it would be easier not to go looking for “Papal voices” whatever that means in this case. When you are right, you are right.

          No, we get a man who appears to be a dottering old man babbling some nonsense about Obama being greater than Alexander or worse, a GOA bishop using Messianic psalms to heap praise on Obama.

          • I am sorry, no. The pope does not speak for me, does not speak for the Orthodox Church, and does not speak for Orthodox Christians. Your attitude is precisely the reason why I have a problem with people forgetting that we have an Orthodox witness and do not need heterodox spokespeople. We have Orthodox Saints and church people, and they are the ones we Orthodox should be quoting.

            Perhaps, if Orthodox voices were even sought out by some “Orthodox” and quoted by the “Orthodox” instead of finding heterodox witnesses, then the Orthodox witness would be perceived by others as unique, sovereign and another point of view to consider. When you undercut yourself by saying “me too” to another religion’s position, people have a habit of not taking you seriously.

            We Orthodox are not ceding our voice to Rome.

            BTW, is Obama listening to the ghosts of Mother Teresa, JPII or even considering the current, more permissive Francis? Last I checked, he gave a speech during the MFL, affirming the “reproductive rights of women.” His healthcare law mandates that the papal church’s medical facilities provide contraception and abortion. So even by your own standard of witness, your antagonist remains unmoved.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Is there anything wrong with what Mother Teresa said? Should she not have said it? Are we bound, IYO, as Orthodox to reject everything and anything said by the heterodox simply because they are heterodox? You know what, there is some heterodoxy in most of us.

              No, they “don’t speak for the Orthodox Church” what an absurd idea. No one says that they do, I certainly didn’t.

              I have no love for the office of the Papacy or for RC theology at all. I also have no love for the position that says that we are the only ones who have any truth. I would not be in the Orthodox Church if that were so. A lot of people I know are the same way. Are we going to go on a witch hunt so that only those who are pure are allowed in the Church.? Won’t have many left and probably none outside of a few monasteries, but then we would stop being Orthodox if we did that.

              My point is that it would good if the we Orthodox spoke from our foundation more often with greater confidence in our authority and with greater consistency. For instance the last round of Patriarchal statements from Constantinople and Russia and the unequivocal statement by the Antiochian Archdiocese of NA on homosexuality and so-called marriage was quite refreshing, especially in light of what the media interprets as Rome’s waffling.

              Take the good that is in Mother Teresa’s statement and top it… “but wait there is more”, here is the rest of the story” approach. That is what the Russian missionaries did in Alaska to great effect.

              Too many of our bishops seemed to be wowed by secular power–that or we come across as sour, small and petty.

              • Stop. There may not be anything wrong with what she said, nor may there have been anything wrong if the Dalai Lama or Jerry Falwell said it. But the fact you insist on having no knowledge of Orthodox saying such things in the fullest and Orthodox interpretation/expression of Truth is where the issue rests.

                What if Arius or Nestorius or Eutyches or Leo the Isaurian or even Joseph Stalin said such things? They may be true, but contextually, such expressions really have no place in Orthodox expressions of a given topic. I think the reason is self evident: these people aren’t voices of Orthodoxy.

                Not voices of Orthodoxy.

                I can in no way endorse a statement or mindset which says the Orthodox Church is deficient in expressing the fullness of Truth. THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH RESIDES IN THE CHURCH AND GUIDES IT IN HIS FULNESS. That is Orthodox dogmatic theology. Your thought is heretical and a flagrant sign as to why indeed the heterodox being quoted by some is an issue.

                You have fundamentally announced to the world why lacking an Orthodox formation and looking for heterodox “truthes” and “sages” is such a danger, for it creates erroneous ideas like your own: the Church is not deficient in Truth, but expresses it in its fullness and HAS SINCE THE DAY OF PENTECOST. And the fact you have a problem with that shouts your disability to appreciate Truth in the Church versus heterodoxy. You have rebutted yourself and shown why such an emphasis on citing the heterodox as your authorities is not Orthodox and leads Orthodox astray.

                This is why people voted thumbs down to a presentation of a heterodox witness on an Orthodox discussion board.

                If you wish to emphasize that you have a heterodox side to yourself, that you have not fully converted to Orthodoxy, that is a matter between you and your Priest, but doubt in the Truth of the Church and its fullness is not a valid expression of Orthodoxy. Find your answers in the Church and in its Saints and persons, for through them the HOLY SPIRIT speaks, and in this we are assured.

                Do appreciate the quote I shared from Fr. Florovsky on the “deficiencies” of the heterodox found here.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  Well, being heterodox is better than not being dox at all! Or is it?

                  Surprised you mention Stalin but not Hitler. Hitler is where these kinds of things usually rapidly go.

                  I think that part of what you may be missing here is that in this continent, the Orthodox aren’t speaking very loudly, if at all, so “expresses Truth in its fullness” could be a subject of some discussion.

                  Do the capital letters have a special significance? And resting hopes in “thumbs up or down” here is to court disappointment and chagrin!

                  • How do you wish to have any type of voice when you cede the one you have to someone else? If you are unserious about Orthodoxy, don’t broadcast it. Definitely don’t accost people who are.

                    Why is it you refuse to simply be comfortable with the fullness of the Truth in Orthodoxy and its voices and persons? Orthodox is enough: that is a simple standard for an Orthodox Christian.

                    What I have said above has already dealt with your concerns I believe. As far as engaging this as an argument, I have no interest. My standard is fidelity to Orthodoxy and a definite rejection of heterodoxy, and heterodox witnesses are not appropriate spokespeople for Orthodoxy. As far as I am concerned, that is a standard of Orthodox fidelity.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Rostislav, God bless you. Your assumptions prevent you from accurately perceiving what I am saying. Those same assumptions make any real dialog impossible.

                  Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, a sinner.

                  • Well, it seems to me to be a very lonely dialogue when you insist on the Orthodox not being able to explain why they don’t need heterodox witnesses and why they should quote Orthodox Christians. Yeah, you can always have such a “dialog” with yourself and you are quite welcome to but that means you really want to only hear yourself in such a “dialog,” doesn’t it?

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Rostislav, you misrepresent what I said, what I believe and what is true are refuse to hear. That is why there is no dialog.

                      Please forgive me for saying it is such a way that you could not hear. God bless you.

                    • GOD forgives. Forgive me, a sinner. Let’s move on.

  14. You fail to note the cost here, where Obamacare (in all its failures) is trillions of dollars, while the GOP plan quite less. How is it that people being dropped from their coverages as opposed to people signing up for their socialist Ponzi scheme still numbers 3 to 1 and you rest your laurels on that failure?! Why is it so many of Obama’s cronies and Congress are so very exempt from this law they are forcing on the rest of us?! Would Bush have gotten such a velvet glove in response to such a failure? Yeah, a similar disaster on his watch, Katrina, wasn’t so magnanimously forgotten. When is the issue of nepotism and graft and corruption in the creation of the Obamacare website going to get addressed?! Why is Sabellius not fired?

    Moreover, there are no more death panels and people aren’t losing their coverage any longer in the GOP plan, nor are they being faced with bankrupting deductibles. You also fail to note the unconstitutional requirements of requiring religious institutions to provide contraceptive and abortion care being scrapped. Not to mention men being required to purchase birth control pills or the public being on the hook for paying for abortions. But, hey, it is the “same thing” now, right?!

    Don’t let stumping for the failure of Obamacare get in the way of obfuscating the topic: GOA/EP budinskis at the MFL. But do keep singing its praises. After all, it has been such a winner for you all in these last few months, hasn’t it.

    No, I believe the issue here is America remembers who was in opposition to this rape of the American middle class and this is an election year, and some on the Left would like to obscure the differences between Obama, his lackeys versus his foes to blur the lines for their vulnerable candidates. I don’t see that happening.

    You all will run on, “You have to pass it to see what’s in it” this year, because America now knows what is in it, and a super majority is incensed with your socialist, OBAMUNIST, schemes. They not only don’t like it, they hate it.

    No, the GOP members who voted for Obamacare will be held to account as well, Opposition to this crushing tax on the American middle class does cross party lines. The final GOP plan will be quite better and won’t require “passing it before you can read it” with underhanded “reconciliation procedures” on Christmas Eve, I am sure.

    • You can be for it all you like, but 68% of the nation is not. We get a say which tells you that an Obamunist Ponzi scheme is something we will not pay for. Sometimes you have to work for what you want and earn it for yourself.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Peter, too bad as the “next” is a healthcare system that does physically what the government schools have done for us cognitively and socially.

  15. Michael Bauman says

    Both Obamacareless and the Republican plan share the same incorrect premises: that the federal government has the authority to enact any legislation regarding health insurance. Even if the Republican plan is passed (a political impossibility and they know it), it will still lead to greater federal government control of our health care and our lives.

    Given the totalitarian mindset the informs both parties these days, that does not bode well for our political and social freedoms.

    What we have politically in this country is a plutocracy governing by demagogic means to obtain, retain and use power for their personal benefit.

    None of those elected to office as “my representatives” represent me in anything, in fact they pretty much go
    against everything I would have them do or are impotent. For instance, the Republican U.S. Rep in whose district I live, wanted to bomb Syria to get rid of Assad because basically, everybody there is a Muslim.

    These people are IGNORANT. Most bills get passed without being read.

    So, I am opting out of any participation in the political system on the terms of the politics as all is corrupt past saving by the hands of men and I have absolutely no control over it.

    • Actually, the GOP plan calls for streamlining and helping the private sector recover its role in providing healthcare that American citizens want. It isn’t the government mandating healthcare as much as it is providing infrastructure to help get private healthcare to people.

      I have no love for the GOP and see it as an effete organism, often offensive in its incompetence. That being said, the Obamunist Left is an outright danger to our way of life.

      You are right to a certain extent: it isn’t the government’s business to manage the American healthcare system. The best thing to be done is get out of the way and help the private sector and employers tend to the needs of the American people, where the uninsured can avail themselves of private alternatives to get preventative and primary care (which would mean using the tax code and grants with specific purposes to allow the private sector to profitably assume these roles).

      You are right again that our representatives in Congress don’t read much and simply vote on party lines, but if we proceed from the point where they have to have the same healthcare as we do, they will be more apt to pay attention and do the right thing for all of us.

    • Not being passed so you “can read it” with a midnight “reconciliation procedure on Christmas Eve” with death panels and abortion care paid for by the tax payers and mandated on religious institutions with no men paying for birth control pills while the American middle class gets stuck with higher deductibles and policy cancellations driving them into bankruptcy. Quite different, revenue neutral, based in the private sector without socialization of the healthcare system and fairer:

      …Coburn-Burr-Hatch retains some popular Obamacare provisions

      CBH would repeal Obamacare, and replace it with a set of more market-oriented reforms. One key point right at the start: the authors “believe our proposal is roughly budget neutral over a decade.” That is to say, for all the reconfiguring it does to the health-care system, it doesn’t substantially reduce the deficit. It may modestly reduce the amount of federal spending and taxation. The Senate trio aims to have their proposal fiscally scored by an outside group of economists, most likely Doug Holtz-Eakin’s Center for Health and Economy.

      While the plan would repeal Obamacare, it would preserve some of the law’s most popular features, such as its ban on lifetime limits on insurer payouts, and its requirement that insurers cover adult children younger than 27. It would replace Obamacare’s premium hike on young people, known as age-based community rating, with a more traditional 5:1 rating band.

      It wouldn’t maintain Obamacare’s individual mandate, nor its requirement that insurers offer coverage to everyone regardless of pre-existing health conditions. Instead, the plan would require insurers to make offers to everyone who has maintained “continuous coverage,” while aiding states in restoring the high-risk pools that served those who insurers won’t otherwise cover. Subsidy-eligible individuals who failed to sign up for a plan would be auto-enrolled in one priced at the same level as the subsidy for which they qualified.

      The proposal would do some things highly popular on the right. It would encourage medical malpractice reform by “adopting or incentivizing states to adopt a range of solutions to tackle the problem of junk lawsuits and defensive medicine.” It would strive to expand price transparency and the supply of physicians.

      Means-tested tax credits for the uninsured, funded by the employer tax exclusion

      Most importantly, the CBH plan would make substantial changes to the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored coverage, in order to fund subsidies for the uninsured. “Our proposal caps the tax exclusion for employee’s health coverage at 65 percent of an average plan’s cost” today, and then grows the cap at the rate of the Consumer Price Index—a common measure of inflation—plus one percent (CPI+1%).

      The revenues gained from this change would then be used to offer tax credits for the uninsured, so long as their incomes were below 300 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Importantly, the subsidies are structured on a sliding scale so that those at 300% FPL get a smaller subsidy than those below 200% FPL. In addition, the subsidies increase as you get older; an individual aged 18-34 would get a subsidy of $1,560, whereas one aged 50-64 would get $3,720: 2.4 times what the young’uns get. The size of the subsidies would grow, again, at CPI+1%. (Obamacare offers subsidies to those below 400% of FPL.)..

  16. Upon his arrival in the district, Gandhi was joined by other agitators, including a young Congress leader, Rajendra Prasad , from Bihar, who would become a loyal supporter of Gandhi and go on to play a prominent role in the Indian independence movement. When Gandhi was ordered to leave by the local British authorities, he refused on moral grounds, setting up his refusal as a form of individual Satyagraha . Soon, under pressure from the Viceroy in Delhi who was anxious to maintain domestic peace during war-time, the provincial government rescinded Gandhi’s expulsion order, and later agreed to an official enquiry into the case. Although, the British planters eventually gave in, they were not won over to the farmers’ cause, and thereby did not produce the optimal outcome of a Satyagraha that Gandhi had hoped for; similarly, the farmers themselves, although pleased at the resolution, responded less than enthusiastically to the concurrent projects of rural empowerment and education that Gandhi had inaugurated in keeping with his ideal of swaraj . The following year Gandhi launched two more Satyagrahas – both in his native Gujarat – one in the rural Kaira district where land-owning farmers were protesting increased land-revenue and the other in the city of Ahmedabad , where workers in an Indian-owned textile mill were distressed about their low wages. The satyagraha in Ahmedabad took the form of Gandhi fasting and supporting the workers in a strike, which eventually led to a settlement. In Kaira, in contrast, although the farmers’ cause received publicity from Gandhi’s presence, the satyagraha itself, which consisted of the farmers’ collective decision to withhold payment, was not immediately successful, as the British authorities refused to back down. The agitation in Kaira gained for Gandhi another lifelong lieutenant in Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel , who had organised the farmers, and who too would go on to play a leadership role in the Indian independence movement.

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  19. This notion that the OCA’s participation in the March for Life can be taken as some sort of recognition of both moral and ecclesiastical authority is unfounded. In the first place, where is the evidence of this “long-standing tradition” and “custom” for the OCA’s primate (or even an OCA cleric) to give the invocation? Here is a breakdown of clergy who gave the invocation since 1993. (Any lacunae are simply because I could not locate information about who gave the invocation that year.) Readers are welcome to fill in the blanks.