An Interesting Communique From the Holy Synod

The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America released a communique which touched on many different subjects.

As you can read for yourself, it strongly reiterates the OCA’s commitment to Orthodox unity in North America. In so doing, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon will concelebrate with all American Orthodox primates this Sunday at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St Sophia in Washington, DC.

The Holy Synod also reiterated its commitment to its autocephaly with these words: “in fulfillment of the charge given to the [OCA] in the Tomos of Autocephaly, the witness of canonical tradition, and the command of the Lord Himself, who wills that His followers be united together in a bond of love as He and His Heavenly Father are.”

In addition, the Holy Synod announced that Metropolitan Tikhon has accepted the invitation of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, to travel to Moscow in November. His Beatitude will travel with a delegation from the OCA in order to celebrate Patriarch Kirill’s seventy-fifth birthday. “In doing so, the Holy Synod reaffirms the fundamental relationship between the [OCA] and the warm ties that these two Churches share.”

Curiously, no mention is made of the upcoming visit of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew to the United States. Nor the fact that his actions in Ukraine have brought the Orthodox Churches closer to schism. Is it possible that by ignoring this supposedly momentous occasion the OCA is throwing out a life-preserver to the GOA?

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  1. Sorry if this is too naive/basic/uninformed – but the communique addresses the trip in November to Russia to meet with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and the ROC. The communique makes no mention of ROCOR and ROCOR is not participating in the Assembly meeting this weekend. Is that because ROCOR is considered to be part of the ROC or is it because of still rocky relations between ROCOR and OCA?

    • ROCOR, following the MP edict, is prohibited from participating in any Assembly of Orthodox Bishops or local/area clergy council forums since 2018.

  2. There’s no reason to drag ROCOR into it. The MP and ROCOR have already severed communion with the Phanar so there will be no ROCOR presence at Assembly meetings (which a chaired by the representative of the Phanar) for the foreseeable future. That has nothing to do with the OCA. The OCA seems to simply want to continue forward as if nothing has happened in Ukraine, having its cake and eating it too. That seems to be the attitude of Antioch as well.

    It’s not surprising but it’s not particularly significant. The MP is getting lots of requests from clergy under Alexandria to be received into the ROC due to the situation with Alexandria recognizing the Ukrainian schismatics. You’ll notice that in the pravmir link in Anne’s comment above, Pat. Kirill hopes that the schism will be resolved and that all the heads of the local churches may share the chalice in his cathedral in Moscow:

    “I hope that His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, His Eminence Leonid, Father Nikolay, Father Philaret and the whole team of the Department for External Church Relations will do everything that is possible to overcome the schism in the Orthodox Church and some day to bring us together with heads of Local Orthodox Churches in this cathedral to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and take communion from one cup.”

    Interesting choice of venue.

    This is a very subtle “Third Rome” type offhand remark, the assumption being that Christ the Savior Cathedral is now the center of Orthodoxy and that acknowledgement of that is what is necessary to heal the schism.

    Consider the two possibilities: 1) the Phanar persists in its folly and drags the Church of Greece, Cyprus, Alexandria, et al. down with it, possibly to Uniatism. In that case, Moscow is the de facto center of Orthodoxy, though Antioch and Jerusalem are still higher on the diptychs. 2) the Phanar caves and repents, in which case the MP is perceived to have won and thus is the center of Orthodoxy, diptychs notwithstanding.

    Either way . . .

    • The OCA seems to simply want to continue forward as if nothing has happened in Ukraine, having its cake and eating it too. That seems to be the attitude of Antioch as well.

      Trying to everything to everyone means you end up being nothing to anyone.

      I understand the approach the OCA is trying to take, but, I personally don’t think it’s the right one. Burying your head in the sand and pretending there is not problems, and these are serious ones that should be addressed, means their decline will continue, I can almost guarantee that. Their parishes will keep getting tired of it.

      ROCOR I’m sure will be the real winner in this.

    • In my view, Moscow has nothing to gain putting out ambitions in being a “third Rome”: can you just imagine the political repercussions and having to constantly deal with accusations of ‘meddling’ on the one side, and then dealing with the inner politics of such a situation where one church is upset at Moscow for favoring the other.

      There is just potentially one practical advantage of such an arrangement: Russia (at least in its current political configuration) is not politically linked to the globalist west. That makes it almost impossible to pressure the Russian Church on various leftist/secularist social issues. That is unlike the churches in Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, and potential EU candidate countries like Serbia and Georgia who need to constantly deal with heavy handed EU based political pressure to “modernize” their faith.

      Personally, I would prefer to see the Jerusalem Patriarchate take leadership from the Phanar because from a legitimacy standpoint it’s the best. Unfortunately, Israel is one fine political mess as well, but there is enough push and pull from multiple sides there where it’s possible to find some middle ground as opposed to in the EU and in Turkey. Patriarch Theophilos has wisely taken a neutral stance in the Ecumenical Patriarchate/Moscow Patriarchate dispute, and perhaps that may not be accidental. Jerusalem has the unique ability to rally the Greek population behind it, that’s not something Moscow can do as easily because some Greeks will feel potentially at threat in any situation where there is a pan-slavic element (personally I don’t see panslavism as a bad thing for Greeks, despite the fact that it played out badly with Bulgaria in just one instance).

      I guess we’ll see how things play out.

    • The “center” of Orthodoxy resides only within the local bishop. Any hierarch or church claiming to be the “center ” of Orthodoxy is misleading the laity. So, worrying about secular globalism is not enough, now we need to worry which local Orthodox church. whichever it might be, claims to be the “center” of Orthodoxy. Second Rome, Third Rome, etc., etc., etc.
      PS, if bishop A is not in communion with bishop B, but bishop C is in communion with both bishop A and bishop B, then bishop A is in communion with bishop B. Orthodox ecclesiology 101.

      • Yannaro,

        “Center” was probably a poor choice of words. “Preeminent church” might be a more accurate phrase. The Russians have never made any formal claim regarding “Third Rome”. It is rather a recognition of reality. Moscow is the capital of Russia whose first hierarch is the highest in the diptychs to sit in a sovereign Orthodox state and not enslaved to Muslims or subordinate to Jews. When you consider its population, its size (1.8 times that of the US) and the fact that it is the sole Orthodox nuclear power, “Third Rome” seems rather appropriate.

        As to your point about communion, it depends on the sense in which you are discussing it. The severance of communion between the ROC and Phanar is on the order of a warning shot across the bow rather than expulsion from the Church. So, no, the ROC and the Phanar are not in communion. However, since Constantinople has not been found by a council to be in heresy, that break in communion is only direct, not indirect. That is also the case between Antioch and Jerusalem.

        But I will admit that severances of communion over uncanonical actions and schismatic stances are sloppy and confusing.

  3. Gail Sheppard says

    Yes, as we discussed there is someone who is using the identities of other bloggers. You’re one of those people. I only discovered it because whoever this person is, did not sound like you. S/he even your correct email address which we don’t store or use so they didn’t get it from our site.

    George and I are working on a solution.

    • It was probably me, Gail. I sometimes use a VPN (two different VPN’s actually – one on my home computer and one mobile that I use while working on the road), so it may appear to be someone else (as in a different IP address), but it’s me if it has my usual email. For example, I made a comment that wasn’t posted thanking Fr. Alexander for sharing his exemption letter template and, I believe, one other comment that also wasn’t posted. That was me.

      But thanks for being diligent.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Is this the comment you’re talking about?
        Thank you. Is this the comment you were referring to?

        Fr. Alexander,
        I want to thank you sincerely for the template you provided. I will be using excerpts from it, along with other documentation obtained on my own, for my own request for religious exemption.
        Since I work (indirectly) in healthcare, it remains to be seen whether I will be allowed to continue employment in my current position or not. It will, in my opinion, come down to whether the company for which I work is serious in their blatant lie of a public stance that these vaccines help to stop the spread of the disease (which, of course, the “science” everyone tells us to believe in has proven false) or whether they are simply “checking a legal box” to comply with government mandates.
        Either way, God will provide.
        The silence over this issue of government mandates is disconcerting, to say the least. Even our hierarchs, many of whom have direct experience with with the course evil takes politically, seem blind to the dangerous precedent this sets and where anyone with half a brain can see this will ultimately lead.
        O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance!

        • Yes, Gail, that’s me. Thank you for finding and posting it.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Did you also write these, also? If so, I will pull them out of the trash where our system is sending these things for whatever reason.

            1. In reply to Brendan.
            The fat lady can’t sing. She’s been gagged.

            2. In reply to Katherine.
            Let us hope not, Katherine; but it is astounding to me what some people will do to keep their job. It wouldn’t be the first time soldiers fired on civilians of their own country, It has happened before – even here.

            3. In reply to Gail Sheppard.
            Hmmm… I’m not so sure Gail. And I can’t say there is a “right” (as opposed to “wrong”) path for the OCA to follow on this. They (rightly, IMHO) want to maintain Orthodox unity in North America and (again rightly, IMHO) have no desire whatsoever to cut themselves off from the Greek brethren they know and love.
            However, they surely must also be aware that they will will never share autocephaly (to which they claim to be committed) with their Greek brethren as long as there is a GOA subject to the EP… unless, of course, they are willing to surrender to the EP. And I can’t see that happening. without exacerbating/creating divisions of other kinds. Thus, concelebration with Elpidophoros, et al does nothing really except legitimize the EP’s ongoing nonsense.
            In short -as is almost always the case – it is the EP and his cronies that stand in the way of every good aspiration of faithful Orthodox Christians, as well as the unity of the Church catholic. I am not opposed to treading cautiously (Heck, even Moscow is treading cautiously.), but all the pretending and equivocation only delays the inevitable.

            4. In reply to Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster.
            Fr. Alexander,
            Is your template available somehow to those of us here? I would very much appreciate access to it. If you prefer not to publish it, I certainly understand your reasoning.
            George has my personal email and my expressed permission to share it with you.

            5. In reply to Brendan.
            An additional note…
            Unlike those physicians who either do not know or choose not to know, those whom “the Holy Eparchial Synod” of the GOA (as well as other jurisdictions) tell us to trust as “competent medical authorities” are all – every one of them without exception – fully aware of and deeply involved in this evil (to say nothing of illegal) moral depravity (see Brendon’s comment above).
            Blind guides! Do you not hear our Lord?
            “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.”
            Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

            6. In reply to John Anon.
            “The Holy Eparchial Synod urges the faithful to pay heed to competent medical authorities”
            If only the Holy Eparchial Synod could name one- just one – “medical authority” who hasn’t been a pretender to competence on this subject.
            As the Byztex article so aptly points out…
            “To read this you’d think the professionals have been an unwavering source of dependable information. It’s as if the medical authorities haven’t been rowing the boat in different direction every other week. Masks aren’t needed. Masks are essential. Maybe two masks are needed. The vaccinated don’t need masks. Masks protect everyone. The vaccine works. The vaccine works for a little while. The vaccine works only against some strains. The vaccine needs boosters. Natural immunity is strong. Natural immunity is not enough. The virus spreads on all surfaces. The virus spreads on some surfaces. The virus doesn’t really get spread over surfaces. And so much more. What will the “competent medical authorities” say in a month? Which “false narratives” of today will be truths in October?”
            It comes as no surprise that “the Holy Eparchial Synod” of the GOA has joined the ranks of ‘great men’ like Pope Francis in ensuring that people of conscience are provided with no means of escape. Thanks guys. At least we now know beyond any doubt where we stand with you.

            7. In reply to Martin.
            I know, Martin. And that other meaning of the word cult actually best describes the crazed “everyone must be forced to be vaccinated now” crowd.

            8. In reply to Martin.
            “Now with COVID it is debatable, but seeing one side as evil is more like a cult.”
            People are being denied their livelihoods over a ‘vaccine’ that may provide partial protection and is known with certainty to lack the ability to inhibit the spread of the disease.
            If you are in favor of being vaccinated and your conscience allows it, may God bless you. Yet you and most of the Church sit silent while your brethren are persecuted over something that is “debatable” (a matter of conscience before God).
            If you cannot see that this is no longer a question of ‘science,’ that it is no longer merely a question of whether the vaccine is “safe” in the long term (and it is increasingly evident even to the vaxers that it is not even “effective” against the spread of this disease), if you cannot see that the entire world has been taken captive by a certain madness of irrational fear over a disease from which only a tiny fraction fail to recover and the resultant inhumanity towards those of tender conscience…well…then you cannot see. But it is only a matter of time before you do.
            Cult n:
            a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.
            a person or thing that is popular or fashionable

            • Gail,

              All those are mine, but only 1, 2, and 3 were not posted. The others were posted some time ago

              • Gail Sheppard says

                That’s a shame because I ran one of these past the real “Brian” and he said they were not his.

  4. It’s hard for me to take anything they say seriously after how they handled COVID. Other people may get over it but to me it was the defining point of my relationship with the OCA. Like with my grandparents when I’ve tried to reason with them not to vote Democrat and they say “Well I voted for Nixon and I’ll NEVER vote republican again!”

    • Bryan G,
      I hear ya. That’s really how I feel about most of our clergy in general. There is no single jurisdiction that has my complex trust. All of them closed/restricted services to one degree or another, especially early on during the coof thing. When we needed our churches the most, the doors were closed to us. This thing revealed the lack of belief that many of us have.

      There are a handful of priests and maybe a couple bishops that I trust right now. But as far as fellowship, I mostly look here, to you guys, and the Orthosphere.

  5. If I were the OCA, I wouldn’t want to throw a life-preserver to the GOA. That ship is going down…mighty fast, too. It’s only a matter of time before all of those financial irregularities get thoroughly investigated. **And, on a side note; I find it rather intriguing how my parish has suddenly gotten an influx of Greeks seeking asylum from the GOA. They must know that the boom is about to fall.**

    • Gail Sheppard says

      They wouldn’t be throwing a lifesaver to the GOA. They’d be throwing a lifesaver to the people in the GOA that want to bail.

      • And, perhaps the clergy of the GOA as well, Gail?!

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I can’t see why not. If we have Greek people to integrate, it would be a lot easier for everyone involved to have Greek priests. I know ROCOR has Greek (speaking) priests. – If the GOA breaks off from the Phanar, Greek priests would not need a release from the GOA.

      • George Michalopulos says

        That’s a more accurate assessment.

        What I should have said is “throw a canonical life-preserver to the GOA”. In other words, what the Serbians did for ROCOR all those years in which they were in the wilderness.

        • Perhaps it’s more that the OCA is currently functioning as a life-preserver for the Russian Church’s need for Orthodox conciliarity. I realize that sounds ridiculous, but right now the OCA is Russia’s only link to communion with Constantinople, autocephaly aside. That’s certainly how the Phanar sees it (along with all the other Local Churches who don’t recognize the OCA’s autocephaly), and I would imagine that Patriarch Kirill, on some level, sees it that way also.

          Is anyone surprised that Patriarch Kirill doesn’t reproach the OCA when it participates in the Assembly of Bishops, concelebrates with the Greek Archdiocese, and even with (oh my goodness) Patriarch Bartholomew? Yes, the Russian Church is still happy to invite an OCA delegation to Moscow. That’s because Patriarch Kirill is solely the biggest supporter of the OCA’s autocephaly, but at the end of the day, that really means it’s just whatever he wants it to be.

      • Hmmm… I’m not so sure Gail. And I can’t say there is a “right” (as opposed to “wrong”) path for the OCA to follow on this. They (rightly, IMHO) want to maintain Orthodox unity in North America and (again rightly, IMHO) have no desire whatsoever to cut themselves off from the Greek brethren they know and love.

        However, they surely must also be aware that they will will never share autocephaly (to which they claim to be committed) with their Greek brethren as long as there is a GOA subject to the EP… unless, of course, they are willing to surrender to the EP. And I can’t see that happening. without exacerbating/creating divisions of other kinds. Thus, concelebration with Elpidophoros, et al does nothing really except legitimize the EP’s ongoing nonsense.

        In short -as is almost always the case – it is the EP and his cronies that stand in the way of every good aspiration of faithful Orthodox Christians, as well as the unity of the Church catholic. I am not opposed to treading cautiously (Heck, even Moscow is treading cautiously.), but all the pretending and equivocation only delays the inevitable.

      • I’d love to think that’s the case Gail, but, my money is that it’s just the play nice and get along without rocking the boat. There’s no outward reason to think it’s a life preserver for GOA faithful (however many actually remain).

        The 10th anniversary bishops council is meeting this week, they celebrated the Divine Liturgy together in St. Sophia’s Cathedral with Abp. Elpidohphoros leading. This doesn’t strike me as hierarchs who are willing to chasten their fellow wayward brother, but rather just play nice and not make anyone feel uncomfortable.

        I do agree, however, that we may hear more of this come next month when the OCA meets in Moscow, and the ROC formally address the Bartholomew problem.

    • Which jurisdiction do you belong to? I’ve noticed the same thing in an Antiochian and ROCOR parish.

      I really hope one of the jurisdictions starts a Greek Vicariate.

      I’m guessing (hoping) that if the monks at the Ephraim monasteries see the writing on the wall that people are leaving GOARCH, they will leave too.

  6. While no mention is made in the communique released by the OCA regarding the upcoming visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to America, the GOA, through its ORTHODOX OBSERVER, gushes over the itinerary of the patriarchal visit and the accompanying entourage of twelve free-loading sycophants, all of whom will be traveling and hosted in sumptuous style at the expense of a beleaguered Faithful. Wake up, GOA!!! If this isn’t a call for action, I don’t know what is.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Gush they will. That’s what sycophants do. What’s striking to me is that there was no mention of Bartholomew at all from the OCA –or any other jurisdiction that I know of. (Please let me know if otherwise.) It’s almost a non-event.

      Is it because the late Fr Leonid Kishkobsky has reposed? He had a stranglehold on Syosset that was Karloutsos-like in its intensity. His adulation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate knew no bounds. I’m just speculating.

      Or is it because Bartholomew’s trip to Ukraine proved to be a bust? Perhaps a little of both?

      • I wouldn’t expect to hear anything until after the OCA’s Moscow visit. It would be very surprising if there wasn’t at least one OCA hierarch to meet with Patriarch Bartholomew though. I say this primarily because of the OCA’s current involvement in the Assembly of Bishops.

  7. One simple question where is the money coming from to support this madness. Also how can the reconcile the fact that Biden and pelosi etal support any and all abortions. It appears that the pharasees are alive and well

  8. The re-alignment of world Orthodoxy seems to be moving forward. Since Bartholomew & Theodoros have neglected to recant their position on Ukraine, and have since concelebrated with schismatics, it seems the Church of Russia is moving forward with accepting the African clergy from the Patriarchate of Alexandria that petitioned to join the Moscow Patriarchate. I’m guessing that number of 100 had now risen:

    I am really curious what the MP will do with clergy in the Greek & Cypriot Churches who wish to remain in communion with them. If they wanted to do a real power move they would work to regularize the Greek Old Calendarists and bring them back into the canonical Church.

    Given the political clout that Russia has over Turkey, and the fact that the number of Russian Orthodox laypeople residing in Turkey is ~100,000, plus the millions of Russians who vacation in Turkey each year, I would be willing to bet that the MP will be setting up it’s own parallel Church in Turkey on a larger scale than it already has.

    I guess we will find out when the Russian bishops meet next month. On a domestic level, I suppose we will find out how things play out here in the U.S with the OCA. If Russia formally anathematizes Bartholomew, will the OCA be able to pretend like nothing has happened?

    • Antiochene Son says

      I think this is a terrible idea. Bartholomew may have created an mitigated administrative mess, but the EP nevertheless has grace until he is anathematized. And until that happens, Moscow should not be meddling in other local churches’ internal affairs either.

      If Alexandria has clergy that are unhappy, they should appeal to their own hierarchy, and if they will not hear them, appeal to a neighboring Church for asylum—Jerusalem or Antioch. Moscow, IMO, has no right to be doing this. It only escalates the situation and will entrench the schism further.

      Anathematize Bartholomew if you want to do this, but if Moscow can’t muster to do that, then they need to just carry on like Antioch has with Jerusalem Re: Qatar.

      • Antiochene Son “EP nevertheless has grace until he is anathematized”

        Not really. God grace is withdrawn when a person turns away from Him. Anathema is an official recognition of this fact, not a cause.
        Same is with canonization of a saint, it does not make a person saint.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I would say he has the respect of his office and is barely hanging onto that.

        • Antiochene Son says

          He may lose his grace with God, but his sacraments do not until that is recognized by the Church. To say otherwise would be Donatism I think.

          • Antiochene Son “He may lose his grace with God, but his sacraments do not until that is recognized by the Church.”

            I am not sure about that, but I would not receive sacraments from someone who openly preaches heresy.

            • I have already stopped going to GOARCH parishes, and probably won’t be going back to any of the Elder Ephraim monasteries because of this. As much as I seriously hate it, there’s just no way to justify going to a GOA parish under their current leadership/Patriarch if there’s other viable options.

              When and if the problem is rectified then I’ll go back, but, given the recent bishops assembly in America I highly doubt it will get fixed

            • Antiochene Son says

              You don’t have to, but many of the ignorant do, as well as those who have no other viable option. I would tread lightly about whether EP/GOA sacraments are valid, because that is playing with the fire of blasphemy against the Body and Blood of Christ, as well as scandalizing weaker brethren.

              I will assume their sacraments are valid until the Holy Spirit sees fit to raise up a credible synod that says otherwise. It is for Him to reveal, not for us to speculate.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Fortunately, the Sacraments are not tarnished.

                My concern is that people who go hither and yond to find the “right” jurisdiction or the “right” parish will be setting themselves up for failure. You should be able to stand in the middle of the abyss and still smile because God is there.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Petros, both AS and Gail are correct. As much as the EP/GOA disappoints many of us (myself included), I cannot and will not say that their sacraments are invalid.

                  For many of us that’s not an issue as there are parishes or other jurisdictions not all that far (or monasteries). However, my advice to those who have no choice but a GOA parish (and by “no choice” I mean a parish over two hours away), then by all means go the the GOA parish.

                  Unless (and hopefully not until) the local GOA bishop preaches heresy bareheaded and from the ambo, the sacraments are valid.

                  Caveat: I don’t know what the situation would be if the other local Churches declare the EP to be in schism or worse, anathema. However, since Bartholomew went to the Ukraine and was unable to pull the trigger there, I don’t think that Moscow will pull the trigger either.

                  • What do you mean about Bartholomew being unable to “pull the trigger” on his trip to Ukraine? Do you mean excommunicate the MP?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      By that I meant excommunicate Metropolitan Onuphriy.and forcibly reassign all the other canonical bishops to dioceses under Epiphony.

                  • I never said their sacraments are invalid, that was Martin I believe. I believe their sacraments are valid, obviously, I’m just choosing to go to a ROCOR parish rather than a GOA parish. For many reasons.

                    For one: My ROCOR parish here never closed down and has baptized 20 catechumens this year

                    Two: The GOA Metropolis I’m in STILL requires masks, at least from what I’ve been told, I haven’t bothered going to see myself.

                    But, please don’t think I believe their sacraments are invalid, I never said that…just choosing to join a parish where I know they have weather the storm, and will weather the storm better, for my spiritual sake

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Forgive me Petro, I was speaking generally. Or so I thought.

                    • Petros says “I never said their sacraments are invalid, that was Martin I believe”

                      I did not say that their sacraments are “invalid”, I said that I would not receive sacraments from them.

                    • I’ve wanted to go to ROCOR, there’s one a bit of a distance from me, whereas others are closer. But sadly the ROCOR parish is still closed to all visitors, limiting numbers and requiring masks, months after all other churches of all kinds in my area have reopened and no longer require masks. It’s really, really weird and exclusionary, a turnoff, actually. Do they only care about their own salvation? Are the rest of us not good enough for them? Because that’s how it comes across.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Theo, have you tried contacting that particular ROCOR parish’s bishop?

                    • Theo,

                      That sounds unlikely. Which parish?

                    • George Michalopulos says
                      October 11, 2021 at 12:05 pm
                      Theo, have you tried contacting that particular ROCOR parish’s bishop?

                      No, but it’s a thought. I’ve never actually written a bishop before, though. Any pointers?

                      Misha says
                      October 11, 2021 at 1:29 pm

                      That sounds unlikely. Which parish?

                      I’m unwilling to say in a public forum. But it is in the western American diocese and it is actually happening. I’ve emailed the pastor, who is generally unresponsive, although he did respond once to say it will be a “long time.” I’ve also met an inquirer who started there, but has had to move to a different parish since covid to continue his inquiry.

                    • Theo,

                      There’s no reason not to say unless it’s not true.

                    • Theo’s correct. It only took me all of ten minutes to find the parish in question. Other parishes in the diocese are wide open, so this stuff seems to be on a priest-by-priest basis.

                  • George,

                    I’m not willing to say that their mysteries lack grace but I don’t think it has anything whatsoever to do with Donatism. Donatism was about the effects of apostasy and readmission and did not involve doctrinal deviation.

                    A local council of the Church (the ROC) has found the OCU and all those who intercommune/recognize it to be schismatics. Though the MP has stated that the Phanar is operating “outside the canonical space”, there does not seem to have been any anathema of heretics or even explicit doctrinal disagreement per se other than the violation of intercommunion with condemned schismatics. As such, apparently, this does not speak to the grace of the Phanar’s mysteries inasmuch as it does not excommunicate third parties in communion with them.

                    However, everyone who correctly understands the Orthodox faith in detail knows that sine paribus, the doctrine that has animated this intercommunion with schismatics, is heresy, specifically, papism. It is the ascription to the see of Constantinople of a special charism above and beyond prerogatives afforded by councils.

                    I must say I’m an agnostic on this subject. Most likely, God is not a legalist tying Himself up in the categories we create to make our ecclesiastical world intelligible. He has said that what the bishops loose and bind is loosed and bound in Heaven, but I just don’t see Him being so dependent on our ruminations to let it affect the expanse of His grace. So I cannot say when He withdraws from an errant local church.

                    He is merciful and yet He is above all holy.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Agreed. Sine paribus is the reductio ad absurdum of Phanariote papalism. Or at least a giant step from what obtained pre-Metaxakis and the patriarcha universalis delusions of the Phanariotes.

                    • The situation has been mismanaged. “Mistakes were made.”

                      Constantinople, all things being equal, is entitled to a certain dignity by virtue of its place in the diptychs and allocations in canon law. Its Patriarch is a sort of “chairman of the board” type figure rather than an Eastern pope. What Met. Elpidophoros asserted, and what the Phanar apparently insists upon, is that the Archbishop of Constantinople has a unique charism of primacy inherent in his person by virtue of the fact that he is Archbishop of Constantinople. This is the idea that his synod, perhaps the whole episcopacy, emanates from this peculiar charism.

                      The Antiochians saw a watered down and cloudier version of this in the late Met. Philip’s insistence that having diocesan bishops married to their sees was polygamy since he was the proper groom. Thus he reduced all their bishops to assistant bishops, or some such concoction.

                      This is dangerous stuff, interfering with the divine order of the Church. The Church only finds its proper voice in conciliarity as organized by the Fathers.

                    • …and Christ is the groom.

                    • Misha says
                      October 13, 2021 at 2:08 pm

                      There’s no reason not to say unless it’s not true.

                      There’s no reason to accuse me of falsehood, Misha. Why would I make something like that up? I’m simply trying to protect my own identity. What I say is true, still true, I just checked their website again and they are still closed to visitors.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Probably should check it out, regardless of how unlikely you think something is.

                    • Theo,

                      I think there is a misunderstanding here. Misha is NOT saying it’s not true. Rather, he is saying that there is no reason for you to refrain from saying it as long as it is true. I believe he was referencing your having written…

                      “I’m unwilling to say in a public forum…”

                    • All,

                      I’d simply like to see for myself. From what I have experienced and heard, whatever ripples we had in the ROCOR dissipated quickly. There’s no reason not to link the site. One’s identity cannot be identified from the site.

                    • Misha, since you asked:


                      All on the front page.

                    • It seems that Denver churches were totally shut down for awhile and so the church authorities are aping the CDC guidelines for reopening out of fear of further restrictions.

                      This is no excuse and it remains shameful that a temple of the Living God is closed to inquirers due to the flu. Christians don’t fear the sting of death, especially when its risk is profoundly remote. I’m sure the holy martyrs are whirling in their graves.

                    • PS:

                      In contrast, ROCOR just opened a mission parish in a town close to mine. Otherwise, the nearest parish is about two hours away. I sent an email to the visiting priest in charge of the mission inquiring about times. He was happy to hear from me and very welcoming.

                      The line between good and evil runs through the heart of the believer.

                  • All good George. Just didn’t want y’all to think I was saying that, as that’s only something the Church as a whole can say ??

          • Antiochene Son “To say otherwise would be Donatism I think.”

            Donatism is something else. It would be to reject Patriarch of Constantinople and his nationalist friends on the Ukraine, after they repented.

            EP after returning from apostasy in XV century, was accepted back. So were the members of the so called Living Church supported by the Bolsheviks (and by EP)

            • Martin: “Donatism is something else.
              It would be to reject Patriarch of Constantinople and his
              nationalist friends on the Ukraine, after they repented.”

              Just so.

            • God loves us so much that He will go to great lengths to try to get back His lost sheep.

              I do believe that He often asks the faithful to suffer for a time if that helps to get back His lost sheep. Not unlike what the faithful in the West are going through now as we suffer the ramifications of this impending schism between Russian Orthodoxy and the westernized/more modernist Orthodox who are in communion with the Patr of C’ple. If our suffering serves as a witness to some of them and they return from the current errors of the Constantinopolitan church, then so be it.

              Many of the Eastern European hierarchs, clergy, and faithful during Soviet times saw their longsuffering role just as such — if their suffering was a means through which some of the wayward Orthodox Christians who left God to become Bolsheviks/communists could grow to see and to love God again, then so be it.

              I think this is part of what it means to “learn how to suffer.” No other Christian group teaches this – we Orthodox are alone in teaching and understanding the value of suffering, which every man on earth faces in some form. Unlike what one might hear on CNN, it’s obvious that Christ and His Church are vital and without a doubt relevant to life in this world.

        • Keep in mind that the Patriarch of Constantinople to whom Saint Theodore appeared when warning the people about the defiled food (as remembered on Saint Theodore Saturday) was a heretic. The office itself, I guess, has a kind of grace on its own.

          • Well I’d say since Greek-speaking Orthodoxy is fast heading towards a Ferrara-Florence: Part 2, his current predecessor is just as bad.

            Archbishop Elpidohphoros is already rubbing elbows with the Eastern Catholics here in America and working “closer” with them.

      • AS,

        I would agree with you if I did not think that the schism was permanent. However, the writing is on the wall regarding Constantinople and all those who follow the Phanar including Alexandria. They have set sail for Rome already, sine paribus is clearly heretical, etc.

        One could in the alternative argue, as you do, that the disaffected Alexandrians should appeal to Antioch or Jerusalem. However, each of these local churches are quite small and a large influx of Alexandrians would have a political effect. Moreover, though Jerusalem hosted the Amman conference, Antioch does not seem to formally have taken sides in the break. Antioch and Damascus are under Muslim rule; Jerusalem is under Jewish rule. This also limits their actions.

        Moscow is the logical place to go. Were a reassessment made today on the basis of the criteria used to establish the order of the diptychs, Moscow would be declared first among equals as the only Orthodox Church that is the seat of a living empire run by the Orthodox ourselves. It can afford to take on such challenges.

        • As much as the anti-Russian crowd in the Church doesn’t want to admit it, the Moscow Patriarchate is really the only Church that is capable financially/logistically able to carry out the wide-scale mission work in the Church. Just look at their mission efforts in SE Asia and India.

          Alexandria is doing this as well but through the help of Greek money (I think). And most of their bishops are Greek as well, so who knows how long that will last.

          The reason Antioch hasn’t caved to Constantinople is because the patriarch and the entirety of his flock are not ethnic Greeks so CP can’t appeal to “Muh Hellenism.” It’s no coincidence that as of right now only Greek-speaking Churches have accepted the OCU schismatics. The exception being Alexandria where 95% of their flock is black African.

          Archbishop Anastasios of Albania is an ethnic Greek but presided over a flock that is majority Albania…him accepting the schismatics would not go well. Same with Jerusalem, ethnic Greek with a Arab majority flock.

      • Slick Willie says

        The Patriarch of Alexandria didn’t claim jurisdiction over all of Africa until the time of Meletios II (Metaxakis) from 1926 to 1935. Is there a pattern here?

        • I think that was simply because of the growing size of the Alexandrian jurisdiction. Greeks were turning up in random parts of sub-Saharan Africa as merchants and building churches. Some Africans were expressing interest in Orthodoxy and eventually converted, too, leading to the current Orthodox population in places like Kenya and Uganda. As much as I dislikeMeletios Metaxakis, I don’t think there was anything nefarious here.

  9. Petros, this will be a pivotal time for the OCA, AOCA and others right here in the Americas. No more wishy washy burying their head in the sand.

    It’s almost been like a bride picking out her wedding dress…I think that I want this one. No, no…how about this one? Or maybe back to this one again? Seriously. Where is the leadership?

    • “Where is the leadership?”

      Perhaps they keep their eyes open, their mouths closed
      and their powder dry – until…???

    • I’m not holding out much hope given the current state of the episcopate. I have since left and gone to ROCOR. Do they have their problems, sure, but, I know they’ll defend the Faith a lot better than the main Jurisdictions.

      On a more curious note, the Council of Bishops has formed a “task force” to look into the reception of converts into Orthodoxy that I’m guessing will be the standard across jurisdictions.

  10. George Michalopulos says

    I must say, that this is one of the best sermons I’ve every heard. When I found out later that it was Metropolitan Tikhon of the OCA who gave it (in a GOA cathedral no less!), I was heartened.

    Does anybody have any thoughts as to what this portends? I’m presently trying to sift through my own.

  11. Antiochene Son says

    He is clearly talking about the life in Christ and theosis that continues for eternity. I am not sure why you are disgusted by his words?

    Your avatar is set by the email address you use when you post, and can be changed at

    • Gail Sheppard says

      If it was 10 years ago and you heard it directly from Metropolitan Joseph then it was probably coming from Metropolitan Philip. Frankly, I can’t imagine either of them saying that. They were close to the Maronite Catholic Church, though. Maybe that’s what you heard.

      • “Why does the OCA have a picture of Metropolitan Nikodim on their main picture on YouTube?”

        I guess Met. Nikodim might have been involved in granting the OCA its Tomos.

        Considering how soon the Pope died after Met. Nikodim (eternal memory), and Nikodim being 48 at the time of his death, I guess that there could have been some Borgias-style hidden hand work going on with their deaths. I recall a hypothesis that Met. Nikodim consumed poison intended for the Pope. The world is an odd and troubling place like that at times.

  12. Curiously, no mention is made of the upcoming visit of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew to the United States. Nor the fact that his actions in Ukraine have brought the Orthodox Churches closer to schism. Is it possible that by ignoring this supposedly momentous occasion the OCA is throwing out a life-preserver to the GOA?

    Failing to mention P. Bartholomew’s visit to the US isn’t a life-preserver. Instead, since P. Bartholomew styles himself the supreme patriarch for jurisdiction over America, and since the OCA is the second biggest Orthodox jurisdiction in the US, the OCA’s failing to mention him goes against P. Bartholomew’s posturing, if anything.

    Meanwhile, there is not really a necessary occasion here demanding that the OCA in its declaration reiterate its position regarding Ukraine.

    An example of the kind of action that WOULD be a significant occasion demanding the OCA expressing its position on the topic would be if: (A) the CP (Constantinople Patriarchate) and GOARCH recognized Kiev Patriarchate / OCU parishes in North America (and there are still a few) as canonical and then (B) the CP or GOARCH demanded including them in SCOBA. However, while the CP announced that the KP/OCU are “canonical,” it has ALSO declared in its “Tomos” to the KP/OCU that the KP/OCU only has churches strictly within the limits of Ukraine. I don’t know what the CP’s stance is on KP/OCU parishes in North America or Australia. Theoretically, I suppose that the CP would implicitly recognize them as being in communion with the CP even if it didn’t recognize them as having legitimate jurisdiction in North America.

    Further, my sense is that the OCA is careful to officially comment much in a negative fashion about the CP or about GOARCH because it would like to maintain ties with them, even though the OCA certainly doesn’t sympathize with the CP’s claims to supreme tyrannical “Primacy” of rule over all Orthodox.

  13. George,

    The 7th All-American Sobor (assembly of clergy and laity delegates) of the OCA recorded that the Sobor (nowadays called All-American Council) is the highest decisionmaking body in the OCA. notes that in the MP, the Local “Sobor” of the MP is also the “supreme” legislative and administrative body of the MP.

    In contrast, it sounds like GOARCH is structured in a top-down way, such that its structure could practically prevent GOARCH from opposing the CP’s patriarchal synod’s decisions even if the CP was clearly mistaken and even if GOARCH’s membership wanted to oppose those mistaken decisions by him. The CP’s patriarchal synod elects GOARCH’s hierarchs. Theoretically, it can also retire or depose them, correct? Further, GOARCH’s Eparchial synod, made of GOARCH’s hierarchs (archbishop and metropolitans), is the highest decisionmaking body within GOARCH, right? So theoretically, the Eparchial synod could override the Archdiocesan Council and the Archdiocesan Assembly, and it could violate GOARCH’s by-laws (within certain legal bounds, I suppose) or it could declare mistaken unorthodox doctrines, and if the CP agreed with those mistakes, then there would not be any higher or equal body to correct the Eparchial Synod’s mistakes. Do I understand this correctly?

    Theoretically, if parishes were really unhappy, they could leave GOARCH. But does GOARCH own all of its parishes’ property according to GOARCH’s regulations? That was one of the sore points for ACNA Episcopalian parishes leaving the EC USA, and GOARCH submitted a legal brief to the US Supreme Court about a year ago siding with the EC USA against the ACNA. You may find it interesting. It is here:

    GOARCH wrote in its brief that GOARCH should be entitled to own all GOARCH parishes’ properties, and used the argument that the parishes hold their properties for the purpose of following the Greek Orthodox Church’s faith, and that only the GOARCH hierarchs, NOT secular courts, have the right to decide what is in accordance with the Greek Orthodox Church’s faith.

    I’m not deeply familiar with the precedents on this topic, but GOARCH’s argument seems rather circuitous. If a parish left GOARCH, it seems that it might try to argue that even if secular courts could not decide what was the Orthodox Church’s faith, then GOARCH Orthodox parishes might still be able to make that kind of decision.

    It would be more helpful for GOARCH’s side if GOARCH had an actual regulation specifying that GOARCH owns all parish properties. My understanding is that the EC USA did have a regulation saying that the EC USA owned its parishes’ properties, and that this helps explain why the ACNA parishes lost their properties when they left the EC USA.

    • It’s confusing all the way around. I couldn’t give you a straight-up “yes” or “no” to any one of your questions. And sad to say, nobody else could either.

      At the end of the day, the pseudomographic transformation of the CP thanks to the Turks (as well as Greekist pathology) means that at the end of the day, the various eparchies, archdioceses, parishes, etc. have to abide by the dictates of whoever sits on the CP throne, no matter if they are in violation of proper ecclesiology, church canons, or local laws.

      It’s sad and as a Greek, I’m not proud of it.

      • George, what are your thoughts from the recent Assembly of Canonical Bishops synod?

        I haven’t looked very deep into it, but the biggest thing of note was that there will be a “task force” put together to come to consensus on the reception of converts into the Church.

        Also, of a more disconcerting note, Archbishop Elpidohphoros is using trigger phrases like “unity in diversity,” I could be mistaken but I’m almost certain this is a tagline of Anglicanism/Episcopalianism, and may just show where he’s planning on leading his special brand of “Orthodoxy”

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

          RE: “a “’task force’ put together to come to consensus on the reception of converts into the Church.”

          Which, I am hopeful and confident, ROCOR will ignore entirely.

          • Matthew Panchisin says

            Dear Archpriest Alexander,

            That’s rich.

          • I think ROCOR ignores them anyways lol.

            I’m more so hoping the Serbians, Georgians, etc ignore this “task force.”

            I keep putting it in air quotes because every time something like this is put together it ends up being a farce. I’m sure after years of study, they will come out and say “each jurisdiction should keep doing what they’re doing”

            Maybe by that time the GOA would have lost what little relevance they have left.

          • Amen Father Alexander!

    • Hal,

      Some didn’t lose their properties. Some did. It all depends on how the property is held as determined by the laws of the jurisdiction in which it is situated. The Episcopal Church [sic] adopted something called the Dennis Canon which it asserted applied to all its parishes. Some courts have sided with TEC, some have sided with ACNA, and it’s gone up and down the food chain of courts over time as well.

      Authority in the church is a much easier question. It lies with Jesus Christ and through Him at the episcopal level. The power to bind and loose was given by Him to the apostles and is handed down by Apostolic Succession. A bishop rules, in accord with the faith, in his diocese. He is part of a synod overseeing a larger region or local church. If a bishop can be overruled, it is by a synod. Synods are like bears. The only thing that turns a bear is a bigger bear. The chief bishop of a synod is like the bear’s rider. Apart from the bear, he’s nothing more than a bishop. Without a rider, the bear is still a bear. He can find another rider or, if he is clever, act on his own. As long as the bear and the rider are on good terms, all is well.

      This is the myopia of Constantinople and Rome. Authority resides in the synod and the primate is simply the bishop responsible for managing and herding but not the power itself. Constantinople and Rome want to say that the power of a synod emanates from the primate, not vice versa. This is madness. The Church is the Body of Christ. Conciliarity goes back to the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem. All that was given to St. Peter was also granted at other times to the other Apostles. St. James presided at the first council as bishop of Jerusalem. It’s decision was by agreement of the apostles, inspired by the Holy Ghost.

      If there were any charism especially associated with a place on account of sanctity, it would not be Rome or Constantinople. Rome was famous for murder. The murder of Peter and Paul as well as countless other Christians, which is why the capital was moved to Byzantium/Constantinople. Yet really this had nothing to do with sanctity, just raw power, which has long since been removed from what is now not even the capital of Turkey, Istanbul.

      “Sobor” in Russian can mean council or cathedral. It comes from the root “to collect”. It is also the root for the word for conciliarity and catholicity “sobornost'”.

      You could tell that the Crete Robber Council was a robber council by the amount of control exercised over it by the Phanar. A council is supposed to discern what the Holy Ghost is saying on a particular question vexing the Church. Crete had an agenda and statements that could only be amended by unanimous consent before it even began. It was simply the projection of the will of the Phanar, not a vehicle for God.

      It’s a monumental task to corrupt everyone going back to the beginning. You can corrupt one person. You can corrupt a group of people. Though it would be difficult, you could corrupt a whole otherwise valid council of bishops. What you cannot do is change history. You cannot corrupt everyone, everywhere going back to the beginning. Rome has tried it and failed. Everyone knows that the faith of the Church of the first millenium was not that of Rome today. Rome has had to change its standard of what constitutes “holy tradition” in order to rationalize what it has become. But those standards are well documented and unchanging.

      Now, we can conceive of one erasing all the historical records and corrupting everyone’s memory in this generation. That has been tried by communist regimes – most successfully in Albania. And ultimately it failed.

      The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church of Christ.

      • Very well said, Misha.

        Regarding Rome, Gail and I recently watched The Young Pope on Amazon. Different yet engaging all the same. One of the things that constantly got to me was the incessant calling of the Pope (whether Jude Law as Pius XIII or John Malkovich as John Paul III) “Holy Father”. It was “Holy Father this” or “Holy Father that”.

        Quite frankly, it was cloying. It also solidified in my mind how the ecclesiology of the Western Church has undergone an unfortunate evolution. (I will try to be fair and evaluate it on its own terms.)

        Some day, I intend to write about the Papacy and what it has meant for Christendom but now all I will say is that such a concept will not –and cannot–work in Orthodoxy. Hence the failure of Bartholomew’s novel claims.

        • Yeah, the titles get on my nerves sometimes. “Your Holiness”, “your Eminence”, etc. “Father” and “Master” are enough for me. An ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure. Bishops are our governing clerics. Patriarchs, etc. are like our high priests. There’s nothing wrong with that so long as it is lived and approached with humility. The observation that a power can be abused is no real argument against its existence.

          Any individual will be held accountable by the group. That’s just nature. Even a king is to some extent at the mercy of his nobles, his people and other kings. It is not just Bartholomew. It is the Phanariotes as a class. They believe they are better than everyone else and entitled to rule.

          And pride cometh before a fall.

          • George Michalopulos says


            “An ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure”. I love it!

          • The Ecumenical Patriarch term is kind of questionable, because it’s only considered primacy of honor.

            I don’t know when it started. It would seem to necessarily be after the Schism with Rome, because before then, Rome would have to be the see with “Primacy” for the Ecumenae, if there would be one at all.

            I have seen Russian sources referring to him as the EP and the Constantinopolitan Patriarch (CP) on different occasions.

      • Misha, you are bringing up a good point when you say, “Authority resides in the synod and the primate is simply the bishop responsible for managing and herding but not the power itself. Constantinople and Rome want to say that the power of a synod emanates from the primate, not vice versa. This is madness.”

        The Const. P. Bartholomew has occasionally added “corrective” statements saying that the person or office of the Primate himself is not technically what is governing his Patriarchate, but rather it’s he and his “Patriarchal Synod” that is in control. This answer makes some sense. A list of the members of his patriarchal synod is here:

        However, this still does not make his administration especially democratic, because the patriarchal synod is not composed of all of the metropolitans and bishops who belong to the Const. P.

        The headings on the Orthodox Wikipedia link above list 12 members of the “Holy and Sacred Synod” and another 12 who are listed as “other metropolitans.” I can’t tell if the “other metropolitans” are part of the Patriarchal Synod as well. For instance, I don’t see Abp. Elpidophoros (GOARCH) or Emmanuel (of Western Europe) on that patriarchal list, although they go along with P. Bartholomew’s “First Without Equals” ecclesiology anyway.

        The issue that I am getting to is whether a small group of bishops/metropolitans in the CP’s patriarchal synod can practically dictate the direction that GOARCH takes because the patriarchal synod can appoint and remove all of the patriarchate’s hierarchs as they choose.