We Are All “Disclaimer Orthodox” Now

Lately, we have been having quite a discussion on ye olde blog about “being forced to choose sides”. As an Orthodox Christian, that’s one phrase that was never in my mental universe. After all, the last time Greek Christians had to “choose sides” was well over one thousand years ago, during the Iconoclastic heresy.

There have been other times as well. During the Diocletian persecution, the proto-Donatists chose sides as did the collaborationists (gross oversimplification here but work with me). Then during the twentieth century, millions of Slavic Christians who found themselves on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain, likewise had to choose whether to remain in the Sergianist church or go underground.

I’m sure that there have been other times in which Christians (of whatever faith tradition) have “had to choose sides”. I’m afraid that we are now fast approaching another such point. And yes, it’s going to get personal. It came to me last week as we were preparing the finishing touches on the Thanksgiving turkey.

“Rick” (as he shall be known) is a convert and a member of the local GOA parish.  We invited Rick, his wife, and another family to break bread with us on Thanksgiving.  While enjoying drinks and lively conversation, Rick came up with something profound and he put it this way: Whenever I meet somebody who’s interested in the Faith, I have to say that ‘yes, we’re the true Faith but don’t listen to that guy [Bartholomew] over there’. George, I feel like I’m a ‘disclaimer Orthodox and not a Greek Orthodox anymore.

Sometimes somebody says something in a few words that can distill a problem down to its very core.  You could almost see the light bulbs coming on over everybody’s head. “Disclaimer Orthodox!” –that’s what we’ve become!

Think about it. When you are talking with a friend, a neighbor or a family member about your decision to join the Orthodox Faith, what do you tell them? Especially now when they’re thinking about doing the same? Oh sure, they see the wreckage that is Catholicism and Protestantism.  Earnest Catholics wake up every day wondering what crazy thing the Pope has said (or is going to say), and how another diocese went into receivership because too many priests took too many liberties with too many altar boys.  And Protestants whisper in dark corners about how some Episcopalian priestess is starting to lead Muslim prayers, while Evangelicals lament that some pastor of some mega-church left the faith because he thinks he’s better than Jesus.

Yeah, I’d say that this is the nadir of Christendom in the West.

And here comes Bartholomew, making a mockery of our settled ecclesiology and —get this–praising himself for doing so! I’m sorry, but for me, that last thing takes the cake. You see, being raised in the South, I was taught by my dear mother to never draw attention to yourself. To never sing your praises, and when somebody does compliment you, to immediately deflect it by some clever and complimentary stratagem back to the person who issued it.

Something like: “Bob, you look wonderful! You don’t even look like you had any surgery”. To which you would answer: “Bill, you are too kind; there is no way I could have done it without your prayers.” Or, “Jill, your leadership on the parish building committee has made us all proud!” “Your Grace, if only you knew how hard Dennis and Nick worked behind the scenes, 24/7, you would be so pleased to know that there are still true Christian gentlemen out there who don’t care who gets the credit”, would be the standard, Miss Manners-approved reply.

Say what you will about Pope Francis or the Dalai Lama (or any other religious leader you can think of), but I’ve never heard them praising themselves, their religion or their place in the world.

But such niceties and good manners are wasted on Bartholomew and his toadies. Instead, what we witness is a type of bombast which is more in keeping with a presidential debate ca 2016 or the boxing ring before the big fight. It’s all “Canon 28 allows me to…” or “I am a gracious Archpastor who heard the cries of his Ukrainian children and so…” Or this doozie: “The Slavs are always jealous of us but in the end, they will have no choice because…” The most scandalous of course is this: “Constantinople is a martyric Church”. Tell that to Patriarch John X of Antioch whose own brother is probably imprisoned in some cage or had his throat slit by some jihadist. That’s a level of jackassery akin to visiting a dying child at St Jude’s and trying to comfort the parents by describing how much it hurt when you stubbed your toe while on your way to the hospital.

I’m sorry but not only was I raised not to behave this way, but after 60 long years on this rock we call Earth, I know a scam when I see it and I can smell desperation a mile away. What we are hearing is not only the violation of proper manners but a political tin ear of galactic proportions. I don’t know who does the Phanar’s public relations but he should be fired forthwith. Why? Because nobody is fooled by this self-aggrandizement. It’s not only not Christian, it’s not decent.

Worse, it makes a mockery out of evangelism. Where is Christ in all these puffed-up pronouncements? How many people are being brought to the Church because one primate is making convoluted assertions that have no basis in fact, history, ecclesiology or common sense (much less the Gospel)?

Rick hit the nail squarely on the head. Lately, my own conversations with interested parties go like this: “Yes, I’m an Orthodox Christian”. I pretty much have to leave it like that and hope that there are no further questions. Otherwise, it would quickly degenerate to something along these lines: “We believe ourselves to be the true Faith. Unlike the Catholics, all of our bishops are equal and respect each other because we don’t have a Pope. However. . .”

That “however” is when things get sticky. That “however” nullifies pretty much everything you said before it. That “however” places shackles on your feet as you try to run a marathon. That “however” makes real evangelism impossible. You might as well tell the truth and say “Yes, we are the true Church and we want you to join if you feel called by God to do so, but we have a problem presently. One of our primates is causing a schism and if you join one of his churches, then we won’t be able to have fellowship with you”.

See what I mean by saying we are now “Disclaimer Orthodox”?  –   Yes, we are the true Faith but. . .


  1. But wait…he is the Ecumenical Patriarch of the holy and great mother Church of Christ and he is first without equals!
    This article is spot on! I find that I can no longer be an apologist for the Holy Orthodox faith. It is difficult enough explaining and defending the faith. But now it is impossible to defend or cover for the man in Istanbul and his sycophants. Now I choose to remain silent with the non-Orthodox.
    Lord have mercy!

    • Michael Bauman says

      Mikhail, that is an over reaction.  Don’t descend into petulance.  Preach and live the Truth.  You are not required to defend anything.  The Cross precludes both the necessity and the efficacy of such an approach.  

      • Michael Bauman,
        I have always engaged in apologetics as a vehicle for evangelism. What on earth are you talking about when you accuse me of “petulence.”
        When Orthodox doctrine is attacked by Roman Catholics and protestants, I defend my faith and give an account for the truth.

        But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.
        1 Peter 3:15

        • Michael Bauman says

          Mikhail, my comment on petulance was wrong, please forgive me. See below for a further explanation. Personally, I have never stressed the “unity” thing too much myself. In part because of the parish in which I was received had been part of what was called the “Toledo Experiment”. It took awhile but I eventually learned that the two Antiochian parishes in town had been split from each other during the internal schism (odd name that). St. Mary, in which I was received, was under Bp Michael in Toledo while St. George had been under New York.

          At least half of each congregation still wanted to be separate. People died, that sentiment did too. More or less. Then I started reading the history of the Orthodox Church. That shows that we always been at odds with each other since at least St. Paul and St. Peter. Still, I found in the Orthodox Church, wherever I worship in her the living presence of our Lord Jesus Christ that I had found no where else (and I looked) AND a detailed, historic path and spiritual discipline to growing closer to Him-guaranteed, if I follow it. I am free.

          Hierarchy is important, but that always fluctuates. So that is my reason for being Orthodox. Jesus Christ led me, he set me free from 40 years in the wilderness wandering around looking for Him. He set me free by bringing me to a schismatic dysfunctional parish, led by an incompetent priest in which my wife was openly insulted by members of the congregation as she led the choir during the Divine Liturgy because she was neither Arab nor a man. Later that priest. to justified himself, turned on my wife and told other parish members things she had revealed to him in confidence. Yet, I am here. I will always be here because in the midst of all the pain, sin and humanness, Jesus has also showed me beyond doubt, as I confess my own far worse sins that the Orthodox Church is and will always be His Church, where He knows his people intimately, the only Church where that occurs as a matter of its natural order.

          I told my Bishop Sunday when he told me that I put too much trust in him: “I don’t trust you at all! I trust God.” That was a surprise to both of us because I love and respect him deeply. By God’s grace I am his friend because he carries our Lord Jesus Christ in a merciful and kind heart.

          Our theology is good and holy because it reflects the fullness of grace and truth possible in worshiping our Lord, not the other way around.

          My hope, the reason I am here is that no matter how sinful I become, He leads me back to Him through the Church–all of it, even the messy parts. So be honest about our messiness. That is what life in Christ looks like. The Cross, full of blood, puke, nastiness and filth but in the midst is the Holy One of God calling us to His death, so that we might rise with Him as well.

          If it were not so, the evil one would leave us alone in the peace of this world.

          The Church is of one mind, but not everyone in the Church shares that mind all of the time.

          If Bart the Betrayer continues in his betrayal and declares union with Rome? That tells all does it not?

          • Thank you for revealing a part of your journey Michael. It is glorious! I also wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before I found the one, holy, catholic and Apostolic Church. My journey was a bit smoother than yours, but it had its share of obstacles. I get so frustrated sometimes to see the Patriarch of Constantinople seemingly tearing apart the Church that I love and cherish….it breaks my heart. But you are right…I need to trust more in Christ. He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail.
            Thank you for your witness to the holy Orthodox faith.

            • Thank you, both!

            • Mikhail: “Thank you for revealing a part of your journey Michael.  … My journey was a bit smoother than yours”

              It seems that people come to God from different directions, yet God is One. For me the starting point was radical skepticism and pessimistic view of men and the world.
              Because of the first I tend to doubt the reality of the material, secular world and what is only left is the super-transcendent (transcendence is also a part of Creation), incomprehensible God, for the second I am surprised with the potential for the real kindness and mercy, that is a reflection of Divine overabundant generosity.
              Human weaknesses and failings do not scandalize me, contrary – I expect them.

    • Antiochene Son says

      I agree Mikhail, this makes evangelism incredibly more difficult. What brought so many into the Church was the vision of a united refuge that didn’t depend on the whims of one exalted man, yet it has come apart at every point. That isn’t Orthodoxy’s fault, but try explaining that to someone who wants to leave the endless cycle of church splits that is Protestantism.
      But the EP never cared about evangelism. At least one GOAA handbook expressly forbids proselytism. So maybe it’s better to cut out the dead, fruitless vine and move on. I can only pray the Lord’s under-shepherds know best.

  2. Michael Bauman says

    So George are we Orthodox because we are sinless and holy?  Are we Orthodox because we are contra Rome, Canterbury, Reformation, etc.?
    Politics always destroys unity.  Schism always leads to unbelief or it’s cousin legalized definition of belief. Perhaps this is our Reformation. 
    There is no such thing as Greek Orthodox. The fact that such an appellation exists is precursor to schism.  Same with all of the other ethnic modifiers.  Does not saying, “I am Greek Orthodox already disclaim the Russians, the Arabs and everybody else?

    In the dome of my home parish Jesus Christ, Son of God is written around the  icon of the Panocrator in three languages Greek, Arabic and English.  Greek because it is the New Testament language, Arabic because the founders of our Holy Temple spoke Arabic and English because that is our language.  Indeed, the Arabs who founded our Holy Temple have a longer heritage of being Christian than any Greek. The Archdiocese of Homs from which they came predates the convert Greeks by decades. I am merely grafted in.

    We can either accept our heritage of the full Gospel, live it and preach it or we can accept something less, fractured, truncated and hobbled.  

    We do not have to “disclaim” anyone or apologize for someone else’s sin. Blessed Seraphim Rose was on point when faced with similar questions saying he refused to defend sin–even his own.

    I have a distinct advantage: I am not Greek, nor Russian, nor Arabic. In fact I am a Tuetonic mongrel.  The ancestor of pagans and heretics.  I am one of the lame the halt and the maimed. 

    It is long past time we drop the self-exaltation of the ethic modifiers, perhaps even Orthodox.  I am a Christian, here is what I believe and I worship with people of like mind. 

    Let me ask you, if a Muslim or neo-pagan were standing next to you in worship, would they be of like mind?  No, but the woman and child a couple of places over is.  

    Something has always surprised me: during the Arian controversy the Cappidocian Fathers never broke communion with the Arians around them. At least I have seen no mention of it. (If I am wrong on that, I would like to know). 

    Since then….well the spirit of division has taken hold of our hearts so that being  “the right kind of Christian” has become more important than just following Jesus Christ and seeking union with Him through prayer, repentance, almsgiving, worship and fasting. 

    Jesus will come to you no matter where you are if you call upon Him—even if that means Him coming to you through a man who does not believe but wears the vestments.  Whether he be Greek, Russian, mongrel dog or barbarian.  He will not come to you if your heart is stone and the same gifts were delivered to you by a holy man. Surely the evil one sows tares in our garden but are we not commanded to let them grow together?

    That is the nature of the Cross.  Which thief will I be?   

    • The good thief was not being politically and ecclesiastically pressured to commemorate and commune with a group of laymen who were given a tomos and are pretending to be hierarchs.

  3. Antiochene Son says

    George, I have recently used this exact verbiage about being forced to choose sides, so I must confess I’m a little afraid. I agree with everything you wrote above, but I’m not sure I have the stomach to see the wheels actually coming off here where I live. It’s sad that this beautiful Pan-Orthodox thing we have is being destroyed by battles being waged over ancient history on the other side of the world.
    But you’re right, false union is no union at all, any more than it would be with Rome. It’s all Bartholomew’s fault; if he had just ordained the clergy, even in an anti-canonical mass ordination like Metropolitan Philip did, it would be much more difficult to sustain this split. But in his haste to please his puppet masters, he failed to even pretend to make his new church appear legitimate, and it has come to this.
    As I’ve said, I’m firmly in the camp of Russia with my patriarch John. I will pray with whomever he commemorates. But still, it’s upsetting. I pray for the schisms to cease, as St. Basil’s liturgy says. I am furious at my own government working to destroy my church along with everything else good in society.
    What do you think about the possibility of things falling into a purity spiral, as always happens with fake “true Orthodox” schismatic groups, as David outlines here? I’m less afraid of a clean break than a messy multi-front war within the Orthodox Church

  4. I faced this problem on a regular basis having attended a Greek parish in the Midwest for about a decade.  If I conversed with anyone interested in Orthodoxy, there was always a reluctance in my heart to direct them to my own parish as it was very “cosmopolitan” and under the heresiarch, Bartholomew, and his lovely crew.
    Never again.  Ecumenism stands in the way of mission.  Why bother to convert if there is no substance to doctrine?  Why become a Uniate if you are interested in Orthodoxy?  What comfort is it that your parish has not (yet) officially lost the grace of the sacraments when its leadership and many of its members simply do not hold the Orthodox faith?
    They have no Gospel to share.  There is no sense in any of it.  Flee any ecumenist jurisdiction.  It is dead weight waiting to be pruned.

    • Pere LaChaise says

      Misha, I sense what you are saying about the hollowness of the Greek church here, from another inside angle. See, I have to serve with Greek clergy, though I am not one of them.
      I see parish clergy who treat celebration of Divine Services like a job they do to please their boss. The boss is the rich layman in the pew and the pampered bishop who holds a Turkish passport. Greek clergy secretly detest the situation but it’s too late for all of them. They don’t have their own church, it’s run by foreigners and oligarchs. They express how deeply they despise  the OCA in order to  assuage their misery, pretending that we are owned by the Russians because they are actually owned by Turks. 
      To these Greek American clergy, traditional Orthodoxy is detestable. They are strangers to the simple joy of a sincere priest who serves the Lord in a humble church among enthusiastic people singing in their own native language, a native bishop who doesn’t pretend to be a prince in his own psychodrama of compensation for the humiliation he endures at the hands of intrusive Turkish authorities. I envy Greek priests not one whit. They are the blind leading the blind. 

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        I do wonder why so many are eager to darken counsel and sow discord; I don’t pretend the situation isn’t serious but this description of “parish clergy” in the GOA is utterly remote from the reality of my parish and our priest.
        One sometimes can’t make a point without some overstatement, but this is really going overboard.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I think most of the criticisms are about the archdiocese. There are certainly some parish clergy that supports them but there are many good parishes out there, too.

          • George Michalopulos says

            TimR: GOA laity = by and large solid people.  Same for majority of the priests.
            The guys on the national level?  I’d rather not say.
            At the end of the day, stay right where you’re at.  It sounds like you got a good priest and he needs good men like you backing him up.

            • If I may do my bit in this topic,
              in the last decades in my Church I have known all kinds of parish clergy, just like us laity. Clergy (kleros) is a chosen sample (lot) from the laity.
              I have met really holy clergy BUT I have also met very bad clergy, luckily not many. I might say it is like the sample of the 12 disciples. One was/is Judas Iscariot.
              Now years of such experience shows a pattern:
              Things like kind of jokes, politeness, manners, hobbies, books read, friends, etc, etc, ultimately reveal the real person of the clergy (or laity).
              I think all of us here, with experience, we can tell which clergy are good, genuine, and we can move and select a parish accordingly.   

        • Pere LaChaise says

          Tim, I use strong language to describe viscerally what I see with my own eyes. I see a parish clergy in thrall to Phanariots who disparage sacred Tradition. For example, an eminent Archimandrite and Pastor Emeritus around here, from whom all the clergy including the Metropolitan Vicar desperately desire approval, whose silence as well as his words is subject to engaged interpretational debate, tell all of us how fasting before Dec. 15 is extremist and to be discouraged; how when he was recently visiting the Phanar wearing his rasson his friend Patr. Bartholomew asked him if was now an Ephraimite. These are just what I note having met the man twice or three times.
          These ‘geronds’ of GOARCH exert enormous power over a supine rank-&-file clergy. From what I observe their influence is entirely modernist, minimalizing ascetical practice and discouraging piety among clergy who then teach this hollowed-out version of Orthodoxy in their parishes. Clergy who derive their practice from broader sources than this thin pablum GOARCH geronds prefer are derided as ‘grandiose’ and even disciplined by hierarchs for teaching counter to ‘Archdiocese tradition’.
          This is no news of course. I’m just confronting it for the first time in my vocational experience and I find it shocking.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            I can’t comment on these specifics; they are outside my experience. Our priest keeps the fasts strictly and strongly encourages the congregation likewise. I have never seen him not in clerical garb; outside the liturgy in his rasson– everywhere at all times, including on all domestic and international trips; in all private and public settings. One exception: he swam laps recently in the pool I use because the one he uses was temporarily closed– he wore a black t-shirt and black knee-length trunks. Clerical swim garb!
            He teaches what I can only call maximal Orthodoxy, in contrast to your ‘hollowed out’ rubric.
            He was assigned to our church exactly 10 years ago– his first Liturgy was on St. Nicholas’ feast day, our patron. We hope we can keep him for many years more.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Pere LaChaise, distant bells rang and I see we had almost this same discussion here in May of 2014. You asserted that our priest did not conform to GOA ‘type’….
            Maybe that’s why I remain rather  phlegmatic in the midst of these recent international doings….

            • Tim,
              such is life, as Solon (630-560BC) said:

              “γηράσκω ἀεί πολλά διδασκόμενος”
              “I’m getting older while being taught many things all the time”

            • Pere LaChaise says

              Lucky you! Make sure to protect him from the minimalist secularists in high places!

      • fr I am greek and u express it exactly.  Delusional mini -emperors with no clothes.

    • Welcome back, Misha. Looking forward to more from you.

  5. I feel for you, George. What a tough place to be in. But I don’t feel the “disclaimer” nullifies anything at all, though it is strange to you. There have always been false teachers in the Church, starting in the New Testament, Christians have always had to discern and discriminate.
    There was schism galore in the early church, schism in history and schism recently, now and ongoingly. And Christians have never gone running to the hills to hide or cease evangelizing because of it. They FOUGHT for true Christianity, and continued bringing people into the Church. If you think the Greek Orthodox aren’t the true Church anymore, then find one that is. If there isn’t one in your area, embrace a life of prayer and repentance until there is, or until this controversy is resolved. Did the hermits have nice big churches to go to? Did they despair and feel isolated because they didn’t? NO. They became saints!

    Maybe it’s easier for me because I’m not a cradle Orthodox, have converted repeatedly in my life in my ongoing search for God, truth, and getting closer and closer to God. I wasn’t always a Christian, then became Evangelical, then Catholic, and now Orthodox. I’ve seen things go bad in other parts of the Christian world, and there’s nothing surprising about it happening here, too, given history, human nature and the fallen world we live in. Like Jesus said, when He comes again, will He find faith on earth?

    Whatever you do, remember that JESUS is head of the Church, not the EP or MP or anyone else, and follow Him in the best place you can find to follow Him in. And let the heads of your Churches know how you feel – one thing I like about Orthodoxy, lay people have more of a voice than in the Catholic world, where they have none.
    So Eastern papist desires must be fought, or we will lose the freedom we have. This is the time for courage and fortitude, not faintheartedness and fear. And if phyletism gets purified out along the way, so much the better – I became Orthodox here in the United States not because it is Greek or Russian or Antiochian, but because I found truth and beauty here. I do feel lucky that my parish is Antiochian, and I hope the Antiochians stand strong. If they don’t, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. But Jesus is the one I follow and cling to, and I’ll be praying for His lead if that time comes.

  6. George as usual u get it spot on.   Most people at parish level here in Bulgaria have not registered it yet.  They had 45 yrs after 1870 as u know and in 1990s a schism over what happened during communism. 
    I do not mention it unless I have to as I see it damaging to the faith.  But those that know are totally appalled and actually they not so in love with Kyrill but that irrelevant. 
    George I have put yr name on the list  for health  for proskomidi for liturgy in morning  as my saint’s day. 
    It’s totally tragic but totally due to the the phanar and it’s not about something over there.!!    The patriarch in phanar has made himself outside the orthodox church  by his papalist ideology.  
    This delusional malaise at the heart of the Church is dragging us down. 

    • Hronia Polla Niko (from the other side of the world where its is already Friday)!

      • Thank you. A beautiful liturgy this morning and feeling of love and unity. This we must hold. God bless you all. We go to Thessaloniki next week but  when  we go to St  Dmitri to  venerate the Said t we cannot give in names.  ?  

    • Νῖκο,
      Χρόνια πολλά καί καλά!

  7. “If one or another Local Orthodox Church calls into question the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, then it also jeopardizes its own autocephaly…”
    Epiphany Dumenko

  8. I say I am Orthodox. If they ask, I say “well, EP is not exactly Orthodox, they used to be”. People understand.
    I do not care about EP anymore and stay away from it.

  9. This article has some powerful arguments as to how EP Bartholomew has acted correctly with regard to Ukraine:

    • Ed H, I think you may have linked to the wrong article, your link is about St.Savva and his monastery.. If it’s the article by a George Tsetsis, it’s quite laughable. They still refuse to answer how you cease to recognize the apostolic succession of bishops currently under Met. Onufry and begin to recognize it in unordained schismatics and anathemized persons. Apostolic Succession is now a hoax,  But I do find it intriguing how the Phanar’s protopresbyter has embraced the term “World Orthodox” after years of claiming its derogatory (granted it was coined by the EP priest Stanley Harakas in the late 70’s)

      • 1/3 of the so-called bishops of the so-called OCU were “ordained” by a charlatan who was a defrocked deacon and served more than four year in an Australian prison for kidnapping and sexual abuse. I would like to see Mr. Tsetsis (or any of the phanariotes) try to justify this one.

      • George C Michalopulos says

        Gus, Ed, et al:  I went out on a limb when I complained about Bart’s bombastic style of archpastoralism.  Then this “Grand Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne” up and proves my case (vis-à-vis bombast).

        One of the things that always bothered me about the See of Cpole since the accession of Pat Bartholomew to the throne is the constant mining of medieval titles and prerogatives which all point to a most unseemly grandiosity.  

        And I won’t even comment on the paucity of logic and the preposterousness of his self-serving arguments.  Or ignorance of history and reality for that matter.

        This is not good and flies in the face of everything Christ taught regarding authentic church leadership.  Not only is it not good, such pride and arrogance will not be rewarded positively by the Lord.  

        • Alitheia1875 says

          Patriarch Demetrios knew that Batholomew would succeed him and he told some one I know that he was not at all in favor of  Bartholomew becoming the next EP.

          • Alitheia,
            THAT is very intriguing! How did he know?
            Somebody had decided about it and the decision leaked to Demetrios?
            Who was that “Somebody” who decided?
            So Demetrios recognized there was another “real boss” above him and the other bishops!
            What is going on anyway?

            • Alitheia1875 says

              I think Patriarch Demetrius was saying what his heart and gut were telling him. He undoubtedly knew which way the winds were blowing and how the members of the Synod were thinking. He knew Bartholomew had the votes sewn up.

    • Ed H: “powerful arguments as to how EP Bartholomew has acted correctly with regard to Ukraine”
      No “powerful” arguments can persuade a sensible person that 2 + 2 and equals 5. Sorry, unless you mean by “powerful” applying physical power. (see Orwell’s 1984). Case is closed until EP repents.

  10. Fr Thomas Hopko of blessed memory authored a book, “All the Fullness of God” published in 1982. In Chapter 6, titled “Orthodox Christianity and the American Spirit” he writes about what is called the American Civil Religion.  And he also writes about how many Orthodox have bought into American Civil Religion. In my 30+ years as an Orthodox Christian, my personal observation is that those Orthodox buying in to American Civil Religion has greatly increased. One could easily argue that what is American Civil Religion is the same as ecumenism except that it is unity in being Americans regardless of one’s religion whereas ecumenism is usually thought of as being united (or rather reunited) as the Church.
    So I also have found myself often having to explain, i.e. make disclaimers, about the Orthodox Faith. But it’s not merely because of Patriarch Bartholomew, but because there is much confusion and different views on ecclesiology, traditions and practices, etc within the Orthodox Church. And those differences are not simply between local churches, i.e. Greek, Serbian, OCA, Antiochian etc. but those differences are also within each of the jurisdictions. And those differences also result in different bishops and/or priests in what the teach to their people and practice.  I do understand that there are differences that are ok and not divisive that are not dogmatic. But I am speaking in terms of those things that are dogmatic in nature.
    With regard to the Ukraine situation, my son said that the Church, i.e. the Orthodox Church, is already divided. The Ukraine situation is only making that reality apparent and actualized. The ROCOR Priest Fr John Whiteford said in an interview that if there are actual splits over the Ukraine situation that there would most likely be splits within the jurisdictions in the US. And we see that already within the Church of Greece and appears to be happening within the Church of Alexandria and Cyprus.
    It is very frustrating to not see this Ukraine issue being resolved. However, even if it is, I don’t know that it will totally resolve the division within the Church.  So it seems like we will for some time to come be explaining what the Orthodox Christin Faith is.  And it will be awkward and may end up in some unpleasant arguments.  But we should also be reading the fathers and listening to current theologians, bishops, etc to confirm or correct what we each believe to be the faith. I can’t say that when I came into the Church that I understood and knew all the correct “True” Faith. And at times I have had to change regarding various things.  And still I am open to that fact that there probably are some things I am wrong about. So I need to constantly listen, read and consider what other Orthodox are saying.
    My conclusion is that the one thing I can and need to do is pray, especially for the unity of the Church and the prayer of St a Ephraim, “O Lord and Master of my life …….. Help me to see my own faults and not condemn my brother”
    PS. Yes, my personal opinion is that Patriarch Bartholomew and those with him have gone astray; but one must be very careful about pronouncing judgments.  It is my understanding that the canons say that if one makes an accusation against someone in the church and it is proven that you are wrong and that the accused is right, the you are to suffer the same consequence that the accused would have suffered if they had been found wrong. And so I can understand perhaps why the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches might be hesitant to that action or rather side with P Bartholomew or P Kyrill. And also because one of the worst sins, perhaps THE worst sin is to cause schism within the Church.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Good post, and yes, St. John Chrysostom among others have said that schism is among the worst sins.
      Of course, heresy and schism are not necessarily the same thing. Heresy puts one outside the Church, while schism is a split within the Church. How to differentiate the two, and what to do about it, is extremely delicate and will require the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
      We ought to pray and dedicate our Nativity Fast to these matters.

    • A u sure.   Yes I hear what you are saying. And yes from 1054 AD, due to history, we never sorted out exactly how the Church is run And yes. Fr Alexander Schememn wrote about the danger in USA of secularising the altar.  A greater danger then ever communism ever was. And yes. Especially in USA but not only, Orthodoxy has been developing in different directions.  One has only to compare the classic greek american picture of dog collared, shaven priest at the altar and organ and western style 19c choir with congregation sitting tight in their seats to St Vladimir’s chapel or St Nicholas Whitestone NY. Let alone other churches. I know, especially today there are greek parishes not like that, but point made. And as a psychologist I want to tell you thst outward  action, appearance etc  reflects inward attitude. 
      And yes quarrels between patriarchates have arisen and they went over my bored head. 
      And yes we as a Church in 2019, almost 2020, are seeming determined to live in a glorious byzantine past, no matter what and not let Christ get in the way. And yet in all this as we saw over seventy yrs in Russia, and over almost 50 here in Bulgaria and Romania etc, real holiness and a living foretaste of God. 
      And Christianity today faces as much if not more persecution than in era of Diocletion, the Roman emperor. 
      And yes I, nobody wants a schism,  so is it business as usual.??    
      NO, NO, NO..   I am Greek living in Bulgaria, and not given to running down the glory of my race, but  I am also an Orthodox Christian and I have to say to you re Ukraine. that what Phanar has done is  wrong  and  made a monkey’s of Orthodox sacramental belief.    It is not a question of loving Kyril. I know Russia and russians well and like Russia and them. but I am not too keen on Kyril. A bit of a cardinal Richlieu,  but could he be anything else as things are?   But that is irrelevant to issues. I repeat the Phanar’s  action in Ukraine is wrong at so many levels. 
      But beyond that , and this very, Very simple to understand. Bartholomaios for reasons humanly understandable, in trying to have a reason  for going  to work in the morning, is, OUT OF HIS OWN MOUTH, AND FROM THOSE AROUND HIM, claiming for Constantinople,  authority and power under pinned by God as it were, putting  himself  as Patrarch of former Constantinople,  ABOVE ALL OTHER LOCAL CHURCHES. , and He as Patrarch in an exalted position. And elpidophoros, the next one obviously, has developed a theology of this that would make the Pope blush!! 
      One cannot close ones eyes. This is not the teaching of the Orthodox church.  IT IS THAT SIMPLE. Now all those who support him, may not be aware or would not agree totally, but Elpidophoros, no problems!!  But Silent agreement  is agreement.  
      I cannot. If I want a Pope I’ll have the guy in Rome thank you very much. 
      Above and beyond this.  Is trying to run the Church in the era of Zuckerberg  and Musk and artificial intelligence era, on the order and  authority of a long  dead empire, where you in USA are barbarians in barbarian lands is not workable to be polite.. IS THIS SANE? , LET ALONE NOT FUNNY?  I Leave to you to decide. 
      But actually i find it rather sad and pathetic ,  this living out a Fantasy land of dead empire and trying to give it a fig lead of theology.  
      The C of R not innocent  in politicking etc but pales in front of Phanar presence and the much martyred and suffered Church of  Russia and Ukraine is not trying to change Orthodox teaching.  
      We are at a crisis point. And i have not mentioned the bribes and corruption and blatent political  pressure and brought to  bare on Greece and Alexandria.  
      And what this all does to reduce even more the Church’ s relevence in the world and claim to be at least listened to. 
      They are trying  to promote and forge an international supra -Patrarchate   grabbing land and money as they go, you guys in USA in greek church are good milk cows to keep milking.  No autocephaly for you guys.  Not even autonomous as u don’t even get a say in who sits in the big seat. So if you on board with that direction of travel, that is fine.   I as an Orthodox Christian am not. 

      • Niko very well said!

        • Ιωάννη. THANK YOU. I say this with no Joy. With utter sadness. As a greek and as a Christian of the Orthodox church. I know the sacrifice,  work  and effort of those who settled the Church in USA.  I do not put them down. They shame us even with their 19c icons and rest. THEY SHAME US ALL.
          Without repeating it all, to me it is so simple.  You know it’s about time religious leaders were held to accountable interview by hard headed journalists.  To get out of their expensive comfort zone, these religious bureaucrats.  God forgive me but they sicken me.  At least the Pope has a common human touch. 
          Thank God I am here with a simple humble church. 

  11. William Tighe says

    “Something has always surprised me: during the Arian controversy the Cappidocian Fathers never broke communion with the Arians around them. At least I have seen no mention of it. (If I am wrong on that, I would like to know). ”
    I believe that you are largely mistaken about this.  I touched on these matters in an article in Touchstone nearly fifteen years ago:
    I don’t know about the actions of the Cappadocian Fathers, although Gregory of Nazianzus always opposed Arianism – St. Basil the Great as a youth inclined towards the homoiousian position – but St. Athanasius the Great and other anti-Arian bishops like Eusebius of Samosata on a number of occasions  not only ordained anti-Arian priests to minister in dioceses with Arian bishops, but even consecrated anti-Arian bishops in dioceses where the bishop was an Arian.

  12. Tim R. Mortiss says

    I am a simple man (so I like to say). When I began to study the Orthodox church 40 years ago, like innumerable others, I read Timothy [Kallistos] Ware. I read Frs. Schmemann and Meyendorf and Florovsky, and many others (like everybody else). I kept reading about how the American ‘jurisdictions’ were everywhere regarded as uncanonical, a (hopfully) transient, provisional artifact of the diaspora and the Bolshevik revolution, etc. etc.
    So I came to believe and still do. I had many connections with the OCA church and the GOA church when I joined, and came to the GOA because it is the Orthodox parish in my city, period.
    Now some have it that our American situation is both canonical and uncanonical. Uncanonical for all the old reasons– but now ‘canonical’ in that we GOAs are supposedly ‘under’, ‘with’, ‘following’ the EP (pick your description). In other words, the ‘jurisdictions’ themselves are uncanonical, yet you are stuck with their non-canonicity, like it or not….
    Not particularly worried about it, myself. On the other hand, don’t worry; I won’t be joining the Roman Catholic church under any circumstances! Short of that, I’m little troubled, despite what the sideline kibitzers have to say, be they right or wrong (and I assume, largely right).
    Incidentally, or perhaps collaterally, how many Orthodox bishops are there in San Francisco? I ask, because if you live in the Pacific NW, you have to go to SF to find a bishop…..and how many should there be?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      If they would form a Holy Synod of American bishops, I am told there would be more than enough bishops to cover our country and each Bishop would be able to maintain ties with their mother Churches. This might help with your question about the Pacific NW, Tim. http://assemblyofbishops.org/assets/maps/US-Bishops-And-Parishes-2018-07-July.pdf

    • Antiochene Son says

      There are enough bishops for at least one  per state, more for larger states. It’d be nice if dioceses were small enough to see the bishop more than once a year.
      Even if we unite, I’m afraid we are stuck with the ethnic bishop parallel hierarchy model of the OCA. It has been there virtually since the beginning of the American Church, and I think the “barbarian lands” will probably always be organized like this. Even the Roman Church is organized this way in the New World. 

    • George C Michalopulos says

      My answer:  Ideally, one bishop for every major metropolitan area and at the very least, one bishop for every state in the Union.
      It can be done.

      • George C Michalopulos says

        Thanks to Gail’s research (of Krindatch’s paper), I counted 49 active diocesan bishops.  

  13. ChristineFevronia says

    Dear friends, may I pass along an Orthodox tv recommendation worthy of viewing during our Nativity fast? Both seasons of “Godunov” are available on Amazon Prime. It is a binge worthy, spectacular tv show about Tsar Godunov, St. Job, and the very first Romanov tsar Fyodor Romanov and his wife Ksenia in Russia in the late 1500s. It’s not every day that we can find shows about our faith and history, and this one is very well done, worthy of our viewing support.

    • Thank you very much for the recommendation.
      Another series on Amazon Prime that might be worth watching is “Sophia” (СОФИЯ),  the story of Zoe Palaiologos, niece of the last Byzantine emperor, who was brought to Russia to marry Ivan III.  They were the grandparents of Ivan the Terrible.  Also produced in Russia and in Russian with English subtitles.

      • ChristineFevronia says

        Agreed! In fact, the actress who plays Sophia also plays Ksenia Romanov in Godunov.

        • ChristineFevronia, do you have a recommendation as to the order in which the two series should be viewed, assuming one wants to watch both of them? Historically, Sophia (Sofya or Софиа) takes place before the story of Godunov. But there may be reasons to view them in a different order.  (As for us, we’ve almost finished watching Sophia for the second time, so we’ll be watching Godunov next.)

      • Christine,
        Thank you for the recommendation.  I’m enjoying it very much.

    • George Michalopulos says

      CF, we’ll put it on the binge list!

  14. On the anniversary of the tragic creation of the schismatic OCU,the crazy man in Istanbul just stated that it was Jesus Christ Himself who created it.
    Lord have mercy!!!

    • Mikhail,
      he admits he is the Head of the Church on earth, 
      so he thinks his head has replaced Christ’s Head.
      So, to him it makes sense, whatever he thinks goes straight to Christ’s Head,
      kind of Papal logic, the Pope tells Christ what to do, not the other way round.
      In a nutshell,
      whatever Bartholomew does, it clicks with what he has already done.   

  15. More detail please, Mikhail.

    • We are at war with not only heresy but the U.S. State Department which is finding and propagating it. Their endless resources are buying off whomever is required. Once respected media outlets such as Romfea have been bought and paid for. The U.S. state department through its newly discovered media arm the Orthodox Times has been promoting tribalism and separatism amongst the Orthodox peoples. For any doubt here is how much 30 pieces of silver in U.S. dollars buys the Orthodox Times:

      • Johann Sebastian says

        three words:
        doesn’t cost very much to pay our people off, does it?

      • ChristineFevronia says

        Wow!!! I concur with Johann! This also goes along with the story that the EP broadcasted that they had 300 priests ready to act as informants to the CIA. WTF, indeed. WHO will be brave enough to share these stories and do investigative reporting on them?

        • Christine,
          The 300 priests comment was Athenagoras who said his 300 priests and 3 bishops and everyone under him is also under Truman. What people havent picked up yet is Athenagoras handed over the names of all the youths near or at military age to be called up for service. “Everyone under him basically meant every boy 15 years and older. Here is the excerpt from the archive:

          Ulias Amoss, the same intelligence agent who wrote the March 26 memorandum, wrote a letter to Athenagoras, thanking him for the Greek Archdiocese’s ongoing cooperation, saying, in part, “The care with which your Bishops and Priests have cooperated has impressed everyone and the report that, perhaps, as many as a hundred thousand names will be returned to us is astounding.” On the same day, William J. Donovan himself — the head of the OSS — also wrote to Athenagoras, “The reports and descriptions of Greek-American youth of military age so kindly undertaken by you are coming in in splendid volume. The care with which Your Grace has managed this important service is of great interest to our armed services and I wish to express my deep appreciation for your loyal and patriotic assistance.”