What Did They Expect?

Really, are the Ukrainians this gullible? What did they expect would happen when they began treating with the Phanar? Are they unaware of the history of that long-ago, storied capital, a “New Rome” which hasn’t existed for half a millennium?

Or, did they decide to play along with the fake autocephaly in order to mutiny afterward?

Both are good questions. Regardless, it looks like the mutiny-after-the-mutiny is spreading (many thanks to Greatly Saddened):


As grieved as I am for the Orthodox Ukrainians who are having to witness the division of both their Church and their country, I am particularly concerned as to the geopolitical ramifications of the chaos that is engulfing Ukraine at present. As a non-interventionist (who voted for Donald Trump as a peace candidate vis-a-vis Russia), I am not at all happy to see Mike Pompeo and John Bolton trot out the old NATO, neoconservative line. That, however, is a story for another day.

As an Orthodox Christian, I am very concerned as to what this all means as far as Orthodox unity in the Diaspora. Clearly, Patriarch Bartholomew’s hyper-papalism is not sitting well with the other local Churches. As reported here yesterday, Moscow proceeds apace creating new dioceses throughout Asia. And it is on the verge of accepting the “dissolved” Russian Exarchate of Western Europe under its omorphor. I have no quarrel with any of this, in fact, I say “Godspeed” in full-throated fashion.

As an Orthodox Christian in America, I am anxious to see how this slow-motion schism is going to play out here. Indeed, the word “schism” may be too strong a word in that insofar as the Russians are concerned, Constantinople doesn’t seem to exist. Thus, it doesn’t seem to me that the present regime of Episcopal Assemblies (which was set up by Bartholomew) is realistic given the present situation.

So what will happen here in the United States? I imagine that those bishops who are not in the GOA will quietly remove themselves and either coalesce around Antioch, the OCA or some such concatenation, or simply go their own way for as long as they can. Basically waiting another decade or two to see which way the cookie crumbles. Either way, Istanbul’s way of doing things is untenable. Moscow –whatever its faults–can provide cover to those Churches in the Diaspora who will not be hoodwinked (as were the Ukrainians).

Indeed, we can thank the Ukrainians for removing the scales from our eyes. As a Greek-American born and raised in the See of Constantinople, it grieves me to say this, but the Phanariotes are not to be trusted. It was twenty-five years ago that the rug was pulled out from under us –all of us–at Ligonier. Since then decrepitude has been the order of the day for Orthodoxy here in America. I rather doubt we have another generation under the present way of doing things. The Episcopal Assembly has certainly provided no hope for anything better.

Still, despair is a sin. And yes, I do see rays of light, as things continue to spiral out of Poroshenko’s control in Ukraine, thereby frustrating his and Bartholomew’s plans.  The Kyiv District Administrative Court has ruled it is unlawful for Rada to adopt legislation obliging the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church to change its name.  Bartholomew’s plans are thus becoming undone.  Our hope lies with the Third Rome, not that Islamic city which sits on the Bosphorus.  https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/578888.html

P.S.  You may wonder why we chose this particular graphic. I will tell you: until the situation is resolved in a canonical fashion (and not how the Phanar defines canonical in its typical fluid fashion) it may be incumbent upon us here in America to worship in private.


  1. Dear George, true brother in Christ and Faith,
    what a wonderful post!
    Problem is you mention so many interesting issues, will take us ages to completely cover this…
    If I may start from the end, I appreciate your disappointment and your idea to worship in private. Surely you must have some priest!
    Why can’t you go to the Antiochian/Russia/OCA parishes?

    • George Michalopulos says

      I’m in the OCA.

      • Thumbs up!

      • Same may be true for all of us. For me the biggest obstacle to the Church going about it’s missionary work, and by that i mean to most of it’s own now, is the delusion we all live under, of being in barbarians lands with a functioning byzantine empire. This has been a lunacy to make sure behind the mockery of dead titles and faux humity, that power says in Phanar.
        It has been a fairy story we all winked at in order to get on with church life. BUT what has changed is that, NOW, the Phanar wants to live it, AS REALITY.
        Moscow the third Rome may be an ideology but at least it’s based on a given reality and church order.
        Maybe if we could have that of CHRIST?? But as i was saying, this is the Church, so let’s not be so naive.

  2. Old Red, Is New Green... says

    Since “The Ukraine” situation:

    EP’s flock a band of heretics, and thus…

    EP is now magically CP, but actually suprised y’all don’t call him IP, since…

    Constantinople is now Istanbul, by the holier than thou ruffled feathers, even though last year…

    Istanbul was called Constantinople by most Orthodox Christians, not just Greeks…

    Mount Athos was The Holy Mountain, now the jury is out…

    The jewel of the GOA was Geronda Ephraim’s Monastery in Arizona and abroad, again the jury is out and the misnomer Ephraimites spreads…

    And of course pews, organs, and white collars make’s the Greek Orthodox in America Catholics and Protestants.

    • Friend no not just since the Ukrainian situation.That is not to look closely.
      This has been festering for 100 yrs or so.
      As for dare I mention then, organs, etc etc, it’s not my view etc but simply the lived view of the Church over near 2000 yrs in very different cultures and times against a revisionist view, modernist of last century. And what fruit has it born, this modernist cosy pseudo ethnic club ?? You know well.
      And yes keeping to tradition as end in itself, is equally fruitless. If we do not live the Faith in Christ. And yes different cultures in different times but we will always know what is Orthodox and what is not.
      We have lived through the Communist persecution of Russia and Eastern Europe and still on going in China for those who care, but the question is what do we do now? How do we go forward in the world we have According to will of Christ?

  3. All of this is the will of God. I have been praying for a long time for God to clarify the grey areas….to show us black and white….to identify the lukewarm. My prayer was intensified after the Cretan robber synod. And now, it looks like the prayer is being answered.

  4. The pews, collars and organs were there from the beginning of the GOA’s mission. I saw recently photos from the first year of Pomfret, which moved to and is now HCHC. The school’s chapel was equipped with pews and an organ and the priests and bishop wore western style suits with collar. There was a deliberate attempt to be Protestant in look and appeal. I don’t have access to the photos any longer but I’m sure someone can find them. It was from the 75th anniversary of Holy Cross Seminary

    • Yes. This pseudo western ideology was prevelent in early 20c Greece. As seen as anti- Ottoman, which is how they saw their HERITAGE. In Greece the refugees crisis following 1922 Catastrophe ( Smyrna and greek defeat) stopped this trend and caused a return to tradition in main. But not in USA emmigration as key lay and ecclesiastical leaders enforced it.
      But the sad thing is there is much in West we could have and can learn from, and tradition of art and music ( gregorian chant, acapella polyphony, Slav tradition etc) we could have used and worked with even. But they want on in outward CONFORMITY TO 19C BOURGOISE CONFORMITY, and inward intellectual slavery.
      And in 21St c America when this episcopalian Christianity is dying the death, they are caught in Cross fire. I believe the GOA has seen as many testify here, a return to tradition, inwardly and outwardly over the last decades. Hopefully thst will go along.g with Orthodox church consciousness and the bravery to have one american english worshipping Orthodox church.
      This can be granted by the mother church of America which is the Church of Russia.
      I am Greek so i can say let any Greeks here jump up and down in ignorant tantrum but the founding Church in the american continent is that Russia.
      If we were not regarding them as schismatics it would of course be the Church of Rome via the spanish church. But failing that one, the Orthodox church of Russia.

      • To make clear that the american continent was missionary terrirory of the Russian Orthodox church by the founding of their diocese of Aleutians and Alaska, with it’s see moved to San Francisco initially. This was acknowledged and understood even with all the anti Slav, anti -bulgarian greek sentiment, right up to 1917 and the chaos that followed.
        One should read the story of St martyr Tikhon and his time as bishop in America. And cry at opportunity lost.

    • r j klancko says

      So what is wrong with pews and collars this is 2019 not 1019. The externalities are not the issue,,, it is the internalities,,, I have met too many with cassocks, long beards, and accents playing cleric,,,hung up on the garb of days long gone and not on christian ministry. We need to focus on what is needed to be a christian and not externalities that have little to do with true faith

      • I have broad experienced both Pew and no pew. Pews (or cluttering the church wit chairs , benches, etc…) are an impediment to experincing the fullness of the faith. The question is why do you think protestant reformation praxis is acceptable in The Church?

        • Deep Blue Washington says

          Pews? Those awful things that not only encumber movement, but provide hymnals and pencils to toddlers at eye level? They make having kids in church twice as hard……which might be why so few do……

          • You hit the nail on the head. I run into people conviced pews are essential to keeping kids in check. Really? Cause I end up chasing mine through what ends up being a ready made obsticale course for anyone north of two feet tall. Give me an open space where they can do a few circles any day.

        • Exactly. Dan u got it in one. It’s not about days long gone etc etc but about why is a protestant expression of worship from 19c that destroyed the freedom and integrety of Orthodox worship seen as THE DESIRED NORM.
          They don’t understand what they have lost. They get offended when it’s pointed out but me thinks they protest too much.
          Outward expression is not divorced from an inward reality and has nothing to do with particular cultures. Setting up straw Men who were hooked on beards and robes is a false dichotomy. After all there are those hooked on collars and suits!!
          For the record I would like all the clerical head gear and different coloured gowns ( i am not relating to the vestments of worship) done away with and a simplicity brought to the Church. I long to see episcopal crowns banished to the museum. The only Crown Christ wore was of thorns.

          • Nikos, re your statement about banishing episcopal crowns, is it important at all to this matter that the Church acknowledges both the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ the King?

            • Michael Bauman says

              Steven, I could be entirely wrong but my understanding is that the crown is a left over from the days of the Empire. Originally the only crown worn in the altar was the Emperor’s. When he attended the Divine Liturgy he could do so in the altar. When there was no more emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople was the head of the Christian Rum in the Ottoman Empire, the crown passed to the Patriarch and then down to other bishops. No doubt it was and is justified in the terms you express however. Indeed there are a number of “traditional” dress items that come from the time of the Ottoman Yoke that were used so that the Turks could instantly recognize Christian leaders.

              In case I am wrong, I would appreciate it if someone more knowledgeable would correct me. But, if I am correct there is no theological basis for bishops wearing the crown. Keep in mind that before legalization, the bishops were sought out especially for arrest, trial and execution–special targets for martyrdom. I think Nikos is spot on here

              What happens if the Church is once again forced into the catacombs?

              • Interesting. Thanks!

              • Matthew Panchisin says

                Dear Michael,

                You don’t really think the Orthodox Church is doing something liturgically that you see no theological basis in considering the Emperor’s legacy for posterity as significant enough for removal or museum
                relegation without acquiescence in ideas from others and Nikos.

                What are your thoughts regarding the icons of Christ, the Theotokas and the Saints on the Bishops’ crown relative to there being no theological basis for bishops wearing the crown from your perspective?

                Should iconographers never paint crowns and begin to remove them on existing icons including the Bishops and mitred Priests in our midst?

                Steven, from a theological perspective Michael is entirely wrong, to say the least.

                • Friend that is over thinking. Of course crowns should not be removed from icons etc but for human beings, even icons of Christ as bishop meant to be , i simply say it’s a matter of humility. We are not worthy. And its not ‘a look’ if you want to be current that gives the message of humility. But again as with the late bishop Anthony Bloom in Uk. It looked ENTIRELY natural because he lived inwardly and outwardly a spiritual life. And on other bishops I have seen. @But on others it looks a bad Theatre prop!!!
                  Again one of the most devoted, dedicated clergy I met in USA was fr Jim Lokris from Bay ridge Parish, NY. He had dedicated his life to Christ and the Church. He was clean shaven, and u know my feelings on this, but when we parted after a meal in greek dinner, I kissed his hand and said he was more a priest than many with beard to their knees.!! And u know my views by now.!!
                  It’s not the beard, NOR THE SHAVEN FACE, OR THE CROWN but in each case something deeper, spiritual.

              • You correct re crowns and emperor. Yes of course the Reserrection, but Orthodox clerical robes express that already.
                On aesthetic note. FEW LOOK dignified wearing a Crown and some business Men types look stupid.
                Funny enough it’s the photos of future saints or ascetic bishops on whom yes ‘ for the Reserrection’ seems apt. But in general I would like, in non protestant sense, a simplicity. It just seems jarring for today. Same with all the pompous titles and faux humble address. On me it jars big time. For good reason I believe.

              • Michael Bauman: “I could be entirely wrong but my understanding is that the crown is a left over from the days of the Empire. Originally the only crown worn in the altar was the Emperor’s.”

                Sources? Why bishops (including non-Orthodox) in the lands outside of Empire had and have mitras?

                That the mitra’s shape and appearance among Orthodox resemble head-gear of high state officials is another matter. Same with ceremonial dresses, but how could be otherwise? The design were common and normal, the same applies to the architecture, music and painting, etc …

                • Yes exactly. Every thing comes out of a Culture and the Church over time will distinguish between what is deep and meaningful and what is not, for worship and life of the Church.

      • Friend dog collars and clerical suits and a clean shave are as much a statements, and a old fashioned 19th century protestant one, as anything else. Do you not see that?
        Yes agree ENTIRELY, as the greek saying goes, ‘ The rason ( robe) does not make a priest ‘ and I am not hung up on it NOR ON DOG COLLARS AND CLERICAL UNDERTAKER SUITS either, , ARE YOU?? ?
        Indeed i am happy for clergy to wear normal dress as most western clergy in Europe do now, outside of church and often here in Bulgaria our own . But I remind you that in communist Russia clergy died refusing to remove their robe or be shaved as comented upon by fr Alexander Elchaninov ( Paris) diary of a Russian priest who said without his robe his priesthood is lessened and as the late surgeon bishop Anthony Bloom in Uk.
        And yes covered in hair does not make a priest, nor being shaved either by the way.
        And one is not talking about for Parish married clergy, a hermit’s beard, but a normal full trimed beard you might see on any fashionable young guy currently and which is how bulgarian clergy are, where i live.
        And this as with acapella worship is simply the living tradition of the Church for good theogical reasons and I might add more aesthetically pleasing as many non Orthodox comment when attending say a Russian liturgy.
        I have to say I am getting tired and irritated having to constantly defend the tradition of the Church ( not the extremes) against some american Orthodox who seem not to have a deeper understanding of it. But I will for as long as they need reminding and ask them what is it about dog collars, old fashioned clerical garb and business man faces do they seem hooked on? They seem to have a problem .
        Even as a look, not for attracting the young!!
        But it is deeper than this and should not need explaining and I as an Orthodox am not ASHAMED to witness to the tradition of the Church.
        Yes you are right, we face a challenge and a crisis but excuse me, but dog collars, 19th century old fashioned clerical suits and a razor blade do NOTHING towards working to move things on, nor destruction in a BANAL kitsch way, the 2000 yr old worshipping tradition of the Church.
        Should i really be needing to repeat this?.
        Irritated responses towards me leave me wondering what sensitive spot I hit. Thank You

        • Monk James Silver says

          Over a century ago, when the Russian Orthodox Church’s North American Mission (Russian Metropolia) expanded from Alaska into the ‘lower 48’, the clergy — including the bishops — were instructed to dress as ‘American gentlemen’.

          This included their being clean-shaven and wearing business suits. As it turned out, that was a failed experiment in cultural relations, and it changed.

          Even so, some of the men who complied with this directive are now recognized as saints, especially Fr John Kochurov, who let his hair and beard grow again after he returned from Chicago to Russia, and is now revered as the first priest-martyr of the Bolshevik revolution.

          • r j klancko says

            How is failed quantified? Some of tthe best orthodox clergy I have known were/ are clean shaven. A beard does not make you holy or holiet some of the mat arrogant clergy I have met are Rasputin look alikes. We need to stop being so self rightous

            • I agree. . I have already said it’s not about hair worship or shaven face worship because that is an attitude too you know!! . I have experienced bearded clergy who are Holy. So what does that prove?
              It’s not about an either or, or about personal atributes.
              In communist times in Russia only clergy who did not look as clergy could gain entrance to hospitals etc to minister to sick. But thst no arguement for shaving or not.
              The late bishop and doctor surgeon Anthony Bloom was clean shaven till he was made a bishop. It is about the 2000 tradition of the Church and yes I AGREE ENTIRELY there are some converts and clergy who think being covered in hair is it! I am not refering to them but to the moderate tradition of a bearded clergy with normal beards where possible. End of.

      • It’s not the “externalities” but the spirit behind them. It was a conscious effort to do away with the traditional form of worship and become something entirely new and foreign to the Orthodox Church. This is not a cassock versus collar argument.

      • Michael Bauman says

        There is no “inward-outward” dichotomy. Presenting such a dichotomy is a clear indication that the issues are not understood.

        • Yes there is. How we are outwardly expresses how we are inwardly( Fr Alexander Elchaninov) and re the theme being discussed I recall an excellent greek priest, who was in Chicago for ten yrs and was clean shaven there as demanded by bishop!! etc. HE said when he left USA to go to Uk and stopped shaving, he felt his priesthood return. If you are not a priest you cannot comment on that. . And he was a very non traditional priest often in jeans and tea shirt. But a dedicated man full of love and zeal, let alone a magnificent voice and liturgical skills.

          I am just continually surprised why an issue that is not in contention in sensible way in Europe, Australia, Africa etc, causes such sensitive reaction and why you love big clerical collars and rest.
          As Fr Vassili said re dog collars ‘ I’m not a dog’ I am also against all our pompous wearing of different coloured hats and rest. All required is a simple rason, or failing that normal clothes WITH A CROSS and the normal beard ones sees now in everybody life .
          Can we now move on to discuss other issues please BUT I WILL never tire in defending the lived 2000 years tradition of the Church. And as an aside, how many beard western clergy do i see today? Many.

  5. Interesting…

    “The present leaders of the Church remember that it was he [Philaret] who found you, herding cows and geese, brought you to the top of the church life, gave you all the blessings of both spiritual and material. He made you bishops, gave you dioceses, expensive cars, precious panagias, crosses, miter, magnificent vestments, expensive telephones, money. You, apparently, in self-conceit, took all this for granted.”

    • Monk James exactly. They were thinking they had to confirm to a particular western Culture of the time. That did not make it right. As happens I have just had an icon of fr Kochurov painted for me. Some of the first priest martyrs in Russia were clergy from USA. The same attitude prevailed also in the uniate areas of Ukraine although today I notice how more and more uniate clergy look Orthodox!!!.
      Out of the twins evil I would for sooner see a shaven face than a harmonium.
      But we have moved on from that facile understanding have we not.

  6. Putan Rasputin says
  7. George, on the “umbrella” issue of B.,
    I understood from Nicos he did not know about the event in Atlanta and the present given, and I posted a first link, not a very clear one, with Greek sub-titles.
    I have now found the following link which is a clearer video of the whole event and I think it is useful here as background info.
    For the present given by B., please watch from 32:15.

  8. Joseph Lipper says

    Will Constantinople Be the Capital of Greece in 2020?

    “Most noteworthy of these predictions is one attributed to the late Elder Sophrony of Essex, of whom it is said many in his circle have reported him saying, ‘Keep at the Prayer, many shocking events are coming. There will be an administration of the City [Constantinople] by three commissioners, one European, one Russian, and one Greek, but after this a king will be nominated. In 2020 the capital of Greece will be Constantinople.”


  9. My final comment on this american hang up on beards etc is that the living church revisionist clergy were known as ‘ clipped’ due to their short hair and token or even no beard. Just about says it all.

    And yet there were clergy in USSR clean shaven etc who were able to give the sacraments without attention in hospital etc who were dedicated heroic clergy. So u see CONTEXT is all. This is illustrated in the recent Russian film ‘BURNT WITH THE SUN
    and in a comment in the small but powerful book by. Joseph Fudel, the son of the 1920s Moscow priest martyr, who although lay man spent many years in Gulag.