Who is the Guarantor of American Autocephaly?

“The Orthodox Church in America is autocephalous not in order to be self-sufficient and isolated, but in order to be in living communion and close contact with all Orthodox Churches…The OCA received autocephaly not in order to be the master of Orthodox unity in America but in order to be a servant to this unity.” —Archbishop +Dmitri (Royster), “On the Occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Patriarchate,” (given at Holy Trinity-St Sergius Monastery, 1978).

Recently, the press reported that most of the bishops of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America applied for and received Turkish citizenship. It is believed that bishops throughout the Greek diaspora in England, Europe, and Australia did so as well.

This, of course, is an internal matter for the See of Constantinople, which claims universal jurisdiction over the Greek-speaking peoples of the world. This sentiment is an arguable position, as is the entire concept of the so-called Diaspora. Yet it raises important questions about the Episcopal Assemblies and the future of Orthodoxy in America.

The existence of dispersed churches based on ethnicity rather than nationality is one of the driving forces behind the creation of the new regional Episcopal Assemblies. To this end it was decided that all of the canonically recognized bishops would have to recognize each other and meet on a regular basis with an eye towards “regularizing” ecclesiastical life within their respective regions. All canonical bishops would have to meet at least once a year to discuss topics of concern particular to their region. Although falling short of an actual Holy Synod, these Episcopal Assemblies were to be more than debating societies. Each jurisdiction would have one vote regardless of their number of bishops that enabled full executive and/or legislative authority in the Assembly.

Granting Turkish citizenship to the Greek bishops by Constantinople may just throw a wrench into the works. It undermines the mutual accountability that is necessary for the normalizing of relations between the various jurisdictions and ultimately their unification.

How so? One stated purpose of the Assembly was to “order” ecclesial life. While not making the various ethnic eparchies completely accountable to each other (as they would be if they were coalesced into an authentic Holy Synod), such a body would enable them at least discuss issues that affected all of them, particularly areas of contention in the past. Decisions such as where to build missions, open monasteries, charities to support, and so forth would no longer be made unilaterally. The ideal of a true local Church would be the lodestar for all debate.

So what does the granting of Turkish citizenship for the bishops of the GOA mean for the North American Episcopal Assemblies? A case can be made that Hellenic subjugation to the Turkish state would extend Turkish control over the entire American Orthodox Church as well.

  • First, it makes trans-jurisdictional unity all but impossible. It is doubtful that the Serbians, who have their own memories of Turkish oppression, are going to willingly unite under a larger Orthodox presence whose bishops are Turkish citizens. This is probably the case for the two Russian eparchies in America as well (although for different reasons). And of course it is ridiculous to expect bishops of Anglo-American descent to view foreign citizenship as anything less than scandalous.
  • Second, it creates a permanently segregated ethnic bloc of superordinands who are given a unique privelege not available to all of the other non-Greek bishops in North America. The only way around this ethnic segregation would be for the Turkish government to offer Turkish citizenship to all Orthodox bishops in America, regardless of their ethnic background.
  • Third, it would effectively destroy any chance for autocephaly, especially if the second scenario were in play. This would definately be the case if certain American bishops used Turkish citizenship as a stepping stone to “higher” office. If the first scenario were the reality (only Greek-descended bishops were given this opportunity), then a permanent caste system would be created in any trans-jurisdictional American Orthodox Church (even a “maximally autonomous” one). In either case, the concept of autocephaly would be all but impossible.

So what is to be done?

The Holy Synod of the OCA is presently embroiled in a scandal in which some have tried to unseat their primate. The primary reason appears to be that has he has not as stalwart as they regarding the issue of the OCA’s autocephaly. As such, it is incumbent upon the OCA’s bishops to demand that for the good order of the Church in North America, that the GOA bishops refuse all such offers. Otherwise, the non-GOA bishops should demand an accounting from their Greek brethren how their permanent subjugation to the Phanar will not serve as an impediment to their joining an autocephalous American Orthodox Church.

The good order of the Church not only demands that this offer be discussed openly and candidly by the confreres at the next Episcopal Assembly, but that it be brought up to a vote and firmly rejected. And since the OCA’s stated purpose is to serve as the “servant” of American autocephaly, it means that it is the guarantor of it as well. This cannot be stressed enough: a GOA which is permanently segregated from the other Orthodox presences in America by reasons of blood and permanently subjugated to the See of Constantinople, makes any further attempts to expand autocephaly impossible.

On a local note, it would be good if those few bishops who are waging a proxy war through surrogates against Metropolitan Jonah to cease and desist in order to concentrate their energies on real threats.

About GShep


  1. When someone has time to explain — after Pascha, of course — how this genuinely impacts the U.S. church, I would appreciate the shared thoughts. In that the United States government does NOT recognize dual citizenship for any of its people, this definitely appears, at first glance, to be a non-issue. No U.S.-based Orthodox bishop would be obligated to recognize, or take into account, dual citizenship. Sure, my children have dual-citizenship, from the perspective of the Greek government; however, this factoid never will, or even can, affect their life here in this country.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Antonia, dual citizenship, whether recognized by the US or not, is not the primary issue here. Instead, it speaks to the heart of the man. First, how can one man serve two masters? He can’t. Second, it’s uncanonical and unScriptural on its face. The first Apostolic Canon states that the ecclesial model must follow the secular model. Both Ss Paul and Peter wrote that we have to be loyal to the local governor (and remembers, they wrote these words when the local governors were hostile to the Church). Third, the granting of special priveleges based on blood direcctly violates the Pauline prohibitions against racialism (and of course the Council of Constantinople’s edict in 1872).

      I’m sure i could think of other scenarios as well which speak against such a scandalous precedent, but unless someone can see there way out of/through/over this massive stumbling block to unity and autocephaly, I’m stumped.

      Of course for me as a Hellene, the fact that the First Among Equals in Orthodoxy is chosen by a carefully selected pool of Turkish citizens is personally the most galling aspect of all. Question: in the Litanies of the Churches in Istanbul, which governmental head does the EP commemorate?

      • Nick Katich says


        You said “The first Apostolic Canon states that the ecclesial model must follow the secular model”. There is no such canon that I am aware of. So, what are you referring to? The first Apostolic Canon, by the way, says: “Let a bishop be ordained by two or three bishops”.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Nick, sloppy of me. Thanks for bringing this up. I will find the requisite canon which states that. For the time being, please refer to Alfeyev’s brilliant essay:

          One City, One Bishop, One Church — Part I

          • Nick Katich says


            There is no canon on the subject. A clear read of Hilarion’s essay indicates that it was an evolved custom — but not written in stone. The principle can, in some cases, be used as a guide. But, the principle should never become “normative”. If it did, then the Russian Orthodox Church would have no claim to the Ukraine, Moldova, Estonia, Japan, etc. Likewise, the Serbian Church would have no claim to Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, etc.

            Because of the rise of the “nation-state” post Westphalia, I submit it is a dangerous principle now. The emergence of the “nation-state” with its attendant rise of “nationalism” is why the Church has morphed into phyletism.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Ni ck, I must respectfully disagree. It is Scriptural that all Christians living in the polity must owe their allegiance to the secular authority. This means not only taxes, but serving the State as well. If I, as a layman, are called upon to do so by the simple fact that I am a Christian, then how can my bishop do any less? Is he less a Christian than me?

              The nation-state that came out of Westphalia is not anti-Scriptural, because nations are part of God’s plan of salvation. We see this in Jeremiah where he exhorts the Jewish captives of Babylon that they are now to e mbrace this new nation as their own. (And remember, Babylon was pretty wicked.)

              The ethos that is being put out by the neo-papalists at the defunct Byzantine court, that Church membership transcends political allegiances is too clever by half. For example, Lambrianides likes to go all ga-ga about the Byzantine Empire and how it was a multi-cultural affair. It was. It was also a nation, with set laws, boundaries, customs, primary language, etc. In that sense, it was no different than the Russian Empire or modern America for that matter.

              To somehow take this premise and expand it to the claims of the neo-papalists that a foreign bishop should have universal jurisdiction is illogical.

              As for the danger of phyletism, it is there, without question. And a case could certainly be made that the problems in America are the direct result of ethno-tribal churches. There is a simple way to solve this problem however: for the autocephalous churches to recognize the legal boundaries of nations and tell their immigrants that should they choose to live there, they must abide by the laws of that nation and join its native church.

              • Nick Katich says


                You said:

                “It is Scriptural that all Christians living in the polity must owe their allegiance to the secular authority. This means not only taxes, but serving the State as well. If I, as a layman, are called upon to do so by the simple fact that I am a Christian, then how can my bishop do any less? Is he less a Christian than me?”

                Is that why the Prophet Elijah was so loyal and obedient to Ahab and Jezeebel, as one of many examples?

                You are wrong on this one, George. Christ said render the coin unto Caesar because Caesar’s picture was on it which meant it was Caesar’s coin. He did not say to render allegience to Caesar.

                Any scriptural reference you can find, whether Jeremiah or Paul had to do with matters of survival and not matters of obedience.

                Nation states are not part of God’s plan for salvation. Only One is part of God’s plan for salvation: My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Nothing more and nothing less. It is that simple.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Nick,, just because we are called to be obedient to the King doesn’t mean that we can’t reproove him. That’s what Elijah did. Note that Elijah did not say that Israel should have no king. Jesus told the people to “listen to the Pharisees for they sit in Moses’s seat,” even though they were egregious hypocrites. Etc. Clearly, the cosmos is not only gendered into male and female, but into hierarchies as well.

                  When I say that nation-states are part of God’s plan for salvation, I do not mean to say that Christ’s atoning work on the Cross is not or that Jesus is not my Lord, God and Saviour. Far from it. I merely say that is because nations are part of the created order and that is in on this plane of existence that we work out our salvation.

                  As St John of Damascus said about the Iconoclasts:

                  “I do not venerate matter, I venerate the fashioner of matter, who becaume matter for my sake and accepted to dwell in matter and through matter worked my salvation, and I will not cease from reverencing matter, through which my salvation was worked.” (“Three Treatises on the Divine Images”)

                  The Christian Church from ancient times decried anarchy. The only way short of the Eschaton that we can even hope to prevent anarchy in our daily lives would be to uphold the concept of the nation-state. Otherwise, we would have to believe in imperialism and embark on a mad attempt to conquer the entire world and make it our polity.

  2. The Holy Synod of the OCA is presently embroiled in a scandal in which some have tried to unseat their primate. The primary reason appears to be that has he has not as stalwart as they regarding the issue of the OCA’s autocephaly. As such, it is incumbent upon the OCA’s bishops to demand that for the good order of the Church in North America, that the GOA bishops refuse all such offers. Otherwise, the non-GOA bishops should demand an accounting from their Greek brethren how their permanent subjugation to the Phanar will not serve as an impediment to their joining an autocephalous American Orthodox Church.

    Huh? This makes no sense. Does “offers” refer to offers of Turkish citizenship or offers to give away OCA autocephaly? It’s incumbent on the bishops of the Orthodox Church in America to demand that bishops in the Greek Archdiocese refuse offers [of Turkish citizenship?]? But those same OCA bishops can’t bring pressure to bear on their own primate to stop trying to give away the OCA’s autocephaly (whatever one defines it to be) in the first place?

    On a local note, it would be good if those few bishops who are waging a proxy war through surrogates against Metropolitan Jonah to cease and desist in order to concentrate their energies on real threats.

    What evidence is there of a “proxy war”? And, really, all external observations point to the Metropolitan bearing sole responsibility for the OCA’s weakened position against these “real threats.”

    • Please, could you expand upon “all external observations”?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Fr Basil, the “offers” I was mentioning had to do with offers of Turkish citizenship to American bishops. I thought that that was clear in the text, if not, please allow me to make this clearer.

      On the other hand, if such an offer is legitimate, then why can’t other “offers” be viewed as legitimate as well? Why not Serbian-Americans being offered Serbian citizenship, in order to make them eligible for election to the Serbian patriarchal office? And if we go down this road, OCA bishops being offered Russian citizenship?

      What in fact is the difference between taking out foreign citizenship and surrendering our autocephaly?

      If nothing else, this is all food for thought at the next EA.

      • George:
        It sounds to me like Fr. Biberdof wants to use your above post to postulate more reasons to oppose +Jonah as Metropolitan of the OCA.
        Also, when he says:

        the Metropolitan bearing sole responsibility for the OCA’s weakened position

        it reminds me a great deal of Stokoe’s comment: “the only problem is the man in the white hat” which of course was pure “Stokoeese.”

        • And without convincing backup. If it’s true, state facts with backup documentation, not opinion. If it’s opinion, use words like, “In my opinion,” “I believe, “I think this is true based on this,” etc. Otherwise it comes across as manipulative, biased, and having an agenda behind the scenes. That drives me nuts.

          • Father Basil,

            I’m apologize for sounding terse. It wasn’t meant to be directed at you.

        • I’m not opposing Metropolitan Jonah as the OCA’s primate.

          With regard to the OCA’s weakened position, I should clarify that the decades of corruption under Metropolitans Theodosius and Herman (which I’ve recently been recalling through the fresh reading of the SC and SIC reports from 2008) had plenty to do with it also. More recently, however, I don’t recall other OCA hierarchs kicking so much sand in the faces of bishops of other jurisdictions. (Nor should they, considering that privilege is significantly reserved to the primate, cf. OCA Statute, Article IV, Section 1.)

          • George Michalopulos says

            Fr Basil, I don’t recall HB doing what you say either. If anything, he has bent over backwards to accommodate the bishops of the other jursidctions. Too much so for my tastes. I personally think that the entire HS of the OCA should have gotten up and walked out of the first EA. But that’s just me.

      • Thanks for your clarification, George.

        The critical thing in the offer of Turkish citizenship is that only Turkish citizens can become the Ecumenical Patriarch (at least as long as it’s physically located in Istanbul), right? You’re likely correct that this is exercise of power on the part of the Turkish government. In general, the Orthodox politics of the Old World are all distasteful in various ways.

        However, I’m not sure how, in the current context, it’s appropriate for the OCA Holy Synod to exhort their GOA brethren to reject such citizenship for the sake of an autocephalous church in North America, while the same Holy Synod is being publicly flogged for, as near as anyone can tell, exhorting their own primate to take (or not take) actions in support of the same.

        To be clear, I view the current scandal as largely a Synodal matter (regardless of whatever personal opinions I or anyone else holds about it), but it appears that our relations with other Orthodox jurisdictions are a major point of contention among the OCA bishops. Just compare the statement on autocephaly released in December 2010 (http://www.oca.org/news/2340), which praises the Ecumenical Patriarch for beginning the episcopal assemblies, with Metropolitan Jonah’s (in)famous Sunday of Orthodoxy sermon from 2009 and with Metropolitan Jonah’s comments on autocephaly since that sermon. What explains these developments?

        • George Michalopulos says

          Fr, I think we can all agree that HB mishandled some situations and caused some of the dissension within the HS. I think we can all agree as well that he has had to navigate some treacherous shoals vis-a-vis the Old World. It’s really an untenable position he was thrust into, much of it made more serious by his two predecessors, but also because we have been living with the bitter fruits of disunity in this country since 1920.

          Personally, I think the EA is only going to exacerbate this disunity. As such, I think it is incumbent upon the OCA to tell the other bishops to “get on board.” Let’s not forget, HB has kindly offered this suggestion on more than one occasion, so he can’t be faulted for being squishy IMHO. Believe me, when I heard his famous Dallas 2009 speech, I hooped and hollered and gave a Rebel Yell. It was wonderful!

          I guess as far as the GOA is concerned, it’g going to have to take another major scandal which will wipe the coffers clean before the Phanar lets them go.

          • Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen!

            Imagine being one of the faithful or serving clergy from those other jurisdictions who had to stand there in silence while the Metropolitan slammed their hierarchs. If it did anything to help the larger issue of jurisdictional unity (which I find doubtful), I can’t see how it did anything but hurt local unity. The place for such words was not in a “sermon” for the Sunday of Orthodoxy.

            “We must not retaliate against the innocent, use unscrupulous tactics or kill unsuspecting or trapped enemies. We must be fierce in the eyes of all we seek to influence, yet the use of unnecessary terror is ignoble.

            A nation of one ancestry and race is weak. We must hold strong our custom of welcoming all foreigners who seek to join our cause, treating them with dignity and respect and teaching them our language and customs.” — Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, by Wess Roberts.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Fr Basil, indeed He is Risen!

              Please clarify for me that time when HB “slammed” the other hierarchs. If he did so, it would indeed be unfortunate. Not unforgivable though –it could be chalked up to rookie mistakes. Consider how many times +Philip has derided the other jurisdictions and said scabrous things like telling a Serbian bishop that his clerical garb was Turkish in origin.

              As to your other point, about the quotations from Attila the Hun, I actually agree with the words stated (if you were not being tongue-in-cheek) despite the man who said them. As I read them, it seems to be a stern warning against multiculturalism, which is always the death of a nation.

              • Chris Plourde says

                As I read them, it seems to be a stern warning against multiculturalism, which is always the death of a nation.

                We have Orthodox Christians who are Russians and those who are Egyptians, those who are Serbian and those who are Syrian, those who are Greek and those who are American. Bishop Kallistos is British.

                If that’s not “multiculturalism” what is? The music in the Antiochian Church is different from the Greek, which is different from the Russian. Some places have pews, others eschew them. Surely you know this. Surely you don’t go to a Greek church’s festival hoping to find perogi, or to a Russian church’s festival hoping to find moussaka.

                If the Orthodox Church should not be multicultural, what one culture would you have us all adopt?

                • Chris, the foundational values of “Orthodox multiculturalism” are the same, the cultural expressions of those values differ in style (not substance). Secular multiculturalism relativizes the foundational values.

                  • Chris Plourde says

                    I understand the concept, Fr., but it seems to me that perhaps we differ in understanding of the “foundational values” of secular culture in general and American secular culture in particular.

                    It is the nature of secular culture to be about money. No matter what politicians say, one can always predict what they will do by following the money.

                    The foundations of secular culture are, in fact, more threatened by Orthodox Christian culture than by secular multiculturalism. And vice-versa, I might add.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Secular multi-culturalism is derived from the principal idea that Anglo-Saxon western culture is evil but every other culture is morally equivalent.

                  Like it or not, if the Orthodox Church is to penetrate here in the United States it must also baptise the Anglo-Saxon culture which will be dominate for a few more decades at least. The alternative is to skip the Anglos and go for the Hispanic and/or Muslim immigrants. That will also ignore many Afro-Americans.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Chris, please re-read what I said: it is the “death of a nation.” The last thing I want is a “one-size-fits-all” worldwide Orthodoxy. I was speaking about the destruction of the American nation because of multiculturalism. Huge difference.

                  My devotion to the concept of the nation-state is that is should be as mono-cultural as possible. Look at what’s happened to Yugoslavia. There’s no way that so many different cultures can cohere peacably in the borders of one nation. In fact, it’s positively suicidal. As proud as I am of my Hellenic culture, I would never want to impose it on this lovely country which took my people in and granted them a decent life.

                  • Chris Plourde says

                    It’s interesting because I see this very differently. To me the only two populations in America that have had the time and history to develop a Yugoslav opposition to each other are found in a white/black divide thanks to slavery, and a white/native tribe divide thanks to our manifest destiny to drive them into reservations.

                    Everyone else starts pretty much in the same place, as immigrants, with pretty much the same interests, to make a more prosperous life than was possible “back home.” And no-one else has the history of hostility to each other on these shores that would cause someone to stake out, say, Tulsa OK, as “their city” in opposition to, say Cincinnati, OH.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I see your point. But the rapid Latinization of some parts of America is leading to outrigh violence as we speak. In certain cities of California, blacks have been murdered by Hispanic gangs who have no feelings of “white guilt” and in fact great contempt for black people in general.

                      Also, the Ruling Class has allowed them to espouse racialism. What do you think “La Raza” means? Would it be OK with you if the Anglo-Germaninc base of the American population started a group called “The Aryan Nation” to preserve their culture? If not, why not? What’s the difference?

                    • Chris Plourde says

                      When my maternal grandmother was born in Los Angeles in the late 1800s it was normative for white people to learn Spanish in order to do business with the Mexican 1/2 of the population. What happened during her lifetime was a rapid de-Latinization of California, followed by a re-Latinization. She (Irish, mostly) spoke an Angeleno form of Spanish, but it was comprehendible up to her 99th birthday.

                      (I might add, de-Latinization occurred post-WWII, re-Latinization occurred post-Vietnam, those midwesterners who came to the CA suburbs never considered that other people had actually been here before them….)

                      And the Aryan Nations are now one of the largest prison gangs here in California…

                      But look: Multiculturalism in America is about giving everyone access to the money, honey, because it’s money that matters. The Buddhists here don’t really care if the Latins make money, so long as they do, too. The Korean Christians don’t care if the Jews make money, so long as they do, too. Time/Warner couldn’t care less if its chairman is black or white, so long as they’re making money.

                      And gangs are money-making organizations that don’t abide by the laws of society, whether they’re Irish or Italian, Jewish or Black, Asian or Latin. The difference between the guys on Wall Street and the guys in the street isn’t all that great. They’re all after the same thing, but one figured out its easier to steal if the “regulators” are covering for you…

  3. Michael Bauman says

    George, you thinking and writing seems more than a bit muddled on this topic.

    Turkey has a law which forbids anyone who is not a Turkish citizen from being Patriarch or to serve on the Synod. Turkey only recognizes the EP as a minor dhimmi official within Turkey who has no authority outside of Turkey.

    Patriarch Bartholomew did appoint a couple of non-Turkish citizens to the Synod a few years ago and got the Turkish government upset by doing so.

    The choices are pretty clear: stand up as a Christian to the dhimmi rules and suffer the consequences or knukle under and suffer the consequences. From a wordly stand point, there are no good choices in this.

    Five and a half centuries of dhimmitude has so truncated the vision of the Patriarchal throne (whoever is on it) that they simply don’t see any other choice except that offered by their dhimmi masters.

    Here’s the real rub. I’m beginning to think there is no Orthodox Church in America–just dhimmi outposts. Main evidence: outside of the OCA (and not everywhere in the OCA) where are there 100% English Liturgies? Every other language, including Spanish, but no 100% English. I’m forced to the conclusion that the Church simply does not care about us, except for the money. The leaders don’t want to be here really; don’t care about this country (even if they are born here); and just want to milk the people for our money to support the dhimmi encrusted ‘leaders’ back home.

    I’m in an Antiochian parish in the middle of the US that was founded by folks running from Islamic pogroms in Syria and Lebanon. They spoke Arabic. We are on the third-fourth generation now, there is no one in our parish whose primary or original language is Arabic (or very few); yet a good 30% of the Liturgy is in Arabic with a bit of Greek thrown in here and there to boot. The amount of Arabic seems to be growing. Not necessary for any reason except at Pascha and Agape Vespers. We even have an occasional Saturday Liturgy that is billed as all Arabic, but no all English ones. Arabic is the offical language of the Patriarchate–no offical English translations of rulings from the Synod, because, it seems, no one in the entire Patriarchate can be found who can give an accurate translation into that foul and barbarian tounge, English.

    The myth of the diaspora lives on and is used to punish and trivialize Americans who are not Arabic, Slavic or Greek. Bishops becoming Turkish citizen is just another stab in the back to ever allowing the Church here to become a part of us and allowing us to become part of the Church. The native Hawaiians have a name for it: haouli. Just this side of the n word. The abuse of dhimmitude lives on and we are the dogs being kicked.

    The OCA? Hey, autochephally or not, it seems intent on self-destruction and to many people is simply beneath consideration.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Dear Michael:

      You have touched upon a subject that is very near and dear to my heart and that is: “Translating the Divine Liturgy into English and Translating our Bible into English!” English-Speaking Orthodox people have been in the English speaking world since, at least, the 17th Century, some even before that as there was a Greek Colony well-establsihed down in St. Augustine’s Florida during the 15th or 16th Century, and many of them later migrated north to Tarpon Springs, as well as the new in flux of Greek Sponge divers that came to Tarpon Springs, Florida. So the Question is? Why were our services, liturgy and Bible never translated into English?

      We had and still have all the people, facilities and tools at our disposal and yet no English translations. Why? In 1994 I went on Pilgramage to Jerusalen with my mom and heard about our Old Testament, THE SEPTUAGINT, for the first time. On my return to America I wanted to get an English copy of the Septuagint to read, especially one officially authorized for use in Orthodox Churches. Well none existed except for Brenton and Thompson, which were old and not authorized by the Church. Sooooo…in 1996 I started to translate the Septuagint myself. I have to leard Septuagint Greek, I then had to translate it into English, and then I had to use a Septuagint text recognized by the Church. 15 years later I have been slowly releasing THE HOLY ORTHODOX BIBLE with blemishes and all, with criticisms and all.

      Now here is the next question? WHY THE HELL DID I HAVE TO DO IT? excuse my language I’m a little touchy about this. Why didn’t the Church do it, any English Speaking Orthodox Church? Why not an Official English translation of the Divine Liturgy that ALL English-Speaking Orthodox Churches can use. Also, the English translation that we do have ARE NOT EVEN BEING USED!! WHY?

      You know all I can say is that he who controls the lanaguage controls the mind. The Catholics refused for centures to translate their Mass and Bible into English from the Latin until the Protestant reformation finally forced their had. This issue irks me so much that the famous quote from William Tyndale still sticks in my head” I would have the boy who driveth the plough know more of Scripture than the priest himself.” I think William was right and we English-Speaking Orthodox should listen.

      Just my 2 cents.

      Peter A. Papoutsis

      • Chris Plourde says

        This is a surprising assertion to me. The OCA has English only service books for every service, and we have a few flavors of English-only Orthodox Study Bibles. I’ve had one for over 20 years.

        Here in our parish about 60% of our services are English only, the balance being either Slavonic only or services that incorporate both.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Chris, the point is that there should only be a smattering of non-English services. English only services are still an anonomly everywhere BUT the OCA.

          When I first was coming into the Church an Arabic speaking Antiochian bishop came and celebrated liturgy at my parish–almost entirely in Arabic then gave a sermon about how important it was to have English services. Few in the parish even at that time had Arabic as their first language all but a couple were fluent in English as is the bishop.

          The reason that we don’t have them celebrate is simply.. The bishops don’t want to. They are still holding on to the ‘old country’ as the true Orthodox way, no matter what the ‘old country’ is. That seems to be true even of the best of them.

          The Greeks, by all accounts, are the most resistant to change because, well, they are GREEKS after all and everybody else isn’t. But the myth of the ‘old countries’ being so much more advanced, mature, and yes HOLY is just that–a myth. People were Holy in Russia, those that were not because they were Russian, but in spite of it, just like everywhere else throughout time. Same with the Syrian and Greek saints and yes, our American saints as well. I am sure there are far more American saints than the Church recognizes because, “well those poor barbarians just can’t possibly have any saints” attitude. We are too gosh, too protestant, too western, too material (while bishops live in palatial houses and have servants) and yes, too democratic.

          If the EA was acutally going to do anything, its first task would be to mandate English only liturgies except where 51% of the parish was native in another language and requests the non-English. Pascha and Agape Vespers being the only other normal exceptions.

          Until the bishops become serious about celebrating the divine Liturgy in the English language, I’m sorry, but they really don’t care about have the Church here in the US. They would rather continue to participate in an anachronistic antiquarian farce. The fact that Jesus gets through anyway has nothing to do with the bishops.

          Even in OCA and convert parishes I have visited there seems to be a compulsion to throw in a few non-English phrases here and there in an effort to be ‘more authentic’.

          We don’t have much of a real sense of living tradition because we are continually frustrated from developing it by traditionalists and now modernists. It has not be handed down to us. The Pharisees, as I recall, had their head handed to them for failing to go in and preventing anyone else from going in. Exactly what is happening now in the U.S. in the major jurisdictions while the OCA is fighting over the scraps.

          It is becoming increasingly likely, IMAO, that the offical Orthodox Church will crash and burn in this country-for all intents disappearing or becoming so much of a joke, folks will wish it to disappear. The real Orthodox faith will be kept alive in the homes of those who love the Church and love Jesus Christ. Those few who actually pray, give alms, and live a life of repentance. And yes, the prayers will be said in English as long as English remains a living language.

          I have little use for the theater-of-the-absurd that the Church is becoming.

          What I long for are real bishops doing their job as they are ordained to do–in service to their people not lording it over us as ‘the gentiles do’.

          • Of course we should mandate “English only.” Americans, on the whole, resist learning foreign languages and consider their own language superior to all others. (Sadly, this is my life experience, and accords with things often read about.) Compare us with residents of other countries.

            Sorry, but I don’t support “xenoglossaphobia” (to coin a word as absurd as is the concept).

            • Michael Bauman says

              Antonia, your comment is, to me, just another slap in the face at we gosh barbarians, the evil and worthless Americans. All we are good for is our money, gosh and barbarian as that is.

              For a people to worship, the language in which we, the community of God, are offering our prayers, our sins and our thanksgiving has to be understood. No matter how fluent one becomes, somethings don’t readily translate at the most personal and intimate level. To evangelize a people, one has to love the people. One cannot do that if one does not love the language and learn to use it in the most profound manner possible. It is a pastoral service. English is a beautiful language capable of great nuance in its own right from the most sensitive and exalted expressions of the human soul to expressions of great power and clarity. Not everyone can master it.

              For that reason there should be a priest to hear confessions in the native language of whomever is in the parish and those parishes who really need to have the services in a language other than English should have it. I wonder if you would find the same charity given Americans in the ‘old country’.

              You know that those who stand by the readers of the Epistles and the Gospel were, orginally, supposed to be guardians that what was being read was really from the Epistles or the Gospels. Of course, with the proponderance of young boys in that service now, it is not to be expected but how can we tell if what is being read is really correct if it is in another language. Where is it written that Greek or Slavonic (actually a version of Greek) or Arabic is a holy language? The Koran for Arabic, but where for we Christians. Pentecost specifically teaches that we are all to hear the good news each in our own language.

              Arabic is a great language to chant–awesomely beautiful at times, even if one does not understand.

              Greek is incredibly nuanced and expressive of theological truth in ways no other western language seems be able to match.

              Both languages have a important and continuing role to play in the Church as do all languages, including English. That does not mean we have to be held sway in a linguistic elitism that stiffles holiness and diminishes those who can or want to be part of the Church. I’m just a 63 year old Kansas boy who finds it difficult to communicate in one language with no appitude for learning others (I’ve tried Spanish, German and French–the only thing I remember are the exclamations of my teachers at my ineptitude). That, of course, makes me someone who is just a snob wanting to force my language on everyone else. I don’t follow that, but, hey maybe I am a redneck barbarian, simply too uncouth, and uneducatable to be considered a true member of the Church. You think?

              Not doing the sevice in the language of the people is profoundly un-Orthodox. .

              At best, it is just plain apathy, lethergy–at worst a way to maintain the money flow to which our bishops have become accustomed with no intent to allow us to become a full part of the Church.

              Besides the Antiochian Patriarchal Synod can apparently find no one who can learn English well enough to even let us know in our own language that our enthroned dioscesan bishops are merely assistants to the metropolitan. As a matter of fact, they can’t even find a word that means diocese in Arabic apparently. Hard to tell for sure since they won’t say in English and a veritable plethera of possible meanings of several diffent Arabic words are offered instead. Apparently they can’t even understand Arabic. Who is forcing who’s language on whom? Since only the Arabic proclamation is offical, those who don’t know Arabic don’t have anything to follow, do we. Any English translation is not binding.

              It is a matter of communication with we barbaian masses. Either they want to communicate, or they don’t. Obviously, they don’t. So why should we bother trying to listen, let alone obeying?

              I am tired of being condesended to by a bunch of folks with questionable morals and ethics so they can live large and feel important. If they are so holy and exalted, come down in the mud with me and teach me–raise me up. If all they want is to pass by on the other side (as it seems) at least pass on by and stop stealing my money as I lie, battered and beaten, in the the ditch.

              • I am American-born, of “American-mutt” composite heritage, with English as my native language. In age, I near yours. I believe that all languages are equally valid, both in the street and in the church. When I hear a smattering of a non-English language during the course of a church service, I happily am reminded that I am worshiping in spiritual solidarity with the entire Orthodox world. I can’t help it that people in other countries take learning a second or third language as a matter of course, whereas in the U.S. competency in a foreign language is regarded as something out of the ordinary. Nor can I help it that there really are people who consider English “superior” in some ineffable manner. (I am equally annoyed by people who allege — albeit with defensible arguments — that because linguistically, there can be no genuine translation of a text, but only a paraphrase which is accurate to a greater or lesser degree, Christians therefore are required to learn Biblical Greek in order to study the Holy Bible with any profit.) The Orthodox Church always has understood that worship should be in the language of the local people. My discomfort is with the recent, extremist “other pole” that the appearance of any word or phrase in a language other than English is demeaning, snobbish, and unjustifiable.

                I had no idea that linguistics was an incendiary topic for you, nor that you feel personally assaulted by, insulted by, and condescended to by people who simply happen to feel at ease when around foreign languages. I guess it’s fair to say that I was expressing my own exasperation with (to me, incomprehensible) hostility toward even a restricted appearance of a foreign language during church services.

                May your Pascha be blessed with rejoicing !

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Antonia, you misinterpret what I am saying based upon your own bias.

                  I had no idea that linguistics was an incendiary topic for you, nor that you feel personally assaulted by, insulted by, and condescended to by people who simply happen to feel at ease when around foreign languages. I guess it’s fair to say that I was expressing my own exasperation with (to me, incomprehensible) hostility toward even a restricted appearance of a foreign language during church services

                  . Can you please condescend to my ignorance and lack of culture even more. I must need it for my humility. Thanks.

                  My wife is fluent in three languages (two besides English), my sister-in-law is native Swiss and speaks and teaches German, the list goes on. Comfort is not the issue at all. What I am trying to say is that without the Divine Liturgy being wholly in English, the Church will fail to be fully incarnated in the United States. When I see decades of steady progress toward English being turned around for no good reason other than cultural hegemony, yea, I don’t like it.

                  What I am insulted by is the cultural arrogance that exists in the GOA and to an extent in the AOA and some of the Slavic jurisdictions that refuse to take English and the people who speak it seriously. There is a cultural eltitism that is intentionally and consistently unwelcoming. For instance, a good friend of mine who is a priest of Arabic descent, speaks Arabic quite well, the son of a priest was driven from a parish in Ohio and out of the AOA because he wasn’t Arabic enough–too Anglo you see. Had to have someone who was really Orthodox, eeeeh ARAB from the old country. Met. Philip being who Met. Philip is–guess who won.

                  Granting everything you say about the inadequacy of translations, the need to preserve and know the initial languages (actually impossible outside the culture they formed and were formed by, but hey it is all a guess anyway isn’t it?) that still has zero impact on the need to use the language of the people who are to be evangelized. The more evangelization ‘takes’, the more authentic Orthodox writing, songs, etc will be created in English and a lot of those ‘untranslateable words and phrases will be fully and completely expressed because they are coming from our heart, our soul and our language. The faith is no longer imposed but has become the living spring it is supposed to be. In this country, that will never happen in Arabic, Greek, or Slavonic no matter how beautiful they are in their own right.

                  (BTW the primary reason that people in the United States don’t learn other languages is geographic and, until recently demographic. We are geographically isolated from most sources of non-English languages and far less exposed than elsewhere in the world. While I grant that such isolation can become a culutral arrogance, to simply assert that is the one and only reason is fallacious.)

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Michael, there is a good reason for we Americans to be as stubbornly mono-lingual as well in that countries that advertise “diversity” and “multiculturalism” inevitably degenerate into bloodshed and violence.

            • Harry Coin says

              If the Greek in the Greek services was understood by Greeks, or the Arabic by living Arabs, or the Slavonic by those living in the various East-Europeans / West Asians .. There would be half a point.

              However, not even they understand it any more than English speakers can read Chaucer in the original.

              We need to stop drinking the kool-aid. While there is a mystical dimension that gets more focus when the minds that already know the words are not able to focus on what’s being said… if there is no point in understanding what’s being said… well..

              I watched that 60 minutes story on Mount Athos, there they featured this monk who was so impressed that the Greek words they used in the services were the same spoken by Christ. Except all that was spoken was Byzantine/Old Greek. And, Christ spoke Aramaic.

              That and he deemed it wise and Christian to tell all about his choice to not come to offer comfort and company from his own father’s deathbed request for a visit from the son he’d not seen in so many years.

          • Harry Coin says

            Apropos, last evening’s service at our GOA parish featured 4 chanters who did most of the service in Greek. I am quite certain that less than 1 in 20 of the 30 people in the room understood what was being said at a level equivalent to their ability to hear the language they speak best.

            Wisely, there was no tray passed at the end.

          • Chris Plourde says

            I hear you.

            Here’s a move in the right direction: For the last four years the Sunday of Orthodoxy has been celebrated in a “pan-Orthodox” manner here with four-to-five local Bishops from different jurisdictions each hosting at their Cathedral in turn, first the Greeks, then the Antiochian, then the Serbian, and this year the OCA. All these services have been in English, which was required by the Bishops themselves as it is the “common language” of all the Churches here.

            It’s a small step, but a step nonetheless.

            I’m not particularly bothered by incidental uses of “old” languages. But by “incidental” I mean, for example, alternating in the responses during a Litany, or alternating in the Trisagion, but I do find it problematic when entire sections of any service are not in English. Our Canon of St. Ephraim was 50/50 this year, and I forgot to bring a copy along, so I only understood about 1/2 of it….

          • George Michalopulos says

            Chris, Michael, Peter, here in the DOS of the OCA all services are all in English. Only. And thanks to the pastorate of +Dmitri, in beautiful Elizabethan cadences.

            I hear your pain about English, but please know that the Metropolia had an official English translation thanks to the work of Isabell Hapgood since 1906 or so. So there’s no real excuse for the other jurisdictions to not to borrow thm. It’s really just arrogance.

          • The language issue has a cascading impact on the efficacy of Orthodox mission in this country. Why is this? The reality is that most people who are potential catechumens are going to need to be worshiping in their own language for the most part. In the United States in the vast majority of cases that is English. It’s true that most Americans don’t know many foreign languages, but it isn’t the mission of the Church to chide Americans about this, or to be a language school. The Orthodox approach has generally emphasized translation into the local vernacular, following the tradition of SS. Cyril and Methodius.

            This didn’t happen in the US, for the most part, because, leaving aside the Alaskan mission, once immigration got going full-force in the 19th Century, Orthodoxy in America flipped from being a missionary church to being primarily an immigrant church. There’s no point crying about this — it just *is* the reality of how Orthodoxy developed in the US. The Church served as a haven for the preservation of ethnic culture — including language and religion — set apart from the broader culture. This is understandable, and had its positive points for certain when the immigrant communities were newly established in this country, but certainly as we are now in the 21st Century it can (and I have seen with my own eyes how it often does) serve as a barrier for the Church fulfilling its mission in the United States.

            I’m not here speaking about alternating languages for litanies and the Trisagion. I’m talking about the more than typical experience at, say, a GOA parish where the service is 70% in Greek, or some of the Antiochian parishes that Michael describes where it is similar albeit with a different non-English language. This alienates would be converts. Yes, the OCA is better about this in general across the board, but many people live in places where there is no OCA parish nearby. I’ve known people who wished to pursue the catechumenate who couldn’t find a suitable parish linguistically — and frankly, if the position of the Church in this country is “lump it, and get over it, because language is not that important”, not only does this undermine the efficacy of the mission of the Church here, but it also betrays the Orthodox tradition when it comes to liturgical languages and mission.

            At bottom, the real problem, of course, is whether the Church sees itself as a missionary Church in North America or not. Unfortunately, there are quite a few in all jurisdictions who do not see this as the primary role of the Church here, and instead fall back on the Church continuing to function as an immigrant church. That is, at root, the problem.

            Fortunately this doesn’t impact me personally, because in the area where I live, there are many Orthodox parishes of various jurisdictions that have services 90% or more in English (notably, however, *not* the GOA parishes). But for people who live in areas with fewer choices, it’s a significant issue, and can be a real barrier in the Church’s missionary activity in this country.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Brendan, my parish is about 70/30 English, but the incidence of Arabic and Greek has been increasing lately. We have a young priest, American born but raised very Arabic and a chanter whose first language is Arabic. He trains the rest of the chanters in the non-English.

              Even the alternating languages are jarring to the rythmn and the ability of linguistically challenged folks like me to really participate. It is always jarring to me.

              In our parish there demographically speaking, it is no longer a pastoral issue that suggests using non-English. We have a very diverse parish with Ethiopeans, Romanians, Russians, Greeks, Arabic and Anglos. The common language even with those whose native language is not English is English. We have a wonderful Agape service. We’ve had as many as 14 languages with native speakers reading the Gospels for most of them.
              It is fantastic.

              The soul of a people is in their language. If we want to baptise the American soul, we have to use English. Otherwise we are going to die out–sloughed off the outside as an anachronistic parasite.

              The split between the immigrant vision and the missonary vision is the real problem in the Antiochian Archdiocese right now. Unfortunately, with the immigrant vision also comes the dhimmi/village attitudes all too often. The temptation the other way is to become Americanized, i.e. secularized. Some folks view the continued use of other than English languages as a bulwark against the secularization. It doesn’t work, but the myth that it will persists.

              We don’t have to become a consumerized, capitalized, marketed ad blitz just because we use English–not if the Gospel is taught in English and lived in the midst of the world in worship, prayer, psalmody, fasting, almsgiving and repentance.

              I am not arguing for becoming relevant at all. In fact we have to be relentlessly counter-cultural in a salvific manner. English can actually help that in ways that non-English languages cannot.

              More important however, is getting rid of the moral relativists who have become bishops.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          There are NO, and I repeat NO English Orthodox Bibles, and NO Orthodox Study Bibles. If you think the current Orthodox Srtudy Bible is Orthodox, I am sorry to say it is not. The Official OLd Testament Text of the ENTIRE Orthodox Church is that of the Septuagint as found in the Church’s Prophetologion and in the Zoe Brotherhood/Apostoliki Diakonia Septuagint text made to conform to the Septuagint liturgical readings of the Church. So look again.

          Also, this is not nit-picking because if we change our texts we change the way we as Orthodox believe. Look also at the NT. The Official Text is that of the Greek NT text of 1912 from Constandinople made, again, to conform to our liturgical biblical readings. The OSB does not do this, and NOR is the OSB based on the Septuagint as they claimed their Old Testament was. It was a lie.

          As it stands there is NO english translation of a truly Orthodox Bible into English.

    • “Arabic is the offical language of the [Antiochian] Patriarchate–no offical English translations of rulings from the Synod, because, it seems, no one in the entire Patriarchate can be found who can give an accurate translation into that foul and barbarian tounge, English. ”

      This statement brought a ROTFLMAO smile to my face and provides me with a new dimension to the term “Bright Sadness.” The obfuscation of the Patriarchate is tragic, yet so ridiculous as to be hilarious. There is, apparently, no Arab concept of (and thus perhaps Arabic word for) “clarity.”

      • Harry Coin says

        The whole point of that is simply that ‘is’ in English can be officially recognized as meaning whatever is convenient at a time afterward that is convenient. Sooner or later the young folk will respond not by complaining or making a fuss, but by simply observing what it is Orthodoxy leads to.

        Let’s just say that too much money will not be a problem going forward.

        • Are we forgetting the fact that the obstinate, continued use of “immigrant languages” in the liturgical services of our Church here in North America has been the main reason for the “out migration” from the Church of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those immigrants and will continue to be?
          Is that important or not to the bishops, priests, and lay leaders of the “immigrant churches.”

    • George Michalopulos says

      Michael, thank you for your criticism. I take no offense at possibly being “muddled.” I don’t think my post is as muddled as you say it is but I’m open to the possibility.

      Quite possibly I am not coming at this with completely clean hands (metaphorically speaking). Being a man who is proud of his Hellenic descent, I can’t tell you how appalled I am that bishops of my blood are willing to take Turkish citizenship. To my mind, that would be like Jews joining the Aryan Brotherhood. If nothing else, it obviates the entire reason for the existence of the Church of Greece, which is valid only if we accept the validity of national boundaries. Otherwise, we’re back to phyletism, the doctrine that members of an ethnicity, regardless of their nationality, are not beholden to the nation in which they were born (and pay taxes to, serve in the military, etc.)

    • Please forgive me for interrupting an old conversation, but for the record I would like to correct the spelling of the Hawaiian word referenced in a post on this discussion string: Haole refers to a person who displays their ignorance of compassionate manners, and since the overthrow of the Hawaiian government and subsequent commencement of the Hawaiian Cultural Genocide has been mostly reserved for Americans, although previously the word was used for any foreigner. E ka Haku aloha mai!

  4. Chris Plourde says

    It seems to me that the guarantors of autocephaly (a word the spellcheck underlines) are us, the laity. We have to demand our Bishops be our Bishops, not the Bishops of someone else’s nation, not Bishops whose eyes are set upon a seat in someone else’s land and someone else’s Synod.

    Can the Antiochian (another word spellcheck doesn’t like) Bishops become the Ecumenical Patriarch? Can the Russian Bishops become the Ecumenical Patriarch? Can the Serbian Bishops become the Ecumenical Patriarch? OCA Bishops cannot become the Russian Patriarch, no matter the historical connections between the two. If we’re really an American Church, what does it matter that our Bishops can’t become the Ecumenical Patriarch?

    I’d ask the EA to take a simple poll: How many Orthodox Christians in America wish to return to their purported homelands to live? That answer should drive the discussion. Here in California I know from long experience that the percentage would be tiny.

    • The government of Turkey does not recognize “Ecumenical Patriarch”;
      Constantinopole ceased to exist in 1453, so the title of “Archbishop of Constantinople” in actuality is factious.
      The government of Turkey must approve anyone elected to head the Greek Orthodox Church there.
      My question therefore is:
      Would they/do they then only approve and recognize any such elected head there only as “Archbishop of Istanbul” (or how about maybe even “Metropolitan of Istanbul and All Turkey”)???

      • I just discovered that the real question on my mind, when I wrote comment #22 above, was this:
        How many Greek bishops do you think would apply for Turkey citizenship if they knew beforehand that if they were to be elected the official and recognized title that they would receive would not be “Archbishop of Constanstinople and Ecumenical Patriarch” but instead “Archbishop of Istanbul and Metropolitan of All Turkey”???

        • George Michalopulos says

          Niko, excellent thought! BTW, it looks like Erdogan is going to push through legislation that will divide Istanbul into two cities, one on the Asian side, the other on the European. If so, this will the Constantinopolitan claims of HH ridiculous.

  5. Peter A. Papoutsis says


    Did you know that the US conference of Catholic Bishops approved a new translation of the Old Testament that replaced “Virgin” in Isaiah 7:14 to “Young Woman?” This goes to the heart of your clerical corruption theory. How could they? This is why Orthodoxy hold onto the LXX.


    • George Michalopulos says

      Lord have mercy!

    • George Michalopulos says

      BTW Peter, I haven’t forgotten about your critique about how the OCL treated +Spyridon. I’d like to address it more fully when I have the time. For what it’s worth, the currrent president of the OCL, a true Christian gentleman (Bill Souval) has recently written a letter to Bishop +Basil lamenting the lack of seriousness that is apparent in the Episcopal Assembly. Perhaps we we were wrong to get rid of +Spyridon.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Hi George:

        First, Christ is Risen! Second, I would love to read the letter by Mr. Souval. The past events with +Spyridon and the current events with +Jonah have silver linings. With +Spyridon it revealed the EP’s hand that lead to its eventual interpretation of Canon 28 (i.e. its path to an acquition and consolidation od power) that I cannot accept, and with +Jonah it has revealed and exposed the deep seated Clerical Corruption in the OCA. The +Spyridob controversy also revealed the deep seated clerical corruption as well.

        Also, back then I was in my 20’s, singel, an uber Greek and thought I knew all the answers and was very distrustful of the OCL. Now I am turning 40 in a few days, married with two kids, and all I want is a Church they can feel at home in and call their own. Both of my Kids were born in America and will know English as their first language. As much as I would love them to know Greek I know they won’t know it that good and they like most Greek won’t understand the Divine Liturgy unless its in English.

        Further, modern Greek culture is Neo-Pagan. I don’t want that. I don’t want that at all! So now I still don’t likw how things went down, I’m much more sympathetic to the OCL and much more trusting as I was when I was in my twenties. Not fully, but that’s just me.

        In any event, an American Orthodox Church will happen. The question really is who will control it? Us here at home or people oveseas with old world views that don’t reay know nor want to know us. Its been a long journey George. I like to think all of us Greek, Russian, Arab, etc., desendents of American Orthodoxy have come a long way, and still have a long way to go. Today though I try to go forward with Pray instead of my own sense of right and wrong. I have come to the dredful realization that I am usually wrong, and rely of patients and time to “reveal” the truth to me.

        Take care George and enjoy Bright Week


  6. Charlie Patseas says

    If the Greeks were such nationalists, why do they allow Southern Italy to call itself Magna Grece (http://magnagrece.blogspot.com/)? Because the Greeks know the Slavs are all coming from being Yuvrey with all their crazy books and fasts and stuff. That. is why we all marry Catholic Italian and stay away from Slav churches. OCA is Yuvrey!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Charlie, as I understand it, “Magna Graecia” (or Megali Ellas) included those areas adjacent to the Greek mainland that the Greeks colonized. My own great-great grandfather came from Sicily and his ancestors were there for generations. BTW, what does “yuvrey” mean?

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        George my Great-Great grandmother on my mothers side came from sicily as well. Interesting.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Peter, the actual town is Catania in Sicily. My Italian friends told me that their grandparents from the immigrant generation (pre-1930) that up until the early-twentieth century, you could hear Greek being spoken in different areas of Sicily. I can’t confirm, but one Greek-American fellow I knew from my father’s generation who served in the US Army after WWII told me that the Chrysostom liturgy was the dominant one in Sicily even for RCs. (Which leads me to suspect that there was a lot of Uniatism going on, but like I said, I haven’t found this confirmed in the historical record and the man who told me died 5 years ago.)

          As for Bill Souval’s letter, go to http://www.ocl.org. It’s gentle but hard-hitting as well. It presents a very bleak picture of inter-Orthodox cooperation, especially among the laity.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Thanks for the info George. I also read the letter. It was a very good letter. However, the bishops really don’t care about us. Some do, but usually those are not the guys that make all the big decisions.

            I will say this about the GOA in my neck of the woods. At my church of St. Demetrios our priest is great, and is definitrly pushing and getting more and more English into the Liturgy and other services, as are other GOA churches because that is the sign of the times. By the time my kids grow up the GOA will have gone, I hope, fully English. It will happen by simple inertia because the people will want it.

            The Church of Greece has been doing Church services in Demotic Greek because even the Greeks in Greece didn’t uderstand the liturgy any longer and have officially authorized a Greek NT in modern Greek with the blessing and approval of the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece. If Greece and do it in there lanaguage why not us here in America? Time will make it happen.

            Finally, everybody has been talking about the bad things about our Church. Let me says some of the Good things about our Church. Our Churches are GROWING! Between our converts and inter-marriage we are a growing AMERICAN Orthodox Church. We have a solid liturgical life that is enriching, prayers and prayer services that are meaningful, younger generations coming in that want to return to a more traditional Orthodox life, but NOT being fanatics about it, and a Divine Liturgy that is Par Exellent! We truly have a growling and blossoming Church here in America and Canada that we can be proud of.

            Now do we need to clean house and be vigilant in the future, Yes sir we do! But look to the future and the future is bright! The old clerics with their toleration of sin and culture decay will fade away. I truly believe this. Why? Because the younger Generations, according to most polls on the reliegious life of Americans, show that the new generations does not tolerate old Church Politics and does not tolerate saying one things and doing or accepting another. Its our young that is our true accountability and who will demand transparency.

            The future of our Church belongs to the young and if they see the same old games being played they will leave, and take their money with them. The Clerics don’t want that to happen. So real positive changes will happen and the Church will be better for it. So keep hope alive and always know – God is in charge not men because as the old saying going Man plans and God laughs, and God is laughing right now because he knows its all futile for the Old Guard.

            The Church will survive, a new day will dawn and with that let’s all remember Christ is Risen! Truly he is Risen! The war has already been won on the cross and the empty tomb.

  7. I am in a OCA parish in a major western Canadian city. We are 20% cradle and 80% converts. We are the first English speaking parish here (now in our 25th year).
    We started in a Garage. Then moved on through rented spaces into our present building which was purchased from a Protestant sect and is really barely suitable for an OC but it was all we could afford. Now we have grown to a point where we are considering the building of a “real” Orthodox church, including dome and with all the bells and whistles…
    From our parish have originated to this day four new English speaking parishes in BC. I know of five young men (there are three more, but I don’t know them personally) from our parish, converts, who became priests, never mind the many readers an deacons. These young priests are missionaries, and all have come back home and started new English speaking parishes in Western Canada.
    Today, many young Greeks, Russians, Romanians, Ukrainians are showing up at our doorstop and become members of our parish. The average age of our community is about 33. We are now having so many babies that we are propagating enough to grow without evangelization. Which of course, was meant as a joke. Because we ARE evangelizing.
    In the early days, our new converts were coming from the university near to us and from a Baptist Bible College. Today, they come straight from the street, walk in and stay…
    We are blessed!
    The stories coming from the ethnic churches in our city are not nearly as wonderful… I live 75Km from my church and attend almost all services. 5Km from my home is a Ukrainian Orthodox church, the congregation has shrunk to 11 members with the youngest about 82 years old. They are all very nice people, but their church is dead. To top it all off, after having lost their children and grandchildren for the church, mainly because of the use of Ukrainian that nobody understands any more, they are now being served by a retired OCA priest, once a month, who does their liturgy in, what else, English….
    Thus it is my consideration and firm believe that the church in NA will thrive and multiply using the language of the people. The church that is a foreign “culture-club” an ethnic enclave will die out within the next generation…

    Christ is Risen…!

    • Joseph, the story of your parish is probably the model that will work in the US and Canada simply because it fits sociological reality. Your story about the Ukrainian parish is mirrored in the USA unfortunately. The Ukrainians hung to the notion that the Church is also the center of Ukrainian self-identity and as a result lost most of their young people.

      I can understand the logic behind that kind of thinking; it’s a defensiveness against the dictates of civil religion and increasing secularism and the thin gruel for the soul that it offers. National identity is not enough to hold the soul however, only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can do that. Further, the nationalists forget that their culture emerged from the Gospel, and while culture can be a guarantor of sorts, it cannot be the source. That’s why their children rediscover the faith of their fathers in parishes like yours.

      • Thank you Fr. Hans for the reply.
        Unfortunately, the Ukrainian story describes only one of the more extreme situations. I know of Greek churches here where the wheelchairs outnumber the babies 1:20. A friend of mine came to us from a Greek church and was bitterly complaining about the rumbunctiousness of our lunch room (it is laid out to hold about 40 people, but on Sundays bursts with about 90-100 eaters.) I suggested to him that he has a choice, to either shout louder than the rest and trip over the little kids running wild in our church or go back to the Greeks, get himself a hearing aide and expose himself to the danger of being run over by a wheelchair-driver.
        He thought about it for a second and started laughing until tears came into his eyes. He never complained again, stayed with us and became the beloved Papou for all the little ones… and the not so little ones…

  8. OCA is Yuvrey!

    Could you explain the meaning? Thank you

    • Michael Bauman says

      Yuvrey: they actually car about traditional orthopraxis rather than blending in with the world and secularizing?

      • Michael, then we are definitely Yuvrey…! What language is that?

        • Michael Bauman says

          I have no idea, I was merely taking a WAG given the context. Where the writer seemed to make Yuvrey a negative thing, give his other comments it sounded like a good thing to me. Perhaps it is an oblique reference to a famous Indian cricket player.

          • Michael, I was wondering myself what he meant. I guess reading it in one sentence: “…is why we all marry Catholic Italian and stay away from Slav churches. OCA is Yuvrey!” would make it a negative….

            I wonder also how long the writer wants to keep marrying “Catholic Italians” before his Orthodoxy becomes extinct?

            Maybe, I should move on…. It’s Bright Week after all and steaks are waiting to be grilled.