Yet Another Historic Concelebration

Interestingly enough, while other websites dwell on “obscure chronologies” and His Beatitude’s supposed misfeasance, one of the most prominent bishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople popped in for a visit at St Vladimir’s to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with His Beatitude and His Eminence Archbishop Justinian, primate of the Russian patriarchal parishes here in North America. Is the hatchet between the OCA and Constantinople being buried?

+ + + + + + + + +

Archpriest John Behr, SVS Dean, welcomes hierarchs after the Divine Liturgy.

Source: Orthodox News | YONKERS, NY [SVOTS/Deborah (Malacky) Belonick]

At the Divine Liturgy for the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos, the Saint Vladimir Seminary community was honored to have three hierarchs serving: His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah, presiding; His Eminence Archbishop Justinian of Naro-Fominsk and Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA; and His Eminence, Metropolitan Kallistos [Ware], Bishop of Diokleia, concelebrating.  The seminary community was especially privileged to hear the homily by Metropolitan Kallistos, widely renowned author, teacher, and churchman, who is visiting the campus as a participant in the North American Conference of the Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius being held on the school’s campus.

Reflecting on the hymns of the feast day, related to the life of the Virgin Mary, Metropolitan Kallistos centered his preaching on the unique and personal vocation of each human being.

“The Theotokos was ‘preordained’ to be the Mother of God,” Metropolitan Kallistos began.  “Her vocation was accepted freely; nevertheless God had picked her out and chosen her before the creation of the world.  And, what is true of her is true of each one of us: we have been chosen to fulfill a particular vocation.  Human beings are not stereotypes; everyone is different, as the Book of Revelation emphasizes.  Each person shall be given a new name written on a white stone; that name is known only to God and the person who receives it.

“In each person is a hidden treasure, not to be found in someone else,” he stressed.  “The world has need of every single person.  Each one has a unique vocation and special task not given to another.  Through prayer and ascetic struggle we discover our vocation and become what we are.”

Metropolitan Kallistos, who was born Timothy Ware and raised in the Anglican tradition in Bath, England, embraced the Orthodox Christian faith at the age of 24.  He has served as co-chair of the Orthodox-Anglican Dialogue from 2008 to the present, and thus, appropriately, will deliver the keynote to commence this week’s conference of Orthodox Christian and Anglican participants.  His most well known writings are The Orthodox Church, published when he was a layman in 1963; in 1979 he produced a companion volume, The Orthodox Way, published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press.

A photo gallery of the Liturgy may be found on the seminary web site.

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  1. We’ve heard so much from Stokoe and Drezhlo (two sides of the same coin if there ever were) about how Metropolitan Jonah is supposedly universally despised, save for his few flunkies on “Team Jonah”, that the other bishops don’t like him to celebrate in their dioceses, and even have themselves act as babysitters of their Metropolitan.

    Yet here we have Metropolitan Jonah concelebrating with the EP’s own Metropolitan Kallistos and the MP’s own Archbishop Justinian. Just a few months ago, Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of ROCOR and Archbishop Justinian concelebrated with him in honor of Patriarch Kyrill’s name day. Let’s not forget the standing ovation from Protestants and Catholics, and a few Orthodox, at the Acton Institute.

    And hey, apparently an awards committee in Russia likes him, too. Drezhlo pooh-poohs that as a front for Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), but even if it were, think about what that would mean – this was the Metropolitan Hilarion who flew to America to straighten stuff out in March. Stokoe didn’t say much about what he said to the gathering of bishops and clergy in Syosset, but that he was supposedly harsh with Met. Jonah – NOT.

    “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.” – Mark 6:4

    • Helga, if I’m not mistaken, this was the first time that an actual metropolitan from the EP actually concelebrated with a primate of the OCA.

      To all: notice I did not say that a bishop of the EP concelebrated with a bishop of the OCA, GOA bishops have concelebrated with OCA bishops in the past.

      Regardless, let’s open this up for discussion and/or correction.

      • John Christopher says

        It really depends on what you mean by “actual metropolitan.” Metropolitan Kallistos is not a ruling bishop (much less a ruling metropolitan). He is a titular bishop with no role within the Patriarchate’s governance (e.g. he never has and never will sit on the synod, since he is an auxiliary bishop). I would say the visits of then-Archimandrite Elpidophoros to SVS, or Metropolitan Herman’s visit to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, were of real inter-church significance. Any such implications for this event were effectively removed by the presence of Archbishop Justinian.

        • John, I agree agree with you that the abuse of the term “metropolitan” is endemic and ridiculous. The fact that Ware is just titular causes me no end to grief. Everything else you say is true as well. However, although Ware has no official capacity, he is the “golden boy” of the EP, the gentleman-scholar whose reputation throughout the world is vast and well-deserved.

          What I meant to say is that there is no more high-profile person than Ware within the EP. Lambrianides is another golden boy (and younger) but he is also an auxiliary metropolitan (I know, I know: a contradiction in terms) but his reputation is nowhere near the luster of Ware’s.

          Bottom line: they wouldn’t send him to concelebrate with the primate of the OCA for no reason at all. I’m just trying to figure out what this means. Remember, +Dimitrios of the GOA hasn’t concelebrated with +Jonah on this personal of a level (if at all). Same with the other GOA bishops.

          • John Christopher says

            No, Archbishop Demetrios has never done so because that would be of real significance. Met Kallistos was there in his capacity as an ecumenical scholar (calling for open debate on women’s ordination), not in his capacity as an auxiliary bishop. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

            • Michael Bauman says

              If Met. Kallistos was really ‘calling for open debate on women’s ordination’ then he has truly gone ’round the bend. Too much time with heretics will do that too you especially if one is, as he is, an academic who is loth to offend anyone.

              • CodeNameYvette says

                It’s worse than that. Forgive me if I sound harsh and judgmental, but here goes. The world of American Orthodoxy is so small that it elevates mediocrities to hero status. People quote Schmemann and Ware and Meyendorff as if they were Desert Fathers. They are reluctant to admit the limitations of their favorites, particularly if they possess(ed) personal charm and interesting backgrounds. It gives the whole thing a touch of class, don’t you know. Like hanging on to a decaying Long Island mansion.

                Metropolitan Kallistos wrote a fairly good book some years ago, which he revised in a modernist direction more recently. He is evidently a man of some spiritual pride, like others who find themselves equipped to judge the Orthodox Church and make improvements according to their taste. His latest fling with the notion of women priests is merely another step on the path.

                IMHO just another sell-out to modernism, whose works are recommended to the unwary and to new converts in most of our church bookstores.

                • He is evidently a man of some spiritual pride, like others who find themselves equipped to judge the Orthodox Church and make improvements according to their taste.

                  I felt the same thing when I saw Maria McDowell write about how great it was that priests are personally rewriting services to fit their personal tastes.

                  She didn’t just put that in Leonova’s Facebook group, it’s in something called the “Eastern Orthodox encyclopedia” edited by Fr. John McGuckin, a reference work intended for academic libraries. The blind leading the blind.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Respect and admiration for ones teachers is simply respect & admiration; nothing more nothing less. Extraordinary individuals distinguish themselves from the mediocre only upon a fundamental realization: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13).” I would further suggest that there is a significant difference between “personal charm and interesting backgrounds” and “manifestation of the Spirit” (1 Cor 12:7) given for the benefit of all. Without extraordinary individuals in each and every generation, the Church would be nothing more than a stagnant “church bookstore” of centuries past Desert Fathers.

                  I would note that the “sell-out to modernism,” St. Gregory of Nyssa, believed in ἀποκατάστασις: that it was impossible for God to forsake anyone to damnation, and in the end, all would be mercifully reconciled to the way “it was in the beginning.” This is a belief that the later Fathers (e.g. Mark of Ephesus, Maximus the Confessor, Photius the Great) absolutely rejected, yet the Church canonized Gregory a saint. Do you suggest that, on account of his error of “improvement according to his taste,” we dismiss him?

                  Individuals such as Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky, Bp. Basil Rodzianko, Frs. Florovsky, Schmemman, and Meyendorff, and Prof. S.S. Verhovskoy were not “baseball cards” or cheap “larger than life” heroes. They were extraordinary individuals, given to the Church at the necessary time, for the necessary service to a given generation. They were preceded and will be followed (procédé) by similar extraordinary individuals.

                  To disparage the “fathers” of our time as a vaneer “touch of class” strikes me as particularly shortsighted. It seems to me that if you do not see them, it is foolishly hypocritical to blame the “spiritual pride” of others, as “some have entertained angels without knowing it (Heb. 13:2)” in innocence, and others because of pride.

                  • Stanky,

                    Who in your opinion are the “similar extraordinary individuals” – (procédé) – that are the fruit of the extraordinary individuals that you listed?

                  • CodeNameYvette says

                    Mr. Stankovitch: I suggest you take the time to actually listen to Met. Kallistos’ recent keynote address …

                    Well, we did, and that’s the problem. We know what he says and what he means. Especially the bit about the “living and evolving” Church. Some of us prefer relying on Christ to make all things new. Although the modernist claptrap does sound cool with that Oxford accent of his.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Apparently I missed the decoder ring before I listened. All that business about P. Evdokimov; N. Lossky; L. Uspensky; A.S. Komiakov; Frs. K. Kern & G. Florovsky; Prof. S.S. Verhovskoy; all of the Greeks (whose names I will not attempt to spell); and, of course, let us not forget the Five Yardbirds, Frs. Schmemman, Meyendorff, Hopko, Breck, and Ericson, was so “name-droppingly” seductive – particularly in that Oxford speech impediment – that I almost began to believe that the future of the Church should be as “inspiring and hopeful” as the Metropolitan suggests. Instead, you would have me consider falling in line behind your traditionalist hearse of an OCA, the moribund condition of which you continuously ascribe to others than yourself.

                      And how ironic that Met. Kallistos defines a “theologian” of a “lesser degree,” – to which he himself aspires – as “those who trust the saints.” Plagiarism is so unbecoming, especially when attribution rightfully belongs to a modernist.

                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                      Thank you, Stanky, for once again making it quite plain to the online world that you are not really interested in Orthodox tradition.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Mr Stankovich, as someone who greatly admirest Bp Ware and who is all in favor of authentic dialogue, I must point out that the “hearse” that is the present OCA is not –and hasn’t been–driven by Traditionalists for a long time. Deep Institutional Mediocrity is almost always the result of hidebound proceduralism/institutionalism. That’s why +Jonah’s had an especially hard time of it. It’s not just the back-stabbing and undermining, but the very real belief in the hybrid jackalopian monstrosity that was foisted upon the Metropolia back in 1917.

                      The OCA won’t really be an autocephalous church until that day when the bishops really believe they are bishops. We’ll know when the MC finally disssolves and real Diocesan Councils take their place.

                  • Alas, you are fighting a good battle with folks whose minds are closed with fear. I cannot believe that so many “traditionalists” denigrate the most traditionalist of all 20th Century theologians–Father Alexander Schmemann of Thrice Blessed Memory, who is the modern Chrysostom in my humble opinion. It is true that Father Alexander challenged the superstitious, Western influenced, typicon-worshiping Russian Church of the early 20th Century. What his critics overlook in their indignation is Father Alexander’s solution is never his own opinion but his appeal to the early Church fathers and the Liturgical deposit of the Church. In contrast, his critics, as do your critics, put their fingers in their ears, close their eyes and scream inanities.

                    • CodeNameYvette says

                      Father Alexander Schmemann would , of course, be uniquely qualified to diagnose the ills of the Orthodox Church and to prescribe exact remedies.

                      You might be interested to know that every heretic before Calvin and Luther down to Mrs. Eddy and L. Ron Hubbard for all I know, claimed to know exactly what the Early Church did and what we befuddled moderns ought to do. Or you might not.

                      I’m not judging Father Alexander and his opinions. What makes me nervous is how many of his disciples accept those opinions without question. He cut a dash in the OCA because it was, and remains, small. Smallness is no sin, but it does make vast reservoirs of talent unlikely.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Following the Holy Fathers… It is not a reference to abstract tradition, to formulas and propositions. It is primarily an appeal to persons, to holy witnesses. The witness of the Fathers belongs, integrally and intrinsically, to the very structure of the Orthodox faith. The Church is equally committed to the kerygma of the Apostles and to the dogmata of the Fathers. Both belong together inseparably. The Church is indeed “Apostolic.” But the Church is also “Patristic.” And only by being “Patristic” is the Church continuously “Apostolic.” The Fathers testify to the Apostolicity of the tradition.

                      Since the rise of Scholasticism “Patristic theology” has been antiquated, has become actually a “past age,” a kind of archaic prelude. This point of view, legitimate for the West, has been, most unfortunately, accepted also by many in the East, blindly and uncritically. Accordingly, one has to face the alternative. Either one has to regret the “backwardness” of the East which never developed any “Scholasticism” of its own. Or one should retire into the “Ancient Age,” in a more or less archeological manner, and practice what has been wittily described recently as a “theology of repetition.” The latter, in fact, is just a peculiar form of imitative “scholasticism.”

                      Now, it is not seldom suggested that, probably, “the Age of the Fathers” has ended much earlier than St. John of Damascus. Very often one does not proceed further than the Age of Justinian, or even already the Council of Chalcedon. Was not Leontius of Byzantium already “the first of the Scholastics”? Psychologically, this attitude is quite comprehensible, although it cannot be theologically justified. Indeed, the Fathers of the Fourth century are much more impressive, and their unique greatness cannot be denied. Yet, the Church remained fully alive also after Nicea and Chalcedon. The current overemphasis on the “first five centuries” dangerously distorts theological vision, and prevents the right understanding of the Chalcedonian dogma itself. The decree of the Sixth Ecumenical Council is often regarded as a kind of an “appendix” to Chalcedon, interesting only for theological specialists, and the great figure of St. Maximus the Confessor is almost completely ignored. Accordingly, the theological significance of the Seventh Ecumenical Council is dangerously obscured, and one is left to wonder, why the Feast of Orthodoxy should be related to the commemoration of the Church’s victory over the Iconoclasts. Was it not just a “ritualistic controversy”? We often forget that the famous formula of the Consensus quinquesaecularis [agreement of five centuries], that is, actually, up to Chalcedon, was a Protestant formula, and reflected a peculiar Protestant “theology of history.” It was a restrictive formula, as much as it seemed to be too inclusive to those who wanted to be secluded in the Apostolic Age. The point is, however, that the current Eastern formula of “the Seven Ecumenical Councils” is hardly much better, if it tends, as it usually does, to restrict or to limit the Church’s spiritual authority to the first eight centuries, as if “the Golden Age” of Christianity has already passed and we are now, probably, already in an Iron Age, much lower on the scale of spiritual vigour and authority. Our theological thinking has been dangerously affected by the pattern of decay, adopted for the interpretation of Christian history in the West since the Reformation. The fullness of the Church was then interpreted in a static manner, and the attitude to Antiquity has been accordingly distorted and misconstrued. After all, it does not make much difference, whether we restrict the normative authority of the Church to one century, or to five, or to eight. There should he no restriction at all. Consequently, there is no room for any “theology of repetition.” The Church is still fully authoritative as she has been in the ages past, since the Spirit of Truth quickens her now no less effectively as in the ancient times.

                      Fr. G. Florovsky, St. Gregory Palamas and the Tradition of the Fathers

                      The Church is catholic in time and space. In time, because she is not only always linked to the Apostles horizontally, but is in fact the same Church, the same Apostolic community, gathered, επί το αυτό (Acts, 2, 45, 47). It is catholic in space because each local Church, in the unity of the bishop and people receives the fullness of gifts, is taught the entire Truth and possesses the whole Christ; and where Christ is, there is the Church.

                      Fr. A Schmemman, “Unity”, “Division”, “Reunion” in the light of Orthodox Ecclesiology

                      Either the Holy Spirit is eternally the source of Truth & Infallibility (for it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us); the limitless εκκλησιοστικον φρονημα, guiding inspiring, searching, & enlightening the Church through “talent” that was, is, and is to come; and the life-giving, and eternally invigorating force of a “living & evolving” Church, or you walk behind a hearse. Trust the saints, known & unknown, yesterday, today, and forever.

              • John Christopher says

                Met. Kallistos calling for such an open debate is not news. He’s been doing so for 30+ years. The only difference this time is that he was doing so over and against the arguments of the Continuing Anglican bishops who were also featured panelists.

                • “Met. Kallistos calling for such an open debate is not news. He’s been doing so for 30+ years.”

                  Very true. I heard it many years ago from his lips with my own ears, and it made me cringe. He, of course, makes what he describes as “an open question” sound so very reasonable and sophisticated. “We should maintain an open mind in things about which the Church, in her wisdom, has not seen fit to formulate dogmatically,” don’t you know.

                  But an open mind is only beautiful to the extent that it is also disciplined, able to distinguish good from evil when confronted with subtle error.

                  It is fascinating to me how nearly all of our modern heresies revolve around sex in one way or another, striking directly at the core of what it means to be human.

                  Have you not heard that in the beginning He made them male and female…?

                  • CodeNameYvette says

                    Seems that it’s ok with some for the likes of Met. Kallistos, a glamorous addition to any church decor, to rant on at will AND at odds with Church teaching. But he’s a famous and beloved celebrity who dresses up the set, so that makes all the difference. (!)

                    If on the other hand the same opinions are expressed by, say, a dumpy creep with a live-in boyfirend and a web site and some gossipy friends in Syosset, that’s a whole ‘nuther thing.

                    To me this is an illustration of the foundational problem here: lack of proper priorities in one’s loyalties. And more. It shows how we got where we are, taking the OCA as the case in point. Some of these beloved figures laid the foundations for the mess we are in today, and in the case of the beloved Metropolitan Kallistos, are still busy at work undermining the Church.

                    Put your trust in the Saints. They made mistakes, but they repented of them.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Yvette, your words have the sting of truth. I very much admire Ware for his scholarship and erudition, however I agree that his doctrines are rather a little to nouvelle for my tastes. Make no mistake however: he is very much of the same mindset that many other thinkers in Istanbul are. The liberalism runs deep there and probably since at least the time of Metaxakis (d. 1925).

                      Let’s not forget that the most recently “elected” “metropolitan,” Lambrianides recited a poem about the revival of a near-extinct race by Constantine Kavafis, who was a known pederast. Now mind you, I’m not saying that the bishop in question is one, just that one has to pause to consider why a bishop would elect to use this type of man’s poetry.

                      The point is that it is very likely that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is very likely ridden through with Laodicean sensibilities on a whole range of issues. I’m preparing a blog post based on the latest revelations from Wikileaks, which prove that Istanbul is willingly being used as a pawn of liberal elements within the US as a foil against Russia.

                      More to follow.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      I suggest you take the time to actually listen to Met. Kallistos’ recent keynote address at SVS on the Faith Network. It is a remarkable and detailed history of the evolution of the ecclesiology and anthropology of the Church, quoting Fr. Georges Florovsky, im werden, in the ongoing process of formation. He speaks of a living, evolving Church that braces itself on the pillars of the Eucharist (“There is no Eucharist without the Church, and no Church without the Eucharist”); the Patristic Fathers; hesychasm and the Philokalia; the grace derived from the bishops; and the “co-relative authority of the succession of holy men and women in each generation,” summarized in the example of St. John Maximovitch. He ends with a “sharp disagreement” with the 14th century remark of Theodore Metochites: “The wise men of old have said everything so perfectly that they have left nothing further for us to say,” taking inspiration in the words of the risen Christ: “Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)

                      Quite a solid effort from this Metropolitan cum showdog.

                    • “He ends with a ‘sharp disagreement’ with the 14th century remark of Theodore Metochites: ‘The wise men of old have said everything so perfectly that they have left nothing further for us to say…”

                      Again, very true. And what needs to be said/what remains to be said that the wise men of old did not say (because they were never confronted with the subtle errors that arise from our modern notions of equality) is a clear apologetic for the Tradition of the Church on human sexuality and the relationship of sex to personal vocation in this life– not a recitation of the Church’s traditional practice, but rather the ‘spiritual and anthropological rationale’ for her practices. I sincerely wish the towering Orthodox intellects of our day (such as Met. Kallistos) would employ their talents in defense of the Tradition rather than in questioning it. It can, after all, be done; and it can be done quite well, as John Paul II has shown. Would that we had courageous Orthodox theologians who would do the same.

                      I have seen first-hand the destruction such rationalistic ‘reasonable’ questioning causes those who allow themselves to be seduced by it, and it breaks my heart.

                      It is readily acknowledged that there are those in Orthodoxy who fear change of any kind. Such people can be said to be merely ‘conservative,’ and they tend to view those who believe it is time to change certain aspects of the expression of our Faith as ‘liberal.’ It would be a serious, albeit virtually inevitable, mistake for those who favor women in the priesthood to confuse the objections raised by those who hold fast to the Tradition with mere conservatism. This is not an issue of simply changing the expression of the truth; it is an indirect attempt to redefine what the truth is. Therefore, let not the accusation be leveled that any objections to such innovation are motivated by fear of change. Faithfulness to the truth cannot be equated with mere conservatism. It may indeed be time for the Church prayerfully to reexamine some of her traditional practices with regard (among other things) to women in order to express her truth accurately to a world for which our long-held cultural traditions have little or no meaning. It may also be time for the Church to revive the ancient order of deaconess (not to be confused with what we know as the Deaconate today), but those who confuse this revival with modern ideas of equality are their own worst enemies in accomplishing this otherwise admirable goal.

                      Many times throughout the history of the Church she was tempted to try and reconcile the wisdom of this world (human reason) with the truth as revealed by God. Each time she discovered that such attempts invariably lead to heresies that are irreconcilable with the Gospel revealed to us through Jesus Christ. It was the Church’s recognition that the Wisdom of God, as revealed to her in Christ through His holy prophets and Apostles, must be trusted above all human reason that always brought her back to a Biblical, Apostolic, Patristic understanding of her Faith. It may take a very long time for the Church to bring definition to our modern challenges, but she will do so in the way she always has: through faithfulness to the truth of who she is.

                      “Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5)

                      One would do well to realize the vast difference between making all things new and making new things.

                    • Brian McDonald says

                      Brian #1 (from Brian McDonald, aka, “Brian 2″‘):
                      I spent a good deal of time today reflecting on how to express the difference between devotion to tradition and “mere conservatism.” I wish I’d read this earlier because it would have saved me a lot of time! The devotion to tradition you’re talking about isn’t the knee-jerk reaction to anything new, it is a deeply reverent awareness of those things that belong unchangeably to the heart and soul of church’s faith.

                      To challenge the church’s teachings on human sexuality (and the implications of those teachings) is to do something far different than, say, to challenge the devotion of some Orthodox to certain “Byzantinisms.” If the Church has failed (and failed for centuries) to teach the truth on something as fundamental to human identity as our sexuality, then we can have no confidence that there is anything permanently true in anything else she teaches.

                      But even to put it that way is to be sound too defensive. Surely, one of the things that drew many of us to the Holy Tradition of the Church was its compellingly beautiful and self-authenticating vision of human life, including its expression as male and female. The wonderful “complementarity of man and woman, in which equality and hierarchy don’t contradict each other seemed to be of a piece with that distinction-in-unity of the Holy Trinity in which the Son is fully God as the Father is fully God (“I and the father are one”) and yet also can say “I always do what the father wills.”

                      It is this discovery of the ancient faith that has made all things new for many of us. And as you say so well: “One would do well to realize the vast difference between making all things new and making new things.”

                    • I’ve read these contributions about Metropolitan Kallistos with great interest because I had the misfortune to have seen his work close up in Oxford where he gave his unstinting support to a breakaway Moscow Patriarchate Parish against those in the original Russian Parish who chose to join his own Patriarchate. Indeed I have heard repeated reports that he was for a long time frequenting the Moscow Patriarchate Cathedral in London and concelebrating there. Last year he went to Moscow at the Feast of the Dormition and celebrated with Patriarch Kirill and was the chief guest at the agape afterwards.

                      You may recall that back in 2006 the Diocese of Sourozh split and Bishop Basil along with half the clergy and laity left Moscow and joined the EP. Kallistos did not support this move. He even wrote to the Phanar expressing his opposition. It must have been very hard on a personal level for Bishop Basil, a quiet and gentle pastor, a man of a deep heart much loved by his flock, to have been at the receiving end of such hostility from a brother Bishop in his own home city.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Guys. It is this simple – Ware is wrong when it comes to female ordination. As much of a luminary as he is the wider Orthodox Church has recognized he was off base. In 1994 the then Bishop of Bethlehem personally told me as such. Admire the good he has done, but not the bad. We are all human after all. Let’s more on.


                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Midlander, if what you say is true (regarding the events in England), then I must defer to Ware’s good judgment in this regard. Bp Osborn’s schism was not a good thing in general and the Phanar’s continued hamfisted interference in the “Diaspora” will in time be seen for the egregious failure that it is by all concerned (in due time).

                      Furthermore, the fact that Ware would stand up to the primate of his patriarchate (the EP) indicates he has principles. Having said that, he’s 100% off-base on the possibility and propriety of priestesses in the Orthodox Church.

                    • I really do have a problem is seeing how moving in a canonical way to the Ecumencial Patriarchate can be a “schism”. In fact Moscow eventually did accept the situation as it was and that Bishop Basil was canonically under the EP.

                      In fairness to Kallistos, he has never actually said he wants to see the ordination of women priests, he just regards it as an “open question”. In 2008 at the Lambeth Conference he also said that the Anglican Churches approach to the ordination of gays was “prophetic” for the rest of Christendom. When talking to the Anglican Bishops he could have said that the Orthodox position is very clear … he did not.

      • The presence of Archbishop Justinian did not detract from the extraordinary nature of the concelebration between Metropolitan Jonah and Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) last spring. It was Archbishop Justinian’s cathedral, but notice that Metropolitan Jonah had the primary place as befitting his status.

        Metropolitan Kallistos is a titular metropolitan, but he’s certainly one of the most prominent Orthodox scholars in the West or under the EP’s authority. It is significant for him to concelebrate not just with a hierarch of the OCA, but the primate, especially the one who got a little mouthy about the interference of the EP in the diaspora. Also, since Three Hierarchs is stavropegial, this one was Met. Jonah’s house party. So, for a multitude of reasons, this is abundantly significant and, frankly, cool.

    • Helga, you’re right — NOT is right!

      • Madam, I knew something was up when Stokoe couldn’t manage to make what Met. Hilarion said to Met. Jonah sound all that terrible. It sounded to me like he encouraged him to play along with the Synod’s requests, so that they couldn’t accuse him of being disobedient or deranged. I only wish the two of them had been able to leverage that into getting psych tests for all of the bishops. Who would be shaking in their boots then, I wonder?

  2. Very nice, i suggest webmaster can set up a forum, so that we can talk and communicate.

  3. Metropolitan Jonah was there both as the Primate of the OCA but also as the President of SVOTS. He got the Triumph of Orthodoxy Award from the “the ‘National Awards Committee,’ a group of Orthodox Christians blessed to do their work by the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate. Mr. Valerie Sergeivich Balakirev, who represented the committee, bestowed a medal upon Metropolitan Jonah, “in recognition of His Beatitude’s efforts in promoting unity and friendship among Orthodox Christians the world over.” (quote from OCA News). It was thus logical for Archbishop Justinian to have been there. Finally, Metropolitan Kallistos not only participated in and keynoted the North American Conference of the Fellowship of Saints Alban and Sergius, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from SVOTS as well. What is interesting is not that the three hierarchs were there at the same time and concelebrated. The honorary doctorate awarded to Metropolitan Kallistos is also not unusual; is there really another living Orthodox churchman and theologian more famous and accomplished than the Metropolitan? However, the Russian award and its citation is very interesting and may be another chess move by Moscow in its current maneuvering with Constantinople.

  4. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    Not that it means anything, after all, this is the UN (which is becoming more and more inefficient as the years go by), but this was posted on FB today:

    OCA represented at ceremony marking the opening of the 66th UN General Assembly
    by Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) of All America and Canada on Tuesday, September 13, 2011 at 11:23am
    Metropolitan Jonah with UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon.

    His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, was among the religious leaders invited to attend ceremonies marking the opening of the 66th session of the United Nations’ General Assembly at the Church of the Holy Family here Monday, September 12, 2011.

    The ceremony was hosted by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

    For many years, the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, as well as representatives of other Orthodox Churches, have attended the annual event.

    Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, Titular Archbishop of Ostra, Apostolic Nuncio, presided at the ceremony.

    Metropolitan Jonah met and spoke with Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, UN General Secretary, and UN General Assembly President, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.

    Also attending were Archimandrite Christopher [Calin], Dean of Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, New York, NY; Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, Secretary to the Metropolitan, and Mr. Michael Zachariades, Assistant to the Metropolitan.

    • “Also attending were Archimandrite Christopher [Calin], Dean of Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, New York, NY; Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, Secretary to the Metropolitan, and Mr. Michael Zachariades, Assistant to the Metropolitan.”

      Oh my… Bp. Benjamin was not present at the UN to keep Met. Jonah from actually functioning as, you know, an Orthodox Primate? Tsk, tsk… no doubt this lack of oversight by the OCA Lavender Mafia will wreck havoc both within and without the OCA for many centuries to come.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Somebody better lock up the liquor cabinet.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I imagine that St Stokoe is feverishly penning a column along these lines: “Jonah’s Inner Circle are Planning to Take Over the United Nations: the Chilling Implications for Syosset.”

          • After Stokoe called Met. Jonah’s visit to Prague “fleeing the country”, I wouldn’t expect anything less.

            Mr. Drezhlo is taking his usual tack of reporting on an event while claiming it’s totally unimportant. This time, though, it comes with copious references to, of all things, butt-scratching.

            • Read It And Weep says

              Am I the only one that finds Stan Drezhlo’s rants against “konvertsy” the most amazing irony: he who konverted from a man to a so-called woman? Talk about a konvertsy.

              But seriously, Stan is really showing his unstable side more and more these days. He could look at the lilies of the field and somehow see gay bishops, clergy and konvertsy then turn it into a rant about right wingers, and pro-soviet nonsense (he recently said that Stalin wasn’t so bad) nah, he only murdered how many millions of Orthodox, but Papa Joe was really a nice guy, just misunderstood! Looney tunes.

              Reading his blog is like slowing down to look at an auto wreck on the highway. Best not to look and keep on driving. But don’t pass the jug while doing so!

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                “Konvertsy” is a non-word, or pseudo-word. It’s an oddity in the style of Carpatho-Pennsylvanian (“Ya callawalla plummera fixa po sinku”). The Russian word “konvert” denotes an envelope: not only postal envelope, but a sleeping bag, for instance. Its use by La or El Drezhlo seems be a twisted way of showing a kind of jealous contempt of those who became Orthodox as intelligent adults and may, disturbingly, know more about La or El Drezhlo’s faith than can be acknowledged.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                I’d call him the Howard Stern of Orthodoxy but that would be an insult to Howard Stern.

  5. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Here it is in a nutshell boys and girls in regards to the future of American Orthodox and the future (demise?) of the OCA’s autocephalacy. This exchange is between The National Herald and The Patriarchate of Moscow’s head of the External Affairs Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk:

    TNH: What is the position of the Patriarchate of Moscow on the issue of the Orthodox Diaspora?

    Hilarion: In the Russian Orthodox Church we believe that in the Diaspora it is possible to establish Canonical Orthodox Churches if there is agreement in the Orthodox populations of the particular countries. On this basis we granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America in 1970. But now the Orthodox churches are coming closer together and we are commonly decided that the granting of autocephaly should be a matter of Panorthodox concern and that Tomes of Autocephaly should be signed by all the Primates of All the Orthodox Churches. In fact we agreed on a different model from that which existed before. We also agreed to establish Episcopal Assemblies in the Diaspora to facilitate cooperation among the different jurisdictions.

    TNH: With this new decision are you saying that the Ecumenical Patriarchate no longer has the historical and canonical privilege of being the only one to grant Autocephaly?

    Hilarion: This seems to be the consensus of all the representatives of all the Orthodox churches, that autocephaly should be granted with the agreement of all the Orthodox Churches. It can be proclaimed by the Ecumenical Patriarch, but the Tome will be signed by all the Primates.

    And so it begins.

    Peter A. Papoutsis

  6. Dean Calvert says

    Dear Peter, George and others,

    I for one refuse to acquiesce to the idea that the status of our (OCA) autocephaly will be determined in Istanbul, Moscow, Bucharest, Athens or any other foreign capital.

    I grew up in the GOA, and witnessed first hand for 45 years the nonsense that comes along with Old World control. I see Pat. Kyrill as no different from the EP or any of the other Old World kleptocrats…they all see America as an ATM machine, one with political advantages attached to it.

    Our future will be determined right here in America. If we allow the EP or anyone else to call the shots..shame on us. Then we do not DESERVE autocephaly.

    Personally, they can all go pound sand as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care if NO ONE recognizes us. We’re here, and we’re not going away.

    Do we have problems? You bet. Is Met. Jonah perfect? No way. But the fact remains that ONLY the OCA contains the mechanism and administrative structure by which the problems can be corrected. It’s the only Orthodox jurisdiction in the country which can right itself. Not the Greeks. Not the Antiochians. And anyone silly enough to be waiting for the Episcopal Assembly to work is smoking something.

    We need to stop looking overseas for answers. We have the power in our own hands. Use it or lose it folks. We will either be faithful to the Great Commission in this country, or we will perish (and deservedly so).

    Best Regards,

    PS Nice blog George!!!

    PS PS And I think you are misreading the concelebration issue. Met. Kallistos pretty much does what he wants.

    • Personally, they can all go pound sand as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care if NO ONE recognizes us. We’re here, and we’re not going away.

      That is Protestantism. Sorry, but we don’t get to make up our own rules about what constitutes Orthodoxy. The only way we could justify cutting ourselves off from the rest of the Orthodox world is if the rest of the Orthodox world falls into heresy and refuses to repent. Metropolitan Hilarion and Metropolitan Jonah both have realistic interpretations of the Tomos that could actually lead to fulfillment of the stated purpose of the Tomos, which is to lead to administrative unity in the US.

      The hardcore interpretation of the Tomos is a fantasy, concocted by the same forces that bred Stokoe and the Stokovites. It has paralyzed the OCA’s relationship with most of the Orthodox world for over forty years. Furthermore, in the name of this autocephaly, they act as if they have no accountability whatsoever to the rest of the Orthodox world. You are welcome to sever yourself from the rest of the Church, but please, don’t try to take the OCA with you.

      • CodeNameYvette says

        Well said, Helga. Thank you.

        • Dean Calvert says

          Helga et al,

          I see….this is Protestantism eh?

          Well..that would sure be news to most of the autocephalous churches on the planet…all of whom, with few exceptions (Serbia, us so far) were deemed schismatic by the rest of the Orthodox world early in their history.

          So let’s see…when the EP withdrew recognition from the new Russian church in 1446, following the election of Metropolitan Jonah (tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor!), they should have folded eh?

          No, I am not a prisoner of any narrow OCA interpretation of the tomos. But I can read. And having grown up in the GOA, I tend to take that document a little more seriously than some I suppose.

          My reading of history also tells me this: Autocephaly is generally not an easy road. Russia was considered schismatic for 140 years. Even Greece was considered schismatic for 20 years following their autocephaly declaration.

          If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. But spare me the “Protestant” lectures.

          Metropolitan Philip was right about one thing: Autocephaly is generally not granted, it must be TAKEN.

          Sorry folks, but that’s 2000 years of history talking.

          Best Regards,

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Dean, I appreciate your pugnacious attitude. I also agree with the spirit behind it. As for your recital of the facts, you’re correct. In the end, autocephaly was taken, not granted about 95% of the time. The OCA’s was granted by our Mother Church so I think that stands for something.

            The difference now is that within the OCA (and most American Orthodoxy, ROCOR/MP excepted) there is a great dilution of Orthopraxy which we don’t often see because it’s gradual. You know, the frog in the boiling pot of water analogy. Concommitant with the weakening of Orthopraxy is the outright heretical views of the likes of Arida, et al who are piggy-backing along good old American tolerance. That’s the thing that frightens me, not whether we have pews or organs (mind you, I don’t like pews or organs but they can always be taken out, lessening of moral standards are usually forever).

            I mean, when Russia declarred autocephaly, or Serbia, Greece, etc., there was never any concern that the new daughter churches would legalize polygamy, introduce novel ecclesial practices (pews, organs), or otherwise overlook common sense. That this is happening right now in America and the West is cause for great conern right now.

          • No, I am not a prisoner of any narrow OCA interpretation of the tomos. But I can read.

            In that case, I suggest you read it. It’s clearly not meant to grant autocephaly in the way every other Orthodox church had been granted, which if given in the OCA’s case would have immediately rendered every other Orthodox church in the USA uncanonical. The MP actually granted it as a way of legitimizing their self-proclaimed “temporarily autonomous” diocese, and to try to help lead to eventual Orthodox unity in the USA. Met. Jonah was right when he said that the OCA’s ultimate vocation is to disappear. That’s fulfilling the real intention of the Tomos.

            It’s not “Protestant” to be considered schismatic by a few sees for a time, especially for the other party’s self-serving reasons, but it *is* Protestant to not even care if *anyone* recognizes you, which is precisely what you said. I know perfectly well that genuine autocephaly has always had to be taken, rather than granted, but the autocephaly the OCA was granted was not meant to be like that. Moscow knew perfectly well that the OCA was not all that was going on in North America, and not prepared to be *the* autocephalous church in America, only that it showed promise in having assembled several diverse traditions under one hiearchy, and might be able to lead the way to unity of all jurisdictions. They also knew it was not realistic to expect the Metropolia to return to being a non-self-ruling diocese under Moscow, since in 1970 only God knew how long the Moscow Patriarchate would have to endure the Communist yoke.

            Bear in mind that jurisdictional plurality is not just an American problem, it’s a problem in nearly every land outside the traditional Orthodox nations. What happens in America could determine the future of all of these so-called diaspora populations.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        Yes, Helga is quite right in that.. How does one say, “The Great Commission” in Greek? In Russian?
        It reflects a certain “take” on the end of Mark’s Gospel, does it not?
        However, I would not go so far as to say that the OCA’s relationship with most of the Orthodox world had been paralyzed at all, let alone for 40 years, although right now there are symptoms of atrophy which must be addressed. The only evidence of working any commission to fulfill. would be Mrs. Steve Brown’s blog. THAT is a commission: to go out into all the Church and investigate, make accountable, make transparent, accuse the sinners and follow and teach all the Best Practices which have been taught us even unto the end of the world and beyond.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Peter: As I read the interview with Met +Hilarion, I did not see where the autocephaly of the OCA is not in question. However I did see where the MP was seriously taking down the EP’s pretensions regarding authocephaly-recocgnition. I guess what he wants is that for all Old World patriarchates to sign the tomos. (I personally would be in favor of that.) +Hilarion leaves Moscow some wiggle room here, in that the principle of a Mother Church granting autocephaly is still to be upheld but in those cases where several “diasporas” exist then what you highlighted in bold-face would be the mechanism of granting autocephaly. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t see it as “either/or” but “both/and.”

          Dean: thanks for the kudos. Where I think you are wrong is in “all” the Old World patriarchates viewing America as an ATM machine. The offending word is “all.” Moscow doesn’t need America or its Church for financial aid. Granted, everybody else does. Indeed, within the next ten years Russia will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest exporter of oil (it’s already the world’s largest exporter of energy). I do agree with you though that only an authentic American Holy Synod will correct the problems of American Orthodoxy. However we won’t have an authentic “holy” synod until we get rid of a couple of bishops and do a rigorous house-cleaning at the central chancery. The level of back-stabbing and contempt for +Jonah displayed by these characters is nothing short of appalling.

          Helga: you are right. Extreme individualism within any American Orthodox Church is tantamount to Protestantism. The way around it though is not semi-autonomy, autonomy, or some type of dependency upon an Old World patriarchate. The answer is very simple IMHO: real monasticism, way more bishops who are drawn from a robust, traditionalist monastic presence, more compact dioceses, godly laymen who are in tune with Orthopraxy (and thus eligible for episcopal election), and continued, close, fraternal ties with like-minded individuals from overseas. On the plane of brothers however, not subordinates. +Jonah is an exemplar in this regard in that he’s an American who studied in America but received monastic training in Russia.

          Otherwise, not only will the OCA’s autocephaly wither, but it will deserve to. The worst possible scenario for American Orthodoxy would be for there to be an ecclesial body which is indistinguishable from ECUSA and is Laodicean in its adherence to Tradition.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            I guess the question I have is that was autocepahlacy always granted by the EP in the past? I actually agree with what Met Hiliarion said. I would like some clarification on this point. Thanks.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Peter, back in the 6th century (I believe) Patriarch Peter the Fuller of Antioch granted autocephaly to the Georgian church. There was no dust-up or to-do about it. And of course Cyprus was granted autocephaly from Antioch by the 2nd Ecumenical Council. Also C’pole and Jerusalem were granted autocephaly from the metropolias of Herakleia and Caesaria, respectively.

              The majority of churches however were granted autocephaly by C’pole. Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, etc. I’m thinking Romania was granted autocephaly by Serbia (but I may be wrong). Russia granted autocephaly to Czech/Slovak, Poland, and autonomy to Japan.

              It’d be great if there was a standardized mechanism. The Episcopal Assembly may turn out to be this mechanism in spite of itself. I say “in spite” because I don’t think the EA was designed with good intent but was merely a ruse by most Old World patriarchates to frustrate unity and further autocephaly. I personally hope to be wrong but we in the OCL pretty much heard something to this effect last year in Feb in Houston when Fr Mark Arey came to placate us. He told us that at the end of the day, after the convocation of the ever-chimerical “Great and Holy Council” a united American church may have “semi-autonomy” or perhaps even “real autonomy.” At that point a lot of us wanted to slit our wrists. Fortunately, I had a free airline ticket so I wasn’t out any money and I got to spend some time with my in-laws, which is always good.


              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Hi George:

                My thought is that if the EA does not do something in a concrete and canonical nature then if this truly was a ruse will be exposed and EA and the EP run a very big risk of being exposed and confidence being completely lost. If Fr. Mark came to the OCL that tells me that the OCL has the muscle to back up its wishes, which in the long run are to establish a canonical American Church, but you revelaed it when you stated that Fr. Mark said “semi-autonomy.”

                The other Orthodox Churches know that the situation here in America is uncanonical. No one can disagree with this. But will the American Church be “Semi” or “Fully” autonomous, and if “Semi” under who?

                I really do not think the EP and the MP are that far apart on striking a deal. A deal that maybe the OCL can barter to the advantage of the American Orthodox. I do not know. But things are being done and worked out behind the scenes between the MP and the EP and Met. Jonah is or was gett the OCA ready for it.

                As for the EP and his connections with America, as long as the Archons and leadership 100 exist the EP will get his share. Not what he is getting now, but he will get paid. The real question is how will the MP get its share? Its all about the money not the Gospel.


                • Dean Calvert says


                  Two thoughts.

                  1.) With the Greek govt in virtual default – the number one financier of the EP is being taken out of the picture. This may change things.

                  2.) Re: Semi- Autonomy – this is the status of the Church of Crete, and has been floated for at least 20 years as the preferred resolution for the American Church (preferred by the EP that is).

                  My question has always been this: if the roughly 200 churches of the Slovak Republic and the Czech lands can be independent, why should America be “semi autonomous?”

                  Best Regards

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says


                    I go back and forth on the issue of “Semi” and “Full” autonomy for one reason – The Present State of American Culture. Could a fully independent American Orthodox Church withstand the cultural forces at play in America?

                    The Catholics, with their strong centralized church structure is able to withstand not only the outside forces of sin but also those within its clergy ranks. The very decentralized Protestant Church has not been able to withstand those forces.

                    But then again maybe this is putting to much importance on centralized government and less trust in the Holy Spirit, which is what I do NOT want to do. So I do not know on this issue. Guidance would be greatly appriciated.


                    • Dean Calvert says


                      I can understand your ambivalence – greater minds than ours have tried and failed, let’s face it.

                      However, as I state below (in another post), I never cease to be amazed at the system of governance setup by the Church Fathers – locally elected bishops forming the core of strong dioceses, operating with a fair amount of local autonomy, yet grouped into local metropolitan areas or patriarchates. It is really an amazing system, designed to be “robust” in the best organizational sense of the word.

                      I’ve also thought for a long time that the environment in which the Church originally “grew up” in is really not so different than modern day USA. Think about it for a moment – the Eastern Empire was an economic colossus, always the economic core of the Roman Empire. There was one superpower on the planet – Nea Roma – the New Rome based in Constantinople.

                      Citizenship in that nation was of prime importance, not ethnic or tribal affiliation. The nation was essentially a meritocracy, where intelligence and acumen was recognized and rewarded.

                      The laity (in the East) were educated, literate in many cases, economically successful, and engaged in the Church. The currency of that nation was accepted round the world. The language of that nation (Greek) was the lingua franca – yet the Church was battling secularism and paganism at every turn.

                      It that REALLY so different than the environment today?

                      I guess that’s my roundabout way of saying that we can trust the system of governance bequeathed to us by the Church Fathers – as practiced during the first 15 centuries. It both allows all parties (lay, hierarchs, clergy) to contribute to the successful operation of the system, yet also leaves plenty of room for the operation of the Holy Spirit.

                      I think we’d have to go a long way to improve on it.

                      The real problem is that we are dealing not with the Church of the First 15 centuries, but with a bastardized, Turkish imposed version. In many ways we are still dealing with the hangover of the Ottoman occupation – monarchical hierarchs seeking to minimize the involvement of the laity; globe straddling jurisdictions (unheard of during the first 15 centuries. e.g. the catholicoi of Armenia and Georgia were setup to give them maximum autonomy as they resided outside the Empire); competitive ethnic “jurisdictions” (the Byzantines wouldn’t know what a “Greek” Orthodox was!!!).

                      All of the above were unheard of during the first 15 centuries – the Church Fathers would not have considered them Orthodox. All of these things were introduced into the Church by the Ottomans in an effort to destroy the Church – at a minimum to weaken the potential “fifth column” of Orthodox within the Ottoman Empire.

                      I hate to sound like a “Moonie”, but I think if you look closely, you will see that the tenets of the Church of the First 15 centuries are something we should aspire to, to go back to. I’m convinced they would work as well today as they did then.

                      Best Regards,

                    • Peter, you raise a VERY interesting point. It’s probably the most salient one which argues against full American autonomy (and by this I mean autocephaly). The only counter-argument I can muster against it on a purely administrative/secular level is that when I look at some of the overseas patriarchates, I’m not sure that the same spirit of decadence is not in play there as well.

                      It’s kind of like my experience growing up in the GOA. We deluded ourselves into thinking that because we continued to celebrate the services in Ecclesiastical Greek, unlike those silly RC’s with their guitar and mariachi masses, we were still being “faithful” to the Tradition of the Church. In reality, the modernist rot was able to work its way quite effectively into the various parishes under cover of our deluded self-confidence and triumphalism. As long as we wore foustanelles every Mar 25, everything was OK in other words.

                      As pessimistic as this sounds, I thank Dean for his corrective regarding the Holy Spirit. We can’t discount Him. Indeed, the growth of the Ephramite monasteries is a necessary corrective to the modernism of the GOA. If one believes that this is still Christ’s Church, then one could say that it is an inevitable consequence, given that our Lord is merciful and doesn’t want to see us go the way of Carthage, Hippo, Philadelphia, Bursa, etc.

                      I think that we see this same phenomenon at play in the OCA, with the recent election of +Jonah, +Michael, and +Matthias. As messy as this is and as unpleasant as it’s going to get, the election of monastic bishops is what is necessary to overturn the modernist rot found presently in the OCA because of the likes priests on the East Coast who don’t know the meaning of the word “marriage” and whether it is “pre-lapsarian” or “post-lapsarian.”

                • Peter, very perceptive as usual. My only quibble with your analysis is that Moscow doesn’t “its share.” It’s doing ok on its own.

            • Dean Calvert says


              The term “granting” (of autocephaly) is extraordinarily misleading.

              If you go look, you will see that in about 95% of the cases, the autocephaly was simply “recognized” by the EP, and generally long after the de facto autocephaly was declared. I’d be happy to give you dates church by church if that would help. You will find very few cases in which a church became autocephalous without being branded schismatic first, generally for quite a period of time.

              The Russian case is the most interesting – the Russians called a local synod, following the Council of Florence, and elected their own metropolitan. They sent the following letter to C’nople, but it arrived after the City had fallen:

              The letter is found in the book, The Byzantine Commonwealth, by Dimitri Obolensky.

              “We beseech your Sacred Majesty not to think that what we have done we did out of arrogance, nor to blame us for not writing to our Sovereignty beforehand; we did this from dire necessity, not from pride or arrogance. In all things we hold to the ancient Orthodox faith transmitted to us, and so we shall continue to do until the end of time. And our Russian Church, the holy metropolitanate of Russia, requests and seeks the blessing of the holy, oecumenical, catholic, and apostolic church of St. Sophia, the Wisdom of God, and is obedient to her in all things according to the ancient faith; and our father, the Lord Iona, metropolitan of Kiev and all Russia, likewise requests from her all manner of blessing and union, except for the present recently appeared disagreements.”

              For the next 140 years, the Russian church was viewed as schismatic by C’nople.

              And, Helga, I’d assume the rest of the ancient patriarchates followed C’nople’s lead for most of that period – which would qualify the Russians under your definition of Protestant. (“but it *is* Protestant to not even care if *anyone* recognizes you, which is precisely what you said.”). Of course at that time all of the ancient patriarchates were being controlled from the Porte, and therefore by the EP.

              Folks, you need to get over the idea that there is some system by which a church “matriculates” to autocephaly. The normal progression, as history will show, is 1.) that autocephaly is generally declared 2.) the mother church almost always declares the daughter church as schismatic and 3.) sometime in the future, the Mother Church relents.

              That’s about as much of a system as there is. And, as I said, the idea of the EP “granting” anything is a misnomer. It’s much more generally an “after the fact” recognition of reality.

              Hope this helps.

              Best Regards,

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Dean its not that I disagree with you, but as the saying goes the Devil is in the details. Things like this are rarely as clear cut from one perspective or another. I would like to read a good history of the granting, recognizing, or whatever of autocephalacy within the context of the Orthodox Church and how outside forces like Communisim, the Ottoman Turkish conquest of Asia Minor, etc., affected it.

                For example the Church of Greece separated from the EP because the Church of Greece would not have a Turkish Citizen and a Turkish Controlled EP control its newly independent nation. So the EP may not have granted/recognized the Church of Greece’s autonomy but then again maybe it wanted to but could not, or at the time did not want to. I do not know.

                As for the Orthodox Churches in the Slavic World the great impact of communisim separated the ROC-MP from the ROCOR. Further what role, if any, did communisim play in the ROC-MP granting the 1970 Tomos of Autocephalacy? Again, I do not know, but would love to read about it.

                The biggest thing I want people to understand that the “Mechanisim” for autocephalacy may not have been pure aultruistic motives but political motives. Look at the Orthodox Church of Macedonia. The Church of Greece, Serbia and I believe Bulgaria will not recognize her even though there is nothing heretical about her! This lack of recognition is a purely political move.

                So I guess I am trying to dig deeper as to the real motives behind autocephalcy within the history of the Orthodox Church.

                However, to say to the other Orthodox Churches to just go pound sand is wrong. Not even the OCL does that and never did that, but attempts to work within canonical Orthodoxy. It is very unfortunate that a “us” versus “them” mentality has grown. I do not subscribe to it. The GOA was and still is beholden to its rich donors and its allegiance to the EP at the expence of the Gospel of Christ. My allegence is also to the EP, but NOT at the expence of the Gospel or its imaginations to papalism.

                The same kind of albatross seems to hanging around the neck of the OCA at its undying allegianace to its 1970 Tomos of Autocephalacy. It is actually a good thing the Met. Jonah is NOT a slave to the Tomos, but to the Gosple of Christ.

                Also, the Genuine Greek Orthodox Metropolis of America, a Greek Old Calendarist Church, told the main “World” Orthodox Church to go pound sand as well. Each side thinks it is right, and each side is less because it is not in communion with the other. No thank you. Schism is NOT a good thing and never is unless a true heresy threatens the church. Autocephalacy is NOT a heresy, but an administrative issue with monetary issues attached to it.

                We keep talking no matter what.


                • Dean Calvert says


                  There’s a particular time period which I’ve always found to be fascinating…and I think illuminates the real motivations behind autocephaly extraordinarily well. That is the Middle Ages, looking particularly at the first and second Bulgarian kingdoms as well as the Serbian church of that time. You can get a real sense of what happened in the same Obelenski book that i cited before (the Byzantine Commonwealth).

                  Aside from the normal motivations, which are generally political (leaders recognized long ago that the Church is too important an institution to be left under the control of foreigners) – what you will find uniquely in this period are churches which rose to independence, and then FELL – being reincorporated BACK into THE EP – as the fortunes of the home nation declined.

                  This happened on two different occasions in both countries – the most recent occurring following the Ottoman conquest of the area. It frankly blew my mind to read that both the Serbian and Bulgarian churches were forcibly re-integrated, subsumed back into the control of the ecumenical patriarchate following the Turkish conquest. Obolenski’s book provides actual letters from Greek metropolitans who were assigned to dioceses in Bulgaria. The contempt that they had for their parishioners was palpable.

                  I have read that the resentment toward the EP and the Greeks was so great in those two nations, that neither country assisted the Greeks in 1821 as a result. The EP, by the way, attempted to pursue a policy of re-hellenization in Bulgaria during that time period. (Sound familiar?)

                  In any case, i think the answers to the question you raise will be found in that time period. It’s a fascinating example of Orthodox realpolitik – one which strips away any pretense of religious motivations. By the way, the establishment of “autocephalous archdioceses” outside the boundaries of the Empire was generally an imperial, not patriarchal prerogative. Fascinating eh? The Byzantines understood very well the foreign policy implications of a “friendly” national church.

                  That said, perhaps you will forgive my overexuberance and poor choice of words “they can all pound sand”. I guess that describes the strength of my convictions, but certainly not my wishes.

                  Best Regards,

                  PS sure wish they would incorporate “autocephaly”into the spell check dictionary!

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    Thanks Dean. I actually have the Obelenski book – the Byzantine Commonwealth, and you are correct about the resentment felt by the Serbian and Bulgarian Churches towards the EP. In fact, it was this resentment, as well as the West’s belief in Roman Papalism that led to the Empire’s fall.

                    I readily admit this is an oversimplification as other relevent factors were also in play, especially on the part of the Franks wanting to destroy Eastern Rome’s claims to the Empirial Throne and Empire.

                    The issue of “Hellenization” among the Greeks is, I believe, a very real and strong left over from the time of Alexander the Great. We are talking centuries worth of Hellenization and the Triumpalism in Hellenism. We see this with the near defication the Greek Church grants to Alexander the Great as he spread Hellenism and laid the ground work for the emergence of the Gospel of Christ in a Hellenic, and NOT Judaic, cultural setting. This is why, again in my humble opinion, the Greek Old Testament (LXX) is venerated above the Hebrew. Albeit I understand the NT writers adherence to most of it, especially with Is. 7:14 in Matthew, the Greek expanded upon this to the point that they made a translation on par with the Hebrew original. Alot more goes into this, but this will suffice for now.

                    Then the NT being written in Greek, the Creed being written and understood in Greek terms, the Slavic language and Coptic language all based on Greek, etc., it puffs up the ol’ Greek ego to the point we say – Yes we should be in charge.

                    Not very humble or Christian from the Gospel’s point of view, but this is where the Greeks of the GOA are coming from. Now everybody wants their cultural ego stroked, as do I, but this is overboard and inhibiting from the perspective of spreading the Gospel. In fact, it has prohibited us for over 50 years if not more!

                    Truth be told as we look around us America and the West have already fallen morally. There is nothing Christian, again this is just me, about America anymore if there ever truly was. Where are the Orthodox Schools, the Orthodox Universities, the Orthodox Endowment funds, etc?

                    So our discussions may end up being moot because if we don’t get back to the Gospel and raising our Children in good solid Orthodox families nothing we are talking about will matter much. At a recent GOYA meeting in our church the number one question that the young people wanted to know was the Church’s stance on Same-Sex Marriage and other sex related issues. Now they were not asking to get information, but to find out why the Church has not changed? Why they Church was persecuting their Gay friends and not letting them marry? Now these are not toddlers or young kids, but mature enough to know the Church’s stance and why it has taken such a stance. Why did our priests not tell them? Why are they not told? Why do these issues have to come up in public school with their modernistic and atheistic agenda and then we are playing catch up and/or are on the defense?

                    This is the rot in the GOA, AOAA, ROCOR and, as we are seeing, in the OCA. Michael earlier stated that we the laity must want unity. He’s right. Because if we do not unite we are not going to lose the OCA or the GOA, or any of the jurisdictions. WE ARE GOING TO LOSE THE CHURCH? Orthodox Unity is not just an issue for discussion, but a necessity for the evangelization of America and the West! And to coordinate efforts to evangalize the rest of the world.


                    • Dean Calvert says


                      I couldn’t agree more. Now consider this – we (Greeks) have been Orthodox for probably 1800 years, conservatively. If you divide that by the average age of each generation (55 years) you get 33 – that is the number of generations we have been Orthodox.

                      So when we screw up here, and “lose the Church” as you accurately put it, we will be the first in 33 generations to do so. that’s quite a responsibility.

                      And your comment about Alexander the Great is spot on. I still remember coming home from Greek school the day they told us Christopher Columbus was really Greek. “Are they nuts?” I asked my parents.

                      Most importantly though, is your comment about the kids and their questions. Good question – why are we always playing catchup? Truth be told, I think it’s because of the emphasis on all the nonsense, much of it cultural, instead of being true descendants of Sts. Cyril Methodios and St Photios. Can you imagine any of them, or St John Chrysostom avoiding questions like that? I can’t.

                      While i live in Michigan, I spend much of my time in Chicago on business. When I’m there, I like to attend vespers at All Saints, Fr. Pat Reardon’s church. It never ceases to amaze me…in all the years I attended a GO Church, while I heard a LOT of Greek used in the service (BTW – what does “Antilavou” mean anyway?), I never once heard a priest stop to explain what Fr. Pat routinely does.

                      Fr. Pat will routinely read a passage from Scripture, and then say, “now in the original Greek it is even more emphatic…xxx” and go on to explain what both the Greek and even the Hebrew words originally meant. When placed in that context, you are actually in a position to appreciate the Greek. Think about that for a moment…here’s this Irish, convert teaching us more about the use of the original Greek than the Greeks even know. How’s that for sad? And what would St Photios have to say about that I wonder?

                      A few years back, Abp Nathaniel (I’m now in the ROEA-OCA) said something i will never forget. He said, “Dean, if we don’t unite these jurisdictions, 25 years from now we are not going to have 15 jurisdictions…we are going to have 15 different DENOMINATIONS, each with their own quaint Eastern flavor.”

                      i guess that qualifies as “Losing the Church”.

                      I for one don’t want 33 generations of relatives looking down on me and saying, “Eh buffo…ti ekanes?”

                      You are absolutely correct – unity is an imperative for evangelization. And without that, we don’t need to be here do we?

                      Best Regards,

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Wow, Peter, as usual, powerful words.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      I think the very esteemed Dean Calvert could improve his message by putting these words, “on and off,” before “for probably 1800 years, or else by saying “some of us Greeks,” instead of “we Greeks.” Or?

                  • I generally agree with your read of history. Just wanted to add another factoid in support of your thesis. The conversion of the Bulgarian Kingdom to Christianity depended on the deal that Bulgarian Tsar Boris would get from Constantinople, as against Rome with whom he was also negotiating. Tsar Boris’ requirements were rather modest: autocephaly from the get go, and the use of Bulgarian language in services (hence a Bulgarian clergy)–a rather faithful implementation of the Great Commandment don’t you think, particularly striking because it was maintained by a pagan?

                    Regarding ecclesiology in general, the emphasis over the centuries has shifted to a top-down approach, but I would think that the general principle that a diocese is ontologically complete should be re-elevated to its former prominence. It is about time that we unshackled ourselves from the current system, and be happy with the loose confederacy that the Church initially was. Let each sovereign nation have its own church, regardless of provenance. As for the United States (and the Anglophone West in general), the people will vote with their feet and wallets.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Carl, I completely agree with you. The life of the Church is in its constituent dioceses. That’s one reason I’m against a strong-chancellor form of governance. It’s caused nothing but grief in the past and it’d be comical if it wasn’t pathetic that some want to go right back to it.

                    • Dean Calvert says


                      Your last paragraph is extremely important. One of the reasons that I have hope for the OCA is that it seems to be the only jurisdiction willing to support the establishment of strong dioceses, centered on real bishops.

                      Until we all begin to form around bishops, and until those bishops are locally elected, and sitting in synod, we will continue to have problems….verging on congregationalism….which is the real danger here.

                      I could not agree more…the formation of strong dioceses, headed by capable bishops is the essential buidling block of the church in this country.

                      Best Regards

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      I often pondered upon the old Chinese curse – “May you live in interesting times.” I wondered why is this a curse? I eventually realized it’s because it’s always a time or change and upheaval. A time when old ways of thinking and old institutions broke down and gave way to new ideas and structures. Mind you NOT better just new and different.

                      We are all in interesting times. The future is unclear and anxiety is running high. The one and only refuge I have always found is in prayer. In the years to come we should all pray for solace and peace, and definitely guidance. To find a way to live the Gospel better the next day as we hopefully did the day before.

                      Between work, kids, bills and just trying to be a good spouse and parent, I have found that if I do NOT make time for prayer that’s when I fail at all the rest.

                      So good night, God bless and don’t forget to light the oil lamp tonight and to say your prayers for you family, our country, our world and our Church.


                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Dean, there is an incongruity here. Yes, the OCA has strong dioceses for the present, but the Stokoites are taking us headlong into the past with their insistence on the Strong Chancellor form of government. If they think Kondratick was bad, wait til you see what’s coming! Bottom line: you can’t have a strong chancerly and independent dioceses. Either Syosset goes or the dioceses. Can’t have both.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Helga, historically true authcephally has been taken not granted and finally recognized centuries later. Unfortunately, when we already have a multitude of “Orthodox Churches” in this land–that is Protestantism. We don’t have a hierach who is in a position to proclaim the authocephally and enforce it so that the ones who refuse to accept it are the schismatics.

        It’s going to have to come from the ground up here-the laity demanding unity and freedom from foreign rule.

  7. Michael Bauman says

    There is a principal of governement that I believe is almost always true: The governed always have the type of government they want. Thus the majority of people living under a tryanny at one time wanted a tryanny. Of course the will and desire of the people can and does change.

    It is the same for the Church. We have the bishops and the synods we want. Until we as an Orthodox people decide we want something else, we will get more of the same. If we want saintly, God-directed, pastoral bishops, we must ourselves work on being that type of person (even if we are not eligible to be a bishop). If we want morally upright bishops, we must be morally upright ourselves.

    Americans mostly prefer some sort of protestant polity and have a general anathema to any sort of genuine hierarchy to which we HAVE to be obedient. Thus the chaos we see in the hierarchy here–they can’t be real bishops because that pissed off the rich people and those who prefer some form of ethnic nominalism. The minority who wants a more deeply Orthodox and traditional way of life and polity is often left to it own devices and subject, all too often, to snake oil salemen in pseudo-monastic garb.

    Met. Joseph of the Patriarchal Bulgarian archdiocese has said on more than one occasion that for anything to happen toward real Orthodox unity, all of the bishops involved in Ligonier would have to die (comparing it to the Israelites sourjourn in the desert after turning aside from the promised land to which Moses had led them.)

    I believe him to have been prophetic in this statement. We are in the desert now. There will be no unity until we are willing to take on the responsibility of unity.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Michael, far be it from me to second-guess +Joseph, I don’t see why it is necessary for the bishops involved in Ligonier to have to pass from the scene. My memories of Ligonier and the historical record show that the confreres there were enamored of each other and the prospect of American unity. It was Bp Vsevolod of the EP’s Ukrainian exarchate who went to the EP and screamed bloody murder, that that the bishops were going to unite and cut off all funding to the Old World that caused the present EP and the other Old World patriarchs to quash Ligonier.

      As far as your overall assessment though, that this Ortho-tribablism is what the majority (90%) here in America want, you are absolutely correct. I can never stop laughing at the annual “I Comnenus” games of the Archons and Leadership 100 types play when they grant themselves extinct titles like “Megas Skevophylax” because they gave $10K to some “metropolitan” for his Retreat Center and Barber College. Within the Antiochians, the white folks are holding back waiting to see if +Philip stabs them in the back again. And now that the Libertines within the OCA are doing their best to overturn tradition and shoot themselves in the head (I love your metaphor), I imagine that the remaining 10% who really want unity are willing to forget about it for the time being.

      As unfortunate as division is, at the very least it’s a safeguard against a united American Orthodox Church that has made its accommodation with the forces of modernism and secularism. How many times have we said it before (or at least heard it) that should the “X” jurisdiction go off the rails then we can always bail out and join “Y jurisdiction”?

      • Micahel Bauman says

        George, I have heard the oft repeated belief that disunity will keep ‘real’ Orthodox practice safe as there will always be a remnant to which we can flee. At best that belief is a comforting delusion. Even in our uncanonical state we are one through the sacramental grace of the Eucharist and the Apostolic succession. Also, we live and dwell in the same culture (despite our silly efforts to appear otherwise) that means that we face the same tempations and all too often sucumb to the same sins. However the major problem with the statement is the logical fallacy it contains: How can ‘real’ Orthodox practice be kept safe by acquiesing to a practice that is clearly unOrthodox, even heretical?

        The fact is we don’t want unity, because we would have to be obedient. We realize that there would then be no excuse for creating our own version the Church and trying to live in it. As it is now the Old World Patriarchs collect the rent and allow us to live out our fantasies.

        • Michael, what you say is right. However a case could be made we are actually practicing heresy at this present moment, in that we dare to share the Chalice but not the real estate. Since we’re very much worried about money and property, it would seem that we don’t really believe that what is contained in the Chalice is the very Body and Blood of Christ, otherwise we would repent of our sin of disunity.

          If so, then the overseas patriarchates are emboldening us in our division and since they are canonically ordained bishops, they will bear a greater share of condemnation when the time comes.

          Now follow me here: if on the other hand this indictment is egregious, then the present jurisdictional division is a safety valve. We can’t necessarily forego that possibility.

          In other words, if “not A, then B.” How to square the circle? Perhaps the interim period in which we share the Eucharist is only for a season, in much the same way that the Eucharist was shared between East and West for about 2 centuries after the Great Schism. It may be the Holy Spirit extending His Grace until repentance occurs. If not, then rupture will be necessary (albeit unfortunate).

  8. cynthia curran says

    Georgia in the 6th century, I’m uncertain of that since the Eastern Roman Empire didn’t border it. Yet, the trade routes probably went into Georgia.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Cynthia, Georgia was outside of the borders of the Roman Empire but though it was outside of the diocesan nature of things (by definition since “diocese” was a Roman legal subdivision) it was part of the See of Antioch.

  9. cynthia curran says

    I’m not certain about the pope as the empire’s fall in the west. The reconquered territoriality fell victim to the Lombards in Italy just three years after Justinian’s death. The Eastern Empire maintain control up to around 700 in central Italy in places like Ravenna and Rome. Constantnople of control southern lasted the longest a few places up to a 1000. The Franks were not involved heavily in Italy, maybe as late as the middle of the 8th century. Granted Justinian tried to use the Franks against the Ostergoths and the Franks betrayed him but the Franks were not the dominate Germanic group in Italy until much later. And Gaul was lost way back in the 5th century.. As for North Africia the moslems conquered a lot of that by at least 650 A.D. The Balkans were lost in the 6th century and regain a couple centuries later because the barbarian tribes in the North including a lot of Slavic people groups wanted something besides bribes. And the military force by the end of the 6th century according to Agathes, a Byzantine historian, was reduce form 300,000 to about 150,000 partly due to the Plague which first appeared in the middle of the 6th century. Also, in the early 7th the Persians prove a foe and the eastern provinces which were much more important had to be defended.

  10. Regarding the exchange between Dean Calvert, George and myself regarding the respective roles of dioceses and the local church, I believe the following considerations may be germane.

    – The OCA Statute is a good starting point as it conforms to both the concept of strong dioceses and canonical norms.
    – As a confederation of dioceses, the local church should have a central apparatus to coordinate and to run national institutions, which should be limited in number and scope.
    – In a situation where the local church has to operate as a not-for-profit organization, there is also a need to have national officers and bodies. Again, the OCA example is a good starting point.
    – There are challenges presented by such organizations:
    — The general rule is that a bureaucracy is successful if it can maintain or increase its budget. So, all central bodies, at diocesan or national levels, will have a tendency to resist giving up its resources and to actually grow.
    — The same goes to individuals; in any board-like situation, there will be at least one or more people who will assume power and authority, either because the rest are lazy, unconcerned, or incapable; ambition; or because situational requirement produces situational leaders whose personal authority spills over.
    – Finally, any diocesan or national organization must figure out how to operationalize the role of the laity. In this the OCA Statute is somewhat deficient.

    • Dean Calvert says


      I never cease to be amazed at the genius of the Church Fathers, setting the original Church up as they did, centered upon the local bishop, and operating with a large degree of autonomy. it’s amazing from an organizational standpoint, particularly given the period of it’s origin (normally considered to be a time of tyrants). It also never ceases to amaze me how shortsighted the Old World jurisdictions have been, both the Greek and now the AOCA, in undermining that structure, thru the use of “auxiliary” bishops, rather than full diocesan bishops.

      While I can appreciate that they (the Old World hierarchs) might think that this increases their control – in fact it simply serves to undermine and retard the progress of the Church, by the imposition of bishops deprived of the legitimacy which accompanies local election, and the concomitant yet unintended rise in congregationalism which that breeds.

      Another great example, in my opinion, of the wisdom of “returning to the Church of the First 15 centuries”.

      I am increasingly convinced that the environment in which the Church began is not so different than that of today.

      Just my opinion.

      Best Regards,

      • Dean–I am enjoying our exploration. I offer the following considerations that might be germane.

        Whenever you have people in charge, there is always a question of how they will exercise the power that they have. I think that Lord Acton’s adage is always applicable, whether we are talking about a priest, bishop, powerful lay person or even a chancellor. Therefore, the dilution of power is always desirable, whether that happens by assigning to various folks certain areas of competence and/or by assigning absolute power to a group that must operate by some rule (majority, super majority or consensus).

        This model is of course not realistic in any field that requires decisive and quick action–like public safety, hospital emergency and operating rooms, or the military. However, in the case of the Church, Canon 34 is really the ideal way to ensure strong dioceses, minimize collateral damage by bad bishops, and ensure harmony across the local church in those limited areas that should be the purview of the entire local church. As Father Alexander Schmemann said, the Church is indeed hierarchical. But, I would add that in this day and age, She cannot afford to be governed by monarchical hierarchs.

        The synodal system reduces the chances that a Chancellor or a Metropolitan will cause lasting harm. The odds of preventing such an outcome gets better if there are other checks and balances; for example, the enforced use of standard accounting practices, personnel policies, etc., and separating responsibilities between different individuals and bodies.

        Of course, as with anything, the more you organize to minimize damage, the less is the freedom of operation for any given leader or body. I think that the restriction affects mainly the dimension of time, as an effective leader will build up and use personal authority and be able to build consensus in due time.

        However, organizations cannot rely solely on processes and structure, people, particularly those in leadership positions, also must be the right kind of persons. As Jack Kelly has famously said, hire a person of character who is committed to the mission, we can always train him. As you alluded to, the Holy Scriptures and Canons, written so many centuries before management theory, really do contain the core principles of church organization. Only if the Church today combines our ancient principles and precepts with modern techniques and principles that are in sync with the foundational ones.

        Best Regards, Carl

        • Alf Kentigern says

          I have a hard time finding the Holy Synod of the OCA Statute in the foundational Apostolic Canon 34. Under the statute the Holy Synod seems able to operate by majority rather than conciliarity, not the unanimity required by the canon for action by the first hierarch. But it now runs the central administration as if in the role of chief hierarch, without apparently that requirement for unanimity in the statute (please correct me if I’m wrong). To the extent this can be done under the statute by a majority of local bishops that also seems to run against the canon’s requirement for the blessing of the first hierarch for any significant projects by the local bishop, as well as the canon’s provision thatt he local bishop should focus on his own area. It potentially sets up a majority of local bishops on the Holy Synod (and perhaps the leadership of that majority) in a kind of “super bishop” role not provided for by the canon, as the ability to operate by a majorityof local bishops potentially can distort surface unanimity.This may need attention in terms of amendment to the statute, which thankfully is not set in stone but open to change to bring it into sync with the foundational principles that you cite well.

          • You have a great point. At first glance the synodal system does not seem to be in consonance with Canon 34. However, if you look at the core principles of the canon, IMHO you will find three of them taht applies across the board to any synodal or non-synodal organization. :

            1. Each bishop, even the bishop who fulfills a second role as the Metropolitan, is equal in the sense of the charisma that he receives at his consecration.

            2. Each diocesan bishop, to include the dual-hatted metropolitan, has a wide latitude in running his own diocese; checking in with the Metropolitan only if his actions would affect the larger entity (The larger entity would be the entity that the diocese belongs to–either a metropolis or a local church.)

            3. The Canon states that the bishop who is dual-hatted as the metropolitan cannot do anything without the agreement of his fellow bishops.

            BTW, here is the wording of the Canon as cited by the former Chancellor of the Antiochian Archdiocese. Charles Ajalat and his caveat:: ““The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent but neither let him (who is the first) do anything without the consent of all; for so there will be unanimity …“ This is, however, a general rule that without the existence of concord and love results in paralysis.

            For the rest of Mr Ajalat’s views on the subject please go to “”

            So, it seems to me that the Holy Synod is the periodic gathering of the diocesans of the Church to guide the Local Church; to act as Her “supreme canonical authority” as stated in the OCA Statute, which does not spell out the manner by which the Holy Synod will arrive at decisions, except in the case of proposal submitted by the All American Council: “All resolutions adopted by the Council shall be examined by the bishops at the end of each session (morning, afternoon, or evening). No resolutions shall be valid unless approved by a vote of at least a majority of the bishops attending the Council.”. However, while the Statute does not require unanimity, the consecration oath of each bishop requires him to adhere to all of the Holy Canons. In any case, the Holy Canons would trump the OCA Statute.

            It is obvious to me that some of the work of the Holy Synod would have to be arrived at by consensus, while others may not require consensus.In any case, adherence to the Canon 34 would require the Holy Synod to any deviation from consensus to have been arrived at by consensus What I just said is a but confusing even to me, so perhaps an example may be be useful: Let’s say that the staff or the Metropolitan Council presents a recommendation on a matter within the competency of the Holy Synod, say on the subject of “Appointment of committees on matters belonging to the competence of the Holy Synod.” The Holy Synod may decide by consensus on the creation of a committee but may also decide by consensus to approve by majority vote the appointment of the members of the committee. trying to say is that the Holy Synod does have within its power to decide which areas/actions require consensus and which ones may be decided upon differently. The problem as Mr Ajalat points out that without concord and love, the Holy Synod may be paralyzed.

            It seems to me that your POV hinges on the idea a different view of leadership than mine, one that would assign a greater role to the protos than I . I offer for your consideration a section from Mr Ajalat’s fine AOI essay (from the source I cited above:


            Church scholars in dealing with “ecclesiology” (doctrine of the Church) have described two major ways of looking at leadership in the Church. The first is called “universal ecclesiology”; the second, “eucharistic ecclesiology.”

            Simply stated, universal ecclesi­ology holds that the universal church is the sum of its parts, the local churches (Thus, 1 + 1 + 1 = 3). This type of thinking leads logically to an understanding that there must be one patriarch or Pope (both rooted in the meaning of “father”) heading this universal church on earth.

            Eucharistic ecclesiology, on the other hand, holds that each local eucharistic assembly (the local church celebrating the divine liturgy) under its bishop is the fullness of the Church. This does not mean that each local Church is isolated from the other churches. Rather, just as there is only one Eucharist, each local Church in its fullness is simultaneously also one with each other local Church. (1 + 1 + 1 = 1).

            In the understanding of eucharistic ecclesiology, it is still acknowledged that one Church may have a position of primacy or priority, as long as these terms are consonant with the idea of “presiding in love,” For example, were different Church leaders from different parts of the world and the faithful together, then, as now, it would be expected in terms of respect and honor out of love, that a particular bishop from a particular Church would preside over the eucharistic assembly or divine liturgy.’’ Having such order in the Church continues today through the dyptchs, a listing of the heads of autocephalous churches in order of honor, not rank.

            The Roman Catholic Church, however, centered on the fact that by the late first century the Church of Rome was recognized to have a position of primacy, first among equals. This development was legalistically transferred into a primacy of power or superior authority of the pope over other bishops. Ultimately the Roman Catholic Church developed the doctrine into the modern papacy including the very recent Roman Catholic dogma of papal infallibili­ty (Vatican 1, 1870). Orthodox understanding is that (1) there is one episcopacy in which all the bishops share, (2) the position of bishop is given by God’s grace, and (3) the three ranks of clergy (bish­op, presbyter [priest] and deacon) do not recognize a rank higher than bishop. Nor is there a rank of bishop to which some other bishops are subordinate in the sense of power.

            If the Roman Catholic Church was misled by universal ecclesiology, so in part was the Orthodox Church also misled. To be fair, the Orthodox Church, beginning in the mid-third century (as a result of the Roman Empire), has not implemented properly the early Church’s understanding of there being one episcopate. Sometimes we fail to create places where all bishops share equally, whether in one geographical area (a synod) or in various geographical areas throughout the world, even though in each of these instances there is in fact a bishop who is first among equals. Rather, the more recent view of many Orthodox Churches has been a partial turning away from eucharistic ecclesiology and a partial acceptance of universal ecclesiology.

            Thus, although in looking at the Church worldwide, Orthodox do not see it as the sum of the local churches, with a single head, often when they look at their own Patriarchate, they do see it as the sum of the churches within the Patriarchate, having a single head. The Patriarch is seen as having power or authority over other bishops in his synod, rather than to be the bishop presiding in love.

            Further, these Orthodox, whether it is consciously admitted or not, often appear to see the Church as a number of isolated Churches, generally along national borders (contrary to the historic ecclesiology of the Church), one in faith and worship, but only a “part” of the universal Church.

            The logical conclusion of this thinking is that just as their “autocephalous” or self-governing Churches have a primacy of power (rather than a first among equals) in their Synods, there must be a universal primacy in the same sense for the one Church — a papal view. But these Orthodox do stop the process at the “autocephalous” level and say serious decision making beyond that level must be accomplished not by a Pope or Patriarch for all Orthodox but by a pan-Orthodox Council.

            When there was one Empire, with the Emperor convening such councils, it was much easier for the Church to have pan-Orthodox councils. Perhaps, notwithstanding hopes for a pan-Orthodox Council by the year 2000, it is precisely the lack of agreement on what primacy means that accounts in some part for the fact that the Orthodox have not had an ecumenical council since 787 AD.”

            • Alf Kentigern says

              Thanks for the thoughtful and detailed response. To agree to disagree, I think that in some ways your view can reflect more the “universal church” model than the “eucharistic.” It puts 1 local diocese plus 1 local diocese + etc. together and then can be used to claim primacy for a leadership majority in the Holy Synod. To follow the Apostolic Canon, rather than inserting the Holy Synod in a statutory centralization, would involve more of a reciprocally overlapping role for local bishops and the Metropolitan, with more localism as well (rather than having a Synod majority or leadership group potentially running the central administration). But that’s imho for the little that’s worth!

              Here again is the text of the Canon (from the ANF translation that was easy to find online):

              “The bishops of every country ought to know who is the chief among them, and to esteem him as their head, and not to do any great thing without his consent; but every one to manage only the affairs that belong to his own parish, and the places subject to it. But let him not do anything without the consent of all; for it is by this means there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified by Christ, in the Holy Spirit. ”

              If the local bishop is to “manage only the affairs that belong to his own parish [diocese],” then how does this translate into a majority of local bishops running the central administration outside of the canon’s requirements regarding relations between the local bishops and the first hierarch?

              It seems to me that this could result in a more mechanistic and less personal centralization of power, rnot in terms of eucharistic conciliarity. The latter for me relates to a mystagogical sense of the Church as a spiritual family and the sense of hierarchy as a spiritual network that that involves. It doesn’t seem Roman Catholic if Canon 34 is followed–requiring that the first hierarch needs unanimous support for actions while the local bishops need his blessing for any major project (the canon doesn’t necessarily say one impinging on the larger Local Church but that’s implied perhaps; starting a mission for example might be considered as a matter for the larger Local Church, even if it was entirely intra-diocesan, but this is only requiring the kind of reciprocal support required in a different way of the first hierarch).

              The conciliar role you describe for the Synod as highest canonical authority indeed strikes me as more like that of an ecumenical council rather than governance of the Local Church. Such a council would have great latitude potentially for articulating tradition, and that perhaps is one reason why one hasn’t been called more recently, in relation to concern about potential damage to tradition if it were to be done the wrong way.

              Meanwhle the overlapping jurisdictions in the US currently don’t shape the same national sense of the Local Church (in my view) as in your description.

              But I’m happy to stand corrected on any or all of this!

              • I also deeply appreciate your thoughtful reply. I suppose that on this subject we may remain of two minds. I would just ask you one question: if the protos cannot “do anything without the consent of all,” is it that terribly important if there is or there is not a Holy Synod? Ples note, however, that there are other canons that spell out how often a Holy Synod meets, etc…

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Here is another question my wife and I pondered tonight. Is the Orthodox Church in America so riddled with modernism that it is too far gone? My wife stated that there will always be a Church, but will we want to attend?

        Also are we just too late to unite? Has the institutional rot in all Orthodox jurisdictions made Orthodox Unity vitally impossible?

        I have to give credit to my wife for these excellent questions.


        • If the question is instead: “How well the OCA (or any other jurisdiction) adheres to Orthodoxy?” the answer must be: it depends on where you are. My experience has been that, generally speaking, OCA churches in the South and west of the Mississippi, tend to be more traditional, more orthodox, more spiritually alive. I would venture to say that this is the case with most of the GOA and AOCA churches as well.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            I was talking about the enitre American Orthodox Church not just the OCA.

            • I think that modernism is not the only issue. Any kind of differentiation brings up the “us versus them” phenomenon. In my opinion, the pettiest such differentiations are (a) typicon differences, (b) ethnic distinction, and (c) the division of our laos into “cradles” and “converts.”

              What is modernism, anyway? On the one hand, we can postulate that it is all the isms that arose from Enlightenment. On the other hand, we can focus on more narrow issues that may have come up in the recent past. In any case, the two may be related anyway. However, rejection of the Enlightenment and its progeny is futile as the genie is out of the bottle. What we must do is to simply persevere and trust the Lord that His Church will act a a beacon in this age of post-modernism and attract all those who sincerely seek Him. I do not think that we can be the shining beacon if, instead of being His confident disciples, we become riddled with fear and all that flows from that.

            • V.Rev.Andrei Alexiev says

              Peter,I agree with much of what you write.I would be ready to switch to the Greek Old Calendarists,except for the fact that they themselves are split into many factions.Plus,I don’t accept their assertion that all of World Orthodoxy is without Grace.I certainly believe there may be error in much of World Orthodoxy and I’m no theologian.
              It seems that many Orthodox laypeople like yourself realise that the Church cannot continue the path of becoming just another denomination in the heterodox west.I serve a Serbian parish and in the course of the last 20 years,the West has thrown the Serbs under the bus in the face of Islamo-fascism.The Greek people,having had the experiance of the Turkish yoke,are understandably aprehensive.
              We have the Lord’s promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church.There is,however,no guarantee that the number of the faithful will be great in the end times.We must seek to preserve what we can for the sake of the faithful who remain.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                I agree as well father. I have more questions than answers many times. As always I leave it to God and place my faith in Him.


          • OCA churches in the South and west of the Mississippi, tend to be more traditional, more orthodox, more spiritually alive. I would venture to say that this is the case with most of the GOA and AOCA churches as well.

            Having lived coast to coast, north and south I have to say that is my observation as well.

            • Colette, I believe one reason for this is that the South is still largely Christian. We can’t ignore the fact that the outer culture buttresses the Church, even if it is not part of the Church per se.

              • George–I am going to shock you and agree with you. Don’t you think that the ratio of converts to cradles also plays a part?

                • “OCA churches in the South and west of the Mississippi, tend to be more traditional, more orthodox, more spiritually alive”.

                  I have not lived coast to coast but I have lived north to south on the east side of the Mississippi River in seven states. I have been at OCA, GOAA, and AOCANA churches in Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania that were as traditional, warm and spiritual as those in Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee.

                  I think all of you are way over generalizing.

  11. Read It And Weep says

    The sound of crickets…….. Carl. Bye.

    • As much as I generally disagree with Carl’s posts, I fail to see how your continued needling of him adds anything to the discussion (this is like, what – your second or third one in as many days?). Just ignore him if he is getting on your nerves.

  12. Read It And Weep says


    Not needling him, nor does he get under my skin. I just think he has discredited himself by his wanton inability to truly be sorry for his smear campaign against Fester. Thus, I think his comments here are not worth responding to. That’s my opinion, and of course others are free to disagree. But I do appreciate your chiding.