Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Metropolitan's Speech

The "Purple Demons" are out in force.

Firstly, the much-embedded video:


I was there. My little one is the one you hear at the very beginning saying things like, "Wan blow out candulsh" and, looking at a priest, "¡Es Padre!" Needless to say, this talk has made quite a splash in online Orthodox circles. Andrea Elizabeth calls the speech "Revolutionary," and Father Gregory states he is "unimaginably proud" of Metropolitan JONAH.

Truth be told, I am rather disappointed in His Beatitude.

What could have been a helpful, passionless appeal came across as something akin to an American political stump speech, something I've already heard described as similar to what you might have heard in Boston circa 1770 or Charleston or Richmond circa 1860. This, I think, is the last thing we need, as the "debate" (if we want to call it that) is already wrought with misstatements; His Beatitude did not need to make any more.

Not helping matters is Rod Dreher's "Cruchy Con" piece in the Dallas Morning News, wherein he pretty much takes the stance of the kid in the playground who, upon seeing two angry boys starting to face off, throws his hands up and yells, "Fight! FIGHT!"

Well, thanks for that, Rod.

What is evident here is that the situation with regard to how to unify the Church jurisdictionally -- something I'm convinced must be done, as arguments for keeping jurisdictions separate still seem to run only on fear and suspicion of sheep-stealing via a more attractive archdiocese or what have you for this or that niche Orthodox group...a "healthy competition" that is anything but (I'm not making any friends with this post, am I?) -- is one without canonical precedent, with multiple patriarchates "setting up shop" separately without consulting one another. Consequently, we have multiple bishops in a single city, something that is truly ridiculous and a horrid witness.

Our first option would be to "go Balkan," wherein we declare our own autocephaly and union independently of the Mother Patriarchate(s), and said autocephaly is then reluctantly approved hundreds of years down the road as a tacit, de jure nod to a living, de facto Orthodox body.

Another option would be to "take two steps back, one step forward," at least for the time being, and form a synod of bishops with a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch as the "president" of said Metropolitan synod. The former idea was put forth by Metropolitan JONAH in his speech on Sunday, the other by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Dr. Elpidophoros Lambriniadis. What is ironic is that, in this document which Metropolitan JONAH wrote while still an abbot, he himself puts the latter idea forward as "the only way an ecumenical primacy could [actually] work." Food for thought.

Metropolitan JONAH, in my opinion, is absolutely correct in saying that there is, in fact, a living, Orthodox presence on this continent, and that it was planted here over 200 years ago through the prayers, the blood, and the perseverance of saints like Ss. Herman, Juvenaly, Tikhon, Peter the Aleut, John of San Francisco, Alexis Toth, and many others. If the EP tries to make a move to incorporate the bishops of North America, these saints and their work had best be recognized if he wants the "Amen" of the laity.

Metropolitan JONAH is also absolutely correct in saying that the local bishop, in his local diocese, with his local presbyters and local faithful, constitutes the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and that allegiance or submission to this or that Patriarch is not the sine qua non of Orthdoxy. He is absolutely correct in saying that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not the "sole criterion" of Orthodoxy, and that we do not need to be directly under his omophorion in order to be legitimately Orthodox.

But, as usual, it's not what you say, it's how you say it. Check that: in this case, what my Metropolitan (and current diocesan locum tenens) said is, in some cases, incorrect, in my opinion.

One of the most inflammatory lines in His Beatitude's speech was in response to the EP's model of unity here: "I would submit that if we wanted a pope we would be under the real one." This, to me, is so unfair that I am at a loss as to where to begin. The EP is not proclaiming himself to be infallible. He is not proclaiming that all other, universally-recognized-as-autocephalous Patriarchs are merely deriving their legitimacy from him. Were the Ecumenical Patriarch to slip into preaching clear, christological heresy, he would no longer be worthy of commemoration, and all other Orthodox would have as their duty the task of rejecting him as Patriarch.

Yet, just as St. Peter was the rock due to his person and to his confession, so the EP is the "first among equals" in a college of Patriarchs so long as he is not confessing heresy. He, along with the other Patriarchs, are the ones who together will decide what happens to the Church, and it is not unreasonable to think that having the EP at the helm of all the metropolitans within this country as a quick way to unify us jurisdictionally with the end result being "turning us loose" down the road (no doubt much too slowly for most Americans), as is his custom.

Metropolitan JONAH speaks much about self-determination and how we must be allowed to do this. I would question how Orthodox the idea of a Metropolitan (or Metropolitans) telling their Patriarchs what we must do is realistic. Metropolitan JONAH puts our being Orthodox and our being American on equal footing, and thus speaks in very similar terms to American talk of separation from the British throne and Confederate separation from Washington D.C. To talk of self-determiation via an enlightenment-era document written by deists is one thing, and a natural one, at that. To talk of self-determination as if it were a "right" within the Orthodox Church is quite another, and a dangerous one, at that. Talk of the "right" to govern ourselves turns Fr. Alexander Schmemman's talk against "having rights" around against us; I am not sure how someone who, for all his God-given, wonderful insight as a monastic and pastor, would only attend a pan-Orthodox great Synod as the leader of a metropolia of the Russian Orthodox Church (as many still see Metr. JONAH) could actually hope to effect said self-determination short of schism...something I'm not sure I'd follow him into and which I'm VERY sure he would not, in fact, go through with if push came to shove. Nevertheless, are we justified in extending the language of the myth of American exceptionalism even to the Church?

If our bishops would still be here locally, if they would still be the local bishops of thus and such a city, if they would still be (by and large) "homegrown," and if the situation of the EP's involvement is primarily that of administrative unity (as opposed to some dream of automatically bestowing legitimacy via his very presence in said synod), then local churches would still be preserved. When Archbishop DMITRI was my local diocesan bishop, having a Metropolitan over the synod of OCA bishops in no way diminished Vladyka's role as my local bishop. I fail to see how a synodal president from the Phanar must needs be a "foreign despot" as Metr. JONAH claims unnecessarily.

Indeed, people in this country from ACROD, from the GOA, from the Ukrainians under the EP, with whom I have spoken have all told me that their being under the omophorion of the EP has not resulted in their losing their ethnic customs in the slightest. They have not been thoroughly hellenized, they have not been made to speak Greek (the secretary of the EP stated in his talk that he himself did not consider this necessary, though the option should be open, he thought). Local languages -- Arabic, Ukrainian, Russain, etc -- have been preserved under the EP, not obliterated. Do we really believe Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW so obtuse as to automatically assume that he will do this with English, especially given his track record elsewhere? Does the fact that Holy Cross Seminary -- the very place the EP's archdiocese trains its clergy -- conducts services in at least 50% English (according to my contacts there) serve to show us that he is not obsessed with "All Greek, all the time"?

Given what I've written so far, it does seem as though I'm thoroughly on the side of the EP here. I'm not, though I wanted to lead off with the above due to all of the unadulterated praise heaped on our Metropolitan by my fellow members of the OCA (and others). As it stands, given the secretary's speech, it is obvious to many that the EP's take on Orthodoxy in America is unacceptable to many Americans. While an EP head to a US Metropolitan synod is indeed a feasible, non-lethal model for Orthodox jurisdictional unity and not to be dismissed out of hand, it needs to be said that this must not be the only model allowed for, as such comes dangerously close to the papal model wherein the EP is, in effect, the only one allowed to engage in planting foreign mission churches, or else, at a minimum, must give his blessings for other, apostolic sees to do so.

The Ochlophobist makes some good points (about half way down, in a bulleted list) regarding captiulation to western dress and liturgical style, moral ideals and church praxis as seen in many jurisdictions in the USA. It is interesting that the Secretary of the EP makes so much of the Greek Archdiocese when so many of the western innovations (pews, choir robes, horrible iconongraphy, shaved and collared priests, truncated liturgy and distrust of Ephramite monasteries in particular and monasticism in general) has not been avoided by being under the EP and would probably not be solved by a synod's being under the EP. Some would question at this point, "Well, what's wrong with SCOBA"? As an idea, nothing that I can see. But who to chair it, and why...I defer to the Ochlophobist's thoughts on this, linked to above.

As Andrea Elizabeth has said, "I also think it boils down to how autocephalous are the Churches that Moscow, and Antioch for that matter, granted that title to?...I do not know why Moscow would hand us over, if that is the case. To me it undermines their own authority." This is the main reason why I do not believe that such a reactionary speech was called for or even justifiable. To further Andrea's thoughts re:Patriarch KYRILL, do we really think for one moment that, come this June, Patriarch IGNATIUS IV of Antioch is just going to hand over an archdiocese that is every bit as profitable for him (God, it hurts to talk about the Church like this!) as the GOA is for the EP? That the Serbian patriarch will just acquiesce to giving up direct oversight of his flock? The Romanian his Romanians? The Bulgarian his Bulgarians? There is more than enough suspicion on the part of several of these Patriarchs who will be meeting -- some of whom, like the Georgian Patriarch, do commemorate Metr. JONAH -- that the EP comes close to a papal role at times. I personally think there's enough of a safeguard there to keep unwarranted and unjustified fears at bay, at least for now.

Regardless, whether we are jurisdictionally united under the EP or persist in our present jurisdictional madness, neither outcome makes us any less Christ's Church, and I, for one, intend to look forward to the soon-coming bells of Pascha, wherein the "purple demons" are sent back where they came from.

Just in time for them to come back for the Apostle's Fast in June. Lord, have mercy.


Anonymous said...

You are speaking utter nonsense.

Many years to Metropolitan Jonah! Many years!

The Ochlophobist said...

Many good points. I didn't notice the nonsense Anon refers to.

It was a political speech, and appeals to the Lockean side of American Orthodoxy I struggle to discern the right place of, if any right place.

Have you read the article by Fr. John Behr in Again Magazine in which he likens the current American situation to the multiple bishops in ancient Rome? It is above my pay grade to state with authority whether he is right or wrong on the issue, but he seems to be of the opinion that our situation has some historical precedent and is more complicated with regard to the canons than others suggest. I would love to know your thoughts on that article.

It can be read here: http://www.svots.edu/Faculty/Fr_John_Behr_Category/2006-oneinchrist/

We still have your llama. It cries out for your daughter every night, or at least I think it does; it speaks Spanish.

David Bryan said...


Well...thanks for that.

I'm noticing a trend wherein the responses in favor of the Metropolitan are emotional, "gut reaction" one-liners (not exclusively, of course, as cogent arguments for this stance can and should be made, though few have been). Arguments for the EP heading up a synod of present bishops and/or metropolitans, however, seems much more consistently grounded in reason.

These are generalizations, I hasten to repeat.


Thank you for the kind comment. This was one of those posts one holds one's breath while sending out into the blogosphere.

I have not read the article. I shall print and read it. Thank you.

And as for the llama...wifey will be in KY for a spell this summer at her brother's graduation; she might come down to pick it up. More as it develops.

Mimi said...

Real life llama? How cool is that?

Hopefully this doesn't sound pithy, because it is certainly not my intent, but I try to keep my head down and not get involved in juridictional issues. I like to think of the Psalm verse we quote during Presanctified, "I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me"

And, I grinned at the fact that your toddler is on the tape.

josh said...

Wow David,
thanks for the perspective - I appreciated it. Lord have mercy on the Church in North America.

James the Thickheaded said...

You've detailed a sense I've had, too, that the EP's legate (?) speech really is more of an opening move (and positive) if you try to take it that way. Like you point out... many react emotionally. I guess that's what happens in a church where you bind up many of your hopes... and we have to respect that, too... on both sides.

That said, I like MJ, too, and think highly of him... the tone was a little less polished then what I'd like... but then he's lived in cloister and maybe not played the politician. At least that was the way I heard it... and maybe it's only a trial balloon.

Speaking the truth and being candid works there I suspect better than it may in this Forum... and he'll "get it" given a chance. But then I think he may have underestimated the power of the internet in this???

The Ochlophobist said...

James is exactly right, methinks. The EP legate's speech was intentionally provacative - it was meant to call out immaturity. The EP, for all of its creative reading of canons, has a great deal of canonical and historical weight behind its office. The OCA does not. The EP can afford to have a mid-level spokesperson go over the top rhetorically - it does not mean much in the long run. The OCA, in the ecclesial-political chess match currently under way, cannot afford to have its Met go over the top in response. It points to an immaturity on the part of the OCA. EP 1, OCA 0. +JONAH may well be right that these foreign despots do not understand America. Fine. But they do understand a bit about pan-Orthodox political manuevering. For goodness sake, they have Byzantine in their blood.

ACROD is old calendar, and the EP has no problem with that. In the diaspora, the EP tends to be hands off if bills are paid.

Patriarch IGNATIUS IV of Antioch recently received a large sum of money from America. I think we have always intuited that if the old countries were going to broker a unity in North America, it would involve paying them off. Not all old countries have to agree to a deal initially -- three or four significant jurisdictions would force the hands of enough of the others as to make a move for a more or less functional administrative unity a plausibility. Most of the rest would be bought off in time.

Andrea Elizabeth said...

It's probably redundant for me to say that I'm less down on +Jonah and more down on the EP than you, but I like and respect you anyway. :)

If we're rating the two volleys, I'd say EP -1, +Jonah -1/2 +1 (which is down from a few days ago). But I was unhappy with the EP for several reasons before this (abortion, not respecting the OCA, his priority of engaging in world politics, and he's a little too cozy with the Pope for my comfort level). I don't support the position of the more extremist monks on Mt. Athos who would lay down in front of the supposed EP tank, but I would still probably prefer to worship in their Churches (if I were allowed in that God-Protected place) than his. Prefer, not demand, mind you.

I signed up to be OCA, not Goarch, but if a ROCOR Church were practical... no I'd miss my Church family. I believe I need to be saved where I am.

Anonymous said...

@David Bryan,

Your response to me above does have merit in the sense that I didn't bother to emphasize your misconceptions, the uncomplete knowledge of the issues you are hasty to produce and publish your attitude, and your ignorance of the facts.

That's because I don't think there is a chance you would actually hear my arguments, and didn't bother to complete the reading of your article after facing several of the above mentioned defficiences.

But here are SOME of my complaints:

1) OCA is either utocephalous, or it isn't autocephalous.

1.1) If it is autocephalous, OCA's primate (His Beatitude Jonah) was bound to react to the salves of insults and public denial of her autocephalia by "the Very Revered Secretary Archimandrite Mr. Fancy Tie"

1.2) If it isn't autocephalous, one needs to reason why she isn't, and the only reasoning we heard was the claim of EP that, apart from an Ecumenical Council, she is exclusively competent for territories outside existing autocephalous Churches (including granting autocephalia to them) on the grounds of the Canon 28 of 4th Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon).

1.2.1) The history showns us that the interpretation of the Canon 28 of the 4th Ecumenical council pronounced by EP is a novel one: Granting of autocephalia to the Patriarchate of Georgia by the Patriarchate of Antioch, although Georgia would match definition of C. 28 of the 4th Council as understood at present by EP Lack of jurisdiction of EP over Germany, near-Baltic countries and Scandinavia after Chalcedon but before 1054/1204 (i.e. the final separation of Rome), although these territories would match definition of C. 28 of the 4th Council as understood at present by EP The explicit comment of the most authoritative cannonist of the Orthodoxy, Balsamon, of the Canon 28 of the 4th Council, refuting explicitly present interpretation of the same The attempts of EP to place her novel interpretation on the agenda of various Orthodox gatherings - if there was a grounds in canons for the EP's interpretation, there would be no need to debate the application of the canon, regardless the fact that in that case EP would be about 2 centuries in delay for claiming the application of it regarding American continent.


One cannot convalidate one's birth. You are either born and do exist, or you aren't and don't.

Besides, EP never mentioned her intention to grant autocephalia to an American Church.

2) Your lecture to His Beatitude Jonah about the proper fashion of addressing a Patriarch by a Metropolitan is wrong, pathetic and ridiculous.

2.1) If OCA is autocephalous, both His Beatitude Jonah and His Most Divine All Hollines Bartholomew are of EQUAL STATUS - both are primates of an autocephalia. Just the same as the heads of the states - regardless one state is larger and more powerfull than another, head of states treat each other accordingly to their pertaining EQUAL STATUS.

2.2) If OCA isn't autocephalous, they aren't of the same status, bu in that case:

2.2.1) Either a non-existing OCA is part of EP, in which case EP should convene a Council and order to His Beatutide what to do (which we all know isn't the possibility)

2.2.2) Or a non-existing OCA isn't part of EP, in which case EP should address her "proposals" to the autocephalia to which OCA belongs (which we all know isn't the possibility, since MP, as Mother Church of OCA, granted her autocephalia already)

To study Metropolitans ans primates of autocephalias, I suggest you learn about autocephalous Cyprus, Czhech and Slovak Lands, as well as Jerusalem while she was not elevated to the status of Patriarchate but was autocephalous.

3) Getting situation in America (US? North America? the entire Continent?) more in line with the canons could be achieved by:

3.1) Bottom-up initiative, that was already achieved in SCOBA, by reaching the agreement to cease appointing bishops in the cities where an Orthodox bishop already exists. Gentleman's agreement was reached to do that upon repose of each of the present bishops. In that fashion, one would have cannonical order within decades, in an organic fashion, as ROCOR and MP healed their mutual wounds.

3.2) Top-down initiative, from an outside power, that we are seeing unveiling itself right now upon the push of EP. It is bound to cause nothing good, and could cause schism, particularly having in mind EP of the last 85 years is capable of producing nothing else but stress and schism within Orthodoxy (Greece, Jerusalem, Estonia, Ukraine...).

Don't bother to respond before you actually study the references I presented above. I have neither will nor time to debate with self-confident ignoramus whom is teaching others.

I do hope you will leave this comment published, unlike those miserable moderators at orthodoxchristianity.net, whom delete comments disguising their phanariotic madness they falsely present as Orthodoxy.


Anon a.k.a. Orthodoxlurker

Dixie said...

Thanks very much for your point of view...I was beginning to feel a bit lonely in my take on these things.

I have to admit I am not as well read up on these kinds of things as maybe I should be but I intentionally try to avoid them, especially during the Lenten season, so as not to be negatively influenced.

Nonetheless, I wasn't so successful this time! I did read that letter to the Seminary and I listened to Met. Jonah's homily. I am a member of a parish in the GOARCH. I can tell you every single time I have attended an event at the cathedral someone from Archons gets up and talks about the terrible conditions at the Patriachate in Constantinople and how the Turks are squeezing it out of existence and how stopping this absolutely must be our top priority. So when I read the infamous letter, I had a nagging suspicion this wasn't about correcting the errors of the Church but it was a political maneuver. If all the Orthodox Churches in the US are affliated with the EP then all the parishoners could put pressure on their gov't representatives to put pressure on the Turks so that they would back off and leave the EP alone. I hope that is just my skeptical American take on things and is not the case. Lord have mercy on me.

Without a doubt the jurisdictional issues in the US must be resolved...that begins with dialogue and it will conclude with humility.

The Ochlophobist said...


Had +JONAH merely gown down the list of canonical talking points you provide then this discusion would not be had. Of course he has made most of the points you mention before.

I think most or all who read this thread agree regarding the EP's ridiculous reading of 28. Even some folks I know who think the EP could and should make a real argument against the OCA are baffled by the EP's continued use of an argument which will never work and is dubious.

As the Met. of a Synod that claims (and is claimed to be by some) autocephalous, one would expect a serious defense of that autocephaly. The issue, for me anyway, is not +JONAH's take on 28 and so forth. The issues I take are twofold: first, his interpretation of American Orthodox history is incorrect. Second, he uses over the top contemporary paleo-conservative-esque/Lockean political rhetoric, as Reader David duly notes, in which he effectively relates the process of achieving Synodal unity to American political forms, and in doing so rhetorically equates notions of Synodal unity and "freedom" with Lockean notions of political freedom. This is problematic to say the least.

On the matter of history - I am preparing my own post on this issue for next week so I will not get into that in great detail here - only to say that it is a myth that there was administrative unity in the Russian Mission prior to the revolution, there were never 800 churches within it versus a couple dozen Greek hold outs elsewhere, the first English language priest ordained was not ordained by the Russians, after St. Raphael died, the Syrians went their own way; the Serbs, the Bulgarians, the Romanians, and so forth already had - St. Tikhon's desire to have a multi-ethnic Synod was due to the fact the he was well aware each ethnic group had gone its own way administratively (many of them from the first instance of arriving here), before he got here. This OCA line that there was unified Russian Mission and virtually no one else but a few stragglers, and then the metropolia, and the the OCA as the rightful heir of America, is simply a problematic interpretation. The Greeks (and others) could, at very least, argue that they have as much a right to grant autocephaly to their churches here as the Russians, and thus the Russian move was premature, though politically expedient. [The Russian activities in Alaska are too often presented as "Mission to America" and some such. There was not even a real mission there until Valaam got involved, and after that it is clear from primary sources that this mission was at first local and then perhaps regional in focus. One cannot grant historical grounds for the basis of continental autocephaly on the basis of the Russians in Alaska.] America, Mexico, and Canada make up a vast amount of land. That some group got to one corner first is irrelevant. What would be relevant is if one group had become the pervasive administrative body throughout these nations, which is what +JONAH states emphatically with regard to the Russian Mission. But the facts he uses are simply false, and the historical situation far more complicated and nuanced. There was never a time when the clear and unquestioned majority of Orthodox faithful in the United Stated were under the Russian Mission. There was never a time when all (or even virtually all) ordinations were under the Russian Mission. There was never a time when all episcopal oversight of Orthodox churches here was under the Russian Mission. Thus there are historical reasons for questioning Russia's right to grant one of her churches here autocephaly.

Furthermore, no one seems to answer the ROCOR phenomenon. The Patriarchal churches here are commemorating +JONAH now, and are said to be headed into the OCA. But what of ROCOR? If the MP today really believes in the OCA's autocephaly, then why has it not required ROCOR to enter the OCA, at least here in America and Canada where over half of ROCOR's parishes are? The answer is obvious. There would never have been a reunion if that were required. But the fact that it is not required, and the fact that the MP until recently distanced itself from the OCA (through the scandals) while having very warm relationships with ROCOR, suggests something. Grant you, from an OCA perspective one would focus on the fact that the MP cannot canonically retract a granting of autocephaly. But there is realpolitik involved here. If the MP were to retract its recognition, other Synods would follow, and the OCA would be in a very lonely spot in the Orthodox Church. That is one more reason that the "give me liberty or give me death" speech from +JONAH strikes me as a bit over the top, almost inviting a very bad situation.


I am not a fan of the E.P., and would prefer not to be under him. But my score is not based on popularity. That some mid-level EP bureaucrat not understand America is not really that notable. That the Met of the OCA not understand American Orthodox history, greatly exaggerate it in order to promote the two generation old propaganda of his own group (at very least the third largest in size in the U.S., in reality maybe smaller than that), that is telling. I say this as someone who attended and was a member of OCA churches for 15 years. I am thankful for the OCA, I love many in the OCA. My godfather is an OCA priest. Another OCA priest is the dearest man in the world to me. But the "official" OCA line concerning American Orthodox history is simply incorrect.

Andrea Elizabeth said...


I pray that Metropolitan Jonah will refine his message in a way that will win your trust. I get the feeling his feelings were hurt and he may have reacted by exaggerating or leaving out a few things.

I like Gabriel's new comment on your post. I would support going more toward a ROCOR style of worship, which he and Christopher seem to have hope that the OCA will go more toward. I hope so too.

And I think you are right that the Greek Archdiocese, if viewed by itself, as they usually do, could have been declared autocephalous too. It makes me wonder why they weren't, unless it's because of the alleged need of the EP for funds that would be lost if they were independent. I had thought that the Antiochians in America were also autocephalous, but I guess I misread one of their Church's statements.

Anonymous said...

@The Ochlophobist (a.k.a. David Bryan?)

It seems I was wrong about in assuming you wouldn't hear my arguments. On top of that I added a few words I regret now. Please forgive me, a sinner, for harsh words that might have offended you.

Regarding the subject, and after reading the entire article, I am offering the following observation that might contribute to your overall insight.

There are several issues that need to be taken into consideration SIMULTANEOUSLY:

1) Orthodoxy in America (while I am still not sure if we are talking about USofA, North America, or the entire Continent) and the need to adjust the jurisdictions in the territory to better suit the needs of Orthodox there, and to get more in line with the canons.

OCA being part of the issue one, I need to stress it sounds quite reasonable to me her primate speaks in favor of her existence, no matter if he exegerates a bit of history in favor of his story. Facts are not a matter of Faith, and he wouldn't be the first Orthodox primate to exegarate history in favor of his position.

The same goes for the alleged "give me freedom of give me death" flavor of his speech, as well as equation of political and church notions - he toned it as he seemed fit for the audience and the content of the message. It wasn't a theological study, and he wouldn't be the first Orthodox primate to do it.

2) The role, position, status and competence of Ecumenical Patriarch - I see there is no dispute between us here. It is obvious EP is exegarating her status and powers.

3) The entire can of worms in relation to the first two issues applied to the relations between "cradle" Orthodox nations and states in the "OLd Wolrd".

If EP is empowered to abolish an autocephalous Church in America, what would be the destiny of "small" Patriarchates/Autocephalias, e.g. Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech and Slovak Lands, Poland, etc, be today, and what tomorow? Do we have the reason to be cautions about EP's newly discovered universal jurisdiction? Notwithstanding to EP's grim realty in Turkey and the need for finance, why would, say, Serbs in America hand over our Churches, built by generations, to EP? Mind, we do have the historical experience with him lasting more than a millenium, so there is no need for us to listen explanation about the wonderful treatment of Ukrainian and other parishes in America by the EP. We know EP a bit better and remember longer than that.

4) The last one, but not of the least importance - Orthodoxy of EP isn't something that is undoubtfull. Observing EP's stance towards Roman Catholics during the last decades (not to mention Florence), one needs to be at least cautios. That one might have a different meaning to you, in the American Continent, where Orthodox and Roman Catholics are very similar and frendly, and us in the "Old World" where it could mean wars and tens of millions of dead.

I hope you might take some of the above into consideration in future.

Have a blessed Fast.

Anonymous said...

My message above left short of the point:

I think it would be excellent you make a clear distinction of the listed issues above (I've made therm four, although the third one is actually a bunch of themes) and provide the reasoning of your stance accordingly in your future posts.

Particularly, in reasoning the the need for making situation in America better (issue 1 above) steer clear from loose interpretation of the canons (issue 2 above) and mingling those two into one point. That would make your argument stronger.

The Ochlophobist said...


I have no quarrel with your points.

My greatest fear with regard to the EP, more than even its pro-abortion pro-EU apologetics, and its frequent hatred of monastics, is its infatuation for Roman Catholicism. If +JONAH can turn the OCA in a ROCOR direction more power to him. My fear of the OCA is based on the strong and longstanding modernist elements within the OCA, its long history of ecumenist nonsense, long support of what I consider to be rather dubious and imprudent dialogues with RCs here in North America, and so forth. I understand that this is only one side of the OCA, and even in some of the OCA's more famous personalities, one sees both this side and a very traditional Orthodox side. But if I had my druthers, I would rather not see jurisdictional unity under either the EP or the OCA or SCOBA. Lets wait ten years, and see if the Antiochians move in a direction toward a more traditional piety and praxis, see if the OCA goes in a more ROCOR direction, and so forth. I have heard that among young Greek clergy in the U.S. right now there is much more sympathy for the Ephraimites, for monasticism, and for traditional Orthodoxy. Imagine if +JONAH succeeds in moving the OCA, the Greeks turn toward a more serious, monastic Orthodoxy, the Antiochians who are so inclined are allowed to turn more in that direction, and so forth. Then in ten or twenty years there might be something to work with. But I do not see much substantial to work with now.

As for the canons, again I agree with you.

By the way, I am not Reader David. He and I have seperate blogs. My name is Owen White.

The Ochlophobist said...


Oh, and I forget to mention - God forgives, and I forgive. Please forgive me, a sinner.

Philippa said...

David Bryan, I am glad you wrote these thoughts for many are the same as mine. Like Dixie, I am glad I am not alone in them; however, was willing to stand alone if necessary.

What disappoints me is the 'tone' of what +Jonah said. It felt like he threw a gauntlet down in front of the EP saying, "I dare you to cross it!!"

Where is the charity of which he speaks in that? Most especially as we approach the most Holy Week of our Liturgical Calendar as Orthodox Christians?

The enemy loved that salvo I am sure.

I expected more from a monastic, but I am learning patience...and charity in all things.

David Bryan said...


Thanks for stating your case; you did so excellently. Wonderful to hear someone make their case against the EP's reading of Chalcedon 28 historically and theologically as you have.

I should say that I think my post makes it clear that I think Metropolitan Jonah has a clear case -- which you have outlined very well -- that he is, indeed, the head of an autocephalous Church. My point in mentioning his so-called inferior position to the EP in the Synod was due to said autocephaly not being recognized by some present. Regardless of the OCA's autocephaly (which is a fact), he would still "sit in the lower place" in a Pan-Orthodox Synod, were he even invited.

My problems, then, with Metropolitan JONAH's speech have nothing whatsoever to do with his claim to autocephaly, but rather his uncharitable tone in calling Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW names and his twisting of history. True, he wouldn't have been the first head of a church to do it, as you say, but that doesn't make it right or excusable, and I, frankly, expect more of a hieromonk and bishop.

I do not think that Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, or other Patriarchs would allow for a synodal decision saying that they could not, independently of the EP, establish autocephalous Churches. I would, however, concede to an idea that such autocephaly would need to be affirmed conciliarly instead of unilaterally by the Patriarch bestowing said autocephaly (regardless of whom said patriarch would be).