by Nick Stamatakis
Patriarch Bartholomew and the two archbishops of the GOC, Elpidophoros and Father Karloutsos, after having caused a huge social and religious rift first in the Ukraine and then in Greece, decided to transfer the Schism to America, by suddenly announcing the “award” to Metropolitan Epiphany of Kiev (head of the newly “autocephalous” Church – UOC) by the “Archons” of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
To begin with, why should we reward someone who worked harmoniously with former president Poroshenko (the latest corrupt ruler of Ukraine) in order to snatch churches and religious rights of other Orthodox churches in the country? The “appropriations” of parishes and churches belonging to the OUC of Metropolitan Onufriy (Moscow Patriarchate) were in most cases violent and stirred worldwide disgust. How could it be that the 25% of Orthodox faithful in the Ukraine superimpose their will on the 65-70% of the Orthodox followers of the Metropolitan Onufriy, who chose to stay under the spiritual guidance of Patriarch Cyril of Moscow? Only two of the 96 bishops/hierarchs under Onufriy voluntarily transferred to the newly autocephalous Church. (In case anyone needs proof of the proportional distribution of Orthodox faithful in the Ukraine please read this report on the celebration of St.Vladimir in Kiev last July – the photos are documenting it better than any statistics…)
In addition to the above, why would any truly Orthodox organization recognize and award a hierarch who regularly co-celebrates with Catholic and Unian clergy as if there is no issue at all (a report and photos here)? Is this the official policy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and, if the answer is yes, why it is not publicly announced? Finally, why would anyone recognize and reward a Metropolitan whose priests declared the Nazi soldiers who committed atrocities in WW II in the Galicia province of Ukraine as Saints?
If Patriarch Bartholomew wanted to amass wide approval in his decision on Ukrainian autocephaly, he should have directed UOC and Epiphany to coexist peacefully with other orthodox Churches in their country. Instead, he initially issued a wishful statement on “avoiding violence” and later he acted as a Pontius Pilate, in essence abdicating his spiritual duty. As a result, violence erupted and continues to this day. Thanks to the election of president Zelensky (who followed a neutral path and opened channels of communication with president Putin) we have avoided the worse.
We should ultimately judge the various actors in this case by “the company they keep”. Jeffrey Pyatt, the US Ambassador in Greece, a good friend of Patriarch Bartholomew, was supervising (along with the notoriously foul-mouthed Victoria Nuland) the 2014 execution-style assassinations by hired snipers in Kiev’s Maidan Square. Bartholomew himself issued his blessings to the Turkish invasion of NW Syria, where the Turks acted for one more time in their history as Turks and slaughtered innocent civilians. Finally, Bartholomew did not issue a “pip” of a statement regarding the beheadings and other atrocities against the Antiochean Orthodox Christians by the extreme Islamists in Syria. Are we then surprised that he has decided to spread the seed of conflict in American Orthodoxy by sending us Epiphany?
Epiphany was welcomed by Archbishop Elpidophoros who himself has proven to be more of a political operative and less of a priest. Didn’t he publish a whole book on the “geopolitical significance of the Ukraine”, as he was secretly preparing to assume his new role in New York? Publication of this book was paid for by the Archons, the same organization which issued the invitation/award to Epiphany… Even his most publicized religious diatribe (“Primus Sine Paribus”) has a clear political goal to promote… When I pointed to the above two examples of his secular leanings (last May), he quickly threw in a “half a pound of spirituality” by referring to his dubious relationship with St.Iakovos Tsalikis…
If anyone asks Elpidophoros about the issue, he would swiftly hide behind Bartholomew’s authority over our Church. How quickly everyone in our Church put their secular authority over their Christian duty, before the only leader we should all have, Jesus Christ! How easily they embark upon geopolitical adventures and how they forget their basic duty to spread love and humility among the faithful… They pretend to remember these true teachings only when they appear before their Church audience to quiet down the justified dissent and ask for more donations for useless material possessions which they advertise as “God’s work”…
I have already received numerous communications of very intense disagreement with Epiphany’s visit and what it truly means. Conflict is guaranteed to come not only from within the GOA but from other Orthodox Churches as well as the numerous Orthodox monasteries throughout the United States. As the various Orthodox denominations follow their “mother churches” across the oceans the Schism will quickly spread across our country: Goodbye forever to any plans for Orthodox Unity in America!…
And the monks and abbots have already indicated their will to claim their autonomy from the money-grabbing bunch leading the GOA currently. Even more, they seem to already have strong ties to Mount Athos, where the Orthodox “Schism” is already wide open and no power will be able to bridge anytime soon. No matter what objection anyone among us may have regarding the operation of our monasteries, we should all recognize that in moments like this our monasteries are bound to assume their traditional role as the true defenders of faith, the “Ark of Orthodoxy”. They will perform this role until the secular leadership of GOA is demolished under the gravity of their mistakes.
October 19, 2019, email@example.com