UPDATE JUNE 17, 6.00 PM (Nick Stamatakis): One day after we posted the response by one of our readers to AB Elpidophoros’ homily last Friday in St. Bartholomew’s Church – where the name day of the Patriarch was celebrated – the story had already attracted international attention… Orthochristian.com came out with a full report of the event and some analysis of the ramifications, which I suggest to read linking here…
A very well respected priest put it very bluntly to us: “We are dealing with a hostile takeover of our Church” – and he is right… The gang that dominates GOA (please do not have any doubts that they are a gang: they look like a gang, they act like a gang = they are a gang) have never shown any interest in leading the Church of America – except to milk it for all the money it has… For the last few months, their main emphasis daily is the “PAT. BARTHOLOMEW FOUNDATION” in order to achieve, as they explain it word for word “financial independence for the Constantinople Patriarchate”…
Well, let me list here the priorities of GOA: 1) Financial Independence for the Patriarchate, 2) Collecting more money ($95 million is not enough) to finish St.Nicholas!! 3) Collecting more money for the priests’ pension plan, 4) Collecting more money for the Holy Cross Hellenic College – on top of the $2.2 million annually given by the Greek government (but I heard a rumor recently that Mitsotakis will give no more than the money already given…)
Have any of you seen or heard anything spiritual (or at least not arrogant and self-centered – or not financial) coming out of this gang at GOA recently? Please enlighten me… Has any of you seen any signs that this gang of so-called priests and hierarchs are American or that they are willing to lead this American Church? Where was the Memorial Day Service for the millions of Americans who sacrificed their lives for this country and for world freedom? Is Pat. Bartolomew’s name day more important than Memorial Day? Shame on them!!
The photo below (from TNH) shows all the decadence of the Constantinople Patriarchate in celebrating the name day of Pat. Bartholomew. Thank God they did not put any birthday candles on his “name day cake”!… Have you ever seen ANY Orthodox hierarch celebrate his name day in such a secular, self-centered, and arrogant way? A bunch of corrupt actors took part in the celebration, including Met. Emmanuel of Chalcedon (formerly of France – sitting on the left) is in charge of Ukraine – but his only concern is how much money he will get from there every time he visits… The “Titanic” heads towards the iceberg with the orchestra playing… When the boat sinks please do not get any ideas to transfer its seat to DC… We had enough… More than enough!!
By Abba Photodosios
A proclamation that vexes a believer’s heart…
From the website of St. Bartholomew’s Church
For over twenty-five years, St. Bart’s [sic] has joyfully celebrated the LGBTQ+ Community during Pride Month. Declaring God’s love for all people has long been an important part of our mission as an Episcopal Church. We affirm and advocate for the LGBTQ+ Community—and all historically marginalized people—not because it is popular, but because it is what the Gospel calls us to do.
This year will be no exception to our well-established pattern. We plan on hosting a mix of virtual and in person events over the course of the coming weeks, and we hope you will join us for as many of them as you feel comfortable.
On Sunday, June 6, we will bless the Pride Flag after the 5 pm Eucharist, held in person in the Church. To attend the service, please register here. You may also arrive on the Church steps at 5:45 in order to participate in the outdoor blessing. Following the service, the Pride Flag will fly over Park Avenue for the remainder of the month.
From the Orthodox Observer
On June 11, 2021
Archbishop Elpidophoros to Celebrate the Feast Day of the Ecumenical Patriarch at Historic Saint Bartholomew Church in New York City
Excerpts from Archbishop Elpidophoros’ homily:
Today, in an ecumenical gesture worthy of the occasion, I have the special honor to preside over the Divine Service for the Patronal Feast of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, and Spiritual Father of Orthodox Christianity. This magnificent church dedicated to Saint Bartholomew is truly a precious architectural gem and artistic jewel of both Manhattan and the entire country.
Some may wonder: Why celebrate the Ecumenical Patriarch’s nameday in a church borrowed from another Christian tradition? My dear friends, it’s not only the name. Therefore, let me say this in reply: It is precisely because of the ecumenicity of the First Throne of Orthodoxy, and the faithful and inspiring ecumenical ministry of our Patriarch.
For this alone, this day is most fitting indeed, especially in a church that shares his heavenly patron, the Apostle Bartholomew!
As Orthodox Christians, we are not about exclusivity, but about authenticity. We say with the Lord Jesus Christ, “whoever is not against us is for us!” (Mark 9:40). We openly embrace those who differ from us, not to manifest any compromise, but to extend to others the love and acceptance of Christ.
We are very welcome here indeed, and the honor shown by our Episcopalian brothers and sisters to our Patriarch is a sign that bodes well for the future of the ecumenical movement. By this time, we all know what gulfs separate us. Perhaps, then, we should spend more time focusing on building bridges than on acknowledging walls.
For as the Lord said: “By this shall all people know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Therefore, this ecumenical commitment stands at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian (https://www.goarch.org/).
Horace, a Roman lyric poet, once warned his readers, “nihil admirari” (to be astonished at nothing). Unfortunately, Archbishop Elpidophoros too often exhibits a disquieting skill for astonishment, typically for the wrong reasons. Add to this the advice of Sirach (27:5), “The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had; so too does a man’s speech disclose the bent of his mind,” and we may ask, what’s wrong with this picture? Several things. A careful look at some of the Archbishop’s choice of words will suffice to expose what’s going on here:
“exclusivity” versus “authenticity;”
“build bridges” versus “acknowledging walls.”
The 3rd century Latin writer, Tertullian, in an effort to distinguish the conclusiveness of the Christian Gospel from the necessity for philosophical speculation, asked this pertinent question: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem.” Today, many centuries later, and having witnessed an unprecedented liturgical travesty in a New York parasynagogue, we are compelled to ask, “What has the Orthodox Church to do with Sodom and Gomorrah?”
The Archbishop refers to the Episcopalians as “our brothers and sisters” and claims that by welcoming us they offer a sign that, “bodes well for the ecumenical movement.” How so? Better yet, let’s ask His Eminence, how many red lines must the Episcopal church cross before we realize that, “they are not for us?” Yet, Archbishop Elpidophoros has the boldness to quote Mark 9:40 to justify his actions, “whoever is not against us is for us.” Is the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America unaware of the following:
In 1994 “sexual orientation” was added to the non-discrimination canons for ordination in the Episcopal Church. In 2009 the Episcopal Church passed a resolution stating that, “God’s call is open to all,” and eradicating discriminatory barriers to the election of bishops. However, the church had already consecrated its first openly gay bishop in 2003.
The Episcopal Church also approved transgender ordination at its 2012 General Convention. Women have been ordained priests and elected bishops in the Episcopal Church since 1974 (https://www.hrc.org/resources).
Episcopalians Approve Rite to Bless Same-Sex Unions (July 10, 2012, NYT)
He claims, “We openly embrace those who differ from us, not to manifest any compromise, but to extend to others the love and acceptance of Christ.”
Perhaps His Eminence’s use and understanding of the English language is wanting. Embrace defined: 1. hold (someone) closely in one’s arms, especially as a sign of affection. 2. accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.
Compromise: 1. settle a dispute by mutual concession. 2. accept standards that are lower than is desirable.
Tell us, venerable hierarch, how can we embrace what so manifestly opposes Orthodox moral teaching without suggesting “any compromise?” Will you charge us with the crime of exclusivity if we dare remind you of St. Paul’s injunction, “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Eph. 5:3-5)
Did your Episcopalian friends, in an act of compromise toward Orthodox sensitivities, remove the offensive rainbow flag for the duration of your liturgy? You claim that Orthodox Christians are not about exclusivity but about authenticity. If you really wanted to be “authentic” you might have remembered St. Paul’s call, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) And, was it not St. Paul who required the Corinthians to, “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (I Cor. 5:5)
While the Episcopalians remain true to their perverted exegesis of Christian morality, the Archbishop wants us to forget the walls that separate us and build bridges instead. This kind of sentimental drivel is useless when it comes to honest, genuine ecumenical dialogue. After all, who burnt the bridges that once connected the Episcopal church to authentic Christianity? Who keeps adding layer upon layer to the wall that separates them from us?
You speak, Archbishop, about love, yet you conveniently forget that our Lord Himself defines how the exercise of this preeminent virtue works in the life of a Christian: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:23) And, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:17-19)
We are known as His disciples, Your Eminence, by keeping His word. And, “You will know them by their fruits” (Mt. 7:16). Authentic love, as gift and fruit of the Spirit, always speaks the truth, never deceives, and points to Christ as “the Truth, the Way and the Life.” We confess Christ, as we know Him in the Gospel, the Mysteries, Tradition and teachings of His Church. Our Faith is a proclamation of the Lord, the Giver of Life, undistorted by heresy, schism and the graceless delusions of fallen human nature, that distort His message precisely because it is popular.
Finally, we cannot endure much more of the ecumenicity of the “First Throne” and its present occupant. The Orthodox Church throughout the oikoumene has been scandalized and alienated enough by the egregious mischief of a man whose throne is more important to him than the unity of the Church. The notion itself of a “First Throne,” a byzantine exaggeration like the title “Ecumenical,” should be alien to the Orthodox spirit of conciliarity. Indeed, history witnesses to the fact that Constantinople, “had no splendid traditions from the earliest age; it had none of the lustre of Apostolic origin; its dignity could not be compared with that of the old patriarchates, Rome, Alexandria, Antioch; it had nothing of the sacred associations of Jerusalem. A new see, in itself of no importance, its claims were pushed solely because of a coincidence that had nothing to do with the Church. It was only because of the presence of the Emperor and through his tyrannical policy that the Church of his city managed to usurp the first place among the Eastern Churches…” (The Orthodox Eastern Church, Adrian Fortesque, London, 1920, p. 31). Should we be surprised, then, when this same See, faithful to its historical/political foundations, collaborates today with foreign secular powers to affirm its “prominence” and champion its “authority”? A See, like those of Alexandria and Antioch, that continues to decline under the suffocating oppression of Islamic rule; a See that stands mute as a fish while its churches are changed into mosques. This is the See that challenges and disrupts the unity of the Orthodox world, while propagating unity with heretics and schismatics. The unity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church should be paramount in the hearts and minds of all our spiritual leaders. All others, including your Episcopalian friends, need to find the path to repentance and return before we can offer them the guarantee of unity in and with the Body of Christ.
It was for times and reckless deeds such as the transgression committed at “St. Bart’s” that our Lord gave the warning: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mk. 9:42)
The verse says “sea” but the Hudson River would do just fine.