By Lawrence B. Wheeler
For what it’s worth, I believe that it is time for all of us in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOARCH) to leave our parishes. I myself will be gone by the end of the year. Most others will decide to stay, but it would behoove them to seek a change in leadership. The reasons that compel me and many people like me to leave are not trivial matters. In this article, I will list my primary reasons for leaving. These are not just subjective reasons, as though this problem were mine alone. Rather, they are objective reasons that should be persuasive enough to convince anyone that staying in the GOARCH is a fool’s errand at best or a matter of guilt by association at worst.
“To all things innovated and enacted contrary to the Church tradition, teaching, and institution of the holy and ever-memorable fathers, or to anything henceforth so enacted, ANATHEMA.”
Synodicon of the Holy Spirit
This may sound outrageous, but I submit that Patriarch Bartholomew has become a schismatic and a heretic. He didn’t always used to be one. In 1995, when Patriarch Bartholomew was still fresh on the throne, he made a statement that supported normative Orthodox church polity.
“This system of administration of the Church’s affairs, based on the joint responsibility and decentralization that our Orthodox Church applies, fundamentally explains the fact that as much as is humanly possible, she preserves the ancient tradition intact. Because, in the absence of centralized administration and responsibility, in order to introduce an innovation in teaching or praxis, this must be agreed upon by all the bishops…”
That was then, but times have changed.
Patriarch Bartholomew can now be called a heretic for one incontrovertible reason. His contention that the throne of the patriarchate of Constantinople is primus sine paribus violates Holy Tradition. When Rome seceded from the Orthodox Church a millennium ago, the see of Constantinople took first place on the diptychs. Since then, the whole Church has been content to honor the patriarch of that city as primus inter pares, i.e., “first amongst equals”.
Bartholomew’s recent contention, however, is an innovation that cannot pass muster with the wider Church. Orthodox Church polity is one of conciliarity. The episcopal hierarchs together rule the local churches in a spirit of collegiality, and the clergy and laity have a stake in their governance. The novel notion of primus sine paribus, i.e., that the patriarch of Constantinople is somehow “first without equal” is an offense to the canons that establish equality amongst Orthodox hierarchs and an insult to other patriarchs and prelates.
Bartholomew has been thirty years on his gilded throne. Over that long period of time, he has changed his tune. By fiat he has arrogated unto himself near-papal powers. He seems to think that he is an Eastern pope in a confederation of Churches that repudiates papism. As such a potentate, he mistakenly thinks that he represents the plenum of the Orthodox world when he naturally sidles up to the man who is everywhere called Pope: Francis of Rome. God hasten the day, of course, when the Roman Catholics will be once again reunited with the Orthodox Church. However, there are glaring disagreements between the two communions that simply cannot be overlooked in the process toward reunion. The first is the existence of the papacy itself. It’s a false claim that any one man can somehow consider himself to be the vicar of Christ, one who has hegemony over all the Christians in the world. That is Rome’s claim for itself, but such a claim is preposterous! We Orthodox don’t have a pope, and we don’t need anyone other than Jesus Christ himself as head of the worldwide Church.
Then there is the laundry list of the other mistaken dogmas and doctrines that prevent the reunion of the Roman Catholics with the true Catholic and Orthodox Church. Number one is the filioque clause in the Nicene creed, the erroneous statement that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. By unilaterally inserting the filioque into the Creed, the pope claimed an authority equivalent to that of an ecumenical council. There are other theological problems that simply must be solved before a true and honest unity can be declared between the two communions. Until then, any unity with Rome will be nothing more than a Potemkin village – all show and no substance. Constantinople may even be subordinated to a uniate position like the Eastern Catholics. It seems that Bartholomew is an old man in a hurry to enter into a union with Francis without counting the costs for his patriarchal see and, indeed, the entire Orthodox Church.
Patriarch Bartholomew is also a schismatic. He opened Pandora’s box in January of 2019 by illegally granting a tomos of autocephaly to a band of Ukrainian schismatics, and for appointing prelates who are nothing of the sort. He reaped the whirlwind by this act of defiance against Metropolitan Onuphry’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Countless people have suffered the loss of their precious parishes, and some have even suffered physical violence. What shepherd would do that to another shepherd’s sheep? Ukraine has long since ceased to be Constantinople’s bailiwick, but Bartholomew has gone meddling in its internal affairs anyway. As an American, I am ashamed that our own department of state has made use of the patriarch’s influence in Eastern Europe to prop up Ukraine as a bulwark against Russian geopolitical advances. Shame on us for breaching the wall that should have separated state from Church. Shame on Bartholomew for violating the canonical prohibition against extramural exertions of influence in a metropolis that was long ago – three and a third centuries ago – ceded to the oversight of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). Now the ROC, which boasts 75% of the world’s Orthodox population, may soon cease recognition of Constantinople. The Church hasn’t experienced such a schism since the great one in 1054.
Archbishop Elpidophoros, being a loyal son of Patriarch Bartholomew, is also a heretic and a schismatic in my view.
Here is the primary reason that Elpidophoros is a heretic. It was he who made the spurious argument for Constantinople’s supremacy in the Orthodox world. In a misguided essay in 2014, he stated his hypothesis that Istanbul’s throne is primus sine paribus. To back that up, he assumed God the Father’s antiquity and supremacy over the other two persons of the Holy Trinity in an attempt to apply that metaphor to the prime authority of the Constantinopolitan throne over other patriarchates and metropolises. It does not work. The Athanasian Creed makes it crystal clear that the three persons of the Holy Trinity are coeternal and coequal, so using that argument to justify Bartholomew’s ambitions falls flat on its face. To deny that is heresy of the first order. Furthermore, his shoddy arguments betray Elpidophoros’ incompetence as a theologian. When the archbishop made his debut at our parish two years ago, I queried him on his hypothesis that Constantinople is first without equal, on Bartholomew’s Eastern papacy, and on his intrusions into Ukraine against the integrity of Metropolitan Onuphry’s Church. Elpidophoros had a rebuttal for every challenge, of course.
“One must not join in prayer with heretics or schismatics.”
Canon XXXIII of Laodicia
Elpidophoros is a schismatic. The most glaring example of that was his scandalous decision to celebrate the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist during Pride Month of this year in a blatantly unOrthodox house of worship, i.e. St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. That was beyond the pale. What an abomination it was for him to place the holy antimins on the altar of a radical Protestant parish that not only tolerates the sexual licentiousness of the LGBTQ movement, but actually promotes it! As a cradle Episcopalian, a former Anglican priest, and a convert to Orthodoxy, I was utterly disgusted to read of such an abomination and to see him attempt to make nice with those who trample upon Biblical morality. Elpidophoros ill-advised stunt was an outrage.
In a previous blog post, I reported on my recent pilgrimage to Orthodox sites along the West Coast. Over the course of a month, I was fortunate to be welcomed into parishes and monasteries of various Orthodox jurisdictions. I sought the opinions of the clergy and faithful along my way. One priest commented that the misguided conduct of the patriarch and the archbishop did not take away from the benefit of the Eucharist. That sort of sloppy thinking doesn’t hold water. We are not a Congregational communion, where each parish stands on its own, independent of a hierarchy. We are the Catholic Church, in the original sense. It is essential that we understand the import of this doctrine of ours. I draw your attention to Archimandrite Cyprian’s statement themed: “What is the Church?”
1. The Church is the Assembly of the People of God for the celebration of the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist, wherein the local Church actually becomes and is revealed as the Body of Christ, as a Theandric organism, in which the Holy Trinity dwells. (Cf. Ephesians 4:5-6 and I Corinthians 10:15-16)
2. The visible center and head of the Eucharistic Assembly is the Bishop: It is he who leads the Assembly and preaches the word of God; it is he who offers the Eucharist, as an Icon of Christ, the Great High Priest, and as the one who presides in the place of God, according to St. Ignatios of Antioch. (Epistle to the Magnesians, VI.1)
3. In the early Church, only the Bishop offered the Divine Eucharist in each local Church; that is, there was only one Eucharist, and this was centered on the Bishop. (Epistle to the Magnesians, VII.2)
4. The Bishop, when he offers the Divine Eucharist, offers Christ in His wholeness, imparting the Holy Mysteries to the Faithful with his own hands; in ancient times, the People of God partook of Christ only from the living Icon of Christ, the Bishop. (St. Hippolytos of Rome, The Apostolic Tradition, 22)
5. Therefore, the Bishop not only embodies the local Church, but also expresses in time and space the Catholic Church, that is, the whole Church; for that which embodies Christ in His wholeness, and wherein one receives Christ in His wholeness, is that which embodies the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Wherever Jesus Christ is, says St. Ignatios, there is the Catholic Church. (St. Ignatios, Epistle to the Smyrnans, VIII.2)
6. For precisely this reason, when one is united with the Bishop in the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist, then he is also united with the Catholic Church. St. Cyprian of Carthage emphasizes this ecclesiological truth in the following striking terms: The Bishop is in the Church and the Church in the Bishop; and if one is not in communion with the Bishop, he is not in the Church.
We are one interconnected Body of Christ. The ordinations and the other sacraments of the Catholic Church flow from Christ through the bishop to the priest and the deacon. The principle of ex opere operato still applies. In other words, the efficacy of sacramental actions does not depend upon the moral uprightness of the celebrant of those sacraments. Nevertheless, there is a point at which the locus of sacramental validity, i.e., the bishop, once upon a time duly elevated to his office, has subsequently strayed so far from Tradition that the sacraments celebrated under his omophorion no longer have validity. Where and when that happens is impossible to tell unless the Church makes a declaration as to such. It is a thorny theological question indeed whether the sacraments of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese are still valid, led as the Church is by Bartholomew and Elpidophoros. That gives one reason for pause.
The bishop is the sine qua non of the Church. Without him, there can be no Church. Extrapolating from Archimandrite Cyprian’s definition of the Church and his high view of the episcopacy, I cannot help but find my spirit outside of the Church – or its Greek Orthodox expression in my country – for I cannot wholeheartedly embrace my bishops’ leadership of it. So, I find myself in a vexing conundrum. After all the water that has gone over the dam in the last three years, I am a sheep who no longer recognizes its shepherds’ voice, for I do not perceive in their words and actions the voice of our great and good shepherd, Christ himself. God forgive me if I am wrong, but since I cannot bring myself to honor our bishops, I cannot go on as a member of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. I have written to Abp. Elpidophoros to ask him why he did what he did at St. Bart’s. He has not answered me. I have dithered for months, hoping that he would repent, but since he has not it’s time for me to leave. And, since Pat. Bartholomew has recently finished his victory lap in our country without a hint of penitence, I have even more reason to leave. His arrogance astounds me.
I myself will sound arrogant to some. They may think that I should stay and pray. May they please note that I have not reached this conclusion hastily, but rather have tried to give the hierarchs every benefit of the doubt. In the 1980s and ’90s, I was an Anglican who was devastated by the heresy and rapid downfall of the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the ill effect that it had on the whole Anglican Communion. I was pushed out of TEC because I would not sign on to their immoral agenda. It broke my heart, but I had to leave. Others may have the stomach for what they now see the hierarchy doing to the Greek Orthodox Church in this country. It may sound like an exaggeration, but like a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, I find myself flinching at the outrageous claims and misguided actions of these two high-profile hierarchs, Bartholomew and Elpidophoros. Having seen what is plain for all to see, I for one am suspicious of every action that they take. For me to go on in submission to such heretical and schismatic bishops would be an act of continued support when, in truth, I no longer support them. I don’t want to gamble with my eternal salvation. What about you, dear reader?
When I became Orthodox, I committed myself to Holy Tradition. I am endeavoring to remain committed to that Tradition. I cannot in good conscience remain under the omophorion of Bartholomew and Elpidophoros for that reason. What is needed now is for the hierarchs outside of GOARCH to condemn Bartholomew and Elpidophoros for deviating from Tradition and to call upon them to renounce their heresies and schisms.
Finally, to the affairs of my own parish. I sit on the parish council, of which I am the secretary. For the last two years, I have been in the uncomfortable position of cooperating in the shutting down and subsequent reopening of the parish during the current pandemic. I witnessed the utter capitulation of Metropolitan Gerasimos, and our priest and council to the strictest of all health mandates set forth by the ecclesiastical, state or local authorities. For several weeks in the spring and summer of last year our people were denied access to the life-giving Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ simply because attending the Divine Liturgy was a perceived threat to their health. That’s double-speak. How can the prime agent of Life make one sick, unless it is not received in the proper disposition? Even now, with the spread of the viral variants, there are still cumbersome protocols in place that have the net effect of obstacles in the way of worship. These things ought not to be. How long will this go on?
In so doing, our parish leadership has strained a gnat to swallow a camel. In their ostensibly responsible effort to protect the physical health of the people – or simply to avoid the liability of lawsuits – they have denied spiritual health to the people by restricting reception of the medicine of immortality. Auwe! My own objections have been ignored by the worldly mindset of the other people who sit on the parish council and the docile nature of our parish priest. In GOARCH, it doesn’t take much provocation for the priest to mysteriously disappear overnight, so he has been cautious. The sheep have been scattered and their shepherd is tasked with gathering them back into the sheep pen. Our attendance has been decimated. Who knows if it will ever recover?
Orthodoxy is the Faith of the martyrs. The martyrs were those who stared down death so that they could testify to their faith in the one true God and his Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They received a crown for their loyalty unto death. What about us? It’s embarrassing to think that, although Orthodox Christians should know better, there are few who are willing to stand up in the face of this lunacy and call it what it is. They need to oppose the error and take the appropriate action to save themselves and their families. Those who should know better but decide to relax and stay where they are will be in danger of being as spiritually compromised as the hierarchs that they follow.
I am one of the fortunate believers who don’t have to retreat to the wilderness to maintain their Orthodox integrity. There is another parish not far away that has taken a bolder stance to maintain the normative Orthodox life in the midst of the pandemic. I can leave my parish and go there. Not all laymen have that option, since their Greek Orthodox parish may be the only one for dozens of miles around. To the laymen who feel trapped I say, Don’t give up hope! Reach out to others. Reach out to hierarchs outside of GOARCH and implore them for help and spiritual care. Surely God will hear your cries.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Mt. 7: 13 & 14
Mr. Wheeler it isn’t just you who’s suffered PTSD via your military service,
it’s also we the faithful suffering PTSD from these feckless leaders of Istanbul.
We must separate from Phanar.
Mine was an analogy, only. The PTSD that you and I are suffering from derives from the same source.
If only the guardians of the Faith world actually guard the Faith we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
This article is clear concise powerful testament to what’s happening to the GOA and the lives of the faithful caught in the web of corrupt leadership. Whew!
A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. The world is being robbed of its wealth, its health, its remembrance of God. A one world religion is in the making with Rome as the head of this false religion system. The ultimate blasphemy is taking place: the harlot, the global religion is forming and is supported by the beast. A veil has been cast over all of us by Satan.
Everything is inverted. Bad is good. Boys are girls, elite make the laws, farms are being destroyed, experimental shots are forced into people’s arms globally – a plague has been cast upon us. We are told we will own nothing and be happy while forcefully connected to artificial intelligence. Children are being psychologically abused and people think wearing a mask and having their nostrils scraped repeatedly is normal.
The antichrist is waging war against Christ.
I do not see a way out of the tribulation we are entering. It gets worse each day. We are going to face much suffering. Many of us have awakened to this fact. I cannot enter any Greek Orthodox Church or any other Orthodox Church right now. I am in shock as to what is taking place all over the world. The final straw was seeing a masked priest with surgical gloves on, walking on dots in church six feet apart, (maybe 5 people in attendance), having a temperature gun pointed to my forehead upon entering church, and no one taking Communion because they were afraid!
Humanity has gone mad. The hierarchy has lost its way, and darkness is enveloping the GOA rapidly. My God, we are lost. I stay to myself to maintain my sanity.
The crimes committed by the hierarchy are horrendous to me. This blog provides a place for me to exercise spiritual discernment about the leadership of the GOA. We must act together. It’s later than we think. Where do we begin? How do we secure the churches before the desperado hierarchy sell any more of them to maintain their lifestyle? Thinking out loud.
Nothing wrong with staying by yourself since greatest Saints achieved Theosis or divine cosmic consciousness by going out to the desert away from any church.
Only those who are truly ready and under obedience should attempt to go off into the desert, as it were. St. Anthony knew that the desert is occupied by demons. They can drive an untested soul mad. Best for us 99% to find spiritual covering in a nurturing parish.
Mr. Wheeler, though you make some salient points, you must realize that you separate yourself from all the Ephrem monasteries. Would you receive the Eucharist in an Ephrem monastery that Is in communion with the GOA and under the EP? I am not a fan of Elpi or the EP but for different reasons.
jk, you make a good point. The Ephraim monasteries are truly Orthodox and holy places, but they are officially under the auspices of the GOA hierarchs. I have heard that they quietly disapprove of some of the hierarchs actions.
I have visited two of them in the past year, although I didn’t commune at either. That was only because I wasn’t prepared.
Are their sacraments valid? Untainted by the hierarchs shenanigans? That’s a good question for an ordination examination. I am not the one to judge.
How long has the CP been claiming to be the head over all EOs and claiming the authority to intervene in other Autocephalous churches like he did in Ukraine?
I ask because in this article, you object to Primus Sine Paribus, but you converted to Orthodoxy a while ago. When you converted, did you hear GOARCH members claiming that the Constantinople Patriarch was the supreme head over all EOs? I always belonged to the OCA, but have attended inter-EO events over the years, and don’t recall the CPers or GOARCH members claiming vertical universal patriarchal supremacy for the CP before the 2018 troubles.
I know that in 1995 P. Bartholomew made an article about the Decentralized structure of Orthodoxy, denying there was a central authority. And in the 19th century, Constantinople had a council or synod that openly rejected the supremacy model for Orthodoxy.
Yet when the CP claimed to give a Tomos to Georgia and other EO Churches in the 20th century, didn’t they claim to have this power by virtue of the supposed CP supremacy?
Hal, you make some good points.
I started attending services at my GOARCH parish because of my circumstances at the time. Since then I have only slowly awakened to the preposterous claims of Constantinople. As you note, there wasn’t much attention given to that see’s claims until the wake up call of 2018. As to the patriarchate’s authority to grant earlier autocephaly to various local Churches in Eurasia, like Georgia, it seems that many of those actions were a means of taking advantage of the Russian Orthodox Church while it was oppressed by the godless Bolsheviks. Bad form! The uniqueness of Ukraine is that this recent action by Constantinople was done to a great nation that is struggling to reclaim its Orthodox legacy. That’s my understanding at this point.
Do you recall GOARCH people at GOARCH parishes ever saying that the Const. P. is the supreme head of the church like GOARCH’s hierarchy currently teaches?
I only very rarely have heard these claims made before 2018.
Everyone must be reminded that the Church of Georgia received autocephaly from the Patriarchate of Antioch centuries ago! I don’t know what the pope-wannabe in Constantinople was thinking he was doing?? ….granting autocephaly to an already autocephalous church???
Do Not Obey When…
All the cases of total obedience reported in patristic literature refer to patience with humility of all kinds, not to submission to an unjust dogmatic or moral position.
Obedience ceases where unrighteousness and falsehood intervene, for love, which I have said is the condition of evangelical obedience, enjoys only truth. Obedience is not only along hierarchical lines, but above all, along the lines of truth and love. Whoever preaches another Gospel, whether bishop, patriarch, synod or even angel from heaven, says the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians, let him be accursed. For us there is no authority outside the Gospel of Christ’s love and sacrifice.
I regret taking Eucharist from disgraced AB Elpidoforos while waiting on line at that gay accommodating fake church thinking it’d be a different priest. Deeply regret it.
This dude is really a gay activist in priest robes trying to fool us that it’s all ok. But
It’s never going to be ok.
Our future is in the resurrected state & sexuality will be no more. Sexuality will no longer be part of our humanity.
But backward unenlightened men like Elpidoforos are not doing their job, they’re not pointing to Theosis, everything is fixated on gross material plane.
Mr. Lincoln, it’s a crying shame that, during my lifetime, God’s gift of conjugal sexuality has been so perverted.
Mr Wheeler, you have already made your judgement. Additionally, I have been hearing about the immense of union with Rome for 40 years. I do not believe it will happen. The EP is a power hungry man who would never submit himself to Rome, not because of theological reason but rather because of hubris.
Ah, but Rome is a monstrous institution that has a track record of absorbing smaller ones!
The Patriarchate of Constantinople betrayed the Gospel of our Lord over 100 years ago. What we see today is just an evolution of this betrayal. I left the Greek Archdiocese of New York in 1969 because I knew that if I remained within that poisonous environment, I too would lose my Faith. I have found peace and the Grace of God within the Holy Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece and I believe that if you were to examine this Synod’s confession of Faith, you will find that it is a continuation of the Holy Faith that the great Fathers passed on to us.
You remind me that Constantinople snatched the American Church out of Athens’ hands a long time ago. Father, are you serving here or in Greece?
The Confession of Faith of the Genuine Orthodox Christian
THANKS be to you Fr. Savvas for sending this.
A must read and reread!
You marvel you have found peace, and yet God said we would have tribulation in the world! How woeful the SAINTS say for one who has found satanic ‘peace’ with the world!
The Saints stayed and suffered in the canonical Orthodox Church – they did not create parallel institutions – why is your schismatic group the ‘true’ faith over the 80 other schimtering splinters?
There are faithful priests and Bishops still struggling in the canonical Church, and America has been blessed by Gods Providence to have multiple jurisdictions – which was a shame for decades, but now reveals itself as a blessing!
One is in a frightful position when running from the Church, pretend you are a synod, and make up a ‘communicating vessel’ theories and ignore the Saints.
Do you deny the sanctity of the New Calendar? Therefore, St Joseph the Hesychast, Elder Ephraim, St Paisios, St Porphyrios, and on and on are ‘fake’? How about ROCOR, when God blessed the faithful, showing them a sign with staying canonical, with the Myrrh Streaming Icon?
The Serbian Church has/had a big ecumenist problem, yet St Justin Popovic stayed and fought it – is he not a Saint?
We aren’t individually synods. Fr Peter Heers on St Maximus and others. Examine Church History.
The New Martyrs of Russia as well, separating themselves, ‘gave themselves up to the future council’ and did not create an entirely new SYSTEM! Operating outside of Councils is putting oneself above the Church which puts you outside of the Church.
Russian New Martyrs- Lesson 8: The Catacomb Church
Are you more holy then the New Martyrs of the Catacomb Church?
Let me also add St Philotheos Zervakos:
From Previous Vessels, p. 148:
He wrote, on the one hand, that the “new calendar was neither introduced into the Orthodox Church by an Oecumenical Council nor by a Local Synod. Rather, the Oecumenical Patriarch Meletios (Metaxakis), who was a thirty-three degree Mason, together with six anti-orthodox minded hierarchs, introduced it anti-canonically and illegally, thus showing contempt for the Orthodox Church and the traditions of the Holy Apostles and Holy Fathers.” With regard to the Old Calendarist groups, on the other hand who had separated from the official Church, the Elder wrote that they had likewise erred and fallen under anathema, in that they “are transgressors and scorners of the first of f the Great commandment of Love. The commandment of love-they disdain it, violate it, cast it out, hating one another, biting at one another, beating up one another.” He was especially upset that “certain zealot old calendarists believe and are of the mindset that the Mysteries without the calendar are invalid and that without the calendar there is no salvation. A greater heresy than this does not exist!” Letters of Elder Philotheos to Papa-Demetri Gagastathis (dated January 20, 1960).
I also pray Lawrence reads this, to know it is not up to the individual to condemn gracelessness – a fearful state. Those who built a new “church” are not following the path of the Saints and Confessors – one has suffering in the world for the faith, not fearful ‘peace’ of pretending you have found a different boat! There is One Church, One Faith, One Baptism! Christ cannot be divided!
Fr Peter Heers:
On Canon 15 and Ceasing Commemoration of One’s Own Bishop
Patristic and Canonical Treatment Toward a Local Church Whose Hierarch Preaches Heresy
St Justin Popovic
As a free and responsible member of the Church of Christ, Justin prophetically reproved and, when necessary, criticized in written form (having written a couple of criticism letters to Patriarch Germanos and the Synod, inter alia, the letters pertaining to superficial western ecumenism). But on no account did he ever create a schism, but on the contrary used to say: “Schisms are easily made but they are enormously difficult to heal” (therefore he opposed the unwisely made and increasingly deepening ‘American Schism’ just as he was against ‘the Macedonian Schism’). (St. Justin Popovich, Notes on Ecumenism. Commentary on Father Justin’s Notes, pp. 36-37)
Fr Seraphim Rose – in a much harsher blatant position when dealing with the MP of the 60’s!
“When our bishops in 1971 condemned the decision of the Moscow Patriarchate to give communion to Roman Catholics, they used strong language, calling it a “heretical” act; but they did not proclaim the Moscow Patriarchate to be deprived of grace, or to be totally fallen away from the Church. The bishops, on various occasions, have specifically refused to make such a proclamation; and in their statement at the 1976 Sobor they specifically addressed the sincere and struggling priests of the Moscow Patriarchate in terms reserved only for priests who possess and dispense the grace of God (as noted in our article on Fr. Dimitry)” [Letter 304; Dec. 28/Jan. 10, 1981]
“… our Church has open communion with the Serbian Church, Jerusalem, and probably others, and leaves separate hierarchs free to serve even with Constantinople if they wish.” [Letter 227; June 30/July 13, 1976]
Fr. P, is your group affiliated with the Pantilimon group in Boston? How many different”true Old Calendar” churches are there in Greece?
Mr Wheeler, last year, I went through the same struggle that you are going through now.
Since distancing myself from the GOA, spiritual darkness and lack of peace have been completely replaced with light and peace, free of satanically inspired distraction (aka covid measures).
I support you in your decision. As Americans the decision for us is difficult but clear, for Greeks it is much harder with the cultural ties. May the Lord have mercy on us all.
I’m glad to hear that you have escaped from the GOA and found peace where you are. I look forward to doing the same in the New Year. Thanks for your support.
I am simply an Anglo convert who never has been attached to the Greek customs that are rolled up in the parochial package. You remind me that it must be much harder for the ethnic Greeks to cut themselves free from those attachments in a naked pursuit of God.
I saw, what you are seeing now, over 30 years ago. I left GOARCH for ROCOR those 30 years ago. ROCOR is not perfect, it is made up of humans; but it is traditional, follows the Orthodox Patristic calendar, it’s bishop live like genuine monks, and it’s hierarchs don’t betray the Faith!
I’m familiar with ROCOR. Your observations of that jurisdiction seem to be accurate. I’ll be joining ROCOR soon.
Dear Brother Wheeler in Christ,
While I believe that many of your points above are “correct,” I feel your solution to the problems of Ecumenism, extreme liberalism and post-Soviet politics, among other things–i.e., schism, judging and condemnation of others, particularly hierarchs and priests–is not only wrong, but a product of the evil one.
Have you given any thought to the fact that nothing good has ever come from schism? Nothing!
And if you have given such thought–and answered that question correctly to yourself–why then do you invite other Orthodox Christians to separate themselves from the True Church–the Church which, though under assault and greatly weakened in the GOARCH profession, shall not fall, even to the gates of Hades?
My brother, Christ did not come to save the perfect, but sinners. He did not come to save people who knoww every single thing about what is and what is not correct to do, he came to save people like me, who sin. And our Church is riddled with imperfect sinners–laity, priests and hiearchs alike. And Christ came to save them all. Thus, to seek out some perfect Church on earth is not only satanic but cowardly.
Do you understand?
If you do not like what is happening in GOARCH, stay. Fight with prayer and fasting. Be manful and not cowardly. Do not run because enemies have entered our House and apparently taken over. Their dominance is just a veil. Be manful and stand your ground, not accepting the illusion. Give even your own blood (as the martyrs we so admire gave), if necessary, to defend the Orthodoxy you claim you love. Only don’t let the enemy fool you into thinking schism–an evil product of his creation–is any sort of solution.
Of course, I am not suggesting you are telling people to become Catholic or Anglican or some other such nonsense. Clearly you are suggesting they become part of some other Orthodox tradition. But do you think those other traditions will be more perfect?
Do you think the Moscow Patriarchate–which closed Churches here in Moscow (where I write from) that were never closed, even during Soviet times–is that much better? No. Do you think the Serbian, Georgian, Romanian, Antiochan and other professions are not without their own problems? Do you think they do not have Christ’s enemies within their ranks? Of course they do!
But the problem is that for someone who judges hiearchs, priests and their brethren, no place will be perfect, even if it is perfect. He or she, after a little while, will find reasons for leaving that profession of the Faith as well.
Do you understand?
Christ did not send you here to judge and He did not place you here to lead others to judge His Church. He did not ask your opinion as to who He would save and who He would not or how. Indeed, its apparent He placed within the hierarchy the people He knows should be there so that we might be saved–some good, some not so good. He has left tares within the wheat so that we might not become slack, even if the evil one believes he is in charge and is accomplishing something with those tares.
That is the foolish thing about that guy–he thinks he is in charge!
Moreover, while I do not prfess to know you or your relationship with Christ, I suspect He does not offer you His perspective on the hierarchs of GOARCH or of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Indeed, even great saints of our times–like St Paisios–would caution people against judging priests and hierarchs. He is quoted as having said to people who once criticized the Patriarch (Athenagoras at the time), “Do you know whether he wants to do what he is doing or whether he was forced? (sic.)”
Since we cannot know, it is clear that St Paisios is inviting us–in American English–to shut up. Hold our peace. Be still. Let the True Commander of our Faith do as He wills. Let him let all the freaks, weirdos, enemies and confused bumpkins who’ve invaded our Church and its ranks have their say for a time so that He, with our prayers, will show us His Glory.
Isn’t that why, after all, we are Orthodox? We want to experience Christ in His Glory, now and forevermore. Why then do we (and you, in this article) want to propose a very unglorified and peasant-like solution like schism?
Peasant like solution? You suggest one stays and fights with prayers and fasting?
Your Shepherds will Betray You!
“The time will come when your shepherds will betray you. They will watch the wild beasts tear you apart and they will NOT come to your aid. Know that these are apocalyptic times that will be hard for us!” + Blessed Elder Justin Parvu
You can clean it all up for us. Sounds like you know how! Boeing and blessing the depraved.
yes, I’ll stay & fight…
enlighten others in ecclesia what’s happening — but need some distance,
distance helps to recharge –
to win the good fight.
p.s. like the food for thought you wrote:
“Let him let all the freaks, weirdos & enemies confused bumpkins have their say for a time so that He will show His glory”.
Roosh V joined ROCOR! Congratulations y’all
Always know who your teachers are. Bring everything to the light! Never keep filth hidden.
In closing, as everyone should already know, this “fight” is in the hands of the Lord. It is “bigger” than all of us. Fixing the problems of universal ecumenism, schisms, blasphemy, sexual crimes, adulterous homosexual behaviors, money laundering, etc., isn’t our job. PERIOD. Give it up! We are being commanded to be fervent in prayer and to reach out to all His people with love and spread the Word of God leading by example in Christ’s image. Don’t let these criminals distract you from God’s mission on this earth. That is work of Satan and his demonic angelic hosts working very hard overtime to separate you from your relationship with Christ.
In the end times, it will matter NOT what church one attends, or what “religion” is the “true” religion. When we stop being braggadocios and full of pride with a high and mighty attitude about a “religion”, and begin with the submission of our will to Thine with humility and confession asking for forgiveness and begin placing our trust in the Holy Father rather than in things of this world and men, Christ will reveal everything in time, bringing glory to only Him as our Savior and King.
What is your saint’s name?
Out of your reasons for leaving, the CP’s new supremacy ecclesiology combined with his arbitrary installation of the OCU and rejection of the OUC-MP’s status appears a valid reason to leave, and it would be a big stigma on me if I moved and was stuck between joining a parish under the CP or another EO jurisdiction.
First Without Equals is a big deal because it is the biggest practical problem blocking us from reunion with Rome. Installing the OCU in Ukraine is a big problem for EOs because they are schismatic. Imagine if the CP sends a priest ordained in the OCU and never brought under the CP to concelebrate in GOARCH parishes. It creates a ecclesiological mess because no one in the US but the CP recognizes the OCU. The MP and ROCOR have considered the new state of the CP to be a good reason for members of the CP like yourself to leave the CP.
While I disagree with the COVID restrictions for practical reasons and find those measures to be overblown hysteria over a bad but still generally nonfatal version of the flu, the restrictions don’t seem to be enough reason theologically to leave the CP. For practical reasons, I did find attending ROCOR parishes more comfortable during the past stricter restriction period.
The CP having joint prayer services with the Pope or RCs also does not seem enough reason to leave the CP. As a matter of canon law, maybe this provides a basis for leaving the CP. On the other hand, certainly the early Christians prayed in Jewish synagogues.
IMO the OCA and MP are technically the only jurisdictions with the canonical purview for the US due to the longstanding Russian presence in Alaska, followed by the ROC’s Tomos to the US. The CP’s claim to being the rightful jurisdiction outside all recognized EO Autocephalous “lands” like the former Russian lands (now minus Ukraine) and Africa is a canonical fallacy. I doubt that this technical canonical territorial issue would force me to belong to the OCA or MP, but it could be a factor.
S Bogom / All the best