Archbishop of America Elpidophoros, or the End of All Illusions About the Phanar

The author of this analysis of the current threat hanging over world Orthodoxy, Arkady Maler, is a scholar and teacher of philosophy specializing in Russian religious philosophy. He is a member of the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission of the Inter-Council Presence of the Moscow Patriarchate, and founder of Moscow’s “Byzantine Club”. Maler is the author of four religious-philosophical books, which include the theme of Constantine the Great, and Russia’s spiritual mission.

Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis)     

A half a year did not go by from the formation by the Constantinople Patriarchate of a hastily-cobbled, politically strategic, fake church in Ukraine under the deliberately ridiculous yet official abbreviation of, ULUOC,1 when its main participants predictably started schisming, moreover so rapidly that this schism within a schism can be watched on regularly updated in news feeds in real time. But as these quite expected tragic-comic processes unfold in Kiev, in the Constantinople Patriarchate itself a very important event has taken place, which promises very serious consequences in the long-term: Enthroned as archbishop of all the Greek parishes in the U.S.A was the active proponent of unlimited power for the Constantinople Patriarchate, Metropolitan Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis, born 1967, previously Metropolitan of Bursa), who also received the title, “Exarch of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans” (in the Greek tradition an archbishop is higher in rank than a metropolitan).

We remind our readers that from the time of the fall of Byzantium the residence of the Constantinople Patriarchate was located in the Istanbul region called the Phanar—basically a religious-ethnic ghetto that corresponds to the small and disappearing number of its parishioners in Turkey itself. After the formation of the Greek Orthodox Church in the nineteenth century the canonical territory of the Constantinople Patriarchate beyond the borders of Turkey significantly ebbed, retaining only the northern regions of Greece and most of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. Therefore in the twentieth century the Phanar gradually developed a new religious-political ideology of a curious “Constantinople papism”, according to which Greeks throughout the entire world must automatically submit only to the Constantinople Patriarchate; moreover, all the countries and lands of the world that do not belong to the canonical territory of other Local Orthodox Churches also belong by default to the Phanar. But now in the twenty-first century these ambitions are apparently too limited for the proponents of Phanar expansionism, and they are pushing a new theory of how the Constantinople Patriarchate has the right to revoke the autocephalies it once granted and establish new ones on the territories of other Churches—as they did on January 5 of this year, when Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew signed a tomos of autocephaly for that same ULUOC. Of course, these politics in the Phanar are a direct violation of basic canon law, and not one Local Orthodox Church has recognized the “Ukrainian Autocephaly”, while the Russian Orthodox Church has broken Eucharistic Communion with the Constantinople Patriarchate; and there is no sign of its restoration in sight.

In this situation the appointment of Metropolitan Elpidophoros as head of the American archbishopric is a final confirmation that the Phanar has no intention of reversing its ideological course. The fact is that the Greek diaspora of US and Canada, which includes around two million people, makes up the Constantinople Patriarchate’s main constituency, and it is the Phanariot lobby in Washington that still provides for American politicians’ special patronage to the Phanar. Is there any point in arguing the fact that the close cooperation between the Phanar and Washington was in no small way brought into play by their common opposition to Russia’s geopolitical rebirth and the strengthening of the Russian Orthodox Church on the international level, and in this whole scam of “Ukrainian autocephaly” American officials played an unprecedentedly obvious role. And now against this political backdrop, appointed to the American cathedra is a man who is not only an adept of Phanariot omnipotence, but its forthright ideologue—in fact ideologue Number One; and this means that this man is the most likely pretender to the role of future Patriarch of Constantinople. In other words, while many Orthodox on both sides of canonical borderlines piously hoped that the Phanar’s dabbling in papist fantasies would soon pass and Eucharistic communion would soon be restored, in realty these hopes have turned out to be in vain. If Patriarch Bartholomew was only the stubborn implementer of the “Constantinople papsim” ideology, then the most likely candidate for his position is that ideology’s chief engineer.

Since 2011, when Elpidophoros became a metropolitan, he was outwardly very unnoticeable and always in the Patriarch’s shadow, occupying the modest position of abbot in the monastery on Chalki island, where the once famous theological academy was located—closed by the Turkish authorities in 1971. Though it was promised many times, the academy was never restored and its spacious buildings are still empty, and that is not surprising given that Elpidophoros’s main mission was not to develop academic education but to carry out the Phanar’s geopolitical claims. Precisely Elpidophoros was a key figure in the Constantinople Patriarchate’s legalization of the Ukrainian schism. With Patriarch Bartholomew’s knowledge he met with and conducted negotiations over the span of many years with leaders of the Ukrainian schism, and at the most convenient political moment of Poroshenko’s Rusophobe presidency he pushed the patriarch into the fatal decision of establishing a “Ukrainian autocephaly”. It is no accident that back in 2008, under President Yushchenko, when Patriarch Bartholomew came to Kiev and many people expected that any minute the Ukrainian schism will be legalized, the barely noticeable Metropolitan Elpidophoros was awarded with the highest Ukrainian award—the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, fifth degree; and on April 4, 2019, at the completion of this anti-canonical and anti-Russian project, President Poroshenko awarded Metropolitan Elpidophoros with the same Order of the fourth degree.

Archbishop Elpidophoros and Patriarch Bartholomew. Archbishop Elpidophoros and Patriarch Bartholomew.     

For those who have observed Metropolitan Elpidophoros’s political adventures, his appointment to the American cathedra was quite expected and completely predictable. This was the same man who had long ago provided for the regular connection between the Phanar, Washington, and Kiev, and was the most likely candidate for this position, which is basically second in importance after the patriarch himself. It is enough to recall that in 1948, the American Archbishop Athenagoros (Spyrou), who did not have Turkish citizenship and who was famous for his ultra-ecumenist views, was chosen as the patriarch of Constantinople. The American authorities were so interested in his rule that, as it has been told, he was flown to Istanbul from Washington in Harry Truman’s personal jet. But compared to Patriarch Athenagoros the current Archbishop Elpidophoros has a huge advantage: He not only has Turkish citizenship, but he was also born and raised in Istanbul and served in the Turkish army.

If we speak of the conceptual contribution of Archbishop Elpidophoros to the ideology of “Constantinople papism”, it surpasses even the boldest fantasies of its adherents. It was Elpidophoros who authored the Constantinople Patriarchate’s official response to the “Position on the problem of primacy in the Ecumenical Church”, accepted on December 25, 2013 by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. Met. Elpidophoros’s response was published on Janurary 7, 2014, the day of the Nativity of Christ according to the Julian calendar, and was passionately and revealingly entitled, “First without equal”. This is the clearest example of the new ecclesiological heresies that have arisen in our time.

As should be well known to any Orthodox parishioner, all the canonical Local Orthodox Churches of the world, which number fourteen, are fundamentally equal to one another, and have the right to grant autocephaly to their own parts, and to open parishes and dioceses on territories that are free of other Churches. But if a territory is within the canonical borders of any Local Church, then no other Church has the right to invade that territory without the permission of that territory’s ecclesiastical authorities. The Constantinople Patriarchate’s status as the “first among equals” (primus inter paribus) bears a purely formal character and does not give him any real superiority over other Churches. This elegant status is based exclusively upon the fact that during the time of the Byzantine Empire, the Constantinople Patriarchate was located in the imperial capital and had greater possibilities for influencing the religious politics of Byzantine emperors. But Byzantium fell 566 years ago, and the Constantinople Patriarchate has not had any of the functions of a capital city for a long time, except within the framework of Turkey itself. If this formal status has any significance at all it would be only on that Patriarchate’s being first in order of commemoration of canonical Local Churches, in what is called the diptychs, which are needed in the divine services when prayers are made for the primates of all the canonical Churches. I will also remind the reader that in connection with Moscow’s break in Eucharistic communion with the Constantinople Patriarchate, the name of Patriarch Bartholomew is not offered up in the Russian Church, and the list of Orthodox primates begins with the next patriarch after him, Theodore of Alexandria.

Nevertheless, for the ideologues of Phanar omnipotence the Constantinople Patriarchate has the right to do practically anything; but if in the past they have attempted to base their authority on a highly creative explanation of the canons, then in 2014 Metropolitan Elpidophoros went even further and decided to draw a direct analogy between the position of the Constantinople Patriarchate and God the Father Himself! He begins his theoretical construct with the following reasoning:

In the long history of the Church, the first-hierarch was the bishop of Rome. After Eucharistic communion with Rome was broken, canonically the first-hierarch of the Orthodox Church is the archbishop of Constantinople. In the case of the archbishop of Constantinople, we observe the unique coincidence of all three levels of primacy, namely the local (as Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome), the regional (as Patriarch), and the universal or worldwide (as Ecumenical Patriarch). This threefold primacy translates into specific privileges, such as the right of appeal and the right to grant or remove autocephaly…

There is no logical connection in this reasoning at all, because the Constantinople Patriarch, just like the Roman pope in pre-schism times, was the canonical bishop only of its own city and first-hierarch only of its Local, “regional” Church. If we ascribe to the Constantinople patriarch those privileges of universal authority, which the Roman pope ascribed to himself in his time, then why didn’t we recognize the Roman papism at the time? It is worth noting that very many simple, logical questions arise here, but the newly appointed Archbishop Elpidophoros not only does not bother to canonically argument his position, he even wades into an arbitrary discussion of the Divine Trinity, straightforwardly insisting that the primacy of the Constantinople Patriarch is analogous in the Universal Church to the primacy of God the Father in the Holy Trinity.

Let us note that this dogmatic innovation, not yet fixed on the synodal level, belongs to another ideologue of “Constantinople papism”: the theologian and philosopher Metropolitan John (Zizioulas), who in my point of view discredited the philosophy of Orthodox personalism and neo-patristic synthesis with his artificially contrived and arbitrary reasoning. Unfortunately, Metropolitan John’s (Zizioulas’s), to put it mildly, strange, and strictly speaking, heretical concept was supported by the participants of a session of Orthodox-Catholic theological dialogue in Ravenna in 2006, against the position of the Russian Church, represented by Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev). After the concluding document of the Ravenna convention was published, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church officially rejected its resolutions.

Basing his conclusions upon the Ravenna document, Metropolitan Elpidophoros says:

The Church has always and systematically understood the person of the Father as the First (“the monarchy of the Father”) in the communion of persons of the Holy Trinity. If we were to follow the logic of the text of the Russian Synod, we would also have to claim that God the Father is not Himself the cause without the beginning of the divinity of the fatherhood … but becomes a recipient of his own “primacy”. Whence? From the other Persons of the Holy Trinity?... Is it possible for the Son or the Holy Spirit to “precede” the Father?

And further down comes the ecclesiological conclusion:

The primacy of the archbishop of Constantinople has nothing to do with the diptychs, which, as we have already said, merely express this hierarchical ranking… If we are going to talk about the source of a primacy, then the source of primacy is the very person of the Archbishop of Constantinople, who precisely as bishop is one “among equals,” but as Archbishop of Constantinople is the first-hierarch without equals (primus sine paribus).

We cannot help but notice that this reasoning is absolutely absurd in both fact and essence. Factually, in the Synodal document of the Russian Church it is nowhere asserted—nor can it be asserted—that the cause of the divinity and fatherhood of God the Father is the Son and the Holy Spirit. To the contrary, confirmed is the incorrectness of comparing the roles of a primary bishop in the Universal Church with the position occupied by God the Father in the Divine Trinity. Such a comparison leads not only to a distorted understanding of Orthodox triadology, introducing into the teaching on the Trinity a heretical subordinationism (the idea of the Son and the Spirit being subordinate to God the Father), but also to a distorted understanding of ecclesiastical order—namely the one being propagated by Metropolitan Elpidophoros. Essentially, the person of a bishop or patriarch is the person of a created and mortal human being, who receives his hierarchical powers from the Church, which was founded and is headed by God the Trinity. The bishop or the patriarch himself can never, in no way be the “unoriginate source” of his own power; he remains no more than its bearer, and this authority can be taken away from him by the decision of the Church itself. If the bishopric of the Constantinople Church is not in agreement with this, then it is already in heresy, and not only ecclesiological but also anthropological, and triadological heresy. There can be no worse distortion of the Orthodox faith than such heresy.

To what practical results do this idea of the Trinity and the mystical power of the Constantinople Patriarchate lead? Precisely to the very ones that the current American archbishop voiced in his scandalous response to the Russian Church. So, it turns out that the Constantinople patriarch, as the source of ecclesiastical authority throughout the fullness of Universal Orthodoxy, has the right to accept appellations from any Local Church, and in its sole capacity grant, and, what is most interesting, revoke (!) autocephalies previously granted. And all of this is not just the abstract theory of individual fantasizers in ecclesiastical rank, but direct instructions for action. After all, the Phanar is now applying these very politics to the Russian Church in the case of the Ukrainian schism, and to the Serbian Church in connection with the Macedonian schism.2

Lest anyone doubt the seriousness of these intentions, Metropolitan Elpidophoros’s response was published on the official site of the Constantinople Patriarchate,3 and is thus expresses its “general line”. Five years have passed since the moment of its publication, and on January 6, 2019, on the eve of the Nativity of Christ, Patriarch Bartholomew put the “rights” formulated by Metropolitan Elpidophoros into action by granting autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics. Incidentally, even before this decision the Patriarch of Constantinople exercised yet another of his “rights” by accepting into Eucharistic communion the leader of the Ukrainian schism who had been excommunicated from the Church, and “restored” other schismatics to their episcopal rank.

In fact throughout the history of the ULUOC, Patriarch Bartholomew has been acting like the “first without equal”, not only by not enlisting the support of other Local Orthodox Churches, but also by demonstratively ignoring the precisely expressed position of those that have clearly come out against the legalization of the Ukrainian schism.

The question of how the Orthodox Church should grant autocephaly in the future was discussed at the Commission for the preparation of the Pan-Orthodox Council over the course of several decades. The result was the production of a draft document, according to which the granting of any new autocephaly presupposes the united recognition by all the generally accepted Local Orthodox Churches, and a tomos of autocephaly must be signed by their primates in the order of the diptychs. The main text of this document was agreed upon, but they were unable to agree as to how the primates’ signatures should be arranged. The Phanar insisted that the signature of the Constantinople Patriarch should be accompanied by the word, “resolves”, while the signatures of all the other primates should have a different word next to them, which could be translated as, “join themselves to the resolution”. Certain other Churches quite lawfully did not agree with the Phanariots’ proposition, which obviously would officially confirm the primacy of the Constantinople Patriarch—and as a result the matter was left hanging in the air.

Now Patriarch Bartholomew considers that all the agreements achieved then are “as if they had never been”. According to the new, even more radical theory of Phanar papism, so clearly formulated by Metropolitan Elpidophoros, the Constantinople Patriarch has the right to unilaterally grant autocephaly precisely because he, like God the Father in the Trinity, is the singular source of power in the Universal Church and therefore no councils or citations of Scripture and Tradition can limit his ambitions. We have to note that such claims are appearing now for the first time since the Roman Catholic schism, and many Orthodox people throughout the world simply cannot imagine how to react to it, moreover they don’t even want to believe that all of this is happening with even the slightest shred of seriousness. But all the Phanar’s actions in Ukraine and then the appointment of the main ideologue of “Constantinople papism” to the key American Cathedra show unambiguously that the Constantinople Patriarchate has in all seriousness conceived itself as the absolute and only authority throughout the entire Orthodox world—it’s for the long term, and there is no hope whatsoever of this situation correcting itself, nor can there be.

Therefore, there is nothing more dangerous to the development of fruitful inter-Church relations and unity with the Russian Orthodox Church than to naively hope that all of this will somehow correct itself and everything will calm down all by itself, that the whole affair is only the mindset of Patriarch Bartholomew, and some personal relationship between Church politicians. In reality, we will have no other Phanar in the foreseeable historical future, and the Constantinople Patriarchate will remain the source of continual destabilization in the Orthodox world, forcing its ambitions and arbitrary theological innovations on everybody else. Understanding this objective fact without any illusions or self-deception is a minimal precondition for adequately and effectively reacting to these challenges.

Arkady Maler
Translation by OrthoChristian.com

Pravoslavie.ru

7/4/2019

1 Elsewhere shortened to the OCU—the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”. ULUOC stands for the “United Local Ukrainian Orthodox Church”. The acronym in Russian and Ukrainian sounds silly in those languages as well as in English, as it would be pronounced, “epoops”.

2 Although see this development: http://orthochristian.com/122120.html, which took place after the original of this article was published. Of course, Patriarch Bartholomew made similar statement regarding the Ukrainian schismatics earlier, recognizing the anathema against Philaret, but then in complete contradiction of his own words did what we now see in Ukaine, so no one can rest entirely assured that he will not do the same thing in Macedonia, given the right opportunity.—OC.

3 The text can be found here: file:///Users/mcornelia/Pictures/A%20response%20to%20the%20text%20on%20primacy%20of%20the%20Moscow%20Patriarchate.pdf.—OC.

Comments
Ioannis7/8/2019 6:23 pm
Brandon, it is unbelievable how you can twist facts to defend Bartholomew for anything and everything he does!
You once gifted a Torah which is the Pentateuch and you consider that as bad as gifting and calling the "Holy Quran"! And even if it were the same, why is it ok, because you did it too?

Three of us here wrote many aspects to you, and you summarily say just a few words to each one. Very "efficient" work!

Your loving closing "salutation" is typical. Bartholomew will behave infallibly to all Orthodox (not other religions!) and then conclude with your kind of loving salutation. Not a coincidence.
Brandon 7/8/2019 4:27 pm
To Ioannis: What should I say to HAH exactly? I once gifted a Torah in Hebrew to a Jewish friend. I am not going to draw up critical laundry lists about ANY Hierarch.

To John: As opposed to the endless “Patriarch Bartholomew is a heretic who must be stopped.” Comments? Whatever you like on your playlist, I guess.

To Joseph: There is no “bright side.” It is a deplorable situation.


I am grateful to the editor for posting my comments. There is a lot more nuance here than any partisan position. The Church isn’t a street gang. There is Christ and there is the other. Please Remember your Orthodox brothers and sisters under the EP, as we remember you. May God bless all Orthodox in Ukraine. May He also Bless Archbishop Elpidophoros and all of our bishops. I pray that Communion is restored and peace prevails. Kindness is not weakness or lack of principles.

You can have the the last word, be it salutation or insult. Panagia protect you all.
PYCb7/8/2019 3:30 pm
Brandon, you are sorrowed by a handful of churches in Korea, which the MP has not even touched, and a small group of people who left a GOA parish in Lubbock, TX to form for themselves a ROCOR parish. Should we look at the other side of the ledger?

The EP (1) in the name of Hellenism undermines the Orthodox unity in America that was set up by the Russian Church and sets off a chain reaction with all the jurisdictions then doing the same; (2) destroys Orthodox liturgical unity throughout the world (calendar); (3) betrays the persecuted Church of Russia by recognizing the communist Living Church; (4) tries to steal parts of the Russian church for itself (Poland, Finland, Estonia); (5) in collaboration with the South Korean junta, steals Russian Mission holdings there; (6) In collaboration with nationalist government, tries to steal Estonia again (the very patria of the Russian Patriarch himself!), luring but less than 10% of the faithful there into schism, which he then splits off further by giving them a different calendar; (7) tries to steal Russian church buildings in western Europe (e.g. Nice); (8) setting up Potemkin metropolitanates in Asia, tries to head off the MP's natural return to its old missionary vineyards in East Asia, some of which are centuries old, and them complains of supposed Russian violation of "canonical boundaries"; (9) tries to justify all this by complaining, nationalistically, that “Our Slavic brothers cannot tolerate the primacy that the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our Nation have in Orthodoxy” (Δεν ανέχονται οι αδερφοί μας οι Σλάβοι το προβάδισμα που έχει το Οικουμενικό Πατριαρχείο και το Γένος μας μέσα στην Ορθοδοξία), repeatedly citing supposed Russian "ethnophyletism" (of the most multi-national of all Orthodox Churches, mind you!), "pan-Slavism," and MP claims to be the 3rd Rome, something I've never seen articulated by a Russian churchman in modern times; in fact the whole concept runs contrary to MP's belief in the honorific nature of the diptychs and the Russian political ideal of global multi-polarity; (10) in the midst of a hot fratricidal war in Ukraine, the EP as loyal arm of a State Department itching for a confrontation with Russia, unilaterally derecognizes the worthy hierarch of the Church, Metr. Onufry Berezovsky, a man who has proven himself in obedience and ascesis throughout his life, and with him his dozens of fellow-bishops and millions of loyal flock, and recognize instead some expedient nobody who till that point had been the faithful disciple of the ignoble Filaret and living in tinpot nationalistic schism. In the process, EP attack dogs viciously taunt the MP that Ukraine won't be like Estonia, where EP could steal only a few of the faithful. Then a period of state sponsored persecution of the true Ukrainian Church ensues.

I would say that the MP has been very restrained.
PYCb7/8/2019 3:24 pm
Bp. Hierotheos talks a lot about the Pentarchy (inside which he includes Moscow, say in one of his papers that "...in the 16th century A.D. the Patriarchate of Moscow assumed the fifth place. All this took place by Ecumenical and Great Synods"), but then misses the point, which is that even the church of the empire, which had a distinct political interest in maintaining unity, had five localized sees, based on worldly lines. This devolved polity, based on administrative realities, is what we can take from history, nothing more. His attempts to freeze all this in time are nothing but Greek nationalistic romanticism. Citing the "Slavic [I assume Balkan] Churches" to argue for an exclusive privilege of the EP throughout Orthodoxy is also tendentious. The EP was not the only one of the Pentarchs to grant autocephaly. Alexandria (yes, the more numerous non-Chalcedonian part) did the same with Ethiopia and Nubia, and Antioch with Georgia and Armenia.

This idea of a "golden mean" between Papism and Protestantism, apart from sounding Anglican (via media), is also very vague. The current EP belief, based on his vaunted (and heretical) status as Vicar of God the Father (pray tell: who are the Son and Spirit in this scheme?), can unilaterally interfere in the affairs of any church throughout the world, even to the point of withdrawing autocephaly, sounds to me even more extravagant than Roman Papism itself. On the other hand, what even constitutes this opposite extreme of Protestant he talks of? Something that's a little bit untidy? The Pentarchy was not exactly tidy. See the loss of large parts of Alexandria and Antioch over Chalcedon. See Rome and EP squabbling over Illyricum, Moravia, and Bulgaria. Although he is from Greece, which, with its 5 distinct church regimes, has the untidiest church polity of all Orthodox countries, it seems Bp. Hierotheos throws around the Protestant label without appreciating just how chaotic such a thing is.
Joseph7/8/2019 11:30 am
Brandon: CP and EP are the same person. That is, until he becomes the BH: Bishop of Herculaneum. It truly is a disaster that parishes for Russians are being opened in Turkey. They made up the majority of parishioners for the CP/EP there. However, on the brighter side, now there are churches there on the true, Julian calendar. Historical justice!
John7/8/2019 11:25 am
Brandon, you are really too much. Not in U.S. or Europe, then where are you? In Turkey? Were you hired to bore everyone with your broken record comments?
Brandon 7/8/2019 3:04 am
To the Editors: You are quite correct. I shouldn't have been lazy and wrote Metropolitan Onuphry's full title (those of us in the "loyal opposition" have a deep respect for him, as your interview with Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol shows). While we are discussing titles, I would like to issue my own correction. The correct title for the Church of Constantinople is THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE.

I don't ignore what the thugs are doing in Ukraine. I don't think Archbishop Anastasios of Albania was ignoring them either when he rebuked the MP for their breaking Communion. The violence was going on before the EP's intervention, and since the Tomos it has slowed but not stopped (now the OCU and resurrected KP are fighting over churches. Lord, have mercy.) One of the main goals of the Tomos was to stop the violence. But, as the Cypriot statement noted, the Tomos has not solved the problem, intentions aside. The EP did not cause the violence. The EP attempted to stop the violence. This attempt has failed. I am not overdramatizing the effects of the MP's break in Communion. Communities have been torn apart. Do you think that the Lubbock community is just going to come back together after community is restored? That would be nice, but I think we know the answer to that question. The MP is even setting up "parishes" in Turkey. I have friends and ties to the Church in Turkey and know for a fact the hurt this is causing, as many of the Christians in Turkey are Russians who are in Turkey for work. One can condemn the violence in Ukraine AND condemn the spiritual violence that this break in Communion has caused. I don't live in the US or Europe. These nasty little turf wars get real ugly real fast out here on "the frontier."

TWO WRONGS DON'T MAKE A RIGHT. That is found nowhere in the Gospel. You are quite right to condemn the violence in Ukraine. I do too. But hurting other people elsewhere is not going to help the people in Ukraine. It's just not. Again, you and the MP keep pointing the finger at the EP. "They made me do it!" No, sir/ma'am. They did not. There was another way. The MP chose to not take it because they wanted to settle old scores and "retaliate." Their actions in Asia and elsewhere all point to that fact.

Here is thought: Perhaps both the EP AND MP are wrong here, for different reasons. The EP has wronged the MP in the past and present. The MP has done the same. Trust was destroyed between the two Patriarchates long before this crisis. This is why both sides dismissed what the other had to say. The EP is not a CIA front. The MP is not a department of the Russian government (not anymore). When the estrangement is THAT deep, there needs to be a reckoning. My thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering from this crisis, in Ukraine and elsewhere. I think the Church needs to support the Church of Cyprus in their mediation efforts and defense of the canonical Church in Ukraine. Both the EP and MP will have to humble themselves for a true reconciliation to take place. As Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol said, this isn't about "Blame." How can we fix this? (I don't just mean Ukraine, either.)
Ioannis7/7/2019 10:03 pm
Brandon, obviously and correctly, you love Bartholomew in Christ.
So, above all you should care for his soul more than for his body and his earthly glory.
Of course, the same applies to all of us.
In practical terms, it means you should tell him the truth, which is good for his soul and for the Church in general. You can test Bartholomew's wisdom and mentality by the following fact:

You know that the Quran rejects the Holy Trinity, Christ's Crucifiction and Resurrection, i.e. the foundations of the Church!
And yet, Bartholomew donated the "Holy Quran" in a special event in Texas.
Have you ever criticized that as well?
Editor7/7/2019 6:54 pm
Brandon: A correction to your comment to Gary Cox. Onuphry is Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine, not bishop of Ukraine. Further: You still sound like someone who desperately trying to wriggle out of an argument without admitting the truth. The MP broke off communion with the CP, and now the poor people in the US and Europe have to suffer so much, driving an extra hour to church on Sundays. How would they like to be beaten up and terrorized for not leaving their villages, for simply wanting to hold on to the church that their ancestors built, watching women and children parishioners get there ears ripped off and noses crushed by drunken toughs who don't even go to church--schimatic or canonical? With total inaction by the local authorities, and no protection of their basic legal rights? Sorry, but you are ridiculously over-dramatizing the effects of Moscow's breaking communion with the CP, while deplorably ignoring what is really happening in Ukraine as a result of the CP's actions there. It is Christ-like to be silent and humble when you yourself are being persecuted, but it is not Christian to ignore the plight of others who are being persecuted, and even worse to be the cause of that persecution.
Brandon7/7/2019 9:44 am
To Gary Cox: Nothing should be blind. Not everyone in the EP agrees with how it all went down. I stand with Cyprus and Albania on the Ukraine issue, and they speak for the "loyal opposition." I also think that the way Rue Daru was treated was terrible (we alienated those people for no reason at all. They weren't going to leave before, now they are). So no, I don't "blindly defend" anything. The Church is not a street gang, and I despise factionalism, in the Church especially.

For me, it's simply this: ANYONE who sows division in the body of Christ is committing a horrible sin and will have to answer for it before God. They can try and excuse it all they like, citing the Canons, The Renovationists, the Kremlin, the State Department, the Diptychs, "The EP did it first!", "Glory to Ukraine!" etc etc.....

Do you know who has impressed me the most in this crisis? It's Metropolitan Onuphry himself (Many Years!). If the EP and MP imitated his love and his magnanimity, perhaps it would be different. But we are here, now, aren't we? Metropolitan Onuphry is the Bishop of Ukraine. Period. NOBODY should be trying to sow division ANYWHERE. Anyone who does so is serving the Evil One. It's diabolical.

Perhaps a unified Ukrainian autocephalous Church might come at the end of the tunnel of this mess. We'll see. The MP quite rightly condemns any attempt to separate a bishop from his flock. It's a shame that they then proceeded to do just that the Diaspora and elsewhere.

Brandon7/7/2019 9:24 am
To the Editors: You're quite right to say that the MP is "reacting." The question is, what about that reaction? A reaction that no other Church has followed (a few have even rebuked the MP for it). The MP had a choice: They could have taken the high road which they are so fond of talking about. I mention Antioch deliberately, because Patriarch John chose not to involve the laity in their dispute. Can you imagine Patriarch John telling his flock that they are no longer allowed to Commune at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher? They were talking about the EP being schismatics at the beginning---of course they had to walk that rhetoric back because it was a step too far for the rest of the Church. And an incoherent position, as they allow people by "economy" to Commune at St. Pantelmon's on the Holy Mountain, St. Anthony's in Arizona and a few other places. This isn't about what the EP did to Russia (which was deplorable)...they chose to take the path of politics and sow division in communities where none existed before. They can point the finger at Constantinople all they like. They chose the path of retaliation. They chose to hurt people who had nothing to do with Ukraine. They chose to ignore the Gospel, and then to justify it they use the "he started it" defense. They talk on and on about Metropolitan Onuphry, but it would have been better if they had imitated his love, rather than use him as a prop in their feud with Constantinople. No matter what a person thinks about this Crisis, that doesn't change the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate chose to inflict on other Orthodox communities the very same harm that they deplore in Ukraine. They can wring their hands and hide behind the Canons all they want. Two wrongs don't make a right.
James7/6/2019 8:36 pm
It seems there is a conflation of the phrases 'First among equals' and 'First without equals'.

If, historically, it has been 'First among equals', it is disingenuous to now say it is 'First without equals' and then speculate saying 'it depends' what is meant by that phrase.

They have different meanings, yet our post-modern age would like to pretend things mean whatever we ascribe them to mean. A 'First among equals' may have unique perogatives without claiming supremacy or unilateral action, whereas a 'First without equals' is by definition asserting supremacy and leaving off the option of complying with Apostolic Canon 34 (which states '...first among them...').

There also appears to be a flowing current of Truth being subsumed by Unity as though Unity is to be prized at all costs and those fleeing Heresy are at fault for division. If both are the Body of Christ, division is 'possible' (i.e. schism), but if one is in Heresy, there is only one Body of Christ and therefore no division. History seems to demonstrate those who break Unity tend to be the majority, embracing a novel position and shaming those who would protect themselves from the danger present in Heresy (this being the reason for CLEARLY deliniating what is True and what is not). It would appear the whole GOA church in Lubbock should flee the EP and join themselves to the 'defectors' rather than trying to shame those following Truth.

Regardless of why, it is a facet of the USA to value tolerance whereas the Church is actively intolerant (of Heresy, Lies, Coercion, etc.). If there was consternation from the World about the world being turned upside down during Acts, it shouldn't be surprising that attempts to turn it 'right side up' again cause consternation (or at least Godly resistance) among the Faithful.
Gary Cox7/6/2019 12:03 pm
Brandon, one wonders if you have blind loyalty to Constantinople Patriarchate regardless of their actions. Is there anything the EP could do that you wouldn't defend? We all need to continue prayers for our Patriarchs to stay true to the faith. Gary Cox
Editor7/6/2019 11:56 am
Brandon, again: The context doesn't really matter, what matters is the outcome. The EP has proved that he ascribes uncanonical powers to himself that the rest of the Orthodox world cannot agree with, by what he has done in the Ukraine. The MP is only reacting to all of this. They have no choice. This is not the first time that the EP has meddled in the affairs of the Russian Church in recent times. The EP also supported the Communist-created "Living Church" in the Soviet Union, told Holy Patriarch Tikhon he had to step down, and watched on as the government persecuted the Orthodox. That could have been forgotten if it weren't happening all over again in Ukraine. You talk about context. There is much more to this whole thing than Met. Vlachos's commentary. The MP didn't ask for all this, but they have to deal with it. And they are not alone. It is a big mistake to keep interpreting this as some sort of Moscow propaganda. It's all very serious. It's easy enough to use the pervasive mistrust of Russia as a smokescreen to carry out something that is absolutely unacceptable, in large part to Russia, but also by the whole Orthodox world. Our site has always had the utmost respect for Patriarch Bartholomew as an Orthodox Patriarch and first among equals, but we cannot be silent on this matter. "By silence is God betrayed".
Brandon7/6/2019 8:28 am
Dear Editor,

I guess it depends on what he means by "First without Equals." Everyone seems to jump to the conclusion that HAH wants to be the Eastern Pope, but as HE Hierotheos illustrates, there is a VAST space between the Orthodox Primacy and Papal Supremacy. Archbishop Elpidophoros is making the point that the EP has privileges and responsibilities that no other bishop has, so in that sense he is in fact, "First without equals." Whether you accept that or not is another matter, and given how that position was received, there is no consensus, OBVIOUSLY. It is a distortion of the EP's position to ascribe Papal pretentions to it, when again, "Neither Papal Supremacy or Protestant Confederation" is the reality. The Golden Mean, so to speak. Now you may not like that (the MP certainly doesn't)...well, ok. It is an ongoing discussion in the Church. We also have to take into account the context in which the Archbishop gave those comments, as it is a response to the MP's undermining of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which includes using this website and other media to publish whispers of "Papal Pretentions" and conspiracy theories when a cursory reading of the Greek texts and Media show a more nuanced picture. The MP's insistence on disdainfully calling the EP the "Constantinople Patriarchate" (which predates this crisis) and their quickness to sow division where there was none (Korea and Lubbock, TX to name two). And now they are doing Liturgies in Asia Minor. How is the solution to division, more division? The MP can throw all the mud it wants at Patriarch Bartholomew, but they made the choice to do what they are doing. They could have done what Patriarch John of Antioch did, and not involve the laity in their dispute with Jerusalem. I suppose that shows the difference between Patriarch John and Patriarch Kyrill. By their fruits you will know them. We all know Philaret is a scoundrel, and the EP may very well be wrong here, but what account will the MP give for the harm they have done? I don't think our Lord will accept "But But, the EP!!!!" when all is said and done. ANYONE who sows division in the Body of Christ will have to answer for it before the Judgement seat, and maybe HAH will be sitting there in the dock, but he won't be alone. Lord, have mercy.
Ioannis7/5/2019 2:17 pm
Bartholomew and Elpidophoros ignore the details of Canon 28, 4th Ec.C.: (from the Rudder)

"...And this is in keeping with the fact that the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital. And motivated by the same object and aim the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate, and is equal to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges and priorities, should be magnified also as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs, as coming next after her, or as being second to her."

The Interpretation says:
"3) The fact that the Bishop of Constantinople ought to receive privileges of authority because various Patriarchs and Prelates used to come to the Emperor to beg for his help in their exigencies, and it was necessary for them first to meet the Bishop of Constantinople, in whom they found a man to co-operate with them and to lend them assistance, and through him they were enabled to approach he Emperor, just as, in confirmation of the ancient custom, Justinian prescribed this."

QUESTIONS:
Is Constantinople NOW the capital of a country where the Head of State and the Senate reside?
And even if the Patriarchate were to move to capital Ankara:
Is the Head of Turkey NOW the right person for the world-wide Orthodox Bishops to go to, and to ask him for help?
Editor7/5/2019 10:43 am
Brandon: At question here is not whether Elpidophoros is a bogey man (or anyone else, for that matter). The only real bogey-man is the devil, not people. The author's pulls no punches, but that is simply his style. The real discussion here is whether or not we accept the EP's new idea that he is "first without equal". He Eminence Elpidophoros's paper is not at all ambiguous--he states that the EP is "first without equal". If he is going to make such claims he has to accept the fact that the rest of the Orthodox world will respond. This has always been the case in the fight with heresy in Orthodoxy. Nestorius would also very much have liked to say, "I am the Patriarch of Constantinople and therefore I am right. End of argument." But history shows that in Orthodoxy it simply doesn't work that way. The truth will out, and Christ is always victorious. But the wheat apparently has to be separated from the chaff and the tares have to grow in order for us to see them. Some may not like the author's style, but the issue remains, it is not going away soon, and that is his point.
Rhonda Dodson7/5/2019 7:37 am
As usual the numbers of supposed Greek Orthodox under Constantinople are highly inflated. There have never been 2 million Greeks under Constantinople in the US & Canada. Shoot counting all of the jurisdictions in these 2 nations the numbers come nowhere close to that. In the Us there are about 300-350 thousand for all Eastern Orthodox while Canada has a little less than 300,000. Thus the two countries combined only have about 600-650 thousand not all of which are under Constantinople.
Brandon7/5/2019 3:04 am
And for the other side...




https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2018/12/the-institution-of-autocephaly-in.html

https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2018/12/the-debate-over-declaration-of.html

Metropolitan Hierotheos was there at those meetings and lays out how it all went down. To TRULY understand the EP's position on this and itself, it would be helpful to read HE Hierotheos' writings on this. The EP is not an Eastern Pope, and the Primacy as it is put forth from Constantinople is not Vatican style, contrary to the bogeyman the MP partisans trot out. "Neither Papal Supremacy or a Protestant Confederation," as HE Hierotheos puts it. Archbishop Elpidophoros' writings on this have to be seen within that framework.
Nun Irinea7/4/2019 9:44 pm
It seems we have arrived at the times described in Matthew ch. 24 and the Book of Revelation.
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