Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Met. Elpidophoros of Bursa issues strong retort to Moscow


A Response to the Text on Primacy of the Moscow Patriarchate

Elpidophoros Lambriniadis
Metropolitan of Bursa
Professor of Theology, University of Thessaloniki

In a recent synodal decision,[1] the Church of Russia seems once again[2] to choose its isolation both from theological dialogue with the Catholic Church and from the communion of the Orthodox Churches. Two points are worth noting from the outset, which are indicative of the intent of the Church of Russia’s Synod:

First, its desire to thwart the text of Ravenna,[3] claiming seemingly theological reasons to justify the absence of its delegation from the specific plenary meeting of the bilateral commission (an absence dictated, as everyone knows, by other reasons[4]); and

Second, to challenge in the most open and formal manner (namely, by synodal decree) the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate within the Orthodox world, observing that the text of Ravenna, on which all the Orthodox Churches agreed (with the exception, of course, of the Church of Russia), determines the primacy of the bishop on the three levels of ecclesiological structure in the Church (local, provincial, universal) in a way that supports and ensures the primacy and first-throne Orthodox Church.

The text of the position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the “problem” (as they call it) of Primacy in the universal Church does not deny either the sense or the significance of primacy; and up to this point, it is correct. In addition, however, it endeavors to achieve (indeed, as we shall see, in an indirect way) the introduction of two distinctions related to the concept of primacy.

1. Separation between ecclesiological and theological primacy

The first differentiation contrasts primacy as it applies to the life of the Church (ecclesiology) and as understood in theology. Thus the text of the Moscow Patriarchate is forced to adopt the novel distinction between on the one hand the ‘primary’ primacy of the Lord and on the other hand the ‘secondary’ primacies ["various forms of primacy ... are secondary"] of bishops, although later in the same text it will be suggested that the bishop is the image of Christ [cf 2:1], which seems to imply that the two primacies identical or at least comparable, if not simply identified. Even the scholastic formulation of such distinctions between ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ primacies demonstrates the stealthy contradiction.

Moreover, the desired separation of ecclesiology from theology (or Christology) would have destructive consequences for both. If the Church is indeed the Body of Christ and the revelation of the Trinitarian life, then we cannot talk about differences and artificial distinctions that shatter the unity of the mystery of the Church, which encapsulates the theological (in the narrow sense of the word) and Christological formulations alike. Otherwise, church life is severed from theology and is reduced to a dry administrative institution, while on the other hand a theology without repercussions in the life and structure of the Church becomes a sterile academic preoccupation. According to Metropolitan John of Pergamon: “The separation of the administrative institutions of the Church from dogma is not simply unfortunate; it is even dangerous.”[5]

2. The separation of the different ecclesiological levels

The second differentiation which in our opinion is attempted by the text of the Moscow Patriarchate pertains to the three ecclesiological levels in the structure of the Church. It is here, it seems, that the entire weight of that text hangs. The text states that the primacy of the local diocese is understood and institutionalized in one way, while on the provincial level of an autocephalous archdiocese it is understood in another, and on the level of the universal church in yet another way (cf. 3: “Due to the fact that the nature of primacy, which exists at various levels of church order (diocesan, local and universal) vary, the functions of the primus on various levels are not identical and cannot be transferred from one level to another”).

As the Synodal decision claims, not only do these three primacies differ, but even their sources are different: the primacy of the local bishop stems from the apostolic succession (2:1), the primacy of the head of an autocephalous Church from his election by the synod (2:2), and the primacy of the head of the universal church from the rank attributed to him by the diptychs (3:3). Thus, as the text of the Moscow Patriarchate concludes, these three levels and their corresponding primacies cannot be compared among themselves, as done by the text of Ravenna on the basis of the 34th Apostolic canon.

What is clearly apparent here is the agonizing effort in the present Synodal decision to render primacy as something external and therefore foreign to the person of the first-hierarch. This is what we consider to be the reason why the position of the Moscow Patriarchate insists so greatly on determining the sources of primacy, which always differ from the person of the first-hierarch, in such a way that the first-hierarch is therecipient, rather than the source of his primacy. Does perhaps this dependence also imply independence for the primacy? For the Church, an institution is always hypostasized in a person. We can never encounter an impersonal institution, as the primacy might be perceived without a first-hierarch. It should be clarified here that the primacy of the first-hierarch is also hypostasized by the specific place, the local Church, the geographical region over which as first-hierarch he presides.[6] It is important at this point to observe the following logical and theological contradictions:

(i) If the First-Hierarch is a recipient of (his) primacy, then primacy exists without and regardless of the First, which is impossible. This appears very clearly in the reasons proffered for the primacy on the provincial and ecumenical levels. For the provincial level, the source of the primacy is considered to be the provincial synod; but can there be a synod without a First-Hierarch? The dialectical relationship between the First-Hierarch and the synod, as formulated by the 34th canon of the Apostles (as well as the 9th and 16th canons of Antioch, according to which a synod without a first-hierarch is considered incomplete), is abrogated for the sake of a unilateral relationship where the many comprise the First, contradicting all reason that recognizes the First both as the constitutive factor and guarantor of the unity of the many.[7] A second example of logical contradiction is presented by the Diptychs. Here the symptom is perceived as the cause and the signified mistaken as the sign. The Diptychs are not the source of primacy on the interprovincial level but rather its expression – indeed, only one of its expressions. Of themselves, the Diptychs are an expression of the order and hierarchy of the autocephalous churches, but such a hierarchy requires the First-Hierarch (and then a second, a third, and so on); they cannot in some retrospective way institutionalize the primacy on which they are based.

In order to understand these innovations more clearly, let us look for a moment at what all this would mean if we related and applied them to the life of the Holy Trinity, the true source of all primacy (“Thus says God, the king of Israel, the God of Sabaoth who delivered him; I am the first” Is. 44:6).[8]

The Church has always and systematically understood the person of the Father as the First (“the monarchy of the Father”)[9] 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 beginning of the divinity and fatherhood (“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” Eph. 3.14-15), but becomes a recipient of his own “primacy.” Whence? From the other Persons of the Holy Trinity? Yet how can we suppose this without invalidating the order of theology, as St. Gregory the Theologian writes, or, even worse, without overturning – perhaps we should say “confusing” – the relations of the Persons of the Holy Trinity? Is it possible for the Son or the Holy Spirit to “precede” the Father?
ii) When the text of the Synod in Russia refuses to accept an “ecumenical prelate” (“universal hierarch”) under the pretext that the universality of such a hierarch “eliminates the sacramental equality of bishops” (3:3) it is merely formulating a sophistry. As to their priesthood, of course, all bishops are equal, but they neither are nor can be equal as bishops of specific cities. The sacred canons (like the 3rd canon of the Second Ecumenical Council, the 24th of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, and the 36th of the Quinisext Council) rank the cities, attributing to some the status of a Metropolitanate and to others the status of a Patriarchate. Among the latter, the further attribute to one primatial responsibility, to another secondary responsibility, and so on. Not all local Churches are equal, whether in order or in rank. Moreover, to the extent that a bishop is never a bishop without specific assignment but rather the presiding bishop of a local Church – that is to say, he is always the bishop of a specific city (which is an inseparable feature and condition of the episcopal ordination) – then bishops too are accordingly ranked (that is to say, there is a particular rank attributed to a Metropolitanate and another to a Patriarchate; a particular rank is attributed to the ancient Patriarchates, as endorsed by the Ecumenical Councils, and another attributed to the modern Patriarchates). Thus, within such an order of rank, it is inconceivable for there not to be a first-hierarch.[10] On the contrary, in recent times, we observe the application of a novel primacy, namely a primacy of numbers, which those who today invoke the canonical universal primacy of the Mother Church dogmatize about a rank that is untestified in Church tradition, but rather based on the principle ubi russicus ibi ecclesia russicae, that is to say “wherever there is a Russian, there too the jurisdiction of the Russian Church extends.”

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 (for example, the Archdioceses-Patriarchates of Ochrid, Pec and Turnavo, etc.), a privilege that the Ecumenical Patriarch exercised even in decisions not validated by decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, as in the case of modern Patriarchates, the first of which is that of Moscow.

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 (which, again in contradictory terms the text of the Moscow Patriarchate concedes implicitly but denies explicitly). 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).

[1] Reading and citing from the English text. “Position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the problem of primacy in the Universal Church,” as published on the official website of the Patriarchate of Moscow: https://mospat.ru/en/2013/12/26/news96344/

[2] Characteristic examples of other instances of such isolation include the absence of the Patriarchate of Moscow from the Conference of European Churches, as well as the now established strategy of the representatives of this Church to celebrate the Divine Liturgy separately from the other representatives of Orthodox Churches by closing themselves within the local Embassies of the Russian Federation whenever there is an opportunity for a Panorthodox Liturgy in various contexts.

[3] His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messinia has dealt with this matter in a recent article published on December 30, 2013, on the website: http://www.romfea.gr/diafora-ekklisiastika/21337-2013-12-30-03-52-35.

[4] As for what exactly occurred in Ravenna in 2007, and the painful impressions recorded by Roman Catholic observers, see the analysis of Fr. Aidan Nichols in his book Rome and the Eastern Churches, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2nd edition, 2010, pp. 368-9: In October 2006 [sic], the commission resumed its discussions at Ravenna, though the event was marred by a ‘walkout’ on the part of the Moscow patriarchate’s representative. Bishop Hilarion’s protest was caused not for once by the wrongdoings, real or imagined, of the Catholic Church but by the presence of a delegation from the Estonian Orthodox church, whose autocephaly, underwritten by Constantinople, is still denied in Russia. His action demonstrated, of course, the need precisely for a strong universal primacy so as to balance synodality in the Church.” Elsewhere the author writes: “[t]he decision of the Moscow patriarchate in October 2007 to withdraw its representatives from the Ravenna meeting… was not only an irritating impediment to that dialogue; it was precisely the sort of happening that makes Catholics think the orthodox need the pope as much as the pope needs them.” (p. 369)

[5] “The Synodal Institution: Historical, Ecclesiological and Canonical Issues,” in Theologia 80 (2009), pp. 5-6. [In Greek]

[6] Thus, while the Patriarch of Antioch has for a long time resided in Damascus, he remains the Patriarch of Antioch since Damascus lies within the geographical jurisdiction of that church.

[7] Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Recent Discussions on Primacy in Orthodox Theology,” in the volume edited by Walter Cardinal Kasper, The Petrine Ministry: Catholics and Orthodox in Dialogue, New York: The Newman Press, 2006, pp. 231-248. Also see Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Eucharistic Ecclesiology in the Orthodox Tradition,” Theologia 80 (2009), p. 23. [In Greek]

[8] I have personally dealt with this subject during a lecture at the Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston: “Indeed, in the level of the Holy Trinity the principle of unity is not the divine essence but the Person of the Father (‘Monarchy’ of the Father), at the ecclesiological level of the local Church the principle of unity is not the presbyterium or the common worship of the Christians but the person of the Bishop, so to in the Pan-Orthodox level the principle of unity cannot be an idea nor an institution but it needs to be, if we are to be consistent with our theology, a person.” (http://www.ecclesia.gr/englishnews/default.asp?id=3986)

[9] In his 3rd Theological Oration, St. Gregory the Theologian writes: “As for us, we honor Him as the monarchy” (ΒΕΠΕΣ, 59, p. 239). The concept of monarchy corresponds to “the order of theology“ (5th Theological Oration, p. 279). The All-Holy Trinity does not comprise a federation of persons; So we should not be scandalized when the Theologian himself of the Fathers speaks of the monarchy and primacy of the divine Father.

[10] This argument has been clearly articulated in the article by John Manoussakis, entitled “Primacy and Ecclesiology: The State of the Question,” in the collective work entitled Orthodox Constructions of the West, edited by Aristotle Papanikolaou and George Demacopoulos, New York: Fordham University Press, 2013, p. 233.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The Moscow paper never stated that universal primacy was derived from the diptychs as its source. Such a claim is "sophistry", which is to say that it is a straw man.

    "…[the] Archbishop of Constantinople is the first-hierarch WITHOUT equals (primus sine paribus)." To a certain degree I can see his point, but this is line of reasoning is dangerous and truly alarming!

    The irony here is that +Elpidophoros is the "Metropolitan" of Bursa, which is an ancient see that I believe is no longer in existence. So in essence he is a bishop without a Church, i.e., a shepherd without a flock. Yet, he states, "Moreover, to the extent that a bishop is never a bishop without specific assignment but rather the presiding bishop of a local Church – that is to say, he is always the bishop of a specific city (which is an inseparable feature and condition of the episcopal ordination)…". Yes, his title includes the "specific city" of Bursa, but he has no actual Church that he oversees, which belies the interdependent theology of the episcopate & ecclesiology, and this is a problem according to him because he quotes "Metropolitan" John of Pergamon (brilliant thinker, but another ancient see that no longer exists) as saying, “The separation of the administrative institutions of the Church from dogma is not simply unfortunate; it is even dangerous.” Apparently, he likes to have is cake and eat it too.

    True enough, he makes a few good points in this essay, but on the whole it is week.

  3. Just a quick correction Bursa and Pergamon are both active sees, the Metropolitan of Bursa also purchased a new church recently in the city. Also just to note, the fact that a see is under persecution does not discredit the fact that it is a Bishopric; both metropolitans serve on the Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarch and more importantly besides having parishes and living christians both living in the city or immigrants in other parts of the world these Metropolitans represent the thousands of martyrs their respective and historic metropolises have had, since the dead still live in the body of the Church.

    1. It is odd, then, that the Metropolitan did not reference any living Faithful in Bursa in his enthronement speech.
      Persecution does not discredit a diocese (quite the opposite!), but non-existence does.
      If the Metropolitan bought the Church in Bursa to fill it with local Faithful, more power to him!

    2. I agree with Isa Almisry, +Elpidophoros did not mention a single living sheep of his flock in his enthronement speech, but he made many references to the glories of its history.

      Your point about the martyrs is not valid because living bishops do not oversee the departed saints, they lead the faithful still on this earth.

      My understanding was that both Bursa & Pergamon were merely titular sees, similar to the see of Troas that Metropolitan Savas held before he was elected to the see of Pittsburgh, and the see of Phasiane that Bishop Andonios (auxiliary to Archbishop Demetrios of America) holds, etc.

      I would love to stand corrected that both Bursa & Pergamon are active local Churches (i.e., bishoprics) with clearly defined geographical boundaries which include parishes headed by priests who pastor flocks of living faithful. Please provide some demographic data to substantiate your claim.

    3. Dear "Hellenic Student Association", while eagerly awaiting your reply, which I hope will contain the requested demographic data, I reread +Elpidophoros' enthronement speech, and took the liberty of cutting & pasting the relevant quotes [emphasis mine]:

      "Despite my shortcomings, I was elevated to Metropolitan of the VACANT Eparchy of Proussa, one of the historical satellite cities of Constantinople on the Asian antipodes of Adrianoupolis."

      "The Orthodox Christian population of the city, which THRIVED [PAST TENSE] spiritually, ecclesiastically and materially...For reasons known only to the Lord, Proussa, its seaport Moudania, Triglia, Syge and Elegmoi, the principal districts of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Proussa, were FORCEFULLY VACATED, while those who survived settled in Greece..."

      "Finally, as the humble shepherd of an Eparchy of the Throne in Bithynia that PRESENTLY LIES IN RUINS, allow me convey a fervent greeting and modest hierarchical prayer and blessing to all those in the world that are from Proussa, Triglia and Moudania [i.e., THERE ARE NO ORTHODOX THERE NOW]."

      His entire enthronement homily/speech can be read here: http://www.ortodoksi.net/index.php/Homily_of_Metropolitan_Elpidophoros_of_Proussa_20.3.2011

      The Church you mentioned that was recently purchased in Bursa was built in 789 & is now literally in ruins. It is not a temple that a parish community uses to celebrate the Diving Liturgy in: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2012/09/ecumenical-patriarchate-purchases-8th.html

      Also, if you Google "Metropolis of Pergamon" or "Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon" you will clearly find that Pergamon is a bishopric that is no longer in existence, and the see is now merely titular.

      Again, I would love to be proven wrong, and therefore, would truly appreciate any evidence you can present that these are active bishoprics because it would serve to stop making a farce out of the office & purpose of the bishop.

    4. I will try my best to answer the question posed above but I do not realize the anger attached to them.

      1. The best was to see what sees are active and what are not simply looking at the official list of the Ecumenical Patriarchate can help.
      2. Troas and Phassiane are both titular as well as Ware's Diokaleia
      3. There is a whole theology about the commemoration of the dead and it's significance and since H.E. Pergamon for example commemorates all the past sheep of his flock this is important for the souls past.
      4. As for the current sheep, there are many organizations made up of the thousands of families from Bursa and Pergamon, these societies often meet with the Metropolitans of their homeland and travel back and forth.
      5. The very nature of their name prevents me from being able to use their existence as proof I will simply reference them but crypto christians that abound Turkey
      6. In reference to the Church purchased by Metropolitan Elpidophoros it is step one and there was a great turnout from both locals and former locals.
      7. Finally lets remember that we cannot base a see from what it does and does not have, the Bishop makes the diocese otherwise it would simply fall under another Bishop. I will give an example of how making criteria as opposed to accepting official church statement, for the Church of Greece it is unheard of for a diocese to not have a monastic community. While in the U.S. this is quite common, the fact that the church is not officially recognized in a country such as many Middle Eastern nation would also be unheard of for the Church of Greece. Any way no matter what we say what matters is what the Holy Synod has declared, in that case the above website can guide the faithful.
      *and just to add I have seen many parishes in my travels to the U.S. that are in shambles and would not even make for a chapel in Greece yet the faithful that attend it (even if the parish is only open for the feast day) make it into a spiritual Cathedral.

      The only farce that exists in the office of the Bishop is when five bishops all claim the same territory.

  4. You sensed anger in my questions? I have absolutely no anger about this subject, and I can't figure out what I wrote that would lead you to infer that. I simple stated an objection, and then made logical / factual arguments. The trouble with communicating via the written word alone is that much is not conveyed (facial expression, tone of voice, cadence, etc.) and, as a result, the text is vulnerable to misinterpretation.

    I agree with you that it is a farce that multiple bishops claim archpastoral authority in the same territory.

    I have been on the EP's website (I'm a member of the GOA & I'm on my parish council), but that list of metropolitans does not proof anything. For example, +Nikitas (Lulias) is listed as the Metropolitan of Dardanelles. Dardanelles is clearly not an active see as evidenced by the fact that the late Metropolitan Anthony (Gergiannakis) of San Francisco held the title "Metropolitan of Dardanelles" (while continuing to live in San Francisco) for a few years after the Synod of the EP elevated the GOA dioceses to metropolises. +Nikitas lives in the US & really only heads the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute (PAOI) in Berkely, California without serving in any type of archpastoral capacity, and he has also served on the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in his current position (i.e., after he transitioned form an active Metropolitan of Hong Kong to a titular Metropolitan of Dardanelles). Ergo, it does not logically follow that Bursa is an active see based upon your appeal to the website, which is obviously not technically accurate.

    Furthermore,+Elpidophoros' own words, which I posted yesterday, explicitly state that the see of Bursa is vacant. You never addressed those quotes. I guess you would be arguing with him rather than me if you did, but I be interested to hear your take if you have one.

    Additionally, your appeal the the website as proof that Bursa is an active bishopric also begs the question of who +Elpidophoros succeeded?

    I hope and pray that there are, as you put it, crypto Orthodox Christians in Turkey, but again that doesn't prove that Brusa is an active bishopric. Local Churches still have canonical structures that must be observed. Veiled references to an "underground" Church in Bursa is not a respectable or acceptable refutation of my points. Plus, Turkey, while not truly a secular government, is not persecuting the Christians like Egypt is so there is really no need to go "underground" at this point.

    The thousands of people who were displaced from Bursa in centuries & decades past would no longer be part of that bishopric, even if it were still active. The most basic aspect of Orthodox ecclesiology is that the Church is a local phenomenon. Christians living in a particular place are under the omophorion of the local bishop, provided there is an active & canonical local Church there.

    Yes, we should pray for our departed brothers & sisters, but that doesn't really have much bearing on this current topic. Its a red herring.

  5. Again this will be my last comment it, to be quite technical the Metropolitan of a specific see does not need a single parishioner to be an active see, all it needs is a place in the synod according to the order of the Church, again you used the word technically so this is technical if you want to speak generally then yes many on the list are not active but technically speaking they are.

    1. And out of respect for the thousands of Christian that suffer in Turkey, perhaps not as drastically as our brothers in Syria they are in fact persecuted, I will not comment. I will simply take your statement as ill informed, I assumed you have not been to Turkey and definitely not passed Istanbul where it looks more like the persecutions of Syria.

    2. Perhaps there is more persecution in Turkey than I am privy to, but that is another matter. I'm not interested in debating it, and I'll continue to regularly pray for my suffering brothers & sisters around the world.

      The basic issue that we've been discussing is simple. I stated that Bursa & Pergamon were not active bishoprics but instead merely titular see. You claimed otherwise. I've provided evidence to substantiate my claim, and you've consistently changed topics & have been unwilling or unable to either provide any solid evidence to support your claim or refute the evidence that I've presented in support of my claim.

      Unless you are willing to present some substantive information that verifies your assertion that Bursa & Pergamon are active local Churches then "I'll rest my case", which is that both Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa & Metropolitan John of Pergamon are each are guilty of a practice that is diametrically opposed to the theology they promote - namely, accepting episcopal ordination in order to become ecclesiastical bureaucrats rather than real archpastors of real local Churches.

      Your rhetoric is heavy on the ethos & pathos but light on the logos, if I may be permitted to use the Aristotelian terms.

      Please reply in turn or not...

    3. Postscrip: Are you writing from the Phanar? I ask because your style of argumentation is unfortuantely all too familiar.

  6. It does seem a bit of sophistry to claim a diocese is a diocese if no one exists in it. St. Basil, in fighting the Arians made lots of diocesan bishops but they served real people even if they were just small villages (to St. Gregory the Theologians great annoyance). "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them..." - what of a diocese where even the bishop doesn't live there?

  7. Flavius, you're right. The non-negotiable patristic doctrine is that the Church is the community of the faithful living in a particular local surrounding their bishop who presides at the eucharist celebration. The late Fr. Nicholas Afanasiev & then Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon have published many academic papers to help remind us of this "eucharist ecclesiology", which is the hallmark of Orthodoxy.

    Metropolitan John (Zizioulas), in his book "Eucharist, Bishop, Church: The Unity of the Church in the Divine Eucharist and the Bishop During the First Three Centuries", has championed the revival of the view that a bishop has no purpose apart from his Church & a Church cannot function without its bishop . CliffsNotes: A bishop exist to serve his Church & the Church depends on the bishop for access to valid holy mysteries. Again, nothing new here - just bread & butter patristic theology.

    +Elpidophoros himself acknowledges this when he states in this most recent paper: "Moreover, to the extent that a bishop is never a bishop without specific assignment but rather the PRESIDING BISHOP OF A LOCAL CHURCH – that is to say, he is always the bishop of a specific city (which is an inseparable feature and condition of the episcopal ordination)…" [emphasis mine].

    Our friend "Hellenic Student Association" seems to accept the de facto modern day practices of our EP where the Phanar is swarming with bishops of one rank or another who have no actual Churches that they oversee & are really only ecclesiastical bureaucrats, and this is aberrant (?heretical) precisely because it belies both the theology (i.e, "theory") & the canons (i.e., "practice") of the episcopate & ecclesiology.

    So again, this take us back to my initial assertion that +Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) & +John (Zizioulas), both of whom are bishops without Churches, are guilty of a dangerous hypocrisy, one in which actions speak louder than words in undermining the credibility of the Orthodox witness. Ironically, it would seem that they both understand the dangers inherent in this hypocrisy because Lambriniadis actually quoted Zizioulas as saying: “The separation of the administrative institutions of the Church from dogma is not simply unfortunate; it is even dangerous.”


    1. Timmy and JF:
      I hope that you don't mind, but I repeated your excellent points on pastors of non-existent pastures at OC.net

    2. Isa, I can't speak for Josephus Flavius, but I'm happy to hear that you're sharing the discussion on another blog (can you supply a link?) because this is a problem that urgently needs to be identified and acknowledged then corrected. It's my personal belief that ecclesiology & the related issues of the episcopate & primacy are the contemporary heresies ravaging the Orthodox Church today. My hope is that at some point in the not too distant future the Church will express a conciliar statement confirming the Orthodox position on these issues, putting the issue to rest, and after some more time goes by we'll look back & be glad that the we successfully weathered that storm… However, that won't happen until we as the Church are all talking about it. That's my 2 cents.

    3. I had waited to see if JF would say something about posting the link-it is, after all his dime here.
      The quotes from here and link to this blog are here: