Monday, December 2, 2019

Does this actually signal anything?

Athens, November 28 (Interfax) - The name of the head of Ukraine's new church, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, (OCU) Metropolitan Yepifaniy Dumenko was for the first time mentioned by a hierarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church during a liturgy service.

Bulgaria's Metropolitan Nikolay of Plovdiv led the morning service at a church in Greece's Langadas, the Greek website Romalewfronimati reported. During the liturgy service, a deacon read a local diptych (a list containing heads of Orthodox Churches to be mentioned in certain order), including the OCU head, the website said.

Three hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church - two metropolitan and one bishop - concelebrated the liturgy with the Bulgarian metropolitan.

The Langadas Diocese is on the Moscow Patriarchate's list of Greek Orthodox dioceses in Greece undesirable to visit by pilgrims as their ruling metropolitans have come to liturgical communion or communion of prayer with OCU representatives.

So far, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has not given a definitive answer as to whether it recognizes the uncanonical church of Ukraine set up with support from Constantinople and the former Ukrainian administration a year ago.


  1. Our position is that we recognize Metropolitan Onoufry and do not commune the Epiphanyites in Bulgaria. However we are in communion with the Phanar and the Church of Greece. A rather delicate balancing act.

  2. I would take a deep breath before reading much into this. When you are in somebody else's church, they will normally dictate who is being commemorated. If this becomes a pattern or the Bulgarians start doing it in their own churches, then we will have a problem. That said, my gut does not think think the Bulgarians will go down this road. Of course my gut said the same thing about Alexandria.

  3. I agree with John, in that "more" is probably needed to read these tea leaves.

    That said, I don't agree with him in the nature of the "problem". The scorched earth, legalistic, "canonical" reading of the MP propaganda machine and its followers was and is never going to be reality. Real people in real churches in this real (fallen) world do not fit into such a simplistic schema.

  4. If I am correct it was the deacon reading the commemorations, not the Metropolitan of Plovdiv himself, may be wrong tho.

    1. And this is a very significant detail! I have read the same thing.

  5. Bulgaria would be wise to steer clear of the schismatics.

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  8. Posted stuff and more stuff and then thought better of it.

    A Blessed Fast to those on the Old Calendar as well!

    Everyone is watching this like its a political campaign (which sadly it is). Bulgaria will decide what it decides. The fact that HE Nikolay celebrated Liturgy without sanction means that opinion in Bulgaria isn't all negative on the OCU. The fact that Interfax and UOJ have both gone into attack mode and declare it as a "move to recognition" is significant. Whether it ultimately means recognition or not one can only speculate, but the MP partisan mouthpieces wouldn't have begun laying the groundwork for the expanding "American Conspiracy" if things in Bulgaria were solidly in the MP's favor.

    We'll see what happens, I guess. But it doesn't matter if the Deacon read the names. That is the same sort of legalistic contortion the MP partisans tried to make when Archbishop Jerome commemorated Metropolitan Epiphany for the first time.

    I will say this, attacking the Bulgarian Church will not make them friendly towards the MP position. This is what seems to have been lost on the MP when they were trying to sway the Church of Greece.

  9. Here we go again. MP partisan I have not seen anything as partisan and corrupt as the current meanderings of Constantinople in my entire lifetime. I have very good friends who are visiting America from Bulgaria. They tell me that there are some very solid Hierarchs who will never recognize the schismatic laypeople who are trying to pretend to be Hierarchs in the OCU. And, on the other hand there are some who have been pressured greatly by Bartholomew and various political entities. As you say, David...we shall see.

  10. Mikail, the same was said about the Ukrainians in North America (who come from the exact same schism). But as we saw, such things can be "worked out."

    There is propaganda going both ways. RISU is also a propaganda organ, but in reverse. Romfea has gone on about the "perogatives" of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    UOJ can post their cute little photo shop hatchet jobs and scurrilous articles as much as they like. the business of the Church goes on, which is to save souls. It is not a foregone conclusion that those hierarchs who oppose the OCU will always remain in opposition. It was MP threats of schism and excommunication that prevented many from looking too deeply into the matter. As times goes on and more Churches do so, the power of those threats diminish more and more.

    And yes, we'll see.

  11. The UOJ has been reporting some of the most real and honest stories that I have seen throughout this entire I don't know what planet you've been living on. The horror of this schism has already revealed itself. Now it's up to the hierarchs to show some courage. The only one making threats is the man in Istanbul who claims to be first without equals as he threatens to revoke the autocephaly of any Church which dares to oppose him.

    PS...Are you sure that the Ukrainians in America have been "worked out"?

    1. Mikail,

      It all comes back to HAH Bartholomew, doesn't it? Ukraine is just a pawn in a much larger argument/conflict. It is akin to the ugliness of a divorce, where hateful parents try and turn their children against the other.

      As for the Ukrainian Church in North America, yes, it has been "worked out." There were some who rejected the opportunity to reconcile with the Church in the 90s, and there are some KP holdouts now, but they are a small minority (just as in Ukraine) but like Metropolitan Philaret in Ukraine and the Old Calendarists elsewhere, they sadly have made their decisions (overtures to the Old Calendarists and others continue, though. Archbishop Makarios of Australia is making progress on that front). The great majority have moved on, and are integrating back into the Church. The UOC in North America are in communion with everyone (except maybe a few cranks in ROCOR and elsewhere who still see them as "schismatics") and they have a functioning seminary. They are integrated into American Orthodox life. That is the REAL goal, isn't it? That is what we want, right?

      The only difference between the UOC in America and the OCU is geography. Same "schism," same "Canonical Issues." This is why the MP's opposition now rings so hollow to me and betrays the geopolitical and ecclesial kicking match between the EP and MP. That is what it is really about. If the MP had limited their break in Communion to protest the EP's violation of their Canonical Territory, they probably would be in a better position Church wide (and I would be much more sympathetic). But they went further, and made it about the OCU itself (declaring the EP as "schismatic" in the process), which as we saw with the Ukrainians in North America and the other "Canonical irregularities" of the 20th Century, is one sided and self serving. This really is just about Territory and "Who's First." A very old argument in our Church, unfortunately. That is why nobody else has broken Communion. They see it for what it is.

    2. "The only difference between the UOC in America and the OCU is geography. Same "schism," same "Canonical Issues." This is why the MP's opposition now rings so hollow to me and betrays the geopolitical and ecclesial kicking match between the EP and MP. That is what it is really about..."

      Well stated. Not that the MP propaganda bots will be anything other than a football themselves ;)

  12. Personally, I do not attend the Ukrainian Churches in America because of their canonical issues...but that's another story. And for your information, this IS about the OCU. Where have you been? Bartholomew raided the territory of another Church's jurisdiction after decades of recognizing it as the jurisdiction of the Church of Russia. He continually agreed with the fact that the two schismatic groups were not validly ordained (or defrocked)...then he did a 180 in his hypocrisy. But the worst part...he now concelebrates with a group of laymen who are pretending to be clergy and hierarchs. You can't make this stuff up! Anathema!

    1. Mikail,

      So it is about a Territorial Violation. Why didn't the MP just leave it at that? They would be standing on much more solid ground, and would likely have more friends in the Greek Churches to boot. Instead they declared war on the Ecumenical Patriarchate and managed to alienate the vast majority of Greek Bishops and laity.

      As for the OCU, they and the UOC-USA are the same. The precedent was set by the MP itself when they accepted what the EP did. As I have been saying like a broken record, that was the blueprint the EP followed in Ukraine (which is why the UOC in North America hierarchy were the point men in the formation of the OCU).

      The OCU was received en masse by the EP before the Tomos, so at the very least they are EP clergy uncanonically squatting in Ukraine.

      If you want to scowl and call them the UOC-EP and say you want nothing to do with them, fine, whatever. But they are valid clergy now, whether you like it or not. I would receive a blessing and commune from Metropolitan Epiphany just as surely as I would from Patriarch Kyrill himself. The OCU/UOC-EP are here to stay. The MP lost their chance to prevent that when they broke Communion with the EP.

      The UOC-USA are not the bogeyman, and neither are the OCU. I think the MP will realize this once the non-Greek Churches start recognizing the OCU.

      It is sad, because it didn't have to be with this way. I think if Bulgaria recognizes the OCU, that will be THE domino for the Non-Greek Churches. We'll see what happens, as I said.

    2. Wow! Is it necessary for you to keep writing dissertations with every post? It is much more than territory...and you know it. It is about the holy canons of the Church. And for your information, there are a number of very good tradition Greek bishops who are standing with Metropolitan Onuphriy and the canonical Church (UOC).

      THE OCU are not valid clergy. I think you know that in your heart.

      If you think all the Churches are going to start recognizing the layman, Epiphany, you are dreaming.

      Quite frankly, the Green Patriarch is cut from the same cloth as Francis in Rome. I think they should unite sooner than later and let all the phanariotes join follow. Then the Orthodox can continue in peace...and you can commune from Epiphany AND Francis! 😉

    3. Mikail,

      I actually take the time to thoughtfully answer people's posts.

      The Moscow Patriarchate puts aside the Canons when it suits them (and sometimes that's ok, because Economia is a real thing, despite the legalists).

      I happen to believe in the Bishop's power to bind and loose, and while this power is not absolute, it is there. The Bishops have to apply them as best they can in keeping with their Spirit, and for the most part they do (Christ is in control, despite ourselves). You shouldn't push that point too far, because it is a "legalistic" reading of the Canons that underpins the EP's claims of Primacy and its perogatives. "But those Canons were written centuries ago and no longer apply!!!" RIGHT. So we are legalists when it suits us and go to Economy and History when it doesn't? If the MP cared so much about the Canonical Order in Ukraine, they would have rejected and opposed the EP's reception of the UOC-America and broken Communion then. They did not, because it was in the Diaspora (so I guess the Canonical Order means nothing in the "Barbarian Lands", further highlighting the absurdity of a legalistic reading in light of the 20th Century Mess).

      The OCU are at the bare minimum, EP Clergy. Unless now the MP wants to take a hardline against the illicit reception of vagante and unreleased clerics. They would do well to start an audit of their own house if they want to do that.

      Greece and Alexandria have already recognized Metropolitan Epiphany. Individual Bishops in other Churches have done the same. By continuing communion with the EP, everybody else is in communion with the OCU, albeit indirectly (Kind of like how ROCOR was never "outside of the Church" because they retained Communion with Jerusalem and Serbia).

      This isn't about tit for tat. This is about what is right for the Orthodox in Ukraine. Let the OCU and UOC-MP co-exist for awhile, and see what happens. If the OCU is known as the UOC-EP by others and gets the OCA treatment in conciliar gatherings, then fine.

      And there you go back to the EP. It is about the Ecumenical Patriarchate. That is what this is really all about.

      You said before I was a brother, and now I am a schismatic and Phanariot and I am not Orthodox? Which is it?

  13. Wow! Another dissertation!

    Careful with your American Ukrainian comparisons. They are apples and oranges. Although there is similarity in the questionable nature of their ordinations.

    The OCU are not clergy. Even Bart admitted this until his power grab last year.

    Many solid bishops of the COG and Alexandria do not recognize the OCU laymen. As I predicted, Bart is causing internal schisms within other Churches(and he has divided the holy mountain).

    You are correct. It is about Bartholomew going rogue...and if you follow him into oblivion, you will also cease to be Orthodox. I pray that it won't be so my brother.

    1. "...The OCU are not clergy..."

      In truth, it's the opposite in that by the letter of the law it is the MP's "jurisdiction" and uncanonical sect in the Ukraine that is not canonical. The Ukraine is not the MP's canonical territory - never was, and never will be. When will these schismatics repent I wonder? Are they destined for Hell? I pray it won't be so my brother...

    2. Mikail,

      Why is the UOC-USA acceptable and the OCU is not? I have not gotten an answer to this question from any MP supporter. They just keep going on and on about HAH Bartholomew, or they grumble about the MP "making a mistake" when they did that and that they are "drawing the line" against the EP's "power grabs." Either way, they dodge the question.

      It wasn't a mistake. It was an act of pastoral economy. I think the Ukrainian situation in North America and its aftermath is one of the key pieces in the debate over whether or not to recognize the OCU. I think the UOC-USA/Canada is the model (the EP even implied as much by choosing their hierarchs to oversee the Reunion in Ukraine).

      So I ask you, Mikail (or anyone else, really)----what is the difference between the UOC-North America and the OCU? Both come from the same "Fascist and Schismatic" tree. Why is one ok, and the other is not?

    3. "...what is the difference between the UOC-North America and the OCU? Both come from the same "Fascist and Schismatic" tree. Why is one ok, and the other is not?"

      One possible reason is that it goes against the policy/desire for "containment" (to choose a word) of jurisdictionalism/ethno-nationalism. While the EP, MP, and everyone else are obviously hypocritical about jurisdictinalism/ethnonationalism (as they accept it in Europe, NA, SA, east Asia, etc.) they have managed up until now to keep jurisdictionalism out of traditional Slave/Greek/Arab lands. All this rests of course on the recently deceased "gentleman's agreement" around ontology of the Church post-Empire. Is Ukraine contextually but the usual Greek vs. Slave back and forth within this agreement, or is it evidence that the agreement has fundamentally broken down within the context of a modern world? I lean toward the latter obviously, but most within the Church seem to want to continue to live the agreement, however strained and artificial.

      In any case, a non propaganda bot reply to your question...

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    5. Jake,

      The MP views the EP as a rump Patriarchate propped up by the Western Powers, and the EP views the MP as an arm of the Russian Government, with its own ambitions to seize control of the Church.

      As long as this mutual distrust continues, there can be no peace. There have been hurts and slights inflicted by both sides against the other over a long period of time. This break in Communion was inevitable, given the situation. If it wasn't over Ukraine, it would have been over something else. Relations were fairly cordial for a little while, but the reception of the UOC-North America and Estonia angered the MP, and on the flip side the MP's attempt to subvert EP Missions in Asia and elsewhere (traditionally MP Missions, but the EP took them over because the governments in those regions expelled the MP due to their ties to the Soviet Government). The MP viewed it as the EP poaching their territory, but that is not how it was (not everywhere, anyway). Things got icy after all of this, and then what happened in Crete was the last straw. Concelebrations slowed and simmering anger was the order of the day. It wouldn't have taken much for a blow up to occur.

      This is how it is when brothers fight, especially when there are pent up grudges. The EP says a Council would be a waste of time. The MP says that they won't attend a council the EP calls anyway.

      God is in control, always. I personally believe that reconciliation will come, but it will be the EP and MP's successors (or their successors) who have the Kiss of Peace. I've reconciled myself to the fact that I may not be able to commune in a Russian Church in my lifetime. That is sad, but as we saw with Bulgaria and other schisms in the Church's history, not unprecedented.

      Hopefully, some kind of new agreement can be reached. I like the idea of a council presided over by someone other than the EP, to help sooth bad blood. I think Albania should be it, but that would require a willingness of both sides to give up something. The MP has to accept the OCU in some form (maybe not the Tomos). The EP has to accept that the granting of autocephaly and other acts of primacy have to be truly conciliar, and not just the acts of the EP Synod. I pray it may be so. I find such politics distasteful. Lord, have mercy.

    6. David, I liked your 8:05 post - it framed the historical (but more than "mere" history in the modern sense) reality of the rapid world-and-Church changes of the last 100 years quite well.

      When you say

      "... willingness of both sides to give up something. The MP has to accept the OCU in some form (maybe not the Tomos). The EP has to accept that the granting of autocephaly and other acts of primacy have to be truly conciliar, and not just the acts of the EP Synod..."

      it reveals we don't really know how to even begin. What does "conciliar" really look like for the Church in the modern world? Our current model is so anachronistic that we don't even know where to begin, or have a real picture of where we want to go.

      The deep work of Florvorsky is informative, if only to reveal how even a person with the faculties and command of theology/ecclesiology such as him ends up at an very open ended "neoPatristic synthesis" which itself was but a pointer, an outline at most, yet itself so difficult that most folks (even those who go to seminary or make an academic study of it) get it wrong and reduce it to some lessor thing. Lord have mercy indeed.

    7. Jake,

      Ah so you read it? I deleted it because I thought maybe I was "lecturing" at you and I don't want to do that.

      I have come to see the depth of the "Emperor problem," and am coming to believe that there is no "solution" that we can devise. The Latins tried that with the Papacy, but we see how that has gone off the rails in modern times. The Non-Chalcedonians gave the idea of an Emperor or Protos the heave ho not long after St. Constantine, but they are only just beginning to have an evangelical presence and they are even more closely bound to ethnicity than we are.

      I like the Romanian suggestion of a standing Pan-Orthodox Synod, but again that would require a lot of humility. With God all things are possible, though. It defies easy and "neat" answers.

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  15. Hi David,

    I will not comment on your UOC-USA comparisons because I do not care to start another series of dissertations about them. Fr. John Whiteford reads this blog. Perhaps he will be kind enough to answer your concerns. But I do have one question. Are you saying that the hierarchy of the UOC-USA have no valid ordinations... like today's OCU?

    NOW...there is no pastoral "economy" in the invasion of another Churches jurisdiction. There is no pastoral "economy" in allowing laymen to pretend they are hierarchs and clergy as they are handed a pseudo-tomos. And what have been the fruits of this act in the past year? Church seizures. Beatings of clergy and parishioners of the canonical Church (UOC). Internal schisms within the Church of Greece and Alexandria. A divided Mt. Athos. Enmity throughout world Orthodoxy. And the list goes on. No, David. This was far from pastoral "economy". This was a Church dividing power grab.

    1. Mikail,

      You are avoiding the question. The UOC-USA were received by the EP (as the OCU was) and as a result their "deficiencies" were corrected, WITH the full (although grudgingly) assent of the MP. The UOC-North America was in the same spot "canonically" as the OCU prior to the EP's intervention in both cases. So my answer is that BOTH have "valid" ordinations as a result. If Heterodox Baptism can be "corrected" if they have the proper form, why not ordinations with the "proper form?" These complicated questions defy the simplistic talking points of the UOJ.

      The OCU were received by the EP (as the UOC-USA was), therefore, they are not laypeople. They are EP clergy at the very least (unless it is YOU who are saying the UOC-USA are still "schismatics").

      As for your point about the invasion of the MP's we are getting somewhere. That is the whole point I have been making. This is about the Jurisdictional tit for tat the EP and MP have been engaging in for decades. The EP just brought it into the MP's backyard, escalating the situation...but its the same situation.

      Villagers are fighting over their Churches. The Churches belong to the village community, and not the grandmas who attend Liturgy every Sunday. If the village community decides to take their Church into the OCU, then "legally" they have the right to do so, irregardless of what the "faithful" say. Is that right? Absolutely not, but it isn't as the UOJ portrays. These Church fights are a common feature of conflicts like this. It even happened in America, complete with fisticuffs and court battles.

      THere are no schisms in the Church of Greece and Alexandria. A handful of bishops have voiced dissenting opinions, but remain in Communion and life is going on. Yes, Mt. Athos is divided on the question, but there are no schisms. HAH is commemorated at ALL Monasteries.

      See beyond the UOJ talking points, Mikail. Jake has engaged the question critically, even if you disagree with him. (I will reply to his post when I have more time).

    2. I will ask you again. The OCU does not have valid ordinations. Does the UOC-USA?
      See this:

      Villages are not fighting over Churches. The schismatics are seizing them.

      There are internal schisms within the the COG and Alexandria. These will become more pronounced if a synod is not convened.

      It is more than jurisdiction, David, and you know it. Bartholomew is in communion with a group of laymen playing pretend Church and it is tearing world Orthodoxy apart. The sooner you acknowledge this, the better off you will be.

  16. Mikail,

    I already told you. The OCU's ordinations were "validated" by the EP receiving them, as it was with the UOC-USA (Their Ordinations are "Valid," to use the crude legalism).

    Those "schismatics" are their neighbors. In the literally thousands of parishes in Ukraine, these incidents have happened in maybe a dozen or so places (demonstrating the unfortunate division in some villages). In Crimea and occupied Donbass, the OCU are being turned out into the street and abused. As I said, an ugly civil war with a religious element.

    Nobody has broken Communion, Mikail. Not even Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, who has stayed irenic and conciliatory (despite MP media's attempts to pry fire and brimstone out of him with their "interviews").

    You are still parroting UOJ talking points and not addressing anything I have said.

    if the UOC-USA are "valid," Canonical and Orthodox, why not the OCU? You keep dodging the question. I told you the answer was yes. DO YOU think the UOC-USA is canonical and "valid?"

  17. The OCU's so-called ordinations are NOT validated. Many were never ordained with apostolic succession to begin with, and the others were defrocked. The fact that Bartholomew decided to go full hypocrisy and give them a tomos, does not magically normalize their status. Did you read the article I linked for you?

    The hierarchs within the two Churches which recognized the schismatics, who do not agree, will not commemorate Epiphany. If this continues, I assure you they will break communion.

    I have addressed everything you have said, but you do not have ears to hear.

    You have answered your own question. If the UOC-USA ordinations are validated, there are no parallels because the OCU's ordinations are not validated.

    David, you keep talking in circles. If you are moved to recognize and honor this heinous schism which Bartholmew has created, then go for it. You will never convince me otherwise, and I will defend the Church against this abomination until the end of my days.

    1. "...The OCU's so-called ordinations are NOT validated... Bartholomew decided to go full hypocrisy and give them a tomos, does not magically normalize their status... If the UOC-USA ordinations are validated, there are no parallels because the OCU's ordinations are not validated..."

      I would say this is a strange version of RC ecclesiology, but it's not even that - at best it's a reductio ad absurdum. Your just making it up as you go along - probably until the end of your days...

    2. Mikail,

      DO YOU think the UOC-USA has valid ordinations? You said so yourself that you don't attend their Churches. Why not? If they are "valid," What's the problem?

      Of course, we say the UOC-USA is valid, so do the other Churches, EVEN the MP. How is that so, when the UOC-USA are "schismatics?"

      DO YOU think the UOC-USA/Canada have valid ordinations?

    3. My point, is that if the UOC-USA can have their issues fixed, then so can the OCU. The MP grandfathered in ROCOR's reception of defrocked and excommunicated clergy by the mere stroke of a pen (in Korea and Indonesia---sadly, Father Daniel has gone into schism again, for God knows what reason). These issues are not as clear cut as you may believe.

    4. It seems to me that after decades of chaos, there was finally a "re-ordination" that was acceptable...and some Churches and clergy were still skeptical. I am not particularly knowledgeable about the situation because there were so many twists and turns. I choose to not attend Liturgies at their Churches or receive communion from their clergy. My reasons I will not discuss on a blog.

      However, 1/3 of the so-called bishops of the so-called OCU were ordained by a defrocked deacon who ended up in prison in Australia! The others were either defrocked and/or anathematized.

      I suppose the similarities are the chaos surrounding each group. But it is really quite different...and for you to hang your hat on quite absurd.

    5. I bring up the UOC-USA because despite their problems (which you admit were numerous) and the fact that they are a branch of the same schism, they were received with the (albeit unhappy) permission of the MP.

      That is what I am trying to say. There is a way to "fix this," there just has to be a willingness on the MP's part. "Problematic" ordinations and jurisdictional musical chairs was not an impediment to pastoral solutions in the 20th Century, and it is not an impediment now. Moscow chooses Akrevia because it is in their interests to do so, which having nothing to do with pastoral considerations.

      I happen to have a great love and respect for the Russian Church, and have Russians in my life whom I consider family. I also happen to think Metropolitan Onuphry is a great man and there are many holy people in the UOC-MP. I also believe that NOBODY should be getting in fist fights over Churches or hitting anyone. But it cuts both ways, Mikail. There is a lot of pain from the Soviet period and before that is unresolved, and when grudges and wounds are that deep, it is all the more terrible.

  18. Now here is my point David.

    Our conversations are a perfect example of the massive division caused by Bartholomew. At the end of the day, we each must attend to our conscience. For my part, I will not follow Bartholomew down this road. I do not recognize the schismatic OCU or anyone who chooses to commemorate Epiphany. You, on the other hand, feel that Bartholomew has done nothing out of the ordinary.

    We are following different paths according to conscience. I believe that Bartholomew has initiated a fissure that has the potential to be on the same level as the Great Schism.

    These are sad days. But the gates of hell will not prevail.

    God's will be done.

    1. I will conclude my posts to you with this----

      I never said HAH has not done anything out of the ordinary. I said I believe that recognizing the OCU was the right thing to do, pastorally. I wish HAH had not acted alone, and that more time was taken. He made the decision he made, and I am not going to throw stones at my Patriarch now. He will answer before God for his decisions, good or ill. All I can do is pray for him and love him. I am not comfortable with all the political nonsense that led up to the Tomos, but in our Church history it is sadly common. I think the Tomos itself was a good thing with good intentions. It was an unrealistic expectation to think the UOC-MP would cooperate, but in fairness to them the OCU partisans have been very unkind themselves. Such is the way of blood feuds.

      Not everyone under the EP agrees with everything that comes out of the Phanar. There will always be chatter at Coffee Hour. Such is life. The Church is not this magical place of order as "the books" portray it.

      HAH did not cause the division in our Church, Mikail. It was a long time coming. Both the EP and MP have hurt each other in different ways over time, and that has accumulated. We are a family, and as we know in families this stuff tends to build up over time, only to explode at a Thanksgiving Dinner or Birthday party. Angry words are exchanged, and siblings don't speak for a time, sometimes for years. Reconciliation usually only occurs over the casket of their parents, or worse still, there never is a reconciliation and they use their Obituary to hurt the family members who they think have wronged them. These things happen. This is the reality of family, of sin, and of the Church.

      I still believe in my heart that recognizing the OCU was the right thing to do, even if it wasn't done in the right way. I will not spit on them because of some blood feud of which I have no part and of which I am only getting half the story. I also will not turn against the Russian Church, and would gladly commune with you and them, but you will not have me. The schism is one way, brother Mikail. Nobody on our side is pushing you away. You are doing that all by yourself. That is the sad part, it doesn't have to be this way.

      I will try and refrain from posting to you on this in the future. I'm sure the people here would rather read us talking about other things.

      This week was the feast of St. Porphyrios. I would recommend reading his life and sayings if you have not already done so. He is a saint who is dear to me and a model for how to approach Christ.

      I for one hope that a Council does happen at some point, if only to clear up these long simmering issues. If it has to be between the successors of the current EP and MP, then so be it (May it not be so). God's will be done, indeed.

    2. "This week was the feast of St. Porphyrios..."

      Lossky wrote a book titled "The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church". If St. Porphyrios had been a writer, his might have been titled "The Mystical Ecclesiology of the Eastern Church". So expansive, the whole world is "in" the Church mystically even if at the same time the whole world is separated from her.

      Sergei Fudel (spiritual son of Fr. and martyr Paul Forensky) puts it this way:

      "The Church is a mystery of overcoming lonely solitude. Overcoming solitude must be experienced realistically...Quite often we come to realize very unexpectedly that the Church is an all-human reality. One day, riding on the subway, I saw a woman sitting with a little girl of about two on her lap. Over the mother’s shoulder the child stretched her blue-mittened hand to the brake handle, almost, but not quite, reaching it. Suddenly I noticed a well-dressed young man watching her too. Our eyes met and we both smiled. We both sensed that the little mitten was a pure treasure of our common humanity. The brake handle was a symbol of some outside power, a key to the cold knowledge of good and evil. but the blue mitten stood for warmth, for the mysterious, unselfconscious innocence of childhood. We smiled to each other as if we were not strangers; for a moment, we were of one warm, innocent heart. This is what the Church is.”

    3. A quote I always remember:
      The Church is not an institution containing a Mystery; it is a Mystery containing an institution.

  19. “I think the Tomos itself was a good thing with good intentions.”
    I believe the tomos was a bad and divisive thing with bad intentions.

    “HAH did not cause the division in our Church”
    I believe he caused massive division.

    “I still believe in my heart that recognizing the OCU was the right thing to do”
    I will never believe it was the right thing to do. And sadly, I think time will only worsen the situation.

    “I also will not turn against the Russian Church, and would gladly commune with you and them, but you will not have me.”
    Hey brother, if we met in one of the Orthodox Churches or monasteries in which I frequent, I will gladly commune with you. But you will not see me in a Church which recognizes or commemorates Epiphany as a true Hierarch. He is nothing but a laymen.

    “This week was the feast of St. Porphyrios. I would recommend reading his life and sayings if you have not already done so. He is a saint who is dear to me and a model for how to approach Christ.”
    I love him!

    “I for one hope that a Council does happen at some point”
    And on this, my brother, I whole-heartedly agree. Blessings on the remainder of the Nativity Fast.

  20. Years ago I spoke with a priest who mused that, just as we speak of the Age of the Councils, we may someday speak of the Age of the Patriarchs as a bygone time. Will a system that developed to divide the churches of the Roman empire into administrative units last forever? Probably it will always be there on paper, but might it collapse as a reality (as, I'd say it has in the US)? The system seems to be in crisis now, but what could really replace it? True global sobornost, I suppose, but how would the Church ever get there? The gates of hell will not prevail.

    1. Christ is in our midst! My dear Abba, 22+years ago Elder Joseph the Younger saw this all happening within the course of my lifetime. He linked it with the final demise of the Roman See, and with Orthodoxy being the only credible witness to the world of the saving Truth Who is Christ the Lord. He also said that this would signal restoration of all things with the coming of Christ. At the time I was a bit perplexed, but now I am indeed witnessing the prophetic wisdom of this Athonite Father. Christ will be with His Church until the end; no such guarantee is given to any of the patriarchates which may or may not be in concert with the Truth of Christ. Let us pray, fast, be sober and be watchful, upholding the Faith by the Grace of God, and by our own faithfulness to the Gospel. From what I can see it is Africa that seems to be the greatest source of spiritual vigor that the Church demonstrates today. May you holy patron assist us all with his prayers before the Throne of Glory.

    2. Thanks and Amen. It seems to me too that we may have to look more and more to Africa for faithfulness to the fullness of the Gospel. All of us may be needing to look more and more to our monasteries and other islands of faith in the Church, rather than to quasi-political structures.