Saturday, October 16, 2021

Apostasy: an Orthodox response to Joshua Schooping

Father John Whiteford and Craig Truglia discuss the high profile apostasy of former Orthodox priest, Joshua Schooping, to Protestantism and critique his reasons for doing so.

106 comments:

  1. Does he need a response? Is he taking masses with him? Is he part of a wave of priests doing the same thing? I would need some motivation on why to single out one particular man's errors for hours of discussion. Not knowing anything about him, an Orthodox priest leaving to be a protestant pastor is ... well dramatic in a couple senses of the word, but I find it very unpleasant to apply "apostate" too easily.

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    1. He apostatized from the Church. How is this even a question?

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    2. The video is "an Orthodox response to..." -- I'm asking for whom or for what reasons is this 2+ hour "response" valuable.

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    3. For me not liking the word, like Boris says, that's my own problem. You can reject icons, or you can reject the existence of God, and both of you are apostates, it's pretty different scenarios covered by the same word. More than that, in my experience it comes along with about as much charity as gang members receive after snitching.

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  3. I don't really care what you find unpleasant. I care about what the church teaches; that's the only party line I follow. The man DID apostatize. We call out people for doing such things.

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    1. Obviously it's a SERIOUS thing for a priest of all people to do what he has done, but "apostate", really? Even if he did, so what? That's not rhetorical, that's, is there something other than sour grapes and fragile egos here? It gives him a lot more publicity for his grievances, for one thing.

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  4. The term apostate is certainly appropriate here. I am less certain about all the attention. As far as I am aware this sort of thing is a fairly rare occurrence and there is no evidence of anybody following him. The unfortunate reality is that sometimes in life people do thing we don't agree with. In this instance I am not seeing any broad consequences beyond the danger to his own soul. Of more interest to me is that conservative former CofE "bishop" Michael Nazir-Ali joined the Roman Catholic Church despite reports of high level efforts in the Vatican to dissuade him. To my mind, that is far more significant in its implications.

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    1. What is different about this case is that this apostate priest has already set himself up as the anti-Orthodox apologist, and he will be given a lot of airtime in Evangelical circles, and probably prevent a lot of people from coming into the Church. That is why what he says needs to be responded to.

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    2. Thank you, Fr. John. I think one may say that as human beings, we are all entitled to an opinion. I would say that if you are an Orthodox Christian, you are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own theology.

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  6. It's two bloated hours of blowhards bloviating on the blogosphere about someone else's blithering baloney! It's a definite "must see!"

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    1. Craig the Theologian will tell us what is truly needed.

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    3. "It's two bloated hours of blowhards bloviating on the blogosphere"

      Is this all you have these days Joseph? Ad hominem attacks?

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    4. ...and did I mention it's boring!

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    5. I don't think your comment has aged well. Schooping has written an anit-orthodox book and is on a speaking tour. A pastor of a protestant church. I worry for my loved ones recently looking into Orthodoxy and hope I can well answer their questions regarding his points. Thankful for F. Whiteford. Joseph, I hope you get to bed before 8pm tonight so you aren't a grumpy little boy like last year when you posted this.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ft4p2h6fTOM

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  8. Good reminder to pray for our priests

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  9. I agree with Father John, in that he needs to be responded to. What I don't like, is how these types of things become podcasts, or videos where people "tut tut" and it plays out like a Cable News segment. This isn't a new thing, but at the risk of drawing tomatoes-----I don't think GK Chesterton style apologetics is a good thing, and that symposium/debate format of "Christian Witness" that was so popular 100 years ago was a pre-cursor to the garbage we see today. I

    I find especially find the whole "orthobros" thing distasteful, where laypeople take on the air of authority and mix their politics in with THEIR readings of Orthodox theology, get followers on Social Media, and then go off on their "take." I especially cringe when our clergy enable this stuff.

    I would like to see Father John or others address him directly, not pundit style, and not in a combox.

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    1. Joshua Schooping was actually invited to participate in this discussion, and he declined. I could write a response, but he is not raising many issues I have not already addressed in writing, but the fact is that a lot of people will watch a youtube discussion who will not bother reading a lengthy article.

      Of course if someone doesn't like the way other people are doing it, they are certainly free to do it the way they think it ought to be done themselves.

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    2. Father, Bless.

      My post was not meant as an insult, forgive me if it came off as one. I admit I could have been softer in my critique and more clear in who I was referring to.

      My point about "Chestertonian" apologetics is really the core of what I was trying to say. I have grown weary of how much of the "Orthosphere" has been consumed by this sort of thing, and wonder if it is really doing anything, or if it is just the "toast and tumble" of a 1921 "Religious Debate."

      In short: Isn't this sort of thing not a temptation in itself, and just the flip side of the very thing that Mr. Schooping is engaging in?

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    3. Personally, I cannot imagine even one slightly good reason to embrace any form of Protestantism, despite the many failures in the Church.***

      It is always easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize or protest. Play to the passions and fears of folks.

      Of course, as noted, there are many similar "Orthodox" voices speaking in similar ways.

      The mercy if Jesus Christ is the answer, I think. Repentance is the first step. A sort of death. Ressurection follows.

      Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God. Have mercy on me, the sinner. (I use "the" sinner purposely)

      Christ is Risen! follows.


      "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"

      All of that and more. What is revealed in those moments that we are able to approach the hem of our Lord's garment through the Orthodox Church is more than all Protestant theology and practice put together.

      ***The priest who received me into the Church was spiritually ignorant and rapacious. He caused incredible pain in many people. Yet the mercy and Grace of our Lord heals even that.

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  10. Joshua Schooping's YouTube video, "An Orthodox Priest becomes an Evangelical Pastor", is more interesting. Perhaps his most interesting point is how he questions the unity of the Orthodox Church, and he fails to find this unity as anything more different than what "Evangelical Christians" already have. Although I disagree with his conclusion, it's certainly a valid question he makes, especially since there are so many divisions among Orthodox Christians today.

    So what unites Orthodox Christians? For example, is it Holy Tradition? There are many schismatic groups that cling to Holy Tradition such as the Uniates and even the Old Believers. Well okay, so is it the Holy Canons from the Ecumenical Councils that unites us? There are many schismatic groups that differ on their interpretation, and they specifically use the Holy Canons as the justification for their schisms.

    St. Nikolas Kabasilas instead points out that the unity of the Orthodox Church has three centers: the altar, the bishop, and the saints. All three are inter-related. All three are also expressions of the Church as a Divine-human organism on earth. If any of these three centers are ignored or devalued, then there are divisions in the Church and even apostasy.

    So for Joshua Schooping, even if he "affirms" the saints, he throws out the altar and the bishops as an "Evangelical Christian" pastor. Yet the saints wouldn't be without the altar and the bishops. It's a package deal. The Body of Christ, as a Divine-human organism on earth, needs all three expressions.

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  11. All of these questions become academic, when faced with the reality of the Divine Liturgy. THAT is what I can't wrap my head around, and genuinely cannot understand. How a priest, who offered the Mysteries, can then cast them aside.

    I only watched bits of his videos, I had to turn them off, because the temptation to harshly judge him is too great. His arguments are the same ones we often hear, but with the added "authority" of an ex-priest who "knows the truth."

    All of this internet rough and tumble, punditry and polemics----is it really worth it? The ugliness of recent days has me questioning the whole thing. The edifying content is being consumed by "Orthodoxy against X."

    One may say: "David, that is how people consume information now. You have to go where they are." That begs the question: Is "where they are" a good place to be?

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  12. David, over consumption leads to obesity of body, mind and soul

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  13. Joseph - then don't watch and why are you commenting ?

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    1. Fritjof, I'm in agreement with Fr. John Whiteford that a response to Joshua Schooping's video is warranted. A two hour response though to Joshua's one hour video?

      Sometimes people who talk a long time really have nothing much to say. Unfortunately, that appears to be the case with the above "an Orthodox response".

      I think Joshua actually makes some valid criticisms of Orthodox Christianity in America, namely the divisions that currently exist. I wished that Craig Truglia and Fr. John Whiteford would have at least addressed those criticisms.

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    2. This may be the source of the disconnect here. There are many more videos than a one hour video that have been produced.

      What valid criticisms of Orthodox Christianity in America do you think he has made that we did not address?

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    3. Fr. John Whiteford, thank you. Joshua points out some of the divisions that are currently prevalent in Orthodox Christianity, and particularly in North America. He seems to struggle with what actually unites Orthodox Christians in the midst of these divisions. Granted, the current novel ecclesiology coming out of Moscow seems to be that Orthodoxy is simply a federation of "right-believing" Orthodox Churches, and that's really just basic protestant ecclesiology.

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    5. I'm not sure what exactly you find novel about the Russian Church's ecclesiology. The novelty we are seeing is the neo parish from Constantinople. If neo parish is correct, on what basis did we reject the original parish?

      And this is an issue we actually did address in the video.

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    6. "I'm not sure what exactly you find novel about the Russian Church's ecclesiology..."

      True it is not "novel" in the since of recent, as it has been the de facto ecclisology of our Eastern Orthodox Church since the fall of the Roman Empire (about 1300 years). In other words the inner and practical principal of our unam sanctam (i.e. our real unity in His Body) has been one of faith (which of course is arguably the most important aspect), but on the *economic* level the "conciliar" aspect has been but a memory, helpfully sustained by historical circumstances (e.g. the isolation of Eastern Christendom within slav. and ottoman circumstances, etc.). Now that that isolation has been lifted by modern historical circumstances (the world has grown smaller through industrialization/tech, 1920 population exchange, the bolshevik revolution, orthodox immigration and "jurisdictionalism" in western europe/NA, etc. etc.), this practical ecclesiology of "One Faith, but many ethno/national 'churches'" is showing its weakness's and a basic *disunity*, not just economically, or around the various pietistic emphasises I would argue, but theologically, most obviously around this very unam sanctam question itself, but more importantly in the long term (I would argue) the differences around theological anthropology and how to respond/live Christianly in a wider secular/modernist regime (e.g. women's ordination, 'climate change' and various 'social doctrine', etc.).

      Not that many years ago you had a helpful (at least it was to me) conversation with Fr. Matthew Baker of blessed memory over at ancient faith radio about all this, where both of you addressed the actual theological, canonical, and historical complexity of all this, largely without the comment box soundbite (and thus false) reductionisms such as "neo parish".

      Don't get me wrong, if forced to choose I myself would go with a Russian "federation" ecclesiology before I would go with the current "Mother Church" ecclesiology currently coming out of Istanbul. While doing so I would at the very least admit that such a thing is NOT the real "conciliar" theology/ecclesiology of the 7 ecumenical councils anymore than Instanbul's "Mother Church" is, and I would also admit that such an ecclisology is fundamentally impotent in the face of "jurisdictionalism" (or for that matter most other Orthodox-within-modern-circumstance questions) because it elevates a fundamental *disunity* as the starting point of ecclesiology. In other words, it would just be a 'lessor of two weevels' choice.

      Thanks be to God, I don't have to make this choice. Instead, I choose to live,worship, pray, and pass the faith on to my children as best I can in the current complexity and ambiguity which God Himself has given me. Spitballing, I suspect that the current ecclesiological/theological *contradictions* (and so are in fact *heresitical* emphasises of BOTH Russian and Greek origin) can not be sustained and in God's time will be repudiated in a REAL ecumenical council. At the same time I admit I can't even imagine how such a council will take place, as obviously we have no Emperor or Empire (besides the Secular one) to actually call/pay for it, and we ourselves our too weak, spread out, and disorganized to do it ourselves. That said, St. Paul tells us it is in our very weakness that we our saved ;).

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  14. How are we supposed to take seriously a guy who operates a website called "OrthodoxChristianTheology.com" and who bloviates on the internet about "theology" wearing a tied-dyed Def Leppard T-Shirt?

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    1. sarcasm on/

      What's wrong Joseph, you don't find young men who the day before yesterday were prooftexting Protestants, and today are prooftexting "Orthodox" (just ask them), helpful?

      sarcasm off/

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  15. Hopefully there will be more peace in the "Orthosphere" as time goes on.

    Father John,

    Thank you for your engagement and discussion. I would say that the issue with "Russian Ecclesiology" is that they are attempting to move Orthodoxy towards an Anglican model. This trend was kicked into high gear with the Russian Council of 1917-1918. The Ecumenical Patriarchate (right or wrong), is not lying when he says he is the upholder of the Canonical order AS IT NOW EXISTS.

    The issue, is that there are a growing number of Orthodox who want to "get over Byzantium" and dismantle that order, adopting a "Federation" form of governance. These reformers see it as obsolete, and speak in terms of "the Spirit of the Canons" (sound familiar?). The Ecumenical Patriarchate's tone now is a defensive one, as it sees this creeping Ortho-Anglicanism as a real threat, not only to its own position, but to the Church as it has existed since the time of St. Constantine.

    If we are honest with ourselves, we are an Imperial Church (as Jake notes repeatedly). We have not had a "federation" model since the 3rd Century or whereabouts. This Russian push is an innovation, albeit not as radical as Protestantism, but I would argue it is influenced by its spirit. Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpatkos has written extensively on this, and is probably the preeminent Greek voice who has articulated the "Greek position" (rejecting this model as an innovation, and foreign to Orthodoxy).

    Detractors of the EP say that the EP is just interested in preserving its own position and power. What these detractors leave out, is that in the "Federation model," the Moscow Patriarchate would be dominate, because they have the numbers. These detractors know this, but don't see this as a bad thing (and accuse those who point it out of having an "anti-Russian bias").

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    1. Before the State Department instructed him to go against it, Patriarch Bartholomew knew perfectly well that he was not the first without equals, or an eastern pope. https://orthochristian.com/142574.html

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    2. I've sometimes thought that regular synods (annual? every 5 years?) of the heads of all Orthodox churches would go a long way toward making the conciliar model a practical reality. I like to imagine a month-long synod every five years. In this time of easy worldwide travel, nothing stands in the way. But I suppose that political concerns (which delegation gets the most weight, etc.) would quickly take over. So near and yet so far...

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    3. Patriarch Bartholomew will not call a meeting of the heads of the local churches, or for a pan-Orthodox council to address the situation in Ukraine, because he knows there is very little support outside of the US State Department for what he is doing.

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    4. "... regular synods (annual? every 5 years?) of the heads of all Orthodox churches...In this time of easy worldwide travel, nothing stands in the way..."

      First, it could not simply be "the heads" and be in keeping with the conciliar of the 7 ecumenical councils (e.g. are the rest of the bishops simply supposed to accept what the head agrees to, and what if they don't?). If it were, it would be a new development, which I suppose could be judged on its own merits/results.

      Second, there is a question of money even in such a slimmed up process. Many autocephalous churches are in fact quite small and poor. Ask the Greeks how much $money$ went into Crete, which was what, a week (going from memory)?

      Third and most important, as you note we are currently NOT a conciliar church ontologically, and have not been for a very long time. Even in the Empire, we were largely forced into it by virtue of our relationship with the Imperium. There simply is no center to get us past even the most petty of squabbles. After 1300 years of (often quite desperate) conservation, few of our bishops (and the people behind them) have any taste or ability for something as novel and challenging a real council.

      Just try to imagine the change a REAL council would bring -the end of ontological and theological "jurisdictionalism", A wholesale adjustment/rethinking of the bishop/metropolitan/patriarch ordo to reflect the modern world (i.e. the secular and nation state imperium) which would mean the wholesale demotion of Alexandria, Antioch, Constaninople, etc. as well as the rejection of Moscow's "federation" ecclesiology. One could go on but it quickly becomes apparent the bishops, and their flocks are simply not ready for what a REAL council would mean...

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    5. I think it is safe to say that the Crete model of Council is the only way pan-Orthodox synods are going to happen going forward. The other Churches may have their problems with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but they aren't going to consent being in a council with over half of the room filled with MP Bishops.

      I see the Hand of God in this inertia. Look at where the frequent "Councils" of the Catholics got them. Personally, I would rather see Jurisdictionalism continue then a "Real Council" such as you describe take place. It would only take a few tweaks and some give and take on both sides.

      The EP would have to give up claims to Jurisdiction over the entire world, and the MP would have to reject the "Federation Model." I think the EP would be willing to do that, if that is what it took to preserve the peace and its own position everywhere else. I also think that the MP would be willing to go along, if the Council was put together properly.

      Redrawing the territorial map is more plausible than all the other stuff you describe.


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    6. David, at the risk of offending you (I don't mean to at all!) I don't think you realize how *radical* a real council would be. The "inertia" you reference is just the status quo, with all the Greek vs. Russian chess board intrigue, the reluctance to even talk about the major issues, and endlesssquabble about the minor ones, all in the context of a canonical order that does now 'work' in the reality of nation states, secular majorities, etc. etc.

      A real council would be radical because these old dysfunctional paradigms, not the least of which is "metropolitans" and "patriarchs" of long dead Roman geography, would be quite literally dissolved and remade. The EP, such as it is today, a bishop of a very small (less than 3000 people I understand) minority in an unimportant city (Istanbul) who nonetheless is somehow "ecumenical", universal, would be righted, just to name one example.

      The Crete model is a failure path for several reasons - its very essence is designed to accommodate the status quo, not to in any way challenge it. It's not just about redrawing the map, it's about honestly looking at the world as it really is, and faithfully working out how the Orthodox Church can exist as a church (an "economy") in it.

      Like I said, folks (such as yourself) can't even imagine it, which means we are not at the point where we are ready to be honest with ourselves, so a real council is simply not in the foreseeable future. So the status quo of dysfunction will continue, and the details of this dysfunction (jurisdictionalism, Greek vs. Russia, etc. etc.) is just pathology reports...

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    7. The Catholics tried that, and are still trying it. I think the horror of post-Vatican II Catholicism has traumatized people and discredited any talk of the changes you describe. Again, I see the hand of God in the "status quo." The "status quo" is that for a reason.

      I leave the "imagining" to the deluded, John Lennon and Pixar animators.

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    8. There are some parrell's, but they are not nearly as significant as the main difference: Orthodoxy is simply not in the same historical, ontological, and theological position vis-a-vis secularism/mdernity as RC. Vatican II (and more significantly Vatican I) is but the tip of the iceburg of the Counter-Reformation. Orthodoxy is not grounded on that particular iceburg.

      That said I think you are beginning to see the depth of significance of what would be a real council, and your willingness to play out the good, bad, and ugly of the status quo is typical, and why no real council is in our foreseeable future.

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  16. Father John,

    Who says the State Department is giving orders to Patriarch Bartholomew? I hear MP partisans say this, but with little evidence.

    In fairness, I think what is more accurate to say is that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is ALLIED with the United States, which is a different thing. To say that the EP takes orders from Washington is akin to saying the MP takes orders from the Kremlin. Russian Orthodox get offended and bristle mightily when people use the KGB slur, and with good reason---because it is ugly and untrue. The MP has allied itself with the Russian government, in an act of "Symphonia." The EP does the same with the US, although not as closely because they are two separate countries (and given the current strain of ties between Turkey and the US, the EP has to tread lightly).

    People don't see this "symphonia" between the MP and the Russian government as a problem because Vladimir Putin impresses them in some way---and at least on the surface, "upholds" Orthodoxy. Most Ukrainians, HOWEVER, see it as a big problem. Sergianism is alive and well in their minds, except it is "Putinism." I won't rehash the Ukraine argument, except to say that I honestly don't understand why the MP doesn't realize or understand this. The MP showed such tenderness and patience with ROCOR, why can the MP not do the same in Ukraine? That is what I can't wrap my head around, Father.

    For all the good pastoral work the MP does, there seems to be a lack of sympathy for what at least half of Ukraine feels or thinks about these matters. I honestly don't understand Moscow's Akrevia here, particularly when they have shown willingness to bend so mightily most everywhere else. The geopolitical argument is filling that hole (lack of an explanation).

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    1. Declassified documents show that it has been going on since World War II. And the US State Departments role in the push for autocephaly for Ukraine is not much of a secret. Do you need me to provide you with news links on that?

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    2. And the real Church in Ukraine already has far more independence as an autonomous part of the Russian Church than the fake Church has been given by the EP.

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    3. Fr. John is right in that after the population exchange the EP as an institution closely aligned itself with western european/American "liberalism", which is to say the philosophical idea of Classical Liberalism with it's emphasis on free economic markets, religious liberty, multi-cultural tolerant society, etc.

      The reasons for this are complex and not reducible to "the State Dept. told them to" simplifications. For example, after centuries of Ottman oppression the Asian Greeks, rather uncritically, aligned themselves with this philosophy as a way to survive. There are other reasons as well.

      Not that this has much to do with whether the EP did the right thing in Ukraine and for its (Orthodox) people. A (canonical) legal argument (such as it is) is really in the end all Russian partisans have to cling to, because what else can justify the *imposition* of the Kievan-Rus myth on a people who are not only not interested in it (Ukrainians in the eastern half of the country) but have in recent (and for that matter ancient)generations been actively harmed by it?

      Your not going to get this addressed directly by Fr. John David because his (and everyone like him) confidence that they are in the "right" church depends upon this (canonical) legal belief.

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    4. Another thought: This *integrationalism* (i.e. that Classical Liberalism and Orthodox Christianity are compatible and to be fused together as a way of life) on the part of EP as institution, and GOA in general, is nothing less than a theological and *moral* disaster. The evidence is everywhere to be seen for those who have any sense of what ascetical Christianity actually is and lived. Greek style integrationalism is what Kierkegaard called "repetition", the endless empty history of sin, and a repeat of the failure of theological liberalism in the western church (in both Protestant and Catholic versions). The Russian/slavic churches, for all their problems and delusions, are not rushing (though they have their theological liberal advocates among them) to thread this failure path...

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    5. Father, perhaps the key area showing how the UOC-MP is not independent, is that it is not allowed to be in communion with the autocephalous Ukrainians, and with Constantinople, and with Alexandria, etc. That order comes down directly from Moscow. It's the same thing for ROCOR worldwide. I've talked to more than a few recent converts in ROCOR parishes, and they all tell me how it basically sucks that they can't go to communion at the Greek monasteries. Of course those converts I encounter are programmed already to blame this entirely on Patriarch Bartholomew. It's a puppet show indeed.

      Meanwhile, folks from OCA parishes, Antiochian parishes, and Serbian parishes have no such restrictions.

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    6. The MP has no mechanism for making the legitimate Ukrainian Church do anything. If they were trying to coerce them, the easiest thing in the world for them to do would be to align with the EP, if they had any inclination to do so. The MP sends them no money, and they send the MP no money. The legitimate Ukrainian Church has, as a matter of fact, a lot more say in the affairs of the Russian Church than the Russian Church has in the affairs of the Ukrainian Church. The only thing that the Russian Synod has to do is to approve the election of a new Metropolitan. Aside from that, they have no power, and they would not likely reject the election of a new Metropolitan lightly because of the risk of losing the Ukrainian Church altogether. So what you say simply has no basis in reality.

      The EP, on the other hand, has a lot more say in the affairs of the fake Ukrainian Church.

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    7. Father, at the ROC Bishop's council from Nov. 30th, 2017, at the end of the meeting they finally examined a letter from the "former" Metropolitan of Kiev Philaret, dated from 2007 (ten years later):

      https://mospat.ru/en/news/47939/


      "During the second day, the council hierarchs heared a written appeal of the former Metropolitan Philaret of Kiev and All Ukraine to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, dated November 16, 2007. The letter contains a request to restore the Eucharistic and devotional communion with Christians in the Ukrainian church schism and to annul ‘all the decisions including bans and excommunications… for the sake of God-commanded peace between Orthodox Christians of the same faith and reconciliation between nations’. The letter concluded with the following words: ‘I ask for forgiveness for everything in which I have sinned by word, deed and all my feelings and in the same way I sincerely forgive all from my heart’."

      What was the ROC Council's response? They basically shelved the letter by establishing a commission.

      Yes, Metropolitan Onuphrey has a prime seat on the ROC Holy Synod, but it's ultimately the ROC Holy Synod, through Patriarch Kirill, deciding who the autonomous churches of the Moscow Patriarchate can or cannot be in communion with.

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    8. "I've talked to more than a few recent converts in ROCOR parishes, and they all tell me how it basically sucks that they can't go to communion at the Greek monasteries. Of course those converts I encounter are programmed already to blame this entirely on Patriarch Bartholomew. It's a puppet show indeed."

      There are even people - not recent converts mind you - who attend a ROCOR parish but have a spiritual father from an EP Greek monastery and out of obedience they do not receive holy communion from their spiritual father. So in what is surely a first in the history of Christianity, they are out of communion with the man they believe that Divine Providence has sent to guide them to salvation. Of course, Patriarch Bartholomew is all to blame for this too. This is the tragicomical level of absurdity that the Orthodox Church has been reduced to today.

      These same people by the way regard modifying the way that holy communion is administered to be blasphemous and they believe that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 involves experiencing the spiritual consequences of commiting abortion on some level but they never considered breaking communion with the MP which has allowed both of these things. The breaking of communion has been reserved instead for those who fulfilled the divine commandment of bringing back the lost sheep into the fold of the Church.

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  17. Father John,

    I think the MP should refrain from attacking the EP on its activities during those years, particularly considering what the MP was up to during that time. I think it is particularly galling, and that the glass house analogy holds quite firm there. I think neither "side" should open that can of worms, would you not agree? Also, those documents speak of an alliance and relationship, of that there is no doubt...but to say it was direct control is a mischaracterization (much like some unfair attacks on the MP during that time that are made).

    You still didn't answer my point: Why is the MP using Akrevia here, when Economy would likely be the rule elsewhere?

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    1. The MP had a knife to it's throat, and the EP, in the 1920's actually sided with the Bolsheviks, recognized the Living Church, and condemned St. Tikhon. The EP maintained communion with the heretical and schismatic living Church for more than a decade. Had the Russian Church been in a better position, they would have been made to answer for their behavior too, but since the Russian Church was under the gun until the 90's, they allowed the outrageous behavior of the EP to pass, and the EP is repeating that bad behavior right now, entering into communion with a new Living Church, and they are preparing to unite with Rome to boot.

      Economia would be appropriate to apply the schismatics in Ukraine if there were any signs of repentance, but there is not. As a matter of fact, Filaret is now in communion Greek Old Calendarists, and Epiphony is concelebrating with Papists, and promising to take a soft stand on the skittles communities.

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    2. Father John,

      The Ecumenical Patriarchate's position in the 1920s was also precarious, as it was in the aftermath of the Kemalist takeover and subsequent wars. The recognition of the "Living Church" was a mistake, one that was corrected a decade later. That the EP did not make sufficient apologies or amends is obvious, as the MP has remained bitter ever since (with some justification).

      If the EP was an American puppet, what was stopping the MP from condemning it as such back then? Such a condemnation would be in keeping with Soviet propaganda and foreign policy, as Turkey was a NATO ally. You say they were not in a position to do anything about the EP's actions. I would contend that the geo-political reality of the time does not support that assertion.

      Your contention that it is a new "Living Church" is pure partisanship, and still does not address my point. The Ukrainians assert that Sergianism is alive and well in the form of Vladimir Putin. What is your answer to that? The MP seems to have none. It was also a point of contention that Sergianism was not formally condemned in the MP-ROCOR reunion. Why was that? The assertion that they are "going to Rome" is also absurd----partisans have been saying that since HAH Athenagoras. It isn't going to happen. 2025 will be a big photo-op, that is all.

      What would repentance look like? The whole point, is that submission to the MP is impossible due to Sergianism (or Putinism as they would call it). Is that not a legitimate concern?

      God will judge Filaret. As for concelebrating with "Papists," are you talking about the recent Vespers? This is just partisanship, Father. I'm talking about real person to person interaction.

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    3. To add: Many ROCOR people get indignant and angry when comparisons to the ROCOR reunion are made. But the question is: Why? No comparison that I have read is saying that they are the same. The point of those comparisons is how the MP treated ROCOR and their concerns, including the issue of "Does ROCOR need to repent of anything?" Sergianism is the issue here, Father. The OCU's fundamental assertion is that the MP is Sergianist and a puppet of Putin's government. That is why they will not "repent." Metropolitan Onuphry being involved with the MP in any way, shape, or form is the problem. That is the heart of the schism. Were the Russian Bishops who refused to submit to the Soviet authorities (despite being told to do so by the MP) wrong?

      There is more to this than meets the eye. Many of us on the "EP side" have examined this issue, and find the MP's arguments to be incomplete, and at times inconsistent. I asked myself one question when all of this started? "Who are the OCU?" I went to the trouble to find out, and they certainly aren't all molotov cocktail throwing radicals (many are just disaffected Orthodox who have their own stories of the Soviet time, and the MP's role in it). Some pretty deep wounds still mar that part of the world, Father. I think you and I can agree on that.

      I can't understand Moscow's hardness of heart on this. The MP cannot minister to those people. THEY CANNOT. How can that be fixed? Demanding "their return" is not an option, and it never will be. The EP made such demands of the Bulgarians, and they told the EP to stick it (with the help of the Russians, by the way, a tick mark of bitterness on the EP side).

      I don't accept the propaganda, Father. From either "side." RISU and UOJ are wrong.

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    4. "Sergianism is the issue here, Father. The OCU's fundamental assertion is that the MP is Sergianist and a puppet of Putin's government. That is why they will not "repent.""

      Yes, this is an important point.

      When the Ukrainian soldiers who died defending their nation against the Annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Donbass had their names read during the May 8th, 2015, special session at the Parliament, it was only the primate of the UOC-MP and his delegation that remained seated. And when the Ukrainian prime minister meets with the leaders of other Orthodox Churches, UOC-MP delgations instantly leap into action to apprise these same leaders of the "real" - according to their owns words -situation in Ukraine. If they are communicating the true picture, then it means that they believe that Prime Minister Shmyhal is relaying a false picture.

      It is not hard to see that refusing to honour soldiers who died for their own country while also undermining the activities of government officials acting in the interests of Ukraine has led to the UOC-MP being viewed as a dangerous 5th column serving a hostile foreign power.

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    5. Marcele,

      I think it is important that we acknowledge, in fairness, that the Ukrainian government has engaged in a campaign of "de-Russification" in the country since the Maidan. This campaign has divided the country, and this can be seen most tragically in the villages, where parishes (which in many cases are also historical landmarks) are fought over. These fights have gotten physical, and despite the use of these conflicts for propaganda purposes, defy the simplistic explanations of both "sides."

      One really good thing that came out of the EP's visit to Ukraine was his admonition that they are in the driver seat, so to speak. They have to "figure things out."

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    6. "When the Ukrainian soldiers who died defending their nation against the Annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Donbass had their names read during the May 8th, 2015, special session at the Parliament, it was only the primate of the UOC-MP and his delegation that remained seated..."

      That's a significant symbolic act, and while David B. is right about the complexity behind everything, it does reveal just how "sided" the UOC-MP is in this conflict. At the end of the day ethno-national based ecclesiology is going to be as messy as the cultural ground upon which it stands.

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    7. David,

      The EP was under a whole lot less pressure to recognize the Living Church than was the MP, and yet it did not, and many were martyred for not doing so. The EP had no gun to their head forcing them to do this, but they did it, because the Living Church's renovationist agenda was fairly close to their own.

      The recognition of the Living Church was not just a mistake... it was a stab in the back of the legitimate Church in Russia, which was even worse than what they are doing in Ukraine now. It was only corrected when the Living Church faded into non-existence, not because they recognized they had made a mistake. Where do you find them ever admitting that they had made a mistake in that regard?
      The EP was not an American puppet in the 20’s. They were much more of a British puppet back then. The MP was in no position to condemn them at the time because most of the bishops of the Russian Church were in prison or under house arrest. After the Living Church ceased to exist, the MP was not inclined to make this an issue, when they needed what support they could get from the rest of the Church, and by that time, there were new occupants of the Ecumenical throne.

      The schismatic Church in Ukraine is very much a repetition of the Living Church in that you have a bunch of fake bishops who are also modernists, want to concelebrate with Ukrainian Catholics, and are OK with going squishy on issues like homosexuality, if that is what the US State Department wants, and the EP is on the same page there: See https://orthochristian.com/118195.html When you have the EP openly supporting pro homosexual propaganda sources like Public Orthodoxy, you have to ask why. And this kind of renovationism makes the Living Church look like pillars of Orthodoxy, by comparison.

      It is untrue that the MP failed to condemn Sergianism. They did so in their Social Concept Document, section III. 5, and you will find the pertinent quote towards the bottom of this page: http://www.saintjonah.org/articles/voicesofreason.htm

      And I hope you are right that the EP doesn’t unite with Rome, but they have been pushing the boundaries on that question since the time of Athenagoras, and the only reason they haven’t already done it is the push back they have received. But the EP’s actions in Ukraine only make sense if that is what he intend to do, because he has certainly not increased his stature in the Orthodox Church by his actions.

      And why had the EP not condemned the violence directed at the real Ukrainian Church?

      Real repentance would have included Filaret acknowledging that he had sinned against the unity of the Church and stepping down. The man is was not just defrocked, he was anathematized, and the entire Orthodox Church recognized him as such. And anyone who doubts that need only look at his behavior since the EP went into communion with him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_dt1mOSS-8

      There is no issue with Sergianism in the Russian Church today. Putin is not trying to destroy the Church, and the Church doesn’t take orders from him. When Russia annexed Crimea, Patriarch Kirill did not appear at the ceremonies, and the Russian Church continues to consider it to be part of the Ukrainian Church. The real Church in Ukraine has far more independence than the fake Church has, and that is simply a fact. The so-called “autocephaly” they were given was autocephaly in name only.

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    8. The reason why the comparison between the fake Church in Ukraine and ROCOR has no validity is because Filaret was justly deposed and anathematized, and he created a schism when the Russian Church was free from persecution, and there was no canonical basis for his actions.

      ROCOR had a canonical basis for their actions, because St. Tikhon gave them that basis when he issued Ukaz 362. See https://orthodoxwiki.org/ROCOR_and_OCA for the history here. Furthermore, the bishops of ROCOR were never deposed or anathematized.

      If the EP was really concerned about the welfare of the Ukrainian Church, he could have accepted the MP’s call to have a council to discuss it, and I think he could have easily used leverage to get the Russian Church to agree to a real autocephaly for the real Ukrainian Church, but the fact that the EP will not call any meetings or synods which would allow for a hearing of all sides shows that he knows he hasn’t a leg to stand on, nor has he much support for his actions in the rest of the Church.

      Even if you grant that the EP has the universal right of appeal beyond it’s canonical boundaries (which it doesn’t), the EP cannot hear an appeal without actually hearing an appeal, and allowing all concerned sides to make their case. No proper hearing (as laid out by the Council of Sardica) was ever held.

      The actual history of the Russian Church under the Soviets is a lot more complex than your cartoon history allows. I would suggest you read the book “A Long Walk to Church,” by Nathaniel Davis, which is a very fair account of the period.

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    9. Marcele, how many Ukrainians were murdered in the American backed coup that overthrew the lawfully elected government of Ukraine? When you throw the rule of law out the window, it is you who are responsible for the deaths that result, not those responding to your lawless actions.

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    10. Among Fr. John's conspiratorial rhetoric, exaggeration, and half truth is a good question:

      "...When you have the EP openly supporting pro homosexual propaganda sources like Public Orthodoxy, you have to ask why"

      Indeed. While it might tickle the inner lizard brain to entertain answers such as "The State Department", the real answer is more important for all of us because it's not some far off government institution that has nothing to do with our actual faith, parishes, families, schools, and communal life. Secularism is everywhere, not just "out there" but *inside* the Church, because *we* are the Church and *we* are to lessor or greater degrees (mostly greater) a secular people in heart and thought. This is well known in a vague and general sense, but the enormity of the problem has us stupefied.

      Those of a legalist mind such as Fr. John want to identify the "bad men" in the Church, such as Patriarch Bartharlomew and anyone in communion with him, because its easier to believe that secularism is a problem of the will - a simple "revisionist" conspiracy, and just by being in the "right" jurisdiction "BAMN!", problem solved. Anyone not born yesterday knows the reality is that in heart of each member of Fr. John's parish secularism is just as rampant, or very nearly so, as the GOA parish on the other side of town.

      At the core of secularism is a theological heresy, the Cartesian Self and the nature/relationship of practical to theoretical reason, combined (somewhat ironically) with a materialistic heresy about Creation itself. This heresy is *everywhere*, including the most pietistic and self proclaimed "canoncially correct" jurisdictions. Seeing and understanding this is difficult enough, let alone actually dealing with it from a pastoral perspective. Pretending it is a (canonical) legal problem, such as simplistically naming the "bad men", has proved not very helpful at all.

      Just this past weekend my bishop was in town installing our new priest. He was trying to convince me to finish my last two classes of seminary, and without my prompting admitted that Orthodoxy is good at training men to serve liturgy, we are doing nothing to help them understand what secularism is (as a life and a kind of anti-Christianity) or what to do about it. This was on top of his preaching about how if the Church is not passing the faith on to its children, it is failing to be the Church, which of course Orthodoxy largely is in NA. This is a serious and in my view correct appraisal of the problem, and its this sort thinking/church/bishop that will be the source of solution(s), grounded as it is in actual ascetical (i.e. of the heart) Christianity...







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    11. Fr. John, the international community that condemned these acts of agression would disagree with you. Metropolitan Onufry called for an end to the war and bloodshed while you seem to think they were inevitable.

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  18. Father John,

    Thank you for your reply. I am happy to have this discussion, as it may be of benefit to other people. To answer your points:
    Your assertion that the “renovationist agenda was fairly close to their own” is a mischaracterization of the EP’s position at the time and now. We can talk about the Calendar issue, et al, but I think it is a stretch to say that there was an accord. I don’t know if you have read Greek sources on this time period (some writings have been translated into English), but they certainly provide context and reveal the issues that were at play. The survival of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was not a foregone conclusion in those times either, and the only reason the Patriarchate was not decimated or expelled was because of the intervention of Western Powers. That protection formed the foundation of the alliance with “the West” that continues to this day. Both the EP and MP were trying to survive during that period, albeit in different circumstances. The EP allied itself with “the West,” and the MP made “peace” with the Soviet government. Given the current problems with Turkey, the expulsion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (and final erasure of the Greek presence) from Asia Minor could very well still happen. To call the EP a “puppet” is ugly and insulting, akin to calling the MP a “KGB Church.” One may say that the EP’s alliance with the US is not a good thing, but it is a relationship, not a muppet show.


    That the MP views the “Living Church” recognition as a betrayal is clear to all, and I think a recognition of that wrong act would go a long way to heal wounds. If relations between the EP and MP were better, perhaps such a thing would have already taken place.

    I am aware of the complexities of the MP’s relationship with the Soviet government. I don’t subscribe to “cartoon history,” and have in fact defended the MP against those who would characterize the MP as a “Putinist Church.” I know they are not (it is a relationship, like the EP and the US is a relationship) but many people in Ukraine believe that they are, despise that relationship, and that is the issue I have been highlighting. They don’t believe you, Father. They don’t believe the MP’s assertions that they are free of Kremlin influence. Given the wounds of the Soviet period, can you blame them? There are many Russians who don’t see Ukraine as a separate country at all, but as a rebellious Russian province with delusions of “statehood.” It may not be the “official” position of the MP, but there are clergy who voice such opinions. Ukrainians still read Russian media, so when they encounter that stuff, what are they to think?

    It is great the MP condemned Sergianism, and I stand corrected. But my point still stands: Why does the MP not understand Ukrainian feelings on the issue? As for the violence, such conflicts over parish property is horrible. We saw such conflicts in North America too (although the US government was not leaning on the scales there), but the court battles were just as nasty (as well as the fist fights). Why has the EP not condemned it? I can’t speak for the Patriarchate, but I suspect it has something to do with who is reporting that stuff. UOJ in particular. How is HAH supposed to take such reports seriously, when they relish photoshopping him in the most bizarre and unflattering ways?

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  19. On the “fake Bishops” of the OCU, I can’t see how you can call them fake Bishops when they were received by the EP beforehand (essentially a “mass vesting”). If Catholic priests can be vested, and the Ukrainians in North America are canonical (a branch of the same schism with the same issues), than so is the OCU. I would also gently remind you that ROCOR before the reunion received more than a few people who were defrocked and excommunicated by other Churches. Were they re-ordained? I can’t take the MP’s arguments seriously here, given the “Economy” that the Russian Church has exercised on this issue in the past. The territorial arguments are on much firmer ground.
    I also don’t understand the anti-Catholic rhetoric that is employed by the MP. It is duplicitous, in that Metropolitan Hilarion smiles in Pope Francis’ face and has meet and greets (which in the past, HAH Bartholomew got and gets a lot of flack for), and then in Russian says different things. The OCU and the Greek Catholics have a good relationship. Whether that is a good or bad thing depends on your politics, it seems. As for getting “squishy” on homosexual behavior, there is a spectrum of opinion on how to deal with those issues. I think the Church of Greece has struck a good balance on how to deal with it, while remaining faithful. Public Orthodoxy has some cringy stuff, and some pretty educational stuff. Such “academic” journals are a mixed bag, as you know better than I do. You and I might see such dialogue as pointless and even dangerous at times, but I don’t think it is a comment on the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Orthodoxy. Get these heterodox opinions out in the open, and we can see about them.

    I have seen the conspiracy theories about the EP going to Rome for a long time now. Nothing has come of them. Prediction after prediction turned out wrong. It is like the Jehovah’s Witnesses at this point. Given the state of the Latin Church today, the more plausible scenario is that the Greek Catholics grow weary of being thrown under the bus and embrace Orthodoxy, joining the OCU. So there would be a “reunion,” but not in the way MP partisans think.

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  20. Finally Father,

    The MP’s calls for a Council are good, except for one thing: They will not accept Ukrainian Autocephaly in any way, shape, or form. Metropolitan Hilarion made that clear, with his “One Spiritual Space” rhetoric. That speech wasn’t just for the EP, but for the rest of the Church as well. If the MP is not even willing to discuss the possibility of Ukrainian independence, what is there to talk about? If the MP was willing to consider it, they would have done so already. The EP had no “leverage.” That is why the EP balked, because the only thing the MP wants to hear is that the OCU is schismatic, and that the MP’s canonical territory is firmly established (and the EP is wrong for trying to “violate it”). The EP has tried over the years to broach the Ukraine issue, and has been gruffly told to “mind his own business.” After having the door slammed in his face by the MP (and UOC-MP) for almost 20 years, can you really fault the EP for not taking these calls for a Council seriously? Personally, Father, I am glad that no Council has been called (I see Divine Providence in it). Because nobody is ready to talk yet. I think it will take some time---many on the MP side expect the OCU to implode any day now, and the EP to “go to Rome” so they don’t have to deal with “Black Bart” anymore. Neither is going to happen, so like it or not, the MP has to deal with the EP, and vice versa. The OCU and UOC-MP will have to co-exist for a while.

    Finally, Metropolitan Filaret. As I said before, God will judge him. From the EP’s point of view, that is an internal matter for the OCU (he is not a Patriarch, no matter how much he thinks he is, and a condemnation from the EP would violate the OCU’s independence and give Filaret the faux legitimacy he craves). They want nothing to do with him, and from the OCU’s point of view, he is a figure of pity. It will not be too long before he goes to his eternal reward---hopefully it will be a repentant one.

    I am grateful for this discussion, Father. I have looked long and hard at this matter, but have come to different conclusions (as many others have). I think disagreement on this issue should not be cause to question the other’s Orthodoxy, or prevent brotherhood amongst us.

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  21. Jake, as is often the case, spouts a lot of nonsense to avoid dealing with the facts. The facts are that not all Orthodox bishops wink at homosexuality, but the EP does.

    In the United States and in the English-speaking Orthodox world generally, we hear many voices from within the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which are supporting homosexuality, openly. The Archons have helped fund an Orthodox institute at Fordham University. The heads of this institute have used this platform to launch a website called “Public Orthodoxy” which regularly promotes homosexuality and other forms of deviancy. And it is not bad enough that they publish this material in English, but they now translate their articles into Russian, Greek, and Serbian. And they do this without the slightest hint of any rebuke from the Greek Archdiocese of America. In fact, whenever they have a big event, Archbishop Demetrios of New York is usually present, adding his authority to that event. For example, one of the heads of this institute, Aristotle Papanikolaou, in an article in another pro-homosexual journal, The Wheel, wrote that expecting people who suffer from same-sex attraction to remain celibate is “unrealistic” and unhealthy, and that such desires should best be expressed in the context of “long-term committed relationships or marriages” (The Wheel 13/14, Spring/Summer 2018, p. 97 [emphasis added]. See also "Unitarian Morality With a Little "Theosis" Sprinkled on Top," "The Living Church 2.0," and "Cultural Marxism and Public Orthodoxy").

    Patriarch Bartholomew’s Archdeacon, Fr. John Chryssavgis, has made a number of pro-homosexual statements. For example, he wrote a review of a book that was a simple piece of pro-homosexual propaganda written by a homosexual Episcopal priest, and he gushed with praise for what a great contribution this book was to the important “dialogue” on homosexuality. The only slight criticism he made of this book was to say that he remained “unconvinced” by some of the book’s arguments that the Scriptures support homosexuality. This is from a man who has no difficulty expressing his disagreement, in eloquent and striking terms… when he wishes to.

    And then there is the call that was made to “Metropolitan” Epifany, by a Russian prankster, who pretend to be a western diplomat, and congratulated him on the “autocephaly” of the Church in Ukraine, but expressed his hope that the Epifany would take a different stand on homosexuality than the conservative one taken by the Russian Church. Epifany assured him that he would not take such a conservative stand against homosexuality.

    This is not normal. This is apostasy. Defending it is a betrayal of the faith. Stop it.

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    1. It's worse than you say with Aristotle as he is now working on a book supporting the homosexualist (and thus anti-Christian) anthropology. The Wheel published Met. Kallistas Ware's essay where he got all cosy with secular anthropology (ably rebutted by several over on Fr. Andrew Damick's blog at Ancient Faith), and is itself really just the mouth piece of Fr. Robert Arida's and a collection of other "progressive" and disaffected NE 'liberal' Orthodox. These folks however are a *symptom* of the problem, and are just the noisy voice of secular confusion that more or less rules the heart of almost ALL Orthodox Christians in western society, and contrary to what you say this Kingdom of Secularism is very much "normal" even your own parish.

      By the way, why did you not list your jurisdictions own Sister Vassa? She is still a "sister" and a member in good standing in ROCOR no, even though she is very much unrepentant of her homosexualist views and counsel?

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  22. David, you assert without any actual argument that the renovationist agenda of the Living Church was not at all like that of the EP in the 1920's. The New Calendar was far from the only similiarity. Here are the items that were on the agenda at the so-called "Pan Orthodox Congress" of 1923:

    1) The question of transferring the Feast Days of major saints to the nearest Sunday with the goal of lessening the number of holidays.

    2) The question of impediments to marriage.

    3) The question of marriage and the clergy:

    a) The Episcopate and marriage;

    b) Second marriages for widowed priests and deacons;

    c) Whether it is absolutely essential for the sacrament of ordination to follow the sacrament of marriage;

    4) The question of church services;

    5) The question of the fasts;

    6) The necessity of calling a Pan-Orthodox Council annually.

    In short, they wanted to allow priests to remarry, bishops to marry, shorten the services, reduce the fast, and eliminate weekday feast. This is very much in line with the agenda of the Living Church.

    You want to know why the Russian Church won't consider the "feelings" of the Ukrainian Church. I want to know how you know what those feelings are. The vast majority of Orthodox people who actually go to Church in Ukraine go to the real Church. This is evident simply in the fact that the fake Church didn't even attempt to do a procession on St. Vladimiar's day this year, because they knew they would be dwarfed by the real Church's procession.

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    1. Father John,

      Putting those topics on the agenda for discussion is not the same as a wholesale endorsement of the "Renovationist Agenda." It reads like an early attempt at a "Vatican II" style council, when such a thing was trendy to talk about (before witnessing the actual wreckage that a council of that type causes). Fortunately for us (and horrifically for them), the Catholics did it first. Its fruit is widely known to us.

      As for "feelings," I'm talking about the feelings of the OCU folks. orthochristian and UOJ already let us know what the UOC-MP thinks (although if you ask parishioners, you would likely get a wide variety of opinions).

      Even using the most conservative estimates, they are still larger than any one jurisdiction in America. Those are real people who attend their temples, even if the numbers are over (underestimated). They are totally alienated from the MP. Why? Pretending those people don't exist or treating them as "Banderist" thugs is not going to heal anything.

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  23. David, you ask how I could call fake bishops "fake bishops" after the EP accepted them. The reason is simple. The EP had no right to do it.

    The Canons of the Holy Apostles are among the most ancient Canons of the Church, and were specifically endorsed by the Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils. Canon 11 of the Holy Apostles says:

    "If anyone who is a clergyman pray in company with a deposed clergyman, he shall be deposed too" (D. Cummings, trans., The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons Saints Nicodemus and Agapius (West Brookfield, MA: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1983), p. 23).

    Canon 16, says that if a clergyman is suspended or deposed, and goes to another bishop, and "the Bishop with whom they are associating, admits them as clergymen in defiance of the deprivation prescribed against them, he shall be excommunicated as a teacher of disorder." (Ibid., p. 27).

    Canon 28, says: "If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, who has been justly deposed from office for proven crimes, should dare to touch the liturgy which had once been put in his hands, let him be cut off from the Church altogether" (Ibid, p. 40). Which is a canon clearly violated by Filaret, which is why he was also anathematized. And when he was anathematized, Patriarch Bartholomew again stated his agreement with the decision:

    “Having received notification of the mentioned decision, we informed the hierarchy of our Ecumenical Throne of it and implored them to henceforth have no ecclesial communion with the persons mentioned” (Letter of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow and All Russia, April 7, 1997).

    And this means very clearly that the EP has knowingly joined himself to a justly deposed and anathematized bishop, along with the schism that he established.

    The Canons of the Council of Antioch were also specifically affirmed by the Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils. The second canon of that council states:

    "As for all those persons who enter the church and listen to the sacred Scriptures, but who fail to commune in prayer together and at the same time with the laity, or who shun the participation of the Eucharist, in accordance with some irregularity, we decree that these persons be outcasts from the Church until, after going to confession and exhibiting fruits of repentance and begging forgiveness, they succeed in obtaining a pardon. Furthermore, we decree that communion with those excluded from communion is not allowed, nor in another church is it to be allowed to admit those who have no admittance to another church. If anyone among the Bishops, or Presbyters, or Deacons, or anyone of the Canon, should appear to be communing with those who have been excluded from communion, he too is to be excluded from communion, on the ground of seemingly confusing the Canon of the Church" [Ibid., p 535].

    And Canon 4 states:

    "If any Bishop, deposed by a Synod, or any Presbyter, or Deacon, deposed by his own Bishop, should dare to perform any act of the liturgy—whether it be the Bishop in accordance with the advancing custom, or the Presbyter, or the Deacon, let it no longer be possible for him to have any hope of reinstatement even in another Synod (or Council), nor let him be allowed to present an apology in his own defense, but, on the contrary, let all of those who even commune with him be cast out of the Church, and especially if after learning about the decision pronounced against the aforesaid, he should dare to commune with them" (Ibid., p 536).

    This canon makes it clear that Filaret, by continuing to serve after he was deposed, placed himself beyond the possibility of being reinstated by any subsequent Council. Furthermore, by entering into communion with Filaret, the Ecumenical Patriarch has committed an offense, for which he should be not only deposed, but cast out of the Church entirely.

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    1. Father John,

      Was Russia schismatic for communing with Bulgaria prior to 1945?

      I know what the Canons say. The problem, is that these Canons have been inconsistently applied, and not just by the EP. In addition, ROCOR has received defrocked and excommunicated clergy in its ranks. To name a recent example: Daniel Bwayantoro in Indonesia. How did that work out? I can name a few more, but an objection could be that it was before the Reunion. Yes, but were those men re-ordained? The Russian Church had no right to commune with the Bulgarians, and ROCOR had no right receiving those men as priests. It was not Canonical---at all.

      That is why I said I can't take the MP's arguments seriously, Father. Because this history makes such akrevia look hypocritical and self-serving. Surely you can understand what I mean.

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  24. David,

    The EP had a great deal of leverage when they announced what they were intending to do and the MP went to Constantinople to beg him not to do it (as he had promised he would not do it to all the heads of the local Churches, but evidently lied).

    The MP will not accept an autocephaly for the Ukraine that is a fake autocephaly (not really autocephaly at all, but really subordination to the EP) given to fake bishops. The MP would certainly accept an autocephaly given to the real Church of Ukraine if there was a pan Orthodox consensus for it.

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    1. Father John, what makes you think that Moscow would accept a "real" autocephaly for Ukraine? It's been 30 years since the original 1991 request for Ukrainian autocephaly was denied by Moscow. Patriarch Bartholomew later went to Kiev in 2008 and personally talked with Patriarch Alexei about the need to somehow resolve the Ukrainian crisis back then. Nothing changed afterwards. Even today, Moscow's "repent of your autocephaly" approach offers no feasible path towards reconciliation with the Ukrainian autocephalists.

      If all the bishops of the UOC-MP had shown up to the December 15, 2018 "Unity Meeting" in Kiev to elect a new primate, they would have greatly outnumbered everyone else and very easily could have elected Metropolitan Onuphrey as head of an autocephalous Ukrainian Church. The current OCU has only 62 bishops while the UOC-MP has 97. The deck was clearly stacked in favor of the UOC-MP if they had attended the meeting.

      Given the provisionary language of Constantinople's 1686 transfer of authority given to Moscow, Patriarch Bartholomew had every right to rescind it. According to that letter of transfer, the Patriarch of Constantinople was always supposed to have been commemorated by the Metropolitan of Kiev when he served Divine Liturgy. When did they stop happening? Who knows? Yet the fact that Metropolitan Onuphrey doesn't commemorate Patriarch Bartholomew now is an actual violation of the 1686 transfer anyways.





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  25. Father,

    If the MP was open to an authentic autocephaly, it would have been on the table prior to this mess (when it was brought up in the deliberations prior to Crete, and in the short lived negotiations between the UOC-KP and the UOC-MP prior to 2018. I don't believe the MP would submit the Ukraine question to a pan-Orthodox solution, because it is all "One Spiritual Space." The MP sees Ukraine as their canonical territory, and they will not give up Kiev/Kyiv and all of the attendant holy sites. That is the heart of "Holy Rus," and the MP will fight for it (just as vigorously as the Serbs fight for Kosovo, and the EP for Asia Minor). They made that clear. That "One Spiritual Space" speech was a message to the ENTIRE Church to mind its own business.

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  26. Father John,

    Please don't think I am trying to be obstinate. I don't see you as an adversary or antagonist, you are a priest of our Church and I respect you (and the work you have done on non-Ukrainian issues). I am both amazed that I am actually dialoguing with a prominent voice such as yourself (I see it as conversation, not as just a "combox war") and I also feel bad for having perhaps hijacked comment section---but I do think it might be good for people to see that there are men of good will on both sides, who are not in agreement, and that it need not be acrimonious. My apologies to the owner of this blog.

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  27. Jake, I didn't mention Sister Vassa for the simple reason that ROCOR publicly rebuked her on the subject. If the GOA or EP had done that in any of the cases I mentioned, I wouldn't have mentioned them either.

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    1. She then publicly and explicitly rebutted said rebuke, even further elaborating her homosexualist view about how under age men and women - *children*!!! - should act out homosexual acts.

      You want to play the strict (canonical) judge/lawyer over here and there - recommending who should be deposed and who is and is not in the real church, but in your own back yard you make thin excuse as to why your in communion with a modernist homosexualist excusing "nun"...big fat log in your own eye and all that...

      Your hypocrisy is understandable however, given how pervasive secularism is *in the church*, all of it, including the Russian.

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  28. David, you honestly think that the items on the agenda of the 1923 "Pan Orthodox" congress and their parallel in the Living Church is totally unrelated to the EP entering into communion with the Living Church? Why do you think they entered into communion with them?

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    1. I didn't say they were unrelated, but context needs to be provided here. "Revolution" was in the air, and "Church reform" was part of that overall push. The "Living Church" no doubt sold itself as a "reformed Church" and no doubt fed the EP representatives a line (they weren't the only non-Russians "dazzled" by the Soviet authorities). We have seen the fruits of such "reforms," but a century ago, such talk was the norm.

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  29. Regarding the allegations that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is covertly advancing the homosexual agenda, we should understand that just because public rebukes are not issued or that sensitive matters are not handled in the manner that we would like, it does not mean that they are apostates. The people who make these allegations keep a curious silence about a number of other problems in the Church and nobody seeks to accuse them of apostasy. In any event, if we are sincere about learning what a synod believes, as opposed to selecting only negative examples in order to cast stones, then we need to refer to their synodical documents. In this case, Article 10 of The Sacrament of Marriage and its Impediments text from the 2016 Holy and Great Council tells us that "The Church does not allow for her members to contract same-sex unions or any other form of cohabitation apart from marriage. The Church exerts all possible pastoral efforts to help her members who enter into such unions understand the true meaning of repentance and love as blessed by the Church."

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  30. Russia did not establish a parallel jurisdiction in Bulgaria, much less did they enter into communion with anyone who was universally recognized as not only deposed, but anathematized.

    My recollection of the situation with Daniel Bwayantoro, was that the EP only deposed him after he was received by ROCOR, and this happened at a time when ROCOR and the EP were not in communion. It did not happen in an area where anyone recognized an autocephalous Church as having exclusive jurisdiction. As to whether it was a good idea or not, subsequent events would suggest that perhaps it wasn't. The MP would not have made such a move prior to what the EP has done in Ukraine. But in any case, that is not analogous to establishing a parallel jurisdiction within the territory of an autocephalous Church and doing so with bishops universally recognized as not only deposed but anathematized.

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    1. Does it have to be "universally" recognized? Bulgaria was the EP's canonical territory at the time. Bulgaria uncanonically petitioned the Sultan for a "Tomos," and the Bulgarian clergy were defrocked, excommunicated, and I think even anathemized. Russia didn't establish a parallel jurisdiction, they just assisted the Bulgarians in their "revolution" in the name of what? Pan-Slavism? To stick it to the Ottomans? Russia had no canonical right to do that, Father. None. Of course the justification "after the fact" is that the Phanar was oppressing the Bulgarians and it was "the right thing to do." But it was done in violation of the Canons. Russia violated the Canonical Order in the name of a "greater good." That is the point I am making. Their akrevia now is self-serving, because this time the roles are switched.

      ROCOR claims they were never schismatic, and never outside of the Church. If so, how can their canonical transgressions be justified? Do the Canons just apply in the Old Country, and in the "Mission Lands" it's "anything goes"? The MP just grandfathered all of this mess in with a pen, and did nothing to fix it.

      As I type this, there is a very nasty fight between ROCOR and Rue Daru over this type of stuff. Father Andrew Phillips of Orthodox England fame was received by Rue Daru without canonical release. ROCOR went nuclear (oddly, the Russian Orthodox media is silent on this----I only learned of this because I wanted to see what Father Andrew was up to and looked at his blog).

      So it is ok in some situations but not in others? This is the inconsistency that compels me to reject the MP's arguments, Father.

      It doesn't become OK because you think "the EP has done worse." "Universally recognized" is a dodge, because Russia communed and assisted the breakaway autocephalous Churches of the 19th Century. None of that was canonical, but justified in the name of "justice."

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  31. David, there is no reason why the MP should have put Ukrainian autocephaly on the table, when the legitimate Church in Ukraine has not requested it, and they are beyond the reach of Putin, and so could easily do so, if they wanted to. They have a better deal with the MP than Epiphoney has with the EP. However, if the EP had been willing to discuss it when the MP was begging them to do so, they might have agreed to an autocephaly with Met. Onouphry at the head, in order to avoid the schism we are likely headed towards right now.

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    1. They would have done no such thing, Father. Patriarch Kyrill painted this apocalyptic scenario of "blood in the streets" if the EP went ahead. None of that happened, aside from the steady trickle of fights over parishes (which as I noted before, happened in America too, just as nastily, and often just as bloody). Just like the EP's visit to Ukraine----there were the predictions that he would condemn Metropolitan Onuphry and that there would be another "wave of violent Church seizures" and a "new phase" of oppression. That didn't happen either. Now they are saying "after HAH's visit to America."

      The rhetoric has become ridiculous at this point.

      There was EVERY reason to put it on the table, Father, especially when you consider everything that is happened. If not autocephaly, than the Estonia solution. Let them go! The EP wanted to do just that in 2008, but was rebuffed by the MP and sabotaged by Filaret. Before 2008, the EP wanted to talk about it, but again----"Mind your own business, Modernist. Isn't there a phone call from Langley you need to take?" Such ugliness was par for the course prior to this mess, sadly.

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  32. Marcele, I agree with calls for an end to the war, and if the US was not interested in keeping the war going, the war would have ended a long time ago. Furthermore, had the US not launched a coup against the lawfully elected government of Ukraine, none of this would have ever happened in the first place.

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  33. Marcele, when the EP has prominent clergy and Archons who are promoting homosexuality and transgenderism, and they not only do not rebuke them, but continue to shower them with money and praise, that means they agree with what they are doing, by any standard or measure. Don't kid yourself. If want to end up like the Episcopal Church USA, just keep your head in the sand.

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  34. "Furthermore, the bishops of ROCOR were never deposed or anathematized."

    In 1934, Metropolitan Sergius together with the synod of the Russian Orthodox Church decreed that the leaders of the Karlovci group (ROCOR) were to be tried in spiritual court for disobedience and were forbidden from performing their sacred duties pending outcome of the trial. All those in communion with or receiving the blessing of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Archbishop Anastasy (Gribanovsky), Archbishop Meletius (Zaborosky), Archbishop Seraphim (Lukianov), Bishop Nestor (Anisimov), Bishop Tikhon (Liashenko), Bishop Tikhon (Troitsky) and Bishop Viktor (Svyatin) would be under the same penalty. The rest of the Orthodox Church was notified of the decree and when the Serbian Patriarch Varnava disregarded it, Metropolitan Sergius sent him a stern letter threatening to sever communion with him unless he respected the decisions of the Russian Church.

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  35. Marcele, can you point me to the record of the trial that Metropolitan Sergius conducted that deposed and/or anathematized the bishops of ROCOR? It never happened, much less was it universally recognized throughout the rest of the Church. Metropolitan Sergius was not free, and in 1934, he didn't have a functioning Synod of bishops, because most of them were in prison or dead.

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  36. Where did Sister Vassa publicly rebuke the rebuke? I have not heard her say very much on the subject since she was rebuked. She has put a toe over the line once or twice, but it has been a long time since something like that has even happened. But the fact that she was rebuked is in sharp contrast to showering praise on the pro-homosexuals under the EP.

    How bishops handle discipline in a particular case is something that is hard to judge without knowing all that is said behind the scenes, but public statements that endorse homosexuality should be met with public rebukes. ROCOR has rebuked publicly. The EP only praises those guilty of such things, and makes sure they get more money.

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    1. My wife was a subscriber to her site at the time (some version of her "coffee with" perhaps, I don't recall the name exactly) and I read it there, but I believe our host also documented it here at Byztex though I'm not going to go search for it myself. My wife cancelled her subscription/support due to her rebuke of the rebuke.

      To counter your excuse making and arbitrary lines in the sand, the Fordham boys, the editor of Wheel, etc. are all laity who make their (very secular) cases in secular academia and publications - with commensurate funding structures, whereas (in theory) a nun is a vocation of the Church, directly overseen by the Church through her authorities (i.e. bishops). Fact is your synod played politics, publicly disagreeing but allowing this homosexualist excusing voice to continue *under their authority*, and they do so to this day. This is a "strictness for thee but not for my" hypocrisy on the part you and your jurisdiction.

      This is a part problem with the legalistic emphasis that is such a part of your internet ministry, in that your jurisdiction and self professed canonical, theological, ordo/pietistic, etc. *correctness* is a just a delusional mirage, no matter whether you personally really believe it or not. Your jurisdiction swims in the same cultural and historical soup as all the others, and whatever small advantages yours have are offset by other weaknesses. None of this is serious assessment or cure to what the secularist disease...

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  37. Joseph Lipper, the request in 1991 was coerced by the Filaret... the undeniable kook who allowed an occultist to pray over him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_dt1mOSS-8

    Met. Onouphry is a living saint, who is highly respected, and Putin has no ability to coerce him. And so if he thought pushing for autocephaly was in the best interests of the Church in Ukraine, he would do it. He certainly does not want to be in a forced union with the lunatics, modernists, and heretics of the likes of Filaret.

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    2. Fine, so if Metropolitan Onuphrey wants to uphold the "1686 transfer" then he should at least be commemorating Patriarch Bartholomew at the Divine Liturgy and as per the terms of that transfer. Of course he doesn't have to do this anymore because it's since been rescinded as of October 2018.

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    3. Furthermore, if Metropolitan Onuphrey feels that he has been wronged, he is free to appeal and make his case before the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Of course by doing so, he would automatically be breaking off from Moscow.

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  38. David, clearly the agenda of the 1923 "Pan Orthodox" congress was designed to push those items. Why else would they have put them on there? And this is proven by their embrace of a schismatic group in Russia that implemented these very items, and were willfully complicit in helping the Soviets to undermine the legitimate Church of Russia. And the EP was likewise willfully complicit. As I said previously, they certainly did not have anything like the pressure that the MP was getting from the Soviets to recognize the living Church. How many bishops of the EP were martyred as they resisted being forced to enter into communion with a satanic schism? Answer: zero.

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  39. Father, you can have the last word. I told myself that I would not engage in these sorts of conversations any more, but the chance to talk with you personally about this topic was a temptation that I could not resist.

    I ask forgiveness from anyone I may have offended. Lord, have mercy.

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  41. Jake, Archdeacon John Chryssavgis is hardly a layman. He is one of the most prominent spokesmen for the EP in the English speaking world. Neither Patriarch Bartholomew, nor Archbishop Elpidiphoros, nor Archbishop Demetrios has ever rebuked him or the people at Fordham, but on the contrary, they have only showered them with praise, honors, and increased their prominence, despite the fact that they promote the idea that it might not be inherently sinful for a man to have sex with another man, or a woman to have sex with another woman... not to mention promoting trans-genderism, or other such nonsense.

    Sister Vassa was rebuked, and has been relatively quiet on the subject since. I don't subscribe to her pay per view stuff, so I can't say what happens there.

    You say my ministry has a legalistic emphasis... such as what, for example? There is a big difference between defending principles, and a legalistic approach on a pastoral level.

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  42. David, the Bulgarian Church had a Patriarch prior to the Baptism of Rus'. The Russian Church did not claim Bulgaria as its own territory. Nor did it recognize or enter into communion with a group of laymen who claimed to be bishops, but were part of a completely bogus Church. So the situation at the time of the Bulgarian schism was not at all analogous to the EP claiming a chunk of the universally recognized territory of the Russian Church for itself, and entering into communion with a group headed by a fake bishop, Epiphoney.

    I think ROCOR has made many mistakes over time, but it's cold relations with the EP prior to 2007 were due in large part to the scandalous behavior of the EP and its ecumenical atrocities. I think in retrospect we should have been more cautious and diplomatic, and I think that those who were ready to write off the EP at that time as already being beyond the pale were premature -- but its actions didn't happen out of the blue, and the EP has some share in the blame. Blowing off the canons (such as those against praying with heretics) doesn't put you in a great position to complain about others not abiding by the canons in response.

    And if you think Patriarch Kirill's prediction that there would be blood in the streets as a result of the EP's actions hasn't proven true, you aren't paying attention. The fact that the EP hasn't yet condemned Met. Onouphry is hardly a star in his crown. He hasn't said a discouraging word about the illegal stealing of parishes, or violence directed at the real Orthodox clergy and laity of Ukraine, which has included murder.

    The EP previously carved off a piece of Estonia, and created a division in a part of the Russian Church that has never been anything other than part of the Russian Church. For the sake of peace, the MP let that go. This was more than could possibly be tolerated, and no other local Orthodox Church would put up with anything like it either. The EP itself threatened to break communion with Greece over far less.

    And on the Living Church, there is no evidence that anyone put a gun to the head of the EP to force them to enter into communion with the Living Church -- but if they had, they should have let them fire the gun, rather than enter into communion with a fake heretical Church. That's exactly what many Russian Bishops chose to do. Anything else was a betrayal of the Faith, pure and simple.

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  43. Joseph, the evidence that the EP actually did transfer the parts of Ukraine under their control are undeniable. There is no evidence that any complaints were ever made about a failure of the Metropolitan of Kiev to commemorate the EP. Every local Church recognized this for centuries. Furthermore, even if we bought this claim, and even if we could be convinced that a transfer that was stated to be "forever" could be rescinded, the EP did not have a claim on all of modern Ukraine.

    The EP has no universal right of appeal, and neither did Rome. They had a right of appeal within certain territorial bounds. Otherwise you would have had the problem of having two rival supreme courts, and such a thing cannot be. But even if the EP had such a right, they never heard the appeal in this case, in the manner laid out by the council of Sardica, which required actually hearing an appeal, and listening to all sides before rendering a judgment.

    https://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/2018/12/whats-going-on-in-ukraine-part-2.html

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