Monday, October 14, 2019

Early response by Moscow to Greece's decision on OCU

(Orthodox Times) - Protopresbyterian Nikolai Balashov talked in a negative and offensive manner about the decision of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece, which is not considered “appropriate” for equal interlocutors of the two Sister Churches. His attitude also betrayed a kind of superiority of one church towards an inferior one.

The vice-chairman of the Department of the External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow said to Sputnik that: “Even though many Metropolitans set their objection to the decision-making down for the moment, the Committee of the Hierarchs of the Church of Greece decided in favour of the recognition of the autocephaly of the ‘Church of Ukraine’. However, it expressed the hope that the ‘autocephaly’ of the Church of Ukraine could strengthen the relations between the two Sister Churches.”

“The consequences of this decision on the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of Greece will be evaluated by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow.”

The leading figure of the Patriarchate of Moscow talked offensively and he seemed to be undermining the authority of the Church of Greece by comparing it to the Patriarchate of Moscow. In particular, he said, “The entire territory of Greece is not under the jurisdiction of the Church of Greece. On the contrary, the Russian Orthodox Church is as an international church and does not only address believers who live in Russia.” If by this he means opening Russian churches in Greece... how counterproductive would this be to healing this wound in the Church caused by the unilateral creation of the OCU.


  1. Unfortunately, this seems to be only a sign of things to come.
    It now appears things will ultimately just veer towards factionalism: Either you are with the EP or you are with the MP.
    Since several Churches have already stated they do not recognize the EP's group over the canonical Church in Ukraine AND given that several of the Churches have called for this issue to be resolved by a meeting of the primates but the EP has not only scoffed, but openly ridiculed this suggestion, the natural course is simply a huge Schism.
    As painful as that is, the EP now claims that granting (and taking away) Autocephaly his exclusive right. This now places all the Churches at an impasse. They can either accept this ecclesiological error or they will simply find themselves in Schism with the EP and the Church of Greece. Sad indeed. However, at this juncture (and in the future), the only resolution that will come will have to be at a meeting of the primates. Which, you know, is actually already being called for widely.
    Sadly, HAH Bartholomew is going to go down in history as a schism and author of Church unity shattering Schism. That is, unless all Church kowtow to him and his new theology. I suspect that they will not. Nor do expect many faithful too either.
    I pray that everyone come to their senses and that the primates of the Church do meet and resolve this issue (and the misunderstandings being perpetuated about autocephaly).

  2. Apparently there is some kind of tumult, and now there is a question as to whether the Church of Greece even recognized the OCU at all. Romfea's English language website ( has taken down all of their articles on the Church of Greece's "recognition."

    I think it would be better to wait for the dust to settle and find out what actually happened.

  3. "....If by this he means opening Russian churches in Greece... how counterproductive would this be to healing this wound in the Church caused by the unilateral creation of the OCU."

    Yet, this Imperial Church of the East has been de facto a collection of ethno-national "Churches" since the collapse of the Empire. This "wound" is but the old wound of an ecclesiology designed for an Empire that no longer exists. The RC criticism is mostly true - the East has no real Unam Sanctam, besides a unity around doctrine (and not ecclesiology) but this has proven and is proving to not be enough when you stress the ethno-national cultural ties just a little bit, let alone a lot as has happened in the Ukraine.

    1. Having peered over the fence at the Latin Church and their attempts to "fix things," I would contend that our status quo is infinitely preferable, even if messy and at times from the hip.

      When the dust settles, we'll see what the Church of Greece ACTUALLY decides, rather than what partisans in this discussion want to believe through media outlets.

      Even if the Church of Greece decides against recognizing the OCU at this time, there is anger among Greek Hierarchs for what they see as bullying and pressure from Moscow. Using the Russian Diaspora as a threat and weapon is deplorable.

    2. Yep, the MP's is as much of a "bully" as the EP. Yep, the Latin Church's version of Unam Sanctam while on the surface more "coherent" (to choose a word) and "updated", is probably even thinner underneath that the East's (i.e. more real theological/doctrinal messiness and diversity, etc.).

      Still, the East's is not "from the hip", rather it is an ad hoc status quo that is at least a 1000 years old. It's not "messy", unless you mean it is etho-national, thin, and simply untenable - NA multi-jurisdictions have proven that.

      Also, despite the Latin's weakness, they have had REAL stressors and survived, in that they had the Protestant revolution. The East has not had anything like that...

    3. I would say that the status quo of "Core" Churches set down by the Ecumenical Councils with negotiated boundaries in the "Diaspora" is the best we can hope for until Our Lord returns. It isn't just the EP who has as "an interest" in keeping multi-jurisdictionalism. The MP's reception of Rue Daru and creating YET ANOTHER episcopacy in the same territory is a violation of the Canons, and yet that is acceptable? Even before the Revolution, North America's jurisdictional unity was on shaky ground. The Greeks rejected Russia's authority long before the Revolution (the infamous incident with St. Tikhon being a sad example) and there was a period of time when Antioch was also looking to "set up shop." This mess was coming, and I believe that even if the Russian Empire survived the revolution we would still be where we are today.

      Autocephaly and Multi-Jurisdictionalism are reactions to the modern era, and while they are not the ideal, are the only real practical way to maintain our Faith and unity in the Chalice as things currently stand. Are there issues to hash out? Absolutely....and they will be in time. An Ecumenical Council will be called when the time is right. Things haven't gotten bad enough yet. It may be coming. A new ad hoc status quo will come into being, because we can't fix anything. Only God can do that. The Church has been preserved despite ourselves. I have faith in God's promise.

    4. What good is a canon, or a violation there of, if it is in essence something created for another time and place, another "economy"? Not that the question points to a disagreement, on the contrary. Interesting what you say here:

      "Autocephaly and Multi-Jurisdictionalism are reactions to the modern era, and while they are not the ideal, are the only real practical way to maintain our Faith and unity in the Chalice as things currently stand"

      In essence, it's an admission that the status quo is too large to change, and thus the *impractical* status quo is the only *practical* thing to do. When our thinking gets this tangled and contradictory, we should probably start asking ourselves what it is we are missing. Along those lines, I wonder if we cling too tightly to a (very false) "one Chalice" ideology (and not theology).

      I do agree with you, in that if there are any men with the *charisma* (and by that I mean the older "in spirit" sense of the term) that are leading the Church to some kind of ontology for the reality of the world as it is today, I don't see them.

      That said I don't see any reason to defend the status quo in any way, even with a kind of "it's up to God" sort of resignation. I think this is sort of a blaming of Providence that which is really our own sad creation, our own sin. I don't think this is sort of Church to which this promise refers...

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Is the current canonical order fit for the 21st Century? Of course not, but then again many people say that about Christianity itself.

      These questions are not unimportant, but in the end they are not very useful, because there is what should be and what is. The Serenity Prayer (although not written by an Orthodox Christian) is THE Christian way to approach these questions. We change what can be changed, and leave the rest in the hands of God.

      I don't defend the status quo. The status quo just IS. Of course it is our own creation. It isn't an either or proposition. God guides us and lets us make our own choices (and mistakes). The Israelites chose to have a King despite the will of God. And yet, God worked within that kingdom, giving Israel a chance to continue in His ways (or not). The "One Chalice" isn't an ideology, it is being Christian. We all drink of the Cup of Christ through the Sacred Mysteries. EVERYTHING in the Church is oriented to that end. We should do everything we can to remain as brothers and sisters. The Canons are not "Cannons," to quote Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpatkos. We do what we can, when we can do it. The Canonical Order is disordered because of our own weakness. That doesn't mean we should just throw them out, anymore than we should dispense with the Fasting rules because "we can't do it." The Catholics tried that, with disastrous results.

      There is no "blame." God is blameless, and the Church is the accumulated experience and mistakes of 2000 years. We are all "to blame" on that front. How many holy bishops have there been who were treated just as terribly as the Prophets of old? There are saints in the Church today. There are holy bishops today. If the status quo is maintained, it is because THAT is what God has allowed. I don't focus on trying to "fix" anything, because THAT in itself is modernism. There is no "fixing" the Church. The slow, plodding, one step forward, two steps backward way the Church does business IS the way of humanity. I see the wasteland around me, and I can't help but smile in a knowing exasperated way. This really is us, isn't it? God is in control, in the end.

      No Plans. No Programs. Just holiness.

    7. Well stated David (clearly your a student of Fr. Stephen Freeman), and I don't disagree in the essentials at all. Your point about the paradoxical ontology of the Church/Christianity 'in the world' is spot on.

      All that said, where I do disagree with you is where the boundaries are - where "One Chalice" is ideology, and where it is Holy - and what is our sin and what is God's economic providence. This is where the emphasis of "fix...that is modernism" reaches its (very natural) limits. Repentance (which rests on truth) is not 'fixing'. Repentance is not modernism. At the risk of agreeing with the "progressive" Orthodox, not EVERYTHING in/of the Church is oriented toward Holiness, as there is in this Imperial Church of the East these Imperial leftovers that need repenting of. These things do have an impact on my salvation, and certainly on my children who somehow have to be formed properly in a Imperial church that is no more likely to retain/form its children then the RC or Protestants.

      In any case, good discussion!

    8. You got me. Father Stephen's writings have had a deep and profound influence on my approach to being Christian.

      The Empire is a part of who we are. That experience formed us, for good or for ill. Everything happens for us in slow motion. For God, He sees what we do not.

      The current fights over primacy, territory, et al, is a VERY OLD argument. It began with the Apostles and it didn't end there, and it won't end.

      Even if the diptychs were rewritten tomorrow and the EP was no longer the Protos, the question of "who is first" would STILL pop up, just in a different form. The names and places would change, but it would still be the same argument.

      This whole Ukraine business was a struggle for me, but now I've come to see it for what it is---the latest flare up of an ancient illness. I am under the EP, but my focus is on my own bishop, my own Spiritual Father and my own community. The history of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Constantinople will tell you what to do. "The EP is an unscrupulous man! What should we do?!" The same thing the shop keeper in Asia Minor and farmer in Greece did during the Ottoman period. LIVE CHRIST, and be the change you want to see. I can't save the world, I can't fix the Church, but I can help save my family, and I can help build my parish.

      Yes, not everything in the Church is oriented towards Holiness, but what we have is more than enough. It is not our place to demand the Church "repents." What would that even look like? It's "revolution" by another name. This is another difficulty of the modern era. People don't know their place. And I don't mean that in the Imperial Russia or Byzantine sense of peasantry and nobility. We see ourselves as "pundits," we see ourselves as "movers and shakers." This is the influence of American culture, this subtle democratization of EVERYTHING. It goes back to Father Stephen's article, "You don't make a difference, and that isn't a bad thing." There is no "perfect" Church and everybody has problems, Protestant, Catholic, EO and OO. They all have this baggage, this "stuff." For each, it is different.

      What should we do? The Holy Fathers give us the answer. Be Holy. If your bishop or patriarch is not holy, then we should be holy and pray for their repentance. If a door opens to change something, than we should we walk through. We shouldn't be kicking the doors down. Discernment, Prudence, Prayer, and Love.

      "Slow and Steady always wins the race."

      Yes, a good discussion!

  4. Well David from your lips to God's ears. They did not recognize ocu!