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The Ugly Politics Of Orthodoxy

I was waiting to see something definite before posting about it, but I’m leaving tomorrow for Italy, and I’m afraid that it’ll happen while I’m on the book tour, and I will not have the opportunity to note it. So I’m going to post this here, because it’s important, and it probably won’t make the news in the US.

Some background: Orthodox Christian ecclesiology is pretty much a confederacy of national churches, all believing the same things, and worshiping in the same way, but administered by national hierarchies. The Russian Orthodox Church is the Orthodox Church in Russia. The Greek Orthodox Church is the Orthodox Church in Greece. And so forth. They’re all normally in communion with each other. If you’re a Russian traveling in Greece, you can go to communion in a Greek Orthodox parish, no problem.

It’s confusing to Americans, because we have so many different Orthodox churches here in the US. It’s not supposed to be that way, but that’s how it happened, with each immigrant group bringing its own hierarchy over. We’re supposed to have a single Orthodox church in our country, but it hasn’t happened, and might never happen. We’re all in communion with each other, though.

That’s probably about to change, and for ugly reasons.

The two great rival churches in Orthodoxy are the Greeks and the Russians. This goes back many centuries. In Orthodox ecclesiology, the Patriarch of Byzantium has historically been considered the first among equals. Orthodoxy does not have a pope; it’s ruled collegially, by synods. The Byzantine patriarch is more like the Archbishop of Canterbury in that way. After Byzantium fell to the Ottomans, the Moscow — the Russian church — became the de facto great power in world Orthodoxy. The Byzantine patriarch — now called the Ecumenical Patriarch — has continued on all these years as a figurehead. The current one, Bartholomew, lives in a small quarter in Istanbul. Unlike Moscow, he has no money, but he does have the power, by virtue of his office, to grant “autocephaly” — the right to self-rule — to national churches in communion with his See.

(I have probably oversimplified this explanation. Forgive me. It’s complicated.)

So, the crisis coming to a head right now threatens to split world Orthodoxy. Since Russia and Ukraine began fighting, a large number of Ukraine-based Orthodox parishes have wanted to break away from the Moscow Patriarchate and form a Ukrainian Orthodox patriarchate — a national church independent from Moscow. Moscow has fought this hard. For one, a huge number of parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church are in Ukraine. To lose them would be a big, big blow to Moscow. For another, Ukraine is the birthplace of Russian Orthodoxy, in the 10th century.  [1] It is hard to overstate how much this means to Russian Orthodoxy, on an emotional and symbolic level.

But if the breakaway Ukrainian Orthodox bishops ask the Ecumenical Patriarch for autocephaly, he can grant it — and, according to this report today, is moving very quickly to do that. [2] If this happens, there will almost certainly be a schism between Moscow and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. World Orthodoxy will likely split along lines of those faithful to the EP, and those who align with Russia. It will be a severe wound to the body of Orthodoxy, and highlights Orthodoxy’s greatest weakness: its lack of unity.

change_me

I’m about to jump on an overnight flight, so I’m going to need to wrap this up. This take on the controversy from an Orthodox reader here in the US is a good summary of the scandal of this war between the Orthodox superpowers. Note well: I’m not necessarily endorsing what this reader says — I don’t know enough details about the situation from either side to take an informed position but I am telling you that this is the kind of thing one hears in US Orthodox circles these days:

The Moscow Patriarchate, aka the Russian State Church, has a disproportionate number of its believers and parishes in the Ukraine. Ukraine wants as much separation as possible from the Putin kleptocracy, to include its servant church. As per this AP report last month: [3]

The nexus between Russia’s intelligence and religious establishments survived the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and the KGB’s reorganization into the FSB, according to Moscow-based political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin. “Our church leaders are connected to the FSB and their epaulettes stick out from under their habits,” Oreshkin said. “They provide Vladimir Putin’s policy with an ideological foundation.”

Their solution? Apply to the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople (Istanbul) for a tomos of autocephaly that would mean independence from the KGB church in Moscow.

This request, brought personally by the Ukrainian head of state and spurring a visit from Patriarch Kyrill to Istanbul in response, gives Constantinople the first bit of leverage it has had in years against the state-supported Russian church. The attempt at an Oeceumenical Synod last year — the first steps toward union with Rome — were blocked by the Slav churches in obedience to Moscow and at the anything-but-universal Synod by anti-ecumenist bishops from Greece who refused to recognize the papist heresy as a “church” akin to the Orthodox Church. The Ukraine tomos possibility gives Constantinople, essentially toothless in any political or ecclesial battle with the well funded Russian State Church, a chance for payback and to assert its claims to ‘first among equals’ status in the Orthodox world.

Here’s the thing.

What you find is that it is all about politics, demographics, money, and power.

Autocephaly, though, is supposed to be granted in recognition of a daughter church’s maturity in the faith, i.e., that it producing wonder working saints, an Orthodox culture, and a distinct aspect of Christ unique to its part of the world.

This is what made the Russian State Church’s awarding of autocephaly to the Metropolia, now ‘The Orthodox Church in America,’ during the Vietnam War such a comi-tragic farce. It was a pay-off for tribute and the transfer of the Orthodox Church of Japan to Moscow’s control, not a token of American sanctity or Orthodox maturity.

Everything has to be politics now, not just the reporting, but in the Church leadership itself. They don’t even bother to pretend that the tomos would be in recognition of anything spiritual.

As an Orthodox monk shared with me:

It amazes me how utterly political all of these matters are to the prevailing “Orthodox world.” There was a time when autocephality[cephaly] was, at least ideally, akin to a recognition of a local Church’s spiritual maturity and status. Today, superficial issues of demographics, power alignment, and even ecumenical consensus from heterodox voices obtain. Analogous would be the tonsuring of a Great Schema monastic because he or she has a sufficiently well-sewn or brightly colored analabos for the ceremony of tonsure. No need for an new name. Just use the largely unused “church name.”

Anyway, there are a bunch of links below that show just how bad the political infighting is between the equivalents of the Vatican in the Orthodox world. Note especially the fears in Istanbul that Patriarch Kyrill would poison Bartholomew in some kind of FSB hit.

The Catholics have it bad, that’s for sure. But in these end times, the figurehead leaders of Orthodox, Inc., are at least as worldly and disconnected from anything of Christ as Francis and company.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to embed all the links the reader included. But please know that this is dirty business on both the Russian and the Ukrainian-EP side. Nobody’s hands are spiritually clean. Putin’s war on Ukraine has done terrible damage to the unity of the Orthodox Church there, that’s for sure.

It is a relief to many of us American Orthodox that the worst scandals in Orthodoxy right now are about money and power, not doctrine and sex. But that’s cold comfort, all things considered. This is a dangerous and deeply tragic moment for Orthodox Christianity.

When I get to Europe, I will approve comments from people on both (all?) sides of this issue. Again: I’m not taking sides, because I don’t know enough about it to make an informed decision. I just pray that schism can be avoided.

UPDATE: A friend e-mails:

A prediction from 1895:

“It is obvious that there are questions on which the Russian Church could and ought to negotiate with the Mother See, and if these questions are carefully avoided it is because it is a foregone conclusion that a clear formulation of them would only end in a formal schism. The jealous hatred of the Greeks for the Russians, to which the latter reply with a hostility mingled with contempt — that is the fact which governs the real relations of these two national Churches, in spite of their being officially in communion with one another. But even this official unity hangs upon a single hair, and all the diplomacy of the clergy of St. Petersburg and Constantinople is needed to prevent the snapping of this slender thread. The will to maintain this counterfeit unity is decidedly not inspired by Christian charity, but by the dread of a fatal disclosure; for on the day on which the Russian and Greek Churches formally break with one another the whole world will see that the Ecumenical Eastern Church is a mere fiction and that there exists in the East nothing but isolated national Churches. That is the real motive which impels our hierarchy to (p. 69) adopt an attitude of caution and moderation towards the Greeks, in other words, to avoid any kind of dealings with them. As for the Church of Constantinople, which in its arrogant provincialism assumes the title of “the Great Church” and ‘the Œcumenical Church,’ it would probably be glad to be rid of these Northern barbarians who are only a hindrance to its Pan-Hellenic aims. In recent times, the patriarchate of Constantinople has been twice on the point of anathematizing the Russian Church; only purely material considerations have prevented a split.” (p. 70)

Vladimir Solovyev, *Russia and the Universal Church,* trans. Herbert Rees (London, 1948: Geoffrey Bles), pp. 69-70.

UPDATE.2: An Orthodox friend writes:

The reader’s statement you posted in your article is by no means “a good summary” of the situation, but a spiteful and mendacious screed. Almost nothing the author states is true. And anyone who would call the Russian Church “the KGB Church” is ipso facto a hater. Even more egregiously, he/she totally ignores the fact that the two “Ukrainian” Churches (UOC-KP and UAOC) are both schismatic, making the granting of a tome of autocephaly a patriarchal endorsement of schism, an utterly terrible precedent. It would isolate the Phanar (and Kiev) from the rest of the Orthodox world. I could write much more here, but you would not likely have time to read it before leaving.

UPDATE.3: JamesP writes:

Where to begin untangling this knot?

Russia has provoked Ukraine with its imperial ambitions, and now the former’s Church will pay a price. Yes, Ukraine is a schism-ridden mess with multiple bad actors, so that’s Constantinople’s cover which does have some legitimacy even if it’s in bad faith.

The autocephaly of the Russian Metropolia in the US and Canada (now the OCA) was a cynical move by Moscow, and everyone knew it. In the US/Canada, though, the motive was mostly good: to create a unified Orthodox church in North America free from all of the foreign influence, dysfunction, and blood-sucking. (Many will disagree either because Holy Russia or Global Pope of Constantinople.) Some Romanians, Bulgarians, and Albanians signed on with the Metropolia Slavs. The more numerous Greeks and Arabs did not, so the principal aim of the autocephaly failed miserably. I’m in the OCA, and I am extremely thankful for this autocephaly, misbegotten though it was. We’re left alone and have nothing to gain from inter-church politics. Cool by me.

Russia, despite its enormous faults, stands firm theologically and understands the apocalyptic dimensions of the West’s backsliding into sodomy. (Too bad the Church’s influence over Russian society on killing the vast majority of their babies in the womb, human trafficking, alcoholism that beggars belief, etc. is so minimal.) Demographically, Russia is doomed. So is Ukraine. And any other white-ish place.

Constantinople is pro-sodomy/Western just like Rome. Ukraine fears Russia, as it well should, so it’s turning West with all that is entailed by that.

C’ople needs a powerful ally, and it will take Rome or Ukraine or EU or whatever, theology and morality be damned…and Roman radioactivity be damned. (Remember, they like that kind of radioactivity.)

Ukraine and C’ople are both fighting for their lives, and Russia probably miscalculated. Russia is fighting for its long-term viability against Western decadence, but they will lose to their own kinds of decadence.

It is possible — normal, actually — for various national Orthodox Churches to be in communion with other churches that are not in communion themselves. Witness the recent breaking of communion between Jerusalem and Antioch over a poorly-handled territory dispute on the Arabian peninsula. Nobody else broke communion with those churches as a result.

No, autocephaly isn’t always granted upon the recognition of spiritual maturity, wonderworking saints, etc. Russia declared its own independence, and C’ople didn’t recognize it for centuries. Other countries did, too, as they threw off the murderous Turkish yoke while C’ople was paralyzed by its muslim overlords.

If there is a political realignment of the Orthodox churches, God forbid, you will have a reduced Russia, (tiny) Poland, and Serbia together. Not sure about Czech-Slovakia or Bulgaria. Georgia would align with Russia if it had to, fearing its tanks which it well understands. All others (Greece, Cyprus, Antioch, Jerusalem, Bulgaria, Romania, Alexandria) would align with C’ople if push came to shove.

I’d like to think the OCA would remain neutral; it has nothing to gain from choosing either side, and it could blow apart in different ways if one side or the other were chosen. That’s not a bad thing.

I’d also like to think that most churches would call BS on the whole sordid affair and put both warring parties in time out, do with Ukraine as each feels it must, and publicly express the unity in Christ that’s really there among the actual Orthodox Christians.

What a bloody, embarrassing mess, eh? Right faith, wrong people, as we like to say. And Satan will always be the big winner…until he isn’t. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

I encourage all of you to read the comments for various perspectives from Orthodox Christians. I have made a point over the years not to get involved intellectually with international Orthodox Church politics, so I honestly don’t know what to think about this. Sorry about that.

195 Comments (Open | Close)

195 Comments To "The Ugly Politics Of Orthodoxy"

#1 Comment By NC On September 9, 2018 @ 7:23 pm

For the Orthodox spiritual rather than political underpinnings and perspectives about both the EP and the Council of Crete/Holy Council, please see many pertinent articles at [4]. An official accusation of heresy againt the EP by some Monks of Mt Athos on March 20 2017 to the hierarchy of the Church of Greece seems a natural consequence of the EP’s unOrthodox planning and manipulation of the Council itself, imposing his wishes in Roman Pope fashion on those who did not attend for cause. He himself seems to have provoked a spiritual schism more important than any political one — and the so-called “political” decision of the ROC re Ukraine has a spiritual foundation.

#2 Comment By William Tighe On September 9, 2018 @ 9:25 pm

Should anyone be minded still to think that this is “no big deal” he should read this:

[5]

which tends to reenforce my view that however bizarre some of his views (e.g., “sophiology”) and however unusual his ecclesiological views (he was a strong “papalist,” but lived and died a member of the Russian Orthodox Church) Solovyev’a 1895 “prediction” may well soon be borne out by events.

#3 Comment By Egypt Steve On September 9, 2018 @ 9:43 pm

Speaking as an ex-Lutheran of course, and no longer a believer, who therefore has no dog in this fight, I’ve just never understood why “Christian unity” depends on recognizing the authority of any particular hierarchy. Why not just recognize anyone who is willing to endorse the Nicene Creed as a brother or sister in Christ, and call that all the unity you need?

#4 Comment By Carol Jean On September 9, 2018 @ 11:07 pm

It’s telling that discussion about the “church” never references the One who the church is supposed to be about, God. HIS word tells us everything we need to know about how HE wants his truth to be made known: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight.” (2 Timothy 3:16) “Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Yet, the politics of the Orthodox church disregard God’s instruction from the bible that tells us what true Christianity looks like. Instead the politics of the church reflect this scripture: “This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshipping me, for they teach commands of men as doctrines.” (Matthew 15:8,9)

#5 Comment By JohnPerth On September 10, 2018 @ 12:10 am

Russia’s demographic decline has turned the corner, so let’s get the facts straight before we draw conclusions from them. The neo-cons don’t like to admit this fact, and indeed some of them continue using old data, quite mendaciously, but look it up for yourself.

More importantly, Russia’s religious revival is grass-roots and real. It’s also huge. Our priest (SSPX) went there a couple of years ago, and was amazed by the situation. Churches thronged with believers, lines for confession, a baptism going on in very church he visited. And the crowds of worshippers are not just old people, there are numerous youths. It’s real, it’s huge, and we don’t know where it will end, but surely one thing it will do is reduce and perhaps even reverse some of the evils described above. Indeed, abortion is under attack not just from the churches, but from the government. Name a decadent Western country where that is happening. Whatever Russia’s future, her trajectory today is the opposite of that of the liberal West. Perhaps that explains the visceral hatred of Russia amongst our establishment elites. You know, the same people who couldn’t bear to hear Uncle Joe Stalin criticised. When Russia was Communist, they loved her; now that she is heading towards Christ, they cannot stomach her.

#6 Comment By Blimbax On September 10, 2018 @ 12:33 am

To TKarakosta,

Thank you for the correction/clarification. It does not negate the main point I was trying to make, perhaps a bit maladroitly, which is that Constantinople depends largely on the Greek Orthodox of America for support.

And the Greek-American establishment attempts to cultivate ties with the American political establishment. For example, the “Greek OXI Day Foundation” (OXI in Greek characters means “NO,” and refers to October 28, 1940, when the Greek government rejected Mussolini’s demand to allow Italy free passage through and the right to station military forced in Greece) has an annual event where it “honors” various people for various reasons.

This year the “OXI Day Courage Award” will be given to Vladimir Kara-Murza, described by the Foundation as a “Russian Democracy activist and Putin government critic who was poisoned twice by Russian security services (and given a 5% chance of survival each time).” Former vice president Joe Biden was one of the recipients of the award in 2016.

The president and founder of the Foundation is, among other things, an “archon” of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and a principal in what is described as a Washington, D.C., public policy firm. He figures prominently in various activities and organizations that weave together wealthy and prominent Greek Americans and members of the Washington establishment.

You all can draw your own conclusions. My guess is that the Greek American branch of Orthodoxy, which comes under the Patrarch of Constantinople, and the Greek church in Greece, might very well respond quite differently to the current events.

#7 Comment By Perseus On September 10, 2018 @ 12:33 am

You people saying that Moscow is the Third Rome are clearly all wrong. Vienna is obviously the Third Rome.

#8 Comment By Old West On September 10, 2018 @ 1:35 am

The more I read the complex justifications given for the EP’s planned move in the Ukraine, the less I am convinced that the Greeks would be capable of coming up with such Jesuitical canonical and historical gymnastics on their own. They have all they can do to serve their (always yummy) after-liturgy meals on time.

I tend to poo-poo most conspiracy theories, but the brief justifying this radical innovation has the Vatican written all over it (and that is where Bartholomew was educated, if I recall correctly, so he has even more than the usual number of contacts there). Those guys wrote the book on Jesuitical.

#9 Comment By Jan On September 10, 2018 @ 2:34 am

[6]

#10 Comment By Jack Regan On September 10, 2018 @ 8:13 am

If only Jesus had appointed one apostle/ Bishop to lead. I mean, some kind of… I guess… Pope..? If only…

😉

#11 Comment By Learn History: Against Constantinopolitan shenanigans On September 10, 2018 @ 11:16 am

Rod writes: “but he does have the power, by virtue of his office, to grant “autocephaly” — the right to self-rule — to national churches in communion with his See.”

——

Rod, respectfully I must disagree with this claim that you are making. The Patriarch of Constantinople cannot intervene (uninvited) in the internal affairs of another Orthodox Church.

Our own Orthodox Church in America is a classic case in point. The OCA (known as the Russian Metropolia in the mid-20th century) was in schism from the rest of world Orthodoxy from about the late 1940s through 1970. After WW2, the Metropolia/OCA decided (for a variety of reasons) that neither the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia (ROCOR) nor the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia (the Moscow Patriarchate) were acceptable hierarchies to fall under canonically. Thus it separated itself from both, in what it called euphemistically a “temporary self-governing status,” a nice way of saying it went into a self-imposed schism for a while.

The Metropolia approached the Church of Constantinople in the 1960s to see if the Istanbul Church would accept it under its omophorion. However, then the Constantinopolitan Church told the Metropolia it needed to first go back to its Mother church (in Russia) to regularize its schismatic status. At that time, the Patriarch in Constantinople did the right thing, not interfering in the internal affairs of the Russian Church, much complicated in those days by communism, but rather directing the Metropolia back to Moscow for talks.

Today in Ukraine, you have a completely different scenario. The “Patriarch” of the schismatic group in Ukraine, that the Patriarch in Constantinople seems to be poised to grant “autocephaly” to, is a fallen-off-the-deep-end corrupt and deposed hierarch (Filaret Denysenko). He wanted to become Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1990 after then-Russian Church Patriarch Pimen died. When Denysenko was passed over, he then took lead of the ultra-nationalist Ukrainian schismatics as a way of getting back at those whom he believed passed him over for Patriarch of Moscow. (Denysenko was very much opposed to the Ukrainian schismatics while he believed he would be the next Patriarch of the Russian Church).

There are about 18,000 Orthodox parishes in Ukraine. More than 12,000 of them are under the canonical Ukrainian Church (an autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate), headed by the much-loved and much-respected Metropolitan Onuphry. The schismatic, corrupt, and deposed Patriarch-imposter Filaret leads less than 1/3 of the Ukrainian parishes.

The Patr of Constantinople thus seems ready to go in and grant “autocephaly” to a group of schismatics who don’t even represent the bulk of the Ukrainian Orthodox population. He is clearly not acting on behalf of the best interests of the Church. He is set to go in and deliberately create division in Ukraine, a long-recognized domain of the Russian Orthodox Church; Kiev, as many know, is the cradle of Russian Orthodoxy.

To say Ukraine has nothing to do with Russia or Russian history is like saying “heck no, Massachusetts was never part of the United States!” It makes no sense.

If he were a true leader, the Patr of Constantinople would give the schismatic Ukrainians the same advice he gave the Metropolia/OCA in the 1960s: the first step is for you to go regularize your status with your mother church.

It is completely ludicrous to think that this group of schismatics under a corrupt “Patriarch” would go straight from schism to autocephaly. It’s such a joke, it’s laughable.

11 of the 14 canonically-recognized autocephalous Orthodox churches have voiced support of the Russian Church and of the canonical Ukrainian Church on this one. The Patr in Constantinople only finds its support from Western interests (the USA, where war is always good business and who also backed the Ukrainian coup several years ago, and probably also from the Vatican, and from Greeks who simply want to back their tribe in opposition to the Russians). I’m a Greek-American, by the way, who clearly realizes that the bulk of his tribe is wrong on this one.

For its part, America can still only think in a Cold War, West-good Russia-bad model, and it has no idea whom or what it really is supporting in Ukraine.

As someone accurately phrased it recently: “Some of the main factors motivating the Phanar (the Patriarchate in Constantinople) in its recent canonical convulsions are: its perennial jealousy of the Vatican; cash from US government agencies, directly donated and indirectly donated via their surrogate, Poroshenko; Grecian tribal patriotism. Orthodox Christian religion is not involved and considered to be an annoying distraction.”

Orthodox Christians worldwide are living in very interesting times. St John Maximovitch wrote in the 20th century about the decline of the once-venerable Constantinopolitan Patriarchate. We seem to be witnessing its very self-destruction today.

Being an Orthodox Christian under the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople is not a good place to be these days.

#12 Comment By Nicholas Ohotin On September 10, 2018 @ 11:40 am

For what it’s worth, for those who read Russian, here is a posting of eleven primates and hierarchs rejecting this decision by the Patriarch of Constantinople:
[7]

#13 Comment By mike On September 10, 2018 @ 12:47 pm

The great weakness of Orthodoxy is lack of unity? From the context, you are clearly talking about administrative-organisational unity.
With respect, the lack of administrative unity is not a weakness. It is a massive, enormous, invaluable strength.
Just look at what centralised power has done to the Roman Catholic Church. It has created a worldly political power centre which views Christ as a competitor/rival/enemy. And this is in no way a new thing – nor a unique feature of our times. The worldly power in Rome is an entity that has spread waste and destruction ever more widely as transport and communications infrastructure and technology have extended its reach and accelerated its impact. (When movement was limited by a more primitive network of geographical connections, the influence of Vatican culture was relatively restricted.)
Moreover, we know the devil finds work for idle hands to do. To keep a permanent ruling body is a recipe for disaster. The ad hoc council system is the best way of running (or ideally not running) any organisation or society. You do not assemble an authoritative body unless there is a real crisis, and you have determined that a council (difficult to organise and manage and sustain) is the only way of dealing with that crisis. (The “chemo-therapy theory” of government: You only use it as a last resort because it is extremely dangerous.)
Imagine if the Orthodox Church had had a “Vatican” in Moscow when the great blackness of bolshevism engulfed the country. What would have happened then? Thankfully, the Orthodox Churches functioning outside the zone of darkness kept the Chruch strong and gave breath to the embers of faith that still smouldered in Russia in the midst of the nightmare.
You can have either administrative unity under one centralised governing body, or you can have real unity – scriptural-doctrinal-theological.
You can’t have both.
Logical analysis leads us to this conclusion, and the history books confirm it.

#14 Comment By Theodore G. Karakostas On September 10, 2018 @ 1:35 pm

What are the chances of convening a Pan Orthodox
council minus Constantinople?

Back in 2005, a Council was convened in
Constantinople that deposed the former
Patriarch of Jerusalem. Granted that Council
was convened by Constantinople but is there
a possibility something like this might
be possible if Moscow were to appeal to the
Patriarch of Alexandria (second in the
dyptichs) to preside over this.

Also, back in the 1970’s, there was a small
council attended by the Patriarchs of
Alexandria and Antioch (with representatives
of the Patriarch of Jerusalem) to deal with
a case put forward by Bishops of Cyprus against
then Archbishop Makarios.

Conciliarity is how Orthodoxy is governed
might this not be the way to address this
potential crisis?

Theodore G. Karakostas

#15 Comment By Antonia On September 10, 2018 @ 2:56 pm

RE: Constantinople gained status because it was the capital of the empire.
SJ commented: So did Rome.

Yes about Constantinople, but not correct about Rome. If you read patristic sources, the importance of Rome is based on 2 non-political facts: that it was Peter’s see, and that it was the place where Peter and Paul were martyred.

#16 Comment By Greg On September 10, 2018 @ 6:13 pm

JonF, every Orthodox jurisdiction I have attended services in California Communes Oriental Orthodox – ROCOR, OCA, and GOA. Some claim that in so doing the Communicants are somehow professing allegiance to Chaledonian Orthodoxy but I doubt anyone does anything to formalize that. I know of a Greek parish for example that had a Coptic community, once large enough to set up their own parish were assisted in doing so.

On the other hand I have been advised by my priest and confessor not to Commune in India, so I guess the rules are applied more strictly in that direction.

In any case I think most Orthodox, including Hierarchs, see little difference between the Communions as a rule (except when there is a genuine articulation of monophysitism). I even read in a book on St Innocent I acquired at Fort Ross that he had advocated from intercommunion with Armenians, though I have never seen an original source to that effect.

#17 Comment By James On September 10, 2018 @ 6:30 pm

Whether or not one agrees with everything stated by the reader quoted by Rod above, one of his comments is a complete summary of pretty much every major religious group in the world today:

“Here’s the thing.

What you find is that it is all about politics, demographics, money, and power.”

Rod goes to great lengths to mourn the way younger folks are completely ignoring the church today, but this is the very thing those young folks see most clearly—and consequently have no interest in participating.

#18 Comment By Theresa On September 10, 2018 @ 7:07 pm

UPDATE.2: An Orthodox friend writes: “The reader’s statement you posted in your article is by no means “a good summary” of the situation, but a spiteful and mendacious screed. Almost nothing the author states is true. And anyone who would call the Russian Church “the KGB Church” is ipso facto a hater.”

Yes, I kind of got the “hater” part when the same person referred to the Catholic Church as “the papist heresy.”

It’s fine if they want to believe Catholic doctrines a “heresy.” That isn’t necessarily hateful. But when they use an offensive anti-Catholic pejorative as though it’s a normal part of their speech, I pretty much tune them out.

I also wondered about the “KGB Church” claim, so I’m glad I’m not the only one who considered this writer to be more than a little biased.

#19 Comment By anon On September 10, 2018 @ 8:26 pm

There are four distinct entities in Ukraine that: 1) pray the same Divine Liturgy 2) commemorate the same Saints 3) proclaim the same dogma and doctrine.

They are separated by politics, not faith.

The political solution to this is for one to eventually and completely dominate the three others. This is the sole option Moscow will allow.

The other solution is to seek a union that transcends politics, but that requires *everyone* to lay aside their political desires and to become truly Orthodox.

One can hope, even as the commentariat here and elsewhere demonstrate the difficulty of the task.

#20 Comment By JonF On September 10, 2018 @ 8:54 pm

Re: the importance of Rome is based on 2 non-political facts: that it was Peter’s see

Somewhat awkwardly for this theory, Antioch was originally Peter’s see.
If Peter had been martyred in some Roman Boondocksville I rather doubt we’d be honoring that place with the see of primacy.

Re: When Russia was Communist, they loved her; now that she is heading towards Christ, they cannot stomach her.

We had this discussion here a while back, though you may nit have been here for it. Yes, Russian demographics are looking more positive than they did in the 90s. No, Russia is not going to shrivel up and blow away. But it’s still a European country with European stats. Which does not matter– because it’s unlikely those numbers will be written in stone indefinitely, and in any rate Russia became a great nation and empire when it had less than a tenth of its current population.
As for Russian Christianity, lots and lots of people claim to be Orthodox– it’s a Russian thing, deeply connected with the culture in ways we Americans cannot grasp. But actual regular church attendance remains at a pretty low level. There are many, many sincere and devout Christians in Russia. But there are also many MTDers whose “faith” is based on the “Russian” half of “Russian Orthodox”. And beyond that there are lots of dissolute and debauched people in the country too. Russian stats on social dysfunction (from abortion to prostitution to HIV infections) remain inferior to our own. People who try to portray Russia as some great triumph of social conservatism are build a fantasy not unlike the poster who predicted the Romanovs would soon sit the throne again.

Re: The claim of “economia” because of small children doesn’t wash.

I don’t know if you are Orthodox or not, but I’m going to assume not (or else a recent convert). “Economia” is a relaxing of the rules to prevent something worse from happening. And in this matter we aren’t even talking about sinful behavior: the Church’s rules on priestly marriage are just that: church rules, without a moral aspect to them. And as I noted exceptions have long been made, on rare occasion. Now if the Greeks are proposing relaxing them 100% of the time, that’s matter for debate– I would oppose that too, on prudential (not moral) grounds. But rare exceptions in special conditions should not perturb anyone. The canons of the church are to be approached as guidelines that usually apply, not absolute ukases handed down by a tsar or basileus. Remember, the Law is made for Man nor Man for the Law.

LARP = Live Action Role Playing (game). The age of monarchs as anything but powerless symbolic figureheads is over and done with, as much so as the Age of feudalism or the Bronze Age. the only exceptions are some rather noisome nations in the Middle Easy– and maybe North Korea– not role models for Russia or anyone else.

#21 Comment By Josep On September 10, 2018 @ 8:57 pm

@Locksley
LARP stands for “live-action role playing”.

#22 Comment By TR On September 10, 2018 @ 9:43 pm

VikingLS: I suspect a lot of people believe your first-hand accounts of Russia and appreciate them–and they should.

#23 Comment By Anastasios On September 10, 2018 @ 9:53 pm

Old West said “The more I read the complex justifications given for the EP’s planned move in the Ukraine, the less I am convinced that the Greeks would be capable of coming up with such Jesuitical canonical and historical gymnastics on their own. They have all they can do to serve their (always yummy) after-liturgy meals on time.

I tend to poo-poo most conspiracy theories, but the brief justifying this radical innovation has the Vatican written all over it (and that is where Bartholomew was educated, if I recall correctly, so he has even more than the usual number of contacts there). Those guys wrote the book on Jesuitical.”

The EP and his administration at the Phanar could not have come up with such complex reasoning without help from the Jesuits and the Vatican? Leaving aside whether either the SJ or the Vatican would have interest in promoting such a development in Ukraine, which is a fact not in evidence, let’s think about this. The Ecumenical Patriarch is part of a direct institutional inheritance stretching back to the founding of Constantinople. In other words, these are literally the people that the term “Byzantine Intrigue” was coined to describe. And you seriously think they need lessons in planning and argumentation from the Jesuits?

#24 Comment By pilgrim On September 10, 2018 @ 10:48 pm

Rod, I have great respect for you as an Orthodox Christian and political and cultural observer, but you are clearly in over your head on this subject, as you freely admit. The extensive quote you cite as “a good summary” of the problem is actually a vicious, one-sided, and somewhat kookie screed from somebody spending a lot of time grinding axes. And the “right” of Cpl to grant autocephaly unilaterally is anything but universally affirmed or accepted. What is true is that all this is based more in politics and power struggles than in the Faith, and it is deeply embarrassing and counter-productive to the mission of the Orthodox Church. Pray that cooler heads will prevail to avoid a major schism.

#25 Comment By Sean Kelly On September 10, 2018 @ 11:34 pm

Patriarch Cyrill is a shaman in an expensive suit. ‘The KGB Church’ might be a hateful moniker, but it’s true.

#26 Comment By EngineerScotty On September 11, 2018 @ 1:04 am

LARPing = live-action role playing.

Originally (and still) refers to Society for Creative Anachronism (or if you prefer, the Society of Cardboard and Aluminum-foil) and similar outfits that would dress up in faux medieval armor, stage fake medieval battles, and drink large quantities of beer. (The beer, at least, is real).

In the political context, refers to the sort of keyboard warriors who fancy themselves part of the Resistance, or some holy brotherhood of martyrs, or who otherwise greatly overestimate or exaggerate their degree of personal risk from political activity.

#27 Comment By Theresa On September 11, 2018 @ 1:35 am

Elijah: “Since some light was finally shone on the repulsive behavior of some 300 priests and the systemic coverups by bishops, I’d say the report was a resounding success.”

I have to disagree with you that “some light was finally shone” by the recent PA grand jury report the alleged sexual abuse and subsequent coverups in Catholic dioceses in PA. This is old “news.” Unless one’s head has been buried in the sand, we have known about this the 2002 John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s report – for the entire USA (not just PA) – going back to 1950.

[8]

“It showed an increase starting around 1955, a peak around between 1975 and 1980, which then fell to pre-1955 levels in 1995. That was the scope of the abuse crisis back in 2002.”

Regarding the PA grand jury report that went back to 1948:

“The trends of the histograms match. This means the Penn. Report doesn’t reveal a *new* crisis. Instead it describes how that crisis was felt in Pennsylvania. Both datasets show that 1960-1990 (a full generation!!!) was a terrible time to be a Catholic child. And the period from 1970-1985 was worst of all.”

[9]

So I stand by my statement that all the PA report did was give us a history lesson – which they could have done just by commissioning another independent study like what was done in 2002. Why use a grand jury when 1) most of these cases were already covered in the 2002 John Jay report, and 2) they already knew they couldn’t prosecute the majority of the alleged perps or the bishops who covered for them, because most of them are either dead or well beyond the statute of limitations?

And I agree with Jefferson Smith (above): “Some of this seems to be prosecutorial grandstanding: let’s issue a report that gets big headlines but doesn’t oblige us actually to arrest people and conduct dozens of expensive trials.”

If all the PA AG wanted to do was grandstand for headlines – with no obligation to actually investigate, prosecute, vindicate victims, and protect potential future victims – then I agree with you. That grand jury report was a resounding “success.”

But if the AG in PA – who HAD to know he couldn’t prosecute cases beyond the statute of limitations – really cared about putting an end to (or at least minimizing) sexual abuse in PA, then he would focus on investing cases that CAN be prosecuted – and not just in the Catholic Church, but in all institutions, public and private, religious and secular.

And since he can only prosecute about 2 of the 301, and clearly has no interest in any institution but the Catholic Church, then I stand by my statement that this grand jury report – in terms of doing what grand juries are supposed to do – was a failure that wasted a lot of time and taxpayers’ money.

It was a good history lesson though – maybe it will even make it to the History Channel someday.

#28 Comment By Blimbax On September 11, 2018 @ 2:11 am

To VikingSL’s point, I agree, a lot of people commenting on how things are in Russia have never visited that country but still feel free to form “perceptions.” I am in Russia now and it is far, far different from the image created in the mainstream western media.

As for church going, Russians have told me that the majority of Russians who identify as Orthodox are not regular church goers. And yet from what I have seen here, in Russia, those who do attend church are not just the old people, but there are many younger persons.

Last night, in St Petersburg, I attended church. I noticed one young woman, in her early 20s probably, wearing a skirt that reached halfway to her knees but with her head covered, venerating one of the icons. She was not there with her grandmother or anyone else. She was there by herself, and while she wore modern dress – she might be a student or maybe someone who works nearby – she came to church.

An American I spoke with yesterday, here in Russia, noted that there seems to be a baby boom in Russia. Things are not good in Russia, for many people, economically, yet many of them are investing in their country by starting and growing families.

For anyone interested in Russia, I strongly urge you to come to Russia, to see for yourself how things are. You will find that the people are hospitable and open minded.

With regard to the “tomos” issue, I see that just about everyone who has commented on this thread and who is Greek or Greek-American is opposed to what Constantinople appears to be doing. So am I. For reasons I already provided, I think the Church of Greece will react differently than the Greek Church in the United States. In the case of the latter, the “elite” of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the Greek American community are very tightly woven together with the policy elite in Washington, D.C. As for the church in Greece, I’ll be there later this month and will try to find out how the situation is viewed by both clergy and laity.

Finally, even if – assuming just for the sake of argument – that there is some legitimacy to Constantinople’s claim that the Ukrainian Church is its daughter church and not Moscow’s, the timing of the apparent decision is appalling. It is pretty clear that it will cause further turmoil, and that politics – as evidenced by Poroshenko’s visit to the Phanar – is or will be a significant element in the decision. The “EP” may be painting itself into a corner by making a decision that will cause suffering and chaos. Those are consequences that ought to make one hesitate before making such decisions.

I can see that purporting to have the right to grant the tomos may be having an intoxicating impact on Constantinople, giving the Patriarch the sense that his is still a powerful position, the way it was before 1453. It must make him feel that way to receive heads of state like Poroshenko and other important patriarchs, like Kirill, and to be able to say “yes” to this person and “no” to that person.

Constantinople appears to be making a decision that will have significant consequences for itself, not only for others. It may very well end up being the last important decision Constantinople will ever make.

#29 Comment By Christopher On September 11, 2018 @ 12:34 pm

Met. Hilarion says:

“METROPOLITAN HILARION: PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW WILL BEAR PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY BEFORE THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD AND THE JUDGEMENT OF HISTORY”

Well yeah, but what does he think of the this Ukrainian situation? 😉

#30 Comment By Theodore G. Karakostas On September 11, 2018 @ 12:42 pm

To blimbax,

Thanks for making me aware of the Greek
organization honoring the anti Putin dissident.
As a Greek American I can assure I and many
other Greek Americans do not share the views
of that GROUP you speak of.

I myself consider Putin a hero and Russia
the Third rome which despite some problems
is the legitimate heir to Byzantium.

A few years ago the Archbishop of Athens
Ieronymos visited Moscow and Patriarch
Kyril gave him $600,000 raised by Russian
Churches and donated by generous Russian
faithful for the people of Greece hit by
the Economic crisis.

When I read that I was profoundly moved.
There is a long history of brotherly ties
between Greeks and Russians. In 2004,
President Putin and Russia gave much needed
support to Cyprus at the UN Security Council
when the US and Britain were trying to impose
a plan on Cyprus that would have legitimized
the Turkish occupation. Russia and its
Orthodox President vetoed the plan.

In return when Patriarch Kyril visited
Cyprus the Archbishop of Cyprus loaned to
the Patriarch the relics of Saint Lazurus
to take to Russia to display in Russian
Churches so the faithful could venerate
them. The Church of Cyprus said thank you
to the Russians in this way.

The guy you are talking about is an ignorant
fool who does not represent all Greeks or
Greek Americans.

And the Greek Archdiocese in NEW York is very
differant from the Churches of Greece and
Cyprus. I do not Live in Greece but I visit
every year and I am aware that the Church
of Greece is now coming under attack from
leftist politicians for opposing gay
marriage and transgenderism. Some of these
politicians have found themselves welcome
at the Greek Archdiocese of NY and among
some of the Greek American organizations.

One of the strangest things regarding
Constantinople’s alienation of the Russian
Church is that the Russian Church was
giving some help to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in its difficulties in Turkey
in recent years.

There is alot more that could be said
but it would be off topic.

Theodore G. Karakostas

#31 Comment By Eddy J. Toribio On September 11, 2018 @ 4:22 pm

This is nothing new, really. Schisms in the East have been part of the daily many for so many centuries, on and off, with Rome at first, and then among themselves under the influence of nationalism.

If you ask me, they should all go back to where they all came from: Union with the Roman See.

#32 Comment By Jim Jatras On September 11, 2018 @ 8:43 pm

I am pleased that other Orthodox Christians of Hellenic origin have weighed in against Constantinople’s illicit actions in Ukraine. If this tragically becomes a worldwide schism many if not most of us will side with Moscow.

To get a glimpse of how Orthodox zealots see Russia consider this video of Putin visiting Mount Athos and placed by the monks – Greeks, not Russians! – in the throne reserved for the East Roman (“Byzantine”) Emperor. You can bet no Greek politician gets this treatment – certainly not Tsipras, that godless commie sellout to the Brussels bureaucrats and Frankfurt bankers:

[10]

#33 Comment By Josep On September 12, 2018 @ 3:23 am

@JonF
People who try to portray Russia as some great triumph of social conservatism are build a fantasy not unlike the poster who predicted the Romanovs would soon sit the throne again.

Well, dang. I was really hoping to find a country where the mainstream media simply gives objective reporting instead of adding political bias, or where public schools, colleges and universities simply teach instead of indoctrinate. Does Russia fit this mold, or is this merely a pipe dream?

Re: LARPing, looks like you and EngineerScotty beat me to it.

#34 Comment By Anton from Russia On September 12, 2018 @ 4:09 am

To help you understand who now want to give autocephaly.
Ukrainian Patriarch-dissenter Filaret, was recruited by the KGB of the USSR had the pseudonym “Antonov”, he admitted it in 2012.
When Ukraine declared independence, Filaret also declared independence by creating The Ukrainian Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate. It is supported by the Ukrainian Nazis therefore were cruelly requisitioned churches in the West of Ukraine. Priests were beaten and killed.
Filaret fully supports the “new Ukrainian authorities” and the civil war in Ukraine. Filet justify the war with the words “in the East live ungodly.”
In 2015, Patriarch Filaret went to Washington and demanded the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine. I quote the Patriarch:” we need a modernized weapon ” (press conference on Capitol hill).
I do not know whether the Church is Mature in Ukraine, it is up to Constantinople to decide.
But now you know who they’re going to give autocephaly to.
And I have no doubt that as a result of granting autocephaly, religious persecution and terror of priests and believers of the Ukrainian Church of the Moscow Patriarchate will be added to the civil war.

#35 Comment By JonF On September 12, 2018 @ 6:45 am

Re: To get a glimpse of how Orthodox zealots see Russia consider this video of Putin visiting Mount Athos and placed by the monks – Greeks, not Russians! – in the throne reserved for the East Roman (“Byzantine”) Emperor.

I’m disgusted they would do that for Putin too. This is where Orthodoxy can descend into loony-tunery: it’s been centuries since there was a Byzantine emperor, 100 years since there was a tsar. Keeping faithful to eternal doctrine is one thing, but when it comes to the secular world, there are no constants. Putin, like all the rest of them, is nothing but a politician on the make and deserves no more honor in Heaven than the rest of us.

#36 Comment By JonF On September 12, 2018 @ 6:51 am

Re: And yet from what I have seen here, in Russia, those who do attend church are not just the old people, but there are many younger persons.

And that’s a good thing and I have no doubt that Orthodoxy will survive in Russia and give us new saints in the future. My point however is that Russia is not “Holy Russia”. It’s just Russia, a secular country which honors its ancestral religion, yes, though largely for ethnocultural reasons, and it is home to millions of devout people– but also to millions of sinful and debauched people and millions of indifferent secularists. In that much at least it is no different from the United States and I see no benefit in romanticizing it into something it is not. It is not some sort of “model nation” for anything.

#37 Comment By Rob G On September 12, 2018 @ 7:31 am

“If you ask me, they should all go back to where they all came from: Union with the Roman See.”

Yes, this will solve the issues immediately, because the Roman See obviously has no problems with unity!

Please. If the sex abuse scandal has demonstrated anything, it’s that having a one-man centrally-united organization is no cure-all for disunity. Ditto Orthodoxy’s conciliarism — in no sense is it a panacea. Anyone who’s throwing “Disunity!” stones at the other at this point in time simply isn’t paying attention.

As an Orthodox I obviously think that the EOC is right and the RCC wrong on this issue. But that doesn’t mean I believe that our own problems can thus be simply fluffed off as inconsequential.

#38 Comment By Fr Martin Fox On September 12, 2018 @ 7:44 am

After wading through the viscous pudding of this thread, the thought occurs to me:

There’re no schisms like Orthodox schisms…

Now I’m suddenly thinking of Ethel Merman.

#39 Comment By VikingLS On September 12, 2018 @ 6:26 pm

@TR

Thanks, but I am skeptical that they do. I am just one voice vs hundreds affirming a different narrative.

“For anyone interested in Russia, I strongly urge you to come to Russia, to see for yourself how things are. You will find that the people are hospitable and open minded.”

I agree with Blimbax.

Rod however should NOT go. Russia would be too challenging for him. He simply would not be able to handle the excellent food, the beautiful churches, and the friendly people. He should totally restrict himself to Italy and France and DEFINITELY not let me give him a few contacts on where to go, and even in Saint Petersburg, a place to stay for free. No he definitely should not do that.

And I am sure that some of the Greeks who have weighed in here could absolutely say the same thing. He absolutely should NOT visit Greece and you absolutely WON’T help him if he did make such a horrible mistake.

#40 Comment By Jim Jatras On September 12, 2018 @ 10:58 pm

@JonF

“Keeping faithful to eternal doctrine is one thing, but when it comes to the secular world, there are no constants. Putin, like all the rest of them, is nothing but a politician on the make and deserves no more honor in Heaven than the rest of us.”

It would be nice to think that Christianity can exist and thrive in a neutral political environment. There is no historical basis to believe that. Inevitably, it seems there are two paths: Discrimination, perhaps eventually persecution (hello Benedict Option); or a state that favors the Church and allows it to pursue unhindered its salvific mission, which (at least in intention) was the standard in all Christian countries, whether Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Protestant, from Theodosios until the so-called Enlightenment. Nobody pretends the latter is without problems, but I don’t recall anybody in the 4th century demanding to go back to the “good old days” under Nero and Diocletian when the Church was untainted by its friendly relationship with the state.

My view is that Putin is a sincere Christian, JonF may disagree; as far as I know, neither of us is a mind-reader. The question is whether a secular ruler supports and protects the Church or is hostile to it. I would rather have in power a sinner who for whatever cynical reason is pro-Church than a saint who in purity of heart allows Christianity to be marginalized and purged from public life. (By the way, what does it say about contemporary Russia that a politician “on the make” tries too look as pious as possible?)

I don’t know about “no more honor in Heaven than the rest of us” (though it does seem there are lot of pictures of haloed Emperors and Empresses, some of them pretty rough customers) but the question of here on earth. IMO them monks done right.

#41 Comment By VikingLS On September 12, 2018 @ 11:21 pm

“And that’s a good thing and I have no doubt that Orthodoxy will survive in Russia and give us new saints in the future. My point however is that Russia is not “Holy Russia”.”

It never was, nor has there EVER been a holy country on this Earth.

That said, it very well might be an you wouldn’t know it. You can’t speak or read Russian. You haven’t been there. It very well COULD be and you wouldn’t have the slightest idea.

#42 Comment By JonF On September 14, 2018 @ 7:38 pm

Re: You can’t speak or read Russian.

Speak, well, only a little– I have no chance to do so to better myself in it. Read? I practice it daily by reading from Russian Wikipedia.
But if think speaking another nation’s language is an absolute must for anyone to have an opinion on that nation then I invite you to visit Rod’s piece on the Chinese and Uighurs where a good many folks are talking about the business and I doubt more than a couple of us has any Chinese (I do not) and most probably no one of us speaks Uighur.

#43 Comment By JonF On September 14, 2018 @ 7:43 pm

Re: It would be nice to think that Christianity can exist and thrive in a neutral political environment.

Sigh.
It always surprises me how short people sell the Christian faith. By nature it’s orthogonal to the secular order and it also transcends the here-and-now utterly. If it didn’t it would be just one more “-ism”, one more false god beckoning us down the road to perdition.
Do try to remember that Christ said “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the World. And: “What of it? Follow me.”

#44 Comment By JonF On September 14, 2018 @ 8:00 pm

Re: My view is that Putin is a sincere Christian, JonF may disagree; as far as I know, neither of us is a mind-reader.

True. I hold no opinion on Putin’s soul. That’s way above my pay grade.

Re: I would rather have in power a sinner who for whatever cynical reason is pro-Church than a saint who in purity of heart allows Christianity to be marginalized and purged from public life.

Do you really think Christ is not adequate to that job so that we need to put our faith in princes?

Re: . IMO them monks done right.

And I find that quite revolting, a form of spiritual corruption. Putin, like all secular rulers, would do better to kneel in the snow as a penitent like Henry IV at Canossa. The very nature of gaining and holding power requires sin– necessary sin, at times, but still sin it is and that we must not honor.

#45 Comment By Fr. John Whiteford On September 16, 2018 @ 7:00 am

I haven’t seen any evidence of an historic rivalry between Greeks and Russians, prior to the Bolshevik Revolution. The history since then is laid out very well by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. [11]

And if anyone thinks that the hand of the US State Department is not at work here, they should read this: [12]

During the Cold War, ROCOR received some of its funding from the CIA. When ROCOR was in the process of reconciling with the Moscow Patriarchate, the US government actively worked against it. We even had the former US ambassador to Ukraine, John Herbst, campaigning against it from within ROCOR (he was a member of the diocese we then had under Agafangel, who since went into schism). I would be very surprised if the Phanar was not getting money from the US governement. Overt connections are well known: [12] We have even seen the likes of John McCain supporting the schismatics in the Ukraine. Of course the US government couldn’t care less about the spiritual welfare of the Orthodox Church. They simply wish to stick it Russia, by any means at their disposal.