Monday, April 29, 2013

New persecution in Udmurtia

New persecution in Udmurtia of anti-MP Orthodox

OTranslated by Vladimir Djambov:

The Holy Protection (Pokrov-sky) parish, of the Pal’niki village, Zavyalovsky District, Udmurt Republic, RF, filed a motion on April 27 to join our Church, [ROCA]. The Moscow Patriarchia found out about it that same day and then they  started a full-scale blackmailing of these people who have joined us. 

Today the village was visited by representatives of the law-enforcement authorities. And high-ranking officials of the Udmurt Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchia  threatened  three of our fathers [batyushki] – Fathers Sergius Kondakov, Michail Karpeev and Alexander Malyh, declaring them as the guilty ones who are responsible for this, for what has happened, by  arranging  Pascha services [for them]. They dislike the fact that our Church is strengthening and expanding. 

We ask [your] holy prayers for the persecuted Christians in the Russian Federation. 

Reading and Praying Sacred Texts

(English translation and Russian original) -About Reading and Praying Sacred Texts

Subject: A text for you
From: djambovv
To: oregdan

this is a text from my namesake in Moscow...

My present for you
Vladimir Djambov, Eng
00359.885.455.189 - M/cell
00359.2.855.62.62 - H
En <> Bg translation, interpreting

5 мар, 2013 at 3:00 AM
[Orthodox] Reading.    
March 5th, 2013 at 3:00 AM
I do not know why and how this takes place, but it often happens like this: I’m just beginning to read something from the services – be it compline or kathismas, or Vespers, or hours, or prayers; even when not reading out loud: there comes a feeling of a certain meta-satiety, which brings in an inexplicable reasonable satisfaction, and often – it’s like some kind of strong thirst quencher. The latter is more often even; the feeling is as if I literally drink living water. Namely, this is clean tasty water, it is transparent with its immaculacy and bodilessness and it so saturates, satisfies, and it makes (all so) beneficial. A pleasure beyond comparison: it seems in this way I would drink and drink [non-stop]... Even if this feels a little bit, as if, latent, almost imperceptible, insignificant on the outside.
There is nothing better than when you read, belonging to yourself, not urged on by needs, obligations, as someone has the need rather than [doing so for] yourself – to read by all means, necessarily, that is, only and only to read – and to read with a sense of turning onto God, so that those words – that eternal canon – amazing and beautiful, colorful, strong, overfilled with the spiritual – would proceeded from yourself, to tear out [of] your soul, and not from the text, not even from a respected and revered saint, who made the prayer and the canon. The stronger that feeling, the more it gets to feel one’s own, and the more one wants to express it, to tell Christ God what feels so important, what is so highly desirable; because that very thing is needed, at that, it is one’s own, only – it’s better [to voice] one’s own than were it told out of ignorance. So I fail to understand: how can one read mechanically, “by coercion”, without heart – well, is that reading? – it’s as if to compare a bath-tub with good bathing: i.e., to wash away only the dust from atop, and not to cleanse your whole self, to not be purified, to not experience true bliss. And there’s no other way to have the sweat break out [pouring] (as at times it happens at true prayer). Can this be like a cheap ersatz [substitute], immoderately “modest” [one]? After all, a reader who stands in front of the Lord, he is not reading for oneself, not because of a certain vain rule, not out of his own necessity, which in essence [ultimately] he needs not... Therefore one needs to read so that there be a feeling that it immediately reaches the Lord, that Christ doth hear – He is in front of me, His image [is], and He Himself is in His image, and He doth listen to me. And so, knowing this, how can one read without heart, without thinking over each and every word? – There is, of course, a weakness of the soul when one cannot be absolutely focused on all reading rules and it is called distraction, but it is no principle of reading. This is my wrongness, rather than a norm – we must bring this to mind more often. – [And] Why not say so to myself, even while praying, what it is that stands in the way?
And this is exactly why – knowing all this – it is impossible to live differently – at that, [where] one would aspire after something completely different than this. To chant [through] the words – your own human words, and the meta-material words about your unshakable non-removable joy – whenever such is present. But otherwise, what is one to create the hidden prayer with, admiring the Light of the knowledge of the Truth, Its sweetness [of the Truth]. Otherwise, what is there to labor in it exclusively (strictly). Here, it turns out otherwise [something else].
And not only this – as [if] you drink living water, having fallen to the source of the ever Live... When you read the previous brief prayer, and then move on to a longer unfamiliar text – it is like you are [indeed] overcoming great spaces. They are so majestic and mysterious, but also heavy, and often vague [bleary OR confused, -ing], therefore if you imagine everything already read can be comparable either to new countries, or to some unknown spaces, with distinct, at that [ones that are] dissimilar to earth [spaces] in man’s view. Even a single phrase, sentence by the Saint who has in the Spirit of God seen something specific, already speaks [so], shows this. “Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered...” [Ps 18:15] – and the spirit stops still from the endlessness of the spatial perception of [in?] what is seen. The abyss unbinds, – and yet a phrase alone is enough, even a part of it! – that's how great the power of God is, [how great] His greatness is, that even in such a trifle, it would seem, it is possible to estimate a certain degree of the spiritual. A particle of the infinite Truth in yourself – to absorb it, to take [along] with you, to comprehend and to not lose it; that particle will now always be [there]. It would seems this is so small, just a few words. Nevertheless, here there is nothing small; there is nothing insignificant in the spiritual, and this is confirmed by an example: if you can see the basic in such a fraction [grain], [then] how can it be something small [that is not great, big]? And once in such a particle, formally comparable as quantity with the rest of the text of this Psalm only, you can see the abyss, then what else may be learned from the rest, if you try to read it thoughtfully!
However, later, when you move to your regular prayer rule, and seeing the familiar prayers you [come to] think, “well, this here are familiar places, those paths which I have often walked”  – as if you chanced [to be] on your own street, and even as if you’ve come home. Therefore, prayerful reading also reminds both a path (walking after God) and a rest [simultaneous], with a satiation of psycho-spiritual thirst, and of the mind with super-essence [daily – in Russian наД-сущний vs. на-сущний] bread. This ис алсо а pilgrimage, and just like physical pilgrimage it is clearly needed.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
WHAT IS HELL? – A place where everyone is alone, at that – alone forever.
But the most important thing is there is no God with him.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Не знаю почему и как это происходит, но часто бывает так: только начинаю читать что-то из службы, - повечерие это или кафисмы, или всенощная, или часы, или молитвы; даже если и не вслух: возникает ощущение некого мета насыщения , приносящего неизъяснимое разумное удовлетворение, а чаще, словно - утоления сильной жажды. Последнее даже более часто; чувство такое словно воду живую пью. Словно-бы это чистая вкусная вода, она и прозрачна своей непорочностью и безплотностью и так насыщает, удовлетворяет, облаготворяет. Ни с чем несравнимое наслаждение: кажется, так пил бы и пил... Даже если это и ощущается чуть-чуть, как-бы подспудно, почти незаметно, внешне незначительно. 
Нет ничего лучше чем если читать, принадлежа себе, не понукаемый нуждой, обязанностью так, как кому-то нужно, а не самому себе, - читать непременно, обязательно, т.е. лишь только бы читать, - и читать с чувством обращённым к Богу, чтобы эти слова - того вечного канона - удивительные и красивые, красочные, сильные, преисполненные духовного исходили от самого себя, из своей души исторгались, а не из текста, не даже от уважаемого, и почитаемого святого, сотворившего молитву и канон. И чем сильнее это чувство, тем более оно становится своим, и тем более его хочется высказать, рассказать Христу-Богу то что так важно так хочется, ведь оно нужно это самое, п.ч. оно и есть своё, только - своё лучше, чем если по незнанию было-бы сказано. Поэтому мне непонятно: как можно читать механически, "из под палки", без души, - это разве чтение? - всё равно как если ванну сравнить с хорошей баней: так, только пыль сверху смыть, а не омыться всему, не очиститься, блаженства истинного не испытать. А иначе не получится так, чтобы пот прошиб (как порой на молитве получается настоящей). Разве это напоминает заменитель дешёвый, неумеренно "скромный"? Ведь чтец предстоящий перед Господом, он-же не для себя читает, не для некого пустого правила, не для своей только необходимости, которая ему, по-настоящему, не нужна... Поэтому надо читать так, чтобы было чувство, что это идёт сразу к Господу, что Христос слышит - Он передо мной, Его образ, и в Его образ Он Сам, и Он слушает меня. Так зная это как можно читать без сердца, без вдумывания в каждое слово? - Есть, конечно, слабость душевная, когда нельзя быть абсолютно сосредоточенным во всём правиле чтения, что называется рассеянностью, но она не есть принцип чтения. Это неправота моя, а не норма, - надо это помнить почаще. - Почему-же не сказать об этом себе, даже во время молитвы, что мешает?
Вот потому-то невозможно, зная это всё, жить иначе, - п.ч. хочется совершенно другого нежели такое. Пропеть словами своими человечьими, и мета-материальными о радости своей незыблемой неудаляемой когда есть она. Но иначе, чем сокровенную молитву сотворить любуясь Светом познания Истины, сладостью Её. Иначе чем трудясь в ней исключительно (сугубо). Здесь как-то иначе получается. 
И не только так - как живую воду пьёшь, припав к источнику присно Живого... Когда читаешь прежние краткие молитвы, а затем переходишь к более длинному незнакомому тексту то словно большие пространства преодолеваешь. Они настолько величественны и тайны, но и тяжелы, и часто смутны, поэтому если представить всё уже читанное могут быть сравнимы или с новыми странами, или некими неизвестными пространствами, при этом несхожими с земными в человеческом представлении. Даже одна фраза, изречение святого праведного в Духе Божьем увидевшего что-то определённое уже говорит, показывая это. "И явишися источницы воднии, и открышася основания вселенныя..." - и дух замирает от безконечности пространственного восприятия увиденного. Бездна разверзается, - а ведь достаточно одной только фразы, даже части её! - вот какова сила Божья, и Его величие, что даже в такой казалось-бы малости возможно оценить некую степень духовного. Частицу Истины безконечной в Себе - впитать, забрать с собой, восприять и не потерять, она, эта частица будет теперь всегда. Кажется что это так мало, всего несколько слов. Но малого-то как раз здесь и нет; нет ничего незначительного в духовном, и это подтверждает пример; если в такой крупице можно увидеть основное, то как она может быть чем-то небольшим? И если даже в такой частице, количественно формально сравнимой с остальным текстом только этого псалма, можно увидеть бездну то чего-же можно узнать в остальном, если попытаться прочитать вдумчиво его!  
Однако, позже, переходя к своему постоянным молитвенному правилу, и видя привычные молитвы думаешь: "а здесь уже знакомые места, те пути, где я ходил часто" - словно на свою улицу попал, и даже как если домой пришёл. Поэтому молитвенное чтение напоминает и путь, (хождение по Богу) и отдых одновременный, с насыщением жажды душевно-духовной, и ума хлебом над-сущным. Это странничество также, оно как и физическое странничество явно необходимо.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Boston Marathon bomber's mosque

But...their Moslem religion played no part in their rampaging and murdering !

 Comment: BUT...these two murdering Islamic terrorists,were Moslems, a 'religion of peace and mercy and beauty'.

And the assertion that their dark and vile religion, (which has been murdering Christians since Muhammad), played no part in inspiring such a vicious bloody attack on our fellow innocent Americans, in Boston... or elsewhere. (?)

Isn't it long overdue, to declare Islam as nothing but pure anti-American terrorism, and remove them from our constitutional protection, as a valid 'religion' and forcibly remove them all from our country?

I think so, and so do many fellow Americans.

And, the US should stop all foreign and military aid, to all Moslem majority countries, RIGHT NOW!
Islam is no friend of ours.

Fox News
slide show and article:
Boston Marathon bomber's mosque long a lightning rod for criticism

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How present day Russians view Lenin 

How present day Russians view Lenin 

Comment: Well...if one can fully trust any poll (?)..whose results depend a lot on how the questions are phrased, who & how many exactly are questioned, and also what expected results are wanted by the (unbiased?) pollsters.

And this is true of any country.

However, if this poll is even close to correct, how very very sad that so many in Russia do not seem to be aware that the leaders of the shameful bloody Bolshevik revolution, were among the worst monsters in all of human history, Lenin and Stalin, the worst of the worst world-wide.

Clearly, they have been kept in deliberate contrived ignorance and brain washed by all those years of the soviet system, and now too by  Putin's corrupt and KGB gangster neo-soviet  rule, and it's false patriotism.

One can only imagine, and shudder, what must be  currently being taught in Russian Federation schools and universities, about the nation's history.

One astute Russian scholarly critic said of his own country: "Russia is the only country in the world, with  an indefinite history" (i.e. one that changes to fit current deceitful political propaganda).

Pride, is a main component of this studied ignorance..i.e. the inability of too many living Russians to admit the past's sins, i.e. of their grandparents and parents and of themselves,  and to repent of them,... of the national sins.

Thus, they are in danger of repeating the past's mistakes.

Putin's regime is thus doing exactly this, trying to return Russia to it's inglorioius soviet days.
But, have no fear,(?)... they have the Moscow Patriarchia to keep them on a sound Christian moral footing! (?)...all guided by it's specially trained KGB-Clergy actors, dressed as Orthodox hishops and priests, and to teach them right from wrong, -what is of God and is good, and what is of the Devil, and is evil . they?

Regardless, God is not  mocked.

Rd. Daniel... just wondering

The Moscow Times
Russians Relate 'Moderately' to Lenin's Legacy, Poll Says
22 April 2013 | Issue 5115
The Moscow Times
     Most Russians have a reserved attitude toward Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, and do not support renaming St. Petersburg to Leningrad in his honor, a public opinion poll showed Monday.
     The poll, conducted by the Levada Center on the eve of the 143rd anniversary of Lenin's birth, revealed that 31 percent of respondents believe Lenin will be remembered only by historians within 40-50 years, Interfax reported.
     The number of people who share this view fell 8 percentage points from two years ago, however, and by 14 percentage points since 2007.
     Twenty-eight percent of respondents said Lenin will still be remembered as a founder of the Soviet nation even in half a century, while 17 percent consider him a remarkable leader who fought for workers' interests and 13 percent say he was a great thinker who foresaw the future.
     These categories have not seen much change since 1995, the Levada Center said, though the number of those who admire Lenin for his practical achievements in politics fell from 19 percent to 9 percent.
     Those who see the Bolshevik leader as a successful, trigger-happy politician constituted 7 percent in the latest poll, against 12 percent in 1995.
     Five percent said he will go down in history as a brutal dictator, compared with 12 percent 18 years ago.
     The Levada Center noted that a positive attitude toward Lenin is popular among respondents over 40 years of age.
     Meanwhile, respondents between 25-40 years of age tended to give the most moderate assessment of Lenin's significance, while younger respondents demonstrated a generally positive but less informed opinion.

The Moscow Times

Sunday, April 21, 2013

OCA & it's problems

about the Moscow-dependent OCA & it's problems 

Comment: Why read all this?

Well, because in short, it gives some glimpses into what all is going on inside Worldly-Orthodoxy, here in America... and what is happening to those churches which have linked themselves to Sergianist and Ecumenist Apostates, as those who run the KGB-MP organization, etc.... and more and more so, the historic Patriarchates.

Because, this man's observations give many insights into the on-going inner workings and severe problems of the 'OCA', a historical successor to the old Russian North American Metroplia, though in unlawful schism from our Exile Synod, since about 1923-24, and then in 1970-71, it foolishly submitted to the authority of the KGB front, called, the 'Moscow Patriarchia', masquerading as, THE  Russian Church, etc.

Not everyone who reads this critical analysis, by a loyal though very disgruntled OCA layman, George Michalopoulos, will understand all that he is alleges, as the inner workings of his OCA have become murkier and more confusing, year by year. (& I must add, less and less according to Orthodox norms!)

Poor George!... he is one among the many naive American OCA members, who believes that 'Pat. Kyrill'-Gundaev is legitimate, and that the MP is also, and that the OCA should listen MORE to their motherly advice, etc.

Also, he foolishly/blindly adores his recently deposed Met. Jonah-Paffhausen, seeing him as some sort of martyric persecuted saintly bishop,... when the full simple truth about the poor inept man is more that, he was very incompetent to run his church,  though he meant well, and too much an MP tool. He needed to go.

But, George sees nothing wrong in him.

However, if one reads carefully what all George states, he is rather surprisingly conservative in some  aspects of his Orthodox vision, including for the fact that he is unhappy with his church's over-involvement with the NCC, The National Council of Churches (ecumenism), which he blames mostly on Syosset power-broker Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky, a life-long leftist, pro-MP, pro-Roman Catholic, and very pro-ecumenist man, though of (Great) Russian decent, born in Los Angeles, and mentored by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, at St. Vlads Seminary. this, for those who may be interested in this subject.

Rd. Daniel

From OCA laymen, George Michalopoulos's Monomackhos blog:

How Did We Get Here? Part I: Syosset and the Dearth of Vision

Clearly very little has gone right for the OCA over the last nine months. Even those who take a Pollyanna attitude have found it difficult to state otherwise. Crying over spilt milk is useless at this juncture, nevertheless it is necessary to ask how we got here. And ask we must for barring public repentance, there is no way that the continued, slow-motion implosion of the OCA will reverse itself.  Some of course claim that the autocephaly of the OCA is to blame. That is to say that its many overseas critics are correct, that the Metropolia did not have the spiritual maturity and clerical depth to accept the heavy burden of autocephaly. Perhaps this criticism, stinging though it may be, deserves some introspection.
In any event, the OCA was not without its signal accomplishments. The successful anglification of the Liturgy, three seminaries, and mission-planting grants are testaments to a robust evangelism. The explosion of Orthodoxy in the Diocese of the South (a region with virtually no Eastern European Orthodox immigration) likewise could not have happened without the shackles of overseas authority stricken from the legs of the Metropolia.

In addition the emphasis on diocesan involvement in the selection of bishops as well as the election of Primates at All-American councils — with vivid, real-time input from clerical and lay delegates — is to be jealously guarded at all costs. An authentic, unified, American Orthodoxy would be the poorer if it abandoned any and all of the above.

So where did we go wrong? In the opinion of this writer, the reasons are many. We shall examine them in a three-part series. As always, the input of our readers and correspondents will be welcome.

Buzzword Bingo
In American corporate culture, there has been a heavy emphasis on “human resources” over the last few decades. In order to motivate workers, the stated emphasis is usually on some nebulous concept like “quality” or “empowerment” or “togetherness” rather than crass concepts such as profitability and productivity. Conferences, memoranda, emails, and what-not are trotted out at various intervals to this effect.

After a certain time though a certain, subconscious lethargy creeps in. Sometimes employees mumble among themselves when they realize the paucity of the latest “message.” At boring conferences some even play a game which they cynically call “Buzzword Bingo,” in which they secretly write certain key phrases down and then cry “bingo!” when the motivational speaker du jour recites them. In the OCA, Corporate HQ (Syosset) and its propaganda arm (OCANews) had two such words which they treated as nothing less than sacred revelation: Accountability and Transparency. These were the be-all and end-all of the ecclesial governance model as far as Syosset was concerned.

Though OCANews had to fold up its tent when it became obvious to all but the most obtuse that its purveyor made the news as well as “reported” it, the modern, corporatist paradigm that it championed is still very much in play in the OCA. This is not to say that there was anything wrong per se with greater accountability and transparency, nor the vigilance required to abide by legal and financial norms as found in the secular world, it’s merely to say the sincerity behind them was lacking.

Their uses were selectively applied. For example Metropolitan Jonah could be castigated for “acting unilaterally” but Archbishop Benjamin could embroil himself in the middle of a political firestorm in Alaska without any consequence. As noted by Monomakhos and others, the conflict of interest presented by Mark Stokoe, who not only operated OCANews but served several terms on the Metropolitan Council, should have raised red flags from the outset. That it did not showed either a stunning level of deceit on the part of Syosset or an astounding level of ignorance.

For our part, we believe that deceit was the modus operandi when it came to Mr Stokoe and his handlers in the Syosset Apparat. This allegation is dramatic but it is not baseless. For proof we can cite a leaked email generated by Mr Stokoe in which he essentially gave marching orders to an anti-Jonah cabal comprised of bishops, priests, a deacon, lawyers, and lay members of the Metropolitan Council as to how best to get rid of the legitimate Primate. This email was leaked on the Indiana Forum and picked up by Monomakhos a little over two years ago. It speaks for itself.

For Syosset “Accountability and Transparency” Never Applies
Like most clichés, “Accountability and Transparency” were used as a sword and shield in the crusade of a militant cadre to modernize the OCA by bringing it into more conformity with American corporate standards. In reality however, this was never really the case. They were used instead as cudgels against those who stood in the way of the Syosset and its continuing centralization scheme, to say nothing of its headlong accommodation to NCC-type theological liberalism.

To achieve this end, any means were used. But first Metropolitan Jonah had to be removed at all costs. Though he and his partisans presented a tenacious resistance, in the end no measure was spared in order to get rid of him. The success of this modernist/ecumenist cabal however was a Pyrrhic one and the OCA has been and will continue to be tarnished for years to come.

That is where we are at present. The question for our purposes at this juncture is how does the Apparat which really governs the OCA continue to function especially in light of its egregious, uncanonical, and possibly criminal actions?

Quite simply by not abiding by their stated principles. The Syosset Apparat has long been severely at odds with Orthodox ecclesiology, however their abidance by a more open, Americanist ethos was never seriously executed. By adhering to these principles it could have salvaged some credibility and perchance acquired some moral credibility vis-à-vis the other Patriarchates.

Instead it was wedded to an institutional mindset, one which precluded this possibility, hence its current morass. Instead of Accountability and Transparency, its autocephalist pretensions allowed Syosset to govern by means of Secrecy and Opacity. The irony is delicious. Yet no other phrase encapsulates the operating system of the OCA.

The various governing bodies of the OCA are anything but transparent. As for accountability, your guess is as good as mine. The Metropolitan Council for example releases only heavily redacted minutes and it goes into “Executive Session” at the drop of a hat. (A year ago, I’d asked for an organizational flow-chart for the OCA but such a Rube Goldbergian scheme would have taxed the artistic talents of a Jackson Pollock.)

Regardless, what’s at stake here is not real transparency but the desire to hoodwink the faithful so that they don’t ask too many question but continue to pray, pay, and obey; at least until the senior-most Protosbyterians are able to retire with their pensions.

Unfortunately as can be seen by the declining census figures and the remittances to Syosset, whatever it is that Syosset has been doing, hasn’t been working.

The Tipping Point?
So where are we as a Church? Where to start? The OCA has so betrayed its mission that our autocephaly (as it is currently practiced) will eventually be a moot point. None of the other jurisdictions want any part of us. As it was, it was only because of adroit maneuvers on Jonah’s part that we were even allowed membership in the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the first place.

In any event, we must start somewhere, so why not at Syosset? Here we must ask: where are we as an administration? One which has fiduciary responsibilities to take care of the needs of its retired bishops and clergy? Do the functionaries there think in the long-term? It is this writer’s contention that they do not. Exhibit A would be the tremendous number of retired bishops in our jurisdiction.

As is known, His Grace Matthias Moriak retired as Bishop of the Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest. As noted earlier on this blog, the OCA has five of its nine territorial dioceses vacant. Two of these diocese (Alaska, Ottawa) provide no material support to Syosset so it’s something of a wash in this regard. Two others however (Chicago and Dallas) are the biggest givers to Syosset. Philadelphia is rather moribund and has been for quite awhile. Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia present a long term financial concern. All told however, the five vacancies present a more grievous morale problem for the OCA in its self-identification as the local, indigenous American Church.

The OCA presently has ten active bishops and ten retired ones. Leaving aside the stresses such a ratio could make on the pension for the OCA, what does it say about the fact that the ratio of retired to active is one to one? Is this not a failure of character, or foresight? Compare this situation to Social Security. When this program was started some seventy years ago, it had roughly 60 workers paying the pensions of every one retiree (there was never an actual bank of paid-in funds but merely a “trust fund” loaded with IOUs.) We know how America got to this present scenario, the decreasing number of births and the lengthening of life together caused the present one-to-one equilibrium to be reached.

But how did we arrive at this point in the OCA? Were all of these bishops senile and/or otherwise incapacitated by age and needed to be retired or are these men compromised in some way? If so, then what does it say about the OCA that it elevated them to the episcopate in the first place? As for those that the OCA did not elevate but took in from other jurisdictions, are we to assume that they left one step ahead of the sheriff? Does it not make sense that a few of these bishops (the younger ones at least) could be placed in some of these vacant dioceses? If not, why not?

Barring some scandal, we’ll never know of course what with Syosset being as tight-lipped as it is (except when it comes to Jonah whom it libeled and defamed*). Rather than a studied rectitude being the guiding principle behind such discretion we should chalk it up to an inability to admit mistakes. This is one sign of unrepentance. Even more problematic from an ecclesial standpoint is that the Apparat showed that it would do whatever it felt was necessary to get rid of somebody they considered to be an irritant. Legality, canonicity, and even common decency could and would be shunted aside in order to get the job done.

(*Google Metropolitan Jonah to see the extent of the damage Syosset inflicted.)
Given the above exigencies, it is hard to see how the OCA has not reached the tipping point, one whose trajectory unfortunately is downward —the tipping point being the acme in this case, not the nadir. As to the cadre of retired bishops are we to realistically assume that all were corrupt and needed to be retired? If this is the case then why weren’t they defrocked? Would this have not removed several financial burdens from Syosset?

The answer may very well be that they couldn’t defrock them, not only because some of these men were innocent but because in doing so, nothing would prevent them from seeking legal redress. Then again it should not be forgotten that some of the men who still sit on the Synod are themselves not without a skeleton or two in their closet.

This results in a tenuous Mexican Standoff between the active bishops and the retired ones. In other words, it is better to let a man die with the episcopal dignity (even if he is guilty of some moral transgression) rather than expose those who remain to scandal and quite probably, legal repurcussions.

How Did We Get Here?
Your guess is as good as mine. The best analysis is that the OCA’s administrative organs have succumbed to an institutionalism-at-all-costs ethos. Add in a dash of arrogance and triumphalism, a disdain for monasticism and patriarchal governance, and we arrive at the present, decrepit state. This present reality has been operational for quite awhile. Jonah’s primacy was merely an interregnum of sorts. His tenure attempted to create on the American landscape the traditional Orthodox ideal of monasticism, patriarchal energy, and sovereign dioceses. He failed of course and the Strong Chancellor form of governance that obtained before Jonah has arisen from the ashes yet again.

The only difference between the previous pre-Jonahite corporatist administration and the present one is that whereas in the past the OCA paid lip service to Orthodox ecclesiology, that mask has been removed from the theological and social liberals who presently govern our Church.

To justify their actions they have denigrated asceticism by shouting the terrifying words “Jerry Sandusky!” in order to hide their malfeasance. Hence the need for Sex Czars, Clergy Cops, legal (if inept) directives, Continuing Education for priests who can barely afford to feed their families, video conferences with neat graphics, and a cult of personality centered around the present Chancellor. Bishops are in reality nothing more than mid-level regional managers now. And given the files which are kept on them, they can be kept in line fairly easily.

Of course there are other contingencies which shackle the OCA. As mentioned earlier in this essay, the OCA was not without its successes. Nevertheless, the OCA could never overcome the bane of all Orthodox jurisdictions and that is that when all is said and done, it is still an ethnocentric jurisdiction which is heavily concentrated on the East Coast. Despite all protestations to the contrary this is the reality.

For proof one need only look at the continued existence of the Metropolitan Council. Such a body made sense when the Metropolia was a largely immigrant-based archdiocese of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Metropolitan was the only “real” bishop who was assisted by several auxiliaries. That is no longer the case and hasn’t been for forty years now. As to lay participation in the selection of the Metropolitan, that is belied by the facts on the ground. In three of the last four elections, the overwhelming choice of the delegates at the All-American Councils was overturned by the Synod. The historical trend regarding lay influence therefore is not positive. And of course there is the pseudo-conciliarist form of synodal governance which may prove to be the undong of the OCA.

An example of this is the continued existence of the ethnic dioceses. As is known, the OCA has fourteen dioceses. Eleven are territorial and three are ethnic (Albanian, Bulgarian, and Romanian). Though their existence was based on a felt need at one time, their continuance feeds the false idol of pseudo-conciliarity.

To be sure, their existence within the OCA was an artifact of the Cold War and Syosset did the right thing in granting them ecclesial cover. And of course it must be assumed that the treaties that were enacted between them and the OCA were executed in good faith, but the fact that these treaties were never revisited after the fall of the Soviet Union has led to some deleterious effects.

We are talking especially here about the “escape clauses” that each of these three eparchies have, ones which allow them to have only one foot firmly planted in the OCA. Regardless, these semi-autonomous dioceses with their escape clauses give the lie to the Americanist program of the OCA.

More to the point, they have caused serious harm to the OCA as an ecclesial polity in the interim.

Neither Fish nor Fowl
As stated above, the existence of permanent ethnic dioceses undermines the very vision of the OCA as the vehicle for a genuine American Orthodoxy. The dearth of vision in this area is astounding. Consider: where else could these jurisdictions have gone for canonical protection? Their patriarchal churches were under Soviet control. Constantinople did not appear to be an option for whatever reason. Serbia had its hands full with ROCOR.

In any event, Syosset never sought to reexamine the original treaties that brought in these ethnic dioceses. It could have demanded that as a condition for inclusion into the OCA that after a set period of time the various parishes would merge with the territorial dioceses in which they were resident. In addition it could have asked that the ethnic dioceses contribute to Syosset in levels commensurate with the territorial dioceses.

Of the three ethnic dioceses, the Albanian and the Bulgarian remit only negligible amounts to Syosset. The Romanians give somewhat more (approx. $22,000 in 2012) but even this amount pales in comparison to the six figures that San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago, and the others give. To put this in perspective, consider this: the territorial dioceses give at least ten times what the Romanians give. When viewed on a percentage basis, Dallas gave 38 percent of its income in 2012 whereas New York/New Jersey gave an astounding 88 percent. This hardly seems fair because in number of parishes alone, the Romanians outnumbers the Diocese of the South.

As to the governance of the Church, the Albanians and Bulgarians send delegates to the Metropolitan Council, however the Romanians do not. Yet Archbishop Nathanael Popp (its hierarch) sits at the place of honor in all Metropolitan Council meetings as the most senior bishop and was actually locum tenens for the OCA during the coup against Jonah. In addition, he sits on the Lesser Synod which sets the agenda for the Holy Synod.

Moreover, his disciplinary actions within his diocese have not been subject to scrutiny as can be seen by the suspension of Fr Vasile Susan, a man who brought credible allegations of immorality against a fellow priest within that jurisdiction. Rather than have his day in court, Fr Susan continues to languish in the limbo of suspension, going on eight years now.

This same hierarch has been able to leverage his influence in decidedly advantageous ways over the years. Several years ago for example, he entered into clandestine negotiations with Bucharest in order to unite with Romania’s patriarchal jurisdiction in North America —with himself as its Primate. Although this proposal ultimately fell on deaf ears in Bucharest, he suffered no consequences vis-à-vis Syosset. This is curious to say the least. One wonders what would happen to a Bishop Michael Dahulich (for example) should he desire to unite his diocese with the American Carpatho-Russian Diocese of America (ACROD, an ethnic exarchate of Constantinople)?

The ironies do not stop there however. As far as the Synod as a whole is concerned, Nathanael is quite possibly the most stalwart when it comes to publicly defending the autocephaly of the OCA. Indeed, a good argument can be made that the present, chilly relations that exist between Moscow and the OCA can be placed squarely at his doorstep as it was he who wrote pointed letters to the Patriarch of Russia, informing him that he had no business getting involved in the OCA’s internal affairs.

This of course is a political misstep of the first magnitude given that it is Moscow which at the end of the day is the OCA’s lone supporter. Regardless of its merits as an argument, it was still a rash thing to do. And given the fact that in his earlier negotiations with the Romanian Orthodox Church he was willing to place himself under Bucharest, quite ironic indeed.

This cannot be stressed enough. Although Moscow is presently committed to the tomos of autocephaly that created the OCA, there are limits to its patience with its daughter church. We saw some of these recently with the enthronement of Jonah’s usurper, which was poorly attended.

More ominously, we see it with the resurgence of ROCOR in North America, which as a semi-autonomous eparchy of Russia, is not bound by the tomos of 1970 which restricts Moscow to only thirty then-existent parishes and no more. It would be foolish therefore for Syosset to rebuke Moscow simply on the say-so of a bishop who has only one foot in the OCA. (And that foot only tenuously planted at that.) One has to wonder whether the Department of External Relations is up to the task.

Some have called this type of ethnic particularism “separate but equal.” Instead a better description of this situation is one in which one bishop is “more equal than the others.” The temptation for mischief is irresistible in such circumstances. In the final analysis, such intramural high-handedness will not redound to the benefit of the OCA but will instead help further its continued demolition.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Skeptical words about RocorMP Independence

Some skeptical words from an OCA member, about the 'Independent' ROCOR (MP), etc.

CATEGORY: Not everyone has been fooled!... "independence'.... from.... the Moscow MP???

Shared by a retired OCA archpriest:

Comment: This is part of an interesting  internet conversation between an OCA church member, and ROCOR/MP Fr. Alexander Lebedeff, on the subject of the (supposed) 'independence'  of the OCA and ROCOR (MP), - both of them, from ........ their MP mother church, etc.

This long time OCA church member, seems skeptical of Fr. Alexander's claim......

From: "j.mceachen" 
Sent: Saturday, April 20, 2013 9:451

"ME" is: Vanyabanya is Nick Skovran, I think now in Florida but from the Ansonia 3Saints OCA parish, in Ansonia, Connecticut.
--- In Orthodox-Forum, Alexander Lebedeff <lebedeff@...> wrote:
Claiming that the ROCOR/MP is 'independent':
vanyabanya wrote:
ME: The above [Fr. Alexander Lebedeff's claim], belongs in Grimm's book of fairy tales. ROCOR is as  "independent" ( from the Moscow MP, as the Antiochian [American], diocese, (is from Antioch) (!)
Response: Fr. .Alexander Lebedeff::...."That is nonsense."

ME: I'm not in the least surprised that Fr. Alexander had his answer to my post on hand. It was probably considered [given to him] by someone either in ROCOR(MP)  or the MP--or both--long ago (probably before the "miraculous reconciliation".... in June, 2007) in anticipation of a potential complaint by a strong OCA but unfortunately the OCA has gone through some rough times lately and in its weakened position, it is not in a position to complain to anyone.

Thus, I made my point and I stand by it. I will not attempt to convince Fr. Alexander Lebedeff,
Just not possible.  Any other interpretation other than that submitted by Fr. A would mean that the ROCOR and the MP would be severely limited in their goals re the opening of new parishes in the USA. [due to conficting canons, i.e., whose canonical territory does it belong to, the Autocephalous OCA, or the Autonomous ROCOR-MP???etc.],Well, I suppose they could just decide to throw away the Tomos of autocephaly( the OCA's 1970's tomos from the MP), which seems to stick in the craw of the MP --and ROCOR(MP).--and of course, to the EP as well as the other foreign powers [read, the other Patriarchates],that want their share of the American market.

As I remember it, the [EP New Calendar-,] GOA, Greek Orthodox Church of Amertca, also had statutes and other niceties that they thought protected them from the EP [Pat. Bartholomew], but which didn't help them in the least. The Antiochians in America, even proudly trumpeted that they were the 'self governing Archdiocese' or something like that, until the powers that be, in that far away place decided to
pull the plug.

We'll just have to wait and see about the "independent" ROCOR(.MP).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

SIR Bishop Ambrose Interview

A very revealing interview with SIR Bishop Ambrose (Baird) 'of Methone'-

NOTE: The interviewer's questions are in red, the bishop's responces are in black:

The following article, an interview with His Grace, Bishop Ambrose, Director of Missions for the Holy Synod
in Resistance, appeared in the religious periodical,
Vatican Insider. Published under the aegis of the Italian daily
La Stampa

, its editors include such well-known American Roman Catholics as Mary Ann Glendon, the Harvard
Law Professor and President of the Pontifical Institute of Social Sciences, and the philosopher and theologian
Michael Novak. The article thus serves to bring our Synod’s witness and theological positions to the attention of
a wider American and international audience. It was published on April 8, 2013, under the title “Ortodossia e
Modernità.” The article and interview, conducted in Italian, can also be found on the periodical’s website in
Spanish and English.We present here the somewhat stilted online English version, apparently based at least partly
on a machine translation of the Italian original,
* with slight revisions, approved by Bishop Ambrose, and sundry
informational addenda. The text is otherwise faithful to the
Vatican Insider’s version.
Orthodoxy and Modernity
Raffaele Guerra
(for Vatican Insider)
On January 27, in the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Canberra, Bishop Ambrose (Baird)
accepted official appointment as Bishop for those Serbian faithful of Australia and New Zealand
who have been united, since 1961, under the aegis of the Free Serbian Orthodox Church. Bishop
Ambrose is a member of the Holy Synod in Resistance of the Old Calendar Orthodox Church,
serving in the Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle. It is the most dynamic, open, and moderate body
among the traditionalist Greek Orthodox, who refused the imposition of the Gregorian Calendar
by Constantinople on the Greek Church in 1924.
He is an itinerant missionary bishop like few others: a polyglot who speaks eight languages
and a theologian with numerous articles published in the USA and elsewhere, as well as the
Director of Foreign Missions for his Synod,

** which, aside from Greece, has churches in Italy,
the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Georgia, South Ossetia, Singapore,
Malaysia, Kenya, Congo, Uganda, South Africa, the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The Italian mission has two Dioceses: Nora-Cagliari, in Sardinia, under Bishop Michael, and
Luni, in mainland Italy, under Bishop Silvano (Livi), which has been recognized by the State
since 2004 and operates an Orthodox Theological Faculty in Pistoia and Rome. We met and
interviewed Bishop Ambrose at the Monastery of St. Seraphim of Sarov in Pistoia.

• A first question deals with your new position as Bishop in Australia.Why did the Free Serbian
Orthodox Church of Australia decide to break communion with the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate?
In the past, the main reason for the separation between the Free Serbian Orthodox Church and
Belgrade consisted in the fact that the Communist régime imposed itself on the Patriarchate.
There were other reasons too; for example, the Serbs abroad were almost all monarchists.
Moreover, the Titoist regime organized expansive libelous campaigns against the Serbs abroad.
In 1961, the Serbs abroad separated themselves from the Patriarchate, and the Free Serbian Orthodox
Church, which was established at that point, gathered the greater part of the faithful in
the USA, Canada, and Australia. Dioceses were created, Bishops were consecrated, and churches
and monasteries were built, such as the one in which I live inAustralia.All of this was accomplished
thanks to the money that Serbs abroad raised wholly on their own, without any help from
the Patriarchate in Belgrade.
In 1991, after the fall of the Communist régime, there was a reconciliation between the Free
Serbian Orthodox Church and the Church of Serbia. It was, however, just a liturgical reconciliation:
they established mutual communion, but without any form of administrative unification.
Two years ago, Belgrade decided to unify the Australian Diocese of the Free Serbian Orthodox
Church and the Patriarchal Diocese. This was not accepted by the faithful, partly because of
some ecumenist actions of the Patriarchal bishop which were considered contrary to the
Orthodox Faith. So, the Free Serbian communities, basing themselves on the legal statutes of the
Free Serbian Orthodox Church ofAustralia, broke with the Serbian Patriarchate. They elected me
as their new bishop last December, though without my previous consent. Nonetheless, this was
undertaken according to the legal statutes of the Free Serbian Orthodox Church ofAustralia. Our
Diocese has fourteen churches and a huge compound with a monastery, episcopal residence, a
summer camp for children, a cemetery, a large conference room, and the largest Orthodox Cathedral
in Australia. These churches are served by patriarchal clergy, and for the moment this will
remain so; it is not for us to expel them.
• How do you view your pastoral work among the Serbs of Australia?
First of all, I think we must begin with substantial catechetical work. The faithful, in fact, have
received no catechesis at all. I can count on each parish having a community school at its disposal
where children learn the Serbian language and culture. This is fine, but we must introduce
religious education as well.We will also start to use the English language for religious celebrations.
In this way I hope to bring the church nearer to the younger faithful, who do not know their
parents’ language as well.
• Are there Orthodox converts in Australia?
I have to say that the Orthodox churches using the English language are not many. This is a
great obstacle to conversions. The Greek community is enormous: it has more than one million
people, yet it was not very open to others, even considering its size. The second generation, however
is not so, and the third is almost no longer Greek.We have gradually to change the attitudes
of the Church, introducing, for example, the English language for religious celebrations. There
have indeed been someAustralian converts, but they are not many.We have a missionary monastic
brotherhood in Melbourne that works with poor people in Serbia and Australia. They have
also published some materials in English, and thanks to them some Australians have converted
to Orthodoxy. However, this is a part of our mission which is not sufficiently developed.
In Italy, on the other hand, you have an anomaly which is absent in Australia: the greater part
of the Orthodox parishes celebrate in Catholic churches. How can you conduct a complete mis-
sionary endeavor when hospitality from the Holy See involves certain accords regulating that
endeavor? By contrast, our own Synod’s mission in Italy not only owns its buildings, which are
the property of our legal religious entity or corporation, but is recognized by the Italian State, and
the two bishops, as well as the priests, are Italian.
• In recent decades, your Synod has received various monastic and parish communities from
other ecclesiastical jurisdictions. This is the case, for instance, with regard to the historic
monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in London. How do you
account for these acquisitions?
The ROCOR entities that asked to be received by the Synod in Resistance were two monasteries
in England (the Brotherhood of St. Edward the Martyr and the Convent of the Annunciation),
one in Canada, two parishes in California, and part of a parish in New York that formed a
new parish under our Synod. These entities came to us a little bit before the unification between
the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate. Various institutions
of the old ROCOR did not want to go under the Muscovite jurisdiction in 2007. They refused all
of the privileges which could have come to them from the unification, and retreated to our Synod
in Resistance or, alternatively, to our Sister Church under Metropolitan Agafangel, which continues
the traditions of the old ROCOR, far from communion with Moscow. These entities would
have accepted the unification only if the Moscow Patriarchate had withdrawn from the World
Council of Churches, if it had renounced ecumenist politics, and if it had clearly condemned its
past as a Soviet institution. These communities made, and still make, very notable sacrifices: a
good many priests lost their homes, churches, and salaries, and they had to search for secular jobs
to sustain their families, despite being priests. For the sake of the Orthodox Faith, they did not
fear these sacrifices.
• Today the state of Russian Orthodoxy is very alarming, both because of the relationship between
the State and the Church and also because of the persecutions waged against the other
Orthodox jurisdictions which find themselves in Russia. Last month a Russian male monastic
brotherhood came to live in Italy, under bishop Silvano (Livi), who is at the head of your bigger
ecclesiastical institution in Italy.Why did these monks leave Russia for Italy?
At the outset, we have to say that the Moscow Patriarchate is a very complex phenomenon.
In the first place, it is the second largest Church in the world, after the Catholic Church. The
monastic brotherhood that has now arrived in Italy comes from the Republic of Mari El, in the
Russian Federation, where there resides one of the few exemplary bishops of the Moscow
Patriarchate. The monastery that these monks built in the place that was assigned to them was
not habitable. In fact, they learned that it was on soil polluted with radioactive elements. They
were forced to leave it. So, they took the initiative to leave the Muscovite jurisdiction too, which
they had been unwillingly enduring for a long time. They knew that building a monastery in
Russia outside theMuscovite jurisdiction was almost impossible.A peaceful monastic life would
have been impossible. So, they came to Italy because they had known about our Synod for some
time, and here they had a benefactor who wanted them to have a monastery.

You are also the director of your Synod’s missions in Africa, a continent with a significant Roman
Catholic Church presence. Can you tell us something about your African missions? Do you
have any relations with the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria?
Our relations with the Catholic Church in Africa have always been good and amiable; we
have never had any sort of problem. In Kenya we have seven parishes, served by married priests,
and a convent that is the first and only Orthodox convent in Black Africa. Nineteen nuns reside
there, adhering to a traditional Orthodox way of life, as in a Greek monastery. In the Democratic
Republic of Congo we have, by contrast, about a hundred parishes for a population of faithful
numbering between forty and fifty thousand. There are only thirty-two priests, and they are
engaged in a tremendous work, travelling on foot from one town to another in order to celebrate
the Liturgy, baptize, and look after the spiritual lives of their parishioners. Our African clergy
deserve immense respect; indeed, we cannot afford to give a salary to any of our priests.We can
simply supply vestments and what is needed for the services,Mysteries, and instruction.We can
provide nothing more. However, our mission is spiritually successful. The African people have
entirely opened themselves to Orthodoxy.Another mission is just starting in the North of Congo,
where I recently ordained four new priests. Moreover, we have begun publishing some books in
their language. This entails linguistic experimentation in the realm of liturgics—it will take years
before we will have the final versions of the texts. In Congo-Brazzaville (also known as the
Republic of Congo), we have four priests, a school, and two parishes in the capital city.
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria has greater means in comparison to us. They
can pay salaries to the priests and build schools, clinics, and beautiful churches.Almost all of our
churches are, instead, made of mud bricks with roofs made of palm leaves. They also have the
means to cause us some problems, such as preventing our clergy from acquiring visas to visit
Greece, since the Patriarchate has tremendous influence over the Greek Embassy.We never had
any problem, whether with Roman Catholics or withAnglicans, yet we have these problems with
the Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria.
• You are also the

Locum Tenens of the State Church of South Ossetia, which is a borderland
claimed both by Russia and Georgia in the ecclesiastical and political worlds. The peak of these
conflicts was the poisoning of your predecessor in South Ossetia, some years ago. What is the
situation of Orthodoxy in that land, given the grip of Moscow and Tbilisi?
The international community considers South Ossetia part of Georgia, even though the country
proclaimed its independence in 1991, at the end of the Soviet dictatorship. We are dealing
with a country that lived through more than twenty years of war with Georgia because of its
struggle for independence. This situation brought about ethnic cleansing on both sides. The last
conflict was in 2008, when South Ossetia was caught in the crossfire between Russia and
Georgia on its own soil. The Orthodox churches of South Ossetia proclaimed their independence
from the Georgian Patriarchate in 1991, but Moscow continued to consider the region a canonical
territory of the Georgian Patriarchate. Tbilisi has also appointed a nominal bishop for South
Ossetia, but he cannot go there, as the border is completely closed. In other words, without our
Synod, the country would have been without a bishop and without clergy for more than twenty
years, even up to this time.
• How did your engagement with South Ossetia begin and how is it proceeding?
In the beginning, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Ossetian State, together
with the parishes of the country, turned to us, in order to place the situation in our hands.We
took over the church there.We consecrated, as head of this Christian community, Bishop George
(Pukhaev) of Alania, a young Russian monk with Ossetian origins. He literally reconstructed the
Orthodox Christian Church in South Ossetia. After more than half a century of Soviet dictatorship,
there was not a sole church left open in the entire area. Bishop George traversed the country
to baptize and preach.When he opened the first church, there were just two women as faithful.
Now we do not have sufficient space for all the faithful coming to the churches. In 2010,
Bishop George was deliberately poisoned, subsequently retiring, despite his young age, because
of the devastating damage to his health. He asked me to take his place.
South Ossetia is a missionary area with a population not so much numerous as multiethnic:
Ossetians (70%), Russians, Georgians, Greeks, Chechens, Armenians, Jews, Circassians, and
Turks. Four of our churches are ancient Byzantine buildings, one dating from the 9th century,
three from the 11th, and all in a disastrous state of preservation. The others date from the 16th to
the present century. No one wants to restore the ancient churches, on account of the political situation.
Indeed, I wrote to UNESCO for help, with no result. I also had an official conversation
with the head of state, since these churches could be a real opportunity for tourism. In recent
times, some money for restoration has arrived from Moscow, thanks to the interest of President
Medvedev.As for Russia, Patriarch Kyrill admits that we are the sole Orthodox jurisdiction that
can work in that area. He acknowledged thus to the South Ossetian ambassador in Moscow.
•Your Synod, part of the diversity of Greek Orthodoxy, defines itself as being “in resistance.” This
is a fundamental ecclesiological concept for you.What does it mean?
The Orthodox Church is now passing through a period of ecclesiastical confusion. The spirit
of ecumenism has entered into almost all the local Churches. The fundamental theological “device”
of ecumenism is the “theology of baptism”; i.e., everyone who is baptized in the name of
the Holy Trinity is fully Christian, and it does not matter if this was by a female or male priest,
by aspersion or immersion, and so on. For us, all of this constitutes a problem. Our position is a
traditional one: that ecumenism is a doctrinal heresy; thus, we broke communion with the Orthodox
proponents of ecumenism. We do not consider them outside the Church—condemned:
they are not so.We offer to all the Orthodox faithful who share our position a place where they
can pray without any compromise with heresy. The theological concept of “resistance” was elaborated
by St. Theodore the Studite in his heresiology. According to this spirit, we work together
with the bodies that follow this path in Romania and Bulgaria, and with the remnant of the
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia that did not unify itself with Moscow. Our position is
not a fundamentalistic one.We are open to encounters, dialogue, and discussion with other Christian
confessions and with other religions. The problem for us rests with the mutual acknowledgement
and sharing of Mysteries. The Orthodox Church is enjoined to witness to the Orthodox
Faith before other Christian confessions and other religions.
• Can you say something about the present situation in Greece?
I have just one thing to say: if it were not for the Orthodox churches in Greece, we would
have many people starving to death. The Church is the only institution which engages in charitable
work—as it should. But many charitable institutions of the Church have closed for lack of
public funds.A great number of Greeks do not have a place to sleep or anything to eat.All of the
parishes have become centers for the collection and distribution of basic necessities. Our Synod
acts both through our main monastery in Phyle and through our women’s phlanthropic organization
to provide food, clothing, and necessities to the poor, including non-Orthodox immigrants
and prisoners. Greece is passing through a very difficult period in its history. Those who can go
away—that is, the most qualified—leave for the United States, Europe, and Australia. Youth
unemployment has exceeded 50%, and the number of marriages has understandably dropped.
• There is another burning issue for Greece: a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights
has already requested the Greek State to bring about an effective separation from the Church. If
Greece is to remain in the EU, it will have to proceed on this path. How would the landscape of
Greek Orthodoxy change if that happened?
In 1924, Greece was required to accommodate a million and a half refugees fromAsiaMinor.
Keep in mind that, at that time, the entire population of Greece hovered only around three million
inhabitants.At the time, the Church made a deal with the State, giving about 95% of its property
for the accommodation of the refugees. In return, the State agreed to pay the wages of the
clergy. The State (New Calendar) Church of Greece now says that it is ready to accept a separation
of Church and State, but it asks back its properties.Without any income it cannot go ahead.
The State, however, cannot engage in this return. To date, between the Church and the State there
is a new deal: for every five priests who retire or die, the State will pay the salary of just one new
priest. It is clear, therefore, that the clergy have diminished in recent times. The State Church of
Greece has begun to ordain priests without a salary, as is the case with all the clergy of the
Churches in resistance (the Old Calendarists). These priests are persons who have a salary from
their secular employment.We have never received a penny from the Greek State, and because of
that the State has developed great respect for us.We have built churches and done everything else
in complete freedom, as a result.

The original Italian-language interview with His Grace can be found on the website of the “Vatican Insider” at

His Grace, BishopAmbrose undertook his undergraduate and graduate schooling at the University of London,
the latter at the prestigious Courtauld Institute of Art. His family counts among its distinguished members
such figures, on his paternal side, as John Macwhirter, the Scottish landscape painter, and, on his maternal
side, Sir Moses Montefiore, the famous English banker and philanthropist. Montefiore’s nephew, Arthur
Cohen, King’s Counsel, was a Member of Parliament, Standing Counsel for Cambridge University (his
alma mater

), Vice-President of the London School of Jewish Studies, a Judge of the Cinque Ports, and
Bishop Ambrose’s great-grandfather