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How Does Decisionmaking at GOARCH Assemblies Work?

rakovsky

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What is the highest decisionmaking body in the Ecumenical Patriarchate?

In the OCA and the MP, the highest decisionmaking body is the All-American Assembly and Local "Sobor" assembly, respectively. The voting delegates are clergy and a few laity from the parishes. For example, an Assembly in 2008 voted to install Met. Jonah as the OCA's Metropolitan. Between assemblies, the Metropolitan Council or Holy Synod implements decisions and it's made of the primate (eg. Met. Jonah in 2008-2012) and leading bishops.

I'm not familiar with the voting process in the EP for choosing Patriarchs. In the early years of the Cold War, the US arranged for a plane to bring Met. Athenagoras (an American bishop) to replace the contemporary Ecumenical Patriarch. I can see that GOARCH might not elect its own hierarchs because GOARCH is under the EP instead of being autocephalous like the OCA is. The EP's leading hierarch Pat. Bartholomew appointed Abp. Elpidophoros to replace Abp. Demetrios as the GOARCH's hierarch in 2019.

This October, GOARCH is having Metropolitan-Clergy-Laity conferences on Zoom. The Metropolis of Chicago is having their Clergy-Laity Assembly in early October (https://www.chicago.goarch.org/-/2021-clergy-laity). The Diocese of the Southeast is having their Fall General Assembly in October in South Carolina.

What kinds of decisions and voting processes occur in these assemblies?

I am guessing that alot of the decisions are budgetary. Maybe they would discuss how much money to put into the shrine at the WTC.

I heard a Q&A of a Laity conference where Abp. Elpidophoros stated that nonOrthodox spouses could commune. Since it was in a Q&A format, people asked about this, but there was no input as to whether members were agreeing with the new policy. In effect, the Archbishop was announcing the policy and people were asking for clarification instead of approving or rejecting the policy.

In a recent decision, Abp. Elpidophoros announced that GOARCH was annulling any religious exemptions that its priests gave for vaccines. Before his decision, there had been some religious exemptions that GOARCH priests had given people who wanted to avoid the vaccines.

In the case of the EP's assertion of being the vertical supreme primate over the Orthodox world and the EP's use of this asserted power to recognize the Kiev Patriarch clergy and O.C. of Ukraine as canonical, I doubt that the GOARCH assemblies voted on these policies. It looks like the decisions would have been made in a top down fashion. Apparently the EP and the top EP synod of bishops would have made the decision and then GOARCH obeyed it. Some laity might agree, disagree, or not care, but they were not the decisionmakers.

I talked with a ROCOR priest of Greek heritage who studied in a GOARCH seminary in the US decades ago. He said that he and a major fraction of seminarians left the seminary the year that the seminary forced out Fr. John Romanides for teaching more traditional Orthodoxy. The priest told me that GOARCH was trying to make accommodations with the Protestant world at that time and he listed examples like Abp. Iakovos requiring priests to stop wearing beards and cassocks. I asked him if he could have gone to a GOARCH assembly and told people there about his concerns in order to address them, and he replied that GOARCH assemblies did not work like I was suggesting. He said that Greek Orthodox in the US could instead be informed about issues over time.

So are GOARCH assemblies and clergy-lay conferences a top-down matter of the leadership informing the delegates about the policies that the leadership has already decided on and then the delegates get to vote on some issues where the outcome of votes are already practically decided?

I am guessing that the assembly decisions are not pre-decided or top-down on all issues. It seems that there could be budgetary issues where the leadership could leave it up to the delegates as to how much money they want to put in certain projects.

Suppose theoretically that the GOARCH leadership or EP holy synod was taking a strong, mistaken position on some issue or policy. Would the GOARCH membership have an opportunity to change course at Assemblies or Clergy-Laity Conferences?
 

Opus118

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I cannot answer your questions, but you will get a better idea by going to the 2020 conference website:
https://www.clergylaity.org/home.
Look at the Plenary tab (voting/Roberts rules) and especially the documents and presentations tab since it is a largely budgetary meeting.
 

rakovsky

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Thanks. They have a "summary of the motions that were passed at the 2018 Clergy Laity Congress in Boston, all of which have been implemented."

It looks rather narrow. The three sections are budget, youth protection manual, and changes to the "Archdiocesan Regulations". The last one is the most relevant to my question. It concerns the scope of the powers of the Archdiocesan Councils and leadership and also does a nice thing by demanding that the Metropolises have audit committees.

I guess theoretically if GOARCH members mistrusted their leadership enough, they could vote to severely restrict the powers of the leading organizations. The third category on GOARCH regulations includes votes on:
(i) the composition, powers and duties of the Archdiocesan Council Executive Committee; (ii) the composition, powers and duties of the Archdiocesan Council; (iii) the composition, powers and duties of the standing committees of Archdiocesan Council;
Back in 2018, Abp. Demetrios was still in charge of GOARCH, and people might not have had the same amount of concerns regarding his decisionmaking powers.

After Abp. Elpidophoros was appointed the head of GOARCH by Pat. Bartholomew, he made some unexpected decisions, such as retiring some leading GOARCH bishops like Met. Evangelos of NJ who had notably supported Pat. Bartholomew's actions in Ukraine.

I am skeptical that the GOARCH membership is dissatisfied with Abp. Elpidophoros enough to vote to drastically restrict his powers at a national assembly.
 

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I am skeptical that the GOARCH membership is dissatisfied with Abp. Elpidophoros enough to vote to drastically restrict his powers at a national assembly.
What powers are you worried about? What powers has he used such that I should be concerned from a GOArch perspective. Just curious and cognizant that the Greek Orthodox in this forum are treated as an "other" functioning as a punching bag. I am tired of it, but real life problems dictate what is meaningful rather than speculative. I do like how you think, so respond if you care to.
 

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that the Greek Orthodox in this forum are treated as an "other"
If you're interested, the evolution of my attitude to the Greeks:

- "they are our brothers, we have received from them the light of Christ's faith, Greece is an ancient country with a rich history";
- "not everything is so beautiful, the Greeks are envious, greedy, petty, chauvinistic; they absolutely did not as a brothers expel Russian monks from Mount Athos in every possible way";
- 2018: "the Greeks are our enemies, the enemies of our faith and our people."

Tell me, who is to blame for this?
 

rakovsky

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What powers are you worried about? What powers has he used such that I should be concerned from a GOArch perspective. Just curious and cognizant that the Greek Orthodox in this forum are treated as an "other" functioning as a punching bag. I am tired of it, but real life problems dictate what is meaningful rather than speculative. I do like how you think, so respond if you care to.
The root problem is the archbishop's assertion that the ecumenical Patriarch is first without equals. The Archbishop said this in a document on the topic even before the problem in Ukraine. The Practical conflict in Ukraine is that the ecumenical patriarch recognized the OCU as canonical and considers the Moscow patriarchate in Ukraine as now non-canonical. It is a little like having a Greek Metropolitan in one part of the United States saying that he is now the Archbishop of the Greek archdiocese and declaring that a Greek old calendar group in another part of the United States is the only canonical jurisdiction there.
 

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If you're interested, the evolution of my attitude to the Greeks:

- "they are our brothers, we have received from them the light of Christ's faith, Greece is an ancient country with a rich history";
- "not everything is so beautiful, the Greeks are envious, greedy, petty, chauvinistic; they absolutely did not as a brothers expel Russian monks from Mount Athos in every possible way";
- 2018: "the Greeks are our enemies, the enemies of our faith and our people."

Tell me, who is to blame for this?
Unfortunately, and I really do mean that, this is my attitude towards them as well. Although I will say it’s not my attitude towards Greek people as a whole, but rather wholeheartedly is my attitude towards Patroarch Bartholomew, Archbishop Elpidohphoros and the majority of hierarchs in the Constantinople Patriarchate.

They have proven time and again that they are enemies of Orthodoxy.

This is why in a previous “unpopular opinions” thread I said as my opinion that “Greek” Orthodoxy seems to wholesale be cleaving itself away from Orthodoxy with that being centered around Constantinople
 

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Galatians 3:28 For there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free; but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
 

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If you're interested, the evolution of my attitude to the Greeks:

- "they are our brothers, we have received from them the light of Christ's faith, Greece is an ancient country with a rich history";
- "not everything is so beautiful, the Greeks are envious, greedy, petty, chauvinistic; they absolutely did not as a brothers expel Russian monks from Mount Athos in every possible way";
- 2018: "the Greeks are our enemies, the enemies of our faith and our people."

Tell me, who is to blame for this?
You are.
 

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If you're interested, the evolution of my attitude to the Greeks:

- "they are our brothers, we have received from them the light of Christ's faith, Greece is an ancient country with a rich history";
- "not everything is so beautiful, the Greeks are envious, greedy, petty, chauvinistic; they absolutely did not as a brothers expel Russian monks from Mount Athos in every possible way";
- 2018: "the Greeks are our enemies, the enemies of our faith and our people."

Tell me, who is to blame for this?
So sad to hold dear all the Traditions and all the Fathers then lose out at the end for lack of love.
 

hurrrah

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It is impossible to honor traditions and fathers, to have love, and at the same time - to say and do what representatives of the Greek Church say and do...
 

Ariend

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Galatians 3:28 For there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free; but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Ahahahaha... this doesn't ignore the fact that there is Greek and Russian and American and Romanian and Ukrainian and Serbian (I could go on), ecclesiastically-speaking. I desperately wish I could say otherwise.

Under normal circumstances I would go and criticize all you who are saying "the EP is the enemy of Orthodoxy", and I would assert that you are all being blasphemous against a canonical part of the Orthodox Church. But if one is MP, then the EP isn't fully Orthodox (they are as much Orthodox as the Macedonian Orthodox Church, or the Montenegrin Orthodox Church). But if one is Antiochian or OCA or Serbian, then the EP is fully Orthodox.
I hate these subjective truths. I <expletive> despise it. EP is not fully Orthodox for the MP, but then they are fully Orthodox for the other autocephlaous Churches. Will Orthodox ecclesiology turn into a venn diagram? I guess we'll just have to wait a decade or two and see.
Thank God I believe in God, because this ecclesiology will turn many Orthodox Christians on the fence away from Him.

I had an epiphany a few days ago, and I realized that everyone in this forum (including myself) would all be at least ten times friendlier with each other if we personally knew each other as fellow parishioners. But then I realized not all of us can even be parishioners together, because of the MP-EP schism. So sucks to suck.

Okay my rant is over. So in conclusion, if any Greek Orthodox Christians here feel like they are being mistreated, it is because they are not full Orthodox Christians in the eyes of the MP. People under the MP and people under the EP are currently not brothers and sisters in Christ, because they cannot share the same Eucharist. They are as much brothers and sisters in Christ as we are with the Montenegrin and Macedonian Orthodox Churches.
 

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It is impossible to honor traditions and fathers, to have love, and at the same time - to say and do what representatives of the Greek Church say and do...
"the Greeks are our enemies, the enemies of our faith and our people."
To make a general statement of all Greeks is one thing, and to hold leadership of the Church accountable to rightly divide the Word of Truth and to apply that Truth in love is another thing.
The Catholics will get a break for a while since the Greeks will take center stage now.
 

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No emotional cries and attempts to turn around arrows not able to cancel the facts that the Greek bishops for centuries, traveled to Moscow for the money, with perceive the Russian second class barbarians; that on mount Athos, the greek monks are trying to expel Russian monks, but to attract Russian money; Patriarch Bartholomew, on the basis of fantasies about the exceptional role of the Greek Church, (and probably at the request of the U.S. government) recognized as "Church" the wicked bunch of Ukrainian schismatics and self-consecrated ones. And you trying to make those who talk about this look evil and proud? Lol. Cheap trick.
The woman asked why this attitude is towards the Greeks, I answered - why. Do you want to deny, hide your head in the sand? It's up to you.
 

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No emotional cries and attempts to turn around arrows not able to cancel the facts that the Greek bishops for centuries, traveled to Moscow for the money, with perceive the Russian second class barbarians; that on mount Athos, the greek monks are trying to expel Russian monks, but to attract Russian money; Patriarch Bartholomew, on the basis of fantasies about the exceptional role of the Greek Church, (and probably at the request of the U.S. government) recognized as "Church" the wicked bunch of Ukrainian schismatics and self-consecrated ones. And you trying to make those who talk about this look evil and proud? Lol. Cheap trick.
The woman asked why this attitude is towards the Greeks, I answered - why. Do you want to deny, hide your head in the sand? It's up to you.
I do not know much Church history. In Orthodoxy, I am a baby. I only make an appeal not to hate all who fall under an ethnic group. The political climate is way over my head. I do not understand because I am neither Greek nor Russian nor Ukrainian. I'm nothing. I have not been Orthodox long enough to gain my balance and start walking. So I cannot enter into this discussion and bring anything in deep or profound. I feel for everyone who is being persecuted because of one man's decision who acts like the Orthodox pope. My personal experience is that the Patriarch Bartholomew repulses me. But what do I know? I guard my heart.
We can refuse to commune with the "other" under submission to our church leadership without hating. And pray for the "other" that we may all be one. A kingdom divided cannot stand.
Peace.
Pray for me. I pray for all.
 

rakovsky

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If you're interested, the evolution of my attitude to the Greeks:

- "they are our brothers, we have received from them the light of Christ's faith, Greece is an ancient country with a rich history";
- "not everything is so beautiful, the Greeks are envious, greedy, petty, chauvinistic; they absolutely did not as a brothers expel Russian monks from Mount Athos in every possible way";
- 2018: "the Greeks are our enemies, the enemies of our faith and our people."

Tell me, who is to blame for this?
I understand where your attitude is coming from. I feel a lot of affinity to Byzantium because it played such a major role in the medieval Eastern Church.

Greeks I guess are not as cliqueish in the US as they were 70 years ago. The US in general is less xenophobic. I don't want to make negative stereotypes of Greeks, even if there is a grain of truth in such criticisms.

Since 2018 with Patriarch Bartholomew announcing himself as the vertical supreme head of Orthodoxy and then recognizing the OCU as the only canonical Church in Ukraine, he creates both a practical and theoretical problem felt especially sharply by the MP, since the MP is the largest EO jurisdiction globally and the MP has many parishes in Ukraine.

Further, Pat. Bartholomew has repeatedly couched his position in terms of the "precedence" that he asserts explicitly for the Greek "genos" race/tribe and "blood" in his words, and I recall that he complained specifically about slavic Orthodox rejecting that precedence. I can look up the quote again if needed. Such stark terminology by him was surprising for me because previously I liked and perceived him as.a global humanitarian, egalitarian figure. And if you accepted his words as authority, then it would indeed sound as if "the Greeks" are set in conflict against other Orthodox nationalities.

But I am reluctant to blame Greeks per se for this, one reason being that these positions and decisions were taken by the EP leadership, as opposed to a vote by GOARCH assemblies. It seems that if the GOARCH membership felt strongly on the topic, they could object more to these problems enacted by their leadership. My impression is that the GOARCH membership doesn't care about this problem or else is following along the course set by their leadership on this topic.

And then there is also the problem that the Churches of Greece, Cyprus, and Alexandria seem to be going along with the EP's new course, whereas traditional Orthodox ecclesiology would say that they should be resisting it.
 

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Ahahahaha... this doesn't ignore the fact that there is Greek and Russian and American and Romanian and Ukrainian and Serbian (I could go on), ecclesiastically-speaking. I desperately wish I could say otherwise.

Under normal circumstances I would go and criticize all you who are saying "the EP is the enemy of Orthodoxy", and I would assert that you are all being blasphemous against a canonical part of the Orthodox Church. But if one is MP, then the EP isn't fully Orthodox (they are as much Orthodox as the Macedonian Orthodox Church, or the Montenegrin Orthodox Church). But if one is Antiochian or OCA or Serbian, then the EP is fully Orthodox.
I hate these subjective truths. I <expletive> despise it. EP is not fully Orthodox for the MP, but then they are fully Orthodox for the other autocephlaous Churches. Will Orthodox ecclesiology turn into a venn diagram? I guess we'll just have to wait a decade or two and see.
Thank God I believe in God, because this ecclesiology will turn many Orthodox Christians on the fence away from Him.

I had an epiphany a few days ago, and I realized that everyone in this forum (including myself) would all be at least ten times friendlier with each other if we personally knew each other as fellow parishioners. But then I realized not all of us can even be parishioners together, because of the MP-EP schism. So sucks to suck.

Okay my rant is over. So in conclusion, if any Greek Orthodox Christians here feel like they are being mistreated, it is because they are not full Orthodox Christians in the eyes of the MP. People under the MP and people under the EP are currently not brothers and sisters in Christ, because they cannot share the same Eucharist. They are as much brothers and sisters in Christ as we are with the Montenegrin and Macedonian Orthodox Churches.
I’m not MP. I was EP then left and joined the Antiochians. This is not just a “muhh MP is mean to EP”. There are orthodox from other jurisdictions that are not happy with what the EP has done
 

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I understand where your attitude is coming from. I feel a lot of affinity to Byzantium because it played such a major role in the medieval Eastern Church.

Greeks I guess are not as cliqueish in the US as they were 70 years ago. The US in general is less xenophobic. I don't want to make negative stereotypes of Greeks, even if there is a grain of truth in such criticisms.

Since 2018 with Patriarch Bartholomew announcing himself as the vertical supreme head of Orthodoxy and then recognizing the OCU as the only canonical Church in Ukraine, he creates both a practical and theoretical problem felt especially sharply by the MP, since the MP is the largest EO jurisdiction globally and the MP has many parishes in Ukraine.

Further, Pat. Bartholomew has repeatedly couched his position in terms of the "precedence" that he asserts explicitly for the Greek "genos" race/tribe and "blood" in his words, and I recall that he complained specifically about slavic Orthodox rejecting that precedence. I can look up the quote again if needed. Such stark terminology by him was surprising for me because previously I liked and perceived him as.a global humanitarian, egalitarian figure. And if you accepted his words as authority, then it would indeed sound as if "the Greeks" are set in conflict against other Orthodox nationalities.

But I am reluctant to blame Greeks per se for this, one reason being that these positions and decisions were taken by the EP leadership, as opposed to a vote by GOARCH assemblies. It seems that if the GOARCH membership felt strongly on the topic, they could object more to these problems enacted by their leadership. My impression is that the GOARCH membership doesn't care about this problem or else is following along the course set by their leadership on this topic.

And then there is also the problem that the Churches of Greece, Cyprus, and Alexandria seem to be going along with the EP's new course, whereas traditional Orthodox ecclesiology would say that they should be resisting it.
And you would think. Pour defenseless EP , isolated in Turkey can never put a dent on a big behemoth like Russia!
I think all of orthodoxy is getting agood belly laugh.
Next time show up at the councils.
Lol
 

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Next time show up at the councils.
That sounds like a good suggestion. Unfortunately, the EP's decisions that he was the vertical head of all Orthodoxy and to recognize the OCU were not taken at an inter-Orthodox Council of different Orthodox Churches.
 

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Um, does anybody remember my verse from Galatians? It’s a few lines above all this stuff.
 

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Um, does anybody remember my verse from Galatians?
I'm not complaining about GOARCH being Greek or Hellenistic, if that is what you have in mind. It is nice that some of the liturgy in lots of GOARCH churches is Greek.
 

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no one here even attempted to engage the OP’s question. Just a lot of attitudinalizing.
 

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That sounds like a good suggestion. Unfortunately, the EP's decisions that he was the vertical head of all Orthodoxy and to recognize the OCU were not taken at an inter-Orthodox Council of different Orthodox Churches.
Maybe it was in the minutes ,pryer to the Russians arrival in Crete.
 

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Maybe it was in the minutes ,pryer to the Russians arrival in Crete.
The Crete Council was in 2016, and it was not until October 11, 2018 that Pat. Bartholomew ostensibly lifted the anathema on "Kiev Patriarch" Philaret Denisenko.
 

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no one here even attempted to engage the OP’s question.
Opus from GOARCH helpfully pointed to the 2020 conference documents, and asked which powers of Abp. Elpidophoros I am worried about. I answered that the root of my concern is the EP's assertions of vertical supremacy over Orthodoxy and his divisive decision about Ukraine, and Opus simply didn't reply anything.
 

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The Crete Council was in 2016, and it was not until October 11, 2018 that Pat. Bartholomew ostensibly lifted the anathema on "Kiev Patriarch" Philaret Denisenko.
In real life things take time to materialize.
 

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In real life things take time to materialize.
This sounds speculative since the EP's assertions of supremacy were not based on the Crete Council's decisions. Arguably, participating in the EP's Crete Council would have further strengthened the EP's hand and thus further empowered his later unilateral assertions of power over the MP.
 

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This sounds speculative since the EP's assertions of supremacy were not based on the Crete Council's decisions. Arguably, participating in the EP's Crete Council would have further strengthened the EP's hand and thus further empowered his later unilateral assertions of power over the MP.
It's apparent the MP is choosing to go it alone with a total disregard for ecclesiastical structure.
We'll have to wait and see how this plays out.
 

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It's apparent the MP is choosing to go it alone with a total disregard for ecclesiastical structure.
The ecclesiastical structure that I have learned to be Orthodox for all the decades that I've known Orthodoxy is that the Patriarchs are only equals to each other in power. The EP's announcements since 2018 that he is the vertical head of all Orthodoxy were news to me.
 

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The ecclesiastical structure that I have learned to be Orthodox for all the decades that I've known Orthodoxy is that the Patriarchs are only equals to each other in power. The EP's announcements since 2018 that he is the vertical head of all Orthodoxy were news to me.
The MP is in the EP's juristiction.
 

Tzimis

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Classic case of the schooled trying to school.
Familiarity breeds contempt.
 
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The MP is in the EP's juristiction.
Patriarch Jeremiah II granted the MP autocephaly and the other patriarchs recognized Moscow, as in your own words, a "junior patriarch". A patriarch is not in the jurisdiction of another patriarch.
 

Tzimis

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Patriarch Jeremiah II granted the MP autocephaly and the other patriarchs recognized Moscow, as in your own words, a "junior patriarch". A patriarch is not in the jurisdiction of another patriarch.
there needs to be a mechanism to bring parties to the table in disputes. Communion doesn't exist in a vacuum.
 
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there needs to be a mechanism to bring parties to the table in disputes. Communion doesn't exist in a vacuum.
Sure. Does that mean therefore Constantinople can unilaterally override the jurisdiction of Moscow?
 

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Sure. Does that mean therefore Constantinople can unilaterally override the jurisdiction of Moscow?
No, but someone needs to be first. Otherwise it will splinter the church.
If the structure forces them to meet face to face. They will work things out. So first amongst equals is a viable title. When a meeting is called and the invited doesn't show up, it's a break in canon law.
If and when they show the democratic process will ensue and the bishops will vote for its future.
The MP knew the process wouldn't favor him and decided to skip.
 
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No, but someone needs to be first. Otherwise it will splinter the church.
If the structure forces them to meet face to face. They will work things out. So first amongst equals is a viable title. When a meeting is called and the invited doesn't show up, it's a break in canon law.
If and when they show the democratic process will ensue and the bishops will vote for its future.
The MP knew the process wouldn't favor him and decided to skip.
And it isn't breaking canon law to grant autocephaly without said meeting?
 
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