[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] Personal Musings on the Holy and Great Council - Orthodox Christian Laity

Personal Musings on the Holy and Great Council


Source: Orthodox Christian Laity

I had prepared myself to go to Chania, Crete and see, as a reporter, the events and hear the commentary and behind-the-scenes events that would be part of the excitement and surroundings of this monumental historical event, the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.    I sent in the information that was necessary to be approved as an observer.  The approval came.  I was excited about going.  I have been an advocate for the Council for 28 years.  In 1994, I was a member of a delegation sent to meet with His All Holiness Bartholomew.  He expressed his determination to call the Council. I have written many articles since 1994 about the need for the Council.  Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) has provided coverage on its web site (ocl.org),  of the developments pertaining to the Council since 2008. Two days before my departure, I fell doing yard work, and broke my wrist. I had to cancel my trip.  Indeed,  I was disappointed.

For the past three months, I was following the developments and preparations.  We know that His All Holiness had the courage to proceed with the Council even though 4 Churches backed out within the month immediately prior to the Council.   They were committed to the Council since 2008 but found excuses not to participate, including the seating protocols.  The positive is that it did take place.  The staff of the Patriarchate was efficient and visionary.  The agenda that was agreed upon was adhered to.  His All Holiness kept the meeting going and kept it focused.  All those who wanted to speak had the opportunity to speak.

My last published article in The National Herald stated that the world would be watching the work of the Council; and indeed, we have watched.  Reuters, the Associated Press and the New York Times as well as other newspapers around the world reported on the event.  Having tried to digest reports from around the world, I agree with the conclusion reached by Victoria Clark in her interesting book, “Why Angels Fall.”  The bishops have fallen from the “sublime ideal dreamed up in Byzantium,” because they cannot give up their parochial and nationalistic ways.  They are prisoners of history.  Some bishops still want to conceal their spiritual treasures from the world.  “That heinous religious nationalism with its persecution and martyr complexes and longing for death and suffering, that targeting of enemies and dangerous emotive habit of spinning pretty patterns from the past — mythologies instead of histories — will have to go.”  Symphonia was not what the bishops wanted; and therefore, the achievements of the Council were limited.  The bishops cannot even come to terms with the concept of consensus.  The Holy Spirit was hard pressed to be heard.

It is time for others to come forth to move the Church forward.  In the lands outside the traditional Orthodox nations, it is necessary for the laity to move forward together in all the parallel jurisdictions to help the bishops move ahead.   The situation in these land is uncanonical, and the “new ecclesiology” of trying to rationalize the ethnic, national point of view to keep the Church in a colonial state is unacceptable.  Our faithful keep walking away.  Some archdioceses have lost 38 percent of their stewards in 20 years.  The divide and conquer strategies of the Patriarchates is not working in nontraditional Orthodox lands.  It is time to create autocephalous Churches in the USA, Europe, Canada and Australia. New ethnic Metropolitanates  in these lands are not a solution and will not work.  The laity must stop being enablers of what does not work.  In the USA, we need to see how we can work to bring more of those leaving to transfer to the Orthodox Church in America (OCA).  The Council called for the continuing work of resolving these discrepancies within the “diaspora” Churches.  Let us hope that the gauntlet is picked up by our hierarchs with layperson involvement in the USA and around the world.  It is our duty and responsibility to help the hierarchs move forward.

George Matsoukas, Executive Director



  1. The men are chosen because they are single, with the incredible superstitious belief that this will magically make them good pastors. We don’t use the same logic to believe God will miraculously change the oil in our cars, fix the brakes or keep our roofs from leaking. Until the Church gets over believing in magic we will continue to see talentless men seem to run things. It’s an expensive hobby for us. You can see how useful it is.

    • bob,

      The hierarchs aren’t interested in picking up gauntlets. They define lay participation as the emptying of wallets and bank accounts into the church’s coffers. If the people want to effect change, they should stop funding these bearded mitered shamans.

  2. Our Lord has a strange sense of human resource management and apparently bad judgment in the people who He chooses for leading his Church. (emphasis – His) The chief of the apostles denied Him three times, another betrayed him and hanged himself, a third refused to believe the testimony of his brethren and flew solo for a week until the Lord appeared and made him look really silly. The others had their moments – as the ‘beloved disciple’ and his brother were fighting over who was the greatest – at the Mystical Supper no less. The betrayer’s successor was the head of a cohort chasing the community throughout the region til they caught up with Stephen and stoned him. In his words – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Even the great Gregory of Nazianzus threw in the towel and left Constantinople when he had enough. Being an archpastor in the real Church of Christ has never been easy for any of them – requiring much sacrifice, and a lot of gifts that they just don’t have – so they have to figure out who/how it can get done anyway. And each pastor, including this one, will get the opportunity to give an account of his ministry (and failings) at the fearsome judgment seat of Christ and will be shown his worst failings in Technicolor, before the verdict is rendered. And none of us really knew what we were getting into when we signed up – so we try to rely on allow that ‘surpassing greatness of God’ to somehow do what is impossible by man – like pull off a consensus of the Whole Church, despite centuries of barely talking to each other, political divides, intrigues and bad blood. And there is no Emperor like Constantine to lock them in the room until they work it out – with all of his ‘incentives’ to help them. The real Church is still here today- and the very fact that all but 4 showed up at this Council points to actual progress – and the working of the Spirit that will be manifest in ways beyond human power – in His time. The next such gathering – when they’re all there (because of the incentive of not being left out if nothing else), will be put up or shut up time for this Church. It may well be all hell breaking loose and they’ll have to pull together – or perish.

    By the way, our ‘funding’ belongs to God – and it is His gift and privilege to us to let go of it to make an offering back to Him to His glory, and participate in his sacred purposes, rather than use it to control things according our own fallen designs and throw it at more meaningless things in the world of emptiness. When you offer it, it’s not the bishops or anyone else’s – it belongs to the Lord, and made in the right spirit has the power unleash His work. What is required is real faith to accompany said offerings – and that is one of the greatest things lacking in our Church today. We do not trust in men, but in God. And yes, it’s something that you and I will also have the opportunity to give an accounting for, at the Last Judgment. It took a very poor widow showed us how to get it right.

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