Another Eastern Schism! And it’s not even 2025 yet!

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
ROC Synod forms schismatic structure on Patriarchate of Alexandria’s territory – Spiritual Front

The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church has now broken communion with the Patriarch of Alexandria, who is the Patriarch over all “orthodox churches” on the African continent.

This comes on the heels of the 2018 decision by the same Russian Patriarch in Moscow to sever communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch (in Constantinople) and the churches under his jurisdiction in Greece and the Greek Orthodox Diocese of North America.

Now we have yet another schism among the mainline eastern “churches.”

And rumors are swirling that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is next, as they too are about to go down the same road as the Ecumenical and Alexandrian Patriarchs.

So what is this all about?!?

Ukraine.

As soon as a patriarch announces that they think the churches in Ukraine should be “autocephalous” (have their own head Patriarchate), the Patriarch in Moscow throws a fit and severs communion with them.

It all goes back to 2018, the year I decided to become eastern “orthodox” incidentally.

That’s the year the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople recognized the “orthodox churches” in Ukraine as “autocephalous.” In other words, Constantinople was saying that the Ukrainians should have their own church and should not be under the Russian Patriarchate, as they have been for as long as anyone remembers (probably since the days of Peter the Great, who himself dissolved the office of Russian Patriarch and put the Russian Church under direct control of his government).

Why should Ukrainians be under the Russian Orthodox Church?? Ukrainians are not Russian!

Eastern “orthodox” apologists (at least pre-2018) always bragged about how a distinctive feature of "eastern orthodoxy" was how each nation has its own church.

I guess Ukraine is to be an exception!

But why? No answer is ever given.

And since 2018, rather than dealing with that $64,000 question, these same “orthodox” apologists now do a shuck and jive and dodge the issue by making the claim that the Ecumenical Patriarch is just a “stooge of the US State Department” and is doing this to attack Russia at the instigation of the West.

Ok…maybe there is some truth to that (i.e., it is part of the West’s current campaign to inflame tensions in Ukraine to poke the Russian Bear). But it is almost uproariously funny to hear this charge being levelled that the EP is having his strings pulled by the West....when the "church" in Moscow has, for years, had its strings pulled by whoever was sitting in the Kremlin. The current Russian Patriarch's predecessor, Alexy II, was a literal KGB agent! And anyone who thinks that Putin, for example, doesn't currently use the ROC for his own political ends, is fooling themselves! There is a long precedent in Russian history that the ROC has always been more or less controlled by the Russian State.

And it still doesn't address the central burning issue, the pink elephant in the room: why should Ukrainians be under the Russian Church in the first place?

In 2020 I got to witness some of the silly fallout from this firsthand. Every year all of the local “orthodox” churches have a combined liturgy at one of the local parishes. That year, it was the Serbian church’s turn to host the event. All the local churches sent their priests and deacons: the Russians, the Antiochians, and the Greeks. But when the Greek priests showed up, the Russian priests and deacons excused themselves and left. I had no idea what was going on until my then Russian priest later explained that they were told by their bishop that they were not allowed to serve with the Greek priests because of the situation in Ukraine.

So why do I bring this up?

Because it’s just one of MANY of the false practices and claims of the eastern “churches”, and these current schisms are the gift-that-keeps-on-giving for anyone who wishes to engage in polemics against the eastern orthos, not only to show the absurdity of their ecclesiology, but also to argue for a more Biblical model of Church government, which is NOTHING AT ALL LIKE the ethno-nationalist episcopal model of Church government that they espouse.

Looking Forward…

2025 fast approaches, when Nicea III is supposed to be taking place, where a serious effort will be made, spearheaded by the Ecumenical Patriarch, to reunify with Rome, with the hopes of having it all sealed up by Easter of that year, because Easter and Pascha occur on the same day (which doesn’t usually occur since many Eastern churches, who call it “Pascha”, are still on the Julian rather than the Gregorian Calendar). As is already happening, most of the other "eastern churches" will split away from Russia, which is the largest eastern church.

How, then, can any convert to the "eastern churches", or somebody who is interested in converting, not see that there really is no such thing as "Eastern orthodoxy?"

This was all predicted by Vladimir Soloviev back in 1889, when he wrote:

“…for on the day on which the Russian and Greek Churches formally break with one another, the whole world will see that the Ecumenical Eastern Church is a mere fiction and that there exists in the East nothing but isolated national churches…It need hardly be added that all these national Churches are simply State Churches entirely without any kind of ecclesiastical freedom.” (Russia and the Universal Church).
 
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retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Junior
“…for on the day on which the Russian and Greek Churches formally break with one another, the whole world will see that the Ecumenical Eastern Church is a mere fiction and that there exists in the East nothing but isolated national churches…It need hardly be added that all these national Churches are simply State Churches entirely without any kind of ecclesiastical freedom.” (Russia and the Universal Church).
This comment specifically has always been my thoughts when observing the eastern "orthodox" churches.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Ukraine is a tricky situation. On one hand, since Poland and Austria had historically conquered parts of Ukraine and brought Catholicism to it, the Pope decided to give a pro-Filioque version of the liturgy. That way the commoner in Ukraine could say the Slavonic liturgy while formally swearing fealty to the Pope. Eastern Ukrainians, having a more Russian bent, pushed back against this.

Then there is the question of just how much control the CIA has over Kiev and Constantinople. The Patriarch of Constantinople is just as wishy-washy as the Pope; he just doesn't go out of his way to say outrageous things that can be misinterpreted.

Many of us saw this coming. Russia will be the vanguard of Orthodoxy in the world, for better or worse. This is just a step to it.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
This comment specifically has always been my thoughts when observing the eastern "orthodox" churches.

Spending a few years in the "eastern church" was really eye opening. The Mt. Everest-sized pile of myths, fake histories, fake claims, and idolatrous practices is simply breathtaking. And fortunately, I have experienced worship services at Russian, Serbian, and Antiochian parishes and have seen firsthand, all the folk-superstitious nonsense that infests these "churches."

For example, tomorrow night will be the Nativity Eve service for the Russian and Serbian "churches" since they are on the Julian Calendar. The Serbian service will include in its service a pine tree in the middle of the nave, before which everyone will line up, break off a branch, then go outside and toss in a bonfire.

Why?

For GOOD LUCK in the coming year!

What's that doing in a church "service"?

Well, it's "eastern orthodoxy"...

Gospel?

Nope.

Folk-superstitious nonsense and idolatry??

Yep.

EDIT TO ADD: talk about perfect timing! I just received this email from my former Serbian church, with regard to tomorrow night's service.

Ah, yes...it's the BLESSING OF THE YULE LOG...where the pine tree gets blessed with holy water, people break off the branches, and then they go outside to burn them!!
 

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Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Ukraine is a tricky situation. On one hand, since Poland and Austria had historically conquered parts of Ukraine and brought Catholicism to it, the Pope decided to give a pro-Filioque version of the liturgy. That way the commoner in Ukraine could say the Slavonic liturgy while formally swearing fealty to the Pope. Eastern Ukrainians, having a more Russian bent, pushed back against this.

Then there is the question of just how much control the CIA has over Kiev and Constantinople. The Patriarch of Constantinople is just as wishy-washy as the Pope; he just doesn't go out of his way to say outrageous things that can be misinterpreted.

Many of us saw this coming. Russia will be the vanguard of Orthodoxy in the world, for better or worse. This is just a step to it.

Yeah, those Eastern Rite Ukrainians are an interesting bunch. You go to their services, and you think you're in an "eastern orthodox" church with the hundreds of icons, smells, and bells, the iconostasis, and most people have prayer ropes rather than rosaries. Yet....they're in communion with Rome.

True about Kiev and "Constantinople" and potential CIA influence: I don't doubt at all that there are some Western-instigated shenanigans here: we're definitely poking the bear, and this situation with the Ukrainian churches is just one more avenue that's ripe to exploit to enflame the situation on the ground even more.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
Many of us saw this coming. Russia will be the vanguard of Orthodoxy in the world, for better or worse. This is just a step to it.

One thing I've gotta add (re Russia as the vanguard of Orthodoxy), many of these American converts to the eastern "church" have a thing for Russia. Most of them seek out Russian churches in particular, and they do so because they want to be Putin fan boys and LARP like "based Russians."

I have literally seen a half-dozen converts, men in their mid-20s to mid-30s, who would always wear Putin t-shirts and hang Russian flags in their apartments, even though they had Welsh, Norwegian, Dutch or other western European backgrounds and nary a drop of Russian blood.

They were all also under this delusion that Russia, today, is some Christian paradise where everyone is "Russian Orthodox" and orthodox churches are popping up all over the place thanks to Putin! (This is actually a very common myth, it seems, among many American converts today, as I see it all over the "orthosphere" out on social media...)

But then things got really hilarious when all of these guys were reaching out to women in Russia, looking for Russian wives, and found out from them that their picture of "Christian paradise Russia" was a false one, and that something like only 1% of the "orthodox Christians" in Russia even bother to go to church once a week and that most young people in Russia hate the Russian "church."

LOL fun times.
 
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hammondjones

Puritan Board Junior
I find the entire subject fascinating and foreign. We briefly covered Moscow as Third Rome in Church History. Pretty much all I know about the Russian church is from Dostoevsky.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
One thing I've gotta add (re Russia as the vanguard of Orthodoxy), many of these American converts to the eastern "church" have a thing for Russia. Most of them seek out Russian churches in particular, and they do so because they want to be Putin fan boys and LARP like "based Russians."

I have literally seen a half-dozen converts, men in their mid-20s to mid-30s, who would always wear Putin t-shirts and hang Russian flags in their apartments, even though they had Welsh, Norwegian, Dutch or other western European backgrounds and nary a drop of Russian blood.

They were all also under this delusion that Russia, today, is some Christian paradise where everyone is "Russian Orthodox" and orthodox churches are popping up all over the place thanks to Putin! (This is actually a very common myth, it seems, among many American converts today, as I see it all over the "orthosphere" out on social media...)

But then things got really hilarious when all of these guys were reaching out to women in Russia, looking for Russian wives, and found out from them that their picture of "Christian paradise Russia" was a false one, and that something like only 1% of the "orthodox Christians" in Russia even bother to go to church once a week and that most young people in Russia hate the Russian "church."

LOL fun times.

Yep. I know quite a few of these people.
 

PointyHaired Calvinist

Puritan Board Sophomore
The EO churches are a mess. I’m expecting the Ecumenical Patriarch and the churches he’s leading (who are moving in a decisively social liberal direction) to reunite with Rome in my lifetime. The Ecumenical and Russian patriarchs want to be little popes it seems.
 

CJW

Puritan Board Freshman
Yeah, those Eastern Rite Ukrainians are an interesting bunch. You go to their services, and you think you're in an "eastern orthodox" church with the hundreds of icons, smells, and bells, the iconostasis, and most people have prayer ropes rather than rosaries. Yet....they're in communion with Rome.

True about Kiev and "Constantinople" and potential CIA influence: I don't doubt at all that there are some Western-instigated shenanigans here: we're definitely poking the bear, and this situation with the Ukrainian churches is just one more avenue that's ripe to exploit to enflame the situation on the ground even more.

Much like the Anglican rite Romish churches. Their prayer book is almost word for the word the Cranmer BCP. Until you get to the ‘Eucharist’ where things head in a decidedly Romish direction. I only ever visited one once, when some Romish co-workers were trying to convert me. Their refusing me the elements spoke volumes about what they really think :)


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
I wonder if the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church makes the decisions he makes only after getting a wink and a nod from Putin.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
The Ecumenical and Russian patriarchs want to be little popes it seems.

Indeed! And that was another eye-opener, as, when you read standard EO literature, or become catechized in the EO church, you will hear the usual yarn about how "Here in the East, all bishops are of equal rank, not like the bishop in Rome!"

Um, yeah, sure. This very incident shows just how false that is.

No other bishop in Russia can tell the Alexandrian Church "We are now out of communion!" and try to get churches in Africa to break from Alexandria and ally themselves with Moscow.

And Barty the EP keeps dropping the "I am First Among Equals!" line lately and thinks himself to be the head of all the Eastern "churches", just like the Pope in Rome.

It really is a confusing mess over there.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I wonder if the reference to the Alexandrian Patriarch refers to the Chalcedonian churches in Africa, few as they are. I can't imagine it would apply to the Copts.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
I wonder if the reference to the Alexandrian Patriarch refers to the Chalcedonian churches in Africa, few as they are. I can't imagine it would apply to the Copts.

Yep. Only the Chalcedonian churches. Pope Tawadros II probably has more souls under him than does Alexandria.
 

bookish_Basset

Puritan Board Freshman
The Eastern schisms baffle me. Speaking of Ukraine, a very close friend converted to Orthodoxy by way of the schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate (the one under Patriarch Philaret). I've tried several times to grasp how the Kiev Patriarchate fits into everything, who they're in communion with and who they're not, but I get confused each time.

Her family eventually joined a ROCOR parish instead because they wanted to be somewhere more mainstream. I think they had to go through the entire conversion process over again -- sacraments and all.
 

Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
The Eastern schisms baffle me. Speaking of Ukraine, a very close friend converted to Orthodoxy by way of the schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate (the one under Patriarch Philaret). I've tried several times to grasp how the Kiev Patriarchate fits into everything, who they're in communion with and who they're not, but I get confused each time.

Her family eventually joined a ROCOR parish instead because they wanted to be somewhere more mainstream. I think they had to go through the entire conversion process over again -- sacraments and all.

These schisms certainly do expose a lot of warts and myths of the EO church, that's for sure. I find myself laughing at how Kyrill is actively seeking out churches that will be "loyal to him" and not the Patriarch in Alexandria on the African continent, like he's playing a game of Risk and he's seeking to put some red plastic pieces on the gameboard in Africa.

It's all worldly politics.
 
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Brian T

Puritan Board Freshman
The Eastern schisms baffle me. Speaking of Ukraine, a very close friend converted to Orthodoxy by way of the schismatic Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate (the one under Patriarch Philaret). I've tried several times to grasp how the Kiev Patriarchate fits into everything, who they're in communion with and who they're not, but I get confused each time.

Her family eventually joined a ROCOR parish instead because they wanted to be somewhere more mainstream. I think they had to go through the entire conversion process over again -- sacraments and all.

Yep, most ROCOR parishes in my experience at least, insist on doing the whole conversion process all over again if you are coming from any church outside of the 14 autocephalous churches, to the point where they even recommend re-baptism.

And speaking of the conversion process, I wonder how many here know that, when you convert to the EO "church", one of the "anathemas" you have to publicly renounce is the Filioque. If you believe in the Filioque, you are damned apparently.

That Filioque is a MAJOR problem for them and they just won't let it go.
 
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