Talk:Responses to OCA autocephaly

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Does this mean the OCA is not legitimate in the eyes of the Ecumenical Patriarch?

If I belong to the OCA, and the OCA is not autocephalous, whose jurisdiction would they consider me to be under? Am I "noncanonical" then??? Rakovsky 02:56, August 17, 2006 (CDT)

I don't know for certain, but ISTM that because the OCA and Moscow are in good communion with each other, the Ecumenical Patriarch would, in liturgic settings, consider the OCA to be a metropolis of Moscow. No one in MCB Orthodoxy considers the OCA to be uncanonical - hierarchs and priests of the OCA and of the Ecumenical Patriarch can - and do - concelebrate. — edited by Pιsτévο talk complaints at 03:51, August 17, 2006 (CDT)
As a priest of the OCA, that's my understanding too. — FrJohn (talk)
Yep, though it's not just the EP, but any of the churches which don't recognize the OCA's autocephaly. As far as I know (and my knowledge may well be out of date), only Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Georgia, and the Czech/Slovak churches recognize it (essentially the churches in former Soviet republics which are now independent of the MP). The other nine autocephalous churches do not. When there are international "pan-Orthodox" conferences, the order set by the presiding church (the EP) is used. (See: List of autocephalous and autonomous Churches.) Generally speaking, the OCA does not participate in such conferences, anyhow (possibly because the MP does not invite them as part of its delegation, the only way they'd be universally accepted). —Dcn. Andrew talk contribs 14:39, August 17, 2006 (CDT)

Re: "If I belong to the OCA, and the OCA is not autocephalous, whose jurisdiction would they consider me to be under? Am I "noncanonical" then???" Good question. We started out in a mess at St. Mary of Egypt in Kansas City (David Altschull-Father Paisius). We were with one group in California (Russian), then another in New York (Greek) and it seemed that at every turn we were non-canonical. We eventually ended up in the Serbian Church and we established communion with the other jurisdictions. I was re-Chrismated actually. Through it all, our Orthodoxy was intact but our Church was on the fringe. There have been worse messes, Bulgaria and Ukraine and Georgia come to mind. Meantime, the question most important is, are you in communion with the other jurisdictions. Evidently you are. The rest will be worked out in time. Thomas Simmons 01:51 11 March 2007 (EPT)

Title of Article

It seems to me that this article is wrongly titled. Since this is a modern issue, none of the subjects of this article belong in any way to the Byzantine Empire (any more, that is, than the election of Sarkozy is an event belonging to the Roman Empire). On the other hand, the subjects in question identify themselves (and this is surely what is most important for the title of an encyclopedic article) as Greek Orthodox. On this basis, does anyone have any objections to the retitling of the article 'Greek Orthodox responses ...'? Seminarist 15:29, May 16, 2008 (UTC)

That sounds like a good idea. --Fr Lev 15:32, May 16, 2008 (UTC)

The problem with Greek Orthodox as a term is that it is too easily identified with Greekness as an ethnicity. It is true that the Orthodox of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem do use the term Greek Orthodox in some contexts (though Rum Orthodox, i.e. "Roman" Orthodox, is the term in Arabic), but their faithful are mostly not ethnic Greeks and Greek Orthodox is not the term used in the English speaking world for many of them.
Byzantine makes the most sense to me since it is what at least liturgically and culturally groups these churches together, i.e., their having been part of the Byzantine commonwealth. They are the churches of the Byzantine world, despite that world no longer having any political existence. Unfortunately, there really is no one term that would seem to define all these groups together adequately. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 19:01, May 16, 2008 (UTC)
The other part is that, in the eyes of many, 'Greek Orthodox' is analogous to 'Roman Catholic' - i.e. that 'Greek Orthodox' means 'all Orthodox Churches', which connotes itself to meaning that Orthodoxy in general is opposed to OCA autocephaly - which is not the case (since 5 of 14 support it). — by Pιsτévο talk complaints at 21:28, May 16, 2008 (UTC)

How about "Objections to OCA Autocephaly"? --Fr Lev 21:38, May 16, 2008 (UTC)

That's a bit better in terms of a neutral approach, but it doesn't make it clear that the article is about a historical response rather than simply listing objections. It also doesn't make it clear that there really is something all those objecting had in common, that they are from the generally Byzantine "pole" of Orthodoxy (as it's currently institutionalized) rather than the Muscovite one. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 22:44, May 16, 2008 (UTC)

I must say that I'm very uncomfortable with some of the lines of reasoning above, which seem very far from straightforward neutrality:

Of course the Patriarchate of Antioch uses the term 'Rum' in Arabic. But in English, it calls itself the 'Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch' - just as the Patriarchate of Jerusalem calls itself the 'Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem'. In fact, all of the Churches characterised in this article as 'Byzantine' in fact call themselves 'Greek Orthodox' in English. None of them, however, call themselves 'Byzantine'.

Against suggestions to the contrary, within Orthodoxy, the expression 'Greek Orthodox' simply does not denote an ethnicity, but rather an ecclesio-liturgical heritage. The Churches which call themselves 'Greek Orthodox' are all territorial not ethnic Churches, and they have many members which are not ethnically Greek - the Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem, indeed, are predominately non-Hellenic in ethnicity. As such, there's no sense that 'Greek Orthodox' is in its proper sense an ethnic designation. (Of course, one of the things which sometimes creates the false impression that 'Greek Orthodox' is an ethnic characterisation are Orthodox people who refuse to allow the expression to be used in anything other than an ethnic sense.)

Moreover, there is in reality no such thing as an 'institutionalized' 'Byzantine "pole" of Orthodoxy'. There are different Churches, none of which call themselves 'Byzantine'. Byzantium is a past historical phenomenon, whereas these Churches are living realities in the present, and it does them a great disservice to characterise these Churches primarily as 'Byzantine', as to do so makes them look like relics of a bygone empire. (Indeed, what these Churches have in common is not especially Byzantine - none of their members have been Byzantines since for the last 500 years; many of their saints - e.g. St John of Damascus - were never Byzantines; their liturgical books are in several respects further removed in content from Byzantine liturgy than are, e.g. Slavic liturgical books; and their liturgical music is for the most part to be dated to the Turkokrateia, not to Byzantium.) Accordingly, to call these Churches 'Byzantine' seems rather disingenuous.

So, since all of the Churches which are being grouped in this article are 'Byzantine' in fact call themselves 'Greek Orthodox', and since none of them call themselves 'Byzantine', shall we not call them what they call themselves - 'Greek Orthodox'? Really, there is no good and neutral reason for denying them their own self-chosen name. Seminarist 02:20, May 17, 2008 (UTC)

How about "Greek Objections to OCA Autocephaly"? --Fr Lev 02:33, May 17, 2008 (UTC)

Would work if it didn't include the Patriarch of Antioch (as Patr. Elias was an Arab) - since 'Greek' can't be interpreted as anything other than ethnicity.
Perhaps 'Inter-Orthodox reactions to OCA autocephaly' would do the trick? Reactions does mean something fairly immediate, after all. Or 'repercussions'. — by Pιsτévο talk complaints at 02:46, May 17, 2008 (UTC)
It is true that the Church of Antioch is known as "Greek Orthodox" in its official documents, but the vast majority of the English-speaking world refers to it as "Antiochian," which is reflected in the official names of Antioch's dioceses among Anglophones. It's not a question of "denying" official names but of using the term most familiar to English-speaking Orthodox which leads them immediately to understand what's being referred to. I firmly believe that Greek Orthodox response to OCA autocephaly would be interpreted by most English-speaking Orthodox to refer solely to a response from the Church of Greece (many aren't even aware that the Greek Orthodox of the diaspora are under Constantinople!).
How about Ancient patriarchates' response to OCA autocephaly? That doesn't precisely include the Church of Greece, though it might be a good compromise name. My concern with Pistevo's wording is that it would require the article to be expanded considerably to include the "other side" of the question, which isn't adequately covered in the sources (Anyone have some other sources? Was there even a response from all the churches?). —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 13:12, May 17, 2008 (UTC)
I'd agree with "Ancient patriarchates'", particularly if some of the others were created as redirect pages (for Google's benefit or whatnot). — by Pιsτévο talk complaints at 01:20, May 18, 2008 (UTC)
I don't think 'Ancient Patriarchates' will do, since one of the subjects of the article is the Church of Greece, which is neither ancient nor a patriarchate. As such, the title is positively inaccurate and really won't do.
I do understand the comment about 'Antiochian' being a normal adjectival designation of the Church of Antioch in the US. And were the article primarily about the American Antiochian Archdiocese, I would agree that 'Greek Orthodox' would not be the best description. However, the article is not primarily concerned with the American Antiochians, but with the Patriarchate of Antioch in Damascus - which does call itself 'Greek Orthodox' rather than 'Antiochian'.
It's very clear that the subjects of this article all identify themselves as 'Greek Orthodox', and that the meaning of the expression 'Greek Orthodox' within worldwide Orthodoxy is not to denote an ethnic group but to denote the ecclesio-liturgical tradition of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Greece, Cyprus, Sinai. And whilst the expression 'Greek Orthodox' does specifically identify the Churches which are the subject of this article, I can't think of any other suitable expressions which do so - nor do any others seem forthcoming.
As for the issue about people misunderstanding the meaning of 'Greek Orthodox', I simply don't agree that the title 'Greek Orthodox' is misleading. Within worldwide Orthodoxy, there's no difficulty with recognising the unity of the Greek Orthodox Churches as 'Greek Orthodox'. Maybe there are a few people who don't know what the expression means, and maybe there are even a few who would like to suppress the expression 'Greek Orthodox'. But neither consideration justifies not allowing the expression 'Greek Orthodox' to be used in its proper Orthodox sense in an Orthodox wiki (particularly when there are no obvious alternatives).
I think that there is a general principle that when an expression has a proper sense within Orthodoxy, Orthodoxwiki should not avoid using it (particularly where there seem to be no suitable alternatives) 'just in case' someone doesn't understand it.
(In fact, it seems to me that the argument against using the expression 'Greek Orthodox' is this: We suspect that some people will incorrectly understand the expression 'Greek Orthodox' to mean an ethnic group; therefore we should not use the expression 'Greek Orthodox' in its normal ecclesio-liturgical sense [implying that the only sense in which we should allow the expression to be used is in the incorrect ethnic sense]. I really don't find such reasoning convincing.)
So I say again: these Churches all call themselves 'Greek Orthodox'; there are no alternative locutions forthcoming; so let's describe these Churches by the description with which they describe themselves - 'Greek Orthodox'. Seminarist 02:46, May 18, 2008 (UTC)
The standard differentiation that I've seen between the two predominant liturgic traditions in Orthodoxy is 'Byzantine' and 'Slavic'. Clothe it in as much theological callisthenics as you like, the two overwhelmingly predominant usages of the term 'Greek Orthodox' is either for 'belonging to the Churches of either Constantinople or Greece' and/or 'the Eastern Orthodox Church under a different name', and OrthodoxWiki is not the place to initiate a change in meaning for terminology, simply where accepted terminology is used in the way that it is commonly understood.
Even if we accept that, the Churches of Cyprus and Albania (not sure on which side Romania stands) did not respond to the proclamation of autocephaly, so it has equal or lesser justification than 'Ancient Patriarchates'. — by Pιsτévο talk complaints at 05:52, May 18, 2008 (UTC)
I don't want to be sharp here, but it's simply not true to say that those are the two 'overwhelmingly predominant uses' of the term. The fact is that the Churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Greece, etc. all call themselves Greek Orthodox, and everywhere these Churches are to be found you find this use of the term 'Greek Orthodox'. Since this usage not only widespread but also (and more importantly) the chosen self-designation of these Churches, it is not only a common usage, but also a proper and normative usage, and in this sense is far more appropriate than the non-normative and inaccurate description of 'ancient patriarchates'.
I'm sure you'd agree that it should be a principle of an encyclopedic article that it should use terms in their proper senses, and that it should call Churches by the names which they themselves call themselves. I think to refuse to do so is really to impose a personal POV onto the article.
I suspect that if your linguistic observations hold anywhere, they hold within elements the Antiochian Archdiocese in America and within some non-Arab converts who belong to Antiochian Churches in Britain or former British territories. But these are very particular cases motivated by desire to distinguish Antiochian Churches and Antiochian non-ethnic ecclesiality from Constantinoplitan Churches and 'Greek ethnicism'. But such usage is particular and certainly not normal across worldwide Orthodoxy. I think there's a danger here of projecting non-standard anglophone-convert linguistic usages onto Orthodoxy as a whole.
BTW, if in fact the Church of Cyprus did not make a declaration re OCA autocephaly, that does not invalidate entitling this article 'Greek Orthodox responses', since the scope of the article is to cover all Greek Orthodox responses to OCA autocephaly, and the non-response of Cyprus does not mean that the other responses are not collectively 'the Greek Orthodox responses to OCA autocephaly' (i.e. all the Greek Orthodox responses which in fact exist). However, since the Church of Greece did respond and since it is not an 'ancient patriarchate' it is positively wrong to title the article 'responses of Ancient Patriarchates'. Seminarist 16:53, May 18, 2008 (UTC)

When it comes to liturgical usages, I've always heard "Byzantine" and "Greek" used interchangably, and the same with "Slavic" and "Russian", so I don't think an appeal to liturgical usages should be dispositive. In which tradition does the Church of Georgia stand? It began under the influence of the Byzantine Empire and was then under the jurisdiction of the Church of Antioch, although it was politically a part of the Soviet Union. I think "Byzantine" is at least as misleading as "Greek." The least misleading solution would be to call the article "Responses to ..." without any qualifier for "responses." The article should then also feature the Churches that have recognized the OCA's autocephaly. There should also be a change to the folowing sentence in the article: "The Muscovite-Metropolia arguments (made on canonical, historical and practical grounds) being refuted by the Byzantine Orthodox world may essentially be summarized ...." The primary meaning of "refute" is "to prove wrong", and I assume that this isn't NPOV. --Fr Lev 11:42, May 18, 2008 (UTC)

I certainly agree that 'Byzantine' is at least as misleading as 'Greek'. But I would like to push it a little further. Talking about 'Byzantine' liturgy, etc. etc. is a distinctively modern usage, belonging to a movement in Greece which is centred in Thessaloniki, and which dates from the end of the first half of the twentieth century, and which sought to go 'back to Byzantium'. It is a contentious matter within the Greek world. To give one example, in Cyprus there is a hostility towards the elimination of local Cypriot traditions (e.g. in liturgy or in the style of Church architecture) by people (often priests trained in Thessaloniki) who import this non-Cypriot 'Byzantine' style into Cyprus. And, it is a fact that in many respects the contemporary Greek liturgy (the liturgy which gets called 'Byzantine') contains developments which are considerably less than 500 years old, and which are not contained in the Slavic liturgies (which are translations of older, and genuinely Byzantine, forms of Greek liturgy), so that in these respects, the Slavic liturgies are more 'Byzantine' than the ones which are called 'Byzantine'.
I agree with your point re the Church of Georgia. I think a similar point can be made with the Romanian Church. In such cases you have Churches which historically have been Byzantine, but which have subsequently undergone a degree of separate liturgical sufficient to make it problematic to speak of them as 'Greek Orthodox' Churches. I certainly would not want to call either 'Greek Orthodox', but think that they are rather distinctive traditions, which combine Greek, Russian and indigenous elements.
I also agree with your observations on the POV sentence. Seminarist 16:53, May 18, 2008 (UTC)

In hopes that this may provide a bit of focus in this discussion:

  • Remember that article titles are not to make some sort of statement or represent anyone's official position.
  • Article titles should use the most common term in English-speaking Orthodoxy (with some allowance made for extremely common usages outside Orthodoxy in certain cases).
  • The point in titling articles is to help the reader find what he's looking for. An article with an obscure but "technically correct" title is less likely even to be read.

All that being said, I honestly don't think there's a single term which groups the churches in question in this article (EP, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem & Greece) all together in a way which is technically correct and yet also meaningful in terms of what they have in common (something which Fr. John Romanides terms Romanity, which is a lovely term but meaningless to most readers). Byzantine is the best I can come up with, but I acknowledge that it's not accurate in all possible ways. Just how does one describe with a single term those multi-ethnic, multi-national churches which share a heritage arising from a shared history in the Eastern Roman Empire and the strong liturgical influence of the typikon of the Great Church? "Mediterranean Orthodox" might work, but it's altogether a bit too fanciful and not remotely clear in what it refers to.

What does seem to be clear is that there was a united front which opposed the OCA's autocephaly when it was declared and that that front has a great deal in common. How one describes what it is they have in common in a single term which is recognizable to the non-specialist (i.e., 99% of encyclopedia readers) is the question for the titling of this article.

Please, folks, make sure you read the Style Manual, because it addresses most (though not all) of the arguments put forward here thus far, and it does represent official OrthodoxWiki policy. Policy is of course always negotiable, but you'll have a lot of convincing to do of the entire administration.


Anyway, I'd be willing to settle for Response to OCA autocephaly with redirects from Byzantine response to... and Greek Orthodox response to... I don't think it's the best option—since it leaves out entirely the very something ("Romanity?") which these churches share, and it also then necessitates a major reworking of the article to include the positive responses, as well—but if it's the consensus favorite, I'd be willing to run with it.


And, by the way, refute can mean "to prove wrong by argument or evidence," but it also can mean "to deny the truth or accuracy of." Just because one offers a refutation does not necessarily mean one is correct. Rebut may well be better, though. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 01:26, May 20, 2008 (UTC)

Really ... proving one has the biggest dictionary ... boys will be boys ... Seminarist 06:21, May 20, 2008 (UTC)

Church Formal Position

No matter how much you all discuss these matters, you MUST follow the churches formal terminologies otherwise (a) You DO NOT represent the Chalcedonean Church (as your core objectives state) and (b) you are in breach of the formal approach of the church - and who are all of you to change what the church has as official? Be carefull that you all do not end up creating your OWN religion without the approvals of the church ... Vasiliki 05:00, May 19, 2008 (UTC)

With all respect, Vasiliki, what are you talking about? Do you really believe that trying to come up with useful titles for encyclopedia articles which may happen to differ from official nomenclature is a betrayal of Orthodoxy? A different religion? (Not to mention that the official names of various churches have changed over the centuries!)
In any event, I cannot see how it would be even remotely useful to have an article entitled Response of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, New Rome; the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa; the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East; the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine; and the Orthodox Church of Greece to the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America (sic). Heck, why stop there? Shouldn't we be giving those titles in Katherevousa and Arabic, if we want to be really accurate? Forgive my somewhat exaggerated and incredulous language here, but it seems to be the only appropriate way to answer a near-accusation of heresy being tossed out for the heinous sin of titling articles!
All that aside, it is explicitly against OrthodoxWiki policy for editorial control of the wiki to be placed in the hands of ecclesiastical authorities, mainly because they sometimes differ from one another or even from the truth itself! Please, Vasiliki, let us use common sense. Full ecclesiastical titles are too unwieldy to use as article titles in many cases, and this is one of them. —Fr. Andrew talk contribs (THINK!) 01:08, May 20, 2008 (UTC)

Dont jump down my throat and assume that I am asking for you to use the term Greek Orthodox or to use LONG extensive titles but cant you all keep it simple and perhaps rephrase the entire sentence to keep the conflict out of the article and the endless pages of discussions which end up being confusing in themselves? Byzantine is not a correct term to use (full stop) and the OCA is now within the church so why you guys have endless pages of discussion is beyond my understanding ... perpaps give it a date? Something like "Response to the OCA 1200-1500" (I dont know what the period of time that you guys are referring to ... and I am more than happy for you to call me an idiot one more time! Foolishness is a great quality! Vasiliki 01:37, May 20, 2008 (UTC)

You are also wrong in assuming that I have asked you to give control to an Ecclesiastical body. However, since this site is representing the church I am suggesting that we should still observe the formalities of the church. Vasiliki

I also want to point out that I am not a political person who has certain 'bias' towards any particular church and even though I am Greek please do not go assuming everytime I post an opinion that I am a pro-Nationalist Greek and respond in a manner that clearly shows that that is what you think I am thinking. I dont have agendas I am not smart enough for that ... I just am interested in reminding people of humility and humility includes not going overboard on certain topics that are not within our right to 'define'. Vasiliki 02:03, May 20, 2008 (UTC)

Common Sense, or Anti-Greek Madness??

Fr Andrew, I can't accept this POV hostility towards Greek Orthodoxy.

Let's look at the issue: these Churches are all Greek Orthodox Churches - they all call themselves "Greek Orthodox". Even the Patriarchate of Antioch is the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. This is really simple - I can't believe that that you're wriggling to avoid this with bogus objections.

Let's be clear on the facts:

  1. It is not 'obscure' to call a Church by its own name.
  2. The title 'Greek Orthodox' is not a 'specialist' title - it is the title these Churches put on press-releases, and it is the title they are routinely accorded in the media.

Look at the rationality of the position you're maintaining: you are saying that these Churches should not be called 'Greek Orthodox Churches' - even though (a) they call themselves 'Greek Orthodox'; and even though (b) the media calls them 'Greek Orthodox'. You're saying that, whilst the title 'Greek Orthodox' is good enough for the Churches themselves, and whilst it's good enough for the media, it's not good enough for Orthodoxwiki!

Tell me you've not got a POV agenda!

I don't agree with changing the scope of the article. The article just needs to be given a proper name, not rewritten. It's obvious that the article is about Greek Orthodox responses to OCA autocephaly; it's obvious that there is no more suitable collective title for these Churches than 'Greek Orthodox'; and therefore it's obvious that the title should be 'Greek Orthodox responses to OCA autocephaly'... Surely we can finally agree on that?? Seminarist 06:21, May 20, 2008 (UTC)

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