No, the Orthodox Church is not giving Joe Biden its highest award

Joe Biden on a tour of Decani Monastery in Kosovo (From Wikimedia Commons)
Joe Biden on a tour of Decani Monastery in Kosovo
(From Wikimedia Commons)

Where does one even begin?

An embarrassingly problematic article appeared yesterday on the pro-life website LifeSiteNews (which, despite its problems, helps to fill in the gap left by mainstream media on abortion coverage) announcing that “The Orthodox Church is giving pro-abort Joe Biden its highest award – and these priests are outraged.”

First, some quick fact-checking on the headline itself:

  1. “The Orthodox Church” is not giving any such thing. The award is being given by the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is a lay organization with clergy as advisors. They are the ones giving the award.
  2. The Orthodox Church has no “highest award.” This is just silly. Facts, canons, history, please? Indeed, the Orthodox Church doesn’t give awards. Individual bishops and synods can and do. But (see above) no bishop is giving any award here.

And, in case you’re still reading, there’s more.

First, why exactly does the piece start out “ISTANBUL, September 16, 2015”? Is the author there? Is the award being given there? Is something happening there? Doesn’t seem like it.

The piece begins by saying that “A firestorm of controversy has erupted in the Orthodox Church.” Really? Where? Outside of this piece and the couple of spots it’s been reposted, there literally does not seem to be a firestorm about this anywhere.

It further says that this “firestorm” is “over its Ecumenical Patriarch planning to honor vice president and possible presidential candidate Joe Biden.” (He’s not. See above.)

There are a lot of other problems with this piece, which is really much more about the politics of Orthodoxy in America than about what Joe Biden is being given. The whole thing is really a bit silly, since it is little more than a kind of “book report” on a blog post from the “Monomakhos” blog (which as of this writing seems to have been taken down) and its accompanying comments.

The piece is also literally not actually engaging with anyone involved in the affair. Where are the spokesmen for the vice president, the Archons, the Ecumenical Patriarchate or the Greek Archdiocese? They apparently don’t have anything to say about it. They can’t even seem to find a single priest of the Greek Archdiocese to talk to, despite the GOA being the largest Orthodox jurisdiction in America (larger than all the rest combined).

Instead, we first hear from the author of the “Monomakhos” blog (who has a long history of complaining about the Greek Archdiocese), which this article informs us is “the most popular Orthodox blog on the internet” (really?). And the “money” quote from that blog’s author pours on the errors: “I am appalled at how the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is so slavish to hear the praises of the marketplace, that they would bestow an award on the vice president of the most Anti-Christian administration in history.” Now, it’s the Greek Archdiocese which is supposedly granting this award. (It’s not. See above.)

The piece later says–in the eleventh paragraph–that it’s the Archons who are giving the award. (Which is correct. Finally!)

In case you’re keeping track, this article claims that the award is being given by (in order of appearance) 1) the Orthodox Church, 2) the Ecumenical Patriarch, 3) the Greek Archdiocese and 4) the Archons. The article can’t seem to make up its mind who’s giving this award.

The author finds other critics to give quotes (it’s not clear where he got them from; is he a journalist? I suspect he culled them from that defunct blog post; maybe these are email buddies), and as far as they are pro-life, they are fine. One can also find some grounds on which to criticize some church leaders for not being as strongly pro-life as they could be, but there is actually a whole lot about abortion on the Greek Archdiocese website, none of it promoting it, excusing it, etc. None of that gets quoted here, of course.

Yes, of course Biden can be criticized on abortion—though he has said that, as a Roman Catholic, he is personally opposed to it and believes life begins at conception though would not “impose” that view on others. (That view, is of course, sadly inconsistent. If a conceived person is a person, then that transcends differences of opinion.)

And no, I don’t think it’s a good idea for a church-related organization to be giving politicians awards like this. It mostly strikes me as a bit tone-deaf. I understand the desire to protect and promote the wellbeing of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is what the Archons are for, but I think there are better ways to do that.

But, let’s be honest–this is basically a hit piece on how much the author doesn’t like the Greek Archdiocese or its mother church the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The GOA, we are told, has no “concrete concern for evangelism – just a sense of urgency to teach Sunday school children how to conjugate Greek verbs and learn the superiority of Greek cultural contributions to society.”

If you’re going to make those kinds of sweeping statements, you should really have something to back them up. But there isn’t anything. And I personally have experience with concern for evangelism in the Greek Archdiocese (I am scheduled to speak at an evangelism event for a GOA parish in November–this will be at least the third GOA parish where I’ve spoken on evangelism or for that purpose), which actually has a whole department dedicated to it. (And there are nearly 3,400 hits on the word “evangelism” available via a Google search on the GOA website.)

He also gives a list of things that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has supposedly never weighed in on. Well, here are links to the EP or the GOA and its leaders weighing in on just about all of these topics: atheism (“cultural abandonment of God”?), abortion, stem cell research, homosexuality, pornography, transgenderism, fornication. Forgive the snarkiness, but I kind of wonder whether the author is familiar with the popular Google website.

There is so much more one could say about this piece of yellow journalism, but I’ll stop there.

Normally, I would not engage in this sort of response, since I don’t think this kind of thing is worth much of a response. But I’ve seen this getting shared a lot on social media, and it’s a scandalously damaging piece that sullies the reputation of the Orthodox Church and harms our witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In short: Don’t take that piece seriously. Pray for church leaders. Criticize them appropriately, honestly and with love. Stand up for the unborn.

And please, stop biting at fellow Orthodox Christians. This doesn’t help.


UPDATE: Just to make it clear (which I thought I had, but you know–Internet), I will summarize my own thoughts about Joe Biden, the award, etc.:

I would never vote for the man, primarily because of his record on abortion (other stuff, too). I think the Archons should not give him this award.

I think that Orthodox Christian politicians (which Biden is not–he’s Roman Catholic) who support abortion and other grave offenses to our moral tradition ought to be excommunicated until such time as they repent.

I have no problem calling to task clergy who publicly support such politicians (Orthodox or not) without criticizing those politicians on such moral shortcomings.

(But none of that, of course, is what my article was about. But if I were going to write that article, the above would be its main points.)

55 comments:

    1. So many articles require explanation of what is less than professional in them! Opinion seems to be the thing that drives “information”, opinion and blame. I believe we need to respond slowly, more than ever when we write or think about what is written. If not slowly then accurately, and who can do that in our times?

  1. As an Oriental Orthodox priest in America, I was saddened to see the in-fighting and division caused by all of this confusion.

    Thank you, Fr. Andrew, for finally highlighting the truth.

    Certainly, if the Archons feel it is necessary to confer such an award on Mr. Biden, they have the right to do so, but one wonders if the resulting fallout is worth it when the Church especially needs to gather and strengthen Her faithful in America. The Holy Apostle’s injunction in 1 Cor 8:13 comes to mind.

  2. Sadly, this is all too typical of LifeSiteNews (some call it “LieSiteNews”). It is a fake news organization that has long had little commitment to the facts. Best ignoring it.

    1. I think you ought to back that accusation up with a few facts yourself, Katherine.

      Can you document a lie that LifeSiteNews has published?

      1. Father,

        Just one quick question. Who will be handing the award to the VP and will be in all the Photos? It will be the Archbishop. I suspect, but could be wrong, that His All Holiness will also provide a statement that will be read on his behalf that evening. You can see from the publicity that has already gone out to invitees, His Eminence has already made praising comments in support of the honoree. I think it is a little misleading for you to say that this an award solely provided by a lay organization. Maybe correct in the letter of the law, but clearly not in the spirit of the law.

        Still respect and appreciate all the good work you have done. Your podcasts have been very helpful to me. But on this topic, I must disagree with your ascertion that GOA and EP are not involved in the selection process. They could still stop this if they wanted to.

        1. Absolutely correct! This award does not happen in a vacume! This group could NOT give an award like this without first getting a blessing from the EP, himself!

          This is moral apostasy! The Greek Church buzzes around the EP as bees buzz around the queen bee! Control is the name of the game in the EP. The EP, himself, is responsible.

          I knew you dear Father before you were a catechumen. I rejoice in all you do for our Holy Church and in the man of God the Holy Spirit has made you to be. However, you are pandering to the Greeks. This is your call to repentance and a request to stop quibbling. The EP is an adult and he is responsible for all of this. Your points are pandering.

          Yours,

          Hieromonk Joshua +
          The Hermitage of Saint Cornelius, (ROCOR).

          1. I’m just interested in the facts. Perhaps surprisingly, I get no kick-back checks from the EP for doing so. And if I can love “the Greeks” (who are people, not a category), then I will love them. Pointing out where people get their facts wrong isn’t pandering, though.

            And if it’s “moral apostasy” to award something to someone who happens to have committed some kind of sin, well, then every time a medal gets pinned on anyone or a plaque goes on anyone’s wall, that’s moral apostasy. As I wrote, I wouldn’t have given Biden this award, but he wasn’t given the award for his promotion of abortion legalization—that would have been moral apostasy.

            It’s important to think about these matters clearly and precisely.

            As for knowing me before I was a catechumen, well, that’s not possible, because we only met after I had been attending the parish for some months. I was received as a catechumen almost immediately after I arrived there (probably not the best idea, but that was almost 20 years ago and I don’t seem to be in any danger of bolting).

            I’m glad to see you seem to be doing well. I hadn’t heard you’d ended up in the ROCOR. I never could quite keep track of which jurisdiction you were in at any given moment. 🙂

  3. The EP Archons may be a lay organization, but they are still subject to the EP. He can stop this.

    This seems a bit like a hit piece on George Michalopulos and the priests who were interviewed by LifeSite–including Fr Patrick Henry Reardon. Fr Pat is not ignorant or uninformed.

    This also seems a bit like a hit piece on anyone who dares to be scandalized by what *is* scandalous.

    This reminds me of something that happened back in 2012:

    http://oca.org/news/headline-news/iocc-announces-20th-anniversary-celebration-in-may-2012

    http://www.orthodox.net/articles/iocc-and-paul-sarbanes-abortion-the-approval-of-the-ecumenical-throne.html

    1. Ms. Wintheiser’s comment, I’ll note, is nearly identical to that of one Brian Justinian Burnett on the “Traditional Orthodoxy (Canonical)” Facebook group:

      “”Not quite.

      1) The EP Archons may be a lay organization, but they are still subject to the EP. He can stop this.

      2) This is a hit piece in George Michalopulos and the priests who were interviewes by LifeSite–including Fr Patrick Henry Reardon, his fellow Antiochian. Fr Pat is not ignorant or uninformed, nor have I ever seen him on the wrong side of moral issues.

      This is a hit piece on those who would dare to be scandalized by what *is* scandalous, and tries to excuse it with pure legalistic sophistry.”

      I guess those are the official talking points.

  4. Forgive me, I am a new convert, so maybe I don’t understand how this works- but it appears to me, Fr. Andrew, by the links you posted- that there is indeed a special honor being given to Biden for his humanitarian work and from the website’s description of an Archon is that he is appointed by the Ec. Patriarch as one who is of outstanding Orthodox character and faithful to the faith and tradition. In my understanding, while he is not the Patriarch himself, to be appointed by him still makes him a representative of the Patriarch, and thus, the Church.

    1. Hello Matthew,

      I converted to the Orthodox Church over 30 years ago. One thing that you realize is that there are folks here that do un-Orthodox things. When you study the history of the Church you see that this isn’t something new. We are all fallible even the hierarchy. The Oecumenical Patriarch is not the pope of Rome. He is the “first among equals.” Recall Christ telling the “parable of the wheat and the tares” in Matt. 13:24? The Truth of the Apostolic Faith continues. Because some individual or group may stray the Holy Spirit will always guide the entire body of Christ expose that which is not holy.

  5. Fwiw, Fr Pat Reardon’s quote in the article was solicited by email and his response initially blasted out to his “Pastoral Ponderings” email subscribers (among which I number). As a huge fan of Fr Pat’s, I’d like to think he was somehow misled into providing so emphatic a quote. Here’s hoping.

  6. Thank you Father for clarifying. As you know V.P. Biden was also the keynote speaker at the recent GOA Clergy-Laity Convention in Philadelphia. Many GOA’ers (I was there with AFR) were upset about having an advocate of many social positions that contradict Church canons as the keynote speaker. While I appreciate the information (which I was not aware of) that it is the Archons giving the award, I still think the identification of the Phanar with a political leader who represents a political party that supports many secular practices and laws that are at odds with Orthodox teachings is less than exemplary. So many of our saints were martyred, exiled, had tongues cut off because they challenged and spoke out against the civil powers who taught and lived in contradiction to the virtues of the kingdom.

  7. It’s worth noting that VP Biden, despite the Obama administration’s many blind spots re human rights, *does* advocate for religious freedom and for Christians in Turkey and in the Middle East. This does not invalidate his other failures elsewhere, but his other failures elsewhere also do not invalidate this.

    It’s good to give an award to recognize that a person has done a good thing in an important area- to find and honor common ground. If all such awards were reserved only for the blameless, it would be impossible to honor many people who despite their failings have done heroic work for human rights, for religious freedom, and for persecuted Christians.

    FWIW, VP Biden will join President GHW Bush as a recipient of the award. If it’s a political thing, it’s at least bipartisan.

  8. “the most popular Orthodox blog on the internet” (really?)

    With all do respect Father, your sarcasm here is unbecoming. It is true that the monomakhos blog is critical of the GOA but it is also equally critical of every archdiocese in the US and abroad and I think it probably is the most read Orthodox blog on the internet. I’ve asked and seen the numbers and they would probably shock you. Whether or not you agree with it, which I don’t always, it is a dissenting voice at times, and offers a fair amount of praise as well. But the dissenting voice shouldn’t always be met with ridicule.

    On the subject at hand, it seems to me you are spinning yourself when you say they don’t represent the GOA, which they most certainly do. They do represent the phanar and it’s interest. I appreciate your saying they probably shouldn’t do these things, but you neglect to say that they do this kind of nonsense with frequency.

    Few non orthodox or those searching for the gospel read monomakhos, but many read the newspaper. Handing out awards to those who actively oppose the morality of the Church confuses the Gospel of Christ far more. I ask, where does the criticism truly belong?

    1. So, because there are some things about the EP or GOA worthy of criticism, all unproven slanders are permissible and those who speak them are above comment?

      I’ll have to disagree. Criticism belongs anywhere it belongs. This isn’t a game where we have to pick sides.

  9. Okay Father, all duly noted. But why the hell is he taking a picture with him? If the EP is meeting with him for any other reason than begging him to repent and pleading with him for the lives of millions of unborn children, then I am sickened by the picture alone.

    But what do we really know and understand about the EP? He refuses to allow a unified Orthodox archdiocese in America. And why? Quite simply, money. You know that, I know that, and everyone reading this post knows that. He is on a constant campaign trail looking for money. Knowing that and seeing the picture makes it completely unecessary for me to even read the article.

    The words in your article above are comforting only to a certain extent. Sure I’m glad he’s not giving Uncle Joe the “Church’s highest award” (the Church’s highest award being salvation, one could only wish this was true). But does he really want American money to save his Phanar? Money that is stained with the blood of unborn children? I’m afraid of the answer brother. The whole thing stinks and now I’m going to have to explain this to my conservative protestant brother clergy.

    Fr. George

    1. “But what do we really know and understand about the EP? He refuses to allow a unified Orthodox archdiocese in America. And why? Quite simply, money.”

      I have heard this many times but never seen any evidence for it. Got any?

      And all signs point to the GOA bishops pushing for unity. The ROCOR and Bulgarians have come out quite against it, however.

      Isn’t it time we stop repeating the “common wisdom” and actually check the facts?

      1. What kind of unity are the GOA bishops pushing? I doubt very much that it is for an administratively united, autocephalous church that was at one time the dream of the SCOBA leaders (Archbishop Iakovos, Metropolitan Philip and Metropolitan Ireney).

        1. Administrative unity — one bishop, one city. Canonical normalization.

          The ROCOR and Bulgarians have published letters explicitly calling for keeping the status quo.

          In any event, that’s not the point of this piece (and I’m not going to let the comments spiral toward all that). But it is rather tiresome that people keep repeating various things without giving evidence for them.

  10. Saying that the Archons aren’t the Greek Orthodox Church is as silly as saying my local Philoptochos chapter isn’t the Parish. Of course they are. Everything in the Church is done in the name of, and under the authority of, the Bishops. So it is quite correct to say that the Orthodox Church is giving Biden an award. Certainly nobody outside the Church will be able to tell the difference.

    While I think it would be a mistake to get too hysterical about all this, I think it is a legitimate debate to have as to whether we should be giving out awards to Roman Catholics who have consistently voted in favour of legal abortion. What evangelical purpose does it serve? Why give an award to someone whose beliefs would automatically exclude them from the Chalice? Better justification is needed than what has been given.

    1. If the Philoptochos of your parish did something, would it be correct to ascribe their action to the entire Orthodox Church? No, it wouldn’t. They do not speak for the whole Church but only for themselves. And the Archons are much more “parachurch” than a parish organization, since they are not subject to the usual authority structures. In any event, these things are not the same. That some people outside can’t tell the difference means they need to be educated, not have their ignorance indulged. (They can presumably tell the difference between when the Pope speaks and when the Knights of Columbus do, no?)

      Anyway, I agree that Biden is not the best guy for this award, which has had a rather interesting list of honorees: http://archons.org/AthenagorasAward/

      But whether Biden should get the award (which the piece couldn’t bother to get its facts straight on) is really just a vessel for the author’s parade of mostly unsubstantiated slanders against all things Greek Orthodox. That’s the bit I’m concerned with.

    2. The Greek Orthodox Church is in Greece and not in America, GOARCH represents a fraction of the “Greek Orthodox Church” (sic) worldwide, stop thinking like you are the centre of the world, you’re not, no-one here (in Greece) cares about your VP or to whom the EP is bestowing awards etc.

  11. Father Andrew – thank you so much for writing this! This is a tempest in a teapot.

    As you point out by linking to it, the list of recipients has indeed been varied: from religious figures like Mother Theresa, Archbishop Iakovos, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania and Archbishop Desmond Tutu to political figures like President George Bush and his wife Barbara, Senator Paul Sarbanes, Mikhail Gorbachev and President Jimmy Carter; prominent Greek businessmen like Nicholas Bouras and Alex Spanos; organizations ranging from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and IOCC to the Ladies Philoptochos Society and the Order of Ahepa; Jewish leaders like Rabbi Arthur Schnier and Nobel laureate Elie Weisel; and singer Nana Mouskouri. There is no religious or political common denominator. The honorees have been both Republicans and Democrats, as well as former Communists; Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians; citizens of India, South Africa and Russia – as well as many Americans. These people and organizations are being honored for the positive contributions they have made in an area of human rights and care for others. None of the recipients are, to my knowledge, saints – although Mother Theresa will probably be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church one day and I personally believe Archbishop Anastasios of Albania may one day be canonized by us – and some of them are not even Christians. Nor are the Archons endorsing every opinion the recipients may express by giving this award. The 2013 award given to “60 Minutes” was presented because of their coverage of the persecution of Christians in Turkey, Egypt, Syria and Iraq and the short documentary they did on Mt. Athos. This is not an endorsement of every political or religious opinion that may have been expressed on “60 Minutes” over the years.

    Again, thank you for attempting to set the record straight.

  12. Umm, so they gave the same award to George Bush. Did anyone protest then? Or is abortion the only issue American Christians care about? Is invading another country on false pretexts and turning an entire region into a bloodbath somehow less important than abortion?

    1. Abortion is by its very nature an objective evil that cannot be justified whatsoever. War can be justified in very strict circumstances. I am in no way a fan of Bush or his unjust warmongering but let’s not confuse the heinous crime of infanticide with other issues. Some issues are fundamentally more important.

      1. The point is that, if one is going to object to giving this award on the basis of support for abortion, one can also rightly object on the basis of war-mongering. It’s not as though abortion’s evil cancels out military aggression.

        I’ve said elsewhere that I think giving such awards to politicians makes no sense to me, but it’s not as though Biden is being honored for his abortion policies.

        Anyway, lest anyone think that this kind of uncomfortable behavior with politicians is limited to only one part of the Orthodox world, we would do well to recall that Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow gave an award for upholding “traditional moral values” to the long-time head of the Communist Party in the Russian Federation. This is the same politician who has consistently advocated for the re-Stalinization of Russia and says that Stalin’s Russia had the best human rights record in history.

  13. BTW, in case anyone’s interested in a news piece about what I mentioned above, i.e., the Russian patriarch giving an award for “the protection of traditional moral values” to Gennady Zyuganov, the head of the Russian Communist party since 1993, here it is. Zyuganov called the USSR “the most humane state in human history.” (See also here and here.)

    And in case anyone’s interested in Zyuganov’s views, here’s an open letter by him where he calls for an end to “anti-Sovietism.”

    Lots more on Zyuganov here.

    1. That is just as confusing as what is happening with the current award, if not more so.

      I think what confuses me and makes me sad is that with all of the other confusion going on in our modern world, it would be nice if there were other things to counteract these confusing events. Like Bishops issuing edifying epistles..encouraging us on the narrow road…Are you aware of any epistles written in the last few years from a Bishop (in English)? (Not just a few paragraphs but a long one..)

  14. Dear Sirs -Greetings.

    A couple of observations -I am assuming that Mr Mihopoulos is a member of one of the traditionalist ΓΟΧ , of which I am part of the largest. I am not closely familiar with his blog, so I am cannot comment on specifics of his article or the gist of any other articles. But here goes.

    1. Traditionalist synods do not object to the Greek Archdiocese or the Ecumenical Patriarchate because we “do not like them”. It is the presence of heresy, in particularly that of ecumenism, the acceptance of the Anglican so called “Branch Theory” as manifest in seeking “reunification of separated churches”, i.e. Protestant sectarians and Roman Catholics on an ecclesial level. The EP is a historic see of the Orthodox Church -had it not been for the presence of these theological and ecclesiological errors, we would be canonically subject to the EP without reservation.
    2. As has been pointed out several times in this forum, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are subject to …. that’s right, the Ecumenical Patriarch, who has done little or nothing to rein in this sorrowful action of the Archons.

    Just my thoughts.

    JPP

    1. My apologies -I did not realize that this was written by a Presbyter -I retract my greeting and replace it with “Father Bless”.

      JPP

    2. Last I had heard, George Michalopulos is still a member of the OCA. The article being responded to here was not written by him, however, but by a priest of the OCA, who (I believe) was summarizing something GM posted and then added his own commentary, none of which had anything to do with the “branch theory,” “ecumenism,” etc.

      As for what “traditionalist synods” think of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, while an interesting topic, it’s not on-topic for this post.

      As for the governance structure of the Archons, they are actually not subject to the EP. He does appoint them, but it is through the Archbishop of America, and once appointed, they govern themselves. In any event, even if they were subject to the EP, that does not make them identical to him or his official spokesmen. If that were so, then we could credit every action of every priest of the Greek Archdiocese to the EP, which is just nonsense.

      1. Thank you for the clarification. I was under a mistaken assumption re: Mr Mihopoulos was a member of one of the traditionalist synods.

        I am a little surprised, with respects to the Archon’s attitudes towards Mr. Biden, that either the EP or the Archbp did not say anything.

        I am, however, curious on what basis did they bestow their honorarium on the VP?

        JPP

  15. I appreciate the photograph from the Decani monastery. It summoned memories of my visit there, when I served the Divine Liturgy for the monks and visitors.

  16. I’ve just added the following to the bottom of my piece:

    UPDATE: Just to make it clear (which I thought I had, but you know–Internet), I will summarize my own thoughts about Joe Biden, the award, etc.:

    I would never vote for the man, primarily because of his record on abortion (other stuff, too). I think the Archons should not give him this award.

    I think that Orthodox Christian politicians (which Biden is not–he’s Roman Catholic) who support abortion and other grave offenses to our moral tradition ought to be excommunicated until such time as they repent.

    I have no problem calling to task clergy who publicly support such politicians (Orthodox or not) without criticizing those politicians on such moral shortcomings.

    (But none of that, of course, is what my article was about. But if I were going to write that article, the above would be its main points.)

  17. I concur that the LifeSiteNews article was not entirely accurate and we can parse who is giving what. I certainly don’t like people taking unfair shots at the Church, and Father, I do appreciate you trying to defend the Church and provide clarity. However, speaking among us Orthodox Christians, we can only nuance this “award” to Joe Biden so far. The fact of the matter is that he is being given this award, and I doubt it would be given had there been serious resistance from the clergy advisors of the group or the Church leadership. This is the problem. Sometimes doing nothing does amount to approval.

  18. After reading the articles and comments on this issue, I realized that I knew nothing about the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. I read their website looking at their purpose, their membership requirements, and the awards they have bestowed. The bulk of the awards are to organizations and clergy of the Greek Archdiocese, political figures, and a few humanitarians. I looked at the schedule for the upcoming awards ceremony and it appears that it is basically a party for the wealthy Archons. It does appear to be a somewhat parachurch organization, although they say they are connected to the ecumenical Patriarchate. It really seems that their major purpose is to raise funds for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to give either irrelevant or self-congratulatory awards. If they ceased to exist would they be missed? I think not. Please remember them in your prayers and then forget about the organization. I will.

  19. I believe the author is incorrect as to his understanding of what an Archon is. It is not simply a para-church organization. The following text from http://www.archons.org states the following and makes it very clear that Archons are not a membership club with very pricey dues but honorees of the Ecumenical Patriarch chosen for their Orthodox values and witness. (Archons are only men btw) This truth calls into question the key foundation on which this article was based:

    What is an Archon? (taken from http://www.archons.org)

    An Archon is an honoree by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for his outstanding service to the Church, and a well-known distinguished, and well-respected leader of the Orthodox Christian community.

    It is by the grace of God that the Archon has been able to offer his good works and deeds of faith. Further, it is the sworn oath of the Archon to defend and promote the Orthodox Christian faith and tradition. His special concern and interest is to serve as a bulwark to protect and promote the Sacred See of St. Andrew the Apostle and its mission. He is also concerned with the human race’s inalienable rights wherever and whenever they are violated – and the well-being and general welfare of the Christian Church.

    This honor extended by the Ecumenical Patriarchate carries with it grave responsibilities, deep commitments, and sincere dedication. Consequently, it is of utmost importance that this honor of obligation be bestowed upon individuals of proven Orthodox Christian character, who conform faithfully to the teachings of Christ and the doctrines, canons, worship, discipline, and encyclicals of the Church.

    Those selected to serve as Archons have demonstrated a commitment greater than average toward the stewardship of time, talent and treasure for the betterment of the Church, Parish, Diocese/Metropolis, Archdiocese and the community as a whole. An Archon must truly be deserving of the proclamation: AXIOS, AXIOS, AXIOS!

    1. The above is exactly my understanding of the Archons.

      They are, nevertheless, a parachurch organization. That is, they are not subject to, do not operate as part of, nor are an agency of the normal ecclesiastical authority.

      In any event, my piece doesn’t rest on what an Archon is, but on whether it is proper to slander one’s fellow Orthodox Christians with accusations without evidence (e.g., that the GOA has no concern for evangelism).

      1. Here is a point to consider. Is the vice-president’s advocacy for the Ecumenical Patriarchate genuine considering the fact that the vice president has used the power of his office to advocate for beliefs and practices that violate human dignity and are the direct opposite of the Tradition and Witness of the Orthodox Church. There is a big difference between Religious Freedom and the “Freedom to Worship” as espoused by this administration.

        Orthodox Christians should be concerned that the price of obtaining the approval of and access to this administration and keeping “places of worship open” in Turkey is a dilution of Orthodox witness both here in the USA and Abroad. Is it even possible for government authorities to keep Orthodox Churches open while at the same time promoting an animus to Orthodox truths? Sure the doors may be open but what will be the truths its faithful bear witness to. Eric Metaxas says it best: “Faith is either something that informs one at all times or it isn’t anything at all, really. When the …government tells its citizens that they can worship in a certain building on a certain day, but once they leave that building they must bow to the secular orthodoxy of the state, you have a cynical lie at work.”

        The honoring of Vice-President Biden merits scrutiny by serious minds. There is so much more at work here in the long view.

    2. I submit that there are many in the Orthodox Church who are as qualified in their stewardship. For example, Jesus mentions the widow who gave all she had. I am grateful for the stewardship of these men. I just question if there are not multitudes more worthy than many of the honorees. For me it makes little difference to the Orthodox Church that this award will be given next month. And I still submit that the ceremonies are just a big party. I will continue to pray for the Archons. May they truly be AXIOS, AXIOS, AXIOS!

  20. If the Archbishop is handing out the award to Mr. Biden while a number of other Hierarchs are present, doesn’t that sound like an endorsement?

    There is a spiritual advisor for the archons appointed by the Archbishop who is involved in the selection process. If the Archbishop wanted to put a stop to this, he could. He will not, and his prominent presence at the award ceremony is an endorsement of the selection process.

    I know you and most on this blog agree Biden is not a good choice so why shouldn’t we expect our church Hierarchs to say the same.

    Our Hierarchs and leaders are making too many questionable calls when it comes to handing out honors. Why don’t we stop these honors for awhile until we can put the right discernment process in place (or let’s cancel them and just focus on honoring God).

    We need our Priests to speak up to the Hierarchs when they get it wrong instead of making excuses for them. I know they have a hard job, but they need their priests to respectful speak up to help them do their job.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *