by Nicholas. Originally published at Orthodox Reflections
Archbishop Elpidophoros attended the annual March for Life Rally and provided an introduction and a prayer. As is often the case, the Archbishop mixed in seemingly Orthodox thoughts with a heaping helping of progressive indoctrination. Here’s the main part of what he said.
For most Orthodox Christians, the first part is not controversial. Except that it’s phrased interestingly, isn’t it? The Archbishop does not call for a ban on abortion. He points out that all are made in the image and likeness of God, and so children are worthy of our protection. How are we supposed to protect them? The Archbishop doesn’t say. That part is left vague. If you want to read it as a call to legally protect the unborn, you certainly can. Given the context of the March for Life, that would be a rational supposition. But you don’t have to assume that at all. The paragraph ends with a kind of “it takes a village” sentiment that could mean anything.
Weak sauce really. But even so, whatever pro-life sentiments the Archbishop expresses in the first paragraph are quickly undone in the second when he says, “At the same time, we also affirm our respect for the autonomy of women.” After that paragraph he followed up with, “We march not for coercion.” You can find all remarks here. I’m going to ignore the fluff in the second paragraph about the Most Holy Theotokos and Our Lord Jesus Christ. Archbishop Elpidophoros, or his speech writer, only put that in to make it all seem more “Orthodox.”
For anyone having paid attention to the abortion debates over the past 40 years, what the Archbishop is saying is crystal clear. It is yet another version of “personally opposed to abortion” but “support a women’s right to choose.” If the Archbishop had been completely honest, he would have expressed himself thusly, “As a Christian, I am personally morally opposed to abortion. We should take steps to help women and children through social programs and, hopefully, that will reduce demand for abortions. But we can’t coerce women into childbearing against their wills. We must trust women to make their own decisions and we must respect their bodily autonomy.”
Pro-lifers are not the only ones to interpret his speech this way. The GOARCH Press Office triumphantly retweeted a pro-abortion interpretation of the Archbishop’s words:
Clearly, GOARCH is not ashamed of the clear implications of what the Archbishop had to say. Nor are they concerned about any kind of backlash for being so openly pro-baby murder. So what gives?
Promoting Revolution Within the Form – The academics and hierarchs running GOARCH are clearly on a longish-term mission to transform the Orthodox Church into a prettier version of The Episcopal Church. A goal similar to what Pope Francis is busy pursuing in the Roman Church. Critical to this goal is slowly, but continuously, making the Faithful more and more comfortable with progressive concepts. Like a spoonful of sugar, mix in just enough genuine Orthodoxy to make the progressive medicine easier to swallow. Have a hierarchical liturgy in an Episcopal Church all decked out in a rainbow flag, but don’t endorse gay rights in the Church. Too far, too fast. Instead, let the imagery subtly do its job and talk about how open and loving Orthodox Christians are:
As Orthodox Christians, we are not about exclusivity, but about authenticity. We say with the Lord Jesus Christ, “whoever is not against us is for us!” [*] We openly embrace those who differ from us, not to manifest any compromise, but to extend to others the love and acceptance of Christ.
The frog that boils slowly doesn’t even realize it is danger. Until too late.
Or you have Nicholas Anton from GOARCH proclaim that racism is incompatible with Orthodoxy, and then in the same speech almost imperceptibly endorse Critical Race Theory concepts that amount to anti-White racism. Archbishop Elpidophoros has done the same thing in his talks about the need to combat “systemic racism.” Also remember that the Archbishop has a horrible record concerning the experimental COVID jabs that only exist through the immoral use of aborted fetal cells. He justified these horrific betrayals on moral grounds (thereby weakening our anti-abortion witness in the U.S.):
- He endorsed the jabs, even opening clinics in parishes
- He gave an award to the Pfizer CEO (among others)
- He actively betrayed his own people who were seeking religious exemptions from the jabs by declaring there were none possible for Orthodox Christians.
- He is fine with mandates, even at the Greek seminary.
There are many more examples besides these. The subtle alteration of Orthodoxy in a progressive direction is not an accident. It is not because a foreign-born hierarch is being manipulated by academics or just doesn’t understand the implications of what he is saying. This is a deliberate plan to keep the outer trappings of Orthodoxy the same, while fundamentally altering the Faith.
Nothing to See Here – For this to work, people who would oppose the transformation of Orthodoxy must be encouraged not to notice. Orthodox Christians want to believe the best about others, especially about hierarchs. Who wants to believe an Archbishop of the Church is actively undermining the faith? No one, actually. So as long as the statements / actions are somewhat vague, then many well-meaning Orthodox Christians will defend the Archbishop and GOARCH. The squabbling among the Faithful provides cover for the revolutionaries.
Remember we kind of skipped over the point about the Theotokos in the second paragraph? Right now there is a fierce debate on Twitter as to whether or not the Theotokos is a perfect model of how to respond to a pregnancy. The most important part, that the paragraph is an endorsement of a woman’s right to choose abortion, is completely lost in the noise and confusion. That verbiage was not included by accident.
Rallying the Elect – While vagaries provide cover to keep the normie Orthodox from stampeding, the progressives recognize when they are being encouraged. The pro-abortion activist who celebrated the Archbishop’s words recognized immediately what he was saying. The revolution needs support from an active minority, just as much as it needs the acquiescence of the Faithful majority. If you ever doubt your understanding of something said or done, check out the blogs, social media, and forums for progressive “Orthodox.” All doubt will be removed. Stick around and read them for awhile. The goal is that when you are the minority, what you read there will be what is published on the official jurisdictional sites.
Don’t Expect the Other Bishops to Speak up – More than one Orthodox Christian has asked, “If this was a purposefully vague endorsement of abortion on demand, why didn’t any of the other bishops there say anything?” Because that is not how the game is played in the United States. It really isn’t. Bishops and clergy, especially across jurisdictional lines, hold their criticism of each other. This is frustrating for the Faithful, because we are looking for men to step up and defend the truth. That may happen at some point. But for now, his brother bishops will not reign in Elpidophoros. Bishops may get cashiered for legit crimes (sex abuse, embezzlement), but not for being politically progressive to the detriment of the Faith.
This is not Just GOARCH – There are individuals trying to redefine the Orthodox Faith in many, perhaps all, jurisdictions. If you have the time, watch this lecture by Fr. John Jillions of the OCA as he attacks “fundamentalism”, and promotes the “Catholicity” of the Church as requiring us to listen to academics who reject the moral teachings of the Orthodox Faith.
In closing, let us note that after his performance at the March for Life, Archbishop Elpidophoros paid a call on the Ukrainian ambassador to pledge his undying support.
The war in the Ukraine is a civil war between Ukrainians. It began as a result of the U.S.-backed coup that brought neo-Nazis to power. Progressives, like those that infest and surround GOARCH, constantly decry nationalism and fascism, unless it is in Ukraine. Neo-Nazis and ultranationalist murderers are just fine there, as long as they inconvenience Russia while slaughtering Ukrainian civilians with U.S.-provided weapons. What kind of Orthodox Faith is this that puts itself at the service of murder and oppression?
There is an ongoing peace process to end the war, and there have been two agreements, both of which the Kiev Government has refused to follow. At the encouragement of the U.S., by the way. The United States and the Patriarch of Constantinople, through their actions, have contributed to the horror of this conflict. It is time to stop interfering and allow the sides to settle their differences in a peaceful manner. Blessed are the peacemakers, after all.
For additional takes on the Archbishop’s words at the March for Life, see these links:
Nicholas – member of the Western Rite Vicariate, a part of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese in America