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A continuation of St Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly,

a peer-reviewed journal,
published by
Paul Meyendorff, Editor

Volume 57, Number 3–4


Ecclesiology and Nationalism

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The views of the authors whose articles appear in

St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly do not necessarily
reflect those of the Seminary faculty.

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233
“Neither Jew nor Greek”: Catholicity and Ethnicity
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of Diokleia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235
Orthodoxy and Nationalism: The Autocephaly of the
Church of “Moldo-Roumania”
Lucian N. Leustean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 247
Enlightenment, Nationalism, the Nation State and Their
Impact on the Orthodox world
Paschalis Kitromilides . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 271
Orthodoxy and Nationalism in Russian Orthodoxy
Daniela Kalkandjieva . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 281
Orthodox Ecumenicity and the Bulgarian Schism
Dimitrios Stamatopoulos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 305
Why Are Orthodox Churches Particularly Prone to
Nationalization and Even to Nationalism?
Vasilios N. Makrides . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325
Beyond Nationalism? The Case of the Orthodox Church
of Antioch
Assaad Elias Kattan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 353
Church and Nation in the New Testament: The
Formation of the Pauline Communities
Christos Karakolis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 361


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Ethnophyletism, Autocephaly, and National Churches

—A Theological Approach and Ecclesiological
Paul Meyendorff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381
The Construction of the National Idea and Identity
through Ecclesiastical Narratives
Dragica Tadić-Papanikolaou . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 395
Church and Nation: Looking through the Glasses of
Cyril Hovorun . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 423
Ethno-Phyletism and the [So-called] Ecclesial
Grigorios D. Papathomas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 431
Primacy and Nationalism
Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 451
Signs of National Socialism in the Greek Church?
Athanasios N. Papathanasiou . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 461
Ecclesiology and Globalization: In Search of an
Ecclesiological Paradigm in the Era of Globalization
(After the Previous Paradigms of the Local, Imperial,
and National)
Pantelis Kalaitzidis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 479
Nationalism, Statism, and Orthodoxy
Davor Džalto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 503
“Political Orthodoxy”: Religion’s Involvement in the
Identity Formation Process
Alexander Verkhovsky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 525
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 541

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St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 57:3-4 (2013) 431–450

Ethno-Phyletism and the [So-called]

Ecclesial “Diaspora”
Grigorios D. Papathomas

The preparatory process for the future Holy and Great Pan-Orthodox
Council has finalized the list of subjects to be discussed and, of the 105
topics initially proposed by the Pan-Orthodox Conference in Rhodes
in 1961, just ten were selected by the First Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox
Conference in 1976 as the most significant and pressing. And of those
ten, the question of the “Orthodox Diaspora” held and continues to
hold pride of place. The general problem of the “Diaspora,” which
we will shall now examine, is therefore of paramount importance;
it has already been the subject of much study1 and will undoubtedly
continue to be studied, precisely because it is so complex. Here, we
will examine just one aspect, albeit a crucial one, which has to do,
in my opinion, with the … impetus for and lifeblood of this problem.
And the lifeblood of this ecclesial “Diaspora” was already pinpointed
well over a century ago, at the conciliar level, as Ethno-Phyletism. The
question, therefore, is not particularly new, but actually precedes the
socio-political phenomenon of the Diaspora itself. For this reason, it
is particularly important from a methodological point of view for us
to begin with Ethno-Phyletism, which, before it became responsible
for the ecclesial “Diaspora,” also gave birth to national Autocephaly and
the phenomenon of the national autocephalous Churches.2
1 See the extensive, multilingual bibliography of the entire 20th century, with a vari-
ety of ad hoc articles on the canonical issues under examination, such as Autocephaly,
Autonomy, and the “Diaspora” in Archim. Grigorios D. Papathomas, Essai de bibli-
ographie (ad hoc) pour l’étude des questions de l’autocéphalie, de l’autonomie et de la
diaspora (Contribution bibliographique à l’étude des questions—Essai préliminaire)
[Bibliographical Essay (ad hoc) for the study of the questions of the Autocephaly, Auton-
omy and Diaspora (Bibliographical contribution to the study of the questions—Prelimi-
nary Essay)], Nomo-Canonical Library, No. 7 (Thessaloniki-Katerini: Epektasis, 2000).
2 The English word “nation” is used to translate the Greek word “έθνος,” and the


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Ethno-Phyletism, the Lifeblood of the Ecclesial “Diaspora”

Ethno-phyletism, as a term and a neologism, was deliberately
coined by the First (historically speaking) Pan-Orthodox Council
of Constantinople in 1872 as a redundant and emphatically
all-encompassing technical term (from έθνος/nation and φυλή/
race)—we shall see why—in order to highlight a heretical deviation
that was occurring at that time in the heart of the Church. It is
particularly interesting in the context of our conference here today to
note why the Pan-Orthodox Council adopted or, better yet, created,
this term, and what kind of aberration they sought to describe with it.
First of all, phyletism (from the word φυλή/race, and associated with
the terms racism and tribalism) is the adoption and implementation
of the Principle of Nationalities at the ecclesial level—i.e., of the
precedence and preponderance, within history, of the race and the
nation over the kingdom. Phyletism represents the deliberate and
conscious pursuit of racial and national discrimination within the
Church, giving priority to those of the same race and nation—and
excluding, by definition, those of other races and other nations—
in the composition of the ecclesial body. In the attempt to realize
the Church within History, in other words, Ethno-phyletism
constitutes a confusion between the Church and the race/nation, an
assimilation—and even, sometimes, identification—of the Church
with the nation. We are dealing, then, with the rather odd correlation
of two dimensions, in which phyletism “tribalizes” the Church and
subordinates it to the endo-created historic goals of the race and the
nation or, even worse, exploits the Church in order to discriminate
against those of other races and nations solely for the benefit of the race
and the nation. We could characterize this as an “(Ethno-)phyletic
Church,” i.e., a “Church of Those of the Same Race” (sic), which is
completely unknown as an ecclesial category or ecclesiastical entity
in the two-thousand-year history of the Church. Nevertheless, today,
we have turned this ecclesio-canonical aberration into an established
ecclesial fact (see, for example, the ecclesiologically erroneous
“Church of the Greeks”—in comparison with the perfectly acceptable
adjectives “national” and “ethnic” are used interchangeably.–Tr.

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Ethno-Phyletism and the [So-called] Ecclesial “Diaspora” 433

“Parliament of the Greeks”—, as well as the Church of the Russians,

the Church of the Romanians, and “The Patriarchate of the Serbs,” as
it is officially known).
The term “Ethno-phyletism,” therefore, was the name given to
the Ecclesiological Heresy that first appeared in the heart of the
Orthodox Church in 1870, with the arbitrary establishment of the
Bulgarian Exarchate in Constantinople, according to which the
Church is organized not on a territorial basis, but rather on a racial,
national, or—to be more precise—cultural one, such that, by means
of co-territoriality, two or more ecclesial entities and ecclesiastical
jurisdictions can co-exist in the same territory, each concerning itself
only with the pastoral care of its members, who belong to a particular
national group (i.e., Mono-phyletism, literally, “one-racism”). (Let me
note here, parenthetically, that, in defining ethno-phyletism, we are
simultaneously defining the ecclesial “Diaspora” and the ethno-phyletic
way in which it has been organized—which clearly demonstrates
the direct, reciprocal relationship between the two, as we shall see
below). Ethno-phyletism—a new, unique form of nationalism—thus
knowingly privileges exclusivity and national unity over unity in
Christ. For this reason, the term was adopted by the Great and Holy
(Major) Pan-Orthodox Synod of Constantinople on September 10,
1872, which formally defined and condemned Ethno-phyletism as
a contemporary Ecclesiological Heresy (“the Balkan heresy”). And
Ethno-phyletism, as is obvious from a theological perspective, actually
manifests itself as an event of heresy at the ecclesial level, becoming
ecclesial Mono-phyletism in the incarnation and realization of the
Church in a particular given place (state-national territorial church)
or in the entire world (“Diaspora”: the places outside [hyperorius] the
ecclesiastical borders of jurisdiction, the places of those of the same
race even though they live outside the ethno-ecclesiastical borders of
the national church).
Indeed, the idea of establishing an autocephalous church either
at the level of the state or within an ethno-ecclesial community in
the so-called “Diaspora”—not on a local/territorial (eucharistic/
ecclesial) basis, but on an ethno-phyletic, national, linguistic, or racial

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basis—could be termed “racial (religious) nationalism.” Likewise,

the establishment, in the same place, of particular Churches,
accepting members of the same nationality and refusing
members of other nationalities, being administered only by
pastors of the same nationality, as is advocated by support-
ers of (ethno-)phyletism, is an unprecedented historical
phenomenon. (Metropolitan Maximus of Sardis)
The Church, therefore, in accordance with its eschatological mission
within history and the created, fallen world, must never tie its fate to
that of a single nation, a single race. That is why ecclesial Orthodoxy
is generally hostile to any form of (ethno-)phyletic messianism.
That being said, in the march within history of a people, we
should distinguish clearly between what I call “ethnism” (which has
a positive sense, inasmuch as it stands in contrast to disdain for one’s
country) and ethnicism or nationalism (which has a pejorative
sense, inasmuch as it means exclusive devotion to certain national
ideals that involve territorial expansion to the detriment of other
nations, as well as the imposition of a collective nationalistic ideology
[ethno-mythology], which leads ineluctably to racism). We should
see the first as an ally of the nation and the second as its enemy,
because the former is consistent with the gathering together [ecclesial
egataspora] of a local or territorial (autocephalous) church for the
salvation of a people, while the latter is incompatible with the nature
and eschatological character of the Church. The Church, therefore,
is never constituted according to nationality, but rather according
to territory! Autocephaly, by extension, is never given to a national
group, wherever they may live, but to a people with specific, defined
geographical borders. This people should constitute a single, united
autocephalous church, irrespective of the national origin of the
persons who comprise it. Thus, ecclesiologically, we have (or should
have) “churches of independent states” (i.e., autocephalous churches),
and not “churches of nations” (i.e., national(istic) churches). The
ecclesio-canonical principle of territorial ecclesio-boundaries leads us
to the heart of the problem we are examining here today.

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Ethno-Phyletism and the [So-called] Ecclesial “Diaspora” 435

The Ecclesio-canonical Limits of Autocephaly

Indeed, the ecclesio-canonical principle of territorial boundaries poses
for us two questions: first of all, whether an autocephalous church
has territorial and personal jurisdiction3 outside its circumscribed
(state) territorial boundaries, and secondly—if we conclude
that territorial and personal jurisdiction beyond a church’s borders
(hyperoria) is improper and uncanonical—whether there is actually
such a thing as an ecclesial “Diaspora.”4 In both cases, the answer,
from an ecclesio-canonical point of view, is “no.” However, according
to modern Orthodox ecclesiastical practice, the answer, in both cases,
is “yes.” Obviously, therefore, we have a stark dichotomy between
what we say theologically, and what we do ecclesiastically. To put
it simply, I would say that this occurs because in the first case
ecclesiology predominates, while in the second case what prevails
is the voluntary and conscious choice of ethno-phyletism, with all its
worldly (endo-created) goals and aims.
In other words, according to the two-thousand-year-old ecclesio-
canonical tradition, the territorial and personal jurisdiction of an
autocephalous church is strictly limited to its canonically defined
territory, and that church has absolutely no jurisdictional rights
outside those canonical limits. Once this is applied, ecclesiologically
and canonically, for all the territorial Orthodox Churches, there will
no longer be any issue regarding the “Diaspora.” As it stands now,
the issue exists not because there is really a question regarding the
“Diaspora,” but because some national Orthodox Churches did not
understand the Chalcedonian dialectic inherent in autocephaly—
that is, that in order to exist properly, they must be simultaneously
“unconfused and indivisible,” both ecclesiologically and canonically.
Indeed, when the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451)
defined the “how to be” of the Churches, the “unconfused and
indivisible being” of the territorial churches, which are in the entire
world, the council confirmed both the unconditional otherness and
the inherent communion between these churches. This council
3 Cf. Canon 5 (1st Ecumenical Council).
4 Cf. Canon 28 (4th Ecumenical Council).

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demonstrated that the existence of territorial churches lies at the

intersection between the affirmation of geo-ecclesial otherness
and the inherent ecclesial communion between them. In other
words, the theological demand and the ontological vision of this
council were that there be both ecclesial otherness and communion,
as a clearly paradoxical achievement of the Trinitarian manner of
existence of the territorial churches. When this is not maintained,
then we have two unavoidably anti-ecclesiological and anti-
canonical deviations, which annihilate and destroy the Church. We
can envision a symmetrical Isosceles triangle of deviations: on the
one side, diversity becomes autonomous, resulting in the loss of ecclesial
communion; and, on the other side, communion deteriorates into
undifferentiated confusion in which ecclesial otherness is completely
swallowed up. To be more precise:
1. In the first non-canonical deviation, we have the unilateral
affirmation of the National Church as the exclusive property of
those of the same race (ecclesiological mono-phyletism), which is
indifferent to communion with the other territorial churches,
claiming on its own an ontological, ecclesial fullness. The ethno-
ecclesiastical conviction inspires a need to care for those of the
same race, who find themselves outside that church’s canonical
borders, even if they happen to be within the borders of another
territorial church, or in a territory administered canonically
by another territorial church. This is precisely what gives rise,
at the same time, to the phenomenon of the “Diaspora,” which
is the overemphasis, on a global scale, of the “unconfused” at
the expense of the “indivisible,” of otherness at the expense of
communion, and thus the annihilation of the Chalcedonian
dialectic between “unconfused and indivisible,” i.e., of the very
definition of autocephaly.
2. In the second non-canonical deviation, we have one territorial
church usurping/absorbing another territorial church, when
they both find themselves in a single political entity. Thus, exactly
what the Fourth Ecumenical Council condemned is precisely
what the Patriarchate of Russia did in Estonia (1945–1996) and

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Ethno-Phyletism and the [So-called] Ecclesial “Diaspora” 437

Latvia (1945–present)—i.e., the dissolution of ecclesial otherness

in the name of an imposed ecclesial communion around a single
race. This results in the elimination and assimilation of the
ecclesial otherness of an ecclesiastical body and the anti-canonical
incorporation of one territorial church into another (territorial)
Summarizing these two anti-canonical deviations, I would like to
emphasize that, on the one hand, the overemphasis on “unconfused”
(otherness) at the expense of “indivisible” (communion) engenders
an ethno-phyletic church and all that that entails, chief of which is
its activity beyond its borders (extra-territorial/hyperoria), leading
to the creation of the so-called “Diaspora.” This co-existence and
confusion of churches, these overlapping territories (co-territoriality),
and this deformation of the Church are precisely what the Fourth
Ecumenical Council sought to avoid, building on the work of the
Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople (381), which sternly
forbade anyone to “bring confusion on the churches.”5 On the other
hand, the overemphasis on “indivisible” (communion) at the expense
of “unconfused” (otherness), in the name of an ecclesiastical body
centered on a single race, leads to the ecclesiastical unjust assimilation
of one territorial church by another (territorial) church, which is
precisely what was forbidden by the two Ecumenical Councils as
an ontological concern, i.e., so as not to “bring confusion on the
Therefore, in granting autocephaly: 1) the territorial principle
takes precedence hypostatically over the national, and not the other
way around; 2) the same applies for the subsequent operation of
the autocephalous church, after it has been established; and 3) the
same is also true for the scope of its jurisdiction, which is, again, is
territorial and not national …
At the future Great and Holy Council, the issue of autocephaly
and its (endo-) jurisdictional limits will first have to be clarified.
Once the already obvious ecclesio-canonical principle of the boundaries
5 Canon 2 (2nd Ecumenical Council). English translation from Nicene and Post-
Nicene Fathers, Series 2, Volume 14: The Seven Ecumenical Councils, 176.

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of autocephaly are established, we can then examine the question

of the ecclesial “Diaspora.” In other words, we must reverse the
temporal hierarchy of examining these two pre-eminent issues,
starting first with autocephaly and then moving on to the ecclesial
“Diaspora,” and not vice versa. Up to this point, the agenda for the
future council, which includes ten topics, has been headed by the
question of the “Diaspora,” which is, in fact, a secondary effect and
not the primary cause.
The First Four Issues for the Future Pan-Orthodox Council (1976)
The Current Order —> The Proposed Order
1. The Orthodox Diaspora 1. Autocephaly
2. Autocephaly 2. Autonomy
3. Autonomy 3. The ecclesial diptychs
4. The ecclesial diptychs 4. The ecclesiastical “Diaspora”
When we follow this methodological order, we will be in for a
surprise. Clarifying the jurisdictional limits of autocephaly will
lead us to discover that the much-ballyhooed issue of the ecclesial
“Diaspora” is actually a non-issue for the Church from an ecclesio-
canonical perspective. Not only is there not, nor has there ever been,
any such thing as the “Diaspora,” but the idea itself is excluded by the
very nature and composition of the Church. So when we solve the
first three problems in my proposed order, we will not have to tackle
the fourth problem at all as a primary cause. Many Orthodox today
fail to realize that each national autocephalous church’s disruptive
retention of its “ethno-ecclesiastical” jurisdiction in the lands of the
“Diaspora” engenders the anti-ecclesiological and anti-canonical
phenomenon of co-territoriality, which has been unequivocally
condemned by both ecumenical and local councils,6 and which has
as a direct result the deformation of the (thence Orthodox) Church.7
It is simply not possible that the Church, throughout its long history,
would have accepted an arrangement as obviously counterfeit as the
6 Cf. Canons 8 (1st Ecumenical Council); 12 and 28 (4th Ecumenical Council); 36,
39, and 56 (Quinisext); 57 (Carthage); etc.
7 Cf. Canon 2 (2nd Ecumenical Council).

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Ethno-Phyletism and the [So-called] Ecclesial “Diaspora” 439

ecclesial “Diaspora” and not done anything to correct it. Today, we

are trying to tackle an issue that is clearly secondary and derivative—
and, as a result, superficial—without first examining and correcting
the underlying causes that give rise to it.
The Retrospective Canonical Solution to the Question of the
Now we come to the heart of the matter. Let us attempt, then, to
approach the issue through the lens of the holy canons, since we
have credible sources dating from as early as the first millennium
that simply require further analysis and interpretation in light of
today’s context. Indeed, the same council (Chalcedon, in 451) that
defined the territorial churches as simultaneously “unconfused”
(otherness) and “indivisible” (communion), with no distance or
divergence between them, also laid down the ecclesio-canonical
principle of the boundaries of every territorial church, namely, the
five patriarchates that had then just recently been created (Rome,
Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem), and the
pre-existing autocephalous Church of Cyprus (5+1). The 5+1
territorial churches covered, geographically, the whole of the
Roman Empire. There remained, however, the enormous undefined
territory outside the Empire, all the land outside the borders of the five
territorial churches/patriarchates, which were nevertheless known to
the people of that time. The visionary Fourth Ecumenical Council,
therefore, could not leave this area ecclesially undefined and not
foresee how it would operate ecclesiologically. So, while there
were no ecclesial bodies of any kind in this territory, the council,
operating with keen foresight, decided to proleptically regulate this
matter from one ecclesio-canonical point of view.
We will soon see, irrespective of its historical context, that the
ecclesio-canonical principle underlying Canon 28 of Chalcedon8 is
8 See, primarily, my own ad hoc analysis of this aspect of this canon law problem, under
the title “Η αποδοχή «Εκκλησιακής Διασποράς» συνεπάγεται αναίρεση της Εκκλησίας
(κανόνας 28/Δ΄). (Μία άλλη εκδοχή επιλύσεως αυτού του εκκλησιο-κανονικού
ζητήματος)” [“(To) accept the existence of the “Ecclesial Diaspora” signifies the aboli-
tion of the Church herself (canon 28/IV). (Another solution for this Ecclesio-canon-

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simply the addition of another unified ecclesiastical territory to the

already existing ecclesial formula of “5+1,” making it “5+1+1”: viz.,
the five patriarchates, the autocephalous Church of Cyprus, and
now the rest of the known world, the extra-ecclesiastical territories,
as a unified ecclesial entity. In other words, this important Council
initiated a global organization of the Church “which is in the entire
world,”9 along three holistic and determinative axes:
1) It instituted patriarchal otherness (patriarch of a city, church of
a territory);
2) It created global, conciliar communion amongst the territorial
churches (5+1); and
3) It anticipated and established, ecclesiologically, the extra-
ecclesial territories (Canon 28 [4th Ecumenical Council]).
With this ecclesial composition, the Church wanted, as early as
451, to maintain everywhere ecclesiological unity and a single [mono-]
jurisdiction in each territory, i.e., the dual constitutive prerequisites
for a local or for a territorial church. Thus, in all three instances,
the ecumenical council designated a presiding bishop. In the first
two cases, the function is obvious and well known to us historically.
In the third case, however, which is what interests us here, one
bishop was designated for all the extra-ecclesial territories as a whole,
precisely in order to maintain everywhere ecclesiological unity and
a mono-jurisdiction in each territory. Thus, the Divine Liturgy/
Eucharist celebrated in these territories should be in the name of
only one bishop,10 in order to avoid any ecclesiological confusion.11 It
is thus obvious—and always has been—that we cannot have two or
more bishops or presiding hierarchs in one place and one ecclesial
territory. The importance of Canon 28 lies precisely in the fact that
the council decided that the Patriarchate of Rome should preside
over the Pentarchy, while the Patriarchate of Constantinople would
have ecclesiological oversight over the extra-ecclesiastical territories:
ical Question”], Theologia [Athens] 80: 2 (April–June 2009): 121–42.
9 Canon 57 (Carthage [419]) and 56 (Quinisext).
10 Ibid.
11 Cf. Canon 2 (2nd Ecumenical Council).

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Ethno-Phyletism and the [So-called] Ecclesial “Diaspora” 441

yes, it is “jurisdiction beyond the borders,” but it is canonical; in fact,

it is, historically, the only exception to the canonical tradition of
the Church, for the reasons previously set forth. It was immediately
after this decision that the Patriarch of Constantinople acquired
the corresponding canonical title, “Ecumenical Patriarch,” which
derives from this added canonical quality. This led then to the
patriarchate being known as “ecumenical,” and not vice versa. We
should note here that the canons were promulgated in the first
millennium, but have continued to function, ontologically, until the
present. Their operation, however, is not based on their contextual
historical framework, but on the foundational canonical kernel of
truth that has been preserved unchanged and which demands to be
adapted to each time and place, consistent with the socio-political
and cultural changes, which are accounted for in these underlying
canonical givens. Thus, the qualities and canonical prerogatives
bestowed by the councils remain unchanged. It appears, however,
that today the body of the Church is unable to theologize about
this, and is unable to understand the new situation that confronts us
here within history. That is why we are now displaying symptoms of
improvising and adopting secular socio-political methods to solve
the problem, as well as symptoms of conforming to the present age:
instead of the Church transforming the world, the Church itself is
being transformed—for the worse—by the world! … This is why the
heart of the question of the “Diaspora” and its solution have yet to be
explored! …

State-Nation (État-Nation) and Nation-State in Relation to

the “Diaspora”
The “Diaspora” has its origins in the so-called “National State,”
which was created in modern times, after the French Revolution
(1789), under the influence of the principle of nationalities (since
the 12th century), and according to the well-known French model
of the State-Nation. We should recall here that, just before this new
development, we have, in the West, the construction of states for
one simple reason: to avoid being subject to papal domination, and

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not because they represented some distinct nationality. But this is

precisely what happened next—the state became the State-Nation
(État-Nation). In fact, in the French Revolution, the National
Assembly proclaimed on August 27, 1789, that “The principle of
all sovereignty resides essentially in the Nation. No body [read:
the Church] nor individual may exercise any authority which does
not proceed directly from the Nation,” and “all powers emanate
from the Nation.” The state thus acquired considerable power
and was put in a position to arrange the Church’s affairs. A new
national consciousness then emerged with an overemphasis on that
nationality’s unique qualities as compared to other nationalities.
The Nation was thus defined as a political entity: State-Nation,
i.e., a state constructed with enlarged state authority, in order to
function as a nation. This means that, after a prolonged period of
empire, a new governmental form took shape—the state—which
then, guided by the principle of nationalities, was proclaimed as a
(constructed) Constitutional Nation [with jus soli as the decisive
criterion], the structure and outlook of which was defined by the
term itself, State-Nation. Conversely, in the East, while it is true that
this French model served as the ideal for the various peoples of the
Balkans, the situations were strikingly different. In fact, the Balkan
revolutions of the 19th century gave birth to the exact opposite of
that in France, something that Balkan historians (and others) have
systematically tried to forget: the Nation-State, i.e., a state based
on the principle of “Nation of blood” [jus sanguinis], comprised of
the people of a particular race, which existed before the foundation
of the state, and which became a State in the modern sense after the
decline of the Ottoman Empire and the success of the liberation
movements. These new Nation-States also demanded ecclesiastical
autonomy and independence based on the same national criterion.
If, in the case of the State-Nation (État-Nation), we refer to the
exclusive sovereignty of the State as “Statism,” then, in the case of
the Nation-State (Nation-État), we should clearly distinguish it
from the former and call it “Ethno-Statism.”
This different and, in fact, reversed, situation is of immediate

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Ethno-Phyletism and the [So-called] Ecclesial “Diaspora” 443

interest to us here as we examine the realization of the Church.

And this is because, in the first case, we have National Churches
(State-Nation), while in the second case, we are dealing with the
confusion of national/racial identity and religious identity (whoever
is Orthodox is Greek or Serbian, etc., while whoever is not
Orthodox “is a Turk or some other nationality/faith”). We therefore
have a near total identification of Nation and Church (along the
lines of the Nation-State), resulting not in National Churches
but in clearly Ethno-phyletic Churches—e.g., the Patriarchate of
the Serbs, the Greek Church, the Russian Church, the Romanian
Church, wherever they may happen to be. (This is why the
Orthodox Church continues to reprise its national role whenever
the respective nation-states experience a political or national crisis.)
The Orthodox thus established ethno-phyletic churches (Church
Nation-State) both in Eastern Europe and throughout the world;
we had, in other words, a budding or—in many cases—an active
ecclesiological heresy, ecclesiological ethno-phyletism, which
attempted to find a canonical basis, but which was unequivocally
condemned by the Pan-Orthodox Council of Constantinople in
1872, because the Bulgarians’ claim to ecclesial self-determination
was not based on the fact that they belonged to another political
entity, but rather on their ethno-phyletic difference. Yet, despite the
fact that this council condemned ecclesiological ethno-phyletism
as racist nationalism and ecclesiological culturalism, this exact
situation has dominated the Orthodox landscape from then until
the present day, spawning the ecclesial “Diaspora.”
And herein lies the rub. It is to our credit that we Orthodox
had the theological acumen to convene a council to condemn
ecclesiological ethno-phyletism as a heresy, in contrast to the Roman
Catholics and Protestants, who not only have yet to fully grasp their
own ecclesiastical culturalism throughout the second millennium
(ritualism in the 13th century and confessionalism in the 16th
century),12 but have actually moved farther away from condemning
12 See, especially, my own ad hoc analytical study of this inter-Christian ecclesio-
canonical problem, which lies active until today, under the title “Au temps de la post-

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it at the conciliar level. At the same time, however, it is to our shame

that we Orthodox—while we decisively condemned ecclesiological
culturalism as a heresy in the 19th century—have, in practice, done
nothing but the opposite for the last 140 years. Ethno-phyletism
has been responsible for deforming (largely unnoticed) the correct
principle of ecclesial locality into a façade for national sectarianism.
Thus, although we share basically the same problem, mutatis
mutandis, we Orthodox are worse off than the Roman Catholic and
Protestants. It is as if the Church were to say: “If I had not come
and spoken to them [the Orthodox], they would not have sin;
but now they have no excuse for their sin.”13 We therefore become
more and more “a spectacle to the world”14 with the ecclesiological
mono-phyletism of our novel Orthodox “Diaspora.” If one lives
even a short time in this so-called “Diaspora”—where we have,
amid ethnically disparate populations, the tragic ecclesiological
phenomenon of unmixed mono-phyletic churches existing in parallel
on the same territory—one will quickly understand the import
of this laconic expression, “ecclesiological mono-phyletism,”
precisely because we Orthodox, from 1870 onwards, have become
accustomed, unfortunately, to seeing the world along ethno-phyletic
and culturalistic lines …

ecclésialité. La naissance de la modernité post-ecclésiologique” [“In the Age of the

Post-Ecclesiality. The Emergence of Post-Ecclesiological Modernity”], Kanon 19
(2006): 3–21; in Istina 51: 1 (2006): 64–84; in Irénikon [Chevetogne-Belgium] 79:
4 (2006): 491–522; and in Grigorios D. Papathomas, Essais d’Économie canonique.
Esquisse d’introduction à la théologie canonique [Essays on Canonical Economy. Out-
line of an Introduction of the Canonical Theology] (Manual for the students) (Paris:
“Saint Serge” Institute of Orthodox Theology [series: Formation Théologique par
Correspondance 2], 2005), 164–80 (in French). The same, in The Messenger [Lon-
don], n° 1 (2/2007): 26–47, and in Inter [Cluj-Napoca] II: 1–2 (2008): 40–54 (in
English); in Derecho y Religión [Madrid] III (2008): 133–50 (in English); and also
in Grigorios D. Papathomas, Κανονικά άμορφα (Δοκίμια Κανονικής Οικονομίας) [Ec-
clesio-Canonical Questions (Essays on the Orthodox Canon Law)] (Thessaloniki-
Katerini, “Epektasis” Publications [series: Nomocanonical Library, n° 19], 2006), ch
IV, pp 145–73 (in Greek).
13 Cf. Jn 15:22 (RSV).
14 Cf. 1 Cor 4:9 (RSV).

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Ethno-Phyletism and the [So-called] Ecclesial “Diaspora” 445

Nation-State  Nation-State
(État-Nation) (Nation-État)
 
constructed Nation ancestral Nation
Constitutional Nation racial Nation
(jus soli) (jus sanguinis)
 
Nationalism  Ethno-phyletism (1872)
 
Statism  Ethno-Statism
 
Domination Identification
of the State over the Church Nation-Church
 
National Church  Ethno-phyletic Church
(Western category, (Unique category among
among RC and P) Orthodox)


The table above represents a comparison in historical context,

as a critical approach to the issue at hand, which facilitates the
concluding thoughts that follow.
Concluding Thoughts and Critical Observations
1. [Nationalism, or better], ethno-phyletism and ecclesiology are
inversely related in their manifestations within history. When
ethno-phyletism waxes, ecclesiology and the Church wane,
with all that entails at the ecclesiological and canonical levels,
as becomes particularly clear in the lands of the misnamed
“Diaspora.” Conversely, when priority is given to ecclesiology,
the Church becomes incarnate proleptically within a nation
or people, in a particular place, with clearly soteriological

SVTQ 57,3-4.indb 445 1/9/2014 9:26:25 PM


expectations, thereby pushing aside any ethno-racial interests,

which automatically entail the destruction of the Church
itself. This is the fundamental antinomy between the Church
and ethno-phyletism.
2. Ever since the Pan-Orthodox Council of Constantinople in
1872, the Orthodox “Church throughout the world” has been
living blatant ecclesiological culturalism in all its fullness, i.e.,
precisely what was condemned by the council: Orthodoxy
became an extension of the Nation and, mutatis mutandis, the
Church became an analogous extension of the Nation-State.
This is what led to the ecclesial “Diaspora,” instigated by
each national state government, which has closely controlled
the church and organized it in the image and likeness of the
National Diaspora, according to the following corresponding
State (National Center) and
Church (its collective national conglomerate)
• State → National Center of reference →
Responsibility for and legal jurisdiction over citizens of
the same race →
Area of Legal jurisdiction extends (correctly)
throughout the World
• Church → Ecclesiastical Center of reference the National Center →
Responsibility and ecclesial jurisdiction over Orthodox
of the same race →
Area of ecclesial jurisdiction (non-canonically)
throughout the world

The State constitutes “the only authority in every form of supremacy,”

while the Church becomes the agent for realizing the National vision,
throughout the earth, exercising its “ecclesiastical jurisdiction
on a global scale” (sic): the ecclesial “Diaspora”
thus gives rise to a Global National Church, which represents an
entirely new ecclesio-canonical problem: Ecclesial Universalism.

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Ethno-Phyletism and the [So-called] Ecclesial “Diaspora” 447

As it should now be clear, when Orthodox believers of each

state that has a national Orthodox territorial church pass
beyond the borders of the nation-state into the regions of
the national Diaspora, their membership in a church, from
an ecclesio-canonical point of view, takes on a different basis.
This is an underlying practical cause of the problem. It is,
however, simply a practical cause. The chief underlying cause
is the adopted ethno-phyletic ecclesiology, which, as we can see
in the table above, lies behind the structure and exercise of
ecclesial jurisdiction in the lands of the constructed ecclesiastical
“Diaspora.” This ecclesiology serves not the Church’s journey to
the eschaton, but rather the various national and political goals
of each national state government. The sooner we recognize
this grotesque distortion (the “Diaspora” is, ultimately, an
unacknowledged schism), the sooner we will find a solution to
the problem of the “Diaspora,” which we are examining here.
3. Ecclesiological ethno-phyletism and the ecclesiastical “Diaspora”
are two sides of the same coin and their relationship is one
of cause and effect, with ethno-phyletism feeding permanently
the “Diaspora.” An apostolic passage captures their correlation
perfectly: ethno-phyletism “sets on fire the cycle of nature
[ecclesiological mono-phyletism], and is itself set on fire by hell
[the ‘Diaspora’].”15
4. Ecclesiological Culturalism—which dominated the whole
of the second millennium among Roman Catholics (ritualism,
13th c.), Protestants (confessionalism, 16th c.), and the Orthodox
(ethno-phyletism, 19th c.)—prepares us with mathematical
precision for a novel ecclesio-canonical problem which had
already started to dawn at the end of the second and the
beginning of the third millennium, and will prove to be the
dominant problem (along with anthropological problems,
which emerged recently and have proven a challenge for
theology) of this millennium—viz., ecclesiastical universalism

15 Cf. Jas 3:6 (NRSV).

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(universalismus), which will lead to the breakdown of

the Church. It has already manifested itself in Roman
Catholicism (1870–2006) and Protestantism (second half of
the 20th c.). Universalism, which is a symptom, has begun
to be expressed more conspicuously amongst the Orthodox
(starting with formal statutory events: Cyprus in 1980, Russia
in 1988 [and 2000], and Romania in 2010, with a sharp rise
immediately following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990).
And so, once again, we find a common denominator amongst
all these confessionally “different” Christians: ecclesiastical
culturalism! And for us Orthodox, ecclesiological universalism,
before it reaches its inevitable conclusion, will have as its
vehicle the ethno-phyletic ecclesial “Diaspora” …
5. Ultimately, the Orthodox Churches’ procrastination in dealing
with the unresolved issue of the ethno-phyletic “Diaspora”
throughout the world has created problems, both on the level
of the statuaries and officially (1980–2010), and continues,
underground and unseen, to feed this unprecedented idea
(from an ecclesio-canonical perspective) of a (national) universal
church on a global scale. This deterioration is depicted in the
comparative table below:

Ethno-phyletic perspective
Ethno- National “Diaspora” → National Universal
Phyletism → Church → Church
   
Canonical Autocephalous Ø→ Communion of
Limits → Church → Territorial Churches
(the State) (Church throughout the
Ethno-canonical perspective

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Ethno-Phyletism and the [So-called] Ecclesial “Diaspora” 449

Considering this deterioration, the “Diaspora,” as well as the
discussion about it, would appear to be devoid of real content, even
though it has already been implicitly established in an official act
as the “National Universal Church” (sic)—because the “Diaspora”
presupposes, among other things, the theology of autocephaly. When
the autocephalous church transformed, in the way we saw above, into
a universal church, then its supposed “universality” (sic) implies that
it does not have a “Diaspora,” but rather pastoral interest in the
members of the same race throughout the world, which is why few
questioned the situation, and why discussion of this controversial
issue has been delayed. Until now, the discussion was based on the
antithesis autocephaly/“Diaspora” (even if things weren’t actually
quite that simple), and there was room for negotiating a common
and pan-Orthodox solution to the issue. However, with this new
“national universal church,” the issue became mono-dimensional,
with the universal ecclesial space turning into a national collective—
and not joint—affair of each mono-phyletic church, thus leaving no
space for any form of a “Diaspora.” The Orthodox congregations
in the “Diaspora” are, moreover, already predisposed and biased,
having already embraced this mindset. This new reality, therefore,
effectively obliterates the first four issues of the future Pan-Orthodox
Council, which—when and if it ever happens—will choose in what
order to examine the issues, with the “Diaspora” possibly remaining
permanently suspended in mid-air, becoming a sort of … utopia, not
only because of the theology of autocephaly, but primarily because of
the new form of the Church, the “universal, ethno-phyletic church,” which
was inaugurated and supported, both practically and structurally, by
many Orthodox. By conciliar decree, we officially pushed ethno-
phyletism “out the door” of the Church, only to find that it has come
back, even stronger, “through the window” . . . This demonstrates,
moreover, how things can get away from us. We were still trying to
deal with the “Diaspora,” while a newer anti-ecclesiological and
non-canonical ecclesiastical activity snowballed into the even worse
phenomenon of the “universal ethno-phyletic church”!

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• • •
In conclusion, if we compare that which we are discussing here today
with the witness that the Orthodox Church, ecclesial Orthodoxy, is
called to give, we can easily see that this latter Orthodoxy—which is
connected with that which we call theologically and ontologically
a “witness to life” to the whole of fallen humanity, “that they may
have life, and have it abundantly”16—bears no resemblance to
ethno-phyletic Orthodoxy, which not only does not bear witness
to life to those in the lands of the so-called “Diaspora,” but, on the
contrary, manifests a deterioration into a more fallen state. This
latter type of Orthodoxy gives the impression that it is unable to
find an ontological solution to this break in our unity in Christ, nor
is it able to lead fallen humanity toward reception into unity and
the Kingdom of the Eschata.

— Translated by the Rev Dr Gregory Edwards, ThD

16 Jn 10:10 (RSV).

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