Monday, May 28, 2007

Who speaks for Orthodoxy?

Letter of the Holy Community of Mt. Athos to Oecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Concerning His Compromising of the Orthodox Faith and His Episcopal Office

The following is a very important and encouraging letter from the Holy Community of Mt. Athos. It bluntly and very effectively exposes the ecclesiological deviations of Patriarch Bartholomew, with regard to the ecumenical movement. However, it must be read with certain reservations, which even more strikingly call every sober Orthodox Christian to see how fundamentally the ecumenical movement and its religious relativism have compromised the Faith and blinded even monastic circles to its soul-destroying ills.

The Holy Community states that it wishes to believe that the Œcumenical Patriarch did not write the addresses to which it refers. We would ask: is it the provenance or the magnitude of heresy which should more greatly concern us? Obviously it is the latter. And from that standpoint, one cannot deny that the few statements cited by the Holy Community are but a mere aperitif in the many courses that have been offered up in the banquet of ecumenism. And one of the main servers at this banquet has been Œcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, from the very first of his service, when, as the Athonite Abbots stood passively by, he was enthroned in the presence of ecumenical representatives from various heterodox confessions at the Phanar.

a) Since when is resistance "schism"? It is only recently that we have seen the Greek Old Calendarists (who were first served, in the early '20s, as we all know, by Athonite Hieromonks), the Romanian Old Calendarists, the Bulgarian Old Calendarists, and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad characterized by some Athonite voices as "schismatics." A few decades ago, they were "True Orthodox" and "heroes." Indeed, it is only as ecumenism has grown and affected, without their knowing it, even the mentality of the more sober Orthodox, that Athonite Abbots have stood with heterodox clergy in the Phanar, before a Patriarch who calls the heresy of Papism a "Sister Church," and dismissed their brothers in resistance as schismatics.

b) If the "most pious" of the Orthodox are drawn into resistance, leading one to believe that the less pious are left within the so-called "official" Church, does this not lead a prudent man to wonder just who it is who is courting schism? Are the pious actually schismatics for separating from error, while those in error are not in schism by virtue of their complacent deviation from the teachings of Orthodoxy? Here again, ecumenical thinking has taken an unnoticed toll.

Your Humble Servant,
+ Bishop Auxentios_Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies

HOLY COMMUNITY OF THE HOLY MOUNTAIN OF ATHOS F.2/7/639_Karyae, 11th/24th May 1999
His Most Reverend All-Holiness
The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos
The Phanar

Most Holy Father and Master,

To begin, we most respectfully and reverentially convey our filial regards on this, the Holy and Joyous Resurrection of our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and likewise extend the honour which is due and proper to Your Venerable All-Holiness.

In Your address to the papal delegation last November, certain viewpoints were expressed which were quite unanticipated by the body of Orthodox faithful. We were greatly grieved and our conscience shaken.

Our disquiet grows ever more intense on account of the questions posed to us daily by our spiritual children and in general by the pious Christians who visit us and ask if indeed the text of your address expresses the mind-set (phronema) of our Holy Church. The matter takes on tragic proportions however, when we see the most pious of Orthodox faithful deserting for schismatic groups and in this way cause the holy body of the Church to bleed.

You are well aware, Your All-Holiness, that there is nothing more painful for a shepherd than the scattering of these, the sheep of Christ.

How should we answer then? How do we justify something which is not justifiable? How do we convince ourselves and our spiritual children that the words of Your address are consistent with the Orthodox Faith and Tradition, when obviously they cause the Tradition of the Church to be overturned and offend the Orthodox conscience?

How can we consider the following statements consistent with Orthodox Tradition? "We are obliged from this... to reconsider our policy, to clean away the old yeast, to become new dough..." and elsewhere, "Our repentance for the past is indispensable."

Are we obliged then, Your All-Holiness, to reconsider the Tradition of our Saints, from Photios, Gregory Palamas and Mark of Ephesus, up until Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain and Athanasios of Paros, whose struggles against the heterodox teachings of Rome and whose unrelenting persistence in the holy dogmas and ethos of Orthodoxy constitute our legacy from them? Can we ignore the words of Gregory Palamas that: "Our confession (of faith) is secure in all things and is for us a crown of pride and our hope which cannot be put to shame"? [1]

Is then our holy Tradition "old leaven" and must we now reconsider this mind-set (phronema) and adopt the "new dough" of a false union with Rome, in as much as she continues to be heterodox? And is not the same Saint Gregory's characterisation of Western heretical dogmas still timely in our day: "These are the deep secrets of Satan, the mysteries of the Evil One"? [2]—and his words to those in the West: "We will never accept you in communion as long as you confess the Spirit to be also from the Son."? [3]

Furthermore, how can we rectify with our conscience the following statement from your address: "Those of our forefathers from whom we inherited this separation were the unfortunate victims of the serpent who is the chief of all evils; they are already in the hands of God, the righteous judge"?

According to the Holy Fathers, the Popes of Rome and their representatives are the true cause of the West's schism from the Universal (Katholike) Orthodox Church. Your All-Holiness, you are aware that Saint Mark says literally: "For they have given cause for the schism, having obviously carried out the addition... We had previously broken from them, or rather had cut them off and separated them from the common body of the Church, as being of an improper and impious mind-set (phronema) and for irrationally having made the addition. Therefore, we turned away from them since they were heretics and for this reason separated from them." [4] And in our century, Saint Nectarios wrote: "Thenceforth the separation of the Churches began, which came into completion quite rightly under Photios, since the Church was in danger of going away from the One, Catholic, and Apostolic Church to become a Roman Church, or rather a papist Church, professing no longer the dogmas of the holy Apostles, but those of the popes." [5] And these men, being the causes for the schism, are now in the hands of God, the righteous judge.

But is it possible that the holy Fathers, who rightfully cut heretical Rome off from the body of the Church as one would amputate an incurable body part, and stitched back together the seamless tunic of Christ—is it possible that they are "unfortunate victims of the serpent, chief of all evils?" What Orthodox Christian cannot help but grieve just by hearing those words alone?

And how then can we accept the following statement from your address: "Since in as much as one Church recognises another Church to be a repository of divine grace, capable of granting salvation, ... the attempt to break believers off from the one and attach them to the other is impossible"?

Have we then ceased to believe that only the Orthodox Church constitutes the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?

We are also grieved and in anguish by the occurrence of pan-religious common prayers whose syncretistic nature is obvious. From the first such common prayer which took place in Assisi (1986), these pan-religious spectacles have never ceased to be celebrated annually, reaching distressing proportions for the Orthodox during the 12th pan-religious common prayer on the 30th of August 1998 in Romania. Why must we Orthodox be dragged into such common prayers by the Roman Catholic agents who mastermind them, when their goals are to serve papal pretensions for, at the least, spiritual leadership in Europe?

In addition, common prayers, such as are practised, stand clearly against the Holy Canons of the Church. To be sure, You have not personally participated in such common prayer, but Orthodox Hierarchs and indeed, Heads of Churches have participated. In Romania, the papal cardinal and the Patriarch together blessed a mixed congregation of Roman Catholics, Uniates, and Orthodox.

The common prayer in Romania opens the Kerkoporta [7] through which the Orthodox Church will be in danger of spiritual capture. The Most Blessed Presiding Hierarch of the Church of Romania is too weak, it would seem, to stand up to the politics of his nation's leaders who are making provisions to open towards the West; in this context an official visit of the Pope to an Orthodox nation recently took place for the first time in history.

Are they suffering amnesia when it comes to the crimes committed by the Uniates against the Orthodox for centuries? Are we now to accept de facto the existence and activities of Uniate groups?

Besides, since there seems to be no chance that heterodox Christians will abandon their heretical dogmas and unbiblical teachings, what purpose do common prayers serve, except to blunt Orthodox sensitivity and to create a syncretistic convergence?

Finally, how can we justify common prayer with heterodox? Do the Orthodox representatives who partake in these common prayers recognise that the rest of the heterodox and those of other religions properly give praise to and worship God? Is not such a position antithetical to the holy Gospel and thus, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

We would reverently recommend to Your attention the prohibition of common prayer with heterodox and to be sure, with non-Christian religions by means of a pan-orthodox decision, in as much as this common prayer stands against the commands of the Old and New Testament as well as the Holy Canons, as they prepare the way for the pan-religion of the so-called "New Age" in denial of the uniqueness of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The publication of the periodical "God & Religion," whose contents serve pan-religious syncretism, has caused us great sorrow. Despite assurances from the periodical's editors that its goals are not syncretism, viewpoints are nevertheless promoted which overlook the uniqueness of man's salvation in Christ and in the Orthodox Church under the guise of a religious approach to current topics. If that were not enough, the periodical promotes depictions which are insulting and abusive to the All-holy person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When considered from this perspective, support for such a periodical as expressed in commendatory letters written by certain ecclesiastical figures, creates the very great danger for Orthodox people to be misled into believing that this is a periodical which is of an Orthodox mind-set (phronema).

We were especially grieved by Your granting a blessing for its publication, as well as by the publication of a special interview, which was used as a strong indication that You agree with the editorial policies of the periodical.
We want You to know, Your All-holiness, that we foster the piety towards Your most reverent person and the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which is set down by the tradition of the Orthodox Church and the history of our martyred Nation.

For this reason our grief becomes even more excessive when we see, next to Your photograph, advertisements in this periodical with pictures of semi-naked women and other scenes which are incongruous with the holiness of Your ministry and office.

With these things in mind, we kiss Your Most Divine All-Holiness' holy Right Hand and ask for Your Patriarchal and Fatherly blessings, remaining Yours with deepest respect and all due reverence.

—All the Representatives to the common Synaxis and Superiors of the twenty Holy Monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos.

The Patriarchal Encyclical of 1920

As it should be known, this "Encyclical," addressed to the "Churches of Christ everywhere," intends and recognizes as such the entire "mish-mash" of the heterodox and heretics! Consequently, it believes, confesses, and proclaims that "rapprochement and communion" with them "is not excluded by the dogmatic differences existing between them"! Likewise, it considers and acknowledges these "Churches" as "sisters and worthy of reverence," and for this reason "fellow-heirs and of the same body [sharing in] the promise of God in Christ" (cf. Ephesians 3:6)! In other words, there is a full recognition, admission, and acceptance by the authentic representatives of Orthodoxy, and this in a fully official manner, that the heterodox and heretics possess: Priesthood, Mysteries, and Apostolic Succession! For this reason, moreover, joint prayer, joint commemoration, joint observance of Feast Days, joint blessings, and liturgical concelebration are allowed to be conducted with them!

On the basis of the evidence set forth above, it can be easily inferred that the Patriarchal "Encyclical" of 1920 not only completely fails to echo the "true voice of the Church," but, on the contrary, intentionally overlooks its own Orthodox "foundation." Judged from an Orthodox canonical standpoint, it deserves the greatest condemnation, insofar as this "fall in the faith" on the part of the presiding leaders of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, from whom this document derives, reaches back to such a degree of "apostasy" that it was put forth by "public" proclamation and by an undisguised, unfeigned unanimous written decision by them!

The most serious form of apostasy provoked by the "Proclamation" rests on the fact that it denies the pan-orthodox "super-dogma," as it were, by virtue of which our Holy Mother Church, "according to the unified mind (and confession) of the Fathers and the Synods," is considered, as we said before, "One" and unique, just as Christ, Her Head, Who cannot have many bodies and-whose "substance" is the "unity of faith,') is also one and unique.

Likewise, according to the saying of the Lord, the ever-living "Vine" (St. John 15:5), that is, the Church, is never divided, but only the unfruitful branches fall from it and become parched, that is, those who are cut off from Her, the heterodox heretics whom the Ecumenical Patriarchate, "fallen in faith," as well as all the "Orthodox" members of the World Council of Churches, in no way acknowledge and treat as heretics!

From Memorandum / Appeal: To the Abbots and Superiors of the Twenty Sacred Monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos, by Hieromonk Maximos and Monk Basil (Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1993), Ch IV.

From the West, Ecumenism passed over to the East. This officially happened in the year 1920. In January of 1910, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople issued an Encyclical on the subject, signed by twelve Metropolitans: 1) Dorotheos of Prusa, Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne; 2) Nicholas of Caesarea; 3) Constantine of Cyzicus; 4) Germanos of Amaseia; 5) Gerasimos of Pisidia; 6) Gervasios of Ankyra; 7) Joachim of Ainos; 8) Anthimos of Bizya; 9) Evgenios of Selyvria; 10) Agathangelos of Seranta Ekklesiai; 12) Chrysostomos of Tyroloa and Serentios; and 13) Eirenaios of the Dardanelles and Lampsakos.

The Encyclical of 1920 is marked by a great contradiction. Before the text of the letter, we find the God-inspired words of the Apostle Peter: "Love one another with a pure heart fervently" (I Peter 1:22). "With a pure heart" means with a right-believing and circumspect outlook. However, the text that follows is redolent of heresy and a passionate adherence to the panheresy of Ecumenism. For not only are the local Orthodox Churches called Churches, but heresies are called such as well. The heresies, it impiously claims, should not be thought foreign or alien to Orthodoxy, but kinsmen and family in Christ, coinheritors of the promises of God and of one body in Christ; that is, it claims that man is not saved exclusively by the Church, but also by the heresies! This great heresy does away with the Orthodox Faith and salvation in Christ, since God says through the Apostle Peter that the heretical "churches" are "damnable [literally, 'destructive'—Tr.] heresies" (II Peter 2:1).

The Encyclical also supports another great heresy. It states that dogmatic differences, that is, differences in belief between the Orthodox Church and the heresies, do not prevent the communion of Orthodox with heretics. Hence, it repeals the belief and the confession of the Faith of the Holy Fathers. At the same time, it reproves the Saints for their steadfastness in the Orthodox Faith to the point of Martyrdom. It irreverently condemns them for following supposedly antiquated superstitions and habits, that is, customs and claims that thwart the ostensible work for union. When the Ecumenists say "union," they do not mean the union of the Church, but the evil union of their Ecumenical heresies. They do not seek the unity of God, but the soul-destroying union of the Enemy, namely, the Devil. Therefore, they are enraged by the Saints, who struggle against the unity of Ecumenism, which is ruinous to the soul, and uphold the saving unity of faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul writes that the Christian must strive for the "unity of the Faith" (Ephesians 4:13). Saint Gregory of Nyssa thus says that we will be united to Christ, with the Church, and to the People of God when we cut ourselves off from heresy. And so it is that the Divine Word cries out: "Come out from among them," from the midst of heretics, "and be ye separate," that is, cut off from them. "For what communion hath light with darkness," and "what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" (II Corinthians 6:1417). (The Fathers, incidentally, also call heretics "infidels.")

The Encyclical of 1920 is anti-ecclesiastical. It denies Orthodoxy, violates correct belief, and insults the Holy Fathers. It supports heresies and calls the Orthodox to unite with heretics—in short, so that they can become heretics, too!

t is clear, then, that the Patriarchal Encyclical of 1920 is an impious Encyclical. It is not Orthodox, but heretical. It does not serve Orthodoxy, but the heresies. It does not follow the Holy Fathers, but the heretics. It does not hold firm to the law of God, but to that which is opposed to the law. It does not induce belief in our Lord Jesus Christ, but has the spirit of Antichrist. With the Ecumenical Encyclical of 1920, the Orthodox who promulgated and accepted it took a great fall. They fell to the panheresy of Ecumenism.

From The Panheresy of Ecumenism, by Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili (Etna, CA: The Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1995), 14-19.

Open Letter of Metropolitan Philaret to Archbishop Iakovos


The latest actions of Your Eminence, invested as you are with the added authority of His All-Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras, have greatly perplexed not only us and our flock, but also many others.

We have in mind your recent participation at St. Patrick's Cathedral in the "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity," and the "Ecumenical Doxology" in the Greek Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

The very fact that these services were publicized by the press as novelties without precedent is indicative of their being introduced into the life of the Church as something extraordinary and not properly pertaining to her nature. Which canon, what tradition gave you the right to introduce such novelties?

Orthodoxy by its implicit nature is marked by its fidelity to the tradition and example of the Holy Fathers. It is not without reason that St. Vincent of Lerins in his Commonitorium gave the criteria that what is truly Orthodox is that which is accepted by the Church " ... always, by everyone, and everywhere." A novelty which does not conform with that rule bears an implicit stamp of unorthodoxy.

Your Eminence must be aware of the 45th Apostolic Canon which reads: "Let a bishop, presbyter, or deacon who has only prayed with heretics be excommunicated, but if he has permitted them to perform any clerical office, let him be deposed." The renowned canonist Bishop Nikodim of Dalmatia, in his interpretation of this canon, remarks that participation in such a prayer with heterodox "... means that we not only do nothing for their conversion to Orthodoxy, but are wavering in it ourselves."

In this case Your Eminence has not only violated an ancient tradition of the Orthodox Church founded on canons (Apostolic 10 and 45, Laodicea 6, 32, and 33), but also in your actions and statements conforming to those of Patriarch Athenagoras, you have expressed a teaching foreign to the Fathers of our Church.

The First Sorrowful Epistle of Metropolitan Philaret


We have already addressed His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras and His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America, expressing our grief and concern over their ecumenical activities, in which the birthright of the Church has been sold for a mess of pottage in the form of the world's applause. But the position taken by the Orthodox delegates at the Assembly of the World Council of Churches at Uppsala makes the concern of the zealots of Orthodoxy even more acute, and makes it necessary for us to communicate our sorrow and confusion to all our Brother Orthodox Bishops.

We regard it as our duty to protest in the strongest possible terms against this state of affairs. We know that in this protest we have with us all the Holy Fathers of the Church. Also with us are not only the hierarchy, clergy, and laymen of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, but those members of other Orthodox Churches who agree with us as well.
We take the liberty of saying that it seems our Brother Bishops have treated this matter without sufficient attention, without realizing how far our Church is being drawn into the sphere of anti-canonical and even of anti-dogmatical agreements with the heterodox. This fact is especially clear if one turns to the initial statements of the representatives of the Orthodox Churches as compared with what is taking place at present.

Out of this mixture of errors, which have gone so far astray from Tradition, the published decision on "The Holy Spirit and the Catholicity of the Church" makes the statement: "The Holy Spirit has not only preserved the Church in continuity with the past; He is also continuously present in the Church, effecting her inward renewal and re-creation."

His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, in his reply to the greeting of the Swedish Archbishop, said in the name of the Assembly, "As you well know, the Church universal is called by a demanding world to give ample evidence of its faith" (The Uppsala 69 Report, p. 103).

Of what "Church universal" did Archbishop Iakovos speak? Of the Orthodox Church? No. He spoke here of the "Church" uniting all confessions, of the Church of the World Council of Churches.

The LVII (LXVI in the Athens Syntagma) Canon of Carthage says of the Church that she is "the one spoken of as a dove (Song of Songs, vi.9) and sole mother of Christians, in whom all the sanctifying gifts, savingly everlasting and vital are received—which, however, inflict upon those persisting in heresy the great punishment of damnation."

We also feel it is our duty to declare that it is impossible to recognize the Russian Church as legally and duly represented at the Pan-Orthodox Conferences called by His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras. Those Bishops who participate in these Conferences in the name of the Russian Church with Metropolitan Nikodim at their head, do not represent the authentic Russian Church. They represent only those Bishops who by the will of an atheistic Government bear the titles of certain Dioceses of the Church of Russia. We have already had occasion to write about this matter to His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras. These persons participate in meetings abroad only in so far as such participation is profitable to their civil authorities, the most cruel in the history of the world. Nero's ferocity and Julian the Apostate's hatred of Christianity are pallid in comparison.

We can pity an unfortunate old man, but we cannot recognize him as the Head of the Russian Church, of which we regard ourselves an inseparable part. Both to Patriarch Alexis and his collaborators the sanctions of the XXX Apostolic Canon and Canon III of the Seventh Ecumenical Council can be doubly applied: "If any bishop, making use of the secular powers, shall by their means obtain jurisdiction over any church, he shall be deposed, and also excommunicated, together with all who remain in communion with him.''

When one part of the Russian Episcopate, together with the late Patriarch (at that time Metropolitan) Sergius, took the course of agreeing with the enemies of the Church in 1927, a large (and the most respected) part of that Episcopate, with Metropolitan Joseph of Leningrad and the first candidate of Patriarch Tikhon for the office of locum tenens, Metropolitan Cyrill of Kazan, did not agree to go along with him, preferring banishment and martyrdom.

For these reasons, although representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate participated in the decisions of the Pan-Orthodox Conference in Geneva last year, and particularly in regard to making the Orthodox Church an organic member of the World Council of Churches,—we look upon that decision as having been accepted without the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The poison of heresy is not too dangerous when it is preached only from outside the Church. Many times more perilous is that poison which is gradually introduced into the organism in larger and larger doses by those who, in virtue of their position, should not be poisoners but spiritual physicians.

Can it be that the Orthodox Episcopate will remain indifferent to that danger? Will it not be too late to protect our spiritual flock when the wolves are devouring the sheep before their pastors' eyes, inside the very sheepfold itself?

It seems that we have shown clearly enough that this apparent unity is not unity in the truth of Orthodoxy, but a unity that mixes white with black, good with evil, and truth with error.
We have already protested against the unorthodox ecumenical actions of His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras and Archbishop Iakovos in letters which were widely distributed to Bishops of the Orthodox Church in various countries. We have received from different parts of the world expressions of agreement with us.

Metropolitan PHILARET
In New York,
Sunday of the Sixth Ecumenical Council,
14/27 July, 1969

The Second Sorrowful Epistle of Metropolitan Philaret


It is in the spirit of such a feeling that we have already once addressed all the Bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church with a Sorrowful Epistle. We rejoiced to learn that, in harmony with our appeal, several Metropolitans of the Church of Greece have recently made reports to their Synod calling to its attention the necessity of considering ecumenism a heresy and the advisability of reconsidering the matter of participation in the World Council of Churches. Such healthy reactions against the spreading of ecumenism allow us to hope that the Church of Christ will be spared this new storm which threatens her.
Yet, two years have passed since our Sorrowful Epistle was issued, and, alas! although in the Church of Greece we have seen the new statements regarding ecumenism as un-Orthodox, no Orthodox Church has announced its withdrawal from the World Council of Churches.

Alas! These last few years are richly laden with evidence that, in their dialogues with the heterodox, some Orthodox representatives have adopted a purely Protestant ecclesiology which brings in its wake a Protestant approach to questions of the life of the Church, and from which springs forth the now-popular modernism.

It was just modernism which was the basis of the Pan-Orthodox Conference of sad memory in Constantinople in 1923, evidently not without some influence of the renovation experiment in Russia. Subsequent to that conference, some Churches, while not adopting all the reforms which were there introduced, adopted the Western calendar, and even, in some cases, the Western Paschalia. This, then, was the first step onto the path of modernism of the Orthodox Church, whereby Her way of life was changed in order to bring it closer to the way of life of heretical communities. In this respect, therefore, the adoption of the Western Calendar was a violation of a principle consistent in the Holy Canons, whereby there is a tendency to spiritually isolate the Faithful from those who teach contrary to the Orthodox Church, and not to encourage closeness with such in our prayer-life (Titus 3:10; 10th, 45th, and 65th Apostolic Canons; 32nd, 33rd, and 37th Canons of Laodicea, etc.). The unhappy fruit of that reform was the violation of the unity of the life in prayer of Orthodox Christians in various countries. While some of them were celebrating Christmas together with heretics, others still fasted. Sometimes such a division occurred in the same local Church, and sometimes Easter [Pascha] was celebrated according to the Western Paschal reckoning. For the sake, therefore, of being nearer to the heretics, that principle, set forth by the First Ecumenical Council that all Orthodox Christians should simultaneously, with one mouth and one heart, rejoice and glorify the Resurrection of Christ all over the world, is violated.

This tendency to introduce reforms, regardless of previous general decisions and practice of the whole Church in violation of the Second Canon of the VI Ecumenical Council, creates only confusion. His Holiness, the Patriarch of Serbia, Gabriel, of blessed memory, expressed this feeling eloquently at the Church Conference held in Moscow in 1948.

Already at that Pan-Orthodox Conference of 1923 at Constantinople, the questions of the second marriage of clergy as well as other matters were raised. And recently, the Greek Archbishop of North and South America, Iakovos, made a statement in favor of a married episcopate (The Hellenic Chronicle, December 23, 1971).

The strength of Orthodoxy has always lain in Her maintaining the principles of Church Tradition. Despite this, there are those who are attempting to include in the agenda of a future Great Council not a discussion of the best ways to safeguard those principles, but, on the contrary, ways to bring about a radical revision of the entire way of life in the Church, beginning with the abolition of fasts, second marriages of the clergy, etc., so that Her way of life would be closer to that of the heretical communities.

Alas! Of late we see the symptoms of such a great development of ecumenism with the participation of the Orthodox, that it has become a serious threat, leading to the utter annihilation of the Orthodox Church by dissolving Her in an ocean of heretical communities.

The recent exchange of letters between Paul Vl, the Pope of Rome, and the Patriarch Athenagoras further elaborates and develops this unorthodox idea to our great vexation.

At yet another conference in Addis Abbaba, the un-Orthodox statements of representatives of the Orthodox Churches were buttressed by Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Rev. V. Borovoy, resulting in a resolution that the mutual Anathemas simply be dropped.

Outdoing even Patriarch Athenagoras, Metropolitan Nikodim, the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate gave communion to Roman Catholic clergymen in the Cathedral of St. Peter on December 14, 1970. He served the Divine Liturgy there, while in violation of Canons, a choir of the students of the Pontifical College sang and Latin clergymen accepted communion from his hands (Diakonia No. 1, 1971).

It is, therefore, upon the grounds stated above that the Most Reverend Members of our Council of Bishops unanimously agreed to recognize ecumenism as a dangerous heresy. Having observed its spread, they asked us to share our observation with our Brother Bishops throughout the world.

We ask them first of all to pray that the Lord spare His Holy Church the storm which would be caused by this new heresy, opening the spiritual eyes of all unto understanding of truth in the face of error.
May our Lord help each of us to preserve the Truth in the purity in which it was entrusted to us undefiled, and to nurture our flocks in its fidelity and piety.

+ Metropolitan PHILARET

"The Thyateira Confession", or Third Sorrowful Epistle
by Metropolitan Philaret, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
An Appeal to the Primates of the Holy Churches of God, and their Eminences the Orthodox Hierarchs:

A great sorrow has been evoked in us by the reading of the so-called "Thyateira Confession," which was recently published in Europe with the special blessing and approval of the Holy Synod and the Patriarch of the Church of Constantinople.*
We know that the author of this book, His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras of Thyateira, previously has shown himself to be a defender of Orthodox truth, and therefore all the less could we have expected from him such a confession, which is far removed from Orthodoxy. However, if this had been only a personal expression of his, we would not have written about it. We are moved to do this, rather, because on his work there rests the seal of approval of the whole Church of Constantinople in the person of Patriarch Demetrius and his Synod. In a special Patriarchal Protocol addressed to Metropolitan Athenagoras it is stated that his work was examined by a special Synodical Committee. After approval of it by this Committee, the Patriarch, in accordance with the decree of the Synod, gave his blessing for the publication of "this excellent work," as he writes. Therefore, the responsibility for this work is transferred from Metropolitan Athenagoras now to the whole hierarchy of Constantinople.

Our previous "Sorrowful Epistles" have already expressed the grief which takes possession of us when, from the throne of Sts. Proclus, John Chrysostom, Tarasius, Photius, and many other Holy Fathers we hear a teaching which without doubt they would have condemned and given over to anathema.

It is painful to write this. How we would have wished to hear from the throne of the Church of Constantinople, which gave birth to our Russian Church, a message of the Church’s righteousness and of confession of the truth in the spirit of her great hierarchs! With what joy we would have accepted such a message and transmitted it for the instruction of our pious flock! But on the contrary, a great grief is evoked in us by the necessity to warn our flock that from this one-time fount of Orthodox confession there now comes forth a message of corruption that causes scandal.

Therefore, with great sorrow we must acknowledge that in the so-called "Thyateira Confession" there has resounded from Constantinople not the voice of Orthodox truth, but rather the voice of the ever more widespread error of ecumenism.
But what will be done now by those whom the Holy Spirit hath made overseers, to shepherd the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28)? Will this false teaching, officially proclaimed in the name of the whole Church of Constantinople, remain without protests by the Hierarchs of God? Will there be further, in the expression of St. Gregory the Theologian, the betrayal of truth by silence?

Being the youngest of those who preside over the Churches, we had wished to hear the voices of our elders before speaking out ourselves. But up to now this voice has not been heard.

President of the Synod of Bishops _of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Metropolitan Philaret
December 6/19, 1975_Day of St. Nicholas, Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia

• "The Thyateira Confession, or The Faith and Prayer of Orthodox Christians," by His Eminence Athenagoras Kokkinakis, Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain. Published with the Blessing and Authorization of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, The Faith Press, 1975.

A Reply to the "Sorrowful Epistle"
by Fr. Alexander Schmemann

These, as one can see, are very grave accusations. The entire Orthodox Church is implied since virtually all autocephalous Churches were represented in Uppsala, sometimes by their highest hierarchs. Patriarch Gherman of Serbia was even elected to the presidency of the WCC. These accusations, moreover, create a malaise among the Orthodox and threaten the very unity of the Church.

We can assure Metropolitan Filaret that he is not alone in having been "greatly shocked" by much of the Uppsala Report. Many pronouncements and actions of Patriarch Athenagoras as well as Archbishop Iakovos, having provoked serious controversies among the Orthodox, are equally open to scrutiny by the Episcopate of the Church Universal.

The total flaw, however, lies in the fact of an open contradiction between the perfectly canonical and traditional stand taken in the "Epistle" and the general policy of the "Russian Church Outside Russia" whose Primate is Metropolitan Filaret.

The facts are well known: the "Russian Church Outside Russia" has unilaterally, without any canonical release, accepted clerics, parishes and monasteries from the jurisdiction of Constantinople, has openly given support and recognition to the Old-Calendarists on the canonical territory of the Church of Greece, etc., and she has done all this explicitly on the basis of the claim that the heresy of the Patriarch and the Archbishop terminates their jurisdiction as Orthodox bishops.

The appeal by one Orthodox bishop to "Primates, Metropolitans, Archbishops and all brother-bishops," if it means anything at all, implies first of all this Bishop recognizes them as brothers i.e., as valid bishops, exercising the fulness of their rights, recognizes the canonical structure of the Orthodox Church and seeks the solution of a problem which be deems very serious through established canonical channels. But this is precisely what the "Russian Church Outside Russia" has consistently denied by her words and deeds. By unilaterally prejudging the question on which at the same time she seems to appeal to the universal Episcopate, by openly transgressing jurisdictional boundaries, by interfering jurisdictionally in the affairs of other Churches, she has created a schism and put herself out of communion with the Church Universal. But, then, what meaning could the "Sorrowful Epistle" have?

These are not petty recriminations but questions of vital importance for the entire Orthodox Church—for her unity and order. There have often been serious disagreements among Orthodox bishops, theologians, Churches, etc. Only a few decades ago, for example, the very founder of the "Russian Church Outside Russia," the late Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, was accused by some of his brothers in the Episcopate of holding and propagating an erroneous doctrine of the Redemption. The famous clash between two leading Russian hierarchs of the eighteenth century, Theophan Prokopovich and Stefan Yavorsky, has been described by Fr. Florovsky as the clash, on the Russian soil, between Latin and Protestant theologies.

One may ask, to which "brothers," to which "Primates" is the "Sorrowful Epistle" addressed? The hierarchs of the Churches behind the Iron Curtain being disqualified as canonical bishops on political grounds; Constantinople as being already condemned; who remains? The Bishops of the Church of Serbia, whose Patriarch, by accepting the presidency of the WCC, is presumably guilty of some heresy? The Church of Greece, where the Church of Metropolitan Filaret openly supports the Old-Calendarists? The Church of Finland which not only has accepted the new calendar but even celebrates Easter according to the Western computation? The Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria who are in communion with both Constantinople and Moscow?

The "Sorrowful Epistle" of Metropolitan Philaret
A Rejoinder to Fr. Alexander Schmemann
by Father Michael Azkoul

As the influence of the Russian Synod is increasingly felt among Orthodox, criticism of her seems also to be rising. The latest falls from the pen of the eminent Orthodox theologian, Father Alexander Schmemann, Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary. It has been more than six months since the appearance of his polemic in The Orthodox Church (Nov., 1969), the official publication of the Russian Metropolia, and no response has been made to it in English. One should be made, because Father Schmemann’s remarks are unjust and directed at a sister-Church.

It is unfortunate that a theologian of his reputation should castigate the Russian Synod, the Supreme Administration of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and that he should use the "Sorrowful Epistle" of Metropolitan Philaret, her leading prelate, as the occasion for his polemic. I wonder, however, if it is significant that his uncharitable reproof appeared on the eve of the disclosure that the Metropolia had been secretly negotiating with the Moscow Patriarchate for autocephaly. I wonder if it is significant that Father Alexander never answers Metropolitan Philaret’s critique of Uppsala. I wonder if it is significant that the charges against the Synod—which have been made and refuted so often before—are compulsively repeated. I wonder if these three matters are related.

The reader is not told that, until recently, the canonicity of the Synod was questioned by no one (save Moscow); that not until the reigns of Basil III and Meletios Metaxakis did the Constantinopolean Patriarchs ever doubt it. Both Basil and Metaxakis supported the so-called "Living Church" movement in Russia and the latter, like Athenagoras I, was a Freemason. It is true, moreover, that His Eminence, Chrysostom Papadopoulos, Archbishop of Athens, was displeased with the opposition of the Russian Church Abroad to the New Calendar; however, he was in friendly correspondence with the Synod. Neither, indeed, does Father Schmemann even mention Patriarch Tikhon’s famous Ukase 362, nor Canon 39 of Quinisext or Apostolic Canon 34, which gave the Synod her right to exist; or the Sremsky-Carlovtzy Convention which gave her form.

Nevertheless, Father Schmemann denies the canonicity of the Synod. He refers to the flight of the Russian bishops before the Bolsheviks as "having abandoned their dioceses... and therefore formally deprived of their jurisdictional rights which a bishop can exercise only within his diocese, but certainly not at large. He would be right if under ordinary circumstances these bishops had "abandoned" their dioceses; but, as we have said, the canon law recognizes the possibility of bishops and churches in exile [1]—even as civil law recognizes governments in exile. He is further unfair to the Synod, because he knows that the bishops who left Russia did, in many instances, take their flocks with them. He knows, too, that the bishops were often driven out and involuntarily cut off from their dioceses. And he is wrong when he says that these bishops may necessarily be considered as no longer possessing "jurisdictional rights" over those flocks which they left. Was St. Athanasius no longer Bishop of Alexandria because he was banished five times by the Roman authorities? Was St. John Chrysostom no longer Patriarch of Constantinople when he was sent into exile by the Emperor? Was St. Martin I no longer Patriarch of Rome when he was brought to Constantinople by order of the Emperor Constans II, and then imprisoned at Cherson where he subsequently died (653)? In other words, historical and political circumstances, as the Fathers and the canons attest, do alter the usual understanding of that relationship which customarily exists between a bishop and his diocese.

I do not think Father Schmemann himself can draw any other conclusion from the facts. He instructed us at the seminary that "intercommunion" must presuppose a common faith and life. If he still believes what he taught us, he must further admit that "intercommunion" without this imperative implies an ecclesiology to which Orthodox cannot adhere. What, then, are the consequences for the Metropolia which seeks autocephaly from Moscow? But more important than this seven-year deception, is it to be denied that, underlying it, we find "the spirit of the times"?

There is, then, a consensus—one which is to be preferred to spatial consensus: the consensus of time. Upon its scales, ecumenism stands in historical judgement, a judgement which Metropolitan Philaret’s Epistle manifests. He appeals to the Orthodox episcopacy "knowing perfectly well" the consensus of historical Orthodoxy.

Comments on the Late Fathers Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff
A Reply to Mr. Ognian Rangachev

During a recent trip to Bulgaria, I had occasion to preach to the Old Calendar Faithful under the omophorion of Bishop Photii of Triaditza. My short, extemporaneous homily was quoted in the Church journal published by the Bulgarian Old Calendarists, leading to a response by Mr. Ognian Rangachev, a fourth-year theology student at Sofia University, in the pages of the official periodical of the Bulgarian Patriarchate. I hasten to respond to the hyperbolic words contained in this most unfortunate article.

The writer in question takes great exception to what he claims was a characterization, in my homily, of the late Fathers Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff as "the most perverted theologians who have spoken within the Orthodox Church." He also notes that I spoke of them as being "not Orthodox, but Uniates." These stark and misleading statements, first, are taken wholly out of the context of my sermon, which was a warning against the "Westernized" theology which is so prevalent in contemporary Orthodox circles. Second, taken out of context and thus misquoted, as they are, these comments certainly do not represent other of my statements, found in a number of articles and books, which admit that, despite their "perversion" by the ecumenical movement and the Western spirit to which they were exposed in the Roman Catholic schools where they received much of their education—my actual accusation—, Fathers Schmemann and Meyendorff did much in America to bring attention to the profound teachings of the Orthodox Church. Third, I did not call these theologians "perverts," as Mr. Rangachev’s selective extractions from my homily would suggest, but observed that they were perverted, to a greater extent than any other of the voices known universally in the contemporary Orthodox Church, by their Western "captivity." And finally, since I live in America and am a witness to the excessive ecumenism preached by these two theologians—to the point of accepting the validity of Greek Catholic ("Uniate") and other heterodox sacraments—, I have every right to express my opinion that they were "Uniates" and not Orthodox, though I am, of course, speaking of their spirit, not of their actual affiliations: they were Westernized Orthodox, that is, "Uniates," in their intellectual outlook.

Let me also say that the late Father Georges Florovsky, the mentor of my vicar Bishop (if Mr. Rangachev will allow us a "venturesome" claim to clerical office) and a friend and spiritual advisor when I was at Princeton, also expressed great reservations about the Orthodoxy of Fathers Schmemann and Meyendorff. Much of their theology, he often told us, he considered "Uniate in tone, if not substance," to use his own words. This was also the opinion held by the outstanding traditionalist theologian, Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky. It seems to me that, though Mr. Rangachev apparently feels that we Old Calendarists cannot reckon ourselves part of the Church, and that when we express strong opinions we are "blasphemous and impertinent," we have every right to speak critically of two Orthodox theologians who, whatever their accomplishments, seriously compromised their Orthodox confession by excessive ecumenism and writings which are not wholly Orthodox (a subject on which I shall subsequently comment at greater length). Nor should we be subjected to vulgar accusations for exercising this right. After all, while I consider the theological spirit of these two men to have been wholly perverted by their ecumenistic leanings and a Western mentality (a tragic thing, given their obvious intellectual and scholarly skills), I consider them to be Orthodox in the technical sense and do not deny that they were Orthodox clergymen. This is a compliment which Mr. Rangachev obviously does not return, since he questions, again, whether we traditionalists ("Old Calendarists") constitute even a Church. He is not alone in his ignorance of the Church’s ecclesiology of resistance, but his unfortunate antipathy is unwarranted, especially since, as I have pointed out, he quotes me out of context, in a hyperbolic spirit, and without granting me the right to offer strong criticism without being accused of impertinence and blasphemy.

With regard to Mr. Rangachev’s assessment of the theology of Fathers Schmemann and Meyendorff, I would ask, first, that he look at their legacy: St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York, an institution which many of the members of Orthodox Church in America consider a center of "liberal ecumenism," tainted as it is by a distaste for monasticism and an anti-Patristic ethos. For example, its present Dean, Father Thomas Hopko, who comes from a Uniate background and is an ecumenical activist formed in the theology of Fathers Schmemann and Meyendorff, has written that it is not a belief of the Orthodox Church that the Virgin Mary gave birth to Christ without the "physical violation" of her virginity. This statement shows both an ignorance of Old and New Testamental exegesis and of the Church’s services, wherein this doctrine is clearly set forth. He also writes that St. Nicholas the Wonderworker was not an ascetic (though the services in the Saint’s honor point out that he was famed for fasting and vigils), influenced as he is by the "de-mythologizing" of St. Nicholas by the Roman Catholic Church. Father Hopko also teaches, as did Fathers Schmemann and Meyendorff, that the Chrismation of a heterodox believer into Orthodoxy constitutes an "acceptance" by Orthodoxy of his heterodox baptism, and not an act of oikonomia by which, to quote the late Blessed Justin of Serbia, the Panmysterion of the Church creates Grace where it was not before. Such ecumenical views, Uniate confusion, and un-Orthodox teachings are the direct legacy of the two theologians in question. That they are known throughout the Orthodox world makes the tragedy of their theological shortcomings—without hyperbole—tragic beyond words.

A Traditionalist Critique of “The Orthodox Church”
by Hieromonk Patapios

In the next section, on the Patriarchate of Alexandria, Bishop Kallistos makes the astonishing statement that the late Patriarch Parthenios III was "intellectually one of the more adventurous of Orthodox Church leaders," who even expressed himself as being "in favour of the ordination of women priests" (ibid.). "Adventurous" is certainly one way of describing a Hierarch who went so far as to say, in an interview in 1989 with a German radio station, that he considered Mohammed to be "an Apostle, a man of God," and then went on to assert that anyone who does not recognize Buddhism and other non-Christian religions as genuine paths to God sins against God (see Orthodoxos Typos, No. 854, October 6, 1989). In saner times, any Bishop who uttered such blasphemies would have been synodally condemned as a heretic, removed from office, and sent to a monastery to live out the remainder of his life in repentance. The present Patriarch, Peter VII, is still more "adventurous," complaining that his predecessor was too conservative; Peter advocated, indeed, in his enthronement address, that the Orthodox Church intensify Her involvement in interfaith dialogue (i.e., dialogue with non-Christians).


A Report to the Sobor of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
by Archbishop Vitaly of Montreal and Canada

ECUMENISM is now at the very doors of our Church. All local Orthodox Churches have become its members, the last being the Serbian Church which was accepted in 1968.


  1. Steve Jackson5/28/2007 9:04 PM

    Speaking of the Eastern Orthodox, if they are so "conservative," then why (as I think the article mentioned) are all (or almost all) the churches members of the WCC and NCC? Not even Rome has decided to join these groups (although I gather it has some sort of 'observer' status).

    I didn't know that "orthodoxy" meant hooking up with groups that have Swedenborgians as members.

  2. Interesting post Steve. I can't wait to join the EO denomination so I experience true Unity in the One True Church. These guys are just as divided as any strand of Protestantism.

    This kind of disunity is clearly contrary to the unity Jesus prayed for in John 17, so the Eastern Orthodox denomination is certainly not the church Jesus founded.


  3. Steve Jackson5/28/2007 9:17 PM

    Incidentally, as someone noted, the one thing that permits the WCC and NCC to parade themselves as spokesmen for Christianity as opposed to liberal protestantism is the membership of the Orthodox.

    Thanks a lot.

  4. Not sure of the point trying to be made by posting this.

    >why (as I think the article mentioned) are all (or
    >almost all) the churches members of the WCC and

    Probably because they asked the Orthodox to be members. It didn't work very well though because the Orthodox fronted up and basicly said we are the Church. The other parties decided they were going to vote on doctrinal statements. The Orthodox said they weren't going to vote with people outside the Church on what is truth, and it kinda fell apart there. It's an uneasy grouping.

  5. Yeah, Orthodox, it all makes perfect sense now. Thanks for clarification. If you weren't here, the ordinary reader like me might very well end up thinking that all your purported unity is just hot air.


  7. Unlike Orthodox, I see the point that you guys are trying to make here. Orthodoxy is not as united as it claims to be, and hence one of its claims to superiority is false.

    However, I think that in a certain sense, Orthodox is on to something. I know what you guys are trying to say, but I would like to see it formulated as an argument. That way we can better assess whether or not it succeeds or fails.

  8. It is the faith held allways, everywhere and by all that speaks for the Church. EVERY statement, made by ANYONE, has to be filtered through it. It doesn't matter how high up the hierachy he is (since we're not RC), or how many studies he has (since we're not Protestants).

  9. Orthodoxy has allways been the mean between two opposing extremes:

    Judaizers and Gnosticism,
    Sabellianism and Tritheism,
    Augustinianism and Pellagianism,
    Nestorianism and Monophysism,
    Iconoclasm and Idolatry,
    Scholasticism and Agnosticism,

    The same is true here: the Patriarch has one tendency, that of economy, but he's taken it too far; the monks, on the other hand, who couldn't care less about diplomacy, go to the other extreme: acrivy. It is PRECISELY THIS (almost mechanical) couple of opposing forces that has helped (and still does help) Orthodoxy to stay on the right course and follow the right path, without any deviation for the last couple of millennia.

    Do You by any chance own or drive a car? [I neither own one, nor know how to drive, but] for what I've been told, it is the driver's job to hold the direction steady, and rotate the steering wheel a little bit to the right (if the car tends to deviate to the left), or vice-versa.

    As Philip Schaff put it, "Such considerations suggest the true position and the just value there-of against both exaggeration and disparagement. [...] It is a light-house, to point out to the ship of speculation, the channel between Scylla and Charybdis, and to save it from stranding upon the reefs".

  10. Orthodoxy claims to be united in THE FAITH. Nothing more, nothing less. We have internal squabbles like every other human orgainization.

  11. hostus twinkius5/31/2007 2:00 PM

    "Orthodoxy claims to be united in THE FAITH. Nothing more, nothing less. We have internal squabbles like every other human orgainization."

    Hey, Protestants are united in THE FAITH. So what's all the hubbub about? Sounds like you're refuting your own arguments here. When we have differences you consider it division, but when it's the EOC we have in view, you consider it to be "internal squabbles". Nice game of dodge ball there. I guess your *structural unity* makes all the difference.

  12. >Hey, Protestants are united in THE FAITH.

    Are you? Please tell us what THE FAITH is, and let's check your definition against various protestant groups.

  13. hostus twinkius6/01/2007 11:43 AM

    THE FAITH is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on the cross for sinners, rose again on the third day, and ascended into heaven to sit down at the right hand of God the Father. And He will come again in great power and glory to vindicate His Name and judge the living and the dead.

    So, check that out and let me know which groups disagree. Thanks