Orthodox Ethos https://orthodoxethos.com/ Orthodox Ethos is a collective effort of ordained and lay Orthodox Christians. Our purpose is to present and support the Orthodox truth, way and life. en-us Copyright 2018 Wed, 27 Jun 2018 00:00:00 +0000 <![CDATA[Jean-Claude Larchet calls for abstinence from social media during fasting periods – Prof. Jean-Claude Larchet]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/jean-claude-larchet-calls-for-abstinence-from-social-media-during-fasting-periods https://orthodoxethos.com/post/jean-claude-larchet-calls-for-abstinence-from-social-media-during-fasting-periods During the first day of the International Conference on Digital Media and Orthodox Pastoral Care in Crete (DMOPC18), the renowned theologian Jean-Claude Larchet said that during the fast seasons Christians ought to reduce their activity on social platforms.

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Petition to all local Churches to include the abstinence from the use of the Internet and social networks explicitly in the rules relating to Lenten periods and fasting days

Presentation at the 2nd International Conference on Digital Media and Orthodox Care (DMOPC 18), June 18-21,2018

New forms of media still called digital media, which are accessed via computers, tablets, and especially now smartphones, and whose content is mainly that of the Internet, social networks, and messages (SMS, MMS, etc.) have invaded the lives of contemporary people and especially those of today’s youth, from the age of 10 and sometimes younger.

Their ability to communicate quickly and almost at no cost, the possibility they provide of accessing nearly everyone and everything, and the power of the images circulated in digital media imbue digital media with a considerable power of seduction. Social pressure (in particular the pressure to conform), but also the economic organization of society, has made these into tools one is almost obliged to have so as not to be excluded from various social, administrative, or economic groups or circles.

Mostly, however, it is a dependence of an internal or psychological nature that has been established among users of all ages. This addiction worries many parents, as it now affects many children, and it is even noted by the users themselves; we see this addiction most clearly in the most severe cases, where drastic treatment, in particular in the form of a long-term total withdrawal from such media, is required, and sometimes clinical psychiatric care as well. Yet this addiction often remains unperceived in less serious cases, since habit is capable of making what is not normal appear to be so. It should be noted: for most users, the use has become abusive.

At this conference, which has brought together actors from the Orthodox media, the media are presented in most cases in a positive way, as either belonging to the ecclesial life or as being something which ought to belong to it, with the idea that they have now become driving forces indispensable to the pastoral and missionary activity of the Church. This quasi-paradisiacal vision, however, must be tempered. In real life, people spend far less time visiting Orthodox sites than they do others, and many young Orthodox remain completely oblivious to them. In the vast majority of cases, the passions that inhabit fallen man attract him to content in conformity with these passions, whether via the choice of sites visited or via the motivations for communicating on social networks such as Facebook, where narcissism (which the Greek Church Fathers call philautia) plays a considerable role, whether in the staging of oneself or in the frenzied quest after "likes" that flatter the ego.

I recently published a 320-page book entitled “Sick of the new media” (in French : Malades des nouveaux médias”), which has been translated into Romanian under the title “Prisoners of the Internet,” and which is currently being translated into English under the title “Addicts of Modern Media.” In this book, I show in a very detailed and reasoned way the negative, corrosive, and destructive effects the new media have on the various spheres of human life: psychic, intellectual, cultural, social, relational, and finally (and especially) spiritual. I also propose a few preventative and therapeutic measures, especially of a spiritual nature. For this presentation, which must be very brief, I have chosen to speak only about fasting and abstinence as means for limiting and controlling the use of new media, which in most cases has become abusive and harmful.

Concerning the consumption of food and sexual activity, the Orthodox Church has established rules of limitation and abstinence for the Lenten periods as well as certain days of the week and of the year.

One of the main purposes of these rules is to accustom the mind to controlling the bodily and psychic impulses, to reorient and refocus the psycho-physiological forces towards the spiritual life, to establish a state of hunger and desire causing a person to sense their dependence on God and their need for Him, and to establish in the soul a peaceful state disposed to penitence and promoting attention and concentration in prayer.

The abuse of new media, which has become common, produces effects contrary to those sought by fasting and abstinence: the vain exhaustion of energy, permanent external solicitation and dispersion, incessant internal movement and noise, an invasive occupation of time, the impossibility of establishing or maintaining inner peace, and the destruction of the attention and concentration necessary for vigilance and prayer.

These effects, it should be stressed, are related to the use of new media once a certain threshold has been reached, regardless of their content. As the great media expert Marshall McLuhan has shown, the medium has a greater impact than the message it conveys, to the point that we can say that “the medium is the message.” This, of course, should not make us forget the question of the content, which, when it is bad, ends up inciting and nourishing the passions, further increasing the degree of incompatibility with the ascetic life broadly understood and harming even more the spiritual life.

The Church must take into account these new circumstances created by our time, and must establish appropriate rules, accompanying those of fasting from food and sexual abstinence, so as to help modern man, through regular voluntary limitation, to free himself from the new addictions that bind him, and so as to give him the means to lead in full the spiritual life befitting his nature and serving as the condition for his true personal development.

One could say that no rule is necessary for this, and that pastoral recommendations suffice; but one could say the same thing, however, with respect to fasting from food or sexual abstinence, for which the Church has established canons, and in solemn manner no less, at Ecumenical Councils, by reason of the fact that rules that formulated officially and with precision have a greater impact, have a more universal scope, and are of a more obligatory character than mere recommendations at the parish level, which moreover are not always made.

The question that arises here is that of the nature of fasting and abstinence practiced.

As mentioned above, it is a matter of limiting the amount of time one is connected and of strictly regulating the use and content of these media. It is necessary to give up being permanently connected, and to limit the connection to one defined period in the day. We need to get rid of unnecessary media, such as social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) and all entertainment websites. Any websites that pose a risk of temptation or leading to bad encounters should obviously be avoided. It is also fitting to limit one’s Internet connection to what is strictly necessary for professional work or studies.

Parents need to teach their children, who use these new media, to implement such a limitation by explaining to them the meaning behind it.

The Lenten periods opportunities open to all for jettisoning the artificial and virtual relationships of social networks so as to rediscover deep, concrete, and real relationships with family and friends, and in general so as to be more attentive to the people around us. These Lenten periods are also opportunities for rediscovering silence and solitude, which are necessary for the practice and development of the spiritual life.

The question that risks provoking ire here in the context of this conference is whether the rule of fasting and abstinence from new media should be extended to Orthodox sites as well. I do not want to put most of the participants in this symposium out of a job, and my aim is even less to limit the presence of the Christian and ecclesial word in a world where it is already too little present.

But first of all, I would like to point out that during the Lenten periods, and especially Great Lent, a number of Orthodox media, especially those with spiritual content, are self-limiting: they either close their sites for a period of time of various length, or at least slow down and restrict their production.

Such a restriction has an exemplary value and testifies in its own way to the existence of Lent and the limitations to which it calls us.

My second remark concerns reading. It is true that in a very positive way, most Orthodox media offer spiritual readings at least in part, and some sites are even devoted solely to such literature. There is therefore no reason, in principle, to limit the production or consultation of such sites, and it seems that it should even be encouraged, insofar as the faithful are encouraged to do more spiritual reading during the Lenten periods.

However, I would like to point out here that the scientific studies that have been done on the methods of reading on a screen show that this type of reading is both rapid and superficial.

On screens, texts appear to us as images. For this reason, the text on a screen becomes the object of a sweeping gaze, just as in the case of an image, with one’s eye usually resting on only a few lines.

One study found that the vast majority of people do not read the text line by line, as they would in a book, but rather jump quickly from the top of the page to the bottom, in a movement generally following the shape of the letter F: they read the first lines, go down a little, read the left part of a few lines, then go down along the left side of the page.

A second study concluded that the average reader on the Internet only reads about 20% of the text.

A third study found that most web pages are viewed at most for 10 seconds, which clearly shows that they are not really being read.

Reading on a screen barely stops on words or phrases. It is a reading where there is little backtracking, and is not very reflexive. It is a superficial reading which hardly gives rise to efforts of comprehension and memorization.

In many ways, new media make the relationship to the text lighter, more unstable, more fragile, more ephemeral.

Fasting periods can and should be periods when the time for and the quality of reading can be regained by abandoning digital media in favour of printed materials, and especially books, which all studies show allow for a much more fruitful reading than do screens, while lacking the disadvantages of the latter.

Completely cutting oneself off from media of any kind during the Lenten periods is an ideal solution for finding the hesychia indispensable to the deepening of the spiritual life, which is precisely the main goal of the fasting periods.

In conclusion, I would like to note that many private clinics and hotels offer longer or shorter stays of total disconnection, starting on the low end at prices of 1000 euros, or about 1200 dollars, per week. The Orthodox Church should officially offer this possibility during the Lenten periods as a guaranteed free service, thus making it accessible to all, and moreover with a spiritual profit not found elsewhere. One of these clinics has as its advertising slogan: “Disconnect to reconnect.” The Church can make this slogan her own by specifying: “Disconnect from new media to reconnect with God and your neighbour.”

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On the Net, in other languages:

DMOPC18: Jean-Claude Larchet calls for abstinence from social media during fasting periods

DMOPC18, Creta: Deschiderea oficială a Conferinței și prima zi de comunicări în plen

DMOPC18: Jean Claude Larchet indeamna la post de social media

DMOPC18: Ζαν-Κλοντ Λαρσέ εκκλήσεις για αποχή από τα social media κατά τη διάρκεια της νηστείας περιόδους

Жан клод ЛарШе позива на апстиненцију од друштвених медија током периода поста

<![CDATA[Homily: Making Our Every Day the Day of the Holy Spirit – Archpriest Peter Heers]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/homily-making-our-every-day-the-day-of-the-holy-spirit https://orthodoxethos.com/post/homily-making-our-every-day-the-day-of-the-holy-spirit <![CDATA[How our world stopped being Christian: anatomy of a collapse – Review by Jean-Claude Larchet of Guillaume Cuchet’s book Comment notre monde a cessé d’être chrétien. Anatomie d’un effondrement [How our world stopped being Christian: anatomy of a collapse] (Paris: Seuil, 2018), 276 pp.]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/how-our-world-stopped-being-christian-anatomy-of-a-collapse https://orthodoxethos.com/post/how-our-world-stopped-being-christian-anatomy-of-a-collapse For half a century, many authors have noted the spectacular decadence of Catholicism in France and more widely in Europe, and have worried about it: Louis Bouyer in The Decomposition of Catholicism (1968), Serge Bonnet in À hue et à dia. The Avatars of Clericalism in the Fifth Republic (1973), Michel de Certeau and Jean-Marie Domenach in Christianity Exploded (1974), Paul Vigneron in A History of the Crises of the Contemporary French Clergy (1976), Jean Delumeau in Will Christianity die? (1977), Emile Poulat in The Post-Christian Era (1994), Bishop Simon in Towards a Pagan France? (1999), Denis Pelletier in The Catholic Crisis (2002), Danièle Hervieu-Léger, Catholicism: The End of a World (2003), Yves-Marie Hilaire in Will the Churches Disappear? (2004), Denis Pelletier, in The Catholic Crisis: Religion, Society, Politics in France (1965–1978) (2005), Emmanuel Todd and Hervé Le Bras in The French Mystery (2013), and Yvon Tranvouez in The Decomposition of Western Christianity (2013).

In this book — the title of which plays on that of Paul Veyne’s book When Our World Became Christian, yet announces the inversion of the process whose beginnings the latter analysed — Guillaume Cuchet, professor of contemporary history at the University of Paris-Est Créteil who specialises in the history of Catholicism, proposes to define the moment when this decadence began and to determine the reasons for it. One of the main scientific tools he uses is statistical analysis, and one of the objective criteria he considers is the rate of regular Sunday church attendance among the French population, which has declined from 27% in 1952 to 1.8% in 2017. This criterion can be challenged because, according to a recent article in the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, one can be a “practicing” Catholic with other commitments. True, in the absence of such a Sunday practice, a Christian culture can last for a while; but the loss of contact with liturgical life can only lead to its gradual weakening and eventual disappearance.

The first third of the book defines adherence to Catholicism as it appears from a mass of statistical data compiled by the clergy between 1945 and 1965, and in particular statistics carefully and regularly established over a wider period (1880–1965) by Canon Boulard, a sociologist and author of the four-volume work Materials for the Religious History of the French People, 19th–20th Centuries.

According to Cuchet, it is in the 1960s — more precisely in 1965 — that the rupture inaugurating the process of Catholic decadence in France can be dated. This break coincides with the Second Vatican Council, which is paradoxical, since this council was designed, by those who organised it, as an aggiornamento to vivify a Catholicism confronted with the modern world. Yet as the author, after examining various hypotheses, points out, “we do not see what other event could have generated such a reaction. By its mere existence, to the extent that it suddenly made possible the reform of the old norms, the council was enough to shake them, especially since the liturgical reform which concerned the most visible part of religion for most people began to be implemented as early as 1964."

In the second half of his book, the author precisely analyses the causes, related to the council, of the rupture and process of decadence which continues today throughout the world.

The council caused the faithful to lose their bearings. The conciliar text published in 1965 on religious freedom, Dignitatis humanae, appeared “as a kind of unofficial authorisation to rely on one’s own judgment with regard to beliefs, behaviour, and practice, which contrasted strongly with the former system.” This occasioned Father Louis Bouyer’s sad remark: “Nobody believes anymore; everyone does only what they want.”

In the area of piety, notes Cruchet, aspects of the liturgical reform which might appear secondary, but which were not at all on the psychological and anthropological level, played an important role. This included the abandonment of Latin, the reception of Communion in the hand, and the relativisation of old ties. To this can be added the criticisms of solemn communion which increased starting in 1960 and especially in 1965, as well as the new pastoral practices around baptism (from 1966) and marriage (from 1969–1970), which tended to increase the level of access to the sacraments by requiring more preparation and personal investment on the part of those wishing to receive them.

In the area of beliefs, the very fact of there being a change in discourse was what mattered. Variation in official teachings made skeptics out of the humble faithful, who concluded that if the institution had been “mistaken” yesterday in declaring as immutable what had ceased to be, one could not be assured that the same would not occur in the future. A whole series of old “truths” suddenly fell into oblivion, as if the clergy themselves had ceased to believe in them or did not know what to say about them after having spoken of them for so long as something essential.

Another area in which this situation was able to destabilise the faithful, notes the author, is “that of the image of the Church, its hierarchical structure and the priesthood. The ‘Catholic crisis’ of the years 1965–1978 was at first a crisis of the clergy and Catholic militants. The abandonment of the cassock (from 1962) and the religious habit, the politicisation (towards the left) of the clergy, the departure of priests, religious and nuns, appeared to many as a real ‘betrayal of the clergy’ without equivalent since the French Revolution, which had had the same destabilising effects.”

Furthermore, “the council paved the way for what might be called ‘a collective exit from the obligatory practice on pain of mortal sin,’ which occupied a central place in ancient Catholicism. [...] This ancient culture of obligatory practice was mainly expressed in the area of the ‘commandments of the Church,’ which children learned by heart at catechism and the guarding of which had to be verified during the examination of conscience when preparing for confession. This also included the duty of keeping Sundays and feast days holy, of confessing sins, and of receiving Holy Communion at least once a year; [and] of fasting on Fridays, on the eves of great feasts, and during the so-called "Four Seasons" of Lenten periods. All these requirements were relaxed to the point of disappearing with the exception of Communion, which became systematic and was received without any preparation, since confession and fasting had practically disappeared. The easing of the Eucharistic fast, however, had been accomplished in several preliminary stages: in 1953, Pius XII, while maintaining the obligation of fasting from midnight on before communion, decided that the intake of water would no longer break it; in 1957, the motu proprio entitled Sacram communionem reduced fasting to three hours for solid food and one hour for liquids; in 1964, Paul VI decreed that one hour sufficed in both cases, which meant in practice the disappearance of the Eucharistic fast, since one hour is the time of travel to church and the duration of the Mass before communion.

During this conciliar and post-conciliar period, “it is striking," notes the author, “to see to what extent the clergy voluntarily removed the old system of norms which they had so much difficulty putting in place,” inevitably creating in the people the feeling that one had “changed their religion,” and provoking amongst some of them an impression of generalised relativism.

The author dedicates two whole chapters to the causes of decadence which seem to him fundamental: the crisis of the sacrament of penance and the crisis of the preaching on the Last Things.

1) According to Cuchet, “The crisis of confession is one of the most revealing and striking aspects of the ‘Catholic crisis’ of the years 1965–1978.” “The decline of confession is in itself a major sociological and spiritual fact that historians and sociologists probably have not taken full measure of: nothing less, in fact, than the overwhelming transformation by massive abandonment, in the space of only a few years, of a practice which over a long period of time had profoundly shaped Catholic attitudes. In 1952, 51% of Catholic adults admitted going to confess at least once a year (at Easter, it had been obligatory since the promulgation of Canon 21 of the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215); in 1974, this had decreased to only 29%, and in 1983, to 14%. According to the author, the breaking point is around 1965–1966, when confession ceased to be presented as the “sacrament of penance,” and began to be presented as the “sacrament of reconciliation.” This went hand in hand with the following:

- the end of the aforementioned “obligatory practice” and a decriminalisation of the abstention from religious practice, previously considered as a sin inasmuch as this was a breaking with the commandments of the Church, which were presented as duties one was compelled to fulfil;

- a loss of the sense of sin in the conscience of many faithful, but also among the clergy who now feared to evoke this notion, as well as that of the Last Things. The author notes in this regard: “The clergy have quite abruptly stopped speaking on all these delicate subjects, as if they had stopped believing in them themselves, while at the same time a vision of a Rousseau kind of God carried the day: the “Love God” (and no longer merely “God of love”) of the years 1960–1970.” As one old Breton peasant summarised in the early 1970s in an interview with the sociologist Fañch Élégoët, “The priests have paved the road to heaven.” Once narrow and steep, it was now a highway used by almost everyone. With such a road at hand, if there were no longer any sin or hell, or at least some serious sin that could deprive you of heaven, the usefulness of confession, in its traditional definition, was actually less obvious”;

- a disconnect between confession and communion. “In the old system, we confessed more than we communed, and confession was first perceived as a sort of purification ritual conditioning access to the Eucharist.” The development of frequent communion, accompanied by the loss of a sense of sin, as well as the idea among some clergy — influenced by psychoanalysis — that it was necessary to liberate the faithful from feeling guilty and to “free them from the confessional” had as a consequence that the faithful were now invited to communion without needing to confess. Communion then became trivialised, while the very possibility of confession practically did not exist any more, the regular individual confessions being replaced, starting in 1974, by “penitential ceremonies” celebrated once a year before Easter. At these gatherings, the faithful did not confess anything (the author calls these ceremonies “forms of penance without confession”) but received a collective absolution after listening to a vague speech in which the notion of sin was most often bypassed. And when the possibility of confessing remained in some parishes or was later restored, “the faithful did not know very well how to confess, or even if it was still useful to do so.”

2) The last chapter is devoted to a cause of decadence which seems equally fundamental to the author: the crisis of the preaching on the “Last Things.” In the chapter’s title, the author wonders whether that might not mean in the background “the end of salvation,” and he notes that in ancient catechisms and theological treatises, an important place was given to death, judgment, and the two final destinations of the hereafter, hell and paradise. Worried as early as December 1966 at seeing them disappear from teaching and preaching, the bishops of France noted: “Original sin [...], as well as the Last Things and Judgment, are points of Catholic doctrine directly related to salvation in Jesus Christ and whose presentation to the faithful actually makes it difficult for many priests to teach them. We do not know how to talk about them.” Shortly before this, Cardinal Ottaviani, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had noted that original sin had almost completely disappeared from contemporary preaching. Cuchet remarks that it was not only a pastoral and pedagogical problem of presenting dogma, but also that “in reality, it was indeed a problem of faith and doctrine, and a discomfort shared between the clergy and the faithful. Everything happened as if, quite suddenly, at the end of a whole work of underground preparation, whole parts of the ancient doctrine considered hitherto as being essential, such as judgment, hell, purgatory, the devil, had become unbelievable for the faithful and unthinkable for theologians.” The author situates this crisis (although it had had some warning signs for some time) in the 1960s, along with the crisis of confession, noting that the former is closely related to the latter: “The collapse of the practice of confession follows an identical chronology, in particular the virtual disappearance in a few years, or even a few months, of the group that once was so common among those who confessed frequently. The relationship is directly, if not exclusively, linked with the erasure of the notion of mortal sin (in the sense of sin making one liable to damnation). But it also had implications on other sacraments related to the Last Things. In the new ritual of baptism, the exorcisms were considerably reduced (because it did not seem desirable to insist on the role of Satan, in whose existence some clergy no longer believed and who seemed to belong to a mythology from which the faithful, judged to be naive, were to be freed); there was also a clear mocking of original sin, from which [baptism] was supposed to deliver so as to secure eternal life.”

As far as baptism is concerned, another reform was to cause the disaffection of many of the faithful: beginning in December 1965, “a new pastoral ministry of baptism, whose primary concern until now was to have children baptised as soon as possible, on the contrary, [strove] on the contrary to put off the date so as to involve the parents more in the preparation.” It should be added that a certain number of priests went so far as to discourage the baptism of children on the pretext that it must be a free, voluntary, and fully conscious act, and advocated postponing the discussion of baptism until they had reached adolescence.

Approaching his conclusion, the author emphasises again the catastrophic effects of the crisis of the 1960s on the dogmatic conscience of the faithful, which in a way had become Protestantised: “The consecration of the freedom of conscience by the council has often been interpreted in the Church, unexpectedly at first, as a new freedom of the Catholic conscience, implicitly allowing it to distinguish between dogmas and practices of obligation. The very notion of dogma (as obligatory belief in conscience) then became problematic. This major decision of the council, coupled with the notion of a “hierarchy” of truths, seems to have operated in the minds of many as a kind of official decriminalisation of the “DIY believer” which contrasted greatly with the previous system, where the truths of the faith were to be taken as a whole and not by pick-and-choose. It was to be expected that the most disagreeable of these [tenets], or those most counter-intuitive to common sense, would pay the price, and this did not fail to occur.”

Whatever the external factors might have been that could have played a role in the collapse of Catholicism (modern attitudes, social pressure, etc.), the internal factors are what appear to be decisive according to the author of this book.

Catholicism itself bears a heavy responsibility in the dechristianisation of France (and more broadly of Europe, because an analysis made for other countries would lead to identical conclusions). The aggiornamento realised by the Second Vatican Council, and which had proposed to face the challenges of the modern world, did nothing but adapt itself to the latter; thinking to bring the world to its side, it ended up giving in to the world, and despite wanting to be heard in the secular sphere, Catholicism has instead become secularised. Fearing to assert its identity, it became relativised to the point that a large number of faithful no longer found in it the signposts to which they had been accustomed or that they expected, and no longer saw the point of seeking in Catholicism what the world already offered them in a less roundabout way.

The Catholic authorities seek to minimise the collapse described in this book by various arguments (a large number of French remain Catholic and have their children baptised; religious practice is measured by commitments other than Mass attendance; quality has replaced quantity, etc.). Yet they struggle to convince. John Paul II is often presented as having engineered a recovery from the excesses that followed Vatican II, but it must be noted that Sunday religious observance in France declined from 14% at the time of his election to 5% at the time of his death in 2005. If it is true that living communities existing in cities can provide a false example (as was also the case with the few churches open during the Communist period in the Eastern Bloc, crowded on account of others being closed), as well as the spectacular gathering of young people during the World Youth Days, the French countryside nevertheless shows the reality of a dramatic desertification: the multiplication of disused churches (that is to say, churches no longer acting as place of worship); priests having the care of twenty or even thirty parishes and celebrating every Sunday a “regional” Mass for a small group of faithful, mostly elderly and sometimes coming from several dozen kilometres away; the disappearance of burials celebrated by priests due to the lack of available celebrants; the lack of contact between priests and faithful because of their mutual distance and the unavailability of the former, who are more occupied with clerical meetings than with pastoral visits ...

The sad evolution of the post-conciliar Catholic Church, as described in Cuchet’s book, should serve as a warning to the Orthodox bishops and theologians who have dreamt and still dream of calling for a “Great Orthodox Council” similar to that by which the Catholic Church wanted to accomplish its aggiornamento, but whose main effect was to provoke its internal disintegration and the dramatic haemorrhage of a large number of its faithful.

Jean-Claude Larchet

Source : orthodoxie.com


<![CDATA[On the Patristic and 'Post-Patristic' View of Education and Salvation – Archpriest Peter Heers, D.Th.]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/on-the-patristic-and-post-patristic-view-of-education-and-salvation https://orthodoxethos.com/post/on-the-patristic-and-post-patristic-view-of-education-and-salvation ST. EMMELIA WEST CONFERENCE: “HAVE FAITH”
APRIL 19-22, 2018

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Venerable Fathers, Esteemed Colleagues, Brothers and Sisters,

Christ is Risen!

It is an honor and a joy to join you, my fellow Orthodox home-schoolers, here today in this beautiful retreat center and near the Monastery of the Theotokos the Life-Giving Spring.

I would like to thank the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Homeschooling and Fr. Noah Bushelli, as well as the St. Kosmas Orthodox Homeschool Association and Christine Hall, for the invitation to speak to you today.

The title of my talk is, most likely, a little disorienting for many of you. I am sure you all know what patristic means, but what does “post-Patristic” mean? The term itself is used in the sense of relativism, partial or total questioning, re-evaluation, a new reading, or even the transcendence of the thought of the Fathers of the Church.

When we speak of post-Patristic theology or theologians this refers to a contemporary movement among a small but unfortunately growing segment of academic theologians, mainly in Greece and America, who are calling on the Church to, among much else, “move beyond the fathers” of the Church, to “reinterpret our dogmatic teaching,” and to consider all heterodox Christians as a part of the One Church. (1)

According to Professor Demetrios Tselingides:

“This movement of so-called “post-Patristic” theologians which has appeared in recent years, is organically embedded in [today’s] broader, secularized, theological climate, and particularly in the spirit of Ecumenism itself... Certainly, this movement also has Protestant influences, which are particularly clear in the scientific nature of the attitude of the “post-Patristic” theologians to the theological teaching of the Holy Fathers.” (2)

The two most basic presuppositions which “post-Patristic” theology/theologians ignore are:

1. That the experience of Spiritual Life in Christ in the Church is the foundational presupposition of theologizing in an Orthodox and delusion-free manner.

2. Orthodox and delusion-free theology is only produced by those who have been cleansed of the impurity of their passions and, moreover, those who have been enlightened by the uncreated rays of divinizing Grace.

When holiness or even Orthodox theological methodology of “following the holy Fathers” is set aside, “the adoption of theological reflection and speculation is inevitable.” (3) Here is where the post-patristic theologians and the infamous Barlaam of Calabria converge “in a theology which is anthropocentric and has as its criterion selfvalidating reason.” (4)

Let’s refresh our memory a bit about Barlaam and his theology. The patrologist Panagiotis Chrestou explains:

“Barlaam bore the influence of the Renaissance, which began to rise at this time, and he considered the revelation of God to be static, limited to biblical times, and he denied that it existed in the current life of the Church, namely the experience of the monks. At the same time he sought a new authenticity, outside of Christianity, personified by the great philosophers of ancient times.

He thus explained the revelation of God based on Greek philosophy and not on the basis of the hesychastic tradition, which survived vibrantly in the Eastern Christian Roman Empire, especially Mount Athos. This is the reason why Barlaam was in opposition to Athonite monasticism, as it was expressed by Saint Gregory Palamas.” (5)

“Just as Barlaam and his followers doubted the uncreated nature of the divine light and divine grace, so too contemporary “post-patristic” theologians effectively ignore the uncreated and, therefore, enduring character of the sanctity and teaching of the Godbearing Fathers, whom they attempt to replace, as regards teaching, by producing their own original theology. This is not a battle against the Fathers, of an external nature, but in essence a battle against God, because what makes the Fathers of the Church really Fathers is their uncreated sanctity, which, indirectly but to all intents and purposes, these theologians set aside and cancel out with their “post-Patristic” theology.”

You are probably all wondering, that is all fine and good, but what does it have to do with homeschooling our children? I am glad you asked. Allow me to connect the dots.

Two main characteristics of Barlaamism that we see re-emerging today are:

• The interpretation of Holy Scripture based on philosophical and dialectic reasoning as well as thoughtful analysis and not on the living hesychastic experience.

• The view that theology, or the knowledge of God, is the objective experience of the senses, the imagination and logical processes, and not the fruit of personal experience, which is how the hesychast monks experienced it.

This idea that one can make progress on the path of salvation, or that it is even obtained through the ascent of the rational intellect to the knowledge about God, is ever so slightly creeping into Orthodox homeschooling rhetoric, most surely unbeknownst to most.

Allow me to give you a few examples:

1. The direct association of education, study and reflection, with theosis, as if the former were means to the later.

2. The idea that the goal of our reading and writing and rhetoric is theosis, again implying the one leads to the other.

3. The putting of the the Holy Tradition of the Fathers on equal footing with the tradition of Ancient Greece, and claiming that both can help train us to overcome the passions.

4. And, finally, the idea that education is itself a means by which we can overcome the passions, as opposed to a preparatory step, much like, as the Apostle Paul writes, “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith, after which “we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Gal 3:24).

Keep these four examples in mind as we now turn to look at the approach of the Holy Fathers to Classical Education.

1. The Fathers of the Church and Classical Education

The Fathers of the Church are today often held up as great examples of the indispensability of including pagan, classical literature in Christian education. Undoubtedly, some Fathers were well versed in classical literature and philosophy, perhaps as few of their contemporaries. Of this, no one can doubt.

Did, however, the great hierarchs of the Church become great theologians because of their classical education? Or, were their years spent in reading pagan philosophy and literature a prerequisite to become great theologians?

If one remembers the famous patristic saying, "If you are a theologian you truly pray. If you truly pray you are a theologian,” (6) the answer is apparent. A better question is: did the Great Hierarchs use their pagan education as a tool in their pastoral and apologetic work for the upbuilding of the Church? The answer to this is, of course, yes.

The Fathers of that age were shepherds of their rational flocks and indeed the entire Church at a time of great change, straddling, as it were, the outgoing Pagan world and the rising Christian empire. Their pastoral task was to speak of heavenly truths to earthbound wise-men in terms and a language which they understood. In order to understand their engagement with what we now call the “classical world” and its philosophy and mythology, it is crucial always to have this pastoral context in mind. In particular, one must understand that they were first of all approaching pagan, nonChristian culture and literature kat’oikonomia or according to pastoral condescension and not in search of the knowledge of God. Their employment (and transformation) of philosophical terms and ideas was not an end in itself but chiefly a means by which to bring uninitiated men to "the full knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 3:7).

2. Two Types of Wisdom

In the writings of the Three Hierarchs, but also in the epistles of the Apostles Paul and James, and indeed the entire patristic tradition, there are two types of wisdom:

• ἄνωθεν, from above (or divine and true) and

• θύραθεν, from without (or human and worldly)

Each type of wisdom has limits as to its development, its aims and the means by which it is acquired.

The wisdom which comes from above (ἄνωθεν), from God, by revelation, is obtained by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. It is not limited, as is human knowledge. God Himself is revealed in His divine energies (actions). His mysterious presence in creation is inscrutable. It cannot be subjected to human inspection and proof. Man either receives God's mysteries with faith (trust), and sees that "God is good," or he rejects them.

The ἄνωθεν wisdom leads man to salvation, to regeneration, to taking man from the image to the likeness of God, to his perfection. Divine wisdom makes the passionate, impassive, the earthly, heavenly, the mindless, Godly-minded, the mortal, immortal.

The wisdom which comes from men, or θύραθεν, is obtained by human means, with study and reflection. Within human, θύραθεν, wisdom, the mind is taught to judge, to meditate upon, to follow principles and human rules of logic, in order to examine the earthly, the created. It cannot, however, thereby judge and examine that which is from above, and that which is uncreated (See: 1 Cor. 2: 6-16)

The following passage from the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians is very enlightening for us in our examination of the two wisdoms:

“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor 2:6 - 16)

Hence, this θύραθεν or worldly wisdom is not necessary for salvation and must not become an end in itself. Contrast this with the thinking of Barlaam, as summarized by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos:

“Barlaam gives priority to "outer wisdom" or philosophy, which even monks should seek, because only through human wisdom can we achieve dispassion, to approach perfection and sanctification. This is because he considers Greek education to be a gift from God similar to the revelation given to the Prophets and Apostles.” (7)

If worldly wisdom cannot be claimed as a means to salvation, it can, however, cooperate with and assist the heaven-sent (ἄνωθεν) wisdom toward the supreme aim of our salvation. It should been seen as a tool, and its value, then, lies in its use and it depends upon the proper perspective and disposition of the one employing it, whether or not he has respect for the things of God, according to the psalmist, "the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God (Psalm 110/11:10).

In this perspective, then, we can see that the Holy Fathers' use of the terms and ideas put forward by the human wisdom of their day was a pastoral tool, a pastoral condescension - with full respect, but also full knowledge of the limits of that wisdom.

When classical educators look for Patristic support for, as one writer put it, seeking “the face of God” in pagan literature, they cite first and almost exclusively St. Basil the Great. In his famous "Address to Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature" the Saint wrote the following:

“Now, then, altogether after the manner of bees must we use these writings, for the bees do not visit all the flowers without discrimination, nor indeed do they seek to carry away entire those upon which they light, but rather, having taken so much as is adapted to their needs, they let the rest go. So we, if wise, shall take from heathen books whatever befits us and is allied to the truth, and shall pass over the rest. And just as in culling roses we avoid the thorns, from such writings as these we will gather everything useful, and guard against the noxious.” (8)

First of all, it is apparent here that far from rushing indiscriminately, headlong into pagan literature the Saint is selectively lighting on that which is redeemable, salvaging what he can from the noxious writings of “natural men” (1 Cor. 6:14-16).

Secondly, although it is not debated that St. Basil knew classical Greek literature as a whole very well, it needs to be said his education was obtained long before his initiation into Christ and it was a providential preparation and apologetical tool to better wield the ultimate weapon, the Truth revealed in Christ and manifest in the Holy Scriptures.

What is often overlooked, however, in this discussion is that the Fathers had little choice in the matter. In the Fourth century the mainstream education curriculum was based on Ancient Greek literature and thus the youths’ encounter with it, including mythology and other fiction, was a given. St. Basil had no choice but to prepare young people for the texts that they were going to encounter.

We need to remember that St. Basil and his friend, St. Gregory of the Theologian, although raised in Christian homes, had undergone this education before being baptized and although both were quite familiar with pagan myths, they harshly ridiculed them. (9) Reading pagan fiction (mythology) was, then, not a choice made in adulthood, post baptism.

St. Basil himself in Epistle 223 (PG 32, 824AB) writes that he wept many tears for the days of his adolescence which he had spent in vain, studying philosophy, the “wisdom of this world that God made foolish” (1 Cor. 1: 20). It is only logical to assume that what he writes concerning philosophy applies much more to mythology (or fiction):

Much time had I spent in vanity, and had wasted nearly all my youth in the vain labour which I underwent in acquiring the wisdom made foolish by God (cf. 1 Cor. 1:20). Then once upon a time, like a man roused from deep sleep, I turned my eyes to the marvellous light of the truth of the Gospel, and I perceived the uselessness of “the wisdom of the princes of this world, that come to naught” (1 Cor. 2:6). I wept many tears over my miserable life and I prayed that guidance might be vouchsafed me to admit me to the doctrines of true religion. First of all was I minded to make some mending of my ways, long perverted as they were by my intimacy with wicked men. Then I read the Gospel, and I saw there that a great means of reaching perfection was the selling of one's goods, the sharing them with the poor, the giving up of all care for this life, and the refusal to allow the soul to be turned by any sympathy to things of earth. And I prayed that I might find some one of the brethren who had chosen this way of life, that with him I might cross life's short and troubled strait. And many did I find in Alexandria, and many in the rest of Egypt, and others in Palestine, and in Cœle Syria, and in Mesopotamia. I admired their continence in living, and their endurance in toil; I was amazed at their persistency in prayer, and at their triumphing over sleep; subdued by no natural necessity, ever keeping their souls' purpose high and free, in hunger, in thirst, in cold, in nakedness (cf. 2 Cor. 11:27) they never yielded to the body; they were never willing to waste attention on it; always, as though living in a flesh that was not theirs, they showed in very deed what it is to sojourn for a while in this life, and what to have one's citizenship and home in heaven. All this moved my admiration. I called these men's lives blessed, in that they did in deed show that they “bear about in their body the dying of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:10). And I prayed that I, too, as far as in me lay, might imitate them.

What the Saint describes here is essentially his inner, spiritual conversion and coming to the knowledge of the truth of life in Christ, a process which led away from the vanity of the worldly wisdom of “natural men” to the wisdom from above found in the ascetics and under the direction of a spiritual father.

3. The Diachronic Witness of the Fathers on the Superiority of Christian Wisdom

Throughout the history of the Church the stance of the Saints’ has been consistent: they commend the study of classical learning, with discernment, but give clear precedence to Christian wisdom. The example of St. Photios the Great is indicative:

While supporting classical learning along side of spiritual formation St. Photios advises:

“Give yourself over to our own noble muses too, seeing that these differ from those of the Pagans as much as freemen differ from slaves and as much as truth differs from flattery. . . . True, divine gladness, that which is proper to man. . . Springs from the Holy Scriptures and our zealous study of them.” (10)

There is a clear hierarchy of things pertaining both to man’s make-up and to his education and formation. It is no accident that the Lord chose fishermen rather than Pharisees as his disciples, thus pointing to the superiority of His Grace over the power of the human mind. St. Photios, responding to a question concerning how the illiterate Apostles managed to overcome Pagan rhetoric, writes:

“If the mind is greater than the written word, and divine grace is - by an incomprehensible measure - greater than the mind, then you ought not at all to be surprised if the Apostles, who possessed the greater [mind] and the greatest [divine grace] completely overwhelmed those - I mean, the rhetors and philosophers - who showed great arrogance on account of their possession of the least.” (11)

One needs to always have this hierarchy in mind, both when reading the Scriptures and Fathers and teaching their children, otherwise he will be misled into believing that, unlike the Holy Apostles, the Great Hierarchs were “great” because of their worldly education and not their spiritual initiation.

Another example brought forth by St. Photios to illustrate this hierarchy and the pastoral condescension of the Saints is the stance of the Apostle Paul when he spoke to the pagans in Athens concerning the altar of an unknown god (Acts 17:23). Fr. Theodore Zisis summarizes St. Photios the Great’s commentary on this as follows:

“The Apostle Paul’s use of classical idioms..does not mean that he somehow abandoned his basic position that the truth must be built upon spiritual realities alone ‘comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” for it is indeed he who calls ‘the Mosaic law itself chaff, when compared to the supreme wisdom of Christ.’ It would be truly unworthy of Paul’s divine illumination were he to ‘compose truth from myths.’ On the contrary, here is simply condescending to the Athenians’ weakness, to their spiritual infancy, which would not allow them to see the truth directly, thereby pedagogically preparing them so that the truth’s rays might illumine their minds.” (12)

4. Coming to the Knowledge (Epignosis) of the Truth

The Fathers’ primary task, then, as shepherds and catechists was not simply to teach, much less to inform, but rather to initiate a proud and rationalist world into the Mystery of the Gospel. This is the heart of the work of the catechist or teacher: to initiate his disciple into the event of Pentecost. In fact, the Greek word for catechism, ῾κατήχηση῾, is formed from the event of Pentecost, when a sound (ήχος) came down (κάτω) from heaven.

The aim of the Fathers' pastoral work was not one of moral improvement or rational development but of supra-rational communion with the Holy Trinity, which presupposes repentance, purification and initiation. To paraphrase the Apostle of Love, "that which they had seen and heard from the beginning," that of which they had επίγνωσης, or first-hand, experiential knowledge, that they declared unto the 4th century pagan world, "that they may also have communion" with them and the Holy Trinity.

The Holy Fathers did not believe that salvation was simply a matter of obtaining γνώσης (knowledge), but, rather, επίγνωσης, experiential knowledge of God Himself, of His uncreated energies, which meant first of all entry into the Church and initiation into the life in Christ. This initiation was a process of purification and illumination, of divesting oneself of the passions and heretical ideas of the rationalists and investing oneself with the mind of Christ and Orthodox phronema or mindset; of putting off the old man of sin and death and putting on the resurrected and ascended humanity of Christ.

Enlightenment for the Holy Fathers did not chiefly mean the acquiring of knowledge ABOUT God, ABOUT the truth in terms of ideas - although this can be helpful and an important preparatory step - but rather all learning was meant to lead to personal, experiential knowledge of the Truth Incarnate. They undoubtedly encountered in their day that which the Apostle Paul describes as a characteristic of the last days, namely, men who had "the form of piety" but denied "the power thereof," who are "always learning" but "never able to come to a full knowledge (επίγνωσης) of the truth" (2 Tim. 3:5,7).

This is a characteristic of the heretical man: having lost the ethos or way of life he innovates and shipwrecks with regard to the dogma or truth of Christ. Or vice-versa: having ignored or devalued the dogmas of the Church as the basis of spiritual life, he soon falls into a worldly, grace-obstructing way of life.

Thus, given the ever-imminent threat of heresy, much of the Fathers' pastoral and catechetical work consisted of the struggle against heresy and heretically-minded men.

The heretics used worldly philosophy to logically examine and pronounce upon the things of God which surpassed logic - and they did this without the necessary prerequisite of experience. Our Saints fought heresy at its root, stressing in word and deed that dogmatic Truth and the Way or Ethos of Christ are inseparable, two sides of the same coin; that there is no possibility for the autonomy of one from the other; and that the loss of one is the loss of the whole.

As St. John Chrysostom wrote:

"There is no benefit from a pure life when one professes heretical dogma and, likewise, the opposite is true: right dogma is of no benefit when one leads a corrupt life." [Οὐδέν ὄφελος βίου καθαροῦ, δογμάτων διεφθαρμένων, ὥσπερ οὐδέ τοὐναντίον, δογμάτων ὑγιῶν, ἐάν ὁ βίος ᾖ διεφθαρμένος» P.G. 53,31 καί P.G. 59, 369]

And elsewhere:

"Let us not think that holding the faith alone is sufficient for salvation, if we do not also show forth a pure life." [Μηδέ νομίζωμεν ἀρκεῖν ἡμῖν πρός σωτηρίαν τήν πίστιν, ἐάν μή βίον ἐπιδειξώμεθα καθαρόν. - P.G. 59, 77]

For him who has a corrupt life it is a matter of time that he will adopt heretical dogmas. And, although we are not to concern ourselves with the corrupt lives of others, we are called to examine the dogma and the faith of others - including bishops. We judge on the basis of that which we have all inherited, both in our Chrismation and in the Holy Tradition.

In Church life today we observe the tragic consequences when clergy and laity ignore the inseparable relation of faith and life, both with the temptation on the left and that on the right. Whether one has shipwrecked in terms of faith or in terms of life, it matters little to the enemy of our salvation. His aim is to remove us from the full life of the Church, to deprive us of the Grace of God and make us into the "world." Whether you exit the Church on the right or the left, he cares not - so long as you exit, so long as you are removed from the Mystery and Mysteries.

5. The Work of Initiating our Children into the Mystery

There is a great pitfall that we can all slip into, following, as we are often encouraged to do, not the illumined and deified (of which there are few) but the academic “experts.” Namely, it is to make the goal of our education μάθηση (fact learning) as opposed to επίγνωσης (experiential knowledge) and μύηση (initiation). The focus of our work becomes producing intellectuals and academics, quite knowledgeable about many things, no doubt, but not initiated into the Mystery.

When the spiritual and intellectual center of our education moves from the altar to the podium, or from the Gospel book to the text book, or from The Prayer to social work, then we have acquired the "form of piety" without "the power thereof". In such a case, the "επίγνωσης of the truth" - the experience of, communion with, Christ - will remain something sought for but never actualized. And then the fearful words of our Lord will be applied:

"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt hath lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." (Matt. 5:13)

One cause of falling into this tragic error is the loss of discernment in how to "hierarchize", or prioritize spiritual matters. This error, in turn, is caused by the encroachment of the worldly spirit due to alienation from the ascetic life as the presupposition of participation in the Mystery and Mysteries of Christ.

If we truly wish to be "followers of the Holy Fathers," to be Orthodox in practice, it is necessary that we also be following them in the presuppositions of their dogmatic teaching, which is, namely, their life in the Holy Spirit, the pre-requisite of which is purification from the passions and enlightenment of the intellect through God's divinizing Grace. This purification from the passions is considered of greater importance than theology itself by the great Theologian himself, St. Gregory, for only then can the intellect of man truly come to know God by participation in Him.

In this context, we sadly observe that our contemporary academic theology has (with a few notable exceptions) not followed Patristic theology. The reason for this appears to be because it has been deeply effected by the secularized, heterodox theological environment in the West. In particular, this refers to their theological methodology and mistaken theological presuppositions.

Western Heterodox theological methodology is mainly based upon reductive and abstract functioning of the intellect, which is, in the final analysis, autonomous from God. Thus, in the West, dogmas were mainly considered to be theological ideas which are conceived in the mind without any particular relation to the life of the one expressing it. On the contrary, Orthodox theological methodology is experiential, characterized by living knowledge of God which is actualized within the Church, the communion of theosis.

Therefore, it should be clear why the Holy Fathers, although valuing θύραθεν / human wisdom, knew its proper place and did not allow it to supplant the central place which ἄνωθεν / divine wisdom occupies, and while engaging in theological discourse they never lost sight of the spiritual presuppositions.

Today, one observes generally that there is confusion or ignorance as to the hierarchy of things in spiritual and intellectual life, including in home education. In order for everything to ultimately serve our ascent, however, it is essential that the hierarchy of things is maintained.

6. The Use of θύραθεν Philosophy in Christian Education Today

What does all of this mean for us today? Is it good for Orthodox children to study the ancient philosophers and read pagan literature, or not? Is there any benefit for Orthodox children? Is there any harm in it?

One possible answer, abrupt as it is, was given by St. Gregory of Nysa, who was no stranger to worldly wisdom. He said: “Secular [or worldly] education, in very truth, is infertile, always in labor, and never giving life to its offspring.” (13)

This is not to say that St. Gregory did not make use of it. As we saw above, the Fathers used it as a tool in their work of upbuilding the Church. The question, then, is not primarily should Orthodox children approach worldly wisdom in search of The Light, as if they do not have Him, but is this worldly wisdom useful? Is it a means to the end or aim of our life?

The answer to these questions is manifest when we answer another, more basic question: what is the true aim of our Christian life? On this, St. Seraphim of Sarov has this to say:

“Prayer, fasting, vigil and all other Christian practices, however good they may be in themselves, do not constitute the aim of our Christian life, although they serve as the indispensable means of reaching this end. The true aim of our Christian life consists in the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God.” (14)

The only Good per se, then, is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. Among the means to reaching this end one could include spiritual study, of course, but is it good to study θύραθεν philosophy and literature? It could be “good” contingent upon a positive response to this question: does it lead one to the acquisition of the Holy Spirit? (15)

Within the Orthodox spirit and ethos the pursuit of the telos, the end, is ultimately free of the deon, or “duty” or “rules.” This is most apparent in the lives of the “fools-for-Christ.” However, the freedom of holiness presupposes purification from the passions. A salvific use of freedom has as its sine qua non freedom from the passions, usually obtained after long ascetic struggle. For most of us, such freedom is still to come, after we learn obedience to Christ in His Body and under the direction of a spiritual father.

What does this imply for the education of our children and the use of θύραθεν wisdom? In practice it means we make of it selective use for particularly suited children of high school or late high school age. Why? For the same reason that it is unwise to expose a newly planted tree to high winds and rain without it first putting down roots: it will most likely be uprooted. As homeschooling parents the truth of this should be obvious to all of us, for on this same basis we also decided not to send our young souls into the storm of public schools.

Putting down roots here means a thorough grounding in the realism of the Holy Scriptures and Lives of the Saints, and years living within the grace of God and under the shelter of obedience to a spiritual father. Thus, when they are exposed to the gusts of the ‘natural man’s’ philosophy and the rain of idolatrous fancy they will weather the storm and be the better for it.

And, yet, even this discerning use of worldly wisdom and pagan literature is not a necessity, nor recommended for some. As we saw above, even St. Basil the Great, who had the task to guide young men through the wilderness of pagan literature, realized late in life that there was no need for him to do it for his salvation. The narrow path is winding, to be sure, but one does not need to pass through Athens to reach Jerusalem. If some do, for whatever historical or pastoral or intellectual reason, that is another matter, and it may be, as it was in St. Basil’s case, providential and ultimately for the upbuilding of the Church.

Here, someone might respond: not everything has to serve the aim of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, does it? How about just fulfilling the need for students to develop intellectually, read, write and speak well, become good citizens, function in society, etc.?

Undoubtedly, there is need of developing these skills and gifts. That is why, ultimately, the particulars of the decision belong to the parents, who will decide on a case by case basis when and how much of the wisdom offered for life in this world is necessary and beneficial for their children’s’ mental and educational development. (16)

In the process of discernment, however, let them not acquiesce to the proud thought that ALL of my children must be well-versed in the wisdom of this world in order to go to college. Or, ALL of my children must become professionals or teachers. This thought, inspired from the demon of pride on the right, has led many an innocent soul into the fire of fornication and darkness of disbelief. Beyond the sad reality of the university today, the system of which has been rightly labeled the Gulag Pelagos of America, this is an abysmal and impersonal pedagogy which sets some children up for miserable lives, even as it serves to further the diabolical aims of globalization.

No, we must remain focused on each child’s gifts and spiritual condition, guiding and correcting our course analogous with the spiritual conditions, but always with the telos, or end, in mind: purification from the passions and illumination of the nous.

This brings us to one final question with regard to worldly wisdom: can one find enlightenment towards salvation in the writings of the ancient Greek philosophers or in the men of letters among the heterodox, in terms of the process of purification of the soul?

It should be clear at this point that for whatever reason we utilize the wisdom of the world in the education of our children, its function is only preparatory for the spiritual life. Although a honing of the mind can purify one of wrong thinking about reality, the purification of the passions of the soul has spiritual presuppositions which cannot be fulfilled by even the greatest refinement of the rational intellect, much less the imagination, for purification toward illumination pertains to the nous and its cleansing.

1 See the Letter of Metropolitan Paul of Glyfadas who succinctly presents the matter, here: https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2012/03/contextual-or-post-patristic-theology.html

2 Demetrios Tselingidis, Post-Patristic or Neo-Barlaamite Theology (http://orthodox-voice.blogspot.nl/2013/05/patristic-theology-and-post-patristic.html).

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 From an article by Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) entitled: “Barlaamism in Contemporary Theology (https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2014/10/barlaamism-in-contemporary-theology-1.html).

6 Evagrius Ponticus, Chapters on Prayer, chapter 60.

7 https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2014/10/barlaamism-in-contemporary-theology-2.html.

8 “To the youth; on how they can benefit from Greek [pagan] literature” (Πρὸς τοὺς νέους, ὅπως ἂν ἐξ ἑλληνικῶν ὠφελοῖντο λόγων [De legendis gentilium libris]).

9 See: St. Gregory’s works Contra Julianum Imperatorem - Κατά Ἰουλιανοῦ Βασιλέως στηλιτευτικοὶ 1 & 2.

10 St. Photios the Great. Amphilochios. Question 107. See: Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis, Following the Holy Fathers (New Rome Press, 2017), p. 186.

11 Ibid. Question 202; Zisis, p. 186.

12 Ibid.

13 St. Gregory of Nysa, De Vita Moysis, II, 36.

14 Trans. Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose), Little Russian Philokalia, Vol.1: St Seraphim, 4th ed. (Platina, CA: St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1996), p.79.

15 With respect to these and subsequent reflections, I am indebted to Deacon Aaron Taylor for his study, Reading Imaginative Literature: A Study in Orthodox Moral Theology.

16 As St John Chrysostom writes, “It is impossible to treat all…people in one way, any more than it would be right for the doctors to deal with all their patients alike.” Περί ιεροσύνης, VI.4 [PG 48]; St John Chrysostom, Six Books on the Priesthood, trans. Graham Neville (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary, 1977), p. 142.

<![CDATA["Have Faith": Examining Homeschooling and Compulsory State Education – Archpriest Peter Heers, D.Th.]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/have-faith-examining-homeschooling-and-compulsory-state-education https://orthodoxethos.com/post/have-faith-examining-homeschooling-and-compulsory-state-education ST. EMMELIA WEST CONFERENCE: “HAVE FAITH”
APRIL 19-22, 2018


It is a great joy and blessing for me to be here, back in California, as Fr. Paul said. I grew up in the East Bay, from age ten to nineteen -- before I went away to college. And I spent my formative three or four years before I went to Greece in this area, going to St. John, the relics, and Platina, and many other places. So, it's a joy to be back. Actually, in this place right here, I met Elder Ephraim for the first time twenty-four years ago, so this brings back a lot of memories.

My topic today is “Have Faith,” and the directions that I received from the director of the conference -- who I want to thank for inviting me. She's done a tremendous job. Thank you very much, Christine, for inviting me and allowing me to be here and to speak to you, as well as Fr. Noah, who is an old friend on the East Coast, who’s involved as well -- regarding the topic, I was told, “This needs to be motivational. We need to give people courage in this struggle for home education, and not just for educating, but actually imparting the faith.” I think this is one of the main reasons why we're all here and why we're all believers in homeschooling and struggling to continue, is that we understand what's at stake is not simply the education of our children, but the faithfulness of our children to Christ.

And this is why today I'm going to focus a little bit – as a jumping off point – on homeschooling in relation to state compulsory schooling and history, because I think it's important for us to see the big picture. A lot of us, we start out homeschooling, we're looking at our small children, and we look at the various things we need to do to impart to them the basics, and a lot of us are uneasy: are we really capable? Can we really do this? But if we step back and see the larger picture, I think it's very encouraging. It's also very frightening, when we see the history of compulsory schooling. But it's also encouraging, because we see that homeschooling is so very necessary, not just for ourselves, but for the Church and for the survival of the Church as we go forward.

I started out my homeschooling in Greece about 18 years ago, and you might not know, but in Greece, it's actually illegal to homeschool. It's not allowed. You have to send your children to the state school. It's kind of ironic that here we are in California and you are free to homeschool, but in Greece you are not. So, as an American citizen, I did it anyway. I was an illegal homeschooler for my entire 18 years in Greece.

And I want to tell you a little story about what I encountered with the Greek state schooling system, because I think it's encouraging, in that it shows that God is above all and encourages us in everything we do. About two years into homeschooling, I was in the village up in the mountain outside Thessaloniki where we lived, a very small village. And eventually someone said, "You know, Fr. Peter, who's the priest of the village, is not sending his kids to school. What's going on?" And they told the school down in the next city, and the school officials called us in and they said, "You need to be sending your kids to school." And we said, "Well, actually, no we don't. I'm an American citizen, and in America this is the kind of education system that we have, and our children are enrolled there online." We were enrolled with St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco Academy, “distance learning,” we called it. We presented them the paperwork, and they didn't really know what to make of it because probably in Greece there's about five or ten people who homeschool, and they're probably all foreigners. In any case, he said, "I have to submit the paperwork to the state because this is a requirement. You have to send your kids to school.” And then he tried to convince us why it's so important to send our kids to school.

Of course in Greece, comparatively, you might say, “Well, why, Fr. Peter, did you feel it's so necessary?" You'll see after I present about compulsory state education why I think it's necessary. Comparatively, fifteen, eighteen years ago things were much better – and probably much better than California in terms of what kind of influences they were bringing into the school system. But it goes beyond just the threats, the moral problems in the school. It goes to the whole heart of what it means to raise a child, how to raise a child, how that child is going to react to you, and when he should start learning, and when he or she should start leaving the house and being far from the mother and father. There's a lot more to homeschooling than just the education. It's much more involved. Compulsory state education is actually much more diabolical than it looks, when you understand the history.

So we stood our ground and he sent the papers to the state of Greece, the department of education, and we never heard from them. And we did our education for the next fifteen years in Greece for all of our children. I still don't know what happened, but my guess is they just said, “Why bother with the crazy priest up in the mountains from America?” And then we learned as we went on that there were more Greeks becoming interested in homeschooling in Greece.

We learned that other people had fought to have control over the education of their children as well in Greece, and they had been successful. Some had sent their children abroad, and others had done school via the internet. And increasingly, what's happened in Greece since that time -- just to share something that I'm sure most of you don't know – has been the introduction of transgenderism, homosexuality, teaching sexual education to very young children. And many other things have been introduced into the schools in Greece, with the result that there have been more and more people who are interested in homeschooling in Greece.

Read the rest of the lecture, and see the slide shows, at the St. Kosmas Aitolos Homeschool Community.

<![CDATA[Going Deeper in the Spiritual Life: Moving from the Horizontal to the Vertical Plane [AUDIO] – Archpriest Peter Heers, D.Th.]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/going-deeper-in-the-spiritual-life-moving-from-the-horizontal-to-the-vertical-plane-audio https://orthodoxethos.com/post/going-deeper-in-the-spiritual-life-moving-from-the-horizontal-to-the-vertical-plane-audio ST. KATHERINE ORTHODOX CHURCH


APRIL 23, 2018


<![CDATA[Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary Launches a Master of Divinity degree for Fall 2018. – Announcement by the Dean, Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/holy-trinity-orthodox-seminary-launches-a-master-of-divinity-degree-for-fall-2018 https://orthodoxethos.com/post/holy-trinity-orthodox-seminary-launches-a-master-of-divinity-degree-for-fall-2018 Dear Alumni, Friends, and Supporters:

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us greatly rejoice and be glad therein.”(Psalms 117:24, LXX)

On this glorious day, I am delighted to announce that Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville, New York, will, by the grace of God the Holy Trinity and the approval of the New York State Board of Regents, begin a new Master of Divinity degree in Fall 2018.

On Tuesday, April 10, 2018, the Board’s approval culminated a long, sometimes arduous application process that began in 2015. Although others have also contributed their time and efforts, I wish to thank, in particular, the prime movers of our campaign from the beginning: Archimandrite Luke, our Rector; Priest Ephraim Willmarth, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions; Dr. Vitaly Permiakov, Assistant Professor of Dogmatic and Liturgical Theology.

The Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.) is the standard graduate professional degree for clergy in North America. It entails a rigorous, advanced, comprehensive, full-time three-year course of study in the various theological and pastoral fields for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree. Our M.Div. degree curriculum will also include four 1-credit “field education” practica where seminarians can learn how to apply their theological knowledge and newly acquired pastoral skills in practical ministry settings including parishes, college campus ministry, prison ministry, humanitarian service,evangelism, and public moral witness.

With profound gratitude to one of our most generous benefactors, I am humbled also to announce that Holy Trinity Seminary expects to offer full scholarships for tuition and books to as many as ten entering M.Div. students in Fall 2018!

We shall accept applications for the new M.Div. degree immediately. If you are interested in applying, or know an Orthodox man who may be called to the Holy Priesthood, please send your inquiry to Priest Ephraim Willmarth, Director of Admissions:

ejwillmarth@hts.edu (telephone: 315-858-0945). You may find additional information on the Admissions page and Academics page of the Seminary website: www.hts.edu

I hope you will join us on this new journey on the 70th anniversary of the founding of Holy Trinity Seminary or make a generous financial contribution to support our new degree program.

Yours in Christ,

Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD

Dean and Professor of Moral Theology

<![CDATA[On the Essential Identity of Ecumenism and Phyletism – ​By Archpriest Peter Heers]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/on-the-essential-identity-of-ecumenism-and-phyletism https://orthodoxethos.com/post/on-the-essential-identity-of-ecumenism-and-phyletism As Fr. Seraphim Rose once wrote, the difference between Orthodoxy and heterodoxy is most apparent in that the Orthodox Church (in Her Saints) is able to discern the spirits. Moreover, discernment of the methods of the fallen spirits is a requirement in the formation of Christology and Ecclesiology. As the Evangelist John writes, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Insomuch, therefore, as one is purified from the passions and illumined by the Spirit of God, so much is his spiritual vision open and discernment acquired. This gift of discernment, the greatest of the virtues, presupposes initiation into the death, resurrection and life in Christ which is lived within His Body, the Church. That few Orthodox Christians possess a good measure of this gift is a testament to the inroads of the spirit of anti-Christ, which, by another name, is secularism. The end of the worldly spirit is the denial of the theanthropic nature of the Christ and His Body, “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” before the ascent of the man of iniquity, the Antichrist. This temptation is coming upon the world primarily through the spread of the ecclesiological heresy known as ecumenism.

Ecumenism and Secularism

Ecumenism as an ecclesiological heresy and denial of the Truth of the Body of Christ, and as a methodological distortion of The Way of Christ, has been born and bred within a secularized “Christianity.” As we said, secularism is first and foremost the spirit of antichrist, which is “already in the world,” namely, “every spirit which confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” This refers not only to that “Christianity” which expressly denies the divinity of our Lord, the various contemporary “Arianisms,” but every spirit which denies that the Jesus Christ is come – that is, has come and remains – in the flesh, in His Body, the One Church.

Ecumenism as a unification movement ironically seeks to overcome the scandal of division by denying the “scandal of the particular” – the Incarnation. Instead of crucifying their intellect on the cross of this scandal – that Christ entered and continues within history in a particular time and place, being mysteriologically-incarnationally ‘here’ and not ‘there’ – the uninitiated and rationalist followers of Jesus seek a theanthropic Body in their image: “divided in time,” in search of a fullness which they imply exists only on the heavenly plane. They see the Church as divided on the historical plane, as limited by the heavy hand of history. They see as Church identifiers not primarily the exclusive marks of oneness, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity taken together, but rather the externals which “already unite,” such as the water of baptism (whether sprinkled, poured or immersed), the rites of the Liturgy, the belief in Christ’s divinity or the common text of Holy Scripture. It matters little that such externals, and indeed much more, were possessed by ancient heretics such as the Monophysites or Iconoclasts and were never seen as sufficient to produce any sort of “partial communion” or “already existing unity.” Neither does it seem to faze them that “the demons believe and tremble” and thus “unity in belief in Christ’s divinity” would necessarily include the demons.

This new ecclesiology, this new vision of the Church, or, rather, of Christ Himself as Head and Body, might be characterized as ecclesiological Nestorianism, in which the Church is divided into two separate beings: on the one hand the Church in heaven, outside of time, alone true and whole, and on the other hand, the Church, or rather “churches,” on earth, in time, deficient and relative, lost in history’s shadows, seeking to draw near to one another and to that transcendent perfection, as much as is possible in the weakness of the impermanent human will.

They apparently don’t realize, however, that in denying the manifest Oneness of Christ in a particular time and place on earth, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, they are also denying He is come in the flesh. They seek to forge a Church from disparate elements or recognize an already existing but “divided” Church in place of the One Church, a body in place of the God-man’s Body which is come, and in this reveal they are of the spirit of antichrist (lit. that which is put in place of Christ).

Phyletism and Secularism

Strangely, what is often seen as opposed to ecumenism, or even the heresy ecumenism is meant to correct, Phyletism, is a kindred spirit with ecumenism and born and bred within the same spiritual milieu: secularism.

As with the heresy of ecumenism, the phyletist sees the Church as limited by and within history, as identified not firstly or as much by the exclusive marks of oneness, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity as by one’s ethnic identity and its past. The aim of the Church here is not the salvation of all men from sin and death but the salvation of their ethnic identity and nation. With phyletism, as with ecumenism, the hierarchy is lost, discernment misplaced or non-existent, as to what is first and what follows in terms of our identity, with the secondary and tertiary taking the lead.

Phyletism was the necessary precursor to ecumenism, the pendulum swung to the right so that momentum could be built up for the great swing to the left and the ensuing apostasy. It was necessary also that a straw man be created in place of Patristic Orthodox ecclesiology so that legitimate opposition to the new ecclesiology could be easily marginalized and lumped together with the various “isms” on the right. Ecumenism is supposed to come as a corrective to phyletism, but paradoxically it can be, and often is, reconciled “peacefully” with phyletism.

For example, when one views his church as essentially identified with his tribe he readily accepts that his neighbor’s tribe must also have a national church (to the worldly minded it matters not whether it is “fully” orthodox or “partially” heterodox). Only in this context can one make sense of such phenomena in the West as the immigrant who sees no problem with his own children going to the local heterodox community since they have “become Americans” and go to the “American church.” Only when one understands that the phyletists identify the Theanthropic Body of Christ with their language and their culture can he begin to grasp why they prefer to lose their very own children and let their parish die with them, rather than change one iota of these transitory aspects (Matt. 24:35).

Ecumenism and Phyletism: Two Sides of the Same Coin of Secularism

Far from being enemies or correctives of each other, ecumenism and phyletism are rather two sides of the same coin of secularism. Both deny the catholicity of the One Church and both seek to recognize in its place a “divided” Church, whether it be along ethnic or denominational lines. Both reduce the Church to the sociological and historical level, placing it at the service of the fallen world as opposed to the service of man’s salvation from, and the overcoming of, the world, according to the words of the Lord: “[B]e of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

The greatest proof, however, that ecumenism and phyletism are possessed of the “spirit of antichrist” lies in their fruits. They work against the salvation of the world because they make the Church into the world, “thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Mat. 5:13). On the one hand, whether through tribalism or relativism, they deny the divine-humanity of the One Church, Her otherworldliness, Her power of the Cross (asceticism) which, if She “be lifted up” by it, draws all men toward Christ (Jn. 12:32). On the other hand, lacking the “magnet” of holiness and the theanthropic virtues, these two children of secularism deny to the heterodox the salvific “pricking” of the soul, what the Holy Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos called the “good uneasiness.” Speaking much of love, each in their own way (for nation or world), both are revealed as bereft of love for his neighbor’s salvation, for both leave him in his delusion and error, the one by erecting an ethnic roadblock, the other by denying him the narrow path.

First appeared at: http://anothercity.org/on-the-essential-identity-of-ecumenism-and-phyletism/

<![CDATA[St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschool Conferences: Spring 2018 West Conference – St. Nicholas Ranch, Dunlap, CA - April 19-22]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/st-emmelia-orthodox-homeschool-conferences-spring-2018-west-conference https://orthodoxethos.com/post/st-emmelia-orthodox-homeschool-conferences-spring-2018-west-conference Whether you are an experienced homeschooler or just an inquirer, this is the conference for you!

Learn more!

<![CDATA[On “Partial Ecclesiastical Communion,” the Dominant Theory Behind Contemporary Ecumenism – Excerpt from: The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II by Archpriest Peter Heers]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/on-partial-ecclesiastical-communion-the-dominant-theory-behind-contemporary-ecumenism https://orthodoxethos.com/post/on-partial-ecclesiastical-communion-the-dominant-theory-behind-contemporary-ecumenism

The basis for modern Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, the decree [on Ecumenism of Vatican II] established the principle of real, if imperfect, communion between Christians and their churches and communities. - by John Long, S.J.

The idea of partial communion, so central to the new ecclesiology,
is inconsistent with this understanding of the organic unity of the Church. Once again, in this regard as well, Vatican II was not a return to the patristic vision of the Church, but rather a further step away from it. As Metropolitan Kallistos Ware has written: “The Bible, the Fathers or the Canons know of only two possibilities: communion and non-communion. It is all or nothing. They do not envisage any third alternative such as ‘partial intercommunion.’” [1] Father Georges Florovsky likewise points out that in the patristic view of the Church “there was simply the question of ‘full communion,’ that is, of membership in the Church. And there were identical terms of this membership for all.” [2]

The identification of “full membership” with “membership in the Church”— a membership based on identical terms for all— could not come into more direct opposition to the heart of the new ecclesiology, which is based upon the possibility of there being degrees of membership in the Body of Christ. This idea stems from the acceptance of a division of the Mysteries from each other and from the Mystery of the Church as a whole. They suppose that Baptism can exist outside the unity of the Church and the other mysteries, mechanically, as it were, imparting membership to those who receive it in separation.

However, just as the Eucharist “is indissolubly bound to the whole content of faith, and likewise to the visible structure of the Church,” [3] so too is Baptism. And, just as “those who advocate intercommunion on the basis of ‘Eucharistic ecclesiology’” treat the Eucharist “too much in isolation (ibid.),” those who advocate a partial communion on the basis of a “common Baptism” likewise consider Baptism too much in isolation. While putting forth Baptism as a point of unity, they fail to realize that, apart from unity in faith and unity in the bishop, unity in a “common Baptism” is impossible. Just as communing together in the Holy Eucharist cannot compensate for, let alone create, unity in faith (ibid.), so too sharing the typos of Baptism (if it is actually shared) cannot create ecclesiastical unity or even a so-called “partial” unity.

Moreover, just as the Eucharist is celebrated and received locally and visibly, such that the separation of the heterodox from participation in the Eucharist is likewise visible and local, so too is Baptism performed in the local Eucharistic Synaxis, from which the heterodox are necessarily excluded. The One Church does not exist as an abstract idea, but is manifested visibly in time and space as the local Church. “One cannot be baptized into the Catholic Church without belonging at the same time to a local Church,” [4] for the local Church, “as an ‘organism,’ a sacramental body, is not a ‘part’ or a ‘member’ of a wider universal organism. It is the very Church itself.” [5] Likewise, one cannot be baptized into the “Catholic Church” of Christ without being in communion with all of the members of the Body, for Christ, the Head of the Church, is inseparable from all of His members. “Why,” asks St. John Chrysostom, “letting go the Head, dost thou cling to the members? If thou art fallen off from it, thou art lost.” [6] Whether one falls from the Head or from the Body, the result is the same: he has lost both the one and the other.


"The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honoured by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter" (Lumen gentium 15). Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church" (Unitatis redintegratio 3). With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist" (Paul VI, Discourse, 14 December 1975; cf. Unitatis redintegratio 13-18). - The Catholic Catechism


There is, therefore, no basis to suppose, as proponents of Unitatis Redintegratio and the new ecclesiology do, that “despite divisions and mutual condemnations all communities of the baptized . . . are in communion,” [7] even if only partially. Communion is one both vertical and horizontal, both with God and among men, both between the Head and His Body, and it is full and only full: “being complete here and complete there also.” [8] The Lord shows no partiality, but distributes the gifts to all alike within the Body. Once united, all become a single house, all are related and brothers in Christ. Just as there can be no partial Christ, there can be no partial communion in Christ, for the Body of communion, “which is his body, [is] the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1: 23). From the moment one is a member, the communion he enjoys in Christ is full, for Christ only gives Himself fully. Whether or not he fully actualizes this self-offering of Christ is not an institutional but an individual issue, and that within the Body.

Whether we speak of one Mystery or another, of Baptism or the Eucharist, one and the same Christ is offering Himself to man, uniting man to Himself. This unity with God is accomplished in the mysteries, all of which have certain presuppositions, first of all, and common to all, unity in faith. That is why what Fr. Dimitru Staniloae insists upon, and warns against, with regard to the Eucharist and “intercommunion” is equally true of Baptism and “partial communion”:

“Ecclesiastical unity, unity in faith, and unity in the Holy Eucharist are all three inseparable and interdependent for the total communion and life in Christ. Consequently, the Orthodox Church cannot accept “intercommunion,” which separates communion in the Holy Eucharist from unity in faith and ecclesiastical unity. More correctly, “intercommunion” is a danger which threatens to destroy the Church, break up the unity of faith and [communion in] the Holy Eucharist [among the Orthodox].” [9]

So, too, the Orthodox Church cannot accept “partial” or “incomplete” communion in a “common Baptism,” for there can be no division between the Mysteries and the Mystery and between Christ in the Mysteries and Christ in whom we believe and trust, whom we confess, and in whom we have our being, our unity. Therefore, the acceptance of an “incomplete communion” between the Church and the heterodox is, like intercommunion in the Eucharist, a grave danger to the unity of the body of Christ. The body of the Church is joined together with the Lord such that, as St. John Chrysostom has written, even the slightest division, the slightest “imperfection” or “incompleteness,” would eventually bring the dissolution of the entire body. ~

Read more here


[1] Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, Communion and Intercommunion: A Study of Communion and Intercommunion Based on the Theology and Practice of the Eastern Church (Minneapolis: Light and Life, 1980), 16.

[2] Fr. Georges Florovsky, “Terms of Communion in the Undivided Church,” in Intercommunion. The Report of the Theological Commission Appointed by the Continuation Committee of the World Conference on Faith and Order together with a Selection from the Material Presented to the Commission, ed. D. Baillie and John Marsh (London, 1952), 50, as quoted in Ware, Communion and Intercommunion, 16– 17. Professor George Galitis is also quoted by Ware in the same vein, that in the ancient Church “there is only communion and non-communion” (G. Galitis, The Problem of Intercommunion with the Heterodox from an Orthodox Point of View: A Biblical and Ecclesiological Study [in Greek] [Athens, 1966], 24– 25.) It is important to note that Fr. Georges Florovsky, whose views are often cited in support of versions of theories of baptismal theology-ecclesiology, quite early on explicitly qualified his scholarly musings on the views of St. Augustine and stated that the Saint’s views were “no more than a ‘theologoumenon,’ a doctrine set forth by a single Father.” Likewise, he urged the Orthodox to take it into account, not for its own sake or on its own terms, and certainly not as it has been played out within Latin theology, but simply as one view that can aid in the formation of a “true ecumenical synthesis.” Indeed, Fr. Florovsky lamented that the Orthodox have too often expounded upon the doctrine of the sacraments using the Roman model, without any creative or transforming adoption of St. Augustine’s conception. On the contrary, Fr. Florovsky formally and firmly rejected the theory of primordial unity in a common Baptism as is stressed by Roman Catholicism, explaining that it, like the Protestant branch theory, glosses over and minimizes the scandal of “dis-union,” which for him was to be faced forthrightly and explained in terms of “the true [Orthodox] Church and secessions.” Florovsky stressed the unity of the mysteries, especially the first three, and hence thought less in terms of regeneration linked to Baptism than of incorporation into the common Body of Christ in the Eucharist. See Andrew Blane, Georges Florovksy, Russian Intellectual and Orthodox Churchman (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997), 311– 17.

[3] Ware, Communion and Intercommunion, 20.

[4] Ware, Communion and Intercommunion, 23.

[5] Schmemann, “Unity, Division, Reunion.”

[6] PG 62.344.36: Τί τοίνυν τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀφεὶς, ἔχει τῶν μελῶν; ἐὰν ἐκεῖθεν ἐκπέσῃς, ἀπόλωτας.

[7] Jorge A. Scampini, “We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins,” address given at the Faith and Order Plenary Commission in Kuala, Malaysia, July 28– August 6, 2004. It is significant to note that Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint (par. 42), linked this idea of deep communion in spite of division to “baptismal character,” thus following faithfully the precedent established by Congar, Bea, and Vatican II: “The very expression separated brethren tends to be replaced today by expressions which more readily evoke the deep communion— linked to the Baptismal character— which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions. Today we speak of “other Christians,” “others who have received Baptism,” and “Christians of other Communities.” . . . This broadening of vocabulary is indicative of a significant change in attitudes. There is an increased awareness that we all belong to Christ.”

[8] PG 63.131.39, Saint John Chrysostom, Homily on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 17.6.

[9] Dimitru Staniloae, Γιὰ ἕναν Ὀρθόδοξο Οἰκουμενισμὸ [Toward an Orthodox Ecumenism] (Athens, 1976), 29.

<![CDATA[Journey to Life: Baptized into Christ in the Orthodox Church – The Miraculous Journey from Lutheranism, through eastern religions, to Orthodoxy]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/journey-to-life-baptized-into-christ-in-the-orthodox-church https://orthodoxethos.com/post/journey-to-life-baptized-into-christ-in-the-orthodox-church The miraculous journey from Lutheranism, through eastern religions, to the Orthodox Church.

This story has so much to teach us all – but especially Orthodox bishops and priests. In this video one sees the marvelous response of God to one man’s determined and pained search for spiritual health and healing and his simple and humble acceptance of the providence of God.

Seraphim was born, baptized, confirmed and raised as a Lutheran, although a nominal observer, who later, for lack of fulfillment and meaning in his life, sought out eastern religious experiences. After passing through much suffering and pain as a result of opening himself up to the spirits present in these religions, the Mother of God herself visited Him and revealed to him the truth of Christ and the Church.

Initially received by chrismation, but not being healed of his spiritual ills, he was led again by God to a mountain monastery in Romania where he finally found freedom, healing and new life in Christ in Baptism – and where he finally, experientially understood «what this Orthodoxy is all about!»

This is a message that every Orthodox shepherd of souls needs to listen to attentively, for it comes from a man in search of healing for his soul – totally unaffected by, or even aware of, ecclesiastical politics, ecumenical perceptions or theories, or canonical or pastoral justifications of oikonomia.

<![CDATA[Heavenly Psalmody from Mt. Athos: The Universal Glory / Την Παγκόσμιον Δόξαν – Blessed Elder Ephraim of Xeropotamou / ο Μακαριστός Γέρων Εφραίμ Ξηροποταμινός]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/heavenly-psalmody-from-mt-athos-the-universal-glory-thn-pagkosmion-do3an https://orthodoxethos.com/post/heavenly-psalmody-from-mt-athos-the-universal-glory-thn-pagkosmion-do3an <![CDATA[Prospective Theology Students: Sign up for a Pilgrimage to Mt. Athos from July 6-18, 2018!]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/prospective-theology-students-sign-up-for-a-pilgrimage-to-mt-athos-from-july-6-18-2018 https://orthodoxethos.com/post/prospective-theology-students-sign-up-for-a-pilgrimage-to-mt-athos-from-july-6-18-2018 Dear Friends,

We will (once again) be hosting a summer retreat and pilgrimage to Thessaloniki and Mt. Athos for present, past or future students of theology (roughly ages 19-30), including those only considering the priesthood or attending seminary.

There are up to 15 spots available for this 12 day intensive program which will include:

  1. A five day pilgrimage to Mount Athos, where we’ll meet with contemporary elders and Abbots (July 13-17).
  2. The all-night vigil at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Souroti, for the feast of Saint Paisios the Athonite (July 12).
  3. A five day program of services, lectures, discussion and visits to Thessaloniki and local monasteries from our base in the mountain-top village of Petrokerasa outside of Thessaloniki. We will invite spiritual fathers and elders from Northern Greece, as well as professors of theology from the University of Thessaloniki, to visit with and speak to the participants.

Below is a description of the two-week program.

The deadline is March 30th. After that the price will rise.

Sincerely in Christ Jesus,

Fr. Peter Heers
Assistant Professor of Holy Scripture
Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary
Jordanville, New York

For more information contact Fr. Peter Heers (uncutmountainpress@gmail.com)


A 12 day pilgrimage to Thessaloniki, Mount Athos and select Monasteries in Northern Greece which includes meetings with Athonite Elders and Spiritual Fathers, Abbots and Abbesses of Monasteries in Northern Greece, Professors of Theology from the University of Thessaloniki, talks and presentations on contemporary challenges facing the Church, Divine Services and the 9 hour Vigil for St. Paisios the Athonite held at the Monastery of Souroti, where he reposed and was buried.

During the retreat portion of the trip, participants will be hosted in a newly-built guest house in the village of Petrokerasa, in the mountains outside of Thessaloniki, where they will spend the first five days of their stay participating in a spiritual program of prayer, discussions, lectures and walks to mountain-side chapels, and from where they will also make one-day trips to nearby monasteries and the historic churches of Thessaloniki.

During the second part of their stay, they will travel to Mount Athos for a five day pilgrimage to the Monasteries, Sketes and Kellia of the Garden of the Theotokos and 1000+ year old Monastic Republic. The Participants will meet with elders and experienced monastics and have an opportunity to learn from their example and wisdom.


  • JUL 6 Friday — Depart from U.S./Canada/UK/Australia
  • JUL 18 Wednesday — Return to U.S./Canada/UK/Australia

  • JUL 7 Arrive in Greece
  • JUL 7-11 — In Petrokerasa
  • JUL 11 Evening — Vigil for Elder Paisios (Souroti) (8:00pm-4:30am)
  • JUL 12-17 — On Athos
  • JUL 18 — Depart for U.S./Canada/UK/Australia


  1. Pilgrimage to Mt. Athos
    Our five day pilgrimage to Mt. Athos will include visits to both large Coenobitic Monasteries and smaller sketes and kellia, so that our young pilgrims will experience the spectrum of monastic life that exists on Holy Mountain. The pilgrims will have an opportunity to speak with experienced spiritual fathers and abbots on the Holy Mountain, a blessing which is not available to most visitors.
  2. Trips to Local Monasteries
    Two trips are planned to nearby monasteries, which may include Meteora, the Timios Prodromos Monastery in Serres, the Monastery of the Metemorphosis in Sohos, where the Elder Ioannikios resides (he is the author of the Athonite Gerontikon), and to the Monastery of St. Arsenios the Cappadocian, in Ormylia, Chalkidiki, which was founded with the blessing of Elder Paisios the Athonite.
  3. Two days will be set aside for visits to Thessaloniki, both to see the historic churches of Ss. Demetrios and Gregory Palamas and to shop in the marketplace, which includes many ecclesiastical goods shops.
  4. Vigil for the Feast of St. Paisios the Athonite at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Souroti, Greece, which was where the Saint reposed and his relics are interred.
  5. During our stay in Petrokerasa, we’ll take walks out into the countryside, to the chapels, of which the parish of Petrokerasa has six, where we’ll hold vespers and compline. In the evenings, there will be a presentation or a talk on a particular topic, followed by a general discussion.


  1. Past, present or future students of theology can participate. Because the program includes a 5 day trip to Mount Athos, the program is only open to men. Also, participants will only be accepted if they have a letter of recommendation from their spiritual father or bishop.
  2. The Facilities and Stay in Petrokerasa
    We have facilities here – brand new! – that can host up to 15 individuals. They include, in addition to rooms, a large kitchen and dining hall, a smaller kitchen and several showers and bathrooms. The hall is equipped with a large interactive screen (whiteboard) which will be used during presentations to the participants.
  3. Cost for Participants
    Each participant would have to fund their travel to and from Thessaloniki, provide $500 for the room, board and non-Athonite travel of the program, $50 for the Athos diamonitirion (visa) and roughly $50 for common travel expenses on Mt. Athos.


This is a unique opportunity for Orthodox from abroad to quickly and intensely be immersed in the life, ethos and teaching of Orthodoxy in Northern Greece.

The advantages of visiting Thessaloniki and Mount Athos as a part of this program, as opposed to on one’s own, should be obvious: the participants will not only spend less money, but will, in the span of 12 days be thoroughly and directly introduced to the spiritual environment of Orthodoxy in Greece and on Athos.

For more information contact Fr. Peter Heers (uncutmountainpress@gmail.com)

<![CDATA[The Patristic View of the Baptism of Heretics – Excerpt from the Synaxarion (Lives of the Saints) of the Orthodox Church and the Procatecheis of St. Cyril of Jerusalem]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-patristic-view-of-the-baptism-of-heretics https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-patristic-view-of-the-baptism-of-heretics SYNAXARION for December 7th


The woman hated the doctrine of the wicked-minded * Wondrously she endured burning. O what manliness!

On December seventh, we celebrate the memory of a certain Orthodox woman of Rome. Her name is unknown to us, but we must surely call her blessed. In the year 474, the Arians raised up a terrible persecution against the Orthodox Catholic Christians. Sunilda, the wife of the Arian ruler of Rome, took it upon herself to attempt to force one Orthodox woman to accept the baptism of the Arians. The woman would not consent, so the Arians seized her, took her by force to one of their churches, and immersed her into the water in the presence of the Arian bishop. As she came out of the water, she turned to her handmaid who was holding a purse. She took two coins out of the purse, handed them to the Arian bishop, and said to him, “Thanks for the bath.” This so enraged the Arians, they dragged her out of their temple, tied her to a post, and burned her alive. Through her holy intercessions, O God, have mercy and save us. Amen.

~ ~ ~

On the One Baptism and the Baptism of Heretics, from the Procatechesis (7) of St. Cyril of Jerusalem

"The washing (of baptism) is not received two or three times. In such a case it might be said, 'Failing once, I will do it successfully a second time.' But if you fail the first time, there is no making it right. 'For there is one Lord, and one faith, and one baptism'" (Eph 4.5). For only heretics are re-baptized, since their former baptism was not really baptism."

(Οὐκ ἔνι δὶς καὶ τρὶς λαβεῖν τὸ λουτρόν· ἐπεὶ ἦν εἰπεῖν· Ἅπαξ ἀποτυχών, δεύτερον κατορθῶ· ἐὰν δὲ τὸ ἅπαξ  ἀποτύχῃς, ἀδιόρθωτον τὸ πρᾶγμα. «Εἷς γὰρ κύριος, καὶ μία πίστις, καὶ ἓν βάπτισμα·» μόνον γὰρ αἱρετικοί τινες ἀναβαπτίζονται, ἐπειδὴ τὸ πρότερον οὐκ ἦν βάπτισμα.)

<![CDATA[A Public Statement on Orthodox Deaconesses – by Concerned Clergy and Laity [UPDATED: 56 signatories]]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/a-public-statement-on-orthodox-deaconesses https://orthodoxethos.com/post/a-public-statement-on-orthodox-deaconesses The Patriarchate of Alexandria’s appointment of six “deaconesses” in the Congo in February 2017 has prompted calls in some corners for other local churches to follow suit. In particular, a group of Orthodox liturgical scholars has issued an open statement of support for Alexandria, declaring that the “restoration of the female diaconate is such that neither doctrinal issues nor authoritative precedents are at stake.”1

We, the undersigned clergy and laity, beg to differ and are writing now with three purposes: to question what was accomplished in the Congo, to clarify the historical record on the place of deaconesses in Orthodox tradition, and to point out the serious doctrinal issues raised by the appointment of deaconesses.

First, as to what was accomplished in the Congo, we note that the Patriarch of Alexandria did not use the Byzantine rite of ordination for deaconesses.2 He laid hands [cheirothetise] on one woman making her “Deaconess of the Mission” and then prayed over five other women using a “prayer for one entering ecclesiastical ministry,” a generic blessing in the Greek-language archieratikon for a layman starting church work. He did not bestow an orarion upon any of the women yet had the five women assist in washing his hands, as subdeacons would. All this was done not during the Divine Liturgy, as with an ordination, but at its end. These facts, plus anecdotal reports from Africa that these new deaconesses have been assigned the duties of readers, call into question the claim that what happened in the Congo was truly a “restoration of the female diaconate,” for their manner of making and assigned duties bear only partial resemblance to those of ancient deaconesses.

Second, what can be said with certainty about the historical presence, role, and status of deaconesses in the Orthodox Church is that setting apart women as deaconesses was just one of several ways the early Church sought to protect the modesty of women by entrusting certain women with certain duties such as assisting in baptizing and anointing adult women and visiting women in their homes where and when men were not permitted, strictly within the limits specified for women by the Holy Apostles in Holy Scripture. The duties and status of deaconesses varied with time and place, as did the way deaconesses were appointed. The same duties were also assigned to widows, laywomen, male clergy, or nuns, so the need for deaconesses did not exist universally. Much of the ancient Church never had deaconesses. Outside Syria, Anatolia, Greece, and Palestine, deaconesses were rare to nonexistent.3

Deaconesses were also not without controversy. Several local councils prohibited their appointment (Nîmes in 396; Orange in 441; Epaone in 517; Orleans in 533), and many texts testify to the concern of Church Fathers to minimize their role, sometimes in favor of widows. The order appears to have peaked in the fifth or sixth century, surviving mainly in major eastern cities as an honorary office for pious noblewomen, the wives of men made bishops, and the heads of female monastic communities. The twelfth-century canonist Theodore Balsamon wrote that the “deaconesses” in Constantinople in his day were not true deaconesses. A century later, St. Athanasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, ordered that no new deaconesses were to be made. Scattered proposals and attempts to appoint deaconesses again in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries did not receive enough support to cause a lasting revival of the order. Even now, other autocephalous Orthodox Churches have not rushed to follow the example of Alexandria.

Third, some blame resistance to deaconesses on a worldly, purely cultural prejudice against women, but that accusation treats the Church herself unfairly, even contemptuously, by ignoring legitimate prudential objections to the making of deaconesses motivated by genuine concern for the preservation of truly Christian and plainly Apostolic respect for the distinction of male and female, to which our post-Christian world is increasingly hostile.

The liturgists’ statement itself gives cause for such concern. Its argument for “reviving” the order of deaconess is not based on the needs of the women to be served by deaconesses—needs that somehow require ordination, needs that nuns, laywomen, laymen, or male clergy are not already meeting. Rather, the statement’s argument is based on the supposed need of women to be deaconesses. Making them deaconesses would be a “positive response” to the “contemporary world,” an “opportunity for qualified women to offer in our era their unique and special gifts,” and a “special way” to emphasize the “dignity of women and give recognition to her [sic] contribution to the work of the Church.”4 Such justifications denigrate the vocation of Orthodox laity, implying that only clerics serve the Church in meaningful ways, contrary to Orthodox belief that all Orthodox Christians receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and a personal calling to serve the Church at Holy Chrismation.

The liturgists’ statement also makes clear that they do not intend a true “restoration” of the ancient order of deaconesses; their aim is a new order of clergywomen authorized to do things never done by Orthodox deaconesses and in some cases explicitly forbidden by Apostolic ordinance and Church canons. They would have women preach, which the Apostles and Fathers never allowed in church. They leave open the question of other liturgical duties, admitting no limitation that bishops must respect. They question which “qualities and qualifications” truly matter, doubting whether deaconesses must be mature and unmarried, despite the ancient rule, most forcefully insisted upon in the sixth century by St. Justinian as emperor, that deaconesses be at least middle-aged and remain celibate as deaconesses.5

The liturgists’ most ominous assertion is their subtle note, in anticipation of popular opposition, that “adequate preparation and education” are needed not of the women to be appointed deaconesses but “of the people who will be called upon to receive, honor, and respect the deaconesses assigned to their parishes.” Clearly, they foresee the need to force clergy and laity to accept deaconesses, which is hardly trusting of the Holy Spirit or respectful of the Orthodox Church’s traditional regard for episcopal authority.

In sum, the statement’s emphasis on gratifying women, disregarding tradition, and resorting to force gives evidence of a feminist perspective and approach consistent with the faithless western world but not with the Orthodox Church. More evidence of the liturgists’ perspective is available elsewhere. For example, two of the liturgists have called for the removal of Ephesians 5 from the Rite of Crowning on the grounds that it is inconsistent with modern thinking and therefore likely to be misunderstood. They suggest a different epistle or perhaps a sanitized version of Ephesians 5 without verse 33 (“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence [phobētai, fear] her husband.”).6

Given this state of faith, we believe the appointment of deaconesses in any form in the present era is likely to divide the Church and distress the faithful by challenging the Church’s basic understanding of human nature. God has made every one of us either male or female and ordained that we live accordingly as either a man or a woman. He has also provided us with many authoritative precepts distinguishing men and women, in the Law, in the Holy Apostles, in the canons of the Church, and in the literature of our Holy Fathers, in passages too numerous to cite. But if laws and canons and precepts are not enough to turn us to repentance, God has given us two distinct models of perfected humanity, one male and one female: Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, and His Most Pure Mother, the Theotokos, whose icons stand always before us in worship as reminders of what we are meant to be as men and women.

Yet there are advocates of deaconesses who wish to see women treated the same as men in the Church as in the world and who therefore use the rite of “ordination” (cheirotonia) of deaconesses in a handful of Byzantine service books to argue that deaconesses were once “major clergy.” These advocates covet the rank, honor, and authority of the clergy. Some would have deaconesses be just like deacons, only female. They would up-end the natural and economical order of male and female to raise women over men in the hierarchy of the Church. They would ordain women who are young, married, and with children, and they would give them a vocal role in worship and all the authority a deacon might exercise over men as well as women. The liturgists do not go that far, but their statement leaves open that possibility by either ignoring or questioning traditional limits on deaconesses, while stressing the exclusive prerogative of bishops to make of deaconesses what they will.

We cannot, therefore, take seriously the liturgists’ claim that “restoration of the female diaconate is such that neither doctrinal issues nor authoritative precedents are at stake.” Neither can we accept their assurances that deaconesses today will not lead to priestesses tomorrow, knowing where similar incremental innovations have led in heterodox communions. We also ought not to think only of what we ourselves might tolerate today. We must think generationally. Just as children who grow up in parishes with female readers are more likely to believe as adults that women should be deacons or deaconesses, so children who grow up in parishes with deaconesses will be more likely to believe as adults that women should be priests and bishops.

We therefore entreat all Orthodox hierarchs, other clergy, and theologians to uphold the dogmatic teaching of the Church concerning the creation and calling of man as male and female by resisting the divisive call to appoint deaconesses.

Add your name to the statement on the AOIUSA website.

Endnotes [Signatures follow]

1 Evangelos Theodorou, et al., “Orthodox Liturgists Issued a Statement of Support for the Revival of the Order of Deaconess by the Patriarchate of Alexandria,” Panorthodox Synod, https://panorthodoxcemes.blogspot.ca/2017/10/ortho..., Oct. 24, 2017.

2 See “Το Πατριαρχείο Αλεξανδρείας για Διακόνισσες και Αγία Σύνοδο,” Romfea, http://www.romfea.gr/epikairotita-xronika/11485-to..., Nov. 16, 2016; and, “Στην Αφρική εόρτασε τα ονομαστήρια του ο Πατριάρχης Θεόδωρος,” Romfea, http://www.romfea.gr/patriarxeia-ts/patriarxeio-al..., Feb. 18, 2017.

3 For the most in-depth study of the subject, see Aimé Georges Martimort, Deaconesses: An Historical Study, trans. K.D. Whitehead (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986). For a thorough study of Orthodox deaconesses before their disappearance, see Brian Patrick Mitchell, “The Disappearing Deaconess: How the Hierarchical Ordering of the Church Doomed the Female Diaconate,” http://www.brianpatrickmitchell.com/wp-content/upl....

4 The “positive response” and “special way” are from the report of the Inter-Orthodox Symposium in Rhodes in 1988 titled, “The Place of the Woman in the Orthodox Church and the Question of the Ordination of Women” (Istanbul: The Ecumenical Patriarchate, 1988), which the liturgists quote approvingly.

5 The minimum age for deaconesses changed several times over the years: The emperor St. Theodosius the Great set it at 60 in 390, the age the Apostle Paul set for enrolled widows in 1 Timothy 5:9, which St. Theodosius’s legislation mentioned. Canon 15 of Chalcedon lowered it to 40 in 451. St. Justinian’s Novella 6 raised it to 50 in 535, making an exception for women living in hermitages and having no contact with men. His Novella 123 lowered it to 40 again in 546, which Canon 14 of III Constantinople (in Trullo) confirmed in 692.

6 Alkiviadis Calivas and Philip Zymaris, “Ephesians 5:20-33 as the Epistle Reading for the Rite of Marriage: Appropriate or Problematic?” Public Orthodoxy, https://publicorthodoxy.org/2017/09/08/ephesians-r..., accessed Nov. 4, 2017.

Archimandrite Luke (Murianka), D.A. (Cand.), Rector & Associate Professor of Patrology, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (ROCOR)

Archpriest Chad Hatfield, D.Min., D.D., President, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (OCA)

Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster, Ph.D., Dean & Professor of Moral Theology, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (ROCOR)

Protopresbyter George A. Alexson, Ph.D. (Cand.), Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church (GOAA), Sterling, VA

Mitred Archpriest Victor Potapov, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral (ROCOR), Washington, DC

Archimandrite Demetrios (Carellas), Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOAA)

Archpriest A. James Bernstein, St. Paul Orthodox Church (AOCANA), Lynnwood, WA

Archpriest Lawrence Farley, St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church (OCA), Langley, BC

Archpriest Stephen Freeman, St. Anne Orthodox Church (OCA), Oak Ridge, TN

Archpriest Patrick Henry Reardon, All Saints Orthodox Church (AOCANA), Senior Editor, Touchstone, Chicago, IL

Archpriest Lawrence Margitich, St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (OCA), Santa Rosa, CA

Archpriest Peter Heers, D.Th., Assistant Professor of Old and New Testament, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (ROCOR)

Archpriest Geoffrey Korz, All Saints of North America Orthodox Church (OCA), Hamilton Ontario

Archpriest Miroljub Srb. Ruzic, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Orthodox Church (OCA), Center for Slavic and East European Studies, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Archpriest David C. Straut, St. Elizabeth the New Martyr Orthodox Church (ROCOR), Rocky Hill, NJ

Archpriest John Whiteford, St. Jonah Orthodox Church (ROCOR), Spring, TX

Hieromonk Patrick (John) Ramsey, Ph.D. (ROCOR), [On loan to the Metropolis of Limassol, Cyprus], Distance Tutor, Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge, England

Hieromonk Alexander (Reichert), Acting Abbot, SS. Sergius & Herman of Valaam Monastery (ROCOR), Atlantic Mine, MI

Hieromonk Alexis Trader, D.Th., Karakallou Monastery, Mt. Athos (Greece)

Fr. John E. Afendoulis, St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church (GOAA), Newport, RI

Fr. Kristian Akselberg, D.Phil. (Cand.), St Andrew's Greek Orthodox Church (Ecumenical Patriarchate}, London, England

Fr. John Boddecker, SS. Theodore Orthodox Church (ROCOR), Buffalo, NY

Fr. Christopher Allen, SS. Joachim and Anna Orthodox Church (ROCOR), San Antonio, TX

Fr. Ignatius Green, Holy Virgin Protection Russian Orthodox Church (ROCOR), Nyack, NY, Editor, St Vladimir's Seminary Press

Chaplain (Major) George Ruston Hill, U.S. Army, Ethics Instructor, The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, Charlottesville, VA

Fr. Johannes Jacobse, St. Peter the Apostle Orthodox Church (AOCANA), Bonita Springs, FL

Fr. Andrew Kishler, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church (AOCANA), Spring Valley, IL

Fr. Nathaniel Johnson, Saint Lawrence Orthodox Church (GOAA), Felton, CA

Fr. Seraphim Majmudar, Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (GOAA), Tacoma, WA

Fr. John A. Peck, All Saints of North America Orthodox Church (GOAA), Sun City, AZ

Fr. John Schmidt (OCA-ROEA), St. Elias Orthodox Church, Ellwood City, PA

Chaplain (Captain) Christopher Moody, U.S. Army (GOAA), Fort Sill, OK

Fr. Gregory Telepneff, Th.D., Senior Research Scholar, Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies

Protodeacon Brian Patrick Mitchell, St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral (ROCOR) , Washington, DC

Deacon Nicholas Dujmovic, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Politics, Protection of the Holy Mother of God Orthodox Church (OCA-ROEA), Falls Church, VA

Deacon Stephen Hayes, D.Th., Archdiocese of Johannesburg and Pretoria, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa

Deacon Alexander William Laymon, Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired, St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church (ROCOR), Stafford, VA

Deacon Michael Pavuk, Director of Development, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (ROCOR), Jordanville, NY

Deacon Ananias Sorem, Ph.D., Lecturer in Philosophy, California State U. at Fullerton, Falling Asleep of the Ever-Virgin Mary Church (OCA-ROEA), Anaheim, CA

Deacon Alexander William Laymon, Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired, St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church (ROCOR), Stafford, VA

Teena H. Blackburn, Lecturer in Philosophy and Religion, Eastern Kentucky University

David Bradshaw, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, University of Kentucky

Mark J. Cherry, Ph.D., Professor in Applied Ethics, Department of Philosophy , St. Edward's University

Corinna Delkeskamp-Hayes, Editor, Christian Bioethics, Freigericht, Germany

Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., Ph.D., M.D., Professor, Rice University, Professor Emeritus, Baylor College of Medicine

Bruce V. Foltz, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Eckerd College

David Ford, Ph.D., Professor of Church History, St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (OCA)

Nancy Forderhase, Ph.D., Emerita Professor of History, Eastern Kentucky University

Ana S. Iltis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Director, Center for Bioethics, Health and Society, Wake Forest University

Nathan A. Jacobs, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar of Philosophy, University of Kentucky, President, 5Sees Production Company

Joel Kalvesmaki, Ph.D. , Editor in Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks

James Kushiner, Executive Editor, Touchstone , Chicago, IL

George Michalopulos, Editor and Publisher, Monomakhos.com

Sampson (Ryan) Nash, MD, MA, Director, The Ohio State University Center for Bioethics, Associate Professor of Medicine, The Ohio State University College of Medicine

Alfred Kentigern Siewers, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English, Bucknell University

*Names of organizations are for identification only.

Point of contact for inquiries: Protodeacon Brian Patrick Mitchell,protodeaconpatrick@gmail.com

Over at the AOI site there is an option to add your name:


<![CDATA[UPDATE: Uncut Mountain Press Fund-Raising Campaign a TOTAL SUCCESS – Go Fund Campaign Raises $17,100 in just over 10 Days to Re-Launch the Publishing Work of UMP]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/update-uncut-mountain-press-fund-raising-campaign-a-total-success https://orthodoxethos.com/post/update-uncut-mountain-press-fund-raising-campaign-a-total-success ANNOUNCEMENT from Fr. Peter Heers, Director of Uncut Mountain Press


A heart-felt THANK YOU to all who helped UMP raise over $17,000!

Within just over 10 days, 109 faithful souls raised $17,100 to re-launch the publishing of the best of Traditional Orthodoxy in Greece and Mt. Athos!

What a joy and an honor to be on the receiving end of your loving-kindness and zeal for the upbuilding of the Body of Christ!

We are indebted to all who sacrificed in any way to support our publishing work. We ask your prayers now as we work diligently to bring to fruition your sacrificial love in your lives and the life of the faithful - for the sake of your souls, our souls and every believer and good-willed seeker.

Our first steps will be:

1. To bring back into circulation all of our out-of-print titles, including The Truth of our Faith, Exomologetarion, Patristic Theology and all of our books (see here for descriptions: https://www.uncutmountainpress.com).

2. To bring quickly to press (God-willing) two important titles previously announced and partially complete: Treatise on the Procession of the Holy Spirit by St. Gregory Palamas ( https://uncutmountainpress.com/books/apodictic-treatise-on-the-procession-of-the-holy-spirit/) and Ecumenism: Origins, Expectations, Disenchantment ( https://uncutmountainpress.com/books/ecumenism/).

3. And, to begin work on our many other projects, future publications which will benefit many, including books by Professor Demetrios Tselengidis, Fr. Anastasios Gotsopoulos and others (see the full list on the GFM campaign page: https://www.gofundme.com/uncut-mountain).

We thank you all for your support and we ask your prayers as we work hard to accomplish these goals over the next few months and years.

This week, however, we have the joy of commencing with the distribution of the Book Rewards to our 109 donors! It is a providential coincidence that this will correspond with the Nativity Season and bring a small, but significant, added joy to you of our supporters.

Finally, for all those who still would like to support the campaign and receive the Book Rewards, you can still do so, both on the GFM campaign webpage or by mailing a check to our Press.

For the purpose of allowing others who desire to help, we have increased the goal amount by $2,000 and will leave the GFM page active for the several more weeks.

For those who prefer to support the Press directly, you can mail your checks to:

Uncut Mountain Press
259 Main Street
Jordanville, NY 13361

Again, we thank you for your support and pray the Lord bless you immensely!

With gratitude to you and entreaty to God on your behalf,

Fr. Peter Heers
Founder and Director of Uncut Mountain Press

<![CDATA[The Moscow Patriarchate on The “Council” of Crete – Resolutions of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church (29TH NOVEMBER – 2ND DECEMBER 2017)]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-moscow-patriarcahte-on-the-council-of-crete https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-moscow-patriarcahte-on-the-council-of-crete Excerpts:

37. The Bishops’ Council approves the evaluation of the Council of First Hierarchs and bishops of ten Local Orthodox Churches which took place on the island of Crete from 18th to 26th June 2016 which is contained in the decision of the Holy Synod of 15th June 2016 (Journal no.48). This Council cannot be viewed as Ecumenical, and the decisions taken at it cannot be viewed as binding for the entire Orthodox Church since in the absence of the agreement of a number of Local autocephalous Orthodox Churches on holding the Council at a time early agreed upon the principle of consensus was violated. At the same time, we ought to recognize the Council on Crete as a significant event in the history of the Orthodox Church.

38. An analysis of the documents of the Council of Crete entrusted by the Holy Synod to the Synodal Biblical and Theological Commission has shown that some of them contain unclear and ambiguous formulations, which does not allow us to consider them exemplary expressions of the truths of the Orthodox faith and the Church’s Tradition. This is especially true of the document on “The Relationships of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world,” which was not signed by two thirds of the members of the delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church, as well as by individual bishops of a number of other Local Churches which took part in the work of the Council on Crete, which testifies to a significant difference in opinion in relation to this document even among the participants of the Council of Crete.

39. The members of the Council note the ambiguous attitude towards the Council which took place on Crete among the family of the Local Orthodox Churches, noting the commentaries of the Holy Synods of the Patriarchates of Antioch (27th June 2016), Bulgaria (15th November 2016) and Georgia (22nd December 2016) which expressed a critical attitude towards the Council of Crete. Also, hierarchs of a number of other Local Churches and the Holy Koinotita and the monasteries of Mount Athos have also given detailed commentaries on the documents of the Council of Crete and its method of adopting decisions.

40. The Holy Council expresses the belief that the preservation and strengthening of the unity of the Holy Orthodox Church, independent of its position on the Council of Crete, is the common task of all the Local autocephalous Orthodox Churches, both those which took part in the Council on Crete as well as of those which abstained from taking part in it. The bolstering of inter-Orthodox cooperation acquires special importance in this regard.


<![CDATA[Following the Holy Fathers: Timeless Guides of Authentic Christianity – By Fr. Theodore Zisis, Translated by Fr. John Palmer, Published by New Rome Press]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/following-the-holy-fathers-timeless-guides-of-authentic-christianity https://orthodoxethos.com/post/following-the-holy-fathers-timeless-guides-of-authentic-christianity The English speaking Orthodox world is finally able to gain access to the renowned Patristic scholar and confessor of Faith, Fr. Theodore Zisis with this new translation by Fr. John Palmer of his introduction to the Holy Fathers. Fr. John spent several years near Fr. Theodore when doing his Ph.D. Thesis in Thessaloniki and has given us a true and trusted English version.

May all those who love the Holy Fathers run to buy this text and be greatly benefited!

Following the Holy Fathers: Timeless Guides of Authentic Christianity

Pages: 344

Binding: Sewn softcover

From the Introduction…
It must be clearly established in our minds that the Fathers of the Church, those wise and holy teachers of the Orthodox faith, are not the product of some by-gone age; they are not a thing of the past. This is greatly important since many contemporary Orthodox theologians, having fallen under the influence of non-Orthodox scholars, believe and teach that the mark of antiquity renders an ecclesiastical writer a Father of the Church; in other words, in order to be a Father one must have lived in some ancient era. Consequently, this view divides the Church’s indivisible history according to quality and spiritual depth; it treats the Church as if it were not Christ Himself extended unto the ages of ages, as if during particular eras – such as our own – it had ceased to be guided by the Holy Spirit and to produce saints, teachers and theologians. On the contrary, the Church continues on its course through history ever undiminished in quality, sanctifying through Christ its holy head and through the All-Holy Spirit, who remains eternally and continually within it…

—Protopresbyter Theodoros Zisis

From the Translator’s Introduction…

This book, then, represents a collection of valuable scholarship covering both a broad range of Patristic figures dating from apostolic times to the present day, as well as a wide variety of themes. Moreover, it paints a roughly representative picture of one of Greece’s most important modern Patristic scholars and effectively introduces him to the English-speaking world. Most importantly, though, this volume offers to show readers how an authentic Orthodox Patrologist relates to the lives, text, and teachings of the Holy Fathers.

—Rev. Dr. Fr. John Palmer ]]>
<![CDATA[Archpriest Theodore Zisis: Interview on the “Council of Crete” [GREEK] – ΟΔΥΣΣΕΑ ΤV (Nov. 28, 2017)]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/archpriest-theodore-zisis-interview-on-the-council-of-crete-nov-28-2017 https://orthodoxethos.com/post/archpriest-theodore-zisis-interview-on-the-council-of-crete-nov-28-2017 <![CDATA[FORGED IN FIRE: A Day in the Life of a Seminarian – Holy Trinity Seminary - Giving Tuesday]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/forged-in-fire-a-day-in-the-life-of-seminarian https://orthodoxethos.com/post/forged-in-fire-a-day-in-the-life-of-seminarian DONATE HERE: http://hts.edu/support.html

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<![CDATA[A Day in the Life of A Seminarian (Trailer) – Holy Trinity Seminary, Jordanville, NY]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-seminarian-trailer https://orthodoxethos.com/post/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-seminarian-trailer <![CDATA[“WHEN THEY KILL ME, DON’T CRY FOR ME, BUT PRAY FOR ME” – Remembrances of Fr. Daniel Sysoev by Archimandrite Melchisedek (Artiukhin)]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/when-they-kill-me-dont-cry-for-me-but-pray-for-me https://orthodoxethos.com/post/when-they-kill-me-dont-cry-for-me-but-pray-for-me

Today is already eight years form the beginning of the eternal life of our dear brother and sincere pastor Fr. Daniel Sysoev!

A priest once wrote these words in his last book: “The best end, which only a Christian can imagine, is a martyric death.” These words were written by the murdered priest Daniel Sysoev. His Holiness the patriarch wrote in his message: “The Lord honored his faithful servant with a confessor’s and martyr’s death, and he now abides in the Synaxis of the saints among the righteous, in the Synaxis of spirits made perfect.” St. John Chrysostom once said, “It is not only death that makes martyrs, but the whole dispensation of life.” But the whole dispensation of life.

Fr. Daniel’s mother, Matushka Anna, said, “He grew up a very weak boy, and was near death three times, not distinguished by such a fighting nature as he later had, when he became a priest. He was a very bookish person, always reading books, which led to him needing glasses. Then he went to school. Remember, he was born in ’74; it was ’81 when he was seven—the peak of Soviet life. He missed the beginning of class in September in second grade. His homeroom teacher came to our house and suddenly saw a circle of icons. She was in shock. She told the headmaster, she talked about it at the teachers’ meeting, and they began to brainwash him, overloading him with books from the library. His physics teacher even brought some kind of device to our house (maybe you remember from when you studied), which produced lightning, saying, ‘Look, son, it’s not God in Heaven, and it’s not the prophet Elijah making the lightning—there’s no miracle here—it’s just this device.’ And nothing helped. Once his teacher stood him in front of the entire class and said, ‘Laugh at him. What, you believe in God? What, you know some prayers?’ My son said, ‘Yes, I believe in God, and I know some prayers.’ His confession began in second grade. He was the black sheep in those times, you know—Soviet, terrible godless, a-religious times. When he was six, our family spiritual father, an archimandrite, once asked him, ‘Danyush,[1] what do you want to be—a married priest or a monk?’ And he answered, ‘No, neither.’ ‘Then what?’ ‘The patriarch.’ He was always a maximalist.”

Archimandrite Melchisedek speaks about Fr. Daniel at an evening held in his honor. Photo: pravmir.ru

Archimandrite Melchisedek speaks about Fr. Daniel at an evening held in his honor. Photo: pravmir.ru

I remember, his classmate that he lived with in the same cell for four years at the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, said, “He didn’t listen to the teacher in class. He would read books. He was surrounded by books. When we asked him, ‘Why don’t you listen to the teacher?’ he answered, ‘I’ve already read all that.’ But when the teacher would suddenly say something not quite right, he immediately noticed: ‘I’m sorry, but St. Symeon the New Theologian said about that subject…’ The teacher wouldn’t even know how to answer. Such was his knowledge. He told one friend, ‘I can read two-three books a day.’ He was a very shy person. When he was a deacon, having just finished seminary, he would gather dozens and hundreds of people for Bible talks at the Krutitsy podvoriye. I was there for these talks. If you didn’t say bye to him on time, then you couldn’t get out of the hall, because there were so many people. It was impossible to push through to him, and he lived for it; he breathed it.”

He had a choice. Many might think that, in fact, an unexpected death is not a martyric death. Why? But when there is no choice. But remember the words of St. John Chrysostom: “A martyric death comes not only at the moment of death, but is born from the whole will of man.” He received death threats fourteen times. He told his matushka, “I will not live to see thirty-three.” They spoke for a long time between themselves before that, about who would bury whom, and he said, “Let’s pray about it.” And Matushka said, “No, I feel that I will die before you.” And eventually, when he began to pray about it, he said, “No, most likely you will bury me. I think I won’t live to see thirty-three.” “Who will you leave us to?” “Oh,” he said, “I will leave you in reliable hands.” “Whose?” Matushka asked. “The Mother of God’s.”

Fr. Daniel's widow, Matushka Julia, speaking to Metropolitan Hilarion of New York

It was a premonition, and a real sense of death. Matushka Julia said, “I’ve had the impression the last few weeks that death is breathing down my neck.”

The church where Fr. Daniel served was small. When his murderer entered the church, there’s some stairs to the second floor there just inside the door, that the regent, Vladimir Strelbitsky came down. The killer saw his cassock and shot the regent, wounding him in the shoulder, and two women who were there cried out. Fr. Daniel, in the altar, preparing to hear someone’s confession, must have heard this shot, or the women’s cries. And when the murderer yelled out, “Where is Sysoev?! Where is Sysoev?!” it was impossible not to hear it. Fr. Daniel walked out and answered the killer, “That’s me!” He was wounded in the neck, in the carotid artery, and when he fell to the floor, he was fatally shot in the back of the head, and the bullet went through, right through, into the floor of the church. He had a choice. He could have sat it out in the altar, or hidden, escaping through the attic. He didn’t do that.

When we read from the Old Testament on the day of the repose of a martyr, we read these words: He, being made perfect in a short time, fulfilled a long time (Wis. 4:13). It’s possible to live a long time and do nothing for God, for man, or for the Church. And it’s possible to live a short life, but when it’s with God it will be a long life before God, despite the fact that the number of years is not so large.

Not long before his death he told his daughter, “When they kill me, don’t cry for me, but pray for me.” We know that when we pray for sinful people, the Lord hears our prayers and gives them His merciful aid and strength. When we pray for the righteous, this prayer returns to us—our love returns to us.

We have gained a martyr in Heaven, a confessor of Christ, and an intercessor before God for us sinners.

Eternal and blessed memory to the ever-memorable murdered Priest Daniel!!!

Archimandrite Melchisedek (Artiukhin)
Translated by Jesse Dominick



<![CDATA[Tο υπ’ αριθμόν 1 αμάρτημα του Ελληνικού λαού – π. Αθανάσιος Μυτιληναίος ]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/to-yp-ari8mon-1-amarthma-toy-ellhnikoy-laoy https://orthodoxethos.com/post/to-yp-ari8mon-1-amarthma-toy-ellhnikoy-laoy -Η αποδοχή του δυτικού ορθολογιστικού ουμανισμού (το αμάρτημα αρνήσεως της Εκκλησίας).

-Ο πόλεμος εναντίον της Εκκλησίας από εγκάθετους επισκόπους (δεν είμεθα σε θέση να σας ποιμάνομε, φροντίστε να σωθείτε μόνοι σας).

-Ο πόλεμος εναντίον των Μοναστηριών.

-Οι ολέθριες εθνικές συνέπειες με την απώλεια εδαφών και αιχμαλωσία του λαού.

-Η δύναμη της μετανοίας και της εν Χριστώ ζωής.


Μακαριστός Γέροντας π. Αθανάσιος Μυτιληναίος (1927 – 2006)

Απόσπασμα ομιλίας που εκφωνήθηκε στις 25/04 του 1983.

Κἂν ὁλόκληρος δὲ λαὸς ἁμάρτῃ, οὐ νικᾷ τὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ φιλανθρωπίαν. Ἐμοσχοποίησεν ὁ λαὸς, καὶ οὐκ ἀπέστη ὁ Θεὸς τῆς φιλανθρωπίας· ἠρνήσαντο οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὸν Θεὸν, ἀλλ’ ὁ Θεὸς ἑαυτὸν οὐκ ἠρνήσατο. Οὗτοι οἱ θεοί σου Ἰσραὴλ, εἰρήκασιν· καὶ πάλιν συνήθως ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ, σωτὴρ αὐτῶν ἐγένετο. Καὶ οὐ μόνος δ’ ὁ λαὸς ἥμαρτε, ἀλλὰ καὶ Ἀαρὼν ὁ ἀρχιερεύς. Μωϋσῆς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ λέγων, Καὶ ἐπ’ Ἀαρὼν ἐγένετο ὀργὴ Κυρίου· καὶ ἐδεήθην, φησὶν, ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ, καὶ συνεχώρησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Θεός. Εἶτα Μωϋσῆς μὲν αἰτῶν ὑπὲρ ἀρχιερέως ἁμαρτάνοντος, ἐδυσώπει τὸν Κύριον· Ἰησοῦς δὲ ὁ μονογενὴς, αἰτῶν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν οὐ δυσωπεῖ τὸν Θεόν; Κἀκεῖνον μὲν διὰ τὸ πταισθὲν οὐκ ἐκώλυσεν ἐλθεῖν εἰς ἀρχιερωσύνην· σὲ δὲ ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἐλθόντα, κεκώλυκεν εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν σωτηρίαν; Μετανόησον, ἄνθρωπε, λοιπὸν καὶ αὐτὸς ὁμοίως, καὶ οὐ κεκώλυταί σοι ἡ χάρις.

Ακόμη, λέγει, όχι μόνο άτομα αλλά και λαός ολόκληρος ακόμη αν αμαρτήσει και αυτόν ο Θεός μπορεί να τον συγχωρήσει, διότι δεν νικούν την φιλανθρωπία του Θεού οι αμαρτίες ενός ολοκλήρου λαού. Και έχει το παράδειγμα εδώ της μοσχοποιήσεως του Ισραήλ. Πριν προχωρήσω όμως για να δούμε την μοσχοποίηση του Ισραήλ θα ‘θελα να σας έλεγα το εξής.

Αλήθεια, ο λαός μας αυτή τη στιγμή έχει πολλές αμαρτίες; Βέβαια κάθε λαός έχει αμαρτίες, όχι ως πρόσωπα αλλά ως λαός. Διότι έχει πάρα πολύ σημασία αυτό, το να δούμε όχι τα άτομα αλλά τον λαό σαν σύνολο. Έχει πάρα πολύ σημασία, το ξαναλέγω. Πράξεις τις οποίες δεν κάνουν πρόσωπα αλλά κάνει ο λαός. Αυτή τη στιγμή ο λαός μας έχει φοβερές αμαρτίες. Όταν λέγω ‘αυτή τη στιγμή’ βέβαια, 160 τόσα χρόνια, να εξηγούμεθα, δηλαδή μετά το 1821. Πράγμα που σας το έχω ξανααναφέρει εδώ, θα το ενθυμήστε αλλά δεν πειράζει αν το ξαναπούμε, ότι ο λαός μας άρχισε να αμαρτάνει όσο δεν αμάρτανε τα 400 χρόνια δουλείας εις τους Τούρκους. Ως λαός το ξαναλέγω.

Και ποια ήταν η αμαρτία του λαού μας; Όχι βεβαίως πορνείες και μοιχείες, αυτά αφορούσαν τον κάθε πολίτη, τον κάθε άνθρωπο και τον κάθε Χριστιανό, αλλά το ξεκίνημα της αμαρτίας του λαού μας ήταν το εξής. Όταν εκείνοι που ήσαν στην Ευρώπη, Έλληνες, και είχαν σπουδάσει έξω και δεν είχαν ζήσει τις λαχτάρες του λαού μας αλλά ζούσαν στην ασφάλεια της Ευρώπης και εκεί εσπούδαζαν, αυτοί είχαν προ πολλού χάσει την Ελληνική τους και την Ορθόδοξή τους ταυτότητα. Ναι μεν ίσως να πίστευαν ακόμα στο θέμα Ελλάς αλλά δεν πίστευαν πια στο θέμα Ορθόδοξος Εκκλησία διότι είχαν υποστεί πολλή φθορά έξω στην Ευρώπη. Και η Ελληνική τους ακόμα αγάπη και αυτή είχε ακόμη υποστεί φθορά, μην το ξεχνάμε. Αυτοί οι άνθρωποι όμως θέλησαν, αλλοτριωμένοι από τις λαχτάρες όπως σας είπα του λαού μας και τις περιπέτειές του, θέλησαν όταν η Ελλάς ελευθερώθηκε να ‘ρθουν στην Ελλάδα και να κυβερνήσουν τον λαό μας. Οι άνθρωποι αυτοί όμως είχανε μείνει ήδη ξένοι στα αισθήματα του λαού και προσπάθησαν να μεταφέρουν στην Ελλάδα τον Ευρωπαϊκόν δυτικόν ανθρωπισμόν με τον οποίον θα αντικαθιστούσαν την Εκκλησίαν.

Βέβαια το θέμα αυτό δεν ήταν καινούριο πάλι και γι’ αυτούς, διότι η περίπτωσις εισόδου του Ευρωπαϊκού ανθρωπισμού-ουμανισμού ήδη είχε σημειωθεί από τα τελευταία χρόνια της Βυζαντινής Αυτοκρατορίας. Βλέπομε μία κίνηση μετά τον 10ον αιώνα να υπάρχει αυτή η τάσις να εισαχθεί στο Βυζάντιο ο δυτικός ουμανισμός. Εξάλλου τα τελευταία χρόνια του Βυζαντίου εδοκιμάσθησαν πολλοί από αυτήν την προσπάθεια και πολλοί λαοί του Βυζαντίου είχανε ήδη χωρισθεί, οι μεν εδέχοντο την Ορθόδοξον Πίστη και θέση και συνεπώς από την Ορθόδοξον Πίστη ΑΠΕΡΡΕΕ ο σωστός θα λέγαμε ανθρωπισμός να το πω έτσι, δηλαδή η σωστή χριστιανική ανθρωπολογία, και εκείνοι οι οποίοι εδέχοντο απ’ τη Δύση τα καινούρια εκείνα φρούτα ως ‘φώτα’ που ήρχοντο δήθεν και που φυσικά αυτοί δεν ξεκινούσαν από την Πίστη αλλά από την φιλοσοφία ή από τον ορθολογισμόν.

Σας σημειώνω μόνον έναν σταθμόν σε αυτήν την περίπτωση, τον Νικόλαο Καβάσιλα. Ο Νικόλαος Καβάσιλας, Θεσσαλονικεύς, θεολόγος μεγάλος, πάρα πολύ ηγωνίσθη εναντίον του ήδη εισερχομένου εις την Ανατολή δυτικού ανθρωπισμού και τα έργα του, όπως είναι κάποιες ομιλίες στην Θεοτόκο ή η εν Χριστώ ζωή, δεν είναι τίποτε άλλο παρά μία απάντησις. Μόνο που ένας που θα τα διαβάσει δε ξέρει γιατί τα έγραψε αυτά ο Καβάσιλας. Τα ‘γραψε ακριβώς για να αναχαιτίσει αυτόν τον δυτικόν ανθρωπισμόν. Το υπογραμμίζω αυτό: αυτόν τον δυτικόν ανθρωπισμόν.

Το αποτέλεσμα είναι ότι ήρθε η Άλωσις της Κωνσταντινουπόλεως και ανεκόπη αυτή η διείσδυσις του δυτικού ανθρωπισμού.

Έφυγαν Έλληνες έξω και εκεί εμπολιάστηκαν με αυτόν τον δυτικόν ανθρωπισμόν. Ο λαός μας όμως ακριβώς ένεκα της μακροτάτης αυτής κατοχής των Τούρκων στην Ελλάδα εγλίτωσε από αυτόν τον ορθολογιστικόν ουμανισμόν, τον φιλοσοφικόν ουμανισμόν. Γλίτωσε. Είναι όπως ακριβώς συμβαίνει με τα αρχαία κτίσματα που σώζονται όσο είναι θαμμένα και δεν τα ανακαλύψαμε. Απ’ τη στιγμή που θα κάνουμε ανασκαφή και θα τα βγάλουμε στην επιφάνεια τότε συμβαίνει το εξής: κινδυνεύουν από τους αρχαιοκαπήλους ή από την φθορά. Όσο μένουν θαμμένα είναι προφυλαγμένα. Εξάλλου η αρχαιολογική υπηρεσία το ξέρει αυτό γι’ αυτό και δεν κάνει ανασκαφές αν ξέρει ότι κάπου κάτι έχει να βρει, για να γλιτώσει ακριβώς αυτά τα κτίσματα από τους αρχαιοκαπήλους και τη φθορά, προπαντός από τους αρχαιοκαπήλους.

Όταν ελευθερώθηκε η Πατρίδα μας, και φυσικά την ελευθέρωσαν οι άνθρωποι οι ντόπιοι, οι αγωνισταί οι ντόπιοι,τότε ήρθαν οι απ’ έξω Έλληνες, μορφωμένοι αυτοί πλέον αλλά και μπολιασμένοι με τον δυτικόν ουμανισμόν, για να εκτοπίσουν την Ορθοδοξία και την Εκκλησία μας και να εισαγάγουν αυτόν τον δυτικόν ουμανισμόν. Σημειώσατε ότι αυτό είναι το αμάρτημα. Το φοβερόν αμάρτημα. Το παμέγιστον αμάρτημα. Έγιναν πάρα πολλές προσπάθειες. Σας θυμίζω στο καινούριο πια Κράτος το Ελληνικό τον Φλαμιάτο, σας θυμίζω τον Παπουλάκο. Διαβάσετε αυτές τις μορφές για να αντιληφθείτε τι εγίνετο εδώ στην Ελλάδα. ..

Όπως σας είπα όμως αυτό το αμάρτημα δεν είναι τι άλλο παρά αποστασία, στοιχειοθετεί αποστασίαν από τον Θεόν. Και έβλεπε κανένας όσο περνούσαν οι δεκαετίες, τόσο το πράγμα εγίνετο χειρότερο. Και τι δεν προσέβαλε αυτό το πνεύμα. Προσέβαλε ακόμη και την Θεολογική μας Σχολή Αθηνών, η οποία έβγαλε θεολόγους οι οποίοι εγίνετο μετά επίσκοποι. Σημειώσατε ότι για να γίνει κανείς επίσκοπος έπρεπε να είναι θεολόγος και για να είναι θεολόγος έπρεπε να περάσει από το Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών, αλλά περνώντας από το Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών έπαιρνε και τα φρούτα της Δύσεως. Και έτσι η Εκκλησία μας άρχισε να χάνει από τους επισκόπους της σιγά-σιγά το Ορθόδοξό Της φρόνημα, διότι οι διδάσκοντες καθηγηταί πάρα πολλές φορές πλην εξαιρέσεων δεν είχαν Ορθόδοξο φρόνημα. Αυτό βεβαίως επηρέασε πάρα πολύ την εκκλησιαστική ζωή του τόπου μας, αναμφισβήτητα.

Μέχρι, για να μην πολυπραγμονώ, μέχρι που μπήκαμε στην ΕΟΚ αυτό το αμάρτημα συνεχίζει, διότι μπαίνοντας στην ΕΟΚ αυτός ο σκοπός υπήρχε: ό,τι απέμεινε από την Ορθόδοξον τοποθέτηση του λαού μας να πεταχτεί έξω. Στην πραγματικότητα λοιπόν εκείνοι που μας κυβέρνησαν στα 160 τόσα χρόνια μέχρι σήμερα -πλην εξαιρέσεων το ξαναλέγω- απέβλεπαν ή λίγο ή πολύ, ή συνειδητά ή ασυνείδητα, ή από πολιτική σκοπιμότητα ή όχι, το θέμα είναι ότι απέβλεψαν όλοι στο να εξωστρακίσουν την Ορθόδοξο Πίστη από τον λαό μας και να εισαγάγουν τον ορθολογιστικόν, δυτικού τύπου ουμανισμόν-ανθρωπισμόν.

Και αυτή τη στιγμή δε στις ημέρες μας το βλέπομε να καλπάζει. Γιατί λέγω στις ημέρας μας να καλπάζει; Διότι απλούστατα η πορεία αυτής της καταστάσεως ακολουθεί όχι αριθμητική καμπύλη αλλά γεωμετρική, εκθετική καμπύλη. Με αυτήν την έννοια. Επόμενον ήτανε στην αρχή ο λαός να έχει μεγάλη αντίσταση, τώρα η αντίστασή του όλο και μικραίνει και μικραίνει, και ερχόμενο αυτό το πνεύμα διαρκώς να επιβληθεί ο λαός πια ή δεν το καταλαβαίνει ή έτσι του αρέσει πια. Αποδέχεται αυτό το ουμανιστικό πνεύμα της Δύσεως και απεμπολεί αυτό που είχε πατρογονικό. Αυτό είναι το μεγάλωμα και το υπ΄ αριθμόν ένα αμάρτημα του λαού μας. Τώρα όλα τ’ άλλα είναι αποτέλεσμα αυτού του πνεύματος. Όλα τ’ άλλα. Για να καταλάβετε δηλαδή τί θα πει αμαρτάνει ένας λαός.

Και λέγει τώρα εδώ ο Άγιος Κύριλλος, είδες, η Χάρις του Θεού μπορεί να σώσει έναν λαό όταν μετανοήσει γιατί έχει αμαρτήσει. Δεν ξέρω βέβαια αν ο λαός μας αυτή τη στιγμή είναι σε θέση να μετανοήσει. Δεν ξέρω. Για την ώρα δεν έδειξε δείγματα να μετανοεί, αντιθέτως μάλιστα κινείται με κάθε προσπάθεια και δύναμη όλο και να τονίσει την αποστασία του από τον Θεό, με κάθε τρόπο. Με κάθε τρόπο.

Αλλά αυτό ξέρετε με τι αντιστοιχεί με τον αρχαίο λαό του Ισραήλ; Το ότι ο λαός του Ισραήλ εμοσχοποίησε, που το αναφέρει εδώ ο Άγιος Κύριλλος. Τί ήτο αυτό; Αγαπητοί μου 40 μέρες ανέβηκε ο Μωυσής πάνω εις το όρος Σινά για να πάρει κατ’ εντολή του Θεού τις Εντολές. Σαράντα ημέρες, όχι παραπάνω. Και επέρασαν οι μέρες και ο λαός άρχισε να ανησυχεί τι απέγινε ο Μωυσής και τότε είπαν, α ο Μωυσής πρέπει να χάθηκε.. Τι; Να χάθηκε; Καλά για σταθείτε. Δεν είδαν το βουνό να είναι πυρίκαυστο χωρίς να είναι ηφαίστειο το Σινά; Δεν είδαν τον γνόφον και τον ζόφον επί της κορυφής; Δεν άκουσαν την φωνή του Θεού σαν σάλπιγγες δυνατές που τους έπιασε φόβος και τρόμος; Τα ξέχασαν; Τα ξέχασαν. Μέσα σε λιγότερο από 40 ημέρες αγαπητοί μου τα ξέχασαν. Μα είναι δυνατόν;

Εμείς άμα διαβάζουμε την ιστορία των Εβραίων λέμε, ‘μα είναι δυνατόν;΄ Α, κάποτε το έλεγα κι εγώ αλλά είναι δυνατόν για τον κάθε λαό. Και εμείς ξεχνάμε έτσι. Έτσι είμεθα επιλήσμονες των θαυμάτων του Θεού και της παρουσίας του Θεού. Αποτέλεσμα. Πιάνουν τον Ααρών και του λένε, θα μας κάνεις ένα μοσχάρι κατά απομίμηση της λατρείας των Αιγυπτίων και θα το λατρεύσουμε. Αυτός θα είναι ο Θεός μας από εδώ και εμπρός. Βρε αμάν -με συγχωρείτε με την γλώσσα που μιλάω έτσι- μα δεν είναι σωστό.. Εκ των υστέρων ο Ααρών όταν είδε τον οργισμένο Μωυσή εδικαιολογήθηκε έτσι, ξέρεις λέγει κύριε την ορμή αυτού του λαού, εζήτησαν να με φονεύσουνε όταν εγώ αρνήθηκα. Εζήτησαν να με φονεύσουνε και προκειμένου να μην με φονεύσουν τους είπα, ε μαζέψτε ότι χρυσά αντικείμενα έχετε, φέρτε τα μου τα εδώ να τα βάλω σε χυτήρα να σας βγάλω το μοσχάρι και να το λατρεύετε. Αυτό έκανα. Έτρεμε ο καημένος ο Ααρών όταν τα έλεγε αυτά εις τον Μωυσέα, τον οργισμένον πολύ δικαιολογημένα Μωυσέα.

Και τότε όταν έκαναν το μοσχάρι αυτό το έστησαν σε εμφανές σημείον του στρατοπέδου των και άρχισαν να γιορτάζουν, να λατρεύουν οργιαστικά, δηλαδή όπως είχανε πάρει από την Αίγυπτο κτλ, που οι λατρείες των ειδώλων ήσαν συνοδευόμενες με όργια, γενετήσια όργια. Και εδώ στην Ελλάδα η λατρεία του Βάκχου, του Διονύσιου, η λατρεία της Αφροδίτης ήτανε θα λέγαμε οργιαστικές λατρείες.

Και τότε κατέβηκε ο Μωυσής, είδε τον λαό να αμαρτάνει. Σε τί; Στη μοσχοποίηση, στην αποστασία. Και τότε αγαπητοί μου επέταξε τις πλάκες χάμω, τις έσπασε και είπε, ένας λαός που με τόσην ευκολία μπορεί να ειδωλολατρεί, δεν είναι άξιος να πάρει θεοχάρακτες πλάκες που είναι γραμμένος εκεί ο νόμος του Θεού. Και τότε έπεσε σφαγή μέσα στο στρατόπεδο και τότε έτρεμε μπροστά στην οργή του Μωυσέως ο Ααρών κτλ. Αλλά ο λαός όμως μετενόησε και όταν μετενόησε ο Θεός συνεχώρησε τον λαό. Είναι κάτι που πραγματικά κάνει πολύ εντύπωση. Εξάλλου ολόκληρη η ιστορία του Ισραήλ δεν είναι τίποτε άλλο παρά αποστασία, τιμωρία, μετάνοια, δικαίωσις, και πάλι αποστασία, τιμωρία, μετάνοια, δικαίωσις. Αυτούς τους κύκλους όλη τους τη ζωή οι Ισραηλίται έκαναν απέναντι στον Θεό.

Ακούστε αυτή τη φρασούλα: ἠρνήσαντο οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὸν Θεὸν, ἀλλ’ ὁ Θεὸς ἑαυτὸν οὐκ ἠρνήσατο. Οὗτοι οἱ θεοί σου Ἰσραὴλ, εἰρήκασιν·

Είπαν, αυτοί είναι θεοί σου, όπως το μοσχάρι το χρυσό·

καὶ πάλιν συνήθως ὁ Θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ, σωτὴρ αὐτῶν ἐγένετο.

και πάλι ο Θεός, ως συνήθως, πάλι εγίνετο ο Θεός τους και ο Σωτήρας τους. Τους τιμωρούσε αλλά πάλι όμως τους συγχωρούσε γιατί μετανοούσε ο λαός. Και όχι μόνο τον λαό συνεχώρησε ο Θεός αλλά και τον αμαρτήσαντα αρχιερέα τον Ααρών. Διότι προσευχήθηκε ο Μωυσής υπέρ του Ααρών και ο Θεός συνεχώρησε τον Ααρών. Βλέπετε λοιπόν ότι ο Θεός συγχωρεί έναν αμαρτήσαντα λαόν;

Αγαπητοί μου κι εμείς όπως και άλλοτε σας έχω πει είμαστε πολύ κοντά στον τυπικό λαό του Ισραήλ ή περίπου είμεθα κι εμείς ένας ‘τυπικός’ λαός επειδή δεχθήκαμε πρώτοι το Ευαγγέλιο, επειδή είμεθα Ορθόδοξοι, επειδή, επειδή, επειδή, συνεθέσαμε την πίστη με την ζωή την εθνική και είμεθα θα λέγαμε ένα πιστό αντίτυπον του λαού του Ισραήλ που είναι ‘τύπος’. Και στο θέμα της τιμωρίας, κι εκεί πρέπει να είμαστε κάπως έτσι. Μην μας τιμωρήσει ο Θεός. Εγώ σας είπα το αμάρτημά μας. Σας το είπα, είδατε ποιο είναι τώρα αυτό. ΑΡΝΟΥΜΕΘΑ ΠΙΑ ΤΗΝ ΕΚΚΛΗΣΙΑ.

Βλέπει δε κανείς τα τελευταία χρόνια, συστηματικά -τελευταία χρόνια, πείτε 10, πείτε 20 χρόνια, δεν ξέρω- συστηματικά να υπάρχει αυτή η προσπάθεια να προσβληθεί η Εκκλησία.


Εγώ θα σας έλεγα ότι δεν μπαίνουν παρά σκοπίμως .. ΣΚΟΠΙΜΩΣ. Ευοδώνουν και Πατριάρχες ακόμα αυτές οι σκοτεινές δυνάμεις για να εξωθήσουν την Εκκλησία του Χριστού, να Την αλώσουν. Ναι, ναι, ούτε καινούρια πράγματα λέω, ούτε πρωτοφανή. Λίγο πολύ θα έχετε διαβάσει και θα ξέρετε. Προωθούν σε μεγάλες θέσεις ιερατικές, ανθρώπους που ξέρουν ότι θα τους επιβάλουν οι σκοτεινές δυνάμεις τη θέλησή τους για να προσβάλουν τελικά την Εκκλησία. Η Μασωνία έχει δουλέψει πάνω στον τομέα αυτόν φοβερά, φοβερά έχει δουλέψει.

Λοιπόν τί λέτε; Όταν από την άλλη μεριά προσπαθούν κάθε εκκλησιαστικό θεσμό να τον προσβάλλουν. Τελευταία αρχίζουν να προσβάλλουν τα Μοναστήρια. Βεβαίως δεν είναι καινούριο αυτό. Η πρώτη προσβολή που έγινε των Μοναστηριών ήταν το 1833. Δεν είναι καινούριο πράγμα. Εκεί είχαμε μία δήωση των Μοναστηριών, λεηλάτηση άνευ προηγουμένου. Διώξιμο μοναχών και μοναζουσών άνευ προηγουμένου. Ένα πλήγμα εναντίον των Μοναστηριών μόλις αγαπητοί μου δέκα περίπου χρόνια μετά από την απελευθέρωση της Πατρίδος μας, που συνετέλεσαν τα Μοναστήρια τα μέγιστα υπέρ της ελευθερίας της Πατρίδος μας. Από τότε κατά περιόδους ο αγώνας εναντίον του θεσμού του μοναχισμού είναι αμείλικτος και μάλιστα πολύ τελευταία φαίνεται ότι πια επήραν την απόφαση να κάνουν δουλειά γερή και να τελειώνει η ιστορία, γιατί απλούστατα τα Μοναστήρια .. είναι αντίσταση. Εγώ θα έλεγα και θετική και αρνητική αντίσταση αλλά ας το πάρουμε από την αρνητική αντίσταση, δηλαδή, είναι κυματοθραύσται αυτών των ρευμάτων που έρχονται, απ’ όπου έρχονται. Και σου λέγει, δεν γίνεται, πρέπει να φύγουν από τη μέση, να φύγουν από τη μέση, δεν πρέπει να υπάρχουν τα Μοναστήρια και με κάθε τρόπο τα διαβάλλουν.

Τελευταία ετέθη σε πολλά σχολεία το ερώτημα στα παιδιά Δημοτικού και Γυμνασίου: τί γνώμη έχετε για τα Μοναστήρια; Μας χρειάζονται; Και απήντησαν τα παιδιά εν φωνή, δεν μας χρειάζονται τα Μοναστήρια. Προπαρασκευή ξηλώματος του μοναχικού θεσμού. Και προσπαθούν τώρα για να ρίξουν στάχτη στα μάτια, και ότι εμείς δεν προσβάλλουμε την Εκκλησία, ότι δεν έχει καμμία σχέση ο θεσμός του μοναχισμού με την Εκκλησία. Αν είναι δυνατόν! Μόνο αθεολόγητοι άνθρωποι θα μπορούσαν να πουν ότι δεν έχει σχέση η Εκκλησία με τον μοναχισμόν. Οι ρίζες του μοναχισμού είναι μέσα στην Αγία Γραφή. Εκεί είναι οι ρίζες του μοναχισμού. Αυτός ούτος ο Κύριος 40 ημέρες έζησε εις την έρημον και αυτός ούτος ο μείζων εν γεννητοίς γυναικών Ιωάννης ο Βαπτιστής ήτο από νήπιον εις την έρημον, ασκητής που δεν τον έφτασε ποτέ κανένας στα μέτρα της ασκήσεως και του οποίου χαρακτηριστικά η ιδία η Αγία Γραφή αναφέρει όταν λέγει: φορούσε μόνο ένα τρίχινο ένδυμα, έτρωγε μόνον ακρίδες και μέλι άγριο, φορούσε μια λωρίδα για ζώνη και ήτανε ασκητικότατος. Αυτά ακριβώς που βρίσκουμε στον μοναχισμό. Και θα λέγαμε ότι ο μοναχισμός είναι κάτι ξένο από την Εκκλησίαν; [σ.σ. δυστυχώς τώρα έχουν βρει έναν πιο ύπουλο και αποτελεσματικό τρόπο να υποτάξουν τον μοναχισμό, τον αλλοιώνουν εκ των έσω, αλλοιώνουν αυτά ακριβώς τα ασκητικά του χαρακτηριστικά με ευρωπαϊκά κονδύλια].

Αυτά όλα είναι η προσβολή κατά της Εκκλησίας, των τελευταίων οχυρών θα λέγαμε της Εκκλησίας, ακριβώς για να επικρατήσει αυτός ο δυτικού τύπου, σας είπα, ορθολογιστικός ουμανισμός. Δεν είναι καινούρια αυτά που σας λέγω ούτε άγνωστα. Δεκαετίες πίσω δουλέψαν άνθρωποι για να γίνουν αυτά και γίνονται και τελεσιουργούνται. Εγώ σας καλώ σε μία επαγρύπνηση.

Μάλιστα συμπτωματικά, τώρα το θυμήθηκα παρότι θα σας το έλεγα την ώρα των αποριών, ακούστε τώρα να ιδείτε και θα πάρετε μία εικόνα. Λυπούμαι που θα το πω αλλά τί να κάνουμε; Η ‘Απογευματινή’, 13 Απριλίου του ’83, δημοσίευσε το εξής: «Με εγκύκλιό του ο Μητροπολίτης Φθιώτιδος Δαμασκηνός που έστειλε στις Εκκλησίες της περιφερείας του, γνωστοποιεί ότι με απόφαση της Ιεράς Συνόδου της Εκκλησίας της Ελλάδας αποκαταστάθηκε εκκλησιαστικώς η Αθανασία Σάμαρη (Αγία Αθανασία Κρικέτου) και γίνεται δεκτή όπως κάθε Ορθόδοξος Χριστιανός στα Μυστήρια της Εκκλησίας.» Τι θα λέγατε για αυτό; Τι θα λέγατε για αυτό! Όταν αυτή είναι μια δαιμονισμένη γυναίκα και λοιπά .. να μην λέω πιο πολλά. Και γίνεται εγκύκλιος και την αποκαθιστά.

Δεν έχω παρά να σας πω τούτο: είναι τα αποτελέσματα των όσων σας είπα. Προσέβαλαν την Εκκλησία εκ των έσω.Έβαλαν ανθρώπους κατά καιρούς να διοικούν την Εκκλησία που δεν είχαν καμμία σχέση με την Εκκλησία. Εδώ είναι το μέγα δυστύχημα και σαν συμπέρασμα εγώ θα σας έλεγα το εξής αγαπητοί μου: Αυτήν την στιγμή ο λαός ας φροντίσει να ποιμάνει τον εαυτόν του γιατί εμείς δεν είμεθα σε θέση να σας ποιμάνομε. Λυπούμαι που το λέγω. Φροντίστε να σωθείτε. ΦΡΟΝΤΙΣΤΕ ΝΑ ΣΩΘΕΙΤΕ.

Όλα είναι καρποί αυτού του μεγάλου αμαρτήματος. Πόσο το τόνισα. Ας μετανοήσουμε λοιπόν. Όπως μετανόησε και ο παλιός Ισραήλ ας μετανοήσουμε για να μην έρθει πραγματικά η καταστροφή. Και ο Θεός απειλούσε, να σας πω μία από τις απειλές, με πολλά πράγματα απειλούσε ο Θεός αλλά δύο ήταν οι κυριότερες: Η ΜΕΤΑΚΙΝΗΣΙΣ ΤΩΝ ΕΔΑΦΙΚΩΝ ΟΡΙΩΝ ΚΑΙ Η ΑΙΧΜΑΛΩΣΙΑ. Μάλιστα το θέμα της αιχμαλωσίας και ο Μωυσής το προφήτευσε και μάλιστα είπε ότι από Βορρά θα σας αιχμαλωτίσουν. Και ήρθαν οι Νινευΐται πρώτα, οι Ασσύριοι, και αιχμαλώτισαν το Βόρειον Βασίλειον και μετά ήρθαν οι Βαβυλώνιοι, ο Ναβουχοδονόσωρ, και αιχμαλώτισε το Νότιον Βασίλειον. Αλλά και τα όρια άρχισαν να σμικρύνονται. Τα μεγαλύτερα όρια που ποτέ είχε ο Ισραήλ ήταν στην εποχή του Δαυίδ και του Σολομώντος. Ήταν η ‘χρυσή εποχή’ του Ισραήλ αλλά ο Σολομών ημάρτησε και του λέγει ο Θεός, δεν θα τιμωρήσω εσένα για χάρη του πατέρα σου, θα τιμωρήσω όμως οπωσδήποτε τους απογόνους σου. Ο γιος του έχασε τον Βορρά, τη Σαμάρεια, και έγινε άλλο Βασίλειο. Χώρισε ο λαός σε δυο Βασίλεια και από εκεί οι ποικίλες σμικρύνσεις.

Λοιπόν. ΜΠΟΡΕΙ ΝΑ ΕΠΙΤΡΕΨΕΙ Ο ΘΕΟΣ ΝΑ ΣΜΙΚΡΥΝΕΙ Η ΠΑΤΡΙΔΑ ΜΑΣ, ΝΑ ΧΑΣΟΜΕ ΚΑΙ ΕΔΑΦΗ. Και αυτό, να βάλει ο Θεός το χέρι Του ΘΑ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΑΠΟ ΤΙΣ ΑΜΑΡΤΙΕΣ ΜΑΣ. Να το ξέρετε αυτό το πράγμα γιατί υπάρχει το ιστορικό προηγούμενο και ερμηνευτικά στην Αγία Γραφή είναι κατατεθειμένο. Διότι δεν κάνομε ερμηνεία φιλοσοφική της ιστορίας αλλά έχομε αποκάλυψη της ερμηνείας της ιστορίας. Διότι εκεί εξηγεί ο Θεός, θα σας μικρύνω τα όρια επειδή επαναστατείτε εναντίον μου. Και αυτό δεν είναι αποτέλεσμα φιλοσοφικής κριτικής, φιλοσοφικής ερεύνης, φιλοσοφικής σκέψεως, το γιατί και πως και το τι. Όχι, αλλά το αποκαλύπτει ο Θεός αυτό. Συνεπώς ας το προσέξουμε. Και τότε που μικρύναμε και η Κωνσταντινούπολις έμεινε μόνο μία πόλις, εκείνη η παλιά μεγάλη Βυζαντινή Αυτοκρατορία, ήταν αυτός ο λόγος.

Αν μου πείτε ότι οι Αυτοκρατορίες και οι λαοί κάποια στιγμή μεγαλώνουν πολύ και μετά αρχίζουν και μικραίνουν και κάποτε χάνονται, αυτό είναι ένας ιστορικός νόμος.. Δεν υπάρχουν ιστορικοί νόμοι. Αν θα θέλαμε να δούμε την ιστορία βεβαίως φιλοσοφικά θα βγάζαμε αυτούς τους ιστορικούς νόμους. ΤΗΝ ΙΣΤΟΡΙΑ ΤΗΝ ΚΥΒΕΡΝΑΕΙ Ο ΘΕΟΣ και οποιοσδήποτε λαός, ή Χριστιανικός ή μη Χριστιανικός, στέκεται σωστά ή όχι σωστά, ο Θεός μεγαλώνει ή μικραίνει. Δεν μου λέτε παρακαλώ, τί είπε ο Θεός για τους Βαβυλωνίους; Θα τους εξαφανίσω από τον χάρτη και απ’ την ιστορία. Εξαφανίστηκαν. Τί είπε ο Θεός; Είπε ο Θεός ότι τους Βαβυλωνίους θα τους τιμωρήσουν οι Πέρσαι και τους Πέρσας θα τους τιμωρήσουν οι Έλληνες, και αυτά ειπώθηκαν, πριν γίνουν, στις περίφημες εκείνες προφητείες του Δανιήλ που προφητεύει και για τους Έλληνες. Αλλά και οι Έλληνες λέει θα τιμωρηθούν. Ήρθαν οι Ρωμαίοι διότι ναι ήσαν ειδωλολάτρες οι Έλληνες.. μπορούσαν να λατρεύουν την Αθηνά, ήθελαν και την Αρτέμιδα -ειδωλολάτρες το ξαναλέγω. Αλλά εσείς υπερβήκατε και την φύση την ίδια. Όταν λατρεύετε την Αφροδίτη και τον Βάκχο και μετέχετε σε παραφύσιν αμαρτήματα ω Έλληνες, παραφύσιν αμαρτήματα, ω Έλληνες!, τότε θα σας τιμωρήσει ο Θεός γιατί πια εδώ υπερβήκατε τον γραπτόν νόμον της συνειδήσεως. Παραβήκατε αυτήν την ίδια την φύσιν. Γι’ αυτό τιμωρούσε ο Θεός. Ο Θεός λοιπόν τιμωρεί τους λαούς και δεν υπάρχουν ιστορικοί νόμοι που κρίνουν τα πράγματα. Όχι δεν υπάρχουν ιστορικοί νόμοι. Ο Θεός κυβερνά τους λαούς, αναδεικνύει ή τιμωρεί.

Μετανόησον, ἄνθρωπε, λοιπὸν καὶ αὐτὸς ὁμοίως, καὶ οὐ κεκώλυταί σοι ἡ χάρις.

Μετανόησε λοιπόν άνθρωπε κι εσύ και δεν θα σε εμποδίσει η Χάρις του Θεού.

Ἀνεπίληπτόν σου παράστησον εἰς τὸ ἑξῆς τὸν τρόπον·

Αλήθεια, τώρα που ακούσατε αυτά που σας είπα, και δεν είναι βέβαια η πρώτη φορά που τα είπα αυτά, πες τε μου πως αισθάνεσθε; Μέσα σας αγανακτείτε, πονάτε. Ε, ακούστε να σας πω. Ακούστε να σας πω. Αν είμεθα εδώ κάποιοι άνθρωποι, ένας κάποιος αριθμός, όχι μικρός και μάλιστα άνδρες και νέοι οι πιο πολλοί άνθρωποι, ακούστε κάτι: ΕΧΟΥΜΕ ΕΝΑΝ ΤΡΟΠΟ ΝΑ ΣΩΣΟΥΜΕ ΤΑ ΠΡΑΓΜΑΤΑ. ΑΝ ΕΜΕΙΣ ΜΕΤΑΝΟΗΣΟΥΜΕ ΠΡΟΣΩΠΙΚΑ. Μα θα μου πείτε, προηγουμένως σας είπα ότι εδώ δεν αμαρτάνουν πρόσωπα αλλά ένας λαός. Μάλιστα. Αλλά και στα Σόδομα ένας λαός είχε αμαρτήσει αλλά ο Θεός τελικά δέχεται αν παρέμεναν 10 άνθρωποι καθαροί να μην καταστρέψει ένα ολόκληρο λαό. Έτσι, και αυτό κατατεθειμένο στην Αγία Γραφή είναι. Έχομε την Αποκάλυψη, έχομε την βεβαιότητα της Αποκαλύψεως. Δεν είναι κατ’ επίνοιαν το συμπέρασμα αλλά είναι κατά αποκάλυψιν, που σημαίνει, αν σε κάθε πόλη Ελληνική και σε κάθε χωριό Ελληνικό υπάρχουν μερικοί άνθρωποι οι οποίοι ζουν την ζωή της μετανοίας και οδύρονται για την κατάσταση που υπάρχει, της αποχριστιανοποιήσεως του λαού μας -γιατί πια, τι είπα τώρα, καταρχάς είπα για την Ορθοδοξία, όχι μόνο πάμε να χάσουμε την Ορθοδοξία μας αλλά και την Χριστιανική μας ιδιότητα– τότε ο Θεός ίσως συγχωρήσει τον λαό μας, ανεχθεί τον λαό μας και δεν μας τιμωρήσει ένεκα αυτών των ανθρώπων οι οποίοι θα έχουνε μετανοήσει.


Δεν υπερηφανεύομαι αλλά δοξάζω τον Θεό, ο Θεός με βοήθησε, αυτή τη θέση που σας λέγω αυτή την στιγμή την είχα όταν ήμουν στρατιώτης. Την ίδια θέση. Ούτε αφήρεσα ούτε πρόσθεσα τίποτα σε αυτά που σας λέγω. Και τότε το έλεγα σε συναδέλφους, ότι ο καλύτερος, ο υψηλότερος έχων την φιλοπατρία μέσα του είναι ο Χριστιανός. Αυτός που ζει αληθινή Χριστιανική ζωή, αυτός που ζει εν παρθενία ακόμη εάν θέλετε, όχι αυτοί που τρέχουν και κυνηγάνε τις γυναίκες.. Αυτοί δεν αγαπάνε την Πατρίδα τους γιατί αυτοί είναι παράγοντες καταστροφής της Πατρίδος των, θετικώς και αρνητικώς. Όχι μόνο από πλευράς τιμωρίας του Θεού που παραβαίνουν τις εντολές Του, αλλά και από την πλευρά ακόμη ότι οι ίδιοι ως μέλη μια Πατρίδος γίνονται ανίκανοι να κρατήσουν την Πατρίδα τους όρθια. Είναι σάπιοι άνθρωποι, ούτε να δουλέψουνε δεν μπορούνε. Συνεπώς, βλέπετε ποιος είναι ο αληθινά φιλόπατρις και ποιος αληθινά αγαπάει την Πατρίδα του; Εκείνος που ζει όπως ο Θεός θέλει και ακόμη φροντίζει με κάθε τρόπο να μην αμαρτάνει και να είναι εν μετανοία.

Ας μετανοούμε λοιπόν αγαπητοί μου και να είστε σίγουροι, αν ο Θεός κρίνει δεν θα τιμωρήσει την Πατρίδα μας αν δει την μετάνοια έστω αυτών των λίγων πιστών ανθρώπων. …

Πηγή Κατηχήσεις Αγίου Κυρίλλου. Ομιλία αριθμός 17 που έγινε στις 25/04/1983. Απομαγνητοφώνηση Φαίη για το ιστολόγιο ΑΒΕΡΩΦ [από 20:45 έως τέλος]

HT: http://aktines.blogspot.com.cy/2017/11/1.html#more

<![CDATA[VIRTUES & VICES: Nuturing Orthodox Christian Virtues in Everyday Life – Upcoming Lectures in Hamilton, Ontario, December 2, 2017]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/virtues-and-vices-nuturing-orthodox-christian-virtues-in-everyday-life https://orthodoxethos.com/post/virtues-and-vices-nuturing-orthodox-christian-virtues-in-everyday-life <![CDATA[Cultural Marxism and Public Orthodoxy – Fr. John Whiteford]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/cultural-marxism-and-public-orthodoxy https://orthodoxethos.com/post/cultural-marxism-and-public-orthodoxy One could make a career of responding to all of the nonsense that "Public Orthodoxy" spews on a regular basis.

Recently, Ashley Purpura has made the unlikely argument that the services of the Church somehow promote gender fluidity, in her [dare I presume her binary gender?] article: "Beyond the Binary: Hymnographic Constructions of Orthodox Gender,"which begins with the manifestly ridiculous assertion:

"Much like gender itself, Orthodox understandings of gender span a spectrum of diverse views."
Of course, anyone with any concern for the truth who actually knows anything about the Orthodox Church knows that this is not even slightly true. There is not the most microbial fragment of a basis for such an absurd claim. Not even the remotest hint of such a microbial fragment....

Bolsheviks pause to take a group photo after looting a Church

But how does this presumably intelligent and educated woman come to make such a baseless statement? One has to be extremely mal-educated to ignore all of the evidence to the contrary of her thesis.

To provide the thinest of a veneer of something like evidence, she argues that there are hymns that celebrate the bravery and endurance of certain women martyrs that speak of their "manly" courage. And so we have to assume that Orthodox monks, who for the most part are the authors of such hymns, secretly wished to promote gender fluidity.

What other evidence does she cite? Well, in our hymns, male chanters sometimes read hymns that speak in the voice of women characters. For example, at the feast of the Annunciation, at the canon, there is a dialogue between the Archangel Gabriel and the the Virgin Mary, and so the fact that a man would read this canon is somehow an example of "gender-bending." By this logic, no one could ever read the Bible aloud without falling into "gender-bending" at some point, since they will inevitably speak words that were spoken by members of the opposite sex.

And so we are supposed to conclude that centuries before anyone ever knew that gender-bending was a thing, the hymns of the Church expressed a widely diverse perspective on gender, and embraced the notion that gender is "fluid"

But then Ms. Purpura asks how it is that the hymns of the Church could embrace gender fluidity when "so much elsewhere in the tradition... reinforces gender expression exclusively along an essentialized binary". Of course the simple solution to this concocted problem is to come to the reasonable, and historically defensible conclusion that Ms. Purpura's starting premise is nonsense, and then no such problem exists.

But the most perplexing question here is how it is possible for someone who is educated and intelligent to come to a conclusion that is so obviously lacking in any actual basis in history or evidence? Well, if we look at her bio at Purdue University, we find the answer. There we find that she

"...reevaluates Byzantine constructions of ecclesiastical hierarchy in light of critical theory...."
What does that mean? That means she uses a Marxist approach on the material she studies. See the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Critical Theory:
Critical Theory seeks to analyze what it studies in terms of Marxist theories of class struggle, and to identify who the oppressors are, and who are the oppressed in any given context, and to interpret their subject matter in ways that liberate the oppressed. So you see, Ms. Purpura most likely does not really believe that centuries of Orthodox monks have been promoting ideas of gender fluidity, but the LGBTQWXYZ community today is (in her view) "oppressed" by ""cisgendered" Orthodox, and so if she can "reinterpret" Orthodox hymnody in a way that helps to liberate the oppressed, it doesn't really matter what the actual truth is, it only matters that the oppressed are liberated from their oppressors.

And all of this is designed simply to overturn the existing order, in order to pave the way for something new. Never mind that the history of Marxism, when put into practice has resulted in the worst slaughter and misery the human race has ever seen. Truth doesn't matter, because, they hope that just maybe... despite all human experience up until now, the next attempts at a Marxist utopia will work in practice as well as its devotees think it works in theory.

One has to wonder, at what point does Archbishop Demetrios in particular and the Greek Archdiocese in general, become bothered by their close association with the so-called "Orthodox Christian Studies Center" at Fordham University, which so consistently promotes the LGBTQWXYZ agenda, not to mention pretty much everything else they publish contrary to actual Orthodox Christian teaching.

Update: In the fuller version of the article, which is referenced at the end, and found here:


We find the following statement which crosses the line into outright blasphemy:

"Despite stemming from a Byzantine tradition that sanctifies a literary corpus of transvestite or andromimetic nuns, homoerotic mystical imagery, and a patristic tradition of resolving gender division on the path to salvation, present-day Orthodox Christianity through its official and public hierarchical channels maintains a gender binary and the cisgender performance of that binary as normative and spiritually necessary" (p. 528).
When she speaks of "transvestite or andromimetic nuns" she is referring to nuns like St. Theodora of Alexandria, who was a married woman who fell into adultery, and in repentance decided to become a nun, but because she feared that he husband would find her, chose to dress as a man and go to a monastery, where her husband would never think to look. She was later falsely accused of having fathered an illegitimate child, and she did not defend herself, endured the shame, and raised the child herself. Her innocence was only discovered at her death (see her life for more). Such examples are unusual, but exceptional cases due to circumstances, and the Church commemorates her as a woman, not as a man, and certainly not as a gender fluid person of some other non-binary category. To use such examples to promote the acceptance of homosexuality or transsexualism is ridiculous. The suggestion that the services are full of homoerotic imagery is both perverse and blasphemous. The farthest thing from the minds of the hymnographers of the Church would have been anything remotely supportive of the homosexual or gender-queer agenda.

For more information, see:

<![CDATA[[VIDEO] Liturgical Chaos and Insanity Imported into the Ukraine EX OCCIDENTE – The Chasm Continues to Widen Between Orthodoxy and Catholicism]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/video-liturgical-chaos-and-insanity-imported-into-the-ukraine-ex-occidente https://orthodoxethos.com/post/video-liturgical-chaos-and-insanity-imported-into-the-ukraine-ex-occidente

Fascinating video of the major contrast between the Orthodox Church and "Eastern Rite" and Latin Rite Catholicism in the Ukraine

Video by Union of Orthodox Journalists

<![CDATA[The Work of an Orthodox Seminary: Forming Mystagogues of the Mystery of Christ [VIDEO] – Archpriest Peter Heers, Professor of Holy Scripture, Holy Trinity Seminary, Jordanville, NY]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-work-of-an-orthodox-seminary-forming-mystagogues-of-the-mystery-of-christ-video https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-work-of-an-orthodox-seminary-forming-mystagogues-of-the-mystery-of-christ-video Lecture on the Patronal Feast of Holy Trinity Seminary, January 30/February 12, 2017

Related: Text of Lecture

<![CDATA[A Brief Word on Halloween (as to whether you ought to participate or not) – Bishop Irenei of Sacramento]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/a-brief-word-on-halloween-as-to-whether-you-ought-to-participate-or-not https://orthodoxethos.com/post/a-brief-word-on-halloween-as-to-whether-you-ought-to-participate-or-not

From a letter of Archimandrite Irenei to a mother and father (2012):

My dear N— and A—,

You are Orthodox parents raising Orthodox children in the loving embrace of the Church, and you have asked an important question relating to the cultural “celebrations” surrounding what has come to be known as “Halloween”. Let us start by saying, then, that you must put out of your mind these thoughts about “going with the culture” and permitting your children to take part in such customs “so that they won’t feel out of place with their friends.” Where secular people may feel they have the option to divorce the spiritual realm from the physical and do one thing with their bodies while believing another in their minds, we Christian people do not. We know that the actions of our bodies, and the things we do with our lives, affect our hearts and are directly connected to spiritual realms of which we are, on account of our weakness, not always immediately aware. Can you honestly think—you who gaze at and touch the holy icons in your home and in our temples, and know that the saints are present with you, and that you are drawn into their holy lives—that to be willingly surrounded by images of the demons (however childish and infantile their representation) will not also affect your heart, and your children’s hearts, and draw them closer to powers that none would call holy? And not just to gaze upon such images, but to fashion them into clothes and costumes and wear them on one’s body?

Some will say, “Ah, but it is only a bit of fun, these days. It’s just fancy dress. No one believes in these things!” But tell me, do you think the devil is so foolish that he does not see the opportunity that comes from something being perceived as “just fun and games”? Do you believe he does not understand that such circumstances cause us to let down our guard, to tease and toy with the very ideas of demons and spiritual darkness? That he does not rejoice precisely because such images become things of play, and therefore things that we do not guard against when the play is done? Yet others will say, “But it is not all macabre: children trick-or-treat in costumes of angels, of cartoon characters, of animals.” But this is to fail to see the point, that it is the very admixture of these two things—the playful and the demonic—that does such damage to the soul. The Scriptures say, What concord hath Christ with Belial? (2 Cor. 6.15), and yet modern man feels perfectly comfortable to join the demons to teddy-bears and unicorns; to mix the sinister with the trivial. This is because he has lost the sense of how powerfully our idle “play” affects the inner disposition of the heart. We think that if we don’t take something “seriously”, it cannot seriously affect us—but look how much woe and despair there is in the world, as the result of this delusion!

No, it is time to stand fast against this ridiculous trend. God has given you children; and now, in this very dilemma you are feeling in your heart, He is asking you how you will look after them. Will you, for the sake of “social norms”, start them at so precious and tender an age down the path of considering the spiritual world a realm of partying and jest, toying with images of evil as if they were of no consequence? Or will you spend this night teaching them of the joy of the spiritual life as it really is? “Halloween” (18th / 31st October) coincides with the eve of the feast day of our beloved pastor and illumined Father in the faith, St John of Kronstadt; and it is also the feast day of the pious virgin St. Frideswide of Oxford. Look, how God has planted for you two spiritual trees that can bear fruit in your family’s life on this very night. Take your children to the Divine Services; encourage them precisely in the fact of doing something that others are neglecting—that while the world outside plays about in the frivolities of delusion and mixes demons with daydreams, you will enter into the Holy Temple where the God of all spirits dwells, to receive the Holy Spirit and be joined into a life that turned a parish priest into a clairvoyant miracle worker and a meek young woman into a wonder-working healer! And teach your children that He longs to do the same for them, that He desires to make of them great saints whom the whole world will know, if only they, and you, will let Him.

May God give you strength to stand steadfast with joy amidst these worldly trials! May He bless you, and bless your children.

Archimandrite Irenei (Steenburg), now Bishop of Sacramento (ROCOR)

<![CDATA[Why Americans Need An All-English Liturgy – by Robert Arakaki (Reprinted from Journey to Orthodoxy)]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/why-americans-need-an-all-english-liturgy https://orthodoxethos.com/post/why-americans-need-an-all-english-liturgy A note from the editor of OE:

The following article was brought to my attention today, although it is actually several years old. Although with some minor reservations (for example, I don't recommend the NIV translation of Holy Scripture), I recommend it to the readers of Orthodox Ethos. One of the lines that caught my attention and "propelled" me to re-post the article is the following:

"mixed language worship is an innovation that has no precedence in the history of Orthodoxy."

To my knowledge, this is correct and its pervasiveness in North America makes it conspicuously problematic. The examples we have of how saints dealt with the presence of many ethnicities in one parish or monastery do not, with perhaps one or two exceptions,* seem to point to a mixed language solution.

For example, St. Savas the Sanctified at his Lavra near Jerusalem had groups of monks which were Greek, Armenian and Syrian. The saint did not collect them all in the catholicon of the monastery for one mixed language Divine Liturgy. Rather, he gave each group their own chapel and had several Divine Services occurring at the same time.

Likewise, when monks from Georgia came to become the disciples of St. Symeon the Stylite, the saint did not strive to teach them Greek or require them to learn Greek, for purposes of inculturation, but established them in their own church with Divine Services in their own language.

To be sure, there is a serious problem today that many converts are not obtaining the Orthodox ethos and are not making progress in the spiritual life. In 2012, when I came to the U.S. from Greece to give a series of lectures on the life of St. Paisios the Athonite, I was struck by the zealous Americans who approached me and spoke with me. They were such sincere souls looking to go deeper into Orthodoxy but clearly their whole "way" and manner, their "ethos," was not an expression of their newfound Orthodox Faith but the heterodox ethos they were struggling to put off. It was a rather jarring experience and almost surreal to speak to them as they exhuded the popular culture around them, which does not value the virtues of modesty or spiritual nobility, but spoke with enthusiasm for the monastic ideals and the asceticism exemplified in the life of the newly glorified Athonite.

Becoming Orthodox does not simply mean adopting the Dogmas or Truth of the Church/Christ, but also the ethos or Way of the Church/Christ. Indeed, the boundaries of the Church, which are demarcated, in part, by the Dogmas of the Church, should not be confused with the Life of the Church/Christ. They were laid down by the Fathers so that within them one could then live the Life of Christ. We pass through these boundaries in order to enter into the Life of Christ preserved and thriving within. We adopted the Confession of Faith of the Orthodox in order to then go deeper in faith/trust in Christ.

Having said this, the question is then: Is language a necessary element for the acquiring of the Orthodox ethos? Does one need to learn Greek or Slavonic in order to assimilate the Way of Christ? I have heard many argue that it is necessary in order to acquire an Orthodox culture (which is debatable), but what about an Orthodox ethos (for the two are not identical)?

For example, some say that to really encounter the ethos of Dostoyevsky one needs to read him in Russian. And, yet, who has not met or heard of someone reading him in translation and being so inspired as to search out the Church and eventually convert? Apparently, the genius of Dostoyevsky and his Orthodox ethos was still communicable in translation. This is not to say that the process of going deeper and making progress in putting off the old man and his "way" or "ethos" is not long and arduous! It is, or often can be, depending upon the person's investment in the way of this world. However, it is to say, rather, that the acquisition of the Spirit of God is not bound by the boundaries of culture or language when one has entered into the boundaries of the Church. However, ironically and tragically, the use of a language other than that of the people where the Church is found may be an obstacle to this initiation - to even beginning this acquisition of the ethos of the Church/the way of Christ. And the Church, which is all about salvation and regeneration in Christ, could never countenance erecting walls or perpetuating obstacles to Her own mission.

But to return to the question of mixed language Divine Services: they are not the solution, but a half-way measure which pleases no one fully. And, moreover, pastoral oikonomia notwithstanding,* they do not have the endorsement of the Saints, who are the Church's ultimate "magisterium" or "higher ecclesiastical authority." Beyond lacking much precedence and being a stop-gap measure, mixed language services are also not beautiful. Dividing up the Liturgy and interrupting the flow and rhythm, mixed-language liturgies lack wholeness and unity, which are integral to beauty. (This is not to say that the various aspects of a mixed-language liturgical service or the execution of them cannot be beautiful; only that the mix of language detracts from the overall integrity and beauty.)

I pass on this article to our readers knowing that for some it will be as honey to their lips and for others as bitter medicine. Such is the lot of the Church in a mixed missiondiaspora new world.

~ Fr. Peter Heers

*Twentieth-century percularities, created by mass emigration and sudden upheavals, have forced some contemporary elders and hierarchs to improvise and allow for mixed-language liturgical life, even though this is recognized as not the ideal, nor a permanent solution. Perhaps the most striking example of this is the Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex England which conducts divine services in several languages, including English, Slavonic and Greek.

- - - -

In 2007, Christianity Today published an article, “Will the Twenty First Century be the Orthodox Century?“ In it Bradley Nassif argued that Orthodoxy will indeed grow and expand in this coming century. But in an Again Magazine article, “The Orthodox Christian Opportunity,” Nassif noted although many people are converting to Orthodoxy, significant numbers of these converts are also leaving through the backdoor discouraged and disenchanted. Much of the reasons for their disenchantment lie not with the Orthodox Faith per se, but with the realities of Orthodox parishes. Nassif refers to this problem as Orthodoxy’s backdoor.

One of the major obstacles to the twenty first century becoming the Orthodox century is the language barrier. In many American Orthodox parishes the Sunday Liturgy is either in a foreign language or a mixture of English and non-English. Orthodox parishes with an all-English Liturgy tend to be in the minority. This blog posting addresses why we need all-English worship services, what can be done about the present problem of people exiting through the backdoor, and how we can help make the twenty first century the Orthodox century.

The Liturgy as the Front Door

The Liturgy is Orthodoxy’s front door. It is often the first place where people encounter Orthodoxy. There they see Orthodoxy in action: people worshiping the Holy Trinity. The Liturgy is also essential for becoming Orthodox. One cannot become Orthodox just by reading Orthodox books or visiting Orthodox blogs, one becomes Orthodox through participation in the right worship of the Holy Trinity.

However, people sometimes find Orthodoxy’s front door blocked when they attend a worship service where the Liturgy is done in a foreign language. Many visitors walk out after hearing nothing but Greek for the first few minutes of the Liturgy. It can be a painful experience. Many feel excluded, bewildered, and lost.

Linguistic zigzags — where the priest prays in English and the choir responds in non-English — are not uncommon in many ethnic parishes. For the unwary worshiper, it is like driving along on a smooth asphalt road then all of a sudden hitting a pothole. This can lead to a jarring, frustrating, and tiring worship experience. What should be a meaningful worship encounter with God becomes more like a tutorial in Greek, Slavonic, Serbian, Arabic, etc. Even several years after becoming Orthodox, many converts find themselves struggling with the Liturgy in a foreign language. People lose their place in the order of the Liturgy. It is not realistic to expect all converts to adjust to the Liturgy not being completely in English; some can make the adjustment, but many cannot. Continuous exposure to the Liturgy in a foreign language does not necessarily make it easier over time. As a result converts often find the Liturgy more a burden than a delight. And so converts are becoming frustrated and some are dropping out. These are not conditions conducive for spiritual growth.

Worship in the vernacular is the long-standing Tradition of Orthodoxy. This liturgical principle is rooted in the miracle of Pentecost. On that day the Christians spoke in tongues to a international gathering who were astonished to

“hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11, NIV; italics added)

The Apostle Paul emphasized the importance of worship engaging our understanding. He wrote:

“But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” (I Corinthians 14:19, NIV)

Orthodox Missionary Practice

The history of Orthodox missions is full of examples of the use of the vernacular. A prominent example is Saints Kyril and Methodios translating the Liturgy into Slavonic. Another example is Saint Nicholas of Japan laboring many years to master the Japanese language before translating the Liturgy into Japanese. A third example is Saint Innocent of Alaska who translated the Gospels into the Aleut language. Non-vernacular worship — so widespread in America — represents a departure from historic Orthodoxy. Thus, it is an innovation inconsistent with Holy Tradition. This innovation arose more from circumstance than deliberate choice. What was the vernacular for the first generation immigrants later became an incomprehensible language for the second and third generations, and for converts from another ethnic background. An innovation that arose from inaction requires deliberate action to bring the church back into conformity with Tradition.

Let Us Be Attentive!

The word “liturgy” means “the work of the people.” But the people can’t do their job of worshiping God effectively if the language is not their own. We are called to love God with all our mind (Mark 12:30) but worship in a foreign language gets in the way of our being able to worship God intelligently. Rather than assisting in worship, the non-vernacular hinders us.

One reason why the Liturgy should be entirely in English is Orthodoxy expects its members to be fully attentive in their worship. On several occasions during the Liturgy, the priest will call out: “Let us be attentive!” But if peoples’ minds start to drift when the priest switches to Greek (or some other foreign language), they are not really being attentive to the Liturgy. The problem is not with the worshiper, but the fact most people find it difficult to worship in an unfamiliar language.

Another reason for an all-English Liturgy is the Apostle Paul’s insistence that worship be in a language understandable to the listener. He wrote:

“Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.” (I Corinthians 14:9, NIV)

The danger here is that the Liturgy will turn into empty worship — something that the Old Testament prophets and Jesus denounced in no uncertain terms:

“These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8-9, NIV)

The Liturgy as Catechism

The Liturgy constitutes an ongoing catechism for Orthodox Christians. It continually reminds us of the fundamental doctrines of Orthodoxy. When understood, the Liturgy has a profound impact on our faith and worship. But, is not the Liturgy’s power to shape our thinking weakened by it being sung in an incomprehensible tongue? A danger of non-vernacular worship is parishioners can become so focused on phonetically reproducing the Liturgy they barely pay attention to the great truths being proclaimed in the Liturgy. If it is shrouded in language that is not comprehended, then the Liturgy will become an ethnic rite having little power to challenge us to live holy lives for God.

I visited a number of Orthodox services while I was at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, but they were mostly in Greek. It was not until I came to Berkeley and attended the all-English Liturgy at Saints Kyril and Methodios Bulgarian Orthodox Church that I was able to connect with the Liturgy and that the Liturgy began to reshape my theology and spirituality. It was the two years of hearing the Liturgy there that laid the foundation for my becoming Orthodox.

In addition to teaching us what the Church believes, the Liturgy also protects us from heresy. However, if the Liturgy is sung in a language poorly understood, its catechetical function is compromised. A priest once discovered a parishioner did not really believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary. He pointed to one of the antiphons which is sung every Sunday, “Only Begotten” (Monogenes), which affirms Mary’s perpetual virginity. However, the parishioner never got the point because in that parish the antiphon was normally sung in Greek, not in English. In the long run, a non-comprehended Liturgy makes Orthodoxy vulnerable to heterodoxy and nominalism among the laity, not to mention people dropping out of the Church altogether. Orthodox laity whose grasp of Orthodox doctrine is weak or hazy will not be able to defend their Orthodox beliefs, nor will they be able to effectively live out their Orthodox convictions.

Ethnic Parishes

Many Orthodox parishes in America today are what can be considered ethnic parishes. They were founded by immigrants and continue to be under the care of hierarchs in the old country. The ethnic parish preserves the old country’s culture through the following means: (1) the language used in the Sunday Liturgy, (2) the food served on special occasions, (3) ethnic festivals and holidays, and (4) language classes. Ethnic parishes tend to diligently celebrate the lives of their ethnic saints while hardly making mention of American Orthodox saints.

Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese observed:

We consider ourselves Americans, and we are proud of it —except when we go to church, we suddenly become Greeks, Russians, Arabs, and Albanians.
(Again Magazine vol. 28 no. 2, p. 5)

Ethnic parishes are an important part of Orthodoxy in America. It is in large part because of Orthodox immigrants who founded Orthodox parishes that Orthodoxy has such a widespread presence in American society today. Yet it is not realistic to expect that ethnic parishes are capable of evangelizing America. Orthodoxy is growing in America, but much of this growth is due to the planting of Orthodox parishes with all-English Liturgies. Ethnic parishes are not built that way; they are primarily suited to preserving the language, customs, and holidays of the old country. As such, they are designed for the first generation immigrants and their descendants, but not for American converts.

The term “old country” is not a pejorative term (as some might think) but a term accepted and used by social scientists, especially in the emergent field of postcolonial studies. Robin Cohen in Global Diasporas: An Introductiondescribed “diasporic communities” as a community who live in one country while acknowledging that the “old country” has some claim on their loyalty and emotions (p. ix) and exerts a powerful influence on their social identity. Ties between the diasporic community and the “old country” can be especially intense in cases like the Greek-American community. In the Report to His Eminence ARCHBISHOP IAKOVOS (1990) it was noted that Greek-Americans are understood to be viewed either as an extension of the Greek homeland(homogenia) or as entrants and then participants in American history (p. 22; emphasis added).

Ethnic identity becomes even more complicated and fraught when a diasporic community shares the same social space, e.g., a local church, with Americans for whom the US is the only homeland they know of. This is what happens when an ethnic parish finds a growing presence of mainstream Americans joining them. They are confused that people would want to join the parish just because they want to be Orthodox. Many Americans want to become Orthodox, but very few want to assimilate into an ethnic parish and learn a foreign language and abide by foreign customs of the old country. To compel others to assimilate into a culture is contrary to the Orthodox tradition of missions and can even lead to cultural imperialism.

Jesus’ parable of the need to pour new wine into new wineskins and the foolishness of pouring new wine into old wineskins (Mark 2:22) applies to the present situation. Ethnic parishes are not well suited to meet the needs of converts from the outside. They can handle small numbers of converts, but if the numbers of converts become more than a trickle then the ethnic core can start to feel threatened resulting in a backlash. They will fear that the new members will undermine the ethnic identity of their parish, especially if the newcomers want more English in the Sunday worship.

There is no question that people have come to Orthodoxy via ethnic parishes, but their numbers are such that the long term impact will be minimal. If America is to embrace Orthodoxy, this trickle of converts will need to become a broad stream of converts. Ethnic parishes throw an unnecessary hurdle for non-ethnic for the above reasons. When it comes to evangelism ethnic parishes are like the eagle which is well suited for soaring in the sky, but unlike the duck is not well suited for life along the lake. In short, ethnic parishes are not set up for effective evangelism.

If Orthodoxy is to effectively evangelize America, an all-English Liturgy is essential. Orthodoxy’s future in America depends on the availability of an all-English Liturgy to ordinary Americans. The vast majority of Americans are monolingual English speakers. They are not comfortable with worshiping in a foreign language; nor will they be interested in shedding their American identity at the church entrance on Sunday morning. See my article on the three waves of Orthodoxy in America.

Changing Ethnic Parishes?

Can ethnic parishes be moved towards all-English liturgies? For the most part, I don’t think so. I’ve heard priests tell me they are gradually moving towards more English in the Liturgy, but what I have seen has been more of a back and forth movement in which very little change is made in the long run. Many parish priests are caught in a difficult situation of holding together a diverse parish community. While they personally may favor an all-English Liturgy, they also need to accommodate the needs and concerns of the longtime members (many of whom contribute substantially to the priest’s salary). It is a good idea to tell your parish priest you want an all-English Liturgy, but my advice is not to expect much to happen. Furthermore, it should be kept in mind that ultimately it is the bishop who has the final say over the language used in the parish’s Sunday worship.

There are Orthodox hierarchs who have called for the

“preservation and promotion of our Hellenic ethos and tradition.”

Thus, ethnic Orthodox parishes are more than the result of circumstances, rather they have their roots in the priorities and policies of both local parishes and the hierarchy. Those of us who desire all-English Liturgies need to respect their understanding of Orthodox missions and work actively with Orthodox jurisdictions that support all-English Liturgies and the evangelization of America.

Pan-Orthodox Parishes?

Pan-Orthodox parishes represent a different kind of missions strategy. Where there is not a large enough immigrant community to form an ethnic parish, one finds various ethnic groups cobbled together to form a single parish. In these parishes one can find the Lord’s Prayer in Greek, Slavonic, Serbian, Arabic, as well as English. The underlying premise of pan-Orthodox parishes seems to be that we should all hold on to the culture and languages of the old country, even though we’re all Americans, and our children are Americans, and most of us have no intention of moving back to the old country. The problem with pan-Orthodox parishes is they hold little appeal for many Americans. Pan-Orthodox parishes resemble the synthetic culture of the United Nations than real cultures that people inhabit. Because the culture of pan-Orthodox parishes are alien to mainstream American society, they are not capable of effective evangelism.

Pan-Orthodox parishes are like ethnic parishes in their retrospective focus on the old country. They therefore share all the problems mentioned above in regards to ethnic parishes. People without doubt will join these parishes but in the long run such parishes will exert only a minimal influence on the city or area they live in.

Dual Track Strategy

If we are to bring America to Orthodoxy then we need a dual-track approach. We need Orthodox parishes with all-English worship services, and we need ethnic Orthodox parishes whose ethos and language reflects that of the old country.

The dual track strategy is as old as the book of Acts. In the beginning of Acts, we read how multitudes of people converted to Christianity. But what is often overlooked is the fact that this movement was taking place among the Hebrew speaking Jews of Palestine. When we come to the sixth chapter, tension was growing between the Hebrew speaking Jews and the Greek speaking Jews. Communication difficulties led to many Greek speaking widows being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. Unlike the Jews who were fluent in Hebrew, the Hellenistic Jews’ mother tongue was Greek. The root of the problem lay not in sinful attitudes, but in honest linguistic and cultural differences. The problem was resolved by the creation of a dual track or bicultural leadership structure. The Apostles who were ethnically Palestinian Jews appointed Greek speaking Jews to the diaconate. This is evident by the prevalence of non-Jewish names: Stephen, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, and Parmenas (Acts 6:5). Also noteworthy is the fact that one of them, Nicolas, was a Gentile who converted to Judaism. The result was that

“the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly.” (Acts 6:7)

Precedence for the dual track strategy can be found in the Antiochian Archdiocese allowing for both the Byzantine rite and the Western rite. A parish can elect to use one or the other but not both. This policy makes much sense and is practical. It also gives a parish liturgical stability. I would suggest that each parish be given the option of worshiping either in English or in the language of the old country, but not both. As noted earlier, mixed language worship is an innovation that has no precedence in the history of Orthodoxy.

Orthodoxy can learn something from the experience of the Japanese American churches. They encouraged their children to learn English, and they gave strong support for English services. Where the older isseis (first generation) worshiped in Japanese, the younger nisseis (second generation) and sanseis (third generation) met in a separate service to worship in English. In other words, what looked from the outside like a single parish, was in actuality a dual-track parish. This missions strategy allowed the Japanese American churches to preserve church unity in the face of inter generational differences and avoid large numbers of youths dropping out for lack of interest.

Under the dual track strategy, the parish will have a main sanctuary for the English-speaking congregation and a side chapel for the ethnic congregation. This is needed to follow the rubric that only one Eucharist be celebrated per day. This means that a dual-track Orthodox parish will need to have at least two priests assigned to the parish to celebrate the Eucharist. This calls for a deliberate longterm missions strategy fully supported by the bishop of that city. If successful, we will see a network of dozens Orthodox parishes in each major city. Some parishes will worship in the language of the old country, but the majority of the parishes will worship in English. In this twenty first century diocese, Orthodoxy’s ethnic diversity is affirmed without any blurring of ethnic identity. This arrangement will reflect not just America’s growing cultural diversity, but also the catholicity of the Orthodox Church.

People might object that liturgical rubrics call for only one Eucharist to be celebrated in a parish per day and that the dual-track strategy being proposed is contrary to the established rubrics. My response is that what is being called for is an oikonomia or pastoral dispensation in light of unusual circumstances. It should be noted that we already have a de facto oikonomia given the widespread tolerance of two violations of Orthodox canon law:

(1) multiple bishops in the same city, and

(2) the widespread usage of non-vernacular in the Liturgy.

The dual track strategy should be seen as an oikonomia, a temporary measure, until we have an American Orthodox Church. What is presented here is more of a suggestion to get a discussion going. The Orthodox community, both laity and clergy, need to have an open and frank discussion about how Orthodoxy can deal with the serious problem of the non-vernacular Liturgy.

Antiochian Breakthrough

In The Bridges of God, Donald McGavran, former professor of missions at Fuller Seminary, observe there are two approaches to missions: the mission station approach and the people movement approach. The mission station approach tends to be static with the mission station serving as the religious and cultural center for a group of expatriates and their converts. The people movement approach is dynamic with multitudes becoming Christians. The difference lies in their long term focus. Where the mission station is content with establishing a beachhead presence in a country, the people movement approach seeks to move inland to where the vast majority live. Orthodoxy today is situated in an awkward in-between situation. Thanks to the immigrants who founded ethnic parishes, Orthodoxy has a beachhead presence in every major American city. At the same time, Orthodoxy has barely moved inland where the vast majority live.

In the book of Acts we see the tension between the mission station approach and the people movement approach. In the opening chapters of Acts we read how thousands accepted Jesus as the Messiah. The early Christian movement was largely Jewish in makeup and centered in Jerusalem. This is characteristic of the mission station approach. Although we read of Gentiles becoming Christians in the early chapters of Acts (e.g., the Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius the Centurion), these conversions represent little pockets of converts that lay on the margins of their culture. Christianity did not become a broad people movement until the Antiochian breakthrough.

Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. (Acts 11:19-21, NIV; italics added)

What is notable about this passage is that some spoke “only to the Jews.” Although the persecution dispersed Christians geographically, much of the communication of the Gospel flowed within the confines of Jewish culture. It was not until Antioch that some spoke the Christian message “to Greeks also,” that is, to the non-Jews that the long standing cultural barrier was breached; Christianity became a broad multicultural movement and the evangelization of the Roman Empire began in earnest.

Opening the Door to the Future

Business as usual cannot continue. Orthodoxy in America needs to restructure and retool itself if we are to effectively evangelize American society. One important (if not essential) way of retooling is to encourage and support all-English Orthodox services across America. If we have the Liturgy in English, people will come and they will stay. There is a growing spiritual hunger in America, and we can help these spiritually hungry people discover Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and Life. By committing ourselves to all-English services, Orthodoxy will be opening the front door and closing the back door.

Having an Antiochian breakthrough in twenty first century American society will require brave men and women who will sacrificially commit themselves to starting Orthodox missions in areas where there are no Orthodox parishes or where there are language barriers. The aim here is to have all-English Orthodox parishes across the country within reasonable driving distance. Two particular jurisdictions have been notable for their willingness to engage in starting up new missions:

Interested readers are encouraged to contact these offices and inquire about opportunities for starting up an all-English Orthodox parish in their area.

It is also important that we not seek to change ethnic parishes. Attempting to do so is likely to be met with stiff resistance, while wasting precious time and energies. Rather than complain about the difficulties of non-English services, the better approach is to have a positive attitude and to take positive steps like helping to start all-English Orthodox missions. It is also important that mainstream Americans be supportive of ethnic Orthodox who wish to affirm their ethnic heritage. Ethnic Orthodox Christians have a rich cultural heritage that has been shaped by the Orthodox ethos over many generations. This is something many modern Americans lack. I once asked an Orthodox friend how he understood his ethnic heritage, all he could say was that he was a “mutt” — a hybrid of Scot, Irish, English, German and what have you — and that his ethnicity is “American.” We need to regard each other with respect and charity.

Twelve Reasons

Here are twelve reasons Orthodoxy in America need an all-English Liturgy:

  • Liturgy in the vernacular is part of Holy Tradition;
  • Scripture teaches the importance of intelligible worship (Acts 2:11, I Corinthians 14:19);
  • Scripture teaches the priority of loving God with our mind (Mark 12:30);
  • The Liturgy means “the work of the people” and the use of incomprehensible non-vernacular languages hinders people from doing their work of worshiping God;
  • The use of the non-vernacular impairs the Liturgy’s function of educating worshipers in fundamental Orthodox doctrines;
  • The use of non-English met the needs of the first generation immigrants but is ill-suited for the needs of second and third generations, and mainstream Americans;
  • Compromise solutions like pan-Orthodox parishes have in many instances failed to work;
  • The use of the non-vernacular have caused visitors to walk out;
  • The use of the non-vernacular have frustrated converts and caused some to become discouraged and drop out of church life;
  • The use of the non-vernacular combined with a parish identity centered around a particular ethnicity have caused many converts to feel like outsiders;
  • The use of the non-vernacular is contrary to Orthodox missionary practice; and
  • The use of the non-vernacular is a major impediment to the evangelization of American society.

Orthodoxy in 2100?

As we stand at the start of the twenty first century, we need to ask ourselves what our vision is for Orthodoxy in America. If we maintain the present course, what will Orthodoxy in America look like in the year 2100? Will there be the same small number of ethnic Orthodox parishes (maybe a little bigger) or will there be dozens of Orthodox parishes all over our city and people coming to Orthodoxy by droves? This is beginning to happen. The May 2007 edition of The Word reported that twenty-five catechumens were received into the Orthodox Church at St. Barnabas, Costa Mesa, CA. If we pass up this challenge, American Orthodoxy could end up an obscure religious curiosity. The present interest in Orthodoxy represents both an opportunity and a challenge for Orthodox laity, clergy, and hierarchy. If we rise up to the challenge, we can expect to see unprecedented growth and vitality for American Orthodoxy, and the twenty first century will be on its way to becoming the Orthodox century.


<![CDATA[On the Cessation of Commemoration of Bishops Preaching Heresy (A) – Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis, Professor Emeritus of Patrology, Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/on-the-cessation-of-commemoration-a https://orthodoxethos.com/post/on-the-cessation-of-commemoration-a Fr. Theodore Zisis introduces audiences to the oft-misunderstood Canon 15 of the 1st-2nd Council (861) of Constantinople and the canonical practice of ceasing the commemoration of bishops who have fallen into heresies condemned either by councils or by the consensus of the Holy Fathers.

The historic statements of hierarchs in Greece (Ambrose of Eleftheropolis and Avgoustinos of Florina) who ceased commemoration of Patriarch Athenagoras in 1970 are read in full, as well.

This lecture was delivered at the beginning of 2017 at parish of St. Anthony the Great in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The relevant canons discussed in the lecture:

Canon 13. The All-evil One having planted the seed of heretical tares in the Church of Christ, and seeing these being cut down to the roots with the sword of the Spirit, took a different course of trickery by attempting to divide the body of Christ by means of the madness of the schismatics. But, checking even this plot of his, the holy Council has decreed that henceforth if any Presbyter or Deacon, on the alleged ground that his own bishop has been condemned for certain crimes, before a conciliar or synodal hearing and investigation has been made, should dare to secede from his communion, and fail to mention his name in the sacred prayers of the liturgical services in accordance with the custom handed down in the Church, he shall be subject to prompt deposition from office and shall be stripped of every prelatic honor. For anyone who has been established in the rank of Presbyter and forestalls the Metropolitan’s judgment, and, judging matters before a trial has been held, insofar as lies in his power, condemns his own father and Bishop, he is not even worthy of the honor or name of Presbyter. Those, on the other hand, who go along with him, in case any of them should be among those in holy orders, they too shall forfeit their own rights to honor, or, in case they should be monks or laymen, let them be utterly excommunicated from the Church until such time as they spew upon and openly renounce all connection with the schismatics and decide to return to their own Bishop.
(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXI, XXXIV of the 6th; cc. XII, XIV, XV of the lst-and-2nd; c. V of Antioch; c. VI of Gangra; cc. X, XI, LX of Carthage.)

Canon 14. If any Bishop, on the allegation that charges of crime lie against his own Metropolitan, shall secede or apostatize from him before a conciliar or synodal verdict has been issued against him, and shall abstain from communion with him, and fail to mention his name, in accordance with consuetude, in the course of the divine mystagogy (i.e., litrugical celebration of the Eucharistic mystery), the holy Council has decreed that he shall be deposed from office, if merely by seceding from his own Metropolitan he shall create a schism. For everyone ought to know his own bounds, and neither ought a presbyter treat his own bishop scornfully or contemptuously, nor ought a bishop to treat his own Metropolitan so.

(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXI, XXXIV of the 6th; cc. XII, XIII, XV of the lst-and-2nd; c. V of Antioch; c. VI of Gangra; cc. X, XI, LXII of Carthage.

Canon 15. The rules laid down with reference to Presbyters and Bishops and Metro­politans are still more applicable to Patriarchs. So that in case any Presbyter or Bishop or Metropolitan dares to secede or apostatize from the communion of his own Patriarch, and fails to mention the latter’s name in accordance with custom duly fixed and ordained, in the divine Mystagogy, but, before a conciliar verdict has been pronounced and has passed judgment against him, creates a schism, the holy Council has decreed that this person shall be held an alien to every priestly function if only he be convicted of having committed this trans­gression of the law. Accordingly, these rules have been sealed and ordained as respecting those persons who under the pretext of charges against their own presidents stand aloof, and create a schism, and disrupt the union of the Church. But as for those persons, on the other hand, who, on account of some heresy condemned by holy Councils, or Fathers, withdrawing themselves from communion with their president, who, that is to say, is preaching the heresy publicly, and teaching it barehead in church, such persons not only are not subject to any canonical penalty on account of their having walled themselves off from any and all communion with the one called a Bishop before any conciliar or synodal verdict has been rendered, but, on the contrary, they shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honor which befits them among Orthodox Christ­ians. For they have defied, not Bishops, but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers; and they have not sundered the union of the Church with any schism, but, on the contrary, have been sedulous to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions.

(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXI, XXXIV of the 6th; cc. XII, XIII, XIV of the lst-and-2nd; c. V of Antioch; c. VI of Gangra; cc. X, XI, LXII of Carthage.

From: The Canons of the Eastern Orthodox Church

For historical context, read more about Patriarch Photius and the council.

<![CDATA[The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Churches in the First Millenium – ​Protopresbyter Anastasios Gotsopoulos]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-role-of-the-bishop-of-rome-in-the-communion-of-the-churches-in-the-first-millenium https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-role-of-the-bishop-of-rome-in-the-communion-of-the-churches-in-the-first-millenium

The 14th Meeting of the Joint International Committee for the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Dialogue in Chieti, Italy (15-22.9.2016). Were the Western Orthodox Fathers ignored in the committee's search for a common understanding of the role of the Pope in the First Millenium?

FROM THE CAREFUL STUDY OF THE ACTS AND DECISIONS OF THE ECUMENICAL COUNCILS we can define with certainty the place of the Church of Rome and her bishop within the communion of all the local Churches during the era of the Ecumenical Synods:

A. The Church and Bishop of Rome

1. The increased prestige and exceptional honor which was conferred upon the Church of Rome is clear. Consequently the Church also recognized a primacy of honor and as the first see in the order of that which was associated with the exceptional dignity of the Patriarchal Thrones. The reasons are clear: a) It was the Church of “glorious Rome”, the capital of the empire, b) it was active in spiritual life and carried out a pastoral care for the local Churches which surrounded it and c) it was the only city in the Latin west which had received the presence and preaching of the First Leaders of the Choir of the Apostles who had been martyred there and whose tombs were located in Rome.

2. In particular, the Church of Rome could boast of its apostolic lineage from the “leaders of the Apostolic choir” [Sts. Peter and Paul] which came to later be limited to [a lineage from St. Peter alone] and expressed with the term “petrine”. It is necessary to note however that in none of the canons of the Ecumenical Councils is attribution of any dignity or rank of honor to the Church of Rome connected with her apostolic origins which otherwise is considered a given.

3. In the East, the meaning of apostolicity was defined differently and thus acquired a different significance. At the same time, however, the entire Church accepted apostolicity not as the exclusive privilege of Rome, but as something belonging also to the thrones in the East which were accordingly honored with special privileges.

4. The ancient Church —in both the East and the West— had recognized a primacy of honor and dignity; but not a primacy of authority (of superior jurisdiction) over the entire Church. The occasional attempts on the part of Roman agents to add to the pre-eminence of honor a primacy of authority, of “petrine” origin, was not even something undertaken by the majority of the bishops of Rome and it was certainly not the set and constant ecclesiological position of the whole Latin Church of the West during the time of the first [Eight] Ecumenical Councils.

5. Whenever a major issue of faith and ecclesiastical order came to be disputed, every bishop, but even more so the bishop of “glorious Rome”, possessed not only the inalienable right but even had it as a duty incumbent upon him to intervene in the workings of another local Church. This practice was considered completely acceptable during the first eight centuries of Christianity. Indeed, in exceptional circumstances, ecclesiastical unity was not necessarily always preserved by him who possessed the leadership or the throne with seniority of rank, but by the one who in a particular circumstance expressed the true faith; he was considered the possessor of the “primacy of truth”. This is what happened with St. Cyril at the 3rd Ecumenical Synod as well as with St. Leo at the 4th. On the other hand, when the bishop of Rome showed himself unworthy of his episcopal ministry, churches in the East but also in the West could and did sever communion with him.

B. The Bishop of Rome and the Ecumenical Synods

1. The Ecumenical Synods constituted for the ancient Church the crowning moments of her history revealing her unity in the Truth. Similarly, the ancient Church established with the utmost clarity that the highest authority in the Church could not be a single person, but only the Ecumenical Synod, an institution whose decisions demanded universal respect.

2. The power to convoke an Ecumenical Synod belonged exclusively to the emperor who was also responsible to set the agenda. Certainly, it was imperative that he consult with the first-hierarchs of the Churches and most importantly with the bishops of Rome and Constantinople. But the fact that the bishop of Rome was the first see in Christendom gave him no right either to set the agenda of the Council, nor did he possess the power to veto its decisions.

3. At none of the Ecumenical Councils was the reigning pope personally present, but in most cases he was represented by a delegation of clergy. In addition, at none of the Synods did his delegation preside. The fifth Ecumenical Synod has particular significance for the question of the role of Pope of Rome within the communion of the Church since in addition to the question of the Three Chapters, it pronounced [indirectly] on this question [by] condemning Pope Vigilius after his unjustified refusal to meet in council with the other Patriarchs. For the ancient Church in both the East and the West, the pope was subject to synodal judgment and authority in not only matters of faith but also in those regarding the canonical order of the Church.

4. The main role of the bishop of Rome in the Ecumenical Synods as first-throne among the Patriarchs was to formulate in his dogmatic epistle, which in a way operated as the central proposal for the Synod, the Orthodox faith and ecclesiastical tradition regarding the theological controversy at hand, and on the basis of which the synodal discussions were carried out. Consequently, the position of the pope of Rome in the time of the Ecumenical Synods was within the Synods and not above them. Only under the presupposition of his participation in the procedures of the synod was the pope recognized as “head and father and first” of the bishops and patriarchs gathered together; he does not simply make a pronouncement which the others then obey, but “he confers… together with all”.

C. The bishop of Rome in the decisions of the Ecumenical Synods

1. The Church sought by means of the Ecumenical Synods to confront the distortion of the Orthodox faith and the disturbance of ecclesiastical unity produced by heresy. It is obvious that the participation, agreement, and presence of the bishop of Rome and consequently of the Church “until the climes of the ocean” in the synodal decisions was required in order to maintain unity and to prevent the creation of schisms. In this way, when it was successful, the Fathers of the synod would express their joy and enthusiasm with great intensity.

2. The Ecumenical Synod pronounced from a place of absolute authority without depending on the will or decisions of any individual persons. And this practice was universally accepted by the ancient Church of both East and West. Thus decisions were made in the absence of the bishop of Rome or even in spite of his outright opposition. Moreover, even in cases where his suggestions were accepted, they were first examined by the Synod, compared to the ecclesiastical tradition and only when synodal agreement was secured would they be accepted.

The position of the ancient Church has been recorded in an official and categorical manner in the “synodal decree”, the “Horos” of the 5th Ecumenical Synod: “During the common deliberations, the light of truth dissipates the darkness of falsehood, once teach of the things suggested for discussion are placed under judgment. Because in matters of faith, no one has the right to go forward on behalf of the entire Church since all of us have need of our neighbor”. It would be no exaggeration for us to say that the 5th Ecumenical Synod, in the Holy Spirit, foresaw the development of the West and censured dogmatically in an explicit and forthright manner Vatican I’s dogma of papal infallibility. According to the Synod, the pope cannot be infallible, either ex sese or ex consensus Ecclesia.

3. The primacy of the bishop of Rome but similarly the equality of the five Patriarchs is testified to historically by the “stamps of signature” on the synodal decisions. All of the patriarchs as well as the bishop sign stamp or seal and in a unified fashion in agreement with the ranking of honor among the patriarchal Thrones. Certainly, the bishop of Rome signed first as the first-throne of the Ecumene [the empire or civilized world]. The pope never contested that he should be granted a special type of signature.

D. The bishop of Rome and the Sacred Canons

1. The holy Canons as decisions of the Ecumenical Synods reflect as well as formulate the ethos and practice of the Catholic Church. Consequently, disdain for their ecumenical authority and validity is unacceptable.

2. The basic canons which refer to the seniority of honor of the primates of the patriarchal Churches are the 6th and 7th canon of Nicaea I, the 3rd canon of Constantinople I, the 28th canon of Chalcedon and the 36th canon of Constantinople III (Penthekti). The defining canon concerning the position of the bishop of Rome in the ancient Church is the 28th canon of Chalcedon which interprets the 3rd canon of Constantinople I and constitutes the basis for the 36th canon of Constantinople III. The importance of the 28th canon of Chalcedon is guaranteed by its content but also in its means of promulgation a.) Regarding the content: it gives canonical weight to the seniority of rank of Rome, granting to Constantinople “the same rank” as that of Rome, but at the same time, it places under contention the most crucial point upon which the supremacy of the papal throne over against the other patriarchal thrones rests---according to Rome: petrine apostolicity and the granting of petrine authority by divine law over the entire Church. b.) As regards the means of promulgation: The categorical opposition and the intense reaction of Leo the Great in Rome not only did not invalidate this canon, nor did it even take away from its canonical weight, strength, or ecumenical character. This is self-evident in ecclesiastical order since it was unthinkable to the ancient Church that decision of a synod, and especially that of an Ecumenical Synod, could be invalidated by a local Church or by a single person. Not even the pope of Rome was recognized as having the right to approve or reject synodal decisions. On the contrary, he too was obligated to comply.

3. The Roman understanding which pope Leo the Great firmly supported concerning the “petrine” and apostolic character of the Churches of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, and the supposed conferral of an exceptional dignity upon these sees never obtained any canonical foundation nor did it exercise any effect upon the life of the ancient Church. Even in Rome these ideas were never put into practice and were quickly abandoned.

E. The bishop of Rome in the East and West: “The Principle of Unity in Diversity?”

In the official Theological Dialogue of the Orthodox Church and Rome, it has been suggested that the “principle of unity in diversity” can provide a means of overcoming the impasse which the papal dogmas have created. This suggestion, according to its proponents, is based on the decision of the Synod of Constantinople in 879-8801, but as it is currently formulated, it in essence merely carries out the program of the Decree “concerning Ecumenism”2 from the Second Vatican Council3 and seeks the unity of the Churches in spite of differences in dogma. In the other words, the Western Christians will accept their dogma concerning St. Peter and the dogmas of papal primacy and infallibility as they have been formulated by the first and second Vatican Councils, without however demanding their imposition upon the Eastern Church, so that the Orthodox are not required to accept them as long as they do not characterize them as an heretical falling away from the ancient faith and practice of the Church. This was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI came to formulate this proposal.4 According to this view, the ancient Church governed itself this way: the West accepted the papal primacy of authority without imposing it upon the East and the East tolerated this difference of Western practice without condemning it as an ecclesiological aberration; East and West believed differently but in spite of this, we remained in full ecclesiastical communion5. Put another way, “legitimate diversity is in no way opposed to the Church's unity, but rather enhances her splendor and contributes greatly to the fulfillment of her mission6.

Before we proceed to our necessary and brief critique of this suggestion it is necessary to understand its true implications. Particularly revealing on this point is the speech which Pope John Paul II gave to the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs (Uniates) in 29/9/1998.

Among other things, he said to the Uniate Patriarchs: “I ask you to give the Pope your help in the name of that responsibility for re-establishing full communion with the Orthodox Churches (cf. Orientalium Ecclesiarum, n. 24) which belongs to you as Patriarchs of Churches that share so much of the theological, liturgical, spiritual and canonical patrimony with Orthodoxy. In this same spirit and for the same reason, I would like your Churches to be fully associated with the ecumenical dialogues of charity and of doctrine at both the local and universal levels”. And the pope continues, “The particular role of the Eastern Catholic Churches [he means here the Uniates] corresponds to the one left unfilled by the lack of full communion with the Orthodox Churches. Both the Second Vatican Council’s Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum and the Apostolic Constitution Sacri canones (pp. IX-X) which accompanied the publication of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches have pointed out how the present situation, and the rules governing it, look towards the full communion we desire between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Your collaboration with the Pope and with one another will show the Orthodox Churches that the tradition of ‘synergy’ between Rome and the Patriarchates has been maintained — although limited and wounded — and perhaps also strengthened for the good of the one Church of God present throughout the world7.

The above texts shows clearly how Rome desires and seeks—despite its assurances to the contrary8—full communion obtained with Orthodoxy on the basis of an enhanced version of the Unia9 which can also include the Orthodox10. Toward this aim, the contribution of the principle “diversity in unity” is formative11, despite the fact that is it neither historically proven nor theologically acceptable as presented here.

The study of the acts and decisions of the Ecumenical Synods demonstrates as historically fabricated the contention that in the ancient Church of the first millennium the East and West held different beliefs about the position of the bishop of Rome. On the contrary, we see clearly that in spite of the fact that Church of Rome’s lineage from St. Peter was recognized, even the Western-Latin Church never accepted any form of papal supremacy of jurisdiction (primacy of authority) over the entire Church, nor did it recognize the pope as possessor of an exclusive right to articulate the faith, never mind any form of infallibility. We remind the reader succinctly of:

1. The papal legates accepted the synodal vetting of the papal dogmatic epistles of Leo the Great, St. Agathon, and St. Adrian to determine if they were in accord with the ecclesiastical tradition.

2. The views of St Leo the Great against canon 28 of Chalcedon were not even accepted by his [immediate] successors and were abandoned in the West until the time of the Schism.

3. The refusal of the latin bishops of the west to accept pope Vigillius’ decisions concerning the faith and consequently his repeated condemnations by Western Synods (both before and after the 5th Ecumenical Synod).

4. The expressed self-understanding of the same pope Vigilius who did not once claim to possess some alleged superior authority derived from divine right or ‘petrine’ authority which meant that the Church and the rest of the Patriarchs ought to be subject to him. Additionally, pope Vigilius never accused the Synod of being contrary to the canons or invalid simply because of his disagreement or absence. On the contrary, he explicitly promised that he would conform to the decision of the Synod concerning the faith and considered its decision to censure him as just.

5. The convocation of the Synod of 125 bishops from all of the regions of the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Rome under the presidency of pope St. Agatho in order to refute and pronounce on the heresy of monothelitism shows in practice the firm ecclesiological ethos of the ancient Church of Rome. It is indicative how the Synod of Rome mentions that they came to together with great labor “from the climes of the ocean” in order to consult in Synod so that “that our humble suggestion might proceed from a council of wide-spread influence, lest if only a part were cognizant of what was being done, it might escape the notice of a part12.

6. The cooperation of Rome in the condemnation of Pope Honorius at the 6th Ecumenical Synod.

7. The West accepted the decisive role of the emperor in the procedures of the Synod and never insisted on presiding through the papal “apocrisarii” at the Ecumenical Synods or at the local Synods in the West [tr.: a greek term for a high ranking ecclesiastical deputy or similar official]

8. A series of canons from local Synods and the Holy Fathers approved by the 2nd canon of Constantinople III and the 1st canon of Nicaea II show that that ancient Latin Church of the West recognized, just like the East, that the Church of Rome and her bishop were to be given great reverence and possessed a primacy of honor, but not a primacy of jurisdiction or an infallibility in defining matters of faith: for example, the Acts of the Synods of Carthage in Latin-speaking north Africa as well as their decisions to forbid final appeals to Rome, or the dispute between pope St. Stephen and St. Cyprian about the baptism of heretics all demonstrate this.

9. Finally, the conclusion of the letter of the Synod of Carthage already expresses the danger which the Latin Fathers of North Africa foresaw in the first demands of Rome to extend her jurisdiction in judging the bishops of Africa: “As for executors, therefore, though they have been demanded by some for our Clerics, do not send us any, nor grant us any, lest we seem to be introducing a cloud of smoke from the world into the Church of Christ, which offers the light of simplicity and the day of humility to those who desire to see God13.

All of the above demonstrate that in the Western Church in the time of the Ecumenical Synods recognized no “petrine primacy” or “petrine function of unity” nor any supreme authority over the entire Church or the ability to pronounce infallibly on matters of faith. The occasional expressions of papal representatives or of certain papal epistles which explicitly demand some kind of primacy of authority were never representative of the understanding of the whole Western Church nor did they reflect western theology within the patriarchate of Rome during the time of the Ecumenical Synods. Hence, we can see that during the first eight centuries of the life of the Church, East and West held to identical views concerning the basic ecclesiological principles which governed the role of the patriarchal Churches including that of the bishop of Rome.

Neverthless, even if we did suppose that there existed an important difference in views between East and West during the first eight centuries regarding the essence and role of the primacy of honor of the bishop of Rome — a fact which as we have demonstrated cannot be proven from the acts and decisions of the Ecumenical Synods—we would stress that the reality we live today is completely different. After the First and Second Vatican Councils we have —according to Rome— fundamental dogmas of faith which belong to the “essential and unchanging structure of the Church14 and those who deny them are anathematized by the “ecumenical” Synod of Vatican I and this remains the case with the “ecumenical” Synod of Vatican II.

Consequently, the attempt on the part of certain theologians to present the papal dogmas of Vatican I as having the same intended meanings as some declarations of papal legates or papal epistles in the early Church are clearly misleading.

Additionally, the implementation of the “principle of diversity in unity” not merely in ecclesiastical customs of minor importance, but in the realm of basic ecclesiological dogmas which touch upon the very structure and being of the Church ecclesiologically unacceptable. If, according to the papal ecclesiology of Vatican I, the denial of the papal dogmas is evidence of a serious ecclesiological deficiency15 then we do not have a Church of Christ, because a Church with ecclesiological deficiencies is completely unthinkable! Moreover, it is unthinkable that the western part of this “united Church” being established (?) can consider as ecclesiologically fundamental the dogmas concerning St. Peter and papal primacy and infallibility (as articulated by Vatican I and II) while the eastern portion denies them. Never in the life of the Church of Christ were dogmas considered obligatory for the faithful of a particular region (or ritual) while another region was given the ability to deny them. It is not comprehensible how we can belong to the same “united Church” where the Westerners must accept as a dogma of the faith necessary for salvation that the pope is infallible when he pronounces ex cathedra while the rest of the faithful are free to categorically deny this.

It is obviously unthinkable that the Orthodox Church could accept the principle of “diversity in unity” as it has been articulated recently and equally so the proposal stemming from it formulated by the then-Cardinal Ratzinger, later pope Benedict XVI.

Hence if the “principle of diversity in unity” as it has been presented in recent years, cannot be implemented to achieve the much-desired union of East and West, what would a suitable proposal look like for the overcoming of the division among Christians? I think the only hope for the restoration of ecclesiastical unity lies exclusively honest repentance alone; an honest repentance which presupposes and at the same time is realized only by a return in humility to the basic theological principles and presuppositions with the which the Church lived by in the time of the Ecumenical Synods. Humility will draw divine Grace and then unity will be achieved not by an untried, diplomatic compromise that relies on ambiguity of dogmatic expression which will only contribute to further bitterness and problems, but instead divine Grace will achieve the real and genuine “unity of faith and communion of the Holy Spirit”.

This article is the conclusions of the master's thesis entitled "The Church of Rome and its bishop in the minutes and decisions of the Ecumenical Councils", 2016, p. 400.

Protopresbyter Anastasios Gotsopoulos

- - -

1 MANSI 17, 489B : “The holy synod said, each throne has ancient traditional customs, and concerning these there should be no disputation or quarreling one with another. The Church of the Romans guards her customs and this is fitting, while the Church of Constantinople guards her own customs which she has received from above and all of the sees of the East do in like manner”. The Synod however, as it mentions later, speaks about mass ordinations and not about the crucial theological issues which have implications for the very structure and essence of the Church and the faith such as the papal doctrines about Rome.

2 For a detailed analysis from an Orthodox perspective of UR, see Fr. Peter Alban Heers, The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II: An Orthodox Examination of Rome’s Ecumenical Theology Regarding Baptism and the Church, Uncut Mountain Press. Simpsonville, 2015.

3We can say without reservation that at the heart of the Decree we encounter the issue of unity and diversity. And even though the issue is raised explicitly in the three chapters of the text, nevertheless it emerges as mean of reading and comprehending the entire text”, See W. Henn, “At the Heart of Unitatis Redintegratio. Unity in Diversity”, Gregorianum 88(2007) 2, 330. “Decree on Ecumenism”, §16-18, found online at <http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vat...>: “16. Already from the earliest times the Eastern Churches followed their own forms of ecclesiastical law and custom, which were sanctioned by the approval of the Fathers of the Church, of synods, and even of ecumenical councils. Far from being an obstacle to the Church's unity, a certain diversity of customs and observances only adds to her splendor, and is of great help in carrying out her mission, as has already been stated. To remove, then, all shadow of doubt, this holy Council solemnly declares that the Churches of the East, while remembering the necessary unity of the whole Church, have the power to govern themselves according to the disciplines proper to them, since these are better suited to the character of their faithful, and more for the good of their souls. The perfect observance of this traditional principle not always indeed carried out in practice, is one of the essential prerequisites for any restoration of unity. 17. What has just been said about the lawful variety that can exist in the Church must also be taken to apply to the differences in theological expression of doctrine”, See also Ut Unum Sint § 57. The proposal of “unity in diversity” is put forth as the basis for the union of all Christians by Pope Leo XIII. The Synod of Constantinople answer him in 1895 in a letter contained in Karmiris’ collection of dogmatic documents, vol. 2, p. 934. [tr. An English translation is available online at the “Orthodox Christian Information Center <http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/encyc_1895.aspx>].

4 According to J. Ratzinger : “Rome must not require more from the East with respect to the doctrine of primacy than what had been formulated and was lived in the first millennium . . . Rome need not ask for more. Reunion could take place in this context if, on the one hand, the East would cease to oppose as heretical the developments that took place in the West in the second millennium and would accept the Catholic Church as legitimate and orthodox in the form she had acquired in the course of that development, while, on the other hand, the West would recognize the Church of the East as orthodox and legitimate in the form she has always had”, From his Principles of Catholic Theology, San Francisco, Ignatius, 1987, p. 199. The suggestion of the then-Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland is in the same vein («Τί τὸ μόνιμον καὶ τί τὸ μεταβλητὸν εἰς τὴν πετρίνειον διακονίαν. Σκέψεις ἐξ Ὀρθοδόξου ἐπόψεως»[“What is permanent and what is changeable in the petrine ministry. Thoughts from an Orthodox perspective”], Στάχυς, 52-67(1977-1981) 508, D. Papandreou, “Ein Beitrag zur Uberwindung der Trennung zwischen der romisch-katholischen und der orthdoxen Kirche” found in Vasilios von Aristi, Das Papsamt: Dienst oder Hindernis für die Ökumene? Regensburg 1985, p. 162, 166-167), τοῦ H. Scutte, in Chr. Savvatos (now Metropolitan of Messinia), Τὸ παπικὸ πρωτεῖο στὸ διάλογο μεταξὺ Ὀρθοδόξων καὶ Ρωμαιοκαθολικῶν [The papal primacy in the dialogue between Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics], Athens 2006, p. 14 καὶ τοῦ E. Lanne, in Damaskinos’ article, «Τί τὸ μόνιμον καὶ τί τὸ μεταβλητὸν εἰς τὴν πετρίνειον διακονίαν. Σκέψεις ἐξ Ὀρθοδόξου ἐπόψεως», Στάχυς, 52-67(1977-1981) 516-517.

With much pain we must say some things about what Ratzinger has written: It is very tragic for an entire local Church, the greatest, most glorious and the most famous of the first millennium to have fallen into such confusion so that:

• it considers as positive theological developments and progress what occurred in the second millennium regarding papal primacy.

• it considers as theological progress the denial of the God-inspired, canonical, ecclesiastical order and tradition of the Ecumenical Synods.

• it considers as theological progress a papal institution based on forgeries from the Dark Ages (such as the false “Donation of Constantine” and the Pseudo-Decretals of Isidore)(Cretan Draft on the Role of the Pope, § 15) ! [Tr.: This refers to this document on the role of the papacy produced by the Joint Coordinating Committee for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church in Aghios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece, September 27 - October 4, 2008: <<http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1341...>>]

I ask that these observations not be taken as hostile or polemical against Roman Catholics, but only as an expression of grief as well as concern and vigilance for us Orthodox.

5 The position is explicitly formulated in “Cretan Draft on the Role of the Pope” in §§ 15, 22 and especially in § 32 : “The experience of the first millennium profoundly influenced the course of relations between the Churches of the East and the West. Despite growing divergence and temporary schisms during this period, communion was still maintained between West and East. The principle of diversity-in-unity, which was explicitly accepted at the council of Constantinople held in 879-80, has particular significance for the theme of this present stage of our dialogue. Distinct divergences of understanding and interpretation did not prevent East and West from remaining in communion. There was a strong sense of being one Church, and a determination to remain in unity, as one flock with one shepherd (cf. Jn 10:16). The first millennium, which has been examined in this stage of our dialogue, is the common tradition of both our Churches. In its basic theological and ecclesiological principles which have been identified here, this common tradition should serve as the model for the restoration of our full communion“. Metropolitan Damaskinos Papandreou takes a similar position in «Τί τὸ μόνιμον καὶ τί τὸ μεταβλητὸν εἰς τὴν πετρίνειον διακονίαν. Σκέψεις ἐξ Ὀρθοδόξου ἐπόψεως», Στάχυς, 52-67(1977-1981) 508.

6 Encyclical Letter “Ut Unum Sint: On Committment to Ecumenism“ of Pope John Paul II, 25 May 1995, § 50, found online at <http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyc...>

7 "Address of the Holy Father Pope John Paull II To the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs," Tuesday, 29 September 1998 <https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/spee...>

8The Sacred Council feels great joy in the fruitful zealous collaboration of the Eastern and the Western Catholic Churches and at the same time declares: All these directives of law are laid down in view of the present situation until such time as the Catholic Church and the separated Eastern Churches come together into complete unity”, Οrientalium Ecclesiarum, § 30 available online <http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vat... council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19641121_orientalium-ecclesiarum_en.html> The Synod “feels great” at the present work of the Unia…

9 Concerning the Unia in the theological dialogue with Rome see Th. Zisis, Οὐνία, Ἡ καταδίκη καὶ ἡ ἀθώωση [Unia, Condemnation or Acquittal ], publ. Vryennios, Thessaloniki 2002, G. Kapsanis, «Οὐνία, Ἡ μέθοδος τοῦ παποκεντρικοῦ Οἰκουμενισμοῦ» [“Unia, The Method of Papal-centric Ecumenism”], Παρακαταθήκη [Heritage], 60(2008), 3-10. For an historical approach to the Unia, see G. Metallinos, D. Gonis, I. Fratseas, Eu. Morarou, Bishop Athanasios (Yevtits), Ἡ Οὐνία, χθὲς καὶ σήμερα [The Unia, yesterday and today] publ. Armos, Athens 1992. For a more extensive bibliography regarding the Unia, cf. K. Kotsiopoulos, Ἡ Οὐνία στὴν Ἑλληνικὴ θεολογικὴ βιβλιογραφία [The Unia in Greek theological literature], publ. Vryennios, Thessaloniki 1993.

10 It is characteristic that Rome issued its decree “Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite” as “a kind of ‘insurance’ that the restoration of communion with Rome will not be carried out with any renunciation of elements of the non-Latin ecclesiastical traditions”.

11 Th. Zisis, «Ἡ οὐνία ὡς πρότυπο ψευδοῦς ἑνότητος. Τὰ ὅρια τῆς ποικιλομορφίας ἐν σχέσει πρὸς τὴν ἑνότητα» [“The Unia as a model of false unity. The limits of diversity in relation to unity”], - «Πρωτεῖον» Συνοδικότης καὶ ἑνότης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, Πρακτικὰ Θεολογικῆς Ἡμερίδος [“Primacy” of Synodality and Unity of the Church, Acts of a Theological Conference], publ. The Holy Metropolis of Piraeus, Piraeus 2011, p. 107-114.

12 From the letter of Pope Agatho read at the Third Synod of Constantinople, available here, <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3813.htm>

13 Tr. Translation taken from the English edition of the Rudder available online: <http://www.holytrinitymission.org /books/english/councils_local_rudder.htm>

14 Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, Letter Communionis notio, § 17. 3 (28.5.1992), available online at www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_28051992_communionis-notio_en.html.

15 “Unitatis Redintegratio: Decree on Ecumenism” from the Second Vatican Council §3 found online here <http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vat...>. I. Maragou, Οἰκουμενικὰ Α΄[Ecumenical Topics, vol. 1], Athens 1986, p.33, as well as the 29/6/2007 response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei) of the Roman Curia, found online at <www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_200 70629_responsa-quaestiones_en.html>.

<![CDATA[Homily: "Every Christian is a Forerunner and Prophet of Christ" – By Fr. Peter Heers, Holy Trinity Seminary, Jordanville NY, June 24/July 7, 2017]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/homily-every-christian-is-a-forerunner-and-prophet-of-christ https://orthodoxethos.com/post/homily-every-christian-is-a-forerunner-and-prophet-of-christ

Everyone that preaches true faith and good works, what does he do but prepare the way of the Lord so that he may come into the hearts of his hearers, and may make straight the path for God, forming right dispositions within them by the words of his exhortation?

- St. Gregory the Great, On the Mystical Church (PG 76: 1159-1170)

<![CDATA[The Function of the Unity of the Church and the Fallacious Theological Presuppositions of Papal Primacy – A Talk Given by Mr. Dimitrios Tselengidis, Professor at the University of Thessaloniki, at the Metropolis of Piraeus' Conference on the Theme "‘Primacy,' Synodicality and the Unity of the Church" Peace and Friendship Stadium, 28 April 2010]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-function-of-the-unity-of-the-church-and-the-fallacious-theological-presuppositions-of-papal-primacy https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-function-of-the-unity-of-the-church-and-the-fallacious-theological-presuppositions-of-papal-primacy


The unity of the Church in all its forms, either structural or charismatic[i], is clearly grounded in the Holy Spirit. It is extended mystically, but is maintained, cultivated and is apparent primarily through holy communion.

To begin with, the unity of the Church, as one of its fundamental traits, arises from its (the Church's) own ontology. In particular, it expresses the Church's self-consciousness, which was historically articulated more formally and conclusivelyin the definition of the Second Ecumenical Council (381), which formulated the Symbol of Faith (Creed) of the Church.

Since then, we have solemnly confessed through the Symbol of Faith that we believe "in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." However, if the Church is one according to the Symbol of Faith, then keeping with the ecclesiological sense and strictly speaking, heterodox Churches cannot exist - not mother-churches, sister-churches, daughter or grandchild churches. The one and only Church, which we confess, is the spiritual mother of all her members. That is, the oneChurch mystically gives birth to her members "by water and Spirit;" it does not give birth to other Churches.

From the wording of the Creed it is clear, that unity, as a fundamental trait of something (for the case in point, as a trait of the one Church), is an established fact of our faith. And actually, in the conscience of the body of the Church its unity is an ontological given, completely and irrevocably made certain by the Head of the Church, Christ, through the constant presence of the Comforter (His Spirit) in it, since the day of Pentecost.

In spite of this, unity also remains an experiential objective for the specific and eponymous members of the Church of every age. As an experiential objective the unity of its members comprises a personal endeavor of cooperation for tried perseverance and sure fruitfulness in the living and life-giving theanthropic body of Christ, and through it with the Triune God - but also between ourselves, as members of the Church. It is the goal of the incarnate God for us, so that we not only become one body with Christ, but also one Spirit with the Triune God (see Eph. 4: 4-5: "one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism"). This was explicitly expressed in the "hierarchical" prayer of Christ (His prayer at Gethsemane), as we will explain later in our talk.

In particular, the unity of the Church exists and is apparent institutionally in the faith, worship and administration of the Church. In each case the aforementioned triple union is grounded in and drawn from the threefold office of Christ: that of Prophet, Archpriest, and King. Consequently, the three expressions of the unity of the Church must be considered as interdependent and indivisible forms of the one complete unity of the Church.

Without the distinction of an ontological nature between the uncreated essence and the uncreated energies of the Triune God, the unity of the Church itself remains in practice essentially incomprehensible, but also theologically unsubstantial - as much as on an institutional as on experiential-charismatic level. The above distinction, which is a result of the charismatic and empirical nature of Orthodox theology, comprises the spiritual "key" of understanding the nature of the unity of the Church. For this reason, this distinction will be a necessary presupposition in the treatment of our topic; penetrating it and conceptually determining our so-called points.


The unity of the Church, as we have already suggested, does not constitute an autonomous and abstract dogmatic truth independent of the Church's life. It expresses its self-awareness and its experience in the Holy Spirit. The mystical body of Christ, the Church, becomes a charismatic sphere, where the unity of the faithful is constituted, lived, and revealed as an icon of the unity of the Triune God. The unity of the faithful consists of the fruit of their participation in the uncreated grace of the Triune God and establishes an expression of life of the one and ever-united Church, as an indivisible unity and perfect communion of persons. Consequently, the theological-ontological presuppositions for the allusion of the faithful to the Triadic unity are found in the creation and founding of the Church as the body of Christ, in which the faithful become organic members.

The faithful as a dwelling of the divine persons, through grace, are called to live according to the model of Triadic unity and in this way are to express their communion and participation in the life of the Triune God. In addition, according to the Evangelist John, the treatment of the unity of the faithful according to the model of the the unity of the Divine Persons also constitutes their witness to the world: "that they may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they may also be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me" (John 17:21).

In the aforementioned hierarchical prayer Christ, according to Athanasios the Great, asks His Father for the unity of the faithful according to the model of Their own unity. Of course, here the unity of the faithful is not referring to the nature of the Triune God, because "in nature only all things are far from Him." (Against the Arians 3.26 ΒΕΠ 30, p.269). The unity of the faithful as members of the one and only Church is grounded not in nature, but in the uncreated deifying energy and glory of the Triune God. The significance of this position is unquestionable, since the hypostatic Truth Himself, in the immediate continuation of the hierarchical prayer, expresses this explicitly: "And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one, I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me" (John 17: 22-23). In this passage one finds the concise hermeneutical "key" to understanding the foundation in the Holy Spirit of the unity of the Church. That which unites the faithful in the Church, or that which makes the Church one and indivisible, organic, a theanthropic body, is the uncreated sanctifying glory and grace itself of the Triune God. This uncreated divinity, which connects and perfects the body of Christ, is charismatically made familiar and, in a mystical way, forever remains in the Church liturgically by virtue of Christ, Who is also the Head of the one theanthropic body of the Church (see Eph. 1: 22-23). In this body the "I in them" of Christ is accomplished ontologically and charismatically.

Consequently, the necessary prerequisite for our unity with the Triune God in Christ is the charismatic presence of the Holy Spirit active in us. In other words, we are not united with the Triune God on account of our nature, but because of the Holy Spirit (see Athanasios the Great, Against the Arians 3:25, ΒΕΠ 30, 271: "It is the Spirit then which is in God, and not we viewed in our own selves"). This charismatic unity of the Church is evident in our agreement in conviction and the existence of the united mind in us (see Against the Arians 3:23, ΒΕΠ 30, 269).

However, if the unity of the Church as a sacramental and theanthropic body, but also the unity of that the faithful as constituent members of the Church have between themselves, according to the model of the unity of the Triune God, is accomplished directly and personally by the Triune God Himself through the uncreated energy of the Holy Spirit, then it is easily understandable that the heterodox - Roman-Catholics and Protestants - who in no way comprise Churches but religious communities with an ecclesiastical name, having changed the Apostolic faith of the Church in the Triune God through the Filioque and basically not making the distinction between the uncreated essence and uncreated energy in God, set forth an impossible unity (of an ontological and charismatic nature) with the Triune God and with us in Christ.

But also every other attempt at unity with the heterodox which skirts the above-mentioned theological presuppositions for the "faith once delivered (Jude 1:3)," is actually impossible. Nevertheless, the delegates of the local Orthodox Churches with their center of co-ordination (the Ecumenical Patriarchate) appear to have another opinion about the unity of the Church. This is why it is particularly typical that in the first paragraph of the submitted draft of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue with the Roman-Catholics in Cyprus, in October of 2009, it is cited that in the agreed upon Joint Statement of Ravenna (2007) Roman-Catholics and Orthodox refer to "the age of the undivided Church," (See Statement of Ravenna 41). It is clear that this phrasing presupposes for the members of the Joint International Commission that today the undivided Church does not exist. Therefore, today the Church is divided, despite the faith of the Church, which we confess verbally in the Symbol of our Faith. However, this means the falling away from the Church of all those who consciously support all that the Statement of Ravenna contains about the identity of the Church, since it indirectly but clearly does not accept a part of the dogmatic teaching of the Second Ecumenical Council.

However, already much earlier the Roman-Catholics had deviated from the dogmatic teaching of the Second Ecumenical Council with the addition of the Filioque. The Filioque was conceived and appeared in the West when the experience of the charismatic presence of the Holy Spirit in the ecclesiastical assembly of the Pope's see withdrew. Essentially, the Filioque was the crystallization of the estrangement from the living experience of the uncreated grace and energy of the Triune God, through which immediate and real communion with man is realized in the chief conveyor of the unity of God and man, that is, in the Church.

Consequently, due to our dogmatic disparity from the Roman-Catholics there cannot be - neither actual nor formal - union with them. Nonetheless, the strange thing (dogmatically and ecclesiologically) is that the Statement of Ravenna, consistent with the previous Joint Statements of Munich, Bari, Valaam and Balamand, refers to a common apostolic faith, the common mysteries (sacraments) and the ecclesiastical character of the heterodox. Thus, the false and blasphemous impression is given that with the joint Statement of Ravenna Christ is deceived, Who assured us that branches cut from the vine cannot bear fruit. The members of the Joint International Commission affirm in their statements, that in spite of the heretical divergences, the Roman-Catholics constitute a Church and that they possess genuine sacraments. It is theologically and logically odd that the representatives of the local Orthodox Churches do not realize the enormous dogmatic error of the Roman-Catholics concerning the created nature of their sacraments, an error which literally invalidates the aforementioned claim of the Roman-Catholics, which Orthodox representatives also endorse. The Roman-Catholics themselves assure us with their dogmatic teaching about created grace, that they are empirically devoid of the experience in the Holy Spirit of the Church and of the theanthropic nature of its unity in the Holy Spirit. Consequently, with the existing presuppositions it is completely theologically unwise and pointless for unity of an ecclesiastical nature to be attempted with them. In addition, such unity is practically and completely impossible, since it goes against the theological presuppositions of the Church and the ontological content of its nature.


Any form of unity in the Church, without unity in liturgy and communion, is surely an imperfect union. Unity of the Church itself, as a united body, is mainly a sacramental event. With its sacraments, the Church imparts the mystical body of Christ to the people. It combines them and unifies them with the Head of the body but also with each other. Finally, it makes them one Spirit with the Triune God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, offering them deification (theosis) by grace according to their receptivity. This happens dynamically, progressively and endlessly in the uncreated kingdom of Christ, of the unwaning and unending eighth day of the eternal age to come.

The unity of the Church as a whole and the unity of the faithful as members of the Church has its sensible (i.e. of the senses) and visual manifestation in the Eucharistic gathering during divine worship, and especially in the faithfuls' participation of Holy Communion. It is precisely then, in proportion to our purity and receptivity, that we commune as in a type of betrothal in the uncreated kingdom of Christ. Then we are actually united together, charismatically, through uncreated deifying grace and energy with the whole Triune God, with the Mother of God, with the bodiless and noetic beings, with those that have been found pleasing to God since the ages - reposed, righteous and saints - but also with all the faithful throughout the world, who are organic members of the body of Christ and receptive of His uncreated divine grace. That characteristic sensible experience - through word and sound - of the Eucharistic gathering comes from this, through the celebrant of the Holy Eucharist commemorating, not only the saints that have come before us, but also today's Church leadership during that great moment of the sanctification of the Holy Gifts.

Here, however, we must make a few necessary theological clarifications, since today we are in danger of a suspicious, watered-down, secretive (and I would say, audacious) idolatry. It is being promoted from all those who - on grounds of expediency - one-sidedly stress the structural expression of the sacraments of the Church, as as if they operate unconditionally, magically and mechanistically, even outside the Church. However, like this the Patristic theory of the sacraments is mistaken for expressions of the Church. The sacraments are the branches of the tree of the Church, the members of its heart, as Saint Nicholas Cabasilas says. They provide the uncreated unifying power of the Holy Spirit for the realization and experience of the ontological nature of the unity of the faithful members under clear presuppositions.

The unity of the Church is accomplished mystically through uncreated deifying grace and specifically through Holy Communion, but not mechanistically and unconditionally. On the contrary, charismatic union presupposes the faithfuls' purity from sin, their free co-operation and this mindset towards the faith. Moreover, God is glorified correctly in the context of Divine Worship, only when the doxology (glorifying) takes place "with one mouth and one heart." This though presupposes not only one faith, but also one life in the Holy Spirit. This is theologically obvious, because God as self-glorified, can actually be glorified by us, only when He Himself acts in us through His Holy Spirit. However, this happens only when we have His Own Spirit working in us, which we received during our own personal Pentecost, through Holy Chrism.

However, when the leadership of the Church happens to have another way of thinking, which is contrary to the dogmatic conscience of the Church as expressed in the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, then clearly the unity of the leadership with the body and the Head of the Church appears to be functionally problematic.

Such a situation is particularly problematic for the unity of the Church in worship, when certain leaders, who are commemorated in the Holy Eucharist, happen to believe, to live and to behave in a way incompatible with the letter and the spirit of the holy canons of the Ecumenical Councils. When it happens that the leadership of the Church prays with the heterodox and accepts, be it even tacitly, the joint statements that their representatives sign with the heterodox, that is when they indirectly, but clearly, consider the heterodox to comprise churches - in the ecclesiological sense of the word - and therefore to have genuine sacraments, in spite of the fact that the heterodox themselves dogmatically deny the uncreated nature of the grace and the energy of the sacraments, and in this way literally emptying the sacrament of the Church and its theanthropic nature reducing it to a purely human organism, then surely the unity of certain leaders with the Church itself is compromised to some degree. Then the aspired unity of this leadership is basically spent on the created and human level. Then this unity does not actually include the Triune God, since the Roman-Catholics, with whom they are trying to unite, continue to dogmatically deny the uncreated nature of divine grace, which being divine ontologically bridges the chasm between the uncreated Triune God and created man. Thus, holy communion between the uncreated God and created man is basically done away with. But when it happens that our life as members of the Church is not compatible with the mindset of the faith of the Church, then our apparent structural unity during divine worship is external and superficial. Clearly, it is not that which Christ asked for from God the Father in His hierarchical prayer, since this unity does not take into serious consideration the theological presuppositions and those inspired by Holy Spirit for its experience in all judgement.

Unfortunately, the calendar change, along with the theologically problematic ecumenical initiatives within the Orthodox Church, have become a cause of turmoil for unity in worship and administration between the new-calendarists and the Orthodox old-calendarists zealots.

We are of the opinion that this problem should be taken up theologically and lovingly by the leadership of our Church, as long as the Orthodox faith is common among us. Recorded history after 1920 can mutually help in self-assessment regarding the problem of ecumenism with the goal of regaining complete unity and communion between us.


This refers specifically to the canonical and organizational unity of the Church and essentially has its theological foundation in the royal-pastoral office of Christ. In particular, the unity in the administration of the Church is immediately connected to its traditional structure, to its ontology of an eschatological nature, but also its identity of a charismatic nature. The established heresies and the established ecclesiastical schisms are proof of a departure from its (the Church's) institutional acceptance.

The visible unity of the Church itself is expressed, as we have already said, mystically during Divine Worship and more specifically in Holy Communion. However, the visible unity of the Church is unquestionably, equally and timelessly apparent in the eminent administrative expression of the Church, according to the Ecumenical Councils. In them, the mindset of the theanthropic Head of the Church is articulated synodically and infallibly - in all exactitude. The Head expresses the whole Triune God, since the will of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is one. It is exactly this nature of the content of the synodal expression of the whole Church which is preserved in the distinct formulation of these councils, as is e.g. the expression of the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem: "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us" (Acts 15:28) or as in the Ecumenical Councils: "following the Holy Fathers till now...." Thus, the one mindset of the leadership of the Church is safeguarded by the mindset of the Holy Spirit, which is active in the many members of the hierarchy of the Church and this is objectively attested to, provided the hierarchs expressed themselves humbly, that is "following the Holy Fathers." This means that each council of bishops is obligated to agree with and "follow the Holy Fathers." Otherwise, whatever decision it makes is not only institutionally but essentially in abeyance.

A "key" for ensuring the genuineness of the mind of the Church, which the administration of the constituent local Churches or whole Church expresses, is the dogmatic conscience of the members of the Church. In this way the dogmatic conscience of the members of the whole Church proves to be an ultimate criterion of the truth. In the final analysis the ecumenicity of a pan-Orthodox council is judged unerringly by the conscience of the members of the Church. From what was stated above, it is clear that the unity of the administration of the Church is assured institutionally, not mechanistically and democratically. It is assured only in the Holy Spirit. This basically means that unity in Church administration has ontological presuppositions, and more specifically, presuppositions set down by the Holy Spirit. Namely, it presupposes the ontological unity of the faithful in the mystical body of Christ and [presupposes] the experience of the presence of the Holy Spirit in all judgement, which as an uncreated deifying grace unites the mystical body and bridges the created members with the uncreated divinity of the theanthropic Head of the mystical body of the Church, charismatically and existentially (ontologically). This means it is theologically legitimate and spiritually incumbent for any of the faithful to question the institutionally expressed synodal decision of the highest administration of the Church, as long as with certainty he finds that the particular decision is not in "keeping with the Holy Fathers." It should be noted that while holding such a position, a person remains united with the Head of the mystical body, and also with the whole Church.

The unity of the Church in its administration is not ensured mechanistically through the institution of Synodicality which is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It most certainly presupposes that the hierarchs participating in the synod have a mindset according to the Holy Spirit. Moreover, a true member of a council (synod), in the strict sense and mainly according to the spirit of the word[ii], is he who is following the Way, which in this case is the hypostatic Way, Christ. He is with Him, not simply out of custom or institutionally, but chiefly in an essential and active way only in the Holy Spirit, only when he truly has the "mind of Christ."

From what was said above it is clear that the unity of the Church, especially in its administration, is not secured by the president and "first" at whatever council.

If, however, we think about each first or presiding bishop in the administrative hierarchy of the Church as an expresser and guarantor of its unity - as much in the first millennium (e.g. the Pope, as the Roman-Catholics would like) as in the second millennium (in the sphere of Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarch, as it seems from some of his statements as of late) - then inevitably we will have to accept that even some leaders having been condemned as heretics, just as much in the West as in the East, secured the unity of the Church with their heresy, while they were institutionally in their administrative position. However, this would mean that unity was secured mechanistically, by default of the unsound personal faith of those leaders. But it would mean still that the unity of the Church does not have an ontological nature confirmed by the Holy Spirit, or that the Church can exist divided or in heresy. Something like this comes in complete conflict with the dogmatically defined faith, which we express in the Symbol of Faith with "oneChurch."

The Joint Statement of Ravenna (2007, &41) appears to indirectly support, though it is clear, the institution of primacy over the whole Church, despite its different understanding in the East and the West during the first millennium. As far as we know, in the relevant canons of the Ecumenical Councils there is mention of "place of honor" and not of primacy in administrative authority on a global level. This reference to "first" (see 34th Apostolic canon, 2nd and 3rd canon of the Second Ecumenical Council and 28th canon of the 4th Ecumenical Council) restricts his administrative responsibilities to a strictly local and eparchial level.

We are of the opinion that it is not theologically or patristically permissible (see Athanasios the Great and St. Gregory Palamas) to have a theological dialogue with the Roman-Catholics about the primacy of the Pope over the whole Church, even during the first millennium, while the Roman-Catholics are not members of the Church, as they firmly hold to their heretical stances till this day about the Filioque and created divine grace, along with the primacy and infallibility of the Pope.


If we approach papal primacy and the Filioque in a historical-dogmatic manner, we see that their appearance and development are concurrent. Both of these dogmatic deviations go together historically.

The historical starting point of papal primacy is found in the 4th century, both in the West and in the East. Already in the Western Council of 371 it is supported that councils without the consent of the Pope are invalid. In the East, St. Basil the Great mentions the "arrogant papal brow," while the records of the Ecumenical Councils inform us about the papal claims the papist representatives conveyed until the 8th Ecumenical Council (879/880) under Patriarch Photius. It is internationally confirmed by history that the Orthodox East never recognized the primacy of the bishop of Rome in administrative jurisdiction and authority, neither in theory nor in practice, but only a "position of honor." This means that he was the first among equals, "primus inter paris" (see 28th canon of the 4th Ecumenical Council). Finally, the Orthodox East's refusal to submit to the claims of the West concerning a primacy of authority over the whole Church became the reason the papists broke away from the Church in 1054.

In the attempts for union which followed, the West always tried to impose its monarchal type of ecclesiology on the East, based on the idea that the Pope should always be considered the only visible head of the Church.

The dogmatic safeguarding of papal primacy formally happened at the First Vatican Council (1870). At this council, along with the infallibility of the Pope, the exact substance of primacy was defined, which is understood as an administrative authority over the whole Church, with a view to preserve the true faith. Therefore, it is clear that papal primacy comprises a structural element of papism and part of its dogmatic teaching. This means that without this, full ecclesiastical communion is not possible. The dogmatic inception of papal primacy goes back through the Apostle Peter to Christ Himself.

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1964) attempted to modify the above monarchal ecclesiology of the First Vatican Council with the introduction of a peculiar ecclesiology of communion (communio), which refers to the gathering of bishops ["Lumen Gentium" (Light of the Nations) article 22]. Based on the Second Vatican Council there truly seems to be a double supreme authority: On the one hand, the assembled bishops with the Pope as the head, and on the other hand, only the head. [Any episcopal body's ability of action is impossible without its head, for it acts only when assembled and in communion with the bishop of Rome. The Pope is somehow placed "above the episcopal body" in a capacity of vicar of Christ (vicarius Christi).] However, it is particularly important that the Council often restates that the Pope can administer the office "alone."

So it is clear that harmony was essentially not achieved between papism and the episcopal office. The two ecclesiologies were placed next to each other in a problematic articulation. History has proved the total inconsistency of the two ecclesiologies of the West. In any case, the prediction of the Western theologians is that, in theory and practice, we will probably again see a clearly monarchal ecclesiology imposed, which will push back the forms of collectiveness and synodicality, which recently came to the foreground again (see concerning K. Schatz).

As is easily understandable from what was said before, papal primacy - which is connected to papal infallibility - in theory and in practice, completely renders the disapproval of the pope powerless on account of his dogmatic errors. This alone confirms the distortion (on an ecclesiological level) of the synodicality of bishops, and clearly goes against the experience (led by the Holy Spirit) of the Church, as was institutionally expressed at the Apostolic Council and Ecumenical Councils. Primacy, as it came to mean in the West, not only did not accommodate the unity of the Church, but contrarily gave birth to tendencies of division and ultimately caused papism to fall away from the Church. Of course, all this was combined with other deviations from the dogmatic teaching of the Church.

The fallacious theological presuppositions of papal primacy go hand in hand with the historically concurrent Filioque, whose institutionalization chronologically came first, since it had already been adopted in the West by the 6th century in the Council of Toledo (547) and was added with local validation to the Creed of Nicaea-Constantinople (589). The fallacious theological presuppositions of primacy should be re-discussed first and foremost in the pneumatology of the West. In the life and practice of the Church in the West, the pneumatological factor has fallen into disuse, resulting in the adoption of the Filioque, which belittles the Holy Spirit on a dogmatic-theoretical level. Something similar happened at the same time with papal primacy, which theologically reveals the reduction of the charismatic dimension of the Church and the reduction of the meaning of the Holy Spirit in it. In a condensed way, this reveals the manner of organization of Roman-Catholicism with its centralized and hierocratic character and its governing power over the clergy and laity.

Even more specifically, the fallacious theological presuppositions of papal primacy are clearly of a pneumatological nature for the following reason. Those in the West, very early on and progressively in any case, were alienated from the living experience of the Orthodox East, which has to do with the charismatic presence of the Holy Spirit, which according to the promise of Christ will lead the Church after Pentecost "into every truth," and will truly guarantee the unity of the Church through His invisible presence and in all judgement, according to the hierarchical prayer of Christ. That is, Western Christianity lost the living experience of unity with the uncreated divine glory and sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit. The ecclesiological structure of Roman-Catholicism, which we mentioned, confirms as much. This structure, with primacy as the fundamental element, does not allow the charismatic functioning of the Spirit of Truth, since the hypostatic Truth and theanthropic Head of the Church is substituted with the created presence of its vicar, the Pope, while at the same time the reference to the presence the Holy Spirit was defiantly ignored. In other words, since the Roman-Catholics do not make a distinction between the uncreated essence and the uncreated energy of God, due to the fact that they do not have the living experience of the charismatic presence of the uncreated energy and grace of the Holy Spirit - and hence their dogmatic teaching concerning created grace - they are not able to theologically understand the invisible presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church ontologically, in accordance with His uncreated and sanctifying energy, as a guarantor of the truth till the end of time. Because of the lack of the aforementioned theological presuppositions, the Roman-Catholics cannot theologically understand how Christ reveals Himself invisibly to the living members of His mystical body and not only in the world to come, but also how His uncreated kingdom within the faithful is invisibly present, not coming "with observation" (see Luke 17:20-21) for those that do not have active spiritual senses.

However, here the theological question understandably arises: "What is the primary reason for this theological confusion and disorder, which immediately comes out in ecclesiology and in practice, in the life of the Church and with soteriological consequences?"

Papal primacy, either with its open sense of authority or under the guise of service (see the Statement of Ravenna) in the administration of the Church, has as its primary cause egoism, vainglory, and pride. These in their very nature are - in any form - evil disrupters of unity. Multiform egoism is the primary cause of any heterodox teaching, according to the testimony of Holy Scripture (see 1 Tim. 6: 3-6). It inflates and corrupts the mind and leads it to a falling away from the oneand ever-united Church. This same primary cause also tore Lucifer and his like-minded angels away from the primordial Church of the Triune God with His holy angels, just as it did with the first created couple. The egoistic mindset is irreconcilable with the living experience of the charismatic presence of the Spirit of Truth in the Church. This living experience has always had humility as its fundamental characteristic feature, which is mainly apparent in obedience only to the will of the one theanthropic Head of the Church, in accordance with the example of His obedience to the will of God the Father.

Christ HImself, during His historic presence on earth, explicitly spurned every vainglorious desire for superiority among the Apostles (see Matt. 20: 20-28 and 23: 8-11; Mark 10: 35-45), saying to two of His chosen disciples: "Ye know not what ye ask" (Matt. 20:22). Still, it is particularly important that the Apostles, after receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and from then on having Him in them experientially "in all judgement" and active to the greatest degree, asserted no primacy, nor administrative authority or service, as is attested to in the Acts of the Apostles. Thus, we see for example that in the Apostolic Council the preeminent Apostle Peter did not preside, but James the brother of our Lord. And the Apostle Peter's position did not prevail, but that of the Apostle Paul (see Acts 15). There, for the first time it was proven in a real way that no institutional figure is infallible, but the whole Church, when it expresses itself institutionally through an Ecumenical Council. But all the things testified to in the book of Acts are enlightening for our subject at hand, from the selection of the Apostle Matthias, to the selection of the seven deacons, and particularly everything that has to do with the way they were elected and the criteria coming from the Holy Spirit (see Acts 6: 2-3). A main criterion of election was the active presence of the Holy Spirit in the candidate deacons ("among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom" - Acts 6:3).

It is also a historical truth that never did one Apostle govern the Church. All the Apostles equally administered it, as is obvious from the Apostolic Council. But even after the Apostles, their successors, as equal bishops, governed the Church coming together in councils under the presidency of an equal bishop, as is witnessed to in the Ecumenical Councils. The "position of honor" of the "first" (or one presiding) does not do away with equality. And he who has the "position of honor" has one vote and is subject to the criticism of his fellow equal bishops. This is why some leaders among the hierarchy both in the East and in the West were condemned as heretics during the first millennium.

Consequently, papal primacy has no theological foundation, no legitimacy from the Holy Spirit and no ecclesiological legitimacy. It is clearly based on a worldly understanding of authority and ministry. It does not permit the structure inspired by the Holy Spirit of the mystical body of the Church. It relativizes and in practice, does away with synodicality as a function of the Holy Spirit in the body of the Church, and introduces to it the worldly mindset. It annuls the equality of bishops, it appropriates the total administrative authority of the whole Church, essentially pushing aside the God-Man and placing a man as a visible head and in this way institutionally repeats the ancestral sin. And, just as the equality of the persons of the Holy Trinity was institutionally abolished with the Filioque in the West, especially that of the Holy Spirit, which according to St. Gregory Palamas was belittled in the ontological category of created things, thus with papal primacy, the absence of the charismatic presence of the Holy Spirit in the body of the ecclesiastical body is institutionally confirmed. And the ecclesiastical body is basically converted from a theanthropocentric to a anthropocentric one. Lastly, the cure to this ecclesiological deviation of the papists can only be obtained through their humble return to the traditional ecclesiology of the Orthodox East.

[i] Trans. note: The term "charismatic" in this paper is to be understood in the Orthodox theological sense, coming from the Greek word "charisma," that is relating to God's grace through His Holy Spirit.

[ii] Trans. note: The word for "council" in Greek is "synod." Someone taking part in an ecclesiastical council is called a "synodikos," which means literally one who accompanies or goes along with.

<![CDATA["Έχουν μίσος για την εκκλησία!" - Ο Βασίλης Λεβέντης για τους πολιτικούς που εισάγουν την αλλαγή φύλου για 15χρονια. ]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/exw-misos-gia-thn-ekklhsia-o-basilhs-lebenths-gia-toys-politikoys-poy-eisagoyn-thn-allagh-fyloy-gia-15xronia https://orthodoxethos.com/post/exw-misos-gia-thn-ekklhsia-o-basilhs-lebenths-gia-toys-politikoys-poy-eisagoyn-thn-allagh-fyloy-gia-15xronia <![CDATA[Fr. George Florovsky on The Boundaries of the Church – by Athanasius Yevtich, bishop of Zahumlje and Herzegovina]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/fr-george-florovsky-on-the-boundaries-of-the-church https://orthodoxethos.com/post/fr-george-florovsky-on-the-boundaries-of-the-church Editor's Note

It is with gratefulness to God and relief that Orthodox Ethos is finally able to publish in the English language the following exceptional lecture by Bishop Athanasius Yevtich on the well-known and well-utilized article "On the Limits of the Church" by the ever-memorable patristic scholar and Orthodox Theologian, Fr. George Florovsky. For years, since shortly after its publication in the Greek Journal Theologia, we had seen the importance and need for a translation of this lecture for our English-speaking brethren. We are indebted to our friend and associate Nicholas Pantelopoulos for this excellent translation, which we know will be of great interest to many who have been confused or misled as to the Orthodox teaching on the nature and boundaries of the Church. Bishop Athanasius' contribution to the inter-Orthodox exchange on the proper understanding of the nature of the unity and boundaries of the Church is sure to be received with gratefulness by many and anguish by a few, but with interest by all.

~ Fr. Peter Heers, Editor of Orthodox Ethos

It will be difficult for me to duly expound on the magnitude and importance of Fr. George Florovsky, the “ecumenical first-priest”, as he was referred to by his student, bishop Daniel (Krstich).[1] Nonetheless, with great love and gratitude to God and to Fr. George, I will always remember when as a Priestmonk I served Divine Liturgy with this great father, celebrant and theologian, in a 9th C Byzantine church, in the monastery of Saint Nicodemus in Athens, which later became known in the 19th C as the “Russian Church”. Afterwards, with the providence and grace of God, I had the honor to succeed him for three years (1970-1972) at the Orthodox Theological Institute of Saints Sergius in Paris, as chair of Patristics, along with Fr. Andrew Fyrilla. Before I met him, however, and got acquainted with him on a personal level, Fr. Justin Popovich spoke frequently about Fr. George Florovsky, with whom he spent years together during the German invasion in Serbia, when they would meet and discuss. Fr. Justin Popovich would call Fr. George Florovsky an “icon on the iconostasis of orthodox theology of the modern age”.

The organizers of this present colloquium asked me to speak on the subject, “Fr. George Florovsky on the Boundaries of the Church”. It concerns a very difficult subject and I will try to speak as objectively as I can, with complete respect towards Fr. George Florovsky, but with a critical approach towards the position that he formulated in his article. In previous sessions, there were already some presentations about Fr. Florovsky’s ecclesiology, which happens to be rich and multi-dimensional. His article on the “Boundaries of the Church”2, in my opinion constitutes an early phase in Fr. George Florovsky’s evolution. It was written in Paris on the feast day of Saint Sergius in 1933. It was published in English, then in Russian, and even then, in French and Serbian. There exists a translation in Greek3. Without a doubt, the article of Fr. Florovsky is written within the framework of the ecumenical movement, which also is a leading subject for his time as well as in our own. This fact is highlighted by the author himself, as he refers to an article of his, “On the Reunification of Christians”, which was published in a volume collection in 1933 in Paris, just as another older article of his, “The Problems of Christian Unification”4.

We will not continue the exhaustive analysis of this article by Fr. George Florovsky. The author briefly mentions in the text the apostolic and patristic events concerning the unity of the Church, by giving special emphasis on Saint Cyprian of Carthage. He presents and exercises criticism on the positions of Cyprian, and then goes to Saint Augustine and the practice of the Church in relation to the acceptance of heretics. Subsequently, the author refers to modern Russian theologians. Thus, on the one hand there is a mention of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and of Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky) who considered that the charismatic boundaries of the Church coincide with the canonical. On the other hand, he refers to (Aleksey) Khomyakov and Philaret (Drozdov), the Metropolitan of Moscow, who considered that the charismatic and canonical borders of the Church did not coincide. I also remember Fr. Justin Popovich, who would say that the more correct and theologically orthodox position was held by Metropolitan Anthony and Archbishop Hilarion, that in other words, the charismatic and canonical boundaries of the Church coincide. It is interesting that in the same year, of 1933, an article was published, written by bishop Sergius (Stragorodski), the later Patriarch of Russia, which Fr. George Florovsky most likely did not have a chance to consider. These two theologians [Metropolitan Anthony and Archbishop Hilarion], although they wrote independently from each other, almost echo the same views word for word, resulting in concurring opinions on the limits of the Church. Fr. George Florovsky elicits the Greek theologians, [Christos] Androutsos and [Konstantinos] Diovouniotis, – rather old and conservative theologians, and mostly refers to them in relation to a commentary of his concerning economy of the Church. We must note that this commentary in particular was also weak. Fr. Florovsky does not proceed to analyze the great Fathers of the Church, although in approximately the same period he writes some of his greatest and famous works on Patristics, such as, “The Eastern Fathers of the 4th C”5, and “The Byzantine Fathers of the 6th- 8th Cs”.6

In his article, Fr. George Florovsky is not particularly preoccupied with an analysis of what he calls, and what is truly, the practice of the Church in the reception of heretics, but rather how this practice was formed. In my opinion, this is an important shortcoming of this particular article, since faith and theology is revealed in the practice of the Church, and it must be taken into serious consideration when we speak about the boundaries of the Church.

Recently, professor [Constantine] Zaitsev of the Academy of Holy Trinity in Moscow wrote a substantial and expansive work on the boundaries of the Church in his 12th volume of the New Orthodox Encyclopedia (published by the Patriarchate of Moscow with the blessing of the Patriarch). There, he mentions the opinions of many Fathers of the Church and contemporary Russian theologians. At the end of this reference, he briefly refers to the “Basic Principles of the Attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church Toward the Other Christian Confessions” (“Основные принципы отношения Русской Церкби к инославию”), an official text which was published recently in Moscow in 2000, by the Holy Synod of the Russian Church. In a very curious way, Zaitsev summarizes the opinions of the Council expressed by this official text. Without having to refer to his opinions in length, we will only mention that he repeats the views of Fr. Florovsky. In the end of his text, professor Zaitsev arrives to the same assumption as the one reached by Fr. Florovsky, that the canonical and charismatic limits of the Church do not coincide, and adds, “Starting from the position which is expressed in the text, ‘Basic Principles of the Attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church Toward the Other Christian Confessions’, it seems more defensible from an ecclesiastical and also historical and theological point of view the position held by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, Patriarch Sergius, and Fr. Florovsky. As it pertained to other points of view, which he characterizes as “rigid akriveia“[exactitude], – referring primarily to Saint Cyprian, “although these positions are founded upon correct theological foundations, they require, however, much better definition”. In other words, Zaitsev equated the position of the Russian Church with that of Florovsky and almost presents the same opinion.

We must point out, nonetheless, after several readings of Fr. Florovsky’s article, we have the impression that this text was written at a young age, when he was a priest no more than a year, and that this text does not represent a complete expression of his ecclesiological view. Florovsky presents the position of Saint Cyprian, then quickly passes over to the opinion of Saint Augustine and accepts his ecclesiological views without adequate critical thought. In particular, it seems he adopts the views on ex opera operato and opera operantis, and recommends that the Orthodox accept Augustine’s opinion concerning the limits of the Church, where the charismatic and canonical boundaries do not coincide. On the other hand, the analysis of Saint Cyprian which Fr. Florovsky provides is one-sided7. Fr. George Florovsky did not carefully examine, in parallel to the texts of Cyprian, his very important letter to Saint Firmilianus of Caesarea (230-268), the predecessor of Saint Basil, and also the letter to Saint Dionysius of Alexandria. These two Fathers, both contemporaries of Saint Cyprian, do not accept the opinion of Augustine and Pope Stephen of Rome. For without a doubt they speak about coinciding charismatic and canonical limits of the Church even if they do not refer to them in this manner.

When Florovsky examines the works of Cyprian, and especially those of Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, (who as we said, considers the canonical and charismatic limits of the Church to be the same), sometimes we have the impression that he exaggerates. Likewise, it appears, when he talks about the practice of the Church in relation to the reception of heretics. For example, the then young theologian and priest George Florovsky observes, “One may ask who gave the Church this right…” to accept heretics in the manner, meaning here the application of ecclesiastical economy instead of the exactitude supported by Cyprian. In other words, the practice of the Church does not impose on all heretics to be re-baptized, as Saint Cyprian demanded. To such a question, we dare juxtapose the following counter-question: Who gave the right to Fr. Florovsky to put such questions to the Church? Or in other words, to direct this question to Basil the Great, the great hierarch, theologian and canonist of the Church, whose opinion on the application of economy in the acceptance of heretics is what the Church ultimately applies. This position of his concerning the use of economy does not indicate an acceptance of a “Church outside the limits of the Church” (a phrase belonging to Fr. Florovsky), because economy of the Church, the act of acceptance of heretics to the Church in three different phases or in three different modes, was conveyed perfectly in the canonical letter of Basil the Great to Amphilochios of Iconium (Epistle no. 188). It is apparent that ecclesiastical economy has been taken into consideration in a much greater degree than Fr. Florovsky assumes. Florovsky concludes that the economy of the Church is simply a pedagogical – pastoral measure, related simply to the philanthropy of the Church. As if philanthropy is something arbitrary, an unimportant detail! Yet, for Basil the Great and the Fathers of the Church, economy in the Church becomes apparent and must be applied as a demonstration and revelation of the Divine Economy of Salvation, as an expression of Divine philanthropy. For the Church, this is not simply a word, but a reality with a profound theological and ecclesiological context. It is not simply a dispensation – dispensatio as it is rendered by Hieronymus in Latin and in other western languages. Economy is Divine Economy. The great Fathers like Chrysostom or Evlogios of Alexandria (6th C) and many others speak in detail about what is Divine Economy.8 Firstly, this economy means that God became flesh, condescending towards us without leaving His Godhead and His throne. Christ “emptied himself” (Philip. 2:8) through the incarnation and inhomination; this emptying of Divine love is recognized as economy, the Divine Economy of Grace, the work of the philanthropy of the Holy Trinity.9

We believe that the article on the Limits of the Church by Fr. George Florovsky, without diminishing it, was “unseasoned”, even though it was not exactly pioneering or a first of its kind. Since, this path was followed by Khomyakov and Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, on whom Florovsky is grounded and to whom he refers. But we will point out two essential elements, or shall we say, “occurrences” (Fr. Florovsky points out exactly that the theology of the Fathers, like Saint Gregory Palamas, is a “theology of occurrences”), two facts that constitute the essence of Orthodox ecclesiology and the practice of the Church for the admission of heretics which Florovsky did not take into consideration.

First, the limits of the Church of God in Christ Jesus the Theanthropos are the “Boundaries” of his boundless Divine Economy of salvation, the limits of the boundless philanthropy of God, and these limits should not be separated from the limits of Grace of the all-holy Spirit, the Comforter, in the Church. These limits cannot be narrower than the narrowest limits of the Cross and the Resurrection of the Incarnated Christ, in body and as Body, as the Church, as fullness, revealing the “fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)10

Second, these economic – charismatic limits of the Church, in a paradoxical way, cannot and should not exclude the exceedingly important consequence of the liturgical – canonical limits of the Church. Without expanding further, I will simply summarize that this consequence is derived from the event of Liturgy as Communion, as participation in what we call the Church, which is communion and participation of the members of the Church in the Holy Eucharist, in Liturgy. For this reason, we Orthodox cannot accept intercommunion. Not for some anti-ecumenist stance11, but exactly because in the Holy Eucharist, as a gathering of the Church in Christ through the Holy Spirit, the charismatic limits of the Economy of salvation of the Holy Trinity and the canonical-charismatic limits of the Church coincide. In this sense Saint Ireneaus of Lyons wrote, when he expressed this view clearly and with theological precision, “But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion” (Against Heresies, Book 4, Chapt. 18:5) 12. This exactly coincides with what even Fr. George Florovsky, Fr. Alexander Schmemann and many other theologians emphasize, when they say, lex orandi est lex credenda, or in other words, the canon of worship is the canon of faith and the visa-versa.

Here, of course, I would say that there appears to be an antinomy; for it must be said that an antinomy befits more with the theological view of Fr. Florovsky, because of his position which he took in his article on the limits of the Church. And this is how it should be, since there is an organic unity between the Christological – pneumatological, and the soteriological – ecclesiological substance, life, and salvation in the Church. This is what is revealed in the mysteries [sacraments] of the Church – Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist, Priesthood – which constitute the Mystery of the Fullness of the Church. The Mysteries of the Church cannot be above or outside the Church, because the Church is the fundamental Mystery, the Mystery of Christ, per Apostle Paul and Saint Maximus, from which spring all the other mysteries [sacraments] which project onto Him. All these things are revealed and are experienced in the Mystery of the gathering of the Church in the Holy Eucharist, and as a unity of faith and communion in the Holy Spirit, which we confess, glorify and live every time we proclaim together the “Our Father” during Holy Eucharist, and partake together in Holy Communion. These are the elements which elude to and constitute the core and the essence of Saint Cyprian’s view. This is what Saint Cyprian expresses in his known letter: “All heretics do not have the power and the right to baptize (…) because as enemies of the Lord, they apostatized from the love and unity of the Catholic Church (…). The Church is one, and being one, cannot be in and outside (que et intus esse et foris non potest) (…) The Church cannot be outside Herself (fortis autem non esse Ecclesiam), nor can She be broken and divided into something opposite to herself, because She is unity in the house of the God”. Cyprian, therefore, theologically and ecclesiologically connects the unity of Baptism with the unity of the Church which reveals the “unity of Eucharist”. He closely connects the “grace of one ecclesiastical baptism” (unici ecclesiastici baptismi gratiam), with “the unity of the Church” (Ecclesiae unitatem) and the “inseparable Mystery of unity” (inseparabile unitatis sacramentum) with the Eucharist, as Body and Blood of Christ, where “Christian concord is connected with the inseparable love, as it is shown in the Sacrifice of the Lord” (unianimitatem christianam firma sibi adque inseparabilio caritatem conexam etiam ipsa Dominica sacrificial declarant) (Epistle 69, 1.3-5). Thus, for Cyprian, the “one baptism” is inseparable from the unity of the Church in the Eucharist, which is the unity of all in faith, hope and love. In one word, unity of all in the Holy Trinity, per the Apostle: “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6).

The Fathers of the Church, and contemporaries of Saint Cyprian, and the consequent practice of the Church, bear witness to the position of Cyprian, since the non-recognition of the baptism of heretics outside the Church was never rejected by the Church of the East.13 This is recognized in their own way by Fr. George Florovsky and his student Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon. In the Christian east and in Africa, just as Saint Cyprian, they acknowledge that there is no salvific Baptism among heretics and schismatics (as it is confirmed by several Ecclesiastical Synods: Carthage of 220, Iconium of Asia Minor of 235, followed by Antioch of Syria and others14), because the Holy Spirit is not imparted outside the Church. She is the one that contains the fullness of the faith in the Holy Trinity and in Christ, and the fullness of Grace and communion in Church, which is the fullness of salvation, and the fullness of communion with the Holy Trinity.

Saint Firmilianus, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (230-268)15 and a contemporary of Cyprian, was against Stephen who as bishop of Rome recognized the baptism of heretics. He wrote like Cyprian and supported the same theology on the One Baptism. Firmilianus writes about One Baptism in the Church as a “bond of unity”, and as “divine unity(divina unitate). For as he points out, “For as even the Lord who dwells in us is one and the same. He everywhere joins His own people in the bond of unity (vincula unitatis)(…). Those souls however, who have departed from the unity of God cannot come into the unity of the Holy Trinity”, – and he refers to the Lord’s prayer for this unity with the Father (John 17:21). “Whence it appears that this tradition (of Stephane) is of men which maintains heretics, and asserts that they have baptism, which belongs to the Church alone (…). Those who do not recognize and do not confess the True God the Father, can neither know the truth for the Son and the Holy Spirit (…). Moreover, all other heretics, if they have separated themselves from the Church of God, can have nothing of power or of grace, since all power and grace are established in the Church where the presbyters preside”, who possess both the power of baptizing, “and of imposition of hands, and of ordaining (ordinandi). For as a heretic may not lawfully ordain nor lay on hands, so neither may he baptize, nor do anything holily or spiritually. For heretics are “alien from spiritual and deifying sanctity” (aliens sit a spirtali et deifica sanctitate) (…) Spiritual birth cannot be without the Spirit (spiritualem nativitatem). Thus, Apostle Paul baptized anew with a spiritual baptism those who had already been baptized by John before the Holy Spirit had been sent by the Lord, and so laid hands on them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. (Acts 19: 2-6) (…). But if it is spiritual, how can baptism be spiritual among those among whom there is no Holy Spirit? (…) The spouse of Christ is one, which is the (Catholic) Church, it is she herself who alone bears sons of God. (…). If therefore, Christ is with us, then Christ is not with the heretics. Then it is obvious they are opponents of Christ and if we gather with Christ, they disperse (Matt. 12:30)(…) But we join custom to truth, and to the Romans' custom (of Pope Stephan) we oppose custom, but the custom of truth. We accept that which Christ and the Apostles delivered to us from the beginning. We that knew none but one Church of God and accounted no baptism holy except that of the holy Church (…). When they (i.e. the heretics) come baptized to us, they are then baptized with the only and true baptism of the Catholic Church (unico et vero Ecclesiae Catholicae baptism) and obtain the regeneration of the layer of life (Epistle 75,

Consequently, Saint Firmilianus stresses that he who is separated from the Church is foreign to the spiritual grace; foreign to the gift and deifying grace of the Holy Spirit. It is not enough, says Saint Firmilianus, to offer names (i.e.: the type of the baptism) in order that sanctification and salvation is truly offered through baptism. These thoughts are repeated by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria in his known work, “Contra Arianos”: “And these too hazard the fullness of the mystery, I mean Baptism; for if the consecration is given to us into the Name of Father and Son, and they do not confess a true Father, because they deny what is from Him and like His Essence, and deny also the true Son, and name another of their own framing as created out of nothing, is not the rite administered by them altogether empty and unprofitable, making a show, but in reality being no help towards religion?” (…) For not he who simply says, ‘O Lord,’ gives Baptism; but he who with the Name has also the right faith. On this account, therefore our Saviour also did not simply command to baptize, but first says, ‘Teach;’ then thus: ‘Baptize into the Name of Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost;’ that the right faith might follow upon learning, and together with faith might come the consecration of Baptism.” (42: 4-11 and 15-21).17 There are many other heresies too, which use the words only, but not in a right sense, as I have said, nor with sound faith, and in consequence the water which they administer is unprofitable, as deficient in piety, so that he who is sprinkled by them is rather polluted by irreligion than redeemed (43: 22-26).

This is a very important position by Athanasius the Great and must be taken seriously into account today when we meet people in the framework of the ecumenical movement who claim that “the limits of the Church is Baptism”.18 By not taking into account the correct – orthodox faith and confession of doctrines, which if some do not possess, they are not Orthodox. They are schismatics, separated from the fullness of the God-given gifts, charismas and operations, grace and unity in the Eucharist which is the identity of the Church in Christ, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God and Father and the salvation of the world.

Let us refer to the opinions of another contemporary of Cyprian, Saint Dionysius the Great, Archbishop of Alexandria (247-264). In his letter to Philemon, a priest of Pope Sextus, he writes: “I received this rule and ordinance from our blessed father, Heraclas. For those who came over from heresies, although they had apostatized from the Church, – or rather had not apostatized, but seemed to meet with them, yet were charged with resorting to some false teacher, – when he had expelled them from the Church he did not receive them back, though they entreated for it, until they had publicly reported all things which they had heard from their adversaries; but then he received them without requiring of them another baptism. For they had formerly received the Holy Spirit from him.”19 Hence, according to Dionysius, we should not rebaptize those who were once baptized in the Church, even if they have consequently lapsed. Jerome confesses that Dionysius “agreed with Cyprian and with the decisions of the Council of Africa, and wrote many letters in relation to this subject.” (De viris illustribus, 69)20. In a not very well-known epistle to Dionysius, “Epistle to Dionysius, Stephen and the presbyters of the Church of Rome”21, he notes: “Those who are baptized in the name of the three persons (of the Holy Trinity), – of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, should not be rebaptized, even if they were baptized by heretics, but only when these heretics do not confess the three persons. Those who come to the Church from other heresies, we baptize.

As we can see, Saint Dionysius the Great expresses the same opinion with Cyprian and later with Athanasius the Great. But as we shall subsequently show, as Saint Dionysius confessed, Basil the Great expressed the opinion which he also applied in practice that it is not necessary to rebaptize just anyone who comes to the Church from various heresies and schisms. In Epistle II to Pope Sextus, Dionysius refers to the case when a believer “came to me weeping, and bewailing himself; and falling at my feet he acknowledged and protested that the baptism with which he had been baptized among the heretics was not of this character, nor in any respect like this, because it was full of impiety and blasphemy. And he said that his soul was now pierced with sorrow, and that he had not confidence to lift his eyes to God, because he had set out from those impious words and deeds. And on this account, he besought that he might receive this most perfect purification, and reception and grace. But I did not dare to do this; and said that his long communion was sufficient for this. For I should not dare to renew from the beginning one who had heard the giving of thanks and joined in repeating the Amen; who had stood by the table and had stretched forth his hands to receive the blessed food; and who had received it, and partaken for a long while of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. But I exhorted him to be of good courage, and to approach the partaking of the saints with firm faith and good hope.”22

This example shows that this practice of the Church to accept certain groups of heretics into the Church without rebaptizing had already begun from that time, and continues until today. This practice is already witnessed in the 3rd and 4th C and is expounded by Basil the Great, as will see further. At the same time, however, it is stressed that for the practice of admission of heretics and schismatics into the Church what was basic and fundamental was their unification with the oneness and communion of the Church and not any “objective” recognition of the sacraments of heretics. Thus, it appears that the principle which is in force is the one of Cyprian. That canonical and charismatic boundaries of the Church coincide, and are especially revealed in practice in the One Eucharist of the real Church, in which those who approach partake in communion, and in this manner, belong to the Church. For there is no Church outside the Eucharist, outside the Liturgical communion. This is the content and meaning of the canonical tradition of the Church. When unity of the Church has been sundered, at exactly that moment, the canons are applied, such as economy, to protect and rebuild unity.

This same canonical practice and theological confession is clearly what Basil the Great employs and expresses in his first canonical epistle to Amphilochius of Iconium (Epistle 183). We will not refer to it entirely. Nevertheless, it has been summarized in all the collections on Canon Law of the Orthodox Church as Canon I of Basil the Great, based on the First Ecumenical Council and reiterated in a special manner in Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council, as in the case of Canon XCV (95) of the Council in Trullo. Basil the Great observes in the beginning of this (letter) canon: “As to your enquiry about the Cathari, a statement has already been made, and you have properly reminded me that it is right to follow the custom obtaining in each region, because those, who at the time gave decision on these points, held different opinions concerning their baptism. But the baptism of the Pepuzeni (i.e.: Montanists) seems to me to have no authority; and I am astonished how this can have escaped Dionysius, acquainted as he was with the canons. The old authorities decided to accept that baptism which in nowise errs from the faith. Thus, they used the names of heresies, of schisms, and of unlawful congregations. By heresies, they meant men who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith; by schisms, men who had separated for some ecclesiastical reasons and questions capable of mutual solution; by unlawful congregations, gatherings held by disorderly presbyters or bishops or by uninstructed laymen.”23 Saint Basil refers to examples of unlawful congregations and schisms, but refers to the Manichæans, of the Valentinians, of the Marcionites, and “Pepuzeni” (Montanists) as heresies, which have substantial differences in faith from the Church. And Saint Basil continues saying, “So it seemed good to the ancient authorities to reject the baptism of heretics altogether, but to admit that of schismatics, on the ground that they still belonged to the Church. As to those who assembled in unlawful congregations, their decision was to join them again to the Church, after they had been brought to a better state by proper repentance and rebuke, and so, in many cases, when men in orders2620 had rebelled with the disorderly, to receive them on their repentance, into the same rank.” Then, concerning the Montanists, Saint Basil says, “What ground is there, then, for the acceptance of the baptism of men who baptize into the Father and the Son and Montanus or Priscilla? For those who have not been baptized into the names delivered to us have not been baptized at all. So that, although this escaped the vigilance of the great Dionysius, we must by no means imitate his error. The absurdity of the position is obvious in a moment, and evident to all who are gifted with even a small share of reasoning capacity.”24 Consequently, the baptism of heretics cannot be accepted.

More specifically, Basil continues to expound the practice (praxis) of the Church: “The Cathari are schismatics; but it seemed good to the ancient authorities, I mean Cyprian and our own Firmilian, to reject all these, Cathari, Encratites, and Hydroparastatæ, by one common condemnation, because the origin of separation arose through schism, and those who had apostatized from the Church had no longer on them the grace of the Holy Spirit, for it ceased to be imparted when the continuity was broken. The first separatists had received their ordination from the Fathers, and possessed the spiritual gift by the laying on of their hands. But they who were broken off had become laymen, and, because they are no longer able to confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away, they had no authority either to baptize or to ordain. And therefore, those who were from time to time baptized by them, were ordered, as though baptized by laymen, to come to the church to be purified by the Church’s true baptism. Nevertheless, since it has seemed to some of those of Asia that, for the sake of management of the majority, their baptism should be accepted, let it be accepted.”25

These last words of Basil the Great show that economy in the Church is applied differently each time, in accordance to the local traditions and customs. Saint Basil respected this practice, even though he believed that we should employ akriveia [exactitude]. Basil recalls the same for the Encratites, in canon 57 (fn.26), for whom he literally notes: “We re-baptize them all. If it be forbidden with you, (as it is at Rome)27 for prudential causes, yet let reason prevail.” This freedom of Basil the Great, a freedom in the Holy Spirit, and his greatness of heart with a fullness of pastoral duty of a hierarch and theologian, pastor, and canonist, was not only particular to him, but also characterized all the other Fathers before and after him. This rule was followed as canonical and liturgical wisdom for the edification of the Church. This is why the authority of Basil the Great is so great. Basil concludes at the end of Canon I, “On every ground let it be enjoined that those who come to us from their baptism be anointed in the presence of the faithful, and only on these terms approach the mysteries.”

This practice is expressed by Basil the Great in Canons I and XLVII(47) and shows that ecclesiastical economy can transcend lawful exactitude [akriveia]. In this case, an unfulfilled baptism of schismatics is not repeated, but received with the Holy Oil of the Holy Spirit, especially bishops accompanied by their flock, so that they may be united to the fullness (pleroma) of the Church, where the Holy Spirit revivifies and completes all that is dead and lacking in them.28 Thus we can say with confidence that the Holy Mysteries do not exist outside or above the Church and their forms are not the criterion of ecclesiality and salvation. However, the Church is the criterion and the seal of all those who come to the Church. Consequently, the Church as a summarized salvation of Christ is the only path of salvation, the Mother of all of us (Galatians 4:26, Hebrews 12:22-24, and Methodius of Mount Olympus, Symposium 8: 5-8).

The position and practice of the Church is traced in the Holy Canons of the Fathers and the Synods (and we already mentioned Canon VIII of Nicaea, Canon VII of Constantinople, and Canon XCV (95) of the Council in Trullo), as well as the Offices of the Church for the reception of heretics. We have as examples Timotheos of Constantinople, 6th C, repeated by George the Priestmonk, and John of Damascus, Methodius of Constantinople, the Book of Prayers (Euchologion) of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the “Interpretation of the commandments of the Lord” (Discourse LXIII, Pandekti) of Nikon Mavroreitis29, and others. All these [views and practices] were later introduced as canonical collections of the Orthodox Church and were translated into Slavonic – “The Rudder” of Ephraim and the “Nomokanon” of Saint Sava – as in other languages.

However, it is characteristic that Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical council begins with the words of the Acts of the Apostles, with the well-known verse 2:46-47, which expresses the ecclesiological-Eucharistic truth: “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” The same canon restates the Epistle of Patriarch Gennadius of Constantinople (5th C) to Martyrius of Antioch and is literally repeated in Canon XCV (95) of the Council in Trullo, where it uses the words from Acts: “THOSE who from the heretics come over to orthodoxy, and to the number of those who should be saved, we receive according to the following order and custom.”30 This expresses the attitude of the Acts of the Apostles. These sacred canons and the practice of the Church add that those who come to the Church in repentance with their rejection of heresy or schism are received with the laying of hands and with Holy Oil, with the phonation, “Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”, and thereafter they receive Holy Communion. The same happens as mentioned in Canon I of Basil the Great. This means that only through entry into the Church, those who were not yet [received] are incorporated in the unity and communion of the Church – in the fellowship of the saved.

To not expound further, we could make the following conclusions: the most significant is not what we recognize when we admit heretics, whom we are obligated to baptize, or others who should receive chrismation with Holy Oil. Rejection of heresy and repentance on their part is obviously preconditional, but the most important is their entrance and union with the Church.31 Thus unfortunately Fr. George Florovsky fails to relate communion and union with the Church, in this essay about the “Boundaries of the Church”.

Hilarion (Troitsky)32 speaks about the admission of heretics in the Church for their gathering in the unity of the Church, in his Epistle on 18 of January 1917 to the American Robert Gardiner, the secretary of “Faith and Order” committee and responsible to organize the Worldwide Conference of Christians (it was at the beginning of the Ecumenical movement). We will not go through the entire epistle33. We will only note the basic formulations of Archbishop Hilarion: the meaning of salvation in the Church is the coming of a person into Her unity, whereas the manner of admission is a secondary matter. Sacramental-charismatic and salvific significance is at the level of the very same communion in the Church, by which one is received into the unity of the Church (repentance, laying of hands, Chrismation), and consequently, with participation in the Holy Eucharist, the sacramental and ecclesiological Body of Christ.

Therefore, the most important is the Mystery of Christ, which is the Church. For this reason, admission to the Church, union with Her, signifies the entry into the fullness of the Church, the fullness of Grace, the fullness of salvation, the fullness of the incorporation into the Body Christ. It is truly an incorporation, an embodiment and a churchification in the Body of the Theanthropos (as Saint Justin Popovich would say). This means entry into the full communion of the Holy Trinity, which is revealed and in which we participate in the gathering of the Church, in Liturgy as the sacrament of the Supper of the Kingdom, here and now, and a foretaste and participation in the eschatological Kingdom.

Fr. Florovsky, as we know, referred to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Church that unites us all, and which is the “House of God” (in his well-known essay, “The House of the Father”34), the dwelling of the Holy Spirit, the pillar and ground of the Truth. The Faith of the Church, the great Mystery of Faith, is not simply a “confession”, as some uphold today, but is the selfsame Church. The correct faith – Orthodoxy – is an action of entry into the fullness of the Church, even if it alone does not constitute a sufficient provision for salvation. For it must always express the deeper entry into the unity of the Church.35 Thus, prior to Holy Communion, in the fullness of liturgical language and practice, we petition, “The unity of faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit…”.

Concluding this brief study, we will cite two fragments from the same work of Fr. George Florovsky: “In the ancient Church the ceremony of initiation was not differentiated. The three sacraments go together: Baptism, Holy Chrismation and Divine Liturgy. The initiation described by Saint Cyril and later by Cavasilas is comprised by all three. (…) The sacramental life of believers is the edification of the Church. Through sacraments and in them, the new life of Christ is extended and conferred to the members of His Body”.36

In this context, it is valuable to note what can be considered as a confession of the very same Fr. George Florovsky: “As a member and a priest of the Orthodox Church, I believe that the Church in which I was baptized and raised ‘is’ in very truth ‘the Church’, i.e. ‘the true’ Church and the ‘only’ true Church. And I believe this for many reasons: owing to personal conviction and to internal confirmation of the Spirit, who breathes into the Sacraments of the Church. Therefore, I am compelled to regard all other Christian Churches as defective, and in many cases I can define the deficiencies of these other Churches accurately enough. Therefore, for me, Christian reunion is simply universal conversion to Orthodoxy. (…) “Judgement” has been given to the Son. No one has been appointed to pre-empt His judgement. Of course, the Church has Her command inside history. The command firstly to preach and preserve the word of truth. There is some rule of faith and order which must be considered as a canon. Whatever exists beyond is an “abnormality”. But this “abnormality” must be healed, and not simply be condemned. This is what justifies an Orthodox to participate in ecumenical dialogue, with the hope that with his witness the Truth of God makes possible to win human beings”.37

This is the ecumenical protopresbyter George Florovsky. We consider the essay on “The Boundaries of the Church” as a product of a young Florovsky, fragmented and lacking clarity. However, he remains a theologian that contemplates, unafraid to theologize and to speak about the Church, because he feels like a son in the house of his Father, and has the freedom in Christ, with which we become “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). This freedom liberates us with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Church of the Living and Philanthropos God, who became man for us men and for our salvation –and the entire world.

Consequently, we cannot separate the boundaries of the economy of God from the limits of the Eucharist. And thus, we cannot expand the charismatic limits beyond the canonical, nor can we restrict the canonical so much so that we exclude the practice of the Church in the reception of heretics. The moment that admission and participation in the unity of the Church is realized, meaning in the Eucharist, then we judge those who come; and moreover, not in an objective manner otherwise we would be objectifying the Sacraments above the Church. This constitutes a paradox, a type of antinomy, yet, in the end, this is the truth.

- - -

1 This Essay was published in the quarterly journal of the Church of Greece, “THEOLOGIA” («Θεολογία), 2010. Volume 4 was dedicated to the important works of Fr. George Florovsky. This address was first introduced in French at the International Conference “Fr. George Florovsky and renewal of Orthodox theology in the 20th C, which took place in Paris, 27-29 November, 2009. This article was translated by Nicholas Pantelopoulos. Translator’s note: The title of Fr. George Florovsky’s work, as it is published in the Collected Works, Vol. XIII, is “The Boundaries of the Church” (FLOROVSKY, George, The Collected Works, Vol. XIII, Ecumenism I: A Doctrinal Approach”, Büchervertriebsansalt, Vaduz, Europa, Liechtenstein, 1989, pp. 36-45.

2 “О границах Церкви”, Путь 44 (July-September 1934), pg. 15-26, and in Greek translation of Florovsky’s “The Limits of the Church”, The Body of the Living Christ (An orthodox understanding of the Church), published, Patriarchal Institute of Patristic Studies, Thessaloniki, 1972, pg. 127-148.

3 With the help of our dear Michel Stavrou, I had the opportunity to read other articles on this subject by Fr. George Florovsky. They are as follows: FAMEREE Joseph, « Les limites de l’ Église: l’apport de Georges Florovsky au dialogue catholique-orthodoxe », Revue théologique de Louvain, 34/ 2 (2003), pp. 137-154. MARENGO Marco, I confine della Chiesa nel pensiero di Georges Florovsky, Tesi di Dottorato, (Firenze 2006). For this subject, there are two very important studies by Metropolitan of Pergamon, John Zizioulas, a dedication to Fr. George Florovsky («Πατήρ Γεώργιος Φλωρόβσκυ: ὁ οἰκουμενικός δάσκαλος», Σύναξη 64/1977, pp. 13-26 (see the current volume of Theologia, pg. 31-48) and the other on the subject of the limits (“Orthodox Ecclesiology and the Ecumenical Movement”, Sourozh 21/1985, pg. 16-27). It is about the lecture which was delivered on 13-02-1985, at Ladbroke Grove, London.

4 See, “Провлематика христианского воссоединенеия”, Путь 37 (February, 1934 -supplement), pg. 1-15, [Translator’s notes, and a Greek translation in this article in THEOLOGIA, pg. 119-136].

5 FLOROVSKY, G. “Οι Ανατολικοί Πατέρες του δ’ αιώνα”, translated by P. Ralli, published by P. Pournara, Thessaloniki 2006.

6 FLOROVSKY, G. “Οι βυζαντινοί Πατέρες των στ’-η’ αιώνων”, translated by P. Ralli, published by P. Pournara, Thessaloniki 1993.

7 An analysis of the ecclesiological positions of Saint Cyprian was made, before Fr. George, by B. A. Troitsky (the afterwards archbishop and saint, Ilarion, Confessor of Christ, +1929) in his post- graduate study: “Очеркц цз из ицсмориицц о Церквицц, Сергиев Посад”, 1912 (it was republished on Творения, tome 1, Moscow 2004, pp. 253-308). Also, the then layman John Zizioulas (currently Metropolitan of Pergamon) in his doctoral thesis, “On the Unity of the Church in the Holy Eucharist and the Bishop during the first three centuries”, Gregory, Athens 1990, pp. 121-134, mentions Saint Cyprian. Soon, we will publish our own study on the teaching of Saint Cyprian on Baptism and his positions concerning the canonical and charismatic limits of the Church, which he considers identical.

8 Many Fathers of the Church speak about economy. See Gregory the Theologian, Homily 21, 34, PG 35, 1124Z, Homily 21, 13, PG 35, 1096, etc. The position of Saint Evlogios of Alexandria concerning divine economy, see Photius the Great, Bibliotheca, 227, publ. by R. Henry, Les Belles Lettres, Paris 1964, v. IV, pp. 113-114.

9 Concerning Trinitarian economy of grace of the salvation by Apostle Paul and the Fathers, see more in my doctoral thesis, “The ecclesiology of Apostle Paul”, publ. Gregory, Athens 1967, especially chapter 1.

10 This is exactly what Florovsky means when he speaks about the faith in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which reveals her nature, which is not of this world, and consequently is primarily the object of faith. By expressing the Symbol of Faith in the Church, we position it together with God Himself and confess Her divinity and holiness. In the Church, we believe and can only believe, because it is the Body of Christ, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23). The name of the Church as the Body of Christ links Her being with the Mystery of Divine Incarnation, with the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, – and is perpetually alive, and the irrevocable basis of the visibility of the Church comprising the realization of that event that the “Word became flesh” (John 1:14). The teaching about the Church as being visible and simultaneously invisible, historically given and Divine at the same time, is the continuation and unfolding of the Christological doctrine in the spirit of the definition of the faith of Chalcedon. Only from Her profound ecclesiastical experience of the doctrine of Chalcedon can we understand the Church in Her fullness. Or, in reverse, through the doctrine of Chalcedon we can know the Theanthropic nature of the Church, [this is a paraphrase from the article of Florovsky, “The House of the Father”, published in Путь 7 (April 1926), pp. 63-85, see the Greek translation, of Arch. Meletius Kalamara, on FLOROVSKY, G. An Anatomy of Problems of Faith”, Rigopoulos, Thessaloniki 1977, pp. 100-146]. This article proves the view, with which we agree, that the boundaries of the Church coincide, on the one hand with the boundless limits of Divine Economy, consequently including all, and on the other with the specific canonical limits of the Church revealed in the Holy Eucharist.

11 See the important text of FLOROVSKY, George, “Confessional Loyalty in the Ecumenical Movement”, in Intercommunion, D. Baillie, -J. Mash (ed.) (Harper and Bros, New York 1952), pp. 196-205, and the Greek translation as “Inter-communion: Ὁμολογιακὴ πιστότης ἐντός τῆς οἰκουμενικῆς κινήσεως», in FLOROVSKY, George, “Θέματα Ορθοδόξου Ὁρθοδόξου Θεολογίας”, Artos Zois, Athens 1973, pp. 211-220.

12 Translated by Alexander Roberts and William Rambaut. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. .

13 The position of Cyprian is found in summary in his own Synodical epistle 50 (since it was written by the Synod), which is included as a special Canon in the canonical collections of the Church. Concerning Saint Cyprian and his canon, the Fathers of the Synod in Trullo (in Canon II, where in the end the canon of Cyprian is referenced) say: “It has also seemed good to this holy Council, that the eighty-five canons, received and ratified by the holy and blessed Fathers before us, (…) Moreover the Canon set forth by Cyprian, Archbishop of the country of the Africans and Martyr, and by the Synod under him, which has been kept only in the country of the aforesaid Bishops, according to the custom delivered down to them.” [Alivizatos, A., “The sacred canons and the Ecclesiastical laws”, Apostoliki Diakonia, Athens 1949, pp. 75-76]. The underlined words were possibly the reason for the particular history of this canon, which is ecclesiastically correct. For in the East, as in the case of Cyprian, it was understood that among heretics, even schismatics, there is no salvific baptism, because the Holy Spirit does not impart itself outside of the Church. However, when the Church received schismatics and heretics who confessed the Holy Trinity, in the East and in Rome, by economy they would not rebaptize (see. Canon VIII of the Council of Arelate in 314, canon VIII of the Council of Nicaea, the Council of Carthage in 348, Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council, Canon XCV in Trullo, which repeats the former canon, and Canon I of Basil the Great).

14 See ZIZIOULA, John, “Ἡ ἑνότης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας” [The Unity of the Church”], pp. 127 and 186.

15 This is the known Epistle no. 75, which was preserved in Latin alongside with the Epistles of Saint Cyprian (Bayard, Correspondence, v. 2, pp. 280-308). In this epistle, Saint Firmilian writes to Cyprian a very severe critique about Pope Stephen and his view, as well as his threats that anyone who disagrees with him will be excommunicated. These have resulted in many… Disagreements with all the Churches and to cut himself off from the unity of love, and to make himself a stranger in all respects from his flock, and to rebel against the sacrament of faith” (75, 4, 2). Concerning the limits of the Church, it is noteworthy that Basil the Great valued Saint Firmilian, whom he consequently succeeded, having before him the ecclesiastical tradition which he inherited from him. Although later he would accept certain heretics without baptism, Basil the Great preserved the theological core which Saint Firmilian upheld. For what is most important is the reintegration of heretics into the unity of the Church and not an “objectified” acceptance of Baptism outside the Church.

16 Translated by Robert Ernest Wallis. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. .

17 ATHANASIUS, “Contra Arianos” Discourse II (42 :14, 15-21) (Translation Philip Schaff).

18 ZIZIOULAS, John, Ἡ ἑνότης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας” [The Unity of the Church], ex. pp. 127, 126, 129. Although John Zizioulas correctly comments when discussing Saint Cyprian that the faith and Orthodoxy of Cyprian is an ecclesiological given. The correct faith cannot be, surely, a means of salvation as a self-existing means, but is dependent on the entire devotion of the faithful to the Catholic Church (…) The Catholic Church is the one which incarnates the fullness of Orthodoxy, the Holy Eucharist and all the means of salvation, every sacrament: Ordination and Baptism. Due to the ecclesiological content of the Eucharist, schismatics and heretics who do not partake in Her, cannot perform valid sacraments. For Cyprian, the basis of “validity” of baptism of heretics is: if they had partaken in the unity of Holy Eucharist, they would have partaken in the charismatic and salvific life of the Church. Cyprian expresses this position clearly, that Eucharistic unity reveals the pleroma (fullness) of the unity of the Church. See Cyprian, Epistle 69:5-6.

19 EUSEBIUS, “Church History”, Book VII, Section 4. Translation Philip Schaff.

20 The English translation of Saint Jerome’s account in De viris iIllustribus, Chapter 69, reads, “Consenting to the doctrine of Cyprian and the African synod, on the rebaptizing of heretics, he sent many letters to different people, which are yet extant;” (Translated by Ernest Cushing Richardson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 3. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. .

21 The original epistle has been preserved in Syrian translation only (See Cardinal PITRA, Analecta Sancta, Vol. IV, p. 170).

22 EUSEBIUS, “Church History” Book VII, Section 9. Translation Philip Schaff.

23 BASIL the Great, Concerning the Canons (Canonica Prima), Epistle CLXXXVIII to Amphilochius, Paragraph I. Translation by Philip Schaff.

24 BASIL the Great, Ibid.

25 BASIL the Great, Ibid.

26 This canon addresses Enratites, Saccophorians, and Apotactites.

27 Translator’s note: This text is taken directly from the Canons and it is slightly worded differently in the English translation of the Epistle. The phrase “as it is at Rome” was most likely added as a clarification to the Canon XLVII. The actual Epistle reads, “All these I re-baptize on the same principle. If among you their re-baptism is forbidden, for the sake of some arrangement, nevertheless let my principle prevail.” (Translation by Philip Schaff).

28 The prayer of ordination is very characteristic: “Divine Grace always heals the sick and completes what is lacking”. This is not random, such a prayer of ordination; it demonstrates that in the Church the Holy Spirit completes with its Grace, through Chrismation, whatever is lacking during the reception of those with an unfulfilled baptism.

29 11th C.

30 The Seven Ecumenical Councils, Philip Schaff.

31 The importance of unity with the Church is shown in the ancient confessions of Faith: “Lord Jesus Christ, Shepherd and Lamb, receive me your penitent servant, and join me and unite me in your Holy Church”.

32 Fr. George Florovsky mentions him in only one Footnote, but it seems that he had not read his works, which were not widely known moreover in the Russian diaspora.

33 This letter was published many times. Here we use the Russian edition of 1995, of the Meeting of the Lord Monastery in Moscow, in a collection volume with title: “Единство Церкви и Всемирная конференция Христианста”, pp. 52-105. This last edition in Творения. Т. 3, Стеренский монастыр.ыр, (Москва 2004), pp. 495-540. In this text, Saint Hilarion recalls the Metropolitans Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and Philaret (Drozdov) of Moscow, with whom he agrees on the question of the limits of the Church. He critiques the position of Saint Augustine and the distinction he makes between “having sacraments” and “having sacraments with benefit”, considering this as the start of the scholastic distinction between the reality and activity of the Sacrament. “In Augustine the principle of the Roman Catholic teaching on opus operatum (which Florovsky seems to adopt) is evident, and it signifies that the sacrament is independent from the Church, but only dependent upon some expressed forms”. We saw that Saint Firmilianus of Cappadocia protested this opinion, whom Hilarion references, as well as Dionysius of Alexandria (pp. 65, 69, 76). In the end, he characteristically concludes: “the position of the opponents of Pope Stephen about the possibility of the existence of certain acts in the reception of heretics and schismatics in the Church is explained only with the condition that these Fathers of the Church found that sometimes for the peace and benefit of the Church it was best not to ask to rebaptize, believing in the sacramental and charismatic power of the very same union with the Church” (pp. 76).

34 See “The House of the Father”, published in Russian in Путь 7 (April 1926), pp. 63-85, see the greek translation of Archbishop Meletios Kalamaras on Florovsky, G. Ἀνατομία Προβλημάτων Πίστεως, Rigopoulos, Thessaloniki 1977, pp. 100-146.

35 ZIZIOULAS, John, “Ἡ ἑνότης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας” [The Unity of the Church], p. 126.

36 FLOROVSKY, G., «Ἀπολύτρωση» στὴ Δημιουργία καὶ Ἀπολύτρωση», Ἔργα 3, translated by Palli, Pournara, Thessaloniki 1983, pp. 176, 179.

37 FLOROVSKY, G., “Inter-communion: Confessional loyalty in the ecumenical movement”, from the Greek translated by A. Koumantos, ΦΛΩΡΟΒΣΚΥ Γ., Θέματα Όρθόδοξης Θεολογίας, Artos Zois, Athens 1973, pp. 211-220.

<![CDATA[‘Monstrous’: Orthodox leaders slam LGBT law that lets teens ‘change gender’ – Compiled by Fr. Mark Hodges for Lifesite News]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/monstrous-orthodox-leaders-slam-lgbt-law-that-lets-teens-change-gender https://orthodoxethos.com/post/monstrous-orthodox-leaders-slam-lgbt-law-that-lets-teens-change-gender ATHENS, Greece, October 10, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Greece has passed a controversial sex-change law that Orthodox leaders say will destroy mankind.

The “Change of Sex” bill passed overwhelmingly, by 171 votes, in Parliament with strong support from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. It grants legal recognition to sex changes without any requirement other than the desire of the applicant, allowing anyone age 15 or older to legally change gender.

Tsipras spoke against what the country’s dominant Orthodox Church calls “Holy Tradition” and the Church’s teaching on the family in heated words to Parliament.

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Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addresses Parliament.

“Absolutely no Tradition, no perception of family, calls for people to be sidelined or tossed aside into a social and institutional abyss,” the Greek Prime Minister said.

The proposal was adopted by the Greek Parliament upon its first reading and immediately drew fire from Orthodox Church leaders, who unanimously condemned the law as “immoral” and “monstrous.”

Greece was thrown into upheaval last week when the Leftist Syriza party proposed making sex change a matter of personal choice completely unrelated not only to biology but to any medical or psychological diagnosis confirming gender dysphoria. The unconditional choice law even goes so far as to make sex change legally recognized without therapy, testing, counseling, hormones, or surgery.

Greek law previously required legal gender changes to be after a diagnosis of gender identity disorder and concrete steps to change gender have taken place, such as sex “change” surgery. But homosexual groups argued that anyone at any time for any reason should be able to demand that the legal system recognize them as the opposite sex.

The new law makes legal gender identity change by simple declaration up to two times back and forth, and applies to minors as young as 15.

"I can’t wait!” 40 year-old Raffaela told Reuters before the final vote. “The moment the bill passes, I’m changing my identity!”

The Holy Synod, an official gathering of Orthodox bishops in Greece, warned that the proposed law is an “affront to society” and a threat to “the sanctity of family.”

“The proposed bill … attacks the sacred institution of the family, contradicts good morals and common sense and destroys man,” the bishops unanimously stated. “Instead of diminishing confusion and mental disorders, it will increase them and give rise to a dangerous social phenomenon.” They added that it will create “an explosive situation in schools as well.”

The bishops issued a joint document delineating the Christian view of sex. Male/female gender is “the basis of psychosomatic complementarity in the mystery of life and love,” the hierarchs explained. One’s gender “is not eligible to be changed, but is a Divine gift to man to be used in his sanctification.”

“Gender is neither freely chosen nor altered at will,” the Synod asserted, and Greek law must not be subject to “the scientifically unsubstantiated statement of the citizen, which may later be changed.”

The Orthodox leaders warned that compassion for “the afflicted and wronged fellow man” is not behind the proposal but instead the coercion of powerful lobbying groups, which result “in the dissolution of social cohesion and the spiritual death of man.”

The prelates called upon parliament to “withdraw the bill” and for the world to stop “strengthening tension, division and absurdity, to contribute to the spiritual uplifting of our citizens.”

The Synod concluded by reiterating that Christians love the sinner, and part of that love is to tell the truth about harmful behaviors like sodomy. “The Church surrounds all people with love and understanding indiscriminately, but always desiring their salvation must demonstrate the failure of critical decisions.”

Individual Orthodox leaders spoke out against the bill as well. “You are promoting a bill which denies the Triune God and Creator and casts blasphemy upon Him,” Metropolitan Kosmas of Aetolia (pictured above wrote to Parliament. “This new law is unnatural, it encroaches upon the psychosomatic identity of the person, fosters depravity, and aims to thwart a person on his (spiritual) path.”

“The bones of our saints and heroes are trembling!” Kosmas said.

“We expect that you (Parliament) will raise your voice against this bill,” the Metropolitan urged before the vote. “The people are searching for role models, Greek leaders, who will save the Motherland and the people.”

“Today they tell us that God did not create man and woman, driving the idea from the minds of our children. Every man can easily become a woman, and every woman a man,” Metropolitan Nicholas of Phthiotis argued in a sermon. “Do you know why they are doing this? They want to ensure, at any cost, that homosexuals will be able to adopt children.”

“Do you see how far these Greek Orthodox deputies have sunk?” Nicholas preached. “They have brought blasphemy upon the human body ... It is madness for any reasonable person, and a satanic deed from the point of view of God’s law. But some people are trying to make our state a state of sin.”

“Gender is sacred,” Bishop Nicholas of Mesogaia said in a TV interview. “It is a precious thing for a woman to know about her feminine nature, and for a man to be aware of his male nature.”

“Independent Greeks” Deputy Kostas Katsikis took a bold step contrary to his party by opposing the sex change law. Katsikis called the law “a threat to the avaton of the Holy Mountain,” which keeps Mount Athos, a reclusive monastery-only island, exclusively male populated.

The leading monks on Mount Athos wrote to the Ministers of Justice and Education and Religious Affairs as well as Parliament, stating their concern for “the Orthodox faith of the Fatherland” in light of the sex change law. “We wonder what is left for our future,” the monks confess.

<![CDATA[Lecture: Deaconesses Past, Present and Future by Protodeacon Patrick Mitchell – Holy Trinity Seminary, Seminary Hall]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/lecture-deaconesses-past-present-and-future-by-protodeacon-patrick-mitchell https://orthodoxethos.com/post/lecture-deaconesses-past-present-and-future-by-protodeacon-patrick-mitchell Holy Trinity Seminary, Jordanville, NY, in Seminary Hall

When: Monday, October 23, 5:00 pm

Some Orthodox Christians today are trying to re-institute the ancient Church order of “deaconesses,” despite the uneven history of that female office in the Church, as well as that of the male diaconate. Protodeacon Patrick Mitchell surveys the Church’s early experience of both male and female “deacons” and concludes that they were never the same order, that the female order was inherently problematic for the Church because it appeared to elevate women over men, and that the “ordination” of women as deaconesses made less and less sense as the Church’s understanding of holy orders evolved. That explains why much of the Orthodox Church never had deaconesses, and why even those segments of the Church in antiquity and in the Byzantine era where they did serve eventually abandoned the order

Protodeacon Patrick Mitchell is a former Washington Bureau Chief of Investor’s Business Daily, the author of four books on politics and religion, and a contributor of chapters to four other books on foreign policy, international banking, and American history. He has also appeared on many radio and television shows including ABC’s Nightline and Face the Nation, CBS’s Evening News, NBC’s Today, and CNN’s Crossfire and Larry King Live.

Protodeacon Patrick served seven years in the United States Army as an infantry and counterintelligence officer. He was received into the Orthodox Church with his family in 1990 by our own Dean, Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster, at the Protection of the Holy Mother of God OCA parish in Falls Church, VA, and was ordained to the diaconate by the OCA’s Metropolitan Herman in 2007. He was released to ROCOR in 2013 and is now attached to St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC, where he has served since 2012.

Protodeacon Patrick recently earned the degree of Master of Theology in Orthodox Studies with Distinction from the University of Winchester in England, where he is currently a doctoral student under Fr. Andreas Andreopoulos. His master’s thesis was titled “The Disappearing Deaconess: How the Hierarchical Ordering of Church Offices Doomed the Female Diaconate.” He spoke on that subject at a conference in California earlier this month sponsored by the St. Phoebe Center for the Deaconess.

<![CDATA[God Forbid that We Boast in Anything but the Cross of Christ – Homily on the Sunday before the Elevation of the Holy Cross by Protopresbyter Peter Heers]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/god-forbid-that-we-boast-in-anything-but-the-cross-of-christ https://orthodoxethos.com/post/god-forbid-that-we-boast-in-anything-but-the-cross-of-christ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Sunday before the Elevation of the Cross, brothers and sisters, and the Church presents before us the Holy Cross in preparation - and then with the Sunday after the feast, in thanksgiving - for the great feast.

We, with Paul, throughout all the generations, boast of the Cross, and only in the cross. The Cross is our boast as Christians! And, as we heard in the Epistle, Paul, the great Apostle, spent most of his time preaching the Gospel face to face with the Judaizers - those Jews who, as he says, sought to make a good showing, a good impression, in the flesh of the converts. And that means they sought to have a good word, a good image with the unbelievers, those Jews who had not converted.

These were Christians, Jewish Christians, who remained tied down, bound to the law, and the perception of the law. They taught the Christians in Galatia to keep the law, including circumcision, and they meant the ceremonial law, which had been fulfilled in Christ, and replaced by the freedom of grace, and in this, as St. Paul says elsewhere, they taught another gospel. They taught another gospel! Nothing less than another gospel, because they refused to see the fulfillment, and they remained with the type, with the shadow, with the purely human, which does not redeem, which does not make people new creations in Christ.

This is who he speaks of in the Epistle that we heard. Let's hear this excerpt again. He says, "As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised; only that they may not suffer persecution for the Cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the Law, but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may boast in your flesh." And listen to this, this is the key, "But God forbid that I should boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal 6:12-14)

The question is why did the Jewish Christians teach this? Why did they seek to remain with the old Law…to be trapped in the mentality that we are still in the type, in the shadow, waiting for fulfillment. They sought to appear well in the eyes of those unrepentant Jews who claimed that the Jewish converts had abandoned the traditions of the fathers. That is, they sought to compromise with the spirit of the world and the unbelief of the Jews, with the enemies of the Cross! To compromise, in order to avoid reproof, because they did not believe. Underneath all of this worldliness, this resistance, was ultimately lack of faith in the sacrifice of our Lord. Apparently, they had not, yet tasted of regeneration and they wanted to avoid persecution. They wanted to avoid the Cross!

The history of the Church is full of such people, up to our day, and in our day perhaps we have many - many of such false, traitorous Christians. Saint John Chrysostomos says that they prefer to offend and even reject Christ in order to be pleasing to men; rather we offend God in order to please men! They are men pleasers, co-workers with the enemies of the Cross. The life of the Cross requires sacrifice. Christ requires of us sacrifice, because sacrifice is love. When we do not sacrifice, we do not love; when we do not love we cannot be united to the God Who is love.

The Cross is our path, our opening to the life of love with the Master and the Eternal life that we all seek. If we put aside the Cross, we put aside the path to God; we put aside love. Only those who lift up the Cross of Christ are led into the freedom of grace. If we deny the Cross we deny the sacrifice, we deny the crucifixion of our intellect. Then we remain enslaved, as they were, to a shadow, but a shadow, of the greatness of the Gospel that is being offered to us.

And inevitably they serve two masters: the world and Christ. They become two-faced, double-minded people. We have many of those today in the Church. Two-faced, double-minded: one thing among the faithful, another thing in the world, one thing among the monastics, another thing amongst the world’s leaders. One thing here and one thing there. They are two-faced, double-minded inevitably because they deny the power of the Cross in their lives. They seek ease and comfort; this is the greatest heresy of our day: a Christianity without the Cross; a Christianity without sacrifice; a Christianity without asceticism. Christianity without love!

We talk of love today, we hear about love all the time, and most of the time it has nothing to do with the love of God, but [rather] the love of self! And we remain trapped in self-satisfaction: we are good [we believe] and we [live] according to all of the law, fulfilling it; we are just in the eyes of God, so we believe. We are satisfied with ourselves, with our community, with our identity, but, alas, the love of Christ, the love of His Cross is far from us. These people who remain in the shadow, who remain in self-love, in self-satisfaction, they are living traps within the Church, they distort the Christian worldview, the phronema, and the Christian ethos.

Whether they fall toward the right or to the left, it matters little, they are still of the world. This is one aspect, one area, where many do not see and fall. There are those who are of this mindset on the right, and in the temptation on the right. The zealots for the form, the zealots for the packaging, for the law, for the secondary, the tertiary or even the contrary. There are zealots for many things, thinking that in this they are saving or being saved and yet they are of the world, and yet to sacrifice and love. They are not able to hierarchize the things, to put them in the right order. They don't see the source of all the goodness and the blessings.

First Christ; first the Cross - and then everything else, including our worldly identity. And only in Christ, and only in the Cross, does the rest have meaning, depth and regeneration. Only in Christ, and in His Cross! And so when we lose the hierarchy of things, we lose everything. We think we are saving the form, the history, the identity, the Nation, but in fact we are losing all of that, because we have lost Christ! Only He can save the nation, only He can save the people, only He can save the Church, only He can save us. And when we deny the sacrifice of the Cross, we deny His salvific grace, the freedom that comes with grace. . . We are putting the cart before the horse, and we go nowhere in the end.

And on the left, many fall also because they seek to serve two masters, the world and the Lord. So you have the worldly, the modernists, the innovators, that deny the crucifixion of their mind, and of their body, and of their life [in this world]. They mock asceticism, they mock abstinence, they have zeal for the externals, they don't have zeal for exactitude of the faith, of confession of the faith, and those who do, they call fundamentalists. They speak of updating, but what they mean is changing, perverting, distorting, compromising with the world, because they cannot say with Paul that, "God forbid that I should boast, in anything except the Cross of Christ."

Can we say that? Can we say that? Or do we boast in ourselves, in our achievements, in our supposed gifts. This is on the personal level: many of us can spot that - the arrogance, the vanity, the pride in ourselves; not all of us, but some of us, many of us, can do that. Can we spot the other kind? That we have pride in an identity, which is worldly and earthly, and we think that this saves… that we belong to the club of the saved. "God forbid that I should boast in anything except the Cross of Christ, by whom the world,” (both on the right and the left), “has been crucified to me and I to the world.” And then he says: for in Christ Jesus, “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything”; and we can add as we heard the other Epistle read today, “neither Greek nor Jew”, neither Russian nor American “neither slave nor free, neither man nor woman” (Gal 3:28-29); neither circumcision or uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

Are we being regenerated? Have we overcome the passions? Have we become free from the passions, the delusions of this age, the identity of the world? The identity of the world! Many of us think that there is salvation in our worldly identity. Brothers and sisters, in heaven there is not one Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, American Orthodox soul. There is only an Orthodox Christian soul who lived out his life in America, or in Russia, or in Greece. There are no identities of this world in the next world. Let us not confuse this temporary, quick passing life, and our identity in it, with regeneration, with the Cross of Christ, with sacrifice and love! They are two different things. We can have one, Christ and the Cross [and] all the rest is regenerated. This is the glory of the history of the Church! That the Cross came, Christ came, and regenerated and renewed and saved and brought up to heaven and made holy human endeavors in the arts, in literature and music. But first Christ and His Cross, and then this regeneration and then this new creation, as Paul says.

And he gives us this rule of faith. He gives us this rule of faith and he says, as many as walk according to this rule of regeneration, of crucifixion of the mind, of crucifixion of this worldly identity, peace and mercy be upon him, and upon the Israel of God! He says [this] to the phyletists of his age, to those who are trapped in the identity of this world, the Jews, who had a monopoly on Christ for thousands of years! Who could claim that their culture, their identity, should be the identity of everyone on the face of the earth, except the Jews, from which came our Savior?!. . .They could claim it? No they could not.

[For], it was for a time, it was but a shadow leading to the light! So he says to his fellow Jews, peace and mercy be upon you, if you walk according to this rule; if [however] you remain in this world (whether you be on the right or the left it matters little), if you remain a foreigner to the Cross and the sacrifice, you are lost!

He bears, he says - and here he finishes - the marks of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we also, imitating Paul, be made worthy to bear the marks of our Lord Jesus Christ, the crucifixion of our intellect, the crucifixion of our worldly identity!

In the ancient Church when they were persecuted, they said what? I am a Christian from Jerusalem and not from Athens? . . .No. They said: “I am a Christian”, period. I am a Christian, period. . . “I bear the marks of our Lord Jesus Christ, crucify me and give me life!” they said to their persecutors. This is what we need in these end days, we need such Christians… may we be made worthy, may we be made worthy…

September 24, 2017

Transcribed by Anna-Athanasia

Edited for better readability and clarity.

<![CDATA[On the “Great and Holy Council” of Crete: A Response to E. Sotiropoulos – By Protopresbyters Fr. Peter Heers D.Th. and Fr. Anastasios Gotsopoulos]]> https://orthodoxethos.com/post/on-the-great-and-holy-council-of-crete-a-response-to-e-sotiropoulos https://orthodoxethos.com/post/on-the-great-and-holy-council-of-crete-a-response-to-e-sotiropoulos INTRODUCTION

On the one year anniversary of the "Council" of Crete, the following article was published in Greek on the website romfea.gr. The intent of the article was twofold: both to commemorate the anniversary of the gathering and to provide a response to a misleading article written by Evangelos Sotiropoulos, a journalist at the Huffington Post. The translation and editing of the article has been greatly delayed, for which we apologize to the many subscribers to this site and others who have written asking for a response in English to Mr. Sotiropoulos' article. In spite of the delay, we believe our readers will still find the article quite timely, informative and helpful.

There is another reason for the delay in publishing the text, first in Greek and then in English. Responding to critics, especially those who reach a wide, but uninformed audience, is a venture doomed to bring mixed results.

On the one hand, a response will assist those confused or mislead by the critic's distortions to see the entire picture and put each aspect of the problem in context, hopefully thus dispelling the cloud of misinformation which has been created. On the other hand, a response will give credence and legitimacy to the critic and the appearance that he is qualified to speak on these matters. This is all the more true when responding to non-academics or theologically uninformed journalists who write for highly politicized newspapers.

In spite of our reservations, we offer this analsysis and response for the sake of the faithful and good-willed readers and pray that it will serve to establish them on the rock of faith.

- - -

The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) invited the Protopresbyter Fr. Peter Heers, Professor of the Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, New York, to speak on the Council of Crete at the yearly clergy gathering of the Diocese of Eastern America (3/21/2017),2 in the presence of His Eminence, Archbishop Hilarion, and several hierarchs.

Mr. Evangelos Sotiropoulos criticized Fr. Heers’s homily in a text that was published originally on the website “The Huffington Post” and in Greek translation on ROMFEA. Calling upon the fact that he had traveled to Crete, Mr. Sotiropoulos characterizes Fr. Peter’s criticism as “malicious words” containing “erroneous declarations, misleading statements, false equivalents and omissions”! Since, however, he has not offered sufficient support to his criticism, he is in danger of fulfilling the words of the psalm: “upon his own pate shall his unrighteousness come down…”

In more detail:

1. The number of participants in the Pan-Orthodox Council. Mr. Sotiropoulos takes issue with the speaker for his reference to the small number of bishops that participated in the Council (about 160 bishops). He did not, however, rightly perceive the blame of the Council with regard to the number of bishops nor the comparison to certain of the Ecumenical Councils! Of course the problem is not the number of participants itself, but why we have arrived at this number. Why should the number of bishop-members have been so limited when today there is no technical obstacle for a gathering together in one place, in Council, all Orthodox bishops in the world, the number of which does not surpass 900. If in 325, 451, or 787 AD, 318, 630, or 350 bishops respectively could and did come together, it is incomprehensible that 800 or 900 bishops could not come together in our day for such an event! Is it not?

Let us be sincere, dear ones! The limitation of the number of participating bishops has nothing to do with ecclesiological or theological criteria but with matters of phyletism, tactics, and political balances, or, to put it more simply, some of the organizers feared that if the participation of all Orthodox bishops was allowed the votes in their favor would not add up! Let us reflect on the number of bishops of the Church of Russia (368) and it will become clear why the participation of all the bishops in the Council of Crete was not allowed (One of the supporters of the Council, the hieromonk Dositheos, of the Holy Monastery of Tatarna, suggests the same thing, indirectly but clearly!) The criteria that decreed the non-participation of all the bishops were not based on ecclesiology but on phyletistic opportunism.

Yet we cannot pass over the serious ecclesiological issue that is raised, according to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s leading theologian-bishop, Metropolitan of Pergamus John (Zizioulas), by the intentional exclusion of a portion of the bishops. The Metropolitan writes: “A Synod, therefore, is not an institution that lies above the local Church; it is an institution that expresses the unity, the coincidence, the consent and the reciprocation of local Churches. Something like this is secured – by way of structure and organization – by the rightful participation in Synods by all of the bishops… This is why – from an ecclesiological aspect – every kind of Synod that excludes the presence of bishops (unless there is an unavoidable historical necessity) from participating in a Synod, is considered a serious deviation. There have been – and there still are – such ecclesiologically unjustified deviations…But when a Synod can be comprised of all participants, and yet certain participants among them are chosen and are rendered masters over the remaining bishops – [it is] an act that corrodes very dangerously the foundations of Ecclesiology and creates anomalies and digressions. . .Naturally, the ideal situation is the assembling of all bishops.”3

2. “Great and Holy” or broadened “Council of Primates”? The phrase in Fr. Peter’s lecture, that the Council of Crete was a “Council of the Primates with their companies”, was borrowed from the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, who justifies it fully in his well-documented intervention in the meeting of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece (November, 2016),4 to which we refer Mr. Sotiropoulos. Of course, it is not we who belittle the bishops but the manner in which the Council operated, which compelled a moderate bishop of the Church of Greece to deny his participation in the representation because he does not want to be a “decoration”! Furthermore, the fact that on the official website of the Council all the bishop-members are shown as having signed the texts when in fact a significant number of them, more than 40, did not accept and did not sign the text on the “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian World” shows no respect to the episcopal office! Finally, no respect is shown to the episcopal office when the Council’s organizers tolerated the Archbishop of Cyprus signing “in their stead” on behalf of those bishops who, in fact, refused to sign the above-mentioned text (see further down § 4 d).

3. The voting. On the topic of voting, Fr. Heers’s lecture noted that the vote of the Primates had decisive value and it alone was really considered, independently of the will of their local Churches (see further down § 4 a, b, c).

4. The Conciliar abolition of conciliarity. Mr. Sotiropoulos accuses Fr. Peter because the latter claimed the Council leads to an “abolition of conciliarity” in the Orthodox Church. In fact, to support his criticism Mr. Sotiopoulos reproves the conciliar decision (May 2016) of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece as being foreign to the conciliar practice of the Church. Mr. Sotiropoulos shows his ignorance of conciliar norms and history when he writes: “The Church of Greece arrived in Crete with specific demands to change the Pre-conciliar documents; this positioning, especially in advance of a Council, is questionable at best. Why? Well, for one, a rigid, pre-determined approach removes the Holy Spirit from working amongst the bishops when they assemble in Council.”

Mr. Sotiropoulos’ criticisms are baseless, both from an historical and a theological standpoint:

a) According to the essence of the conciliar institution and the conciliar practice of our Church, the bishop-members of a Council, even of an Ecumenical one, participate in the discussion on matters of faith expressing not their personal opinions but carrying the ecclesiastical mindset of their local Church, which, of course, is also their own mindset. Basically they function as mandataries of their local Church. And if this holds true for every bishop-member of a local Council, it holds much truer when a local Church has conciliarly named a specific representation, which will participate in a Pan-Orthodox or Ecumenical Council and has bound it conciliarly to a specific theological position. It is inconceivable for the mandataries to act spurning the will of the commander whom they represent.

By conciliar decision, the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece elected particular members as representatives to the Council of Crete and by a unanimous conciliar decision bound the representation to express and support a specific theological position regarding the larger theological and ecclesiological issue. The unanimous conciliar decision was not the result of a hurried and careless judgment but the fruit of discussions and reflection of several months that were carried out not only in the Church of Greece but in almost all of Orthodoxy. The unanimous conciliar decision of the hierarchy of the Church of Greece did not leave open the possibility of adjustment of its decisions by the members of the representation. Indeed, how could the alteration of a dogmatic position be allowed? The representation was obliged to express and support the specific theological and ecclesiological position and only this position.

Furthermore, this decision of the hierarchy before the Pan-Orthodox Council is neither foreign to the conciliar practice of our Church nor “questionable”, as Mr. Sotiropoulos claims. We bring to mind:

i) The Council of Rome, composed of 125 bishops, which was represented at the Sixth Ecumenical Council by its delegation, in addition to the papal legates. The representation brought to the Sixth Ecumenical the written decision of the Council of Rome.5

ii) The papal legates-representatives of pope St. Leo the Great at the Robber Council of Ephesus (449), who, upon seeing that the Council was veering into a Christological teaching opposite to that of the pope, St. Leo, whom they represented and to whom they were bound, said the “contradicitur” and departed from the Council.6

iii) The legates of the pope, St. Leo, at the Fourth Ecumenical Council (451), who brought to the Council the renowned “Tome of Leo” and required that its Christology be accepted. It is noteworthy that, while they refused to negotiate in the least with respect to St. Leo’s Christological teachings, which the Council finally accepted, they were accommodating on issues of a technical nature, which are of lesser importance (e.g. they discussed and finally accepted the composition of another text and not the “Tome” itself as the oros of faith).

iv) The representatives of the Pope and of the Eastern Patriarchates under Arab occupation at the other Ecumenical Councils, who brought epistles from their Patriarchs in which they confessed the dogmatic faith of the Church.

It is therefore clear that, for the conciliar practice of the Church, the obligation of the representatives to the Patriarch (and, of course, it follows, to the local Church) which it represents and whose mindset it brings to the Council was customary and assumed. The representation of a local Church is bound to express with exactitude the ecclesiological mindset of the local Church, which cannot but be non-negotiable. It is entrusted to its discretional competence to negotiate on issues of lesser importance or matters of a technical nature only, always, however, within the theological bounds of the direction that it has received from its Church.

In the particular case, the representation of the Church of Greece was bound by the unanimous conciliar decision of the hierarchy not to accept the designation of the heretical communities as “Churches”. We repeat that this decision was the fruit of theological discussions several months long. Mr. Sotiropoulos wonders fearfully what would have happened if the Greek representation had kept the obligation that it had received and some other Church insisted on an opposite view. We cannot understand this fear! Very simply, the Council would not have decided upon that point but would have referred the matter to a serious and thorough re-examination, as did happen with many other vital matters in the pre-conciliar preparation. The deferment of the decision would have been preferable to what we now live through with a supposedly Pan-Orthodox decision at such a level, which can be anything but flattering for the Church and Her theological production.

b) Disregard for the fundamental 34th Apostolic Canon

According to the 34th Apostolic, the bishops of each local Church ought, in matters that concern “the common state of the Church,” to confer and co-decide with their Primate in Council: “do nothing of consequence without his consent; but each may do those things only which concern his own parish, and the country places which belong to it.” This fundamental canon stipulates and binds not only the bishops but the Primate as well to act always within the bounds of the Council and to be bound by the conciliar decision: “But neither let him (who is the first) do anything without the consent of all.” When we have a unanimous conciliar decision of the hierarchy, by what canonical right did the Archbishop of Athens sign on behalf of the Church of Greece, contrary to “with the consent of all”? Is this not violation and disregard of the fundamental 34th Apostolic Canon?

c) Violation of the Council’s Procedure itself

According to the Working Procedure of the Great and Holy Council (article 12 § 3), each Autocephalous Church, independently of the dissent of certain hierarchs (“one or more hierarchs” according to §2) in its representation, “may cast an affirmative vote on the basis of the principle of internal majority, which is expressed by its Primate.” That is, the vote of the Primate of each Church is legitimized “on the basis of the principle of internal majority” of the representation and thus it is supposed to express his local Church.

What does this mean for the Orthodox Church, which boasts not to be ruled papally but has a conciliar form of rule? It means that the representatives of each Church, if there was no explicit obligation from the Church that they represent, would decide together whether to accept the texts, and Her Primate, as a representative of each Autocephalous Church, “on the basis of the principle of internal majority,” would vote not according to his own opinion but according to the collective decision of his Church’s representation.

Yet the Council of Crete violated its very own Working Procedure! The representation of the Church of Serbia was constituted of the Patriarch and 24 bishops. Only 7 Serbian bishops accepted and signed the controversial 6th text (“Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World”), while 17 would not approve or sign it (see Appendix Ι). What was the result? Because their Patriarch signed it the Church of Serbia is considered as being in agreement! Is this not a dissolution of conciliarity? Is it not a violation of the 34th Apostolic Canon? Is it not a violation and dissolution of the Council’s Working Procedure (article 12 §3)? Was there an “internal majority” in the representation of Serbia, when 17 out of 24 hierarchs did not agree with the text and did not sign it? Was this violation not perceived by the “President of the Holy and Great Council which assembled in Crete, [the] guardian of the dogmatic and canonical order of the Eastern Church”?7 We would very much like an answer to this question.

The irony is that, although we the Orthodox emphasize the need for the Vatican to base the relations between Primate and Local Church on the 34th Apostolic Canon, the Pan-Orthodox Council itself plainly transgressed it.

d) Primate or Pope?8

The things that took place with respect to the voting of the Church of Cyprus are unthinkable, concerning which Mr. Sotiropoulos is silent: 4 or 5 of the 17 bishops of the Cypriot ecclesiastical representation would not sign the controversial text. What happened thereafter? The Archbishop of Cyprus signed for each one «on his behalf» (see Appendix I). In fact in an interview with a Greek-American newspaper he characterized the disagreeing bishops of his Church as a “fifth column … in the Council”! He is the same one that insultingly attacked the Church of Greece, forcing Archbishop Ieronymos to respond to him heatedly.

It is clear from the aforementioned examples that at the Council of Crete there was not only disregard and dissolution of the conciliar spirit of the Orthodox Church but also a disdain for the episcopal office by the “Protos”. Unfortunately, this was all tolerated and accepted by the “Pan Orthodox Council” and the “President of the Holy and Great Council which assembled in Crete, [the] guardian of the dogmatic and canonical order of the Eastern Church.” Or, rather, upon this very basis the “Council” was “successfully” carried out, without which it would have disintegrated entirely.

We accuse the pope of disregarding the conciliar institution yet we do not see that the so-called “Pan-Orthodox Council” was founded upon the papal mentality of the supposed superiority of the “First”, disregarding and dissolving any sense of Orthodox conciliarity and canonical order. The “First” acts in a papal manner opposite to the opinion of his synod and this is acceptable to the “Council”!

It is grievous and a sign of the decline of the canonical order that there is, on such a high level, a “conciliar” dissolution of the conciliarity of the Local Churches and the imposition of the “First” of each Church with papal powers.

5. The Absence of the four Patriarchates. Let us focus a bit on the absence of the four Patriarchates from Crete. The ancient Patriarchate of Antioch, the Patriarchate of Russia, the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, and the Patriarchate of Georgia, declined to participate in the Council of Crete and, what is most important, they declined to accept either its decisions or the gathering itself as a “Great and Holy Council” of Orthodoxy.

a) Mr. Sotiropoulos considers the reasons to which the four Patriarchates appeal for their non-participation in Crete as “wholly inadequate.” In fact, aligning himself with the defenders of Crete, he proposes or more rightly limits the four Patriarchates’ motivations for their non-participation only to geopolitical interests and phyletism. Ιt is tragic for churchmen to see everything through geopolitical lens and not to be able to comprehend that it is possible for a Church to differentiate itself for spiritual, theological, or ecclesiological reasons! Of course, not to do them an injustice, this is what the people experience: they lead their lives on the basis of political, diplomatic, geopolitical, and public-oriented interests, they move on the basis of these “principles,” and thus they think that the others must act on these presuppositions as well. How could they suspect that some may act on the basis of their faith and not with political interests? It is apparent that they judge others on the basis of their own mindset.

Of course, it is obvious that political parameters exist as well, as they have existed always throughout Church history. Nevertheless, it is also unquestionable that while the Churches of Bulgaria and Georgia may not have a number of outstanding theological personalities, they have still remained strict adherents to Orthodox ecclesiology, (as is apparent in their stances on marriage, relations with the heterodox, etc.).

It was, after all, the representation of the Church of Georgia which, by its presence and positions, overturned the ecumenists’ aims at the 13th Meeting of the Mixed Committee of the Theological Dialogue of the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox in Aman of Jordan (15-23/9/2014). What manipulation did those in charge not use to catch the Orthodox representations by surprise and make them accept the outrageous text which they had prepared! Yet, the small Church of Georgia upset their plans at the last minute, only being joined afterward by the Church of Russia and others.

Also, it is no small detail that the Churches of Bulgaria and Georgia, discerning the counter-productive nature of involvement, have abstained from the World Council of Churches for decades now. One cannot but stand with the greatest respect before this, their choice, for it is well known what the WCC offers: funding of projects, scholarships to executives of Churches and theological schools, travel grants, conferences, special gifts, etc. And this sacrifice is coming from the poorest of the Local Orthodox Churches, which, nonetheless, have the “backbone” to reject funding and other “benefits” of membership in the WCC. How can we then, with a light heart, insult them saying that the main criterion of their behavior is political opportunism? Is it possible for one who gives priority to politics to disregard the generous funding and the other “offers” of the WCC and the related ecumenical organizations?

Closing this paragraph, let us remember an extract from the statement of the Metropolitan of Bachka (Serbia) Irenaeus (Bulovich), who was referring to the text “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World”:

“The Council of Crete, however, through the text in question, ought to have borne witness to its ecclesiological identity and self-consciousness more clearly, consistently, and exactly. Unfortunately this was not possible, since in the numerous preliminary sessions in Geneva, in spite of the disapproval of many and the sharp criticism exacted, the text - for reasons never divulged - was not seriously re-evaluated, as was the desire and suggestion of the Primates of the autocephalous Churches, but it was sent on as is, essentially untouched, to the Council, where, due to a lack of time and consensus, only cosmetic changes were made, with the exception of the amendment of the Church of Greece upon its most controversial and easily misunderstood point. Let us not hide or deceive ourselves. This problematic text is the first and foremost cause of the four Orthodox Patriarchates’ refusal to participate in the Council, while the Church of Serbia struggled and wavered regarding its participation until the last minute”!

Let Mr. Sotiropoulos, who exalts himself on the fact of his journalistic presence on the outskirts of the “Council,” pay close attention to these words from a bishop who actually took part in the Council.

b) According to article 8 (§ 1-2) and article 11 of the Council’s Working Procedure, the conciliar work is carried out with regard to the texts that have been unanimously accepted by the Pan-Orthodox Pre-conciliar Committees.9

Yet the text “The Mystery of Marriage and Its Impediments” had not been approved and signed by the Patriarchate of Antioch nor by the Patriarchate of Georgia in the pre-conciliar period! And yet, in violation of the Procedure, the text was introduced, discussed, and approved in Crete!

c) Also, Mr. Sotiropoulos does not serve the truth when he says that Antioch agreed to the Council and then withdrew, since:

i. The Patriarchate of Antioch from very early had many times stated – whether for well or ill is not of the moment – that, if the issue of Qatar was not solved, it would not take part in the Council. How then does Mr. Sotiropoulos falsely claim that Antioch agreed and then the last minute did not participate?

ii. The Patriarchate of Antioch did not agree and did not sign the Council’s Working Procedure either! Truly, Mr. Sotiropoulos, what sort of a “Pan-Orthodox Council” is this, when not even its Working Procedure had been approved by all the Orthodox?

iii. Most importantly: the Patriarchate of Antioch did not sign the decisions of the Synaxis of the Primates that was the most decisive for the Council (Chambessy 27/1/2016) either. At this Synaxis it was decided where and when the Great and Holy Council would be convened (Crete, 16-27/6/2017), its Working Procedure, its Daily Agenda, the constitution of the Inter-Orthodox Secretariat, the funding, the invitation of heterodox as Observers, that is, all the important issues of the Council. The Patriarchate of Antioch did not agree and did not sign this decision, noting in the space for the signature: “The Church of Antioch has an opposing view and for this reason does not sign” (see Appendix II)!10 Consequently, the Council was not convened by the agreement of all the Local Churches, in violation of the Working Procedure and the pan-Orthodox practice up to that point.

We ask Mr. Sotiropoulos to read the Conciliar decision of the Patriarchate of Antioch of the 27th of June, 2016,11 and he will realize that he has fallen a victim to misinformation and consequently he does an injustice to both himself and the truth.

6. Church and churches. Mr. Sotiropoulos attempts to refute the claim that only in the 20th century, in the context of the Ecumenical Movement, was western Christianity characterized a Church with the theological meaning of the term, and he refers to Orthodox statements since the Seventh Ecumenical Council in 787: the Encyclical Letter of St. Mark of Ephesus (1440); the Replies of Patriarch Jeremiah II to the Lutherans (16th-century); and, the Reply of the Orthodox Patriarchs to Pope Pius IX (1848), among others.

Unfortunately for Mr. Sotiropoulos, the texts to which he refers all but support his views. These texts have nothing to do with the theological production of Crete! For the invalidation of Mr. Sotiropoulos’s claim we refer to a text of the Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.12 As for us, very summarily we point out:

The Encyclical of St. Mark of Ephesus (1440): St. Mark does not characterize Rome as a Church. He always refers to the “Latins”, whom he characterizes as heretics and he speaks with the harshest words about the Latins’ delusions! Among many other things the Saint wonders: "So whence did they suddenly appear to us as Orthodox, who were judged as heretics for so many years and by so many Fathers? Who has made them so easily Orthodox? Gold and your profit [have made them], if you wanted to say the truth. Rather they have not made them Orthodox, but, having made you similar to them, they have thrust you away into the lot of the heretics"!13

Truly, what connection has the Saint’s text with Crete?

The responses of the Patriarch Jeremiah II to the Lutherans: The way in which the Patriarch writes to the Lutherans is truly worthy of imitation: with politeness, refinement, and love but also with absolute clarity he expounds upon the Orthodox faith, refuting their delusions one by one in three long responses and he calls them to deny the delusions and draw nigh to Orthodoxy! Would that the Council of Crete expose with such clarity and fullness the Orthodox teaching regarding the heterodox Christians and call them to become integrated into the One, Holy Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ! The Patriarch Jeremiah writes in his second epistle:

“Finally, having understood Orthodoxy from the Holy Scriptures, come enter into it with all your souls, O wise and sagacious men, and put far away from you every irrational innovation, which the host of Ecumenical Teachers and of the Church has not accepted. ... Therefore, if up to the present something has been violated, you who are prudent may correct it from now, and you will be worthy of praise by God, as well as by men and by us. For to err is human, but correction is angelic and salvific. May you take care of this, also, so that the grace and the mercy of God may be with you.”14

Yet when the Lutherans in the reply insisted on their views, the patriarch concludes his third long epistle thus:

“Therefore, we request that from henceforth you do not cause us more grief, nor write to us on the same subject if you should wish to treat these luminaries and theologians of the Church in a different manner. You honor and exalt them in words, but you reject them in deeds. ... Therefore, going about your own ways, write no longer concerning dogmas; but if you do, write only for friendship's sake!”15

Truly, what connection have these texts of the Patriarch Jeremiah with the decisions of Crete?

The response of the Orthodox Patriarchs to Pope Pius IX (1848): In their epistle the Patriarchs refer to Rome mainly by the terms “Papism” and “papists”, which are characterized as a heresy. They note word for word: “Of these heresies diffused … over a great part of the world, was formerly Arianism, and at present is the Papacy.” (§ 4). Certainly, they refer to Papism also as a “Church”, but it is clear from the context that the term is not meant in its ecclesiological meaning. So, the Patriarchs write, referring to the invitation of the Pope: “Until there be this desired returning of the apostate Churches to the body of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of which Christ is the Head (Eph. iv. 15), and each of us ‘members in particular,’ all advice proceeding from them, and every officious exhortation tending to the dissolution of our pure faith handed down from the Fathers is condemned, as it ought to be, synodically, not only as suspicious and to be eschewed, but as impious and soul-destroying» (§ 17).

Would that the Council of Crete refer to Papism and the Protestants with this mindset and let it have used the term “Church”. Certainly, no one would have any objection to the “Council” in Crete in this case.

Really, Mr. Sotiropoulos, what connection have these texts that you invoke with Crete?! These texts refer to heresies and heretics, whom they invite to become integrated into the Church of Christ! Where did Crete talk about heresies and heretics? When did Crete invite the heterodox to become integrated into the One Church of Christ?

7. Distortion of the words of St. Porphyrios. Mr. Sotiropoulos concludes his article by quoting Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvia, supposing that his words are applicable to our critique of the "Council" and its texts. Unfortunately, he "caps off" his confused and undiscerning article with yet another misinterpretation and misrepresentation. The words of the Saint which are quoted and placed in bold at end the article are: "Those who censure the Church for the errors of her representatives with the alleged aim of helping to correct her make a great mistake. They do not love the Church. Neither, needless to say, do they love Christ."

The implication is clear: all who reject the "Council" of Crete and reject its decisions as not expressive of the Orthodox Faith do not love Christ or the Church! This is a remarkable statement, for, of course, he is not implicating Fr. Peter alone in this, but indeed four Local Orthodox Churches, representing more than half of the Orthodox world, which refused to recognize the "Council" as pan-Orthodox. Beyond this, however, and more importantly, with his use (and abuse) of the Saint's words, the author shows how undiscerning he his and how the words of the Saint are a closed book for him.

Firstly, the Saint clearly has in mind criticism which is directed against the Church "for the errors of her representatives," not criticism directed against those who, although charged with representing the Church, have abandoned the Faith of the Church or undermined Her conciliar nature. Ironically, the Saint is, in fact, criticizing the very thing that Mr. Sotiropoulos is doing: identifying the Church with the behavior of Her clergy.

Secondly, the Saint clearly is not referring to matters of Faith, but rather is speaking of the ethical or social falls of the clergy, as when he says earlier: "Even if with our own eyes we see a priest doing something we judge negatively, we should not believe it, nor think about it, nor talk about it to others." This is, of course, quite consistent with both Holy Scripture and the Gerontikon where we are charged to cover the sins of others and not to judge them. However, this does not apply to errors in the Faith, especially those committed publicly, for our Lord, the entire Patristic witness and relevant canons charge us to "judge righteously," "discern the times," and "confess the faith."

Thirdly, and most egregiously, Mr. Sotiopoulos errs in implying that the “Council” is to be identified with “the Church.” He is rebuking us when we criticize the carrying out and decisions of the “Council” for “censuring the Church.” If this were so, he would also need to criticize dozens of our greatest Saints who stood against the false councils of bishops (some of them much larger than the “Council” in Crete) that have occurred in the past, such as the false councils of Ephesus, Hieria, Lyon or Florence. He would be standing not only against particular Saints, such as the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Ss. Flavian the Confessor and Tarasius, St. Gregory Palamas, and St. Mark of Ephesus, for example, but also against the Ecumenical Councils, such as the Fourth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils which overturned and condemned the decisions of the false councils of Ephesus and Hieria.

Fourthly, and finally on this point, it is necessary to declare to Mr. Sotiropoulos and all those with him, who from time to time like to quote St. Porphyrios wrongly in order to support their ecumenistic sympathies: the Saint was not an ecumenist and does not support you in your disregard of the Faith of our Fathers and the Holy Canons! As with this quote above, not a few others have been presented as if in support of the ecumenist path and methodology, always, however, misinterpreting and misrepresenting the meaning of his words. Not every Saint wrote theological treatises or spoke boldly against heresy and the spirit of antichrist behind it, but every Saint's life, including St. Porphyrios', being in the Spirit of God, was a living witness that the Orthodox Church is the Body of Christ, the continuation of the Incarnation and not a part of or in communion with an ecumenical “work in progress.” Thus, please cease abusing the Saint's words and twisting them to support the delusion of a “church divided in time”, according to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s eccleciologically unacceptable expression.16

8. Today, more than a year after the convocation of the so-called “Great and Holy Council” – evaluating it we cannot but realize with sincere grief:

• It was being prepared for 60 years as “Pan-Orthodox”, but 60% of the Orthodox were not represented at it.

• It was characterized as “Pan-Orthodox”, but the ecclesiastical conscience of more than 60% of the Orthodox has not accepted it, as this conscience has been appropriately and canonically expressed through the Councils of the Local Churches.

• Its theological production is widely and intensely doubted by bishops and Local Churches, even by some of those which participated.

And how can it not be doubted when:

• It accepted Ecumenism, which all contemporary Saints without exception have condemned. The spirit-bearing Elder Ephraim of Katounakia stated, after much prayer, that God revealed to him that Ecumenism is dominated by an demonic spirit.17 This Movement was accepted by the Council of Crete…

• It ruled that the Orthodox Church “views favorably” the unorthodox texts of the WCC.18

• Instead of becoming the occasion for the forging of inter-Orthodox unity, it caused wounds hard to heal in the Body of the Church, because of the manipulation used by those in charge.

• It was convened to express the unity of Orthodoxy to the outsiders, yet it proclaimed the intra-Orthodox problems urbi et orbi.

• It was aimed to raise the prestige of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, but it rather devalued it – most unfortunately for the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

• It created very serious problems of the theological and pastoral responsibility of the bishops, with unforeseeable consequences for the unity of the Local Churches.

• It failed to conclusively answer any of the pressing theological or pastoral needs. It has been supported shamelessly that “the Council had to happen…in order to happen.”

• We cannot but realize with grief that in the Council of Crete the great loser is the Conciliar Institution itself.

9. In conclusion. The following would not recognize it as a Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Council:

i. The Patriarchate of Antioch, in the decision of 27/6/16:

a. “Consider[s] the meeting in Crete as a preliminary meeting towards the Pan-Orthodox Council ...

b. Refuse[s] to assign a conciliar character to any Orthodox meeting that does not involve all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, ... Thus, the Church of Antioch refuses that the meeting in Crete be called a “Great Orthodox Council” or a “Great Holy Council.”

c. Affirm[s] that whatever was issued in the meeting in Crete, of decisions and other things, is non-binding, by any means, to the Patriarchate of Antioch.”

ii. The Patriarchate of Russia (Decision of the Holy Council, 15/7/16) comments:

a. “The Council which took place in Crete cannot be considered Pan-Orthodox, nor can the documents which it ratified constitute an expression of Pan-Orthodox consensus.” It reserves its decision on the theological commentary on the decisions of Crete. The Council is characterized as a “forum of ten Churches”!

iii. The Patriarchate of Bulgaria comments in the conciliar decision of 15/11/16:

a. The Council of Crete is neither great, nor holy, nor Pan-Orthodox.

i. This is due to the non-participation of a number of Local autocephalous Churches, as well as the accepted organizational and theological mistakes.

ii. Careful study of the documents adopted at the Council in Crete leads us to the conclusion that some of them contain discrepancies with Orthodox Church teaching, with the dogmatic and canonical Tradition of the Church, and with the spirit and letter of the Ecumenical and Local Councils.

iii. The documents adopted in Crete are to be subject to further theological consideration for the purpose of amending, editing and correcting, or being replaced by other (new documents) in the spirit and Tradition of the Church."

iv. The Patriarchate of Georgia, by a justified decision of the Holy Synod (10/6/16), did not participate because of intense disagreement with the pre-conciliar texts on Marriage, the Mission of the Church, and mainly the Relations with the Heterodox.19

v. Even the Patriarchate of Romania, which participated in the Council, ruled that:

a. “the texts can be explained, nuanced in part or further developed by a future Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church. However, their interpretation and the drafting of new texts on a variety of issues must not be made hastily or without Pan-Orthodox agreement, otherwise they must be delayed and perfected until agreement can be reached.”

vi. The Church of Greece (at the council of the Hierarchy 24/11/16). A proposal was made and accepted that the Church of Greece “appoint a qualified or a specific Conciliar Committee to study deeply and theologically and ecclesiologically evaluate the texts which have already been written and which contain either positive or even cautious positions concerning the decisions of the Great and Holy Council. As responsible and caring Shepherds, we ought to listen to all serious and constructive positions with the greatest attention and pastoral sensitivity. Τhe result of this study, which I [the presenter to the synod] believe strongly expresses a conciliar ethos and quality, if it is utilized appropriately, may also substantially help our most holy Church and all of Orthodoxy as a whole.”

vii. Even many of the bishops who participated in the gathering question it. For example, His Grace Irenaeus (Bulovich), bishop of Bachka (Serbia), spoke “Concerning the recently concluded, triumphantly yet not entirely persuasively, ‘Great and Holy Council’ of our Church in Columbari of Crete: it is already not recognized as such by the Churches that were absent, indeed even characterized by them as a "gathering in Crete", and also disputed by most of the attending Orthodox hierarchs!”

There is no precedent of an Orthodox Council that is so intensely disputed by so many Local Churches. If we wish to be elementally serious the fairy-tale being told about a “Pan-Orthodox” Council should cease.

We wonder, therefore, along with St. Tarasius (Seventh Ecumenical Council), adjusting his words concerning the Robber Council of Hieria to the contemporary reality of the supposedly Pan-Orthodox Council:

“Furthermore, how [is it] great and holy, which the presidents of the other churches neither accepted nor agreed but sent past with anathema? It did not secure the agreement of the patriarchs of the East, of Antioch, Russia, Bulgaria, and Georgia, nor of those mystagogues and hierarchs with them.”20

10. Yet, it must not be forgotten that Christ Himself is Lord, Leader, and Head of the Church and the Holy Spirit leads Her, and It leads Her indeed “into all truth.” It was Christ Himself Who overturned the cunning manipulations of those who were working for decades to promote their plans through the Council.

Nor only that, but the Council of Crete had two positive elements that were brought out:

Firstly, the Orthodox have awakened! Simple faithful, monks, clergy, even Councils of Churches concerned themselves, showed interest, worried, and made significant decisions. They came to see the manipulations of some against the Faith and they resisted and managed largely to foil the lawless plans. Indicative of this is that the Conference of the five Dioceses that was organized in Piraeus (23/3/2016) was viewed by people around the world (more than 100,000 through intv.gr, while the number of those through Youtube and other websites and weblogs is indefinite and the views of the texts uploaded on hundreds of websites and weblogs, translated into many languages, number in the thousands). This alone demonstrates the concern and interest of the People of God on a pan-Orthodox level.

Secondly, the “Council” of Crete occasioned significant inter-Orthodox communication. There is no such precedent: with simplicity and sincerity, without manipulations, supportive mechanisms and managers, some persons surpassed the borders of their Local Churches and were distinguished on a pan-Orthodox level as the conveyors through whom the pan-Orthodox ecclesiastical consciousness was expressed. Three persons stand out in this regard: the V. Rev. Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, the Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis, Emeritus Professor of Patrology, and the Professor of Dogmatics, Demetrios Tselengides. Each one, from his particular position from which he serves the Body of Christ, in his own manner, in his own style, but with a single ecclesiastical ethos, love for our Church and speech well-documented in the ecclesiastical tradition, testified by his theological contribution. It is moving and at the same time astonishing, for it is reminiscent of past critical moments of our Church. God chose them mainly in this most critical moment to carry the weight of the defense of the conciliar institution and of the Orthodox Faith on a Pan-Orthodox level, at considerable personal cost.

Thus their texts, founded in the patristic and conciliar Orthodox tradition and in the contemporary saints’ experience of the Holy Spirit, surpassed the borders of Greek-speaking Orthodoxy, were translated and utilized on a pan-Orthodox level, and constituted the base of inter-Orthodox concern, even for Synods of Autocephalous Churches and Patriarchates.

The “Council”, therefore, helped the communication, co-operation, and exchange of opinions among the People of God on a Pan-Orthodox level. The interest and concern – “for the most part understandable”, as the hierarchy of the Church of Greece characterized it – of the People of God on a Pan-Orthodox level for an ecclesiastical event was exceptional in the ecclesiastical records of many past decades.

This displays or rather confirms also the timeless experience of the Church, which was expressed by the Patriarchs of the East in their famous proclamation:

“Neither Patriarchs nor Councils could have introduced novelties amongst us, because the protector of religion is the very body of the Church, even the people themselves, who desire their religious worship to be ever unchanged and of the same kind as that of their Fathers.”

This defender or religion, the people of God, that is, clergy, monks, and laity, are called to assist, according to each one’s gift, position, and service in the Body of Christ, in the correction of the many errors of Crete having the certainty that in the end Truth will shine, for Truth is Christ Himself.

To Him belongs the glory, power, honor, and worship unto the ages of ages. Amen.

~ Protopresbyters Fr. Peter Heers and Fr. Anastasios Gotsopoulos


1 Originally published in Greek on the website romfea.gr: http://www.romfea.gr/katigories/10-apopseis/15500-....

2 The lecture “The Council of Crete and the New Emerging Ecclesiology: An Orthodox Examination,” has appeared on the official website of Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (http://hts.edu/news_170329_1.html), on the Greek news website, romfea.gr (http://www.romfea.gr/diafora/14558-i-sunodos-tis-k...), and on the website Orthodox Ethos (https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-council-of-cret...), including both the text and video of the lecture. Likewise, Fr. Peter Heers has given two other lectures on the “Council” of Crete: 1) The Recognition of the Baptism of the Heterodox as the Basis for a New Ecclesiology (In Step with Vatican II) (available at http://orthochristian.com/92066.html), and 2) From the Second Vatican Council (1965) to the Pan Orthodox Council (2016): Signposts on the Way to Crete (available at http://orthochristian.com/93786.html).

3 Ζιζιούλα, Ι., Θέματα Εκκλησιολογίας, Πανεπιστημιακές Παραδόσεις, Θεσσαλονίκη 1991, pp. 71-71. In English translation, see: http://oodegr.com/english/dogmatiki1/F2f.htm

4 This text can be found online: http://parembasis.gr/index.php/holy-great-council-... or https://orthodoxethos.com/post/intervention-and-te....

5 Σπ. Μήλιας, Πρακτικὰ τῶν Ἁγίων καὶ Οἰκουμενικῶν Συνόδων, ἔκδ. Καλύβης Τ. Προδρόμου Ἱ. Σκήτης Ἁγ. Ἄννης, Ἃγ. Ὅρος, τ. Γ΄ (1986), σ. 46, Mansi 11, 285, ACO 2,2,1,12210

6 Σπ. Μήλιας, Πρακτικὰ τῶν Ἁγίων καὶ Οἰκουμενικῶν Συνόδων, ἔκδ. Καλύβης Τ. Προδρόμου Ἱ. Σκήτης Ἁγ. Ἄννης, Ἃγ. Ὅρος, τ. Β΄ (1982), σ. 121, Mansi 6, 908D, ACO 2,1,1,19130

7 This is how Patriarch Bartholomew referred to himself in a letter to the Archbishop of Athens. See: “Patriarch of Constantinople’s Letter to the Archbishop of Greece: Defrock and Sever Communion with Those Opposed to our Council in Crete,” http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/99398.htm.

8 See: π. Ἀναστ. Γκοτσοπούλου, «Προκαθήμενοι ἢ πάπες;» (10.6.16), στό http://www.impantokratoros.gr/CF5A8EE9.el.aspx.

9 Article 8, paragraph 1: “According to the daily agenda, the texts unanimously approved at Pan-Orthodox Preconciliar Meetings and at Synaxes of the Primates of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches shall be considered in Plenary sessions and/or in Synodal Committees.”

Article 11: “Proposals to amend, correct, or append the Synodal texts that were unanimously approved by the Pan-Orthodox Preconciliar Meetings and by Synaxes of the Primates, or to the Council’s Message…”

10 See: http://www.romfea.gr/patriarxeia-ts/patriarxeio-an....

11 In Greek: http://www.romfea.gr/patriarxeia-ts/patriarxeio-an..., and in English: https://orthodoxethos.com/post/the-patriarchate-of....

12 In Greek: http://parembasis.gr/images/anakoinoseis/2016/NAYP... and in English: http://parembasis.gr/index.php/holy-great-council-....

13 Ἰ. Καρμίρη, Τὰ δογματικὰ καὶ συμβολικὰ μνημεῖα τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Καθολικῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ἐν Ἀθήναις 1952, τ. Ι, σ. 359.

14 Ἰ. Καρμίρη, Τὰ δογματικὰ καὶ συμβολικὰ μνημεῖα τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Καθολικῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ἐν Ἀθήναις 1953, τ. ΙΙ, σ. 475.

15 Ἰ. Καρμίρη, Τὰ δογματικὰ καὶ συμβολικὰ μνημεῖα τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Καθολικῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ἐν Ἀθήναις 1953, τ. ΙΙ, σ. 489.

16 With these words the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, referred to the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, during his speech at the All-holy Tomb of our Lord in Jerusalem, in 2014. See our lecture (reference in note 2 above) where we analyze in detail the new ecclesiology being presented by the Patriarch - an analysis which Mr. Sotiropoulos neglected to address.

17 For more detail, see the article by Fr. Anastasios Gotsopoulos, “Ecumenism, the Impure Spirits and the Council of Crete” (in Greek): http://www.impantokratoros.gr/43815419.el.aspx.

18 For more details, see the article by Fr. Anastasios Gotsopoulos, “The Council of Crete and the World Council of Churches” (in Greek): https://www.impantokratoros.gr/F99804D6.el.aspx.

19 http://www.romfea.gr/images/apofaseis_georgia.pdf.

20 «πῶς δ’ αὖ ἁγία καὶ μεγάλη ἥν οὔτε ἐδέξαντο, οὔτε συνεφώνησαν οἱ τῶν λοιπῶν ἐκκλησιῶν πρόεδροι, ἀλλ’ ἀναθέματι ταύτην παρέπεμψαν; Οὐκ ἔσχεν … συμφρονοῦντας αὐτὴ τοὺς πατριάρχας τῆς Ἔω, Ἀντιοχείας, Ρωσίας, Βουλγαρίας καὶ τῆς Γεωργίας, ἢ τοὺς σὺν αὐτοῖς μύστας καὶ Ἀρχιερεῖς».