Many believers write to me or ask me when I visit parishes or speak somewhere, what am I able to do, as a lay person, when my priest or bishop diverts from the Faith of the Church or teaches or guides believers in a manner contrary to the received Tradition and teaching of the Holy Fathers. The following excerpt from the homilies of the great Elder and Teacher of the Church, Athanasius Mytilinaios of Greece provides a good answer.
There exists the pan-heresy of ecumenism, which has taken hold of Patriarchs and Archbishops by the back of the neck the world over. Patriarchs and Archbishops throughout the world. You know, when someone comes and grabs you by the back of the neck, you are immobilized. If you grab a cat by its neck and you lift it up, he cannot bite you. He is unable to do anything and is immobilized.
Likewise, the devil, [with] this heresy, the pan-heresy of ecumenism [a denial of the Body of Christ's oneness and catholicity], has taken hold of leading clergy, the highest of high, and he now is moving down, toward the people. At this point [more than 20 years ago], however, he has hold of the leading figures [of the Church] worldwide - allow me to repeat.
If I do not know someone who will come [ex. a priest]. . . In America, for example, there are already Presbyters who are preaching ecumenism. I have been given a cassette tape in which he [the priest] is preaching ecumenism.
So, what will you do? Should you not make a point to see just who is your parish priest, or your bishop, or Archbishop, or Patriarch? What will you do? Are you going to be a fool? I mean, if he becomes an ecumenist, will you join him?
There are many other errors or transgressions which could be described in order to illustrate the bad shepherd. The shepherd could even be a heretic - not only in reference to the heresy of ecumenism - pay attention to me here - but with regard to other heresies. Oh, dear, we have quite a few!.
So, the people of God not only haves right, they are REQUIRED to be vigilant as to what is being taught by the shepherds and who they are. HE HAS AN OBLIGATION.
Therefore, politely, kindly, you will see about it, say something, correct possible errors. You remember when Aquila and Priscilla, saw the amazing Apolla, of the race of Alexandrians, he was lacking [in some way] and Priscilla, a woman, took him aside and corrected him, so that his teaching was more accurate. When someone is lacking in some way, he should be politely corrected. A layman may go and tell him, "Father, this is not exactly correct." When a priest has discernment, respect and humility, he accepts the correction.
When, however, he insists on ideas which are truly heretical, what will the sheep do? Won't he leave?
To give you an example: when I go to confession and the confessor tells me that I can have [relations with] a girlfriend or boyfriend, will I go back to that confessor? I will never return there again.
So, the people of God not only have a right, they a responsibility to be vigilant in matters of Faith and spiritual life."
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See the video (in Greek) here:
See the text and video (in Greek) here: