Category Archives: Crete

After Crete: On the Ecclesiological Heresy of ‘Balkanism’

After the failure of last year’s US-backed meeting of some Orthodox bishops in Crete, representing less than 85% of the Orthodox faithful, the rejection of that meeting by many who were present yet whose signatures were on documents which they had not signed, and the general non-reception of those documents throughout the Church, where does the Church go now? After all, the essential lesson of the failed meeting was that the elderly bishops in their 70s and 80s, who had fixed the agenda, still thinking in terms of the old-fashioned, Vatican II-style 1960s, have still to learn about the reality of Church life. This is that they are to represent the bimillennial Faith, not private political agendas.

Those Orthodox bishops who in their old age are still marked by the decadent 1960s (they often studied in Catholic and Protestant Universities in Western Europe at that time) appear to be confused about the role of the Church. Some of them want Her to become a mere nationalist branch of the Vatican or become some Protestant sect, seeing Her as a depository for Balkan history and folklore and banning missionary work by refusing to accept other nationalities and heterodox into Her, especially in the Western world. We can call this peculiar, provincial view ‘Balkanism’. Clearly, in the global world in which we live, this is so old-fashioned and parochial as to be laughable.

However, more seriously, this is also a heresy. The heresy in question is ecclesiological: it is the refusal, inherent in Balkanism, to recognize the Church as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, but to see Her only as Divided, Secular, Separated from the Universal Church and without Apostolic Tradition. This heresy believes that the Church is divided into nationalistic institutions, each vying with one another to possess the highest Cathedral in the Balkans, controlled by US-appointed Patriarchs and puppet Balkan governments, that She can act in isolation from and without reference to the rest of the Church both in time and in space, and without reference to the Apostolic Tradition.

It seems to us that the time has come for the Patriarch of by far the biggest Local Church, the Russian Orthodox Church with 75% of the faithful and a thousand monasteries, to call a Council of the whole Church to condemn this heresy. Statements on the identity of the Church, One and not Divided, Holy and not Secular, Catholic and not Provincial, Apostolic and not Modernistic, would bring dogmatic and pastoral clarity to the issues raised by the Cretan farce and give elderly and confused bishops the opportunity to retire quietly or else be defrocked in disgrace. Now is the time for lucidity in order to reassure the faithful that they are represented by bishops who are Orthodox in faith.

‘Pan-Orthodox’ = Non-Orthodox?

Even in the Russian Orthodox Church we sometimes hear of ‘Pan-Orthodox’ organizations, assemblies, conferences, meetings, even of ‘Pan-Orthodox liturgies’. But what does this mean? Every liturgy is ‘Pan-Orthodox’, inasmuch as all Orthodox are invited to partake, indeed the whole world is called on to pray. Sadly, the phrase ‘Pan-Orthodox’ really means ‘only for selected Orthodox’. In fact, it means ‘for new calendarists only’ (thus, excluding 85% of Orthodox), and for ecumenists, modernists, freemasons and liberal intellectuals (thus, excluding 99.9% of the rest). How has this distortion of meaning come about?

This distorted word has come from two opposing visions of the unity of the Church, especially in the Diaspora. The first vision for unity, the ‘Pan-Orthodox’ one, is based on a levelling down to the lowest common denominator, in fact, on protestantization and secularization. The other vision for unity, the Orthodox one, is based on a levelling up to the highest common denominator, in fact it is ascetic and leads to holiness. Although the first vision will at first be more popular and more common, because it is not Spirit-bearing, it will not last. It is therefore only the second vision that endures and triumphs.

We can see this in last year’s ‘Pan-Orthodox’ (!!!) meeting in Crete. This has caused a huge crisis in the Greek and new calendarist (for example Romanian) world, which attended it and signed various papers, and that world is now concerned with the ‘reception’ of that peculiar meeting. This is utterly irrelevant to the majority of Orthodox, who are hardly aware of this crisis, since they refused even to attend such an absurd meeting with its Non-Orthodox agenda and have since forgotten it and laugh when they hear it called ‘a Council’. We are pre-Crete and post-Crete and living; they are con-Crete and dead.

We would rather suffer martyrdom than sign any of those papers. Such is ‘Pan-Orthodox’. In order to be ‘Pan-Orthodox’, you first have to be Orthodox. That is what the ‘Orthodox-lite’, ‘Euro-Orthodox’ ecumenists, modernists and liberals have no understanding of. In being all things to all men, they have ended up being nothing to no-one, in other words, a laughing-stock of those in the past. This is why we ignore them, safe with our Orthodox bishops and Orthodox faithful. This is why we shall continue to be authentically ‘Pan-Orthodox’, welcoming all, multinational and multilingual and faithful to the Tradition.