Tag Archives: Holy Orthodoxy

More Criticism of ‘Pan-Orthodox’ Draft Documents

METROPOLITAN OF LIMASSOL: “WHAT UNITY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT? THOSE WHO DEPARTED FROM THE CHURCH ARE HERETICS AND SCHISMATICS”

There are serious gaps in the theological and canonical discussions at the upcoming meeting of the Pan-Orthodox Synod, notes Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol.

In a letter, of which the Agency of Religious News Romfea.gr has published extracts, the eminent hierarch does not consider there to be any problem of restoring the unity of Christians, since this, in his opinion, was never disrupted. Rather, certain Christians chose a path different to the one we follow, that of the original Orthodox truth.

There are no churches or confessions. Rather, these have cut themselves off from the Church and must be considered heretics and schismatics, notes His Eminence, expressing confusion as to why such an important issue has been ignored.

The stance of His Eminence, who invokes the right of each hierarch to express his opinion regarding such an important event, is sure to cause discussion and debate within Orthodoxy.

“Since, in agreement with regulations sent to us regarding the organisation and operation of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church, and in particular article 12, paragraphs 2 and 3, indicate that we are entitled first to express our views at our local Synod, I, having examined my conscience, humbly submit to the Holy and Sacred Synod of our holy Church my views and opinions regarding the following matters,” the Reverend Metroplitan Athanasios underlines in his letter.

In his letter, to which Romfea.gr gained exclusive access, His Eminence Athanasios speaks about the text of the 5th Preconciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference held in Chambesy in October entitled “Decision – Relations of the Orthodox Church to the rest of the Christian world,” stating the following:

“I am in total agreement with the first three articles of the text. However, at article 4 onwards, I have made the following observations: “The Orthodox Church has always prayed ‘for the union of all’ – I believe this to mean the return to and union with Her of all those who broke away and distanced themselves from Her, of heretics and schismatics, once they have renounced their heresy and schism and flee from those things with repentance and are integrated and joined – united – with the Orthodox Church in accordance with the teachings of the sacred canons,” remarks His Eminence Athanasios.

His Eminence continues: “The Orthodox Church of Christ never lost the ‘unity of faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit” and does not accept the theory of the restoration of the unity of those ‘who believe in Christ,’ because it believes that the unity of those who believe in Christ already exists in the unity of all of Her baptised children, between themselves and with Christ, in Her correct faith, where no heretics or schismatics are present, for which reason She prays for their return to Orthodoxy in repentance.”

His Eminence completes his letter, of which Romfea.gr has released excerpts, thusly: “I believe that what is stated in article 5 regarding ‘the lost unity of Christians’ is incorrect, because the Church as God’s people, united among themselves and with the Head of the Church which is Christ, never lost this unity and therefore is not in need of rediscovering or seeking it, because it always was, is, and will be just as the Church of Christ has never ceased nor will cease to exist.”

His Eminence Athanasios adds that, “what happened is that groups, peoples or individuals left the body of the Church and the Church prays, and is required to try through mission, that they all return in repentance to the Orthodox Church via the canonical route. In other words, there do not exist other Churches, only heresies and schisms, should we wish to be more precise in our definitions.”

“The expression ‘towards the restoration of Christian unity’ is incorrect because the unity of Christians – the members of the Church of Christ – has never been broken, as long as they remain united to the Church. Separation from the Church and flight from the Church have unfortunately happened numerous times due to heresies and schisms, but there was never a loss of the internal unity of the Church,” His Eminence continues in his letter.

Elsewhere, His Eminence Athanasios states: “I question why the text contains multiple references to ‘Churches’ and ‘Confessions’? What difference and which element allows us to call some Churches and others Confessions? Which is a Church and which a heresy and which a schismatic group or confession? We confess one Church and that all the others are schisms and heresies. I maintain that giving the title ‘Church’ to heretical or schismatic communities is entirely incorrect from a theological, dogmatic and canonical perspective because the Church of Christ is one, as also stated in Article 1, and we cannot refer to a heretical or schismatic community or group outside the Orthodox Church as ‘Church’.”

“At no point does this text state that the only way that leads to union with the Church is solely the repentant return of heretics and schismatics to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, which according to Article 1 is our Orthodox Church. The reference to the ‘understanding of the tradition of the ancient Church’ gives the impression that there is an ontological difference between the ancient Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the genuine continuation of the same until the present day, namely our Orthodox Church. We believe that there is absolutely no difference between the Church of the 21st century and the Church of the 1st century, because one of the attributes of the Church is the fact we also confess in the Symbol of Faith, namely that it is Apostolic,” stressed the Metropolitan of Limmasol.

The Bishop subsequently underlines that in Article 12, the impression is given that the Orthodox are looking to restore the right faith and unity, giving cause for an unacceptable view.

“Article 12 states that the common purpose of the theological dialogues is ‘the final restoration of unity in correct faith and love’. This gives the impression that we Orthodox are seeking our restoration to correct faith and the unity of love, as if we had lost the right faith and are seeking to discover it through the theological dialogues with the heterodox. I maintain that this theory is theologically unacceptable for us all,” underlines Metropolitan Athanasios.

Elsewhere, His Eminence expresses objections to the text, stressing that “the reference of the text to ‘the World Council of Churches’ gives me the opportunity to make a complaint against occasional syncretistic events which took place therein, but also against its title, since it regards the Orthodox Church as ‘one of the Churches’ or a branch of the one Church which seeks and strives for Her realisation at the World Council of Churches. For us, however, the Church of Christ is one and unique, as we confess in the Symbol of Faith, and not many.”

His Eminence further states: “The view that the preservation of the genuine Orthodox faith is guaranteed only through the synodical system as the only ‘competent and final authority on matters of faith’ is exaggerated and ignores the truth that many synods throughout Church history taught and espoused incorrect and heretical doctrines, and it was the faithful people which rejected them and preserved the Orthodox faith and championed the Orthodox Confession. Neither a synod without the faithful people, the fullness of the Church, nor the people without the synod of Bishops, is able to regard themselves as the Body of Christ and Church of Christ and to correctly express the experience and doctrine of the Church.”

Addressing the Archbishop of Cyprus and the members of the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan of Limassol stresses: “Use of hard or insulting language cannot be made in ecclesiastical encyclicals of this kind, nor do I think anyone desires the use of that form of expression. However, the truth must be expressed with precision and clarity, though naturally with pastoral discernment and genuine love towards all. We owe it also to our brothers who find themselves in heresy or schism to be entirely honest with them, and with love and pain to pray and do everything possible to bring about their return to the Church of Christ.”

“I humbly maintain that texts of such importance and prestige as those of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church must be very carefully formulated with theological and canonical precision in order that these ambiguities or untested theological terms do not also give rise to incorrect expressions which could lead to misconceptions and distortions of the correct attitude of the Orthodox Church. Moreover, in order for a Synod to be valid and canonical, it must not depart in any way from the spirit and teaching of the Holy Synods which preceded it, the teaching of the Holy Fathers and Holy Scriptures, and it must be free from any ambiguity in the precise expression of the correct faith,” adds His Eminence Athanasios.

Elsewhere, invoking the Holy Fathers, His Eminence Athanasios stated: “Never did the holy Fathers nor ever in the holy canons or rulings of the sacred Ecumenical or Local Synods, are heretical or schismatic groups referred to as churches. If the heretics are indeed churches, where is the single One Church of Christ and the Apostles?”

The Metropolitan of Limassol also expressed his strong opposition, stressing that those who do not have the right to vote and participate in the Synod are merely ornamental.

“I humbly express my disagreement with the fact that the practice of all Sacred Synods until the present of allowing each bishop a vote is abolished. There was never before a system of ‘one Church, one vote,’ which renders the members of the Holy and Great Synod, with the exception of the primates, mere decorative items by refusing them the right to vote,” His Eminence Athanasios says in his letter.

In closing, the Hierarch of the Church of Cyprus states that: “I do not want to upset anyone with what I wrote, nor do I want to be seen to be teaching judgement of my brothers and fathers in Christ. I simply feel the need to express what my conscience requires me to.”

To read the Metropolitan’s entire letter, see the site of the Holy Metropolis of Limassol.

Translated by Fr. Kristian Akselberg

Romfea

On the Spiritual Purity of Holy Orthodoxy

Introduction

The living beliefs of St John of Shanghai swim against the tide of the world and are remarkable examples to all of us for the three following reasons. First of all, although he lived outside Russia he expressed faithfulness to Holy Rus, which for him, as shown in his sermon on the 950th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, is a living reality, not a dream or myth, as it is for unbelieving modernists a la Schmemann. This faithfulness to Holy Rus, even though it was enslaved beneath the Soviet atheist yoke, entailed his constant prayers for the Patriarch of the Russian Church (shown by his words to the then Fr Vladimir Rodzianko) despite the Patriarch’s political enslavement and so separation from free Russians. It also entailed St John’s opposition to those who fought against Russia, under the tragic and misguided illusion that that they were fighting against the Soviet Union.

Secondly, St John was faithful to the Tsar, already in the 1930s enjoining his canonization against those of both left and right who opposed it. Thirdly, he believed in the Russian Church not as a national ghetto, but as an organism with the worldwide calling to convert to Orthodoxy, as he clearly expressed at the Second All-Diaspora Council in 1938. These three virtues, faithfulness to Holy Rus, faithfulness to the Orthodox Monarchy and faithfulness to the Russian Church’s calling to preach to the heterodox and unbaptized world, are matched by three opposing temptations. These can be found among the still unChurched (and this includes clergy and laity), among those on the fringes of the Church and those outside the Church. These three temptations of spiritual impurity are liberalism instead of faithfulness, conservatism instead of faithfulness and heterodoxy instead of faithfulness.

Liberalism instead of Faithfulness to Holy Rus

This is the temptation from the left, with its renovationism, modernism, new calendarism, liberalism, ecumenism and freemasonry. We have met its spirit in ‘Orthodox’ freemasons in Paris, in cultish, Hindu-style gurus with a name-worship mantra or psychic hypnosis and even occultism, inspired by Blavatsky and Steiner, in those who cannot stop speaking of ‘hypostasis’ and ‘theosis’, rather than living the commandments of the Gospel, in ‘cowboy’ copies of liberal Protestantism and liberal Catholicism camouflaged by long Greek ‘theological’ words, in the elderly or now dead renovationism of the old KGB-selected Moscow Patriarchal representatives from before the fall of atheism, in well-read converts who reject new immigrants from Eastern Europe because they are not liberal intellectuals like themselves, and in ideologies driven by personalities, not by spiritual realities.

Conservatism instead of Faithfulness to the Orthodox Monarchy

This is the temptation from the right, with its phyletism, nationalism, naïve idealization, old calendarism, right-wing emigres and converts who support and accept money from the CIA or MI5, the cultivation of the museum ethos. We have met its spirit in Greeks who tell Non-Greeks to go away, in those who ban the use of languages other than their own, in nationalist Ukrainians who have nothing to do with the Church because they are driven by politics, not by Christ, in those who fall into schism on account of minor errors rather than the general correctness in the Church, in those who schismatically divide the Church, falling into the temptation of the Church’s enemies who want to divide and so rule Her, in converts from conservative heterodox who bring prejudices into the Church, in those who self-justifyingly confuse psychology with theology, serving self and not the general good of the Church.

Heterodoxy instead of Faithfulness to Missionary Work

Authentic missionary work is about conforming the world to the Church, and not as some compromised people have suggested, supporting the errors of those outside the Church through their own syncretism (‘all religions are the same’), founded on indifference. Also, if heterodox are prematurely received into the Church, they may bring spiritual impurities, either in the form of agendas for ‘reform’ or else of reactions to their heterodox past. Thus, there may be ex-Anglicans still with their Protestant mentality who want a ‘refomed’ Orthodoxy in their own image, since they, received prematurely and not yet ready for the Orthodox Church, are unable to cast off their own personal, cultural and spiritual prejudices. Either such will mature, or else they will lapse. Unable to cast off their Establishment class views, whether of left or right, they will never become Orthodox, however well-read.

Conclusion

The title of this essay is formed by the words of the ever-memorable Metropolitan Laurus (+ 2008), said to me in May 2006, on the need to conserve the integrity of the Holy Orthodox Faith. However, his words were in the same line as those of three generations of Russian bishops of the Diaspora before him, of Archbishop Antony of Geneva (+ 1994), of St John of Shanghai (+ 1966) and of Metropolitan Antony of Kiev (+ 1936), the first First Hierarch of the Church Outside Russia. They all agree, in words as in deeds, that any immixture of spiritual impurity in the Faith is a dead end precisely because it is unspiritual and what is unspiritual by definition brings death. It is for us to follow with care their words, deeds and lives, so that we do nor err from the Tradition of the Church through impure influences from outside Her. And this we can do through faithfulness.

The Last Bastion of Orthodoxy

But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

Rev. 2, 25

Introduction

For 100 years, ever since 1914, the world has constantly been at war. This is because, before the final and inevitable triumph of Christ, a One World Government must come to power in Jerusalem. Hence the recent preparatory visit there of Pope Francis, accompanied by an imam, a rabbi and a Greek Patriarch. The assaults on all the Orthodox Churches are to be seen in the light of this preparation. However, the main obstacle to the enthronement of that government, and it will be an enthronement, is the resurgent Russian Orthodox Church. This is why the multinational chorus of the Western media, orchestrated and fed as one by the powers that be, so violently expresses its hostility to this last bastion of the Church of God on earth, so proving its importance.

The Seven Ancient Churches

The first phase of the assault, launched as long ago as 1909, was on the Seven ancient Churches. First to be tempted was the tiny and impoverished Patriarchate of Constantinople, weakened by flattering its Greek nationalism or phyletist Hellenism. The assault was then spread to the three other tiny and impoverished but also ancient Patriarchates in the Middle East and the rest of the Greek-speaking world in Greece, Cyprus and Albania. Today, as the Patriarchate of Constantinople is tempted by Uniatism, the faithful in its jurisdiction, led by the monks of Mt Athos, resist and look to freed Russia for deliverance from the chains of modernism, ecumenism and even apostasy, provoking the question: Will these Churches survive until 2054?

The Seven New Churches

The second phase of the assault was on the Seven youngest Churches. It came first in the Balkans, by bombing and dividing Serbia, bribing Romania, Bulgaria, as also the Poles, Czechs and Slovaks, into the EU and attempting to undermine Georgia. Then came the attack on the Seventh Church, the Russian. First, they tried to attack her through Syria and the Middle East, but this failed. As President Assad said this week: ‘Russia has saved Syria and the whole Middle East’. So the assault entered a second phase, through the Ukraine, where schism, a civil war and genocide have been instigated, just as they were in Serbia. The aim is to destroy the unity of the Russian Church so that the Russian State, now reviving under the Church’s influence, can also be destroyed.

Conclusion

Thus, the powerbrokers of this world have attempted to destroy the whole Orthodox Church, subordinating it to this world. In the first fifty years of the third millennium they wish to make all fall away from Orthodoxy, just as they made all fall away from Orthodoxy in the Western fifth of the Church in the first fifty years of the second millennium. So they turned to the Russian Orthodox world, undermining its vulnerable, protestantized outer fringes with renovationism. Now they are turning to the marches of the Russian Orthodox world in the western Ukraine, where they continue the genocide of Orthodox under a puppet President who made his oligarch’s fortune not from chocolate, as his PR advisors claim, but from arms-dealing and even worse. Now all is at stake.

The Struggle for Holy Orthodoxy: Secularism, Nationalism and Nominalism

Introduction

‘The struggle for Holy Orthodoxy’ was a phrase of the ever-memorable Metr Laurus. No doubt the many who knew this saintly hierarch much better than us could speak more about how he used it. The phrase, however, is very apt to describe those who seem to be crashing onto the rocks around the Church, without ever attaining Her. Today Holy Orthodoxy is threatened by two external threats, but above all by one internal threat. Only by struggling against all three of them can we win the struggle. What are these threats?

Secularism

The first threat is symbolised by the recent announcement that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a pan-European group, has passed a resolution condemning circumci-sion of children as a violation of human rights. The resolution was passed a few days ago with 78 votes in favour to just 13 against. 15 abstained from the vote. This wave of anti-Semitism against all Semites, Jews as well as Arab Muslims, may seem to some Orthodox Christians not to be our concern. However, it is.

Now, as we have seen with the furore around the practice of homosexuality, all faith is under threat from Western secularism, which is being spearheaded by the EU. This ‘secularism’, in fact just another name for atheism, threatens the catholicity, integrity and freedom of the Orthodox Church. Today it is against Jew and Muslim, tomorrow it will be the banning of Orthodox baptism, which will mean that the prophecy of St Seraphim of Vyritsa (+ 1949), that Europeans will be forced to go to Russia for baptism, will come true.

Without the sense of catholicity, integrity and freedom the Local Orthodox Churches are threatened by the development of personality cults, which we saw developing when the Russian Church was not free under the Soviet yoke; then those who did not want the Russian Church to be reduced to a personality cult, left for freedom. But when the personality in question died, those who had created the cult also left, for their only attachment to the Church had been the dead personality whom they had culted.

Without the sense of catholicity, integrity and freedom, the Orthodox Churches are also threatened by homosexualisation, the result of the lack of monastic life. We saw this with the notorious Archbishop German Aav in Finland in the 1920s and the ensuing ‘Finlandisation’ of many parishes there, which have still not recovered. We have seen similar problems in the recent past in the USA and today the horrible problems created by homosexual plotters in the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, who slandered and ejected their Metropolitan.

Nationalism

Nationalism anywhere is a spiritual danger. Nationalism in the Church leads to the ethnic religion of the narrow and self-centred cultural ghetto, the petty religion of the pharisee and the sectarian. It belongs to a primitive world of isolation, for it says that one’s tribal group is above Christ. Soviet nationalism, still infecting Russia, is a good example of this. However, this is also a generational phenomenon which does not last, because it is incapable of bearing fruit in the next generation, which rejects it, unable to bear its constricting narrowness.

We well remember at the end of the 1970s studying at St Serge in Paris and the views of the late rector, Protopresbyter Alexei Knyazev, on the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the very Patriarchate to which he belonged. Having suffered in the 1960s from that Patriarchate’s three-year long abandonment of his diocese, he had been to the Phanar and asked for proof that the Patriarch there really did have universal authority among the Local Orthodox Churches as he claimed and was not simply, as he put it, ‘a petty Balkan bishop’.

He did not receive any proof and so in the 1970s tried to bring his jurisdiction back to the Russian Orthodox Church. Today’s paranoid misreport in the ‘EU Greek Reporter’ (http://eu.greekreporter.com/2013/10/21/conflicts-in-the-orthodox-ecumenical-council/) says indeed that the Patriarchate of Constantinople missed its unitive vocation during the Cold War through its nationalism. The article confirms that petty nationalistic jealousy on the part of the US-run Greek Patriarchate is delaying the convening of an Inter-Orthodox Conference.

The political jealousy of the Phanar with regard to Russian Orthodox Ukraine, which it recently tried to take over with US and EU backing, with regard to Russian Orthodox missionary work carried out for well over a century in Japan, China and the USA (as also in Poland and Czechoslovakia) and with regard to Russia’s present vital role in the Middle East in supporting the now Arab-run Patriarchate of Antioch against American interventionism, is not conducive to inter-Orthodox co-operation.

Nominalism

Despite the external irritants of Secularism and petty Nationalism – and not only Greek – the real enemy of the Church is internal. It is called Nominalism. This is the spirit that decides that membership of the Church is defined as three visits to church per lifetime, for baptism, marriage and funeral. This is the spirit that decides that membership of the Church is defined as a fifteen-minute visit on Easter Night. This is the spirit that decides that membership of the Church is defined as a thirty-minute visit once a month to ‘listen to the choir’.

This is the spirit that decides that membership of the Church is defined as belonging to the 80% who sometimes attend but do not contribute, and not the 20% who take an active part in Church life and without whom the Church would not exist. This is also the spirit that decides that membership of the Church is defined as living the consumerist lifestyle of this world; the Church is a supermarket, from which the consumer is free to choose whatever they like, that is, only ‘the nice, comfortable parts’.

Such a consumerist distortion of Church life in particular affects the demographics of any country that has fallen to nominalism, including once Orthodox countries. There, a large family is considered to be a burden, even a curse, by the consumerist. They say: How can you ‘enjoy’ life when you have a large family? Thus the world has fallen to the greatest holocaust in human history, greater than that of Hitler, Stalin and Mao; this is the holocaust of abortion, the greatest genocide and suicide in history.

All the once Orthodox countries have been infected by this holocaust. Thus, Russia cannot populate its expanses; China will do it instead. It has been calculated that if the atheist Revolution had never taken place, Russia would today have a population of over 600 million. How then can it be that in such a country the prophecies of rebirth will come right? Those who ask this question forget that prophecies are always conditional on repentance. Even so, it is true that Russia may not have quantity, but it may at least have quality.

Conclusion

Today Europe has finished its history. By its own choice it has nothing more to say; so it is no longer a civilisational choice. As for the USA, it has, like its films, only technology, the ‘shock and awe’ of special effects. As for other lands, they have people and productivity, but their cultures, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Animist, have lost the original impetus that came from faith and have only nationalism or violence. Only the multinational Church of Rus still bears a creative civilisation. The world will choose that – or die.