DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF ST. JOHN, ARCHBISHOP OF SHANGHAI AND SAN
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN WITNESS (USPS 412-260)
is published monthly by St. Nectarios American Orthodox Cathedral,
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JUNE 2004, VOL 38, No. 6, (1537)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. "Turko-Hellenic Rapprochement"
2. The Anathema of 1054
3. St. John the Romanian and His Censored Life
4. Canonical Churches: What Does it Mean?
5. From the Orthodox Catechism of 1872
6. Gender Equality on Mt. Athos
7. A Curious Change in the Anathema on Ecumenism
8. New Titles from the Book Center
There is no prayer so quickly heard as the prayer whereby a man asks
to be reconciled with those who are wroth with him. For when he charges
himself with the offence, this prayer is immediately answered.
St. Isaac the Syrian
1. "TURKO-HELLENIC RAPPROCHEMENT"
On June 4th, 2002, the Greek Television channel "High" it was reported
that a Metropolitan performed the sacred mystery of
baptism in the Patriarchal church where the additional sponsor was a
Turkish Muslim woman Ebrou Sanver. After the baptism
the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew "congratulated the parents and the
sponsors and told them, 'this event that a Muslim
woman has become the Godmother of an Orthodox is proof of
Turko-Hellenic rapprochement and must become an example for everyone,
so they can all acquire a Moslem godparent". This unbelievable item was
originally published in an Athens newspaper (Eleftheri Ora, June 7,
2002). It was republished in periodical from Salonica, Parakatothiki,
May-June, 2002 issue. Orthodoxos Typos, in its September 13, 2002,
issue made a brief comment with the headline: "Baptisms with Moslem
Godparents. To this day, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has yet to deny
these anti-Orthodox actions". (Orthodoxos Typos,
issue # 1474, October 4, 2002)
2. THE ANATHEMA OF 1054 by Dr. Alexander Kalomiros
Anathema means anything that has been separated from God and the Church
of the Christians and has been dedicated to the devil. It is of great
importance that one understand that it is not the Church that separates
someone from God by some official act, it is not the hierarchs who make
him anathema, nor yet is it God Who banishes a man from Him; it is man
himself who makes himself anathema, who dismisses the Grace of God and
the Gift of the Holy Spirit from within himself
and flees far from God. It is only after this that the Church steps in
to certify and to proclaim this fact, with the
purpose of protecting first the Divine Gifts from any contact with the
blasphemous, and second the faithful from pollution. The anathema is
the formal proclamation of the Church that such-and-such a man or group
of men have ceased to be Christians, have lost the Grace of God and the
Gift of the Holy Spirit, and in conscience are outside the Church,
enslaved of their own will to the Prince of this world. The bishops
have no right to excommunicate a person on their own.
St. Maximus tells us, "If a bishop excommunicates someone against the
Will of God, the Divine Wrath does not fall upon this person." An
unjust anathema of a bishop cannot force God to withdraw His Grace from
a man or Church, nor is it possible for the opposite to occur; that is,
for an unjust lifting of an anathema to force God to enter the hearts
of men who reject Him, or to turn a group of heterodox into a Church of
God. "Thus the hierarchs have the power of excommunication as
expressors of the divine statutes. This is not to say that the All-Wise
Godhead slavishly follows their irrational whims, but that they are
guided by the Spirit regarding those worthy of excommunication" (St.
Dionysius the Areopagite: On Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, Chapter 7).
What happened then with Athenagoras? (Athenagoras was Ecumenical
Patriarch from 1948 to 1972) Why did he raise the anathema against
papacy which was in force for centuries without its being challenged by
any Orthodox, and which had not only been accepted unanimously as true
by the Church through official documents and proclamations by all the
and local Churches, but also had become a deeply embedded matter of
ecclesiastical conscience, having been upheld by all
the Saints after the Schism and renewed by the decisions of so many
Great Orthodox Synods (1485, 1583, 1593, 1727, 1838, 1895)? Two things
may have happened: either Athenagoras does not know what an anathema is
and considers it a barbaric and
insulting action unworthy of a Christian, as many laymen and newspaper
reporters seem to feel, and thus naturally wants to seek forgiveness
and erase the memory of such an act; or he does know what it means, and
his actions may be explained in two ways: he either believes that as
Patriarch he has jurisdiction over the Grace of God and may force God
His Grace from whence He has withdrawn it, or he believes that the
Orthodox Church has been in error for these nine
centuries and that, at last, only he and his followers have seen the
light of truth after all this time of darkness.
But whichever of these may have occurred, one thing is certain:
Athenagoras and his followers are at this moment at odds with the
Orthodox Church and in opposition to the judgement and will of God,
which for nine centuries has been expressed and is being expressed "by
the guidance of the Spirit" in His Church.
By the Anathema against Papism the Church proclaimed that the Pope and
his followers abandoned the Church, lost the truth
(which is Christ), and were submerged in the depths of error from which
Christ came to free them. Their teachings were declared a delusion of
the evil one, and a poison to the souls of men, and any communication
with them makes us like them by cutting us off from the Grace of God,
from His Church, and estranges us from the path of salvation, placing
us rather on the road to perdition.
But Athenagoras, by raising this Anathema, announced that all this is
false, that the Pope and his followers were unjustly
excommunicated, that the Church wrongly held the doctrines of Papism to
be false, and that, in truth, Papism is as much a
Church of God as is Orthodoxy. What separates us? We are already
united; we are already one Church; the Schism has already
ceased to exist. Since the Grace of God works through their sacraments
as well as ours, and since the Faith is the same for them as well as
for us, what separates us? Ecclesiastical jurisdiction? But this
separates the Greeks from the Bulgarians, and the Russians from the
Ukrainians without their being separated from the One Church.
From this, we may conclude that, in fact, the antagonism between
Athenagoras and the Church is dogmatic in nature. The Church proclaims
that the teachings of Papism are falsehoods; Athenagoras comes today to
proclaim that they are truths. This is the meaning of the raising of
the Anathema. Athenagoras sides with Papism, and-together with all his
followers, together with all who even commemorate him, together with
all who have whatever ecclesiastical communion with him-rejects the
Faith of the Church.
It is impossible for the Church to raise an anathema which she herself
leveled on a heretical system or a heresiarch. To do this would be a
denial of herself. The anti-christian and blasphemous papal system has
been condemned once and for all by the Church and not even an
Ecumenical Synod can raise it, because should it do so, it would be at
odds with the Church and Holy Tradition, and therefore would not be a
genuine Synod. Even if Papism were to cease to exist, the anathema
against the pope and his followers would remain within the memory of
the Church, as has the anathema against Arius and the
Arians. Nor yet is it possible for us to speak of the repentance and
return of Papism, for Papism is in itself a gross sin against the
Spirit-and sin cannot repent-it either exists or it does not. Man must
abandon sin if he is to be free of
it. In order for the westerners to return to the Church, they must
purge themselves from Papism, Protestantism, and all the other errors
of the west. Let not those who continue to bear these errors delude
themselves into thinking that they may become Orthodox Christians.
The Pope and Athenagoras contend that the Anathema of 1054 "related
only to the persons involved, and not to the Churches."
It is possible that these two who seek to fool the faithful do not know
that within the Church there is no such thing as a personal quarrel,
that no anathema is ever leveled for personal reasons, and that when a
hierarch is condemned, all who
agree with him or succeed him are anathematized also? Even if it were
true that the Anathema of 1054 was of limited significance then-when we
note the many added heresies of the Latins, when we take into account
that the whole Church has
supported the Anathema formally many times in Pan-Orthodox Synods, when
we consider that the signatures of all the hierarchs of the Church
after 1054 have been added to it, that it has been broadened and
strengthened, sealed with the life
and blood of the martyrs, with the teachings and precepts of all the
Saints, even with miracles, that it has become part of the conscience
of all genuine children of the Faith throughout the world where the
Orthodox Church exists-then we may understand that this which
Athenagoras sought to eradicate was not just a simple document, but the
very Faith and Life of the Church.
Athenagoras and those who continue to have ecclesiastical communion
with him may believe that they have voided the Anathema
of the Church against Papism, but in actuality, they themselves have
fallen under the Church's awful anathema.
3. ST. JOHN THE ROMANIAN AND HIS CENSORED LIFE
It's strange. Some people recognize the holiness of the men and women
of God, but they don't keep their teachings or emulate their lives. "Ye
call me Lord, Lord, but ye do not the things which I say" (Luke 6:46).
And in addition, they sometimes muzzle the teachings of the Saints in a
very provocative way.
The life of our holy father John the Romanian was published recently in
Greek by the Sacred Monastery of Gregoriou
of the Holy Mountain, Athos. Since the good fathers of the monastery
are educated and erudite, they did a very commendable
job to a certain degree.
Our holy father, Saint John, was one of the rare spiritual
personalities of the twentieth century. His holy relics
were fragrant when they were uncovered from the earth, and to this very
day they remain incorrupt.
The new calendar Patriarchate of Romania has recognized him as a saint
and included his name in the canonical list
of saints of the Romanian Church. This, however, is quite ironic. Saint
John was a zealot. Neither in Romania, nor later in Jerusalem, did he
ever give the Holy Mysteries to new calendarists. He told everyone that
the new calendar churches had no grace and he considered their
sacraments invalid 3/4 and this at a time when the heresy of Ecumenism
had not yet progressed as it has today.
Consequently, when the Patriarchate of Romania declared him a saint, it
signed its own condemnation. The Athonite fathers of the Monastery of
Gregoriou also signed their own condemnation since, although they
recognize his sanctity, they do not follow his teachings or example.
They include themselves among all those whom Saint John 3/4 for the
entire span of his brief life 3/4 declared to be schismatics and out of
Let us, however, return to the purpose of this article. The Athonite
fathers translated most of the biographical details of Saint John's
life. Nonetheless, there are significant omissions, and these are
worthy of note, especially since
they deal with matters of the calendar issue and the Orthodox Christian
Faith. Saint John considered these matters to be extremely important
and he was absolutely consistent in applying his beliefs on these
issues. This, apparently, presented
some difficulties to the Athonite translators of his life 3/4
especially since many Athonites are "old calendarists" only out of
necessity. So, strangely (or perhaps, not so strangely), our Athonites
decided to conceal some facts under the bushel. Obviously, these facts
bothered the Athonite commemorators of the ecumenistic, new calendar
For the sake of our readers, we would like to supply these omitted
portions. These details, which are part and parcel of
the original Life of Saint John, were recorded by his disciple, Father
Joannicius, and it was this Life precisely which the Athonite
translators had before them when they prepared the Greek edition. This
Life, by the way, has been translated
in its complete form into English.
So now the pieces, which are missing from the puzzle (in the Greek
translation), are put into their place and we get the complete picture.
Note the content of the missing pieces. They may be the most important
part of Saint John's life and message to us:
The following is missing from page 15 of the Greek edition:
At the monastery, [Father John] befriended the oldest and most learned
fathers, with whom he discussed the salvation of the soul and, also,
the calendar change, which then constituted a major topic. He
befriended a brother from Bukovina, which for many years was an
Austrian-occupied territory where the Orthodox suffered violent
persecution from the Latins. This brother, whom the abbot wanted to
enter the monastic order, desired first that he should be truly
baptized by immersion, as the Holy Apostles directed, and not by
sprinkling with water, as it was then the custom in Bukovina. After the
baptism, Elias [Father John's secular name] was tonsured a monk. He
decided to go to Mount Athos where the true Orthodox Calendar was
The following is missing from page 16 of the Greek edition:
In the fall of 1936, he was on his way to the Holy Land, where they
keep the Orthodox Calendar unchanged, as it was inherited from the Holy
Fathers and the Eastern Church.
The following is missing from page 20 of the Greek edition:
After some time, the Patriarch Nicodem [of Romania] passed away and,
according to tradition, all Orthodox patriarchs were to offer forty
days of memorial services. When the Patriarch of Jerusalem also was to
offer a panikhida, Archimandrite Victorin called on Father John to take
part in it. He did not go, however, because Patriarch Nicodem had
persecuted those who continued to follow the truly Orthodox calendar.
Father John had received his ordination here in Jerusalem, where the
true Orthodox calendar is celebrated; and, for the zeal of keeping pure
and undefiled his vows, he refused to serve or to communicate with
other priests who did not follow the true calendar.
The following is missing from page 23 of the Greek edition:
From the moment he was ordained to the end of his life, Father John had
not concelebrated with another priest. When he
was celebrating the holy liturgy, he did not mention at Proskomide the
names of certain priests who, he had heard, were Masons.
As far as we can ascertain, these are the parts that were left out "
censored?" by the Athonite translators.
The truth sometimes slips by the censors and reveals itself. And those
who wish to call themselves Orthodox are left with empty titles! They
claim that they "follow steadfastly in the steps of the Holy Fathers,"
but in actuality, they cut and paste the teachings of the Saints
according to their own heterodox measure.
4. CANONICAL CHURCHES: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The following article appeared in its unedited from in the OCW in the
December 2003 issue. For our readers' benefit we present the final
draft which is what should have appeared.
A new definition has crept into World Orthodoxy in recent years. World
Orthodoxy has begun to recognize Orthodox Churches on the basis of
their being 'canonical'. By this newly accepted definition, to be
'canonical' a church must be in full communion with Constantinople.
Constantinople has become World Orthodoxy's touchstone. In fact,
occasionally there are press releases that describe the Patriarchate of
Constantinople as an Eastern Papacy or "the leader of World Orthodoxy".
The late Patriarch Demetrius described the Ecumenical Patriarch as the
foremost bishop of Orthodoxy. If a church falls away from communion
with him, it is no longer 'canonical'.
Let's ask a simple question: How did the understanding of the term
'canonical' change? According to the Holy Fathers, the venerable term,
'Canonical' always referred to the pious observance of the Holy Canons
of the Church, and, most certainly, to those Canons relating to the
beliefs and pious practices of the holy Orthodox Church.
However, because of wars and political turmoil in the 20th century, the
administrative structure of the Church became disorganized, most
especially in the Diaspora. 'Mother,' in other words, ethnic, Churches
sought to preserve Orthodoxy by preserving its canonical organization,
i.e., the organization described by the holy canons for dioceses and
synods. Sadly, in the course of this organizational struggle for
external order, any canons relating to the Apostolic Faith and the
doctrines of the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils, that is, to her
inner, mystical life, were deliberately overlooked by the hierarchs who
considered themselves to be the architects of this quest for order.
These men were prompted by the syncretistic and anti-dogmatic spirit
then prevalent, a spirit which continues today, a spirit which controls
all current thought and practice in World Orthodoxy.
Satisfied that they had jettisoned the mystical life of the Church of
Christ, these revisionist hierarchs in the Diaspora, and elsewhere,
hastily sacrificed the Church's unity in Apostolic truth for the modern
idea, foreign to guidance of the Holy Fathers, of the unity of mankind.
This modernizing group imposed an external administrative union in
order to preserve the unity of an outward ecclesiastical apparatus, now
stripped of the inner life of the "faith once for all delivered to the
Saints" (Jude 3) with all parishes welded together under one
As an example of how this new restructuring of Orthodoxy in the
Diaspora functioned, Parish Council members taking their pledge in
Greek Archdiocese churches were asked to promise to be obedient to the
canons and traditions of the Orthodox Church. Generally, these canons
and traditions are viewed as abstract principles, which were not
defined or clarified by the priest administering the pledge. This
pledge is usually interpreted as complete obedience to the ruling
The renovating hierarchy, as the chief plank in its modernizing
platform advanced the novel theory, unknown to the Holy Fathers, that
the canons are Laws which are to be interpreted by the ruling hierarch
who decides what is and what is not 'canonical' in this new way of
thinking. This is the way that the Patristic, truly Orthodox,
understanding of the canons was set aside.
A former bishop of the Greek Archdiocese who taught at Holy Cross in
Boston shared his thoughts with his students about the Holy Canons. He
remarked that over the years he had carefully studied the canons and
had come to one conclusion: there was only one canon which needed to be
obeyed in the church. He cynically declared that only those canons
which spoke of hierarchal authority and obedience to the bishop needed
to be obeyed. All other canons could be ignored.
Such a militaristic or, better, papal interpretation of the canons
allowed individual patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops and bishops
the freedom to act entirely apart from the wisdom and guidance of Holy
Tradition. Such renovationism, so they thought, gave them unrestricted
license to ignore any and all of the Holy Canons. They thus played the
role of the sole authentic interpreters of the canons. This attitude
reduces all the canons to one straightforward operating principle:
"Obey your Bishop." With this axe in hand, the modernizing hierarchy
quickly proceeded to align the Church with the spirit of the age and
not the Spirit of Christ.
Such a procedure may well bring to mind to mind the current method by
which decisions are made in the Supreme Court of the United States of
America. The Supreme Court now feels free to change prior decisions of
the Court as well as laws passed by legislative bodies on the basis of
the contemporary understanding and interpretation of moral values. For
example, abortion may have been wrong at one time and condemned by the
Supreme Court but the Roe vs. Wade decision defined that there were
other value systems which needed to be acknowledged. For the modern way
of thinking, morality becomes a relative value and is never absolute.
The modern mind desires to live in a world where there are no absolutes
(aside for its demand that there are no absolutes), aside from its
nihilism. Further, there is no Divine Authority on which to base any
decisions. God has been dethroned and in His place stands the Supreme
The interpretation of the Holy Canons has thus become a selective
response controlled by the contemporary moral and irreligious scene.
Ecumenism, a form of relativism, is in. The many canons forbidding
joint prayer with non-Orthodox are out. These canons, so the story
goes, are "old fashioned." There is no hesitation in having
non-Orthodox Christian persons participate alongside the clergy of
World Orthodoxy in wedding services, vesper services, Theophany
services, and even in Divine Liturgies. And this has happened often
enough over the past 40 years that it has become a standard practice.
Many, but not all, Orthodox Christians are not surprised or disturbed
when such con-celebrations take place. Very many Orthodox Christians in
the so-called 'Canonical' Churches are confident that the union of the
churches has already occurred. The rites of the Roman Catholic and
Protestant Churches are now acknowledged as "grace filled" by all the
so-called 'Canonical' jurisdictions, while the Mysteries of the
traditional Orthodox Christians are deemed as invalid. What is ignored
is that the Church has steadfastly taught that outside the Church there
is no salvation; no mysteries (St. Cyprian of Carthage ? 268).
Indeed, some clergy of the Greek Archdiocese are known to have declared
that the union of the churches has already occurred. The Antiochian
jurisdiction's blasé attitude has allowed Moslems to be
godparents, and priests to concelebrate in religious processions with
Roman Catholic clergy. The O.C.A. has allowed a Monastery that openly
recognizes Roman Catholic saints as Orthodox Saints and whose abbot has
said that there is no theological difference between Orthodoxy and
Roman Catholicism to remain uncorrected by O.C.A. hierarchy. Greek
Archdiocese clergy have been scandalized by the fact that the monastery
does not keep the fast of Great Lent but allows the eating of meat
during Great Lent. The hierarchs of SCOBA (Standing Conference of
Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America) have forbidden their clergy to
baptize Roman Catholics and Protestants because, according to these
hierarchs, those in heresy have baptismal grace!
The canons are clear in that heretical baptism is not a baptism but is
a curse and defilement. The Holy Fathers teach with one voice that the
"One baptism" referred to in the Nicene Creed is the mystery performed
under the guidance of a right-teaching, right-believing, Orthodox
bishop. If one recognizes the non-Orthodox baptisms then why shouldn't
one recognize the other non-Orthodox rites: chrismation, Holy
Communion, etc? Actually, many of the clergy of the 'canonical'
jurisdictions have already done so.
What makes a church truly canonical? Is it not the adherence to what
has been taught everywhere, at all times, and by all the Orthodox
Fathers of the Church (St. Vincent of Lerins? 445)? If we cannot
confess our faith and identify it with the faith of the Church's
confessors and saints, then indeed we are not confessing the Orthodox
Christian faith, but we are in reality mocking our ancient Orthodox
Faith. But first of all, pray that we may not be lead astray by the
"sirens of ecumenism". We need to be bonded to the spiritual ark of the
church and not give in to the compromised faith of those who have
rejected the Orthodox Faith and accepted a new adulterated faith, which
no longer represents the faith confessed by the Holy Fathers, that is,
" the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
And one final point: Not one canon of the Orthodox Church teaches that
one has to be in communion with Constantinople (or any other "ancient
see") in order to be canonical or Orthodox!
5. FROM THE ORTHODOX CATECHISM OF 1872 OFFICIALLY APPROVED BY THE
ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE REGARDING VARIOUS HERETICS.
Many times we hear from ecumenists that the Orthodox Church never
officially identified the Roman Catholics and Protestants as heretics.
However, in the "Sacred Catechism of the Orthodox Church" written by
Demetrios N. Vernardakis we find the exact definition of Roman
Catholics and Protestants as heretics.
The catechism was written in response to a competition announced by the
Patriarchate of Constantinople for the best Catechism to be used on the
Greek schools of Constantinople. Vernardakis' submitted his work,
entitled "Sacred Catechism," and it was selected as the best one. In
fact, in his forward Patriarch Anthimos states that the Ecclesiastical
Committee which was appointed to select the best among the catechisms
that had been submitted in response to the contest and declared that
his work was the best in existence. This catechism was published in
1874 with a formal statement about it by Patriarch Anthimos, dated June
2, 1872 with a foreword by him, accompanied by the names of ten members
of the Holy Synod.
The English language edition was published in Cyprus in 1903. We are
most grateful to Dr. Constantine Cavarnos for discovering this
catechism and publishing it.
From the catechism we cite the following passages:
"Question. Was it only of old time that there were (such) heresies and
heretics, or do they exist even now?
Answer. They exist, unhappily, even now, in very great numbers.
Question. What are the greatest of these heresies?
Answer. The first is the heresy of the Latins, Westerns, or Papists,
who have been separated from the true Church of Christ, and are subject
to the Pope of Rome.
Questions. What other?
Answer. Next are the Protestants, who have been separated from the
Pope, and are no longer subject to him. They are subdivided into
Lutherans, Calvinists, and numberless other heresies."
Take from the above Catechism, p. 47.
6. GENDER EQUALITY ON MT. ATHOS
(First Things, Dec. 2003)
The peninsula projects into the Aegean Sea from the coast of Macedonia
and terminates in Mount Athos ("the Holy Mountain").
In A.D. 961, St. Athanasius the Athonite founded a monastery there, and
in the centuries since there have been twenty Orthodox monasteries.
They are the guardians of some of the most precious art and venerable
traditions of Orthodoxy. No woman may set foot on the holy mount. Nor a
female cat, dog, or chicken. Now a plenary session of the European
Parliament has overwhelmingly declared that 1,042 years of
discrimination against women is enough. The Greek members of the
parliament abstained from the vote. The deputy foreign minister of
Greece says the parliament's demand "would be in
direct confrontation with fundamental, 1,000-year-old traditions, our
faith, and the monastic spirit of the Mountain." To be sure, respond
the parliamentarians, but gender equality is worth such a
confrontation, and gender equality is trump.
The Greeks are standing fast, sort of.'
7. A CURIOUS CHANGE IN THE ANATHEMA ON ECUMENISM: WHAT'S GOING ON?
Adapted from Church News, Vol. 12, No. 4, April 2000
In 1983 the COUNCIIL OF BISHOPS of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside
Russia (ROCOR) made a bold decision to anathematize
the heresy of Ecumenism. The anathema disturbed many timorous Orthodox
circles, both within ROCOR and without. Unfortunately, compromise of
faith and tolerance of heresy are very much in keeping with the
contemporary spirit of the
times and are widely supported by some who call themselves Orthodox.
They display a timidity and lack of heroic dedication to the faith of
Christ totally out of keeping with two thousand years of martyric
Orthodox confession. Untold thousands of Orthodox Christians in the
twentieth century alone suffered deprivation, humiliation, and death
rather than sanction the attenuation of the faith.
In 1983, then Archbishop Vitaly, now Metropolitan of ROCOR, stood
firmly for this decision and gave it his unqualified support in
published leaflet, "Orthodox Review" (#58, April 1984). He wrote,
"'Without doubt, the time for
discussion and polemics has passed and the time has come to judge this
movement and, however insignificant our Council
of 1983 may seem, it has condemned Ecumenism and anathematized it in
the following words-. 'To those who attack the Church of Christ by
teaching that the Lord's Church is divided into so-called "branches"
which differ in doctrine and way
of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed
in the future when all "branches" or sects or denominations, and even
religions, will be united into one body, and who do not distinguish the
priesthood and mysteries of
the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the baptism and
Eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore, to those
who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned heretics or who
advocate, disseminate, or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under
the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated
For a number of years this very same text was announced in the Synodal
cathedral on the Sunday of Orthodoxy.
In the meantime, however, rumors circulated widely (even quoting the
words of Archbishop Laurus, Secretary of the
Synod of Bishops) that during the sessions of the 1983 Council of
Bishops the matter of Ecumenism had allegedly never been discussed, but
that Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) had somehow manipulated an unauthorized
conciliar decree behind the backs
of the bishops of the Council. Nevertheless, the periodical
Pravoslavnaya Rus-' (#9, 1998), when reporting the major
decrees of the Council of Bishops, wrote: "In connection with the
matter of Ecumenism, which at present is causing not a few problems
even within the local Orthodox churches, after a thorough discussion of
the question, it was decided to confirm the anathematizing of
Ecumenism, the test of which had been approved at the conclusion of the
Bishops' Council of the ROCA in 1983' [emphasis added by the editor of
Church News reports having received a taped cassette of the service in
the ROCOR cathedral on the Sunday of Orthodoxy
this very year (2000). The cassette shows that the text of the original
Anathema appearing above had been changed to read as follows: "To
tbeosophists and like heretics, to Masons, occultists, spiritualists,
magicians who have fallen away from the Orthodox faith and who accept
other (heresies) to the scandal of our brethren, to the persecutors of
of Christ and to impious apostates who attack the Church of Christ, and
to those who have communion with them and with these heretics or who
abet them, or defend the new heresy of Ecumenism under pretext of
brotherly love or the unification
of the various Christian groups: Anathema."
The original. text of the Anathema of the Heresy of Ecumenism, given
above, was decreed by the, Council of Bishops in 1983
and confirmed again with the same text by another Council of Bishops in
1999, giving rise to the interesting question: Since between 1998 and
2000 no Council of Bishops was convoked, on what grounds, then, has
-the Synod of Bishops (just an executive body within the Council,
according to its statutes dared on its own to change a text that was
by the two previous Councils of Bishops?
The editor of Church News concludes: 'in any case, the new text
composed by the Synod of Bishops not only demonstrates a presumption on
the rights belonging to the entire Council of Bishops, but on top of
that was watered down, and was combined with a long known anathema of
atheists and others so as to now include Fcumenists."
COMMENT: It has often been necessary for the Church, guided by the Holy
Spirit, to exercise great patience and fortitude against what appears
to be overwhelming obstacles to the preservation of the true faith
delivered just once to the saints.
An examination of a fifty-six years segment of Church council history
between the First and the Second Ecumenical Council, 325 to 381 AD,
shows that bishops who adhered to the Arian and Subordinationist
heresies most often appeared
triumphant over orthodox bishops, in the thirty or so councils which
have captured the attention of history. Orthodoxy
seemed all but suppressed in the east by the year355AD.
The lesson of history is that the true Orthodox must be prepared to
witness the apostasy of entire
Patriarchates and ecclesiastical jurisdictions, and the loss of
historic church buildings monasteries, and monuments
while the true Church retreats to catacomb and house-church status.
The Holy Spirit, Who does not force the will of man, waits strong but
patient until such times as heroic saints are
again raised up on synergy with Him to bring about the resurrection of
the fullness of Orthodoxy. The gates of Hades will not prevail over the
true Church of Christ!
FINAL COMMENT: Although the ROCOR may or may not have changed the
wording of the Anathema against Ecumenism in the 90s, Metropolitan
Vitaly completed altered its interpretation in his Nativity Encyclical
of 1986, See THE STRUGGLE AGAINST ECUMENISM, Holy Orthodox Church in
North America, Boston, 1998, pp. 211-216.
8. NEW FROM THE BOOK CENTER
Click here to
order the titles below
A special purchase from the magnificent exhibition at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York: BYZANTIUM: Faith and Power (1261-1557)
(BFP) BYZANTIUM: Faith and Power
(1261-1557) edited by Helen C. Evans. The "catalog" of the exhibition
of the great resurgence of Byzantine art during the Palaiologan period
in Byzantium and other Orthodox countries. A treasure of information
and full-color illustrations. Large format. 658pp. Paper e$50.00 ($2.00
shipping surcharge for expedited
(GOB) THE GLORY OF BYZANTIUM:
Arts and Culture of the Middle Byzantium Era, A.D. 843-1261 edited by
Helen C. Evans and
William D. Wixom. The catalog of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's first
exhibition in 1997 of Byzantine religious and secular art. The
excellent text and full-color reproductions make this book a treasure.
Large format. 576pp. Paper e$50.00 ($2.00 shipping surcharge for
(ICAL) ICONS OF BYZANTIUM 2005
CALENDAR A full-collar wall calendar of icons from the Holy Monastery
of St. Catherine in Sinai - part of the collection at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art exhibition of 2004. 7 x 14 in. e$8.00
(SCM) SAINT CATHERINE'S
MONASTERY, SINAI, EGYPT: A Photographic Essay by Helen C. Evans &
Bruce White. Published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this book
captures the relationship between the Monastery and the grandeur of the
landscape, in addition to, as well as the warmth of beauty of the
monastery itself. Large format, full color. A real
treasure! 96pp. Paper e$15.00