DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF ST. JOHN, ARCHBISHOP OF SHANGHAI AND SAN FRANCISCO
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ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN WITNESS (USPS 412-260)
is published monthly by St. Nectarios American Orthodox Cathedral,
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Fr. Neketas S. Palassis, Editor Email: frneketas@stnectariospress.com
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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 Patriarchates 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 to return 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 the Church.

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 Ecumenical Patriarch.

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 observed.

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 headquarters.

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 hierarch.

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 Court.

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 Christians: Anathema."

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).

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 the Church 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 approved 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.

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(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 expedited shipment.)

(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 surrounding 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



St. Nectarios Press