Clergy and Monastics
Thessaloniki, November 19, 2014
Below you will find a text prepared by the Synaxis of Orthodox Clergy and Monastics and signed by all its members which presents and examines the novel ecclesiological views recently expressed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. You will note that six of the Church of Greece’s hierarchs—Andrew of Dryinoupolis, Seraphim of Piraeus, Paul of Glyfada, Seraphim of Kythira, Kosmas of Aetolia and Akarnanias, and Jeremiah of Gortynos—have already added their signatures to this document and it will certainly be signed by a broader segment of the clergy and laity in the coming days.
The effect of this text will be greatly increased if you, and any other clergyman, monastic or layman whom you may know, add your signatures to the following document and then digitally sign it, below. Your personal information will not be used for any other purposes than for this petition.
With all due respect and honor,
On behalf of the Synaxis of Orthodox Clergy and Monastics
Archimandrite Athanasios Anastasio
Former Abbot of Great Meteora Monastery
Archimandrite Sarantis Saranto
Rector of the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Marousi, Attica, Greece
Archimandrite Gregory Hadjinicolao
Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery, Ano Gatzeas, Volos, Greece
Elder Efstratios, Priestmonk
Great Lavra Monastery, Mount Athos
Protopresbyter. George Metallinos
Professor Emeritus of the Theological Academy at the University of Athens, Greece
Protopresbyter. Theodore Zissis
Professor Emeritus of the Theological Academy at the University of Thessaloniki, Greece
It was with great sorrow that we all witnessed the events which unfolded in the Holy Land, now a few months ago. Within the context of his meeting with Pope Francis in Jerusalem on 25 May of the present year, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed, amongst other things, a novel ecclesiology, entirely foreign to Orthodoxy. The culmination of years of deviation within the sphere of ecclesiology, and indeed its worst manifestation, this new ecclesiology denies the indissolubility and incorruptibility of the Church, despite the fact that it is, according to the Fathers, “…the Theanthropos (the God-Man) Christ, extended through that ages and unto all eternity. It is for this reason that the Church is without, “…spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Conversely, according to the Patriarch, the Church has been divided, contrary to the will of the Almighty Christ:
1. Various formulations of ‘Divided Church’ ecclesiology.
The One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, founded by the “Word who was in the beginning,” who was “truly with God,” and who “truly was God”, according to the Evangelist of Love, sadly, on account of the dominance of human weakness and of impermanence of the will of the human intellect, was divided in time in the course of her earthly campaign. This brought about a variety of conditions and groups, each of which claiming “authenticity” and “truth” for itself. The Truth is One, however; Christ, and the One Church founded by Him”.
Unfortunately, the human element prevailed, as a result of a build up of “theological,” “practical,” and “social” additions, the Local Churches were led into a division of the unity of the Faith, into isolation, which at times gave rise to hostile polemics.
This position is not entirely new: much earlier, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his view in favour of the equality of the Orthodox Church and the Papal heresy:
A common sacramental conception of the Church has emerged, sustained and passed on in time by the apostolic succession…the Joint Commission has been able to declare that our Churches recognize one another as Sister Churches, jointly responsible for safeguarding the one Church of God, in faithfulness to the divine plan, and in an altogether special way with regard to unity… In this perspective we urge our faithful, Catholics and Orthodox, to reinforce the spirit of brotherhood which stems from the one Baptism and from participation in the sacramental life.
Dialogue is most beneficial, for by means of it we come to recognize the harmful elements of the old leaven, which is a presupposition of true and salvific repentance…Inasmuch as one Church recognizes another Church to be a storehouse of holy grace and a guide leading to salvation, efforts aimed at tearing faithful away from one church in order that they may join another are unacceptable, being inconsistent with the aforementioned recognition. Each local Church is not a competitor of the other local Churches, but rather is one body with them and desires the life of unity in Christ, the restoration of what was disturbed in the past, and not the absorption of the other.
This strange broadening of the Church did not leave the heretical Protestants outside of its bounds. Patriarch Bartholomew had the following to say in 2008 about the 9th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches which took place in Porto Alegre of Brazil in February of 2006:
And so, freed from the tensions of the past and determined to stay together and act together, two years ago at the Ninth Assembly at Porto Alegre, Brazil, we laid down markers for a new stage in the life of the Council, taking account of the present situation in inter-church relations and the changes that are gradually taking place in ecumenical life.
To general astonishment, the final text of that Assembly proclaims about the “churches” of the W.C.C:
Each church is the Church catholic, but not the whole of it. Each church fulfils its catholicity when it is in communion with the other churches…apart from one another we are impoverished.
The Patriarch’s theological advisor, Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, also considers any heretical or schismatic group that employs “baptism” of any kind to be within the church.
Baptism creates a limit to the Church. Now, within this baptismal limit it is conceivable that there may be divisions, but any division within those limits is not the same as the division between the Church and those outside the baptismal limit … within baptism, even if there is a division, one may still speak of the Church.
By arbitrarily widening the boundaries of the Church, Metropolitan John limits the field of heresy. According to him, every heresy that does not expressly contradict Symbol of Faith [the Creed], such as Monophysitism-Monothelitsm (the so-called Pre-Chalcedonians), Iconoclasm, anti-hesychasm, nationalism, etc. is part of the church:
Heresy, meaning the divergence from that which is believed and confessed in the Creed by the Church, automatically sets one outside of the Church. The problem arises, however, from the moment this point of view becomes absolute.
All the above seem to be the extension of an earlier suggestion of Patriarch Athenagoras, the mentor of the subsequent leaders of the pan-heresy of Ecumenism, who said:
The movement toward unity it is not a matter of one Church moving toward the other, but rather let us all re-found the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church together, coexisting in the East and the West as we lived up to 1054 in spite of the theological differences that existed then.
Please read the complete document, see the footnotes and sign the petition here.