The Church Fathers on
LOVE IN TRUTH
(continued from the News/Information page)
The Schism of the Roman Catholic Church from the Eastern Orthodox
Exactly nine hundred years have passed since the separation of the two great Churches of Christendom when the Western Church broke away from the Eastern Orthodox. Many still seek the cause of this most unfortunate division. Actually, it can be found in the difference concerning the Primacy of the Pope of Rome.
Until the Fifth Century A.D. there was not one single instance of dissention or antagonism between the two Churches. The bishop of Rome had always been considered the First in the order of hierarchy. This was a natural consequence of the position in the ranks of hierarchy. The third canon of the Second Ecumenical Council (381) designates the position of honor of the Bishop of Constantinople as second only to that of the Bishop of Rome. This decision of the Council is based on the premise that Constantinople is the new Rome, and incidentally, it has been retained among the titles of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
This indicates, as was brought out at the Council, that the political importance of the city defined the honorary status of the hierarchy. The same fact was repeated with emphasis by the now renown 28th Canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council held at Chalcedon in 451. At that time, the Bishop of Constantinople was acclaimed as equal in honor to the Bishop of Rome.
In the meantime, erroneous beliefs began to circulate in the Church of the West. Of these, the most serious was an addition to the Creed of Nicea-Constantinople concerning the Holy Spirit. The Church of Rome wanted to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds "and from the Son." In Latin, this addition was accomplished by the word, "filioque".
It should be made clear at this point that the Creed or PISTEVO was compiled and authorized as the Christian Confessions of faith by the First and Second Ecumenical Councils. The first seven articles of the Creed were approved at the First Council and the remaining five were composed at the Second Council which was held in Constantinople. The Eighth article states "and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped..." The addition of "filioque" ("and from the Son") was first heard in Spain during the middle of the Sixth Century. From there, this innovation spread to other western countries. It is most noteworthy however, that during the early part of the Ninth Century, Pope Leo III protested against this addition to the Creed. Convinced that it should remain as it has been written and proclaimed by the first two Ecumenical Councils. He ordered that the Creed be inscribed without any change upon two silver plaques. These were placed in St. Peter's at Rome for all to see. This is a historical fact which is accepted by all historians as true.
The first to object strongly to this addition to the Creed, and to other errors of the Western Church, was Photios, the great Patriarch of Constantinople, who flourished in the middle of the Ninth Century. Photios was a brilliant scholar and theologian who held a high position in the Imperial Byzantine Court. He attained great literary fame with his monumental work, "Myrio Biblos", in which he summarized 280 ancient writings of which the majority were subsequently lost. Due to his great ability and exceptional virtues as a layman he was admitted to the priesthood and in a period of six days he was ordained deacon, priest, and bishop. On Christmas Day of 857, he was enthroned as Patriarch of Constantinople.
The discord between the Eastern and the Western Church continued on a livelier vein even after Patriarch Photios. The Eastern Church, with the Patriarch of Constantinople at its head, protested against the errors in dogma taught by the Western Church. Constant appeals were made to Rome to renounce all error and conform with the teachings of the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the first eight centuries. Simultaneously, the Western Church, with the Pope as its head, maintained that the entire Christian Church was obliged to adhere without discussion to the pronouncements of the Roman See. They maintained that the primate of the Church of Rome was the vicar of Christ on earth, because he was supposedly the heir to the primacy of St. Peter whom Christ our Lord had installed as head of the universal Church and who founded the Christian Church of Rome.
Now let us see what we can learn from the original account of the events in quetion:
(a) We should first consider that passage from the Gospel according to St. Matthew upon which the Roman Catholics base the primacy of St. Peter. Our Lord was at Caesarea of Phillippi (Matt.16) when he asked His Disciples, "Whom do men say that I am?" And they said, "Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets." He saith unto them, "but whom say ye that I am?" And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art Christ the Son of the Living God." And Jesus answered and said unto him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."(Matt. 16:13-18)
It is quite evident from these words of our Lord that He built His Church not upon Peter for then He would have clearly said, "Thou art Peter and upon thee I will build my Church," but upon the rock of the true Faith which Peter confessed. Christ our Lord clearly said that His Church is built upon the truth which Peter declared that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. Only through considerable distortion of the text can one draw the conclusion of the Roman Catholics, that Christ built the Church upon Peter.
(b) It is also clear from the Scriptures that St. Peter had no authority over the Apostles. In his Epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul states that when he saw Peter was not thinking correctly, he corrected him in the presence of others, "But when Peter was to come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed" (Gal. 2:11). Further down, St. Paul elaborates by saying, "...when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, "if thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" (Gal. 2:14). On the basis of these words of St. Paul we may justly question, "Is there even a trace of recognition here of Peter's authority to teach without the possibility of error?"
(c) Concerning the foundation of the Christian Church in Rome there is authoritative testimony that it was not accomplished by St. Peter. It was established by Christians who settled in Rome. Moreover, St. Paul considered it his Church. He mentioned this in his epistle to the Romans "...from Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation...for which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you. Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey" (Gal. 15:19-20, 22-23).
From this passage, therefore, we clearly see that St. Paul had no knowledge that St. Peter was in Rome or that Peter had founded the Church there. On the contrary, he says that he feels obliged to preach the gospel where no other Apostle taught so that he would not build upon the foundation laid by another. Surely this is an explicit testimony that St. Peter was in no way connected with the foundation of the Church of Rome. Actually, St. Peter served the Church for many years in Antioch, as verified by St. Jerome, and then went to Rome where he suffered martyrdom with St. Paul.
(d) In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the order of precedence given to the Apostolic Sees was determined exclusively by the political importance of various cities. The Bishop of Rome was recognized as first because Rome was capital of the empire. Originally, the Bishop of Constantinople was designated as second by the Second Ecumenical Council. Subsequently, when Constantinople became the capital of the Byzantine Empire and was referred to as New Rome, The Fourth Ecumenical Council proclaimed the Bishop of Constantinople equal in rank with the Bishop of Rome.
The Bishop of Alexandria was designated third, because his city was then the great center of learning; and following him were the Bishop of Antioch and Jerusalem. If the position of honor were determined not by the political but by the religious significance of the city, does it not stand to reason that the primacy of honor would be reserved for Jerusalem, the Mother Church of Christendom? There would be no dispute in that case, for our Lord lived there, was crucified there and arose from the tomb there. Moreover, the first Christian Church was founded in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.
These are the true and accurate facts as they are brought to light by the authentic documents which make up Ecclesiastical History. It is very unfortunate that the Western Church insists on its viewpoint for so many centuries.
We Orthodox are deeply grieved that our Roman Catholic brethren distort the facts. We are praying daily and will continue to pray that the Roman Catholic Church will again embrace the truth, as many learned laymen of that faith have done already. That event will be one of the most momentous in the entire history of mankind. It will mark the beginning of the fulfillment of the prayer of our Lord on the night of His betrayal, "Father, I pray that they all may be one; as Thou Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me."
St. Nikodemos The Hagiorite Publication Society
From the library of Fr. Nicholas Elias
The Miracle of Saint Spyridon
Approximately thirteen hundred years after his repose, Saint Spyridon's body remains incorrupt on the island of Corfu generating an untold number of miracles. What is significant about this extraordinary miracle and possibly shocking to some of our Christians is the fact that God or His Saints do not necessarily accept the offerings or the prayers of heretical and deluded Christians.
In 1716 the Turks had the island of Corfu under a tight siege. They had 50,000 troops and a good number of ships surrounding the island, cutting its lifeline from land and sea.
The barbarian armies were concentrated at the far walls of the city. Pizani, a general of the forces of the Venetian Republic, was anxiously anticipating the oncoming enemy attack (Corfu and the nearby islands were occupied by Italy at the time). At daybreak on August 11, 1716, St. Spyridon the patron Saint of the island, appeared in front of the enemy lines holding a glistening sword in his right hand. His austere and grandiose appearance horrified the aggressors who began to recede. The Agarenes, panic-stricken by the most awesome presence and fearless attack of the Saint, abandoned weapons, machinery and animals running for their lives. This great miracle became known throughout the island. The Turks had left behind 120 cannons, a good amount of weapons, ammunition, animals and food.
After this powerful, surprising and most obvious miracle, the Venetian ruler Andrew Pizani, a Papist, wanted to erect a Papist altar in the Orthodox Church of St. Spyridon (forever pushing for this was also the Papist Cardinal of the island). However, St. Spyridon appeared to Pizani in a dream saying, "Why are you bothering me? The altar of your faith is unacceptable in my Temple!" Naturally Pizani reported this to the Papist Cardinal who answered that it was nothing but an evil fantasy of the devil who wanted to nullify the noble deed. After this Pizani was very much encouraged, so he ordered the necessary materials to commence construction of the altar. The materials were piled up outside of the temple of St. Spyridon. When the Orthodox priests of the temple and the Greek leaders of the island realized this, they were cut to the heart. They asked to meet with Pizani to beg him to put a stop to this. Pizani's response was quite disheartening. He bluntly said, "As the ruler, I will do whatever I please!" At that moment, the Orthodox community of the island turned their eyes to their Saint beseeching him to put a stop to this abomination.
That same night, St. Spyridon appeared to Pizani as a monk and told him, "I told you not to bother me. If you dare to go through with your decision, you will surely regret it, but by then it will be too late."
The next morning Pizani reported all this to the Papist Cardinal who now accused him of being not only faithless but "yellow". Again, after this, the ruler mustered up enough courage to order the construction of the altar.
The Papists of the island were celebrating their triumph while the Orthodox were deeply grieved. Their grief could not be comforted and with tears they begged for the Saint's intervention to save them from the Papist abomination. The Saint heard their prayers and intervened dynamically. That evening, a terrible storm broke out unleashing a barrage of thunderbolts on Fort Casteli, the base of Pizani and his ammunition barracks. The entire fort ended up in a holocaust. Nine hundred Papist soldiers and civilians were instantly killed from the explosion, but not a single Orthodox-who were not allowed in the fort after dark-was harmed. Pizani was found dead with his neck wedged between two wooden beams. The body of the Papist Cardinal was found thrown a great distance from the fort. But the most amazing fact is that the same night and at the same hour another thunderbolt struck in Venice targeting the compound of Pizani, burning his portrait that hung on the wall. Strangely enough nothing else was damaged. Also, the guard of the ammunition barracks saw the Saint draw near him with a lit torch. He was carried by the Saint near the church of the Crucified without a single scratch.
The Fathers and Truth
"It is impossible to recall peace without dissolving the cause of the schism-the primacy of the Pope exhalting himself equal to God."
St. Mark the Evgenikos
"The Latins are not only schismatics but heretics...we did not separate from them for any other reason other than the fact that they are heretics. This is precisely why we must not unite with them unless they dismiss the addition from the Creed "filioque" and confess the Creed as we do."
St. Mark the Evgenikos
My brothers, I studied for forty and fifty years. I read many books about the Jews, the idolaters, and about the impious and heretics. I studied the depths of wisdom. All the other faiths are false and counterfeit. Only our own faith, the Orthodox Christianity, is True and Holy.
St. Kosmas the Aitolos
Neither the Papist nor the Protestant church can be considered as the True church of Christ. The first was altered by a number of innovations and the accursed despotism (Primacy) due to which resulted the schism from the Orthodox. The same goes for the Protestants whose innumerable innovations lead to total anarchy and chaos. Only the Orthodox church maintained the teachings of Christ flawlessly without a single innovation. Only in the Orthodox church does unity exist. The unity which the Savior was petitioning from the Father saying, "Holy Father keep them in your Name those that you gave me so they can be one just like we were one." (John 17:11...)
St. Nektarios of Aigina
"Those that are not reborn by the divine grace in the only ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH, they do not consist of (comprise) any church, neither visible nor invisible."
"Through the dogma of "Infallibility" the Western church lost its spiritual freedom. It lost its beauty and balance, and was deprived of the wealth of the grace of the Holy Spirit, the presence of Christ- from spirit and soul ended up a dead body. We are truly grieved for the injustice done to the church and we pray from the bottom of our hearts that the Holy Spirit illumine the mind and the heart of the Most Blessed Pontiff to have him return to the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH that which he took from her, something that should never have taken place."
The "Third Fall"
"In the history of mankind there are 3 falls: The fall of Adam, of Judas the Iscariot and that of the Pope. The essence of falling into sin is always the same: the desire to become God by oneself. In this manner, a man insensibly equates himself with the devil, because he also wants to become God by himself to replace God with himself...The fall of the Pope lies exactly in this very thing; to want to replace the God-man with the man..."
Justin Popovich of Serbia
Papacy is a heresy
"The papacy is included among the heretical weeds forever appearing in the church of God which is very often plagued and continues to plague the salvation of mankind in Christ; in being bad seeds and rotten members they are justly cut off from the healthy body and the Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ."
Ecumenical Patriarch Anthimos 1895
"All those of you that are genuine children of Orthodoxy, leave as quick as possible from the priests who succumbed to Latin rule (Uniads), and neither congregate with them nor accept a blessing from their hands."
St. Germanos of Constantinople
"The Latins are unbaptized because they do not keep the three immersions while baptizing...let them learn that a baptism is not complete by petitioning the Holy Trinity only, but what is also needed is the likeness (typos) of the death, the burial and the resurrection of the Lord...for us to be participants in the likeness of the death of Christ and His three-day burial; it is imperative that the three immersions take place otherwise this is impossible..."
St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite
Father Philotheos Zervakos writes (1923)
My dear lady,
It is an honor for me to write to you even though I do not know you personally and I hope you do not misunderstand my doing so because my action does not come from any other motive other than pure innocent Christian Love, from Christian brotherly duty and the commandment given from our Christ the Savior. Having arrived in Naxos a few days ago, I was informed that you are the assistant principle of the Academy and that you abandoned the Orthodox religion of our Fathers and have embraced that of the Latins (Roman Catholics). This made me grieve deeply and it continues to grieve me and rightly so, because I think of all people as my brothers. So when I see one of my brothers or sisters to suffer some physical injury or calamity I grieve; how much more must I grieve and weep when this calamity is spiritual...I'm not aware of the reasons which pushed you to deny Orthodoxy (which was founded by the Holy Fathers through the Seven Ecumenical Counsels, illumined by the Holy Spirit) and bow down to Papism which is a forerunner of the Antichrist because it was pride and arrogance that ruled over the Pope who desired to become the highest authority of the church and of the state. By this action, he tore apart the church of Christ accepting the addition to the Creed and going against the words of the Lord who told His disciples when He was about to be crucified, "The Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father"(John 15:26-27).
Following this, the Pope worshippers fell into innumerable innovations (cacodoxies) and heresies, turning upside down all the sacraments of the Orthodox Church...You may tell me that we Orthodox have many faults, this I also confess and I preach that clergy and laity have lost their purpose in life but this is no reason for us to betray our religion because of the sins of others. Christ said that many are called but few are chosen and that the gate that leads to life is narrow and sorrowful and few will enter through it. The path to perdition is wide and spacious and many are walking through it...
The Romanian Fathers
Archimandrite Cleopa Elie and Reverend Father Dimitri Staniloae are considered to be the flying eagles of Romanian Orthodox Spirituality. Decades of struggling, sacrifice and steadfast Love for the faith have produced thousands upon thousands of spiritual children in spite of the atheist and repressive regimes of their country. Their piety and that of the Romanian Orthodox in general compelled the visiting Patriarch of Jerusalem to say, "I'm sorry that I was not born in Romania!"
The following passages in matters of Love and Truth were translated from the book "Spiritual discussions with Romanian Fathers" written by hieromonk Ioannikios Balan. Their answers clearly demonstrate the universality which characterizes the Orthodox Church; these "passionless" Holy Fathers speak the truth of the gospel in a crisp and crystal clear tone in the absence of diplomacy and compromise.
Father Cleopa: What should be the attitude of Orthodox Christians towards Christians of other confessions?
Towards other Christians, as long as they do not keep challenging us about the Truth of our faith we must behave with love and compassion, help them with their needs according to the example of the Good Samaritan given to us by our Savior Jesus Christ. (Luke 10:37, Matthew 7:12). However, if they are willing to challenge and provoke us about our holy faith or the Sacred Tradition of our Holy Church "we must defend it with all our might and we must fight until death" (Unseen Warfare, St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite).
True, we must love our neighbor but within bounds. Whereas, our love towards God should know no bounds. Let's not think that it is right to love our neighbor while allowing the True Faith of Christ to be stepped upon from foreigners (Protestant and non-Orthodox missionaries to Romania) because they want to distance us from this faith and teach us their own which is crooked and heretical. Therefore, every Orthodox priest and every faithful member of our church must be a good soldier of Christ with all the piety and bravery and power of Godliness in order to project the truth of our Orthodox faith, if capable by his words or writings. He must not pretend to be meek in situations where there is no need for meekness because according to the prophet:"There the meek must become a warrior." (Joel 4:11)
Poimen the Great teaches the same thing saying: "We must show perseverance for whatever temptation comes along whether they wish to pluck our eyes out or to cut our right hand. However, if someone wishes to distance us from our faith then let's become idignant (Gerontikon). He also says,"the first time walk away, the second and third time fight against him who wants to separate you from the true faith." Archimandrite Cleopa Elie
The Orthodox Romanian Theology has as its head for over 50 years the most prominent among her representatives teacher and most Reverend Father Dimitri Staniloe. His person is highly recognized in Romania and abroad as one of the greatest personalities of the Orthodox church today. An outstanding leader of the church, unsurpassed in his knowledge of dogmatics, a great defender of Orthodoxy, and teacher of the theology of humility, translator of patristic treasures and tiredless author of theological and spiritual studies. His writings have great relevance to us living in the spiritual "melting pot", of the United States.
Can the Orthodox Christian be "assured" of his salvation from this life?
The Christian lives his salvation in this life in the form of a betrothal which is expressed by the clarity of his conscience, by his participation in the Divine Mysteries and a way of life which is in agreement with the will of God. However, eternal salvation with Christ depends on the Christian life-long commitment here on this earth, as far as the will of God is concerned. The weaknesses that he possesses do not give him the guarantee that he will maintain this way of life nor can he be assured of repentance after falling into a sinful lifestyle, so he cannot be totally sure that he will hold on to his salvation.
What are some of the main factors which can positively help man's salvation?
The true faith in Christ, the love of God and neighbor, and helping the needy...
Do all people such as idolaters, bad Christians, heretics, schismatics and Christians with mortal sins have the Grace of the Holy Spirit?
In the New Testament, God promised for the Grace of the Holy Spirit to be given to all those who will believe in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 44:3, Acts 11:17). It was especially given to the Apostles. Idolaters, unbelievers and apostates do not have the Grace of the Holy Spirit. "In the last days there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit" (Jude 18-20). In the last days many false prophets and false Christs will use deception to show that they have the Grace of the Holy Spirit and they will perform great signs and false miracles by the power of Satan in order to deceive many according to Christ (Matthew 24:25, Mark 13:22), to deceive even the elect and to distance them from the true faith (Rev. 19, 20). Christians who fall into great sins "sadden the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 4:30) however they don't lose the Grace of their salvation. If they return with all their heart to the path of repentance, confession and good works, they receive once again very abundantly the Grace of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38). Heretics and Schismatics do not have the Divine Grace because they sinned against the Holy Spirit and their malice of unbelief has been made evident being that it opposes the true faith of Christ..."
What other Christian church possesses the grace of salvation except the Orthodox Church?
The grace of salvation can only be received in the Orthodox Church because this is an energy of Christ which remains always the same in the church yesterday today and forever. The theology of the Roman Catholics considers grace created and not an energy proceeding from Christ. Salvation is living in Christ Jesus or the life of Christ for the faithful through His uncreated energies. This is accomplished when a man is progressing in virtue with the help of Divine Grace.
Do the Protestant, Anglican, and Neo-Protestant confessions which do not have apostolic hierarchy maintain some grace of the Holy Spirit?
Salvation in the Protestant formats of faith is terribly impossible being that it lacks the union in Christ through the True Faith in Him .... Unity of the church is absolutely impossible because it lacks the Divine Mysteries through which Christ Himself works out His salvation in the hearts of men. Therefore, the faithful do not have the ability to reach holiness or the communion in Christ among them. The man of Protestantism knows something about Christ but with words only and even these lack the fullness of the Apostolic knowledge and the sanctifying energy of Christ, which is given through the Divine Mysteries to the priesthood, and the blessing...
The Orthodox Church teaches us that there is no salvation outside of the church. How are we to understand this type of thing?
Only the person who lives in the Orthodox Church keeps the fullness of the faith towards Christ and the faith in the Mysteries by which he receives the whole Christ within (Body and Blood) and becomes saved. If one sins from weakness he can choose to be forgiven. Since all these things do not exsist in the Protestant and Neo-protestant Off- shoots how can their church save its members? They only hear words about Christ and they treat these words as something external. They lack communion with Christ and His energies because these energies spring forth from His Mysteries. Their teachings are presented distorted and very nebulous concerning His person. Some of them could be saved but only through exceptional means from great works that they may perform and from the general spirit of these confessions. But they cannot have any assurance, or confidence of this.
Is salvation possible for the Christians who separated themselves from the bosoms of the Orthodox Church?
Members of the Orthodox Church who knew the True Faith and the conditions of their salvation, but out of carelessness refused to take advantage of them and finally denied this faith, they cannot be saved unless they repent for their deeds and return into the bosom of the Church ...
How can the Christians who do not have the true faith be saved, and based on what law will they be judged at the last judgement?
Only the Christians who serve God with the true Faith will be saved as the Holy Spirit says: "The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth." (Ps. 145:18). About the people who did not believe in the true God we cannot say that they are being saved because the Apostolos (epistles of the Apostles) teaches us "One Lord, one faith and one Baptism." (Eph. 4:5). And again: "Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule." (Gal. 6.16). And elsewhere: "If anyone competes as an athlete he does not receive the victory crown unless he competes according to the rules." (2 Tim. 2, 5). As far as the criteria for judgement, Saint Gregory of Nyssa tells us that people will be judged by four different criteria: The idolaters according to the law of their conscience (Rom 2, 14-15). The Jews according to the law of Moses. (Rom 2, 12). The Christians according to the law of the gospel. (John 12, 48-Rom 2, 16, James 2, 12).
In addition there is also a fourth criterion which concerns everyone. This is the law of God's created beings, or the natural law as the Holy Fathers call it, which God gave to man from the very beginning. According to St. Isaac the Syrian, it is the contemplation of the creations of God...
For this law Saint Gregory of Nyssa said: "The creation of God is like a trumpet which calls out from heaven to all men that God is the Creator and its Maker" This law will judge all people who did not want to recognize the Creator of the world.
What is hate which is born in man's heart and how can someone fight against it?
Hate, along with the other passions comes forth from the love of the self, which is the root of all passions according to St. John of Damascus and St. Isaac the Syrian. According to Saint Maximos the Confessor, this love is the unnatural love of our body. Hate is the mankiller (I John 3:15). It is allowed only against the devil and sin: "You who love the Lord Hate evil. " (Ps. 97.-IO). "Hate evil and love Good. " (Amos 5, 15).
Hate is also allowed against the unrighteous according to the word of the Psalmist. "I hated injustice and I loved your law. " (Ps 119, 163), (Rom. 12, 19). "Christians must hate to lie and every way of injustice." (Ps 119, 163). "I hate the double-minded but I love your Law (Ps 119:13). "Do I not hate them O Lord who hate you? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with perfect hatred I count them my enemies. " (Ps 139, 21:22).
These passages are also aimed at clearing up a common misconception that hatred is never an option and should not exist in the vocabulary of the pious God-loving, peace-loving and mature Christian. But the Holy Romanian Father Cleopa states that there is a form of hatred that is not only allowed, but commendable in the life of the devout Christian. The type of hatred that our Lord Jesus Christ refers to in the second chapter of the book of the Revelation: "You hate the works of the Nicolaitans which I also hate." (Rev. 2:6). Naturally this "perfect hatred" is altogether unrelated to the mundane evil and sinful hate that's the work of the devil.
This "perfect hatred" of our Lord will shield our hearts from the possibility of giving in to sin through coersing, compromising, the need to be popular or simply peer pressure. The person who hates sin leaves no room in his heart for any compromise in that area. He guards his heart with this perfect hatred against the demons and their wicked servants who are attempting to make him an enemy of God. By keeping this blessed hatred in his heart against the passions of the sinful nature, the world, and the devil he will ensure and safeguard his LOVE for God. The child of God will hate and abhor anything that may suggest his separation from the True Faith and consequently the Only True God. This is the hate that our Lord commanded in His Gospel: "Unless you hate your father, mother, husband, wife, children you are not worthy of me."
How can the God of Love suggest hatred towards members of our own family, especially since His 5th commandment insists that we honor our parents? Quite simply the love and honor towards our parents is relative, within bounds; when our parents or spouse or our "Right eye" or "Right hand" are forcefully and continually interfering with our absolute worship towards God to the point where they are endangering our relationship with Him, then our separation from them is the solution directly given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Holy Ones, (Saints, martyrs, confessors) practiced this blessed perfect hatred against sin, passions, heresies, and generally all "the works that our Lord hates."
-This is the "perfect hatred" that pushed Saint Nicholas to slap Arius for inventing the devil-inspired heresy that Christ was not without beginning or not "one substance" with the Father.
-This is the "perfect hatred" that our martyrs, saints and confessors used against ungodly human authority, idolatry and heresy.
-This is the "perfect hatred" that the modern western, marginal Orthodox Christian priest or lay person does not understand, swayed by the notion of false love, and the lack of understanding of this concept is quite widespread among clergy and laity alike.
The results are quite horrendous, when in the name of boundless love, false unions and world peace we downplay doctrines, ignore church traditions and overlook differences to make us more "comparable" to the other Christian confessions. Let's not be deceived any longer! In matters of truth there is no room for diplomacy or compromise! With this in mind, we would like some answers from the modern Orthodox priests and theologians:
-If you believe that all religions save, then why are you seeking converts?
-If you believe that Christian denominations in general save, then why are you so concerned about losing members to other churches, certainly not because of the loss of dues!
-If you believe that Protestantism saves, then why must you bring Orthodoxy to America?
-If you believe that all Christian confessions save, then where is the crime of keeping Orthodoxy America's best kept secret?
My friends, these are questions that some diplomatic church teachers cleverly avoid to answer publicly perhaps because they are themselves unclear on these issues. We all must be careful not to expel the "perfect hate" from our hearts thus falling victims to the superheresy of ecumenism, not realizing that "perfect hatred" for falsehood translates into "perfect love" for the Truth, the Christ!
"It is better to choose a commendable war than peace which separates from God."
St. Gregory the Theologian
"Today, while the overall teachings of the Fathers is under attack and the shipwrecks of Faith are numerous, the mouths of the faithful are silent."
St. Basil the Great ep. 92
"If some pretend to confess the true Orthodox faith yet associate with the non-Orthodox (spiritually) and after having been given the necessary direction choose not to distance themselves from them, you should not only refuse to associate with them but do not even call them brothers."
St. Basil the Great
"An obvious fall from faith and pride is to either subtract something from what is written or to introduce something new to the unwritten."
St. Basil the Great
"Keep striving until the fire of heresy is put out, before it consumes the church."
St. Basil the Great
"According to what we were taught by the Holy Fathers, this is what we use to instruct those that have questions."
St. Basil the Great
"Just like the viper and the scorpion and the rest of the poisonous animals change good nutrition into poison so in the same fashion, heretics and the unethical alter the Good Words of the gospel into evil."
"If a bishop or a priest, the very eyes of the church, turns his back on the church thus scandalizing the faithful, it is necessary to dismiss them. You will be better off to gather at a house to pray (without them), than to be placed with them, like Annas and Caiaphas in the Gehenna of fire."
St. Athanasios the Great
"If the discussion and the question proposed is about the Faith and the traditions of our church, then even the most meek and quiet and peace loving person must fight and defend these matters."
St. Nikodemus the Hagiorite
In the event that a clergyman or layman would enter a Jewish or heretical congregation for the purpose of prayer let him be defrocked and excommunicated.
45th Apostolic Canon
A bishop or a presbyter or a deacon having prayed with heretics (all non- Orthodox) Only let him be excommunicated, and if he has allowed them to participate as clergy at any service let him be defrocked.
65th Apostolic Canon
The Holy Canons do not use diplomacy and this is why our modernizing Christians would love to do away with them!"
"Even if very few remain true and adamant with the laws of Orthodoxy and piety they are the church and the authority, and the protection of the ecclesiastical divine mysteries belongs to them."
St. Nikephoros the Confessor
"Anyone who is capable of speaking the truth but remains silent, will be heavily judged by God, especially in this case, where the faith and the very foundation of the entire chuch of the Orthodox is in danger. To remain silent under these circumstances is to betray these, and the appropriate witness belongs to those that reproach (stand up for the faith)."
St Basil the Great
"Heretics will not enter the Kingdom of God because by denying one or more truths of the gospel, they cut themselves off from the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH. The history of the church has witnessed a great number of heretics over the years. Today, such heretics are the Papists and the Protestants with their hundreds of denominations, such as, the Uniates, the Evangelicals, the Pentecostals, the Baptists, Methodists, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and so many others which spring up constantly. In Greece there are more than one hundred heresies looking to aquire one convert. Be careful my fellow Christians from all of these. Have nothing to do with them even if they happen to be your parents or brothers. The evangelist of love says this, 'Do not say even good morning to them'."
Archimandrite Charalambos Basilopoulos
"It is of no use to live a 'clean life' while holding on to corrupt doctrines, just like there would be no difference if your doctrinal beliefs were 'healthy' but your life was corrupt."
St. John the Chrysostom
"Just as perverse dogma will usually give birth to an 'unclean lifestyle', a corrupt and sinful lifestyle will give birth to perverse dogma."
St. John the Chrysostom
(Biography of Greek Fathers 36, 185)
"There is such a thing as a good separation. There is also such a thing as a bad agreement, just like there can be a good disagreement."
St. John the Chrysostom (pgs. 53, 314)
"The way of Godliness consists of these two things: True (pious) doctrines and good works. Without good works, true faith is not acceptable to God, likewise, good works are not acceptable to Him in the absence of True Faith (pious dogma)."
St. Cyril of Jerusalem
"With every way possible let us guard ourselves not to receive the communion of heretics nor administer it to them... this way we will not become participants of their falsehood and condemnation."
St. John of Damascus
"Even if someone donates all the money in the world to charity and he happens to be in communion with a heresy he does not become a friend of God but an enemy..."
St. Theodore the Confessor
"One person and the truth consist of the majority."
Abbot Sylvester the Hagiorite
"Let them burn your body, let them fry it, let them take your property. Don't worry. Let them have these, they are not yours anyway. You only have need of soul and Christ! These two, even if the entire world happens to fall on you it cannot take these from you unless you give them up on your own."
St. Kosmas the Aitolos
"Be joyful and cheerful because you have the blessing to be pious Orthodox Christians. On the other hand, you must cry and mourn for the impious, the godless, and the heretics who walk in darkness in the hands of the devil."
St. Kosmas the Aitolos
"Outside of Orthodoxy there is no other confession which can lead man to the fullness of the Christian life, to sanctification, to the cleansing from sin or to eternity, because the other ones, the non-Orthodox confessions, supress 'the truth in wickedness'(Rom. 1, 18). They confuse the truth with sophistries and lies and in this way they don't maintain the means of Grace necessary for man's renewal. These only belong to the Orthodox church the only 'Holy and Spotless'" (Eph 5,27)
Saint John of Kronstadt
"Every work and voice which was not spoken by the holy fathers proved to be an innovation."
St. Maximos the Confessor
"I believe this to be a matter of hate towards man and separation from divine love when one attempts to give validity to a false faith which will ultimately corrupt its followers even more."
St. Maximos the Confessor
"Orthodoxy is the only church and the only Truth. Her ecumenical mission cannot be anything else but the complete confession of this Truth. Western Christianity has been deluded by rationalism (Orthologismos) and it has lost the very meaning and the possession of the Divine Mystery, as well as, the full realization of Salvation. I consider this extremely important to have this Truth heard today by using all possible means, since the danger of slipping towards theories of relativism is great, even among the ranks of Orthodox theologians."
Father Dumitru Staniloae
"It is for that reason that I say (teach) nothing of what is mine. I briefly express the thoughts and words passed down by Godly and wise men."
St. John of Damascus
"The faith which I was taught by the Holy Fathers which I taught at all times without adjusting according to the times, this faith I will never stop teaching; I was born with it and I live by it."
St. Gregory the Theologian
"The fact that the spiritual accomplishments of the past do not seem to be appreciated always but on the contrary they are looked upon with some contempt by some contemporary 'orthodox' theologians, this does not bring forth a favorable witness about their dogmatic consciense nor does it give the feeling that tradition is alive in them; especially since these theologians are eager to betray their Fathers."
"The purity of heretics is worse than all debauchery .. how can a virgin, having rebelled against the true Faith, now pay attention to the deluded, believing the demons and honoring lies?"
St. John the Chrysostom
"Him who believes falsely you must not trust, but him who 'does not live right' but believes properly you may (trust) listen to...because he who lives badly will not advise others to live like him ... but he who has false and crooked beliefs will teach these to all people."
"Keep an eye on your bishops as far as their Orthodoxy is concerned lest they go so far as to teach doctrines against the true faith or celebrate with heretics or schismatics. As far as other things, they act out of ignorance or because the days are evil..and they will give an account to God only."
Saint Gennadios Scholarios
"If someone believes evil about the faith (heretically)..flee from him and have nothing to do with him not only if he is a man but even if he happens to be an angel from heaven. However, do not critique a person's lifestyle because, 'Do not judge so you will not be judged,' applies to all matters of the lifestyle and not in the matters of the Faith."
Holy Father Chrysostom
The Holy Spirit, the comforter, who is always in the church is speaking through the golden mouth of our church the Chrysostom. The Holy Father sheds a great deal of light on many of our Christians who are not clear in the area of "judgementalism". They often ask, "Isn't it judgemental to speak in an apologetic fashion, exposing the false beliefs of another Christian, a priest, a bishop, a non-Orthodox, Protestant or Roman Catholic?" Saint John the Chrysostom plainly says to flee and have nothing to do with someone who could possibly affect us spiritually. Christ, the Good Shepherd has placed bishops, priests, deacons and theologians to guard His Flock which He bought with His blood. Unfortunately not a few of today's flock watchers have changed into wolves dressed in sheep's clothing. They invite members of the flock to open the gates of the sheep pen assuming that there can be no harm in that. We often hear of inter-faith services, ecumenical services, inter-denominational prayers. All these will bring upon these shepherds the wrath of God, who warns us through Ezekiel 33: 6-9. This condemnation will also hold true for all of us who make no effort to wake up our deluded brothers, letting them believe that they can be saved regardless of their doctrinal beliefs. The Holy Spirit talks through the Prophet: "And you, Son of man I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel and you will hear a word from me. If I say to the sinful man, you shall surely die and you do not call out to warn the impious to turn from his evil way, this sinner will die in his sin but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the impious to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way he shall die in his iniquity but you will have saved your soul!"
Indeed, it is a great crime to keep Orthodoxy America's greatest secret and everyone will be held liable especially our shepherds. We implore our brothers and sisters in Christ to understand that theosis does not take place in the absence of true faith. Holiness is a must and it can only be realized in the Orthodox church, the genuine continuation of the church established by Christ and His Apostles. So, being true to the spirit of the Apostles and the Fathers we are not judging the heterodox - we are warning them, calling out to them - this being the correct approach, and the expression of true love. It is not judgmental to expose and contradict all unorthodox teachings in the spirit of love for the truth, because all false teachings are devils seedlings which can turn people into "weeds". Mathew 13:25. Judging according to Saint Chrysostom is to expose the personal weaknesses, sins, idiosyncrasies and imperfections of our neighbor in the style of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in an attempt to elevate ourselves.
Again we quote some Apostolic "judgementalism" (truth in love).
"Avoid Godless chatter because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene."
(part of the answer to the question why some heretical denominations are flourishing and spreading much faster than the truth)
Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has taken place and they destroy the faith of some." 2 Tim 2:6-8.
"You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me including Phygetus and Hermogenes." 2 Tim 1: 15.
"If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to Godly teaching he is conceited and understands nothing." I Tim 6:3.
Let this be a warning for the Orthodox brothers and sisters who are infatuated by the sensationalism of the pseudo-pentecostals. Their teachings have spread like gangrene victimizing a great deal of Orthodox laity and clergy alike. Their strange tongues are not something specific to their appearance a few decades ago. These "peculiar tongues" were taught to them by the demons, (I Tim 4:1) and have nothing in common with the genuine languages that our Apostles spoke in the Holy Spirit. About five hundred years before the appearance of the pseudo-pentecostals, St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, claims: "This is why those that speak strange tongues from the energy of the demons are outside of themselves, at that point not understanding a thing of what they are saying." (Gerontikon of Mount Athos Vol. 11).
The truth and the reality of things is exactly what St. Gregory Palamas is talking about, that these tongues are an inspiration of the demons, in their attempt to blaspheme God. The demons tremble at the thought of cursing God directly so they achieve this through their unsuspecting victims the "pseudo-charismatics". These poor people actually believe that they are full 'of the spirit' but in reality they are babbling all kinds of blasphemous words against their creator. To add insult to injury the devil has cunningly spread a vicious rumor amongst them that it is very safe to speak and pray in tongues because "the devil cannot understand tongues". The truth according to St. Gregory Palamas is that the devil not only can understand tongues, but he has invented them! A small hairline crack at the side of the dam will not be reason for concern to the ignorant bystander but it will be the cause of great fear and alarm for the engineers fully aware that this crack will soon increase, eventually bringing about massive destructions to its surroundings. The devil works in the same way by introducing some small cracks in the ark of salvation of the Church.
"I reminded you many times about the atheist heretics (non-Orthodox), and now I implore you not to compromise with them on anything, do not eat or drink with them in the name of friendship, better relations, love or peace, because he who is swayed and compromises with them renders him self-foreign to the Catholic (universal) church."
St. John the Chrysostom
"Be aware not to be corrupted from love of the heretics; for this reason do not accept any false belief (dogma) in the name of love."
St. John the Chrysostom
"Even if the heretics are many in numbers, they are still found "outside of the Holy Gardens" of the church. Even if very few stay true to Orthodoxy and Godliness, they are the church of Christ."
St. Nikephoros the Confessor
"Members of the Orthodox church are all and only those of the faithful that believe and do not doubt the flawless Faith of Christ the Saviour and all that was passed down, preached and interpreted by Christ, the Apostles and the Holy Ecumenical Synods."
"Nor life without true faith nor this faith without holy works can save."
St. Theodore the Studite
"...do not have a single thing to do with schismatics and absolutely nothing with heretics ... As you know I myself have avoided them due to their Christ hating and heterodox heresy."
St. Anthony the Great
"All the great teachers of the church, all the Synods, all the divine Scriptures prescribe the fleeing from the heterodox (heretics) and to stand afar from their association (communion)."
St. Mark Evgenikos
"The fight against heresies represents the highest expression of love for the heretics while the tolerance and the amnesty for heresy is a cruel form of love and overmasked hate. In the realm of false ecumenism (branch theory) lurks the worse case of 'man hatefulness'. Thus, it is not without significance that St. Maximos the Confessor issued a statement condemning the tolerance of heretics. 'I define this to be cruelty towards mankind and absence of divine love to attempt to give authority to a false faith aiding even more the destruction of those that are adhering to it'."
Archimandrite Spiridon Bilalis
The Announcement of the Joint Conference of the Abbots of Mount Athos
The extraordinary Joint Conference of the Sacred Community on Mount Athos, April 9-22, 1980, noting that the issue of the relations of our holy orthodox Church with the heterodox has assumed a serious and resolute character, especially as it relates to the dialogue with Roman Catholics, has resolved publicly to state the opinion of the Athonite fathers on this subject for general consideration:
1 . We believe that our holy Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ, which possesses the fullness of grace and truth and, in consequence thereof, unbroken apostolic succession. On the contrary, the "churches" and "confessions" of the West, having in many ways perverted the Faith of the Gospel, the apostles and the fathers, are deprived of sanctifying grace, of real mysteries and apostolic succession. That this is correct, His Eminence, Metropolitan Maximos of Stavropolis stresses: "Orthodoxy is not one of the churches, but The Church herself. She has preserved precisely and authentically the teaching of Christ in its pristine splendor and in all its purity. Over and above a simple, unbroken historical continuity and consistency there exists in her a spiritual and ontological authenticity. The same Faith, the same Spirit, the same life. It is this which constitutes the distinguishing feature of Orthodoxy and which justifies her claim that she is and remains The Church" (Episkepsis, #227, March 15, 1980).
2. Dialogue with the heterodox is not reprehensible from the Orthodox point of view if its goal is to inform them of the Orthodox Faith and, thus, make it possible for them thereby to return to Orthodoxy when they receive divine enlightenment and their eyes are opened.
3. Theological dialogue must not in any way be linked with prayer in common, or by joint participation in any liturgical or worship services whatsoever; or in other activities which might create impression that our Orthodox Church accepts, on the one hand, Roman Cahtolics as part of the fullness of the Church, or, on the other hand, the Pope as the canonical bishop of Rome. Activities such as these mislead both the fullnes of the Orthodox people and the Roman Catholics themselves, fostering among them a mistaken notion as to what Orthodoxy thinks of their teaching. The Holy Mountain is grievously disturbed by the tendencies of certain Orthodox hierarchs who have been invited to participate in Roman Catholic services, celebrations and processions, especially on the occasion of the return of holy relics. Conversely, we congratulate those hierarchs who have publicly expressed their alarm for the fullness of Orthodoxy.
4. We express our complete approval of what His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch said during the visit of the Pope to Constantinople, namely that there exist various impediments between Orthodox and Roman Catholics: "First of all, we have serious theological problems which concern fundamental principles of the Christian faith" (Episkepsis, #22 1, Dec. 1, 1979, p. 17). These divergences in the principles of Christian faith requires that we do not advance to participation in common liturgies and worship services before oneness of faith is attained. The mystical character of the kiss of peace during the divine Eucharist always presupposes harmony of faith: "Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess..." We cannot pray together, especially during the Divine Liturgy, when we do not believe in the same faith and are separated by fundamental questions of faith. Only an indifference to the faith could permit us to do so. Moreover, the Holy Mountain cannot accept the opinion, expressed in the joint statement of the Patriarch and the Pope, concerning the "cleansing of the historical memory of our Churches" and the partial opening, by means of a dialogue of love, of the road towards "new movements in theological work and a new attitude to the past which is common to both Churches" (Episkepsis, ibid., p. 19). Actually, the heretics must cleanse their own historical memory of all their own historically acknowledged deviations in faith and practice from the true, evangelical Orthodox Faith. On the contrary, the historical memory of the Orthodox, which is based on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and on the constant experience of the apostolic faith of the God-bearing Fathers, must be lived by all of us in repentance and humility, and must instruct us both in the present and in the future life if we do not wish to fall from that faith. As Orthodox, we must cleanse ourselves by means of the historical memory of the Church, but not "cleanse" her with an egotistical and anthropocentric spirit, setting ourselves up as judges of the Tradition of the Church.
5. The Holy Mountain is convinced, not without great anxiety, that although the Orthodox are making many concessions and compromises to the Roman Catholics, the latter antithetically continue to adhere to their own errors which have served as the cause of their schism from the Orthodox Church and later led to the Protestant split. Thus, the Pope during his visit to the center of Orthodoxy in the patriarchal cathedral, did not in the least hesitate to proclaim that he was coming to Constantinople as the successor of Peter, "who as the ultimate authority has the responsibility of superintending the unity of all, to guarantee the agreement of the Church of God in fidelity and in the 'faith which was once delivered unto the saints' (Jude 3)" (Episkepsis, ibid., p. 9). In other words, the Pope defended (papal) infallibility and primacy; and there are many other actions and manifestations which the Pope has effected on behalf of uniatism. We remember the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Greek government and the Vatican which, even though it may justify papism, is unjust and strikes out at the Mother and Nourisher of our (Greek) nation, the Orthodox Church.
6. The Holy Mountain also expresses its anxiety over the constituency of the commission for the dialogue. Uniates comprise a portion of the Roman Catholic delegation, a fact which is a provocation for the Orthodox. The sensibilities and dignity of the Orthodox delegation demand the immediate substitution of others in place of the uniates in the membership. No Orthodox whose manner of thinking corresponds to this faith can agree to participate in a commission which includes uniates. Likewise, the Holy Mountain is disturbed by the great weakness and insufficiency of the Orthodox delegation. The most remarkable Orthodox theologians are not participating. The Holy Mountain is also not represented, despite the fact that it is the sole monastic center which preserves the faith and the theology of the Fathers, and which is far removed from the influence of secularism and scholastic Western theology.
7. From the Orthodox point of view there is no justification for optimism in regard to the dialogue, and for this reason no haste should be exhibited concerning it. The Roman Catholics are pressing the dialogue, hoping to strengthen themselves by annexing Orthodoxy to themselves, for they are confronted by very powerful internal disturbances and crises, as is well known. The number of former Roman Catholics who have converted to Orthodoxy also disturbs them. But Orthodoxy has no reason to hasten towards dialogue since the papists remain so obdurate and immovable as regards infallibility, uniatism, and the rest of their pernicious teachings.
Hastening the dialogue under such conditions is equivalent to spiritual suicide for the Orthodox. Many facts give the impression that the Roman Catholics are preparing a union on the pattern of a unia. Can it be that the Orthodox who are hastening to the dialogue are conscious of this?
The Holy Mountain maintains that for it there can be no question of accepting a fait accompli, that, by the grace of God, it will remain faithful, as the Lord's Orthodox people, to the faith of the holy apostles and the holy Fathers, impelled to this also by love for the heterodox, to whom real help is given only when the Orthodox show them the vastness of their spiritual sickness and the means of its cure by maintaining a consistently Orthodox position.
The unsuccessful attempts in the past with regard to union must teach us that steadfast unity in the truth of the Church, in accordance with the will of God, presupposes a different preparation and a path distinct from that taken in the past and from that which, apparently, is now being taken.
All of the superiors and representatives of the twenty sacred and pious monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos at the Extraordinary Joint Conference
Letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople from the Sacred Community of Mount Athos
December 8, 1993
Translated from the Greek by George Gabriel
To His Most Divine All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, our Father and Master, Lord Lord Bartholomew,
Most Holy Father and Master:
The union of the Churches or, to be precise, the union of the heterodox with our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Orthodox Chruch is desirable to us also so that the Lord's prayer may be fulfilled......"that they may be one" (Jn. 17:21). At any rate, we understand and await according to the Orthodox interpretation. As Professor Fr. John Romanides reminds us, "Christ prays here that His disciples and their disciples may, in this life, become one in the vision of His glory (which He has by nature from the Father) when they become members of His Body, the Church..."
For this reason, whenever heterodox Christians visit us, to whom we extend love and hospitality in Christ, we are painfully aware that we stand apart in faith and, because of this, we are not able to have ecclesiastical communion.
Schism, the division between the Orthodox and the Non-Chalcedonians first and between the Orthodox and Westerners later, truly amounts to a tragedy about which we must not become silent or complacent.
In this context, therefore, we appreciate efforts made with fear of God and in accordance with Orthodox Tradition that look to a union that cannot take place through the silencing or minimizing of Orthodox doctrines of the heterodox, because it would not be accepted by the Church or blessed by God, because, according to the patristic saying, "A good thing is not good if it is not achieved in a good way."
On the contrary, it would bring about new schisms and new divisions and miseries to the already (dis)united body of Orthodoxy. At this point, we would like to say that in the face of great changes taking place in lands that have an Orthodox presence, and before so many kinds of unstable conditions on a worldwide scale, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, in other words Orthodox, Church should have strengthened the cohesion of the local Churches and given herself over to the care of her terror-stricken members and to their spiritual stabilization, on the one hand, and in her consciousness (as the One Holy Church), on the other, she should have sounded the trumpet of her unique redemptive power and grace and manifested it before fallen humanity.
In this spirit, to the extent that our monastic office permits us, we closely follow developments in the so-called ecumenical movements and dialogues. We note that at times the word of Truth is rightly divided and, at times, compromises and concessions are made regarding fundamental matters of the Faith.
1. Thus, actions and declarations which representatives of Orthodox Churches have engaged in, that were unheard of until today and are altogether contrary to our holy Faith, have caused us deep sorrow. We shall cite first the case of His Beatitude (Parthenios), the Patriarch of Alexandria, who, on at least two occasions, has stated that we Christians ought to recognize Mohammed as a prophet. To this day, however, no one has called for him to step down, and this dreadfully heedless Patriarch continues to preside in the Church of Alexandria as if there were nothing wrong.
Second, we cite the case of the Patriarchate of Antioch, which without a Pan-Orthodox decision, has proceeded to ecclesiastical communion with the Non-Chatcedonians (Monophysites). This was done despite the fact that a most serious issue had not yet been resolved. It is the latter's non-acceptance of the Ecumenical Councils after the Third and, in particular, the Fourth, the Council of Chalcedon, which in fact constitutes an immovable basis of Orthodoxy. Unfortunately, in this case too, we have not seen a single protest by the Orthodox Churches.
The gravest matter, however, is the unacceptable change in the position of the Orthodox that arises from the joint statement at the June, 1993 Balamand Conference of the mixed commission for the dialogue between Roman Catholics and Orthodox. It adopted anti-Orthodox positions, and it is mainly to this that we call the attention of Your All Holiness.
First, we must confess that the statements which Your All Holiness has made from time to time that the Uniate movement is an insurmountable obstacle to the continuation of the dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics used to put us at ease.
But the above document (of Balamand) gives the impression that your statements are being side-stepped. Furthermore, Unia is receiving amnesty and is invited to the table of theological dialogue despite the contrary decision of the Third Pan-Orthodox Conference in Rhodes requiring: "the complete withdrawal from Orthodox lands by the Uniate agents and propagandists of the Vatican; the incorporation of the so-called Uniate Churches and their subjection under the Church of Rome before the inauguration of th dialogue, because Unia and dialogue at the same time are irreconcilable."
2. Your All Holiness, the greatest scandal, however, is caused by the ecclesiological positions in the document. We shall refer here to fundamental deviations only.
In Paragraph 10 we read: "The Catholic Church... (which conducted missionary work against the Orthodox and) presented herself as the only one to whom salvation was entrusted. As a reaction, the Orthodox Church, in turn, came to accept the same vision according to which only in her could salvation of "the separated brethren" it even happened that Christians were rebaptized and that certain requirements of the religious freedom of persons and of their act of faith were forgotten. This perspective was one to which that period showed little sensitivity."
As Orthodox, we cannot accept this point of view. It was not as a reaction against Unia that our Holy Orthodox Church began to believe that she exclusively possessed salvation, but believed it before Unia existed, from the time of the Schism, which took place for reasons of dogma. The Orthodox Church did not await the coming of Unia in order to acquire the consciousness that she is the unadulterated continuation of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ, because she has always had this self-awareness just as she had the awareness that the Papacy was in heresy. If she did not use the term heresy frequently, it was because, according to St. Mark of Ephesus, "The Latins are not only schismatics but heretics as well. However, the Church was silent on this because their race is large and more powerful than ours...and we wished not to fall into triumphalism over the Latins as heretics but to be accepting of their return and to cultivate brotherliness."
But when the Uniates and the agents of Rome were let loose on us in the East in order to proselytize the suffering Orthodox by mainly unlawful means, as they do even today, Orthodoxy was obliged to declare that truth, not for purposes of proselytism but in order to protect the flock.
St. Photius repeatedly characterizes the Filioque as a heresy, and its believers as cacodox.
St. Gregory Palamas says of the Westerner Barlaam, that when he came to Orthodoxy, "He did not accept sanctifying water from our church ... to wipe away (his) stains from the West." St. Gregory obviously considers him a heretic in need of sanctifying grace in order to come into the Orthodox Church.
The statement in the paragraph in question unjustly heaps responsibility on the Orthodox Church in order to lessen the responsibilities of the Papists. When did the Orthodox trample upon the religious freedom of the Uniates and Roman Catholics by baptizing them against their will? And if there were some exceptions, the Orthodox who signed the Balamand document forgot that those who were re-baptized against their wishes were descendants of the Orthodox who were forcibly made Uniates, as occured in Poland, Ukraine, and Moldavia. (See paragraph 11).
In paragraph 13 we read: "In fact, especially since the Pan-Orthodox Conferences began and since the Second Vatican Council, the rediscovery and the giving of proper value to the Church as communion, both on the part of Orthodox and of Catholics, has radically altered perpectives and thus attitudes. On each side it is recognized that what Christ has entrusted to his Church-profession of apostolic faith, participation in the same sacraments, above all the one priesthood celebrating the one sacrifice of Christ, the apostolic succession of bishops cannot be the exclusive property of one of our Churches. In this context, it is clear that every form of rebaptism must be avoided."
The new discovery of the Church as communion by Roman Catholics has, of course, some significance for them who had no way out of the dilemma of their totalitarian ecclesiology and, therefore, had to turn their system of thought to the communal character of the Church. Thus, alongside the one extreme of totalitarianism, they place the other of collegiality, always motivated on the same man-centered level. The Orthodox Church, however, has always had the consciousness that she is not a simple communion but a theanthropic communion or a "communion of theosis [deification]," as St. Gregory Palamas says in his homily on the procession of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the communion of theosis is not only unknown in but also irreconcilable with Roman Catholic theology, which rejects [the doctrine of] the uncreated energies of God that form and sustain this communion.
Given these truths, it was with deepest sadness that we confirmed that this paragraph (13) makes the Orthodox Church equal to the Roman Catholic Church which abides in cacodoxy.
Serious theological differences, such as the Filioque, Papal primacy and infallibility, created grace, etc., are receiving amnesty, and a union is being forged without agreement in dogma.
Thus are verified the premonitions that the union designed by the Vatican, in which, as St. Mark of Ephesus said, "the willing are unwittingly being manipulated," (i.e. the Orthodox, who also live under hostile circumstances ethnically and politically today and are captive to nations of other religions), is pushed to take place without agreement regarding doctrinal differences, through the mutual recognition of the mysteries and apostolic succession of each Church, and the application of intercommunion, limited at first and broader later. After this, doctrinal differences can only be discussed as theological opinions.
But once union takes place, what sense is there in discussing theological differences? Rome knows that the Orthodox will never accept her alien teachings. Experience has proven this in the various attempts at union up to the present. Therefore, despite the differences, Rome is crafting a union and hoping, from a humanistic point of view (as her perspective always is), that, as the more powerful factor, in time she will absorb the weaker one, which is, Orthodoxy. Fr. John Romanides presaged this in his article "The Uniate Movement and Popular Ecumenism"' in The Orthodox Witness, Feb. 1966.
Do the Filioque, [Papal] primacy and infallibility, purgatory, the immaculate conception, and created grace constitute an apostolic confession? Despite all of this, is it possible for us as Orthodox to recognize as apostolic the faith and confession of the Roman Catholics?
Do these serious theological deviations of Rome amount to heresies or not?
If they are, as they have been described by Orthodox Councils and Fathers, do they not result in the invalidity of the mysteries and the apostolic succession of heterodox and cacodox of this kind?
Is it possible for the fullness of grace to exist where there is not the fullness of truth?
Is it possible to distinguish Christ of the truth from Christ of the mysteries and apostolic succession?
Apostolic succession was first set forth by the Church as a historic confirmation of the continuous preservation of her truth. But when the truth itself is distorted, what meaning can a formalistic preservation of apostolic succession have? Did not the great heresiarchs often have this kind of external succession? How can it be possible for them to also be regarded as bearers of grace?
And how is it possible for two Churches to be considered "Sister Churches" not because of their pre-Schism common descent but because of their so-called common confession, sanctifying grace, and priesthood despite their great differences in dogmas?
Who among the Orthodox can accept as the true successor to the Apostles the infallible one, the one with the primacy of authority to rule over the entire Church and to be the religious and secular leader of the Vatican State?
Would this not be a denial of Apostolic Faith and Tradition?
Or are the signers of this document unaware that many Roman Catholics today groan under the foot of the Pope (and his scholastic, man-centered ecelesiological system) and desire to come into Orthodoxy?
How can these people who are tormented spiritually and desire holy Baptism not be received into Orthodoxy because the same grace is supposedly both here and there? Ought we not, at that point, respect their religious freedom, as the Balamand declaration demands in another circumstance, and grant them Orthodox Baptism? What defense shall we present to the Lord if we withhold the fullness of grace from them who, after years of agony and personal searching, desire the holy Baptism of our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?
Paragraph 14 of the document quoted Pope John-Paul II, "The ecumenical endeavor of the Sister Churches of East and West, grounded in dialogue and prayer, is the search for perfect and total communion which is neither absorption nor fusion but a meeting in truth and love."
But how is a union in the truth possible when differences in dogmas are sidestepped and both Churches are described as sisters despite the differences?
The Truth of the Church is indivisible because it is Christ Himself. But when there are differences in dogmas there cannot be unity in Christ.
From what we know about Church History, Churches were called Sister Churches when they held the same faith. Never was the Orhtodox Church called a sister of any heterodox churches, regardless of the degree of heterodoxy or cacodoxy they held.
We ask ourselves a basic question: have religious syncretism and doctrinal minimalism-the byproducts of secularization and humanism-perhaps influenced the Orthodox signers of the document?
It is apparent that the document adopts, perhaps for the first time by the Orthodox side, the position that two Churches, the Orthodox and Roman Catholic, together constitute the One Holy Church or are two legitimate expressions of her.
Unfortunately, it is the first time that Orthodox have officially accepted a form of the branch theory.
Permit us to express our deep sorrow over this in as much as this theory comes into screaming conflict with Orthodox Tradition and Consciousness up to now.
We have many witnesses to the Orthodox Consciousness that our Church alone constitutes the One Holy Church, and they are recognized as pan-Orthodox in authority. They are the:
1. Council of Constantinople, 1722;
2. Council of Constantinople, 1727;
3. Council of Constantinople, 1838;
4. 1848 Encyclical of the Four Patriarchs of the East and their synods;
5. Council of Constantinople, 1895.
These decreed that only our Holy Orthodox Church constitutes the One Holy Church.
The 1895 Council of Constantinople summarizes all of the preceding Councils: "Orthodoxy, that is, the Eastern Church, justly boasts in Christ that she is the Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the first nine centuries of Christianity and is therefore the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ, the 'pillar and bulwark of truth.' And the present Roman Church is the church of innovationism and adulteration of the writings of the Church Fathers and the distortion of the Holy Scriptures and the decrees of the Holy Councils. Justly and for good reason it was denounced and is denounced as long as it persists in its delusion. 'Better a praiseworthy war,' says St. Gregory of Nazianzus, 'than a peace separated from God'."
Representatives of the Orthodox Churches declared the same things at the World Council of Churches conferences. Among them were distinguished Orthodox theologians, such as Fr. George Florovsky. Thus, at the Conference of Lund in 1952, was declared:
"We came here not to judge other Churches but to help them see the truth, to enlighten their thought in a brotherly manner, informing them of the teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, that is to say, the Greek Orthodox Church, which is unaltered from the apostolic period."
At Evanston in 1954: "In conclusion, we are obliged to declare our deep conviction that the Holy Orthodox Church alone has preserved the faith once delivered unto the saints' in all of its fullness and purity. And this is not because of any human merit of ours but because God is pleased to preserve His treasure in earthen vessels..."
And at New Delhi in 1961: "Unity has been broken and it is necessary that it be won anew. For the Orthodox Church is not a Confession, not one of the many or one among the many. For the Orthodox, the Orthodox Church is the Church. The Orthodox Church has the perception and consciousness that her inner structure and teaching coincide with the apostolic kerygma and the tradition of the ancient, undivided Church. The Orthodox Church exists in the unbroken and continuous succession of the sacramental ministry, of the sacramental life, and of the faith. The apostolic succession of the episcopal office and the sacramental ministry, for the Orthodox, is truly a component of the essence and, for this reason, a necessary element in the existence of the whole Church. In accordance with her inner conviction and an awareness of the circumstances, the Orthodox Church occupies a special and extraordinary position in the ancient, undivided Church, from which the present Christian denominations originate by way of reduction and separation."
We could also set forth here the testimonies of the most distinguished and widely acknowledged Orthodox theologians. We shall limit ourselves to one, the late Fr. Demetrius Staniloae, a theologian distinguished not only for his wisdom but for the breadth and Orthodox mind set of his ecumenical perspective.
In many places of his noteworthy book, Towards an Orthodox Ecumenism, he refers to themes that are relevant to the joint statement (being discussed here) and bears Orthodox witness. Through it, therefore, the disagreement between the positions taken in the document and the Orthodox faith shall be shown:
"Without unity of faith and without communion in the same Body and Blood of the Incarnate Word, such a Church could not exist, nor could a Church exist in the meaning of the word."
"In the case of one who is entering into full communion of faith with the members of the Orthodox Church and is becoming a member, economia (dispensation) is understood to give validity to a mystery previously performed outside of the Church."
"In the Roman Catholic view, the Church is not so much a spiritual organism that is headed by Christ as it is a nomocanonical organization which, even in the best of circumstances, lives not in the divine but in the supernatural level of created grace."
"In the preservation of this unity, an indispensable role is played by the unity of faith because the latter wholly bonds the members with Christ and with one another."
"Those who confess not a whole and integral Christ but only certain parts of Him cannot achieve a complete communion either with the Church or with one another."
"How is it possible for the Catholics to unite with the Orthodox in a common eucharist when they believe that unity is derived more from the Pope than from the Holy Eucharist? Can love for the world spring forth from the Pope, that is, the love which springs from the Christ of the Holy Eucharist?"
"There is growing recognition of the fact that Orthodoxy, as the complete body of Christ, reaches out in a concrete way to take in the parts that were separated."
It is self-evident that two complete bodies of Christ cannot exist.
Your All Holiness, one has to wonder why the Orthodox proceed to make these concessions while the Roman Catholics not only persist in but reinforce their pope-centered ecclesiology.
It is a fact that the Second Vatican Council (1963) not only neglected to minimize the primacy and infallibility (of the Pope), indeed, it magnified these. According to the late Professor John Karmiris, "Despite the fact that the Second Vatican Council covered over the familiar Latin claims about the Papacy's monarchical absolute rule with the mantle of the collegiality of the bishops, not only were those claims not diminished; on the contrary, they were reinforced by this Council. The present Pope (John XXIII) does not hesitate to promote them, even at inopportune times, with much emphasis."
And the Pope's Encyclical,"To the Bishops of the Catholic Church" (May 28,1992), recognizes only Rome as the "catholic" church and the Pope as the only "catholic" bishop. The church of Rome and her bishop compose the "essence" of all other churches. Moreover, every local church and her bishop simply constitute expressions of the direct "presence" and "authority" of the bishop of Rome and his church, which determines from within every local church's ecclesial identity."
According to this papal document, since the Orthodox Churches refuse to submit to the Pope, they do not bear the character of the Church at all and are simply viewed as "partial churches" (Verdienen der titel teilkirchen.).
The same ecclesiology is expressed in The Ecumenical Guide (a guide for the application of principles and agenda regarding ecumenism) of the Roman Catholic Church, presented by Cardinal Cassidy to the meeting of Roman Catholic bishops (May 10-15, 1993, one month before Balamand), with non-Catholics and indeed Orthodox in attendance.
The Ecumenical Guide stresses that Roman Catholics "maintain the firm conviction that the singular Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, which is ruled by the successor to Peter and by bishops who are in communion with him," in as much as the "College of Bishops has as its head the Bishop of Rome, the successor to Peter."
In the same document, many nice sounding things are said about the need to develop an ecumenical dialogue and ecumenical education obviously to muddy the waters and draw away naive Orthodox by that effective, Vatican-designed method of Unity, i.e. of submission to Rome.
The method, according to The Ecumenical Guide, is the following: "The criteria that were established for ecumenical collaboration, on the one hand, are mutual recognition of baptism and the placement of the common symbols of faith in empirical liturgical life; and on the other hand, are collaboration in ecumenical education, joint prayer, and pastoral cooperation in order that we may be moved from conflict to coexistence, from coexistence to collaboration, from collaboration to sharing, from sharing to communion."
Such documents, however, that are full of hypocrisy are generally received as positive by the Orthodox.
We are saddened to ascertain that the joint declaration is founded upon the Roman Catholic reasoning above. Because of these recent developments under such terms, however, we begin to ask ourselves if those who claim that the various dialogues are detrimental to Orthodoxy might be justified after all.
Most Holy Father and Despota, in human terms, by means of that joint declaration, Roman Catholics have succeeded in gaining from certain Orthodox recognition as the legitimate continuation of the One Holy Church with the fullness of Truth, Grace, Priesthood, Mysteries, and Apostolic Succession.
But that success is to their own detriment because it removes from them the possibilty of acknowledging and repenting of their grave ecclesiology and doctrinal illness. For this reason, the concessions by Orthodox are not philanthropic. They are not for the good of either the Roman Catholics or the Orthodox. They jump from "the hope of the Gospel" (Col. 1:23) of Christ, the only God-Man, to the Pope, the man-god and idol of western humanism.
For the sake of the Roman Catholics and the whole world, whose only hope is unadulterated Orthodoxy, we are obliged never to accept union or the description of the Roman Catholic Church as a "Sister Church," or the Pope as the canonical bishop of Rome, or the "Church" of Rome as having canonical Apostolic Succession, Priesthood, and Mysteries without their (the 'Papists') expressly stated renunciation of the Filioque, the infallibility and primacy of the Pope, created grace, and the rest of their cacodoxies. For we shall never regard these as unimportant differences or mere theological opinions but as differences that irrevocably debase the theanthropic character of the Church and introduce blasphemes.
The following decisions of Vatican II are typical:
"The Roman Pontiff, the successor to Peter, is the permanent and visible source and foundation of the unity of the bishops and of the multitude of the faithful."
"This religious submission of the will and mind must be manifested in a special way before the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra."
"The Roman Pontiff, the head of college of bishops, by virtue of his office, possesses infallibility when, strengthening his brethren (Lk. 23:32) as the shepherd and highest teacher of all the faithful, he declares a teaching through an act of definition regarding faith or morals. For this reason it is justly said that the decrees of the Pope are irreversible in nature and not subject to dispensation by the Church in as much as they were pronounced with the collaboration of the Holy Spirit...consequently, the decrees of the Pope are subject to no other approval, to no other appeal, to no other judgement. For the Roman Pontiff does not express his opinion as a private person but as the highest teacher of the universal Church, upon whom personally rests the gift of the infallibility of the very Church herself and who sets forth and protects the teaching of the Catholic Faith.
"In the course of his responsibility as the vicar of Christ and shepherd of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has the fullest, highest, and universal authority in the Church, which he is always empowered to exercise freely. There cannot exist an Ecumenical Council if it is not validated or at least accepted by the successor to Peter. The convocation, presidency, and approval of the decisions of the Councils are the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff."
Do all of these teachings, Your All Holiness, not fall upon Orthodox ears as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and against the Divine Builder of the Church, Jesus Christ, the only eternal and infallible Head of the Church from Whom alone springs forth the unity of the Church? Do these not utterly contradict the Gospel-centered and God- Man centered Orthodox Ecclesiology inspired by the Holy Spirit? Do they not subordinate the God-Man to man?
How can we make such concessions or co-exist with such a spirit without losing our faith and salvation?
Remaining faithful to all that we have received from our Holy Fathers, we shall never accept the present "Roman Church" as co-representative with ours of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ.
We consider it necessary that among the theological differences the distinction between the essence and the energy of God, and the uncreatedness of the divine energies be noted, because if grace is created, as the Roman Catholics claim, salvation and the theosis of man is nullified, and the Church ceases to be a communion of theosis and degenerates into a nomocanonical institution.
Deeply pained in our soul because of all of the above, we have recourse to you our Spiritual Father. And with deepest respect, we call upon you and implore you, in your characteristic pastoral understanding and sensitivity, to take this most grave matter in hand and not accept the (Balamand) document, and generally to take every possible action to stave off the undesirable consequences it will have for pan-Orthodox unity if by chance some Churches adopt it.
Moreover, we ask for your holy and God-obedient prayers so that we too who are lowly inhabitants and monastics of the Holy Mountain, in this time of spiritual confusion, compromise, secularization, an the dulling of our doctrinal acuity, may remain faithful unto death to that which was passed on to us by our Holy Fathers as a "form of doctrine" (Rom. 6:17), whatever that may cost us.
With deepest respect, we venerate your holy right hand.
Signed by: All Representatives and Presidents of the Twenty Sacred Monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos
P.S. Note that this letter was also sent to the Churches that participated and were directly concerned in the theological dialogue and also to the remaining Churches to keep them informed.