Tradition and Traditions by Archmandrite Barnabas Lambropoulos .

The Church without the holy Bible.

First of all, let’s take a look at the affiliation between the Holy Bible and the Church.

Before we commence, it would be worth listening to an opinion expressed by saint John the Chrysostom regarding written tradition, which will be also of special interest to Protestants for different reasons, naturally.

2. The Golden-speaking (Chrysostom) Father says the following, with reference to the Gospel of Matthew (P.G. 57, 13-15):

We really shouldn’t need the help of the written texts; we should be able to display such a clean lifestyle, that the grace of the Holy Spirit would act directly onto our hearts. Just as books are inscribed by ink, that is how our hearts should be inscribed by the Spirit. But, since we have distanced ourselves from this grace, let us accept this second alternative with appreciation.

That the previous conditions were much better, is evident in both the Old as well as the New Testaments. In the Old Testament, God didn’t address the patriarchs and the prophets with written texts, but spoke to them directly, because He found their hearts to be pure. But, because the Hebrews sunk into depths of malice, written texts and stone tablets became necessary.

The same applied in the age of the New Testament. The Lord gave the Apostles nothing in writing, but He promised to give them -in place of a text- the grace of the Holy Spirit: “He (the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete) will teach you everything and will remind you of everything that I told you” (John 14:26). Paul had also said that he had received the law, “not on stone tablets, but on the tablets of our fleshy hearts” (Corinthians II, 3:3). But because people were again drawn towards evil, it was necessary to provide reminders in written form.

You must therefore perceive how great an evil it is – even now – that this second medication is not being utilized: by whom? By us, who are supposed to live such pure lives, that we shouldn’t need any written texts.

These were the words of saint John the Chrysostom. So, it seems that the medicine for the sick is (according to saint John) the written Tradition of divine will. Just as any other medicine, this too should be given with the prescription of a specialist. With all that follows below, we shall attempt to discern the identity of the healing physician and learn from him the instructions regarding the usage of the medicine.

To begin with: What is the Holy Bible? Is it perhaps a book like all other books, whose meaning we should consider that the reader can naturally grasp immediately? Of course not. It is a holy book, which chiefly addresses the faithful. Naturally, anyone can read it like a piece of literary work, but it is doubtful (even improbable) that the reader can understand its true message. The Holy Bible as a whole, as a book, obviously has a specific message. Saint Ilarius stresses: “The message of the Holy Bible is not revealed by reading, but by comprehending its content” (non in legendo sed in intelligendo).

In other words, this is a book that is more or less “locked”. So, who holds the key? Who can unlock it?

2. To reply to this question, we must trace the origin of the texts that are included in the Holy Bible, with the help of father Florovsky.

“It is obvious”, observes father George, “that the Bible is the creation of a community, both in the Old providence, as well as in the Christian Church”. (Holy Bible, Church, Tradition Pournaras Publications, pages 9-13).

How is it obvious?

Quite simply: we can see that “the Holy Bible is not just a COLLECTION of all preserved texts that contain a revelation of God, but a SELECTION of only a few of them”. Which ones? The ones whose usage (especially their liturgical usage) within a community caused them to be approved and acknowledged as authentic. In which community? In a community with specific elements of identity: with a history, with hierarchy, with visible and verifiable criteria of its continuance and unity.

And with what specific criterion did this community select the books of the Holy Bible? Obviously with the criterion that John the Evangelist mentioned: “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and thus believing, you attain life in His name”. Let us recall that this criterion was also used by John, when he had to make a compulsory choice: “For indeed, Jesus also performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book; these have been written down in order that you believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, so that thus believing, you attain life in His name”. (John, 20:3031) So, there was a specific purpose that dictated this choice. The same applies, more or less, to the entire Holy Bible.

We should not therefore consider it a chance event that an assorted selection of texts, by different authors of different times, comprised a single book, whose purpose was to deliver the single message of the only truth. It is this very identity of the message that bestows the various texts their true unity, despite the variety of their forms. Isn’t it noteworthy how, despite the inclusion of various traditions – for example in the Gospels – the Church staunchly resisted all attempts to replace the four Gospels with one, composite Gospel, or, the transformation of the Gospels into one “Of Four”? And all of this, despite the many differences (with or without quotation marks) of Evangelists, with which differences Augustine had to struggle sufficiently in order to sort things out.

Thus, certain texts were selected and subsequently delivered to the faithful as one, specific, unified edition of the divine message. The message is divine. It comes from God. But the specific, faithful community is the one that recognizes the preached word and bears witness to its truth.

4. Since the Holy Bible therefore, as a book, was composed within the community of the Church with its primary target the teaching of this community, it is a natural conclusion that: the Holy Bible did not give birth to the Church, but the Church gave birth to the Holy Bible. The Church is the mother and the Holy Bible is its daughter. That is why it is impossible to dissociate this book from the Church.

That is why Tertullian was understandably unwilling to discuss questionable topics of faith with heretics, on a biblical basis. Given that the Bible belongs to the Church, the heretics’ recourse to it is unlawful. They have no right to foreign property. This was his chief argument, in his famous treatise “De praescriptione haereticorum”. He who does not acknowledge the mother has no right to put his hands on her daughter.

Moving within the spirit of this speculation, the late preacher Dimitrios Panagopoulos wrote: “We ask Protestants to show us, in which part of the New Testament does it say that its books are 27? Nowhere, of course! Well then, who informed you? The tradition of the Church of course, which you have rejected. So, aren’t you acknowledging a motherless daughter? Where is the logic in holding onto the daughter – the New Testament – and rejecting her mother – the Tradition and authority of the Church?” (Evangelists: the anti-Evangelists, page 26)

In another part, with reference to Protestants, he said: “After coming out of the bowels of the Western Church totally naked, with only the New Testament in their hands, they resemble the son who had a confrontation with his father and left the paternal home in the night, naked, absconding with a valuable object. And when asked where he found it, he avoids answering!” (Evangelists: the anti-Evangelists, page 24)

Perhaps it is preferable that they avoid replying! Because it is truly weird, when they reply by admitting that the Canon for the books of the Holy Bible took on its final form by the Church’s Councils of the 4 th century, yet they simultaneously regard the Church of that century an “apostate”. How is it possible for a Church who is in apostasy to rule correctly on such a crucial issue as the “charting” of the infallible (as they call it) Charter of Christianity, in other words the final selection of the validated books of the Holy Bible? And how can an “apostate” Church generate such a host of martyrs and apologetes? What was the criterion that characterized the “golden era” of the Church a “period of apostasy”?

5. The former protestant Frank Schaeffer, after having escaped from this schizophrenia, considers the history of the Canon of the New Testament a very charming topic and extremely crucial for the comprehension of both the Bible as well as the Church. “Just think”, he says, that for more than 200 years, a number of books which we now consider by definition as comprising a part of the New Testament, were being extensively discussed before being included in it. And many other books which were considered suitable for inclusion were finally excluded from it. (Frank Schaeffer, Dancing alone ,page. 291, greek edition).

The oldest, complete index of the 27 books of the New Testament did not exist until 367 A.D., which was the time that it was given to us by Athanasios the Great.

This signifies that the first comprehensive catalogue of the New Testament books – as we have it today – did not appear until 3oo or more years after the first gospels had begun to be drafted… In other words: If the New Testament had begun to be written at the same time as the American Constitution, we would not have seen a finalized text before the year 2087!….

During a lengthy procedure, the Church discerned which texts were genuinely apostolic and which were not. The Ecclesiastic Councils (Synods) were part of this procedure. Two Councils among them stood out:

a. The Council (Synod) of Laodicea, in 363 A.D. ruled that only the Canonic books of the Old and New Testaments should be used in worship. It enumerated the canonic books of the Old and the New Testaments, just as they are today, with the exception of John’s Book of Revelations.

b. The third Concil (Synod) of Carthage, in 397 A.D.. This Council, which was also attended by the holy Augustine, gave a complete list of the Canonic books, as we know them today. This Council also acknowledged that only these books should be read in Church, as divine Scripture.

So, Schaeffer is indeed correct in saying that the history of the Canon of the Holy Bible is a very charming topic; because, in this history, it is clearly apparent that between the Mother (=Church) and the Daughter (=Holy Bible) there is an age difference of at least…. 300 years! In milder terms, the mother was gestating the daughter for at least…300 years! This is an indisputable historical fact. Even Protestants may perhaps suppress it or ignore it, but they certainly cannot dispute it!

If, therefore (according to Protestants) the Holy Bible is self-sufficient and self-evident; if the Bible comes before and above the Church; if it is the Bible that vivified, convened and interpreted the Church – instead of the opposite – then we are led, at least in medical terms, to acknowledging something monstrous: an unformed embryo, which has been nurturing and preserving the mother that has been gestating it for more than 300 years!!! I

The Holy Bible and traditions

This doubting of the authority of the Church by Protestants is entirely unprecedented. But equally arbitrary is the acknowledging of the absolute and self-existent value of the Holy Bible. These unprecedented arbitrary acts not only led to simple “medical paradoxes” as the one mentioned above, but literally to “teratogenesis” (births of monsters)! Monstrosities, which have to date been created by about 23.000 protestant groups.

The more that protestants do not want to look for the correct key that unlocks the Holy Bible, the more they will continue to compromise it with their subjective and arbitrary interpretations.

As Schaeffer says, The Church never saw itself as a chaos of spiritual individualism, much less as a whirlpool of 23.000 confessions squabbling amongst themselves for their vital territory, each armed with its own subjective interpretation of the Scriptures and its own, selfdiscovered traditions.

And the former protestant rightly asks himself: What is the difference between the phrase: ‘today the Holy Spirit told me to tell you’ and the phrase: ‘in the name of the Constitution of the United States, I order you to wash the dishes!’” Both of them originate from the arbitrary action of subjectively interpreting a tradition (of a text), cut off from the source that gave birth to -and safeguards- it.

But what can one expect from the spiritual offspring of Luther, who initially, during his University lectures on the interpretation of the Epistle to Romans, acknowledged the interpretational authority of the Latin Church, then was taken by “storm” (Storm was the name of the lady he married) and afterwards released the winds of Aeolus, by supporting the following: “When a person becomes personally involved with Christ, he can substitute not only the hierarchy of the Church, but that very Church itself. As regards the faith, every Christian is -unto himself- both pope and Church!” (These are exactly Luther’s words, as appearing in the German edition of his works, volume 5, page 407).

Thus, we frequently hear Protestants insisting that: “The Church lives in my heart… It is the faith that I have inside me… I carry the Church inside me!” This is the sorry state that the war cry of “Sola Scriptura” (Lat.=only the Bible) led them into, which, according to Schaeffer is nothing more that the first line of the protestant song: “I did it my way” (which –loosely translated- implies: “this is how I believe, because that’s how I like it!”). And this orthodox American concludes that the revolution that started with the war cry “Down with bishops! Only the Bible!” ended with the acknowledgement that: the Bible, outside the boundaries of Holy Tradition, Divine Liturgy, Sacramental life and prayer, ‘signifies’ whatever each person wants it to signify.

Schaeffer says that such a usage of the Scriptures opens the door to the ‘theology of demons’”, as Evagrios of Pontus had said. This kind of Bible study, devoid of any interest in history, worship and Church interpretation, demotes it to a concoction, no different to the astrologers’ guidance that is published daily in newspapers. This is the kind of astrological content that they attribute to the Scripture: they do not regard it as the book that speaks of the One truth, but more like a kind of game of fortune, which contains personal and magical messages.

Schaeffer continues to say that the motive behind this astrological perception of ‘bible study’ and this kind of accompanying ‘prayer’ is the same one that leads tens of thousands of people to psychics and fortune-tellers. This is a complete privatization of religious belief. It just may be the final blow to the assertions of Christian historicity.Modern Protestantism rendered the text of the Bible incomprehensible if removed from personal emotional reaction. Thus, the circle of subjectiveness was completed: The faith has now become personalized, in a “rebirth experience”. The Church “lives inside our hearts”. The Sacraments are “only symbols”. After all, the “message” of the Bible proves to be a message that can only be “heard” inside certain irresponsible people, to whom mystic voices “reveal” things that no-one else can hear.

So, where did these contemporary, splintered Protestants – especially the Pentecostals – find the outspokenness to deride the Orthodox Church about pursuing human traditions that oppose the Holy Bible and Apostolic teaching? When will they understand that which another Orthodox converted Protestant – the American father Gregory Rogers – understood, i.e., that the question is not if I am a supporter or an opponent of tradition or traditions, but rather, which tradition I should follow! (Coming Home, page 23-35)

a. Father Gregory belonged to a protestant sect, which had its roots in the Born-Again Movement of Alexander Campbell. “Suddenly”, he says, he realized that he, the antitraditional, was actually the follower of a human, subjective tradition: the tradition of Campbell.”

Rogers’ springboard for exiting the chaos of protestant subjectivism and his subsequent treading on the guiding ground of the historical Church, was the Canon of Saint Vicentius of Leirinos, which says: “Faith is that which is believed in every place, at all times and by everyone”. This canon, albeit characterized by Florovsky as “inadequate, for fully defining the delivered Faith”, was nevertheless enough to turn the eyes of the former Protestant to the texts of the Fathers and the Minutes of the Ecumenical Councils (Synods).

b. Another -also American- father John Pro, a Baptist pastor for 35 years, found his way to the historical Church by reading more carefully the 13 th chapter of the Epistle to Hebrews and especially the passage: “Commemorate your priors, who had spoken the word of God, whose ….. faith you should emulate”, and the passage: “Be convinced by your priors and subject yourself….” Which turned his eyes towards the historical hierarchy of the Church. It was thus, that he began to search for his prior, in other words his bishop, through the very Apostolic Father, saint Ignatius the God-bearer, as his guide. The most touching part is when he bade the Baptists farewell with a rousing sermon titled: “The Holy Bible, the way we Baptists don’t like to hear it!”. At the end of the sermon, he left the room….. almost through the window! (Coming Home, pages 95-103).

c. I should finish my reference to converted brethren with – again an American – Peter Gillquist, who, amongst the other “arousals” that awakened him, also mentions the passage from the 2 nd chapter of the Epistle II to Thessalonians: “My brothers, stand fast and keep the traditions that you were taught either by word or by an epistle of ours”.

It was there, that father Peter noticed that Apostolic Succession was not handed down only in writing, but also by word of mouth. (Peter Gillquist, Becoming Orthodox, pages 61- 75). He thence began to look for the historical carrier of that word.

Naturally, he didn’t find any organized Information Bank with tapes of the Apostles’ sermons! He did however discover that the Church (it is not forbidden to also keep it in our hearts, like everything else that we love) also had a historical dimension; and that this was the One, Apostolic Church, through which the Holy Spirit expresses Himself.

Of everything that the aforementioned Orthodox converted Protestants confess, they reveal that the chief cause that led Protestantism to the arbitrary subjective interpretation of the Scriptures was their misconstrued perception regarding the divine inspiration behind the sacred texts of the Holy Bible. They believe that divine inspiration is a random action of the Holy Spirit, by which the sacred authors were able to write the canonic books, so that they would comprise the unerring guides of the ensuing Church. The extremity of this viewpoint was that these texts were dictated to the authors by the Holy Spirit, hence they are divinely inspired, word for word!

In this way, they have equated the Holy Bible to a revelation of God. Inge was therefore justified when accusing them that “their Creed is essentially a return to the Gospel, with the spirit of the Koran!”

Father John Romanides straightforwardly (uprightly stating the truth) says that this idea (of equating the Holy Bible to the Revelation) is “not only ridiculous from a Patristic point of view, but also a genuine heresy. The Scripture is not a revelation, but a word that speaks of the revelation”. And father John concludes with a paragraph that puts everything into its proper perspective:

“For the Fathers, the Bible is not the sole authority; it is the Bible, together with all that is deific, i.e., the prophets, the apostles, the saints – in other words, whatever is linked to the tradition of the Pentecost, by which the Holy Spirit sanctifies the selected ones and through them, illuminates those to be illuminated and cleanses those being catechized. The Bible -per se- is neither inspired by God, nor infallible. It becomes divinely inspired and infallible within the community of saints, who possess the experience of unspoken divine glory that is described in the Bible, but is not transmitted through the Bible. To those outside of the living tradition of theory (the sighting, the epiphany of God), to those who are outside of the Church, the Bible remains a closed book, which does not unlock its mysteries as long as the key of theory is missing, and that key is found only in the hands of those who behold the body of Christ” (Charisteria Melitonos, page 498).

Tradition and Renewal

Venerable Fathers and brethren,

We fully understand the reason that led certain of our brothers further away from their Paternal House, which is the One Church. The arbitrary innovations of the Papal Church degraded every sense of verbally delivered Tradition. But, instead of these scandalized Roman Catholics returning to the paternal hearth as our Patriarch at the time, Jeremiah II, had so courteously and caringly asked them to do, they moved even further away. (G. Florovsky, Christianity and Civilization, pages 181-196)

And even though they were warned -by the carefully worded hints of the Patriarch- that they were following human inventions, they persisted in the dogma of a “semper reformanda” (Lat.=ever reforming, transforming) Church. But this dogma led them to that which a French protestant e-magazine proclaims with “liberal” brazenness over the Internet: “Heresy is a duty!”

If they had returned to their Paternal home, they would have seen that the Orthodox Church never aligned itself with the “Theology of Divine Inertia” as we are sarcastically accused by the above magazine. It was never allergic, in the sense of proper reform. The Orthodox Church was never plagued by barren tradition-leadership (as are plagued the sympathetic, old-calendar Christians who, on account of their morbid adherence to traditions -traditions with a small ‘t’- have ended up with Luther’s slightly altered assertion that ‘every Christian is to himself both Patriarch and Church’!’ And because of this, their groups will be soon competing with Protestant sects in their numbers).

The Orthodox Church did not have any problem in 268 A.D. at the Council (Synod) of Antioch in condemning the term “οµοούσιος” (omo-ousios = Greek: of the same essence), when blasphemously used by Paul of Samosata to support his theory of Unitariansim, and then, 50 years later, adopt (orthodoxically of course) this same term “οµοούσιος” (homoousios = Greek: of the same essence) and actually insert it in the Nicene Creed! And that ….. master reformist, Athanasios the Great, provided explanations and reassurances to the “ultra Orthodox” of his time that: “…All of them (attending in Antioch and in Nice) were Fathers. All of them are resting in Christ. All of them believed in everything pertaining to Christ; and all of them promptly acted against heretics: the former (Fathers at Antioch) condemned the one of Samosata, and the latter (Fathers at Nice) condemned Areios..” (On Councils, 43,1 45,2)

And although for 56 whole years the orthodox lived under a relentless persecution by Arianists, preferring to be decapitated rather than concede to decapitating their creed by removing the word “οµοούσιος” (omo-ousios = Greek: of the same essence), quite suddenly, the 2 nd Ecumenical Council (Synod) sidestepped this much-afflicted word. They knowingly put aside a term that portrayed dogmatic precision, acting providentially. Yes, you heard correctly: providence, over a dogmatic term (!!!), for the sole purpose of facilitating the return to the Church of the well-meaning Spirit-combatters of that time. This, Christsimulating providence, was wholly approved also by the pillar of Orthodoxy, Gregory the Theologian; yet, there are the Apollinarians, who albeit project themselves as “super orthodox” and supporters of the term “οµοούσιος” (omo-ousios = Greek: of the same essence), nevertheless accuse him of betraying the faith!!

Please allow us this parenthesis, to mention that the “ultra orthodox” of the time of Athanasios the Great, of Gregory the Theologian and of every era, are in the habit of “itching to find” supposed ‘heretic’ words an making a ‘fuss’ over them. If only these poor souls had been familiar with the words of saint Gregory Palamas, who had boldly stated: “It was usual, from the very beginning, – not only by the Holy Bible but also the holy Fathers – to pay no attention to words, because words do not injure anything, when things themselves prove to be different.” Palamas concludes with the following: “ the ‘fussing over words’ was unknown to the holy Fathers. Furthermore, whomsoever pays attention, ‘not to the purpose of the author but to his words’ ends up ‘respecting lies’, in other words, he will have a false perception of the faith and will even gloat about it.” (To Dionysos, para.13, Pan.Christou, 2, 490)

We close this parenthesis.

The fidelity towards Tradition (tradition, with a capital ‘T’), did not hinder the Fathers of the Church to create “new names” (as quoted by saint Gregory the Theologian), whenever that was deemed necessary for the protection of the unalterable faith, even if those “new names” sometimes scandalized the supposed lovers of Tradition. Let us remember –for example- by how many of his contemporaries saint Simeon the New Theologian was considered a modernist, when he counter-poised conventional religiosity versus the experience of life in Christ! Even saint Gregory Palamas was characterized by his adversaries as a ‘new’ theologian and a dangerously modernist one.

But none of these orthodox reforms ever injured ‘the once-only, delivered-to-the-saints faith’. Quite simply, in the face of any threat of counterfeiting of the faith, the Church was obliged to guard its one, unalterable faith, by rephrasing it, with the addition of new names (as saint Gregory tells us). These rephrasings didn’t add any new truth or new revelation that the Church wasn’t previously aware of, nor did they lead to a better and fuller understanding of the revelation. They were simply terms that were adapted to and compatible with the new notional framework that the uprising heresy had introduced, so that through these newly- introduced terms, the usually masked heresy would be exposed.

Basil the Great clarifies matters, by saying: “If we changed the content of the faith every time we encountered challenges and circumstances, then the decision of the one who said “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” would be fallacious. But if those words are true, then let no-one deceive you with empty words.” And he concludes: “And we admit no faith that has been newly written by others, nor do we dare relinquish the fruits of our intellect, for fear that we make the words of piety a human product; but, just as we were taught by the holy Apostles, thus we ´proclaim.” (Epistles, 226,3 and 140,2)

I will succumb to the temptation to mention one more amazing passage by Basil the Great, where he refers to another “increment, supplement and/or renewal” of the delivered faith, not necessarily related to the challenges of heresies. In his letter to the unstable in faith Eustathios of Sebastia, he confesses the following: “My entire life is pitiful. I dare to boast only of one thing: that I have never become deluded in beliefs pertaining to God, or (note this) by relearning something after believing otherwise. The faith that I received from my deceased mother and my grandmother Makrina, is the EVER-INCREASING faith that I carry inside me.”

And he explains what this ever-increasing faith is attributed to: “I did not partake of other things for the perfecting of the word, instead I PERFECTED those principles that were already bestowed on me. For, just as that which increases in magnitude begins from a smaller size, yet still remains itself, unchanging as to its species, but becomes perfect during its growth, so do I expect to increase the word within me, through my improvement. And this increment does not imply that I spoke otherwise then and otherwise now. Nor did any change occur in the things that I said, from worse to better, but, quite simply, a ‘supplementing of missing information during the incrementing of knowledge’ (Epistle 223, 3-5).

These words of the holy Father are evidence of his incremental knowledge of God; his renewable –let’s say- experience in the faith. But it is a renewal that is rooted within the living Tradition of the Church.

One such (let’s call it) ‘reform’ (so that we are understood by Protestants) is not only justified, but necessary. Because, quite simply, the experience of the living God and the word or confession pertaining to Him, cannot possibly be considered a dead or static element, especially within the problems of the world and of history. According therefore to Basil the Great, the increment, the improvement, the supplement and the perfecting of faith, comprise the only orthodox renewal of Tradition, which is nothing more that the perennial, living experience of the UNALTERED faith throughout history, and the -relevant to it- living word, confession, theology, testimony or however else you want to call it.

EPILOGUE

I will close my attempt to reply to the fundamental questions that were posed in the beginning, by returning to the Protestant booklet that gave rise to this commentary.

The purpose of the book (as mentioned in the Prologue) was to show “on the basis of God’s written word and Ecclesiastic History” (remember this mention of Ecclesiastic History) that “the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church does not originate from Christ or the Apostles, but is human-made and of a much later date. And most importantly, it opposes the Holy Bible and is consequently detrimental to the souls that believe in it.”

In the Prologue we are also warned that for historical issues, it refers us to the book ‘Ecclesiastic History’ by Stefanides. This is an interesting point, because –as we sawProtestants are not too comfortable with the lessons of Ecclesiastic History. In the best of circumstances, they read it selectively.

It is also interesting, that in another edition of this group, they do not deny the historical testimony that the Canon of the Holy Bible was validated by the Church of the 4 th century.

So, we ask them: Isn’t it at least logical that they accept the fact that that Church was indeed “the pillar and the foundation of the truth”? (Timothy I,3:15) How else would the Canon on the books of the Bible be correct? How therefore is it possible, that the teaching of those Pentecostals has nothing to do with the faith of that Church?

Quite simple: Because they never comprehended that which the deceased father Justin Popovic had clearly proclaimed: that the Tradition of the Orthodox Church could never relate to voluntary religions, warrants and teachings of humans, since, for the Orthodox, “Tradition is the ever-living Divine-Human Christ, Who is ever-present in the Divine-Human Body of the Church.” (Orthodox Church and Ecumenism, Greek edition: 88-89).

What is Happening in Montenegro?

I don’t know if you’ve heard anything about the current goings-on in Montenegro since the corrupt, NATO-supported mafia regime there adopted a law which aims to confiscate the property of the canonical Orthodox Church. Naturally, the law has a ridiculous Orwellian name (something like “the law on freedom of religion”), and is presented as an honest attempt on the part of the Montenegrin government to regulate State-Church relations in the country. In fact, however, the law was clearly created to confiscate the property (including churches and monasteries) belonging to the Orthodox Church in Montenegro which, unlike other major religious denominations in the country, was never invited to any kind of official discussion or dialogue with relevant government institutions etc responsible for creating this law. The most controversial part of the law states (in essence) that all property belonging to the Church since before 1918 for which there is no adequate evidence that it belonged to the Church and not the State will be confiscated by the State. The false premise here is that the State then supposedly owned all Church land, which by the way is completely false. Government functionaries have obviously denied this, but it is the logical consequence of the law. Several members of the leading party (i.e. members of the Montenegrin mafia) have made pronunciations about the Serbian Orthodox Church being a “relic of the past” which needs to “die out”, and have said that perhaps some churches could, in the future, be used for whatever the government finds useful, such as cafés, pastry shops or casinos (!).
The current president (read: dictator) of Montenegro, who has been in power for around thirty years, and who is himself unbaptized and an atheist, has recently declared that it is his intention to “recreate” the “autocephalous” (sic) “Montenegrin Orthodox Church”. This is obvious historical revisionism and political manipulation (which is I’m sure you understand very well), the same kind that we’ve already seen in the Ukraine and other places. This fake “Church” has no members (other than perhaps a handful of government bureaucrats) and is led by a former priest (defrocked and excommunicated by the Patriarch of Constantinople) named Miraš Dedeić.
Naturally, the faithful have been protesting this whole development for years (the first draft of the law was finished in 2015) and since the law was passed about a week ago there have been huge gatherings – prayer services, processions and demonstrations all across Montenegro. Over 100,000 are believed to have participated the day before yesterday alone, and more still during the previous week. Despite these massive protests (in a country, by the way, which has a population of only around 600,000) and a large gathering on December 21 in Nikšić where tens of thousands gathered despite the bad weather and the fact that the government blocked the roads to Republika Srpska and Serbia, hardly any attention has been paid to this anywhere. Obviously the media in Serbia, Montenegro and the surrounding countries have reported all this, along with some alternative media outlets, but hardly a word from foreign media. If one sixth of the population of, say, the United Kingdom, protested against something – don’t you think that might be mentioned in the news? Perhaps more than a few times even?
Today the looming war with Iran has naturally crowded out all other news, but even before that there was hardly any mention of these recent developments in Montenegro. I suppose the diabolical mainstream media only report the things that serve their agenda, and spin everything to suit their narrative.
Anyway, I just thought I’d send you this message and a few links to some relevant articles and videos. I didn’t even get into the unbelievably condescending interview given to the Serbian media outlet Kurir by Patriarch Bartholomew where he inferred that some of the Serbian bishops are “ungrateful children” whom the “Mother Church” (i.e. Constantinople) nevertheless “loves”. Can you imagine? He also went on to bash the Russian Orthodox Church for its supposedly terrible actions in the Ukraine etc. The article in Serbian is linked below, Google Translate usually does an okay job translating from Serbian to English.
In any case, what can I say? Please pray for me and for us all, for the Church and all the faithful who are suffering across the world. Times are clearly not that good right now.
And have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas!
Filip
https://orthochristian.com/126743.html – Police in Podgorica beat up a bishop and faithful protesting against the law
https://orthochristian.com/126889.html – Politicians who voted for the law are excommunicated, the faithful protest all over Montenegro
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r1PzVnqLqjc – Yesterday’s prayer and protest in Podgorica
https://mitropolija.com/2020/01/02/istinska-crna-gora-2-januara-2020-godine-uvece-video-foto/ – Images and videos from protests in cities and towns across Montenegro

By Fr Andrew

Copyright Fr Andrew and Filip.

Repentance thru The remembrance of death.

St John Climacus : The ladder of divine ascent, Step 6:18. “And I cannot be silent about the story of Hesychius the Horebite. He passed his life in complete negligence, without paying the least attention to his soul. Then he became extremely ill, and for an hour he left his body. And when he came to himself he begged us all to leave him immediately. And he built up the door of his cell, and he stayed in it for twelve years without ever uttering a word to anyone, and without eating anything but bread and water. And, always remaining motionless, he was so wrapt in spirit in what he had seen in his ecstasy that he never changed his place but was always as if out of his mind, and silently shed hot tears. But when he was about to die, we broke open the door and went in, and after many questions this alone was all we heard from him: ‘Forgive me! No one who has acquired the remembrance of death will ever be able to sin.’ We were amazed to see that one who had before been so negligent was so suddenly transfigured by this blessed change and transformation. We reverently buried him in the cemetery near the fort 1 and after some days we looked for his holy relics, but did not find them. So by his true and praiseworthy repentance the Lord showed us that even after long negligence He accepts those who desire to amend.”

The Council of Jerusalem of 1443 . by Petrus Antiochenus

We often hear claims that the Ecumenical Patriarch has the exclusive prerogative to call a council or hear appeals. This has little textual basis in the Holy Canons (at least, without substantial historical and hermeneutical gymnastics) and it also runs into the practical problem of what to do when a Patriarch of Constantinople promotes heresy. This has been, of course, the case on many occasions throughout history, including when Constantinople, backed by imperial authority, enforced Monotheletism and Iconoclasm.

Orthodox believers were also confronted with this problem after the Council of Florence, when the emperor and almost all bishops of the Church of Constantinople agreed to a false union with Rome. Due to the di!cult circumstances of Mamluk rule for the Christians of the Middle East, the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem did not send delegates, so instead bishops already attending the council were named as their representatives. As providence would have it, one of the representatives for these patriarchs was St Mark of Ephesus, the only bishop in attendance who refused to sign the act of union in 1439.

In early 1443, Arsenios, the Metropolitan of Caesarea of Cappadocia, which was in Constantinople’s jurisdiction but in territory long under Muslim control, visited Jerusalem ostensibly to venerate the holy places. It seems, however, that his real motivation was the trouble he was having with his su”ragan bishops who had been appointed by the unionist Patriarch of Constantinople, Metrophanes II. Once in the holy city, Arsenios appealed to Patriarch Joachim of Jerusalem against his patriarch and bishops, so Joachim called a council to address the issue, which was attended by Patriarchs Philotheos of Alexandria and Dorotheos II of Antioch. This council ruled in Arsenios’ favor, not only provisionally excommunicating and suspending all unionist clergy from holy orders until an ecumenical council could be held, but authorizing Arsenios to act under their authority to preach Orthodoxy and impose penalties on such clergy anywhere without territorial restriction.

The text below is translated from the History of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem by the Archbishop of Athens Chrysostomos Papadopoulos, pp. 439-442:

At that time (1439), the Robber’s Council of Florence was convened. Fortunately, however, the designated representative of the Church of Jerusalem was Mark Eugenikos (d. 1443), who did not sign its decision. Already in 1443, in order to o!cially condemn it, [Patriarch] Joachim called a Council in Jerusalem, which was attended by Patriarchs Philotheos of Alexandria (r. 1435-1459) and Dorotheos of Antioch (r. 1435-1452), as well as Metropolitan Arsenios of Caesarea [in Cappadocia]. It is noteworthy that the decision of this Council of Jerusalem has as its most accurate text the following:

Since the most reverend metropolitan of the most holy Metropolis of Caesarea of Cappadocia, the first-throned and exarch of all the East, has come here both to venerate the all-venerable and divine Sepulcher of our Lord Christ and examine the holy places in Jerusalem, where the incredible mysteries of Christ’s dispensation were accomplished, and to partake with us of the great mystery of Christian orthodoxy and piety and explain all the scandals in Constantinople on account of the mob that gathered– that is, the unclean Council in Florence in Italy, which held the opinions of the Latins with Pope Eugene, things that are not proper: indeed, the addition in the Symbol of Faith, that the Holy Spirit also proceeds from the Son; permitting azymes in our sacrifice and, on account of these things, to commemorate the pope, and also deciding and prescribing still other illicit things contrary to the canons. [He explained] how Metrophanes of Cyzicus theivingly usurped the throne of Constantinople, joining with the heretics, the aforementioned pope and the Latin-minded Emperor of the Romans, John Palaiologos. Driving away, persecuting, oppressing and penalizing those who are faithful and Orthodox, he encourages and honors the faithless and disreputable as ones like-minded to his heresy, overwhelmingly urges them to enmity for Orthodoxy and piety. In the same way, he sent impure metropolitans and unclean bishops everywhere to the divine and holy sees of the Great and Holy Church of Constantinople as ones submitted to his jurisdiction.

The aforementioned most reverend Metropolitan Arsenios explained how Patriarch Metrophanes not only sent along men with an illicit, Latin-minded ordination to the other Churches, but this unordained man also ordained four metropolitans and bishops for the eparchy of all the East, for Amaseia, Neocaesarea, Tyanna and Mokissos, who thought and did everything like the Latins, which they not only have their own corruption and destruction within themselves, but after so much audacity, they deceive and corrupt all the Christians there, the flock of Christ, and produce many scandals in the Orthodox Church.

Therefore, this pious, most faithful, zealot and champion of all Orthodoxy, the aforementioned most reverend metropolitan of Caesarea of Cappadocia, unable to bear seeing innovation in the Church of Christ and the defilement of our most Orthodox and healing faith by the heterodox, found it fitting to receive conciliar opinion from us, the three Orthodox hierarchs in Syria– that is, Philotheos of Alexandria, Joachim of Jerusalem and Dorotheos of Antioch– in order to ward o” all those who do not think in an Orthodox manner throughout his eparchy, as he himself is most senior [among them] and Orthodox.

Wherefore, together we synodally declare in the name of the consubstantial, life- creating, undivided and Holy Trinity that metropolitans and bishops everywhere who were not ordained on account of virtue and piety, as well as hegumens and father confessors and likewise priests, deacons and every ecclesiastical rank in general, but rather being impure and unworthy, having practiced heresy, persecuted Orthodoxy and only spent their time unworthily, in the manner of vainglory and heresy, although they were meant so be savers of souls, so that the entire Orthodox flock of Christ our true God may perish with them, in no wise acquiring for themselves the fear of God or the fruit of righteousness and piety, but rather are shameless despisers of all piety. We declare them from today to be idle and unconsecrated of any priestly activity and ecclesiastical state until [their] piety is generally and ecumenically investigated. Therefore, let them be idle and unconsecrated. Thievishly and lawlessly rebellious and contrary, let them also be cast out, separated and estranged from the holy, super-substantial and consubstantial Trinity as ones who are disobedient and contradictory and likewise also those who honor, defend, and agree with them in these matters. We likewise reinstate the herald of piety and Orthodoxy, the aforementioned most reverend metropolitan and most honorable exarch of all the East to proclaim piety everywhere, not being ashamed of the truth before the person of an emperor or patriarch who does not believe or act in an Orthodox manner, nor before the wealthy and powerful or any human, but rather outspokenly holding fast to the faith and Orthodoxy, not fearing or doubting, according to the commandment, that he from now on may have license to question the piety, penalize and correct those who do not think in an Orthodox manner in every place he is able to travel, receiving permission for these things from us through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit that is given to us. He should also incorruptibly and uprightly guard the piety on account of which our written opinion was freely given to him synodally and recorded by our own hands in the month of April, 6951 [i.e., 1443], year six of the indiction.

Categories: Document Archive

Orthodox Synaxis

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St Gregory the Theologian on the nativity of Christ. from Oration 38.

“Christ is born: glorify him. Christ comes down from heaven: go out to meet him. Christ descends to earth: let us be raised on high. Let all the world sing to the Lord: let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad, for his sake who was first in heaven and then on earth. Christ is here in the flesh: let us exult with fear and joy—with fear, because of our sins; with joy, because of the hope that he brings us.

Once more the darkness is dispersed; once more the light is created. Let the people that sat in the darkness of ignorance now look upon the light of knowledge. The things of old have passed away; behold, all things are made new. He who has no mother in heaven is now born without a father on earth. The laws of nature are overthrown, for the upper world must be filled with citizens. He who is without flesh becomes incarnate; the Word puts on a body; the invisible one is seen; the intangible one is touched; the timeless one makes a beginning; the Son of God becomes the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and for ever.

It is the Word of God himself — who is before all worlds, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the bodiless, the beginning of the beginning, the light of light, the source of life and immortality, the image of the archetypal beauty, the immovable seal, the unchangeable Image, the definition and explanation of the Father. He came to his own Image, and took upon him flesh for the sake of our flesh, and mingled himself with an intelligent soul for my soul’s sake, purifying like by like; and in all points except sin was made man. He was conceived by the Virgin, who was purified beforehand in body and soul by the Holy Spirit, for it was needful both that childbearing should be honored, and that virginity should receive a higher honor. He came forth then as God with that which He had assumed, one person in two natures, flesh and spirit, the one deifying and the other deified. O new commingling! O strange conjunction! The self-existent comes into being, the uncreated is created, that which cannot be contained is contained, by the intervention of an intellectual soul, mediating between the divinity and the corporeity of the flesh. And he who gives riches becomes poor, for he shares the poverty of my flesh, that I may share in the richness of his Godhead. He that is full empties himself, for he empties himself of his glory for a short while, that I may have a share in his fullness

This is our festival, this is the feast we are celebrating today: the arrival of’ God among us, so that we might go to God—or more precisely, return to God. So that stripping off our old humanity we might put on the new; for as in Adam we were dead, so in Christ we become alive: we are born with him, and we rise again with him, [a miracle] not of creation but of re-creation.

Now then I pray you accept his conception, and leap for joy; if not like John from the womb, yet like David, because of the resting of the Ark. Revere the census record on account of which you have been written in heaven, and adore the birth by which you were loosed from the chains of your birth, and honor little Bethlehem, which has led you back to paradise; and venerate the manger through which you, who were without sense, were fed by the Word. Run after the star, and bear your gifts with the magi, gold and frankincense and myrrh, as to a king and a God, and to one who is dead for your sake. With shepherds glorify him, with angels join in chorus, and with archangels sing hymns. Let this festival be common to the powers in heaven and to the powers upon earth. For I am persuaded that the heavenly hosts join in our exultation and keep high festival with us today.”

On the Remembrance of Death

St Ignatius Brianchaninov.

A monk should remember every day, and several times a day, that he is faced with inevitable death, and eventually he should even attain to the unceasing remembrance of death.

Our mind is so darkened by the fall that unless we force ourselves to remember death we can completely forget about it. When we forget about death, then we begin to live on earth as if we were immortal, and we sacrifice all our activity to the world without concerning ourselves in the least either about the fearful transition to eternity or about our fate in eternity. Then we boldly and peremptorily override the commandments of Christ; then we commit all the vilest sins; then we abandon not only unceasing prayer but even the prayers appointed for definite times—we begin to scorn this essential and indispensable occupation as if it were an activity of little importance and little needed. Forgetful of physical death, we die a spiritual death.

On the other hand, he who often remembers the death of the body rises from the dead in soul. [1] He lives on earth like a stranger in an inn or like a prisoner in gaol, constantly expecting to be called out for trial or execution. Before his eyes the gates into eternity are always open. He continually looks in that direction with spiritual anxiety, with deep sorrow and reflection. He is constantly occupied with wondering what justify him at Christ’s terrible Judgment and what his sentence will be. This sentence decides a person’s fate for the whole of eternity. No earthly beauty, no earthly pleasure draws his attention or his love. He condemns no one, for he remembers that at the judgment of God such judgment will be passed on as he passed here on his neighbours. He forgives everyone everything, that he may himself obtain forgiveness and inherit salvation. He is indulgent with all, he is merciful in that indulgence and mercy may be shown to him. He welcomes and embraces with joy every trouble or trial that comes to him as a toll for his sins in time which frees him from toll in eternity. If the thought comes to him to be proud of virtue, at once the remembrance of death rushes against this thought, puts it to shame, exposes the nonsense and drives it away.

What significance can our virtue have in the judgment of God? What value can our virtue have in the eyes of God to Whom even Heaven is impure? [2] Remind and remind yourself: “I shall die, I shall die for certain! My fathers and forefathers died; no human being has remained forever on earth. And the fate that has overtaken everyone awaits me too!” Do not fritter away the time given you for repentance. Do not rivet your eyes to the earth on which you are a momentary actor, on which you are an exile, on which by the mercy of God you are given a chance to change your mind and offer repentance for the avoidance of hell’s eternal prisons and the eternal torment in them. Use the short spell of your pilgrimage on earth to acquire a haven of peace, a blessed refuge in eternity. Plead for the eternal possession by renouncing every temporal possession, by renouncing everything carnal and natural in the realm of our fallen nature. Plead by the fulfillment of Christ’s commandments. Plead by sincere repentance for the sins you have committed. Plead by thanking and praising God for all the trials and troubles sent you. Plead by an abundance of prayer and psalmody. Plead by means of the Jesus Prayer and combine with it the remembrance of death.

These two activities—the Jesus Prayer and the remembrance of death—easily merge into one activity. From the prayer comes a vivid remembrance of death, as if it were a foretaste of it: and from this foretaste of death the prayer itself flares up more vigorously.

It is essential for the ascetic to remember death. This remembrance is essential for his spiritual life. It protects the spiritual life of the monk from harm and corruption by self-confidence, [3] to which the ascetic and attentive life can lead unless it is guarded by the remembrance of death and God’s Judgment. It is a great disaster for the soul to set any value on one’s own effort or struggle, and to regard it as a merit in the sight of God. Admit that you deserve all earthly punishment as well as the eternal torments. Such an appraisal of yourself will be the truest, the most salutary for your soul, and the most pleasing to God.

Frequently enumerate the eternal woes that await sinners. By frequently docketing these miseries make them stand vividly before your eyes. Acquire a foretaste of the torments of hell so that at the graphic remembrance of them your soul may shudder, may tear itself away from sin, and may have recourse to God with humble prayer for mercy, putting all your hope in His infinite goodness and despairing of yourself. Recall and represent to yourself the terrible measureless subterranean gulf and prison which constitute hell. The gulf or pit is called bottomless. [4] Precisely! That is just what it is in relation to men. The vast prison of hell has many sections and many different kinds of torment and torture by which every man is repaid according to the deeds he has done in the course of his earthly life. In all sections imprisonment is eternal, the torments eternal. There insufferable, impenetrable darkness reigns, and at the same time the unquenchable fire burns there, with an ever equal strength. There is no day there. There it is always eternal night. The stench there is insupportable, and it cannot be compared with the foulest earthly fetor. The terrible worm of hell never slumbers or sleeps. It gnaws and gnaws, and devours the prisoners of hell without impairing their wholeness or destroying their existence, and without ever being glutted itself. Such is the nature of all the torments of hell; they are worse than any death, but they do not produce death. Death is desired in hell much as life is desired on earth. Death would be a comfort all the prisoners of hell. It is not for them. Their fate is unending life for unending suffering. Lost souls in hell are tormented by the insufferable executions with which the eternal on of those rejected by God abounds; they are tormented by the unendurable grief; they are tormented there by most ghastly disease of the soul: despair.

Acknowledge that you are sentenced to hell for eternal torment, from that acknowledgment there will be born in your heart irresistible and mighty cries of prayer that they will incline God to have mercy on you, and He will lead into Paradise instead of hell.

You who consider yourselves deserving of earthly and heavenly rewards! For you hell is more dangerous than for flagrant sinners because the gravest sin among all the sins is self-opinion, self-confidence—a sin of the spirit invisible mortal eyes and which is often covered with a mask of humility.

The remembrance and consideration of death was practised the greatest of the holy Fathers. Of Pachomius the Great the author of his life says that he ‘maintained himself constantly in fear of God with the remembrance of the eternal torments pains which have no end—that is, with the remembrance of unquenchable fire and the undying worm. By this means Pachomius kept himself from evil and roused to the better.’ [5]

Footnotes

1. Ephes. 2:1-6; Col. 3: 1; Rom. 8:11, 36; Heb: 11: 13-16; 2 Cor. 4: 10.
2. Job. 15:15.
3. Lit. self-opinion: it includes conceit and confidence in one’s own efforts.
4. Rev. 20: 1-3.
5. Vita sancti Pachomii, abbatis Tabennensis. Patrologia, Tom. XXIII.

From The Arena: An Offering to Contemporary Monasticism, by Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov), translated from the Russian by Archimandrite Lazarus (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1991), pp. 66-78. This is one of the most important books for our times on the spiritual life. Do not let the title fool you. Though written primarily as an “offering to contemporary [late 19th century] monasticism,” it contains much wisdom for laypeople as well. The Arena represents a portion of the works written late in his life, reflecting his extensive experience, balance, and patristic wisdom. This book cannot be too highly recommended for all serious Orthodox Christians.

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov Quotes.

“It is worth noticing that, after acquiring spiritual understanding, the defects and faults of one’s neighbor begin to seem very slight and insignificant, as redeemed by the Savior and easily cured by repentance—those very faults and defects which seemed to the carnal understanding so big and serious. Evidently the carnal mind, being itself a plank, gives them this huge significance. The carnal mind sees in others sins that are not there at all.

The Lord remained silent before Pilate and Herod; He made no attempt to justify Himself. You must imitate His holy and wise silence when you see that your enemies accuse you, with every intention of certain conviction; they accuse only with the purpose of hiding their own evil intention under the guise of judgement.

the easiest way of practicing unceasing prayer is to pray the Jesus Prayer, a beginner should apply himself to the Jesus Prayer as often as possible. Do you happen to have a moment free? Do not waste it in idleness! Do not waste it by using it for some impracticable and fatuous castle-building, or for some vain and trivial employment! Use it for the practice of the Jesus Prayer.

The Holy Spirit has superbly described in the Psalter the war and struggle of an athlete of Christ with his own fall and with fallen spirits. The monks of early times learned the Psalter by heart, and they expressed in the words of the Spirit their prayers for their rescue from the pit of the passions, for deliverance from the jaws of the enemy, the devil.

We will be judged according to the Gospel commandments at the judgment established by God for us Orthodox Christians … we will be judged according to the Gospel, that carelessness in fulfilling the Gospel commandments is an active rejection of the Lord Himself.

Serbia and Slobodan Milosevic exonerated.

When many still seems to think that Serbia and Slobodan Milosevic is the bad guys , we must remind that both Serbia and Slobodan Milosevic was exonerated by the UN highest court and ICTY .

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/serbia-exonerated-in-srebrenica-massacre/#

The Exoneration of Milosevic: the ICTY’s Surprise Ruling

 

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has determined that the late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was not responsible for war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

In a stunning ruling, the trial chamber that convicted former Bosnian-Serb president Radovan Karadzic of war crimes and sentenced him to 40 years in prison, unanimously concluded that Slobodan Milosevic was not part of a “joint criminal enterprise” to victimize Muslims and Croats during the Bosnian war.

The March 24th Karadzic judgment states that “the Chamber is not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence presented in this case to find that Slobodan Milosevic agreed with the common plan” to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb claimed territory.[1]

The Karadzic trial chamber found that “the relationship between Milosevic and the Accused had deteriorated beginning in 1992; by 1994, they no longer agreed on a course of action to be taken. Furthermore, beginning as early as March 1992, there was apparent discord between the Accused and Milosevic in meetings with international representatives, during which Milosevic and other Serbian leaders openly criticised Bosnian Serb leaders of committing ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ and the war for their own purposes.”[2]

The judges noted that Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic both favored the preservation of Yugoslavia and that Milosevic was initially supportive, but that their views diverged over time. The judgment states that “from 1990 and into mid-1991, the political objective of the Accused and the Bosnian Serb leadership was to preserve Yugoslavia and to prevent the separation or independence of BiH, which would result in a separation of Bosnian Serbs from Serbia; the Chamber notes that Slobodan Milosevic endorsed this objective and spoke against the independence of BiH.”[3]

The Chamber found that “the declaration of sovereignty by the SRBiH Assembly in the absence of the Bosnian Serb delegates on 15 October 1991, escalated the situation,”[4]but that Milosevic was not on board with the establishment of Republika Srpska in response. The judgment says that “Slobodan Milosevic was attempting to take a more cautious approach”[5]

The judgment states that in intercepted communications with Radovan Karadzic, “Milosevic questioned whether it was wise to use ‘an illegitimate act in response to another illegitimate act’ and questioned the legality of forming a Bosnian Serb Assembly.”[6] The judges also found that “Slobodan Milosevic expressed his reservations about how a Bosnian Serb Assembly could exclude the Muslims who were ‘for Yugoslavia’.”[7]

The judgment notes that in meetings with Serb and Bosnian Serb officials “Slobodan Milosevic stated that ‘[a]ll members of other nations and ethnicities must be protected’ and that ‘[t]he national interest of the Serbs is not discrimination’.”[8] Also that “Milosevic further declared that crime needed to be fought decisively.”[9]

The trial chamber notes that “In private meetings, Milosevic was extremely angry at the Bosnian Serb leadership for rejecting the Vance-Owen Plan and he cursed the Accused.”[10] They also found that “Milosevic tried to reason with the Bosnian Serbs saying that he understood their concerns, but that it was most important to end the war.”[11]

The judgment states that “Milosevic also questioned whether the world would accept that the Bosnian Serbs who represented only one third of the population of BiH would get more than 50% of the territory and he encouraged a political agreement.”[12]

At a meeting of the Supreme Defense Council the judgment says that “Milosevic told the Bosnian Serb leadership that they were not entitled to have more than half the territory in BiH, stating that: ‘there is no way that more than that could belong to us! Because, we represent one third of the population. […] We are not entitled to in excess of half of the territory – you must not snatch away something that belongs to someone else! […] How can you imagine two thirds of the population being crammed into 30% of the territory, while 50% is too little for you?! Is it humane, is it fair?!’”[13]

In other meetings with Serb and Bosnian Serb officials, the judgment notes that Milosevic “declared that the war must end and that the Bosnian Serbs’ biggest mistake was to want a complete defeat of the Bosnian Muslims.”[14] Because of the rift between Milosevic and the Bosnian-Serbs, the judges note that “the FRY reduced its support for the RS and encouraged the Bosnian Serbs to accept peace proposals.”[15]

The Tribunal’s determination that Slobodan Milosevic was not part of a joint criminal enterprise, and that on the contrary he “condemned ethnic cleansing”[16] is of tremendous significance because he got blamed for all of the bloodshed in Bosnia, and harsh economic sanctions were imposed on Serbia as a result. Wrongfully accusing Milosevic ranks right up there with invading Iraq only to find that there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction after all.

Slobodan Milosevic was vilified by the entire western press corps and virtually every politician in every NATO country. They called him “the Butcher of the Balkans.” They compared him to Hitler and accused him of genocide. They demonized him and made him out to be a bloodthirsty monster, and they used that false image to justify not only economic sanctions against Serbia, but also the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia and the Kosovo war.

Slobodan Milosevic had to spend the last five years of his life in prison defending himself and Serbia from bogus war crimes allegations over a war that they now admit he was trying to stop. The most serious charges that Milosevic faced, including the charge of genocide, were all in relation to Bosnia. Now, ten years after his death, they admit that he wasn’t guilty after all – oops.

The ICTY did nothing to publicize the fact that they had cleared Milosevic of involvement in the joint criminal enterprise. They quietly buried that finding 1,303 pages into the 2,590 page Karadzic verdict knowing full well that most people would probably never bother to read it.

The presiding judge in the Radovan Karadzic trial, O-Gon Kwon of South Korea, was also one of the judges in the Slobodan Milosevic trial. Milosevic’s exoneration by the Karadzic trial chamber may be an indication of how the Milosevic chamber would have eventually ruled, at least on the Bosnia charges, if Milosevic had lived to see the conclusion of his own trial.

It’s worth recalling that Slobodan Milosevic died under a very suspicious set of circumstances. He died of a heart attack just two weeks after the Tribunal denied his request to undergo heart surgery in Russia.[17] He was found dead in his cell less than 72 hours after his attorney delivered a letter to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which he said that he feared he was being poisoned.[18]

The Tribunal’s official report on the inquiry into his death confirmed that, “Rifampicin had been found in a blood sample taken from Mr. Milosevic on 12 January 2006.” And that “Mr. Milosevic was not told of the results until 3 March 2006 because of the difficult legal position in which Dr. Falke (the Tribunal’s chief medical officer) found himself by virtue of the Dutch legal provisions concerning medical confidentiality.”[19]

The presence of Rifamicin (a non-prescribed drug) in Milosevic’s blood would have counteracted the high blood pressure medication he was taking and increased his risk of the heart attack that ultimately did kill him. The Tribunal’s admission that they knew about the Rifampicin for months, but didn’t tell Milosevic the results of his own blood test until just days before his death because of “Dutch legal provisions concerning medical confidentiality” is an incredibly lame and disingenuous excuse. There is no provision of Dutch law that prohibits a doctor from telling the patient the results of his own blood test — that would be idiotic. On the contrary, concealing such information from the patient could be seen as malpractice.

This all gives rise to well-founded suspicion that powerful geopolitical interests would rather Milosevic die before the end of his trial than see him acquitted and have their vicious lies exposed. U.S. State Department cables leaked to Wikileaks confirm that The Tribunal did discuss Milosevic’s medical condition and his medical records with U.S. Embassy personnel in The Hague without his consent.[20] They clearly didn’t care about medical confidentiality laws when they were blabbing about his medical records to the American embassy.

It’s an unsatisfying outcome that Milosevic has been quietly vindicated for the most serious crimes that he was accused of some ten years after his death. At a minimum financial compensation should now be paid to his widow and his children, and reparations should be paid to Serbia by the western governments who sought to punish Serbia in order to hold Milosevic “accountable” for crimes that their own Tribunal now admits he wasn’t responsible for, and was in fact trying to stop.

Notes.

[1] ICTY, Karadzic Judgment, 24 March 2016, Para. 3460
http://www.icty.org/x/cases/karadzic/tjug/en/160324_judgement.pdf >

[2] Ibid., Footnote 11027

[3] Ibid., Para. 3276

[4] Ibid., Para. 2709

[5] Ibid., Para. 2710

[6] Ibid., Para. 2685

[7] Ibid., Para. 2687

[8] Ibid., Para. 3288

[9] Ibid., Para. 3284

[10] Ibid., Para. 3289

[11] Ibid., Para. 3295

[12] Ibid., Para. 3290

[13] Ibid., Para. 3297

[14] Ibid., Para. 3293

[15] Ibid., Para. 3292

[16] Ibid., Para. 3280

[17] ICTY Case No. IT-02-54 Prosecutor v. Slobodan Milosevic, Decision on Assigned Counsel Request for Provisional Release, February 23, 2006

[18] Text of Slobodan Milosevic’s Letter to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
http://www.slobodan-milosevic.org/news/sm030806.htm >

[19] Judge Kevin Parker (Vice-President of the ICTY), Report to the President of the ICTY: Death of Slobodan Milosevic, May 2006; ¶ 31, 76
http://www.icty.org/x/cases/slobodan_milosevic/custom2/en/parkerreport.pdf >

[20] U.S. State Dept. Cable #03THEHAGUE2835_a, “ICTY: An Inside Look Into Milosevic’s Health and Support Network”
https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/03THEHAGUE2835_a.html >

This article originally appeared www.slobodan-milosevic.org

https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/01/the-exoneration-of-milosevic-the-ictys-surprise-ruling/

Why are they split the Church ????

First Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople , then Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria, after him Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all Greece . And now we hear rumours that maybe the Bulgarian Patriarch also will recognize the unlawful schismatic Church in Ukraine . What is behind this madness ????

USA , CIA ? as so many times before.

Anyway , you are cowards Patriarchs who violate the canon of the Church.

And you are no longer a part of the Church.

Micke Stensson.