What is Ecumenism?

A DIGEST OF WORDS AND IMAGES THAT EXPLAIN “ECUMENISM”
Ecumenism is a “pan-heresy”

“Ecumenism is a common name for the pseudo-christianities, for the pseudo-churches of Western Europe. Within it is the heart of all European humanisms led by the Papacy. All these pseudo-christianities, all these pseudo-churches are nothing more than one heresy next to the other. Their common name is pan-heresy.” + Saint Justin Popovich

“For nineteen centuries the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church has refused to name various heretical Christian communities as Christian Churches… We do not abandon those abiding in the darkness of heresy and malicious intentions to find rest in their confusions and spiritual darkness, but we remind them of the words of the Lord: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (Jn. 8:32)… Are we not hiding the truth and light of Christ from them? Won’t we, the Orthodox, answer on the day of judgment for constructing this spiritual tower of Babel and concealing the saving Truth of God?”
+ Metropolitan Seraphim of Kythira, “Crete council made questionable decisions”
“The Church must condemn such false shepherds and wolves… even the Apostles did this. 

And in continuation, the Holy Fathers condemned these heresies.” 

— Fr. Theodore Zisis
“Humanistic Christianity is actually the most decisive protest and uprising against the God-Man Christ and all the Evangelical, God-Man values and norms.” + Saint Justin Popović

The Satan-led and fetid pan-heresy of Ecumenism adopts and legitimizes all heresies as “churches” and attacks the uniqueness, exclusivity and dogma of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. A new doctrine of the Church has now grown, is being taught and is imposed by the Ecumenists; a new ecclesiology, according to which no group can claim exclusively the character of “Catholic and true Church”—whether heretics, or even the Orthodox Church. Every heresy, even the Orthodox Church, is only a piece, a part of this new Ecumenist “church,” and not the entire Church. All together these heresies with the Orthodox Church compose the new Ecumenist Church. — Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus

“The thing that has separated us is not the faith.” 

—Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta (GOARCH)
Source: American Orthodox Institute
“That statement trvializes so much that it is absolutely breathtaking. It is also wrong and insulting to believers in both bodies. If we continue to go down the road of cowardice and appeasement, we might as well close up all of our parishes right now and start going to the nearest RCC parish.” — Michael Bauman
“Ecumenism confounds everything. It does not believe that there is Orthodoxy; that there is Truth for which the Saints and Fathers struggled from the time of the Apostles. The Apostles were the first to struggle to preserve the faith, and then after them the Holy Fathers did likewise……Do you see how frightful a thing this is? The Holy Fathers as far back as the era of the Apostles, struggled so manfully… If we look at the New Testament, we will see that the Apostles themselves spoke about false shepherds, of wolves in sheep’s clothing, of heretics even in the New Testament.” — Fr. Theodore Zisis
Whoever is with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew agrees with what he believes. Do you believe in what he believes?
His All-Holiness:

Believes and preaches: “all religions are pathways of salvation.” (the idea of the antichrist ecumenism) This is the biggest insult of all times against Christ. If other religions lead also to salvation, then God’s plan of the incarnation of the Son – His teachings, miracles, crucifixion and resurrection – were futile and in vain! Only a devil could support such things. And yet bishops and priests adore this man!

Believes and preaches that the Quran (and the scriptures of other religions) is “equal to the holy scripture and as sacred” and that Muslims can go to heaven without believing in Christ.

Believes and preaches that many commandments of God are temporary, thus clashing even with the Lord!

Calls “blessed” and honors the synagogue of the Jews, where insulting Christ and the Theotokos are insulted with such insults that it is unthinkable even to name them.

Believes and preaches the basic principle of Freemasonry, that is: “Let each one worship the one God as they prefer…” “God takes pleasure in the peaceful coexistence of humans, especially of those who worship Him regardless of differences existing in faith among the three major monotheistic religions.”

Seeks to repeal or amend a plurality of holy canons, something which for Orthodoxy is a characteristic of a heretic. He calls the canons “walls of shame.”

Believes and preaches—contrary to dozens of Synods and hundreds of Saints—that the Roman “church” is canonical, the mysteries are valid and the Pope is a canonical bishop. In 1995 he co-signed with the Pope a “Common Statement of Faith.”

In 2011 he even catechized students of the Pontifical University in favor of the Pope: The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received a visiting group of students of the Pontifical Institute of Sant Apollinare. Referring to the students told them: “Follow the Pope. Pope Benedict XVI is a great theologian who does good in all the churches. Follow him with love and compassion.”

Prayed with Protestants who distort the teachings of Jesus, insult the Theotokos, despise the holy Mysteries of the Church, and being iconoclasts, they are under the anathema of the 7th Ecumenical Council.

He accepts the baptism of Protestants (Lutherans).

Recognizes the ordinations of the Anglicans.

In November of 1993 he lifted the anathemas between the Orthodox Church and the heresy of the Monophysites. Each side recognized the other as Orthodox. He calls the condemnations and anathemas of the Fourth Ecumenical Council against the Monophysites (which were reiterated by the subsequent Councils) “misunderstandings of the past that have been surpassed” since “there is no theology that divides us”!

He accepted the sacraments of papists and the UNIA…. [1991 at Balamand, Lebanon]

He accepted the joint declaration with the Protestants, [at the Congress of the WCC in 2006 in Porto Alegre] that there is not merely One Church, but that the 348 churches—members of the WCC—are genuine churches. One of them is the Orthodox Church! The various heretical teachings of the Protestants are considered as different ways to express the same faith and as a variety of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thus admitting that in the end there are no heresies!! “These churches are asked to keep pace even when they disagree.”

By believing in all of the above he denies four articles of the Creed.
He is a denier of the Saints and the Fathers.
He said: “Our forefathers who bequeathed to us the breakage (schism) were unlucky victims of the evil serpent and they already lie in the hands of righteous God. We ask God’s mercy on them, but as we stand before him we must rectify their errors”!!!
He is an open enemy of the Saints. But he who blasphemes the Saints is Antichrist.
If we want to follow our Saints, we must ask the condemnation and deposition of Patriarch Bartholomew and all Ecumenist bishops who prey on the flock of our Christ, if they don’t repent.

Nickolas Zotos, Orthodox Truth
September 2, 2016

Translated from Greek by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis

“THE AUTHORITIES ARE TRYING TO DESTROY ORTHODOXY IN GREECE”—MET. AMBROSE OF KALAVRYTA

Photo: newsbomb.gr

Kalavryta, Greece, July 25, 2017

    

Metropolitan Ambrose of Kalavryta has published an open letter on his blog in which he decries the Greek ruling authorities’ animosity towards and attempts to destroy Orthodoxy.
“While we are silent as fish,” he begins, echoing the Akathist to the Theotokos, “everything is vanishing and dying. We are persecuting Christ! The Greeks are being de-Christianized!” the bishop exclaims.
According to the metropolitan, “the people from the ruling SYRIZA party are aiming to overthrow all that is sacred, Christian, and national. They are seeking to uproot the Orthodox and national self-consciousness of the Greeks.” He also stressed that “Day by day, Greece is gradually changing its face and character.”
The participation of the so-called “conservative forces” in the destruction of Greek foundations bears witness to this pursuit. The leader of the largest opposition party “New Democracy” Kyriakos Mitsotakis gave a reception for representatives of the LGBT community in his office, and the party itself was officially represented at the most recent gay pride parade in Thessaloniki.
“The voice of the Church is not heard today; the walls are falling one by one without resistance,” the metropolitan lamented. Under such conditions, hierarchs should not “be silent as fish,” but raise their voices in defense of the Orthodox identity of Greece, Met. Ambrose stressed.
The hierarch has continually spoken out about fidelity to the Orthodox faith and the fate of Greece under its secular government. Referring to the ongoing issue of religious education, in October 2016 he wrote, “It’s obvious that the government is sneering at the Church! They have cynically deceived us! We must understand that for the government the question of religious education is closed: It’s turning into a non-confessional subject where our Savior Christ is equated with Buddha and Mohammed.”
Emphasizing an active resistance, he exclaimed, “I call you to battle for our faith! We will remember the Minister of Education’s words, promising to ‘put an end’ to religious education in the course of the year. Can we really allow this crime to be committed? Now above all—a battle!”
In January of this year, he wrote an open letter to Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, in which he writes that he was disappointed to find that Tsipras had “set himself the goal of destroying the Greek Orthodox Church,” and accuses the government of deliberately leading Greece to catastrophe through destroying its economy, cultural heritage, history, traditions, and Orthodox faith.
The metropolitan has also been outspoken against the outcome of 2016’s Crete Council, and especially of the document “Relations of the Orthodox Church With the Rest of the Christian World,” which many have deemed to be ecumenistic.
7/25/2017

True Orthodoxy

by Archbishop Averky of Jordanville
Few people today know that the Orthodox Church is nothing less than that Church which has preserved untainted the genuine teachings of Jesus Christ, the very teachings delivered to every subsequent generation of believers. These teachings came down the centuries from the Holy Apostles, explicated and carefully interpreted by their legitimate successors (their disciples and the holy Fathers), traditioned and conserved unaltered by our Eastern Church which is alone able to prove her right to be called ‘the Orthodox Church’.
The divine Founder of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ, said clearly, “I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against Her” (Matt. 16:18). To the Church, He sent the Holy Spirit. The Spirit descended upon the Apostles, the Spirit of Truth (John 15:16) Who “manifests all things” to Her and guides Her (John 16:13), protecting Her from error. Indeed, it was to declare this Truth to men that the Lord came into the cosmos, according to His own words (John 18:31). And Saint Paul confirms this fact in his letter to his pupil, the bishop Timothy, saying that, “the Church of the living God is the ground and pillar of the Truth” (I Tim. 3:15).
Because She is “the ground and pillar of the Truth”, “the gates of Hell cannot prevail against Her”. It follows, then, that the true Christian Church – palpably unique since Christ established but one Church – has always existed on earth and will exist to the end of time. She has received the promise of Christ, “I will be with you even unto the end of the age.” Can there be the slightest doubt that the Lord refers here to the Church? Any honest and sane judgment, any act of good conscience, anyone familiar with the history of the Christian Church, the pure and unaltered moral and theological teachings of the Christian religion, must confess that there was but one true Church founded by our Lord, Jesus Christ, and that She has preserved His Truth holy and unchanged. History reveals, moreover, a traceable link of grace from the holy Apostles to their successors and to the holy Fathers. In contrast to what others have done, the Orthodox Church has never introduced novelties into Her teachings in order to “keep up with the times”, to be “progressive”, “not to be left at the side of the road”, or to accommodate current exigencies and fashions which are always suffused with evil. The Church never conforms to the world.
Indeed not, for the Lord has said to his disciples at the Last Supper, “You are not of this world.” We must hold to these words if we are to remain faithful to true Christianity – the true Church of Christ has always been, is and will always be a stranger to this world. Separated from it, she is able to transmit the divine teachings of the Lord unchanged, because that separation has kept Her unchanged, that is, like the immutable God Himself. That which the learned call “conservativism” is a principal and, perhaps, most characteristic index of the true Church.
Since the TRUTH is given to us once and for all, our task is to assimilate rather than to discover it. We are commanded to confirm ourselves and others in the Truth and thereby bring everyone to the true Faith, Orthodoxy.
Unfortunately, there have appeared in the very bosom of the Church, even among the hierarchy, opinions expressed by well-known individuals which are detrimental to Her. The desire to “march with the times” makes them fear that they will not be recognized as ‘cultured’, ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’. These modern apostates to Orthodoxy are ‘ashamed’ to confess that our Orthodox church is precisely the Church which was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Church to which appertains the great promise that “the gates of Hell will not prevail against Her”, and to which He confided the plenum of divine Truth. By their deceit and false humility, by their blasphemy against the Lord, these false shepherds and those with them have been estranged from the true Church. They have given tacit expression to the idea that “the gates of Hell” have “prevailed” against the Church. In other words, these apostates say that our holy Orthodox Church is equally “at fault” for the “division of the churches” and ought now to “repent” her sins and enter into union with other “Christian churches” by means of certain concessions to them, the result being a new, indivisible church of Christ.
This is the ideology of the religious movement which has become so fashionable in our times: “the ecumenical movement” among whose number one may count Orthodox, even our clergy. For a long time, we have heard that they belong to this movement in order “to witness to the peoples of other confessions the truth of holy Orthodoxy”, but it is difficult for us to believe that this statement is anything more than “throwing powder in our eyes”. Their frequent theological declarations in the international press can lead us to no other conclusion than that they are traitors to the holy Truth.
As a matter of historical fact, the “ecumenical movement” – of which the WCC is the supreme organ – is an organization. of purely Protestant origin. Nearly all the Orthodox Churches have joined, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia being the most notable exception. Even those churches behind the “iron curtain” have joined. For some time the Russian Patriarchate resisted, flattering herself with the purity of her Orthodoxy and quite naturally viewing this movement as hostile to Orthodoxy. She has since become a member.
The Russian Synod almost stands alone in her opposition to the “ecumenical movement”. How can we explain her isolation from the rest of “global Orthodoxy”? We must understand the situation in terms of the words that “this must take place” (Luke 21:9), that is, the “great apostasy” clearly predicted by the Lord (II Thess. 2:3-12). “It is permitted by God,” as Ignatius Brianchaninoff said almost a century ago. (Another spiritual father, Theophan the Recluse, announced with grief that the horrendous apostasy would begin within Russia.) Ignatius wrote: 
“We are helpless to arrest this apostasy. Impotent hands will have no power against it and nothing more will be required than the attempt to withhold it. The spirit of the age will reveal the apostasy. Study it, if you wish to avoid it, if you wish to escape this age and the temptation of its spirits. One can suppose, too, that the institution of the Church which has been tottering for so long will fall terribly and suddenly. Indeed, no one is able to stop or prevent it. The present means to sustain the institutional Church are borrowed from the elements of the world, things inimical to the Church, and the consequence will be only to accelerate its fall. Nevertheless, the Lord protects the elect and their limited number will be filled.”
The Enemy of humanity makes every effort and uses all means to confound it. Aid comes to him through the total co-operation of all the secret and invisible heterodox, especially those priests and bishops who betray their high calling and oath, the true faith and the true Church.
Repudiation of and preservation from the apostasy which has made such enormous progress demands that we stand apart from the spirit of the age (which bears the seeds of its own destruction). If we expect to withstand the world, it is first necessary to understand it and keep sensitively in mind that in this present age all that which carries the most holy and dear name of Orthodoxy is not in fact Orthodox. Rather, it is often “a fraudulent and usurped Orthodoxy” which we must fear and eschew as if it were fire. Unlike this spurious faith, true Orthodoxy was given and must be received without novelty and nothing must be accepted as a teaching or practice of the Church which is contrary to the Holy Scriptures and the dogma of the Universal Church. True Orthodoxy thinks only to serve God and to save souls and is not preoccupied with the secular and ephemeral welfare of men. True Orthodoxy is spiritual and not physical or psychological or earthly. In order to protect ourselves from “the spirit of the age” and preserve our fidelity to the true Orthodoxy, we ought firstly and with all our strength live blamelessly: A total and rigorous commitment to Christ, without deviation from the commandments of God or the laws of His holy Church. At the same time, we must have no common prayer or spiritual liaison with the modern apostasy or with anything which ‘soils’ our holy Faith, even those dissidents who call themselves “Orthodox”. They will go their way and we will go ours. We must be honorable and tenacious, following the right way, never deviating in order to please men or from fear that we might lose some personal advantage.
The sure path to perdition is indifference and the lack of principles which is euphemistically called ‘the larger view’. In opposition to this ‘larger view’ we put the ‘rigor of ideas’ which, in modernity, it is fashionable to label ‘narrow’ and ‘fanatical’. To be sure, if one adopts the ‘modern mentality’, one must consider the holy martyrs – whose blood is “the cement of the Church” – and the Church Fathers – who struggled all their lives against heretics – as nothing less than ‘narrow’ and ‘fanatical’. In truth, there is little difference between ‘the broad way’ against which the Lord warned and the modern ‘larger view’. He condemned the ‘broad way’ as the way to ‘gehenna’.
Of course, the idea of “gehenna” holds no fear for those ‘liberals’ and avant-garde theologians. They may smugly ‘theologize’ about it, but in rashly and wantonly discussing “the new ways of Orthodox theology” and acquiring a number of disciples, they give evidence that they no longer believe in the existence of Hell. This new breed of ‘Orthodox’ are really no more than modem ‘scholastics’.
In other words, the way of these ‘progressivists’ is not our way. Their way is deceptive, and it is unfortunate that it is not evident to everyone. The ‘broader’ or ‘larger view’ alienates us from the Lord and His true Church. It is the road away from Orthodoxy. This view is sinister, maliciously invented by the Devil in order to deny us salvation. For us, however, we accept no innovations, but choose the ancient, proven way, the way in which true Christians have chosen to serve God for 2,000 years.
We choose the way of fidelity to the true Faith and not the ‘modern way’. We choose faithfulness to the true Church with all Her canons and dogmas which have been received and confirmed by the local and universal Councils. We choose the holy customs and traditions, the spiritual riches of that faith transmitted complete and entire to us from the Holy Apostles, the Holy Fathers of the Church, and the Christian heritage of our venerable ancestors. This alone is the faith of the true Orthodox, distinct from the counterfeit “orthodoxy” invented by the Adversary. We receive only the Apostolic Faith, the Faith of the Fathers, the Orthodox Faith.
SJKP.org #2268

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

  THE MIND OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH. chapter 1

 
© Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Introduction

Origin and revelation of the Church

Etymology of the word “Church”

Origin and revelation of the Church

The beginning of the Church

The Church in the Old Testament

The Church in the New Testament

The perpetuity of the Church

Conclusions

 
 

INTRODUCTION
All the Christians, Clerical and lay, have often become aware that if there is a burning topic and a great contemporary need, it is the need to acquire the mind of the Church. Our mind should be permeated by the mind of the Church. Our thought, life, mode of living, our desire, our will should be altered by the good alteration effected by the life of the Church.
The Apostle Paul urges: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2. 5). But since the Church is not a human organisation, but the holy and blessed Body of Christ, therefore we too are commanded to think with the catholic mind of the Church and be animated by the life of the Church, not to do anything apart from its life and teaching.
This is connected with two facts. One, that there are many Christians today who do not have the mind of the Church, that is to say, their mind is on “earthly things” (Phil. 3,19). Their mind is estranged from the mind of the Church, it is simply worldly. Their life is not in tune with the mind of the Church. The other fact is that acquiring the mind of the Church is related to the “making” of a man, which is connected with his deification. In so far as the man has an unclean and darkened nous, he is an infant and a baby. To the extent that he grows in illumination of his nous, he also is made a man, which means that he is “Christified” and “made Church”.
In this perspective we can look at the Apostle Paul’s words: ” When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13, 11). If this passage is associated with what the Apostle said before and after it – where he was speaking of the “perfect” in relation to what is “in part” and about seeing God “face to face” in relation to “seeing in a mirror dimly” – then we can understand that the mind of the Church is connected with man’s spiritual fulfilment, which consists in partaking of the purifying, illuminating and deifying energy of God.
A great deal is being said today about acquiring the mind of the Church. Sometimes, however, we do not know just what the mind of the Church is. We identify it with a blind obedience to some general laws or else we connect it with outward things. We usually think that it is the mind of the Church when the others accept us. But if they dare to cast doubt on our actions, we consider that they lack the mind of the Church. Thus we divide people as being of the Church or not, by external things and by characteristics which we construct according to our passions.
I shall try to study this topic within the Tradition of the Church. The chapters which follow and which are homilies that I gave to the Catechists of the Holy Archbishopric of Athens in the “Seminar” for further training of catechists in 1989-1990, as Director of Youth of the Archbishopric of Athens, with the blessing of his grace the Ever memorable Seraphim, Lord Archbishop of Athens and All Greece. I do not think that they fully cover the subject, which is so crucial and serious, but they emphasise some aspects essential for the diagnosis of the mind of the Church, and they raise questions. An analysis had to be made as to what the Church is, in order for us to see the real dimensions of the mind of the Church. Some repetitions were necessary, because the mystery of the Church is single and cannot be split into absolutely water-tight compartments.
May the circulation of this new book stimulate us to experience the mind of the Church. It is the greatest pastoral necessity today. However, it will not be the result of a mental exercise, but a fruit of our spiritual rebirth from a deified spiritual father, since the Church is not an object of study, but a reality which we live, our mother which nourishes us and fills us with life.
Written on the Friday 

of the Akathist hymn

30 March, l990,

the day of remembrance of

our holy Father John of Sinai.

Archimandrite Hierotheos S. Vlachos
 
 
 
 

I. Origin and revelation of the Church
Through the centuries there have appeared many heretical teachings which distorted the revealed truth, and which the holy Fathers confronted “with the slingstone of the Spirit”, that is to say, by the power of the Holy Spirit. And this is so because the holy Fathers were the bearers of the pure Tradition of the Church.
Among these heresies are those of Arianism, the pneumatomachs who fought against the spirit, the Nestorians, the monophysites, the monothelites, the iconoclasts, etc. All these heresies refer chiefly to the Person of Christ, but also to that of the Holy Spirit, and of course they disturb the foundations of man’s salvation. For if Christ is not consubstantial with the Father, but is God’s first creature, and if the Holy Spirit is not true God, man’s salvation is put in doubt, the possibility of deification is cut off.
Later, during the fourteenth century yet another heresy appeared, which was expressed by Barlaam and based on rationalism. If Barlaam’s heretical teaching had prevailed, the method of the Orthodox way towards deification, which is hesychasm, would in fact have ended in agnosticism.
The question being asked is whether there are heresies today as well. The answer is not hard to find, because all of us are being made witnesses of the fact that there are indeed heretics now, descendants of the great heretics, and there are heretical teachings being expressed, perhaps not deliberately, by some who believe, among other things, that they are really members of the Church of Christ. And indeed all of us in our ignorance and lack of learning, may have some erroneous views about God and the way of salvation, but we must struggle never to become heresiarchs or descendants of the great heretics who have appeared in the history of the Church.
Besides, all the heretics were members of the Church for a time, even Clergy, and were active in it. The Apostle Paul’s prophecy applies here: “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20,30).
All the heresies distort the ecclesiology as well. Since the Church is the Body of Christ, every alteration in the teaching about Christ, about the Holy Spirit, about the way to man’s salvation also has ecclesiological consequences.
It can be said that if there is a great heresy today, it is the so-called ecclesiological heresy. And this should be confronted by the Pastors of the Church. There is great confusion today about what the Church is and who are its true members. We confuse or identify the Church with other human Traditions, we think that the Church is fragmented and split up, and furthermore, we are ignorant of the Church’s way of salvation. Thus it is in confusion about this great theme.
In the chapters to follow we shall attempt to examine the subject of the Church from different angles, and we shall try to see what the holy Fathers say about the Church. I think that this will help us to acquire the genuine mind of the Orthodox Church, which is essential for our salvation.
 
 
 
 

1. Etymology of the word “Ekklesia” (Church)
But before I proceed to elaborate the subject of the “origin and revelation of the Church”, I would like us to take a look at the etymology of the word “Ekklesia”, because it will help us to understand better what is going to be said further on.
The word `Ekklesia’ derives from the verb meaning `to call out’ `call’, `call together’, `gather together’. Thus `Church’ means a gathering of people, a congregation.
We can also find the word in this meaning in ancient Greece with reference, for example, to the `ekklesia’ of a municipality, a gathering of the citizens to discuss various concerns which they had.
Also in holy Scripture, in both the Old and New Testaments, there is repeated reference to the `Ekklesia’ as an assembly. The phrases `ekklesia of saints’, `ekklesia of laity’ etc. , are often used in the Old Testament. But in the New Testament we also have abundant use of the word with a deeper content, since through the incarnation of Christ the Church is not a gathering of people, but the Body of Christ. Thus it acquires a deeper meaning. I would like to cite a few examples.
Christ said to the Apostle Peter, who confessed His divinity: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16,18). The rock (`petra’) on which the Church is supported is the confession that Christ is the Son of God. The Apostle Paul repeatedly speaks of the Church as the Body of Christ. This passage from the letter to the Ephesians is characteristic: “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all” (Eph. 1, 22-23). The members, the Christians who make up the membership of a concrete eucharistic community, are also characterised as the Church. The Church possesses the whole truth, because the whole revelation of God has been given to it. The Apostle Paul says: “Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3, 15).
The word `Church’ is also used in these meanings in the teaching of the holy Fathers and in the Worship. According to St. Kyril of Jerusalem, it is called the Church “because it calls forth and assembles together all men”. And St. John Chrysostom says characteristically “in the multitude of the faithful, the Church”. On another subject I shall be developing further what the multitude of the faithful means. In any case I must call to mind here the teaching of St. John Chrysostom that the Church is not a wall and a roof, but living and life.
The Church is presented in many liturgical texts as a gathering, and especially as a eucharistic place, because the Eucharist is the deepest expression of the Church. I would like us to look at a characteristic passage from the Liturgy of the apostolic era as it has been preserved in the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. At the end of the Eucharist when the Celebrant of the eucharistic gathering took the bread into his hands, he prayed: “We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which Thou gavest us through Thy Son Jesus”. And then he spoke an amazing prayer “Just as this fraction was scattered over the granaries and, gathered together, became one, so may Thy Church be gathered from the ends of the earth into thy kingdom”. The bringing together of many grains of wheat and the preparation of the bread is an image pointing to the gathering of all the faithful into the Kingdom of God.
Among the expressions which are to be found in the liturgical texts and show exactly what the Church is, there is also the expression that the Church is “a holy people” or “communion of saints”. The people of God is not only the Clergy or only the laity, but the unity of Clergy, monks and laity, and this unity is in Christ. `In Christ’ means that members of the Church are all those who are united with Christ, all who are actually members of the Body of Christ through the sacramental and ascetic life, all who are baptised and confirmed in the faith, according to the teaching of St. Symeon the New Theologian.
This unity is shown clearly on the holy paten. In the middle there is the lamb of God, Christ Himself, on His right the portion of the Theotokos and on his left the portions of the saints, and in front the Bishop of the local Church with the living and those who lie asleep whom the priest mentions during the proskomidi. St. Symeon of Thessaloniki, speaking of the holy paten, says: “God among gods who are deified by Him Who is God by nature”. Christ is God by nature and the saints are deified by grace through Him Who is God by nature. The assembly of the faithful is expressed once more during the Sacrament of the divine Eucharist.
I shall not concern myself further with this point here, because the subject of who are the true members of the Church will concern us in other sections and other chapters.
 
 
 
 
2. Origin and revelation of the Church
Many of us have the notion that the Church was created on the day of Pentecost, that is to say, when the Holy Spirit descended into the hearts of the Apostles. And of course we could say that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church from the point of view that it was then that the Church became the Body of Christ. It acquired substance. However, the beginning and existence of the Church is to be found in the time before Pentecost.
Professor John Karmiris states that there are three phases in the emergence of the Church. The first is the creation of the angels and men, the second is the life of Adam in Paradise, but also the period of the Old Testament, and the third phase of the Church is the incarnation of Christ. Indeed the full revelation of the Church will take place at the Second Coming of Christ
Let us look more analytically at these periods of the Church, for then in some way we can grasp the mystery of the Church and gain a deeper awareness of our being and scope.
 
 
 
 

a) The beginning of the Church
It is a teaching of the holy Fathers that with the creation of the angels we have the emergence of the first Church. And it can be seen in the writings of the Fathers of the Church that the angels too are members of the Church. Moreover, God the Father is the creator of “all things visible and invisible”. Among the invisible are listed the angels, who sing in praise of God. In the book of Job this witness is preserved: “when the stars were born all the angels in a loud voice sang in praise of me” (Job 38,7). Thus, before the creation of the sensible world there were angels, who sang in praise of God for the creation. And, to be sure, this means that the angels were the first to be created by God.
The fact that the angels are members of the Church, since they sing in praise of God, appears in many troparia. I would like to mention one of these: “By Thy Cross, O Christ, one flock came into being, of angels and men, and one Church: heaven and earth rejoice; O Lord, glory to Thee”. Angels and men belong to the same Flock, to the same Church after the incarnation of Christ. But this means that this unity also existed in the life before the fall. In the teaching of the holy Fathers it is clear that the `last things’ are like the first and like those in between, because we cannot speak of eschatology apart from the life of man before the fall and apart from the deification of the saints already even before the Second Coming of Christ. Besides, according to the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas and other saints, the vision of the uncreated Light is the substance of the good things to come, this very Kingdom of God.
In Holy Scripture it is taught repeatedly that the angels constitute the first church. The Apostle Paul writing to the Hebrews says: “You have come to Mount Zion to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly” (Heb. 12,22-23).
Thus the first Church, of which the angels were members, was spiritual. Clement of Rome says that the Church “from above, first, created spiritual before the sun and moon, and being spiritual, it was made manifest in the flesh of Christ”. And St. John Chrysostom, urging silence during the services in the Temple, said with his characteristic expressiveness: “For the Church is not a barber’s shop nor a perfume shop nor any other workshop in the markets, but a place of angels, a place of archangels, Kingdom of God, heaven itself”. Chrysostom says further that the Christian should have in mind that in the Church, especially during divine Worship, there is a “choir of angels”.
The angels are members of the Church because they too are created by God. Everything created is a creature, since it has a beginning. The angels not only were created by God, but they have also been perfected by the power and energy of the Holy Spirit. Therefore St. John of Damaskos writes: “All the angels were created by the Word and were perfected by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, taking part according to the standing and rank of their illumination and grace”.
This view that the angels are members of the Church is very moving. It is a witness of the saints, because many of them, like St. Spiridon, saw angels worshipping with them during the Divine Liturgy. And this offers another dimension to the spiritual life.
The first Church was completed with the creation of man, Adam and Eve, and their being placed in Paradise. So it is that men sang praises to the glory of God with the angels.
 
 
 
 

b) The Church in the Old Testament
Adam and Eve lived an angelic life in Paradise. They were in the state of illumination of the nous, which is the first degree of the vision of God. They had communion with God.
According to the teaching of the holy Fathers, Paradise was tangible and intelligible. This is said by St. Gregory the Theologian and is repeated by St. John of Damaskos. The tangible Paradise was a particular place, and the intelligible Paradise was the communion and union of man with God. And of course the two Paradises interpenetrated, in the sense that the Paradise of Eden was receiving God’s uncreated energy.
St. Gregory of Sinai gives us an interpretation of Paradise, which was the second period of the Church. He writes that Paradise was twofold, “tangible and intelligible, namely that in Eden and that of grace”. About the Paradise of Eden he says that it was not completely incorruptible nor completely corruptible, but it had been created “between corruption and incorruption”. The trees that were in Paradise had their natural cycle of flower-bearing, fruit-bearing and the falling of the fruits. When the ripe fruits fell to the ground, and when the trees decayed “they became fragrant dust and did not have a stench like the plants of the world”. There was the natural recycling in the trees and plants, but since Adam had not yet lost the grace of God and therefore the deep darkness had not fallen on the whole creation, there was no decay, a stench did not prevail. There was the whole cycle, but not also decay and stench. And this was so, as St. Gregory of Sinai says, “because of the great wealth and holiness of the ever-abounding grace there”.
Through Adam’s fall, man’s communion with God, with himself, and with the whole creation was broken. Thus man was wearing the garments of the skin of decay and mortality, and of course the whole creation fell into darkness, and “has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Rom. 8,22).
However, in spite of Adam’s fall, the Church does not disappear completely. Man struggles to restore his communion with God and attempts it through various forms of religion, because he has lost the true mindfulness and real knowledge of God.
In the Old Testament there were righteous men, like the Judges, Prophets and saints, who were blessed with divine revelation and vision. They saw God. And since the vision of God in the teaching of the Fathers of the Church is identified with deification and man’s communion with God, we say that in the Old Testament the small remnant is preserved, the Church exists.
In what follows I would like to cite some patristic passages which clarify this truth.
We know from the teaching of the saints that all the manifestations of God in the Old Testament are manifestations of the Word, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The difference between the manifestations in the Old and New Testaments is that in the former we have manifestations of the unincarnate Word, while in the New Testament we have manifestations of the incarnate Word.
Speaking on this theme, St. Gregory the Theologian, in his homily on the Maccabees, says that the saints in the Old Testament knew Christ, and calls this saying mysterious and ineffable. He says that before the incarnation of Christ no one was perfected without faith in Christ. “For the Word spoke boldly later in His own times, but He was also known before to the pure in mind, as is clear from many held in honour before that”. And indeed he says of the Maccabees that we should not scorn them with the justification that they lived and acted before the cross, “but that they should be praised in accordance with the cross and are worthy of honour by their words”. The righteous men in the Old Testament acted according to the teaching of the cross and, essentially, they experienced the mystery of the Cross.
St. John Chrysostom, referring to the righteous men of the Old Testament, says that they too belong to the Body of Christ, because “they too knew Christ”. Besides, by His incarnation Christ, as Chrysostom says again, “assumed flesh of the Church”. The Body of Christ is one and the Church is one. Chrysostom asks: “What is one body?” And he himself answers characteristically: “The faithful of the world everywhere, those who are, those who have been and those who will be. And again, those who were well pleasing to God before Christ’s appearance are one body”. Moreover, both the Old and New Testaments are inspired by the same Spirit. Therefore the holy Father says again: “The Old and New Testaments are of the same spirit, and the same Spirit that uttered the voice then has spoken here”. And this is seen from the fact that the holy Fathers interpreted the Old Testament, just as they also interpreted the New Testament, they spoke about dogmatic topics with arguments from the Old Testament as well as Old Testament persons whom they presented as examples of perfection. A characteristic example is St. Gregory of Nyssa, who, in order to present an example of a perfect spiritual man, analysed the person and work of Moses. The life of Moses is a model of the spiritual life for every Christian.
But also the champion of Orthodoxy, Athanasios the Great, presents a teaching of the same kind. He writes that the Holy Spirit is one Who, both then, that is, in the Old Testament, and now, sanctifies and comforts those receptive to being comforted. “As one and the very Logos Son Himself leading the worthy ones into adoption even then. For they were sons also in the Old Testament, but if adopted by the Son, not by another”.
Thus there was a Church in the Old Testament as well, in spite of the fall of man. Members of this Church were the righteous and the Prophets, who had the grace of God. This is confirmed by the sacramental practice of the Church. All the sacraments which we perform in the Christian Church have reference to the Sacraments and rites of the Old Testament. We can take the Sacrament of marriage as an example. During the this ceremony, in the prayers which we address to God, we ask Him to bless the couple, as He blessed Abraham and Sarah, Jakob and Rebecca, etc. Then the words “bless them, our Lord God as Thou didst bless Abraham and Sarah” show that the blessing is the same. We observe this in all the sacraments. Actually there is one difference which we shall see in the next section, about the third period of the Church, that of the incarnation of Christ. In any case, here it is to be noted that the Church exists also in the Old Testament.
 
 
 
 

c) The Church in the New Testament
With the incarnation of Christ we have the manifestation of the Church. The Church becomes the Body of Christ and acquires its Head, Who is Christ. Let us recall the passage in Clement of Rome which we mentioned before, according to which the Church was “first created spiritual from above, before the sun and moon, and being spiritual, was manifested in the flesh of Christ”. And St. Maximos the Confessor says characteristically: “the mystery hidden from the ages and from the generations, was now made manifest by the true and perfect incarnation of the son of God, who united our nature to Himself inseparably and unconfusedly”.
By the incarnation of Christ the human nature which Christ assumed was made divine, and through this the Christians, the members of the Church, are full members of the Body of Christ.
Here too we find the difference between the New and Old Testaments. At this point there needs to be an explanation, so that we can place things in their true dimensions.
We said before that in the Old Testament the holy Prophets attained deification. For according to the teaching of the holy Fathers, and of St. Gregory Palamas as well, the vision of God, which is the vision of the uncreated Light, comes through man’s deification. The man is deified and thus made worthy of seeing the uncreated glory of God. Man cannot see God by his own powers. In the Church we sing: “in Thy light shall we see light”. Thus the vision of God comes from within, not from outside, that is to say it takes place through man’s deification. It is not a matter of seeing external things and signs. This is a crucial point in patristic theology. In this sense the holy Fathers speak of the friends of the Cross who existed in the Old Testament, and say that the righteous ones of the Old Testament, such as Abraham, Moses, etc. , experienced the mystery of the Cross.
However, this deification of the Prophets was temporary, because death had not yet been abolished, and that is why they were brought to Hades and the vision was outside the Body of the divine human Christ. This is seen in the difference between the experience of the Apostles at the Transfiguration of Christ and the experience which they themselves had on the day of Pentecost.
At the Transfiguration the Disciples saw the uncreated glory of the Holy Trinity in the human nature of the Logos. In order for them to attain this great experience, they had to have been
transfigured beforehand: “they were changed in turn, and they saw the change”. This change of the Disciples is identical with deification. Through deification they attained the vision of God, and therefore in the patristic teaching the vision of God is connected with men’s deification. However, although the vision of the uncreated glory of God came from within, that is to say, through deification, nevertheless the Light which poured forth from the Divine human Body of Christ was external to the holy Apostles, since they had not yet become members of the Body of Christ.
At Pentecost we have this great gift. The Disciples saw the glory of God inwardly, that is to say through deification, but also from within the Divine-human Body of Christ, since with the coming of the Holy Spirit they had become members of the Body of Christ. At Pentecost the Body of Christ was not external to the Apostles, as it was at the Transfiguration, but internal, in the sense that the Disciples had become members of the Body of Christ and as members of the Body of Christ they were worthy of this experience.
With the incarnation of Christ the Church became a Body. The Sacraments of the New Testament are different in this way from the Sacraments of the Old Testament. They are performed within the Church, which is the Body of Christ, and they have reference to and conclude in the Sacrament of the divine Eucharist, in which we eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ. Through the Sacrament of marriage God’s blessing is offered, as in the Old Testament, but at the same time it is linked with the Sacrament of the Divine Eucharist as well, and thus the relationship of the couple is not only a biological unity, but also an ecclesiastical, eucharistic unity. This has great significance and gives a different perspective and a different authentication to the Sacraments.
 
 
 
 

d) The perpetuity of the Church
By his incarnation Christ assumed human nature, and indeed human nature was united with the divine nature immutably, without confusion, inseparably, unchangeably and indivisibly. They are never separated. They remain united forever.
Thus the Church will exist also after the Second Coming of Christ and we shall be able to speak of the perfect manifestation of the Church. This is said from the point of view that the saints are already tasting the last things, because, as we said in the beginning, the last things in the Church are not isolated from the first and intermediate things. Living in the Church, we reach the state of Adam in Paradise before the fall, and we ascend still higher, because we attain communion and unity with Christ, united in His Divine-human Body, having become members of His Body.
The saints from now on are enjoying the glory of God, and therefore St. Symeon the New Theologian says that those who have been granted the vision of the uncreated Light are not waiting for the Second Coming, because they are already experiencing the Kingdom of God.
Besides, the Kingdom of God is not something created, nor is it an earthly reality, but, as St. Gregory Palamas teaches, participation in the Kingdom of God is identified and linked with the vision of the uncreated Light.
However, there will be a continuous perfecting of this participation in the glory of God. This is important, because if the future life is a stationary condition, then it will not have fullness. St. Gregory of Sinai says characteristically: “It is said that in the age to come, the Angels and saints ever increase in gifts of grace and never abate their longing for further blessings. No lapse or veering from virtue to vice takes place in that life”.
And St. Gregory Palamas, referring to this point, speaks of the continual development in deification, in man’s continual perfecting. Asking: “Do not the saints progress infinitely in the vision of God in the age to come?” He gives the answer himself: “In everything it is clearly to infinity”. Indeed he makes use of the case of the Angels who, according to the teaching of St. Dionysios the Areopagite, become increasingly receptive “to the clearest illumination”. God is infinite and therefore grants His grace abundantly and plentifully. St. Gregory Palamas asks: “What way is left but for the sons of the age to come, to advance in this to infinity, admitted from grace to grace and patiently making the tireless ascent?” This will be because, according to the same saint. “the previous grace empowers them to partake of greater things”.
Of course, in saying these things, we must emphasise that it is not a matter of the restoration of all things, a teaching which was not adopted by the Church, but of the development and perfection of the saints, those who during their lives partook of the purifying, illuminating and deifying energy of God. For those men who did not participate even in the purifying grace of God, that is to say, did not enter the stage of repentance, this good development will not take effect. Furthermore, the passages which we mentioned speak of the saints who acquired the grace of God, and therefore in them the previous grace is empowering towards participation in greater things. Therefore the memorial services which the Church performs for those who have died also have this aim. They help the person in his perfecting, because, according to the teaching of the saints, “this is the perfect unending perfection of the perfect ones”.
In this sense we can say that after the Second Coming of Christ we shall have a more complete manifestation of the glory of God. And it is in this perspective that we should interpret the teaching of the saints that now we have as a pledge a taste of the good things of the Kingdom of God.
 
 
 
 

3. Conclusion
After all that has been reported we must end with a few conclusions, without, of course, having exhausted this great theme.
a) Only in Christ is there salvation. Since the saints of the Old Testament saw the unincarnate Word and the saints of the New Testament saw and see the incarnate Word and have close communion with Him, this means that man’s salvation takes place only through Christ. And of course since Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity and salvation is a common action of the Trinitarian God, it means that we are saved when we have communion with the Holy Trinity, when the grace of the Trinitarian God enters our being, when “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit” are with us.
b) The Church is not a human organisation, but a Divine-Human Organism. It is not a human corporation, but the Divine-human Body of Christ. The source of the Church is this God Himself. It is not men’s invention, it is not a fruit and result of men’s social need, but it is the sole place of man’s salvation. That is to say, the impression is created that men made the Church in order to be able to survive in such difficult and tragic social conditions of life. But, as we explained before, the source of the Church is God Himself, and man’s salvation takes place within it. Clement of Alexandria observes: “for just as it is a work of his will and is called the world, so also the salvation of men is his will and this is called the church”. And this means that the Church will never cease to exist, in spite of such difficult and unfavourable circumstances.
c) In the Church all the problems are solved. We are not speaking of an abstract Christianity which we link with an ideology, but of a Church which is a communion of God and man, of angels and men, of earthly and heavenly, of man and world. The Church is “a meeting of heaven and earth”. Peace, justice, etc. , are not simply some social conventions, but gifts which are given in the Church. Peace as well as justice and all the other virtues, such as love etc. are experiences of the Church. In the Church we experience the real peace, justice and love, which are essential energies of God.
d) The Church is the Body of Christ, which has Christ as its head, and the members of the Church are members of the Body of Christ. Members of the Church exist in all the ages and will exist until the end of all time. And when members of the Church cease to exist, the end of the world will come. Thus we are living with many people. The people of God manifest the true communion. As we said at the beginning, on the paten during the Liturgy there are many people. They are the Panagia, the Angels, the Prophets, the holy Fathers, the great martyrs, and, in general, the witnesses of the faith, the saints and ascetics, the living and the dead who have a share in the purifying, illuminating and deifying uncreated energy of God. We are not alone. We are not “foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household” (Eph. 2,19).
The greatest gift of grace which we have is that we belong to the Church. The greatest gift is that we are in this great Family. We should value this gift, we should feel very deeply moved and struggle to remain in the Church, experiencing its sanctifying grace and showing by our lives that we are in its place of redemption and sanctification. Thus we shall also have the great gift of the “blessed ending”, when we are granted to lie asleep “in the midst of the Church”.
 
THE MIND OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

On track of St Anthony

When Abba Anthony thought about the depth of the judgements of God, he asked, ‘Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?’ He heard a voice answering him, ‘Anthony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgement of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.’

St Anthony the Great

Intervention and Text in the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece (November 2016) regarding the Cretan CouncilMetropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and St. Vlassios


Tuesday, 20 December 2016 (original in Greek) ORTHODOX ETHOS Fr Peter Heers .
In the last meeting of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece (23-24 November 2016), Metropolitan Theologos of Serres, read his presentation, titled “Briefing on the works of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church” and then followed a long debate on the content of the presentation and some decisions were taken.
The presentation had three main points, first the Conciliar Constitution of the Church and the preparation of the Holy and Great Council, secondly the contribution of our Church in the preparation and formulation of its texts over the time, and thirdly proposals for further actions. In reality, the presentation aimed at informing the members of the Hierarchy on the Council of Crete and on the decisions that had to be taken by our Hierarchy.
During the meetings I made two oral interventions and submitted a text to be included in the Minutes which further analyzed my views.
In what follows I will publish my main oral intervention made on the first day of the Council and the text submitted for the Minutes of the Holy Synod of the Hierarchy.
* * *
A
Intervention at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops of the Church of Greece, 23-24 November 2016
I listened carefully to the presentation of the Metropolitan Theologos of Serres and Nigrita and I thank him for his effort, for the confession he gave at the beginning and for his proposals.

With what I will argue below I will make a few extensions on this presentation. I have written a text that I will submit to the Minutes, whilst necessarily I will highlight a few points briefly on the critical 6th text titled “The Orthodox Church and the rest of the Christian world.”
1. Preparation for this Council was not adequate. The Hierarchy was not aware of the text drawn up by the 5th Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference. We received it after it had been signed by the Primates in January 2016. A discussion ought to have taken place in the Hierarchy, before the text was signed by the Primates.
Also, our representatives in the 5th Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference informed the Standing Holy Synod that the final text entitled “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world”, “expresses perfectly the pan-Orthodox position on specific issues in a balanced way and within the Orthodox ecclesiology, as described and held by the patristic and conciliar tradition of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
However, these confirmations are incorrect because the text, as many others have pointed out, was problematic and for this reason it was corrected.
2. The Council which convened in Crete, as I have repeatedly emphasized, was a Council of the Primates with their escorts.
In observing the whole work of the Council of Crete I note that there are positive points, which were reported in the presentation, and I have highlighted them in my published text. We have to emphasize this. The first five texts are generally good, they have some deficiencies, so I had to express my written reservations on two occasions. I signed two of the five documents with expressed reservations as to the concept of person and the ecclesiological consequences of mixed marriages.
3. The text which constituted the basis of the Council was the sixth, titled “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world.” The final text has many problems, despite some generally good formulations. When the Minutes of the Council are published, where the true views of those who decided on and signed the text are recorded, then it will be clear that the Council was dominated by the branch theory, baptismal theology and especially the principle of inclusiveness, i.e. a retreat from the principle of exclusivity to the principle of inclusiveness.
This sixth text was not ripe for decision and signing, and for this reason we suggested various corrections, but these were not accepted. I have pointed them in one of my texts, which have I sent to all members of the Hierarchy. It is characteristic that the text was corrected in the four languages even after the termination of the Council.
In any case, one notes contradictory points in the final text. In my opinion it is a diplomatic text, not a theological one. But the unity of the Church is not based on diplomatic documents, as history has proved in the “Ekthesis” of Heraclius and the “Typos” of Constans.
Then, during the works of the Council in Crete various distortions of the truth were said regarding St. Mark of Ephesus, the Council of 1484 and the Synodical text of the Patriarchs of the East of 1848, in relation to the word “Church” applying to Christians cut off from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
4. In the sixth paragraph of the sixth text, a new proposal submitted by our Church was accepted by the other Churches present.
Specifically, the decision of the Hierarchy was: “The Orthodox Church knows the historical existence of other Christian Confessions and Communities, that are not in communion with her.”

Following a reaction from other churches, our Church offered a new proposal: “The Orthodox Church accepts the historical name of other heterodox Christian churches and confessions that are not in communion with her”.
To start with, we did not have the authorization of the Hierarchy to negotiate its decisions, as was said by many of the Hierarchs that were present.

Then, there was no discussion in order to accept this change, merely a vote and moreover with haste. Other proposals could have been adopted such as “rest of the Christian world”, “non-Orthodox”, “outsiders”, etc.
Furthermore, with this new proposal, some of the changes made are problematic in my opinion, namely:
The phrase “The Orthodox Church knows” was replaced with the phrase “The Orthodox Church accepts”.
The phrase “the historical existence” was replaced by the phrase “the historical name”. There is no name without existence, because otherwise an ecclesiological nominalism is expressed. Then, why not also accept the name Macedonia for the State of Skopje because it has prevailed for many years.
The phrase “Christian Communities and Confessions” was replaced by the phrase “heterodox Christian Churches and Confessions” [in the Greek language text]. The word “heterodox” in relation with the Orthodox Church means heretics. Therefore, attaching the adjective “heterodox” to the Church indicates an inconsistency.
The words of St. Mark of Ephesus are characteristic: “Church matters have never been corrected by the mean, the middle position. There is no middle position between truth and falsehood”.
It must also be noted that the term Church is not descriptive nor an image; it rather indicates the actual body of Christ, according to the teaching of the Apostle Paul “and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph. 1, 22-23). This means that the Church is identified with the God-human Body of Christ and because the head is one, Christ, and the body of Christ is one, so “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. d, 4-6).
Thus, this new proposal is in no way aligned “to the spirit of the Hierarchy,” as written in the Bulletin Press of that day (25-6-2016); it is rather a diplomatic proposal.
5. But what is most important in this case is that the new proposal, while prima facie it seems harmless, is anti-Orthodox. To support this view I will highlight two theological comments.
The first comment is that the view that a church can be characterized as heterodox-heretical was condemned by the Councils of the 17th century, on the occasion of the “Confession of Loukaris”, alleged to have been written or adopted by the Patriarch of Constantinople Cyrillos Loukaris. This is the phrase that “it is true and certain that the Church may sin, and adopt falsehood instead of the truth.” The decisions of the Councils of the 17th century hold that the Church cannot err.
Thus, either there is Church without heretical teachings or there is an existing heretical group that cannot be called Church.
The second theological comment is that this new proposal expresses theProtestant idea of invisible and visible Church, which is a “Nestorian ecclesiology.”
In the final text is written: “In accordance with the ontological nature of the Church, her unity can never be perturbed.” Here the invisible church, which is united, is implied — this is the meaning of “ontological”. Then, the phrase introduced by “In spite of this” and continuing “the Orthodox Church accepts the historical name of other heterodox [Translator’s note: the official English version says “non-Orthodox” while the Greek version says “heterodox”] Christian Churches and Confessions that are not in communion with her” implies the visible Church that is fragmented.
Luther, but mainly Calvin and Zwingli, developed the theory of the invisible and visible Church, to declare their identity when detached from Rome. According to this theory the unity of the invisible Church is given, while on earth visible Churches are fragmented and struggling to reach unity.
Lossky, commenting on this theory, argues that this view is a “Nestorian ecclesiology” when the Church is split into invisible and visible, as the divine and the human nature in Christ are supposedly separated. Other theories originate from this theory, such as the branch theory, baptismal theology and the principle of inclusiveness.
6. Proposal
After all these I think that, because the text has many contradictions, if the Hierarchy does not reject it, then at least it must maintain its reservations for its content and decide that it be further elaborated and revised by another Council which will convene in the future.
I support this for the following reasons:
a) Many people have understood that this text was written and decided in a hurry and is not complete, and in fact it was being signed by the Bishops on Sunday morning, during the Divine Liturgy.
b) The Council of Crete expressed the hope that such Councils are repeated regularly to resolve various issues. In any case, many issues have been left outstanding and they need immediate addressing.
c) The Church of Antioch considered this Council as Pre-Conciliar, the same is supported by the Church of Serbia, and recently the Church of Romania decided that the texts decided in Crete can be differentiated in part and developed by a future Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church and be perfected, without time pressure and with a pan-Orthodox consensus.
d) This is the usual practice in the Orthodox synodical system. In the Ecumenical Councils many meetings took place extending into many years. We also have the Quinisext Council that completed the 5th and 6th Ecumenical Councils on canonical law, the First-Second Council (861), and the Hesychastic Councils of St. Gregory Palamas (1341, 1347, 1351, 1368), considered as one Council.

Such a proposal will prevent schisms that may be created within the Church.
* * *
B
The Church of Greece in the “Holy and Great Council” of Crete
(Text submitted to the Minutes of the meeting of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece, 23-24 November 2016)
The Council convened in Crete between 19-26 June 2016, while in the beginning was characterized as Ecumenical Council, eventually was titled as “Holy and Great Council”. The four Churches not attending the Council, directly or indirectly rejected the title Holy and Great Council, and their final decisions are pending. So, the real name of this Council will be given by the consciousness of the Church, which is expressed by her Saints, who are the theoptic class in the Church, according to St. Dionysius Areopagite. We will see then how this Council will eventually be called, Council of the Primates, Holy and Great Council, Ecumenical Council, Pre-Council etc.?
In what follows I will call it Council of Crete, as we do with other Councils which are called by the name of the town where they convened, such as the Council in Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon etc.
I participated in this Council, representing, together with other brothers Bishops and laity, the Church of Greece, following a decision of the Hierarchy in March 2016 and accepted this mission, especially after the decisions taken by the Hierarchy in May 2016. According to these decisions we had to try and fight for the correction of the texts we had in our possession. With my participation I gained great experience but at the same time I left with deepest concern.
I will highlight a few points that are related to the new proposal made by our delegation to this Council.
1. Preparation of our Church for the Council
I can say that our Church’s preparation for participation in this Council was not the appropriate one.
a) The proposal of Chrysostomos, Metropolitan of Messinia
It is known that in our Synod of the Hierarchy in October 2014 there was a presentation by the Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messinia, in order to inform the Metropolitans on the agenda of the coming Council and on its whole work, as had been decided in the Summit of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches in March 2014 at Constantinople.
The presentation was informative and basically traditional. It is significant that in the presentation reference was made to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and to those Christians departed from her, that is, for those Christians outside her. A few points of this presentation will be highlighted regarding this issue.
His Eminence speaking about the dialogues between the Orthodox Church and the heterodox Christians notes:

“For the Orthodox Church, dialogue has always been and remains an essential and inalienable element of both her soteriological task, aiming at the return of schismatics and heretics in her bosom, and of her pastoral responsibility. For this reason she confesses powerfully and teaches that, in her self-consciousness, she constitutes the authentic continuation of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and the ark of salvation for those near and far.”[1]
In this text there is reference to the Orthodox Church, which is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and to the schismatics and heretics that departed from the Orthodox Church and should return to her and not about other Churches, which is in line with Orthodox ecclesiology.
Then it is stressed that local Orthodox Churches and the Orthodox members of the Theological Committees must possess this “ecclesiological self-awareness as an essential criterion of each Dialogue”, and also that the local Orthodox Churches, not only at the level of competent synodical organs but also at Pan-Orthodox Conferences, should monitor and assess these dialogues “with special critical attitude”. [2]
It also reports that “from the point of view of the very care and testimony of the Orthodox Church it is necessary … to mention both all serious novel deviations that exacerbate even more the severity of the acknowledged theological differences of the various Christian traditions and confessions, as well as the traumatic experiences of their historical relations.” [3]
This means that the theological differences and the different Christian traditions must be pointed out, as well as all those events that have created traumatic experiences in the Orthodox Church.
Elsewhere in the presentation it is written:

“Certainly a confessional introversion of many years, in the operation of inter-Christian relations, does not allow, unfortunately, a sober assessment of the consequences of such a responsible projection of the Orthodox tradition to those near and afar, aiming at the treatment of confessional deviation and of the entanglements of various traditions of the Christian world of the West, as well as the confirmation of the validity of Orthodox tradition across time. This is why occasionally there appear justified complaints, objections, suspicions or reactions on the right or wrong course and the necessity of the aforementioned bilateral theological dialogues.” [4]
Here it seen that the author is careful in his wording and does not use the word “Church” to describe the groups of Christians in the West; instead he speaks of confessional deviations and entanglements of the various traditions of the Christian world of the West. At the same time he notes that occasional reactions and protests by Christians for the course of theological dialogues are justified, because there has not been a sober assessment of the consequences of a responsible projection of Orthodox tradition.
b) The Reports of the Inter-Orthodox Committee for the Review of the Texts of Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conferences
After the meeting of the Hierarchy of October 2014 and following a request by some Bishops, we were given the texts of the Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conferences drafted until then, that had been elaborated by the representatives of the fourteen Orthodox Churches, thus including our own Church, without us having until then even an elementary briefing on the texts being prepared by these Conferences.
According to the decision of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches in March 2014 the texts drafted until then should be reviewed by a Special Inter-Orthodox Committee consisting of representatives of all the Churches. In this Committee our Church was represented by Metropolitans Chrysostomos of Peristeri, Ignatius of Demetrias and Almyrou, and Chrysostomos of Messinia.
One thing that is observed is that while Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messinia in his presentation to the Hierarchy in October 2014 expressed the orthodox terminology for the relation of the Orthodox Church with other Christians, in the text that was prepared by the Special Inter-Orthodox Committee for the revision of the documents and by the Summit of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches to be discussed and eventually decided at the Council of Crete, there was a different terminology. That is, there was a reference to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, as well as to the other Christian Churches and Confessions, and it was also mentioned that, whilst the unity of the Church is given, there is need to make efforts for the unity of the Christian world. These points caused much debate when the texts were published.
Conferences were held by the representatives of all Orthodox churches to revise the texts. The Hierarchy was unaware of all this preparation.
From the research I did in the archives of the Holy Synod, following my petition and authorization by the Synod, I found that the three prelates who were representatives of our Church in the Special Inter-Orthodox Committee for the Review of the texts sent out their reports to the Standing Holy Synod with their comments every time they met. So the Synodical Bishops of the Synodal period 2014-2015 took note of the reports and documents which were prepared, without suggesting corrections, additions and changes. This happened only once when few, minimal, corrections proposed by the Inter-Orthodox and Inter-Churches Issues Synodical Committee were adopted. But the texts were not sent to all Hierarchs in order for them to express their opinion or even be informed, and a convening of the Hierarchy to address this issue was not proposed.
If that had happened, all Hierarchs, or those interested, would have been informed of the texts and we would have the opportunity to suggest corrections and additions before the text was signed by the Primates of the Orthodox Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, in January 2016. In my opinion, until the Summit of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, when all fourteen Churches participated, major corrections could have been made. Of course, it was possible to make corrections, additions and deletions during the Council of Crete, but with greater difficulty.
What is important is that our representatives at that time during the sessions of the Inter-Orthodox Committee for the revision of the texts sent their reports to the Holy Synod, in which they confessed that the texts were basically Orthodox.
For example for the new text titled “The Orthodox Church and the rest of the Christian World”, which originated from the merging of two previously different texts, in the report dated 20.12.2014 by our three representatives in the Special Inter-Orthodox Review Committee for the texts of Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox conferences, held in Chambesy Geneva from 29 September to 4 October 2014, there is a paragraph repeated in the other reports as well:
“After corrective interventions were accepted, the text was finally signed by all the heads of the delegations of the Orthodox Churches and it was decided to refer it ad referendum for approval and correction to the Holy Synods of the local Orthodox Churches and for final drafting in the about to be convened 5th Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference “. [5]
From the archives of the Holy Synod it is certified that this text together with the Report was given to the Synodical Bishops of the Standing Holy Synod of that period, and the Synod adopted some minimal proposals by the Synodical Committee of Inter-Orthodox and inter-Christian issues, but it was not sent, as it should have been, to all the Hierarchs of the Church of Greece, because the Hierarchy is competent to decide on such matters.
For example, in April 2015 some changes proposed by the Synodical Commission of Inter-Orthodox and inter-Christian Relations were approved. They were the insertion of the words “local”, “participation in the WCC”, “confessions”, “according to the Nicaea-Constantinople Creed” and replacing the word “WCC” by the word “its”, the word “such” with the word “in order to” and the word “but” with the word “and.”
Besides this, the report found that:

“We consider that this new and consolidated text expresses absolutely the pan-Orthodox position on specific issues in a balanced manner within the framework of Orthodox ecclesiology as is defined and held by the patristic and conciliar tradition of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Moreover it clearly depicts and reflects not history, but the present and the future of the state of the described relationships.” [6]
Similar assurances are found in other reports too, when other texts which would be referred to the Holy Council were discussed.
Perhaps this assertion reassured the Synodical Bishops of that period, who anyway had to study the matter extensively and to bring it for consideration by all the members of the Hierarchy.
With hindsight this assertion did not prove to be a correct assessment, because many sides have pointed out the contradictory statements in the text. The text certainly did not express the self-consciousness of Orthodox ecclesiology, nor did it hold the patristic and conciliar tradition of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This is proved beyond any doubt by the fact that the Council of Crete made corrections and additions, even if incomplete.
When I read the texts for the first time I sent my views dated 18-1-2016 and 20-1-2016, before the Summit of the Primates of the Orthodox Church in Chambesy Geneva from 21st to 28th of January 2016, but I do not know why our delegates did not take into consideration the remarks I made in time, and did not raise the issue of the change in this Summit. Probably these remarks were not given to them.
The Holy Synod sent the final texts signed by the Primates of the Orthodox Church in Geneva in January 2016 and the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, as Chairman of the Holy Synod, sent to all the Hierarchs of our Church a letter (755/16-2-2016), urging those who wished so to submit their observations, in order for the Hierarchy to take the relevant decisions.
In the Standing Holy Synod, after studying the comments of the Prelates who sent texts to the Holy Synod, we proposed some corrections, changes, additions and deletions in the May 2016 meeting of the Hierarchy. Therefore, some have a responsibility because they reassured us and did not inform us during this time, and as a result our participation in the Council of Crete faced difficulties.
The Standing Holy Synod of the year 2015-2016, as was obligated, convened twice the Hierarchy of the Church for this important issue, in March and May of 2016, and studied in detail these issues, first for the selection of members to represent our Church in the Council of Crete and secondly the proposals for the correction of the texts to be submitted to the Secretariat of the Holy and Great Council.
The decisions taken, as well as their outcome, I have included in another text of mine and there is no need to refer to them here.
Because there was concern among the flock of the Church, the Standing Holy Synod sent an encyclical letter that was read in all the churches. The letter said that the Hierarchy has “absolute faith in the teachings of the prophets, the apostles and Fathers” and respects “the conciliar polity of the Orthodox Church”.
2. The new proposal of our Church for the Orthodox Church and the rest of the Christian world
When in the Council of Crete, at its meeting in the afternoon of Friday, June 24th, the proposal of our church on the 6th paragraph of the text “Relations of the Orthodox Church to the rest of the Christian world”, referring to the determination of the Christian world outside of the Orthodox Church was read, referring to “Christian Communities and Confessions,” there was a great debate.
Firstly I need to make a point. The phrase “Christian Communities and Confessions”, proposed by the Church of Greece is not conservative or novel. It has already been used by the representatives of the Churches in the discussion on this text at the Third Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference (1986), as shown in the Proceedings, i.e. “Christian families”, “the Christian Communities outside the Orthodox Church”. Furthermore there was discussion at that time about the need for us Orthodox to acquire our proper self-consciousness, and also that a study is needed of what can be said by the Church to the non-Orthodox and how to accept them. [7]
Also, the Second Vatican Council speaks of “Christian communities” in its texts, and Anglican Christians use the expression “Anglican Communion”.
In any case, during the discussion, the Archbishop of Cyprus spoke in a provocative way about the Church of Greece. And although our Archbishop answered in a proper and sober manner, eventually this, together with the urging of the Ecumenical Patriarch to submit a new proposal, forced our Church to retreat.
I think our Church could stick to the decision of the Hierarchy, submit its proposal, record its disagreement in the Minutes, and let other Churches decide what they wanted, so the Church of Greece would not have the responsibility. Now it appears that this proposal originated from the Church of Greece and was adopted by all Churches.

On this subject I will emphasize three points.
a) Unsound arguments for the term Church for the groups of the heterodox
I think that the members of the Council in Crete were “misled” by those who argued that in the period of the second millennium the Orthodox characterized heretical groups as Churches, without referring comprehensively to this issue. The truth is that Western Christianity was characterized as a Church especially in the 20th century, when the Orthodox terminology and theology was differentiated from the terminology and theology of the past, in particular with the Proclamation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the year 1920.
It should be noted, as I remarked during the proceedings of the Council in Crete, that one can find in some texts of the second millennium the word Church, characterizing the Confessions, as a technical term. But this was not the case when exact wording was used, and indeed our Fathers used also various other heavy (insulting) expressions. St. Gregory Palamas clearly defined this issue, as shown in the Synodical Tomos of the Ninth Ecumenical Council of 1351. [8] He writes: “it is one thing to use counterarguments in favor of piety and another thing to confess the faith.” That is, one should use every argument in countering something, while confession should be brief and doctrinally precise.
Also during the second millennium those separated from the Church were called Latins, heretics, Papists, heterodox etc. Indeed, St. Gregory Palamas, a great theologian not only of the second millennium but of all time, characterizes the heretics as atheists, because they believe in a God who does not exist, the way they believe him and preach him.
Unfortunately, some supported in the Council of Crete that St. Mark of Ephesus, the Council of 1484, which condemned the Council of Ferrara-Florence, and the Encyclical letter of the Patriarchs of the East in 1848 used the word Church for Western Christians. This is not actually true, so it I will make a brief presentation.

i. St. Mark of Ephesus
St. Mark of Ephesus wrote a letter to the Pope before the start of the dialogue expressing his sincere disposition for dialogue, which demonstrates his good-will, expressing also the will of the entire delegation of the Church of Constantinople. One cannot enter in dialogue and dispute and insult the other side. However, when he realized the whole mentality of the representatives of the Latins, he expressed himself accordingly. Thus, St. Mark was courteous and a Confessor.
There have been important works presenting the life and theology of St. Mark of Ephesus. I highlight two of these, one by Irenaeus Bulovic (now Bishop of Backa) with the title: “The mystery of the distinction of the divine essence and divine energy in the Holy Trinity according to Saint Mark of Ephesus” and another by Fr. Dimitrios Keskinis titled “The Pneumatology of St. Mark bishop of Ephesus and its timeliness”. Also, there is the doctoral thesis of Hercules Rerakis on St. Mark’s brother, John Evgenikos, titled “Dialogue of East and West for the union of the Churches in the 15th century according to John Evgenikos.”
Reading carefully these three theses one gets to know the whole atmosphere prevailing at that time, and also the Orthodox patristic theology of St. Mark of Ephesus. I underline some points in particular.

First, St. Mark of Ephesus was a great theologian, bearer of St. Gregory Palamas’ teaching, whom he expressed wonderfully.
Second, still as a layman, before becoming a Cleric, he was inspired with the desire of the Union of East and West, and he was preparing with passion and zeal for this task. And while he began with longing for union, he was gradually overtaken by “the disappointment of the theological impasse.”
Third, the relevant letter written by St. Mark to be given to Pope Eugene IV, in which there are some phrases for the divided body of the Church etc., was written at the instigation of Cardinal Julian and with great reluctance by the saint, with a view to a good outcome of the discussion. But Julian was not enthusiastic about the contents of the letter, because it pronounced the Pope as the cause of the schism by the addition of filioque, and rather than giving it to the Pope, he gave it to the Emperor, who became angry and banned henceforth communication between the Hierarchs and the Latins, and it was only through the intervention of the Metropolitan of Nicaea that St. Mark was not punished. In no case was this letter read in front of the Synod.
Fourth, St. Mark expressed the whole theology of the Ecumenical Councils, the terms of which he knew well, he limited the discussion to these terms from the beginning, and brought great embarrassment to the Latins, so the theological dialogue that started in Ferrara reached deadlock and the Synod had to move to Florence.
Fifth, the Orthodox representatives, including St. Mark, faced pressures and threats and deception and fraud. Indeed, John Evgenikos writes that we suffered a lot, not only because of the current and upcoming ills, “but also of the lack of freedom because we were restrained like slaves.” He also speaks about the long-term deprivation of necessities, about “poverty” and “famine”.
Sixth, during the Council, St. Mark of Ephesus fought for unity with love, he submitted proposals that were not accepted, he struggled and remained tranquil. He had a sincere willingness to seek the truth. And after the Council his “polemics” “were mainly directed to his Latin-minded compatriots, rather than the Latin papists.”
Professor Ioannis Karmiris using views of the historians who were present at the Council of Ferrara-Florence, writes that St. Mark considered the Latins as heretics during the Council, too.
“In Florence, too, Mark Evgenikos said to the Orthodox delegates, ‘that the Latins are not only schismatics but heretics as well; and our Church kept this in secret for our nation was much weaker than theirs’ (J. Harduin, Acta Consiliorum, Parisiis 1715 Eq.), and ‘(those before us) did not wish to proclaim the Latins as heretics, looking forward to their return and negotiating their friendship’ (S. Syropuli, Vera historia unionis non verae, 9,5. p. 256).” [10]
According to the Acts and memoirs of the Ferrara-Florence Council, St. Mark of Ephesus always considered the Latins as heretics and he said so to the Orthodox delegation, but the delegation of the Orthodox Church did not want to express it publicly because of the difficult conditions of the time and as an expression of friendship, hoping for their return.
But, of course, St. Mark of Ephesus after that Council, when he saw the actual attitude of the Latins, expressed himself in harsh terms. He sent the well-known letter to the “Orthodox Christians everywhere across the land and the islands”.
This letter begins with the phrase: “Those who kept us in dismal captivity and wished to draw us towards the Babylon of Latin morals and doctrines, but they did not manage to achieve this……”. [11] He considers that he went to the Babylon of Latin customs and doctrines and that even during the Council they were taken as hostages. Elsewhere in the letter he writes: “as heretics we turned away from them, and for this reason we separated ourselves from them…. they are heretics therefore, and as heretics we cut them off”. [12] Latins are heretics.
Those who seek to lie midway between the Orthodox Church and the Latins, that is, those who “follow the middle path”, who praise some Latin customs and doctrines, and praise some others yet do not accept them, and do not praise some others at all, and who behaved almost like modern ecumenists, he calls “Greco-Latins” and recommends: “We must flee from them as one flees from a snake or from them [the Latins] themselves; as they are much more dangerous, being Christ-profiteers and Christ-merchants”. And later on he writes about them: “Brothers, depart from them and from communion with them; they are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as Apostles of Christ”.[13]
Professor Ioannis Karmiris observes:

“Because of the above doctrinal differences and deviations of the Latins ‘from the correct faith … and everything concerning the theology of the Holy Spirit,’ Mark Evgenikos characterizes them as heretics, verifying that the Orthodox Church during that time and possibly since the time of the Crusades considered indeed the Latins not only as schismatics, but as heretics as well, accepting those of them who came to Orthodoxy through chrismation with holy chrism, thus classing them with the Arians, Macedonians, Sabbatians, Novatianists and other heretics of the fourth century according to the 7th canon of 2nd Ecumenical Council, which he recalls in addition to the 16th Query of Theodore Balsamon “. [14]
St. Mark Evgenikos after the Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1438-39 and after what he saw there, no longer speaks of the Western Church nor even of a heterodox Church; he speaks about Latins and heretics. It is strange that some people involve St. Mark in an ecumenistic mentality and do not understand correctly, first, his courteous attitude before the Council, for the benefit of the Church and of the expected union, while expressing the entire delegation, and, secondly, the Orthodox treatment of the heretic Latins after this pseudo-Council.
Therefore, the selective and misinterpretative mentality of some modern theologians and clergy toward the Orthodox stance of St. Mark Evgenikos in Ferrara-Florence is unacceptable by any means, and when it is used by scholars it is unscientific. Fr. Dimitrios Keskinis writes: “a fragmentary approach, which unfortunately was cultivated either intentionally by western ‘scholars’ or naively by semi-educated Orthodox diminishes this great theologian of the Church and indeed offends our Orthodox conscience.” [15]
ii. The Synod of 1484
The Synod of 1484 condemned the Synod of Ferrara-Florence of 1438/1439, which in the meantime had been rejected by the conscience of the church flock.
This Council, which was called Ecumenical, was summoned at the church of Pammakaristos by Patriarch Simeon in two phases. The first, i.e. in the years 1472 to 1475, issued a “horos” [definition] renouncing the Council of Ferrara-Florence, and the second, in 1484, issued a service for the Latins who wanted to return to the Orthodox Church. In this Council representatives of the other Patriarchs of the East participated too. [16]
This service was written by the Ecumenical Patriarch Simeon. In the heading the following is written: “Service published by this Holy and Great Synod, for those who return from the Latin heresies to the Orthodox and Catholic Church of Constantinople, but also to the three most holy Patriarchs of the East, i.e. those of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem”. In this phrase it is clear that a distinction is made between the Orthodox Catholic Church, and Latin heresy.
The service speaks of the “Latin heresy” encourages the Latin who is to become Orthodox to renounce “all the shameful and alien doctrines of the Latins” and “everything which is not in agreement with the Catholic and Orthodox Church of the East”, and to anathematize those who add the filioque to the Creed. Also, in this service, by way of questions to the Latin converting to the Orthodox Church, the “horos” of the Ecumenical Council of 1472-1475 is essentially presented: “Do you reject and do you consider null and void the Synod, which was previously summoned in Florence of Italy and those fraudulent things, which that Synod erroneously embraced against the Catholic Church?”
In another question the Latin is prompted to turn away “completely from the gatherings of Latins in their churches, or of those who are Latin-minded”. Here the phrase “the gatherings of Latins in their churches” obviously means the gatherings in church buildings, without attaching an ecclesiological meaning. The Latins are heretics and the gatherings in churches are the gatherings in church buildings, and it does not mean the Church of the Latins, as advocated by some.
In the service there is reference to the Orthodox Catholic Church and the Latin heresy. Once where the word church is used for the Latins it means the place where the Latins meet, that is, the church building, without having any ecclesiological importance. [17]
I consider it unscientific and ultimately misleading to claim as some do that even at the Council of 1484, which condemned the Council of Ferrara-Florence, there is reference to Western Churches.
iii. The Encyclical of the Patriarchs of the East of the year 1848
In the Encyclical of the Patriarchs of the East of the year 1848 signed by the Patriarchs Anthimos VI of Constantinople, Hierotheos II of Alexandria, Methodius of Antioch and Cyril II of Jerusalem, and the Hierarchs who were members of their Synods, the Orthodox Church is characterized as “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, following the steps of the holy Fathers, eastern and western”; elsewhere it is characterized as “Catholic Church”, “as the divine fold of the Catholic Orthodox Church” as “Catholic holy Church” as “Orthodoxy”, namely ” the Orthodoxy of the Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Elsewhere it is written that “Orthodoxy kept the Catholic Church as a virgin bride for her bridegroom among us, although without any worldly protection.”
In contrast, the Western Christianity of Old Rome is characterized as “Papism” disturbing “the quiet Church of God”; those who are under the authority of the Pope and attack “Orthodoxy according to their custom” are characterized as “Papists”. In the West the “virus of modernism” entered with heresies. The Church of Ancient Rome before separating from the Orthodox Catholic Church is called the “Roman Church”, whereas it is replaced by “Papism”, apparently because of the theories of the Pope’s primacy and infallibility, and once only it is called “Romana church” which is contrasted to the ancient Roman church. A few times Papism is referred to as “the Church of Rome” and “Western Church” without ecclesiological meaning.
Westerners were excised from the Orthodox Church, but “before departing from Orthodoxy to such heresies they possessed the same faith.” In reality, then, it calls them heretics.
It is also mentioned that “savage wolves” have attacked this holy fold of Christ, the Orthodox Church. This holy fold of Orthodoxy, in which “the pastors and honorable presbytery and the monastics maintain this ancient charitable modesty of the first centuries of Christianity,” “was attacked and is attacked as we see, too, by ‘savage wolves’.” Then the Patriarchs of the East invite the faithful to feel the “mutual painful feeling of a mother loving her children and children loving their mother, when men that are wolf-minded and soul-mongers study and scheme to kidnap these as slaves or snatch them like lambs from their mothers”.
These are very harsh expressions used by the Patriarchs of the East in order to characterize the Latins. It is also very important that in this Encyclical letter it is mentioned that the holy Fathers teach us “not to judge Orthodoxy from the holy throne, but to judge the throne and whoever is upon the throne by the divine Scriptures, by the synodical decisions and terms and by the preached faith, namely by the Orthodoxy of the timeless teaching”. This means that Orthodoxy derives not from the holy throne, but we judge the throne and the one sitting on the throne on the basis of the entire ecclesiastic tradition.
Also important is a remark made by the Patriarchs of the East, that the seats of all Bishops of the West remain empty, in anticipation of the return of the rebel shepherds along with their flocks. It is written characteristically: “… the canonical first-seat of His Holiness and the seats of all the bishops of the West are empty and ready; for the Catholic Church, awaiting the return of the apostate shepherds and their flocks, does not appoint intruders having only a nominal title, where in essence others have the authority, abusing the priesthood.”
This is an important argument, that, although they are called “Churches of the West”, this refers to their thrones, which were Orthodox previously and now are empty of Bishops, that is, those who sit on the thrones are not recognized by the Orthodox Church and it awaits the return of the shepherds that went away with their flocks. This means that no ecclesial meaning is given to the heretics who wrongly hold the old Orthodox Churches.[18]
Mainly the use of the word Church for Christians outside her began in the 20th century with the Proclamation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the year 1920.
Therefore, it is unscientific and misleading to say that even in this important text of the Patriarchs of the East with their Synods it is written that the “Roman Catholics” are a “Church”. On this subject I submitted my view to the Minutes of the Council.
b) The anti-Orthodox theory of “heterodox churches”
The remarkable thing is that, following the new proposal by the Delegation of the Church of Greece, without an authorization by the Hierarchy to make changes in the decisions, and after the decision was accepted by the other Orthodox Churches, the subsequent ecclesiological decisions of our Hierarchy were essentially not supported, except for a few details, as I presented them in another text of mine.
The final proposal of the Church on the 6th paragraph was as follows:

“The Orthodox Church accepts the historical name of other heterodox Christian Churches and confessions that are not in communion with her…”.
First I still do not know precisely the paternity of this new proposal, submitted during the night of Friday to Saturday, but what I realize is that he who conceived this idea does not know the dogmatics of the Orthodox Catholic Church as will be made obvious further below.
Then, our delegation was not given sufficient time to study the new proposal and to assess it. The decision was taken within a few minutes under strain and without substantive discussion. It seemed that some bishops knew the content of the new proposal before it was announced by the Archbishop to the members of our Delegation, while I heard it for the first time at that moment. In addition, there was a written note that the content of the proposal is in the spirit of the decision of our Hierarchy and eventually was presented as a victory for our Church.
The rationale of the decision is the following:

“With this amendment we achieve a conciliar decision which for the first time in history limits the historical framework of the relations with the heterodox not to the existence, but ONLY to their historical name as heterodox Christian Churches or Confessions. The ecclesiological implications of this change are obvious. Not only they do not adversely affect in any way the age-old Orthodox tradition, but rather protect in a very clear way the Orthodox ecclesiology.”
On the Press Release of the Church of Greece that day (25-6-2016) the view was expressed that the Delegation of our Church proposed the new proposal “in line with the (sic) spirit of the Hierarchy.”

But this new proposal of the majority of our delegation on the one hand diverged from the unanimous decision of our Hierarchy, and on the other hand it is heretical and anti-Orthodox.
i. Poor wording of the proposal
The new proposal formulated by representatives of the Church of Greece, except me, is problematic in the following points:

Firstly, the new proposal altered also another word of the decision of the Hierarchy. The Hierarchy reformulated the initial verb of the text “recognizes the existence” to the verb “knows”, while in the new proposal the verb “knows” turned into “accepts”. Of course, as it is understood, the verb “know” has a different weight than the verb “accept”. So, there is a very clear differentiation from the decision of the Hierarchy on this point as well.
Then, the word “existence” was replaced with the word “name”, as if the name does not declare the existence. There is no name without existence, because this expresses an ecclesiastical nominalism. This cannot be accepted even in national issues, and this is why Greece refuses to recognize the name “Macedonia” for Skopje, although this name has been by the State of Skopje for many years, and Cyprus refuses to recognize the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus “, although it has been occupied for a long time.
Moreover, it was considered that “heterodox Christian churches” is a historical name, whilst this is not referred to steadily in historical texts. In a number of texts the groups outside the Church are called by economy “western churches” but not “heterodox churches.” The word heterodox means heretical and that is why neither the Catholics nor the Protestants describe themselves as heterodox. Quite the opposite happens, as seen in their official texts. It is a diplomatic and not a theological phrase, which mocks both the Orthodox and the heterodox.
ii. The “Loukaris” view on the erring Church
The view that there is a Church that becomes heterodox, i.e. mistaken, is written in “Loukaris’ confession” and has received strong criticism, because the Church does not err, and if some Christian group errs, this group is not a Church.
It seems that the “Loukaris’ confession” was written by Calvinists in their war against the Latins, but was adopted by Patriarch Cyrillos Loukaris and published under his name. The “Loukaris confession” was condemned by the Councils of the 17th century.
Among other things in this “Confession” is written: “it is true and certain that on the way the Church may sin, and choose falsehood instead of truth.” [19]
The Council of Constantinople in 1638 anathematized Patriarch Cyrillos Loukaris for his view that the Church may sin and be deceived and choose falsehood instead of truth. [20]
The Synod of Constantinople and of Jasi decided the same in 1642, proclaiming “as alien” “to our Eastern and Apostolic Church of Christ” what is contained in the “Confession” allegedly by Patriarch Cyrillos, in which among everything else he confused “the earthly and the heavenly church” and in which he declares that it is possible for the Church to sin. [21]
How, then, can we consider as a Church a heretical offshoot, and even call it a heterodox, i.e. erroneous Church? The dilemma is clear: either there is a Church without heretical teachings, which saves people or there is a heretical group, which cannot declare itself Church. To unite these two words — heterodox and Church – in a unity with one being the cosmetic adjective of the other, is an erroneous act, because both the heterodox and the Orthodox are being mocked.
iii. The Protestant view on ontological unity and historical fragmentation of the Church, namely on invisible and visible Church
The new phrase proposed by our Church and adopted by all other present Churches, and in fact with applause, integrated within the whole spirit of the text is purely Protestant and represents a “Nestorian ecclesiology.” This is probably a grave expression but is fully justified with what we shall mention below.
In the final text adopted by all the Primates, accepting the proposal submitted by our delegation it is written:

“In accordance with the ontological nature of the Church, her unity can never be perturbed. In spite of this, the Orthodox Church accepts the historical name of other heterodox [Note: the Greek text uses “heterodox” and the English text uses “non-Orthodox”] Christian Churches and Confessions that are not in communion with her…”.
I will present a brief analysis to demonstrate that this phrase is in error and is anti-Orthodox.
First of all what is an “ontological unity”? The word ontology refers to the theory of the ideas of Plato and Aristotle and this phrase was probably preferred in order to indicate the real rather than the apparent unity. And this is found in Protestant theories on the Church.
Then, the text makes an indirect but clear distinction between Church and Orthodox Church. Namely, it is written that the unity according to the real nature of the Church “is impossible to be perturbed,” but “in spite of this, the Orthodox Church accepts the historical name…”. It seems as if the Church, whose unity is not perturbed, is something else from the Orthodox Church and the “Christian heterodox churches”, who are separated. This reminds me of the principle of phenomenology of the 20th century, that investigates things as seen, removing from them any idea, image, opinion which have been formed about them. That is, they see things as they appear to people and try to see their essence.
However, this mainly refers to the theory about the invisible united Church and the visibly fragmented Church, which is pervasive in the Protestant world and appears in the texts of the World Council of Churches.
To explain this it should be stated that after their secession from the Pope the Reformers wanted to determine what exactly the unity of the Church is, and how we can characterize all these local Christian groups relative to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. As it is clear there was a serious ecclesiological problem concerning the self-description of the splinter Christian groups at that time. So they created the theory of the invisible and visible Church.
Within this perspective the unity of the invisible Church is given, its members are everywhere, only God knows them, like the lights of a big city that exist, but are revealed when they are lit in the night and lighten the darkness, while all visible historical Churches are fragmented.
Clearly, then, the division between the ontological unity of the Church and the historical name and existence of heterodox Churches refers to this Protestant theory which is unacceptable from an Orthodox perspective. Because in Orthodox ecclesiology the Church is both visible and invisible, and there is no split between these two forms of the Church. The Church is a “Concurrence of Heaven and Earth”. St. John Chrysostom observes:
“Oh how great are Christ’s gifts! Hosts of angels praise Him in heaven; in churches on earth human choirs imitate the doxology of the angels. Above Seraphim sing aloud the thrice-holy hymn; below the same hymn is sung by the human multitude; a common heavenly and earthly feast is celebrated: one thanksgiving, one rejoicing, one joyful ceremony. The indescribable condescension of the Lord has created this; the Holy Spirit has put it together; and this harmony of sounds was orchestrated with the Father’s good pleasure. From on high come harmonious melodies, and, moved by the Holy Spirit as though by a plectrum, pleasant and blessed music sounds, the angelic hymn, the unending symphony. This is the outcome of our striving here, this is the fruit of our meeting.” [22]
Specifically, John Calvin in his book “Institutes of the Christian Religion” (1536) sets the foundations of the distinction between the invisible and visible Church. The invisible church refers to the fact that only God knows who the true members of His body are, something that people are not able to find out with certainty. He writes: “God wondrously preserves His Church, while placing it as it were in concealment”.
At the same time he speaks about the “visible Church”, “as it is seen by the eyes of fallible men.”
Ulrich Zwingli expresses more clearly the distinction between the invisible and visible Church in his text “A short and clear exposition of the Christian faith …” (1531).
In the 6th chapter titled “The Church” he refers to the visible and invisible Church. According to him the visible Church is the one that comes down from heaven, recognizes and embraces God in the light of the Holy Spirit. “To this Church belong all those that believe throughout the whole world.” It is called invisible Church “not as if they that believe were invisible, but because it is not evident to human eyes who those are who believe. The faithful are known to God and themselves alone.”
Then he writes that the visible Church consists “not of the Pope of Rome and all others who wear tiaras, but of all those throughout the world who have enrolled themselves under Christ [he means by the Baptism]. Among them are included all those who are called Christians, though mistakenly, because they have no faith within. Therefore there are in the visible Church some who are not members of the chosen and invisible Church.”
Vladimir Lossky referring to this teaching of Protestantism writes that such a view is “Nestorian ecclesiology” because all Christological heresies are revealed in their teaching about the Church. Also, there is an opposite view called “monophysite ecclesiology.” For the first case he writes:
“Thus, there arises a Nestorian ecclesiology, the error of those who would divide the Church into distinct being: on the one hand the heavenly and invisible Church, alone true and absolute; on the other, the earthly Church (or rather ‘the churches’) imperfect and relative, wandering in the shadows, human societies seeking to draw near, so far as is possible for them, to that transcendent perfection.” [23]
Nikos Matsoukas commenting on this Protestant view writes:
“The Church of Christ in no way can be understood as identical to the Protestant communities. This view is unconditionally accepted by all the theologians of the Protestant orthodoxy. The Church of Christ is something wider and more universal. So they never speak about an exit from the Church. They do not know its boundaries and never risk saying to any of their brothers who were condemned by the Church that they are outside of it. In this case the invisible Church that is fundamentally divided from the visible, according to Protestant theology, dominates the thinking and life of Protestants … But the dominance of the invisible Church over all human acts and historical events weakens the importance of the visible one. That’s why later on and in our days the Protestants can very easily speak about many individual visible Churches and about only one invisible. The branch theory, developed within modern ecumenism, originates from this principle. Although current Protestantism has gone through many evolutionary stages and can comfortably be adjusted, it seems to show a particular favor for the teaching of the fundamental distinction and differentiation between the invisible and the visible Church.” [24]
Therefore, the view that in accordance with the ontological nature of the Church her unity can never be perturbed but according to the historical name there are other heterodox Christian churches not in communion with her reflects this Protestant teaching about the invisible and visible Church. This is the basis of the branch theory, namely that all Christian Churches, including the Orthodox Church, are branches of the same tree, and everyone is looking for their unity. The essence of this view is that the invisible Church is united, whilst the visible Churches are divided and make mistakes.
Fr. John Romanides taught:

“The Church is invisible and visible, that is, it is composed of those militant on earth and those triumphed in the glory of God in heavens. The prevailing view among the Protestants is that the Church is only invisible, and the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist are only symbolic acts and that only God knows the actual members of the Church. In contrast, the Orthodox Church emphasizes the visible part of the Church as well. Outside the Church there is no salvation.” [25]
Thus, the new proposal submitted by majority by our delegation in Crete is problematic and anti-Orthodox.
iv. Ecclesiological questions
Overall the triumphalism of some people after the submission of the new proposal by the majority of the delegation of the Church of Greece, that for first time the Christians outside the Church are treated by a Synod not theologically, but only historically, and its acceptance by all the Churches, is unfounded.
This is because, among other things, the text is not theological, but rather diplomatic. And there are intense contradictions as to what the Eastern and Western Christians who are outside the Orthodox Church are. There are many questions:
Do Christians outside the Orthodox Church belong to canonical Churches or to heterodox ones? What does heterodox Church mean other than heretical? Then, why are they still called “sister Churches”? Why elsewhere in the text they are called simply “other Christians” or “rest of the Christian world”? Why elsewhere in the same text they are characterized as “the non-Orthodox Churches and Confessions” that diverged from the true faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? After all are they “heterodox Churches”, “other Christians”, “non-Orthodox churches and confessions” diverging from the faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? How are all these different phrases justified in a text and how can this text have a theological identity? Shouldn’t this text have a uniform terminology in referring to Christians outside the Orthodox Church? Shouldn’t this text’s content conform to its title?
The same can be observed for the reference to the unity of the Church. At one point it is said that the unity of the Church can never be perturbed; elsewhere that the Orthodox Church is aware of the difficulties in the course of dialogue with the other Christians “to the common understanding of the tradition of the ancient Church»; elsewhere that the World Council of Churches together with other inter-Christian organizations “fulfill an important mission by promoting the unity of Christendom”; elsewhere that the Orthodox Church is aware that “the movement towards the restoration of Christian unity takes new forms…”. What is valid out of all these? The unity of the Church is given or is it looked for?
The least I can say is that this text not only is not theological, it is also not clear, it does not have a clear perspective and foundation, it is diplomatic. The way it is written it is characterized by a creative diplomatic ambiguity. Thus, being a diplomatic text, it satisfies neither the Orthodox nor the heterodox ones. I cannot understand how it will be accepted by other Christians who are called simultaneously “heterodox”, that is, heretic, “rest of Christians” and “brothers”, or it speaks simultaneously about “heterodox Churches” and “sister Churches.”
All these problems exist in this text, because it was not ripe for decision and signing, especially since both the Greek text and the translations into other languages were still being elaborated late on Saturday night 25th June.
At this point I remember the saying of St. Mark of Ephesus: “Church matters have never been corrected by the mean, the middle position. There is no middle position between truth and falsehood, but as the one who goes out of the light is necessarily in the darkness, in the same way someone who has diverged a little from the truth we truthfully say to be subject to falsehood”. [26]
v. The World Council of Churches. 

These questions are related to the World Council of Churches (WCC). Specifically:

In the 19th paragraph of the text titled “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world”, adopted at the Council of Crete, there is reference to the ecclesial prerequisites of the Toronto declaration (1950), which as it is written, “are of paramount importance for the Orthodox participation in the Council” and the 17th paragraph of the same text mentions the “established criteria”, which were proposed by the Special Commission, “mandated by the Inter-Orthodox Conference held in Thessaloniki (1998).”
As to the first issue of paragraph 19, I read the decision of the Central Committee of the WCC in Toronto, in English and in Greek, and found that, in addition to the section that is indicated in the text, there are other paragraphs which cannot be accepted from an Orthodox point of view. Among other things it states that the WCC includes Churches, who believe that the Church is essentially invisible, and Churches who believe that the visible unity of the Church is essential; there is a distinction between the visible body of the Church and the invisible body of the Church; that apart from few exceptions the Churches accept that the baptism celebrated by other Churches is valid; that the Churches that are members of the WCC recognize “elements of a true Church”, “traces of Church”, in other Churches, and the ecumenical movement rests on them; that all Churches recognize “that there are Church members extra muros, that these aliquo modo belong to the Church, and also that there is “Church within the Church” ” etc. That is, clearly in the WCC there dominates an anti-Orthodox view about an invisible and a visible Church, which overturns the whole Orthodox ecclesiology.
With respect to the second issue, in paragraph 17 referring to the decision of the Special Commission, there is a problem here, too. It is known to those involved in these matters that there was an Inter-Orthodox Conference in Thessaloniki (April 29 – May 2, 1998) on the “Evaluation of New Facts in the Relations of Orthodoxy and the Ecumenical Movement”, in which representatives of all Orthodox Churches proposed, in view of the convening of the WCC in Harare, that “the W.C.C undergoes radical reform in order to allow a fuller Orthodox participation.” It was proposed, therefore, to make changes in the religious gatherings and in common prayers, and in the vote process. It also stated that if there were not radical changes, “it is likely that other Orthodox Churches may withdraw from the Council, following the example of the Church of Georgia.”
After this proposal by the Orthodox Churches, the General Assembly of the WCC in Harare Zimbabwe established a special committee to study the issue, whose final text was almost unanimously accepted at the meeting of the Central Committee of the WCC in 2002.
When reading this text of the Special Commission, signed also by our own representatives, in matters of ecclesiology, of common prayer, of the Eucharist worship, of the way of decision-making by consensus, etc. one is startled.
In this text there is reference to “confessional” and “inter-confessional” common prayer at meetings of the WCC, and through these prayers “churches have experienced progress towards unity, and some have succeeded in reaching agreements leading to “full communion””; to “Eucharistic worship” by “the brotherhood of the churches of the WCC “; to “some churches having an “open altar” for all those who love the Lord”; to “hospitality churches” that celebrate Eucharist together etc. It is confessed that “worship is the center of our Christian identity. Nevertheless in worship we also discover our breakup. In an ecumenical framework, common prayer can be a source of joy and sorrow”; there is reference about an “inclusive language” in common worship; that “as fellow pilgrims on the spiritual path, we participate as equals in inter-confessional common prayer” for the “brotherhood of the churches of the WCC” etc.
Everything in quotes refers to approved texts of the Special Commission of the WCC and in fact expresses the Protestant idea of invisible and visible Church. The decisions of the Special Commission endorsed by the WCC have passed into paragraph 17 of the text approved by the Council of Crete.
The view of Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Peristeri, delivered in the meetings of the Third Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference (1986) when the text on relations between the Orthodox Church and the rest of the Christian world, and on the theme of the WCC, was discussed, is entirely true. He said:

“The Holy and Great Council must deal with and decide if and whether it is better for our Orthodox Church to return to the old system of separate Declarations. Because, currently, the texts of the WCC are both Orthodox and Protestant and whatever else. They are syncretistic texts that please everyone and no-one. I humbly think that we will offer more services to the unity of the Churches with an Orthodox doctrinal Declaration”. [27]
I will not write more on this subject, but I will analyze it in another work of mine. What we should note is that, unfortunately, when on May of 2016 the Hierarchy decided by a majority that we remain as members of the WCC it was not fully informed about the beginning, the evolution and the current situation prevailing in the WCC. I think that at some point there must be an informed presentation on what the WCC is.
Conclusion
It is clear and obvious that an Orthodox Hierarchy cannot adopt such a proposal, as set by our Delegation, because this would imply the acceptance of the theological error of speaking about Churches that are heterodox, i.e. heretical and erring. It would also accept the anti-Orthodox doctrine of visible and invisible Church, that is, a theory of a “Nestorian ecclesiology”, which is the basis of the branch theory, which has been condemned by the Great Councils of the 17th century.
November 2016

http://parembasis.gr/
Source  http://parembasis.gr/index.php/holy-great-council-menu/4705-ni-intervention-hierarchy-cog-nov-2016

Original text in Greek.  http://parembasis.gr/index.php/el/menu-teyxos-244/4679-2016-11-26

Heresies, Ecumenism:The Ecumenist Dialogues Unmasked by protopresbyter fr. George D. Metallinos,Dean of the Athens University School of Theology 

 

Source: “Orthodox Press” newspaper
Ecumenism is the “instrument” developed by the anti-Ecclesiastic, Enlightenment policy of the New World Order.

Examine the facts, bared and fetid, as they truly are….and be prepared for a new era of CATACOMBS, for the Christians who will remain faithful to the Truth, albeit perhaps betrayed by the majority of the Church’s leadership.

Will you be among the persistent faithful, or will you continue to prefer this worldly situation?

It is a common ascertainment, that the Dialogues – both inter-Christian and inter-faith – are taking place even more frequently in our time. Whereas the Ecumenical Patriarchate continues to intensify its related policies of the past, the Church of Greece however has shown itself to be a serious competitor, by focusing all its efforts chiefly in two directions: its contacts with the Vatican and Papism on the one hand, but also the inter-faith meetings on the other. And whereas the Ecumenical Patriarchate continues to follow the course that was set by the late Patriarch Athenagoras (†1972), unable to apply self-criticism and self-control any longer, the Church of Greece on the other hand, at its administrative levels and despite the reactions of the majority of the Clergy and the pious Laity, is nearing on surpassing the Patriarchal Centre in initiatives, with its constantly accelerating rhythms that justifiably cause concern because they are scandalously violating the once-customary policy of prudent self-control that our Archbishops used to enforce, from the late Chrysostom II (†1968), up to and including the late Seraphim (†1998). And the question posed is merciless: WHY?
1.
In ecumenical matters, the Patriarch Athenagoras had inaugurated a course – a constantly accelerating one – which is now impossible to be revised or reined in by his successors; the Church of Greece has also become entangled in this “trap”, and with its current Leadership, despite a seeming competition with the Head of Fanarion (Constantinople), She has been implementing the same ecumenistic and inter-faith policies. The Patriarch Athenagoras had been unabashedly instrumental in the promotion of the objectives of the 2nd Vatican Synod (1962-1965), which was none other than the subjection of Orthodoxy to Papism, in the guise of a union. The commencement of Unia which had been activated during the Synod of Ferrara-Florence (1438-39), had been inadmittedly accepted by Hellenic-speaking Orthodoxy, under the illusion that a dialogue “on equal terms” was taking place, for the purpose of uniting “in the truth”, whereas in fact we ended up with a Uniate recognition of Papism – the most humungous and radical “alteration of the very core of ecclesiastic truth”, with the production of “a different kind of Christianity, entirely opposite to the evangelical way of life and salvation of mankind” (Chr. Yannaras). From the Patriarch Athenagoras – a convinced preacher of this course – with the Pan-Orthodox conferences of Rhodes (1961 and 1963) as well as a series of personal initiatives (such as the famous meeting with the pope Paul VI in Jerusalem, 1964) and despite the reactions chiefly of Chrysostom II of Athens, the predetermined plan (in collaboration with the Vatican) was promoted and imposed, thus leading to the situation that we have today.
From the “Dialogue of Love” – a deceptive invention of the 2nd Vatican synod, whose greatest propagandist was Athenagoras – we were ushered forcefully into the Theological Dialogue, however without the prior fulfilment of Orthodoxy’s basic condition: the waiving of the Papist primacy and infallibility, given that the Papacy constitutes the most tragic alteration of Christ’s Gospel and the most significant obstacle for a meeting of Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy “in the truth”. But the enforced “policy” of misguiding and entrapment is also verified by the decision that during a Theological Dialogue, the “divisive” issues must not be discussed (a permanent and inviolable principle of Ecumenical Synods), but instead, only the “unifying” issues, thus creating an illusion of unity and kinship through the promoting of the tactics of Unia. This explains the Vatican’s persistence in saving the institution of Unia at all costs, while at the same time, the spirit of “mutual recognition” was being cultivated (culminating in the meeting of Balamand in 1993 and the nondescript text regarding Unia, which was co-signed by nine Orthodox Churches, the first being the Ecumenical Patriarchate). When the reposed fr. John Romanides remonstrated about all of these things – and especially about the acceptance of the method of Unia – he was admonished by means of letters filled with rage (the letters have been preserved…) and he was threatened indirectly with defrocking. (He refused to compromise with this stance – a fact that led him to his grave much sooner….)
2.
We spoke of a pre-decided and pursued “course” previously; so now, to allay any doubts whatsoever, we shall present an indisputable “document”, which reveals the basis of this “course”, as set down by the Patriarch Athenagoras. In August of 1971, a group of Greek Clergymen (twenty from America and ten from West Gemany), along with their wives and other persons, visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Athenagoras’ greeting was tape-recorded by many who were present, and these tapes are still available, to this very day. The transcribed text was published in the 13/1/1979 edition of the newspaper “Orthodox Press”. When seeking to interpret the current phenomena and their development, the aforementioned transcript came to mind, which definitely had the semblance of a program. It did not only express the ideological world of the former Patriarch and the spiritual setting of his ecumenist actions, but also the trusts that he was so opportunely or inopportunely leaving to those who supported him – trusts that proved to be programmatic and unchangeable.
Athenagoras’ address
«… In this place, on the 15th of July of the year 1054, a certain cardinal Umberto deposited on the Holy Altar of the Haghia Sophia (that you will visit tomorrow), a libel against the Patriarch Michael Kerularios. Upon which, Kerularios gave his response –and I am not sure if he acted wisely in responding– but anyway, he gave a response. And these two libels, these two letters, were referred to as “schism”. A Schism was never proclaimed, either by Rome, or by the East, nevertheless, we experienced it for 900 years. With many consequences, with much destruction. We lived through it, a whole 900 years! Without having a brother to tell him how much you love him! Then suddenly one December day, in 1963, I announced to the Press that the Pope had decided to come to Jerusalem, and, while officiating in a neighboring church here, I announced that I would ask to meet with him. I came here, and I issued an announcement through the Associated Press that we should meet. The Vatican’s station responded, and on the 5th of January 1964 we met in Jerusalem, at 9 in the evening, at the Pope’s residence. And when we saw each other, our embraces opened up automatically. The one threw himself into the arms of the other. When we were asked: How did you kiss, brothers, after 900 years? You ask how? We both went hand in hand into his quarters, and we had a secret conversation between us. What did we say? Who knows what two souls say when they converse! Who knows what two hearts say when they exchange feelings! What did we say? We formed a common program, with an absolute equality, not difference. Then we invited our entourages, we read an excerpt from the Gospel, and we recited the Lord’s Prayer, and I made the first address. And we said that we are already on the way to Emmaus, and are going to meet with the Lord in the common Chalice. In his response, the Pope offered me a holy Chalice. He did not know that I was going to mention a Holy Chalice, nor did I know that he was to offer me a Holy Chalice! What was this? A symbolism of the future. In 1965 we lifted the Schism, in Rome and here, with our representatives there and those representatives here. And in July of 1967 the Pope came here. It would have been easier to move a mountain from Italy, for example the Appenines, and bring them here, rather than the Pope to come here. For the first time in History. Popes had come at other times, but as captives. Rituals were performed in the Patriarchal temple; I received him in my office, which you will see, and there we had another conversation and we agreed to one day meet, at that place where we had diverged.
» Up until 1054 we had many differences between us. In this thing, in that thing. The Filioque. It was inserted into the Creed in the 6th century and we had accepted it, for 6 whole centuries. And there are so many other differences. But we love each other. And when people love one another, there are no differences. But in 1054, when we ceased loving each other, all the differences befell us. We loved each other, and we had the same sacrament; the same baptism, the same sacraments and particularly the Holy Chalice. Now that we have returned to ’54, why don’t we also return to the Holy Chalice? There are two paths: The theological dialogue; and we have the theologians on both sides, who are studying the matter of returning to olden times. And because I do not hinge my hopes on the theological dialogue – I really do not, and may the theologians here (who are quite a few) forgive me – that is why I prefer the dialogue of love. We should love one another! And what is happening today? A spirit of love is spreading above the Christians of East and West. We already love one another. The Pope said so: I acquired a brother, and I let him know him that I love him! I also said so: I have acquired a brother and I told him that I love him! When will this thing come? The Lord knows. We do not know. What I do know, is that it will come. I believe that it will come. Because it is not possible for it not to come, as it is already coming. Because already in America, you are giving communion to many people from the Holy Chalice, and it is a good thing that you are doing! The same is done here, when Catholics or Protestants come and ask for Communion, I offer them the Holy Chalice! And the same thing is done in Rome, and England, and France. It is already coming, by itself. But it must not come from the laity and the clergy. It must also be in accordance with the hierarchy and Theology. That is therefore why we strive to also have theologians with us, so that this major event of Pan-Christianity might come to be. And along with this major event, our dream of Pan-Humanity might also come to be. I have lived through seven wars. And I have seen much destruction, much blood being shed. And all wars are civil wars; they are wars between brothers… And your arrival here has reinforced that faith, that the grand and illustrious day of the Lord, that meeting in the same Holy Chalice, will come…”
3.
If we wanted to analyze this text in detail, it would require a tremendous amount of space. That is why we shall confine ourselves to certain basic observations. The interpretation of the Schism of 1054 most assuredly will not stand up to serious criticism, and it displays an ignorance or a distortion of History. Besides, the reposed Patriarch – as we can see from the text – was not…very fond of theologians; as for the dogmas, well, they can be stored (as he frequently proclaimed) in the “treasury” or even the “museum”. I will completely bypass the nondescript sentimentality of the text, with regard to the descriptions of his meeting with the Pope. In fact, I wonder why Athenagoras’ circles at times even bothered to condemn organizational pietism… Judging by the words of the Patriarch, it becomes more than obvious that “agreements” had been reached for the thenceforth-mutual course of Constantinople and Rome. Besides, sentimentalisms were more than enough for the coverage of the first few moments of their encounter…. Needless, also, for one expound what was said about the addition to the Creed (the Filioque). It is no wonder, therefore, that even before its commencement, the theological dialogue – or dialogue of faith – was subjected by the Patriarch to the dialogue of love; in other words, to amiable relations and sentimentalities. This is the form of “dialogue” on which the Patriarch also founds the “common Chalice”, the sacramental inter-communion which, according to his admission, had already become a status quo in 1971. We therefore wonder why the surprise, when the Immaculate Sacraments were offered to Papists in Ravenna recently, or in churches in Athens – as revealed by the letters recently published by the newspaper “Orthodox Press”. It is said, of course, that in Ravenna, a relative reminder was given to the Roman Catholics who were present. The question is, why the respective reminders by us humble priests were “observed” in Germany, whereas in Ravenna, they were not as effective! But, the reason is something else. After the agreement in Balamand (1993), everyone in the West came to believe that the union is a fact, and that consequently, sacramental inter-communion is absolutely natural.
Besides, according to the article published in the Press (see newspaper “Kathimerini”, edition of 16/06/02), His Holiness had linked Christian unity to the progress of European unity: “The co-existence in the same political-economic sphere of the European peoples”, he said, “who belong to the two Churches, will most assuredly contribute towards a closer rapprochement between them and will assist in the restitution of the unity that existed before the Schism.” Just that simply! Secular elements are being employed, to eliminate the internal, and purely ecclesiastic, prerequisite.
4.
Athenagoras’ spirit and his “course” has fenced in everyone, and even if they now wanted to, they would not dare circumvent it or at least amend it, because of our progressively blunted criteria and the relativizing and ideologizing of the Faith according to political models; the Faith, which has been rendered (by us) a mere sum of theoretical truths that permits compromises, and not seen as a demarcation of the event of “existence in Christ”. From the albeit limited experience that we have of the inter-Christian dialogues, we are, nevertheless, aware of the method implemented by the heterodox for decades now: the cultivation of personal relations and a climate of (secular) friendship amongst theologians, through all the means available, but also the provision of financial support (in fact, several of our metropolitans believe they should take pride in recording their gratitude towards the World Council of Churches or the Vatican for the financial support given to their Institutions), for the purpose of blunting and weakening every disposition for witness and confession. This has been going on for decades now. A complete predominance of secular and political practices.
It is along the same spirit that the Leadership of the Church of Greece has been moving; in fact, it has even been using the same pretext: “We are holding a dialogue”, they claim, “we are not changing our faith”! And certainly the dialogue as a “loving outlet” towards the other (as the ecumenists say in their language) is a blessed thing, however, in this case, the dialogue has long since been understood as a “mutual recognition” and not a genuine meeting in the Truth, i.e., in the one Christ, as delivered to us in the words and the lives of our Saints. This here constitutes “Uniatism”. This “Uniatizing” stance is one that even accommodates our own attitudes, inasmuch as a recognition of non-Christianity as Christianity (and of Papism -for example- as a Church) would be a pretext and an illusion on our part of the continuance of our Tradition, given that, formally and externally, we would not actually be denying our Faith and our Tradition. The problem however, is, if we were to attribute Christianity and Orthodoxy to any fallacy whatsoever, will our Truth be preserved? “What communion can there be, between light and darkness?” (Cor.II, 6:14)  
As an excuse for this stance (of ours), they are projecting a supposed concern for the preservation of Christianity in Europe, since the anti-Christian politics of the powers that be in the European Union is increasing dangerously and threateningly and the European Constitution that is being drafted contains no mention whatsoever of Europe’s Christian legacy. And up to this point, things seem feasible. The question, however, is: By allying with Papism and supporting it as a Church, which Christianity would we be preserving? Are we to sacrifice Orthodoxy, in order to preserve Papism? God forbid! What use would Europe have of this kind of “Christianity”? Isn’t Europe’s (and not only!) overall historical wretchedness (ideological, social and political) rooted in the distortion that Christianity was subjected to, with the development and the establishment of the Papal edifice? If Papism doesn’t “die”, with its repentance in Christ and its return to the one Church of Christ – in other words, if Papism doesn’t become a Church – it will only be offering an adulterated Christianity to Europe and the world. Then, instead of preaching the Orthodoxy of our Fathers to a spiritually half-dead Europe, we will end up being pathetic crutches, of Papism and of the State of Vatican, thus repeating the crime that our “Byzantine” fathers had committed in 1438. We had then been invited by the anti-papist Roman Catholics to the Synod of Basle (1431 – 1437/8), in their attempts to overthrow the oppressive papist yoke. We, instead, had preferred to accept Pope Eugene IV’s invitation (1431-1447), who, with the Ferrara-Florence synod, was trying to salvage his authority. And we chose to side with the Pope, thus supporting Papism, and woe betide us, if we hadn’t been rescued (from most assuredly becoming Franks ourselves) by saint Mark and the “obstinate” monks and clerics of “Byzantium”. Thus, instead of projecting the Orthodoxy of our Fathers in Europe, our stance will only be strengthening a Papism that has begun to crumble in the conscience of Europeans, by acknowledging it as Christian and as a Church. It appears that the Babylonian captivity that Athenagoras’ course has led us into, is insurmountable.  However, whatever is going on in the inter-Christian dialogue, also applies to our inter-faith policy. And here, the “course” is long since a given fact, and a pre-determined one. In the above homily addressed to the orthodox priests of emigrant Hellenes, the Patriarch Athenagoras expressed his conviction that “with the union of the Churches, we shall be moving towards a pan-humankind.” This was made even more clear in 1972 (newspaper “BEMA”, 22/8/1972 edition), by the former Archbishop of America Iakovos, who had also co-presided over the World Council of Churches: “..the W.C.C. is moving towards the realization of its goal, through the merging of cultures, religions and peoples.” Furthermore, in an interview of his for the magazine “NEMESIS” (November 1999 issue), he actually expressed his disappointment, because that objective of the W.C.C. was taking far too long to accomplish. The reason for the existence of the W.C.C. was none other, finally, than the New Age’s Pan-Religion – a purpose that has now been fully clarified in our time. We would like to ask all those “high-flying love-mongers and lyrically idealizing (to quote fr. John Romanides) colleagues”: Can this self-inflicted subjugation of Orthodoxy to a multi-membered and polyonymous deception really be considered a ‘love outlet’ towards others? Naturally, it is not the Orthodoxy of our Fathers that is being subjugated; it is our own cacodoxy-simulating-Orthodoxy, which is already subjugated to our passions (our interests etc.).
But even here, we are faithfully following the “course” of the 2nd Vatican Synod, which Athenagoras had also followed faithfully. This Synod had proclaimed that the three large monotheist religions (faiths) all believe in the same God, thus facilitating the dialogue and the course towards the union and the inter-faith realm. I ask to be forgiven for repeating something that I have already said in another circumstance: When, in 1969, I had gone to (then West) Germany and in fact in Bonne, I found myself in an environment where the decisions and the positions of the 2nd Vatican Synod prevailed. The Protestant world (my contacts were with Lutherans), despite any opposition to Papism that it had, was nevertheless in accord with this opening towards the major religions, because that was exactly what the underlying pan-religious movement was promoting. In a seminar on Patrology (in a Lutheran environment), a discussion on the various religions’ belief in the same God came up. At that moment, I became conscious of my Hellenic element, so I resorted to Socrates’ method and asked them: “How many suns are there in our world?” With a smile of condescendence, they replied: “One, of course.” “No,” I continued, “because, how is it possible for me to look directly at the Sun here in Germany, whereas in Greece, if I look directly at it, I will be blinded?” So, I concluded, that the Sun is indeed one, but it differs, depending on the manner and the circumstances that we view it. The same applies to God. He is One, but every religion, just as every Christian group, views Him in its own manner. Thus, depending on the manner that God is viewed (this is called theology), we have a different God in each group. Patristic Orthodoxy, however, is the coinciding of our knowledge of God, with God’s self-revelation in History. The objective of “faith” – God’s self-revelation in His Saints (the “believed faith”) – must coincide with our view and acceptance of God (the “believing faith”). This is the point where Orthodoxy mainly differs from any heresy and fallacy.
6.
The inter-faith meetings and common prayers had commenced officially in 1986, in Assisi of Italy; therefore, they are not just scientific conventions of a religious content; they are actually congregations for the confession of a unity, on the basis of the One God, and are convened around the Pope, with him at the center and as spiritual leader of this union – in effect, of all the world. This is why the Pope was called “World Ruler No.2”. It must be stated, that head of our patriarchal delegation in 1986 was the Rev. Metropolitan Methodios (Fouyias) of Pisidia (today), while in Assisi in 1994, it was His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios (Yannoulatos) of Albania. A new, pan-(inter-)faith meeting took place under the Pope this year (2002), once again in Assisi, with the participation of 250 personalities representing 12 religions. Of course the Orthodox were not absent, who were under the same Ecumenical Patriarch.
As it has very aptly been observed, “the inter-faith dialogues appear to be fully compliant to the views and the practices with which syndicated members, politicians and ideologies converse nowadays.” (Chr. Yannaras). Moreover, after the 11th of September 2001 and whatever that date signifies for our world, it became more than evident that those dialogues are conducted “under orders” and in fact, in defense -and for the propagandizing- of official and legal terrorism, versus the unofficial and “rebel” one. Thus, our era makes a mockery even of the religious dialogues, which are working together for the policing of the world according to the interests and the dispositions of the powerful ones of the Earth. And we, obedient to the instructions and to the “set course” participate and convert Orthodoxy into an instrument and a rear guard. Thus, we ourselves are gagging Orthodoxy, which, instead of being the “judgment” and the “checking” of iniquity, is transformed, in our person, into its supporter and maintainer. And of course here, there is the easy excuse: So that we are not characterized as reactionaries, and so that our European (and New Order) profile be enhanced! Thus, the search for religious tolerance, wherever it may have slackened or vanished, as “an essential component of monotheist beliefs” (A.D.Papayannides, “BEMA” newspaper, 9.6.02 edition) would have been a blessing, if it wasn’t in fact for meetings taking place “under orders”. The upcoming but postponed Athens inter-faith meeting (it was preceded, by another one, in Cyprus) will prove just how much it is going to be “a deposition of our witness” and Orthodoxy being proposed as the only solution to the ordeals of the world, and not a levelling of Orthodoxy within the pan-religious (and hence syncretistic) pulp. The Head of the Bureau of our Church has already announced that our endeavor is “to prepare the people, to educate them, so that they do not react (to the dialogues, that is); to shape (in other words, to manipulate – G.D.M.) the conscience of the people.” Therefore, even here, a certain “set course” is being followed; but who is designating it? And yet, the admonitory “Memorandum on Ecumenism” by a pleiad of Clergymen, Priors, Spiritual Fathers and noted Orthodox theologians that was submitted to Archbishop Christodoulos was not accepted. In it, we read the following:
“Inter-faith Ecumenism is rampant. It is not confined to the limits of a philosophical or social dialogue (author’s note: i.e., the dialogue is not rejected as a “love outlet” etc.). It is moving on to a theological level, and is trying to find common points of faith between Orthodox and heterodox. It is not taking into consideration the basic differences. It is proclaiming that salvation can also be found in the other religions, and in fact in the monotheistic ones. It is thus overthrowing the fundamental Christian belief that “salvation is not found within anything else…”. Inter-faith syncretism is relativizing the truth of the Gospel. It is even going as far as the level of worship. Orthodox Hierarchs or even Head Hierarchs are participating in pan-religious events like the one in Assisi, or in common prayers and glorifications with heterodox and other faiths, and specifically with Jews and Moslems. One can only wonder: which God are they glorifying? The Holy Apostles preached in the Synagogues, but they preached “Jesus Christ and Him crucified, which is why persecutions, imprisonments, torture and death ensued…”.
We, on the contrary, by levelling Christ in practice, with all sorts of deities, are reaping honors and praise, enjoying distinctions and awards. That alone shows that “something is not right” with us. The world “loves its own” (John 15, 19) and we are also identifying with the powers of the world, when we love “rather the glory of people, above the gloy of God” (John 12, 43).
In the inter-faith dialogues, we encounter the same haste, the same mentality and the same methods that are also observed in the conducting of the inter-Christian dialogues. Because, finally, it is all about the same objective. The inter-embracing of these two forms of the one, same-in-essence dialogue became evident in Canberra, Australia (Ζ΄ Γ. W.C.C. Convention), where the Christians had invited even idolaters into common prayer. This, obviously, is not a case of religious tolerance and a “love outlet” etc., but a relativizing of faith, as connoted by the statement of the person responsible for these dialogues, the Rev. Metropolitan Damascenos of Switzerland: “This approach”, he writes, “causes us to suddenly acquire an awareness of the fact that, deep down, one Church or one Mosque…aspire to the same spiritual awarding of Man.” Isn’t this an automatic dismissal of salvation in Christ and the task of the Holy Spirit? If there is, indeed, a possibility of salvation “in something else”, then why the revelation in Christ, as non-incarnate in the Old Testament and incarnate in the New Testament? Why the Incarnation, the Pentecost, the Church as the Body of Christ and the community of Saints? Our actions constitute a rejection of Christianity – despite our misleading fancy talk – that can no longer fool anyone.
7.
Given that one’s word is always a “course”, we must not forget that in 1970 in Geneva, where the “oracle” of every anti-Christian, anti-Orthodox contrivance is situated, during the second convention of the American Foundation with the title “Temple of Understanding, Inc.” – in other words, an “Association of United Religions” – the Secretary General of the W.C.C. Eugene Blake invited the leaders of all religions (April 2nd) and a supra-confessional liturgy and prayer took place in the Cathedral of Saint Peter, during which, each one prayed in his own language and in accordance with the rite of his own religion. However, all of them were urged to thus co-exist in the worship of the same God. But this is clearly a faithful implementation of the Masonic method of transcending every ideology and faith in order to attain union, and in fact under the master of this world. According to the existing advertising material of these congregations, also present were Orthodox representatives; the Rev. Metropolitan Emilianos of Silyvria of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – currently inactive and residing in Aegion – is a member of the “International Committee of the Temple”.
And yet, all of these things have been replied to, in the Holy Gospel, which refutes all our pretenses. When the ecumenists reject us as “fanatics” and “fundamentalists”, they are simultaneously rejecting our Saints (whose stance we humbly emulate), but also the Lord Himself, Who, not desirous of gathering followers by sacrificing the Truth whenever His word was regarded as “harsh” and was abandoned by many, had turned to the terrified “twelve” and asked them: “Do you perhaps also want to leave?” (John 6:48 etc). This, dear “love-mongers” and idealizers, is our “set course”, and not the “course” of those who have capitulated with the potentates of this world, and those who are not our genuine Pastors.
 
8.
It must, however, be regarded as certain that the deviation by our Leaders from the “set course” of Orthodoxy – the “little flock” (Luke 12,32) – will not be tolerated for very long by the powers of the World, inside and outside the Church (see Acts 20, 29, etc.)
The theory of Propaganda teaches that the method pursued in these cases is firstly to mock all those who have a contrary opinion (all of us are already looked upon as “picturesque”), and then to morally demote and humiliate them, to be followed afterwards –if so decided- by their physical annihilation. The principles governing the indictment against reactionaries are already being compiled. Very recently, the American Congress prohibited all characterisms of other ideologies, and especially of other religious groups as “heretics” or such like. Albeit in somewhat gentler fashion, the Orthodox (through the Press and literary criticism) are censured if they dare to characterize “others” (based on their faith), on the basis of the implied and not concealed factor that all religions constitute a path towards the knowledge of God, in a different way. This is what noted ecclesiastic Leaders have proclaimed.
It is not broadly known, of course, that some time ago, the authors of the Religious Studies book for 1st year high school students (I.Ch.Gotsis, fr. G.Metallinos and G.Filias) were served with an extrajudicial warning from “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and “Scientologists” for the related chapters of that book, which, naturally, view those areas from an Orthodox perspective. The warning was sent to the Ministry of National Education and Religions as well as the Pedagogical Institute. We of course responded, but we are unaware of the outcome. However, the adventure related to the chapter on Masonry is a more familiar one. Given that the lot fell to the undersigned to author that chapter, I experienced in detail every move and method, but also all the pressures that were employed for the removal of that chapter, so that I had to re-compose it three times and finally suggest that a self-description of Masonry be first submitted, and then be accompanied by a parallel, Orthodox view of it. What was even more comically tragic, however, was that those chapters were provided by the Analytical Program of the Ministry (the Pedagogical Institute) itself, which (Analytical Program) even designated the lines that we had to go along. Thus, the question is: Who, finally, rules this land? Of course we already know the answer, in great detail; however, it is up to the Ministry to elucidate whether we as a Nation can withstand these applied pressures.
With our (willing and enthusiastic) transformation into a “prefecture” and not a “province” of the European Union – the latter being the assignee and a “special branch” of the New World Order and its leadership – it is becoming evident, more and more ostentatiously and openly, that it is defining our lives and behaviors through various channels, by transfusing into them its own mentalities, by thousands of means. 
Recently, our Department (of Theology) received a document (to be precise, an unsigned one), originating from the University personnel responsible for the European programs, in which, although we were commended for our successful response to a program that was suggested to us, titled “Orthodoxy and Globalization”, our Program was nonetheless judged as “inadequate”, because, among other things, “it was observed that the program in general was of a confessional and mostly of an applied nature, without aligning itself with the broader program of studies on religious phenomena and of Religion as a pan-human phenomenon and reality.” And this, despite the fact that the scientific perspective of Religion was not missing from our Program (a special professor teaches it). But the purpose was to project the “confessional” character of our Department and our Theological Schools in general. This means that in a few years’ time, our Theological Schools (if they manage to survive in the University) will be turned into scientific courses. That is why attempts are being made to render the Schools of Theology under the jurisdiction of the Church’s Administration. When I refer to our “sovietizing” within the European Union, I mean this: Whatever the other Orthodox had lived through, during their soviet-communist period, we Hellenes also risk living through, in the European Union and the New World Order.
This is the course that is being designated. Our freedom is being dangerously confined and we are instructed to act and move “in obeisance to their laws” and on the basis of the “course” that was carved out decades ago. Differently, we shall be deprived of a “European persona” and there will be no room for us as free co-partners within Europe. Is our Ecclesiastic Leadership prepared to resist, and choose «the scorn of Christ, towards the treasures in Europe» (Hebr.11:26), especially when it comes to realistic treasures, in the guise of European funds? Is our Church willing and prepared -if necessary- to choose the catacombs? I pray that she will be! Although this will soon become apparent. But if she is not willing, then it will mean She is severing Herself from the pious flock that has remained faithful to the tradition of its Saints, and is betraying it.  We have become accustomed to regarding obedience as a supreme virtue of a practicing Orthodox; and it is, indeed, a standard practice of our Saints. If, however, “obedience” had always pertained “to those in which the commandment of God is not obstructed” –according to Basil the Great (P.G. 31,860)—nowadays, only disobedience saves!

Fr John Romanides on the Filioque .

THE FILIOQUE IN THE DUBLIN AGREED STATEMENT 1984 [ 1 ](Anglican Orthodox Dialogue, SPCK 1985)


© John S. Romanides
1. Since I was not at the Dublin meeting I am obliged to make the following observations to explain my disagreement with paragraphs 45 and 95 which contain inaccuracies and make no mention of the west Roman Orthodox Filioque.
2. In their 1054 excommunication of the Patriarch of Constantinople/New Rome the Latins [ 2 ] accused the East Romans [ 3 ] of having “deleted” the Filioque from the Nicene Creed. At the Council of Florence (1438-1439) they claimed that the East Romans always had accepted the Filioque in the Creed of Rome, at least since the time of Maximus the Confessor (7th century), till Photius (9th century) began attacking the Filioque in the Creed for non theological reasons. They had evidently lost Frank Smaragdus’ minutes of the conversation in 810 between Charlemagne’s emissaries and Pope Leo III who protested that he had given the Franks permission to sing the Creed during mass, but not to add to it. Leo defended the Filioque outside the Creed. At the same time he posted the Creed without the Filioque on two silver plaques in defence of the Orthodox Faith. The plaques were still in place when the Germans were taking over the Papacy (983-1014). Why, how and when the Filioque had been added were subsequently forgotten.
3. The Roman Popes fully accepted the dogmatic and legal authority of all Roman Ecumenical Councils, including the eigth of 879 which condemned the Filioque in the Nicene Creed and annuled the Council of 869 by accepting the restoration of Photius as Patriarch of the New Rome. The Franks and Germans rejected this Council because it condemned their addition to the Creed. They of course could not accept Photius since he had been attacking their Filioque. So they continued accepting the Council of 869.
4. The Saxons in Britain attached themselves firmly to the contemporary Roman traditions of both Romes. This tradition was interrupted by the Normans (1066) who supported the Latin Papacy. The Roman papacy had been abolished by the Germans a half century earlier. The 869 Council thus became the Latin papacy’s eighth ecumenical and still is. The struggle for the control of the Latin papacy between the Germans and the Italo-Franks (in Italy since the 8th century) coincided with the Norman rise to international power by their simultaneous victories over the Saxons and Celts in Britain (1066) and over the Romans in South Italic Romania (1071) [ 4 ]. Williams the Conqueror firmly attached Britain to the new Latin papacy by replacing the Orthodox Bishops of Britain with Normans and other Latins, as was done by the Normans in south Italic Romania after the example of the Germans in Papal Romania. The Normans supported the Italo-Franks against the Germans for control of the papacy.
5. The council of 879 was suppressed in the West as all leaders united with the two Roman Romes were replaced by their conquerors and their collaborators. The Latins at Florence spoke of 869 as the eighth, and were short on memory on 879. The reformation churches in general let go all of all Roman and Latin ecumenical councils except the fourth and the Creed of the second with the Filioque still added. The council of Florence and its Filioque has survived as authority in the Latin papacy.
6. Neither the Roman papacy, nor the East Romans ever interpreted the council of 879 as a condemnation of the west Roman Filioque outside the Creed, since it did not teach that the Son is “cause” or “co-cause” of the existence of the Holy Spirit. This could not be added to the Creed where “procession” means “cause” of existence of the Holy Spirit. Neither Maximus the Confessor (7th century), nor Anastasius the Librarian (9th century) say that the west Roman Filioque “can be understood in an orthodox way,” as claimed by the DAS (45, 95). They both simply explain why it is orthodox. Also neither uses the term “EKFANSIS” in their texts (DAS 45). Maximus uses the Greek term “PROΪENAI” and, being a west Roman and Latin speaking, Anastasius uses “Missio”. Both point out that the Roman “procedere” has two meanings, “cause” and “mission”. When used as “cause”, like in the Creed, the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father. When used as “mission”, the Holy Spirit, proceeds from the Father and the Son as denoting the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father. All East Roman Fathers say the same, but do not use the term “EKPOREYSIS” to do so. This mission of the Holy Spirit is not servile, but free since he has the sane essence and its natural will, and by nature, from the father through/and the Son. Anastasius the Librarian, who was for a time pope, played an important role in the papacy’s preparations for the council of 879 in New Rome. One would have to either conclude that the Roman papacy from the time of Leo III (795-816) had become schezophrenic, both supporting and condemning the Filioque, or else come up with some such analysis as this writer has been proposing.
7. Not one West Roman Father ever said that the Son is either “cause” or “co-cause” of the Holy Spirit. This appears in Latin polemics and was promulgated as dogma at the council of Florence. This Filoque is a heresy, both as a theologoumenon and as a dogma. The Uniates accept this Filioque as a condition of being united to the Latin Papacy.
8. At this union council of Florence the East Romans insisted that the Latins remove the Filioque from the Creed and accept the teaching of the Fathers. The Latins unexpectedly sprung the Maximus text upon the council to prove that the “Greeks” had always accepted the Filioque in the Creed of Rome, but, since Photius, had changed their position for non doctrinal reasons. The East Romans picked up the text and made it their own. After it was shown and accepted that the text had been mistranslated, the East Romans proposed it as the basis of union. This they had already planned to do, but hesitated since the context of the text had not survived. Now the Latins themselves gave them the opening they were waiting for. But the Latins flatly refused and went on demanding that the East Romans accept the Son as one “cause” with the Father of the Holy Spirit’s existence. On how to determine the genuiness of the Latin manuscripts being used as proof texts, Mark of Ephesus suggested that only what is in agreement with Maximus’ description of the papal filioque should be accepted as genuine. But he did not agree that Latin aceptance of this text is sufficient for union, since there are other essential differences. Most of the East Romans finally accepted the Son as “one cause” with the Father and signed the union. Some like Mark refused. Neither Mark nor any of the others proposed a theologoumenon as “the” dogma of union, nor a kind of Filoque buried in a book. They had proposed the old west Roman Orthodox Filioque defended by such Popes as Leo III which is an integral part of the Orthodox tradition.
9. Anglicans in this dialogue have agreed that the Filioque should be removed from the Creed of 381 for reasons of contextual integrity. However, full contextual integrity would require a bit more than the reasons stated in the Moscow agreement 1976, repeated at Dublin (DAS 44). The council of 381 re-wrote the creed of Nicaea (325) mainly because its “HOMOOYSIOS” could not be accepted within context by the large and influential group of “HOMOOYSIANS” many of whom were fully Orthodox as supported by such Fathers as Athanasius the Great and Basil the Great. For them “HOMOOYSIOS” meant “consubstantial”. That the Father, Son, and Spirit are one essence, one substance, and three persons was the position of the heretical Sabellians. At this time substance and essence were still synonyms. All the Fathers of Nicaea accepted, like the “HOMOOYSIANS”, three substances in the trinity, but by using “HOMOOYSIOS” as meaning co-essential, this could mean one substance. Essence and substance were used interchangeably as in the case of Athanasius and in the Creed of Nicaea itself. There the Son is from the essence of the Father and in the anathemas of this same Creed substance and essence are evidently synonymous. When referring to identity and unity in the Holy Trinity all used terms to denote uncreated glory, such as “THEOTIS”, “ENERGEIA”, “CHARIS”, “AGAPI”, “DYNAMIS”, “THELIMA”, “VOYLISIS”, “KRATOS”, “VASILEIA”, etc. The Cappadokians had been proposing that one should speak of three substances and one essence in the Holy Trinity. At the council of Alexandria in 362 Athanasius and his bishops took note of the validity of such a distinction, but Athanasius went on using the terms interchangeably. Didymous the Blind seems to be the first Alexandrian to fully incorporate the Cappadocian distinction in his writings. Then the neo-Arian Eunomians were presenting a serious problem using the Nicaean phrase that the Son is from the essence of the Father as the proof that being thus caused he is a second essence created from non-being. Then three were the groups which refused the equality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son, either reducing Him to a common energy or a creature. Such problems were resolved by the Cappadocian distinction between three substances and one essence and the use of cause for the Father’s substance alone and not for his essence. In this way all ideas of emanation were also put aside. Thus in being the substantial cause of the existence of the Son and of the Holy Spirit the Father simultaneously gives them to have by nature his own essence with its natural glory. Thus the Son and the Holy Spirit are exactly everything that the Father is except Father. The Son is only Son since the only begotten and incarnate, and the Holy Spirit not begotten, but proceeding. The 381 council found these distinctions usefull in making clear the Church’s faith and opposing the current heresies as well as misunderstandings of the Nicaean “HOMOOYSIOS”. Now the three substances have one essence without this meaning they could thus be one substance. So the Creed was re-written and accepted by all Orthodox and many HOMOOYSIANS.
10. Ecumenical Councils were convened by the Emperors as Church senates to inform the government what the Church’s faith and practise are. The Emperor signed their decisions into law. The council of 381 included only East Roman Bishops invited by the Emperor. It was, nevertheless, elevated to ecumenical status both legally and ecclesiastically. The decisions of 381 were accompanied by an imperial edict listing the Bishops with whol all others are to be in agreement. The three Great Cappadokian Fathers had carried the Council. Basil the Great’s Friend, Gregory the Theologian, now archibishop of New Rome/Constantinople, presided over the council during part of its work. Basil’s brother, Gregory of Nyssa, was a main force behind the composition of the Creed, as is evident from his being listed in the imperial edict mentioned.
11. Augustine and every Bishop in the empire, including those in Britain, accepted “one essence, three substances” along with the Creed of 381. Otherwise they may have lost their jobs. Neither Theodosius (379-395) nor his successors were to be taken lightly. This is the historical context of this council. Being a law abiding Roman, Augustine did the best he could, or the best he could get away with, to correct his already published “de Trinitate”, which was creating problems. Bishop Aurelius of Carthage commanded him to deliver the work. Augustine found it expedient to explain that he wanted to re-write it, but his manuscript was stolen and published by friends, who also opposed his further desire to re-write it. So he contented himself to correct it the best he could. Thus we find such Cappadocian gems as: “…most of ourselves who treat things in the Greek language are accustomed to say, “MIAN OYSIAN TREIS YPOSTASEIS”, or in Latin, “UNAM ESSENTIAM, TRES SUBSTANTIAS” (V, 8.10).” “…in order to meet the needs of argument … that so we may answer in one term when asked what three, and say three substances of three persons … in order that there be neither a confusion of persons, nor … any inequality. And if this cannot be grasped by the understanding, let it be held by faith … (VII, 6.12).” The Son “is born of his (Father’s) substance (XV, 19.37)” and is therefore, “substance of substance (XV, 20.38)” these are to be compared with his prior rejection of the Holy Spirit as a substance and his insistence that he is the “THEOTIS”, love nad grace which unites Father and Son and that the individuality of the Holy Spirit had not yet been determined. In any case Augustine seems to have understood that to accept the Creed of 381 meant accepting 1) The reasons for re-writing the Creed of Nicaea, 2) The theology and terminology of the Fathers who wrote the Creed during the council sessions, and 3) The Fathers listed in the edict as guides to its understanding. This is the contextual integrity of this Creed and why Augustine switched from “one substance, three persons” to “three substance/persons, one essence”. Thus the so-called “byzantinization” of the West Romans in Medieval Italy had already been accomplished in antiquity by a Spaniard Roman who fought the picts in Britain at his Father’s side and was now Emperor in New Rome/Constantinople.
12. All the doctrinal and terminological parts of the west Roman Filioque are both complete and Orthodox: 1) Three persons/substances, with their substantial/personal properties, whereby the Father is cause without cause, the Son is caused by the Father via generation and the Holy Spirit is caused by the Father via procession, 2) The one essence with its natural glory from the Father to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. It is here that the west Roman term “procedere” has its second meaning of essential mission (“PROΪENAI”/missio), whereby the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and/through the Son, in no way to be confused with personal/substantial/hypostatic “procedere”. It is Augustine’s filioque alone which can be considered a theologoumenon, but an orthodox one, because of the confused manner in which he managed to adjust his already published works to conditions described in paragraphs 9-11. Augustine identified both generation and procession with the receipt of essence from the Father (De Trinitate XV, 26.47), which simply means he did not fully understand the imperial instructions he was trying to comply with. Given his own meaning of these terms he is perfectly correct.
13. The Anglican statements in DAS 46 cannot be understood within the context of the Creed of 381 until they are cast into the framework of what is common and individual in the Holy Trinity. To say that the Father and Son are one “fons deitatis” and “principium” is either to say not enough or far too much. Also to say that “one principle” “has not meant to imply that the Spirit proceeds from some undifferenciated divine essence (OYSIA) as opposed to the persons (YPOSTASEIS)” (DAS 46C ), is not clear within the context of the Greek terms being used. Essence and hypostaseis are distinguishable only by manner of existence, or dependence for existence. Otherwise the persons co-inhere and are essentially identical and equal and have each one all essential energies and powers in common. Augustine is correct in saying that the Father and the Son are one “principle,” of the Holy Spirit, since he means essential principle. His fellow fathers would complete this by saying, “and so the three are “one principle”.” The Cappadocian ingredient missing is substantial “principium” which belongs only to the Father. If one were a law abiding Roman one would then agree with Gregory of Nyssawho has written so much on the subject. In any case, having the cause of his existence from the Father the Holy Spirit simultaneously has his essence and its natural glory from the Father and./through the Son. If the Cappadocian filing system is not acceptable, then one should propose both another and another Creed.
14. Not one of those glorified has ever experienced anything common in the Father and Son which is not common also to the Holy Spirit. Nor are there any experiences of the Divine Essence, nor of emanations therein.
15. In plain and simple english the last sentence of paragraph 45 says that the followers of Bolotov hold that “the” Filioque may be held in the west as a theologoumenon, without specifying which of the three filioques. It seems to be assumed that this is valid for all of them. But this is not what Bolotov says. He defines a theologoumenon as a private opinion of a great ecumenical doctor of the undivided Church. This cannot, therefore, be extended to the Franks who added the Filioque to the Creed and thereafter, because of national pride, were forced, together with the other Latins, to develop such theological justifications that led to their heretical Filioque. These Latins are neither Fathers nor ecumenical doctors of the undivided Church. Even de-dogmatized and theologoumenized their Filioque is a heresy, because a rejection of the Cappadocian formulation incorporated into the Creed of 381 and so accepted by Augustine and all Roman Churches, east and west. They violated the experience of glorification of which commonality and individuality in the Holy Trinity is an experiential and not a speculative expression. Also the west Roman Orthodox Filioque is such an expression and not the private opinion of either Maximus the Confessor or Anastasius the Librarian. They both report it as the official position of the Roman papacy and of all Orthodox Churches in the west.
16. For centuries the east Romans identified Augustine’s Filioque with that of the Roman papacy as described by Maximus. Latin proof texts to the contrary were attributed to tampering with the manuscripts. This was a standard argument from the 9th century till the council of Florence (1438-1439). This was re-enforced by the tampered with Greek manuscripts the Latins produced at this council. Patriarch Gennadius Scholarius (1453-1456), who had been at Florence and was fluent in Latin, came to the conclusion that Augustine was responsible for the Florentine debacle because he had not been in agreement with the pre-Latin Roman papacy after all. Thus Augustine’s Filioque came to be considered heretical until now.
17. The Latin Filioque was developed, as it seems, in good faith, on the premise that its supposed inclusion in the Creed of Rome had been accepted as valid for several centuries, and then made an issue of for non doctrinal reasons. These positions were supported by even Cappadocian texts, which primarily and supposedly proved that the Filioque was not an addition, but a natural development of what was intrinsically already contained and so generally accepted, if not explicitly, at least by silence over the centuries. In view of this we should be obliged to do no more than to say in common that such premises and the theological and historical support of them was an unfortunate misunderstanding and therefore neither a valid position, nor a heresy, in the ordinary sense, but rather a mistake.
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FOOTNOTES
[ 1 ] Documentation is available in writter’s studies listed in captioned publication, pp. 69, 72 and 73.

[ 2 ] Latins: collective name for the peoples who conquered the west and central European Roman provinces, used Latin as their administrative and Church language, and ruled the vanquished as a nobility via their war-lords and bishops.

[ 3 ] East Romans: Romans in Eastern part of the Empire, not permanently conquered by these Latins, but by Arabsin the Middle East and North Africa (7th century) and by Turks in Asia Minor and the Balkans (11th-15th century). They were called only “Greeks” by these Latins supposedly for heresy, but in reality to erase them from the memory of the Romans under their rule. Today’s “historians” who stem intellectually from this Latin tradition call these Romans “Byzantines”, a people which never existed. Furthermore, in East Roman usage the name “Greek/Hellene” usually means “pagan”.

[ 4 ] Romania: Roman Empire; Papal States, in both Roman and Latin usage; real name of so-called “Byzantine” Empire.

 
© HydroGraphiX. “Romanity”.