Elder Ephraim of Arizona on suffering , the Jesus prayer and struggle .

Muster the powers of your soul when you suffer, and try to understand the purpose of suffering ( Elder Ephraim of Arizona )

In this world, my child, people are divided into good and bad, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, noble and lowborn, smart and not so smart. All, however, have one thing in common: suffering. For without exception all people will suffer in their life. As the maxim says: “It is a wonder if anyone has been happy throughout his life”. So then, all people live in the kingdom of suffering. We know that suffering is something personal, which one must face alone. It is his cross, which he must carry, just as the Savior of the world, Jesus, carried His cross for our sake.

So be at ease, my child, in the paternal hand, which at this time performs surgery on you by means of suffering, and be calm. Accept that God sends it to you, reconcile yourself with suffering, so that you will be able to face it. I know how difficult this is, but also how beneficial for your salvation. The saints rejoiced in their afflictions; let us at least accept ours with patience, and God will not forget even this miniscule, voluntary patient acceptance of His will, which is represented by suffering.

My child, muster the powers of your soul when you suffer, and try to understand the purpose of suffering, through which God opens heaven for you. Do you think that He Who numbers the hairs of your head does not know the measure of your suffering? Yes, He knows it. Therefore be at rest, trusting in our heavenly Father. Do not grow weary; with our Christ’s help you will pass through everything, and will also become His heir in the boundless fortune of our common Father. Amen.

Elder Ephraim of Arizona

Copyright Elder Ephraim of Arizona.

The name of Jesus Christ, which we invoke in prayer, contains within it self-existing and self-acting restorative power.

So do not worry about the imperfection and dryness of your prayer, but with perseverance await the fruit of the repeated invocation of the Divine Name.

Elder Ephraim of Arizona

My children, whatever grievous thing the devil, the enemy of our souls,reminds you of, make an effort to drive it away immediately without delay,for every delay brings about unfavorable consequences.

The devil is completely vanquished with prayer and vigilance. The essence of watchfulness consists of being sleeplessly vigilant with the nous, pitting it against the passionate thoughts and fantasies of the vile demons.

On this depends life or death, degradation or improvement. In other words, a soul that prays noetically and loathes and scorns the various evil thoughts is purified and sanctified with time.

Elder Ephraim of Arizona

Copyright Elder Ephraim of Arizona .

On “Partial Ecclesiastical Communion,” the Dominant Theory Behind Contemporary Ecumenism Excerpt from: The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II by Archpriest Peter Heers

The basis for modern Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, the decree [on Ecumenism of Vatican II] established the principle of real, if imperfect, communion between Christians and their churches and communities. – by John Long, S.J.

The idea of partial communion, so central to the new ecclesiology, is inconsistent with this understanding of the organic unity of the Church. Once again, in this regard as well, Vatican II was not a return to the patristic vision of the Church, but rather a further step away from it. As Metropolitan Kallistos Ware has written: “The Bible, the Fathers or the Canons know of only two possibilities: communion and non-communion. It is all or nothing. They do not envisage any third alternative such as ‘partial intercommunion.’” [1] Father Georges Florovsky likewise points out that in the patristic view of the Church “there was simply the question of ‘full communion,’ that is, of membership in the Church. And there were identical terms of this membership for all.” [2]

The identification of “full membership” with “membership in the Church”— a membership based on identical terms for all— could not come into more direct opposition to the heart of the new ecclesiology, which is based upon the possibility of there being degrees of membership in the Body of Christ. This idea stems from the acceptance of a division of the Mysteries from each other and from the Mystery of the Church as a whole. They suppose that Baptism can exist outside the unity of the Church and the other mysteries, mechanically, as it were, imparting membership to those who receive it in separation.

However, just as the Eucharist “is indissolubly bound to the whole content of faith, and likewise to the visible structure of the Church,” [3] so too is Baptism. And, just as “those who advocate intercommunion on the basis of ‘Eucharistic ecclesiology’” treat the Eucharist “too much in isolation (ibid.),” those who advocate a partial communion on the basis of a “common Baptism” likewise consider Baptism too much in isolation. While putting forth Baptism as a point of unity, they fail to realize that, apart from unity in faith and unity in the bishop, unity in a “common Baptism” is impossible. Just as communing together in the Holy Eucharist cannot compensate for, let alone create, unity in faith (ibid.), so too sharing the typos of Baptism (if it is actually shared) cannot create ecclesiastical unity or even a so-called “partial” unity.

Moreover, just as the Eucharist is celebrated and received locally and visibly, such that the separation of the heterodox from participation in the Eucharist is likewise visible and local, so too is Baptism performed in the local Eucharistic Synaxis, from which the heterodox are necessarily excluded. The One Church does not exist as an abstract idea, but is manifested visibly in time and space as the local Church. “One cannot be baptized into the Catholic Church without belonging at the same time to a local Church,” [4] for the local Church, “as an ‘organism,’ a sacramental body, is not a ‘part’ or a ‘member’ of a wider universal organism. It is the very Church itself.” [5] Likewise, one cannot be baptized into the “Catholic Church” of Christ without being in communion with all of the members of the Body, for Christ, the Head of the Church, is inseparable from all of His members. “Why,” asks St. John Chrysostom, “letting go the Head, dost thou cling to the members? If thou art fallen off from it, thou art lost.” [6] Whether one falls from the Head or from the Body, the result is the same: he has lost both the one and the other.


“The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honoured by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter” (Lumen gentium 15). Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church” (Unitatis redintegratio 3). With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound “that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist” (Paul VI, Discourse, 14 December 1975; cf. Unitatis redintegratio 13-18). – The Catholic Catechism


There is, therefore, no basis to suppose, as proponents of Unitatis Redintegratio and the new ecclesiology do, that “despite divisions and mutual condemnations all communities of the baptized . . . are in communion,” [7] even if only partially. Communion is one both vertical and horizontal, both with God and among men, both between the Head and His Body, and it is full and only full: “being complete here and complete there also.” [8] The Lord shows no partiality, but distributes the gifts to all alike within the Body. Once united, all become a single house, all are related and brothers in Christ. Just as there can be no partial Christ, there can be no partial communion in Christ, for the Body of communion, “which is his body, [is] the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1: 23). From the moment one is a member, the communion he enjoys in Christ is full, for Christ only gives Himself fully. Whether or not he fully actualizes this self-offering of Christ is not an institutional but an individual issue, and that within the Body.

Whether we speak of one Mystery or another, of Baptism or the Eucharist, one and the same Christ is offering Himself to man, uniting man to Himself. This unity with God is accomplished in the mysteries, all of which have certain presuppositions, first of all, and common to all, unity in faith. That is why what Fr. Dimitru Staniloae insists upon, and warns against, with regard to the Eucharist and “intercommunion” is equally true of Baptism and “partial communion”:

“Ecclesiastical unity, unity in faith, and unity in the Holy Eucharist are all three inseparable and interdependent for the total communion and life in Christ. Consequently, the Orthodox Church cannot accept “intercommunion,” which separates communion in the Holy Eucharist from unity in faith and ecclesiastical unity. More correctly, “intercommunion” is a danger which threatens to destroy the Church, break up the unity of faith and [communion in] the Holy Eucharist [among the Orthodox].” [9]

So, too, the Orthodox Church cannot accept “partial” or “incomplete” communion in a “common Baptism,” for there can be no division between the Mysteries and the Mystery and between Christ in the Mysteries and Christ in whom we believe and trust, whom we confess, and in whom we have our being, our unity. Therefore, the acceptance of an “incomplete communion” between the Church and the heterodox is, like intercommunion in the Eucharist, a grave danger to the unity of the body of Christ. The body of the Church is joined together with the Lord such that, as St. John Chrysostom has written, even the slightest division, the slightest “imperfection” or “incompleteness,” would eventually bring the dissolution of the entire body. ~

Read more here


[1] Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, Communion and Intercommunion: A Study of Communion and Intercommunion Based on the Theology and Practice of the Eastern Church (Minneapolis: Light and Life, 1980), 16.

[2] Fr. Georges Florovsky, “Terms of Communion in the Undivided Church,” in Intercommunion. The Report of the Theological Commission Appointed by the Continuation Committee of the World Conference on Faith and Order together with a Selection from the Material Presented to the Commission, ed. D. Baillie and John Marsh (London, 1952), 50, as quoted in Ware, Communion and Intercommunion, 16– 17. Professor George Galitis is also quoted by Ware in the same vein, that in the ancient Church “there is only communion and non-communion” (G. Galitis, The Problem of Intercommunion with the Heterodox from an Orthodox Point of View: A Biblical and Ecclesiological Study [in Greek] [Athens, 1966], 24– 25.) It is important to note that Fr. Georges Florovsky, whose views are often cited in support of versions of theories of baptismal theology-ecclesiology, quite early on explicitly qualified his scholarly musings on the views of St. Augustine and stated that the Saint’s views were “no more than a ‘theologoumenon,’ a doctrine set forth by a single Father.” Likewise, he urged the Orthodox to take it into account, not for its own sake or on its own terms, and certainly not as it has been played out within Latin theology, but simply as one view that can aid in the formation of a “true ecumenical synthesis.” Indeed, Fr. Florovsky lamented that the Orthodox have too often expounded upon the doctrine of the sacraments using the Roman model, without any creative or transforming adoption of St. Augustine’s conception. On the contrary, Fr. Florovsky formally and firmly rejected the theory of primordial unity in a common Baptism as is stressed by Roman Catholicism, explaining that it, like the Protestant branch theory, glosses over and minimizes the scandal of “dis-union,” which for him was to be faced forthrightly and explained in terms of “the true [Orthodox] Church and secessions.” Florovsky stressed the unity of the mysteries, especially the first three, and hence thought less in terms of regeneration linked to Baptism than of incorporation into the common Body of Christ in the Eucharist. See Andrew Blane, Georges Florovksy, Russian Intellectual and Orthodox Churchman (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997), 311– 17.

[3] Ware, Communion and Intercommunion, 20.

[4] Ware, Communion and Intercommunion, 23.

[5] Schmemann, “Unity, Division, Reunion.”

[6] PG 62.344.36: Τί τοίνυν τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀφεὶς, ἔχει τῶν μελῶν; ἐὰν ἐκεῖθεν ἐκπέσῃς, ἀπόλωτας.

[7] Jorge A. Scampini, “We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins,” address given at the Faith and Order Plenary Commission in Kuala, Malaysia, July 28– August 6, 2004. It is significant to note that Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint (par. 42), linked this idea of deep communion in spite of division to “baptismal character,” thus following faithfully the precedent established by Congar, Bea, and Vatican II: “The very expression separated brethren tends to be replaced today by expressions which more readily evoke the deep communion— linked to the Baptismal character— which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions. Today we speak of “other Christians,” “others who have received Baptism,” and “Christians of other Communities.” . . . This broadening of vocabulary is indicative of a significant change in attitudes. There is an increased awareness that we all belong to Christ.”

[8] PG 63.131.39, Saint John Chrysostom, Homily on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 17.6.

[9] Dimitru Staniloae, Γιὰ ἕναν Ὀρθόδοξο Οἰκουμενισμὸ [Toward an Orthodox Ecumenism] (Athens, 1976), 29.

On the Essential Identity of Ecumenism and Phyletism ​By Archpriest Peter Heers

As Fr. Seraphim Rose once wrote, the difference between Orthodoxy and heterodoxy is most apparent in that the Orthodox Church (in Her Saints) is able to discern the spirits. Moreover, discernment of the methods of the fallen spirits is a requirement in the formation of Christology and Ecclesiology. As the Evangelist John writes, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Insomuch, therefore, as one is purified from the passions and illumined by the Spirit of God, so much is his spiritual vision open and discernment acquired. This gift of discernment, the greatest of the virtues, presupposes initiation into the death, resurrection and life in Christ which is lived within His Body, the Church. That few Orthodox Christians possess a good measure of this gift is a testament to the inroads of the spirit of anti-Christ, which, by another name, is secularism. The end of the worldly spirit is the denial of the theanthropic nature of the Christ and His Body, “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” before the ascent of the man of iniquity, the Antichrist. This temptation is coming upon the world primarily through the spread of the ecclesiological heresy known as ecumenism.

Ecumenism and Secularism

Ecumenism as an ecclesiological heresy and denial of the Truth of the Body of Christ, and as a methodological distortion of The Way of Christ, has been born and bred within a secularized “Christianity.” As we said, secularism is first and foremost the spirit of antichrist, which is “already in the world,” namely, “every spirit which confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” This refers not only to that “Christianity” which expressly denies the divinity of our Lord, the various contemporary “Arianisms,” but every spirit which denies that the Jesus Christ is come – that is, has come and remains – in the flesh, in His Body, the One Church.

Ecumenism as a unification movement ironically seeks to overcome the scandal of division by denying the “scandal of the particular” – the Incarnation. Instead of crucifying their intellect on the cross of this scandal – that Christ entered and continues within history in a particular time and place, being mysteriologically-incarnationally ‘here’ and not ‘there’ – the uninitiated and rationalist followers of Jesus seek a theanthropic Body in their image: “divided in time,” in search of a fullness which they imply exists only on the heavenly plane. They see the Church as divided on the historical plane, as limited by the heavy hand of history. They see as Church identifiers not primarily the exclusive marks of oneness, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity taken together, but rather the externals which “already unite,” such as the water of baptism (whether sprinkled, poured or immersed), the rites of the Liturgy, the belief in Christ’s divinity or the common text of Holy Scripture. It matters little that such externals, and indeed much more, were possessed by ancient heretics such as the Monophysites or Iconoclasts and were never seen as sufficient to produce any sort of “partial communion” or “already existing unity.” Neither does it seem to faze them that “the demons believe and tremble” and thus “unity in belief in Christ’s divinity” would necessarily include the demons.

This new ecclesiology, this new vision of the Church, or, rather, of Christ Himself as Head and Body, might be characterized as ecclesiological Nestorianism, in which the Church is divided into two separate beings: on the one hand the Church in heaven, outside of time, alone true and whole, and on the other hand, the Church, or rather “churches,” on earth, in time, deficient and relative, lost in history’s shadows, seeking to draw near to one another and to that transcendent perfection, as much as is possible in the weakness of the impermanent human will.

They apparently don’t realize, however, that in denying the manifest Oneness of Christ in a particular time and place on earth, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, they are also denying He is come in the flesh. They seek to forge a Church from disparate elements or recognize an already existing but “divided” Church in place of the One Church, a body in place of the God-man’s Body which is come, and in this reveal they are of the spirit of antichrist (lit. that which is put in place of Christ).

Phyletism and Secularism

Strangely, what is often seen as opposed to ecumenism, or even the heresy ecumenism is meant to correct, Phyletism, is a kindred spirit with ecumenism and born and bred within the same spiritual milieu: secularism.

As with the heresy of ecumenism, the phyletist sees the Church as limited by and within history, as identified not firstly or as much by the exclusive marks of oneness, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity as by one’s ethnic identity and its past. The aim of the Church here is not the salvation of all men from sin and death but the salvation of their ethnic identity and nation. With phyletism, as with ecumenism, the hierarchy is lost, discernment misplaced or non-existent, as to what is first and what follows in terms of our identity, with the secondary and tertiary taking the lead.

Phyletism was the necessary precursor to ecumenism, the pendulum swung to the right so that momentum could be built up for the great swing to the left and the ensuing apostasy. It was necessary also that a straw man be created in place of Patristic Orthodox ecclesiology so that legitimate opposition to the new ecclesiology could be easily marginalized and lumped together with the various “isms” on the right. Ecumenism is supposed to come as a corrective to phyletism, but paradoxically it can be, and often is, reconciled “peacefully” with phyletism.

For example, when one views his church as essentially identified with his tribe he readily accepts that his neighbor’s tribe must also have a national church (to the worldly minded it matters not whether it is “fully” orthodox or “partially” heterodox). Only in this context can one make sense of such phenomena in the West as the immigrant who sees no problem with his own children going to the local heterodox community since they have “become Americans” and go to the “American church.” Only when one understands that the phyletists identify the Theanthropic Body of Christ with their language and their culture can he begin to grasp why they prefer to lose their very own children and let their parish die with them, rather than change one iota of these transitory aspects (Matt. 24:35).

Ecumenism and Phyletism: Two Sides of the Same Coin of Secularism

Far from being enemies or correctives of each other, ecumenism and phyletism are rather two sides of the same coin of secularism. Both deny the catholicity of the One Church and both seek to recognize in its place a “divided” Church, whether it be along ethnic or denominational lines. Both reduce the Church to the sociological and historical level, placing it at the service of the fallen world as opposed to the service of man’s salvation from, and the overcoming of, the world, according to the words of the Lord: “[B]e of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

The greatest proof, however, that ecumenism and phyletism are possessed of the “spirit of antichrist” lies in their fruits. They work against the salvation of the world because they make the Church into the world, “thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Mat. 5:13). On the one hand, whether through tribalism or relativism, they deny the divine-humanity of the One Church, Her otherworldliness, Her power of the Cross (asceticism) which, if She “be lifted up” by it, draws all men toward Christ (Jn. 12:32). On the other hand, lacking the “magnet” of holiness and the theanthropic virtues, these two children of secularism deny to the heterodox the salvific “pricking” of the soul, what the Holy Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos called the “good uneasiness.” Speaking much of love, each in their own way (for nation or world), both are revealed as bereft of love for his neighbor’s salvation, for both leave him in his delusion and error, the one by erecting an ethnic roadblock, the other by denying him the narrow path.

First appeared at: http://anothercity.org/on-the-essential-identity-of-ecumenism-and-phyletism/

Copyright Orthodox Ethos.com Archpriest Peter Heers.

Behind the Sourozh Phenomenon: Spiritual Freedom or Cultural Captivity? Meletios Metaksakis, Metropolitan, Archbishop, Pope and Patriarch .

The recent deeply tragic events in the Sourozh Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate have pleased no-one, splitting small parishes and even families into two. Many believe that these events are closely connected with the reconciliation of the now free Patriarchal Church with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR).

The fact that the two parts of the Russian Church now see eye to eye on most essentials means that the minority modernism of the old Sourozh is now sidelined. Modernism does not reflect the spiritual freedom of Orthodoxy, but merely the cultural captivity of an ideology dependent on Western cultural prejudices. The old modernism simply does not fit in with the Patriarchate’s hopes for a new and united Russian Metropolia of Western Europe, the foundation of a future Local Church in Western Europe. Today, only under Constantinople does modernism stand a chance of survival. Hence the schism.

These tragic events have therefore once again focused attention on the extraordinary universalist and meddling pretensions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Where did these strange and novel ideas originate? When and why did the Patriarchate of Constantinople first claim a type of universal authority, deliberately misinterpreting Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon? When did it adopt its so divisive ecumenist and modernist stance, which is now once more splitting the Orthodox Church in the British Isles and Western Europe?

The answer to these questions can be found below, in this interesting article, researched and written by a Serbian priest, Fr Srboliub Miletich. It explains the origins of the above phenomena, of particular interest to English readers since the now forgotten British imperialist politicking of the time lay behind many of them. We are indebted to Fr Srboliub for this very thorough article, which answers so many of the question which Orthodox are asking themselves today.

Though in the world and with the firm hope of saving all that is best in the cultures in which God has called us to live, we are not of the world. For this reason we do not take on the spirit of this world, worldliness. We must remain spiritually free, not cultural captive. At times, this means being critical of the defects in the culture into which we were born, without falling into some slavish and uncritical admiration of other cultures. This is what the Pahhellenist politician, Meletios Metaksakis, following the fashions of this world, did not understand. It is also what ‘modernist Orthodox’, who do not wish to conduct missionary work among the tens of thousands of Slavs recently arrived in this country, do not understand. May God help us all to live according to His commandments.

Fr Andrew

Meletios Metaksakis

July 1935. Zurich, Switzerland. After six difficult days in the throes of death, there dies a man whose personality was one of the most scandalous in the two-thousand year history of the Orthodox Church. His body is taken to Cairo in Egypt and buried with great pomp. One of the greatest Church reformers leaves behind him a painful, unstable and alarming situation, the consequences of which will be felt for many decades, probably even centuries. Against the background of his image and actions, a question arises. What was his personal contribution to contemporary and future tribulations, concerns and challenges facing the Orthodox Church?

We are now at a sufficient historical distance for both historians and theologians to give an objective assessment. Today, in our view, his personality and contribution demand this. We shall attempt to show why. We present only the basic information and some of the historical facts, which concern this personality, unprecedented in Church history. In his relatively short, but very tempestuous life, this man managed to become the head of three autocephalous Local Churches and to have taken a number of decisions, which until his time were incompatible with Orthodoxy. Here was a man who tried to change the very bases of Orthodox ecclesiology, raising questions to which many generations of Orthodox theologians are still to give mature and spiritually sober answers. But let us start at the beginning.

Patriarch Meletios Metaksakis was born on 21 September 1871 in the village of Parsas on Crete and was baptized Emmanuel. In 1889 he entered the Holy Cross seminary in Jerusalem. In 1892 he became a monk and was ordained hierodeacon. After completing his theological education, in 1900 Patriarch Damian appointed him secretary of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Eight years later, in 1908, the same Patriarch expelled Meletios from the Holy Land for ‘activities against the Holy Sepulchre’. (1)

According to the historian Alexander Zervoudakis, an official in the British Ministry of Defence (1944-1950), in 1909 Meletios visited Cyprus and there, together with other Orthodox clergy (2), became a member of a British masonic lodge (3). In the following year Metaksakis became the Metropolitan of Kition in Cyprus and already in 1912 tried to become the Patriarch of Constantinople. Failing in this, he devoted himself to becoming the Archbishop of Cyprus. Meanwhile his undisguised political ambitions, authoritarian character and, above all, his modernism seemed to have played a decisive role in his defeat (4). Disillusioned, he left his flock and in 1916 headed for Greece. There, in 1918, with the support of his relative Venizelos, who headed the Greek government, he became the Archbishop of Athens. In the following year, when Venizelos lost the Greek elections, Metaksakis was deposed.

While still Archbishop of Athens, Metaksakis visited Great Britain together with a group of his supporters. Here he conducted talks on unity between the Anglican Church and the Orthodox Churches. At that time he also set up the famous ‘Greek Archdiocese of North America’. Until then there had been no separate jurisdictions in America, but only parishes consisting of ethnic groups, including Greeks, and officially under the jurisdiction of the Russian bishop. With the fall of Imperial Russia and the Bolshevik seizure of power, the Russian Church found herself isolated and her dioceses outside Soviet Russia lost their support. Archbishop Meletios’ foundation of a purely Greek ethnic diocese in America became the first in a whole series of divisions which followed. As a result, various groups demanded and received the support of their national Churches (5).

After losing the see of Athens, in February 1921 Meletios set off for America. At that time, according to the decsion of the Sacred Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), Bishop (now Saint) Nicholas Velimirovic had been sent with a mandate ‘to investigate the situation, needs and wishes of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the United States’. In his report to the Sacred Episcopal Council on 13/26 June 1921, Vladyka Nicholas mentions meeting Meletios, also informing them that:

‘The position of the Greeks was explained to me best of all by the Metropolitan of Athens, Meletios Metaksakis, who is now in exile in America, and Bishop Alexander of Rhodes, whom the same Metropolitan Meletios sent to America three years ago and to whom he delegated duties as Bishop of the Greek Church in America.

Metropolitan Meletios considers that, according to the canons, the supreme oversight of the Church in America is to belong to the Patriarch of Constantinople. He quotes Canon 28 of the Fourth Oecumenical Council, according to which all churches in ‘barbarian’ lands belong to the jurisdiction of the Patriarch in Constantinople. In his opinion, this jurisdiction would be more honorary than anything else, and would be more real only in matters of appeal on the part of a dissatisfied party’ (6).

Naturally, this was interesting news for Bishop Nicholas and he mentioned it in his report to the SOC Council, because nobody until that time had interpreted Canon 28 of the Fourth Council in such a way. Not a single Patriarch of Constantinople until Meletios had yet tried to substitute a primacy of power for the primacy of honour, or some myth of supreme judgement in ‘matters of appeal by the dissatisfied party’ for the catholicity of the Church.

Apart from his work to establish completely new arrangements among the Local Churches and their diasporas, in America Meletios also showed great concern to develop exceptionally cordial relations with the Anglicans (Episcopalians). On 17 December 1921 the Greek Ambassador in Washington informed the authorities in Thessaloniki that Meletios, vested, took part in an Anglican service, bowed with the Anglicans in prayer, kissed their altar, preached and later blessed those present! (7).

When the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece learned of Meletios’ activities in November 1921, a special commission was set up with the task of investigating his situation. Meanwhile, while this investigation was ongoing, Meletios was unexpectedly elected Patriarch of Constantinople. The Synodal commission extended its work and on the basis of its conclusions on 9 December 1921 the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece expelled Meletios Metaksakis for a whole series of infringements of Canon Law and also for creating a schism (8). Despite this decision, on 24 January 1922 Meletios was raised to the Patriarchal see. And then, under strong political pressure, on 24 September that same year the decision to expel him was revoked.

Metropolitan Germanos (Karavangelis), who at that time had already been legally elected Archbishop of Constantinople, relates the following regarding the circumstances connected with the unexpected change of situation: ‘There was no doubt about my election to the Oecumenical Throne in 1921. Of 17 votes, 16 were for me. Then a layman known to me offered me 10,000 pounds if I renounced all my rights to the election in favour of Meletios Metaksakis. Naturally, irritated and annoyed I rejected the offer. Immediately after this a three-man delegation from ‘The National Defence League’ visited me one night and energetically persuaded me to renounce my election in favour of Meletios Metaksakis. The delegation told me that Meletios could obtain $100,000 for the Patriarchate, that he was on very good terms with Protestant bishops in England and America, that he could be very useful in Greek national interests and that international interests required Meletios to be elected as Patriarch. Such were the wishes of Eleutherios Venezelos.

All night long I thought about this proposal. Economic chaos reigned in the Patriarchate. The Greek government had stopped sending aid and there were no other sources of income. Salaries had not been paid for the last nine months. The charitable organizations of the Patriarchate were in a critical material situation. With these considerations in mind and for the sake of the welfare of the people I accepted the proposal (9).

After this agreement, on 23 November 1921, there was accepted a proposal of the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to postpone the election of the Patriarch. Immediately after this, the bishops who had voted to postpone the elections were replaced by others, so that two days later, on 25 November 1921 Meletios was elected. The bishops who had been removed met in Thessaloniki and issued a statement saying that ‘Meletios election was completely against the holy canons’ and they promised ‘to conduct an honest and canonical election of the Patriarch of Constantinople’ (10). Despite all this, two months later, amid general astonishment, Meletios nevertheless became Patriarch of Constantinople.

It may be said that from the moment that he was elected there begins a completely new chapter in the history of the Orthodox Church. As a fiery warrior for the political ideas of Panhellenism, an energetic modernist and Church reformer, Meletios initiated a series of reforms and influenced the acceptance of numerous resolutions which had extremely tragic consequences. In 1922 the Synod of his Patriarchate issued an encyclical which recognized the validity of Anglican orders (11) and, from 10 May to 8 June, at Meletios’ initiative a ‘Pan-Orthodox Congress’ took place in Istanbul.

Despite the resolutions of the Councils of 1583 (12), 1587 and 1593, the Congress took the decision to change the calendar of the Orthodox Church. It is remarkable that at this Conference, which goes under various names – ‘Pan-Orthodox Congress’, ‘Orthodox Assembly’ (13) and so on – representatives of only three Local Churches were present: from Greece, Romania and Serbia. At the same time representatives from others, and moreover from the closest – the Patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria – decided not to take part. As Oecumenical Patriarch, Meletios chaired the sessions of the meeting, at which the Anglican Bishop Charles Gore was present. At Meletios’ invitation, Gore sat on his right and took part in the work of the Congress (14).

It can be said that the introduction of the new calendar provoked extreme disappointment all over the Orthodox world, among parish clergy and laypeople, and above all among monastics. This gesture was taken as the visible sign of Constantinople’s intention to draw closer to the West to the detriment of the age-old liturgical unity of the Local Orthodox Churches. The so-called ‘Pan-Orthodox Congress’, consisting of representatives from three Local Churches, managed to accept the new calendar for the very same reasons of Unia, for which the preceding Orthodox Councils had condemned and rejected it: ‘For the sake of the simultaneous celebration of the great Christian feasts on the part of all the Churches’ (15).

Whatever and whoever this conference represented, historians will most probably be forced to recognize that it was one of the most tragic events in the life of the Church in the twentieth century. The agenda, set from above and forced onto people in contradiction with previous Conciliar decisions, introduced under political pressure the so-called new calendar. This caused schisms and bloody clashes in the streets, which Meletios himself did not escape. Meletios’ modernist reforms of the Church were not to the taste of the faithful. In Istanbul there were serious incidents, during which the outraged Orthodox population sacked the Patriarch’s apartments and physically beat Meletios himself (16). Soon after this, in September 1923, he was forced to quit Istanbul and renounce the Patriarchal throne.

Judging by all this, Patriarch Meletios had ambitious plans and this small and inglorious meeting looked at more than one problem. Apart from the issue of changing the calendar, they also examined the question of whether to reject a fixed Easter Day, priests and deacons marrying after ordination, second marriages for priests, relaxing the fasts, transferring great feasts to Sunday and so on (17). On the subject of this meeting, Archimandrite (now often venerated as a saint) Justin Popovich wrote in his presentation of May 1977 to the Sacred Episcopal Council of the SOC:
‘The issue of preparing and holding a new ‘Oecumenical Council’ of the Orthodox Church is not new and does not date back merely to yesterday in our period of Church history. This question was already raised at the time of the unfortunate Patriarch Meletios Metaksakis, the well-known and presumptuous modernist, reformer and creator of schism in Orthodoxy, at his so-called ‘Pan-Orthodox Congress’ in Istanbul in 1923′.

As Oecumenical Patriarch, Meletios gave special attention to attempts to completely reorganize relations between the Local Orthodox Churches in the world, especially with regard to their diasporas. His decisions, letters, tomos and encyclicals were not only controversial, but sometimes logically contradicted one another. Thus, refusing to recognize the autocephaly of the Albanian Orthodox Church on the pretext that the Orthodox population was a minority, Meletios, despite all the official documents issued by the Russian Church, recognized the separation of the Polish Church, which in exactly the same way was also a minority in Poland (18).

As Vladyka Nicholas Velimirovich said in his report, Patriarch Meletios attempted to extend the interpretation of Canon 28 of the Fourth Oecumenical Council and in some way seize not only the Greek diaspora, but also other national diasporas. For the first time in history, a Patriarch was trying to launch the Patriarchate of Constantinople into an absolutely uncanonical and scandalous administrative invasion campaign in other people’s countries and against other people’s flocks. Fr Zhivko Panev writes of this:

‘Without consulting the Synod in Athens, in 1922 he used his connections with the Greek diaspora in America and subordinated it to himself. In that year he issued a Tomos on the foundation of an Archdiocese in North and South America in New York, with three bishops, in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. At the same time he also took steps to subordinate to Constantinople diasporas of other nationalities. The first step in this direction was made in 1922, when he appointed an Exarch for the whole of Western and Central Europe in London, with the title of Metropolitan of Thyateira. Following this Constantinople began to dispute the right of Metropolitan Eulogius to run Russian parishes in Western Europe.

On 9 July 1923 Meletios subordinated to himself the dioceses of the Russian Church in Finland in the form of an autonomous Finnish Church. On 23 August 1923 the Synod in Constantinople issued a Tomos about the subordination to Constantinople of the Russian dioceses in Estonia, in the form of an autonomous Church.

Presided by Meletios, the Synod in Constantinople decided that it was indispensable to form a new diocese for the Orthodox diaspora in Australia, with a Cathedral in Sydney, under Constantinople. This was done in 1924’ (19).

Thanks to Meletios’ activities the Serbian Church also clashed with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It had its diocese in Czechoslovakia, for which on 25 September 1921 the Serbian Patriarch Dimitri consecrated bishop the Moravian Czech Gorazd Pavlik (shot on 4 December 1942 by the Germans and now canonized) (20). Despite this, on 4 March 1923, Patriarch Meletios consecrated an Archimandrite Sabbatius as ‘Archbishop of Prague and All Czechoslovakia’ and gave him Tomos No 1132 on the restoration of the ancient Archdiocese of Sts Cyril and Methodius, which he then placed under the jurisdiction of Constantinople (21).

Apart from the Autocephalous Albanian Church, which Meletios did not recognize, there were also Serbs who lived on Albanian territory and whose spiritual care was in the hands of the Serbian Church. The secretary of the Monastery of Dechani, Victor Mikhailovich, was consecrated on 18 June 1922 as Vicar-Bishop of Scutari. Meanwhile, the Patriarchate of Constantinople argued with the Serbian Church for many years over the question of jurisdiction in Albania. In the meantime, Uniat propaganda, spread directly by the Vatican was successful. Bishop Victor of Scutari underwent terrible hardships from which he was delivered on 8 September 1939, when he died. He was buried in the Monastery at Dechani at his request (22).

Meletios’ recognition of Anglican orders even provoked the indignation of the Roman Catholics. Meletios’ innovations in the Church caused outrage and anger and the new calendar even caused schisms. In Istanbul, on 1 June 1923, there gathered a large group of indignant clergy and laity, who attacked the Phanar with the aim of deposing Meletios and chasing him out of the City. However, Meletios held out in the exceedingly overheated atmosphere for another month, only on 1 July 1923 to quit Istanbul on the pretext of illness and the need for medical treatment. Later, under strong pressure from the Greek government and the intervention of the Archbishop of Athens, Patriarch Meletios finally resigned from his post on 20 September 1923.

Only three Local Orthodox Churches at first introduced the new calendar, which had been accepted at his insistence at the unfortunate congress in Istanbul in 1923. These were Constantinople, Greece and Romania. It was not introduced in others for fear of further disturbances and schisms and also because of the strong negative reaction. The
Patriarch of Jerusalem declared that the new calendar was unacceptable for His Church because of the danger of proselytism and the spread of the Unia in the Holy Land. Probably the most serious opposition to the new calendar came from the Church of Alexandria. There, Patriarch Photius, after an agreement with Patriarchs Gregory of Antioch, Damian of Jerusalem and the Archbishop of Cyprus, Cyril, called a Local Council, at which it was decided that there was no need whatsoever to change calendars. The Council expressed great regret that this issue was on the agenda, pointing out that the calendar change represented a danger for the unity of Orthodoxy, not only in Greece, but all over the world.

However, great changes were soon coming to the Patriarchate of Alexandria itself. After the Greek defeat of 1924 in Asia Minor at the hands of Kemal Ataturk, big changes took place on the Greek political and military scene. Then came population exchanges, as a result of which some 1,400,000 Greeks from Asia Minor were forced to resettle in Greece and some 300,000 Turks left Greece (23). After his resignation from the see of Constantinople and the stormy and fateful events there, Patriarch Meletios turned up in Alexandria, where, with political support, he was named second candidate for the see of the Patriarchate of Alexandria (24).

At that time, Egypt was under British mandate and the Egyptian government had the right to confirm the candidacy of either of the two candidates who had been put forward. The government in Cairo dragged its feet on the decision for a whole year, only on 20 May 1926, under British government pressure, to confirm their choice of Meletios to the see of the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria. Not in the least discouraged by the Local Council called by his predecessor, pretexting the unity of the Greek diaspora with their homeland (the new calendar had already been introduced in Greece under pressure from the revolutionary government), Meletios introduced the new calendar in Alexandria too. Thus, supposed concern for the Greek ethnic diaspora took precedence over concern for Church unity and the decisions of previous Councils.

Metropolitan Meletios and the Archbishop of Canterbury,

Cosmo Lang, at the Lambeth Conference in 1930

In 1930, as head of a Church delegation, Meletios Metaksakis took part in the Lambeth Conference (25), where he negotiated on unity between Anglicans and Orthodox.

Before Meletios Metaksakis died, this exile from the Holy Land, Kition, Athens and Constantinople, with his unstable, tireless and ambitious spirit, despite serious illness, tried to advance his candidacy for the see of Jerusalem. However, on 28 July 1935 he died and was buried in Cairo. In his wake there is still a stormy period, a restless time of political pressure and diplomatic intrigues, unacceptable in the Church of Christ, the consequences of which will be felt for many more years to come…

Priest Srboliub Miletich

Translated by Fr Andrew

14/27 June 2006
St Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople


[1] Batistos D., Proceedings and Decisions of the Pan-Orthodox Council in Constantinople, May 10 – June 8, 1923, Athens, 1982

[2] One of them was the future Metropolitan Vasilios, an official representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople

[3] Alexander I. Zervoudakis, ‘Famous Freemasons’, Masonic Bulletin, No. 71, January – February 1967

[4] Benedict Englezakis, Studies on the History of the Church of Cyprus, 4th – 20th Centuries, Vaparoum, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Aldershot, Hampshire, Great Britain, 1995, p. 440

[5] Metropolitan Theodosius, Archbishop Of Washington, The Path To Autocephaly And Beyond: ‘Miles To Go Before We Sleep’ http://www.holy-trinity.org/modern/ theodosius.html

[6] Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, Collected Works, Vol. 10, 1983. p. 467 (In Serbian)

[7] Delimpasis, A.D., Pascha of the Lord, Creation, Renewal, and Apostasy, Athens, 1985, p.661

[8] Delimpasis, A.D., Pascha of the Lord, Creation, Renewal, and Apostasy, Athens, 1985, p.661

[9] Ibid., p.662

[10]Ibid., p.663

[11] Encyclical on Anglican Orders, from the Oecumenical Patriarch to the Presidents of the Particular Eastern Orthodox Churches, 1922, http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucgbmxd/ patriarc.htm

[12] The Local Council of 1583 in Constantinople was summoned in response to the proposal of Pope Gregory XIII to the Orthodox to accept the new calendar. Patriarch Jeremiah of Constantinople, Patriarch Sylvester of Alexandria, Patriarch Sophronios of Jerusalem and other fathers took part in the Council. The Council clearly said: If any do not follow the customs of the Church, founded in the Oecumenical Councils, including holy Pascha (Easter) and the calendar, which they command us to follow, but wish to follow the newly devised Paschalia and the calendar of the atheist astronomers of the Pope and contradict (the customs of the Church), wanting to reject and sully the dogmas and customs of the Church, which we have inherited from our fathers, may ANATHEMA be on them and may they be excommunicated from the Church and communion with the faithful.

[13] Sibev T., The Question of the Church Calendar, Synodal Publishing, Sofia, 1968, pp. 33-34 (In Bulgarian).

[14] The very name ‘Congress’ witnesses to the fact that this meeting does not fit in with Orthodox Tradition

[15] The Encyclical of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, ‘To All the Churches of Christ’, January 1920

[16] ‘The Julian Calendar’, Orthodox Life, No. 5, 1995, p. 26

[17] Hieromonk Sava (Yevtich), Ecumenism and the Time of Apostasy, Prizren, 1995, p. 11 (In Serbian)

[18] Priest Zhivko Panic. The Question of the Diaspora – A Historical and Canonical Review, Paris, Manuscript (In Russian)

[19] Ibid.

[20] Sava, Bishop of Shumadia, Serbian Hierarchs from the Ninth to the Twentieth Centuries, Belgrade 1996, pp. 135-135 (In Serbian)

[21] Serge Troitsky, Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction over the Orthodox Diaspora, Sremski Karlovtsy, 1932, p. 4 (In Serbian)

[22] Dr Dimsho Perich, The Serbian Orthodox Church and Her Diaspora, Istochnik, The Journal of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese in Canada, 1998, No. 38

[23] ‘In the twentieth century the Greek population of Turkey underwent terrible persecutions and genocide. In 1920 in Istanbul alone there were about 100,000 Greeks. After the First World War and the Greek defeat at Smyrna (Izmir) in 1922, the Greeks there suffered a real disaster – ‘the great disaster’. The Greeks of Asia Minor fled and resettled elsewhere. This happened after the signing of peace in Lausanne in Switzerland in 1923. After this only an insignificant number of Greeks remained in Istanbul and of Turks in western Thrace. At the present time there are about 4,000 Greeks in Istanbul’. Archpriest Radomir Popovich, Orthodoxy at the Turn of the Centuries, Belgrade, 1999, p.23 (In Serbian)

[24] The first candidate was Metropolitan Nicholas of Nubia

[25] The Conference of all the Anglican Bishops which takes place every ten years in the Palace of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It looks at questions of faith, morality and order in the Anglican Communion

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Decline of the Patriarchate of Constantinople by St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco .

Translators’ Introduction: The anti-Orthodox career and statements of the late Patriarch Athenagoras of sorry memory have been so striking that they have perhaps tended to obscure the fact that the apostasy of this one man was merely the culmination of a long and thorough process of the departure from the Orthodox Faith of an entire Local Orthodox Church. The promise of the new Patriarch Demetrios to “follow upon the footsteps of our great Predecessor… in pursuing Christian unity” and to institute-“dialogues” with Islam and other non-Christian religions, while recognizing “the holy blessed Pope of Rome Paul VI, the first among equals within the universal Church of 0rist” (Enthronement Address)—only confirms this observation and reveals the depths to which the Church of Constantinople has fallen in our own day.

It should be noted that the title “Ecumenical” was bestowed on the Patriarch of Constantinople as a result of the transfer of the capital of the Roman Empire to this city in the 4th century; the Patriarch then became the bishop of the city which was the center of the ecumene or civilized world. Lamentably, in the 20th century the once-glorious See of Constantinople, having long since lost its earthly glory, has cheaply tried to regain prestige by entering on two new “ecumenical” paths: it has joined the “ecumenical movement,” which is based on an anti-Christian universalism; and, in imitation of apostate Rome, it has striven to subject the other Orthodox Churches to itself and make of its Patriarch a kind of Pope of Orthodoxy.

The following article, which is part of a report on all the Autocephalous Churches made by Archbishop John to the Second All-Diaspora Sobor of the Russian Church Abroad held in Yugoslavia in 1938, gives the historical background of the present state of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It could well have been written today, nearly 35 years later, apart from a few small points which have changed since then, not to mention the more spectacular “ecumenical” acts and statements of the Patriarchate in recent years, which have served to change it from the “pitiful spectacle” here described into one of the leading world centers of anti-Orthodoxy.

THE PRIMACY among Orthodox Churches is possessed by the Church of the New Rome, Constantinople, which is headed by a Patriarch who has the title of Ecumenical, and therefore is itself called the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which territorially reached the culmination of its development at the end of the 18th century. At that time there was included in it the whole of Asia Minor, the whole Balkan Peninsula (except for Montenegro), together with the adjoining islands, since the other independent Churches in the Balkan Peninsula had been abolished and had become part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarch had received from the Turkish Sultan, even before the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, the title of Millet Bash, that is, the head of the people, and he was considered the head of the whole Orthodox population of the Turkish Empire. This, however, did not prevent the Turkish government from removing patriarchs for any reason whatever and calling for new elections, at the same time collecting a large tax from the newly elected patriarch. Apparently the latter circumstance had a great significance in the changing of patriarchs by the Turks, and therefore it often happened that they again allowed on the Patriarchal Throne a patriarch whom they had removed, after the death of one or several of his successors. Thus, many patriarchs occupied their see several times, and each accession was accompanied by the collection of a special tax from them by the Turks.

In order to make up the sum which he paid on his accession to the Patriarchal Throne, a patriarch made a collection from the metropolitans subordinate to him, and they, in their turn, collected from the clergy subordinate to them. This manner of making up its finances left an imprint on the whole order of the Patriarchate’s life. In the Patriarchate there was likewise evident the Greek “Great Idea,” that is, the attempt to restore Byzantium, at first in a cultural, but later also in a political sense. For this reason in all important; posts there were assigned people loyal to this idea, and for the most part Greeks from the part of Constantinople called the Phanar, where also the Patriarchate was located. Almost always the episcopal sees were filled by Greeks, even though in the Balkan Peninsula the population was primarily Slavic.

At the beginning of the 19th century there began a movement of liberation among the Balkan peoples, who were striving to liberate themselves from the authority of the Turks. There arose the states of Serbia, Greece, Rumania, and Bulgaria, at first semi-independent, and then completely independent from Turkey. Parallel with this there proceeded also the formation of new Local Churches which were separate from the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Even though it was unwillingly, under the influence of circumstances, the Ecumenical Patriarchs permitted the autonomy of the Churches in the vassal princedoms, and later they recognized the full independence of the Churches in Serbia, Greece, and Rumania. Only the Bulgarian question was complicated in view on the one hand of the impatience of the Bulgarians, who had not yet attained political independence, and, on the other hand, thanks to the unyieldingness of the Greeks. The self-willed declaration of Bulgarian autocephaly on the foundation of a firman of the Sultan was not recognized by the Patriarchate, and in a number of dioceses there was established a parallel hierarchy.

The boundaries of the newly-formed Churches coincided with the boundaries of the new states, which were growing all the time at the expense of Turkey, at the same time acquiring new dioceses from the Patriarchate. Nonetheless, in 1912, when the Balkan War began, the Ecumenical Patriarchate had about 70 metropolias and several bishoprics. The war of 1912-13 tore away from Turkey a significant part of the Balkan Peninsula with such great spiritual centers as Salonica and Athos. The Great War of 1914-18 for a time deprived Turkey of the whole of Thrace and the Asia Minor coast with the city of Smyrna, which were subsequently lost by Greece in 1922 after the unsuccessful march of the Greeks on Constantinople.

Here the Ecumenical Patriarch could not so easily allow out of his authority the dioceses which had been torn away from Turkey, as had been done previously. There was already talk concerning certain places which from of old had been under the spiritual authority of Constantinople. Nonetheless, the Ecumenical Patriarch in 1922 recognized the annexation to the Serbian Church of all areas within the boundaries of Yugoslavia; he agreed to the inclusion within the Church of Greece of a number of dioceses in the Greek State, preserving, however, his jurisdiction over Athos; and in 1937 he recognized even the autocephaly of the small Albanian Church, which originally he had not recognized.

The boundaries of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the number of its dioceses had significantly decreased. At the same time the Ecumenical Patriarchate in fact lost Asia Minor also, although it remained within its jurisdiction. In accordance with the peace treaty between Greece and Turkey in 1923, there occurred an exchange of population between these powers, so that the whole Greek population of Asia Minor had to resettle in Greece. Ancient cities, having at one time a great significance in ecclesiastical matters and glorious in their church history, remained without a single inhabitant of the Orthodox faith. At the same time, the Ecumenical Patriarch lost his political significance in Turkey, since Kemal Pasha deprived him of his title of head of the people. Factually, at the present time under the Ecumenical Patriarch there are five dioceses within the boundaries of Turkey in addition to Athos with the surrounding places in Greece. The Patriarch is extremely hindered in the manifestation even of his indisputable rights in church government within the boundaries of Turkey, where he is viewed as an ordinary Turkish subject-official, being furthermore under the supervision of the government. The Turkish government, which interferes in all aspects of the life of its citizens, only as a special privilege has permitted him, as also the Armenian Patriarch, to wear long hair and clerical garb, forbidding this to the rest of the clergy. The Patriarch has no right of free exit from Turkey, and lately the government is ever more insistently pursuing his removal to the new capital of Ankara (the ancient Ancyra), where there are now no Orthodox Christians, but where the administration with all the branches of governmental life is concentrated.

Such an outward abasement of the hierarch of the city of St. Constantine, which was once the capital of the ecumene, has not caused reverence toward him to be shaken among Orthodox Christians, who revere the See of Sts. Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian. From the height of this See the successor of Sts. John and Gregory could spiritually guide the whole Orthodox world, if only he possessed their firmness in the defense of righteousness and truth and the breadth of views of the recent Patriarch Joachim III. However, to the general decline of the Ecumenical Patriarchate there has been joined the direction of its activity after the Great War. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has desired to make up for the loss of dioceses which have left its jurisdiction, and likewise the loss of its political significance within the boundaries of Turkey, by submitting to itself areas where up to now there has been no Orthodox hierarchy, and likewise the Churches of those states where the government is not Orthodox. Thus, on April 5, 1922, Patriarch Meletius designated an Exarch of Western and Central Europe with the title of Metropolitan of Thyateira with residency in London; on March 4, 1923, the same Patriarch consecrated the Czech Archimandrite Sabbatius Archbishop of Prague and All Czechoslovakia; on April 15, 1924, a Metropolia of Hungary and All Central Europe was founded with a See in Budapest, even though there was already a Serbian bishop there. In America an Archbishopric was established under the Ecumenical Throne, then in 1924 a Diocese was established in Australia with a See in Sydney. In 1938 India was made subordinate to the Archbishop of Australia.

At the same time there has proceeded the subjection of separate parts of the Russian Orthodox Church which have been torn away from Russia. Thus, on June 9, 1923, the Ecumenical Patriarch accepted into his jurisdiction the Diocese of Finland as an autonomous Finnish Church; on August 23, 1923, the Estonian Church was made subject in the same way, on November 13, 1924, Patriarch Gregory VII recognized the autocephaly of the Polish Church under the supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate—that is, rather autonomy. In March, 1936, the Ecumenical Patriarch accepted Latvia into his jurisdiction. Not limiting himself to the acceptance into his jurisdiction of Churches in regions which had fallen away from the borders of Russia, Patriarch Photius accepted into his jurisdiction Metropolitan Eulogius in Western Europe together with the parishes subordinate to him, and on February 28, 1937, an Archbishop of the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch in America consecrated Bishop Theodore-Bogdan Shpilko for a Ukrainian Church in North America.

Thus, the Ecumenical Patriarch has become actually “ecumenical” [universal] in the breadth of the territory which is theoretically subject to him. Almost the whole earthly globe, apart from the small territories of the three Patriarchates and the territory of Soviet Russia, according to the idea of the Patriarchate’s leaders, enters into the composition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Increasing without limit their desires to submit to themselves parts of Russia, the Patriarchs of Constantinople have even begun to declare the uncanonicity of the annexation of Kiev to the Moscow Patriarchate, and to declare that the previously existing southern Russian Metropolia of Kiev should be subject to the Throne of Constantinople. Such a point of view is not only clearly expressed in the Tomos of November 13, 1924, in connection with the separation of the Polish Church, but is also quite thoroughly promoted by the Patriarchs. Thus, the Vicar of Metropolitan Eulogius in Paris, who was consecrated with the permission of the Ecumenical Patriarch, has assumed the title of Chersonese; that is to say, Chersonese, which is now in the territory of Russia, is subject to the Ecumenical Patriarch. The next logical step for the Ecumenical Patriarchate would be to declare the whole of Russia as being under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.

However, the actual spiritual might and even the actual boundaries of authority by far do not correspond to such a self-aggrandizement of Constantinople. Not to mention the fact that almost everywhere the authority of the Patriarch is quite illusory and consists for the most part in the confirmation of bishops who have been elected to various places or the sending of such from Constantinople, many lands which Constantinople considers subject to itself do not have any flock at all under its jurisdiction.

The moral authority of the Patriarchs of Constantinople has likewise fallen very low in view of their extreme instability in ecclesiastical matters. Thus, Patriarch Meletius IV arranged a “Pan-Orthodox Congress,” with representatives of various churches, which decreed the introduction of the New Calendar. This decree, recognized only by a part of the Church, introduced a frightful schism among Orthodox Christians. Patriarch Gregory VII recognized the decree of the council of the Living Church concerning the deposing of Patriarch Tikhon, whom not long before this the Synod of Constantinople had declared a “confessor,” and then he entered into communion with the “Renovationists” in Russia, which continues up to now.

In sum, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in theory embracing almost the whole universe and in fact extending its authority only over several dioceses, and in other places having only a higher superficial supervision and receiving certain revenues for this, persecuted by the government at home and not supported by any governmental authority abroad: having lost its significance as a pillar of truth and having itself become a source of division, and at the same time being possessed by an exorbitant love of power—represents a pitiful spectacle which recalls the worst periods in the history of the See of Constantinople.

From Orthodox Word, vol. 8, no. 4 (45), July-August 1972, pp. 166-168, 174-175.

Some articles that reveal some light over the tragedy with Patriarch Bartholomew : ”A Letter To The Ecumenical Patriarch Concerning The Situation Of The Diaspora Patriarch Alexis of Moscow and All Russia. ”

2005.02.01 Sourozh

In our first issue of August 1980, Sourozh published a lengthy article by Archbishop Paul of Finland entitled ‘Suggestions for Solutions to the Problem of the Orthodox Diaspora’ (reprinted in Sourozh, No. 91, February 2003, pp. 3-19). In it the primate of the Orthodox Church of Finland reviewed the various submissions made by four regional autocephalous Churches to the Preparatory Commission for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church which has been in the planning stage for some forty years. In his conclusions Archbishop Paul strongly urged the Patriarchate of Constantinople to relinquish the theory of the supremacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate over the whole diaspora and to reject any talk of ‘barbarian areas’ as an anachronism.

The fact that in the intervening twenty-five years nothing has changed emerges clearly from the text we print below. On 18 March 2002 Patriarch Alexis wrote to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople outlining the position of the Russian Church regarding the claims to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to jurisdiction over the worldwide Orthodox ‘diaspora’, coming to the same conclusions as did Archbishop Paul. More recently there has been a further exchange of letters, but none has gone over the ground as thoroughly as does the present text. The English version given below is translated from a French version of the Russian original. To His Holiness Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch and Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome

Your Holiness, Beloved Brother and fellow celebrant in God,

We greet you fraternally and wish you grace and mercy from God our Saviour.

We have received the message of Your Holiness, No. 129 of 11 April 2002, concerning the situation of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Parishes in Western Europe. Reading this letter, we were very troubled by the great number of bitter reproaches and unjust accusations that you formulate therein. In any case, however, we wish to follow the precept of wise Solomon (Proverbs 17:9): ‘He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends’. Not wishing to put to the test for no good reason the feeling of brotherly love between our two Churches, we shall not consider in detail these awkward expressions, for we think that it is more a case of unfortunate misunderstandings deriving, in our opinion, from an erroneous understanding of the problems that you have raised. This is why we think that it is better to move on immediately to the interpretation of Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council advanced by Your Holiness, an interpretation with which we disagree completely.(1)

This canon in fact defines the area of responsibility of the Patriarchal See of the Church of Constantinople by limiting it to the ancient provinces [called ‘dioceses’ by the Roman government of the time, Ed.] of [Proconsular] Asia, Thrace and of Pontus, that is, to the provinces that correspond to modern-day Turkey, Bulgaria and Greece. It does not at all follow from this canon that ‘every province not belonging to another patriarchal see’ should be subject to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

It seems obvious that this inaccurate interpretation derives from an erroneous understanding of the term ‘among the barbarians’ (en tois barbarikois) and of the context of this _expression. It is erroneous in that it assumes that the issue here does not concern ‘barbarian’ peoples living either in the Roman Empire or beyond its limits, but administrative entities (defined by the State) and inhabited primarily by ‘barbarians’. Yet there is no doubt but that this _expression refers not to provinces but to peoples; it is not used in an administrative, but in an ethnic sense. This follows clearly from the considerations that we shall develop below.

As you know, during the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods the term barbaros referred to individuals belonging to peoples whose language, culture and customs were not Greek. Thus St Gregory of Nyssa, in the third of his works Against Eunomius, can speak of a ‘barbarian philosophy’ (barbariki philosophia), while Eusebius of Caesarea speaks of ‘barbarisms in the Greek language’ (idiomata barbarika), St Epiphanius of Cyprus of ‘barbarian names’ (barbarika onomata) and Libanius, the teacher of St John Chrysostom, of ‘barbarian customs’ (barbarika ithi). Similarly the Apostle Paul thinks of anyone who speaks neither Greek nor Latin, the official languages of the Empire, as a ‘barbarian’ (barbaros): ‘Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian (barbaros), and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian (barbaros) unto me’ (1 Cor 14:11). Such ‘barbarians’ could equally well live outside as within the Empire. The Apostle preached to the ‘barbarians’ without ever leaving the Roman Empire (cf. Rom 1:14) and the Acts of the Apostles call the inhabitants of Malta ‘barbarians’, even though the island was part of the Empire, simply because the local language was Punic.

As regards the _expression to barbarikon, it is certainly the case that this _expression can be used to refer to territories outside the limits of the Empire, and it is in this sense that the term is used, for example, in the Canon 63 (52) of the Council of Carthage. There it is said that in Mauritania there were no councils because that country was located at the very edge of the Empire and borders on barbarian land (to barbariko parakeitai). Nevertheless, it can also refer to anything that is barbarian, and therefore to territories which, while inhabited by barbarians, form part of the Empire.

It is precisely in this sense that the term is used in Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon. Reference is not being made to the barbarian peoples in general, but to certain well-defined peoples ‘belonging to the above-mentioned provinces’ (ton proeirimenon dioikeseon), i.e. the barbarians living in the provinces of Pontus, Asia and Thrace, which were an integral part of the Eastern Roman Empire. Thus the canon subordinates to the see of Constantinople the bishops of the barbarians living within the ecclesiastical boundaries of these three dioceses.

All the Byzantine commentators on the canons — Alexios Aristenus, John Zonaras and Theodore Balsamon, as well as Matthew Blastaris, author of the Syntagma — understand by the _expression en tois barbarikois precisely and only those barbarian peoples within those three provinces, thereby underlining that the barbarian peoples in neighbouring provinces were not subjected to Constantinople by this canon, but remained under the jurisdiction of other Orthodox Churches. Thus Aristenus writes that only the metropolitans of Pontus, Asia and Thrace are under the bishop of Constantinople and are consecrated by him; the same applies to the bishops of the barbarians in these provinces, since the provinces of Macedonia, Illyria, Thessaly, the Peloponese and Epirus were at that time subject to the authority of Rome (Syntagma 2.286; Kormchaia kniga [1816], P. 73). According to Zonaras, it is the bishop of Constantinople who is responsible for the consecration of bishops for the barbarians living in the provinces mentioned, while the remaining provinces, viz. Macedonia, Thessaly, Hellas, the Peloponese, Epirus and Illyria were subject to Rome (Syntagma 2.283, 284).

In the Syntagma of Blastaris we read that the bishop of Constantinople also has the right to consecrate the bishops of barbarian peoples living on the edges of these provinces, such as the Alans and the Rousoi, since the former live next to the diocese of Pontus and the latter next to the diocese of Thrace (6.257). In the latter case it is a question of a late ecclesiastical practice (Blastaris’ comments concern the fourteenth century) according to which the barbarian lands next to the three provinces mentioned were included in the jurisdiction of the bishop of Constantinople. Moreover, it is stressed that the jurisdiction of the bishop of Constantinople was extended to these territories precisely because of their nearness to the areas assigned to him by Canon 28 of Chalcedon, though in the canons themselves the possibility of such an enlargement is not foreseen.

Thus these ancient and authoritative commentators confirm that the Council of Chalcedon did not give to the bishop of Constantinople rights over ‘barbarian’ territories except within the limits of the three provinces mentioned, of which only the province of Thrace is situated in Europe. Aristenus and Zonaras, for example, indicate clearly that in Europe the right of the bishop of Constantinople to send bishops for the barbarians extends only to Thrace, since the other provinces are subject to the bishop of Rome. As regards the frontiers of the Church of Constantinople in Asia, Balsamon makes this comment in his interpretation of Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council:

Note that the metropolitans along the Black Sea up to Trebizond are called ‘Pontic’, while the metropolitans near Ephesus, and in Lycia and Pamphylia are called ‘Asiatic’, though not, as some say, those in Anatolia, since in Anatolia it is [the bishop of] Antioch who has the right to consecrate (Syntagma, 2.284).

It is also appropriate to note that in this canon it is not a question of a ‘diaspora’, but of autochthonous ‘barbarians’ living in their own lands. They became Christian largely as the result of missionary activity and Christianity did not reach them through a foreign homeland, as is the case with a ‘diaspora’. This is why one is distancing oneself from historical reality and mixing up differing concepts if one extends the field of application of a canon that concerned autochthonous peoples who became Christian as the result of missionary activity with the phenomenon of a diaspora made up of people who have departed for a foreign land, but who were brought up in the Orthodox tradition in their homeland.

Thus the statement by Your Holiness that as a result of Canon 28 of Chalcedon ‘Western Europe and all the lands recently discovered in America and Australia belong to the area of responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarch’ seems completely fictitious and is without canonical foundation. These distant lands actually have no connection with the three provinces mentioned in Canon 28 and are nowhere near them. Moreover, the majority of the Orthodox faithful of the Churches in these territories are not native-born; they represent peoples that are traditionally Orthodox and have religious traditions that they wish to preserve. As regards Orthodox jurisdiction in the canonical territories that belonged to the Church of Rome before the schism of 1054, no authoritative pan-Orthodox decision has ever been taken.

All of this is supported by historical facts that indicate that until the 20s of the twentieth century the Patriarch of Constantinople did not in fact exercise authority over the whole of the Orthodox diaspora throughout the world, and made no claim to such authority. For example, in Australia the Orthodox diaspora was initially served by Jerusalem, and the Patriarch of Jerusalem sent priests there. In Western Europe, from the beginning, the parishes and Orthodox communities were dependent canonically on their Mother Churches and not on Constantinople. Similarly, in other parts of the world, in order to follow the commandment of Christ (Mt 28:19f.), zealous missionaries from local Orthodox Churches, including Constantinople, preached the Gospel and baptised the native peoples, who then became the children of the Church that had illumined them by Baptism.

As regards America, from 1794 Orthodoxy on that continent was represented exclusively by the Church of Russia, which by 1918 had brought together some 300,000 Orthodox of different nationalities (Russian, Ukrainians, Serbs, Albanians, Arabs, Aleuts, Indians, Africans, English). The Greek Orthodox were among them, receiving antimensia for their parishes from the Russian bishops. This situation was recognised by all the local Churches, who released clergy for the American parishes into the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Patriarchate of Constantinople followed the same practice. For example, when in 1912 the Greek Orthodox in America asked His Holiness the Patriarch of Constantinople Joachim III to send a Greek bishop, the Patriarch did not send a bishop himself, nor did he refer the request to the Church of Greece, but recommended that it be referred to Archbishop Platon of the Aleutian Islands and North America so that the question could be settled by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Jurisdictional pluralism in North America began in 1921, when an ‘Archdiocese of North and South America’ was created without the agreement of the Russian Church, which was not informed of the matter. It is at this point that the situation you describe arose, i.e. ‘In spite of the Holy Canons, the Orthodox, in particular those who live in Western countries, are divided into ethnic groups. Their Churches have at their head bishops chosen on ethnic grounds. Often they are not the only bishops of their cities, and sometimes they are not on good terms with one another and fight among themselves’, something that is ‘a source of shame for all Orthodoxy and the cause of unfavourable reactions that have negative results for the Orthodox Church’. As we have seen, the blame for this sad situation cannot be attached to the Russian Church. On the contrary, seeking to bring American Orthodoxy into line with the rest of the Orthodox world, as Mother Church she granted autocephaly to her daughter Church. In doing this the Russian Church acted only within the limits of its own canonical jurisdiction and with a view to a future pan-Orthodox decision concerning the establishment of a single local Orthodox Church in America. We might note that, already in 1905, a proposal for the creation of such a Church had been presented to the Holy Synod by Saint Tikhon of Moscow, who was then Archbishop of the Aleutian Islands and North America.

It is sad to observe that the Most Holy Church of Constantinople did not support the action taken in 1970 and has not contributed to the union that was so desired. Until now this remains a source of discord and discontent on the part of many Orthodox in America.

In spite of Your Holiness’ affirmation that ‘no other Patriarchal see has received the privilege or canonical right’ to extend its jurisdiction beyond the provinces that belong to the canonical territories of the autocephalous Churches, history demonstrates that Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council that subjected the three provinces mentioned to Constantinople did not in any way diminish the rights of the other autocephalous Churches, in particular as concerns ecclesiastical jurisdiction over foreign lands. Thus the Church of Rome appointed bishops throughout most of Europe (excepting Thrace), while the Church of Alexandria assigned bishops to the countries south of Egypt (and subsequently throughout most of Africa), and the Church of Antioch did so in the East, in Georgia, Persia, Armenia and Mesopotamia. The jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople, however, for its part, for a long time remained confined within what had been the boundaries of the provinces of Asia, Pontus and Thrace before that Council.

We should also note that historically both the primacy of honour established by Canon 3 of the Second Ecumenical Council and its jurisdiction over the three provinces mentioned above were given to the Church of Constantinople solely for political reasons, i.e. because the city in which the see of Constantinople was located had acquired the status of a political capital and had become ‘the city of the Emperor and the Senate’. Thus Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council stipulates that ‘In taking this decision as to the precedence of the Very Holy Church of Constantinople, the New Rome, we note that the Fathers [of the Second Ecumenical Council] have in fact rightly granted precedence to the see of Old Rome because that city was the Imperial City. Moved by the same considerations the 150 bishops beloved of God [of this Council] have granted the same precedence to the Very Holy See of New Rome, justifiably thinking that the city honoured by the presence of the Emperor and the Senate and enjoying the same civil privileges as Rome, the ancient Imperial City, should also have the same high rank as she has, in the affairs of the Church, while still remaining second after her.’ We do not intend to enter into discussion on this question now, but one should nonetheless not forget an obvious fact: the present situation of Constantinople after the collapse of the Byzantine Empire does not justify constant recourse to this canon, and still less to an excessively broad interpretation of its meaning.

The inclusion within the jurisdiction of the Very Holy Church of Constantinople of new provinces other than those bordering on the original three dioceses, which has taken place in the course of history, is not, in our opinion, linked with Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council. The reasons were entirely other. Thus the provinces mentioned by Your Holiness — Illyria, Southern Italy and Sicily — did not belong ‘always’ to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but were taken by force from the Roman Church and given to the Church of Constantinople by the iconoclast Emperor Leo the Isaurian, without reference to Canon 28. One of the most important reasons for this action on the part of Leo the Isaurian was that the Church of Rome was opposed to the iconoclastic policies of the Byzantine Emperor, whose political power extended to those territories at that time.

As regards the Russian Church, she was initially subject to the Church of Constantinople not because of Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, but because of the general principle according to which converted peoples are subject to the Mother Church that had Christianised them, until they have acquired the conditions necessary for autocephaly. By becoming an autocephalous Church, the Russian Church received the same rights of mission beyond its canonical boundaries as the other local Orthodox Churches, since, as has been shown, the Holy Canons do not give precedence to any particular Church in the realisation of this right.

Such is the authentic pan-Orthodox tradition in this matter, and the Very Holy Church of Constantinople always respected it until the moment when Patriarch Meletios IV developed the theory of the subordination of the whole Orthodox diaspora to Constantinople. It is precisely this theory, which is clearly non-canonical, that is quite obviously ‘hostile to the spirit of the Orthodox Church, to Orthodoxy unity, and to canonical order’. It is itself, in fact, the _expression of ‘an expansionist tendency that is without canonical foundation and is unacceptable on an ecciesiological level’. By claiming a universal spiritual power, it does not correspond to the Orthodox canonical tradition or to the teaching of the Holy Fathers of the Church, and represents a direct challenge to Orthodox unity. In fact, there is no reason to agree with Your contention that the whole of the Orthodox diaspora does not finds itself under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople solely because Constantinople ‘tolerates this situation temporarily and for reasons of “economy”.’ This last _expression has particularly roused our incomprehension and disquiet, since it seems to point to an intention on the part of the Church of Constantinople to continue in the future to pursue a unilateral policy of expansion that is foreign to a spirit of brotherly love and conciliarity. In this respect, it is worthwhile recalling a judicious remark of Patriarch Diodoros of Jerusalem of blessed memory that is contained in his letter to Your Holiness (No. 480, dated 25 July 1993) to the effect that only a pan-Orthodox Council has the right to resolve the complex question of the diaspora. Neither the Orthodox Church of Romania nor the Orthodox Church of Poland shares the view put forward by Your Holiness of the problem of the diaspora. This is clear from the reports submitted by these Churches in 1990 to the Preparatory Commission for the Holy and Great Council.

Bearing in mind what has been said, we are completely justified in contesting the statement of Your Holiness to the effect that the Exarchate of Russian Parishes in Western Europe is ‘one of the forms of pastoral care that is incumbent’ upon the Church of Constantinople. The theory that this Exarchate is obliged to be subject to the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is refuted by the very history of this ecclesiastical entity. We must remember that in the official documents of the Church of Constantinople concerning the status of the Russian parishes in Western Europe it is accepted that their Mother Church is the Russian Orthodox Church, and that the system of administration established for these parishes has a provisional character. There is no ambiguity concerning this in the Tomos of Patriarch Photios of 17 February 1931. Commenting on this document, Patriarch Photios himself wrote in a letter (No. 1428, 25 June 1931) to Metropolitan Sergii, Deputy Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, that ‘the situation should remain in this provisional state until, with God’s help, unity can be re-established with our Sister Church of Russia’. Similarly, His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras, in a letter (No. 671, 22 November 1965) to Archbishop Georges of Eudokiada, mentioning the fact that ‘the Church of Russia has freed itself of divisions, acquired an internal organisation and freedom of action in its affairs outside Russia’, announces the suppression of the Exarchate of Russian Parishes in Western Europe, ‘which had a provisional character’, and recommends that it join itself to the Patriarchate of Moscow, ‘which can and should always demonstrate and manifest its fatherly love for these parishes’. The fact that the Patriarchate of Constantinople received back into its jurisdiction this diocese of Russian parishes in 1971 does not change in any way the provisional character of the current situation of the Russian Archdiocese, since in its first paragraph the relevant Tomos refers back to the Tomos of Patriarch Photios. Thus the Church of Constantinople, in these official documents, has recognised unambiguously the right of the Archdiocese of Russian Parishes in Western Europe to reunite itself with the Mother Church — the Russian Orthodox Church — without this being the manifestation of ‘an extremely secularised and erroneous spiritual state’ or of ‘an erroneous ethnic understanding’.

As regards the proposals of His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad made during his stay in Paris from 10-12 February 2001, this subject has already been touched upon in negotiations between delegations of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and Moscow in Zurich on 19 April 2001 and in a letter of Metropolitan Kirill to Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia (No. 2062, 17 July 2001). While travelling through Paris, His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill was invited by Archbishop Sergii of Eukarpia to a meeting of the Council of the Archdiocese. At this meeting, the hierarch of our Church made no specific proposals, and when he was asked how he saw the future of the Archdiocese, he presented the position of our Church, which has never been concealed and to which we are irrevocably attached.

This position is the following: the existence of an isolated group of Russian parishes in Europe is the result of the tragedy of the Russian people provoked by the Revolution. At the present, when the consequences of the Revolution have been overcome, the return of the parishes of the emigration to the bosom of the Patriarchate of Moscow would be completely normal. This desire for the restoration of the spiritual unity of our people is reflected in the declaration you have mentioned, which was made by the Holy Synod on 8 November 2000, where it is question of those children ‘who live beyond the limits of the Russian State’ (not ‘outside the limits of the Russian Church’, as is incorrectly stated in Your letter). We continue to be saddened to see that the legitimate and natural desire to bring together again our own people, who live dispersed for historical and political reasons, is the object of such harsh and unjust attacks on the part of the primate of a Church that has experienced a similar tragedy.

The question of the Orthodox diaspora is one of most important problems in inter-Orthodox relations. Given its complexity and the fact that it has not been sufficiently regularised, it has introduced serious complications in the relations between Churches and has without a doubt diminished the strength of Orthodox witness throughout the contemporary world. Nevertheless, we hope very much that the sustained efforts of the local Orthodox Churches will enable us in the end to find a pan-Orthodox solution to the problem at the Holy and Great Council of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The historical responsibility is all the greater for any actions directed against the achievement of an agreement pleasing to God on this key question.

This is why, for the true good both of Orthodoxy and the Church of Constantinople, which is dear to us for reasons stretching back over centuries, we call upon Your Holiness to follow the precepts of the Holy Fathers, expressed in Canon 8 of the Third Ecumenical council, to wit, ‘that the canons of the Fathers not be infringed upon, and that worldly pride and power not slip in under the pretext of holy actions, and that we do not lose, bit by bit and without noticing it, the freedom that Jesus Christ our Lord, the Liberator of all men, has given us by his Blood.’ Faithful to the tradition of the Holy Fathers, we ask earnestly and sincerely that Your Holiness renounce an attitude of mind that is an obstacle to the accord so ardently desired, and work hard for the speedy convocation of the Holy and Great Council.

We ask of God peace, health and length of life for Your Holiness, we salute You once again in brotherly fashion, and we continue to respect You and to love Your Holiness in Christ.

+ Alexis, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

(1) Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451) is discussed at length by Archbishop Peter L’Huillier in his book, The Church of the Ancient Councils (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996), pp. 267-296, where he reaches the same conclusions as the Patriarch (Ed.).

Sourozh, No. 99, February 2005, pp. 1-11

Posted: 07-Mar-05

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Interview with Fr. Andrew Phillips, the priest of St John’s Orthodox church in Colchester, Essex, UK (ROCOR)

What is your view of what is called the ‘Pan-Orthodox Council’?

I have been following the stages in the development of this farce for 40 years and there is a spiritual principle about humility which has been ignored from the very beginning. This is: ‘Start big and you will finish small; start small and you may finish big’. So to call a mere meeting a ‘Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Council’ when it is in fact not a ‘Great Council’ but a fairly small conference, which is not ‘Pan-Orthodox’ and which seems to be linked to politics and not to holiness, is absurd and pretentious. It reeks of pride and hubris. And this refusal to obey this most basic of all spiritual principles explains why it has all become such a disaster.

However, there is worse than this, there is the terminology itself. The word ‘Pan-Orthodox’ is a modern Greek neologism. The Universal and other Councils were never called ‘Pan-Orthodox’, they were called ‘Church Councils’, Councils of the whole Church. The term ‘Pan-Orthodox’ comes from branch-theory ecumenism, the concept that our Councils are on an equal footing to Roman Catholic or any other heterodox ‘Councils’. In reality, there is only one sort of Council: Church Councils. Apart from them there are only meetings. In other words, there are Councils that are inspired by the Holy Spirit and meetings that are not. Meetings that are not Councils include Vatican I and Vatican II, which promulgated heresies, and also Robber Councils, where people who looked like Orthodox bishops and said that they were Orthodox bishops met and then promulgated heresies. The term ‘Pan-Orthodox’ can only be used for meetings and conferences. It is not a Church or Patristic term; it has no spiritual meaning or place in the Tradition.

Then there is the question of the agenda. This agenda was imposed from above and most of the bishops, let alone the clergy and the people, were never consulted about it. In any case, the very concept of an agenda as such is alien to Councils and belongs to the world of secular and corporate meetings. Church Councils discuss issues that all the faithful are talking about, for which there is a pressing and obvious need for discussion; the concept that you have to establish an agenda because you are not sure what you are supposed to talk about is absurd. Councils are welcome; meeting are not and a whole vast section of the Orthodox world never wanted this meeting in Crete.

For example, there are three great issues in Orthodox life that are not even on the agenda of this meeting: firstly, the divisive introduction of the Roman Catholic calendar for the fixed feasts among some Local Churches, which at once caused schisms in them; secondly, the phyletistic, jurisdictional divisions in the Diaspora, with the failure to establish new Local Churches for Orthodox who live and were born outside the canonical territories of the old Local Churches; thirdly, the question of missionary work to the Non-Orthodox world. And, incredibly, these are the very three issues, probably the only important ones, that are not being discussed!

In other words, the very concept of this whole ‘Pan-Orthodox’ farce has been a purely political manipulation from the very start.

How is it reflected in the Orthodox Christian community in the UK?

Is there an Orthodox Christian community in the UK? I have never seen it. We only have ‘jurisdictions’ – of the Constantinople Church, the Russian Church, the Antiochian Church, the Romanian Church, the Serbian Church etc. Everyone lives their lives separately. I wish there was an Orthodox Christian community here and in every country in the Diaspora. There is not; the concept is either a myth or else a dream.

As regards being ‘reflected’, just as in Russia and everywhere else, the vast majority of Orthodox here have never even heard of any ‘Pan-Orthodox Council’. It is not reflected at all. Again we come back to the fundamental problem that the faithful have never been consulted or informed. Until February we had little idea of what specifically was being discussed behind closed doors. When we saw the draft documents, at last published and only at the insistence of the Russian Church, we were in shock.

Besides religion there is a purely geopolitical issue – the status of autocephalous Churches, especially for the Ukraine. So the agenda proposed by Patriarch Bartholomew was difficult for the Russian Orthodox Church. What is the role of politics in this matter in your opinion?

I think this whole affair is a purely political operation, imposed by the US State Department on its minions. This has been made clear by the call on 16 June of the Ukrainian Parliament, the Rada, for Constantinople to grant ‘independence’ to the Ukrainian Church (which one?), despite the uncanonicity of any such move. This has obviously been thought up in the backrooms of Washington.

How do you assess the positions of the Bulgarian, Georgian, Antiochian and, at first, of the Serbian Church, which refused to participate?

Each had its own reasons for not participating, apart from disagreement with the ecumenist agenda. Antioch because of its anger at Jerusalem’s invasion of its canonical territory and the fact that Constantinople foolishly told it to ignore such a question of principle until after the Council, even though the problem has been dragging on for years; the Georgians and the Bulgarians are not participating for being insulted by the US-controlled Patriarchate of Constantinople, which declared last April that the Georgians were fundamentalists and the Bulgarians were thieves, actually creating a diplomatic incident in Bulgaria. As for the Serbs, I think their problem is that of essentially everyone else – that Constantinople simply ignores any criticism, blindly trying to impose its will regardless of others, as if it were an Eastern Papacy. Of course, the Serbian Church, racked by a US-caused schism in Kosovo and under immense pressure from Washington/the EU/NATO and the masonic government in Belgrade, then decided to attend the meeting in Crete conditionally, but that is another story.

In general can you describe the situation in the UK? Is it normal to be an Orthodox Christian there? How does the State influence the Church and personal choice?

The situation in the UK is no different from anywhere else in the Western world. It is not normal to be a Christian in today’s UK, let alone to belong to the tiny minority here that is composed of Orthodox Christians. The State ignores Christians and Christianity. We are totally irrelevant to it and its anti-Christian agenda. As far as they are concerned, we are an anachronism and we should die out and disappear as soon as possible. Having said that, there is no active persecution as such, just indifference and underlying hostility, disguised by the hypocritical politeness typical of the British Establishment.

What is happening to other traditional beliefs there? It seems as if there is serious decline. For example, in Nigeria there are many more followers of Anglicanism than in the UK.

Western forms of Christianity, that is Roman Catholicism and Protestantism (and Anglicanism is only a form of Protestantism with some Roman Catholic decorations), are in terminal decline everywhere in the Western world, though they still survive in countries in Africa, Asia and in Eastern Europe, for example in Poland. In the UK today, there are only really two forms of Christianity that are alive, both immigrant, Eastern European and Black African. The rest is fundamentally on its death-bed: it is far worse than ‘serious decline’. For example, a million immigrant Poles have saved Roman Catholicism here. Quite simply, Western people have lost their faith. Since Western civilization was founded on faith, this means that Western civilization is also on its death-bed. Western civilization is today just a series of historical monuments for tourists to visit: the soul has gone out of it.

What exactly is the image of Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church in the UK?

Let us deal with the question of Russia first:

British Imperialism, which began to evolve among the bloodthirsty, 16th century Tudor tyrants, has always seen Russia as a rival. Therefore the British Establishment has always done its best to spread slander and hatred towards Russia from outside and to destroy it from inside, for instance, helping to organize the assassination of the Righteous Emperor Paul I in 1801 through the British ambassador. This was even more obvious in the 19th century, when Britain actually invaded Russia during the Crimean War. At that time British Imperialists invented a policy which they called ‘the Great Game’. This meant surrounding Russia’s borders with British Protectorates, Persia, Afghanistan, Tibet and China. (Was Russia invading Norway, Ireland and France at the same time? Of course, not. This aggression was completely one-sided).  Britain (and the US) also financed and armed Japan to the teeth, using it as a proxy to attack Russia without provocation in 1904. Here was no ‘Game’, just a bloodthirsty policy of anti-Russian aggression. And, incidentally, this is exactly what the USA is doing today.

This aggression also happened in the 20th century when Britain betrayed Russia and Tsar Nicholas II in 1917, by helping to organize and enthusiastically welcoming the Masonic February coup d’etat that was called a ‘Revolution’. Then came another British invasion during the Russian Civil War, then the British betrayal of Czechoslovakia to Hitler and the encouragement of Hitler to invade Russia. And that was followed by the Cold War, as announced by the half-American Churchill. The British elite only likes Russian traitors, for example, in history, Kurbsky, Milyukov, Rodzianko, Lenin, Trotsky, Gorbachov, Yeltsin, Litvinenko, Pussy Riot, and it only finances academics who hate Russia. It sidelines people who tell the truth about Russia.

With the new Cold War, launched by the Americans in 2008 with the US-backed Georgian invasion  of Russia and followed up by the US coup d’etat in Kiev in 2014, the British elite has once more shown that it is merely Washington’s poodle. The British State-controlled media, like the BBC and the Press, (which are heavily infiltrated by MI5 and MI6 agents) have spread hatred for Russia everywhere today, as we can see in the jealousy caused by the immensely successful Russian staging of the Sochi Olympics, the present anti-Russian doping scandal or recently the accusations of Russian football hooliganism (started by English hooligans in reality).

However, as usual, we have to consider that the Establishment elite is one thing, the people another. There is a minority of people in the UK who can see through the anti-Russian lies and propaganda, just as a minority of Germans could see through the lies and propaganda of Hitler and Goebbels. So all is not lost. Some people actually bother to inform themselves and see the Establishment elite for what it is. Not everybody puts US-manipulated, isolationist UK xenophobia above the Truth.

Now as regards the Russian Orthodox Church:

Given the incredibly poor educational system and the general state of ignorance in the UK (is it deliberate policy to keep people in ignorance?), most people here have never heard of the Russian Orthodox Church, but then many have never heard of Christianity (though all have heard of Islam). Among the thin, educated layer in society, there are various attitudes.

For example, the atheists hate us and see as obscurantists, just like the Bolsheviks did. Then there is the Establishment elite that wants to destroy us because we refuse to put the British State before Christ; these are the people who openly and publicly, in organs like ‘The Times’ and ‘The Daily Telegraph’, encouraged the 2006 Sourozh schism, caused by pro-Establishment and pro-EU modernist Anglicans who had been allowed to infiltrate and take over the Sourozh Diocese of the Patriarchate of Moscow during the previous generation, forcing out and persecuting the real Russian Orthodox. (That persecution that had been ongoing for decades was the real scandal).

For the Establishment only one Orthodox Church exists, that is the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which of course is Western-controlled. For instance, for large parts of the 19th century it was controlled by either the British or French ambassador in Istanbul. In the 1920s the Anglican Church gave the ultra-modernist British freemason Patriarch Meletios Metaksakis £100,000 – a huge sum in those days, say £10,000,000 today, which was essentially a bribe to pass pro-Anglican measures like introducing the heterodox calendar and recognizing the Anglican ‘priesthood’. Since the collapse of the British Empire after the Second World War, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has been taken over by the US, of which it is just a mouthpiece.

Finally, there some Christians in the UK who love the Russian Orthodox Church; but there are very, very few of us. It is a great pity that we, the best friends that Russia will ever have in the UK, are not appreciated or supported by Russia. That will always be very painful for us.