JULY "0RTHODOX CHRISTIAN WITNESS"
----- Original Message -----
From: "Fr. Neketas Palassis" <frneketas@...>
To: <Recipient list suppressed>
Sent: Thursday, October 10, 2002 5:18 PM
Subject: JULY 0CW: WE'RE CATCHING UP
DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF ST. JOHN, ARCHBISHOP OF SAN FRANCISCO
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN WITNESS (USPS 412-260)
is published monthly by St. Nectarios American Orthodox Cathedral,
10300 Ashworth Avenue North, Seattle, Washington 98133-9410.
Fr. Neketas S. Palassis, Editor Email: frneketas@...
Telephone (206) 522-4471; (800) 643-4233 U.S. & Canada; Fax: 206-523-0550
JULY, 2002, Vol. XXXVI, No. 11, (1518)
THIS ISSUE, THOUGH DATED JULY,2002, WAS PUBLISHED
IN OCTOBER, 2002. BOTH ITEMS ARE OF EXTREME IMPORTANCE.
By Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis
Professor of the Theological School of the University of Thessalonica
(From the new calendar newpaper, Orthodoxos Typos, June 23, 2002
2. THE CHURCH OF GEORGIA AND ITS PERSECUTION
By Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis
Professor of the Theological School of the University of Thessalonica
(From the new calendar newpaper, Orthodoxos Typos, June 23, 2002)
Editors' Introduction: There are flaws in this article. On the one hand, it
is a fairly sound text written by a "conservative" new calendar clergyman
in Greece. On the other hand, it employs terminology and concepts that have
become part and parcel of "World Orthodoxy" in its ecumenistic activities.
In other words, this article shows in part how far the "conservative" new
calendarists are beginning to drift from their Orthodox roots. It also
demonstrates how untenable their theological position is. Despite their
prominent position in the new calendar Church of Greece, both Fr. Theodore
Zisis and his colleague, Fr. George Metalinos (the author of I Confess One
Baptism), are being marginalized more and more by their new calendar
colleagues, and they have even been declared as being "outside the Church"
by the more earnest ecumenists in Greece!
During these days, the subject of conversation for many faithful members of
the Church is the Byzantine divine liturgy performed by the Ecumenical
Patriarch Bartholomew in the Byzantine church of St. Apollinaris in
Ravenna, Italy. At the Liturgy, not only were heterodox and the members of
other religions that is, Papists and Moslems present, praying together,
but also many Papists took communion. Thus, in full view of many
eyewitnesses and television viewers, the intercommunion for which many have
yearned for a long time was accomplished. Intercommunion, of course, means
the participation in the common Cup on the part of divided Christians
[sic]. Up until now at least in various statements intercommunion was
considered the final goal of the road to unity, after various theological
differences had been superseded and unity in the Faith had been
It appears that the theological differences have been solved, the
theological dialogue has been completed, the Papacy has forsaken its
numerous heresies and renounced them, unity in the Faith has been restored,
the Lord's seamless tunic is no longer torn, and none of us learned about
it, so that we might rejoice and celebrate together over this joyous event.
Unfortunately, nothing of the sort has happened. The theological
differences remain intact and abysmal, and Christ's tunic is still torn.
Simply, what was up until now the Tradition of the Holy Fathers simply has
been ignored and forsaken, together with the contemporary statements
regarding inter-Christian relations, according to which the basic
ecclesiological premise was that "the certitude of the Eucharist derives
from the Orthodoxy of the Faith, even as the certitude of the Eucharist
testifies to the Orthodoxy of the Faith. In this sense there existed an
immutable canonical principle in the undivided Church; according to this
principle, the restoration of ecclesiastical communion is not possible from
an ecclesiological point of view without a previous restoration of unity in
the correct faith, that is, in that faith which upheld the dictum 'the
faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all,' according to
Vincent of Lérins' axiomatic declaration" (Orthodoxy and the World, by
Metropolitan Damaskinos Papandreou of Switzerland, Katerína, 1993, pp.
359-360). In his concluding remarks regarding Orthodoxy's current issues,
he adds the following: "Thus, the restoration of ecclesiastical communion
will be the fruit of a confirmed or achieved unity of faith, and not a
simple presupposition [to that unity]" (ibid. p. 364).
So, has unity in the faith been achieved so that the faithful can
now partake of the common Cup? Up until now, we had some similar isolated
incidents [of inter-communion], which were ascribed to personal whims and
positions, and to the inability of Orthodox priests to discern and confirm
the identity of those who approached [for communion] during the Divine
Liturgy. It should be noted at this point that every violation of the
canons creates a precedent for other subsequent canonical violations. If we
allow the sacred canons to be set at nought in a certain matter, we make it
easier for greater violations to occur later. If we unravel and tear a
garment and do not endeavor to repair it, "the rending of the garment will
become greater." If we observed the Church's canons that forbid joint
prayers with heretics, and the phrases "The doors, the doors! In wisdom let
us attend," and "The Holies for the Holy" in the Divine Liturgywhich
require that only the faithful be present in the church nave during the
Liturgyas well as, "Let none of the catechumens remain" and "As many as are
of the faithful"which demand strictly that only the Orthodox faithful be
presentif only these Orthodox practices were observed, I say, we would not
have reached this unacceptable point where we have a problem of discerning
whether those approaching [the Cup] are Orthodox, Papist, or Protestant.
And now we unjustly and hypocritically throw the blame on the deacon, who
did not take care and observe that many of those who approached for
communion in Ravenna were Papists, and he failed to warn Bartholomew and
Anastasios, the Archbishop of Albania, about this, and they didn't know
what was happening, and hence they have no responsibility. Would that the
deacons and presbyters had some say and some responsibility in ecumenical
activities, which are planned solely by the patriarchs, archbishops and
bishops. The situation would then be very different.*
In any case, with the official and festive celebrations of the Divine
Liturgy, especially in a church under the jurisdiction of heretics, the
intercommunion that took place assumes another character, because what
happened was permitted by the Ecumenical Patriarch, the first in rank among
the Orthodox patriarchs and archbishops, who, of course, according to a
pan-Orthodox consensus and understanding has the primary responsibility and
initiative in inter-Orthodox and pan-Christian relations.
Who, now, is going to impede Papists from communicating in
Orthodox churches, especially since they have the Vatican's permission, and
are urged to this [by the Vatican]. And who is going to censure
Latin-minded and pro-Papacy Orthodox clergymen and laypeople who give
Communion to heterodox and who partake of the Eucharist of the Latins? The
power and influence of the image is enormous. The example of the Patriarch
and the Archbishop of Albania communicating the heretical Papists, despite
the differences in faith, opens an innovative and perilous path in
inter-Christian relations. Not even the most audacious
ecumenists Patriarchs Meletios Metaxakis and Athenagoras ever conceived
or dared to take this path.** And this path means that all things are being
steamrolled syncretistically, and there is no longer any concept of heresy
and error, and consequently, no distinction between the Orthodox and
heretics, and that the Holy Fathers, who convoked councils and condemned
the heretics, were in error, and God must forgive them, and that despite
the resistance of some "fanatics" and "extremists" who continue to appeal
to Tradition, the union of the churches will be imposed by a fiat, without
a solution of theological differences.
Most people don't understand the theological differences and
applaud what is transpiring. The conservatives and traditionalists will be
marginalized. Already during the summer of 2001, on the [Greek] island of
Syros, at an assembly of Papists who visited the Ecumenical Patriarch, it
was announced, as the [newspaper] Katholiki of the Greek Uniates wrote
joyously, that the union has already been accomplished in deed. In any
case, this is the model for unity that the Uniates have used: we keep our
differences of faith and worship, but we proceed to union with the pope.***
* * *
The Great Church of Christ, the Church of Constantinople, has,
throughout the ages, acquired great authority and influence. It has become
a universal, ecumenical center which led the Christian commonwealth in
exemplary unity, based on an exact and unwavering observance of the
Apostolic traditions, the Patristic doctrines and the sacred canons: "The
preaching of the Apostles and the doctrines of the Fathers established the
one faith in the Church."**** The attitude of the Holy Fathers of the First
Ecumenical Council (whom we honored last Sunday) toward Arius confirmed the
Church's subsequent attitude towards all the other heretics, especially
against the Papacy with its dozens of heresies and errors. According to the
Synaxarion of the Sunday of the Holy Fathers, Peter, the Patriarch of
Alexandria, saw Christ as an infant on the altar, and He was wearing a torn
garment. When the Saint asked Him, "Who has torn Thy garment, Saviour?",
Christ's bitter reply was that the perpetrator was Arius. Alexander, the
Patriarch of Alexandria, hesitated to serve and partake of communion with
Arius, despite the latter's hypocritical repentance, and the Saint besought
God to dispel his anguish of soul. The Papacy divided the Christian world
beginning with the Schism of 1054 and then again in the 16th century in the
West, when it provoked the Protestant Reformation. No other Christian
confession has so torn the garment of Christ as the Papacy has.
Has the Church of Constantinople changed the policy of the Fathers? Is it
no longer identical with the Great Church of the Ecumenical Councils of the
Gregorys, of Chrysostom, of Maximus, of Photius, of Palamas, of Mark
Eugenicus, of Scholarius, of the Kollyvades?
The answer to the question above is a resounding Yes!, it is no longer the
Church of the Saints mentioned. How do we know? Because should any Orthodox
Christians today appeal to the writings of the above-mentioned Saints, they
will automatically be declared "fundamentalists" by "World Orthodoxy's"
bishops! And this is so because these patristic writings unambiguously and
decisively refute and condemn the teachings and activities of today's
ecumenistic bishops (Editors' Note).
THE CHURCH OF GEORGIA AND ITS PERSECUTION.
NOW LET'S LOOK AND SEE HOW THE LOVE SO DEMONSTRATED TO THE NON-ORTHODOX IS
APPLIED TO THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS OF THE COUNTRY OF GEORGIA.
Brief History of the Recent Persecution of our Church
in the Republic of Georgia
(October 6, 2002)
The Holy Orthodox Church in North America (HOCNA) was formed in 1988 by a
group of pious Orthodox Christian clergy and laity who wished to preserve
and live by the dogmas, liturgical practices, and traditions of the
Orthodox Church, free from distortion and innovations. Our local diocese,
The Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Boston of which Metropolitan Ephraim has
been the head since his consecration as bishop in 1988 was officially
incorporated in 1999 as a subdivision of our Holy Orthodox Church in North
In 1997, a group of like-minded Orthodox Christians in the Republic of
Georgia not wishing to remain members any longer of the renovationist
official Georgian Orthodox Church which had collaborated so closely with
the Soviet regime sought to join our jurisdiction. They were officially
received by us in the autumn of 1997. Until such time as a suitable
candidate is found to be ordained bishop for the flock in Georgia, they
remain directly under the administration of Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston.
Thus, the parishes in Georgia are not simply affiliated with us, but form
an organic part of our Church. Please see their web-site:
The wish of our parishioners in Georgia is simply to practice their
Orthodox Faith in freedom and according to their conscience and
convictions. They have no political agenda whatsoever.
The situation in Georgia is analogous to that in Russia. The "official
State Church" of the Georgian Patriarchate is seeking to obtain a favored
status and special privileges from the secular government. Since in both
these cases those in power in the Church and in the Civil Administration
are friends and collaborators from the Soviet era, one could say that the
official Patriarchates have already attained their goal. Any day now the
Georgian Patriarchate and the Georgian government are supposed to sign a
special "Concordat" the terms of which have already inspired loud protests
from human rights groups both within Georgia and abroad.
Ever since our people left the State Church of Georgia in 1997, they have
been vilified in the press, threatened, and even openly persecuted by the
forces of the official Church with the cooperation of the civil
authorities. This has been well documented; the pertinent papers are in our
files. Our clergy and parishioners in Georgia have been declared to be
traitors to the homeland, schismatics, heretics, CIA agents, etc.
Two earlier cases have been especially prominent.
1) Fr. Andrew Boroda the former head of our mission in Georgia was
harassed, illegally detained by the police, beaten, and sent death threats.
Eventually Fr. Andrew was even forced to emigrate for his own safety and
that of his family. He now serves as the priest of our parish in St. Paul,
Minnesota. A review of the documents pertaining to Fr. Andrew Boroda's
immigration case would shed much light on the present state of affairs in
the Republic of Georgia and on the position our church there is found in.
2) In western Georgia, in the large city of Kutaisi, our parish has been
refused permission to build a church now for several years. They have been
told repeatedly by the municipal authorities that first they must bring
them written permission from the local bishop of the State Church before
they will issue them the necessary permits, etc. Of course, the local
Patriarchate bishop has no intention of ever granting such permission.
And now a new round of persecution has just now broken out:
- On September 24, 2002, we received the following letter written by
our clergy in Georgia to Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston, their
Information for His Eminence: Pogrom in Georgia!
As you know, our parish in Georgia is building, with your blessing and
financial help, a small church on our own plot of land.
The local bishop of the Georgian Patriarchate and its priests do not want
to allow this construction. Therefore, they have contacted the local
governor and he, on his part, has assigned others to study corresponding
structures and clarify the legality of this building project. This
commission, of course, has revealed that the construction has no license,
the project is not confirmed by the corresponding authorities. In general,
one has to say that in Georgia, except for the large cities, this law in
fact does not have any effect, that one has to confirm the project through
a government agency and get a license for construction. Everyone does as
they wish and what they wish, and thus they build. Even in Tbilisi there
are many such buildings. And in small populated areas like Shemokmedi in
Guria all the houses are built without permission granted from higher
authorities for the projects. Almost 100% of the houses!
So, this is just an excuse to somehow interfere with the construction. But
our people continue to build, nonetheless.
Today, September 24, 2002, in the local school at Shemokmedi there was a
meeting organized in this village on this topic. We decided that it would
not pay for us to send a delegation from Tbilisi and had Fr. David go there
from Kutaisi in order to see and take part in this meeting. And also, so
that on our part that there would be no clashes with the parishioners and
the clergy of the Patriarchate. At noon they called us from Guria and said
that a delegation had specially come from Tbilisi from the Patriarchate,
and also the local bishop of the Patriarchate took part. They squeezed our
people out of the auditorium and the delegation from the Patriarchate began
reviling us and our Church and said many dirty slanders against us. In a
couple of words, they would not allow our delegation to utter a word so
that they could stand up and explain to the local people of Shemokmedi what
was going on, etc. Finally, our people loudly demanded to be given an
opportunity to speak, and after this demand, our parishioner David from
Guria began speaking, but was not able to finish since by the instigation
of one priest of the Patriarchate, our people were driven out into the
court of the school where some drunken people were waiting (so-called
parishioners of the Patriarchate), who began throwing stones and bottles at
them, and also broke the windows of the car which Fr. David and ours from
Kutaisi had come in. Also, they wanted to beat our parishioners and dashed
at them. Our Luka suffered a little as well as a few others.
After all that happened ours gathered at one place and them broke up. Our
people in Guria, after that that transpired, have decided not to stop, and
to finish the construction of the Church! We shall see what will be in the
That is all for the present.
With love in Christ,
Fr. Gelasius and Father Zurab [Aroshvili]
- The following day, Sept. 25, the clergy reported that the violence
against our parishioners was continuing. At school their children were
declared to be "sectarians" and then beaten. The villagers in Shemokmedi
began to vandalize the construction site of our small church there. Our
clergy fear that this wave of violence will spread to the city of
Kutaisi where we also have a parish and eventually to the capital,
Tbilisi. Our clergy have sought to impress upon the faithful that they are
not to answer violence with violence on any account.
- In response to these persecutions, Metropolitan Ephraim wrote the
- The Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Boston
- 1476 Centre Street
Roslindale, Massachusetts 02131-1417
The Honorable Richard Miles
U. S. Ambassador to Georgia, Tbilisi, Georgia
September 27, 2002
From the Georgian town of Shemokmedi, in Guria near the Black Sea, there
have come to me reports from first-hand eyewitnesses of incidents of
violence, destruction of private property, and verbal and physical abuse
directed against innocent people, including children, who have broken no
law. Specifically, these are Orthodox Christians who have separated
themselves from the Patriarchate of Georgia because they do not consent to
the Patriarchate's ecclesiastical policies. In other words, this is
strictly a matter of their religious convictions. It has been reported to
me that the above-mentioned acts of violence have been provoked and
encouraged by clergy of the Georgian Patriarchate.
These faithful are affiliated with us and they are, in fact, a mission of
our Church. Furthermore, they are supported in their church work by funds
sent from our Orthodox Christian institutions and parishes in the United
I ask you to investigate this open violations of the rights of these
innocent people. For more specific details about these incidents, I urge
you to contact one Otari Babunashvili (wotar@...), a resident of
Tbilisi who is fluent in English.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.
+ Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston
- The Georgian clergy also wrote their own letter to the American
H.E. Ambassador Richard Miles
The United States Embassy
September 27th 2002
Dear Mr. Ambassador,
We represent a community of Orthodox Christian faithful who are under the
jurisdiction of His Eminence Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston, of the Holy
Orthodox Church in North America.
We saw it appropriate and necessary to bring to your attention the
following alarming fact that took place in village Shemokmedi of Guria
region. On September 24th 2002, with the encouragement of local Bishop
Joseph of the official (Patriarchate) jurisdiction and of Mr. Giorgi
Andriadze, Patriarchate's representative in the Georgian Parliament, a mob
armed with sticks and bottles attacked our parishioners injuring them and
damaging their property. On September 25th 2002, with the encouragement of
a local school teacher, an eight-year-old boy (!), a son of our
parishioner, was beaten by his school mates. Finally, it came to our
knowledge that the same people are planning to attack our faithful and
demolish our Church, which we recently started to build with our own funds
on our private piece of land.
We pray that out of your kindness you will look seriously into this issue
and will do your utmost to influence the authorities in preventing this
planned attack against our Church in village Shemokmedi or any future
attacks against our other Churches in Tbilisi and Kutaisi.
It is also our intention to inform the public about these disgraceful and
barbarous deeds perpetrated by the official representatives of the Georgian
Patriarchate. To this aim, on Saturday September 28th at 11:30 AM we will
be holding a press-conference in the office of an NGO "Article 42 of the
Constitution" located in 6 Kostava Avenue (Tel: 935322; 996593).
Thank you very much in advance.
+ Presbyter Gelasius Aroshvili
+ Presbyter Zurab Aroshvili
On September 28, the planned press conference was held; although the
state-run media took the side of the official Georgian Orthodox
Patriarchate, for the most part.
On September 2930, the villagers once again vandalized the church
On October 1, Fr. Gelasius Aroshvili, the head of our mission in
Georgia, and a parishioner who speaks English, Otari Babunashvili, met with
Nicholas Dean, head of the political section of the US Embassy in Tbilisi,
Georgia, and gave him a detailed report of these events. This meeting took
place at Mr. Dean's request.
On October 12, Fr. Gelasius Aroshvili and a delegation of twelve
parishioners from Tbilisi travelled to the village of Shemokmedi to gather
Throughout the village placards were hung summoning all the villagers to
assemble at 10 A.M. on Sunday [!], October 6, in order to protect their
village from the "Boston schismatics" and to demolish our church and thus
destroy this "nest of Satan".
The local authorities and police told our people (who are in the minority)
that they do not intend to interfere in the "internal affairs of the
Today, October 6, 2002, in the village of Shemokmedi, a mob, stirred up
by clergymen from the official Georgian Patriarchate, carried out their
threat and demolished our nearly-completed church to its foundations. Our
parishioners observed the scene from afar; other stayed in their homes to
avoid being beaten again by the mob; yet others have scattered and hid
elsewhere in the region for safety's sake, not wishing to remain in their
own native village.
On Tuesday, October 8, 2002, our clergy plan to hold another press
conference to bring these matters to the attention of the public.
As further evidence of the state of religious affairs in Georgia, we offer
the following report from the Keston Institute in Great Britain:
KESTON INSTITUTE: http://www.keston.org/persecutionframe.htm
If you have any comments or information, please e-mail us at
persecution@..., or contact us at Keston Institute, 38 St Aldates
Oxford OX1 1BN, UK. Tel.: + 44 (0)1865/79 29 29. Fax: + 44 (0)1865/24 00 42.
The police and public prosecutor's office have taken no effective steps to
protect religious minorities from a string of serious physical assaults on
believers attending services. Meetings of Protestant churches (Baptist and
Pentecostal) have been attacked, and the Jehovah's Witnesses in particular
have seen more than 80 such attacks - leaving one woman blinded in one eye
and other such serious injuries - since 1999. Most of the raids have been
led by Basil Mkalavishvili, who was defrocked as a priest by the Georgian
Orthodox Patriarchate in 1995 but who continues to exercise a parish
ministry in the Gldani district of Tbilisi in a different Orthodox
Local authorities require permission from the Georgian Orthodox Church when
any other religious community wishes to build a new place of worship. The
Orthodox Church often denies such permission.
On 3 February, the former Orthodox priest Basil Mkalavishvili and his
supporters raided a warehouse in Tbilisi belonging to the Baptist Union and
burnt thousands of Bibles and other religious books.
Georgian Baptists have issued an international appeal for support. Please
write to your own Foreign Ministry asking that they protest to the Georgian
Government about attacks against religious minorities in Georgia. Please
also write to the Georgian President, Eduard Shevardnadze, to protest
against the Georgian government's lack of action against Mkalavishvili and
to demand that Georgia uphold freedom of conscience and religion. Please
also write to the Georgian Embassy in your country (UK and US embassy
details are included below).
President Shevardnadze's address:
Mr. President Eduard Shevardnadze
7 Ingorokva Street,
Tbilisi 380007 GEORGIA
Address of the Embassy of the Republic of Georgia (USA)
1615 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20009, USA
Tel: +1 (202) 387-2390, Fax: +1 (202) 393-4537
Religious affairs in Georgia are handled by the Deputy State Minister:
Deputy State Minister
Address: 7 Ingorokva St, 380018 Tbilisi, GEORGIA
Tel: +995 32 935033 Fax: +995 32 989710