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JULY "0RTHODOX CHRISTIAN WITNESS"

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  • Fr. Panagiotes Carras
    ... From: Fr. Neketas Palassis To: Sent: Thursday, October 10, 2002 5:18 PM Subject: JULY 0CW:
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 11, 2002
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      ----- 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.
      ________________________________________________________________________
      1. RAVENNA
      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
      _____________________________________________________
      RAVENNA
      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
      accomplished.
      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
      America.

      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:
      http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Thebes/1865.

      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
      ecclesiastical superior:
      Information for His Eminence: Pogrom in Georgia!
      Your Eminence,
      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
      future.
      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
      following letter.
      - 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
      Dear Sir:
      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
      States.
      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.
      Sincerely yours,
      + Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston

      - The Georgian clergy also wrote their own letter to the American
      Ambassador:
      H.E. Ambassador Richard Miles
      The United States Embassy
      Tbilisi
      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.
      Sincerely,
      + 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
      construction site.
      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
      information firsthand.
      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
      village".

      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.
      GEORGIA
      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
      jurisdiction.
      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
      President's Office
      7 Ingorokva Street,
      Tbilisi 380007 GEORGIA
      Fax: 995-32-999-630
      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
      Website: http://www.georgiaemb.org/
      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
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