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Ten Reasons Why the Ecumenical Patriarchate is Not Orthodox - Part 3

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  • VladMoss@aol.com
    VIII. The EP’s Inter-Christian Ecumenism At the Second Pan-Orthodox Conference in Rhodes, in September, 1963, it was unanimously agreed that the Orthodox
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2009

      VIII.  The EP’s Inter-Christian Ecumenism

       

           At the Second Pan-Orthodox Conference in Rhodes, in September, 1963, it was unanimously agreed that the Orthodox should enter into dialogue with the Catholics, provided it was “on equal terms”. In practice, this meant that the Catholics should abandon their eastern-rite missions in Orthodox territories. The Catholics have never shown much signs of wishing to oblige in this, but they did help to make a dialogue easier by redefining the Orthodox, in Vatican II’s decree on Ecumenism, as “separated brethren”.

       

           On January 5 and 6, 1964, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras met in Jerusalem and prayed together. This was a clear transgression of the canons concerning relations with heretics (Apostolic canon 45). Archbishop Chrysostom of Athens was reported as saying that “while the Pope is going to the Holy Land to kneel before the Saviour’s sepulchre, you (Athenagoras) are going to kneel before the Pope and bury Orthodoxy.”

       

           Further intense activity led, on December 7, 1965, to the “lifting of the anathemas” of 1054 between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. The announcement was made simultaneously in Rome and Constantinople. It included the following words: “Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I with his synod, in common agreement, declare that: a. They regret the offensive words, the reproaches without foundation, and the reprehensible gestures which, on both sides, have marked or accompanied the sad events of this period [viz. In the 11th century]. B. They likewise regret and remove both from memory and from the midst of the Church the sentences of excommunication which followed these events, the memory of which has influenced actions up to our day and has hindered closer relations in charity; and they commit these excommunications to oblivion.” [1]

       

           It should be pointed out, first, that in saying that the schism of 1054 was based on “reproaches without foundation”, the Patriarch was in effect saying that the Papacy was not, or never had been, heretical – although the Papacy had renounced none of its heresies, and Pope Paul VI had reasserted papal infallibility as recently as Vatican II. Secondly, while relations with excommunicated individuals or Churches can be restored if those individuals or Churches repent, anathemas against heresies cannot be removed insofar as a heresy remains a heresy forever.

       

           In the journal Ekklesia Archbishop Chrysostom of Athens denied that the Patriarch had the authority to act independently of the other Orthodox Churches. And he said: “I am convinced that no other Orthodox Church will copy the Ecumenical Patriarch’s action.”[2] From this time, several monasteries and sketes on Mount Athos ceased to commemorate the Patriarch.

       

           On December 15, 1965, Metropolitan Philaret, First-Hierarch of the ROCA, wrote to the Patriarch protesting against his action: “Your gesture puts a sign of equality between error and truth. For centuries all the Orthodox Churches believed with good reasons that it has violated no doctrine of the Holy Ecumenical Councils; whereas the Church of Rome has introduced a number of innovations in its dogmatic teaching. The more such innovations were introduced, the deeper was to become the separation between the East and the West. The doctrinal deviations of Rome in the eleventh century did not yet contain the errors that were added later. Therefore the cancellation of the mutual excommunication of 1054 could have been of meaning at that time, but now it is only evidence of indifference in regard to the most important errors, namely new doctrines foreign to the ancient Church, of which some, having been exposed by St. Mark of Ephesus, were the reason why the Church rejected the Union of Florence… No union of the Roman Church with us is possible until it renounces its new doctrines, and no communion in prayer can be restored with it without a decision of all the Churches, which, however, can hardly be possible before the liberation of the Church of Russia which at present has to live in the catacombs… A true dialogue implies an exchange of views with a possibility of persuading the participants to attain an agreement. As one can perceive from the Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, Pope Paul VI understands the dialogue as a plan for our union with Rome with the help of some formula which would, however, leave unaltered its doctrines, and particularly its dogmatic doctrine about the position of the Pope in the Church. However, any compromise with error is foreign to the history of the Orthodox Church and to the essence of the Church. It could not bring a harmony in the confessions of the Faith, but only an illusory outward unity similar to the conciliation of dissident Protestant communities in the ecumenical movement.” [3]

       

           In 1968 the Fourth General Assembly of the WCC took place in Uppsala. It considerably furthered the ecumenical movement, with the Orthodox, as the new general secretary Carson Blake joyfully pointed out, taking full part in all the sections and committees and not, as often in the past, issuing separate statements disagreeing with the majority Protestant view. Archbishop Vitaly (Ustinov) of Canada said to the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia: “At the opening of the Assembly an ecumenical prayer was read in the name of all those assembles: ‘O God our Father, You can create everything anew. We entrust ourselves to You, help us to live for others, for Your love extends over all people, and to search for the Truth, which we have not known…’ How could the Orthodox listen to these last words? It would have been interesting to look at that moment at the faces of the Orthodox hierarchs who had declared for all to hear that they, too, did not know the Truth. Every batyushka of ours in the remotest little village knows the Truth by experience, as he stands before the throne of God and prays to God in spirit and in truth. Even The Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, which is completely subject to the censorship of the communist party, in citing the words of the prayer in its account of this conference, did not dare to translate the English ‘truth’ by the word ‘istina’, but translated it as ‘pravda’ [‘righteousness’]. Of course, everyone very well understood that in the given case the text of the prayer was speaking without the slightest ambiguity about the Truth. Perhaps the Orthodox hierarchs have resorted, in the conference, to the old Jesuit practice of reservatio mentalis, but in that case if all these delegates do not repent of the sin of communion in prayer with heretics, then we must consider them to be on the completely false path of apostasy from the Truth of Orthodoxy… Ecumenism is the heresy of heresies because until now each heresy in the history of the Church has striven to take the place of the true Church, but the ecumenical movement, in uniting all the heresies, invites all of them together to consider themselves the one true Church.”[4]

       

           In 1975, Archbishop Athenagoras of Thyateira and Great Britain published, with the blessing of Patriarch Demetrius, his Thyateira Confession, which declared that the Church is a house without walls which anyone can enter freely and receive “eucharistic hospitality”. And he wrote: “Orthodox Christians believe that the following Churches have valid and true Priesthood or Orders. The Orthodox, the Roman Catholic, the Ethiopian, the Copto-Armenian and the Anglican. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Patriarchate of Romania and the Church of Cyprus half a century ago declared officially that the Anglican Church has valid Orders by dispensation and that means that Anglican Bishops, Priests and Deacons can perform valid sacraments as can those of the Roman Catholic Church.”[5] This heretical confession was condemned by Metropolitan Philaret and his Synod.

       

           Also in 1975, at the WCC’s General Assembly in Nairobi, the Orthodox delegates, having signed an agreement to recognize the sacraments of the non-Orthodox delegates, had declared that “the Orthodox do not expect the other Christians to be converted to Orthodoxy in its historic and cultural reality of the past and the present and to become members of the Orthodox Church” – which gave the lie to their excuse that they were participating in the ecumenical movement “to witness to the non-Orthodox”.[6]

       

           Again, in 1980, the Ecumenical Press Service declared that the WCC was working on plans to unify all Christian denominations into a single new religion.[7]

       

           Then, in 1982, an inter-denominational eucharistic service was composed at a conference in Lima, Peru, in which the Protestant and Orthodox representatives to the WCC agreed that the baptism, eucharist and ordinations of all denominations were valid and acceptable.[8]

       

           In 1990, a Declaration was agreed at Chambésy in Switzerland between a Joint Commission of theologians of the Orthodox (including the EP) and the Monophysites (called “Oriental Orthodox” in the documents), in which the Orthodox and Monophysites were called two “families of churches” (a phrase unknown to Orthodox ecclesiology).

       

           Paragraph Four of the Declaration said: “The two families accept that the two natures [of Christ] with their own energies and wills are united hypostatically and naturally without confusion, without change, without division and without separation and that they are distinguished only in thought (en qewria).”

       

           This is already completely unacceptable from an Orthodox point of view, and represents a heretical, Monophysite formulation. The two natures and wills of Christ are not distinguishable “only in thought”, but also in reality. Paragraph Seven also speaks of the two natures being distinguishable “only in thought”, which implies, as Ludmilla Perepiolkina points out “an absence of this distinction in reality”.[9]

       

           Paragraph Five states: “The two families accept that the One Who wills and acts is always the single Hypostasis of the incarnate Logos”. However, as Perepiolkina again correctly points out, according to the teaching of St. Maximus the Confessor, “the concept of energy (activity) of nature is attributable only to nature as a whole, and not to the hypostasis. This teaching was affirmed at the Sixth Ecumenical Council. In the Chambésy Declaration, as it is evident from Paragraph Five, natural wills and energies in Jesus Christ are attributed to His Hypostasis. In other words, this Paragraph is a purely Monothelite formula”.[10]

       

           Paragraph Eight states: “The two families accept the first three Ecumenical Councils which form our common heritage. With regard to the four later Councils of the Orthodox Church, the Orthodox affirm that, for them, points one through seven are also the teaching of these four later Councils, whereas the oriental Orthodox consider this affirmation of the Orthodox like their own interpretation. In this sense the oriental Orthodox respond positively to this affirmation.”

       

           An unclear statement, about which one thing, however, is clear: the Monophysites do not commit themselves to accepting the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils in the way the Orthodox do, but only “positively respond to their affirmation”, which means nothing in dogmatic terms.

       

           Paragraph Nine states: “In the light of our joint declaration on Christology and the joint affirmations mentioned above, we now clearly realize and understand that our two families have always loyally guarded the same and authentic Christological Orthodox Faith, and have maintained uninterrupted the apostolic tradition although they may have used the Christological terms in a different manner. It is that common faith and that continual loyalty to the apostolic tradition which must be the basis of our unity and communion.”

       

           This is in flat contradiction to 1500 years of Orthodox Tradition, during which all the Holy Fathers unambiguously affirmed that the Monophysites had not “loyally guarded the same and authentic Christological Orthodox Faith”, and were in fact heretics. But the modern ecumenists claim that all the six hundred and thirty holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, as well as all the Fathers of all the succeeding Council that condemned Monophysitism, were wrong, and the whole controversy was simply based on some linguistic misunderstandings!

       

           Paragraph Ten of the Declaration states: “The two families accept that all the anathemas and the condemnations of the past which kept us divided must be lifted by the Churches so that the last obstacle to full unity and communion of our two families can be removed by the grace and power of God. The two families accept that the lifting of the anathemas and the condemnations will be based on the fact that the Councils and the father previously anathematised or condemned were not heretics.”

       

           So according to these “theologians”, the anathemas against all the Monophysite councils and fathers, including the notorious heresiarchs Dioscurus, Timothy and Severus, lifted! This is a clear and explicit rejection of the Faith of the Seven Ecumenical Councils! Of course, the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches (with the exception of Jerusalem) have already implicitly rejected the Councils and the Fathers by their communion in prayer and the sacraments with all sorts of heretics, and even pagans, the WCC General Assembly in Canberra in 1991 being perhaps the most extreme example. Nevertheless, it is a further and important stage to say explicitly that the Ecumenical Councils were wrong, that the Monophysites should not have been condemned, that they were Orthodox all these centuries although the Holy Fathers and all the saints of the Orthodox Church considered them to be heretics. This is not simply a failure to come up to the standards of the Ecumenical Councils: it is a renunciation of the standards themselves.

       

           In essence, the Local Orthodox Churches, led by the EP, here placed themselves under the anathemas against Monophysitism from the Fourth Ecumenical Council onwards, and must be considered to be “semi-Monophysites”.

       

           The ROCOR and the Greek Old Calendarists quickly condemned the Chambésy agreement.[11] Nevertheless, in 1992 the patriarchate of Antioch entered into full, official communion with the Monophysites. There is every indication that the Moscow Patriarchate wants to go along the same path. The MP’s relations with the Armenian Monophysites are especially close.

       

           Chambésy was followed by the Seventh General Assembly of the WCC in Canberra in 1991, in which the Orthodox delegates blasphemed against the Faith still more blatantly. Thus aboriginal pagans invited the participants to pass through a “cleansing cloud of smoke” uniting Aboriginal spirituality to Christian spirituality!

       

           In March, 1992, the heads of the Local Orthodox Churches met in Constantinople and official renounced proselytism among Western Christians. Of course, this renunciation had been implicit in the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s statements since the encyclical of 1920. But it still came as a shock to see the “Church” renounced the hope of conversion and therefore salvation for hundreds of millions of westerners.

       

           Union with the Monophysites proceeded in parallel with moves for union with the Catholics. In 1994 the Local Orthodox churches signed the Balamand agreement with the Catholics, in which the Orthodox and the Catholics were declared to be sister-Churches in the full sense, “two lungs” of the same organism (with the Monophysites as a “third lung”?). The Balamand Agreement, which was signed on the Orthodox side by Moscow, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Romania, Cyprus, Poland and Finland, declared: “Catholics and Orthodox… are once again discovering each other as sister churches” and “recognizing each other as sister churches”. “On each side it is acknowledged that what Christ has entrusted to His Church – the profession of the apostolic faith, participation in the same sacraments, the apostolic succession of bishops, and, above all, the one priesthood celebrating the one Sacrifice of Christ – cannot be considered to be the exclusive property of one of our Churches.” The baptism of penitent papists into the Orthodox Church was prohibited: “All rebaptism (sic) is prohibited.” The Orthodox Church “recognizes the Catholic Church in her entirety as a sister Church, and indirectly recognizes also the Oriental Catholic Churches” (the Uniates). “Special attention should be given on both sides to the preparation and education of future priests with regard to the new ecclesiology, (that they may) be informed of the apostolic succession of the other Church and the authenticity of its sacramental life, (so that) the use of history in a polemical manner (may be avoided)”.

       

           This was an official acceptance of the “branch theory” of the Church. There were protests in Greece and Mount Athos, but Patriarch Bartholomew forced the protestors to back down. This was the same Patriarch, the most senior in Orthodoxy, who said a few years later: “Orthodox Christian and modernist, Protestant and modernist, Jew and modernist, Catholic and modernist: however we worship, as long as we abide in our faith and unite it to our works in the world, we bring the living and always timely message of Divine wisdom into the modern world.”[12]

       

           Since the election of the fervently pro-Catholic (and pro-Soviet) Cyril (Gundyaev) as Patriarch of Moscow in 2009, Patriarch Bartholomew has received a powerful ally in his bid to unite the Orthodox Church with Rome. Preparations are now under way for a Council of the Local Orthodox Churches that will rubber-stamp the two patriarchs’ uniate policy.

       

      IX. The EP’s Inter-Faith Ecumenism, or “Super Ecumenism”.

       

           In the early 1980s inter-Christian ecumenism began to be supplemented by inter-faith ecumenism, or “super ecumenism”. In 1983, the Vancouver General Assembly of the WCC was attended by representatives of every existing religion and began with a pagan rite performed by local Indians. The participation of Orthodox hierarchs in religious services with representatives of all the world’s religions required a rebuke – and a rebuke was forthcoming.

       

           First, the Greek Old Calendarist Metropolitan Gabriel of the Cyclades attempted to address the Vancouver Assembly. But he was not allowed to speak by the ecumenists, who thereby demonstrated that they are “tolerant” and “loving” to every kind of blasphemy, but not to the expression of True Christianity. Then the Synod of the ROCA, also meeting in Canada, anathematised ecumenism, declaring: “To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called ‘branches’ which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all ‘branches’ or sects or denominations, and even religions will be united in one body; and who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the baptism and eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned heretics or advocate, disseminate , or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians, Anathema.”[13]

       

           The implication of this anathema was clear: since the EP was a fully participating member of the WCC, it was under anathema and deprived of the grace of sacraments. As I.M. has written: “There is no heresy without heretics and their practical activity. The WCC in its declarations says: The Church confesses, the Church teaches, the Church does this, the Church does that. In this way the WCC witnesses that it does not recognize itself to be simply a council of churches, but the one church. And all those who are members of the WCC are members of this one false church, this synagogue of satan. And by this participation in the WCC all the local Orthodox churches fall under the anathema of the ROCA of 1983 and fall away from the True Church.…” [14]

       

           In spite of this, the EP has continued to have close relations with non-Christian religions, particularly the Jews and the Muslims. In 1989 Patriarch Parthenius of Alexandria declared that Mohammed was an “Apostle of God” – words that many thousands of New Martyrs under the Turkish yoke had refused to utter even on pain of death. This apostasy from the Christian faith drew no rebuke from the EP.

       

           Most recently, Patriarch Bartholomew congratulated Muslims on the end of the Ramadan fast. Fr. Steven Allen writes: “If anyone asks you why the Genuine Orthodox Christians do not commemorate the present Ecumenical Patriarch, you could, among numerous other items, refer them to the story at the link below.  I pray that it will cause them to think.

       

      http://news-nftu.blogspot.com/2009/09/ecumenical-patriarch-bartholomew.html 

       

           “Patriarch Bartholomew is here publicly teaching that the god of Islam is the true God.  This is an inescapable conclusion from his asking ‘God Almighty’ to reward the Hagarenes for keeping Ramadan.  This by itself makes him a heretic. 

          “The Mohammedans do not worship the Holy Trinity, and therefore their god is a false god.  There is no generic ‘God Almighty’ whom all men - or all ‘monotheists’ - worship, of whom the Holy Trinity is merely a representation or an optional ‘conceptualization’.  The Holy Trinity is, simply and absolutely, the only God.   

       

          “If the Patriarch truly loved the Hagarenes and wanted the true God Almighty to bless them, he would call upon them to convert to the Faith in the Holy Trinity.   If one objects that then he would die for the Faith, for the Moslems would slay him...well, that's good, isn't it?   Isn't that what we believe in?”[15] 

       

      X. The EP’s Persecution of Confessing Orthodox Christians

       

           In spite of the EP’s supposedly universal “love” that embraces all heretics and even non-Christian religions, it clearly hates one group of people – the truly confessing Orthodox Christians. Thus in 1992 it expelled the confessing monks of the skete of the Holy Prophet Elijah (Russian Church Abroad) from Mount Athos. Again, it has initiated an unprecedented campaign of slander and harassment against the 104 monks of the Athonite monastery of Esphigmenou. The monastery has been subjected to a military siege; its property has been seized; a false monastery called “Esphigmenou” has been created in order to take the place of the genuine monastery of that name; and most recently it has succeeded in having jail sentences served by the Greek courts on the monastery’s Abbot Methodius and twelve of his monks. So the EP today combines the broadest welcome to almost all contemporary heresies while persecuting those who hold to the True Orthodox faith. To him and to those with him the Church proclaims: Anathema!

       

      July 28 / August 10, 2004; revised September 16/29, 2009.

       

       

       

       



      [1] Full text in Eastern Churches Review, vol. I, 1, Spring, 1966, pp. 49-50.

      [2] Eastern Churches Review, vol. I, 1, Spring, 1966, p. 50.

      [3] Full text in Ivan Ostroumoff, The History of the Council of Florence, pp. 193-199.

      [4] Vitaly, "Ekumenizm (Ecumenism)", Pravoslavnij Vestnik (The Orthodox Herald), June, 1969, pp. 14-30; Moskva (Moscow), 1991, 9, p. 149 (in Russian).

      [5] Athenagoras (Kokkinakis), The Thyateira Confession, London, 1975, p. 61.

      [6] “Orthodoxy and the Ecumenical Movement”, Orthodox Christian Witness, October 27 / November 9, 1997, p. 2.

      [7] Newsletter of the Foreign Relations Departm

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