"Raising the Titanic"...
- Now this one is pretty good, I think. If we have to go back to
events in 1984, and the time of a previous Patriarch, it sounds like the
"good stuff" must be buried pretty deep...
Perhaps we need to go back to those long-ago days when
Metropolitan Anastassy took part in a service with the Archbishop of
> HEAD OF ANGLICAN CHURCH A GUEST > OF PATRIARCH GERMAN OF SERBIA[*]
> Glasnik, the official periodical of the Serbian Orthodox Church (which, like
> the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, reaches America several months late)
> reports in its July, 1984, issue, that, at the invitation of Patriarch
> German of Serbia, Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury arrived in
> The head of the Anglican Communion was accorded an exceptionally warm and
> honored reception. At the airport, Archbishop Runcie was met by the
> Patriarch himself, his Synod and the staff of the Patriarchate. Also present
> to greet him were the President of Parliament, the Secretary of the
> Commission for Religious Affairs, and others. The Patriarch and Archbishop
> Runcie exchanged speeches of greeting right at the airport. The day
> following the guest's arrival official talks were begun between the Orthodox
> and the Anglicans. The talks were conducted in an amicable tone, despite the
> fact that the Patriarch noted that the Anglicans were ordaining women to the
> priesthood and had far from unanimously removed the "Filioque" clause from
> the Creed. The Patriarch expressed the opinion that the ordination of women
> was probably a question of a temporary nature and, thus, in the future would
> not constitute an obstacle to the establishment of closer ties with the
> Anglicans. Archbishop Runcie assured the Patriarch that there were no women
> being ordained in England, and that there would never be. (N.B.: Archbishop
> Runcie apparently unscrupulously misled the Patriarch. It is highly doubtful
> that he could be unaware of the mood of his Anglicans, who four months
> earlier, at one of their general Conferences, had raised the question of
> priesthood for women; at that time it turned out that, of 41 bishops, only
> six were opposed; of 131 priests, 98 were opposed; and of 135 laymen, only
> 79 opposed the ordination of priestesses. For more information, see our
> article on priestesses among the Anglicans). Women priests, they said, were
> only permitted in Hong Kong, because there are not enough male priests
> Afterwards, the Patriarch held a large reception in honor of the guest of
> the Church of Serbia in the Patriarchate headquarters. High-ranking
> government bureaucrats and the civic administration of Belgrade were
> The hospitality of the Patriarch with respect to the Anglicans extended so
> far that he even placed at their disposal the chapel of the Holy Cross in
> the Patriarchate so they could celebrate their eucharistic service.
> Archbishop Runcie served, in the presence of the Patriarch and his
> colleagues, after which the Anglicans partook of their eucharist, as did
> Presbyterians and others; five people received confirmation according to the
> Anglican rite. Later, a recital of religious music was given by three choirs
> in honor of Runcie.
> Runcie and his entourage, accompanied by the Patriarch, were also received
> by the president of the government and parliament.
> Archbishop Runcie also visited the Theological School, again accompanied by
> the Patriarch. The guests were greeted by a choir of students who chanted
> "Is polla eti, Despota" and the Lord's Prayer in English.
> Fr. Amphilokhy, the dean of the Theological Faculty (a former disciple of
> the famous theologian Fr. Justin Popovich) greeted the Anglican delegation
> with a warm speech, in which, among other things, he said: "Greeting you,
> Your Grace, we lovingly venerate, in your person, the martyr's blood of St.
> Alban, the apostolic zeal of Sts. Patrick and Augustine, first Archbishop of
> Canterbury, being mindful at the same time, and deriving inspiration from
> the poetic gift of the wondrous Shakespeare.
> Archbishop Runcie responded to the speeches of greeting with a lengthy
> speech of his own, in which he pointed out that "The Anglicans and the
> Orthodox have much in common in their understanding of the role of the
> Church and the people. People form the Church, but the Church makes the
> nation. But we know from our history that abuses may come about. Sometimes
> the Church may fall into the self-enclosed circle of its own history,
> starting to serve nationalism more than the people. Here the ecumenical
> movement can set us aright and set before us a broader horizon of the plans
> of God, while the heritage of Christian divisions exists to incite
> contemporary antagonism ."
> Bidding his guest farewell at a formal banquet, the Patriarch greeted the
> English Ambassador Scott, saying: "The divine service which His Grace served
> in our Church of the Holy Cross, the presence at it of the distinguished
> people of your religious community, the communion of them all, has produced
> a remarkable impression upon me I watched with enthusiasm the conduct of Mr.
> Scott before communion. Knowing what the bishop signifies in the Church, he
> received holy communion on his knees. This was very reassuring.
> The Patriarch gave a number of parting gifts to Archbishop Runcie and his
> entourage, and Runcie himself gave the Patriarch a donation towards the
> construction of the new wing of the Theological Faculty in Belgrade.
> This is by far not the first such ecumenical encounter organized by the
> Church of Serbia, alas. From the official periodical of the Greek Orthodox
> Archdiocese of North and South America, The Orthodox Observer (21 Nov.,
> '84), the World Council of Churches organized an encounter of the Commission
> on World Mission and Evangelism at the Diocesan Center of the Serbian Church
> near Hildesheim, West Germany. In the course of several days, the Serbian
> Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God was used for daily ecumenical
> services with the close cooperation and support of the host of the meeting,
> the Serbian Bishop Lavrentije of Western Europe.
> EDITORIAL COMMENT
> In many ways, the preceding article speaks for itself, but perhaps a few
> observations can be made for the sake of clarifying some issues for the
> readers of the Orthodox Christian Witness.
> First, we are certainly indebted to our Synod's Department of Public and
> Foreign Relations for providing all of the above details in connection with
> Runcie's visit to the Orthodox Church of Serbia. Although the event was
> reported in the ecumenical press, most of the particulars mentioned in our
> Synod's' Newsletter were not published elsewhere in English.
> As for the visit itself, it must be said that it is inconceivable how an
> Orthodox patriarch -- contrary to every holy canon and all Orthodox
> Tradition --could offer an Orthodox chapel for the religious rites of a
> leader of a heretical body, especially one so ardently heretical as the
> Anglican denomination.
> The holy canons are quite specific in this matter:
> "Let a bishop, presbyter, or deacon who has only prayed with heretics be
> excommunicated; but if he has permitted them to perf orm any clerical
> office, let him be deposed." (45th Apostolic Canon)
> This incident is both regrettable and disheartening, because it demonstrates
> very clearly that the Patriarch of Serbia has espoused the "Branch Theory"
> ecclesiology of Ecumenism. This is a classic example of what happens when
> "conservative" Orthodox remain within the "World Council of Churches" as
> organic members of that body, and it certainly proves the truth of Visser't
> Hooft's predictions made at Evanston, Illinois, in 1954. (See the preceding
> article, Visser't Hooft's Prophecy.)
> Unfortunately, some years ago, the notorious Metropolitan Nikodim of
> Leningrad provided a precedent for similar ecumenical activities; for on one
> notable occasion, Nikodim -- dressed in his episcopal mandia -- permitted
> Cardinal Willebrands to perform a Roman mass in the Orthodox cathedral of
> Leningrad in the presence of an Orthodox congregation.
> As for the other incidents that took place during the reception afforded to
> Runcie in Serbia, they serve only to confirm what we have written above:
> i.e., that the "Branch Theory" mentality is, indeed, displacing Orthodox
> ecclesiology among the churchmen of that very land where St. Savas labored
> so strenuously to establish the True Faith.
> To begin with, it would be hard to imagine a more inappropriate manner of
> greeting an Anglican clergyman than that used by Father (now Bishop)
> Amphilokhy As far as Anglicans are concerned, the veneration of the "blood
> of the martyrs" or of their relics is blatant "popery" -- hardly a
> compliment to one with Anglican sensitivities.
> But more importantly, can an Orthodox Christian sincerely say that in the
> person of today's heretical Archbishop of Canterbury we "lovingly venerate
> the martyr's blood of St. Alban, and the apostolic zeal of SS. Patrick and
> Augustine"? (Why "the wondrous Shakespeare" was included by Fr. Amphilokhy
> in this enumeration of British saints is not so clear. Was Shakespeare
> canonized recently in the United Kingdom?) In any case, if the Archbishop of
> Canterbury can be addressed in this manner, shouldn't we also -- in all
> fairness -- venerate the zeal of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the fervor of
> St. Ignatius the Godbearer, and the wisdom of St. Gregory the Dialogist in
> the person of today's Pope John Paul II of Rome? The Pope, at least, still
> gives lip service to the veneration of saints and of holy relics.
> The crux of the whole matter is that today's Anglicans have nothing in
> common with the British Saints Alban, Patrick and Augustine. These Saints
> believed in the Resurrection; the Anglican hierarchy does not. And what does
> St. Paul say concerning this? "If Christ is not risen, then your faith is in
> vain" (cf. I Corinth. 15:16). Furthermore, the above-mentioned Christian
> Saints did not ordain women to the priesthood, nor did they sponsor
> "Abortion Funds," or celebrate homosexual marriages as today's Anglicans do.
> And this gives rise to another question: Would Bishop Amphilokhy's spiritual
> father -- Fr. Justin Popovich -- ever have used such a manner of addressing
> the leader of such a heretical body? Or, to put it another way, would Fr.
> Justin Popovich ever have demonstrated such an intentional disregard for the
> errors and innovations that Anglicanism exemplifies and stubbornly
> propagates? In many ways, the fact that Fr.. Amphilokhy is the rector of the
> seminary and has recently been appointed bishop answers this question and
> reveals the vivid contrast which exists between himself and his former
> spiritual father, Fr. Justin Popovich.
> In contrast to Fr. Amphilokhy, Fr. Justin Popovich was not allowed to teach
> in the seminary, nor was he ever made bishop. Instead, he was placed under
> house arrest, and then officially forgotten by the current authorities of
> the Serbian Church. Do not Fr. Amphilokhy's ecumenistic words of greeting to
> Runcie demonstrate how far he has strayed from the path of his spiritual
> elder? It is one thing to be cordial and hospitable to guests, and it is
> quite another thing to calumniate the Saints by identifying them with a
> heresiarch bishop, and then chanting "Is polla eti, Despota" to him! It
> seems quite apparent from the above that Fr. Amphilokhy has certainly
> compromised himself so that he might receive the honors and promotions which
> were denied his former spiritual father, Fr. Justin Popovich. who was one of
> the outstanding Orthodox theologians of this century.
> Certainly, Runcie and the WCC have contributed large sums to the
> construction of a new seminary building in Serbia. But this does not justify
> the obsequious oratory used by Fr. Amphilokhy, and the "Is polla eti,
> Despota's," and the like. For Fr. Justin Popovich, at least, Orthodoxy's
> birthright and heritage were worth far more than a bowl of lentils.
> Some years ago, our Synod's Newsletter (Nov.-Dec., 1979) published a report
> entitled "The Church of Serbia at the Crossroads?" The article noted that
> Bishop Christopher of the Serbian Patriarchal Church in America had
> participated in joint prayers with Archbishop Iakovos, and an assortment of
> heterodox clergymen, clergywomen and rabbis.
> All these recent ecclesiastical events have caused us to ponder how it has
> become fashionable today in some Orthodox circles to talk about restoring
> the "mind of the Fathers" in our lives and in our theology. Certainly, if
> "the mind of the Fathers" is absent in some Orthodox quarters, then this
> restoration is all to the good. But we ask: Where is the "mind of the
> Fathers" in all these mindless ecumenistic gestures and incidents?
> In view of these sad developments, both past and present, it is no wonder
> that more and more Orthodox Christians find it difficult to continue having
> relationships with the Serbian Patriarchate.
> *From the Department of Public and Foreign Relations of the Synod of Bishops
> of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, "Newsletter No. 49,"
> January-March, 1985.
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