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Titanic Still at Bottom...

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  • Rev. John R. Shaw
    It is rather hard to see anything of disturbing ecumenism in what is described in the posting below. In the 1960 s and 70 s, those of us who were around and
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2000
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      It is rather hard to see anything of "disturbing ecumenism" in
      what is described in the posting below.

      In the 1960's and '70's, those of us who were around and who were
      Orthodox then, were concerned and at times shocked by the "ecumenical
      excesses" committed then, mostly by the Patriarchate of Constantinople
      and the Moscow Patriarchate.

      Thus for example one priest of the Greek Archdiocese (and a loyal
      one at that) complained in my presence of how a Jewish rabbi was allowed
      to be in a procession of "interfaith clergy" that went through the Royal
      Gates of the seminary chapel in Brookline. "I looked at that and was
      appalled", said he: "Here I was a tonsured Reader, and could not go
      thorugh those Royal Gates--but a Jewish rabbi *could*". This example was
      par for the course in those days.

      The description below, on the other hand, is simply of a *talk*
      that went on between foreign, heterodox clergy and Serbian Orthodox
      clergy in suffering Belgrade. There is no mention of concelebration, nor
      of joint statements prejudicial to Orthodoxy. If you have Sollogub's
      illustrated history of the Church Abroad in 2 volumes, you can turn to p.
      69 in Vol. I and see a photo of "the visit of Anglican clergy to Belgrade
      on March 31, 1927"--and it seems to have been viewed as an important
      occasion at the time. In the front row, Metropolitan Anthony
      [Khrapovistky] is seated next to an Anglican cleric, and there are at
      least 4 other Orthodox bishops, including I think Metropolitn Nestor and
      Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko), a Serbian bishop, and several Russian,
      Serbian and Anglican priests.
      Obviously in 1927 such meetings shocked no one.
      At the present time, due to the incredible and unprecedented
      persecution of Yugoslavia and of the Orthodox Serbs by the West, it is
      not difficult to understand that those few Western foreigners who are
      bold enough and of good enough will to visit Yugoslavia at all, will be
      welcomed, not because of any interest by the Serbs in ecumenism, but
      simply because this is a rare opportunity to try and tell the truth to
      members of the "world community".

      In Christ
      Fr. John R. Shaw
      > > An Important
      Meeting in
      Belgrade >
      > Having been invited by the Serbian Orthodox Church, a delegation of Roman
      > Catholic bishops, representatives of the Commission of the Bishops'
      > Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) visited Serbia in the period
      > July 13-17, 2000. The essential part of this meeting were three-day talks on
      > theological issues, as well as on the topics concerning pastoral,
      > spiritual-educational and charitable activities of the respective Churches.
      > The guests from Western Europe visited, together with their hosts (bishops
      > of the Serbian Orthodox Church), significant churches, churches in
      > construction, refugee camps and buildings and bridges in Belgrade and Novi
      > Sad which had been destroyed during NATO aggression. At the end of this
      > dialogue, two bishops' delegations issued a joint declaration in which they,
      > among other things, express their striving for lifting the economical
      > sanctions imposed on Serbia and Yugoslavia.
      > The joint declaration reads as follows:
      > Joint statement by a delegation from the Serbian Orthodox Church and a
      > delegation from the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European
      > Community (COMECE)
      > Belgrade, 17 July 2000
      > Three days of hope
      > A meeting of Catholic Bishops from Western Europe and Serbian Orthodox
      > Bishops
      > “Jesus Christ in his own person
      > killed the hostility” (Ephesians 2: 16)
      > We, a delegation of bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church and bishops of
      > the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community
      > (COMECE), held a three-day meeting in Belgrade. In these days we have grown
      > together in mutual understanding through common prayer, fraternal dialogue
      > and awesome veneration of sanctuaries of Serbian Orthodox Christianity.
      > It is a source of great joy to both our Churches that we have renewed our
      > contacts in this Jubilee Year 2000 for these were never broken, not even in
      > times of war. During these three days, our sense of brotherhood in Christ
      > was deepened through our prayer and work. Our meeting was a sign of hope in
      > three ways:
      > I.
      > Hope unites us. We are committed to pursuing a dialogue on the theological
      > and pastoral challenges of contemporary society as a Christian service to
      > all European and all peoples in the world. Through ecumenical exchange
      > regarding our respective theological and cultural heritage we seek to
      > contribute towards unity between our Churches. We have agreed to continue
      > our talks in the coming year. Next we wish to explore our respective
      > expectations for Europe.
      > II.
      > Together we hope that the process of the Europeanisation of the European
      > Union continues and that Europe can breathe with both its lungs. Through its
      > history, tradition and culture, Yugoslavia belongs to Europe. For this
      > reason it is with great pain that we try to understand the causes of the
      > present crisis – causes about which we do not always agree. We agree
      > unanimously that all Serbian and other refugees from Kosovo should soon be
      > able to return to their home areas. We appeal to all responsible parties to
      > do their utmost to achieve this end and to promote the peaceful coexistence
      > of all.
      > The poor in Yugoslavia, especially many refugees, have suffered greatly in
      > mind and body. They in particular are victims of the economic sanctions
      > imposed by Western governments. We believe that these sanctions should be
      > lifted and we call upon all governments concerned to do so. Economic
      > sanctions are one of the obstacles to a new beginning in Serbia’s and
      > Yugoslavia’s co-operation with neighbouring countries. We perceive such
      > regional co-operation as a pre-condition for sustainable peace in this
      > beleaguered area. For our part we have agreed to seek ways of furthering
      > co-operation between our charitable organisations.
      > III.
      > Finally our hope and our trust is in our young people above all. Many young
      > people resist the temptations of consumerism. They seek a purpose for their
      > lives in spiritual renewal. We are particularly challenged as Churches to
      > respond to them in ways adequate to the demands of our time. As bishops we
      > wish to build spiritual bridges between young people in Europe. Thus we plan
      > to organise a meeting of young people from several communities to take place
      > in Serbia. By means of a concrete project they will set in place a real sign
      > of peace and reconciliation.
      > Our meeting marked a fruitful beginning and a new impulse. Our Churches have
      > a common future. Serbia and Yugoslavia have a place in Europe. We wish to
      > encourage young people to live in truth and love.
      > For three days we prayed together, spoke to each other and listened to each
      > other. We have rediscovered much that we have in common.
      > These were truly three days of hope.
      > Belgrade, 17 July 2000
      > The participants to this meeting and signers of the declaration were: on the
      > one side members of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the
      > European Community (COMECE) - Bishop Dr Josef Homeyer (Hildesheim, Germany),
      > Bishop Luc de Hovre (Brussels, Belgium), Bishop Joseph Duffy (Monaghan,
      > Ireland) and Bishop John Mone (Paisley, Scotland), and on the other side
      > members of the Serbian Orthodox Church delegation - Rt. Rev. Dr Sava Bishop
      > of Sumadija, Rt. Rev. Lavrentije Bishop of Sabac-Valjevo, Rt. Rev.
      > Konstantin Bishop of Central Europe, Rt. Rev. Dr Ignjatije Bishop of
      > Branicevo, and the undersigned.
      > Rt. Rev. Dr Irinej Bishop of Backa
      > > http://www.cybercom.net/~htm/86-4.htm
      > > 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
      > > Belgrade.
      > >
      > > 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
      > > there.
      > >
      > > 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
      > > present.
      > >
      > > 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.
      > >
      > >
      > > 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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