Γνησίων Ορθοδόξων Χριστιανών της ελλάδος
HOLY SYNOD OF THE TRADITIONAL CHURCH OF GREECE — G.O.C.
It was in October of 1582 A.D. that the Roman Catholic Pope Gregory XIII decreed that the “Julian Calendar” be changed and the one named after himself, the “Gregorian Calendar”, be substituted in place of the Julian Calendar. From that time on, both the liturgical cycle of the Roman Catholic Church and all civil proceedings, transactions and the like, were accounted according to the “New” Gregorian Calendar.
However, the Orthodox Church is the Mother Church. She is the first and oldest Church in history. Since the Roman Patriarchate severed ties with the Orthodox Church in 1054 A.D. it was no longer considered a part of the “Church of the Apostles”. Therefore any decrees by a Roman Pope were laughed at as having no jurisdiction over Orthodox Christians. So: If the Pope changes the calendar, it has no effect on the Orthodox. They will continue to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ, His Apostles, The Apostolic Fathers, the Ecumenical Councils and all that comprises the Holy Orthodox Faith.
But in the 1920’s, some of the “innovative” Orthodox sought after and obtained a change from the Julian Calendar to the observance of the Roman Catholic “Gregorian Calendar.” It would become that, for those who changed the calendar, and observed this change, that being acceptable and in step with the times, was more important than faithfulness to our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Those who wished to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and His original Church, could not and would not become part of this calendar innovation. Therefore, since 1924, Christians in Greece, along with other sister churches around the world, who have faithfully remained devoted to the Tradition of the Orthodox Church have been referred to as “Old Calendarists” or “Palaioimerologites” in the Greek language. This is because they have remained in full adherence to the traditional liturgical calendar (Julian Calendar) used by the Orthodox Church for over the past 1600 years.
In January of 1920 the Patriarchal locum tenens of the Church of Constantinople, Metropolitan Dorotheos of Prusa, and ten other metropolitans, released an Encyclical entitled “To the Churches of Christ Wheresoever They Might Be,” addressing the denominational sects outside the Holy Orthodox Church as “fellow heirs and partakers of the same promise of God in Jesus Christ.” The title of this Encyclical already presupposed that the Church was not one. The first item in this agenda proposed the adoption of a common festal calendar so that all the “churches”, (i.e.; the denominations and sects) could celebrate the Christian feasts simultaneously. For faithful Orthodox Christians, bishops, presbyters, deacons, monks, nuns and laity, this was a slap in the face.
This Encyclical was the product of the revolutionary Church reforms that were being spread by two men, Eleftherios Venizelos and Meletios Metaxakis. Both these men, Venizelos on the worldly political front, and, Metaxakis ( as a wolf in sheep’s clothing) wishing to modernize the Orthodox Church, on the ecclesiastical front.
Venizelos (1864 – 1936) was seen in the public eye as a very ambitious politician who was instrumental in unifying his native island of Crete with the nation of Greece. Later he went on to become the Prime Minister of Greece and is responsible for expanding the Greek territory within the bounds of the dying Ottoman Empire. His was considered a revolutionary because of the run in he had with the sovereigns of Greece. He finally turned completely against them and during the First World War he established a rival government (with military help from France and Britain) in Thessalonica. He sought the complete abolition of the royalist government. His reforms were not only political but advanced upon the religious beliefs of the people of the Greek Orthodox Church. His reforms had been in planning for quite some time. Even as early as November 10, 1916, one Andrew Michalakopoulos, a minister in the “revolutionary” Greek government, wrote in a letter to Eleftherios about the long-range plans these two politicians had for the Greek Orthodox Church and how Meletios Metaxakis could help them in accomplishing their common goal. The following is a quote from that letter:
“Mr. President, I told you a long time ago in the Council of Ministers that after we had brought to a successful conclusion the national struggle that you have undertaken, it would be necessary, for the good of the country, for you to take care of another, equally important, struggle, that of modernizing our religious affairs …. To head this truly revolutionary reform, you will need a far-seeing Hierarch, one almost like you in politics. You have one: We are speaking about the hierarch from Cyprus [Meletios Metaxakis]. Under your guidance he will become the Venizelos of the Church of Greece.
Once the political revolution has removed Archbishop Prokopios of Athens and those like him, what are the elements that will require reform in intellectual and monastic circles, when they will have been put in place an ecclesiastical Hierarchy and a universal Synod, or perhaps only a Greek Synod?”
Michalakopoulos further states in the letter what reforms he feels will be needed:
a) Abolition of the Fasts (“Nobody keeps the Fasts, except those who have nothing to eat”).
b) Modernization of the ceremonies and Liturgies (“two or three hymns … during a half hour period” is all that is necessary).
c) Priests educated in “special schools” (so that they can speak “in an intelligible way” about “love of one’s country” and “the political duties of their listeners”).
d) Abolition of the different Feasts (they are “only an excuse for idleness”).
e) Abolition of the monasteries (Their lands will pass into the hands of the peasants …”).
He goes on to say, “Of course, all the foregoing is just a very small part of the program.” Elsewhere in the letter Michalakopoulos complains “… unfortunately, it is not possible to make the idea of holiness disappear;” however, through the publication of appropriate books, and with “the collaboration of good Church and lay writers, …. the word ‘holy’ will disappear.(1)
The first realization that there may be a “calendar change,” was in January 1919, when Venizelos was Prime Minister and Meletios Metaxakis was Archbishop of Athens.
Who was Metaxakis? A great deal has been written by Bishop Photios of Triaditsa and it contains some very important information about this high-ranking Freemason, who was in actuality imbued with an attitude of, and the belief in universalism.(2)
Meletios Metaxakis’ name in the world was Emmanuel. He was born on Septenber 21, 1870 in the village of Parsas on the island of Crete. He entered the Seminary of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem in 1889. He was tonsured with the name Meletios and ordained hierodeacon in 1892. He completed the theological courses at Holy Cross and was assigned as secretary to the Holy Synod in Jerusalem by Patriarch Damianos in 1900. Meletios was evicted from the Holy Land by Patriarch Damianos, along with the then administrator Chrysostom, later Archbishop of Athens, in 1908 for “activity against the Holy Sepulcher.”(3)
In the book of Alexander Zervoudakis entitled “Famous Freemasons” he writes that in the year 1909 when Metaxakis and two other clergymen were visiting Cyprus, (One of these clergymen was metropolitan Basil of Anchialos, an official representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) all three of them were initiated into the Masonic Lodge.(4) In 1910, Metaxakis became Metropolitan of Kition in Cyprus. Driven by a “violent, impetuous, and caviling spirit,” as Zervoudakis — his admirer — records, Metaxakis sought to become Ecumenical Patriarch in 1912. Failing in this, he turned his attention again to Cyprus.(5) Failing there also, he abandoned his flock and went to Greece where, with the support of Venizelos, he became Archbishop of Athens in 1918. But when Venizelos lost the next election, Metaxakis likewise was ousted from his see.
Now, continuing with the narrative of Bishop Photios of Triaditsa:
… In February 1921 Meletios visited the United States. On December 17, 1921, the Greek Ambassador in Washington, D.C. sent a message to the prefect at Thessalonica stating that Meletios “vested, took part in an Anglican service, knelt in prayer with Anglicans, venerated their Holy Table, gave a sermon, and later blessed those present.” (6)
When the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece learned of Metaxakis’ activities they formed a commission to investigate Metaxakis in November of 1921.(7) But, as noted by Bishop Photios of Triaditsa:
While the investigation was proceeding against Metaxakis, he was unexpectedly elected Patriarch of Constantinople. Nonetheless, The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece deposed Meletios Metaxakis on December 9, 1921 for a series of infractions against canon law and for causing a schism.(8) In spite of this decision, Meletios Metaxakis was enthroned as the Ecumenical Patriarch on January 24, 1922. Under intense political pressure, Meletios’ deposition was uncanonically lifted on September 24, 1922. Political circles around Venizelos and the Anglican Church had been involved in Meletios’ election as Patriarch. (9) Metropolitan Germanos (Karavangeis) of the Holy Synod of Constantinople wrote of these events, “My election in 1921 to the Ecumenical Throne was unquestioned. Of the seventeen votes cast, sixteen were in my favor. Then one of my lay friends offered me £10,000 if I would forfeit my election in favor of Meletios Metaxakis. Naturally I refused his offer, displeased and disgusted. At the same time, one night a delegation of three men unexpectedly visited me from the “National Defense League” and began to earnestly entreat me to forfeit my candidacy in favor of Meletios Metaxakis. The delegates said that Meletios could bring $100,000 for the Patriarchate and, since he had very friendly relations with Protestant bishops in England and America, could be useful in [Greece’s] international causes. Therefore, international interests demanded that Meletios be elected Patriarch. Such was also the will of Eleftherios Venizelos. I thought over the proposal all night. Economic chaos reigned in the Patriarchate. The government in Athens had stopped sending subsidies, and there was no other source of income. Regular salaries had not been paid for nine months. The charitable organizations of the Patriarchate were in a critical financial state. For these reasons and for the good of the people [or so thought the deceived hierarch] I accepted the offer …”(10) Thus, to everyone’s amazement, the next day, November 25, 1921, Meletios Metaxakis became the Patriarch of Constantinople.
The uncanonical nature of his election became evident when, two days before the election, November 23, 1921, there was a proposal made by the Synod of Constantinople to postpone the election on canonical grounds. The majority of the members voted to accept this proposal. At the same time, on the very day of the election, the bishops who had voted to postpone the election were replaced by other bishops. This move allowed the election of Meletios as Patriarch. Consequently, the majority of bishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople who had been circumvented met in Thessalonica. They announced later that, “the election of Meletios Metaxakis was done in open violation of the holy canons,” and proposed to undertake, “a valid and canonical election of the Patriarch of Constantinople.” In the spirit of this, Meletios was confirmed on the Patriarchal Throne.(11)
Under pressure from Meletios, the Patriarchate of Constantinople accepted the validity of Anglican orders in 1922 … Then in 1923 Meletios initiated the “Pan-Orthodox” Congress (May 19 – June 8).
The Orthodox World Community was not pleased with the outcome of this “Pan-Orthodox Congress. In the middle of June an attack was made on the Patriarchal premises. In an article entitled “The Julian Calendar”, one Ludmilla Perepiolkina has given history an apt account of Meletios Metaxakis’ rapid departure from Constantinople : “Meletios IV was forced to go into retirement in connection with the extreme indignation of the Orthodox population of Constantinople; the Greeks wrecked the premises of his patriarchate and ‘subjected him to assault and battery.”‘(12)
Continuing on with the narrative of Bishop Photios:
On July 1, 1923, on the pretext of illness and the need for medical treatment, Meletios left Constantinople. On September 20, 1923, under pressure from the Greek government and through the intervention of Archbishop Chrysostom of Athens, Meletios resigned as Patriarch.
In Egypt, with the help of Anglican clergymen, and, due to the fact that this was still the time of the British mandate in Egypt, under extreme pressure from the British government, the Egyptian government confirmed Meletios Metaxakis as Patriarch of Alexandria in May of 1926. In his concluding words about Meletios Mataxakis, Bishop Photios relates thus:
As Patriarch, “at the cost of disapproval and division,” Meletios instituted the new calendar in the Alexandrian Patriarchate.(13) While still Patriarch of Constantinople he established ties with the [Soviet-sponsored] “Living Church.” The synod of the “Living Church,” on the occasion of the election of Meletios as Patriarch of Alexandria, wrote: “The Holy Synod [sic] recalls with sincere best wishes the moral support which Your Beatitude showed us while you were yet Patriarch of Constantinople by entering into communion with us as the only rightful ruling organ of the Russian Orthodox Church.”(14)
Finally, although critically ill, Meletios offered himself as a candidate for Patriarch of Jerusalem, but no election took place. Metropolitan Methodios Kondostanos wrote: “This exile from the Holy Land, from Kition, from Athens, from Constantinople, Meletios Metaxakis — an unstable, restless, power-hungry spirit, an evil demon — had no qualms about grabbing for the Throne of Jerusalem even from Alexandria in his desire to further himself.”(15) Meletios Metaxakis died on July 28, 1935, and was buried in Cairo.
An eye-witness, at the time an archdeacon, Archbishop Athenagoras of Thyateira and Great Britain testifies that Meletios Metaxakis was given a full Masonic funeral.
As Ecumenical Patriarch, Metaxakis oversaw a full ten sessions of the “Pan-Orthodox” Congress in 1923. At this Congress an Anglican bishop named Charles Gore was in attendance at the invitation of Metaxakis. He was even asked to sit at the Ecumenical Patriarch’s right side, and to participate in the sessions. Such proposals that were brought forth and adopted by this Congress were a change in the Paschalion and in the festal calendar to coincide with that used by the West, a reduction of fasts and church services, the abolition of the proscription against marriage of the clergy after ordination, and the abolition of special clerical garb.
It is very telling that only three national Orthodox Churches were represented in the Congress — Greece, Romania, and, Serbia; Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem were not. Meletios Metaxakis and his Synod adopted the above-mentioned resolutions in disregard of the Pan-Orthodox Councils of 1583, 1587, and 1593, which had condemned the use of the Gregorian calendar for liturgical use in the Orthodox Church. Using the Gregorian calendar liturgically had been synodically condemned on so many other occasions as well. Of special note is the act of its condemnation by Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem in 1670, Ecumenical Patriarch Agathangelos in 1827, Ecumenical Patriarch Anthimos in 1895, the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople in 1902 and 1904; the Holy Synods of Russia, of Jerusalem, of Greece, and of Romania, each independently, in 1903; the Holy Synod of Greece again in 1919; and the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in 1924.
The Churches of Constantinople, Greece and Romania — the only ones that accepted the calendar innovation right away — broke their liturgical unity with the other local Orthodox Churches only in order to celebrate with the heterodox. To put it another way the calendar change was accepted for the exact reason it was condemned by three Pan-Orthodox Councils in the sixteenth century: Uniatism. The fact is obvious that this is so is the fulfillment of the first proposal of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s 1920 “Encyclical to the Churches of Christ Wheresoever They Might Be.”
It is worthwhile to take notice of Meletios Metaxakis’ untruthful practices. As Perepiolkina points out, “The methods which Meletios IV (Metaxakis) used in introducing the new style [calendar] merit special attention. Thus, in his letter to Archbishop Seraphim of Finland, dated 10 July, 1923, Meletios tells a manifest lie, by affirming that the new style was accepted according to popular demand and a consensus of the Orthodox Churches.”(16)
Quite a few years before the developments just described, in 1918, Archimandrite Chrysostom Papadopoulos produced and article he had written that was published in the ecclesiastical periodical Church Herald. This article was not in favor of the calendar reform and quite decisively rejected it. The basis for such a rejection are cited on the decisions of the Pan-Orthodox Councils of the sixteenth century.(17)Then, in 1919 Papadopoulos inscribed another article on behalf of the Church of Greece in which he strongly rejects the change in the calendar on the basis of all previous tradition. Yet, even after all of this, when this Papadopoulos became Archbishop of Athens he changed the Church of Greece to observance of the Gregorian Calendar in 1924. This, we have been informed was due to pressure from the Greek government.
The new Revolutionary Government of Colonel Nicholas Plastiras, of sorry memory, says in one study, “did not find Archbishop Theokletos [predecessor of Chrysostom Papadopoulos] suitable to their purposes,” and it arbitrily replaced him with the aforementioned Archimandrite Chrysostom Papadopoulos on February 25, 1923. On December 14 of the same year, the Revolutionary Government abolished the old charter under which the Church of Greece had operated for seventy years and established a new charter whereby the Governing Synod of five bishops was abolished and the sole governing body became the full Synod of Bishops called once a year. Meanwhile, the day to day affairs of church administration were left in the hands of the archbishop, to be ratified each year at the annual Synod. What is more, is that the government reserved the right to transfer or retire bishops on the grounds of ‘suitability.’
“It was under these conditions that a general Synod of the Church of Greece was held in December 24 – 30, 1923, at which the dictator Plastiras, the Prime Minister of the Revolution, Gonatas, and Minister of Religious Affairs and Education, A. Stratigopoulos, were present. The Minister of Religious Affairs underscored the necessity of agreement between civil and religious calendars.”(18)
Colonel Plastiras made his plans known to the bishops of the Church of Greece on no uncertain terms:
“The Revolution requests you then, my respected heirarchs, to leave all personal preference to one side and proceed to purge the Church … The Revolution hopes that a useful work for the new generation will result from your labors, and it will reckon itself happy to see the rebirth of the Church set in motion … Consequently, it would not have you limit yourselves to the ancestral Canons, but to proceed to radical measures.”(19)
Seminarian George Lardas recorded the following information in his unpublished history:
Archbishop Chrysostom Papadopoulos obtained from the Synod a resolution giving him the authority to make a change in the calendar, if the rest of the Orthodox Churches complied with the decision of the Congress of 1923 and with the approval of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In fact, no other Orthodox Church was seriously contemplating such a change, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate, for Patriarch Meletios was driven from Constantinople by his own flock at the end of the Congress in 1923. He was succeeded by Patriarch Gregory who was preoccupied with putting the Church in Constantinople in order after the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey. Archbishop Chrysostom obtained a resolution on the condition that he supply the Greek Synod with proof in the form of written evidence that the various local Churches had approved the new calendar at the “Pan-Orthodox” Congress earlier that year. He failed to produce the evidence.
For the next two months, Archbishop Chrysostom conducted correspondence with Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory trying to persuade him to accept the new calendar, but Patriarch Gregory hesitated, asking letters from the other Orthodox Churches. Archbishop Chrysostom had already decided the matter, that the change should take place on March 10/23, 1924. As that date approached and nothing was forthcoming from Constantinople, Archbishop Chrysostom used the offices of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to put pressure on Patriarch Gregory. He requested that the Ministry inform the Eastern Churches that the Church of Greece was putting to effect the “decision” of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to reform the calendar, and to inform the Patriarchate in particular that this had already been decided by the Church of Greece. This letter was dated March 4, 1924. It is no secret that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is dependent on the Greek state for [financial] support and hardly oppose its wishes. The calendar change took place on March 10/23, 1924 as planned. It was announced by an encyclical signed only by Archbishop Chrysostom on behalf of the Synod of the Church of Greece only seven days before the change. It was disseminated by telegraph to the various newspapers and was published that Sunday, March 3/16, 1924.
The immediate reaction of the other local Orthodox Churches was strongly negative, The Patriarch of Jerusalem emphasized that the new calendar was unacceptable to his Church because of the dangers of Latin proselytism at the Holy Places. The Patriarch of Antioch saw it as a danger to the unity of the Church. Only the Churches of Constantinople and Romania accepted the change.
The strongest opposition to the calendar change was on the part of Patriarch Photios of Alexandria. He called a local Synod in Alexandria in which it was decided that there was absolutely no necessity to change the calendar, and having consulted with Patriarch Gregory of Antioch, Patriarch Damianos of Jerusalem, and Archbishop Cyril of Cyprus, it was decided that there should be no change. The Synod expressed sorrow and pain that such a thing should be considered at all and [declared] that this change was a danger to the unity of the Orthodox faithful not only in Greece but everywhere.(20)
However, even the Patriarchate of Alexandria finally succumbed. The circumstances that brought this about are as follows:
After the Constantinopolitan Congress of 1923, which accepted the new calendar, Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis — as mentioned above — had to flee for his life from his angry flock because of his innovations and also because of the political and military reversals Greece suffered at the hands of Kemal Ataturk’s military forces in Asia Minor in 1924. He came finally to Alexandria in 1926 where, with political support, he succeeded Patriarch Photios, who had strongly objected to the change of the calendar. Not dissuaded by his predecessor’s confession, Metaxakis introduced the new calendar there. The Patriarchate of Alexandria, nonetheless, remained in sympathy to the traditional Orthodox Christians in Greece, especially when Patriarch Christopher (1939 – 1966), the former Metropolitan of Leontopolis in Egypt, was raised to the throne of Alexandria. However, Patriarch Christopher, because of pressure from the Greek government, was unable to restore the traditional church calendar to the Patriarchate of Alexandria. The Greek government’s “revolutionary reforms” and concerns over the unity of “the Greek diaspora” apparently had precedence over the Church’s unity and its conciliar decisions.
The State Church of Greece and its use of the New Calendar was now the official Church. The Old Calendarists were considered the evildoers and schismatics because of their refusal to accept the Roman Catholic Calendar and their refusal to regard all denominations and sects as “Christian brothers and sisters” regardless of what these sects believed or taught as doctrine. To the Old Calendrists, this form of false ecumenical activity and false Christian unity became a denial of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, so strong were their convictions.
This led naturally to the persecution of “Old Calenderists” who maintained that they were the True or Genuine “Church of Greece” and that those who were now observing the “New” or “Roman Catholic Calendar” were the innovators by trying to invent something unknown to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Orthodox Church. The official “New Calendarists” were backed by the Greek government because of the fact that the government felt that this new “Ecumenism” was what the Greek people needed. Those in worldly positions of authority welcomed and encouraged the “Ecumenical” activity, contact with, as well as joint public prayer with members of Protestant Reformation Denominations and their more radical “Sects”! The Greek government of the time was embarrassed by the Traditional, Old Calendar Orthodox Church. They were trying to, as they put it, move the Orthodox Church into the 20th Century. They beat their drum to the dictum of “The Orthodox Church must keep in step with the times”!
With the financial support of the Greek government, the innovating, “Church” of the New Calendar prospered and grew. With this, the persecution of “Old Calendrist” bishops, parishes and laity also grew. From the very beginning, the Old Calendrists were violently persecuted by the police authorities at the behest of Archbishop Chrysostom Papadopoulos of the official, innovating,
Church of Greece. To cite one instance, after a Liturgy celebrated on the Feast of the Holy Archangels on November 8, 1927, the faithful who were leaving a church building at Mandra of Attica were assaulted by the police. Two women were hospitalized, one for a gunshot injury and the other with head injuries from a clubbing by police when she tried to protect the priest. This woman, Catherine Routis, a new martyr indeed, the young mother of two children, died a week later on November 15th.
On April 24, 1926, The official State Church of Greece issued a most severe encyclical, Protocol Number 2398/2203, directed against Traditional Orthodox Christians. This encyclical states the following: They separate themselves from the Church and cut themselves off from the Body of Christ, drawing upon themselves condemnation and excommunication, not knowing, or perhaps forgetting, that he who does not hear the Church is “as the heathen man and publican” [Matthew 18:17]….The decisions of the Church are absolutely obligatory; he who does not obey them no longer belongs to her; he is deprived of the means of divine grace; he is separated and cut off from her, and is liable to eternal torment.
This encyclical is from a church body that only two years before had itself trampled underfoot the “decisions of the Church” by recognizing the non-Orthodox as “fellow heirs of God in Jesus Christ”! The heterodox apparently presented no problems. But, being a Traditionalist “Old Calendar” Orthodox Christian meant a person did not have a share in that heritage and was “as a heathen man and the publican” and was “deprived of divine grace.”
In the face of such persecution of the faithful, there was the forced closure and demolition of their places of worship by the official authorities. Also, by official decree, Genuine Traditionalist Orthodox Christians ( in Greek or G.O.C. in English) were now supposedly “deprived of the means of divine grace.” By 1930 there were about eight hundred chapters of the G.O.C. in existence throughout Greece. The G.O.C. continued to submit appeals to the new calendar Synod of the Church of Greece in 1929 and 1933, pointing out the condemnation of the Gregorian calendar by three Pan-Orthodox Councils. They called for a return to the traditional calendar in order to avoid schism in the Church of Greece.(21) Furthermore, even many clergy who had submitted to the government’s decree very, very strongly protested the change.
On the night of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross, September 14, 1925, according to the traditional ecclesiastical calendar a most wonderful and marvelous miracle of God shone forth. The G.O.C. were given great spiritual strength by the miraculous appearance of the Cross over the Chapel of Saint John the Theologian on Mount Hymettos outside Athens. Over two thousand people witnessed the vision, including the police sent to disband the vigil service and arrest the priest. The miraculous vision made a profound impression on everyone, and the faithful — including the now-converted police — continued the service without interruption.(22)
Although there were eleven bishops of the official new calendar State Church who deeply sympathized and supported the grand effort of the confession of the G.O.C. in Greece, most were deterred by fear of persecution and the loss of their income from the government. In May of 1935, however, Metropolitans Germanos of Demetrias, Chrysostom of Florina, and Chrysostem of Zaknynthos [who was accepted by the first two by the laying on of hands, since he was consecrated after the calendar change], seeing that their pleas to the official State Synod went unheeded, announced that from henceforth they would take up the pastoral care of the G.O.C. in Greece and would form the Synod of the G.O.C. ( in Greek) of the Traditional Church of Greece.
On May 13, 1935, in the presence of some 25,000 faithful, Metropolitans Germanos of Demetrias, Chrysostom of Florina, and Chrysostom of Zakynthos consecrated the first of four new bishops for the G.O.C. in Greece: Germanos of the Cyclades Islands. On subsequent days, the following were consecrated: Christopher of Megaris, Polycarp of Diavlia, and Matthew, as a suffragan Bishop of Bresthena. These seven bishops had Germanos of Demetrias as their president. Metropolitan Germanos had been first in seniority after Archbishop Chrysostom Papadopoulos of the official State Church. Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina was one of the most erudite and respected hierarchs of theofficial State Church of Greece and now of the or G.O.C. (Genuine Orthodox Christian) Traditional Church of Greece.
The actions and declarations of the G.O.C. Synod of Bishops provoked the intense wrath of the official State Church and government authorities. As a result, the seven bishops were immediately arrested by the government at the instigation of the official State Church and brought to ecclesiastical trial in June of 1935, on charges of causing division and disturbance by organizing “unlawful assemblies,” and of showing contempt for the “legal” and “canonical” church. During this trial, which took place in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, a large crowd led by forty priests and sixty monastics gathered quietly in the square in front of the cathedral to chant the Supplicatory Canon to the Mother of God. This orderly assembly was assaulted by the police and dispersed with fire-hoses and clubs, and over 100 were injured, one of whom was the future Archbishop Auxentius of Athens and All Greece.
The result of this trial was announced on June 15, 1935. Three of the bishops — Germanos of Demetrias, Chrysostom of Florina, and Germanos of the Cyclades Islands — were banished; Matthew of Bresthena, on account of illness, was confined to his monastery; Chrysostom of Zakynthos, Polycarp of Diavlia, and Christopher of Megaris recanted and returned to the official State Church.
Before the hierarchs were sent off to their places of exile and imprisonment, they were able to address their flock with one last Pastoral Encyclical. Since the new calenderists refused to end their schism and to recognize the holy Mysteries of the G.O.C. [while, nonetheless, recognizing the sacraments and priestly orders of the non-Orthodox], the Synod of Bishops of the G.O.C. of Greece published their Pastoral Encyclical, stating officially that the official new calendar State Church was in schism and that its mysteries were invalid — that is to say, they simply affirmed what Chrysostom Papadopoulos himself had said only one year before he became Archbishop and changed the calendar.(23)
Below is the text of the Pastoral Encyclical of the Holy Synod of the G.O.C. Traditional Church of Greece:
PASTORAL ENCYCLICAL TO THE ORTHODOX
Unjustly condemned by the schismatic Synod to deposition and a five-year imprisonment in monasteries, and seized by force by the government [which has become the executory arm of the (new calendar) Archdiocese, which by its mere word has placed itself above the divine canons, the (Church’s) Charter, and the Constitution of Greece] because we had the courage and spiritual strength to raise the glorious and venerable banner of Orthodoxy, we consider it our pastoral duty before we depart [for prison] to direct the following admonitions to you that adhere to the Orthodox festal calendar of our fathers:
While faithfully following the Apostle’s admonition, “Stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or by our letter,” do not cease from struggling by every lawful and Christian means for the strengthening and triumph of our sacred struggle, which looks to the restoration of the patristic and Orthodox festal calendar within the Church; only this can re-establish the diminished Orthodox authority of the Greek Church and bring back the peace and unity of the Orthodox Greek people.
By the judgments which the Lord knows, the majority of the hierarchy of the Greek Church, under the influence and initiative of its president, has placed the blot of schism upon what up until now had been its pure and truly Orthodox countenance, when it rejected the Orthodox festal calendar — which has been consecrated by the Seven Ecumenical Councils and ratified by the age-long practice of the Orthodox Eastern Church — and replaced it with the papal calendar.
Of course, this schism of the Orthodox Greek people was created by the majority of the hierarchy, which forgot its sacred and national mission and the old Greek [revolutionary] slogan: “Fight for Orthodoxy and for Greek liberty,” and which, without the agreement of all the Orthodox Churches, introduced the papal festal calendar into our divine worship, thereby dividing not only the Orthodox Churches, but also the Orthodox Christians into two opposing camps.
In assuming the pastorship of the Orthodox Greek populace that follows the Orthodox festal calendar of our fathers, and being conscious of the oath of faith that we took that we would keep all that we have received from the seven Ecumenical Councils, we abjure every innovation and can not but proclaim as schismatic the State Church, which has accepted the papal festal calendar which has been described by Pan-Orthodox Councils as an innovation of the heretics and as an arbitrary trampling underfoot of the divine and sacred canons of the ecclesiastical traditions.
On account of this, we counsel all who follow the Orthodox festal calendar to have no spiritual communion with the schismatic Church and its schismatic ministers, from whom the grace of the All-holy Spirit has departed, since they have set at nought the resolutions of the Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the Pan-Orthodox Councils that condemned the Gregorian festal calendar. The fact that the Schismatic Church does not have grace and the Holy Spirit is confirmed by Saint Basil the Great, who says: “Even though the schismatics have not erred in doctrines, yet because Christ is the Head of the Body of the Church, according to the divine Apostle, and from Him are all the members quickened and receive spiritual increase, the [schismatics] have been torn from the consonance of the members of the Body and no longer have the grace of the Holy Spirit abiding with them. And how, indeed, can they impart to others that which they have not?”
While the Schismatic Church imposes oppressive and intolerable measures in order to violate our Orthodox conscience, we exhort you to endure all things and to preserve the Orthodox heritage intact and unstained, even as we received it from our pious Fathers, having us as luminous and fortifying examples, seeing we are not afraid — even in the waning years of our lives — to withstand with boldness and dignity the bigoted and medieval measures of our exile and imprisonment in monasteries, as it were in prisons.
Esteeming this as honor and glory and joy, according to the Apostle, who enjoins us to rejoice and boast in or sufferings in behalf of Christ, we counsel you also to have endurance and persistence in these griefs, and afflictions, and evils, and outrages to which you will be subjected by a Church that is schismatic; and ever hope in God, Who will not permit that you be tried above what you are able to endure, and Who, in His infinite and unfathomable long-suffering, will be well-pleased to enlighten those who, out of innocense, have been led astray and follow the papal festal calendar; and in the end may he grant you the triumph of Orthodoxy and the unity of those who bear the name of Christ, the Orthodox Greek people, for whom we struggle to the glory of Christ, Whose grace and infinite mercy be with you all.
June 21, 1935
+Germanos of Demetrias
Later in that year (1935), with the installation of the Prime Minister, George Kondylis, who ironically, as it turned out, found this religious persecution politically embarrassing, the four bishops were released and allowed to return to Athens.(25) Metropolitans Germanos of Demetrias, Chrosostom of Florina, Germanos of the Cyclades Islands, and Matthew, Bishop of Bresthena, now constituted the Synod of the Traditional Church of Greece ()(G.O.C.)
In 1937, Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina, in a personal letter to Bishop Germanos of the Cyclades Islands, set forth the opinion that the official State Church was in “potential schism.”
It is evident from this letter that Metropolitan Chrysostom was attempting to deal with what — especially in the early years — had become a complex state of affairs. There were contradictory elements in the calendar dispute that caused considerable confusion in the ranks of the G.O.C. as to how they should address the issues. The main cause of this confusion was the ambivalence of the new calendar bishops themselves.
One the one hand, it was clear that in itself the change of the calendar was not a direct change of doctrine, although it did violate the Church’s oneness by disrupting its liturgical unity. On the other, it was equally clear — as the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Encyclical of 1920 affirmed — that the calendar change was only “step one” in a rapprochement with the heterodox denominations and sects. This was a doctrinal issue. Furthermore, although the new official Synod of the innovating Church of Greece had, by majority of vote, adopted and issued an Encyclical in April of 1926 declaring that the G.O.C. of the Traditional Church of Greece and their mysteries were “bereft of the means of divine grace,” and although the Ecumenical Patriarchate in its notorious Encyclical of 1920 had recognized heterodox denominations and sects as “Churches of Christ” and “fellow heirs of God,” there was nonetheless, a sizeable number of new calendar hierarchs who rejected these theological innovations and supported the Church’s traditional teaching. Also, although there were new calendar bishops in Greece who viciously persecuted the G.O.C. of the Traditional Church of Greece, and desecrated their churches and even the Holy Mysteries, there were also new calendar bishops who sympathized with, supported, and assisted the Genuine Orthodox Christians. Finally, whereas the Pan-Orthodox Councils of the sixteenth century had placed under anathema anyone who would change the calendar and the Paschalion, (the method of reckoning the date of Pascha each year), the official, new calendar Synod of Greece had indeed, on the one hand, adopted the change of the calendar, but, on the other, had avoided tampering with the Paschalion, which had been instituted by the First Ecumenical Council in 325A.D., and which, they say, was alone binding on all Orthodox.(26)
In view of these unprecedented developments, it became evident — to Metropolitan Chrysostom, at least — that there was no clear answer except “wait and see,” and because of this, he modified and softened his original position. In addition, he initially had sincere and, as it appeared to him, justified hopes that a Pan-Orthodox Council of all the other local churches would soon convene to condemn, once again, these innovations and put a stop to them, and that the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece would soon return to the G.O.C. of the Traditional Church of Greece and the observance of the “Julian” calendar. Furthermore, a number of government officials and ministers promised to support the G.O.C.’s call for an end to the calendar innovation. Alas, subsequent events demonstrated that Metropolitan Chrysostom’s hopes were in vain.
In November 1937 Metropolitan Chrysostom wrote a lengthy “personal” letter to Bishop Germanos of the Cyclades Islands. This letter had to do with the manner of reception of converts from the new calendar church. Both Metropolitan Chrysostom and Bishop Germanos were of the same mind. That is, that a convert should be received by confession of faith alone. However, Bishop Germanos had changed his views and now was of the mind of Bishop Matthew of Bresthena — that is, that all new calenderists should be received by holy chrismation since according to strict interpretation of the canons that deal with schism, grace had departed from the official State Church. However Metropolitan Chrysostom felt that decisions such as this should be decided at a Pan-Orthodox Council where all the Orthodox Churches were present. In his letter to Bishop Germanos, Metropolitan Chrysostom was rather harsh in his style and wording to Bishop Germanos. Bishop Germanos’ change in position concerning reception of new calendrists deeply wounded Metropolitan Chrysostom and prompted him to write yet another letter to Bishop Germanos.
It is truly noteworthy to point out that in these letters Metropolitan Chrysoston emphasizes that in the year 1937 he was expressing his “personal and completely private opinion” concerning the status of official new calendar Church. Thirteen years later, in 1950, not in a personal and private letter, but in an official Encyclical, together with his entire Holy Synod, he will ament his purely personal opinion.
Although the President of the Synod of the G.O.C., Germanos of Demetrias, agreed with Metropolitan Chrysostom’s view. Bishops Germanos of the Cyclades Islands and Matthew of Bresthena viewed this position as a betrayal. Hence, they separated themselves from Metropolitans Chrysostom and Germanos over this issue. Later, Bishops Matthew and Germanos of the Cyclades disagreed over yet some other issue and separated from each other.(27)
As a result of these divisions, the followers of Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina [who were in the great majority] came to be known as “Florinites,” and those who followed Bishop Matthew came to be called “Matthewites.”
In 1943, during the Nazi occupation of Greece, Metropolitan Germanos of Demetrias died, leaving Metropolitan Chrysostom by himself.(28) However, in 1944, Christopher of Christianopolis (formerly of Megaris) and Polycarp of Diavlia, two of the bishops who had been consecrated in 1935 by Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina and Germanos of Demetrias and had subsequently recanted and rejoined the official State Church because of persecution, returned again to the G.O.C. Traditional Church of Greece headed by Metropolitan Chrysostom. In addition, Germanos of the Cyclades, who had separated from Metropolitan Chrysostom, was again meeting with him at this time, seeking to resolve their differences. These developments appeared to lend support at the time to Metropolitan Chrysostom’s manner of dealing with the new calendar schism.
Meanwhile, Bishop Matthew, now alone, eventually despaired of finding bishops who shared his own views. Hence, in violation of the First Apostolic Canon he consecrated, single-handedly, four new bishops in August of 1948. The bishops’ names and titles were Spyridon of Trimythus,
Andrew of Patras, Demetrios of Thessalonica, and Kallistos of Corinth. One of these bishops, the saintly Spyridon of Trimythus, spent the last years of his life in seclusion, refusing to celebrate as a hierarch because he had repented of being consecrated in this completely uncanonical way. These unlawful consecrations were a blow to many of Bishop Matthew’s supporters; and many clergy, monastics, and laity left him, since they were unable to accept his uncanonical course of action. They argued: “How can we censure others for not keeping the holy canons, when we ourselves violate basic canons concerning the consecration of bishops?” Although Bishop Matthew’s integrity, personal virtue, and asceticism were admitted by all, his course of action only widened the division between the “Matthewites” and “Florinites.”
In January of 1950, Metropolitan Germanos of the Cyclades, who had been imprisoned for ordaining priests, was released and was once again united with the G.O.C. Traditional Church of Greece and Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina. This brought great joy to all the Old Calendar G.O.C. of the Traditional Church of Greece.
The”Matthewites” and “Florinites.” made many attempts at reconciliation, but all were unsuccessful. Stavros Karamitsos, a theologian and author of the book The Agony in the Garden of Gethesmane, describes as an eye-witness the two instances in which metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina personally attempted to meet with Bishop Matthew. Unfortunately, on both occasions the abbess and senior nuns of the Keratea Convent, at the prompting of Matthewite protopresbyter, Eugene Tombros, intervened and would not allow Metropolitan Chrysostom to speak with Bishop Matthew. In May of 1950, when Bishop Matthew was on his deathbed and had been unconscious for three days, Metropolitan Chrysostom arrived at Bishop Matthew’s quarters and approached his bedside. Standing at his side, Metropolitan Chrysostom bowed down and quietly asked him, “My holy brother,
The text of this encyclical is as follows:how are you feeling?” To the astonishment of all present, Bishop Matthew regained consciousness and opened his eyes. When he saw the Metropolitan, he sought to sit up out of deference and began to whisper something faintly. At that very moment, the Abbess Mariam of the Convent of Keratea entered the room with several other sisters and demanded that all the visitors leave. Only a few days later, on May 14, 1950, Bishop Matthew died, and the two hierarchs were never again to meet in this life.
On May 26, 1950 — some twenty-six years after the calendar innovation — seeing that the new calendrists of the official church showed no signs of changing direction despite the many appeals addressed to the Holy Synod of the official State Church, Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina and the other bishop of the G.O.C. Synod, published an encyclical , in which they said that the time had arrived to apply more strictly the canons that deal with schism. Henceforth, in accordance with the First Canon of Saint Basil the Great. The mysteries of the official State Church were to be considered invalid and those who belonged to the official State Church were to be received into the G.O.C. by holy chrismation. The encyclical was signed by Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina, who was now presiding bishop of the Synod of the Traditional Church of Greece of () Genuine () Orthodox () Christians, as well as being signed by Metropolitans Germanos of the Cyclades, Christopher of Christianopolis (formerly of Megaris), and Polycarp of Diavlia.
TO THE MOST REVEREND PRIESTS OF OUR MOST HOLY
CHURCH OF THE GENUINE ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS
May 26, 1950
Protocol Number 13
Beloved Children in the Lord,
Grace and peace be unto you from God, and prayer and blessing from us.
Taking into consideration reports that some of our most pious priests are negligent in fulfilling the duties on the basis of the canons and the confession [of faith] we made in the year of Salvation, 1935, the Sacred Synod of our Most Holy Church undertakes to remind all of the following:
In the year of Salvation, 1935, we proclaimed the Church of the innovating new calendrists schismatic; we reiterate this proclamation once again and, consequently, we enjoin that the First Canon of Saint Basil the Great be applied, given that the mysteries celebrated by the new calendrists are — since they are schismatics — deprived of sanctifying grace.
Hence, you must not receive any new calendrists into the bosom of our Most Holy Church, nor, as a consequence, minister unto them without their having previously made a confession [of faith], whereby they condemn the innovation of the new calendrists and proclaim their Church as schismatic. Those who have been baptized by the innovators should be chrismated with holy chrism of Orthodox provenance, which also we have in sufficiency.
On this occasion we direct this final appeal to all Genuine Orthodox Christians, inviting them paternally to unite with us. The furtherance of our struggle for the piety of our Fathers demands this and is the fervent desire of all of us.
In extending this invitation to you, we do away with the stumbling-blocks that were created through our responsibility, and to this end we revoke and repudiate whatever was written or spoken by us from 1937 until today, either in sermons, pronouncements, publications, or encyclicals, and whatever was incompatible with or contrary to the principles of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ and our sacred struggle in behalf of Orthodoxy, as it was proclaimed in the encyclical published by the Sacred Synod in the year 1935, without any addition or omission, including even the technical phrase “potentially and in actuality”.
These things do we affirm this final time for the sake of the scandalized Christians, whose spiritual salvation we desire; and on this occasion we [again] proclaim that all of us must preserve intact even to the end of our days the confession we made in 1935, invoking God’s mercy for every deviation.
Wherefore, let us stand well.
With fervent prayers,
The Sacred Synod.
+Chrysostom, formerly Metropolitan of Florina
+Germanos, Metropolitan of the Cyclades Islands
+Christopher, Metropolitan of Christianopolis
+Polycarp, Metropolitan of Diavlia
Hence, the church buildings of the traditional Christians were closed, confiscated, or demolished. During Holy and Great Friday, the Epitaphios [Plashanitsa] [Winding Sheet] processions of the faithful were broken up by police and the Epitaphios’s were overturned and thrown to the ground. The clergy and monks were hauled into police stations where they were forcibly shaved and stripped of their clerical garb. Holy Tables were overturned, the holy Mysteries desecrated. This persecution was motivated only by the malice against the G.O.C. for their confession of faith: the church buildings, clergy and faithful of the heterodox denominations and sects throughout Greece remained safe and sound. The reaction of Archbishop Spyridon of the official State Church was immediate. The most violent and ruthless persecution of the Genuine Orthodox Church now broke out and lasted for five years (1950 – 1955). “In a memorandum to the Greek government in June of 1950, Archbishop Spyridon Vlahos stated that Old Calerderism was more dangerous to the nation than any propaganda, and more dangerous even than Communism [!], and that the Old Calendar movement was just as much a vanguard of pan-Slavism as Communism, and was part of an attempt to enslave the Greek nation. He suggested that the State abolish all Old Calendrist societies and make Old Calendrism equivalent to rebellion (treason); furthermore he proposed [that the government institute] … police surveillance and deportation of monastics to Mount Athos, and that the baptisms and weddings [of the traditional Orthodox] not be recognized by the State as valid. In comparing Old Calendarism with communism and identifying it with pan-Slavism, Archbishop Spyridon was playing on the fears of communism and the bitter memories arising out of the [Greek] civil war of 1945 – 49.
“On January 3, 1951, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Greek Government enacted a decree (No. 45) of persecution of the Genuine Orthodox Christians by the State.”(30)
“On the first of February, 1951, Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina, who was in hiding, was discovered, arrested and exiled. He was eighty-two years old at the time. Metropolitan Germanos of the Cyclades, who also was in hiding reposed during this period. The civil and church authorities refused permission for a church funeral for Metropolitan Germanos, nor would they allow any priest to serve even a memorial service. Hence, he was buried by laymen. Many traditional Orthodox clergy who came to the burial were arrested.
“In February of 1954, Metropolitans Christopher and Polycarp, despairing of the future of the Genuine Orthodox Church under such persecutions, again capitulated and returned to the official State Church.“(31)
As a result of this, Chrysostom of Florina remained alone as the head of the much larger group of the Genuine Orthodox Church until his death. Several candidates for the episcopacy were presented to him. Bishop Nikolai (Velimirovic) of the Serbian Church, who was then residing in the United States, offered to help him consecrate new bishops. However, although he could have done so had he chosen, Metropolitan Chrysostom declined to consecrate any of the candidates. In answer to the pleas of his flock for bishops, he directed that they come to terms with the bishops Matthew had consecrated and have them somehow regularized according to the canons.
While matters stood thus, a full five years after his Encyclical of 1950, Metropolitan Chrysostom reposed on September 7, 1955. Could it be that Metropolitan Chrysostom saw into the
On Septemebr 25, 1955, in the Patriarchal Church of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified in Alexandria, Egypt, Patriarch Christopher of Alexandria presided at a solemn memorial service for the repose of the soul of Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina. Three years later, his grave at the Convent of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Parnitha, Attica was opened and his remains were found to be fragrant. In fact, the fragrance was so strong that lay workers came to ask what the source was of this sweet aroma that had filled the entire surrounding area.future and had something better prepared for his faithful flock of the G.O.C. in Greece? Could it be that this was the reason he did not choose to have any of the candidates presented to him consecrated to the episcopacy?
After the death of Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina, his flock was left without bishops. For various reasons — but primarily because of Bishop Matthew’s uncanonical consecrations — they could not reconcile themselves to Matthew’s Synod. For the time being the affairs of the Genuine Orthodox Church (G.O.C.) Were managed by a twelve-member ecclesiastical commission. Some of the bishops of the official State Church — such as Metropolitan Evlogios of Korytsa — seemed sympathetic and interested in assisting the Traditionalist G.O.C. Movement, but nothing actually came to pass. In November of 1958, Patriarch Christopher also interceded for the G.O.C. before the Greek government and the official State Church, but to no avail.(32)
In December of 1960, Archimandrite Akakios Pappas traveled to the United States to petition the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to consecrate bishops for the G.O.C.. This was not the first time the G.O.C. Had petitioned the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to consecrate bishops.
Metropolitan Anastasy of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, well known for his extreme caution, decided that there was no need to get involved with any haste. However, Archbishop Seraphim of Chicago [who received the monastic tonsure on the Holy Mountain and was acquainted with the zealot movement there] and Bishop Theophil Ionescu of Detriot [both of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad] agreed to consecrate Archimandrite Akakios, who received the title “Bishop of Talantion” [in Greece]. This consecration was done without the blessing and knowledge of Metropolitan Anastasy or the Synod of the Russian Church Abroad. In addition, because of the uncanonical circumstances under which his consecration had taken place, Bishop Akakios would not reveal what bishops had consecrated him, nor would he present any certificate of consecration. Hence, suspicions arose on all sides.
Later, in 1962, Archbishop Leonty of Chile of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad traveled to Greece and, together with Archbishop Akakios Pappas, consecrated Parthenios of the Cyclades, Auxentios of Gardikion, and Chrysostom of Magnesia. The consecrations also were done without the knowledge or blessing of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Subsequent to these events, Archimandrite Akakios (the nephew of Archbishop Akakios Pappas of consecrated bishop for Salamis. It should be noted that the above-mentioned Archimandrite Auxentius — like many other Matthewite priest-monks and monastics — had left the Synod of Bishop Matthew in protest over Matthew’s consecration of bishops by himself alone. The G.O.C. Traditional Church of Greece now had a Synod of six bishops, with Archbishop Akakios of Talantion as their president. On the sixth of December, 1963, Metropolitan Parthenios of the Cyclades reposed, followed soon after by Archbishop Akakios in the same month of the same year. Bishop Auxentius of Gardikion was then elected and elevated to the Archepiscopal Throne of Athens and All Greece.
As a result of these developments, the Matthewites, in their turn, now condemned the uncanonical nature of the consecrations of the Florinite bishops. Each side was quick to blame the other for not observing the holy canons, while at the same time justifying its own side’s canonical deficiencies as economia. The truth is that, according to proper canonical order, both sides had flawed episcopal consecrations.
The seriousness of this matter and the controversy it engendered both in Greece and abroad prompted the G.O.C. Traditional Florinite Synod presided over by Archbishop Auxentius of Athens
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad officially and canonically ratified and recognized the consecrations of the G.O.C. Traditional Church of Greece of the Florinite jurisdiction; thereby, they accepted the G.O.C. as the lawful Traditional Church of Greece under the presidency of Archbishop Auxentius of Athens and All Greece as a sister church and declared that full ecclesiastical communion should be established. The text of this decision and the original photographically reproduced document containing the episcopal signatures follows on the next page (in Russian) and on the page thereafter in English.and All Greece to appeal to Metropolitan Philaret (of Blessed Memory) of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in 1969. Upon consulting with clergy of Greek background who were under the omophorion of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and hearing their positive reports concerning the character of Archbishop Auxentius, Metropolitan Philaret presented the petition of the Traditional Church of Greece (G.O.C.) To his Holy Synod, where the matter was discussed.
Thus, on December 18, 1969, Metropolitan Philaret and the entire Synod of the See footnote(33)
18 / 31 December 1969
To His Beatitude ,
Your Beatitude’s brotherly epistle of 25 November, 1969, was read by us in a meeting of the Hierarchical Synod on this day.
The many trials that the Orthodox Church has lived through from the beginning of its history, is especially strong in our evil times, and consequently, this especially requires unity between those who hold true to the faith given to us by our Fathers. With these feelings we wish to inform you that the Hierarchical Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad recognizes the authenticity of the episcopal ordinations of your predecessor of blessed memory Archbishop Akakia, and consequent ordinations of those bishops following him in your Holy Church. With this in mind and taking into account also various other circumstances, our Hierarchical Synod is acknowledging your Episcopal Hierarchy as brothers in Christ in full communion with us.
May the blessing of God rest upon all the clergy and faithful of your Church, especially during the coming days of the Nativity in the flesh of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The President of the Hierarchical Synod
+Nikon, Archbishop of Washington and Florida
+Seraphim, Archbishop of Chicago and Detroit
+Vitaly, Archbishop of Montreal and Canada
+Anthony, Archbishop of Los Angeles and Texas
+Averky, Archbishop of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery
+Anthony, Archbishop of Western America and San Francisco
+Sava, Bishop of Edmonton
+Nektary, Bishop of Seattle
+Andrei, Bishop of Rockland
Member of the Synod and Secretary +Laurus, Bishop of Manhattan
One author in Greece offers what is, perhaps, the best evaluation of the entire matter regarding the consecration of Archimandrite Akakios Pappas to the episcopacy.
“The phariseeism of the of the defenders of the new calendarism and Ecumenism reaches its apogee when it concerns itself with the consecration of the contemporary old calendar bishops. The agreement of all ecumenistic bishops with Masonic syncretism does not bother them; nor does the fact that most of the new calendar bishops in Greece today are simoniacs and adulterer bishops.(34) Even the question of transferring one bishop from one diocese to another, which at other times unsettled them, does not appear to impress them any longer. One matter alone appears completely unacceptable to them — that the old calendar bishop (Akakios Pappas) was consecrated by two bishops. They rend their clothes and shout, “What further need have we of witnesses?’ (Matthew 26:65); the consecration of a bishop by two bishops is uncanonical!”(35) “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithes of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy and faith … ye blind guides which strain out a gnat, and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24).
By using the same method and by applying exactness, one can prove that all the new calendar bishops of the official State Church of Greece are uncanonical. If there were irregularities in the consecration of some old calendarists, these were dictated by the persecutions they were enduring at the hands of the ecumenists and the unavoidable necessity of the times, and they were later corrected. What necessity, however, dictates the terrible and unforgivable uncanonicities in the consecration of ecumenist bishops? Besides, as long as they themselves later accept the doctrinal substantiality of the old calendar ordinations (inasmuch as the new calendrists say that the uncanonicity of a consecration is one issue and its doctrinal substantiality is another), why do they continue to discuss the canonicity of the old calendar consecrations? Even if out of necessity and because of the persecutions, the old calendrists made some mistakes in their consecrations, nonetheless, they preserved the Faith. The ecumenists, however, violate both the Faith and the canons and are the last to have the right to speak about the violation of the canons. People who consecrate bishops, despite the fact that the laity in the church are shouting “Unworthy!” (an-axios) and while those standing outside are scornfully hooting both the consecrators and the ones being consecrated, must have much effrontery in order to judge the consecrations of the G.O.C.”
It is true that the episcopal consecrations of the G.O.C., all performed under conditions of duress, confusion and persecution, were, from a strict canonical standpoint, flawed. In such troubled times, as Church History shows, because of unavoidable circumstances, irregularities do occur. Had it not been for the decision of a greater synod which examined and regularized these consecrations, as the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad did in 1969 for the Florinites, the consecrations would have remained deficient and flawed. Our author continues:
“Later, we observe that another hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (Archbishop Leonty of Chile) traveled to Greece and, together with Archbishop Akakios (Pappas), consecrated the rest of the bishops of the G.O.C. of Greece. The agreement of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad for the consecration of the Greek old calendar hierarchs is shown by the subsequent (ex post facto) official recognition of them by the whole Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in December of 1969.
“The consecration of the Genuine Orthodox Bishops of Greece,” say the ecumenists, “was performed by bishops of America, an action that is prohibited by the canons.” “The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece,” they write, “is prohibited from consecrating a bishop or another clergyman for the Church of Cyprus, or of Crete, Serbia, Bulgaria, etc.” We agree that this is indeed prohibited when the Churches of Crete, of Cyprus, of Serbia, of Bulgaria, etc., are Orthodox in all things. If, however, it were supposed that the Church of Cyprus had become heretical, would it continue to be prohibited by the canons for the Church of Greece to consecrate one or two bishops for the few remaining Orthodox of Cyprus? Would it not be criminal negligence if she did not perform such consecrations? If the festal calendar had not been changed in Greece; if the innovating bishops had not taken the road of Ecumenism; if Greece, for example, had remained truly Orthodox; then, indeed, the consecration of Greek bishops by the Russian hierarchy in America would have to be considered extra-jurisdictional, and therefore uncanonical. Now, however, not only are they not uncanonical, not only can they not be considered extra-jurisdictional, but on the contrary, they are unto salvation. In this manner was the remnant of grace — the chosen people of the old calendrists — preserved in Greece. Like Israel of old, in spite of all their provincialism and failings, they serve as a bridge of truth upon which all who still worship God in spirit and in truth will tread in order to cross the raging torrent of the present trial of Ecumenism.”
“By 1973, the Synod of the Traditional Church of Greece (G.O.C.) had ten bishops, 123 churches in Greece, thirty-nine monasteries and convents, several charitable organizations, numerous periodicals, and most of the Traditional Orthodox faithful in Greece.”(36)
His Beatitude Archbishop Auxentius of Athens and All Greece ruled the G.O.C. Traditional Church of Greece from the Archepiscopal Throne as chief hierarch for thirty-one years. He reposed on November 4, 1994.
On January 7, 1995, Metropolitan Maximos of Cephalonia was elected and raised to the Archepiscopal Throne of the G.O.C.!
1. D. Gatopoulos, Andreas Michalakopoulos, 1875 – 1938, Athens, Elevtheroudakis, 1947, pp. 90 – 93. In Greek and based exclusively on the private archives of the statesman who would subsequently become President of the Council. Quoted in The Old Calendarists and the Rise of Religious Conservatism in Greece, by Dimitri Kitssikis, pp. 9 – 11, St. Gregory Palamas Monastery, Etna, California.
5. In Studies on the History of the Church of Cyprus, 4th – 20th Centuries, Benedict Englezakis describes how Metaxakis attempted, unsuccessfully, to assume the position of Archbishop of Cyprus in 1916, but a “decisive part in his failure was played by being suspected of modernism, his unconcealed admiration for Venizelos, and his authoritarian character” (Vaparoum, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Aldershot, Hampshire, Great Britain, 1995, p. 440).
17. Here in part, is what Papadopoulos wrote: “The letter of Patriarch Jeremias II [1572-1584, 1586-1595] indicates in an excellent manner the position which the Orthodox Church immediately took against the Gregorian modification of the calendar. The Church considered it yet another of the many innovations of Old Rome, a universal scandal, and an arbitrary affront to the traditions of the Church. The reform of the calendar is not only a matter of astronomy but also pertains to the Church, because it is related to the celebration of the Feast of Pascha. Hence, the Pope had no right to reform the calendar, [but by doing so, he] proved that he esteems himself superior to the Ecumenical Councils. Consequently, The Orthodox Church has not been in favor of the reform of the calendar” (Archimandrite Chrysostom Papadopoulos, Church Herald #143, 1918).
19. Archimandrite Theokletos A. Strangas, History of the Church of Greece, from Reliable Sources, Vol. 2, Athens, 1970, p.1181 (in Greek), quoted in The Old Calendrists and the Rise of Religious Conservatism in Greece, p. 18.
23. In his Report to the Committee of the Department of Religion, dated January 16, 1923, the then Archimandrite Chrysostom Papadopoulos wrote: “No Orthodox autocephalous Church can separate itself from the rest and accept the new calendar without becoming schismatic in the eyes of the others.”
25. The irony derives from the fact that when the Precious Cross appeared in the heavens on September 13-14, 1925, over the Chapel of Saint John the Theologian on Mount Hymettos, it was this same George Kondylis who, as a government minister at the time, sent the police to arrest Father John Floros, the priest who was serving the Vigil when the Cross appeared.
26. The Synod of the Church of Romania, under the leadership of Patriarch Myron Cristea, a former Uniate, decided to change the Paschalion also. This immediately resulted in bloody riots in the streets; whereupon the Synod reversed its decree on the Paschalion and retained only the calendar change. The Church of Finland, which is under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, decided to change both the traditional calendar and the traditional Paschalion, thereby completely adopting the usage of the Protestant and Roman Catholic denominations in this matter.
28. Metropolitan Germanos was buried with honors by the new calendar bishops, who claimed that he had submitted a petition shortly before his death, asking to be received again into the official State Church. In the book The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (p. 144), however, author Stavros Karamitsos states that many discounted this claim of the new calendrists as spurious. However, under the circumstances of the Nazi Occupation, it was impossible to take any action to clarify the matter.
34. Adulterers in the sense that they have taken dioceses belonging to other (old calendrist) bishops, dioceses that are ancient and have used the Traditional calender hundreds and hundreds of years. Yea, in some cases over a millennium!
35. The consecration of a bishop by two bishops is not uncanonical, provided there is synodal approval for it. The First Canon of the Holy Apostles, adopted and ratified by subsequent Ecumenical Councils, is explicit: “Let a bishop be ordained by two or three bishops” (provided — as later Councils stipulated — that the local Synod of Bishops has accepted and approved of the consecration).