Letter of the late Abp. Seraphim of Chicago to Auxentios (1972)

Letter of the late Abp. Seraphim of Chicago to Auxentios (1972)

abpseraphim (1)

Diocese of Chicago and Detroit, Inc. Head Office: Vladimirovo Lost LakeRock City, Ill 61070 Subsidiary: 2135 North Sawyer St.Chicago, Ill 60647 ph: 312-384-1973The 26th October 1972 N.C.Memory of St. Demetrius the Myrrhgusher.The Archbishop Auxentius,Dear Brother and Concelebrant in Christ,Because recently, discussions are again arising concerning the ordination of the lateAkakios Papas and as there is mention of my name, I would like to make thefollowing points.Bishop Akakios was ordained bishop by my unworthiness and the Romanian bishopTheophilus. I did not ordain bishop Akakios alone. The ordination took place inDetroit, Michigan and in the Cathedral Church of bishop Theophilus.There are eyewitnesses who are still alive, who were present during the ordination,that is, the then Archimandrites now Bishops Akakios and Peter.Therefore the ordination certificate, which bears my signature, is accurate as far as itmentions that mine unworthiness and another bishop performed the ordination.The second bishop is not mentioned and did not sign the ordination certificatebecause both bishop Theophilus and bishop Akakios for personal reasons did notpublicly make known the incident.As far as my participation is concerned: I explained to the then candidateArchimandrite Akakiosthat owing to the prohibition of his being ordained by mySynod, (that) bishop Theophilus would assist so that there be a second bishoppresent for the ordination.I explained to all who were interested, that bishopTheophilus followed the New Calendar, even though there existed a fewcommunities adhering to the Old Calendar under his jurisdiction. The cathedralchurch in Detroit celebrates with the New Calendar. I did not hide this fact frombishop Akakios. His reply was that there was an extremely urgent need for a bishopfor Greece and thathe had to return as bishop, thus consenting to bishop Theophilusparticipation in the ordinationhe would overlook the fact that he celebrated withthe New Calendar.
If bishop Theophilus now denies his participation in the ordination, he himself bearsthe responsibility. I cannot place his signature in the Ordination Certificate. BishopAkakios accepted the ordination knowing well back then that bishop Theophilus wasnot going to sign any certificate whatsoever. The responsibility therefore for thepresent Confusion rests with the late bishop Akakios and those with him. Now, withthe written denial of bishop Theophilus that he did not take part in the ordination,the situation becomes complicated and a canonical issue concerning the ordinationis created.I’m truly sorry for this, but who would have foreseen or imagined thepresent development of the whole matter? Dear brother, is it possible that God inHis Righteousness has allowed this temptation because your jurisdiction hasrepeatedly and excessively used the incident of the ordination of a bishop by a singlebishop as argumentation against the jurisdiction of Archbishop Matthew? If humilityand compassion had been shown towards those that were ordained by a singlebishop and if the decision of our Synod concerning them had received acceptance,then probably this temptation would not have come upon you.Our Metropolitan Philaret from the outset and even prior to last years appearancebefore our Synod of the bishops from the jurisdiction of Matthew wrote repeatedlytowards your Reverence, saying that we are convinced that, the so-much desiredunion between the two jurisdictions would be achieved if you could confront theabove mentioned bishops with brotherly humility and if you addressed them asbishops.The motivations of our Synod, dear brother, for the ties with our Greek brethren,were always sincere and (aimed) towards the strengthening of Orthodoxy during thisturbulent age. That is why we are always hopeful that a way would be found so thatthe two jurisdictions of the Genuine Orthodox Christians in Greece could unite.Towards this blessed aim we do not spare toils or time, always encouraging andadvising the two jurisdictions to unite.In your correspondence with our Holy Synod, we observe that you repeatedly throwthe responsibility of no union on the other jurisdictions. However, allow me to makea few observations.Re-examining the documents from the Synod files concerning thematters in Greece, we have the encyclical of your Reverence that was issued inAthens on the twenty seventh of August 1971 O.C. Protocol No. 532, which amongstother things mentions the following:we declare with responsibility and categoricallytowards everyone, that this issue (i.e. the union with the Matthewites) is consideredby many as closed for many and different reasons.Note that this Encyclical was written while the bishops Kallistos and Epiphanios of the Matthewite jurisdiction were still to be found in the United States of America,
giving a report on their situation before the Synod. The same sorrowful expression:that a union with the Matthewites is considered a closed case, is to be found printedin your official journal, even after the return of the above mentioned bishops toGreece, and even after the publication of our Synods decision concerning them.Our Fr. Basil Sakkas from Geneva had commented on the issue and justly questions:from whom and when was the issue closed? Doesn’t this indicate a manifestunwillingness and prejudice on your part not even to merely accept the notion of thepossibility to come to discussions with the Matthewites?And again, is it not a sign of unwillingness to unitewith the other jurisdiction on your behalf your ordination of the bishop of Thessaloniki, where there already presides a bishop of the Matthewite jurisdiction for more than twenty years, in fact now, during a period of hopes forunion. Does not this deed complicate the situation even more anddoes it not revealthe unwillingness to unite on your part?But even more, it saddens us that you discard the verdict and resolution of ourSynod concerning the Matthewite Bishops, by writing in your official mouthpiece:that they can rightfully be compared with those of the Meletian Schism of Alexandria.When our decisions are to your liking, then you take great joy and acceptthem; when they are disagreeable, then you discard them.But such behaviour doesnot suit serious and maturely minded men, how much less for Bishops.You call those of the Matthewite jurisdiction: schismatics. But examining the eventwhich lead to the separation, we note that initially the Metropolitan of FlorinaChrysostom and those with him, declared the innovating church of the NewCalendarists as schismatic; as follows the canons concerning schismatics were placedin effect. After a while he changed viewsand declared that the danger of theCalendar constitutes an irregularity of sorts and not the cause of schism.Following this, bishop Matthew and those with him departed. In time, bishopMatthew ordained alone bishops for bishoprics of Greece, always considering theofficial church as schismatic. A few months after the repose of bishop Matthew,Bishop Chrysostom issued another official declaration where he considers theinnovating church of the New Calendarists of Greece as schismatic and as aconsequence her mysteries being invalid.Thus, he who studies the aforementionedfacts with objectivity concludes that: at least the Matthewite jurisdiction isultimately justified since she never changed the view that she had initiallyformulated. On the contrary, the jurisdiction of the bishop Chrysostom is the onethat changed her initial stanceand after a thirty-year period returned to thatposition which the Matthewite jurisdiction had preserved from the outset.How thencan the Matthewites be declared schismatics?But again, irrespective of what has
been said and what has occurred during the past, are not both of you (now) inagreement with regards to the official Church of Greece? With the lapse of twentyyears and more since the time when bishop Matthew ordained bishops for the Greekbishoprics, have you not recently stopped ordaining titular bishops and ratherordained bishops for the Greek bishoprics? Which points divide you today?Your jurisdiction has not shown seriousness or stability in her expositions andresolutions. Even more so as if the divisions, accusations and confusions that wereprovoked by your ordinations in Greece last year weren’t enough, we observe thatyou have also transferred the same situation to this hemisphere through theordination of bishop Akakios the younger in Montreal. Concerning this anticanonicaldeed, both the Archbishop of Montreal Vitaly and our Synod have written to you,but unfortunately in vain. You realize, dear brother, that a single anticanonical deedagainst one of our bishops is considered as such against all of our bishops, because itis a sin against the Church and it cannot be considered a simple local issue. Thepresent situation of events saddens all of us.Initially when I took part in the ordination of the late bishop Akakios, I did it in goodfaith, sincerely thinking that I was helping my Greek brethren. The same can be saidabout the motivations of our blessed Archbishop Leonty. The confusion, thedivisions, the actions, accusations that have since arisen, I had never even suspectedback then. Now I have come to appreciate and comprehend the fact that yourbishop Chrysostom reposed without leaving successors. The outcome of eventsindicates that he was a deep conversant of individuals and events, thus not desiringto be responsible for the present sorrowful predicament. I made a mistakeordaining the bishop Akakios the elder as regards to the fact that did not knowwell the individuals or the real situation of events in the Greek Church.
I do not write these things to shame you, dear brother, according to the word of theApostle Paul towards the Corinthians, but I admonish you and offer the opportunityto reconsider certain opinions and that you correct those which need correction.With candor I write to you in such fashionfor I happen to be more responsible thananyone else for your line of ordinationsand thus admonish you not only as abrother, but also as a father. I take joy in the fact that even though many years havepassed and I have advanced in age, I am still alive and able to write to you the above.Your brother in Christ,
Seraphim, Archbishop of Chicago and Detroit
 
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