Firm Declarations of Patriarch Diodoros
That Strengthen the Faith of Orthodox People
This is the full text of the unwavering positions and Orthodox convictions of the Most Holy Mother of the Churches, the Ancient Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which was deposited and entered into the minutes of the assembly of Orthodox leaders at the Phanar on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, 1992, by His Most Reverend Beatitude, the Venerable Patriarch Diodoros I.
Most Blessed and Most Reverend Presidents of the Most Holy local Orthodox Patriarchates and Autocephalous and Autonomous Churches, Holy Brethren, beloved in the Lord:
We bless and glorify the God Who is worshipped in Trinity, Who in His Divine Providence arranged the present much-desired Consultation of the Most Reverend Presidents of the Patriarchates and of the Most Holy Autocephalous and Autonomous Orthodox Churches, for the fulfillment of our common yearning and our sacred desire to be face to face and to exchange thoughts on the contemporary problems of mankind and to deliberate about the topics that occupy our Holy Church.
Assuredly, after sending to all our beloved brethren, the Most Blessed Presiding Hierarchs, about three years ago our letter, numbered Protocol 395 and dated May 30 (Old Style), in which we emphasized the need for such a Summit Meeting of the Orthodox Presiding Hierarchs, we had in view that wherever this would take place, it would not be simply a conventional meeting, for the concelebration of the Liturgy and Communion from the same cup of life and for the projection of the love and unity that already exist among the Presiding Hierarchs, but that we would be given an opportunity to set before ourselves in common and at length many of the problems that seriously occupy our Holy Orthodox Church and to find their solutions, for the benefit of all the Orthodox.
This Assembly will constitute a truly historic landmark in the journey of our Orthodox Church. For this reason we are summoned, so that united “in the bond of peace” and love in Christ, we might bear witness of this to the world, a witness of faith and truth, unity and peace, love and righteousness, salvation and freedom in Christ.
Hence, we departed in joy and exultation from the Holy City of Jerusalem, the earthly seat of the Heavenly King Christ, which was sanctified through His voluntary martyrdom on the Cross, and His glorious Resurrection from the dead, and blessed through the descent therein of the All-holy Spirit upon the Holy Disciples and Apostles, on the day of Pentecost, at the divine establishment of our Holy Church.
In ineffable gladness we are present in this Queen of Cities, which has played such an important role in the life of our Most Holy Church. And we come with the inward conviction that the Divine Builder of our Church, Jesus Christ, will lavish on all of us who have assembled “in the same place” His divine illumination, wisdom and power, so that we may address ourselves to the world, which awaits today the consoling voice of Orthodoxy. We firmly believe that in this sacred Assembly of ours, which culminates with a Pan-Orthodox liturgical concelebration on the day when we celebrate the triumph of Orthodoxy, the Spirit of God will preside, the unchanging voice of Orthodoxy will be proclaimed “with one mouth and one heart,” the voice of the Lord “Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” For this reason, we should reckon up the responsibilities which we shoulder as Presiding Hierarchs of our Churches, by the mercy of God, and spiritual guides of the flock that awaits blessings from us who stand “in the type of Christ.” We have, therefore, an obligation imposed on us and a sacred duty to express our opinion in deepest faith, in truth and sincerity, fearing nobody and flinching under no adversary, for the Lord will give us “reason and wisdom, which all our enemies will be unable to gainsay or resist.”
Following, then, the God-bearing Fathers and teachers, we consider it necessary to assure the present venerable and longed-for Assembly that our Holy Church of Jerusalem maintains without alteration the sacred Traditions and the order and practice of our Most Holy Church, which were consecrated by the Holy Ecumenical Synods, following faithfully what our Fathers taught.
She repeats, therefore, that she adheres steadfastly to their definitions and decisions, accepting no innovation, but on the contrary she rejects and condemns every attempt made from whatever source to create a new order in the Orthodox Church.
Thus, examining the proposed agenda, which is derived from the agreed Memoranda of our Most Blessed brethren, and having in hand the outline of the Message, which we are called upon to adopt, in order to give thereby to the world the witness of our Holy Orthodox Church, we have to remark on certain points and ask you, our Most Holy and beloved brethren, to take these into account and consider their importance, so that the text may truly be the voice of the united Orthodoxy which will find an echo not only in the ears, but also in the consciences of the Orthodox faithful.
In the first place, the aim of the present sacred Assembly, as we have previously mentioned, is to formulate the opinion of the Church on the topics that occupy Holy Orthodoxy today.
Our message, therefore, cannot have a standpoint unrelated to reality, but must express clearly and sincerely the position of Orthodoxy, re-echo her uneasiness, namely the evaluation of those things that are happening around her and often at her expense, stigmatize the bad and praise the good, and emphasize concretely what she feels, without hesitations and calculations inappropriate to the Church’s manner of expression, and without considering any material advantages and promises.
A large part of our text, therefore, refers to the proselytizing of the Orthodox faithful practised through the Unia in the countries which were under Communist regimes. The activities of the Uniates—to say nothing of the Roman Catholics in general—are clearly known, as are the methods through which they have been ceaselessly proselytizing the Orthodox faithful not only in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Serbia, but also in the Middle East, using all manner of means, such as education, employment, pressure, compulsion, violence and even crime, as the recent history of the Orthodox Church in Croatia, Ukraine, and elsewhere bears witness. We, as the spiritual leaders of the Orthodox Church, come together today in a historic Meeting. The Most Blessed Presiding Hierarchs of Russia, Serbia, Poland and Czechoslovakia, having received bitter experience of the persecutions against the Orthodox on the part of the Uniates and the Roman Catholics, recently sent to all of us precious letters, dramatizing the dreadful things that they, the Orthodox, are suffering within the bosom of their Orthodox Churches, requesting us to lend them moral support, but at the same time to condemn such actions, which not only constitute a flagrant violation of basic human rights, but are also utterly opposed chiefly and primarily to the spirit of Christian teaching.
It is natural, then, for this Assembly of ours not to be restricted only to calling attention to and to ascertaining, but also to expressing its feelings sincerely—feelings of bitterness over the conduct of certain Christians, who have been given the opportunity and “have entered to spy on the freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to enslave us.” The offensive phrase of the Pope, the leader of the Roman Catholics, speaking about the “re-evangelization of Europe,” that the Orthodox people who inhabit the Eastern states have not known Christ, must inspire all of us with serious thoughts and anxieties about the intentions of the Roman Catholics against the Orthodox. We must not be asleep, calming ourselves and each other about a supposed change of Rome’s intentions and her good will to continue the dialogue of love with the Orthodox Church. The recent tragic events are unfortunately proof of their hostile disposition. Our faithful Orthodox people do not accept diplomatic solutions, nor do they compromise on matters of faith. For this reason they anxiously await the voice of Orthodoxy through us, the voice of truth which boldly denounces evil, refutes falsehood, and condemns plainly and directly every anti-Christian and anti-Orthodox activity, from whatever source it proceeds. They await the condemnation of those who founded and support the Unia, and they await the condemnation of the actions of the Roman Catholics in general and of the Pope in particular, as inciting and encouraging the acts of violence and other actions of the Unia at the expense of the Orthodox.
For this reason it will be futile to continue the theological dialogues with the Roman Catholics. Our Most Holy Church of Jerusalem has repeatedly begged them to end the proselytizing of the Orthodox faithful by the Roman Catholics and the Unia—who have always used as many artifices and ways as possible for this purpose—in the Middle East, and especially in the Holy Land. Secondly, through her representatives and written testimonies, our Church has complained to the bipartite theological dialogue about what is being perpetrated against her. Finally, believing that She is laboring in vain in the dialogue with them, that there is no purpose in continuing contacts with the unrepentant, in accordance with the injunction of the Apostle of the Nations, “Reject a heretical man after the first and second admonition,” She has broken off the Theological Dialogue, as the only correct response to the bleeding of our flock. Thus She has made Her position clear.
Beyond the religious propaganda and the proselytizing of the Roman Catholics, however, our Patriarchate faces also their cunning attempts to outflank the Orthodox presence in the Most Holy Places of Pilgrimage and to increase their influence over the Holy Land, through the political diplomacy of the Vatican and the intervention of Catholic European forces into the international political scene.
We therefore deem worthy of congratulations the decision of the Most Holy Church of Greece, which at the first regular Meeting of the Permanent Holy Synod in February denounced “the cunning policy of Rome,” asked the Greek State “to break off diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Greece,” and remarked that the dialogue with Rome “has proved neither sincere nor fraternal to the Orthodox world.” We congratulate His Beatitude, Archbishop Seraphim of Athens and All Greece, for his courageous condemnation on television of the activities of the Vatican. The stopping of Theological Dialogues by our Church of Jerusalem, as much as the decision of the Church of Greece, has been praised by the Orthodox Faithful and appears to be a position imperative for all of us who are called to respond to the questions of the Orthodox people about how we should face the onslaughts of the Uniates and the Roman Catholics.
In the same spirit we think that theological dialogues with the heterodox have no positive outcome. Already some of the heterodox have diverged from their original position, adopting innovations alien to the spirit of the Church. Some of the Orthodox Bishops are engaging in dialogues with them, and worse than this, are praying with them, which causes scandal to the faithful and damage to their souls.
Likewise, optimism is expressed about the “positive”—as it is asserted—outcome of the dialogue with the Anti-Chalcedonians [the Monophysites], who have repeatedly been condemned for their persistence in heresy and false belief. Our Most Holy Church of Jerusalem abides steadfastly by the decisions of both the Holy Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon and the subsequent Holy Ecumenical Synods, and neither setting aside any of the definitions nor subjecting them to fresh inquiry, she has broken off the theological dialogue with the non-Chalcedonians.
She does not, however, exclude the possibility of their return and re-inclusion in the bosom of our Most Holy Orthodox Church. In what way the heterodox are received is known. They must fully accept—without any exception—the teaching of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is formulated in the definitions and decisions of the Ecumenical Synods.
The partial acceptance of the teaching of the Orthodox Church, that is, the exception of certain definitions of the Ecumenical Synods, as is being done by the heterodox according to what pleases them and serves their interests, as in this case by the Anti-Chalcedonians, cannot constitute a sign of their contact with our Most Holy Orthodox Church. On the contrary, it will entangle her in vicissitudes and divisions, which will weaken her healthy body. For this reason we are bound to inform you, our Most Blessed brethren, in this fraternal Assembly, that our Most Holy Church is abstaining also from this dialogue. For, despite the positive estimate of its progress that it is going to develop further to the better, it will be of no benefit, unless it presupposes the full acceptance of the Orthodox Teaching.
But if such is the progress of the Theological Dialogues with the heterodox, what are we to say about the active participation of the Orthodox Church in the World Council of Churches?
The fact that this organization is composed of many “churches” of varied provenance—Protestant groups, Congregations and offshoots—means that it is not the ideal forum for us to present the spiritual wealth of our Most Holy Orthodox Church.
Without doubt Orthodoxy is the diamond of the Christian faith and, as a precious stone, preserves its value, wherever it be found.
In this hodgepodge of Christian confessions, the voice of Orthodoxy is desperately raised, but disappears in the ocean of resolutions of the World Council of Churches, the style and content of which are far removed from true confession. With particular reference to the pitiful image—from an Orthodox perspective—evoked by the inaugural sessions, the festivals at the conclusion of the proceedings and its manifestations in general, which have a peculiar liturgical character and form a pandemonium of joint prayer and worship of anti-Orthodox syncretism, as they recently took place in Canberra, Australia, we note with sorrow the tragic participation of Orthodox Hierarchs in them, as applauding and blessing what happened.
After we have all confirmed these points, there must be an international denunciation of the leading role of the Pope of Rome in the tragic actions against the Orthodox faithful and a condemnation of the acts of violence and of the proselytizing activities of the Roman Catholics and the Uniates incited and supported by them. Likewise, we must also make a decision about cutting off the Theological Dialogue with the Roman Catholics and the heterodox in general. Otherwise the Orthodox people will have doubts about the assumptions and aims of the present Assembly. With good reason the Orthodox faithful will ask: Why do we condemn certain Orthodox groups bluntly and make no mention at all of a dialogue of love with them, at the same time that the Orthodox Church engages in dialogues with heretics? How do we justify the expression that we must abstain from communion with such [Orthodox] groups, when we embrace the heterodox, whether this be opportunely or inopportunely?
Your Beatitudes and Your Eminences, Holy Brethren, in declaring hence, at this sacred Assembly, the position of our Most Holy Church of Jerusalem on the topics set before us today, in deepest realization of our calling and responsibility, not to mention our promise “rightly to teach the word of truth,” we offer the following summary.
Our Most Holy Church of Jerusalem:
1. Accepts and preserves all the decisions and definitions of the Holy local and Ecumenical Synods, which our Holy Orthodox Church and her Sacred Tradition and practice dictate.
2. To remove all misunderstanding, recognizes all the prerogatives and rights of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and of the other Ancient Patriarchates, which the Holy Ecumenical Synods have bestowed upon them, and also that which the practice of our Holy Orthodox Church has lavished on them by way of privileges, and is opposed to any attempt at creating a new order in the Church.
3. Believes that, because our Most Holy Orthodox Church in general is the secure treasury of the Truth, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, for this reason the Theological Dialogue with the heterodox is turning out to her loss, to the extent that in the attempt to discover points that we can accept in common with them, the Orthodox Church places in doubt the truth that she possesses. For this reason, She:
4. Abides by Her decisions made in Sessions 65 (May 9/22, 1989) and 88 (February 23/March 7, 1992) of our Holy and Sacred Synod concerning the suspension of the Theological Dialogues with the heterodox in general, namely with the Roman Catholics, the Anglicans, the Anti-Chalcedonians, the Old Catholics, and the Reformed Churches.
5. Condemns forthrightly the proselytizing activities of the Vatican, as stirring up and strengthening its recent proselytizing and assaults on the Orthodox faithful in the countries of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and denounces internationally its anti-Christian activity and behavior.
6. Abides steadfastly by her abstention from the theological Sessions of the World Council of Churches.
7. Abide by our previous recommendation concerning the meeting of the Presiding Hierarchs of the Most Holy Orthodox Churches for the scrutiny, study, and resolution of other varied problems that still exist and which seriously occupy our Holy Orthodox Church in her totality, since, as is attested, the convocation of the Holy and Great Synod, is being delayed.
In making these suggestions to you, with much love, in this present sacred Assembly of Presiding Hierarchs, we entreat you to study the foregoing observations seriously, and we recommend that you make serious and definite decisions, such as are dictated by contemporary circumstances and the demands of the whole Orthodox Church.
In conclusion, we express our warm thanks to His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios for his noble hospitality, and we wish him strength in the discharge of his Patriarchal and pastoral duties.
May our Lord be our helper, defender and inspirer, for the glory of the most praiseworthy name of the Suprasubstantial Trinity and for the good of Holy Orthodoxy throughout the world.
Patriarch of Jerusalem