Lettera enciclica a tutti i cristiani ortodossi della terra e delle isole – San Marco di Efeso
To all the genuine Christian children of the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic
Eastern Church of Christ in Târgoviste and throughout the world: Grace,
peace, and mercy from God Almighty.
No small tempest overtook that ancient Ark, when, violently buffeted by
waves, it was borne upon the waters, and had not the Lord God remembered
Noah and seen fit to still the water, there would have been no hope of sal- vation for it at all. Thus also with regard to the New Ark of our Church, since
misbelievers have launched an implacable war against us, we have decided to
leave behind the present Tomos against them, so that by means of what is
written herein you may be able to defend your Orthodoxy more securely
against such men. However, lest our composition be burdensome to simpler
people, we have decided to frame the issue in the vernacular, wording it as
In the vernacular
From old Rome there have come certain persons who learned there to
think as the Latins do. What is bad about this is how, from being born and
bred Romans [Pωµαῖοι, i.e., Greeks] of Roumele, they not only have changed
their faith, but even wage war upon the Orthodox and true dogmas of the
Eastern Church which Christ, the Divine Apostles, and the Holy Synods of the
Holy Fathers have handed down to us. Hence, cutting off these persons as rot- ten members, we decree:
(1) Whoever does not confess with heart and mouth that he is a child of the
Eastern Church baptized in the Orthodox manner, and that the Holy Spirit
proceeds from the Father alone, essentially and hypostatically, as Christ says
in the Gospel, but temporally from the Father and the Son, let such a person be
outside our Church and let him be anathematized.
(2) Whoever does not confess that at the Mystery of Holy Communion the
laity, too, must partake of both kinds, of the Precious Body and Blood, but
instead says that it is sufficient to partake only of the Body, only of the Flesh,
because therein is also the Blood, when as a matter of fact Christ said and administered
each separately, and they who fail to observe these matters, let such
persons be anathematized.
(3) Whoever says that our Lord Jesus Christ at the Mystical Supper had
unleavened bread (made without yeast), as did the Hebrews, and not leavened
bread, that is, bread raised with yeast, let him depart far away from us and let
him be anathema, as one holding Jewish views and as bringing the doctrines of
Apollinarios and of the Armenians into our Church, on which account let him
be doubly anathema.
(4) Whoever says that our Christ and God, when He comes to judge, will
not come to judge souls together with bodies, but instead will come to sentence
only bodies, let him be anathema.
(5) Whoever says that the souls of Christians who have repented while in
the world but have failed to perform their penitential rule of prayer [ϰανόνα],
go to the purgatorial fire when they die, where there is flame and punishment,
and are purified, which is a pagan Greek myth, and those who, like Origen,
think that Hell is not everlasting, and thereby afford an occasion of license to
commit sin, let him and all such persons be anathema.
(6) Whoever says that the Pope is the head of the Church, and not Christ,
and that he has authority to admit persons to Paradise by his letters [of indulgence]
and can forgive as many sins as a person may commit who pays
money to receive indulgences (certificates of forgiveness) from him, let such
a person be anathema.
(7) Whoever does not follow the customs of the Church, as the Seven Holy
OEcumenical Synods have decreed, and Holy Pascha, and the Menologion,
which they rightly made it a law that we should follow, and wishes to follow
the newly invented Paschalion and the New Menologion of the atheist astronomers
of the Pope, and opposes all of these things and wishes to overthrow
and destroy the dogmas and customs of the Church that have been handed
down by our Fathers, let him be anathema and let him be put out of the
Church of Christ and out of the assembly of the faithful.
(8) As for you pious and Orthodox Christians, remain faithful in what you
have been taught and have been born and brought up in, and when the time
calls for it and the need arises, let your very blood be shed in order to safeguard
the Faith handed down by our Fathers and your confession; and beware
of such persons as the aforementioned, in order that our Lord Jesus Christ may
help you, and at the same time may the prayer of us, your humble servants, be
with all of you. Amen.
In the year of the God-Man 1583, in the Twelfth Indiction, November 20.
Jeremiah of Constantinople
Sylvester of Alexandria
Sophronios of Jerusalem
And the rest of the Hierarchs present at the Synod
The Tomos of Cyril Loukaris, Patriarch of Alexandria, in Târgoviste, Moldavia,
Cyril, by the mercy of God
Pope and Patriarch of the great city of Alexandria
and Judge of the inhabited earth
To all the Orthodox Christians in Târgovite, both those listed among the
clergy and those belonging to the laity, genuine children of the Holy, Catholic,
and Apostolic Eastern Church of Christ, who rightly abhor and reject, for the
sake of Evangelical truth, every empty utterance and addition of both the
heretics and the Latins who insidiously wage war against our Orthodox Faith:
Grace, peace, and mercy from God Almighty and our Lord Jesus Christ, our
No small tempest overtook that ancient Ark, when, violently buffeted and
tossed by waves, it was borne upon the waters, with the floodgates sending
down furious showers of rain by Divine permission and, as it were, menacing
those in the Ark, and there was no hope for those enclosed therein of finding
deliverance, had not God remembered Noah the steersman and seen fit to still
the water. These things, I believe, were a foreshadowing of the woes that even
now beset the New Ark, that is, our Church. We do not expect these woes to
desist, unless God should lay to rest and subdue these evil torrents, which destroy
simpler souls. For, envying the profound peace of the Church in this city,
they have launched an implacable war against us and have continued to
disturb the tranquility that exists here. Being minded, therefore, to leave behind
the present Tomos against them, so that it might be a panoply for all of
you and so that by means of what is written herein you may be able to defend
your Orthodoxy more securely against such men, we deemed it meet, lest our
composition be burdensome to simpler people, to put the entire issue before
you in the vernacular, wording it as follows:
From old Rome there have come certain persons who learned there to
think as the Latins do. What is bad about this is how, from being born and
bred Romans [Pωμαῖοι, i.e., Greeks] of Roumele—whose parents, I can aver,
have never even seen a Westerner—and by going to Rome, they not only have
changed their faith, but even wage war upon the true and Orthodox dogmas
of the Eastern Church which Christ, the Divine and sacred Disciples of the
Savior, and the Synods of the Holy Fathers have handed down to us. Therefore,
since we are going to depart from here, we enjoin you, of your charity, to
stand firm in your piety and in your Orthodoxy. And as for such Latinizers
and corrupters of your consciences, let them not have so much as a hearing
from you, but reject them as heretics and enemies of your salvation, whenever
they speak to you against these things that we write here below. No, you
should think in their manner.
First, whoever does not confess with heart and mouth, and indeed, whoever
calls himself a Roman [Pωμαῖος, i.e., a Greek] and a child of the Eastern
Church, and is baptized in the Greek Christian manner, as we are, and then
does not confess that the All-Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone,
essentially and hypostatically, and that He proceeds from the Father and the
Son temporally: whoever does not confess thus, but says that the Spirit
proceeds from the Father and the Son, let him be outside our Church, let him
not have any communion with us, and let him be anathema.
Secondly, whoever does not confess that at the Mystery of Communion the
laity, too, must partake of the precious and immaculate Body and Blood, but
instead says that they should commune only of the immaculate Body and not
of the Blood as well, let him be outside the Church and let him be anathema.
And in addition to this, whoever says that it is sufficient to partake only of the
Flesh, because therein is also the Blood, whereas Christ said and administered
each separately, and fails to observe these matters, let such persons be anathema.
Thirdly, whoever says that our Lord Jesus Christ at the Mystical Supper
had unleavened bread, like the Jews, and not leavened bread, that is, bread raised
by yeast, let him depart far away from us and let him be anathema, as one
holding Jewish views and as bringing the doctrines of Apollinarios and of the
Armenians into our Church, on which account let him be doubly anathema.
Fourthly, whoever says that our Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes to
judge, will not come for the sake of souls, but will come to sentence bodies, let
him be anathema.
Fifthly, whoever says that the souls of Christians who have repented while
in this world but have failed to perform their penitential rule of prayer [ϰανό-
να], when they are parted from their bodies, go to the purgatorial fire, where
there is flame, torment, and punishment, which is a pagan Greek myth, let him
be anathema, since they give Christians license to sin.
Sixthly, whoever says that the Pope of Rome is the head of the Church, and
not Christ, let him be anathema.
Whoever opposes these precepts in order to overthrow and destroy them,
let him be anathema.
As for you, my Christians, I beseech you, for the Lord’s sake and for the
sake of what is profitable for your souls, to beware of these wolves, whoever
they may be, and to read this Tomos frequently in Church, so that you may be
familiar with the points on which such men are going to war against you.
Throughout their lives they have not learned anything other than to oppose us
Orthodox Christians, in order that destruction and ill-treatment might be
inflicted on our nation by Latins. Let us not listen to them, but let us stand
firm as far away as possible. Beseech God that you not enter into temptation
on account of the Faith. However, when there is great need, it is a sweet thing
for a man to shed his blood for the sake of piety. But in so great a matter, God
will not allow it, so that your enemies may prove wholly insignificant and, by
the Grace of Christ, ignorant and blind. Yet, guard yourselves and beware of
such men. May our Lord Jesus Christ help you, bless you, and grant you a
peaceful state, and at the same time may the prayer of your humble servant be
with all of you. Amen.
Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848
A Reply to the Epistle of Pope Pius IX, “to the Easterns”
To All the Bishops Everywhere, Beloved in the Holy Ghost, Our Venerable, Most Dear Brethren; and to their Most Pious Clergy; and to All the Genuine Orthodox Sons of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church: Brotherly Salutation in the Holy Spirit, and Every Good From God, and Salvation.
The holy, evangelical and divine Gospel of Salvation should be set forth by all in its original simplicity, and should evermore be believed in its unadulterated purity, even the same as it was revealed to His holy Apostles by our Savior, who for this very cause, descending from the bosom of God the Father, made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant (Phil. ii. 7); even the same, also, as those Apostles, who were ear and eye witnesses, sounded it forth, like clear-toned trumpets, to all that are under the sun (for their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words into the ends of the world); and, last of all, the very same as the many great and glorious Fathers of the Catholic Church in all parts of the earth, who heard those Apostolic voices, both by their synodical and their individual teachings handed it down to all everywhere, and even unto us. But the Prince of Evil, that spiritual enemy of man’s salvation, as formerly in Eden, craftily assuming the pretext of profitable counsel, he made man to become a transgressor of the divinely-spoken command. So in the spiritual Eden, the Church of God, he has from time to time beguiled many; and, mixing the deleterious drugs of heresy with the clear streams of orthodox doctrine, gives of the potion to drink to many of the innocent who live unguardedly, not giving earnest heed to the things they have heard (Heb. ii. 10), and to what they have been told by their fathers (Deut. xxxii. 7), in accordance with the Gospel and in agreement with the ancient Doctors; and who, imagining that the preached and written Word of the LORD and the perpetual witness of His Church are not sufficient for their souls’ salvation, impiously seek out novelties, as we change the fashion of our garments, embracing a counterfeit of the evangelical doctrine.
2. Hence have arisen manifold and monstrous heresies, which the Catholic Church, even from her infancy, taking unto her the whole armor of God, and assuming the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. vi. 13-17), has been compelled to combat. She has triumphed over all unto this day, and she will triumph for ever, being manifested as mightier and more illustrious after each struggle.
3. Of these heresies, some already have entirely failed, some are in decay, some have wasted away, some yet flourish in a greater or less degree vigorous until the time of their return to the Faith, while others are reproduced to run their course from their birth to their destruction. For being the miserable cogitations and devices of miserable men, both one and the other, struck with the thunderbolt of the anathema of the seven Ecumenical Councils, shall vanish away, though they may last a thousand years; for the orthodoxy of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, by the living Word of God, alone endures for ever, according to the infallible promise of the LORD: the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. xviii. 18). Certainly, the mouths of ungodly and heretical men, however bold, however plausible and fair-speaking, however smooth they may be, will not prevail against the orthodox doctrine winning, its way silently and without noise. But, wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? (Jer. xii. 1.) Why are the ungodly exalted and lifted up as the cedars of Lebanon (Ps. xxxvii. 35), to defile the peaceful worship of God? The reason of this is mysterious, and the Church, though daily praying that this cross, this messenger of Satan, may depart from her, ever hears from the Lord: My grace is sufficient for thee, my strength is made perfect in weakness (2. Cor. xii. 9). Wherefore she gladly glories in her infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon her, and that they which are approved may be made manifest (1. Cor. x. 19).
4. Of these heresies diffused, with what sufferings the LORD hath known, over a great part of the world, was formerly Arianism, and at present is the Papacy. This, too, as the former has become extinct, although now flourishing, shall not endure, but pass away and be cast down, and a great voice from heaven shall cry: It is cast down (Rev. xii. 10).
5. The new doctrine, that “the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son,” is contrary to the memorable declaration of our LORD, emphatically made respecting it: which proceedeth from the Father (John xv. 26), and contrary to the universal Confession of the Catholic Church as witnessed by the seven Ecumenical Councils, uttering “which proceedeth from the Father.” (Symbol of Faith).
i. This novel opinion destroys the oneness from the One cause, and the diverse origin of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, both of which are witnessed to in the Gospel.
ii. Even into the divine Hypostases or Persons of the Trinity, of equal power and equally to be adored, it introduces diverse and unequal relations, with a confusion or commingling of them.
iii. It reproaches as imperfect, dark, and difficult to be understood, the previous Confession of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
iv. It censures the holy Fathers of the first Ecumenical Synod of Nicea and of the second Ecumenical Synod at Constantinople, as imperfectly expressing what relates to the Son and Holy Ghost, as if they had been silent respecting the peculiar property of each Person of the Godhead, when it was necessary that all their divine properties should be expressed against the Arians and Macedonians.
v. It reproaches the Fathers of the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh Ecumenical Councils, which had published over the world a divine Creed, perfect and complete, and interdicted under dread anathemas and penalties not removed, all addition, or diminution, or alteration, or variation in the smallest particular of it, by themselves or any whomsoever. Yet was this quickly to be corrected and augmented, and consequently the whole theological doctrine of the Catholic Fathers was to be subjected to change, as if, forsooth, a new property even in regard to the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity had been revealed.
vi. It clandestinely found an entrance at first in the Churches of the West, “a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” that is, under the signification not of procession, according to the Greek meaning in the Gospel and the Creed, but under the signification of mission, as Pope Martin explained it to the Confessor Maximus, and as Anastasius the Librarian explained it to John VIII.
vii. It exhibits incomparable boldness, acting without authority, and forcibly puts a false stamp upon the Creed, which is the common inheritance of Christianity.
viii. It has introduced huge disturbances into the peaceful Church of God, and divided the nations.
ix. It was publicly proscribed, at its first promulgation, by two ever-to-be-remembered Popes, Leo III and John VIII, the latter of whom, in his epistle to the blessed Photius, classes with Judas those who first brought the interpolation into the Creed.
x. It has been condemned by many Holy Councils of the four Patriarchs of the East.
xi. It was subjected to anathema, as a novelty and augmentation of the Creed, by the eighth Ecumenical Council, congregated at Constantinople for the pacification of the Eastern and Western Churches.
xii. As soon as it was introduced into the Churches of the West it brought forth disgraceful fruits, bringing with it, little by little, other novelties, for the most part contrary to the express commands of our Savior in the Gospel—commands which till its entrance into the Churches were closely observed. Among these novelties may be numbered sprinkling instead of baptism, denial of the divine Cup to the Laity, elevation of one and the same bread broken, the use of wafers, unleavened instead of real bread, the disuse of the Benediction in the Liturgies, even of the sacred Invocation of the All-holy and Consecrating Spirit, the abandonment of the old Apostolic Mysteries of the Church, such as not anointing baptized infants, or their not receiving the Eucharist, the exclusion of married men from the Priesthood, the infallibility of the Pope and his claim as Vicar of Christ, and the like. Thus it was that the interpolation led to the setting aside of the old Apostolic pattern of well nigh all the Mysteries and all doctrine, a pattern which the ancient, holy, and orthodox Church of Rome kept, when she was the most honored part of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
xiii. It drove the theologians of the West, as its defenders, since they had no ground either in Scripture or the Fathers to countenance heretical teachings, not only into misrepresentations of the Scriptures, such as are seen in none of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, but also into adulterations of the sacred and pure writings of the Fathers alike of the East and West.
xiv. It seemed strange, unheard of, and blasphemous, even to those reputed Christian communions, which, before its origin, had been for other just causes for ages cut off from the Catholic fold.
xv. It has not yet been even plausibly defended out of the Scriptures, or with the least reason out of the Fathers, from the accusations brought against it, notwithstanding all the zeal and efforts of its supporters. The doctrine bears all the marks of error arising out of its nature and peculiarities. All erroneous doctrine touching the Catholic truth of the Blessed Trinity, and the origin of the divine Persons, and the subsistence of the Holy Ghost, is and is called heresy, and they who so hold are deemed heretics, according to the sentence of St. Damasus, Pope of Rome, who says: “If any one rightly holds concerning the Father and the Son, yet holds not rightly of the Holy Ghost, he is an heretic” (Cath. Conf. of Faith which Pope Damasus sent to Paulinus, Bishop of Thessalonica). Wherefore the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, following in the steps of the holy Fathers, both Eastern and Western, proclaimed of old to our progenitors and again teaches today synodically, that the said novel doctrine of the Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son is essentially heresy, and its maintainers, whoever they be, are heretics, according to the sentence of Pope St. Damasus, and that the congregations of such are also heretical, and that all spiritual communion in worship of the orthodox sons of the Catholic Church with such is unlawful. Such is the force of the seventh Canon of the third Ecumenical Council.
6. This heresy, which has united to itself many innovations, as has been said, appeared about the middle of the seventh century, at first and secretly, and then under various disguises, over the Western Provinces of Europe, until by degrees, creeping along for four or five centuries, it obtained precedence over the ancient orthodoxy of those parts, through the heedlessness of Pastors and the countenance of Princes. Little by little it overspread not only the hitherto orthodox Churches of Spain, but also the German, and French, and Italian Churches, whose orthodoxy at one time was sounded throughout the world, with whom our divine Fathers such as the great Athanasius and heavenly Basil conferred, and whose sympathy and fellowship with us until the seventh Ecumenical Council, preserved unharmed the doctrine of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. But in process of time, by envy of the devil, the novelties respecting the sound and orthodox doctrine of the Holy Ghost, the blasphemy of whom shall not be forgiven unto men either in this world or the next, according to the saying of our Lord (Matt. xii. 32), and others that succeeded respecting the divine Mysteries, particularly that of the world-saving Baptism, and the Holy Communion, and the Priesthood, like prodigious births, overspread even Old Rome; and thus sprung, by assumption of special distinctions in the Church as a badge and title, the Papacy. Some of the Bishops of that City, styled Popes, for example Leo III and John VIII, did indeed, as has been said, denounce the innovation, and published the denunciation to the world, the former by those silver plates, the latter by his letter to the holy Photius at the eighth Ecumenical Council, and another to Sphendopulcrus, by the hands of Methodius, Bishop of Moravia. The greater part, however, of their successors, the Popes of Rome, enticed by the antisynodical privileges offered them for the oppression of the Churches of God, and finding in them much worldly advantage, and “much gain,” and conceiving a Monarchy in the Catholic Church and a monopoly of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, changed the ancient worship at will, separating themselves by novelties from the old received Christian Polity. Nor did they cease their endeavors, by lawless projects (as veritable history assures us), to entice the other four Patriarchates into their apostasy from Orthodoxy, and so subject the Catholic Church to the whims and ordinances of men.
7. Our illustrious predecessors and fathers, with united labor and counsel, seeing the evangelical doctrine received from the Fathers to be trodden under foot, and the robe of our Savior woven from above to be torn by wicked hands, and stimulated by fatherly and brotherly love, wept for the desolation of so many Christians for whom Christ died. They exercised much zeal and ardor, both synodically and individually, in order that the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church being saved, they might knit together as far as they were able that which had been rent; and like approved physicians they consulted together for the safety of the suffering member, enduring many tribulations, and contempts, and persecutions, if haply the Body of Christ might not be divided, or the definitions of the divine and august Synods be made of none effect. But veracious history has transmitted to us the relentlessness of the Western perseverance in error. These illustrious men proved indeed on this point the truth of the words of our holy father Basil the sublime, when he said, from experience, concerning the Bishops of the West, and particularly of the Pope: “They neither know the truth nor endure to learn it, striving against those who tell them the truth, and strengthening themselves in their heresy” (to Eusebius of Samosata). Thus, after a first and second brotherly admonition, knowing their impenitence, shaking them off and avoiding them, they gave them over to their reprobate mind. “War is better than peace, apart from God,” as said our holy father Gregory, concerning the Arians. From that time there has been no spiritual communion between us and them; for they have with their own hands dug deep the chasm between themselves and Orthodoxy.
8. Yet the Papacy has not on this account ceased to annoy the peaceful Church of God, but sending out everywhere so-called missionaries, men of reprobate minds, it compasses land and sea to make one proselyte, to deceive one of the Orthodox, to corrupt the doctrine of our LORD, to adulterate, by addition, the divine Creed of our holy Faith, to prove the Baptism which God gave us superfluous, the communion of the Cup void of sacred efficacy, and a thousand other things which the demon of novelty dictated to the all-daring Schoolmen of the Middle Ages and to the Bishops of the elder Rome, venturing all things through lust of power. Our blessed predecessors and fathers, in their piety, though tried and persecuted in many ways and means, within and without, directly and indirectly, “yet confident in the LORD,” were able to save and transmit to us this inestimable inheritance of our fathers, which we too, by the help of God, will transmit as a rich treasure to the generations to come, even to the end of the world. But notwithstanding this, the Papists do not cease to this day, nor will cease, according to wont, to attack Orthodoxy,—a daily living reproach which they have before their eyes, being deserters from the faith of their fathers. Would that they made these aggressions against the heresy which has overspread and mastered the West. For who doubts that had their zeal for the overthrow of Orthodoxy been employed for the overthrow of heresy and novelties, agreeable to the God-loving counsels of Leo III and John VIII, those glorious and last Orthodox Popes, not a trace of it, long ago, would have been remembered under the sun, and we should now be saying the same things, according to the Apostolic promise. But the zeal of those who succeeded them was not for the protection of the Orthodox Faith, in conformity with the zeal worthy of all remembrance which was in Leo III., now among the blessed.
9. In a measure the aggressions of the later Popes in their own persons had ceased, and were carried on only by means of missionaries. But lately, Pius IX., becoming Bishop of Rome and proclaimed Pope in 1847, published on the sixth of January, in this present year, an Encyclical Letter addressed to the Easterns, consisting of twelve pages in the Greek version, which his emissary has disseminated, like a plague coming from without, within our Orthodox Fold. In this Encyclical, he addresses those who at different times have gone over from different Christian Communions, and embraced the Papacy, and of course are favorable to him, extending his arguments also to the Orthodox, either particularly or without naming them; and, citing our divine and holy Fathers (p. 3, 1.14-18; p. 4, 1.19; p. 9, 1.6; and pp. 17, 23), he manifestly calumniates them and us their successors and descendants: them, as if they admitted readily the Papal commands and rescripts without question because issuing from the Popes is undoubted arbiters of the Catholic Church; us, as unfaithful to their examples (for thus he trespasses on the Fold committed to us by God), as severed from our Fathers, as careless of our sacred trusts, and of the soul’s salvation of our spiritual children. Usurping as his own possession the Catholic Church of Christ, by occupancy, as he boasts, of the Episcopal Throne of St. Peter, he desires to deceive the more simple into apostasy from Orthodoxy, choosing for the basis of all theological instruction these paradoxical words (p. 10, 1.29): “nor is there any reason why ye refuse a return to the true Church and Communion with this my holy Throne.”
10. Each one of our brethren and sons in Christ who have been piously brought up and instructed, wisely regarding the wisdom given him from God, will decide that the words of the present Bishop of Rome, like those of his schismatical predecessors, are not words of peace, as he affirms (p. 7,1.8), and of benevolence, but words of deceit and guile, tending to self-aggrandizement, agreeably to the practice of his antisynodical predecessors. We are therefore sure, that even as heretofore, so hereafter the Orthodox will not be beguiled. For the word of our LORD is sure (John x. 5), A stranger will they not follow, but flee from him, for they know not the voice of strangers.
11. For all this we have esteemed it our paternal and brotherly need, and a sacred duty, by our present admonition to confirm you in the Orthodoxy you hold from your forefathers, and at the same time point out the emptiness of the syllogisms of the Bishop of Rome, of which he is manifestly himself aware. For not from his Apostolic Confession does he glorify his Throne, but from his Apostolic Throne seeks to establish his dignity, and from his dignity, his Confession. The truth is the other way. The Throne of Rome is esteemed that of St. Peter by a single tradition, but not from Holy Scripture, where the claim is in favor of Antioch, whose Church is therefore witnessed by the great Basil (Ep. 48 Athan.) to be “the most venerable of all the Churches in the world.” Still more, the second Ecumenical Council, writing to a Council of the West (to the most honorable and religious brethren and fellow-servants, Damasus, Ambrose, Britto, Valerian, and others), witnesseth, saying: “The oldest and truly Apostolic Church of Antioch, in Syria, where first the honored name of Christians was used.” We say then that the Apostolic Church of Antioch had no right of exemption from being judged according to divine Scripture and synodical declarations, though truly venerated for the throne of St. Peter. But what do we say? The blessed Peter, even in his own person, was judged before all for the truth of the Gospel, and, as Scripture declares, was found blamable and not walking uprightly. What opinion is to be formed of those who glory and pride themselves solely in the possession of his Throne, so great in their eyes? Nay, the sublime Basil the great, the Ecumenical teacher of Orthodoxy in the Catholic Church, to whom the Bishops of Rome are obliged to refer us (p. 8, 1.31), has clearly and explicitly above ( 7) shown us what estimation we ought to have of the judgments of the inaccessible Vatican:—”They neither,” he says, “know the truth, nor endure to learn it, striving against those who tell them the truth, and strengthening themselves in their heresy.” So that these our holy Fathers whom his Holiness the Pope, worthily admiring as lights and teachers even of the West, accounts as belonging to us, and advises us (p. 8) to follow, teach us not to judge Orthodoxy from the holy Throne, but the Throne itself and him that is on the Throne by the sacred Scriptures, by Synodical decrees and limitations, and by the Faith which has been preached, even the Orthodoxy of continuous teaching. Thus did our Fathers judge and condemn Honorius, Pope of Rome, and Dioscorus, Pope of Alexandria, and Macedonius and Nestorius, Patriarchs of Constantinople, and Peter Gnapheus, Patriarch of Antioch, with others. For if the abomination of desolation stood in the Holy Place, why not innovation and heresy upon a holy Throne? Hence is exhibited in a brief compass the weakness and feebleness of the efforts in behalf of the despotism of the Pope of Rome. For, unless the Church of Christ was founded upon the immovable rock of St. Peter’s Confession, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God (which was the answer of the Apostles in common, when the question was put to them, Whom say ye that I am? (Matt. xvi. 15,) as the Fathers, both Eastern and Western, interpret the passage to us), the Church was built upon a slippery foundation, even on Cephas himself, not to say on the Pope, who, after monopolizing the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, has made such an administration of them as is plain from history. But our divine Fathers, with one accord, teach that the sense of the thrice-repeated command, Feed my sheep, implied no prerogative in St. Peter over the other Apostles, least of all in his successors. It was a simple restoration to his Apostleship, from which he had fallen by his thrice-repeated denial. St. Peter himself appears to have understood the intention of the thrice-repeated question of our Lord: Lovest thou Me, and more, and than these?. (John xxi. 16;) for, calling to mind the words, Thou all shall be offended because of Thee, yet will 1 never be offended (Matt. xxvi. 33), he was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? But his successors, from self-interest, understand the expression as indicative of St. Peter’s more ready mind.
12. His Holiness the Pope says (p. viii. 1.12.) that our LORD said to Peter (Luke xxii. 32), I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. Our LORD so prayed because Satan had sought to overthrow the faith of all the disciples, but the LORD allowed him Peter only, chiefly because he had uttered words of boasting, and justified himself above the rest (Matt. xxvi. 33): Though all shall be offended, because of thee, yet will I never be offended. The permission to Satan was but temporary. He began to curse and to swear: I know not the man. So weak is human nature, left to itself. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. It was but temporary, that, coming again to himself by his return in tears of repentance, he might the rather strengthen his brethren who had neither perjured themselves nor denied. Oh! the wise judgment of the LORD! How divine and mysterious was the last night of our Savior upon earth! That sacred Supper is believed to be consecrated to this day in every Church: This do in remembrance of me (Luke xxii. 19), and As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the LORD’s death till he come (1 Cor. xi. 26). Of the brotherly love thus earnest1y commended to us by the common Master, saying, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciple, if ye have love one to another (John xiii. 35), have the Popes first broken the stamp and seal, supporting and receiving heretical novelties, contrary to the things delivered to us and canonically confirmed by our Teachers and Fathers in common. This love acts at this day with power in the souls of Christian people, and particularly in their leaders. We boldly avow before God and men, that the prayer of our Savior (p. ix. l.43) to God and His Father for the common love and unity of Christians in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, in which we believe, that they may be one, ever as we are one (John xvii. 22), worketh in us no less than in his Holiness. Our brotherly love and zeal meet that of his Holiness, with only this difference, that in us it worketh for the covenanted preservation of the pure, undefiled, divine, spotless, and perfect Creed of the Christian Faith, in conformity to the voice of the Gospel and the decrees of the seven holy Ecumenical Synods and the teachings of the ever-existing Catholic Church: but worketh in his Holiness to prop and strengthen the authority and dignity of them that sit on the Apostolic Throne, and their new doctrine. Behold then, the head and front, so to speak, of all the differences and disagreements that have happened between us and them, and the middle wall of partition, which we hope will be taken away in the time of is Holiness, and by the aid of his renowned wisdom, according to the promise of God (St. John x. 16): “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also 1 must bring and they shall hear my voice (Who proceedeth from the Father “). Let it be said then, in the third place, that if it be supposed, according to the words of his Holiness, that this prayer of our LORD for Peter when about to deny and perjure himself, remained attached and united to the Throne of Peter, and is transmitted with power to those who from time to time sit upon it, although, as has before been said, nothing contributes to confirm the opinion (as we are strikingly assured from the example of the blessed Peter himself, even after the descent of the Holy Ghost, yet are we convinced from the words of our LORD, that the time will come when that divine prayer concerning the denial of Peter, “that his faith might not fail for ever” will operate also in some one of the successors of his Throne, who will also weep, as he did, bitterly, and being sometime converted will strengthen us, his brethren, still more in the Orthodox Confession, which we hold from our forefathers;—and would that his Holiness might be this true successor of the blessed Peter! To this our humble prayer, what hinders that we should add our sincere and hearty Counsel in the name of the Holy Catholic Church? We dare not say, as does his Holiness (p. x. 1.22), that it should be done “without any delay;” but without haste, utter mature consideration, and also, if need be, after consultation with the more wise, religious, truth-loving, and prudent of the Bishops, Theologians, and Doctors, to be found at the present day, by God’s good Providence, in every nation of the West.
13. His Holiness says that the Bishop of Lyons, St. Irenaeus, writes in praise of the Church of Rome: “That the whole Church, namely, the faithful from everywhere, must come together in that Church, because of its Primacy, in which Church the tradition, given by the Apostles, has in all respects been observed by the faithful everywhere.” Although this saint says by no means what the followers of the Vatican would make out, yet even granting their interpretation, we reply: Who denies that the ancient Roman Church was Apostolic and Orthodox? None of us will question that it was a model of orthodoxy. We will specially add, for its greater praise, from the historian Sozomen (Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. cap. 12), the passage, which his Holiness has overlooked, respecting the mode by which for a time she was enabled to preserve the orthodoxy which we praise:—”For, as everywhere,” saith Sozomen, “the Church throughout the West, being guided purely by the doctrines of the Fathers, was delivered from contention and deception concerning these things.” Would any of the Fathers or ourselves deny her canonical privilege in the rank of the hierarchy, so long as she was guided purely by the doctrines of the Fathers, walking by the plain rule of Scripture and the holy Synods! But at present we do not find preserved in her the dogma of the Blessed Trinity according to the Creed of the holy Fathers assembled first in Nicea and afterwards in Constantinople, which the other five Ecumenical Councils confessed and confirmed with such anathemas on those who adulterated it in the smallest particular, as if they had thereby destroyed it. Nor do we find the Apostolical pattern of holy Baptism, nor the Invocation of the consecrating Spirit upon the holy elements: but we see in that Church the eucharistic Cup, heavenly drink, considered superfluous, (what profanity!) and very many other things, unknown not only to our holy Fathers, who were always entitled the catholic, clear rule and index of Orthodoxy, as his Holiness, revering the truth, himself teaches (p. vi), but also unknown to the ancient holy Fathers of the West. We see that very primacy, for which his Holiness now contends with all his might, as did his predecessors, transformed from a brotherly character and hierarchical privilege into a lordly superiority. What then is to be thought of his unwritten traditions, if the written have undergone such a change and alteration for the worse ? Who is so bold and confident in the dignity of the Apostolic Throne, as to dare to say that if our holy Father, Sr. Irenaeus, were alive again, seeing it was fallen from the ancient and primitive teaching in so many most essential and catholic articles of Christianity, he would not be himself the first to oppose the novelties and self-sufficient constitutions of that Church which was lauded by him asguided purely by the doctrines of the Fathers? For instance, when he saw the Roman Church not only rejecting from her Liturgical Canon, according to the suggestion of the Schoolmen, the very ancient and Apostolic invocation of the Consecrating Spirit, and miserably mutilating the Sacrifice in its most essential part, but also urgently hastening to cut it out from the Liturgies of other Christian Communions also,—his Holiness slanderously asserting, in a manner so unworthy of the Apostolic Throne on which he boasts himself, that it “crept in after t.he division between the East and West” (p. xi. 1.11)—what would not the holy Father say respecting this novelty ? Irenaeus assures us (lib. iv. c. 34) “that bread, from the ground, receiving the evocation of God, is no longer common bread,” etc., meaning by “evocation” invocation: for that Irenaeus believed the Mystery of the Sacrifice to be consecrated by means of this invocation is especially remarked even by Franciscus Feu-Ardentius, of the order of popish monks called Minorites, who in 1639 edited the writings of that saint with comments, who says (lib. i. c. 18, p. 114,) that Irenaeus teaches “that the bread and mixed cup become the true Body and Blood of Christ by the words of invocation.” Or, hearing of the vicarial and appellate jurisdiction of the Pope, what would not the Saint say, who, for a small and almost indifferent question concerning the celebration of Easter (Euseb. Eccl. Hist. v. 26), so boldly and victoriously opposed and defeated the violence of Pope Victor in the free Church of Christ? Thus he who is cited by his Holiness as a witness of the primacy of the Roman Church, shows that its dignity is not that of a lordship, nor even appellate, to which St. Peter himself was never ordained, but is a brotherly privilege in the Catholic Church, and an honor assigned the Popes on account of the greatness and privilege of the City. Thus, also, the fourth Ecumenical Council, for the preservation of the gradation in rank of Churches canonically established by the third Ecumenical Council (Canon 8),—following the second (Canon 3), as that again followed the first (Canon 6), which called the appellate jurisdiction of the Pope over the West a Custom,—thus uttered its determination: “On account of that City being the Imperial City, the Fathers have with reason given it prerogatives” (Canon 28). Here is nothing said of the Pope’s special monopoly of the Apostolicity of St. Peter, still less of a vicarship in Rome’s Bishops, and an universal Pastorate. This deep silence in regard to such great privileges—nor only so, but the reason assigned for the primacy, not “Feed my sheep,” not “On this rock will I build my Church,” but simply old Custom, and the City being the Imperial City; and these things, not from the LORD, but from the Fathers—will seem, we are sure, a great paradox to his Holiness entertaining other ideas of his prerogatives. The paradox will be the greater, since, as we shall see, he greatly honors the said fourth Ecumenical Synod as one to be found a witness for his Throne; and St. Gregory, the eloquent, called the Great (lib. i. Ep. 25), was wont to speak of the four (Ecumenical Councils [not the Roman See] as the four Gospels, and the four-sided stone on which the Catholic Church is built.
14. His Holiness says (p. ix. 1.12) that the Corinthians, divided among themselves, referred the matter to Clement, Pope of Rome, who wrote to them his decision on the case; and they so prized his decision that they read it in the Churches. But this event is a very weak support for the Papal authority in the house of God. For Rome being then the center of the Imperial Province and the chief City, in which the Emperors lived, it was proper that any question of importance, as history shows that of the Corinthians to have been, should be decided there, especially if one of the contending parties ran thither for external aid: as is done even to this day. The Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, when unexpected points of difficulty arise, write to the Patriarch of Constantinople, because of its being the seat of Empire, as also on account of its synodical privileges; and if this brotherly aid shall rectify that which should be rectified, it is well; but if not, the matter is reported to the province, according to the established system. But this brotherly agreement in Christian faith is not purchased by the servitude of the Churches of God. Let this be our answer also to the examples of a fraternal and proper championship of the privileges of Julius and Innocent Bishops of Rome, by St. Athanasius the Great and St. John Chrysostom, referred to by his Holiness (p. ix. 1. 6,17), for which their successors now seek to recompense us by adulterating the divine Creed. Yet was Julius himself indignant against some for ” disturbing the Churches by not maintaining the doctrines of Nice” (Soz. Hist. Ec. lib. iii. c. 7), and threatening (id.) excommunication, “if they ceased not their innovations.” In the case of the Corinthians, moreover, it is to be remarked that the Patriarchal Thrones being then but three, Rome was the nearer and more accessible to the Corinthians, to which, therefore, it was proper to have resort. In all this we see nothing extraordinary, nor any proof of the despotic power of the Pope in the free Church of God.
15. But, finally, his Holiness says (p. ix. l.12) that the fourth Ecumenical Council (which by mistake he quite transfers from Chalcedon to Carthage), when it read the epistle of Pope Leo I, cried out, “Peter has thus spoken by Leo.” It was so indeed. But his Holiness ought not to overlook how, and after what examination, our fathers cried out, as they did, in praise of Leo. Since however his Holiness, consulting brevity, appears to have omitted this most necessary point, and the manifest proof that an Ecumenical Council is not only above the Pope but above any Council of his, we will explain to the public the matter as it really happened. Of more than six hundred fathers assembled in the Counci1 of Chalcedon, about two hundred of the wisest were appointed by the Council to examine both as to language and sense the said epistle of Leo; nor only so, but to give in writing and with their signatures their own judgment upon it, whether it were orthodox or not. These, about two hundred judgments and resolution on the epistle, as chiefly found in the Fourth Session of the said holy Council in such terms as the following:—”Maximus of Antioch in Syria said: ‘The epistle of the holy Leo, Archbishop of Imperial Rome, agrees with the decisions of the three hundred and eighteen holy fathers at Nice, and the hundred and fifty at Constantinople, which is new Rome, and with the faith expounded at Ephesus by the most holy Bishop Cyril: and I have subscribed it.”
“Theodoret,the most religious Bishop of Cyrus: ‘The epistle of the most holy Archbishop, the lord Leo, agrees with the faith established at Nice by the holy and blessed fathers, and with the symbol of faith expounded at Constantinople by the hundred and fifty, and with the epistles of the blessed Cyril. And accepting it, I have subscribed the said epistle.”‘
And thus all in succession: “The epistle corresponds,” “the epistle is consonant,”the epistle agrees in sense,” and the like. After such great and very severe scrutiny in comparing it with former holy Councils, and a full conviction of the correctness of the meaning, and not merely because it was the epistle of the Pope, they cried aloud, ungrudgingly, the exclamation on which his Holiness now vaunts himself: But if his Holiness had sent us statements concordant and in unison with the seven holy Ecumenical Councils, instead of boasting of the piety of his predecessors lauded by our predecessors and fathers in an Ecumenical Council, he might justly have gloried in his own orthodoxy, declaring his own goodness instead of that of his fathers. Therefore let his Holiness be assured, that if, even now, he will write us such things as two hundred fathers on investigation and inquiry shall find consonant and agreeing with the said former Councils, then, we say, he shall hear from us sinners today, not only, “Peter has so spoken,” or anything of like honor, but this also, “Let the holy hand be kissed which has wiped away the tears of the Catholic Church.”
16. And surely we have a right to expect from the prudent forethought of his Holiness, a work so worthy the true successor of St. Peter, of Leo I, and also of Leo III, who for security of the orthodox faith engraved the divine Creed unaltered upon imperishable plates—a work which will unite the churches of the West to the holy Catholic Church, in which the canonical chief seat of his Holiness, and the seats of all the Bishops of the West remain empty and ready to be occupied. For the Catholic Church, awaiting the conversion of the shepherds who have fallen off from her with their flocks, does not separate in name only, those who have been privily introduced to the rulership by the action of others, thus making little of the Priesthood. But we are expecting the “word of consolation,” and hope that he, as wrote St. Basil to St.Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (Epis. b6), will “tread again the ancient footprints of the fathers.” Not without great astonishment have we read the said Encyclical letter to the Easterns, in which we see with deep grief of soul his Holiness, famed for prudence, speaking like his predecessors in schism, words that urge upon us the adulteration of our pure holy Creed, on which the Ecumenical Councils have set their seal; and doing violence to the sacred Liturgies, whose heavenly structure alone, and the names of those who framed them, and their tone of reverend antiquity, and the stamp that was placed upon them by the Seventh Ecumenical Synod (Act vi.), should have paralyzed him, and made him to turn aside the sacrilegious and all-daring hand that has thus smitten the King of Glory. From these things we estimate into what an unspeakable labyrinth of wrong and incorrigible sin of revolution the papacy has thrown even the wiser and more godly Bishops of the Roman Church, so that, in order to preserve the innocent, and therefore valued vicarial dignity, as well as the despotic primacy and the things depending upon it, they know no other means shall to insult the most divine and sacred things, daring everything for that one end. Clothing themselves, in words, with pious reverence for “the most venerable antiquity” (p. xi. 1.16), in reality there remains, within, the innovating temper; and yet his Holiness really hears hard upon himself when he says that we “must cast from us everything that has crept in among us since the Separation,” (!) while he and his have spread the poison of their innovation even into the Supper of our LORD. His Holiness evidently takes it for granted that in the Orthodox Church the same thing has happened which he is conscious has happened in the Church of Rome since the rise of the Papacy: to wit, a sweeping change in all the Mysteries, and corruption from scholastic subtleties, a reliance on which must suffice as an equivalent for our sacred Liturgies and Mysteries and doctrines: yet all the while, forsooth, reverencing our “venerable antiquity,” and all this by a condescension entirely Apostolic!—”without,” as he says, “troubling us by any harsh conditions”! From such ignorance of the Apostolic and Catholic food on which we live emanates another sententious declaration of his (p. vii. 1. 22): “It is not possible that unity of doctrine and sacred observance should be preserved among you,” paradoxically ascribing to us the very misfortune from which he suffers at home; just as Pope Leo IX wrote to the blessed Michael Cerularius, accusing the Greeks of changing the Creed of the Catholic Church, without blushing either for his own honor or for the truth of history. We are persuaded that if his Holiness will call to mind ecclesiastical archaeology and history, the doctrine of the holy Fathers and the old Liturgies of France and Spain, and the Sacramentary of the ancient Roman Church, he will be struck with surprise on finding how many other monstrous daughters, now living, the Papacy has brought forth in the West: while Orthodoxy, with us, has preserved the Catholic Church as an incorruptible bride for her Bridegroom, although we have no temporal power, nor, as his Holiness says, any sacred “observances,” but by the sole tie of love and affection to a common Mother are bound together in the unity of a faith sealed with the seven seals of the Spirit (Rev. v. 1), and by the seven Ecumenical Councils, and in obedience to the Truth. He will find, also, flow many modern papistical doctrines and mysteries must be rejected as “commandments of men” in order that the Church of the West, which has introduced all sorts of novelties, may be changed back again to the immutable Catholic Orthodox faith of our common fathers. As his Holiness recognizes our common zeal in this faith, when he says (p. viii. l.30), “let us take heed to the doctrine preserved by our forefathers,” so he does well in instructing us (l. 31) to follow the old pontiffs and the faithful of the Eastern Metropolitans. What these thought of the doctrinal fidelity of the Archbishops of the elder Rome, and what idea we ought to have of them in the Orthodox Church, and in what manner we ought to receive their teachings, they have synodically given us an example ( 15), and the sublime Basil has well interpreted it ( 7). As to the supremacy, since we are not setting forth a treatise, let the same great Basil present the matter in a f’ew words, “I preferred to address myself to Him who is Head over them.”
17. From all this, every one nourished in sound Catholic doctrine, particularly his Holiness, must draw the conclusion, how impious and anti-synodical it is to attempt the alteration of our doctrine and liturgies and other divine offices which are, and are proved to be, coeval with the preaching of Christianity: for which reason reverence was always bestowed on then, and they were confided in as pure even by the old orthodox Popes themselves, to whom these things were an inheritance in common with ourselves. How becoming and holy would be the mending of the innovations, the time of whose entrance in the Church of Rome we know in each case; for our illustrious fathers have testified from time to time against each novelty. But there are other reasons which should incline his Holiness to this change. First, because those things that are ours were once venerable to the Westerns, as having the same divine Offices and confessing the same Creed; but the novelties were not known to our Fathers, nor could they be shown in the writings of the orthodox Western Fathers, nor as having their origin either in antiquity or catholicity. Moreover, neither Patriarchs nor Councils could then have introduced novelties amongst us, because the protector of religion is the very body of the Church, even the people themselves, who desire their religious worship to be ever unchanged and of the same kind as that of their fathers: for as, after the Schism, many of the Popes and Latinizing Patriarchs made attempts that came to nothing even in the Western Church; and as, from time to time, either by fair means or foul, the Popes have commanded novelties for the sake of expediency (as they have explained to our f’athers, although they were thus dismembering the Body of Christ): so now again the Pope, for the sake of a truly divine and most just expediency, forsooth (not mending the nets, but himself rending the garment of the Savior), dare to oppose the venerable things of antiquity,—things well fitted to preserve religion, as his Holiness confesses (p. xi. l.16), and which he himself honors, as he says (lb. 1.16), together with his predecessors, for he repeats that memorable expression o one of those blessed predecessors (Celestine, writing to the third Ecumenical Council):“Let novelty cease to attack antiquity.” And let the Catholic Church enjoy this benefit from this so far blameless declaration of the Popes. It must by all means be confessed, that in such his attempt, even though Pius IX be eminent for wisdom and piety, and, as he says, for zeal after Christian unity in the Catholic Church, he will meet, within and without, with difficulties and toils. And here we must put his Holiness in mind, if he will excuse our boldness, of that portion of his letter (p. viii. L.32), “That in things which relate to the confession of our divine religion, nothing is to be feared, when we look to the glory of Christ, and the reward which awaits us in eternal life.” It is incumbent on his Holiness to show before God and man, that, as prime mover of the counsel which pleases God, so is he a willing protector of the ill-treated evangelical and synodical truth, even to the sacrifice of his own interests, according to the Prophet (Is. lx. 17), A ruler in peace and a bishop in righteousness. Sobe it! But until there be this desired returning of the apostate Churches to the body of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, of whichChrist is the Head (Eph. iv. 15), and each of us “members in particular,” all advice proceeding from them, and every officious exhortation tending to the dissolution of our pure faith handed down from the Fathers is condemned, as it ought to be, synodically, not only as suspicious and to be eschewed, but as impious and soul-destroying: and in this category, among the first we place the said Encyclical to the Easterns from Pope Pius IX, Bishop of the elder Rome; and such we proclaim it to be in the Catholic Church.
18. Wherefore, beloved brethren and fellow-ministers of our mediocrity, as always, so also now, particularly on this occasion of the publication of the said Encyclical, we hold it to be our inexorable duty, in accordance with our patriarchal and synodical responsibility, in order that none may be lost to the divine fold of the Catholic Orthodox Church, the most holy Mother of us all, to encourage each other, and to urge you that, reminding one another of the words and exhortations of St. Paul to our holy predecessors when he summoned them to Ephesus, we reiterate to each other: take heed, therefore, unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own Blood. For know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore,watch. (Acts xx.28-31.) Then our predecessors and Fathers, hearing this divine charge, wept sore, and falling upon his neck, kissed him. Come, then, and let us, brethren, hearing him admonishing us with tears, fall in spirit, lamenting, upon his neck, and, kissing him, comfort him by our own firm assurance, that no one shall separate us from the love of Christ, no one mislead us from evangelical doctrine, no one entice us from the safe path of our fathers, as none was able to deceive them, by any degree of zeal which they manifested, who from time to time were raised up for this purpose by the tempter: so that at last we shall hear from the Master: Well done, good and faithful servant, receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls, and of the reasonable flock over whom the Holy Ghost has made us shepherds.
19. This Apostolic charge and exhortation we have quoted for your sake, and address it to all the Orthodox congregation, wherever they be found settled on the earth, to the Priests and Abbots, to the Deacons and Monks, in a word, to all the Clergy and godly People, the rulers and the ruled, the rich and the poor, to parents and children, to teachers and scholars, to the educated and uneducated, to masters and servants, that we all, supporting and counseling each other, may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For thus St. Peter the Apostle exhorts us (1 Pet.): Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist, steadfast in the faith.
20. For our faith, brethren, is not of men nor by man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ, which the divine Apostles preached, the holy Ecumenical Councils confirmed, the greatest and wisest teachers of the world handed down in succession, and the shed blood of the holy martyrs ratified. Let us hold fast to the confession which we have received unadulterated from such men, turning away from every novelty as a suggestion of the devil. He that accepts a novelty reproaches with deficiency the preached Orthodox Faith. But that Faith has long ago been sealed in completeness, not to admit of diminution or increase, or any change whatever; and he who dares to do, or advise, or think of such a thing has already denied the faith of Christ, has already of his own accord been struck with an eternal anathema, for blaspheming the Holy Ghost as not having spoken fully in the Scriptures and through the Ecumenical Councils. This fearful anathema, brethren and sons beloved in Christ, we do not pronounce today, but our Savior first pronounced it (Matt. xii. 32): Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. St. Paul pronounced the same anathema (Gal. i. 6): I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another Gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. This same anathema the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the whole choir of God-serving fathers pronounced. All, therefore, innovating, either by heresy or schism, have voluntarily clothed themselves, according to the Psalm (cix. 18), (“with a curse as with a garment,”)whether they be Popes, or Patriarchs, or Clergy, or Laity; nay, if any one, though an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Thus our wise fathers, obedient to the soul-saving words of St. Paul, were established firm and steadfast in the faith handed down unbrokenly to them, and preserved it unchanged and uncontaminate in the midst of so many heresies, and have delivered it to us pure and undefiled, as it came pure from the mouth of the first servants of the Word. Let us, too, thus wise, transmit it, pure as we have received it, to coming generations, altering nothing, that they may be, as we are, full of confidence, and with nothing to be ashamed of when speaking of the faith of their forefathers.
21. Therefore, brethren, and sons beloved in the LORD, having purified your souls in obeying the truth (1 Pet. i. 22), let us give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. (Heb. ii. 1.) The faith and confession we have received is not one to be ashamed of, being taught in the Gospel from the mouth of our LORD, witnessed by the holy Apostles, by the seven sacred Ecumenical Councils, preached throughout the world, witnessed to by its very enemies, who, before they apostatized from orthodoxy to heresies, themselves held this same faith, or at least their fathers and fathers’ fathers thus held it. It is witnessed to by continuous history, as triumphing over all the heresies which have persecuted or now persecute it, as ye see even to this day. The succession of our holy divine fathers and predecessors beginning from the Apostles, and those whom the Apostles appointed their successors, to this day, forming one unbroken chain, and joining hand to hand, keep fast the sacred inclosure of which the door is Christ, in which all the orthodox Flock is fed in the fertile pastures of the mystical Eden, and not in the pathless and rugged wilderness, as his Holiness supposes (p. 7.1.12). Our Church holds the infallible and genuine deposit of the Holy Scriptures, of the Old Testament a true and perfect version, of the New the divine original itself. The rites of the sacred Mysteries, and especially those of the divine Liturgy, are the same glorious and heartquickening rites, handed down from the Apostles. No nation, no Christian communion, can boast of such Liturgies as those of James, Basil, Chrysostom. The august Ecumenical Councils, those seven pillars of the house of Wisdom, were organized in it and among us. This, our Church, holds the originals of their sacred definitions. The Chief Pastors in it, and the honorable Presbytery, and the monastic Order, preserve the primitive and pure dignity of the first ages of Christianity, in opinions, in polity, and even in the simplicity of their vestments. Yes! verily, “grievous wolves” have constantly attacked this holy fold, and are attacking it now, as we see for ourselves, according to the prediction of the Apostle, which shows that the true lambs of the great Shepherd are folded in it; but that Church has sung and shall sing forever: ” They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them (Ps. cxviii. l1). Let us add one reflection, a painful one indeed, but useful in order to manifest and confirm the truth of our words:—All Christian nations whatsoever that are today seen calling upon the Name of Christ (not excepting either the West generally, or Rome herself, as we prove by the catalogue of her earliest Popes), were taught the true faith in Christ by our holy predecessors and fathers; and yet afterwards deceitful men, many of whom were shepherds, and chief shepherds too, of those nations, by wretched sophistries and heretical opinions dared to defile, alas! the orthodoxy of those nations, as veracious history informs us, and as St. Paul predicted.
22. Therefore, brethren, and ye our spiritual children, we acknowledge how great the favor and grace which God has bestowed upon our Orthodox Faith, and on His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, which, like a mother who is unsuspected of her husband, nourishes us as children of whom she is not ashamed, and who are excusable in our high-toned boldness concerning the hope that is in us. But what shall we sinners render to the LORD for all that He hath bestowed upon us? Our bounteous LORD and God, who hath redeemed us by his own Blood, requires nothing else of us but the devotion of our whole soul and heart to the blameless, holy faith of our fathers, and love and affection to the Orthodox Church, which has regenerated us not with a novel sprinkling, but with the divine washing of Apostolic Baptism. She it is that nourishes us, according to the eternal covenant of our Savior, with His own precious Body, and abundantly, as a true Mother, gives us to drink of that precious Blood poured out for us and for the salvation of the world. Let us then encompass her in spirit, as the young their parent bird, wherever on earth we find ourselves, in the north or south, or east, or west. Let us fix our our eyes and thoughts upon her divine countenance and her most glorious beauty. Let us take hold with both our hands on her shining robe which the Bridegroom, “altogether lovely,” has with His own undefiled hands thrown around her, when He redeemed her from the bondage of error, and adorned her as an eternal Bride for Himself. Let us feel in our own souls the mutual grief of the children-loving mother and the mother-loving children, when it is seen that men of wolfish minds and making gain of souls are zealous in plotting how they may lead her captive, or tear the lambs from their mothers. Let us, Clergy as well as Laity, cherish this feeling most intensely now, when the unseen adversary of our salvation, combining his fraudful arts (p. xi. 1. 2-25), employs such powerful instrumentalities, and walketh about everywhere, as saith St. Peter, seeking whom he may devour; and when in this way, in which we walk peacefully and innocently, he sets his deceitful snares.
23. Now, the God of peace, “that brought again from the dead that great Shepherd of the sheep,” “He that keepeth Israel,” who “shall neither slumber nor sleep,” “keep your hearts and minds,” “and direct your ways to every good work.”
Peace and joy be with you in the LORD.
May, 1848, Indiction 6.
+ ANTHIMOS, by the Mercy of God, Archbishop of Constantinople, new Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, a beloved brother in Christ our God, and suppliant.
+ HIEROTHEUS, by the Mercy of God, Patriarch of Alexandria and of all Egypt, a beloved brother in Christ our God, and suppliant.
+ METHODIOS, by the Mercy of God, Patriarch of the great City of God, Antioch, and of all Anatolia, a beloved brother in Christ our God, and suppliant.
+ CYRIL, by the Mercy of God, Patriarch of Jerusalem and of all Palestine, a beloved brother in Christ our God, and suppliant.
The Holy Synod in Constantinople:
+ PAISIUS OF CAESAREA
+ ANTHIMUS OF EPHESUS
+ DIONYSIUS OF HERACLEA
+ JOACHIM OF CYZICUS
+ DIONYSIUS OF NICODEMIA
+ HIEROTHEUS OF CHALCEDON
+ NEOPHYTUS OF DERCI
+ GERASIMUS OF ADRIANOPLE
+ CYRIL OF NEOCAESAREA
+ THEOCLETUS OF BEREA
+ MELETIUS OF PISIDIA
+ ATHANASIUS OF SMYRNA
+ DIONYSIUS OF MELENICUS
+ PAISIUS OF SOPHIA
+ DANIEL OF LEMNOS
+ PANTELEIMON OF DEYINOPOLIS
+ JOSEPH OF ERSECIUM
+ ANTHIMUS OF BODENI
The Holy Synod in Antioch:
+ ZACHARIAS OF ARCADIA
+ METHODIOS OF EMESA
+ JOANNICIUS OF TRIPOLIS
+ ARTEMIUS OF LAODICEA
The Holy Synod in Jerusalem:
+ MELETIUS OF PETRA
+ DIONYSIUS OF BETHLEHEM
+ PHILEMON OF GAZA
+ SAMUEL OF NEAPOLIS
+ THADDEUS OF SEBASTE
+ JOANNICIUS OF PHILADELPHIA
+ HIEROTHEUS OF TABOR
The Patriarchal Encyclical of 1895
A Reply to the Papal Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, on Reunion
To the most Sacred and Most Divinely-beloved Brethren in Christ the Metropolitans and Bishops, and their sacred and venerable Clergy, and all the godly and orthodox Laity of the Most Holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Throne of Constantinople.
“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their own conversation:
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.” (Heb. xiii. 7, 8).
I. Every godly and orthodox soul, which has a sincere zeal for the glory of God, is deeply afflicted and weighed down with great pain upon seeing that he, who detests that which is good and is a murderer from the beginning, impelled by envy of man’s salvation, never ceases continually to sow divers tares in the field of the Lord, in order to sift the wheat. From this source indeed, even from the earliest times, there sprang up in the Church of God heretical tares, which have in many ways made havoc, and do still make havoc, of the salvation of mankind by Christ; which moreover, as bad seeds and corrupted members, are rightly cut off from the sound body of the orthodox catholic Church of Christ. But in these last times the evil one has rent from the orthodox Church of Christ even whole nations in the West, having inflated the bishops of Rome with thoughts of excessive arrogance, which has given birth to divers lawless and anti-evangelical innovations. And not only so, but furthermore the Popes of Rome from time to time, pursuing absolutely and without examination modes of union according to their own fancy, strive by every means to reduce to their own errors the catholic Church of Christ, which throughout the world walks unshaken in the orthodoxy of faith transmitted to her by the Fathers.
II. Accordingly the Pope of Rome, Leo XIII, on the occasion of his episcopal jubilee, published in the month of June of the year of grace 1895 an encyclical letter, addressed to the leaders and peoples of the world, by which he also at the same time invites our orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ to unite with the papal throne, thinking that such union can only be obtained by acknowledging him as supreme pontiff and the highest spiritual and temporal ruler of the universal Church, as the only representative of Christ upon earth and the dispenser of all grace.
III. No doubt every Christian heart ought to be filled with longing for union of the Churches, and especially the whole orthodox world, being inspired by a true spirit of piety, according to the divine purpose of the establishment of the church by the God-man our Savior Christ, ardently longs for the unity of the Churches in the one rule of faith, and on the foundation of the apostolic doctrine handed down to us through the Fathers, ‘Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.’  Wherefore she also every day, in her public prayers to the Lord, prays for the gathering together of the scattered and for the return of those who have gone astray to the right way of the truth, which alone leads to the Life of all, the only-begotten Son and Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Agreeably, therefore, to this sacred longing, our orthodox Church of Christ is always ready to accept any proposal of union, if only the Bishop of Rome would shake off once for all the whole series of the many and divers anti-evangelical novelties that have been ‘privily brought in’ to his Church, and have provoked the sad division of the Churches of the East and West, and would return to the basis of the seven holy Ecumenical Councils, which, having been assembled in the Holy Spirit, of representatives of all the holy Churches of God, for the determination of the right teaching of the faith against heretics, have a universal and perpetual supremacy in the Church of Christ. And this, both by her writings and encyclical letters, the Orthodox Church has never ceased to intimate to the Papal Church, having clearly and explicitly set forth that so long as the latter perseveres in her innovations, and the orthodox Church adheres to the divine and apostolic traditions of Christianity, during which the Western Churches were of the same mind and were united with the Churches of the East, so long is it a vain and empty thing to talk of union. For which cause we have remained silent until now, and have declined to take into consideration the papal encyclical in question, esteeming it unprofitable to speak to the ears of those who do not hear. Since, however, from a certain period the Papal Church, having abandoned the method of persuasion and discussion, began, to our general astonishment and perplexity, to lay traps for the conscience of the more simple orthodox Christians by means of deceitful workers transformed into apostles of Christ,  sending into the East clerics with the dress and headcovering of orthodox priests, inventing also divers and other artful means to obtain her proselytizing objects; for this reason, as in sacred duty bound, we issue this patriarchal and synodical encyclical, for a safeguard of the orthodox faith and piety, knowing ‘that the observance of the true canons is a duty for every good man, and much more for those who have been thought worthy by Providence to direct the affairs of others.’ 
IV. The union of the separated Churches with herself in one rule of faith is, as has been said before, a sacred and inward desire of the holy, catholic and orthodox apostolic Church of Christ; but without such unity in the faith, the desired union of the Churches becomes impossible. This being the case, we wonder in truth how Pope Leo XIII, though he himself also acknowledges this truth, falls into a plain self-contradiction, declaring, on the one hand, that true union lies in the unity of faith, and, on the other hand, that every Church, even after the union, can hold her own dogmatic and canonical definitions, even when they differ from those of the Papal Church, as the Pope declares in a previous encyclical, dated November 30, 1894. For there is an evident contradiction when in one and the same Church one believes that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father, and another that He proceeds from the Father and the Son; when one sprinkles, and another baptizes (immerses) thrice in the water; one uses leavened bread in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and another unleavened; one imparts to the people of the chalice as well as of the bread, and the other only of the holy bread; and other things like these. But what this contradiction signifies, whether respect for the evangelical truths of the holy Church of Christ and an indirect concession and acknowledgment of them, or something else, we cannot say.
V. But however that may be, for the practical realization of the pious longing for the union of the Churches, a common principle and basis must be settled first of all; and there can be no such safe common principle and basis other than the teaching of the Gospel and of the seven holy Ecumenical Councils. Reverting, then, to that teaching which was common to the Churches of the East and of the West until the separation, we ought, with a sincere desire to know the truth, to search what the one holy, catholic and orthodox apostolic Church of Christ, being then ‘of the same body,’ throughout the East and West believed, and to hold this fact, entire, and unaltered. But whatsoever has in later times been added or taken away, every one has a sacred and indispensable duty, if he sincerely seeks for the glory of God more than for his own glory, that in a spirit of piety he should correct it, considering that by arrogantly continuing in the perversion of the truth he is liable to a heavy account before the impartial judgment-seat of Christ. In saying this we do not at all refer to the differences regarding the ritual of the sacred services and the hymns, or the sacred vestments, and the like, which matters, even though they still vary, as they did of old, do not in the least injure the substance and unity of the faith; but we refer to those essential differences which have reference to the divinely transmitted doctrines of the faith, and the divinely instituted canonical constitution of the administration of the Churches. ‘In cases where the thing disregarded is not the faith (says also the holy Photius),  and is no falling away from any general and catholic decree, different rites and customs being observed among different people, a man who knows how to judge rightly would decide that neither do those who observe them act wrongly, nor do those who have not received them break the law.’ 
VI. And indeed for the holy purpose of union, the Eastern orthodox and catholic Church of Christ is ready heartily to accept all that which both the Eastern and Western Churches unanimously professed before the ninth century, if she has perchance perverted or does not hold it. And if the Westerns prove from the teaching of the holy Fathers and the divinely assembled Ecumenical Councils that the then orthodox Roman Church, which was throughout the West, even before the ninth century read the Creed with the addition, or used unleavened bread, or accepted the doctrine of a purgatorial fire, or sprinkling instead of baptism, or the immaculate conception of the ever-Virgin, or the temporal power, or the infallibility and absolutism of the Bishop of Rome, we have no more to say. But if, on the contrary, it is plainly demonstrated, as those of the Latins themselves, who love the truth, also acknowledge, that the Eastern and orthodox catholic Church of Christ holds fast the anciently transmitted doctrines which were at that time professed in common both in the East and the West, and that the Western Church perverted them by divers innovations, then it is clear, even to children, that the more natural way to union is the return of the Western Church to the ancient doctrinal and administrative condition of things; for the faith does not change in any way with time or circumstances, but remains the same always and everywhere, for ‘there is one body and one Spirit,’ it is said, ‘even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” 
VII. So then the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the seven Ecumenical Councils believed and taught in accordance with the words of the Gospel that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father; but in the West, even from the ninth century, the holy Creed, which was composed and sanctioned by Ecumenical Councils, began to be falsified, and the idea that the Holy Ghost proceeds ‘also from the Son’ to be arbitrarily promulgated. And certainly Pope Leo XIII is not ignorant that his orthodox predecessor and namesake, the defender of orthodoxy, Leo III, in the year 809 denounced synodically this anti-evangelical and utterly lawless addition, ‘and from the Son’ (filioque); and engraved on two silver plates, in Greek and Latin, the holy Creed of the first and second Ecumenical Councils, entire and without any addition; having written moreover, ‘These words I, Leo, have set down for love and as a safeguard of the orthodox faith’ (Haec Leo posui amore et cautela fidei orthodoxa’). 
Likewise he is by no means ignorant that during the tenth century, or at the beginning of the eleventh, this anti-evangelical and lawless addition was with difficulty inserted officially into the holy Creed at Rome also, and that consequently the Roman Church, in insisting on her innovations, and not coming back to the dogma of the Ecumenical Councils, renders herself fully responsible before the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ, which holds fast that which has been received from the Fathers, and keeps the deposit of the faith which was delivered to it unadulterated in all things, in obedience to the Apostolic injunction: ‘That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us’; ‘avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith.” 
VIII. The one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the first seven Ecumenical Councils baptized by three immersions in the water, and the Pope Pelagius speaks of the triple immersion as a command of the Lord, and in the thirteenth century baptism by immersions still prevailed in the West; and the sacred fonts themselves, preserved in the more ancient churches in Italy, are eloquent witnesses on this point; but in later times sprinkling or effusion, being privily brought in, came to be accepted by the Papal Church, which still holds fast the innovation, thus also widening the gulf which she has opened; but we Orthodox, remaining faithful to the apostolic tradition and the practice of the seven Ecumenical Councils, ‘stand fast, contending for the common profession, the paternal treasure of the sound faith.’ 
IX. The one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the seven Ecumenical Councils, according to the example of our Savior, celebrated the divine Eucharist for more than a thousand years throughout the East and West with leavened bread, as the truth-loving papal theologians themselves also bear witness; but the Papal Church from the eleventh century made an innovation also in the sacrament of the divine Eucharist by introducing unleavened bread.
X. The one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the seven Ecumenical Councils held that the precious gifts are consecrated after the prayer of the invocation of the Holy Ghost by the blessing of the priest, as the ancient rituals of Rome and Gaul testify; nevertheless afterwards the Papal Church made an innovation in this also, by arbitrarily accepting the consecration of the precious gifts as taking place along with the utterance of the Lord’s words: ‘Take, eat; this is my body’: and ‘Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood.’ 
XI. The one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the seven Ecumenical Councils, following the Lord’s command, ‘Drink ye all of it,’  imparted also of the holy chalice to all; but the Papal Church from the ninth century downwards has made an innovation in this rite also, by depriving the laity of the holy chalice, contrary to the Lord’s command and the universal practice of the ancient Church, as well as the express prohibition of many ancient orthodox bishops of Rome.
XII. The one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the seven Ecumenical Councils, walking according to the divinely inspired teaching of the Holy Scripture and the old apostolic tradition, prays and invokes the mercy of God for the forgiveness and rest of those ‘which have fallen asleep in the Lord’;  but the Papal Church from the twelfth century downwards has invented and heaped together in the person of the Pope, as one singularly privileged, a multitude of innovations concerning purgatorial fire, a superabundance of the virtues of the saints, and the distribution of them to those who need them, and the like, setting forth also a full reward for the just before the universal resurrection and judgment.
XIII. The one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the seven Ecumenical Councils teaches that the supernatural incarnation of the only-begotten Son and Word of God, of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary, is alone pure and immaculate; but the Papal Church scarcely forty years ago again made an innovation by laying down a novel dogma concerning the immaculate conception of the Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary, which was unknown to the ancient Church (and strongly opposed at different times even by the more distinguished among the papal theologians).
XIV. Passing over, then, these serious and substantial differences between the two churches respecting the faith, which differences, as has been said before, were created in the West, the Pope in his encyclical represents the question of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff as the principal and, so to speak, only cause of the dissension, and sends us to the sources, that we may make diligent search as to what our forefathers believed and what the first age of Christianity delivered to us. But having recourse to the fathers and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church of the first nine centuries, we are fully persuaded that the Bishop of Rome was never considered as the supreme authority and infallible head of the Church, and that every bishop is head and president of his own particular Church, subject only to the synodical ordinances and decisions of the Church universal as being alone infallible, the Bishop of Rome being in no wise excepted from this rule, as Church history shows. Our Lord Jesus Christ alone is the eternal Prince and immortal Head of the Church, for ‘He is the Head of the body, the Church,”  who said also to His divine disciples and apostles at His ascension into heaven, ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’  In the Holy Scripture the Apostle Peter, whom the Papists, relying on apocryphal books of the second century, the pseudo-Clementines, imagine with a purpose to be the founder of the Roman Church and their first bishop, discusses matters as an equal among equals in the apostolic synod of Jerusalem, and at another time is sharply rebuked by the Apostle Paul, as is evident from the Epistle to the Galatians.  Moreover, the Papists themselves know well that the very passage of the Gospel to which the Pontiff refers, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,’  is in the first centuries of the Church interpreted quite differently, in a spirit of orthodoxy, both by tradition and by all the divine and sacred Fathers without exception; the fundamental and unshaken rock upon which the Lord has built His own Church, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, being understood metaphorically of Peter’s true confession concerning the Lord, that ‘He is Christ, the Son of the living God.’  Upon this confession and faith the saving preaching of the Gospel by all the apostles and their successors rests unshaken. Whence also the Apostle Paul, who had been caught up into heaven, evidently interpreting this divine passage, declares the divine inspiration, saying: ‘According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’  But it is in another sense that Paul calls all the apostles and prophets together the foundation of the building up in Christ of the faithful; that is to say, the members of the body of Christ, which is the Church;  when he writes to the Ephesians: ‘Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the house hold of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.’  Such, then, being the divinely inspired teaching of the apostles respecting the foundation and Prince of the Church of God, of course the sacred Fathers, who held firmly to the apostolic traditions, could not have or conceive any idea of an absolute primacy of the Apostle Peter and the bishops of Rome; nor could they give any other interpretation, totally unknown to the Church, to that passage of the Gospel, but that which was true and right; nor could they arbitrarily and by themselves invent a novel doctrine respecting excessive privileges of the Bishop of Rome as successor, if so be, of Peter; especially whilst the Church of Rome was chiefly founded, not by Peter, whose apostolic action at Rome is totally unknown to history, but by the heaven-caught apostle of the Gentiles, Paul, through his disciples, whose apostolic ministry in Rome is well known to all. 
XV. The divine Fathers, honoring the Bishop of Rome only as the bishop of the capital city of the Empire, gave him the honorary prerogative of presidency, considering him simply as the bishop first in order, that is, first among equals; which prerogative they also assigned afterwards to the Bishop of Constantinople, when that city became the capital of the Roman Empire, as the twenty-eighth canon of the fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon bears witness, saying, among other things, as follows: ‘We do also determine and decree the same things respecting the prerogatives of the most holy Church of the said Constantinople, which is New Rome. For the Fathers have rightly given the prerogative to the throne of the elder Rome, because that was the imperial city. And the hundred and fifty most religious bishops, moved by the same consideration, assigned an equal prerogative to the most holy throne of New Rome.’ From this canon it is very evident that the Bishop of Rome is equal in honor to the Bishop of the Church of Constantinople and to those other Churches, and there is no hint given in any canon or by any of the Fathers that the Bishop of Rome alone has ever been prince of the universal Church and the infallible judge of the bishops of the other independent and self-governing Churches, or the successor of the Apostle Peter and vicar of Jesus Christ on earth.
XVI. Each particular self-governing Church, both in the East and West, was totally independent and self-administered in the time of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. And just as the bishops of the self-governing Churches of the East, so also those of Africa, Spain, Gaul, Germany and Britain managed the affairs of their own Churches, each by their local synods, the Bishop of Rome having no right to interfere, and he himself also was equally subject and obedient to the decrees of synods. But on important questions which needed the sanction of the universal Church an appeal was made to an Ecumenical Council, which alone was and is the supreme tribunal in the universal Church. Such was the ancient constitution of the Church; but the bishops were independent of each other and each entirely free within his own bounds, obeying only the syndical decrees, and they sat as equal one to another in synods. Moreover, none of them ever laid claim to monarchical rights over the universal Church; and ii sometimes certain ambitious bishops of Rome raised excessive claims to an absolutism unknown to the Church, such were duly reproved and rebuked The assertion therefore of Leo XIII, when he says in his Encyclical that before the period of the great Photius the name of the Roman throne was holy among all the peoples of the Christian world, and that the East, like the West, with one accord and without opposition, was subject to the Roman pontiff as lawful successor, so to say, of the Apostle Peter, and consequently vicar of Jesus Christ on earth is proved to be inaccurate and a manifest error.
XVII. During the nine centuries of the Ecumenical Councils the Eastern Orthodox Church never recognized the excessive claims of primacy on the part of the bishops of Rome, nor consequently did she ever submit herself to them, as Church history plainly bears witness. The independent relation of the East to the West is clearly and manifestly shown also by those few and most significant words of Basil the Great, which he writes in a letter to the holy Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata: ‘For when haughty characters are courted, it is their nature to become still more disdainful. For if the Lord be merciful to us, what other assistance do we need? But if the wrath of God abide on us, what help is there for us from Western superciliousness? Men who neither know the truth nor can bear to learn it, but being prejudiced by false suspicions, they act now as they did before in the case of Marcellus.’  The celebrated Photius, therefore, the sacred Prelate and luminary of Constantinople, defending this independence of the Church of Constantinople after the middle of the ninth century, and foreseeing the impending perversion of the ecclesiastical constitution in the West, and its defection from the orthodox East, at first endeavored in a peaceful manner to avert the danger; but the Bishop of Rome, Nicholas 1, by his uncanonical interference with the East, beyond the bounds of his diocese, and by the attempt which he made to subdue the Church of Constantinople to himself, pushed maners to the verge of the grievous separation of the Churches. The first seeds of these claims of a papal absolutism were scattered abroad in the pseudo-Clementines, and were cultivated, exactly at the epoch of this Nicholas, in the so-called pseudo-lsidorian decrees, which are a farrago of spurious and forged royal decrees and letters of ancient bishops of Rome, by which, contrary to the truth of history and the established constitution of the Church, it was purposely promulgated that, as they said, Christian antiquity assigned to the bishops of Rome an unbounded authority over the universal Church.
XVIII. These facts we recall with sorrow of heart, inasmuch as the Papal Church, though she now acknowledges the spuriousness and forged character of those decrees on which her excessive claims are grounded, not only stubbornly refuses to come back to the canons and decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, but even in the expiring years of the nineteenth century has widened the existing gulf by officially proclaiming, to the astonishment of the Christian world, that the Bishop of Rome is even infallible. The orthodox Eastern and catholic Church of Christ, with the exception of the Son and Word of God, who was ineffably made man, knows no one infallible upon earth. Even the Apostle Peter himself, whose successor the Pope thinks himself to be, thrice denied the Lord, and was twice rebuked by the Apostle Paul, as not walking uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel.  Afterwards the Pope Liberius, in the fourth century, subscribed an Arian confession; and likewise Zosimus, in the fifth century, approved an heretical confession, denying original sin. Virgilius, in the sixth century, was condemned for wrong opinions by the fifth Council; and Honorius, having fallen into the Monothelite heresy, was condemned in the seventh century by the sixth Ecumenical Council as a heretic, and the popes who succeeded him acknowledged and accepted his condemnation.
XIX. With these and such facts in view, the peoples of the West, becoming gradually civilized by the diffusion of letters, began to protest against innovations, and to demand (as was done in the fifteenth century at the Councils of Constance and Basle) the return to the ecclesiastical constitution of the first centuries, to which, by the grace of God, the orthodox Churches throughout the East and North, which alone now form the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ, the pillar and ground of the truth, remain, and will always remain, faithful. The same was done in the seventeenth century by the learned Gallican theologians, and in the eighteenth by the bishops of Germany; and in this present century of science and criticism, the Christian conscience rose up in one body in the year 1870, in the persons of the celebrated clerics and theologians of Germany, on account of the novel dogma of the infallibility of the Popes, issued by the Vatican Council, a consequence of which rising is seen in the formation of the separate religious communities of the old Catholics, who, having disowned the papacy, are quite independent of it.
XX. In vain, therefore, does the Bishop of Rome send us to the sources that we may seek diligently for what our forefathers believed and what the first period of Christianity delivered to us. In these sources we, the orthodox, find the old and divinely-transmitted doctrines, to which we carefully hold fast to the present time, and nowhere do we find the innovations which later times of empty mindedness brought forth in the West, and which the Papal Church having adopted retains till this very day. The orthodox Eastern Church then justly glories in Christ as being the Church of the seven Ecumenical Councils and of the first nine centuries of Christianity, and therefore the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ, ‘the pillar and ground of the truth’;  but the present Roman Church is the Church of innovations, of the falsification of the writings of the Church Fathers, and of the misinterpretation of the Holy Scripture and of the decrees of the holy councils, for which she has reasonably and justly been disowned, and is still disowned, so far as she remains in her error. ‘For better is a praiseworthy war than a peace which separates from God,’ as Gregory of Nazianzus also says.
XXI. Such are, briefly, the serious and arbitrary innovations concerning the faith and the administrative constitution of the Church, which the Papal Church has introduced and which, it is evident, the Papal Encyclical purposely passes over in silence. These innovations, which have reference to essential points of the faith and of the administrative system of the Church, and which are manifestly opposed to the ecclesiastical condition of the first nine centuries, make the longed-for union of the Churches impossible: and every pious and orthodox heart is filled with inexpressible sorrow on seeing the Papal Church disdainfully persisting in them, and not in the least contributing to the sacred purpose of union by rejecting those heretical innovations and coming back to the ancient condition of the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ, of which she also at that time formed a part.
XXII. But what are we to say of all that the Roman Pontiff writes when he addresses the glorious Slavonic nations? No one, indeed, has ever denied that by the virtue and the apostolic toils of SS. Cyril and Methodius the grace of salvation was vouchsafed to not a few of the Slavonic peoples: but history testifies that at the period of the great Photius those Greek apostles to the Slavs and intimate friends of that divine Father, setting out from Thessalonica, were sent to convert the Slavonic tribes not from Rome but from Constantinople, where moreover they had been trained, living as monks in the monastery of St. Polychronius. It is therefore utterly incoherent which is proclaimed in the Roman Pontiff’s Encyclical, that, as he says, a kindly relation and mutual sympathy was brought about between the Slavonic tribes and the pontiffs of the Roman Church; for even if the Pope is ignorant of it, history nevertheless explicitly proclaims that these sacred apostles to the Slavs of whom we speak, encountered greater difficulties in their work from the bishops of Rome through their excommunications and opposition, and were more cruelly persecuted by the Frankish papal bishops than by the heathen inhabitants of those countries. Certainly the Pope knows well that the blessed Methodius having departed to the Lord, two hundred of the most distinguished of his disciples’ after many struggles against the opposition of the Roman Pontiffs, were driven out of Moravia and led away by military force beyond its boundaries, from whence afterwards they were dispersed into Bulgaria and elsewhere. And he knows also that with the expulsion of the more erudite Slavonic clergy, the ritual of the East, as well as the Slavonic language then in use, were also driven out, and in process of time all vestige of orthodoxy was effaced from those provinces, and all these things done with the official cooperation of the bishops of Rome m a manner not the least honorable to the holiness of the episcopal dignity. But notwithstanding all this despiteful treatment, the orthodox Slavonic Churches, the beloved daughters of the orthodox East, and especially the great and glorious Church of divinely preserved Russia, having been preserved harmless by the grace of God, have kept, and will keep till the end of the ages, the orthodox faith, and stand forth conspicuous testimonies of the liberty that is in Christ. In vain, therefore, does the Papal Encyclical promise to the Slavonic Churches prosperity and greatness, because by the goodwill of the most gracious God they already possess these blessings, and such as these, standing firm m the orthodoxy of their fathers and glorifying in it in Christ.
XXIII. These things being so, and being indisputably proved by ecclesiastical history, we, anxious as it is our duty to be, address ourselves to the peoples of the West, who through ignorance of the true and impartial history of ecclesiastical matters, being credulously led away, follow the anti-evangelical and utterly lawless innovations of the papacy, having been separated and continuing far from the one holy, catholic and apostolic orthodox Church of Christ, which is ‘the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth,  in which also their gracious ancestors and forefathers shone by their piety and orthodoxy of faith, having been faithful and precious members of it during nine whole centuries, obediently following and walking according to the decrees of the divinely assembled Ecumenical Councils.
XXIV. Christ-loving peoples of the glorious countries of the West! We rejoice on the one hand seeing that you have a zeal for Christ, being led by this right persuasion, ‘that without faith in Christ it is impossible to please God’;  but on the other hand it is self-evident to every right-thinking person that the salutary faith in Christ ought by all means to be right in everything, and in agreement with the Holy Scripture and the apostolic traditions, upon which the teaching of the divine Fathers and the seven holy, divinely assembled Ecumenical Councils is based. It is moreover manifest that the universal Church of God, which holds fast in its bosom unique unadulterated and entire this salutary faith as a divine deposit, just as it was of old delivered and unfolded by the God-bearing Fathers moved by the Spirit, and formulated by them during the first nine centuries, is one and the same for ever, and not manifold and varying with the process of time: because the gospel truths are never susceptible to alteration or progress in course of time, like the various philosophical systems; ‘for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.’  Wherefore also the holy Vincent, who was brought up on the milk of the piety received from the fathers in the monastery of Lérins in Gaul, and flourished about the middle of the fifth century, with great wisdom and orthodoxy characterizes the true catholicity of the faith and of the Church, saying: ‘In the catholic Church we must especially take heed to hold that which has been believed everywhere at all times, and by all. For this is truly and properly catholic, as the very force and meaning of the word signifies, which moreover comprehends almost everything universally. And that we shall do, if we walk following universality, antiquity, and consent.’  But, as has been said before, the Western Church, from the tenth century downwards, has privily brought into herself through the papacy various and strange and heretical doctrines and innovations, and so she has been torn away and removed far from the true and orthodox Church of Christ. How necessary, then, it is for you to come back and return to the ancient and unadulterated doctrines of the Church in order to attain the salvation in Christ after which you press, you can easily understand if you intelligently consider the command of the heaven-ascended Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians, saying: ‘Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle’;  and also what the same divine apostle writes to the Galatians saying: ‘I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.’  But avoid such perverters of the evangelical truth, ‘For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple; and come back for the future into the bosom of the holy, catholic and apostolic Church of God, which consists of all the particular holy Churches of God, which being divinely planted, like luxuriant vines throughout the orthodox world, are inseparably united to each other in the unity of the one saving faith in Christ, and in the bond of peace and of the Spirit, that you may obtain the highly-to-be-praised and most glorious name of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, who suffered for the salvation of the world, may be glorified among you also.
XXV. But let us, who by the grace and goodwill of the most gracious God are precious members of the body of Christ, that is to say of His one holy, catholic and apostolic Church, hold fast to the piety of our fathers, handed down to us from the apostles. Let us all beware of false apostles, who, coming to us in sheep’s clothing, attempt to entice the more simple among us by various deceptive promises, regarding all things as lawful and allowing them for the sake of union, provided only that the Pope of Rome be recognized as supreme and infallible ruler and absolute sovereign of the universal Church, and only representative of Christ on earth, and the source of all grace. And especially let us, who by the grace and mercy of God have been appointed bishops, pastors, and teachers of the holy Churches of God, ‘take heed unto ourselves,—and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made us overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood,’  as they that must give account. ‘Wherefore let us comfort ourselves together, and edify one another.’  ‘And the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus … make us perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle us,’  and grant that all those who are without and far away from the one holy, catholic and orthodox fold of His reasonable sheep may be enlightened with the light of His grace and the acknowledging of the truth. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.
In the Patriarchal Palace of Constantinople, in the month of August of the year of grace MDCCCXCV.
+ ANTHIMOS of Constantinople, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
+ NICODEMOS of Cyzicos, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
+ PHILOTHEOS of Nicomedia, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
+ JEROME of Nicea, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
+ NATHANAEL of Prusa, beloved brother and intercessor of Christ our God.
+ BASIL of Smyrna, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
+ STEPHEN of Philadelphia, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
+ ATHANASIOS of Lemnos, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
+ BESSARION of Dyrrachium, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
+ DOROTHEOS of Belgrade, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
+ NICODEMOS of Elasson, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
+ SOPHRONIOS of Carpathos and Cassos, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
+ DIONYSIOS of Eleutheropolis, beloved brother and intercessor in Christ our God.
1. Eph. 2:20.
2. John 14:6.
3. II Cor. 11:13.
4. Phot. Epist. iii. 10.
5. Patriarch of Constantinople; c. 800.
6. Phot. Epist iii. 6.
7. Eph. 4:5-6.
8. See life of Leo 111 by Athanasius, presbyter and librarian at Rome, in his Lives of the Popes. The holy Photius also, making mention of this invective of the orthodox Pope of Rome, Leo III, against the holders of the erroneous doctrine, in his renowned letter to the Metropolitan of Acquileia, expresses himself as follows: ‘For (not to mention those who were before him) Leo the elder, prelate of Rome, as well as Leo the younger after him, shew themselves to be of the same mind with the catholic and apostolic Church, with the holy prelates their predecessors, and with the apostolic commands; the one having contributed much to the assembling of the fourth holy Ecumenical Council, both by the sacred men who were sent to represent him, and by his letter, through which both Nestorius and Eutyches were overthrown; by which letter he moreover, in accordance with previous synodical decrees, declared the Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father, but not also “from the Son.” And in like manner Leo the younger, his counterpart in faith as well as in name. This latter indeed, who was ardently zealous for true piety, in order that the unspotted pattern of true piety might not in any way whatever be falsified by a barbarous language, published it in Greek, as has already been said in the beginning, to the people of the West, that they might thereby glorify and preach aright the Holy Trinity. And not only by word and command, but also, having inscribed and exposed it to the sight of all on certain shields specially made, as on certain monuments, he fixed it at the gates of the Church, in order that every person might easily learn the uncontaminated faith, and in order that no chance whatever might be left to secret forgers and innovators of adulterating the piety of us Christians, and of bringing in the Son besides the Father as a second cause of the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father with honor equal to that of the begotten Son. And it was not these two holy men alone, who shone brightly in the West, who preserved the faith free from innovation; for the Church is not in such want as that of Western preachers; but there is also a host of them not easily counted who did likewise.’—Epist. v. 53.
9. III Tim. 1:14; 1 Tim. 6:20-21.
10. St. Basil the Great, Ep. 243, To the Bishops of Italy and Gaul.
11. Matt. 26:26, 28
12. Matt. 26:28.
13. Matt. 26:31; Heb. 11:39-40; II Tim. 4:8; II Macc. 12:45.
14. Col. 1:18.
15. Matt. 28:20.
16. Gal. 2:11.
17. Matt. 16:18.
18. Matt. 16:16.
19. 1 Cor. 3:10, 11.
20. Col. 1:24.
21. Eph. 2:19, 20. Cp. 1 Pet. 2:4; Rev. 21:14.
22. See Acts of the Apostles 28:15, Rom. 15:15-16; Phil. 1:13.
23. Epist. 239.
24. Gal. 2:11.
25. I Tim. 3:15.
26. I Tim. 3:15.
27. Heb. 11:6.
28. Heb. 13:8.
29. ‘In ipsa item Catholica Ecclesia magnopere curandum est, ut teneamus, quod ubique quod semper ab omnibus creditum est. Hoc est enim vere proprieque Catholicum (quod ipsa vis nominis ratioque declarat), quod omnia fere universaliter comprehendit. Sed hoc fiet si sequimur universalitatem, antiquitatem, consensionem’ (Vincentii Lirinensis Commonitorium pro CatholicEe fidei antiquitate et universalitate cap. iii, cf. cap. viii and xiv).
31. Gal. 1:6-7.
32. Rom. 16:18.
33. Acts 20:28.
34. I Thess. 5:11.
35. I Pet. 5:10.
The Resolution of the Pastoral Conference of the Canadian and American Clergy Regarding the Issue of Terminating Eucharistic Communion with Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili.
Having studied and discussed Metropolitan Cyprian’s teaching concerning ailing and healthy members of the Church in “the realm of a correct understanding of the faith” by the General Committee, whose creation was approved by Archbishop Varnava and Bishop Varfolomey and, likewise, having attended to reports and theological analyses from several volumes of documents regarding this subject, we have come to the following conclusion:
The Conclusion Concerning the Ecclesiology of Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili.
On the basis of having studied the ecclesiological teachings of Metropolitan Cyprian, which are set forth in the book “Ecclesiological Thesis, or the Exposition of the Doctrine of the Church for the Orthodox, Resisting the Heresy of Ecumenism” (pub. Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina, Fili, Attica, Greece, 1993) [Editor’s Note: This is the same text he studied and approved 8 years earlier!!!], Metropolitan Cyprian’s report at the 6th Orthodox Conference “The Heresy of Ecumenism and the Patristic Position of the Orthodox” (23 February 1998), and also a host of publications and declarations of other hierarchs of the Synod of the Resistors, we have arrived at the following conclusions:
1. Metropolitan Cyprian and his Synod, while recognizing ecumenist world Orthodoxy to be heretical, nevertheless, considers it to be a part of the Church of Christ, thus contradicting the teaching and tradition of the Church, which clearly bears witness in Conciliar decrees and the writings of the Holy Fathers to the effect that heretics are fallen away from the Church.
2. Metropolitan Cyprian replaces the concept of “heretics” with a description of those who are essentially in error in their judgments concerning the Orthodox. Thus, in regard to ecumenist-heretics, he writes: “Persons in error concerning the correct understanding of the faith — and thereby sinning, but not yet judged by an ecclesiastical court — are ailing members of the Church” (“Ecclesiological Theses,” ch. 1, 4; pp. 2, 7). Calling for a walling-off from these ailing members, Metropolitan Cyprian, nonetheless, considers them to be within the Church. However, to permit membership in the Church outside an Orthodox confession of faith is by no means possible; hence, “those ailing in the faith” cannot be members of the Church, which is also confirmed by the teachings of the Holy Fathers. “Without a doubt,” says the venerable John Cassian the Roman, “he who does not confess the faith of the Church is outside the Church.” The same is confirmed also by Patriarch Jeremias II of Constantinople: “Members of the Church of Christ are wholly devoted to the truth, and those not wholly devoted to the truth are not members of the Church of Christ.” And St. Cyprian of Carthage teaches: “Just as the devil is not Christ, although he deceives in His name, so also such a one cannot be accounted a Christian as does not abide in the truth of His Gospel and Faith.” In agreement with all the Fathers, the Great Hierarch Gregory the Theologian, in his Second Epistle Against Apollinarius, also teaches: “Avoid those holding to another doctrine and consider them alien to God and to the Universal Church.” The Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs Concerning the Orthodox Faith states: “We believe that all amongst us are members of the catholic Church, even the faithful themselves, i.e., those who unconditionally confess the pure faith of Christ the Saviour.” And St. Gregory Palamas also explains: “Those who are of the Church of Christ, the same are of the truth; and those who are not of the truth, the same are also not of the Church of Christ…”
Metropolitan Cyprian declares in his thesis that “the Orthodox have become divided into two parts: those who are ailing in the faith and those who are healthy…” (Ch. 3, p. 4), but then he immediately goes on to speak of “restoring to Orthodoxy” those ailing in the faith (Ch. 3, p. 5), whereby he clearly falls into a doctrinal contradiction, for how is it possible “to receive into Orthodoxy” those who already are Orthodox?!
3. Metropolitan Cyprian makes a statement concerning the division of the Church by reason of ecumenism, by drawing an analogy between the present state of the Church and Her state during the time of the iconoclastic heresy. In his ecclesiology, he attempts to compare the present-day new-calendarists and ecumenists with the iconoclasts, whom the Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council united to the Church through repentance and the renouncing of their heresy. Likewise, Metropolitan Cyprian refers to the 7th Ecumenical Council, the Acts of which employ the expressions “severance,” “divisions,” etc. He reaches a totally unfounded conclusion, that the iconoclasts, prior to their having been judged by the Council, were not yet heretics, as such; and that their mysteries were therefore recognized as being valid. However, concerning the iconoclasts who were joined to Orthodoxy, neither did the Ecumenical Council consider them as having belonged previously to the Church, nor did they themselves make any pretenses as to their comprising Her. Here are the testimonies of the joining iconoclasts themselves. Basil, Bp. of Ancyra: “To the extent of my ability, I investigated the question of icons, and with complete conviction turned to the Holy Catholic Church.” Theodore, Bp. of Myra in Lycia: “…I pray God and your holiness to join me, a sinner, to the Holy Catholic Church, as well.” John, the most-God-pleasing Locum Tenens of the Apostolic Throne in the East said: “Heresy separates every man from the Church.” The Holy Council stated: “that is obvious.”
But Metropolitan Cyprian, in his ecclesiology, changes the terminology: “they were received into Orthodoxy,”thereby inferring an unthinkable distinction between the Church and Orthodoxy, which is impossible.
The Church, as the Body of Christ, cannot be divided. Such a phenomenon is ontologically impossible, inasmuch as the Lord Jesus Christ cannot have several bodies. Those divisions mentioned at the Council, and in the writings of the Holy Fathers, relate exclusively to a temporary division between Christians, like those arising during times of troubles when heresies are being spread, and when, initially, it can be difficult to discern just who is who. St. Basil the Great compared an occasion like this to a night-battle when, in the darkness, it is not immediately possible to discern friend from foe.
In the Church there can be no division; there can only be a falling away from Her. The Catechism of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitski) states the same concerning this: “Question: Is it possible to grant that there once took place, or that there will take place, a division within the Church, or a separation of Churches? Answer: In no case: heretics and schismatics fell away from the one indivisible Church at various times and thereby ceased to be members of the Church, but the Church, as such, cannot lose her unity” (Experience of Christian Catechism. Pub. Australo-New Zealand Ep. 1989, p. 65). In its Epistle of 18 November/ 1 December 1962, the ROCOR Sobor of Bishops likewise confessed: “We cannot accept their (the ecumenists’) point of view, that the Church has become divided. We believe in One, Exclusive Church, the Head of Which is Christ. As there is one Head, so also is there one Body – the Church. If a house is divided within itself, then it cannot stand. Thus, also, the Church, having become divided, would cease to be the Church. There can only be a falling-away from the Church – a departure from Her of individuals — or of entire groups who are not of like mind with Her.” In accordance with this confession, the 18/31 December, 1931, Declaration of the ROCOR Synod of Bishops states: “Preserving the Faith in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Synod of Bishops confesses that this Church has never been divided.”
4…[Here Metropolitan Vitaly and company discuss the new-calendar innovation, which discussion we omit for the sake of a little brevity and maintaining coherence of argument, since this detour paragraph adds nothing to our purpose. – Editor’s note]…
5. The unification Council that Metropolitan Cyprian is hoping for can unite only these “separated Orthodox.” But heretics do not belong to the Church and can return into the Bosom of the Church of Christ only through being united to Her. Metropolitan Cyprian sets forth a false theory of uniting those of unlike mind, at the same time making the very convening of said Council dependent upon this unnatural union.
In this fashion, Metropolitan Cyprian’s doctrine, being the fundamental position of the Synod of Resistors, contradicts the Patristic traditions of the Church. He declares that he is not in communion with heretical ecumenist churches. Meanwhile, however, he and his Synod fail to sever themselves from these churches spiritually, considering themselves to be the “healthy” part of the one Church at the same time as the heretical, ecumenist and new-calendarist churches are the “ailing” part. Thus, Metropolitan Cyprian’s Synod, despite the absence of communion in the mysteries [Editor’s note: Actually, ‘Met.’ Cyprian communes New Calendarists, as reported in Greek newspapers.], finds itself, de facto, in a total “healthy-ailing” union with heretical world “Orthodoxy.” This “Orthodox” crypto-ecumenism, so to speak, even as open ecumenism, falls under the 1983 anathema against the heresy of ecumenism, which was proclaimed by the ROCOR Synod of Bishops under presidency of the third First Hierarch of the Church Abroad, Metropolitan Philaret. (This anathema was subsequently confirmed by the ROCOR Sobor of Bishops in 1998):
“and to those who have communion with these heretics, or who aid and abet them, or who defend their new heresy of ecumenism, supposing that to be brotherly love and the uniting of separated Christians: Anathema!”
Thus, by appending our signatures hereunto, we ratify the 2nd Point of the Declaration of the Synod of Bishops of our Church, No. 7/01/M, on 26 October/8 November, 2001, wherein is announced:
“(In accordance with the decree of the 1974 ROCOR Sobor Of Bishops) The termination of the 1994 ROCOR Sobor’s rashly-established eucharistic communion with the Synod of the Resistors under the Presidency of Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili on account of his unorthodox teaching concerning the Church (regarding ailing and healthy members of the Church in the realm of “the correct understanding of the faith”) and the recognition of the Mysteries of the new-calendarists as being valid” (see Met. Cyprian “Ecclesiological Thesis,” pp. 2 and 5).
+ Metropolitan Vitaly
+ Archbishop Varnava (in agreement with the resolution)
+ Bishop Sergii
+ Bishop Vladimir
+ Bishop Varfolomei (in agreement with the resolution)
Protopresbyter Victor Melehov,
Archpriest Sergii Petrov,
Archpriest Joseph Sunderland,
Archpriest Spyridon Schneider,
Priest Anatolii Trepachko,
Priest Andrew Kencis,
Priest Nikita Orlov,
Hieromonk Damian (Hansen),
Priest Mikhail Marcinowski,
Priest Yevgenii Santalov,
Abbess Eugenia (agrees with the Resolution),
Deacon Mark Smith
Holy Transfiguration skete,
The ROCOR’s Anathema Against Ecumenism (1983)
by Archbishop Vitaly of Montreal and Canada
The Council of Bishops of 1983 was a most special council, whose distinctiveness lay in its modesty and inconspicuousness. This was, of course, the first time in the history of our Church that a council had been held at Holy Transfiguration Skete—not even in a monastery. The fourteen hierarchs who took part in the Council traveled from all parts of the free world—at their head the First Hierarch of our Church, His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret. Ten of them were elderly men over seventy years old. In addition, no previous council had been so brief, continuing in all for just under two weeks. The skete, in which all the sessions were held, is situated in a very beautiful locale, far from heavily-traveled roads and surrounded on all sides by coniferous and deciduous forests: one might even describe its location as overgrown…. The wooden “tent” church of our skete, designed by our Russian architect V. G. Glinin, who reposed in the same year of 1983, blends quietly with the tops of the pine trees that crowd around on all sides
Of course, neither the international nor the local press made a single mention of our very insignificant council, which only further emphasizes its modesty. Indeed, none of these members of the press had time for us when at the other end of Canada, 4,800 kilometers from Mansonville (Quebec), a world-wide ecumenical council was being held. All religions were represented there: Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Protestants of every sort, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus, and even simple shamans (or to put it more directly and simply: sorcerers). If one adds to this motley collection women priests and the presence among the participants of bare-footed dancers in the style of Eleanora Duncan then one simply cannot find words fit to describe the character of this great world-wide assembly.
It has been almost a hundred years now since ecumenism began its attack upon the one true Church of Christ, invested by Him with the authority to bind and to loose, and began to unite all the countless heresies, both small and great, acknowledging them to be, as it were, sparks of the truth, from which the future ecumenical church is to be formed in place of the historical Church of Christ, which in their opinion has proved to be a failure. Against this monstrous teaching a vast literature has grown up, revealing ecumenism to be the heresy of heresies, but we cannot in such a short article review it in detail. Without doubt, the time for discussion and polemics has passed and the time has come to judge this movement and, however insignificant our Council of 1983 may seem, it has at last condemned ecumenism and anathematized it in the following words:
Those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called “branches” which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all “branches” or sects or denominations, and even religions will be united into one body; and who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the baptism and eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore, to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned heretics or who advocate, disseminate, or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians, Anathema!
The Russian Church Abroad, now headed by Metropolitan Philaret, professes itself to be an inseparable part of the historic Russian Church. As a local Church it has the right to summon its regular Councils and to enforce its resolutions, which are thereupon fully obligatory for all of its children, scattered throughout the world. Time will tell whether or not the other local Churches will adopt our resolution on ecumenism as the acts of the Ten Local Councils were, in their time, entered into the Book of the Canons of the Holy Apostles, the Sacred Ecumenical Councils, and the Holy Fathers of the Universal Church. We well know that all our conciliar resolutions against the Moscow Patriarchate, whose hierarchy is completely subject to the atheist Communist Party, were merely taken note of by the other local Churches—to their spiritual detriment. The local Orthodox Churches tried to justify themselves by saying that their silence was due to the difficulty of discerning all the internal affairs of Russia and that our resolutions against the Soviet Moscow Patriarchate were more political than ecclesiastical, although it is now clear to all reasonable persons that the doctrine of Communism is atheistic and materialistic. Russia is not Nicaragua, and when such a great people, occupying one sixth of the earth suffers, the whole world suffers. The disease of Communism has now penetrated every nation and to say that anyone cannot understand the internal affairs of Russia would be, to put it mildly, amusing if they had not had such a tragic influence on all the Orthodox Churches and peoples. In regard to ecumenism, every local Church has had ample time, more than a century, to spend examining it and, if the local Churches base their teachings and life upon the canons of the Holy Apostles and the other Orthodox Councils, then they cannot but recognize that ecumenism is clearly the most pernicious of heresies, for it has gathered all the heresies that exist or have existed and has called this union a Church—a deed that savors of Antichrist.
By proclaiming this anathema, we have protected our flock from this apocalyptic temptation and, at the same time, have reluctantly put before the conscience of all the local Churches a serious issue, which sooner or later they must resolve in one way or the other. The future spiritual fate of the universal Orthodox Church depends on the resolution of this problem. The anathema we have proclaimed is de jure a manifestation of a purely local character of the Russian Church Abroad, but de facto it has immense significance for the history of the universal Church, for ecumenism is a heresy on a universal scale. The place of the Russian Church Abroad is now plain in the conscience of all the Orthodox. The Lord has laid a great cross upon us, but it is, however, no longer possible to remain silent, for continued silence would be like a betrayal of the Truth, from which may the Lord deliver us all!
Translated from the Russian from Orthodox Observer, No. 58 (April 1984).
Fr. Alexander Lebedeff’s Comments on the Implications of the 1983 Anathema
When considering the approach to be used with regard to the current state of World Orthodoxy, we must remember that the situation with ecumenical heresy is much less clear than it was with the ancient heresies. If the ancient Church could apply Economy to those who had been misled by Arian and Nestorian heretics, whose heresies had been denounced by Ecumenical Councils, how much more do we have to apply Economy to those whose leaders have become entangled in heresy of Ecumenism, when this heresy has not yet settled into the minds of the majority of the faithful, and has been denounced not by an Ecumenical Council, but only by the Synod of Bishops itself?
Let us look once more at the Anathema of 1983, which is being used as the cornerstone of the attacks against the Synod. Here it is:
“Those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called ‘branches’ which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all ‘branches’ or sects or denominations and even religions will be united into one body; who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the baptism and eucharist of the heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore, to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned heretics or who advocate, disseminate, or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians, Anathema!”
… But are the Serbian and Jerusalem Patriarchates not excommunicated by the 1983 anathema because of their participation in the ecumenical movement?
The answer must be an unequivocal no.
An excellent analysis of why this is so was written by John Hudanish, starosta of Our Lady of Kursk Chapel in Woodburn, Oregon…. After restating the text of the 1983 Anathema, John Hudanish writes:
“This is an eloquent condemnation of ecumenism and a clear statement of our Synod s rejection of it. What s not so clear, however, is the fact that this anathema is legislative in nature, rather than judicial, i.e., it is a codification of a theological principle into law, but not a verdict—much less a sentence. In other words, it identifies a specific phenomenon (ecumenism) as a heresy, and prescribes the penalty (Anathema!) for those who embrace and defend it, or “knowingly have communion” with those who do*, but it excommunicates no one! It is legislation. It is not judgment. And this is borne out by Metropolitan Vitaly in an article he wrote for “Orthodox Life” (No. 4, 1984, p. 32) while he was still Archbishop of Montreal and Canada. He wrote:
“Time will tell whether or not the other local Churches will adopt our resolution on ecumenism as the acts of the Ten Local Councils were, in their time, entered into the Books of the Canons of the Holy Apostles, the Sacred Ecumenical Councils and the Holy Fathers of the Universal Church.“
“It is important to understand that since the 1983 anathema was promulgated by our Synod of Bishops, we now have a canonical basis for dealing with ecumenism and its adherents within our midst. But as with all other laws, the penalty prescribed by the 1983 anathema cannot be meted out to anyone without due process. Stated otherwise, before anyone can be excommunicated, there must be a determination of guilt in a canonical trial or synodical investigation….
“Therefore, strictly speaking, neither the Patriarch of Constantinople nor the Patriarch of Jerusalem has been excommunicated by the anathema of 1983… Furthermore, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has not subsequently convened to investigate allegations against either patriarch, nor to anathematize them under the 1983 resolution.
“Why not?! Why hasn’t the Synod excommunicated the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Jerusalem for their transgressions? Well, for one thing, it’s a matter of jurisdiction. As Metropolitan Vitaly had written in the aforementioned article:
“The anathema we have proclaimed is de jure a manifestation of a purely local character of the Russian Church Abroad….”
“No Orthodox body outside the Russian Church Abroad is bound by it, just as the anathema against the three-fingered sign of the cross proclaimed by the Council of the One Hundred Chapters (Moscow 1552) was not binding on the Greeks at that time. About all our Russian Church Abroad can do is to refrain from concelebrating with or admitting to the Holy Mysteries the clergy and laity of those Orthodox jurisdictions which appear to be involved in the ecumenist heresy. Our bishops have no authority to discipline any but their own.” (pp. 8-9)
Metropolitan Vitaly confirmed this as the official view of the Church on the 1983 Anathema in his recent Nativity Epistle. In it he also clearly stated that those individual Synod clergymen who, in isolated incidents, have concelebrated with clergy of ecumenist or new calendar jurisdictions have done so by economy. In this Epistle, Metropolitan Vitaly wrote:
“We proclaimed an anathema against ecumenism only for the children of our Church, but by this we very humbly but firmly, gently but decisively, as if invite the local churches to stop and think. This is the role of our most small, humble, half-persecuted, always alert, but true Church. We, de facto,do not serve with either new-calendarists or ecumenists, but if someone of our clergy, by economy, would presume to such a concelebration, this fact alone in no way influences our standing in the truth.” (emphasis added)
…[T]he Anathema of 1983 did not excommunicate everyone in world Orthodoxy.
The Synod of Bishops is not an Ecumenical Council, whose decrees would be binding on all Orthodox Churches. Its decisions apply only to the members of the Synod itself.
It is impossible to determine exactly how many Orthodox Christians there are in the world today, because a majority of them are under Communist oppression, and no accurate figures are available. But assuming that reports in the Soviet press are correct, about half of the population of the Soviet Union is baptized. On this basis, one could assume that there are somewhere in the area of 200 million Orthodox Christians in the world today.
If one were to believe [certain extremists] one would get the impression that on one day in 1983, some 200 million Orthodox were excommunicated and declared heretics by the action of the Synod’s proclamation of the anathema against ecumenism.
One moment they are Orthodox, then—poof!—heretics.
This is nonsense.
The Orthodox Church has always understood that heresy takes centuries to become entrenched in the minds of the faithful, and that in the meantime, the overwhelming majority of the individual believers in a Church do not even know about, much less understand, the questions that are being disputed.
In order to be proclaimed a heretic, a person must consciously accept the heresy and believe in it wholeheartedly, and he must reject all attempts to persuade him to return to the true faith.
The overwhelming majority of the faithful in any of these local churches has never even heard of Ecumenism. How can they be heretics?
I can guarantee that of the 200 million Orthodox in the world today, only several thousand, if that, have ever even heard of the Synod’s anathema of 1983. Even more than that, I can guarantee that the overwhelming majority of the members of the Synod church itself have never heard of this Anathema. I am confident that we have many members of the Synod clergy who never heard of it.
How then can we even think of sentencing to excommunication say the entire Serbian Orthodox church with all its faithful, or any other local Orthodox Church, no matter how wrong their leaders are in tolerating ecumenical activity? …
The Synod recognizes the fact that even in the new-calendar jurisdictions there are only a handful of fervent ecumenists—the type who would advocate the “branch theory” or who would encourage receiving sacraments from the non-Orthodox.
Although the Synod deplores all ecumenical activity, and in its publications openly criticizes those who participate in such activities, at the same time the Synod is very cognizant of the fact that there are many among the clergy and laymen of the other jurisdictions (especially in the Serbian Church), who are openly opposed to ecumenism, and who are working to turn the direction of their Churches to be more consistently Orthodox.
Because of this, the Synod is proceeding very carefully and deliberately on this issue. In the beginning, at the time the Synod was organized, the Synod freely concelebrated with all Orthodox jurisdictions. As time passed, and the Synod watched the Eastern Patriarchates being gradually being swept up by modernism and the new calendar, the Synod gradually began to withdraw from these concelebrations, while continuing to call upon these Churches to return to Orthodox strictness. Later, as these Churches lost their discernment to the point that they recognized the Moscow Patriarchate as being the valid Church of Russia, and as the infection of Ecumenism began to spread into these Churches, the Synod withdrew almost completely from any concelebration with them.
The Synod fervently hopes that the leaders of these Churches will recognize their errors, and that they will take steps to correct them. The Synod will continue to call upon these leaders and inspire them to change their direction.
In the meantime, the Synod continues to advocate a measured approach, with each bishop given the responsibility to determine exactly how the clergy of his individual diocese should proceed.
* Actually, on this point John Hudanish errs. If one reads the anathema carefully, one will see that the words ‘aforementioned heretics’ do not mean the objects of the Anathema. i e. the ecumenists. These words refer to the heretics mentioned in the first phrases of the anathema. i.e. the heretics previously identified by the Church, such as Roman Catholics, Protestants, etc. The Anathema therefore denounces those who would have communion with Roman Catholics, for example.
The First Sorrowful Epistle of Metropolitan Philaret
OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA
75 EAST 93rd STREET, NEW YORK, N.Y. 10028
Telephone: LEhigh 4-1601
TO THEIR HOLINESSES AND THEIR BEATITUDES
THE PRIMATES OF THE HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCHES
THE MOST REVEREND METROPOLITANS, ARCHBISHOPS, AND BISHOPS:
A SORROWFUL EPISTLE
THE HUMBLE PHILARET,
METROPOLITAN OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX
CHURCH OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA
The Holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church have exhorted us to keep the Truth of Orthodoxy as the apple of our eye. And Our Lord Jesus Christ, teaching His Disciples to maintain every jot and title of the Divine Law intact said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. v. 19). He sent His disciples to teach the doctrines He gave them to all nations in a pure and unadulterated form, and that duty then devolved upon each of us Bishops, as the successors to the Apostles. We are also taught to do this by the dogmatic definition of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which says: “We keep unchanged all the ecclesiastical traditions handed down to us, whether in writing or by word of mouth.” And the Holy Fathers of that Council added, in their first Canon: “The pattern for those who have received the sacerdotal dignity is found in the testimonies and instructions laid down in the canonical constitutions, which we receiving with a glad mind sing unto the Lord God in the words of the God-inspired David, saying: ‘I have had as great delight in the way of Thy testimonies as in all manner of riches.’ ‘Thou hast commanded righteousness as Thy testimonies for ever.’ ‘Grant me understanding and I shall live.’ Now if the word of prophecy bids us keep the testimonies of God forever and to live by them, it is evident that they must abide unshaken and without change.”
Every one of us solemnly promises at his consecration to abide by our Faith and to obey the canons of the Holy Fathers, vowing before God to keep Orthodoxy inviolate from the temptations and errors which creep into the Church’s life.
If a temptation appears in the fold of only one Orthodox Church, the remedy for it may be found in the same fold. But if a particular evil penetrates into all our Churches, it becomes a matter of concern for every single Bishop. Can any one of us be silent if he sees that many of his brethren simultaneously are walking along a path that leads them and their flock to a disastrous precipice through their unwitting loss of Orthodoxy?
Should we say in this case that humility commands us to keep silent? Should we regard it as indiscreet to lend advice to other descendants of the Holy Apostles, some of whom are occupying the most ancient and distinguished sees?
But Orthodoxy believes in the equality of all Bishops as regards grace, and distinguishes between them only as regards honor.
Should we be satisfied with the fact that every Church is responsible for itself? But what if the statements which trouble the faithful are made in the name of the whole Church, and therefore also involve our name, even though we have not authorized anybody to use it?
St. Gregory the Theologian once said that there are occasions “when even by silence truth can be betrayed.” Should we not also be betraying the truth if, on noticing a deviation from pure Orthodoxy, we merely kept silence—always an easier and safer thing to do than speaking out?
We observe, however, that nobody in a higher position than our own is raising his voice; and this fact constrains us to speak out, lest at the Last Judgment we should be reproached for having seen the danger of Ecumenism threaten the Church, and yet not having warned her Bishops.
To be sure, we have already addressed His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras and His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos of North and South America, expressing our grief and concern over their ecumenical activities, in which the birthright of the Church has been sold for a mess of pottage in the form of the world’s applause. But the position taken by the Orthodox delegates at the Assembly of the World Council of Churches at Uppsala makes the concern of the zealots of Orthodoxy even more acute, and makes it necessary for us to communicate our sorrow and confusion to all our Brother Orthodox Bishops.
We may be asked why we write about that Assembly only now, nearly a year after the closing of its sessions. Our answer is that on this occasion we had no observers present, and obtained information about the Assembly only from the press, the accuracy of which is not always to be relied upon. Therefore we were awaiting the official reports; and having studied them, we find it imperative to address this letter to all the Orthodox Bishops whom the Lord has appointed to take care of His Church on earth.
The report on the Uppsala Assembly shocked us greatly, because from it we could see more clearly than ever how far the error of Ecumenism is winning the official approval of a number of our Churches.
When the first steps were taken in the organization of the Ecumenical Movement, many of the Orthodox Churches, following the initiative of the Patriarch of Constantinople, began to participate in its conferences. At the time such participation did not cause any worry even among the most zealous Orthodox. They thought that the Church would suffer no injury if her representatives appeared among various truth-seeking Protestants with the aim of presenting Orthodoxy in the face of their various errors. Such a participation in inter-faith conferences could be thought of as having a missionary character.
This position was still maintained to a certain extent, though not always consistently, at the Evanston Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1954. There the Orthodox delegates openly stated that the decisions of the Assembly diverged so sharply from our teaching on the Church that they were unable in any way to join with the others in accepting them. Instead, they expressed the doctrine of the Orthodox Church in separate statements.
Those statements were so plain that, in fact, they should have issued in the logical conclusion that the Orthodox ought not to remain as members of the World Council of Churches on the same basis as others. The Protestants might well have asked them: “If you disagree with our basic principles, why are you with us?” We know that in private conversations some Protestants did use to say this, but the question was not raised in the plenary sessions. Thus the Orthodox remained as members of an organization the disparate origin of which they had just so clearly illustrated.
But what do we see now?
The Pan-Orthodox Conference in Geneva in June 1968 took a different course. It expressed “the general desire of the Orthodox Church to be an organic member of the World Council of Churches and its decision to contribute in all ways to its progress, theological and otherwise, to the promotion and good development of the whole of the work of the World Council of Churches.” His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras informed the World Council of this decision in his special letter dated June 30, 1968. There were no reservations; no mention was made of any missionary aims, either in the one case or the other.
We must be very clear as to what sort of religious union it is of which the Orthodox Church has been declared “an organic member,” and what the dogmatic implications of such a decision are.
In 1950, in Toronto, certain basic statements were accepted by the World Council of Churches which, while more cautious than the present statements, were already not in conformity with the Orthodox doctrine of the Church. On p. 4 it was then stated that “The member Churches of the World Council consider the relationship of other Churches to the Holy Catholic Church which the Creeds profess as a subject for mutual consideration.” This statement is already unacceptable for us because the Church is spoken of not as actually existing in the world, but as some kind of abstract entity mentioned in various Creeds. However, even then, on p. 3, we read: “The member Churches recognize that the membership of the Church of Christ is more inclusive than the membership of their own church body” (Six Ecumenical Surveys, New York, 1954, p. 13). But since in the preceding point (No. 2) it was stated that “The member Churches of the World Council believe on the basis of the New Testament that the Church of Christ is one,” there is either an implicit contradiction or else the profession of a new doctrine—viz., that no one can belong to the One Church without believing in her doctrines and without having liturgical unity with her.
The separate statements made in Evanston four years later on behalf of all the Orthodox delegates somewhat improved the situation, because they clearly showed that Orthodox Ecclesiology differs so much in essence from Protestant Ecclesiology that it is impossible to compose a joint statement. Now, however, the Orthodox participants in the World Council of Churches act differently; in an effort to unite truth with error, they have abandoned the principle expressed at Evanston. If all the Orthodox Churches are organic members of the World Council of Churches, then all the decisions of that Council are made in their name as well as in the name of the Protestants.
If initially the Orthodox participated in ecumenical meetings only to present the truth, performing, so to speak, a missionary service among confessions foreign to Orthodoxy, then now they have combined with them, and anyone can say that what was said at Uppsala was also said by the member Orthodox Churches in the person of their delegates. Alas that it should be said in the name of the whole Orthodox Church!
We regard it as our duty to protest in the strongest possible terms against this state of affairs. We know that in this protest we have with us all the Holy Fathers of the Church. Also with us are not only the hierarchy, clergy, and laymen of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, but those members of other Orthodox Churches who agree with us as well.
We take the liberty of saying that it seems our Brother Bishops have treated this matter without sufficient attention, without realizing how far our Church is being drawn into the sphere of anti-canonical and even of anti-dogmatical agreements with the heterodox. This fact is especially clear if one turns to the initial statements of the representatives of the Orthodox Churches as compared with what is taking place at present.
At the Conference in Lausanne in 1937, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Metropolitan Germanos, clearly stated that restoring unity with the Church means for Protestants that they must return to the doctrines of the ancient Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. “And what are the elements of the Christian doctrines,” he said, “which should be regarded as necessary and essential? According to the understanding of the Orthodox Church there is no need now to make definitions of those necessary elements of faith, because they are already made in the ancient Creeds and the decisions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. Therefore this teaching of the ancient undivided Church should be the basis of the reunion of the Church.” That was the position taken by all the Orthodox delegates at the Lausanne and Oxford Conferences.
As for our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, her views were expressed with particular clarity upon the appointment of a representative to the Committee for Continuation of the Conference on Faith and Order on December 18/31, 1931. That decision was as follows:
“Maintaining the belief in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, the Synod of Bishops professes that the Church has never been divided. The question is only who belongs to her and who does not. At the same time the Synod warmly greets the efforts of heterodox confessions to study Christ’s teaching on the Church with the hope that by such study, especially with the participation of the representatives of the Holy Orthodox Church, they may at last come to the conviction that the Orthodox Church, being the pillar and the ground of the truth (I Tim. iii. 15), fully and with no faults has maintained the doctrine given by Christ the Savior to His disciples. With that Faith and with such hope the Synod of Bishops accepts the invitation of the Committee for Continuation of the Conference on Faith and Order.”
Here everything is clear and nothing is left unsaid. This statement is essentially in agreement with what also used to be said at that time by official representatives of other Orthodox Churches.
What, then, has changed? Have the Protestants abandoned their errors? No. They have not changed, and the Church has not changed; only the persons who are now said to represent her have changed.
If the representatives of the Orthodox Churches had only continued firmly maintaining the basic principles of our belief in the Church, they would not have brought the Orthodox Church into the ambiguous position which was created for her by the decision of the Geneva Conference last year.
Since the Assembly of the World Council of Churches in New Delhi, the Orthodox delegates no longer make separate statements, but have merged into one mass with the Protestant confessions. Thus all the decisions of the Uppsala Assembly are made in the name of “the Church,” which is always spoken of in the singular.
Who is speaking? Who gave these people the right to make ecclesiological statements not merely on their own behalf, but also on behalf of the Orthodox Church?
We ask you, Most Reverend Brothers, to check the list of the Churches participating in the Ecumenical Movement and in the World Council of Churches. Take, for instance, at least the first lines of the list on page 444 of The Uppsala 68 Report.
There you will find the following names: Evangelical Church of the River Plata, Methodist Church of Australia, Churches of Christ in Australia, The Church of England of Australia, Congregational Union of Australia, Presbyterian Church of Australia ….
Is it necessary to continue the list? Is it not clear that beginning with the very first lines, confessions are included which differ greatly from Orthodoxy, which deny sacraments, hierarchy, Church tradition, holy canons, which do not venerate the Mother of God and the Saints, etc.? We should have to enumerate nearly all of our dogmas in order to point out what in our Orthodox doctrines is not accepted by the majority of the members of the World Council of Churches—of which, however, the Orthodox Church is now nevertheless alleged to be an organic member.
Yet in the name of this union of the various representatives of all possible heresies, the Uppsala Assembly constantly states: “The Church professes,” “The Church teaches,” “The Church does this and that ….”
Out of this mixture of errors, which have gone so far astray from Tradition, the published decision on “The Holy Spirit and the Catholicity of the Church” makes the statement: “The Holy Spirit has not only preserved the Church in continuity with the past; He is also continuously present in the Church, effecting her inward renewal and re-creation.”
The question is: Where is the “continuity with the past” among the Presbyterians? Where is the presence of the Holy Spirit among those who do not recognize any mysteries? How can one speak of the catholicity of those who do not accept the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils?
If these doctrinal decisions were preceded by words indicating that one part of the Churches observes one doctrine, and the other a different doctrine, and the teaching of the Orthodox Church were stated separately, that would be consistent with reality. But such is not the case, and in the name of various confessions they say: “The Church teaches…. “
This in itself is a proclamation of the Protestant doctrine of the Church as comprising all those who call themselves Christians, even if they have no intercommunion. But without accepting that doctrine, it is impossible to be an organic member of the World Council of Churches, because that doctrine is the basis of the whole ideology on which this organization rests.
True, the resolution “On the Holy Spirit and the Catholicity of the Church” is followed by a note in fine print which says that since this resolution provoked such a great diversity of views, this decision is not final but only a summary of the matters considered in the Section. However, there are not such remarks regarding other similar resolutions. The minutes contain no evidence that the Orthodox delegates made any statements to the effect that the Assembly might not speak in the name of the Church in the singular; and the Assembly does so everywhere, in all its resolutions, which never have such qualifying remarks attached.
On the contrary, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, in his reply to the greeting of the Swedish Archbishop, said in the name of the Assembly, “As you well know, the Church universal is called by a demanding world to give ample evidence of its faith” (The Uppsala 69 Report, p. 103).
Of what “Church universal” did Archbishop Iakovos speak? Of the Orthodox Church? No. He spoke here of the “Church” uniting all confessions, of the Church of the World Council of Churches.
A tendency to speak in this fashion is especially conspicuous in the report of the Committee on Faith and Order. In the resolution upon its report, following statements about the success of Ecumenism, it says: “We are in agreement with the decision of the Faith and Order Commission at its Bristol meeting to pursue its study program of the unity of the Church in the wider context of the study of the unity of mankind and of creation. We welcome at the same time the statement of the Faith and Order Commission that its task remains ‘to proclaim the oneness of the Church of Jesus Christ’ and to keep before the Council and the churches ‘the obligation to manifest that unity for the sake of their Lord and for the better accomplishment of his mission in the world'” (ibid., p. 223).
The implication is clear in all these resolutions that, notwithstanding the outward separation of the Churches, their internal unity still exists. The aim of Ecumenism is in this world to make this inner unity also an outward one through various manifestations of such aspirations.
In order to evaluate all this from the point of view of the Orthodox Church, it is sufficient to imagine the reception it would find among the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils. Can anybody imagine the Orthodox Church of that period declaring itself an organic member of a society uniting Eunomians or Anomoeans, Arians, Semi-Arians, Sabellians, and Apollinarians?
Certainly not! On the contrary, Canon I of the Second Ecumenical Council does not call for union with such groups, but anathematizes them. Subsequent Ecumenical Councils did the same in regard to other heresies.
The organic membership of Orthodox Christians in one body with modern heretics will not sanctify the latter, but does alienate those Orthodox from the catholic Orthodox unity. That unity is not limited to the modern age. Catholicity embraces all the generations of the Holy Fathers. St. Vincent of Lérins, in his immortal work, writes that “for Christians to declare something which they did not previously accept has never been permitted, is never permitted, and never will be permitted,—but to anathematize those who proclaim something outside of that which was accepted once and for ever, has always been a duty, is always a duty, and always will be a duty.”
Perhaps somebody will say that times have changed, and heresies now are not so malicious and destructive as in the days of the Ecumenical Councils. But are those Protestants who renounce the veneration of the Theotokos and the Saints, who do not recognize the grace of the hierarchy,—or the Roman Catholics, who have invented new errors,—are they nearer to the Orthodox Church than the Arians or Semi-Arians?
Let us grant that modern preachers of heresy are not so belligerent towards the Orthodox Church as the ancient ones were. However, that is not because their doctrines are nearer to Orthodox teaching, but because Protestantism and Ecumenism have built up in them the conviction that there is no One and True Church on earth, but only communities of men who are in varying degrees of error. Such a doctrine kills any zeal in professing what they take to be the truth, and therefore modern heretics appear to be less obdurate than the ancient ones. But such indifference to truth is in many respects worse than the capacity to be zealous in defense of an error mistaken for truth. Pilate, who said “What is truth?” could not be converted; but Saul, the persecutor of Christianity, became the Apostle Paul. That is why we read in the Book of Revelation the menacing words to the Angel of the Church of Laodicea: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (iii. 15-16).
Ecumenism makes the World Council of Churches a society in which every member, with Laodicean indifference, recognizes himself and others as being in error, and is concerned only about finding phrases which will express that error in terms acceptable to all. Is there any room here as an “organic member” for the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, which has always professed itself to be holy and without blemish because its Head is Christ Himself (Eph. v. 27)?
The LVII (LXVI in the Athens Syntagma) Canon of Carthage says of the Church that she is “the one spoken of as a dove (Song of Songs, vi.9) and sole mother of Christians, in whom all the sanctifying gifts, savingly everlasting and vital are received—which, however, inflict upon those persisting in heresy the great punishment of damnation.”
We also feel it is our duty to declare that it is impossible to recognize the Russian Church as legally and duly represented at the Pan-Orthodox Conferences called by His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras. Those Bishops who participate in these Conferences in the name of the Russian Church with Metropolitan Nikodim at their head, do not represent the authentic Russian Church. They represent only those Bishops who by the will of an atheistic Government bear the titles of certain Dioceses of the Church of Russia. We have already had occasion to write about this matter to His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras. These persons participate in meetings abroad only in so far as such participation is profitable to their civil authorities, the most cruel in the history of the world. Nero’s ferocity and Julian the Apostate’s hatred of Christianity are pallid in comparison.
Is it not to the influence of that Government that we must largely ascribe the political resolutions of the Uppsala Assembly, which repeat many slogans widely observable in Communist propaganda in the West?
In the concluding speech of the Chairman, Dr. Payne, it was said that “the Church of Jesus Christ must show actively the compassion of Christ in a needy world.” But neither he nor anybody else said a word about the millions of Christians martyred in the U.S.S.R.; nobody spoke a word of compassion about their plight.
It is good to express compassion for the hungry in Biefra, for those who constantly suffer from fighting in the Middle East or in Vietnam; but does that cover all the human afflictions of the present time? Can it be that the members of the World Council of Churches know nothing about the persecutions of Religion in the U.S.S.R.? Do they not know what iniquity is reigning there? Do they not know that martyrs for the Faith there are counted in the millions, that the Holy Scriptures are not published there and that people are sentenced to banishment with hard labor for distributing them? Do they not know that children there are prevented from lessons in the basic principles of Religion, and even from attending religious services? Do they not know of the thousands who have been banished for their Faith, about the children wrested from their parents to prevent them from receiving religious upbringing?
All this is certainly well known to anybody who reads the newspapers, but it is never mentioned in any resolution of the World Council of Churches. The ecumenical priests and Levites are passing by in silence and without interest, without so much as a glance in the direction of the Christians persecuted in the U.S.S.R. They are silent because the official representatives of the Church of Russia, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, deny the existence of these persecutions in order to please their civil authorities.
These people are not free. Whether they wish to or not, they are forced to speak in obedience to orders from Communist Moscow. The burden of persecution makes them more deserving of compassion than of blame. But being moral prisoners of the godless, they cannot be true spokesmen for the Russian Orthodox Church, suffering, deprived of any rights, forced to be silent, driven into catacombs and prisons.
The late Patriarch Sergius and the present Patriarch Alexis were elected in violation of the rules which were instituted by the All-Russian Church Council of 1917 at the restoration of the Patriarchate. Both were chosen according to the instructions of Stalin, the fiercest persecutor of the Church in history.
Can you imagine a Bishop of Rome chosen according to the instructions of Nero? But Stalin was many times worse.
The hierarchs selected by Stalin had to promise their obedience to an atheistic Government whose aim, according to the Communist program, is the annihilation of Religion. The present Patriarch Alexis wrote to Stalin immediately after the death of his predecessor that he would observe fidelity to his Government: “Acting fully in concert with the Council for the Affairs of the Russian Orthodox Church and also with the Holy Synod instituted by the late Patriarch, I will be secure from mistakes and wrong actions.”
Everybody knows that “mistakes and wrong actions” in the language of the Moscow masters means any violation of the instructions given by the Communist authorities.
We can pity an unfortunate old man, but we cannot recognize him as the Head of the Russian Church, of which we regard ourselves an inseparable part. Both to Patriarch Alexis and his collaborators the sanctions of the XXX Apostolic Canon and Canon III of the Seventh Ecumenical Council can be doubly applied: “If any bishop, making use of the secular powers, shall by their means obtain jurisdiction over any church, he shall be deposed, and also excommunicated, together with all who remain in communion with him.”
Bishop Nikodim of Dalmatia, in his commentary on the XXX Apostolic Canon, says: “If the Church condemned the unlawful influence of civil authorities on the appointment of a bishop at a time when the Rulers were Christians, how much the more so, consequently, she had to condemn it when they were heathens.” What is there to say, therefore, when a Patriarch and Bishops are installed by the open and militant enemies of their religion?
When one part of the Russian Episcopate, together with the late Patriarch (at that time Metropolitan) Sergius, took the course of agreeing with the enemies of the Church in 1927, a large (and the most respected) part of that Episcopate, with Metropolitan Joseph of Leningrad and the first candidate of Patriarch Tikhon for the office of locum tenens, Metropolitan Cyrill of Kazan, did not agree to go along with him, preferring banishment and martyrdom. Metropolitan Joseph by that time had already come to the conclusion that, in the face of a Government which openly had as its goal the destruction of Religion by the use of any available means, the legal existence of a Church Administration becomes practically impossible without entailing compromises which are too great and too sinful. He therefore started secret ordinations of Bishops and priests, in that way organizing the Catacomb Church which still exists in hiding.
The atheists seldom mention the Catacomb Church, being afraid of giving her too much publicity. Only very rarely in the Soviet Press is the news of some trial of her members mentioned. Information about her, however, is given in manuals for anti-religious workers in the U.S.S.R. For instance, the basic information about this Church, under the name of “The Truly Orthodox Church,” is given in a manual with the title of Slovar Ateista (“The Atheist’s Dictionary”), published in Moscow in 1964.
With no open churches, in secret meetings similar to the catacomb meetings of the early Christians, these confessors of the Faith perform their services unseen by the outer world. They are the true representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose greatness will become known to the world only after the downfall of the Communist power.
For these reasons, although representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate participated in the decisions of the Pan-Orthodox Conference in Geneva last year, and particularly in regard to making the Orthodox Church an organic member of the World Council of Churches,—we look upon that decision as having been accepted without the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church. That Church is forced to stay silent, and we, as her free representatives, are grieved by the fact that such a decision was accepted. We categorically protest that decision as being contrary to the very nature itself of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
The poison of heresy is not too dangerous when it is preached only from outside the Church. Many times more perilous is that poison which is gradually introduced into the organism in larger and larger doses by those who, in virtue of their position, should not be poisoners but spiritual physicians.
Can it be that the Orthodox Episcopate will remain indifferent to that danger? Will it not be too late to protect our spiritual flock when the wolves are devouring the sheep before their pastors’ eyes, inside the very sheepfold itself?
Do we not see the divine sword already raised (Matt. x. 34), separating those who are true to the traditional faith of the Holy Church from those who, in the words of His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras in his greeting to the Uppsala Assembly, are working to shape the “new drive in the ecumenical movement” for the “fulfillment of the general Christian renewal” on the paths of reformation and indifference to the truth?
It seems that we have shown clearly enough that this apparent unity is not unity in the truth of Orthodoxy, but a unity that mixes white with black, good with evil, and truth with error.
We have already protested against the unorthodox ecumenical actions of His Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras and Archbishop Iakovos in letters which were widely distributed to Bishops of the Orthodox Church in various countries. We have received from different parts of the world expressions of agreement with us.
But now the time has come to make our protest heard more loudly still, and then even yet more loudly, so as to stop the action of this poison before it has become as potent as the ancient heresies of Arianism, Nestorianism, or Eutychianism, which in their time so shook the whole body of the Church as to make it seem that heresy was apt to overcome Orthodoxy.
We direct our appeal to all the Bishops of the Orthodox Church, imploring them to study the subject of this letter and to rise up in defense of the purity of the Orthodox Faith. We also ask them very much to pray for the Russian Orthodox Church, so greatly suffering from the atheists, that the Lord might shorten the days of her trial and send her freedom and peace.
In New York,
Sunday of the Sixth Ecumenical Council,
14/27 July, 1969
The Second Sorrowful Epistle of Metropolitan Philaret
OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA
75 EAST 93rd STREET, NEW YORK, N.Y. 10028
Telephone: LEhigh 4-1601
A SECOND SORROWFUL EPISTLE
TO THEIR HOLINESSES AND THEIR BEATITUDES,
THE PRIMATES OF THE HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCHES,
THE MOST REVEREND METROPOLITANS, ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS.
The People of the Lord residing in his Diocese are entrusted to the Bishop, and he will be required to give account of their souls according to the 39th Apostolic Canon. The 34th Apostolic Canon orders that a Bishop may do “those things only which concern his own Diocese and the territories belonging to it.”
There are, however, occasions when events are of such a nature that their influence extends beyond the limits of one Diocese, or indeed those of one or more of the local Churches. Events of such a general, global nature can not be ignored by any Orthodox Bishop, who, as a successor of the Apostles, is charged with the protection of his flock from various temptations. The lightening-like speed with which ideas may be spread in our times make such care all the more imperative now.
In particular, our flock, belonging to the free part of the Church of Russia, is spread out all over the world. What has just been stated, therefore, is most pertinent to it.
As a result of this, our Bishops, when meeting in their Councils, cannot confine their discussions to the narrow limits of pastoral and administrative problems arising in their respective Dioceses, but must in addition turn their attention to matters of a general importance to the whole Orthodox World, since the affliction of one Church is as “an affliction unto them all, eliciting the compassion of them all” (Phil. 4:14-16; Heb. 10:30). And if the Apostle St. Paul was weak with those who were weak and burning with those who were offended, how then can we Bishops of God remain indifferent to the growth of errors which threaten the salvation of the souls of many of our brothers in Christ?
It is in the spirit of such a feeling that we have already once addressed all the Bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church with a Sorrowful Epistle. We rejoiced to learn that, in harmony with our appeal, several Metropolitans of the Church of Greece have recently made reports to their Synod calling to its attention the necessity of considering ecumenism a heresy and the advisability of reconsidering the matter of participation in the World Council of Churches. Such healthy reactions against the spreading of ecumenism allow us to hope that the Church of Christ will be spared this new storm which threatens her.
Yet, two years have passed since our Sorrowful Epistle was issued, and, alas! although in the Church of Greece we have seen the new statements regarding ecumenism as un-Orthodox, no Orthodox Church has announced its withdrawal from the World Council of Churches.
In the Sorrowful Epistle, we depicted in vivid colors to what extent the organic membership of the Orthodox Church in that Council, based as it is upon purely Protestant principles, is contrary to the very basis of Orthodoxy. In this Epistle, having been authorized by our Council of Bishops, we would further develop and extend our warning, showing that the participants in the ecumenical movement are involved in a profound heresy against the very foundation of the Church.
The essence of that movement has been given a clear definition by the statement of the Roman Catholic theologian Ives M. J. Congar. He writes that “this is a movement which prompts the Christian Churches to wish the restoration of the lost unity, and to that end to have a deep understanding of itself and understanding of each other.” He continues, “It is composed of all the feelings, ideas, actions or institutions, meetings or conferences, ceremonies, manifestations and publications which are directed to prepare the reunion in new unity not only of (separate) Christians, but also of the actually existing Churches.” Actually, he continues, “the word ecumenism, which is of Protestant origin, means now a concrete reality: the totality of all the aforementioned upon the basis of a certain attitude and a certain amount of very definite conviction (although not always very clear and certain). It is not a desire or an attempt to unite those who are regarded as separated into one Church which would be regarded as the only true one. It begins at just that point where it is recognized that, at the present state, none of the Christian confessions possesses the fullness of Christianity, but even if one of them is authentic, still, as a confession, it does not contain the whole truth. There are Christian values outside of it belonging not only to Christians who are separated from it in creed, but also to other Churches and other confessions as such” (Chretiens Desunis, Ed. Unam Sanctam, Paris, 1937, pp. XI-XII). This definition of the ecumenical movement made by a Roman Catholic theologian 35 years ago continues to be quite as exact even now, with the difference that during the intervening years this movement has continued to develop further with a newer and more dangerous scope.
In our first Sorrowful Epistle, we wrote in detail on how incompatible with our Ecclesiology was the participation of Orthodox in the World Council of Churches, and presented precisely the nature of the violation against Orthodoxy committed in the participation of our Churches in that council. We demonstrated that the basic principles of that council are incompatible with the Orthodox doctrine of the Church. We, therefore, protested against the acceptance of that resolution at the Geneva Pan-Orthodox Conference whereby the Orthodox Church was proclaimed an organic member of the World Council of Churches.
Alas! These last few years are richly laden with evidence that, in their dialogues with the heterodox, some Orthodox representatives have adopted a purely Protestant ecclesiology which brings in its wake a Protestant approach to questions of the life of the Church, and from which springs forth the now-popular modernism.
Modernism consists in that bringing-down, that re-aligning of the life of the Church according to the principles of current life and human weaknesses. We saw it in the Renovation Movement and in the Living Church in Russia in the twenties. At the first meeting of the founders of the Living Church on May 29, 1922, its aims were determined as a “revision and change of all facets of Church life which are required by the demands of current life” (The New Church, Prof. B. V. Titlinov, Petrograd-Moscow, 1923, p. 11). The Living Church was an attempt at a reformation adjusted to the requirements of the conditions of a communist state. Modernism places that compliance with the weaknesses of human nature above the moral and even doctrinal requirements of the Church. In that measure that the world is abandoning Christian principles, modernism debases the level of religious life more and more. Within the Western confessions we see that there has come about an abolition of fasting, a radical shortening and vulgarization of religious services, and, finally, full spiritual devastation, even to the point of exhibiting an indulgent and permissive attitude toward unnatural vices of which St. Paul said it was shameful even to speak.
It was just modernism which was the basis of the Pan-Orthodox Conference of sad memory in Constantinople in 1923, evidently not without some influence of the renovation experiment in Russia. Subsequent to that conference, some Churches, while not adopting all the reforms which were there introduced, adopted the Western calendar, and even, in some cases, the Western Paschalia. This, then, was the first step onto the path of modernism of the Orthodox Church, whereby Her way of life was changed in order to bring it closer to the way of life of heretical communities. In this respect, therefore, the adoption of the Western Calendar was a violation of a principle consistent in the Holy Canons, whereby there is a tendency to spiritually isolate the Faithful from those who teach contrary to the Orthodox Church, and not to encourage closeness with such in our prayer-life (Titus 3:10; 10th, 45th, and 65th Apostolic Canons; 32nd, 33rd, and 37th Canons of Laodicea, etc.). The unhappy fruit of that reform was the violation of the unity of the life in prayer of Orthodox Christians in various countries. While some of them were celebrating Christmas together with heretics, others still fasted. Sometimes such a division occurred in the same local Church, and sometimes Easter [Pascha] was celebrated according to the Western Paschal reckoning. For the sake, therefore, of being nearer to the heretics, that principle, set forth by the First Ecumenical Council that all Orthodox Christians should simultaneously, with one mouth and one heart, rejoice and glorify the Resurrection of Christ all over the world, is violated.
This tendency to introduce reforms, regardless of previous general decisions and practice of the whole Church in violation of the Second Canon of the VI Ecumenical Council, creates only confusion. His Holiness, the Patriarch of Serbia, Gabriel, of blessed memory, expressed this feeling eloquently at the Church Conference held in Moscow in 1948.
“In the last decades,” he said, “various tendencies have appeared in the Orthodox Church which evoke reasonable apprehension for the purity of Her doctrines and for Her dogmatical and canonical Unity.
“The convening by the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Pan-Orthodox Conference and the Conference at Vatopedi, which had as their principal aim the preparing of the Prosynod, violated the unity and cooperation of the Orthodox Churches. On the one hand, the absence of the Church of Russia at these meetings, and, on the other, the hasty and unilateral actions of some of the local Churches and the hasty actions of their representatives have introduced chaos and anomalies into the life of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
“The unilateral introduction of the Gregorian Calendar by some of the local Churches while the Old Calendar was kept yet by others, shook the unity of the Church and incited serious dissension within those of them who so lightly introduced the New Calendar” (Acts of the Conferences of the Heads and Representatives of the Autocephalic Orthodox Churches, Moscow, 1949, Vol. II, pp. 447-448).
Recently, Prof. Theodorou, one of the representatives of the Church of Greece at the Conference in Chambesy in 1968, noted that the calendar reform in Greece was hasty and noted further that the Church there suffers even now from the schism it caused (Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, 1969, No. 1, p. 51).
It could not escape the sensitive consciences of many sons of the Church that within the calendar reform, the foundation is already laid for a revision of the entire order of Orthodox Church life which has been blessed by the Tradition of many centuries and confirmed by the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils. Already at that Pan-Orthodox Conference of 1923 at Constantinople, the questions of the second marriage of clergy as well as other matters were raised. And recently, the Greek Archbishop of North and South America, Iakovos, made a statement in favor of a married episcopate (The Hellenic Chronicle, December 23, 1971).
The strength of Orthodoxy has always lain in Her maintaining the principles of Church Tradition. Despite this, there are those who are attempting to include in the agenda of a future Great Council not a discussion of the best ways to safeguard those principles, but, on the contrary, ways to bring about a radical revision of the entire way of life in the Church, beginning with the abolition of fasts, second marriages of the clergy, etc., so that Her way of life would be closer to that of the heretical communities.
In our first Sorrowful Epistle we have shown in detail the extent to which the principles of the World Council of Churches are contrary to the doctrines of the Orthodox Church, and we protested against the decision taken in Geneva at the Pan-Orthodox Conference declaring the Orthodox Church to be an organic member of that council. Then we reminded all that, “the poison of heresy is not too dangerous when it is preached outside the Church. Many times more perilous is that poison which is gradually introduced into the organism in larger and larger doses by those who, in virtue of their position, should not be poisoners but spiritual physicians.”
Alas! Of late we see the symptoms of such a great development of ecumenism with the participation of the Orthodox, that it has become a serious threat, leading to the utter annihilation of the Orthodox Church by dissolving Her in an ocean of heretical communities.
The problem of unity is not discussed now on the level at which it used to be considered by the Holy Fathers. For them unity with the heretics required them to accept the whole of Orthodox doctrine and their return to the fold of the Orthodox Church. Under the prism of the ecumenical movement, however, it is understood that both sides are equally right and wrong; this is applicable to both Roman Catholics and Protestants. Patriarch Athenagoras clearly expressed this in his speech greeting Cardinal Willebrands in Constantinople on November 30, 1969. The Patriarch expressed the wish that the Cardinal’s activities would “mark a new epoch of progress not only in regard to the two of our Churches, but also of all Christians.” The Patriarch gave the definition of the new approach to the problem of unity by saying that, “None of us is calling the other to himself, but, like Peter and Andrew, we both direct ourselves to Jesus, the only and mutual Lord, Who unites us into oneness” (Tomos Agapis, Rome-lstanbul, Document No. 274, pp. 588-589).
The recent exchange of letters between Paul Vl, the Pope of Rome, and the Patriarch Athenagoras further elaborates and develops this unorthodox idea to our great vexation. Encouraged by various statements of the Primate of the Church of Constantinople, the Pope wrote to him on February 8, 1971: ”We remind the believers assembled in the Basilica of St. Peter on the Week of Unity that between our Church and the venerable Orthodox Churches there is an already existing, nearly complete communion, though not fully complete, resulting from our common participation in the mystery of Christ and His Church” (Tomos Agapis, pp.614-615).
A doctrine, new for Roman Catholicism but of long-standing acceptance for Protestanism, is contained in these words. According to it, the separations existing between Christians on earth is actually illusory—they do not reach the heavens. So it is that the words of our Savior regarding the chastisement of those who disobey the Church (Matt. 18:18) are set at naught and regarded as without validity. Such a doctrine is novel not only for us Orthodox, but for the Roman Catholics as well, whose thought on this matter, so different from that of the present, was expressed in 1928 in Pope Pius IX,s Encyclical Mortaliun Animos. Though the Roman Catholics are of those “without” (I Cor. 5:13), and we are not directly concerned with changing trends in their views, their advance nearer to Protestant ecclesiology interests us only insofar as it coincides with the simultaneous acceptance of similar attitudes by Constantinople. Ecumenists of Orthodox background and ecumenists of Protestant-Roman Catholic background arrive at a unanimity of opinion in the same heresy.
Patriarch Athenagoras answered the above quoted letter of the Pope on March 21, 1971, in a similar spirit. When quoting his words, we will italicize the most important phrases. While the Pope, who is not interested in dogmatical harmony, invites the Patriarch “to do all that is possible to speed that much desired day when, at the conclusion of a common concelebration, we will be made worthy to communicate together of the same Cup of the Lord” (ibid.); the Patriarch answered in the same spirit addressing the Pope as ”elder brother” and saying that,” … following the holy desire of the Lord Who would that His Church be One, visible to the entire world, so that the entire world would fit in Her, we constantly and unremittingly surrender ourselves to the guidance of the Holy Spirit unto the firm continuation and completion of the now-begun and developingholy work begun with You in our common Holy desire, to make visible and manifest unto the world the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ” (ibid., pp. 618-619).
Further on the Patriarch writes: “Truly, even though the Church of both east and west have been estranged from each other for offenses known but to the Lord, they are not virtually separated from the communion in the mystery of the God-man Jesus and His Divine-human Church” (ibid., pp. 620).
The Patriarch bitterly mentions that “we were estranged from reciprocal love and the blessed gift of confession in oneness of mind of the faith of Christ was taken from us.” He says that, “we were deprived of the blessing of going up together to the one altar …. and of the full and together communion of the same eucharistic honorable Body and Blood, even though we did not cease to recognize each in the other the validity of apostolic priesthood and the validity of the mystery of the Divine Eucharist” (ibid.). It is at this point in time, however, that the Patriarch notes that, “we are called positively to proceed to the final union in concelebration and communion of the honorable Blood of Christ from the same holy cup” (ibid., pp. 620-623).
In this letter many un-Orthodox ideas are expressed, which, if taken to their logical end, lead us to the most disastrous conclusions. It follows from the quoted words that the ecumenists led by Patriarch Athenagoras do not believe in the Church as She was founded by the Savior. Contrary to His word (Matt. 16:18), that Church no longer exists for them, and the Pope and Patriarch together would “make visible and manifest” a new church which would encompass the whole of mankind. Is it not dreadful to hear these words “make visible and manifest” from the mouth of an Orthodox Patriarch? Is it not a renunciation of the existing Church of Christ? Is it possible to render a new church visible without first renouncing that very Church which was created by the Lord? But for those who belong to Her and who believe in Her, there is no need to make visible and manifest any new Church. Yet even the “old” Church of the Holy Apostles and Fathers is presented by the Pope and the Patriarch in a distorted manner so as to create the illusion in the mind of the reader that She is somehow connected with the new church that they wish to create. To that end they attempt to present the separation between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism as if it never existed.
In their common prayer in the Basilica of St. Peter, Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul Vl stated that they find themselves already united “in the proclamation of the same Gospel, in the same baptism, in the same sacraments and the charismas” (ibid., p.660).
But even if the Pope and Patriarch have declared to be null and void the Anathemas which have existed for nine centuries, does this mean that the reasons for pronouncing them, which are known to all, have ceased to exist? Does this mean that the errors of the Latins which one was required to renounce upon entering the Church no longer exist?
The Roman Catholic Church with which Patriarch Athenagoras would establish liturgical communion, and with which, through the actions of Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and others, the Moscow Patriarchate has already entered into communion, is not even that same church with which the Orthodox Church led by St. Mark of Ephesus refused to enter into a union. That church is even further away from Orthodoxy now, having introduced even more new doctrines and having accepted more and more the principles of reformation, ecumenism and modernism.
In a number of decisions of the Orthodox Church the Roman Catholics were regarded as heretics. Though from time to time they were accepted into the Church in a manner such as that applied to Arians, it is to be noted that for many centuries and even in our time the Greek Churches accepted them by Baptism. If after the centuries following 1054 the Latins were accepted into the Greek and Russian Churches by two rites, that of Baptism or of Chrismation, it was because although everyone recognized them to be heretics, a general rule for the entire Church was not yet established in regard to the means of their acceptance. For instance, when in the beginning of the XII century the Serbian Prince and father of Stephan Nemania was forced into having his son baptized by the Latins upon his subsequent return later to Rasa he baptized him in the Orthodox Church (Short Outline of the Orthodox Churches, Bulgarian, Serbian and Rumanian, E. E. Golubinsky, Moscow, 1871, p. 551). In another monumental work, The History of the Russian Church (Vols. I/II, Moscow, 1904, pp. 806-807), Professor Golubinsky, in describing the stand taken by the Russian Church in regard to the Latins, advances many facts indicating that in applying various ways in receiving the Latins into the fold of the Orthodox Church, at some times baptizing them and at others chrismating them, both the Greeks and Russian Churches assumed that they were heretics.
Therefore, the statement that during those centuries “we did not cease to recognize each in the other the validity of apostolic priesthood and the validity of the mystery of the Divine Eucharist” is absolutely inconsistent with historical fact. The separation between us and Rome existed and exists; further, it is not illusory but actual. The separation appears illusory to those who give no weight to the words of the Savior spoken to His Holy Apostles and through them, to their successors: “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18).
The Savior says, “Verily I say unto you,” and the Patriarch contradicts Him and declares His words to be untrue. It must be concluded from the Patriarch’s words that, although the Latins were regarded as heretics by the whole Orthodox Church, although they could not receive Holy Communion, even though they were accepted into the Church over many centuries by Baptism—and we know of no decision in the East reversing this stand—still, they continued to be members of the Corpus Christi and were not separated from the Sacraments of the Church. In such a statement there is no logic. It evidences a loss of contact with the actual history of the Church. It presents us with an example of application in practice of the Protestant doctrine according to which excommunication from the Church because of dogmatical error does not bar the one excommunicated from membership in Her. In other words, it means that “communion in the mystery of the God-man Jesus” does not necessarily depend upon membership in the Orthodox Church.
In an attempt to find some justification for their ecumenical theory, they are trying to convince us that membership in the Church without full dogmatic agreement with Her was permitted in the past. In his official statement at the Phanar, made when his letter to the Pope was published, Patriarch Athenagoras tried to convince us that notwithstanding the facts mentioned earlier, the Eastern Church did not rupture its communion with Rome, even when dogmatical dissent was obvious.
One can indeed find some solitary instances of communion. In some places even after 1054, some Eastern hierarchs may not have hastened to brand as heresy various wrong doctrines that appeared in the Church of Rome.
But a long ailment before death is still a disease, and the death it causes remains a death, however long it took for it to come to pass. In the case of Rome that process was already evident at the time of St. Photios, but only later, in 1054, did it become a final separation.
The exchange of letters between the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Pope of Rome have made it necessary for us to dwell to no little extent upon the relationship of the Orthodox Church toward the Latins. But Patriarch Athenagoras goes yet beyond equating Papism with Orthodoxy. We speak here of his statement to Roge Schutz, a pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Switzerland. “I wish to make you an avowal,” he said. “You are a priest. I could receive from your hands the Body and Blood of Christ.” On the next day he added, “I could make my confession to you” (Le Monde, May 21, 1970).
Ecumenists of Orthodox background are willing to undermine even the authority of the Ecumenical Councils in order to achieve communion with heretics. This happened during the dialogue with the Monophysites. At the meeting with them in Geneva, a clear Orthodox position was held actually only by one or two of the participants, while the rest manifested the typical ecumenistic tendency to accomplish intercommunion at any cost, even without the attainment of a full dogmatic agreement between the Orthodox and Monophysites. Rev. Dr. John Romanides, the representative of the Church of Greece, was fully justified in stating the following of the Orthodox members at the conference: “We have all along been the object of an ecumenical technique which aims at the accomplishment of intercommunion or communion or union without an agreement on Chalcedon and the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Ecumenical Councils (Minutes of the Conference in Geneva, The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, Vol. XVI, p. 30). As a result of such tactics, one of the resolutions of this conference is actually an agreement to investigate the possibility of drawing up a formula of Concord which would not be a dogmatical statement on the level of a confession of faith, but would rather serve as a basis upon which the Orthodox and the Monophysites could proceed toward union in a common Eucharist (ibid., p. 6).
Despite the categorical statements on the part of the Monophysites that on no account would they accept Chalcedon and the rest of the Ecumenical Councils, the Orthodox delegation signed a resolution recognizing it as unnecessary that the Anathemas be lifted, or that the Orthodox accept Dioscorus and Severus as saints, or that the Monophysites acknowledge Pope Leo to be a saint. The restoration of communion, however, would bear with it the implication that the Anathemas on both sides would cease to be in effect (ibid., p. 6).
At yet another conference in Addis Abbaba, the un-Orthodox statements of representatives of the Orthodox Churches were buttressed by Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad and Rev. V. Borovoy, resulting in a resolution that the mutual Anathemas simply be dropped. “Should there be a formal declaration or ceremony in which the Anathemas are lifted? Many of us felt that it is much simpler to drop these Anathemas in a quiet way as some Churches have begun to do” (ibid., p. 211).
Here again we see in practice the Protestant concept of ecclesiology whereby the excommunication of one for dogmatical error does not prevent heretics from belonging to the Church. Rev. Vitaly Borovoy clearly expresses this attitude in his paper “The Recognition of Saints and the Problem of Anathemas” presented at the conference at Addis Abbaba, clearly asserting that both Monophysites and Roman Catholics are full-fledged members of the Body of Christ. He claims that Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Monophysites have “one Holy Writ, one Apostolic Tradition and sacred origin, the same sacraments, and in essence, a single piety and a single way of salvation” (ibid., p. 246). With such attitudes, is it any surprise that compromise reigns supreme in the relationship between the Orthodox promoters of ecumenism and the Roman Catholics, Protestants and Anti-Chalcedonians?
Outdoing even Patriarch Athenagoras, Metropolitan Nikodim, the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate gave communion to Roman Catholic clergymen in the Cathedral of St. Peter on December 14, 1970. He served the Divine Liturgy there, while in violation of Canons, a choir of the students of the Pontifical College sang and Latin clergymen accepted communion from his hands (Diakonia No. 1, 1971).
Yet, behind these practical manifestations of the so-called ecumenical movement, other broader aims are discernible which lead to the utter abolition of the Orthodox Church.
Both the World Council of Churches and the dialogues between various Christian confessions, and even with other religions (such as, for instance, Islam and Judaism) are links in a chain which in the manner of thinking of ecumenists must grow to include all of mankind. This tendency is already evident at the Assembly of the World Council of Churches at Uppsala in 1967.
According to ecumenists, all this could be accomplished by a special Council, which in their eye would be truly “ecumenical” since they do not recognize the historical Ecumenical Councils as being truly so. The formula is given in the Roman Catholic ecumenical Journal Irenicon, and is as follows:
1. The accomplishment of gestures of reconciliation for which the lifting of the Anathemas of 1054 between Rome and Constantinople can serve as an example.
2. Communion in the Eucharist; in other words a positive solution to the problem of intercommunion.
3. Acceptance of a clear understanding that we all belong to a universal (Christian) entity which should give place to diversity.
4. That Council should be a token of the unity of men in Christ (Irenicon, No. 3, 1971, pp. 322-323).
The same article states that the Roman Catholic Secretariat for Union is working to achieve the same result as Cardinal Willibrands said at Evian. And the Assembly on Faith and Constitution has chosen as its main theme “The Unity of the Church and the Unity of Mankind.” According to a new definition, everything relates to ecumenism “which is connected with the renewal and reunion of the Church as a ferment of the growth of the Kingdom of God in the world of men who are seeking their unity” (Service d’information, No. 9, February, 1970, pp. 10-11). At the conference of the Central Committee in Addis Abbaba, Metropolitan George Khodre made a report which actually tends to connect the Church in some way with all religions. He would see the inspiration of the Holy Spirit even in non-Christian religions so that, according to him, when we communicate of the Body of Christ we are united to all whom our Lord embraces in His love toward mankind (Irenikon, 1971, No. 2, pp. 191-202).
This is where the Orthodox Church is being drawn. Outwardly this movement is manifested by unending “dialogues”; Orthodox representatives are engaged in dialogues with Roman Catholics and Anglicans; they in turn are in dialogue with each other, with Lutherans, other Protestants, and even with Jews, Moslems and Buddhists.
Just recently, the Exarch of Patriarch Athenagoras in North and South America, Archbishop Iakovos, took part in a dialogue with Jews. He noted that as far as he knew, at no other time in history has such “a theological dialogue with Jews taken place under the sponsorship of the Greek Church.” Besides matters of a national character, “the group also agreed to examine liturgy, with Greek Orthodox scholars undertaking to review their liturgical texts in terms of improving references to Jews and Judaism where they are found to be negative or hostile” (Religious News Service, January 27, 1972, pp. 24-25). So it is that Patriarch Athenagoras and other ecumenists do not limit their plans for unia to Roman Catholics and Protestants; their plans are more ambitious.
We have already quoted the words of Patriarch Athenagoras that the Lord desires that “His Church be one, visible to the entire world so that the entire world would fit within Her.” A Greek theologian and former Dean of the Theological Faculty in Athens writes in much the same vein. In evolving the ecumenical idea of the Church, his thought arrives at the same far-reaching conclusions. He asserts that the enemies of ecumenism are thwarting the will of God. According to him, God embraces all men in our planet as members of His one Church yesterday, today and tomorrow as the fullness of that Church (Bulletin Typos Bonne Presse, Athens, March-April 1971).
Although it is obvious to anyone with an elementary grasp of Orthodox Church doctrine that such a conception of the Church differs greatly from that of the Holy Fathers, we find it necessary to underscore the depth of the contradiction.
When and where did the Lord promise that the whole world could be united in the Church? Such an expectation is nothing more than a chiliastic hope with no foundation in the Holy Gospels. All men are called unto salvation; but by no means do all of them respond. Christ spoke of Christians as those given Him from the world (John 17:6). He did not pray for the whole world but for those men given Him from the World. And the apostle St. John teaches that the Church and the world are in opposition to each other, and he exhorts the Christians, saying, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 1:16). Concerning the sons of the Church, the Savior said, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). In the persons of the Apostles the Savior warned the Church that in the world She would have tribulation (John 16:33), explaining to His Disciples: “If you were from the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19). In Holy Scriptures, therefore, we see that a clear distinction is made between the sons of the Church and the rest of mankind. Addressing himself to the faithful in Christ and distinguishing them from unbelievers, St. Peter writes, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people” (I Peter 2:9).
We are in no manner assured in Scripture of the triumph of truth on earth before the end of the world. There is no promise that the world will be transfigured into a church uniting all of mankind as fervent ecumenists believe, but rather there is the warning that religion will be lacking in the last days and Christians will suffer great sorrow and hatred on the part of all nations for the sake of our Savior’s Name (Matt. 24:9-12). While all of mankind sinned in the first Adam, in the second Adam—Christ—only that part of humanity is united in Him which is “born again” (John 3:3 and 7). And although in the material world God “maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 4:45), He does not accept the unjust into His Kingdom. Rather, He addresses them with these menacing words: “Not everyone who saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Doubtlessly our Savior is addressing the heretics when He says: “Many who say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils, and in they name done many wonderful works? And them I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22-23).
So it is that our Lord tells the heretics, “I never knew you”; yet Patriarch Athenagoras tries to convince us that “they were not separated from the communion in the mystery of the God-man Jesus and His Divine-human Church.” It is the belief in the renewal of the whole of mankind within the new and universal church that lends to ecumenism the nature a of chiliastic heresy, which becomes more and more evident in the ecumenistic attempts to unite everyone, disregarding truth and error, and in their tendency to create not only a new church, but a new world. The propagators of this heresy do not wish to believe that the earth and all that is on it shall burn, the heavens shall pass away, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat (II Peter 3:1-12). They forget that it is after this that a new Heaven and a new Earth on which truth will abide will come to be through the creative word of God—not the efforts of human organizations. Therefore the efforts of Orthodox Christians should not be directed to the building of organizations, but toward becoming inhabitants of the new Creation after the Final Judgment through living a pious life in the one true Church. In the meantime, activities aimed at building the Kingdom of God on earth through a fraudulent union of various confessions without regard for the Truth, which is kept only within the Tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church, will only lead us away from the Kingdom of God and into the kingdom of the Antichrist.
It must be understood that the circumstance which prompted our Savior to wonder if at His Second Coming He would find the Faith yet upon the earth is brought about not only by the direct propagation of atheism, but also by the spread of ecumenism.
The history of the Church witnesses that Christianity was not spread by compromises and dialogues between Christians and unbelievers, but through witnessing the truth and rejecting every lie and every error. It might be noted that generally no religion has ever been spread by those who doubted its full truth. The new, all-encompassing “church” which is being erected by the ecumenists is of the nature of that Church of Laodicea exposed in the Book of Revelation: she is lukewarm, neither hot nor cold toward the Truth, and it is to this new “church” that the words addressed by the Angel to the Laodicean Church of old might now be applied: “So that because thou are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:16). Therefore because they have not received “the love that they might be saved,” instead of a religious revival this “church” exhibits that of which the Apostle warned: “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thes. 2:10-12).
It is, therefore, upon the grounds stated above that the Most Reverend Members of our Council of Bishops unanimously agreed to recognize ecumenism as a dangerous heresy. Having observed its spread, they asked us to share our observation with our Brother Bishops throughout the world.
We ask them first of all to pray that the Lord spare His Holy Church the storm which would be caused by this new heresy, opening the spiritual eyes of all unto understanding of truth in the face of error.
May our Lord help each of us to preserve the Truth in the purity in which it was entrusted to us undefiled, and to nurture our flocks in its fidelity and piety.
+ Metropolitan PHILARET
A Report to the Sobor of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
by Archbishop Vitaly of Montreal and Canada
Histories of ecumenism abound, and stalwart defenses of the true Church of Christ against this modern heresy of heresies have appeared with increasing frequency in those few Orthodox publications still able and willing to express the truth. But perhaps not yet with such clarity and succinctness has the very essence of ecumenism been defined, its causes uncovered, the motives of its followers made clear, and its plan set forth, as in the present article. Originally de1ivered as an official report to the full Sobor (Council) of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia 1967, and revised this year in the light of the 1968 Assembly at Uppsala, it can rightfully take its place beside the very recent “Sorrowful Epistle” of Metropolitan Philaret to all Orthodox bishops in the world  as a final trumpet call to those who know and love Christ’s Church to stand apart from the evil of these days and rise to defend the Church. 
THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT, which we now see in its definitive form with the “World Council of Churches” as its chief headquarters, as it were, with its elaborate network of organizations, has passed by stages through a gradual development.
In the first half of the last century its first predecessors appeared: in 1844 in London a certain George Williams founded the so-called YMCA, which as its golden jubilee in 1894 had succeeded in spreading throughout the entire world, and in 1952 counted as many as 10,000 branches with four million members. The founder of this society was himself awarded the Order of Chivalry by Queen Victoria.
Eleven years after the foundation of the YMCA, two women’s societies were organized in England—in the south of England a certain Miss Emma Robarts founded a circle with the purpose of meeting for prayer, and in London Lady Kinnerd founded a society for young ladies with the purpose of practical philanthropy. In 1894 these two societies were merged into one and began to be called by the name already known to all, of YWCA: Young Women s Christian Association.
Although neither the YMCA nor the YWCA had any kind of dogma of its own, still, by their diffuse, hazy, already semi-Christian ideology they created whole cadres of people with a world-view of a purely humanitarian character, with a faith in the organic goodness of human nature in the spirit of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Tolstoy, a world-view in which there was no room, naturally, for any idea either of original sin or of the salvation to be found exclusively in the Church of Christ. To achieve such results a special tactic was employed, acting in two directions: on the one hand, special attention was directed to the development of the body, and under the appearance of preserving health and observing hygiene, there was imperceptibly established a cult of the flesh. On the other hand the soul was educated within the strict framework of emotionality, of sensuousness, with a light-minded attitude toward sin, with playful irony toward the truth of Christian dogmas, encouraging the contemporary view of philanthropy as the distribution of earthly goods not in the name of Christ. Toward pious, church-oriented Christians in these two organizations there was developed a condescendingly-patronizing attitude, as toward good but stupid and unreasonable children. In such a fashion, several generations were raised in pseudo-Christianity.
In 1910, at the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh (Scotland), for the first time the word ecumenism was employed in its contemporary sense; at the same time a new society was founded with the title, Universal Christian Council for Life and Work, which met in 1925 in Stockholm and in 1937 in Oxford, for the study of mutual relations among the various Christian churches.
Parallel to this movement, there was organized yet another new society under the name of World Conference on Faith and Order, which met twice, in 1927 in Lausanne, and in 1937 in Edinburgh, and sec as its aim to bring to light all obstacles to the union of the churches in the sphere of doctrine.
Finally, in 1937, at the two subsequent conferences in Oxford and Edinburgh, it was decided to unite these two movements into one organization—the “World Council of Churches.” The Second World War, however, prevented this organization from undertaking the realization of its aims, but after the war, in 1948, the first Assembly of the World Council of Churches was convoked in Amsterdam, and three Assemblies have followed it: Evanston in 1954, New Delhi in 1961, and Uppsala (Sweden) in 1968.
This brief description of the historical origin of the ecumenical movement would not be complete if we did not mention also the world organization of Boy Scouts, founded also in England in 1908 by Lord Baden Powell. This organization solely for youth, now known to all by its activity, set as its aim to educate youth in an interconfessional, cosmopolitan spirit, with an ideal of human goodness. These three organizations are to the present day the three pillars upon which the whole ecumenical movement rests, and from which it constantly fills up the cadres of its confederates, workers, and simply the mass of people who sympathize with it.
LET US CONSIDER now what psychological, social, political, and spiritual causes favored the appearance and development of ecumenism. As the cornerstone of this Tower of Babylon in-the-making, it is essential to place the complete spiritual decomposition of the Protestant heresy. But if we say together with Tertullian that “the human soul is by nature Christian,” which at that time, in the mouth of this Western teacher of the Church, meant indisputably “by nature Orthodox, —then we can affirm that every heresy by its nature is offensive to the human soul, and sooner or later the human soul must get this heresy out of its system, cast it out of itself. Thus we are witnessing the disgorging of the Protestant heresy; but since in the spiritual world just as in nature there is no vacuum, so the place of this heresy is taken over by ecumenism.
Together with this phenomenon, one should mention the murder of the Imperial Family, the annihilation of the Russian Orthodox Empire which restrained the evil  that now without hindrance is poured out over the whole terrestrial globe. Never during the presence in Europe of the Orthodox Russian State could ecumenism have developed with such a rapid pace, seizing already in its nets all Local Orthodox Churches.
A third cause—the most ominous, in our opinion—is the consolidation throughout the world of masonry, which strives to become a secret world government and which in every way aids, inspires, and finances ecumenism.
In the journal Le Temple, published in Paris, the official organ of Scottish-Rite Masonry, in the article “The Union of the Churches” (no. 3, Sept.-Oct., 1946), masonry itself gives the following acknowledgement of its success:
“We are asked why we enter into disputes of a religious nature, to what extent questions of the union of the churches, ecumenical congresses, etc., can present any interest for masonry. In the bosom of our workshops all doctrines are studied in order that no kind of apriorism may enter into our conclusions. Descartes, Leibnitz, the determinism of Jean Rostand, etc.—everything in which there is some portion of truth interests us. And it is desired that we have no interest in the problem of the evolution of Christian thought! Even if we attempted to forget that masonry has a religious origin, all the same the very fact of the existence of religions would call forth in us a constant endeavor to bind in unity all mortals, in that unity of which we always dream. The problem raised by the plan of the union of the churches that confess Christ closely interests masonry and is akin to masonry, since it contains in itself the idea of universalism. And let us be permitted to add that if this union, at least as concerns the non-Roman confessions, stands on the right path, for this it is obliged to our Order.”
Here is an acknowledgement that reveals to us what it is that is the heart of the entire ecumenical movement.
As A PSYCHOLOGICAL cause that prepared the ground for the successful dissemination of ecumenism, there is likewise the whole rather prolonged epoch of the reign of the English Queen Victoria.
This epoch, with its own special ethics that held the human personality artificially in a spiritual encasement, not healing the passions but driving them into the depths, greatly wearied the Protestant world. This cult of external form made of Protestantism a spiritual compressor of the passions and it, after the death of the Queen—unquestionably a powerful personality—burst and destroyed not only the form-casing of the Protestant world-view, but also what remained of its meager dogmatism.
Thus the YMCA, YWCA, and Scoutism, founded and organized by masonry, prepared whole generations of people  with a special de-Christianized world-view, thanks to which there could arise also the World Council of Churches, which in fact honors itself as the True Church and in its four world Assemblies, pseudo-Ecumenical Councils, has expressed its credo as well.
These four world Assemblies were: Amsterdam, 1948; Evanston, 1954; New Delhi (India), 1961; and Uppsala (Sweden), 1968. Each Assembly has published its acts, from which one may, not without a little effort, bring to light the main points of this pseudo-Christianity. One should, in the first place, note immediately that each conference proceeded under the direction of some principal idea. Thus the Amsterdam Assembly chose as its theme “Human Disorder and God’s Design.” The Evanston Assembly was conducted under the watchword “Christ, the only hope of the world.” The conference in New Delhi proclaimed as its motto “Jesus Christ—the Light of the World.” All these ideas are lacking a concrete basis in theology; they have in themselves nothing doctrinal, nothing dogmatic. They may be interpreted by every Christian religion, each in its own way; there is opened a wide field for wordy debate, an immense opportunity to think without ever thinking anything out, without reaching anything, without coming to any conclusion. Above everything there reigns a fear of dogma. All these ideas are in fact slogans, and if one calls to mind that none of the Assemblies has had its permanent president, but that a secretary is in charge of everything, these Assemblies resemble rather the sessions of a League of Nations or a U.N. for spiritual questions: the same cosmopolitanism, the same vagueness of principles, the same Babylon. Of all four Assemblies, the most successful from the point of view of ecumenism was the one in New Delhi, where the atmosphere of Hindu mysticism in this Mid-Eastern country with its yogis and the particular Hindu lyricism, a cloudy mystique, brought many participants of the conference into ecstasy.
The Assembly in Uppsala took as its motto the words of the Saviour: “Behold, I make all things new.”
However, in studying the acts of these Assemblies, one may see in them a consistent plan and a definite aim. The richest ideologically was indisputably the first Assembly in Amsterdam. At it every effort was applied to destroy the doctrine of the one, true, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, historically living and militant on the earth and triumphant in heaven. The five most prominent theologians of the Protestant world presented each his own lecture. In their midst was also the Orthodox Russian theologian, Fr. Georges Florovsky.
The first speaker, Gustave Aulen, entitled his lecture “The Church in the Light of the New Testament.” To all appearances, and according to his description of the characteristics of the Church, it would appear at first that all his judgments are completely Orthodox; but one is immediately sobered by his indication that all Christians are members of this Church which he so well describes. The Church is, as it were, a synthesis of all churches.
Prof. Clarence Craig translates the word catholic—or, in Church Slavonic, sobornaya—by the word integral. Thus one may say with the ecumenists: I believe in One, holy, integral, apostolic Church, that is to say, the Church of the World Council of Churches. Continuing his arguments, the professor says further: “The Church united the Apostle Paul and the holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. For the former Christ was the end of the Law; for the Apostle Matthew, Christ was the founder of a new law. The Church equally agreed with the moralism of the Apostle James and the mysticism of the Apostle John the Divine. If in the first century there was room in her for such divergences, then there must be a place today also in the Church for a great variety of expressions. This diversity belongs to the nature of the Church’s organism.” Prof. Craig deliberately calls these various gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Apostles “divergences,” whereas it was precisely divergences that the holy Apostles never had.
Prof. John Gregg adds nothing new, but he does even more sharply abolish the boundaries of the Church of Christ, calling that in which he includes all Christians of all persuasions “the Great Church.”
The well-known pro-Communist professor of dogmatic theology at the University of Basel, Karl Barth, who in the same year of 1948 at one of his lectures affirmed that “the only hope for Christians to survive in the present age is to find ways of amalgamating with the most vital current of today—world Communism,” very realistically criticizes the contemporary (of course, Protestant) world, but unfortunately he applies his criticism as if it were to the whole of Christianity, being completely ignorant of Holy Orthodoxy and its grace-giving life. “The Bible,” he says, “dogmatics, catechesis, church discipline, liturgy, preaching and sacrament have become museum exhibits. “He sees the only salvation in the reviving of the Church in the ecumenical movement. Fr. G. Florovsky pays his dues to ecumenism by affirming, like the other professors, that the Church has not yet defined itself, has not yet worked out its theological-school definition, has not somehow come to know itself.
By this these professors wish to say that for the definition of the Church no formula has been found; but Fr. Florovsky should have said in all honesty that for no single dogma is there a formula. There is the teaching of the Holy Church on every dogma, including the dogma of the Church itself, but there is no formula, as this exists in the exact sciences of mathematics, chemistry, and physics.
Having established the fact of the absence of such a formula, ecumenists think that they have now a legal right to create their own conception of the Church, and they have formulated it as a synthesis of all existing churches. This is how an Orthodox priest has served the idea of ecumenism, and this priest has sinned cunningly by a dishonest conception.
THE SECOND ASSEMBLY, in Evanston, was the most colorless from the viewpoint of ecumenism. Its aim was, after the destruction of the dogma of the true, or as they call us, historical Church, to unite all churches that come to them. The reports at the Evanston Assembly are uninteresting, without content; they rather repeat in other forms the same ideas that were expressed at Amsterdam. The teachings of all Christian churches were analyzed and from each there was brought to light that which makes it a part of this universal ecumenical “Great Church.”
One should note, however, one very interesting fact that occurred at this Assembly. For the first time Communism was subjected to criticism from the Christian viewpoint; but even this, to all appearances a positive phenomenon, was rather a fine bit of politics on the part of the directors of the Assembly, who skillfully threw this bone to the Moscow Communists. The maneuver was fully successful, and at the next Assembly of the WCC the Communists compelled the unfortunate Moscow Patriarchate to take part, in order through the mouths of their hierarchs, if not to defend Communism, then in any case to give no opportunity to all the Christians gathered there to raise the question of their persecution of Christianity.
If we recall how the Moscow Patriarchate replied to the invitation to take part in the first ecumenical Assembly, we shall be convinced that its participation in the New Delhi Assembly comprises a slave-like obedience to the Communist Party.
At the Moscow Council of 1948 Archpriest G. Razumovsky was commissioned to reply to the invitation. Here is the text of this reply:
“The Russian Orthodox Church has not taken part and does not take part in a single ecumenical meeting or conference… We are hesitant in determining the causes why representatives of the Church of Constantinople in the ecumenical field of activity, where meetings have been accompanied by joint prayer, have not refused to participate in it. Or has the Patriarchate of Constantinople forgotten its honor as first among Sees in the defense of the canons of the Orthodox Church and not maintained its authority?…”
Quoting then citations from ecumenical reports to the effect that ecumenism is an actual Ecumenical Pentecost, Fr. G. Razamovsky continues:
“The Russian Orthodox Church has always taught and teaches that Pentecost, i.e., the Descent of the Holy Spirit, has already occurred, and that Christians should await now not a new manifestation of the Holy Spirit, but the glorious Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The belittling of the significance of the unique Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the foretelling of a future “third hour” in which will be revealed the awaited Kingdom of the Holy Spirit, are characteristic of the teaching of masons and sectarians, and the newly-revealed prophecy of the awaited Ecumenical Pentecost is but an old echo of the false preaching of these seducers.”
The resolution concludes with the words:
“We inform the World Council of Churches, in reply to the invitations received by all of us to take part in the Amsterdam Assembly in the capacity of members of it, that all Local Orthodox Churches participating in the present Meeting are compelled to refuse to participate in the Ecumenical Movement in its present form.” The resolution was signed by the heads of the Russian, Georgian, Serbian, Rumanian, Bulgarian, Polish, Albanian and Czechoslovakian Churches and by representatives of the Churches of Antioch and Alexandria.
After such a devastating resolution by the Moscow Patriarchate with regard to the World Council of Churches, one may understand the enthusiasm that seized all participants of the New Delhi Assembly when they accepted, as full members of ecumenism, the Moscow Patriarchate and with it the Rumanian, Bulgarian, and Polish Churches. In 1968 there entered into the WCC. Likewise the last of all the Local Churches—the Serbian Church. Thus all Local Orthodox Churches, except for our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia [and other Churches in Resistance—Webmaster], are now members of the ecumenical movement. As far as Orthodoxy is concerned, the World Council of Churches has completed the cycle of its activity. The whole Communist Block, headed by the Moscow Patriarchate, is already represented there. All the untruths of the world have been gathered together. There was created at the New Delhi Assembly for the first time in the history of mankind a single common front of all heresies and untruths. In the World Council of Churches, as in a kind of conjurers trick, have been joined and united all blasphemies, errors, and oppositions to Truth of the whole spiritual history of the human race from Cain and Ham to Judas the betrayer, Karl Marx, the corrupter Freud, and all the lesser and greater blasphemers contemporary to us today. Such is the dismal apotheosis of this Assembly.
If it were possible somehow to represent artistically this sinister triumph, it would have to be performed to the strains of Saint-Saens’ Danse macabre.
FINALLY, THE LAST Assembly at Uppsala chose for its motto the words of the Saviour: “Behold, I make all things new”… words that gave the Holy Fathers an inexhaustible source of theological ideas. In the mouths of the participants of the Uppsala Assembly, however, this Gospel dictum was almost exclusively applied to every kind of social, charitable, public, class, and sometimes industrial questions.
It should be noted that at this Assembly there were 140 delegates from all Local Orthodox Churches, not counting their advisors, translators, and secretaries. The Moscow delegation numbered 35 delegates of episcopal and priestly rank, headed by Metropolitan Nikodim. The Church of Greece this time sent to the Assembly only two lay representatives, and they left the Assembly before the end of all the sessions. Their conduct was officially explained by the fact that in Uppsala several demonstrations were put on by the Swedish youth protesting against the present Greek military government. But as a matter of fact the Church of Greece is all the time forced to take a backward look at the constantly growing movement of Old Calendarists; and if one adds to this the fact that the majority of the Orthodox delegates, apart from certain complete apostates from Orthodoxy, always feel themselves awkward, uncomfortable, hampered at the sessions of all ecumenical gatherings, then one may boldly say that these two representatives of the Church of Greece were happy to leave this Assembly under such a plausible pretext.
It would not be superfluous to underline here with what caution the chief leadership of the ecumenical movement treats in general the Orthodox delegates. Having noted almost from the first Assembly how the Orthodox delegates feel themselves not at home, are unable to give themselves over entirely to ecumenism and always somewhere in the depths of their conscience are tormented because of their enforced participation in ecumenism, the leadership of this movement, having finally gathered in Uppsala all the representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches, commenced with regard to them a very subtle politics of training, taming, and gradually attracting this do yet extinguished Orthodox conscience, in order to melt it in its ecumenical furnace. Despite the fact that on this occasion at Uppsala there was gathered the greatest number of Orthodox delegates, at all the general meetings not a single address was made by any of them. All delegates having been assigned to various committees, the Orthodox delegates were in fact being trained to ecumenism by the fact that they were obliged to sign all decisions and resolutions without saying a word, being silent also with regard to their consciences, which probably in such circumstances did not cause their masters much suffering. This politics one may call the politics of lulling the conscience.
At the very opening of the Assembly at Uppsala, there was read on behalf of all those gathered an ecumenical prayer, which went as follows: “O God, Father, You can make all things new. We entrust ourselves to You: help us to live for others, for Your love is stretched out upon all men; to seek the Truth, which we have not known…” How did Orthodox people feel listening to these last words?! It would have been curious to look then at the faces of the Orthodox hierarchs, who with all the Protestants, sectarians, and Catholics—who also were represented this time—declared in the hearing of all that they also have not known the Truth. Every priest of ours from the most out-of-the-way village knows the Truth by experience, standing at the altar of God and praying to God in spirit and in truth. Even the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, which is fully subjected to the censorship of the Communist Party, in citing in its account of this Assembly the words of the prayer did not, nonetheless, dare to translate the English word “Truth” as istina, but translated it by pravda “rightness.” However, everyone well understood that in the present case the text of the prayer without any kind of ambiguity whatever spoke of Truth.
Perhaps the Orthodox hierarchs had recourse during the opening of the Assembly to the old Jesuit practice of reservatio mentalis; but in such a case, if all these delegates do not repent of the sin of participating in prayer with heretics, they may be considered as being on a completely false path of apostasy from the Truth of Orthodoxy.
HAVING BROUGHT to light the essence of all four ecumenical Assemblies, let us proceed now to an examination of their inspirer, i.e ecumenism, so as to see in essence the contours of this phenomenon.
Ecumenism is the heresy of heresies, because until now every separate heresy in the history of the Church has striven itself to stand in the place of the true Church, while the ecumenical movement, having united all heresies, invites them all together to honor themselves as the one true Church. Here ancient Arianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, Iconoclasm, Pelagianism, and simply every possible superstition of the contemporary sects under completely different names, have united and charge to assault the Church. This phenomenon is undoubtedly of an apocalyptic character. The devil has fought in turn, almost in sequence, with Christ’s Truth set forth in the Nicaean Symbol of Faith, and has come now to the final and most vitally important paragraph of the Creed: “I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” We say the most important, because all the truths set forth in the Creed are brought into life in the final paragraph, are realized in the Church of Christ, Which gives us not only the true Orthodox Teaching, but also grace-bestowing power to realize these truths, to live by them, only in the Church and through the Church. The Church, as Archhishop Hilarion says in his work, There Is No Christianity Without the Church, is not a dream of the Church, but life in Christ.
Ecumenism, striving to destroy the boundaries of the Church of Christ, itself has no boundaries whatever. Already there is talk not only of uniting with all Christians and even with Jews, but that everyone living on the earth is a member of the Church. The same Karl Barth prophesies the “imminent ruin of the Corpus Christianum” and says that “we have come to the epoch of the end of time, when there unfolds the last phase of the history of the relation between God and man, and it will be crowned, not with a Last Judgment as the Orthodox Church teaches, but with a complete reconciliation, which will occur between God and all creation.”
If we look at the inner life of all the Protestant churches and at what ecumenism is introducing into them, we shall immediately see two currents of thought and life. The overwhelming majority of Protestant groups, having discarded their heretical doctrine and, not feeling in themselves any further stimulus so as to find anew in their religion their centrifugal force, give themselves over to ecumenism. They are completely indifferent to their one-time world-view, which was nurtured with blood and suffering, and they represent from within themselves an immense mass of people who are indifferent to Christ. A second contrary manifestation is sometimes to be noted, but it is always very small in numbers or even purely personal—this is the rare individuals in the Protestant world who from a simple feeling of self-preservation do not wish yet simply to melt into the impersonal and bloodless mass and convert into a corpse what used to be Western Christianity. To these latter the wise men of ecumenism employ a refined tactic of fishermen, letting out a line to some freedom-loving community, in order later to draw it in to the fatal ecumenical shore.
To us Orthodox these Christians are nearer, even if they are in error, but still burning in their false faith, still preserving some signs of life.
Theologically ecumenism does not bear up under any kind of criticism, because it runs away from any kind of dogmatics of its own. It is spread not in the depths, but along the surface, along the layers of heresies which have outlived themselves; but it is supported by some secret resilient power which itself stands in the shadows. Behind it is likewise a vast material might with a clever politics of finance, skillfully giving help or by its gifts inclining to its side of the scale someone who is wavering or has not lost his sensitivity of conscience.
In its external structure the World Council of Churches is very like the League of Nations or the present organization of the United Nations with its Secretary General. Without wishing at all to indicate the times and seasons, which are all in God’s Right Hand, we may only suppose that Antichrist will preside over both organizations, but in spirit the closer, more kin to him will be the World Council of Churches.
CONCLUSION AND RESOLUTIONS
ECUMENISM is now at the very doors of our Church. All local Orthodox Churches have become its members, the last being the Serbian Church which was accepted in 1968. If until today ecumenism has not been dangerous for us, now the situation has changed somewhat, first of all because we have remained the only Church in the whole world that has not entered the WCC  , and in all probability special steps will be undertaken for us, a special tactic will be employed. We must be ready for this. Second, unquestionably a strong attack will be made on the mass of our believers, among whom there are not a few souls, some of whom will yield being seduced by the thought of union, fearing their isolation, and others being tempted by advantages, a better situation, in a word by the golden calf.
If, as we indicated above, the ecumenical movement was prepared by a special world-view of pseudo-Christianity with total indifference to its truth in the bosom of the YMCA, YWCA, Scoutism, and other similar organizations, then the same role of spiritual enfeeblement has been played in our Orthodox world by the scholastic teaching of the schools—a cold, soulless, only speculative examination of the holy truths of Christian teaching, in which there is a complete absence of any inclination of the moral side of each dogma. And the moral teaching of the dogmas is that which captivates, interests, enlivens and shocks the soul equally of seminarian, believing layman, learned man and simple folk. Without this moral side of each dogma the whole science of theology loses the very ground under it and becomes like one of the secular disciplines and even less interesting than they, because, for example, physics and chemistry have to do with thing; concrete and tangible, while the poor seminarian does not see for himself personally the spiritual reality in every dogma without its moral side.
As a result of such an instruction in this most important theological science there could come out of the seminaries Stalin, Mikayan, and in all probability not a few members of the Cheka [Soviet Secret Police]. The poor instructor of dogmatic theology did nor even suspect that he was preparing a future monster. Indeed, was he personally to blame when such was the system and such it remains to this day? Today, however, in our Holy Trinity Seminary [in Jordanville, N.Y.], dogmatic theology becomes spirited, becomes the power of the whole grace-giving atmosphere of the monastery, its labor of prayer and fasting.
If ecumenism will begin to fill its ranks with our Orthodox Christians, who will be indifferent to the truths of our teaching, for this indifference we alone shall be to blame.
The Holy Fathers deliberately placed the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan Symbol of Faith in the Divine Liturgy and other daily services as a prayer, in order to bind the entire Orthodox teaching of faith, expressed with such perfect, ideal brevity, in a real tie with our soul, to make the Creed life and not an abstract teaching. The Holy Fathers by this teach us that with the Lord God there can be communion only in prayer, that concerning the Lord God one must not reason with our intellect alone, but must contemplate with all the powers of our soul—mind, heart and will, in prayer and faith. The Symbol of Faith is not our declaration of our doctrine, not our memorandum of the faith, but a labor of prayer on the part of all the powers of our soul.
It is time for us, in all our textbooks of dogmatic theology, to add to the essential, characteristic marks of Orthodox Christian dogmatics (theologicalness, Divine-revealedness, and Church-orientedness) prayerfulness, so as to bind all dogmas immediately to our soul. When the Holy Fathers teach us their doctrine, they do this from the fullness of their life, which is penetrated with prayer. All their dicta were acquired by them, if one may say so, in prayer and contemplation, and not from the intellectual syllogisms of the analytical mind. In the merely speculative study of dogma which was practiced in our seminaries and academies is hidden a subtle pride interwoven with a subtle vein of blasphemy. I recall how one of the disciples of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), after an inspired talk of the great Abba concerning the dogma of the Holy Trinity, exclaimed: “Vladika, after your explanation of the dogma one wants to weep from emotion.”
With the intellect alone one may arrive at blasphemy, and examining holy truths by it alone may find oneself at one table with the Protestants in their dialogue with God.
The prayer-imbued power of our faith in dogmatic truth is a genuine source for us of moral power which comes out from each dogma. This is true to such an extent that if we prayerfully believe in the omnipotence of God, we are clothed, according to God’s mercy to our entreaty, in the power of God in the measure accessible to us. If we prayerfully believe in the omniscience of God, we receive, according to God’s mercy to our entreaty and to the degree of our purification, knowledge, wisdom, and judgment. Thus from each dogmatic truth we prayerfully receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In other words, upon a correct labor of faith and prayer depends a correct life, life in Christ, life in the Church.
We likewise prayerfully believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and at the same time lightmindedly affirm here that in other churches too there are the holy sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism. Where, then, is our faith in the One, that is, only, exclusive Church, the exclusive, only preserver of all sacraments?! But here I wish to offer the following resolution.
We must ourselves discard, definitively have done with a certain deeply-penetrating—to our good fortune, only in our minds—scholastic ecumenism. I say scholastic and mental only, because to any sound-thinking Orthodox person the idea could not occur to receive communion in a Protestant or Catholic church, and this because with all his being, organically, he knows with an inner intelligible knowledge that there is no holy Communion anywhere but in the Church of Christ.
The matter is not at all so well with our thinkers, however, the intellectual class. Here there is such incoordination, such a diversity and variety of errors, that one may boldly say that there are no two persons who think alike. Here one may meet, side by side with emotional ladies who beside an icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov keep an image of the Catholic saint Teresa, those who practice yoga as, in their opinion, a Christian asceticism. Some think that in all Christian religions all sacraments are valid; others make certain reservations according to which one can supposedly recognize the sacrament of Baptism but not the sacrament of the Eucharist. But there is no possibility even to enumerate all these errors; it is a regular witches’ brew of opinions. The most tragic thing is that these errors, thanks to our old scholastic conception, are shared even by some of the clergy. Completely forgotten is the patristic dictum that “the communion of heretics is the food of devils. ” And if there is no holy Communion, there cannot in general be any sacrament whatever, because God the Holy Spirit descends in all sacraments for the sake of the Incarnation of the Son of God, His Godmanhood. And the holy sacrament of sacraments, the Eucharist, is the sacrament of Godmanhood.
In the present instance we should have accepted the point of view of the highest principles of the uncompromising Orthodox world-view. There is God, there is His One, only Holy, Apostolic Church, and there is the whole human race, all called to God through His holy Church. All other religions, so-called Christian, monotheistic or pagan, all without the slightest exception, whether it be Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam or Buddhism—all are obstacles placed by the devil as his traps between the Church of Christ and the whole human race. Only in personal relationships with those of different faiths, for the sake of church economy, for the sake simply of knowledge and criticism, we can view certain of them as more capable of becoming Orthodox, and others as farther away, but in principle they all without exception belong to falsehood, having nothing in common with truth.
Here it would be opportune to recall the vision of St. Macarius of Egypt : the devil was going to tempt the brethren and was all hung round with certain vessels. The great elder asked him: “Where are you going?” Satan replied: “I am going to visit the brethren.” “But why do you have these vessels?” the elder asked again. The devil replied: “I am carrying food for the brethren.” The elder asked: “And all these have food in them?” “Yes, ” replied satan; “if one of them doesn’t please someone, I’ll give another; and if not this one, I’ll give yet a different one.”
Thus all these religions are they that have accepted food from the devil: here is the subtle seductiveness of Francis of Assisi in one vessel, and beside it nirvana in another, and there Mohammed, Luther, Calvin, Henry VIII, with food corresponding to their tastes.
How can we fight successfully with ecumenism if we are ourselves divided in our ideas and do not have a pure and clear Orthodox worldview and do not sense the holy exclusiveness, the uniqueness of the holy Orthodox Church? In directing our youth, such a dividedness works especially ruinously on young souls.
One should consider that all our lack of success in work with youth may be ascribed fifty per cent to this sinful indeterminateness in our ideas with regard to the truth. Proper to youth are heroism, sincerity, an impulse toward truth, and for it there will always be unacceptable any idea of fragments of truth scattered throughout all religions.
Finally, as a last resolution we may indicate that it is indispensable that in all cathedral churches of our Church on the Sunday of Orthodoxy the rite of the Triumph of Orthodoxy be celebrated.  This always deeply touches all the faithful and inspires in them a real sense of the holiness and unshakableness of the Orthodox Church. During this service the faces of all present are moved by a kind of trembling joy at the mystical forefeeling of the final triumph of the Church of Christ over evil. I shall allow myself to call this rite the mystery of spiritual renewal, the mystery of affirmation in truth.
In concluding my review, I wish to note that my description of the ecumenical movement in such unattractive colors is due to the fact that I have attempted always to view this whole diabolic question that urgently burns like a sting, in its essence, from the point of view of the principles of uncompromising Orthodoxy. However, the representatives of ecumenism, however harmful may have been their ideas, remain nonetheless weak and limited people, and it may be that satan most of all even hates these his most obedient slaves, because in their limited human nature the unlimited pride of satan is painfully reminded of the limitedness of his diabolic all-destroying malice.
Not wishing my report even in the smallest degree to harm the work of love, I consider that in principle we must be completely uncompromising with ecumenism, this most contemporary evil, but in personal encounters, which are always unavoidable, we should ever be true disciples of the Son of God, the God of love.
1. Complete English text in Orthodox Life (Jordanville, N.Y.), July-August, 1969, and in the “St. Nectarios Educational Series” (Seattle, Wash.).
2. Text translated from the Russian in the periodical published by Archbishop Vitaly’s “Monastery Press” in Montreal: Orthodox Observer, June, 1969, pp. 14-30.
3. The mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall be revealed the lawless one… (II Thes. 2: 7-8). Concerning the idea of the orthodox Empire as the power that restrains the appearance of Antichrist until the epoch of apostasy, see The Orthodox Word, 1968, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 155ff (Tr. note).
4. The importance of these organizations in the preparation especially of the leaders of the ecumenical movement is confirmed in one of the standard histories of ecumenism. ”…Study the ‘World Council of Churches’ platform at Amsterdam and other such ecumenical assemblies; four-fifths of those assembled on these platforms probably owed their ecumenical inspiration to some connection with the YMCA, with the YWCA, or with the closely-connected Student Christian Movement.” (A History of the Ecumenical Movement, ed. Ruth Rouse and Stephen Charles Neill, SPCK, London, 1967, p. 317.) (Trans. note)
5. An important theological treatise in the form of letters from exile, written by a new-martyr of the Communist Yoke who spent six years in the infamous concentration camp established by the Soviets at Solovetsky Monastery, and died in the USSR in 1929. This work was published by Archbishop Vitaly, the author of this article, in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 1954 (Ed. note.). It is still in print and available from St. Nectarios Press.
6. Again, there are other Orthodox churches now in resistance who remain apart from the WCC. [webmaster note].
7. See The Orthodox Word, 1969, vol. 5, no. I, p. 25.
8. In cathedral churches and monasteries on the First Sunday of Lent there is a special service commemorating the Triumph of Orthodoxy over the Iconoclast heresy and in general over all the Church’s enemies; adherents of the chief heresies are solemnly anathematized each in turn, “eternal memory” is sung to the chief defenders of the Faith in ages past, and “many years” to living Orthodox patriarchs, bishops, and rulers (Tr. note.)
“The Thyateira Confession”, or Third Sorrowful Epistle
by Metropolitan Philaret, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
An Appeal to the Primates of the Holy Churches of God, and their Eminences the Orthodox Hierarchs:
Instructing us to preserve firmly in everything the Orthodox Faith which has been commanded us, the Holy Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians: But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema (Gal. 1:8). His disciple Timothy he taught to remain in that in which he had been instructed by him and in that which had been entrusted to him, knowing by whom he had been instructed (II Tim. 3:14). This is a pointer which every Hierarch of the Orthodox Church must follow and to which he is obligated by the oath given by him at his consecration. The Apostle writes that a Hierarch should be one holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convict the gainsayers (Titus 1:9).
At the present time of universal wavering, disturbance of minds and corruption, it is especially demanded of us that we should confess the true teaching of the Church no matter what might be the person of those who listen and despite the unbelief which surrounds us. If for the sake of adaptation to the errors of this age we shall be silent about the truth or give a corrupt teaching in the name of pleasing this world, then we would actually be giving to those who seek the truth a stone in place of bread. The higher is the standing of one who acts in this way, the greater the scandal that is produced by him, and the more serious can be the consequences.
For this reason a great sorrow has been evoked in us by the reading of the so-called “Thyateira Confession,” which was recently published in Europe with the special blessing and approval of the Holy Synod and the Patriarch of the Church of Constantinople.*
We know that the author of this book, His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras of Thyateira, previously has shown himself to be a defender of Orthodox truth, and therefore all the less could we have expected from him such a confession, which is far removed from Orthodoxy. However, if this had been only a personal expression of his, we would not have written about it. We are moved to do this, rather, because on his work there rests the seal of approval of the whole Church of Constantinople in the person of Patriarch Demetrius and his Synod. In a special Patriarchal Protocol addressed to Metropolitan Athenagoras it is stated that his work was examined by a special Synodical Committee. After approval of it by this Committee, the Patriarch, in accordance with the decree of the Synod, gave his blessing for the publication of “this excellent work,” as he writes. Therefore, the responsibility for this work is transferred from Metropolitan Athenagoras now to the whole hierarchy of Constantinople.
Our previous “Sorrowful Epistles” have already expressed the grief which takes possession of us when, from the throne of Sts. Proclus, John Chrysostom, Tarasius, Photius, and many other Holy Fathers we hear a teaching which without doubt they would have condemned and given over to anathema.
It is painful to write this. How we would have wished to hear from the throne of the Church of Constantinople, which gave birth to our Russian Church, a message of the Church’s righteousness and of confession of the truth in the spirit of her great hierarchs! With what joy we would have accepted such a message and transmitted it for the instruction of our pious flock! But on the contrary, a great grief is evoked in us by the necessity to warn our flock that from this one-time fount of Orthodox confession there now comes forth a message of corruption that causes scandal.
If one turns to the “Thyateira Confession” itself, alas, there are so many internal contradictions and un-Orthodox thoughts there that in order to enumerate them we would have to write a whole book. We presume that there is no need to do this. It is sufficient for us to point out the chief thing, that upon which is built and from whence proceeds the whole of the un-Orthodox thought which is contained in this confession.
Metropolitan Athenagoras in one place (p. 60) writes, with full justification, that Orthodox Christians believe that their Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and transmits the fullness of Catholic truth. He likewise acknowledges that the other confessions have not preserved this fullness. But later he as it were forgets that if any teaching departs in any respect from the truth, by this very fact it is false. Belonging to a religious communion which confesses such a teaching, people by this are already separated from the one true Church. Metropolitan Athenagoras is ready to acknowledge this with regard to such ancient heretics as the Arians, but when speaking about his contemporaries he does not wish to take their heresy into consideration. And with regard to them he calls us to be guided not by ancient tradition and canons, but by the “new understanding which prevails today among Christians” (p. 12) and by “the signs of our time” (p. 11).
Is this in accordance with the teaching of the Holy Fathers? Let us recall that the first Canon of the Seventh Ecumenical Council gives us a completely different criterion for the direction of our church thought and church life. “For those who have received the priestly dignity,” it is stated there, “the canons and decrees which have been set down serve for witness and guidance.” And further: “The Divine canons we accept with pleasure and hold entirely and unwaveringly the decrees of these canons which have been set forth by the all-praised Apostles, the holy trumpets of the Spirit, and by the Six Holy Ecumenical Councils, and by those who have gathered in various places for the publication of such commandments, and by our Holy Fathers. For all of these, being enlightened by one and the same Spirit, have decreed what is profitable.”
In defiance of this principle, in the “Thyateira Confession” emphasis is made the whole time on the “new understanding.” “Christian people,” it says there, “now visit churches and pray with other Christians of various traditions with whom they were forbidden in the past to associate, for they were called heretics” (p. 12 ) .
But who was it that previously forbade these prayers? Was it not the Sacred Scripture, not the Holy Fathers, not the Ecumenical Councils? And is the matter really one of those who were onlycalled heretics and were not such in actual fact? The first Canon of Basil the Great gives a clear definition of the naming of heretics: “They (that is, the Holy Fathers) have called heretics those who have completely broken away and have become aliens in faith itself.” Does this really not refer to those Western confessions that have fallen away from the Orthodox Church?
The Holy Apostle Paul instructs us: A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject (Tit. 3:10), while the “Thyateira Confession” calls us to a religious coming together and communion in prayer with them.
The 45th Canon of the Holy Apostles commands: “Let a bishop, presbyter, or deacon who has only prayed with heretics be suspended.” The 64th Canon of the Apostles and the 33rd Canon of the Council of Laodicea speak of the same thing. The 32nd Canon of the latter prohibits receiving a blessing from heretics. The “Thyateira Confession,” on the contrary, calls to prayer together with them and goes so far that it even allows Orthodox Christians both to receive communion from them and to give it to them.
Metropolitan Athenagoras himself gives the information that in the Anglican Confession a large part of the bishops and believers do not acknowledge either the grace of the hierarchy, nor the sanctity of the Ecumenical Councils, nor the transformation of the Gifts at the Liturgy, nor other Mysteries, nor the veneration of holy relics. The author of the “Confession” himself points to those articles of the “Anglican Confession” in which this is expressed. And yet, disdaining all this, he allows Orthodox Christians to receive communion from Anglicans and Catholics and finds it possible to give them communion in the Orthodox Church.
Upon what is such a practice based? On the teaching of the Holy Fathers? On the canons? No. The only basis for this is the fact that such a lawless thing has already been done and that there exists a “friendship” which has been manifested by the Anglicans for the Orthodox.
However, no matter what position might be occupied by one who allows an act forbidden by the canons, and no matter what kind of friendship might be the cause which has inspired this—this cannot be a justification for a practice condemned by the canons. What answer will be given to the Heavenly Judge by the hierarchs who advise their spiritual children to receive, in place of true communion, that which often the very ones who give it do not acknowledge as the Body and Blood of Christ?
Such a lawless thing proceeds from the completely heretical, Protestant, or—to express oneself in contemporary language—ecumenical teaching of the “Thyateira Confession” regarding the Holy Church. It sees no boundaries in the Church. “The Holy Spirit,” we read there, “is active both within the Church and outside the Church. For this reason its limits are ever extended and its bounds are nowhere. The Church has a door but no walls” (p. 77). But if the Spirit of God acts alike both within the Church and outside it, why then was it necessary for the Savior to come to earth and found it?
The care for the preservation and confession of the authentic truth, a care which has been handed down to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Apostles and Holy Fathers, turns out to be superfluous in this conception. Although the “Confession” does say on page 60 that the Orthodox Church can “rightly claim at this moment of history to be the One Church that Christ the Son of God founded upon earth,” it does not see any necessity for the inviolate preservation of her faith, allowing thereby the co-existence of truth and error.
Despite the words of the Apostle, that Christ has presented her to Himself as a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing(Eph 5:27), the “Thyateira Confession” presents the Church as uniting in herself both truth and that which it itself acknowledges as apostasy from it, that is, heresy, although the latter expression is not used here. The refutation of such a teaching was clearly expressed in the renowned Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs on the Orthodox Faith: “We undoubtingly confess, as firm truth. that the Catholic Church cannot error go astray, and utter falsehood in place of truth: for the Holy Spirit, always active through the Fathers and teachers of the Church who faithfully serve her, preserves her from every error” (Sect. 12).
Submitting to the new dogma of pleasing the times, the author of the “Thyateira Confession” clearly forgets the instruction of the Savior that if your brother neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen and a publican (Matt. 18:17), and the same instruction of the Apostle: Aheretic, after the first and second admonition, reject (Tit. 3:10).
Therefore, with great sorrow we must acknowledge that in the so-called “Thyateira Confession” there has resounded from Constantinople not the voice of Orthodox truth, but rather the voice of the ever more widespread error of ecumenism.
But what will be done now by those whom the Holy Spirit hath made overseers, to shepherd the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28)? Will this false teaching, officially proclaimed in the name of the whole Church of Constantinople, remain without protests by the Hierarchs of God? Will there be further, in the expression of St. Gregory the Theologian, the betrayal of truth by silence?
Being the youngest of those who preside over the Churches, we had wished to hear the voices of our elders before speaking out ourselves. But up to now this voice has not been heard. If they have not yet become acquainted with the content of the “Thyateira Confession,” we entreat them to read it attentively and not to leave it without condemnation.
It is frightful that there might be referred to us the words of the Lord to the Church of Laodicea: I know thy work, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth (Apoc. 3:15-16).
We now warn our flock and call out to our fellow brethren, to their faith in the Church, to their awareness of our common responsibility for our flock before the Heavenly Chief Shepherd. We entreat them not to disdain our announcement, lest a manifest mutilation of Orthodox teaching remain without accusation and condemnation. Its broad distribution has moved us to inform the whole Church of our grief. We would wish to hope that our cry will be heard.
President of the Synod of Bishops
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
December 6/19, 1975
Day of St. Nicholas, Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia
* “The Thyateira Confession, or The Faith and Prayer of Orthodox Christians,” by His Eminence Athenagoras Kokkinakis, Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain. Published with the Blessing and Authorization of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, The Faith Press, 1975.