Is the Phanar about to Fall into Schism?

patriarch-bartholomewSource: Orthodox England

Two Local Orthodox Churches, Bulgaria and Antioch, have withdrawn from the Crete meeting, organized by Phanar bureaucrats in Constantinople. The Georgian Church, savagely insulted by the Phanar (just as it also insulted the Bulgarian Church, causing a diplomatic incident, and the Church of Greece, whose canonical territory it invaded) for its faithfulness to Orthodoxy, may not attend. The Serbian Church has called for the meeting to be postponed and the Russian Church, 75% of the whole, has called for an emergency conference to convene to discuss the problems and mediate. If the Russian Church does not attend the meeting, as it has said it will not if others do not attend, then the whole fantastic project will fall apart. Only the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Romanian Church, both with US-appointed Patriarchs, and the tiny Albanian Church (which is financed and run from the Greek Diaspora in the USA) are for the moment attending.

The modernistic and even heretical documents the Phanar has prepared, with help from its sponsors in Washington which wants an Orthodox Vatican II, have been torn to pieces by Orthodox everywhere, not least by Mt Athos – part of the Phanar’s own jurisdiction. Now we have heard the absurd words of the notorious Phanar agent in the USA, Fr John Chryssavgis, who has openly stated that, ‘if one or more Churches doesn’t attend, or withdraws during the Council (sic), or is not present and doesn’t vote, all the decisions made will still hold and be binding for all Orthodox Churches. A Great Council is above and beyond any individual Church council or Synod … and it remains such even without the participation of one or more Church’. This piece of blackmail would be hilarious, if it were not meant seriously and so were not criminal in intent.

The Phanar is now desperate: it knows that it is make or break time. If it loses here, it will no longer be taken seriously by either of its two backers, the US State Department, that ensures its mere survival in Turkey, and the Vatican, that alone takes it seriously. Power will pass to Moscow, where everyone is looking as the natural Orthodox leader. In its desperation to put pressure on the Russian Church, the Phanar is resorting to the US-inspired Plan B. This is to ‘do an Estonia’ in the Ukraine, that is, to blackmail by invading Russian canonical territory in the Ukraine and set up a schismatic Ukrainian Church under its jurisdiction (1). Thus the Phanar, its bureaucrats with their Uniatizing doctorates obtained at the Catholic Gregorian University in Rome, in control of less than 2% of the Orthodox world, tries to browbeat the Orthodox into submission, as though it were run a Turkish sultan (some say it is).

It looks as though the Phanar is going to hold a meeting in Crete, at which it will talk to itself – as it has been doing all along, on account of its refusal to consult and to listen, which has led it to its present self-humiliating fiasco. Its dictatorship has led to its self-marginalization from the Orthodox world. We are seeing not the Council of Crete, but the Second Council of Florence. Only this time St Mark of Ephesus is the vast majority. The fact is that the US attempt to impose heresy on the Orthodox world has been an abject failure, unlike at Vatican II. Since the Phanar has been abandoned by Mt Athos, it would be better if its discredited Patriarch resigned and went to repent in a monastery there as a simple monk. And in his place an Orthodox monk from Mt Athos could be elected, this time without, for the first time since 1948, any meddling from the US State Department.

In three days’ time we will be celebrating the Fathers of the First Universal Council, those who preached Christ as God and man, unlike the humanist (‘personalist’) philosophers of the Phanar. In three days’ time we will be celebrating the Fathers of the First Universal Council, those who adopted the Church calendar, unlike the philosophers of the Phanar who rejected it. Those in the Phanar, greedy for power and domination as in Rome of old, may yet fall away from the Church into schism; it does not matter, we in the Church shall celebrate victory: sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks before a proposed Council, as it has done through the Churches of Bulgaria and Antioch.

The Ascension of the Lord 2016

Note:
1. ‘To do an Estonia’ refers to the 7,000-strong ‘Estonian Apostolic Church’ set up by Constantinople on the canonical territory of the 100,000-strong Estonian Orthodox Church, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Greek-run group is led by a Greek bishop who speaks Greek and French; the canonical Estonian Orthodox Church by an Estonian Orthodox.

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Comments

  1. Monk James says

    It’s sad to observe that New Rome has come to be so disgraced.

    In my opinion, this has nothing to do with purported prophecies about Moscow’s being the third and last ‘Rome’.

    Rather, it all has to do with conciliarity, not superiority, and we orthodox must regroup in a more productive way. I hope and trust that the church of Russia will be as hepful as it can, as it has always been.

    Historically and by the Gospel, and as acknowledged in our service books, it is Jerusalem which is the ‘Mother of the churches’ and the ‘dwelling of God’.

    We need to forget about obsolete roman law and Constantinople altogether, and focus our attention on Jerusalem. There’s a lot of work for us to do there.

    At the same time, we must assist our fellow Christians in Turkey, and help them and their bishop, to emigrate to safer places, details to be anno8nced.

  2. It would be best for the EP and his sycophants to have their robber council by themselves and go into schism. It has been leaning this way for decades. Let them apostatize…..then true Orthodoxy can focus on saving souls. Take a look at the latest edition of the EP’s propaganda magazine, PRAXIS. There is a picture of Meletios Metaxakis and his “pan-Orthodox congress” along with a statement regarding the great effect it had on the Church. Are you kidding me!?! A Freemason who attempted to destroy Orthodoxy and helped to divide the Church around the calendar is being honored by the EP?!?

    It is time to depose the papist Bartholomew.

  3. I do not know what the outcome of all this will be – or if there will be anything that most people would consider an ‘outcome’ at all (i.e., a flop, the Great Council that never happened), but I have every confidence that God’s hand is at work in all this, sifting, pruning, and revealing things previously hidden.

    If, as unlikely as it now seems, these differences are fully resolved we should rejoice. And if they are not we should also rejoice, albeit for different reasons.

    The gates of hell shall not prevail.

  4. Serious question: What is Fr Andrew’s basis for his claim that the EP is effectively an American puppet?

    • anonymus per Scorilo says

      What is Fr Andrew’s basis for his claim that the EP is effectively an American puppet?

      Exactly the same as the basis for claiming that the Romanian Patriarch is US-appointed 🙂

      No basis, just pure propaganda and intoxication.

    • When some time ago I was having a dispute with Peter Papoutsis about my own dim view of the EP as an institution, I talked about how I saw the disparity between its tiny size and the role and authority it claims for itself — and the disparity between its seeming lack of interest in reconverting its historical territory in Turkey and its incessant interest in global Orthodox politics (on fine display during these Council maneuverings) which often amount to poking its nose into the middle of the affairs of other Churches. I expressed my view of its actual insignificance — its actual accomplishments pale beside, say, Alexandria, the Church of Greece proper, or Romania — let alone the gigantic MP.

      Peter, sticking up for the EP’s honor, told me that the EP was “more powerful than I could ever imagine.” He specifically stated that he knew from his own contacts within the EP that the CIA and EP were very tight — hence if you mess with the EP, you are messing with the CIA and the US government.

      Mr. Papoutsis, acting at that time as a partisan and defender of the EP, thus agreed substantively with Fr. Andrew, an EP detractor, on the supposedly tight relations between the EP and the US government. As a side note, it wouldn’t surprise me if, during the Cold War, the US government had seized on rivalry between the EP and the MP, and developed relations as a counterbalance against the Soviet state, which had the Russian Church under its thumb. I am not saying this is the case, I am simply saying it would be consistent with US tactics in the Cold War — cultivating proxies. Although Fr Andrew and Mr. Papoutsis would doubtless disagree on which one is in the drivers seat. Perhaps Mr. Papoutsis would describe the EP as pulling the strings and the US government as doing the powerful Phanar’s bidding.

      Different possible explanations suggest themselves:

      1. Mr. Papoutsis and Fr. Andrew are each drawing on separate reliable sources of information — one within the EP, and the other within the MP — both stating what is no real secret to those in the know, namely that the CIA/US government and the Phanar are indeed deeply entangled.

      2. Or… Fr. Andrew reads Monomakhos comments threads, and the source of his “information” was the blustering of Mr. Papoutsis about the EP’s unimaginable power.

      3. Or… Mr. Papoutsis used something he read in Fr. Andrew’s writings about EP/CIA relations and turned it to make the EP look more powerful than the MP.

      4. Or… perhaps both are drawing on similar unreliable fever swamp sources on the internet, each just giving it a spin of their own to suit their arguments.

      In any event, I for one do find it most interesting that both an EP partisan and an EP detractor have said essentially the same thing. It doesn’t prove anything, but it makes it more credible than if only one or the other were making such statements.

      In any event, the Holy Spirit will guide us… if we know how to listen.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        wish this was just second hand BS on my part, but unfortunately it is not. So take it for what its worth.

        Also, I am not a blind supporter of the EP. I do support the EP as far as his actual office and authority under canon law, but that’s it. I’m not and never have been a cheerleader for the EP as Fr. Andrew is now, NOT BEFORE, for the MP.

        I will also say that while I do not want the council to occur because many issues need to be resolved in the draft documents, I also believe that various Orthodox Churches (i.e. Serbia, Bulgaria, Antioch, Jerusalem Pat., etc.,) are using the current crisis over the council to settle old scores or in the case of Moscow to disparage the EP and push its meme that Moscow should rule. Oh well, same old same old.

        You know it takes two, or in our case, many to tango, and objections could have been lodged years ago, but were not until just weeks and days before the start of the council. So again, while I have problems with the Agenda and the Draft documents, for Moscow and Company to start playing games at the 11th hour is very disingenuous.

        However, the the EP is also wrong by pushing the council to go forward without resolving several issues with the documents and agenda, and by being so stubborn as to say “its either my way of the highway” that unfortunately paints the EP as a Modernist Unia tool for Rome, and confirming the fears of the Russians, while at the same time affirming and giving credibility to the Fundamentalist on the Russian Orthodox & Company side.

        It would be best to table the council until these various issues are resolved and the appearance of Eastern Rite Papism and Unia influence are put to rest. The EP should constantly have the 1923 Calendar debacle front and center during this time and do everything in its power to avoid a second schism. Lest’s see what the Holy Spirit says and does.

        Peter

        • In defense of Antioch, they raised two sets of objections:

          1. The issue of Jerusalem. Antioch is not presently in communion with Jerusalem, and the EP has heretofore refused to help mediate the crisis in a manner that one would expect from the all-holy Protos. This is not opportunism; Antioch has begged for a forum and the carpetbagging Greek hierarchy in Jerusalem won’t hear of it. The EP is more interested in union with Rome than unity inside the church he purports to lead.

          2. Procedural issues. These are major faults in the proposed hazy and illdefined rules of the meeting that have not been addressed. Does the EP plan to simply strong arm his way through the meeting?

          Saying they are “using the current crisis over the council to settle old scores” is untrue and unfair.

          • Anonymus per Scorilo says

            The issue of Qatar will not be resolved until the Syrian civil war is over. It is clear that the actions of Jerusalem are the guilty ones in this game, but since the Qatar church is are under an anti-Assad regime that heavily pumps money in Syria to overthrow Assad, there is no way to make things right unless either the regime in Qatar falls, or the one in Syria falls. Or they make peace with each other.

            Since this may take a fair bit of time, it looks like a poor excuse to torpedo the council because of it. Moreover, who knows that when this is over something else will not come out.

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

          Thank you, Peter, for a reasonable and prudent post. I concur with your reluctant conclusion that it would be sheer folly, as well as very counter-productive, even self-destructive, for the EP to proceed with the Pan-Orthodox Council at this juncture.

          RE: “the Fundamentalist on the Russian Orthodox & Company side”–I do wish, however, that you would not use that pejorative term to refer to ANY Orthodox Christians, jurisdictions, or autocephalous Churches. Though dating back to an Evangelical Protestant document in 1910 and embraced by many Protestants as a badge of honor, it is also a term of art invoked by the political and religious left-wing to discredit and, often, silence traditional Christians, whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Fr. Webster,

            Thank you for your thoughts and correction. Although I have tried to be consistent in my distaste for both modernism and fundamentalism, in my support of pure Orthodoxy that I believe transcends these two concepts and needlessly divides the church.

            However, having said that every time you have corrected me I have heeded your correction. I will do so now and remain obedient to you. I shall do as you have instructed.

            Please pray for me, my wife and our two children.

            Yours always in Christ.

            Peter A. Papoutsis

        • Peter, I agree with most of what you wrote. I disagree that these are all 11th hour objections. Others have pointed out that Antioch has been pressing for resolution for a long time. And it is a fact that the texts of the statements were only released (by the MP, I believe) a few months ago, and it takes time for these to be digested and responded to. In addition, it was not immediately apparent to all that the council would not be free to revise those statements. It was only when the EP made it clear that they could only have an up or down vote that pressure started to build to just call the whole thing off. No council has ever had its hands thus tied.

          Finally, it is only in the immediate buildup to the council that the rhetoric about this being the first meeting in a over a thousand years and all that rot really picked up. This was bound to raise the eyebrows of anyone with a deep respect for other authoritative gatherings, such as the Palamite and Photian councils.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Hi Edward,

            I don’t disagree with you in regards to the documents and agenda topics. I agree with you about that. What I was specifically referring to was the various church disputes that cropped up. (Ex. Antioch v. JP, Serbia v Romania, Bulgaria v. Greece). Church issues that need to be resolved for sure, but to be used to derail a council, even one I do not want to occur, is disingenuous.

            Also, just an observation, all the churches that don’t want the EP to act as an eastern pope, are the churches that have turned to the EP for his direct help to resolve their various issues. Very interesting.

            Peter

            • Peter,

              Among the Patriarchates there is none who doesn’t readily acknowledge the Patriarch of Constantinople as first among equals. Even Patriarch Krill, whose Patriarchate dwarfs that of Constantinople, addressed the assembly as…

              “To His Holiness Bartholomew Archbishop of Constantinople – the New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
              To their Holinesses and Beatitudes the Primates of the Holy Churches of God…”

              …thus clearly acknowledging him as first.

              It is something of a caricature to say that the patriarchates want it both ways in that they don’t want an Eastern Pope but want him to act like an Eastern Pope. What they want is for him to fulfill his role as arbitrator (not judge), which is to say that they want him to be what he claims to be and what they acknowledge him to be. Not knowing everything, I cannot say that he hasn’t perhaps attempted to fulfill this role with regard to some of the disputes. But it can be said that, if he has, he has been ineffectual and has chosen rather to prioritize the perception of unity over unity itself by specifically excluding very real disputes from the agenda.

              This is one of many reasons why there is both disappointment and relief among the faithful. If there is to be a Council, let there be a Council. If not…

              And this isn’t the “Black Bart” talk of some EP haters who comment here, BTW. It’s just…well…reality.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Officially yes, but otherwise no. I not only see the modernis agenda in the EP, but also the power grabs of Moscow. Unless and until the MP OFFICIALLY denounces such rhetoric it is approval by silence.

      • Kosta Langis says

        As a first generation ethnic greek I can verify that the CIA has quite a few greek CIA agents recruited at one time (in the past) directly within the greek parishes of Queens NY. To give you an example, it’s a fact that the greek secret intelligience service was created and totally paid for by the CIA. The entire payroll was funded by American taxpayers for a good 10 years before the greek government took control over it. Hence why some eye brows were raised when it was found out that Elizabeth Prodromou is part of the EP delegation.

    • Kosta Langis says

      1. Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou is part of the EP delegation. She advises the CIA, works with American NGO’S and has worked in other unusual areas within the U.S. government. (Google her name to see credentials)

      2. Wikileaks has revealed unsual conversations between EP and influential american politicians.

      3. George Tenet was director of CIA and is a lifelong member of GOARCH, after Pat Irenaeous was depose by Bartholomew, Tenet’s cousin Patriarch Theophilus was elected to JP.

      4. Before this Meletios Metaxakis was a freemason with a working association with the British government that’s how he was able to become patriarch of two separate patriarchates even though deposed. Athenagoras immediately received U.S. citizenship as archbishop of goarch when elected as Patriarch he flew on fellow freemason’s Harry Truman’s airplane. Suggesting a relationship with U.S. State Dept.

      I imagine this is an inkling of some of the reasons. Walks like a duck, talks like a duck, quacks like a duck…

      • Carl Kraeff says

        There is no question that Greece, Turkey and the EP all developed close relations with the USA after the onset of the Cold War. In my opinion, it was a good choice as they all faced the prospect of Godless Communism and Soviet thugs running their countries. In each of the countries of the Soviet Empire, the chief thug was either brought in with the Red Army or soon became a satrap of Moscow. Thus the relationships with the USA and the free Christian churches of Europe were a good thing.

        • Carl,

          Oh, if you’re talking about the Soviet Union’s role in the Cold War, I agree with you and with Ronald Reagan, that the Soviet Union was “the focus of evil in the modern world” right up until its demise. Tragically, the focus of evil then shifted to two major entities: the soulless, morally challenged and warmongering West and the fanatical Islamic East. You will notice that neither of these are Orthodox and neither of these are Russian, thank God.

    • Kosta Langis says

      After reading Patriarch Daniel’s wikileaks profile, I can say he may not have been appointed by the americans but he surely promotes US state department agenda.

  5. Gail Sheppard says

    Can these scholars count? (RE: Small Minority vs. Overwhelming Majority) It’s getting to the point where I flinch when I see “Dr.” in front of someone’s name.

    OPEN LETTER OF ORTHODOX SCHOLARS AROUND THE WORLD TO THE HOLY AND GREAT COUNCIL OF CRETE

    “We, the undersigned international group of Orthodox scholars, address this letter to the leadership of the Orthodox Church, to all Orthodox Christians around the world, and to all people of good will. We write out of profound concern for our Church, whose unity makes the new life in Christ visible to all mankind. We pray that the impending Council, so much anticipated and so long prepared, will bear forth the fruits of the Spirit, the first among them being the Pan-Orthodox unity. Hence, we support the agreement of the Orthodox leaders, publicly announced at the Pan-Orthodox Synaxis in January 2016, to gather together for the Holy and Great Council in Crete in mid-June 2016.

    We believe that there are no insurmountable difficulties to beginning the Council in June, despite the significant questions that have been raised regarding the drafts of the conciliar documents and conciliar proceedings. We acknowledge the legitimacy of some questions, such as the request to reopen the discussion of the drafts of the conciliar documents. We also concur that there are many other issues dealing with the Church in the twenty-first century that would require future Pan-Orthodox attention. Nevertheless, we are convinced that the best venue for settling significant disputes today, as in the times of old, is the Council itself. To postpone the Council once again, is to fail to live up to the principle of conciliarity on a global level.

    Nobody can expect the Council to settle all important questions and to heal all jurisdictional disputes in ten days. But we hope that this Council will be a beginning of the healing process and that it will usher in a new era of global conciliarity and unity. A SMALL MINORITY that wishes to jeopardize the work of the Council by further delays should not intimidate the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of the Orthodox leaders that wish to carry out the commitment to have the Council on this year’s Feast of Pentecost.” (Emphasis, mine) “In the last century, the Orthodox Church has witnessed to the world through a rich theological legacy and the blood of new martyrs. The Holy and Great Council occasions an opportunity to commence a new phase of Orthodox witness. As the eyes of the whole world are upon the Orthodox Church, we beseech all of our leaders to hear the Spirit’s call to conciliar unity.”

    Signed so far:

    Rev Dn. Dr. Nicholas Denysenko, Loyola Marymount University (Orthodox Church in America)
    Dr Paul L. Gavrilyuk, University of St. Thomas (Orthodox Church in America)
    Dr Brandon Gallaher, University of Exeter (Ecumenical Patriarchate)
    Dr Smilen Markov, Sofia University (Bulgarian Orthodox Church)
    Dr Gayle Woloschak, Northwestern University (Ecumenical Patriarchate)

    http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/5680/0/scholars-warn-orthodox-leaders-don-t-derail-the-holy-and-great-council

    • A small “minority?” What a bunch of idiots! First off, I would hardly say that the entire Antiochian Orthodox Church, the entire Serbian Orthodox Church and the entire Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is a “minority.” Second, even if it was a minority, since when is everything a popularity contest? The implication from these idiot “scholars” is that decisions of the Church are based upon a majority rules approach. The Church has never worked as a popularity contest and there are many historical examples of even one bishop who held to Holy Orthodoxy while everyone else went into heresy. Yes, it would be nice for the entire Orthodox Church to meet and to meet regularly. This recent attempt, however, is being designed as a kind of robber council, with a predetermined outcome. This can never be the case. This is a council which is being directed solely by man and it is going to fail because of man.

    • Dr Paul L. Gavrilyuk, University of St. Thomas (Orthodox Church in America):

      In this document, (Orthodox Relations with Christian World) the Council Fathers send a strong message that the quest for Christian unity is at the core of the Orthodox Church’s mission. The guidelines for engaging in the dialogue are adumbrated and the obscurantists who reject ecumenism as “heresy” are condemned.

      Roman Catholics will find many parts of this document congenial. For example, the concept of the “hierarchy of difficulties” (12) echoes the language of the “hierarchy of truths” that was adopted by Vatican II’s decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio. It should be noted that Unitatis Redintegratio spells out the common features of Orthodoxy and Catholicism, whereas the document under discussion is silent on the matter.

      …Will the patriarch invite the pope to the Great and Holy Council? Unlikely, but a limited number of Catholic observers will be invited. Let’s hope that their participation bears as much fruit as the Orthodox participation at the Vatican II did.”

      One can see his motivation…

  6. Carl Kraeff says

    I was reading the article and nodding in agreement until I came across this abomination “In three days’ time we will be celebrating the Fathers of the First Universal Council, those who adopted the Church calendar, unlike the philosophers of the Phanar who rejected it.” I was jolted awake and checked the source–Father Andrew of Orthodox England. Well, of course! This is the worthy who sees the CIA and the US State Department behind every nefarious plot against Orthodoxy, especially against its Russian variant (to be precise, not the Russian Orthodox Church inside Russia). One of the true whackos in World Orthodoxy, and perhaps coming from the same family that produced the he/she that writes “Voices from Russia.”

  7. If this actually were to happen, what is the appropriate response for someone in say a Greek Orthodox parish under the EP here in the US? Try to find the nearest ROCOR church? Stay where you’re at but don’t go to Communion? Act like nothing has happened and hope the situation gets resolved eventually?

    • I would say: Find the nearest Orthodox Church that did not subscribe to the heretical robber council.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Jose, I think we are all wondering what the next step is going to be. Pray, hold tight and wait for the Holy Spirit. The Church will prevail. Be at peace.

    • Let’s wait to see what the final documents actually say.

    • My thoughts says

      If the EP (and/or the OCA) goes into communion with Rome, they will effectively be Uniate, as will all the parishes/jurisdictions associated with it (UOC of USA, ACROD, GOARCH, its Russian Exarchate in Western Europe, etc.).

      If you want to be a Uniate, then stay where you are. If you don’t want to be a Uniate, then you need to find an Orthodox Christian parish elsewhere. My guess/prayer is that, if this happens, many true Orthodox parishioners and priests will “jump ship” to more faithful jurisdictions. Mount Athos will surely anathematize the EP and will go elsewhere, as will the many monasteries in America. Hopefully many faithful Orthodox Christian OCA parishes would join ROCOR. By contrast, those who don’t care much about theology or who only see their church as an ethnic club probably couldn’t care less what happens.

      •  
        This is Chrissavgis on the voting regarding the draft and council resolution. These guys are beneath contempt. He ascribes the novel procedure to “centuries of isolation”. “Isolation” from what? Rome? Heresy? Orthodoxy has parishes throughout the world. These guys did an unspeakably evil thing by rigging the voting so that the heretical draft document is unamendable for all practical purposes. He states, flat out, that all that is necessary is for a critical mass of the Church to assemble. That is what the Phanar wanted all along, enough to be able to say that the Holy Spirit blessed their proposed heresy. That is the Vatican talking, indeed, even a serpent, the most clever of all beasts.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Misha, in watching this well-made video, I could not find myself disagreeing with Dn Chryssavgis. Smooth words smoothly spoken. Indeed, the entire premises –as presented–are unarguable.

          That is unless you dig deep and realize that the entire process is a one-off designed to cement the idea of the EP as the Eastern Pope, to say nothing about the other hidden agendas that lay in wait.

          • George,

            The “centuries of isolation” should be the trigger to get ones ears attentive. It is painting the Orthodox Church as being backward and ignorant. Setting itself apart on account of ethnic superiority and superstitions.

            Yet Orthodoxy is present in Western Europe, North America, Australia, etc. It has mostly overcome its language barrier. In America, it has often been Westernized to the point of betraying its own identity. The only thing left is to abandon this “isolationist” idea that truth is not relative and that the fullness of the truth is to be found in a particular Church. The New Bapstismal Theology in the draft documents is designed to combat that “isolationist” conviction – the conviction that there is only one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

            Now, the Phanar has used deceit and Byzantine intrigue to manipulate the drafting process and the conciliar process to yield the result of a critical number of Orthodox local churches having sufficient presence at Crete to bless the heterodox documents with some veneer of the Holy Spirit. This was insidious and evil, nothing less. The Phanar (and Rome, btw) knew exactly what they were doing. It was all premeditated. They are still trying to hope against hope and make this abomination happen.

            Until this werewolf is dead and there is no longer any possibility of some critical mass of local churches showing up, Orthodoxy is in danger from wolves in sheeps’ clothing within – indeed, from the evil one. But the danger is nothing to despair about. The Orthodox who wish to remain Orthodox will do the right thing. Thus, the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church.

            Happy Ascension!!!

          • Michael Bauman says

            Dn Chryssavgis reminds me if Worm-tongue.

            The devil is the most reasonable of creatures. His premise is wrong, but his logic is usually quite sound.

        • One thing has become abundantly clear to me in this dialogue about the forthcoming council—there is a deep divide within Orthodoxy. On the one hand are those who believe the Patriarch is pro-union with the Catholic Church and a liberal heretic and on the other hand are those who believe union is a worthy goal and discussion about reaching that goal should be promoted. Obviously, there are other issues but I believe a distilled analysis is as I mentioned.
          It truly is embarrassing to admit to Catholic friends, who are aware of the plans for the council, that and agenda cannot even be agreed upon. I believe it is easier to get Jews to meet with Palestinians than it is to have an Orthodox Council. We forget the fundamental teaching of the scriptures when our Lord said, “he who would great among you must be servant of all.” It seems to me that most of the conflict is about power and who is in charge and not about the Gospel of Christ.
          Orthodoxy faces incredible challenges and more of the same does not work. Countries that have been traditionally Orthodox have become extremely secular often even more so that the USA. With Pentecost approaching we must bow down to our Lord and ask for His guidance during this troubling time, and as in the past, God’s guidance has been manifest through a Council. Meet, discuss, and disagree if necessary but don’t be afraid to meet.

          • The problem is the agenda that is being shoved down our throats.

            All the pre-conciliar meetings were wonderful, everyone got along and shared their views freely. But when things were 95% settled, the EP decided to run with it and flip the bird at those who weren’t quite “there.”

            Hell’s bells, why not just give it another year? Is it worth all this fighting to have it right now? No one called for a cancellation, just a delay to work out the last details.

            The EP is doing harm that will take many years to repair, when he could have just delayed it.

            And to any Roman Catholic who is crowing about our “show of unity,” I’d rather have our problems than theirs. Ask them why nobody stood up to stop Vatican II. Ask them why the high altars and tabernacles vanished from their parishes. Ask them why their pope falls down to worship refugees but won’t genuflect at the mass.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              So Ages when will we be ready? You can blame the EP, and I have done my fair share of it, but not all blame rests with the EP.

              First decide if we need a council. If the answer is yes, then commit yourself to going. If no stop the belly aching.

              If that is needed is one year then commit to one year and then everybody attend. In fact, postponing for a year would be a good thing to fix the documents, settle the agenda and work out everyone’s issues.

              Peter

          • Michael Bauman says

            Why be embarrassed? We have always been messy. It is the search for false order that led the Roman and protestant churches into Schism and heresy.

            • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

              Michael, the Roman Catholic and Protestant communions are, all of them to one degree or another, in heresy, not schism.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Father you are correct of course, but it began as schism did it not? Certainly the protestants were schismatics from Rome.

                Schism/heresy are all part of the same impetus in my mind — the desire to be right apart from God.

                Heresy always leads to schism and schism is usually induced by a heretical mind and heart.

                At least that is how I see it. It is such a mind that creates the schism within my own heart is it not?

                • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                  Schism is traditionally deemed a lesser offense than heresy. Several short-lived “schisms” (literally, “splits”) occurred between Rome and Constantinople in the centuries before AD 1054 such as the “Acacian Schism” or the “Photian Schism”–so named by Roman Catholic historians after patriarchs of Constantinople in the fifth and ninth centuries respectively. When Pope Benedict VIII included the heretical “filioque” in the Nicene Creed in the mass in Rome in AD 1014, it was only a matter of time before the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Rome separated indefinitely over that heresy. To be sure, the Roman Catholic communion, downplaying the true doctrinal differences, chooses to regard that conflict as another “Eastern” schism. That’s why I would suggest we not use that term in lieu of the correct one–namely, “heresy.”

          • Gail Sheppard says

            You’re right that there is a deep divide, Johnkal, but you are mistaken about what that divide is.

            The primary problem isn’t the specifics on the agenda (that’s a whole other discussion). The problem is with the word “agenda.” Most people think of an agenda as being a list of items under discussion. In this case, however, it’s a fait accompli document, leaving no room for disagreement. (The only true agenda is the one going on behind the scenes.)

            With this agenda, you either agree with what’s presented or you are dismissed. If you boycott the meetings in protest, you are dismissed. In all cases, you are dismissed unless you support the agenda, in spite of the concerns expressed by Mount Athos and the Bulgarians, Georgians, Serbians, Antiochians and Russians. In a few short weeks, the EP will announce to the world that the Great and Holy Council of 2016 was a tremendous success and the outcome, i.e. the “agenda,” was unanimously approved.

            The EP has rejected all attempts to work out the differences prior to this meeting. There will be no meaningful discussions to resolve the open ended language that was used; language so deliberately vague it could later be used to justify decisions that could undermine the very teachings of the Church.

            The divide you are observing is the divide between the people who know what is going on and the people who don’t.

            I would not want to be the EP. His name might as well be Judas.

            • The MP probably did exactly the right thing in knocking the ball back into the Phanar’s court. The Phanar gave the other Orthodox an ultimatum:

              “We rigged the rules so that heterodox pre-conciliar documents which received wide primatial pre-approval are locked in. We’re committed to recognizing Rome as a “Sister Church”. The only way to change the documents which all are to sign per the working rules of the council is by unanimous agreement. Since we drafted the draft documents and want Unia, we’re not going to agree to changes. Therefore, come to Crete and lend your hand and the imprimatur of the Holy Spirit (which we will claim if you show up) to legitimizing the new Unia or else we will ostracize you as “fundamentalists”.”

              They are being that open and flagrant about it. It’s really that bad at the Phanar. Face it.

              Rather than simply break communion with the latest Byzantine style church to fall to the Unia, Russia is giving Constantinople the chance to “come to Jesus” as it were. They can give up their scheme of union with Rome, or they can continue and marginalize themselves from the rest of Orthodoxy.

              “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” Deuteronomy 30:19

            • Michael Bauman says

              The divide is nothing new, in fact it has probably been in the Church in some form forever. What the situation does is reveal the divide more clearly. That is a blessing.

        • Fr. Chryssavgis is a full on fundamentalist ecumenist and is on public record as saying he hopes the council in Crete may have an impact on Orthodoxy similar to that of Vatican II on Catholicism! He also admits that Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew are “BFF”( Best Friends Forever)
          Did you know that in Rome, we jokingly say that Bartholomew is Francis’s “BFF”?
          Yes, that’s made the rounds in Orthodox circles as well!
          Remember that Patriarch Bartholomew was present at the pope’s inaugural Mass, which was the first time that ever happened in history. There have, in fact, been times in the past when a pope was present in Constantinople for the change of a patriarch, but still never attended. When asked why he went, Patriarch Bartholomew said he felt there’s something different about this man, and he had to be there.
          I don’t think it’s by chance that these two people are the leaders of their respective churches at this moment in time. I don’t believe that’s a coincidence.
          https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2016/06/07/leading-cleric-says-orthodox-churchs-vatican-ii-go/

      • Prospective Nomad says

        My thoughts,

        If only it were that simple. Mt. Athos can’t go anywhere, at least as long as Greece’s prime minister is an atheist who is cravenly subservient to the EU. In a relatively minor dispute between the EP and some Athonite monasteries several years ago (even before Tsipras came to power), the Greek navy showed up off the coast of the Holy Mountain to remind the monks who was in charge. If Athonite monasteries were to anathematize the EP, the EP would depose their hegumens, and the Greek military would enforce the depositions–with plenty of gratuitous desecration as an object lesson for future would-be renegades.

        The National Church of Greece will face similar pressure from the government–pressure that will be reinforced from abroad, because the Church is almost entirely dependent on the Greek diaspora for her charitable work–work made indispensable by EU-imposed austerity. I doubt that the government or the Greek population would allow the Church to take food out of the mouths of tens of thousands of people–even to avoid selling her birthright.

        Pray for them. They have much more at stake than do we, who stand to lose nothing more than real estate.

      • Alan Hampton says

        The OCA and Greeks seem to have the same “ultimate” outcome, that is, Orthodox unity in America. HOWEVER, the OCA won’t give up its autocephaly unless a “NEW” autocephalous church is organized in America with Greeks, Antiochians, etc. This was the original goal of SCOBA in 1961 and why the OCA came into existence. + Bart only wants unity under himself. As far as union with Rome, this is a nice goal, but Rome has drifted so far from the TRUTH that reconciliation still isn’t possible.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        No need for OCA parishes to leave the OCA. Where do you get the ridiculous idea that OCA would ever consider going “into communion with Rome”?

      • Prospective Nomad says

        My thoughts,

        If only it were that simple. Mount Athos can’t go anywhere. As the example of the Esphigmenou Monastery demonstrates, the Greek government is quite willing to use military force to compel Athonite submission to the EP’s jurisdiction.

    • Kosta Langis says

      I’m in the GOARCH, I’m in this dilemma. I will probably attend a ROCOR church. I cannot in good conscience remain. Even emailed my parish and GOARCH asking if they will cease commemorating the heretic Bartholomew or whether I should make plans to attend my nearby ROCOR parish. I urge all GOARCH members to do the same.

  8. Centurion says

    Is that the same Rev Dn. Dr. Nicholas Denysenko who is Director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute and gets paid with profits from movies produced by Michael Huffington that celebrate homosexuality and trash traditional Christian morality and Orthodox Christian theology? The same Denysenko who counts among his friends other lesbian and homosexual activists (like Inga Leonova, Dave O’Neal, Gregory Tucker a man proudly “married” to another man, Maria McDowell a woman proudly “married” to another woman, etc.) who want the Orthodox Church to succumb to the homosexual agenda?

    The Huffington Ecumenical Institute was funded with $5 million from unrepentant homosexual activist Michael Huffington (former Congressman, sodomite activist, film producer) who made millions of dollars producing movies and documentaries (including “For the Bible Tells Me So”, see below) aimed at children and teens that indoctrinates them that homosexuality is normal, conservative Christians are dangerous and hateful, the Bible doesn’t actually oppose homosexuality and sexual orientation is an inborn condition and cannot be changed. (http://jeff.mikels.cc/posts/for-the-bible-tells-me-so-documentary-on-homosexuality/)

    “For the Bible Tells Me So” — Documentary on Homosexuality
    by Michael Huffington
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-huffington/my-road-to-damascus-led-t_b_38761.html

    A documentary called For the Bible Tells Me So will premiere on Sunday, January 21, at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. It’s prophetic that my own life’s journey led me to my role as an executive producer of this ground-breaking film.

    Thirty years ago I was struggling with my sexual orientation as a bisexual man, with my love of God, and with my interpretation of the Bible. It was a struggle between what I thought the Bible said literally, and what the Bible meant. During my early years, I had read it verbatim, and because of that I was one unhappy camper. I thought that the Bible said that homosexuality was an abomination: and so, I tried to become totally straight. I watched Pat Robertson on the 700 Club, and I remember seeing a man with his wife explain how he had been gay but was now straight. Well, I didn’t consider myself gay because I loved women. But, I wasn’t straight either. I was bisexual, and I was in conflict. The common doctrine of the day said that either you were gay or straight. Since I perceived that it was a binary choice, I decided to go with my straight inclination, and bury my gay nature. Ultimately, I married a wonderful woman, and had two beautiful children. I was faithful to my family.

    During my marriage, I became an Orthodox Christian after having been Episcopalian for over a decade. Through the Orthodox faith, I came to realize for the first time in my life that God had created me in His image, and that His image encompassed bisexual and gay people. Two years after I became Orthodox, and one year after my divorce, I decided to come out to the public as bisexual. This was made into a big deal by the press because I had recently been in the national spotlight as a Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate race in California. I did it solely on my own volition. And I did it joyfully because I knew God loved me for who I was, and wanted me to live an open and truthful life.

    For the past eight years I have been working with various organizations such as GLAAD, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign, the Log Cabin Republicans, the Point Foundation and other groups to help educate Americans about gay, lesbian and bisexual people. Most of these efforts were in the secular arena of American life. However, I knew in my heart that this was not enough, but I didn’t know how to influence the religious sphere of our world.

    My experience with my own church had been gratifying. The article about my coming out was printed on the front page of the metro section of the Sunday Los Angeles Times. As I went to church that day, I was fully aware that most of my fellow parishioners and priests had read the story. To my utter amazement, not one person said anything negative to me or to our priests. Instead, I was patted on the back, and told by straight men how courageous I was. They congratulated me for being brave enough to tell the truth. This was Christianity at its best. Christ was indeed among us that day.

    When I met Dan Karslake a couple of years ago at the home of Judith Light, I knew I had met the man who could get this message of Christian love across to a broader audience. He told me that he was directing a documentary about the Bible and homosexuality, and that he would be interviewing five religious families and their gay children. Two of those families have members who are well-known to the American public — former Rep. Dick Gephardt and Bishop Gene Robinson. He also planned to interview Biblical scholars concerning certain passages from the Old and New Testaments that are often used to condemn homosexuality. These passages which were written thousands of years ago in ancient Israel and early Christian society would be examined in the context and culture of those times.

    Dan is religious, loving, and gifted. I could tell he was motivated to explore the truth about a subject that has been sorely misinterpreted by the so-called “religious right”. Many people on the religious right are good people and well-intentioned. But some of their actions have caused irreparable physical and psychological harm to many young people. By vociferously condemning homosexuality, the right has contributed to a suicide rate that is several times higher for gay teenagers than straight teens. Many young people have been thrown out of their homes and onto the streets in the name of Christianity. Some of these 13-17 year olds were lured into crime and prostitution in order to make enough money to live. How in the world can this be considered Christian? And the religious right’s advocacy of reparative therapy is utter quackery: it is asking people to live a lie which ultimately causes deep unhappiness and self-loathing.

    When I was in my twenties, I was on the road to Damascus to condemn Christians who were gay because I too thought it was a binary choice, an either/or situation. But, as we know today, it is not a binary choice. In fact, it is not a choice at all. I am bisexual. I’m not just straight; I’m not just gay. I love both women and men. If anyone should be able to make a choice, it should be someone who is bisexual. However, if I can’t make that choice, then how in the world can one expect gay people to choose to be straight, or straight people to choose to be gay? It’s a paradox.

    For the Bible Tells Me So is a documentary that has the potential to open the minds of those people of faith who have been told ad nauseam to “hate the sin, but love the sinner”. I truly believe that most Christian churches have unknowingly misinterpreted the Bible when dealing with the issue of homosexuality. This wouldn’t be the first time in history either. Just remember how the Bible was used to justify slavery, and to subjugate the role of women in society. Slowly but surely the love of God is beginning to penetrate people of faith into understanding that being gay is not a sin, but a gift from God. The Episcopal Church is in the forefront of this movement, and other Christian denominations are beginning to evolve. This documentary will hopefully enlighten us all on our own road to Damascus.

    • Being married, even for a few years, to (nominal Orthodox Christian but more accurately secular humanist activist) Arianna Huffington is enough to turn any man bisexual.

      If Dr Nicholas Denysenko is associated with these people, run far away. Let them become Uniates. Don’t join them.

  9. Here’s the truly insidious thing about what the Phanar did: Logically, it had to have pledged itself as a certain vote against amending the heterodox pre-conciliar documents for the plan to make sense. Why risk alienating all these people by refusing to postpone or negotiate? I mean, we all know prominent representatives from the Vatican have been invited to liturgy in Crete.

    In the face of a number of “coincidences”, one should take the logical step to tie them together, no matter how awful it reflects on certain parties:

    Rome, through the Phanar, rigged a council so that heterodox documents including Rome as part of the Church would inevitably be adopted by the attendees. They did this by making sure that there was no opportunity before the council to amend the documents and including in the working rules that all changes at the council must be unanimous. The language regarding adoption of documents by the synod in Article 13 refers to the “approved documents on the agenda”. They knew what they were doing.

    I repeat, the Phanar has already signed on with Rome, as have those OCA scholars who signed a statement just released in support of the council.

    The flagrant shamelessness is appalling. They think the rest of the Church is too stupid to recognize a trap. They are happy to taint anyone who shows up at Crete with a heterodox outcome they have predetermined and wish to have graced by the Holy Spirit which they will argue accompanied the local churches to Crete.

    Некультурные звери!

    Really, they should, one and all, be excommunicated until they repent and return from Roman Catholicism. But let’s see how wise the Church actually is.

    • As Archimandrite Touma stated:

      “Perhaps, by the grace from above, we may shed this dead skin, lest we rot.”

  10. Father Andrew is peculiar – prior to the re-unification of the PoM and ROCOR, he was vehemently anti-PoM with stinging attacks on Sergism, secret agents as well as the current and late Patriarchs. Since ROCOR re-joined communion, the PoM smells of roses and is all sunshine and sweet.

    The EP, obviously, continuously to be controlled by the US and the Freemasons and presumably the Holy Synod boils new born puppies and kittens.

  11. I don’t know about new born puppies and kittens, but Turkey has been in NATO and the PHANAR has loyally toed the Western secular liberal line during the Cold War and beyond. Throughout the 20th century it has been a force for making Orthodoxy more like the secular/Catholic West. Now, what went on behind the scenes? I’d have to see some documentation to be sure and I assume any collaborators or handlers worth their salt would avoid that kind of thing. But lock step they have been.

    Russians have a saying, “Это не случайно.”

    http://www.kms.org.gr/Portals/0/KMSfiles/kitromilidis/The%20Ecumenical%20Patriarchate%20%282010%29.pdf

    I had thought this was something that “everybody just knew” since I’d never seen it called into question and I’d heard it affirmed by such notables here as Peter P. But for much of Slavic Orthodoxy, anyway, it is pretty much an unshakeable assumption that the Phanar is a tool of the CIA and Western governments. Athenagoras replaced the patriarch before him under considerable duress which everyone acknowledges was at the hands of Western anticommunists. This explains his actions and the subsequent actions of the Phanar, including this most recent effort, during a period of Russian American tension, to bring the Orthodox Church into the Roman Catholic fold.

    It’s a shame that it’s about little more than politics and not a matter of faith. But if you recall the betrayal of Judas, it wasn’t because Judas thought Christ was a heretic. It was because he was the keeper of the purse and a thief and Christ gave away too much.

    War and imperialism is really just a series of bank robberies writ large. When the extension of empire is not for the purpose of establishing order where there is none; i.e., a better, more stable order, it is just economic competition using weapons (and sometimes religious authorities!).

  12. Bashful82 says

    Seriously?

    There is conspiracy theories and conspiracy theories and frankly all the above seems like a whole load of cobblers (and this is is someone who is a member of the Bulgarian Patriarchate).

  13. Well, it looks like the fat lady just got up and started singing.

    Statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church

    For many decades the Russian Orthodox Church took and continues to take an active part in the preparation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. Since the 1st Pan-Orthodox Conference in 1961 on Rhodes, the outstanding hierarchs and the best theologians of our Church have made their contribution to the work on a great number of the Council’s topics, including those which were not to be included later in the agenda of the Holy and Great Council. For the sake of the earliest convocation of the Council, the Russian Orthodox Church has repeatedly re-affirmed her readiness to achieve decisions mutually acceptable for all the participants in the pre-Council process, even if such decisions diverted from the already agreed rules of the Council’s preparation.

    However, the principle of pan-Orthodox consensus has been the invariable basis of the pre-Council process beginning from the 1961 Rhodes Conference, which, on the initiative of the Patriarch of Constantinople, resolved the following: “The decisions of joint meetings shall be adopted with the full unanimity of the delegations of the Churches” (The Procedure for the Function and Work of the Rhodes Pan-Orthodox Conference, Par. 14). Later this rule was fixed in the Rules of Procedure of Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conferences adopted in 1986 as follows: “The texts on all the agenda items of the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conferences shall be approved unanimously” (Article 16). The 2014 Synaxis of the Primate of Orthodox Churches re-affirmed the following: “All the decisions made both during the Council and the preparatory stages shall be made on the basis of consensus” (The Decision of the Synaxis of the Primates, Par. 2a). The same principle was established in the Working Procedure of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, which has been developed by the Synaxis of the Primates of Orthodox Churches, which took place on January 21-28, 2016, in Chambesy. This Procedure provides, among other things, that the Council “shall be convened by His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch with the consent of their Beatitudes the Primates of all the universally recognized Local autocephalous Orthodox Churches Article 1).

    The same Synaxis approved by a majority vote the decision to convene the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church from June 18 to 27, 2016, in Crete. However, this decision, just as the Working Procedure of the Council and the Council’s draft document on “The Sacrament of Marriage and Impediments to It” was not signed by the Orthodox Church of Antioch. The latter was not signed by the delegation of the Georgian Orthodox Church either. The both Churches pointed out to serious reasons for their decision.

    Nevertheless, the Russian Orthodox Church, for the sake of success in the progress towards the convocation of the Council, deemed it possible to sign the above-mentioned documents, expressing, at the same time both at the Synaxis itself and in the correspondence with His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, her conviction of the need to make intensive efforts in the time remaining till the Council (including by the Pan-Orthodox Secretariat established by the Synaxis) for seeking a general Orthodox accord with regard to the documents not signed by the two or one of the Local Churches, which would make the convocation of the Council possible. For reasons beyond the control of the Russian Orthodox Church, no further pan-Orthodox discussion on the existing situation was undertaken.

    The Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, which took place on February 2-3, 2016, approved the position taken by the Russian Orthodox Church delegation at the Chambesy Synaxis and in other pan-Orthodox bodies, expressed its satisfaction with the introduction of the necessary amendments and additions to the Holy and Great Council’s draft documents and having them preliminarily approved on the whole, charged the Holy Synod with forming a delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church to the Pan-Orthodox Council, which was done by the Holy Synod in April 2014. The Bishops’ Council called upon the plenitude of the Russian Orthodox Church ‘to lift up an ardent prayer that the Lord may reveal His will to the members of the forthcoming Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church and that it may fortify the unity of Orthodoxy and serve to the good of the Church of Christ and the glory of God and preserve the Orthodox faith intact’.

    At the same time, the Bishops’ Council expressed ‘the conviction that the free participation of the delegations of all the universally recognized autocephalous Orthodox Churches in the Pan-Orthodox Council is a necessary condition for holding it’, noting that ‘in this connection, the solution of the problem that has arisen in relations between the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem is of special importance’ (Resolutions, Par 6).

    In the hope that a pan-Orthodox accord will be achieved since without it the convocation of the Holy and Great Council is impossible, the Russian Orthodox Church immediately appointed her representatives to the bodies responsible for its further preparation and, using all possible opportunities she had for personal contacts and correspondence, took an active part in the pre-Council process.

    At the same time, the work was carried out to examine critical remarks to the Council’s draft documents coming from the episcopate, clergy and laity and published following the Chambesy Synaxis at the initiative of the Russian Orthodox Church. These comments, often accompanied with criticism with regard to the process of preparations for the Council, were also expressed in many other Local Orthodox Churches. Separating constructive remarks from unfounded criticism with regard to the forthcoming Council and its documents, the Department for External Church Relations came out with explanations and comments responding to the confusions arising in the flock. On June 3, 2016, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church looked closely into the proposals, which had come from the episcopate, clergy, monastics and laity, and approved the Russian Orthodox Church’s amendments to the Pan-Orthodox Council’s draft documents on ‘Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World’ and “Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World’.

    At the same session, the Holy Synod noted that essential amendments to the Council’s draft documents were to a great extent consonant with those presented by the Georgian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Greek Orthodox Churches, as well as the Holy Kinot of Holy Mount Athos, and these amendments need to be thoroughly examined with the aim to find pan-Orthodox consensus necessary for the Council to take decisions.

    At the same time, the Synod took notice of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church Holy Synod’s decision of June 1, 2016, on the need to postpone the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church set for June 18-26 and the Bulgarian Church’s refusal to participate in it if it is not postponed. In this connection, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church noted that the non-participation of even one of the universally recognized autocephalous Orthodox Churches in the Council ‘constitutes an unsurmountable obstacle for holding a Holy and Great Council’.

    These circumstances, as well as the concurrent ‘uncertainty as to the possibility for the Patriarchate of Antioch to attend the Holy and Great Council, just as the absence of a preliminary consensus on the Council’s Working Procedure and the document on ‘The Sacrament of Marriage and Impediments to It’ compelled the Holy Synod to recognize the need for urgent pan-Orthodox actions and to propose that His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople convene no later than the 10th of June an extraordinary Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference to consider the situation and search for a way out of the existing extraordinary situation so that as a result of this conference the Orthodox Church could make a judgement as to the possibility for holding the Pan-Orthodox Council at the planned date.

    By the decision of the Holy Synod, this proposal was immediately sent to His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and to all the Primates of Local Orthodox Churches.

    In His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew’s reply (Letter No. 676 of June 9, 2016) it is stated that the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople ‘deems a new extraordinary pan-Orthodox pre-Council conference impossible since there is no normative basis for it, while very few days have remained till the beginning of the work of the Holy and Great Council’. As for ‘the concerns of some fraternal Churches and the absence of clarity as to the possibility for them to participate in the Council’, the Primate of the Church of Constantinople expressed the confidence that ‘the efforts made to remove arising obstacles will be crowned with success, and all the Churches without exception will take part in the Holy and Great Council. Whereas its postponement or breakdown at the twelfth hour after decades of preparations’ will compromise our Orthodox Church at the inter-church and international level and inflict an irreparable damage on her authority’.

    Attached to the reply was a notice about the extraordinary session of the Patriarchate of Constantinople Holy Synod, which took place on June 6 with the participation of bishops coming to Constantinople. It states that ‘the Holy Synod with astonishment and bewilderment heard the recently voiced positions and opinions of a number of fraternal Orthodox Churches and stated that a review of the Council’s planned process goes beyond all the institutional bonds’. At the same time, the date of the convocation of the Council is referred to as established by a pan-Orthodox decision, though, as was pointed out above, this decision was not signed by the Church of Antioch.

    Meanwhile, the Church of Antioch Holy Synod, on June 6, 2016, after giving detailed reasons pointing to the need to postpone the convocation of the Council, unanimously resolved:

    ‘1. To appeal to His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, in the time separating us from the date of the convocation of this Council, to exert more efforts to achieve consensus for settling all the concerns expressed by Orthodox autocephalous Churches with regard to the Holy and Great Council. If the efforts to achieve consensus are failed, then the Church of Antioch asks to postpone the convocation of the Holy and Great Council to a later date when peaceful relations prevail among all the autocephalous Churches and Orthodox consensus is achieved with regard to the Council’s issues, its Rules and organization procedure.

    The Patriarchate of Antioch will not take part in the Holy and Great Council until all the reasons impeding its participation in the Divine Liturgy in the course of the Council are removed, when a final solution is found to the problem of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem’s invasion in the territory of the Patriarchate of Antioch, which has led to the discontinuance of communion with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

    To re-affirm the importance of participation of all the Orthodox autocephalous Churches in the Holy and Great Council and their decision-making on the basis of general consensus with the aim to preserve the unity of the Orthodox Universal Church.

    To address all the Orthodox Churches, notifying them of the position taken by the Church of Antioch with an explanation of all the reasons that has led to this position.

    To call upon all the faithful together with their pastors to pray together that the Holy Spirit may inspire the Church on her way to unity for the sake of their common witness to Christ before this world’.

    On the same day, the 6th of June, His Holiness Patriarch Irenaeos of Serbia sent to His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and all the Primates of Local Orthodox Churches a letter in which, having enumerated all the existing problems, he pointed out that due to all these circumstances, the Serbian Orthodox Church ‘will find it difficult to take part in the Holy and Great Council and proposes that its convocation be put off for some time’.

    On June 10, 2016, there was a session of the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Having set forth the existing problems, it pointed out that they can be solved through an active work, but recognized that ‘we all have found ourselves in the face of the fact that as of today the unity has not been achieved, and ‘the goal of convening a Council was and is to reveal the unanimity of the Orthodox’. For this reason, the Georgian Church, too, ‘together with other Churches is asking for a postponement of the Council until the universal unity is achieved’. In this connection, the Holy Synod resolved ‘that the delegation of the Georgian Church will not participate in the Great and Holy Council planned to take place on June 16-27 in Crete’.

    Thus, four Local Orthodox Churches (those of Antioch, Georgia, Serbia and Bulgaria) expressed the opinion that it is necessary to postpone the Council, with three of them (those of Antioch, Georgia and Bulgaria) refused to participate in the Council set for June 18-26, while the proposal of the Russian Orthodox Church to convene an extraordinary Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference was not accepted by the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In this situation, the necessary ground for convening a Holy and Great Council – which lies in the existing ‘consent of their Beatitudes the Primates of all the universally recognized Local autocephalous Orthodox Churches’ (Organizational and Working Procedure of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, Article 1) – is obviously absent.

    The only possible decision in this case is to continue the preparation of the Holy and Great Council with the subsequent achievement of pan-Orthodox consent to its convocation at a different date.

    In connection with the above, the Holy Synod, in keeping with the decision made by the Russian Orthodox Church Bishops’ Council on February 2-3, 2016, (Resolutions, Par. 6), resolves:

    that support be given to the proposals of the Orthodox Churches of Antioch, Georgia, Serbia and Bulgaria to postpone the convocation of the Pan-Orthodox Council for a time which will need to be established as a result of a pan-Orthodox discussion and under the indispensable condition that the Primates of all the generally recognized Local autocephalous Orthodox Church agree to it;
    that an appropriate proposal be immediately sent to His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and all the Primates of Local Orthodox Churches;
    that in case of this proposal is not accepted by the Most Holy Church of Constantinople while the Council on Crete is still convened despite the absence of the consent of several Local Orthodox Churches, the participation of the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church in it, with profound regret, be considered impossible;
    that effort to consolidate pan-Orthodox cooperation in preparing the future Holy and Great Council be continued by all possible means, as it is called to become a true witness to the unity of the Holy Universal and Apostolic Church;
    that the opinion be expressed once again that a successful accomplishment of the Council’s preparation could be promoted by the more intensive work of the Pan-Orthodox Secretariat as a body which makes it possible to examine proposals for the resolution of problematic issues, to settle the existing differences, to finalize the necessary documents and to remove all the obstacles for the convocation and God-pleasing completion of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church;
    to consider it desirable that, taking into account the proposals expressed in many Local Orthodox Churches, the future Council could be attended by all the hierarchs of the Holy Churches of God without restrictions, since it will certainly enhance the authority of the decisions made by the Council.

    ‘The name of the Church is not that of division, but unity and harmony’ teaches St. John Chrysostom (Homily on First Corinthians, 1,1). In the name of harmony and unanimity we are to listen ‘what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Rev. 2:7) in the spirit of condescension and brotherly love, without mutual reproaches and inflicting new wounds on the divine-human Body of the Church, listening to one another and especially to the Divine Revelation sealed in Holy Scriptures and the Holy Tradition, and to draw the necessary lessons for the mistake we made for the reason of our human weakness, which were made in the course of the current preparations for the Holy and Great Council, so that with Godspeed we may achieve the unimpeded accomplishment of this great event to the glory of God and the good of the Orthodox Church.

    The Holy Synod calls again upon the episcopate, clergy, monastics and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church to lift up a fervent prayer that our Lord Jesus Christ may reveal His almighty help and His holy will in this pursuit.

    • And just to add my own two cents to this discussion, I have to say that I’m just amazed at the hubris of the ecumenical patriarch regarding the handling of this entire council. He clearly did not regard the matter between the Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Antiochian Patriarchate as much of anything. And clearly he and his handlers didn’t care at all about whether or not all of the autocephalous churches attended this council or whether or not they agreed with the documents to be approved. Everything was simply a fate accompli.

      I’m glad to see that the Holy Synod of Russia did the right thing. They certainly gave this council a fighting chance but it looks like it’s not really going to happen at this time.

  14. Michael Kinsey says

    High ranking clerics rolling in deceitfulness, in an excessive manner, spured on by the US shadow governemnt, leaves a clear desire to run to another who, to least speaks of Truth as Truth. Do as they say, not as they do. Problem, reaction, solution is a potent technique, successfully applyed many times in the past 2,000 years.
    My point here is the Russion Church was appointing KGB bishops for 70 years. The Sergian spirit, which betrayed most of the faithful, by pronouncing the Sergian Declaration, thus sending Christ’s faithful servants into the gulag to die, and they did. Is the US sending thier spooks to the EP, to cause the faithful to turn to the Moscow Church.
    The Rock the authentic Christian Church is built upon is God’s Revelation to the human heart, not any clericail position. The 7 Holy Consuls gave us the Truth as it was revealed to thier hearts. This Revelation and action of the Holy Spirit has not ceased as 300,000- 600,000 pro-lifers marching every year since Roe Vs Wade was inacted all have this Revelation. There are many other examples I could write of, but this one is sufficient. All these people are not Orthodox, but most, in thier hearts are Christians.
    The homosexuality agenda suddenly appeared in the comments here.. Spouting lying proclamations start to finsh. God made them male a female, with not a one DNA strand of homosexuality, every human who ever lived included. This IS the Truth spoken by the Truth, Jesus Christ.Choice have consecuences, such as the wages of sin is death, physical, we all are mortal because we have all fallen short. And spiritual death, the second death> this second death does not desolate the abundant life the Christ gives to all who recieve Him and obey His Word. They who have this life Love and serve God alone, and live( do) the Word of the Christ. Choices have consecuences. For those who build the beast, and those who enter into the great whore. These do not do as those who have the Christian God given abundant life. The consecuences of ignoring God’s Word and building the beast, is a God sent number of plagues( punishments) to the great whorite and beasters. The bi-sexual guy claims he had no choice, and he is correct, he is punished by God, for sefish self service and living for bread alone, Ignoring obedience, (except for perhaps, lip service and excessive emotional self endulging, not the heartfelt Spirit and Truth authentic Christianity joyeously proclaims.In a nut shell, they speak in emotions and relative truth, not absolutes. St John Chrysostom say gays re being punished by the Holy God, and thier punishment is, that they like it( Homosexuality. Authentic male and female Christians are appauled by it. They gays are the inheriters of eternal damnation, we are the inheriters of Eternal Life, unworthy as we are. This always cause me to grieve, as the gays are as human as we are, and were created to live for all eternity, as all humanity is and was.

  15. Alan Hampton says

    Russia suggests postponing historical all-Orthodox meeting
    Associated Press
    6/13/2016 9:57 AM

    MOSCOW — The Russian Orthodox Church is suggesting postponing a historic meeting of all of the world’s Orthodox churches.

    The meeting on the Greek island of Crete due to start on Sunday could be the first in more than a millennium.

    Hilarion, a bishop who heads the Moscow Patriarchate’s department of external church relations, said in a televised statement on Monday that Russia would not take part in it if others are walking out, and suggested the meeting be postponed.

    Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who ranks as “the first among equals”, hoped that the gathering of leaders of 14 independent Orthodox churches later this month could promote unity among the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians.

    Bulgaria’s church said last week it would not attend, putting the plans in jeopardy.

  16. Joseph I. says

    Russia is out…. That`s a wrap.
    http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/94246.htm

  17. Tommy Tomopolous says
  18. ReaderEmanuel says

    A correction to the original post is necessary. The Phanar did not invade the Church of Greece’s ecclesiatical territory. Crete is and always has been subject to Constantinople, not the Church of Greece. One of my relatives was Metropolitan (in the 1860s) in the very area they are holding the Council in…

    • The reference is not to Crete, it is to the EP building at least one church (in Athens, I believe) in Greece proper without even seeking permission from the Church of Greece to do so. The Greeks refused to send a delegation to one of the pre-conciliar meetings as a protest, as I recall. The Phanar is not above acting in a heavy handed way even with fellow Greeks.

  19. Carl Kraeff says

    Misha wrote “I don’t know about new born puppies and kittens, but Turkey has been in NATO and the PHANAR has loyally toed the Western secular liberal line during the Cold War and beyond. Throughout the 20th century it has been a force for making Orthodoxy more like the secular/Catholic West.”

    Y’all are forgetting the context. We are talking about the start of the Cold War. For those of you with short memories, all of the Slavic Churches were under the cruel yoke of the Communist monsters, headquartered in Moscow. The Western strategy was to contain further expansion. Italy and the Pope, and Greece/Turkey and the Patriarchate of Constantinople were key players to save Christianity from the Godless Communists. Besides, Patriarch Athenagoras was a naturalized US citizen; did you expect him not to fight Bolshevik thugs? The Russian Church, the Orthodox Churches of Moscow’s satrapies in Eastern Europe, as well as the Catholic and Protestant Churches in the Soviet Empire, were all headed by prelates who were Communist agents and informers and actually were run by special government bureaucrats. It was in the common interest of all the free churches to stand fast against the evil men who were in charge. That did not mean that the free churches were going to willy-nilly unify for the sake of opposing evil. That merely meant that they were going to cooperate when possible to combat the Soviet scourge, in which the ROC played an important part. Russia is no longer an evil empire, but a country that is looking nostalgically to when it was on the surface great. Russia and Russophiles are forgetting all of the sacrifices of the catacomb church and of ROCOR,and are mindlessly embracing the rhetoric of the Soviets against the West. We desperately need another Solzhenitsyn to bring Russia to her senses. We certainly can do without folks in the West who do not remember, and worse, who do not want to remember. Shame!

    • Anonymus per Scorilo says

      Actually the hierarchs of the Russian church back then were not just “Communist agents and informers”

      At the Moscow Pan-Orthodox meeting after the war, Patriarch Nicodim of Romania forgot his prayer rope in the council room, and when he came back to get it, the bishops of the Russian delegations were taking their beards and their mustaches off !!! He was quite surprised, especially given their high erudition in theological matters manifested in the previous days.

      This was directly witnessed by the Patriarch Nicodim to several Romanian politicians, one of whom survived 20 years of Communist prisons to tell it (in Romanian): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asojWAwSTzI

      Of course, upon returning to Romania the Patriarch Nicodim was promptly retired and died quickly thereafter of natural causes

      So the “hierarchs” of the the Russian church back then were actually not even hierarchs 🙁

      • The Church of Russia was at a terrible low point under the Communists. This is why the Church Abroad could not in good conscience subordinate herself to the MP. ROCOR never officially stated that the MP lost grace, but the fact is that it was a shell of its former self. Glory to God that it is being rehabilitated.

  20. Thomas Barker says

    In practical terms, how would the bishops participating in a Great Council communicate, given the number of languages spoken? Would there be real-time translation via headsets and interpreters? Pardon my ignorance, but it is difficult to imagine how discussions would proceed. If someone who knows would be so kind as to explain, it would be appreciated.
    Thomas

    • Likely real-time translation, like they have at the United Nations. The delegations probably would prefer bishops who can speak Greek and various languages also.

    • Yes, for those who need it, there will be real-time translation via headsets and interpreters. It’s totally normal and works very well at all kinds of ecclesiastical gatherings and conferences in Europe, including the ones hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

  21. r j klancko says

    we its over guys, the third rome has prevailed, moscow is not coming per metropolian ilarion, time for black bart to retire — c’est dommage

  22. Alan Hampton says

    Thomas:
    Contrary to what you may think, everyone understands English. As Greek was the universal language around the Med in Roman/Byzantine times and French in Europe later, today English is the universal language around the world. The Greeks would still like you to believe Greek rules and the Russians want everyone to learn Russian, but in reality, it’s English and that won’t change anytime soon.

    • Thomas Barker says

      Alan,
      The Ecumenical Patriarchate has collected a small army of language experts for the occasion. Your comments on the near ubiquity of English possess a degree of cogency, but I doubt that all delegates from the 14 canonical Orthodox churches will be speaking English.

  23. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPpDNCDYE_k

    This is Dr. Chryssavgis on the council. It should be clear to all now that Constantinople has signed on to Unia and has left the Church.

    It’s done.

    Now, the Church must gird up its loins so to speak and have the courage to acknowledge what has happened. The Phanar will attempt to impose whatever heterodox decisions it emanates at the council upon the rest of the Orthodox. They are not being coy about that fact. They are stating it in public on Youtube for all to see. They intend a Unia and they intend to enforce it on the Orthodox. They have tried it before (Florence), they have flirted with it in the last century (1923, Meletios IV, 1965 Athenagoras), and they are attempting to finish it now.

    The only question left is, “Who is Uniate and who is Orthodox?” That matters too. Someone is going to have to answer that question and it should not be Constantinople because they recognize no difference between the two anymore.

    The faithful are awaiting the direction of their pastors who seem to be dragging their heels . . .

  24. Forgive me, the following are thoughts of humble and afraid sinner…

    I think it is telling that those who in various areas have been promoting a ‘liberal’ or modernist agenda seem to be zealous for this council. As time passes, I think we are seeing the modernist / anti-modernist split more and more. This is good, I think. Too much has been hidden so far.

    Also, to those who think that not going is a sign of ‘not wanting to talk’, things are more complicated than that. Sometimes it’s important not to legitimize a process or event, for the sake of avoiding error and scandal. If, for example, the Pope of Rome invites the EP to an event titled ‘The Meeting to Unite All Christians’, naturally the EP would decline (or he should), until the title and details of the meeting are changed to something more truthful and less scandalous. I am all for ecumenism, but ecumenism of the type that Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol so beautifully wrote about (http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/90619.htm). And Athanasios, as well as his Greek colleague Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, can hardly be labelled ‘fundamentalists’!

    On the issue of the legitimacy of the EP, I would just like to add the following… Archimandrite Touma’s letter explained well the problem of the EP’s domain having been reduced to a parish. One of the problems with this, in my humble opinion, is that the EP’s office is now extremely vulnerable to political and hence modernist pressures, since he has little ‘political capital’ so speak of now. In order to survive as a Patriarch, the office needs to make many secular friends and conjoin agendas, and I think that’s what’s happening. I am not judging the current EP – I do not know him – but I am just saying that the office, for historical reasons, has been compromised, and it would take a very strong and faithful bishop to withstand the pressures. The situation is perhaps analogous to the position of the Moscow Patriarchate during Communist times. Sure the church survived with God’s help, and it did a lot of good, but it was severely compromised. Something needs to be slowly done about this situation – Father Touma seems right on.

    • You speak well, Sal.

    • You are correct. Fr. Touma is spot on.

      The Patriarchate of Constantinople should not be in existence. There is no Constantinople…..there is barely a flock. Some of his bishops have no flock at all. This Robber Council is a last ditch effort to hold onto power while compromising the faith to the secular agenda. It is extremely sad to see his attack dogs insulting some of the most faithful and pious bishops in Holy Orthodoxy today. The EP Propaganda machines (such as the people at Fordham University) are shameful and disgraceful. As I have said before, they are already uniate in mind and spirit…..let them make it official.

  25. Kosta Langis says

    I am a lifelong member of the GOARCH, cradle Orthodox. Forget about blaming politics. The interfaith document is HERETICAL! Let’s call it what it is and let’s attach that heretical label to all bishops that subscribe to it. Bartholomew and most of his synod are HERETICS. And next time you see a zealot or a fanatic or old calendarist or the dreaded traditionalist, don’t call him backwards, don’t say he promotes hate instead apologize to him, because they are right. Accept it, we were wrong and they were right. The EP is heretical.

  26. Bashful82 says

    Frankly as a first matter of course, everyone bl**dy calm down!

    There is no evidence the EP has “signed up to Rome” or that the entire Patriachate is going Uniate.

    Don’t spread baseless gossip – the Internet loves to take these and spread it like wildfire.

    Don’t accuse people of heresy unless there is clear proof – you may not like actions taken by the EP but until he is officially declared a heretic/schismatic, he remains a bishop and should be treated with the appropriate respect his positions demands (even if you don’t like a particular individual occupying the office). Unless you somehow can read minds and have read the minds of the EP Synod, don’t throw stones in glasshouses and do take the splinter in your eye out first.

    This is not a Robber Council – it hasn’t even taken place. You’re all putting the cart before the horse.

    • https://www.orthodoxcouncil.org/-/the-ecumenical-significance-of-the-holy-and-great-council-of-the-orthodox-church?inheritRedirect=true&redirect=%2F

      This is off of the Ecumenical Patriarchate website on the council. I’m posting it here before they take it down. Take a look at the next to last paragraph which I have highlighted in bold. That . . . is . . . Uniatism. Period:

      The Ecumenical Significance of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church

      Lecture at the headquarters of the KEK in Brussels on May 30, 2016

      Archbishop Job of Telmessos

      The Holy and Great Council and the Question of Ecumenism

      The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church to be convened on Crete on June 20-26, 2016 will be the culmination of a century of preparation. Indeed, the Patriarchal and Synodical Encyclical of Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim III of June 12, 1902, through which the Primates of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches were called to collaborate to face the problems concerning the Orthodox Church at that time was the spark which initiated the preparation of a Great Pan-Orthodox Council. That encyclical raised already at that time the question of ecumenical relations and theological dialogue with non-Orthodox Churches. There, we can read:

      “It is, moreover, pleasing to God, and in accordance with the Gospel, to seek the mind of the most holy autocephalous Churches on the subject of our present and future relations with the two great growths of Christianity, viz. the Western Church and the Church of the Protestants. Of course, the union of them and of all who believe in Christ with us in the Orthodox faith is the pious and heart-felt desire of our Church and of all genuine Christians who stand firm in the evangelical doctrine of unity, and it is the subject of constant prayer and supplication; but at the same time we are not unaware that this pious desire comes up against the unbroken persistence of these Churches in doctrines on which, having taken their stand as on a base hardened by the passage of time, they seem quite disinclined to join a road to union, such as is pointed out by evangelical and historical truth; nor do they evince any readiness to do so, except on terms and bases on which the desired dogmatic unity and fellowship is unacceptable to us”.[1]

      The encyclical continues in addressing the other Orthodox Autocephalous Churches:

      “Wherefore, if it might be acceptable to the holy brethren to follow up this suggestion, we are bold to add this fraternal question: whether the present is judged to be the right time for preliminary conference on this, to prepare a level ground for a fraternal approach and to determine, by common agreement of members of the whole of the Orthodox Church, what might be considered the best bases, ways and means”.[2]

      It is important to underline, that 60 years prior to the Second Vatican Council and 46 years before the creation of the World Council of Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim III called all the other Orthodox Autocephalous Churches to discuss in a synodical way, “by common agreement” the question of the relations of the Orthodox Church with other Christian Churches, besides other questions pertaining to inter-Orthodox relations, the question of the calendar and various questions of disciplinary order.

      Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras revived the idea of convening a Council after the Second World War, by two patriarchal letters addressed to the Primates of the Patriarchal and Autocephalous Orthodox Churches in 1951 and 1952. In 1961, the First Pan-Orthodox Conference met in Rhodes and officially and definitively launched the process of the preparation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church by approving a long list of topics to be addressed by the Council, classified in eight categories, among which one listed questions referring to the relations of the Orthodox Churches with the rest of the Christian world. In 1968, the Fourth Pan-Orthodox Conference held in Chambésy instituted a Secretariat for the preparation of the Holy and Great Council based in Chambésy, as well as the instances of Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Commissions and Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar Conferences to elaborate the pre-conciliar texts, and selected a list of six themes to be examined by the Council.

      This list was revised by the First Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar Conference of Chambésy in 1976, which restricted it to ten subjects among which two preferred the relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of Christian world: 1) The relations of the Orthodox Church with other Churches and Christian confessions and 2) The relations of the Orthodox Church to the Ecumenical Movement. Therefore, two documents on these two topics were prepared and later approved by the Third Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar Conference of Chambésy in 1986. All this preparation was based on the contributions from every Orthodox Autocephalous Church and approved unanimously on a pan-Orthodox level.

      After a period of stagnation, the process of preparation of the Holy and Great Council continued under the impulse of the Synaxes of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, meeting in 1992, 1995 and 2000 through the initiative of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. While gathered in Synaxis in Constantinople, at the see of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Phanar in March 2014, the Primates of the Orthodox Churches decided to convene a special inter-Orthodox commission to review a few texts of the Second and Third Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conferences of 1982 and 1986, among which were listed the two texts on the relations of the Orthodox Church with other Churches and Christian confessions and on the relations of the Orthodox Church to the Ecumenical Movement. This revision was necessary, since many things had happened and involved in both the Ecumenical Movement and in the bilateral theological dialogues since 1986.

      A special inter-Orthodox commission met at the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy in October 2014, February 2015 and March-April 2015 and reviewed the texts on the relationship of the Orthodox Church to the Ecumenical Movement, on the relationship of the Orthodox Church with the Christian world and combined them together in a single document entitled “The relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world”. This combined revised text was finally approved by the Fifth Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar Conference of Chambésy of October 10-17, 2015. Finally, the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches met in Chambésy in January 2016 and decided to put it on the agenda of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church to be convened on Crete in June 2016.

      The document on “The relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world”

      The document entitled “The relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world”[3] is certainly one of the most controversial documents to be discussed at the upcoming Council, and nonetheless an extremely important one. It is essential, in order to understand the spirit of the document and to respond to the critiques that it has generated, to underline that the documents identifies “the Orthodox Church as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church”:

      “The Orthodox Church, as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, in her profound ecclesiastical conscience, firmly believes that she maintains a central place in matters pertaining to the promotion of unity among Christians in the contemporary world” (paragraph 1).

      It also reminds that “The Orthodox Church’s ecumenical mission and her responsibility to preserve unity were articulated by the Ecumenical Councils, which stressed the indissoluble link between true faith and sacramental communion” (paragraph 3) and that since it “unceasingly prays ‘for the union of all’”, she “has always cultivated dialogue with those estranged from her, both far and near” (paragraph 4). Christian unity is clearly the goal expressed by the document which concludes with the prayer “that all Christians may work together so that the day may soon come when the Lord will fulfil the hope of the Orthodox Churches for one fold and one shepherd (Jn. 10:16)” (paragraph 24).

      The document reminds that the Orthodox Church “has led the way in recent efforts to restore unity between those who believe in Christ, and she has participated in the Ecumenical Movement since its commencement, contributing to its formation and further development” (paragraph 4). As a matter of fact, the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s encyclical of 1920 “unto the Churches of Christ everywhere”, stating that the Orthodox Church “holds that rapprochement (προσέγγισις) between the various Christian Churches and fellowship (κοινωνία) between them is not excluded by the doctrinal differences which exist between them”,[4] and furthermore calling for the “necessity for establishing a contact and league (fellowship — κοινωνία) between the Churches”,[5] by analogy to the League of Nations created in 1919, is considered to be a pioneering step towards the creation of the World Council of Churches in 1948. On this basis, the pre-conciliar document states that the Orthodox Church “has always advocated for the restoration of Christian unity. Therefore, Orthodoxy’s participation in the movement to restore unity between Christians does not contradict the nature and history of the Orthodox Church, but rather represents a consistent expression of the apostolic faith and tradition in a new historical context” (paragraph 4). While rejecting “all forms of proselytism and every offensive act of inter-confessional competition”, the document considers that “the Orthodox Church deems it important for all Christians, inspired by common fundamental principles of our faith, to offer a generous and charitable response to the difficult challenges posed today by the world, and to base this response on the ideal of humankind renewed in Christ” (paragraph 23).

      It is therefore not surprising to see that the World Council of Churches occupies a large place of the pre-conciliar document (paragraphs 16-19 and 21). It defines it “a structured inter-Christian body, despite the fact that it does not include all Christian Churches and Confessions” (paragraph 16) and mentions at the same time other inter-Christian organizations and regional bodies, such as the Conference of European Churches and the Middle East Council of Churches, stressing that all of these ecumenical institutions “fulfil an important mission by promoting the unity of the Christian world” (paragraph 16). Incidentally, the document mentions, perhaps as a regret, that the Orthodox Churches of Georgia and Bulgaria withdrew from the WCC respectively in 1997 and 1998. It also acknowledges the efforts of the WCC, following these withdraws, “to respond to her request concerning the establishment of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the World Council of Churches, which was mandated by the Inter-Orthodox Conference held in Thessaloniki in 1998” which finally led to adopt the principle of consensus for the decision making process of the WCC and the formation of the Permanent Committee on Consensus and Collaboration (paragraph 17).

      Having in mind that the Orthodox Church is ontologically the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (paragraph 1), the pre-conciliar document clearly states that “the Orthodox Church’s participation in the WCC does not signify that she accepts the notion of the ‘equality of Confessions’, nor that she understands Church unity as an inter-confessional compromise” (paragraph 18), and that “that participation in the WCC must be grounded in the principle article of its Constitution, which affords membership only to those Churches and Confessions that recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour — according to the Scriptures — and confess the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — according to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed” (paragraph 19). Furthermore, the documents underlines that “the ecclesiological presuppositions of the 1950 Toronto Statement, ‘On the Church, the Churches and the World Council of Churches’, are of paramount importance for Orthodox participation in the Council. It is therefore clear that the WCC does not by any means constitute a ‘super-Church’” (paragraph 19).

      The document expresses also support to the work of the WCC Commission on Faith and Order, founded in 1927, by stating that it “follows its theological contribution with particular interest to this day”, while underlining that the Commission’s theological documents “were developed with significant participation of Orthodox theologians and represent a praiseworthy step in the Ecumenical Movement for the rapprochement of the Churches” (paragraph 21).

      While confessing the Orthodox Church as the true Church, the document acknowledges the existence of other Christian Churches, not in communion with her, and stresses the necessity of engaging into a theological dialogue with them in order to restore unity: “The Orthodox Church acknowledges the historical existence of other Christian Churches and Confessions that are not in communion with her and believes that her affiliation with them should be based on a speedy and objective elucidation of all ecclesiological topics, most especially their general teachings on sacraments, grace, priesthood, and apostolic succession. Accordingly, for theological and pastoral reasons, Orthodoxy has viewed dialogue with various Christian Churches and Confessions, as well her participation, in general, in the present-day Ecumenical Movement in a favourable manner” (paragraph 6). It also stresses in these dialogues the necessity for the synergy between human efforts and the grace of God: “while the Orthodox Church dialogues with other Christians, she does not underestimate challenges present in this endeavour; however, she responds to these challenges on the journey toward a common understanding of the Tradition of the ancient Church with hope that the Holy Spirit, ‘Who holds together the whole institution of the Church’, will ‘complete that which is lacking’” (paragraph 8).

      The pre-conciliar document underlines as well the necessity for all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches to be present and participate in the Pan-Orthodox bilateral dialogues conducted under the leadership of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with all the Christian Churches and Confessions. Thus, it states: “In the event that a certain local Church does not wish to assign a representative to a particular dialogue or one of its sessions, the dialogue still continues if this decision is not pan-Orthodox. Prior to the start of a dialogue or each session, the Orthodox Committee of the dialogue ought to discuss the absence of the local Church as an expression of the harmony and unity of the Orthodox Church” (paragraph 9). At the same time, the document stresses that “the problems arising during theological discussions within Joint Theological Commissions are not always sufficient grounds for any local Orthodox Church unilaterally to recall its representatives or definitively withdraw from the dialogue”, and clearly states that the withdraw of an Orthodox Autocephalous Church should be avoided (paragraph 10).

      According to the pre-conciliar document, “the end of an official theological dialogue occurs with the completion of the relevant work of the Joint Theological Commission. This then requires the Chairman of the Inter-Orthodox Commission to submit a report to the Ecumenical Patriarch, who, with the consent of the Primates of the local Orthodox Churches, declares the conclusion of the dialogue. A dialogue is not considered complete before it is proclaimed thus by pan-Orthodox decision” (paragraph 14). Therefore, it is “Upon the successful conclusion of the work of a theological dialogue” that “the restoration of ecclesiastical communion may be announced following a unanimous pan-Orthodox decision by all local Orthodox Churches” (paragraph 15).

      Another very important statement in this pre-conciliar document is that “the prospects for conducting theological dialogues between the Orthodox Church and other Christian Churches and Confessions shall always be derived from the canonical criteria of established Church Tradition (Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council and Canon 95 of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council)” (paragraph 20). These two canons, and particularly the second one, are of extreme importance since they actually formulate criteria based on the baptismal practice with or without a Trinitarian formula in order to determine the ecclesiality of groups that have separated themselves from the ecclesial body and by determining whether they ought or not to be re-baptised when they were coming back to the communion with the Church.[6] So, according to Canon 95 of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council, Arians, Macedonians, Novatians (Cathari), Aristeri, Tetradites, and Apollinarians ought to be received on their presentation of certificates of faith and on their anathematizing every heresy by the anointing of the holy chrism, as opposed to Paulianists, Eunomeans, Montanists and Sabellians who ought to be re-baptized, while Manichæans, Valentinians, Marcionites, Nestorians, Eutychians, Dioscorus, Severus and all of similar heresies ought to give certificates of faith and anathematize each his own heresy in order to participate in the Eucharist. Therefore, if the holy canons of the Orthodox Church do not prescribe to some heretics to be re-baptised, how could the Orthodox Church impose today re-baptism to Christians who wish to join her, coming from Churches that are not in communion with her, but nevertheless, that were never condemned by a Church council as heretic?

      Concerning the fundamentalist and anti-ecumenical tendencies within the Orthodox Church, the pre-conciliar document reminds that “the Orthodox Church considers all efforts to break the unity of the Church, undertaken by individuals or groups under the pretext of maintaining or defending true Orthodoxy, as being worthy of condemnation”, since “only conciliarity — always the suitable and final judge in matters of faith in the Church — can preserve the authentic Orthodox faith” (paragraph 22). As a matter of fact, this conciliar principle was also reminded by the Patriarchal and Synodical Encyclical of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the Convocation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, issued on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 20, 2016: “The distinction between truth and falsehood — orthodoxy and heresy — is not always easily discernible. Even heretics believed, and continue to believe, that they possessed the truth; moreover, there will always be some who shall consider those who do not agree with their position as “heretics.” The Orthodox Church, in this case, recognizes only one authority: the Council of her canonical hierarchs. Beyond a conciliar decision, the distinction between orthodoxy and heresy is not possible. The Church’s dogmas and holy canons bear the seal of conciliarity. Orthodoxy is the conciliar Church”.[7]

      Reactions to the pre-conciliar document

      The document entitled “The relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world” is definitely the pre-conciliar document that has provoked the most reactions within the Orthodox Church. Some lay people, monastics, professors of theology, priests, bishops, and even local synods have made comments and severe critiques of the document.

      All the reactions could be easily summarised in three points: 1) there is no need to restore the unity of the Church (as expressed in the document in articles 4, 5, 7, 12, 16, 17, 18 and 24) since the only possible way is that heretics and schismatics return to the only Church, which is the Orthodox Church through repentance and therefore, the prayer of the Orthodox for the “union of all” is interpreted as a prayer for those, that they may return to the true Church; 2) there are no Churches and no Christian Confessions (as stated in the document in articles 6, 16, 18, 19 and 20) outside the Orthodox Church, which is the only true Church; 3) therefore, there is no “Christian world” (as stated in the title of the document and articles 8, 16 and 24) outside the Orthodox Church.

      Such heavy and provocative affirmations that have been made during the last few months in different parts of the Orthodox Church unfortunately show not only an ignorance of the history and the development of ecumenical relations and the bilateral dialogues in the 20th century, but also a total illiteracy in history, theology and canon law.

      The argumentation of the so-called “fighters against the heresy of ecumenism” is certainly based on a literal comprehension of the famous saying of Cyprian of Carthage – “Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus”, which incidently was not accepted by Saint Augustine who recognised the existence of sacraments outside the Church. Of course, as long as we identify the charismatic limits of the Church of Christ to the canonical limits of the Orthodox Church, as the protagonists of such affirmations do, one cannot see Christians and Churches outside of the Orthodox Church.

      Nevertheless, in an ecumenical context that has been just born, the great Orthodox theologian and patrologist Georges Florovsky investigated the question of the limits of the Church in a famous article written in 1933,[8] which obviously most of the critics of the pre-conciliar document have not read. Having studied the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church, Florovsky noticed that there are circumstances when the Church recognises that sacraments could be celebrated outside her strict canonical limits. This is the case evoked by the canons 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council and 95 of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council, mentioned before, that introduce a clear distinction between those heretics that have to be re-baptised and those who do not have to be re-baptised. Therefore, Florovsky proposed to reverse the cyprianic saying to say: “Where the sacraments are performed, there is the Church”, understanding that the sacraments that are being considered valid among the heretics or the schismatics comes from the Church itself, which maintains them in link with the Church, especially when these wish to come back to the full communion with the Church.

      Besides the theological reflection on the notion of the limits of the Church, the antagonists of the relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world seem to ignore all the discussions and decisions that have been made in the second half of the 20th century at the Pan-Orthodox Conferences of Rhodes (1961, 1963 and 1964) and Chambésy (1968). Indeed, the First Pan-Orthodox Conferences of Rhodes (1961) has underlined the proximity, which existed then between the Orthodox and the Anglican Church, and encouraged relations with the Roman Catholic Church. Two years later, the Second Pan-Orthodox Conferences of Rhodes (1963) decided to send Orthodox observers to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and recommended to initiate a dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church on equal levels. The Third Pan-Orthodox Conferences of Rhodes (1964) reaffirmed the necessity to conduct a dialogue with the Roman Catholics, the Anglicans and the Old Catholics. Finally, the Fourth Pan-Orthodox Conference of Chambésy (1968) stated that it would be favourable to seek the reestablishment of relations with the Church of Rome and of a dialogue with the Lutherans, and in this perspective, established inter-Orthodox committees for a theological dialogue with these Churches and Confessions.

      Another very important and significant event that is often ignored not only by the antagonists of the participation of the Orthodox Church in the Ecumenical Movement, but by many Orthodox in general, is the lifting up of the anathemas of 1054 between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople at the end of the Second Vatican Council, on December 7th, 1965. As the Church historian and canonist Vlassios Phidas writes, “it is obvious, from a canonical point of view, that this ecclesial situation of the rupture of communion (akoinonesia) is clearly distinguished from the state of an accomplished schism, since, by the lifting up of the anathemas of 1054, we are now standing in the situation we were before their imposition”.[9] Therefore, if the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople are now in a state of rupture of communion (akoinonesia), due to historical events and theological disputes, while both sides wish today to restore the full ecclesiastical communion, how can some dare, even through the voice of a local synod, not to acknowledge the Church of Rome as a Church, or to consider her members as schismatics, or even, as heretics?

      The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, especially through its document entitled “The relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world” will definitely have a crucial ecumenical significance. This is why not only the Orthodox, but all Christians, are called to pray, so that the Holy Spirit inspire and direct the Fathers of the Council. And speaking of the future of ecumenism, we should recall the words of the late Metropolitan Damaskinos Papandreou, who was the first secretary for the preparation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church: “The future of ecumenism consists in the mission of the Churches, that identify themselves to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, to search for Churches outside their own canonical boundaries”.[10] This is precisely what the pre-conciliar document we have presented does, and we hope that it shall be properly received by the Council in order to fulfil the evangelical commandment that “all may be one” (Jn. 17:21).

      – Archbishop Job of Telmessos, Permanent Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the WCC

      [1] Patriarchal and Synodical Encyclical of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of 1902. G. Limouris (Ed.), Orthodox Visions of Ecumenism. Geneva: WCC Publications, 1994, p. 2-3.

      [2] Ibid., p. 3.

      [3] Cf. : https://www.holycouncil.org/-/rest-of-christian-world?inheritRedirect=true&redirect=%2F&_101_INSTANCE_M8gWCQe69nZW_languageId=en_US

      [4] Encyclical of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of 1920. G. Limouris (Ed.), Op. cit., p. 9.

      [5] Ibid., p. 11.

      [6] Cf. : V. Phidas, « Baptism and Ecclesiology », The Ecumenical Review 54 (2002), p. 39-47 ; Id., « Το κύρος τοῦ βαπτίσματος τῶν αἱρετικῶν και το ζήτημα τοῦ ἀναβαπτίσματος », Orthodoxia 11 (2004), p. 421-456.

      [7] https://www.patriarchate.org/-/patriarchike-kai-synodike-enkyklios-epi-tei-synklesei-tes-agias-kai-megales-synodou-tes-orthodoxou-ekklesias?inheritRedirect=true&redirect=%2Fpatriarchal-encyclicals-proclamations&_101_INSTANCE_fEZFt85tpm4T_languageId=en_US

      [8] G. Florovsky, « The limits of the Church », Church Quarterly Review 117 (233) 1933, p. 117-131. See also : J. Famerée, « Les limites de l’Église : canoniques ou charismatiques ? », Le concile Vatican II et l’Église orthodoxe, (Analecta Chambesiana 5), Chambésy, 2015, p. 116-130.

      [9] V. Phidas, « Les conséquences de la levée des anathèmes », », Le concile Vatican II et l’Église orthodoxe, (Analecta Chambesiana 5), Chambésy, 2015, p. 103-115.

      [10] Métropolite Damaskinos Papandréou, « Les dialogues œcuméniques de l’Église orthodoxe hier et aujourd’hui », Les dialogues œcuméniques hier et aujourd’hui (Études théologiques 5), Chambésy, 1986, p. 50.

    • Isa Almisry says

      “This is not a Robber Council – it hasn’t even taken place. You’re all putting the cart before the horse.”
      No, we are cutting the ties of the cart to the run away horse before it goes over the cliff.

    • You have obviously not read the heretical documents or heard the EP directive regarding decisions being binding on all Churches. You will see the fruit in short time. The EP has been on this road since Metaxakis (of thrice wretched memory). This Robber Council is only a formality.

  27. With continuing disparaging statements being made on this blog about Vatican II, I did some reconnaissance work on the changes that were actually made. The Second Vatican Council called for a modernization of some church practices as a means of opening a dialogue with the world and better spreading the good news of the Gospel which is a laudable goal.
    Contrary to some belief, Vatican II changed no doctrines of the Church, since doctrine can never change. One of the most visible changes resulting from Vatican II was the celebration of the Mass in the vernacular (i.e., current languages such as English, Spanish, French, etc., depending on the country) instead of Latin. This is consistent with Orthodox historical practice, use of the language of the people.

    Another change was an emphasis on the role of the laity in the life of the Church. I firmly believe Orthodoxy needs to maximize the use all gifts among the members of the Body of Christ. It is not only the priest who is endowed with spiritual gifts.

    Vatican II changed the practice of the priest having his back to the congregation during the Mass so that the priest now faces the congregation. I in no way find this to be an alarming change and in some ways it may enhance worship. I have never seen an icon of the Last Supper with Jesus having his back turned to the disciples.

    After Vatican II communion could now be received in the hand where in previous practice no one was permitted to touch the host except the priest and deacon. In the ancient Liturgy of St James, which still is occasionally practiced, the Eucharist is received in the hand as in current Catholic practice.

    Finally, the laity is encouraged to be more fully involved in the celebration of the Mass. Both men and women can be altar servers, sing, read, or distribute the host. The purpose is to make the Mass more participatory. I believe the intent here is commendable. Too often parishioners in Orthodox Churches view themselves as spectators or members of an audience when attending liturgy or other services.

    At the risk of sounding like an apologist for Catholicism, I present another perspective on Vatican II.

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

      “johnkal,” as an erstwhile pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II Roman Catholic (only a couple of years of the latter, to be sure), I would say, with all due respect, that you are “an apologist for Catholicism.”

      From your rather naïve comments about the radical liturgical, spiritual, and pastoral changes that Vatican II introduced into the Roman Catholic communion–changes that very soon spun me and millions of other previously devout RCs, out of the wobbly RC orbit–I can conclude only that you are not familiar with Roman Catholicism either before or after Vatican II. And I am chagrined that you, an Orthodox Christian, would wish to see those same liturgical, spiritual, and pastoral “reforms” instituted in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

      Indeed, your, shall we say, eccentric views are what is, in part, at stake in the controversy surrounding the forthcoming (or not) Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete.

    • @johnkal stated: “Contrary to some belief, Vatican II changed no doctrines of the Church, since doctrine can never change.”

      Au contraire. Pope Pius IX (aka Pio Nino) instituted the doctrine of papal infallibility in 1870 (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_infallibility and http://www.catholic.com/tracts/papal-infallibility for more explanation/excuses). Then the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was enshrined in RC theology; likewise in 1950 the Assumption of Mary.

      There were earlier changes in RC doctrine/dogma which, after the declaration that the Pope is infallible when declaring doctrine ex cathedra, were recognized as having been valid. (Keeping up with all the changes in RC doctrine can induce vertigo!)

      Please read the two sources I’ve provided; there are no doubt dozens/scores more as well.

    • Let’s just say I hope nobody in Crete has your simplistic views.

      The Second Vatican Council called for a modernization of some church practices as a means of opening a dialogue with the world and better spreading the good news of the Gospel which is a laudable goal.

      And it has failed utterly. The RCC contributed greatly to modern godlessness by embracing worldliness.

      One of the most visible changes resulting from Vatican II was the celebration of the Mass in the vernacular (i.e., current languages such as English, Spanish, French, etc., depending on the country) instead of Latin. This is consistent with Orthodox historical practice, use of the language of the people.

      well, in the place where I live, the RC parishes that have returned to the Latin Mass are vibrant and are filled with young families, while the modernist parishes are dying left and right.

      It is not only the priest who is endowed with spiritual gifts.

      No one ever said he was.

      Vatican II changed the practice of the priest having his back to the congregation during the Mass so that the priest now faces the congregation. I in no way find this to be an alarming change and in some ways it may enhance worship.

      Now the priest has his back to God. That is not an improvement. Ad populum has made the priest the focus, rather than God.

      After Vatican II communion could now be received in the hand where in previous practice no one was permitted to touch the host except the priest and deacon. In the ancient Liturgy of St James, which still is occasionally practiced, the Eucharist is received in the hand as in current Catholic practice.

      Not in the liturgies of St. James I have attended. But even so, we don’t do that anymore. People used to take the Eucharist home with them to eat during the week. That would be considered grave sacrilege if it happened today.

      Orthodoxy also teaches that only the priest and Deacon may touch the holy things.

      Finally, the laity is encouraged to be more fully involved in the celebration of the Mass. Both men and women can be altar servers, sing, read, or distribute the host. The purpose is to make the Mass more participatory. I believe the intent here is commendable.

      It is fallacious to imply that active participation is the only form of participation. This is not a part of Orthodox tradition. The person standing in the nave praying is participating just as much as the priest.

  28. Michael Bauman says

    Any time the word “modernize” is used, run.

    Was it not Vatican II that moved the priest to the back of the alter? That step alone tore the substance out of the Mass.

    I have heard all of my life from Catholics lamenting that V-II just was not implemented. The Arabs have a saying: Don’t let the camel get his nose under the tent.

    Frankly I just do not believe the laments any more. V-II did exactly what it was meant to do: secularize the RCC in explicit ways that laid the ground work for moving an heretical belief into apostasy.

    The RCC changes doctrine any time a Pope wants.

    A similar thing may seem to happen in the Orthodox Church, time will tell, but for me and my house, we serve the Lord.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Michael, whether VII did what it “was supposed to do” or not is immaterial, isn’t it?

      At the end of the day, your cogent analysis (and Fr Alexander Webster’s even more detailed one) kinda tells us what we can expect from councils that want to “reform” the Church.

      Another point: another commentator said that no doctrinal changes were made in VII. Not true: the Good Friday prayers for the conversion of the Jews were dropped and Jews were elevated to the status of “elder brothers in the Faith.” Since observant Jews follow rabbinicism (or Talmudism –which post-dates Christianity) as opposed to the Old Testament, they cannot by definition be “elder brethren”. Having said that, the RCC negates the necessity of the universality of salvation. In my book, that sounds like a major doctrinal change.

    • It is my understanding that there were actually cases of priests celebrating mass ad populum before V2. And to my knowledge there is nothing in any V2 document that explicitly says it should be done that way.

      As with the iconoclasm (the wanton destruction of ornate high altars and the trashing of holy relics), this boiled over on its own.

      Which shows why a council must be clear, explicit, and narrow as possible in its scope, with no room for misinterpretation. If the devil is give an inch, he will take a mile.

      That’s why this synod needed to be stopped. Everything was too vague and open to misinterpretation.

  29. r j klancko says

    OK ALL, let us look at the numbers — if the council goes off with with those committed to attend, they will represent 30% of the world wide faithful and 33% of the world wide parishes – not much of a council in my mind — they are far from being representative of the church as a whole — time for black bart to retire

    • Actually, it’s not proper to say even that. All you can say really is that it is a synaxis of the primates present, nothing more. If all bishops of the various local churches had been invited, then you might be able to say that it was representative. However, those hand picked by the leader of each synod to attend are not necessarily representative of the whole synod. This thing is a cluster f*&k from start to finish.

  30. Dollar Vasilieos says

    Looking at the Great Council unfold, do you ever wonder how much all this costs and who is paying for all of this? Think about it. Are the people in the pews going to have the shoulder the cost for the Council? Do we even know what the real expenses are and who is getting paid?

    • Kosta Langis says

      The Church of Bulgaria mentioned the expenses as being “large and unjustified”. I think the figure was like $290,000 just for Bulgarian delegation. Easier to just set up video conferencing equipment. Regardless this council is a farce and the GOARCH lost me as a member, (not that they will care).

  31. If this council goes badly, what are the prospects for Antioch returning to the Church calendar?

    • I really don’t understand this obsession with the Julian calendar and why it has to be some kind of sacred vessel. It’s a pagan invention and is out of synch – the Gregorian one is more uptodate and if sometime in the future, a more accurate calendar is created then I don’t see why we can adopt it.

      • Because we don’t all agree. It’s more important to agree than to have half the church on a different calendar.

        • Prospective Nomad says

          Ages,

          To proffer a possible answer to your original question: The odds of the Antiochian Patriarchate returning to the old calendar would seem to be extremely remote. Antioch has existential common interests at the moment with the Syriacs, who follow the new-calendar Menaion, and with the Chaldeans, who are entirely on the new calendar. I am happy to be corrected on this point, but I believe that all of the major Christian confessions in Lebanon except for the Orthodox are also entirely on the new calendar. That may be why Antioch wanted the Council to discuss adopting a common Paschalion with the West.

          Antioch’s de facto alliance with most of the Slavs on the matter of the Council doesn’t seem to be explicable in terms of the traditionalist/modernist divide. Indeed, Antioch’s objections to the agenda–both on the calendar and on marriage–would seem to be more modernist than the draft documents. Antioch’s positions seem more comprehensible through the prism of the war in Syria–aligning as closely as possible with other Christians in the homeland. That imperative leads away from, not towards, the old calendar.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Bashful–The problem is twofold. First, you have folks like Ages who conflate the Church calendar with the Julian civil calendar. Second, you have many folks who don’t want to be at all like the Roman Catholics or who use their “Church Calendar” to differentiate themselves. I had a long discussion with a ROCOR priest, who was very erudite and had mastered all of the pro-Julian arguments. He ended up agreeing with me that there is no theological reason why we cannot ditch it. He and I agreed that the 1923 decision to switch to the Revised Julian was botched in that the Council that decreed the change was not a Pan-Orthodox Council and that it was implemented forcefully, that is, in an unchristian manner. That said, we have a lot of people who are very myopic. In Slavic languages “Nashi” means “ours” and it is usually applied to practices and beliefs that are held dearly, with a lot of emotion. This issue is one of the most jealously guarded “nashi” customs and beliefs. In other words, it has transcended logic and reason.

        • The Julian Calendar is the Church calendar. No conflation.

          The Revised Julian is an abomination. It’s the Gregorian leap year rules with the legacy Julian paschalion tacked on, which causes the paschalion to drift relative to the fixed dates. That’s why the Revised Julian can never have a Kyriopascha.

          Either return completely to the Julian or switch completely to the Gregorian. I don’t really care which. But sitting in both chairs is ridiculous.

          • Exactly, Ages,

            If they want to redo a calendar from scratch and make it more or less like the Gregorian, fix some other date for Pascha by canon law, and then reconstruct the entire Paschalion around a reconstructed typikon which takes into consideration the change from the Julian to Gregorian calendar, then be my guest.

            But you can’t even get 14 local churches together to discuss apostacizing to Rome, much less redoing the entire Church calendar. That would be actual work, like primates reading draft documents before approving them. I think these New Calendarists have much too high an opinion of our bishops. Even if they wanted to create a New Calendar, I don’t really see that they’re up to the task. All some of them can do is engage in lazy, disingenuous polemics and throw crap at their brothers like this was a monkey sh*t fight at the zoo. Tragic, really.

            • The apostle Paul writes: 1 Corinthians 15

              Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
              For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

              Secularism is destroying the Church and there are those who squabble about a calendar. Keep important things central not meaningless discussions about a calendar. I guarantee you there will be no discussion about which calendar one followed at the time of judgment. We as a Church would do well to focus our efforts on what Paul deemed of greatest importance-the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

              • Good points. And I think Antioch was getting at that in one of their documents, when they wondered aloud why we were talking about all this stuff instead of talking about matters important to the salvation of people, especially the youth who are being drawn away from the Church by every shiny object they come across.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Ages–Here is my formal argument:

            The Church’s calendar designates the fixed and movable feasts. It starts on September 1st. An example of fixed feasts is Nativity. The central movable feast is Pascha. You know those dates and calculations as well as me so I will not repeat them.

            God’s Calendar is comprised of astronomical phenomena, such as the rotation of earth around the sun (year), the rotation of earth on its own axis (day), the observable phenomenon, such as the stages of the moon, the two equinoxes and solstices.

            A civic calendar is an attempted overlay of God’s calendar and is good as long as it represents the underlying astronomical phenomena set by God. Thus, the 44 BC, Julius Caesar reformed the existing civic calendar to bring it line with God’s calendar.

            During the Apostolic Era the Julian Calendar corresponded to what men could see for themselves. The Church then designated specific civic calendar dates for the fixed feasts and specific astronomical events and calculations for the movable feasts.

            Over the centuries, the Julian Calendar lost its status as a faithful overlay of God’s calendar, causing Christians to depart from the Apostolic praxis and understanding. If the Orthodox Church claims to be “apostolic,” it must correct the calendar to get back to what was reckoned during the Apostolic Age. If we do that, the fixed feasts days will be celebrated in harmony with the movable feasts as the alignment to the Church calendar becomes once again what the Fathers intended.

            • “Over the centuries, the Julian Calendar lost its status as a faithful overlay of God’s calendar, causing Christians to depart from the Apostolic praxis and understanding.”

              That is a hilarious example of modernist thinking. Traditional Orthodox “departed” from the Apostolic praxis by continuing to do the same thing generation after generation.

              Can you even hear yourself?

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              The New Year began on the JULIAN CALENDAR at the time of the Nicene Council (called to force the empire’s Christians to get rid of one or the other of two Holy Traditions on the observance of Pascha) on MARCH FIRST. September (from “septem” _ seven) was the seventh month of the JULIAN calendar (or “the church calendar” observed at Nicaea.) March 1 was the beginning of “the Church Year” in Russia until Peter the Great had it moved to September First. Riots ensued throughout the Russian state!
              Those who are supporting the Bartholomew Congress of Assorted Primates like to imagine that any opposition to their congress is only from unhinged calendarists and evil Russians with ecumenical intentions. This shows how the concept of an Orthodox Episcopate as the basis of our Apostolic Church’s Economy is being sabotaged by the unseemly jostling for the highest place at all banquets by the “Ecumenical” Patriarch. The uncomprehending eyes of the world are focussed on this congress. How are we ever going to get past it?

    • God only knows what they are thinking. No one is pressing the calendar thing at this point. I think returning to the Julian would be good for the New Calendar churches because the New Julian is a hybrid and screws up the cycle of feasts and observances from the typikon. Also, the Julian was the calendar on which the Church calendar was founded so it is established by Church authority as much as anything else in our liturgical life. The change to the New Calendar was accomplished by a half-baked frolic in the autumn mist like this disaster of a “council” we are seeing disintegrate before our eyes.

      Romfea has pulled out from covering it. They’re only reprinting statements issued now. Pfizzle, snort:

      http://byztex.blogspot.ru/2016/06/influential-romfeagr-news-agency-drops.html

      Probably Pat. Bartholomew will realize that it’s all a wash and not concelebrate now. It would be anticlimactic, little more than a saving of face of sorts. He probably got an earful from the Serbs et al. Or he might go through with it. Not sure what his future in Orthodoxy will be after this.

      What a fiasco!

  32. Now, this is interesting:

    http://katehon.com/article/who-are-you-fr-alex

    Evidently Fr. Alexander Karloutsos is the one who put out the false rumor that the MP had been invited to a special meeting on the 17th. Or maybe it was just Elias. Hard to say.

  33. Gregory Manning says

    Dollar,
    I’ll wager this man might be able to answer your question.

  34. Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

    Despite the American media’s deference to the abrasive comments of Archdeacon John Chryssavgis on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, dissenting voices concerning the so-called Pan-Orthodox Council deserve to be heard.

    Here is one that I find particularly insightful and, the overwrought comparison to a Soviet Congress notwithstanding, rather measured and persuasive: “The Pan-Orthodox Council Ought Not to Resemble a Congress of the Communist Party” by Priest Philipp Iliashenko, PhD (History), Assistant Dean of the Historical Faculty of the St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University in Moscow, Russia.

    http://www.pravmir.com/priest-philipp-iliashenko-the-pan-orthodox-council-ought-not-to-resemble-a-congress-of-the-communist-party/

    • Fr. Alexander,

      The reason they are claiming that the Orthodox world is so “disunited” while at the same time claiming that they have successfully united the Church in a “Great and Holy Synod” is that they are preparing to sell the proposition that this “anarchical” structure the Orthodox have been living with all these years is un-Orthodox and that their more monarchial view of the Church is better. I.e., that Rome’s view of the Church is better.

      Yet our Church is monarchial. It is ruled by God, not by any mortal man. It is the Body of Christ indwelt with the Holy Spirit. It does not need a second, pseudo-Christ to head it. He is there, the Holy Spirit is also there when we assemble all the bishops and have something for the Spirit to clarify. God has told us all of this.

      But this council is interested not in clarifying matters but in muddying the waters. They wish to make it difficult for us to tell where the Church is. They assert that there are other “Churches”. But this is not Orthodoxy. There is a reason the Creed reads, “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” The Truth is One, the Church is One, just as God is One. Two Truths, Two Churches or Two Gods, would be contradictory, “a house divided against itself” one that “walks two ways”. Everyone knows this, but they advance it anyway. Why is this?

      It is not complicated. One can believe that the Church is One, the Truth is One and God is One. One needs to be a bit crazy to believe that two conflicting or mutually exclusive propositions can both be true. But one could SAY that, or APPEAR to mean that, if something else is at work.

      What if the proponents of these oddities believe that there is no Truth and . . . no God?

      Well, that would explain everything, wouldn’t it?

  35. Now there’s this: Antioch never agreed to opening the council on Pentecost in the first place! (Of course, some would say that their continued participation in the process was tacit approval, but this could have all been avoided if total unanimity was the standard, rather than this nebulous concept of general agreement.)

    http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/94461.htm

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Yes Ages it’s a little word that could have been used and used repeatedly. Its called: NO!

      Hence silence means approval. Sorry buddy.

      Peter

  36. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    For those that wish to follow the H & G Council:

    https://www.holycouncil.org/home

  37. Dollar Vasileos says

    WHOA Check this Out!

    1) There is a report that the Council costs 2.8 million dollars and that 60% of the money from private Greek donors in the USA. Ever wonder who the private donors are?

    2) If you want to see hubris and political correctness in full bloom check out the June 21st Press Briefing as posted on facebook. Go to the 44:20 Mark and watch until about 45:30. The quote “I’m sure everyone here believes in climate change” is a good one. What is interesting is the long pause that came before the words climate change…..

    3)Here is a thought, should the blonde spokeswoman for the council pressers be named Byzantine Barbie?

    4)The Press is throwing up softball after softball. Where are the tough questions?

  38. A representative of the Constantinople Patriarchate has just announced that the Orthodox Church is not the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of the Creed. Bishop Cyril says that the one Church also includes heterodox formations.
    http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/94565.htm

    Well….that’s all folks. This is heresy! There will be massive schism. Bartholomew needs to be deposed.

    • It’s a very odd situation. Those like the bishop in question have so succumbed to the overwhelming context of Secular Humanism that they feel that it is mean or rude to maintain an “exclusivist” position on the unity of the Church. It is their effort to be loving. They probably sincerely believe that they are not doing anything wrong and that they are being opposed by non-nuanced fundamentalists. It really is tragic. But at the heart of it all is a complete loss of faith on the part of those who are challenging the Church’s present unity.

      They have lost faith in the actual existence of a sovereign, omnipresent, omnipotent God. They have lost faith in the activity of the Holy Spirit in the Church over the centuries in guarding the Tradition. They have lost faith in the Spirit’s activity among a real council of bishops wherein all bishops would have been called to contemplate the faith. They have lost faith in conciliarity and seek to substitute papal primacy within Orthodoxy itself and by joining Orthodoxy to the Roman Catholic heresy. It is a total loss of faith on the part of the proponents of these documents. The only question is how strong is the faith of the rest of the Church?

      Does the rest of the Church have a strong enough faith to call itself out, or heed the call of the Spirit out, of the confusion and error and be the “ekklesia” of God? That’s is really the only question that we face. But it is real. And it will be answered in the affirmative by some part of the Church, as Christ promised us the Church’s unity and that the gates of hell would not prevail. It might be that only the moderate Greek Old Calendarists are meant to constitute the Church until Christ’s return along with those in ROCA who refused to unite with the MP. Or it may be that the ROCOR will separate itself again as well. Or it may be that Moscow and those not in attendance will do the right thing. Or it may be that Serbia, once Constantinople crosses the Tiber and refers to other confessions as “Churches”, leaves and that signals the break. Finally, Constantinople still has the opportunity to repent and reconsider. Lord have mercy.

  39. πολύ ενδιαφέρον says

    Looking at where the money and backing for this “council” is coming from is very important. Noted international atheist George Soros is behind the financial backing of this “council.” Interesting.

    And people need to look into Fr Alexander Karloutsos, the power player in the GOA in New York, who lives in a mansion in suburban NYC and funnels money to the E.P. Check it out.

    In the past, I would read Fr Andrew Phillips of the orthodoxengland.co.uk site and not know what he means by the U.S. State Department being behind what the E.P. does, but now it begins to make sense.

    This “council” has little to do with clearly defining Orthodox dogma and church life. It is a power play designed to increase the earthly power of the E.P. and decrease the influence of the Church of Russia. It’s politics, western interests “using” the Church to advance their earthly goals. Shame on them! God will not allow His Church to be used in this way. The same thing happened nearly 100 years ago when the British Anglicans gave the E.P. a bunch of money in exchange for instituting this “new calendar” which has caused innumerable problems in Orthodoxy and has done *nothing* positive for the church. Kudos to Patriarch Kirill for not falling for the bait and sitting this “council” out. This shin-dig is Crete is ridiculous.

  40. Something about this “doesn’t smell right”:
    Archbishop Demetrios visited the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, the largest US super-carrier of the Nimitz class, docked for a few days in Souda Bay Naval Base. [during G&H Synod.]

  41. Phil R. Upp says

    Everyone should understand, without the Russian Orthodox Church, the largest Orthodox Church in the world today and without the churches of Antioch, Georgia and Bulgaria as well as other canonical churches not even invited, this “Tea Party” in Crete was just a “GREEK THING!” Not inclusive and certainly not a “GREAT” council. In fact, any decisions concluded in Crete are moot. As the ROC has said, Crete was a preparatory council for a REAL, INCLUSIVE ORTHODOX COUNCIL in the future.

    The BEST place for this council would be in the huge auditorium under Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, the “Third Rome!”

    • PRU,

      How funny! We’re not making a “Western” here (get it?).

      I think Orthodoxy will right itself, perhaps without the need for a council.

  42. Phil R. Upp says

    Calling ALL Orthodox Christians:

    The meeting in Crete was insufficient. Not ALL canonical Orthodox Churches were invited and the LARGEST Orthodox Church in the world, the Russian Orthodox Church did not attend. Neither did Antioch, Bulgaria and Georgia. As the ROC said, “Crete is a good preparatory meeting for a ‘complete’ worldwide Orthodox Church Council.”

    We call upon all Orthodox Christians to proclaim this as something that is needed immediately. To be held at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow and auditorium. Petition your bishops to make this a reality!