Is This Statement Heretical?

From the Council of Crete:

“The Orthodox Church considers all efforts to break the unity of the Church undertaken by individuals or groups under the pretext of maintaining or allegedly defending true Orthodoxy as being worthy of condemnation.”

(Hat tip to Billy Jack Sunday.)

I ask this question in all sincerity.


  1. St Mark of Ephesus pray for us!

  2. Joseph Lipper says

    No, it’s not heretical. This is not a new issue for the Church either. We can think of the early Christians who insisted on circumcision and also the Old Believers in Russia who resisted the Nikonian reforms, just for example.

  3. Nicole in Dallas says

    Met. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos is always a great place to start:

    Memory eternal to the ever-blessed Vladika Dmitri who fell asleep on OC Dormition August 28, 2011.

  4. No. Divisive? In the eye of the beholder. Setup for schism? Maybe. Heretical in the sense of a violation of dogma? I think no. The most basic meaning of αἵρεσις is, by the beginning of the Christian era, “factionalism.”

  5. First: what’s an eddort?

    Second: A question for Theologians out there – who has the authority to declare something heretical?
    Third: What criterion are employed to declare a statement heretical?
    Fourth: If this statement that George M. Is quoting meets the criterion why no statements until now?

    • Michael Bauman says

      Conciliar Authority is required to anathematize a person as a heretic or to officially declare a dogmatic statement(s) heresy but, to simply recognize a statement as heretical in nature is a necessary part of guarding our hearts against untruth and passions.

      The trouble lies in going on heresy hunts to “get rid of heretics”. That path leads to a kind of iconoclasm and schism far worse than the original statement. Not only that but there would be no one left in the Church once the heretical thought police get going.

      The Orthodox Church and the revelation of God in her needs no defense it just needs to be incarnated in each of our hearts. Let Satan eat his own.

  6. Michael Bauman says

    Interesting question. St. Gregory of Nyssa considered schism worse than heresy. To the best of my knowledge, the Cappidocian Fathers and St. Anthanasius defended the Church against Arianism without ever suggesting any schismatic solution.

    Jesus tells us to allow the tares and the wheat to grow together.

    Will those who promulgated the statement follow their own rules though? If communing unrepentant homosexuals becomes the norm will the bishops allow those who continue to object to that to commune?

    Heresy begats disunity and tryanny so it is doubtful.

    The statement itself is not heretical IMAO but the premise behind it may be.

    God forgive us.

  7. Christopher says


    If it was, then St. Paul was a heretic. The “unity of the Faith” is not a term in discursive/dialectical reasoning, thus the Church can not be located by a parsing of a ‘confession of faith’ – a judgement based on ‘dogma’ alone. This would be an error on the same level as ‘scripture alone’. Unity is an act (not a state of mind) of persons, in relation to Him, His Person. Thus St. Basil the Great would commune with bishops on the very thinnest of pretext of “Orthodoxy” (in other words, they held to more “heresy” then Bartholomew has ever heard of).

    I speak as one who is sympathetic to the rejection of modern “ecumenism” that has prompted this sentence, and if an old calendarist/true orthodox parish was near me, I would have no problem communing or being a member as they are the Church – indeed if given a choice and this hypothetical local parish was “healthy” in the normative sense, then I would choose it over “canonical” Orthodoxy.

    Like it or not folks (I don’t like it), Orthodoxy is a “big tent” Church, and has been since Constantine (even if you believe it was not before that -“the doors! the doors!”) and this reality is “dogma” and not heresy….

    • George Michalopulos says

      The statement is a loaded one. Like. “have you stopped beating your wife”.

      The very statement creates a straw man to be pilloried if and when anybody who is not a modernist appears. And of course it sets up the EP as the arbiter of what is normative.

      Seriously, have we forgotten the lesson of Ss Maximus the Confessor, Mark Eugenicus or Athanasius? How would they be fitted into this mission statement?

      • Christopher says

        Yep, it is “loaded” – it is a point of view, a position statement on a certain particular ecclesiological conflict, which itself is a conflict over the reality of heterodoxy, and how or what to do about it. The conflict arose immediately in the Church’s life, and has been with us ever since.

        I see your your St. Maximus and raise you St. Paul (i.e. all those letters he wrote to those churches {where they ‘heretics’ – yes!} that ended up being canonized as scripture). He maintained communion and claimed apostleship over them through it all.

        I see your St. Mark of Ephesus and raise you St. Basil the Great (my example above).

        The Church’s normative response to ecclesiological conflict and outright error throughout its long history is not these “extreme” examples, rather it is the banal response of mercy, patience, and “ekonomia”. It’s like a family, who responds with seemingly infinite patience not merely 7 times, but 70×7 to fill_in_the_blank with and for each other. The exceptions of when a loved one has to be cut off, or sent to jail, etc. are just that, exceptions. Nobody is “forgetting” Saint Mark, we are all praying that we don’t end up in this “nuclear option” circumstance. The parish life council in Crete? Ukraine (which ever way it goes)? These are the hills worth dying on??

        These conflicts are always messy. I believe the EP is “wrong” on ecumenism, as practiced for about 100 years. That said, the error or “heresy” itself is not captured by the sentence above – St. Maximus and St. Mark both fully believed and lived the unity of the Faith, the unity of the Church, the unity of Christ’s Body. Everything they did depended on this unity and it was the “pretext” of error supported by external political expediency in both cases (i.e. gaining the non-Chalcedonians in St. Maximus time, Rome’s resources in St. Mark’s time) that they opposed. St. Maximus and St. Mark used the Catholicity of the Church and the unity of the truth against that which would bring schism. This sentence only affirms unity over and against such things. It would be better to get at the source of the conflict then to work on the edges and the ambiguous as if that were dogmatic heresy – choose the correct battle, the real battle….

        • Thanks Christopher. I appreciate your remarks and perspective here.

        • Fr. Harry Linsinbigler says

          Right, Christopher. St. Mark of Ephesus was a member of the council of Florence until he was called to leave by his Lord. He did not cease to be a Bishop because he participated in the council. Today all these people (including George apparently) would call St. Mark a heretic for participating in an “Ecumenist Council” (insert rolleyes). Yet they call him a hero and call those who did not even assemble with Roman Catholics in a council a heretic because it seems too much like they want to bring 1 billion Christians into the full communion of the Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church. I really suspect all those who don’t care about those billion people and want them to “repent and leave” rather than actually heal a schism.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Fr Harry, please forgive me but that’s unfair. If anything, I would call St Mark a hero because he stood up to the forced unia.

            And as for my Catholic brethren (and Protestants too), I want them to join with the Orthodox Church. I’m also very liberal when it comes to liturgical practices. I for one, have no problem with the Western Rite.

            • Fr. Harry Linsinbigler says

              George, you reacted defensively. So you are saying that if Patriarch Bartholomew participated in a “joint” council of the RCC and OC (like St. Mark did), you would have no problem so long as they went as far as St. Mark did (but otherwise supported an authentic union like St. Mark wanted)?

              • George Michalopulos says

                Not at all Fr! I have no problem with any bishop participating in any council that would heal a schism.

                It’s simply the spirit behind that statement from the Robber Council. It’s an all-purpose ollie-ollie-oxen-free bromide which will be used to strike down any Orthodox dissenter who is willing to stand up and cry BS on some new innovation which the globalists want.

                Seriously Fr, what are the fruits of the Ecumenical Patriarchate since the reign of Metaxakis? Even though people shudder when they mention his name his sorry program of ecumenism and modernism has proceeded apace, at least in the Greek-speaking eparchies of Cpole.

                • Christopher says

                  Fr. Harry and George,

                  I also think it is unfair to attribute a “bad faith” motivation (i.e. those who oppose what is loosely called “ecumenism” simply and simplistically don’t “care” about the split between east and west). Speaking for myself, I have opposed the whole direction of modern “ecumenism” in general and how the EPatriarchate has participated in it for the last 100 years, ever since I read the EP’s 1920 Encyclical which is acknowledged to be a (if not “the”) founding document of the WCC:


                  I read this encyclical in a Episcopal theological journal in the early 1990’s, several years before I was chrismated Orthodox, before the world wide web and “”, and before I was even aware that there was a controversy and schism in the Orthodox Church itself over ecumenism. It caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. It was then I realized that Orthodoxy ha a real naivete about the west, secularism, and how the modern mind and western “theologian” leverages “dialogue” for certain ends.

                  Since St. Mark’s time, we have had the triumph of certain “big ideas” that while present in St. Mark’s time in scholastic medieval theology of RCism, were not yet “triumphant”. East and West could still talk to each other and understand each other – they were capable of having a real council – not that they did. Yet, within a few hundred years the west suffered the triumph of nominalism, materialism (as both a scientific advancement and a spiritual retreat), the Cartesian/Kantian self, etc. etc. The post Hegelian world where “dialogue” becomes a mere political act is not only reflected in the political, cultural, and “capitalistic” world but also the religious world of western Christians. Indeed, I would argue that it is in the spiritual lives of western Christians that the history of these “big ideas” are most profoundly reflected and “revealed” and have had the most impact.

                  In other words, for there to even be a council between east and west there would first have to be an acknowledgement of the distance between secular “dialogue” and a Christian (or any other kind) of “dialogue”. Behind dialogue and language itself is a fundamental way of viewing God, man, the cosmos – everything. That said, most of those involved in ecumenical efforts, whether they are Orthodox or western (RC or Protestant) don’t rate what I just said – they have a naive trust in “dialogue” – you’re just supposed to sit down and start talking and work through your differences. Even when they appear aware of these foundational differences, as Fr. Florvosky was and even Bartholomew himself when he acknowledged in the late 1990’s that there are “ontological” differences between east and west, well they simply trust that dialogue has this almost divine energy and quality to it – simply put your head down and dialogue and trust that the Holy Spirit will give you the Grace to overcome any limits that the current “ontological” state of your Church/mind/heart imposes on you and the dialogue.

                  Yet, as George points out what are the “fruits” of not only the actual organizational ecumencial efforts of the last 100 years but of the very idea itself? Is the largely instinctual wariness displayed by the “traditionalists” merely an immature and reactionary “dogmatism” or “fundamentalism”, or do they have a actual and worthwhile point? Is it an accident that those who are most committed to ecumenism and “dialogue” are also strongly correlated with those who want to reform the Orthodox Church normative anthropological tradition around women’s ordination, sexual, family, and reproductive ‘ethics’, and the like? Sure, correlation is not causation but what IS the link between Secularism with a capital S and the modern western Orthodox “theologians” faith in the unqualified goodness of ecumenism and “dialogue”? I submit their’s is a largely unexamined faith – an unexamined ignorance of the secular presuppositions behind modern dialogue.

                  Anyone interested in this question should Google the debate in First Things magazine between Stanley Fish and John Neuhaus originally printed in the last 1990’s. It is not short or easy reading but it is well worth the effort…

                  Christopher Encapera

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    I have shared this previously, and I do so again, for whatever it is worth

                    I have mentioned that my “job” at SVS was to arrange and supervize a crew of students to serve “special meals” e.g. visitations of scholars and/or hierarchs, meetings of the Board of Trustees, etc. I do not recall the year – approximately 1978-9 – I was informed that a Papal Legate and his delegation was visiting Terrance Cardinal Cooke in NYC, would be coming to attend evening vespers, and would be the guests of the faculty for a special dinner in their honour. I was to assemble my crew, blah, blah, blah. It was a typical even, and I walked around making sure everything was in order. I came to a table where Eric Wheeler was mixing drinks for the guests at their requests, and as I stood behind him , Fr. John Meyendorff came up behind me and very softly said, “Very nice event.” I turned to look at him, and he had a certain facial expression that said he was kidding, but before I could I could speak, he was already moving as he said, “Scratch the dog’s back…”

                    During the meal, the Legate conveyed any number of messages directly from the “Holy Father,” assuring the faculty of his deep respect for them, and that, “upon reunification, he told me assure you that he expected them to be at the forefront, blah, blah, blah…” It went on endlessly, and the SVS faculty only occasionally interjected. As all the plates and things were cleared away and my crew was asking preferences for coffee or tea, with the Legate still talking, there was the distinctive clearing of the throat that could only come from one man: SS Verhovskoy, Professor of Dogmatic Theology and Provost of the Seminary, who had not made a sound to this point. Personally expected the trumpet of Gabriel, and I was not disappointed. “He said, “With all due respect, Rev. Legate, I am happy to receive the assurances of the Holy Father in regard to these matters. But I will also say this to you: God is our Father and the Holy Spirit goes wherever He wishes. At times, inclination is such that we can, in fact, say with assurance, something will never, ever, happen. The Holy Father is so inclined to never, ever repent, so there will never, ever be reunification until he does. Michael, could you please bring me my tea?” On faculty member half shouted out in a very scolding way, “Professor!” Schmemann & Meyendorff both covered their mouths with a hand, and looked at the table. I thought, “Now this is Prof meant when he said we called to be Ezekiels.” I answered, “Of course, Professor, immediately.”

                    • Christopher says

                      Wonderful anecdote Mr. Stankovich. It is in so many ways a microcosm of “ecumenism” and “dialogue” in the modern era. The pretense, the knowing dismissal (of the futility of these formalities), the patient listening through the banal repetition of what is in fact the real distance between not only “understanding” on the level of dogma/theology but actual being of the heart and soul, the occasional prophet willing to say in a just a few words what the reality actually is and then move on to something more important and worthwhile like a cup of tea. The fact is that division/schism of the Church and the need to “dialogue” about it is very old – as old as the NT itself. What is new is the modern faith in a certain understanding of what this dialogue is (as displayed in the naive optimism of the 1920 EP encyclical), what the Church means, etc. This is a new conflict and one we see for example in the spirit behind the “Relations” document of the gathering in Crete, the rejections of said spirit by some such as Met. Hierotheos, etc.

                      To begin to understand the basis of what I call this naivete is difficult but worth the effort. Besides the “why we can’t all just get along ” essay(s) by Stanley Fish I referenced above the dialogue between Fr. Matthew Baker of blessed memory and Fr. John Whiteford here is well worth the time:


                    • Christopher, I think what you said, that Orthodoxy is a “big tent” Church is correct. You and I occupy different localities of the tent. I am a traditional Orthodox Christian, and hate attempts at modifications of the moral tradition. I hold that anyone who alters moral definitions is anathema (i.e. you can never alter God’s commandments without be anathema). I also hate anything that alters dogmatic definitions (but I am a dogmatics and canon law professor, so you might suspect me of this). Still, if a Patriarch or anyone should hold anything contrary to Orthodox tradition, I would count them anathema and even pray for it.

                    • That being said, there is a reason why Orthodoxy is a “big tent”. That is because there are very few things that the Church has defined as dogma (what we must believe), and that is for good reason. It is hard to be a heretic. You have to really try because there are only a few bullseyes. That being said, I repeat, that if anyone, even a patriarch, held a dogma contrary to the Sacred Tradition of the Orthodox Church, they should be anathema until they repent. However, there are no Patriarchs even remotely close to being heretics.

      • Billy Jack Sunday says

        George Michalopulos

        It’s the “All Purpose Council Of Crete Unia Nazi Clause”

        It is found in the problematic “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World.”

        That document employs so much double talk that it needs to be completely thrown out – along with that clause

        Remember, the council was declared “Binding for all” Churches regardless of attendance

        It is true that the document/Council will be ignored – in the Eastern world

        I don’t think Russians are staying up late at night about it

        But what about us in the West?

        The council with these erroneous statements remains officially on the books

        And rightly so – GOA clergy will tell you

        The GOA – which dominates the Orthodox Church reality in the United States

        The statement cant be examined merely stand alone. It has to be examined in the context it was written in

        Also, context of the text is needed to define what the words Church and Unity really seem to represent

        With the attempted declared EP power grab (as if he is without equals), voting abuses, controls put in place – as well as this all-purpose “gotcha” booby trap clause (to insure all rightful opponents of ecumenism and/or ecclesiastical error and abuses fail) – you would think this is the work of Heinrich Himmler

        Is it heresy?

        Well, I know one thing – as I recognized it immediately for what it is

        It’s a threat

        • Fr. Harry Linsinbigler says

          Hey BS (I will remove the J, since it is a pseudonym and it is already evident you are full of Jack), I used to go under a pseudonym. It was easy for me to be brave under a pseudonym. Now that I have decided that I have to actually own my words (you are pseudonymous superhero–why would you?), I have to be more careful, as I should be. You have some big words (half of which are inaccurate) but can’t own them because you are too scared to tell us who you are. Either put up or shut up.

          • Christopher says

            I had a career in computers (15 years as a network/systems administrator) that included work with law enforcement. The only place you will find pictures of my kids is on our parish website, and I reluctantly agreed to that. No “social media” such as Facebook/Twitter/pedophile-tools-of-the-trade-software, and normally no use of identifying information such as my last name. I have a commercial grade proxy server/firewall in my house, and my kids will no have cell phones or participate in “social media” until they are of age (i.e. I can no longer prevent it). They have been instructed to NEVER put their real name or any other information (such as the State, to say nothing of actual address where they live) on “the internet”.

            I say all this as a defense of the “anonymous” internet blogging culture. There are actually very good reasons to obfuscate your identity on the internet that have nothing to do with “Orthodox” controversy and everything to do with the safety (of your bank account, if nothing else). Obfuscation is not foolproof (far from it), but it is useful. I know Mr. Stankovich and others don’t agree with this or like it, but it is what it is. Don’t take my word for it, simply call up you local police department and ask to speak with the division/detective who works in “cyber crimes”.

            Christopher Encapera (who has weighed the risks of using name in this instance and made a personal judgement – Hi Fr. Harry! 😉 🙂 )

            • M. Stankovich says


              Let me clarify this point to you: I have no objection, per se to anyone who withholds personal identifying information for exactly the reasons you describe. I, for one, worked in adult correctional institutions where, over the course of my tenure, serious, credible threats were made made against me and my family by individuals who could easily utilize “affiliates” because they were angry with a decision I had made or not made in their regard. I certainly empathize with and support the need to protect your children.

              Nevertheless, as you say, “obfuscation is not foolproof.” At a point, when I was dangerously ill and and suffering through treatment and dark nights of the soul, such as they were, periods of nausea and vomiting were somehow soothed by following along the activities of the /b/’s of 4chan. Lesson learned? If the /b/’s want you, they’ll spin the local cops to the tune of the Funeral March of the Marionettes, reveal your secrets, and steal your credit card number. After long considering my options as to the threats of the gangstas, I concluded, “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.” (Ps. 102:15-16) So, Christopher, I completely support you in doing what you need to do in the interest of your own security as best you can, and moving on.

              My objection is to the Walter Mitty cowards who use the anonymity afforded by the internet to throw rocks at others because they lack the fundamental character and maturity to assume responsibility for their own words. These are creeps and loathsome in my estimation – men and women in superman/superwoman Underalls too frightened to own their own words.

          • Billy Jack Sunday says

            Fr. Harry Linsinbigler


            BS is one thing – but that is quite a vulgar remark

            Don’t be disrespectful to the name Jack. Not this week.

            I’ve never referred to myself as a superhero. However, I do happen to have an uncanny Spidey Sense

            Why so interested to know who I am? So you can apply your Council of Crete Nazi Clause and have me silenced?

            People can tell it’s me by my style of writing. That is good enough. The rest does not matter

            What matters is the argument, not the person. So back to the argument

            How am I wrong?

            1. The EP has been declared by his minions as “First without equals.” An Eastern Pope? Sorry, that’s wrong

            2. The Council of Crete was declared an Ecumenical Council even before it was held. It was not by any means. It wasn’t 1 bishop, one vote – as past proper policy. It was 1 head of Church, 1 vote. Each head had 25 cherry picked bishops that more or less kinda contributed to the 1 vote. Four Churches didn’t participate and the OCA wasn’t even invited! Yes, it does matter that they didn’t participate and no, the Council was not binding. It’s not binding mostly because it was NOT Orthodox

            Something that is not Orthodox is not binding to any who are Orthodox

            They stacked the deck because they were pushing a BS modernist agenda

            3. The EP has made use of his position to control all local churches in the new world and beyond. It is self serving and not in the best interest of the people.

            4. That is indeed one hell of a booby trap I gotcha Nazi clause. And a threat.

            Come on. Those of us who don’t have our heads in the sand aren’t stupid

            They pushed a worldly modernist agenda, and they sealed it with a threat.

            You say I’m wrong, but all these things that are happening are pretty self evident.

            Let the reader decide

            If BS is what you guys call me, I take it as an honor. Why? Because George is right. That clause was written to silence voices of sincere truthful opposition -who call BS on bad policy/theology written and forced implemented in bad faith.

            You cant impose non-Orthodox ideas by rigging the system and calling them Orthodox.

            Having to force ideas and changes is the first indication that something isn’t Orthodox to begin with

            I call BS

  8. Profound thought, Michael Bauman! Imagine such a day!

    But smile my friend, for now we only need be careful not to continually object to Greek Festivals.

    Just put a apron, say OPA three times, serve 7 times seventy Gyros, and all is forgiven!

    In all seriousness…

    Let no one deceive you by any means; For that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

    2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

    This and the last century certainly seems as the beginning of the end,”the falling away”. While we may powerless to stop the inevitable, we are not powerless to warn others of which camp, is right or wrong. Then again it might be another hundred years. Still makes no difference. Keep those lamps filled, my brother.

    Be of good cheer, Michael! We have The Resurrected Christ!

    O Death where is your sting? O Sheol, where is your victory?(Hosea 13:14)

    Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him!

  9. Alitheia1875 says

    The issue is the question of unity. The entire foundation of “ecumenism” as it is formulated and practiced today is nonsense. What is meant by unity? The Orthodox Church is not in need of unity. There is nothing to unite. You cannot unite that which has never been divided. Schismatics and heretics leave the Church and the Church remains the Church, undivided. Christ’s body on the Cross was not broken. The Church, as the body of Christ, is also not broken. When the priest divides the Amnos in the liturgy the prayer indicates this same thing. Now, put all of that in the context of the statement and those who promulgate that there is truth in that statement, well…….It’s not heretical but when you take the Church and put it into the context of “ecumenism”, then applying it to participation in “ecumenism” does indeed indicate heresy. But, then, who are the heretics?

  10. Francis Frost says


    Maximus stated : There is a hesitancy to cause a schism over the Faith, the Canons, etc. but no hesitancy to cause one over ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It all appears very hypocritical. Lord save Thy people!

    It “seems” hypocritical, because it is hypocritical!

    After all, our Orthodox Churhc in recent decades has become the “Schisms Are Us” store. Can any of the poster here recall a single year during the past decade when at least 2 of the 14 autocephalous church had NOT been out of communion with each other ?

    My old friend, Monk James declares: “There is only one canonical church in Ukraine.”

    Well that may be so; but the canonical norms have been so abused over the centuries, that the term ‘canonical’ has become all but meaningless.

    The Moscow Patriarchate unilaterally declared its own autocephaly without the agreement nor the endorsement of its own ‘Mother Church”. That autocephaly was only recognized by the Patriarchate of Constantinople after 150 years and after a hefty payment of baksheesh.

    Moscow’s accretion of he Metropolitanate of Kiyv was also taken unilaterally and without the endorsement of any council. The Patriarchate of Constantinople only acceded to that action well after the fact, and with a heavy dose of political pressure and financial inducement.

    If we agree with Monk James that the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not have the authority to take unilateral decisions, without the assent of all the episcopate, then those decisions to accede to the Russian autocephaly and the Russian occupation of the Ukrainian metropolitanate are null and void.

    Likewise the Russian government’s occupation of Georgia, and its unilateral decision to abolish the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate.

    The Russian’s have repeatedly have used military power and political violence to further their imperialist aims in direct violation of the Canons of the First Ecumenical Council. Then, having created military “facts on the ground” the Russians would like to believe that their accretions are somehow sacrosanct, and endorsed by the Holy Tradition. Not so!

    The Putinists would have us believe that the borders drawn by the Comintern are an inviolable expression of the Orthodox tradition. Not so !

    Over the past year the Moscow Patriarchate has been attempting to assemble an anti-EP coalition to support its position on Ukrainian autocephaly. Of course, the MP has an Achille’s heel – its own flagrant and persistent violation of the Sacred Canons.

    Several months ago the MP announced via its web-site that Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev had again, for the third time travelled to Tbilisi to again request that Patriarch Ilya II and the Holy Synod grant the status of a ‘metochion’ to the invading MP clergy in occupied Georgia. Sadly, the hapless Metropolitan Hilarion again went home empty handed.

    In other words, should Patriarch Kirill press his campaign against the EP too far, the EP has documented, verifiable grounds to depose and / or excommunicate the entire synod of the Moscow Patriarchate. A decade ago, the Georgians were willing to grant the invaders the fig leaf ‘metochion’ to hide the shame of their crimes against the Christian people. Now, not so much. You can google “Apostolic Canons” for the details.

    At the spring session of the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate, letters from Patriarch Bartholomew, Metropolitan Onuphry and Patriarch Kirill were read. After discussion, the Holy Synod took no formal action on the matter. His All-Holiness, Patriarch- Catholicos Ilya II expressed his personal opinion that the question of the unification of the Church in Ukraine should be solved “without outside interference and in accordance with the sacred canons”. Metropolitan Petre of Chkondidi – Martvili agreed with His All-Holiness’ statement but went on to share his personal opinion that “the Ukrainians should have their own church.”

    In other words: “A pox on both your houses”

    Our church is in peril – and we all know it is – for one simple reason. Our leaders and our people have forgotten Christ’s saving commandments. All the financial scandals, all the canonical disorder and the steady dribbling away of our posterity are due to the fact that “the salt has lost its savor”.

    The Orthochristian web-site is right about one thing. The crisis in Ukraine has only one solution, which is repentance; but it is NOT the Ukrainians who need to repent so much, as it is the Moscow Patriarchate and its sponsors in the Lyubyanka who need to repent of their violent imperialist fantasies.

    George, you like your Russian friends, are oblivious to your own contradictions. You lament the millions of Christians who were murdered by the NKVD / KGB, while you lionize Putin, who was and is the head of the KBG / SVR/ FSB; and who has done all he can to rebuild their stinking Soviet empire.

    Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets”. Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Matthew 23: 29 – 31

  11. The statement is shameful. You are correct George. It makes the EP the arbiter of what is normative. In other words, anyone who disagrees…..will be condemned as a “fundamentalist.” It sounds as if it was crafted by the circus performers at Fordham.

    • In 1922 Constantinople recognised the ‘ living church ‘ as Orthodox and being the Church of russia and asked Tikhon of blessed memory, to resign.
      I am sure the only thing regretted by METAXAS METAXAKIS is that he never got to add Patrarch of Moscow to his other monickers!!

      • George Michalopulos says

        The regrettable memory of Meletius Metaxakis and his abject failures should be front and center in every would-be reformist primates frontal cortex as a cautionary tale.

        • When Patriarch Bartholomew was asked about his upcoming visit to the United States in 1997, he said:
          “The occasion for our visit to the United States is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding, in 1922, of our Archdiocese of North and South America by the visionary Patriarch Meletios (Metaxakis).”

          There were other fond references coming from the EP regarding M. Metaxakis around the time of the robber council.

          I have heard Meletios Metaxakis referred to as: “of thrice wretched memory”. But it was the first time I saw him referred to as “the visionary”.

        • If only George!

        • People need to understand that there are infiltrators in the churches with the sole intention of changing the teaching. THEY know the stakes. The rest of us are too naive or don’t care. Why is there such a lavender mafia in the Catholic Church? Where did it suddenly come from? Not from weakness, but from strategy.

  12. The statement is an attempt to undo the proper channel to of resistance to heretical hierarchs as laid out in the 15th canon.

  13. M. Stankovich says

    I personally have trouble appreciating why there is so much investment in a non-binding, non-sensical, “pardon-me-but-who-cares” lack of authority, even upon the attendees (if push actually came to shove) to this “robber council.” Robber council of what? Is it not a fact – when you get down to the basics – that the individual parish is, for all intents and purposes, everything you need to know about the Church! ‘Cause if I read Christopher correctly, given the choice of a “healthy” schismatic parish, quelle que difference? I, of course, will spend the remainder of the night pondering the verses of the Feast of the Synaxis of the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils, for which all of the assembled Saints in heaven celebrate, for their “words were trumpets,” and their “actions prevented the splitting of the seamless garment of the Master”; the double analogy, of course, refers to the fact that the soldiers did not parts His “seamless” garment at the ultimate humiliation, the crucifixion.

    If St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote about the distinction between “schism” and “heresy,” I can’t find it, but other Fathers, such as St. Cyprian of Carthage, are quite clear that, while every heretic is a schismatic, not every schismatic is in heresy. In fact, if you spend some time reading the correspondence and directives of St. Cyrian – who like a Solomon, guided the Church through some of the darkest times of apostasy (another matter altogether) in the midst of persecution, always concerned with the salvation of individuals in his flock, but never wavering from upholding the Truth entrusted to him – one could be a schismatic simply by virtue of impertinence, arrogance, immaturity, and the resultant disobedience. These compromised the order, the unity, and dignity of the Church, not the Faith. But it was clearly understood that this was a wifull disobedience that separated one from the Church; for that time, until they repented and submitted themselves, they were not “of” the Church and they certainly were not “healthy.” Heresy, on the other hand, is sin against the Faith. Even the morphology of the Ancient Greek speaks to the difference, for example, σχίζω, to separate or divide, finds its way into expressions such as σχιζόπτερος, the “segmenting” of a bird’s wing, or σχίζειν γάλα, “separating” the whey from the curds; while the expression ἡ βασιλέος αἵρεσις refers to things (usually property) “seized” by the king, οὐκ ἔχει αἵρεσιν without your choice; there is no mistaking the intent in pejorative intended by referring to, alternately, αἵρεσις τῶν Σαδδουκαίων (Acts 5:17), “sect of the Sadducees,” and τῆς αἱρέσεως τῶν Φαρισαίων (Acts 15:5), “sect of the Pharisees”; and finally, the most primitive offense, philosophically, is the “hijacking” of the “original intent,” and in this case, referring to the very foundations of the Truth we hold.

    I am sad to imagine that no one seems to have ever read; or if read, has forgotten; or if not forgotten, fails to be inspired by the short essay of the 19th century Russian statesman, philanthropist, and quite obviously, theologian, Alexei Khomiakov’ It is simply entitled, The Church is One, and in fourteen short “chapters” quickly summarizes the ecclesiology of the Church. It was published at a time of great loss of faith in the church – a time when nihilism flourished, political unrest was emerging, and social injustice was constant. Tsar Alexander III had been offended by an essay Khomiakov had written and banned any publication of his writings. Khomiakov died in 1860, Tsar Alexander in 1892, and it was immediately published.

    You are welcome to download the PDF version here, the Word version here, or the Epub version here.

    • Christopher says

      Mr. Stankovich,

      In using the word “healthy” I had in mind the more usual conditions of a local parish (e.g. is it an ethnic club, etc.).

      As far as expanding the term to include schism and/or heresy as you have done, my judgement is that when it comes to secularism and the secularist mind (i.e. a mind/heart that has been formed by secularism to a significant degree), which is the root perplexity underneath the ecumenical conflict within the Church, the old calendarists/true orthodox have the better part of it. This is not to say that they are blameless, it’s just that given the choice between the two – an instinctual but reflexive rejection on the one hand (old/true), and a compromising if sophisticated defense/interaction on the other (“canonical” orthodoxy), I will choose the formal. The formal is the more likely to keep the Faith and pass it on through the generations, and the latter leads to a dissipation of the Faith through time/generations. In other words, it is “canonical” orthodoxy, through its largely unconscious compromise with the secular mind/life, that is more “separated” and not “of” the Church than these old/true Orthodox.

      To use the distinction you rightly bring up Mr. Stankovich, while the old/true Orthodox might be guilty of a sin against “order” of the house of the King, the “canonical” Orthodox might be guilty of a sin against the Truth itself. Neither one of these sins can be pinned down to a single statement, or action, or “council”, or any other particular thing or point in time. Rather, it is the character of their life, taken as a whole, that indicates these “sins”. On “canonical” Orthodoxy’s side of things, which is where I am (UOCofUSA – of the EP), the evidence of this deadly compromise with secularism is everywhere to be seen – from the local parish level (it is as you say, everything is there) all the way to the top (Met. Kallistos being one obvious example). Orthodoxy, in particular “canonical” Orthodoxy, is failing in its encounter with secularism.

      Still, all the above is said on the level of discursive reasoning. Thank God these judgements are but correlations (as it were) to the life of the Spirit within the Church and each person. At this level neither the Church nor any of us are “healthy”. On the contrary, we are as through fire on the way to our Cross and death, and it is only after this sickness unto death that we find “health”.

    • Yes should be read and thank you for bringing it up.
      Just to say that it was probably Nicholas first who died in 1854, who banned him as Alexander 111was not Tsar til 1880,after murder of his father in March 1880, but this minor point.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Thank you, NIKOS, I am corrected.

        • Monk James Silver says

          Oh, thank Heaven!

          For once. Michael Stankovich has admitted a mistake, although he has not offered an apology here..

          After many years of undeserved animus toward me — no matter what I write — I would warmly welcome such a statement from MS, since he’s been more mistaken and less than correct than he has admitted in the matters I’ve brought up, especially in the area of translation.

          As MS requested, I would have brought forward the errors, translational and theological, in our most common English-language translation of the Divine Liturgy, but I was twice shut out by the system’s protocols which blocked replies aftercertain point. I hope to get that material through here soon.

          Should I send it to this thread, George Michalopulos? Or where?

  14. “The Orthodox Church considers all efforts to break the unity of the Church undertaken by individuals or groups under the pretext of maintaining or allegedly defending true Orthodoxy as being worthy of condemnation.”

    The statement is unfortunate but probably irrelevant. It assumes that the Phanar is the head of the Orthodox Church and has authority to decide such matters. This is simply not the case so the statement will be ignored. All it really signifies is that Bartholomew twisted enough arms to get the statement adopted from a controlled/limited group of bishops who do not represent the vast, vast majority of the Orthodox on earth.

    It might as well be something out of the mouth of the Pope or Franklin Graham.

    If one looks at the traditional witness of the Church Fathers as presented by those like Fr. Peter Heers or Met. Hierotheos and contrasts the spirit of the Council of Crete and the theology of Met. John Zizioulos, one gets a picture of two different religions hiding within the same ecclesial structure.

    This can only be a temporary situation. A house divided against itself cannot stand. It is only a matter of time. Many additional embarrassing episodes could present themselves before the final split. Hopefully, it will happen sooner rather than later.

  15. Monk James Silver says

    “The Orthodox Church considers all efforts to break the unity of the Church undertaken by individuals or groups under the pretext of maintaining or allegedly defending true Orthodoxy as being worthy of condemnation.” – ‘Council of Crete’
    First, and just for the sake of this discussion, and not having seen the original Greek text, I’ll accept that this is an accurate translation of the statement issued by the Council.

    Next, we have to notice the conditions imposed by the statement. We read that ‘individuals or groups’, in order to be ‘considered ‘worthy of condemnation’:
    1 .must have ‘undertaken’ ‘efforts to break the unity of the Church’;
    2. must have adopted a ‘pretext of maintaining…
    3. must be ‘allegedly defending’…
    4 …a herein undefined ‘true Orthodoxy’.

    The vagueness of this statement insulates it from any charge of heresy at the same time as it is clear that its authors want no challenges to their version of Orthodoxy which — as seems to be implied by their own phrasing — is NOT true.

    Verbum satis sapienti. (A word to the wise is sufficient.)

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Father, I’m not arguing with you, but if Orthodox means “right opinion,” how can something “NOT true” be Orthodox?

      Here’s the link BTW (See #22):

      • Monk James Silver says

        Thanks for the link, dear Gail.

        As it turns out, the Greek text doesn’t use the word ‘true’ at all, but ‘genuine’ (gnEsia).

        Either way, though, since the statement’s authors didn’t bother to put that word in quotations or otherwise call attention to its (putatively) inappropriate use, it seems that they are crediting the dissidents with genuineness and thereby calling their own genuineness into question.

        That’s why are parsed the English translation so closely, and we’re still left wondering just what the Council meant

        But it doesn’t look good for the Council.

        • Billy Jack Sunday says

          Monk James Silver


          Maybe the transliteration would read:

          “To hell with anybody who speaks out about how we are actually wrong!”

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I wish more was done back in June 2016. When you put something in writing like that and no one challenges it, it becomes immortalized.

  16. M. Stankovich says

    I too thank Gail for the link to the Greek text – not necessarily that this council intended to convey what the actual morphological content suggests (and I can only suspect it is highly unlikely) – but to prove my point of what happens when wordsmiths intent on creating a problem can come up with.

    First, Scott jumps out of the gate and screws up the English, for heaven’s sake, without ever looking at the original Greek:

    The statement is unfortunate but probably irrelevant. It assumes that the Phanar is the head of the Orthodox Church and has authority to decide such matters.

    I can only wonder how he interprets the statement, “[The] preservation of the true Orthodox faith is ensured only through the conciliar system.” When you then actually check the Greek, it says “συνοδικοῦ συστήματος.” The phrase has a number of meanings – and I commented previously regarding definition drawing upon context – but this is certainly drawn from the Codex of Justinian where it referred specifically to “synods of the Church.” συστήματος is derived from σύστημα, mean an “amalgam” or a compound of parts, or – you’ll love this, Scott – frequently replaced with the word συμφωνία [symphonia]! This is a divinely inspired language! Clearly, if written pursuant to the langue proffered, the council said that the highest authority of the Church has always been in the Councils – not this one, mind you, but the Councils. I would refer you to a marvelous article by Fr. Georges Florovsky in Volume One of his Collected Works: Bible, Church, Tradition, “The Authority of the Ancient Councils.”

    Finally, as to the point of the use of phrase τῆς γνησίας Ὀρθοδοξίας, and the suggestion that γνησίας is like saying “genuine” Coca Cola; that it is cheap, foolish, mistaken, even insulting and dumb. To simply translate this word as “genuine” is to miss the depth and power of the word – its root γένος, is from where we derive the word “genus” of the species. In the Ancient Greek mind it conveyed something endemic; it describing how a Greek understood his/her “tribe” as distinctly Greek, set apart and unique, it was accomplished with this word. Its poetic comparison is the word οἶκος or “house” as seen in the Greek Septuagint: e.g. the house of David as the house of God [ὁ δὲ οἶκος Δαυὶδ ὡς οἶκος Θεοῦ] (Zech. 12:8). I disagree that this constitutes an error. It is simply another way of stating a truth, and it certainly is clear enough to me. As to whether they were sincere as to its intent is another matter all together…

    • Monk James Silver says

      The usage of ‘genuine’ through the long corridors of Greek usage is interesting, but not at all helpful here.

      As it is, there are several Greek-speaking sectarian groups who describe themselves as ‘genuine Orthodox’ in both Greek and English, and when the authors of Paragraph 22 of the Khania statement chose not to identify this nomenclature as spurious (at least in their estimation), they implied that they (the authors) themselves are NOT ‘genuine’.

      This might be just an editorial oversight. Or not.