We live in a time characterized by Rebellion against the Apostolic and
ecclesiastical Orthodox spirituality of the Holy Fathers. Alarming is
also the great multitude of the visible and invisible enemies of the
Orthodox Church. Enemies from without and within, and the danger exists
that we may become confused, misled, scandalized and spiritually
hypothermic if we fail to guard ourselves with the fail-safe direction
of the Holy Fathers. We are listening today to many different voices
about salvation, unconditional love, peace, joy, sharing, christian
unity, ecumenism, love with no bounds, branch theories, ecumenical
services, interfaith prayers, etc.
What may have been lacking in our spiritual diet are some honest direct
answers to some serious questions which our faithful often have such as:
-Shouldn't we forget differences with the other Christians and concentrate on "common ground"?
-Aren't we being somewhat arrogant by maintaining that only Orthodoxy has the truth?
-Is the Holy Spirit in every Christian regardless of Creed?
we visit and pray with the "Non-Orthodox" (we dare not say heretics!)
especially with the Roman Catholics since "we are almost like them"?
-Can we have fellowship with other Christians (non-Orthodox) who believe and love Christ?
-Must we worship correctly to be saved?
-Is it better to be a strong and committed Protestant Christian than a marginal sinful Orthodox?
-If the Holy Spirit and its gifts can be possessed outside of the
Orthodox Church then why do we need to Chrismate those that convert to
-Is it possible that this action of the Church to re-Chrismate the new
converts speak loud and clear that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are
lacking in the other Christian bodies?
-If salvation can be secured in every Christian creed then where is the crime of keeping Orthodoxy "America's best kept secret"?
If you have been struggling with these questions, you are certainly not
alone. The spirit of confusion is widespread, about as widespread as
the spirit of the ecumenistic movement which has been romancing the
"fronema" (mindset) of the Western Christian for over half a century.
As we have stated in some of our past work, ecumenism in the true
sense, is having all of humanity embrace the truth of the gospel,
having every person on this planet come to the Truth Himself, The
Christ. However, the type of ecumenism that accepts all Christian
confessions as equal (Branch Theory), that is equally sharing bits and
pieces of the truth and teaches love about truth, ignorance of dogma
for the sake of peace, and disregard of differences which tend to
divide, this type of ecumenism is the latest child of Free Masonry and
the great-grandfather of the Antichrist, a true menace of the Church.
Naturally, the "lovers of all" the "unconditional lovers and
peacemakers" and the deluded blind followers of the Branch Theory will
stereotype our message as one of narrow-mindedness, conservativism,
judgmentalism, egotism, fanaticism, and criticism to say the least.
Initially you may even agree with them, after all who wants friction,
strife, unrest and controversy, when love and peace is such a wonderful
But did you ever consider that Orthodoxy is not limited to a few
isolated individuals or a few decades or certain topographies?
Orthodoxy is the universal (Catholic) Church of Christ and the Militant
Church is in complete communion with the Triumphant Church that cloud
of witnesses, martyrs, confessors, teachers, saints and the Apostles
who "tested the spirits" over the centuries to preserve for us the
secure and proven path that leads to theosis? Our "fronema" (way of
thinking) must be an extension or at least be in complete harmony with
their beliefs and thoughts. Their lifestyle, "The lives of the Saints"
constitutes the true interpretation of the gospel, they did not simply
study the gospel, but they lived it by their very action. Not
necessarily scholars, they were the true theologians. Today's children
of scholasticism and rationalism, a new breed of modern theologians are
slowly eroding the authority of our Church Fathers in order to justify
Dear Reader, let's "test the spirits", fully understanding that if "our
spirit" contradicts and flatly opposes the genuine spirit of our Holy
Fathers we run the great risk of self-excommunication. Let's not be
deceived, no one understood the Love of Christ more than our Saints.
Often they sold themselves as slaves to give the proceeds to the poor
yet always ready to spill their blood for the truth.
In an attempt to help our brothers and sisters who love the truth, we
will present some articles, statements, confessions, and short verses
from a number of various Church Fathers from throughout the centuries.
Let's be careful however, because according to our modern Christian
thought and criteria we may find their message full of conservativism,
judgmentalism, egotism, fanaticism, and criticism to say the least. My
friend be aware that no one deceives you. Their messages are full of
love for the Truth, fully understanding that in the absence of Truth
there can be no Love
in the Christian sense.
The Holy Scriptures On Non Orthodox Teaching
"Whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments and
teaches others to do the same he shall be called least in the kingdom
The bad teacher, according to Zigavinos, has no place in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus said to them, "watch out that no one deceives you".
"For many will come in My name claiming, I am the Christ, and will deceive many".
"and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people".
"for false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great
signs and miracles to deceive even the elect, if that were possible.
See I have told you ahead of time."
The apostles have also warned us about the danger of heretics
(non-Orthodox Christians). They instructed the early Christians to be
on guard against false teachers and their heretical and destructive
teachings. Savage wolves dressed in sheep's clothing does not
necessarily refer to New Agers or Buddhists or atheists, but to
Christians who went astray!!!
"I know that after I leave savage wolves will come in among you and
will not spare the flock. Even from your own numbers men will arise and
distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them."
"If anyone preaches to you a gospel other than what you received, let him be anathema (eternally lost)!"
"Don't let anyone deceive you in any way."
2 Thessalonians 2:3
"Some have these (concerning the faith) so they have shipwrecked
their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed
over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
1 Timothy 1:20
Is St. Paul being judgemental
here about these two Christians who decided in their minds that they
could formulate their own beliefs? Let's be very careful because it is
the Holy Spirit that is speaking through St. Paul!!!
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times "some will abandon the
faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons."
1 Timothy 4:1
All false teachings (heresies) small or large are teachings inspired by demons!!!
"If you point these things out to the brothers you will be a good
minister of Christ Jesus brought up in the truth of the faith."
1 Timothy 4:6
"If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound
instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching he is
conceited and understands nothing."
1 Timothy 6:3
Do the Protestants, Roman Catholics and non-denominationalists teach
any false doctrines? Hundreds of them!!! According to St. Paul, they
understand nothing about the Mystery of Godliness!!! (They are full of
"For the time will come when men (Christians) will not put up with
sound doctrine...they will gather around them a great number of
teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."
2 Timothy 4:3
"Alexander the metal worker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord
will repay him for what he has done...at my first defense no one came
to my support but everyone deserted me."
2 Timothy 4:14-16
St. Paul does not hesitate to name the enemies of the Church in order to protect the faithful."Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings."
"...just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies."
The apostle Peter is plainly teaching us that false teachings
(heresies, teachings of the demons, un-Orthodox beliefs and doctrines)
cause loss of salvation!!!
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit but test the spirits."
1 John 4:1
"Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God."
2 John 1:9
No Christ, No God!!!
"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching do not take him into your home or welcome him."
2 John 1:10
"I wrote to the Church but Diotrephes who loves to be first will have nothing to do with us...gossiping maliciously about us."
3 John 1:9
St. John, much like St. Paul, does not hesitate to expose the heretical
Diotrephes because his egotism was a stumbling block to the Church.
Generally, heretical teachers and enemies of the Truth were exposed and
named in the Holy Scriptures. However the names of great sinners, such
as the Thief on the Cross, the harlots and the incestuous person in
Corinth, were silenced. This is a clear indication that a man
"possessed by false teaching" is far more dangerous than a man of
immorality and bodily passions. According to St. Paul such a man is
self-judged. It is nearly impossible for such a man to return to the
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of the Americas was truly blessed by the
stature of the ever-memorable Archbishop Michael, a great spiritual
leader of our times. The following article was found in the personal
library of Father Nicholas Elias in Bethlehem Pennsylvania who fell
asleep in the Lord several years ago.
The Schism of the Roman Catholic Church from the Eastern Orthodox
Exactly nine hundred years have passed since the separation of the two
great Churches of Christendom when the Western Church broke away from
the Eastern Orthodox. Many still seek the cause of this most
unfortunate division. Actually, it can be found in the difference
concerning the Primacy of the Pope of Rome.
Until the Fifth Century A.D. there was not one single instance of
dissention or antagonism between the two Churches. The bishop of Rome
had always been considered the First in the order of hierarchy. This
was a natural consequence of the position in the ranks of hierarchy.
The third canon of the Second Ecumenical Council (381) designates the
position of honor of the Bishop of Constantinople as second only to
that of the Bishop of Rome. This decision of the Council is based on
the premise that Constantinople is the new Rome, and incidentally, it
has been retained among the titles of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
This indicates, as was brought out at the Council, that the political
importance of the city defined the honorary status of the hierarchy.
The same fact was repeated with emphasis by the now renown 28th Canon
of the Fourth Ecumenical Council held at Chalcedon in 451. At that
time, the Bishop of Constantinople was acclaimed as equal in honor to
the Bishop of Rome.
In the meantime, erroneous beliefs began to circulate in the Church of
the West. Of these, the most serious was an addition to the Creed of
Nicea-Constantinople concerning the Holy Spirit. The Church of Rome
wanted to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds "and from the Son." In
Latin, this addition was accomplished by the word, "filioque".
It should be made clear at this point that the Creed or PISTEVO was
compiled and authorized as the Christian Confessions of faith by the
First and Second Ecumenical Councils. The first seven articles of the
Creed were approved at the First Council and the remaining five were
composed at the Second Council which was held in Constantinople. The
Eighth article states "and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, Giver of Life,
who proceedeth from the Father, who together with the Father and the
Son is worshipped..." The addition of "filioque" ("and from the Son")
was first heard in Spain during the middle of the Sixth Century. From
there, this innovation spread to other western countries. It is most
noteworthy however, that during the early part of the Ninth Century,
Pope Leo III protested against this addition to the Creed. Convinced
that it should remain as it has been written and proclaimed by the
first two Ecumenical Councils. He ordered that the Creed be inscribed
without any change upon two silver plaques. These were placed in St.
Peter's at Rome for all to see. This is a historical fact which is
accepted by all historians as true.
The first to object strongly to this addition to the Creed, and to
other errors of the Western Church, was Photios, the great Patriarch of
Constantinople, who flourished in the middle of the Ninth Century.
Photios was a brilliant scholar and theologian who held a high position
in the Imperial Byzantine Court. He attained great literary fame with
his monumental work, "Myrio Biblos", in which he summarized 280 ancient
writings of which the majority were subsequently lost. Due to his great
ability and exceptional virtues as a layman he was admitted to the
priesthood and in a period of six days he was ordained deacon, priest,
and bishop. On Christmas Day of 857, he was enthroned as Patriarch of
The discord between the Eastern and the Western Church continued on a
livelier vein even after Patriarch Photios. The Eastern Church, with
the Patriarch of Constantinople at its head, protested against the
errors in dogma taught by the Western Church. Constant appeals were
made to Rome to renounce all error and conform with the teachings of
the Seven Ecumenical Councils of the first eight centuries.
Simultaneously, the Western Church, with the Pope as its head,
maintained that the entire Christian Church was obliged to adhere
without discussion to the pronouncements of the Roman See. They
maintained that the primate of the Church of Rome was the vicar of
Christ on earth, because he was supposedly the heir to the primacy of
St. Peter whom Christ our Lord had installed as head of the universal
Church and who founded the Christian Church of Rome.
Now let us see what we can learn from the original account of the events in quetion:
We should first consider that passage from the Gospel according to St.
Matthew upon which the Roman Catholics base the primacy of St. Peter.
Our Lord was at Caesarea of Phillippi (Matt.16) when he asked His
Disciples, "Whom do men say that I am?" And they said, "Some say that
thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; and others Jeremias, or one of
the prophets." He saith unto them, "but whom say ye that I am?" And
Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art Christ the Son of the Living
God." And Jesus answered and said unto him, "Blessed art thou, Simon
Bar Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my
Father who is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter;
and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall
not prevail against it."(Matt. 16:13-18)
It is quite evident from these words of our Lord that He built His
Church not upon Peter for then He would have clearly said, "Thou art
Peter and upon thee I will build my Church," but upon the rock of the
true Faith which Peter confessed. Christ our Lord clearly said that His
Church is built upon the truth which Peter declared that our Lord Jesus
Christ is the Son of the living God. Only through considerable
distortion of the text can one draw the conclusion of the Roman
Catholics, that Christ built the Church upon Peter.
(b) It is also clear from the Scriptures that St. Peter had no
authority over the Apostles. In his Epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul
states that when he saw Peter was not thinking correctly, he corrected
him in the presence of others, "But when Peter was to come to Antioch,
I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed" (Gal. 2:11).
Further down, St. Paul elaborates by saying, "...when I saw that they
walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto
Peter before them all, "if thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner
of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles
to live as do the Jews?" (Gal. 2:14). On the basis of these words of
St. Paul we may justly question, "Is there even a trace of recognition
here of Peter's authority to teach without the possibility of error?"
(c) Concerning the foundation of the Christian Church in Rome there is
authoritative testimony that it was not accomplished by St. Peter. It
was established by Christians who settled in Rome. Moreover, St. Paul
considered it his Church. He mentioned this in his epistle to the
Romans "...from Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully
preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the
gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another
man's foundation...for which cause also I have been much hindered from
coming to you. But now having no more place in these parts, and having
a great desire these many years to come unto you. Whensoever I take my
journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my
journey" (Gal. 15:19-20, 22-23).
From this passage, therefore, we clearly see that St. Paul had no
knowledge that St. Peter was in Rome or that Peter had founded the
Church there. On the contrary, he says that he feels obliged to preach
the gospel where no other Apostle taught so that he would not build
upon the foundation laid by another. Surely this is an explicit
testimony that St. Peter was in no way connected with the foundation of
the Church of Rome. Actually, St. Peter served the Church for many
years in Antioch, as verified by St. Jerome, and then went to Rome
where he suffered martyrdom with St. Paul.
(d) In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the order of
precedence given to the Apostolic Sees was determined exclusively by
the political importance of various cities. The Bishop of Rome was
recognized as first because Rome was capital of the empire. Originally,
the Bishop of Constantinople was designated as second by the Second
Ecumenical Council. Subsequently, when Constantinople became the
capital of the Byzantine Empire and was referred to as New Rome, The
Fourth Ecumenical Council proclaimed the Bishop of Constantinople equal
in rank with the Bishop of Rome.
The Bishop of Alexandria was designated third, because his city was
then the great center of learning; and following him were the Bishop of
Antioch and Jerusalem. If the position of honor were determined not by
the political but by the religious significance of the city, does it
not stand to reason that the primacy of honor would be reserved for
Jerusalem, the Mother Church of Christendom? There would be no dispute
in that case, for our Lord lived there, was crucified there and arose
from the tomb there. Moreover, the first Christian Church was founded
in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.
These are the true and accurate facts as they are brought to light by
the authentic documents which make up Ecclesiastical History. It is
very unfortunate that the Western Church insists on its viewpoint for
so many centuries.
We Orthodox are deeply grieved that our Roman Catholic brethren distort
the facts. We are praying daily and will continue to pray that the
Roman Catholic Church will again embrace the truth, as many learned
laymen of that faith have done already. That event will be one of the
most momentous in the entire history of mankind. It will mark the
beginning of the fulfillment of the prayer of our Lord on the night of
His betrayal, "Father, I pray that they all may be one; as Thou Father,
art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us; that the
world may believe that Thou hast sent Me."
St. Nikodemos The Hagiorite Publication Society
From the library of Fr. Nicholas Elias
The Miracle of Saint
Approximately thirteen hundred years after his repose, Saint Spyridon's
body remains incorrupt on the island of Corfu generating an untold
number of miracles. What is significant about this extraordinary
miracle and possibly shocking to some of our Christians is the fact
that God or His Saints do not necessarily accept the offerings or the
prayers of heretical and deluded Christians.
In 1716 the Turks had the island of Corfu under a tight siege. They had
50,000 troops and a good number of ships surrounding the island,
cutting its lifeline from land and sea.
The barbarian armies were concentrated at the far walls of the city.
Pizani, a general of the forces of the Venetian Republic, was anxiously
anticipating the oncoming enemy attack (Corfu and the nearby islands
were occupied by Italy at the time). At daybreak on August 11, 1716,
St. Spyridon the patron Saint of the island, appeared in front of the
enemy lines holding a glistening sword in his right hand. His austere
and grandiose appearance horrified the aggressors who began to recede.
The Agarenes, panic-stricken by the most awesome presence and fearless
attack of the Saint, abandoned weapons, machinery and animals running
for their lives. This great miracle became known throughout the island.
The Turks had left behind 120 cannons, a good amount of weapons,
ammunition, animals and food.
After this powerful, surprising and most obvious miracle, the Venetian
ruler Andrew Pizani, a Papist, wanted to erect a Papist altar in the
Orthodox Church of St. Spyridon (forever pushing for this was also the
Papist Cardinal of the island). However, St. Spyridon appeared to
Pizani in a dream saying, "Why are you bothering me? The altar of your
faith is unacceptable in my Temple!" Naturally Pizani reported this to
the Papist Cardinal who answered that it was nothing but an evil
fantasy of the devil who wanted to nullify the noble deed. After this
Pizani was very much encouraged, so he ordered the necessary materials
to commence construction of the altar. The materials were piled up
outside of the temple of St. Spyridon. When the Orthodox priests of the
temple and the Greek leaders of the island realized this, they were cut
to the heart. They asked to meet with Pizani to beg him to put a stop
to this. Pizani's response was quite disheartening. He bluntly said,
"As the ruler, I will do whatever I please!" At that moment, the
Orthodox community of the island turned their eyes to their Saint
beseeching him to put a stop to this abomination.
That same night, St. Spyridon appeared to Pizani as a monk and told
him, "I told you not to bother me. If you dare to go through with your
decision, you will surely regret it, but by then it will be too late."
The next morning Pizani reported all this to the Papist Cardinal who
now accused him of being not only faithless but "yellow". Again, after
this, the ruler mustered up enough courage to order the construction of
The Papists of the island were celebrating their triumph while the
Orthodox were deeply grieved. Their grief could not be comforted and
with tears they begged for the Saint's intervention to save them from
the Papist abomination. The Saint heard their prayers and intervened
dynamically. That evening, a terrible storm broke out unleashing a
barrage of thunderbolts on Fort Casteli, the base of Pizani and his
ammunition barracks. The entire fort ended up in a holocaust. Nine
hundred Papist soldiers and civilians were instantly killed from the
explosion, but not a single Orthodox-who were not allowed in the fort
after dark-was harmed. Pizani was found dead with his neck wedged
between two wooden beams. The body of the Papist Cardinal was found
thrown a great distance from the fort. But the most amazing fact is
that the same night and at the same hour another thunderbolt struck in
Venice targeting the compound of Pizani, burning his portrait that hung
on the wall. Strangely enough nothing else was damaged. Also, the guard
of the ammunition barracks saw the Saint draw near him with a lit
torch. He was carried by the Saint near the church of the Crucified
without a single scratch.
The Fathers and Truth
"It is impossible to recall peace without dissolving the cause of
the schism-the primacy of the Pope exhalting himself equal to God."St. Mark the Evgenikos
"The Latins are not only schismatics but heretics...we did not
separate from them for any other reason other than the fact that they
are heretics. This is precisely why we must not unite with them unless
they dismiss the addition from the Creed "filioque" and confess the
Creed as we do."St. Mark the Evgenikos
My brothers, I studied for forty and fifty years. I read many books
about the Jews, the idolaters, and about the impious and heretics. I
studied the depths of wisdom. All the other faiths are false and
counterfeit. Only our own faith, the Orthodox Christianity, is True and
Holy.St. Kosmas the Aitolos
Neither the Papist nor the Protestant church can be considered as
the True church of Christ. The first was altered by a number of
innovations and the accursed despotism (Primacy) due to which resulted
the schism from the Orthodox. The same goes for the Protestants whose
innumerable innovations lead to total anarchy and chaos. Only the
Orthodox church maintained the teachings of Christ flawlessly without a
single innovation. Only in the Orthodox church does unity exist. The
unity which the Savior was petitioning from the Father saying, "Holy
Father keep them in your Name those that you gave me so they can be one
just like we were one."
(John 17:11...)St. Nektarios of Aigina
"Those that are not reborn by the divine grace in the only ONE,
HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH, they do not consist of (comprise)
any church, neither visible nor invisible."St. Nektarios
"Through the dogma of "Infallibility" the Western church lost its
spiritual freedom. It lost its beauty and balance, and was deprived of
the wealth of the grace of the Holy Spirit, the presence of Christ-
from spirit and soul ended up a dead body. We are truly grieved for the
injustice done to the church and we pray from the bottom of our hearts
that the Holy Spirit illumine the mind and the heart of the Most
Blessed Pontiff to have him return to the ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND
APOSTOLIC CHURCH that which he took from her, something that should
never have taken place."St. Nektarios
The "Third Fall"
"In the history of mankind there are 3 falls:
The fall of Adam, of Judas the Iscariot and that of the Pope. The
essence of falling into sin is always the same: the desire to become
God by oneself. In this manner, a man insensibly equates himself with
the devil, because he also wants to become God by himself to replace
God with himself...The fall of the Pope lies exactly in this very
thing; to want to replace the God-man with the man..."Justin Popovich of Serbia
Papacy is a heresy
"The papacy is included among the heretical
weeds forever appearing in the church of God which is very often
plagued and continues to plague the salvation of mankind in Christ; in
being bad seeds and rotten members they are justly cut off from the
healthy body and the Orthodox Catholic Church of Christ."Ecumenical Patriarch Anthimos 1895
"All those of you that are genuine children of Orthodoxy, leave as
quick as possible from the priests who succumbed to Latin rule
(Uniads), and neither congregate with them nor accept a blessing from
their hands."St. Germanos of Constantinople
"The Latins are unbaptized because they do not keep the three
immersions while baptizing...let them learn that a baptism is not
complete by petitioning the Holy Trinity only, but what is also needed
is the likeness (typos) of the death, the burial and the resurrection
of the Lord...for us to be participants in the likeness of the death of
Christ and His three-day burial; it is imperative that the three
immersions take place otherwise this is impossible..."St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite
Father Philotheos Zervakos writes (1923)
My dear lady,
It is an honor for me to write to you even though I do not know you
personally and I hope you do not misunderstand my doing so because my
action does not come from any other motive other than pure innocent
Christian Love, from Christian brotherly duty and the commandment given
from our Christ the Savior. Having arrived in Naxos a few days ago, I
was informed that you are the assistant principle of the Academy and
that you abandoned the Orthodox religion of our Fathers and have
embraced that of the Latins (Roman Catholics). This made me grieve
deeply and it continues to grieve me and rightly so, because I think of
all people as my brothers. So when I see one of my brothers or sisters
to suffer some physical injury or calamity I grieve; how much more must
I grieve and weep when this calamity is spiritual...I'm not aware of
the reasons which pushed you to deny Orthodoxy (which was founded by
the Holy Fathers through the Seven Ecumenical Counsels, illumined by
the Holy Spirit) and bow down to Papism which is a forerunner of the
Antichrist because it was pride and arrogance that ruled over the Pope
who desired to become the highest authority of the church and of the
state. By this action, he tore apart the church of Christ accepting the
addition to the Creed and going against the words of the Lord who told
His disciples when He was about to be crucified, "The Holy Spirit who
proceeds from the Father"(John 15:26-27).
Following this, the Pope worshippers fell into innumerable innovations
(cacodoxies) and heresies, turning upside down all the sacraments of
the Orthodox Church...You may tell me that we Orthodox have many
faults, this I also confess and I preach that clergy and laity have
lost their purpose in life but this is no reason for us to betray our
religion because of the sins of others. Christ said that many are
called but few are chosen and that the gate that leads to life is
narrow and sorrowful and few will enter through it. The path to
perdition is wide and spacious and many are walking through it...
The Romanian Fathers
Archimandrite Cleopa Elie and Reverend Father Dimitri Staniloae are
considered to be the flying eagles of Romanian Orthodox Spirituality.
Decades of struggling, sacrifice and steadfast Love for the faith have
produced thousands upon thousands of spiritual children in spite of the
atheist and repressive regimes of their country. Their piety and that
of the Romanian Orthodox in general compelled the visiting Patriarch of
Jerusalem to say, "I'm sorry that I was not born in Romania!"
The following passages in matters of Love and Truth were translated
from the book "Spiritual discussions with Romanian Fathers" written by
hieromonk Ioannikios Balan. Their answers clearly demonstrate the
universality which characterizes the Orthodox Church; these
"passionless" Holy Fathers speak the truth of the gospel in a crisp and
crystal clear tone in the absence of diplomacy and compromise.
Father Cleopa: What should be the attitude of Orthodox Christians towards Christians of other confessions?
Towards other Christians, as long as they do not keep challenging us
about the Truth of our faith we must behave with love and compassion,
help them with their needs according to the example of the Good
Samaritan given to us by our Savior Jesus Christ. (Luke 10:37, Matthew
7:12). However, if they are willing to challenge and provoke us about
our holy faith or the Sacred Tradition of our Holy Church "we must
defend it with all our might and we must fight until death" (Unseen
Warfare, St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite).
True, we must love our neighbor but within bounds. Whereas, our love
towards God should know no bounds. Let's not think that it is right to
love our neighbor while allowing the True Faith of Christ to be stepped
upon from foreigners (Protestant and non-Orthodox missionaries to
Romania) because they want to distance us from this faith and teach us
their own which is crooked and heretical. Therefore, every Orthodox
priest and every faithful member of our church must be a good soldier
of Christ with all the piety and bravery and power of Godliness in
order to project the truth of our Orthodox faith, if capable by his
words or writings. He must not pretend to be meek in situations where
there is no need for meekness because according to the prophet:"There the meek must become a warrior."
Poimen the Great teaches the same thing saying: "We must show
perseverance for whatever temptation comes along whether they wish to
pluck our eyes out or to cut our right hand. However, if someone wishes
to distance us from our faith then let's become idignant (Gerontikon).
He also says,"the first time walk away, the second and third
time fight against him who wants to separate you from the true faith."
Archimandrite Cleopa Elie
The Orthodox Romanian Theology has as its head for over 50 years the
most prominent among her representatives teacher and most Reverend
Father Dimitri Staniloe. His person is highly recognized in Romania and
abroad as one of the greatest personalities of the Orthodox church
today. An outstanding leader of the church, unsurpassed in his
knowledge of dogmatics, a great defender of Orthodoxy, and teacher of
the theology of humility, translator of patristic treasures and
tiredless author of theological and spiritual studies. His writings
have great relevance to us living in the spiritual "melting pot", of
the United States.
Can the Orthodox Christian be "assured" of his salvation from this life?
The Christian lives his salvation in this life in the form of a
betrothal which is expressed by the clarity of his conscience, by his
participation in the Divine Mysteries and a way of life which is in
agreement with the will of God. However, eternal salvation with Christ
depends on the Christian life-long commitment here on this earth, as
far as the will of God is concerned. The weaknesses that he possesses
do not give him the guarantee that he will maintain this way of life
nor can he be assured of repentance after falling into a sinful
lifestyle, so he cannot be totally sure that he will hold on to his
What are some of the main factors which can positively help man's salvation?
The true faith in Christ, the love of God and neighbor, and helping the needy...
Do all people such as idolaters, bad Christians, heretics,
schismatics and Christians with mortal sins have the Grace of the Holy
In the New Testament, God promised for the Grace of the Holy Spirit
to be given to all those who will believe in Jesus Christ (Isaiah 44:3,
Acts 11:17). It was especially given to the Apostles. Idolaters,
unbelievers and apostates do not have the Grace of the Holy Spirit. "In
the last days there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly
desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural
instincts and do not have the Spirit" (Jude 18-20). In the last days
many false prophets and false Christs will use deception to show that
they have the Grace of the Holy Spirit and they will perform great
signs and false miracles by the power of Satan in order to deceive many
according to Christ (Matthew 24:25, Mark 13:22), to deceive even the
elect and to distance them from the true faith (Rev. 19, 20).
Christians who fall into great sins "sadden the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians
4:30) however they don't lose the Grace of their salvation. If they
return with all their heart to the path of repentance, confession and
good works, they receive once again very abundantly the Grace of the
Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38). Heretics and Schismatics do not have the
Divine Grace because they sinned against the Holy Spirit and their
malice of unbelief has been made evident being that it opposes the true
faith of Christ..." The Church yesterday today and forever The theology
of the Roman Catholics considers grace created and not an energy
proceeding from Christ. Salvation is living in Christ Jesus or the life
of Christ for the faith through His uncreated energies. This is
accomplished when a man is progressing in virtue with the help of
What other Christian church possesses the grace of salvation
except the Orthodox Church?
The grace of salvation can only be received in the Orthodox Church
because this is an energy of Christ which remains always the same in
the church yesterday today and forever. The theology of the Roman
Catholics considers grace created and not an energy proceeding from
Christ. Salvation is living in Christ Jesus or the life of Christ for
the faithful through His uncreated energies. This is accomplished when
a man is progressing in virtue with the help of Divine Grace.
Do the Protestant, Anglican, and Neo-Protestant confessions
which do not have apostolic hierarchy maintain some grace of
the Holy Spirit?
Salvation in the Protestant formats of faith is terribly impossible
being that it lacks the union in Christ through the True Faith in Him ....
Unity of the church is absolutely impossible because it lacks the
Divine Mysteries through which Christ Himself works out His
salvation in the hearts of men. Therefore, the faithful do not have the
ability to reach holiness or the communion in Christ among them. The
man of Protestantism knows something about Christ but with words
only and even these lack the fullness of the Apostolic knowledge and
the sanctifying energy of Christ, which is given through the Divine
Mysteries to the priesthood, and the blessing...
The Orthodox Church teaches us that there is no salvation outside of the church. How are we to understand this type of thing?
Only the person who lives in the Orthodox Church keeps the fullness
of the faith towards Christ and the faith in the Mysteries by which he
receives the whole Christ within (Body and Blood) and becomes saved. If
one sins from weakness he can choose to be forgiven. Since all these
things do not exsist in the Protestant and Neo-protestant Off- shoots
how can their church save its members? They only hear words about
Christ and they treat these words as something external. They lack
communion with Christ and His energies because these energies spring
forth from His Mysteries. Their teachings are presented distorted and
very nebulous concerning His person. Some of them could be saved but
only through exceptional means from great works that they may perform
and from the general spirit of these confessions. But they cannot have
any assurance, or confidence of this.
Is salvation possible for the Christians who separated
themselves from the bosoms of the Orthodox Church?
Members of the Orthodox Church who knew the True Faith and the
conditions of their salvation, but out of carelessness refused to take
advantage of them and finally denied this faith, they cannot be saved
unless they repent for their deeds and return into the bosom of the
How can the Christians who do not have the true faith be saved, and based on what law will they be judged at the last
Only the Christians who serve God with the true Faith will be saved
as the Holy Spirit says:
"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in
truth." (Ps. 145:18). About the people who did not believe in the true
God we cannot say that they are being saved because the Apostolos
(epistles of the Apostles) teaches us "One Lord, one faith and one
Baptism." (Eph. 4:5). And again: "Peace and mercy to all who follow
this rule." (Gal. 6.16). And elsewhere: "If anyone competes as an
athlete he does not receive the victory crown unless he
competes according to the rules." (2 Tim. 2, 5). As far as the criteria
for judgement, Saint Gregory of Nyssa tells us that people will be
judged by four different criteria: The idolaters according to the law
of their conscience (Rom 2, 14-15). The Jews according to the law of
Moses. (Rom 2, 12). The Christians according to the law of the gospel.
(John 12, 48-Rom 2, 16, James 2, 12).
In addition there is also a fourth criterion which concerns everyone.
This is the law of God's created beings, or the natural law as the Holy
Fathers call it, which God gave to man from the very beginning.
According to St. Isaac the Syrian, it is the contemplation of the
creations of God...
For this law Saint Gregory of Nyssa said: "The creation of God is like a
trumpet which calls out from heaven to all men that God is the Creator
and its Maker" This law will judge all people who did not want to
recognize the Creator of the world.
What is hate which is born in man's heart and how can someone
fight against it?
Hate, along with the other passions comes forth from the love of the
self, which is the root of all passions according to St. John of
Damascus and St. Isaac the Syrian. According to Saint Maximos the
Confessor, this love is the unnatural love of our body. Hate is the
mankiller (I John 3:15). It is allowed only against the devil and sin:
"You who love the Lord Hate evil. " (Ps. 97.-IO). "Hate evil and love
Good. " (Amos 5, 15).
Hate is also allowed against the unrighteous according to the word of
the Psalmist. "I hated injustice and I loved your law. " (Ps 119, 163),
(Rom. 12, 19). "Christians must hate to lie and every way of
injustice." (Ps 119, 163). "I hate the double-minded but I love your
Law (Ps 119:13). "Do I not hate them O Lord who hate you? And do I not
loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with perfect hatred I
count them my enemies. " (Ps 139, 21:22).
These passages are also aimed at clearing up a common misconception that
hatred is never an option and should not exist in the vocabulary of the pious
God-loving, peace-loving and mature Christian. But the Holy Romanian
Father Cleopa states that there is a form of hatred that is not only allowed,
but commendable in the life of the devout Christian. The type of hatred that
our Lord Jesus Christ refers to in the second chapter of the book of the
Revelation: "You hate the works of the Nicolaitans which I also hate." (Rev.
2:6). Naturally this "perfect hatred" is altogether unrelated to the mundane evil and sinful hate that's the work of the devil.
This "perfect hatred" of our Lord will shield our hearts from the
possibility of giving in to sin through coersing, compromising, the
need to be popular or simply peer pressure. The person who hates sin
leaves no room in his heart for any compromise in that area. He guards
his heart with this perfect hatred against the demons and their wicked
servants who are attempting to make him an enemy of God. By keeping
this blessed hatred in his heart against the passions of the sinful
nature, the world, and the devil he will ensure and safeguard his LOVE
for God. The child of God will hate and abhor anything that may suggest
his separation from the True Faith and consequently the Only
True God. This is the hate that our Lord commanded in His Gospel:
"Unless you hate your father, mother, husband, wife, children you are
not worthy of me."
How can the God of Love suggest hatred
towards members of our own family, especially since His 5th commandment
insists that we honor our parents? Quite simply the love and honor
towards our parents is relative, within bounds; when our parents or
spouse or our "Right eye" or "Right hand" are forcefully and
continually interfering with our absolute worship towards God to the
point where they are endangering our relationship with Him, then our
separation from them is the solution directly given to us by our Lord
Jesus Christ. Our Holy Ones, (Saints, martyrs, confessors) practiced
this blessed perfect hatred against sin, passions, heresies, and
generally all "the works that our Lord hates."
-This is the "perfect hatred" that pushed Saint Nicholas to slap Arius
for inventing the devil-inspired heresy that Christ was not without
beginning or not "one substance" with the Father.
-This is the "perfect hatred" that our martyrs, saints and confessors
used against ungodly human authority, idolatry and heresy.
-This is the "perfect hatred" that the modern western, marginal
Orthodox Christian priest or lay person does not understand, swayed by
the notion of false love, and the lack of understanding of this concept
is quite widespread among clergy and laity alike.
The results are quite
horrendous, when in the name of boundless love, false unions and
world peace we downplay doctrines, ignore church traditions and
overlook differences to make us more "comparable" to the other
Christian confessions. Let's not be deceived any longer! In matters of
truth there is no room for diplomacy or compromise! With this in mind, we would like some answers from the modern
Orthodox priests and theologians:
-If you believe that all religions save, then why are you seeking converts?
-If you believe that Christian denominations in general save, then why
are you so concerned about losing members to other churches, certainly
not because of the loss of dues!
-If you believe that Protestantism saves, then why must you bring
Orthodoxy to America?
-If you believe that all Christian confessions save, then where is the
crime of keeping Orthodoxy America's best kept secret?
My friends, these are questions that some diplomatic church teachers
cleverly avoid to answer publicly perhaps because they are themselves
unclear on these issues. We all must be careful not to expel the
"perfect hate" from our hearts thus falling victims to the superheresy
of ecumenism, not realizing that "perfect hatred" for falsehood
translates into "perfect love" for the Truth, the Christ!
"It is better to choose a commendable war than peace which separates from God."St. Gregory the Theologian
"Today, while the overall teachings of the Fathers is under attack and
the shipwrecks of Faith are numerous, the mouths of the faithful are
St. Basil the Great ep. 92
"If some pretend to confess the true Orthodox faith yet associate with
the non-Orthodox (spiritually) and after having been given the
necessary direction choose not to distance themselves from them, you
should not only refuse to associate with them but do not even call them
St. Basil the Great
"An obvious fall from faith and pride is to either subtract something
from what is written or to introduce something new to the unwritten."
St. Basil the Great
"Keep striving until the fire of heresy is put out, before it
consumes the church."
St. Basil the Great
"According to what we were taught by the Holy Fathers, this is what
we use to instruct those that have questions."
St. Basil the Great
"Just like the viper and the scorpion and the rest of the poisonous
animals change good nutrition into poison so in the same fashion,
heretics and the unethical alter the Good Words of the gospel into evil."St. Polycarp
"If a bishop or a priest, the very eyes of the church, turns his back on
the church thus scandalizing the faithful, it is necessary to dismiss
them. You will be better off to gather at a house to pray (without
them), than to be placed with them, like Annas and Caiaphas in the
Gehenna of fire."
St. Athanasios the Great
"If the discussion and the question proposed is about the Faith and the
traditions of our church, then even the most meek and quiet and peace loving person must fight and defend these matters."
St. Nikodemus the Hagiorite
In the event that a clergyman or layman would enter a Jewish or
heretical congregation for the purpose of prayer let him be defrocked and
45th Apostolic Canon
A bishop or a presbyter or a deacon having prayed with heretics (all non-
Orthodox) Only let him be excommunicated, and if he has allowed them to
participate as clergy at any service let him be defrocked.
65th Apostolic Canon
The Holy Canons do not use diplomacy and this is why our modernizing Christians would love to do away with them!"
"Even if very few remain true and adamant with the laws of Orthodoxy
and piety they are the church and the authority, and the protection of
the ecclesiastical divine mysteries belongs to them."
St. Nikephoros the Confessor
"Anyone who is capable of speaking the truth but remains silent, will
be heavily judged by God, especially in this case, where the faith and
the very foundation of the entire chuch of the Orthodox is in danger. To
remain silent under these circumstances is to betray these, and the
appropriate witness belongs to those that reproach (stand up for the
St Basil the Great
"Heretics will not enter the Kingdom of God because by denying one
or more truths of the gospel, they cut themselves off from the ONE,
HOLY, CATHOLIC, AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH. The history of the church has
witnessed a great number of heretics over the years. Today, such
heretics are the Papists and the Protestants with their hundreds of
denominations, such as, the Uniates, the Evangelicals, the
Pentecostals, the Baptists, Methodists, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists
and so many others which spring up constantly. In Greece there are more
than one hundred heresies looking to aquire one convert. Be careful my
fellow Christians from all of these. Have nothing to do with them even
if they happen to be your parents or brothers. The evangelist of love
says this, 'Do not say even good morning to them'."
Archimandrite Charalambos Basilopoulos
"It is of no use to live a 'clean life' while holding on to corrupt
doctrines, just like there would be no difference if your doctrinal
beliefs were 'healthy' but your life was corrupt."
St. John the Chrysostom
"Just as perverse dogma will usually give birth to an 'unclean
lifestyle', a corrupt and sinful lifestyle will give birth to perverse
dogma."St. John the Chrysostom
(Biography of Greek Fathers 36, 185)
"There is such a thing as a good separation. There is also such
a thing as a bad agreement, just like there can be a good
disagreement."St. John the Chrysostom (pgs. 53, 314)
"The way of Godliness consists of these two things: True (pious)
doctrines and good works. Without good works, true faith is not
acceptable to God, likewise, good works are not acceptable to Him in
the absence of True Faith (pious dogma)."
St. Cyril of Jerusalem
"With every way possible let us guard ourselves not to receive the
communion of heretics nor administer it to them... this way we will not
become participants of their falsehood and condemnation."
St. John of Damascus
"Even if someone donates all the money in the world to charity and he
happens to be in communion with a heresy he does not become a friend
of God but an enemy..."
St. Theodore the Confessor
"One person and the truth consist of the majority."
Abbot Sylvester the Hagiorite
"Let them burn your body, let them fry it, let them take your
property. Don't worry. Let them have these, they are not yours anyway.
You only have need of soul and Christ! These two, even if the entire
world happens to fall on you it cannot take these from you unless you
give them up on your own."
St. Kosmas the Aitolos
"Be joyful and cheerful because you have the blessing to be pious
Orthodox Christians. On the other hand, you must cry and mourn for
the impious, the godless, and the heretics who walk in darkness in the
hands of the devil."
St. Kosmas the Aitolos
"Outside of Orthodoxy there is no other confession which can lead
man to the fullness of the Christian life, to sanctification, to the
cleansing from sin or to eternity, because the other ones, the
non-Orthodox confessions, supress 'the truth in wickedness'(Rom. 1,
18). They confuse the truth with sophistries and lies and in this way
they don't maintain the means of Grace necessary for man's renewal.
These only belong to the Orthodox church the only 'Holy and Spotless'"
Saint John of Kronstadt
"Every work and voice which was not spoken by the holy fathers
proved to be an innovation."
St. Maximos the Confessor
"I believe this to be a matter of hate towards man and separation
from divine love when one attempts to give validity to a false faith
which will ultimately corrupt its followers even more."
St. Maximos the Confessor
"Orthodoxy is the only church and the only Truth. Her ecumenical
mission cannot be anything else but the complete confession of this
Truth. Western Christianity has been deluded by rationalism
(Orthologismos) and it has lost the very meaning and the possession of
the Divine Mystery, as well as, the full realization of Salvation. I
consider this extremely important to have this Truth heard today by
using all possible means, since the danger of slipping towards theories
of relativism is great, even among the ranks of Orthodox theologians."
Father Dumitru Staniloae
"It is for that reason that I say (teach) nothing of what is mine. I briefly
express the thoughts and words passed down by Godly and wise men."
St. John of Damascus
"The faith which I was taught by the Holy Fathers which I taught
at all times without adjusting according to the times, this faith I will
never stop teaching; I was born with it and I live by it."
St. Gregory the Theologian
"The fact that the spiritual accomplishments of the past do not seem to
be appreciated always but on the contrary they are looked upon with
some contempt by some contemporary 'orthodox' theologians, this
does not bring forth a favorable witness about their dogmatic
consciense nor does it give the feeling that tradition is alive in them;
especially since these theologians are eager to betray their Fathers."
"The purity of heretics is worse than all debauchery .. how can a
virgin, having rebelled against the true Faith, now pay attention to
the deluded, believing the demons and honoring lies?"
St. John the Chrysostom
"Him who believes falsely you must not trust, but him who 'does not
live right' but believes properly you may (trust) listen to...because he
who lives badly will not advise others to live like him ... but he who
has false and crooked beliefs will teach these to all people."
"Keep an eye on your bishops as far as their Orthodoxy is concerned
lest they go so far as to teach doctrines against the true faith or
celebrate with heretics or schismatics. As far as other things, they act
out of ignorance or because the days are evil..and they will give an
account to God only."
Saint Gennadios Scholarios
"If someone believes evil about the faith (heretically)..flee from
him and have nothing to do with him not only if he is a man but even if
he happens to be an angel from heaven. However, do not critique a
person's lifestyle because, 'Do not judge so you will not be judged,'
applies to all matters of the lifestyle and not in the matters of the
Holy Father Chrysostom
The Holy Spirit, the comforter, who is always in the church is speaking
through the golden mouth of our church the Chrysostom. The Holy Father
sheds a great deal of light on many of our Christians who are not clear
in the area of "judgementalism". They often ask, "Isn't it judgemental
to speak in an apologetic fashion, exposing the false beliefs of
another Christian, a priest, a bishop, a non-Orthodox, Protestant or
Roman Catholic?" Saint John the Chrysostom plainly says to flee and
have nothing to do with someone who could possibly affect us
spiritually. Christ, the Good Shepherd has placed bishops, priests,
deacons and theologians to guard His Flock which He bought with His
blood. Unfortunately not a few of today's flock watchers have changed
into wolves dressed in sheep's clothing. They invite members of the
flock to open the gates of the sheep pen assuming that there can be no
harm in that. We often hear of inter-faith services, ecumenical
services, inter-denominational prayers. All these will bring upon these
shepherds the wrath of God, who warns us through Ezekiel 33: 6-9. This
condemnation will also hold true for all of us who make no effort to
wake up our deluded brothers, letting them believe that they can be
saved regardless of their doctrinal beliefs. The Holy Spirit talks
through the Prophet: "And you, Son of man I have made you a
watchman for the house of Israel and you will hear a word from me. If I
say to the sinful man, you shall surely die and you do not call out
to warn the impious to turn from his evil way, this sinner will die in
his sin but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the
impious to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way he shall
die in his iniquity but you will have saved your soul!"
Indeed, it is a great crime to keep Orthodoxy America's greatest secret
and everyone will be held liable especially our shepherds. We implore
our brothers and sisters in Christ to understand that theosis does not
take place in the absence of true faith. Holiness is a must and it can
only be realized in the Orthodox church, the genuine continuation of
the church established by Christ and His Apostles. So, being true to
the spirit of the Apostles and the Fathers we are not judging the
heterodox - we are warning them, calling out to them - this being the
correct approach, and the expression of true love. It is not judgmental
to expose and contradict all unorthodox teachings in the spirit of love
for the truth, because all false teachings are devils seedlings which
can turn people into "weeds". Mathew 13:25. Judging according to Saint
Chrysostom is to expose the personal weaknesses, sins, idiosyncrasies
and imperfections of our neighbor in the style of the Pharisee and the
Tax Collector in an attempt to elevate ourselves.
Again we quote some Apostolic "judgementalism"
(truth in love).
"Avoid Godless chatter because those who indulge in it will become
more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene.
(part of the answer to the question why some heretical denominations
are flourishing and spreading much faster than the truth) Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus who have wandered away
from the truth. They say that the resurrection has taken place and they
destroy the faith of some."
2 Tim 2:6-8.
"You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me
including Phygetus and Hermogenes."
2 Tim 1: 15.
"If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound
instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to Godly teaching he is conceited and understands nothing."
I Tim 6:3.
Let this be a warning for the Orthodox brothers and sisters who are
infatuated by the sensationalism of the pseudo-pentecostals. Their
teachings have spread like gangrene victimizing a great deal of
Orthodox laity and clergy alike. Their strange tongues are not
something specific to their appearance a few decades ago. These
"peculiar tongues" were taught to them by the demons, (I Tim 4:1) and
have nothing in common with the genuine languages that our Apostles
spoke in the Holy Spirit. About five hundred years before the
appearance of the pseudo-pentecostals, St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop
of Thessalonica, claims: "This is why those that speak strange
tongues from the energy of the demons are outside of themselves,
at that point not understanding a thing of what they are saying." (Gerontikon of Mount Athos Vol. 11).
The truth and the reality of things is exactly what St. Gregory Palamas
is talking about, that these tongues are an inspiration of the demons,
in their attempt to blaspheme God. The demons tremble at the thought of
cursing God directly so they achieve this through their unsuspecting
victims the "pseudo-charismatics". These poor people actually believe
that they are full 'of the spirit' but in reality they are babbling all
kinds of blasphemous words against their creator. To add insult to
injury the devil has cunningly spread a vicious rumor amongst them that
it is very safe to speak and pray in tongues because "the devil cannot
understand tongues". The truth according to St. Gregory Palamas is that
the devil not only can understand tongues, but he has invented them! A
small hairline crack at the side of the dam will not be reason for
concern to the ignorant bystander but it will be the cause of great
fear and alarm for the engineers fully aware that this crack will soon
increase, eventually bringing about massive destructions to its
surroundings. The devil works in the same way by introducing some small
cracks in the ark of salvation of the Church.
"I reminded you many times about the atheist heretics
(non-Orthodox), and now I implore you not to compromise with them on
anything, do not eat or drink with them in the name of friendship,
better relations, love or peace, because he who is swayed and
compromises with them renders him self-foreign to the Catholic
St. John the Chrysostom
"Be aware not to be corrupted from love of the heretics; for this
reason do not accept any false belief (dogma) in the name of love."
St. John the Chrysostom
"Even if the heretics are many in numbers, they are still found "outside
of the Holy Gardens" of the church. Even if very few stay true to
Orthodoxy and Godliness, they are the church of Christ."
St. Nikephoros the Confessor
"Members of the Orthodox church are all and only those of the
faithful that believe and do not doubt the flawless Faith of Christ the
Saviour and all that was passed down, preached and interpreted by
Christ, the Apostles and the Holy Ecumenical Synods."
"Nor life without true faith nor this faith without holy works can
St. Theodore the Studite
"...do not have a single thing to do with schismatics and absolutely
nothing with heretics ... As you know I myself have avoided them due to
their Christ hating and heterodox heresy."
St. Anthony the Great
"All the great teachers of the church, all the Synods, all the divine
Scriptures prescribe the fleeing from the heterodox (heretics) and to
stand afar from their association (communion)."
St. Mark Evgenikos
"The fight against heresies represents the highest expression of love for
the heretics while the tolerance and the amnesty for heresy is a cruel
form of love and overmasked hate. In the realm of false ecumenism
(branch theory) lurks the worse case of 'man hatefulness'. Thus, it is
not without significance that St. Maximos the Confessor issued a
statement condemning the tolerance of heretics. 'I define this to be
cruelty towards mankind and absence of divine love to attempt to give
authority to a false faith aiding even more the destruction of those
that are adhering to it'."
Archimandrite Spiridon Bilalis
The Announcement of the Joint Conference of the Abbots of
The extraordinary Joint Conference of the Sacred Community on
Mount Athos, April 9-22, 1980, noting that the issue of the relations of
our holy orthodox Church with the heterodox has assumed a serious
and resolute character, especially as it relates to the dialogue with
Roman Catholics, has resolved publicly to state the opinion of the
Athonite fathers on this subject for general consideration:
1 . We believe that our holy Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic
and Apostolic Church of Christ, which possesses the fullness of grace
and truth and, in consequence thereof, unbroken apostolic succession.
On the contrary, the "churches" and "confessions" of the West, having
in many ways perverted the Faith of the Gospel, the apostles and the
fathers, are deprived of sanctifying grace, of real mysteries and
apostolic succession. That this is correct, His Eminence, Metropolitan
Maximos of Stavropolis stresses: "Orthodoxy is not one of the churches,
but The Church herself. She has preserved precisely and authentically
the teaching of Christ in its pristine splendor and in all its purity.
Over and above a simple, unbroken historical continuity and consistency
there exists in her a spiritual and ontological authenticity. The same
Faith, the same Spirit, the same life. It is this which constitutes the
distinguishing feature of Orthodoxy and which justifies her claim that
she is and remains The Church" (Episkepsis, #227, March 15, 1980).
2. Dialogue with the heterodox is not reprehensible from the Orthodox
point of view if its goal is to inform them of the Orthodox Faith and,
thus, make it possible for them thereby to return to Orthodoxy when
they receive divine enlightenment and their eyes are opened.
3. Theological dialogue must not in any way be linked with prayer in
common, or by joint participation in any liturgical or worship services
whatsoever; or in other activities which might create impression that
our Orthodox Church accepts, on the one hand, Roman Cahtolics as part
of the fullness of the Church, or, on the other hand, the Pope as the
canonical bishop of Rome. Activities such as these mislead both the
fullnes of the Orthodox people and the Roman Catholics themselves,
fostering among them a mistaken notion as to what Orthodoxy thinks of
The Holy Mountain is grievously disturbed by the tendencies of certain
Orthodox hierarchs who have been invited to participate in Roman
Catholic services, celebrations and processions, especially on the
occasion of the return of holy relics. Conversely, we congratulate
those hierarchs who have publicly expressed their alarm for the
fullness of Orthodoxy.
4. We express our complete approval of what His All-Holiness, the
Ecumenical Patriarch said during the visit of the Pope to
Constantinople, namely that there exist various impediments between
Orthodox and Roman Catholics: "First of all, we have serious
theological problems which concern fundamental principles of the
Christian faith" (Episkepsis, #22 1, Dec. 1, 1979, p. 17). These
divergences in the principles of Christian faith requires that we do
not advance to participation in common liturgies and worship services
before oneness of faith is attained. The mystical character of the kiss
of peace during the divine Eucharist always presupposes harmony of
faith: "Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess..."
We cannot pray together, especially during the Divine Liturgy, when we
do not believe in the same faith and are separated by fundamental
questions of faith. Only an indifference to the faith could permit us
to do so. Moreover, the Holy Mountain cannot accept the opinion,
expressed in the joint statement of the Patriarch and the Pope,
concerning the "cleansing of the historical memory of our Churches" and
the partial opening, by means of a dialogue of love, of the road
towards "new movements in theological work and a new attitude to the
past which is common to both Churches" (Episkepsis, ibid., p. 19).
Actually, the heretics must cleanse their own historical memory of all
their own historically acknowledged deviations in faith and practice
from the true, evangelical Orthodox Faith. On the contrary, the
historical memory of the Orthodox, which is based on the inspiration of
the Holy Spirit and on the constant experience of the apostolic faith
of the God-bearing Fathers, must be lived by all of us in repentance
and humility, and must instruct us both in the present and in the
future life if we do not wish to fall from that faith. As Orthodox, we
must cleanse ourselves by means of the historical memory of the Church,
but not "cleanse" her with an egotistical and anthropocentric spirit,
setting ourselves up as judges of the Tradition of the Church.
5. The Holy Mountain is convinced, not without great anxiety, that
although the Orthodox are making many concessions and compromises to
the Roman Catholics, the latter antithetically continue to adhere to
their own errors which have served as the cause of their schism from
the Orthodox Church and later led to the Protestant split. Thus, the
Pope during his visit to the center of Orthodoxy in the patriarchal
cathedral, did not in the least hesitate to proclaim that he was coming
to Constantinople as the successor of Peter, "who as the ultimate
authority has the responsibility of superintending the unity of all, to
guarantee the agreement of the Church of God in fidelity and in the
'faith which was once delivered unto the saints' (Jude 3)" (Episkepsis,
ibid., p. 9). In other words, the Pope defended (papal) infallibility
and primacy; and there are many other actions and manifestations which
the Pope has effected on behalf of uniatism. We remember the
establishment of diplomatic relations between the Greek government and
the Vatican which, even though it may justify papism, is unjust and
strikes out at the Mother and Nourisher of our (Greek) nation, the
6. The Holy Mountain also expresses its anxiety over the constituency
of the commission for the dialogue. Uniates comprise a portion of the
Roman Catholic delegation, a fact which is a provocation for the
Orthodox. The sensibilities and dignity of the Orthodox delegation
demand the immediate substitution of others in place of the uniates in
the membership. No Orthodox whose manner of thinking corresponds to
this faith can agree to participate in a commission which includes
uniates. Likewise, the Holy Mountain is disturbed by the great weakness
and insufficiency of the Orthodox delegation. The most remarkable
Orthodox theologians are not participating. The Holy Mountain is also
not represented, despite the fact that it is the sole monastic center
which preserves the faith and the theology of the Fathers, and which is
far removed from the influence of secularism and scholastic Western
7. From the Orthodox point of view there is no justification for
optimism in regard to the dialogue, and for this reason no haste should
be exhibited concerning it. The Roman Catholics are pressing the
dialogue, hoping to strengthen themselves by annexing Orthodoxy to
themselves, for they are confronted by very powerful internal
disturbances and crises, as is well known. The number of former Roman
Catholics who have converted to Orthodoxy also disturbs them. But
Orthodoxy has no reason to hasten towards dialogue since the papists
remain so obdurate and immovable as regards infallibility, uniatism,
and the rest of their pernicious teachings.
Hastening the dialogue under such conditions is equivalent to spiritual
suicide for the Orthodox. Many facts give the impression that the
Roman Catholics are preparing a union on the pattern of a unia. Can it
be that the Orthodox who are hastening to the dialogue are conscious
The Holy Mountain maintains that for it there can be no question of
accepting a fait accompli
, that, by the grace of God, it will remain
faithful, as the Lord's Orthodox people, to the faith of the holy apostles
and the holy Fathers, impelled to this also by love for the heterodox, to
whom real help is given only when the Orthodox show them the
vastness of their spiritual sickness and the means of its cure by maintaining a consistently Orthodox position.
The unsuccessful attempts in the past with regard to union must teach
us that steadfast unity in the truth of the Church, in accordance with
the will of God, presupposes a different preparation and a path
distinct from that taken in the past and from that which, apparently,
is now being taken.
All of the superiors and representatives of the twenty sacred and
pious monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos at the Extraordinary
Letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople from the Sacred
Community of Mount Athos
December 8, 1993
Translated from the Greek by George Gabriel
To His Most Divine All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch,
our Father and Master, Lord Lord Bartholomew,
Most Holy Father and Master:
The union of the Churches or, to be precise, the union of the heterodox
with our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Orthodox Chruch is
desirable to us also so that the Lord's prayer may be
fulfilled......"that they may be one" (Jn. 17:21). At any rate, we
understand and await according to the Orthodox interpretation. As
Professor Fr. John Romanides reminds us, "Christ prays here that His
disciples and their disciples may, in this life, become one in the
vision of His glory (which He has by nature from the Father) when they
become members of His Body, the Church..."
For this reason, whenever heterodox Christians visit us, to whom we
extend love and hospitality in Christ, we are painfully aware that we
stand apart in faith and, because of this, we are not able to have
Schism, the division between the Orthodox and the Non-Chalcedonians
first and between the Orthodox and Westerners later, truly amounts to a
tragedy about which we must not become silent or complacent.
In this context, therefore, we appreciate efforts made with fear of God
and in accordance with Orthodox Tradition that look to a union that
cannot take place through the silencing or minimizing of Orthodox
doctrines of the heterodox, because it would not be accepted by the
Church or blessed by God, because, according to the patristic saying,
"A good thing is not good if it is not achieved in a good way."
On the contrary, it would bring about new schisms and new divisions
and miseries to the already (dis)united body of Orthodoxy. At this
point, we would like to say that in the face of great changes taking
place in lands that have an Orthodox presence, and before so many
kinds of unstable conditions on a worldwide scale, the One, Holy,
Catholic, and Apostolic, in other words Orthodox, Church should have
strengthened the cohesion of the local Churches and given herself
over to the care of her terror-stricken members and to their spiritual
stabilization, on the one hand, and in her consciousness (as the One
Holy Church), on the other, she should have sounded the trumpet of
her unique redemptive power and grace and manifested it before
In this spirit, to the extent that our monastic office permits us, we
closely follow developments in the so-called ecumenical movements and
dialogues. We note that at times the word of Truth is rightly divided
and, at times, compromises and concessions are made regarding
fundamental matters of the Faith.
1. Thus, actions and declarations which representatives of Orthodox
Churches have engaged in, that were unheard of until today and are
altogether contrary to our holy Faith, have caused us deep sorrow. We
shall cite first the case of His Beatitude (Parthenios), the Patriarch
of Alexandria, who, on at least two occasions, has stated that we
Christians ought to recognize Mohammed as a prophet. To this day,
however, no one has called for him to step down, and this dreadfully
heedless Patriarch continues to preside in the Church of Alexandria as
if there were nothing wrong.
Second, we cite the case of the Patriarchate of Antioch, which without
a Pan-Orthodox decision, has proceeded to ecclesiastical communion with
the Non-Chatcedonians (Monophysites). This was done despite the fact
that a most serious issue had not yet been resolved. It is the latter's
non-acceptance of the Ecumenical Councils after the Third and, in
particular, the Fourth, the Council of Chalcedon, which in fact
constitutes an immovable basis of Orthodoxy. Unfortunately, in this
case too, we have not seen a single protest by the Orthodox Churches.
The gravest matter, however, is the unacceptable change in the position
of the Orthodox that arises from the joint statement at the June, 1993
Balamand Conference of the mixed commission for the dialogue between
Roman Catholics and Orthodox. It adopted anti-Orthodox positions, and
it is mainly to this that we call the attention of Your All Holiness.
First, we must confess that the statements which Your All Holiness has
made from time to time that the Uniate movement is an insurmountable
obstacle to the continuation of the dialogue between Orthodox and Roman
Catholics used to put us at ease.
But the above document (of Balamand) gives the impression that your
statements are being side-stepped. Furthermore, Unia is receiving
amnesty and is invited to the table of theological dialogue despite the
contrary decision of the Third Pan-Orthodox Conference in Rhodes
requiring: "the complete withdrawal from Orthodox lands by the Uniate
agents and propagandists of the Vatican; the incorporation of the
so-called Uniate Churches and their subjection under the Church of Rome
before the inauguration of th dialogue, because Unia and dialogue at
the same time are irreconcilable."
2. Your All Holiness, the greatest scandal, however, is caused by
the ecclesiological positions in the document. We shall refer here to
fundamental deviations only.
In Paragraph 10 we read: "The Catholic Church... (which conducted
missionary work against the Orthodox and) presented herself as the only
one to whom salvation was entrusted. As a reaction, the Orthodox
Church, in turn, came to accept the same vision according to which only
in her could salvation of "the separated brethren" it even happened
that Christians were rebaptized and that certain requirements of the
religious freedom of persons and of their act of faith were forgotten.
This perspective was one to which that period showed little
As Orthodox, we cannot accept this point of view. It was not as a
reaction against Unia that our Holy Orthodox Church began to believe
that she exclusively possessed salvation, but believed it before Unia
existed, from the time of the Schism, which took place for reasons of
dogma. The Orthodox Church did not await the coming of Unia in order to
acquire the consciousness that she is the unadulterated continuation of
the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ, because she
has always had this self-awareness just as she
had the awareness that the Papacy was in heresy. If she did not use the
term heresy frequently, it was because, according to St. Mark of
Ephesus, "The Latins are not only schismatics but heretics as well.
However, the Church was silent on this because their race is large and
more powerful than ours...and we wished not to fall into triumphalism
over the Latins as heretics but to be accepting of their return and to
But when the Uniates and the agents of Rome were let loose on us in
the East in order to proselytize the suffering Orthodox by mainly
unlawful means, as they do even today, Orthodoxy was obliged to
declare that truth, not for purposes of proselytism but in order to
protect the flock.
St. Photius repeatedly characterizes the Filioque as a heresy, and its
believers as cacodox.
St. Gregory Palamas says of the Westerner Barlaam, that when he came to
Orthodoxy, "He did not accept sanctifying water from our church ... to
wipe away (his) stains from the West." St. Gregory obviously considers
him a heretic in need of sanctifying grace in order to come into the
The statement in the paragraph in question unjustly heaps
responsibility on the Orthodox Church in order to lessen the
responsibilities of the Papists. When did the Orthodox trample upon the
religious freedom of the Uniates and Roman Catholics by baptizing them
against their will? And if there were some exceptions, the Orthodox who
signed the Balamand document forgot that those who were re-baptized
against their wishes were descendants of the Orthodox who were forcibly
made Uniates, as occured in Poland, Ukraine, and Moldavia. (See
In paragraph 13 we read: "In fact, especially since the Pan-Orthodox
Conferences began and since the Second Vatican Council, the rediscovery
and the giving of proper value to the Church as communion, both on the
part of Orthodox and of Catholics, has radically altered perpectives
and thus attitudes. On each side it is recognized that what Christ has
entrusted to his Church-profession of apostolic faith, participation in
the same sacraments, above all the one priesthood celebrating the one
sacrifice of Christ, the apostolic succession of bishops cannot be the
exclusive property of one of our Churches. In this context, it is clear
that every form of rebaptism must be avoided."
The new discovery of the Church as communion by Roman Catholics
has, of course, some significance for them who had no way out of the
dilemma of their totalitarian ecclesiology and, therefore, had to turn
their system of thought to the communal character of the Church.
Thus, alongside the one extreme of totalitarianism, they place the other
of collegiality, always motivated on the same man-centered level. The
Orthodox Church, however, has always had the consciousness that she
is not a simple communion but a theanthropic communion or a
"communion of theosis [deification]," as St. Gregory Palamas says in
his homily on the procession of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the
communion of theosis is not only unknown in but also irreconcilable
with Roman Catholic theology, which rejects [the doctrine of] the
uncreated energies of God that form and sustain this communion.
Given these truths, it was with deepest sadness that we confirmed that
this paragraph (13) makes the Orthodox Church equal to the Roman
Catholic Church which abides in cacodoxy.
Serious theological differences, such as the Filioque, Papal primacy and
infallibility, created grace, etc., are receiving amnesty, and a union is being
forged without agreement in dogma.
Thus are verified the premonitions that the union designed by the
Vatican, in which, as St. Mark of Ephesus said, "the willing are
unwittingly being manipulated," (i.e. the Orthodox, who also live under
hostile circumstances ethnically and politically today and are captive
to nations of other religions), is pushed to take place without
agreement regarding doctrinal differences, through the mutual
recognition of the mysteries and apostolic succession of each Church,
and the application of intercommunion, limited at first and broader
later. After this, doctrinal differences can only be discussed as
But once union takes place, what sense is there in discussing
theological differences? Rome knows that the Orthodox will never accept
her alien teachings. Experience has proven this in the various attempts
at union up to the present. Therefore, despite the differences, Rome is
crafting a union and hoping, from a humanistic point of view (as her
perspective always is), that, as the more powerful factor, in time she
will absorb the weaker one, which is, Orthodoxy. Fr. John Romanides
presaged this in his article "The Uniate Movement and Popular
Ecumenism"' in The Orthodox Witness
, Feb. 1966.
Do the Filioque, [Papal] primacy and infallibility, purgatory, the
immaculate conception, and created grace constitute an apostolic
confession? Despite all of this, is it possible for us as Orthodox to
recognize as apostolic
the faith and confession of the Roman Catholics?
Do these serious theological deviations of Rome amount to heresies or
If they are, as they have been described by Orthodox Councils and
Fathers, do they not result in the invalidity of the mysteries and the
apostolic succession of heterodox and cacodox of this kind?
Is it possible for the fullness of grace to exist where there is not the
fullness of truth?
Is it possible to distinguish Christ of the truth from Christ of the
mysteries and apostolic succession?
Apostolic succession was first set forth by the Church as a historic
confirmation of the continuous preservation of her truth. But when the
truth itself is distorted, what meaning can a formalistic preservation
of apostolic succession have? Did not the great heresiarchs often
have this kind of external succession? How can it be possible for them
to also be regarded as bearers of grace?
And how is it possible for two Churches to be considered "Sister
Churches" not because of their pre-Schism common descent but because of
their so-called common confession, sanctifying grace, and priesthood despite their great differences in dogmas?
Who among the Orthodox can accept as the true successor to the
Apostles the infallible one, the one with the primacy of authority to
rule over the entire Church and to be the religious and secular leader of
the Vatican State?
Would this not be a denial of Apostolic Faith and
Or are the signers of this document unaware that many Roman Catholics
today groan under the foot of the Pope (and his scholastic,
man-centered ecelesiological system) and desire to come into Orthodoxy?
How can these people who are tormented spiritually and desire holy
Baptism not be received into Orthodoxy because the same grace is
supposedly both here and there? Ought we not, at that point, respect
their religious freedom, as the Balamand declaration demands in another
circumstance, and grant them Orthodox Baptism? What defense shall we
present to the Lord if we withhold the fullness of grace from them who,
after years of agony and personal searching, desire the holy Baptism of
our One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?
Paragraph 14 of the document quoted Pope John-Paul II, "The ecumenical
endeavor of the Sister Churches of East and West, grounded in dialogue
and prayer, is the search for perfect and total communion which is
neither absorption nor fusion but a meeting in truth and love."
But how is a union in the truth possible when differences in dogmas are
sidestepped and both Churches are described as sisters despite the
The Truth of the Church is indivisible because it is Christ
Himself. But when there are differences in dogmas there cannot
be unity in Christ.
From what we know about Church History, Churches were called
Sister Churches when they held the same faith. Never was the
Orhtodox Church called a sister of any heterodox churches, regardless of the degree of heterodoxy or cacodoxy they held.
We ask ourselves a basic question: have religious syncretism and
doctrinal minimalism-the byproducts of secularization and humanism-perhaps influenced the Orthodox signers of the document?
It is apparent that the document adopts, perhaps for the first time by
the Orthodox side, the position that two Churches, the Orthodox and
Roman Catholic, together constitute the One Holy Church or are two
legitimate expressions of her.
Unfortunately, it is the first time that Orthodox have officially accepted
a form of the branch theory.
Permit us to express our deep sorrow over this in as much as this
theory comes into screaming conflict with Orthodox Tradition and
Consciousness up to now.
We have many witnesses to the Orthodox Consciousness that our
Church alone constitutes the One Holy Church, and they are recognized as pan-Orthodox in authority. They are the:
1. Council of Constantinople, 1722;
2. Council of Constantinople, 1727;
3. Council of Constantinople, 1838;
4. 1848 Encyclical of the Four Patriarchs of the East and their
5. Council of Constantinople, 1895.
These decreed that only our Holy Orthodox Church constitutes the One
The 1895 Council of Constantinople summarizes all of the preceding
Councils: "Orthodoxy, that is, the Eastern Church, justly boasts in
Christ that she is the Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the
first nine centuries of Christianity and is therefore the One, Holy,
Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ, the 'pillar and bulwark of
truth.' And the present Roman Church is the church of innovationism and
adulteration of the writings of the Church Fathers and the distortion
of the Holy Scriptures and the decrees of the Holy Councils. Justly and
for good reason it was denounced and is denounced as long as it
persists in its delusion. 'Better a praiseworthy war,' says St. Gregory
of Nazianzus, 'than a peace separated from God'."
Representatives of the Orthodox Churches declared the same things at
the World Council of Churches conferences. Among them were
distinguished Orthodox theologians, such as Fr. George Florovsky.
Thus, at the Conference of Lund in 1952, was declared:
"We came here not to judge other Churches but to help them see the
truth, to enlighten their thought in a brotherly manner, informing them
of the teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, that
is to say, the Greek Orthodox Church, which is unaltered from the
At Evanston in 1954:
"In conclusion, we are obliged to declare our deep conviction that the
Holy Orthodox Church alone has preserved the faith once delivered
unto the saints' in all of its fullness and purity. And this is not because
of any human merit of ours but because God is pleased to preserve His
treasure in earthen vessels..."
And at New Delhi in 1961:
"Unity has been broken and it is necessary that it be won anew. For the
Orthodox Church is not a Confession, not one of the many or one
among the many. For the Orthodox, the Orthodox Church is the
Church. The Orthodox Church has the perception and consciousness
that her inner structure and teaching coincide with the apostolic
kerygma and the tradition of the ancient, undivided Church. The
Orthodox Church exists in the unbroken and continuous succession of
the sacramental ministry, of the sacramental life, and of the faith. The
apostolic succession of the episcopal office and the sacramental
ministry, for the Orthodox, is truly a component of the essence and, for
this reason, a necessary element in the existence of the whole Church.
In accordance with her inner conviction and an awareness of the
circumstances, the Orthodox Church occupies a special and
extraordinary position in the ancient, undivided Church, from which
the present Christian denominations originate by way of reduction and
We could also set forth here the testimonies of the most distinguished
and widely acknowledged Orthodox theologians. We shall limit ourselves
to one, the late Fr. Demetrius Staniloae, a theologian distinguished
not only for his wisdom but for the breadth and Orthodox mind set of
his ecumenical perspective.
In many places of his noteworthy book, Towards an Orthodox
, he refers to themes that are relevant to the joint statement (being discussed here) and bears Orthodox witness. Through it,
therefore, the disagreement between the positions taken in the document and the Orthodox faith shall be shown:
"Without unity of faith and without communion in the same Body and
Blood of the Incarnate Word, such a Church could not exist, nor could a
Church exist in the meaning of the word."
"In the case of one who is entering into full communion of faith with
the members of the Orthodox Church and is becoming a member, economia
(dispensation) is understood to give validity to a mystery previously
performed outside of the Church."
"In the Roman Catholic view, the Church is not so much a spiritual
organism that is headed by Christ as it is a nomocanonical organization
which, even in the best of circumstances, lives not in the divine but
in the supernatural level of created grace."
"In the preservation of this unity, an indispensable role is played by the
unity of faith because the latter wholly bonds the members with Christ
and with one another."
"Those who confess not a whole and integral Christ but only certain
parts of Him cannot achieve a complete communion either with the
Church or with one another."
"How is it possible for the Catholics to unite with the Orthodox in a
common eucharist when they believe that unity is derived more from
the Pope than from the Holy Eucharist? Can love for the world spring
forth from the Pope, that is, the love which springs from the Christ of
the Holy Eucharist?"
"There is growing recognition of the fact that Orthodoxy, as the
complete body of Christ, reaches out in a concrete way to take in the
parts that were separated."
It is self-evident that two complete bodies of Christ cannot exist.
Your All Holiness, one has to wonder why the Orthodox proceed to
make these concessions while the Roman Catholics not only persist in
but reinforce their pope-centered ecclesiology.
It is a fact that the Second Vatican Council (1963) not only neglected
to minimize the primacy and infallibility (of the Pope), indeed, it
magnified these. According to the late Professor John Karmiris,
"Despite the fact that the Second Vatican Council covered over the
familiar Latin claims about the Papacy's monarchical absolute rule with
the mantle of the collegiality of the bishops, not only were those
claims not diminished; on the contrary, they were reinforced by this
Council. The present Pope (John XXIII) does not hesitate to promote
them, even at inopportune times, with much emphasis."
And the Pope's Encyclical,"To the Bishops of the Catholic Church"
(May 28,1992), recognizes only Rome as the "catholic" church and the
Pope as the only "catholic" bishop. The church of Rome and her
bishop compose the "essence" of all other churches. Moreover, every
local church and her bishop simply constitute expressions of the direct
"presence" and "authority" of the bishop of Rome and his church, which determines from within every local church's ecclesial
According to this papal document, since the Orthodox Churches refuse
to submit to the Pope, they do not bear the character of the Church at
all and are simply viewed as "partial churches" (Verdienen der titel
The same ecclesiology is expressed in The Ecumenical Guide (a guide
for the application of principles and agenda regarding ecumenism) of
the Roman Catholic Church, presented by Cardinal Cassidy to the
meeting of Roman Catholic bishops (May 10-15, 1993, one month
before Balamand), with non-Catholics and indeed Orthodox in attendance.
The Ecumenical Guide
stresses that Roman Catholics "maintain the
firm conviction that the singular Church of Christ subsists in the
Catholic Church, which is ruled by the successor to Peter and by
bishops who are in communion with him," in as much as the "College
of Bishops has as its head the Bishop of Rome, the successor to Peter."
In the same document, many nice sounding things are said about the need
to develop an ecumenical dialogue and ecumenical education obviously to
muddy the waters and draw away naive Orthodox by that effective,
Vatican-designed method of Unity, i.e. of submission to Rome.
The method, according to The Ecumenical Guide
is the following:
"The criteria that were established for ecumenical collaboration, on
the one hand, are mutual recognition of baptism and the placement of
the common symbols of faith in empirical liturgical life; and on the
other hand, are collaboration in ecumenical education, joint prayer,
and pastoral cooperation in order that we may be moved from conflict to
coexistence, from coexistence to collaboration, from collaboration to
sharing, from sharing to communion."
Such documents, however, that are full of hypocrisy are generally
received as positive by the Orthodox.
We are saddened to ascertain that the joint declaration is founded upon
the Roman Catholic reasoning above. Because of these recent
developments under such terms, however, we begin to ask ourselves if
those who claim that the various dialogues are detrimental to Orthodoxy might be justified after all.
Most Holy Father and Despota, in human terms, by means of that joint
declaration, Roman Catholics have succeeded in gaining from certain
Orthodox recognition as the legitimate continuation of the One Holy
Church with the fullness of Truth, Grace, Priesthood, Mysteries, and
But that success is to their own detriment because it removes from
them the possibilty of acknowledging and repenting of their grave
ecclesiology and doctrinal illness. For this reason, the concessions by
Orthodox are not philanthropic. They are not for the good of either the
Roman Catholics or the Orthodox. They jump from "the hope of the
Gospel" (Col. 1:23) of Christ, the only God-Man, to the Pope, the man-god and idol of western humanism.
For the sake of the Roman Catholics and the whole world, whose only
hope is unadulterated Orthodoxy, we are obliged never to accept
union or the description of the Roman Catholic Church as a "Sister
Church," or the Pope as the canonical bishop of Rome, or the "Church"
of Rome as having canonical Apostolic Succession, Priesthood, and
Mysteries without their (the 'Papists') expressly stated renunciation of
the Filioque, the infallibility and primacy of the Pope, created grace,
and the rest of their cacodoxies. For we shall never regard these as
unimportant differences or mere theological opinions but as differences
that irrevocably debase the theanthropic character of the Church and
The following decisions of Vatican II are typical:
"The Roman Pontiff, the successor to Peter, is the permanent and
visible source and foundation of the unity of the bishops and of the
multitude of the faithful."
"This religious submission of the will and mind must be manifested in a
special way before the authentic teaching authority of the Roman
Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra
"The Roman Pontiff, the head of college of bishops, by virtue of his
office, possesses infallibility when, strengthening his brethren (Lk.
23:32) as the shepherd and highest teacher of all the faithful, he
declares a teaching through an act of definition regarding faith or
morals. For this reason it is justly said that the decrees of the Pope
are irreversible in nature and not subject to dispensation by the
Church in as much as they were pronounced with the collaboration of the
Holy Spirit...consequently, the decrees of the Pope are subject to no
other approval, to no other appeal, to no other judgement. For the
Roman Pontiff does not express his opinion as a private person but as
the highest teacher of the universal Church, upon whom personally rests
the gift of the infallibility of the very Church herself and who sets
forth and protects the teaching of the Catholic Faith.
"In the course of his responsibility as the vicar of Christ and shepherd
of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has the fullest, highest, and
universal authority in the Church, which he is always empowered to
exercise freely. There cannot exist an Ecumenical Council if it is not
validated or at least accepted by the successor to Peter. The
convocation, presidency, and approval of the decisions of the Councils are the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff."
Do all of these teachings, Your All Holiness, not fall upon Orthodox
ears as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and against the Divine
Builder of the Church, Jesus Christ, the only eternal and infallible
Head of the Church from Whom alone springs forth the unity of the
Church? Do these not utterly contradict the Gospel-centered and God-
Man centered Orthodox Ecclesiology inspired by the Holy Spirit? Do
they not subordinate the God-Man to man?
How can we make such concessions or co-exist with such a
spirit without losing our faith and salvation?
Remaining faithful to all that we have received from our Holy Fathers,
we shall never accept the present "Roman Church" as co-representative
with ours of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ.
We consider it necessary that among the theological differences the
distinction between the essence and the energy of God, and the
uncreatedness of the divine energies be noted, because if grace is
created, as the Roman Catholics claim, salvation and the theosis of
man is nullified, and the Church ceases to be a communion of theosis
and degenerates into a nomocanonical institution.
Deeply pained in our soul because of all of the above, we have recourse
to you our Spiritual Father. And with deepest respect, we call upon you
and implore you, in your characteristic pastoral understanding and
sensitivity, to take this most grave matter in hand and not accept the
(Balamand) document, and generally to take every possible action to
stave off the undesirable consequences it will have for pan-Orthodox
unity if by chance some Churches adopt it.
Moreover, we ask for your holy and God-obedient prayers so that we
too who are lowly inhabitants and monastics of the Holy Mountain, in
this time of spiritual confusion, compromise, secularization, an
the dulling of our doctrinal acuity, may remain faithful unto death to
that which was passed on to us by our Holy Fathers as a "form of
doctrine" (Rom. 6:17), whatever that may cost us.
With deepest respect, we venerate your holy right hand.
Signed by: All Representatives and Presidents of the Twenty Sacred
Monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos
P.S. Note that this letter was also sent to the Churches that
participated and were directly concerned in the theological dialogue
and also to the remaining Churches to keep them informed.