16 February 2014 (Old Style)
All of Those Holy Saints Who Have Shone Forth in Asceticism
To: Exarchate Clergy, Faithful, and Friends,
May God bless you. A Blessed Great Fast to all.
At long last, and having frustrated a number of you by not answering your inquiries before we could, in fact, give you concrete information, we would like to inform you of recent developments in the latest dialogues between the Holy Synod in Resistance and the Church of True Orthodox Christians of Greece (G.O.Ch.).*
A preliminary agreed-upon text of a joint statement on ecclesiology will shortly be circulated to our Sister Churches in Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia. Largely based on a document drawn up by His Eminence, Bishop Photiy of Triaditza (Sofia), Chief Hierarch of the Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Bulgaria, this document expresses the general character of the common opposition of the traditionalist Orthodox Christians to the panheresy of ecumenism and the first step in the ecumenical movement, the adoption of the Papal (or so-called “Revised Julian”) Calendar by some Orthodox Churches early in the last century.
It is hoped that, if this ecclesiological document is accepted, now, by our Sister Churches, there will soon be a union Liturgy of our Sister Churches with the “united Old Calendar Church of Greece.”**
With regard to the attempt to form a united Synod in Greece, our Church has agreed to be united under the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece. Our Bishops will become full members of the newly united Synod. Our Mother Monastery in Phyle will become a Metropolitan Diocese within the T.O.C., and its dependencies and missions in Greece and worldwide will be under the direction of a Synodal Missionary Council made up of Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Phyle and Bishops Ambrose of Methone and Clement (Klemes) of Gardikion.
Our parishes and monastic communities in the U.S. and Canada (the American Exarchate of the Holy Synod in Resistance) will be separately ruled—independently from the American Eparchial Synod now under the Church of True Orthodox Christians of Greece—in coöperation with the Synodal Missionary Council of the Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle. A name for our administrative body has yet to be designated.
Our communities will continue to commemorate their present Bishops, though the title of Archbishop Chrysostomos, an honorary title bestowed on him by the Holy Synod in Resistance, will be changed, to avoid confusion with the Archbishop of the Church of True Orthodox Christians of Greece. Bishop Auxentios will remain a Vicar Bishop for the American communities, aiding His Eminence in his increasing incapacitation.
These provisions are at the moment tentative and anticipate, in any event, an eventual regularization of the status of all of the Bishops and Dioceses in an administratively harmonious church structure.
Let us express our delight that a union of Christian coöperation with mutual concessions for the sake of the sacred struggle of True Orthodoxy finally seems to be possible. This will renew the tarnished image of the so-called “Old Calendarist” movement in Greece, bring the influence of our Sister Churches into the picture, and encourage coöperation that will help both those of us who have served in the Holy Synod in Resistance and those who have served in the Church of True Orthodox Christians of Greece.
The traditionalist faithful of Greece, including those who find themselves outside the Old Calendarist movement, will be emboldened and will be especially benefited by this much hoped-for union. They will assuredly find new strength and will struggle with ever-greater zeal to help to enlighten those who have fallen to the heresies of ecumenism, faith-defying modernism, and tradition-destroying innovation.
We will close on a necessarily negative note, but for the positive purpose of enjoining you to set aside the pettiness that so besmirches the Church world today and to work for the greater good of Orthodoxy. First, be assured that none of our principles, none of our moderation, and none of the spirit bequeathed to us by our late and venerable Metropolitan Cyprian have been set aside, as some naysayers have suggested. We have called others, as always, to act in a Christian way and to disagree in a gentlemanly way on matters that are, in fact, theologoumena, acting in good faith and with mutual respect. It seems now that they have also called us to act as we have asked them to act, and we are doing just that.
Various childish rumors about the triumph of one side over the other—a triumphalism inappropriate to Christians—have been heard, in this country at least, on both sides. We have flatly told our own clergy and faithful to avoid communing for a period of time, should they engage in such foolish and evil prattle. The Church belongs to all who have sacrificed for True Orthodoxy, and we have all functioned within the Church. Those who doubt that should hang their heads in shame.
We ask that all of you pray for the success of this precarious, somewhat temporary, and provisional union, without doubt God-pleasing in its intentions and in what it can possibly accomplish. If this union leads, as we have all declared that we hope it will in our joint ecclesiological statement (which will be circulated when completed), to a General Synod of True Orthodox Christians throughout the world, who will then represent a significant segment of the Church, in a pan-Orthodox gathering, a new era in Orthodoxy will begin. Lines will be drawn, not between those who should be united in resisting heresy, but between those who sponsor it and those who vehemently oppose it as dangerous to the faithful and to the salvation of souls.
We will provide more information as the course of this union moves forward. Least Among Monks and Servants of our Flock, to whom we owe all,
† Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna Synodal Exarch in America
† Bishop Auxentios of Photike Acting Synodal Exarch in America
* (Ekklesia Gnesion Orthodoxon Christianon Hellados), or the Church of True Orthodox Christians of Greece, also called the Church of Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece (G.O.C., or sometimes, G.O.X.). We will continue to use the more accurate translation of the Greek adjective “γνησιος” (Greek for lawful, authentic, genuine, true, etc.), as it is used in the traditional and historical name of the Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece: “True.” We will also use the acronym “T.O.C.,” rather than G.O.C. or G.O.X., the latter being a false transliteration of the Greek “Γ.O.X.,” which is correctly rendered “G.O.Ch.” One can hope that our more standard transliteration and conventions will prevail. It should be noted that we will also continue to refer, informally, to the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece as the “Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece.”
** We use this term with the hope that eventually, as coöperation becomes a more desirable way of confronting the heresy and ills of ecumenism, the so-called “Matthewite” minority of Old Calendarists will also join in this union. After all, the rapid and frightening dimensions of the betrayal of the Orthodox Faith among the ecumenists of world Orthodoxy demands a united front against a movement inimical to the very self-definition of Orthodoxy as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.