To: Exarchate Faithful and Clergy
From: Bishop Auxentios
May God bless you.
The URL above (in Serbian) was sent to me this morning by the Secretary of the Holy Synod, His Grace, Bishop Klemes.
The “Serbian True Orthodox Church” blog on which it appeared, while it claims no jurisdictional sponsorship, contains links throughout to the True Orthodox Church of Greece under Metropolitan Kallinikos (G.O.Ch.), which maintains several parishes in Serbia, and various essays by Vladimir Moss, who is also an adherent of the G.O.Ch. and whose views are very well known in Orthodox circles.
The video was taken at the banquet after the Feast Day of the parish of the Holy Archangel Michael in Toronto, at which I liturgized with Father Akakios, Abbot of our Monastery, the pastor of the parish, and a visiting clergyman from one of our other parishes in Canada this past Sunday.
The parish in Toronto, along with several Serbian parishes in Australia, recently left the jurisdiction of the Serbian Patriarchate, objecting to its increasing ecumenism. We have offered shelter and refuge to them, commending them for their fidelity to the Orthodox Faith and encouraging them to enter into resistance with firmness but also with a spirit of civility and moderation.
The video in question apparently fell into the hands of individuals who quite obviously, given its crude and insulting title, “The Dangers of Cyprianitism” (in reference to our ailing Metropolitan Cyprian) and its less than flattering comments and articles about our Church, had, if they were in fact present at the beautiful Liturgy, anything but moderate or civilized purposes in mind by being there.
The video centers on my greeting a number of visiting Serbian clergy who do not belong to our jurisdiction, but who were at the parish to greet the faithful on its Feast. They were all most respectful and showed a level of decent behavior that stands in sharp contrast to that of the individual or individuals who used the opportunity of the video to spew forth hateful comments about our Church on the aforementioned blog.
This video and, in my humble opinion, much of the material on the blog in question express an extremist view of Orthodoxy which is inconsistent with a sober resistance and the kind of quiet resistance that we conduct within the scope of the Canons of the Church and with every effort to avoid personal insults and the vulgar language about those whom we consider to be in error.
I find this uninvited intrusion into the internal life of one of our parishes by the blog in question to be inappropriate and sadly divisive.
Especially since the parish in Toronto is bring sued for its property, on account of its separation from the Serbian Patriarchate, such divisive tactics do little to further the cause of responsible Patristic resistance.
These extremist elements in the Church have done much to sow confusion, nastiness and a spirit of competition WITHIN the resistance movement that is simply counterproductive. They have also caused confusion among faithful already scandalized by the various ecumenical excesses and canonical violations that we resisters oppose. In the name of defending the Faith, they defile it.
It is no wonder that Metropolitan Kallistos, the former Oxford Lecturer, himself an ecumenist and a Hierarch of the Oecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, in commenting on the horrible confusion and division among the Greek Old Calendarists, wrote the following of us in an essay contained in the collection MINORITIES IN GREECE (London:Hurst & Company, 2002), by Professor Richard Clogg at St. Antony’s College, Oxford:
Among the existing Old Calendarist jurisdictions, the one which continues most directly the tradition of Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina [the founder of the Old Calendar movement in Greece – BA] is the group headed by Metropolitan Kyprianos of Oropos, with its centre at the Monastery of Fili [the Holy Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina] in Attica. Its dependency in North America, under Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna, issues theological publications of solid value. The Fili group, which is affiliated with the ROCOR,* consistently refuses to condemn the sacraments of the New Calendarists as invalid. By contrast, most if not all of the other Old Calendarists…now adhere to the ‘Matthewite’ [referring to Bishop Matthew of Vresthene] standpoint, condemning the sacraments of the ‘mainstream’ Orthodox Churches as invalid and devoid of sanctifying Grace. Thus, the ‘Matthewite’ position, which initially was upheld by no more than a small minority of Palaioemerologitai, has gradually become the majority view (p. 17).
* [This was true until 2007, when the ROCOR, or the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, was reconciled with the Moscow Patriarchate and union between the two Synods was sadly severed, since our Bishops could not consider communion with the Moscow Patriarchate on account of its ecumenical stance and other serious problems.]
Certainly this was not written because we have special Grace or are “more Orthodox” than others. It was written because we try to maintain a balanced, intelligent, honest, and civilized position in the Church, hoping that our “walling off” from error will draw others into resistance. We work not to enhance our ranks or numbers or to elevate ourselves above those in error, but to provoke concern about the deviations in world Orthodoxy today, hoping one day to bring our errant brothers and sisters back into Holy Tradition and thus to a restoration of Orthodox unity in the Truth, which should be our greatest desire!
The aggressively crude and unsettling blog that chose to exploit the spiritual joy of our visit to our community in Toronto, trying to drag us into the ugly politics of extremism and divisive jurisdictional competition, has done, I am sure, nothing by this tactic, except to call into question the nature of its witness; to harm those who are confused by such resentful actions; and to bring a demonic element into what was a wonderfully spiritual event. We will simply continue our efforts, finding glory in the shame that these people try to bring on us and praying for their return to Christian charity, love, and a true witness to the Orthodox Faith.
Enough said. I suggest that our clergy and faithful, like us, avoid the poison of extremism and deadly zeal of the unwise kind. This is a poison that always transforms zealotry into jealousy and misdirects our duty to teach and to enlighten towards cheap and nasty words and silly name-calling. I am ashamed for those who apparently feel no shame at spreading such poison and spiritual death to others.