Bp. Stefan of Trenton (RTOC) Statement on Recent Church Union

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Bp. Stefan of Trenton (RTOC) Statement on Recent Church Union

Reported May 29, 2014 (Source: Portal-Credo)

Statement by Bishop Stefan of Trenton & North America (RTOC) Concerning the Union of the Synod in Resistance and the GOC

The following statement is not the official statement of the RTOC, but my personal observations and concerns. Many faithful do not know what to make of this union, and have brought some questionable details to my attention. This statement is a reply to some of these concerns.

Many see this unity in a positive light and now say that we must also join the GOC Synod under Archb. Kallinikos, saying that the Church in Resistance has renounced Cyprianism. This, however, does not appear to be genuine – and talks with the hierarchs of this new Union are not possible until points of contention are cleared up.

The Old Calendarist Association (Koinotita) has sent a certain number of letters to the GOC Synod before and after their union with the Synod in Resistance in order to have details of it. The Association could never get an answer to the most critical questions regarding the position of the former Cyprianites. The cyprianists seem indeed to practice the double speech saying to their flock that they changed nothing in their teaching and that their departure was justified whereas at the same time the union is presented to the flock of GOC-K as a repentance of the cyprianites. To add more to the confusion, the permanent silence of the synod is worrying. Since the union, the key documents are still missing.

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  1. Marlon Scott says:

    We desperately need hierarchs like St. Cyril of Alexandria that are magnanimous enough to exercise true oikonomia in sensitive matters:

    I learned from the beloved monk Paul that your reverence up to this day refuses communion with the most pious John (of Antioch) because there are some in the Church of Antioch who either still think as Nestorius did, or have thought so and perhaps desisted. Accordingly let your clemency estimate whether those who are said to be reconciled are nakedly and shamelessly holding the doctrines of Nestorius and telling them to others, or have had their consciences seared once and are now reconciled after having regretted that by which they were held fast, and are ashamed perhaps to admit their blunder. For it happens that some such experiences occur to those who have been beguiled.
    And if you see them now agreeing with the true faith, forget about what has gone by. For we wish to see them denying rather than advocating the baseness of Nestorius in a shameless opinion, and in order not to appear to prize a love of strife let us accept communion with the most pious bishop, John, yielding to him for prudential reasons, not being too demanding in the use of language with regard to those who repent, for the matter as I said, requires a great deal of charity. (To Deacon Maximus of Antioch, Letter 57.1-2)
    I see at a glance that the most pious bishop, John, himself has need of much charity, in order that he may win those who are rebellious. Often harsh collisions repel those who have been disgraced, and it better to rescue those who were opponents by gentleness rather than to hurt them with the spareness of precision. Just as if their bodies were ill, it would doubtless be necessary of course to stretch out a hand to them, so since their souls are in pain there is need of much charity as if it were a medicine being furnished for them. Little by little they will themselves come to a sincere disposition and these are the “services of help and power of administration” (1 Cor. 12:28) which the blessed Paul named.
    Let not your reverence, therefore, be disturbed, and do not view with extreme precision the negotiations now being conducted especially in the present crisis. We do not desire to cut but to tie following the words of the our Savior, “It is not the healthy,” He says, “who need a physician, but they who are sick.” (Lk. 5:31) And if so, as he says again, “I have not come to call the just, but sinners to repentance.” (Lk. 5:32) (To Deacon Maximus of Antioch, Letter 58.2-3)

    • Marlon Scott says:

      Of Cyril, to Proclus, the Bishop of Constantinople, concerning Theodore of Mopsuestia, asking Proclus that he should not permit him to be anathematized since this would be a cause of disturbance.
      St. Cyril of Alexandria ca. 376-444
      With difficulty, at times, and with many labors of your holiness and the Holy Synod which assembled at Ephesus, the churches of God everywhere rejected the vain babblings of Nestorius. But throughout the East some were exceedingly vexed at this, not only the laity but also those assigned to the sacred ministry. Just as the more chronic of illnesses are somehow more difficult regarding medication, or even perhaps entirely reject it, so also a soul sick with the rottenness of distorted thoughts and teachings has an illness hard to cast off. Yet by the grace of God either in pretense or in truth they speak and preach one Christ and anathematize the impious verbiage of Nestorius. In the meanwhile things there are in much tranquility and they run toward what is steadfast in the faith day by day, even those who once were tottering.
      But now, as my lord, the most holy Bishop of Antioch, John, has written to me, the beginning of another storm has arisen among them and quickly there is somehow much alarm lest some of those who are easily carried away would sink down again to what was in the beginning. They said that some arrived at that great city [Constantinople] and then approached the most pious and Christ-loving emperors and demanded through their holy sanction that the books of Theodore of Mopsuestia be anathematized and the man himself, just named. But his name in the East is great and his writings are admired exceedingly. As they say, all are bearing it hard that a distinguished man, one who died in communion with the churches, now is being anathematized. That we find in his writings some things said strangely and full of unmixed blasphemy is doubtful to no one of those who are accustomed to think the truth.
      Let your holiness know that when the exposition composed by him was produced at the holy synod [at Antioch called by John], as those who produced it said, containing nothing healthy, the holy synod condemned it as full of perverted thoughts and, as it were, somehow a spring gushing forth the impiety of Nestorius. But while condemning those who think in this way, in prudence the synod did not mention the man, nor did it subject him to an anathema by name, through prudence, in order that some by paying heed to the opinion of the man might not cast themselves out of the churches. Prudence in these matters is the best thing and a wise one.
      If he were still among the living and was a fellow-warrior with the blasphemies of Nestorius, or desired to agree with what he wrote, he would have suffered the anathema also in his own person. But since he has gone to God, it is enough, as I think, that what he wrote absurdly be rejected by those who hold true doctrines, since by his books being around the chance to go further sometimes begets pretexts for disturbances. And in another way since the blasphemies of Nestorius have been anathematized and rejected, there have been rejected along with them those teachings of Theodore which have the closest connection to those of Nestorius. Therefore, if some of those in the East would do this unhesitatingly, and there was no disturbance expected from it, I would have said that grief at this makes no demands on them now and I would have told them in writing.
      But it, as my lord, the most holy Bishop of Antioch, John, writes, they would choose rather to be burned in a fire than do any such thing, for what purpose do we rekindle the flame that has quieted down and stir up inopportunely the disturbances which have ceased lest perhaps somehow the last may be found to be worse than the first? And I say these things although violently objecting to the things which Theodore, already mentioned, has written and although suspecting the disturbances which will be on the part of some because of the action, lest somehow some may begin to grieve for the teachings of Nestorius as a contrivance in the fashion of that spoken of by the poet among the Greeks, “They mourned in semblance for Patroclus but each one mourned her own sorrows.” (Homer, Iliad 19.302)
      If, therefore, these words please your holiness, deign to indicate it, in order that it may be settled by a letter from both of us. It is possible even for those who ask these things to explain the prudence of the matter and persuade them to choose to be quiet rather and not to become an occasion of scandal to the churches.
      I have sent to you also the copy of the letter to me from my lord, the most holy bishop, John. When your holiness has read it, you will have a complete insight into the matter. (Letter 73, to St. Proclus of Constantinople)

  2. It sounds like Bishop Stefan has been listening too much to certain people who have a history of intrigue and divisive activities.

    The comment “permanent silence” is untrue; those who can read Greek can go on the Synod’s website and read that at recent meetings they discussed the progress of clarifying and re-translating the Ecclesiological Union document.

    The comment: “What
    is most troubling is the fact that this new union [the GOC & the
    Church in Resistance] continues to renounce our anathema on Ecumenism,
    which was declared in 1983, – a time when both these churches were in
    communion with ROCOR.
    This, as well as their failure to recognize our anathema on Sergianism
    [placing Christ’s Church under the full control of a secular government
    whose goal it was to destroy the Church] continues to impress upon their
    faithful that the uncanonical & heretical practices of the MP &
    other Ecumenical Entities do not rise to the level of a false church. This brings us to the question; what is ‘a Church?'”

    makes absolutely no sense to me. The version of the ecclesiological document I saw condemn Ecumenism and Sergianism, and make it clear that the MP and New Calendarist Churches do not fulfill the criteria of being valid Churches.

    Is the issue that we didn’t just accept the 1983 Anathema itself? That was a decision of a local Synod. Local Synods cannot legislate such things for the Universal Church. The GOC accepted the ROCOR anathema of 1983 in principle, but it still issued its own condemnation of Ecumenism in 1998. That doesn’t mean that it therefore didn’t recognize the authority of the 1983 anathema; it was simply reiterating the condemnation it its own canonical territory. The fact that there is a desire to have a Pan-Orthodox Council to do a Pan-Orthodox condemnation of Ecumenism and Sergianism is likewise not a statement that previous local judgments on the issue are not valid, but rather that there is a desire to take those local statements and give them ecumenical approbation. Anyone who knows anything about the history of the Orthodox Canonical Tradition knows that things that were approved by individual Fathers or local Synods were often later reaffirmed by larger, ecumenical Councils. That’s simply the way things work in the Orthodox Church.

    So to somehow suggest that we do not accept the ROCOR Anathema against Ecumenism or Sergianism is not only misleading but simply false.

    • Michael Jawinski says:

      The Greeks are always right

    • Jean-Serge Katembue says:

      We had to wait an eternity before the synod at least announced a new documentation would be available in common Greek. As for the translations in Russian, Romanian, English and Italian they suddenly disappeared in March with the promise of a correction that is still to come. Is it the translation of a 10-page document that requires so many months? Regarding the Koinotitta, they asked questions, got no answers.

      • Karayanopoulos says:

        Fr Anastasios? Mr. Hudson? traditional Orthodoxy? Priest hearing confession? No longer priest, writer, self procaimed news reporter, web administrator? Euphrosynos cafe? No wonder we have confoosion

        • Deacon Joseph @ NFTU says:

          Anastasios Hudson, besides being one of our editors, is a former priest and current member in good standing of the GOC-Kallinikos. You’re phrasing a man’s life, as with every man a mix of good and bad, in a very insulting way.

          NFTU and people writing for it have always taken criticism because we do our best to follow objective standards– and partisans just hate that. As the guy who “runs this thing”, though, I don’t have to be objective towards folks who slur our writers. Don’t make it personal or you’ll be banned. Strike one.

          • Karayanopoulos says:

            Thank you for your reply, please go ahead and delete this e-mail immediately, this is precisely the response I was expecting.
            I am perfectly comfortable with you banning my comments; they are after all, as all others, superfluous. However, please let me know of your decision so I would spare myself the efforts.
            Thank you

          • Deacon Joseph @ NFTU says:

            I’ve given you a warning. I have no intention of banning you; that is something you can earn all your own. Please review the comment guidelines at the top. Thanks! –DJS

        • What’s your point? I joined the Orthodox Church because I realized it is the True Church. I asked the bishop to send a priest to North Carolina in 2007, so in 2008 he made me a priest to do the job. I failed and stepped down. Euphrosynos Cafe was given to me by Nicholas Stanosheck because otherwise he was going to close it down. I am not a self-proclaimed news reporter, but rather asked Dcn. Joseph to allow me to post on NFTU because I wanted to make sure there was sufficient coverage for the GOC. What is so confusing about that?

    • BD says:

      Who do you think he has been listening to?
      Are you referring to the Name Worshippers, HOCNA?
      I would like you to confirm with certainty that none of the ROCOR-Agafangel bishops are not Nameworshippers. I bet you can’t do it.

      • No, I was not referring to Nameworshippers actually. I believe he is listening to Fr. Victor Melehov and Vladimir Moss.

        • BD says:

          Are any of the ROCOR-Agafangel bishops Nameworshippers?

          • I don’t know–I don’t speak Russian. Our bishops asked Met. Agafangel his position on Nameworshipping (among other things) before we went into communion with him, and as I understand it, he replied that he is against nameworshipping. If you have evidence that there are nameworshipper bishops in his synod, please send it to me and I will forward it to our Synod for consideration. An email you can use is gocraleigh (AT) gmail (DOT) com. Thank you.

  3. Thomas Deretich says:

    The March 2014 Kallinikos-Cyprian union statement on ecclesiology did NOT reaffirm ROCOR’s 1983 anathema against ecumenism and did NOT reaffirm Archbishop Auxentios’ Confession of Faith. (Neither document took a strict “Matthewite” stance on the immediate loss of grace. So they should not have hesitated to reaffirm both of these statements. They did not reaffirm them!) The 1983 anathema was reduced by Kallinikos-Cyprian to a mere stepping stone to a supposed future major council of True Orthodox. This is a clear betrayal of their former confession of faith. It is a victory of the wishy-washy-ness of Cyprianism (Filiism/Phyleism)), which condemns the “pan-heresy of pan-heresies,” and then says that this is not validly condemned yet!!!

  4. Deacon Joseph @ NFTU says:

    Sorry folks, I banned one of the posters, who I had asked repeatedly over previous months and after multiple corrections to stop. Placing Monk Ephrem (Spanos)’ sermons, et al, is too much. May as well put up Papal tracts. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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