Canons, Commemoration, Chaos, and Churches: Thoughts and Unpopular Propositions

A somewhat free-wheeling overview of controversial issues.

Breaking Communion: Public and Private Teaching

Canon 15 of the First-Second Synod of Constantinople in 861 states the following:

“The rules laid down with reference to Presbyters and Bishops and Metropolitans are still more applicable to Patriarchs. So that in case any Presbyter or Bishop or Metropolitan dares to secede or apostatize from the communion of his own Patriarch, and fails to mention the latter’s name in accordance with custom duly fixed and ordained in the Divine Mystagogy, but, before a conciliar verdict has been pronounced and has passed judgment against him, creates a schism, the Holy Council has decreed that this person shall be held an alien to every priestly function if only he be convicted of having committed this transgression of the law. Accordingly, these rules have been sealed and ordained as respecting those persons who under the pretext of charges against their own presidents stand aloof, and create a schism, and disrupt the union of the Church. But as for those persons, on the other hand, who, on account of some heresy condemned by Holy Councils, or Fathers, withdrawing themselves from communion with their president, who, that is to say, is preaching the heresy publicly, and teaching it barehead in church, such persons not only are not subject to any canonical penalty on account of their having walled themselves off from any and all communion with the one called a Bishop before an conciliar or synodal verdict has been rendered, but, on the contrary, they shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honor which befits them among Orthodox Christians. For they have defied, not Bishops, but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers; and they have not sundered the union of the Church with any schism, but, on the contrary, have been sedulous to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions.”


In many ways, Canon 15 of the First-Second Synod is a more elaborate restating of Apostolic Canon 31 which states:

“If any presbyter, despising his own bishop, shall collect a separate congregation and erect another altar, not having any grounds for condemning the bishop with regard to religion or justice, let him be deposed for his ambition as he is a tyrant. In like manner, let the rest of the clergy be deposed that join him and let the laymen be excommunicated. Let this, however, be done after a first, second, and third admonition.” 

What we have to focus on then are the conditions which call for both ceasing of commemoration and breaking of communion. We should note that the first part of Canon 15 clearly talks about the issues both of breaking communion and ceasing commemoration, mentioning those who “secede or apostatize from the communion of his own Patriarch, and fails to mention the latter’s name in accordance with custom duly fixed and ordained in the Divine Mystagogy.” Of course, this first part is spoken of in the negative sense of those who do this without any justification whatsoever. But, later in the Canon we have the justification provided for such a radical course of action (i.e. ceasing commemoration and breaking communion), which is when heresy condemned by holy councils or the Fathers is preached publicly. So, the actions of ceasing commemoration are intricately tied up with the issue of breaking communion; obviously, it would make no sense to cease commemoration with a Patriarch, Metropolitan, or Bishop, for reasons of Faith, but to still maintain communion with him. Non-commemoration is equivalent to breaking communion; the Canon states that even before a Council has met to depose or condemn such a bishop (or bishops), this action should be done for reasons of Faith, and that those whom they have broken with are not Bishops at all, but ‘pseudo-bishops’.  It would seem that the Canon itself is explicit about this, and so, the commentary is simply a plain restatement of what is already mentioned.

There is, of course, a need to talk about what it means to ‘publicly’ preach heresy.  Bishop Nikodim (Milash), the late 19th and early 20th century Serbian Orthodox bishop who was the last great expert on Orthodox Canon Law to be produced, in his Commentary on this Canon states that this means this cannot be a private view that is expressed. This is because when a view is expressed privately, or even in a small group, it is possible to correct the Bishop on this matter. But, if the teaching is public and directed to contradict Church teaching, and there is no backing down, there is no choice. Bp. Nikodim comments and says:

“If, for example, a bishop expresses any personal opinion on matters of faith and morality that may seem wrong to someone, but which does not contain a particular importance and can be easily corrected, the Bishop cannot be accused of intentional unrighteousness; Or if the bishop, in a close circle of individuals, expresses his erroneous opinion, which here can be corrected, without violating the peace of the church, in such cases no presbyter has the right to arbitrarily separate from his bishop and make a schism, and in case of disobedience, will be Subject to punishment in accordance with the Apostolic Canon 31.”  

It is easy in an individual conversation to say, “Vladyka / Despota, if I may, I do not believe what you have said is accurate. Perhaps I have misunderstood, or you meant to say otherwise, but, that is why from the Scriptures, Fathers, Councils, etc, this is not accurate.”  And the same thing can be done in a small group. Indeed, Bp. Nikodim’s advice is directly reminiscent of what Our Lord directly commands in Matthew 18, verses 15-17:

“Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou has gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church: but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and publican.” 


When a teaching becomes public, or when a private inquiry is made and there is no backing down, and you have witnesses, we are dealing with serious issues. Public and bareheaded preaching of heresy (which Bp. Nikodim identifies in his commentary as designed to contradict Church teaching) must be dealt with quickly and swiftly, this is why immediate breaks in communion are allowed. In the case of a private discussion, where things can be remedied, a different course can be taken, and if there is no remediation, and no public teaching of this heresy, but it is still being held, then a trial must be held (thus, ‘tell it to the Church’, and the usage of witnesses).

Ultimately, it does not matter who it is among the hierarchy that is teaching heresy.  In the late 10th century, the former Archbishop of Ravenna, Gerbert of Auriac, who would later be elected Pope Sylvester II [+1003] said:

“I boldly affirm that if the Bishop of Rome shall have offended against his brother, and after often admonition shall have refused the hear the Church, that Roman Pontiff, by the command of God, is to be regarded as an heathen man and a publican.”

Obviously, we don’t have an Orthodox Pope in Old Rome anymore (and haven’t had one for nearly a thousand years), but, the principle still holds. Even the most exalted ecclesiastical position does not exonerate one from censure and judgment. All are subject to rebuke if they transgress the Faith and righteousness.


Schismatics? Heretics? Be Clear!

In relation to the above, we can say that certainly it would be out of place to accuse one of becoming a plain schismatic [as opposed to an heretic and schismatic] because they cannot either enter into communion with, or they must break communion with, a Patriarch, Bishop, etc, for doctrinal reasons. A schismatic is, strictly speaking, someone who breaks communion for purely non-dogmatic reasons, i.e. things that have nothing to do with the Faith.  This is one of the serious problems with the modernist-ecumenist accusation that True Orthodox Christians are ‘schismatic.’  The very accusation presumes that a True Orthodox Christian and a modernist-ecumenist hold the same Faith.  It would seem ridiculous indeed to claim that the True Orthodox hold the same Faith as, say, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, or Patriarch John of Antioch, or Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, or any of the ‘mainline’ groups in the United States or abroad. It is as if we are to believe that ecumenism and modernism are simply just opinions, and they don’t really matter. Someone can teach that Papists are part of the Church, are ‘brothers’, can be commemorated in the services, and someone can teach the opposite, and this supposedly means both parties hold the same Faith! The same goes for the modernistic teachings that the Scriptures are fables, legends, fictional accounts, corrupted histories, fairy-tales, ‘cleverly devised fables’, and full of historical errors and inaccuracies, such as you find taught in mainline seminaries and schools (i.e. things like the Documentary Hypothesis, criticism of the New Testament accounts, disparaging the historical truth of the Gospels, etc); how could True Orthodox Christians who believe in the historical accuracy of the Holy Scriptures, in conformity with traditional Church teaching, and that they are inerrant in not just doctrinal matters, but in correctly conveying the historical truth, be said to be ‘holding the same Faith’ as the the teachers at Holy Cross, St. Vladimir’s, or the rest of the liberal theological establishment of the World Orthodoxy in the US? Need we even go into the widening disparity in moral teachings between the two bodies? Or what about the widening difference over the very doctrines of the Atonement and Original Sin? This is also certainly a legitimate difference in Faith (no matter who denies Atonement and Original Sin; no matter who teaches such denials).

This is an important point to make: for us to be schismatics it would means none of these things matter as regards the Faith.  But, if they are matters of Faith, then we have a disparity. We cannot in good conscience remain in communion, or enter into communion, with hierarchs and institutions that teach these things, or allow them to be taught.  The ‘fighting from within’ individuals of World Orthodoxy view the matter in an institutional framework, analogous to that of modern ‘conservative’ Roman Catholics under Pope Francis (and his  Novus Ordo ecumenist-modernist establishment in the Vatican), or, perhaps analogous to that of their conservative historical counter-parts in the Anglican Communion in the 1950s, i.e. willing to fight a battle that can’t be won from within an institution that has already fallen.  They attack as heresy ecumenism and modernism, but, they also attack those who have been invoking Canon 15 for a great many years now. Or they embrace the new non-commemoration movement, but, at the same time, as with some of the Romanian non-commemorators, continue to savagely attack the Romanian True Orthodox Christians and denounce their martyrs and confessors who suffered under the evil pseudo-Patriarch Miron Cristeu. They enter creating a one to one correlation between the institutions of the Patriarchates and the Church; all the Patriarchates can fall, and this does not mean the Church cease, because there will always be true Bishops, even if the institutions we historically recognize at different times fall into heresy and apostasy.

It would simply make more sense if the World Orthodox accused us of being ‘heretics’, which, in fact, some devotees of Fr. John Romanides (including the man himself) did. That would, at least, recognize that we hold different views on these doctrinal questions. However, this can’t be done since this would mean they could no longer accuse the True Orthodox of breaking for matters that don’t relate to religion, and thus implicate themselves in deviation.

Comparisons to the Old Believers are also faulty. After all, the Old Believers do teach heresy; they deny that the Church had an episcopate for nearly 160 years (until the Old Believers gained one in the 1840s); teaching that Presbyters supposedly had the right, on their own authority and without the consent of Bishops, to bring in heretical bishops into the Church by Chrismation! This is simply a variation of the Presbyterian Heresy!  How can you be ‘plain Schismatics’ when you deny the Episcopate exists in the Church? You can’t. However, True Orthodox have never denied that Bishops are always in the Church. Perhaps you have had some segments that left, for all intents and purposes, us, and claimed cases of ‘presbyterial reception’ of Bishops, but such would only indict those segments in heresy, and they can simply be ignored (as the Old Believers).

To invoke Canon 15 means to cease commemoration and break communion. It can’t be used as some sort of heuristic and educative device. Where has it been so used and it proved successful?  Of course, Canon 15 itself was not the beginning of this allowance of breaking of public heretics. We should not believe that suddenly this was allowed in the Church only after the year 861. Apostolic Canon 31, quoted at the beginning, which goes back to the early days of the Church is an example that this commonly held teaching was there all along.


Cases in History and the Chaos of the Churches

However, I hear objections already about the ‘hard’ cases. Should not they be addressed? Certainly. Though, the ‘hard cases’ are not as hard as we imagine, they still do no fit into the neat sequence of events that some True Orthodox would like them to fit. They do not conform to the establishmentarian-institutionalism of World Orthodoxy certainly! Though, in the end, they prove the case of True Orthodoxy, even if some of our own accounts of how things transpire and can happen should be tweaked. No greater problem has confronted the confessing True Orthodox Christians than complete reliance upon the workings of the Greek or Russian ecclesiatical world and politics of the 20th century, and trying to force this image upon the history of the Church. This involves issues not just about breaking with heretics, but with how True Orthodox deal with each other, when they are often at the throat of one another, or, at least, like to leave a sneering comment, statement, or remark against others, ignorant of history in order to justify their own madness.

Of course, there are certain things which are not very plainly discussed in Canon 15, and which are subjects of legitimate inquiry: for example, what about when you have two Local Churches, one of which has many people in it preaching heresy? When should this be a matter of breaking communion? We certainly know that St. Basil in Letter 241 to Count Terentius, while respectful of St. Athanasius and Orthodox Old Rome, was certainly critical of the heresy being taught by those in communion with St. Athanasius, specifically the problems with the old Orthodox party in Antioch, the Eustathians, as well as the continuing saga of Marcellus of Ancyra and St. Athanasius’ communion with him. St. Athanasius’ and others’ defense was that Marcellus denied the accusations; St. Basil’s reply was that this was not enough. So, there certainly is room for some ambiguity due not just to ‘lack of communication’, but to lack of agreeing how to interpret the facts of the case, even when all the facts are clearly understood. Though, in the case of both St. Athanasius’ communion of Bishops and St. Basil’s, with the travesty of the mutually anathematizing Orthodox parties of Antioch, they could all at least agree they didn’t want to be in communion with the Arians who controlled the ‘mainstream Church’; they all realized that.

St. Basil talks about the horrific situation in the 4th century, where you have Orthodox bishop anathematizing Orthodox bishop, with the only thing they could apparently agree upon was that they both anathematized the Arians [‘Official Church’]:

“To what then shall I liken our present condition? It may be compared, I think, to some naval battle which has arisen out of time old quarrels, and is fought by men who cherish a deadly hate against one another, of long experience in naval warfare, and eager for the fight. Look, I beg you, at the picture thus raised before your eyes. See the rival fleets rushing in dread array to the attack. With a burst of uncontrollable fury they engage and fight it out. Fancy, if you like, the ships driven to and fro by a raging tempest, while thick darkness falls from the clouds and blackens all the scenes so that watchwords are indistinguishable in the confusion, and all distinction between friend and foe is lost. To fill up the details of the imaginary picture, suppose the sea swollen with billows and whirled up from the deep, while a vehement torrent of rain pours down from the clouds and the terrible waves rise high. From every quarter of heaven the winds beat upon one point, where both the fleets are dashed one against the other. Of the combatants some are turning traitors; some are deserting in the very thick of the fight; some have at one and the same moment to urge on their boats, all beaten by the gale, and to advance against their assailants. Jealousy of authority and the lust of individual mastery splits the sailors into parties which deal mutual death to one another. Think, besides all this, of the confused and unmeaning roar sounding over all the sea, from howling winds, from crashing vessels, from boiling surf, from the yells of the combatants as they express their varying emotions in every kind of noise, so that not a word from admiral or pilot can be heard. The disorder and confusion is tremendous, for the extremity of misfortune, when life is despaired of, gives men license for every kind of wickedness. Suppose, too, that the men are all smitten with the incurable plague of mad love of glory, so that they do not cease from their struggle each to get the better of the other, while their ship is actually settling down into the deep.” [Chapter 30, On the Holy Ghost]


We have the spirit spread everywhere among the confessing True Orthodox of the 4th century. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, like St. Meletius, did turn against his Acacian Arian consecrators and break with them. But, the question still remains as to his ordination. In fact, St. Jerome in his “Chronicle” records that St. Cyril was promised the episcopate of Jerusalem if he repudiated St. Maximus, and even accepted Arian re-ordination (although St. Cyril had been a priest ordained by St. Maximus):

“Maximus the 40th bishop of Jerusalem after Macarius dies, after whom the Arians take possession of the church, that is Cyril, Eutychius, Cyril again, Irenaeus, Cyril a third time, Hilarius, Cyril a fourth time. Of these, Cyril had been ordained presbyter by Maximus and thus after his death the episcopate was promised to him by Acacius bishop of Caesarea and other Arians if he would repudiate the ordination of Maximus. He ministered as a deacon in the church. On account of this impiety of priesthood he was compensated by a bribe. He degraded Heraclius, whom the dying Maximus had appointed in his place, from bishop to presbyter, harassing him by various deceits.”


Was this true? Or was it rather the attitude of the many overly zealous individuals against him? If it is true, it paints a rather dark picture of St. Cyril as initially either an open heretic, or possibly an opportunist, or at best a temporizer with no strong view until later. Thankfully, we have an alternate opinion given by St. Theodoret of Cyrhuss in Book 2, Ch. 22 of his Ecclesiastical History where he says:

“On his translation to the life which knows no old age, Cyrillus, an earnest champion of the apostolic decrees, was dignified with the Episcopal office. These men in their contentions with one another for the first place brought great calamities on the state. Acacius seized some small occasion, deposed Cyrillus, and drove him from Jerusalem. But Cyrillus passed by Antioch, which he had found without a pastor, and came to Tarsus, where he dwelt with the excellent Silvanus, then bishop of that see. No sooner did Acacius become aware of this than he wrote to Silvanus and informed him of the deposition of Cyrillus. Silvanus however, both out of regard for Cyrillus, and not without suspicion of his people, who greatly enjoyed the stranger’s teaching, refused to prohibit him from taking a part in the ministrations of the church. When however they had arrived at Seleucia, Cyrillus joined with the party of Basilius and Eustathius and Silvanus and the rest in the council. But when Acacius joined the assembled bishops, who numbered one hundred and fifty, he refused to be associated in their counsels before Cyrillus, as one stripped of his bishopric, had been put out from among them. There were some who, eager for peace, besought Cyrillus to withdraw, with a pledge that after the decision of the decrees they would enquire into his case. He would not give way, and Acacius left them and went out. Then meeting Eudoxius he removed his alarm, and encouraged him with a promise that he would stand his friend and supporter. Thus he hindered him from taking part in the council, and set out with him for Constantinople.”

However, we still have the problem of St. Cyril accepting ordination from Acacian Arians (the same problem for St. Meletius), even though they came to oppose them later. The issue becomes more problematic when we consider that, according to Blessed Theodoret’s History we find the following decree from the Second Ecumenical Council:

“Of the church at Jerusalem, mother of all the churches, we make known that the right reverend and most religious Cyril is bishop, who was some time ago canonically ordained by the bishops of the province, and has in several places fought a good fight against the Arians.” (5:22)

How could St. Cyril be canonically ordained by Acacius of Caesarea, the ‘tongue of the Arians’, who condemned Nicea and fell under its anathema? The issue here is that St. Cyril is defended by the Council as having been ‘canonically ordained’ from the start. The Synod, to begin with, felt it had to issue some vindication, probably because of the attacks upon people like St. Cyril from the “Old Nicenes”, who had never entertained communion with him or St. Meletius, but instead had resisted Arianism completely and unambiguously from the start with no compromises.

What about the real objections to the consecrations of St. Meletius? He was consecrated by Acacian Arians a bishop; this is pointed out in the histories of the day, and he even subscribed to the Arianist formulae of Selecuia, as Socrates Scholasticus of Constantinople’s “Ecclesiastical History” notes.  These were Acacian Homoian synods that rejected Nicea and thus fell under the anathema. This can’t simply be ‘swept’ under the rug, and ignored.  It doesn’t conveniently fit into how many view the situation. However, for all this, for all the problems associated with it, we can say one thing: St. Meletius broke with these heretics. Whatever else we say, it is clear that he realized that the situation was untenable with the Acacians, and he acted. He did not stay; he did not wait for a large council to be held to exonerate him, he simply affirmed the Faith, made it clear what this meant, and let the heretics act however they were going to act.

It would have been ridiculous to have expected St. Meletius of Antioch to have said, “Well, I don’t agree, personally with Acacius of Caesarea, but, I don’t want to ‘create a schism’ by breaking with him.”   If he had remained in communion with his consecrators he would have proved himself unworthy and we would simply have categorized him with a long list of heretics. But, rather, he chose to go against the establishment of his day, and prove himself an Orthodox Christian, and ceased communion and commemoration. This led to St. Meletius and others not only enduring the persecution of the ‘Canonical Church’ (i.e. Arians), which was not the real Church anyway, but, suffering the constant slander against themselves by the Orthodox who considered them Johnny-come-latelys to the battle.

St. Basil, who endured so much, not just at the hands of the heretical powers of the day, but at the hands of other Orthodox who often considered him to be an heretic and schismatic, laments the situation of the day, in the already quoted chapter 30 from his work defending the Divinity of the Holy Ghost.  In Letter 266, of St. Basil’s, to Pope St. Peter II of Alexandria [+381], St. Basil’s heart is torn by the situation, the great Teacher of the Faith say he is grieved by heretics assaults on the Church, but more grieved by the Orthodox. The Deacon Dorotheus, while on a mission to seek to establish communion between St. Meletius of Antioch and Pope St. Damasus of Rome, was to encounter a most terrible situation, and St. Basil pleads for the future:

“On his return Dorotheus reported to me the conversation which he had had with your excellency in the presence of the very venerable Bishop Damasus, and he caused me distress by saying that our God-beloved brethren and fellow-ministers, Meletius [of Antioch] and Eusebius [of Samosata], had been reckoned among the Ariomaniacs. If their Orthodoxy were established by nothing else, the attacks made upon them by the Arians are, to the minds of all right thinking people, no small proof of their rectitude. Even your participation with them in sufferings endured for Christ’s sake ought to unite your reverence to them in love. Be assured of this, right honourable sir, that there is no word of Orthodoxy which has not been proclaimed by these men with all boldness. God is my witness. I have heard them myself. I should not certainly have now admitted them to communion, if I had caught them tripping in the Faith. But, if it seem good to you, let us leave the past alone. Let us make a peaceful start for the future. For we have need one of another in the fellowship of the members, and specially now, when the Churches of the East are looking to us ,and will take your agreement as a pledge of strength and consolidation. If, on the other hand, they perceive that you are in a state of mutual suspicion, they will drop their hands and slacken in their resistance to the enemies of the Faith.”


The history of the period very closely parallels our own. People, however, will continue to refuse to learn from it because the solutions and attitudes of the Fathers will not prove beneficial to the claims of ecclesiastical imperialism of one jurisdiction over another; just as almost all sides ignore the issues in the past that have transpired in almost all Synods (while either openly, or behind the scenes, accusing the other of the things their own hierarchs have done or said). Such intentional or  unintentional ignorance is often produced and upheld out of a supposed desire to ‘protect the convert’ or those who may be ‘new in the faith’; however, what happens when this is done is that it creates larger problems down the road for those very same ‘new converts’.  They end up going from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, or worse, turn to World Orthodoxy and simply abandon the struggle in any meaningful way. And it was the fault of the attitude of groups or individuals that thought to ‘omit’ the past, while attacking the ‘other guys’.  In this attitude, there can be no admission of errors or wrongs in the past; because that would surrender (at least in their minds) the ability of said Synod to judge and give orders to all others. On the contrary, the admission of making a wrong decision, or being too naive, or too ignorant, or whatever, can give you a great deal more credibility than simply falsifying, lying, or ignoring history, whether ancient, medieval, or modern.


A Few Unpopular Proposals With Much Disagreeable Discussion

Certainly the time has come for all Synods that struggle for the True Orthodox Faith to cast aside any discrepancies, overlooked issues, etc.  What, then, would be a simple basis of communion in sacred things between True Orthodox Synods? The Faith. That’s it. However, we have to go further and explain what this means in some specific cases:

1) Agreement that World Orthodoxy is not the Church and must be treated and said to be such, which means that they don’t have the Grace of the Sacraments. Some have gone all over the place on this issue, from not saying anything, to de facto  or even de jure affirming it, to saying you can hold multiple different opinions. But, the simplest solution, the one that in the end must always lead to is this: The Patriarchates are not the Church; they don’t have the Grace of the Sacraments. Prominent Synods like the RTOC and ROAC, which have discussed this question for sometime have, have simply affirmed this. There is no more room for continued and useless debate which in no ways helps the Church. This can be affirmed by statements which say as much, but specific anathemas are better.  This should mean not just the adoption of the 1983 ROCOR Anathema, but, even more; we need Anathemas that actually name the heretics condemned for ecumenism, like Meletius Metaxakis.

2) Anathematization of Sergianism plain and simple, with the mention of the founder of it, Sergius.

3) Condemnation and anathematizations of the Modernist heresies, such as: rationalistic Biblical criticism, Romanidean Neo-Pelagianism, renovationist attacks on the Saints. We already have the testimony of Patriarch Gennadius Scholarios, the disciple of St. Mark of Ephesus, that any who refuse to venerate St. Augustine are anathematized. This proposition would include authorities composing sets of anathemas, naming specific heretics.  This third proposition, however, I believe, especially the later two points of it, would encounter massive resistance in many quarters of certain True Orthodox Synods because of their infection with these heresies. But, that’s what has to be done. Anathemas, as St. John Maximovitch explains, are not mean spirited ways of being hateful; they are ways to guard the flock in the firmest way possible, from harm; and hopefully, to warn many of the spiritual destruction they are placing themselves in.

4) Condemnation of the Imiaslavie heresy, in not just the form of a Synodal statement, but of an Anathema. While Synodal condemnations go a long way, and can have the practical effect of an anathema, an anathema is the last step.


But, how would communion be implemented if there was complete agreement? I believe to simply say, “We have to wait for the Holy Emperor to come,” while not entirely wrong, since we believe that God sending a righteous Orthodox king will help and will happen in Russia, in some ways, this answer creates the same effects upon the True Orthodox as the rapture heresy does for Protestants. It seems to be a convenient way of saying, “Let’s not worry about any of this. It will be taken care of.”  Meanwhile, all kinds of evil and wrongs are committed because individuals have abrogated the degree of responsibility they have. And, more to the point, the Righteous King, or Tsar, is coming to Russia. So, while the Russian jurisdictions may plead this as an excuse, what do we in the US and Canada have as an excuse? I certainly pray that we would have a righteous True Orthodox Ruler, but, it seems that this is a very small possibility. The solution, I believe, is basically to make everyone meet; it will be rough; it will be unpleasant; it won’t go as planned. You will probably have a great many feelings hurt, and a great many grievous statements made. I almost wish I could convert Donald Trump and get him involved just because I know there would be a lot of people who would come just to meet the President. But, absent that, there is no other solution.  Not just one meeting, but multiple meetings; eventually people will grow thick skins if they don’t have them; every single question will be discussed, all the histories examined, everyone gets time to make their defense.  The worse that can happen is what? True Orthodox come out hating each other more than they already do? What? They make more snide comment, remarks, posts, than they already do? If that’s the worse that can happen, then we certainly should be able to bear the weight of it.  Of course, all of this presupposes that the above 4 conditions are met. Otherwise, there is no unity on these issues to stand on.  And, in all honestly, this would probably work much better in the US and Canada then in Greece or Russia; the old world bad blood is too strong there for anything to be done soon.

–Hieromonk Enoch


Hieromonk Enoch is a hieromonk of the Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia of North and South America, and the British Isles, and is a monk of the Metropolia’s Abbey of the Holy Name in West Milford, New Jersey. While not writing on NFTU, he mainly writes on Western Rite Orthodox issues at the blog True Western Orthodoxy.