On the 4th/17th of July, 2012, meeting of the Holy Synod of the GOC-K, which Holy Synod is under the presidency of Archbishop Kallinkos, it was decided to resume dialogue with the Synod in Resistance. The statement given is as follows, from point 4 of a 6 point agenda:
It has been decided that the effort of dialogue with the Synod of Resistance will be resumed, after having conducted an evaluation and overall assessment of the previous dialogue both within the Holy Synod, and together with, the committee of the Resistance, in next September.
Many readers will remember the previously stalled and failed talks held in 2010 between both Synods. But, with the recent general appeal by the Synod in Resistance for wider union talks with other traditionalists and anti-ecumenists who profess the Orthodox Faith, it seems some reaction has been generated. But, questions as to the method and format of implementing the ideas in the appeal by the SiR have been raised.
The ultimate issues that divide the GOC-K and the SiR are over the questions of whether the fallen Patriarchates are in the Church. After the discussions were held, there was dispute summoned by the publishers of the periodical Ecclesiastikos over the genuineness of the SiR. The periodical published a number of questions, and made several attacks upon what it perceived to be the faulty position of the SiR (such as the distinction between ‘healthy’ and ‘sick’ members of the Church, the question of how could the various Synods confessing True Orthodoxy be divided in administration, yet, this not constitute schism, etc..) The rather instructive and interesting answers and responses given by the SiR, can be found here, and it is encouraged that all should read them, and form their own opinion of the facts of the matter.
The matters and issues discussed are fundamental and essential to understanding the functioning of the Orthodox Church in times of great heresy, schism and confusion. Even if one disagrees with either the SiR or the GOC-K, etc, the questions posed by Ecclesiastikos and the answers given by the SiR express an analysis of questions that have rarely raised their head in the past 1000 years or so of Orthodox history. It has not been since the Arian heresy, and the vague situations it produced in its wake (the Meletian crisis in Antioch, the fights between the Orthodox over each others canonicity, the question of how saints could be divided into fighting Orthodox Synod and both be against the Arians and each other, the question of the consecrations of the Crypto- or Semi-Arian (or Akakian) party, etc) that issues like this have ever been raised to this level within those who profess the Orthodox Faith.
The issues discussed are ones that need to have settled answers to them; not from some desire of extreme ‘scholastic’ preciseness, but, because they deal with weighty matters of the Faith. For example, if the fallen Patriarchates do retain the Grace of the Holy Mysteries AND, said Patriarchates are in heresy and thus subjects to which one must lawfully separate, then, what does this fundamentally mean? If this proposition is accepted, it can be argued, the only logical consequence would be that the clergy and laity of the Patriarchates are taking the Sacraments in the grave and deadly sin of heresy and schism, which would, it seems, necessarily imply the spiritual (and possibly temporal) destruction of their souls in this life and inevitable future punishment in the next. However, if this is denied, and the members of the Patriarchates retain the Grace of the Mysteries, and are ‘sick’ members of the Church, and they retain the sanctification of their persons from these Mysteries, despite them being in the horrific and deadly sin of heresy and schism, how does this not plainly contradict the Holy Ghost’s admonition through the Apostle, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (1 Cor. 11:29). If the fallen Patriarchates, however, are deprived by God’s just judgment of the Grace of the Holy Mysteries, does this not in fact preserve them from greater judgment?
There are other, less known questions, that may have to be addressed. Issues such as the controversial position of the SiR on the end times eschatology, which some have argued is completely contrary to the traditional Orthodox understanding. As well as the related issues of the SiR position on government mandated ID. These are somewhat ‘newer’ and have yet to come into complete focus. One wonders if the GOC-K will address these issues? What is its own position?
These are all questions that have been discussed in the Church’s past. And, in particular on one, it seems evident, so far, that the general judgement of the Church on the most visible matter, is that, while schismatics and heretics of certain classes and dispositions, may in fact retain valid forms of the Mysteries (as demonstrated by the possibility of economy in cases enunciated by the Ecumenical Synods and later Church councils, etc), they do not possess the interior, consecrating and sanctifying Grace, which is what makes Mysteries more than bare shadows. To deny this position, is to, in fact, bring a great judgment upon the heretic and schismatic than to affirm they are possessed of Mysteriological Grace.
Of interest also, would be, if the dialogue between the GOC-K and the SiR is successful, how this will impact relations with the ROCOR Synod under the presidency of Met. Agafangel of Odessa. The GOC-K has stated that its unambiguous position is that of the 1971 GOC declaration of the gracelessness of the Mysteries of the State Church, and by extension of application to the Patriarchates as an whole. This is a non-negotiable point, and even the SiR in their previous posted discussions indicated that they were willing to re-evaluate their position on the ‘grace question’ in the light of recent developments. The SiR has already, according to the results of the information provided in the dialogue, revealed that they had a special rite of reception by Chrismation for New Calendarists of the State Church. The Romanian Sister Synod of the SiR receives World ‘Orthodox’ by Chrismation (and in some instances Baptism). If the SiR, does make this a wider policy, and thus re-evaluates their position on this, and embraces the standard GOC line, will the ROCOR-A go along with this? How will this affect members of the ROCOR-A who may embrace ‘Cyprianism’ as a dogmatic imperative fundamental to Orthodoxy itself, or, just a ‘word’ that expresses the Orthodox position?
It is hoped and prayed for, that, as time passes, the point of the original disputations of the 1970s and 80s which brought about so much discord and rancour, shall fade into a distant memory. May that period become as distant to many as that of the disputes between St. Meletius and the confessors of the Eustathians in 4th century Antioch.