Moldovan Clergy Cease Commemoration of Patriarch Kirill

NFTU: This happened in May, but was not reported on here. This was in response to the joint-statement of Patriarch Kirill with Pope Francis.


The Defense of the Moldovan Clergy’s Cessation of Commemoration

A Defense of the cessation of commemoration of the local Bishop, the Metropolitan of Chișinău and all Moldova, Vladimir, and of his beatitude Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Kyrill in the Divine Liturgy and in all other services of the Church

Translated by Vincent DeWeese

Modern Greek quotations by John Phares

On the 20th of February 2016 on the official webpage of the Metropolis of Moldova, an article was published with the title “A Declaration of Canonical Disobedience,”[1] a response to the declaration which the undersigned clerics addressed to the Metropolis of Moldova, where we announced that we are ceasing commemoration of the local bishop, the Metropolitan of Chișinău and all Moldova, Vladimir, and of his Beatitude Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, Kyrill, due to recent ecclesiastical events related to the preparation for the Holy and Great Pan-Orthodox Synod, but also because of the meeting in Cuba of the Pope of Rome, Francis, with the Patriarch of Moscow, Kyrill, and the text of their joint declaration.

We [desire and] wait with anticipation to commemorate once again our Hierarch and our Patriarch. We are not transgressors, nor do we desire schism, we are for the Church and within the Church, but the cessation of commemoration is our sign and protest within the Church because something is not right.[2] We do not intend to organize “parallel Synods,” but to implement the 15th canon of the First-Second Synod, precisely because we wish to be first of all in full communion with the Orthodox Faith.

We, the undersigned clergymen of the present declaration, who are mentioned in the article in question, reject all of the accusations against us, especially the accusations concerning the creation of a schism, because these have no canonical basis. Our action is based strictly in the teaching of the Orthodox Church concerning schism and heresy, as it is expressed in the 13th, 14th, και 15th Canons of the First-Second Synod of Constantinople in 861. The second part of the 15th Canon, according to the interpretation of the Holy Confessor Nikodemos[3], is a completion of the preceding canons, because it places the canonical terms of their implementation and identifies the unique case for the cessation of the commemoration of the local hierarch, which is to say, the proclaiming of heresy bareheaded [γυμν τ κεφαλ]. As St. John Chrysostom teaches us, obedience and subjection to the priest, to the hierarch, or to the Synod no longer hold when the issue concerns heresy: “For if one has perverted doctrines, even if he be an angel, do not obey [him]. But if he teaches correctly, pay no heed to his way of life, but to his words.” (John Chrysostom, Homily 2 on 2 Tim., PG 62, 610).

These canonical conditions are articulated chiefly in St. Nikodemos’s interpretation of the first Canon of the Third Ecumenical Synod:

“Putting forth this condition, the Synod of Ephesus intends that legal-ecclesiastical canon, the basis of which the hierarchical structure possesses the full legal authority only when it acts within the boundaries which the law places and when the wielders of this authority are strictly subject to the laws and the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Conversely, when they are distant from these laws and they violate the strictly defined lawful terms, this [ecclesiastical] authority loses all of its rights. Let us interpret further the canons of the Synod which was gathered together in Constantinople in 861, and we will understand what power this canon has always had in the Church.”[4]

Thus, acting within the strict requirements of the Canon Law of the Orthodox Church, we state that the unique cause of our own cessation of commemoration of our local Bishop, and of his Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia, Kyrill, is the public and open preaching of heresy on their part.

Within the aforementioned text which was published on the official webpage of the Metropolis of Moldova, it is underlined that his Eminence, Vladimir, “never promoted or preached ecumenism publicly or under any other form.” With deep sorrow and grief, we find this assertion to be false, because for anyone to sign or to vote positively or to not resist or to not state publicly his opposition to a public document which is un-Orthodox and was received by a synodal body of the hierarchy to which he belongs, is the same as to express agreement and for the same man to proclaim heresy bareheaded [γυμν τ κεφαλ]. Saint Maximus the Confessor broke communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, because he had signed a heretical monothelite and monergist document.

Thus, from the 2nd-3rd of February 2016, the Hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, with the immediate participation of His Eminence Metropolitan of Chișinău and All Moldova, Vladimir, approved the preliminary texts for the Holy and Great Pan-Orthodox Synod, which the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches drafted in Chambesy, which had gathered from the 21st until the 28th of January, 2016. In particular, in the fourth paragraph of the “Decision of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church from 2nd -3rd of February,” it is claimed: “The members of the Hierarchy confess that in their present form, the preliminary documents of the Holy and Great Synod do not violate the authenticity of the Orthodox faith and they do not come into opposition with the canonical tradition of the Church.”[5]

One of these entitled “Relations of the Orthodox Church toward the rest of the Christian world,” contains a series of ecclesiological heresies, for which reason we ended up ceasing commemoration of the local bishop and of Patriarch Kyrill.

The specific reasons for ceasing commemoration are the following:

[The claim concerning the] lost unity of Christians

In the fifth paragraph of this particular text, there is talk about “the restoration of the unity of Christians” and “for the lost unity of Christians.”[6] However, having in our view all these things, we wonder together with the Apostle Paul: “Can Christ be divided?” (1 Cor 1:13). The use of such terms is an immediate denial of dogma concerning the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, because, according to St. Justin Popovic: “The Godman Christ united in His Church ‘the things in heaven and the things on earth, in Him’ (Eph 1:10). All of the mysteries of heaven and earth are united in a unique mystery, in a “great mystery”, in the hyper-mystery of the Church.”[7] And again, “The True Godman Christ, in the perfect fullness of evangelical and theanthropic reality, is completely present in His theanthropic Body, the Church, as it was in the time of the Apostles, as it is today, and will be in eternity.”[8] The Church is One, as Christ is One, and the unity of “Christians” outside the Church cannot be anything but a unity in sin and heresy. The text of the fifth paragraph does not make clear what it means by “unity of Christians,” leaving room for each to interpret it as he wishes.

The recognition of the existence of other Christian churches

In the sixth paragraph, the aforementioned document declares that “The Orthodox Church recognizes the historical existence of other Christian Churches and Confessions not found in communion with her.”[9] If the Orthodox Church is the One Church, then how can there be talk about the existence “of other Christian Churches?” The religious organizations to which the document refers are in no way able to be named “Churches,” especially since this is a synodal document which was approved by an archiepiscopal synod. We ask the Synod to clarify the term “Christian Churches” in relation to the “Orthodox Church” because these formulations are contradictory. In the one, we start from the idea that the Church is One, and in the other, we speak about “Christian Churches.”

What kind of ecclesiology emerges here? We, however, give witness together with Photios the Great that “There is only one Church of Christ, apostolic and catholic. No more, not even two. And the others are synagogues [gatherings] of the wicked and a synod of trespassers.”[10] And the claim that there exist other Christian churches is against the foundational teaching of the Orthodox Church, because it constitutes an heretical ecclesiology. Furthermore—since the matter concerns public documents of the Orthodox Church which were voted and ratified by the members of the upper hierarchy at the synodal level, “the terminology of the decisions must be strictly theological and ecclesiological. The decisions must be in harmony with the entire tradition of the Church which is not conservative, but traditional; it is not constituted by idleness but by movement, by means, however, of theological and ecclesiological thought. In this way, in the authoring of the texts, it will be necessary for the Bishops and theologians to participate which select the terminology which will be used, so that it does not express neo-scholastic, “existential” and post-patristic theology, with a double meaning, which was not delineated conceptually by the Holy Fathers and the ecclesiastical Tradition.

“It is well-known that the Fathers of the Church in the Ecumenical Synods struggled with vigor, and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they used suitable terminology (“with few words and much understanding”) which expresses the orthodox faith securely and in a God-inspired way. A choice of erroneous terminology creates a falling away from orthodox teaching. Special attention is necessary in this and suitable Clergymen are required who know sufficiently the history and content of the terms and phrases.”[11]

The World Council of Churches

Further on in the text which we are analyzing, it is claimed that “the local Orthodox Churches-members of the W.C.C. participate fully and on equal footing in the organization of the World Council of Churches,”[12] which in essence is the source of ecclesiological heresies. Thus, in the 13th article it is claimed that the statues of the organization in question constitute the basis for the participation of the Orthodox Church in the W.C.C. such as the State of Toronto in 1950.[13] In the first of these documents, in the statutes of the World Council of Churches, it is defined that “the churches through the Council will […] facilitate common witness in each place and in all places, and support each other in their work for mission and evangelism.”[14] However, the Orthodox Church, since she is the One Church is unable to be connected to heretical organizations in common declarations and cannot support them in their missionary work and preaching of the gospel, because these do not guide men to Christ, according to the witness of St. John Chrysostom:

“And knowing this, we know that the salvation of the entire world crosses [into the world] not by those under the Law but by Christ, and we do not apportion for the godless heresies anything to do with hope, but we place them absolutely beyond hope, because they, in fact, have not even the least participation in Christ.[15]

And the Declaration of Toronto (1951) which is highlighted in the text “Relations of the Orthodox Church toward the Christian world,” contains the following claim:

“The member Churches recognize that the character of membership in the Church of Christ includes more than those included in their own church body […] All Christian churches, including the Church of Rome, believe that there is no full identity between membership in their own church and membership in the Catholic Church. They recognize that there exist members of the church outside of the walls [extra muros], that these belong equally [aliquot modo] to the Church or even that the church exists outside of the church [ecclesia extra ecclesiam].”[16]

We consider these heresies and blasphemies to be irreconcilable with Orthodoxy, because we confess that there is a complete identity between the Orthodox Church and the Church of Christ.

Continuing, the document “Relations of the Orthodox Church toward the rest of the Christian world” claims that “The Orthodox Church […] evaluates positively those texts issued by them” ]by the Commission “Faith and Order”].[17] One of the theological texts which was composed in Lima in 1982, with the title, “Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry” claims chiefly that “The Churches must avoid attributing their special form of the priesthood immediately to the will and institution of Jesus Christ.”[18] We confess that such a claim is absolutely irreconcilable with the teaching of the Orthodox Church whose priesthood we believe to have been found by Jesus Christ Himself.

At the same time, in the text approved at Chambesy, it is claimed that “the Orthodox Church has reservations concerning fundamental questions of faith and order.”[19] However, concerning the text “Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry, such reservations were not expressed, a thing which the Patriarch of Moscow, Kyrill, stresses, the same who claimed that the text in question is the result of “Orthodox participation and witness at the W.C.C.”[20]

The above demonstrations which do not even exhaust the series of heresies of the W.C.C. where the Orthodox Churches participate “fully and on equal terms” are more than sufficient to claim that this organization, the W.C.C., is heretical. And when the same participation of the Orthodox Churches in the W.C.C. is unacceptable, how much more condemnable is the validation of the values of this organization at the level of the Hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, and [im]possible to be acceptable to the Orthodox faithful.

The Synodal System

Further in the text put forth by the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, it is claimed that “the preservation of the authentic orthodox faith is secured only by the synodal system which has always constituted the guarantee and final judge in the Church concerning matters of faith.”[21] The synodal system is very important for the Church because it constitutes an expression of her Catholicity, but in no case is it ever able to be named “guarantee and final judge concerning matters of faith,” a thing which has been proved so many times in the History of the Church. Let us only remember the robber Synod of Ephesus in 449, in which 600 bishops participated and approved the monophysite heresy.

And “the preservation of the authentic orthodox faith” is a function of the Catholicity of the Church because the Church “is called, therefore, Catholic, on account of being according to all of the ecumene, from the ends of the earth to the ends [of the earth]; and on account of completely and universally teaching the entirety of the dogmas which ought to come to the knowledge of men, concerning both things visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and on account of subjecting every generation of men to piety.”[22] This faith, however, is not safeguarded only by the synodical system [of hierarchs]—which should not be considered infallible—but is safeguarded by the whole body of the Church.

The apostle Paul tells us the same thing:

“But if even we or an angel from heaven preach a gospel which is contrary to the gospel which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we have said before, even now we say again: if anyone preach to you a gospel which is contrary to that which you have received, let him be anathema.”

St. Theophylact of Bulgaria interprets these words as follows:

“By anathematizing the angels, he casts out all authority; and through himself, all familiarity. […] But he does not say this as if condemning the apostles, but wishing to sew shut the mouths of deceivers, and to show forth that when what is spoken of concerns dogmas one does not submit to authority.” [23]

Therefore, a synod is an authentic expression of the Catholicity of the Church only when it is found to be of one voice and mind with the Holy Scripture, the Holy Synods, and the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, and not exclusively by means of the mechanical expression of the synodal system, as St. Basil the Great claims:

“That there is need of hearers, who have been educated in the scriptures, to test the things which are spoken by their teachers, and to accept whatever is consonant with the scriptures, but to reject whatever is foreign, and most vehemently to turn oneself away from those who persist in such teachings.”[24]

The claim of the proposed text tends to replace the Catholicity of the Church with the synodal system as the absolute point of reference in matters of faith, something which is alien to the teaching of the Church.


We consider the adoption (even through the following assertion: “The members of the hierarchy confess that in their present form, the preliminary texts of the Great and Holy Synod do not violate the authenticity of the orthodox faith and do not come into opposition with the canonical tradition of the Church”) of the text “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world” as a proclamation of heresy bareheaded [γυμν τ κεφαλ] and an enactment at the level of the local Synod of the abovementioned heretical teachings, something for which, following the teaching of the Orthodox Church articulated in the 15th Canon of the First-Second Synod from Constantinople in 861, as well as in the entire tradition of the Church, in the lives and writings of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, we cease the commemoration of the local bishop and of his Beatitude, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, who participated and voted for the document in question and we act in this way until the repudiation and condemnation of the heresy which is expressed in the aforementioned text.


[1], 20.02.2016

[2] The relevant arguments will be presented further on.

[3] St. Nikodemos Milas – Правила Святой Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, Епископа Далматинско-Истрийского (The Canons of the Orthodox Church, interpretation of the 15th canon of the First-Second Synod).

[4] St. Nikodemos Milas – Правила Святой Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, Епископа Далматинско-Истрийского (The Canons of the Orthodox Church, interpretation of the first canon of the Third Ecumenical Synod).

[5] Постановления Освященного Архиерейского Собора Русской Православной Церкви, 3rd paragraph.

[7] St. Justin Popovic, Ecclesiological Chapters, 34.

[8] Ibid.

[10] Photios the Great, Epistle to Pope Nicholas.

[11] Ierotheos, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, “The Meeting of the Primates of the Orthodox Church,” Ecclesiastical Intervention 212, March 2014.

[15]  John Chrysostom, On holy Pascha (sermon 1), 14, PG 59, 725.

[16] And continuing, “…This recognition finds expression in the fact that with very few exceptions the Christian churches accept the baptism administered by other churches as valid”

[18]  “Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry”, 1982, cap. 3, II.11apud

[20] Metropolitan Kiril (Gundeaev) – Православие и экуменизм: Документы и материалы 1902-1998 (Orthodoxy and Ecumenism: Texts and Materials 1902-1998), p. 44.

[22] Cyril of Jersualem. Catechesis 18, chapter 23, PG 33, 1044A.

[23] Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, Interpretation of the Epistle to the Galatians, PG 124, 960-961.

[24] Basil the Great, Principle of Ethics, 72, 1, PG 31, 845D, 848A.