On Sunday, November 7 (October 25 OS), the Holy Metropolitan Synod of the Patristic Calendar (the Old Calendarist Synod in communion with Metropolitan Evloghios of Milan), officially gave charge to Metropolitan Chrysostomos (Celi-Alemeida) for Ecuador and all Latin America after his formal reception of his diocese the previous Sunday. This was done with the concurrence of Metropolitan Evloghios of Milan, as well as Metropolitan Gervasios of Sofia and Bulgaria. The Tomos was promulgated in Greek and in English.
Three Latin American parishes previously under the Diocese of Spain (which have been directly under the oversight of Milan for the past year) were given the option to transfer to the new diocese, which already has eight parishes and over a dozen missions throughout Latin America. UPDATE (18:40 EST) The three parishes have been given to the Diocese of Seville. Information still pending.
Metropolitan Chrysostomos made the decision to join with the Synod of the Patristic Calendar after a good deal of research on True Orthodoxy and discussions with a number of jurisdictions. Recently, he issued an ecclesiological statement as the guiding confession of his Diocese, which is an excellent summation of Traditional Orthodoxy. We include it below, and wish Metropolitan Chrysostomos many years. The future of Orthodoxy in Latin America appears bright indeed.
The Orthodox Archdiocese of Ecuador, Central and South America, through its members and under the canonical protection of His Eminence, Archbishop Chrysostomos, make this formal, public statement on their criteria and concepts concerning the Orthodox community, both in general and in particular, to remove doubts or misunderstandings, and therefore states:
1.) We believe and confess that the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church, is the ONLY CHURCH revealed by God through His Son Jesus Christ incarnate, and is not a creation, nor product of the human mind. All we know about how we should be and act in this Church founded by Jesus Christ was preached by the Apostles, who left to us Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, and confirmed by the Holy Ecumenical Councils, where the bishops are the legitimate representatives of faith lived by the Christ-loving people who, in different ecclesial experiences, sought to unify and teach forever a single doctrine. In many cases this defense of the authentic faith that is so true and unchanged through the centuries, had to be marked and sealed with the blood of martyrs.
2.) Therefore, the original immutable and Orthodox faith, lived in our community faithful to Christ, expresses itself fully to us in the Orthodox Church, which is the true purification, illumination and glorification of every human being approaches Her and voluntarily asked to be part of Her. To meet these purposes, we argue that only by following the teachings of Christ (which became flesh and made these teachings, as a man and true God), his Apostles and the ancient Holy Tradition of the Church, the fullness of Life is reached. Therefore they can not be true followers if you remove or add anything to that teaching, and further the teaching that the Saints of the Seven Pan-Orthodox, Ecumenical Councils adopted over the centuries careful that those teachings are not changed or misinterpreted. So we accept and revere every one of the teachings of the holy and Ecumenical Councils held in the presence of representatives of all Christian communities of those times. Also we accept and revere the decisions of the Quinisext Council of 692, the First-Second Council of Constantinople held in 879 under St. Photios the Great, and the Tomos of the Synod of Blachernae given in 1351 under St. Gregory Palamas and the Holy Patriarch Kallistos I. We also revere and obey the decisions of the Pan Orthodox Holy Synods of 1583, 1587 and 1593, which condemn the “New” Calendar (instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582). And in addition to the above we accept and recognize as a monument to the Ecumenical Orthodox Catholic Faith, the Patriarchal Tomos, 1756 on the Baptism of the heterodox, and also to the Sigillion of the Synod of 1848 issued by the Patriarchs of the Christian East.
The mission of the Orthodox Archbishopric of Ecuador, Central and South America, is therefore among the faithful to continue the mission entrusted by Christ to his Orthodox Church and thus means to convey Divine grace (by which every human being can acquire and participate through the Holy Mysteries of the Church), the correct and complete confession of the Orthodox faith, and a continuous living of the commandments of God, offering the faithful a state of spiritual perfection, which we call sanctification and glorification, in unity with Him.
3.) The Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Therefore, do not recognize any heterodox church or religious community outside Her as a parallel expression of Catholic faith or continuation of the Church of Christ and the Apostles. We confess one baptism and the Eucharist, as Christ is one hypostasis, i.e. one Person. The Orthodox Church fulfills its mission of salvation for human beings through the Orthodox Faith, their actions, their vision, but above all by achieving the highest communion between God and man through the Divine Eucharist.
We believe that there is no division or splitting of the Catholicity of the Church as preached by the heresy of Ecumenism, distorting and corrupting that proclaimed by the true faith and tradition. We believe there is currently a move away from authentic Catholicity because of members who have fallen into error, or have separated from the original body of the Church. We therefore believe that ecumenism as conceived today is a great temptation for the Orthodox, who are called to imitate Christ in the desert and reject Satan, resisting the temptation to gain “favors” or “glory” , by way of “the kingdom of this world”, in exchange for his soul. For all the foregoing that the present concept of ecumenism has led to the error, and heresy to many Orthodox, who believe that the Church of Christ “need” to join with others who have fallen into error and are no longer part of the one Church of Christ in order to be stronger before the world, forgetting that the strength comes from God and not of earthly powers. We also believe that true Christianity to be far removed from that widespread spirit that now believes that everything is equal, and end up in syncretism, all because of the profound ignorance of the truth, as well as the experience of mediocre, and therefore unorthodox spirituality.
4.) Consequently, the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ecuador, Central and South America continues the Holy Tradition of the truth of the Orthodox Catholic Church with no innovations, and revere the holy strength and sacrifice of our predecessors who gave us this faith unchanged. We pray for Christians who are part of the new calendar to return to the sacred tradition taught by the Holy Ecumenical Councils, so that the fullness of communion restored between Orthodox Christians follow the sacred canons, and a single orthodox confession of faith. The calendar change was instituted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople unilaterally in 1924, starting with Greece being forced to adopt first to it, and then in other countries of the Orthodox tradition. Thus the process was uncanonical, and anti-Catholic against the leaders of local churches who simply imposed on them, and was also an act contrary to the ecclesiological principles of being Orthodox. The original unity of the Church has always expressed through the use of a single calendar, which was determined and expressed in the First Ecumenical Council, maintaining a single structure in relation to the liturgical calendar. The calendar change also affected the harmony of the outward signs of the Church, and ended up causing an adjustment to the parties of the heterodox churches. As well, changing the calendar came from a secular mindset– which always wanted to adapt to the West and considered the East as inferior–, in an era where there was a national disaster in Greece.
5.) The Orthodox Archdiocese of Ecuador, Central and South America is not affiliated or in communion with those churches that have accepted the calendar innovation (i.e., that have adopted the Gregorian calendar used by the Vatican), also has no relationship or fellowship with those churches that have fallen into the pan-heresy of Ecumenism. We recognize that in the early stages of the creation of our Archdiocese we admitted the use of the new calendar, as we began our life of faith under one set of Christians who used the new reckoning; however the experience of Orthodoxy, and the study and love of truth, has led us to make this final choice towards the full and authentic experience of the Orthodox faith, that is in intimate union with the application of the Orthodox calendar.
6.) The Archdiocese of Ecuador, Central and South America does not see itself as part of a “diaspora.” It is not a community of faithful living and longing for their homelands, considering the land where they are as strange. It is a faith community in a territory that is not overwhelmingly Orthodox, have had the blessing of God to know the true faith, thanks to immigration from other Orthodox faithful, and who united in one community, and without distinction or class, Orthodox profess the same faith, so that this territory is evangelized and thus being present throughout the entire Orthodox Church through the celebration of the Divine Mysteries, the Eucharist, offered by Bishop and surrounded by the college of priests, and God’s people, making it essentially a local church, being in full communion one from northern Central America, to the southernmost point of South America.
We also consider that between the “cradle Orthodox” and the “orthodox converts” there should be no difference of treatment, or demands, or rights. However, if we believe there are some who can be called “ethnic Orthodox” who ignore the call of Christ not to cause division (but hopefully not intentionally) create groups based on their nationality or race, or kinds of “ghettos” within the Orthodox communities themselves, then we invite them to break forever with this trend, which certainly leads to the sin of division or at least has to be separated by class members of an Orthodox community itself, something contrary to teaching the Gospel.
Consistent with the foregoing, and subject to the Holy Canons mentioning same:
At the Second Ecumenical Council, Canon # 2: “The bishops are not to go beyond their dioceses to churches lying outside of their bounds, nor bring confusion on the churches; but let the Bishop of Alexandria, according to the canons, alone administer the affairs of Egypt; and let the bishops of the East manage the East alone, the privileges of the Church in Antioch, which are mentioned in the canons of Nice, being preserved; and let the bishops of the Asian Diocese administer the Asian affairs only; and the Pontic bishops only Pontic matters; and the Thracian bishops only Thracian affairs. And let not bishops go beyond their dioceses for ordination or any other ecclesiastical ministrations, unless they be invited. And the aforesaid canon concerning dioceses being observed, it is evident that the synod of every province will administer the affairs of that particular province as was decreed at Nice. But the Churches of God in barbarian nations must be governed according to the custom which has prevailed from the times of the Fathers. “
In the Ist Ecumenical Council, Canon # 8, at its end reads “Wheresoever, then, whether in villages or in cities, all of the ordained are found to be of these only, let them remain in the clergy, and in the same rank in which they are found. But if they come over where there is a bishop or presbyter of the Catholic Church, it is manifest that the Bishop of the Church must have the bishop’s dignity… that there may not be two bishops in the city. “
In the Apostolic Canons, Canon # 34: “The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent; but each may do those things only which concern his own parish, and the country places which belong to it. But neither let him (who is the first) do anything without the consent of all; for so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.”
We believe that the presence in the territory of Latin American ethnic hierarchies, which have been uncanonically “steering” the faithful to “depend” on them for reasons of ethnicity, and taking advantage of true service to their brothers, have ended up creating Church structures pretending the right to claim which are the “only official Orthodox Churches,” ridiculing the validity of other Orthodox communities; this is actually damaging the existence of Orthodoxy in Latin America, first because among themselves they struggle to take each other’s faithful, and because they are in an area that they certainly would not hold– in some cases even their ecclesiastical title is one of an ancient city which no longer exists, adding “Exarch” as trustee of a given region, with the aim of uncanonically justifying their presence. They become a kind of new conquerors, and finally invaders.
Never do we deny that Orthodoxy, in countries where it is the official religion, is certainly closely linked to their history and cultural establishment of those ethnic lands; however, we must remember that Latin America is a land that has never been Orthodox, even if it is Christian and an undiscovered land for orthodoxy, therefore, would be a bad principle to establish churches outside the Latin American reality, considering even as unable or second class to the faithful and native clergy, and attempting to impose the most chauvinistic style, a reality that is foreign to them, on the contrary, if the orthodox doctrine, from 1880 has been practiced and lived by Latin Americans, the respective local hierarchy should come from within them, the local church. This would already have occurred with the presence of beautiful fruits of conversions to the churches had the identity of these countries been respected, and Orthodoxy had been preserved intact, allowing the emergence of vocations, priests and bishops themselves.
7.) At the call of some leaders to a Pan-Orthodox council, the Archdiocese of Ecuador, Central and South America, despite its few years of existence, and its small number of faithful (but larger in Latin America than the presence of any the self-proclaimed “canonical churches”) believes that this call, although by he who holds the title of “Ecumenical Patriarch”, is suffused with a new series of heretical tendencies, such as ecumenism, and we believe that for now that this the wrong time for that call– as there must really be a return to the free practice of the Orthodox faith after years of atheist oppression, as well as the reality of the reshaping of local churches in many countries. We believe as well that behind this call, there isn’t a principle of respect for the unity of Orthodoxy, as those have been called upon to participate are ONLY those who are considered “canonical” or recognized by the ecclesiastical powers that have now gained their power in relation to new heresies: “Sergianism”, “Ecumenism”, “phyletism”, completely ignoring the Orthodox communities, which for many reasons are not in full communion with the powers that be, and whether their ecclesiological principles, or because relatively new, have been ignored, thus making this call not the whole of the Orthodox Church, but only to certain stakeholders. Therefore we consider this call as invalid, incomplete, or at least hasty.
8.) The Archdiocese of Ecuador, Central and South America, imparts the Holy Mysteries and teaches its faithful members, according to the ancient Orthodox tradition. The Orthodox Church has always recognized only as valid, effective canonical and the Mysteries made within Her. Therefore, those outside the Orthodox Church (ie the heterodox, and non-Christians) who wish to become members of the Church, are accepted after they have rejected every heresy (especially those into which they have fallen) and receive baptism and anointing, except in cases where ecclesiastical economy has been permitted by the Holy Canons.
9.) We add in conclusion that the Orthodox Archdiocese of Ecuador, Central and South America, preaches the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and seeks to evangelize and re-evangelize in the traditional Orthodox Faith to every human being regardless of race, color or religion. And She considers the experience that during Her years of existence, of many who immigrated from Orthodox countries, for various reasons, that most have a lack of knowledge of their own faith– considered so indispensable–, and considers that faith should be taught without distinction, to help deepen Orthodox values, to avoid falling into a mere ritual, or worse a ecclesiastical “chauvinism”, which are the fruits of ignorance and lack of depth in knowledge of the faith. Obviously in the territory that God has given us, the Orthodox Church has a mission to perform, and aims to impart the light of Orthodoxy to those who allow it, without being fanatical proselytizing, which is quite contrary to true Evangelization, which begins by example.