Could Patriarch Kirill have gone any farther? Perhaps; he could have anathematized Esphigmenou. Amazingly, he reinterprets the term “Orthodoxy or Death” to be a choice for others outside oneself, implying that Orthodox traditionalists would kill, when in fact Kirill carries the distinction of being both a full agent of the Soviet government– responsible for the death of millions of Christians– and its the head of its highest office of ecumenism– the very reason traditionalists protest– at the same time.
Below is the article, as well as the history of the term “Orthodoxy or Death”, which means that it is better to be martyred than sacrifice Orthodoxy, from the excellent book “Ecumenism- A Path to Perdition”, available online. NFTU
(Itar-Tass) — Diplomats and hierarchs from Orthodox countries attended the Feast of Orthodoxy at the Savior Cathedral in Moscow on Sunday. The feast is celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine Rite to commemorate the return of icons to the churches.
Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill welcomed the ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus, as well as bishops of the Churches of Serbia, Antioch, Alexandria and others. In all, more than 2,000 Christians attended the service.
The Patriarch recalled that the holiday originated in the 7th century, when the opposition to the use of icons was defeated. “Heretic and hysterical appeals are still being made under the disguise of Orthodox purity, but Lord has never offered a choice between his teaching and death, Orthodoxy or death in contrast to heretic preachers,” he said.
Parishes divide sometimes in pursuit of leadership, the Patriarch said. He urged all the Christians to cherish Church unity.
…The sacred Esphigmenou monastery has in all respects become a zealot religious community. Along with the other monks-zealots, the monks of Esphigmenou steadfastly refuse to have any communion with the apostate Patriarch. For more than 20 years the tower of Esphigmenou monastery has displayed the flag with the words: “Orthodoxy or Death”. This God-loving monastic community, which is often cut off from the rest of the world and which has been more than once in danger of being seized by force or with the aid of perfidy. However, with the help of God and the protection of the Mother of God, the monastery keeps resisting those who exert every possible pressure upon it. “Its steadfastness bore fruit: police themselves were ashamed of the anti-Christian task which they were forced to perform.”
The Esphigmenou community has not only given hope to all the Orthodox world, and become a symbol of resistance to the anti-Christian evil, but has also become an example to be emulated.
The fact that the Esphigmenou monastery is a model of fidelity to Christ the Savior has a profound meaning for Russia, because the father of Russian monasticism, St. Anthony of the Kiev-Caves Lavra (+1073, commemorated July 10) was tonsured and practiced asceticism in that monastery, and brought from there “the rule of faith” and the image of true piety to the Russian land.
Following the example of the Esphigmenou community, all Orthodox Christians and their monasteries should inscribe on the tablets of their hearts the words of love and faithfulness to Christ: “Orthodoxy or Death”.