Serbian Patriarchate Furious at Breakaway Serbs in Austrialia

December 27th, 2012 As reported on its own website, the official government-sanctioned Serbian Patriarchate and its dependencies in Australia are very upset about the secession of the New Kalenich Monastery in Canberra, Australia. The Monastery and its backers, who had originally been part of the Free Serbian Church, recently withdrew their support for the ecumenist official Serbian Patriarchate, over theological issues. Patriach Ireneos made headlines in 2010 when he participated in Hannukah services, along with an Islamic Grand Mufti and a Roman Catholic bishop, by engaging in liturgical prayer services with non-Orthodox. The sacred canons (such as Apostolic Canon 45) specifically forbid such practices.

The New Kalenich Monastery choose to ally itself, instead, with the Synod in Resistance, which was in turn a break away Old Calendarist synod from the True Orthodox Church of Greece (though, the Synod in Resistance justifies its break from the True Orthodox Church on the grounds that the Church of Greece was in administrative disarray, though, as time continues, the Synod in Resistance may be re-absorbed back into the largest administrative jurisdiction professing to be the True Orthodox Church of Greece).  The Synod in Resistance, formally and officially distances itself from communion with the Patriarchates, but, has taken a less than normative stance by still affirming that the heretical Serbian Patriarch (heretical from the point of view of the majority of True Orthodox Christians) is still a true Patriarch and part of the Church.

The Serbian Patriarchate of course has given its own version of these events by claiming:

This “church” was created in 1984 in Greece, when a certain group of schismatics broke away from a schismatic group known as the “Auxentianites” and established the “Synod in Opposition”, as they continue to formally present themselves in public domain. This body is not in communion with the Orthodox Church.”

Nevertheless, despite the intricacies of the situation, the Serbian Patriarchate and its branch in Australia, continue to pursue legal avenues to seize the monastery from the anti-ecumenical monks.  The Serbian Patriarchate has stated that the Synod in Resistance, and the future enthroned bishop at the monastery, Bishop Ambrose, are not Orthodox Christians, and, strangely, even mentions Bp. Ambrose (Baird) in quotes by saying “bishop”. The Patriarchate states:

Unfortunately, not only have all of our invitations to repentance, return and reconciliation with the Church been ignored or rejected; but now with the announced “enthronement” of Mr Baird as “bishop”, instead of their canonical Serbian Bishop, they have conclusively and publicly exposed their intention to permanently estrange the New Kalenich Monastery from the Serbian people and the Serbian Orthodox Church.

What perhaps is odd about the mention of Bp. Ambrose in quotes, as “bishop” (which is something derogatory), is that the Serbian Patriarchate does not use the same quotes when speaking of Protestant and other non-Orthodox bishops or clergy. Even the Roman Catholic church, which has been a main persecutor of the Serbian Orthodox in the 1930s and early 1940s, is accorded such an honor.

The Patriarchate further comments:

We continue to remain hopeful that the planners and organisers of this intended blasphemous gathering will, in the interim, return to their senses and give up on their intentions and further desecration of the New Kalenich Monastery, as well as return to the Orthodox Faith and the Serbian Orthodox Church. However, we remain equally resolved to defend and preserve with all our might the Serbian Orthodox Church and to fight for the right to the Monastery, which was built by Orthodox Serbs, to remain sacred to Orthodox Serbs.

UPDATE: Bishop Ambrose of the new Free Serb Diocese (in Australia) under the Synod in Resistance, has issued a reply statement to the official Serbian Patriarchate’s statement.