The Universal Importance of the Anathema Against Ecumenism: Why the 1983 Anathema is a Principle of Unity for the Orthodox and a Cause of Separation for the Lukewarm

Main Matthewite Synod Issues Declaration
December 11, 2017
Predestination, St. Augustine, and Fr. Panteleimon by Vladimir Moss
December 17, 2017

The Universal Importance of the Anathema Against Ecumenism: Why the 1983 Anathema is a Principle of Unity for the Orthodox and a Cause of Separation for the Lukewarm

NFTU received the following request from the commenter “Diakrisis Dogmaton”:

“Please consider posting the attached PDF as an article on NFTU. It deals with a crucial topic, the official Anathema Against Ecumenism that was decreed by Saint Philaret and the entire Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in 1983. Despite all the jurisdictional controversies, all traditional Orthodox Christians should see in the Anathema a point of unity with other traditional Orthodox Christians. This is especially the case since it avoids the issue of the timetable of the loss of sacramental grace, but it does affirm that the heresy of ecumenism has already been judged.”

This is the pdf of the article AnathemaAgainstEcumenism-ForNFTU

28 Comments

  1. Justice forOrthodoxy says:

    I have always wondered to myself, since the GOC (both Matthewites and Florinites) has only condemned the state church of Greece for being in error have they thought that since the Anathema against Ecumenism was issued that there was no need for an official statement?

    • Maximus Scott says:

      The author of this post attempts to make the 1983 Anathema into the solution for all the problems that have beset the True Orthodox struggle.

      How a Synod which was in some limited form of communion with World Orthodoxy could set forth the dogma of True Orthodox ecclesiology is a mystery. Why should the GOC follow ROCOR’s lead when they were anathematizing ecumenists decades prior to 1983? Additionally, how could pillars of True Orthodoxy within the Synod Abroad like Met Vitaly and Archbishop Lazar, the founder of the RTOC, still explicitly affirm World Orthodox Mysteries after 1983?

      Why are there no heretics named in the Anathema so the Flock knows exactly who to avoid??

      True Orthodox Synods have accused each other of violating Orthodox ecclesiology from the beginning (ie Florinites/Matthewites) and continue to do so, which one is interpreting the Anathema correctly?

      These and other multiple issues make things much more complex than the “Anathema 1983 has all the answers” view can successfully handle.

      I don’t choose to debate if Diakrisis is right about World Orthodox going off the cliff. Hes definitely been completely wrong on his reading of True Orthodox history because he prefers to ignore the data that doesn’t conform to his simplistic views.

      • Diakrisis Dogmaton says:

        The correct interpretation of the Anathema includes that (1) those who advocate the Branch Theory Heresy and the Heterodox Mysteries Heresy have already been anathematized by a valid council, (2) all Orthodox should proclaim the Anathema on Orthodoxy Sunday, (3) communion with those who teach those two heresies should be cut off (if it has not been already), and (4) those who proclaim the Anathema need not agree on every detail concerning the timetable of the loss of grace in order to be in communion with one another. That could contribute to the communion between several synods that are already VERY close in faith and ecclesiology already. ROCOR under Saint Philaret gradually “tightened the bolt” on ecumenism (see all the official statements already posted, including the 1983 Anathema), including communion with the Florinites and the Matthewites and an attempt to facilitate their union. Metropolitan Vitaly was an equivocator, but he wrote a clear letter indicating that he believed that the MP had lost sanctifying grace. Metropolitan Vitaly also distanced himself from “Cyprianism” (Phyle-ism) at the end. The RTOC has a stricter stance today than Archbishop Lazar did. Ecumenism and relativism are worse today. There are answers to these non-dilemmas. These non-dilemmas should not be transformed into excuses not to act. The Anathema at the end of the original Nicene Creed did not mention Arius, but three heretical (Arian) assertions were anathematized, similar to 1983. Saint Cyril of Alexandria’a Anathemas mentioned false doctrines, not Nestorius (if I recall correctly), so there is good precedent for 1983. The branch-theory heretics and the heterodox-mysteries heretics HAVE gone “off the cliff” into heretical teaching. That is a simple fact. They have been anathematized by a valid council. That is a fact. Many of us are aware of the contradictions within historic ROCOR and other traditional churches. Many of the data that I am accused of ignoring are not dispositive, they do not contribute to and are not relevant to a solution. The key question is this: Are you under a truly Orthodox bishop who proclaims the Anathema in word and deed? That is the simple solution: Be under an Orthodox bishop who preaches Orthodoxy and does not preach heresy like Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch do. That is not being overly simplistic, it is called being Orthodox.

        • Maximus Scott says:

          Diakrisis,

          History bears out that your “simple solution” is not so simple since True Orthodox have been apparently been anathematizing each other over “non-dilemmas”. If they’re so close then why are there 4-5 groups of Matthewites, 2 groups of Florinites, HOCNA, 2 True Orthodox Romanian synods, various Russian splinters, etc, etc? It seems like you’re advocating some form of “branch theory” among the various True Orthodox: “If you’re an anti-ecumenist, you’re in… as long as you aren’t a World Orthodox anti-ecumenist.” I’m actually in agreement with you here but once synods promulgate decisions against one another then that view is off the table. Which one of these Synods has a truly Orthodox bishop? Hard for me to tell, especially when the anti-ecumenist True Orthodox synods are saying that World and other Trues are graceless. Unity is a sign of the power of Grace granted to the True Church. Where is the fruit of this outside of the recent GOC unification which has been criticized the world over?

          With all these anathemas and declarations of gracelessness abounding it basically voids anathemas of all seriousness and fearfulness, which they should have. It is not so plain to me where the Church is. Not all of us are graced with your gift of diakrisis.

          And as far as your reading of history goes, I still have to take serious issue with it. The Synodal Letter of Nicea plainly says:

          “First of all, then, in the presence of our most religious Sovereign Constantine, investigation was made of matters concerning the impiety and transgression of Arius and his adherents; and it was unanimously decreed that he and his impious opinion should be anathematized, together with the blasphemous words and speculations in which he indulged, blaspheming the Son of God, and saying that he is from things that are not, and that before he was begotten he was not…”
          That’s pretty plain.

          And as far as St. Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas, they were contained in his Third Letter to Nestorius, hence no mystery as to whom they are addressed, and they did not receive universal acceptance until Nestorius was anathematized by name by a Council.

          Again, if 1983 is the year all bets were off, how did the ROCOR bishops miss it? It’s not merely my interpretation, but also that of True Orthodox scholars as well. When Met. Vitaly repudiated the Anathema, none of his Synod fought him on it. Even MORE importantly, ROCOR was in communion with World Orthodoxy when they promulgated it. You can chose to ignore facts like those but I can’t.

          Let’s apply your interpretation:

          “(1) those who advocate the Branch Theory Heresy and the Heterodox Mysteries Heresy have already been anathematized by a valid council…”

          That means that ROCOR itself and hierarchs like Vitaly and Lazar are self-anathematized.

          (2) all Orthodox should proclaim the Anathema on Orthodoxy Sunday…

          ROCOR hierarchs did not proclaim it themselves according to Fr S Allen of the GOC. Not to mention, why should the GOCs proclaim it when they cut ties with World Orthodox decades before ROCOR??

          (3) communion with those who teach those two heresies should be cut off (if it has not been already)

          Again, ROCOR did not. And according to the RTOC, even the GOC have fallen under this fearful anathema. Btw, ROCOR was in communion with World Orthodox, two warring groups of Greek Old Calendarists and in reunion talks with the OCA at the same time. Met. Philaret was aware and the talks were accomplished through Frs Grabbe and Schmemann who were relatives. Look it up if you doubt this.

          (4) those who proclaim the Anathema need not agree on every detail concerning the timetable of the loss of grace in order to be in communion with one another.

          I give you a heart amen here. Once this happens there will be a flowering of Holy Orthodoxy. They don’t need to agree on the details, but since there is some sort of preoccupation in defining who has grace (see your own comments for an example) and anathematizing one another, there is still no unity.

          You are quite sure about the gracelessness of World Orthodoxy, but I prefer these views:

          “More specifically, with regard to the Mysteries celebrated in the so-called official Orthodox Churches, the True Orthodox Church, within the boundaries of Her pastoral solicitude, does not provide assurance concerning their validity or concerning their salvific efficacy, in particular for those who commune “knowingly” [wittingly] with syncretistic ecumenism and Sergianism, even though She does not in any instance repeat their form for those entering into communion with Her in repentance, having in mind the convocation of a Major Synod of True Orthodoxy, in order to place a seal on what has already occurred at a local level.” (GOC-K)

          “As no judgment by universal consent, as of yet, of the Orthodox has been rendered concerning whether the Mysteries of the World Orthodox Patriarchates are True Mysteries, no position can be forced outside of the rulings of local Synods and their requirements;

          As such no rash accusations of heresy should be leveled against those who take the positive position that the World Orthodox still retain the consecrating Grace of the Holy Mysteries…” (Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia)

          May Christ our God grant that ecumenism be crushed under the feet of the Church, and that the Flock be delivered from it!! Pray for me.

          • Justice forOrthodoxy says:

            HOCNA, the various splinter synods, and every Matthewite jurisdiction except the GOC-Stephanos isn’t True Orthodox. The actual TOC’s have a good reason to anathematize the schismatic groups.

          • Maximus Scott says:

            Justice,

            Thank you. Which group do you belong to? And why that particular one as supposed to others? Does your Synod anathematize other TOCs? I’m interested in the GOC-K in theory. Also, the clergy I know from the Autonomous Metropolia are staunch but gracious, which is a good testimony before seekers.

          • Justice forOrthodoxy says:

            Maximus,

            While I might seem like I belong to a group I myself am still inquiring. I was with the GOC-K until they united with the Cyprianites in 2014. I’m currently deciding between the RTOC (Tikhonites) the ROAC and the GOC- Stephanos. If you have an account on Euphrosynoscafe I would be more than happy to send you a PM about which jurisdictions are canonical and which ones are schismatic.

            In Christ,
            Justice

          • Maximus Scott says:

            Justice,

            I’m not on Euphrosynoscafe, but thank you for the info nonetheless.

          • Justice forOrthodoxy says:

            Maximus,

            That’s ok I can give you a short version here:

            Do not join:

            The synod under Gregory of Colorado
            Synod under Metropolitan Kyrikos
            Synod under Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Thebes
            Russian Orthodox Church in Exile under archbishop Vladimir
            Russian True Orthodox Church under archbishop Stephan
            The Milan synod.
            the GOC under archbishop Kallinkos (the Cyprianite union wasn’t truthful)
            HOCNA
            GOC under archbishop Makarios of Athens

            I hope this list helps you on your journey in True Orthodoxy.

          • Diakrisis Dogmaton says:

            This comment responds to Maximus, to “JusticeForOrthodoxy,” to the Vladimir Moss article, and to the Matthewite poster with screenname “Γ.Ο.Χ. Γ.Ο.Χ.,” since they all relate to one another:

            Saint Nikolaj (Velimirović) of Žiča had many “ecumenical” contacts and he did not break communion with “World Orthodoxy” by his repose in 1956. But he always affirmed the uniqueness of the one truth of the Holy Orthodox faith and he denounced relativism. He was always a supporter of the old calendarists in Greece and he offered to consecrate old calendarist bishops with Saint Chrysostom (Kavourides) of Florina, who reposed in 1955. Saint Nikolaj’s offer to Saint Chrysostom was a repudiation of the contrary policy of the Serbian Patriarchate and the State (new calendar) Church of Greece. Saint Chrysostom of Florina affirmed two key truths: (1) heretics and schismatics lose sanctifying grace in their “Holy Mysteries,” and (2) there can be some gray areas concerning the timing of the loss of grace, especially when a serious canonical error, such as the calendar change, might possibly be corrected. Many observers believe that if Bishop Matthew of Vresthena had not brought schism into the Greek old calendarists in 1937, the state church of Greece might have returned to the church calendar in the 1930s. Besides the three bishops who returned to the old calendar in 1935, there were an estimated 15 others in the state church synod who supported a return to the canonical calendar. The new calendarists in Greece were often strongly anti-ecumenist, at least until 1967 when the military dictatorship replaced Archbishop Chrysostomos (Chatzestaurou) with Archbishop Hieronymos (Kotsones). We need to remember that the new calendarist Archbishop Chrysostomos opposed Patriarch Athenagoras and approved of Saint Philaret’s protests against Athenagoras. Under the military dictatorship, 1967–1974, three state church metropolitans threatened to break with Athenagoras and one of them (Augustinos of Florina) reached out to the old calendarists, as did Patriarch Nicholas of Alexandria and Patariarch Diodoros of Jerusalem. All of these five eventually capitulated to the ecumenists more completely. After Athenagoras’s branch theory heresy was proclaimed, Saint Philaret wrote numerous letters, that were distributed to the entire Orthodox world, protesting the heresy of ecumenism. In 1983, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia anathematized (1) those who assert that Christ’s Church is divided into branches or denominations that differ in doctrine and way of life and (2) those who assert that the mysteries/sacraments of heretics are effectual for salvation. This Anathema also (1) avoided providing a timetable by which these heretics lose sanctifying grace, and (2) avoided “limiting” God in His ability to save or have mercy on those who may never have heard of true Orthodoxy in their earthly lives. Heresy can be defined precisely, whereas the later two issues should not be over-defined such as to place “limits” on God.

            The same year that the Anathema was issued, Saint Philaret’s article, “Will the Heterodox Be Saved?,” was published in English, which expressed some hope that some people who may never have heard of true Orthodoxy in their earthly lives might obtain God’s mercy. Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston’s series of articles titled Awake, Sleeper! and Father Panteleimon’s letter on that series (referred to recently in Vladimir Moss’s article at NFTU) were extensions of Saint Philaret’s main point. Metropolitan Ephraim and Father Panteleimon, although writing longer texts, were more cautious in wording than Saint Philaret. There is no way to accuse Metropolitan Ephraim or Father Panteleimon of error on this without accusing Saint Philaret, who was much bolder in his expression of this hope. Something roughly similar (about Hades) was expressed by Monk Augustinos of Saint Basil’s on Mount Athos in two articles in the periodical Hagios Agathangelos Esphigmenites. Dozens (even hundreds) of Orthodox texts (Scriptural, patristic, liturgical, and other ecclesiastical texts) teach that Christ can enlighten some souls after their earthly death and before the final judgment. Texts in English can be found in: “Passages from the Church Fathers and Other Orthodox Christian Sources Concerning Our Saviour’s Descent into Hades,” https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzJKrDVZPwcvWlRBRl9IcnJSdVRYOFhzZnN5UTlRYzRNRWln; and in Saint Philaret of New York, “Will the Heterodox Be Saved?,” http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/metphil_heterodox.aspx. Texts in ancient and Byzantine Greek can be found in: Ioannes N. Karmires, Ἡ εἰς ᾍδου κάθοδος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐξ ἐπόψεως Ὀρθοδόξου (Athens, 1939). Texts in Russian can be found in: Hilarion Alfeyev, Христос — Победитель ада: Тема сошествия во ад в восточно-христианской традиции ([2001]; 2d ed.; Saint Petersburg: Алетейя, 2005). Vladimir Moss gets all bent out of shape with “continuous” versus continuous “effect.” But we should all be able to agree that Christ’s destruction of the power of Hades and Christ’s preaching in Hades has an eternal effect. Time cannot limit Christ.

            It is misleading and a misrepresentation to look at this traditional patristic teaching and call it (inaccurately) “repentance in Hades” or “a second chance” or a descent “repeated.” Those are false views that have been rejected by the Holy Fathers, and by Metropolitan Ephraim and Father Panteleimon, who quote extensively from the Fathers. In this discussion, repentance from sin and conversion to the truth, need to be distinguished precisely — because the Holy Fathers teach both that (1) repentance (for sin) should occur before death and (2) there is posthumous conversion (to the true faith), for some souls. The pagans who accepted Christ’s enlightenment in Hades did so because they had not blinded themselves with outrageous idolatry, outrageous lust, and other such grievous sins during their earthy lives, as Saint Cyril of Alexandria says clearly (Vladimir Moss also quotes and agrees with that key passage). The soul’s capacity in Hades to perceive and accept Christ’s enlightenment is still based on one’s earthly life, as Saint Cyril indicates. That is why it must be repeated that it is inaccurate to mischaracterize this patristic doctrine as “repentance in Hades.” It is enlightenment by Christ’s truth and acceptance of, and conversion to, that truth. It is not “repentance” in the sense of a fundamental change in a soul’s character, from fundamentally evil to fundamentally good. It is also misleading to call this traditional patristic doctrine “a second chance.” The acceptance (or non-acceptance) of Christ’s enlightenment in Hades is tied to the one “chance” a soul had in his earthly life to avoid unrepentant practice of the most grievous sins on earth, as Saint Cyril also makes clear. What Christ adds in Hades is a preaching of the truth, the truth which the soul may never have heard on earth: souls are give one chance to accept the gospel, whether on earth or in Hades. Many passages from the Holy Fathers teach the Orthodox doctrine of posthumous enlightenment of some formerly-heterodox souls. Saint Anastasius of Sinai was of the opinion that those who were enlightened posthumously included the philosopher Plato. (Vladimir Moss likes this opinion and he agrees with Father Panteleimon on other key points.) This view on Plato is not a dogma of the Church, but it is present in Orthodox tradition. All Orthodox agree that those who claimed to be Orthodox but who taught Platonic-inspired heresies in place of Orthodoxy have been anathematized (Origen, Didymus, Evagrius, etc.). The idea of universal salvation is also anathematized by all Orthodox Christians. Nevertheless, the fact that Saint Anastasius and others believed that Plato came to faith in Christ (and obtained mercy, to some degree) is one more piece among countless pieces of patristic evidence that show that many Holy Fathers teach that some pagans receive enlightenment directly from Christ in Hades. To refer to a supposed “heresy of posthumous enlightenment” (as Father Panagiotes Carras and Metropolitan Moses of Portland and Toronto have) is to attack a teaching that is stated by several Holy Fathers. Posthumous enlightenment of some souls in Hades is a patristic teaching.

            Bishop Mathew of Vresthena made a grave error when he denounced Saint Chrysostom of Florina for expressing the true sentiment that there can be some gray areas in the timetable of the loss of sanctifying grace. This Matthewite spirit of un-Christian judgmentalism over theological opinions has now divided the Matthewites into five groups that denounce each other in exaggerated and slanderous terms such as “iconoclast” and even “anti-Christ.” On the other side, Metropolitan Cyprian (Koutsoumpas) of Oropos and Phyle made a grave error when he decided to polemicize (without naming names) against ROCOR’s Anathema Against Ecumenism. As recently as 2008, Metropolitan Cyprian (Gioules), the successor, stated that their group had “always been opposed” to the Anathema. At the time, Archbishop Chrysostomos (Kiouses) and his group said that it was “non-negotiable” that the Cyprianites need to endorse the Anathema. After Archbishop Kallinikos replaced the reposed Chrysostomos (Kiouses), a compromise formula was negotiated that intentionally avoided a clear affirmation of Saint Philaret’s Anathema. The Unia of Kallinikos-Cyprian-Agafangel-Vlasie-Eirenaios-Fotii made a huge blunder in not affirming the Anathema in clear terms. The communion or relationshiop with Eirenaios “of Jerusalem,” as limited as it may be, is a betrayal of the Faith. Matthewitism is an error. “Cyprianism” (or better “Phyleism”), which has influenced the Kallinikos synod, is also an error.

            For these reasons — and many, many others — I believe that the canonical Orthodox synod in Greece is that of Archbishop Makarios (Kavakides) of Athens and that the canonical Orthodox Church in North America is HOCNA, the Holy Orthodox Church in North America. Lastly, I need to refute the poster “Γ.Ο.Χ. Γ.Ο.Χ.,” when he falsely asserts that Archbishop Makarios of Athens adheres to the heresy of onomatolatreia (created-name-adoration or created-name-deification). Neither Archbishop Makarios’s synod nor HOCNA teach that created names (pronounced or written by human beings) are God or should be given divine-adoration. Over the last five years, HOCNA has issued very clear condemnations of this error. Here are some official texts condemning the error of onomatolatreia (created-name-adoration or created-name-deification):

            Metropolitan Ephraim, June 6/19, 2012: “if anybody (including Father Anthony Bulatovich) is guilty of … Deifying letters, sounds and random/accidental thoughts about God, … then he is certainly guilty of heresy.” HOCNA Synod of Bishops, August 29/September 11, 2012: “Our Holy Synod endorses and espouses the theological solution to the controversy surrounding the Name of God found in the following Encyclical of Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow ‘… not to deify letters, sounds and random/accidental thoughts about God.’ ” HOCNA Synod of Bishops, September 5/18, 2012: “We do not believe … That letters, sounds and random/accidental thoughts about God are to be deified.” HOCNA Synod of Bishops, September 27/October 10, 2012: “Orthodox Christians believe: … That created letters, sounds, and random or accidental thoughts about God must not be deified.” Bishop Gregory of Brookline, October 7/20, 2012: “When this Name is articulated in human words, it, of course, is not the Energy of God, but rather, it has the same holiness as an icon, and we may say that God’s Energy is present in this created (sacred) word.” Excerpts from Serge Verhovskoy, distributed by Metropolitan Ephraim, November 28, 2012: “The identification of a Name of God, as a [created] word, with God Himself is a heresy which was condemned by the Russian Holy Synod in the twentieth century. But God Himself can dwell and act in it.” HOCNA Synod of Bishops, 2017: “because human language is created and temporal, being a part of this world, the created names of God (that is, the words and concepts we use to express His uncreated Name) are not His Energy and therefore must not be deified. Rather, the created names of God are verbal icons in which Divine Grace dwells, without however being God Himself. By venerating (but by no means rendering absolute worship to) these names, we reverence them because of the eternal Truth about God contained in them.”

          • Maximus Scott says:

            Diakrisis,

            I completely agree with your post-mortem position. I offer Greek, Latin and Russian references.

            St. Gregory the Dialogist ca. 540-604

            For not far from his Abbey, there lived two Nuns in a place by themselves, born of worshipful parentage: whom a religious good man did serve for the dispatch of their outward business. But as nobility of family doth in some breed ignobility of mind, and maketh them in conversation to show less humility, because they remember still what superiority they had above others: even so was it with these Nuns: for they had not yet learned to temper their tongues, and keep them under with the bridle of their habit: for often did they by their indiscreet speech provoke the foresaid religious man to anger; who having borne with them a long time, at length he complained to the man of God, and told him with what reproachful words they entreated him: whereupon he sent them by and by this message, saying: “Amend your tongues, otherwise I do excommunicate you”; which sentence of excommunication notwithstanding, he did not then presently pronounce against them, but only threatened if they amended not themselves.

            But they, for all this, changed their conditions nothing at all: both which not long after departed this life, and were buried in the church: and when solemn mass was celebrated in the same church, and the Deacon, according to custom, said with loud voice: “If any there be that do not communicate, let them depart”: the nurse, which used to give unto our Lord an offering for them, beheld them at that time to rise out of their graves, and to depart the church. Having often times, at those words of the Deacon, seen them leave the church, and that they could not tarry within, she remembered what message the man of God sent them whiles they were yet alive. For he told them that he did deprive them of the communion, unless they did amend their tongues and conditions. Then with great sorrow, the whole matter was signified to the man of God, who straightways with his own hands gave an oblation, saying: “Go your ways, and cause this to be offered unto our Lord for them, and they shall not remain any longer excommunicate”: which oblation being offered for them, and the Deacon, as he used, crying out, that such as did not communicate should depart, they were not seen any more to go out of the church: whereby it was certain that, seeing they did not depart with them which did not communicate, that they had received the communion of our Lord by the hands of his servant.

            PETER: It is very strange that you report: for how could he, though a venerable and most holy man, yet living in mortal body, loose those souls which stood now before the invisible judgment of God?

            GREGORY: Was he not yet, Peter, mortal, that heard from our Saviour: “Whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in the heavens: and whatsoever thou shalt loose in earth, shall be loosed also in the heavens?” (Matt. 16:19) whose place of binding and loosing those have at this time, which by faith and virtuous life possess the place of holy government: and to bestow such power upon earthly men, the Creator of heaven and earth descended from heaven to earth: and that flesh might judge of spiritual things, God, who for man’s sake was made flesh, vouchsafed to bestow upon him: for from thence our weakness did rise up above itself, from whence the strength of God was weakened under itself.

            PETER: For the virtue of his miracles, your words do yield a very good reason. (Dialogues Bk. 2. 23)

            Niketas Stethatos ca. 1005-1090

            For the ungodly, we implore the pardon and remission of their faults, having fallen down in prayer before God, so that an alleviation of punishment might be granted them, so that they might benefit from a ray of God’s goodness for mankind and obtain His mercy and pity; to this end we offer alms and donations to the poor, supplications and prayers all night long, following the Apostolic tradition, and bloodless sacrifices for their intention; for we are indeed convinced that their intellectual feelings are affected by these and that they benefit from a slight respite in the afflictions that surround them, as the Apostles of Christ think and as revealed to numerous Fathers. (On the Soul, XIII, 77)

            St. Philaret of Moscow 1821-1867

            What is to be remarked of such souls as have departed with faith, but without having had time to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance?

            This: that they may be aided towards the attainment of a blessed resurrection by prayers offered in their behalf, especially such as are offered in union with the oblation of the bloodless sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, and by works of mercy done in faith for their memory.

            On what is this doctrine grounded?

            On the constant tradition of the Catholic Church; the sources of which may be seen even in the Church of the Old Testament. Judas Maccabæus offered sacrifice for his men that had fallen. (2 Macc. 12: 43) Prayer for the departed has ever formed a fixed part of the divine Liturgy, from the first Liturgy of the Apostle James. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: Very great will be the benefit to those souls for which prayer is offered at the moment when the holy and tremendous Sacrifice is lying in view. (Lect. Myst. v. 9.)

            St. Basil the Great, in his prayers for Pentecost, says that the Lord vouchsafes to receive from us propitiatory prayers and sacrifices for those that are kept in Hades, and allows us the hope of obtaining for them peace, relief, and freedom. (The Longer Catechism 376-377)

            In regards to Phyle-ism: it seems to me that “Cyprianism” is actually “Florinism”.

            Met. Chrysostomos of Florina:

            The error…rests on the misapprehension that the Old Calendarists adhered to the ancestral traditions because the New Calendar Church was deprived of Divine Grace from the outset, as the conventicler bishops say. This perhaps can happen to those who follow a conventicle. But the Old Calendarists who knowledgeably belong to our Orthodox segment are well aware that following the Old Calendar is not a corollary of the validity or invalidity of the Mysteries of the New Calendarists, a question on which a valid synod alone has the right to pronounce. It is, rather, an inevitable necessity if one is to avoid sharing in the New Calendarists’ responsibility for the innovation, and a shining example of the boundless reverence and the sacred and godly zeal by which the followers of our Orthodox segment are animated with regard to the venerable traditions of the Church.

            The demagogy and the opportunism of the contrary opinion lie, on the one hand, in the hope of attracting other converts to the Old Calendar, brandishing the invalidity of the Mysteries of the New Calendarists as a bugbear, and, on the other hand, in keeping these followers, and especially the gullible and lukewarm, in our sacred struggle. But the use of such demagogic and illegitimate means in order to hunt after followers for our Orthodox faction, while it may be permitted in the Latin Church, which has as an ethical maxim the Jesuit dictum, “The end sanctifies the means,” is not permitted by the Eastern Orthodox Church, which always teaches aright the word of truth. (A Clarification by Metropolitan Chrysostomos of His Pastoral Encyclical; Athens, January 18, 1945)

            How does “Phyle-ism” differ from early “Florinism” in your opinion?

            Do you think that Bp. Matthew’s adherents could say that he was right all long since the other Synods ended up agreeing with his view at a later time?

            Last question: in lieu of your admiration for ROCOR and the crimes confessed by Arch. Panteleimon, isn’t HOCNA a schism?

          • Maximus Scott says:

            Diakrisis,

            If you read “The Works of Rev. Nicholai Velimirovic” you’ll find some very, very scandalous sayings. Additionally, according to Fr. P. Viscuso in ‘A Quest For Reform of the Orthodox Church: The 1923 Pan-Orthodox Congress, An Analysis and Translation of Its Acts and Decisions’, a younger St Nikolai was in favor of a second marriage for widowed priests. V. Moss is of the opinion that St Nikolai was an ecumenist who eventually became a Confessor. I’ve found no source for the claim they at he sought to help the GOC. V Moss makes a similar claim but he has no footnotes or sources to corroborate the claim.

          • Maximus Scott says:

            Here are some quotes by St. Nikolai Velimirovich that are evidence of his ecumenical phase:

            …it would be much nicer for the Church to point out the saintly men outside of Christian walls, like St Hermes and St Pythagoras, or St Krishna and St Buddha, or St Lao-Tse and St Confucius, or St Zoroaster and St Abu-Bekr. Better even is unbptised saintliness than baptised earthliness.

            +++

            But why was the Church so weak as to be silent at a most fatal moment in history, and to have to listen to the Foreign and War Offices to know what the truth was? Because she was not a united, universal Church, like a lofty mountainous continent despising all the storms of an angry ocean around. She was weak, because she was cut in pieces and had become like an archipelago of small islands in a stormy ocean.

            …The Eastern Church proudly insisted on her superiority over all other Churches, because she preserved faithfully and unchangingly the most ancient traditions of Christianity, and because she had an episcopal decentralised system of Church administration, which has been capable of adapting itself to all political and social situations. She reserved perfection only for herself, and was prodigious in criticising other Christian communities. She became an isolated island.

            …The present agony of the Church has resulted from an illusion which has been common to all the Churches, i.e. that one of the Churches could be saved without all other Churches.

            …The door of Heaven is open for Christ only and for nobody else. And the mystical Christ does not mean one righteous man only, or two, or twelve, or one Church denomination, or one generation–no. It means milliards and milliards of human beings. All the Churches are inbuilt into His body. This building is yet far from being finished, still it is much larger and more magnificent than we think. It is larger than a denomination, it is loftier than our nation, or our race, or our Empire; yea, it is stronger than Europe. Consequently, the Church of England cannot be saved without the Church of the East, nor the Church of Rome without Protestantism; nor can England be saved without Serbia, nor Europe without China, nor America without Africa, nor this generation without the generations past and those to come. We are all one life, one organism. If one part of this organism is sick, all other parts should be suffering. Therefore let the healthy parts of the Church take care of the sick ones. Self-sufficiency means the postponement of the end of the world and the prolongation of human sufferings. It is of no use to change Churches and go from one Church to another seeking salvation: salvation is in every Church as long as a Church thinks and cares in sisterly love for all other Churches, looking upon them as parts of the same body, or there is salvation in no Church so long as a Church thinks and cares only for herself, contemptuously denying the rights, beauty, truth and merits of all other Churches. It is a great thing to love one’s Church, as it is a great thing to love one’s country, but it is much better to love other Churches and other countries too. (The Works of Rev. Nicholai Velimirovic, D.D.)

            He definitely evolved beyond these beliefs:

            http://www.pravoslavie.ru/87573.html

            God grant that our contemporary ecumenists can likewise repent.

          • Diakrisis Dogmaton says:

            Dear Maximus: Thank you for your polite comments. Please pray for me as well. Thank you for the “postmortem” texts. They are important. What HOCNA has said about “Awake, Sleeper!” is very mainstream Orthodox expression on the subject, over the centuries. I could post dozens of Scriptural, patristic, and liturgical texts on that, at another time. The First World War decimated the male population of Serbia, including the parish priesthood. Viscuso, of course, has a very un-Orthodox agenda. I do not know if Bishop Nikolaj, before he became more traditional, supported remarried clergy, as some Serbs proposed. Saint Nikolaj of Žiča’s offer to consecrate bishops with Saint Chrysostom of Florina is documented in Serbian-American, Florinite/Phyleite, and Matthewite sources (see “A Time to Choose” [Free Serbian Diocese, 1981]; “The Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece” [Etna, several editions]; and online postings of the then-Matthewite historian and archival researcher Stavros Markou). Saint Nikolaj’s support of the old calendarists when they had no bishops, from 1924 to 1935, sending consecrated myrrh (chrism) across the border, is also documented in the Serbian and Matthewite sources cited. No, HOCNA is not in schism. We need to remember that after Saint Philaret reposed and Metropolitan Vitaly minimized the Anathema and permitted a sea change in pro-Moscow talk and increased concelebrations with ecumenists, about 40 (!) ROCOR clergy from several nations (U.S., Canada, France, etc.) decided it was time to leave the vacilating Vitaly and to go under the confessing Archbishop Auxentios. Several of these clergy had little or no ties to Father Panteleimon, but they all correctly discerned a real change in ROCOR and their consciences told them that the right thing to do would be to go under Archbishop Auxentios. A few clergy were even ethnic Russians or Russian-leaning, but they left ROCOR because they wanted to maintain a correct confession of faith and not fall under their own Anathema. Good reasons. Reasons of faith. Dogmatic reasons. Canonical reasons. Bishop Gregory Grabbe, a pillar of ROCOR, also left ROCOR for the ROAC, for the same reasons. Especially important in this regard is the French-language mission of ROCOR. The clergy of this mission studied the issues in depth and their Orthodox consciences told them that they needed to leave ROCOR with its increased ecumenism and they needed to go under Archbishop Auxentios. The “liberals” in ROCOR, who were enabled by Vitaly’s weeknesses, wanted to destroy or at least weaken the anti-ecumenist witness of these 40 or so clergy. The liberals tried to weaken this witness, the liberals were ultimately reponsible for the split, and several years later they united with Moscow and the ecumenists. The suspicions (even predictions) of the confessing clergy that the liberals would eventually go under Moscow were eventually proven true! The sea change occurred with the repose of Saint Philaret and the election of the weak Vitaly, even though the final union with the MP took years. The anti-ecumenist witness of the confessing clergy continued, mostly under Archbishop Auxentios. One priest eventually went with the Matthewites, one with RTOC, etc., but overwhelmingly they went to Auxentios. HOCNA was loyal to Archbishop Auxentios until his death. No schism there. It was HOCNA bishops who buried Archbishop Auxentios along with a few from Greece. Father Panteleimon and then-deacon Demetrius uncovered the archbishop’s relics, which these witnesses reported were fragrent. Maximos of Cephalonia/Athens and Athanasios of Larisa left the Auxentian synod and went with rivals. HOCNA never, ever did this. The venerable Metropolitan Kallinikos of Lamia, along with Metropolitan Euthymius of Thessalonica, two “old Auexentian” bishops consecrated in the 1970s, admitted that going with Chrysostomos Kiouses for nine years was a mistake. The current Makarios synod and HOCNA have canonical descent from Auxentian ordinations in the 1970s (for the Greeks) and 1988–1991 (for HOCNA). There is much more more evidence that I could post at a later time. Lastly, I think that I posted more than enough quotations proving that HOCNA has never taught the heresy of created-name-deification or created-name-adoration, but, rather, HOCNA has condemned this heresy with very clear and patristic definitions, following Saint Tikhon’s resolution of the matter in the final five years of his life, which brought healing and reconciliation on that issue, following also the wishes of the Tsar-Martyr and Saint Elizabeth the Grand Duchess. P.S.: Saint Nikolaj’s final views on western relativism and liberalism are quoted in Father Justin Popović’s book, “The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism.” Yes, may today’s ecumenists return to tradition as Saint Nikolaj and Saint Chrysostom of Florina did. May God grant that. In the mean time, we should all gather under confessing bishops who anathematize ecumenism.

          • Maximus Scott says:

            Diakrisis,

            How does “Phyle-ism” differ from early “Florinism” in your opinion?

            Do you think that Bp. Matthew’s adherents could say that he was right all long since the other True Orthodox Synods ended up agreeing with his view subsequently?

            Lastly, it seems to me that Crete is the implementation of the plan promulgated and set forth in 1920, wherein the Ecumenical Patriachal Synod revealed their plan for the New Calendar, concelebrations with the heterodox and a new ecclesiological understanding of the heterodox as “churches”.

            Does it bother you at all that Met Chrysostomos of Florina and those with him didn’t protest this?

            I’m pretty sure his signature is lacking on the document, but what effect did this, being on the New Calendar for 11 years and his vacillating on grace have on his status as an Orthodox bishop?

          • Justice forOrthodoxy says:

            What metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina held was a view that he later repented of. Metropolitan Cyprian took this heretical view and made it an ecclesiology and didn’t repent of his heretical view. No True Orthodox Church except the Cyprianites agree with this heretical view. Metropolitan Chrysostomos even told his spiritual flock to go back under St. Matthew the new confessor.

          • Maximus Scott says:

            Justice,

            This creates serious problems. If he confessed heresy for years on end how could he still be Orthodox? Who accepted his repentance and Orthodox confession? How could he have the temerity to ask the Matthewites to “rejoin” him when they remained in the truth and he lapsed?

          • Justice forOrthodoxy says:

            “If he confessed heresy for years on end how could he still be Orthodox?” he told his spiritual flock to go under St. Matthew on his deathbed. Either way he repented and that’s what matters.

            “Who accepted his repentance and Orthodox confession?” The Bishops who were under Met. Chrysostomos after his death, they headed the Florinite GOC.

            “How could he have the temerity to ask the Matthewites to “rejoin when they remained in the truth and he lapsed.” as I said above, he later repented for his heretical beliefs.

          • Maximus Scott says:

            Justice,

            If he was in the heresy Florinism/Cyprianism for years and recanted on his deathbed then how could the GOC-K glorify him as a saint?

            There were no bishops under him when he died. The original bishops of the Greek Old Calendarists were not in communion with one another.

            Look at the last question carefully, Met Chrysostomos supposedly changed his confession of faith in an attempt to place the Matthewites under his authority. How could he even attempt such a thing when he should have been attempting to repent before them for committing heresy and harshly condemning their views, which he eventually admitted to be true.

          • Justice forOrthodoxy says:

            Your first question is complicated. The members of the former Synod in resistance who haven’t renounced their faith have pushed for the canonization of metropolitan Chrysostomos as a way to justify their Cyprianism. If your look at the GOC-K document regarding his glorification, you will see it doesn’t mention St. Matthew, who rightfully condemned his errors.

            Since metropolitan Chrysostomos didn’t leave a successor, the priests under him had bishops ordained for them by the ROCOR. Bishop Akakios took over the Florinite GOC.

            Forgive me for my previous error in my answer to this question. If I understand what your saying, it is true that he should have repented to St Matthew and his synod for his heretical views sooner, though I accept any repentance as long as its genuine. I do believe that metropolitan Chrysostomos repented if not, why would he tell his flock that he was wrong?

          • Justice forOrthodoxy says:

            Even if what you say about HOCNA not being in schism is true, HOCNA was schismatic from the beginning. It separated from the ROCOR for heretical reasons.

          • Maximus Scott says:

            I thought Fr Panteleimon admitted to sexually assaulting his monks. Lord have mercy.

            Didn’t HTM & Co. leave to avoid an investigation? I thought that was the standard understanding of that tragic situation.

          • Diakrisis Dogmaton says:

            A couple of thoughts: Bishop Nikolaj is trying to motivate Orthodox to struggle, to not be complacent, to not think that they are “worthy” just because they are in the true Church. Origen, Didymus, and Evagrius were anathematized (despite some good things that they wrote), whereas some saints believe Plato himself was saved or found mercy. More is required of those who have been exposed to the truth. That was Bishop Nikolaj’s pastoral purpose. in other words, we should condemn ourselves, not necessarily Plato and those who never heard the Gospel in their earthly lives.

            **

            SAINT ANASTASIUS ON THE POSTHUMOUS ENLIGHTENMENT OF PLATO

            Saint Anastasius of Sinai writes the following:

            Question 61: Should one also pray for the pagans [Hellenes] who finished their lives before Christ’s appearance, and not anathematize them?

            Answer: You certainly should not anathematize anyone who died before Christ came to dwell among us…. Indeed there is an ancient tradition that a certain lawyer had been cursing Plato the philosopher very much; then Plato appeared to him in a dream and said to him, “Sir, stop your cursing of me, because you are only doing harm to yourself. I do not deny that I was indeed a sinful man; nevertheless, when Christ descended into Hades [I Pet. 3:19], truly, there was no one who believed in Him sooner than I.”

            **

            AMMONIUS OF ALEXANDRIA
            (c. ✠ 230)

            “The academician Caesarius asked me whether the chains of all the souls in Hades [Sheol] were cut off when Christ descended there or not? I said that they were.”

            “How can that be?” said he. “Was Judas also set free?”

            “Yes,” said I. “For when the King of all is present, it is not possible for the tyrant and his servant — I mean death — to retain their captives any longer. So what did the Lord do? He died. He preached the way which leads to eternal salvation, on earth, and to all who were in Hades, so that they might believe in the Father and in Him, Who became man and died for us, and He descended into Hades by the power of the Holy Spirit. And those who believed He brought back with Him, but those who did not believe, He cast back again into their previous state.”

            “Did He also preach to Judas and give him a chance to repent?” [asked Caesarius].

            “I said that I did not think so, for it is superfluous to preach to someone who already knows the truth. Not only had Judas been instructed in the mystery and accepted it, but had even preached it to others and been considered worthy to receive Divine Grace, so that he could cast out demons and heal the sick. Later on, he fell away by his own choice. Do not tell me that he did evil unwillingly, for no Christian does that. Even Judas never blamed others for his betrayal, but recognized that it was his own fault.”3

            Catena in Epistolas Catholicas, ed. J. A. Cramer, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1840.

  2. Diakrisis Dogmaton says:

    Please re-read what I wrote about the real reason why approximately 40 clergy, from many nations, some unconnected to HTM-Boston, left ROCOR in 1986 to 1987 or so, for reasons of faith, including the ROCOR pillar Bishop Gregory (George Grabbe). Outside observers will confirm this correct interpretation of why so many, including some Russians, left ROCOR at that time. Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk specifically praises those who left ROCOR in 1986-1987 for reasons of faith and says all Orthodox should praise them. Amen! This is what Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk stated in 2016 about the correct Orthodox interpretation of the events of 1986 and 1987:

    <>

    This is my comment from 2016: Archbishop Tikhon (Pasechnik), the primate of the jurisdiction known as the Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC-Tikhon), issued an extremely important statement on ecclesiology on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 7/20, 2016. Although it is not perfect, the statement employs an Orthodox approach to some key issues — an Orthodox approach that ought to be adopted more broadly by traditional Russian hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and laity. The key point that we should take from the statement is that we all are obligated to follow the universal dogmatic and canonical norms of the Orthodox Church, not modern and local deviations from that tradition. In practice, this means that we should be reverent towards the history of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), but we also need to admit that its hierarchs made errors decades before the betrayal of 2007, when it united to the Moscow Patriarchate. A key historical mistake — a series of mistakes — was the weak and contradictory policies of Metropolitan Vitaly, in which he vacillated on ROCOR’s anathema against ecumenism proclaimed by all the ROCOR bishops in 1983 under Saint Philaret. Metropolitan Vitaly’s vacillation and weakness was so serious that Archbishop Tikhon states that the 40 clergy who left Vitaly in 1986–1987 were justified in leaving ROCOR at that time. This does not mean that all of ROCOR immediately lost the sanctifying grace of the Holy Mysteries at that time. Even more, this does not mean that the bishops in Russia and Ukraine who received apostolic succession from ROCOR — bishops of the RTOC and the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC) — ceased to be Orthodox just because they attempted to maintain communion with the waffling Vitaly. Both synods in Russia and Ukraine — the ROAC and the ROTC — eventually rejected the inconsistencies of Vitaly and proclaimed a more clearly traditional and patristic adherence to the anathema of 1983. In other words, the 40 clergy who left ROCOR in 1986–1987, as well as the ROAC and the RTOC who left ROCOR later, were justified in leaving. The differences in exact timing are less important than the overall fact that ROCOR betrayed the Orthodox faith, whereas the 40 clergy of 1986–1987, the ROAC, and the RTOC were all correct to resist that betrayal. They were all correct to separate from ROCOR’s betrayal of Orthodoxy. The betrayal was a process that took years, and the justified separations from ROCOR took years. Archbishop Tikhon’s statement is correct to condemn the false claims of the late Metropolitan Cyprian (Koutsoumpas) of Oropos and Phyle, who sometimes claimed that ecumenists, new calendarists, and Sergianists had not been validly condemned by the Orthodox Church yet, and that they were still clearly members of the true Church. I would only add here that one should not read Archbishop Tikhon’s justified condemnation of the Moscow Patriarchate and of “Cyprianism” in an overly legalistic — Donatist or Matthewite — manner. God is free to decide for Himself at what moment He withdraws sanctifying grace from those involved in a process of deviation from Orthodoxy. The exact moment when grace is lost is often not known to the earthly Church. See the 2003 statement on that issue by the Holy Orthodox Church in North America, https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzJKrDVZPwcvSGN5UmdRaERzWnc/, which is very balanced and patristic. It should bring joy to traditional Orthodox Christians that Archbishop Tikhon has issued a clear reaffirmation of Saint Tikhon’s and Saint Philaret’s condemnations of Sergianism and ecumenism. It should bring us all joy that Archbishop Tikhon has issued a statement that admits that ROCOR did have a diversity of opinions (some of which were not fully patristic), but that also reaffirms in no uncertain terms that the Sergianists and ecumenists have already been clearly rejected by the Church.

  3. Diakrisis Dogmaton says:

    CORRECTED FORMAT

    Please re-read what I wrote about the real reason why approximately 40 clergy, from many nations, some unconnected to HTM-Boston, left ROCOR in 1986 to 1987 or so, for reasons of faith, including the ROCOR pillar Bishop Gregory (George Grabbe). Outside observers will confirm this correct interpretation of why so many, including some Russians, left ROCOR at that time. Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk specifically praises those who left ROCOR in 1986-1987 for reasons of faith and says all Orthodox should praise them. Amen! This is what Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk stated in 2016 about the correct Orthodox interpretation of the events of 1986 and 1987:

    <>

    This is my comment from 2016: Archbishop Tikhon (Pasechnik), the primate of the jurisdiction known as the Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC-Tikhon), issued an extremely important statement on ecclesiology on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 7/20, 2016. Although it is not perfect, the statement employs an Orthodox approach to some key issues — an Orthodox approach that ought to be adopted more broadly by traditional Russian hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and laity. The key point that we should take from the statement is that we all are obligated to follow the universal dogmatic and canonical norms of the Orthodox Church, not modern and local deviations from that tradition. In practice, this means that we should be reverent towards the history of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), but we also need to admit that its hierarchs made errors decades before the betrayal of 2007, when it united to the Moscow Patriarchate. A key historical mistake — a series of mistakes — was the weak and contradictory policies of Metropolitan Vitaly, in which he vacillated on ROCOR’s anathema against ecumenism proclaimed by all the ROCOR bishops in 1983 under Saint Philaret. Metropolitan Vitaly’s vacillation and weakness was so serious that Archbishop Tikhon states that the 40 clergy who left Vitaly in 1986–1987 were justified in leaving ROCOR at that time. This does not mean that all of ROCOR immediately lost the sanctifying grace of the Holy Mysteries at that time. Even more, this does not mean that the bishops in Russia and Ukraine who received apostolic succession from ROCOR — bishops of the RTOC and the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC) — ceased to be Orthodox just because they attempted to maintain communion with the waffling Vitaly. Both synods in Russia and Ukraine — the ROAC and the ROTC — eventually rejected the inconsistencies of Vitaly and proclaimed a more clearly traditional and patristic adherence to the anathema of 1983. In other words, the 40 clergy who left ROCOR in 1986–1987, as well as the ROAC and the RTOC who left ROCOR later, were justified in leaving. The differences in exact timing are less important than the overall fact that ROCOR betrayed the Orthodox faith, whereas the 40 clergy of 1986–1987, the ROAC, and the RTOC were all correct to resist that betrayal. They were all correct to separate from ROCOR’s betrayal of Orthodoxy. The betrayal was a process that took years, and the justified separations from ROCOR took years. Archbishop Tikhon’s statement is correct to condemn the false claims of the late Metropolitan Cyprian (Koutsoumpas) of Oropos and Phyle, who sometimes claimed that ecumenists, new calendarists, and Sergianists had not been validly condemned by the Orthodox Church yet, and that they were still clearly members of the true Church. I would only add here that one should not read Archbishop Tikhon’s justified condemnation of the Moscow Patriarchate and of “Cyprianism” in an overly legalistic — Donatist or Matthewite — manner. God is free to decide for Himself at what moment He withdraws sanctifying grace from those involved in a process of deviation from Orthodoxy. The exact moment when grace is lost is often not known to the earthly Church. See the 2003 statement on that issue by the Holy Orthodox Church in North America, https://docs.google.com/fil…, which is very balanced and patristic. It should bring joy to traditional Orthodox Christians that Archbishop Tikhon has issued a clear reaffirmation of Saint Tikhon’s and Saint Philaret’s condemnations of Sergianism and ecumenism. It should bring us all joy that Archbishop Tikhon has issued a statement that admits that ROCOR did have a diversity of opinions (some of which were not fully patristic), but that also reaffirms in no uncertain terms that the Sergianists and ecumenists have already been clearly rejected by the Church.

  4. Diakrisis Dogmaton says:

    THIRD ATTEMPT

    Please re-read what I wrote about the real reason why approximately 40 clergy, from many nations, some unconnected to HTM-Boston, left ROCOR in 1986 to 1987 or so, for reasons of faith, including the ROCOR pillar Bishop Gregory (George Grabbe). Outside observers will confirm this correct interpretation of why so many, including some Russians, left ROCOR at that time. Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk specifically praises those who left ROCOR in 1986-1987 for reasons of faith and says all Orthodox should praise them. Amen! This is what Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk stated in 2016 about the correct Orthodox interpretation of the events of 1986 and 1987:

    <>

    This is my comment from 2016: Archbishop Tikhon (Pasechnik), the primate of the jurisdiction known as the Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC-Tikhon), issued an extremely important statement on ecclesiology on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 7/20, 2016. Although it is not perfect, the statement employs an Orthodox approach to some key issues — an Orthodox approach that ought to be adopted more broadly by traditional Russian hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and laity. The key point that we should take from the statement is that we all are obligated to follow the universal dogmatic and canonical norms of the Orthodox Church, not modern and local deviations from that tradition. In practice, this means that we should be reverent towards the history of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), but we also need to admit that its hierarchs made errors decades before the betrayal of 2007, when it united to the Moscow Patriarchate. A key historical mistake — a series of mistakes — was the weak and contradictory policies of Metropolitan Vitaly, in which he vacillated on ROCOR’s anathema against ecumenism proclaimed by all the ROCOR bishops in 1983 under Saint Philaret. Metropolitan Vitaly’s vacillation and weakness was so serious that Archbishop Tikhon states that the 40 clergy who left Vitaly in 1986–1987 were justified in leaving ROCOR at that time. This does not mean that all of ROCOR immediately lost the sanctifying grace of the Holy Mysteries at that time. Even more, this does not mean that the bishops in Russia and Ukraine who received apostolic succession from ROCOR — bishops of the RTOC and the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC) — ceased to be Orthodox just because they attempted to maintain communion with the waffling Vitaly. Both synods in Russia and Ukraine — the ROAC and the ROTC — eventually rejected the inconsistencies of Vitaly and proclaimed a more clearly traditional and patristic adherence to the anathema of 1983. In other words, the 40 clergy who left ROCOR in 1986–1987, as well as the ROAC and the RTOC who left ROCOR later, were justified in leaving. The differences in exact timing are less important than the overall fact that ROCOR betrayed the Orthodox faith, whereas the 40 clergy of 1986–1987, the ROAC, and the RTOC were all correct to resist that betrayal. They were all correct to separate from ROCOR’s betrayal of Orthodoxy. The betrayal was a process that took years, and the justified separations from ROCOR took years. Archbishop Tikhon’s statement is correct to condemn the false claims of the late Metropolitan Cyprian (Koutsoumpas) of Oropos and Phyle, who sometimes claimed that ecumenists, new calendarists, and Sergianists had not been validly condemned by the Orthodox Church yet, and that they were still clearly members of the true Church. I would only add here that one should not read Archbishop Tikhon’s justified condemnation of the Moscow Patriarchate and of “Cyprianism” in an overly legalistic — Donatist or Matthewite — manner. God is free to decide for Himself at what moment He withdraws sanctifying grace from those involved in a process of deviation from Orthodoxy. The exact moment when grace is lost is often not known to the earthly Church. See the 2003 statement on that issue by the Holy Orthodox Church in North America, https://docs.google.com/fil…, which is very balanced and patristic. It should bring joy to traditional Orthodox Christians that Archbishop Tikhon has issued a clear reaffirmation of Saint Tikhon’s and Saint Philaret’s condemnations of Sergianism and ecumenism. It should bring us all joy that Archbishop Tikhon has issued a statement that admits that ROCOR did have a diversity of opinions (some of which were not fully patristic), but that also reaffirms in no uncertain terms that the Sergianists and ecumenists have already been clearly rejected by the Church.

  5. Diakrisis Dogmaton says:

    FOURTH ATTEMPT. If this is still garbled, the quotation can be found in the FORUM under “Archbishop Tikhon.”

    Please re-read what I wrote about the real reason why approximately 40 clergy, from many nations, some unconnected to HTM-Boston, left ROCOR in 1986 to 1987 or so, for reasons of faith, including the ROCOR pillar Bishop Gregory (George Grabbe). Outside observers will confirm this correct interpretation of why so many, including some Russians, left ROCOR at that time. Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk specifically praises those who left ROCOR in 1986-1987 for reasons of faith and says all Orthodox should praise them. Amen! This is what Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk stated in 2016 about the correct Orthodox interpretation of the events of 1986 and 1987:

    “Now it is necessary first to explain Metropolitan Vitaly’s interpretation of the 1983 anathema in his Nativity Epistle, and then to demonstrate how ROCOR – including Metropolitan Vitaly himself a few years later – rejected this interpretation. In his Nativity Epistle Metropolitan Vitaly declared that the anathema of 1983 had no universal significance, but could be applied only to members of ROCOR who held ecumenist views. However, such an interpretation is absurd. First, it contradicts the text of the 1983 anathema, which is clearly universal in meaning. Secondly, if Metropolitan Vitaly’s interpretation were true, it would mean that an old woman of ROCOR who believed that the Catholics were in the Church would be under anathema, while the leaders of the World Council of Churches would not, which trivializes the anathema and is clearly contrary to its whole historical context and purpose. Thirdly, it contradicts the nature of anathemas in general: if an anathema is valid, it expresses the unchanging decision of God with regard to something that is eternally false; it is necessarily applicable at all times and in all places. If a teaching is heretical, and therefore subject to anathema, it clearly remains heretical and subject to anathema whoever utters it. For a heresy is eternally and universally false; it makes no sense to assert that the heresy is anathematized in one person but not in another. The application of this anathema was self-evident: since the Moscow Patriarchate was a full member of the WCC, then it was under anathema and consequently deprived of the grace of sacraments. “There is no heresy without heretics and their practical activity. The WCC in its declarations says: ‘The Church confesses’, ‘the Church teaches’, “the Church does this’, ‘the Church does that’… In this way the WCC witnesses that it confesses itself to be not simply a council of churches, but the One Church. And all those who are members of the WCC are members of this one false church, this synagogue of satan. And by this their participation in the WCC all the Local Orthodox Churches fall under the anathema of ROCOR of 1983 and fall away from the True Church. Among these is the MP.” Fortunately, Metropolitan Vitaly later renounced his perverted interpretation of the 1983 anathema, and in 1998 reiterated it in its natural sense – while clearly declaring that the MP was outside the Church….. At the Third All-Diaspora Council in Jordanville in 1974 a sharp conflict arose between St. Philaret and his supporters, on the one hand (that is, those who wished finally to break communion with apostate World Orthodoxy), and Archbishop Anthony of Geneva and those who wanted to remain in communion with World Orthodoxy, on the other. The struggle between these two camps became so sharp that St. Philaret confided to Protopresbyter George (later Bishop Gregory) Grabbe that he wanted to retire, so isolated did he feel among the other bishops. He had some supporters, such as Archbishops Averky (Taushev) and Andrei (Rymarenko), his spiritual father; but after the death of these, he was supported openly by very few. Among these few was the Secretary of the Synod, Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), the Greek-American monastery of the Holy Transfiguration, Boston, and a large number of Greek and American parishes that followed their lead. These “Bostonites” protested particularly against the ecumenist activities of Archbishop Anthony of Geneva, who, even after the anathema against ecumenism of 1983, concelebrated with clergy of churches that were under anathema, such as the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Serbian Patriarchate. Already in the 1970s several West European parishes left him and joined the Greek Old Calendarists for this reason. The Paris Mission of ROCOR under its highly respected leader, Archimandrite Ambroise (Frontier), protested strongly about this to Metropolitan Vitaly, but the metropolitan did nothing. The result was that the Paris Mission left ROCOR… Similarly, in 1986-87 two monasteries and about 40 parishes, convinced that Metropolitan Vitaly was not strong enough to act against the ecumenist hierarchs inside ROCOR, also left and their clergy were defrocked. Among those defrocked was Protopresbyter Victor Melehov. Fr. Victor and his fellow priests were defrocked for leaving hierarchs that were in communion with heretics. He should be praised for his zeal for the faith, and his defrocking should be recognized as invalid. Metropolitan Vitaly did precisely that in 2001, thereby recognizing his mistake of 14 years earlier; and all Russian Christians should follow his example.”

    This is my comment from 2016: Archbishop Tikhon (Pasechnik), the primate of the jurisdiction known as the Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC-Tikhon), issued an extremely important statement on ecclesiology on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 7/20, 2016. Although it is not perfect, the statement employs an Orthodox approach to some key issues — an Orthodox approach that ought to be adopted more broadly by traditional Russian hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and laity. The key point that we should take from the statement is that we all are obligated to follow the universal dogmatic and canonical norms of the Orthodox Church, not modern and local deviations from that tradition. In practice, this means that we should be reverent towards the history of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), but we also need to admit that its hierarchs made errors decades before the betrayal of 2007, when it united to the Moscow Patriarchate. A key historical mistake — a series of mistakes — was the weak and contradictory policies of Metropolitan Vitaly, in which he vacillated on ROCOR’s anathema against ecumenism proclaimed by all the ROCOR bishops in 1983 under Saint Philaret. Metropolitan Vitaly’s vacillation and weakness was so serious that Archbishop Tikhon states that the 40 clergy who left Vitaly in 1986–1987 were justified in leaving ROCOR at that time. This does not mean that all of ROCOR immediately lost the sanctifying grace of the Holy Mysteries at that time. Even more, this does not mean that the bishops in Russia and Ukraine who received apostolic succession from ROCOR — bishops of the RTOC and the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC) — ceased to be Orthodox just because they attempted to maintain communion with the waffling Vitaly. Both synods in Russia and Ukraine — the ROAC and the ROTC — eventually rejected the inconsistencies of Vitaly and proclaimed a more clearly traditional and patristic adherence to the anathema of 1983. In other words, the 40 clergy who left ROCOR in 1986–1987, as well as the ROAC and the RTOC who left ROCOR later, were justified in leaving. The differences in exact timing are less important than the overall fact that ROCOR betrayed the Orthodox faith, whereas the 40 clergy of 1986–1987, the ROAC, and the RTOC were all correct to resist that betrayal. They were all correct to separate from ROCOR’s betrayal of Orthodoxy. The betrayal was a process that took years, and the justified separations from ROCOR took years. Archbishop Tikhon’s statement is correct to condemn the false claims of the late Metropolitan Cyprian (Koutsoumpas) of Oropos and Phyle, who sometimes claimed that ecumenists, new calendarists, and Sergianists had not been validly condemned by the Orthodox Church yet, and that they were still clearly members of the true Church. I would only add here that one should not read Archbishop Tikhon’s justified condemnation of the Moscow Patriarchate and of “Cyprianism” in an overly legalistic — Donatist or Matthewite — manner. God is free to decide for Himself at what moment He withdraws sanctifying grace from those involved in a process of deviation from Orthodoxy. The exact moment when grace is lost is often not known to the earthly Church. See the 2003 statement on that issue by the Holy Orthodox Church in North America, https://docs.google.com/fil…, which is very balanced and patristic. It should bring joy to traditional Orthodox Christians that Archbishop Tikhon has issued a clear reaffirmation of Saint Tikhon’s and Saint Philaret’s condemnations of Sergianism and ecumenism. It should bring us all joy that Archbishop Tikhon has issued a statement that admits that ROCOR did have a diversity of opinions (some of which were not fully patristic), but that also reaffirms in no uncertain terms that the Sergianists and ecumenists have already been clearly rejected by the Church.

  6. Diakrisis Dogmaton says:

    THE MAINSTREAM OF THE TRUE ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS
    True Orthodox Christians, sadly, are divided into several jurisdictions or synods of bishops. Despite this, it is possible to identity a good mainstream and to identify two bad extremes that should be avoided. The first bad extreme is Mathewitism, which condemned up to 90 percent of the True Orthodox Christians in Greece because they followed Saint Chrysostom of Florina. Later-Mathewitism also essentially rejected Saint Philaret the New Confessor of New York, because of real errors that some of the saint’s fellow Russian bishops made. The 1992 Matthewite encyclical is a horrific example of innovation: it puts severe limits on traditional icons and makes innovative icons mandatory. It is very wrong to condemn traditional icons and limit their use and prefer non-traditional icons. The Matthewites have split into five groups and their harsh polemics are often slanderous. Saint Chrysostom of Florina’s statements need to be looked at broadly and put together. He taught that (1) heretics and schismatics lose sanctifying grace in their Mysteries and (2) there can be some gray areas, at times. There is no ultimate contradition in that. That is what the tradition of the Church teaches. Broadly and ultimately, Saint Chrysostom of Florina was correct. The second bad extreme is often identified as “Cyprianism,” but I would identify it more specifically as maintaining communion with ecumenist heretics who fall under the Anathema of 1983. Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Phyle maintained communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) well after the repose of Saint Philaret and the increase in forbidden concelebrations with the anathematized ecumenists. Even worse, the Milan synod and the Avlona synod maintained communion with ecumenist Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Montenegrins, and Italians. That is very, very wrong. Sadly, the Kallinkos-Cyprian-Vlasie-Agafangel-Eirenaios-Fotii communion maintains a limited form of communion with the deposed ecumenist “Patriarch of Jerusalem” Eirenaios, through a few Agafangelite churches commemorating Eirenaios and through Metropolitan Agafangel’s asking for Eirenaios’s blessing. That situation is wrong. Some in the Kallinkos synod say that Saint Philaret’s 1983 Anathema Against Ecumenism will be the/a basis of a future decision of their synod(s) condemning ecumenism. That would be 35 years later than when it should have happened, ideally, but it would be a good step if they did that soon. The protests against the relationship with Eirenaios should continue! Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk was correct to praise the 40 clergy who left ROCOR in 1986–1987. ROAC and RTOC who left ROCOR later, were justified in leaving. The differences in exact timing are less important than the overall fact that ROCOR betrayed the Orthodox faith, whereas the 40 clergy of 1986–1987, the ROAC, and the RTOC were all correct to resist that betrayal. They were all correct to separate from ROCOR’s betrayal of Orthodoxy starting in 1986. The Lamian-Makarian synod has always had a strong confession of faith.

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