Archbishop Kallinikos’s Betrayal of Saint Philaret’s Legacy:
The March 2014 Ecclesiology Statement
It has now been over one year since the Greek old calendar synod of Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Phyle united with the Greek old calendar synod under Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens in March 2014. A few days after that union, the Romanian old calendar synod under Metropolitan Vlasie and the tiny Russian fragment under Metropolitan Agafangel entered into full communion with the united Greek synod of Kallinikos-Cyprian. After a delay of many months, the Bulgarian Bishop Photiy of Triaditza (Sofia) also entered into full communion with these Russian, Romanian, and Greek synods. To mark the one year anniversary of the union, Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Phyle distributed a document arguing that the union was the will of God. There are, however, several problems with this union — problems of a dogmatic nature. The union’s unclear teaching on the dogma of the unity of the Church and its unclear teaching on the heretical nature of the Branch Theory are two of the problems of a dogmatic nature.
Several traditional Orthodox synods — the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, the Russian True Orthodox Church under Archbishop Tikhon, and the True Orthodox synod in Greece under Archbishop Makarios of Athens — have criticized the union because of the unclear confession of faith against ecumenism that is contained in the union’s declaration on ecclesiology. The union document glaringly refused to give clear agreement to the validity of the judgment against ecumenism proclaimed by the entire Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia under Saint Philaret the New Confessor in 1983. Without such a clear statement, the union document confuses, and indeed, betrays the faithful Christians.
In addition to the bold criticism of the union by the Greek and Russian synods mentioned above, Bishop Akakije of the True Orthodox Church of Serbia, was also critical, but weakly. He may have felt constrained to moderate his criticisms because of his hopes for recognition from Archbishop Kallinkos of Athens. Bishop Akakije of Serbia is in communion with Archbishop Tikhon’s synod in Russia, but Bishop Akakije desperately also wants (eventually) to receive recognition from Archbishop Kallinikos’s synod in Greece. Currently, Archbishop Kallinikos will not release his followers in Serbia and Bosnia to unite under Bishop Akakije’s synod of two bishops. Bishop Akakije expressed hope that the union would constitute a final burial of both of the extremes of Matthewitism and Cyprianitism. However, he was critical towards what the union did with respect to the Russian traditional Orthodox. Bishop Akakije’s affiliated blog reported: “Bishop Akakije, on the other hand, does find fault with the questionable canonicity of the Synod of Metropolitan Agathangel in relation to the True Churches of Russian origin, the RTOC and ROAC. The hasty and unconsidered reception into communion of Agathangel, Bishop Akakije states, could complicate the future discussions concerning the Greek, Romanian, Bulagarian TOC’s entering into communion with the Churches above mentioned, which will themselves sometime in the near future surely unite into a powerful unified Russian TOC, without which a Great Council of the True Orthodox Church would be incomplete, whose summoning was mentioned in the document referred to above, the joint ecclesiological statement of the newly united Churches, entitled ‘The True Orthodox Church in Opposition to the Heresy of Ecumenism: Dogmatic and Canonical Issues’. Metropolitan Agathangel surely cannot represent the Russian Church Abroad nor the True Orthodox Church in Russia. Bishop Akakije hopes that the Greek hierarchs are keeping this in mind” (http://serbiantrueorthodox.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-greek-toc-under-archbishop.html#more).
The March 2014 union document has been extremely controversial. It leaves an opening for the false opinion that a so-called “major Pan-Orthodox synod” (which may never occur in reality) is necessary to condemn definitively the Branch Theory heresy and the Heterodox Sacraments heresy that are clearly taught by the ecumenists. We do not need a new super-synod to meet to do this. What we need is for the existing synods of Kallinikos, Vlasie, Photiy, and Agafangel to accept Saint Philaret’s 1983 anathema against ecumenism — a final judgment that all True Orthodox Christians are obligated to accept and which these bishops have refused to accept in a clear way. Until these synods do this, they should abstain from proclaiming to the world — in a self-congratulatory manner — that they are following the will of God.
For True Orthodox Christians, the will of God was proclaimed through Saint Philaret’s judgment. It needs to be accepted, not as a mere “warning,” but as a valid judgment that has been accepted by the entire Orthodox Church. Otherwise, the synods that refuse to do so will be rejected by True Orthodox Christians in Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Serbia and Bosnia, Cyprus, and throughout the diaspora who have a clearer confession of Orthodox faith and a clearer Orthodox ecclesiology, than the Kallinikos-Cyprian union does.
Other, practical steps are necessary to convince True Orthodox Christians that the bishops of the Kallinikos-Cyprian union are sincere. One necessary step is to break all ecclesiastical relations with the ecumenist “Patriarch Irenaeus.” Another necessary step is a clearly-implemented policy of not giving Holy Communion to the followers of ecumenist bishops. If the bishops under Kallinikos-Cyprian, Vlasie, Agafangel, and Photiy took these Orthodox steps, then maybe they could claim to be following the True Orthodox faith — and following the will of God, as they now claim to be doing.
There are documents that have been released on the Internet that indicate that this betrayal had a hidden aspect: a continuing, uncanonical relationship with ecumenist “World Orthodoxy” through Metropolitan Agafangel and the deposed Patriarch Irenaeus of Jerusalem.
In one such document, from the Kallinikos synod itself, we basically have an admission that the Kallinikite-Cyprianite synod already has a limited connection to “World Orthodoxy” through the Agafangelites in the Holy Land who commemorate Irenaeus. The Cyprianites, in the past, used to brag about their connections to Diodoros of Jerusalem, Nicholas of Alexandria, and Augustinos of Florina—the last two being new calendarists. Chrysostomos Kiouses participated with Jerusalem once and did not fullfill the penance he was given by Archbishop Auxentios. Agafangel committed outright treason against Metropolitan Vitaly, Metropolitaan Valentine, and Archbishop Tikhon in the way he went along with Laurus’s treachery with Moscow, only to bolt at the very last second and created another ROCOR fragment. The recent Kallinikite/Cyprianite document defending the union does not deal adequately at all with the question of whether Agafangel’s group might accept the validity of heterodox sacraments. For many years Cyprian was in communion with ROCOR when it was in comunion with the ecumenist Serbs. The Cyprianites’ former bishop in Georgia gives the impression of being a wannabe member of Ecumenist “Orthodoxy” who was separated due to war, not issues of faith. Orthodox Christians with discernment should protest this unia and the ambiguous ecclesiology statement that permites this ambiguous connection of Kallinikos with Jerusalem and “World Orthodoxy.”
Many Orthodox Christians believe, with justification, that the Kallinikos-Cyprian union was a betrayal. This is believed both by Orthodox under the union and other traditional Orthodox Christians outside the union. The Matthewites, although they are fragmented into at least four groups, clearly have always opposed the type of ecclesiological ambiguity that that union document of March 2014 exhibits. The mainstream Matthewite group, now under Archbishop Stephanos of Athens, may have given up a fanatical opposition to all things “Florinite.” But they would be right to criticize this hijacking of the Florinite tradition in the direction of Phyle’s errors. Other mainstream (non-Matthewite) traditional Orthodox synods: the synod of Archbishop Makarios of Athens, the Russian True Orthodox Church, and the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, have all rightly criticized the union document. The union allowed Metropolitan Agafangel to maintain ecclesiastical relations with the deposed (and ecumenist) Patriarch Irenaeus of Jerusalem. When the Kallinikos synod warned Agafangel about this, he justified this betrayal with excuses. He even claimed a “blessing” from Irenaeus for a recent episcopal consecration. Agafangel is not separate from the ecumenists, and the new Kallinikos-Cyprianite synod does not care enough about the Faith to correct the betrayal. If the Kallinikos synod really gave priority to an Orthodox confession of faith, then it would have re-started discussions with the Russian True Orthodox Church, or, it should have dropped some of its un-Christian hostility to the synod of Archbishop Makarios in Greece. Archbishop Makarios (who was consecrated by the venerable Metropolitan Kallinikos [Chaniotes] of Phthiotis [Lamia] and Thaumakos), has always maintained a clear confession of faith, as opposed to the Cyprianites, who have not. The Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, which was stabbed in the back by Agafangel, also is not guilty of supporting the errors of Phyle, as Agafangel has been. Archbishop Kallinikos chose to negotiate with the Cyprianites because they are wishy-washy. Archbishop Kallinikos spurned those synods that have a firm confession of faith against ecumenism.
Even within the union, there is opposition. There is evidence that the Romanians involved in the union saw the inadequacy of the union document and they applied pressure for clarifications (later put into the new footnotes in the July re-release) that were more positive towards Saint Philaret’s Anathema against Ecumenism. However, neither the March version nor the July version actually accepts Saint Philaret’s Anathema as a final judgment. Now, Bishop Clement of Gardikion, one of the secretaries and spokesmen for the synod, says that the supposedly-future major synod of true Orthodox should use the Anathema as the basis for its own judgment against ecumenism. The problem is that Bishop Clement and the Kallinikos-Cyprianite union is 30 years behind. The Anathema was valid (and final) in 1983. If the Kallinikite-Cyprianite bishops finally adopt it down the road, they will only be doing what they should have been doing all along — but refused to do with the 2014 union/betrayal.
There are many clergy and laypeople who know in their hearts that the union of March 2014 was a betrayal of the flock. What they should do is to tell their bishops clearly that the union statement of 2014 was a betrayal of the flock, because it retreated from Saint Philaret’s Anathema. The union was based on a dilution of the faith. The union was a betrayal. This false union may be a sign that some of the Kallinikos-Cyprianite bishops do not really believe the true Orthodox faith. If these bishops genuinely do love the Faith and the flock, they should admit to the flock their error in not making Saint Philaret’s Anathema the basis of the union.
In April 2015, the Kallinikite-Cyprianite synod release a new history of the old calendarists in Greece.
This new booklet combines (1) a defense of the apostolic succession of the Florinite old calendarists; with (2) vicious slander against those Florinite old calendarists who do not recognize Archbishop Kallinikos Sarantopoulos. For a counter-balance, people should read Archbishop Makarios of Athens’ 2003 book, which gives a more detailed history up until that year. (See citations and web links at the end of this posting. Unfortunately, the English translation of Archbishop Makarios’s 2003 book does not include the scholarly footnotes that are in the Greek original. It is also unfortunate that other works by Archbishop Makarios, which are numerous, are currently harder to obtain, especially in English or on the Internet.)
This propaganda piece from the Kallinikos synod is the exact opposite of scholarly, balanced, or fair history. It should be seen for what it is: (1) a plea to the new calendarists to recognize Kallinikos as having apostolic succession and (2) libel against Archbishop Auxentios and Archbishop Makarios, and against any bishops who believe that Archbishop Kallinikos is uncanonical.
This propaganda piece resurrects the old charge (which these slanderers may not even believe themselves) that Archbishop Auxentios issued an “order” for the alleged consecration of Dorotheos Tsakos. There is no proof of such an order. In fact, this booklet does not even claim to know what year this alleged consecration took place! It asserts 1984 or 1985; but this admitted uncertainty (not even knowing what year) is even more evidence that we do not know what happened or did not happen. What we do know as historical fact is (1) Archbishop Auxentios never recognized Dorotheos Tsakos’ claim of a consecration with any document, statement, concelebration, or action of any kind; and (2) the rebel bishops used Tsakos’s undocumented claim as a pretext for going into schism from the canonical Archbishop Auxentios. Right before the rebel bishops had stumbled on the Tsakos pretext to separate from their archbishop, they tried to use the pretext that the archbishop opening “diocesan” offices distinct from “synodal” offices was “uncanonical.” This reminds one of the proverb: “Προφάσεις ζητεῖ ἀνὴρ βουλόμενος χωρίζεσθαι ἀπὸ φίλων ” (Παροιμίαι 18:1).
So, what is a verifiable historical fact is that the rebel bishops constantly were trying to use pretexts to rebel against their canonical archbishop. This pattern of rebellion and schism produced the election of Metropolitan Chrysostomos Kiouses in 1986 to be archbishop for the rebel bishops. No one should need to remind us that the number of bishops on each of the two sides (the canonical Archbishop Auxentios in contrast to the usurper Chrysostomos Kiouses) is irrelevant from a canonical and dogmatic point of view. The number on each side does not justify a schism from the actual synod presided over by the canonical archishop. Archbishop Auxentios was not guilty of any heresy; nor can it be documented that he issued an “order” for any consecration of Tsakos. The rebel bishops, despite their large number, were guilty of a schism justified only by false pretexts. (Later, they half-admitted this by rehabilitating Archbishop Auxentios, although partly for church-political reasons. This booklet returns to unmitigated slander that they should know to be false.)
Let’s take a closer look at the history of Archbishop Chrysostomos Kiouses and Archbishop Kallinikos Sarantopoulos: not personal sins, but issues of dogma and synodal order. For many years, Metropolitan Chrysostomos Kiouses was in rebellion against the only Florinite synod, that of Archbishop Auxentios. Was he a schismatic during his time of separation from the one and only synod? Well, lo and behold, when a large number of rebel bishops elect him archbishop in 1986, he and his supporters start to say that everyone separate from their synod is schismatic! The anti-canonical hypocrisy on this issue is glaring, if we only look at it.
The bishops who looked up to the venerable Metropolitan Kallinikos Chaniotes of Phthiotis (Lamia) and Thaumakos realized the canonical crime that Chrysostomos Kiouses had committed against Archbishop Auxentios and they refused to continue to offer recognition to Chrysostomos Kiouses as a dictatorial, usurper archbishop.
Metropolitan Kallinikos Sarantopoulos was ordained a priest in the Matthewites, and then, when opportunity presented itself, he was consecrated bishop in the secret, midnight, unauthorized, uncanonical consecrations of the Kallistos-Antonios schism of 1979. The same schism in which Archimandrite Cyprian Koutsoumpas played such a key role. (So, the rebelliousness of Cyprian Koutsoumpas and the rebelliousness of Kallinikos Sarantopoulos, and their mutual followers, go way back, at least to 1979). Even though Kallinikos was consecrated outside the only synod at the time, and remained in schism for years from the canonical synod, he now claims that his schismatic consecration was somehow legitimate, but if you are not with his synod now you are illegitimate. The same double-dealing and hypocrisy as Chrysostomos Kiouses!
Now, Archbishop Kallinikos Sarantopoulos has entered into communion with the bishops of the former synod of Cyprian (the First) of Phyle. Through this union, which refused to endorse Saint Philaret’s final judgment against ecumenism, Archbishop Kallinikos is joined with all of the former Cyprianites (including Photiy of Bulgaria and Agafangel of Odessa and New York), and, through Agafangel, has an illegitimate relationship with the deposed and ecumenist Patriarch Irenaeus of Jerusalem.
For those who really give priority to the confession of the Orthodox Faith, and an unequivocal rejection of ecumenism, consideration should be given to the synod of Archbishop Makarios of Athens. His confession of faith is clear, whereas Kallinikos’s confession is half-Cyprianite. He does not have a relationship with “world Orthodoxy,” whereas Kallinikos does through Agafangel and Irenaeus.
Archbishop Kallinikos’s newest pamphlet does not justify his bishops’ schisms from Archbishop Auxentios; nor does it justify the Kallinikos bishops’ ambiguous stance on the dogma of the Church and the anathematized heresy of ecumenism.
Archbishop Kallinikos’s 2014 ecclesiology statement and especially its down-grading of Saint Philaret’s 1983 judgment against ecumenism was a crime against the Holy Orthodox Faith. It needs to be corrected. In contrast, Archbishop Makarios’s synod considers ecumenism to be an anathematized heresy. Archbishop Makarios has also written very honestly about the schisms from Archbishop Auxentios, perpetrated by Metropolitan Chrysostomos Kiouses and the rebels of 1979. It was these rebellions against the one and only Florinite synod in 1979, that led to the present-day Kallinikos-Cyprian union with its ambiguous view of ecumenism and its ambiguous relationship to ecumenist like Irenaeus.
Makarios (Kavakides), Bishop of Petra, <1973–2003: Thirty Years of Ecclesiastical Developments: Trials, Captivity and Deliverance> (translated from the Greek edition published in Thessalonica, 2003), http://www.omologitis.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Bp.-Makarios-of-Petra_Thirty-Years-of-Ecclesiastical-Developments_corr.pdf.
Μακάριος (Καβακίδης), Ἐπίσκοπος Πέτρας, <1973–2003: 30 Ἔτη Ἐκκλησιαστικῆς Πορείας: Δοκιμασία, Αἰχμαλωσία, Λύτρωσις> (Θεσσαλονίκη: Ἱερὰ Μονὴ Ἁγίου Ἰακώβου Ἀδελφοθέου, Περιστερά, 2003), http://www.omologitis.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/30-ETH.pdf.
QUO VADIS, ARCHIEPISCOPE CALLINICE?
As of its official statement of April 17/30, 2015, the Kallinikos synod has officially admited (a second time) that they are knowingly in full communion with a jurisdiction (the Agafangelites) who commemorate the (deposed and ecumenist) Patriarch Irenaeus of Jerusalem. This is further proof — of a practical, not merely a theoretical, nature — that the Kallinikos synod has weakend its confession of faith. Starting with the union of March 2014, the Kallinikites-Cyprianites have issued statement after statement (clearly written in Cyprianite-Phyleite style) that indicate double-mindedness: ecumenism is suppossedly the “pan-heresy of pan-heresies,” but we need a new, large council for the heresy to be considered as condemned. This is the complete opposite of what the synod of Chrysostomos Kiouses said officially in 2008, when it was quite unbending that it was “nonnegotiable” that the Cyprianites accept the doctrine that those who remain Orthodox (no matter how few) have the right and duty to condemn heresy, and accept the fact that the heresy of ecumenism has already been validily condemned by the Russian Church Abroad and the True Orthodox of Greece. The Cyprianites categorically refused to accept this and even admitted that they had always been critical of Saint Philaret and ROCOR’s anathema against ecumenism. After a break in the negotiations, and after the death of Archbishop Chrysostomos Kiouses (2010) and the incapacitation of Metropolitan Cyprian Koutsoumpas (who passed away in 2013), the negotiations were resumed in earnest, and the Kallinikos synod betrayed its confession of faith by no longer insisting on what they had said was “nonnegotiable” in 2008.
Now we see the open, practical, admitted result of this weakening of the Kallinikos synod’s confession of faith: the Kallinikos synod is is full communion with the Agafangelites who commemorate the ecumenist and deposed Patriarch of Jerusalem. What further proof do we need that the Kallinikites have changed their faith?
In an official document (April 17/30, 2015, http://dep.church/downloads/GOCh-ROCAMeeting.pdf), the Agafangel synod and a delegation of three bishops from the Kallinikos synod, meeting together in Odessa, Ukraine, has confirmed that Agafangel’s clergy in the Holy Land have “been commemorating” Patriarch Irenaeus of Jerusalem — but might decide in the future to stop the commemoration of Irenaeus if he does not issue a clear condemnation of ecumenism. Irenaeus was an ecumenist who was deposed by the ecumenists. He has never belonged to a traditional Orthodox Church. And with this official statement, there is another further admission that Agafangel’s clergy still commemorate Irenaeus and that Kallinikos still maintains communion with Agafangel. However, the admission was not entirely honest. The official statement claims that “Both parties [the ROCA-Agafangel synod and the Kallinikos delegation] established that the ROCA has been commemorating Patriarch Irenaios of Jerusalem only in the Holy Land, on the basis of a longstanding tradition of the ROCA, but not as the local ecclesiastical authority.” This is not honest. The ROCA “tradition” was to commemorate the Patriarch of Jerusalem as the Patriarch of Jerusalem, that is, “as the local ecclesiastical authority.” This should have finally ceased after the 1983 anathema. It is now over 30 years later and Agafangel still defends the practice with dishonest hair-splitting. Now, the three Kallinikos bishops are on board with the dishonesty.
Metropolitan Agafangel is not just “commemorating” the deposed, ecumenist patriarch. In an official notice (December 18/31, 2014, http://remnantrocor.blogspot.gr/2015/01/axios-bishop-roman.html), Metropolitan Agafangel states that his synod “according to the blessing of Patriarch of Jerusalem Irenaeus expressed by him in a phone call ... decided to consecrate Hieromonk Roman (Radwan)” as bishop of Haifa, Israel. So, Metropolitan Agafangel consecrates a bishop for Russians on the territory of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem with the explicit “blessing” of ecumenist “Patriarch” Irenaeus. If we are honest, we have to conclude that Kallinikos and his bishops are knowingly connected to ecumenism through Agafangel and Irenaeus. Thank God, the Synod of Archbishop Makarios of Athens, the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (ROAC), the Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC), and the Serbian True Orthodox Church reject this evil connection with the ecumenists. Kallinikos is going in an anti-Orthodox direction.
In reply to this post by Diakrisis Dogmaton
This is a very short response to one point in the strange document released July 17, 2015, by Bishop Auxentios of Etna and Portland, at http://dep.church/news.html and http://dep.church/downloads/Statement.pdf.
Bishop Auxentios asserts that “As for the Consecration of Metropolitan Cyprian the Elder of Oropos and Phyle, there has never been any question about its validity.”
That is untrue.
The consecrations in 1979 of both Metropolitan Cyprian (Koutsoumpas) of Oropos and Phyle and of Metropolitan (now Archbishop) Kallinikos (Sarantopoulos) were both contrary to canonical order — as the first encyclical of the faction of rebel bishops who performed the consecrations openly admitted. The encyclical quoted and essentially admitted the accusations that each consecration was an “ἐκτροπήν,” meaning a “diversion” from canonical order, and a “παρανομία,” meaning an “illegality” or “transgression.”
In that 1979 encyclical, the schismatic bishops also called the action a “σωτήριος,” meaning a “salvific” transgression (!), because, they claimed, they were morally pure, whereas others were immoral, and they — in their purity — would cleanse the church of dung like Hercules cleansed the Augean stables! (This was similar to the un-Orthodox reasoning of the Donatist Heresy.) The rebel bishops of 1979 claimed they would all retire to Mount Athos if the pious people did not follow their schism. Very few laity did follow the schism initially (Cyprian built a larger following later), but only Metropolitan Kallistos (Makres) of Corinth retired. It was undeniably a “transgression” because the series of secret, night-time consecrations of eight bishops by two rebel bishops (Kallistos and Antonios) were done in disobedience to the one and only Florinite synod of True Orthodox Christians in Greece at that time under Archbishop Auxentios. Metropolitan Kallinikos (Sarantopoulos) also individually admitted in a letter that his consecration was irregular! His argument was, essentially, that, because there had been so many irregularities among the True Orthodox, his irregular consecration was essentially normal. The Cyprianites have misrepresented these transgressive consecrations in the past by claiming that Archbishop Auxentios “told” the two rebel bishops to perform them or that he gave “tacit” encouragement. That is a contradiction in itself, with no evidence ever provided. Both, I believe, are untrue, because they contradict the actual evidence. Archbishop Auxentios and the non-schismatic bishops declared the consecrations invalid and decreed that the “bishops” (the two old ones and the eight new ones) were un-ordained monks. Archbishop Auxentios, out of a desire for unity, lifted that decision, but his oikonomia (leniency) did not cause the rebel bishops to remain in unity with the canonical Auxentian synod.
As this history demonstrates, Bishop Auxentios of Etna and Portland is continuing a pattern of deception when he falsely claims that the 1979 consecrations were of unquestioned validity. The consecrations were questioned (and condemned) by many people. The consecrations were condemned by the very Archbishop (Auxentios) who was commemorated during the consecrations. And the bishops involved in the uncanonical consecrations admitted that they were transgressions. With that, we should all agree!
NOT ICONOLATRY: RELATIVE WORSHIP IS NOT ABSOLUTE WORSHIP
Another problem of a dogmatic nature with the Kallinikos-Cyprian union is the apparent confusion of at least two of their bishops about the dogmatic difference between latreía (absolute adoration or worship given to God alone) and proskýnēsis (veneration or worship in a more general sense).
Some of us were shocked to read, on the new Etna-Portland diocese’s website, the message of the retired Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Etna, California, concerning the restoration of the veneration of icons in the Byzantine Empire under Saint Theodora the Empress (✠867) (http://dep.church/news.html, under February 25, 2015, “Α Νote to Our Greek-Speaking Clergy and Faithful from the Most Reverend Chrysostomos, Former Metropolitan of Etna” and the full text at http://dep.church/downloads/St.Theodora.pdf. In his message, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Etna refers to the “ἀποκατάστασιν τῆς Εἰκονολατρείας” — which can be translated literally as the “restoration of Iconolatry.”
That is not what happened on the first Sunday of Orthodoxy. Iconolatry (Eikonolatreía, Εἰκονολατρεία) is not Orthodox.
It is a dogma of the Orthodox Church that we do not practice iconolatry, which is the giving of -latry (Greek: latreía, λατρεία, meaning “absolute divine adoration/worship/service”) to the holy icons. The Septuagint Old Testament, the New Testament, the Seventh Ecumenical Council, and the Synodicon of Orthodoxy all teach us that latreía refers to the absolute divine adoration/worship/service that can be given only to God Himself — not to the saints, and not to the holy icons. According to Orthodox dogma, we give “relative worship” (katà schésin proskýnēsis) to the saints and holy icons, but “absolute [divine] worship/adoration/service” (latreía) only to God. As the Scriptures teach in several places, “You shall worship [proskynḗseis] the Lord your God; and you shall adore [latreúseis] Him alone.” As the Seventh Ecumenical Council teaches, proskýnēsis is a more general term that refers to the bowing down, homage, veneration, or worship that is given to God, as well as the saints and holy icons; but latreía is a very specific term that refers to the absolute divine worship/adoration/service that we give only to God. According to the council, we give veneration, “honor” (timḗ), or (relative) “worship” to the saints and holy icons, but we do “not” render them “the true latreía [absolute worship/adoration/service] according to our faith that pertains only to the divine nature” (οὐ μὴν τὴν κατὰ πίστιν ἡμῶν ἀληθινὴν λατρείαν, ἣ πρέπει μόνῃ τῇ θείᾳ φύσει). The council teaches that we give latreía only to the Creator, not to any created saint or created icon. Thus the council forbids iconolatry.
It is unfortunate that Metropolitan Chrysostomos and the new website of the Diocese of Etna and Portland departed from the language of Orthodox dogma on the veneration (relative worship) that is due to the holy icons as distinct from the latreía (absolute worship) that is due to the Creator alone. The lesson here is that we always need to return to the precise language of conciliar dogma, the Holy Scriptures, and the consensus of the Holy Fathers — and not invent our own, contradictory terminology.
The Scriptures, councils, saints, and liturgical prayer books of the Orthodox Church have much to say about the “glorification” or “relative worship” that we give to the saints and holy icons, as distinct from the “absolute worship” (latreía) that we give to God alone and to all the fullness of God (the essence and essential energy of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). It is important to study these sources of Orthodox revelation and dogma more deeply, but it is absolutely essential at all times to understand the difference between the “absolute worship” given to the Creator alone and the “relative worship” given to created persons and created things that are especially holy. It is this dogmatic distinction — as part of the entire Orthodox faith — that we commemorate on the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, when we proclaim the veneration (not latreía) of the holy icons.
One does not need to have a “nearly Matthewite position” (as some have claimed) in order to be disturbed by the Kallinikos-Cyprian-Agafangel-Irenaeus unia. Many people, inside and outside of the union, are disturbed by the compromises that were involved. This unia has been justifiably criticized by the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, the Russian True Orthodox Church, the Serbian True Orthodox Church, and the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece under Archbishop Makarios (Kavakides) of Athens. The Romanian Old Calendar Church, which is by far the largest church in this union, believes that the ecclesiology statement was unclear and inadequate. (The footnotes that were added a couple months later left the ambiguities largely intact.) It should disturb us that, today, because of the union, the Kallinikos synod has an ecclesiastical relationship with the ecumenist “Patriarch” Irenaeus of Jerusalem, since Metropolitan Agafangel’s followers in the Holy Land commemorate Irenaeus; and Agafangel even asked for and received a blessing from Irenaeus for a consecration of a bishop. It disturbs even some of these compromised Greek bishops, but they do not love the faith enough to make Agafangel correct the problem. It should disturb us that Kallinikos sided with the compromised synod of Agafangel rather than the ROAC or RTOC, which both have a clearer confession of faith against ecumenism. In 1983, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia under Saint Philaret of New York adopted the Anathema against Ecumenism and directed, as the Council’s letter stated, that the Anathema “be added to the Rite of Orthodoxy” (Pravoslavnaia Rus, October 1983; Orthodox Life, November–December 1983). This conciliar directive meant that all churches in ROCOR should have begun to read the anathema on the Sunday of Orthodoxy every year. This means that all of the ROCOR fragments to this day should read the Anathema in church every year. In 2008, the Kiouses synod told the Cyprian synod that it was “non-negotiable” that they accept this anathema. The Cyprian synod responded that they had “always been critical” (ἦτο ἀνέκαθεν κριτική [with the word "critical" emphasized in the Greek]) towards the Anathema. It should disturb us that, because of the union, the Kallinikos synod’s latest document on ecclesiology refuses to clearly endorse Saint Philaret’s anathema against ecumenism, and thus is a retreat from the former position that the anathema was “nonnegotiable.” The Romanian synod, the largest grouping in the union, has objections to the statement and some of the Romanians’ concerns were incorporated into footnotes in a second edition. Nevertheless, these bishops have not yet clearly reaffirmed the anathema against ecumenism. This should disturb us all. It should disturb us all that the Romanian group had a degree of intercommunion with the Moscow Patriarchate in Moldova. It should also disturb us that the Kallinikos synod dropped its previous “nonnegotiable” demand that the Cyprianites accept the belief that those who abide in Orthodoxy (no matter how few) have the right and duty to condemn heresy. It should disturb us that the union’s ecclesiology statement adoped the Cyprianite emphasis on a “Major Synod” — a fantasy of Metropolitan Cyprian (Koutsoumpas) that may never actually occur. It should disturb us that the ecclesiology statement borrowed so much wish-washy verbiage from Bishop Photiy of Traiditza and other Cyprianites. It should bother us that it has been falsely claimed that the Cyprianites have “taken down” from the Internet their old ecclesiology documents, whereas the truth is that they remain on the Internet to this day. If one is a genuine Orthodox Christian, he will be disturbed by the compromises that were involved in the Kallinikos-Cyprian-Aagafangel-Irenaeus-Photiy unia.
The Opposition to Saint Philaret — and the Compromises of March 2014 ¶ For the last 30 years, there has been one thing that — at least in theory — has united traditional Orthodox bishops around the world: they claimed to accept the Anathema Against Ecumenism decreed in 1983 by Saint Philaret the New Confessor of New York and by the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. This anathema condemned two key heresies of ecumenism: (1) a denial of the “one … Church” of the Creed and (2) a denial of the “one baptism” of the Creed. The Anathema delineated what Orthodox teaching was and what anti-Orthodox, ecumenist teaching was. The Anathema Against Ecumenism was accepted by the bishops in ROCOR in 1983 and by the Russian True Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (whose bishops in Ukraine, Russia, and surrounding areas descend from ROCOR, starting in 1981). The anathema was accepted by the Holy Orthodox Church in North America (HOCNA), the Greek synod of Archbishop Auxentius (Pastras) of Athens, the Greek synod of Archbishop Chrysostomos (Kiouses) of Athens, the ROCOR fragments that descended from Metropolitan Vitalii (Ustinov), and the Greek synod of Archbishop Makarios (Kavakides) of Athens. ¶ There was one prominent exception — a synod that claimed to be “True Orthodox” but did not really accept Saint Philaret’s Anathema Against Ecumenism — that synod was the Holy Synod in Resistance under (the elder and now reposed) Metropolitan Cyprian (Koutsoumpas) of Oropos and Phyle, as well as their affiliated bishop in Bulgaria, Bishop Fotii of Triaditsa (Sofia, Bulgaria). As three of the Cyprianite bishops admitted in 2008, their synod has “always been critical” of Saint Philaret’s Anathema Against Ecumenism. ¶ The large Romanian old calendar synod had been in full communion with Metropolitan Cyprian’s Synod in Resistance since 1984, but the Romanian group seems to have included bishops with contradictory views on ecclesiology, including some who held to views that were stricter than Cyprian’s. ¶ Publicly, the Synod in Resistance showed great reverence for Metropolitan Philaret, but for 30 years they resisted the Anathema Against Ecumenism that was promulgated by the saint. They also published numerous statements that indirectly opposed the Anathema Against Ecumenism of Saint Philaret. ¶ In March 2014, the Greek synod of Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens (which descends from Archbishop Chrysostomos Kiouses’ synod and claims to retain the same positions) concluded a years-long process in which they hammered out compromise language that would allow the Synod in Resistance to be absorbed into their synod. This language of compromise puts the Kallinikos synod’s confession of faith and future intentions in doubt. ¶ On March 5/18, 2014, the Holy Synod in Resistance under (the younger and current) Metropolitan Cyprian (Gioules) of Oropos and Phyle was absorbed into the Holy Synod under Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens. Five days later, the Kallinikos jurisdiction entered into full communion with the Romanian old calendar jurisdiction under Metropolitan Vlasie as well as the ROCOR-fragment that is headed by Metropolitan Agafangel of New York and that claims to be the only canonical church body that can still legitimately be called the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). These Romanian and Russian groups had been in communion with the Synod in Resistance for many years, the Romanians since 1984, and Metropolitan Agafangel’s group since its creation in 2007. ¶ Metropolitan Agafangel had remained part of the ROCOR of Metropolitan Laurus from 2001 to 2007, the years in which that jurisdiction was in the process of gradually recognizing the Sergianist and ecumenist Moscow Patriarchate and denouncing the traditional Orthodox churches in Russia, Ukraine, and worldwide that were descended from ROCOR. Agafangel broke with Laurus only around the time of Laurus’s union with Moscow in 2007. ¶ Bishop Fotii of Triaditsa did not participate in the unity Liturgy in March 2014, but entered the union many months later, after an agreement was reached on the participation of Russian bishops (under Agafangel) in his Bulgarian synod, and on his Bulgarian church’s autonomy. Bishop Fotii has in the past expressed a liberal opinion towards the Moscow Patriarchate (and therefore other ecumenist churches). He even criticized ROCOR for consecrating bishops for the traditional Orthodox Christians in the Soviet Union and its successor states. The first of these consecrations was in 1981, when Saint Philaret was still alive. These are Fotii’s shocking words as quoted in 2006: ¶ [Begin block quotation] We must honestly and frankly recognize that it is greatly unfortunate that, in relation to the Moscow Patriarchate, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia did not always have a theologically- and spiritually-restrained position, because all of the overly harsh criticism and qualification of the Moscow Patriarchate, such as “graceless assembly,” “Soviet, red church,” etc., are more public statements of extremist sentiments than genuine theological evaluations of this multi-faceted and complicated organism known as the Moscow Patriarchate. ¶ One cannot apply a fanatical-schematic maxim such as: if the ruling bishops are this way, then they are all this way — therefore they have no grace. ¶ A good number of mistakes were made in the rush to open parishes in Russia and especially the hasty and ill-conceived consecration of bishops there. These errors, unfortunately, very quickly, in a short period of time, destroyed the lofty authority of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. [End block quotation] ¶ There are Bulgarian old calendarists who take a stricter view on ecclesiology than Bishop Fotii has taken and stricter than the unity agreement of March 2014 has taken. These include Bulgarian old calendarists not under Bishop Fotii, and possibly some that were (or are) under him but have left (or are threatening to leave). Bishop Fotii, actually, was the person who wrote the very first draft in the negotiation process that eventually produced the March 2014 agreed statement. However, the final, March 2014 statement contained many changes that made the condemnation of ecumenism sound stricter. Bishop Fotii’s first draft was even less clear in its condemnation of ecumenism. ¶ After the first unity Liturgy was celebrated on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Precious Cross, March 10/23, 2014, the Greek, Romanian, and Russian bishops who were in attendance signed the official agreed statement on ecclesiology and it was posted in numerous places on the internet in several languages. The statement immediately became controversial because several people in various countries correctly claimed that it watered down the official ecclesiology of the Kallinikos synod in the direction of the old Cyprian synod’s so-called moderate resistance. ¶ The secretary of the Kallinikos synod reacted by saying that the translations were not official (only the original text in Church Greek was) and that the future translation into simple modern Greek would contain clarifications. In late June or early July, new versions of the official statement were released in modern Greek and other languages. The revisions appear to be confined to the footnotes and these footnotes attempt to reinterpret the meaning of the main text in a stricter sounding direction, in order to placate critics who said that the original text was watered down. It appears that the critics included some bishops from Romania who went along with the unity, but who wanted a stricter statement. Since the main text appears to be the same in both the March 2014 and June 2014 versions, we can treat it as one document, but with various editions that have different footnotes. ¶ When we compare and contrast the Kallinikos–Cyprian–Agafangel unity statement of March 2014 with previous statements on ecclesiology, it becomes clear that is a repudiation of the legacy of Saint Philaret the New Confessor of New York and of Saint Philaret’s ROCOR — and a betrayal of the struggle of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria, Georgia, and the diaspora. ¶ Let us look more closely at what the Kallinikos synod claimed to believe only six years prior. On September 9/22, 2008, Bishop Photios of Marathon (representing the synod of Archbishop Chrysostomos (Kiouses), now the synod of Archbishop Kallinikos (Sarantopoulos)) wrote a letter to Metropolitan Cyprian’s “Orthodox Community in Resistance.” In this letter, Photios of Marathon stated that it was “nonnegotiable” that Cyprian’s group must agree that “those competent to condemn heresies have always been the Bishops who abide in Orthodoxy, whatever their number or whether or not Patriarchs are among them. Today it is the Bishops of the Church of the True Orthodox Christians who have the right to condemn ecumenism and every heresy.” Bishop Photios also demanded that the Cyprianite synod must accept Saint Philaret’s and ROCOR’s 1983 Anathema Against Ecumenism. This was also “nonnegotiable.”[i] ¶ On December 17/30, 2008, the Cyprian synod responded by stating that they had “always been critical” toward Saint Philaret’s Anathema Against Ecumenism and that “anathematization and condemnation are not the business either of individuals among the faithful or of those ecclesiastical administrative bodies which have a temporary synodal structure, yet which do not possess all of the canonical prerequisites to represent the Church fully, validly, and suitably for the proclamation of anathemas and condemnations.”[ii] That seems to have meant that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the True Orthodox Church of Greece were both “temporary” and these bodies do not have the right to issue anathemas against heresy. This begs the questions: Who (in 1983) represented the truly Orthodox conscience of the Russian Orthodox Church if it was not Saint Philaret and the bishops loyal to him? And what body exactly has the right to issue anathemas that are valid for the country of Greece: the True Orthodox Greeks or the ecumenist state-synod of Greece? ¶ The Cyprian synod then claimed that: ¶ [Begin block quotation] So great a right and “dignity” [to anathematize] is “granted” only to the choir of the Apostles “and those who have truly become their successors in the strictest sense, full of Grace and power” (St. John Chrysostomos), and we are unable to understand the hasty tendency in our day to anathematize and condemn, since until such successors come into existence, “everyone who is Orthodox in every respect anathematizes every heretic potentially, even if not verbally” (St. Theodore the Studite). [End block quotation] ¶ This has left people wondering if the Cyprianites believed that current true Orthodox bishops lack the grace and authority to anathematize heresy. ¶ The Synod in Resistance has been widely and rightly criticized for referring to the new calendar Church of Greece as the “Mother Church.” Bishop Photios wrote in 2008 that it was also “nonnegotiable” that the Synod in Resistance must stop calling the ecumenist Greek church the “Mother Church.” The Cyprianites’ 2008 letter claimed that “one” of its bishops (not their entire synod) had referred to the new calendar church as the “Mother Church.” It appears that the bishops of the former Synod in Resistance agreed in 2014 that they would not in the future call the new calendarists the “Mother Church.” However, in Bishop Ambrose (Baird) of Methone’s essay entitled, “The Old Calendar Greek Orthodox Church: A Brief History,” accessed in August 2017, on the Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle’s official website, he refers to the new calendar church of the 1980s as “the Mother Church of Greece.”[iii] ¶ The former Synod in Resistance’s website has been renamed Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece, Holy Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle. As of August 2017, over three years after the union of March 2014, the Cyprianite documents that express the so-called moderate ecclesiology of the Cyprianites are still on the official website of the Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle. The titles of several of them have been removed from the tables of contents on the website. But, if one knows the title of the document or the old (and still valid) internet address, one can find these documents in seconds on the website of the Kallinikos synod’s Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle. The claim by some defenders of the union that these documents were removed is a half-truth: they remain accessible where they have long been, even though many of their titles have been removed from tables of contents of the website. ¶ We can conclude that, three years after the union, it is unclear if the bishops of the former Synod in Resistance have renounced any portion of their former beliefs that opposed Saint Philaret’s Anathema Against Ecumenism. ¶ Let us go back to looking at the process that produced the compromise statement of March 2014. The negotiations between the Kiouses/Kallinikos side and the Cyprian side were temporarily broken off in May 2009 because the Kiouses/Kallinikos side determined that there were real differences over ecclesiology between the two sides. Three and a half years later, in late 2012 or early 2013, the discussions were officially resumed. ¶ It is now obvious to anyone who has examined the documents produced by this negotiation process that the issues of faith that the Kiouses/Kallinikos synod claimed in 2008–2009 were “nonnegotiable,” ending up becoming very much negotiable in the new round of negotiations from late 2012 to March 2014. The documents prove that the Kallinikos side made significant compromises with the Cyprian side on how the heresy of ecumenism is treated and especially on how ROCOR’s Anathema Against Ecumenism is downgraded. ¶ To oversimplify only slightly, one can say that the Cyprian side capitulated more on issues of jurisdiction, since that side abolished its separate synod and was absorbed by the Kallinikos synod, but the Kallinikites capitulated more on the issue of the previous condemnations of ecumenism. The unity statement was influenced by the Cyprianite custom of (1) condemning ecumenism in grandiose terms like “the pan-heresy of pan-heresies” and then, (2) in the very next breath, indicating (in varying ways) that ecumenism has not really been condemned by an Orthodox authority that is competent to issue a fully-valid anathema. The unity statement performed this balancing act by downgrading the Anathema Against Ecumenism from something that absolutely must be endorsed (as the Kiouseites/Kallinikites claimed in 2008–2009) to something that was referred to in condescending terms as an important step in the direction of a future condemnation of ecumenism by a hoped-for future “major Synod.” ¶ The compromise statement claims that steps such as Saint Philaret’s anathema are “assuredly important steps in the right direction towards the convocation of a General Synod of True Orthodox, which, with expanded authority, will arrive at decisions concerning the calendar innovation and syncretistic ecumenism.” This is a compromise with the old Cyprianite view that neither ROCOR nor the True Orthodox Christians of Greece had a right to issue an Anathema Against Ecumenism. ¶ The position of Saint Philaret, especially in the last years of his life, was that those bishops who remain Orthodox (no matter how few) have the right and the duty to anathematize heresy. As of late 2008, the Kiouses/Kallinikos synod claimed that this principle was “nonnegotiable” and Saint Philaret’s anathema itself was “nonnegotiable.” The 2014 compromise agreement, however — after years of negotiations and compromises — condescendingly downgraded the “nonnegotiable” anathema of Saint Philaret to being one among many other steps in the direction of a future “General Synod” — a synod that may turn out to be only a fantasy and never occur in reality. ¶ Several people noticed this downgrading of what had previously been “nonnegotiable” — downgrading the anathema to one of several “steps” towards a future event that may never actually occur. So, the Kallinikos–Cyprian union came up with another compromise. Three months after the official statement was issued, some stricter-sounding footnotes were added in order to placate critics who correctly saw the statement as an unacceptable compromise. One key footnote stated: “The Synodal condemnations referred to in this paragraph [including the 1983 anathema] are, of course, already wholly worthy of honor and accepted by the True Orthodox, and form the basis for the decisions of the anticipated Major Synod.”[iv] The truth, however, is that the Cyprianites in their hearts had “always been critical” toward the Anathema Against Ecumenism, as they wrote in their official letter of 2008. Do they now accept the anathema, as the footnote states that True Orthodox do generally? It is still an open question. ¶ [i] Bishop Photios of Marathon, Secretary of the Holy Synod, Letter to the Orthodox Community in Resistance, Holy Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina, Phyle, Attica, protocol no. 3-1141 (Athens, September 9/22, 2008), at Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece, Holy Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle, accessed September 29, 2014, http://www.hsir.org/pdfs/2009/06/02/20090602aCessationofDialogue%20Folder/20090602aCessationofDialogue.pdf. ¶ [ii] Cyprian, Bishop of Oreoi, Acting President of the Holy Synod in Resistance; Bishop Ambrose of Methone; and Bishop Klemes of Gardikion, Letter to the Holy Synod of the Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece, protocol no. 527 (December 17, 2008), at Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece, Holy Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle, accessed September 29, 2014, http://www.synodinresistance.org/pdfs/2009/06/02/20090602aCessationofDialogue%20Folder/20090602aCessationofDialogue.pdf. ¶ [iii] Ambrose, Bishop of Methone, “The Old Calendar Greek Orthodox Church: A Brief History,” at Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece, Holy Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle, accessed August 9, 2017, http://www.hsir.org/pdfs/2013/12/30/20131230aTheOldCalendarGreekOrthodoxChurch-ABriefHistory.pdf. The quotation is from the section where Bishop Ambrose is critical of the views of Metropolitan Kallistos of Corinth, the chief hierarch among the two hierarchs who consecrated Archimandrite Cyprian (Koutsoumpas) as bishop without synodal permission in 1979. ¶ [iv] The True Orthodox Church and the Heresy of Ecumenism: Dogmatic and Canonical Issues: A Text Drawn Up by the True Orthodox Churches of Greece and Romania and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (June 2014), at The Church of the GOC of America, accessed September 29, 2014, http://hotca.org/pdf/TrueOrthodoxOppositionEcumenism.pdf.
The Opposition to Saint Philaret — and the Compromises of March 2014
¶ In fact, from 1984 to 2012, the Cyprianites issued countless statements that reflect their un-Orthodox view that only an Ecumenical Council, or at least a “Major Synod,” is competent to anathematize the heresy of ecumenism.
¶ As recently as March 17, 2012, Archimandrite Akakios, the abbot of the Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery in Etna, California, summarized the long-standing position of the Cyprianites against issuing anathemas:
[begin block quotation]
¶many Orthodox … have taken great umbrage with our Bishops and with the Holy Synod in Resistance for not condemning those who are smitten with all of the anti-Orthodox and dangerous teachings, theologies, and ecclesiologies foreign to Holy Tradition …. If these are wrong beliefs and, in the language of the Church, heresies … how is it sufficient, these Orthodox ask, simply to wall oneself off from such errors without condemning them and counting all of those who believe in them among the heretics, outside the Church, and dangerous to the Faith?
¶ The most compelling and definitive answer … [is that] only an Oecumenical Synod and the Church as a whole can declare local Churches to be in heresy and devoid of Grace, and that until such a Synod is held, we can only … wall ourselves off from error and form communities of resisters to preserve the Faith until, by God’s Grace, a unifying Synod is held. Furthermore, we must ask about the spiritual state of anyone who would wish to see those in error condemned and cut off from the Grace of God and the hope of salvation.[v]
[end block quotation]
¶ That was written in 2012 and represents what his synod had been saying for almost 30 years. More ominously, it also gives the impression that Archimandrite Akakios believes that there was something wrong with the “spiritual state” of Saint Philaret and True Orthodox Christians worldwide who accepted the Anathema Against Ecumenism. Do Archimandrite Akakios and his fellow Cyprianites really believe that they have more love and more hope for people’s salvation than Saint Philaret did?
¶ It is not just a matter of love for those outside of traditional Orthodoxy. The Cyprianites have a clear tendency to seek acceptance and praise from those outside of traditional Orthodoxy and to denounce other traditionalists as extremists or fanatics. The Cyprianites love to quote new calendarists, like Metropolitan Kallistos (Timothy Ware) of Diokleia, who praise the Cyprianites for being more moderate than other (more fanatic) old calendarists. If the Cyprianites would say clearly that the ecumenists have been competently anathematized by the Orthodox Church, the Cyprianites would no longer receive praise from ecumenists like Metropolitan Kallistos. On the level of human emotions, the Cyprianites cling to their view that they are more educated and more moderate and more competent in worldly matters than other (more fanatical) old calendarists. The Cyprianites (especially their leaders in North America) frequently remind readers about their academic degrees to an extent that far exceeds what is normal for academics — let alone what is normal for monks.
¶ There are many other problems with Archimandrite Akakios’s re-statement of the old Cyprianite view. First, there is the idea of a “unifying Synod.” The word “unifying” appears not to refer just to the unifying of True Orthodox communities that may not all have been in communion with one another. Rather, “unifying” seems to refer to ecumenist bishops who will — supposedly — renounce their past ecumenism and unify with anti-ecumenist bishops to condemn ecumenism. That requirement, however, would make a definitive condemnation of ecumenism dependent on the ecumenists themselves repenting and condemning their former beliefs! It is certainly good to hope and pray for ecumenists to return to an Orthodox confession of the faith. But there is nothing in Orthodox tradition that states that the Church — constituted by those bishops, clergy, monastics, and faithful who remain in a truly Orthodox confession of the faith — has to wait until the supporters of heresy repent, before the Church can anathematize the heresy. But that is the illogic of the former Synod in Resistance’s old concept of a “unifying” synod. The Cyprianites’ hope that ecumenists will repent en masse (as the iconoclasts did at the Seventh Ecumenical Council) was perverted into the false teaching that a “unifying Synod” may be necessary to validly condemn the heresy.
¶ The March 2014 statement does not speak of a “unifying Synod,” but it does give strong emphasis to a supposed future “Major Synod” of True Orthodox. But even this has problems. Does it include a remnant of the old Cyprianite view that former-ecumenists must participate to make the synod “major”? Or do those bishops who have remained Orthodox (no matter how few) have the right to condemn ecumenism without the repentance and return of former ecumenists who would (supposedly) condemn their former position? The March 2014 statement could have stated plainly that it was “nonnegotiable” that those bishops who have remained Orthodox have the right and duty to anathematize heresy. But the March 2014 statement did not reaffirm clearly what was supposedly “nonnegotiable” in 2008. And if the March 2014 statement really was intended to mean (or imply) that those who have always remained Orthodox have the right to condemn heresy, why couldn’t the statement have reaffirmed the already-promulgated 1983 anathema? The answer is that the Cyprianites’ attitude has “always been critical” towards Saint Philaret’s anathema. Apparently, they still are critical towards it, at least to some degree, because they will not affirm it clearly even today.
¶ This also brings us to the Cyprian synod’s (basically admitted) willingness to say what they may not sincerely believe, for the sake of unity. For example, in the 2008 list of demands that the Kiouses/Kallinikos synod said were “nonnegotiable,” we find a demand that the Cyprianites issue “an acknowledgement that the walling-off [by the Cyprian faction] in 1984 and the subsequent formation, through Consecrations, of a new Synod was a hasty act.” The Cyprianites answered that their actual belief had been that those acts were “imperative actions,” but today “[d]espite this, for the sake of peace and reconciliation, we feel able, today, to characterize the aforementioned actions as hasty.” For the sake of union, they are willing to say “hasty,” but it is left open whether they might still sincerely believe those actions to have been “imperative.” Do they sincerely believe those actions were “imperative” or “hasty”? There is no clear answer. There was clearly a willingness to play around with words for the sake of a compromise statement. The resulting March 2014 statement is a collection of convoluted syntax that allows different interpreters to give contradictory interpretations. This is known in secular politics as each side giving their own (contradictory) “spin” about what really happened and what it really meant.
¶ In past decades, traditional Orthodox bishops worldwide used to claim that they accepted Saint Philaret’s and ROCOR’s 1983 Anathema Against Ecumenism. In theory, this common confession of faith — faith in the uniqueness of the Orthodox Church and the uniqueness of Orthodox Holy Mysteries — united several divided synods in a basic stance in favor of traditional Orthodoxy and against the heresy of ecumenism. The Kallinikos–Cyprian–Agafangel union chose not to endorse clearly this key declaration in defense of Orthodoxy. Based on the un-Orthodox Cyprianite theory that a “Major Synod” is necessary to anathematize heresy in a fully valid way, the March 2014 unity document demoted the Anathema Against Ecumenism to one among many steps in the right direction towards the fantasy of a future “Major Synod” — a fantasy that may or may not actually occur before the Second Coming of Christ. In the meantime, the Anathema Against Ecumenism, which should form the basis of unity among traditional Orthodox bishops has been demoted or relegated to a condescending footnote — literally, demoted to a footnote.
¶ This is why many traditional Orthodox Christians rightly consider the March 2014 unity statement to be a betrayal of the Orthodox Christian Faith. This false union was certainly a betrayal against the key Orthodox statement against ecumenism (the 1983 anathema) and an act of betrayal against those genuine Orthodox Christians who maintain the Orthodox confession of faith in one Church and one baptism. We should all hope that the protesters against the unity statement, including the Romanians who appear to have troubled consciences about the unity statement, will put some pressure on the other bishops to issue a clear endorsement of the Anathema Against Ecumenism.
¶ [v] Archimandrite Akakios, Abbot of the Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery, Etna, California, “Resistance and Its Relationship to Repentance,” talk at the Holy Archangel Michael Serbian Orthodox Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, a parish of the American Exarchate of the Holy Synod in Resistance (March 17, 2012), at Church of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece, Holy Metropolis of Oropos and Phyle, accessed September 29, 2014, http://www.hsir.org/pdfs/2012/03/24/20120324aTorontoFatherAkakios.pdf.
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