In our open letter published of April 11th, 2014, we raised 8 questions regarding the union between the Genuine Orthodox Church under Kallinikos of Athens and the Synod in Resistance. Bishop Photios of Marathon has just replied these questions in Greek. He authorized us to make them public. Here are the answers. The translation was updated on August 6th, 2014 with an input made by Father Savvas who reviewed the previous one.
RESPONSE 1: No. It is simply a gentle way of saying that there is no Sacramental Grace within World Orthodoxy which takes pastoral concerns into consideration. See hereunder, at the end of the responses, a relative comment by a Matthewite gentleman named Basil.
QUESTION 2: If so, then it opens Pandora’s Box with a series of terrible contradictions. It contradicts the Church’s Confession of Faith which does not acknowledge that Sacramental Grace exists among heretics, and it contradicts the Church’s practice of imposing canonical penalties upon those having erroneous opinions on this subject. What will happen if someone now states that he believes that Sacramental Grace is present in World Orthodoxy, basing himself on this Ecclesiological Document and the aforementioned ambiguous statement? Will it be possible to depose him if he is a Bishop or, if he is a layman, to excommunicate him based on Canon 46 of the Holy Apostles?
RESPONSE 2: It has already been said, the answer to the first question is NO. Now then, if some Clergyman states publicly that he believes in the existence of Sacramental Grace in so-called Official Orthodoxy he would be called to defend his views in the presence of the relative Ecclesiastical Court.
QUESTION 3: The Ecclesiological Document contradicts ROCOR’s anathema against Ecumenism which expels from the Church those who believe that there are active Mysteries outside the Church. Will faithful who believe that Sacramental Grace is present in “World Orthodoxy” be tolerated in the True Orthodox Church? Are they tolerated already?
RESPONSE 3: The Ecclesiological Document states explicitly in § VI 3 that “[the] application of œconomy in the reception of heretics and schismatics into communion with the Church in no way betokens that the Church acknowledges the validity and the reality of their mysteries, which are celebrated outside Her canonical and charismatic boundaries.” Also, in footnote 35 it states: “The charismatic and canonical boundaries of the Church”: the “canonical boundaries” are defined by the Dogmas and the Sacred Canons of the Orthodox Church (see note 18, “Canonical”), while the “charismatic boundaries” are defined chiefly by the Sacred Mysteries, through which the Grace of God acts upon the faithful. In the Orthodox Church, these two boundaries are not separated but deemed equivalent. These terms are mentioned here precisely in order to emphasize their equivalence, since the ecumenists consider the charismatic boundaries of the Church to be broader than Her canonical boundaries; that is, they recognize Sacramental Grace also in various heretical communities (see §§II.2 and II.11 earlier on in this document).”
QUESTION 4: The Ecclesiological Document contradicts the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece’s confessional encyclicals of 1935, 1950 and 1974 which assert the lack of Sacramental Grace in the State Church of Greece. Indeed, the Ecclesiological Document makes no clear statement about gracelessness in “World Orthodoxy” opening the possibility (so it seems) of believing that Sacramental Grace is present in “World Orthodoxy.” Since the State Church of Greece is a part of “World Orthodoxy” does the Ecclesiological Document now lead us to believe that the State Church of Greece has some Sacramental Grace? This would utterly contradict the confessional encyclicals of 1935, 1950 and 1974.
RESPONSE 4: The Encyclicals you mention are certainly still in force. In fact, during the meeting of the Holy Synod of the Hierarchy in April 2014 “[it] was confirmed that the dedication of the 2015 pocket calendar remains as it was decided during the Synod of the Hierarchy’s meeting last September, that is, it is dedicated to the three hierarchs’ 1935 Confession of Faith and the formation of the Holy Synod of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece and various details of its publication were adjusted.”
QUESTION 5: If the 1935, 1950 and 1975 Encyclicals still stand, the Sacramental gracelessness of the State Church of Greece is then confirmed. But outside the specific case of the State Church of Greece would it still be possible to think that Sacramental Grace is present elsewhere in “World Orthodoxy?”
RESPONSE 5: I repeat: The Encyclicals of 1935, 1950 and 1974, as well as the Encyclical of 2002 are in force. The fact that they refer only to the State Church of Greece (because this is the problem the True Orthodox Christians were facing here within the Greek territory) is an omission that we are now called to address with new decisions that will not be formulated within the narrow Greek framework. Therefore, the answer to the Question 5 is NO.
QUESTION 6: If so, is New Calendarism in Greece so different from New Calendarism in Constantinople, Romania, Antioch, Alexandria, Finland and Czech Republic so that these particular ”World Orthodox” Churches might have Sacramental Grace?
RESPONSE 6: Since the answer to Question 5 is “no,” answering Question 6 is pointless.
QUESTION 7: The Ecclesiological Document contradicts the 1987 anathema against the late Cyprian of Phyle due to the fact he acknowledged the presence of Sacramental Grace within the State Church of Greece. Please correct us if we are mistaken about the anathema, the complete text is only available in Greek. Is there a contradiction between the document and this anathema?
RESPONSE 7: Firstly, the late Metropolitan Cyprian was NEVER anathematized. The penalty of deposition was imposed on him in 1986 (and publicized in 1987 in the periodical “The Voice of Orthodoxy”) because, as it is written there: “If the deposed Metropolitan Cyprian had only cut himself off from the Church and confined himself to his monastery the Holy Synod would continue to forbear this, always hoping for his return, as it does for the other Bishops …” A little further down it states the reasons for the deposition, i.e. that he proceeded: “…to found his own schismatic parishes in various areas, to mislead people, and to even ordain a vast number of bishops …” (issue number 811, January-February 1987, page 23, column 2) It is clear that the penalty of deposition was imposed upon Metropolitan Cyprian because he ordained Bishops and created his own Synod.
QUESTION 8: Would you also please explain to us, in theological detail, under what conditions a Memorial Service was served for the late Cyprian of Phyle in that he died outside the Church?
RESPONSE 8: Because Metropolitan Cyprian’s successors lifted the 1984 walling-off and abolished their separate Synod (the Synod in Resistance) thereby executing the wish of the late Metropolitan Cyprian himself, the lifting of the penalties that were imposed by the Synodal Court for Hierarchs (decision no. 5/1986) on Nov. 5/18, 1986 was made possible. It would be worth it for you to see the relative announcement of the Synod’s Decisions:
A similar posthumous lifting of the penalty of deposition occurred in the case of the late Archbishop Auxentios. Historically, I can mention the example of the anathema of King Stephen Dušan of Serbia, Patriarch Joanikije of Serbia - who was uncanonically proclaimed Patriarch - and all those who were in communion with them (almost all the Serbians at that time) by the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1353. Twenty years later the anathema was lifted and forgiveness prayers were read upon the tombs of Dušan and Joanikije:
Hereunder is a comment to a blog posting about the issue of the New Calendarists’ Mysteries, made by a dear Matthewite brother who lives in Cyprus:
When I was younger and I lived abroad, the Modernest Ecumenists asked me, in order to trap me: Do we have Mysteries or not?
I answered: Do you know how letters?
– Yes, we do.
Do you know the Canons and the Tradition of the Church?
– Yes, we know them!
Then I have to say to you the following: Though I am a sinner, the Grace of God has protected me from being separated from the Truth of Christ, from deviating to the right or to the left, I know that I have Mysteries. But you who changed paths, since you know letters, read what the Canons and the Tradition of the Church say about your situation and draw your own conclusions. I know that it is not in anybody’s interest nor is it wise for the True Orthodox Christians to disagree among themselves, being concerned with whether or not the New Calendarists have Mysteries. St. Paul says “For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? But them that are without God judgeth.” (1 Cor. 5:12-13) We have delivered them up to the Mercy of God. He knows whether He will be longsuffering with them, how He will be longsuffering with them, and how long He will be longsuffering with them. We are not administrators of the Mercy of God. We have a responsibility, as those who consider all modernisms as the dictates of the Devil, not to overlook the “Faith Delivered,” not one jot or one tittle. It is most important therefore to continue the good principle raised, generally for all the True Orthodox Christians to unite under an Orthodox Confession of Faith through which we will be consistent followers of a common line, and then we convene a Pan-Orthodox Synod which is the official mouth of the Church, and will give official formulations concerning those things which deviate and are removed from Patristic piety. Until that time however, we are not able have any communion with them in the Mysteries and in prayer, for thereby we become “communicants of strange sins." We confess that we reject and we spit on the calendar innovation, Ecumenism, and the newly minted baptism, or rather, effusion. From what little I know, I know that this is what the Fathers did against the heretics. Immediately and straightway they severed communion with the heretics in anticipation of the convocation of the competent body, namely, the Ecumenical Synod, not in order to learn or decide whether or not the erroneous belief is heresy, but so that by the official mouth of the Church all official declarations concerning correct doctrine and the official condemnation of heretics may be expressed. It is to be noted that only the Orthodox take part in the Synod.
Forgive me, with the love of Christ, the sinful servant of God, Basil.