Assembly of Orthodox Clergy and Monks – 4/2/17
Declaration-Protestation against the “SYNOD” of Crete
(to be signed by whom it may comply with)
(Draft to be allocated for signatures by other Churches)
The “Holy & Great Synod” of the Orthodox Church was finally convened, after many decades of preparation, at Kolymbari, Crete, on the 19th-26th June of the current year.
Although the main objective of the “Synod”, according to its organizers, was the strengthening and unveiling of the Orthodox, the exact opposite was unfortunately accomplished, i.e. disunity and unity disruption (division), not only as far as the leadership level is concerned, but in the site of the crew of believers, as well.
1.The “Synod” destroys the unity and causes divisions
Out of the fourteen (14) autocephalous churches, four (4) were absent, i.e. the churches of Antioch, Russia, Bulgaria and Georgia, as well as the flock they represent; that amounts to over half of the total of Orthodox believers worldwide. Their absence was neither due to reasons of need, nor due to adverse conditions in their territories, conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics etc., but to their apparent and declared dispute on the session regulations and the anti-patristic and anti-Orthodox interpretations that were prepared for the present “Synod”.
The aforementioned churches officially requested the postponement of the “Synod”, in order to achieve multiparty unanimity, as a necessary condition of convening consensus as well as preserving unity, but their request was declined by those who are “deaf”, those that can only hear voices that lead to the division of the Orthodox Church and who pray for the erosion of doctrinal self-awareness.
The majority of the Orthodox bishops was absent – a paradox in ecclesiastical history and a profound irregularity – as a selection was made, through abusing criteria of a small percentage of bishops, with circumvention and contempt on the equality of the Prelacy, a planned and deliberate division of the bishops’ union and exclusion, by the exclusion of bishops, of the reflections, anguishes, questions, thoughts and recommendations of the flock.
To make matters worse, the most unacceptable as well as unprecedented is the fact that the unity and equality were not assured; not even for those bishops who participated in the “Synod”, since they were not allowed to vote. For the first time in the history of synods and tradition of penance, no equal standing and equal participation of all bishops were applied. The regulations were voted and established by only ten (10) primates, who, as correctly aforementioned by the present in “Synod” venerable Serbian bishop of Bačka Mr. Irineos Boulovic, acted as “some collective pope”. In fact, the Orthodox Church’s synodic policy was undermined, since by official patriarchal circles’ outspokenness and “tunnel vision”, the papal-inspired principle that the Primate is not “primus inter pares” (first among equals) but “sine paribus primus” (first ex equal).
This breach of the equality of the bishops and the gradual penetration of the Papal monarchic constitution in Orthodox Church, was ventured in Kolymbari, Crete. Fairly, an adequate number of senior priests of the Church of Greece refused, under these anti-synodic, irregular, papal like, authoritarian and monarchist conditions, to participate in the “Synod” as decorative elements, as “pots” or as members of the primates’ cohort, who were the only ones with the right to elect and vote.
The grotesque and absurd of this anti-synodic scene, which had the seeds of division and disintegration from the very beginning, was obvious in many other cases. We hereby list the most characteristic ones. From a total of a twenty-five member (25) delegation of the Serbian Church, seventeen (17) of them refused to sign the most problematic text “Relations of the Orthodox Church to the rest of the Christian world”, but due to the Primate’s vote, it was considered to be signed by all session, although it was rejected by the majority of the attendees. Four (4) bishops of The Church of Cyprus did not sign the above mentioned text. To make matters worse, in order for the blank lines not to be evident in the signature area, the Primate of Cyprus, having no authorization nonetheless, substituted them and signed “instead of” (p.p.). In the Church of Greece, although there was solid synodic decision of the Hierarchy to recommend specific amendments that would have demolished the structures of the Orthodox text, his beatitude the Primate, having no synodic authorization, persuaded the committee to retreat – with the exception of the Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos – at the most critical point of the text, where the recognition of church by the dissentient sectarians is referred.
The only conflict between the orthodox and sect that was conducted in Crete, where the Orthodox retreated in the admonition of ecumenism, except certain omissions, was the replacement of the phrase “other Christian churches and confessions”, recognizing the sects as churches, with the phrase “other Christian communities and bonds”, as it was recommended by the Church of Greece, Mount Athos and bishops of other churches, whereas the use of the term “churches” was rejected to be used by the sects. Unfortunately, the Primate and his devotees, except one person, disregarded the Orthodox suggestion and took the decision to alternatively recommend, with no synodic authorization, the essential contradictory, absurd, impenetrable and incomprehensible sentence “other heterodox churches and confessions,” that was neither fully appreciated by the sects, because the “heterodox” removes the “churches”, nor by the Orthodox, because “churches” negates the “heterodox”. As it was correctly stated, the intelligent rapporteurs as well as the defenders of the so-called conciliatory and peacemaking phrase, laugh at each other and the Orthodox who refuse to accept that the sects are churches and the sects that claim that they are churches. The phrase “heterodox churches” is equivalent to the “virgin whore”, “dark light”, “false truth”, “healthy disease” and “godless reverence”.
2.Dissimilarities with the Orthodox Church Synods.
The anti-synodic, anti-canonical and unorthodox procedure of convening and participating the Synod, caused disunities and disruptions (divisions) among the fourteen (14) autocephalous churches, among the bishops of each autocephalous church, among the leadership of each Church and other members and of course as a result between the flock, that observed and observe its pastors to be in discord and confrontation, misguided and drifted. The worst outcome is the discrepancy and disruption of the unity between the modern and the timeless Church, the Church of the Holy Apostles and Holy fathers of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The “Synod” of Crete had nothing in common with the Church’s past synods, which follow each other, referring to each other as sessions of the one and only Synod of the Church, as the body of Christ, over the centuries. All churches proclaim that they follow the stable Orthodox axiom, “following the Holy fathers”, not the “changing the limits set by our fathers”, that do not innovate, do not add nor subtract from what was defined by the previous Holy fathers. The “Synod” of Crete changed everything in the way of convening and functioning a synod, by disrupting its integrity from the previous Synods, as it is a definitely different kind of committee “a different kind of Synod”, as honestly and boastfully was admitted during the Synod by the Primate of the Albania Church Anastasios. Indeed, it was not an Orthodox Synod but a Universalist – type Synod, not a Synod of the Church but a pan-heresy of the ecumenism.
That’s how it was preliminary planned and slowly progressed, without manifesting its other during the preparation period. Notoriously the Policy-makers of the “Union churches”, towards a syncretistic Union with equation of sects and orthodoxy, of light and darkness, right and wrong, Christ and the Antichrist, had convinced the leaders of the Orthodox, Papal and Protestant parties, not to assert ecclesiological exclusivity, but to recognize all Christians wherever they were baptized, of any confession or sect that are part of any church, that they belong. For Protestants, where everybody believes and acts individually, with their unconditional ecclesiology, it was adequately easy and it was first implemented in their own “World Council of churches”, on which we have uncritically been fastened and by trivializing the Bride of Christ, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church we were equalized with the lowest Protestant sect.
During the second session of the Vatican Synod, the papacy was reneged from the exclusivity of ecclesiology to the extended ecclesiology, by adopting certain items of ecclesiology, particularly those of the Orthodox Church, which at that point started to denominate “sister church”. That ecclesiology will be integrated with the recognition of the primacy of the Pope. Now we’re an incomplete Church. Even during the presently conducted Theological Dialogues with Rome, a part of our representatives incline to recognize the primacy of the Pope, as they appear to feel incomplete.
3.Heretical ecclesiology establishment
In the consented and externally imposed dereliction of our ecclesiastical exclusivity, i.e. that we are the only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate had agreed, since the beginning of the 20th century. In particular, with the Synodal and Patriarchal Encyclical of 1920 “To all the Churches of Christ” not only in the title but in the contents as well, recognition of their ecclesial nature was granted to up-to-then rest heretics Christians, Monophysite, Papists, Protestants.
This incorrect proclivity was firstly notably patronized by the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, who pledged with statements and actions in order to recognize the ecclesial nature of heretics. Furthermore the current Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, by establishing the Special Inter-Orthodox Commission, boldly promoted the same commitment, attempted the supposedly updating and improvement of the old procedure for texts and through this Synodal recognition of the ecclesial nature, even the baptism of heretics, ie. synodic recognition of ecumenism. That is why there was the stubborn opposition to the proposal of the Church of Greece to replace the “further Christian churches” with “Christian communities”.
Evidently, all these matters cannot be analyzed in the comprehensive contents of this Declaration-Protestation. They have been annotated at scientific workshops, Inter-Orthodox conferences and to the press by scholar bishops and academic teachers, three of which undersign the present text. Whoever bishops are concerned and anxious under the present critical circumstances and the high risk of divisions and schisms within the flock, must specifically confront the topics of “Synod” of Crete, at the forthcoming session of the Summit of the Hierarchy.
The Papal ecclesial nature has already been certified by the disgraceful and treacherous contents of Balamand, Lebanon (1993), in Dialogue between Catholics, Protestants and Monophysites, not only during board meetings of the so-called “World Council of Churches” in Porto Alegre, Brazil (2006) but also in Pusan, South Korea (2013), as well.
The reservation of the “Synod” of Crete to comment on the topics of Theological Dialogues and our participation in the “World Council of Churches”, whilst at the same time conversely approves both, leads to the essential conclusion that the Papal have Grace, Holy Priesthood, Apostolic Succession (Balamand) and that we, divided from the Monophysites, the Papists and Protestants, cannot in any way be The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church (Porto Alegre, Busan). The unwillingness of the Church of Greece to participate in the Assembly of Balamand transmuted to conspiracy, leading adversely to the approval of the Dialogues’ topics. Eventually, the “Synod” of Crete becomes the ally and procurer of ecumenism’s division, inconsistent to all previous synods of the Church that condemned and execrated the sects instead of certifying them. No reference of the word sect is made in the contents of the “Synod” and the convenient recommendation of the Holy Mountain to prohibit common prays with the heretics, attracted no attention at all.
It is therefore obvious that the assembly of a few bishops in Grete cannot in any way be qualified neither as Synod, nor as Holy, or as Great, not only as far as the procedure of convening and functioning is concerned, but also in terms of its decisions, particularly as it regards the synodic recognition of ecumenism and sects as churches
The informal “Orthodox Clergy and Monks” fought and continue to fight to curb the advance of the panheresy of ecumenism with historic initiatives, such as the gathering and release of 2009 “Declaration of faith against Ecumenism”, the quotation for the “New Ecclesiology of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (2014)” and others, which were signed by several bishops, hundreds of clergy and monks and tens of thousands of loyals.
Before the summon of the “Synod” of Crete, we co-produced along with the holy Metropolises of Megalopolis, Glyfada, Piraeus & Kythera, the great Theological Seminar “Holy and Great Synod. Great preparation without expectations”, on the 23rd March 2016, in Piraeus. After the “Synod” having in hand a list of various, not only corporate but also personal documents, we negatively estimated and rejected the “Synod”, having a variety of inter-Orthodox communications and meetings, prior and after the “Synod”, with invitees (or participants) from the Patriarchates of Bulgaria and Georgia, as well as from the Holy metropolis of Moldova, associated to the Russian church.
4. You confirm “Synod”? Ritual Cancellation
Therefore, the reason we decided to compose this present Declaration-Protestation, with the capability to be signed by anybody who agrees, is to respectfully request our prelates not to endorse and approve what has been determined in the “Synod” of Crete, which, as we have already shortly analysed, has nothing in common with the Orthodox synods, but is an unorthodox ecumenist “Synod”. For the first time in a synodic document of the Orthodox Church, the ecumenical movement (Ecumenism) is positively valued and the “Synod approves the participation of Orthodox and cordially invites”.
At least, to be rejected as invalid and unconstitutional the notorious script “relations between the Orthodox Church and the remaining Christendom”. Where is the consensus in the matters of faith? When we perform the sect churches and we pray together with the heretics that is not a matter of faith? An inter-Orthodox effort to undertake the responsibility of organizing and convene another Pan-Orthodox Synod using Orthodox arrangements and procedures, that will attest the “Synod” of Crete as pre-Council bishops conference and adjust its resolutions. We realise the distress of the process and the authoritarians’ influence, that benefit and recommend the ecumenical resolutions, as well as the first synodic steps for admission of the ecumenism and absolution of the sects. We owe to meet our commitments and Christ is holding the steer of the church.
However, we hereby emphasize the fact that many of the clergy, monks and laity felt mostly scandalized and are ready to suspend the ritual of bishops who will establish the resolutions of the “Synod” in Grete, according to the sacred canons, the 31st of the Apostles and the 15th of the First-Synod (861), without causing schism or be subject to criminal penalties, but contrariwise should be praised because it is a therapeutic Protestation, which protects the Church from the danger of heresies and schisms.
There are a few that have already proceeded to the cancellation of the commemoration before the synod of the Hierarchy; in Mount Athos particularly, many cell hieromonks as well as other monks have justifiably done that, since their leading bishop is the herald of Ecumenism’s pan-heresy, “bear-headed”, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, whose name they do not wish to be commemorated in their holy services. Those who instead of praising are persecuting these monks that do not follow the patristic, canonical tradition of Mount Athos, are committing an immense canonical and ecclesiastic mistake.
5.The role and responsibility of the faithful members of our Orthodox Church
In the long course of our church history, the believer of God is always the guardian and defender of the truth of our Orthodox faith, is the ultimate arbiter of correctness and validity of any synod resolutions, is the one, who by his ecclesiastical and dogmatic conscience confirms or rejects the Synod resolutions. Respectively, the “Synod” of Crete is accordingly evaluated, as during the so called Synod the Orthodox ecclesiology had been circumvented, the synodicity was catalyzed, resolutions of Ecumenical and Local Councils were fiercely flattened, the patristic tradition of our Church and our holy spiritual orthodox theology were ignored and rejected.
We are all invited, as faithful members of the crew of our Church, not to be indifferent but to express our Orthodox conscience and our sacred indignation for the events in the “Synod” in Crete.
For the “Assembly of Orthodox Clergy and Monks”
Archimandrite Athanasios Athanasiou
Precedent Abbot, H. M. Grand Meteoro
Archimandrite Sarandis Sarandos
Priest, H. C. Kimiseos Theotokou, Amarousion Attikis
Archimandrite Gregorios Hadjinokolaou
Abbot H. C. Agias Triados, Ano Gatzeas
Protopresviteros Georgios Metallinos
Emeritus Professor of Theology School, UOA
Protopresviteros Theodoros Zisis
Emeritus Professor of Theology School, AUT
Those among the clergy, monks, nuns and secularists that wish to participate in this little orthodox confession statement can declare it by writing: «I agree with the Declaration-Confession for Crete’s “Synod” and endorse». Their statement should be sent alongside with their name, clerical, monastic or professional status and their area of habitation in one of the following addresses:
• e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
• «To Palimpsiston» Publishing, 128 Tsimiski str., P.O. Box: 546 21 Thessaloniki, Greece
• «Fotis Kontoglou» Orthodox Romans Assembly, P.O. Box: 107, 42132 Trikala, Greece.
Assembly of Orthodox Clergy and Monks