Diocese of Etna and Portland, Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece, Ἐκκλησία Γνησίων Ὀρθοδόξων Χριστιανῶν Ἑλλαδος (Ekklesia G.O.Ch. Hellados)

Ruling Hierarch

Monastic Communities

Parishes and Missions

Institutions and Resources




Articles and Readings




Legal Counsel

Frequently Asked Questions

News archives: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

• December 20, 2016:

Seminary Master’s Degree Approved

____ ____

• November 30, 2016:

Pho­to­graph of Pro­fes­sor David Sat­ter’s lec­ture on Novem­ber 20, 2016, in the au­di­to­ri­um of the St. Pho­tios Ortho­dox The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, which seats fifty and which was filled to ca­pac­i­ty. (See sto­ry be­low this en­try.)

____ ____

• November 12, 2016:

Journalist and Scholar to Speak
at St. Photios Seminary

David Sat­ter, for­mer Moscow cor­re­spon­dent for the “Fi­nan­cial Times of Lon­don” and for­mer spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent on Sovi­et af­fairs for “The Wall Street Jour­nal” will de­liv­er a lec­ture on con­tem­po­rary (post-Sovi­et) Rus­sia in the au­di­to­ri­um at the St. Pho­tios Ortho­dox The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, in Et­na, on Sun­day evening, Novem­ber 20, at 6:30 p.m. Space may be lim­it­ed, so we ask that those in­ter­est­ed in at­tend­ing con­tact the sem­i­nary at (530) 467-3544 (be­tween 12 noon and 1 p.m. or be­tween 6 and 8 p.m.) and leave a name and the num­ber of at­ten­dees in their par­ty. There is no charge for the lec­ture.

Pro­fes­sor Sat­ter, a grad­u­ate of the Univer­si­ty of Chica­go and Ox­ford Univer­si­ty, where he was a Rhodes Schol­ar, is cur­rent­ly a se­nior fel­low at the Hud­son In­sti­tute in Wash­ing­ton, DC, and a fel­low of the School of Ad­vanced In­ter­na­tion­al Stud­ies at the Johns Hop­kins Univer­si­ty in Bal­ti­more, Mary­land. He has al­so been a Guggen­heim Fel­low, a re­search fel­low at the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion at Stan­ford Univer­si­ty, and a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor at the Univer­si­ty of Illi­nois at Ur­bana-Cham­paign.

Sat­ter is the au­thor of a pletho­ra of ar­ti­cles in the pop­u­lar press about Rus­sia and—of spe­cial in­ter­est to the St. Pho­tios Sem­i­nary stu­dents and fac­ul­ty—the per­se­cu­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion of the Ortho­dox Church in the Sovi­et Union and un­der Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin. He has au­thored four ma­jor books on Rus­sia, all pub­lished by Yale Univer­si­ty Press, the lat­est en­ti­tled The Less You Know, The Bet­ter You Sleep: Rus­sia's Road to Ter­ror and Dic­ta­tor­ship un­der Yeltsin and Putin.

____ ____

• September 14, 2016:

His Eminence, Bishop Michael of Nora

We re­ceived news this morn­ing, Septem­ber 1 (Septem­ber 14, New Style), from the Con­vent of the Holy An­gels in Aphid­nai (Athens), Greece, of the re­pose of our Holy Syn­od's rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Sar­dinia (Italy), His Emi­nence, the Most Rev­erend Michael, Bish­op of No­ra. He died yes­ter­day, Au­gust 31, 2016 (Old Style), the Feast of the De­po­si­tion of the Pre­cious Cinc­ture of the Theotokos, to whom he was par­tic­u­lar­ly de­vot­ed, at 83 years of age and af­ter an ex­tend­ed ill­ness. His body is be­ing flown to­day to Greece, where he will be buried at the Holy Monastery of Sts. Cypri­an and Justi­na, in Phyle.

Born Michele Pired­da, His Emi­nence was born in 1933 in Cagliari, Sar­dinia, in­to a fam­i­ly of pi­ous Ro­man Catholics. One of nine chil­dren, he be­came a Ro­man Catholic monk and, in the course of his stud­ies, dis­cov­ered Ortho­doxy, which, as he once told His Emi­nence, Bish­op Aux­en­tios of Et­na and Port­land, he found to be the purest form of Chris­tian­i­ty and the tra­di­tion­al re­li­gion of his an­ces­tors on the is­land of Sar­dinia, pri­or to the Great Schism of the Ortho­dox East and the Ro­man Catholic West in the mid-eleventh cen­tu­ry. He con­vert­ed to Ortho­doxy in 1966. He was even­tu­al­ly or­dained a Dea­con (1983), Pri­est (1984), and, as an aux­il­iary to Metropoli­tan Cypri­an of Oro­pos and Phyle (1995), a Bish­op at the monastery in Phyle.

Bish­op Michael es­tab­lished a small but vi­brant dio­cese in Cagliari. He sev­er­al times vis­it­ed our mo­na­stery in Et­na, in­clud­ing a vis­it that co­in­cid­ed with the Glori­fi­ca­tion of St. John of Shang­hai and San Fran­cis­co, for whom he had a pro­found ven­er­a­tion. His Emi­nence had close ties to our monastery. Since he spoke, like many old­er Sar­dini­ans, some Cata­lan, Metropoli­tan Chrysos­to­mos, who has both Greek and Cata­lan roots, was able to com­mu­ni­cate with and trans­late for him dur­ing his vis­its. Our com­mu­ni­ties here in Et­na, there­fore, feel es­pe­cial­ly deeply the loss of this hum­ble and re­mark­ably ded­i­cat­ed ser­vant of the Church.

We would be re­miss not to men­tion Bish­op Michael's abid­ing, unswerv­ing, lov­ing, and in­spir­ing de­vo­tion to his spir­i­tu­al Father, Metropoli­tan Cypri­an of Oro­pos and Phyle, whom he con­sid­ered a tru­ly gen­uine­ly holy man. It is part­ly be­cause of his de­vo­tion to Metropoli­tan Cypri­an and the monastery of his re­pen­tance in Phyle that his wish was to be buried in Greece, so as to be near his Ab­ba and spir­i­tu­al guide, a wish that will now be re­al­ized.

We ex­tend con­do­lences to His Emi­nence's spir­i­tu­al chil­dren in Sar­dinia.

Αἰωνία ἡ μνήμη! Me­mo­ria Eter­na! May his mem­o­ry be eter­nal!

The Fathers,
St. Gre­go­ry Pala­mas Monastery

____ ____

• September 8, 2016:

Coöperative Endeavors of the Center for Traditionalist
Orthodox Studies and the St. Photios Orthodox
Theological Seminary in Etna, CA

Two of the four Ortho­dox foun­da­tions in the small vil­lage of Et­na, CA, which in to­tal com­prise a mo­na­stery, con­vent, sem­i­nary, and small parish Church, have es­tab­lished a work­ing re­la­tion­ship, with the ap­proval of their re­spec­tive Board of Ad­vi­sors and Direc­tors. The Cen­ter for Tra­di­tion­al­ist Ortho­dox Stud­ies (C.T.O.S.), es­tab­lished in 1981, will of­fer its ser­vices to the new­ly es­tab­lished St. Pho­tios Ortho­dox The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary (S.P.O.T.S.), which re­ceived its first six stu­dents in Septem­ber of 2016.

To­geth­er with the Metropoli­tan Cypri­an The­o­log­i­cal Li­brary, with 9,500 vol­umes and 4,000 pe­ri­od­i­cal hold­ings, the Cen­ter for Tra­di­tion­al­ist Ortho­dox Stud­ies oc­cu­pies a two-sto­ry build­ing on the grounds of the St. Gre­go­ry Pala­mas Monastery. The St. Pho­tios Ortho­dox The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary is lo­cat­ed in a for­mer state gov­ern­men­tal ad­min­is­tra­tive fa­cil­i­ty and NGO train­ing cen­ter about two miles from the monastery. Its more than 10,000 square feet of ren­o­vat­ed space hous­es, in a large two-sto­ry fa­cil­i­ty, class­rooms, of­fices, a li­brary, an au­di­to­ri­um, a kitchen and cafe­te­ria, stu­dent dor­mi­to­ry space, a stu­dent ac­tiv­i­ties room, and a small apart­ment for the sem­i­nary house­mas­ter.

With the ex­cep­tion of the Dr. and Mrs. Martin S. Jaf­fee Col­lec­tion, the Dr. Niko­lai E. Khokhlov Col­lec­tion, and a num­ber of Greek Pa­tris­tic col­lec­tions and rare books, the ma­jor­i­ty of the Metropoli­tan Cypri­an The­o­log­i­cal Li­brary’s hold­ings, and all of its pe­ri­od­i­cal col­lec­tions, will be trans­ferred to the new sem­i­nary li­brary. This, to­geth­er with its own ac­qui­si­tions to date, will ex­pand the sem­i­nary book hold­ings to about 15,000 vol­umes, with planned ad­di­tions on a year­ly ba­sis.

The C.T.O.S. will main­tain, along with the Jaf­fee and Khokhlov col­lec­tions, a lim­it­ed col­lec­tion of books and will ex­pand its pri­vate study and read­ing ar­eas, pri­mar­i­ly for the use of the Fathers, main­tain­ing its up­stairs lec­ture area for small­er and non-sem­i­nary-re­lat­ed lec­tures and pre­sen­ta­tions. The Metropoli­tan Cypri­an The­o­log­i­cal Li­brary will be avail­able, when need­ed, to stu­dents in the sem­i­nary’s Master’s pro­gram, which is slat­ed to be­gin in the Fall of 2017.

The Cen­ter for Tra­di­tion­al­ist Ortho­dox Stud­ies will al­so serve as the sem­i­nary press, pub­lish­ing, in ad­di­tion to its own spon­sored re­search, fac­ul­ty lec­tures, ar­ti­cles, and books, as well as works that may in the fu­ture be sub­mit­ted for con­sid­er­a­tion by the sem­i­nary. Nonethe­less, the C.T.O.S. and the sem­i­nary will re­main en­tire­ly in­de­pen­dent in their cor­po­rate struc­ture, ad­min­is­tra­tion, and fi­nances. The sem­i­nary will al­so be sub­ject to all of the reg­u­la­tions of the Cal­i­for­nia State Bureau for Pri­vate Post­sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion and the re­quire­ments of the ac­cred­it­ing com­mis­sion for re­li­gious high­er ed­u­ca­tion with which it now holds ap­pli­cant sta­tus, the As­so­ci­a­tion for Bi­b­li­cal Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (A.B.H.E.), one of the four na­tion­al faith-re­lat­ed ac­cred­i­ta­tion as­so­ci­a­tions rec­og­nized by the U.S. Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and the Coun­cil for Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Ac­cred­i­ta­tion.

____ ____

• September 7, 2016:

Final Degrees Awarded by the Center for
Traditionalist Orthodox Studies

The last cor­re­spon­dence de­grees is­sued by the Cen­ter for Tra­di­tion­al­ist Ortho­dox Stud­ies, which will con­tin­ue its ed­u­ca­tion­al cre­den­tial­ing pro­grams for prospec­tive Pri­ests and Church teach­ers through the de­gree pro­grams at the St. Pho­tios Ortho­dox The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary in Et­na, CA, were award­ed in Au­gust of 2016 to the fol­low­ing can­di­dates:

The Di­plo­ma in Ortho­dox The­o­log­i­cal Stud­ies was award­ed to Sub­dea­con James Michael Kal­basky, who holds a B.S. de­gree in Law En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion from Youngstown State Univer­si­ty, in Youngstown, OH. The Li­cen­ti­ate in Ortho­dox The­o­log­i­cal Stud­ies was award­ed to David Eu­gene San­ders, who holds an M.A. de­gree in Mul­ti­cul­tur­al Ed­u­ca­tion from the Je­suit Catholic Univer­si­ty of San Fran­cis­co, in San Fran­cis­co, CA, and An­drei Raevsky, who earned his M.A. de­gree at the Paul H. Nitze School of Ad­vanced In­ter­na­tion­al Stud­ies, in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., a di­vi­sion of the Johns Hop­kins Univer­si­ty in Bal­ti­more, MD.

The ed­i­tors of Ortho­dox Tra­di­tion and the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the Cen­ter for Tra­di­tion­al­ist Ortho­dox Stud­ies con­grat­u­late these last grad­u­ates of the Cen­ter’s de­gree pro­grams, who bring to an end al­most three and a half decades of ser­vice to the Church in ed­u­cat­ing and form­ing cler­gy and lay teach­ers and the­olo­gians in the tra­di­tion­al teach­ings of Ortho­doxy and the Church Fathers.

____ ____

• August 15, 2016:

Letter Regarding the
St. Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary

____ ____

• August 14, 2016:

Synodal Missions in Africa

When, two years ago, the Holy Synod in Resistance and the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece united, the Synod in Resistance brought to the union, not only its three Sister Churches, the Old Calendar Orthodox Churches of Romania and Bulgaria and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad under Metropolitan Agafangel, but a number of missions in Africa. These missions were for many years, with the blessing of the former President of the Synod in Resistance, Metropolitan Cyprian, under the guidance of His Grace, Bishop Ambrose of Methone, who worked indefatigably and, during times of political turmoil, at great personal risk to build not just many parishes, but several monastic communities. His work has continued with the support and enthusiasm of our united Synod, and tremendous progress, despite the crippling poverty that prevails on the continent of Africa, has been made; the missions are flourishing and the enthusiasm and piety of the faithful are extraordinary. We would like, here, to present a small photographic montage of several communities in the largest of the Synod’s African missions, those in the Democratic Republic of Congo, representative of established parishes and the many parishes under construction. Anyone wishing to support this work may contact Bishop Ambrose at: ambrosec@\hsir.Vorg.

____ ____

• August 13, 2016:

Archbishop Kallinikos’ Nameday

His Beat­i­tude, Arch­bish­op Kallinikos of Athens and All Greece cel­e­brat­ed his Name­day on the Feast of the Holy Mar­tyr Kallinikos, on Ju­ly 29, 2016 (Old Style), with a Li­tur­gy at the Katho­likon (the main Church) of the monastery of his res­i­dence, the Monastery of the Holy Ar­changels (Ἁγίων Ταξιαρχῶν, ha­giōn Tax­i­ar­chōn), in Athikia (Corinth), Greece. Con­cel­e­brat­ing and hon­or­ing him on his Name­day were Metropoli­tans Chrysos­to­mos of At­ti­ca, Geron­tios of Pi­raeus, Gre­go­rios of Τhes­sa­lonike, Pho­tios of Deme­trias, and Bish­op Klemes of Gardikion, along with a large num­ber of Pres­byters and Dea­cons. An Agape Meal for the Cler­gy and lay peo­ple in at­ten­dance was served af­ter the Divine Li­tur­gy. (See be­low, at cen­ter, His Beat­i­tude and the gath­ered Cler­gy.)


____ ____

• July 22, 2016:

The Synaxis of the Clergy of the American Eparchy of the Church
of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece and
the Service of Θυρανοίξια at the Monastery of
St. John of San Francisco in Cobleskill, NY

Between June 17 and 19, 2016 (Old Style), the Amer­i­can Eparchy of our Church marked two im­por­tant events in the life of its Cler­gy and Faith­ful.

On Thurs­day, June 17, un­der the aegis of the Pres­i­dent of the Eparchial Syn­od, His Emi­nence, Metropoli­tan Demetrios of Amer­i­ca, a synax­is of the Amer­i­can Cler­gy of our Church was con­vened at the monastery and spir­i­tu­al cen­ter of our Sis­ter Church, the Rus­sian Ortho­dox Church Abroad, in Moun­tain View, New York, at the in­vi­ta­tion of Arch­bish­op An­dronik of Syra­cuse, who ad­min­is­ters the Moun­tain View monas­tic com­mu­ni­ty and the at­tached cul­tur­al fa­cil­i­ties and who of­fered the vis­i­tors fra­ter­nal hos­pi­tal­i­ty. The tremen­dous­ly suc­cess­ful gath­er­ing of Cler­gy fea­tured a num­ber of in­for­ma­tive talks on pas­toral is­sues and mat­ters of Faith, of­fer­ing an oc­ca­sion for fel­low­ship and in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the par­tic­i­pants. (See, be­low, the Cler­gy, to­geth­er with His Emi­nence, Arch­bish­op An­dronik.) In con­junc­tion with the synax­is, a reg­u­lar meet­ing of the Eparchial Syn­od was held, in which His Emi­nence, Bish­op Aux­en­tios par­tic­i­pat­ed through tele­con­fer­enc­ing, since he was un­able to at­tend the meet­ing or the as­so­ci­at­ed fes­tiv­i­ties in per­son.

On Satur­day, June 19, a sec­ond im­por­tant event took place at the new­ly es­tab­lished Monastery of St. John of San Fran­cis­co, still un­der con­struc­tion (see, be­low, the beaut­ful τέμπλον, or Iconos­ta­sis, al­ready adorn­ing the monastery Church), in Cobleskill, NY. The his­toric sig­nif­i­cance of the event was un­der­scored by the fact that, on this day, the great lu­mi­nary’s Feast Day, the Church was cel­e­brat­ing the fifti­eth an­niver­sary of the re­pose of St. John of Shang­hai and San Fran­cis­co. His Emi­nence, Metropoli­tan Demetrios per­formed the Ser­vice of Θυρανοίξια (thyra­noix­ia or, lit­er­al­ly in Greek, the ser­vice of “open­ing the doors” of a new Church), i.e., the Ded­i­ca­tion or Inau­gu­ra­tion of the new monastery, and presid­ed at an Hier­ar­chi­cal Li­tur­gy in the Saint’s hon­or with four oth­er Bish­ops and some forty Pres­byters, Hieromonks, Dea­cons, and Hierodea­cons.

The fes­tiv­i­ties were fol­lowed by a tra­di­tion­al Agape meal for the Cler­gy and the large crowd of Faith­ful in at­ten­dance.


____ ____

• July 21, 2016:

An Inter-Orthodox Consultation
Held in Athens, Greece

On Thurs­day, May 13, 2016 (Old Style), an In­ter-Ortho­dox Con­sul­ta­tion of the canon­i­cal Bish­ops and cler­gy of the an­ti-ec­u­meni­cal Gen­uine (Old Cal­en­dar) Ortho­dox Church­es, with Syn­ods cen­tered in Greece, Ro­ma­nia, Rus­sia, Ukraine, and Bul­gar­ia, and lo­cal Eparchies through­out the world, was held in Achar­nai (Athens), Greece. The meet­ing was con­vened in the light of the so-called “Holy and Great Syn­od” of the Ortho­dox Church held in Crete in June, 2016, at which the his­tor­i­cal lo­cal Ortho­dox Church­es con­vened to dis­cuss agen­da rang­ing from a con­dem­na­tion of Ortho­dox an­ti-ec­u­menists (“Ortho­dox fun­da­men­tal­ists,” in the lan­guage of the prepara­to­ry com­mis­sions for this gath­er­ing) to the “mod­ern­iza­tion” of the Church’s stands on var­i­ous so­cial is­sues (mar­riage, Ortho­dox re­la­tions with the het­ero­dox, etc.).

Though the Ortho­dox sum­mit in Crete was large­ly a fail­ure, since the na­tion­al Church of Rus­sia and oth­er au­to­cephalous bod­ies did not at­tend, the con­sul­ta­tion of the Gen­uine Ortho­dox Chris­tians, meet­ing be­fore the gath­er­ing in Crete, very ef­fec­tive­ly ex­pressed the tra­di­tion­al “con­science” of the Ortho­dox Faith, pro­vid­ing a very strik­ing con­trast to the dis­cus­sions, de­lib­er­a­tions, and, to a very sig­nif­i­cant ex­tent, the fi­nal doc­u­ments and pro­nounce­ments is­sued by the Bish­ops at the failed syn­od in Crete. Not on­ly did the lat­ter’s ex­clu­sion of the Gen­uine Ortho­dox op­po­nents of the re­li­gious syn­cretism and lib­er­al­ism of ec­u­menism from its de­lib­er­a­tions, but rather its at­tempts to con­demn them at an of­fi­cial lev­el, call in­to ques­tion its mo­tives and Ortho­dox char­ac­ter, but its vi­o­la­tion of the pro­to­cols and pro­vi­sions that ap­ply to the con­vo­ca­tion of a valid syn­od or coun­cil pro­voked a strong re­ac­tion to its pre­ten­sions, even well af­ter the fact of its ob­vi­ous fail­ure, to be­ing such.

In his eru­dite and elo­quent in­tro­duc­tion to the Con­sul­ta­tion, His Beat­i­tude, Arch­bish­op Kallinikos of Athens (see be­low) put forth a pre­assess­ment of the sum­mit in Crete which care­ful­ly enu­mer­at­ed the ob­jec­tions of the Gen­uine Ortho­dox Chris­tians to its very con­cep­tion:

What­ev­er the de­ci­sions of the so-called Great Syn­od of the ec­u­menists, it should be un­der­stood sole­ly from the fact that, first­ly, no is­sue of heresy will be sub­mit­ted for ex­am­i­na­tion; sec­ond­ly, the Bish­ops who will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in it are know­ing and ac­tive ec­u­menists, that is, false teach­ers and false bish­ops; third­ly, is­sues for dis­cus­sion have been set forth from the out­set ‘in con­for­mi­ty with the de­mands of the con­tem­po­rary era’; and fi­nal­ly, that it has a patent­ly ec­u­menist ori­en­ta­tion, based on the ca­co­dox En­cycli­cal of 1920 [from the Oe­c­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­ar­chate]—sole­ly from these giv­en points, I re­it­er­ate, the Syn­od of the ec­u­menists will in any event be a pseu­do-syn­od, not an Ortho­dox Syn­od, but a syn­od in fa­vor of ec­u­menism and at odds with the Gen­uine Ortho­dox Church: a ver­i­ta­ble an­ti-syn­od.
The au­then­tic Pa­tris­tic Tra­di­tion con­cern­ing Ortho­dox Syn­ods, as ex­pressed, for ex­am­ple, by St. Athana­sios the Great of Alexan­dria, en­vi­sions the fol­low­ing pel­lu­cid cri­te­ria:
a. It is not pos­si­ble for those who are im­pi­ous with re­gard to the Faith to take part in an Ortho­dox Syn­od: ‘For it is not pos­si­ble to count in a Syn­od those who are of im­pi­ous be­lief.’
b. The ex­am­i­na­tion of ex­tra­ne­ous busi­ness must not be giv­en prece­dence; salient is­sues of Faith are to be ex­am­ined first, and then oth­er is­sues: ‘nor is it prop­er that the scruti­ny of any mat­ter take prece­dence over the ex­am­i­na­tion of mat­ters of the Faith.’
c. Any con­tention re­gard­ing the Faith must be re­moved from con­sid­er­a­tion first, and then the re­main­ing mat­ters are to be in­ves­ti­gat­ed: ‘All dis­agree­ment con­cern­ing the Faith ought first to be re­moved from con­sid­er­a­tion, and on­ly then may in­quiry be made in­to oth­er mat­ters’ (Pa­trolo­gia Græ­ca, Vol. XXV, col. 736B).

The Con­sul­ta­tion, at which His Emi­nence, Bish­op Aux­en­tios rep­re­sent­ed the Dio­cese of Et­na and Port­land, adopt­ed, af­ter its fi­nal de­lib­er­a­tions, two very sig­nif­i­cant doc­u­ments: 1) “The Con­fes­sion of Faith of the Gen­uine Ortho­dox Chris­tian”; and 2) “A Mes­sage of Vig­i­lance and of Al­le­giance to the ‘Right Con­fes­sion of Faith’ of the Gen­uine Ortho­dox Chris­tians.” Th­ese doc­u­ments can be found in English and oth­er lan­guages on the In­ter­net at http://www.hsir.org/index-en.html.

____ ____

• July 17, 2016:

Anniversary and Retirement

On June 13, 2016 (Old Style), the Feast of the Holy Mar­tyr Aquili­na, the small parish of the Holy Na­tiv­i­ty of the Theotokos, in Port­land, OR, which holds the ti­tle of the Cathe­dral Church of the Dio­cese of Et­na and Port­land (an his­tor­i­cal des­ig­na­tion), spon­sored a re­cep­tion, at the Sun­day Agape Meal af­ter the Divine Li­tur­gy, to cel­e­brate the twen­ty-fifth an­niver­sary of the Or­di­na­tion of the parish Rec­tor, the Very Rev­erend Pro­to­pres­byter Con­stan­tine Parr, to the Pri­est­hood, and al­so to hon­or him and his wife, Pres­bytera Deb­o­rah, on the oc­ca­sion of his si­mul­ta­ne­ous re­tire­ment from the ac­tive Pri­est­hood for rea­sons of ill health.

Father Con­stan­tine will re­main in the parish as an as­sis­tant to the new Rec­tor, Father Pho­tios Coop­er, his spir­i­tu­al son.

His Emi­nence, Bish­op Aux­en­tios, Rul­ing Bish­op of the Dio­cese, was un­able to at­tend the re­cep­tion, ow­ing to on­go­ing meet­ings and dis­cus­sions sur­round­ing the ac­qui­si­tion of state li­cen­sure and aca­dem­ic ac­cred­i­ta­tion for the St. Pho­tios Ortho­dox The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary (un­der con­struc­tion in Et­na, Cal­i­for­nia), from which ac­tiv­i­ties he was un­able to ab­sent him­self. Nonethe­less, he sent a beau­ti­ful ar­range­ment of flow­ers and a per­son­al let­ter prais­ing and ex­press­ing his grat­i­tude to Father Con­stan­tine and his wife for their years of faith­ful ser­vice to the Church and parish, which was read to those present by Sub­dea­con James Kal­basky. The fol­low­ing mov­ing trib­ute is tak­en from His Emi­nence’s let­ter:

Just as I ask the con­gre­ga­tion to ex­press, as I am sure they will, their deep de­vo­tion and grat­i­tude to you, as their Elder and Father, and to Pres­bytera Deb­o­rah, so I im­plore them, in hon­or­ing you, to help and en­cour­age Father Pho­tios, younger in his Pri­est­hood and with the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of a very large fam­i­ly and oth­er bur­dens, in his very first pri­or­i­ty, the one thing nec­es­sary and im­por­tant above all else, his Pri­est­hood. I hope that, as a spir­i­tu­al fam­i­ly and a lov­ing com­mu­ni­ty in the Lord, the parish will do all that it can to aid you in meet­ing your fam­i­ly and per­son­al needs, since you will stay on as one de­serv­ing of re­ward for his years of ser­vice, and, as much as pos­si­ble, to help Father Pho­tios, as he as­sumes your man­tle and, I would hope, fol­lows the good ex­am­ple of your sac­ri­fice and ded­i­ca­tion to the parish.

We wish Father Con­stan­tine ev­ery bless­ing in re­tire­ment, wish Father Pho­tios Grace and strength in ful­fill­ing his new du­ties, and en­treat the Lord that the parish might ex­pe­ri­ence spir­i­tu­al growth and progress in an at­mo­sphere of uni­ty and Chris­tian love.

____ ____

• June 3, 2016:

St. Chrysostomos the New

(click image to open)

____ ____

• May 29, 2016:

Inter-Orthodox Consultation of the
Genuine Orthodox Christians in View of
the So-Called Great Synod of the Ecumenists

(click image to open)

____ ____

• May 1, 2016:

Paschal Message 2016

(click image to open)

____ ____

• April 30, 2016:

Paschal Greeting

(click image to open)

____ ____

• April 1, 2016:

Feast Day of the St. Gregory Palamas Monastery

(click image to open)

____ ____

• March 11, 2016:

Archbishop Kallinikos Honored

(click image to open)

____ ____

• February 22, 2016:

Seminary Accreditation
Applicant Status Granted

(click image to open)

____ ____

• February 20, 2016:

Initial Observations on the Document
“Relations of the Orthodox Church with the
Rest of the Christian World”

(click image to open)

____ ____

• February 15, 2016:

Pastoral Visit to the Holy Archangel Michael
Mission in Bakersfield, California

On Satur­day, Jan­uary 24, and Sun­day, Jan­uary 25, 2016 (Old Style)—Fe­bru­ary 6 and 7, ac­cord­ing to the civ­il cal­en­dar—His Grace, Bish­op Aux­en­tios of Et­na and Port­land made a pas­toral vis­it to the small parish of the Holy Ar­changel Michael in Bak­ers­field, CA, which is served pe­ri­od­i­cal­ly by His Grace, the Right Rev­erend Ser­gios, emer­i­tus Bish­op of Port­land, and cler­gy from his monastery, ded­i­cat­ed to St. Gre­go­ry of Si­nai, in Loch Lomond, CA. Bish­op Aux­en­tios was ac­com­pa­nied by Archi­man­drite (Father Ab­bot) Akakios and Dea­con Father Photii from the St. Gre­go­ry Pala­mas Monastery, in Et­na, CA, as well as Mother El­iz­a­beth, Abbess of the Con­vent of St. El­iz­a­beth the Grand Duchess of Rus­sia, al­so in Et­na, and six of her nuns, who com­prise the con­vent’s choir. The Most Rev­erend Chrysos­to­mos, Metropoli­tan emer­i­tus of Et­na, al­so joined the vis­it­ing cler­gy.

The com­mu­ni­ty in Bak­ers­field wor­ships in a small but warm­ly adorned Church with an at­tached re­cep­tion room and trapeza (re­fec­to­ry). His Grace and the cler­gy cel­e­brat­ed Ves­pers on Satur­day evening and Matins and an Hier­ar­chi­cal Li­tur­gy on Sun­day morn­ing, hon­or­ing the Feast of St. Gre­go­ry the The­olo­gian, Arch­bish­op of Con­stantino­ple. The small Church was filled to ca­pac­i­ty for the Hier­ar­chi­cal Li­tur­gy, at which His Emi­nence, Metropoli­tan Chrysos­to­mos de­liv­ered a ser­mon on the life, sig­nif­i­cance, and mys­ti­cal the­ol­o­gy of St. Gre­go­ry. The ser­vices were beau­ti­ful­ly sung by the nuns, well trained in mu­sic, who sang a num­ber of mag­nif­i­cent Byzan­tine hymns in Greek and a large part of the Divine Li­tur­gy in English to tra­di­tion­al Rus­sian and Ro­ma­ni­an melodies.

After the Li­tur­gy a very nice lun­cheon was served, and His Grace, Bish­op Aux­en­tios was able to speak with and en­cour­age those present, sev­er­al of whom had trav­elled from neigh­bor­ing Los An­ge­les and Te­hachapi and as far away as Ne­va­da to par­tic­i­pate in the ser­vices.

On Satur­day evening, John and Marie En­gel, who are ac­tive and in­de­fati­ga­ble servers in the parish, host­ed a din­ner in a lo­cal seafood restau­rant for the vis­i­tors and the faith­ful in at­ten­dance at the Ves­pers ser­vice. Again on Sun­day evening, the vis­it­ing cler­gy—the nuns hav­ing re­turned to Et­na—were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. En­gel at a meal at their res­i­dence, fol­low­ing the bless­ing of their home by Bish­op Aux­en­tios with Holy Water from Theo­phany. On Mon­day morn­ing, the cler­gy joined Michael and Philothei Gom­bos, two stal­warts and gen­er­ous pa­trons of the small parish in Bak­ers­field, and their son, John, for break­fast at their beau­ti­ful home. His Grace, Bish­op Aux­en­tios not­ed that the fel­low­ship and spir­i­tu­al at­mo­sphere at the gath­er­ing were mem­o­rable and in­ward­ly en­cour­ag­ing.

The week­end was reck­oned by all of the vis­i­tors from Et­na, cler­gy and nuns alike, a won­der­ful op­por­tu­ni­ty to wor­ship with, and be in­spired by a small flock with an en­dur­ing spir­it, great po­ten­tial, and a strong com­mit­ment to the wit­ness of gen­uine Ortho­dox spir­i­tu­al­i­ty. All were im­mense­ly grate­ful for the hos­pi­tal­i­ty shown to them.

Archimandrite Gregory

____ ____

• Fe­bru­ary 12, 2016:

To Con­tem­plate in Read­ing this Short Com­men­tary

Tra­di­tion: "Now I com­mend you be­cause you re­mem­ber me in ev­ery­thing and
main­tain the tra­di­tions even as I de­liv­ered them to you” (I Cor­in­thi­ans 11:2).

The au­thor­i­ty of the Fathers: "For though ye have ten thou­sand in­struc­tors
in Christ, yet [have ye] not many fa­thers” (I Corinthi­ans 4:15).

The goal of Chris­tian­i­ty: "For we are made par­tak­ers of Christ" (He­brews 3:14).
"Where­by are giv­en un­to us ex­ceed­ing great and pre­cious promis­es: that
by these ye might be par­tak­ers of the di­vine na­ture" (II St. Peter 1:4).

28 Jan­uary 2016 (Old Style)
Sts. Isaac and Ephraim the Syr­i­ans

Dear Cler­gy, Faith­ful, and Friends:

Εὐλογία Κυρίου. May the Lord bless you.

The present com­men­tary is my re­sponse to a re­quest from two of our cler­gy in Europe, the Rev­erend Dr. Father Jiří (Ge­orge) Ján (a mar­ried Czech Pri­est liv­ing in Greece) and The Rev­erend Father An­ders Åk­er­ström (a mar­ried Pri­est in Swe­den), who sent me a rather out­ré ar­ti­cle, ask­ing that I write a few words about it. I thank them for their trust in my mea­gre abil­i­ties to do so, ask­ing not on­ly for their for­give­ness for any deficits in my re­flec­tions, but for the pa­tience of those to whom I am dis­tribut­ing them.

Please see, be­low my com­men­tary on it, the ar­ti­cle in ques­tion, en­ti­tled (some­what cu­ri­ous­ly), “The Fu­ture Pan-Ortho­dox Coun­cil on Re­la­tions with the Non-Ortho­dox Other: A Mea­sured De­fense of Chris­tian Uni­ty against those Who Con­sid­er Ec­u­menism a Heresy.” Its au­thor is Paul L. Gavri­lyuk. Pro­fes­sor Gavri­lyuk holds the Aquinas Chair in The­ol­o­gy and Phi­los­o­phy at the Univer­si­ty of St. Thomas, a Ro­man Catholic Univer­si­ty in St. Paul, Min­neso­ta, as­so­ci­at­ed with the An­gelicum in Rome. After study­ing physics in Moscow, he came to the U.S., where he re­ceived a doc­tor­ate in Pa­tris­tics from the Reli­gious Stud­ies pro­gram at South­ern Methodist Univer­si­ty.

Dr. Gavri­lyuk's writ­ings, which are ex­pan­sive, in­clude an in­ter­est­ing vol­ume on Father Ge­orges Florovsky (Ge­orges Florovsky and the Rus­sian Reli­gious Revo­lu­tion), pub­lished by the Ox­ford Univer­si­ty Press. In ad­di­tion to his teach­ing post in Min­neso­ta, he has taught in vis­it­ing posts at Calvin Col­lege, the Pon­tif­i­cal Univer­si­ty of St. Thomas Aquinas (the An­gelicum), and the Ukraini­an Catholic Univer­si­ty in Lviv, Ukraine. Ortho­dox by faith, he is an avid ec­u­menist and sup­port­er of the Ortho­dox Church’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the World Coun­cil of Church­es (WCC).

[I should note that, though one would nev­er con­clude such from his ap­pear­ance, Father Gavri­lyuk is an Ortho­dox Dea­con un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Ortho­dox Church in Amer­i­ca (OCA). In re­fer­ring to him as though he were a lay­man, rather than an Ortho­dox cler­gy­man, I mean no dis­re­spect. I am sim­ply fol­low­ing what is ap­par­ent­ly his pre­ferred style of self-pre­sen­ta­tion, one that he shares with an in­creas­ing num­ber of mod­ernist Ortho­dox cler­gy.]

In this ar­ti­cle, which con­cerns the up­com­ing “Great and Holy Syn­od" [or “Coun­cil,” to use the west­ern term which is used ubiq­ui­tous­ly now, even among Ortho­dox] that is to be held in Crete from June 16-27, 2016 (New Style), he makes the fol­low­ing ten­den­tious com­ment about a state­ment is­sued dur­ing the fi­nal prepara­to­ry meet­ing for the syn­od; i.e., the pre-syn­odal con­dem­na­tion of the an­ti-ec­u­meni­cal Old Cal­en­darist Ortho­dox in Greece, Ro­ma­nia, Bul­gar­ia, Rus­sia, and, in small­er pop­u­la­tions, among Ortho­dox liv­ing in the West. I would like to cen­ter my re­flec­tions on this com­ment in par­tic­u­lar:

Ad­dress­ing an in­ter­nal prob­lem, “the Ortho­dox Church be­lieves that any ef­forts to di­vide the uni­ty of the Church, which are un­der­tak­en by per­sons or groups un­der the pre­text of the pro­tec­tion or de­fense of true Ortho­doxy, must be con­demned.” ...This state­ment is a con­dem­na­tion of cer­tain in­flu­en­tial fringe el­e­ments with­in the Church, who of­ten style them­selves “tra­di­tion­al­ists” re­ject­ing any en­gage­ment in ec­u­meni­cal di­a­logue as a heresy that dam­ages the “pu­ri­ty of Ortho­doxy.” While some Ortho­dox lead­ers have crit­i­cized such a stance, this is the first glob­al pan-Ortho­dox con­dem­na­tion of fa­nati­cism, ob­scu­ran­tism, and tra­di­tion­al­ism.

One can­not but ex­press sur­prise at such in­dis­crim­i­nate words, and es­pe­cial­ly from a com­pe­tent and re­spect­ed schol­ar, an Ortho­dox Chris­tian, and, para­dox­i­cal­ly, giv­en its far from irenic or rec­on­cil­ia­to­ry tone, an ec­u­menist.

Pro­fes­sor Gavri­lyuk’s com­ments seem in­con­gru­ent with a re­spon­si­ble or tra­di­tion­al call for uni­ty from Ortho­dox Hier­ar­chs, since Ortho­dox uni­ty is ul­ti­mate­ly root­ed in a com­mon Bap­tism and a com­mon Con­fes­sion­al (Credal) and Mys­te­ri­o­log­i­cal life (or “Sacra­men­tal life,” to use west­ern nomen­cla­ture again). I do not re­call see­ing a bap­tismal, con­fes­sion­al, credal, or Mys­te­ri­o­log­i­cal ref­er­ence to ec­u­menism or mem­ber­ship in the WCC as re­quire­ments for uni­ty among Ortho­dox be­liev­ers. Sim­i­lar­ly, ar­gu­ing that faith­ful who pur­port to pro­tect the faith, whether with jus­ti­fi­ca­tion or as a “pre­text” for di­vid­ing the Church, should be con­demned pri­ma fa­cie, with­out ex­am­in­ing their mo­ti­va­tions, their ar­gu­ments, and their po­si­tions, is quite a nov­el­ty in Church his­to­ry. I do not re­call such an overt and ag­gres­sive­ly bi­ased ac­tion by any le­git­i­mate syn­od of Ortho­dox Bish­ops faith­ful to the re­li­gion that they are sworn at Con­se­cra­tion to up­hold.

One would ex­pect any de­fense of the Faith to res­onate with those who—if they are do­ing what an Ortho­dox syn­od and Ortho­dox Bish­ops are sup­posed to do—wish to pro­tect the Faith from wrong doc­trine and teach­ing. After all, ev­ery syn­od that the Ortho­dox con­sid­er oe­c­u­meni­cal, whether the sev­en cit­ed by con­ven­tion or the eight or nine that many feel qual­i­fy for the ap­pel­la­tion “oe­c­u­meni­cal,” has con­vened to ex­am­ine what seems to be heresy and to reaf­firm, af­ter such an ex­am­i­na­tion, what is “pleas­ing to the Holy Spir­it” and con­sis­tent with what the Church has al­ways taught ev­ery­where and at all times. In so do­ing, those in at­ten­dance, what­ev­er their stance, were ob­vi­ous­ly at­tempt­ing to unite the Church, whether through the tri­umph of er­ror (in false syn­ods) or truth (in gen­uine Ortho­dox syn­ods). Yet this pro­posed syn­od has de­clared that we, with whom it has had no di­a­logue and whom it has called to no tri­bunal, are en­e­mies of uni­ty and wor­thy of con­dem­na­tion in ad­vance on ac­count of our op­po­si­tion to ec­u­menism.

How, in­deed, does one as­sess the wrong­ness of those whose teach­ings are con­sid­ered ques­tion­able with­out hear­ing their de­fense? How is any syn­od oe­c­u­meni­cal when it con­demns a group of faith­ful with­out al­low­ing them to be present at its de­lib­er­a­tions? And why should a syn­od con­vene to con­demn heresy and reaf­firm the faith if it de­clares per ter­ram per mare, be­fore the fact, that those in ques­tion—in­flu­en­tial fringe el­e­ments, as they call us—are al­ready mis­cre­ants and, by virtue of be­ing a mi­nor­i­ty out­side the cir­cles of the Bish­ops who are meet­ing, have no voice? Fur­ther­more, one won­ders pre­cise­ly who, with­out a sin­gle di­a­logue with us, de­ter­mined that we are mo­ti­vat­ed by a de­sire to di­vide the Church (an as­tound­ing as­sump­tion) and are, be­fore judg­ment, guilty of fa­nati­cism, ob­scu­ran­tism, and tra­di­tion­al­ism?

Grant­ed that fa­nati­cism and ob­scu­ran­tism may be con­trary to the Pa­tris­tic ethos, how in the world can one con­demn Ortho­dox who be­lieve in Holy Tra­di­tion, one of the cor­ner­stones of our Faith, for tra­di­tion­al­ism, sum­mar­i­ly dis­miss­ing them, as well, for their con­vic­tion that the syn­cretism and ec­cle­si­o­log­i­cal rel­a­tivism of the con­tem­po­rary ec­u­meni­cal move­ment dam­ages the “pu­ri­ty” of Ortho­doxy? Can this be done with­out al­low­ing us to de­fine our terms, with­out even ad­dress­ing the is­sue of what we mean by our pro­nounce­ments against ec­u­menism? Is it not, once more, specif­i­cal­ly out of a con­cern for the “pu­ri­ty” of Ortho­doxy that the syn­ods which the Ortho­dox tra­di­tion­al­ly rec­og­nize as oe­c­u­meni­cal were con­vened?

Quite ob­vi­ous­ly, the good pro­fes­sor has not ad­e­quate­ly thought about what he is en­dors­ing. Equal­ly pel­lu­cid is the fact that, whether or not we “tra­di­tonal­ist an­ti-ec­u­menists” are cor­rect in our crit­i­cism of the Ortho­dox ec­u­menists, the con­vo­ca­tion of a syn­od that rests its de­lib­er­a­tions on the dis­missal of dis­senters and mi­nori­ties is in deep trou­ble with re­gard to its sta­tus as a valid gath­er­ing.

At any rate, it be­hooves me, be­yond these gen­er­al ob­ser­va­tions, to note first that with re­gard to the ac­cu­sa­tion of fa­nati­cism, our op­po­si­tion to ec­u­menism is not based on ex­trem­ism, re­li­gious in­tol­er­ance, a dis­re­gard for co­op­er­a­tion with those who may have re­li­gious dif­fer­ences with us, or a lack of sen­si­tiv­i­ty for uni­ty among all Chris­tians. We are not ad­vo­cat­ing big­otry. We are putting forth our sin­cere be­lief that uni­ty lies in a re­turn to the cri­te­ri­on of Chris­tian­i­ty that we be­lieve we have pre­served from the ear­li­est Chris­tian cen­turies and that we have pro­tect­ed and guard­ed as the source of uni­ty for all Chris­tians. Calling us big­ots for hold­ing this view is tan­ta­mount to mak­ing ex­act­ly the same charge against Ro­man Catholics for claim­ing to be the Una Sanc­ta, a sen­si­tiv­i­ty that has sur­vived in all church bod­ies that turn to the ear­ly Church as their source and ad­here to a the­o­ry of valid con­ti­nu­ity from the Ear­ly Church.

Our in­sis­tence is that uni­ty in the Church—and let me em­pha­size, as I con­stant­ly do, that the great­est spir­i­tu­al tragedy for us Ortho­dox is not cen­tered on our sep­a­ra­tion from one an­oth­er, but is Theo­cen­tric and fo­cused on our sep­a­ra­tion from God—lies in Holy Tra­di­tion. Tra­di­tion has al­ways been for the Ortho­dox the lit­mus test for pure Faith. St. John Chrysos­to­mos prais­es tra­di­tion with­out re­straint: “It is tra­di­tion, ask noth­ing else.” More­over, the Apos­tle Paul ad­mon­ish­es us, as a rule of faith, to hold fast to the tra­di­tions hand­ed down to us. If the ec­u­menists say that our tra­di­tion­al doc­trines and dog­mas are walls that do not reach up to Heav­en, I would re­spond, in Ortho­dox fash­ion, that they are the wa­ter of life, pour­ing down over us from Heav­en like rain, con­sol­ing our thirsty, parched souls.

Th­ese tra­di­tion­al doc­trines and dog­mas and our ad­her­ence to them are, for Ortho­dox Chris­tians, the source of our uni­ty, the foot­prints in which we tread in im­i­tat­ing the Apos­tles, and liv­ing ev­i­dence of our con­fes­sion of Christ as the Son of God and the liv­ing Body of the Church, the Rock on which St. Peter built the Church, which we find with­in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apos­tolic Church. The κριτήριον τῆς ἀληθείας, or the very mea­sure of Truth, is what has been “hand­ed down to us,” the mean­ing of the Greek word for tra­di­tion (παράδοσις), and it is to it that we turn in jus­ti­fy­ing our claims to pri­ma­cy in Chris­tian­i­ty, and not to some ar­ro­gant, sec­tar­i­an de­sire to den­i­grate those of oth­er re­li­gions. Thus, to call us tra­di­tion­al­ists, along with such no­table con­tem­po­rary crit­ics of ec­u­menism as St. Justin of Ser­bia, St. Seraphim of Sofia, and Father Ge­orges Florosvky (a founder of the WCC and a bril­liant man who tried to rec­on­cile tra­di­tion­al­ism with ec­u­menism—and ques­tioned the pos­si­bil­i­ty quite open­ly as he grew old­er), is not an in­sult. What is in­com­pre­hen­si­ble, how­ev­er, is to imag­ine that we should be con­demned by an Ortho­dox Syn­od, in ad­vance of its con­vo­ca­tion, for such tra­di­tion­al­ism! Such a trav­es­ty bor­ders on lu­na­cy.

Fi­nal­ly, Pro­fes­sor Gavri­lyuk notes that we an­ti-ec­u­meni­cal Ortho­dox are ob­scu­ran­tists. I will not pre­tend to un­der­stand with sure­ty what he means by that ep­i­thet, but I can guess. As Ortho­dox tra­di­tion­al­ists, we be­lieve that the tra­di­tions of our Faith (in­clud­ing the fes­tal cal­en­dar that was es­tab­lished by a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt at uni­for­mi­ty in the ear­ly Church and which held firm in the whole of Ortho­doxy un­til the 1920s) are sa­cred, in­spired by the Holy Spir­it, ba­sic to our self-iden­ti­ty, and con­sti­tute a path to union with Christ (θέωσις) by way of a life of mys­ti­cal “oth­er-world­li­ness.” By prayer, fast­ing, in­ner trans­for­ma­tion, and pu­ri­ty of life, we ac­quire the Holy Spir­it, a cleans­ing of the heart, the en­light­en­ment of the mind, and sal­va­tion (restora­tion to what God cre­at­ed us to be be­fore the Fall). This method is ful­ly ex­pressed in the Hesy­chas­tic tra­di­tion of the Church, which St. Gre­go­ry Pala­mas cham­pi­oned in the four­teenth cen­tu­ry and which we hold to be the pure teach­ing of Chris­tian life that traces to Christ and His Dis­ci­ples, the Fathers, and the Saints. It is the sum of Holy Tra­di­tion and the teach­ing that uni­fies Chris­tian­i­ty.

Hesy­chasm and the mys­ti­cal teach­ings of the Church have of­ten been dis­missed in the West, and in west­ern­ized Ortho­dox cir­cles (and fla­grant­ly so in Rus­sia and Ukraine dur­ing their pe­ri­ods of west­ern­iza­tion), as ob­scu­ran­tist, as a de­vi­a­tion from the Scholas­tic and Re­formed teach­ings that have dom­i­nat­ed west­ern Chris­tian aca­dem­ic the­ol­o­gy (stan­dards not fair­ly ap­plied to Ortho­doxy), and as quasi-Chris­tian in ori­gin. Some un­wise and self-loathing Ortho­dox the­o­log­i­cal voic­es have even tried to link the strict “oth­er-world­ly” el­e­ments in Hesy­chasm (shock­ing­ly enough) with me­dieval Gnos­ti­cism and Bo­gomil­ism. Notwith­stand­ing the fact that to be Ortho­dox is to em­brace Hesy­chasm, which is ba­sic to Ὀρθοπραξία, or the prac­tice and liv­ing of the Ortho­dox Faith and Holy Tra­di­tion, with­out which, ac­cord­ing to Scrip­ture and by Pa­tris­tic con­sen­sus, Ortho­doxy (cor­rect­ness of be­lief) it­self re­mains in­fe­cund, there are Ortho­dox to­day who wish the Church to be in­volved in the world, to be rel­e­vant to the world, and to com­ple­ment, rather than chal­lenge, the het­ero­dox con­fes­sions. Th­ese in­di­vid­u­als com­prise the vast ma­jor­i­ty of the ec­u­menists in con­tem­po­rary Ortho­doxy and in their cir­cles Hesy­chasm and its pre­cepts are fre­quent­ly la­belled as “ob­scu­ran­tist.” I am dis­mayed that these el­e­ments would con­demn a pri­ori, in the name of an ill-ad­vised and would-be “pan-Ortho­dox” or “oe­c­u­meni­cal” syn­od, the foun­da­tions of Ortho­dox spir­i­tu­al­i­ty.

There are het­ero­dox Chris­tians who look to Ortho­doxy as a bas­tion of tra­di­tion­al­ism, mys­ti­cal the­ol­o­gy, and spir­i­tu­al lofti­ness. To them, whether or not they ad­here to our dec­la­ra­tion of the pri­ma­cy of Ortho­doxy as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apos­tolic Church, as the very in­her­i­tor of what Je­sus Christ taught, the Apos­tles preached, and the Fathers pre­served, Ortho­doxy has of­ten served as a bright star and dis­tant aim. Many se­ri­ous spir­i­tu­al seek­ers, and es­pe­cial­ly those who main­tain some un­der­stand­ing of Chris­tian­i­ty in the light of its con­tin­u­ous wit­ness to an an­cient way to hu­man trans­for­ma­tion, look pos­i­tive­ly to Ortho­doxy as a lux ex Ori­ente: an abid­ing spir­i­tu­al lega­cy of the spir­i­tu­al rev­e­la­tion of Christ, which so trans­formed the world and which is so re­viled by our con­tem­po­rary fool­ish so­ci­eties. Ec­u­menism has un­ques­tion­ably un­der­mined this vi­sion of the “pure” Faith that we “tra­di­tion­al­ists” and “ob­scu­ran­tists” have sed­u­lous­ly at­tempt­ed to pre­serve and per­pet­u­ate, and it has thus con­tribut­ed, wit­ting­ly or oth­er­wise, to the an­ti-Chris­tian spir­it of our day, where rel­a­tivism and syn­cretism stand in op­po­si­tion to spir­i­tu­al ab­so­lutes and uni­ver­sal (in­deed, tru­ly ec­u­meni­cal) Truth. This fact alone jus­ti­fies our wit­ness and our ef­forts to re­vive Ortho­doxy from the sleep of spir­i­tu­al and ec­cle­si­o­log­i­cal rel­a­tivism and syn­cretism. In ob­serv­ing this, I must won­der what jus­ti­fies the ec­u­meni­cal Ortho­dox who:

1) have made ec­u­menism a cri­te­ri­on of Ortho­doxy;
2) have con­demned us Gen­uine Ortho­dox apol­o­gists as “tra­di­tion­al­ists,” “ob­scu­ran­tists,” and as “fringe el­e­ments”;
3) have, de­spite main­tain­ing that mi­nor­i­ty voic­es would be heard at their forth­com­ing “pan-Ortho­dox” syn­od, con­demned us with­out di­a­logue, with­out sum­mon­ing us to be heard, and be­fore their syn­od has even been con­vened;
4) have ad­mit­ted that we are wor­thy of their un­just con­dem­na­tions and their ug­ly ep­i­thets be­cause of the “in­flu­ence” that we ex­er­cise, in our strug­gles for True Ortho­doxy and Holy Tra­di­tion as uni­fy­ing prin­ci­ples, as threat­en­ing the uni­ty of the Church!

As I said above, I am afraid that Pro­fes­sor Gavri­lyuk has not care­ful­ly thought about his com­ments re­gard­ing the up­com­ing syn­od, its de­vi­a­tions from Ortho­dox so­bri­ety, and the rather un­fair, per­haps crude, and inar­guably in­ap­pro­pri­ate ep­i­thets that have been used, by dic­ta­to­ri­al fi­at, to ex­clude us—these ec­u­menists who cham­pi­on in­clu­sive­ness—from their de­lib­er­a­tions and to de­clare us—these ec­u­menists who nonethe­less de­cry such words and de­clare all church­es sis­ters—mis­cre­ants, schis­mat­ics, heretics, and out­side the Church. That they seem to glo­ry in see­ing us de­per­son­al­ized, a sup­posed taboo for the ec­u­meni­cal move­ment, in a “glob­al pan-Ortho­dox” con­dem­na­tion of sup­posed fa­nati­cism, tra­di­tion­al­ism, and ob­scu­ran­tism—this I find ab­hor­rent, fa­nat­ic tra­di­tion­al­ist and ob­scu­ran­tist though I may be.

What­ev­er we may be, and what­ev­er our faults, are the ec­u­menists and those who sup­port them not some­how, in some small way, ashamed of their be­hav­iors and self-as­sumed spir­i­tu­al au­thor­i­ty?

The Most Reverend Chrysostomos, former
Archbishop and Metropolitan emeritus of Etna

The Fu­ture Pan-Ortho­dox Coun­cil on Re­la­tions with the Non-Ortho­dox Other:
A Mea­sured De­fense of Chris­tian Uni­ty against
those Who Con­sid­er Ec­u­menism a Heresy

Paul L. Gavri­lyuk

At the re­cent­ly con­clud­ed Sy­nax­is, the heads of the self-gov­ern­ing Ortho­dox Church­es re­solved to as­sem­ble the Great and Holy Coun­cil of the Ortho­dox Church in Crete on 16–27 June 2016. As the drafts of the doc­u­ments to be pro­mul­gat­ed by the Coun­cil be­come pub­licly avail­able, Ortho­dox faith­ful and oth­er Chris­tians around the world will par­tic­i­pate in the pro­cess of their re­cep­tion. Below I will dis­cuss the main mes­sage, se­lect is­sues, and po­ten­tial im­pact of the draft doc­u­ment ti­tled “The Re­la­tions of the Ortho­dox Church with the Rest of the Chris­tian World,” adopt­ed at the Fifth Pan-Ortho­dox Pre­lim­i­nary Meet­ing in Cham­bésy, 10–17 Oc­to­ber 2015. All ref­er­ences are to the para­graphs num­bered in the doc­u­ment.

The main mes­sage of the doc­u­ment is to af­firm a ro­bust pan-Ortho­dox com­mit­ment to the pur­suit of Chris­tian uni­ty through mul­ti-lev­el ec­u­meni­cal di­a­logues. The doc­u­ment ad­um­brates the the­o­log­i­cal foun­da­tions of Chris­tian uni­ty and pro­vides the guide­lines for en­gag­ing in such di­a­logues. The uni­ty of the Ortho­dox Church “can­not be vi­o­lat­ed” (6) and “is ex­pressed in the apos­tolic suc­ces­sion and the pa­tris­tic tra­di­tion” (2), es­pe­cial­ly “in the teach­ing of the sev­en Ec­u­meni­cal Coun­cils” (18, cf. 3). The Ortho­dox Church re­jects the idea of the “equal­i­ty of con­fes­sions” (18) and holds that there is a “hi­er­ar­chy of dif­fi­cul­ties” on the way to Chris­tian uni­ty.

Ad­dress­ing an in­ter­nal prob­lem, “the Ortho­dox Church be­lieves that any ef­forts to di­vide the uni­ty of the Church, which are un­der­tak­en by per­sons or groups un­der the pre­text of the pro­tec­tion or de­fense of true Ortho­doxy, must be con­demned” (22). This state­ment is a con­dem­na­tion of cer­tain in­flu­en­tial fringe el­e­ments with­in the Church, who of­ten style them­selves “tra­di­tion­al­ists” re­ject­ing any en­gage­ment in ec­u­meni­cal di­a­logue as a heresy that dam­ages the “pu­ri­ty of Ortho­doxy.” While some Ortho­dox lead­ers have crit­i­cized such a stance, this is the first glob­al pan-Ortho­dox con­dem­na­tion of fa­nati­cism, ob­scu­ran­tism, and tra­di­tion­al­ism.

The guide­lines for en­gag­ing in ec­u­meni­cal di­a­logue in­clude “the ef­forts to co­or­di­nate the work of dif­fer­ent pan-Ortho­dox the­o­log­i­cal com­mis­sions” (13). The doc­u­ment spec­i­fies that if the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of a par­tic­u­lar self-gov­ern­ing Ortho­dox Church de­cide to ab­sent them­selves from a bi­lat­er­al meet­ing, the di­a­logue con­tin­ues with­out in­ter­rup­tion (9). If this par­tic­u­lar Church has strong grounds for dis­con­tin­u­ing its par­tic­i­pa­tion in a par­tic­u­lar di­a­logue, this Church should in­form the Ec­u­meni­cal Pa­tri­ar­chate and oth­er lo­cal Church­es in writ­ing (10). This pro­vi­sion was in­tro­duced to pre­vent the prac­tice of aban­don­ing the floor of the meet­ing in protest, as did the del­e­ga­tion of the Rus­sian Ortho­dox Church dur­ing a meet­ing of a joint Ortho­dox-Catholic In­ter­na­tion­al Com­mis­sion in Raven­na in 2007, re­act­ing against Con­stantino­ple’s pol­i­cy vis-à-vis the Ortho­dox Church of Es­to­nia.

The doc­u­ment notes the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Ortho­dox Church in the work of the World Coun­cil of Church­es (WCC) from its foun­da­tion and en­dors­es the Toron­to State­ment (1950) “The Church, the Church­es, and the World Coun­cil of Church­es” as a ba­sis of the Ortho­dox par­tic­i­pa­tion in WCC (20), es­pe­cial­ly high­light­ing the work of the Faith and Order Com­mis­sion (21). The doc­u­ment al­so points out that the Ge­or­gian Ortho­dox Church and the Bul­gar­i­an Ortho­dox Church re­signed from the WCC, in­di­cat­ing that these lo­cal church­es have a “spe­cial opin­ion” re­gard­ing the work of the WCC (16). By call­ing at­ten­tion to the “spe­cial opin­ion” of a dis­sent­ing mi­nor­i­ty (Ge­or­gia and Bul­gar­ia) and in­di­cat­ing a strong con­sen­sus of a broad ma­jor­i­ty of the Ortho­dox Church­es, the doc­u­ment sets a pat­tern for ap­ply­ing the “con­sen­sus rule” to the con­cil­iar pro­cess.

In this doc­u­ment, the Coun­cil Fathers send a strong mes­sage that the quest for Chris­tian uni­ty is at the core of the Ortho­dox Church’s mis­sion. The guide­lines for en­gag­ing in the di­a­logue are ad­um­brat­ed and the ob­scu­ran­tists who re­ject ec­u­menism as “heresy” are con­demned.

Ro­man Catholics will find many parts of this doc­u­ment con­ge­nial. For ex­am­ple, the con­cept of the “hi­er­ar­chy of dif­fi­cul­ties” (12) echoes the lan­guage of the “hi­er­ar­chy of truths” that was adopt­ed by Vat­i­can II’s de­cree on ec­u­menism, Uni­tatis Red­in­te­gra­tio. It should be not­ed that Uni­tatis Red­in­te­gra­tio spells out the com­mon fea­tures of Ortho­doxy and Catholi­cism, where­as the doc­u­ment un­der dis­cus­sion is silent on the mat­ter.

There is present­ly some talk about the meet­ing be­tween pope Fran­cis and pa­tri­arch Kir­ill of Moscow “un­der the trop­i­cal skies” of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca in mid-Fe­bru­ary this year. Will the pa­tri­arch in­vite the pope to the Great and Holy Coun­cil? Un­like­ly, but a lim­it­ed num­ber of Catholic ob­servers will be in­vit­ed. Let’s hope that their par­tic­i­pa­tion bears as much fruit as the Ortho­dox par­tic­i­pa­tion at the Vat­i­can II did.
28 Jan­uary 2016

____ ____

• January 13, 2016:


13 January 2016

Pickwick Publications released the following new book this week, featuring the
writings of scholars from the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies
and the St. Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary


Selected Readings on Hellenistic and Christian
Learning and Thought in the Early Greek Fathers

by the Most Reverend Chrysostomos
Bishop Auxentios, Archimandrite Patapios,
Constantine Cavarnos, and the Reverend
Gregory Telepneff

order from your
local bookstore or contact the publisher at:


$20.00 + shipping and handling

Available at Amazon in 6-8 weeks,
through Ingram book distributors in 4 weeks,
and as a Kindle book in 3-6 months

This book ar­gues, from a dis­tinct­ly Eastern Ortho­dox per­spec­tive, for the in­sep­a­ra­bil­i­ty of clas­si­cal Hel­lenism from the Greek pa­tris­tic tra­di­tion, pos­tu­lat­ing a com­mon striv­ing for truth in both do­mains and lay­ing em­pha­sis on the con­tri­bu­tions of the an­cients and Greek paideia to Chris­tian learn­ing and cul­ture. The es­says con­tained in the vol­ume pro­vide a fruit­ful strat­e­gy, in the spir­it of the late Wern­er Jaeger, for look­ing anew at the Greek clas­si­cal world and Chris­tian­i­ty through the eyes of the Greek fa­thers, the di­rect in­her­i­tors of the an­cient Greek world­view. Col­lec­tive­ly, the au­thor and con­trib­u­tors force­ful­ly demon­strate that, con­flat­ed with the vi­sion­ary in­sights of the Jewish prophets and of Jewish mes­sian­ism, the wis­dom of the an­cients served to pave the way for the un­fold­ing of the full­ness of Chris­tian teach­ing and its spir­i­tu­al­ly en­light­en­ing rev­e­la­tion.


• “Arch­bish­op Chrysos­to­mos has not mere­ly pro­duced a sim­ple col­lec­tion of texts. If one fol­lows them step by step, he will cer­tain­ly de­ci­pher a gold­en thread that goes deep­er in­to the his­to­ry of the birth of Ortho­dox Chris­tian­i­ty.... The sub­ject mat­ter is com­plex and dif­fi­cult. Nev­er­the­less [the book] com­mends it­self as an easy, fruit­ful, eru­dite, and spir­i­tu­al read­ing.”
Re­mus Rus,
Pro­fes­sor of The­ol­o­gy, emer­i­tus,
Univer­si­ty of Bucharest, Ro­ma­nia

• “This fine book il­lus­trates how ear­ly Chris­tian thought syn­the­sized Jewish rev­e­la­tion with Greek phi­los­o­phy and lit­er­a­ture, in­te­grat­ing in­tel­lec­tu­al knowl­edge with spir­i­tu­al un­der­stand­ing. The ar­ti­cles il­lus­trate this syn­the­sis with a num­ber of top­ics, such as the re­la­tion­ship be­tween soul, body, and spir­it. Metropoli­tan Chrysos­to­mos’ clear In­tro­duc­tion en­cour­ages read­ers, in the cur­rent an­ti-Chris­tian cul­ture, to un­der­stand the pow­er­ful truths and in­sights of the ear­ly Chris­tian writ­ers.”
Jef­frey Bur­ton Rus­sell,
Pro­fes­sor of His­to­ry, emer­i­tus,
Univer­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San­ta Bar­bara

• “This en­gag­ing col­lec­tion of es­says, which ex­plores the dy­nam­ic re­la­tion­ship be­tween Hel­lenis­tic thought and the writ­ings of the Greek Fathers, opens a dou­ble win­dow on Chris­tian­i­ty and the clas­si­cal world. What read­ers will find here are vis­tas cer­tain to in­form their un­der­stand­ing of the link be­tween the wis­dom of Homer and Sopho­cles, Pla­to and Aris­to­tle, and the di­vine rev­e­la­tions of pa­tris­tic tra­di­tion.”
Christo­pher Mer­rill,
au­thor of Things of the Hid­den God: Jour­ney to the Holy Moun­tain
Direc­tor, In­ter­na­tion­al Writ­ing Pro­gram, Univer­si­ty of Iowa

• “The pub­li­ca­tion of this new vol­ume...is very wel­come. The pos­si­bil­i­ty to study in greater depth the at­ti­tudes of the ear­ly Church Fathers who wrote in the Greek lan­guage to­wards clas­si­cal learn­ing is very im­por­tant.... May this book be a source of in­for­ma­tion, in­spi­ra­tion, and en­cour­age­ment for many peo­ple of good will.”
Hieromonk Go­razd (Vopa­trny),
Direc­tor of the In­sti­tute of Eastern Chris­tian­i­ty,
Hus­site Fac­ul­ty of The­ol­o­gy, Charles Univer­si­ty in Prague

____ ____