Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Patriarchal Encyclical On the Sunday of Orthodoxy defends ecumenism

Patriarchal and Synodal Encyclical

On the Sunday of Orthodoxy

(February 21, 2010)


By God’s Grace

Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome

and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Fullness of the Church, Grace and Peace

From our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Our most holy Orthodox Church today commemorates its own feast day, and – from this historical and martyric See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – the Mother Church of Constantinople directs its blessing, love and concern to all of its faithful and dedicated spiritual children throughout the world, inviting them to concelebrate in prayer.

Blessed be the name of the Lord! Those who endeavored over the ages to suppress the Church through various visible and invisible persecutions; those who sought to falsify the Church with their heretical teachings; those who wanted to silence the Church, depriving it of its voice and witness; they all proved unsuccessful. The clouds of Martyrs, the tears of the Ascetics, and the prayers of the Saints protect the Church spiritually, while the Comforter and Spirit of Truth leads it to the fullness of truth.

With a sense of duty and responsibility, despite its hurdles and problems, as the First-Throne Church of Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate cares about protecting and establishing the unity of the Orthodox Church, in order that with one voice and in one heart we may confess the Orthodox faith of our Fathers in every age and even in our times. For, Orthodoxy is not a museum treasure that must be preserved; it is a breath of life that must be transmitted and invigorate all people. Orthodoxy is always contemporary, so long as we promote it with humility and interpret it in light of the existential quests and needs of humanity in each historical period and cultural circumstance.

To this purpose, Orthodoxy must be in constant dialogue with the world. The Orthodox Church does not fear dialogue because truth is not afraid of dialogue. On the contrary, if Orthodoxy is enclosed within itself and not in dialogue with those outside, it will both fail in its mission and no longer be the “catholic” and “ecumenical” Church. Instead, it will become an introverted and self-contained group, a “ghetto” on the margins of history. This is why the great Fathers of the Church never feared dialogue with the spiritual culture of their age – indeed even with the pagan idolaters and philosophers of their world – thereby influencing and transforming the civilization of their time and offering us a truly ecumenical Church.

Today, Orthodoxy is called to continue this dialogue with the outside world in order to provide a witness and the life-giving breath of its faith. However, this dialogue cannot reach the outside world unless it first passes through all those that bear the Christian name. Thus, we must first converse as Christians among ourselves in order to resolve our differences, in order that our witness to the outside world may be credible. Our endeavors for the union of all Christians is the will and command of our Lord, who before His Passion prayed to His Father “that all [namely, His disciples] may be one, so that the world may believe that You sent me.” (John 17.21) It is not possible for the Lord to agonize over the unity of His disciples and for us to remain indifferent about the unity of all Christians. This would constitute criminal betrayal and transgression of His divine commandment.

It is precisely for these reasons that, with the mutual agreement and participation of all local Orthodox Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has for many decades conducted official Panorthodox theological dialogues with the larger Christian Churches and Confessions. The aim of these dialogues is, in a spirit of love, to discuss whatever divides Christians both in terms of faith as well as in terms of the organization and life of the Church.

These dialogues, together with every effort for peaceful and fraternal relations of the Orthodox Church with other Christians, are unfortunately challenged today in an unacceptably fanatical way – at least by the standards of a genuinely Orthodox ethos – by certain circles that exclusively claim for themselves the title of zealot and defender of Orthodoxy. As if all the Patriarchs and Sacred Synods of the Orthodox Churches throughout the world, who unanimously decided on and continue to support these dialogues, were not Orthodox. Yet, these opponents of every effort for the restoration of unity among Christians raise themselves above Episcopal Synods of the Church to the dangerous point of creating schisms within the Church.

In their polemical argumentation, these critics of the restoration of unity among Christians do not even hesitate to distort reality in order to deceive and arouse the faithful. Thus, they are silent about the fact that theological dialogues are conducted by unanimous decision of all Orthodox Churches, instead attacking the Ecumenical Patriarchate alone. They disseminate false rumors that union between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches is imminent, while they know well that the differences discussed in these theological dialogues remain numerous and require lengthy debate; moreover, union is not decided by theological commissions but by Church Synods. They assert that the Pope will supposedly subjugate the Orthodox, because they latter submit to dialogue with the Roman Catholics! They condemn those who conduct these dialogues as allegedly “heretics” and “traitors” of Orthodoxy, purely and simply because they converse with non-Orthodox, with whom they share the treasure and truth of our Orthodox faith. They speak condescendingly of every effort for reconciliation among divided Christians and restoration of their unity as purportedly being “the pan-heresy of ecumenism” without providing the slightest evidence that, in its contacts with non-Orthodox, the Orthodox Church has abandoned or denied the doctrines of the Ecumenical Councils and of the Church Fathers.

Beloved children in the Lord, Orthodoxy has no need of either fanaticism or bigotry to protect itself. Whoever believes that Orthodoxy has the truth does not fear dialogue, because truth has never been endangered by dialogue. By contrast, when in our day all people strive to resolve their differences through dialogue, Orthodoxy cannot proceed with intolerance and extremism. You should have utmost confidence in your Mother Church. For the Mother Church has over the ages preserved and transmitted Orthodoxy even to other nations. And today, the Mother Church is struggling amid difficult circumstances to maintain Orthodoxy vibrant and venerable throughout the world.

From the Ecumenical Patriarchate, this sacred Center of Orthodoxy, we embrace all of you lovingly and bless you paternally, praying that you may journey in health through the holy period of contrition and asceticism known as Holy and Great Lent in order that you may become worthy of celebrating the pure Passion and glorious Resurrection of our Savior Lord with all faithful Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

Sunday of Orthodoxy 2010

+ Bartholomew of Constantinople

Fervent supplicant to God for all

+ Constantine of Derkon

+Evangelos of Perge

+ Kallinikos of Lystra

+ Michael of Austria

+ Alexios of Atlanta

+ Joseph of Proikonnisos

+ Demetrios of Sevasteia

+ Irenaios of Myriophyton and Peristasis

+ Chrysostom of Myra

+ Emmanuel of France

+ Makarios of Gortyna and Arkadia

+ Amphilochios of New Zealand



Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Bravo to the Patriarch. Axios!

Neither he nor any other of our prelates are about to compromise Truth or betray Holy Orthodoxy or enter into any false union. Not going to happen.

The only thing to fear is that Rome has been so deceptive time and again over all these centuries. But Bartholomew is a very smart man, and he will not be gulled by anyone.

Hew makes moves that challenge us sometimes, that make us uncomfortable, but guess what? He also tells it like it is to Catholics and others, very nicely but, if you'll notice, unsparingly.

Holy Orthodoxy will be just fine.

Visibilium said...

How about ecumenism between Greeks, Carpathos, OCA, ROCOR, Antiochians, and Serbians? It's easier to talk to Anglicans, Caths, and Prots.

What are the EP's "ecumenical" views about an American Patriarchate?

Enough of my cheap criticism. Anastasia is right, too.

Byzantine Soldier said...

Could one please show us ONE Sacred Synod, Holy Canon or Saint which defends/promotes this type of ecumenism?

Maybe we should have ourselves, our clergymen and laity properly catechised. Maybe we should live the Orthodox life in practice. Maybe we should return back to our Sacred Tradition and guidance from the true Holy Elders/Hierarchs.
Then the example of ones life and prayer will be the reason for others embracing the faith (hence what Christ and Saints have said); not some pseudo-agapological, new age, protestant approach of greatly exceeding 2 admonitions.

"The only hope of salvation from the delusions and the heresies, the innovations and the traps of wicked people and of the devil is prayer, repentance and humility." - St. Joseph the Hesychast of Holy Mount Athos

St. Justin Popovich, on ecumenical dialogue in the name of ‘love’.
“Ecumenism is a collective name for pseudo-Christians, for the pseudo-Churches of Western Europe. Their common evangelical name is ‘ultimate heresy’. Why? Because, through the course of history, diverse heresies have negated or distorted certain characteristics of the Theanthropos, the Lord Christ, and these European heresies leave the Theanthropos in His entirety on one side and put European man in His place. There is, in fact, no substantial difference between papism, Protestantism, ecumenism and the other sects whose name is legion.”

St. Justin Popovich’s view on ‘relating’ to others ‘out of Christ’s love'.
“The contemporary ‘dialogue of love’, that is conducted in the form of empty sentimentalism, is in fact, a faithless negation of the saving sanctification of the Holy Spirit and belief of the truth (II Thess. 2:13), i.e. the solely-saving love of the truth (II Thess. 2:10). The essence of love is truth, and love lives by speaking the truth…There can be no ‘dialogue of love’ without the dialogue of truth. Such a dialogue is otherwise unnatural and false. Hence the commandment of the Christ-bearing Apostle: Let love be without dissimulation (Rom. 12:9)…The heretical, humanistic division and separation of Love and Truth is simply the sign of a lack of theanthropic balance and common sense. In any case, it is never the way of the holy fathers.”

Byzantine Soldier said...

"If some pretend to confess the true Orthodox faith ((like the Uniates, Monophysites, Monothylites, Monoenergites and Schismatic OC's) yet assosiate with the non-Orhotdox (spiritually) and after having been given the necessary direction choose not to distance themselves from them, you should not only refuse to associate with them, but DO NOT EVEN CALL THEM BROTHERS." - St. Basil the Great

Anonymous said...

" not have a single thing to do with schismatics and absolutely nothing with heretics...As you know I myself have avoided them due to their Christ hating and heterodox heresy. " - St. Anthony the Great

“Have nothing to do with them (heretics, ecumenists) even if they happen to be your parents or brothers. The evangelist of Love says this, ‘Do not say even goodmornign to them’.” – Archimandrite Charalambos Basilopoulos

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Cutting and pasting selective quotes from the Fathers does not terribly impress me. Out of curiosity how does one convert people one does not talk to?

Byzantine Soldier said...

"...not terribly impress me"

Why do you feel the need of being impressed? Who is trying to impress you?

“Every work and voice which was not spoken by the Holy Fathers proved to be an innovation.” – St. Maximos the Confessor

“It is for that reason that I say (teach) nothing of what’s mine. I briefly express the thoughts and words passed down by Godly and wise men (Saints).” – St. John of Damascus

“The fact that the spiritual accomlishments of the past do not seem to be appreciated always but on the contrary they are looked upon with some contempt by some contemporary ‘orthodox’ theologians, this does not bring forth a favorable witness about their dogmatic conscience nor does it give the feeling that Tradition is alive in them; especially since these theologians are eager to BETRAY THEIR FATHERS.” – Vladimir Lossky

Are you trying to tell me Christ & His Body (Saints) need correction?

I trust God (The All-Holy Spirit) which speaks through the Christ-like Saint's, and not my own fallen human reasoning (scholasticism/over-rationalism - papism/protestantism).

Byzantine Soldier said...

" does one convert people one does not talk to?"

Show me the fruits of this type of dialogue (ecumenical movement).

Throughout the 2,000 year unchanged Sacred Tradition and God given methodology of the Church, a specific method has always been used. Pointless arguments with heresiarchs, (some of which the Church and Saints/Prophets like St. Kosmas have told us to curse), in other words with people who are NOT ignorant of what Orthodoxy is, accompanied with joint prayers/liturgies and watering down the theology and creating innovations is anti-Christian, un-Orthodox and demonic.

However healthy conversations, with aquiring minds, and hearts with a good disposition, who have not knowledge of Orthodoxy, who are earnestly seeking for Truth and are unaware of the heresy/deception they have been trapped into (out of ignorance), is good.

But... Talk is cheap and actually harmful if not accompanied with practice/good works and true faith. For one will be scandalized by hypocrisy etc...

Anonymous said...

What is the Orthodox method in a nutshell?

"Acquire the spirit of peace and a thousand souls around you shall be saved"

If ALL "Orthodox" by name, who have "put on Christ" and been "sealed with the Holy Spirit" with Baptism/Christmation" (including my wretched self) were living a proper ascetical/mystical, spiritual Orthodox life of repentance and frequent partaking of the Holy Blood & Body of Christ, if not ALL, MOST of the world would embrace the Orthodox Christian faith.

I know that I and many others, are benefited more by an ascetic hermit, who nobody knows the name of, in some remote cave/desert, than some worldly freemasonic socio-political giant and pharisiacal new ager who is out of line and has embraced the spirit of the anti-Christ.

Are we witnessing properly?
Do we have divine eros?
Do we pray unceasingly?
Do we say the Jesus Prayer, fast, keep vigil, study, forgive, have patience, humility, hope etc...
Do people see Christ in us?

If your answer is no, then ain't no dialogue going to do a thing, but cause more problems.

On the other hand...
Let's say all the "Orthodox" who partake in "ecumenical" dialogues were holy.
If the non-Orthodox have withered minds, hardened hearts, ego, pride and a wrong disposition, even if CHRIST was to appear and speak to them of Orthodoxy in comparison to their demonic heresies, they would not only deny Him, but defend their delusion with even more passion.

This is what prelest is.

...Orthodox participation in the Ecumenical Movement has degenerated more and more into an anarchical, truth-despising and canon-despising activity. As such, it cannot but have the strong condemnation of it by enlightened, pious Orthodox Christians. For they take their Faith with the greatest seriousness, regarding it as the only Truth—the Truth that leads to salvation.

—Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, "Fr. Georges Florovsky on Ecumenism," p. 15

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