Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dissent in Cyprus

As noted in an earlier post the Archbishop of Cyprus had some strong words for those protesting the Papal visit. Many of these people are associated with some of the schismatic sects out there. Now however, Metropolitan Athanasios of Lemesou (Cyprus) has chimed in. Mincing no words in a recent interview; he blasted the Pope's planned visit and launched into a fierce attack on the papacy and the Roman Catholic Church...
"Frankly and before all I disagree with the coming of the Pope to Cyprus and I say with my whole soul that the Pope is a heretic, he is not a bishop, he is not an Orthodox Christian and this is what the Holy Fathers say. If I am wrong, I am ready to be corrected, but on the basis of the Holy Fathers, not based on the mindset of globalization. Just because I disagree does not mean that I am being disorderly and am outside the Church [as some have claimed]."
Read the rest here.

Frankly, I see no reason for this sort of invective. As I have noted on numerous occasions there is absolutely no danger of any pending restoration of communion. Let the Pope go where he will within reason. Somehow I doubt that this sort of virulent reaction would be forthcoming if the person visiting Cyprus was the Archbishop of Canterbury (whose orders and sacraments the Church of Cyprus is actually on record recognizing as of the early part of the last century!).

Seriously, how is the Pope threatening the Orthodox Church? Is it because we refer to him as the Pope and address him with the honorifics customary to the office? We do that with Protestant clergy all the time. It's called courtesy and does not imply acceptance of anyone's sacraments or holy orders. It is a given that the Orthodox Church is not of one mind on the subject of the grace of Catholic sacraments.

I don't have a problem with pointing out the silliness of those who constantly predict the imminent end of the schism. I have done that quite a bit myself. It is one thing to point out that we have major issues dividing us and despite four decades of "dialogue" no real progress has been made. It is altogether a different matter to be unnecessarily rude to a guest and make comments which some might call petty (see the references to the Pope's car).

I am inclined to agree with some of what +Athanasios said. The Roman Church is heretical. If I did not believe that I would still be Catholic. But in my experience I haven't seen a lot of people converted by insulting them. Nor is this likely to advance relations with a body (heretical or no) with whom we share a great deal of common interests like combatting the rising tide of secularism and Islamo-Facism and promoting charity. Surely this does not imply the abandonment of the Orthodox Faith.

1 comment:

Joseph Hostetler said...

You may see no reason for the Metropolitan's intervention, but, then again, you don't live in Greece or Cyprus where, with every passing year, more and more such "ecumenical overtures" take place. The problem with this whole shift in approach is that implicitly and openly ecumenist-minded hierarchs are accepting the Pope as a bishop, his church as a part of the One Church, and their mysteries as the Mysteries of the Church. In other words, we are seeing the spread of an ecclesiological heresy. Met. Athanasius says clearly that this is the problem with the Pope's visit - not that he is coming, but under what presuppositions and with what kind of reception by the Church of Cyprus. The fact is that the Archbishop of Cyprus and other hierarchs with him, following the lead of Patriarch Bartholomew, have trampled upon the witness of the Saints in this regard. And there are real, concrete consquences to this stance. Ordinary Roman Catholics, instead of acquiring a "good uneasiness" (Elder Paisios' phrase) and feeling that they are missing something and that something is found in Orthodoxy, are reassured of their churchliness and even orthodoxy and feel that there is no problem at all with the Papacy and its heresies. When Orthodox hierarchs help bring this about, it requires the kind of stance that Met. Athanasius has taken.