Friday, June 04, 2010

Two Orthodox statements on the Pope's visit to Cyprus

Two rather distinctly different views...

First the address of Archbishop Chrysostomos II to Pope Benedict XVI at an ecumenical celebration after the Pope's arrival.
Your Holiness, Pope Benedict of old Rome,
Welcome to the Island of Saints and Martyrs!

Welcome to the first Church of the Nations, founded by the Apostles Barnabas, Paul and Mark!

Welcome to the Church of the Apostles, after the establishment of which the Holy Spirit led the Apostles to separate themselves from their brethren and sent them towards the Nations!

"So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews … they had gone through the island to Paphos" (Acts 13:4-6).

In this very spot, your Holiness, stood the synagogue of the Jews and from this place St Barnabas and St Paul preached the word of God to the Jews.

"But the word of God is not chained" (2 Timothy 2:9). It could not have been possible for the Spirit of Love of the Incarnate, Crucified and Resurrected Lord to remain restricted among the Jews. Jesus Christ came to the world "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:15).

The commandment of the Holy Ghost was for them to preach to the Nations. Thus, when the Roman deputy, Sergius Paulus, "a prudent man" according to St. Luke, invited the Apostles "to hear the word of God" (Acts 13:7) they gladly went forth to the place where the political administration of the island was based in order to preach the word of the Lord for the first time among the Gentiles also.

At this point, "Barnabas and Paul exchanged their roles. Here was a place not for the Cypriot, but the Roman citizen".

As of that moment Paul became the leader of the mission. He also changed his name. From this moment on he was no longer called Saul in the New Testament, but Paul!

It was in this town that the first miracle of the Apostles was performed, as recorded in the New Testament. It was here that the first European citizen was baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. It was here that the first official citadel of idolatry fell and in its place the glory of the Cross was raised in all its splendor, and would gradually spread to cover the whole of Europe and shape its historical future.

It is here, your Holiness, that the Christian roots of Europe took seed and from here its spiritual shoots first burst forth. The foundations of the edifice of Christian civilization in Europe were laid on this very spot where we now stand, deeply moved by the sense of history. It is for this reason that Cyprus is justly called "the Gate of Christianity in Europe".

Here in Paphos, after the wondrous events that took place, Paul became established as the Apostle to the Nations, and went on to sow the seeds of the bread of life in your own cathedra and throughout the whole of Europe.

Your Holiness,

Since 45 AD when the Apostles first set their foot upon this island until the present day, the Church of Cyprus has had a long and fruitful Christian course. Throughout its long progress it has endured numerous troubles and difficulties, lived through dark nights, experienced many conquests, gone 'through fire and water', but guided always by the Holy Spirit, not only did it survive, but it continues to give its Orthodox Christian Testimony, and to fulfill its God-given mission.

But, alas, since 1974, Cyprus and its Church have been experiencing the most difficult times in their history.

Turkey, which attacked us barbarously and, with the power of its arms, occupied 37% of our territory, is proceeding -- with the tolerance of the so-called 'civilized' world -- to implement its unholy plans, first to annex our occupied territories and then the whole of Cyprus.

In the case of our island, as it has done elsewhere, Turkey has implemented a plan of ethnic cleansing. It drove out the Orthodox Christians from their ancestral homes and brought -- and continues to bring -- hundreds of thousands of settlers from Anatolia, thus altering the demographic character of Cyprus. In addition, it has changed all the historical place names into Turkish ones.

Our cultural heritage has been plundered relentlessly and our Christian monuments are being destroyed or sold on the markets of illicit dealers in antiquities, in an attempt to rid the island of every last trace of all that is Greek or Christian.

We hope that in this terrible ordeal, which has caused so much agony to the Christian congregation of our Church since 1974, the Good and All-Merciful Lord will not turn His face from our suffering people, but will grant us Peace, Freedom, and Justice, thus granting to us the all-fulfilling love given by His presence in our hearts.

In this struggle of ours, Your Holiness, which the Cypriot people are waging with the guidance of their Leaders, we would greatly appreciate your active support. We look forward to your help in order to ensure protection and respect for our sacred monuments and our cultural heritage, in order that the diachronic values of our Christian spirit might prevail. These values are currently being brutally violated by Turkey -- a country desirous of joining the European Union.

Your Holiness,

In this joyful moment of your presence among us together with your retinue, we, the President of the Republic, the Government, the Holy Synod, the pious congregation of our Church, and I personally, would like once again to address to you a heartfelt welcome and wish you a pleasant stay.

+Chrysostomos Archbishop of Cyprus
Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus
4 June 2010

And then the comments of Metropolitan Paul of Kyrenia, Cyprus from 28 May 2010
"It is with the deepest sorrow and spiritual anguish that we have been informed by His Beatitude the Archbishop during the convening of the Holy Synod on the 4th of May 2010, of the visit of the Pope upon the Orthodox soil of our saint-bearing island of Cyprus, which will be taking place pursuant to an official invitation that the President of the Republic of Cyprus extended to him as the Head of the State of Vatican. We have duly expressed our opposition - Synodically - to this visit, and have declared that we shall not participate in any event related to it, because our conscience does not permit it, inasmuch as the Pope is not just any political leader, but the leader of the heresy of Papism. The reason for this is that the Papists, with their adulteration of the proper Ecclesiology, have turned the Church of the living God from a Body of Christ to "a terrestrial political organization", a worldly organism and a state which has secular powers, the way that the Vatican is...

Exploiting the opportunity of this visit, the Pope had asked that his second status also be projected, as the religious leader of the Roman Catholics. That is why he requested and secretly secured through his diplomatic services (as was proven eventually) the approval that he was given - which unfortunately we were informed of only recently, without previously being asked if we consented.

We simply became the audients of that decision, with which we of course disagreed, but alas in vain, since everything had already been finalized and predetermined in advance, unbeknownst to us. The only item that my humble person had agreed to was an encyclical to be dispatched to the Christian flock, in order to prevent any scandalizing and turmoil in the conscience of the faithful, with serious repercussions and unforeseen reactions. It is a pity, watching the supporters of Ecumenism extending compliments and diplomatic politeness to heretics, to the point of praying together with them, despite the explicit prohibition by the sacred Canons, while simultaneously confronting the reactions of the faithful members of the Church (who are agonizing over the outcome of the theological dialogues and are scandalized seeing Orthodox clergy keeping company and praying together with various heretics) with sarcastic smiles and abundant disdain, as though they (the faithful members) are the enemies of the Church.

That is why we consented to the decision to send out a relative encyclical to the Christian flock, in which it would be mentioned that the Pope's visit was in response to an invitation by the President of the Republic, and that during his visit, there would be no theological dialogue taking place, while simultaneously pointing out the delusions of the Roman Catholics and the preservation of Unia. Unfortunately however, we came to realize afterwards, when reading the edited text - which, may it be noted, was sent to us six days after the Synod had convened - that its contents did not correspond to the positions that we had expressed synodically in order to consent to the issuance of the encyclical.

The Roman Catholics once again proved to be excellent diplomats. As made evident in the daily Press, they had arranged the Pope's schedule in such a manner that - by means of worship congregations, especially the one that will take place in the closed stadium of Nicosia where Roman Catholic clergy from the Middle East will be present - confusion will ensue among the pious Orthodox of Cyprus, who are not in a position to discern the Uniates. Seeing them participate in the ritual, dressed in Orthodox vestments, it is certain that they will be misled and scandalized, by perceiving them to be Orthodox clergy. It is also not precluded that many foreign Press agencies - also fooled by the external appearance of the Uniates - will erroneously transmit the news that it is common prayer with "all of the Eastern Orthodox Churches". The attempts of the Vatican to exploit the opportunity and present the Pope as the leader of Christianity and the entire world is very obvious.

With displays such as this, it is our humble opinion that the heretic papists are not assisted in becoming aware of their delusion, but instead are encouraged to preserve their intolerance and remained fixed in their cacodoxies, thus provoking the religious sentiment of the Orthodox. The persistence therefore in the precision of the Orthodox dogma should not be misconstrued as fanaticism or religious intolerance. If only the heretic papists would see their errors, spit out their delusions, return to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and accept the undivided, Apostle-delivered Truth, the way it was formulated in the eight first centuries and safeguarded to this day by the Orthodox Church.

The argument that this visit will supposedly assist in the solving of the Cyprus issue can only cause us pain and immense concern. Let the governors be careful to not intervene in the matters of the Orthodox faith and exert detrimental pressures, supposedly for the sake of national interests, because the only thing they will achieve is the loss of Divine Grace, which will result in precisely the opposite of what they are pursuing. Be not persuaded by potentates, by sons of men, for in them there is no salvation ("Μη πεποίθατε επ' άρχοντας, επί υιούς ανθρώπων, οις ουκ έστι σωτηρία" - Psalm 146:3), the Scripture characteristically mentions. Every time the Orthodox beseeched the Papists - and in fact mixing the matters of the Faith with politics - in order to supposedly obtain Papal help and protection, the exact opposite results were achieved. Those who harbor the illusion and cultivate the idea to the faithful people that by making partners of the heretics they will solve contemporary social or national issues and that the much-coveted union between the Orthodox and the members of other confessions will be achieved with secular criteria, should be aware that the Pope regards the said union with the Orthodox Church as an establishing of the Papal institution in the East and the submission of all the Orthodox, who will thereafter be under his poemantic jurisdiction as Uniates. History teaches us that the Pope has never hastened to aid and support the Orthodox. We share in the agony for the future of our suffering island, but we also humbly believe that Cyprus' vindication will not be achieved by encouraging contemporary syncretism, but rather with the help of almighty God, as has repeatedly been proven within History.

The immediate objective of the Pope is that he be accepted as the universal religious leader of all Christians, and the ultimate one is to be acknowledged as the leader of all religions. The invocation of the Lord's words "that they may all be one..." (John 17:21) for the purpose of laying the foundations for ecumenistic openings has no theological basis, unless it is supported by "the unity in the Faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit", otherwise it will be overlooking the prerequisites placed by Christ Himself: "...just as we are one" (John 17:22).

The Orthodox Church has never ceased to beseech the All-merciful God "for the union of all". It is the sedate, cleansed nous and the incessant Prayer that attract the Grace of the All-holy Spirit and assist in the partaking of the uncreated Grace of God; not the communication skills and public relations. May the Lord shed His light upon us all, so that we might 'correctly preach the word of His truth'...".
Just a reminder; please refrain from overheated comments or polemics in comments. Thanks... John


siege said...

AXIOS, Metropolitan Paul! God grant him many years!

Anonymous said...

AXIOS, +Paul! OCA member.

mike said...

as a Catholic, i found the entire second statement to be one giant polemic.

it's not so much that a metropolitan thinks i or the Pope is a delusional heretic. it's not that he doesn't want the Pope celebrating liturgically with the orthodox or doesn't want the Pope to set foot in an orthodox church. what strikes me is that a hierarch of the orthodox church is indignent that the Pope would even visit "orthodox soil". as if the Pope visiting the thousands of Catholics on "orthodox soil" is cause for deep sorrow and spiritual anguish. perhaps metropolitan paul would find it less provoking to cyprus orthodox if the Catholics left "their soil" altogether? i wonder what the outcry would be if hieracrhs in the Catholic church condemned orthodox presence on the "Catholic soil" of italy, mexico, france, etc.

john, help me out here. am i off the mark? and can anyone tell me how far the metropolitan's comments reach? would churches and hierarchs outside of his diocese agree with the first sentance of his statement or at least "phrase it in a similar manner"?

how often do the statements of orthodox hierarchs reflect the sentiments of parishoners in the pews? has anyone here heard the common layman in their parish have an opinion on the Pope's visit to cyprus?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Reading the first sentence in context +Paul strikes me as leveling a strongly worded complaint against Met. +Chrysostomos. The thrust of this letter is mainly a charge that he and other bishops were mislead as to what the Pope's visit was gong to be about and what it was going to entail. He particularly is ticked with what he sees as inappropriate level's of participation on the part of Orthodox hierarchs.

That said I think you are correct that he would rather the Pope stayed out of traditionally Orthodox countries. There was a time when the Roman Catholic Church jealously guarded its place in Catholic countries and discouraged or simply forbade non-Catholic religions from practicing there on the grounds that it was a danger to the spiritual safety of the people.

Rome has largely abandoned that view. Many if not most Orthodox in the old country have not.

As far as reflecting the views of the folds in the pews (what pews?), our bishops are almost all monastics. They don't take their cues from the laity. In Orthodoxy monks are generally regarded as the guardians of the faith and they tend to be very conservative. Our bishops do not have a reputation for being nuanced or diplomatic on a lot of subjects.

As for here in the United States i recall some brief discussion of this at coffee hour. Most of us are ambivalent on the matter. But the matter. But as for the whole dialogue thing, almost without exception the Orthodox I know, both cradle and convert, think it's a waste of time.


Anonymous said...

Indeed with an attitude like the one shown by Metropolitan Paul, its no surprise that his jurisdiction is under muslim control, as Soloviev predicted. One of these days, moved by the Holy Spirit, these Hierarchs will stop this madness and see what John Bekkos saw as he bemoaning the utter nakedness of their country that allowed the invasion of muslim turks.

mike said...


"That said I think you are correct that he would rather the Pope stayed out of traditionally Orthodox countries. There was a time when the Roman Catholic Church jealously guarded its place in Catholic countries and discouraged or simply forbade non-Catholic religions from practicing there on the grounds that it was a danger to the spiritual safety of the people."

there's the rub. the way i see it, it isn't so much that he (and other bishops) feel they were mislead unto the pretenses of the Pope's visit, but that the Pope is there AT ALL. as an extension of this logic, if the Pope traveling to cyprus just to tend to the Catholic faithful endangers the spiritual well being of the orthodox faithful, then the presense of Catholic faithful on the island endangers the spiritual well being of orthodox as well. One step further, the presense of Catholic faithful in ANY predominenty orthodox country is dangerous and not welcome. does this sum it up?

btw, what's your opinion? is there ever a point where clarity and brevity cross the line to rudeness and lack of charity towards the Catholic faithful? or is "true charity" keeping the Catholic faithful cut off from a Papal visit, so as not to further strengthen their "heretical delusions"?