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"No one man, or group of men, can himself speak for the Church of Christ. It is nonetheless possible to speak from within the Church, in conformity with Orthodox tradition; and it is this that we shall attempt to do." Fr. Seraphim Rose Orthodox Word #1 Jan-Feb 1965 p. 17

False Unity

From:Archbishop Chrysostomos 

Dear A_____:

May God bless you.

Dante's famous quote says it all: "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate" (Abandon hope, all ye who enter here).

This kind of cheap ecumenism, in which we pretend that the issue between Orthodoxy and Rome is simply Papism, will lead to superficial and false unity.

First, does any serious, sane individual believe that primacy and authority in the Early Church have anything to do with the claims and doctrines of the Papacy today, after a thousand years of separation of the Roman Patriarchate from Orthodoxy? Can anyone equate the Orthodox claim to be the continuator of the spiritual essence (as the criterion of Christianity) of the Church with what has over the years resulted in something so absurd as Papal infallibility?

Second, is Christianity not, according to the consensus of the Fathers and the witness of the Undivided Church, united under the primacy of Christ and the authority of Scripture and Holy Tradition? Administrative unity grows out of unity in Faith, not vice versa. How did the early Christians know one another? It was not by their common leaders but by their common Faith, which their leaders (Bishops) were sworn to defend and uphold as the most precious of treasures.

Orthodox who are willing to ignore these simple and basic principles, which any sane Christian can understand, are not rooted in the Faith but are seeking some sort of superficial religion that holds that the separation of man from man, an inevitability of the Fall, is a greater scandal than man's separation from God. The Church exists above all to reconcile man with God; indeed, Christ became man, as the Fathers tell us, that man might, by Grace, become God (i.e. participate in His Energies and become God-like). Only when men and women are made new in God and deified can they overcome human imperfection and become one with another in Christ.

Much to our shame, Orthodox today are willing to compromise in sinful ways, in order to insure that Christianity will survive and to make sure that they do not find themselves part of an irrelevant minority. Whereas, as St. Maximos the Confessor taught, the Church is the universal Body of Christ, and thus survives in the Will of God, and one man with the Truth is a majority, our Orthodox "leaders" believe in our day that they save the Church (the Church given by Christ to save mankind!) and that recognition in the world, rather than preparation for Eternal life, is a sign of Christian strength.

One must ask: What kind of Christianity is being discussed in these "hopeful" dialogues of ecumenism? What kind of Orthodoxy betrays its own ethos in order to join with a wealthy and powerful body that has broken from the hegemony of Orthodox confession and, in fact, claims to be what the Orthodox Church is: that is, the Catholic (Universal) Church? And what kinds of theologians do we have today, who can speak "ecumenispeak" with fluency but cannot speak with any cogency about the most basic definitions of the Church and the very spirit and message of the Fathers?

Where is world Orthodoxy going? Is it not enough for its leaders to violate their consciences and betray their ancestors? Must they now embrace error in a spirit of mutual recognition that puts an end to Orthodox identity? And can they countenance the kind of article that we see below, which makes a mockery of truth and insists that a sweet fragrance comes forth from the sewer of compromise? If so, how are they any different from those who preach religious hatred and division out of egotism and a blind lack of love? In both cases, unity in love and Truth is not their goal.

In the end, all of these false unions, which deviate from love and faith and make a deep bow to power, influence, privilege, and the world, impede any true unity in Christ, for which we should all pine so profoundly that we would gladly give up the world and administrative primacy and authority for the Truth. But to compromise the Truth to spread such primacy and authority around: What does this have to do with Christ, the Church, or evangelization? NOTHING whatsoever. It has the stench of human pride.

* Incidentally, the author of this silliness is quite mistaken about the Orthodox never having agreed to discuss Papal primacy. It was done so over the centuries with frightening results that we should not forget. For example, at the False Union of Ferrara-Florence, in which by sinful compromise the betrayal of Orthodoxy led to the collapse of the Byzantine Empire and the Latinization of the Slavic Churches. History speaks loudly, though certainly not to those who deaden their minds and consciences.

Least Among Monks,

+ Archbishop Chrysostomos


 His editorial comment is worth of quoting: " You can run but you cannot hide -- the walls are closing in.  Just ignore the sign over the door that reads "Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate".

Hat tip: J.G. With Benedict XVI, for the first time in history, the Orthodox have agreed to discuss the primacy of the bishop of Rome, according to the model of the first millennium, when the Church was undivided. Never before seen: the outline of the dialogue.
ROME - This evening, with vespers in the basilica of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls, Benedict XVI is closing the week of prayer for Christian unity.
There are some who say that ecumenism has entered a phase of retreat and chill. But as soon as one that looks to the East, the facts say the opposite. Relations with the Orthodox Churches have never been so promising as they have since Joseph Ratzinger has been pope.
The dates speak for themselves. A period of chill in the theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches of Byzantine tradition began in 1990, when the two sides clashed over so-called "uniatism," meaning the ways in which Catholic communities of the Eastern rites duplicate in everything the parallel Orthodox communities, differing only by their obedience to the Church of Rome.
In Balamond, in Lebanon, the dialogue came to a halt. It hit an even bigger obstacle on the Russian side, where the patriarchate of Moscow could not tolerate seeing itself "invaded" by Catholic missionaries sent there by Pope John Paul II, who were all the more suspect because they were of Polish nationality, historically a rival.
The dialogue remained frozen until, in 2005, the German Joseph Ratzinger ascended to the throne of Peter, a pope highly appreciated in the East for the same reason he prompts criticisms in the West: for his attachment to the great Tradition.
First in Belgrade in 2006, and then in Ravenna in 2007, the international mixed commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches started meeting again.
And what rose to the top of the discussion was precisely the question that most divides East and West: the primacy of the successor of Peter in the universal Church.
From the session in Ravenna emerged the document that marked the shift, dedicated to "conciliarity and authority" in the ecclesial communion.
The document of Ravenna, approved unanimously by both sides, affirms that "primacy and conciliarity are mutually interdependent." And in paragraph 41, it highlights the points of agreement and disagreement:
"Both sides agree that . . . that Rome, as the Church that 'presides in love' according to the phrase of St Ignatius of Antioch, occupied the first place in the taxis, and that the bishop of Rome was therefore the protos among the patriarchs. They disagree, however, on the interpretation of the historical evidence from this era regarding the prerogatives of the bishop of Rome as protos, a matter that was already understood in different ways in the first millennium."

"Protos" is the Greek word that means "first." And "taxis" is the structure of the universal Church.
Since then, the discussion on controversial points has advanced at an accelerated pace. And it has started to examine, above all, how the Churches of East and West interpreted the role of the bishop of Rome during the first millennium, when they were still united.
The basis of the discussion is a text that was drafted on the island of Crete at the beginning of autumn in 2008.
The text has never been made public before now. It is in English, and can be read in its entirety on this page of www.chiesa:

> The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium

The international mixed commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches started discussing this text in Paphos, on the island of Cyprus, from October 16-23, 2009.
It has started to examine the preaching of Peter and Paul in Rome, their martyrdom and the presence of their tombs in Rome, which for Irenaeus of Lyons confers preeminent authority on the apostolic Roman see.
From there, the discussion continued by examining the letter of Pope Clement to the Christians of Corinth, the testimony of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who identifies the Church of Rome as the one that "presides in charity," the role of popes Anicetus and Victor in the controversy surrounding the date of Easter, the positions of St. Cyprian of Carthage in the controversy over whether or not to rebaptize  the "lapsi," meaning the Christians who had sacrificed to idols in order to save their lives.
The intention is to understand to what extent the form that the primacy of the bishop of Rome had in the first millennium can act as a model for a rediscovered unity between East and West in the third millennium of the Christian era.
In the middle, however, there has been a second millennium in which the primacy of the pope was interpreted and lived, in the West, in increasingly accentuated forms, far from the ones that the Churches of the East are willing to accept today.
And this will be the critical point of the discussion. But the delegations from the two sides are not afraid to face it. Benedict XVI himself said this last January 20, explaining in the general audience to the faithful the meaning of the week of prayer for Christian unity:
"With the Orthodox Churches, the international mixed commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches has begun to study a crucial theme in the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox: the role of the bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church in the first millennium, meaning the time in which the Christians of the East and West lived in full communion. This study will be extended afterward to the second millennium."
The next session already has a preset place, Vienna, and a date, from September 20-27, 2010.
For all these years, the head of the Catholic delegation has been Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the pontifical council for the promotion of Christian unity.
As head of the Orthodox delegation for years has been metropolitan of Pergamon Joannis Zizioulas, a theologian of recognized value and of great authority, the "mind" of  ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, and highly respected by pope Ratzinger, with whom he has a relationship of deep friendship.
Relations have also improved with the patriarch of Moscow. In Ravenna, the Russian delegates had abandoned the work because of a disagreement with the patriarch of Constantinople on whether or not to admit Orthodox representatives from the Church of Estonia, which is not recognized by Moscow.
But in Paphos, last October, the tear has been patched up. And now the patriarchate of Moscow has friendly relations with Rome as well. Proof of this came a few months ago, the publication by the patriarchate of a book with writings by Benedict XVI, an initiative without precedent in history.
The initiative will soon be reciprocated by Rome, with writings by patriarch Kirill collected in a volume published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

A meeting between the pope and the patriarch of Moscow is now also in the realm of possibility. Maybe sooner than one might think.