UNIA: The Face and the Disguise
7. Unia in Greece
When speaking of Greece, we imply the Hellenic State (from 1830 onwards), because even as early as the ages of slavery (Turkish occupation, Venetian occupation), the Uniates had already developed a significant deal of activity within the historical Hellenic region, moving within the boundaries of both the Ottoman Empire as well as the Venetian-occupied territories. As underlined above, the graduates of the College of Saint Athanasius had developed an intense Uniate (unifying) movement among the peoples with the same nationality and language as them. The Jesuits, who were supporters of this Uniate move, also appeared in Constantinople from 1583, and with the means they had at their disposal (money, publications, political backing), they became the “evil demon” of the Romaic Ethnarchy, which bore the responsibility for the entire Romaic populace – the Romans (Orthodox) – of the Balkans and Asia Minor.
The actions taken from time to time by the Ecclesiastic Leaders, and indeed by Patriarchs, against the operations of Unia, are the direct confirmation of the deteriorative presence of Unia in the “East”. It was precisely these operations of the Papacy in the East through Unia that were the reason for the convening of the Pan-Orthodox Synod of 1722 in Constantinople, in which the Patriarchs Jeremiah III of Constantinople, Athanasius III of Antioch and Chrysanthus of Jerusalem had participated. In a related encyclical addressed to the Orthodox faithful (Addendum 1), the Synod condemned Unia and pointed out the dangers that its activities in the East contained. An analogous action was taken by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Gregory VI in 1838 (Addendum 2), thus revealing the continuing Uniate menace. The Patriarchal Encyclical referred to them as “wolves in the guise of sheep, insidious and impostors”, castigating their dark operations in Syria, Egypt and Palestine mainly. After the Crimean war, Uniate activity began in Bulgaria – an eparchy of the Romaic Ethnarchy – an action which, in conjunction with other factors (pan-Slavism), led to the Bulgarian schism of 1870 and the Bulgarian Exarchate (1872). But even in 1887, the Ecumenical Patriarchate again castigated the illegal Uniate activities, in one of its Encyclicals. As of 1897, the action of the French Assumptionist* monks began in the East; these were the envoys of Pope Leo XIII. Their leaders were the renowned scientists L. Petit and J. Pargoire, who had tainted their reputations with their propagandist role. The Assumptionists had undertaken to support the Uniates of Bulgaria and were also propagandizing Unia in Constantinople and Thrace. Furthermore, on the instruction of Pope Benedict XIII, Latin clergymen had officiated wearing Orthodox vestments in the Papist schools of Constantinople, naturally for propagandist reasons. Thus, the Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim III was compelled to issue a new (24.3.1907) Encyclical against Uniates and Papist propaganda.
With the guidance and the support of the Assumptionists, who purposely circulated wearing Orthodox vestments, the first Greek Uniates appeared in 1907, organized into a specific community. A student of the propagandist Hyacinthus Marangos – a Dominican monk - was the clergyman Isaiah Papadopoulos, who operated as a proselytizer in Constantinople and was later ordained bishop of Gratianoupolis. Already by 1877 he had become a Papist. Assistant to Isaiah Papadopoulos was George Halavatzis, born on Syros Island to Papist parents. He studied at the Uniate college of Rome and in 1907 was ordained deacon and presbyter by a Papist bishop. He was however sent to Constantinople, where he commenced Uniate action which was so greatly appreciated by Pope Benedict, that in 1920 he was promoted to titulary bishop of Theodoroupolis. His operation, like his other accomplices, was especially focused on Greek youth, through education. Hundreds of Greek youngsters were nurtured with the poison of Papist Unia. They had even founded a women’s monastic order of “sister Hellenes” with the name “Theotokos Pammakaristos”, and were attired with Orthodox vestments so that they would not raise any suspicions and could thus operate more easily.
In Greece proper (the Hellenic State) the Holy Synod under the Metropolitan (Archbishop) of Athens, Theocletus I, issued an Encyclical in 1903 pointing out the danger behind the appearance of Unia’s agents in the Hellenic territory. Up until 1922, Uniate propaganda was unable to organize itself in Greece. In August of 1922 however, after the disaster of Asia Minor, George Halavatzis transferred his operations headquarters from Constantinople to the Athens suburb of Heraclion, and the Order of their nuns to Naxos Island. In Athens, they continued their “philanthropic” activity, also developing tremendous mobility within the social sphere for the purpose of projecting themselves – and especially among the refugees of Asia Minor – to the point that George Halavatzis was decorated by the Hellenic State! This not only solidified the Uniates’ presence in Greece; it also enhanced their self-awareness, making them underline that their opus had been developing “with the propitious consent of the Authorities”. Similar things had been written by Protestant missionaries to their own Societies in the 19th century, likewise motivated at the time under the protection of the Hellenic Authorities… It was chiefly “ladies young and old of the aristocracy (sic)” who propagandized the Uniates’ educational activities; in other words, their operations took place among the Westernized civilians of Hellenic society.
The Church of Greece did not remain inert, nor did She leave the Orthodox fold uninformed. The first official reaction was through a document of the Holy Synod addressed to the Ministry of Ecclesiastic and Public Education in 1924, at the time of the Archbishop Chrysostom I (Papadopoulos). The Holy Synod’s charges were accompanied by its objection to the State’s indifference, and its request to close all other Uniate institutions because they were facilitating Latin propaganda in our Homeland. The anti-Hellenic stance of Rome and the Pope during the disaster of Asia Minor, as well as during the previous World War I was very familiar.
On April 7th 1925, an Encyclical was issued by the Archbishop of Athens Chrysostom against the Uniates, which provoked the intense reaction of George Halavatzis. Correspondence between the two men ensued (1926 onwards), in which Chrysostom of Athens – University professor and Historian – analyzed in a powerful and outspoken manner the Uniate problem in Greece and the danger – both spiritual and political – to the Greek people. Unfortunately however, he left untouched the problem of the essence of Papism; that is, its ecclesiastic status quo.
The Uniate problem had also reached the Greek House of Parliament (1929), but no solution was given. The continuous remonstrations of the Hellenic Clergy resulted in two Court decisions. They were the orders of the Athens Court of Appeals (1930) and of the Athens Supreme Court of Appeals (1931), which imposed on the Uniates the prohibition to wear the external attire of the Orthodox clergy of the Land, in order to prevent the confusion with the Orthodox clergy that was deliberately created by the Uniates. But the Uniates never respected those decisions consistently. On the contrary, Uniatism spread among the Hellenes as well as the remaining Orthodox abroad (Europe, America), exerting its influence on endo-Hellenic reality - in favour of the Papacy and its plans - even from within the Diaspora.
Article published in English on: 23-12-2008.
Last Update: 4-11-2014.