UNIA: The Face and the Disguise
Message by the Primates of the Holy Orthodox Churches (Excerpts)
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
1. Having convened in the Holy Spirit in a conference, on this day, the 15th of March 1992, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, upon the initiative and the invitation of the Primate among us, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew - following a desire that was expressed also by other brethren Primates - in Fanarion and under his chairmanship, we, by the mercy of God Primates of the local, most holy Patriarchates and Autocephalous and Autonomous Orthodox Churches, as follows:
† Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,
† Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Parthenios,
† Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Ignatius,
† Patriarch of the Holy City Jerusalem and All Palestine Diodorus,
† Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexios,
† Patriarch of Belgrade and all Serbia Paul,
† Patriarch of Bucharest and All Rumania Theoktistos,
† Patriarch of Sofia and All Bulgaria Maximus,
† Archbishop of Metchet and Tiflis, General Patriarch of All Georgia Elias (represented by the Ecumenical Triarch),
† Archbishop of New Justiniana and of Cyprus Chrysostom (represented by His Beatitude the Patriarch of Alexandria),
† Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Seraphim,
† Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland Basil,
† Metropolitan of Prague and All Czechoslovakia Dorotheos, and
† Archbishop of Karelia and All Finland John,
having deliberated with fraternal love on matters preoccupying our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church and having co-officiated in the Divine Eucharist on this Sunday -which for centuries is dedicated to Orthodoxy- in the Patriarchal Temple of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, do proclaim the following:
After offering from deep inside a glorification to the Triune God, Who made us worthy of seeing each other face to face and of exchanging the greeting of love and peace in order to commonly partake of the Chalice of Life and to also savour the divine gift of pan-orthodox unity; and conscious of the responsibility that the Lord's Providence placed upon our shoulders as shepherds of the Church and spiritual leaders, we - in humility and love - extend to every good-willed person, and moreso to our brothers and co-bishops, as well as to the entire pious pleroma of the Orthodox Church, a blessing from God, a greeting of peace and a word of entreaty(Hebr.13:22):
"Rejoice, our brethren, in the Lord always!" (Philip.3:1)
"Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might" (Ephes.6:10).
4. It was in this spirit of concern for the unity also of all those who believe in Christ that we have participated in the Ecumenical Movement in our days. This participation was based on the conviction that we Orthodox are obliged to contribute as best we can towards the restitution of unity, providing witness of the one, indivisible Church of the Apostles, the Fathers and the Ecumenical Synods. We had furthermore the expectation -during the time of immense difficulties- that the Orthodox Church would have had the right to count on a solidarity on the part of all those who believe in Christ – a solidarity which was, after all, continuously being proclaimed as the chief ideal of this Movement. With much sorrow and an overwhelmed heart we have discovered that certain circles within the bosom of the Roman-Catholic Church have proceeded with acts that are entirely contrary to the spirit of the dialogue of love and of the truth.
We have always had clear communication with everyone in the ecumenical meetings and in the bilateral theological dialogues, and we were expecting - after the collapse of the atheist, communist regimes under which many Orthodox Churches had been so severely persecuted and afflicted - a brotherly solidarity, or at least a show of understanding, as regards the difficult (and mostly tragic, by way of financial and poemantic prerequisites) situation of the said Orthodox Churches, after 50, even 70, years of relentless persecutions.
Instead, the traditionally Orthodox countries had been regarded as "missionary sites" and thus, missionary networks are being created therein, and proselytism is being practiced with all the decades-long, pan-Christianically condemned methods, to the detriment of the desired course towards Christian unity. We especially point out and condemn the activities imposed - to the detriment of our Churches - by the Uniates belonging to the Church of Rome, in Ukraine, Rumania, Eastern Slovakia, the Middle East and elsewhere.
It was Unia that had created situations entirely unconciliatory towards the spirit of the dialogue of love and truth, which had been initiated and promoted by the ever-memorable leaders of Christianity, Pope John XXIII and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I and had caused a very grave and incurable injury to it (the dialogue). The same applies also to certain Fundamentalists and Protestants who are eager to "preach" in Orthodox lands which had been under Communist regimes. We consider it unacceptable that these lands have been perceived as "missionary sites", given that the Gospel had been preached there many centuries ago, while the faithful in those lands had often sacrificed even their very lives for their faith in Christ.
With reference to this matter, we would like to remind that by us Orthodox, every form of proselytism is absolutely condemned, inasmuch as it must be clearly discerned from evangelism and missionary work. Proselytism that is addressed to peoples already Christian and in many cases in fact Orthodox - sometimes through material enticements and sometimes through various kinds of force - poisons relations between Christians and is detrimental to the course towards their unity. Missionary work on the other hand - when practiced in non-Christian lands and peoples - comprises a sacred duty of the Church, worthy of every contribution. An Orthodox missionary labor such as this is being carried out today in Asia and Africa, and is worthy of every inter-Orthodox and inter-Christian support.
5. Moving in the spirit of reconciliation, the Orthodox Church has been actively participating for many decades in the attempt to restore Christian unity, which is also a clear-cut and inviolable instruction of the Lord (John 17:21). The participation of the Orthodox Church in whole in the World Council of Churches aspires chiefly and par excellence to this, which is why She does not approve of any tendency that perchance downgrades this primary goal for the sake of other interests and expediencies.
It is for this same reason that the Orthodox stringently disapprove of certain recent developments within the framework of ecumenism, such as the ordination of women to priesthood and the use of abridged language in reference to God, which create serious obstacles in the restitution of unity.
In that same spirit of reconciliation, it is our wish that -upon the withdrawal of the still existing obstacles- the marked progress in some of the dialogues, as is the one with the Eastern Orthodox Churches (the non-Chalcedonian), will lead to a positive result.
8. Having proclaimed the aforementioned in the love of the Lord on this holy and great Sunday of Orthodoxy, we call upon all the pious orthodox faithful worldwide to unite around their canonical shepherds; and for those who believe in Christ, to reconciliation and solidarity in the face of the dangers that also threaten the world today.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Cor.13:13). Amen.
In Fanarion, in the Patriarchates, on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the 15th of March 1992.
THE PRIMATES OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHES
Article published in English on: 4-11-2014.
Last Update: 4-11-2014.