It is known that last February (from the 16th to the 20th of the month), the Patriarchal Center of Chambésy met for the second time (the first meeting was held from September 29th to October 3rd, 2014). The Inter-Orthodox Special Committee, was established in order to update and correct the Pre-Conciliar Texts which had been decided on at the Pre-Conciliar Meetings, mainly during the 2nd one (Chambésy 1982) and the 3rd one (Chambésy 1986).
After being processed, the texts will be forwarded to the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, which, according to the announcement of the Synaxis of the Primates (March 2014), will convene in Constantinople in 2016.
The object of the Special Committee’s work this time was to update the text of the 3rd Pre-Conciliar Meeting, entitled: “The contribution of the Orthodox Church in the prevalence of peace, justice, freedom, brotherhood and love among peoples and the elimination of racial and other discrimination.”
This text had been composed in the clime of that period, during which the Cold War dominated.
Today, however, the facts have changed; new threats have appeared and other, burning problems have prevailed in their place. Thus, the Committee was obliged to not offer “new wine in old wineskins.” The Committee worked with dignity, and primarily with the deepest sense of respect for the ecclesiastic tradition and the theological truth as delivered by the Fathers.
Its responsibility was and is much larger, more so because it is processing Conciliar texts. If we also consider the fact that Holy and Great Council has been preparing itself for many decades and that the expectations of the ecclesiastic pleroma have also increased, this responsibility becomes a God-commanded duty.
The representatives of all the Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches worked as a body in developing a creative theological dialogue, always with the aim of promoting the Church’s teaching. No-one acted segmentally or individually, or with the intention of attacking the ecclesiastic unity. Thus the exchange of positions and proposals helped to improve the texts, as much as was humanly possible.
This was the spirit and the work of the Committee. Unfortunately, a few days ago an article appeared on the web, entitled: “Homosexuality, the bone of contention between the Orthodox hierarchs in Chambesy Geneva”, which completely distorts reality.
From that specific site, the same text was also re-circulated by others, who are accustomed to mutating Orthodoxy’s defending stance through mudslinging – indicative of their spiritual poverty.
The misled positions and information of the re-circulated article are mainly the following:
- that certain hierarchs supported homosexuality, “and
almost became the cause for the chapter of Sodom and Gomorrah to
be deleted from the Bible. The stance and the
attempts of the specific Hierarchs" -according to the
author of that article- "to modify the Bible and the Sacred
Canons and Patristic teaching raises concern within the bosom of
the Church. "
- that “the conflicts … which arose, reached a tempestous level, according to exclusive information. They were in fact so heated and loud, that, from the closed conference hall, they reached the ears of both the technical staff of the Orthodox Center, as well as the students studying orthodox theology there. ”
- that the amendment, “to the immense sorrow and shame… received the vote of the Hierarchs of Greek origin” (“Chrysostom of Messinia, George of Paphou, Aristarchus of Constantini and Sergius of Good Hope”), including the Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetrias, and that reversely, the Slav-speaking ones – rejected the compromise of shame.”
The author of that article maintained that all of them (that is, the Slav-speaking hierarchs) “did not change their minds, right to the end. Thanks to them, the treacherous revision of Orthodox theology was not realized, given that they refused to incorporate in the text that was drafted for the Holy and Great Synod the position related to the protection of homosexuals.”
What is the objective of that article?
It aims :
– to portray the Orthodox Church as divided, with the Greek-speaking Prelates as “betraying” the ecclesiastic tradition, and the Slavic-speaking ones as its “defenders”;
– to undermine the authority of the Council to the ecclesiastic pleroma, giving the impression that fermentations of treason are taking place.
– to eventually call off the convening of the Council.
The intention of the article’s author is made obvious by the following:
“It would be even better for this Council not to convene at all, given that some who are going to participate in its procedures, are ready to revise … the teaching of the Holy Fathers”. In other words, the author is generating a rickety argument opposing the convening of the Meeting.
What is the reality?
In the text that was agreed upon and signed by all the representatives of the Churches, no reference, not even a single word exists on the subject of homosexuality. Besides, this subject was not even on the agenda. As such, the agreed upon text contains no mention nor any support - of homosexuality.
The specific topic was mentioned entirely by chance during the
discussions, and no Hierarch had advocated in favour of
was declared - in fact in a proclamatory manner - was that the
Church does not condemn people – that is, God’s creatures – only
Characteristic is the position of St. Theodore the Studite, that, during the Second Coming, only evil will be consumed by fire, and not God’s creations - that is, all logical beings and spirits: "That which is of God -that is, our nature- being something made by God, shall not be consumed by that fire. That which is not of God -that is, sin- is something created by the intention of the one committing it; therefore, by not being something of the beings, but rather something that co-exists, it shall be discarded, as something not being relative to beings". (c.f. PG 99, 1501AB)
The dialogue moved within the above framework, aligned with biblical and patristic theology. I repeat, that no one maintained something different. Besides, the Church’s position is quite clear, that homosexuality is a passion.
The unsigned article produces misinformation. It is one more example of bad journalism, which unfortunately has a share of responsibility for the spiritual decline of our homeland.
Articles such as this increase our concern regarding the future of the ecclesiastic and the theological word.
It is self-evident, that the choice of disseminating any article without having judged it renders the printed and electronic information media a source that scandalizes the ecclesiastic pleroma.
Inasmuch as the Holy and Great Synod has vision, we should all, for this reason, be instrumental in its work.
Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pastoral and Social Theology