|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries||Essays about Orthodoxy|
The successors to the Apostles
is an anti-Patristic stance
(In response to an article by the rev. fr. Nicholas Demaras)by Monk Basil Gregoriates
An article by fr. Nicholas Demaras was published in the periodical “Aghioi Kollyvades” (The Kollyvades Saints”), in which the Sacred Monastery of Saint Gregory was criticized for its stance against Ecumenism and Zealotry.
The reason for my action was the entirely inappropriate ecclesiological stance that the schismatic Zealots and other, so-called “Genuine Orthodox Christian” Old Calendarists had adopted. Among my many arguments in support of my actions was also the stance taken by saint Sophronius against the heretic Monotheletes.
In his article, fr. Nicholas focuses mainly on this stance by saint Sophronius. Also accused are the bishops of the Church, inasmuch as they preach the heresy of Ecumenism through the change in the calendar, the dialogues, the common prayers and other innovations. At the same time, our sacred Monastery is also being accused of not interrupting ecclesiastic communion with our bishops, despite the (supposedly) explicit instruction by the holy Fathers and the obligation defined in the 15th Canon of the AB Synod (861). 
I had first-hand experience near the otherwise sympathetic and virtuous zealot fathers, and I have every respect for their piety, their love for monastic living and their fighting spirit. However, I discerned that they are upholding an anti-canonical schism, and they are also misinterpreting the teaching of the holy Fathers and ecclesiastic history.
For the time being (and after having received the blessing of my reverend spiritual father, the elder Georgios), I shall reply briefly to the accusations in the article, in order to prove that our stance is absolutely in conformity with Orthodox Ecclesiology. The basic criterion for this reply will be the Patristic teachings in the face of heretics and anti-canonically acting bishops.
The holy Fathers’ stance towards heretics has always been the same. Saint Tarasius of Constantinople says that “…in no way do we find the fathers in disagreement, but, in being of the same spirit, every one of them preaches and teaches the same thing.”  Thus, saint Gregory the Theologian teaches that we must shun the heretics, as strangers to the catholic (=overall) Church.  Heretics –according to Athanasius the Great- are wolves, and forerunners of the Antichrist. , while according to Basil the Great, they are worse than Judas.  John the Damascene orders us to not give Holy Communion to heretics, nor partake of theirs  because, according to Hossios Theodore the Studite, the heretics’ communion is a poison that blackens and obscures the soul.  The commemoration of a heretic bishop is an ‘uncleanliness’ , while according to saint Simeon of Thessaloniki, even churchgoing with heretics is forbidden.  The Saints urged heretics to abandon their heresy and return to the catholic Church, otherwise they would reap no benefits from their good works,  nor would they be able to inherit the Kingdom of God. 
In accordance with the 1st & 2nd Canons of the 3rd Ecumenical Synod,  those who unite themselves to heretics are deprived of ecclesiastic communion and priesthood. In view of this, saints Savvas and Theodosios along with all the monks of Palestine had declared that they were willing to sacrifice their life blood, rather than accept any union with the Monophysites. 
It was in the same manner that the unions with impenitent Latins were confronted, in the years 1274 and 1439. In other words, the Fathers severed every ecclesiastic communion with those who had accepted the union of Lyon (1274). In fact, they preferred torture and death, just like the blessed Holy Mountain martyrs  and Hossios Meletios and Galaktion.  Saint Mark of Ephesus had also recommended to the Orthodox not to be in communion with those who had accepted the pseudo-union of Florence (1439), saying: “Avoid them, like one avoids a snake!” 
The blessed Dositheos of Jerusalem, when beautifully interpreting Orthodox Ecclesiology, presented the manner in which the Church confronts those who preach heretic dogmas within Her: “The heresy that has arisen –if proliferated – is judged and condemned by an Ecumenical Synod”.  After the synod, the impenitent heretics would be cut off altogether, from every ecclesiastic communion.
In certain cases, ecclesiastic communion with the aforementioned was interrupted, even before a synodic decision.  The 15th Canon of the AB synod permits this act, only if the reason is to rid the Church of the schism and the heresy of those bishops.  However, because the ecclesiastic schism is not a simple matter, the final decision and removal of the heretics from the Church was –as mentioned above- undertaken by the Ecumenical Synods.
This was the way it was done, because heresies were not easily discerned straight away by the body of the Church. Furthermore, it was not fair to regard as heretics -prior to a final decision by the Ecumenical Synod- those who kept communion out of ignorance, or for reasons of Providence, or for some other reason, with the bishops who preached heretic beliefs; this is why no sacred Canons or holy Fathers ever imposed any interruption of ecclesiastic communion with heretics on the Orthodox follower, prior to a Synodic decision. Furthermore, no clergyman was ever punished for this, as opposed of course to those who continued communion after a synodic condemnation.
Several examples from ecclesiastic History prove that, from the moment the heretic teaching appears, to the moment of the final condemnation, there would be an intervening length of time – short or long. During that time, the Church would strive –through Her representatives- to bring those “new” teachers to repentance, by implementing the method of Providence that was broadly recognized by all of the holy Fathers. Thus, while Monotheletism for example began to be preached in 615, its chief adversaries, saints Sophronius and Maximus, did not appear to have interrupted their communion with the heretics, prior to the synods of the West (640-649), which anathematized them.
Providence is also observed in the stance taken opposite the Latins. We again arrive at the above conclusion, even if we accept the extreme instance whereby the popes had officially proclaimed the heresy of the Filioque from 1009, and not that they had promulgated it from the 10th century.  The (schismatic) Zealots pretend that the division took place immediately upon Sergios’ of Constantinople removal of the pope’s name from the diptychs of 1009.  In fact, they produce a relative testimony by the blessed Dositheos. One is greatly impressed by the falsification of History and the concealment of the pursuant words of the same father.
Thus, saint Dositheos says that the remaining patriarchs did NOT erase the pope’s name from the diptychs of 1009 until forty-five years later (in 1054). It is of course understood that Constantinople was united with the aforementioned Patriarchate during all this time. This Providence that was shown towards the Latins was because “the Patriarchs, according to the ancient ecclesiastic ethos, in implementing the canonical justice of the Keroularion, looked forward to the correction of the roman church, hence their display of tolerance.”  “The Easterners, (in other words), acting providentially, remained silent for a long time, believing that they would move the Italians from their innovations towards the superior things, however, on their remaining in their stubbornness, they (the Easterners) expelled them from the ecclesiastic union.” 
Furthermore, when saint Gregory (father of saint Gregory the Theologian) out of simplicity signed a semi-Arian symbol (361), the monks interrupted their communion with him.  Saint Gregory and the others however did not separate themselves from him. The Zealots usually conceal this detail, along with the holy father’s critiques of the monks.  The union was restored, after Gregory convinced his father to publicly cite an Orthodox Symbol (364).  Also, in his 1st “Erinikon” speech, on the occasion of the reuniting of those who were divided, the great Theologian indirectly checked the monks for their mutinous behavior, their hastiness and their audacity. He counseled them to not return to “their own vomit”, also, that it is preferable for one to remain in the common body of the Church, whenever we are not absolutely certain of something. 
The confrontation of those who violate sacred Canons (slightly or greatly), but without infringing on dogmas, is entirely different. Canons 13, 14 and 15 of the AB Synod (during Photios’ time) strictly forbade the interruption of ecclesiastic communion with bishops that have fallen into any kind of “crime”, prior to a synodic decision. The Holy Apostles permitted the interruption of communion, for reasons of “piety and justice”.  The word “justice” was quite easy to misinterpret, thus resulting in various schisms that were condemned by the Church. The successive schisms – especially by the Studites – which continued through to the days of saint Photios, gave rise to the Saint and his synod to legislate those Canons.
Furthermore, about fifteen years prior to saint Photios’ synod, “saint Methodios synodically pronounced an anathema against the Studite monks who severed themselves from the Church because they differentiated themselves from those things that Theodore had written against Tarasius and Nikephoros.”  This policy of saint Methodios – of providentially accepting the ordination of Iconomachy upholders – did cause schisms. Hossios Ioannikios criticized these schisms in many ways, and upheld that the Church should remain united, if the faith is not the underlying reason. 
But even the older, temporary schisms of saint Theodore the Studite on the Providences towards the holy Patriarchs Tarasios and Nikephoros, “did not appear to the Fathers as a minor fall; but then again, it was corrected.”  Even his biographer, Michael the Studite, did not dare support the act of Hossios Theodore.  These schisms were criticized by –among others- the blessed Methodios  and Dositheos.  They were also not supported by other monks of that era, who eventually proved to be great saints. One such person was the major confessor, Theophanes, who, in his “Chronography” mentions saint Theodore’s secession from the “holy Church” and the “most holy patriarch”  Nikephoros. The cause behind their criticism was not because there was an issue of faith, but a deviation from the sacred Canons. Of course saint Theodore is a major confessor and constitutes a model, on account of his heroic stance opposite the heresy of Iconomachy. It was only his temporary schisms regarding the aforementioned Providential acts that could not be accepted as a Canon for the Church.
Unfortunately, the (schismatic) Zealots advertise these temporary schisms to the utmost, and present them as an ecclesiastic law and an inviolable canon, simply because they too have no reasons of faith underlying their schisms. In fact, they refer to the Studite’s opponents as “Moechians” (“adulterationists”) - just like he had also been calling them for a short while - and most of the time, they do not reveal their names, or they do not refer to them as saints!  These are the saints and confessors Nikephoros of Constantinople, Michael Synnadon, Efthimios of Sardes, Aemilian of Kyzikos, and a number of other major Fathers!
Hossios Daniel the Stylite (the pillar-dweller) also called to repentance those monks who removed themselves from the Church without any underlying reasons of faith. He would furthermore recommend to them that: “it is not without danger, that we remove ourselves from our holy mother.” 
In general, none of the schisms that were created on the pretext of precision ever expressed the Church authentically; nor of course were the non-participants regarded as being outside the Church.
During the last century, an innovative trend began to take shape within the bosom of the Church (indications of which had also been observed in the past), as well as an intensified attempt to approach various heretics. One of the many discordant moves that were noted, was the correction of the calendar (1923-1924), which became the pretext for the Zealots’ alienation from the Church. Of course it would have been ideal, if the calendar had remained unchanged, with all the Orthodox celebrating in unison.
Three major synods at the end of the 16th century condemned the Gregorian calendar. The historian G. Vafidis speaks of “the synod convened that year (1583) in Constantinople, which chiefly condemns the Gregorian calendar, because according to that, we would be celebrating together with the Jews – something that conflicts with the Nicene synod.” When Schismatic Zealots refer to the above phrase, they insert a full stop after the word “calendar” and purposely omit the remaining words!  But this way, it looks as though the synod’s main job was the condemnation of the Gregorian calendar.
A historian, on the other hand, does not assert the same thing. He states that the main reason for the condemnation of the Gregorian calendar was the coincidence in celebration with the Jews, or, in other words, the alteration of the Easter period, the Paschalion – something that never happened and we hope will never happen. The meaning of the whole phrase takes away the Zealots’ excuse for the schism, since the change in the dates of feast-days does not affect the dogmatic condition of the 1st Ecumenical Synod , and therefore does not constitute a heresy.
Thus, on the basis of the very strict canons of the AB Synod, and especially the 15th Canon that the Zealots constantly invoke, the calendar schism was entirely anti-canonical. In fact, most Zealots preached that all those who had accepted the old calendar, or who communicate with new-Calendarists, have departed from the Church and have forfeited divine Grace! Of course the Zealots were not that naïve – at least, not as much as their weird ecclesiology portrayed them; They were fully aware that they had no dogmatic grounds whatsoever, and they had to concoct something, at all costs.
Unfortunately, they were assisted in this by those promoting so-called syncretistic Ecumenism, through Ecumenistic dialogues, the excessive desire for union with heretics, the transmission of sacraments to them, the isolated cases of acknowledgment of their sacraments as valid, the attributing of an ecclesiastic character to their confessions, the common prayers, and many other canonical transgressions.
Zealots, therefore, have labelled those responsible for all the above actions “heretics”, thus securing the desired grounds (albeit delayed). To them, it is of no significance that the schism took place a few decades earlier; what was important was that they had found an excuse! They are also happy to have rid themselves of the Ecumenists, and not too soon. And yet, the holy Fathers had oftentimes implemented the laudable act of Providence on heretics, even during times that a heresy was being preached, thus giving them a chance to change their beliefs; however, they never created schisms through their ability to foresee events.
Unfortunately for the Zealots, it must be stressed that the aforementioned canonical transgressions such as common prayers etc., as grievous and disconcerting as they may be, do not constitute heresies per se. They constitute “crimes” against the Canons of the AB synod or transgressions of sacred Canons, but they are not a heresy. A heresy is “the deviation from the texts of our existing dogmas on our upright faith”,  and the alienation from the faith. 
But even the sporadic, unofficial and synodically unacknowledged, unorthodox statements, agreements or theories by isolated Ecumenists in no way comprise an official proclamation of a heresy. Besides, even the most dedicated of the Zealots teach that the sporadic proclamations of the Filioque heresy (which was preached for centuries and widely  by the Protestant branch theory) did not constitute a reason for heresy.  So, in view of the fact that these heterodox teachings were not acknowledged or established, they do not comprise a cause for heresy. Of course a constant and strenuous struggle by the Church is imperative, in order to eradicate or limit such phenomena, so that in the end, the Ecumenist practice that springs from them will also cease.
Even the lifting of the anathemas of 1054 against the papists by the Patriarchate of Constantinople (which was criticized by many Orthodox as a major Ecumenist “achievement”) was but a characteristic “gesture of love”, without having anything to do with the theological positions of the Orthodox or the Papists. Furthermore, it also didn’t signify a lifting of the existing schism, or any change in the teaching, the canonical order, the divine worship and ecclesiastic life; not even the restitution of sacramental communion. 
2. Similar phenomena of the past
Similar canonical transgressions and direct or indirect deviations from Orthodox Ecclesiology had occurred in the past also, and especially in the geographical areas where the heterodox outnumbered the orthodox, yet without causing any schisms in the Church. The Orthodox diaspora in such areas during recent times has unfortunately produced an increase in these unacceptable phenomena.
Then we can mention several instances of Providence, of canonical transgressions and unofficial (direct or indirect) ecclesiological deviations, on account of which, however, the holy Fathers did not interrupt the ecclesiastic communion with those who were responsible for them. It stands to reason, that these instances were far milder than the proclamation of the Filioque in the Symbol of Faith, or the widespread heresy of Monotheletism. And yet, despite the above, the Fathers nevertheless implemented in these cases the long-term, acknowledged method of Providence.
a. The Fathers of the 3rd Ecumenical Synod had condemned Nestorios. However, they had not anathematized his “father”  and teacher, Theodore of Mopsuestia, who had already passed away by then, “...so that none would alienate themselves from the Church, after been influenced by the man’s reputation; nevertheless, the providence that was implemented was an excellent instrument and a wise one” according to Saint Cyril. 
Later, when the issue of anathematizing the heretic Theodore was under way, the blessed Cyril wrote to Saint Proklos of Constantinople, recommending that he apply “providence” , “not conceding to anathematize him, as it would be a cause for disturbance”.  As saint Theodore the Studite says: “the divine Cyril arranged so that those of the East who are mentioned in the diptychs would not alienate themselves from Theodore of Mopsuestia, on account of his being a heretic.” 
b. The 95th Canon of the Quinisext synod states that the Nestorians and Monophysites who have been under anathema for centuries on account of a simple libel can be –providentially- accepted by the Orthodox Church  This Canon was implemented by Hossios Theodore, for those supporting Iconomachy.  These Providential moves were accepted by Orthodoxy, without any schisms being created. But our contemporary “hyper-Studites” have been receiving new-Calendarists, by re-anointing them; in fact, they claim to be acting with “extreme Providence”, and that canonically, they should be re-baptizing them (as though they were Manichaeans!!).
c. Saint Photios tolerated Rome’s illegal customs, of course as long as they were not also imposed on the Church of Constantinople. He was fully aware that “whatever is violated, is not always deemed to be of the faith”  and consequently did not constitute a reason for a schism. Such customs were: the fasting on Saturdays, the consumption of non-fasting foods during the first week of Great Lent, the prohibition of marriage for the clergy, the performing of the Sacrament of Chrismation only by bishops,  the abolishing of consumption of strangled animals and blood. Thus, during the 8th Ecumenical Synod (879 AD), the restitution of relations between saint Photios and Rome was achieved, through the reciting of the Symbol of Faith without the Filioque addition,  and of course without Rome having to reject its aforementioned customs.
d. The holy Fathers tolerated the Western church of the 10th century, which was going through a period of “pornocracy” at the time.
e. During the Latin domination, the blessed Herman the Younger of Constantinople and his entourage providentially permitted the Cypriot bishops to accept the Latins’ demands for illegal profiteering. Specifically, “their successors are to be appointed by a Latin archbishop, who also has the right to judge every appeal over a bishop’s decision submitted by any one of the litigants”. 
f. After the Schism of 1054, there was a continuous desire for re-uniting. From time to time, numerous letters were exchanged and dialogues had taken place (1098, 1113, 1136, 1154, 1169, 1175, 1206, 1214, 1232, 1234, 1250, 1253, 1254, 1272, 1333, 1339, 1366, 1438). In fact, in 1253 certain concessions had also been made, while in 1136, 1234, certain conciliative solutions were proposed by the Orthodox, such as the clause «the Spirit proceeds from the Father, via the Son». Schisms, however, on account of the dialogues did not occur, except only during the pseudo-unions of 1274 and 1439. Besides, neither any of today’s Holy Mountain fathers, nor any of the pious Christians, will ever proclaim that they agree to a union with Latins, Monophysites or other heretics, unless the latter repudiate their heretic dogmas.
Unfortunately, one observes a tremendous confusion in the Zealots’ writings. They have related the Latin-minded, who had agreed to the union of 1274, to those who are nowadays participating in common prayers, dialogues, excessively pro-union attempts or other, similar acts. In similar fashion, they have adjusted the words of Saint Mark of Ephesus opposing those who had accepted the pseudo-union of Florence, to accommodate those who are currently indulging in such discordant acts as mentioned above. As if they are the same thing as a union with heretics! If things were that simple, Orthodoxy would have vanished, centuries ago.
g. During his discussions on the prospects of a true union with the Latins, Saint Mark referred to them as “fathers”, not “brothers”.  His teacher, Joseph Vryennios – a major opponent of the Latins – had been in discussions with Latins at an earlier date, on the subject of the union between the Orthodox and Latins. He had even composed an advisory essay on the union under study. In it, he vehemently criticized the “Ecumenists” of his time: in other words, those who wanted (according to the “branch theory”) to be united with the pope, even while the Filioque remained unchanged! He furthermore recommended, without isolating himself from those responsible, that the union should be attained in the proper manner, i.e., so that our Church may not be subjugated, thus “losing the intention”  (of a true union, in Christ).
h. Numerous transgressions or deviations from the Orthodox way had occurred (directly or indirectly) during those times, similar to those observed in our time, especially in territories where the Latins outnumbered the other inhabitants; we have a multitude of testimonies from the 16th and 17th centuries, which evidence that the Orthodox received communion from the Latins and vice versa..
Further mentions: The commemoration and the acknowledgement of Latin bishops, isolated common liturgies, combined sacraments, the offering of sacraments to heretics, last rites to heretics, studies in heretics’ schools,  the granting of permission to papists and capuchins to perform confessionals and for teaching. Even Metropolitans or monks used to confess to Latins (on account of the difficult circumstances that prevailed in the Turkish-occupied and Latin-occupied territories) – a phenomenon that the blessed Makarios of Patmos most vehemently criticized, but without creating any schism. 
During the 17th century, «the monasteries of Mount Athos had repeatedly invited Jesuits to establish a school on the Holy Mountain, for the spiritual education of the monks»!!  During the same period, «in many other places, in Jerusalem, in Alexandria and elsewhere, in one church there are Eastern cantors, and in another, western ones»!!  Discussions were also taking place during the same period of time, with various offshoots of the Monophysite and Protestant branches, who were sympathized and defended by a considerable number of people. In spite of this, no schisms were created in the Orthodox Church, even though the Fathers were wrestling against the union with Lutherans and Calvinists at the time.
i. Hossios Nikodemos criticized the “Latin-minded” of his time, or, as he called them, «the gratis defenders of the Latin pseudo-baptism».  In 1755, the Eastern patriarchs had synodically decided on the re-baptism of Latins converting to Orthodoxy, given that - up until that time - the Latins were accepted into Orthodoxy mainly by re-Chrismation.
Saint Nikodemos was sorrowed by the extensive adulteration, corruption and misinterpretation of the sacred Canons up until that time, as well as by the «deadly and soul-ravaging fruit» that was born of them. He also bemoaned the grievous transgressions of sacred Canons (6 of the 4th and 14, 19, 23 of the 6th Ecumenical Synods) and especially towards those practicing simony, who, according to Saint Tarasios, were even worse than the Spirit-battlers.  The saint had said that according to Saint Gennadios, this “loathed-by-God” heresy has nowadays become a virtue  and that most ordinations are being performed at a price.” . At the same time, he prudently checked the theologians of his time for their heretic and blasphemous beliefs. 
This saint, along with the rest of the Kollyvades Fathers of his time, struggled steadfastly in favour of sacred Traditions, yet, nowhere do we see them interrupting their communion, either with the Latin-minded or the other cacodox. These prudent zealots, in contrast to today’s zealots, were endowed with the ability to discern the difference between the Latin-minded of their time and the Latin-minded who had effected the unions of 1274 and 1439.
Hossios Nikodemos was aware that “two kinds of administration existed within the Church” : Precision and Providence. Even though he himself worshipped Precision, he nevertheless preferred Providence when it was a matter involving schisms; provided, however, that there was no officially proclaimed heresy involved. He taught that when hierarchs or priests transgressed the laws, we must strive to persuade them to do God’s will, however without creating schisms that annihilate our souls.
j. The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, with a decision that it reached in 1834, had permitted (previously unofficially performed) marriages with heretics; in other words, something that was “illegal and in violation of the sacred Canons” . Constantine Economos also narrates the dissolution of more than four hundred monasteries; the approvals of otherwise hindered marital unions; the establishment of a theological school according to the Protestant model and many other misfortunes.
It is of course understood that the above Canonical transgressions are reprehensible. It is also understood that whoever takes them as examples for their relations with the heterodox, are definitely not emulating the holy Fathers, who had struggled to eradicate such transgressions.
3. Encouraging moves
From a study of the sources – a part of which are all the aforementioned – it appears that saints Mark, Nikodemos, Athanasios of Paros, other personages of the Holy Mountain, Meletios Galesiotes, Vryennios, Makarios of Patmos, had all fought against the Latin-minded and the other cacodox, however, they had not interrupted their ecclesiastic communion with them. They did it, only on account of the two unions (1274 and 1439), or, in cases of very obvious heretics (e.g. John Kalekas). These events all justify our stance completely, especially in view of the fact that there are currently no officially proclaimed and acknowledged heresies.
In his response to the Holy Mountain fathers (3-7-99), the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had stressed, among other things, that the Orthodox Church possessed the absolute Truth, in Christ and in the Holy Spirit, which is why we never acknowledged any errors within Her. Orthodox participants of the dialogues believe that She is the bearer of the genuine teaching of Jesus Christ. These positions were not accepted; however they were amended in favour of Orthodoxy. This upset the Latins, who had mixed their own new dogmas and innovations into God’s teaching, which is why they are in need of repentance and revision.
The Ecumenical Patriarch also said that we cannot be united with the Papists while they continue to insist on the Filioque. He criticized the papal primacy, as well as those who denied Orthodoxy and attributed an ecclesiastic hypostasis to Papism or Unia; also those who signed the pseudo-union of Florence. He also criticized common prayers with other faiths, pointing out that the dialogues with them aspired only to enhancing their social relations. Finally, on the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and others, common prayers between the Orthodox and the heterodox were forbidden, with the World Council of Churches’ convention in Harare. And yet, the (zealot) magazine “Saint Agathangelos” wrote that the patriarch did not reply to anything!!
The archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos synodically forbade common prayers; he stressed that Orthodoxy is the only Church, and that a union with the Monophysites is not possible, unless they acknowledge all of the Ecumenical Synods.  The Patriarchate of Georgia, in a letter of confession, criticized common prayers, the branch theory, and the union with the Monophysites.  It furthermore withdrew from the W.C.C., as did the Patriarchate of Bulgaria. In the Churches of Russia, Serbia, Hellas and Cyprus, there is also a strong inclination towards this direction.
All the above are very encouraging signs, and justify our struggles fully. Of course there are still several discords, however, we believe that with our ever-increasing reactions, syncretistic Ecumenism will be eradicated very quickly. It has already been confined, to countries with a heterodox majority; in fact, many ecclesiastic men are indicating the desire to revert to the Julian calendar, for example the Metropolitan Peter of Axom.
4. Contemporary Zealotry
We believe that the inconsistence of the Zealots has become quite obvious, inasmuch as they have equated the change in calendar or common prayers with the horrendous Nestorian heresy, which had upset the “age-old sacrament”  and had corrupted the meaning of mankind’s salvation.
Contemporary Zealotry is not in harmony with the teaching and the acts of the holy Fathers. It rather resembles the Studite schisms (and of course we don’t mean the praiseworthy ones, which had been an outright expression of their beliefs opposite the heresy of the Iconomachy). This resemblance, however, is also the mark of its condemnation, given that these were also not recognized by anyone, but were in fact criticized. In reality, it doesn’t even resemble them entirely, as in those times, the defrockings weren’t as frequent, nor the “Churches” that many. The dethronement and the “acquittals” of Zealot bishops and priests usually take place in the blink of an eye. No matter how much one researches the matter, it is impossible to find a similar case, in all of History.
Zealots have fallen into a multitude of contradictions, from which it is impossible to free themselves, because they continue to persist in their opinions.
a. Whenever they attempt to justify their schism on account of the calendar (1924), or one of their internal schisms (in cases that do not involve a heresy), they invoke the Studite schisms (which justify a schism, in cases of transgression of Canons also), or, they invoke the 31st Apostolic Canon (which permits a schism, for reasons of “piety and justice”), by misinterpreting the term “justice”.
b. But when they try to justify their schism in relation to Ecumenism, or avoid one of their internal schisms, then they invoke the 15th Canon of the AB synod (which permits a schism, only in cases of a heresy).
Naturally, the invoking of the Studite schisms and the 31st Apostolic Canon and the 15th Canon of the AB, presents a huge contradiction. The reason being, that the 15th Canon of the AB Synod was legislated (as we mentioned earlier) for the sole purpose of averting the Studite schisms and at the same time for interpreting the 31st Apostolic Canon.
The above contradictions are the cause of the Zealots’ splitting up: the more frequently used excuse of the Zealots, for their nine “Genuine Orthodox Christian” Churches and the numerous independent zealots, is bad administration and human vices. This excuse does not find us in agreement. Their schisms are the outcome of the utterly misguided and distorted ecclesiology. Their splitting will be perpetuated, for as long as they continue to invoke the Studite schisms and the 31st Apostolic Canon (regarding “piety and justice”).
Schisms were brought on, for the manning of Metropolises , for ordinations , for articles of association , for the publishing of a circular regarding the new ID cards (!!) , for iconography  and for other, insignificant causes. (There is even a “Hexagonite” order!) Their trivial internal schisms also prove how unfounded their schism from the Church itself is.
The ease, with which they characterize the other Zealots as heretics, betrays how thoroughly they have lost the true meaning of the terms “heresy” and “ecclesiastic schism”. The simple people have become utterly confused, as they are constantly finding themselves in a different group, without realizing it. The presiding “See” of the “Objectors” was created after three schisms, which resulted in an equivalent number of defrockings. They are reminiscent of the schisms of the Grace-forsaken Monophysites, Protestants and Believers of the Old Faith.
Each group believes it is the only Church of Christ, thus resulting in a series of re-Chrismations amongst themselves; rumor has it that a re-ordination of an archbishop was even performed! In Greece, their bishops number more than 50, for about 50-60 thousand followers. Several years ago, the “Andrean” group alone had 10 bishops and 18 priests. Half of these groups have been ordained by one (or a non-existent) archbishop.
In 1955, one of the two orders at the time was left without any bishops. It was forced to resort to the “Graceless” (according to their perception, since they were resorting to new-Calendarists) Russians of the Diaspora.  The end justifies the means!!! Unfortunately, they were incapable of understanding that it was an abandonment by God that brought on this zealot impasse.
In spite of their apparent polemic against Ecumenism, the Zealots appear to be enforcing it in full, in view of the fact that the “heretic” new-Calendarists are accepted in holy communion and the other Sacraments. The means used for misleading and enticing followers is the distortion of History, which should, in due course, be revealed in a detailed and systematic rebuttal of zealot ecclesiology.
For all the aforementioned, we consider that whoever accedes to the schism of the Zealots in order to combat syncretistic Ecumenism, is perpetrating a serious offence in the eyes of God, towards himself, and especially towards those who are struggling wholesomely against syncretistic Ecumenism and who are in need of reinforcement. We have sympathy for the Zealots, and we pray that the Lord will shed His light on them so that they might be incorporated in the Church, which will allow them to observe the old calendar, as was the case in older instances. We are positive that the Church will exhaust every form of Providence for the sake of their re-embodiment and will tend to them first of all, since, they aren’t, after all, heretics.
C. THE CASE OF SAINT SOPHRONIUS
Fr. Nicholas accuses me for all the things I said about saint Sophronius’ stance during the period of Monotheletism. He claims that it was on account of this, that I had personally arrived at the conclusion that the Fathers did not interrupt the commemoration of heretics unless there had previously been a synodic diagnosis. But I never made such a statement. My assertion was that, judging by saint Sophronius’ stance, and especially when addressing the heretic Sergios of Constantinople and using the term “co-officiate”  in 634, one can see clearly the Providence of the Church towards those who were officially proclaiming a heresy. It is understood of course, that this Providence applies even more in our time; a time in which no similar heresy is officially proclaimed.
Fr. Nicholas outlines the ecclesiastic situation during that time, only to conclude that in 634, no heresy was officially proclaimed. Consequently, there was no reason for an interruption in communion, nor was there a case for Providence.
He specifically asserts the following:
1. Ôhe events leading to the heretic “Exposition” by Sergios (638) were a series of discussions and attempts to impose the Orthodox positions, especially because the elucidation of the Oroi (conditions) of Chalcedon proved to be one of the most difficult theological problems.
2. During the year 634, saint Sophronius justifiably referred to Sergios as “co-officiator”, since Sergios’ heretic dogma of Monotheletism was officially proclaimed in 638.
To the above, I reply as follows:
Admittedly, conclusion 1 (above) comes as a surprise. From the research into the writings of twenty or so historians, I came to understand that there was never an issue of elucidating the Oros of Chalcedon (which had taken place 170 years earlier). On the contrary, attempts had been made to find a means for a union with the Monophysites, and as such, the following expression was chosen: “Albeit Christ’s natures are two, yet the energy and the will are one”.  This confession comprised the minimum limit of Monophysitism, given that all Monophysites acknowledged one energy and one will. 
Conclusion 1 (above) also mentions that attempts were made for the prevalence of Orthodox positions. Doesn’t this reveal that cacodox positions (heresies) also existed, opposite which the Orthodox positions had to prevail? Consequently, in order for the Zealots to adjust things for their own benefit, they would label the periods in which heresies were proclaimed, at times “periods of heresy” and at other times, “periods of struggling for the prevalence of Orthodox positions” (so that it would not be perceptible that a heresy was being proclaimed!) Besides, in ten points of the article, it is admitted that Sergios had heretic views; that he had negotiated the union (which was achieved); that saint Sophronius had reacted to the union and had condemned Monoenergitism. The facts, however, are narrated without any order or chronological sequence. Furthermore, every mention of “union with heretics” and “heresy” is purposely avoided, thus giving rise to confusion. This is mostly a reproduction of Stephanides’ abdridged History.
An accurate narration of the ecclesiastic situation of that time will prove from here on how unfounded conclusion 2 (above) is:
Sergios of Constantinople had sent to bishop Theodore of Faran an illegitimate “libellus” by Menas of Constantinople (+552), asking for his opinion on the monoenergetic and monotheletic positions of that libellus. Sergios had accepted it. Sergios then sent this libellus to a certain heretic Paul, stressing Theodore’s and his own condescension. These two events (which most probably aren’t the only ones), are mentioned by saint Maximus in his dialogue with Pyrrhus.  Historians place them around 615-618, as this is confirmed further along by the words of saint Maximus.
Thus, the Saint reported that Sergios had also written to the Seberian Georgios Arsa, asking him to send patristic quotes on the one energy. In fact he even said that the union would be realized on the basis of those patristic quotes. Alexandria’s saint John the Charitable came to know of this letter, and had desired to dethrone Sergios. However, he was hindered from doing it during that year (619), on account of the Persian invasion. 
About the same time, saint Maximus withdrew to a monastic life, disappointed by the Church’s condition on account of the spreading of Monotheletism.  Later, while observing the heresy “rather expanding in full”,  he retired around 626 to Africa, where Orthodoxy was predominant.
Sergios had also written to Cyrus of Fasis in 626, confirming the heresy.  In 629, he united with the Monophysite bishop Athanasios, through the mutual acceptance of the one energy and will, and in fact recognized him as patriarch of Antioch.  In 630, Cyrus rose to the throne of Alexandria and began a struggle for union with the Monophysites.  Saints Sophronius and Maximus tried to hinder him, without however any success.  Cyrus united with the Monophysites (633), on the basis of the heretic confession that “there is only one, god-human energy within Christ”. 
Sergios, who had already projected “his personal ailment in various ways” and had corrupted “the majority of the Church”,  accepted this union. In fact, he also united with the heretic Armenians on the basis of this same heretic confession.  Saint Sophronius then went to Constantinople and, “with the humility befitting his priestly attire”  he pleaded with Sergios not to revive this old heresy. Dismayed at Sergios’ unrepentant stance, he went to Jerusalem and warned the faithful that the patriarchs and the pope are heretics. 
Sergios was disturbed by these Orthodox outcries. He decided to abandon Monoenergeticism and confine himself to the milder Monotheletism.  In the “Vote” that he published at the end of 633, he proclaimed the heresy in a milder form. Saint Maximus had hoped momentarily that he would have recanted this “innovation”  that sprung forth in Alexandria. In fact, in one of his letters to the Prior Pyrrhus, he actually compared Sergios to Moses. 
About the same time, saint Sophronius rose to the throne of Jerusalem in 634. He sent his letter of enthronement to Sergios and the patriarchs, in which he clearly denounced the heresy of one energy and will. He addressed Sergios with the following words: “To the most holy bishop of all, and most blessed brother and co-officiator Sergios....” . He beseeched him to accept his dogmatic epistle and to respond by sending the “desirous letters” that would clearly express the true Faith.  Unfortunately, Sergios didn’t change, and in 638, he published the equally heretic “Essay”.
We can see, therefore, that saint Sophronius had Sergios as co-officiator up until 634, even though the latter had been preaching the heresy since about 615; he had exasperated Saint John in 619; he had corrupted the majority of the Church and had accepted the unions of 629 and 633. We have no historical testimony whatsoever that the blessed Sophronius had interrupted his communion, up until his repose (638).
This fact proves in a grand manner the argument that I spoke of: in other words, the Church’s Providence and Her tolerance towards the bishops who preached heresies during that time. It also evidences as completely erroneous the Zealots’ interpretation, that the 15th Canon of the AB Synod is compulsory.  In the Lateran Synod (of 649) against the Monotheletes, mention is very clearly made of such a Providence. Sergios, bishop of the Cypriots, says the following : “...For even to this day we have remained silent, aspiring towards a certain Providence, hoping that they will move away from their beliefs, towards the better.”  (ÌÝ÷ñé ãáñ êáé óÞìåñïí ïéêïíïìßáí ôéíÜ ðñáãìáôåõïìÝíïéò åóéãÞêáìåí, ïéüìåíïé ðñïò ôá êñåßôôù ìåôáêéíÞóáé áõôïýò ôá ïéêåßá äéäÜãìáôá)
I will complete this essay with the rebuttal of yet another argument in the article. Fr. Nicholas claims that saint Maximus did not accept the conciliative “Formula” and so he interrupted his communion with the heretics. “Finally”, continues the article, “because he was expelled from Constantinople, he managed through the convincingness of his teaching to convene Local Synods; in Carthage (646), in Rome in 641 under Pope John IV, and in 649 with saint Martin – synods, which condemned Monophysitism and its Monophysitic expressions.”
To me, this is an adulteration of History. For the sake of the simpler readers, I shall say the following: Sergios’ unrepentant stance became more than obvious, in 638.  Saint Maximus then embarked on new struggles for the convening of synods that eventually condemned Monotheletism. (641, 646, 649). During this period of time, the saint must have also interrupted his communion with the heretics. The “Formula” that fr. Nicholas refers to, was issued in 648.  In 653, Saint Maximus was taken to Constantinople to be tried.  He was expelled from there in 655 and was exiled to Bizye in Thrace, and finally to Lazeke , where he died as a confessor of the faith. This article therefore has committed a historical error when claiming that, after being exiled in 655, Saint Maximus managed to convene the synods of 641, 646 and 649!! And this is how the Zealots’ favorite conclusion is reached, i.e.: First comes the interruption of communion, then follows the synodic decision.
* * *
In recapitulation of the above, we would like to stress that Zealotry, as well as Syncretist Ecumenism, represent the two major ecclesiastic deviations, on account of which, many tribulations have befallen the Church. It is our fervent wish that the God-human Jesus will protect His Church from these two extreme phenomena and will bounteously shed His Light upon us, so that “we all speak the same thing, and that no schism shall exist between us.” 
Holy Mountain, May 2000.
1 Edition 27, July-December 1999.
2 a.a.137, 1068a-a.
3 S. Milias, The Holy Synods - Collection, Paris 1761, Vol. b, page 737.
4 Epistle 92, a.a.37, 196a.
5 The Faith of the Nicene Fathers, a.a.28, 1641a.
6 Epistle 240, a.a.32, 897á.
7 Precise edition of the Orthodox Faith, ch.13 (86 ), a.a.94, 1153á.
8 Epistle 24, book b, a.a.99, 1189á.
9 Saint Theodore the Studite, Epistle 220, book b, a.a.99, 1669á.
10 Interpretation regarding the holy temple, ch. 28, a.a.155, 708á.
11 Saint Anastasios of Antioch, Guide, ch.a, a.a.89, 48á.
12 Saint Ignatius the God-bearer, a.a.96, 508á.
13 a.a.137, 349-353.
14 Saint Simeon Metaphrastes, The Life and Times of our god-bearing father Theodosius the Head of the Commune, par. 49, a.a.114, 517á.
15 A. Dimitrakopoulos, History of the Schism, Leipzig, 1867, p. 70-74.
16 Saint Nicodemus, Neon Eklogion, p. 320-322.
17 To the Orthodox Christians of all the world, par. 6, by J. Karmiris, The dogmatic and symbolic monuments of the Orthodox and catholic Church, in Athens 1960, vol. A, p. 427.
18 Dodecabiblos, book. d, ch.10, par. 3.
19 Saint Cyris, Epistle 11, a.a.77, 81aa.
20 Saint Nicodemus, Pedalion, Athens 1970, p. 358.
21 F. Vafeidou, Ecclesiastic History, par. 113,1.
22 On ecclesiastic communion and commemoration and the sacred canon 15 of the A and B holy synod pertaining thereto, Holy Mountain 1993, p. 62.
23 As above book 8, ch. â, par. 6.
24 As above book 6, ch. 7, par. 9.
25 Gregory the elder, Bios of Saint Gregory, a.a.35, 261a.
26 Orthodox Information, leaflet 27, p. 1,2.
27 Gregory the elder, as above a.a.35, 261á-264á.
28 Ch. 19 - 20, a.a.35, 745-748.
29 Canon 31, a.a.137, 96á.
30 M. Gideon, Patriarchal Charts, Athens 1996, p. 185.
31 Saint Simeon Metaphrastes, Life of our blessed father Ioannikios, ch. 51, 52, a.a.116, 85á-88á.
32 On the Patriarchs among saints: Tarasios and Nikephoros, a.a.99, 1853á.
33 a.a.99, 157aa.
34 On the Patriarchs among saints, Tarasios and Nikephoros, a.a.99, 1853á.
35 As above, book 7, ch.4, par. 5.
36 a.a.108, 992á.
37 Orthodox Information, leaflet 34, p. 1.
38 Les saints stylites. Brussels 1923, p. 85.
39 As above par. 216.
40 A voice from the holy Mountain, or: A response to “Remarks on Calendrical accusations”, Holy Mountain 1981, p. 16.
41 Canon A´ of the synod of Antioch, a.a.137, 1276á-1277á.
42 Saint Simeon the new Theologian, Catechism 32´.
43 Basil the Great, Canonic Epistle a (188), ch. á, a.a.32 665á.
44 V. Stefanidou, Ecclesiastic History, Athens 1970, par. 22, p. 343-344.
45 On ecclesiastic communion and commemoration and the sacred canon 15 of the A and B holy synod pertaining thereto, Holy Mountain 1993, p. 62.
46 J. Karmiris, The dogmatic and symbolic monuments of the Orthodox and catholic Church, GRAZ 1968, vol. â, p. 1024 (1104).
47 Saint Cyril, Epistle 70, a.a.77, 341á.
48 Epistle 72, a.a.77, 345á.
49 As above a.a.77, 345á.
50 As above a.a.77, 344á.
51 Epistle 49, book A, a.a.99, 1085á.
52 Hossios Nicodemus, Pedalion, Athens 1970, p. 305.
53 Epistle ì, book á, a.a.99, 1052á.
54 Saint Photios, Epistle b, book A, a.a.102, 605á.
55 Saint Photios, Epistle 13, book A, a.a.102, 724-725.
56 F. Vafeidou, Ecclesiastic History, par. 112,1.
57 As above par. 136,1.
58 Satha, Medieval Library, Venice 1873, vol. â, p. 85.
59 V. Stefanidou, Ecclesiastic History, Athens. par. 23, p. 384, V. Feidas, Ecclesiastic History, Athens 1994, vol. â, p. 588.
60 F. Vafeidou, Ecclesiastic History, as above par. 146,4.
61 As above par. 149,2.
62 The discoveries, Èåóóáëïíßêç 1991, p. 400.
63 Stefanidou,as above, par. 51,52.
64 Evangelical Clarion, Athens 1867, p. 327.
65 Theodoretus the monk, The Eucharist participation in the Holy Mountain, 1972, p. 35-37.
66 As above
67 Saint Nicodemus, Morality, Chios island 1887, p. 377.
68 Pedalion, Athens 1970, note on the 46th Apostolic Canon, p. 56.
69 As above, p. 12.
70 As above, p. 719.
71 As above, interpretation of the 22nd of the 6th Ecumenic, p. 238.
72 As above, note 6, p. 696.
73 As above, note on the 124th of the Carthage synod, p. 527.
74 As above, note on the 46th Apostolic Canon, p. 53.
75 On frequent Holy Communion, Volos 1961, Part 3, objection 12, p. 117.
76 Constantine Economos of the Economos lineage, The preserved ecclesiastic treatises, Athens 1864, vol.B, p. 246.
77 Orthodox Press, issues No.1331-1334.
78 Orthodox Witness, issue No.101, p. 44.
79 Trust, issue No.3, p. 12-13.
80 Pillar of Orthodoxy, issue No. 2, p. 15.
81 Ef. 3, 9.
82 Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians, issue No.1, p. 15.
83 The voice of Orthodoxy, leaflet 880. p. 10.
84 Ecclesiastic tradition, leaflet 104, p. 39.
85 Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians, issue No.1, p. 24.
86 Herald of the Genuine Orthodox, issue No.214, p. 264-265.
87 R. Karamitsou, The ordinations of the G.O.C. from a canonical aspect, Athens 1997, p. 19.
88 Synodic Epistle, a.a.87,3, 3148á.
89 F. Vafidou, as above, par. 74,1.
90 Stefanidou, as above, par. éä, p. 242.
91 a.a.91, 332á-333á.
92 As above
93 As mentioned by the biographers of Saint Simeon the Translator, Saint Nicodemus, Agapios, The life and the feats of Saint Maximus, a.a.90, 68-110.
94 The life and the feats of Saint Maximus, a.a.90, 73á-76á.
95 The dialogue on the ecclesiastic dogmas, a.a.91, 333á.
96 Religious and moral encyclopedia, vol. 11, p. 103.
97 P. Christou, Hellenic Patrology, Thessaloniki 1992, vol.5, p. 260.
98 as above, p. 268.
99 F. Vafidou,as above, par. 74,2.
100 The dialogue on the ecclesiastic dogmas a.a.91, 333á.
101 Religious and moral encyclopedia, vol. 11, p. 103.
102 The dialogue on the ecclesiastic dogmas, a.a.91, 333á.
103 Dositheus,as above, book 6, ch.6, par.4.
104 Stefanidou,as above, par.14, p. 244.
105 Saint Maximus, Epistle 19, a.a.91, 592.
106 As above
107 Synodic Epistle, a.a.87,3, 3148á.
108 As above, a.a.87,3, 3200á.
109 Theodoretus the monk, Orthodoxy and heresy, Athens 1982, p. 63.
110 Dositheus, as above, book 6, ch.7, par.9.
111 Kyriakou, Ecclesiastic History, par. 101.
112 As above
113 Saint Maximus, Exegesis (ÅîÞãçóéò ôçò êéíÞóåùò åðß óåêñÝôïõ], ch.á´, a.a.90, 110á.
114 Saint Maximus, Discussions on things done [Ðåñß ôùí ðñá÷èÝíôùí äéáëå÷èÝíôá], ch. 33, a.a.90, 172á.
115 1 Corinth. á´, 10.
Translation by A.N.
Article published in English on: 1-2-2007.
Last update: 1-2-2007.