The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew paid an official, pacific visit to the Orthodox Patriarchate of Rumania. During his visit, he participated in and addressed the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Rumania.
speech, and after referring to the Ecumenical
Patriarchate's relations with the Patriarchate
of Rumania, he said the following, among other
"The holy 1st Ecumenical Synod of Nicea of Bethany was convened, as we know, for the purpose of confronting the horrific heresy and blasphemy of Arianism.
The territory of Wallachia had likewise been afflicted by the Arian calamity, while two bishops of Wallachia - Ursacius and Valens - had acceded to that heresy and had become harsh wolves instead of shepherds. But fortunately, there did exist good shepherds - as they did in the entire Church, who remained vigilant for the logical sheep of Christ's flock - and staunch upholders of the Orthodox faith. Among them was Bishop Theophilos of Dakia, who was one of the 318 Holy Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Synod and one of the signatories of its decisions. Subsequently, the Rumanian Church has added reasons to festively commemorate the conducted anniversary.
The 318 Fathers were not mere Bishops or clergymen. They were truly God-bearers; they had Christ dwelling within their heart and the Holy Spirit completed their existence. They had transcended the stage of catharsis (purification), they had subdued all reprehensible passions and had received divine illumination, which gave them the potential to discern between truth and falsehood; between light and darkness, between the divine will and the will of the cunning one. They were richly endowed with the fruits of the Spirit, "in every benevolence and righteousness and truth." (Ephesians 5:9) They were already God-beholders! It was precisely in this detail that they differed from Arius and all the heretics, who strived to theologize without the prerequisites of personal sanctity and who inevitably floundered in the deep darkness of delusion, prattling about divine matters and not theologizing.
When Athanasius the Great spoke, he uttered words of God, Who dwelled within his heart. That is why the term "Homoousios" was not something that he had coined, but an unerring item of information given by the Holy Spirit.
When Saint Spyridon performed the miracle with the ceramic fragment, it was the Triadic God Himself Who intervened. When Saint Nicholas confronted Arius' blasphemy and vehemence in a militant manner, God Himself was wielding the whip of His (normally unimpassioned) Bishop's anger.
It is in the persons therefore of the Fathers who constituted that most holy Patristic Synod, that we have the perennial exemplar of unerring Theology and the precious archetype of a genuine Father and Teacher. The holy 1st Ecumenical Synod drafted - dear brethren - the first Symbol of the Faith, which was later completed by the holy 2nd Ecumenical Synod of Constantinople in 381, with its five last articles. Both these holy Synods served the most sacred and loftiest purpose in the lives of Christians, which was none other than the unity, the concordance and the peace of the Church.
Through their dogmatic ruling, which is succinctly crystalized in the sacred Symbol, they outlined the "basics" of the Orthodox belief, every transgression of which places those who dare, outside the corpus of the Church.
At the Fanarion, in the old conference hall of our Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, among other depicted themes is artistically inscribed on its four walls the Creed of Nicea-Constantinople, which clearly denotes - in the likeness of a fiery circle - those sacred "basics", which no-one can possibly ignore or overstep.
It only took (much later on) the addition to the Symbol of one and only word: the familiar "Filioque", to create new cacodoxies and schisms and heresies, which, to this day holds Western Christianity a long way away from the Orthodox East.
As observed very astutely by a contemporary theologian, the Symbol is a spiritual banner, and banners have as their mission the uniting of similarly-believing groups of people, under common ideals. We, therefore, who reverently believe in Christ, find ourselves under the banner of the sacred Symbol of Nicea-Constantinople which loudly proclaims Who is the living God, what His Providence for our sake is, which is the true Church and which is the hope of those who believe.
In olden times, the Certificates of Baptism issued by certain Provinces of the Ecumenical Patriarchate used to have printed around their circumference in a circle the entire Symbol, which acted as a handy reminder to the one who was baptized, of the salvific truth.
It is this precise and salvific belief that we are also called upon in the present days to both preserve unharmed and unadulterated as a worded item, and to also uphold it in our daily practices, by following in the steps of the God-bearing Fathers and all the Saints throughout the ages."