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The dialogues of Ecumenism

Contemporary ecumenist dialogues are radically different to the dialogues of the Saints, because they are conducted on the basis of the broadened Church and dogmatic minimalism. That is what makes them non-orthodox and fruitless. Proof of this, is that over the almost one hundred years that they have been taking place, they have offered nothing noteworthy towards the unification of the Christian world. In fact, they have actually succeeded in dividing the Orthodox!

            The more prominent points in the pathology of today’s dialogues are the following:  

            Á’.       T h e   l a c k   o f   o r t h o d o x   c o n f e s s i o n .

           In their dialogues, certain Orthodox do not express the unswerving conviction of the Orthodox Church, that it constitutes the one and only Church of Christ on earth.  They also do not project the sanctified tradition and the spiritual experience of Orthodoxy, which are different to the traditions and the experiences of Western Christianity.  Only a confessional stance such as that could have vouchsafed and have made the Orthodox presence a fruitful one in such dialogues.

            Â’.       T h e   l a c k   o f     s i n c e r i t y.

            The shortage of orthodox witness, combined with the proven insincerity of the heterodox, has complicated the inter-Christian dialogue even more, and has rendered it ineffective. This is why we have often observed a superficial yielding, or the use of ambiguous language and terminology, in their attempt to camouflage their differences.

            First of all, if the Roman Catholics were truly above-board in their dealings, they should be clearly specifying to the ecumenist circles the same thing that they stress to their own faithful; in other words, their uncompromising fixation on pontifical primacy and infallibility.  This of course would have made it very obvious how they visualize the unification of Christians: not as a union of faith, but as a submission of everyone under pontifical authority. This would furthermore confirm the certainty that the papal institution comprises the most tragic warping of Christ’s Gospel and that it is using the dialogues exclusively to serve its own policy of expansionism.

           Chief evidence of the Papists’ insincerity is the preservation and fortification of Unia [1]. This is an underhanded institution that Papism used –and continues to use- as a model for unification, despite the heated protests of the Orthodox and despite the fact that Unia is the basic obstacle in the bilateral discussions today.

            On the other hand, if the variegated Protestant denominations were sincere, they should have straightforwardly declared that they are not at all willing to relinquish their basic Protestant principles, and that there are other causes that compel them to enter the dialogues. This, at any rate, is made evident by the downhill trend that their “Churches” have taken (ordination of women, marriage between homosexuals, etc.)

            C’.        O v e r s t a t i n g    l o v e.

            Given that insincerity and self-serving expediencies have poisoned the dialogues, which have themselves gradually become a series of endless and fruitless theological discussions, an about-face was attempted.  Dialogues were now re-named “dialogues of love”, both for the purpose of impressing, and in order to bypass the obstacle of dogmatic disputes.  “Love prevails”, they stress. “Love demands that we unite, even if there are dogmatic differences.”

            That is why the tactics in today’s dialogues is not to discuss those things that divide, but instead, those things that unite, thus giving a false impression of unity and a common faith. In the Ecumenical Synods however, the Fathers always discussed those things that divided.  The same applies today, in any dialogue between sides that have differences: They discuss the issues that separate them –which is why dialogues take place in the first place- and not the issues that unite them.

            To us Orthodox, Love and the Truth are inseparable notions.  A dialogue of love without the truth is a false and unnatural dialogue, whereas a dialogue of love “in the truth” would mean:  I am in a dialogue with the heterodox out of love, in order to highlight where their errors are situated and how they can be led to the Truth.  If I truly love them, I must tell them the Truth, as difficult or as painful as that may be.

            D’.       B l u n t  i n g   t h e   o r t h o d o x   c r i t e r i a.

            Also in the pathology of these dialogues is the blunting of the orthodox theological criteria, which is evidenced by the cultivation of an “ecumenical courtesy”, personal relations and friendship among the heterodox theologians.  “Faith” is no longer regarded as the Truth that saves, but only a collection of theoretical truths that are open to “accommodations”.

            The orthodox ecumenists maintain that: “We are only discussing; we are not changing our faith!”  Naturally, dialogue as an “opening of love” towards the other is pleasing to God. But the ecumenist dialogue, in the form it has taken today, is not a meeting in the truth, but in a “mutual acknowledgement”.  This means we are acknowledging the heterodox communities as “Churches”; that we are acknowledging that their dogmatic deviations merely constitute “legal expressions” of the same faith. But, in this way, we would be falling into the trap of dogmatic syncretism; we would be placing the Truth at the same level with deception; we would be equating light to darkness.

            Å’.       C o m m o n   p r a y e r s

            By blunting their theological criteria, it is only natural that the orthodox ecumenists would participate without any reservations whatsoever in common displays of worship and prayer with the heterodox, which is often done, in the context of inter-Christian meetings.  They know that with this ecumenist co-spirituality, a suitable psychological climate is created, which is necessary for the promotion of their unification endeavors.

            However, the sacred Canons of our Church strictly prohibit common prayer with the heterodox. Because the heterodox do not have the same faith as the Orthodox; they believe in a different, warped Christ. That is why Saint John the Damascene refers to them as infidels:  “Whomsoever does not believe according to the tradition of the Catholic (overall) Church, is an infidel”.

            Common prayer is therefore forbidden, because it expresses participation in the faith of the one who is in co-prayer and gives him the false impression that he is not in a fallacious belief, in which case, he does not need to return to the Truth.

            F’.     I n t e r c o m m u n i o n.

            If the sacred Canons forbid common prayer with heretics, they forbid us even more to participate in their “sacraments”. But even in this point, we Orthodox did not appear to be consistent.

            In the framework of its ecumenist “opening”, the 2nd Vatican Synod proposed the so-called “Intercommunion” with the Orthodox; in other words, the Papists would be able to receive Communion in Orthodox churches and the Orthodox in Papist churches. In this way, both the Papists as well as the Orthodox ecumenists believe that the de facto union of Papism and Orthodoxy would gradually be realized, in spite of all their dogmatic differences.

            If a position such as this is justified by the Papists, from the perception they have of the Church and the Sacraments (created Grace etc.), to us Orthodox it is illogical and unacceptable. Our church has never regarded the divine Eucharist as a means of attaining unity, but always as its seal and its crown.

            Besides, the common Chalice presupposes a common faith. In other words, if an Orthodox receives communion in a papist church, it would signify that he is also receiving the papist faith.


[1] "Unia" is a socio-religious scheme that was fabricated by Papism, with the intent to Westernize the Christians of the East. It exploited many historical incidents of those Christians, and forced them into submission under papal authority. However, it simultaneously encouraged them not to change their ecclesiastic traditions (clergy's vestments, liturgical rituals, etc.) which would cause confusion, and also encouraged them to promote papist propaganda.


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Page created: 16-3-2006.

Last update: 16-3-2006.