Is the forthcoming Ecumenical Council going to be a complete fiasco?

Παρασκευή, 10 Ιουνίου 2016

Is the forthcoming Ecumenical Council going to be a complete fiasco?


A few days before the opening ceremony of the Pan-Orthodox Council that the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has been preparing for more than a century, black clouds seem to shatter the blue-sky hopes that were raised.
The Patriarchates of Bulgaria and Antioch distance themselves, each one for its own reasons, though obviously both urged by the same centre. The Church of Georgia asked the cancellation of the Council for theological reasons, while the Greek-speaking Patriarchates as well as the Church of Cyprus have adopted a waiting attitude. The Church of Russia urges others to sabotage the Council but nothing can exclude the possibility that it walks out triumphantly, in the end. Moreover, it has reason to take revenge on the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the cancellation of the previous Pan-Orthodox Council that the Church of Russia so much wanted to take
place.
In this troubled situation, where human passions are aroused and the Grace of the most Sacred, Life-Guiding Holy Spirit is actually inactive, everything is possible.
Either the cancellation of the Council or its carrying out would be a fiasco. Besides, the subjects that are going to be discussed are not of any particular interest. However, regardless of the developments or the conclusion of the convocation of the Great Pan-Orthodox Council, there will be great benefits for the Orthodox Church for various and important reasons, possibly irrelevant to the objectives set by the organizers:
1. First of all, theological problems that have existed for years, but an irresponsible ecumenism used to push aside, will be finally made known. A century of irresponsible and occasionally treasonous ecumenism is unmasked and pilloried at an international level. All the efforts that Patriarchs Athenagoras and Bartholomew made, through political and secular methods, in order to gain some profit burnt to ashes. The “theological agapism” that they promoted failed against “theology based on truth” which gains ground in view of the Great Council. Certain characteristics of this clear perspective are the critical attitude of the Church of Greece as well as the adoption, on its part, of the theological positions of Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, who contests the theological background of Ecumenism as it is expressed by the Metropolitan of Pergamon, Ioannis Zizioulas. The significant announcement of the Russian Orthodox Church of Diaspora was made in the same context. Furthermore, the Church of Georgia distances itself by citing theological arguments. Therefore, the first benefit, regardless of the conclusion of the Council, is the development of a constructive theological dialogue among the Orthodox, within or outside the Council.

2. The nationalist role of the Russian Church is also revealed most clearly. The Russian Church wants to be the head of all the Orthodox worldwide for the glorification of Holy Russia. This was shown during the celebrations of the Millennium of Russian Monasticism on Mount Athos, where the President of Russia, Mr. Putin, did not condescend to kiss any priest’s or monk’s hand. There is a certain arrogance that is also evidenced at the moment by the policies that Russia and its satellites pursue regarding the Pan-Orthodox Council. As Orthodox, we honor all Russian Saints, both those who followed faithfully the Orthodox Monasticism, as they learned it by the Greek-speaking Romioi Fathers, as well as the New Martyrs of the atheist regime during the last decades. However, it should not give carte blanche to the official Russian Orthodox Church which, even since the time of the so-called Peter the Great, expresses a “latent heretical orthodoxy”. Following the fall of the communist regime, it has established a kind of neo feudalism for the benefit of big monasteries, which exploit poor peasants as in the past. Certain Metropolitans act like feudal lords, while the Russian Church is totally ignorant of the holy canons of the Orthodox Church that it has replaced by its own practices. For instance, Baptism is unfortunately performed the papal way by either sprinkling or pouring water and not by triple immersion in the baptismal water.
The Russian Orthodox Church has many internal problems that it constantly tries to conceal for political and “diplomatic” reasons. It would be really useful if all this confusion offered an opportunity to make known all the existing problems and hear the truth.

3. The eternal word of Jesus Christ “Do not be afraid, little flock” is confirmed once again beyond any shadow of doubt. It currently describes the situation that the Church of Greece experiences. During the last years, the Greek Orthodox Church goes through a kind of undeclared persecution. All its rights deriving from the Hellenic Constitution have practically been abolished or apply only to … persons of other belief or faith. The “Hellenic” government went beyond declaring its atheism and did not hesitate to provoke the religious feelings of the Orthodox, in the most offensive way, by adopting an antichrist law, just two days before the great feast of Christmas. Moreover, the Bishops are treated with contempt by Ministers and state agencies, while any slight offence of any clergyman – regardless of whether it is true or false – is shown and highlighted in the mass media, contrary to the offences concerning representatives of other beliefs or denominations who are above criticism.
Furthermore, the Greek Orthodox live in a chaotic reality characterized by poverty, hunger, fears, abortions, adultery, prostitution, general blasphemy and so on…
However, nowadays, God has chosen the Church of this humiliated people to “humiliate the mighty”. “…, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are”. The Church of Greece has taken the responsibility to bring to a successful end such an attempt as the convocation of the Great Pan-Orthodox Council; and this responsibility does not concern only its assiduous efforts to act as a factor of balance between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other Orthodox Churches, but also its role as guide of other Churches like the Church of Cyprus and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, etc.
Another great achievement of the small in numbers but very active Church of Greece is the unofficial but substantial theological dialogue that preceded and is still going on between its members, Bishops, academics, clergymen, laics, Internet information websites, as well as in everyday discussions between people who really care about Orthodoxy. This is the great and incomparable asset of the Greek Orthodox Church.
We would like to believe and we hope that, regardless of the conclusion of the Pan-Orthodox Council, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will realize that Ecumenism has failed and will turn the page to start a new chapter in the history of the Patriarchate. May he make use of theology and the orthodox doctrine in order to avoid a global collapse! This is the only way for him to occupy a prominent position in History, just like Hezekiah and Manasseh in the Old Testament.
In this regard, we, all Orthodox Christians, should encourage each other these days to pray without ceasing.