October 25, 2014

Benedict XVI in the Holy Land

Pope Benedict’s trip is off to a good start and the intense media coverage (1,300 journalists covering the trip by one estimate) is already bringing much needed attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East. The Bishop of Rome has a deep appreciation for Eastern Christianity, as did his predecessor John Paul II. In his Vespers homily delivered in the Greek-Melkite Cathedral of St. George in Amman, Benedict said this:

The ancient living treasure of the traditions of the Eastern Churches enriches the universal Church and could never be understood simply as objects to be passively preserved. All Christians are called to respond actively to the Lord’s mandate — as Saint George did in dramatic ways according to popular record — to bring others to know and love him. In fact the vicissitudes of history have strengthened the members of particular Churches to embrace this task with vigor and to engage resolutely with the pastoral realities of today. Most of you trace ancient links to the Patriarchate of Antioch, and your communities are thus rooted here in the Near East. And, just as two thousand years ago it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians, so also today, as small minorities in scattered communities across these lands, you too are recognized as followers of the Lord. The public face of your Christian faith is certainly not restricted to the spiritual solicitude you bear for one another and your people, essential though that is. Rather, your many works of universal charity extend to all Jordanians — Muslims and those of other religions — and also to the large numbers of refugees whom this Kingdom so generously welcomes.

Present for the homily were His Beatitude Gregorios III Laham, the Greek Melkite Patriarch, Emeritus Archbishop Georges El-Murr and His Excellency Yaser Ayyach, Archbishop of Petra and Philadelphia. Also attending were representatives from other Churches in the East — Maronite, Syrian, Armenian, Chaldean and Latin — as well as Archbishop Benediktos Tsikoras of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Benedict’s visit was anticipated with some anxiety by local Catholics, who recalled the angry reception his September 2006 Regensburg speech received in the Muslim world. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz a few days before the trip, the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, was hoping that there would be no more of that.

The thing that worries me most is the speech that the pope will deliver here. One word for the Muslims and I’m in trouble; one word for the Jews and I’m in trouble. At the end of the visit the pope goes back to Rome and I stay here with the consequences.

But he also spoke plainly about problems with the Israeli authorities, chiefly the roadblocks that impede travel.

“It is hard to move priests, it is hard to move nuns among hospitals. It is hard to get to funerals, it is hard to come to weddings. The entire functioning of our priesthood is hampered,” he said.

However, Twal acknowledges that there is another aspect to this difficulty, which is even more distressing.

“I have a hard time with the total distrust that the government of Israel evinces towards us,” he said. “You can trust us and you can even get help from us.”

Twal is aware of what are seen as improved Jewish-Christian relations. He listens patiently to a description of Jewish claims that in contrast to Muslims, “It’s possible to live with Christians,” while the Muslims in the territories and in Israel are envious of the Christians “who have a big brother in the Vatican.”

[...]

“We don’t derive any benefit from what the two sides see as preferential status,” he said. “At the roadblocks, even priestly garb doesn’t help.”

Twal does not agree with the claim that all the open complaints by the Christian community are always directed at the Jews while troubles with Muslims are swept under the rug.

“I say openly that we have serious problems with the Muslims and with the strengthening of Islam in the region,” he says. “Christian families in Bethlehem are suffering quite a bit. However, this too is a result of the weakening of the central government in Palestine. When Islam gets stronger we suffer. When the regime gets weaker, we suffer. Look at what is happening to our people in Iraq.”

See also the AP story “Palestinians seek papal pressure on Israel” for more on this.

Hamdi Murad, a professor of religious studies at the University of Jordan, told the Catholic News service that she was sure that Benedict’s visit “opened a new, pure and white page for relations between Muslims and Christians. This also has closed that page that had some — if we can say — misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians. So we have many hopes and wishes for the future after this visit.”

Nader Twal, a Christian tour guide, put Benedict’s trip into perspective for the Zenit news agency:

“I, as a Christian, always say that I am Arabic, Jordanian and Christian,” he explained. “We Christians make up 3% [of the population of Jordan], Catholic are 1.5%. We see in this visit a support for the presence of Christians, we who’ve been here 2,000 years.

“The visit is also important because it has brought about the meeting of the Pope with the king and queen, with the leaders of the Muslims, and this is decisive to speak about existing together, about human elements, not dogmatic ones: themes that affect this region of the Middle East, which is always in conflict.”

According to Twal, who is accustomed to presenting the biblical richness of Jordan, when the Pope goes Sunday to the banks of the River Jordan where Christ was baptized, it will be one of the most symbolic moments for the future of Christianity in Jordan. The Holy Father will be blessing the cornerstones for two churches to be built there, one for Latin-rite Catholics and the other for Greek-Melkites.

“Unfortunately, this site that is found at the origin of the Christian faith is still forgotten, even by the Church,” Twal lamented. “The [Pope's] blessing is a gesture that calls attention, as it will be followed by the 1,300 journalists covering this trip: a call to the Church of all the world. A visit to Jordan should be an important part of pilgrimages to the Holy Land.”

Comments

  1. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Scott Pennington says:

    Wow, for a second I thought my browser had mistakenly taken me to a Catholic site.

  2. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    John Couretas says:

    Scott:

    Your sarcasm is pointless. And your use of the term “heretic” elsewhere on this blog to describe Catholics is deplorable.

    The pope going to the Middle East to raise awareness of the plight of Christians in a terrible situation is what is known as “news.” He deserves our applause. And I don’t recall the pope saying that he was only concerned about Roman Catholics.

    This blog presumes that we are looking at the world through the convictions and faith of Orthodox Christianity. Here we, generally speaking, look at the social witness or social nature of Orthodox Christianity. For theological debates, there are many fine Orthodox blogs where you can do that with other armchair theologians. It’s not what we do here.

    Which is why we’re not interested in hurling anathemas at other Christians like, say, a medieval pope would do. Or an Athonite archimandrite. AOI is, I should add, very interested in making common cause with brother and sister Christians in the social sphere where it makes sense, without any fear of appearing to embrace heretical enthusiasms or undermining the witness of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. That’s what I would call real ecumenism, as opposed the sort practiced by the National Council of Churches and its Marxist inspired ideologues.

    Imagine where the pro-life movement would be today if the Catholics and Protestants had said, “Let’s leave this to the Orthodox.” Maybe we Orthodox owe our fellow Christians a debt of gratitude for their good work on this important issue, and many others.

    What’s more, you may have noticed in recent years that the Moscow Patriarchate, the largest and most influential Orthodox Church in the world, has been joining with the Roman Church on common cause issues like Christianophobia and the Christian witness to the EU mandarins in Brussels on the European Constitution. I don’t recall the Russians ever addressing fellow Christians involved in these projects as “heretics.”

    A wise priest once told me many years ago (he was Orthodox, btw) that salvation in Christ may be found outside the Orthodox Church. “We know where the Church is, we don’t know where it isn’t,” he said. Maybe this priest was wrong. I don’t know; I’m not a theologian. But his insight strikes me as true.

    This is a moderated group blog established to discuss social issues among Orthodox Christians. This blog was not set up to root out “heretics” or to advance some phantasmagorical Orthodox triumphalism. Although we offer a lot of wiggle room on these discussions, there’s none for this. In the future, all references to Catholics and Protestants as “heretics” and the use of any other disparaging term for them will be deleted.

  3. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Michael Bauman says:

    John, interesting that you would react with such authority regarding Scott’s comments and attitude on the RCC while saying nothing about the language and attitudes in the threads addressing the OCA, GOA and Orthodox unity.

    By the standard you are stating here, a good number of those posts should be deleted including some of my own.

    Is it not more incumbant upon us to treat each other with love and respect than to treat (choose a word) hetrodox, heretics, schismatics all of which apply to the RCC. They, after all, still teach that we are schismatics and going to hell. Pope Benedict in one of his early statements restated the RCC line that there is nothing wrong with RCC-Orthodox relations that submitting to the Papal Throne wouldn’t cure.

    The RCC doctrine is heretical at least according to the 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, but that does not mean that all Roman Catholics are heretics.

    We have to be aware of this in our interaction. Dosen’t mean we have to slap them in the face with it ever time we talk, but we must remain aware of it. Especially with the EP’s actions toward Rome which I and many others consider way beyond just being nice.

    Makes me concerned. If what we have taught for centuries can be easily laid aside for expediency, why bother?

  4. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    John Couretas says:

    This just in (HT: Byzantine, TX):

    2009-05-14 18:00:00

    Russian Orthodox Church warns Europeans of fatal effects of Christian phobia

    Prague, May 14, Interfax – The Russian Orthodox Church believes that the European community should take urgent measures to combat Christian phobia in today’s Europe.

    “We should become aware that Christian phobia was generated by Christian civilization, or whatever we call European civilization now. Christian phobia is nothing else but malignant cancer which threatens European civilization with fatal effects,” Russian Church representative at the European Council Hegumen Filaret (Bulekov) said at the Dialogue of Civilizations World Public Forum in Prague.

    He urged “not only Christians, but also all bearers of traditional European culture formed by Christianity to consider carefully their cultural survival in today’s globalizing world and ask themselves why so many of them feel no concern about the present and the future of their culture and their religious traditions.”

    “We need to acknowledge that it is impossible to put the blame for Christian phobia displays on Muslims, immigrants or the so-called “Civilization Clash”. It is the essential and primary fault of successors to European Christian culture, that is, our fault,” Fr. Filaret said.

    2009-05-14 13:53:00

    Archbishop Hilarion, Archbishop Mennini discuss Orthodox-Catholic relations

    Moscow, May 14, Interfax – Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk exchanged views on relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church with Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the apostolic nuncio to Russia.

    The meeting took place at Archbishop Mennini’s request at the St. Daniel Monastery in Moscow and passed “in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and openness,” the Russian Orthodox Church reported on its official website.

    The parties discussed relations between Orthodox believers and Catholics in Russia and also practical issues concerning the work of the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Theological Commission on Dialogue and the activity of a joint working group on problems in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

    During the meeting, the parties emphasized the importance of combined efforts in protecting traditional Christian values.

    Archbishop Mennini also handed Archbishop Hilarion letters from Secretary of the Holy See Secretariat of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, and Holy See Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Dominique Mamberti.

  5. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    John, well said. I agree that the RCC is heterodox but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid Christian witness. Or the Evangelicals. The impotence of many Orthodox jurisdictions re the Sanctity of Life hits a little too close to home for me: if it weren’t for the RCCs and Evangelicals, the abortion culture would have progressed even farther than it has. And here we are playing “canon roulette” while the world is going to hell in a handbasket.

    I will say this though: I believe you were wrong about an “Athonite archimandrite.” If you’re referring to the Rev Dr Fr Hopebearer, then I feel you were gravely mistaken. As far as I know, there are no Ritz-Carlton’s on Mt Athos.

  6. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Thank you Michael!

    Love does not imply the sacrifice of truth. The communists did not love us and we do no expect to be loved by the globalists.

    The Deceiver learned the language of the pious and does his best to mislead us. Ecumenical liturgies won’t stop the hatred toward Christians.

  7. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Elliot, John, Michael, Scott, as I’ve said on other threads, the need for common Christian witness does not necessitate common liturgical celebrations. From my own limited experience with RCC and Missouri Synod Lutherans, there is no urgent need on their part to ecumenize w/ the Orthodox. What is more important for them is that Orthodox bishops, priests, and congregations coming together with them to defend against the degradation of man. I know I speak for more than a few RC clergy when I say that they’d rather have a GOA bishop standing with them at the annual pro-life rally rather than attending some “cotton-candy” type of ecumenical liturgical service (Andrew’s phrase).

    At the risk of beating a dead horse, would it have crimped Arb Demetrios’ all that much to stay over just one day after Obama’s inauguration to attend the annual March for Life? Just the fact that he couldn’t even put in a token appearance tells me that the secular elites that really run the GOA won’t stand for such a moral witness. (I remember the days back in the 70s when The Orthodox Observer used to run ads for bumper stickers that said “Abortion is Murder.” That was a different moral universe we lived in then.)

  8. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    From my own limited experience with RCC and Missouri Synod Lutherans, there is no urgent need on their part to ecumenize w/ the Orthodox. What is more important for them is that Orthodox bishops, priests, and congregations coming together with them to defend against the degradation of man.

    I know I speak for more than a few RC clergy when I say that they’d rather have a GOA bishop standing with them at the annual pro-life rally rather than attending some “cotton-candy” type of ecumenical liturgical service (Andrew’s phrase).

    You almost convinced me … This is for sure a noble cause.
    Except that these gatherings will be regarded by many as a sign that there are no differences at all among the participant. They serve indirectly the ecumenist agenda.

  9. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    BTW, the degradation of man started long time ago in the West while the Orthodox were dying in the communists prisons and camps.
    What the Catholics & all did to stop it? Why were not them successful back then? What would be different now?

  10. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    The degradation affected the Orthodox world too, Eliot. Dostoevsky warned of it long before the Communists came to power. And don’t be too quick to judge the Catholics. The moral leadership of Pope John Paul II did a lot to break the back of Communism.

  11. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Eliot, I reject in principle the concept that if we participate in a pro-life rally we are somehow “serving indirectly the ecumenist agenda.” Again, I make a crucial distinction between the evil ecumenism of the WCC/NCC (which has produced nothing good) and the “ecumenism of the trenches,” where good can actually be effected.

    As for observers not seeing any “differences” between the participants, I hardly think that that should mandate disqualification. For one thing, the casual observer is not germane to the argument (he doesn’t care one or the other) and two, even the casual observer knows that there are significant differnces between the Christian denominations. (And if he doesn’t, please see point #1 above.)

    Anyway, hats off to +Jonah for participating and a “better luck next time” to the other primates.

  12. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Fr. Johannes Jacobse:

    The Catholics(simple believers) are good people.
    I find the actions of the leaders (both John Paul II and Benedict )very difficult to understand.
    With all due respect I disagree: I do not believe that
    Pope John Paul II did a lot to break the back of Communism.

    Since when praying with leaders of all the false religions is called moral leadership? They want to tell us that all religions pray to ‘same God’? Does this worry you?
    It worries me very much because it shakes the foundation of my faith! Evil enters the world not only when good people do nothing but also when good people believe a lie.

    What about the canon “One must not join in prayer with heretics or schismatics”? Are the protestants schismatics and heretics from the Catholic point of view?

  13. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Sure he did. Read the history of Solidarity. Communism started to crack first in Poland. Three great leaders aligned: Pope John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan. Each was able to marshal forces that Communism proved powerless to resist. The moral force however, was unquestionably John Paul II.

    Evil enters the world through a lie, more specifically when men put their hands in service to a lie. All it takes for the evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. Important distinction.

    “False religion, heretics, schismatics” — all these terms need a more precise definition than anyone is using here. Used here it means nothing more than people who believe some things differently than the Orthodox do.

    Catholics don’t use the term “schismatic or heretic” to describe Protestants. They use the term “separated brethren.” So no, they don’t consider Protestants heretics or schismatic. Neither do the Orthodox. Heretic or schismatic, properly defined, applies only to those within the Church.

  14. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Heretic or schismatic, properly defined, applies only to those within the Church.

    We were all One Church in the beginning!!!
    Whoever separated from the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is heretic and schismatic.

  15. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Fr. Johannes Jacobse: I whish you would have said something about this part:

    Since when praying with leaders of all the false religions is called moral leadership? They want to tell us that all religions pray to ’same God’? Does this worry you?
    It worries me very much because it shakes the foundation of my faith!

    I am not interested in politics and good deeds done for the wrong reason. When should we say enough, this is the true faith the One Church and that Christ is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”, that He is the Messiah. Should we say it is enough to seek God or just ‘a god’ and be sinciere about it? Do we pray to same God? I do not think this “everybody is right” policy is a good thing. This will lead to the Una Sancta Church, under the WCC. Why did we bother to criticize the EP for it? Abp. Alexios is doing the right thing when praying for unity. Only those who would want to stay in the Orthodox faith will be to blame. They are “stubborn” and unloving. St Mark of Ephsus was wrong and he held us back for so long. Al the saints after him were wrong. Where Did I get lost, because I am certainly lost …?

    Saint Seraphim of Sarov foresaw the ecumenical movment when he said that:

    There will come a time when under the guise of the progress of the church and Christianity, but in order to please the desires of the world, they will be changing and twisting the dogmas and rules of the Holy Church, forgetting that their beginning is with the very Lord Jesus Christ who taught and gave instructions to his disciples – the Holy Apostles – about the constructing of the Church of Christ and about her rules, commanding them, “Go and teach all nations what I have commanded you” (Matt. 28: 19).

  16. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    I think St. Seraphim of Sarov is correct, and I’ve stuck my neck out on it too, plenty of times. Note too though that St. Sarov is very judicious in his use of language. No “they are heretics!” here.

    My definition of ecumenical work follows the definition offered by the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, a Roman Catholic priest. He said, true ecumenism starts with a frank and honest acceptance of the differences between Christian communions (“We are more united when we admit our differences, than when we pretend they don’t exist,” or something to that effect.) Thus ecumenical work does not have to try to turn RC’s into Orthodox, or Orthodox into RC’s. Usually it is to make common cause on issues that affect us (or others), such as Proposition 8 in California, etc. In fact, I would work with Mormons on issues like this since all of us have an interest in defending the Christian moral roots of culture.

    Frankly, I think participation by leadership in any kind of worship outside of an Orthodox Church blurs lines that need to be kept clear. Having said that, I would speak in another church or synagogue if asked, and I have. I’ve attended services in other churches (weddings, baptisms, etc.) but only as a congregant, never taking any kind of leadership role. I don’t see this as compromise.

    Look, in actual fact there is no such thing as the “true faith” or the “true Church.” It exists only as a rhetorical construct. The Church, to use the proper vocabulary, which is to say the words of scripture, is the “pillar and ground of the truth” but “truth” here is Christ. The Church (ekklesia — the “ones called out”) then, is “true” to the measure that it abides in Truth, who is Christ. Take this communion with Christ out of the Church with everything that this communion implies (including offering the Gospel to a Samaritan woman and scores like her as the reading today taught — did Jesus call her a heretic?), and all that will be left is an arid doctrinalism and emergent triumphalism. And God knows we Orthodox have more than our share of triumphalism.

    On the other hand, I am clear in stating whenever I am asked that I am Orthodox Christian. By it I mean that I believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is comprehended and taught in the Orthodox Christian faith. (This is what “Tradition” is all about BTW — teaching us how to live in the Gospel.)

    Here’s the thing about the Gospel. It will obliterate any structure, intellectual or otherwise, that seeks to contain it (seek to be broken on the rock, rather than have the rock break you). If one serves the Gospel however, which is to say if one seeks to conform his life Christ — if the ekklesia is indeed called out, as an existential reality — the Church is indeed in Christ and becomes his body and thus can bring light into the world. As soon as the Church claims the Gospel as its own however (as soon as we think we are saved by virtue of our “Orthodoxy” rather than Christ) then the Church ceases to be the pillar and ground of truth even if its buildings still stand, its printing presses still run…

  17. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Eliot, I like what St Seraphim of Sarov said. I agree with it. Notice however that he talks about people within the Church distorting truth. Which is what I think ecumenical services that are “candy-coated” ultimately do. It’s just a bunch of clergymen playing dress-up and trying to impress each other. I want nothing to do with that. Or with interfaith gatherings such as the NCC/WCC. Again, crucial distinction: I will work with those (even atheists) who are likewise shocked and dismayed by the degradation of man. This includes all pro-life issues, including fighting so-called gay marriage (which is an assault on the truth).

    Nobody is asking us to pray with them at these gatherings and or workings-together (I know, incorrect word). I will vote for the most viable, pro-life, electable official. Even if he’s not an absolutist, he can retard the culture of death. Even a man who stops 10% of abortions is preferable to one who thinks 100% of abortions are nothing less than a mandatory right-or-passage for women.

  18. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Michael Bauman says:

    Not arguing with you Father, but Jesus did tell Photini, “you (the Samaritans) worship what you do not know”, also telling them they were without salvation. Is that substantially different from saying some one is a heretic?

    At the same time He delivered the truth in far more direct terms than anywhere else, “I am He”, the Messiah.

    Perhaps the concentration should be on what truth they do have, as that is what Jesus did with Photini, He confirmed her expectation of the Messiah. It would also seem that is the manner in which Ortodox missonaries have always acted, confirming the God inspired truth they find and completing the story for those with whom they work. What I somewhat irreverantly call the Paul Harvey approach—“and now for The Rest of the Story….”

    Thank you, Father for your correction.

  19. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    I would never use the term in a personal context. It blunts discernment. Thus, my interpretation would be that Jesus came to the woman as teacher, not judge, so to read “you worship what you do not know” cannot be read as a kind of heresy-lite.

    I’ll use, when talking to someone looking for understanding this phrase: “Let me expand that a bit.” It takes the nugget that is true, then frames it in a larger context. It is missionary work in a way, except that often you are leading Christians into a deeper understanding of the Gospel.

  20. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Fr. Johannes Jacobse:
    I do not understand this kind of talk:

    Look, in actual fact there is no such thing as the “true faith” or the “true Church.” It exists only as a rhetorical construct. The Church, to use the proper vocabulary, which is to say the words of scripture, is the “pillar and ground of the truth” but “truth” here is Christ.

    What is the Creed about? I believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church! Here is what ARCHBISHOP AVERKY says:

    Because She is “the ground and pillar of the Truth,” “the gates of Hell cannot prevail against Her.” It follows, then, that the true Christian Church palpably unique since Christ established but one Church has always existed on earth and will exist to the end of time. She has received the promise of Christ, “I will be with you even unto the end of the age.” Can there be the slightest doubt that the Lord refers here to the Church? Any honest and sane judgment, any act of good conscience, anyone familiar with the history of the Christian Church, the pure and unaltered moral and theological teachings of the Christian religion, must confess that there was but one true Church founded by our Lord, Jesus Christ, and that She has preserved His Truth holy and unchanged. History reveals, moreover, a traceable link of grace from the holy Apostles to their successors and to the holy Fathers. In contrast to what others have done, the Orthodox Church has never introduced novelties into Her teachings in order to “keep up with the times”, to be “progressive”, “not to be left at the side of the road,” or to accommodate current exigencies and fashions which are always suffused with evil. The Church never conforms to the world.

    In other words, the way of these “progressivists” is not our way. Their way is deceptive, and it is unfortunate that it is not evident to everyone. The “broader” or “larger view” alienates us from the Lord and His true Church. It is the road away from Orthodoxy. This view is sinister, maliciously invented by the Devil in order to deny us salvation. For us, however, we accept no innovations, but choose the ancient, proven way, the way in which true Christians have chosen to serve God for 2,000 years.

    What we have today is indeed a damaged Orthodoxy:
    http://www.roacusa.org/epistle1995.htm

    We must admit that the successes of the dark powers that have been trying finally to destroy undamaged Orthodoxy, have been very great. But this is no reason for the faithful children of the Church of Christ to become despondent or to cease to struggle against these evil forces. The hierarch Ignaty Brianchaninov wrote: “The apostasy is allowed by God: do not try to stop it with your powerless hand. Keep away, guard yourself from it: and this will be enough from you. Get to know the spirit of the time, study it, so as to avoid its influence as far as possible.

    The Russian Orthodox Church is living through a harsh time, constricted now not by bloody persecutors, but by false brethren, who imitate Orthodoxy and call themselves the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the supposed successor of the Church of his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon. Its main aim is “to deceive, if it were possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24.24), so that there should be forever lost in our poor Fatherland the feeling of truth and the right understanding of what the Church really is.

    Now I know for sure that those wise priest who insist that the Orthodox Church needs changes to in order to meet the needs of the people here in America are wrong. Those many converts who embraced the most traditional form of Orthodoxy prove this. The monasteries of Elder Ephraim prove the same thing. Now I know my way! What a relief! Thank you.

    I’ve attended services in other churches (weddings, baptisms, etc.) but only as a congregant, never taking any kind of leadership role. I don’t see this as compromise.

    I have this story: an Orthodox family baptized their daughter in the Orthodox Church. They invited their friends who are Baptists. NONE of them stepped in the Orthodox Church for the service, they only showed up for the party. I think we should learn here a lesson about non compromising.

    If an Orthodox is to be admitted in the Baptist ‘church’ he hes to renounce his Orthodox baptism and undergo some sort of a pagan ritual. By being there we say that this is OK.

    Forgive me Father.

  21. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Note 20. I’m not sure how Bp. Averky’s critique applies to my comments. I read through the entire article and it reads as one of documents that concerned ROCOR’s internal difficulties that have thankfully been resolved.

    My only point was to warn Orthodox polemicists not to conceive of the Church in ideological, rather than existential, terms. The Church is not Orthodox because Orthodoxy is “true,” it is Orthodox when it abides in Truth. And Jesus Christ is the Truth. The first is a rhetorical construct, the second is a way of living, of being. It’s only when we are in communion with Christ — through prayer, obedience, the sacraments, all the things the Church teaches — that we can say the Church constitutes His body. It’s a dynamic, living reality that exists by our doing it, not merely declaring it.

    Properly understood, to be Orthodox requires constant vigilance, constant repentance and turning toward our Savior. When this stops, which sometimes happens, then things happen in the name of “Orthodoxy” that are not at all Orthodox. For example, take the banishment of St. John Chrysostom by a council of Bishops led by the Patriarch of Antioch. Where was Christ here? — with St. John or with the Council? I submit with St. John even though his banishment was decreed in the name of fidelity to “Orthodoxy.”

    If an Orthodox is to be admitted in the Baptist ‘church’ he hes to renounce his Orthodox baptism and undergo some sort of a pagan ritual. By being there we say that this is OK.

    Baptists are not “pagans.” Words mean things Eliot, and “pagan” has a very definite meaning. Nonetheless, Jesus sat with sinners. Does this mean he approved their sin? Of course not. (Apologizes to any Baptist that might reading this.)

  22. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    George Michalopulos:

    All this talk about getting together to stop the degradation of mankind is just a pretext to go toward unity with Rome. This would be OK if I would not have seen were the Rome is heading: toward super-ecumenism. Those who want unity should just come HOME as the converts did.

    The civilizations clash happened couple of centuries ago, when the Ottoman Empire was threatening the existence of the Christians. It was mainly the Orthodox who stood against them and praise the Lord here we are. We did not perish. because God was with us.

    Then the communism came and the Orthodox paid
    again with many lives. St John Maximovitch said that the Russians paid for their sins and for the betrayal of the Anointed of God, the Tsar.

    From the forces of darkness point of view, the Communism had to go because it started to have same god parts: no drugs, no gay parades, far less divorces and immorality than the West. The Pope did not not brake the back of the Communism (this makes me smile). Even if he did, it was many decades after the communists broke the backs, lives and souls souls of the Orthodox. Once the communism fell there we go: gay parades, drugs in schools and everywhere
    and so on.

    Now we say: lets get together with the Catholics and all to stop the abortion, immorality and the degradation of man. . So, I ask again: what the Catholics and all (with their large numbers) did to stop this process which got very high momentum back in the 1960′ while the Orthodox were still
    dying in prisons and camps? Too many tricks were tried (see Florence) to achieve unity, so why I would believe this is something else.

    You claim to be against ecumenism, but there are many ecumenists in the OCL and it is a matter of time until until we’ll hear their voices.

    This is just a step forward the great Apostasy. What
    What st Ignatius Brianchaninov wrote is still valid today:

    “The apostasy is allowed by God: do not try to stop it with your powerless hand. Keep away, guard yourself from it: and this will be enough from you. Get to know the spirit of the time, study it, so as to avoid its influence as far as possible.”

    Why is this allowed by God? Because the Scripture has to be fullfiled: “to deceive, if it were possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24.24).

    You may not see this now, but when you will, know what it is and get up.

    May the Lord help us fight the good fight and Complete the path.

  23. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    John Couretas says:

    Eliot:

    Your comments are an amalgam of absurdity and bigotry.

    Do you know any Roman Catholics? Ever met a Protestant?

    You’re looking for the scary spooks of godless ecumenism on this blog — where none exist. And a question for you: Why is it that Roman Catholics have been skeptical about membership in the WCC and NCC while Orthodox Churches, by and large, have been enthusiastic participants? Have we, that is we Orthodox, gone over to the Dark Side?

    Allow me to lay your fears to rest about any union with Rome. I’m hazarding a theory here. There will be no union, or unia, with Rome in the near future because the laity of the Orthodox Church are not calling for it. That’s a safeguard against any power play from a church committee, phony council, or rogue hierarch. I will further hazard a corollary: There must be evidence to the whole Church that the Holy Spirit is working toward such a union.

    You know, it says in the Bible that Jesus Christ prayed for the unity of the Church (“that they all may be one” John 17:21). I don’t think that was an interpolation into Scripture from Vatican polemicists. As to how such a unity could be effected in the 21st Century, I don’t know. As the president says, it’s above my pay grade.

    Your irrational and unsubstantiated fears of Orthodox “apostasy” can only lead in one direction: to a vision of the Orthodox Church as a sect for the Ultra-Orthodox elect.

    And this phrase “the betrayal of the Anointed of God, the Tsar.” What? I’d like to see a show of hands here from all those Americans desiring to live under Tsardom. All those with their hands raised will be immediately volunteered for serfdom!

    So, enough of this. I’m not going to tolerate any more of these vicious statements.

    John

  24. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    John Couretas:

    Your comments are an amalgam of absurdity and bigotry.

    I truly believe that every single one posting here is smarter than I am. This does not mean that I’ll put my salvation in someones hands, no matter how smart or creative he is. It is not our intelligence that will save us. The fight is against the forces of darkness. Most of the time I quoted saints but perhaps I did not do it properly since you find it incomprehensible.

    Do you know any Roman Catholics? Ever met a Protestant?

    I’ve read the life and the works of a former Protestant, Fr. Seraphim Rose. He was truly brilliant! He dedicated his life to the translation of the lives and writing of saints
    He understood that that is what is needed, because from there we get the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He was creative only based on what he read from the Holy Fathers. No optimism there nor a single sign “that the Holy Spirit is working toward such a union”. On the contrary, he said :”It is later than you think!”

    Why is it that Roman Catholics have been skeptical about membership in the WCC and NCC while Orthodox Churches, by and large, have been enthusiastic participants?

    I believe praying with the leaders of false religions ( or “religions who have parts of the truth”) is even worse than the WCC membership. It is to say that Messiah may have come or may be coming (when praying with Jews), that Christ is only a prophet although He said I am the Messiah (when praying with the Muslims). So, this is why I asked Fr. Hans since when praying with the leaders of false religions is a called moral leadership. I never got an answer.

    Your irrational and unsubstantiated fears of Orthodox “apostasy” can only lead in one direction: to a vision of the Orthodox Church as a sect for the
    Ultra-Orthodox elect.

    I’ve cited saints John. I wish I can be happy and optimistic but I did not find much optimism in what the contemporary saint wrote. Just this: trust the Lord. Let me know if you know something else. Same thing about the Tsar, it is what St. John Maximovich wrote. Perhaps you do not know that he is venerated as a saint.

    I’ve been around long enough to notice a sudden change of tone, even change of ‘direction’ on this site. This happened recently and I wonder why.

  25. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    When did I ever say praying with leaders of false religions is moral leadership? I never said anything like that.

    John has a point though. The Roman Catholics never joined the NCC or WCC. The Orthodox have.

Care to comment?

*