A group of laity writes an open letter to Greek hierarchs concerning OCU
The Orthodox of the Greek city of Florina believe that the Phanar and Greek hierarchs committed a crime, recognizing the OCU, and drag ordinary believers into the abyss.
On November 10, 2019, during a Sunday liturgy in the Christian community of Ptolemaida, a group of the laity from the city of Florina wrote a letter to Metropolitan Iustinos (Bardakas) of Kalamaria and Nea Krini of the Greek Orthodox Church in regard to the “Ukrainian issue,” reports the Greek site “Vima Orthodoxias”.
In addition, believers distributed about 300 leaflets with the text of the letter, and a representative of the signatories of the letter personally handed it to Metropolitan Iustinos. A copy of the letter was also sent to Metropolitan Theoklitos of Florina.
In the letter, the faithful express “the deepest grief and pain for the new great schism in Orthodoxy in the last 1,000 years.” In their opinion, “Patriarch Bartholomew, serving the geopolitical interests of America, committed an unheard-of action, providing ‘autocephaly’ to the non-ordained, anathematized, self-proclaimed schismatics of Ukraine!”
The signatories state that Pat. Bartholomew had no canonical jurisdiction in Ukraine and had no right to restore the schismatics who broke from a different Local Church. Moreover, “the schismatics have never regretted or repented!” they write.
The Greek Church’s recognition of the schismatics was preceded by visits from the U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt to Abp. Ieronymos and Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), “whose rhetoric influenced the entire hierarchy”, the faithful recall.
They also charge that the Synodal Committees were made up of bishops who were already sympathetic to ecumenism and the schismatics.
The faithful also call attention to the fact of the persecution against the canonical Ukrainian Church by the state authorities and the schismatics, which those who recognize the schismatics simply ignore. The hierarchs of the Greek Church who support the schismatics have thus joined the side of the persecutors, they write. What they have done is equivalent to if the Church of Greece were done away with and the Old Calendarists recognized.
The faithful also wonder if it ever occurred to the hierarchs that were adding fuel to the fire in Ukraine, where the schismatics are already so hostile to the true Orthodox believers.
The authors believe that the laity have a right to know about what is happening in the Church of Greece and what decisions the hierarchs make, because “you have to understand that the Church is not just you, the bishops. The Church is the Body of Christ, the clergy and the people. And you have no right to keep members of the Church in the dark, especially in such serious matters”.
The hierarchs who support the OCU are “moral criminals” and are “perpetrators of a colossal split” in the whole of Orthodoxy, the letter states.
“Are you not afraid of God, Your Eminence?” they ask. “Don’t you care what answer you will give tomorrow at the Last Judgment of Christ? Doesn’t that frighten you? Do you remember the words of St. John Chrysostom that the sin of schism is not washed away even by martyr’s blood?”
By having communion with those outside the Church, you “also put yourself out of communion,” the faithful remind their hierarch. “And if you want to follow the Patriarch to the edge of the spiritual abyss, then where is the fault of the ordinary believers whom you drag along with you?”
The authors of the letter are certain that the Church of Greece and the entire Church is in serious danger. The Local Churches who have not recognized the schismatics must meet in a pan-Orthodox council “to solve this very serious problem and it is possible that the Greek Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate will be condemned as schismatics!”
If that happens, the people write, “it will have terrible consequences: The sacraments will become invalid, people will not be able to marry, nor be baptized, nor even repent!”
“Have you thought of them all?” the laity finish their letter.
As the UOJ wrote earlier, Protopresbyter John Diotis, a well-known Greek priest, requested that Abp. Ieronymos should appeal to Patriarch Bartholomew to publish the relevant documents on the recognition of the OCU.