Metropolitan Theodore: Apostasy is a result of disrespect to Church canons

03 December 2019 20:57
Metropolitan Theodore (Gayun) of Kamenets-Podolsky and Gorodok. Photo: YouTube Metropolitan Theodore (Gayun) of Kamenets-Podolsky and Gorodok. Photo: YouTube

Met. Theodore of Kamenets-Podolsky believes that recognition of the OCU by Phanar is a retreat caused by “minor” violations of the teaching and tradition of the Church.

Metropolitan Theodore (Gayun) of Kamenets-Podolsky and Gorodok of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church believes that the recognition of the OCU by some Orthodox Churches is the result of neglecting the canons of the Church, the website of the Kamenets-Podolsky Eparchy reports.

In particular, the article of Metropolitan Theodore says that "today the whole Orthodox world is actually on the verge of a new big split, the scale of which can only be compared with the split of 1054, as a result of which the Roman Church fell away from Ecumenical Orthodoxy."

The Metropolitan is sure that “this condition is caused by the Patriarchate of Constantinople having recognized the united breakaway group – the so-called OCU – as canonical.”

According to him, "this recognition shocked Orthodox Christians, who until this time were not able to understand how Phanar could not only violate a number of church canons, but also go against its own decisions made earlier regarding the anathema of Filaret Denisenko and the structure headed by him."

He emphasized that "the problem of the split is aggravated by the fact that the Ukrainian dissenters were recognized not only by the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople but also by the heads of the Greek and Alexandrian Churches."

The hierarch recalled that “until recently, Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria urged Ukrainians to be loyal to the only canonical Church in Ukraine, whereas the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece assured there was no other canonical metropolitan of Ukraine except for the Primate of the UOC, Metropolitan Onuphry.”

He believes that in order to find the answer to the question of how such a thing could have happened, it is necessary to “pay special attention to the peculiar attitude of Phanariots to the canons and the Holy Tradition of the Church of Christ,” because it was precisely what “led them not only to the recognition of the OCU but also to the distortion of the doctrine of the Church (ecclesiology).”

The hierarch points out that "plans have been hatched by Phanar regarding the need for the Eucharistic and prayerful communion with the Roman Catholic Church." In turn, according to him, "the popes never abandoned the idea of subordinating the Orthodox Christians, whom they considered schismatics, to their power."

He emphasizes that "from history we know that the Orthodox initiators of the unification with Catholicism too often violated the holy canons and the teachings of the Church to achieve their earthly goals."

A case in point cited by Metropolitan Theodore is the attempts to unite Orthodox Christians with Catholics during the Union of Lyons and Florence. In addition, he recalled the story of the burning by the Crusader Catholics of the monks of the Zograf Monastery on Mount Athos in 1278.

He emphasized that "the Union of Florence, according to its organizers, was supposed to solve state problems through the merger of the Orthodox with Catholics under the leadership of the pope and to the detriment of Orthodoxy. However, the initiators of the union did not take into account the devotion of the believing people to Orthodoxy, whose role was noted later in the Epistle of the Eastern Patriarchs."

That’s why, according to His Eminence, “it can be argued that the Lyons, Florentines and all other unions, which primarily solved political problems arising from external principles of unity rather than canonical rules of the Orthodox Church, failed to solve the problem of schism.” “In the end, this unification resulted in the wrath of God, which led to terrible trials and the fall of the Orthodox Byzantine Empire."

Metropolitan Theodore points out that “since the end of the 19th century, the representatives of Rome and Phanar, again in purely earthly, geopolitical interests, have been trying to find new ways of unity through the introduction of a number of reforms.” However, in his opinion, "these reforms violate the traditional order of church Orthodox piety and, finally, affect perseverance in the faith."

He reminds Orthodox Christians that “the activities of the Patriarchs of Constantinople Meletius and Athenagoras, as well as their modern followers, are closely connected with the activities aimed at church reforms having adverse implications.”

As an example of such negative reforms, Vladyka cites the calendar reform of Patriarch Meletius (Metaxakis) of Constantinople, which was supposed to help the Orthodox Church “unite” with Catholics and Protestants, as well as a number of other reforms, including permission for a second marriage for priests and possibility of cancelling fasts.

Nevertheless, as Metropolitan Theodore emphasized, “the Orthodox people rejected these reforms,” and the calendar reform “was not unanimously adopted even within the Greek Church, which eventuated the split that continues to exist today.”

The Metropolitan recalled that at the pan-Orthodox meeting of 1948, the heads and representatives of almost all the Local Orthodox Churches decided to opt out of the "ecumenical movement."

Metropolitan Theodore also referred to the position of the well-known participant in this meeting, St. Seraphim (Sobolev), who believed that the "organizers of the ‘ecumenical dialogue’ do not seek the dogmatic unity of all the so-called Christian Churches with the Orthodox Churches, but rather a mixture of both through the retreat of Christians from their faith ... This mayhem is tantamount to the destruction of Orthodoxy.”

At the same time, Vladyka points out that "the problems, which were discussed at the Pan-Orthodox Conference of 1948 and which concerned the desire to reform the Church and get closer to the heterodox, continue to exist."

The Metropolitan of the UOC draws special attention to the joint prayers of some Orthodox hierarchs with representatives of Catholic or Protestant "churches," "despite the fact that the canons of the Church explicitly prohibit communal prayer with heretics and schismatics." For example, Vladyka says, “Recently Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople performed a joint “divine service” with Catholics in the French monastery of Chevetogne.”

That is why, “answering the question how it happened so that the Primates of the Churches of Constantinople, Greece and Alexandria agreed to have communion with the defrocked and anathematized members of Ukrainian schismatic groups with such ease and contrary to church canons, we are compelled to state with regret – this significant backsliding from the Church was brought about by “minor” violations of the Orthodox Tradition and Teachings of our Church.”

Met. Theodore notes that “the presence of high dignity does not guarantee accuracy of the decisions taken that relate to the dogmatic-canonical and spiritual life of the Church of Christ, if these decisions do not comply with the decrees of the Councils and the teachings of the Holy Fathers.”

He recalls that “everything in the life of the Church deserves attention and respect”, because “only respect and loyalty to the holy canons, which are the walls of the Church, create spiritual security and the necessary conditions for the salvation of believers.”

Metropolitan Theodore draws attention to the fact that “history has repeatedly shown us that appealing to the powers that be using political arguments and external leverage to achieve church unity does not lead to anything good. Unity in Christ is only possible when it is based on the evangelic doctrine.”

Vladyka is sure that “overcoming difficulties and trials, it is important to always remember that Orthodox Christians only have a strong position when they stand in Truth according to the words of the Apostle Paul: 'For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth' (2 Cor. 13: 8)".

This means, he says, "that the victory of Orthodoxy is given to the faithful not when Truth becomes the subject of compromise, but when Truth becomes the essence of our faith and life."

We remind you that earlier the UOJ wrote that, according to the UOC Chancellor, Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich), believers should keep their hearts from the spirit of hatred and condemnation, because both ordinary people and patriarchs fall before the sin.

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