Do we really agree to "St. Bartholomew's Night"?
If now, following the canons, the bishops don't depose Pat. Bartholomew, infringing on the catholicity of the Church, tomorrow he himself will judge and depose them.
As the human body lives according to biological laws, so the Body of Christ — His Church — lives and acts according to the laws established by the Holy Spirit in the canonical norms of the Apostolic and Conciliar Canons.
Today, due to the events in Ukraine, a single church organism is wounded by an attempt to ignore and reorganize these laws, which is resulted in a serious rapidly developing threat of a large-scale schism.
Objectively, the reasons for the formation of a schism are both in action and inaction:
1. in a deliberate violation by of a number of canonical regulations of the Orthodox Church (see below);
2. in inaction expressed in the reaction of the rest of bishops to the undermining of the principles of the catholicity of the Church of Christ and to other iniquities, categorically introduced in the world Orthodoxy by Patriarch Bartholomew.
It should be noted that in the context of the Sacred Tradition of the Church and the Phanar’s actions, the inaction of the bishops of the Local Churches in bringing him to canonical justice is an equally grave deviation from the purity of the Orthodox religion.
Unfortunately, for many years Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has established himself more and more deeply in his apostasy from Orthodoxy, in falling away from the Church of Christ, defiantly violating the Canons of Apostles, in particular:
- Canon 11: prays in company of schismatics and heretics;
- Canon 45: allows excommunicants to perform any service in church as clergymen;
- Canon 46: accepts the baptism of anathematized Ukrainian schismatics;
- Canon 47: does not distinguish priests from pseudo-priests;
- Canon 65: prays with Jews and heretics;
- Canon 2 of the II Ecumenical Council, prohibiting bishops to “go beyond” dioceses to churches lying outside of their bounds;
- Canon 3 of the II Ecumenical Council: attempts to turn the prerogative of honour (lost more than 500 years ago after the fall of Constantinople) into the prerogative of power (authority) over all Local Churches;
- Canon 5 of the III Ecumenical Council: attempts to restore in communion with the Church the schismatics of the UAOC and the UOC-KP who have not repented.
The public words and deeds of Patriarch Bartholomew testify long ago: he forms and introduces a completely different belief from Orthodoxy, trying to subordinate to it all the Local Orthodox Churches.
In particular, the actions carried out by the Patriarch of Constantinople against the Church in Ukraine are vividly illustrated by the active implementation of these processes on the canonical territory of another Local Church, aimed at accepting schismatics of the UOC-KP and UAOC into the bosom of the Orthodox Church.
Such actions were condemned by the Fathers of the Orthodox Councils, and therefore even now can and should be qualified as a crime against the Church of Christ since it has been established:
- «Let no Bishop dare to go over from one province into another and ordain any persons in church to promotion of the liturgy, even though he take others along with him, unless, having been asked to do so" (Canon 13 of the Antiochian Council);
- "Let Bishops not go beyond their province to carry out an ordination or any other ecclesiastical services unless (officially) summoned thither" (Canon 2 of the II Ecumenical Council).
Intruding into the canonical territory of another Local Church, Patriarch Bartholomew sets as a rule another glaring lawlessness — an attempt to bring, without any repentance, into the bosom of the Church of Christ, schismatics who are anathematized whereas, according to the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils, it is repentance that is the main indispensable and imperative condition for the restoration of those in communion with the One Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Such actions are anti-church by nature, and, therefore, do not have canonical power. This is stated in the following church ordinances:
- “As for all those [members of the UOC-KP and the UAOC] who have been condemned by the holy Council, or by their own Bishops, for improper acts [schism, etc.], and to whom Nestorius [and Patriarch Bartholomew] and those sharing his views and beliefs have sought, or should seek, to give back communion or rank, uncanonically and in accordance with the indifference shown by Nestorius in all matters, we have deemed it right and just that they too remain without benefit and that they be left nevertheless deposed from office” (Canon 5 of the III Ecumenical Council);
- "For those who have been baptized or ordained by such persons [heretics and anathematized cannot possibly be either faithful Christians or clergymen” (Apostolic Canon 68).
It should also be borne in mind that while the bishops of the other Local Churches show a kind of “tolerance” to such actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople, the latter continues to claim for himself “papal” status and ambitions, violating the principle of the catholicity of the Church of Christ. He speaks openly about his heretical anti-Christian intentions: “Our Slavic brothers, whether they want it or not, will have to obey our decisions,” thus fundamentally rejecting Christ’s commandment: “but whoever wants to be great between you, be your servant; and whoever wants to be first among you, let him be your slave” (Matt 20, 26-27). He also rejects Apostolic Canon 34: "Let not even such a one [patriarch] do anything without the advice and consent and approval of all."
The Apostle Paul characterizes such people in such a way: "If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words…" (1 Tim 6, 3-4).
It is quite obvious that there is an urgent need for critical theological reflection (in the light of the Holy Scriptures and the canons of the Church) of the general church situation created by the lawless actions of Patriarch Bartholomew.
Patriarch of Constantinople cannot have powers and prerogatives of general church force
Nevertheless, justifying its actions in Ukraine, Constantinople appeals to the canons approved by the Holy Fathers of the II and IV Ecumenical Councils, whose norms have long since lost their relevance. Namely: according to the 3rd Canon of the II Ecumenical Council, "The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honour after the Bishop of Rome; because Constantinople is New Rome".
The Holy Fathers of the II Ecumenical Council determined the foundation that gave the Bishop of Constantinople a certain "prerogative of honour". This basis was that "Constantinople is New Rome".
Earlier, only Rome, which until the time of the division of the Roman Empire was practically the capital of the world, was given such an honour But even the authority of the Roman Archbishop did not have general church force, since the legitimacy of their actions was limited to clearly defined geographical regions that were not part of the canonical territory of other Local Churches.
After the division of the Roman Empire, a certain "prerogative of honour" was delegated to the Archbishop of Constantinople for the same administrative and territorial reasons, which was further detailed in Canon 28 of the IV Ecumenical Council (which the Phanar now refers to, claiming “privileges and priorities of the most holy Church of that same Constantinople”).
For many years Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has established himself more and more deeply in his apostasy from Orthodoxy.
However, the same canon clearly regulates not only the geographical boundaries within which the “privileges” of the powers of Constantinople have canonical force, but also the very basis, referring to which the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils gave the Constantinople Church a little more enhanced “privileges”, namely: “the Fathers naturally enough granted the priorities to the throne of Old Rome on account of her being the imperial capital.”
Since at that time Constantinople became the imperial city in the eastern part of the former Roman Empire, the same privileges were delegated to the city of such a scale as Rome – enhanced powers, which extended only within the geographic regions clearly defined by the same canon:
“And it is arranged so that only the Metropolitans of the Pontic, Asian, and Thracian dioceses shall be ordained by the most holy throne of the most holy Church of Constantinople aforesaid” (Canon 28 of the IV Ecumenical Council).
At the same time, this canon clearly defines the grounds (canonical prerequisites), in the presence of which the Patriarchate of Constantinople can claim the aforementioned “prerogative of honour”: the holy throne can be somewhat enhanced in church affairs only if it is located in the “city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate” and only in relation to the Pontic, Asian, and Thracian dioceses.
Since the Phanar doesn’t have any other canonical arguments for claiming the “prerogative of honour”, a close examination of the same canons says that in no time there were canons that endowed the Patriarch of Constantinople with exclusive prerogatives and powers that had general church force — that is, making him superior to other primates of the Local Churches or giving him the legal right to act on a foreign canonical territory.
Moreover, since in the modern world there is neither the Roman Empire nor Constantinople (in their former significance for the world), this means that there are neither objective nor canonical prerequisites for applying the provisions of Canon 28 of the IV Ecumenical Council. These norms have completely exhausted their relevance more than 500 years ago.
Nevertheless, today, many people who did not consider the situation through the prism of the canonical institutions of the Church are ready to follow the Patriarchate of Constantinople, believing in the legitimacy of the actions of its patriarch as the “rightful owner” of authority in the church-wide scale.
Complicity in the destruction of the Church
Of course, heresies and iniquities, asserted by a deceived person or group of individuals, are dangerous, but it is no less dangerous that the archpastors who gave the Bishop's oath to observe the purity of the Orthodox faith, allow these people to act on behalf of the Truth and tempt the flock, for whom Christ died, to evade the path of salvation.
But the Canon 13 of the Antiochian Council obliges the archpastors to timely suppress such actions:
“Let no Bishop dare to go over from one province into another … to meddle in the status quo of ecclesiastical affairs that do not concern him, all things whatsoever that he may do shall be null and void and invalid; and he himself shall incur a suitable sentence for his irregularity and his unreasonable proceeding, having been already deposed hence by the holy Council.”
- any prideful, ambitious actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople, claiming to assert their superiority in honour, not to mention the authority over other Primates of the Local Churches, are anti-canonical and invalid;
- for “his irregularity and his unreasonable proceeding”, such a patriarch should be deposed from office. The obligation for such a deposition is entrusted to the Holy Council of the Primates of the other Local Churches.
Thus, to be consistent, in this situation, the inaction of the bishops and Primates of the Local Churches is no less gross violation of the canons of the Orthodox Church rather than violations committed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Moreover, in its essence such inaction is the passive assistance to the heretical, lawless deeds of Patriarch Bartholomew. Do we think about the consequences?
After all, it is obvious that the pride and lawlessness of such an “Orthodox Ecumenical Primate” tempt both believers and non-believers – the entire world community. Respect for the Orthodox Church, as to such that has lost the ability to self-purification and self-preservation, catastrophically falls every day.
If you do not neglect the existing church experience of previous centuries, you should pay attention to the following precedents and their consequences for the Church of Christ:
- The heretic Nestorius, like Patriarch Bartholomew today, was the Patriarch of Constantinople. If the Fathers of the time of the III Ecumenical Council held to the position of oikonomia, which many bishops now adhere to, we would all inherit the fate of the damned Nestorians. This did not happen only because in the 5th century the Fathers were zealously faithful to Christ and zealously followed His commandments.
Unfortunately, in later centuries, more and more often they accepted as a standard a different practice, to which bishops of our time are more inclined:
- Patriarch Meletios IV of Constantinople, (who, as is now reliably known, was a mason) introduced the "new style" in 1923. The bishops of that troubled time did not condemn his anticanonical actions and did not bring him to canonical justice. As a result, a “new style” schism was introduced into the life of the Universal Orthodox Church;
- The follower of Meletios IV in the fight against the purity of Orthodoxy, Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, having violated the 34th and other canons, attempted to abolish the 1054 anathema with his unilateral authority. The bishops again remained silent, without revealing and condemning his unlawful actions. As a result, such silence was the beginning of anticanonical fraternization with Catholics. We can observe the rapid development of this process today.
Even today, in church circles, there is a widespread opinion that the current situation should be treated extremely diplomatically, and therefore no decisive and radical measures should be taken – in other words, it is proposed to act according to the principle of oikonomia rather than acribeia.
However, it is already quite obvious that today oikonomia did not bring the expected results – the situation in world Orthodoxy is rapidly getting complicated. So, the position of oikonomia is transformed into passive assistance to lawlessness directed against the Church of Christ. This situation can be improved only by applying the principle of acribeia.
The path of apostasy through inaction
Patriarch Bartholomew not only preaches the heresy of ecumenism but continues to implant it by all means. He openly enters into liturgical communion with Catholics, co-celebrating with the Pope of Rome. In response, silence ...
Patriarch Bartholomew preaches and introduces the heresy of papism into Orthodoxy. In response, silence again ...
Patriarch Bartholomew preaches and introduces the heresy of ethnophyletism, in particular, stating: "Our brothers Slavs cannot tolerate the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our nation in Orthodoxy." We are silent ...
The question arises – for what kind of crime today the Primates of the Local Churches will dare to condemn and depose from office the man who is called the patriarch but whose actions obviously testify of him as an apostate and a heretic?
It is rather strange that in the current situation, the hierarchs of the other Local Churches maintain the official stance that there are no other methods of expressing disagreement with the anti-canonical actions of Patriarch Bartholomew and his followers, except for suspending the Eucharistic communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople. For the rest, it is supposed to be tolerant and humble, being like the meek and humble Christ, who “when they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges” (1 Peter 2, 23).
Since in the modern world there is neither the Roman Empire nor Constantinople (in their former significance for the world), this means that there are neither objective nor canonical prerequisites for applying the provisions of the Canon 28 of the IV Ecumenical Council.
However, do we follow the correct course of action left to us by the Savior in this situation? When reasoning about copying Christ, the following should be considered:
1) The Lord revealed to us an image of humility before slander addressed personally to Him as a Man, but do not forget His reaction to the iniquities of the bishops: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! ... You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Matt 23, 13; 14; 15; 23; 25; 27; 29; 33) He denounced the false teachers.
Did Christ, by condemning them, ceased to be meek and humble?
He remained as such when “in the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So, he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (see John 2, 13-16).
2) The Apostle Paul believed that he was “the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle,” (1 Cor. 15, 9) but firmly stood for the purity of the Church of Christ. And since the Holy Spirit said: “But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning” (1 Tim. 5:20), he always did that.
And when Peter, the first of the apostles, was led astray joined other Jews in hypocrisy, Paul, seeing that "they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, ... said unto Peter before them all" (Gal 2, 13-14) He shamed him not in private but before all so that the gospel truth might be preserved.
And for such a zealous standing for the purity of the Church and the doctrine of Christ, he is revered as the first apostle — the first imitator of Christ, who retained in his virtuous zeal both meekness and humility.
The following words are addressed to us: “I urge you to imitate me just as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:16)?
The example of the struggle of the true imitator of Christ is given to us to follow: “some false believers had infiltrated our ranks … We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you” (Gal 2: 4-5)?
So, do we imitate Christ and the apostles when Patriarch Bartholomew is destroying the Church, its catholicity, drawing many souls to perdition, while we enjoy meekness and humility in our wicked man-pleasing inaction?
And if we are silent, isn't our silence a sign of agreement with his position and his actions? Although, perhaps, the basis for this silence is still man-pleasing? Then isn’t that position that the apostle Paul speaks of: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal 1, 10)?
Today's fearful silence about the deposition of Patriarch Bartholomew is nothing more than the result of taking the poison of tolerance, which in the language of the Holy Scripture is exposed as lukewarm, which St. Apostle John the Theologian warn us of: “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3, 16).
Do we wish to preserve the purity of the Orthodox religion?
So that the bishops and the people of God in their inaction will not be among the retreating (see 2 Thessalonians 2, 3), the commandments are left in the Holy Scripture for all times: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him” (Lev 19, 17), “Find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5, 10-11), “Are you not to judge those inside? … Expel the wicked person from among you.” (1Cor 5, 12- 13).
These commandments are left to each of us. And one cannot remain a Christian without fulfilling the Will of Christ revealed to us in the New Testament and the canons of our Orthodox Church.
Moreover, our delay is indeed tragic since if the iniquity of today is not stopped, the legalization of heretical and anti-canonical actions introduced by the Phanar as the norms of church life will finally infiltrate the consciousness of all: hierarchs, clergymen, monastics, and laity.
The Canons of the Ecumenical Councils left to us not only clearly define the rules for the actions of bishops and primates of the Local Churches but also determine the punishment for committing a number of inequities introduced by Patriarch Bartholomew now:
- "If anyone who is a clergyman pray in company with a deposed clergyman, he shall be deposed too" (Apostolic Canon 11);
- “We order any Bishop, or Presbyter, that has accepted any heretics’ Baptism, or sacrifice, to be deposed; for "what consonancy hath Christ with Beliart or what part hath the believer with an infidel?” (Apostolic Canon 46);
- “If a Bishop or Presbyter baptize anew anyone that has had a true baptism, of fail to baptize anyone that has been polluted by the impious [the UOC-KP, the UAOC], let him be deposed, on the ground that he is mocking the Cross and death of the Lord and railing to distinguish priests from pseudo-priests” (Apostolic Canon 47);
- "Let any Bishop … that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he has permitted them to perform any service as Clergymen, let him be deposed (sc. from office)” (Apostolic Canon 45).
On the deposition from office
With regard to the issue of deposition, special attention should be paid to Canon 5 of the IV Ecumenical Council: "As regards Bishops or Clergymen who go from city to city, it has seemed fitting that the Canons laid down by the Holy Fathers should remain in effect and be enforced." In the interpretation of this canon in the “Kormchaia Book” it is said that the bishop who “dare to go from one province to another” to impose his bishop’s rule “should be deposed from office by Holy Trinity”.
The procedural order of imposing a disciplinary sanction provided for by church canons, as mentioned above, was approved by the norms of Canon 13 of the Antiochian Council, according to which the Patriarch of Constantinople "shall incur a suitable sentence for his irregularity and his unreasonable proceeding, having been already deposed hence by the holy Council".
But since to date, the initiative of the conciliar discussion of the actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople at the level of the primates of other Local Churches has been rejected for obvious reasons by Patriarch Bartholomew, in accordance with the established procedure, the following measures should be taken:
- To convene the Council of Primates of the Local Churches;
- In the event of the absence of Patriarch Bartholomew at the Council, to bring him to trial in absentia in the manner provided for in such a case by the rules of the holy canons: “When a Bishop has been accused of something by trustworthy men, he must be summoned by Bishops; … But if when summoned he refuses to obey, let him be summoned a second time by sending two Bishops to him. If even then he refuses to obey, let him be summoned a third time, two Bishops again being sent to him; but if even then he shows contempt and fails to answer, let the synod decide the matter against him in whatever way seems best, so that it may not seem that he is getting the benefit by evading a trial.”( Apostolic Canon 74). Moreover, according to Canon 28 of the Council of Carthage, the bishop, who did not appear at the court, "should be tried as he pronounced the sentence against himself";
- If for some reason the process of the convocation of the Council is difficult, the procedural order proposed by Metropolitan Seraphim of Сythera, according to which each Local Church, having brought the Patriarch Bartholomew to trial in absentia, will deem his actions independently and announce its decision, would be very appropriate.
It is obvious that if today, following the canons of the Church of Christ, Orthodox bishops do not condemn and depose Patriarch Bartholomew, who violates the dogmatic principle of the catholicity of the Church of Christ, tomorrow he will condemn and depose Orthodox bishops who do not want to accept and obey the rules of heretical and papal politics.
Under our “meek and humble” silence, he has already appropriated to himself the right of such a dictate. It should be clear that if today he is not deposed from the throne of Constantinople, then tomorrow Patriarch Bartholomew will “legalize” the schisms existing in the Church and withdraw the autocephaly of those Orthodox Local Churches who will not agree with him in everything. After all, if today he withdraws a document of three hundred years ago, then tomorrow he will also withdraw those Tomoses that his predecessors gave to the Local Churches.
I would also like to mention the words of His Holiness Patriarch Ilia II, publicly addressed to the Pope during the latter’s visit to Georgia: “Unity can only be based on Truth. Until the unity of opinion in Truth is reached, any unity is out of the question.”
Then one of the commentators noted: "For many years, this is the only case when the Orthodox patriarch exposed the Pope in the face, directly indicating to him that Catholicism had retreated and lost Truth."
Considering today's problem, this thought can be formulated as follows: unity with the Phanar can only be in the case of true observance and fulfillment of the commandments of Christ and the canons of the Church. Until then, any unity is out of the question.
Until then, in accordance with the canons of the Orthodox Church, heretics should be brought to justice and deposed from office, as derogating from Truth, as trying to ruin the dogma of catholicity of the Orthodox Church.
Each member of the Church of Christ knows the words of the Savior: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault ... if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18, 15-17).
Let us call them to repentance so that both ours and their souls are saved. Grant, Lord, repentance to all of us before the end!