Thursday, November 26, 2009

Confronting Ecumenism

From here.

I found your article titled: "The first great step for the coexistence with the heretics", very disturbing. As Orthodox Christian who lives in the country where this "agreement" has been signed by a priest, I am a bit confused as to how to react to it. It truly bothers me! What can I do? I beg you. Can you tell me what this agreement means in the context of the Church specifically, and to the Orthodox Church in general. I have found that the agreement was realized by a responsible priest in Germany, but not by the Patriarch or some higher ecclesiastical authority. One more query, the document, the so called Document of Lima has been signed and authorized by all the Churches. Please help me.

With friendly greetings,

Dear Mrs .......,

"Greetings in the Lord!"

We praise the Lord that in every corner of the earth there are pious people who do not suffer from the grievous affliction of indifference. A contagious contemporary disease that is widespread, resulting into spiritual paralysis, interrupting as a consequence the Christian struggle and ending in spiritual death.

The proper Christian should be involved in "good restlessness" as Elder Paisios characteristically would say, becoming specifically and primarily interested by whatever concerns his Orthodox Faith. However this vigilance should at no time result in the loss of inner peace and going overboard with unjustifiable stress. And we underline this because the boundaries are very fine and the dangers of losing the correct route extremely serious. What you describe in your letter are topics that cause us stress and many times anger, since they concern movements clearly anti-orthodox and anti-ecclesiastical. Without of course this meaning that we bear empathy towards somebody- whatever he may believe in- or that we oppose healthy dialogues. In contrast we accept with great love whoever has the good intention to seek the Truth.

Please note the said article is signed by a single cleric. We do not consider of special importance, if some Christian agreement was signed by one cleric, who apparently represents higher office, or some higher ecclesiastical authority etc. What is important and worthy for the Church is whether such a decision derives from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, in step with Orthodox Tradition of our Apostles and Holy Fathers.

The above position many times is unjustifiably misunderstood, suggesting a falsely understood "obedience". It should be understood that at no time we should doubt the divinely taught Ecclesiastical officiating, without of course forgetting that the leaders of the church are humans. Thus the ecclesiastical history teems with cleric examples (even of Patriarchal and Bishopric Synods) which have been liberated spiritually and finally brought out of the God-Man body of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. While, the heretical and false decisions were disposed off in the waste basket. This is the reason we preach: Do not be afraid, for the guide of the Church is the Holy Spirit. The Great Father St. Athanasius reassures us by confirming: "Upon this (the teaching and tradition of the Lord which was received by the Apostles and preserved by the Fathers) the Church is founded and whoever falls off it, could no further even be called a Christian" (letter to Serapion 1). And this applies to everyone, no matter how high hierarchal position he may hold.

According to everything mentioned, we wish to answer specifically the question about the agreement of Lima. We are not certain by whom it was signed. However we do not understand why you stop at this, since there are more recent ones which (God forbid) reach the boundaries of blaspheme. Your question that you express with justified apprehension, specifically how each one of us should react, we believe it is not possible to be replied with a detailed "prescription". It can be put though on the path of the Sacred Tradition of Holy Orthodoxy. She teaches us that without fail we owe it to be vigilant and guard our Faith unadulterated and dynamically react against anything and anybody that offends her. However every opposition should be characterized by special attention and discretion. For many were those who through exaggeration and with "not well informed" zeal they were driven to the opposite bank and dropped out of the Church. It is essential as well to study and research the teachings and life of the Saints and of the Godbearing Fathers. Even- and why not- by creating associations with clerics and laity of the Orthodox persuasion, for strengthening and support. Everything though- and we again stress- with care and discretion. Finally, we note the most important: to struggle and live according to God's commandments and not cease to pray with pain and love for everybody. Let us not forget that our hope and solution for everything is Christ, the Head of the Church. "We believe steadfastly that, as the Prophet said (Is 63:9) neither an elder, nor an Angel saved us but our Lord, (Decision of the 7th ecumenical Synod).

May God be with you! In Peace!
With blessings, Arch.Kyrill

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