Friday, May 28, 2010

Met. Athanasios of Lemesou (Cyprus) Speaks Out of Upcoming Visit of Pope to Cyprus

From here.

Met. Athanasios of Lemesou (Cyprus) Speaks Out of Upcoming Visit of Pope to Cyprus

In an interview published today, May 23, 2010 in the Cypriot Newspaper "Phileleftheros" the Metropolitan distances himself from the Archbishop's decision to host the Pope in Cyprus.

The following are excerpts from the interview:

"For us Orthodox, the Pope is a heretic, outside of the Church, and, hence, not even a bishop".

"He [the Pope] has been outside of the Church for ten centuries now, he is not a canonical bishop, he has no relation whatsoever to the reality of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ. It is one thing to receive him as a canonical bishop and quite another to speak to him as [being] a heterodox in order to reveal to him the truth of the Orthodox Faith and Tradition."

"Dialogue is not a bad thing when it is carried out based on correct presuppositions. However, it is wrong to say to these people that we recognize them as a Church, that we recognize the Pope as a Bishop, as our brother in Christ in the priesthood and in [the] faith. I cannot accept this, because we are lying [when we say this], since all of the Holy Fathers teach exactly the opposite. Papism is a heresy and the source of many other heresies which trouble the entire world today. A contemporary Saint of the Church, Saint Justin Popovich, said that in the history of the human race there have been three tragic falls: of the first-formed Adam, of the disciple of Christ, Judas, and of the Pope, who, when he was the first Bishop of the Church, fell from the apostolic faith, was cut off from the canonical Church and lured away a host of people with him until today."

"God is one and the Church of God is one, and that is why we say in the Symbol of Faith [that we believe] "in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church." This is the Orthodox Church, there do not exist many Churches."

"When I say to the other that it doesn't matter that you are catholic and that we all belong to the same Church, I am playing with him [or mocking him] since all of the Holy Fathers teach that the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ is one."

"The Orthodox Church preserves the faith of the Apostles and the experience of the prophets unshakeable up until our own days. The Papists, unfortunately, from the time when they were cut off from the Church added many heretics dogmas to their [confession of] faith, changed the Symbol of Faith [the Nicene Creed] and above all elevated the Pope to the level of being the eminent and unique representative of God on earth."

"When you add things to the Symbol of Faith that the Holy Fathers did not write, and many other false teachings, this is heresy. This is the reality of things."

Question : How does the Orthodox Church encounter/deal with heretics?

"With much love. We love the Pope, we love the papists just as we love every person; we do not despise them, we do not reject them as persons, but we do not accept [their] heresy, we do not accept the false teachings, we do not accept [their] delusions. Because we love them we must tell them the truth."

Question: Do you think that the Dialogue can produce results?

"It can, if it is done properly and based on the right presuppositions. Unfortunately, as it is carried out today, it does not produce results, and that is why they have carried on discussions for so many years without coming to any conclusions."

"Frankly and before all I disagree with the coming of the Pope to Cyprus and I say with my whole soul that the Pope is a heretic, he is not a bishop, he is not an Orthodox Christian and this is what the Holy Fathers say. If I am wrong, I am ready to be corrected, but on the basis of the Holy Fathers, not based on the mindset of globalization. Just because I disagree does not mean that I am being disorderly and am outside the Church [as some have claimed]."

"The Pope always speaks in a formal manner, says things which are customary [to his position], as he will say now that he will come to Cyprus, but he will do nothing of essence, because he is not the leader of the Church but a political person who cannot come into conflict with the political establishment and system. Did the Pope every speak up for the Orthodox Church?...But I am not returning back [to the distant past]. The reasons I am reacting today are purely theological. When I was consecrated a bishop I pledged to preserve the Orthodox Faith."

Question: The Pope said that he wants to make a pilgrimage following the steps of the Apostle Paul.

"With the exception that the Apostle Paul didn't travel using a bulletproof car which cost 500,000 euros, which, I read, the Cypriot government has bought for the Pope to travel around Cyprus for the two days he will be here. I was personally quite scandalized by this news and said that a bulletproof car does not fit the Vicar of Christ. For the people to have to pay such a price in the midst of an economic crisis..."

Question : The announcement from the representatives of the Pope says that he is coming to Cyprus in order to promote human and Christian values and principles, and that he wants to walk in the steps of the Apostle Paul and in a spirit of the brotherhood meet the Orthodox Church with a good disposition.

"I do not doubt his good will - may it be that this is the case. May it be that he resembles the Apostle Paul and that he encounters the riches of the Orthodox Church. We pray that he return to the Orthodox Church and becomes once again an Orthodox Bishop as he was before the schism. This alone is the proper path to unity."

Question : What do you think is the hidden agenda?

"The Vatican does not take steps thoughtlessly nor naively. Every tour of each Pope has as its aim to present him as the worldwide leader of Christianity. At this point, however, he is neither a canonical Bishop, nor Orthodox, such that he is in no place to present himself as having the first place among bishops."

Question: Are there hidden political interests at stake here?

"I don't know; I think that we [the Cypriot people] have nothing to gain politically from the visit of the Pope - only a lot of expenses and great upheavel in the consciences of the faithful."

Question: The Archbishop said that all those who disagree will place themselves outside the Church.
"I am not aware of the Archbishop's statements, but I don't think that whoever disagrees with the coming of the Pope places himself outside the Church. I disagree and I say it boldly and frankly and I am not outside the Church."


VSO said...

My Catholic buddies and employers will NOT like seeing that, but may set them free. Now if all the other Orthodox bishops could follow suit.

I'm not too opposed to a visit, but yeah there has to be presuppositions otherwise it's just the same old song and dance.

Sophocles said...

I'm not opposed to a visit either, but the Metropolitan is right on the money under what terms a visit should be received.

As an aside, if you have ever read Mountain of Silence, the Metropolitan speaking out is the "Father Maximus" of this book.

becket said...

I think what most dissenters on both sides don't realize is that it is going to take both the RCC and the Orthodox Churches to combat secularization in the West and the rise of Islam in the West. Remember Orthoodoxy also exists in the West and not just the Mediterranean region. These Cyprus clerics and laity need to realize that this is NOT a visit to covert Christians to one church or the other, but to show an alliance of sorts to battle the evils in the world today. Neither Church can do it alone. So name calling is not going to solve the problems of atheism and modernism. We need to look at the future and stop living in the past for now. Iraq may very well be Christianless in the near future, and who are we going to blame. Both sides will take the blame.

Sophocles said...


To a point I agree with you.

I myself don't buy into the whole "alliance to battle secularism" scenario that seems to be popular these days when speaking on the relations between the Orthodox Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The issues are so nuanced and complex and buried beneath the modern disposition that cannot countenance, well, just not agreeing.

So when a clear voice sounds off, in this case the Metropolitan's, and reminds the Orthodox(who his address is specifically intended for), of the reality of what our Church is versus what it is not and especially towards the Roman Church which claims the title of Church in place of the witness of the rightful Church, the Orthodox Church, then I think him justified in what he is saying.

Somehow I don't think he has bought into the whole "alliance to battle secularism" scenario either. The Orthodoxy that men such as he are in orbit in and around is of a character and nature that defies conventional explanations and not only this, NEVER is comfortable being placed in any political schema. He is in the Kingdom of Christ and as such, his words are those of a madman to those who don't listen to him as they ought.

Joseph Hostetler said...

Some may see no reason for the Metropolitan's intervention, but, then again, they probably don't live in Greece or Cyprus where, with every passing year, more and more such "ecumenical overtures" take place. The problem with this whole shift in approach is that implicitly and openly ecumenist-minded hierarchs are accepting the Pope as a bishop, his church as a part of the One Church, and their mysteries as the Mysteries of the Church. In other words, we are seeing the spread of an ecclesiological heresy. Met. Athanasius says clearly that this is the problem with the Pope's visit - not that he is coming, but under what presuppositions and with what kind of reception by the Church of Cyprus. The fact is that the Archbishop of Cyprus and other hierarchs with him, following the lead of Patriarch Bartholomew, have trampled upon the witness of the Saints in this regard. And there are real, concrete consquences to this stance. Ordinary Roman Catholics, instead of acquiring a "good uneasiness" (Elder Paisios' phrase) and feeling that they are missing something and that something is found in Orthodoxy, are reassured of their churchliness and even orthodoxy and feel that there is no problem at all with the Papacy and its heresies. When Orthodox hierarchs help bring this about, it requires the kind of stance that Met. Athanasius has taken.

Sophocles said...


Well said.

Constantine said...

How is the Pope going to lead the anti-secularization movement? The existence of a Pope is the cause of secularization in the west. The departure from the correct belief and worship of God results in secularization. God is not a schizophrenic. He does not need 2 Churches or 3 or 1000. He has maintained His Church from the beginning and and the gates of hell have still not conquered it. So if you want to see true power, look how God maintains His Church amid all the strife and currents of the ages. And as proof, even to this day the Orthodox Church is an eternal witness of the Truths revealed to humanity. Now, if anyone would like to make themselves an enemy of God by opposing His Church, they can do so at their peril. (remember Korah's rebellion). I don't play with the Truths that the Lord has revealed to me, I submit myself to them and look at my own unworthiness to even know His most Holy Name.

May our Lord illumine us and protect us from our own foolishness.



Sophocles said...


I couldn't have said it better myself.

mike said...

could someone explain how constantine's comment squares with the soviet union and communism? secularization and millions ... and millions ... and millions ... and millions dead from an orthodox country.

i am not accusing the orthodox church of secularizing or murdering eastern europe, but i am employing constantine's logic and following it to its absurd conclusion.

Sophocles said...


That is a long answer and one I will not attempt with this reply.

Involved with the attempt to (fully)answer you would be our understanding of the Gospel-what do we both believe this is?

Tied into this is what do we believe to be the nature of "Reality", existence, etc.?

And then, among many other things, is eschatology-what can be inferred by the destruction of the Imperial Russian State via the Bolsheviks?

However, I think it pertinent to bring to your attention that Marxism/communism is a Western ideology and not a homegrown Russian or Orthodox one.

Perhaps Constantine himself will more fully answer you in regards to what exactly he means with his comment.

Constantine said...

Mike. What does the Church have to do with communism and the millions and millions dead? And look, even after communism and the very strong effort by those enemies of the Church, with all the modern technology and full control of Russia for several decades, God's Church is still there.



Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post.

I would like to correct Mr. Becket: Islam is not our
enemy. Zionist banker criminals and their Israel-
Mossad-American Zionist Christian puppets are the
evil we ought fear. They are out for global control
and will stop at nothing to kill the Orthodoxy. None
of the major "terrorist" crimes committed against the USA
during past the 50 years originated in Islam, but
in the wicked halls of Zionist thinktanks and intelligence
offices, which use false flags to encourage hatred and
retribution against the
Muslim world. May God bless and protect us from
the evil they foment.