“How long do we remain with the GOA?”… and 3 other questions answered
The following is a comment (Oct. 16, 2018) made to the post "FEAR ‘the Ecumenical’!"
Dear Father Emmanuel,
Father Bless! I recently came across your website and read your great article from a few years ago of “What to do when your Bishop is an Ecumenist”. That article greatly edified me - thank you!
Unfortunately, now the Russian Orthodox Church has broken communion with the Ecumenical Patriarch. We find ourselves in a precarious position here in the Greek Archdiocese of America. How long do we remain with the GOA as they openly support the Ecumenical Patriarch? Do we wait until a worldwide Orthodox Council is held and decision is rendered? I say this as clearly the Ecumenical Patriarch has broken the Canons of the Church and is in the wrong. Is he still Orthodox and are the Churches, Monasteries (Athos) and institutions under him still part of the Church?
As a member of the GOA I openly declare that I oppose him as EP and all who agree with him. I’m just confused as to what point we should leave the Church affiliated with him and seek another Orthodox jurisdiction? Thanks for all your articles! Please pray for me and my family.
Dear David – and I include you, Dear Basil,
It has barely been over a year since you posted your comment (Oct. 16, 2018). Much has happened this past year. I hope all is well with you, notwithstanding the problems you had addressed in your email.
God bless you for standing up for the faith. Your questions are the questions of all of us, Orthodox Christians. We all seek reliable answers and guidance.
I am of the opinion that what our bishops say and do has no direct effect on us, unless they preach a condemned heresy or are disciplined by a spiritual court. Then we must break communion with them. Until that happens their personal faith does not automatically become our faith, nor do they and their priests cease to have grace. I thought I had covered this subject in the very blog you have read.
But let’s address your specific questions:
1. How long do we remain with the GOA as they openly support the Ecumenical Patriarch?
The GOA is an eparchy of the EP (and so of course is Canada). Therefore, the regional synod will continue to follow the EP faithfully. Lay people will continue going to their churches, even if their bishop and priest are openly ecumenists. The sacraments are valid. They continue to be in communion with the Church. The guiding principle is that the commemoration of the bishop does not necessarily pollute the clergy and people under them, as long as they declare their faith openly. It’s a little harder for a priest to give an Orthodox confession, because there are consequences: suspension, removal from active duty, cutting of his income, defrockment, excommunication. The bishops possess all these weapons – and they use them, with the support, actually under the direction, of their superiors.
2. Do we wait until a worldwide Orthodox Council is held and decision is rendered?
This is a matter of conscience. We remain in communion until an Orthodox synod is convened and condemns ecumenism and those who follow it. If our conscience no longer allows us, we cease receiving communion in that church or stop going to that church. We then seek a church with an Orthodox bishop or priest, where the true faith is preached. If such church does not exist near where we live, we go less frequently to a church further away, and pray with your family, even with a group, at home.
3. Is he [i.e. the Ecumenical Patriarch] still Orthodox and are the Churches, Monasteries (Athos) and institutions under him still part of the Church?
Yes, based on the above principle. He, personally, and the bishops who openly or tacitly follow him (including the Holy Mountain, with few exceptions) will give an account for their actions. But until ecumenism and those who follow it is condemned we are not obligated to part from such Church, we are however required to “speak the truth in love” – even if we lose a few friends or, in extreme cases, we are excommunicated. Consider being excommunicated because of one’s Orthodox faith a blessing.
4. [At] what point should we leave the Church affiliated with him and seek another Orthodox jurisdiction?
As I said above, if it becomes a matter of conscience, leave your parish. The crucial question is, to go where? To my knowledge there is no Orthodox bishop in the Archdiocese who would tolerate an anti-ecumenist priest. Of the three that I know one has been suspended (that’s me) and the other two changed jurisdictions. The only autocephalous Churches whose bishops (as of this writing) are Orthodox are the Churches of Georgia and Bulgaria.
But, wait… There is another alternative. I’m speaking of your “old” jurisdiction here in America that has been a bastion of Orthodoxy, and still remains and will remain solid. Although it maintains ties with ecumenist Moscow, ROCOR is a ray of hope in a darkened sky. Thank God, their presence is everywhere, here in America, and elsewhere around the globe. [* see note below]
This paragraph is also added for Basil’s sake. I believe that ROCOR will never capitulate to Moscow and its ecumenist moves. I asked Metropolitan Hilarion point blank, staring at his eyes: You will never pray together with non Orthodox, will you? To which he said no. I added that if ROCOR broke communion with a Patriarch who was receiving orders from the Bolsheviks, surely he would not hesitate to once more break from an Ecumenist Patriarch who goes beyond the pale.
And something else, for Basil: ROCOR has no problem with allowing a mission parish to use the Byzantine Rite (they even allow Western Rites!), so you would not have to learn Old Slavonic…
In any case, “as of you, man of God… fight the good fight of the faith,” stay strong, persevere, and pray with fervor “for the stability of the Holy Churches of God, and for the unity [not union] of all” – a unity in faith and love.
The grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you.
* Note: You did not ask me where I am and what do I do, but I will tell you, and you are the first to know. I have no parish of my own (I was removed from it many years ago because I had baptized someone who was “already baptized” in Protestantism, and I was not assigned to another parish). My salary was cut, and I was left with no income. More recently I was unofficially suspended, and not allowed to celebrate (although I have not been disciplined by a spiritual court), and was not allowed to receive Holy Communion in the altar as a priest, and even prevented from chanting (although the need is great).
Area priests do not want me in their churches, probably because of fear of their bishop and of high-standing lay people in their parishes who want to please the hierarchy (archons, Leadership 100 members, and other influential Parish Council members).
Under these conditions, I applied, and as of July 3rd of this year, I was received by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion in ROCOR. I still don’t have a Parish, but I can receive Holy Communion in any church that is in communion with Moscow. If, or I should say when, God willing, an opportunity will arise I can become active, either here where I am in Florida, or in any other place where a group of people need a priest who is Orthodox.