Friday, November 30, 2012

Letter from the Holy Synod

Holy Martyr Callistratus September 27 /October 10, 2012

Our beloved clergy and faithful,

St. Photios the Great writes the following concerning the divisions in the Church in his times:

“Let God consign previous events to oblivion. As for us, let us find strength in forgiveness and not call wrongs to mind. It will be best to remain silent about these affairs, or at least to speak about them only briefly and with restraint. Since we are sinful and insignificant people, it will be best to stay quiet about the enmity we caused; only in the case of great need should we speak about it at all”
It is with these words in mind that over two years ago, our Synod initiated the first steps in order to start a dialogue with an Old-Calendar synod in Greece under Chrysostomos Kiousis. Our good will and desire to forget the old animosity and to work together for the reconciliation and unity of the Church was strengthened by the fact that Archbishop Auxentius of blessed memory had been partially exonerated by that synod and also, because the reports that we had heard concerning the new generation of their bishops indicated that they were of more reasonable mindset, as opposed to their predecessors who had participated in the infamous schism of 1985.
Our major gestures of friendship were: the lifting of the depositions that were placed by Archbishop Auxentius in 1985 on the schismatic bishops now belonging to the Kiousis/Kallinikos group, the termination of the locum tenency of the see of Athens held by Metropolitan Makarios of Toronto, and the recognition of the Kousis/Kallinikos synod as thede facto Church of Greece. However, as our Synod explained, one must remember that:

The HOCNA synodal decision of 2010, which recognized the Kallinikos Synod as the Traditional Orthodox Church of Greece, was not exclusionist, for we are well aware of other traditional, Orthodox groups in Greece. Rather, this recognition should be viewed in the same light as the ROCOR’s recognition of the Florinite and Matthewite groups back in the 1960’s and 1970’s ― an attempt, that is, to bring reconciliation among all the differing factions in Greece and elsewhere.

A Historical Clarification, October 2011.

Furthermore, our Synod proceeded to initiate formal communication with that synod in Greece and were happy to host their bishops at our monastery in Boston on three occasions. We had hopes that these friendly gestures would eventually lead to a formal dialogue between the two synods. However, the last two years of dealing with this group has shown us that we were gravely mistaken. Our actions were not answered in kind and the recognitions never became mutual. By accepting, on four occasions, the breakaway bishops and the clergy from HOCNA, by calling us schismatics (schismatics from whom? we never belonged to the Kiousis group) and now by adding the false accusation of heresy against us, we have come to the sad conclusion that nothing has changed in that group since its uncanonical inception in 1985. The cunning tactics and arrogance that they used against the blessed Archbishop Auxentius, not only have not been abandoned, but are fully implemented even now.

In retrospect, our Synod finds that despite our best intentions and despite the admonition of St. Photios, it was a mistake to begin unilateral gestures of friendship with a group that has its origins in a schism and that has not repented of it.  In our desire for reconciliation, we overlooked too many canonical infractions and practices that exist in that group.

Bearing all this in mind, our Synod came to the conclusion that until the group now headed by Kallinikos fully repents of its uncanonical actions committed against Archbishop Auxentius of blessed memory, until it answers the questions concerning various laudatory statements that its bishops have made with regard to the ecumenistic jurisdictions, and until it eradicates the practice of giving Communion to the ecumenists that is prevalent in that group, we return to the position that Archbishop Auxentius held with regard to them and annul the decisions of our Synod of October 2010, whereby we had lifted the depositions of 1985 that had been placed upon them by the Archbishop and had recognized them as the de facto Church of Greece.
God is our witness, that our desire was the unity of the Church and that we have sincerely tried all we could to encourage the relations with the above-mentioned synod. However, the sad events of the past two years have convinced us, that there can never be a reconciliation with people who do not want unity, but domination, who do not want friendship, but mastery. If they have treated our father, blessed Archbishop Auxentius, the way they did, why should we expect them to act with any honor in other instances?

May our Saviour grant His Church genuine unity, for things that are impossible for us, sinful humans, are possible for Him, our Living God.

Your fervent supplicants unto the Lord,

+ Ephraim, Metropolitan of Boston
+ Makarios, Metropolitan of Toronto
+ Gregory, Auxiliary Bishop of Brookline