Ukrainian Orthodox bishop opposes world Orthodoxy meeting


Religiia v Ukraine, 1 April 2016


On 23 March in the Greek city of Piraeus a conference was held devoted to the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council on Crete. Participants in the event, organized by the conservative circles of the church, included Bishop Longin, the ruling bishop of the Bancheny vicariate of the Chernovtsy-Bukovina diocese, who is one of the closest associates of the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate, Metropolitan Onufrey, Religiia v Ukraine reports, citing the news agencies and


The organizers of the academic-theology conference were four metropolias of the Greek Orthodox Church (Gortyna, Kythria, Glyfada, and Piraeus), whose bishops moved into opposition to church leadership because of the intention to participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council on Crete.


The conference was held in the athletic center of Piraeus and gathered about 1,000 participants from around the world who are unhappy about conducting the Pan-Orthodox Council.


Bishop of Bancheny Longin, a bishop of the UPTs, arrived for the conference and greeted the audience. He recently conducted a similar conference in Bancheny of the Chernovtsy diocese, where he accused Patriarch Kirill of heresy and characterized the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council as "a false council, a council of reprobates, and shame," pleasing to Antichrist.


Metropolitan of Piraeus Serafim delivered the main report at the conference. He criticized the upcoming council for its paucity of issues in adopting important decisions. In the metropolitan's opinion, in the event that the council goes contrary to the holy patristic tradition, it will enter into history as "a robbers' pseudo-council."


Metropolitan of Navpaktos Yerofey in his report expressed his belief that the texts prepared for the Council are "the fruit of compromises." He emphasized that participants in the Pan-Orthodox Council "must following the theology of the deified saints, and follow the holy fathers without distorting their teaching in any way."


Metropolitan of Glyfada Paul expressed doubt about the feasibility of conducting the council. He said that if the Pan-Orthodox Council does not recognize the decisions of the eighth (879-880) and ninth (1351) councils, it will become a "pseudo-council": "If an attempt were made to revise the decisions of the councils of the past, only one choice will remain for us—to reject the Pan-Orthodox Council." In addition, the vladyka called the presence of heterodox observers at the Crete council unacceptable.


Metropolitan of Kythria Serafim expressed his conviction that "there are no other Christian churches besides the single church of Christ."


The resolution of the conference, which was adopted unanimously, included a proposition about "the lack of theological usefulness, clarity, and absence of ambiguity" in the documents that have been prepared for the Pan-Orthodox Council.


It also emphasized that "the lack of participation in the council of all Orthodox bishops, without exception, is alien to the canonical and conciliar tradition of the church." In addition, the rejection of ecumenical status of the council "under the pretext, that cannot withstand any criticism, that 'Christians of the West' will not be able to participate contradicts the holy fathers who organized councils without heretics."


The upcoming council "cannot even be characterized as pan-Orthodox because not all Orthodox bishops will participate in it." The conference participants considered that the principle of "one local church—one vote" is unacceptable and in violation of the canons. "All bishops without exception must vote."


The resolution based on the results of the conference subjected to sharp criticism the document "Relations of the Orthodox Church with the remainder of the Christian world," characterizing it as "theologically inconsistent and contradictory."


In the opinion of the authors of the resolution, the document displays an improper attempt to recognize the validity of the sacrament of baptism of all Christian confessions and it thereby borrows the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council.


Conference participants conclude with regret that at the Pan-Orthodox Council there will not be discussion of the most important calendar question. "The change of the church calendar in 1924 by the ecumenical patriarchate and the Greek Church was unilateral and arbitrary and was made in the absence of a general Orthodox decision. As a result, the liturgical unity of local Orthodox churches was torn and schism and division of believers ensued. . . . We all expected that the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council will raise this problem for discussion and resolve it successfully."


In the concluding part of the resolution based on the results of the conference, the unacceptability of shortening or changing the fasts established by the church was emphasized.


Participants in the academic-theology conference expressed concern that at the upcoming council an attempt will be made "to enlarge the canonical and charismatic borders of the church and grant to heterodoxy the status of a church. There are no indications testifying that this council will undertake a condemnation of heresies and primarily the grand heresy of ecumenism. On the contrary, everything says that an attempt will be made to legalize and strengthen them. We are quite sure that any conciliar decision penetrated with the ecumenical spirit will not be made by the clergy and believers, and the council itself by such a development of events will enter into church history as a pseudo-council."

(tr. by PDS, posted 1 April 2016)

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