Well, let’s be honest. It is the Canons that indict them.
Canon XLV of the Holy Apostles
“Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he had permitted them to perform any service as Clergymen, let him be deposed.”
Canon XXXIII of Laodicia
“One must not join in prayer with heretics or schismatics.”
The Extraordinary Joint Conference of the Sacred Community on Mount Athos
April 9/22, 1980 | Full Text
Theological dialogue must not in any way be linked with prayer in common, or by joint participation in any liturgical or worship services whatsoever; or in other activities which might create the impression that our Orthodox Church accepts, on the one hand, Roman Catholics as part of the fulness of the Church, or, on the other hand, the Pope as the canonical bishop of Rome. Activities such as these mislead both the fulness of the Orthodox people and the Roman Catholics themselves, fostering among them a mistaken notion as to what Orthodoxy thinks of their teaching.
Canon VII of the Third Ecumenical Synod
“Let no one be permitted to bring forward, or write or compose a different faith besides that defined by the holy Fathers who assembled with the Holy Spirit in the city of Nicaea. And whoever dares to compose a different faith, or present, or offer [one] to those wishing to turn to the knowledge of the truth…let such, if they be bishops or belong to the clergy, be alien-bishops from the episcopate, and clerics from the clergy—and if they be laymen, let them be given over to anathema.”
Canon I of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod
“We have acknowledged it as just to keep the canons of the holy Fathers set forth at each synod till now.”
Excerpt from Divine Prayers and Services of the Catholic Orthodox Church of Christ, compiled and arranged by the Late Reverend Seraphim Nassar (Englewood, NJ: Antiochian Archdiocese of N. America, 1979), p. 1031.
Now since the Church is one, and that oneness consists primarily and universally of perfect agreement in Orthodox doctrines, it necessarily follows that all those who do not conform to those Orthodox doctrines, whether by addition or omission, or by any innovation of their own, thus changing the truth, are outside this one Holy Church, as one may also ascertain from a review of the sixth and seventh canons of the Second Ecumenical Council, and the first canon of St. Basil the Great.
Eighth Proceeding of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod
Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio , vol. 3, p. 416). Quoted by Dr. Constantine Cavarnos in Orthodox Tradition and Modernism, p. 37.
“If anyone breaks any ecclesiastical tradition, written or unwritten, let him be anathema”
OK, so what’s this about?
I’ll tell you: a few days ago, several GOA bishops celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the patronal feast of St Bartholomew the Apostle at an Episcopalian church of the same name.
As can be gleaned from the canons above, that should have been a non-starter. But the GOA being the GOA, with Phanariote globalism being all the rage, what’s a little economia among –you know–other globalists?
Unfortunately, a bishop from the OCA was there. And from the looks of this email that was sent to a concerned OCA layman, I’d have to say that Syosset felt some heat. By the looks of it, I’d say that His Beatitude hopes that this puts the matter to rest. (To protect the person’s identity, I will only quote from part of His Beatitude’s response, which he indicated he could share):
“Let me be clear and state unambiguously the following: the fidelity of the Orthodox Church in America to the faith and moral teaching of the Church is unchanged. The concelebration of His Eminence Archbishop Michael with His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros and other bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church was exactly that, a concelebration of Orthodox hierarchs and clergy. No texts, statements, or gestures were undertaken, made, or even proposed with respect to any moral issues. In no way should this event be taken by anyone as a modification in any way of the Church’s moral teaching, or as laying the groundwork to modify it in way.”
Now, to be fair, His Beatitude did address one of the elephants in the room, which is the whole LGBTQ+EIEIO thing. St Bart’s is ground zero for this nonsense in Gotham. The other elephant, which is the concelebration with soon-to-be-schismatic clergy was not addressed. (We’ll get to that soon enough.)
That being said, in the eyes of the GOA, the St Bart’s thing was a big nothing burger. Canonically and theologically speaking, it fits right in with their whole Phanariote supremacist mythology. You know the drill: HAH is the fount of Orthodoxy, St Andrew founded the Church in C’pole, and the GOA archbishop is the Exarch of the Atlantic and the Pacific, yadda, yadda, yadda.
It’s also a great opportunity to play Byzantine dress-up in order to wow all the WASP swells. These games are par for the course anymore, for a dying patriarchate that is doing all it can to hold on to whatever shred of relevancy it can get its hands on.
But as far as the OCA is concerned, participating in such illusions is a non-starter. Or should be. Certainly Metropolitan Tikhon seems to think so given the tenor of his letter. On the other hand, when it comes to the byzantinolatrists at Syosset, there should have been no problem. They’ve been pining for Bartholomew’s imprimatur for decades now. And their Russophobia is also well-known. So for the Syosset apparat, sending a bishop to concelebrate with the GOA at a hyper-homo Episcopalian church is a no-brainer. Truth be told, if Syosset had had their way, they’d have ordered every bishop in our church to join their Greek colleagues at St Bart’s altar and sing Kum-ba-ya.
But for the majority of the laity in the OCA, the people who pay the bills, especially those who don’t march in gay pride parades or buy into globalism –not so much.
And thus, Archbishop Michael’s participation as St Bart’s was a huge surprise and a black eye. Not only for the man himself (who by all accounts is a stalwart when it comes to Tradition) but for the OCA hierarchy as a whole. It telegraphed for the whole world to see that the OCA is on board with the entire Phanariote nonsense. (As for the GOA, it telegraphed that it is completely on board with the globo-homo program of the Episcopalian church.)
To be honest with you, I’m not sure how Syosset is going to be able to walk this back. Despite this unambiguous letter by Metropolitan Tikhon, once the bell is rung, it can’t be un-rung. Archbishop Michael’s participation was not quite a crossing-the-Rubicon kind of thing but it does send a sad message that nobody at HQ quite knows what they’re doing. It also shows that they don’t have their hand on the pulse of the laity.
Still, given the chaotic mess that we find ourselves in, the letter from Metropolitan Tikhon may be a wake-up call, especially to the Syosset apparat. At the end of the day, the higher-ups better get their act together. If they want to join up with Bartholomew they should just go ahead and say so and let the chips fall where they may. (A case could be made that they already have. This concelebration thing with the GOA is an indicator of that.)
If, on the other hand, they are still faithful to the vision of the OCA (and this would include its fidelity to Tradition), then they should take this rebuke from its laity and cool their jets when it comes to concelebrating with the GOA for whatever reason they have in mind.
Because here’s the thing. As far as our autocephaly is concerned: we either are or we’re not. There’s no such thing as being a little bit pregnant. And there’s no such thing as being a little bit autocephalous. We can see how good that thing is working out in Ukraine. Clue: It’s not.
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