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Ecumenism Awareness: Introduction

I have set up these pages, and scanned in many of the articles, solely to help raise the level of awareness about a problem that has caused much controversy within the Orthodox Church. I am speaking about ecumenism (and its midwife, modernism). Briefly, modern ecumenism is both a movement and an ecclesiological heresy. It poses a grave threat to the very "pillar and foundation of the Truth" (1 Timothy 3:15) itself—the Church. And it really does matter what the "average layman" thinks about it. I hope this will become more clear as a one's level of awareness concerning this controversy increases. But more can be said now about the necessity of self-education.

Photograph of St. Justin (Popovich)

Fr. Justin (Popovich)
Serbian Confessor
of the Faith

Life | Eulogy

It is the duty of the entire Church, the Royal Priesthood of Believers, to not only be aware of the issues, but to speak out against clear and public violations of our Tradition in order to preserve it: "...because the protector of religion is the very body of the Church, even the people themselves..."—Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848. In his First Sorrowful Epistle, the ever-memorable Metropolitan Philaret stated, "Can any one of us be silent if he sees that many of his brethren simultaneously are walking along a path that leads them and their flock to a disastrous precipice through their unwitting loss of Orthodoxy?"

On March 16, 1997, the world-renowned Orthodox scholar and layman, Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, made the following statements during a lecture at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Atlanta, GA: "We must all rise to our responsibility to our holy Orthodox Faith, and speak out that we do not accept the Decree of the recent Synod of Balamand, and we will not accept the Decrees of any other Pseudo Synod that might be convoked in the years ahead....The time has come for all faithful Orthodox Christians to speak out and promptly put to an end this spurious form of Orthodoxy known as 'ecumenistic Orthodoxy'. It is a betrayal of the Holy Orthodox Church, a negation of its essence." (Victories of Orthodoxy, pp. 80-81, emphasis his)

Statements such as these have motivated me to set up this special section of the Orthodox Christian Information Center.

Some of you will doubtless be surprised and greatly disappointed to discover that this controversy exists within Holy Orthodoxy. If you are such a person, read Chapter XXX from St. Basil the Great's On the Holy Spirit, as well as Archbishop Averky's "For There Must Be Also Heresies Among You...". There has never been a "golden age" in the Church where problems did not exist. In fact Church history gives witness to tremendous controversies occurring almost continually.

Let us be zealous for the Tradition of our Holy, God-bearing Fathers; but may our zeal always be balanced by love.

And may God preserve the Holy Orthodox Faith!

 

...Orthodox participation in the Ecumenical Movement has degenerated more and more into an anarchical, truth-despising and canon-despising activity. As such, it cannot but have the strong condemnation of it by enlightened, pious Orthodox Christians. For they take their Faith with the greatest seriousness, regarding it as the only Truth—the Truth that leads to salvation.

—Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, "Fr. Georges Florovsky on Ecumenism," p. 15

"The Orthodox do not expect the other Christians to be converted to Orthodoxy in its historic and cultural reality of the past and the present and to become members of the Orthodox Church."

—Statement of the Orthodox delegates at the WCC General Assembly in Nairobi in 1975

Often when the Ecumenistic activities of certain Orthodox hierarchs or jurisdictions have been openly criticized on this [email] list, the charge has been made that this is "bad-mouthing," "gossip," "whispering," etc. But let me make clear why these activities are not things that Orthodox Christians can ignore. Twice in as many days I have had private e-mail from non-Orthodox people (one a Protestant, and one a Roman Catholic) who in response to my claims that the Orthodox Faith is the True Faith, and that the Orthodox Church is not a church, but the Church, pointed to Orthodox involvement in Ecumenism to refute these claims.

I will not go into the examples they gave (which were specific) because I do not want the point I am making to be side tracked by a "did not/did so" debate. Let it suffice to say that these non-Orthodox people interpreted these actions as contradictory to any suggestion that the Orthodox Church is what it has always claimed to be. Ecumenism is not a question we can avoid. It is a deadly serious pastoral and evangelistic problem that all Orthodox Christian are forced to deal with. I wish we could just go about the work of Christ and say our prayers, and simply ignore the betrayal of Orthodoxy that we see around us—but the Ecumenists do not afford us this luxury. Their activities are an affront to our Faith and to our ministry, and are a stumbling block that hinders those who we seek to bring into the Faith.

I should start a file, and save every post I get from the Heterodox in which similar objections are thrown in my face on the basis of Orthodox involvement in Ecumenism. It really is something I often encounter—and it really does make me angry.

—Fr. John Whiteford, Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

"But we lend an air of legitimacy to such ecumenical escapades even when we do not openly participate in them. In the words of an eminent American ecumenist, 'You (Orthodox) give us our integrity.'"

—The ecumenist is Dr. Joan Brown Campbell. The quote is from her address at the Banquet of the All-America Council of the Orthodox Church in America (Chicago: July, 1995). As quoted by Fr. John Reeves in his "The Price of Ecumenism". Emphasis mine.