Ecumenism Awareness: The Balamand Agreement

The Three "Pillars of Orthodoxy"

St. Gregory Palamas, St. Photios the Great, St. Mark of Ephesus

For more on these great saints read The Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy (Buena Vista, CO: Holy Apostles Convent and the Dormition Skete, 1990).

The Balamand Agreement was signed by representatives of the following Orthodox churches: the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Church of Russia, the Church of Romania, the Church of Cyprus, the Church of Poland, the Church of Albania, and the Church of Finland. The Executive Secretary was His Eminence Metropolitan Spyridon of Italy (now Archbishop of America). The Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and the Churches of Georgia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Czechoslovakia were not represented.

The Balamand Union: A Victory of Vatican Diplomacy. A critique of the Balamand Agreement.

"Balamand Explained": First Betrayal, Now Deception: A critique of the GOA Defense of Balamand, by Bishop Auxentios of Photiki

Papism, the Hagiorite Fathers, and the Aftermath of the "Balamand Union": translated from the Greek by Patrick Barker for Orthodox Tradition.

Letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople, from the Sacred Community of Mount Athos. Concerning the Balamand Agreement (1994).

Orthodox and Vatican Agreement: A critique by Fr. John Romanides. The author was kind enough to send this to me and allow its publication on my site.


On the one hand, we have the recent Balamand Agreement, an astonishing document in which there seems little doubt that the Orthodox signatories did indeed give some kind of official recognition to Rome as a "Sister Church." This, however, was not quite as new as it first appeared: the idea that Orthodoxy and Rome are "Sister Churches" has been around, in one form or another, for some time. It has its theological origins in the 19th century Church of England [2] and has been at the heart of the Ecumenical Movement for some decades now. Consistent with this teaching, the late Patriarch Demetrios of Constantinople asserted (in 1974) that the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, was now restored to his ancient primacy of "love and honor . . . in the pentarchy of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." [3] Similarly, last year the present Patriarch, Bartholomew, publicly hailed Pope John Paul II as a "brother Patriarch" and, using the Pope's own imagery, spoke of Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism as "the two lungs of the Body of Christ." This, Bartholomew proclaimed, is a fundamental ecclesiological truth"! [4]

On the other hand, publication of the Balamand Agreement was met with undisguised criticism—not only on the part of Orthodox traditionalists, but even among hierarchs and clergy belonging to those Churches which were signatories to the Agreement; some of these were frankly appalled, even embarrassed. Bishop Antoun (Antiochian Archdiocese) told this writer, in outraged tones, that this Agreement "is of no effect," that it is "nothing," that it has in fact been given "no authority," and should be viewed as if it had never happened. This, in spite of the fact the Agreement was signed by official representatives or delegates of nine Orthodox Churches, including the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Moscow, and Romania!

Today's Ecumenism...and the "Still, Small Voice", by Priest Alexey [now Hieromonk Ambrose] Young,
Orthodox America, No. 132. See original article for footnotes.

"Too many of us lack a sufficiently developed Orthodox consciousness to be aware of this 'screaming conflict' [between traditional Orthodox ecclesiology and the ecumenist 'Branch Theory']. Not only is the development of such a consciousness greatly hindered by the dogmatic relativism saturating our society, but our natural longing for peace and harmony and the many appeals to Christian love and brotherhood have made us vulnerable to ecumenical 'sweet talk.' An inadequate knowledge of Church history and a weak understanding of Orthodox ecclesiology put us further at risk. We cannot afford to be naive. These are dangerous times, and we would be wise to arm ourselves with some sobering lessons from history—and the art of Vatican diplomacy."

"Be Not Deceived...," Orthodox America, Vol. XIV, No. 8 (132), p. 12. For an excellent introduction to these issues see: Ivan Ostroumoff's The History of the Council of Florence (Boston, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1971).

In a joint communiqué, signed on June 29, 1995, Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Bartholomew expressed their acceptance of the Balamand principles. Their communiqué includes the following statement: "The Joint Commission [which met at Balamand] was able to proclaim that our Churches are recognized mutually as Sister Churches, responsible together for the preservation of the One Church of God."

From the official publication of the Œcumenical Patriarchate,
"Episkepsis," No. 520, July 31, 1995, p. 19