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The Patriarchal Encyclical of 1920

A Collection of Short Critiques

At the outset, we had occasion to observe that it should not be considered fortuitous or a mere coincidence how and why this Patriarchal Encyclical of four pages and roughly seven hundred words not only makes no reference whatsoever to the Orthodox Church, as it should have done throughout the text, but completely fails to mention the word "Orthodoxy," even in a general way, using, rather, a phrase suited to ecumenist expediency: "the Christian Churches"! This fact is made evident if we turn to the open testimony of the same Encyclical (which, it should be noted, deliberately avoids showing that such reference is proper to an Orthodox understanding and purpose), by the admission of which the meaning and definition of the "uniqueness" of the Orthodox phronema constitute the "pretensions" "of ancient superstitions and habits," which create "difficulties so great as formerly to thwart the work of unification"!

As it should be known, this "Encyclical," addressed to the "Churches of Christ everywhere," intends and recognizes as such the entire "mish-mash" of the heterodox and heretics! Consequently, it believes, confesses, and proclaims that "rapprochement and communion" with them "is not excluded by the dogmatic differences existing between them"! Likewise, it considers and acknowledges these "Churches" as "sisters and worthy of reverence," and for this reason "fellow-heirs and of the same body [sharing in] the promise of God in Christ" (cf. Ephesians 3:6)! In other words, there is a full recognition, admission, and acceptance by the authentic representatives of Orthodoxy, and this in a fully official manner, that the heterodox and heretics possess: Priesthood, Mysteries, and Apostolic Succession! For this reason, moreover, joint prayer, joint commemoration, joint observance of Feast Days, joint blessings, and liturgical concelebration are allowed to be conducted with them!

"The acceptance of a unified calendar for the simultaneous celebration of the great Christian feasts by all the Churches" is considered by the Encyclical to be indispensable for the goal of this union ecumenistically intended and pursued. About this matter, although it may be reckoned superfluous to write so, it easily follows that, for the sake of pushing forward this imagined union, those who accepted the "Calendar Reform" of the Churches thought it wholly advantageous and preferable to create a "Schism" among the Pleroma of the Orthodox Church (which schism is preserved and continued unconsciously and irreparably even today among those who created this New Calendarist Ecumenism), seeing that "difficulties" and the "thwarting" of the ecumenist goals and plans would thereby be avoided!

So where, on this issue, is "the good shepherd," who "giveth his life for the sheep" and not for "the other sheep" which "are not of this fold" (See St. John 10:11, 16)? Indeed, those who created the "Schism" in question should take note that "not even through a martyr's blood is it [their betrayal] forgiven." He who "follows a schismatic shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven" (St. Ignatios, Epistle to the Philadelphians 3:3)!

On the basis of the evidence set forth above, it can be easily inferred that the Patriarchal "Encyclical" of 1920 not only completely fails to echo the "true voice of the Church," but, on the contrary, intentionally overlooks its own Orthodox "foundation." Judged from an Orthodox canonical standpoint, it deserves the greatest condemnation, insofar as this "fall in the faith" on the part of the presiding leaders of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, from whom this document derives, reaches back to such a degree of "apostasy" that it was put forth by "public" proclamation and by an undisguised, unfeigned unanimous written decision by them!

The most serious form of apostasy provoked by the "Proclamation" rests on the fact that it denies the pan-orthodox "super-dogma," as it were, by virtue of which our Holy Mother Church, "according to the unified mind (and confession) of the Fathers and the Synods," is considered, as we said before, "One" and unique, just as Christ, Her Head, Who cannot have many bodies and-whose "substance" is the "unity of faith,') is also one and unique.

Likewise, according to the saying of the Lord, the ever-living "Vine" (St. John 15:5), that is, the Church, is never divided, but only the unfruitful branches fall from it and become parched, that is, those who are cut off from Her, the heterodox heretics whom the Ecumenical Patriarchate, "fallen in faith," as well as all the "Orthodox" members of the World Council of Churches, in no way acknowledge and treat as heretics!

Hence, because of this most fundamental "canonical rationale," the whole "ecclesiastical leadership" of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which published the above "Proclamation," is judged from an Orthodox point of view "to have fallen in faith," going in this way on trial before the Synods, according to ecclesiastical law. This is so, not only on account of the anti-Orthodox phrases and positions of the "Proclamation" as indicated above, which are directly opposed to the "Mind of the Church," but also on account of the anti-Orthodox direction and the anti-ecclesiastical policy and course of the leadership, which policy and course are based on these phrases and positions and which are clearly put forth "publicly," as we said before, "in theory," "in practice," and "in actuality," in the furtherance of the leadership's ecumenist goals and aims! Finally, consistent with this heretical proclamation, all of the local Orthodox Churches and Patriarchates (which until now have received the "Proclamation" in question without reservation and protest), as well as every conscientious and faithful Christian, in order to preserve and guard their Orthodox being, must reckon it their sacred obligation and indispensable duty to disavow this "Proclamation" in both practice and actuality, that is, by thus "walling themselves off," as the Canons dictate, from the presiding ecclesiastical authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is "on trial;" in particular, this holds for the Athonite ecclesiastical Pleroma, which is directly subject to the Patriarchate, since no "ecclesiastical communion" and "commemoration" with it must be permitted, for the reason that if this commemoration and communion are continued, they will bring this pleroma into "destruction by heresy."

From Memorandum / Appeal: To the Abbots and Superiors of the Twenty Sacred Monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos, by Hieromonk Maximos and Monk Basil (Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1993), Ch IV.

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From the West, Ecumenism passed over to the East. This officially happened in the year 1920. In January of 1910, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople issued an Encyclical on the subject, signed by twelve Metropolitans: 1) Dorotheos of Prusa, Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne; 2) Nicholas of Caesarea; 3) Constantine of Cyzicus; 4) Germanos of Amaseia; 5) Gerasimos of Pisidia; 6) Gervasios of Ankyra; 7) Joachim of Ainos; 8) Anthimos of Bizya; 9) Evgenios of Selyvria; 10) Agathangelos of Seranta Ekklesiai; 12) Chrysostomos of Tyroloa and Serentios; and 13) Eirenaios of the Dardanelles and Lampsakos.

The Encyclical of 1920 is marked by a great contradiction. Before the text of the letter, we find the God-inspired words of the Apostle Peter: "Love one another with a pure heart fervently" (I Peter 1:22). "With a pure heart" means with a right-believing and circumspect outlook. However, the text that follows is redolent of heresy and a passionate adherence to the panheresy of Ecumenism. For not only are the local Orthodox Churches called Churches, but heresies are called such as well. The heresies, it impiously claims, should not be thought foreign or alien to Orthodoxy, but kinsmen and family in Christ, coinheritors of the promises of God and of one body in Christ; that is, it claims that man is not saved exclusively by the Church, but also by the heresies! This great heresy does away with the Orthodox Faith and salvation in Christ, since God says through the Apostle Peter that the heretical "churches" are "damnable [literally, 'destructive'—Tr.] heresies" (II Peter 2:1).

The Encyclical also supports another great heresy. It states that dogmatic differences, that is, differences in belief between the Orthodox Church and the heresies, do not prevent the communion of Orthodox with heretics. Hence, it repeals the belief and the confession of the Faith of the Holy Fathers. At the same time, it reproves the Saints for their steadfastness in the Orthodox Faith to the point of Martyrdom. It irreverently condemns them for following supposedly antiquated superstitions and habits, that is, customs and claims that thwart the ostensible work for union. When the Ecumenists say "union," they do not mean the union of the Church, but the evil union of their Ecumenical heresies. They do not seek the unity of God, but the soul-destroying union of the Enemy, namely, the Devil. Therefore, they are enraged by the Saints, who struggle against the unity of Ecumenism, which is ruinous to the soul, and uphold the saving unity of faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul writes that the Christian must strive for the "unity of the Faith" (Ephesians 4:13). Saint Gregory of Nyssa thus says that we will be united to Christ, with the Church, and to the People of God when we cut ourselves off from heresy. And so it is that the Divine Word cries out: "Come out from among them," from the midst of heretics, "and be ye separate," that is, cut off from them. "For what communion hath light with darkness," and "what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" (II Corinthians 6:1417). (The Fathers, incidentally, also call heretics "infidels.")

The Encyclical of 1920 is anti-ecclesiastical. It denies Orthodoxy, violates correct belief, and insults the Holy Fathers. It supports heresies and calls the Orthodox to unite with heretics—in short, so that they can become heretics, too!

Yet other contradictions mark the 1910 Encyclical of the Patriarch of Constantinople. It preaches love as it abolishes love.

"We believe," the Encyclical states, "that it is essential to rekindle and to encourage, above all, love between the Churches," that is, between the heretics and the local Orthodox Churches. Love for heresies, however, means the love of falsehood, since the heresies are falsehood and darkness. The Encyclical does not preach the "love of the truth" which is taught in the Holy Gospel (II Thessalonians 2:10), but the love of falsehood and darkness. Therefore our Lord Jesus Christ says also of the Ecumenists that "men loved darkness rather than light" (St. John 3:19).

What is the greatest manifestation of true love? The salvation of man in Christ. God became man in order to save mankind from the eternal death of falsehood and sin. Our Lord Jesus Christ, after the Resurrection, said to His Disciples: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, Baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching to them observe all things whatsoever I have commanded" (St. Matthew 28:1920). Not only the Holy Apostles, but their disciples, that is, the Orthodox, consider proselytism the most essential work of love in Christ: indeed, the return of heretics and the other deluded people of this world to the truth of right belief and the Grace of Orthodoxy. Yet, the Encyclical of 1920 abolishes missionary work.

The Encyclical condemns missionary work as "provoking aversion and the bitterness of opposition and recommends its abolition as the "first" step and a "necessary and appropriate" move towards Ecumenism. From this it is obvious that the examination of "dogmatic differences" between heresies and Orthodoxy must be done with indifference, indeed, confession and true belief aside; that is, not with the intention of combatting heresy, which is destructive to the soul, or out of commitment to the salvific Faith of Orthodoxy, but simply by virtue of historical knowledge, as do unbelievers. For this reason, those Orthodox who fall to Ecumenical delusion do not carry out missions. Moreover, they will not receive heretics wishing to return to Orthodoxy, but turn them away. They are told that, as heretics, they are members of the One Church. Indeed, one such clergyman outside Greece recently complained that, though in eight full years he had not Baptized a single heretic returning to Orthodoxy, the Ecumenists in the Phanar had not promoted him! Could there be a more hardhearted act of hatred than this act of denying salvation to other souls?

The wretched Ecumenists push aside the Orthodox Faith. They strike down the confession of Christ. They abolish the love of truth. They abolish saving missions. They deny the Grace of Baptism to those of other faiths. They discourage repentance and the Christian work of salvation of the Orthodox Church. Like their counterparts, the Christ-reviling Jews, they "shut up the kingdom of heaven against men." And neither do they enter in, nor "them that are entering" do they let "go in," says the Lord (St. Matthew 13:1314).

The Ecumenical Encyclical of the Oecumenical Patriarch in 1920 contains wrong teachings which abrogate the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Encyclical asserts that "contact" between Orthodox and the heretics is "innocuous." With this wrong teaching it cancels out the words of our Savior in this regard. For Christ declares something wholly contrary here. "Beware," He said, "of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (St. Matthew 7:15). God says that the heretics are "ravening wolves." The Ecumenists say the opposite. They write that the heretics are their coworkers and their brothers! The Lord declares that we should "beware" of the heretical "false prophets." The Ecumenists prescribe "innocuous contact"; namely, the Ecumenists abolish the Gospel and teach what is against the Gospel.

The Encyclical contends that this "innocuous contact" of the Orthodox with heretics, in opposition to the Gospel, is indeed "useful" and "beneficial" for the Church. However, the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ, contradicts this lie of the Ecumenists, saying: "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" (St. Matthew 7:18). It is the Orthodox Church which is the good tree, which was cast on the earth like a grain of mustard seed and became "a great tree" (St. Luke 13:I9). The Church cannot produce "evil fruit," which is the transgression of the of Divine law. Heresy is a rotten tree: the very panheresy of Ecumenism, which is likened by its wretched henchmen to a tree and its branches. It is impossible for heresy, then, to produce "good fruit," as those who believe in it, in the spirit of Antichrist, claim. Thus "contact" with heresy is not "useful" or "beneficial" or, indeed, "innocuous." On the contrary, this evil is useless and destructive, such as are evil fruit and the "rotten" tree. Rather, "every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire," God says (St. Matthew 7:19). Heresies are cut away from the Church and totally destroyed. For this reason the Holy Fathers, through the Divine word of Orthodoxy, combatted all of the heresies. And through the Holy Ecumenical Synods, they cut away and anathematized "every heresy," as it is written in the First Canon of the Second Ecumenical Synod.

It is clear, then, that the Patriarchal Encyclical of 1920 is an impious Encyclical. It is not Orthodox, but heretical. It does not serve Orthodoxy, but the heresies. It does not follow the Holy Fathers, but the heretics. It does not hold firm to the law of God, but to that which is opposed to the law. It does not induce belief in our Lord Jesus Christ, but has the spirit of Antichrist. With the Ecumenical Encyclical of 1920, the Orthodox who promulgated and accepted it took a great fall. They fell to the panheresy of Ecumenism.

From The Panheresy of Ecumenism, by Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili (Etna, CA: The Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1995), 14-19.