An Open Letter to Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia
From the Brotherhood of the Monastery of Saint Shio of Mghvime
"Christ the Lord called that Church the Catholic
Church which maintains the true and saving confession of the
Faith. It was for this confession that He called Peter blessed
when He declared ...upon this rock [i.e., of right faith] I
will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail
against it (Matt. 16:18)." Saint Maximus
the Confessor (Migne PG 90, 132A)
"We are orphans and fatherless..."
Lamentations of Jeremiah 5:3.
"Whoso readeth, let him understand." Matt. 24:15
In ancient Sodom there lived the righteous Lot and his family.
Our long-suffering God awaiting the conversion the change of
heart of the Sodomites bestowed upon them all that they needed:
air water food... life itself. Lot was for them a certain example
of righteousness, a model for their correction. But in vain. The
measure of lawlessness and sin overflowed; the Lord brought out
the family of Lot and destroyed the city of Sodom by fire thus
taking away that life which He Himself had granted.
Like unto Sodom becomes that church in which the abomination
of heretical doctrines finds itself a lodging place.
Long-suffering and merciful is the Lord and just as the
destruction of Sodom was delayed for the sake of righteous Lot;
so too for the sake of His righteous servants for the time being
He shall not withdraw the grace of the Holy Spirit from that
church which is deviating into the heretical gloom so offensive
to Him. But for how long? Where is that boundary beyond which
lawlessness exceeds His long-suffering and mercy? If the time for
an exodus like Lot's is come then such a time is the termination
of the period [allowed for repentance], it is the time for the
execution of the judgments of God, the time of righteous anger,
the time for the taking away of the very Spirit of Life. The
going forth from the midst of sin by the true children of the
Church serves as an indication of the spiritual death of the
hierarchy of a Local Church. And only then when the Lord shall
have led forth all of them, all those faithful to HimHis
true Churchwill the grace of His Holy Spirit completely
abandon the assembly of those who have remained behind.
Lot forewarned his sons-in-law of the approaching judgment but
was mocked by them. And his sons-in-law were burned together with
all the Sodomites.
We also have the example of Nineveh. The Ninevites repented
and the judgment of God was suspended. But what of Sodom? Was
Sodom capable of changing? Sodom, in which there was not even a
consciousness of the need for amendment?
- Ecumenism is heresy! That is quite clear. Moreover, it is
the heresy of heresies.
- Of all the errors which the so-called
"Ecumenism" comprises, the most fundamental and
profound is its error concerning the very nature of the
Church itself. This is an ecclesiological heresy. It is
contrary to the Nicean-Constantinopolitan confession of
faith, for it asserts that there is no "One, Holy,
Catholic, and Apostolic Church".
- The so-called "World Council of Churches"
already in its very name contains this contradiction of
the Orthodox Christian doctrine concerning the Church.
And in its "Branch Theory" it totally rejects
this dogma. And the "Council" endeavors to
accomplish this fundamental rejection by its militant
practice of "religious pluralism".
- The Orthodox Church, by participating in the activities
of the aforementioned "World Council of
Churches", declares her agreement with all its [the
WCC's] teachings and activities. By this very means she
becomes a party to all the falsehood and errors of the
Council. She becomes heretical to the degree that the
Council itself is heretical.
- This heresy is introduced even more deeply into the body
of the Church by the participation of her hierarchy in
the various forms of liturgical concelebrations conducted
by the institutions of the Council in the course of its
- The Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) has been an active
member of the WCC for a considerable time (since 1962).
This lively participation, manifested in the activities
of her senior hierarchs, is the path of falling away into
heresy, or rather, it is essentially already heresy.
- Both in their numerous public appearances, and also ex
cathedra, the senior hierarchs of the GOC have
shown themselves to be apologists and preachers of the
heresy of Ecumenism. At the Local Council in 1995
participation in this movement was recorded in the
official documents and confirmed by the ecclesiastical
authority. By this means this heresy was definitively
implanted into the body of the Local Georgian Church.
- When the Church begins in any degree to accept heretical
teachings, then saving grace wanes in her. Once the
Church as a whole accepts a heresy, then saving grace
departs from this community, since salvation for its
members has become impossible, even if they were to lay
down their lives for their convictions.
- There are only two routes of escape from the situation
which has arisen in the GOC: either the Church renounces
its error, or else those seeking salvation quit the
assembly of the unfaithful.
- The Church's rejection of the heresy of Ecumenism must be
expressed by its departure from the WCC. There is no
- This can be done only by the senior hierarchs of the
GOCthis is their prerogative. But the hierarchs
refuse to do this.
- Some of the hierarchs consider such a step inconsistent
with the contemporary processes of global integration.
Subordinating, in their own conceptions, the life of the
Church to the mere laws by which society functions, they
threaten the Christians with economic difficulties,
political, religious, and cultural isolation, and a like
multitude of imagined horrors.
- Such a way of thinking is based on a lack of faith in the
providential care for the Church by her Creator and
Founder. This is unbelief, this is real atheism which
captivates the mind and conscience. They do not realize
that the Lord does not abandon His true servants. His eye
slumbereth not; and mighty is His right hand.
- Other of the hierarchs, not possessing a true Christian
consciousness and not wishing to comprehend the very
essence of the dogmas of the Church of Christ, consider
that membership in the WCC is not so very significant a
sin. Such as these seek by means of various compromises
to deceive both God and themselves.
- So what then remains for an Orthodox Christian seeking
salvation to do, who is certain that this very salvation
is not possible without a true faith free of heretical
- "...and they departed from the presence of the
council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to
suffer shame for His name." Acts 5:41.
"...But as for those who...severe themselves from
communion with their president, that is, because he publicly
preaches heresy and with bared head teaches it in the Church,
such persons are not only not subject to canonical penalty...,
but are worthy of due honor among the Orthodox. For not bishops,
but false bishops and false teachers have they condemned, and
they have not fragmented the Church's unity with schism, but from
schisms and divisions have they earnestly sought to deliver the
Church." (Canon XV of the First-Second Council of
In his commentary on Canon XIV of the Fourth Ecumenical
Council, Zonar writes: "Those are also heretics who even
partly disagree with the teaching of the Church or who only
slightly distort it."
The Monastery of our Righteous Father Shio of Mghvime (the
Cave-dweller) severs eucharistic communion with
Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II because of his heresy of Ecumenism.
Archimandrite George, Abbot of the monastery
April 14/27 1997
The Abbot of the Lavra of the Righteous David of Garedzhe,
Archimandrite Gregory, severs eucharistic communion with
Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II because of his heresy of Ecumenism,
and resigns from the office of abbot.
April 17/30, 1997
Betania Monastery severs liturgical communion with
Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II because of his heresy of Ecumenism.
Abbot of the Monastery, Hieromonk Haggai
April 18 / May 1, 1997
The Abbot of the Zarzma Monastery, Archimandrite George,
severs eucharistic communion with Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II
and Bishop Sergius of Akhaltsikhe on account of their having
fallen into the heresy of ecumenism.
Archimandrite George May 2/15, 1997
To the Catholicos-Patriarch of All
Georgia, Ilia II,
And to the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Georgian Orthodox Church
Your Holiness; Most-reverend Bishops:
We humbly wish to inform you that with the blessing of the
ruling bishop of the Shemokmedi diocese, Kyr Joseph, a meeting of
the clergy of the Guria region was held on May 6/19 of this year.
At this meeting we considered the situation which has arisen in
the bosom of the Mother Church, in particular, the declarations
of the brotherhoods of the St. Shio of Mghvime, Betania, and St.
David of Garedzhe monasteries. We most humbly beg you not to rend
the robe of the Church of Christ by schism.
For love's sake, resolve to leave the World Council of
Otherwise we shall subscribe to the decision of the
aforementioned brotherhoods and shall sever eucharistic communion
1 ) Abbot of the Shemokmedi Monastery of St. Nicholas,
2) Spiritual Father of the Dzhikheti Convent, Archimandrite
3) Rector of the Shemokmedi Cathedral, Protopriest Basil
4) Rector of the Church of SS. Julitta and Cyriacus, Priest
5) Rector of the Church of St. George in Dvabchu, Priest
6) Deacon of the Shemokmedi Cathedral, Fr. Cyriacus