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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 Him—His true Church—will 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?

  1. Ecumenism is heresy! That is quite clear. Moreover, it is the heresy of heresies.
  2. 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".
  3. 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".
  4. 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.
  5. 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 routine activities.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. The Church's rejection of the heresy of Ecumenism must be expressed by its departure from the WCC. There is no other way.
  11. This can be done only by the senior hierarchs of the GOC—this is their prerogative. But the hierarchs refuse to do this.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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 abomination?
  16. "...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 Constantinople)

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
Archimandrite John
Hieromonk Nicholas
Monk Kyrion
Novice Bessarion
Novice Guram

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.

Archimandrite Gregory

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
Monk Eutyches
Monk Gabriel

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 Churches.

Otherwise we shall subscribe to the decision of the aforementioned brotherhoods and shall sever eucharistic communion with you.

1 ) Abbot of the Shemokmedi Monastery of St. Nicholas, Archimandrite Nicholas
2) Spiritual Father of the Dzhikheti Convent, Archimandrite Andrew
3) Rector of the Shemokmedi Cathedral, Protopriest Basil
4) Rector of the Church of SS. Julitta and Cyriacus, Priest Matthew
5) Rector of the Church of St. George in Dvabchu, Priest Constantine
6) Deacon of the Shemokmedi Cathedral, Fr. Cyriacus