The Thessaloniki Summit
following excerpts, published with the blessing of His Eminence, Archbishop
Mark, a Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, are taken from Vestnik
(No. 3, 1998), official journal of the Diocese of Berlin, Germany, and Great
Britain. We are indebted to Serge Nedelsky for his translation from the Russian
text. We have taken some license in rendering quotations cited from documents
issued by the World Council of Churches, which are consistently poorly written
and replete with the curious "double-talk" that we have come to call
"ecumenese." The official communiquées from the Orthodox ecumenists,
moreover, have appeared in several different or in expurgated forms. We have
tried to use the fuller texts, when available.
FROM APRIL 29 TO MAY 2 , a summit dedicated to the matter of [Orthodox] participation
in the ecumenical movementa theme which today concerns many, not only
in the Russian Church, but also in many other local Orthodox Churcheswas
convened in Thessaloniki, Greece. Delegates from the local Orthodox Churches
met in Thessaloniki at the invitation of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople,
in response to initiatives of the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches in connection
with the departure of the Georgian Orthodox Church from the World Council of
Churches. The opening address, on the theme of the summit, was given by Metropolitan
Chrysostomos of Ephesus [cumenical Patriarchate].
consultants from each local Orthodox Church took part in the meeting; from the
Russian Orthodox Church, these were: Metropolitan Kyrill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad,
Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate,
and Hieromonk Hilarion (Alfeyev), the DECRs
Secretary for Inter-Christian
Relations. During the meeting, the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church
proposed that only observers, and not an official delegation, be sent to the
Eighth Assembly of the
World Council of Churches, which is to meet in December, 1998, in Harare,
Zimbabwe. Following a prolonged discussion of this proposal, a compromise was
reached: each local Orthodox Church will send delegates to the Assembly in Harare,
though "not to participate in the essential work of the Assembly, but only
to testify before the non-Orthodox participants about Orthodox concerns for
the direction which the WCC is taking and to demand
the restructuring of the WCC."
participants in the meeting adopted a communiquée, the
text of which we reproduce below:
The delegates unanimously denounced those
groups of schismatics, as well as certain extremist groups, within the local
Orthodox Churches themselves that are using the theme of ecumenism in order
to criticize the Churchs leadership and to undermine its authority,
thus attempting to create divisions and schisms within the Church. They also
use non-factual material and misinformation in order to support their unjust
The delegates also emphasized that Orthodox
participation in the ecumenical movement has always been based on Orthodox
tradition, on the decisions of the Holy Synods of the local Orthodox Churches,
and on Pan-Orthodox meetings, such as the Third Pre-Conciliar Conference of 1986 and the meeting
of the Primates of the local Orthodox Churches in 1992.
The participants are unanimous in their
understanding of the necessity for continuing their participation in various
forms of inter-religious activity.
However, at the same time, there are certain
developments within some Protestant members of the Council that are reflected
in the debates of the WCC and are regarded as unacceptable by the Orthodox.
At many WCC meetings, the Orthodox were obliged to be involved in the discussion
of questions entirely alien to their tradition. At the Seventh Assembly in
Canberra, in 1991, and in the meetings of the Central Committee since 1992,
the Orthodox delegates have taken a vigorous stand against intercommunion
with non-Orthodox, against inclusive language, the ordination of women, the
rights of sexual minorities and certain tendencies related to religious syncretism.
Their statements on these subjects were always considered minority statements,
and as such could not influence the procedure and ethos of the WCC."
In the concluding part
of the communiquée a request is put forward to all Orthodox Churches to send
official delegates to the Eighth Assembly of the WCC "with the aim of
expressing their concerns as follows":
a) Orthodox delegates will not participate
in ecumenical services, common prayers, worship, and other religious ceremonies
at the Assembly.
b) Orthodox delegates will not take part
in the voting procedure, except in certain cases that concern the Orthodox
and then by unanimous agreement. If necessary, in the plenary and group discussions
they will present the Orthodox views and positions.
c) These mandates will be maintained until
a radical restructuring of the WCC is accomplished, to allow adequate Orthodox
participation. The delegates also strongly suggest that a Joint Theological
Commission be created, with Orthodox members appointed by their own respective
Churches and with WCC nominees. The Joint Commission will begin its work at
the Harare Assembly by discussing the acceptable forms of Orthodox participation
in the ecumenical movement and the radical restructuring of the WCC.
Thessaloniki, May 1, 1998.
One need not be an expert
in ecclesiastical politics to understand that this document is the fruit of
clear inconsistency, if not cunning. It is clear that the concluding part of
the communiquée, in which the summit participants suggest sending delegations
to the Assembly in Harare with the understanding that "Orthodox delegates
will not participate in ecumenical services, common prayers, worship, and other
religious ceremonies at the Assembly" or vote (which is precisely what
they did earlier, namely, participating in WCC activities in a manner
which is forbidden by the Church canons and which has upset defenders of the
purity of Orthodoxy in every local Church, even bringing about the departure
of one of themthe Church of Georgiafrom the WCC), in no way follows
from the central part of the communiquée. In the core of the communiquée,
the delegates "unanimously" denounced "those groups of schismatics,
as well as certain extremist groups, within the local Orthodox Churches themselves,
that are using the theme of ecumenism in order to criticize the Churchs
leadership and to undermine its authority," in order to "create divisions
and schisms within the Church." The communiquée asserts that to "support
their unjust criticism," the extremists and schismatics, unhappy with the
ecumenical activities of Orthodox Hierarchs, "use non-factual material
and misinformation." This paragraph describes a reality "in its exact
reverse." It is the supposed "extremists" and "schismatics"
who are guarding the purity of Orthodoxy; and the divisions and schisms in the
Church have been created by those who, trying to preserve their own "authority,"
are not ashamed to turn to lies and misinformation.
if not by misinformation, could one assert that "Orthodox participation
in the ecumenical movement has always been based on Orthodox tradition"?
Not only Orthodox Tradition (rightly assuming that documents such as those from
the Thessaloniki summit are not part of Orthodox Tradition), but also Church canons clearly
forbid, under the threat of the very strictest censures, much of what the
Orthodox champions of ecumenism have agreed to, and still agree to, in their
dealings with the heterodoxsomething confirmed by documents, the authenticity
of which is indisputable.
The statement that "certain
developments within some Protestant members of the Council" are "unacceptable
by the Orthodox" is, at the very least, naïve. One is given the impression
that somehow these developments surfaced only recently, taking the Orthodox
by surprise, as though, for some reason, they have forgotten that these developments
among the Protestant members of the WCC were always there, from the very conception of Protestantism
in the maternal womb of the Roman Catholic Church. It may be that the wide publicity
given to such "developments" as the ordination of women or same-sex
marriages has more shock value than the much earlier distortions of the dogmas
of the Orthodox Churchthe rejection of Holy Tradition, of the veneration
of the Mother of God, of holy Icons, and of the holy Saints; however,
these new "developments" are nothing less than the consequences of
this original corruption and apostasy.
The passage in the communiquée
indicating that the Orthodox "were obliged to be involved in the discussions
of questions entirely alien to their tradition" and could not "influence
the procedure and ethos of the WCC," since they were
a minority, is wholly ridiculous. "Obliged?" By what? By torture?
By dismemberment? By the threat of bodily harm, or of being cast into a red-hot
furnace? Tradition provides innumerable examples of how the Orthodox have acted
when confronted with what was "alien to their tradition." Such people
are called Martyrs; they are the glory of Christs Church. Thessaloniki,
incidentally, is the birthplace of the holy Great Martyr Demetrios, the place
of his heroic sufferings and his martyric end. Martyr in Greek is "martys,"
meaning "witness." The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, preparing His
Disciples for martyrdom, said that all that they would endure would be "for
a testimony" (St. Luke 21:13). This is how the word "witness"
is understood in Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. What then, in such a context,
is meant by the continual pronouncements of the ecumenists in the local Orthodox
Churches, that they meet with the heterodox in ecumenical organizations in order
to "witness to them"?
With regard to how the Orthodox ecumenists should
act, even when in the minority, the participants at the meeting in Thessaloniki
might take as an example, not only Saint Demetrios, but also another inhabitant
of Thessaloniki, the relics of whom are to be found to this day in that city.
For twenty-three years, St. Gregory Palamas fearlessly fought
the heresies of Barlaam and Akindynos, not fearing to rise up against the authority
of the then Primate of Constantinople, Patriarch John XIV Kalekas, who supported
the heretics and who was acknowledged by Saint Gregory to be the initiator of
every sort of ecclesiastical disturbance and disorder. This God-Pleaser, St.
Gregory, who for four years was confined in a dark prison, was glorified even
during his lifetime by wondrous miracles; and he undoubtedly influenced the
"ethos" not only of the society of his time, but also of the following
generations of Christians in all countries where Holy Orthodoxy flourished.
On the contrary, Patriarch John of Constantinople, despite all of his "authority,"
called down on himself Divine displeasure; he fell into heresy himself and,
as a heretic, was deposed from his throne and from the communion of the Church.
It is obvious that the purported rejection of common
services with the heterodox in the Thessaloniki communiquée represents a step
back on that dangerous course on which the
"Orthodox ecumenists" have been so far bentuntil their direction
met with resistance from those whom they
call "extremists" and "schismatics." Another point is
also clear: this step by the ecumenists was dictated, not by a rejection of
the errors of the past, but simply by the fear of losing their tenuous authority.
Their thinking has remained the same, and this thinking continues to generate
decisions and projects which will in no way please those who are defending Orthodoxy
from any admixture with "the spirit of this age." What is meant, for
instance, by "the radical restructuring of the WCC" and "acceptable
forms of Orthodox participation"? Indeed, we opponents of ecumenism are
not concerned about the structure of the WCC or the insufficiency
of the democratic procedures now in place; we are concerned about far more essential
things, the strength of which makes the participation of the Orthodox in this
organization unacceptable. Lastly, why should the "acceptable form of Orthodox
participation in the ecumenical movement" not be guided by Church canons
and Orthodox Tradition, rather than a "Joint Theological Commission"one
joined to the heterodox?
From Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XV, No. 4, pp. 66-69.
The following comments are taken
from an article in Ecumenical News International,
May 4, 1998, by Edward Doogue: Orthodox
churches warn of dangerous division in ecumenical movement. They give
us some clear insight into the nature of the ecumenical movement and the Orthodox
representatives to the WCC:
The World Council of Churches (WCC),
which has recently been criticised over plans for its next assembly, to be
held in Zimbabwe in December, is also likely to face a partial boycott by
some major churches of the assemblys worship services and of voting
during most of the debates. A meeting of high-level representatives of the
15 Eastern Orthodox self-governing churches, held in Thessaloniki in Greece
from 29 April to 2 May, has recommended that the Orthodox churches take part
in the assembly but express their concerns about the WCC by not
joining in various aspects of the assembly, including worship services and
...The meeting strongly suggested
that after the Harare assembly a commission be set upincluding representatives
of the Orthodox churches and of the WCCto discuss acceptable forms
of Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement and the radical restructuring
of the WCC.
However the Thessaloniki communiquée
is highly critical of the arch-conservative factions within Orthodox churches,
most notably in Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Georgia, who want all links cut
with the ecumenical movement.
[Great Protopresbyter George] Tsetsis
[chief representative of the cumenical Patriarchate to the WCC] told ENI
that the meeting unanimously denounced those schismatic and extremist
groups within the Orthodox churches that are using the theme of ecumenism
to criticise the Orthodox leadership, and undermine its authority by deliberately
misinforming the faithful, thus attempting to create divisions within the
us comment on the hypocrisy contained in this report,
which was widely cited in the Greek press (see, for example, a brief article
in the major daily Kathemerine, May 5, 1998, p. 6):
let us consider how this sudden concern for the integrity of Orthodox participation
in the ecumenical movement came about. Did it come from among the ecumenists
themselves? Hardly. In fact, it is the result of the attention which we so-called
arch-conservative factions within [the] Orthodox churches have for
a number of years directed at excesses and canonical violations which the Orthodox
ecumenists have not only hidden but which, by their own admission, they have
feared the simple Faithful would not fully understand. Indeed, if there has
been any deliberate misinformation, it has come from Orthodox ecumenists
within the WCC, who even now try to misrepresent their participation in decidedly
unacceptable ecumenical activitiesjoint prayer and worship, not only with
the heterodox, but with non-Christians, as wellby accusing us anti-ecumenical
Orthodox of trying to create divisions within the Church by exposing
their improper actions.
The videocassettes produced
by our Mother Monastery in Fili, Greece, the Holy
Monastery of Sts. Cyprian and Justina, have been distributed worldwide and
have, indeed, exposed the dirty underbelly of Orthodox ecumenism. Professional
Orthodox ecumenists have obviously found these balanced and incisive materials
compromising, since, from among the schismatic
and extremist groups whom Father Tsetsis condemns (including the Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad, as well as the Old Calendarist Churches of Romania and
Bulgaria), it is our Synod of Bishops, under Metropolitan Cyprian, which was
directly condemned for its divisive work. Our Churchs work,
in the final analysis, has helped to enlighten the Orthodox Faithful and has
forced the Orthodox ecumenists to admit to their excesses and to address them.
It was not the ecumenists who policed themselves and created this crisis. We
sincere Orthodox traditionalists accomplished this. And it is for this reason
that the Orthodox ecumenists speak so hatefully of us.
Second, if ecumenism is
about removing words
like schismatic from Christian parlance and is about the creation of an atmosphere of toleration
and openness in Christianity, why is it that the Orthodox ecumenists are so
assiduous in their desire to reach out to the heterodox, yet flatly condemn
us traditionalists as schismatics (or, at times, heretics)?
Does their love only extend to those who reject the tenets of Orthodoxy, but
not to those who confess the wholeness and primacy of Orthodoxy? If so, what
kind of love is this? Repeatedly, our Bishops have offered to meet with the
ecumenists at any time and in any place to debate the issue of ecumenism
and its related ills in an open forum. We have asked only that we be treated
politely and that our physical safety be guaranteed. Has there ever been a response
to this call for such ecumenism at home? Never. And this never speaks for itself.
Since it is ecumenism which
has caused a division among the Orthodox, why is it that we who are opposed
to ecumenism are accused of divisiveness?
If there is nothing wrong with the Orthodox Churchs present ecumenical
activities, why has anyone listened to us? How could we possibly, if there is
nothing at issue, have caused division? And since we are schismatics in the
eyes of the Orthodox ecumenists, and play no rôle in the ecumenical movement,
how is it that we are the cause of division among the ecumenists themselves?
Or is it simply that we blew the horn on the ecumenists, informed the Faithful
of their excesses, and now suffer the consequences of being honest and faithful
to the Church? Obviously, it is only the latter explanation which stands.
And the resentment of the ecumenists at our truthfulness accounts for their
penchant for accusing us of misrepresenting the truth. What accounts for the
added slander, hatred, and nastiness? Hypocrisy is a word which, unfortunately,
immediately comes to mind.
Epithets like schismatics
not withstanding, we Orthodox anti-ecumenists have convicted our Orthodox brothers
in the ecumenical movement of violating the precepts of our Faith, the Canons
of the Church, and the love which true Christians should have for their brothers.
With love and concern for the Faith, we have called attention to the errors
of the Orthodox ecumenists and have tried to help them correct their errors. In response, they have accused
us of insincerity and of lying. And ratherthan attempting to correct what they
perceive as errors in us, they havewhile obviously acknowledging their
own errors by responding to our protestsreviled us, dismissed us with
vile language, insulted us personally, questioned our motives, and relegated
us to a position outside the Church. Love, dialogue, teaching, entreaty, and
simple personal contact they have made impossible. Is this Christianity? Is
this what ecumenism really is? Or is this not, again regrettably so, simple
one need ask how the Orthodox ecumenists will reply to what I have written.
They will, as always, bring out the insults and epithets which the ecumenical
movement, ironically enough, claims to eschew. And they will repeat what they
have said before about us: that we are stupid and, to quote Father Tsetsis,
peasants in the garb of clerics. What a sad commentary on men who
claim to be champions of love and tolerance and who, when caught doing what
they are forced to disavow, attack and depersonalize those very individuals
who exposed their improper actions. A strange brand of Christianity spawned
From Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XV, Nos. 2&3, pp.
Inter-Orthodox Meeting on...
Evaluation of New Facts in the Relations of Orthodoxy and the Ecumenical Movement
Thessaloniki/Greece, 29 April - 2 May 1998 FINAL DOCUMENT
1. We, delegates of all the canonical
Orthodox Churches, by the power of the Risen Christ, gathered at the historical city of
Thessaloniki/Greece, from 29 April to 2 May 1998, after an invitation of His All Holiness
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, responding to the initiative of the Russian and Serbian
Churches and because of the withdrawal of the Georgian Church from the World Council of
Churches. The meeting was hosted by the Organization of "Thessaloniki - Cultural
Capital of Europe 97" and under the generous hospitality of the Metropolitanate of
2. The meeting was presided over by
Chrysostomos, the Senior Metropolitan of the See of Ephesus (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and
the sessions were held in a spirit of Christian love, fraternal fellowship and common
understanding. The delegates expressed and asked the prayers and blessings of His All
Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and all other Venerable Primates of the Orthodox
Churches. The participants received telegrams of congratulations from all the Primates.
They also expressed their best wishes to His Beatitude Chrystodoulos, the new Archbishop
of Athens and of all Greece, for his election.
3. Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Ephesus
presented an introductory paper on the theme of the meeting, followed by a presentation
from all the delegates on the one hand describing their relations to the ecumenical
movement and to the WCC in particular and on the other hand evaluating the critical
problems they are facing. The discussions analyzed the participation of the Orthodox
Churches in the decision-making bodies of the WCC.
4. The delegates unanimously denounced
those groups of schismatics, as well as certain extremist groups within the local Orthodox
Churches themselves, that are using the theme of ecumenism in order to criticize the
Church leadership and undermine its authority, thus attempting to create divisions and
schisms within the Church. They also use non-factual material and misinformation in order
to support their unjust criticism.
5. The delegates also emphasized that the
Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement has always been based on Orthodox
tradition, on the decisions of the Holy Synods of the local Orthodox Churches, and on
Pan-Orthodox meetings, such as the Third Pre-Conciliar
Conference of 1986 and the meeting of the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches in
6. The participants are
unanimous in their understanding of the necessity for continuing their participation in
various forms of inter-Orthodox activity.
7. We have no right to withdraw from the mission laid upon us
by our Lord Jesus Christ, the mission of witnessing the Truth before the non-Orthodox
world. We must not interrupt relations with Christians of other confessions who are
prepared to work together with us.
8. Indeed the WCC has been a forum where the faith of the
Orthodox Church, its mission and its views on a number of issues such as peace, justice,
development, and ecology were made more widely known to the non-Orthodox world. A fruitful
collaboration was established with the other members of the Council in response to the
challenges of modern civilization. Proselytism has been denounced and help extended to
Orthodox Churches in difficult situations to enable them to carry forward their mission.
Orthodox interests were often defended, especially where the Orthodox as minorities were
discriminated against. Orthodox views in the process of political, economic and cultural
integration were expressed and Orthodox contributions were made in the relations with
other faiths. Schismatic groups and so-called renewal groups within Protestantism were not
admitted to membership of the Council at Orthodox request.
9. However at the same time there
are certain developments within some Protestant members of the Council that are reflected
in the debates of the WCC and are regarded as unacceptable by the Orthodox. At many WCC
meetings the Orthodox were obliged to be involved in the discussion of questions entirely
alien to their tradition. At the VII Assembly of Canberra in 1991
and during the meetings of the Central Committee after the year 1992 the Orthodox
delegates have taken a vigorous stand against intercommunion with non-Orthodox, against
inclusive language, ordination of women, the rights of sexual minorities and certain
tendencies relating to religious syncretism. Their statements on these subjects were
always considered as minority statements and as such could not influence the procedures
and ethos of the WCC.
10. After a century of
Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement, and fifty years in the WCC in
particular, we do not perceive sufficient progress in the multilateral theological
discussions between Christians. On the contrary, the gap between the Orthodox and the
Protestants is becoming wider as the aforementioned tendencies within certain Protestant
denominations are becoming stronger.
11. During the Orthodox participation of many decades in the
ecumenical movement, Orthodox has never been betrayed by any representative of a local
Orthodox Church. On the contrary, these representatives have always been completely
faithful and obedient to their respective Church authorities, acted in complete agreement
with the canonical rules, the Teaching of the Ecumenical Councils, the Church Fathers and
the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church.
12. We therefore come to the suggestion
that the WCC must be radically restructures in order to allow more adequate orthodox
participation. Many Orthodox Churches raise questions as to what are the final criteria of
the inclusion of a Church in a wider organization such as the WCC. The same questions
exist for the inclusion of the Orthodox Church in the Council. Nevertheless, the theme of
the criteria for the inclusion is and will remain a fundamental request of Orthodoxy.
13. All the Orthodox Churches are
requested to send official delegates to the VIII Assembly of the WCC with the aim of
expressing their concerns as follows:
a) Orthodox delegates participating
in Harare will present in common this Statement of the Thessaloniki Inter-Orthodox
b) Orthodox delegates will not
participate in ecumenical services, common prayers, worship and other religious ceremonies
at the Assembly.
c) Orthodox delegates will not take
part in the voting procedure except in certain cases that concern the Orthodox and by
unanimous agreement. If it is needed, in the plenary and group discussions they will
present the Orthodox views and positions.
d) These mandates will be
maintained until a radical restructuring of the WCC is accomplished to allow adequate
14. Thus we state that we are no longer
satisfied with the present forms of Orthodox membership in the WCC. If the structures of
the WCC are not radically changed, other Orthodox Churches will also withdraw from the
WCC, as has the Georgian Orthodox. In addition the
Orthodox delegates at the VIIIth General Assembly of WCC in Harare, December 1998, will be
forced to protest if the representatives of sexual minorities are admitted to
participation structurally in the Assembly.
15. Finally the delegates underline that
major decisions concerning participation of the Orthodox Churches in the ecumenical
movement must be in accordance with the Pan-Orthodox decisions and must be taken by each
local Orthodox Church in consultation with all the other local Orthodox Churches.
16. The delegates also strongly
suggested that a Mixed Theological Commission be created with Orthodox members appointed
by their own respective Churches and from WCC nominees. The Mixed Commission will begin
its work after the Harare Assembly by discussing the acceptable forms of Orthodox
participation in the ecumenical movement and the radical restructuring of the WCC.
17. May the Risen Lord guide our
steps towards the accomplishment of His will and the glory of His Divine name.
At Thessaloniki, 1st of May 1998
+ + +
From a Report of the Harare
Assembly by Peter Bouteneff, Executive Secretary of the
Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches:
The size and nature of church representation varied
widely: for example, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and the Ethiopian
Orthodox Tewahedo Church sent large official delegations that included their respective
primates, while the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the right to send twenty-five
delegates, sent just five none of whom were hierarchs. The representatives from the
churches of Bulgaria and Georgia were not official delegates but were under the category
of "advisors". But, significantly, all of the canonical Orthodox churches
without exception were represented at Harare, including the two who had withdrawn
membership from the WCC.
The character of Orthodox participation at Harare
testified to what was a markedly uneven reception of the Thessaloniki Statement. The
closing recommendations of that document, which suggested that delegates participate in a
reduced way at Harare (for example by not attending worship services), were an attempt at
voicing Orthodox dissatisfaction with the WCC in a united, pan-Orthodox way. What happened
in fact was that a handful of churches chose to obey the recommendations more-or-less to
the letter, while the rest felt that the most constructive means of effecting the desired
changes in the WCC was to participate more fully, particularly in view of the fact that
the WCC itself had been signaling a willingness to act on Orthodox concerns as never
before. Add to this picture that the "Oriental" or "Non-Chalcedonian"
Orthodox churches had not been invited to the Thessaloniki meeting, with the result that
these churches, while sympathetic to the ideas of the Statement, did not feel particularly
bound by the recommendations.
The result of the mixed approaches to Thessaloniki
was that the Orthodox boycott of ecumenical worship services was only partial, and a
sizeable proportion of Orthodox participants (indeed, often the ones with the most visible
headgear) were present at the major worship services. Orthodox absence from worship as,
for that matter, from the voting procedure, went largely unnoticed by the assembly, or was
ascribed to apathy.