By Metropolitan Ambrosios of Kalavryta
His Eminence Metropolitan Ambrosios is the former Metropolitan of the Metropolis of Kalavryta and Aigialeia in northern Greece. What follows is a translation of his open letter, posted (in Greek) on Aktines on June 22, 2021."
"Your Beatitude, Holy Fathers, Brethren in Christ,
The Body of Christ, the Church, is being attacked. It is being attacked by dark powers, foreign special interest groups that pull the strings of mankind. And they have control over governments, but also in religions everywhere – even in the One True, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This demonic control and the calamities it brings along are allowed by God, as a consequence of the fall and the estrangement of mankind. God's people are under persecution. They have sinned and they pay the price. A symbol of the fallen Greek Orthodox people is the hierarchy of Church. As God’s people, fully aware of our sinfulness and shortcomings but with faith in the Holy Triune God and in His mercy, we are determined to place ourselves at the brake of the vehicle that defiles homeland and Church.
We bear the burden and responsibility, which came out from the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils, from the words and exhortations of the Holy Fathers of our Church, and from the struggles and the sacrifice of ethno-martyrs and holy martyrs. The Church is not an autonomous organization. She has no opinion or position of her own. Her ministers (deacons, presbyters, bishops, patriarchs, synods) are not authorized to say and do whatever they feel is appropriate, according to their personal opinion. How much more under the urging and pressure of political authorities. The Church did not build her faith. It is not her creation. She received it and serves it. In recent years, especially after the sacrilegious Kolymbari synod, we have lived through the trampling of Holy Tradition, of the Gospel of the Orthodox faith. We have become listeners to a new rhetoric, about social responsibility, love of neighbor, indiscriminate obedience, and oikonomia. An “oikonomia” that has become lawless. It has become a deluded bishop-worship and an absolute submission to the dictates of the authorities.
Wherever there is Orthodoxy there are wounds. We have seen sacraments of heretics being recognized. We have witnessed bishops donating the Qur'an as a sacred book. Hierarchs have hidden their pectoral crosses so as not to make others uncomfortable. We were stunned as we witnessed common prayers and concelebrations of bishops of the Greek Church, with heretics, Muslims and schismatics. We have seen metropolises locking churches and threatening priests. We have seen masks in front of the Holy Altar, before the holy icons and the holy relics streaming with grace, gloved hands of clergymen handing out antidoron, many times in inappropriate containers and elders protecting their stole from being kissed. We have seen a single-use disposable spoon for distributing of the immaculate Body and Blood of our Christ. We saw the Lord “resurrected” on the second day.1 We have seen bishops prohibit the sacrament of Confession.
A new religion has been established and the Mysteries of Christ have been defiled, the consequence of long-standing violations of the Holy Rudder, the Canons of the Fathers, and the Gospel itself. Holy bishops: You have become more royal than the king. [“Holier than the Pope” -tr.] You have done more to tear down our faith and deny us Christ, with greater zeal and wrath than the anti-Christian government rules. You lead the Church into schism.
And when a few pious clergymen resist this demonic atheistic current, reverently offering the Gifts of the Holy Mysteries as before, as immaculate as they received them from Holy Orthodoxy Tradition, with faith and trusting in the Lord, they are given a beating with the bishop’s staff – beaten with suspension, beaten with transfer, beaten by removing their offikia [clergy ranks], beaten with citations from prosecutors. You punish pious priests. You punish the people of God by depriving them of the salvific Gifts of the Mysteries, or you make them available under certain conditions - conditions that defile and are irreverent toward the Holy Trinity. With masks, with distances and with a limited number of people, you sin against the Holy Spirit. And the pulpits fell silent. They stopped echoing the word of Truth. They are no longer bases of Orthodox struggle. Instead, they echo government decisions and medical ultimatums. Vaccine advertising campaigns and unholy measures are broadcast by preachers and bishops. Shame! And you demand obedience to the Church? What is the Church? The hierarchy and the clergy? Not the people? What does Tradition teach us?
Who was the Church? Saint Gregory Palamas or John Kalekas the Latin-minded? Saint Mark of Ephesus or Mitrophanes and the rest of the hierarchy? Saint Maximos the Confessor or all the [Eastern] Patriarchates of his day? Saint Cyril or Nestorius? Are not the Saints models of conduct to imitate? Isn't the Church also triumphant – that included the Saints and Fathers who dogmatized? What happens if the “Church” you talk about fights against Christ? What happens when it cooperates, applauds and promotes anti-Orthodox laws and practices? We do not judge, because, as Saint John Chrysostom explains: “‘DO NOT JUDGE, SO YOU WON'T BE JUDGED’ (Mat. 7:1) PERTAINS TO LIVES, NOT TO MATTERS OF FAITH” (PG. 63, 231-232). We have been witnessing a flagrant violation of the Gospel for some time now in actions, words, and decisions of hierarchs. And then you ask for indiscriminate obedience? Didn’t the Apostle Paul say, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be excommunicated”? (Gal. 1:8). Didn’t Athanasios the Great say that, “If the bishop or the priest, the eyes of the Church, behave improperly and scandalize the people, they must be deposed. It is preferable for the congregation to assemble without them in a house of prayer than be cast out with them as with Annas and Caiaphas in the Gehenna of fire.”
“The eyes of the Church” turned into anti-orthodox preachers and persecutors of clergy who have “committed crimes”. And their crime? — The preservation of the Tradition of the Holy Fathers of our Church. How can these clergymen deserve condemnation and not praise, who keep the Tradition of the Holy Fathers at the risk of episcopal and governmental punishments? Don’t you know that by condemning them you condemn the Fathers of our Church? The saints and the martyrs? Enough is enough! We will no longer tolerate the continued desecration of our faith. We will not tolerate punishments for clergymen who have not broken any promise to the Lord, and who struggle though persecuted and reviled for faith and homeland. We will not permit the discipline of clergy or bishops who have done the minimum of remaining Orthodox and serving the flock without fail and crossing every “t”. We will take action by every means and in many ways. The anger that has accumulated here for a long time against those who are corrupting humanity, who are violating our freedom, our rights, our very lives, will be vented on you. Because you betray us.
If you come to your senses and become leaders of the righteous struggle that God blesses, know that you will have an “army” dedicated and determined. We are determined to fight to the death – but death on the cross. And if the difficulties pass, you will be blessed and praised for everything. Show condescension to those who may be difficult to reason with. But like the child who tries to serve and help his sick father, so we too make a final effort to get you back on the path of Tradition. Let us embrace brotherly and show respect to our common Fathers. Let us keep the Traditions and with one mouth let us glorify the most honorable and majestic name of the Lord. And finally, to our Triune God be honor and glory unto the ages of the ages. Amen.
Metropolitan (former) of Kalavryta and Aigialeia
"1. As many know, in 2020, the political authorities of Greece did not permit the midnight Paschal Liturgy, so the Synod directed the clergy to celebrate it before evening, thus on “the second day”, Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath."