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Three Orthodox Churches and Mt. Athos take stands against the Pan Orthodox Council's proposed texts

The Churches of Greece, Georgia and Bulgaria and Mt. Athos Unified in Their Witness to Orthodoxy

(This is something of an update to (and confirmation of) what I said in my recent lecture, "From the Second Vatican Council to the Pan Orthodox Council".)

The hierarchy of the Church of Greece has met and has unanimously decided to except nearly every correction proposed by the hierarchs and to send those corrections to the Great and Holy Council for a thorough revision of the pre-synodical texts. I was informed by one of the leading hierarchs on the Orthodox (non-ecumenist) side of the debate that there was, on the first day, a real struggle put forward by the vocal ecumenist minority to not allow for changes. On the second day, however, that vocal minority saw that their vote count was low and sought to avoid voting by name and conceded to a simple general "yea or nay" on the proposed changes from from the hierarchs. Thus, all but one change was unanimously accepted.

Most notably, the hierarchs agreed unanimously that the term "church" should not be applied to the heterodox confessions. Among the most secularized of the Greek media this is considered to be a shocking innovation, but in fact it is just the opposite. As every faithful Orthodox Christian knows who reads the lives of the Saints, the Saints of the second millennium have always considered the papacy to be a heresy, and, by extension, the Protestants, who are an offshoot of the Papal confession. We have always confessed that the "one church" of the Symbol of Faith is the Orthodox Church. This is far from controversial. Or rather, if it has become controversial it is simply a result of negligence, either on the part of the hierarchs, who have avoided teaching the plain (but apparently for some painful) truth, or on the part of the secularized media, which gets more of their information on what the church is from non-Orthodox sources than from Orthodox sources. Overall, the outcome of the synod of bishops of the Church of Greece will play a major role in favor of orthodoxy at the Council.

Also, we have news from the Church of Georgia. The Holy Synod met and decided that they cannot accept the text "Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world" without massive changes. As it is, they will reject it. They also restated their opposition to any change in terms of mixed marriages (marriages with non-Orthodox Christians). They stated that this is the decision of the Oecumenical Councils and there is no possibility for any change to be made to it.

Also, we have very good news from the Patriarchate of Bulgaria. The Patriarch graciously received the Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis and other clergy from Greece, who informed the Patriarch and the other bishops of the developments in Greece and elsewhere. The patriarch restated his church's opposition to the controversial text "Relations of the Orthodox Church to the rest of the Christian world".

I believe we can expect the Patriarchate of Bulgaria to give a strong, Orthodox witness at the Great and Holy Council. Besides the cooperation of like-minded clergy in Greece, they have the very recent glorification of Saint Seraphim, a great contemporary confessor against the heresy of ecumenism, to inspire and lead them.

Finally, the Holy Community of the Holy Mountain of Athos met last week and has issued a letter to the patriarch of Constantinople calling his attention to the many errors in the proposed texts for the Council. The Abbots of the monasteries and their representatives to the Holy Community stated that these errors must be corrected if the texts are to be considered an expression of the outlook (φρωνημα) of the Holy Fathers.

So, what was mentioned in my recent speech about a general reaction against the proposed texts across the Orthodox world has been confirmed brilliantly over the past week in three Local Churches. This should be an answer to silence the critics who claim that opposition to the Council and the council texts amounts to "sectarianism" or "anti-synodical" activity. If that were the case, then at least three local churches, and their Patriarchs and leading bishop-theologians, have now fallen into "sectarianism"! . . . Will they be so blind as to say such things now?

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