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MESSAGE OF THE MONTH
The Voice of Orthodoxy: Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus
By Protopresbyter Theodoros Zisis, professor of the Theological School of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, From the Greek Orthodox magazine "Theodromia" (Θεοδρομία), June 13th, 2014 (the article was initially composed in 2007). Translated by the Holy Monastery of Pantokratoros (Melissochori, Thessaloniki, Greece) and edited for clarification by the Greek Orthodox Brotherhood of St. Poimen.
For decades now the pan-heresy of Ecumenism infects the Orthodox faith and life. The shepherds, the guardians of the flock who should be alert and chase away the wolves of the papist and protestant heresies, many of them keep silent and hide, either out of fear and cowardice or so that they may not fall in disfavor of the powerful, while others have succumbed to the heresies and like wolves in sheepskins spiritually maul the flock. Many presbyters and monks have assumed the protection of the faith but so has the flock itself as well, all of them with spectacular candor. This is not, however, the first time in the history of the Church that the flock proved more prudent than its shepherds, being invisibly shepherded by the chief shepherd, Christ, Who, by the way, installed the shepherds, not to devour but to protect the flock, not to usurp the hierarchal grace for their benefit but to even sacrifice their life as He did for the salvation of the sheep. The good shepherd does not leave when he sees the wolf approaching, and even more so he does not join the wolves but lays down his life for the sheep. (Jn 10:15).
The sacrificial prototype of the Great Shepherd Christ, was followed by the Apostles and the Holy Church Fathers, who were expended and martyred, either struggling against the heresies of their time, or against internal distortions and forgeries of the evangelical ascetic ethos. One such example is the great Holy Father and Teacher John Chrysostom, whom not too long ago we celebrated the 1600thyear of his martyric and heroic repose on his way to exile (407-2007).
This teaching of the holy bishops, strugglers and early fighters of the faith was never interrupted in the two thousand year march of the Church to conspicuously establish that there is an uninterrupted apostolic succession, not only in the positions and administration, but especially in the faith and life as we sing in the dismissal of the holy hieromartyrs. As a sharer of the ways and a successor to the throne of the Apostles, O inspired of God, you found discipline to be a means of ascent to divine vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the word of truth, you also contested for the Faith even unto blood, O Hieromartyr...
Following the natural silence (due to old age) of the great metropolitan Augustine Kantiotis of Florina (+2010,Ed.), in this apostolic and patristic nature of our times, we all wonder about the almost complete absence of courageous and activist bishops. There is no Kantiotis. When would at last be heard a bold, strong and loud voice of Orthodoxy, to scare the croaking frogs in the stagnant disease-bearing waters of the Ecumenical heresy? There were of course some voices of a handful of bishops who supported and fed this hope of becoming more vociferous; these voices were heard even by the wolves and caused them to flee, while encouragement spread among the sheep.
God heard the warm and hearty prayers of countless faithful as they all prayed for a change to this climate of silence and fright under which "fear overshadowed everything and the people were squashed by slavery." The impossible He makes possible, even when the turnover of conditions seems humanly impossible. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. (1 Sam 2:4).The powerful weakened but it was preordained by God that a loud Orthodox voice of an even young bishop be heard. This voice was the voice of the Metropolitan of Piraeus, the Most Reverend Seraphim. He amazed and pleased us all with everything he wrote, as reported to archimandrite Marko Manoli, this unshakeable and great fighter of Orthodoxy, a spiritual and elder of the "Panhellenic Orthodox Union" and also spiritual overseer of the "Orthodox Press" (Ὀρθοδόξου Τύπος). Whatever he writes and declares is the Faith, the voice, the teaching of the Holy Fathers and the self-consciousness of the Church.
He comprehends, accepts and declares that "the comparative funnel of Ecumenism, as expressed today by the World Council of the so called churches as well as the diverse multinational forums, deceive and debase the Christian revelation and make the message of salvation worldly, rendering it into a morality deprived of the life, grace and power of God. In the final end this effort is just one more hopeless attempt by the dragon of the abyss to neutralize the crucifixion and resurrection message of life of the Apostolic Catholic Church." Ecumenism is thus a comparative pan-heresy, the "churches" of the World Council are called churches when they are not, and the associated display of events, gatherings and overall ecumenical efforts are the direct off-spring of the devil. The opposition towards these works of darkness is truly Seraphimic, angelic.
Apostolic and patristic, powerful and true are all of the declarations made through the powerful voice of this Orthodox bishop about the heresy of Papism. He writes that having separated from the Church it (Papism) lost the divine grace, causing it to fall into multiple heresies, bringing about the adulteration and disfigurement of Christianity thus becoming the cause and foundation of atheism in Europe. The metropolitan forestalls the papist declaration of July, that the papist "church" is the only authentic church and asserts that this applies only to the Orthodox Church. And, for the first time in the last several years, we hear from the mouth of an Orthodox bishop a strong recommendation for our departure away from the theological dialogues of the great pan-heresy of ecumenism.
He writes: "Humbly, I am of the opinion that our mother, the Holy Orthodox Church, as the only true and historically continuous and undivided Church, ought to declare urbi et orbi the truth and surety of her self-consciousness through her documented positions and texts. (urbi et orbidenotes a hierarchal address or apostolic blessing given to the City of Rome and to the entire world on certain occasions. It was a standard opening of Ancient Roman proclamations; Ed.). Following this, She ought to depart from the said dialogues that provide an alibi, unfortunately, to the leaders and subordinates of all these who live within such heresy as well as those that are subjugated under the shadow of death. And in turn, all of them must be invited to join Her, through words and deeds and true evangelical living, so that all those residing outside the salvific Orthodox Faith return to the common millennium that has apostolically delivered Truth, while all others may rediscover the salvation and the conquering of death through the resurrection, the most valuable and fragrant blessing that emanates from our Holy Orthodox Tradition."
Such a salvific declaration and soul-cleansing solution, if adopted and acted upon by the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece, will heal the wounds of the Old Calendarism; will quiet down and spread calm among the faithful who agonize over the direction of the Holy Church’s path and the right-mindedness of Her bishops; and it will, most certainly, arouse a problematic uneasiness among the heterodox and guide them towards a heathy uneasiness towards a true path to salvation.
We appreciate that the Metropolitan’s voice was indeed recognized by the heretical Latins as very powerful. Thus, in fear of the potential losses which they could realize by the suggested change of direction for the Church of Greece towards ecumenism, the Pope went on to immediately declare that "Papism is the only authentic Church and that, although the Orthodox Churches had some elements of ecclesiology, they were lacking and were defective and deficient because they do not recognize the supremacy of the Pope, and as such, ‘they do not offer salvation’." The resonance and significance of the positions taken by the Metropolitan of Piraeus were also exemplified through the actions of the papists in Greece; being quite disturbed by these statements, they composed several letters to Metropolitan Seraphim (through their "catholic" bishop of Syros, Fransiscan Papamanoli), expressing their sadness and appealing that he set aside and nullify what was written. These letters are of special interest since, through them, the Latins expose both the papist mentality as well as the lack of repentance towards their many heretical positions.
The response by the Metropolitan of Piraeus to the papist "bishop" is significantly more interesting; within his response, bishop Seraphim, with apostolic outspokenness and patristic frankness, identifies papism as a simple "religious community" that has absolutely no relationship with the Church of Christ due to her numerous heresies and deceits. And, in a personal manner as well as at a brotherly level, he points out to the Latin leader that he is not a bishop of the church but instead just "spiritually responsible for the schismatic and heretical practicing faithful of your community." Finally, after he most successfully refutes all of the Papist "bishop’s" claims, he advises him to return to the Orthodox Catholic Church. "In closing, I ask your word that you will abandon the false Latin faith and that you will return to the Undivided Catholic Church of the first thousand years, whose Faith, Theology, Asceticism, Spirituality, Governance, Truth and Tradition are being declared unchanged and absent of novelty and innovations, through the many ages of Her historic continuity, by the Orthodox Catholic Church. Expel from your eyes the dimness of the thousand years’ errant life and rejoin the One Holy Apostolic and Indivisible Church, of which the gates of Hades will not overcome, so that you may return to the One and Only Body of Christ and find His Mercy and Grace."
Has a more authentic, patristic, daring and courageous voice been heard by anyone in the last decades from a bishop? As of lately, many clerics and monastics are considering of directing the Greek bishops, through an article, to assume their responsibility and decide through a properly called synod whether: (1) Papism is a Church or a heresy, (2) if Ecumenism is justified ecclesiologically, and (3) to ask them that the Church of Greece depart from the Ecumenical Council of the so called churches. The text has already been composed by the Metropolitan of Piraeus. We place our signature upon this text with pleasure, together with the hands of thousands of clerics, monastics and laity, and we believe among them will be many bishops.
We shall await for the properly executed synodic ratification of the indisputable and truly Orthodox positions that it will express. No matter what the follow-on course of events end up being, we are pleased and joyful as we witness the sunrise of the victory of Orthodoxy towards the panheresy of Ecumenism. We are equally grateful that we now have anti-heretical Orthodox bishops, and we are not without any bishops who support our cause, as the Ecumenists often exclaim within and outside of the their heretical circles. We thank and glorify the Trinitarian God for bringing forth new confessors of the faith and we repeat the supplication of the divine liturgy: First remember Lord the bishop of Piraeus Seraphim,grant that he may serve Your holy churches in peace. Keep him safe, honorable, and healthy for many years, rightly teaching the word of Your truth.