By Ioannis Tatsis, Theologian
In a letter to Patriarch of Antioch John, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew writes that the possibility of non-participation of Patriarch of Antioch in the Great Synod in case the issue of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Qatar is not resolved will cause “sorrow, soul pain and a lot of throe”. In the same letter Patriarch repeats his position that the Holy Synod must demonstrate the unity of our One and Single Orthodox Church and its testimony to the modern world.
Obviously, in times of confusion we live in, we do not all mean the same thing when we speak about the unity of the Orthodox Church and its testimony to the modern world. The testimony of the Church is the testimony of the martyrs and saints of all times. It is the charismatic theology that derived from the experience of the holy Fathers who spoke about God, enlightened by the Holy Spirit. The testimony of the Orthodox Church has nothing to do with the ecumenistic discord of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which warmly embraces heretic papists and protestants. Papists and protestants very rigorously criticize the “disobedient” believers, who question their actions, calling them ironically “fighters of Orthodoxy”.
Today, at an administrative level, the Orthodox Church has serious problems concerning its unity. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the main source and the origin of these problems. The ecumenistic direction of the Patriarchate, especially since the time of Patriarch Athenagoras to date, has brought the prestige of the Ecumenical Patriarchate into question many times because of the leading role it has played, within the Orthodox Church, in the propagation of the infectious disease of ecumenism. The pan-heresy, overtly fostered by many bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, has fortunately found strong opposition by the Church crew. It is clear from the words of Patriarch Bartholomew that these reactions are an impediment to the completion of the ecumenistic course towards full communion with the heterodoxs. The ecumenistic love of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople for heretic papists and protestants has seriously hurt the love and unity among Orthodox believers.
The joint gatherings of primates of Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, even the Great Synod itself, if it is eventually convened, do not reflect the unity of the Orthodox Church. The unity of Orthodoxy exists and will exist till the end of time. The unity of the Church with the living tradition of the saints is the real unity of the Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, the Primates of the Orthodox Local Churches, fortunately not all of them, are unable to show this unity to the world, not only because they are not spiritually related to Orthodox saints but also because some of them suffer from the infectious disease of the pan-heresy of ecumenism. As long as there are prelates and even Primates of Churches who remain servants of ecumenism there can be no true expression and testimony of the Orthodox Church to its members and the whole world. The gathering of Primates, the co-signature of a joint communiqué or the commemorative photo of all having in the middle Ecumenical Patriarch, are not enough to give true testimony of Orthodoxy to those who are near and those who are far from it. What is required first is a denouncing and a condemnation of the pan-heresy of ecumenism and its bodies and a march in the footsteps of the holy fathers, so that the light of Orthodoxy can shine to everyone and become a haven of salvation for orthodox believers, but also for the heterodox ones, who will come penitents to the One, Holy Church.
Seeing that the possibility of a definite condemnation of ecumenism in the entire Orthodox world is not real under the current circumstances, we are certain that the Great Synod is impossible to express the unity of the Orthodox Church as the One, Holy and Apostolic Church of the Ecumenical Synods and Fathers. Unlike the texts submitted for approval at the Great Synod, particularly those concerning the relations of the orthodox believers with the heterodox ones, there is an obvious risk of new divisions and schisms due to the persistence of ecumenists to promote by any means their plans.
Ecumenical Patriarch’s aforementioned regret due to possible absence from the Synod of Patriarch of Antioch is not true, but meretricious and temporary. However, the sadness he will cause to the Orthodox Church by convening the so-called Great Synod will be real and substantial. This is because, instead of giving the supposedly intended testimony of the Orthodox Church to the whole world and affirming its unity, it is very likely that the decisions of the Synod will boost the pan-heresy of ecumenism and shut for many years the door of “good concern” and repentance of heterodox believers which constitutes a return path to salvific Orthodoxy. It is very likely that there will be dissensions, schisms, disputes and controversies within the Orthodox Church that not only certainly will be “internal problem” of local Churches, but also a strong shock for the ship of the whole Church.