July 3, 2010

St Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain on "The Latins" (i.e., Roman Catholics)

By Bishop Savas Zembillas

St Nikodemos, together with St Makarios of Corinth and St Athanasios of Paros, were accused by certain monks on the Holy Mountain of relying on "Latin" theology and practice in their advocacy of frequent Communion. That charge can be found even in the writings of Fr Seraphim Rose, who claimed that St Makarios in particular depended on the writings of two seventeenth-century Westerners ("a man in France named Ardenon" and "someone named Miguel de Molinos" in Spain) for his ideas about frequent Communion, and that he "translated whole chapters from one or both of these books" for his own book, Concerning Frequent Communion. To his credit, Fr Seraphim admitted "we cannot prove it right now." (See Fr Seraphim's article, "The Theological Writings of Archbishop John, and the Question of 'Western Influence' in Orthodox Theology," in The Orthodox Word, vol XXX, Nos. 2-3 [1994[, p. 155.)

Here is how St Nikodemos responded to such allegations:

"Our own faithful, after the Schism, contending against the Latins with irrational and unwise zeal, have wrongly and indiscriminately rejected those customs and regulations of theirs that are good and canonical.... The heterodox convictions and unlawful customs of the Latins and other heretics we must abhor and turn away from; but whatever is found in them to be correct and confirmed by the Canons of the Holy Synods, this we should not abhor or turn away from, lest we unwittingly abhor and turn away from those Canons" (Heortodromion, p. 584, n. 1).