March 30, 2012

Aristotle University Professors Respond to Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus

Letter of Professors of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece

To the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece
I. Gennadiou 14
115 21 Athens

"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops. Be shepherds of the Church of God, which He bought with His own blood." (Acts 20:28)

Your Beatitude Holy President,
Your Eminences,

From many years the academic community has monitored the development of a peculiar controversy, which concerns the position of the administration of the Church of Greece to the inter-Christian and interreligious dialogues and organizations in which they participate. Most of us have participated in the past and continue to participate in these scientific dialogues, representing either the Church of Greece or the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other ecclesiastical administrations. For the results presented, detailed accounts of the relevant conciliar committees are available where venerable Prelates have the opportunity to learn in detail about the progress of these movements.

The Church of Greece, following the formula of the Church of Constantinople, decided synodically, from the first half of the past century, to send representatives to the bodies of inter-Christian and interreligious dialogue. The mission provided documents as a witness of the truth providing full guarantee for the correctness of participation while at the same time, the contemporary modern inter-Christian approach with the general decisions of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the years 1902 and 1904 confirmed the position of the Orthodox Church as responsible for the unity of the Christian world. For those seeking further hagiological documentation of the contemporary inter-Christian movement, it is present in the work of St. Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow, who wrote in mid-19th century of the need for treatment of injuries to the ecclesiastical body, the possibility of reunification of divided Christianity and a common Christological belief held after the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church split its branches. As was expressed by Saint Nektarios, Metropolitan of Pentapolis: "Dogma does not fight love and love graces dogma."

But while the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece has strongly advocated the participation in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, we see that some members engage in acts that undermine not only the course of these dialogues, but, also, create for the Inter-Orthodox unity conditions for schism within the Orthodox Church. Our concern is based on the fact that the Holy Synod to date has not checked its members, the hierarchs, for antisynodical and inappropriate behavior. The attitude of the Holy Synod compels us to send this letter by which we confer to the august body of the Holy Synod of Bishops the following comments and questions.

A member of the Hierarchy, His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus, on the Sunday of Orthodoxy read out this year "new anathemas" against the Pope of Rome Benedict XVI "and those in communion with him." We wonder if the Greek Church observes a different attitude from that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which with synodic decision in the year 1965 lifted the anathemas of 1054 which had been unleashed by Patriarch Michael I against the envoys of Pope Leo IX. Because it is a logical inconsistency to anathematize the current Pope of Rome "and those in communion with him" by a Bishop, and at the same time for a Synod, to which he belongs, be in a theological dialogue with them. The same applies to His Eminence of Piraeus concerning Protestantism, which he also "anathemitized", ignoring that for four centuries now no Orthodox Synod wished to take similar action. The Pan-Orthodox rulings on the inter-Christian dialogue must be the canonical driver and the bacteria of the pastors of the Church and not to slander and to circumvent them.

The same Hierarch, also, has a habit of rudely criticizing the Muslim and Jewish religion along with their servants and their faithful. We are unable to discern or even to speculate what the spiritual or pastoral benefit is from this unprovoked, violent attack of one bishop against people of a different religion. Simultaneously, we are seriously concerned about the image of the Greek Church and the pastors inside and outside the country because of these actions, and many of us become partakers of bewilderment and indignation that they raise. Is it difficult to see by someone the damage and distress this can cause by the aforementioned on the mentality and behavior in ancient Patriarchates, whose seats are located in countries with a Muslim or Jewish majority? We do not need to convince by insults to evangelical truth, especially when our truth emanates from the God of peace, Who established the type and location of His Bishops and "when they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats" (1 Pet. 2:23). At this point it is necessary that the Holy Synod to answer if you accept blackmail or interference from any foreign religious center as denounced by the aforementioned Hierarch.

Together the Metropolitan of Piraeus as well as the Metropolitan of Cythera, like the first, is against the Serbian Orthodox Church accusing it of mistrial (due to the loss of Orthodox consciousness) in the case of the formerly deposed Bishop of Raska, Artemije the monk, who, indeed, both the aforementioned bishops of the Church of Greece characterize as the "canonical Bishop", "a Confessor" and "holy". The questions that arise in this case are obvious: Is there communion, Your Beatitude, of the Metropolitans of the Greek administration with a former bishop knowingly schismatic? Does the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece deny the jurisdiction and judgment of conciliar bodies of its sister Autocephalous Church? It is canonically and ecclesiologically unacceptable for an administration of Autocephalous bishops without authority to enter into canonical communion with schismatics, who act against the local Orthodox Church. So we would consider unacceptable the support of other Orthodox Bishops in communion with the Church in Greece with schismatics. Unless there are double standards for Their Eminences: "anathema" to the schismatics of the West and "communion" with the schismatics of the Balkans.

We know that a sufficient number of Hierarchs have expressed their concerns and requested the convocation of the Holy Synod to reaffirm or redefine the attitude of the Church of Greece regarding the inter-Christian and interreligious dialogue and the ecumenical movement. As Church members and therapists of the sacred science of theology we are aware of the holy Body of Hierarchs and our own observations and questions. With a clear synodical thoughtful reply on the matter we are sure you will restore the credibility of testimony in the Orthodox world.

With profound respect,

Ευαγγελία Αμοιρίδου, Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια
Χρήστος Αραμπατζής, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής
Χαράλαμπος Ατματζίδης, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής
Διονύσιος Βαλαής, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής
Πέτρος Βασιλειάδης, Καθηγητής
Μόσχος Γκουτζιούδης, Λέκτορας
Ηλίας Ευαγγέλου, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής
Αγγελική Ζιάκα, Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια
Φώτιος Ιωαννίδης, Αναπληρωτής Καθηγητής
Δημήτριος Καϊμάκης, Καθηγητής
Ιωάννης Καραβιδόπουλος, Ομότιμος Καθηγητής
Άννα Κόλτσιου – Νικήτα, Αναπληρώτρια Καθηγήτρια
Δήμητρα Κούκουρα, Καθηγήτρια
Αντωνία Κυριατζή, Λέκτορας
Μιλτιάδης Κωνσταντίνου, Καθηγητής
Νικόλαος Μαγγιώρος, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής
Γεώργιος Μαρτζέλος, Καθηγητής
Βασιλική Μητροπούλου, Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια
Ιωάννης Μούρτζιος, Αναπληρωτής Καθηγητής
Παναγιώτης Παχής, Καθηγητής
Ιωάννης Πέτρου, Καθηγητής
Παναγιώτης Σκαλτσής, Αναπληρωτής Καθηγητής
π. Ιωάννης Σκιαδαρέσης, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής
Χρυσόστομος Σταμούλης, Καθηγητής
Χρήστος Τσιρώνης, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής
Στυλιανός Τσομπανίδης, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής
Παναγιώτης Υφαντής, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής
Γλυκερία Χατζούλη, Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos