June 29, 2016

Life of the Holy Hieromartyr Cyril Loukaris (2 of 5)

...continued from part one.

In February of 1612, while in Constantinople to resolve various ecclesiastical issues, he was elected Supervisor of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but Metropolitan Timothy of Old Patras and other Hierarchs, because they were afraid for some unknown reason of his ascent to the Patriarchal Throne, created a faction against him and caused great confusion in the Church.6 Cyril resigned "to put a stop to the soul-damaging confusion," and departed for Mount Athos and from there to Wallachia, where he remained until the last months of 1615, teaching the people and striving against the Latin propaganda and the Unia.

Before his departure from Wallachia he issued an encyclical (he himself called it a Tome) to the Orthodox, in which he condemns the teachings of the Latins, rebukes the Latin-minded Greeks at the School of Saint Athanasius in Rome, and recommends unshakable persistence in the Orthodox faith as the only way of protection against the enemies of piety.7

To enlighten the Orthodox people he wrote in simple language two treatises, one against the primacy of the Pope of Rome, and another in the format of a dialogue between the Lovers of Truth and Zealots, in which he described the satanic methods used by the Jesuits to convert the Orthodox.

Leaving Wallachia he went to Mount Athos, and in October 1615 returned to Egypt, where he remained until he was elected to the Ecumenical Throne. During this time he occupied himself with preaching and catechizing the people, because thanks to his efforts the major problems tormenting the Alexandrian Throne were eliminated, such as that of Archbishop Lawrence of Sinai. At this time he also developed relations with the Protestants, whom he saw as natural allies in the fight against Catholicism.

After the repose of Ecumenical Patriarch Timothy II, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople elected on 4 November 1620 as Patriarch of Constantinople the Patriarch of Alexandria, Cyril Loukaris, "known for his virtue and wisdom." This designation of the official ecclesiastical Act is based on the honor of his person by the Church. As Patriarch of Alexandria he became "known for his virtue and wisdom." His actions were not only confined to the Church of Alexandria, but included the other Churches, which had need of his care and protection, and proved to be salvific for Orthodoxy.

Cyril assumed the Ecumenical Throne at a time when the Latin propaganda and the Jesuit schools had been established and flourished throughout the East in order to proselytize the Orthodox population to Latin doctrines. His predecessor Ecumenical Patriarchs, such as Neophytos II and Timothy II, had signed Latin confessions of faith, and had pledged the allegiance of the Orthodox Church to the Pope. This new environment was not unknown to Cyril, either in respect to persons or topical issues.

The Hierarchs who elected him knew that he would direct the Patriarchate and ecclesiastical matters along a new course. Indeed as soon as he took the reins he unleashed an encyclical urging the Orthodox to remove their children from the Jesuit schools. One of the first acts of the Patriarch was the canonization of Saint Gerasimos of Kefallonia, in July of 1622. These actions of Cyril signaled good beginnings for his tenure. Their purpose was to cultivate a religious mindset and the awakening of an ecclesiastical consciousness of the faithful for whom he fought with all his strength and means possible.

All this activity caused the hatred of the Latins and Latin-minded Greeks, who preached war against him even to the point of death. The Latin leadership reorganized on a new basis the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Congregatio de Propaganda Fide) and focused on the ecclesiastical matters in the East and in particular the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, or the Propaganda, called to its service many old Greeks from the College of Saint Athanasius in Rome and many of them were ordained Bishops who were sent into Orthodox territories. The supervision of this propaganda was personally done by Pope Urban VIII.

The Propaganda in successive meetings dealt with ways on how to deal with the Patriarch. Their program was to achieve his absence from the Throne, consisting of: a) to detract him as a Calvinist to the people and that he is striving to poison the Church with heretical doctrines, b) to present him as such to the Hierarchy of the Orthodox Church, c) for the ambassadors of the western nations to give a mandate to Constantinople from their governments to undermine his reputation, prepare and achieve his fall, and d) to intervene in the governments of Venice and Holland to refuse him any help. A little while later representatives of the Propaganda requested of Greek merchants operating in European countries to claim his absence of the Throne if they wanted to continue their activities and avoid the confiscation of their goods.


6. These events are stated by Cyril himself in a letter: "Ἐπιστατοῦντος αὐτοῦ (τοῦ Κυρίλλου δηλαδή) Τιμόθεος ὁ Παλαιῶν Πατρῶν καὶ Παΐσιος Θεσσαλονίκης καὶ Τιμόθεος Λαρίσης καὶ Γερμανὸς ὁ πρῴην Μονεμβασίας διά τινας κρυφὰς αἰτίας, τὴν εἴσοδον τοῦ Ἀλεξανδρείας εἰς τὸ Πατριαρχεῖον πτοηθέντες, ἐφατρίασαν, ἑλκύσαντες καὶ ἄλλους μετὰ πονηρίας καὶ ἀπάτης καὶ χρήματα πολλὰ τοῖς ἄρχουσιν ὑποσχεθέντες ὥστε λαβεῖν τὸ Πατριαρχεῖον, ἐπανέβασαν δὲ τὸ πεσκέσιον χιλιάδας χρυσίνων ὀκτὼ καὶ τὸ χαράτζιον τοῖς τρισὶν ἓν προσέθεσαν μέρος, ὁ δὲ βασιλικὸς ἐπίτροπος καὶ ἄλλοι ἄρχοντες γνόντες τὴν ἐκείνων ραδουργίαν οὐκ ἔστερξαν πρὸ τοῦ ἐρωτηθῆναι τὸν Ἀλεξανδρείας, εὶ καὶ αὐτὸς στέργει τὴν ἐπανάβασιν· οὕτω γὰρ αὐτῷ καὶ οὐχ ἑτέρῳ τὸ Πατριαρχεῖον ἐπίκοιτο· εἰς δὲ τὴν τούτου σκέψιν καὶ διορίαν παρέσχε ὁ βασιλικὸς ἐπίτροπος τῷ Ἀλεξανδρείας ἵν̉ ἴδῃ τὸ συμφερώτερον καὶ ἀποκριθῇ. Τότε οἱ συνωμόται φόβῳ συσχεθέντες προσέτρεξαν τῷ Ἀλεξανδρείας καὶ ἐδεήθησαν ἵν̉’ ἑκουσίως παραιτήσηται· ἦσαν γὰρ πλεῖστα χρήματα ἀνηλωκότες. Ὁ οὖν Ἀλεξανδρείας πῆ μὲν μὴ στέργων τὴν ἐπανάβασιν, πῆ δὲ τὰς συγχύσεις τὰς ψυχοβλαβεῖς ἀπεχθόμενος ἑτοίμως παρῃτήθη». E. Legrand, Bibliographie hellenigue [XVII siècle] IV, 269-270.

7. Cyril, in his encyclical letter, after listing and condemning the Latin false doctrines, advises the following: "My Christians, I beg you on behalf of the Lord and in the interest of your souls, to guard yourselves from those wolves, whoever they may be, and that this tome be often read in the church that you may recognize the heads with which they are fighting against you, who their entire lives learned nothing but how to come against us Orthodox Christians, that corruption and wickedness would come to our Roman race. But let us stand firm according to our strength and let us beg God that temptations does not come to us through the faith, but when there is need it would be very sweet for a man to spill his blood for his piety." Χρυσ. Παπαδοπούλου, Ἀρχιεπ. Ἀθηνῶν, Ἐξωτερικαὶ ἐπιδράσεις ἐπὶ τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου θεολογίας κατὰ τὸν ιστ’ καὶ ιζ’ αἰῶνα, Ἐν Ἀθήναις 1937, σ. 8 ἑξ.

Translated by John Sanidopoulos.