During Great Vespers on 11 July 2021 in honor of the feast of Saint Paisios the Athonite at the courtyard of the Chapel of Saint George in Giannitsa, Metropolitan Joel of Edessa, who personally knew Saint Paisios and even composed the Divine Services for his feast, delivered the sermon.
During the sermon, His Eminence praised the virtues and gifts of Saint Paisios and emphasized his love for the people of God.
He added, however, that unfortunately many misinterpret his words and use his name in order to spread false and theologically erroneous views, resulting in scandal and division within the Church.
"There are even views that are not orthodox at all," he said.
"They say: 'You must not listen to your spiritual father, you must not listen to the Bishop, the Patriarch, the Archbishop, the Synod. Find holy people, tell them your problem and listen to them.' What is the difference between them and the Protestants who say: 'No sacraments, no bishop, no Synod. Go directly to God.' They have an 'Orthodox' Protestant heretical mentality in our day. This spirit that prevails today, Saint Paisios did not have. He was an ecumenical teacher" he added, citing examples of the great respect of the Saint for the Patriarch, the Bishops and all the clergy.
"The spirit of condemnation is very much developed today in various so-called 'Orthodox' groups and they invoke Saint Paisios for this. We must be careful. No one can claim infallibility except the Church. The Church that is canonically represented by the Bishop and specifically by the Synod."
"In fact," as he underlined, "in the effort to find saints to replace the clergy of the Church, many - guided by such circles and clergy - even resort to the visions of women who are in error, as shown by similar examples."
And he concluded: "Let us pray that Saint Paisios, who was indeed a holy man and had the virtue of discernment, will inspire all of us to be prudent in our words, not to divide the Church, not to tear the Church apart, and to have confidence in the clergy of the Church, who fight for the Orthodox faith and pure life. May Saint Paisios be our help."
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Metropolitan Joel did not specify any examples when he commented "even resort to the visions of women who are in error", but there is one incident that recently took place that was published on various Greek Orthodox websites, which refers to a certain "Fr. Savvas the Hagiorite" who serves in the Metropolis of Edessa. He published a text online that was titled "On Carnal Perversions Within Marriage". He claims that Saint Paisios said these things to a woman, who is of course anonymous, when she consulted him about the sexual requirements of her husband, who is said to have a "progressive spirit".
Fr. Savvas writes verbatim: "The one thing that made a special impression on this lady, was the insistence of Saint Paisios to denounce the 'spiritual father' of her husband to his Bishop in order to depose him. He specifically told her: 'Go and tell the Bishop to shave him!!!'"
What are we to make of this? Like many things said in the name of Saint Paisios that does not correspond to his true spirit, this text should be entirely dismissed and considered as coming from the imagination of the so-called Fr. Savvas the Hagiorite.
Unfortunately, if you go to the website of the Metropolis of Morphou, which is known to promote at times false or distorted texts of Saint Paisios, you will find this text, as well as many other respected Greek Orthodox websites.