Concerning the Kyprianokiousite amalgamation.

On Sunday, March 10/23, 2014, the Synod of “Archbishop” Kallinikos Sarantopoulos formally united with the Synod in Resistance, the jurisdiction of the late Kyprianos Koutsoumpas, expressors of the so called “Kyprianism”.

The document which explains the ecclesiology of this new amalgamation reveals an important detail of this union: that the two groups agreed that grace cannot be guaranteed in the mysteries of the New Calendarists and that a future synod of all the Genuine Orthodox will decide the issue.

What this detail tells us is that, rather than the Kyprianites returning to the GOC ecclesiology, the Kallinikos Synod accepted the Kyprianite ecclesiology.

In addition, the union included the Russian jurisdiction under Metropolitan Agafangel (ROCOR-PSCA), who has refused to say that the Moscow Patriarchate is graceless and has written that the Roman Catholics, Monophysites and Old Believers have grace in their mysteries.

We pray for the unity of all, but it must be a God-pleasing unity based on the Truth of our Holy Orthodox Faith.

The above we have extracted them from the published analysis of Mr. Vladimir Moss which we publish with his permision below (Source) (Greek translation here):



 He who joins hands with the unrighteous will not go unpunished…

 He who judges the unrighteous as righteous, and the righteous as unrighteous,

 He is unclean and abominable before God.

 Proverbs 11.20, 17.6.

      The devil, they say, is in the details. This must surely be true even more of ecclesiastical unions than of business agreements; for the devil is much more interested in the Church, which he does not control, than in business, which is largely his domain. But could God be in the overall conception, or could He be bringing a large good out of, or in spite of, many smaller evils? After all, “all things work together for those who love God” (Romans 8.28)… Let us explore these possibilities in relation to the ecclesiastical union sealed through liturgical concelebration on the Sunday of the Holy Cross this year between the True Orthodox Church of Greece led by Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens (GTOC) and the Ecclesiastical Community of the Synod in Resistance (otherwise known as “the Cyprianites”) together with the Romanian, Bulgarian and Russian Churches that are in communion with the latter.

      All those who sincerely believe in True Orthodoxy know that one of the greatest obstacles to the salvation of men, to their joining the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, is our disunity. The multitude of jurisdictions calling themselves True Orthodox but not in communion with each other is a scandal – and it is small comfort to know that this is far from being the first period of such chaos and disunity in Orthodox Church history. As a rule, where there is no Orthodox emperor acting as a focus of unity, heresy becomes dominant and the True Orthodox are divided among themselves…

      Unias between True Orthodox Synods in our time have usually been short-lived and highly controversial. In 1969-71 the Russian Church Abroad under St. Philaret united with the Greek Old Calendarist Synods of the Florinites under Archbishop Auxentius (first) and the Matthewites under Archbishop Andreas (a little later). But this unia broke up in mutual recrimination between all three groups less than a decade later. In 1994 another attempt was made: the Russian Church Abroad under Metropolitan Vitaly, the Greek Old Calendarists under Metropolitan Vitaly, the Romanian Old Calendarists under Metropolitan Vlasie and the Bulgarian Old Calendarists under Bishop Photius united on the basis of a “Cyprianite” confession of faith, which contradicted the confession of faith both of the Florinites and of the Matthewites (which is why they were not part of it) and of the Russian Church Abroad (as expressed in the anathema against ecumenism of 1983).

      In 2001 the Russian Church Abroad divided. One part under Metropolitan Vitaly (outside Russia; there were other leaders inside Russia) rejected the Cyprianite confession and unia, but then split up into three or four warring synods. The other part under Metropolitan Laurus eventually united with the Moscow Patriarchate in 2007.

      The Greek Cyprianites, and Romanian and Bulgarian Old Calendarists remained together, but reunited with one of the Russian bishops, Agathangel, who had refused to join the unia with the MP. Although Agathangel had been the last bishop to leave the sinking ship of the Russian Church Abroad, he refused to join the other Russian bishops who had jumped ship earlier. In fact, he considered himself to be the only completely canonical Russian bishop. All the Russian True Orthodox bishops, in his opinion, were and are graceless. As for the Moscow Patriarchate, while condemning it, he refused to say that it was graceless. Since he did not want to remain on his own, however, and wanted to create his own hierarchy, he was looking for a partner. The Cyprianites obliged, and so the Agathangelite hierarchy came into being.

      In 2009 the Cyprianites entered into negotiations for union with the Florinites under Archbishop Chrysostomos (Kiousis). The union talks failed, but the Cyprianites made some significant concessions. In particular, they agreed that their break with the Florinites in 1984 had been “hasty” – in other words, wrong, that the new calendarist church of Greece was not their “mother church”, and that they would no longer talk about heretics being “ailing members” of the True Church.[1]

      In 2010 Archbishop Chrysostomos died, being replaced by Archbishop Kallinikos, and then Metropolitan Cyprian also died. Then the Cyprianites decided to make a second attempt at union with the Florinites. (Or did the Florinites take the initiative? We don’t know). Last week agreement was reached between the Greek TOC and the Cyprianites with their allies from Romania (Metropolitan Vlasie), Bulgaria (Bishop Photius) and Russia (Metropolitan Agathangel); and on the Sunday of the Holy Cross the uniates concelebrated the Divine Liturgy in Athens.

      In almost all political unions, there is a signed treaty for everyone to see, and then there are secret clauses, which may or not be written down… Again, in almost all political unions, there is the supposed “great joy and victory for everyone”, and then there are the real winners and losers. It shouldn’t be like that with ecclesiastical unions, in which even those who submit and repent have truly triumphed – by saving their souls. But in false unias there are real winners and losers. Or rather: in the long term everybody in the unia is in fact a loser…

      Let us see who the real winners and losers are in this false unia. Already in February, when it looked as if the unia would go ahead, the Cyprianite Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna declared, on the one hand, that there would be no winners or losers in this unia (“foolish and evil prattle” was his name for this “inappropriate triumphalism”), and on the other hand that they (the Cyprianites) were not required to abandon any of their principles as a result of the unia. “Be assured,” he writes, “that none of our principles, none of our moderation, and none of the spirit bequeathed to us by our late and venerable Metropolitan Cyprian have been set aside, as some naysayers have suggested.” But since the principles of the Cyprianite ecclesiology are false, this means that no repentance for their errors was required from the Cyprianites!

      Chrysostomos himself gains much from this unia. Not having been required to renounce his errors, he can repeat them. Nor is it likely that he will be brought to order: according to the administrative arrangement agreed upon, he is a metropolitan not subject to the senior hierarch in America, Metropolitan Demetrius of America!

      On March 7/20, just after the unia had been signed, the senior Cyprianite hierarch, Metropolitan Cyprian of Orope (the younger), confirmed the victory of the Cyprianites. “The Official Dialogue (December 2012-February 2014) led us to the realization that our Act of walling ourselves off in 1984 from our True Orthodox brethren should be abrogated, since the reasons of faith and righteousness that then provoked it no longer exist.” In other words: “In 1984, we broke communion with the TOC for perfectly valid ‘reasons of faith and righteousness’. But now those reasons no longer exist, the TOC have corrected themselves, so we can go back into communion with them.”

      This is, in effect, a retraction by the Cyprianites of their admission in 2009 that they had been “hasty” in breaking with the GTOC in 1984: in fact, it implicitly accuses the GTOC of causing the schism. Moreover, none of the other concessions they made in 2009 are confirmed now, in 2014. In reality, as we shall see later, it is the True Orthodox Church of Greece that has made the concessions.

      How is it that the two Cyprianite metropolitans can be so bold, basically reaffirming their loyalty to the ecclesiological heresy of Cyprianism, even after the union with the GTOC has been signed? The answer is that they were not asked to renounce their heresy – in public, at any rate. Of course, we do not know what went on behind closed doors, or what was contained in the secret clauses of the agreement, if such existed. But even if they were asked to renounce certain positions in private (of which, however, we have no evidence), it is obvious that they have no inhibitions about renouncing any such renunciation in public. Nor – most significantly and fatefully – have the TOC hierarchs rebuked them in any way…

      But what about the official joint confession of faith, the Common Ecclesiological Statement, which all parties signed? Does that not contain the renunciation of any Cyprianite position? As we shall see, it does not… Nor is this surprising since it was in fact written by a Cyprianite, Bishop Photius of Triaditsa (Bulgaria)!… What it does contain is a highly rhetorical condemnation of Ecumenism; a more sober and useful condemnation of Sergianism; and a significant weakening of the True Orthodox position with regard to the validity of the sacraments of the “World Orthodox”.

      Before examining this Statement, let us remind ourselves what Cyprianism is in essence. Cyprianism is a hidden form of Ecumenism, an attempt, unheard of in the writings of the Holy Fathers, to separate grace (blagodatnost’) from Orthodoxy (pravoslavnost’), as if the one could exist without the other. It supposes that it is possible to be a “heretic of heretics”, and a “pan-heretic of pan-heretics”, and yet remain an “uncondemned” member of the True Church having the Grace of the Holy Spirit. Cyprianism has already been condemned by several Greek and Russian Synods. This Statement could and should have given it the final death-blow…

      The Statement’s section on Ecumenism begins thus: “Ecumenism,as a theological concept, as an organized social movement, and as a religious enterprise, is and constitutes the greatest heresy of all time and amost wide-ranging panheresy; the heresy of heresies and the pan-heresy of pan-heresies; an amnesty for all heresies, truly and veritably a pan-heresy”. Point taken! With such sturm und drang, we cannot accuse the signatories of this confession of being ambiguous or tepid about ecumenism!

      Nor about sergianism – the section on that subject is good and especially welcome in view of the fact that Greek Synods very rarely mention the subject. In fact it corrects one of the lesser-known errors of the Cyprianite ecclesiology, its affirmation that Sergianism “no longer exists”. For on May 10/23, 2007 the Cyprianite Synod declared that “the historical basis and occasion for the rift among the Russians (1917-) has been removed and no longer exists. It is quite different from the dispute which divided, and continues to divide – since it still exists and is, indeed, reinforced daily, – the Orthodox into ecumenists and resisters (1920, 1924-).”(point 9) Perhaps the correction of the Cyprianite position here is owing to the fact that the confession was written by a Bulgarian bishop who knows from experience what communism and its evil effects on church life are. In any case, this section of the confession is to be welcomed as constituting probably its most useful part.

      But then we come to the section on the “Return to True Orthodoxy”. The first four points are fine:

      “1. Nevertheless, œconomy assuredly can never and in no circumstance whatever permit the pardoning of any sin or any compromise concerning the “correct and saving confession of the Faith,” since œconomy aims clearly and solely, in a spirit of loving kindness, at facilitating the salvation of souls, for whom Christ died.

      “2. The application of œconomy in the reception of heretics and schismatics into communion with the Church in no way betokens that the Church acknowledges the validity and the reality of their mysteries,which are celebrated outside Her canonical and charismatic boundaries.

      “3. The Holy Orthodox Church has never recognized, either by exactitude or by œconomy, mysteries performed completely outside Her and in apostasy, since those who celebrate or who partake of these mysteries remain within the bosom of their heretical or schismatic community.

      “4. Through the application of œconomy in the reception of persons or groups outside Her in repentance, the Orthodox Church accepts merely the form of the mystery of heretics or schismatics—provided, of course, that this has been preserved unadulterated—but endows this form with life through the Grace of the Holy Spirit that exists in Her by means of the bearers of this fullness, namely, Orthodox Bishops.”

      This is good. But now we come to point 6: “More specifically, with regard to the Mysteries celebrated in the so-called official Orthodox Churches, the True Orthodox Church, within the boundaries of Her pastoral solicitude, does not provide assurance concerning their validity or concerning their salvific efficacy, in particular for those who commune “knowingly” [wittingly] with syncretistic ecumenism andSergianism, even though She does not in any instance repeat their form for those entering into communion with Her in repentance, having in mind the convocation of a Major Synod of True Orthodoxy, in order to place a seal on what has already occurred at a local level.”[2]

      This is pure Cyprianism! The signatories are saying in effect: “Although the World Orthodox are heretics, we don’t know whether their sacraments are valid or not.” But this “agnosticism” contradicts Apostolic Canon 46, which insists that the sacraments of all heretics and schismatics are definitely invalid. It also contradicts the confession of faith of the True Orthodox Church of Greece in 1935, 1950, 1974 and 1991! Moreover, the anathema of the Russian Church Abroad specifically anathematizes those who affirm that the sacraments of heretics and schismatics may be valid. In 1994, at the time of the Russian Church Abroad’s acceptance of the Cyprianite ecclesiology, Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) affirmed that she had fallen under her own anathema. This present point, although more veiled, and camouflaged, as it were, by the much stronger points that precede it, comes perilously close to the same position.

      So the devil is definitely in this detail. Moreover, there are other dubious details. Point six appears to be asserting (although not very clearly) that whether or not the sacraments of a World Orthodox church are valid depends on whether the person who approaches them knowsabout the heresy that church confesses. However, this is to confuse the objective validity of the sacrament in a heretical church with the subjective degree of guilt of the communicant in that church. Apostolic canon 46 quite categorically declares that the sacraments of heretics are invalid, and makes no qualifications with regard to the worthiness or knowledge of the communicant. Of course, the guilt of the communicant in a heretical church will be greater or lesser depending on many things, including his knowledge of the hereticalness of that church. But this in no way affects our judgement as to whether the sacrament itself is valid or not. If, as the Cyprianites admit, the World Orthodox are heretics, thenipso facto their sacraments are invalid, and he who denies this comes under the penalty prescribed by the canon.

      Another dubious detail is the phrase: “bearing in mind the convocation of a Major Synod of True Orthodoxy, in order to place a seal on what has already occurred at a local level.” What the Cyprianites – with the acquiescence of the TOC – are here trying to assert is their old error, the idea that the Councils that have so far condemned Ecumenism and Sergianism were only Local Councils that did not have the authority to expel heretics from the Church. Only a Pan-Orthodox or Ecumenical Council, according to the Cyprianites, can do that. And until the convening of such a “Major” Council in order to “seal” the decision of a Local Council, the heretics remain “uncondemned”…[3]

      This idea was first developed by Metropolitan Cyprian (the elder) in 1984, in his notorious Ecclesiological Theses. The unspoken aim of theseTheses was clearly to undermine the authority of the Russian Church Abroad’s anathema against ecumenism the previous year. By hook or by crook, Cyprian was determined to demonstrate that the anathema did not say what it clearly did say: that all the ecumenists of World Orthodox were outside the True Church and deprived of the grace of sacraments.

      To this end he and others mobilized a whole variety of arguments. Some said that the anathema did not expel anyone from the Church, but was only a “warning” to the World Orthodox. In other words, it was just “a rap on the knuckles”, no more. Again, it was said that the anathema expelled only ecumenists inside ROCOR. In other words, a Russian old woman inside ROCOR might be under anathema, but the patriarchs of Constantinople and Moscow were not! Again, others said that since the wording of the anathema was not composed by the Russian bishops themselves, but by some American monks inside ROCOR, it could not be valid. Again, others said that since no heretic was specifically named in the anathema, it fell on nobody…

      But the least implausible of the arguments was this one, that ROCOR was a Local Church, so its decisions could not have universal power or significance. In fact, in their later writings the Cyprianites went further and declared that no present-day Synod has the authority to launch an anathema expelling heretics from the Church. Thus they wrote in 2009 that “so great a right and ‘dignity’ [of anathematizing] is ‘granted’ only to the choir of the Apostles ‘and those who have truly become their successors in the strictest sense, full of Grace and power’ (St. John Chrysostomos)”. And they go on: “We are unable to understand this hasty tendency in our day to anathematize and condemn, since until such successors come into existence, ‘everyone who is Orthodox in every respect anathematizes every heretic potentially, even if not verbally’ (St. Theodore the Studite).”

      The present writer has criticized this position in detail elsewhere.[4] If there is no Synod in the world today which has the Grace and power to anathematize heretics, then the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – God forbid! – has lost her power to bind and to loose! Then even if the Antichrist were to appear and pronounce himself to be God today, the Church on earth would have no power to anathematize him – he would be an “ailing” and “uncondemned” member of the True Church! Away with such blasphemy, such manifest lack of faith in the power and dignity of the Church, which, by virtue of its Catholicity, exists in every right-believing Synod, whatever its size! If “everyone who is Orthodox anathematizes every heretic potentially, even if not verbally”, then a fortiori the hierarchs of the Church have the power to anathematize every heretic, not only potentially, but actually, and not only under their breath, but verbally and from the housetops! For, as St. John Chrysostom said, “in worldly matters we are meek as lambs, but in matters of the faith we roar like lions!”

      Returning to the Ecclesiological Statement, we see a continuing alternation of strong and weak points.

      “10. As a general rule, monastics and laity from these Churches, who have definitely been baptized according to the Orthodox rite, are received into communion through anointing (Xρ?σμα) by means of a special order, in conjunction, to be sure, with the Mystery of sacred Confession, while clergysubmit a written petition and, as long as this is approved, are received into communion through a special brief Order of the Imposition of Hands (Xειροθεσ?α), specifically compiled for such cases.”

      This is strong. To chrismate a layman is to recognize that the church he is coming from is false and graceless. However:

      “11. It is understood that, on the basis of idiosyncrasies in different places and in different cases concerning the application of a more lenient or a stricter order, a decision is to be made by the local Bishop or by a competent Synod, according to St. Cyprian of Carthage: “In this matter we do not coerce or impose a law on anyone, since every Prelate has freedom of will in the administration of the Church and will have to account for his actions before the Lord” (“Letter to Pope Stephen,” in Concilia ad regiam exacta, Vol. I [Lutetiæ Parisiorum: Impensis Societatis Typographicæ Librorum Ecclesiasticorum iussu Regis constitutæ, 1671], col. 741).”

      This is much weaker. It is not wrong for being weaker, because it is true that a hierarch can relax the rule of reception if he wants. As St. Cyprian says, it is his right as having “freedom of will in the administration of the Church”. However, the irony is that, in the failed negotiations for union between GTOC and the Russian True Orthodox Church under Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk and Siberia (RTOC) that took place in 2009-11, the major stumbling-block was precisely the Russians’ insistence on this right, which the Greeks denied them (at least, perhaps, until the final agreement statement on oekonomia, which the writer has not seen published anywhere). So why are the True Orthodox Greeks being so much more flexible on this point now?

      There are probably two main reasons. The first is that to “reform” the practice of all the hierarchs of the newly-formed bloc so that all, or at any rate the majority of the heretics who come to the Church are chrismated, is an unattainable goal. Probably only the Romanians consistently chrismate the new calendarists who come to them. Both the Cyprianites and the Greek True Orthodox are far from consistent in this practice. As for the Russians under Metropolitan Agathangel, as we shall see later, their practice goes beyond the bounds of the laxest permissible oekonomia…

      The second reason lies in the personality and empire-building ambitions of Archbishop Kallinikos, who clearly thought that union with the Cyprianites and their allies was a far larger and more “juicy morsel” than the comparatively small and poverty-stricken RTOC. This hierarch has the reputation of being extremely strict on matters of the faith. But the truth is that he is “strict” to the point of manifest injustice when some person or community is not useful to his plans, but the strictness disappears when he wants to draw the person or community into his net. No doubt some would justify this on the grounds that a hierarch has to manoeuvre between strictness and laxity in order to serve the good of the Church as a whole. But “the good of the Church” is a slogan that can justify any lawlessness in the mouth of an unscrupulous man: in matters of faith, as St. Mark of Ephesus said, the true good of the Church can only reside in consistent strictness and exactness…

      And so we may agree with Fr. Roman Yuzhakov, who has written on Facebook concerning the Ecclesiological Statement: “It is already clear that the basic principles of Cyprianism are not being placed in doubt. The sharp anti-ecumenist rhetoric of the document should not mislead us: the grace-filled nature of the sacraments of ‘World Orthodoxy’ is, as before, not being denied; it is just that it ‘is not recognized with certainty… especially in relation to those people who are consciously in communion with syncretistic ecumenism and sergianism’. It is evident that this formulation is that invisible difference – invisible, that is, to the naked eye – between ‘Cyprianism’ and ‘the Bulgarian Old Calendarist confession’ which must now become the official doctrine of this union…”[5]

      Let us now turn to an aspect of the agreement of March, 2014 that has especially scandalized Russian Orthodox Christians: the inclusion of “Metropolitan” Agathangel in the new bloc. It is in relation to Agathangel that the opportunism of Kallinikos manifests itself most clearly. Having rejected communion in 2009-11 with the most canonical of the Russian chief-hierarchs, Archbishop Tikhon, he now enters into communion with the worst of them, whose canonical violations and false ecclesiology are notorious!

      This is not the place for a detailed biography of Agathangel, but some account of his more glaring and dangerous errors is necessary.

  1.   In 1996, shortly after becoming a ROCOR bishop, he wrote in the official journal of his Odessan diocese that the Catholics, the Monophysites and the Old Ritualists all have grace of sacraments (Vestnik IPTs, 1996, N 2). So at that time at any rate he was not simply a Cyprianite in his confession, but definitely an ecumenist heretic. And to the present writer’s knowledge, he has not repented of that statement.

  2. In 2001 he went as the representative of the Russian True Orthodox Church under Archbishop Lazarus (the predecessor of Archbishop Tikhon) to New York in order to present the point of view of the True Orthodox inside Russia to the Synod of Metropolitan Laurus. However, instead of representing the True Orthodox Church, Agathangel promptly changed sides and joined the Laurite Synod. During the next six years, Agathangel loyally signed all the decisions of the Laurite Synod, including those relating to joining the Moscow Patriarchate.

  3.  On May 17, 2007, when Metropolitan Laurus signed the unia between ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate, Agathangel changed sides again – he refused to join the unia. Only this time, he did not rejoin the True Orthodox inside Russia, who were prepared to receive him back without conditions, in spite of his previous betrayal of them. Instead, he formed his own jurisdiction, claiming that he was the only remaining truly Orthodox Russian bishop! His reasoning was original: although Laurus and his Synod had been wrong in joining the MP, all his decisions up to the very point of joining the MP (including bans on many right-believing Russian clergy and, presumably, the very decision to join the MP!), had been correct, and so he, Agathangel, as the only Russian bishop who had been loyal to Laurus to the last possible moment, was the only true Russian bishop. It is as if one said: all those who leave a sinking ship before the water is up to their eyebrows have left it illegitimately, and should be considered to have drowned!

  4. While condemning all the True Orthodox bishops as graceless, Agathangel refused to condemn the Moscow Patriarchate as graceless. In this he followed, as always, the Cyprianite ecclesiology. Only in his choice of whom to receive into his Church, he showed himself to be more extreme and more indiscriminate than the Cyprianites – to whom he was now indebted because they had helped him in founding an uncanonical hierarchy.

  5. For example, in 2007 he received under his omophorion in Kiev the “well-known Ukrainian politician” D. Korchinsky and his ultra-nationalist neo-Nazi occult-totalitarian sect or brotherhood. Korchinsky had fought in the Chechen wars on the side of the Chechens, and taught his adherents martial arts, which he then encouraged them to practice on people who disagreed with him. The Ukrainian media called this brotherhood “the Ukrainian Klu-Klux-Klan”, and many of its members were imprisoned for acts of violence. Korchinsky also has close links with the so-called “Great Prior of the Order of the Templars of the Ukraine”, Alexander Yablonsky. Korchinsky’s sect has come close to being banned by the authorities; but Agathangel’s recognition of him, giving his sect the status of a church organization, with a church building and a priest, has protected him from prosecution…

  6. Another example. In 2011 Agathangel received three parishes in Izhevsk, Eastern Russia together with their priests. However, they received a very original dispensation: they were allowed to remain in the Moscow Patriarchate while being under Agathangel’s omophorion. And now they call themselves “MP in ROCOR”!

  7. A third example. Agathangel and the former Patriarch Irenaeus of Jerusalem (who was removed from his see for wrongdoing) have agreed to commemorate each other at the Divine Liturgy. What does this mean if not that Agathangel is in official communion with World Orthodoxy?

     And now this Agathangel, this scourge and bane of the Russian True Orthodox Church, has been accepted into communion by the True Orthodox Church of Greece without, as far as we know, being required to correct any of the above glaring dogmatic and canonical violations.[6] This is truly a betrayal of the Russian Church! One consequence of this unia, therefore, will undoubtedly be a widening of the gap between the majority of the Russian and Serbian True Orthodox, on the hand, and Agathangel and the majority of the Balkan and Western True Orthodox, on the other.


    However, in view of the fact that we began this article by wondering whether God could produce some good out of this evil, let us in conclusion consider some possible benefits.

      Undoubtedly a short-term benefit will be that many will be relieved and rejoice that the continuing disintegration of True Orthodoxy into ever more jurisdictions has been halted and partially reversed. Also to be welcomed is the possible encouragement it will give to some World Orthodox to look again at True Orthodoxy and consider joining it. But such a gain will be real only if this unia does not eventually go the same way as the false unia of 1994 – and generate still more divisions as a result…

      Another possible benefit is that those jurisdictions which, because of their continuing rejection of Cyprianism, are not part of this unia, – we are thinking here particularly of the Russian jurisdictions of RTOC and ROAC and some parts of ROCA (V), – will feel their spiritual kinship more strongly and initiate talks for union amongst themselves – a union that is founded on the rock of Christ and not, like the Kallinikite unia, on the shifting sands of political ambition and calculation.

      But as the unsound foundations of the Kallinikite unia become clearer to more and more people, we can hope for another, longer-term benefit: the removal and replacement of its driver and leader. Archbishop Kallinikos has always been a controversial hierarch, with many fierce critics both inside and outside Greece. He came to the episcopate (ironically, together with Cyprian of Orope) in a flagrantly dishonest and uncanonical ecclesiasticalpraxikopima, or coup, in 1979. Controversy also surrounds the way in which he acquired the monastery of the Archangels in Corinth, which resulted in the exile of its founder and his elder, Metropolitan Kallistos. Often quarrelling with his first-hierarch, Archbishop Chrysostomos (Kiousis), he was an exceptionally lazy and divisive exarch of Western Europe and Serbia, a Greek nationalist who famously once wrote that “the Slavs have never been good Orthodox”. In contempt of all canon law, he was called by one of his senior hierarchs “locum tenens of the Serbian patriarchal throne”, and trampled on the pastoral needs and canonical rights of his Serbian flock to such a degree that most of them have sought refuge elsewhere. When negotiations were begun for the union with RTOC, – a union which Archbishop Chrysostomos believed in but he did not, – he did his best to scupper it – and eventually succeeded…[7]

      All this will no doubt be forgiven and forgotten by many in the euphoria of the present uniate celebrations, as Kallinikos’ dream of recovering “the lost lands of the Byzantine empire”, as he once put it in a sermon, by restoring Greek ecclesiastical suzerainty over the Balkans, looks to be approaching fulfilment. However, “pride precedes a fall”, and empires acquired by illegitimate means can unravel very quickly… One day – who knows? – he may look back on the day of his greatest triumph, the Sunday of the Holy Cross, 2014, and remember with compunction the words of the Lord in the Gospel of that day: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?…” (Mark 8.36)

 March 12/25, 2014. Tuesday of the Week of the Holy Cross. St. Gregory the Dialogist, Pope of Rome.


[2] For those who read Greek we provide the original Greek text for greater clarification: “Εἰδικώτερον περὶ τῶν Μυστηρίων τῶν τελουμένων εἰς τὰς λεγομένας ἐπισήμους ὀρθοδόξους Ἐκκλησίας, ἡ Γνησία Ὀρθόδοξος Ἐκκλησία, δὲν διαβεβαιοῖ περὶ τοῦ κύρους αὐτῶν, οὔτε καὶ περὶ τῆς σωτηριολογικῆς ἀποτελεσματικότητος τούτων, ἰδίως εἰς ὅσους κοινωνοῦν «ἐν γνώσει» μετὰ τοῦ συγκρητιστικοῦ Οἰκουμενισμοῦ, ὡς καὶ τοῦ Σεργιανισμοῦ, ἔστω καὶ ἂν Αὕτη δὲν ἐπαναλαμβάνῃ ὁπωσδήποτε τὸν τύπον αὐτῶν εἰς τοὺς ἐν μετανοίᾳ εἰσερχομένους εἰς κοινωνίαν μετ’ Αὐτῆς, ἐν ὄψει μάλιστα τῆς συγκλήσεως μιᾶς Μεγάλης Συνόδου τῆς Γνησίας Ὀρθοδοξίας, εἰς ἐπισφράγισιν τῶν ἤδη γενομένων εἰς τοπικὸν ἐπίπεδον.”

[3] The present writer has analysed and refuted this position in detail here.

[4] Here.

[5] Here.

[6] As Fr. Roman Yuzhakov writes on Facebook: “It seems to us that Metropolitan Agathangel will most likely not disavow the decisions of the ROCOR Council of 1994 on the identity of the ideology of ROCOR and the theology of Cyprianism, that he will not break communion with Patriarch Irenaeus, and that everything will remain just as it was.”

 [7] Now, however, in view of the false unia Kallinikos have created, the Russians will probably thank God that their own union with him did not take place…


Do We Have the Same God as Moslems?

Rev. Basilios Sakkas
La Foi Transmise, April 5, 1970
“THE HEBREW AND ISLAMIC PEOPLES, AND CHRISTIANS… these three expressions of an identical monotheism, speak with the most authentic and ancient, and even the boldest and most confident voices. Why should it not be possible that the name of the same God, instead of engendering irreconcilable opposition, should lead rather to mutual respect, understanding and peaceful coexistence? Should the reference to the same God, the same Father, without prejudice to theological discussion, not lead us rather one day to discover what is so evident, yet so difficult — that we are all sons of the same Father, and that, therefore, we are all brothers?”- Pope Paul VI, La Croix, Aug. 11, 1970
On Thursday, April 2, 1970, a great religious manifestation took place in Geneva. Within the framework of the Second Conference of the “Association of United Religions,” the representatives of target religions were invited to gather in the [Roman Catholic] Cathedral of Saint Peter. This “common prayer” was based on the following motivation: “The faithful of all these religions were invited to co-exist in the cult of the same God“! Let us then see if this assertion is valid in the light of the Holy Scriptures.
In order better to explain the matter, we shall limit ourselves to the three religions that have historically followed each other in this order: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. These three religions lay claim, in fact, to a common origin: as worshippers of the God of Abraham. Thus it is a very widespread opinion that since we all lay claim to the posterity of Abraham (the Jews and Moslems according to the flesh and Christians spiritually), we all have as God the God of Abraham and all three of us worship (each in his own way, naturally) the same God. And, this same God constitutes in some fashion our point of unity and of “mutual understanding,” and this invites us to a “fraternal relation,” as the Grand Rabbi Dr. Safran emphasized, paraphrasing the Psalm: “Oh, how good it is to see brothers seated together…”

In this perspective it is evident that Jesus Christ, God and Man, the Son Co-eternal with the Father without beginning, His Incarnation, His Cross His Glorious Resurrection and His Second and Terrible Coming — they become secondary details which cannot prevent us from “fraternizing” with those who consider Him as “a simple prophet” (according to the Koran) or as “the son of a prostitute” (according to certain Talmudic traditions). Thus we would place Jesus of Nazareth and Mohammed on the same level. I do not know what Christian worthy of the name could admit this in his conscience.

One might say that in these three religions, passing over the past, one could agree that Jesus Christ is an extraordinary and exceptional being and that He was sent by God. But for us Christians, if Jesus Christ is not God, we cannot consider Him either as a “prophet ” or as one sent by God, “but only as a great imposter without compare, having proclaimed Himself “Son of God,” making Himself thus equal to God!” (Mark 14:61-62). According to this ecumenist solution on the supra-confessional level, the Trinitarian God of Christians would be the same thing as the monotheism of Judaism, of Islam, of the ancient heretic Sabellius, of the modern anti-Trinitarians, and of certain Illuminist sects. There would not be Three Persons in a Single Divinity, but a single Person, unchanging for some, or successively changing “masks” (Father-Son-Spirit) for others. And nonetheless one would pretend that this was the “same God“.

Here some might naively propose: “Yet for the three religions there is a common point: all three confess God the Father.“But according to the Holy Orthodox Faith, this is an absurdity. We confess always: Glory to the Holy, Consubstantial, Life-giving and Indivisible Trinity.” How could we separate the Father from the Son when Jesus Christ affirms I and the Father are One (John 10:30); and Saint John the Apostle, Evangelist, and Theologian, the Apostle of Love, he clearly affirms: Whosoever denies the Son, the same does not have the Father (John 2:23).

But even if all three of us call God Father: of whom is He really the Father? For the Jews and the Moslems He is the Father of men in the level of creation; while of us Orthodox Christians He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ by adoption (Eph. 1:4-5) in the level of redemption. What resemblance is there, then, between the Divine Paternity in Christianity and in the other religions?

Abraham worshipped God in the form of the Holy Trinity
Others might say: “But all the same, Abraham worshipped the true God; and the Jews through Isaac and the Moslems through Hagar are the descendants of this true worshipper of God.” Here one will have to make several things clear: Abraham worshipped God not at all in the form of the unipersonal monotheism of the others, but in the form of the Holy Trinity. We read in the Holy Scripture: And the Lord appeared unto him at the Oaks of Mamre… and he bowed himself toward the ground (Gen. 18:1-2). Under what form did Abraham worship God? Under the unipersonal form, or under the form of the Divine Tri-unity? We Orthodox Christians venerate this Old Testament manifestation of the Holy Trinity on the Day of Pentecost, when we adorn our churches with boughs representing the ancient oaks, and when we venerate in their midst the icon of the Three Angels, just as our father Abraham venerated it. Carnal descent from Abraham can be of no use to us if we are not regenerated by the waters of Baptism in the Faith of Abraham. And the Faith of Abraham was the Faith in Jesus Christ, as the Lord Himself has said: Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it and was glad (John 8:56). Such also was the Faith of the Prophet-King David, who heard the heavenly Father speaking to His Consubstantial Son: The Lord said unto my Lord (Ps. 109:1; Acts 2:34). Such was the Faith of the Three Youths in the fiery furnace when they were saved by the Son of God (Dan. 3:25); and of the holy Prophet Daniel, who had the vision of the two natures of Jesus Christ in the Mystery of the Incarnation when the Son of Man came to the Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:13). This is why the Lord, addressing the (biologically incontestable) posterity of Abraham, said: “If you were the children of Abraham, you would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39), and these “works” are to believe on Him Whom God has sent (John 6:29).

Who then are the posterity of Abraham? The sons of Isaac according to the flesh, or the sons of Hagar the Egyptian? Is Isaac or Ishmael the posterity of Abraham? What does the Holy Scripture teach by the mouth of the divine Apostle? Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed: which is Christ (Gal. 3:16). And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:29). It is then in Jesus Christ that Abraham became a father of many nations (Gen. 17:5; Rom. 4:17). After such promises and such certainties, what meaning does carnal descent from Abraham have? According to Holy Scripture, Isaac is considered as the seed or posterity, but only as the image of Jesus Christ. As opposed to Ishmael (the son of Hagar; Gen. 16:1ff), Isaac was born in the miraculous “freedom” of a sterile mother, in old age and against the laws of nature, similar to our Savior, Who was miraculously born of a Virgin. He climbed the hill of Moriah just as Jesus climbed Calvary, bearing on his shoulders the wood of sacrifice. An angel delivered Isaac from death, just as an angel rolled away the stone to show us that the tomb was empty, that the Risen One was no longer there. At the hour of prayer, Isaac met Rebecca in the plain and led her into the tent of his mother Sarah, just as Jesus shall meet His Church on the clouds in order to bring Her into the heavenly mansions, the New Jerusalem, the much desired homeland.

No! We do not in the least have the same God that non-Christians have. The sine qua non for knowing the Father, is the Son: He that has seen Me has seen the Father; no man comes unto the Father, but by Me (John 14:6,9). Our God is a God Incarnate, Whom we have seen with our eyes, and our hands have touched (1 John 1:1). The immaterial became material for our salvation, as St. John Damascene says, and He has revealed Himself in us. But when did He reveal Himself among the present-day Jews and Moslems, so that we might suppose that they know God? If they have a knowledge of God outside of Jesus Christ, then Christ was incarnate, died, and rose in vain.

No, they do not know the Father. They have conceptions about the Father; but every conception about God is an idol, because a conception is the product of our imagination, a creation of a god in our own image and likeness. For us Christians God is inconceivable, incomprehensible, indescribable, and immaterial, as St. Basilios the Great says. For our salvation He became (to the extent that we are united to Him) conceived, described and material, by revelation in the Mystery of the Incarnation of His Son. To Him be the glory unto the ages of ages. Amen. And this is why Saint Cyprian of Carthage affirms that he who does not have the Church for Mother, does not have God for Father.

May God preserve us from the Apostasy and from the coming of Antichrist, the preliminary signs of which are multiplying from day to day. May He preserve us from the great affliction which even the elect would not be able to bear without the Grace of Him Who will cut short these days. And may He preserve us in the “small flock,” the “remainder according to the election of Grace,” so that we like Abraham might rejoice at the Light of His Face, by the prayers of the Most Holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, of all the heavenly hosts, the cloud of witnesses, prophets, martyrs, hierarchs, evangelists, and confessors who have been faithful unto death, who have shed their blood for Christ, who have begotten us by the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the waters of Baptism. We are their sons — weak, sinful, and unworthy, to be sure; but we will not stretch forth our hands toward a strange god. Amen.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali:The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World.

From one end of the muslim world to the other, Christians are being murdered for their faith.

At least 13 people were killed and 140 injured on March 8, 2011, when participants in a large Christian demonstration in a Cairo slum were attacked by residents of a surrounding neighborhood., Mohamed Omar / EPA-Landov.

We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in the Arab Spring’s fight against tyranny. But, in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives.

Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm.

The portrayal of Muslims as victims or heroes is at best partially accurate. In recent years the violent oppression of Christian minorities has become the norm in Muslim-majority nations stretching from West Africa and the Middle East to South Asia and Oceania. In some countries it is governments and their agents that have burned churches and imprisoned parishioners.

In others, rebel groups and vigilantes have taken matters into their own hands, murdering Christians and driving them from regions where their roots go back centuries.

The media’s reticence on the subject no doubt has several sources. One may be fear of provoking additional violence. Another is most likely the influence of lobbying groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation—a kind of United Nations of Islam centered in Saudi Arabia—and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Over the past decade, these and similar groups have been remarkably successful in persuading leading public figures and journalists in the West to think of each and every example of perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as an expression of a systematic and sinister derangement called “Islamophobia”—a term that is meant to elicit the same moral disapproval as xenophobia or homophobia.

But a fair-minded assessment of recent events and trends leads to the conclusion that the scale and severity of Islamophobia pales in comparison with the bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other. The conspiracy of silence surrounding this violent expression of religious intolerance has to stop.

Nothing less than the fate of Christianity—and ultimately of all religious minorities—in the Islamic world is at stake.

From blasphemy laws to brutal murders to bombings to mutilations and the burning of holy sites, Christians in so many nations live in fear. In Nigeria many have suffered all of these forms of persecution. The nation has the largest Christian minority (40 percent) in proportion to its population (160 million) of any majority-Muslim country.

For years, Muslims and Christians in Nigeria have lived on the edge of civil war. Islamist radicals provoke much if not most of the tension. The newest such organization is an outfit that calls itself Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sacrilege.” Its aim is to establish Sharia in Nigeria. To this end it has stated that it will kill all Christians in the country.

In the month of January 2012 alone, Boko Haram was responsible for 54 deaths. In 2011 its members killed at least 510 people and burned down or destroyed more than 350 churches in 10 northern states. They use guns, gasoline bombs, and even machetes, shouting “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great!”) while launching attacks on unsuspecting citizens. They have attacked churches, a Christmas Day gathering (killing 42 Roman Catholics), beer parlors, a town hall, beauty salons, and banks.

They have so far focused on killing Christian clerics, politicians, students, policemen, and soldiers, as well as Muslim clerics who condemn their mayhem. While they started out by using crude methods like hit-and-run assassinations from the back of motorbikes in 2009, the latest AP reports indicate that the group’s recent attacks show a new level of potency and sophistication.

The Christophobia that has plagued Sudan for years takes a very different form. The authoritarian government of the Sunni Muslim north of the country has for decades tormented Christian and animist minorities in the south. What has often been described as a civil war is in practice the Sudanese government’s sustained persecution of religious minorities.

This persecution culminated in the infamous genocide in Darfur that began in 2003. Even though Sudan’s Muslim president, Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which charged him with three counts of genocide, and despite the euphoria that greeted the semi-independence he granted to South Sudan in July of last year, the violence has not ended.

In South Kordofan, Christians are still subjected to aerial bombardment, targeted killings, the kidnapping of children, and other atrocities. Reports from the United Nations indicate that between 53,000 and 75,000 innocent civilians have been displaced from their residences and that houses and buildings have been looted and destroyed.

Both kinds of persecution—undertaken by extragovernmental groups as well as by agents of the state—have come together in Egypt in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. On Oct. 9 of last year in the Maspero area of Cairo, Coptic Christians (who make up roughly 11 percent of Egypt’s population of 81 million) marched in protest against a wave of attacks by Islamists—including church burnings, rapes, mutilations, and murders—that followed the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship.

During the protest, Egyptian security forces drove their trucks into the crowd and fired on protesters, crushing and killing at least 24 and wounding more than 300 people. By the end of the year more than 200,000 Copts had fled their homes in anticipation of more attacks. With Islamists poised to gain much greater power in the wake of recent elections, their fears appear to be justified.

Egypt is not the only Arab country that seems bent on wiping out its Christian minority. Since 2003 more than 900 Iraqi Christians (most of them Assyrians) have been killed by terrorist violence in Baghdad alone, and 70 churches have been burned, according to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA).

Thousands of Iraqi Christians have fled as a result of violence directed specifically at them, reducing the number of Christians in the country to fewer than half a million from just over a million before 2003. AINA understandably describes this as an “incipient genocide or ethnic cleansing of Assyrians in Iraq.”

The 2.8 million Christians who live in Pakistan make up only about 1.6 percent of the population of more than 170 million. As members of such a tiny minority, they live in perpetual fear not only of Islamist terrorists but also of Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws. There is, for example, the notorious case of a Christian woman who was sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

When international pressure persuaded Punjab Gov. Salman Taseer to explore ways of freeing her, he was killed by his bodyguard. The bodyguard was then celebrated by prominent Muslim clerics as a hero—and though he was sentenced to death late last year, the judge who imposed the sentence now lives in hiding, fearing for his life.

Such cases are not unusual in Pakistan. The nation’s blasphemy laws are routinely used by criminals and intolerant Pakistani Muslims to bully religious minorities. Simply to declare belief in the Christian Trinity is considered blasphemous, since it contradicts mainstream Muslim theological doctrines. When a Christian group is suspected of transgressing the blasphemy laws, the consequences can be brutal.

Just ask the members of the Christian aid group World Vision. Its offices were attacked in the spring of 2010 by 10 gunmen armed with grenades, leaving six people dead and four wounded. A militant Muslim group claimed responsibility for the attack on the grounds that World Vision was working to subvert Islam. (In fact, it was helping the survivors of a major earthquake.)

Not even Indonesia—often touted as the world’s most tolerant, democratic, and modern majority-Muslim nation—has been immune to the fevers of Christophobia. According to data compiled by the Christian Post, the number of violent incidents committed against religious minorities (and at 7 percent of the population, Christians are the country’s largest minority) increased by nearly 40 percent, from 198 to 276, between 2010 and 2011.

The litany of suffering could be extended. In Iran dozens of Christians have been arrested and jailed for daring to worship outside of the officially sanctioned church system. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, deserves to be placed in a category of its own.

Despite the fact that more than a million Christians live in the country as foreign workers, churches and even private acts of Christian prayer are banned; to enforce these totalitarian restrictions, the religious police regularly raid the homes of Christians and bring them up on charges of blasphemy in courts where their testimony carries less legal weight than a Muslim’s.

Even in Ethiopia, where Christians make up a majority of the population, church burnings by members of the Muslim minority have become a problem.

It should be clear from this catalog of atrocities that anti-Christian violence is a major and underreported problem. No, the violence isn’t centrally planned or coordinated by some international Islamist agency.

In that sense the global war on Christians isn’t a traditional war at all. It is, rather, a spontaneous expression of anti-Christian animus by Muslims that transcends cultures, regions, and ethnicities.

As Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, pointed out in an interview with Newsweek, Christian minorities in many majority-Muslim nations have “lost the protection of their societies.” This is especially so in countries with growing radical Islamist (Salafist) movements. In those nations, vigilantes often feel they can act with impunity—and government inaction often proves them right.

The old idea of the Ottoman Turks—that non-Muslims in Muslim societies deserve protection (albeit as second-class citizens)—has all but vanished from wide swaths of the Islamic world, and increasingly the result is bloodshed and oppression.

So let us please get our priorities straight. Yes, Western governments should protect Muslim minorities from intolerance. And of course we should ensure that they can worship, live, and work freely and without fear.

It is the protection of the freedom of conscience and speech that distinguishes free societies from unfree ones. But we also need to keep perspective about the scale and severity of intolerance. Cartoons, films, and writings are one thing; knives, guns, and grenades are something else entirely.

As for what the West can do to help religious minorities in Muslim-majority societies, my answer is that it needs to begin using the billions of dollars in aid it gives to the offending countries as leverage.

Then there is trade and investment. Besides diplomatic pressure, these aid and trade relationships can and should be made conditional on the protection of the freedom of conscience and worship for all citizens.

Instead of falling for overblown tales of Western Islamophobia, let’s take a real stand against the Christophobia infecting the Muslim world. Tolerance is for everyone—except the intolerant.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and escaped an arranged marriage by immigrating to the Netherlands in 1992. She served as a member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006 and is currently a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Her autobiography, Infidel, was a 2007 New York Times bestseller.

Muslim persecution of Christians around the world.

The so-called «Arab Spring» continues to transition into a «Christian Winter,» including in those nations undergoing democratic change, such as Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis dominated the elections—unsurprisingly so, considering the Obama administration has actually been training Islamists for elections.

Arab regimes not overthrown by the «Arab Spring» are under mounting international pressure; these include the secular Assad regime of Syria, where Christians, who comprise some 10% of the population, are fearful of the future, having seen the effects of democracy in neighboring nations such as Iraq, where, since the fall of the Saddam regime, Christians have been all but decimated.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that «Christians are being refused refugee status [in the U.S.] and face persecution and many times certain death for their religious beliefs under Sharia, while whole Muslim communities are entering the U.S. by the tens of thousands per month despite the fact that they face no religious persecution.»

Categorized by theme, November’s batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed according to theme and in alphabetical order by country, not necessarily severity.



Ethiopia: More than 500 Muslim students assisted by Muslim police burned down a church, while screaming «Allahu Akbar» (and thus clearly positing their attack in an Islamic framework); the church was built on land used by Christians for more than 60 years, but now a court has ruled that it was built «without a permit.»

Indonesia: Hundreds of «hard-line» Muslims rallied to decry the «arrogance» of a beleaguered church that, though kept shuttered by authorities, has been ordered open by the Supreme Court. Church members have been forced to hold services on the sidewalk, even as Indonesia’s leading Muslim clerics warned Christians that it would be «wise and sensible» for the church to yield to «the feelings of the local believers, specifically Muslims.»

Iran: The nation’s minister of intelligence said that house churches in his country are a threat to Iranian youth, and acknowledged a new series of efforts to fight the growth of the house church movement in Iran.

Nigeria: Islamic militants shouting «Allahu Akbar» carried out coordinated attacks on churches and police stations, including opening fire on a congregation of «mostly women and children,» killing dozens. The attacks occurred in a region where hundreds of people were earlier killed during violence that erupted after President Jonathan, a Christian, beat his closet Muslim rival in April elections.

Turkey: The ancient Aghia Sophia church has been turned into a mosque. Playing an important role in ecumenical history, the church was first transformed into a mosque in 1331 by the jihadist Ottoman state. As a sign of secularization, however, in 1920 it was turned into a museum. Its transformation again into a mosque is a reflection of Turkey’s re-Islamization.


Apostasy and Proselytism

Afghanis around the world are being threatened for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity. One exile, who changed his name after fleeing Afghanistan in 2007 when an Islamic court issued an arrest warrant for his conversion, is still receiving threats: «They [Afghan officials] were very angry and saying that they will hit me by knife and kill me.» Even in distant Norway last September, an Afghan convert to Christianity was scalded with boiling water and acid at a refugee processing center: «If you do not return to Islam, we will kill you,» his attackers told him.

Algeria: Five Christians were jailed for «worshiping in an unregistered location.» International Christian Concern (ICC), an advocacy group investigating the case, states that the five Christians are charged with «proselytizing,» «unauthorized worship,» and «insulting Islam.»

Iran: Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who caught the attention of the world after being imprisoned and awaiting execution for leaving Islam, remains behind bars as officials continue to come up with excuses to force him to renounce Christianity, the latest being that «everyone is [born] a Muslim.» A Christian couple «who had been snatched and illegally-detained» by authorities for eight months without any formal charges, were finally released, beaten again, and have since fled the country. While imprisoned, they were «ridiculed and debased» for their Christian faith.

Kashmir: Muslim police arrested and beat seven converts from Islam in an attempt to obtain a confession against the priest who baptized them. After the grand mufti alleged that Muslim youths were alternatively being «lured» and «forced» to convert by an Anglican priest «in exchange for money,» the priest was arrested in a «humiliating» manner. Recently released, his life is now «in serious danger.»

Kenya: A gang of Muslims stabbed and beat with iron rods a 25-year-old Somali refugee, breaking his teeth; he was then stripped naked, covered with dirt, and left unconscious near a church. Although he was raised Christian since age 7, he was attacked on the «assumption that as a Somali he was born into Islam and was therefore an apostate deserving of death.»

Nigeria: The Muslim militant group, Boko Haram, executed two children of an ex-terrorist and «murderer» because he converted to Christianity. When still a terrorist, he «was poised to slit the throat of a Christian victim» when «he was suddenly struck with the weight of the evil he was about to commit.» After finding he converted to Christianity, «Boko Haram members invaded his home, kidnapped his two children and informed him that they were going to execute them in retribution for his disloyalty to Islam. Clutching his phone, the man heard the sound of the guns that murdered his children.»


General Killings

Egypt: After a Christian inadvertently killed a Muslim in a quarrel begun by the latter, thousands of Muslims rose in violence, «collectively punishing» the Copts of the village. Two Christians «not party to the altercation» were killed; others were stabbed and critically wounded. As usual, «after killing the Copts, Muslims went on a rampage, looting and burning Christian-owned homes and businesses.» Even so, «Muslims insist they have not yet avenged» the death of their co-religionist, and there are fears of «a wholesale massacre of Copts.» Many Christians have fled their homes or are in hiding.

Kenya: Suspected Islamic extremists, apparently angered at the use of wine during communion—Islam forbids alcohol—threw a grenade near a church compound killing two, including an 8-year-old girl, and critically wounding three others. The pastor of another congregation received a message threatening him either to flee the region «within 48 hours or you see bomb blast taking your life and we know your house, Christians will see war. Don’t take it so lightly. We are for your neck.»

Nigeria: In the latest round of violence, soon after mosque prayers were heard, hundreds of armed Muslims invaded Christian villages, «like a swarm of bees,» killing, looting, and destroying virtually everything in sight; at the end of their four-hour rampage, some 150 people had been killed—at least 130 of them Christians. Another 45 Christians were also killed by another set of «Allahu Akbar!» shouting Muslims who burned, looted, and killed. Hundreds of people are still missing; the attacks have included the bombing of at least ten church buildings. Nearly all the Christians in the area have fled the region.

Pakistan: A 25 year-old Christian was shot dead by «an unidentified gunman in what his family believes was a radical Muslim group’s targeting of a Christian.» According to the son, «We firmly believe that my father was killed because of his preaching of the Bible, because there is no other reason.» He began to receive threats «after voicing his desire to start a welfare organization for the poor Christians» of the region.



(General Abuse, Debasement, and Suppression of non-Muslim «Second-Class Citizens»)

November’s major instances of dhimmitude come from two Muslim nations notorious for violating Christian rights—Egypt and Pakistan—neither of which is even cited in the U.S. State Department’s recent International Religious Freedom report:

Egypt: Following October’s Maspero massacre, when the military killed dozens of Christians, some run over intentionally by armored vehicles, Egypt’s military prosecutor detained 34 Christians, including teens under 16, on charges of «inciting violence, carrying arms and insulting the armed forces»; many of the detainees were not even at the scene and were just collected from the streets for «being a Christian.» Three are under 16 years of age, including one who, after having an operation to extract a bullet from his jaw, was chained to his hospital bed. Hundreds of Christians also came under attack from Muslims throwing stones and bottles, after the Christians protested against the violence at Maspero: «Supporters of an Islamist candidate for upcoming parliamentary election joined in the attack on the Copts.» Meanwhile, a senior leader of the Salafi party, which came in second after the Muslim Brotherhood in recent elections, blamed Christians for their own massacre, calling «Allah’s curse on them.» Muslim Brotherhood leaders asserted that only «drunks, druggies, and adulterers» are against the implementation of Sharia—a clear reference to Egypt’s Christians.

Pakistan: A new U.S. government commission report indicates that Pakistani school textbooks foster intolerance of Christians, Hindus, and all non-Muslims, while most teachers view religious minorities as «enemies of Islam.» «Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful,» notes the report. Accordingly, in an attempted land-grab, Muslim police and cohorts of a retired military official, beat two Christian women with «batons and punches,» inflicting a serious wound to one of the women’s eyes after the women spoke up in defense of their land, and shot at Christians who came to help the women. «In the last few years Muslims have made several attempts to seize the land from the Christians, usually succeeding because Christians are a marginalized minority.» Likewise, under a «false charge of theft,» a Christian couple was arrested and severely beaten by police; the pregnant wife was «kicked and punched» even as her interrogators threatened «to kill her unborn fetus.» A policeman offered to remove the theft charges if the husband would only «renounce Christianity and convert to Islam.»


Roman Catholic “iconography”…

The Mexican “Virgin of Guadalupe” embracing (!) Pope John Paul II.

Discoveries of ‘Biblical Proportions’.

Archaeological Evidence for Sodom: Recent Findings Shed Light on Discoveries of ‘Biblical Proportions’

By Brian Nixon
Special to ASSIST News Service

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS) — There are few events in a person’s life where one can say that they have changed a society’s understanding of history. For Dr. Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University in Albuquerque, this just may be the case.

Upon his recent return from the Tall el-Hammam dig in Jordan, Dr. Collins was full of fascinating facts and possible historic findings.

But before I get into his recent finds, allow me to review what occurred during last year’s dig.

During excavations.

In my article “Sodom Found?” I wrote, “According to Collins, ‘The traditional “Southern Theory” site of Sodom does not have the geographical parallels described in the [biblical] text. Namely: 1. One can see the whole area from the hills above Jericho (Bethel/Ai), 2. It must be a well-watered place (described “like Egypt”), 3. It has a river running through it (the Jordan), and 4. It must follow the travel route of Lot” (who went to the other side of the Jordan, eastward, away from Jericho.)’”

What does all this mean? Simple: The traditional sites attributed as Sodom may be incorrect.

With this, Dr. Collins and his team began digging at a new site, Tall el-Hammam, which corresponded to several factors. Dr. Collins summarized the end result: “To start with, the Tall el-Hammam site has twenty-five geographical indicators that align with the description in Genesis. Compare this with something well known—like Jerusalem—that has only sixteen. Other sites have only five or six. So this site has a greater number of indicators than any other Old Testament site. That is truly amazing.

“Second, our findings—pottery, architecture, and destruction layers—fit the timeframe profile. Meaning we should expect to find items like what we are finding from the Middle Bronze Age. This is exactly what we are uncovering.

“Lastly, we have secured internationally recognized experts to review our findings. One such person is Dr. Robert Mullins; then there are our colleagues from the Department of Antiquities in Jordan. Dr. Mullins is an expert in Bronze Age pottery, and there are many others as well. My ceramic expertise also covers the Bronze Age. Their conclusions on the matter reflect that our findings are correct. Once again, this is incredible.”

“Though we are still digging and uncovering a plethora of material and artifacts, and much research still needs to be conducted, I feel that the evidence for this being the ancient city of Sodom is increasing by the day.”

The bottom line was that the findings of Dr. Collins’ team in Jordan were producing great results—all pointing to the city of Sodom.

Now let’s fast-forward a year.

As I met Dr. Collins at Solomon’s Porch Café (aptly named title for our meeting) in Albuquerque, I could tell something exciting was afoot.
We sat down with our tea and coffee and began to chat.

I started by asking some simple questions: “How long was this particular dig?”

“The dig was from December 6, 2010 through January 28, 2011,” Dr. Collins replied.

Did you bring a team?

“Yes, 120 of us split between Jordanian workers and staff, Trinity Southwest University staff, and volunteers from around the world.”

Was the location in the exact place as last year? I asked.

“Yes. We call this the Premier location. What made this dig exciting, however,” Dr. Collin’s shifted in his chair with enthusiasm as he continued, “Is that the Director General of Antiquities spent a good deal of time with us.”

“You see, in Jordan, the news of this find has created large interest. As a matter of fact, one of the leading archaeologists from Jordan stated: ‘This is perhaps the most important archaeological discovery of the modern era.’”

“What the Jordanian’s—and many others—are beginning to see is the mounting evidence for Sodom,” Dr. Collins concluded.

Beyond last year’s discoveries, what new evidence are you referring to? I enthusiastically wondered aloud.

“To put it simply, we have uncovered evidence of a massive, violent destruction.”

Such as? I prodded him.

“To begin with, ash and destruction layers in the terminal Bronze Age strata MB-2,” Dr. Collins replied.

He continued: “But the real big news is that we found skeletal remains that demonstrate a quick, violent death.”

Amazed, I asked for the background of this discovery.

“It began three years ago when we found some skeletal remains. Like many archaeological sites, we didn’t mention the find publicly because of the potential problems involved with such remains. However, with these recent finds, we had to say something because it was so monumental.

“It began when one of our doctoral students, Carrall Kobs, was supervising on site. She discovered two sets of human remains, then another. Concerned, she called me over. I asked her to walk me through the discovery and excavation process, asking important questions along the way. What we found was ash, debris, and destruction material with no indication of insertion cuts for graves or primitive burial indentations. They weren’t burials.

“To add further intrigue, this archaeological stratum was clearly within the Middle Bronze Age horizon. It was the terminal destruction of the city.”

Tell me more about the skeletons, I asked.

“Two of our osteologists, Dr. John Leslie, PhD, MD, and Dr. John Moore, PhD, DDS, looked over the bones. The area they concentrated on was the bottom half of the body, including the pelvis region, legs, and feet—the upper portions on two of them were missing. The initial results were amazing and quite exciting archaeologically—but sad in how the people died. They found the bodies splayed out, face down, joints twisted, toes hyper-extended, with many signs of violent burial within collapsing debris. In short, the bodies were extremely traumatized in their death.

“Shortly after, we discovered a child body one meter north. The child’s skeleton showed the same destruction, demonstrating traumatic demise.”

How so? I was quite curious.

“The legs were flexed in the wrong way, the knee joints were ripped apart, one arm was broken with left palm up, and the other arm was smashed under the pelvis. In all, it showed the signs of a sudden, ghastly death.”

Any other skeletal remains? I prodded.

“Yes. We’re still investigating these. But generally speaking, skeletal remains were found throughout the area, following the same patterns. One skeleton seems to be crouching, as if in fear, protecting itself from the destruction.”

So what can one conclude from all this? I asked.

“It may be too early to say, but initial evidence points towards a large-scale destruction from a catastrophic event. I say this because, in that area, the skeletal remains were traumatized by an east-to-west directional event, demonstrating that the catastrophe came from a particular compass point.”

Naively, I asked what they did with the skeletons.

“We took extreme care and precautions in working with the skeletons, going above and beyond protocol. Our goal was to ensure the safety and preservation of all the remains embedded in the ground.”

This is a significant find, I agreed. But is there more?

“Yes, much more. In the same geographical matrix we found ash, pottery, mud bricks, and objects, all pointing to a Middle Bronze Age time frame—the time of Abram and Lot.

“Also, we think we may have found the precinct of the temple as well. As of now, we’ve found a 100×100 meter area in the lower region of the tall [sometimes spelled tell]. One of the main walls is three meters thick and twenty meters long. If what we’re looking at is the temple, it appears that it may be the south wall.”

This all sounds quite amazing, I responded. And wanting to know “what next?” I asked if they were working with outside experts.

“Throughout the whole expedition we have been working with outside experts. On this particular dig Dr. Leen Ritmeyer, a world-renowned expert in ancient architecture has been assisting us. He’s done publication drawings and renderings for over 70 excavations in Israel, so we’re really glad to have him at Tall el-Hammam.

“Initially he was very skeptical of the Sodom designation for Tall el-Hammam. But with his recent visits and work at the site, his attitude may be changing toward a more positive position. In all, it would be safe to say that Dr. Ritmeyer would say that Tall el-Hammam is the best candidate for Sodom. I know he’s done several presentations on Hammam as Sodom.

“Additionally, Dr. Leslie has written up a scholarly assessment of the skeletal remains, to be published with our Season Six Report in major archaeological journal. Furthermore, our TeHEP Conservator had the bones infused with plastic for preservation purposes. The child bones have been collected within their ash matrix, and we’re waiting for carbon 14 test results, and other tests.

“So, in all, we’re using outside help, and we have many scientists working on our dig staff and in various analytical capacities—botanists, faunal experts, geologists, ceramic typologists, climatologists, chemists, materials scientists, you name it.”

By now, Dr. Collins and I have been talking for over an hour. I am engaged with every word and sentence as he describes the site. And even further, I marvel at what his team is uncovering.

Before I let him go, I have one more question. And the answer—once again—amazes me.

Is there anything unusual about Tall el-Hammam that you didn’t expect when you began digging over five years ago?

“You won’t believe this, Brian, but something quite fascinating has occurred during the past two dig seasons. We’ve found a vast amount of evidence that Tall el-Hammam and its surrounding area contains the largest and best preserved necroscape in the region. Or put in layman terms: an ancient landscape altered and designed for astronomical as well as religious purposes.”

Intrigued, I asked, how so?

“With our recent discoveries we found a large number of megalithic features: standing stones, menhirs, astronomical alignments, dolmens, henges, stone circles, and a host of other structures made of very large stones. Our staff anthropologist, Lucy Clayton, is collaborating with us on the interpretation of these. We’ve also got two of our senior field archaeologists, Dr. Steve McAllister and Dr. David Maltsberger, and an outside astronomer, working on the significance of our stone alignments.

“To add more fascination to this, we were on site during solar and lunar events, which showed the ancient inhabitants had a clear understanding of astronomical occurrences.”

How so? I inquired.

“One example is that the large standing stones—menhirs— are aiming at the temple. Another is that many of the megaliths give indication of an astronomical calendar, particularly for solar alignments. We’ve already tracked some of these firsthand.

“Though we’re just beginning this area of study, the findings are fascinating. In all of this we may also have found the reason that Joseph and his large Egyptian entourage mourned Jacob’s death in this same location for seven days, in Genesis 50. You know, the area of Tall el-Hammam is biblical Abel Mizraim and Abel Shittim. Abel means ‘place of mourning’. That’s what our megalithic field is—a sacred landscape purposefully constructed for the mourning of ancestors. It’s quite probable that the area became known as ‘Abel’, the place of mourning, after the destruction of Sodom and the Cities of the Plain. Very exciting stuff!”

Tossing out one more question (breaking my promise for one final question), I asked how Dr. Collins would summarize the Tall el-Hammam site.

“Well, in my opinion, we have found the city of destruction: Sodom. But beyond this, I believe this site is one of the best pictures of a Bronze Age city-state ever discovered and studied. The Tall el-Hammam is helping us develop new constructs for landscape anthropology, archaeological methods, and a mountain of clues to ancient man’s beliefs and actions. It may well turn out to be one of the greatest discoveries in modern archaeology. Actually, it already is.”

To learn more about Dr. Collins discussion and some of his findings, you can watch an interview he conducted with Dr. Skip Heitzig, Senior Pastor of Calvary of Albuquerque, by clicking here:


Is the Papacy a Church?


“We have cut the Latins off from us for no other reason than that they are not only schismatics, but also heretics. For this reason it is wholly improper to unite with them.” – St. Mark Evgenikos of Ephesus (1392-1444)

“Is the Papacy a Church?” by Alexander Kalomiros. It is an excellent article concerning the Papacy. It was printed in:TYPOS, June-July issues, 1965, Athens, Greece.

You may download the full article here.






The Sygillion of the Pan-Orthodox Council of Constantinople, 1583.


of the Pan-Orthodox Council of Constantinople, 1583
To all the genuine Christian children of the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ of the East in Trigovyst and in all places, be grace and peace and mercy from Almighty God.

Not a little distress took possession of that Ark of old, when, storm-tossed, it was borne upon the waters; and if the Lord God, remembering Noah, had not in His good will calmed the water, there would have been no hope of salvation in it. In a like manner with the new Ark of our Church, the heretics have raised up a relentless war against us, and we have deemed it well to leave behind the present tome against them so that with the things written in it you may be able more surely to defend your Orthodoxy. But in order that the document may not be burdensome to simple people, we have decided to set forth the entire subject to you in simple speech as follows:

From old Rome have come certain persons who learned there to think like Latins; and the bad thing is that from being Byzantines born and bred in our own parts, they not only have changed their faith, but they also battle the Orthodox and true dogmas of the Eastern Church which Christ Himself and the divine Apostles and the Holy Councils of the Holy Fathers delivered to us. Whereupon, having cut them off as rotten members, we order:

I) Whosoever does not confess with heart and mouth that he is a child of the Eastern Church baptized in an Orthodox manner, and that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father, essentially and hypostatically, as Christ says in the Gospel, although He proceeds from the Father and the Son in time, let such a one be out of our Church and let him be anathematized.

II) Whosoever does not confess that in the Mystery of Holy Communion laymen should commune from two kinds both of the precious Body and Blood, but says that it is enough to receive only the Body, for the Blood is also there, even though Christ has spoken and has given each one separately, and they do not keep it, let such be anathematized.

III) Whosoever says that our Lord Jesus Christ at the Mystical Last Supper used unleavened bread as do the Hebrews and not leavened bread, that is, raised bread, let him be far from us and under the anathema as one who thinks like a Jew and as one who introduces the doctrine of Apollinaris and of the Armenians into our Church, on which account let him be anathematized a second time.

IV) Whosoever says that when our Christ and God comes to judge the souls together with the bodies, but comes in order to decide only for the body, anathema to him.
V) Whosoever says that when they die the souls of the Christians who repented in this life but did not do their penance go to purgatory – which is a Greek myth – where fire and torment purify them, and they think that there is no eternal torment, as did Origen, and give cause by this to sin freely, let such a one have the anathema.

VI) Whosoever says that the Pope is head of the Church and not Christ, and that he has authority to admit into Paradise with his letters, and can forgive as many sins as will be committed by one who with money receives an indulgence from him, let such a one have the anathema.

VII) Whosoever does not follow the customs of the Church which the seven Holy Ecumenical Councils have decreed, and the Holy Pascha and calendar which they enacted well for us to follow, but wants to follow the newly-invented Paschalion and the new calendar of the atheist astronomers of the Pope; and opposing them, wishes to overthrow and destroy the doctrines and customs of the Church which we have inherited from our Fathers, let any such have the anathema and let him be outside of the Church and the Assembly of the Faithful.

VIII) We exhort all pious and Orthodox Christians: remain in those things which you learned and in which you were born and bred, and when the times and circumstances call for it, shed your very blood in order both to keep the Faith given us by our Fathers and to keep your confession. Beware of such people and take care, that our Lord Jesus Christ help you. May the blessing of our humility be with you all. Amen.

The 1,583rd year from the birth of the God-man, Indiction 12, November 20th.
+JEREMIAS of Constantinople
+SYLVESTER of Alexandria
+SOPHRONIOS of Jerusalem
And the rest of the bishops of the Synod who were present

The Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God.

The Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God

by Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco


 The Veneration of the Mother of God During Her Earthly Life

FROM APOSTOLIC TIMES and to our days all who truly love Christ give veneration to Her Who gave birth to Him, raised Him and protected Him in the days of His youth. If God the Father chose Her, God the Holy Spirit descended upon Her, and God the Son dwelt in Her, submitted to Her in the days of His youth, was concerned for Her when hanging on the Cross, then should not everyone who confesses the Holy Trinity venerate Her?


Still in the days of Her earthly life the friends of Christ, the Apostles, manifested a great concern and devotion for the Mother of the Lord, especially the Evangelist John the Theologian, who, fulfilling the will of Her Divine Son, took Her to himself and took care for Her as for a mother from the time when the Lord uttered to him from the Cross the words: “Behold thy mother.”

The Evangelist Luke painted a number of images of Her, some together with the Pre-eternal Child, others without Him. When he brought them and showed them to the Most Holy Virgin, She approved them and said: “The grace of My Son shall be with them,” and repeated the hymn She had once sung in the house of Elizabeth: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and My spirit hath rejoiced in God My Savior.”

However, the Virgin Mary during Her earthly life avoided the glory which belonged to Her as the Mother of the Lord. She preferred to live in quiet and prepare Herself for the departure into eternal life. To the last day of Her earthly life She took care to prove worthy of the Kingdom of Her Son, and before death She prayed that He might deliver Her soul from the malicious spirits that meet human souls on the way to heaven and strive to seize them so as to take them away with them to hades. The Lord fulfilled the prayer of His Mother and in the hour of Her death Himself came from heaven with a multitude of angels to receive Her soul.


Since the Mother of God had also prayed that She might bid farewell to the Apostles, the Lord gathered for Her death all the Apostles, except Thomas, and they were brought by an invisible power on that day to Jerusalem from all the ends of the inhabited world, where they were preaching, and they were present at Her blessed translation into eternal life.


The Apostles gave Her most pure body over to burial with sacred hymns, and on the third day they opened the tomb so as once more to venerate the remains of the Mother of God together with the Apostle Thomas, who had arrived then in Jerusalem. But they did not find the body in the tomb and in perplexity they returned to their own place; and then, during their meal, the Mother of God Herself appeared to them in the air, shining with heavenly light, and informed them that Her Son had glorified Her body also, and She, resurrected, stood before His Throne. At the same time, She promised to be with them always.


The Apostles greeted the Mother of God with great joy and began to venerate Her not only as the Mother of their beloved Teacher and Lord, but also as their heavenly helper, as a protector of Christians and intercessor for the whole human race before the Righteous Judge. And everywhere the Gospel of Christ was preached, His Most Pure Mother also began to be glorified.


The First Enemies of the Veneration of the Mother of God


THE MORE the faith of Christ spread and the Name of the Savior of the world was glorified on earth, and together with Him also She Who was vouchsafed to be the Mother of the God-Man, the more did the hatred of the enemies of Christ increase towards Her. Mary was the Mother of Jesus. She manifested a hitherto unheard of example of purity and righteousness, and furthermore, now departed from this life, She was a mighty support for Christians, even though invisible to bodily eyes. Therefore all who hated Jesus Christ and did not believe in Him, who did not understand His teaching, or to be more precise, did not wish to understand as the Church understood, who wished to replace the preaching of Christ with their own human reasonings—all of these transferred their hatred for Christ, for the Gospel and the Church, to the Most Pure Virgin Mary. They wished to belittle the Mother, so as thereby to destroy faith also in Her Son, to create a false picture of Her among men in order to have the opportunity to rebuild the whole Christian teaching on a different foundation. In the womb of Mary, God and man were joined. She was the One Who served as it were as the ladder for the Son of God, Who descended from heaven. To strike a blow at Her veneration means to strike Christianity at the root, to destroy it in its very foundation.


And the very beginning, of Her heavenly glory was marked on earth by an outburst of malice and hatred toward Her by unbelievers. When, after Her holy repose, the Apostles were carrying Her body for burial in Gethsemane, to the place chosen by her, John the Theologian went ahead carrying the branch from paradise which the Archangel Gabriel had brought to the Holy Virgin three days before this when he came from heaven to announce to Her approaching departure to the heavenly mansions.


“When Israel went out of Egypt, and the house of Jacob from among a barbarous people,” chanted Saint Peter from Psalm 113; “Alleluia,” sang the whole assembly of the Apostles together with their disciples, as for example, Dionysius the Areopagite, who likewise had been miraculously transported at that time to Jerusalem. And while this sacred hymn was being sung, which was called by the Jews the “Great Alleluia,” that is, the great “Praise ye the Lord,” one Jewish priest, Athonius, leaped up to the bier and wished to overturn it and throw to the ground the body of the Mother of God.


The brazenness of Athonius was immediately punished: the Archangel Michael with an invisible sword cut off his hand, which remained hanging on the bier. The thunderstruck Athonius, experiencing a tormenting pain, in awareness of his sin, turned in prayer to the Jesus Whom he had hated up to then and he was immediately healed. He did not delay in accepting Christianity and confessing it before his former co-religionists, for which he received from them a martyr’s death. Thus, the attempt to offend the honor of the Mother of God served for Her greater glorification.


The enemies of Christ resolved not to manifest their lack of veneration for the body of the Most Pure One further at that time by crude violence, but their malice did not cease. Seeing that Christianity was spreading everywhere, they began to spread various vile slanders about Christians. They did not spare the name of the Mother of Christ either, and they invented the story that Jesus of Nazareth had come from a base and immoral environment, and that His Mother had associated with a certain Roman soldier.


But here the lie was too evident for this fiction to attract serious attention. The whole family of Joseph the Betrothed and Mary Herself were known well by the inhabitants of Nazareth and the surrounding countryside in their time. Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren: James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? (Matthew 13:54–55; Mark 6:3; Luke 4:22); so said His fellow countrymen in Nazareth, when Christ revealed before them in the synagogue His other-worldly wisdom. In small towns the family matters of everyone are well known; very strict watch was kept then over the purity of married life.


Would people really have behaved with respect towards Jesus, called Him to preach in the synagogue, if He had been born of illegitimate cohabitation? To Mary, the law of Moses would have been applied, which commanded that such persons be stoned to death; and the Pharisees would have taken the opportunity many times to reproach Christ for the conduct of His Mother. But just the contrary was the case. Mary enjoyed great respect; at Cana She was an honored guest at the wedding; and even when Her Son was condemned, no one allowed himself to ridicule or censure His Mother.


Attempts of Jews and Heretics to Dishonor the Ever-Virginity of Mary 

THE JEWISH slanderers soon became convinced that it was almost impossible to dishonor the Mother of Jesus, and on the basis of the information which they themselves possessed it was much easier to prove Her praiseworthy life. Therefore, they abandoned this slander of theirs, which had already been taken up by the pagans (Origen, Against Celsus, I), and strove to prove at least that Mary was not a virgin when She gave birth to Christ. They even said that the prophecies concerning the birth-giving of the Messiah by a virgin had never existed, and that therefore it was entirely in vain that Christians thought to exalt Jesus by the fact that a prophecy was supposedly being fulfilled in Him.

Jewish translators were found (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion) who made new translations of the Old Testament into Greek and in these translated the well-known prophecy of Isaiah thus: Behold, a young woman will conceive (Esaias 7:14)They asserted that the Hebrew word aalma signified “young woman” and not “virgin,” as stood in the sacred translation of the Seventy Translators [Septuagint], where this passage had been translated “Behold, a virgin shall conceive.”


By this new translation they wished to prove that Christians, on the basis of an incorrect translation of the word aalma, thought to ascribe to Mary something completely impossible: a birth-giving without a man; while in actuality the birth of Christ was not in the least different from other human births.


However, the evil intention of the new translators was clearly revealed because by a comparison of various passages in the Bible it became clear that the wordaalma signified precisely “virgin.” And indeed, not only the Jews, but even the pagans, on the basis of their own traditions and various prophecies, expected the Redeemer of the world to be born of a Virgin. The Gospels clearly stated that the Lord Jesus had been born of a Virgin.


How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? asked Mary, Who had given a vow of virginity, of the Archangel Gabriel, who had informed Her of the birth of Christ. And the Angel replied: The Holy Spirit shall come upon Thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow Thee; wherefore also that which is to be born shall be holy, and shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:34–35).


Later the Angel appeared also to righteous Joseph, who had wished to put away Mary from his house, seeing that She had conceived without entering into conjugal cohabitation with him. To Joseph the Archangel Gabriel said: Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is begotten in Her is of the Holy Spirit, and he reminded him of the prophecy of Isaiah that a virgin would conceive (Matthew 1:18–25).


The rod of Aaron that budded, the rock torn away from the mountain without hands, seen by Nebuchadnezzar in a dream and interpreted by the Prophet Daniel, the closed gate seen by the Prophet Ezekiel, and much else in the Old Testament, prefigured the birth-giving of the Virgin. Just as Adam had been created by the Word of God from the unworked and virgin earth, so also the Word of God created flesh for Himself from a virgin womb when the Son of God became the new Adam so as to correct the fall into sin of the first Adam (Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, Book 111).


The seedless birth of Christ can and could be denied only by those who deny the Gospel, whereas the Church of Christ from of old confesses Christ “incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.” But the birth of God from the Ever-Virgin was a stumbling stone for those who wished to call themselves Christians but did not wish to humble themselves in mind and be zealous for purity of life. The pure life of Mary was a reproach for those who were impure also in their thoughts. So as to show themselves Christians, they did not dare to deny that Christ was born of a Virgin, but they began to affirm that Mary remained a virgin only until she brought forth her first-born son, Jesus (Matthew 1:25).


“After the birth of Jesus,” said the false teacher Helvidius in the 4th century, and likewise many others before and after him, “Mary entered into conjugal life with Joseph and had from him children, who are called in the Gospels the brothers and sisters of Christ.” But the word “until” does not signify that Mary remained a virgin only until a certain time. The word “until” and words similar to it often signify eternity. In the Sacred Scripture it is said of Christ: In His days shall shine forth righteousness and an abundance of peace, until the moon be taken away (Psalms 71:7), but this does not mean that when there shall no longer be a moon at the end of the world, God’s righteousness shall no longer be; precisely then, rather, will it triumph. And what does it mean when it says: For He must reign, until He hath put all enemies under His feet? (I Corinthians 15:25). Is the Lord then to reign only for the time until His enemies shall be under His feet? And David, in the fourth Psalm of the Ascents says: As the eyes of the handmaid look unto the hands of her mistress, so do our eyes look unto the Lord ourGod, until He take pity on us (Psalms 122:2). Thus, the Prophet will have his eyes toward the Lord until he obtains mercy, but having obtained it he will direct them to the earth? (Blessed Jerome, On the Ever-Virginity of Blessed Mary) The Savior in the Gospel says to the Apostles (Matthew 28:20): Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Thus, after the end of the world the Lord will step away from His disciples, and then, when they shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel upon twelve thrones, they will not have the promised communion with the Lord? (Blessed Jerome, op. cit.)

It is likewise incorrect to think that the brothers and sisters of Christ were the children of His Most Holy Mother. The names of “brother” and “sister” have several distinct meanings. Signifying a certain kinship between people or their spiritual closeness, these words are used sometimes in a broader and sometimes in a narrower sense. In any case, people are called brothers or sisters if they have a common father and mother, or only a common father or mother; or even if they have different fathers and mothers, if their parents later (having become widowed) have entered into marriage (stepbrothers); or if their parents are bound by close degrees of kinship.


In the Gospel it can nowhere be seen that those who are called there the brothers of Jesus were or were considered the children of His Mother. On the contrary, it was known that James and others were the sons of Joseph, the Betrothed of Mary, who was a widower with children from his first wife (Saint Epiphanius of Cyprus, Panarion, 78). Likewise, the sister of His Mother, Mary the wife of Cleopas, who stood with Her at the Cross of the Lord (John 19:25), also had children, who in view of such close kinship with full right could also be called brothers of the Lord. That the so-called brothers and sisters of the Lord were not the children of His Mother is clearly evident from the fact that the Lord entrusted His Mother before His death to His beloved disciple John. Why should He do this if She had other children besides Him? They themselves would have taken care of Her. The sons of Joseph, the supposed father of Jesus, did not consider themselves obliged to take care of one they regarded as their stepmother, or at least did not have for Her such love as blood children have for parents, and such as the adopted John had for Her.


Thus, a careful study of Sacred Scripture reveals with complete clarity the insubstantiality of the objections against the Ever-Virginity of Mary and puts to shame those who teach differently.


The Nestorian Heresy and the Third Ecumenical Council 

WHEN ALL THOSE who had dared to speak against the sanctity and purity of the Most Holy Virgin Mary had been reduced to silence, an attempt was made to destroy Her veneration as Mother of God. In the 5th century the Archbishop of Constantinople, Nestorius, began to preach that of Mary had been born only the man Jesus, in Whom the Divinity had taken abode and dwelt in Him as in a temple. At first he allowed his presbyter Anastasius and then he himself began to teach openly in church that one should not call Mary “Theotokos” since She had not given birth to the God-Man. He considered it demeaning for himself to worship a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.


Such sermons evoked a universal disturbance and unease over the purity of faith, at first in Constantinople and then everywhere else where rumors of the new teaching spread. Saint Proclus, the disciple of Saint John Chrysostom, who was then Bishop of Cyzicus and later Archbishop of Constantinople, in the presence of Nestorius gave in church a sermon in which he confessed the Son of God born in the flesh of the Virgin, Who in truth is the Theotokos (Birthgiver of God), for already in the womb of the Most Pure One, at the time of Her conception, the Divinity was united with the Child conceived of the Holy Spirit; and this Child, even though He was born of the Virgin Mary only in His human nature, still was born already true God and true man.


Nestorius stubbornly refused to change his teaching, saying that one must distinguish between Jesus and the Son of God, that Mary should not be called Theotokos, but Christotokos (Birthgiver of Christ), since the Jesus Who was born of Mary was only the man Christ (which signifies Messiah, anointed one), like to God’s anointed ones of old, the prophets, only surpassing them in fullness of communion with God. The teaching of Nestorius thus constituted a denial of the whole economy of God, for if from Mary only a man was born, then it was not God Who suffered for us, but a man.


Saint Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, finding out about the teaching of Nestorius and about the church disorders evoked by this teaching in Constantinople, wrote a letter to Nestorius, in which he tried to persuade him to hold the teaching which the Church had confessed from its foundation, and not to introduce anything novel into this teaching. In addition, Saint Cyril wrote to the clergy and people of Constantinople that they should be firm in the Orthodox faith and not fear the persecutions by Nestorius against those who were not in agreement with him. Saint Cyril also wrote informing of everything to Rome, to the holy Pope Celestine, who with all his flock was then firm in Orthodoxy.


Saint Celestine for his part wrote to Nestorius and called upon him to preach the Orthodox faith, and not his own. But Nestorius remained deaf to all persuasion and replied that what he was preaching was the Orthodox faith, while his opponents were heretics. Saint Cyril wrote Nestorius again and composed twelve anathemas, that is, set forth in twelve paragraphs the chief differences of the Orthodox teaching from the teaching preached by Nestorius, acknowledging as excommunicated from the Church everyone who should reject even a single one of the paragraphs he had composed.


Nestorius rejected the whole of the text composed by Saint Cyril and wrote his own exposition of the teaching which he preached, likewise in twelve paragraphs, giving over to anathema (that is, excommunication from the Church) everyone who did not accept it. The danger to purity of faith was increasing all the time. Saint Cyril wrote a letter to Theodosius the Younger, who was then reigning, to his wife Eudocia and to the Emperor’s sister Pulcheria, entreating them likewise to concern themselves with ecclesiastical matters and restrain the heresy.


It was decided to convene an Ecumenical Council, at which hierarchs, gathered from the ends of the world, should decide whether the faith preached by Nestorius was Orthodox. As the place for the council, which was to be the Third Ecumenical Council, they chose the city of Ephesus, in which the Most Holy Virgin Mary had once dwelt together with the Apostle John the Theologian. Saint Cyril gathered his fellow bishops in Egypt and together with them traveled by sea to Ephesus. From Antioch overland came John, Archbishop of Antioch, with the Eastern bishops. The Bishop of Rome, Saint Celestine, could not go himself and asked Saint Cyril to defend the Orthodox faith, and in addition he sent from himself two bishops and the presbyter of the Roman Church, Philip, to whom he also gave instructions as to what to say. To Ephesus there came likewise Nestorius and the bishops of the Constantinople region, and the bishops of Palestine, Asia Minor, and Cyprus.


On the 10th of the calends of July according to the Roman reckoning, that is, June 22, 431, in the Ephesian Church of the Virgin Mary, the bishops assembled, headed by the Bishop of Alexandria, Cyril, and the Bishop of Ephesus, Memnon, and took their places. In their midst was placed a Gospel as a sign of the invisible headship of the Ecumenical Council by Christ Himself. At first the Symbol of Faith which had been composed by the First and Second Ecumenical Councils was read; then there was read to the Council the Imperial Proclamation which was brought by the representatives of the Emperors Theodosius and Valentinian, Emperors of the Eastern and Western parts of the Empire.


The Imperial Proclamation having been heard, the reading of documents began, and there were read the Epistles of Cyril and Celestine to Nestorius, as well as the replies of Nestorius. The Council, by the lips of its members, acknowledged the teaching of Nestorius to be impious and condemned it, acknowledging Nestorius as deprived of his See and of the priesthood. A decree was composed concerning this which was signed by about 160 participants of the Council; and since some of them represented also other bishops who did not have the opportunity to be personally at the Council, the decree of the Council was actually the decision of more than 200 bishops, who had their Sees in the various regions of the Church at that time, and they testified that they confessed the Faith which from all antiquity had been kept in their localities.


Thus, the decree of the Council was the voice of the Ecumenical Church, which clearly expressed its faith that Christ, born of the Virgin, is the true God Who became man; and inasmuch as Mary gave birth to the perfect Man Who was at the same time perfect God, She rightly should be revered as THEOTOKOS.


At the end of the session its decree was immediately communicated to the waiting people. The whole of Ephesus rejoiced when it found out that the veneration of the Holy Virgin had been defended, for She was especially revered in this city, of which She had been a resident during Her earthly life and a Patroness after Her departure into eternal life. The people greeted the Fathers ecstatically when in the evening they returned home after the session. They accompanied them to their homes with lighted torches and burned incense in the streets. Everywhere were to be heard joyful greetings, the glorification of the Ever-Virgin, and the praises of the Fathers who had defended Her name against the heretics. The decree of the Council was displayed in the streets of Ephesus.


The Council had five more sessions, on June 10 and 11, July 16, 17, and 22, and August 31. At these sessions there were set forth, in six canons, measures for action against those who would dare to spread the teaching of Nestorius and change the decree of the Council of Ephesus.


At the complaint of the bishops of Cyprus against the pretensions of the Bishop of Antioch, the Council decreed that the Church of Cyprus should preserve its independence in Church government, which it had possessed from the Apostles, and that in general none of the bishops should subject to themselves regions which had been previously independent from them, “lest under the pretext of priesthood the pride of earthly power should steal in, and lest we lose, ruining it little by little, the freedom which our Lord Jesus Christ, the Deliverer of all men, has given us by His Blood.”


The Council likewise confirmed the condemnation of the Pelagian heresy, which taught that man can be saved by his own powers without the necessity of having the grace of God. It also decided certain matters of church government, and addressed epistles to the bishops who had not attended the Council, announcing its decrees and calling upon all to stand on guard for the Orthodox Faith and the peace of the Church. At the same time the Council acknowledged that the teaching of the Orthodox Ecumenical Church had been fully and clearly enough set forth in the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan Symbol of Faith, which is why it itself did not compose a new Symbol of Faith and forbade in future “to compose another Faith,” that is, to compose other Symbols of Faith or make changes in the Symbol which had been confirmed at the Second Ecumenical Council.


This latter decree was violated several centuries later by Western Christians when, at first in separate places, and then throughout the whole Roman Church, there was made to the Symbol the addition that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father “and from the Son,” which addition has been approved by the Roman Popes from the 11th century, even though up until that time their predecessors, beginning with Saint Celestine, firmly kept to the decision of the Council of Ephesus, which was the Third Ecumenical Council, and fulfilled it.


Thus the peace which had been destroyed by Nestorius settled once more in the Church. The true Faith had been defended and false teaching accused.


The Council of Ephesus is rightly venerated as Ecumenical, on the same level as the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople which preceded it. At it there were present representatives of the whole Church. Its decisions were accepted by the whole Church “from one end of the universe to the other.” At it there was confessed the teaching which had been held from Apostolic times. The Council did not create a new teaching, but it loudly testified of the truth which some had tried to replace by an invention. It precisely set forth the confession of the Divinity of Christ Who was born of the Virgin. The belief of the Church and its judgment on this question were now so clearly expressed that no one could any longer ascribe to the Church his own false reasonings. In the future there could arise other questions demanding the decision of the whole Church, but not the question whether Jesus Christ were God.


Subsequent Councils based themselves in their decisions on the decrees of the Councils which had preceded them. They did not compose a new Symbol of Faith, but only gave an explanation of it. At the Third Ecumenical Council there was firmly and clearly confessed the teaching of the Church concerning the Mother of God. Previously the Holy Fathers had accused those who had slandered the immaculate life of the Virgin Mary; and now concerning those who had tried to lessen Her honor it was proclaimed to all: “He who does not confess Immanuel to be true God and therefore the Holy Virgin to be Theotokos, because She gave birth in the flesh to the Word Who is from God the Father and Who became flesh, let him be anathema [separated from the Church]” (First Anathema of Saint Cyril of Alexandria). 


Attempts of Iconoclasts to Lessen the Glory of the Queen of Heaven;
They Are Put to Shame


AFTER THE THIRD Ecumenical Council, Christians began yet more fervently, both in Constantinople and in other places, to hasten to the intercession of the Mother of God and their hopes in Her intercession were not vain. She manifested Her help to innumerable sick people, helpless people, and those in misfortune. Many times She appeared as defender of Constantinople against outward enemies, once even showing in visible fashion to Saint Andrew the Fool for Christ Her wondrous Protection over the people who were praying at night in the Temple of Blachernae.


The Queen of Heaven gave victory in battles to the Byzantine Emperors, which is why they had the custom to take with them in their campaigns Her Icon of Hodigitria (Guide). She strengthened ascetics and zealots of Christian life in their battle against human passions and weaknesses. She enlightened and instructed the Fathers and Teachers of the Church, including Saint Cyril of Alexandria himself when he was hesitating to acknowledge the innocence and sanctity of Saint John Chrysostom. The Most Pure Virgin placed hymns in the mouths of the composers of church hymns, sometimes making renowned singers out of the untalented who had no gift of song, but who were pious laborers, such as Saint Romanus the Sweet-Singer (the Melodist). Is it therefore surprising that Christians strove to magnify the name of their constant Intercessor? In Her honor feasts were established, to Her were dedicated wondrous songs, and Her Images were revered.


The malice of the prince of this world armed the sons of apostasy once more to raise battle against Immanuel and His Mother in this same Constantinople, which revered now, as Ephesus had previously, the Mother of God as its Intercessor. Not daring at first to speak openly against the Champion General, they wished to lessen Her glorification by forbidding the veneration of the Icons of Christ and His saints, calling this idol-worship. The Mother of God now also strengthened zealots of piety in the battle for the veneration of Images, manifesting many signs from Her Icons and healing the severed hand of Saint John of Damascus who had written in defense of the Icons.


The persecution against the venerators of Icons and Saints ended again in the victory and triumph of Orthodoxy, for the veneration given to the Icons ascends to those who are depicted in them; and the holy ones of God are venerated as friends of God for the sake of the Divine grace which dwelt in them, in accordance with the words of the Psalm: “Most precious to me are Thy friends.” The Most Pure Mother of God was glorified with special honor in heaven and on earth, and She, even in the days of the mocking of the holy Icons, manifested through them so many wondrous miracles that even today we remember them with contrition. The hymn “In Thee All Creation Rejoices, O Thou Who Art Full of Grace” and the Icon of the Three Hands remind us of the healing of Saint John Damascene before this Icon; the depiction of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God reminds us of the miraculous deliverance from enemies by this Icon, which had been thrown in the sea by a widow who was unable to save it.


No persecutions against those who venerated the Mother of God and all that is bound up with the memory of Her could lessen the love of Christians for their Intercessor. The rule was established that every series of hymns in the Divine services should end with a hymn or verse in honor of the Mother of God (the so-called “Theotokia”). Many times in the year Christians in all corners of the world gather together in church, as before they gathered together, to praise Her, to thank Her for the benefactions She has shown, and to beg mercy.


But could the adversary of Christians, the devil, who goeth about roaring like a lion, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8), remain an indifferent spectator to the glory of the Immaculate One? Could he acknowledge himself as defeated, and cease to wage warfare against the truth through men who do his will? And so, when all the universe resounded with the good news of the Faith of Christ, when everywhere the name of the Most Holy One was invoked, when the earth was filled with churches, when the houses of Christians were adorned with Icons depicting Her—then there appeared and began to spread a new false teaching about the Mother of God. This false teaching is dangerous in that many cannot immediately understand to what degree it undermines the true veneration of the Mother of God.


Zeal Not According to Knowledge (Romans 10:2)


The corruption by the Latins, in the newly invented dogma of the “Immaculate Conception”, of the true veneration of the Most Holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary.


WHEN THOSE WHO censured the immaculate life of the Most Holy Virgin had been rebuked, as well as those who denied Her Ever-virginity, those who denied Her dignity as the Mother of God, and those who disdained Her icons—then, when the glory of the Mother of God had illuminated the whole universe, there appeared a teaching which seemingly exalted highly the Virgin Mary, but in reality denied all Her virtues.


This teaching is called that of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, and it was accepted by the followers of the Papal throne of Rome. The teaching is this: that “the All-blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of Her Conception, by the special grace of Almighty God and by a special privilege, for the sake of the future merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin” (Bull of Pope Pius IX concerning the new dogma). In other words, the Mother of God at Her very conception was preserved from original sin and, by the grace of God, was placed in a state where it was impossible for Her to have personal sins.


Christians had not heard of this before the ninth century, when for the first time the Abbot of Corvey, Paschasius Radbertus, expressed the opinion that the Holy Virgin was conceived without original sin. Beginning, from the 12th century, this idea begins to spread among the clergy and flock of the Western church, which had already fallen away from the Universal Church and thereby lost the grace of the Holy Spirit.


However, by no means all of the members of the Roman church agreed with the new teaching. There was a difference of among the most renowned theologians of the West, the pillars, so to speak, of the Latin church. Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux decisively censured it, while Duns Scotus defended it. From the teachers this division carried over to their disciples: the Latin Dominican monks, after their teacher Thomas Aquinas, preached against the teaching of the Immaculate Conception, while the followers of Duns Scotus, the Franciscans, strove to implant it everywhere. The battle between these two currents continued for the course of several centuries. Both on the one and on the other side there were those who were considered among the Catholics as the greatest authorities.


There was no help in deciding the question in the fact that several people declared that they had had a revelation from above concerning it. The nun Bridget [of Sweden], renowned in the 14th century among the Catholics, spoke in her writings about the appearances to her of the Mother of God, Who Herself told her that She had been conceived immaculately, without original sin. But her contemporary, the yet more renowned ascetic Catherine of Sienna, affirmed that in Her Conception the Holy Virgin participated in original sin, concerning which she had received a revelation from Christ Himself (see the book of Archpriest A. Lebedev, Differences in the Teaching on the Most Holy Mother of God in the Churches of East and West).


Thus, neither on the foundation of theological writings, nor on the foundation of miraculous manifestations which contradicted each other, could the Latin flock distinguish for a long time where the truth was. Roman Popes until Sixtus IV (end of the 15th century) remained apart from these disputes, and only this Pope in 1475 approved a service in which the teaching of the Immaculate Conception was clearly expressed; and several years later he forbade a condemnation of those who believed in the Immaculate Conception. However, even Sixtus IV did not yet decide to affirm that such was the unwavering teaching of the church; and therefore, having forbidden the condemnation of those who believed in the Immaculate Conception, he also did not condemn those who believed otherwise.


Meanwhile, the teaching of the Immaculate Conception obtained more and more partisans among the members of the Roman church. The reason for this was the fact that it seemed more pious and pleasing to the Mother of God to give Her as much glory as possible. The striving of the people to glorify the Heavenly Intercessor, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the deviation of Western theologians into abstract speculations which led only to a seeming truth (scholasticism), and finally, the patronage of the Roman Popes after Sixtus IV—all this led to the fact that the opinion concerning the Immaculate Conception which had been expressed by Paschasius Radbertus in the 9th century was already the general belief of the Latin church in the 19th century. There remained only to proclaim this definitely as the church’s teaching, which was done by the Roman Pope Pius IX during a solemn service on December 8, 1854, when he declared that the Immaculate Conception of the Most Holy Virgin was a dogma of the Roman church. Thus the Roman church added yet another deviation from the teaching which it had confessed while it was a member of the Catholic, Apostolic Church, which faith has been held up to now unaltered and unchanged by the Orthodox Church. The proclamation of the new dogma satisfied the broad masses of people who belonged to the Roman church, who in simplicity of heart thought that the proclamation of the new teaching in the church would serve for the greater glory of the Mother of God, to Whom by this they were making a gift, as it were. There was also satisfied the vainglory of the Western theologians who defended and worked it out.


But most of all the proclamation of the new dogma was profitable for the Roman throne itself, since, having proclaimed the new dogma by his own authority, even though he did listen to the opinions of the bishops of the Catholic church, the Roman Pope by this very fact openly appropriated to himself the right to change the teaching of the Roman church and placed his own voice above the testimony of Sacred Scripture and Tradition. A direct deduction from this was the fact that the Roman Popes were infallible in matters of faith, which indeed this very same Pope Pius IX likewise proclaimed as a dogma of the Catholic Church in 1870.


Thus was the teaching of the Western church changed after it had fallen away from communion with the True Church. It has introduced into itself newer and newer teachings, thinking by this to glorify the Truth yet more, but in reality distorting it. While the Orthodox Church humbly confesses what it has received from Christ and the Apostles, the Roman church dares to add to it, sometimes from zeal not according to knowledge (cf. Romans 10:2), and sometimes by deviating into superstitions and into the contradictions of knowledge falsely so called (I Timothy 6:20). It could not be otherwise. That the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church (Matthew 16:18) is promised only to the True, Universal Church; but upon those who have fallen away from it are fulfilled the words: As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in Me (John 15:4).


It is true that in the very definition of the new dogma it is said that a new teaching is not being established, but that there is only being proclaimed as the church’s that which always existed in the church and which has been held by many Holy Fathers, excerpts from whose writings are cited. However, all the cited references speak only of the exalted sanctity of the Virgin Mary and of Her immaculateness, and give Her various names which define Her purity and spiritual might; but nowhere is there any word of the immaculateness of Her conception. Meanwhile, these same Holy Fathers in other places say that only Jesus Christ is completely pure of every sin, while all men, being born of Adam, have borne a flesh subject to the law of sin.


None of the ancient Holy Fathers say that God in miraculous fashion purified the Virgin Mary while yet in the womb; and many directly indicate that the Virgin Mary, just as all men, endured a battle with sinfulness, but was victorious over temptations and was saved by Her Divine Son.


Commentators of the Latin confession likewise say that the Virgin Mary was saved by Christ. But they understand this in the sense that Mary was preserved from the taint of original sin in view of the future merits of Christ (Bull on the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception). The Virgin Mary, according to their teaching, received in advance, as it were, the gift which Christ brought to men by His sufferings and death on the Cross. Moreover, speaking of the torments of the Mother of God which She endured standing at the Cross of Her Beloved Son, and in general of the sorrows with which the life of the Mother of God was filled, they consider them an addition to the sufferings of Christ and consider Mary to be our Co-Redemptress.


According to the commentary of the Latin theologians, “Mary is an associate with our Redeemer as Co-Redemptress” (see Lebedev, op. cit., p. 273). “In the act of Redemption, She, in a certain way, helped Christ” (catechism of Dr. Weimar). “The Mother of God,” writes Dr. Lentz, “bore the burden of Her martyrdom not merely courageously, but also joyfully, even though with a broken heart” (Mariology of Dr. Lentz). For this reason, She is “a complement of the Holy Trinity,” and “just as Her Son is the only Intermediary chosen by God between His offended majesty and sinful men, so also, precisely, the chief Mediatress placed by Him between His Son and us is the Blessed Virgin.” “In three respects—as Daughter, as Mother, and as Spouse of God—the Holy Virgin is exalted to a certain equality with the Father, to a certain superiority over the Son, to a certain nearness to the Holy Spirit” (Malou, Bishop of Brouges, The Immaculate Conception).


Thus, according to the teaching of the representatives of Latin theology, the Virgin Mary in the work of Redemption is placed side by side with Christ Himself and is exalted to an equality with God. One cannot go farther than this. If all this has not been definitively formulated as a dogma of the Roman church as yet, still the Roman Pope Pius IX, having made the first step in this direction, has shown the direction for the further development of the generally recognized teaching of his church, and has indirectly confirmed the above-cited teaching about the Virgin Mary.


Thus the Roman church, in its strivings to exalt the Most Holy Virgin, is going on the path of complete deification of Her. And if even now its authorities call Mary a complement of the Holy Trinity, one may soon expect that the Virgin will be revered like God, who are building a new theological system having as its foundation the philosophical teaching of Sophia, Wisdom, as a special power binding the Divinity and the creation. Likewise developing the teaching of the dignity of the Mother of God, they wish to see in Her an Essence which is some kind of mid-point between God and man. In some questions they are more moderate than the Latin theologians, but in others, if you please, they have already left them behind. While denying the teaching of the Immaculate Conception and the freedom from original sin, they still teach Her full freedom from any personal sins, seeing in Her an Intermediary between men and God, like Christ: in the person of Christ there has appeared on earth the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Pre-eternal Word, the Son of God; while the Holy Spirit is manifest through the Virgin Mary.


In the words of one of the representatives of this tendency, when the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the Virgin Mary, she acquired “a dyadic life, human and divine; that is, She was completely deified, because in Her hypostatic being was manifest the living, creative revelation of the Holy Spirit” (Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov,The Unburnt Bush, 1927, p. 154). “She is a perfect manifestation of the Third Hypostasis” (ibid., p. 175), “a creature, but also no longer a creature” (p. 191). This striving towards the deification of the Mother of God is to be observed primarily in the West, where at the same time, on the other hand, various sects of a Protestant character are having great success, together with the chief branches of Protestantism, Lutheranism and Calvinism, which in general deny the veneration of the Mother of God and the calling upon Her in prayer.


But we can say with the words of Saint Epiphanius of Cyprus: “There is an equal harm in both these heresies, both when men demean the Virgin and when, on the contrary, they glorify Her beyond what is proper” (Panarion, “Against the Collyridians”). This Holy Father accuses those who give Her an almost divine worship: “Let Mary be in honor, but let worship be given to the Lord” (same source). “Although Mary is a chosen vessel, still she was a woman by nature, not to be distinguished at all from others. Although the history of Mary and Tradition relate that it was said to Her father Joachim in the desert, ‘Thy wife hath conceived,’ still this was done not without marital union and not without the seed of man” (same source). “One should not revere the saints above what is proper, but should revere their Master. Mary is not God, and did not receive a body from heaven, but from the joining of man and woman; and according to the promise, like Isaac, She was prepared to take part in the Divine Economy. But, on the other hand, let none dare foolishly to offend the Holy Virgin” (Saint Epiphanius,Against the Antidikomarionites).


The Orthodox Church, highly exalting the Mother of God in its hymns of praise, does not dare to ascribe to Her that which has not been communicated about Her by Sacred Scripture or Tradition. “Truth is foreign to all overstatements as well as to all understatements. It gives to everything a fitting measure and fitting place” (Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov). Glorifying the immaculateness of the Virgin Mary and the manful bearing of sorrows in Her earthly life, the Fathers of the Church, on the other hand, reject the idea that She was an intermediary between God and men in the sense of the joint Redemption by Them of the human race.


Speaking of Her preparedness to die together with Her Son and to suffer together with Him for the sake of the salvation of all, the renowned Father of the Western Church, Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, adds: “But the sufferings of Christ did not need any help, as the Lord Himself prophesied concerning this long before: I looked about, and there was none to help; I sought and there was none to give aid. Therefore My arm delivered them (Esaias 63:5; Saint Ambrose, Concerning the Upbringing of the Virgin and the Ever-Virginity of Holy Mary, ch. 7).


This same Holy Father teaches concerning the universality of original sin, from which Christ alone is an exception. “Of all those born of women, there is not a single one who is perfectly holy, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, Who in a special new way of immaculate birthgiving, did not experience earthly taint” (Saint Ambrose, Commentary on Luke, ch. 2). “God alone is without sin. All born in the usual manner of woman and man, that is, of fleshly union, become guilty of sin. Consequently, He Who does not have sin was not conceived in this manner” (Saint Ambrose, Ap. Aug., Concerning Marriage and Concupiscence). “One Man alone, the Intermediary between God and man, is free from the bonds of sinful birth, because He was born of a Virgin, and because in being born He did not experience the touch of sin” (Saint Ambrose, ibid., Book 2: Against Julianus).

Another renowned teacher of the Church, especially revered in the West, Blessed Augustine, writes: “As for other men, excluding Him Who is the cornerstone, I do not see for them any other means to become temples of God and to be dwellings for God apart from spiritual rebirth, which must absolutely be preceded by fleshly birth. Thus, no matter how much we might think about children who are in the womb of the mother, and even though the word of the holy Evangelist who says of John the Baptist that he leaped for joy in the womb of his mother (which occurred not otherwise than by the action of the Holy Spirit), or the word of the Lord Himself spoken to Jeremiah: I have sanctified thee before thou didst leave the womb of thy mother (Jeremiah 1:5)—no matter how much these might or might not give us basis for thinking that children in this condition are capable of a certain sanctification, still in any case it cannot be doubted that the sanctification by which all of us together and each of us separately become the temple of God is possible only for those who are reborn, and rebirth always presupposes birth. Only those who have already been born can be united with Christ and be in union with this Divine Body which makes His Church the living temple of the majesty of God” (Blessed Augustine, Letter 187).


The above-cited words of the ancient teachers of the Church testify that in the West itself the teaching which is now spread there was earlier rejected there. Even after the falling away of the Western church, Bernard, who is acknowledged there as a great authority, wrote, “ I am frightened now, seeing that certain of you have desired to change the condition of important matters, introducing a new festival unknown to the Church, unapproved by reason, unjustified by ancient tradition. Are we really more learned and more pious than our fathers? You will say, ‘One must glorify the Mother of God as much as Possible.’ This is true; but the glorification given to the Queen of Heaven demands discernment. This Royal Virgin does not have need of false glorifications, possessing as She does true crowns of glory and signs of dignity. Glorify the purity of Her flesh and the sanctity of Her life. Marvel at the abundance of the gifts of this Virgin; venerate Her Divine Son; exalt Her Who conceived without knowing concupiscence and gave birth without knowing pain. But what does one yet need to add to these dignities? People say that one must revere the conception which preceded the glorious birth-giving; for if the conception had not preceded, the birth-giving also would not have been glorious. But what would one say if anyone for the same reason should demand the same kind of veneration of the father and mother of Holy Mary? One might equally demand the same for Her grandparents and great-grandparents, to infinity. Moreover, how can there not be sin in the place where there was concupiscence? All the more, let one not say that the Holy Virgin was conceived of the Holy Spirit and not of man. I say decisively that the Holy Spirit descended upon Her, but not that He came with Her.”


“I say that the Virgin Mary could not be sanctified before Her conception, inasmuch as She did not exist. If, all the more, She could not be sanctified in the moment of Her conception by reason of the sin which is inseparable from conception, then it remains to believe that She was sanctified after She was conceived in the womb of Her mother. This sanctification, if it annihilates sin, makes holy Her birth, but not Her conception. No one is given the right to be conceived in sanctity; only the Lord Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit, and He alone is holy from His very conception. Excluding Him, it is to all the descendants of Adam that must be referred that which one of them says of himself, both out of a feeling of humility and in acknowledgement of the truth: Behold I was conceived in iniquities (Psalms 50:7). How can one demand that this conception be holy, when it was not the work of the Holy Spirit, not to mention that it came from concupiscence? The Holy Virgin, of course, rejects that glory which, evidently, glorifies sin. She cannot in any way justify a novelty invented in spite of the teaching of the Church, a novelty which is the mother of imprudence, the sister of unbelief, and the daughter of lightmindedness” (Bernard, Epistle 174; cited, as were the references from Blessed Augustine, from Lebedev). The above-cited words clearly reveal both the novelty and the absurdity of the new dogma of the Roman church.


The teaching of the complete sinlessness of the Mother of God (1) does not correspond to Sacred Scripture, where there is repeatedly mentioned the sinlessness of the One Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ (I Timothy 2:5); and in Him is no sin (John 3:5); Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth (I Peter 2:22); One that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15); Him Who knew no sin, He made to be sin on our behalf (II Corinthians 5:21). But concerning the rest of men it is said, Who is pure of defilement? No one who has lived a single day of his life on earth (Job 14:4). God commendeth His own love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. If, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life (Romans 5:8–10).


(2) This teaching contradicts also Sacred Tradition, which is contained in numerous Patristic writings, where there is mentioned the exalted sanctity of the Virgin Mary from Her very birth, as well as Her cleansing by the Holy Spirit at Her conception of Christ, but not at Her own conception by Anna. “There is none without stain before Thee, even though his life be but a day, save Thee alone, Jesus Christ our God, Who didst appear on earth without sin, and through Whom we all trust to obtain mercy and the remission of sins” (Saint Basil the Great, third prayer of Vespers of Pentecost). “But when Christ came through a pure, virginal, unwedded, God-fearing, undefiled Mother without wedlock and without father, and inasmuch as it befitted Him to be born, He purified the female nature, rejected the bitter Eve and overthrew the laws of the flesh” (Saint Gregory the Theologian, In Praise of Virginity). However, even then, as Saints Basil the Great and John Chrysostom speak of this, She was not placed in the state of being unable to sin, but continued to take care for Her salvation and overcame all temptations (Saint John Chrysostom, Commentary on John, Homily 85; Saint Basil the Great, Epistle 160).


(3) The teaching that the Mother of God was purified before Her birth, so that from Her might be born the Pure Christ, is meaningless; because if the Pure Christ could be born only if the Virgin might be born pure, it would be necessary that Her parents also should be pure of original sin, and they again would have to be born of purified parents, and going further in this way, one would have to come to the conclusion that Christ could not have become incarnate unless all His ancestors in the flesh, right up to Adam inclusive, had been purified beforehand of original sin. But then there would not have been any need for the very Incarnation of Christ, since Christ came down to earth in order to annihilate sin.


(4) The teaching that the Mother of God was preserved from original sin, as likewise the teaching that She was preserved by God’s grace from personal sins, makes God unmerciful and unjust; because if God could preserve Mary from sin and purify Her before Her birth, then why does He not purify other men before their birth, but rather leaves them in sin? It follows likewise that God saves men apart from their will, predetermining certain ones before their birth to salvation.


(5) This teaching, which seemingly has the aim of exalting the Mother of God, in reality completely denies all Her virtues. After all, if Mary, even in the womb of Her mother, when She could not even desire anything either good or evil, was preserved by God’s grace from every impurity, and then by that grace was preserved from sin even after Her birth, then in what does Her merit consist? If She could have been placed in the state of being unable to sin, and did not sin, then for what did God glorify Her? If She, without any effort, and without having any kind of impulses to sin, remained pure, then why is She crowned more than everyone else? There is no victory without an adversary.


The righteousness and sanctity of the Virgin Mary were manifested in the fact that She, being “human with passions like us,” so loved God and gave Herself over to Him, that by Her purity She was exalted high above the rest of the human race. For this, having been foreknown and forechosen, She was vouchsafed to be purified by the Holy Spirit Who came upon Her, and to conceive of Him the very Savior of the world. The teaching of the grace-given sinlessness of the Virgin Mary denies Her victory over temptations; from a victor who is worthy to be crowned with crowns of glory, this makes Her a blind instrument of God’s Providence.


It is not an exaltation and greater glory, but a belittlement of Her, this “gift” which was given Her by Pope Pius IX and all the rest who think they can glorify the Mother of God by seeking out new truths. The Most Holy Mary has been so much glorified by God Himself, so exalted is Her life on earth and Her glory in heaven, that human inventions cannot add anything to Her honor and glory. That which people themselves invent only obscures Her Face from their eyes.Brethren, take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians 2:8), wrote the Apostle Paul by the Holy Spirit.


Such a “vain deceit” is the teaching of the Immaculate Conception by Anna of the Virgin Mary, which at first sight exalts, but in actual fact belittles Her. Like every lie, it is a seed of the “father of lies” (John 8:44), the devil, who has succeeded by it in blaspheming the Virgin Mary. Together with it there should also be rejected all the other teachings which have come from it or are akin to it. The striving to exalt the Most Holy Virgin to an equality with Christ ascribing to Her maternal tortures at the Cross an equal significance with the sufferings of Christ, so that the Redeemer and “Co-Redemptress” suffered equally, according to the teaching of the Papists, or that “the human nature of the Mother of God in heaven together with the God-Man Jesus jointly reveal the full image of man” (Archpriest S. Bulgakov, The Unburnt Bush, p. 141), is likewise a vain deceit and a seduction of philosophy. In Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female(Galatians 3:28), and Christ has redeemed the whole human race; therefore at His Resurrection equally did “Adam dance for joy and Eve rejoice” (Sunday kontakia of the first and third tones), and by His Ascension did the Lord raise up the whole of human nature.


Likewise, that the Mother of God is a “complement of the Holy Trinity” or a “fourth Hypostasis”; that “the Son and the Mother are a revelation of the Father through the Second and Third Hypostases”; that the Virgin Mary is “a creature, but also no longer a creature”—all this is the fruit of vain, false wisdom which is not satisfied with what the Church has held from the time of the Apostles, but strives to glorify the Holy Virgin more than God has glorified Her.


Thus are the words of Saint Epiphanius of Cyprus fulfilled: “Certain senseless ones in their opinion about the Holy Ever-Virgin have striven and are striving to put Her in place of God” (Saint Epiphanius, Against the Antidikomarionites). But that which is offered to the Virgin in senselessness, instead of praise of Her, turns out to be blasphemy; and the All-Immaculate One rejects the lie, being the Mother of Truth (John 14:6). 

The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God


THE ORTHODOX CHURCH teaches about the Mother of God that which Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture have informed concerning Her, and daily it glorifies Her in its temples, asking Her help and defense. Knowing that She is pleased only by those praises which correspond to Her actual glory, the Holy Fathers and hymn-writers have entreated Her and Her Son to teach them how to hymn Her. “Set a rampart about my mind, O my Christ, for I make bold to sing the praise of Thy pure Mother” (ikos of the Dormition). “The Church teaches that Christ was truly born of Mary the Ever-Virgin” (Saint Epiphanius, True Word Concerning the Faith). “It is essential for us to confess that the Holy Ever-Virgin Mary is actually Theotokos (Birthgiver of God), so as not to fall into blasphemy. For those who deny that the Holy Virgin is actually Theotokos are no longer believers, but disciples of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, To John the Monk).


From Tradition it is known that Mary was the daughter of the aged Joachim and Anna, and that Joachim descended from the royal line of David, and Anna from the priestly line. Notwithstanding such a noble origin, they were poor. However, it was not this that saddened these righteous ones, but rather the fact that they did not have children and could not hope that their descendants would see the Messiah. And behold, when once, being disdained by the Hebrews for their barrenness, they both in grief of soul were offering up prayers to God—Joachim on a mountain to which he had retired after the priest did not want to offer his sacrifice in the Temple, and Anna in her own garden weeping over her barrenness—there appeared to them an angel who informed them that they would bring forth a daughter. Overjoyed, they promised to consecrate their child to God.


In nine months a daughter was born to them, called Mary, Who from Her early childhood manifested the best qualities of soul. When She was three years old, her parents, fulfilling their promise, solemnly led the little Mary to the Temple of Jerusalem; She Herself ascended the high steps and, by revelation from God, She was led into the very Holy of Holies, by the High Priest who met Her, taking with Her the grace of God which rested upon Her into the Temple which until then had been without grace (see the kontakion of the Entry into the Temple. This was the newly-built Temple into which the glory of God had not descended as it had upon the Ark or upon the Temple of Solomon). She was settled in the quarters for virgins which existed in the Temple, but She spent so much time in prayer in the Holy of Holies that one might say that She lived in it (service to the Entry, second sticheron on “Lord, I have cried” and the “Glory, both now…”). Being adorned with all virtues, She manifested an example of extraordinarily pure life. Being submissive and obedient to all, She offended no one, said no crude word to anyone, was friendly to all, and did not allow any unclean thought (abridged from Saint Ambrose of Milan, Concerning the Ever-Virginity of the Virgin Mary).


“Despite the righteousness and the immaculateness of the life which the Mother of God led, sin and eternal death manifested their presence in Her. They could not but be manifested: Such is the precise and faithful teaching of the Orthodox Church concerning the Mother of God with relation to original sin and death” (Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, Exposition of the Teaching of the Orthodox Church on the Mother of God). “A stranger to any fall into sin” (Saint Ambrose of Milan, Commentary on the 118th Psalm), “She was not a stranger to sinful temptations.” “God alone is without sin” (Saint Ambrose, same source), “while man will always have in himself something yet needing correction and perfection in order to fulfill the commandment of God; Be ye holy as I the Lord your God am Holy (Leviticus 19:2). The more pure and perfect one is, the more he notices his imperfections and considers himself all the more unworthy.

The Virgin Mary, having given Herself entirely up to God, even though She repulsed from Herself every impulse to sin, still felt the weakness of human nature more powerfully than others and ardently desired the coming of the Savior. In Her humility She considered Herself unworthy to be even the servant-girl of the Virgin Who was to give Him birth. So that nothing might distract Her from prayer and heedfulness to Herself, Mary gave to God a vow not to become married, in order to please only Him Her whole life long. Being betrothed to the elderly Joseph when Her age no longer allowed Her to remain in the Temple, She settled in his house in Nazareth. Here the Virgin was vouchsafed the coming of the Archangel Gabriel, who brought Her the good tidings of the birth from Her of the Son of the Most High: Hail, Thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art thou among women… The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Wherefore also that which is to be born shall be holy, and shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:28–35).


Mary received the angelic good tidings humbly and submissively. “Then the Word, in a way known to Himself, descended and, as He Himself willed, came and entered into Mary and abode in Her” (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Praise of the Mother of God). “As lightning illuminates what is hidden, so also Christ purifies what is hidden in the nature of things. He purified the Virgin also and then was born, so as to show that where Christ is, there is manifest purity in all its power. He purified the Virgin, having prepared Her by the Holy Spirit, and then the womb, having become pure, conceived Him. He purified the Virgin while She was inviolate; wherefore, having been born, He left Her virgin. I do not say that Mary became immortal, but that being illuminated by grace, She was not disturbed by sinful desires” (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Against Heretics, Homily 41). “The Light abode in Her, cleansed Her mind, made Her thoughts pure, made chaste Her concerns, sanctified Her virginity” (Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Mary and Eve). “One who was pure according to human understanding, He made pure by grace” (Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, Exposition of the Teaching of the Orthodox Church on the Mother of God).


Mary told no one of the appearance of the angel, but the angel himself revealed to Joseph concerning Mary’s miraculous conception from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18–25); and after the Nativity of Christ, with a multitude of the heavenly host, he announced it to the shepherds. The shepherds, coming to worship the new-born one, said that they had heard of Him. Having previously endured suspicion in silence, Mary now also listened in silence and kept in Her heart the sayings concerning the greatness of Her Son (Luke 2:8–19). She heard forty days later Symeon’s prayer of praise and the prophecy concerning the weapon which would pierce Her soul. Later She saw how Jesus advanced in wisdom; She heard Him at the age of twelve teaching in the Temple, and everything She kept in Her heart (Luke 2:21–51). Even though full of grace, She did not yet fully understand in what the service and the greatness of Her Son would consist. The Hebrew conceptions of the Messiah were still close to Her, and natural feelings forced Her to be concerned for Him, preserving Him from labors and dangers which it might seem, were excessive. Therefore She favored Her Son involuntarily at first, which evoked His indication of the superiority of spiritual to bodily kinship (Matthew 12:46–49). “He had concern also over the honor of His Mother, but much more over the salvation of Her soul and the good of men, for which He had become clothed in the flesh” (Saint John Chrysostom, Commentary on John, Homily 21). Mary understood this and heard the word of God and kept it(Luke 11:27, 28). As no other person, She had the same feelings as Christ (Philippians 2:5), unmurmuringly bearing the grief of a mother when She saw Her Son persecuted and suffering. Rejoicing in the day of the Resurrection, on the day of Pentecost She was clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). The Holy Spirit Who descended upon Her taught (Her) all things (John 14:26), and instructed (Her) in all truth (John 16:13). Being enlightened, She began to labor all the more zealously to perform what She had heard from Her Son and Redeemer, so as to ascend to Him and to be with Him.


The end of the earthly life of the Most Holy Mother of God was the beginning of Her greatness. “Being adorned with Divine glory” (irmos of the Canon of the Dormition), She stands and will stand, both in the day of the Last Judgment and in the future age, at the right hand of the throne of Her Son. She reigns with Him and has boldness towards Him as His Mother according to the flesh, and as one in spirit with Him, as one who performed the will of God and instructed others (Matthew 5:19). Merciful and full of love, She manifests Her love towards Her Son and God in love for the human race. She intercedes for it before the Merciful One, and going about the earth, She helps men. Having experienced all the difficulties of earthly life, the Intercessor of the Christian race sees every tear, hears every groan and entreaty directed to Her. Especially near to Her are those who labor in the battle with the passions and are zealous for a God-pleasing life. But even in worldly cares She is an irreplaceable helper. “Joy of all who sorrow and intercessor for the offended, feeder of the hungry, consolation of travelers, harbor of the storm-tossed, visitation of the sick, protection and intercessor for the infirm, staff of old age, Thou art the Mother of God on high, O Most Pure One” (sticheron of the Service to the Hodigitria). “The hope and intercession and refuge of Christians,” “The Mother of God unceasing in prayers” (kontakion of Dormition), “saving the world by Thine unceasing prayer” (theotokion of the third tone). “She day and night doth pray for us, and the scepters of kingdoms are confirmed by Her prayers” (daily nocturne).


There is no intellect or words to express the greatness of Her Who was born in the sinful human race but became “more honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim.” “Seeing the grace of the secret mysteries of God made manifest and clearly fulfilled in the Virgin, I rejoice; and I know not how to understand the strange and secret manner whereby the Undefiled has been revealed as alone chosen above all creation, visible and spiritual. Therefore, wishing to praise Her, I am struck dumb with amazement in both mind and speech. Yet still I dare to proclaim and magnify Her: She is indeed the heavenly Tabernacle” (ikos of the Entry into the Temple). “Every tongue is at a loss to praise Thee as is due; even a spirit from the world above is filled with dizziness, when it seeks to sing Thy praises, O Theotokos. But since Thou art good, accept our faith. Thou knowest well our love inspired by God, for Thou art the Protector of Christians, and we magnify Thee” (irmos of the 9th Canticle, Service of the Theophany).


The violators of the Holy Institutions of the Orthodox Church.

 In times, there is an effort on behalf of the Ecumenists “Orthodoxs” to undermine our Orthodox Testimony and our opposition to their innovative course. To accomplish their goal they often use various excuses and characterizations. They say that their participation in the Ecumenism is targeting the unity of the faith which the Gospel indicates and that the Papal calendar which they have accepted, constitutes an astronomical correction. Thus, they characterize us as malevolent, backward, stubborn, uneducated zealots of the Orthodox faith but without awareness, being schismatics or heretics e.t.c.

    Thus, for the devout Orthodox Christians whom listen to all these excuses to understand the reason which we do not accept to align with the ecumenists and the defiers of the Orthodox tradition, we display below the most important canons of the Orthodox Church. These canons like all the others were not made from us but were defined by the Holy Apostles and the blessed Fathers of the Church.

    The very worst is that these canons of the Orthodox Church are also being accepted by the innovative “Orthodoxs”, but they only hold those canons which do not oppose their pursuits.


1) 45th Apostolic Canon:

“Let a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, that merely joins in prayer with heretics, be excommunicated: but if he has permitted them to perform any service as clergymen, let him be defrocked”.

    This canon with clarity declares that the Orthodox clerics whom are praying with heretics to be excommunicated. If in any case allow to heretics to perform any holy ceremony those Orthodoxs to be unfrocked.

    The Ecumenists “Orthodoxs” pray with heretics? Of course they are. Today they even have established common ceremonies to pray.


 2) 10th Apostolic Canon:

“If anyone prays, even in a private house, with an excommunicated person, let him also be excommunicated.”

    Uncompaniable here means the person who is outside of the Church that is him who is excommunicated. This canon thus declares that even if a faithful prays in a house with an uncompaniable this faithful to be excommunicated.

    The Ecumenists “Orthodoxs” very often pray together with the uncompaniable and excommunicated from the Church, heretics.


3) 65th Apostolic Canon:

“If any clergymen, or layman, enter a synagogue of Jews, or of heretics to pray, let the first to be defrocked and the other to be excommunicated.”

    This canon declares, that for no reason a faithful can pray in a Hebrew synagogue or in a heretic temple. If anyone does this, this canon dictates, that if he is a cleric to be unfrocked, if he is a secular to be excommunicated.

    This canon nevertheless does not prevent the Ecumenists “Orthodoxs” to pray in heretic temples.


4) 46th Apostolic canon commands:

“We order any Bishop, or Presbyter, or deacon that has accepted any heretic’s Baptism or sacrifice, to be defrocked; for what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath the believer with an infidel?”

    The heretic priests do not have any priesthood, according with the 68th Apostolic canon and the similar ones. This Canon commands that if any Bishop or Presbyter or Deacon accepts the baptism or any other ceremony of heretics, to be unfrocked.

    The ecumenists however accept the mysteries of the heretics since they perform mixed marriages which are forbidden by the 72nd canon of the 6th Ecumenical Synod.



5) 1st canon of the Antioch Synod:

“Let anyone that dares to paralyze the term of the holy and great Synod which it was constituted in Nikea during the presence of his devoutness Godliked King Constantine, concerning the feast of the salvating Pascha, to be excommunicated and outcasted from the Church…”

    This canon concerns the change of the calendar. At the 24th of February of 1852, the Pope Gregory XIII arbitrarily replaced the calendar (Julian) which the Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Synod had instituted with a new one which was created by his astrologers. In his honor this new calendar was named Gregorian. Thus, besides the up to that time anathemas (12 of them) that the Orthodox Church had enforced in the Catholic Church, they were also condemned from this 1st canon of the Antioch Synod and all the other mutual canons.


6) Synodical condemns of the papal calendar:

a) At 1583 in the Constantinople, when the Patriarch of Constantinople was Ieremias II the Tranos, a year after the insertion of the Papal calendar in the West, Pope’s act was condemned from the Synod that took place, being there not only the Synodic Metropolitans but also the Patriarch Silvestros of Alexandria and the Patriarch Sofronios of Jerusalem.

The decision precisely defines:

“Siggilio of Patriarchical narration of encyclical of the Orthodox Christians everywhere, about not to accept the new Paschalion or Calendar of the innovative menologion, but to remain in the principial and well phrased by the holy (318) three hundred and eighteen Godbearing Fathers of the Holy Ecumenical and First Synod with penance and Anathema.

Year since Jesus Christ αφπγ’ (1583)

12th of Indiktionos 20th of November

Patriarch Ieremias II of Constantinople

Patriarch Silvestros of Alexandria

Patriarch Sofronios of Jerusalem

and the rest of the Archpriests being present in the Synod.


b) At 1593 in the Constantinople when the Patriarch of Constantinople was Ieremias II. The Synod’s attendees and deciders were the Patriarch Meletios of Alexandria representing also the Patriarch Ioakim VII of Antioch, the Patriarch Sofronios IV of Jerusalem and forty other Archpriests. The Synod issued 20 canons or chapters. The 8th canon condemned for second time the papal innovation of the calendar.

    It is as it follows:


Toward disposing the New Calendar

that is about the Latin’s innovation of the Pascha.

“We decided to keep unmoved the appointed by the Fathers Holy and Salvating Pascha…Whoever dares to paralyze the terms of this Holy feast of the Salvating Pascha, is to be Excommunicated and Outcasted from the Church of Christ.”

Patriarch Ieremias II of Constantinople

Patriarch Meletios of Alexandria

Patriarch Ioakim of Antioch

Patriarch Sofronios of Jerusalem

and the rest of the Archpriests being present in the Synod.


c) Also at 1848 Patriarch Anthimos of Constantinople summoned a Patriarchical Synod in which were gathered, the other three Patriarchs, Ierotheos of Alexandria, Methodios of Antioch and Kirilos of Jerusalem along with twelve more Bishops.

The encyclical which was issued by the Synod states among others the following:

…”We hold the confession which we received pure (sincere) by elder men, disregarding every innovation which is narrated by the Devil. He who accepts innovation considers insufficient the already preached Orthodox faith. But this (the faith) being complete is already sealed, not accepting neither additions or subtractions or alterations thus if someone does these and even if one dares either to act or advice or even think these, he already had denied the faith of the Christ, he already willingly was casted in the eternal anathema…..Thus every innovative or heretic or in schism willingly have wore what the psalmist said ‘curse as a clothe…’ ”.

The Ecumenical Patriarch Anthimos

Patriarch Ierotheos of Alexandria

Patriarch Methodios of Antioch

Patriarch Kirilos of Jerusalem

and the rest of the Archpriests of the Synod


d) At 1904 when Patriarch of Constantinople was Ioakim III with an encyclical which was expressing the opinion of all the Orthodox Churches, the Gregorian calendar was condemned and any idea of reforming the Julian calendar was denied.

“…reverent and solid is that which through the centuries is preserved by the Church’s approval: the eternally acting Paschalion. The leaping by thirteen days of the Julian calendar and of our hagiology, which we vouchsafe intact, is unacceptable for any reason, either ecclesiological or scientific…”

After these condemning acts against the Roman Catholics concerning the calendar change, at 1924 some autonomous “Orthodox” Churches accepted the innovation of the Pope and imported the condemned (anathematized) calendar reformation in the worshiping life of the Church. Perhaps some will say that those Churches changed the calendar and not the Paschalion. This is a trap for the naive. Because, the calendar and the Paschalion are bonded together in the Church. Nevertheless what is the meaning of accepting the Gregorian calendar and to continue keeping the Julian Pascha? First that they altered the traditions of the Holy Fathers concerning the Julian calendar and the Paschalion since they admit that they added another calendar, which means that the 1st canon of the Antioch Synod is in effect for them. Second, the Paschalion circle of the Church is being disturbed. For example after the feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14th of September) the second Sunday we start reading the Gospel of the Evangelist Luke. Since the newcalendarists celebrate the Universal Exaltation of the Holy Cross with the Gregorian calendar that makes the reading of Luke to start earlier and finish earlier (evangelical readings are being removed). Also from the Paschalion circle is depending the fasting of the Holy Apostles which many times is being nullified because of the Gregorian calendar.


Finally someone may ask. There are Churches which didn’t changed the Julian calendar but they kept it. Indeed there are, but they have fallen from the Orthodox faith because they participate in the Ecumenism. Bearer of the Orthodoxy is only the Church which is not participating in the Ecumenism nor has changed the Julian calendar.