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The objection of the Orthodox

The pro-ecumenist tendencies that first appeared in the Orthodox Church as well as the change of the traditional church calendar at the beginning of the previous century were confronted by the courageous reaction of the Orthodox faithful of Greece. The change of the church calendar was intentionally insidious and sudden, the Orthodox people not even realizing the betrayal. So when on March 12, 1924, the bells began ringing happily all over the country, the people were surprised and asked each other “Why are the bells ringing? Is there a celebration today?” The answer was given in the churches: “Today is the celebration of the Annunciation of the Theotokos! (March 25th)”, and the faithful people in sadness and indignation repeated constantly “Alas, they have turned us into Franks!” (i.e., Roman Catholics).

God, however, did not abandon the crew of His Church into the hands of the innovators. At the same time as this treacherous attitude of the innovative hierarchy of the Church of Greece, God illumined and encouraged men who had zeal and faith in the tradition of their Orthodox ancestors. One week after the decision to change the calendar people gathered and created “The Orthodox Society” which, when it became a Pan-Hellenic movement in 1926, was renamed “The Greek Religious Community of Genuine Orthodox Christians.” The main concern of this religious institution was serving the faithful in the non-innovated Orthodox faith, the creation of local communities throughout the country, and to provide priests who came from Mount Athos. For historical accuracy and to honor these fighting martyrs they are: Ioannis Sideris, the Chairman of the Association, Andreas Vaporidis, Andrianos Papadimitriou, Konstantinos Karagiannidis, the (then) monks Paisios (Filokaliotakis), Chrisanthos (Vrettaros) and others. This reaction of the faithful was not expected by the innovating Church. Consequently, since they could not manage to subdue them, they tried to impose their decisions by force.  In 1925, the Committee of the G.O.C. decided to celebrate the Holy Theophany at the coastal location of Palaio Faliro. The archbishop of the new calendar church learned of this decision and accused the assembly as saboteurs of democracy to the government.  The police besieged the church in which the G.O.C. were gathered, and dispersed the congregation by force. The police arrested thirty people and led them off to the police office for a body search in order to discover incriminating evidence. They found nothing in this search except some religious objects, and the police officer shouted: “Democracy does not fall by Gospel books, crosses and prayer ropes!”

The miracle of the appearance of the Holy Cross in the sky during the vigil of the night of September 13-14, 1925, on the outskirts of Athens, encouraged the G.O.C. to face the coming persecutions. Here we provide a characteristic extract about this occurrence from the newspaper “Helliniki”: “…two thousand people saw this phenomenon, of the exquisite grace of God’s gift, on their knees and crying, as they watched for over half an hour, because the Holy Cross overshadowed the church. The police saw the miracle and became so excited by this that they left their guns and joined the faithful offering doxology and prayer to the Lord of Glory.”

The persecutions continued and the freedom of worship by the G.O.C. was repeatedly interrupted by the new-calendar church. Despite all of this, more of the population was continually drawn to the Genuine Orthodox Christian Church. As long as the population showed their disapproval of the innovative Archbishop Chrysostomos (Papadopoulos), so much the more did he harden the pressures.

In 1926, the Greek government was forced to moderate because of the general outcry against the misdeeds and violence of the new-calendar Archbishop Chrysostomos (Papadopoulos) against the old-calendarists. By a decision of the Minister of Internal Affairs, P. Tsaldari, the G.O.C. were allowed to freely exercise their religious ceremonies in privately-owned churches.  With another decision of the Ministers of Education and Internal Affairs (1933), the old-calendarsists were allowed to build privately-owned churches.

In 1927, a fighter for Orthodoxy, Constantine Karagiannidis, motivated by indignation over the confusion which had been introduced into the Greek Church by the innovative archbishop, decided to “meet” him. It was at the celebration of Saint Konstantinos (new calendar) and the new-calendar archbishop was about to liturgize at the holy church in Piraeus. As soon as the archbishop arrived and advanced with his escort to the Holy Bema, Constantine Karagiannidis stepped in front of him. The archbishop assumed that he wanted to take his blessing, but Karagiannidis suddenly removed from his pocket a pair of scissors and cut his beard. After this scuffles and arrests followed. Karagiannidis and three nuns were led off to the public prosecutor but after a trial they were acquitted.

For one decade the burden of the sacred struggle was borne by priest-monks from Mount Athos, certain priests who had left the new-calendar church and by the Christians who were constituted occasionally in the Council of the “Community of Genuine Orthodox Christians”. The devout population was continuously increasing. During this first decade the communities of the G.O.C. reached 800 throughout Greece.

In order to render due homage to the fighters and ringleader clergymen of the sacred struggle of that time, they were:. From Mount Athos Hieromonks: Eugenios (Lemonis), Gerasimos (Skourlis), Artemios (Nodarakis), Parthenios (Skourlis) (afterwards bishop of the Cyclades ), Artemios (Xenofontianos), Antonios (Koutsonikolas), Gideon (Papanikolaou), Ilarion (Ousounopoulos), Akakios (Papas) (afterwards bishop of Talantion), Priests Vasileios Sakelleropoulos, Constantine Karapostolou, Constantine Lagos, Stefanos Goulas, Savvas Papadopoulos, Michael Savvopoulos, Monks Marcos (Haniotis), Antonios (Moustakas), Victor (Matthaiou), and many others.

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