“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem …” or we may now lament, “O Constantinople, Constantinople!” *
Once you were a defender of true Orthodoxy, and now you have begun to promote worldly political agendas. Once you preached the heavenly homeland, and now you are grasping at earthly power!
Rise up! Not in defense of your own rights and powers but rather in the humble defense of Truth and Orthodoxy, then we will gladly follow you!
My Grandmother is a full-blooded Greek, my lineage on that side goes back to Cappadocia where my ancestors lived for ages (they left during the exchange of populace). It is a great encouragement to know that many Greeks (including my ancestors) stood like an anvil in Holy Orthodoxy under the relentless hammer of Turkish Muslim rule.
Did they endure persecution, the seizure of property, and even death for the Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople? Or was it rather for the Truth of Holy Orthodoxy? Yes, ultimately, it was for the love of Christ Jesus and His Church, Orthodoxy, that they endured.
Orthodox Greeks, do you not see your fellow Orthodox brothers and sisters in Ukraine suffering valiantly, as once your ancestors did? They have been persecuted by Government forces, heretics, and radical nationalists. They have lost church buildings, they have been forced out of homes, they have been beaten – all for the same Holy Truth for which your ancestors stood. Now, will you not stand with your Orthodox brethren? Or will your own ancestors condemn you, your silence, and for some, your active support of falsehood? Rise up! Stand in your laudable heritage as defenders of Orthodoxy!
Does not the blood of Christ Jesus in Holy Communion bind all Orthodox together in a manner greater than ethnic bloodlines (as great as they may be)? Are we not all of the “Orthodox race” through holy baptism?
In the Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius, it is noted that Christians had this mindset, “Those who have manfully contended for the truth rather than for their country and who have struggled for piety rather than their dearest friends.” Would that we would again be such as these!
Yet, at current we hear from certain sectors only about “ours,” “our nation,” and “our patriarch.” We would be wise to remember that in Christ the Lord “there is neither Jew nor Greek … all are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). This is not an obliteration of nationality but a confession that through being in Christ a person transcends nationalism. The only thing which will save a person is being in Christ the Lord. No national pedigree will save a man, as grand as it may be. Indeed only in Christ can each nation be truly perfected. We see the beauty of this national striving reflected in ideals such as Byzantium and Holy Rus’.
Orthodox faithful, we are called to contend for Truth! Nowhere are we commanded to place “ethnos” above Truth. This betrays a complete loss of Gospel vision. This betrays a darkening of the spiritual nous.
I have no ill will towards the Ecumenical Patriarchate (EP) but the EP is not Orthodoxy, nor is it the sole standard thereof, nor a “first without equals.” The EP is called, as every Patriarchate and every Bishopric, to uphold the standard of Orthodoxy. This standard is not directly equated with or contained in one Patriarch or Bishop. Rather, every Patriarch, Bishop, Priest, Monk, and Layman is subject to the Gospel and Holy Orthodoxy – to rightly divide the Word of Truth. (Let one recall the numerous times that the EP and other Patriarchates have espoused heretical teaching throughout history.)
I have outlined in a number of other articles how nefarious the false church in Ukraine is, which is under the EP.
“You shall know them by their fruits,” says our Lord (Matt. 7:16). The testimony of the fruit of the false church in Ukraine, which is supported by the EP, is that it is not Christian. Its “hierarchs” are indeed wolves in sheep’s clothing, mercenaries in pastoral garb.
Does the EP have the authority to override the Gospel? Does it have the power to turn stones into children of Israel? It does not. (Only true repentance can truly change a man by grace.)
Why is a lie being promoted as truth? The claim put forth by the Greek Archdiocese of America is that “In Ukraine he (Mr. Epiphany) has already provided the Solomon-like wisdom that was needed to reunify the Church, return to Eucharistic unity, and establish it as an integral member of the group of autocephalous Orthodox Churches worldwide.”
This is a preposterous and outright deceptive claim; every point in it is false. The facts are that Epiphany (and those under him) has caused greater division and promoted persecutions; he has acted in an altogether unchristian manner. May we now be heathen inwardly as long as we wear pretty vestments? May we be full of dead man’s bones, as long as we work “as a defender of the religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate …”? What does it say of such “freedoms” when it enlists false christians to defend it?
No “reunification” has taken place at all! Rather Epiphany of Apostasy has only promoted disunity, together with those behind him. Lord, please preserve us from “Eucharistic unity” with the likes of these!
Has the EP replaced Christ the Lord as the standard of Holy Orthodoxy and the Head of the Church? Is he the new Pope of Orthodoxy? Has the goal of maintaining the perceived honor and prestige of the EP replaced the true Christian vocation of being a humble servant of Christ the Lord and His Church? Has “ethnos” gained a place of prominence above being of the Faith?
Have we forgotten the spiritual joy our Christian forefathers experienced when they suffered persecution and disdain from the world for the sake of the Cross of our Lord? Is preserving worldly prestige of more value than that honor that comes from God alone?
“A dispute also arose among the disciples as to which of them … was the greatest. And Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become the youngest, and the leader as one who serves ‘” (Lk. 22:24-26).
Today we strive to defend “prestige” through any means. How far we have fallen!
The growing “recognition” of the false “Met.” Epiphany by those who promote a narrow Greek “ethnos” is an absolute disgrace and travesty. It is a betrayal of everything true Greeks stood and fought for.
How can an uncanonical “Bishop” with an illegitimate “ordination” who heads a “church” that actively persecutes (with violent acts) the longstanding true and canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church be legitimate in any way? The Scripture says, “If anyone says ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn. 4:20).
Are we so in love with our own selves that the Scriptures are no longer relevant? Are we simply going to praise whitewashed tombs because they serve worldly political agendas and personal aggrandizement? Will we be silent as true Christians suffer and false ones are exalted? Woe to us if we lose our salt, for we will be trampled underfoot even in our pretty vestments. Woe to us when we call evil good. And such an action is calling that which is evil – schism, division, and persecution – good. Or as another priest has already said, “somehow this looks completely demonic.”
Those that promote and agree with these actions are in fact participants in them. They themselves are also facilitators of the persecution of the True Church in Ukraine; their hands are also stained with blood.
The glorification of schismatics is heresy. Serving with them is apostasy.
Will other Orthodox Hierarchs speak against this machination of the EP? In America will we remain silent as the leaders of the Greek Archdiocese actively promote a false church in Ukraine and glorify its leader, Epiphany? What unity can we have with those who have made it explicitly clear that they are in total unity with schismatics? Let us not deceive ourselves, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9).
Will we stand with the true Hierarch of Ukraine, His Beatitude, Met. Onuphry, and the suffering faithful there?
Will Orthodox Greeks honor their laudable ancestry and heritage by speaking out in defense of their true Orthodox brethren in Ukraine? Or will they become like new Turks: participants in the active persecution of fellow Orthodox brethren?
*Nov. 2019. I originally penned this article in September for Russian Faith. I wrote it upon hearing that the Greek Archdiocese of America was planning to give a “human rights” award to Epiphany. I have modified it slightly but I believe the points I made then are just as or even more valid in light of the continuing development of events.
** Aug. 2022. Since I penned this article almost three years ago, much has transpired. Many more under the sway of “ethnos” and “primacy” have entered into communion with the false “church” in Ukraine. Epiphany is set to travel to Greece in September of this year and serve with the primate of the Church in Greece and Pat. Bartholemew. Thus, it seems, very sadly, these few years later my appeal to Orthodox Greeks still is pertinent.