One of the chief marks of the previous century – the twentieth – was the Christian world's attempt to restore unity. After Papism fell away from the Church at the beginning of the second millennium (1054) and then the Protestant's subsequent breach with Papism in the 16th century, East and West were deeply divided and the West was much divided within itself. Yet the Church lost neither its unity nor its catholicity – its wholeness: heresy and schism may wound and scar the body of the Church but they do not divide it, just as a tree is not said to be divided if someone clips off one of its branches. From this viewpoint, the oft-used terms 'the undivided Church' of the first ten centuries and 'the union of the churches' are incorrect. The Church is ever undivided, be it after the schism of 1054 or any other schism whatsoever. Moreover, there are not many churches needing to be brought together: there is the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" alone, whose life continues undivided and uninterrupted in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Those heterodox Christians of the East and West who have broken away, falling into heresy and schism, cannot be called churches; they must instead seek union with the Church, denouncing heresy and delusion. Unity is not achieved by 'uniting the churches', but rather through 'union with the Church'.
Following the schism, throughout the whole of the second millennium, many attempts were made at achieving unity, in particular through the calling of great synods aimed at unity such as those of Lyon (1274) and Ferreira-Florence (1438-1439). Though union between the Orthodox and the Papists was officially accepted at the later of these and almost all of the Orthodox bishops in attendance signed the terms - with the exception of Saint Mark of Ephesus and a few others - it remained unapplied: nothing more than a simple piece of paper. These councils did not aim at true Christian peace and unity - unity in truth; they did not ground themselves on the true model of unity as is found in the teaching of Christ, the Apostles and the Saints. Rather, like Unia, they were based on newly invented, false models of unity which serve ulterior motives – other malevolent, egotistical, autocratic, divisive motives. These not only failed to help the cause of unity, but enlarged the chasm and provoked new divisions. The members of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics concluded this unanimously at the sixth plenary session of the Commission's General Assembly held at Freising, Germany in June 1990. The text they signed reads as follows: "Unia as a method – wherever it was applied - did not succeed in its aim of bringing about rapprochement between the churches. Conversely, it brought on new divisions. The situation that it created became the cause of conflicts and trials which have left their mark on the collective memory and consciousness of the two churches. Thus for ecclesiological reasons the conviction that other methods should be sought has been made firm." (¶ 6c)
Papal and Patriarchal texts, studies produced by theologians and even the Theological Dialogue itself create the chimerical impression that the supposed new model of unity being sought after is the ecclesiological model of 'sister churches'. In connection to this the aforementioned Freising text writes: "Now that our Churches have come together on the ecclesiological foundation of communion between sister churches, it would be a grievous matter to destroy the excellent work toward the unity of the Churches achieved through the Dialogue by returning to the method of Unia." (¶ 6d) This model indeed applies when speaking about relations between the local autocephalous churches of the Orthodox Church, where conciliarity on both the local and international levels prevents anyone from asserting universal jurisdiction not only over the other patriarchs, but also over the ecumenical councils. The Vatican, on the other hand, does not accept, nor is it going to accept, the equality of the primates, or even that of the bishops, nor the supreme authority of the ecumenical councils. Such is apparent from the decisions of the Second Vatican Council as well as from its contemporary declarations and actions, like the abolition of the Pope's ancient title 'Patriarch of the West' which limits his jurisdiction topically. Thus, the Vatican is deceiving us with the 'sister churches' model. In reality it seeks a new Unia; a Unia that is broader and elastic, having boundless diversity on matters of faith and life so long as the primacy of the Pope is recognized.
Fundamentally, this is the model espoused by the older version of Unia which allows those Christians in union with Rome to maintain their own liturgical rites, holy icons, vesture of clergy, and other customs and practices, in some cases not even demanding unity in faith. Seeing that the first model of unity that Papism used – that of Latinization – produced no long-standing results (whether applied violently, as it was during the Crusades, or through personal proselytism), the Jesuits invented the deceptive method of Unia as a more effective means of bringing about union with Rome. They did this despite the fact that Unia was neither a holy nor true means of union; but for the Jesuits 'the end justifies the means'. According to Christian ethics, however both the means and the end must be holy. Unity of faith and worship cannot be sacrificed in order to secure unity under the Pope, whose office is itself false and contrary to the Gospel since it subverts the God-given and apostolic model of administration – the synodical – to implement the absolute monarchy of the Pope. True unity is achieved through unity of faith, worship and administration: this is the model of unity in the ancient Church, which the Orthodox Catholic Church has maintained unswervingly. The method of Unia introduces a false unity, a unity in name only, because, outside of the fact that it allows for unlimited diversity in faith and worship, it is based on heretical ecclesiology since it overturns the Church's synodical system of administration – a divine institution – with the primacy of the Pope – a human institution. In the Church, diversity is only permitted in secondary matters of local tradition and practice, which do not touch on the fundamentals of faith and worship and administration.
Those who in our day adhere to and promote the true unity – unity in faith, worship and administration – are troubled by what has been plotted and packaged for us from above within the Theological Dialogue, without the knowledge of the people. There at the Dialogue, as expressed in the Ravenna text (which was also discussed in October 2009 in Cyprus) the Papists lured the Orthodox into discussion of the imaginary universal 'primacy' of the Pope, without which no proposed union can be accepted by Luciferian Papism.
We have a new Unia at our doors; on account of this the co-chair of the Dialogue's Mixed Committee, Cardinal Casper, expressed his satisfaction at the fact that the Orthodox discussed the universal primacy of the Pope in some form for the first time in centuries. We have been deceived by the Vatican: there can be no union with the Papists without the primacy of the Pope. For it to be otherwise they would have to call an 'ecumenical council' to change their ecclesiology, to change the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church produced at Vatican II. Even if the Roman Catholic theologians involved in the Dialogue were convinced by the Orthodox and they signed a text rejecting any form of Papal primacy, accepting that the Pope – along with the other Patriarchs – are first in honour alone, and accepting that above all is the authority of the Ecumenical Councils, this text would be immediately rejected by Rome. It would be made to disappear, as if it had never been produced. This is precisely what occurred with the Freising text of 1990 which condemned Unia. Rome rejected it, it disappeared and Rome lured us into the composition of a new text on Unia at Balamand, Lebanon in 1993. There, a reduced Orthodox delegation (without representation from six autocephalous churches) exonerated Unia along with the Papist theologians so as to be in line with Vatican II, which praises Unia, and so that it might remain a model for unity with the Orthodox as per the Ravenna and Cyprus texts. Rome, therefore, accepts only what is in line with its own innovations and rejects the things of the Gospel and of the Church. Can this facade, this caricature of a dialogue be considered a dialogue? Is it acceptable for us to participate in an ostensible, false, disingenuious dialogue, a dialogue whose outcome is already known: that is to say, the rejection of all that does not agree with Papal dogma?
Since the repose of Archbishop Seraphim, our ecclesiastical leadership's stance on these matters has been disappointing. We have even arrived at the point that many of us are considering invoking the 15th canon of the First-Second Council (called by Saint Photios in 861), which permits cessation of the commemoration of those bishops who are not upholding Orthodoxy, just as was done in 1970 when Metropolitan Augustinos of Florina, the ever-memorable Metropolitans Paul of Paramythia and Ambrose of Elevtheropolous, and almost all of the Monasteries of Mount Athos ceased commemoration of Patriarch Athenagoras.
Though the clouds of Ecumenism and Philo-Papism are yet thick, the horizon has again begun to open - there are streams of light; there is the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece's decision from last October to provide guidelines for its representatives at the Theological Dialogue in discussions of the Pope's 'primacy', returning it to the path of the Holy Fathers; there is also your strong voice, your tireless and unceasing action, Your Eminence [addressing Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus]. Your boldness and outspokenness on a host of matters of faith and life amazes us. Already you have been placed at the head of the anti-Papal and anti-ecumenical struggle as today’s conference, taking place under your patronage, proves; there are those amongst your fellow bishops who signed the Confession of Faith against Ecumenism together with you, and there are other bishops who did not sign but do agree; there are the six hagiorite and a host of other monasteries – male and female - who have signed; hundreds of abbots, hieromonks, married clergy, monks, and thousands of laity who have signed and continue to sign and who, surpassing every expectation, have flooded this great auditorium tonight.
We hope and believe that we will not be led into a new Unia, into the recognition of the universal primacy of the Pope in any form. If, however, the powerful and influential, the new Beccuses, Basserions, and Isidores, impose this development, all of us, with God's help and the prayers of the Most-Holy Theotokos and all the saints who have struggled and confessed the faith, will once again quash it and ensure it is not applied.
A Talk Given by Protopresbyter Theodoros Zisis ,Professor Emeritus of the Theological School of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, at the Metropolis of Piraeus' Conference on the Theme "‘Primacy,' Synodicality and the Unity of the Church"
Peace and Friendship Stadium, 28 April 2010
Peace and Friendship Stadium, 28 April 2010