The position in support homosexuality shared by some Orthodox representatives present at Chambery created deep anxiety among the hierarchs as some Church leaders are striving to change the Scripture, the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church and the teaching of the Holy Fathers.
Such debates prove indisputably our current society pressure to weaken the supporting pillars of Orthodoxy.
The Preparation of THE INTER-ORTHODOX Commission
The Special Commission for the preparation of 2016 Great Pan-Orthodox Synod/ Council of the Orthodox Church met on February 16 – 20, at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Chambery – Geneva, under the chairmanship of Metropolitan of Pergamum, Ioannis Ziziulas, a respectable scholar and academician.
For more than 50 years, the Orthodox await this Synod and yet the preparations are not completed. When the Primates of the Orthodox Churches met at the Fanar at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in March last year, it was decided that the Pan-Orthodox Synod will take place in the summer of 2016 in Constantinople.
The NEED to UPDATE the patristic TEXTS?
It appears that many texts prepared to be reviewed at this meeting by the Orthodox bishops are no longer current, due to past eras of the Cold War and especially the communist regimes of Eastern Europe. Therefore, in order to revise the outdated texts, the patriarchs and the archbishops had formed a new Commission consisting of representatives of all the 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches.
The purpose of this Commission was to update these texts in order to be accepted by the bishops who will attend the Synod next year, and all the decrees of the Council, as agreed last March by the primates, should be taken jointly.
It is difficult to determine how long it will tale the hierarchs to fulfill this purpose, since their predecessors had decades to prepare texts which now will be subject to review.
In any case, if we consider the contents of this February meeting in Chambery, it is better not to rush to decisions, and better if this Synod will not meet at all, since some who will participate in it, are ready to amend not only the works of past century theologians, but the very Scripture, the Holy Canons of the Church and the writings of the Holy Fathers.
This time the primates that gathered in Switzerland discussed a text that was drafted at the third Pan-Orthodox Pre-Synodic meeting from 1986 with the resounding title: “The contribution of the Orthodox Church in promoting peace, justice, freedom, brotherhood and love between people for the elimination of racial or other forms of discrimination”.
The hierarchs of the Eastern bloc were the ones who put this text on the Synod agenda, as not long ago they had to report to their communist rulers that their “professional journeys” abroad were not in vain reassuring their rulers that they are laboring for “peace” as peace could be defined in the Eastern bloc.
Meanwhile many things have changed at the political level and although we are still very far from brotherhood and love among nations, the battle against racial discrimination is not as acute. Indeed, the apartheid in South Africa is a file of the past, while black colonial countries have managed to gain their independence, and a representative of the formerly oppressed race lives in the White House leading the most powerful nation of the contemporary world.
Backstage SHAMEFUL DISPUTES
No one would have expected this text to cause such heated discussions among the participants.
As it turned out, the acute divergences were on the subject regarding the rights of sexual minorities. The Metropolitan of Pergamum euphemistically called them “other minorities” which, in his opinion, should be protected from any kind of discrimination and injustice.
“We have no right to humble and victimize the image of God,” said – according to reliable sources – the 84 years old theology professor, while addressing his “heartless” colleagues. “Let us ask ourselves if we need to consider homosexuals scapegoats who deserve to suffer persecution. And if we don’t want to establish that these people must be protected, it means that we want to be punish and imprison them.”
Thus the Metropolitan by trying to assume the creed of those who support anti-racism, in fact he supported the anti-Orthodox bill passed by the Greek parliament under pressure of the European Union.
We remember that this bill was the subject of criticism from His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus and from several other church leaders worthy of respect and with great spiritual authority, that represent the healthy part of Greek society.
But the endeavors to incorporate in the text of the Holy Synod the claim for respect of “minorities of other nature” and the guarantee to “express freely according to their principles”, has not been supported by the majority.
Then another “theology” professor, dean of the Orthodox Theological Institute in Chambery, Vlaslios Feidas, in aim to help the Metropolitan Ioannis, stressed:
“There are sexual minorities, but they are just as we, members of the Orthodox Church. They also participate in the church life. They are sinners, but we are all sinners. The state recognizes them, as respectable members of society, therefore we, in turn, must not ignore them. Sexual sins are under no circumstance the grievous, so we must face the GL community not by conviction, but with love and respect.”
Among the participants there were very few at first to share this position. Conversely, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, lead by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, absolutely disagreed. This position of respect for homosexual communities and their protection against persecution, would neither be endorsed by the Patriarchate of Antioch, nor by Metropolitan Basil in Syria, where Christians suffer severe persecution because of their faith, nor by Metropolitan of Montenegro Amfilohios, who courageously resisted the “Gay Pride Festival” in the capital city of his country, nor by the other hierarchs.
The 7 hours intense psychological coercion practiced by the Chairman of the Committee on the participants who did not let go the subject, resulted in a compromise amendment that “sexual minorities should not be discriminated against, and this will not imply that others share their opinions and principles.”
All Greek hierarchies including Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetriates voted this amendment, to our great sorrow and shame. Bishop Ignatius alleged that in Greece “the supporters of Nazi ideology” is attacking the sexual minorities.
The amendment was also voted by the Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messina, Bishop George of Paphos (Cyprus), Archbishop Aristarchus of Constantia (Patriarchate of Jerusalem) and the Metropolitan Sergei of Good Hope (the Patriarchate of Alexandria).
The compromise of shame was strongly opposed by Metropolitans Hilarion, Basil and Amfilohios (mentioned above), but also by the hierarchs representing Serbian, Bulgarian, Georgian and Romanian Orthodox Churches.
All these hierarchs, to their honor, have not changed their position and because of them, the awaited revision of Orthodox theology to protect homosexuals has not been accomplished. Thanks to their firm opposition, the revised text will not be submitted to Great Synod next year.
Thus the Holy Orthodox Church will continue to call any sin as evil and the good deeds as good; will not remove from the Holy Scripture the chapter on Sodom and Gomorrah, or the words of the Apostle Paul who says “no homosexuals will inherit the kingdom of God.” (I Cor. 6:9-10)
But the fact that such discussions took place between those whom God had appointed to shepherd His flock and to guard of the Orthodox Faith inflicts deep anxiety on the faithful. And the behavior of certain bishops, who in the name of political correctness fear this world more than the Lord, betraying the teachings of the Holy Fathers, inflicts our hearts with deep sorrow.
Originally published by
a Greek news paper at: translated by blog author
See below a replica of Professor Theodore Yiangou
Chairman of the Department of Pastoral Theology AUTH
It is known that last February (from 16th to the 20th of the month), the Patriarchal Center of Chambesy met for the second time (the first meeting was held from September 29 to October 3, 2014). The Inter-Orthodox Special Committee, was established to update and correct Prosynodikon Texts to be referred to the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, which, according to the announcement of the Synaxis of the Primates (March 2014), will convene in Istanbul in 2016.
The purpose of the Special Commission’ work this time was to update the text entitled: “The contribution of the Orthodox Church in the prevalence of peace, justice, freedom, brotherhood and love among peoples and the elimination of racial and other discrimination.” This text was written in the climate of the time, when the Cold War dominated. Today, however, the situation changed, new threats has proliferated and other pressing problems appeared. So the Church is called not to offer “new wine in old wineskins.” The Commission worked with pride and above all with the deepest sense of respect for the ecclesiastical tradition and in service of the Holy Fathers theological truth. […] Indeed, if we consider the Holy and Great Council preparedness for decades and the increased expectations of the church […], this responsibility is therefore task.
The representatives of all the Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches worked as a body, engaging in a creative theological dialogue, always targeting the promotion of Church’s teaching. Nobody acted fragmentary or individually or intentionally to break the ecclesiastical unity. Thus the exchange of views and proposals helped as much as possible, to improve the documents.
This was the spirit and the work of the Commission. Unfortunately a few days ago on the web a text entitled: “Homosexuality, the bone of contention between the Orthodox hierarchs in Chambesy Geneva”, was published which completely distorts reality. From the initial site the same text was republished by others, who are accustomed to transforming the champions of Orthodoxy in mudslinging, a sample of their spiritual poverty.
The erroneous positions and information of the publication shall include:
Refers to this that some hierarchs supported homosexuality “and almost become the cause for the chapter of Sodom and Gomorrah to be deleted from the Bible'” The attitude and effort of the Bishops, according to this text, for modification of the Bible and the Holy Canons and of the Patristic teaching raises concern within the Church.
That “the conflicts … took stormy dimensions, according to exclusive information. It was also so heated and loud, to reach the hallway and the ears of both the technical staff of the Orthodox Center, and to the students studying orthodox theology there. ”
That amendment “of the great sorrow and shame … was voted by all Greek Hierarchs Greek” (“the Messenia Chrysostomos, Paphos George, Constantine Aristarchus and Good Hope Sergius ‘),’ including the Metropolitan of Demetrias, Ignatius.” In contrast the Slavs – rejected “the compromise of shame.”
The anonymous report claims that some (ie the Slavs-) have “not changed their minds until the end. Thanks to them the treacherous revision of Orthodox theology did not take place, so the position to protect homosexuals will not be incorporated into the text written for the Holy and Great Synod”
What is the target of the publication?
Aims: – to present the Orthodox Church divided, with the Greek-speaking Prelates offending the ecclesiastic tradition and Slavic-speaking champions;
– to undermine the validity of the Synod in ecclesiastical team, giving the impression of traitors.
– to eventually canceled the meeting of the Holy Synod. As stated verbatim in anonymous text: “And yet it would be better not to convene this Meeting at all, if those who are to take part in its activities, are ready to revise … the teaching of the Holy Fathers” ; a flimsy argument against convening the Meeting.
What is reality?
In the text agreed and signed by all the representatives of the Orthodox Churches, there is not one hint, not a single word, conveying the issue of homosexuality. Furthermore, this subject was not on the agenda. Therefore, in the agreed text there is no reference to homosexuality or worse in support of it.
This question arose purely by chance, during the debates, and no Hierarch advocated homosexuality.
Was even supported by declaratory, that the Church does not condemn people or God’ creation, but sin.
This is an fundamental and obvious principle of Christian anthropology. Even the penances imposed for repentant sinners, are not for punishment, but as pedagogy (Reg. 2 and 102 Quinisext). The saints of the Church prayed even for the salvation of the devil, and Christ taught the perfect love for all people.
It is worth mentioning the position of St. Theodore the Studite, that at Christ Second Coming only evil will be consumed by fire, and not God’s creation, namely the logical beings and the spirits. (c.f. PG 99, 1501AB).
The dialogue at Chambesy reflects the biblical and patristic theology. I repeat that no one argued otherwise. Moreover, the Church has a clear position that homosexuality is a passion.
The unsigned text can produce disinformation. It is sloppy journalism, which unfortunately shares responsibility for the spiritual decline of our country. Such texts increase our anxiety about the future of the ecclesiastical and theological discourse. […]
Whatever someone may claim as an excuse, it does not negate the truth of the facts that took place at the last meeting of the Special Committee in Chambesy. Furthermore it will be seen from the publication of the agreed text.
Because the Holy and Great Synod has vision, so we should all assist in its work.
Professor Theodore Yiangou
Chairman of the Department of Pastoral Theology AUTH
Translator disclaimer: I’m neither Greek nor Slave, I do not sympathize with any ethnic group as says the Scripture: “In Christ divided? … there is neither Greek nor Jew”
One cannot claim sympathy for the Slavs, when the “scandalous” article appeared in the Greek and not the Slavic press. As I agree in part with what Professor Theodore Yiangou said that some statements in the “scandalous “ article aim to create division within the CHURCH, lets not forget the past and recent century aggressive ecumenism of the Fanar and of some Hyerarchs who against the Church teachings participate in common prayers with the heretics and in the World Council of churches. It this kind of “dialogue” not aimed to create greater division among the orthodox faithful? A painful reality of our state today that shall no be hidden.
May God illumine us all.
Please pray for me a sinner!