ATHENAGORAS (1948-1972)

“The age of dogma has passed.”

Biographical Note

Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I (born Aristoklis Spyrou) was born on March 25, 1886 in the village Vasiliko, Pogoni (near Ioannina). Athenagoras was the son of a physician. He attended the seminary on the island of Halki, near Constantinople, and was ordained a deacon in 1910. He then moved to Athens, where he became a Mason, and he served there as archdeacon to the infamous Archbishop and fellow-Mason Meletios Metaxikis, who later became Patriarch, implemented the New Calendar and other innovations, and began the ‘search for unity’ with the heretics. Athenagoras was elevated to the Archbishopric of America in 1930 and continued in that office there until 1948 when he was elected Ecumenical Patriarch. In 1952, he issued an encyclical that officially approved Orthodox participation in the Ecumenical Movement and membership in the World Council of Churches, under certain conditions. In 1960, he organized the Pan-Orthodox Conference of Rhodes, which began the Ecumenists’ ever-deepening relationship with the Monophysites. In 1964, he met with Pope Paul VI in Jerusalem to pray together with him. On December 7, 1965, he ‘lifted’ the anathemas of the Orthodox Church upon Papism with all its attendant heresies (’the Pope is Christ on earth’, the Filioque, created grace, purgatory, etc.), and declared the unity of Orthodoxy and Papism. One of his canonists, Rev. Fr. Theodore T. Thalassinos, wrote at the time: “The removal of the mutual excommunications between the two Churches restores canonical relations between Rome and New Rome. This restoration is a canonical necessity, since there is no possible third situation between ecclesiastical communion and its negation: ecclesiastical excommunication” (Father Theodore T. Thalassinos, “The Goyan,” Winter 1968 [quoted in Macris, Priest G.P., The Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Movement During the Period 1920-1969 (Seattle, WA: St. Nectarios Press, 1986, p. 137]). Athenagoras would later confirm this, stating, in fact, that he gives communion to Roman Catholics and Anglicans. Other heretical actions and words are detailed below. He died an unhappy death on July 17, 1972 in Constantinople, and, contrary to custom, but by necessity, was given a closed-coffin funeral.

St. Peter’s
  Basilica-Rome (December 7, 1965) - The ‘Lifting’ of the Anathemas Metropolitan
  Meliton of Chalcedon With Pope Paul VI & His Cardinals.

St. Peter’s Basilica-Rome (December 7, 1965) -
The ‘Lifting’ of the Anathemas
Metropolitan Meliton of Chalcedon With Pope Paul VI & His Cardinals.

Patriarchal Cathedral
  of St. George-Constantinople (December 7, 1965) - The ‘Lifting’ Of the
  Anathemas-Athenagoras Announces the ‘Lifting’ Co-Enthroned with Cardinal Lawrence
  Shehan.

Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George-Constantinople
(December 7, 1965)
The ‘Lifting’ Of the Anathemas
Athenagoras Announces the ‘Lifting’
Co-Enthroned with Cardinal Lawrence Shehan.

On 7 December 1965, Cardinal Jan Willebrands read to the bishops of Vatican II the declaration of Pope Paul VI lifting the excommunication that the Envoy of Pope Leo IX had imposed on the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius, in 1054. At the same time, in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George in Constantinople, the synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate ‘lifted’ the anathemas imposed on the papal ambassadors in 1054 by Patriarch Michael Cerularius and the patriarchal synod of Constantinople and subsequently ratified and adopted by all orthodox churches.

Preface

Even if the stones do not cry out or the sun does not hide its face as it did at the God-hating apostasy of the Jews, yet the reader will no doubt be filled which such horror by the time that he finishes merely reading the pure apostate evil that spewed forth from the lips of this man, or rather, this wolf in sheeps’ clothing , so much so that no introduction or commentary will be necessary. Words fail when met with the mind that holds Truth irrelevant, that believes that the Church has been floundering in the darkness of division without the light of Christ until now, and that regards the precious Body and Blood of Christ so cheaply as to thoughtlessly approve giving it to any and all who boldly blaspheme Him. In as much as no civilized words can sufficiently comment on this, we will remain silent and let the reader’s upright and Christ-loving conscience speak for itself. Two sections follow: “Athenagoras On the Irrelevance of Dogma, the Already-Existent Unity of All, the Common Paschal Celebration, and Communion of All From the Common Cup” and “Athenagoras’ Meetings With the ‘Great’ Vatican II Popes, Protestants, and Monophysites” [all sources are cited immediately following the quotations or newspaper accounts].

***************************************************

Athenagoras On the Irrelevance of Dogma, the Already-Existent Unity of All, the Common Paschal Celebration, and Communion of All From the Common Cup

[Most of the following material appeared in the Greek periodical EkklhsistikoV (No. 48 [May 1970], pp. 3-4).]

“We are deceived and we sin, if we think that the Orthodox faith came down from Heaven and that all [other] creeds are unworthy. Three hundred million people have chosen Islam in order to reach their god, and other hundreds of millions are Protestants, Catholics, and Buddhists. The goal of every religion is to improve mankind” (from statements made by the Patriarch; see OrqodoxoV TupoV , No. 94 [December 1968]).

“The age of dogma has passed” (a statement by Patriarch Athenagoras; see AkropoliV [29 June 1963]).

Jerusalem (January 1964)
  - Patriarch Athenagoras Meets With and Prays With Pope Paul VI.Athenagoras Celebrates
  the Impending Union With Cardinal Mpea, Its Chief Vatican Orchestrater.

Left: Jerusalem (January 1964) - Patriarch Athenagoras
Meets With and Prays With Pope Paul VI.
Right: Athenagoras Celebrates the Impending Union
With Cardinal Mpea, Its Chief Vatican Orchestrater.

“We are living in a new era. Let us lay aside the past and let us leave the theological issues which divide us to the pundits and the experts; as for us, from this very moment let us aim always to be united through the love of Christ” (from the Patriarch’s address to the Melkite [Uniate] Patriarch Maximus IV; see Kaqolikh , No. 1373 [22 January 1964]).

“We are being called upon to free ourselves from the nets of polemic and controversy in theology and to equip theology with the spirit of inquiry and the formulation of the truth in love and patience. Christianity, today, needs a theology of reconciliation” (from a homily given by the Patriarch at the Faculty of Theology in Belgrade, October 12, 1967; see EqnoV [an Athens daily, no longer in circulation], [13 October 1967]).

“In the movement for union, it is not a question of one Church moving towards the other, but let us all together refound the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, coexisting in the East and the West, as we lived up until 1054, in spite of the theological differences that existed then” (from the Patriarch’s 1967 Christmas message; see Apo thn poreian thV agaphV, p. 87).

Athenagoras and Pope
  Paul VI Hold Hands As They Conduct A ‘Dialogue of Love'.Athenagoras and Paul VI
  Pray Together Before Trapeza in a Side Chapel in the Vatican.

Left: Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI Hold Hands
As They Conduct A ‘Dialogue of Love’.
Right: Athenagoras and Paul VI Pray Together Before Trapeza
in a Side Chapel in The Vatican.

“All of the Christian Churches are journeying, today, towards Church unity. Christian peoples have grown weary of looking at the darkness of the past. The interminable quarrels of nine whole centuries have led to nothing other than the spiritual coldness of many people and an obfuscation of their awareness that the Church is one” (from a homily given by the Patriarch in an Anglican Cathedral in London, November 11, 1967; see Apo thn poreian thV agaphV , p. 28).

“The exodus of all of us from isolation and self-sufficiency in the quest for that terra firma [Latin - ‘solid ground’] on which the undivided Church is founded, has revealed to us the truth that there are more things that unite us and fewer that divide us” (from remarks made by the Patriarch during his meeting with Pope Paul VI in Rome, October 26, 1967; see Kaqolikh , No. 1562 [27 December 1967]).

“We Churches are all emerging from ourselves. We are awakening the consciences of Christians to the fact that we belong to the same religion. We are making the longing for union the predominant demand of our age. We are lowering the banners of hatred and, in their place, we are raising the Cross of love and sacrifice. And finally, we are exchanging Holy Cups with each other, praying that we may, one day, commune from the same Cup, as we used to live during the first millennium of Christianity, in spite of the differences that existed then” (from a homily given by the Patriarch in the Orthodox Cathedral in London, November 12, 1967; see Apo thn poreian thV agaphV , p. 42).

“We are conducting this dialogue with the object of reaching the same goal, which is the common Cup--just as we were in the thousand years up until 1054. We had differences back then, because we had theologians back then, too, but those who governed the Churches had their own policies and we had Mysteriological (Sacramental) communion” (from a homily given by the Patriarch in the chapel of Lambeth Palace, London, November 13, 1967; see Apo thn poreian thV agaphV , p. 52).

Athenagoras Helps in the
  Vesting of Pope Paul VI With a Gold Orarion (A Gift) During Their Co-Worship.

Athenagoras Helps in the Vesting of Pope Paul VI
With a Gold Orarion (A Gift) During Their Co-Worship.

“We see no obstacle on the path leading to union between the Church of Rome and the Church of the East... We do not see an obstacle, for the very simple reason that such obstacles do not exist” (from statements made by the Patriarch on the occasion of his meeting with Pope Paul VI in Rome, October 26, 1967; see OrqodoxoV TupoV [a biweekly newspaper published by the Pan-Hellenic Orthodox Union], Nos. 90-91 [August-September 1968], p. 4).

“We have the same Faith, we worship the same God, we hold the same things sacred and holy. Tradition has divided us, but it is necessary to the incentive for union” (Rome, May 14, 1965, Reuters ; cited Orthodox Word, January-February-March 1966 issue, Vol. 2, No.1, p. 36).

“We have been seperated for 911 years and now the time has come for us to be found together again. The Catholics and the Orthodox do not belong to two different Churches, but to two branches of the same Church” (Milan, Nov. 2, 1965, Corriere de la Sera ; cited Orthodox Word, January-February-March 1966 issue, Vol. 2, No.1, p. 36).

Athenagoras
  participates in the Papal High Mass.

Athenagoras participates in the Papal High Mass.

“We have already achieved unity with Protestantism, whereby we constitute an allied force of 350 million individuals with regard to purely ecclesiastical issues. Concerning the Catholic Church, there have been many contacts and we are continuing these in an effort to bring about an alliance between the different branches of Christianity, which will embrace a population of one billion individuals. We have no differences with the Old Catholics. With the New Catholics [sic], especially after 1870, we have minor differences which can and should be ironed out” (from an interview given by the Patriarch to Greek journalists, in April of 1962; see Kaqolikh, No. 1289 [18 April 1962]).

Recent [1970--Trans.] statements by Athenagoras. “The rason (cassock) no longer has any appeal today, neither in appearance nor in purpose. If I’d seen you beforehand, I would have told you to give some other title to your article: ‘The rason does not make the Priest, the Priest must make the Priest, without the rason’ There you have it. Of course, we must be realistic and, above all, we mustn’t be afraid of the truth. We say oftentimes that this or that item is historical and must endure. A mistake. A big mistake. How many preconceptions in the Church are not historical--I mean ancient--and we struggle to free ourselves from them? Ask village Priests what Christians want from Priests, who have nothing to do with our Church and are remnants of paganism. I’ve made my views quite clear regarding the marriage of clergymen, even after they have been ordained. Ordination is not an impediment to marriage. We would have many graduates of theological schools who would be Priests, if they knew that they could get married when they found their partner for life, and not in haste, as it’s demanded by convention. We would have decided on this at a clergy-laity congress of the Church in America, and I would have settled this matter, but I wasn’t able to. I was summoned here [to Constantinople--Trans.]. I’m glad you published the entire address by Metropolitan [Meliton] of Chalcedon [concerning Mardi Gras--editorial note in the Greek original]. He spoke the truth plain and simple, like people want it. People don’t want you to confuse things, because they think you’re laughing at them and making fun of them. Meliton is quite a personality. We don’t have many of them. He’s the voice of the Phanar, the voice of the centuries. The centuries have given us courage and strength. What else have we got here? Some people, naturally, accuse us of not holding to a good line, but they’re being negative. I’d be very happy if they proposed their own solution to the endeavor of the union of the Churches. They tell us, ’ We want union and we pray for the union of all, but we’re against your endeavor.’ You get the point? They’re in favor of union, but against our endeavor. Was not Meliton right, after all, when he talked about hypocrisy? We propose the Holy Cup as the means of union. We had the common Cup even when we separated from the West, up until 1050. The Schism took place, and we stopped. The Schism took place because of the anathema. The anathema between the two Churches, of the West and Constantinople, has been lifted. What obstacle is there? Let’s find it, let’s talk about it with a good attitude, not with insults. Can there be a dialogue of love when there are insults? ‘But we have many differences,’ they tell us. What differences? The Filioque? It existed since the seventh century, and the Churches didn’t separate. Primacy and Infallibility? What do we care about them? Let every Church maintain its own customs. If the Catholic Church wants it, let it keep it. But I ask you: What does Infallibility mean today, when the Pope has a permanent fifteen-member council in Rome which makes the decisions? Besides, we all think we’re infallible--in our work, in our thoughts, in everything. Does your wife ask you how much salt to put in the food? Certainly not. She has her infallibility. Let the Pope have his, if he wants it. We don’t want it. Theological dialogue won’t grant it. We’re not ready, and centuries will be needed. Only one dialogue is feasible: the dialogue of love. This will facilitate the dialogue regarding differences. Differences and love can’t coexist. It does not matter what others do to you, but what you do to them” (from an interview given by the Patriarch to the journalist Spyridon Alexiou, from the newspaper EqnoV, and published on March 20, 1970.)

“Christian humanity has been living for centuries in the night of division. Its eyes have become heavy from gazing into the darkness. May this meeting of ours be the dawn of a shining and holy day, wherein future generations of Christians will commune from the same Cup of the precious Body and Blood of the Lord and will praise and glorify the one Christ and Savior of all in love, peace, and unity” (from the Patriarch’s address to Pope Paul VI during their meeting in Jerusalem, January 5, 1964; see To Oikoumenikon Patriarceion [The Ecumenical Patriarchate], a volume published by Kriton Georgiades in honor of the twentieth anniversary of Athenagoras’ Patriarchate [p. 17]).

“Let us inaugurate the third period of the Church, the period of love, in reconciliation and in unity and coexistence on an equal footing, until we meet together once again, according to the Lord’s good pleasure, in the common Cup of His precious Body and Blood, as we lived up until 1054, in spite of the differences that existed then.... It is time for ‘love to bury the deadwood, to lay age-old hatreds to rest, to free the enslaved truth and the imprisoned realities.... ‘The world needs a strong current of love,’ that can sweep away barriers, prejudices, and mistrust” (from the Patriarch’s 1966 Paschal message; see Kaqolikh, No. 1536 [3 May 1967]).

“Where is Christ the Savior? In our divisions, we have chased Him away.... Thus, today, does history, valiantly restoring the truth of things, summon the responsible leaders and hierarchies of the Churches to enlist theology, now as a handmaid, and make ‘man,’ for whose sake God became man, the sole purpose of their existence and mission, and portray him in a positive light, at this tragic hour of his..., with the watchword of unconditional and unbounded love.... There is no other way of achieving this. The major ecclesiastical events of the last six years, especially our three successive meetings with His Holiness, Pope Paul VI and his recent declaration that ’no voice should be silent in the endless symphony of the Churches and the whole world,’ have abolished the distances separating us and bridged the gap.... His fellow-travelers are the Peoples of Christ. Unaware of dogmatic differences and not caring about them, they now see one another as brothers in Christ. And they live in impatient anticipation of the hour of union, and indeed, not as a distant legend, but as a profound reality deriving from within themselves. This is proof that Christ is born.... So it is that union, ceasing any longer to be ‘negotiable’ or an effort on the part of unrealistic and fruitless theological dialogues concerning union, has turned out to be practical and a fait accompli [French - ‘accomplished fact or work’] wrought by ‘peace-loving stragglers...” (from the Patriarch’s 1968 Nativity message; see Kaqolikh, No. 1611 [31 December 1968]). (Emphasis that of the translator.)

After the meeting between Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople and Pope Paul VI (Jerusalem, January 6, 1964), the Patriarch declared: “ Orthodoxy means freedom, and it is the free who make progress.... Dogmas are the power of the Church, her wealth, and for this reason we keep our wealth in a vault. But this in no way impedes us from minting a new coinage with the other Churches: ‘the coinage of love....’”

Athenagoras
  Co-Worshipping with Paul VI in the Basilica of St. Peter.

Athenagoras Co-Worshipping with Paul VI
in the Basilica of St. Peter.

“Once again, we are celebrating a new (kainon) and holy Pascha, beloved brethren and children in the Lord. But the entire Christian world is also celebrating a common (koinon) Pascha this year [March 28/April 10, 1966--Trans.]. And, as we embrace one another, we strike up the hymn of victory over evil, over divisions and death, out of a common faith and hope, and appealing to love, that we may one day celebrate a common Feast of the Resurrection, on the same fixed Sunday every year....

“...All things are moving towards a pan-Christian world. And all people are enlisting themselves for this purpose.... How we have divided the same Lord for so many centuries! But now Christ is risen – the first-fruits of the new day, the new and common (kainhV kai koinhV) day, following the reconciliation of West and East, which will come as simply as it did back then [before the Great Schism--Trans.].

”...Perhaps Christ permitted us to have theological conflicts, so that, although He founded one Church, we might speak about ‘many Churches’ and might pray ‘for their good estate and for the union of all.’ But He did not permit us to speak about many Christianities. For, there is one Christianity in the world, extending across seas and continents unimpeded, one and unique in substance, although God’s fellow-laborers are still many, according to the Apostle Paul, and many are the artisans of His will. Hence, consigning our differences to theological dialogues, we ought, today, to announce the unifying message of Christianity to the world together....

“From our side, our Holy Great Church of Christ and we personally are ready, together with the other venerable leaders of the local Sister Churches of West and East, to sign joint documents and joint statements representing a single Christianity, for the purpose of making known to all mankind the Church’s teaching on ‘mutual love,’ and so that we might demonstrate, through concrete actions, that, although the union of the Churches and the meeting of Christians in the same Holy Cup are still delayed, their practical unity will, nevertheless, come and will not be slow in coming, and that the unity of one Christianity cannot remain unactualized” (from the Patriarch’s 1966 Paschal message; see CronoV [a weekly newspaper in Constantinople, no longer in circulation], 10 April 1966).

“On the occasion of Holy Pascha this year, we lift up our humble hearts to the God of the Resurrection and express our most fervent wish that all of us Christians may be counted worthy, as soon as possible, of celebrating the Pascha of Jesus together on the same Sunday. At the same time, addressing ourselves to all of our brethren, the venerable leaders and shepherds of all Christian Churches and Confessions, and also to all Christians on earth in general, we wholeheartedly beseech that, in a spirit of humility and responsibility, we may actively make this our common concern: to seek after and to devise a way, when we are united in the future, of celebrating the greatest Feast of Christianity, Holy Pascha, on one and the same Sunday” (from the Patriarch’s message on the occasion of Roman Catholic Easter, 1969; see Kaqolikh, No. 1626 [14 April 1969]).

“And again, we propose the second Sunday in April as a day for the common celebration of Pascha throughout the Christian world, in the hope that this common, fixed celebration will constitute not only a symbol, but also a positive contribution to the fulfillment of Christian unity” (from the Patriarch’s message on the occasion of a “Symposium” concerning the common celebration of Pascha” (see Kaqolikh, No. 1635 [18 June 1969]).

Pope Paul VI and
  Pseudo-Patriarch Athenagoras give their episcopal ‘blessing’ at the end of the Papal
  Mass.

Pope Paul VI and Pseudo-Patriarch Athenagoras
give their episcopal ‘blessing’ at the end of the Papal Mass.

“Why do we not automatically return to Mysteriological (Sacramental) communion? Because it is necessary for us to prepare our peoples for it, both theologically and psychologically. During the nine hundred years that have elapsed since 1054, we, the two worlds of East and West, have come to think that we belong to different Churches and different religions. And, as a result, the purpose of dialogues becomes quite evident. It is to prepare our peoples psychologically to understand that there is one Church and one religion, that we all believe in the same God-the Savior Christ. You and we respect all religions and we esteem the place and the time in which we live” (from a homily given by “Patriarch” Athenagoras in the chapel of Lambeth Palace, London, November 13, 1967; see Apo thn poreian thV agaphV, p. 53; see also Archimandrite Athanasios J. Vasilopoulos, From the Journey of Love... [in Greek] (Athens: 1968), p. 53a. -- These views were reiterated on January 10, 1968 (ibid., p. 87b: “Patriarchal visits and their happy results”).

“We are at the final step towards this goal. It is a step that is difficult and easy. It is costly, as we have acknowledged, because the final step requires prayer, realism, and boldness to demolish the last barriers. We draw all of these qualities in abundance from you (the Orthodox) and from the entire plenitude of the Church, so as to open up the way for the Holy Cup to be made available to all who have been Baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity” (from a message addressed by the Patriarch to the Orthodox; see EleuqeroV [2 August 1969]).

In August, 1971, Patriarch Athenagoras met with a group of thirty Greek priests from America and five Greek priests from Germany (who were visiting the Patriarchate). His words to them were partially published in the periodical OrqodoxoV tupoV (Orthodox Typos) (July 13, 1979). Here is an excerpt:

“And what is taking place today? A great spirit of love is spreading abroad over the Christians of East and West. Already we love one another...already in America you give communion to many from the holy chalice, and you do well! And I also here, when Catholics and Protestants come and ask to receive communion, I offer them the holy cup! And in Rome the same is happening, and in England, and in France. Already it is coming by itself.”

Athenagoras loved the Latins and did not consider them to be heretics. But his denial of their hereticalness was not the manifestation of a special love for them: Athenagoras did not recognise the existence of heresy in general! On hearing of a certain man who saw heresy everywhere, Athenagoras said: “I don’t see them anywhere! I see only truths, partial truths, reduced truths, truths that are sometimes out of place...” [Olivier Clement, Conversations with Patriarch Athenagoras, translated from the French [into Russian] by Vladimir Zelinsky, Brussels, «Life with God», 1993, pp. 301-302.]

Athenagoras’ Meetings With
the ‘Great’ Vatican II Popes,
Protestants, and Monophysites

Patriarch Athenagoras wrote to Pope Paul VI on November 22, 1963: “To Paul, the Most Blessed and Most Holy Pope of the Elder Rome, greetings in the Lord.... In sending timely congratulatory salutations and heartfelt wishes, in a fraternal spirit, to Your Holiness on the occasion of your election and appointment, by the good will and Grace of God, to the ancient Throne of the Elder Rome..., we pray once more that Your Holiness may ever enjoy good health and illustriously preside over the most Holy Church of the Elder Rome for as many years as possible.... The beloved brother in Christ of Your Holiness, who is held in esteem and affection by us, Athenagoras of Constantinople. Tomos Agapes, Vatican-Phanar (1958-1970) [in Greek] (Rome and Istanbul: 1971), pp. 86-88, §35.

“The ice has broken between our two Churches. I have always dreamed of meeting the Pope, who is truly a great-hearted man. May the day of our meeting be a great day for Christianity and for the whole of humanity. I am going to meet the Pope and embrace him in a fraternal manner. We will leave discussions to the theologians” (from statements made by the Patriarch prior to his departure for the meeting in Jerusalem; see Kaqolikh, No. 1371 [8 January 1964]).

“What joy! What delight! I am living in a dream, a dream which fills my heart with great hopes. I am going to meet a great-hearted man” (from statements made by the Patriarch on an airplane bound for the meeting in Jerusalem with Pope Paul VI; see Kaqolikh, No. 1372 [15 January 1964]).

“We give thanks to Divine Providence for this day, and we express our recognition of the services rendered by Pope Paul VI, a Hierarch whom we love and revere. We are writing, today, not only a page in the history of the Church, but also a page in the history of our hearts” (from an interview given by the Patriarch to correspondents from a foreign news agency during his meeting with Pope Paul VI in Jerusalem, January 5, 1964; see To Oikonmenikon Patriarceion, p. 22).

“I was especially impressed by the fact that the Pontiff has completely forgotten the ugly past and made it possible for us to inaugurate a new era. Paul VI and I are reaping the first-fruits of this new era. A vista full of hopes and confidence is already clearly dawning on the horizon” (from a statement made by the Patriarch to a correspondent from an Italian news agency; see Kaqolikh, No. 1372 [15 January 1964]).

After the meeting between Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople and Pope Paul VI (Jerusalem, January 6, 1964), the Patriarch declared: “This is a great and historic event. My conscience is at peace before God. Orthodoxy means freedom, and it is the free who make progress.... Dogmas are the power of the Church, her wealth, and for this reason we keep our wealth in a vault. But this in no way impedes us from minting a new coinage with the other Churches: ‘the coinage of love....’” “All the Popes are good, but John XXIII opened the door, and Paul VI, who stepped through it, is a great Pope.” [cited in Met. Cyprian of Oropos and Fili, The Heresy of Ecumenism and the Patristic Stand of the Orthodox, tr. Archb. Chrysostomof Etna and Hieromonk Patapios, C.T.O.S., Etna, CA: 1998; online at: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/resistance/metcyp_stand.htm]

The Papal entourage with
  Athenagoras leaving the Basilica of St. Peter after completing the Papal High Mass.

The Papal entourage with Athenagoras
leaving the Basilica of St. Peter
after completing the Papal High Mass.

“We prayed together, we recited together the ‘Our Father’ in Greek and Latin, as we had already done with His Holiness, the Pope in Jerusalem. It is truly astonishing that we were able to remain separated for such a long period. Today, a new era is beginning for Christianity” (from statements made by the Patriarch to Roman Catholic monks, January 26, 1964; see Kaqolikh, No. 1375 [5 February 1964]).

“Patriarch Athenagoras proceeded to lift the anathema of 1054 on his own initiative, being content, the day before the lifting (December 6, 1965), simply to communicate his decision to the local Orthodox Churches through an encyclical (in the form of a telegram), which ended with these words: ‘This act of lifting the anathemas will take place both here and in Rome”’ (see Archimandrite Spyridon Bilalis, Orqodoxia kai PapismoV [Orthodoxy and Papism] [Athens: Orthodoxos Typos Publications, 1969], Vol. II, p. 358).

In the Joint Communique of Paul VI and Athenagoras, they claim that they are “responding to the call of that divine grace which today is leading the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, as well as all Christians, to overcome their differences in order to be again “one” as the Lord Jesus asked of His Father for them...They likewise regret and remove both from memory and from the midst of the Church the sentences [of the anathemas]... and they commit these... to oblivion. Finally, they deplore the preceding and later vexing events which, under the influence of various factors--among which, lack of understanding and mutual trust--eventually led to the effective rupture of ecclesiastical communion.”

“I have come here in order to prepare for the day on which, as happened during the first ten centuries A.D, we will celebrate the Eucharist together with Pope Paul, using the same bread and the same wine, and drinking from the same Cup” (from statements made by the Patriarch on his arrival in Rome, October 26, 1967; see Kaqolikh, No. 1557 [1 November 1967]).

“Welcome, holy brother, successor of Peter, who are one in name and character with Paul and the messenger of love, unity, and peace. We embrace you in the center of the Church with the love of Christ.... But let us now look to all those who believe in one God, the Creator of man and the universe, and, in cooperation with them, let us serve all of mankind, regardless of race, creed, or other convictions, for the up-building of goodness and peace in the world, that the Kingdom of God might prevail upon earth” (from an address given by the Patriarch on the occasion of the arrival of Pope Paul VI in Constantinople, July 25, 1967; see Kaqolikh, No. 1549 [13 August 1967]).

“We are especially fortunate to have come to the venerable Prelate of Rome, a bearer of Apostolic Grace and the successor of a constellation of holy and wise men, who have made illustrious this throne which, in honor and rank, is first in the community of Christian Churches throughout the world--men whose holiness, wisdom, and struggles for the sake of the common faith in the undivided Church are a ‘possession for all time’ and a treasure of the entire Christian world -- to a Pope of exceptional spiritual eminence and Christian spirit, who has ‘achieved the heights by humility,’ whose sense of responsibility before the Lord, before the divided Church, before the multifarious tragedies of this world, leads him from day to day, and from act of love to act of edification, to the vital service of God, the Church, and the world” (from remarks made by the Patriarch during his meeting with Pope Paul VI in Rome, October 26, 1967; see Kaqolikh, No. 1562 [27 December 1967]).

At yet another Ecumenical
  worship service, a Benedictine monk presents Athenagoras with the Cross with which to
  ‘bless’ the monks and laity.

At yet another Ecumenical worship service,
a Benedictine monk presents Athenagoras
with the Cross with which to ‘bless’ the monks and laity.

“We are present here in order to witness, together with our most beloved and esteemed brother, the Most Holy Archpastor of the Roman Catholic Church and of us all, to our common and holy desire, to journey in this direction, in love and patience, correcting, on both sides, the mistakes of the past and whatever has contributed to our division, and making straight the way of the Lord” (from a homily given by the Patriarch to the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church during his visit to Rome, October 26, 1967; see Ekklhsia [official publication of the Church of Greece], No. 22 [ 15 November 1967]).

“We find ourselves in a period in which the Pope of Rome takes precedence over all of us. My beloved brother, Paul II--I call him the Second, not the Sixth, because he ought to come right after the Apostle Paul, on account of the work he has done--has shown such far-sightedness and boldness that I rank him among the great Popes of history” (from statements made by the Patriarch; see Kaqolikh, No. 1539 [24 May 1967]).

“The Pope beat me to it and came here in person to the Phanar. Here, we consolidated and mapped out a common program of cooperation, a common ecumenical course, a common Christian witness of love, understanding, and mutual respect. The details of this common ecumenical and unionist program between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church will certainly become known little by little. This historic meeting was the fruit of prayer and sacrifice on the part of Christians, of the people of God; it was the will of God, but also the will of the Christian world. I beseech you to pray and lead others to pray for the union of us all” (from an interview given by the Patriarch to Roman Catholic journalists on the occasion of the arrival of Pope Paul VI in Constantinople, July 25, 1967; see Kaqolikh, No. 1549 [13 August 1967]).

“I support the Pope in all of his statements and activities” (from statements made by the Patriarch to a correspondent from a French news agency; see Kaqolikh, No. 1596 [28 August 1968]).

Concelebration at the
  Phanar, between Pope Paul VI and Athenagoras with their cardinals and Bishops. (June 25, 1967)

Concelebration at the Phanar, between Pope Paul VI and Athenagoras
with their cardinals and Bishops. (June 25, 1967)

“During his meeting with Pope Paul VI in Rome, on October 26, 1967, the Patriarch sat on the Papal throne for twenty minutes, receiving primarily the Greek Orthodox in Rome, but also Russian Orthodox refugees. They applauded loudly when the Patriarch commemorated the Pope’s name in Greek” (see Kaqolikh, No. 1557 [1 November 1967]).

Patriarch Athenagoras, addressing himself to Pope Paul VI in his letter for the Feast of the Nativity, in 1968, said: “In this communion (of the love of Christ), celebrating with the company of the most holy and most honorable Metropolitans around me, we will commemorate your precious name in the Diptychs of our heart, O most holy brother Bishop of the Elder Rome, before the holy offering of this precious Body and this precious Blood of the Savior in the Divine Liturgy of our most holy predecessor, the common Father of us all, John Chrysostomos. And we will say on this holy day of the Nativity before the holy Altar, and we say to you: May the Lord God remember thine Episcopacy, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.” (P. Gregoriou, Journey to Unity, Vol. II, (Athens: 1978), p. 293; Tomos Agapes, Vatican-Phanar (1958-1970) [in Greek] (Rome and Istanbul: 1971), pp. 528-530, §242.)

Since the “Lifting of the Anathemas”, the Pope of Rome has been included among those commemorated by the Patriarch of Constantinople in the Divine Liturgy (in the Diptychs and in the Anaphora [see “Orthodoxos Enemerosis,” Vol. XV-XVI. January-June 1995, pp. 42-43, esp. n. 17, p. 43]), a practice which was first made public to the world in Athenagoras’ press statements and encyclicals of 1967-1968, and this practice continues at every Liturgy to this day (“Phone Orthodoxon,” Vol. VI, No. 2 [1995], p. 18). This Patriarchal commemoration and the recognition of the Pope as first primate of the Church, with his corresponding, traditional juridical-canonical rights, is effectively a union with excommunicated and anathematized Rome, and these conditions were all that was required of the first Uniates at the Council of Lyons in 1274.

The press in Constantinople published, on June 18, 1966, a statement by the Ecumenical Patriarch, which mentioned that two heretical Protestants, who had come to visit the Latinizing and Protestantizing Patriarch, would be present at Divine Liturgy on June 19, 1966, and would take part in joint prayer. And, as if this public statement were not enough, the Great Chancery issued a circular to the parish Priests, trustees, and presidents of the brotherhoods and associations of the Archepiscopate and the neighboring dioceses, in which it advised them that they should “not only come to the Liturgy themselves, but should bring along as many of their parishioners as possible..., so that all together may honor the distinguished guests in question” (see Kaqolikh, [l9 June 1966]).

Athenagoras Exchanges
  Fraternal Kiss With Ethiopian Monophysite Patriarch Theophilus With Whom He Later Prayed. (Phanar
  - Constantinople, 1971)

Athenagoras Exchanges Fraternal Kiss
With Ethiopian Monophysite Patriarch Theophilus
With Whom He Later Prayed.
(Phanar - Constantinople, 1971)

“The first violation of the Sacred Canons began, before the lifting of the anathemas, with joint prayer between Athenagoras and Paul VI during their meeting in Jerusalem. After the anathemas were lifted, the phenomenon of the Patriarch of Constantinople praying with Pope Paul VI in Constantinople or Rome, or with other heterodox, became de rigueur. Athenagoras has prayed in Constantinople with Armenian Monophysite clergy, in London with the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, and in other instances during his ‘journey of love’ through heterodox countries. In this way, an example of violating the Sacred Canons, which expressly forbid Orthodox to pray with schismatics and heretics, was given from on high. The Thirty-third Canon of the Synod of Laodicea, which has ecumenical authority, decrees: ‘One must not pray with heretics or schismatics.’ The Forty-fifth Canon of the Holy Apostles prescribes excommunication for a clergyman who prays with heretics: ‘Let a Bishop, Presbyter, or Deacon who has only prayed with heretics, be excommunicated; but if he has permitted them to function as clergy, let him be deposed” (see Orqodoxia kai PapismoV, Vol, II, p. 365).

“An historic event took place, for the first time after long centuries, in the Armenian Church of the Holy Trinity, in Peran, on Sunday, January 21, 1962. Following an agreement between the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Armenian Patriarch, a Divine Liturgy was celebrated in this Church, according to the Orthodox typikon, by the Reverend Father Dionysios Ladopoulos, a seminarian at Hake, with the Reverend Father Evangelos serving as second Priest; the service was chanted by a mixed choir from the Church of St. Nicholas, in Galatas [in Constantinople--Trans.], under the direction of Mr. Eleftherios Georgiades. Praying together were His Most Divine All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, accompanied by His Grace, Bishop Aimilianos of Miletos and the Great Archdeacon Agapios, and His Beatitude, the Armenian Patriarch, Sinork Kaloustian, with his synodeia” (see ApostoloV AndreaV [31 January 1962]).


Archbishop Gregory
Dormition Skete
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