The Matthewites:
The First Schismatics of the Greek Old Calendar Movement

By Dormition Skete

Vicar-Bishop Matthew of Bresthena,
Founder of the Schism

Endeavoring to protect the flock of Christ, we are warning all about the Old Calendar group called the Matthewites, who call themselves the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece, and who presently have split into a schism of three groups. All of them have the same roots and therefore the same canonical problems. They have tempted and do not cease to tempt innocent souls into believing their false system of logic; thereby, they become a cause of scandal in that they lead people into schism.

A Brief History of the Greek Church
in the 20th Century

In 1920, the Patriarchate of Constantinople issued an encyclical, entitled “Unto the Churches of Christ Wheresoever They may be Found.” In this encyclical, the Locum Tenens and the Synod suggested that the Orthodox Churches should forget their theological differences with the heterodox and enter into dialogue with them, having as their ultimate end the unification of all those who call themselves Christians, both heretics and believers, as one Church. Two years later, the Mason Meletios IV (Metaxakis) became Patriarch of Constantinople, and a year later, in 1923, he began celebrating the Menaion cycle according to the New Menaion (the State Calendrical System, that is, the Papal-Gregorian System for ascertaining the dates of the Church’s immovable feasts), but not the Paschalion or Calendrical System for ascertaining the dates of Pascha and the other Movable Feasts of the Church.

In March of 1924, the Archbishop of Athens, Chrysostom (Papadopoulos), another Mason, introduced the New Menaion for use in the Greek Orthodox Church also. The Paschalion remained on the old (traditional) calendar. This innovation within the State Church was opposed by the most venerable Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina and other bishops. It was implemented, however, at a special session of the Synod called by the Archbishop of Athens, when the above-mentioned bishops were not in attendance. Metropolitan Chrysostom, however, sought to undermine this decision and eventually overturn it. He never accepted it himself, although he was in communion with those who had. One of the ways he sought to undermine it was the 1933 condemnation by the State Church of Greece of Masonry as a paganistic religion and Freemasons as subject to deposition or excommunication. The introduction of common dates of celebration for the immovable feasts between Orthodox and heterodox was seen by many as the initial step in the designs of Freemasons in the Government and in the Church for conditioning the Church’s faithful to unite with all religions.

The introduction of the New Menaion caused liturgical disunity and great dissension within the Church of Greece. Two million faithful refused to accept this innovation. Priests, who did not have bishops for almost eleven years, served them and led them in their sacred struggle not to even set foot on the path to apostasy. For this, Chrysostom (Papadopoulos), Archbishop of Athens, declared them schismatics and sought to have this synodally pronounced on July 2, 1929; however of the forty-four bishops present, thirteen departed from the Synod meeting, twenty-seven refused to endorse this decree, and only four signed.

In October of 1934, George Paraschos and Basil Stamatoulis, the President and Secretary General respectively of the Community of Genuine Orthodox Christians (Greek Old Calendarists), appealed to the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), to consecrate bishops for the Old Calendarists and take them under his omophorion.” [Stavros Karamitsos, The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane {in Greek}, pp. 111-112]. He declined at this time and the reasons for this will be delineated in the section on the position of the Russian Church later in this document.

Metropolitans Chrysostom of Florina,
Germanos of Demetrias, & Chrysostom of Zakynthos in 1935

Finally, on 13/26 May, 1935, three bishops from the State Church of Greece, Metropolitans Germanos of Demetrias, Chrysostom of Florina, and Chrysostom of Zakynthos, severed communion with the New Calendar hierarchy and took up the leadership of the Old-Calendarists in the presence of twenty-five thousand faithful. Anticipating immanent civil persecution against the Old Calendarists, these three bishops consecrated four new bishops in the same month. These bishops were Germanos of the Cyclades, Christopher of Megara, Polycarp of Diavlia, and Matthew, an auxiliary bishop, of Bresthena. It is through this last bishop that the Matthewites obtained their existence and their name. At the same time, the three Metropolitans denounced the New Menaionists of the State Church as schismatics who broke the unity of the Church in regard to the celebration of feasts and fasts.

Persecution did come swiftly, and four bishops were exiled. Before their exile, however, on June 21, 1935 three bishops, Metropolitans Germanos of Demetrias, Chrysostom of Florina, and Germanos of the Cyclades, issued a “Pastoral Encyclical to the Orthodox Greek People” in which they declared the New Calendar hierarchs to be schismatics in regard to the liturgical unity of Church and scorners of the divine canons, and the three bishops very sternly warned the New Calendar hierarchs of the perils of schism, since, according to St. Basil, schismatics do not possess the grace of the Holy Spirit. Some Matthewite Old Calendarists, wrongly interpreting this, consider the introduction of the New Calendar to be an actual schism rather than potentially a schism, as the Metropolitans always called it, and claim that this was what the Metropolitans believed in 1935. Consequently, these Matthewites, wishing to make the most of this admittedly hastily-drawn-up and less than carefully worded encyclical, put their own distorted interpretation on it and refer to its signing as the “Council of 1935,” although it was merely an encyclical. We will reproduce the explanation of the Metropolitans themselves below. We refer to this encyclical as the “1935 Confession of Faith.”

The Old Calendar Movement in Greece was a very positive struggle by millions of faithful Orthodox Christians. The absence of these people, refusing to accept the New or Papal Menaion, could, and most likely would, have eliminated the Orthodox Church’s existence in Greece, because the change in the Orthodox Menaion calendar was the first step in the progression to the modern heresy of ecumenism. It was the first open step on the path towards the “Great Apostasy.” As St. Met. Philaret the Confessor said in his “Second Sorrowful Epistle”:

“It could not escape the sensitive consciences of many sons of the Church that within the calendar reform, the foundation is already laid for a revision of the entire order of Orthodox Church life which has been blessed by the Tradition of many centuries and confirmed by the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils.”

At that time, however, it was not unreasonable to believe that this first step, which caused division in the calendrical-liturgical unity of the Church of Greece, could and would be rectified.

Among those bishops in the New Calendar hierarchy who sought to rectify this mistake was most-notably Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina. He was the only hierarch who put up a significant fight against Patriarch Meletios IV and the Archbishop of Athens. Some say that there were at least eleven bishops who had given support to Metropolitan Chrysostom in his desire for the New Calendarists to return to the ecclesiastical menaion. Even after he left the New Calendar Greek synod in 1935, Metropolitan Chrysostom traveled to Antioch and Jerusalem in that year, seeking those (Old Calendarist) Patriarchs’ support for a Pan-Orthodox Council that would definitively condemn the New Menaion innovation. From 1920 to 1935, no Patriarch or bishop broke communion with the State Church of Greece or the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Despite these observances of the New Menaion, no bishop declared that the State Church of Greece or the Ecumenical Patriarchate had apostatized, or that they were without the grace of God in their Mysteries. Even, the monasteries of Mt. Athos, the back-bone of the Old Calendarists, while not commemorating the Patriarch, until the 1960’s still concelebrated with the at-that time New Calendar Athonite monastery of Vatopedi, which did commemorate the Patriarch, and recognized her right to participate in the Holy Community, the governing body of Mt. Athos.

Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s First Error

Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s Schism and Its Cause

In 1937, a monastic follower of V-Bp. Matthew, Fr. Markos (Haniotis), having observed that the other bishops of the Church varied with V-Bp. Matthew in not teaching that the New Calendarists were graceless schismatics, addressed the bishops regarding their views. In June of 1937, Metropolitan Germanos of Demetrias and Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina wrote a private reply to the inquiry of the monk Markos (Haniotis), putting forward in a clearer manner what their belief was and had been since the time of their taking up the struggle in 1935. Their stance markedly differed from Matthew’s, both of which we will give in more detail momentarily. A short time previous to this, there had already been clashes between V-Bp. Matthew and the rest of the Synod over the presence of grace among the New Calendarists and the manner of their reception: V. Bp. Matthew maintained that they were graceless and ought to be chrismated, whereas the rest of the Synod affirmed that they still had grace and should be received by confession only. Upon learning of the aforementioned private letter, Vicar-Bishop Matthew took advantage of this as an opportunity to bring the bishops’ internal antipathies out into the public forum, and thus, through demagoguery, to gain a dominating influence in the synod or even the very leadership of the Old Calendarists itself and guide them along a path in accordance with his views, which we will now discuss:

The Position of Vicar-Bishop Matthew

Vicar-Bishop Matthew of Bresthena

Vicar-Bishop Matthew believed that all local Churches that either adopted the new menaion or concelebrated and prayed with those who did so were schismatics and deprived of grace, being already condemned as such by a series of previous ‘Pan-Orthodox’ Synods beginning with that of three Greek Patriarchs in 1583. The schism, according to V-Bp. Matthew, occurred immediately with the introduction of the new menaion in 1924 by the Church of Greece. These opinions were proclaimed, for instance, in his Preface to the 3 rd Edition of Theion Prosevkhytarion (Athens, 1934) and more concisely and explicitly in his “Pastoral Encyclical” of September 21, 1944, which was a response to Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina’s “Pastoral Encyclical” of June 1, 1944.

We may obtain a broad view of his sentiments from his 1934 “Preface” in which V. Bp. Matthew insisted that the New Calendarists were “antichrists” and “seven times anathema”. Furthermore:

Those who govern the Church of Greece today have, together with the clergy who follow them, persisted in error, cacodoxy, schism, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the heresy of the Papist Calendar! And they have led the people into error and become ‘heresiarch’ hierarchs according to the divine Fathers.

The 1944 “Pastoral Encyclical” provides us with a more precise exposition of his ecclesiology:

“We are convinced that, from the moment the schism befell the Church of Christ through the introduction of the Papal Calendar ,

1) the Churches which accepted this innovation became schismatic ,

2) and likewise, that local Churches which concelebrate and in general pray with the innovating Churches themselves bear the same liability [i.e. are guilty of schism as well -Editor] .

3) From the very outset of our entry into this sacred struggle {i.e. 1924}, we have been drawing Grace, whether as Priests or as Bishops, from the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Eastern Church of Christ, to which we cleave and from which we have never been cut off, and not from the innovating, wrong-believing Churches, which through schism have been deprived of the Grace of the All-holy Spirit , according to the First Canon of St. Basil the Great and according to the same admission of the late Metropolitan Chrysostom of Athens {i.e. Archbishop Chrysostom Papadopoulos} and your own, Your Eminence [Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina], as we will demonstrate at length below.

“...And the idea of declaring {New Menaionist} Mysteries invalid is not ours, but that of the Pan-Orthodox Synods of Jeremiah and Anthimos, which condemned the Calendar innovation...But since {the New Menaionists} have all been condemned, there is no need for a new condemnation of them...{T}he Calendar innovation...has been condemned four times by Pan-Orthodox Synods, and is not only potentially, but actually schismatic. Do not stumble around, O wise teacher [Blessed Met. Chrysostom], or blaspheme the All-holy Spirit...

For how can one have the Grace of the Holy Spirit when he has false ideas? Since we are aware that in the case of the disciple of Saint Paisios, when he had doubts and said only ‘perhaps,’ the Grace of Baptism departed from him...And it is for this reason that the Synod of Antioch, in its First Canon, said that those having heretical ideas, from that very moment are condemned as strangers who are to be cast out of the Church, as the decision of the Orthodox Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Anthimos, in 1848 also commands:

[He who dares] to carry out, to advise, or to contemplate this [to accept any innovation in the Orthodox Faith] has already denied the Faith of Christ and has already [voluntarily] placed himself under eternal anathema for blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, on the ground that He allegedly spoke incompletely in the Scriptures and through the Ecumenical Synods.

...

In the Holy and Venerable Monastery

of our Lady Theotokos Pevkovounogiatrissa

Keratea, Attika, September 21, 1944

Matthew of Bresthena

(Perhaps it was in the interest of controlling such zeal not according to knowledge that the Metropolitans only consecrated Matthew a vicar-bishop, rather than a ruling one.)

In the interest of bringing his views to dominance, Vicar-Bishop Matthew published an open letter to the rest of the synod demanding that they write a public affirmation that the New Calendarists were without grace, or else he would break communion with them, since they were apostates and had changed their beliefs since June of 1935. At this time, a rumor was also being spread that the hierarchs, with the exception of V-Bp. Matthew, were about to rejoin the New Calendarists. For the sake of maintaining the unity of the Old Calendarists, which was sorely-needed in the face of the renewal of civil persecutions, the Metropolitans issued a brief reaffirmation of the 1935 encyclical in the July 9 th issue of the Old Calendar periodical “Voice of Orthodoxy”.

They wrote:

“...with regard to the validity or invalidity of the Mysteries celebrated by the New Calendarists, we abide by what we proclaimed in June of 1935, that the sanctifying grace of the Mysteries resides in and acts through those ministers of the Church who uphold the sacred Traditions and the Canons of the Orthodox Church and who undertake no innovation, and not through those who have departed from the sacred Traditions.”

This statement did not actually imply for the Metropolitans that the adopters of the New Menaion were without grace, as we shall see in the sections below, in as much as the Metropolitans did not consider the adoption of the Gregorian menaion cycle by itself, rather than the Gregorian Paschalion and Menaion cycles together (the whole Gregorian Calendar) to fall into the category of those things which were explicitly “condemned by Holy Fathers and Councils” and did not need to be ajudicated by a Pan-Orthodox or Ecumenical Synod; even so this was a careful reaffirmation of what they had written in 1935 and since then, and so should have been satisfactory to V-Bp. Matthew who had been a member of the same Synod since that time. However, this did not satisfy Vicar-Bishop Matthew, and on September 7 th he issued a statement addressed to “the former Metropolitan of Demetrias, until now president of the Sacred Synod”, claiming that the Metropolitans had failed to fulfill his demand and, therefore, he was fulfilling his threat of breaking communion from them as apostates. Around the same time, another recently-consecrated bishop, Germanos of the Cyclades, broke away from the Synod, adopting as his justification the same views as Vicar-Bishop Matthew, although he had previously condemned those views as contrary to the canons in one of his sermons and in a recent Synod meeting, saying that Matthew was peddling Christ for his own profit and advancement. Seeing the Old Calendarists being split into factions and in danger of coming under the sway of the dangerous demagoguery of the V-Bp. Matthew, who they believed acted thusly out of misguided zeal, personal vanity, and a desire for preeminence, on Nov. 9, 1937, the Metropolitans decided they had to change tactics. If V-Bp. Matthew were allowed to became sole-head and guiding influence among the Old Calendarists, then any hope of corralling and correcting such unfounded, unorthodox, extremist views peacefully and patiently at some later point would be lost. Furthermore, as the extremist Matthew had already set up open, irreconcilable opposition to them, it was necessary to deal with him immediately and in the open. Therefore, Metropolitans Chrysostom and Germanos wrote a strong open letter against the secessionists and the Matthewite ecclesiology, defending and expounding upon what they had written to Monk Markos (Haniotis). Here is the relevant portion of the epistle:

The Position of Metropolitans
Chrysostom of Florina & Germanos of Demetrias

Blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina

Writing to Bishop Germanos of the Cyclades in 1937, Blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom stated:

“If, in leaving for exile, we called the Archbishop of Athens a schismatic and the Church of Greece schismatic, we used the word ‘schism,’ not in the sense in which the Church uses it to indicate a rupture with the Orthodox Church and the consequent estrangement from the grace of Christ and the Mysteries, but in the sense that, on account of the calendar innovation, the Archbishop of Athens has cut himself and the Hierarchy that follows him off from the other Orthodox Churches with regard to the celebration of the Feasts and observance of the Fasts.

“This secession by His Beatitude and the Hierarchy that follows him gives us the right to put forward our personal and wholly individual opinion, that His Beatitude and the Hierarchs who follow him, insofar as they have sundered the unity of the universal Orthodox Church in the simultaneous celebration of the Feasts and the simultaneous observance of the fasts, have forfeited divine grace only potentially, and not in actuality, abiding under the curses and anathemas which the Divine Fathers of the seven Ecumenical Synods hurled against those who violate traditions and move the eternal landmarks which our Fathers fixed.

“But His Beatitude and the Hierarchs who are of like mind with him will only become actually deprived of Divine Grace and estranged from the Orthodox spirit of the Mysteries when they are proclaimed as such, and as schismatics in actuality, by a Pan-Orthodox Synod, which alone is entitled to do this, according to the statutes of the Eastern Orthodox Church...

“You dissemble and utter outright falsehoods, your Grace, when you assert that it is unnecessary and superfluous to convene a Pan-Orthodox Synod or a major local Synod for the authoritative and definitive condemnation of the calendar innovation by the Archbishop [of Athens], since the Pan-Orthodox Synods of 1583, 1587, and 1593 condemned the Gregorian Calendar.

“And this is so, because you know fully well that the aforementioned Synods condemned the Gregorian Calendar, but that this condemnation concerns the Latins, who implemented this calendar in its entirety, whereas the Archbishop adopted half of it, applying it to the fixed Feasts and retaining the Old Calendar for Pascha and the moveable Feasts, precisely in order to bypass the obstacle of this condemnation.

“In view of this, the innovation of the Archbishop in applying the Gregorian Calendar only to the fixed Feasts and not to Pascha, which was the main reason why the Gregorian Calendar was condemned as conflicting with the Seventh Apostolic Canon, is an issue that appears for the first time in the history of the Orthodox Church. Consequently, the convocation of a Pan-Orthodox Synod is not only not superfluous, as Your Grace declares ex cathedra , like another Pope, but is actually required for the canonical and authoritative adjudication of this issue.

“This is precisely why the other Orthodox Churches which stand on the ground of the traditional calendar have not broken off ecclesiastical communion with the innovating Archbishop, waiting to express their opinion and judgment until a Pan-Orthodox Synod should convene in the future, which alone has the right to try and condemn him, if he adheres obstinately to his innovation.

“And when Your Grace, like another Pope, characterizes us as heretics, because we have not proclaimed the Church of Greece schismatic and her Mysteries invalid on account of the Archbishop’s innovation, but have restricted ourselves to breaking off ecclesiastical communion with him even before a Synodal verdict..., then you must also proclaim the other Orthodox Churches, which have not broken communion with the innovating Archbishop, heretics twice over, in which case you will be left as the sole Orthodox Hierarch, along with your like-minded collaborator, the Bishop of Vresthene!

“If you take this step, Your Grace, you put an end to the life and the age-old history of the Orthodox Church, since you are proclaiming all of the Orthodox Churches as a whole to be heretical, thereby falsifying the declaration of the Lord to His Disciples when He said: “Lo, I am with you aways, even unto the end of the world.” You see, Your Grace, to what absurdities and to what an abysmal precipice this reckless and populist policy leads you; for you not only defile the sanctity of our struggle, to serve which we elevated you to the vantage point and honor of a Bishop, but you also annul the meaning and substance of the universal Orthodox Church.”

They said that they considered Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s independently-made declaration that the New Calendarists were graceless since 1924, and must be chrismated, to be a grievous fall of one of two kinds. Either he had fallen into Papism, which considers one bishop capable of proclaiming infallible decisions and effectively establishing or removing grace from a part of the Church, or Matthew had fallen into Protestantism, which allows these powers to every individual member of the Church. Furthermore, his position was ridiculous, because if it were true, then the whole Church had ceased to exist, since everyone had become heretical-schismatic or had been in communion with such schismatics. At the end of this document, we will comment concisely on how this stance of the Metropolitan Chrysostom and synodia accords with the practice of the Holy Fathers and how firmly-founded this stance was, unlike Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s position.

It was for espousing this perfectly acceptable position about the calendar innovation in their private letter (not publicly) that V-Bp. Matthew had created the first schism in the history of the Greek Old Calendar hierarchy. This was Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s first mistake. Vicar-Bishop Matthew had no canonical justification for severing communion with his president nor treating him as already deposed, calling him “the former Metropolitan of Demetrias, until now president of the Sacred Synod”, as the following will demonstrate.

V-Bp. Matthew’s Schism
Is Condemned By the Holy Canons

According to Canons XIII, XIV, & XV of the “First-and-Second Council”, no clergyman or bishop has the right to condemn and break away from his Metropolitan because of any alleged crime before a synodal hearing and investigation in accordance with canon law has occurred and a synodal verdict has been passed in regard to the accused and the alleged crime. The only case in which it is permissible to separate from one’s Metropolitan before the end of such a trial is in the case that the Metropolitan is publicly, in church, “with bared-head” preaching a heresy already condemned by the Holy Councils or the Fathers. Vicar-Bishop Matthew separated from his Metropolitan before even the beginning of such a trial and without the Metropolitan preaching publicly in church “with bared-head” a heresy condemned by the Holy Councils and Fathers and declared his Metropolitan a deposed schismatic. The above cited canons declare that such persons, like Matthew and all those who separated with him, are no longer clergymen, but schismatic laymen, and they are to be excommunicated along with all those that join them. Moreover, a single bishop cannot try or depose any other bishop or clergyman by himself [cf. Canon CXVIII of Carthage and Canon II of the local Council of Constantinople]. According to cc. XII and CXI of Carthage twelve bishops are required to try a bishop, six to try a presbyter, three to try a deacon, as well as the accused clergyman’s own metropolitan or bishop. In violation of these canons, Vicar-Bishop Matthew wrote to Metropolitans Chrysostom of Florina and Germanos of Demetrias as “the former-bishops” and declared them deposed without trial, without a canonical basis for indicting them, and without a synod, by himself. Thus began the Matthewite Schism.

Canon 13 (XIII), 14 (XIV), & 15 (XV) of the 1 st and 2 nd Council, held in Constantinople in 861 A.D. under St. Photios the Great:

CANON XIII

The all-evil one having planted the seed of heretical tares in the Church of Christ, and seeing these being cut down to the roots with the sword of the Spirit, took a different course of trickery by attempting to divide the body of Christ by means of the madness of the schismatics. But, checking even this plot of his, the holy Council has decreed that henceforth if any Presbyter or Deacon, on the alleged ground that his own bishop has been condemned for certain crimes, before a conciliar or synodal hearing and investigation has been made, should dare to secede from his communion, and fail to mention his name in the sacred prayers of the liturgical services in accordance with the custom handed down in the Church, he shall be subject to prompt deposition from office and shall be stripped of every prelatic honor. For anyone who has been established in the rank of Presbyter and forestalls the Metropolitan’s judgment, and, judging matters before a trial has been held, insofar as lies in his power, condemns his own father and Bishop, he is not even worthy of the honor or name of Presbyter. Those, on the other hand, who go along with him, in case any of them should be among those in holy orders, they too shall forfeit their own rights to honor, or, in case they should be monks or laymen, let them be utterly excommunicated from the Church until such time as they spew upon and openly renounce all connection with the schismatics and decide to return to their own Bishop.

(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXI, XXXIV of the 6th; cc. XII, XIV, XV of the 1st-and-2nd; c. V of Antioch; c. VI of Gangra: cc. X, XI, LX of Carthage.)

Interpretation

Both by means of the heretics and by means of the schismatics the devil endeavors to divide the body of Christ, or what is otherwise called His Church. On this account and for this reason, the present Canon decrees that if any presbyter or deacon separates from communion of his bishop, and does not mention the name of the latter in accordance with custom, before the Council or Synod has examined into the charges laid against him, and has condemned him, the presbyter or deacon guilty of doing this shall be deposed from office, since he is not worthy to have the dignity and name of presbyter or deacon, as the case may be, when, condemning his own bishop, who is his spiritual father, he anticipates the Metropolitan’s judgment. For it is Metropolitans, and not clerics, that are entitled to pass judgment upon bishops. Those, on the other hand, who keep in line with such apostates, or succeders, i.e., such presbyters and deacons, shall, in case they be in holy orders, be promptly deposed from office; but in case they be monks or laymen, let them be excommunicated not merely from the divine Mysteries, but even from the Church herself, until they come to hate the erring presbyters and deacons, and decide to unite themselves with their own bishop.

Canon XIV

If any Bishop, on the allegation that charges of crime lie against his own Metropolitan [i.e. the president of the Synod], shall secede or apostatize from him before a conciliar or synodal verdict has been issued against him, and shall abstain from communion with him, and fail to mention his name, in accordance with the established practice, in the course of the divine mystagogy (i.e., liturgical celebration of the Eucharistic Mystery), the holy Council has decreed that he shall be deposed from office, if merely by seceding from his own Metropolitan he shall create a schism. For everyone ought to know his own bounds, and neither ought a presbyter treat his own bishop scornfully or contemptuously, nor ought a bishop to treat his own Metropolitan so.

(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXI, XXXIV of the 6th; cc. X11, XIII, XV of the 1st-and-2nd; c. V of Antioch; c. VI of Gangra; cc. X, XI, LXII of Carthage.)

Interpretation

In a similar vein as in the above Canon, the present Canon deposes from office those bishops who separate themselves from the joint communion of their Metropolitan, and refuse to mention his name in accordance with established custom; because neither ought any presbyter to scorn his bishop, nor ought any bishop to scorn his Metropolitan. See also Ap. c. XXXI.

CANON XV

The rules laid down with reference to Presbyters and Bishops and Metropolitans are still more applicable to Patriarchs. So that in case any Presbyter or Bishop or Metropolitan dares to secede or apostatize from the communion of his own Patriarch, and fails to mention the latter’s name in accordance with custom duly fixed and ordained in the divine Mystagogy, but, before a conciliar verdict has been pronounced and has passed judgment against him, creates a schism, the holy Council has decreed that this person shall be held an alien to every priestly function if only he be convicted of having committed this transgression of the law. Accordingly, these rules have been sealed and ordained as respecting those persons who under the pretext of charges against their own presidents stand aloof, and create a schism, and disrupt the union of the Church. But as for those persons, on the other hand, who, on account of some heresy condemned by holy Councils, or Fathers, withdrawing themselves from communion with their president, who, that is to say, is preaching the heresy publicly, and teaching it barehead in church, such persons not only are not subject to any canonical penalty on account of their having walled themselves off from any and all communion with the one called a Bishop before any conciliar or synodal verdict has been rendered, but, on the contrary, they shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honor which befits them among Orthodox Christians. For they have defied, not Bishops, but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers; and they have not sundered the union of the Church with any schism, but, on the contrary, have been sedulous to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions.

(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXI, XXXIV of the 6th; cc. XII, XIII, XIV of the 1st-and-2nd; c. V of Antioch; c. VI of Gangra; cc. X, XI, LXII of Carthage.)

Interpretation

The same rules as were prescribed in the above Canons with regard to bishops and Metropolitans, are prescribed, and so much the more so, by the present Canon with regard to Patriarchs. For it says that if any presbyter or bishop or metropolitan should separate himself from the joint communion of his own Patriarch, and does not mention his name in accordance with custom (this applies, that is to say, to only the Metropolitan; for a presbyter mentions only the name of his bishop, and the bishop mentions only the name of his Metropolitan), before revealing the charges against their Patriarch to the Council, and before learning that he has been condemned by the Council-they, I say, shall all be completely deposed from office; the bishops and Metropolitans from every prelatic activity; the presbyters from every priestly activity. But these provisions are of effect if presbyters separate from their bishops, or bishops separate from their Metropolitans, or Metropolitans separate from their Patriarchs, on account of certain criminal charges, of fornication, say, of sacrilege, and of other serious crimes. l If, however, the said presidents are heretics, and are preaching their heresy openly, 2 and on this account those subject to them separate themselves, and even though it be before there has been any conciliar or synodal trial concerning the heresy, but are even deemed to deserve fitting honor as Orthodox Christians, since not only have they caused no schism in the Church on account of their separation, but have rather freed the Church from the schism and heresy of their pseudobishops. See also Ap. c. XXXI.

1 Nevertheless Ap. c. XXXI holds the one separating free from any liability in case he knows him to be unjust.

2 From these words in the Canon it appears that one ought not to separate from his bishop, according to Balsamon, in case he entertains any heresy, but keeps it hidden away in secret. For it is possible that he may thereafter correct himself of his own accord.

Canon 118 of the Council of Carthage (419 A.D.):

CANON CXVIII (118)

It has pleased the Council to decree that a single Bishop shall not be his own judge.

(Ap. c. LXXIV; c. VI of the 2nd; c. IX of the 4th; cc. XII, XVI, XXVIII, CV, CXVIII of Carthage.)

Interpretation

The present Canon decrees that a single bishop shall not try the case of either another bishop who has a dispute with another, or of a presbyter who has any altercation with that same bishop himself; nor of any other cleric, according to c. IX of the 4th, nor any presbyter accused by another; nor can any deacon be deposed by one bishop alone, according to c. XII of the present C. See also Ap. c. LXXIV, c. VI of the 2nd; and c. XVI of the present C.

Canon 2 (II) of the Local Council of Constantinople:

CANON II (2)

We enact that hereafter that a responsible Bishop when being tried can be deposed neither by three nor much less by two, but only by vote of a larger Council, and if possible of all the provincials, just as the Apostolic Canons also decreed, in order that the condemnation of one deserving to be deposed may be shown by a vote of the majority, in the presence of the one being tried, with greater accuracy.

(Ap. c. LXXIV.)

Interpretation

Since, as we said before, Bishop Bagadius was deposed illegally by only two bishops, the present Council nullifies this and says that hereafter and henceforth a responsible bishop ought not to be deposed from office either by two bishops or by three, but, on the contrary, by a Council of most of the bishops, and if it be possible of all the bishops of the province, just as Ap. c. LXXIV also decrees, in order that by a vote of the majority the deposition of such a bishop may be decided upon more accurately. He must be present too when he is being tried and judged, and not be condemned in his absence. See also Ap. c. LXXIV.

Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s actions were boldly anti-canonical; moreover, Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s position, to which he so zealously held, was patently ridiculous. He should have gladly received the Metropolitans’ clearer and well-founded ecclesiological stance as salvation from evident absurdity.

The Error of Matthewitism:
A Denial of the Church

Showing that V-Bp. Matthew’s views are incorrect is really very simple. What chiefly distinguished V-Bp. Matthew in terms of doctrine is the erroneous, and incredibly foolish, belief that merely by adopting the New Menaion in 1924, the Church of Greece both deprived herself of grace and all those who did not break communion with her. The unstated, but necessary conclusion that an adherent to this error must then draw is that the Orthodox Church, Which Christ said would not cease to exist at any time, actually ceased to exist in 1923-24 and has not existed since then. There is no way around this conclusion, and here is why, set out in the form of a logic proof:

First set of premises:

Major Premise #1: The adoption of or communion with adopters of the New Menaion deprives one of grace.

Minor Premise #1: It is a historical fact that all Orthodox hierarchies throughout the world derive their Apostolic Succession from either Bishops who had adopted the New Menaion or from Bishops who maintained communion with those who followed the New Menaion. (We have already shown this in reference to the Greek Church above and will demonstrate it in regard to the Russian Church later on.)
Conclusion #1: Since every Bishop in the world since 1923 has either been in communion with or a user of the New Menaion and the New Menaion deprives one of grace, every Bishop in the world since 1923 has been graceless. Add one more premise and conclusion and we are at our final conclusion:

Second set of premises:

Major Premise #2 (Conclusion #1) : Every bishop in the world since 1923 has been graceless.

Minor Premise #2 : Orthodox flocks derive grace from their Bishops, as St. Dionysius says.
Conclusion #2 : Both the flocks and the Bishops of every Orthodox Church in the world since 1923 have been graceless and outside the Church. (One could also mention that since the flock is in communion with the Bishop it is graceless for this reason as well.)

The very belief that makes Matthewites Matthewites totally destroys their credibility as “the True Orthodox Church”, inasmuch as by it they deprive themselves of grace and become self-anathematized. For, by declaring the New Menaion grace-depriving, Matthew and all his successors and their followers have declared that:

        (1)    Matthew was consecrated a Vicar-Bishop of Bresthena by men who were themselves not bishops and thus not able to ordain and give that authority to others;

        (2)    since Matthew was only a priest, not having truly been ordained, any ‘ordinations’ to any ecclesiastical order that he made were not ordinations;

        (3)    consequently, the Matthewites have neither episcopacy nor priesthood nor diaconate nor any mysteries derived from them whatsoever.

Therefore, whether or not any of the Old Menaionist hierarchs at any time ever condemned the adopters of the New Menaion as schismatics or even graceless and then altered their opinion is of no consequence in the determining of which group is the true Orthodox Church; for, as we have shown such a change of opinion would be praiseworthy inasmuch as the Matthewite view could not accord with reality, since the New Menaion would have caused the Church to cease to be. According to the Lord Himself (e.g., “I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against her” [Mt. 16:18]), and the Holy Fathers, this cannot occur. Consequently, the sane and right-thinking bishops both of Russia and Greece concluded that adopting the New Menaion or being in communion with those who had could not be a grace-depriving act. Matthew, in maintaining his unique conclusion, is found to be in disagreement with God Himself and the Holy Fathers.

The Unfortunate Consequences
of Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s 1 st Error

Metropolitan Chrysostom was working very hard to bring all the New Calendarists back to the old calendar. It is generally agreed that such was the strength of the Old Calendar Movement before the departure of Matthew that the State Church would have been inevitably forced to reintroduce the Julian calendar. It is reported that such preparations were indeed under way when the news of Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s schism arrived and all plans were put aside. The New Calendarist hierarchs now looked upon the Old Calendar Movement as without unity, and therefore, without credibility.

Bishop Matthew’s Second Error

Bishop Matthew believed, as do all his followers, that from the very beginning, the encyclical of 1935 mentioned above is absolutely the definitive word of the Old Calendarists of Greece. They consider it “The Council of 1935,” and bedrock Orthodoxy, superseding all previous councils, and even above the canons of the Holy Apostles, as we shall see later. All Ecumenical Councils, all regional councils, are thought to be below this “Council of 1935” and its pronouncements.

This is the extremism characteristic of the Matthewites, for disregarding the fact known to all that there were several Greek and Russian patriarchs or first-hierarchs even before 1920 who expressed their private opinion that the Roman Catholics had grace (which Met. Chrysostom did not believe). No one broke communion from them because of their erroneous opinions. The New Calendarists in 1935 were not considered heretics by anyone.

From 1937 to 1950, there remained three factions of the Old Calendar Movement: those who followed the bishops who remained (and were eventually called “Florinites”) and two much smaller groups: those who followed the Vicar-Bishop Matthew, and those who followed Bishop Germanos of the Cyclades with whom Matthew had likewise broken in 1943. Bishop Germanos of the Cyclades would later rejoin Metropolitan Chrysostom and his Synod in January of 1950. The vast majority of the lay people and clergy throughout the history of the Old Calendar Movement, to this very day, belong to the followers of Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina.

During this time, Vicar-Bishop Matthew suffered a stroke in which half of his body, the whole right side, was paralyzed. In normal circumstances, such a bishop would be obligated to retire since he can no longer serve the Divine Services in the image of Christ. By 1948, he was by himself, without any other bishops. The likelihood of Matthew’s movement disintegrating became very great; therefore, in August of that year, Matthew was ‘authorized’ by his church assembly, lead by the protosyngellos Fr. Evgenios Tombros and the abbess of the convent in which he lived in Keratea, the nun Mariam, to consecrate bishops (uncanonically) by himself to continue their schism. To justify themselves in this action, they claimed that they were under persecution and that Matthew was the only canonical bishop left in the w orld. In doing this, they completely disregarded the venerable Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina, and Bishop Germanos of Demetrias, who were both Orthodox, not preaching heresy nor accepting the new calendar, and both of whom lived only a few hours away.

Bishop Matthew’s Third Error

In September of 1948, Vicar-Bishop Matthew ‘consecrated’ by himself Spyridon of Trimythoudos as a bishop, having the Abbess Mariam holding his paralyzed hand on the candidate’s head, in the sanctuary.

Vicar Bishop Matthew’s Ordinations are Invalid According to the Canons

This act was in violation of the Apostolic Canons and other conciliar canons in concord with them. So sacred was this fundamental principle in Orthodoxy that the Apostles have made this the very first of their 85 canons.

Apostolic Canon I: “A Bishop must be ordained by two or three other bishops.” This injunction was implemented to insure that the candidate who was elevated to such an office had the approval of the surrounding bishops, who could attest to the man’s worthiness with regard to Faith and morals. The Apostolic Injunctions (Bk. 8, Chapter 27) also command that anyone ordained a bishop by a single bishop be deposed from office, along with the one who ordained him, with the possible exception of circumstances of persecution or where there were no other bishops available, but the Injunction still commands that the single consecrator must have prior approval of more bishops than just himself in order to carry out this otherwise invalid ordination.

“XXVII. And I Simon the Canaanite make a constitution to determine by how many a bishop ought to be elected. Let a bishop be ordained by three or two bishops; but if any one be ordained by one bishop, let him be deprived, both himself and he that ordained him. But if there be a necessity that he have only one to ordain him, because more bishops cannot come together, as in time of persecution, or for such like causes, let him bring the suffrage of permission from more bishops.

Thus, there is absolutely no allowance in the Apostolic Tradition for what Matthew did. It would even seem that the Apostles foresaw what Matthew would attempt to do and responded with an emphatic “NO” to the Matthewite argument that circumstances of persecution allowed for a lone bishop to elect and consecrate other bishops by himself.

The Canons Condemn
Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s
‘Ordinations’

According to Canon IV and VI of the 1 st Ecumenical Council, Canon III of the 7 th, and Canon XIX of Antioch, the election of a bishop for ordination requires the presence of and ratification by the Metropolitan of the province and the unanimous vote of the whole synod (of which, in case of difficult circumstances, three bishops at least must be present and the rest participate through voting by letter). The only exception to the necessity of a unanimous vote of the synod (of at least three bishops) is if two or three bishops should be found who object to the candidate, not on any reasonable ground, but on account of a private quarrel, in which case the majority vote shall prevail. As to the actual ordination, according to Canons I of the Holy Apostles, IV of the 1 st Ecumenical Council, III of the 7 th Ecumenical Council, XIX of the Local Council of Antioch, I of the Local Council of Constantinople, and XIII & LVIII of Carthage, no ordination to the episcopacy is valid without the presence and participation of at least two bishops (Apostolic Canon I) or three bishops (all of the above cited canons); moreover, the sanction of the Metropolitan and the synod should be given to this ordination for it to be valid. According to the Council of Carthage, even one dissenting bishop can invalidate the blessing for the ordination. If any bishop violates these canons, he is deposed along with the one who was invalidly ordained by him. Lastly, Canon X of Antioch, also forbids a Vicar Bishop to ordain anything more than a sub-deacon without the ruling bishop’s permission. For this reason, Canon VIII of the 1 st Ecumenical Council does not consider a vicar-bishop or chorepiscopos to be the same as a normal bishop so that to have a chorepiscopos and a ruling bishop in the same city is not truly the same as having two bishops in one city.

As we showed earlier, according to the canons, the bishops from whom Vicar-Bishop Matthew separated were still bishops, having never been convicted of any crime (nor having committed one) nor having taught a Patristically-condemned heresy publicly, in church, “with a bared-head”. Consequently, even if Matthew had not been only a vicar-bishop, unable to ordain without his bishop’s permission, still Matthew, if he were a ruling bishop, should have sought the unanimous approval of his candidate by the synod and should have received the blessing and assistance of the other valid bishops for his ordinations; he did not, and so he was subject to deposition according to the canons. The ineffectiveness of these ‘ordinations’ was visibly manifested in the fact that he ordained his candidate with his ‘dead’ or paralyzed right hand with the Abbess Mariam holding his hand on the candidate’s head. This gave the appearance that Abbess Mariam was a co-consecrator! Can one imagine the sight?! An episcopal ‘consecration’ carried out by a paralyzed vicar-bishop by himself solely on his own authority with a nun in the sanctuary holding his dead hand on the candidate’s head!

Apostolic Canon 1 (I):

CANON I (1):

A Bishop must be ordained by two or three other Bishops.

(c. IV of 1st C.; c. III of 7th C.)

Concord

Various other canons are in agreement with this Canon in their legislation. For all the bishops of a province (according to c. IV of the 1st C. and c. III of the 7th council and c. XIX of Antioch), or many (according to c. XIII of Carthage) must meet together and ordain a bishop. But since this is difficult, the required number is reduced to three as the minimum, and the rest of them participate in the ordination by means of their letters. In confirming this Ap. c. the c. LVIII of Carthage says that this ancient form shall be kept, in order that no less than three bishops may suffice for the ordination of a bishop, including, that is to say, the metropolitan and two other bishops. The same thing is said in c. I of local synod held in Constantinople. And c. XII of Laodicea ordains that bishops should be appointed to the ecclesiastical office only with the approval of surrounding bishops...

(c. XIX of Antioch; c. XII of Laodicea; c. VI of the Sardican; and c. I of Constantinople.)

Canon 4 (IV) of the First Ecumenical Council:

CANON IV (4)

It is most fitting that a Bishop should be installed by all those in his province. But if such a thing is difficult either because of the urgency of circumstances, or because of the distance to be traveled, at least three should meet together somewhere and by their votes combined with those of the ones absent and joining in the election by letter they should carry out the ordination thereafter. But as for the ratification of the proceedings, let it be entrusted in each province to the Metropolitan.

(Ap. c. I; c. III of the 7th; c. XIX of Antioch; c. VI of Sardican; c. XII of Laodicea; and cc. XII, LVIII, LIX of Carthage.)

Interpretation

The present Canon decrees that a bishop ought to be ordained by all the bishops in the province whenever this is feasible; but in case it is difficult for all of them to be gathered together at a meeting for this purpose, whether on account of some urgent necessity, or because of the long distance of travel involved, let at least three bishops meet together in any event, and let those absent contribute their votes by letter in the ordination, and then let them ordain him...

Canon 6 (VI) of the First Ecumenical Council:

CANON VI (6)

Let the ancient customs prevail which were in vogue in Egypt and Libya and Pentapolis, to allow the bishop of Alexandria to have authority over all these parts, since this is also the treatment usually accorded to the bishop of Rome. Likewise with reference to Antioch, and in other provinces, let the seniority be preserved to the Churches. In general it is obvious that in the case in which anyone has been made a bishop without the Metropolitan’s approval, the great Council has prescribed that such a person must not be a Bishop. If, however, to the common vote of all, though reasonable and in accordance with an ecclesiastical Canon, two or three men object on account of a private quarrel, let the vote of the majority prevail.

(Ap. c. XXXIV; c. II of the 2nd; c. VIII of the 3rd; c. XXVIII of the 4th; c. XXXVI of the 6th; c. XIX of Laodicea; c. XIII of Carthage.)

Interpretation

Canon 3 (III) of the Seventh Ecumenical Council:

CANON III (3)

Every appointment of a bishop, or of a presbyter, or of a deacon made by civil rulers shall remain void in accordance with the Canon which says: “If any bishop comes into possession of a church by employing secular rulers, let him be deposed from office, and let him be excommunicated. And all those who communicate with him too.” For it behooves anyone who is going to be promoted to a bishopric to be appointed by bishops, as was decreed by the holy Fathers assembled in Nicaea, in the Canon saying: “It is most fitting that a bishop should be installed by all those in his province. But if such a thing is difficult either because of the urgency of circumstances, or because of the distance to be traveled, at least three, should meet together somewhere and by their votes combined with those of the ones absent and joining in the election by letter they should carry out the ordination thereafter. But as for the ratification of the proceedings, let it be entrusted in each province to the Metropolitan.

(Ap. cc. I, II, XXX, LXI; c. IV of the 1st; cc. V, XIII of Laodicea; c. LIX of Carthage; c. VII of Timothy.)

Canon 19 (XIX) of the Regional Council of Antioch:

CANON XIX (19)

No Bishop shall be ordained without a Synod and the presence of the Metropolitan of the province. He must be present in any case, and it were better that all the fellow ministers in the province should attend the Synod too; accordingly, the bishop in the metropolis should be summoned to it by letter. And it were better that all of them should respond, but if this be found difficult, at least a majority of them ought in any case to be present or to join in the voting by means of letters, and thus let the prebend be granted by a majority of votes of those present or joining by letter. If any ordination has been obtained otherwise than has been defined and prescribed, let it be of no effect. But if a prebend has been granted in accordance with the Canon provided, and some persons should object to it on account of their having a quarrel of their own, let the majority vote prevail.

(Ap. c. I; cc. IV and VI of the First.)

Canon 1 (I) of the Local Council of Constantinople:

CANON I (1)

We enact that it shall not be permissible for a Bishop to be ordained by two, conformably to the Nicene Council.

(Ap. c. I)

Interpretation

Since the holy and Ecumenical First Council enacted in its c. IV that three bishops must without fail meet together and ordain a bishop, having followed the second decree of Ap. c. I, in like manner the present holy Council decrees that no bishop can be ordained by only two bishops. And see Ap. c. I.

Canons 13 (XIII) and 58 (LVIII) of the Regional Council of Carthage (419 A.D.):

CANON XIII (13)

Numerous Bishops having been assembled, they shall ordain a Bishop. But if necessary three Bishops, no matter in what region they be, at the order of the chief Bishop, shall ordain a Bishop. And if anyone in any particular ordination objects to his own assentation, or to his own signature or act of subscribing thereto, he shall deprive himself of the honor.

(Ap. c. I; cc. IV, VI of the 1st; c. III of the 7th; e. XIX of Antioch; the Memoirs concerning Love and Bagad., or, more expressly speaking, Canon I of the regional Council held in Constantinople.)

CANON LVIII (58)

The ancient form shall be kept, in order that not less than three of the Bishops required for ordination shall suffice.

(Ap. c. I; c. IV of the Ist; c. III of the 7th; c. XIX of Antioch; c. XIII of Carthage; the memoirs concerning Love and Bagad.)

Interpretation

The old Canon of the Apostles and of the subsequent Councils must be kept, and especially c. IV of the First Ec. C., which this Council promises in its c. I to follow, just as the present Canon decrees that fewer than three bishops shall not ordain another bishop by the rite of sacred prayers. See also Ap. c. I.

Canon 10 (X) of the Holy Regional Council of Antioch:

CANON X (10)

As for Auxiliary Bishops in villages or country towns, or so-called Chorepiscopoi, even though they have received ordination by the laying on of hands, it has seemed best to the holy Council that they should recognize their own limitations, and govern the churches subject to their jurisdiction, and be content with the cure and guardianship of these, and, on the other hand, to appoint anognosts (or lectors), and subdeacons, and exorcisers, and be content with their promotion, and not venture to ordain a Presbyter or even a Deacon, without the concurrence of the Bishop in the city to whom he and his district are subject. But if anyone should dare to transgress the rules laid down, let him be deposed from office and even from whatever honor he has been enjoying. An Auxiliary Bishop is to be made such by the Bishop of the city to which he is subject.

(c. VIII of the 1st.)

Interpretation

The present Canon commands that Chorepiscopoi located in villages and small towns, even though they have been ordained by the imposition of hands by which one is made a bishop, must nevertheless keep within their bounds, and govern only the churches that are subject to them, and ordain only lectors, subdeacons, and exorcisers, or what are otherwise known as catechists, but not priest or deacons, without the permission of the bishop over the full-grown city to whom they too as well as their territory are subject and by whom they are made. But if they should transgress these rules, let them be deposed from office. See the Footnote to c. VIII of the 1st.

At that time, there was no persecution that prevented Matthew from co-operating with the other canonical bishops in Greece. Matthew could have traveled to any place in Greece (as did Metropolitan Chrysostom to Matthew’s bedside when he was dying), or he could have contacted, in this the 20th century, any other bishop throughout the world for help. Indeed, Vicar-Bishop Matthew several times wrote to Bishop Germanos of the Cyclades and the hierarchs of Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina’s synod to ‘repent’ and submit to him (Matthew), so that together they might consecrate bishops; however, the aforementioned bishops proved unwilling to submit to Matthew and his illogical beliefs. He even petitioned bishops outside of Greece to repent and consecrate bishops with him, but to no avail. Consequently, the Matthewite mindset was confirmed: Vicar-Bishop Matthew was the only Orthodox bishop left on earth. Therefore, there was no one else to contact. Bishop Matthew was dying, and they had to continue their line.

Bishop Matthew’s Fourth Error

Beginning in 1948, immediately after Vicar-Bishop Matthew shocked the majority of Old Calendarist Greeks by scornfully violating the Holy Canons in ordaining bishops by himself, Blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom began to strive by all lawful means to reconcile Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s parasynagogue with the Church. Lest any avoidable issue should prove a stumbling block to their return for those among the Matthewites who were scandalized by Matthew’s actions, Blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom was even willing to publicly compromise his own beliefs for the sake of their salvation. At this time, the Synod of Metropolitan Chrysostom publically fulfilled the requirements for communion stated by the parasynagogue bishops at the time of their separation: that the New Calendarists were schismatics and lacked grace.

After Matthew’s uncanonical one-handed ordination, and the subsequent ordinations performed by him and the one he ordained, many Matthewite clergy, monastics, and laity returned to the Church led by the blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina. The repentant Matthewites joined the Florinites because they understood that Matthew had grossly violated the laws of the Church with no justification. The holy Canons bore witness against him, seeing that both Metropolitans Chrysostom and Germanos had never been deposed and had never been put on trial, were not preaching heresy, and were not in communion with heretics. Besides this fact, everybody in Greece understood that a vicar-bishop had no right to ordain even a deacon or priest on his own authority under any circumstances, let alone break the canons to ordain a bishop. Therefore, according to the logic or mentality of the Matthewites, God’s providence was incapable of foreseeing that, for the Church to continue, God would have to cooperate in breaking His own canons.

Bishop Germanos of the Cyclades With Metropolitans
Chrysostom of Florina, Christopher of Megara, & Polycarp of Diavila in 1944

Also, at this time, Bishop Germanos of the Cyclades became convinced that there was no longer any satisfactory reasons for his separation from the Synod of Blessed Met. Chrysostom of Florina. After the break between Matthew and himself in 1943, Bishop Germanos had begun meeting with Blessed Met. Chrysostom and his Synod, discussing how he might be reconciled to them, but the positive results of this did not come until several years later. During that time, Bishop Germanos observed the disastrous end toward which Matthew’s anti-canonical path was leading and began to more seriously reevalutate his pursuit of a similar path. In 1948, while in prison, Bishop Germanos made the decision to rejoin the Synod of Blessed Met. Chrysostom, who at this same time was also undertaking extraordinary measures to reconcile the parasynagogues to his Synod. Bishop Germanos would fulfill his decision at his first opportunity upon being released from prison in January of 1950.

However, Vicar-Bishop Matthew and his most ardent adherents continued to remain aloof, although he had formerly promised to reunite with his brother bishops once the New Calendarists (now Constantinople, Greece, Finland, Romania, and Antioch) were declared graceless schismatics.

On September 15/28, 1949, Vicar-Bishop Matthew and his followers declared him “Archbishop of Athens and All Greece”, vividly expressing through the unlawful assumption of this title their erroneous belief that Vicar-Bishop Matthew and his illegitimate ordainees were the sole Orthodox hierarchs left in the world; for, Matthew could not usurp this title if the legitimate Archbishop of Athens were still in the Church, nor could he have usurped it even if the Archiepiscopal throne were vacant, in as much as the whole hierarchy of the Church appoints a bishop to a see and gives him the authority to govern that diocese. In more recent times, in the case of a simple bishop, the Church has delegated this authority to confirm him to the synod of his autocephalous local part of the Church; however, whenever the president of a local part of the Church (e.g. the Archbishop of Athens, head of the autocephalous “Church of Greece”) is elected by the other hierarchs of his synod, then that presiding-bishop sends out notification of his appointment, his synod’s confession of Faith, and his requests for letters of confirmation from the other autocephalous synods of the Church, thereby receiving proof from the whole Church of the lawfulness of his occupying that see and that presidency. From these facts, we should understand that the only way that Vicar-Bishop Matthew of Bresthene and his cohorts could lawfully bestow this title (“Archbishop of Athens and All Greece”) and see on himself is if, in fact, no other Orthodox bishops besides themselves existed in the world. Plainly, Vicar-Bishop Matthew and his illegimate ordinees believed exactly this since they bestowed the title and see without ever requesting and receiving the confirmation of his appointment from the other Orthodox synods, that is, from the Church.

Bishop Matthew lived for two more years after Metropolitan Chrysostom’s extraordinary attempt at reconciling him to the Church, and, in 1950, Matthew died. As Matthew’s death approached, Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina, now the senior hierarch of the Orthodox Greek Old Calendarists, recognizing that a moment of opportunity to correct this schism was at hand, came to Vicar-Bishop Matthew. Vicar-Bishop Matthew, as we have been told, and all have accepted, turned with love to Metropolitan Chrysostom and said these words of reconciliation: “Why are we divided?” At this time, Metropolitan Chrysostom professed the New Calendarists were graceless schismatics as Matthew had demanded. Metropolitan Chrysostom left feeling very encouraged by Matthew’s reception and decided to return, knowing that these uncanonical ordinations performed two years earlier could be corrected and made canonical if the Matthewites wished to unite with the Florinites.

When Metropolitan Chrysostom, in his desire to correct this schism, approached Vicar-Bishop Matthew for the second time at his bedside, something very unfortunate happened. Vicar-Bishop Matthew turned his face away from Metropolitan Chrysostom, with no words of reconciliation. What was the difference between their two meetings? The only difference between them was that during the second meeting, the Abbess Mariam was at Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s side to dissuade him, and she asked Metropolitan Chrysostom to depart. The two bishops never met again. Vicar-Bishop Matthew lost forever the opportunity to correct all his previous errors.

In May of 1950, Bishop Matthew died and left his synod of uncanonically ordained bishops to continue their existence to this day, isolated from the rest of the Old Calendarists. Again, Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina tried to heal this schism. His Synod issued a final appeal, the most self-sacrificing yet, to the Matthewites to unite themselves with them.

The encyclical, issued on the 2nd of June 1950, stated that the New Calendarists were graceless schismatics, that upon their return to the old calendar they should be chrismated, and he openly rescinded and apologized for any statements he had made between 1937 and 1950 that were “contrary and opposed to the principles of the Eastern Orthodox Church of Christ and the sacred struggle for Orthodoxy conducted by us, as proclaimed in the encyclical published by the Holy Synod in 1935”. He did this in the most public and humble way possible, by taking all the blame on himself. Even after all of this, the Matthewites still called him an apostate and refused to unite with him! Since all possible stumbling-blocks had been removed, the only obstacle that separated the Matthewites from the Church now was their irrational hatred and pride.

Within a matter of weeks after V-Bp. Matthew’s death, his parasynagogue made quite clear its continued adherence to V-Bp. Matthew’s irrational rejection of the whole Church since 1924 by appointing the Matthewite ‘Bishop’ Demetrios of Thessalonika “Locum Tenens of the Archiepiscopal Throne of Athens and All Greece” and instructing him to make ready what was necessary for the election of the next occupant of that (unlawfully claimed) throne. The meaning of such an action was expounded upon earlier, and this act certainly excluded the possibility of the existence of any other Orthodox bishops in Greece, not to speak of the whole world. It was one of their many ways of stating their emphatic rejection of Blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom and the Synod under his presidency and his attempt to reconcile them to the Church.

The Matthewites’ Fifth Error

The Matthewites, by refusing to unite with the Synod of the blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina (it consisted of five bishops at that time), even after they affirmed the required confession of faith, committed another sin against the Church; for, if to cause a schism cannot be expunged even by martyrdom, how much more dreadful a sin is it not to correct a schism in the Church, or to let a schism remain? And yet the Matthewites did precisely this!

Let us read what the Holy Apostles exhorted the bishops of their times to do:

The Apostolic Injunctions (Constitutions), XXI

“Now the way of peace is our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who has taught us, saying: ‘Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Give, and it shall be given to you;’ that is, give remission of sins, and your offences shall be forgiven you. As also He instructed us by His prayer to say unto God: ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’... For know ye, that he who casts out one who has not behaved himself wickedly, or who will not receive him that returns, is a murderer of his brother, and sheds his blood, as Cain did that of his brother Abel, and his ‘blood cries to God,’ and will be required.”

This sin of the Matthewites was of tremendous consequence against themselves. Why? Because they were the ones, more than anybody else, who needed to have their uncanonical ordinations rectified. They not only caused a schism in the Church, they sought to perpetuate it, adding sin upon sin. God spare us from such blindness! From a Christian point of view, if the Matthewites believed that they were true Christians in the spirit and the letter, there is absolutely no justification for rejecting someone who, from their point of view, is repenting.

The next incident worth noting is the uncovering of the remains of Bishop Matthew. People in America should understand that Greece is a very small country, and that it is very difficult to hide any kind of irregularity if many people are involved. People will talk. There has never been a greater controversy over the uncovering of the remains of someone, than that involving Bishop Matthew. Reports of some who had been witnesses of this have one story, which says that they were unholy; and then there is the official line of the Matthewite witnesses, which say the opposite. To go into this will not be to our profit in studying the canonical basis of the Matthewites, other than to point out that the uncovering of the holy remains of other prominent people in Greece is without controversy. For example, the uncovering of the incorrupt remains of the blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina was done in public. The earth was broken after the monastery gates were opened, unlike what happened to Bishop Matthew. It should also be noted that if the remains of Bp. Matthew revealed an unholy state, the entire makeup of his schism would have collapsed.

The Position of Blessed Met. Chrysostom
from 1950 to His Repose in 1955

Although for the sake of saving the souls led astray by V-Bp. Matthew and Bp. Germanos by returning them within the bounds of the canons of Orthodoxy and the unity of the Church, Blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom had fulfilled to the letter the demands of the parasynagogue bishops, he had been very careful not go any further and commit himself to the fatal error of Matthew, i.e., the conclusion that the New Calendarists AND all those in communion with them were graceless since the adoption of the New Menaion. This Matthewite view, quoted above from Matthew’s 1944 encyclical, essentially destroys the uniting bond between those who hold it and the whole Church that predates the beginning of their sect; the Matthewites anathematize the whole Church and consequently no longer have any bond of unity with it. Their anathemas fall on their own heads. Blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom very wisely avoided such a soul-destroying act. Until those in error could be brought to reason, he was willing for a time to say what he knew was not true, that the New Calendarists (at this time Greece [1924], Romania [1926], and Antioch [1948]) were graceless schismatics, for the sake of returning to the saving enclosure of the Church those who had broken away from Her; yet, he never dared to say that the whole Church was graceless and schismatic as did Vicar-Bishop Matthew with his irrational condemnation of all users of the New Menaion and all those who had ever been in communion with them. Although this method has unhappily caused his reputation to suffer so that some regard him as vacillating, illogical, and weak in his convictions, Blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom’s decision seems to a great extent justified by the large numbers of parasynagogue members that, partly because of his decision, returned to the fold, including Bishop Germanos himself in 1950; however, unhappily this number did not include V-Bp. Matthew and his most ardent adherents. Their emphatic rejections of any attempt at reconciliation have already been detailed above.

The elderly bishop Germanos of the Cyclades was soon imprisoned once again and died in March of 1951 from the excessive abuse he endured at the hands of the government. During this time, observing the utter intransigence of the remaining Matthewites, Metropolitan Chrysostom began correcting the misconceptions fostered by his temporary condescension to the parasynagogue. Throughout that period, His synod had never applied the directive that the New Calendarists’ should be chrismated, as one contemporary priest of the Synod records [Mavros, Fr. Theodoretos, Απόκρισις εις την Απάντησιν... (Answer to the Reply...), pp. 18-19 (in Greek)]. Moreover, after the Matthewites rejected his final attempt at reconciliation, he stated that any condemnation of the New Calendarists as a real schism “does not finally apply until the [Calendar Issue] is discussed at the future Pan-Orthodox Council.” “Βραδινή” (“Evening”) newspaper, July 2, 1950 (in Greek)]. In 1951, during his exile to Mytilene, he was once visited by the recently-enthroned Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras, who sought to persuade Blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom to return to communion with the New Calendarists with promises of a prestigious diocese and various gifts. To this the Blessed Metropolitan replied that it was not for hope of such things that he was enduring all manner of adversity, but that the Patriarch “would please [him] and the mass of Orthodox Christians, not to mention God and His Angels,” if “[he] would bring about the union of Orthodox Christians by restoring the Patristic Calendar to the Church.” [Elias Angelopoulos and Dionysios Batistatos, Metropolitan of Florina, Chrysostomos Kavourides (Struggler for Orthodoxy and for the People) (Athens: 1981), p. 30 (in Greek)] And this was his public stance from July of 1950 to his blessed repose in 1955.

In 1954, Metropolitans Christophoros and Polykarpos waivered and returned to the New Menaionist Hierarchy, leaving Metropolitan Chrysostom as the only Old Menaionist Orthodox hierarch in Greece and confined to that country by its government. Although he received offers from foreign bishops, such as the Serbian Orthodox Bishop Nikolai Velamirovich, to help him secretly consecrate other Old Calendarist hierarchs, Blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom declined to do so. Most likely he refused to do this because he did not consider it canonically proper for a hierarch of the Church of Greece to consecrate bishops for Greece without the consent of the Greek episcopate, which would be impossible to obtain, and because it would be doubly impermissable for such consecrations to a see in Greece to be made by a bishop of another, foreign synod (i.e. a bishop of the Orthodox Church in Serbia) without the approval of the Greek episcopate. Blessed Met. Chrysostom foresaw his repose and departed this life on September 7, 1955, the Feast of the Nativity of the All-holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. At the public opening of his relics six years later, his body was found to be incorrupt, and, it is recorded, after this, he worked various miracles for the pious.

Subsequent “Florinite” History to 1971

In consequence of these happenings, the Greek Orthodox Old Calendarists were left without a hierarchy for 5 years until the clandestined consecrations (the State would have prevented public ones) of the Florinites’ bishops-elect - Akkakios (Pappas) in 1960 and Parthenios, Auxentios, and Chrysostom in 1962 - with the aid of two ROCA hierarchs (Seraphim of Chicago and Leonty of Chile) and a Romanian New Calendarist hierarch (Theophilus Ioanescu), a member of the ROCA at that time. The validity of these consecrations was questioned by some New Calendarists and Matthewites at first because the ROCA Synod ignored them, rather than either recognizing or condemning them, until the ROCA Synod issued an offical synodal recognition of the “Florinite” hierarchy and established communion between the two Synods on December 18/31, 1969.

At the time of the consecrations in 1960 and 1962, the ROCA was in communion with the New Calendarists and had some New Calendar parishes (as they had until this year); moreover, one of the consecrators was even a New Calendarist. Therefore, without doubt the Florinite Synod at this time was still maintaining Blessed Met. Chrysostom’s position that the innovation in regard to the menaion cycle was not in itself an actual schism whereby all New Calendarists would be deprived of grace, but could only become such after its universal condemnation as such by a Pan-Orthodox or Ecumenical Synod.

Now let us return to the Matthewites and continue the history of their further errors.

A Positive Decision by the Matthewite Synod, which unfortunately led to their Sixth Error

In September 1971, the Matthewite Synod under the presidency of Archbishop Agathangelos, conscious of the stigma that was on their church through the uncanonical ordination by Vicar-Bishop Matthew, decided to rectify this error. To accomplish this end, they petitioned the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), under the presidency of the blessed Saint Metropolitan Philaret, to have their ordinations judged and promised to obey their decisions. At that time, the Russian Church Abroad was in full communion with Archbishop Auxentios, the head of the Florinites. The Matthewites could have made their petition, canonically speaking, to Archbishop Auxentios, who was in Greece and was a former Matthewite himself. Because they did not wish to recognize the Florinites since the time of Archbishop Chrysostom of Florina, they instead traveled across the world to ask a sister Church of the Florinites to correct their ordination! This is another example of the illogical actions of the Matthewites.

The Matthewites sent two bishops, Metropolitans Kallistos and Epiphanios, to New York to make their petition on behalf of their Synod. The decision of the ROCA concerning the uncanonical ordination of the Matthewites is presented below, according to the Russian Bishops’ Protocol #16, 15-9-1971.

Synod Letterhead

Decision

The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad Protocol #16-II

Date (15/28-9-1971)

“...Every consecration performed without observing the canons is already essentially invalid, even if it is performed by canonically consecrated bishops... They [the Matthewite hierarchy] violated hierarchal order when Bishop Matthew alone performed an episcopal ordination. A simple acceptance [on the ROCA’s part] of these ordinations is able to cause a scandal because of the setting aside of the First Apostolic Canon, the Fourth of the First Ecumenical Synod, and the Third Canon from the Seventh Ecumenical Synod and other canons also... The Russian Synod has made the following decision.

1. In order to bring into reality the request of hierarchs Kallistos and Epiphanios, two bishops must perform the “laying on of hands”; they afterwards will perform this also on their brother bishops, and these bishops to the lower clergy. [emphasis ours]

2. It should be obligatory on hierarchs Kallistos and Epiphanios and those brother bishops who are with them, to do everything possible to bring about the unity with all the hierarchs, clergy and people who are under Archbishop Auxentios.

3. Archbishop Auxentios is to be informed of all the above.

4. We decree that the above ceremony is to be performed at the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Boston with Archbishop Philotheos and Bishop Constantine.

On behalf of the Synod of Bishops,

Laurus, Bishop of Manhattan, Secretary of the Synod.”

These prayers with the laying on of hands were duly performed on September 17/30 and September 18/October 1, 1971, upon the hierarchs Kallistos and Epiphanios, as witnessed by the author of this article, and officially witnessed to with their signatures by the officiating hierarchs, plus lower clergy from Greece and the United States.

This decision of the Matthewite hierarchy to have their ordinations corrected acknowledges that the ordinations by Bishop Matthew were indeed uncanonical and invalidated all of their statements from 1948 to 1971, where they had maintained that the ordinations of Bishop Matthew were indeed true and grace-filled. This had now been proven false by their own actions. Also, the Matthewite interpretation of the “Confession of Faith of 1935” had again been put in question, since the ROCA did not adhere, from the Matthewite point of view, to its pronouncement of lack of grace in the New Calendar churches since 1924.

This decision, a renunciation of Matthewite past ecclesiology, overturned the Matthewite idea that because these are the latter times, it is permissible to violate the canons. This decision confirmed that Matthew’s ordinations needed to be corrected, for not one bishop in the whole Orthodox world would have accepted those ordinations, even to this day. No canonical bishop ever accepted these ordinations, and neither did the ROCA; they corrected them. The Russian bishops said that they could not simply recognize these ordinations, because Matthew broke the canons. Therefore, two bishops were required for a hierothesia. The ROCA bishops read the prayer of ordination over these two bishops. This is what hierothesia is. The word “hierothesia” comes from the word “heir,” which means hand, and “theto,” place on: in other words, the laying on of hands. This is what happened twice in Boston, on September 17/30 and the following day. The reason they did it over two days was because it was a hierothesia, which involves the prayer of ordination, and only one bishop can be ordained per liturgy per day. There is no such thing in the Orthodox Church as a “prayer of absolution for an uncanonical ordination”, contrary to what the Matthewites maintain today. Present-day Matthewite arguments alleging the permissibility of violating the canons in time of ‘persecution’ are unacceptable and without foundation in the rulings of the Apostles, Fathers, and Councils. These arguments did not persuade the Russian Synod in 1971, and they will not now persuade us.

To recapitulate in 1971, the Matthewite Bishops finally admitted their error and sought communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (which had maintained communion with the New Menaionists until December of 1965 and was still in communion with the G.O.C. of Greece [Florinites] at that time and correction of their ordinations from the ROCA bishops. The ROCA synod discussed the Matthewite Schism’s history and Matthew’s canonical violations and came to the conclusion that they could not be received into the Church in their orders, as had some Novationist and Donatist schismatic clergy in the 4 th and 5 th centuries AD, since, unlike the Novationists and Donatists, “they violated the hierarchical order when an episcopal consecration was performed by Bishop Matthew alone. A simple recognition of their orders could bring scandal as a direct violation of the canons: [the canons demanding episcopal ordinations by multiple bishops are named] ...Taking into consideration all the aforesaid,...the Synod of Bishops resolves that:...

1...[T]wo bishops must perform the laying-on-of-hands over them [Matthewite Metropolitans Kallistos and Epiphanios -Editor] . They, in turn, must subsequently perform the same over their brethren, and all bishops over the priests;

2. To oblige Metropolitans Kallistos and Epiphanios, as well as their brethren, to take all possible steps to unite their hierarchy, clergy, and people with those who are headed by His Beatitude, Archbishop Auxentius...”

[The sacred struggle of the true Orthodox Christians of Greece, 1919-1992]

The two Matthewite Metropolitans consented to this, and the laying-on-of-hands was performed on the 17 th and 18 th of September 1971 for each of them by ROCA bishops. Archbishop Philotheos of Hamburg and Bishop Constantine of Brisbane performed the laying-on-of-hands and informed the ROCA Synod with the following “Act”:

“In fulfillment of the Sobor’s decree dated 15/28 September, 1971, we read the prayers with the laying-on of our hands upon His Grace Kallistos, Metropolitan of Corinth, on September 17/30, 1971, and on September 18/October 1 of the same year upon His Grace Epiphanios, Metropolitan of Kition, in the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Brookline, Mass.

Date: Sept. 18, 1971

Signatures: Witnesses:

+Archbishop Philotheos Archimandrite Kalliopios

+Bishop Constantine Archimandrite Panteleimon

Hieromonk Haralambos”

[The sacred struggle of the true Orthodox Christians of Greece, 1919-1992]

Many Matthewites today deny that the above mentioned consecrations took place, saying that their hierarchs were deceived by the ROCA into believing that these were merely prayers of repentance rather than laying-on-of-hands; however, we have their own official press organ to refute this fiction.

The following is from the Matthewite official organ (Kyrix Ekklesias Orthodoxon, November, 1971, pp. 3-13):
“the Most Reverand Hierarchs Archbishop Philotheos of Germany and Konstantinos of Australia were sent by the Holy [Russian] Synod to Boston in order to lay their hands on [ ceiroqesia ] our Hierarchs Kallistos of Corinth and Epiphanios of Kition. Thus on September 17, 1971 according to the Orthodox calendar, Metropolitan Kallistos of Corinth was consecrated [ ceirotonhqhke ] by the above Hierarchs, and Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kition on the 18th of the same month”
The Russian text of the official Act reproduced in the same Matthewite organ declares that the Russians “read prayers with the laying on of hands [ дрочитали молитву с воаложенем рук ]” on the two hierarchs. On returning to Greece, Metropolitan Kallistos and Epiphanios were to duly perform the same Mystery on their brother hierarchs. So, without doubt, the corrections did indeed happen as such and with the consent and knowledge of the Matthewite Synod.

We should also now establish the fact that this communion with ROCA completely overturned the synodal confession of the Matthewites of the previous 34 years, i.e.,that because the New Calendarists were graceless schismatics or even heretics, no communion with them was possible since it meant apostasy. Some apologists for the Matthewites’ five-year union with ROCA claim that the ROCA up to that time had always held to the Matthewite position, that the Synod was never in communion with the New Calendarists and considered them schismatic. This is an easily-exposed falsehood.

The Position of the Russian Church

When the Locum Tenens of the Constantinopolitan throne and ten other metropolitans signed the well-known 1920 encyclical, the Russian Church did not break communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate as can be seen from the fact that the ROCA, when, in Constantinople (11 months after the encyclical was issued), formed itself into the Higher Church Administration Abroad it sought and received the agreement and blessing of the same Locum Tenens, Met. Dorotheos of Prussa [see Vladimir Moss, The Orthodox Church at the Crossroads, Chapter: “The Russian Church in Exile”] When the Old Calendar Movement began in 1924, no bishop anywhere in the world separated himself from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the New Menaion bishops of the Greek Church. Having been duped by false information from Patriarch Meletios IV and the Communists that the whole Church had adopted the New Menaion, Patriarch Tikhon, head of the Russian Church, likewise decreed the introduction of the New Menaion into the Russian Church, which was effective from June to December of 1923. He only reversed his decision a full seven months later when Archbishop Anastassy of Kishniev (later Metropolitan of ROCA) informed him that only the Greek bishops had adopted it. At that time, he withdrew his former support for it; yet, he had recognized that such an adoption did not separate one from the Church and, consequently, he never broke communion with the Greek New Menaionist bishops. The Catacomb saints of the Communist period all recognized themselves as Tikhonites, and derived their ordinations from bishops who maintained communion with St. Tikhon; hence they would not have repudiated his policy to their own self-condemnation. The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad under Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) likewise remained in communion with Constantinople and Athens and the Metropolitan himself declared in 1926 in an epistle to an Athonite monk that the change of the Menaion was not sufficient cause for breaking communion with the New Menaionists.

On the one hand, Met. Anthony wrote critically of the new menaion, calling it “this senseless and pointless concession to Masonry and Papism” and noting that Constantinople’s disdainful attitude toward Church canons and traditions bode very ill for the likelihood of Constantinople remaining Orthodox.

However, he said, Constantinople had not yet ventured into heresy, nor had the adoption of the Gregorian menaion cycle ever been condemned by the whole Church so as to make its adoption an act of separation from the Church; therefore, the policy of the Russian Church Abroad was to remain in communion with the Patriarchates that had adopted the new menaion.

“In 1926, writing to the Russian Athonite Hieroschemamonk Theodosius of Karoulia, he [Met. Anthony] refused to break communion with the new calendarists of the Constantinopolitan and Greek Churches: ‘You know the 13 th, 14 th and 15 th canons of the First-and-Second Council, which speaks about separating oneself from a Bishop or Patriarch after his conciliar condemnation. And then there is the canon (the 15 th ), which says that that clergyman is worthy, not of condemnation, but of praise, who breaks his links with him [the Patriarch] for the sake of a heresy condemned by the holy councils or fathers..., and besides ‘when he (that is, the first-hierarch) preaches heresy publicly and teaches it openly in the Church’. But this, glory to God, neither P[atriarch] Basil [III of Constantinople] nor [Archbishop] Chrysostom [of Athens] have done yet. On the contrary, they insist on keeping the former Paschalion, for only it, and not the Julian calendar itself was covered by the curse of the [Ecumenical] Councils. True, P[atriarch] Jeremiah in the 16th century and his successor in the 18 th anathematized the calendar itself, but this curse: 1) touches only his contemporaries [that is, those under him and his synod, who would be obliged, in general, to follow their bishop and synod - Editor ] and 2) does not extend to those who are frightened to break communion with him [who innovates - Editor ], to which are subjected only those who transgress the canonical Paschalion. Moreover (this needs to be noted in any case), the main idea behind the day of Pascha is that it should be celebrated by all the Christians (that is, the Orthodox) on one and the same day throughout the inhabited world. True, I myself and my brothers do not at all sympathize with the new calendar and modernism, but we beseech the Athonite fathers not to be hasty in composing letters ( Romans 14). -- Do not grieve about our readiness to go to the C[onstantinople] Council. Of course, there will be no council, but if there is, and if we go, as St. Flavian went to the robber council, then, of course, we will keep the faith and deliver the apostates to anathema. But as long as the last word has not been spoken, as long as the whole Church has not repeated the curses of Patriarch Jeremiah at an ecumenical council, we must retain communion, so that we ourselves should not be deprived of salvation, and, in aiming at a gnat, swallow a camel...’”

“In another letter...: ‘It is in vain that you torment your conscience with doubts about continuing to be in communion with the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate. Present this matter to the judgment of the hierarchs, and until it has taken place remain in communion...’” [V. Moss, Orthodoxy at the Crossroads , St. Petersburg 2001,“The ROCA and the Greek Old Calendarists”]

Moreover, Blessed Met. Anthony continued to believe even to the time of his repose that the Ecumenical Patriarchate was a valid Church and had grace. In October of 1934, George Paraschos and Basil Stamatoulis, the President and Secretary General respectively of the Community of Genuine Orthodox Christians, appealed to the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, to consecrate bishops for the Old Calendarists and take them under his omophorion. [For the letter see: Stavros Karamitsos, The Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane {in Greek}, pp. 111-112]. Met. Anthony did not consent to this at this time, because it was against the canons to interfere or ordain clergy or bishops in another valid Orthodox bishop’s diocese without his permission. For the ROCA to do so in 1934 would have been an explicit statement that her synod did not believe the Ecumenical Patriarchate had grace, but the fact that it did not consent to do so demonstrated that the ROCA did hold the Church of Greece to have grace in 1934. (Incidentally, it says something interesting about the ecclesiological beliefs of Old Calendarists in 1934 that these Greeks wanted a Synod that was in communion with New Calendarists and those in communion with them to consecrate bishops to shepherd the Greek Old Calendarists! Obviously, they were not ‘Matthewites’.)

We have even more abundant proof of the early ROCA position in 1935 and thereafter.

“‘In August of 1935, the consecration of Archimandrite Ieronim, the former head of the Jerusalem Spiritual Mission, as Bishop of Detroit took place. The consecration was performed by Archbishop Vitaly [Maximenko of Jordanville], Archbishops Theodosi Tirskiy and Theodosi Synodski, representative of the Alexandrian Patriarchate in America, and Athenagoras, representative of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate and [future] Ecumenical Patriarch. In this same period, Archbishop Vitaly, at the request of the Antiochian Patriarchate, ordained the Syrian [Archimandrite Anthony] Bashir, the late head of the Syrian Church in America, a Bishop.’” [Vladimir Moss, The Orthodox Church at the Crossroads , Ch. IV “The Lifting of the Anathemas (1955-1970)”, The Orthodox Foundation of St. Michael, Guildford [U.K.], 1992; p. 118]

This was also the policy of the ROCA under Blessed Met. Anthony’s successor, Blessed Met. Anastassy (Gribanovsky) as was officially stated twice in 1961:

“In his address to the Third All-Emigration Council of the Russian Church Abroad in 1974, Archbishop Anthony of Geneva... [stated]:

‘Of interest,’ he said, ‘are two letters of our Hierarchical Synod addressed to the Greek Old Calendarists, copies of which, in their time were sent to the Greek Archdiocese of America and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

“First, of 27/9/61: ‘Our Church keeps the Old Calendar and considers the introduction of the new calendar a great mistake. Nevertheless, her policy was always to keep spiritual communion with the Orthodox Churches who accepted the new calendar as long as they celebrated Pascha according to the decision of the First Ecumenical Council. Our Church has never declared the Ecumenical Patriarchate or the Greek Archdiocese of North and South America to be schismatic and did not break spiritual communion with them.’”

“Secondly, of 3/10/61: ‘Our Church keeps the Old Calendar and considers the introduction of the new calendar to be a mistake. Nevertheless, according to the policies of Patriarch Tikhon of blessed memory, we never broke spiritual communion with the canonical Churches in which the new calendar had been introduced.’”

[Vladimir Moss, The Orthodox Church at the Crossroads , Ch. IV “The Lifting of the Anathemas (1955-1970)”, The Orthodox Foundation of St. Michael, Guildford [U.K.], 1992; p.119]

Archbishop Anthony further noted:

“Metropolitan Anastassy first allowed the new style in our Church for converts from heterodoxy. So the reposed [St.] Archbishop John [Maximovitch], considered by many as the righteous man and ascetic of our time, received into our West European diocese a group of Orthodox Dutchmen, who, using the new calendar, lived for twenty-two years in our Church -- no small period! In that period, there appeared some new calendarist Romanians in our Church. Archbishop John, not without the agreement of Met. Anastassy, proceeded to consecrate, together with a Romanian emigrй metropolitan living in Paris, the Romanian Theophilos -- a new calendarist -- to the episcopate, by which a beginning was made to the existence in our Church of new calendarist Romanian parishes. These parishes now submit in a satisfactory manner to our First Hierarch, who each year when he is in Europe serves in the Romanian Cathedral...

“Under Metropolitan Anastassy, there was received into our West European diocese a group of Orthodox Frenchmen, led by Protopriest E. Kovalevsky, a new calendarist. Metropolitan Anastassy himself was sympathetic for a long time to the advancement of Protopriest E. Kovalevsky to the episcopate, without, however, making the change of calendar a condition. Archbishop John, together with the new calendarist Bishop Theophilos, consecrated Kovalevsky as Bishop of Saint Denis. It was not our Church that expelled Bishop John (Protopriest Kovalevsky’s monastic name) from her bosom. He himself left our Church, which gave him the grace of episcopal service, for which he was judged and deprived of his rank.

“A part of the flock of this unworthy hierarch remained faithful to our Church and is now in the border of the West European diocese under the leadership of Archimandrite Ambrose, a Frenchman who himself willingly and gradually transferred his French parishes to the Old Calendar, which was the result of our patience and condescension towards them.”

[Vladimir Moss, The Orthodox Church at the Crossroads , Ch. IV “The Lifting of the Anathemas (1955-1970)”, The Orthodox Foundation of St. Michael, Guildford [U.K.], 1992; p.119-120]

Other instances could be noted.

This policy continued even up to the Lifting of the Anathemas on Dec. 7., 1965. At the time of the ‘Lifting of the Anathemas’, communion with New Calendarists was broken, although no instantaneous and direct statement on the presence of grace or lack thereof was made about this or that jurisdiction. However, that the Synod did consider the New Calendarists {now Ecumenists} and those in communion with them apostates became obvious soon thereafter by such occurrences as those which follow. The Synod and her First-Hierarch on separate occasions [e.g., 1 st Sorrowful Epistle of St. Met. Philaret and the ROCA Synodal Decree of September 15/28, 1971] stated that establishing intercommunion with Rome or becoming an organic member of the World Council of Churches {it requires recognizing the Church is divided and that the heretics are part of the Church} alienated one from the Orthodox Catholic unity and made one a part of that heresy. Furthermore, we can see this in the ROCA’s recognition of the Old Calendarist Greeks and aid in establishing their hierarchy in Greece, which involvement would only be lawful if the Greek New Calendarists were not part of the Church. Finally, we may observe that ROCA anathematized Ecumenism and those in communion with Ecumenists in 1983 and confirmed in 1987 once again that no communion was possible with Ecumenists. This anathema was received by all the canonical Orthodox hierarchs, i.e. the Florinites and other legitimate Old Calendarists of other countries.

In a letter on Synodal letterhead to Rev. Deacon John Abraham of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, dated Tuesday 3/16 August 1994, Bishop Hilarion of Manhattan, the then-deputy secretary of the Synod, recounts the historical course of the ROCA up to 1966:

Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky of blessed memory siaid [sic] that the introduction of the new calendar was an error, but not a heresy. Thus our church continued to concelebrate with new calendarist churches until the sixties, when their increased involvement in the ecumenical movement made it impossible for us to continue to remain in liturgical and prayerful uniity [sic] with them. In order to preserve and guard our flock from the insidious influence of ecumenism, we broke relations with them and continue this protective measure to this day.

In consequence of the above facts, it is quite obvious that the ROCA was never Matthewite, having an entirely different set of beliefs about what constitutes real apostasy and what only a bad choice or mistake. It was certainly an organization that no Matthewite could be in communion with or accept the sanctifying correction of his ordination without completely compromising his Matthewite beliefs. Now let us return to Matthewite’s next errors of their refusal to receive corrections to their ordinations and to unite with the Florinites, and their eventual break with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and repudiation of their corrected ordinations.

The Matthewites’ Sixth Error

When the Matthewite delegation came back to Greece, for the reason described below, the Matthewite Synod decided to disobey the injunction of the ROCA set forth in their decision to perform hierothesia over the Matthewite bishops. These two bishops were supposed to perform hierothesia on the other Matthewite bishops, and the bishops were to do it to all their clergy; but they refused! By doing this, the Matthewites kept the stigma on their bishops as being uncanonical, in that they were ordained in violation of the Apostolic Canons and other Holy Canons.

Witnessing the unholy condition of Bishop Matthew’s remains after the first uncovering, eventually led Metropolitan Kallistos to abandon the Matthewites and join the Florinites. He was received by Archbishop Auxentios [of the Florinites] as a canonical hierarch because his ordination had been corrected by ROCA. If no union occurred between Archbishop Auxentios and the Matthewites, it was because the Matthewites did not even apply, in addition to the fact that Kallistos and Epiphanios were not allowed to correct the rest of the Matthewite orders, as they agreed to do upon returning to Greece.

Unfortunately, the Matthewites rejected the corrections to their consecrations altogether and refused to perform the rite of hierothesia on the rest of their clergy for the following reason. Archbishop Andreas of the Matthewites, we have confirmed from witnesses, believed and stated that the ROCA had been outside the Church from 1924 to 1971. Then he said that ROCA had been in the Church again in 1971 when the ROCA bishops laid their hands upon the Matthewite bishops Kallistos and Epiphanios! He explained this by saying that ROCA was received back into the Church “by economia” via the hierothesia the two Matthewite bishops received from the ROCA! Then the ROCA was outside the Church again from 1976 onward, when the Matthewites broke communion with them.

Therefore, according to their belief, the Matthewites went to a Synod outside the Church in 1971 to obtain the gift of grace! All of this and the explanation above is logically incoherent and therefore unorthodox. Not only were they disobedient to the hierothesia, but they were also disobedient to the agreement to unite with the Florinites under Archbishop Auxentios. This again shows their deliberate desire to maintain schism among the Old Calendarists of Greece. At that time, the only indisputably Orthodox hierarchs in Greece were those of the Synod of Archbishop Auxentios, who were in communion with the Synod of St. Metropolitan Philaret, who consented to have the rite of hierothesia performed on the Matthewite bishops. The Matthewites had absolutely no justification in not seeking to heal this division among the Old Calendarists of Greece. By acting in this manner, they proved themselves to be not only the cause but also the maintainers of schism.

The Matthewites’ Seventh Error

On February 20, 1976, the Matthewites broke communion with the ROCA. Five years earlier, they had entered into communion with the ROCA and received hierothesia at their hands. For five years they remained in communion with ROCA even after rejecting their hierothesia immediately after they received it! Their reasons for rejecting communion with ROCA were the unruly actions of a ROCA bishop in Europe, Anthony of Geneva. Somehow, the Matthewites concluded that the disobedience or unruliness of a bishop of another Synod, although that Synod maintains an Orthodox confession, affects them to such a degree that they have to sever communion from the whole Synod. By doing this, the Matthewites re-established their exclusive characteristic of being in communion with no one, neither the ROCA (who had a true confessor as their leader, the blessed Saint Metropolitan Philaret, who would later issue an anathema with his Synod in 1983 against the heresy of Ecumenism), nor the GOC, who had Archbishop Auxentios as their leader. Archbishop Auxentios and his Synod were bishops ordained by the ROCA in the early 1960s and officially in full communion with them since 1969. They were bishops who were completely Orthodox in their confession of faith. Therefore, from a canonical point of view, the Matthewites were sinning against the unity of the Church by separating themselves from both these truly Orthodox Synods.

The Matthewites’ Eighth Error

In the March 1984 issue of the Herald of the True Orthodox (pp. 102-103) officially and publicly renounced the correction of their ordinations by the ROCA bishops. By doing this, they reaffirmed their old uncorrected/unordained status according to the 62nd Apostolic Canon.

APOSTOLIC CANON LXII

“If any Clergyman, for fear of any human being, whether the latter be a Jew or a Greek or a heretic, should deny the name of Christ, let him be cast out and rejected; or if he deny the name of clergyman, let him be deposed; and if he repent, let him be accepted as a layman.”

(c. X of the 1st; cc. I, II, III, XII of Ancyra; of Peter the Archbishop X, XIV; Letter of Athanasius to Ruf.; c. XLV of Basil; c. II of Theophilus.)

Interpretation

“The present Canon commands that if any clergyman, out of fear of human punishment, at the hands, that is to say, of Jews, or of Greeks [an ancient term for pagans], or of heretics, should deny the name of Christ, let him be deposed from his clerical office, after he has repented, but also let him additionally be cast out of the Church and excluded therefrom, and let him stand in the class of penitents. But if on account of fear of any human being he should disavow the name of his clerical office, which is the same as saying if he should deny that he is such or such a clergymen, or an anagnost, that is to say, or a psalt, or anything else, let him be deposed only from his clerical office. For it be but just that he should be deprived of that which he has denied and disowned. But after such a one has repented, let him be allowed to accept communion along with the faithful as a layman, or, in other words, let him be allowed to join in prayer with the faithful.”

After we receive the Holy Spirit in baptism, if we renounce that baptism or repudiate it, then we lose the Holy Spirit. If we renounce or repudiate Christ, Orthodoxy as a whole, an Orthodox dogma, or even a true Orthodox bishop, we renounce our Faith.

When the Matthewite Metropolitan Kyrikos of Mesogaia wrote in “The Encyclical to the Russian Flock, 1999,” that “the act of hierothesias never had any essential effect on the Apostolic Succession of our archpriests,” he contributed one of many examples where the Matthewites have repudiated the correction which the ROCA most graciously gave them in 1971.

The Matthewites, at least since March of 1984, have repudiated their hierothesia, laying on of hands, and have renounced it until this very day in writing, saying that it was of no effect, or that it was just a prayer of forgiveness, or that it was just a formality.

Having now renounced the ROCA’s corrections of their uncanonical ordinations and broken off from the Church into total isolation once again, the Matthewites also returned to their old error of saying that the New Menaionists and those in communion with them were without grace since 1924. They are thus doubly self-condemned, since: (1) not only did Matthew receive his ordination from those who were New Menaionists and were never received into the Church from outside of Her, but also (2) now the Matthewites themselves had been in communion for five years with the ROCA Synod which had maintained communion with the New Menaionists until December of 1965, and even permitted the use of the New Menaion in some parishes up until a few years ago, and had never ‘repented’ of this or been ‘received back’ into the Church from ‘outside’ of Her.

Recapitulation

In this document we have tried to present a factual history of a schismatic group which has confused many people over the years of its existence. Many have understood the subtle errors which separate the Matthewite schism from Orthodoxy, and have left it. Some have yet to understand completely why they should have no association with this schismatic body. The following facts are undeniable:

1. In 1937, the newly-ordained Vicar-Bishop Matthew uncanonically broke communion from his Synod of Orthodox bishops because they held a personal opinion that was not absolutely identical to his own. The canons forbid such an action, which they define as schism.

2. In 1948, Bishop Matthew, in disobedience to the Apostolic Canons and the holy Ecumenical Councils and without justification, ‘ordained’ a bishop by himself.

3. In 1950, the Matthewites perpetuated their schism from the Church by not reconciling with Metropolitan Chrysostom when he complied with all of Bishop Matthew’s requirements in a spirit of forgiveness for Church unity. Metropolitan Chrysostom knew that if Matthew perpetuated his schism, countless souls would be lost throughout the coming decades.

4. In 1971, the bishops of the Matthewites, by receiving hierothesia to correct their uncanonical ordinations at the hands of the ROCA, acknowledged that Bishop Matthew’s ordinations were indeed unlawful and graceless.

5. In 1976, the bishops of the Matthewites perpetuated their schism from the Church by not only refusing to enter into communion with the GOC under Archbishop Auxentios, but also by unlawfully breaking communion with the ROCA, under St. Metropolitan Philaret, and created another schism.

6. By March of 1984 the Matthewites had also published a repudiation and renunciation of their 1971 hierothesia. Thus they reverted back to their 1948 status of being unordained ‘clergy’.

The name Matthewites, because of their schism, has become synonymous with extremism and fanaticism on the right. We are always warned in Orthodoxy to maintain true doctrines with canonical order, not falling off the narrow road to the left or to the right. In our times, the left leads to a mentality similar to the ecumenists’, whether New Menaionist or Cyprianite. The dangers on the right lead to a mentality similar to the Matthewites’.

It is required of us Orthodox Christians to be united with bishops who are not only Orthodox, but also canonical.

In the love of Christ,

+Bishop Gregory

Epilogue

Some Comments on the Innovative Teachings of V-Bp. Matthew
in Comparison with the Historical Course of the Church

Contrary to the way of the Fathers, V-Bp. Matthew treated an innovation that had never been condemned as schismatic by the Apostles or Ecumenical Councils or even individual Fathers, as an actual schism from the Church. Throughout the canons and the lives of the Fathers of the Church, we find no one who has ever done or ordered this.

Rather, it is only when a Church member consciously and obstinately opposes or rebels against the whole Church’s decree that he severs himself from Her, whether he rebels against what She has already decreed or what She presently decrees, in agreement with Her past decrees, appointments, and consistent teaching. While the individual statements of hierarchs are not infallible reflections God’s will, Christ’s express will is manifested undeniably through the single action and decree of His Body, animated by the Holy Spirit, and one must either acknowledge Christ as one’s Lord and submit, striving to conform to His will, or one will have chosen to disavow service to Him and be a renegade against Christ. Such renegades have broken with Christ and, being alien to the Him, are deprived of Divine grace. The Church cuts no one off from Herself, but rather they cut themselves off and the Church is only left to acknowledge this with sorrow.

Throughout the history of the Church, no Father ever adopted the course of Vicar-Bishop Matthew, that is, condemning an innovation in regard to the Ecclesiastical Calendar as a real schism without the explicit condemnation of that innovation by the whole Church.

In the 2nd century, the Asiatic churches innovated in persistently observing Pascha on the same date as legal Passover (the 14 th eve since the new moon beginning nearest to the spring equinox), rather than the Sunday following it as practiced since Apostolic times. In Orthodox fashion, St. Irenaeus of Lyons and the rest of the Church admonished the innovators but did not break communion or consider them alien to the Church, even rebuking Pope Victor of Rome for attempting to cast them out of the Church (cf. Eusebius, Church History , Bk. 5, Ch. 23-25). They rightly understood that, although celebrating Pascha before the spring equinox and hence twice a year was forbidden by the 7 th Apostolic Canon, the celebration concurrent with Passover, if the Jews celebrated after the equinox, had not yet been prohibited by the Church and so these Fathers continued to regard the Asiatics as of the Church, albeit in error in that regard. Then, following the universally approved decisions of Nicaea (325 A.D.; “Decree”, cf. Theodoret, Church History , Bk. 1, Ch. 8-9), Antioch (341 A.D.; 1 st Canon), and the subsequent Ecumenical Councils, all those who obstinately persisted in celebrating at the same time as the Jewish Passover occurred were considered alien to the Church; for now this practice had been condemned by the Church.

At Nicaea, it was also agreed that the Asiatic churches should follow what was then in use at Rome and Alexandria, and so all would celebrate Pascha at the same time; however, differences and defects in calculations and the issuance of revised systems and tables led to Pascha being celebrated at different times in different places quite frequently until the 8th century or so. For example, sometimes those in one part of Gaul would celebrate at one time, those in Rome at another, those in Spain at another time, those in Alexandria at a different time, and those in the British Isles at their own time, because each party held that its was the astronomically correct set of Paschal tables intended by Nicaea. Yet they continued to recognize each other and were in communion, because they understood that all were striving to be faithful to the Church’s decision, and arrive at a single accurate system, and as yet the Church had not explicitly decreed for one system and against another. Consequently, in the 8th century in the British Isles, for instance, neither side considered the other outside the Church when the English adopted a recent, more correct Paschalion cycle from Rome and the East, but the Irish persisted in keeping the one given them by St. Patrick and formulated as the “Orthodox Pascha” by St. Anatolios of Laodicaea. Ultimately, all voluntarily came to follow one Paschalion as intended by the Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea (325 A.D.), but, as no ecumenically-received Synod had decreed the acceptance of a certain Paschalion system, no matter how often they celebrated on different dates, everyone recognized and remained in communion with everyone else.

It has been the same with the case of innovation in regard to the Menaion, specifically the feast of the Savior’s Nativity. Until the 5th century, no common date existed for it in the Church and some local Churches, like Alexandria and Antioch, had not even celebrated it not that long before then. Rome celebrated Nativity as a distinct feast day on the 25 of December from Theophany (January 6), but Constantinople had celebrated it together with Theophany on Jan. 6 th until St. Gregory the Theologian’s time as Patriarch of Constantinople. At Antioch it was celebrated on the 6 th of January until St. John Chrysostom’s time, and it was not until St. Juvenal’s time that Jerusalem switched over to the 25 th of December, which was the date of the Nativity found in ancient Roman census records. Despite differences in festal dates, all remained in communion and without too much fuss, because there was no ecclesiastical decree that had to be obeyed as yet.

Similarly, ancient menalogians from different parts of Serbia, Bulgaria, and Russia indicate that even into the 15th century the majority of the saints were not celebrated on the same calendar dates, but again, regardless of this differing over dates, communion was maintained and no charges of schism were lodged because the Church had never decreed anything about this.

In the 16th century the Pope decreed that the Church menaion calendar had to be advanced 10 days and Her Paschalion altered as the Paschalion, supposedly, had fallen behind where the Church had intended it to remain in its cycles. Because the Papacy no longer accepted the Apostolic Canons, it disregarded and violated the 7 th Apostolic Canon’s prohibition of celebrating before the vernal equinox and Nicaea’s prohibition of the Paschal celebration coinciding with the Jew’s Passover. The Pope sent letters to the Orthodox requesting they adopt his improvement of the Church Calendar. The Orthodox found it foolish and uncanonical and so rejected it; furthermore, in 1583 the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Alexandria issued a series of anathemas against those who accepted the Papal errors (Filioque, Purgatory, Papal Monarchy, etc.), the latest of which was the innovation in regard to the Ecclesiastical Paschalion and Menaion cycles. This innovation plainly showed the Pope’s belief that he was superior to the Apostles and Councils, in as much as he could void and trample upon their decrees upon his whim, and this innovation was, therefore, impious and Papal-minded to accept. The 8 th anathema they issued anathematized those who adopt “the newly-invented Paschalion and new Menaion...of the Pope” as disdainers of the traditions of the Ecumenical Synods. Subsequently, two more Synods (Constantinople 1587 and 1593) were held by these Patriarchs along with the Antiochian Patriarch which assembled, as their decree says, “for the condemnation of the new calendar - that is the error of Latins in regard to Pascha”, condemned the adoption of the Gregorian Paschalion, and also accepted the anathemas of their 1583 Synod.

These are the only Synods in the history of the Church to make any reference to the menaion in their canons. They have been called Pan-Orthodox among the Greek local Churches, but this is not strictly correct since none of the Serbian, Russian, or other Slavic local Churches were represented there and we have no subsequent record of the reception of any of these Synods as Ecumenical by those Churches. The fact that they were not recognized as such by later Russian hierarchs casts doubt on the ecumenical character of the 8 th anathema of the 1583 Synod. But whether these Synods are considered Ecumenical or not, one ought to bear in mind the following: They declared anathema those who adopt either the Gregorian Menaion cycle along with the Gregorian Paschalion or the Gregorian Paschalion by itself; however, they legislated nothing concerning those who adopt the Gregorian Menaion cycle alone, since this innovation violated no previous decree of the Church. It was only the adoption of the Gregorian Paschalion, for the sake of which the Pope also needed to change the Menaion cycle, that was a recognition that the Pope is superior in authority to the Holy Apostles, Fathers, and Ecumenical Councils.

Advancing now to the 20th century, we wish to bring the consequences of the above information to bear on our analysis of V-Bp. Matthew’s schism or parasynagogue. In no way can the Church support his position that the adoption of the New Menaion caused a schism and deprived the adopting local Churches and those in communion with them of Divine grace. This is obvious, given, as we have shown above, that no innovation with regard to the Church’s festal calendar has ever been considered a real schism by the Fathers unless there has been a pronouncement against it by the Church, whether in the past or contemporary with the innovation. We cannot look to the Synods of the 16th century for an ecclesiastical condemnation of what the New Calendarists did in 1924 as schismatic, rather than simply unlawful, whether because the Synods of the 16th century were not actually Ecumenical or wholly and ecumenically-received by the Church, or because the adoption solely of the new Gregorian Menaion cycle by the hierarchs of Greece in 1924 does not in itself fulfil the conditions under which the 8 th anathema of the 1583 Synod may be applied. The only way that this innovation would prove a real schism from the Church rather than simply a division in the Church’s liturgical-calendrical unity, is if it were to be condemned by an Ecumenical Synod or one that was everywhere received by the Church. The unrighteousness of the calendar innovation of 1923-24 was certainly manifested in that it was unnecessarily and unilaterally introduced by only one local part of the Church against the expressed wishes of other members of the Body of Christ, and that for the sake of improved relations with those alien to the Body, but, given the canonical-historical circumstances, however wrong, the calendar change by itself can not be regarded as a falling away and schism from the Church.

Until the whole Church condemned such an innovation as schismatic, the most that one could do is refrain from communicating with the innovators so as not to participate in their unlawful act. We have many examples of this course being taken by the Fathers in Church History: St. John Chrysostom and his followers refrained from communion with the unlawfully imposed Patriarch of Constantinople, St. Arsakios; St. Theodore the Studite and his followers refrained from communion with St. Patriarch Nicephoros because he was allowing the deposed and lawless priest Joseph to serve in Hagia Sophia and under Imperial coercion even anathematized those who did not accept the ‘economy’. Other examples could be mentioned, but in none of them will we find that the Fathers taught that the innovating side was graceless, rather than simply guilty of a grave sin and possibly worse before God. So, this path, the path of Blessed Met. Chrysostom of Florina, was certainly permissable to take after 1924 until an Ecumenical Synod condemned the actual innovation of the New or Papal Menaionists and the innovators either repented or were severed from the Church.

However, since the entering into communion with universally anathematized Rome on December 7, 1965 by the New Calendarists and those in communion with them, a future condemnation of the New-Calendarism, or more precisely New Menaionism, by the Church is superfluous. They have all united themselves to the heresies of Rome, the Protestant World Council of Churches, and the Monophysites, and others and have become a part of their heresies thereby, and consequently have departed from the Church and Divine grace.

Thoughts on the Personality of V-Bp. Matthew
and the Matthewite Schism

The Matthewite schism, as any schism, is a major tragedy.

This ‘church,’ for the benefit of the Church, should not have existed, had it not been for the sins of men. Matthewite characteristics are identical to all those cut off from the Church. Their intolerance, their continuous attacks on those who are in the Church, their erratic and illogical behavior, their disregard for Church laws, and their elitist exclusiveness as the only true Orthodox and their idolizing of a leader betokens a group that is cut off from Christ or cultish. This can be primarily traced back to their founder, Vicar-Bishop Matthew, whom they style “The Holy Father” and consider infallible, something found only in Papism.

Knowing the history of a man can always help us understand him more. If one goes to the Holy Mountain, one can find disciples from the line of Vicar-Bishop Matthew. When Vicar-Bishop Matthew was on the Holy Mountain, as a priest, he had a disciple named Fr. Damaskinos, who in turn had a synodia, which now survives in Katounakia, and is led by Fr. Augustine. Father Augustine would relate how his elder, Fr. Damaskinos, explained how the elder Matthew left Mount Athos. This is the story:

When Fr. Matthew was asked to leave Mount Athos for Athens to help in the sacred struggle of the Old Calendarists, he was tormented by this decision, as any Athonite monk would be. The cause was good, but he was an Athonite monk, and if this wasn’t the will of God, he could perish. At length he went to his spiritual father, and asked his advice. His spiritual father, in a gentle way, told him ‘No’, saying, “My son, you have made progress by your monastic life here. You are a priest, and have a disciple, and are able to advance more in the spiritual life. You are a simple man, though, and the world is very complicated. If you leave the Holy Mountain, you will be tricked, and you will fall. Do not leave.”

Later, the priest-monk Matthew made his decision, and disobeyed his spiritual father and left Mount Athos for Athens. Any man who wishes can go to the Holy Mountain and check this out themselves from the disciples of Fr. (later-Vicar-Bishop) Matthew. They are still alive. Like so many who have left the Holy Mountain in disobedience, this tells us much about the character of Vicar-Bishop Matthew. He did not believe the monastic axiom: “Obedience is life. Disobedience is death.”

Another telling story about Vicar-Bishop Matthew when he was on the Holy Mountain is recounted by the Athonite monks as follows:

One time, when he was looking out to sea from Athos, he noticed a ship about four or five miles off shore, and said something similar to this, “Brethren, do not look. There are women on that ship!” Every time he said this, he would run away and hide. A gifted spiritual elder who heard him say this aloud one time said to the monks near him, “See that monk? He is going to die in the midst of women!” It was not long after that Bishop Matthew left the Holy Mountain, and eventually took up his residence in the convent at Keratea where he eventually died. There are approximately 400 nuns at Keratea.

These stories, and what we know of Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s actions, convince me that Vicar-Bishop Matthew was indeed a man of ‘zeal’ for Orthodoxy, yet it was a zeal without obedience, without knowledge, and without discernment. This is a formula which ultimately leads to prelest and spiritual disaster.

As a bishop, his actions prove that he was either ill-advised, or deceived, or both.

How could he believe that the 1935 encyclical (his interpretation that is) was the absolute last word in any decision about the state of Orthodoxy for the entire world? Does this not show his simplicity and lack of knowledge in the area of theology and even Church History?

How could he dare separate from six bishops, his whole Synod, who were his elders in both the priesthood and education without even a Synodal decision? Does this not show his haste to judge and does it not place upon him the stigma of being the first to cause a schism in the modern Greek Old Calendar movement?

How could he, by himself, be persuaded to ordain a bishop in direct violation of the first canon of the Church? He was hemiplegic from a stroke, which left him paralyzed on the right side of his body and the abbess Mariam held his immobile right hand on the unfortunate candidate’s head. One may ask, was the Abbess Mariam the co-consecratress? How could he think he was the last bishop on earth? If a bishop imagines he is persecuted, does that mean he is in fact persecuted and can then proceed to trample upon Church laws and create his own Synod and/or Church?

How could he reject the overture by Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina to heal the schism because of the pressure from those around him? Does this not prove that the Abbess Mariam was controlling him? This was confirmed by many witnesses who left the Matthewites and said that the whole situation was schismatic and becoming a sort of a cult, and also that the Matthewite center (at Keratea) was solely governed by the Abbess Mariam as with an iron fist. She was the ruling tyrannical authority in everything including ordering the monks from the nearby monastery over and above the Abbot.

In my opinion, there is no reason for this Matthewite schism to exist other than pride on the part of those who broke away. The fact that over ninety percent of the Old Calendar clergy and people never recognized them as their leaders should tell them that perhaps there is something wrong with them. The fact that over ninety percent of the Old Calendar clergy and people preferred not to have any bishops at all, rather than be under the Matthewite bishops, should tell them something. (The Florinites, when they needed the episcopacy restored, besought the Russian Church Abroad to fulfill this need.)

It is abundantly clear that Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s spirit lived on when, in 1971, they sought to correct their uncanonical ordinations by him from the ROCA, and then immediately disobeyed all of the ROCA orders connected with this hierothesia.

Isn’t it also clear that Vicar-Bishop Matthew’s spirit lives on in their Archbishop Andreas, when he said that grace was given to the ROCA in 1971 by the Matthewites when two Matthewite bishops received the laying on of hands from the ROCA? Therefore, one must conclude that the Matthewites had decided to go to the ‘graceless ROCA’ to have them lay their hands upon the Matthewites’ uncanonically-ordained ‘grace-filled’ bishops, and thus give grace back to the ‘graceless’ ROCA!!

How could this absurd private opinion of the Matthewite Archbishop Andreas, of how grace travels, be acceptable to the Matthewites with no consequence, yet the patristic opinions of the blessed Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina (which were like those of the Blessed First-Hierarchs of ROCA and the rest of the Orthodox Church) warrant a schism on the part of Matthew, the Vicar-Bishop of Bresthena?

It is frightening to see the Matthewites brazenly violate the laws of Orthodoxy, and yet maintain they are the pillars of Orthodoxy, the last remnant of the Church on earth and everybody else is outside it.

It is frightening to see the Matthewites maintain that essentially the whole Church went into schism in the 1920’s, and that their absurd remarks necessitate the conclusion that the Church ceased to exist at that time.

It is frightening to see the Matthewites repudiate and renounce their hierothesia and still maintain that they have canonical orders.

It is frightening to see the Matthewites pronounce their depositions and excommunications on clergy who joined the Florinites, as if the Florinites are just as bad as the New Calendar Ecumenists.

It is frightening to see the Matthewites hurl anathemas at people who are not even in their ‘Church’, and who have done nothing wrong, (e.g., Mr. Leonid Ouspensky and Dr. George Gabriel) for their opinions on iconography.

It is frightening to see how lately these Matthewite schismatics have divided into three separate groups, each calling themselves the True Church and each anathematizing each other over their semantic differences.

The conclusion I must reach in viewing the Matthewites is that their opinions, statements, and actions are indicative of prelest, extremism, zeal without discernment, canonical chaos, and schism, and, finally, that they are outside the Church and no Orthodox Christian has any business joining, supporting, or defending them.

In Christ,

+Archbishop Gregory


Archbishop Gregory
Dormition Skete
P.O. Box 3177
Buena Vista, CO 81211-3177
USA
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