1 NOVEMBER 2008 Vol. 73 No $1.00 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Convenes Synaxis of the Heads of All Orthodox Churches N. MANGINAS Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with the heads of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches and other participating hierarchs. Introduction to the Synaxis: The Communion of the Orthodox Churches by Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald The Orthodox Church today is a communion of 14 autocephalous Churches. These autocephalous churches are themselves communions of local diocesan churches headed by a local bishop. These churches are bound together by the mutual profession of the Apostolic Faith, a mutual recognition of ministries and a mutual recognition of sacramental life. The communion and unity of these churches is expressed in and through the Eucharist. The unity of the Church and the churches is visibly expressed in the celebration of the Eucharist. Each autocephalous church has its own integrity. Each is free to govern its own internal life primarily through a Synod of Bishops at which the Patriarch or Archbishop presides. Each autocephalous church has the right to select its primatial bishop and all other bishops without reference to any other authority. When a new primatial bishop (Greek; Prokathemenos) is elected, he normally informs the other primates. The new primate name is then listed in the commemorations (diptychs) of the other churches. Each autocephalous church has its own historical characteristics and liturgical peculiarities. Often, it has its own calendar of saints. Each autocephalous church is geographically situated. It is an autocephalous church in and of a particular region. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is the first of the autocephalous churches in accordance with canonical tradition and historical practice. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is recognized as the first bishop of the Orthodox Church. He has special responsibility for strengthening the unity of the Church through the coordination of PanOrthodox witness and activity. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Convenes Synaxis The historic meeting of the 14 Orthodox primates or their representatives at the Ecumenical Patriarchate on October 10-12, 2008 was a profound expression of the unity in diversity of the Orthodox Church. In addition to the Heads of Churches, about fifty other bishops participated in the deliberations. The meeting bore witness to the interrelated principles of primacy and conciliarity. While the deliberations, conducted simultaneously in Greek, English and Russian, were significant, it was the celebration of the Eucharist by the primates on October 12 that clearly bore witness to their unity in Christ. The primates gathered together at the Divine Liturgy in the historic Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George the Trophy-bearer with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presiding. This was the fifth time that such a Synaxis was held at the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Previous meetings were held in Constantinople in 1990, on Patmos in 1995, and in Jerusalem and Constantinople in At the beginning of his Address to the other Heads of Churches, Patriarch Bartholmew pointed to the character of these synaxes. He says: Of course, these occasions for Synaxis do not comprise an institution by canonical standards. As known, the sacred Canons of our Church assign the supreme responsibility and authority for decisions on ecclesiastical matters to the Synodical system, wherein all hierarchs in active ministry participate either in page 6
2 2 A RCHDIOCESE N E WS NOVEMBER 2008 Archdiocesan Council Holds First Session of New Term CHICAGO A new Archdiocesan Council for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America held its first meeting of the two-year term on Nov. 6-7 at the Chicago Hilton. The members of the new Council will serve for a two-year term expiring at the next Clergy-Laity Congress in The Council consists of 128 members of elected and appointed clergy and laity from across the United States. The work of the full Archdiocesan Council began in the morning of Nov. 7. As customary, the opening session convened jointly with the members of the newly appointed National Philoptochos Board. Archbishop Demetrios offered a prayer service and he then proceeded with his introductory address to this joint body stating that it was of vital importance to deal seriously and act on the theme of the last Clergy-Laity Congress Gather My People to My Home and intensify efforts to minister to the un-churched and the youth. His Eminence acknowledged there are some things blocking these efforts related to financial set-backs and pressures but insisted they should not hinder the work of the Gospel. He added that in recent days the word power dominates the political and financial realms and seems to be defining the lives of people, but we as Orthodox Christians have God s power to turn to and he urged all to use this high voltage power properly. Archbishop Demetrios also acknowledged the unique and special conditions in the country and the world, conditions of war and conflict, strain and anguish created by the worldwide financial crisis and the many ways they affect the faithful and our Church. ARCHDIOCESE COUNCIL AFFIRMATION The affirmation of office for the members of the Archdiocesan Council followed with the nominations and election of the executive board and officers of the Council. The elected members and officers are: Michael Jaharis, vice-president; Nicholas Bouras, treasurer; Catherine Bouffides-Walsh, secretary; and as members George Behrakis, Peter Kikis, Anthony Stefanis, Elenie Huszagh, George Matthews and George Vourvoulias. The work of the Council continued with the presentation and discussion of issues concerning the life and the ministry of the Church as presented by the various Archdiocesan Council committees, which had met on Thursday, Nov. 6. These committees were Administration, Communications, Greek Education, Finance and Stewardship, Religious Education and Hellenic College, Marriage and Family, Outreach and Evangelism, Youth, Philanthropy and Technology. In their Finance Committee Report, Chairman George Vourvourlias and Executive Director of Administration Jerry Dimitriou addressed the impact of PhotosORTHODOX OBSERVER Archdiocesan Council members assembled at the Hilton Chicago hotel for their first meeting of the session. the worldwide economic crisis on the Archdiocese and also commented on the impact of the recent lawsuit settlements on the Archdiocese s budget. He stated that he has requested that Metropolises and Departments look towards cutting approximately percent from the 2009 budget as well as be mindful of the economic situation and find ways to continue their work while keeping costs down. Mr. Dimitriou also reported that this difficult financial news comes after such significant progress in 2007 by the Archdiocese in reducing its debt and breaking records in contributions. Mr. Vourvoulias stated that ways of raising additional funds without burdening the parishes or cutting ministries would be studied. Archbishop Demetrios, remarking on the situation, said that while the financial situation is serious This cannot interfere with our function. and asked for the full support of the new Council. NATIONAL PHILOPTOCHOS OFFICERS At the beginning of the National Philoptochos Board meeting, Archbishop Demetrios announced the appointment of Aphrodite Skeadas from Greenwich, Conn., as the new National Philoptochos President for the two-year term Mrs. Skeadas accepted the appointment and the charge of the Archbishop and set as her primary goals a membership increase and an active embrace of the younger generation. Archbishop Demetrios also appointed the following women as Executive Board members, Arlene Siavelis (1st Vice President), Maria Stavropoulos (2nd Vice President), Kathy Gabriel (3rd Vice President), Elaine Cladis (Secretary), Joanne Kakoyiannis (Treasurer), and Martha Stefanidakis (Assistant Treasurer). EDITOR IN CHIEF Jim Golding (Chryssoulis) GREEK SECTION EDITOR Eleftherios Pissalidis USPS ISSN Published monthly except combined issue in July-August by the Greek Ortho dox Archdiocese of America. Editorial and Business Office: 8 East 79th Street, New York, NY TEL.: (212) FAX (212) PRODUCTION & ADVERTISING Eleftherios Pissalidis GRAPHIC ARTIST Abel Montoya ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT Soula Podaras BUSINESS MANAGER Marissa Costidis CONTRIBUTING CORRESPONDENT & PHOTOGRAPHER: Nicholas Manginas Archbishop Demetrios conducts the affirmation ceremony for the new National Philoptochos Board. Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulis speaks with Archbishop Demetrios during a break in the council session. Mr. Giannoulis was involved with President-elect Barrack Obama s meeting with his economic advisors that was about to take place across the hall from the Archdiocesan Council s meeting room. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and at additional mailing offices. The Orthodox Observer is produced entirely in-house. Past issues can be found on the Internet, at: Articles do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America which are expressed in official statements so labeled. Subscription rates are $12 per year. Canada $ Overseas Air Mail, $55.00 per year. $1.50 per copy. Subscriptions for the membership of the Greek Orthodox Church in America are paid through their contribution to the Archdiocese. Of this contribution, $5.00 is forwarded to the Orthodox Observer. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: ORTHODOX OBSERVER, 8 East 79th Street, New York, NY Aphrodite Skeadas with His Eminence.
3 NOVEMBER 2008 Archiepiscopal Message THANKSGIVING ENCYCLICAL I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30 Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Thanksgiving is an essential expression of our worship and prayer as Orthodox Christians. When we gather in our parishes and when we direct our minds and hearts toward God seeking His guidance, we offer our deepest gratitude to Him for His love and the gift of salvation. We do this through praise of His greatness, through words and exclamations of honor that magnify His glory, and through actions of respect, which show the reverent state of our hearts. In fulfilling the divine call to live in holiness, thanksgiving becomes a visible witness of God s indwelling power and presence. Our hearts are filled with gratitude because our souls, our minds, indeed, all of our being is aware of and committed to the will of God. Our complete faith in His wisdom and in the knowledge of the truth gives us an experience and perspective of life that accentuates the blessings and the hope of salvation. We are grateful for what was, what is, and what will come because we know that our lives are in the hands of our Creator. This assurance that comes from faith is reflected in thanksgiving, in all moments of our earthly lives. While we all encounter moments of difficulty or even times of crisis in our lives; as people of faith, our response is not one of despair, hopelessness, or sorrow. Rather, we face the challenges of life by placing our complete trust in God, by acknowledging His love for us, and by magnifying Him with thanksgiving, to paraphrase the Psalmist quoted above. We are reminded of this and of the deeper, spiritual relevance of thanksgiving as we celebrate a very traditional and beloved holiday of our great American nation, Thanksgiving Day. On this day people from across the land gather with family and friends in a spirit of love and fellowship, sharing in life and happiness, and offering thanks to God for His blessings and innumerable gifts. Many will show their gratitude by reaching out to those in need through offering gifts of food or by serving a meal. These are very beautiful expressions of love and gratitude which are entirely consistent with our identity as Orthodox Christians, expressions which this wonderful holiday emphasizes so clearly. On this Thanksgiving Day, it is my fervent prayer that the blessings of our Lord be upon all of you as you gather in love and fellowship to offer gratitude to God for all that we have as Orthodox Christians, who are blessed to live in the United States of America. May His infinite love and perfect peace be with you on this day and always as we praise His most magnificent name and as we come together to give thanks for His abundant blessings. With paternal love in Christ, Archbishop Demetrios of America ARCHDIOCESE NEWS D. PANAGOS Rabbi Arthur Schneier receives the Athenagoras Human Rights Award from Archbishop Demerios and the Order of St. Andrew s National Commander Dr. Anthony Limberakis at the Archons Oct. 25 banquet. Full coverage on Page 12 Archdiocese Represented at UN NGO Conference The Archdiocese s NGO representative at the UN, Lila Prounis, attended the Department of Public Information s 61st annual conference in Paris at UNESCO headquarters held Sept Mrs. Prounis and her husband, Theodore, were part of the workshop committee that organized mid-day sessions on Human Rights. Among the workshops was one on Our Children: Their Rights and Our Nameday honor CLERGY UPDATE Assignments Fr. John Angel Transfiguration of Christ Church, Corona, N.Y. 10/01/08 Fr. Agapitos Luben Chunov St. Barbara Church, New York, 10/01/08 Fr. Constantine Combitsis St. Gerasimos, New York 10/01/08 Fr. John Maheras St. George Church, Pittsfield, Mass. 10/01/08 Fr. Constantine Makrinos St. George, Ocean City, Md. 10/01/08 Fr. Mario Giannopoulos Transfiguration, Ogden, Utah 10/16/08 Fr. Anastasios Pourakis St. Demetrios Cathedral, Astoria, N.Y. 10/16/08 Fr. Demetrios N. Calogredes Assumption, Port Jefferson, N.Y. 11/01/08 Fr. Achilles Karathanos Sts. Constantine & Helen, Swansea, Ill. 11/01/08 Fr. Demetrios Kehagias Kimisis Tis Theotokou, Island Park, N.Y. 11/01/08 V. Rev. Fr. Nektarios Papazafeiropoulos St. Nicholas Church, West Babylon, N.Y. 11/01/08 Future The Role of Youth in Human Rights Education, sponsored by the Smile of the Child and The International Organization for Migration- two organizations from Greece. The Conference reaffirmed Human Rights for All: Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights signed in Paris in More than 2,000 NGO s from 90 countries attended. Appointments Fr. Constantine Lazarakis as youth director of the Direct Archdiocesan District 10/01/08 Receptions V. Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Papazafeiropoulos/Oct. 20, 2008 (from the Church of Greece, Metropolis of Servion and Kozanis) Releases Fr. Dumitru Macaila to the Patriarchate of Romania 10/01/08 Retired Priests V. Rev. Archimandrite Vasilios Penteridis 10/01/08 Suspended Fr. Paul Keriotis 09/19/08 Suspension Rescinded Fr. John Katsoulis 12/13/07 D. PANAGOS Many faithful turned out to honor Archbishop Demetrios for his name day Oct. 26 at an Archonsponsored reception at the Archdiocesan Cathedral Center in Manhattan. Archdiocese Settles Dallas Lawsuit 3 NEW YORK The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America announced that it has reached an agreement to settle claims brought by five Texas plaintiffs against the Archdiocese and Holy Trinity Church of Dallas, Texas. The plaintiffs claims in this case relate to acts of sexual misconduct that were alleged to have been committed in the 1980s by Nicholas Katinas, former pastor of Holy Trinity. The settlement of this litigation was approved by the Archdiocese Executive Committee and made in order to avoid prolonged litigation and to promote healing for those affected by this tragedy. By agreement of the plaintiffs and the Archdiocese and Holy Trinity Church, the amount of the settlement will remain confidential, which is a common practice in this type of settlement. The terms of the settlement do not release Mr. Katinas, who has been defrocked, from liability. The Archdiocese and Holy Trinity Church had no knowledge of Mr. Katinas wrongdoing prior to a complaint made to the Archdiocesan Chancellor s Office in late 2005, which stemmed from alleged misconduct by Katinas in the 1970s. The case was handled according to the protocols laid out in the Archdiocesan clergy misconduct policy. Katinas was suspended from all priestly functions after a prompt investigation of the charges, which found grounds to believe that very serious acts of misconduct had taken place. At the recommendation of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has defrocked Katinas. The Archdiocese acknowledges that Katinas actions involve a most grave and tragic kind of misconduct, the abuse of children, and deeply regrets any harm that may have been caused to the people affected by Katinas actions. We continue to pray for the healing of the five plaintiffs and to all others involved in this painful matter. Ionian Village Accepting Staff Applications Now Ionian Village, the travel abroad camping program of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, is now accepting volunteer staff applications for the summer of Ionian Village staff members play an important role in the spiritual, cultural and social development of Orthodox teenagers from across the USA, and their responsibilities consist of supervising daily activities and excursions, executing various aspects of the camp program, and assisting in camp administration. Staff members must be active Orthodox Christians at least 21 years of age by June 20, Greek language skills are not a requirement. Ionian Village staff will volunteer from June 19 August 16, 2009 (medical staff can make shorter time commitments). Staff members will have a four day break in between sessions and the opportunity to extend their stay in Greece at the end of the program. Ionian Village offers round trip airfare New York/ Athens, and full room and board for the duration of camp. Applicants can download/ print the application packet from the I.V. website at or call for info. Applications must be completed and postmarked by Jan. 21, Applicants will be notified by Feb. 19, 2009.
4 4 ECUMENICAL VATICAN CITY At the personal invitation of Pope Benedict XVI, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew addressed the 12th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican. This was the first time ever that an Ecumenical Patriarch has addressed this gathering that meets approximately every two years. After the celebration of evening prayer on Oct. 18 by more than 400 cardinals, bishops, priests, and lay people in the Sistine Chapel, Pope Benedict introduced His All Holiness who highlighted in his address how this is the first time in history that an Ecumenical Patriarch is offered the opportunity to address a Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, and thus be part of the life of this sister Church at such a high level. We regard this as a manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit leading our Churches to a closer and deeper relationship with each other, an important step towards the restoration of our full communion. His All Holiness spoke to the Synod about hearing and speaking the word of God through the Scriptures, seeing God s word in nature and in icons, and touching and sharing God s word in the sacraments and the communion of saints. The Word of God, he said, is addressed to all people at all times of history and, therefore, it must be proclaimed in a way that people can understand, and in a way that touches their lives, meets their needs and challenges them to change. Following the Ecumenical Patriarch s address, the Pope thanked him for his words assuring him they would be studied and examined by the Synod. This too was a joyful experience, he said, an experience of unity, perhaps not perfect but real and profound. Before offering the synod members his blessing, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said all Christians, especially Christian leaders, are called to discern, highlight and strengthen the traces of God s word in a world often marked by evil. As we struggle -- in ourselves and in our world -- to recognize the power of the cross, we begin to appreciate how every act of justice, every spark of beauty, every word of truth can gradually wear away the crust of evil, he said. The Ecumenical Patriarch s address reads as follows: The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church Your Holiness, Synodal Fathers, It is at once humbling and inspiring to be graciously invited by Your Holiness to address the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of this auspicious Synod of Bishops, an historical meeting of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church from throughout the world, gathered in one place to meditate on the Word of God and deliberate on the experience and expression of this Word in the Life and Mission of the Church. This gracious invitation of Your Holiness to our Modesty is a gesture full of meaning and significance - we dare say an historic event in itself. For it is the first time in history that an Ecumenical Patriarch is offered the opportunity to address a Synod of the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, and thus be part of the life of this sister Church at such a high level. We regard this as a manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit leading our Churches to a closer and deeper relationship with each other, an important step towards the restoration of our full communion. It is well known that the Orthodox Church attaches to the Synodical system PATRIARCHATE NOVEMBER 2008 Ecumenical Patriarch Delivers fundamental ecclesiological importance. Together with primacy synodality constitutes the backbone of the Church s government and organization. As our Joint International Commission on the Theological Dialogue between our Churches expressed it in the Ravenna document, this interdependence between synodality and primacy runs through all the levels of the Church s life: local, regional and universal. Therefore, in having today the privilege to address Your Synod our hopes are raised that the day will come when our two Churches will fully converge on the role of primacy and synodality in the Church s life, to which our common Theological Commission is devoting its study at the present time. The theme to which this episcopal synod devotes its work is of crucial significance not only for the Roman Catholic Church but also for all those who are called to witness to Christ in our time. Mission and evangelization remain a permanent duty of the Church at all times and places; indeed they form part of the Church s nature, since she is called Apostolic both in the sense of her faithfulness to the original teaching of the Apostles and in that of proclaiming the Word of God in every cultural context every time. The Church needs, therefore, to rediscover the Word of God in every generation and make it heard with a renewed vigor and persuasion also in our contemporary world, which deep in its heart thirsts for God s message of peace, hope and charity. This duty of evangelization would have been, of course, greatly enhanced and strengthened, if all Christians were in a position to perform it with one voice and as a fully united Church. In his prayer to the Father little before His passion our Lord has made it clear that the unity of the Church is unbreakably related with her mission so that the world may believe (John 17, 21). It is, therefore, most appropriate that this Synod has opened its doors to ecumenical fraternal delegates so that we may all become aware of our common duty of evangelization as well as of the difficulties and problems of its realization in today s world. This Synod has undoubtedly been studying the subject of the Word of God in depth and in all its aspects, theological as well as practical and pastoral. In our modest address to you we shall limit ourselves to sharing with you some thoughts on the theme of your meeting, drawing from the way the Orthodox tradition has approached it throughout the centuries and in the Greek patristic teaching, in particular. More concretely we should like to concentrate on three aspects of the subject, namely: on hearing and speaking the Word of God through the Holy Scriptures; on seeing God s Word in nature and above all in the beauty of the icons; and finally on touching and sharing God s Word in the communion of saints and the sacramental life of the Church. For all these are, we think, crucial in the life and mission of the Church. In so doing, we seek to draw on a rich Patristic tradition, dating to the early third century and expounding a doctrine of five spiritual senses. For listening to God s Word, beholding God s Word, and touching God s Word are all spiritual ways of perceiving the unique divine mystery. Based on Proverbs 2.5 about the divine faculty of perception. Origen of Alexandria claims: This sense unfolds as sight for contemplation of immaterial forms, hearing for discernment of voices, taste for savoring the living bread, smell for sweet spiritual fragrance, and touch for handling the Word of God, which is grasped by every faculty of the soul. The spiritual senses are variously described as five senses of the soul, as divine or inner faculties, and even as faculties of the heart or mind. This doctrine inspired the theology of the Cappadocians (especially Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa) as much as it did the theology of the Desert Fathers (especially Evagrius of Pontus and Macarius the Great). Hearing and Speaking the Word through Scripture At each celebration of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the presiding celebrant at the Eucharist entreats that we may be made worthy to hear the Holy Gospel. For hearing, beholding and handling the Word of life (1 Jn 1.1) are not first and foremost our entitlement or birthright as human beings; they are our privilege and gift as children of the living God. The Christian Church is, above all, a scriptural Church. Although methods of interpretation may have varied from Church Father to Church Father, from school to school, and from East to West, nevertheless, Scripture was always received as a living reality and not a dead book. In the context of a living faith, then, Scripture is the living testimony of a lived history about the relationship of a living God with a living people. The Spirit, who spoke through the prophets (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed), spoke in order to be heard and take effect. It is primarily an oral and direct communication intended for human beneficiaries. The scriptural text is, therefore, derivative and secondary; the scriptural text always serves the spoken word. It is not conveyed mechanically, but communicated from generation to generation as a living word. Through the Prophet Isaiah, the Lord vows: As rain and snow descend from heaven, watering the earth so shall my word go from mouth to mouth, accomplishing that which I purpose. ( ) Moreover, as St. John Chrysostom explains, the divine Word demonstrates profound considerateness for the personal diversity and cultural contexts of those hearing and receiving. Adaptation of the divine Word to the specific personal readiness and the particular cultural context defines the missionary dimension of the Church, which is called to transform the world through the Word. In silence as in declaration, in prayer as in action, the divine Word addresses the whole world, preaching to all nations (Mt 28.19) without either privilege or prejudice to race, culture, gender and class. When we carry out that divine commission, we are assured: Behold, I am with you always. (Mt 28.20) We are called to speak the divine Word in all languages, becoming all things to all people, that [we] might by all means save some. (1 Cor. 9.22) page 5
5 NOVEMBER ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE Historic Address at the Vatican page 5 As disciples of God s Word, then, it is today more imperative than ever that we provide a unique perspective beyond the social, political, or economic on the need to eradicate poverty, to provide balance in a global world, to combat fundamentalism or racism, and to develop religious tolerance in a world of conflict. In responding to the needs of the world s poor, vulnerable and marginalized, the Church can prove a defining marker of the space and character of the global community. While the theological language of religion and spirituality differs from the technical vocabulary of economics and politics, the barriers that at first glance appear to separate religious concerns (such as sin, salvation, and spirituality) from pragmatic interests (such as commerce, trade, and politics) are not impenetrable, crumbling before the manifold challenges of social justice and globalization. Whether dealing with environment or peace, poverty or hunger, education or healthcare, there is today a heightened sense of common concern and common responsibility, which is felt with particular acuteness by people of faith as well as by those whose outlook is expressly secular. Our engagement with such issues does not of course in any way undermine or abolish differences between various disciplines or disagreements with those who look at the world in different ways. Yet the growing signs of a common commitment for the well-being of humanity and the life of the world are encouraging. It is an encounter of individuals and institutions that bodes well for our world. And it is an involvement that highlights the supreme vocation and mission of the disciples and adherents of God s Word to transcend political or religious differences in order to transform the entire visible world for the glory of the invisible God. Seeing the Word of God The Beauty of Icons and Nature Nowhere is the invisible rendered more visible than in the beauty of iconography and the wonder of creation. In the words of the champion of sacred images, St. John of Damascus: As maker of heaven and earth, God the Word was Himself the first to paint and portray icons. Every stroke of an iconographer s paintbrush like every word of a theological definition, every musical note chanted in psalmody, and every carved stone of a tiny chapel or magnificent cathedral articulates the divine Word in creation, which praises God in every living being and every living thing. (cf. Ps ) In affirming sacred images, the Seventh Ecumenical Council of Nicaea was not concerned with religious art; it was the continuation and confirmation of earlier definitions about the fullness of the humanity of God s Word. Icons are a visible reminder of our heavenly vocation; they are invitations to rise beyond our trivial concerns and menial reductions of the world. They encourage us to seek the extraordinary in the very ordinary, to be filled with the same wonder that characterized the divine marvel in Genesis: God saw everything that He made; and, indeed, it was very good. (Gn ) The Greek (Septuagint) word for goodness implies etymologically and symbolically a sense of calling. Icons underline the Church s fundamental mission to recognize that all people and all things are created and called to be good and beautiful. Indeed, icons remind us of another way of seeing things, another way of experiencing realities, another way of resolving conflicts. We are asked to assume what the hymnology of Easter Sunday calls another way of living. For we have behaved arrogantly and dismissively toward the natural creation. We have refused to behold God s Word in the oceans of our planet, in the trees of our continents, and in the animals of our earth. We have denied our very own nature, which calls us to stoop low enough to hear God s Word in creation if we wish to become participants of divine nature. (2 Pet 1.4) How could we ignore the wider implications of the divine Word assuming flesh? Why do we fail to perceive created nature as the extended Body of Christ? Eastern Christian theologians always emphasized the cosmic proportions of divine incarnation. The incarnate Word is intrinsic to creation, which came to be through divine utterance. St. Maximus the Confessor insists on the presence of God s Word in all things (cf. Col. 3.11); the divine Logos stands at the center of the world, mysteriously revealing its original principle and ultimate purpose (cf. 1 Pet 1.20). This mystery is described by St. Athanasius of Alexandria: As the Logos [he writes], he is not contained by anything and yet contains everything; He is in everything and yet outside of everything the first-born of the whole world in its every aspect. The entire world is a prologue to the Gospel of John. And when the Church fails to recognize the broader, cosmic dimensions of God s Word, narrowing its concerns to purely spiritual matters, then it neglects its mission to implore God for the transformation always and everywhere, in all places of His dominion of the whole polluted cosmos. It is no wonder that on Easter Sunday, as the Paschal celebration reaches its climax, Orthodox Christians sing: Now everything is filled with divine light: heaven and earth, and all things beneath the earth. So let all creation rejoice. All genuine deep ecology is, therefore, inextricably linked with deep theology: Even a stone, writes Basil the Great, bears the mark of God s Word. This is true of an ant, a bee and a mosquito, the smallest of creatures. For He spread the wide heavens and laid the immense seas; and He created the tiny hollow shaft of the bee s sting. Recalling our minuteness in God s wide and wonderful creation only underlines our central role in God s plan for the salvation of the whole world. Touching and Sharing the Word of God The Communion of Saints and the Sacraments of Life The Word of God persistently moves outside of Himself in ecstasy (Dionysius the Areopagite), passionately seeking to dwell in us (Jn 1.14), that the world may have life in abundance. (Jn 10.10) God s compassionate mercy is poured and shared so as to multiply the objects of His beneficence. (Gregory the Theologian) God assumes all that is ours, in every respect being tested as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4.15), in order to offer us all that is God s and render us gods by grace. Though rich, He becomes poor that we might become rich, writes the great Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 8.9), to whom this year is so aptly dedicated. This is the Word of God; gratitude and glory are due to Him. The word of God receives His full embodiment in creation, above all in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. It is there that the Word becomes flesh and allows us not simply to hear or see Him but to touch Him with our own hands, as St. John declares (I John 1,1) and make Him part of our own body and blood in the words of St. John Chrysostom. In the Holy Eucharist the Word heard is at the same time seen and shared. It is not accidental that in the early eucharistic documents, such as the book of Revelation and the Didache, the Eucharist was associated with prophesy, and the presiding bishops were regarded as successors of the prophets (e.g. Martyrion Polycarpi). The Eucharist was already by St. Paul (I Cor. 11) described as proclamation of Christ s death and Second Coming. As the purpose of Scripture is essentially the proclamation of the Kingdom and the announcement of eschatological realities, the Eucharist is a foretaste of the Kingdom, and in this sense the proclamation of the Word par excellence. In the Eucharist Word and Sacrament become one reality. The Word ceases to be words and becomes a Person, embodying in Himself all human beings and all creation. Within the life of the Church, the unfathomable self-emptying and generous sharing of the divine Logos is reflected in the lives of the saints as the tangible experience and human expression of God s Word in our community. In this way, the Word of God becomes the Body of Christ, crucified and glorified at the same time. As a result, the saint has an organic relationship with heaven and earth, with God and all of creation. In ascetic struggle, the saint reconciles the Word and the world. Through repentance and purification, the saint is filled as Abba Isaac the Syrian insists with compassion for all creatures, which is the ultimate humility and perfection. This is why the saint loves with warmth and spaciousness that are both unconditional and irresistible. In the saints, we know God s very Word, since as St. Gregory Palamas claims God and His saints share the same glory and splendor. In the gentle presence of a saint, we learn how theology and action coincide. In the compassionate love of the saint, we experience God as our father and God s mercy as steadfastly enduring. (Ps. 135, LXX) The saint is consumed with the fire of God s love. This is why the saint imparts grace and cannot tolerate the slightest manipulation or exploitation in society or in nature. The saint simply does what is proper and right (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom), always dignifying humanity and honoring creation. His words have the force of actions and his silence the power of speech. (St. Ignatius of Antioch) And within the communion of saints, each of us is called to become like fire (Sayings of the Desert Fathers), to touch the world with the mystical force of God s Word, so that as the extended Body of Christ the world, too, might say: Someone touched me! (cf. Mt 9.20) Evil is only eradicated by holiness, not by harshness. And holiness introduces into society a seed that heals and transforms. Imbued with the life of the sacraments and the purity of prayer, we are able to enter the innermost mystery of God s Word. It is like the tectonic plates of the earth s crust: the deepest layers need only shift a few millimeters to shatter the world s surface. Yet for this spiritual revolution to occur, we must experience radical metanoia a conversion of attitudes, habits and practices for ways that we have misused or abused God s Word, God s gifts and God s creation. Such a conversion is, of course, impossible without divine grace; it is not achieved simply through greater effort or human willpower. For mortals, it is impossible; but for God all things are possible. (Mt 19.26) Spiritual change occurs when our bodies and souls are grafted onto the living Word of God, when our cells contain the life-giving blood-flow of the sacraments, when we are open to sharing all things with all people. As St. John Chrysostom reminds us, the sacrament of our neighbor cannot be isolated from the sacrament of the altar. Sadly, we have ignored the vocation and obligation to share. Social injustice and inequality, global poverty and war, ecological pollution and degradation result from our inability or unwillingness to share. If we claim to retain the sacrament of the altar, we cannot forgo or forget the sacrament of the neighbor a fundamental condition for realizing God s Word in the world within the life and mission of the Church. Beloved Brothers in Christ, We have explored the patristic teaching of the spiritual senses, discerning the power of hearing and speaking God s Word in Scripture, of seeing God s Word in icons and nature, as well as of touching and sharing God s Word in the saints and sacraments. Yet, in order to remain true to the life and mission of the Church, we must personally be changed by this Word. The Church must resemble the mother, who is both sustained by and nourishes through the food she eats. Anything that does not feed and nourish everyone cannot sustain us either. When the world does not share the joy of Christ s Resurrection, this is an indictment of our own integrity and commitment to the living Word of God. Prior to the celebration of each Divine Liturgy, Orthodox Christians pray that this Word will be broken and consumed, distributed and shared in communion. And we know that we have passed from death to life when we love our brothers and sisters (1 Jn 3.14). The challenge before us is the discernment of God s Word in the face of evil, the transfiguration of every last detail and speck of this world in the light of Resurrection. The victory is already present in the depths of the Church, whenever we experience the grace of reconciliation and communion. As we struggle in ourselves and in our world to recognize the power of the Cross, we begin to appreciate how every act of justice, every spark of beauty, every word of truth can gradually wear away the crust of evil. However, beyond our own frail efforts, we have the assurance of the Spirit, who helps us in our weakness (Rom. 8.26) and stands beside us as advocate and comforter (Jn 14-6), penetrating all things and transforming us as St. Symeon the New Theologian says into everything that the Word of God says about the heavenly kingdom: pearl, grain of mustard seed, leaven, water, fire, bread, life and mystical wedding chamber. Such is the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, whom we invoke as we conclude our address, extending to Your Holiness our gratitude and to each of you our blessings: Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth present everywhere and filling all things; treasury of goodness and giver of life: Come, and abide in us. And cleanse us from every impurity; and save our souls. For you are good and love humankind. Amen!
6 6 ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE NOVEMBER 2008 Ecumenical Patriarch s Address to the Synaxis of Hierarchs page 1 rotation or in plenary. This canonical establishment is by no means substituted by the Synaxis of the Heads of Churches. Nevertheless, from time to time, such a Synaxis is deemed necessary and beneficial, especially in times like ours, when the personal encounter and conversation among responsible leaders in all public domains of human life is rendered increasingly accessible and essential. Therefore, the benefit gained from a personal encounter of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches can, with God s grace, only prove immense. The Challenge of Unity and Disunity Following these introductory remarks, the Ecumenical Patriarch delivered a forceful Address dealing with a number of critical issues facing the Church today. The unity of the Church and the tragedy of division were themes dominating his presentation. His All Holiness boldly addressed the critical need for unity and the insidious nature of divisions. He did this with constant reference to the witness of St. Paul, whom he described as the first theologian of Church unity. For our own Synaxis in particular, said the Patriarch, this teaching (of Paul) is extremely significant, chiefly with regard to one of its fundamental aspects, namely its emphasis on the crucial and always topical subject of the unity of the Church, which as we mentioned earlier constitutes a great responsibility and concern for all Bishops in the Church, and especially the Heads of Churches. (part 4) His All Holiness reminded the Hierarchs: Nothing else brought such sorrow to the Apostle s heart than the lack of unity and love among members of the Church: If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another, he writes with great pain to the Galatians. (Gal. 5.15) Schism was an evil against which the Apostle struggled boldly. The Patriarch declared that St. Paul would not tolerate the indifference of many today to the tragedy of division. One cannot properly honor St. Paul if one does not simultaneously labor for the unity of the Church. With reference to St. Paul, the Patriarch said: St. Paul is perhaps the first theologian of Church unity. Since its foundation, the Church experienced unity as a fundamental feature of its life. After all, this was an explicit desire of the Church s founder, expressed with particular emphasis in the prayer to His Father just prior to His passion: I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one. (John ) However, St. Paul is the first to develop and explore this unity in detail; and he toiled for this unity like no other among the Apostles. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew noted that St. Paul s concern for the unity of the Church was not simply a concern for the internal life of Christians and their relationship with the Triune God, important as it is. The Apostle Paul recognized that there was a relationship between the unity of the church and the unity of the world. If he insists so strongly on maintaining unity, said the Patriarch, it is because Church unity is inextricably linked with the unity of all humanity. The Church does not exist for itself but for all humankind and, still more broadly, for the whole of creation. (part 7) This bold statement was a powerful reminder of the responsibilities of the Church and church leaders to the world. Two important consequences follow: First, the Church has an obligation to evangelize. The message of Christ must be passed on to all peoples. However, the quality of this evangelization is important. Patriarch Bartholomew said The message and overall word of Orthodoxy cannot be aggressive, as it often unfortunately is; for this is of no benefit at all. Rather, it must be dialectical, dialogical and reconciliatory. We must first understand other people and discern their deeper concerns; for, even behind disbelief, there lies concealed the search for the true God. Second, His All Holiness affirmed that the Church must take on the role of peacemaker in the world. Together with renouncing all forms of fanaticism, the Church must develop initiatives of reconciliation wherever conflicts among people either loom or erupt. Inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue is the very least of our obligations; and it is one that we must surely fulfill. The Unity of the Orthodox Church The Ecumenical Patriarch did not pretend that there are not serious challenges facing the Orthodox Church with regard to her own unity. Here again there is remarkable boldness in his Address to the Synaxis. His All Holiness affirmed that the Orthodox truly belong to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, whose faithful continuation and expression in History is our Holy Orthodox Church. At the same time he called upon the bishops to admit in all honesty that sometimes we present an image of incomplete unity, as if we were not one Church, but rather a confederation or a federation of churches. Central to the difficulties facing the Orthodox is the abuse of the institution of autocephaly. Unlike the historic Pentarchy, the later development of autocephalous churches frequently emphasized the ethnic or nationalistic character. These regional Churches have been viewed as churches of particular nations or peoples and not churches of all the believers in a given place regardless of ethnic or cultural considerations. Referring to this fact, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said: Moreover, the overall system of autocephaly was encroached in recent years, through secular influences, by the spirit of ethnophyletism or, still worse, of state nationalism, to the degree that the basis for autocephaly now became the local secular nation, whose boundaries, as we all know, do not remain stable but depend on historical circumstance. So we have reached the perception that Orthodoxy comprises a federation of national Churches, frequently attributing priority to national interests in their relationship with one another. In light of this image, which somewhat recalls the situation in Corinth when the first letter to the Corinthians was written, the Apostle Paul would ask: has Orthodoxy been divided? This question is also posed by many observers of Orthodox affairs in our times. His All Holiness stated that the Orthodox need greater unity so as not to act as separate churches, which are not in communion with each other. He recognizes that the Orthodox proclaim their unity in faith and sacramental life. However, this is not sufficient. Indeed, the Orthodox have frequently been ill prepared to give a common witness in addressing critical issues of the day and in addressing the Christian West. He boldly said: When before non-orthodox we sometimes appear divided in theological dialogues and elsewhere; when we are unable to proceed to the realization of the long-heralded Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church; when we lack a unified voice on contemporary issues and, instead, convoke bilateral dialogues with non-orthodox on these issues; when we fail to constitute a single Orthodox Church in the so-called Diaspora in accordance with the ecclesiological and canonical principles of our Church; how can we avoid the image of division in Orthodoxy, especially on the basis of non-theological, secular criteria? In order to strengthen unity and to provide a common witness in the world, it is necessary that there be the restoration of genuine conciliarity among the autocephalous churches under the leadership of Constantinople. According to the Patriarch, Constantinople was called according to canonical order to serve the unity of the Orthodox Church as its first Throne. And it fulfilled this responsibility through the ages by convoking an entire series of Pan-Orthodox Councils on crucial ecclesiastical matters, always prepared, whenever duly approached, to render its assistance and support to troubled Orthodox Churches. The Patriarchate has served the unity of the Church without in the least damaging or diminishing the independence of the local autocephalous Churches by any interference in their internal affairs. The Patriarch does not repudiate the ecclesiological significance of the autocephalous churches. Rather, he points to the abuses in the relationship among the churches. When the system works properly, he states each autocephalous Church does not act alone but in coordination with the rest of the Orthodox Churches. If this coordination either disappears or diminishes, then autocephaly becomes autocephalism (or radical independence), namely a factor of division rather than unity for the Orthodox Church. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew recommended a course of action. He stated that the leaders of the churches need to transcend every temptation of regionalism or nationalism so that we may act as a unified Church, as one canonically structured body. (part 8) He recognized that the world wide Orthodox Church today does not have available a form of governmental authority that once either guaranteed or imposed unity, as in the Byzantine period. He also recognized that our ecclesiology does not permit any centralized authority that is able to impose unity from above. Our unity depends on our conscience. The sense of need and duty that we constitute a single canonical structure and body, one Church, is sufficient to guarantee our unity, without any external intervention. With this in mind, His All Holiness proposed the following concrete actions: To advance the preparations for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, already commenced through Panorthodox Pre-Conciliar Consultations. To activate the 1993 agreement of the Inter-Orthodox Consultation of the Holy and Great Council in order to resolve the pending matter of the Orthodox Diaspora. To strengthen by means of further theological support the decisions taken on a Pan-Orthodox level regarding participation of the Orthodox Church in theological dialogues with non-orthodox. To proclaim once again the vivid interest of the entire Orthodox Church for the crucial and urgent matter of protecting the natural environment, supporting on a Pan-Orthodox level the relative initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. To establish an Inter-Orthodox Committee for the study of matters arising today in the field of bioethics, on which the world justifiably also awaits the Orthodox position. (part 8) These recommendations of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew set a dramatic direction for discussion by the Heads of Churches and the other bishops at the Synaxis. The Message of the Primates The Heads of Churches also produced a Message which touched upon a number of critical issues facing the Orthodox Church as a whole. The Message was solemnly read at the Divine Liturgy on Oct. 12. The Primates began with the declaration that the faithful promotion of this message of redemption also presupposes overcoming the internal conflicts of the Orthodox Church through the surrendering of nationalistic, ethnic and ideological extremes of the past. For only in this way will the word of Orthodoxy have a necessary impact on the contemporary world. This affirmation was followed by a number of brief observations They recognized the danger of alienation in contemporary society and the related danger of alienation of human persons from God They affirmed that Orthodox Christians share responsibility for the contemporary crisis of this planet with other people, whether they are people of faith or not They recognized that scientific research is a God-given gift to humanity. Yet, they also recognized that this knowledge can lead to dangerous consequences if not properly utilized. They recognized the dangers related to the abuse of the creation, and affirmed that the gift of creation needs to be treasured and handed on to future generations. They affirmed the obligation of Orthodox Christians to work to overcome divisions in the society. They recognized the danger of the marginalization of religion from aspects of life. They lamented the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and the danger of materialism. They called for a peaceful resolution to conflicts and recognized especially the reconciling activities of the Church of Russia and the Church of Georgia. They recognized a crisis in marriage and family life. And, they affirmed the obligation of the Church to be supportive of families. They expressed the desire that the young share more deeply in the sacramental and missionary life of the Church. (parts 3-12) page 24
7 NOVEMBER The Voice of Philoptochos Chapters Demonstrate Compassion and Creativity in Challenge Projects The 2008 National Philoptochos Biennial Convention in Washington featured three Chapter Challenge projects as noted below. These chapters are the second group selected to develop a project that provides assistance, nurturing and care to the recipients of their work. The first Projects were featured at the 2006 National Convention in Nashville. The three chapter projects exemplify the creativity and compassion of the members who participate in these as do all Philoptochos chapters throughout the country. LITERACY PROJECT St. George Cathedral Evangelismos Philoptochos Chapter Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolis of Boston The Evangelismos Philoptochos selected the Literacy Project to address a need in the local community for additional literacy skills. The data showed that Springfield was in crisis with a 58 percent overall drop out rate. In Springfield s Hispanic and African-American immigrant population education has not been a focus and the drop out rate for these groups is 70 percent. Since there is a high correlation between reading and finishing high school, the Chapter chose the Literacy Project to make a difference for the community. After extensive research, the chapter confirmed that interaction with a child s environment is a key factor in determining the ease with which a child will learn to read. Reading to children aged 0-5 stimulates their brain and facilitates learning. The more words a child hears, the larger a child s vocabulary. The larger a child s vocabulary, the more likely the child is to become a proficient reader. The chapter concluded that the future doctors, Former National Philoptochos President Georgia Skeadas encouraged all Philoptochos chapters to participate actively in the Family Outreach Sunday which is set aside preferably in November and is meant to encourage inactive family members and Orthodox friends to participate in a special day of Christian fellowship. The Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society, as part of its mission, strives to preserve and perpetuate Orthodox Christian concepts and the Orthodox Christian Family, and through them, to promote the Greek Orthodox faith and traditions. President Skeadas states, Thus, it is our responsibility to support our mission statement by encouraging our family members, our parish family, and our Orthodox friends to participate fully in worship, prayer, and knowledge of our beautiful Orthodox faith. One of the programs of the Archdiocese in which the National Philoptochos actively participates is Family Outreach Sunday recommended by the Department of Outreach and Evangelism. The National Philoptochos Family and Society Standing Committee s scientists and industry leaders would be developed in the Literacy Project. The chapter resolved to adopt a subsidized neighborhood preschool diagonally across from the Cathedral with 100 children in attendance year-round and to collaborate with Dolly Parton and Penguin Publishing Company s Imagination Library Program. When a child is registered by the parents in the program, the child receives an age-appropriate book every month until his/her fifth birthday. The books are mailed to the child s home and it is expected that the book will be read to the child to help the child learn and build knowledge for reading success. The cost per child per year is $30 for 12 books. The Philoptochos ladies sponsored the entire group of children and invited parishioners to join in sponsoring a child or a family of children. Parishioners with children were encouraged to have their children sponsor another child. These children were also registered for the Imagination Library. The chapter provided the same books to the preschool to reinforce the learning. The chapter collaborated with organizations, foundations, corporate sponsors, media, the parish, the Sunday school and educators to launch the project where volunteer teams read weekly in the classrooms. For more information on this project visit the National Philoptochos Society website at ANGELS AND AUTISM: FINDING FAITH FOR THE AUTISTIC CHILD St. Irene Philoptochos St. John the Baptist Church Euless, Texas Metropolis of Denver In July 2006, St. John the Baptist National Philoptochos Promotes FAMILY OUTREACH SUNDAY program and mission is committed to meeting the needs of the families within our parishes. It embraces and supports interfaith marriages, newcomers, single parents, youth involvement, and parenting. President Skeadas further states, Our church family will be strengthened spiritually and socially by our preparation and participation in this program. Family Outreach Sunday will make inactive Orthodox Christians aware of the need for Christ in their hearts and lives and their importance as members of the body of Christ, the Church. This endeavor is a wonderful way not only to involve ourselves in community life, but also an excellent occasion to create an awareness and promote the ministries of the Philoptochos Society, as all organizations of the parish are encouraged to set up a welcome booth to showcase and highlight their Orthodox faith in action. This noteworthy program is wholeheartedly endorsed and supported by the National Philoptochos Society. Let us bring the life-saving, shining and unwavering light of Christ into each and everyone s life. Philoptochos was chosen to design, develop, and implement a project of its own creation that directly reflected the work of Philoptochos. The chapter s inspiration for this challenge came from a family in the parish who is raising a child with autism. With the support of the parish community, local community members directly affected by autism, selected professionals, dozens of parishes throughout the country, and award-winning film producers the chapter completed the challenge. The Angels and Autism documentary was shown at the 39th Biennial National Philoptochos Convention in Washington. In producing this documentary, the chapter hoped to address the issues of raising an autistic child and to enlighten the viewer with the challenges families face in their attempt to instill spirituality in their children s lives. To order this video complete the order form found on the St. John the Baptist Philoptochos, Euless, Texas website. www. stjohndfw.info/philoptochos.html DIVAS FOR THE CURE Annunciation Philoptochos Milwaukee, Wisconsin Metropolis of Chicago Divas for the Cure is a newly created program of the Annunciation Philoptochos that recognizes that the cure for any ailment goes beyond medicine and treats the spiritual restoration of health. The objective of the program is to make a cancer patient s journey easier. That translates into different remedies depending on the individual journey of each patient. Divas for the Cure will work to enrich women s daily lives as they journey through cancer on their way to complete health restoration. The funds raised through Divas In a recent letter to Philoptochos chapters, former National Philoptochos President Georgia Skeadas encourages the chapters to join with IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) in offering special assistance to the disaster areas recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. National President Skeadas states, The images of the aftermath of Hurricane Ike are heart-rending. Trauma, fear, despair and uncertainty prevail, as a result of the devastating blow from one of the most significant natural disasters in the state of Texas.Each day the media and the newspapers brought us the tragic news and images of the massive devastation and the terrible and unhealthy living conditions. As dedicated members of one of the largest women s Christian philanthropic organizations, we have an overwhelming compassion and love for all humankind that inspires us to do as much as possible to aid, comfort and help the victims who are suffering greatly as the result of this for the Cure efforts will provide a wide spectrum of non-medical cures that can include anything from purchasing a wig to hiring a cleaning person or having groceries delivered or buying that special make-up. Divas for the Cure will address the debilitating part of cancer that no one beyond immediate family members witness. The chapter wanted to make the program a very private one and yet ensure the program was available for the community. To achieve this goal, they adopted a Buddy System. The parish has been asked to let the chapter know when they have a friend in need no matter what the need may be. Sometimes, the need is nothing more than a bouquet of flowers when the patient is going through an extremely tough time. Sometimes, it is a call to help coordinate help for the patient. Sometimes, it is our privilege to be able to welcome these people back into the arms of the Church with the help of our spiritual father. We have been asked to pay a medical bill, send cards and flowers, arrange for cleaning assistance, and assist in the preparation for final arrangements. October was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the chapter hosted a reception and auction to support their program The Annunciation parish has been blessed with the opportunity to respond to this National Challenge. We have expanded our horizons in helping to personalize the Personal Emergency Response in our community. The Philoptochos delegates at the National Convention were inspired and impressed with the work accomplished by the three chapters. National Philoptochos Joins IOCC in Hurricane Ike Relief catastrophe. We once again reach out to you, our Philoptochos chapters, for assistance during the victims greatest hour of need. The IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) is offering special assistance to the disaster areas with health kits and emergency clean-up buckets. The need for these emergency aid packages is great and can make a tremendous difference to victims in times of disaster. It is my fervent hope that all Philoptochos chapters will participate in this worthwhile endeavor. The women of Philoptochos are always in the forefront of providing assistance by demonstrating their love, their compassion and their strong belief in our philanthropic ministry. Chapters may receive instructions for completing the kits by contacting the National Philoptochos Office at aol.com. Chapters are asked to complete a form that allows the National Philoptochos office to track the total number of packages prepared by the chapters. GET RESULTS advertise Tel.: (212) Fax: (212)
8 8 ARCHDIOCESE NEWS NOVEMBER 2008 OrthodoxObserverQP 8/1/08 5:05 PM Page 1 OPA! Let the fun begin. Photos D. PANAGOS Archbishop Demetrios accepts Archangel Michael Award from Nikitas Drakotos. St. Michael s Home Event Celebrates 50 years, Honors Archbishop with Award NEW YORK St. Michael s Home held its 50th anniversary Name Day Gala on Nov. 9 and honored Archbishop Demetrios with its Archangel Michael Award. After a speech in Greek by resident Evy Way, a nonagenarian whom Archbishop Demetrios later praised for her presentation in flawless Greek, greetings were offered by Board of Trustees President Nikitas Drakotos and the Director, Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, who expounded on the progress made at the home. The Bishop said that St. Michael s has progressed steadily over the past 10 years to the point where it has gone from an endowment of $29,000 to over $1 million today. He also noted that St. Michael s is bursting at the seams having reached full capacity of 60 residents, with many waiting for admission. His Grace said that the progress made thus far is not enough. No doubt we are capable of even greater things. Let us rededicate ourselves and dream new dreams. To this extent, he discussed plans being considered for the expansion of the facility and that another property in Yonkers, a six-acre site that contains a threestory building, is being considered. Only God knows at this time if this site is the one, the Bishop said. Archbishop Demetrios underscored the need for expanded facilities when he received the Archangel Michael Award from Mr. Drakotos. He stated that 60 people is a small number. We have to have room for more and for people in need of special care who cannot care for themselves. Welcome Aboard Our 3rdAnnual Greek Cultural Cruise 2009 February 8-15, 2009 Aboard the Magnificent Costa Fortuna Departs Ft.Lauderdale,Florida to: San Juan,Puerto Rico; St.Thomas,USVI; Casa De Campo,Dominican Republic; Grand Turk,Turks & Caicos Islands. $757 RATES START AT ONLY PER PERSON DOUBLE OCCUPANCY INCLUDES TAXES, FUEL SURCHARGES & ENTRANCE TO PRIVATE OPA! EVENTS Bishop Andonios of Phasiane addresses St. Michael s Home dinner guests. Experience an Authentic Greek Festival at Sea! In addition to the traditional cruise activities, casinos, shows and food, you ll enjoy Greek Dances, Movies, Lectures and more! Enjoy the music of Nick Trivelas, as well as the Night in Athens Trio featuring George Antonopoulos & Joanna. Join us in song, dance and an occasional Opa as you sail the Eastern Caribbean and celebrate Greece! Please Note! Only passengers booked through TravelGroup International will be eligible to attend any and all OPA! events Travel insurance is highly recommended. Information is subject to change without notice Sponsored by the Greek Orthodox Mission of Ocala, Father George Papadeas, Pastor For reservations & info contact: TravelGroup International or ext: 102 or 108 or Fax: Office: 125 SE Mizner Blvd., #14, Boca Raton, FL Members of the St. Michael s Home Board of Trustees.
10 10 Depression and youth Commentaries and Opinions Editorial A Gathering of Faith, Hope and Love Largely unnoticed by the world s secular and even religious press, the Synaxis of the Heads of all the Autocephalous Churches, convened in Constantinople by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch, stands as an historic milestone in the life of the Orthodox Church. Under the leadership of His All Holiness, the Primates, or their representatives for those who could not travel, gathered at the Phanar from Oct to discuss the present and future needs of the Church. Representing 300 million people throughout the world, these leaders deliberated within the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George the Trophy-bearer, with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presiding over every session. The opening address of His All Holiness and the Minima, the Message of the Synaxis, signed by every Primate or representative thereof, speak boldly about the unity of the Church the unity of Orthodoxy. The call for action on the summoning of a Great and Holy Council of worldwide Orthodoxy, as well as the pastoral proposal to address the issue of the so-called Diaspora (Orthodoxy in lands where no autocephalous or autonomous Church exists), bears witness to the concern and prudence of the leaders of our Church. Although the documents of the Synaxis may prove to be somewhat formal for many readers, the universal agreement over them should give every Orthodox joy for the unanimity and unity of the Church. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew convened the Synaxis to coincide with an academic Pauline Symposium, chaired by Archbishop Demetrios. These proceedings commenced with the Synaxis and became a movable feast of scholarship, archaeology, and pastoral Editor, As a psychotherapist (intern), I was delighted to come across the article, Youth and Depression. In my work, I come across students who are, indeed, depressed. Young people are reaching developmental milestones constantly and growing up in today s world creates vulnerabilities from many corners from the influence of narcotics, to bullying being publicized on the Internet, to the homeostasis in the home being disrupted due to familial strife, to the pressures of myriad (and sometimes unrealistic) expectations, depression is on an upward trajectory. The question would then be posed, How can depression be curbed? While there are many factors at play, two keys are listening and empathizing. Young adults (like everyone) not only want to know they are being heard, but that someone is actively listening. When you listen intently, place yourself in that person s shoes and really hear what they are saying from their perspective. In your hectic day, evaluate how many times you really listen and empathize you may come to notice it is not as often as you would like. Not only will this contribute reflection for the Primates and the 80 participants. The Symposium traveled through Asia Minor, Rhodes and Crete, basking in the history of the Apostle Paul, who proved to be the Vessel of Election 2,000 years ago. Throughout the journey, the Hierarchs, clergy, and staff of the Ecumenical Patriarchate provided extraordinary service and logistical support to both the Synaxis and the Symposium, providing simultaneous translation in Greek, English and Russian at every event and lecture. The spirit that pervaded the Synaxis and the Symposium was straight out of the Epistles of St. Paul, filled with faith, hope and love. It was no accident that His All Holiness conceived of the two events together, for the apostolic character of the Synaxis was clearly accentuated by the Apostle s towering presence at the Symposium. As a sign to the Church and to the world, the Primates, together with the heads of the Autonomous Churches of Finland and Estonia, the Metropolitan of Kiev, Ukraine, our own Archbishop, and Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, celebrated the Divine Liturgy, with His All Holiness presiding. The day was Oct. 12, the Sunday of the Holy and God-bearing Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. Nearly 13 centuries ago, the Fathers of that Council gathered in Nicea not very far away from the current gathering in the Phanar. In short, the Message of that Ecumenical Council was an affirmation of Christ in our midst in the truth of the Icon. As the Hierarchs embraced in the Divine Liturgy s Kiss of Peace and uttered Christ is in our midst, it would seem that the message today is no different. We would all do well to pay attention. something positive to someone else s day, but genuine sincerity and decency goes a long way for one s mental health. Jeannine Callea Stamatakis Piedmont, Calif. Electing Christ Editor, Throughout the 2008 presidential election season, I noticed how much of our nation was in a state of anxiety. Americans spent much time and energy fretting over who they wanted to choose to solve their problems and secure their freedoms. As Orthodox Christians, we must never forget that Jesus Christ is the one who gives us the greatest freedom of all: the freedom of eternal life in His kingdom. We have a Savior that conquered sin, and no political issue or vote on a ballot is going to change that. Understanding the former candidates opinions with an Orthodox perspective reveals the true answer that the people of our nation (and the world) are looking for. During a CNN presidential forum hosted by Evangelical pastor Rick Warren on Aug. 16, Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama were both asked: Does evil NOVEMBER 2008 Archiepiscopal Encyclical Feast of the Synaxis of The Holy Archangels To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I communicate to you with joy on the festive occasion of the Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Archangels, which our Holy Orthodox Church celebrates on November 8 of each year. This day is one for all of us to be conscious of the very real and active presence that God s holy angels have in our lives. The Epistle to the Hebrews describes the holy angels as ministering spirits sent forth to serve for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation (1:14). Our Holy Tradition, following this understanding of Scripture, teaches that each of us is assigned a guardian angel at the moment of our baptism to protect and watch over us throughout our life on earth. In keeping with this understanding of the protection that the holy angels provide to all of us throughout life, our Holy Archdiocese has made it a priority to provide for the physical, psychological, and spiritual care of our senior Greek Orthodox faithful who are in need. This is made possible through the important ministry that is offered by Saint Michael s Home, our senior adult home in New York, which is appropriately named after the Archangel Michael, whom we commemorate on this day. This year, as we celebrate this Feast, we are doubly blessed to celebrate the 50th year anniversary of St. Michael s Home. This auspicious occasion allows us to reflect upon the tremendous accomplishments that Saint Michael s has achieved since its founding, and the great opportunities that lie ahead for the Home as it works to expand its capacity and its level of care for its residents. Over the past 50 years, people have come to reside at St. Michael s Home from places far and wide. Though most of its residents traditionally hail from the New York Tri-State region (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut), St. Michael s Home has provided a place of comfort to Greek Orthodox Christians from faraway states and even from other countries. Presently, the Home is staffed with capabilities to provide for assisted living to its nearly 60 residents. In its expansion plans, the Home hopes to be able to offer care to those who have greater medical needs. Perhaps what is most extraordinary about St. Michael s Home is that throughout its half-century existence, its operating expenses have been largely covered by the generous donations from you, the faithful of our Archdiocese. In view of its 50th year anniversary and expansion plans, and with my warm expressions of thanks for your past and consistent generosity, I invite you all to consider giving to the Home generously this year so that St. Michael s Home can continue to function as a very special and sacred institution of our Archdiocese. Your contributions may be made payable to St. Michael s Home and sent to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. In contributing to the Home, you will be significantly aiding our Church in providing care to the elders of our community whom we love deeply, and who are continuously being protected by the myriad of angelic beings of God. On this Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Archangels, I ask that you keep all the residents of the Home in your prayers, along with their families, and the directors, board, staff, and volunteers of Saint Michael s Home, all of whom make the Home a place of dignity and one that affirms the importance of community in Christ. May the divine protection of the Holy Archangels be with us always, and may they inspire us to grow in our commitment to minister unto others who are in need of the love and saving grace of Almighty God. With paternal love in Christ, exist? And if so, should we ignore it, negotiate with it, contain it, or defeat it? Sen. Obama responded by saying that evil does exist, listed some examples of what he thinks constitutes evil, and said it is up to God to stop evil. When asked the same question concerning evil, Sen. Mc- Cain replied defeat it and named some of what he views as evil institutions that he will end. An Orthodox Christian s answer to this question is simple; evil has already been defeated by Christ! Evil exists in our sins and Christ is the only solution. An elected official, being human, cannot do this. The only way for evil to prevail is if we deny Christ and pursue our own selfish indulgences. We must take up our cross and follow Him. When we strive to do this in every aspect of our lives, the darkness of evil does not stand a chance against the shining light of Christ. Archbishop Demetrios of America Whether or not to make an honest effort everyday to be like Jesus is a choice we have to make as Orthodox Christians. Americans have to make a decision as to whom they will trust to take actions that will influence their lives. We trust the president to use his power and authority to protect our nation, but it is imperative that we cannot forget that Christ is the ultimate protector of our lives and the only way to salvation. Just like a candidate is elected to office, we must more importantly personally elect Christ as the leader of our lives. Although turning to God is the path we must take, our country still faces many difficulties that are easy to dwell on. We should pray that God will guide those whom are elected. When we begin to feel overwhelmed and those in office cannot ease our burdens, we should recall the Gospel from
11 NOVEMBER Bible Insight But Where Are the Nine? by Fr. William Gaines We who serve the Holy Church know the most popular sin in the word is Ingratitude. The Gospel of Luke gives a graphic scene which shows how common the sin of ingratitude is in the story of the healing of the ten lepers. Only one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back praising our Lord with a loud vice and fell on his face at Jesus feet to give thanks. Today, we see a Gallup Poll of the ungrateful, and we find it running as high as 80 percent. Here are some sources of ingratitude that we see every day that may be from a lack of thought: First, we do not think much about ingratitude as a real sin. That is one reason for its prevalence. We take benefits for granted without stopping to think from where they come, and we do not thank our benefactors. Second, is the lack of imagination. A young person engrossed in the activities of his work and pleasure does not stop to picture how his parents wait for his letters. He is not really ungrateful for what his parents have done for him, but he does not use imagination enough to show that he is grateful. Third, is the lack of sensitivity. It is not in the nature of some to know what makes them sensitive to the feeling of others. Fourth, unfortunately, some of us have an ignoble and greedy nature. Many of us become so filled with a sense of our own importance that we take everything done for us as if it were our due. We are ever seeking our rights and complaining. Today, we all need to focus on gratitude. I wonder how it would be if we took a poll of our people today. Let us recall our parents who nurtured us in our infancy and as we grew up forgave our willful acts. Let us recall the friends who stood up for us and went to bat for us, and our teachers who took pain to teach and guide us. Let us recall and think of our Holy Church, which has been leading us in the paths of righteousness and pointing us toward ever-lasting life. Today, we must learn once and for all that gratitude cannot be coerced, it has to be cultivated. And it can be for there is a seed of gratitude in every human being, if we cultivate it. Gratitude must grow if we are to grow healthy. Ten lepers were cleansed. It may be presumed that they were physically healed of their leprosy. What they did with their restored bodies we do not know. Today, if we have not learned this lesson, we need to learn it immediately. Our Christian faith is nurtured in gratitude, and through all of the hardships it has kept the spirit of gratitude and praise. This spirit of Thanksgiving will live forever. Matthew 6:33: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. By placing God first in our lives as the real commander-in-chief, we assure ourselves that there is a country greater than the one we live in today. His kingdom is the nation that we must put our faith in. That is why I felt sad to see so many Americans shed tears for the promises candidates gave when they were campaigning. Unfortunately, the people are going to be disappointed no matter what. They may have been temporarily impressed or satisfied with a former candidate s accomplishments which are commendable, but Christ alone can bring the peace, love, mercy and inexpressible joy that their hearts yearn for. Presidents and world leaders come and go. But in January, when Orthodox across the nation turn on their TV s to see the next president s inauguration, let it be a reminder that Christ is with us. John Buscemi Glenview, Ill. Priest important Editor, The letter Priest is important (September issue) was very well written. How wonderful and pleasing to God it would be if all Orthodox Christians find that warm experience of love and peace in their parishes. How wonderful and pleasing to God it would be when the parish priest loves, respects and ministers to everyone equally, where there is open communications, when problem s are addressed and solved with love. When there is respect and forgiveness and healing and comfort. When there is encouragement, support, reaching out, embracing and welcoming everyone with love. When bridges are built and not destroyed. When there are wonderful experiences from spiritual, religious and cultural programs and activities for young and old alike. Where there is joy, laughter, and dancing and the parish priest helped create all of this for the Glory of God. God bless those priests who are doing their very best and working very hard to create these kinds of parishes. Demetra M. Morres Pensacola, Fla. Cross article Editor, What an interesting article about the Cross and the reason for wearing it (Sept. 08 issue). I have been thinking about this subject for some time now. In fact, I set the article aside for a couple of weeks, as I wanted to comment on it. I love the explanation of Fr. John Bakas. I also think if we wear the cross for any other reason than to honor God who gave His Son to die for mankind, we should remove it. It s not show-off jewelry, but should be worn as a sign that we love the Lord and want to walk in His footsteps each and every day. I walked into Sam s one day, here in Clearwater, Fla., and the greeter had on a beautiful cross and I mentioned it. He did not hesitate to tell me he was a Christian and wore his cross with love and pride in his heart for our Lord and Savior. To me, that was a beautiful explanation. More of us should speak up and tell others how we feel about God and His love for mankind. He tells us, If we deny Him before men, He will deny us before His heavenly Father. So to just wear a cross as a piece of jewelry with no love in your heart for God makes no sense. Fran Glaros-Sharp Clearwater, Fla. A good Financial Advisor never clocks out. Markets close but the process of watching, evaluating and discerning never ceases. For us at Smith Barney, helping you build your wealth is an unending process. The goal is not a number. The goal is a tireless work ethic that doesn t wax and wane with market conditions. These are the reasons I work at Smith Barney. To discuss how I can work with you, please call me at (800) Gregory Nerantzis Senior Vice President Wealth Management Senior Portfolio Manager 222 Catoctin Circle Leesburg, VA (800) fa.smithbarney.com/greg_nerantzis INVESTMENT PRODUCTS: NOT FDIC INSURED. NO BANK GUARANTEE. MAY LOSE VALUE 2008 Citigroup Global Markets Inc. Member SIPC. Securities are offered through Citigroup Global Markets Inc. 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12 12 Newly invested Archons at the Cathedral Center on Oct. 26. Archons Honor Rabbi Schneier with Athenagoras Human Rights Award NEW YORK -- Rabbi Arthur Schneier, the senior rabbi at New York s Park East Synagogue, became the 23rd recipient of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America. Schneier was honored for his work as founder and president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an interfaith organization of corporate and spiritual leaders from all faiths committed to promoting peace, tolerance, and ethnic conflict resolution The Award was presented during the Grand Banquet of the Order s annual three- day assembly, Oct. 25, at the New York Hilton. The Award is presented annually to a person or organization, which has consistently exemplified by action, purpose and dedication, concern for the basic rights and religious freedom of all people. Rabbi Schneier, escorted by Archbishop Demetrios and National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis M.D., was received enthusiastically as he entered a packed ballroom. Honored dignitaries included U.S. Ambassador to Turkey James F. Jeffrey, Greece s Deputy Defense Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Papal Nuncio to the United Nations; and retired U.S. Sen. and Archon Paul Sarbanes. White House Correspondent for FOX News, Mike Emanuel, served as master of ceremonies. In tribute to Schneier, Limberakis said, As a recipient of 10 honorary doctorates, numerous national and international awards citing his humanitarian and human rights lifetime accomplishments, Rabbi Arthur Schneier is most worthy to receive the 2008 Athenagoras Human Rights Award and we proclaim, Axios! Axios! Axios! Archon John A. Catsimatidis then introduced a GOTelecom video tribute to the accomplishments of Rabbi Schneier. In the video, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew personally greeted and congratulated Rabbi Schneier from the Phanar. His All Holiness and Rabbi Schneier worked closely together as co-chairs of the 1994 Peace and Tolerance Conference in Istanbul, which worked towards bringing an end to the bloodshed in Yugoslavia. In 2005, they co-chaired the second Peace and Tolerance Conference bringing together leaders from all the major faiths promoting peace and tolerance in Southern Europe and Central Asia. Upon receiving the Award, Rabbi Schneier thanked the Archons saying, I m deeply moved and touched by this high honor given to me. Praising the Archons, he said, As a great admirer and friend of His All Holiness, Bartholomew, your work is so important on behalf of religious freedom and human rights... Yes, we stand with His All Holiness because he Dr. Limberakis addresses the new Archons at the orientation dinner. JOHN MINDALA D. PANAGOS is a world religious leader - respected and admired. Rabbi Schneier spoke of the need for cooperation and understanding among religions and the importance of what he called the core value of religious freedom. Referencing a quote by Martin Luther King, Schneier said, We must learn how to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools. He further quoted Patriarch Athenagoras who had said I do not deny there are differences, but we must change the way of approaching them, and explained how this continues to be a challenge. The Rabbi recounted the friendship and close cooperation he has had with Archbishop Demetrios on issues of religious freedom and the protection of religious sites around the world. In response, Archbishop Demetrios, a trustee of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, called Rabbi Schneier, A most deserving honoree who is internationally known for his leadership on behalf of religious freedom, human rights, and tolerance worldwide with specific interest in Turkey, China, Russia, Central Europe, and the Balkans. The Archbishop concluded by quoting a phrase from the book of the prophet Isaiah to describe the leadership qualities of the honoree as a wonderful counselor, a wise architect and a prudent listener. (Isaiah 3:3) His Eminence also thanked the Archons of the Order of St. Andrew for their diligent work in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate saying that they deserve much recognition Established in 1986, the Athenagoras Award honors Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras who served as Archbishop of the Americas for 18 years before being elected Ecumenical Patriarch in He was universally acknowledged as a visionary leader of the world s more than 250 million Orthodox Christians. Patriarch Athenagoras worked for peace among Churches and people throughout his life. Previous recipients have included Archbishop Iakovos, President Jimmy Carter, President George H.W. Bush, President Mikhail Gorbachev, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa, Elie Wiesel, and last year s recipient, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America. NOVEMBER 2008 Archons Induct 22 New Members NEW YORK The Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate-Order of St. Andrew inducted 22 new members at Holy Trinity Archdiocesan Cathedral on Oct. 26. Archbishop Demetrios, exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, officiated at the investiture that took place following the Divine Liturgy for the Feast Day of St. Demetrios. During the Investiture, the Archbishop presented each Archon with the Cross of St. Andrew along with the official Patriarchal Certificate specifying the offikion designated by His All Holiness for each Archon. Concelebrating hierarchs included Metropolitans Nicholas of Detroit and Evangelos of New Jersey. Dignitaries in attendance included, U.S. Sen. (retired) and Archon Paul Sarbanes. Archons invested George Angelakis, Archon Depoutatos, Pennington, N.J; Lewis A. Assaley, PhD, Archon Eftaxias, Cincinnati; Arthur Balourdos, Archon Hypomnematrografos, Lincolnwood, Ill; Peter John Condakes, Archon Hieromnimon, Weston, Mass. John Dallas, Archon Ostiarios, Hingham, Mass; Nicolaos Apostolos Georgiafentis, Archon Hartoularios, Itasca, Ill; Larry Hotzoglou, Archon Notarios, Bayside, N.Y; Christopher C. Maletis III, Archon Ostiarios, Portland, Oregon. E. Leo Milonas, Archon Nomophylax, Bronx, N.Y; Christopher James Pappas, Archon Depoutatos, Houston; Harris James Pappas, Archon Notarios, Houston. James Pete Pappas, PhD, Archon Prostatis Ton Grammaton, Norman, Okla; Arthur Poly, Archon Hartophylax, Boca Raton, Fla; Capt. Mark J. Poneros, Archon Maestor, Englewood Cliffs, N.J; George Peter Psihogios, Archon Kastrinsios, Lake Oswego, Oregon; Paul Sieben, Archon Aktouarios, Toledo, Ohio; Christos Skeadas, Archon Eftaxias, Villanova, Pa. Basil Skelos, Archon Eftaxias, Rockville Center, N.Y; Paul Peter Sogotis, Archon Orphanotrofos, Burlingame, Calif; John C. Stratakis, Archon Dikaiophylax, New York City; Nicholas Tsapatsaris, Archon Kastrinsios, Ridgewood, N.J; Xenophon Zapis, Archon Ekdikos, Westlake, Ohio. Banquet kicks off events The annual Archon Banquet Weekend commenced with an orientation dinner held Friday, Oct. 24, at the New York Hilton. Members of the National Council and Regional Commanders of the Order of St. Andrew joined Archons- elect and their spouses for an evening of fellowship and introductions. National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, M.D., extended a warm welcome to all of the Archons and Archon elect members. The program continued with a visual presentation offered by Limberakis on the history of The Order of St. Andrew, its role as advocate for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the humbling recognition and awesome responsibility the Archon elect members will now face. Dr. Limberakis reminded the members that they are called to be Defenders of the Faith and their role as members must now be raised with a greater responsibility and calling.
13 NOVEMBER A Powerful Symbol of Unity by Fr. John Chryssavgis Synaxis of the Heads of All Orthodox Churches The unity of the Church is a fragile gift, entrusted to us by God and embodied in the meeting of minds of Church leaders coming together in council to deliberate and in communion through liturgy. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew recognizes the value and fragility alike of this divine gift, working from his position as first among equals to facilitate common celebration and common action. Admittedly, his delicate work of balance and coordination is not always appreciated. Nevertheless, on October 10, 2008, Orthodox Christians throughout the world witnessed the Heads of all Orthodox Churches assembling for the fifth time under the tenure of this Ecumenical Patriarch, who first established the hitherto unprecedented institution of the Synaxis. The latest Synaxis was held in Constantinople from Oct. 10 to 12, 2008, with Patriarchs and Archbishops meeting together, producing a common declaration (see below), and celebrating the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Church of St. George. The Synaxis was chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarch, while the Hierarchs in attendance included the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Moscow, as well as senior representatives from the Patriarchates of Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia. Also present were the Archbishops of Cyprus and Athens, senior representatives from the Church of Poland, the Archbishops of Albania and Prague, as well as of Finland and Estonia. In his opening address, the Ecumenical Patriarch offered several recommendations for common action among the Hierarchs [see excerpts from his address below], most notably including the advancement of preparations for the Great Council of the Orthodox Church and the activation of the 1993 agreement of the Inter-Orthodox Consultation of the Holy and Great Council in order to resolve issues related to the Orthodox Diaspora. On Sunday morning, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated by all the above Hierarchs, together with the Metropolitans of Chalcedon and Kiev, as well as Archbishop Demetrios of America and Metropolitan Kyril of Estonia. The Divine Liturgy was followed by a Trisagion Service held at Baloukli Monastery in memory of all Ecumenical Patriarchs (who are buried there) and other Heads of Orthodox Churches who have passed away. The Synaxis meeting and celebration were powerful and visible symbols of unity for Orthodox leaders and their faithful all over the world. From the Address by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew From the moment that, by God s mercy, we assumed the reins of this First Throne among Churches, we have regarded it as our sacred obligation and duty to strengthen the bonds of love and unity of all those entrusted with the leadership of the local Orthodox Churches. Thus, in response also to the desire of other brothers serving as Heads, we took the initiative of convoking several occasions for Synaxis: first, in this City on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in 1992; then, on the sacred island of Patmos in 1995; and thereafter, we had the blessing of experiencing similar encounters and concelebrations in Jerusalem and the Phanar on the occasion of the beginning and end of the year 2000 as we entered this third millennium of the Lord s era. Of course, these occasions for Synaxis do not comprise an institution by canonical standards. As known, the sacred Canons of our Church assign the supreme responsibility and authority for decisions on ecclesiastical matters to the Synodical system, wherein all hierarchs in active ministry participate either in rotation or in plenary. This canonical establishment is by no means substituted by the Synaxis of the Heads of Churches. Nevertheless, from time to time, such a Synaxis is deemed necessary and beneficial, especially in times like ours, when the personal encounter and conversation among responsible leaders in all public domains of human life is rendered increasingly accessible and essential. Therefore, the benefit gained from a personal encounter of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches can, with God s grace, only prove immense. Church unity is not merely an internal Ecumenical Patriarch presides at the Synaxis in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George. The Divine Liturgy at the Synaxis; Vatican delegation visible to the right. PHOTOS by N. MANGINAS matter of the Church because Church unity is inextricably linked with the unity of all humanity. The Church does not exist for itself but for all humankind and, still more broadly, for the whole of creation. Of course, the response commonly proffered to this question is that, despite administrational division, Orthodoxy remains united in faith, the Sacraments, etc. But is this sufficient? When before non- Orthodox we sometimes appear divided in theological dialogues and elsewhere; when we are unable to proceed to the realization of the long-heralded Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church; when we lack a unified voice on contemporary issues and, instead, convoke bilateral dialogues with non-orthodox on these issues; when we fail to constitute a single Orthodox Church in the so-called Diaspora in accordance with the ecclesiological and canonical principles of our Church; how can we avoid the image of division in Orthodoxy, especially on the basis of non-theological, secular criteria? We need, then, greater unity in order to appear to those outside not as a federation of Churches but as one unified Church. Through the centuries, and especially after the Schism, when the Church of Rome ceased to be in communion with the Orthodox, this Throne was called according to canonical order to serve the unity of the Orthodox Church as its first Throne. And it fulfilled this responsibility through the ages by convoking an entire series of Panorthodox Councils on crucial ecclesiastical matters, always prepared, whenever duly approached, to render its assistance and support to troubled Orthodox Churches. In this way, a canonical order was created and, accordingly, the coordinating role of this Patriarchate guaranteed the unity of the Orthodox Church, without in the least damaging or diminishing the independence of the local autocephalous Churches by any interference in their internal affairs. This, in any case, is the healthy significance of the institution of autocephaly: while it assures the self-governance of each Church with regard to its internal life and organization, on matters affecting the entire Orthodox Church and its relations with those outside, each autocephalous Church does not act alone but in coordination with the rest of the Orthodox Churches. If this coordination either disappears or diminishes, then autocephaly becomes autocephalism (or radical independence), namely a factor of division rather than unity for the Orthodox Church. Therefore, dearly beloved brothers in the Lord, we are called to contribute in every possible way to the unity of the Orthodox Church, transcending every temptation of regionalism or nationalism so that we may act as a unified Church, as one canonically structured body. We do not, as during Byzantine times, have at our disposal a state factor that guaranteed and sometimes even imposed our unity. Nor does our ecclesiology permit any centralized authority that is able to impose unity from above. Our unity depends on our conscience. The sense of need and duty that we constitute a single canonical structure and body, one Church, is sufficient to
14 14 NOVEMBER 2008 Synaxis of the Heads of All Orthodox Churches guarantee our unity, without any external intervention. Proposals by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Heads of the Orthodox Churches To advance the preparations for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, already commenced through Panorthodox Pre-Conciliar Consultations. To activate the 1993 agreement of the Inter Orthodox Consultation of the Holy and Great Council in order to resolve the pending matter of the Orthodox Diaspora. To strengthen by means of further theological support the decisions taken on a Panorthodox level regarding participation of the Orthodox Church in theological dialogues with non-orthodox. To proclaim once again the vivid interest of the entire Orthodox Church for the crucial and urgent matter of protecting the natural environment, supporting on a Panorthodox level the relative initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. To establish an Inter-Orthodox Committee for the study of matters arising today in the field of bioethics, on which the world justifiably also awaits the Orthodox position. Message of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 1. Through the Grace of God, the Primates and the Representatives of the local Orthodox Churches have gathered from October, 2008, in the Phanar, at the invitation and under the presidency of the First among us, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on the occasion of the proclamation of this year as the year of Saint Paul, Apostle to the Nations. We have deliberated in fraternal love on the issues that concern the Orthodox Church, and participating in the festivities of this occasion, we celebrated together the Holy Eucharist in the Most Sacred Patriarchal Church of the Ecumenical Throne, today, 12 October 2008, Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. During these days, we have been strengthened by the truth of the gifts of divine providence received by the Apostle to the Nations, which rendered him a superb chosen vessel (Acts 9:15) of God and a shining model of apostolic ministry for the body of the Church. The entire Orthodox Church is honoring this Apostle during the current year of the Lord, promoting him as an example to its faithful for a contemporary witness of our faith to those near and those afar (Eph. 2:17). 2. The Orthodox Church, having the understanding of the authentic interpretation of the teaching of the Apostle to the Nations, in both peaceful and difficult times of its two-thousand year historical course, can and must promote to the contemporary world the teaching not only regarding the restoration in Christ of the unity of the entire human race, but also regarding the universality of His work of redemption, through which all the divisions of the world are overcome and the common nature of all human beings is affirmed. Nevertheless, the faithful promotion of this message of redemption also presupposes overcoming the internal conflicts of the Orthodox Church through the surrendering of nationalistic, ethnic and ideological extremes of the past. For only in this way will the word of Orthodoxy have a necessary impact on the contemporary world. 3. Inspired by the teaching and the work of the Apostle Paul, we underscore first and foremost, the importance of the duty of Mission for the life of the Church, and in particular for the ministry of us all, in accordance with the final commandment of the Lord: you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem, but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). The evangelization of God s people, but also of those who do not believe in Christ, constitutes the supreme duty of the Church. This duty must not be fulfilled in an aggressive manner, or by various forms of proselytism, but with love, humility and respect for the identity of each individual and the cultural particularity of each people. All Orthodox Churches must contribute to this missionary effort, respecting the canonical order. 4. The Church of Christ today fulfills it ministry in a rapidly developing world, which has now become interconnected through means of communication and the development of means of transportation and technology. At the same time however, the extent of alienation, divisions and conflicts is also increasing. Christians emphasize that the source of this condition is the alienation of man from God. No change The beginning of the Divine Liturgy with all the Primates. in social structures or of rules of behavior suffices to heal this condition. The Church consistently points out that sin can only be conquered through the cooperation of God and humankind. 5. Under such circumstances, the contemporary witness of Orthodoxy for the ever-increasing problems of humanity and of the world becomes imperative, not only in order to point out their causes, but also in order to directly confront the tragic consequences that follow. The various nationalistic, ethnic, ideological and religious contrasts continuously nurture dangerous confusion, not only in regard to the unquestionable ontological unity of the human race, but also in regard to man s relationship to sacred creation. The sacredness of the human person is constrained to partial claims for the individual, whereas his relationship toward the rest of sacred creation is subjected to his arbitrary use or abuse of it. These divisions of the world introduce an unjust inequality in the participation of individuals, or even peoples in the goods of Creation; they deprive billions of people of basic goods and lead to the misery for the human person; they cause mass population migration, kindle nationalistic, Archbishop Demetrios greets Patriarch Alexey at the Phanar, escorting him to the Office of the Ecumenical Patriarch. religious and social discrimination and conflict, threatening traditional internal societal coherence. These consequences are still more abhorrent because they are inextricably linked with the destruction of the natural environment and the entire ecosystem. 6. Orthodox Christians share responsibility for the contemporary crisis of this planet with other people, whether they are people of faith or not, because they have tolerated and indiscriminately compromised on extreme human choices, without credibly challenging these choices with the word of faith. Therefore, they also have a major obligation to contribute to overcoming the divisions of the world. The Christian teaching about the ontological unity between the human race and sacred creation, as expressed by the entire mystery of the redemptive work in Christ, constitutes the foundation for interpretation of man s relationship with God and the world. 7. Efforts to distance religion from societal life constitute the common tendency of many modern states. The principle of a secular state can be preserved; however, it is unacceptable to interpret this principle as a radical marginalization of religion from all spheres of public life. 8. The gap between rich and poor is growing dramatically due to the financial crisis, usually the result of manic profiteering by economic factors and corrupt financial activity, which, by lacking an anthropological dimension and sensitivity, does not ultimately serve the real needs of mankind. A viable economy is that which combines efficacy with justice and social solidarity. 9. With regard to the issue of the relationship of Christian faith to the natural sciences, the Orthodox Church has avoided pursuing ownership of developing scientific research and assuming a position on every scientific question. From the Orthodox viewpoint, freedom of research constitutes a God-given gift to humanity. While affirming this however, at the same time Orthodoxy underscores the dangers concealed in certain scientific achievements, the limits of scientific knowledge,
15 ΝΟΕΜΒΡΙΟΣ Αἶνον καί δοξολογίαν ἀναπέμπομεν τῷ ἐν Τριάδι Ἁγίῳ Θεῷ, ὅτι ἠξίωσεν ἡμᾶς καί πάλιν ἵνα συνέλθωμεν ἐπί τό αὐτό οἱ πεπιστευμένοι ὑπό τοῦ ἐλέους Αὐτοῦ τήν διακονίαν τῆς προεδρίας τῶν κατά τόπους Ἁγιωτάτων Αὐτοκεφάλων καί Αὐτονόμων Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν, ἐν τῷ Ἱερῷ τούτῳ Κέντρῳ, πρός ἐπιβεβαίωσιν τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ ἀρρήκτου ἑνότητος ἡμῶν καί διαβούλευσιν ἐπί τῶν ἀπασχολούντων τήν Ἐκκλησίαν ζητημάτων ἐν τῇ ἐκπληρώσει τῆς ἀποστολῆς αὐτῆς εἰς τόν σύγχρονον κόσμον. Ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει πολλῇ καί χαρᾷ ἀνεκλαλήτῳ ἡ καθ ἡμᾶς Ἁγιωτάτη Ἐκκλησία Κωνσταντινουπόλεως καί ἡμεῖς προσωπικῶς ὑποδεχόμεθα πάντας ὑμᾶς τούς Μακαριωτάτους καί Σεβασμιωτάτους Προκαθημένους τῶν κατά τόπους Ἁγιωτάτων Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν καί τούς ἐκπροσώπους τῶν μή δυναμένων ἵνα παρευρεθοῦν προσωπικῶς, μετά τῶν τιμίων συνοδειῶν ὑμῶν, καί κατασπαζόμενοι ἕνα ἕκαστον ἐξ ὑμῶν φιλήματι ἁγίῳ ἀναφωνοῦμεν μετά τοῦ ψαλμῳδοῦ «Ἰδού δή τί καλόν ἤ τί τερπνόν, ἀλλ ἤ τό κατοικεῖν ἀδελφούς ἐπί τό αὐτό». Εὐχαριστίας ἐκφράζομεν πρός πάντας ὑμᾶς, διότι ἐν προθυμίᾳ καί ἀγάπῃ ἀδελφικῇ ἀνταπεκρίθητε εἰς τήν πρόσκλησιν τῆς ἡμετέρας Μετριότητος ὅπως συνέλθωμεν ἐνταῦθα, ὑποβληθέντες εἰς τήν θυσίαν καί τόν κόπον τοῦ ταξειδίου μέχρι τῆς Πόλεως ἡμῶν. Τήν ἀνταπόκρισιν ὑμῶν ταύτην βαθέως ἐκτιμῶμεν ὡς ἔνδειξιν ἀδελφικῆς ἀγάπης, ἀλλά καί μερίμνης διά τήν ἐνίσχυσιν καί ἐπαναβεβαίωσιν τῆς ἑνότητος τῆς Ἁγιωτάτης Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας, τῆς ὁποίας ἑνότητος ἐτάχθημεν ὑπό τῆς θείας Χάριτος φρουροί καί φύλακες καί ἐγγυηταί. 2. Ἀφ ἧς, ἐλέῳ Θεῷ, ἀνελάβομεν τούς οἴακας τῆς Πρωτοθρόνου ταύτης Ἐκκλησίας χρέος ἱερόν καί ἐπιτακτικόν ἐθεωρήσαμεν τήν σύσφιγξιν τῶν δεσμῶν ἀγάπης καί ἑνότητος πάντων τῶν πεπιστευμένων τήν ἡγεσίαν τῶν κατά τόπους Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν. Διό καί, ἀνταποκρινόμενοι εἰς τήν ἐπιθυμίαν καί ἄλλων ἀδελφῶν Προκαθημένων, ἔσχομεν τήν πρωτοβουλίαν παρομοίων Συνάξεων τό πρῶτον ἐν τῇ Πόλει ταύτῃ κατά τήν Κυριακήν τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας τοῦ ἔτους 1992, μετά δέ τοῦτο ἐν τῇ ἱερᾷ νήσῳ Πάτμῳ, ἐν ἔτει 1995, καί εἴχομεν τήν εὐλογίαν ἀναλόγων συναντήσεων καί συλλειτουργιῶν ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις καί Φαναρίῳ ἀρχομένου καί λήγοντος τοῦ ἔτους 2000 ἐπί τῇ εἰσόδῳ ἡμῶν εἰς τήν τρίτην μ. Χ. χιλιετίαν. Βεβαίως, αἱ Συνάξεις αὗται δέν ἀποτελοῦν «θεσμόν» κατά κανονικήν ἀκριβολογίαν. Ὡς γνωστόν, οἱ Ἱεροί Κανόνες τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ἡμῶν ἀναθέτουν τήν ἀνωτάτην εὐθύνην καί ἐξουσίαν ἀποφάσεων ἐπί ἐκκλησιαστικῶν θεμάτων εἰς τό Συνοδικόν σύστημα, τοῦ ὁποίου μετέχουν ἅπαντες οἱ ἐν ἐνεργείᾳ ἀρχιερεῖς εἴτε ἐκ περιτροπῆς εἴτε ἐν ὁλομελείᾳ. Τήν κανονικήν ταύτην δομήν οὐδόλως ὑποκαθιστᾷ ἡ Σύναξις τῶν Προκαθημένων. Κρίνεται ὅμως ἀναγκαία καί λυσιτελής ἡ τοιαύτη κατά καιρούς Σύναξις, καί δή καί εἰς καιρούς, ὡς οἱ σημερινοί, ὅτε ἡ πρόσωπον πρός πρόσωπον συνάντησις καί συνομιλία τῶν ὑπευθύνων ἡγετῶν εἰς ὅλους τούς τομεῖς τοῦ δημοσίου βίου τῶν ἀνθρώπων καθίσταται διαρκῶς καί περισσότερον ἐφικτή καί χρήσιμος. Οὕτω, καί ἐκ τῆς προσωπικῆς συναντήσεως τῶν Προκαθημένων τῶν Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν τό διά τήν Ἐκκλησίαν ὄφελος δέν δύναται παρά νά εἶναι, τοῦ Θεοῦ συνεργοῦντος, μέγα. 3. Ἡ παροῦσα Σύναξις ἡμῶν, προσφιλεῖς ἐν Κυρίῳ ἀδελφοί, πραγματοποιεῖται εἰς τά πλαίσια μιᾶς μεγάλης ἐπετείου διά τήν Ὀρθόδοξον Ἐκκλησίαν, ἀλλά καί σύμπαντα τόν χριστιανικόν κόσμον. Καίτοι ἡ χρονολογία τῆς γεννήσεως τοῦ Ἀποστόλου τῶν Ἐθνῶν Παύλου δέν εἶναι ἐπακριβῶς γνωστή, συμβατικῶς τοποθετεῖται περί τό ἔτος 8 μ. Χ., ἤτοι πρό δύο χιλιάδων ἐτῶν. Τοῦτο ἔχει ὁδηγήσει ἄλλας Χριστιανικάς Ἐκκλησίας, ὡς ἡ Ρωμαιοκαθολική, εἰς τήν καθιέρωσιν τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος ἔτους ὡς ἔτους τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Παύλου, εἶναι δέ προφανές ὅτι δέν θά ἠδύνατο νά μή πράξῃ τοῦτο ἡ Ὀρθόδοξος Ἐκκλησία, ἡ ὁποία ὀφείλει τόσον πολλά εἰς τόν κορυφαῖον τοῦτον Ἀπόστολον. Πρώτη δέ καί μεγίστη ὀφειλή εἶναι ἡ διά τοῦ κηρύγματος καί τοῦ ὅλου ἀποστολικοῦ ἔργου τοῦ «σκεύους τῆς ἐκλογῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ» ἵδρυσις τῶν Ἐκκλησιῶν ἐν τοῖς κλίμασι τῶν σημερινῶν Ὀρθοδόξων Πατριαρχείων καί Αὐτοκεφάλων Ἐκκλησιῶν, ὡς εἶναι αἱ ἐν Μικρᾷ Ἀσίᾳ, Ἀντιοχείᾳ, Κύπρῳ καί Ἑλλάδι Ἐκκλησίαι. Ἀναλογιζόμενον τήν ὀφειλήν ταύτην τό Οἰκουμενικόν Πατριαρχεῖον ἤχθη εἰς τήν ἀπόφασιν ὅπως ὀργανώσῃ προσκυνηματικήν ἐπίσκεψιν εἴς τινας τῶν ἐντός τοῦ κανονικοῦ αὐτοῦ κλίματος τόπων, ἔνθα ἐκήρυξεν ὁ Ἀπόστολος, καλέσῃ δέ εἰς αὐτήν καί τούς ἀδελφούς Προκαθημένους τῶν λοιπῶν Ἁγιωτάτων Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν, ἵνα ἀπό κοινοῦ τιμήσωμεν τούς ἀμετρήτους κόπους καί θυσίας καί πάντα ὅσα ὑπέμεινε καί ἔπραξεν ὁ θεσπέσιος Παῦλος «ἐν πληγαῖς ὑπερβαλλόντως, ἐν φυλακαῖς περισοτέρως, ἐν θανάτοις πολλάκις... ὁδοιπορίαις πολλάκις, κινδύνοις ποταμῶν, κινδύνοις λῃστῶν, κινδύνοις ἐκ γένους, κινδύνοις ἐξ ἐθνῶν, κινδύνοις ἐν πόλει, κινδύνοις ἐν ἐρημίᾳ, κινδύνοις ἐν θαλάσσῃ, κινδύνοις ἐν ψευδαδέλφοις ἐν κόπῳ καί μόχθῳ, ἐν ἀγρυπνίαις πολλάκις, ἐν λιμῷ καί δίψει, ἐν νηστείαις πολλάκις, ἐν ψύχει καί γυμνότητι» (Β Κορ. 11, 23 27) ταῦτα δέ πάντα ἵνα ἱδρύσῃ καί στερεώσῃ τάς Ἐκκλησίας, τῶν ὁποίων τήν μέριμναν καί διαποίμανσιν ἀνέθηκε καί ἡμῖν τό ἔλεος τοῦ Κυρίου. ΕΤΟΣ 73 ΑΡΙΘΜΟΣ 1244 Εἰσήγησις Α.Θ.Παναγιότητος, Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριάρχου Βαρθολομαίου, πρός τήν Σύναξιν τῶν Προκαθημένων τῶν Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν Ἑτέρα ὀφειλή πρός τόν «κόπον τῆς ἀγάπης» τοῦ μεγάλου Ἀποστόλου εἶναι ἡ ἀφορῶσα εἰς τήν διδασκαλίαν αὐτοῦ, τήν ἀποτυπωθεῖσαν εἰς τάς ἐπιστολάς του καί τάς ὑπό τοῦ συνεργοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ Εὐαγγελίῳ εὐαγγελιστοῦ Λουκᾶ συγγραφείσας «Πράξεις Ἀποστόλων». Ἡ διδασκαλία αὕτη, ἐκφράζουσα τήν «ὑπερβολήν τῶν ἀποκαλύψεων» (Β Κορ. 12, 7), τῶν ὁποίων ἠξιώθη ὁ Παῦλος ἀπό τήν χάριν τοῦ Κυρίου, παραμένει ὁδηγός καί πυξίς τῆς Ἐκκλησίας τοῦ Χριστοῦ διά μέσου τῶν αἰώνων, θεμέλιον τῶν δογμάτων τῆς πίστεως ἡμῶν, ἀπαράβατος δέ κανών πίστεως καί ζωῆς διά πάντας ἡμᾶς τούς Ὀρθοδόξους Χριστιανούς. Ἐκ τοῦ ὕψους καί τοῦ βάθους τῶν νοημάτων τῆς διδασκαλίας ταύτης ἤντλησε διά μέσου τῶν αἰώνων καί ἐξακολουθεῖ νά ἀντλῇ ἡ θεολογία τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. 4. Πρέπον, ὅθεν, ἐθεωρήσαμεν ὅπως ἐν τῷ πλαισίῳ τῶν Παυλείων τούτων ἑορτασμῶν ὀργανώσωμεν διεθνές καί διαχριστιανικόν ἐπιστημονικόν συμπόσιον, κατά τό ὁποῖον ἐκλεκτοί εἰσηγηταί ἔκ τε τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας καί ἐξ ἄλλων Χριστιανικῶν Ἐκκλησιῶν καί Ὁμολογιῶν θά ἀναπτύξουν καί θέσουν πρός συζήτησιν θέματα ἀφορῶντα εἰς πτυχάς τῆς προσωπικότητος καί τῆς διδασκαλίας τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Παύλου κατά τήν διάρκειαν τῶν προσκυνηματικῶν ἡμῶν ἐπισκέψεων εἰς τούς ἱερούς τόπους
16 16 ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΣ ΠΑΡΑΤΗΡΗΤΗΣ ΝΟΕΜΒΡΙΟΣ 2008 Εἰσήγησις Α.Θ.Παναγιότητος, Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριάρχου Βαρθολομαίου, ἔνθα ἐκήρυξε καί ἔδρασεν ὁ Ἀπόστολος τῶν Ἐθνῶν. Τά κείμενα τῶν εἰσηγήσεων τούτων καί τῶν ἐπ αὐτῶν συζητήσεων ἀναμένεται νά ἐκδοθοῦν εἰς ἰδιαίτερον τόμον, ὁ ὁποῖος ἐλπίζεται ὅτι θά συμβάλῃ εἰς τάς περί τόν Παῦλον σπουδάς. Ὡς θά καταφανῇ, ἀναμφιβόλως, καί ἐκ τῶν ἐργασιῶν τοῦ ὡς ἄνω συμποσίου, ἡ διδασκαλία τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Παύλου δέν ἀφορᾷ μόνον εἰς τό παρελθόν, ἀλλ ἔχει πάντοτε, καί σήμερον, σημασίαν καί ἐπικαιρότητα. Ἰδιαιτέρως διά τήν Σύναξιν ἡμῶν ἡ διδασκαλία αὕτη εἶναι ἄκρως σημαντική, κυρίως ὡς πρός μίαν ἐκ τῶν βασικῶν αὐτῆς πτυχῶν, ἥτις ἀφορᾷ εἰς τό μέγα καί ἀείποτε ἐπίκαιρον θέμα τῆς ἑνότητος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ἥτις καί, ὡς προείπομεν, ἀποτελεῖ μείζονα εὐθύνην καί μέριμναν πάντων τῶν Ἐπισκόπων τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, μάλιστα δέ τῶν Προκαθημένων τῶν Ἐκκλησιῶν. 5. Ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος εἶναι ὁ πρῶτος, ἴσως, θεολόγος τῆς ἑνότητος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ἡ Ἐκκλησία ἀνέκαθεν, ἀπό τῆς ἱδρύσεως αὐτῆς, ἐβίωνε τήν ἑνότητα ὡς οὐσιῶδες αὐτῆς γνώρισμα. Τοῦτο, ἄλλωστε, ἀπετέλει ρητήν ἐπιθυμίαν τοῦ ἱδρυτοῦ αὐτῆς, τήν ὁποίαν ἐκφράζει μετά ἰδιαιτέρας ἐπιτάσεως εἰς τήν πρός τόν Πατέρα Του προσευχήν ὀλίγον πρό τοῦ πάθους Του: «Οὐ περί τούτων δέ ἐρωτῶ μόνον, ἀλλά καί περί τῶν πιστευ(σ)όντων διά τοῦ λόγου αὐτῶν εἰς ἐμέ, ἵνα πάντες ἕν ὦσι, καθώς σύ, πάτερ, ἐν ἐμοί κἀγώ ἐν σοί, ἵνα καί αὐτοί ἐν ἡμῖν ἕν ὦσιν, ἵνα ὁ κόσμος πιστεύσῃ ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας. Καί ἐγώ τήν δόξαν, ἥν δέδωκάς μοι δέδωκα αὐτοῖς, ἵνα ὦσιν ἕν καθώς ἡμεῖς ἕν ἐσμεν, ἐγώ ἐν αὐτοῖς καί σύ ἐν ἐμοί, ἵνα ὦσι τετελειωμένοι εἰς ἕν» (Ἰωάν. 17, 20 23). Ὁ Παῦλος ὅμως εἶναι ὁ πρῶτος, ὁ ὁποῖος ἀναπτύσσει καί ἀναλύει ἐν λεπτομερείᾳ τήν ἑνότητα αὐτήν, διά τήν ὁποίαν καί ἠγωνίσθη ὅσον οὐδείς ἄλλος ἐκ τῶν Ἀποστόλων. Ὄντως, ὅσον ζῆλον ἐπέδειξεν ὁ Παῦλος διά τό κήρυγμα τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου τόσον, καί περισσότερον, ἠγωνίζετο καί ἠγωνία διά τήν ἑνότητα τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Τό πάθος του διά τήν «μέριμναν πασῶν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν» (Β Κορ. 11, 28) καί διά τήν ἐν Χριστῷ ἑνότητα αὐτῶν συνεῖχε τήν ὕπαρξίν του. Ὅπως παρατηρεῖ ὁ ἱερός Χρυσόστομος, «ὁ οὐκ οἰκίας μιᾶς, ἀλλά καί πόλεων καί δήμων καί ἐθνῶν καί ὁλοκλήρου τῆς οἰκουμένης τήν φροντίδα ἔχων, καί ὑπέρ τηλικούτων πραγμάτων, καί τοσούτων ὄντων τῶν ἐπηρεαζόντων, καί μόνος ὤν, καί τοσαῦτα πάσχων, καί οὕτω κηδόμενος ὡς οὐδέ πατήρ παίδων, ἐννόησον τί ὑπέμενεν» (Migne, PG 61, 571Β). Οὐδέν ἐλύπει τόσον πολύ τήν καρδίαν τοῦ Ἀποστόλου ὅσον ἡ ἔλλειψις ἑνότητος καί ἀγάπης μεταξύ τῶν μελῶν τῆς Ἐκκλησίας: «εἰ γάρ ἀλλήλους δάκνετε καί κατεσθίετε, βλέπετε μή ὑπ ἀλλήλων ἀναλωθῆτε», γράφει μέ πόνον ψυχῆς πρός τούς Γαλάτας (Γαλ. 5, 15). Διό καί ἀπευθυνόμενος πρός τούς Κορινθίους παρακαλεῖ «διά τοῦ ὀνόματος τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα τό αὐτό λέγητε πάντες, καί μή ᾖ ἐν ὑμῖν σχίσματα, ἦτε δέ κατηρτισμένοι ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ νοΐ καί ἐν τῇ αὐτῇ γνώμῃ» (Α Κορ. 1, 10). Καί διαπιστῶν ὅτι οἱ πιστοί τῆς Κορίνθου ἦσαν διῃρημένοι εἰς ὁμάδας ἀναφωνεῖ μετά πόνου: «μεμέρισται ὁ Χριστός;» (Α Κορ. 1, 13). Ὄντως, διά τόν Ἀπόστολον Παῦλον τό σχῖσμα ἐν τῇ Ἐκκλησίᾳ εἶναι τόσον φοβερόν καί ἀποτρόπαιον ὅσον ὁ μερισμός τοῦ ἰδίου τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Διότι, κατά τόν Ἀπόστολον, ἡ Ἐκκλησία εἶναι «σῶμα Χριστοῦ», εἶναι αὐτός οὗτος ὁ Χριστός. «Ὑμεῖς δέ ἐστε σῶμα Χριστοῦ καί μέλη ἐκ μέρους», γράφει πρός τούς Κορινθίους (Α Κορ. 12, 27). Εἶναι γνωστή ἡ ἐμμονή τοῦ Παύλου εἰς τόν χαρακτηρισμόν τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ὡς «σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ», τήν ὁποίαν διασαφηνίζει διά μακρῶν εἰς τό δωδέκατον κεφάλαιον τῆς Α πρός Κορινθίους ἐπιστολῆς. Ἡ εἰκών αὐτή δέν ἔχει μεταφορικόν, ἀλλ ὀντολογικόν περιεχόμενον. Τό σχῖσμα ἐν τῇ Ἐκκλησίᾳ σχίζει αὐτόν τόν Χριστόν, καί εἶναι τόσον ἀπεχθές καί φοβερόν ὥστε, κατά τόν ἱερόν Χρυσόστομον (Migne, PG 62, 85) ἑρμηνεύοντα τόν Παῦλον, οὐδέ αὐτό τό μαρτύριον νά μή δύναται νά ἐξαλείψῃ τήν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ προκαλοῦντος αὐτό καί ἐμμένοντος εἰς αὐτό (P.G.62,85). Δυνάμεθα, συνεπῶς, νά διερωτηθῶμεν τί θά ἔλεγε σήμερον ὁ Παῦλος, ἐάν συνήντα τήν ἀδιαφορίαν πολλῶν ἐκ τῶν συγχρόνων ἡμῶν διά τήν ἀποκατάστασιν τῆς ἑνότητος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ἀσφαλῶς θά ἔψεγεν αὐτούς δριμύτατα, ὡς θά ἔπραττεν ἴσως καί πρός πάντας ἡμᾶς ἀνεχομένους καί ὀλιγωροῦντας ἐνώπιον τῶν ποικίλων σχισμάτων καί διαιρέσεων τῶν ἐπικαλουμένων τό ὄνομα τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἤ καί αὐτῆς ἀκόμη τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας. Δέν εἶναι δυνατόν νά τιμᾷ τις δεόντως τόν Ἀπόστολον Παῦλον, ἐάν δέν ἀγωνίζεται διά τήν ἑνότητα τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. 6. Τοιοῦτον ἀγῶνα ὑπέρ τῆς ἑνότητος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας διεξήγαγεν ὁ ἴδιος ὁ Παῦλος προκειμένου νά γεφυρώσῃ τό χάσμα μεταξύ τῶν ἰουδαϊζόντων ἐξ Ἰουδαίων χριστιανῶν καί τῶν ἐξ ἐθνῶν τοιούτων. Μεταξύ τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν, τάς ὁποίας ἵδρυσεν ὁ Παῦλος ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ ἐθνικοῦ κόσμου καί ἐκείνης τῆς Ἱερουσαλήμ ὑπῆρχον, ὡς γνωστόν, διαφοραί, αἱ ὁποῖαι ἠπείλησαν σοβαρῶς τήν ἀρχικήν Ἐκκλησίαν. Αἱ διαφοραί αὗται συνεδέοντο πρός τήν τήρησιν ἤ μή διατάξεων τοῦ Μωσαϊκοῦ Νόμου, μέ αἰχμήν κυρίως τήν τήρησιν ἤ μή τῆς περιτομῆς καί διά τούς ἐξ ἐθνικῶν χριστιανούς. Ἡ στάσις τοῦ Παύλου ὡς πρός τό θέμα τοῦτο εἶναι ἰδιαιτέρως διδακτική. Εἰς τήν στάσιν ταύτην θά ἠδυνάμεθα νά διακρίνωμεν τά πρῶτα σπέρματα τῆς πράξεως τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ἡ ὁποία ἀργότερον ἔγινε γνωστή εἰς τό κανονικόν δίκαιον τῆς ἡμετέρας Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας ὡς οἰκονομία. Ὁ Νόμος, ὡς καί οἱ Ἱεροί Κανόνες ἀργότερον, δέον νά εἶναι σεβαστοί, δέν δύνανται ὅμως νά μή λαμβάνουν ὑπ ὄψιν των τόν ἄνθρωπον, διά τόν ὁποῖον, ἄλλωστε, καί ἐγένετο τό Σάββατον (δηλονότι ὁ Νόμος), κατά τήν γνωστήν φράσιν τοῦ Κυρίου (Μάρκ. 2, 27). Εἰς τήν θέσιν ταύτην, ἀπηχῶν τό πνεῦμα τοῦ Κυρίου, ἐπέμενεν ὁ Παῦλος, δεικνύων κατ αὐτόν τόν τρόπον τήν ὁδόν τῆς «οἰκονομίας», ἵνα μή διαταράσσηται ἡ ἑνότης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας διά τῆς ἐπιθέσεως ἐπί τῶν ὤμων τῶν ἀσθενῶν δυσβαστάκτων φορτίων. Ἀλλά καί ὁ τρόπος, διά τοῦ ὁποίου ἐπεδίωξεν ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος νά διατηρηθῇ ἡ ἑνότης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας κατά τήν κρισιμωτάτην περίπτωσιν ἐκείνην, εἶναι λίαν διδακτικός. Ἡ λύσις ἐδόθη τῇ πρωτοβουλίᾳ τοῦ Παύλου διά τῆς συγκλήσεως Συνόδου ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις, τῆς καλουμένης Ἀποστολικῆς Συνόδου, διά τῆς ὁποίας, τῇ χάριτι τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος, διετηρήθη τελικῶς ἡ ἑνότης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας (Πράξ. 15). Οὕτω, ἐνῷ ὁ Παῦλος ἦτο πεπεισμένος περί τῆς ὀρθότητος τῶν ἀπόψεών του, δέν ἠρκέσθη εἰς τήν ἐμμονήν του εἰς τήν ἀλήθειαν. Τό πάθος του διά τήν ἑνότητα τῆς Ἐκκλησίας τόν ὡδήγησεν εἰς τήν μόνην δυνατήν καί ἔγκυρον κατοχύρωσιν τῶν θέσεών του, ἡ ὁποία εὑρίσκεται εἰς τήν συνοδικήν ἀπόφασιν. Τοῦτο ἐτήρησεν ἡ Ἐκκλησία διά μέσου τῶν αἰώνων καθορίζουσα διά Συνόδων καί μόνον τί εἶναι ἀληθές καί τί αἱρετικόν. Μόνον εἰς τάς ἡμέρας μας παρατηρεῖται παρά τοῖς Ὀρθοδόξοις τό φαινόμενον ἄτομα ἤ ὁμάδες νά φωνασκοῦν ὑπέρ τῶν ἀπόψεών των εἰς πεῖσμα ἐνίοτε συνοδικῶν ἀποφάσεων τῶν Ἐκκλησιῶν. Ἀλλά, κατά τό παράδειγμα τοῦ Παύλου, ὡς καί διαχρονικῶς ὅλης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, τόσον ἡ ἀλήθεια ὅσον καί ἡ ἑνότης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, μόνον συνοδικῶς διασφαλίζονται. 7. Ἀλλά διά τόν Ἀπόστολον Παῦλον ἡ ἑνότης δέν εἶναι ἁπλῶς θέμα ἐσωτερικόν τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ἐάν ἐπιμένῃ τόσον πολύ εἰς τήν διατήρησίν της, εἶναι διότι ἡ ἐνότης τῆς Ἐκκλησίας συνδέεται ἀρρήκτως πρός τήν ἑνότητα ὅλης τῆς ἀνθρωπότητος. Ἡ Ἐκκλησία δέν ὑπάρχει διά τόν ἑαυτόν της, ἀλλά διά τόν ἄνθρωπον καί, ἔτι εὐρύτερον, διά τήν κτίσιν ὁλόκληρον. Ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος περιγράφει τόν Χριστόν ὡς τόν «δεύτερον» ἤ «ἔσχατον» Ἀδάμ, δηλαδή τήν ἀνθρωπότητα ἐν τῷ συνόλῳ της (Α Κορ. 15, 14 καί Ρωμ. 5, 14). Καί «ὥσπερ ἐν τῷ Ἀδάμ πάντες ἀποθνήσκουσιν, οὕτω καί ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ πάντες ζωοποιηθήσονται» (Α Κορ. 15, 22. Πρβλ. Ρωμ. 5, 19). Ὅπως εἰς τόν Ἀδάμ ὑπάρχει ἑνότης τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου γένους, οὕτω καί εἰς τόν Χριστόν, ἐν τῷ ὁποίῳ «ἀνακεφαλαιοῦνται» τά πάντα, «τά ἐπί τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καί τά ἐπί τῆς γῆς» (Ἐφ. 1, 10). Ὡς παρατηρεῖ ὁ ἱερός Χρυσόστομος, τό «ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι» σημαίνει ὅτι «μίαν κεφαλήν ἅπασιν ἐπέθηκε τό κατά σάρκα Χριστόν, καί ἀγγέλοις καί ἀνθρώποις [ ] τοῖς μέν τό κατά σάρκα, τοῖς δέ τόν Θεόν Λόγον [ ]πάντας ὑπό μίαν ἤγαγε κεφαλήν. Οὕτω γάρ ἄν γένοιτο ἕνωσις [ ] ἀκριβής καί συνάφεια» (Migne, PG 62, 16D). Ἀλλ ἡ «ἀνακεφαλαίωσις» αὕτη σύμπαντος τοῦ κόσμου ἐν Χριστῷ δέν νοεῖται διά τόν Ἀπόστολον Παῦλον ἐκτός τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Ὅπως ἐξηγεῖ εἰς τήν πρός Κολασσαεῖς ἐπιστολήν του (1, 16-18), ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ «ἐκτίσθη τά πάντα, τά ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καί τά ἐπί τῆς γῆς... καί τά πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκε», διότι ἀκριβῶς «αὐτός ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλή τοῦ σώματος, τῆς Ἐκκλησίας». «Καί αὐτόν ἔδωκεν (ὁ Θεός) κεφαλήν ὑπέρ πάντα τῇ Ἐκκλησίᾳ, ἥτις ἐστί τό σῶμα αὐτοῦ, τό πλήρωμα τοῦ τά πάντα ἐν πᾶσι πληρουμένου» (Ἐφ. 1, 22-23). Ὁ Χριστός, λοιπόν, εἶναι διά τόν Παῦλον κεφαλή τῶν πάντων, ὅλης τῆς ἀνθρωπότητος καί ὅλης τῆς κτίσεως, διότι εἶναι συγχρόνως κεφαλή τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Τό σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἡ Ἐκκλησία, δέν «πληροῦται», ἐάν δέν περιλάβῃ ἐν ἑαυτῷ ὅλον τόν κόσμον. Πολλά χρήσιμα δι ἡμᾶς συμπεράσματα δύνανται νά συναχθοῦν ἐκ τῆς ἐκκλησιολογίας ταύτης τοῦ Ἀποστόλου. Περιοριζόμεθα εἰς τό νά ἐπισημάνωμεν πρῶτον τήν σπουδαιότητα, τήν ὁποίαν ἔχει διά τήν ζωήν τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, καί εἰδικώτερον διά τήν διακονίαν πάντων ἡμῶν, τό χρέος τῆς ἱεραποστολῆς. Ὁ εὐαγγελισμός τοῦ λαοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἀλλά καί τῶν μή πιστευόντων εἰς Χριστόν, ἀποτελεῖ ὑπέρτατον χρέος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Τό χρέος τοῦτο, ὅταν δέν ἐκπληροῦται ἐπιθετικῶς, ὡς συνέβαινεν ἄλλοτε κυρίως ἐν τῷ δυτικῷ Χριστιανισμῷ, ἤ διά δολίων μέσων, ὡς συμβαίνει διά τῶν διαφόρων μορφῶν τοῦ προσηλυτισμοῦ, ἀλλ ἐν ἀγάπῃ, ταπεινοφροσύνῃ καί σεβασμῷ πρός τήν πολιτισμικήν ἰδιαιτερότητα κάθε ἀνθρώπου, ἀνταποκρίνεται πρός τήν ἐπιθυμίαν τοῦ Κυρίου ὅπως διά τῆς ἑνότητος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας «ὁ κόσμος πιστεύσῃ» εἰς Αὐτόν (Ἰωάν. 17, 21). Ὀφείλομεν, ὅθεν, νά ἐνθαρρύνωμεν καί στηρίξωμεν διά παντός μέσου τήν πρός τούς ἐκτός τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ἱεραποστολήν, ὅπου αὕτη ἀσκεῖται, ὡς συμβαίνει ἰδιαιτέρως ἐν τῷ κλίματι τοῦ Πατριαρχείου Ἀλεξανδρείας ἐν τῇ ἀπεράντῳ ἠπείρῳ τῆς Ἀφρικῆς. Ἀλλά καί ἐντός τῶν Ἐκκλησιῶν ἡμῶν ἡ ἀνάγκη καί τό χρέος τοῦ εὐαγγελισμοῦ τῶν ἀνθρώπων καθίσταται σήμερον ἐπιτακτική. Ὀφείλομεν νά συνειδητοποιήσωμεν ὅτι εἰς τάς συγχρόνους κοινωνίας, μάλιστα δέ εἰς τά πλαίσια τοῦ δυτικοῦ πολιτισμοῦ, ἡ εἰς Χριστόν πίστις πᾶν ἄλλο ἤ δεδομένη πλέον δέον νά θεωρῆται. Ἡ Ὀρθόδοξος θεολογία δέν δύναται σήμερον νά ἀναπτυχθῇ καί ἐπιτελέσῃ τό ἔργον της ἄνευ διαλόγου μετά τῶν συγχρόνων ρευμάτων φιλοσοφικοῦ καί κοινωνικοῦ στοχασμοῦ καί προβληματισμοῦ, ὡς καί τῶν διαφόρων μορφῶν τέχνης καί πολιτισμοῦ τῆς ἐποχῆς μας. Πρός τοῦτο, τό κήρυγμα καί ὁ πάσης μορφῆς λόγος τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας δέον νά μή εἶναι ἐπιθετικός, ὡς ἀτυχῶς κατά κανόνα συμβαίνει, διότι εἰς οὐδέν τοῦτο ὠφελεῖ, ἀλλά διαλεκτικός, διαλογικός καί διαλλακτικός. Ὀφείλομεν πρῶτον νά κατανοήσωμεν τούς ἄλλους καί νά ἀνεύρωμεν τάς βαθυτέρας ἀνησυχίας των, διότι ὄπισθεν καί αὐτῆς ἀκόμη τῆς ἀπιστίας κρύπτεται ἡ ἀναζήτησις τοῦ ἀληθινοῦ Θεοῦ. Τέλος, ἡ σύνδεσις τῆς ἑνότητος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας πρός τήν ἑνότητα τοῦ κόσμου, ἐπί τῆς ὁποίας ἐπιμένει ὁ Ἀπόστολος τῶν Ἐθνῶν, ἐπιβάλλει εἰς ἡμᾶς νά διαδραματίσωμεν ρόλον εἰρηνοποιόν εἰς τόν σπαρασσόμενον ἀπό ἀντιθέσεις κόσμον. Ἡ Ἐκκλησία δέν δύναται, δέν ἐπιτρέπεται, νά τροφοδοτῇ καθ οἱονδήποτε τρόπον, συνειδητῶς ἤ ἀσυνειδήτως, τόν θρησκευτικόν φανατισμόν. Ὅταν ὁ ζηλωτισμός καθίσταται φανατισμός, ἐκτρέπεται τῆς φύσεως τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, καί μάλιστα τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου. Ἀντιθέτως, δέον νά ἀναπτύξωμεν πρωτοβουλίας καταλλαγῆς ἐκεῖ ὅπου σοβοῦν ἤ ἐκσποῦν συγκρούσεις μεταξύ τῶν ἀνθρώπων. Ὁ διαχριστιανικός καί διαθρησκειακός διάλογος εἶναι τό ἐλάχιστον τοῦ χρέους ἡμῶν, καί δέον νά τό ἐκπληρώσωμεν. Ἀλλ ὁ σύγχρονος κόσμος μαστίζεται ἀτυχῶς καί ἀπό κρίσιν, ἡ ὁποία δέν περιορίζεται μόνον εἰς τάς μεταξύ τῶν ἀνθρώπων σχέσεις, ἀλλά ἐκτείνεται καί εἰς τήν σχέσιν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πρός τό φυσικόν του περιβάλλον. Κατά τόν Ἀπόστολον Παῦλον, ὡς ἤδη παρετηρήσαμεν, ὁ Χριστός ἀποτελεῖ κεφαλήν τῶν πάντων, ὁρατῶν τε καί ἀοράτων, ἤτοι πάσης τῆς κτίσεως, ἡ δέ Ἐκκλησία, ὡς τό σῶμα Αὐτοῦ, δέν ἑνοποιεῖ μόνον τήν ἀνθρωπότητα, ἀλλά καί ὅλην τήν κτίσιν. Πρόδηλον, συνεπῶς, τυγχάνει τό ὅτι ἡ Ἐκκλησία δέν δύναται νά παραμένῃ ἀδιάφορος ἔναντι τῆς κρίσεως, τήν ὁποίαν διέρχεται σήμερον ἡ σχέσις τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πρός τό φυσικόν του περιβάλλον. Χρέος ἡμῶν ἀποτελεῖ ἡ ἀνάπτυξις πάσης δυνατῆς πρωτοβουλίας, πρῶτον μέν πρός συνειδητοποίησιν ὑπό τοῦ ἰδίου ἡμῶν ποιμνίου τῆς ἀνάγκης σεβασμοῦ τῆς κτίσεως διά τῆς ἀποφυγῆς καταχρήσεως ἤ ἀλογίστου χρήσεως τῶν φυσικῶν πόρων, ὕστερον δέ πρός ἐνθάρρυνσιν πάσης προσπαθείας ἀποβλεπούσης εἰς τήν προστασίαν τῆς δημιουργίας τοῦ Θεοῦ. Διότι, ὡς ἀναγνωρίζεται ὑπό πάντων, τά αἴτια τῆς οἰκολογικῆς κρίσεως εἶναι βαθύτατα πνευματικά, ὀφειλόμενα κυρίως εἰς τήν ἀπληστίαν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καί τόν εὐδαιμονισμόν, ὁ ὁποῖος χαρακτηρίζει τόν
17 ΝΟΕΜΒΡΙΟΣ 2008 ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΣ ORTHODOX ΠΑΡΑΤΗΡΗΤΗΣ OBSERVER 17 πρός τήν Σύναξιν τῶν Προκαθημένων τῶν Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν σύγχρονον ἄνθρωπον. Ἡ Ὀρθόδοξος Ἐκκλησία μέ τήν μακράν ἀσκητικήν παράδοσιν καί τό λειτουργικόν της ἦθος δύναται νά συνεισφέρῃ τά μέγιστα εἰς τήν ἀντιμετώπισιν τῆς ἀπειλητικῆς πλέον διά τόν πλανήτην μας οἰκολογικῆς κρίσεως. Τοῦτο συναισθανόμενον τό Οἰκουμενικόν Πατριαρχεῖον ἤδη ἀπό τοῦ 1989, ἤτοι πρῶτον αὐτὸ ἐκ τοῦ χριστιανικοῦ κόσμου, διά Μηνύματος τοῦ ἀοιδίμου προκατόχου ἡμῶν Πατριάρχου Δημητρίου ὥρισε τήν 1ην Σεπτεμβρίου ἑκάστου ἔτους ὡς ἡμέραν προσευχῶν διά τήν προστασίαν τοῦ φυσικοῦ περιβάλλοντος, καί προέβη ἔκτοτε εἰς σειράν ἐνεργειῶν, ὡς ἡ διοργάνωσις διεθνῶν συμποσίων μεταξύ ἐπιστημόνων καί θρησκευτικῶν ἡγετῶν, πρός ἐξεύρεσιν τρόπων διαφυλάξεως τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀπό τήν ἐπαπειλουμένην καταστροφήν της. Εἰς τήν προσπάθειαν ταύτην τοῦ ἡμετέρου Πατριαρχείου καλοῦμεν καί παρακαλοῦμεν πάσας τάς ἀδελφάς Ὀρθοδόξους Ἐκκλησίας νά συστρατευθοῦν, διότι κοινόν τό χρέος καί ἡ εὐθύνη κοινή ἔναντι τοῦ Θεοῦ καί τῆς Ἱστορίας. 8. Καί τά νῦν, ἀγαπητοί ἐν Κυρίῳ ἀδελφοί, στρέψωμεν τήν σκέψιν ἡμῶν πρός τά ἐσώτερα τῆς καθ ἡμᾶς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας, τῆς ὁποίας τήν ἡγεσίαν ἐνεπιστεύθη εἰς ἡμᾶς τό ἔλεος τοῦ Κυρίου. Ἠλεήθημεν ὑπό τοῦ Κυρίου νά ἀνήκωμεν εἰς τήν Μίαν, Ἁγίαν, Καθολικήν καί Ἀποστολικήν Ἐκκλησίαν, τῆς ὁποίας πιστός συνεχιστής καί ἐκφραστής ἐν τῇ Ἱστορίᾳ εἶναι ἡ Ἁγία Ὀρθόδοξος ἡμῶν Ἐκκλησία. Παρελάβομεν καί διατηροῦμεν τήν ἀληθινήν πίστιν, ὡς τήν παρέδωκαν εἰς ἡμᾶς οἱ ἅγιοι Πατέρες διά τῶν Οἰκουμενικῶν Συνόδων τῆς μιᾶς ἀδιαιρέτου Ἐκκλησίας. Κοινωνοῦμεν τοῦ αὐτοῦ Σώματος καί Αἵματος τοῦ Κυρίου ἐν τῇ μιᾷ Θείᾳ Εὐχαριστίᾳ, καί μετέχομεν τῶν αὐτῶν Ἱερῶν Μυστηρίων. Τηροῦμεν κατά βάσιν τό αὐτό λειτουργικόν τυπικόν, καί διοικούμεθα ὑπό τῶν αὐτῶν Ἱερῶν Κανόνων. Ταῦτα πάντα διασφαλίζουν τήν ἑνότητα ἡμῶν, καί παρέχουν θεμελιώδεις προϋποθέσεις διά τήν μαρτυρίαν ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ συγχρόνῳ κόσμῳ. Παρά ταῦτα, ὀφείλομεν νά ὁμολογήσωμεν ἐν εἰλικρινείᾳ ὅτι ἐνίοτε παρέχομεν τήν εἰκόνα ἐλλιποῦς ἑνότητος ὡς νά μή εἴμεθα μία Ἐκκλησία, ἀλλά συνομοσπονδία ἤ ὁμοσπονδία Ἐκκλησιῶν. Τοῦτο ὀφείλεται ἐν πολλοῖς εἰς τόν θεσμόν τῆς αὐτοκεφαλίας, ὁ ὁποῖος χαρακτηρίζει τήν δομήν τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας. Ὁ θεσμός οὗτος ἀνάγεται, ὡς γνωστόν, εἰς τήν ἀρχαίαν Ἐκκλησίαν, ὅτε ἴσχυεν ἡ λεγομένη «Πενταρχία» τῶν παλαιφάτων Ἀποστολικῶν ἑδρῶν καί Ἐκκλησιῶν, ἤτοι τῆς Ρώμης, τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, τῆς Ἀλεξανδρείας, τῆς Ἀντιοχείας καί τῶν Ἱεροσολύμων, ἡ κοινωνία καί «συμφωνία» τῶν ὁποίων ἐξέφραζε τήν ἑνότητα τῆς καθόλου Ἐκκλησίας ἐν τῇ οἰκουμένῃ. Ἡ Πενταρχία αὕτη διεσπάσθη μετά τό τραγικόν Σχῖσμα τοῦ 1054 μ. Χ. μεταξύ Ρώμης καί Κωνσταντινουπόλεως ἀρχικῶς, καί κατ ἐπέκτασιν μεταξύ Ρώμης καί τῶν λοιπῶν Πατριαρχείων. Εἰς τά ἐναπομείναντα μετά τό Σχῖσμα τέσσαρα Ὀρθόδοξα Πατριαρχεῖα προσετέθησαν ἀπό τῶν μέσων τῆς δευτέρας χιλιετίας μέχρι σήμερον καί ἄλλαι αὐτοκέφαλοι Ἐκκλησίαι μέχρι τῆς κρατούσης σήμερον διαρθρώσεως τῆς ἀνά τόν κόσμον Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας. Ἀλλ ἐνῷ τό ἀρχικόν σύστημα τῆς Πενταρχίας ἐπήγαζεν ἐκ τοῦ σεβασμοῦ πρός τήν ἀποστολικότητα καί τήν ἰδιαιτερότητα τῶν παραδόσεων τῶν παλαιφάτων Πατριαρχείων, τό δέ αὐτοκέφαλον τῶν μετά ταῦτα Ἐκκλησιῶν ἐκ τοῦ σεβασμοῦ τῆς πολιτισμικῆς ταυτότητος τῶν λαῶν, εἰς τό ὅλον σύστημα τῆς αὐτοκεφαλίας παρεισέφρυσε κατά τούς νεωτέρους χρόνους, ἐκ κοσμικῶν ἐπιρροῶν, τό πνεῦμα τοῦ ἐθνοφυλετισμοῦ, ἤ καί ἔτι χεῖρον, τοῦ πολιτειακοῦ κρατισμοῦ, εἰς τρόπον ὥστε βάσιν τῆς αὐτοκεφαλίας νά ἀποτελῇ πλέον τό ἑκάστοτε κοσμικόν κράτος, τοῦ ὁποίου τά ὅρια, ὡς γνωστόν, δέν παραμένουν σταθερά, ἀλλ ἐξαρτῶνται ἐκ τῆς ἱστορικῆς συγκυρίας. Ἐφθάσαμεν οὕτως εἰς τήν ἀντίληψιν ὅτι ἡ Ὀρθοδοξία ἀποτελεῖ ὁμοσπονδίαν ἐθνικῶν Ἐκκλησιῶν, αἱ ὁποῖαι οὐχί σπανίως δίδουν προτεραιότητα εἰς τά ἐθνικά συμφέροντα εἰς τάς μεταξύ ἀλλήλων σχέσεις. Πρό τῆς εἰκόνος ταύτης, ἡ ὁποία ἐνθυμίζει πως τήν ἐν Κορίνθῳ κατάστασιν, ὅτε ἐγράφη ἡ Α πρός Κορινθίους ἐπιστολή, ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος θά ἠρώτα: μεμέρισται ἡ Ὀρθοδοξία; Τό ἐρώτημα τοῦτο τίθεται ὑπό πολλῶν παρατηρητῶν τῶν Ὀρθοδόξων πραγμάτων εἰς τάς ἡμέρας μας. Βεβαίως, ἡ ἀπάντησις εἰς τό ἐρώτημα τοῦτο, ἡ ὁποία συνήθως δίδεται, εἶναι ὅτι παρά τήν διοικητικήν κατάτμησιν ἡ Ὀρθοδοξία παραμένει ἡνωμένη ἐν τῇ πίστει, τοῖς Μυστηρίοις κ.λ.π. Ἀλλ εἶναι τοῦτο ἀρκετόν; Ὅταν ἐνώπιον τῶν μή Ὀρθοδόξων ἐμφανιζώμεθα ἐνίοτε διῃρημένοι εἰς τούς θεολογικούς διαλόγους καί ἀλλαχοῦ ἤ ὅταν ἀδυνατῶμεν νά προχωρήσωμεν εἰς τήν πραγματοποίησιν τῆς πρό πολλοῦ ἀναγγελθείσης Ἁγίας καί Μεγάλης Συνόδου τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας ἤ στερώμεθα μιᾶς ἑνιαίας φωνῆς ἔναντι τῶν συγχρόνων προβλημάτων καί, ἀντ αὐτοῦ, συγκροτῶμεν διμερεῖς διαλόγους ἐπί τῶν θεμάτων τούτων μετά τῶν μή Ὀρθοδόξων ἤ ὅταν ἀδυνατῶμεν νά συγκροτήσωμεν ἑνιαίαν Ὀρθόδοξον Ἐκκλησίαν ἐν τῇ λεγομένῃ Διασπορᾷ συμφώνως πρός τάς ἐκκλησιολογικάς καί κανονικάς ἀρχάς τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ἡμῶν πῶς δυνάμεθα νά ἀποφύγωμεν τήν εἰκόνα τοῦ μερισμοῦ τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας, καί δή καί ἐπί τῇ βάσει μή θεολογικῶν, κοσμικῶν κριτηρίων; Ἔχομεν, ὅθεν, ἀνάγκην περισσοτέρας ἑνότητος, ὥστε νά ἐμφανιζώμεθα πρός τούς ἔξω οὐχί ὡς ὁμοσπονδία Ἐκκλησιῶν, ἀλλ ὡς μία καί ἑνιαία Ἐκκλησία. Ὁ Θρόνος οὗτος διά μέσου τῶν αἰώνων, καί δή καί μετά τό Σχῖσμα, ὅτε ἡ Ἐκκλησία τῆς Ρώμης ἔπαυσε νά εὑρίσκεται ἐν κοινωνίᾳ μετά τῶν Ὀρθοδόξων, ἐκλήθη ἐκ τῆς κανονικῆς τάξεως νά διακονήσῃ τήν ἑνότητα τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας ὡς πρωτόθρονος αὐτῆς, ὅπερ καί ἔπραξε διαχρονικῶς συγκαλέσας σειράν ὅλην πανορθόδοξων Συνόδων ἐπί κρισίμων ἐκκλησιαστικῶν θεμάτων, ἕτοιμος δέ πάντοτε νά παράσχῃ τήν βοήθειαν καί συμπαράστασιν αὐτοῦ πρός ἐμπεριστάτους Ὀρθοδόξους Ἐκκλησίας, ὁσάκις τοῦτο ἐζητήθη ἀπ αὐτοῦ. Διεμορφώθη οὕτω μία κανονική τάξις, διά τῆς ὁποίας ὁ συντονιστικός ρόλος τοῦ Πατριαρχείου τούτου ἐξησφάλιζε τό ἑνιαῖον τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας, χωρίς τό παράπαν νά παραβλάπτηται ἤ μειῶται ἡ αὐτοτέλεια τῶν κατά τόπους αὐτοκεφάλων Ἐκκλησιῶν διά τινος ἐπεμβάσεως εἰς τά ἐσωτερικά αὐτῶν. Τοῦτο, ἄλλωστε, εἶναι τό ὑγιές νόημα τοῦ θεσμοῦ τῆς αὐτοκεφαλίας, ὅτι, ἐνῷ διασφαλίζει τό αὐτοδιοίκητον ἑκάστης Ἐκκλησίας ὡς πρός τήν ἐσωτερικήν αὐτῆς ζωήν καί ὀργάνωσιν, ἐπί θεμάτων ἁπτομένων τῆς ὅλης Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας καί τῶν πρός τούς ἐκτός αὐτῆς σχέσεών της ἑκάστη αὐτοκέφαλος Ἐκκλησία, δέν ἐνεργεῖ αὐτοτελῶς, ἀλλ ἐν συντονισμῷ μετά τῶν λοιπῶν Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν. Ἐάν ὁ συντονισμός οὗτος ἐκλείψῃ ἤ ἀτονίσῃ, ἡ αὐτοκεφαλία καθίσταται «αὐτοκεφαλισμός», τοὐτέστι παράγων διαιρέσεως καί οὐχί ἑνότητος τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας. Καλούμεθα, λοιπόν, προσφιλέστατοι ἐν Κυρίῳ ἀδελφοί, νά συμβάλωμεν διά παντός μέσου εἰς τήν ἑνότητα τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας, ὑπερβαίνοντες πάντα τοπικισμόν ἤ ἐθνικοφυλετικόν πειρασμόν ὥστε νά ἐνεργῶμεν ὡς ἑνιαία Ἐκκλησία, ὡς ἕν κανονικῶς συγκεκροτημένον σῶμα. Τοῦτο δέν εἶναι βεβαίως εὐχερές. Δέν διαθέτομεν, ὡς συνέβαινε κατά τήν Βυζαντινήν περίοδον, πολιτειακόν παράγοντα ἐγγυώμενον - ἤ ἐνίοτε καί ἐπιβάλλοντα - τήν ἑνότητα ἡμῶν. Οὐδέ ἐπιτρέπει ἡ ἐκκλησιολογία ἡμῶν συγκεντρωτικήν ἐξουσίαν δυναμένην νά ἐπιβάλῃ ἄνωθεν τήν ἑνότητα. Ἡ ἑνότης ἡμῶν ἐναπόκειται εἰς τήν συνείδησιν ἡμῶν. Ἡ συναίσθησις τῆς ἀνάγκης καί τοῦ χρέους ἡμῶν ὅπως ἀποτελῶμεν ἕν συγκεκροτημένον κανονικῶς σῶμα, μίαν Ἐκκλησίαν, εἶναι ἱκανή νά διασφαλίσῃ τήν ἑνότητα ἡμῶν, ἄνευ οἱασδήτινος ἔξωθεν ἐπεμβάσεως. Ταῦτα ἀναλογιζόμενοι, καί συναισθανόμενοι τό χρέος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ἡμῶν ἔναντι τοῦ Θεοῦ καί τῆς Ἱστορίας εἰς ἐποχήν, κατά τήν ὁποίαν ἡ ἡνωμένη μαρτυρίᾳ τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας κρίνεται ἀναγκαία καί ἀναμένεται ὑπό πάντων, καλοῦμεν καί παρακαλοῦμεν ἀδελφικῶς ὅπως τῇ ἐγκρίσει καί τῶν περί ἡμᾶς Ἱερῶν Συνόδων, προβῶμεν εἰς τάς ἀναγκαίας ἐνεργείας, ἵνα: α) Προωθηθῇ ἡ ἀρξαμένη διά Πανορθοδόξων προσυνοδικῶν Διασκέψεων προετοιμασία τῆς Ἁγίας καί Μεγάλης Συνόδου τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας. β) Ἐνεργοποιηθῇ ἡ ὑπό τῆς Διορθοδόξου Προπαρασκευαστικῆς Ἐπιτροπῆς τῆς Ἁγίας καί Μεγάλης Συνόδου τοῦ ἔτους 1993 συμφωνία διά τήν ἐπίλυσιν τοῦ ἐκκρεμοῦντος θέματος τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Διασπορᾶς. Σχετικῶς πρὸς τὰ θέματα ταῦτα, τὸ Οἰκουμενικὸν Πατριαρχεῖον, ἐν τῇ ἰδιότητι καὶ τῇ εὐθύνῃ αὐτοῦ ὡς συντονιστοῦ τῶν διορθοδόξων πραγμάτων, προτίθεται νὰ συγκαλέσῃ ἐντὸς τοῦ προσεχοῦς ἔτους 2009 Πανορθόδοξον Διάσκεψιν, εἰς τὴν ὁποίαν, συμφώνως πρὸς τὴν ἰσχύσασαν πρὸ τῶν Πανορθοδόξων Διασκέψεων τῆς Ρόδου τάξιν καὶ πρακτικήν, θὰ προσκαλέσῃ ἁπάσας τὰς Αὐτοκεφάλους Ἐκκλησίας. γ) Ἐνισχυθῇ διά περαιτέρω Θεολογικῶν δυνάμεων ἡ πανορθοδόξως ἀποφασισθεῖσα συμμετοχή τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας εἰς τούς διεξαγομένους θεολογικούς διαλόγους μετά τῶν μή Ὀρθοδόξων. δ) Διακηρυχθῇ καί αὖθις τό ζωηρόν ἐνδιαφέρον συνόλου τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας διά τό φλέγον καί ἐπεῖγον θέμα τῆς προστασίας τοῦ φυσικοῦ περιβάλλοντος, καί ὑποστηριχθῇ πανορθοδόξως ἡ σχετική πρωτοβουλία τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριαρχείου. ε) Συσταθῇ Διορθόδοξος Ἐπιτροπή πρός μελέτην τῶν ἀναφυομένων σήμερον ζητημάτων βιοηθικῆς, ἐπί τῶν ὁποίων ὁ κόσμος ἀναμένει δεδικαιολογημένως καί τήν τοποθέτησιν τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας. Ἐπὶ τοῦ σημείου τούτου ὑπενθυμίζομεν εἰς τὴν σεβαστὴν ὁμήγυριν, ὅτι πρὸ τινων ἐτῶν τὸ Οἰκουμενικὸν Πατριαρχεῖον εἶχε προτείνει δι ἐπισήμων Γραμμάτων αὐτοῦ εἰς τὰς ἀδελφὰς Ὀρθοδόξους Ἐκκλησίας νὰ ὁρίσουν ἀνὰ ἕνα εἰδικὸν ἐκπρόσωπόν των, ὥστε νὰ σχηματισθῇ μία τοιαύτη Διορθόδοξος Ἐπιτροπὴ Βιοηθικῆς, ἀλλ ἐλάχισται μόνον ἀπήντησαν. Θὰ ἐπανέλθωμεν ἐπ αὐτοῦ πρὸς ὑμᾶς λίαν προσεχῶς καί παρακαλοῦμεν ἀπὸ τοῦδε ὅπως μὴ ἀμελήσητε νὰ ἀνταποκριθῆτε, ὥστε ἡ Διορθόδοξος αὕτη Ἐπιτροπὴ νὰ σχηματισθῇ καὶ νὰ ἐπιληφθῇ τοῦ ἔργου της. Τάς προτάσεις ταύτας ἐκρίναμε καλόν νά θέσωμεν ὑπ ὄψιν ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ ἡμῶν ὅπως ἡ παροῦσα Σύναξις, σύν τῇ ἀνταλλαγῇ γενικωτέρων σκέψεων, καταλήξῃ καί εἰς συγκεκριμένας ἀποφάσεις, διά τῶν ὁποίων θά ἐκφρασθῇ καί ἐν τῇ πράξει ἡ ἑνότης τῆς ἡμετέρας Ἐκκλησίας. Τοῦτο, ἄλλωστε, ἀναμένει ἐξ ἡμῶν καί ἡ κοινή γνώμη, τόσον τῶν ἡμετέρων ποιμνίων, ὅσον καί τοῦ περιβάλλοντος ἡμᾶς κόσμου. Εἰς τάς προτάσεις ταύτας δύνασθε, βεβαίως, νά προσθέσητε καί ἄλλας, ἐάν κρίνητε τοῦτο ἀναγκαῖον, Μακαριώτατοι καί Ἱερώτατοι ἀδελφοί. Κατακλείοντες τήν εἰσήγησιν ἡμῶν ἐκφράζομεν καί αὖθις δοξολογίαν τῷ Παναγάθῳ Θεῷ, διότι ἠξίωσεν ἡμᾶς νά συνέλθωμεν ἐπί τό αὐτό ἐν τῷ πλαισίῳ τῶν Παυλείων ἑορτασμῶν, εὐχόμενοι ὅπως ἡ ἐν Κυρίῳ ἀδελφική ἀναστροφή ἡμῶν κατά τάς ἡμέρας ταύτας ἑνώσῃ ἡμᾶς ἔτι μᾶλλον ἐν τῷ συνδέσμῳ τῆς ἀγάπης. «Τῷ δέ δυναμένῳ ὑπέρ πάντα ποιῆσαι ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ ὧν αἰτούμεθα ἤ νοοῦμεν, κατά τήν δύναμιν τήν ἐνεργουμένην ἐν ἡμῖν, αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα ἐν τῇ Ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ» (Ἐφεσίους 3, 20-21). Ἀμήν.
18 18 ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΣ ΠΑΡΑΤΗΡΗΤΗΣ ΝΟΕΜΒΡΙΟΣ 2008 ΜΗΝΥΜΑ ΤΩΝ ΠΡΟΚΑΘΗΜΕΝΩΝ ΤΩΝ ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΩΝ ΕΚΚΛΗΣΙΩΝ Εἰς τό ὄνομα τοῦ Πατρός καί τοῦ Υἱοῦ καί τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος. 1. Διά τῆς Χάριτος τοῦ Θεοῦ οἱ Προκαθήμενοι καί οἱ Ἀντιπρόσωποι τῶν κατά τόπους Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν συνήλθομεν ἀπό 10 ης ἕως 12 ης Ὀκτωβρίου 2008 εἰς Φανάριον τῇ προσκλήσει καί ὑπό τήν προεδρίαν τοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν Πρώτου, τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριάρχου Βαρθολομαίου, ἐπί τῇ ἀνακηρύξει τοῦ ἔτους τούτου ὡς ἔτους τοῦ ἀποστόλου τῶν Ἐθνῶν Παύλου. Μετ ἀδελφικῆς ἀγάπης διεβουλεύθημεν ἐπί τῶν ἀπασχολούντων τήν Ὀρθόδοξον Ἐκκλησίαν θεμάτων, συμμετασχόντες δέ εἰς τάς ἐπί τῷ γεγονότι τούτῳ ἑορταστικάς ἐκδηλώσεις, ἐτελέσαμεν ἀπό κοινοῦ τήν Θείαν Εὐχαριστίαν ἐν τῷ Πανσέπτῳ Πατριαρχικῷ Ναῷ τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Θρόνου, σήμερον, τήν 12 ην Ὀκτωβρίου 2008, Κυριακήν τῶν Ἁγίων Πατέρων τῆς ἐν Νικαίᾳ Ζ Οἰκουμενικῆς Συνόδου. Κατ αὐτάς τάς ἡμέρας ἐνισχύθημεν διά τῆς ἀληθείας τῶν δωρεῶν τῆς θείας προνοίας πρός τόν Ἀπόστολον τῶν Ἐθνῶν, διά τῶν ὁποίων οὗτος ἀνεδείχθη εἰς ὑπέροχον «σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς» (Πράξ. 9,15) τοῦ Θεοῦ καί λαμπρόν πρότυπον ἀποστολικῆς διακονίας τοῦ ἐκκλησιαστικοῦ σώματος. Τόν Ἀπόστολον τοῦτον τιμῶσα κατά τό τρέχον σωτήριον ἔτος σύμπασα ἡ Ὀρθόδοξος Ἐκκλησία, προβάλλει ὡς πρότυπον πρός τό πλήρωμα αὐτῆς διά τήν σύγχρονον μαρτυρίαν τῆς πίστεως ἡμῶν πρός τούς ἐγγύς καί τούς μακράν (Ἐφ. 2,17). 2. Ἡ Ὀρθόδοξος Ἐκκλησία, ἔχουσα τήν συνείδησιν τῆς αὐθεντικῆς ἑρμηνείας τῆς διδασκαλίας τοῦ ἀποστόλου τῶν ἐθνῶν εἰς εἰρηνικούς καί χαλεπούς καιρούς τῆς δισχιλιετοῦς ἱστορικῆς πορείας αὐτῆς, δύναται καί ὀφείλει νά προβάλλῃ εἰς τόν σύγχρονον κόσμον τήν διδασκαλίαν ὄχι μόνον περί τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ ἀποκαταστάσεως τῆς ἑνότητος ὁλοκλήρου τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου γένους, ἀλλά καί περί τῆς παγκοσμιότητος τοῦ λυτρωτικοῦ ἔργου Αὐτοῦ, διά τοῦ ὁποίου ὑπερβαίνονται πᾶσαι αἱ διασπάσεις τοῦ κόσμου καί βεβαιοῦται ἡ κοινή φύσις πάντων τῶν ἀνθρώπων. Ἐν τούτοις, ἡ ἀξιόπιστος προβολή τοῦ λυτρωτικοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνύματος προϋποθέτει τήν ὑπέρβασιν καί τῶν ἐσωτερικῶν ἀντιπαραθέσεων τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας διά τῆς ἐκτονώσεως τῶν ἐθνικιστικῶν, ἐθνοφυλετικῶν ἤ ἰδεολογικῶν παροξυσμῶν, διότι μόνον οὕτως ὁ λόγος τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας θά εὕρῃ τήν δέουσαν ἀπήχησιν εἰς τόν σύγχρονον κόσμον. 3. Ἐμπνεόμενοι ἀπό τήν διδασκαλίαν καί τό ἔργον τοῦ Ἀποστόλου Παύλου, ἐπισημαίνομεν κατ ἀρχάς τήν σπουδαιότητα, τήν ὁποίαν ἔχει διά τήν ζωήν τῆς Ἐκκλησίας καί, εἰδικώτερον, διά τήν διακονίαν πάντων ἡμῶν, τό χρέος τῆς Ἱεραποστολῆς, συμφώνως πρός τήν τελευταίαν ἐντολήν τοῦ Κυρίου: καί ἔσεσθέ μοι μάρτυρες ἔν τε τῇ Ἱερουσαλήμ καί πάσῃ τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ καί Σαμαρείᾳ καί ἕως ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς (Πράξ. 1, 8). Ὁ εὐαγγελισμός τοῦ λαοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἀλλά καί τῶν μή πιστευόντων εἰς Χριστόν, ἀποτελεῖ ὑπέρτατον χρέος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Τοῦτο τό χρέος δέν πρέπει νά ἐκπληροῦται ἐπιθετικῶς ἤ διά διαφόρων μορφῶν προσηλυτισμοῦ, ἀλλ ἐν ἀγάπῃ, ταπεινοφροσύνῃ καί σεβασμῷ πρός τήν ταυτότητα ἑκάστου ἀνθρώπου καί τήν πολιτισμικήν ἰδιαιτερότητα ἑκάστου λαοῦ. Εἰς τήν ἱεραποστολικήν αὐτήν προσπάθειαν ὀφείλουν νά συμβάλλουν πᾶσαι αἱ Ὀρθόδοξοι Ἐκκλησίαι μέ σεβασμόν εἰς τήν κανονικήν τάξιν. 4. Ἡ Ἐκκλησία τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἀσκεῖ σήμερον τὴν διακονίαν αὐτῆς εἰς ἕνα ταχύτατα ἐξελισσόμενον κόσμον, ὁ ὁποῖος καθίσταται πλέον ἀλληλένδετος χάρις εἰς τὰ μέσα ἐπικοινωνίας καί τὴν ἐξέλιξιν τῶν συγκοινωνιακῶν μέσων καὶ τῆς τεχνολογίας. Παραλλήλως, ὅμως, αὐξάνεται καί τό μέγεθος τῆς ἀποξενώσεως, τῶν διαιρέσεων καί τῶν συγκρούσεων. Οἱ χριστιανοί ἐπισημαίνουν ὅτι πηγή αὐτῆς τῆς καταστάσεως εἶναι ἡ ἀπομάκρυνσις τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀπό τόν Θεόν. Καμμία μετατροπή τῶν κοινωνικῶν δομῶν καί τῶν κανόνων συμπεριφορᾶς δέν εἶναι ἱκανή νά θεραπεύσῃ τήν κατάστασιν αὐτήν. Ἡ Ἐκκλησία ὑποδεικνύει συνεχῶς ὅτι ἡ ἁμαρτία ἠμπορεῖ νά καταπολεμηθῇ μόνον διά τῆς συνεργίας τοῦ Θεοῦ καί τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. 5. Ὑπὸ τοιαύτας συνθήκας, ἡ σύγχρονος μαρτυρία τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας διά τά συνεχῶς διογκούμενα προβλήματα τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καί τοῦ κόσμου καθίσταται ἐπιτακτική, ὄχι μόνον διά τήν ἐπισήμανσιν τῶν προκαλούντων αὐτά αἰτίων, ἀλλά καί διά τήν ἄμεσον ἀντιμετώπισιν τῶν παρεπομένων τραγικῶν συνεπειῶν των. Αἱ ποικίλαι ἐθνικιστικαί, φυλετικαί, ἰδεολογικαί καί θρησκευτικαί ἀντιθέσεις τροφοδοτοῦν συνεχῶς ἐπικινδύνους συγχύσεις ὄχι μόνον ὡς πρός τήν ἀδιαμφισβήτητον ὀντολογικήν ἑνότητα τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου γένους, ἀλλά καί ὡς πρός τήν σχέσιν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πρός τήν θείαν δημιουργίαν. Ἡ ἱερότης τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου προσώπου συμπιέζεται εἰς ἐπί μέρους διεκδικήσεις τοῦ «ἀτόμου», ἐνῷ ἡ σχέσις αὐτοῦ πρός τήν λοιπήν θείαν δημιουργίαν ὑποτάσσεται εἰς τήν χρηστικήν ἤ καί καταχρηστικήν αὐθαιρεσίαν του. Αἱ διασπάσεις αὐταί τοῦ κόσμου εἰσάγουν ἄδικον ἀνισότητα συμμετοχῆς ἀνθρώπων ἤ καί λαῶν εἰς τά ἀγαθά τῆς Δημιουργίας στεροῦν δισεκατομμύρια ἀνθρώπων τῶν βασικῶν ἀγαθῶν καί ὁδηγοῦν εἰς ἐξαθλίωσιν τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης προσωπικότητος προκαλοῦν μαζικάς μεταναστεύσεις πληθυσμῶν, διεγείρουν ἐθνικιστικάς, θρησκευτικάς καί κοινωνικάς διακρίσεις καί συγκρούσεις, καί ἀπειλοῦν τήν παραδοσιακήν ἐσωτερικήν συνοχήν τῶν κοινωνιῶν. Αἱ συνέπειαι αὐταί εἶναι ἐπαχθέστεραι, διότι συνδέονται ἀρρήκτως πρός τήν καταστροφήν τοῦ φυσικοῦ περιβάλλοντος καί τοῦ ὅλου οἰκοσυστήματος. 6. Οἱ Ὀρθόδοξοι χριστιανοί συμμερίζονται μετά τῶν ἄλλων, θρησκευομένων ἤ μή ἀνθρώπων τοῦ πλανήτου, τήν εὐθύνην διὰ τὴν σύγχρονον κρίσιν, διότι ἠνέχθησαν ἤ συνεβιβάσθησαν ἀκρίτως καί πρός ἀκραίας ἐπιλογάς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου χωρίς τήν ἀξιόπιστον ἀντιπαράθεσιν πρός αὐτάς τοῦ λόγου τῆς πίστεως. Ἔχουν, συνεπῶς, καί αὐτοί μείζονα ὑποχρέωσιν νά συμβάλλουν εἰς τήν ὑπέρβασιν τῶν διασπάσεων τοῦ κόσμου. Ἡ χριστιανική διδασκαλία διά τήν ὀντολογικήν ἑνότητα τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου γένους καί τῆς θείας δημιουργίας, ὡς αὕτη ἐκφράζεται διά τοῦ ὅλου μυστηρίου τοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ ἀπολυτρωτικοῦ ἔργου, ἀποτελεῖ θεμελιώδη βάσιν διά τήν ἑρμηνείαν τῆς σχέσεως τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πρός τόν Θεόν καί τόν κόσμον. 7. Αἱ προσπάθειαι παραμερισμοῦ τῆς θρησκείας ἀπό τήν κοινωνικήν ζωήν ἀποτελοῦν κοινήν τάσιν πολλῶν συγχρόνων κρατῶν. Ἡ ἀρχή τῆς κοσμικότητος τοῦ κράτους δύναται μέν νά διατηρῆται, εἶναι ὅμως ἀνεπίτρεπτος ἡ ἑρμηνεία αὐτῆς ὡς ριζικῆς περιθωριοποιήσεως τῆς θρησκείας ἀπό ὅλας τάς σφαίρας τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ λαοῦ. 8. Τό χάσμα μεταξύ πλουσίων καί πτωχῶν διευρύνεται δραματικῶς ἐξ αἰτίας τῆς οἰκονομικῆς κρίσεως, ἡ ὁποία εἶναι συνήθως ἀποτέλεσμα μανιακῆς κερδοσκοπίας ἐκ μέρους οἰκονομικῶν παραγόντων καί στρεβλῆς οἰκονομικῆς δραστηριότητος, ἡ ὁποία, στερουμένη ἀνθρωπολογικῆς διαστάσεως καί εὐαισθησίας, δέν ἐξυπηρετεῖ, τελικῶς, τάς πραγματικάς ἀνάγκας τῆς ἀνθρωπότητος. Βιώσιμος οἰκονομία εἶναι ἐκείνη, ἡ ὁποία συνδυάζει τήν ἀποτελεσματικότητα μέ τήν δικαιοσύνην καί τήν κοινωνικήν ἀλληλεγγύην. 9. Ὡς πρός τό θέμα τῶν σχέσεων τῆς χριστιανικῆς πίστεως καί τῶν θετικῶν ἐπιστημῶν ἡ Ὀρθόδοξος Ἐκκλησία ἔχει ἀποφύγει νά ἐπιζητῇ τήν κηδεμονίαν τῆς ἐξελίξεως τῆς ἐπιστημονικῆς ἀναζητήσεως καί νά λαμβάνῃ θέσιν ἐπί παντός ἐπιστημονικοῦ ἐρωτήματος. Διά τήν Ὀρθόδοξον ἀντίληψιν ἡ ἐλευθερία τῆς ἐρεύνης ἀποτελεῖ θεόσδοτον δῶρον εἰς τόν ἄνθρωπον. Συγχρόνως, ὅμως, πρός αὐτήν τήν κατάφασιν, ἡ Ὀρθοδοξία ἐπισημαίνει τούς κινδύνους, οἱ ὁποῖοι ὑποκρύπτονται εἰς ὡρισμένα ἐπιστημονικά ἐπιτεύγματα, τά ὅρια τῆς ἐπιστημονικῆς γνώσεως καί τήν ὕπαρξιν μιᾶς ἄλλης γνώσεως, ἡ ὁποία δέν ὑπάγεται ἀμέσως εἰς τό ἐπιστημονικόν πεδίον. Ἡ γνῶσις αὐτή ἀποδεικνύεται πολλαπλῶς ἀπαραίτητος διά τήν ὀρθήν ὁριοθέτησιν τῆς ἐλευθερίας καί τήν ἀξιοποίησιν τῶν καρπῶν τῆς ἐπιστήμης διά τοῦ περιορισμοῦ τοῦ ἐγωκεντρισμοῦ καί τοῦ σεβασμοῦ τῆς ἀξίας τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου προσώπου. 10. Ἡ Ὀρθόδοξος Ἐκκλησία φρονεῖ ὅτι ἡ τεχνολογική καί οἰκονομική πρόοδος δέν ἐπιτρέπεται νά ὁδηγοῦν εἰς τήν καταστροφήν τοῦ περιβάλλοντος καί τήν ἐξάντλησιν τῶν φυσικῶν πόρων. Ἡ ἀπληστία διά τήν ἱκανοποίησιν τῶν ὑλικῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν ὁδηγεῖ εἰς τήν πτώχευσιν τῆς ψυχῆς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καί τοῦ περιβάλλοντος. Δέν πρέπει νά λησμονῆται ὅτι ὁ φυσικός πλοῦτος τῆς γῆς δέν εἶναι μόνον περιουσία τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἀλλά, πρωτίστως, δημιουργία τοῦ Θεοῦ: «τοῦ Κυρίου ἡ γῆ καί τό πλήρωμα αὐτῆς, ἡ οἰκουμένη καί πάντες οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐν αὐτῇ» (Ψαλ. 23, 1). Ὀφείλομεν νά ἐνθυμώμεθα ὅτι, ὄχι μόνον αἱ σημεριναί, ἀλλά καί αἱ μελλοντικαί γενεαί ἔχουν δικαίωμα ἐπί τῶν φυσικῶν ἀγαθῶν, τά ὁποῖα μᾶς ἔδωσε ὁ Δημιουργός. 11. Ὑποστηρίζοντες σταθερῶς πᾶσαν εἰρηνικήν προσπάθειαν δικαίας λύσεως τῶν ἀναφυομένων συγκρούσεων, χαιρετίζομεν τήν στάσιν τῶν Ἐκκλησιῶν Ρωσίας καί Γεωργίας κατά τήν περίοδον τῆς προφάτου πολεμικῆς συρράξεως καί τήν ἀδελφικήν συνεργασίαν αὐτῶν. Αἱ δύο Ἐκκλησίαι ἐπετέλεσαν κατ αὐτόν τρόπον τό χρέος τῆς διακονίας τῆς καταλλαγῆς. Ἐλπίζομεν ὅτι αἱ ἀμοιβαῖαι ἐκκλησιαστικαί προσπάθειαι θά συμβάλουν εἰς τήν ὑπέρβασιν τῶν τραγικῶν συνεπειῶν τῶν στρατιωτικῶν ἐπιχειρήσεων καί τήν ταχυτέραν συμφιλίωσιν τῶν λαῶν. 12. Εἰς τήν διογκουμένην σύγχυσιν τῆς ἐποχῆς μας ὁ θεσμός τῆς οἰκογενείας καί τοῦ γάμου ἀντιμετωπίζει κρίσιν. Ἡ Ἐκκλησία ἐν πνεύματι κατανοήσεως τῶν νέων συνθέτων κοινωνικῶν συνθηκῶν ὀφείλει νά ἀναζητήσῃ τρόπους πνευματικῆς συμπαραστάσεως καί γενικωτέρας ἐνισχύσεως τῶν νέων καί πολυμελῶν οἰκογενειῶν. Ἰδιαιτέρως στρέφομεν τήν σκέψιν ἡμῶν πρός τούς νέους, διά νά τούς καλέσωμεν νά μετέχουν ἐνεργῶς τόσον εἰς τήν λατρευτικήν καί ἁγιαστικήν ζωήν, ὅσον καί εἰς τό ἱεραποστολικόν καί κοινωνικόν ἔργον τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, μεταφέροντες εἰς αὐτήν τούς προβληματισμούς καί τάς προσδοκίας αὐτῶν, δεδομένου ὅτι ἀποτελοῦν ὄχι μόνον τό μέλλον, ἀλλά καί τό παρόν τῆς Ἐκκλησίας. 13. Οἱ Προκαθήμενοι καί οἱ Ἀντιπρόσωποι τῶν Ἁγιωτάτων Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν ἔχοντες πλήρη ἐπίγνωσιν τῆς σοβαρότητος τῶν ἀνωτέρω προβλημάτων καί ἀγωνιζόμενοι διά τήν ἄμεσον ἀντιμετώπισίν των ὡς ὑπηρέται Χριστοῦ καί οἰκονόμοι μυστηρίων Θεοῦ (Α Κορ. 4, 1), διακηρύττομεν ἐξ αὐτῆς τῆς ἕδρας τῆς Πρωτοθρόνου Ἐκκλησίας καί ἐπαναβεβαιοῦμεν: α) Τήν ἀταλάντευτον θέσιν καί ὑποχρέωσιν ἡμῶν πρός διασφάλισιν τῆς ἑνότητος τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας ἐν τῇ «ἅπαξ παραδοθείσῃ τοῖς ἁγίοις πίστει» (Ἰούδα 3) τῶν Πατέρων ἡμῶν, τῇ αὐτῇ κοινῇ Θείᾳ Εὐχαριστίᾳ, καί τῇ πιστῇ τηρήσει τοῦ κανονικοῦ συστήματος διακυβερνήσεως τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, διά τῆς ἐν πνεύματι ἀγάπης καί εἰρήνης διευθετήσεως τῶν ἑκάστοτε τυχόν ἀναφυομένων προβλημάτων εἰς τάς πρός ἀλλήλους σχέσεις ἡμῶν. β) Τήν βούλησιν ἡμῶν διά τήν ταχεῖαν θεραπείαν πάσης κανονικῆς ἀνωμαλίας προελθούσης ἐξ ἱστορικῶν συγκυριῶν καί ποιμαντικῶν ἀναγκῶν, ὡς ἐν τῇ λεγομένῃ Ὀρθοδόξῳ Διασπορᾷ, ἐπί τῷ τέλει τῆς ὑπερβάσεως πάσης τυχόν ξένης πρός τήν Ὀρθόδοξον ἐκκλησιολογίαν ἐπιρροῆς. Πρός τοῦτο, χαιρετίζομεν τήν πρότασιν τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριαρχείου νά συγκαλέσῃ διά τό θέμα τοῦτο, ὡς καί διά τήν συνέχισιν τῆς προετοιμασίας τῆς Ἁγίας καί Μεγάλης Συνόδου, Πανορθοδόξους Διασκέψεις ἐντός τοῦ προσεχοῦς ἔτους 2009, εἰς τάς ὁποίας, συμφώνως πρός τήν ἰσχύσασαν πρό τῶν Πανορθοδόξων Διασκέψεων τῆς Ρόδου τάξιν καί πρακτικήν, θά προσκαλέσῃ ἁπάσας τάς Αὐτοκεφάλους Ἐκκλησίας. γ) Τήν ἐπιθυμίαν ἡμῶν ὅπως, παρά τάς οἱασδήποτε δυσκολίας, συνεχίσωμεν τούς θεολογικούς διαλόγους μετά τῶν λοιπῶν Χριστιανῶν, ὡς καί τούς διαθρησκειακούς διαλόγους, ἰδιαιτέρως μετά τοῦ Ἰουδαϊσμοῦ καί τοῦ Ἰσλάμ, δοθέντος ὅτι ὁ διάλογος ἀποτελεῖ τόν μόνον τρόπον ἐπιλύσεως τῶν μεταξύ τῶν ἀνθρώπων διαφορῶν, ἰδιαιτέρως εἰς μίαν ἐποχήν, ὡς ἡ σημερινή, κατά τήν ὁποίαν αἱ παντοῖαι διαιρέσεις, περιλαμβανομένων καί ἐκείνων ἐν ὀνόματι τῆς θρησκείας, ἀπειλοῦν τήν εἰρήνην καί ἑνότητα τῶν ἀνθρώπων. δ) Τήν ὑποστήριξιν ἡμῶν πρός τάς πρωτοβουλίας τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριαρχείου, καθώς καί ἄλλων Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν, διά τήν προστασίαν τοῦ φυσικοῦ περιβάλλοντος. Ἡ σημερινή οἰκολογική κρίσις, ὡς ὀφειλομένη καί εἰς πνευματικούς καί ἠθικούς λόγους, καθιστᾷ ἐπιτακτικόν τό χρέος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ὅπως συμβάλῃ διά τῶν εἰς τήν διάθεσιν αὐτῆς πνευματικῶν μέσων, εἰς τήν προστασίαν τῆς δημιουργίας τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐκ τῶν συνεπειῶν τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης ἀπληστίας. Πρός τοῦτο ἐπαναβεβαιοῦμεν τόν καθορισμόν τῆς 1ης Σεπτεμβρίου, πρώτης ἡμέρας τοῦ ἐκκλησιαστικοῦ ἔτους, ὡς ἡμέρας εἰδικῶν προσευχῶν διά τήν προστασίαν τῆς δημιουργίας τοῦ Θεοῦ, καί ὑποστηρίζομεν τήν εἰσαγωγήν τοῦ θέματος τοῦ φυσικοῦ περιβάλλοντος εἰς τήν κατηχητικήν, κηρυγματικήν καί ἐν γένει ποιμαντικήν δρᾶσιν τῶν Ἐκκλησιῶν ἡμῶν, ὡς τοῦτο ἤδη συμβαίνει εἰς ὡρισμένας ἐξ αὐτῶν. ε) Τήν ἀπόφασιν ὅπως προβῶμεν εἰς τάς ἀναγκαίας ἐνεργείας, ἵνα συσταθῇ Διορθόδοξος Ἐπιτροπή πρός μελέτην τῶν θεμάτων βιοηθικῆς, ἐπί τῶν ὁποίων ὁ κόσμος ἀναμένει καί τήν τοποθέτησιν τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας. Ταῦτα ἀπευθύνοντες πρός τόν ἀνά τόν κόσμον Ὀρθόδοξον λαόν καί τήν οἰκουμένην, εὐχόμεθα ἔτι καί ἔτι ἡ εἰρήνη, ἡ δικαιοσύνη καί ἀγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ νά ἐπικρατήσουν τελικῶς εἰς τήν ζωήν τῶν ἀνθρώπων. Τῷ δέ δυναμένῳ ὑπέρ πάντα ποιῆσαι ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ ὧν αἰτούμεθα ἤ νοοῦμεν, κατά τήν δύναμιν τήν ἐνεργουμένην ἐν ἡμῖν, αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα ἐν τῇ Ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (Ἐφεσίους 3,20-21). Ἀμήν. Ἐν Φαναρίῳ, τῇ 12ῃ Ὀκτωβρίου Ὁ Κωνσταντινουπόλεως Βαρθολομαῖος Ὁ Ἀλεξανδρείας Θεόδωρος Ὁ Ἀντιοχείας Ἰγνάτιος Ὁ Ἱεροσολύμων Θεόφιλος Ὁ Μόσχας Ἀλέξιος Ὁ Μαυροβουνίου Ἀμφιλόχιος (ἐκπροσώπου τῆς Ἐκκλησίας Σερβίας) Ὁ Τρανσυλβανίας Λαυρέντιος (ἐκπρ. τῆς Ἐκκλησίας Ρουμανίας) Ὁ Βιδινίου Δομετιανός (ἐκπρ. τῆς Ἐκκλησίας Βουλγαρίας) Ὁ Ζουκδίδι Γεράσιμος (ἐκπρ. τῆς Ἐκκλησίας Γεωργίας) Ὁ Κύπρου Χρυσόστομος Ὁ Ἀθηνῶν Ἱερώνυμος Ὁ Βρότσλαβ Ἱερεμίας (ἐκπρ. τῆς Ἐκκλησίας Πολωνίας) Ὁ Τιράνων Ἀναστάσιος Ὁ Τσεχίας & Σλοβακίας Χριστοφόρος
19 NOVEMBER Synaxis of the Heads of All Orthodox Churches and the existence of another knowledge that does not immediately fall with the scope of science. This other knowledge proves in many ways to be necessary for establishing the proper boundaries of freedom, and utilizing the fruits of science by the restraint of egocentrism and respect for the value of the human person. 10. The Orthodox Church believes that technological and economic progress should not lead to the destruction of the environment and the exhaustion of natural resources. Greed to satisfy material desires leads to the impoverishment of the human soul and the environment. We must not forget that the natural riches of the earth are not only man s property, but primarily God s creation: The earth is the Lord s and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein (Ps.23:1). We ought to remember that not only today s generation, but also future generations are entitled to have a right to the resources of nature, which the Creator has granted us. 11. In firmly supporting every peaceful effort for just solutions to conflicts that arise, we salute the position of the Churches of Russia and Georgia and their fraternal cooperation during the period of recent military conflict. In this way, the two Churches fulfilled the obligation to the ministry of reconciliation. We hope that their mutual ecclesiastical efforts will contribute to overcoming the tragic consequences of military operations and the swift reconcilement of the peoples. 12. In the ever-growing confusion of our times, the institution of family and marriage faces a crisis. In a spirit of understanding the new complex social condition, the Church is obliged to find ways to spiritually support and generally encourage the young and large families. We turn our thoughts especially to the young people, in order to call them to actively participate both in the sacramental and sanctifying life, as well as in the missionary and social work of the Church, transferring their problems and their expectations to the Church, since they constitute not only its future, but also its present. 13. As Primates and the Representatives of the Most Holy Orthodox Churches, fully aware of the gravity of the aforementioned problems, and laboring to confront them directly as servants of Christ and stewards of God s mysteries (1 Cor. 4:1), we proclaim from this See of the First-throne among the Churches and we re-affirm: our unswerving position and obligation to safeguard the unity of the Orthodox Church in the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), the faith of our Fathers, in the common Divine Eucharist and in the faithful observance of the canonical system of Church governance by settling any problems that arise from time to time in relations among us with a spirit of love and peace. our desire for the swift healing of every canonical anomaly that has arisen from historical circumstances and pastoral requirements, such as in the so-called Orthodox Diaspora, with a view to overcoming every possible influence that is foreign to Orthodox ecclesiology. In this respect we welcome the proposal by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to convene Panorthodox Consultations within the coming year 2009 on this subject, as well as for the continuation of preparations for the Holy and Great Council. In accordance with the standing order and practice of the Panorthodox Consultations in Rhodes, it will invite all Autocephalous Churches. our desire to continue, despite any difficulties, the theological dialogues with other Christians, as well as the interreligious dialogues, especially with Judaism and Islam, given that dialogue constitutes the only way of solving differences among people, especially in a time like today, when every kind of division, including those in the name of religion, threaten people s peace and unity. our support for the initiatives by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as by other Orthodox Churches, for the protection of the natural environment. Today s ecological crisis, which is due to both spiritual and ethical reasons, renders imperative the obligation of the Church to contribute through the spiritual means at her disposal, to the protection of God s creation from the consequences of human greed. In this regard, we reaffirm the designation of the 1st of September, the first day of the Ecclesiastical Year, as the day of special prayers for the protection of God creation, and we support the introduction of the subject of the natural environment in the catechetical, homiletic, and general pastoral activity of our Churches, as this is already the case in some. the decision to proceed with the Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus (center) and other members of the delegations. necessary actions, in order to form an Inter-Orthodox Committee to study issues of bioethics, on which the world also awaits the position of Orthodoxy. Addressing these things to the Orthodox people throughout the world and to Symposium participants at first session; note translator booths in background all sessions were in Greek, Russian and English. His All Holiness with the presenters of the Academic Pauline Symposium at the Church of St. Titus in Herakleion, Crete. the entire oikoumene, we pray again and again that peace, justice, and God s love may finally prevail in people s lives. Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, glory be to him in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Eph. 3:20-21). Amen. In the Phanar, 12th October Bartholomew of Constantinople Theodore of Alexandria Ignatius of Antioch Theophilos of Jerusalem Alexey of Moscow Amphilochios of Montenegro (rep. the Church of Serbia) Laurentiu of Transylvania (rep. the Church of Romania) Dometiyan of Vidin (rep. the Church of Bulgaria) Gerasime of Zugdidi (rep. the Church of Georgia) Chrysostomos of Cyprus Ieronymos of Athens Jeremiasz of Wrocaw (rep. of the Church of Poland) Anastasios of Tirana Christopher of the Czech Lands and Slovakia
20 20 NOVEMBER 2008 In his 2007 Christmas Encyclical, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew proclaimed 2008 as a Year dedicated to St. Paul in remembrance of his words and works, as well as in celebration of two millennia since his birth. The year 8AD is conventionally estimated by scholars to be around the year of St. Paul s birth. Two extraordinary and historical events were planned for the celebration: first, the Synaxis of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches, which met in Constantinople from October 10th to 12th, 2008, at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch; and, second, again at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch, a Pauline Symposium that traveled from October 11th to 16th, 2008, through cities of Turkey and Greece where St. Paul preached during his missionary journeys. Specifically organized within the context of the Year of St. Paul and within the ecclesiastical framework of and as a scholarly offering to the Synaxis, the Symposium drew recognized scholars from diverse Christian communions and numerous countries for a Symposium, officially opening in Constantinople (Istanbul) and proceeding through the cities of Smyrna, Ephesus, Perge and Antalya (in Asia Minor), as well as Lindos (Rhodes) and Kaloi Limenes (Crete), where it officially concluded. While the formal language of the Symposium was English, there was simultaneous Greek and Russian translation to cater to the Patriarchs and Hierarchs from all Orthodox Churches throughout the world. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America was chairman of the academic committee, presiding over the sessions throughout the Symposium, while His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima was chairman of the organizing committee. The Ecumenical Patriarch led the Symposium, accompanied by the Patriarch of Alexandria, the Archbishop of Cyprus, the Archbishop of Athens, the Archbishop of Albania, and the Archbishop of Prague, as well as representatives from every Autocephalous and Autonomous Church, including the Patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Georgia, as well as the Churches of Poland, Finland and Estonia. The Roman Catholic Church was represented throughout by personal delegates of Pope Benedict XVI. Speakers included His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios (St. Paul as Apostle, Pastor and Theologian), Bishop Tom Wright of Durham (Eschatology in St. Paul), Prof. Petros Vasileiadis (Freedom in St. Paul), Prof. Christos Voulgaris (The Cosmic Dimensions of Christ s Redemption), Prof. Helmut Koester (The Charismata of the Spirit), Prof. Karl Donfried (The Life in Christ ), Prof. Brian Daley (Paul in the Fathers of the Church), Prof. Ioannis Karavidopoulos (Paul as Theological Bridge between East and West), V. Rev. Dr. Jacques Khalil (The Bishop in Paul s Pastoral Letters), and Prof. Turid Karlsen Seim (Race and Gender in Paul). Session moderators included His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, Prof. Christos Oikonomou, Prof. John Fotopoulos, and Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis (who also served as secretary of the academic committee). The 90 participants of the Symposium Synaxis of the Heads of All Orthodox Churches THE YEAR OF ST. PAUL: An Academic and Pastoral Symposium by Fr. John Chryssavgis PHOTOS N. MANGINAS Archbishop Demetrios, chairman of the Academic Symposium, opens the proceedings. enjoyed the generous hospitality of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as they traveled through Turkey and Greece. In Ephesus and Perge, they received a guided tour by Prof. Helmut Koester of Harvard University (also a Symposium speaker), while the sessions in Rhodes were held at the very site of several historical Panorthodox consultations as well as the opening of the Official Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Nothing could quite prepare the Patriarchs, hierarchs and delegates as they were welcomed in Crete by numerous faithful, who spontaneously lined the streets for miles with rose petals, palm leaves and incense. It is difficult to imagine the warm hospitality extended to the Patriarchs. Yet, Crete had never before witnessed as auspicious an hierarchical gathering as this; moreover, the Archbishop of Athens had not officially visited Crete for over 41 years. The Symposium proceedings were videotaped by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and, together with a formal publication of the major addresses, will soon be available to parishes and the general public. From the Opening Address by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew We offer praise and glory to the Trinitarian God for the spiritual banquet that lies before us and that we are blessed officially to open this afternoon following the successful conclusion this morning of an historical Synaxis, which has gathered the Heads of Autocephalous and Autonomous Orthodox Churches throughout the world in a powerful and symbolical affirmation of our unity in faith and commitment of purpose as Hierarchs entrusted with leadership of our Churches in the contemporary world. As we assembled here at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in the Mother Church of Constantinople, we recognize that, truly, our ministry overflows with many thanksgivings to God. (2 Cor. 9.12). While St. Paul was not the author of systematic treatises, it is generally acknowledged that there is hardly an area of Christian theology or Pneumatology, of Christology or ecclesiology, of anthropology or soteriology, indeed of ethics or ecology, for which St. Paul did not sow the seeds in his bold proclamation of the Gospel. In order, then, to realize the allembracing importance and impact of this great Apostle, we have chosen to follow in the footsteps of his missionary journeys through key cities of Asia Minor and Greece. Over the next week, we will quite literally be walking and conversing with St. Paul, discerning his traces and discussing his concepts. And so, in scholarly and spiritual fellowship, we shall travel together from this City to Smyrna (one of the cities along St. Paul s third missionary journey); to Ephesus (where St. Paul met in the church in the house of Prisca and Aquila, those who risked their necks for his life [cf. Rom ]; it is in Ephesus where Paul also preached that gods made by human hands are no gods at all [Acts 19.26]); and to Attaleia (the ancient Roman port where St. Paul preached the Gospel and then set sail to Antioch [cf. Acts His All Holiness, Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria and Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana (Albania) around the Altar of the Church of St. John the Theologian at the archaeological site of ancient Ephesus ]), as well as to Rhodes (where an entire bay is named after the great Apostle, who landed there toward the middle of the first century); and Crete (where Paul left Titus to serve as first bishop). We can only be in eternal awe of St. Paul s remarkable endurance and perilous travels. St. Paul is justifiably considered the theologian of unity and of freedom alike. For, while he perceived the crucial distinction between unity and uniformity, he also professed the critical value of openness or freedom, affirming diversity and discerning the joy of Christ in whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, wherever there is excellence and anything worthy of praise. (Phil. 4.8) In its catholicity, the Orthodox Church is truly and profoundly ecumenical. Nevertheless, this catholicity or ecumenicity is not universal in the etymological sense of the word (from the Latin tending toward oneness ), in the literal sense of drawing all things to unilateral homogeneity. This, as we underlined yesterday to our brother Bishops during the Hierarchal Synaxis, is the crucial basis of and essential criterion for Paul s passionate plea for Church unity in the same mind and purpose. (1 Cor. 1.10) Nevertheless, at the same time, St. Paul prefers to emphasize conformity to the Body of Christ until Christ is formed in you (Gal. 4.19) rather than uniformity in accordance with certain ethical prescriptions. This is a unity that can only be realized in dialogue and collegiality, not in any universal imposition of opinion or doctrine. From the Closing Address by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew In the Church of St. Titus the Apostle, first Bishop of Crete appointed by St. Paul. We praise and glorify the Name of the Trinitarian God for this abundantly rich and equally enriching Symposium that has, with His grace and blessing, finally come to a close. Here, on the historical island of Crete, our spiritual banquet has safely reached the beautiful waters of the fair havens (the Kaloi Loimenes), the very place that St. Paul visited some two thousand years ago. In many ways, over the past days, we have gained unique insights into the perilous travels and profound preaching of St. Paul. It has been an exhausting and yet also an inspiring excursion. Together with the most reverend Patriarchs and Hierarchs, as well as the esteemed professors, we have walked in pilgrimage through the living ruins of Ephesus and Perge; and we have joined in celebration with the living communities of Rhodes and Crete. Together, clergy and theologians, we have experienced nothing less than an unprecedented spiritual and intellectual banquet. Together, therefore, we openly confess with St. John Chrysostom as we heard during the opening session of our Symposium that we have witnessed the dust of St. Paul s feet, which ran through the world, yet were not tired which went through places populated and uninhabited, which walked on so many journeys. (Homily on the Letter to the Romans 32, PG )