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Author Topic: Church official cautiously optimistic on Greek Catholic-Orthodox ties  (Read 2343 times) Average Rating: 0
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plutonas
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« on: January 19, 2003, 04:32:59 PM »

Church official cautiously optimistic on Greek Catholic-Orthodox ties
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/briefs/cns/20030117.htm#head11

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A spokesman for Greece's Catholic Church said the eviction of a group of extremist Orthodox monks from a Mount Athos monastery could signal the first "tentative improvement" in Catholic-Orthodox ties since the pope's May 2001 one-day visit to Athens. Sebastian Rousos, spokesman for the country's bishops' conference, said the Catholic Church was not involved in the dispute between Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and 107 monks of the Esphigmenou monastery on a remote peninsula in the Aegean Sea. Patriarch Bartholomew ordered the monks to vacate the monastery in mid-December. Police said they would evict the monks from the monastery if they failed to meet a Jan. 28 departure deadline. The patriarch charged the monks with repeatedly denouncing Pope John Paul II and Orthodox leaders. "Patriarch Bartholomew has shown his openness to the Catholic Church by visiting Assisi in 2002 and maintaining personal relations with the pope. This is why these monks reacted -- they totally reject all Catholic-Orthodox ties," Rousos said.
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« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2003, 04:44:40 PM »

[The patriarch charged the monks with repeatedly denouncing Pope John Paul II and Orthodox leaders. "Patriarch Bartholomew has shown his openness to the Catholic Church by visiting Assisi in 2002 and maintaining personal relations with the pope. This is why these monks reacted -- they totally reject all Catholic-Orthodox ties," Rousos said.]

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The Twenty-Six Venerable-Martyrs of Zographou

In the year 1274, at the Council of Lyons, the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Paleologus decided to strengthen his dominion, which was close to falling, at the expense of union - unia - with Catholic Rome. This step provoked general discontent in the land, and in the year 1278, the Emperor issued an edict to introduce the unia in Byzantium, even if by forceful means. The Holy Mountain of Authos firmly resisted the unia. The Athonite monks dispatched an epistle to Michael, in which they solidly proved that the supremacy of the pope, his commemoration in the churches, the performance of the Eucharist on unleavened bread, the addition of the phrase "and the Son" (Filioque) cannot be accepted by the Orthodox, and they called on the Emperor to bethink himself. "We see clearly," it was said in the epistle, "that thou art a heretic, but we implore thee: leave all this and abide in that teaching which thou hast received Reject the unholy, new teachings of false knowledge, which adds conjectures to the faith."

Crusaders, who had been expelled from Palestine and had found refuge in Romania, declared to the Emperor their readiness to establish the authority of the pope by fire and the sword. Michael employed Turks and Tatars as well. When the troops approached Athos, which was so hateful to the Emperor, in order to irritate the Greeks, he decided to vent his malice on the Athonite Slavs. At Michael's order, the servants of the pope fell upon the Bulgarian Monastery of Zographou. When the demand to accept the unia was presented to the monks of Zographou, none of them wanted even to hear of Catholicism. The majority of the Zographans left the monastery, while the most steadfast, to the number of twenty-six, remained in the monastery tower. They were: Hegumen Thomas, monks Barsanuphius, Cyril, Mich+ªas, Cosmas, Hilarion, James, Job, Cyprian, Sabbas, James, Martinian, Cosmas, Sergius, Minas, Joasaph, Ioannicius, Paul, Anthony, Euthymius, Dometian Parthenius and four laymen. The holy martyrs for the Orthodox faith were burned alive in the monastery tower on the 10th of October 1284.

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« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2003, 04:48:21 PM »

About Orthodox-Catholic relations in general, I refer readers to an article linked on my site’s headlines, ‘Russians and Catholics’ by Lawrence Uzzell (from First Things magazine). Uzzell observes that, against the hopes of beleaguered orthodox Catholics, those Orthodox in Orthodox countries who seem pro-Catholic may be hankering for dissent/heterodoxy, not reinforcing the good things in the Orthodox or the Catholic churches. (Flip side of the coin: the desirable, orthodox and holy in the Orthodox world often but not always are anti-Catholic. For well-meaning Catholics, that’s a catch-22.) Kind of like some people in Muslim countries who ask for ‘Christian magazines’ and mean things like Hustler!

To the issue at hand: IMO the current occupants of Esphigmenou are like the historical examples Savonarola and the Old Believers and like some people in the Society of St Pius X and Old Calendarist splinter groups today: orthodox, well-meaning, even holy, but in prudential judgement a little off and perhaps even a bit mad. AFAIK Patriarch Bartholomew has done nothing to warrant their reaction. He never has concelebrated at the altar with nor received sacraments from non-Orthodox.

A Catholic being happy about conflict among the Orthodox working possibly to the Catholics’ advantage seems a bit sinister: divide and conquer.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2003, 06:25:46 PM by Serge » Logged

jude
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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2003, 06:22:31 PM »

Sebastian Rousos is a Catholic Greek and most likely of the Latin rite.

His words will only compound the ill feeling this episode is already creating between  conservative Orthodox
Greeks and the EP, as well as "prove" to some that both Rome and the
Catholic Church of Greece are involved in a conspiracy (with the EP) against the legitimate rights of "True Believers."

Many Greeks already believe Catholic Greeks and Protestants are quislings and fifth columnists so, in a sense, this episode will not change perceptions but only intensify them.

In the long run, whatever happens, the monks and their sympathizers and confreres win the propaganda war. The EP's victory is purely Pyrrhic.

The martyrs of Zographou--and devotion to them--will gain popularity among the devout laos.

Jude
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« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2003, 06:53:45 PM »

Quote
Whatever the aims of the EP are, they are still mystifying to me atleast.   The EP is in a very precarious position especially with the dwindling faithful that are still in Turkey.  He is in effect losing his power base.  Why the insistance on staying on in Constantinople??  The EP wants unity but at whose expense?  At times, he seems to be too chummy with Rome and ignoring the warning cries of his faithful around the world.  What exactly are the aims of the EP and what is he willing to give up for this unity?Huh   Is he ignorant of what harm he may be doing or does he really care???   I would just like to know.

JoeS :-

In the long run, whatever happens, the monks and their sympathizers and confreres win the propaganda war. The EP's victory is purely Pyrrhic.

The martyrs of Zographou--and devotion to them--will gain popularity among the devout laos.

Jude
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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2003, 09:25:49 PM »

Yes, The EP seems to have a very strange agenda:

A kind of robotic ecumenism, especially vis-a-vis Rome, combined with a meddlesome approach to east-central Europe and the Baltic, and an iron grip on North and South America.  Frankly, there's little that's inspiring about the EP, at a time when world Orthodoxy is in desparate need of forceful and visionary leadership.

However, I'd agree with Serge's assessment of Esphigmenou.  It must be remembered that all the monasteries of Athos joined in the Dec. 8, 1993 letter of Protest to the EP over Balamand.  Presumably the other monasteries, not known for being warm and fuzzy towards the Latins, are cooperating with the EP in the eviction.
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Hypo-Ortho
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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2003, 09:56:43 PM »

Varangia<< Presumably the other monasteries, not known for being warm and fuzzy towards the Latins, are cooperating with the EP in the eviction.>>

Either that or, at the very least, they're not resisting or speaking out for fear that the same thing could happen to them.

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« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2003, 11:33:35 PM »


Either that or, at the very least, they're not resisting or speaking out for fear that the same thing could happen to them.

Hypo-Ortho

Good point Hypo.
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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2003, 06:40:04 AM »

Serge, varangia,

your opinions, though most welcome, are ISTM based on second hand accounts provided by the news media which are likely to be more than just a little biased. Their refering to Mt. Athos as "a remote peninsula in the Aegean Sea", significantly understates its importance to orthodox christians and none of the reports I've read present the monks of Esphigmenou in a particulary good light.

Last night I was reading to my daughter some excerpts from "Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters" by Elder Paisios and it struck me as to how often monks from the monastery of Esphigmenou were mentioned when describing examples of great faith, piety and humility. Many miracles were also described which were the fruit of their faith and humility. Now I don't know if any of those fathers described are still living or whether they were from decades or even centuries ago but it seems to me that this monastery has a strong legacy of pious orthodox faith as its foundation. We are in no position to judge the wisdom of their actions nor should we speculate on the stand the other monasteries on Mt. Athos are taking, given that no one here has provided any first hand information regarding their position.

A quick google search will provide a lot of info on how the situation has developed so we have no excuse for being ignorant.
Here is a link giving a run down of the history from the perspective of the monastery. As you will see, this has been brewing since 1924 and the monastery of Esphigmenou has not been alone in taking a stand on this and issues stemming from it.

I'm sorry if I offend my brothers, however I don't believe it is appropriate to post opinions without making some effort to understand the situation first. I know I should not speak as I am probably the worst offender in this regard. I hope you will forgive my presuming to correct you.

Yours in the Lord,
John
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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2003, 09:20:38 PM »

No offense taken, Prodromos.

And yes, my assessment is based upon news accounts.  I wasn't calling into question the piety or the holiness, no doubt ongoing, of many of the monks of Esphigmenou, but rather their "sense of proportion", especially since the other communities have found a way to commemorate the EP and at the same time boldly rebuke him, as the occasion requires.  (btw, "Athonite Matters" is a wonderful book)

As I interpret the information from the link you provided, Esphigmenou doesn't merely condemn the more questionably provocative acts of the EPs over the last 75 or so years vis-a-vis calendar reform and Rome, but condemns any and all discussions on the part of Orthodox with heterodox, of any variety, as a sell-out of Orthodoxy's uniqueness of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

The special witness of Athos, as a whole, in world Orthodoxy is to embody "akribeia" in its praxis, so I still think that the attitude of the other monasteries towards Esphigmenou is decisive, and doesn't necessarily stem from outside pressure.  Again, the communities demonstrate that they're capable of "withstanding the EP to his face" when the need arises.  In this regard, it's telling that the EP finds it necessary to "negotiate" with Karyes on issues such as calendar observance.

Since Esphigmenou has retained counsel and relies on diverse documents, the Rudder, the internal standards governing the Athonite community, etc., it's interesting that the ecumenical patriarchate has waited so long to try to evict the monks.  At least under the principles of Anglo-American equity, the concept of "laches" would come into play:  one cannot invoke a right against someone when, by one's conduct, they have already given the impression that they have relinquished that right.  In other words, EPs for the past 40 years have more or less accepted the situation, so they have by conduct surrendered the right to demand eviction.

Long term, the only real solution to spectacles like this would be to return to the practice of only ordaining serious monks to the episcopate, as opposed to mere academics and administrators.  In that manner, we could escape the impasse so depressingly evident in contemporary Orthodoxy of using monastic witness to trump apostolic, episcopal authority.  Sts. Gregory Palamas, Philotheos Kokkinos, and Mark of Ephesus were forged in monasticism, and they weren't timid about sharing the truth of Orthodoxy with heterodox.

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