The following decisions of Vatican II are typical:
“The Roman Pontiff, the successor to Peter, is the per-manent and
visible source and foundation of the unity of the bishops and of the
multitude of the faithful.
“This religious submission of the will and mind must be manifested in a
special way before the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff,
even when he is not speaking ex cathedra.
“The Roman Pontiff, the head of the college of bishops, by virtue of his
office, possesses infallibility when, strengthening his brethren (Lk.23:32)
as the shepherd and highest teacher of all the faithful, he declares a
teaching through an act of definition regard-ing faith or morals. For
this reason it is justly said that the decrees of the Pope are irreversible
in nature and not subject to dispen-sation by the Church in as much as they
were pronounced with the collaboration of the Holy Spirit...Consequently, the
decrees of the Pope are subject to no other approval, to no other appeal, to
no other judgment. For the Roman Pontiff does not express his opinion as a
private person but as the highest teacher of the uni-versal Church, upon whom
personally rests the gift of the in-fallibility of the very Church herself
and who sets forth and protects the teaching of the Catholic Faith.
“In the course of his responsibility as the vicar of Christ and shepherd
of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has the fullest, highest, and
universal authority in the Church, which he is always empowered to exercise
freely...There cannot exist an Ecumenical Council if it is not validated or
at least accepted by the successor to Peter. The convocation, presidency, and
approval of the decisions of the Councils are the prerogative of the Roman
Do all of these teachings, Your All Holiness, not fall upon Orthodox
ears as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and against the Divine Builder of
the Church, Jesus Christ, the only eternal and infallible Head of the Church
from Whom alone springs forth the unity of the Church? Do these not utterly
contradict the Gospel-centered and God-Man centered Orthodox Ecclesiology
inspired by the Holy Spirit? Do they not subordinate the God-Man to man?
How can we make concessions or co-exist with such a spirit without
losing our faith and salvation?
Remaining faithful to all that we have received from our Holy Fathers,
we shall never accept the present Roman “Church” as co-representative with
ours of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Christ.
We consider it necessary that among the theological dif-ferences the
distinction between the essence and the energy of God, and the uncreatedness
of the divine energies be noted, because if grace is created, as the Roman
Catholics claim, salvation and the theosis of man is nullified, and the
Church ceases to be a commu-nion of theosis and degenerates into a
Deeply pained in our soul because of all of the above, we have recourse
to you our Spiritual Father. And with deepest respect, we call upon you and
implore you, in your characteristic pastoral understanding and sensitivity,
to take this most grave matter in hand and not accept the [Balamand]
document, and generally to take every possible action to stave off the
undesirable consequences it will have for pan-Orthodox unity if by chance
some Churches adopt it.
Moreover, we ask for your holy and God-obedient prayers so that we too
who are lowly inhabitants and monastics of the Holy Mountain, in this time of
spiritual confusion, compromise, secular-ization, and the dulling of our
doctrinal acuity, may remain faithful unto death to that which was passed on
to us by our Holy Fathers as a “form of doctrine” (Rom.6:17), whatever that
may cost us.
With deepest respect, we venerate your holy right hand.
Signed by: All Representatives and Presidents of the Twenty
Sacred Monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos