Written by Vladimir Moss



     The ecumenical movement began to gather pace with the Second Vatican Council and the entry of the Moscow Patriarchate (at the behest of the KGB) into the World Council of Churches in 1961. The chief defenders of Orthodoxy remained ROCOR, the Catacomb Church, and the Greek and Romanian Old Calendarists. However, only ROCOR was able to proclaim the faith in public in the free world


     On May 14/27, 1964, ROCOR’s Metropolitan Anastasy retired. He died in 1965. There were two candidates for the vacant post, Archbishops Nikon and John Maximovich, but the animosity between their two sets of supporters was so great that, to avoid a schism, Archbishop John withdrew his own candidature and put forward in his place the youngest bishop, Philaret (Voznesensky) of Brisbane. In fact, Fr. Christopher Birchall writes that Philaret’s election was “entirely due to the prompting and influence of Archbishop John”.[1] The suggestion was then universally accepted, and Bishop Philaret was enthroned by Metropolitan Anastasy himself in a service that used the ancient text for the enthroning of a metropolitan of Moscow for the first time in centuries.


     The new metropolitan had endured torture for Christ’s sake at the hands of the Japanese pagans in Manchuria in the 1930s. During the Soviet occupation he continued to show great courage, refusing to accept a Soviet passport or commemorate the authorities, although he unwillingly found himself in the Moscow Patriarchate. Later, the Chinese even unsuccessfully tried to blow up the confessor in the house in which he was living.


     Archimandrite Philaret left China in 1961, only after almost the whole of his flock had left Harbin. “While striving to guard my flock from Soviet falsehood and lies,” he recounted, “I myself sometimes felt inexpressibly oppressed – to the point that I several times came close to the decision to leave altogether – to cease serving. And I was stopped only by the thought of my flock: how could I leave these little ones? If I went and stopped serving, that would mean that they would have to enter into service to the Soviets and hear prayers for the forerunners of the Antichrist – ‘Lord, preserve them for many years,’ etc. This stopped me and forced me to carry out my duty to the end.


     “And when, finally, with the help of God I managed to extract myself from red China, the first thing I did was turn to the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, Metropolitan Anastasy, with a request that he consider me again to be in the jurisdiction of the Russian Church Abroad. Vladyka Metropolitan replied with mercy and love, and immediately blessed me to serve in Hong Kong already as a priest of the Synodal jurisdiction, and pointed out that every church server passing into this jurisdiction from the jurisdiction of Moscow must give a special penitential declaration to the effect that he is sorry about his (albeit involuntary) stay in the Moscow jurisdiction. I did this immediately.”


     Soon Fr. Philaret flew to Australia and arrived in Sydney. The ruling Archbishop of Australia accepted him with joy and love, and already in the first weeks of Fr. Philaret’s stay in Australia began to speak about the possibility of ordaining him as a Bishop. In 1963 he was ordained Bishop of Brisbane, a vicariate of the Australian diocese. In his sermon at his nomination as Bishop Archimandrite Philaret said to the Archpastors who were present:


     “Holy Hierarchs of God! I have thought and felt much in these last days, I have reviewed and examined the whole of my life – and… I see, on the one hand, a chain of innumerable benefactions from God, and on the other – the countless number of my sins… And so raise your hierarchical prayers for my wretchedness in this truly terrible hour of my ordination, that the Lord, the First of Pastors, Who through your holiness is calling me to the height of this service, may not deprive me, the sinful and wretched one, of a place and lot among His chosen ones…


     “One hierarch-elder, on placing the hierarchical staff in the hands of a newly appointed bishop, said to him: ‘Do not be like a milestone on the way, that points out for others the road ahead, but itself remains in its place…’  Pray also for this, Fathers and Archpastors, that in preaching to others, I myself may not turn out to be an idle slave.”


     The new metropolitan faced a daunting task. On the one hand, he had to lead his Church in decisively denouncing the apostasy of World Orthodoxy, communion with which could no longer be tolerated. And on the other, he had to preserve unity in his own Synod, some of whom were in spirit closer to “World Orthodoxy” than True Orthodoxy… He continued the tough anti-communist line adopted by Metropolitan Anastasy. But it was above all for his zeal against ecumenism that Metropolitan Philaret would become especially renowned…


     Since the founding of the WCC in 1948, the leader of the ecumenical movement on the Orthodox side had been the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. He had cooperated willingly with the CIA to remove his predecessor, Maximus, on the grounds of mental illness, and in 1949 he had flown into Constantinople in President Truman’s personal plane, appropriately called “Sacred Cow”.[2]


     The key figure on the Catholic side was Pope John XXIII, who early in the 1960s, as we have seen, convened the three-year Vatican II Council, which thrust forward an ecumenist agenda. “One of the council’s key documents, Unitatis Redintegratio (Restoration of Unity), issued in 1964, identified “restoration of unity among all Christians” as a key long-term goal. The document described baptized Christians who profess faith in another church as “separated brethren”, not as “heretics”, the term commonly used for centuries prior.”[3]


    Olga Chetverikova writes: “Setting as one of its central aims the leadership of Catholicism in the movement for Christian unity, the Council formulated its own ecumenical conception, as an alternative to the way of the Protestants, which allowed it to open itself out to dialogue to other religions, while keeping untouched its position on the power of the pontiff. In the dogmatic constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), it was affirmed that the Church of Christ, ‘established and constructed in this world as a community remains in the Catholic Church ruled by the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him’, but now it was added that ‘even outside her membership there exist many principles of sanctification and truth, which, being gifts, are proper to the Church of Christ, and propel towards Catholic unity’. Thus the Council defined two basic points in its relations with other churches. It affirmed that it was possible to receive ‘the whole fullness of means of salvation’ only through the Catholic Church, but at the same time it recognized that other ecclesiastical communities, linked to her by virtue of baptism, ‘can, in different ways, corresponding to the particular situation of each church or community, truly engender the life of grace’, and ‘they are capable of opening access to saving communion’. Although the latter ‘suffer from certain faults, nevertheless they are endowed with significance and weight in the mystery of salvation’. The main reversal in ecumenical consciousness consisted in the conclusion that ‘those who believe in Christ and have been baptized in the right manner are in definite communion with the Catholic Church, albeit not complete, while full communion is possible only with the recognition of the power of the successor of Peter, that is, the Pontiff of Rome.’”[4]




     The new ecumenist course was sealed on January 5 and 6, 1964, when Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople met in Jerusalem and prayed together. This was a clear transgression of Apostolic canon 45 concerning relations with heretics. Archbishop Chrysostom of Athens said: “While the Pope is going to the Holy Land to kneel before the Saviour’s sepulchre, you (Athenagoras) are going to kneel before the Pope and bury Orthodoxy.”[5]


     On January 23 / February 5, 1964 a large number of Athonite monks, including the abbots of four monasteries, protested against this ecumenical activity: “the undersigned Fathers of the Holy Mountain, abbots, priest-monks and monks, learning of the recent machinations and plots against our blameless Orthodox Faith by the Papal insurrection and of the pro-uniate actions and statements of the Ecumenical Patriarch and his co-workers, do proclaim with a stentorian voice that we denounce these uniate tendencies and leanings, and remains steadfast and unshaken in our Orthodox Faith…”[6]


     Unfortunately, however, this “stentorian voice” became more and more muted, until on Athos the Holy Monastery of Esphigmenou was the only monastery to remain out of communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate…


     The calendar question again reared its head during this period. Thus during the Second Pan-Orthodox Conference, the Church of Greece had threatened to boycott the meeting if the calendar question were raised. “But the representatives of the Jerusalem Patriarchate,” writes Bishop Ephraim, “insisted that the calendar be placed upon the agenda for discussion, and with good reason. The Jerusalem Patriarchate is especially interested in settling the calendar issue because of its position as a place of pilgrimage. When Athenagoras met Pope Paul in Jerusalem, he went afterwards to Bethlehem to attend the service for Christmas (which, of course, is celebrated there according to the Old Calendar). In the meantime, the new calendarists were celebrating Epiphany in Constantinople. By the time Athenagoras returned to Istanbul, Epiphany had already been celebrated. In other words, Athenagoras himself, because of this calendar confusion, celebrated two Christmases but did not celebrate Epiphany that year. Also, many pious pilgrims came from Greece to celebrate Christmas in Bethlehem, not knowing that the Jerusalem Patriarchate follows the Old Calendar… They arrive in Bethlehem and discover that it is only St. Spyridon’s day and that Christmas is two weeks away. They have only arranged to stay for a few days, and few are those who have made the provisions or have the money to wait for two weeks. In their dismay, they beg the priests there to chant a few Christmas troparia and, of course, the priests refuse, because not only is it not Christmas according to their reckoning, but they are also in the midst of the fast. The pilgrims return to Greece confused and disheartened since they did not get to celebrate Christmas, even in Bethlehem, and Christmas has already been celebrated in Greece. Therefore, that year they do not celebrate Christmas anywhere. This happens annually there – hence Jerusalem’s concern.”[7]


     Immediately after the Holy Land meeting, a proclamation of the whole monastic community of Mount Athos to “the pious Orthodox Greek people and the whole of the Orthodox Church” denounced the ‘pro-uniate actions and statements’ of the Patriarch and his co-workers.


     In 1964 several parishes in the USA, Canada and Australia left the Ecumenical Patriarchate, complaining of the dependence of the patriarchate on the Turks, the rapprochement with the Catholics, and the dictatorial behaviour of Archbishop James of America. The Turks promptly increased their harassment of the Patriarchate in Constantinople; much property was confiscated, and 15,000 Greeks were deported. This led some to speculate that the Patriarch’s rapprochement with the Pope was elicited by his need to find powerful friends to support him in the West. Thus in April, 1965, Archbishop James (a 33-degree Mason) pleaded with the Pope to help the Patriarch, as in 1274 and 1438. The Pope promised his support, whereupon the two hierarchs prayed together.


     Further intense activity led, on December 7, 1965, to the “lifting of the anathemas” of 1054 between Orthodoxy and the Papacy. The announcement was made simultaneously in Rome and Constantinople. It included the following words: “Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I with his synod, in common agreement, declare that: a) They regret the offensive words, the reproaches without foundation, and the reprehensible gestures which, on both sides, have marked or accompanied the sad events of this period [viz. in the 11th century]. b) They likewise regret and remove both from memory and from the midst of the Church the sentences of excommunication which followed these events, the memory of which has influenced actions up to our day and has hindered closer relations in charity; and they commit these excommunications to oblivion. We must recognize that the sentences were directed at particular persons and not at the Churches, and did not aim to break ecclesiastical communion between the sees of Rome and Constantinople.”[8]


     “In short,” writes Peter Hebblethwaite in his biography of Paul VI, “1054 had been an accident, much ado about nothing very much, frozen into permanent schism only by later ‘non-theological’ events.”[9]


     The Tomos was historically inaccurate: both sees recognized in 1054 that a break in ecclesiastical communion had taken place between them; this is an historical fact that cannot be denied. Moreover, in saying that the schism of 1054 was based on “reproaches without foundation”, the Patriarch was in effect saying that the Papacy was not, or never had been, heretical – although the Papacy had renounced none of its heresies, and Pope Paul VI had reasserted papal infallibility as recently as the Second Vatican Council. Thirdly, while relations with excommunicated individuals or Churches can be restored if those individuals or Churches repent, anathemas against heresies cannot be removed insofar as a heresy remains a heresy forever. And yet in December of 1968 Athenagoras announced that he had inserted Pope Paul VI’s name into the Diptychs, thereby signifying that the Pope was not a heretic and was in communion with the Orthodox Church. And he made the following formal renunciation of True Christianity: “We must pray and struggle that Jerusalem becomes a place of dialogue and peace. So that together we may prepare the way for the return of Jesus, the Mahdi of Islam, the Moshiach [Messiah] of Israel, our Lord”.


     Archbishop Chrysostom of Athens protested the Patriarch’s action, but other Greek Churches supported him. Thus in March, 1966 the Synod of the new calendarist Church of Cyprus approved the lifting of anathemas.[10]


     ROCOR had three observers at the Vatican Council who witnessed the ceremony of the “lifting of the anathemas”. One of them, Archimandrite Ambrose (Pogodin), after describing the ceremony with evident sympathy, wrote: “The Russian Church Abroad did not recognize the actions of Patriarch Athenagoras, considering that the patriarch was obliged to do this only with the agreement of all the Orthodox Churches, because the matter of the schism between the Eastern and Western Churches concerned all the Orthodox Churches – it was not only the personal relations between the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople. We, observers from the Russian Church Abroad, received by telephone the order from our ecclesiastical authorities not to be present at the ceremony of the mutual lifting of the anathemas between the Constantinopolitan and Roman Churches. But we, having taken counsel amongst ourselves, thought that such a demonstration would have been harmful for our Church, which we represented with dignity. However, our demonstration would have remained unnoticed: what would the absence of three people in a mass of tens of thousands of people signify?!”[11]


     At this critical moment, on December 15, 1965, Metropolitan Philaret issued the first of a series of “Sorrowful Epistles” designed to warn the Orthodox against ecumenism.[12] First, he wrote to Patriarch Athenagoras protesting against his action: The organic belonging of the Orthodox to the union of the contemporary heretics does not sanctify the latter, while it tears away the Orthodox entering into it from Catholic Orthodox Unity… Your gesture puts a sign of equality between error and truth. For centuries all the Orthodox Churches believed with good reasons that it has violated no doctrine of the Holy Ecumenical Councils; whereas the Church of Rome has introduced a number of innovations in its dogmatic teaching. The more such innovations were introduced, the deeper was to become the separation between the East and the West. The doctrinal deviations of Rome in the eleventh century did not yet contain the errors that were added later. Therefore the cancellation of the mutual excommunication of 1054 could have been of meaning at that time, but now it is only evidence of indifference in regard to the most important errors, namely new doctrines foreign to the ancient Church, of which some, having been exposed by St. Mark of Ephesus, were the reason why the Church rejected the Union of Florence… No union of the Roman Church with us is possible until it renounces its new doctrines, and no communion in prayer can be restored with it without a decision of all the Churches, which, however, can hardly be possible before the liberation of the Church of Russia which at present has to live in the catacombs… A true dialogue implies an exchange of views with a possibility of persuading the participants to attain an agreement. As one can perceive from the Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, Pope Paul VI understands the dialogue as a plan for our union with Rome with the help of some formula which would, however, leave unaltered its doctrines, and particularly its dogmatic doctrine about the position of the Pope in the Church. However, any compromise with error is foreign to the history of the Orthodox Church and to the essence of the Church. It could not bring a harmony in the confessions of the Faith, but only an illusory outward unity similar to the conciliation of dissident Protestant communities in the ecumenical movement…


     The Tradition of the Church and the example of the Holy Fathers teach us that there can be no dialogue with those who have broken away from the Orthodox Church We urgently entreat Your Holiness to put an end to this temptation, for the path you have chosen, while it may lead you to union with the Roman Catholics, would cause division in the Orthodox world, since it is doubtless that many of your spiritual children would prefer to remain faithful to Orthodoxy over the ecumenical idea of uniting with the heterodox through compromise and without being fully united with them in the truth.[13]


     Tatiana (now Nun Cassia) Senina writes: “Metropolitan Philaret sent a similar address to another leader of the ecumenical movement – the American Archbishop James. However, the apostate hierarchs paid no attention to his exhortations. The ecumenical movement continued to gather speed. The holy Hierarch Philaret looked with sorrow on the falling away from the faith of the once Orthodox Churches. And he called the epistles which he sent to all the hierarchs of the Orthodox Church just that – ‘Sorrowful Epistles’. In his first Epistle, written in 1969, St. Philaret says that he has decided to turn to all the hierarchs, ‘some of whom occupy the oldest and most glorious sees’, because, in the words of St. Gregory the Theologian, ‘the truth is betrayed by silence’, and it is impossible to keep silent when you see a deviation from the purity of Orthodoxy – after all, every bishop at his ordination gives a promise to keep the Faith and the canons of the holy fathers and defend Orthodoxy from heresies. Vladyka quotes various ecumenist declarations of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and clearly shows, on the basis of the patristic teaching and the canons, that the position of the WCC has nothing in common with Orthodoxy, and consequently the Orthodox Churches must not participate in the work of this council. The holy Hierarch Philaret also emphasizes that the voice of the MP is not the voice of the True Russian Church, which in the homeland is persecuted and hides in the catacombs. Vladyka calls on all the Orthodox hierarchs to stand up in defence of the purity of Orthodoxy.


     “Vladyka Philaret wrote his second ‘Sorrowful Epistle’ on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, 1972. In it he noted that although in the last two years hierarchs had made declarations about the heterodoxy of the ecumenical movement, not one Orthodox Church had declared that it was leaving the WCC. Vladyka placed as the aim of his Second Epistle ‘to show that abyss of heresy against the very concept of the Church into which all the participants in the ecumenical movement are being drawn’. He recalled the threatening prophecy of the Apostle Paul that to those who will not receive ‘the love of the truth for salvation’ the Lord will send ‘strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (II Thessalonians 2.10-12). St. Philaret’s third Epistle was devoted to the so-called ‘Thyateira Confession’ of Metropolitan Athenagoras [of Thyateira and Great Britain], the exarch of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate in Europe – a document written in a completely heretical spirit, but which did not elicit any reaction from the leaders of the ‘official churches’.[14] Evidently Vladyka Philaret hoped at the beginning that at any rate one of the bishops of ‘World Orthodoxy’ might listen to his words, which is why he addressed them in his epistles as true Archpastors of the Church. Besides, attempts at exhortation corresponded to the apostolic command: ‘A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself’ (Titus 3. 10-11). It was fitting, before accepting an anathema against the apostates, to try and convert them from their error. 


     “Alas, no conversion took place, and the ecumenical impiety continued to pour out. Vladyka addressed his word not only to bishops, but also to their flock, untiringly explaining the danger of the new heresy. While telling about the zeal of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, who slapped the face of Arius when he blasphemed against the Son of God, Vladyka said: ‘O how often we do not have enough of such zeal when it is really necessary to speak for the insulted and trodden-on truth! I want to tell you about one incident that took place not long ago and which it would have been difficult even to imagine several years ago – and now we are going further and further downhill all the time. One man came from Paris and said that the following incident had taken place at a so-called “ecumenical meeting’. Of course, you know what ecumenism is; it is the heresy of heresiesIt wants to completely wipe out the concept of the Orthodox Church as the guardian of the Truth, and to create some kind of new, strange church. And so there took place this ‘ecumenical meeting’. Present were a so-called Orthodox protopriest from the Paris Theological (more exactly, heretical) Institute, a Jewish rabbi, a pastor and a Catholic priest. At first they sort of prayed, and then began the speeches. And then (forgive me for saying such things from the holy ambon, but I want to show you what we have come to) the Jewish rabbi said that the Lord Jesus Christ was the illegitimate son of a dissolute woman…


     “’But that’s not the main horror. The Jewish people has opposed God for a long time… - so there’s nothing surprising in this. But the horror was that when he said this everyone was silent. Later, a man who had heard this terrible blasphemy asked the ‘Orthodox’ protopriest: ‘How could you keep silent?’ He replied: ‘I didn’t want to offend this Jew.’ It’s wrong to offend a Jew, but to insult the All-Pure Virgin Mary is permitted! Look at the state we have come to! How often does it happen to us all now that we do not have the zeal to stand up, when necessary, in defence of our holy things! The Orthodox cleric must zealously stand up against blasphemy, just as the holy Hierarch Nicholas stopped the mouth of the heretic… But now, unfortunately, we have become, as the saying goes, ‘shamefully indifferent to both the evil and the good’. And it is precisely in the soil of this indifference, of a kind of feeling of self-preservation, that the heresy of ecumenism has established itself – as also apostasy, that falling away which is becoming more and more evident… Let us remember, brethren, that Christian love embraces all in itself, is compassionate to all, wishes that all be saved and is sorry for, and merciful to, and love every creature of God; but where it sees a conscious assault on the truth it turns into fiery zeal which cannot bear any such blasphemy… And so must it always be, because every Orthodox Christian must always be zealous for God.”[15]


     The zeal of the new ROCOR metropolitan was matched by Archbishop Averky, abbot of ROCOR’s main monastery at Jordanville, New York, who on the metropolitan’s namesday, December 1/14, 1967, said to him in a welcoming speech: “We are going through a terrible time. But not only because the forces of world evil are gaining a greater and greater hold over the world, but still more because – terrible to say! – many highly-placed hierarchs of the Church of Christ are carrying out a very real betrayal of our holy faith and Church. Some completely new epoch in Christianity is being proclaimed. They are thinking to create a new church into which not only all the Orthodox must enter, but also the heterodox, and even the Muslims, Jews, and pagans. They are even talking about some kind of ‘dialogue’ with the atheists! In this way, instead of the true faith and the true Church, a false faith or, in the expression of our great Spirit-bearing lamp, Bishop Theophan the Recluse, ‘an evil faith and a false church, is arising. 


     “And it is in these terrible times that we wish to see in your person our steadfast and unshakeable spiritual leader inspiring us all for the holy struggle – the holy battle – for the true faith and the true Church against this false faith and false church.”


     Two years later he wrote: “We must make a decisive break with ecumenism, and we must not have anything in communion with its co-travellers. Our path is not theirs. We must say this decisively and show it in our deeds. A time of genuine confession is coming for us, a time when will perhaps remain alone and will be in the position of being persecuted. Insofar as all the Orthodox Local Churches have now entered into the ranks of the ‘World Council of Churches’ and have thereby betrayed Orthodoxy and bowed down to Satan, the time of our complete isolation has come. We cannot and we must not have any communion with apostates from True Orthodoxy, and we must be ready, if required, to depart into the ‘catacombs’, like the ‘True Orthodox Christians’ in our homeland.”




     “Patriarch” Athenagoras expressed, perhaps better than any contemporary church leader, what ecumenism really means for its adherents. As Basil (now Bishop Gregory) Lourié writes: “Athenagoras … did not consider [the Latins] to be heretics. But his denial of their hereticalness was not the manifestation of a special love for them: Athenagoras did not recognise the existence of heresy in general! On hearing of a certain man who saw heresy everywhere, Athenagoras said: ‘I don’t see them anywhere! I see only truths, partial truths, reduced truths, truths that are sometimes out of place…’


     “The teaching of the Church, of the Holy Fathers, is based on the rock of the confession of the fullness of the Truth incarnate in Christ, which is organically incapable of being mixed with lies. The ecumenists consciously choose the sand of ‘partial truths’ cemented by the lie of the denial of Christ as the true Son and Word of God.


     “Why can Athenagoras and people like him, who are characterized by their own kind of deep faith, asceticism and even capacity for sacrifice, completely consciously go against, not simply individual Fathers, but even all of them taken together? Why have they come to the decision that certain decrees of the Fathers in relation to the Church and the dogmas may supposedly have lost their force in our time? There can only be one answer: their Orthodox faith was been mixed with certain tares, which have grown up and suffocated the shoots of Truth. The tares are faith in something about which the Lord did not announce to the Church. This is what we read in this connection in Athenagoras himself: ‘Palestine has again become the centre of the world… We must pray and struggle that Jerusalem may again become a place of dialogue and peace. So that we may together prepare the way for the return of Jesus, the Mahdi of Islam, the Messiah of Israel, our Lord.’ ‘In Jerusalem Abraham met Melchizedek, a priest of the Most High God, a mystical foreshadowing of the Word which is present in all peoples and in all religions.’ (This is how Athenagoras explains why he and the Roman Pope Paul VI decided to meet in Jerusalem.) The union with the Latins was seen by Athenagoras in connection with this coming advent of the person he called Jesus: ‘Unity may be attained unexpectedly, as is the case with everything great. As can happen with the return of Christ, Who, as He said, will come as a thief. Catholicism is now in a vortex. Everything is possible.’ Neither Athenagoras nor the other ecumenists refer to any other positions based on Church Tradition. And not surprisingly. The teaching of the Church foresees the union of all peoples, not around Christ, but around him whom the Jews call the Messiah, and the Muslims Mahdi. ‘When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?’ (Luke 18.8).


     “But this Tradition of the Church has ceased to be of interest to them because they have accepted another: faith that some special age has dawned precisely now. If all the people of this age understand its content, they will turn out to be much more closely united with each other than with their co-religionists of previous ages. The people of this age are united by certain ‘pan-human’, as they put it, values of their own, values which are much more important to them than the heritage of the past, which disunites them. This is that age of which the bearers of the so-called ‘Russian religious philosophy’ (particularly Soloviev, Berdyaev, Florensky and Bulgakov) became the heralds throughout the world. These people expressed in a pseudo-Christian language the idea of the coming of a ‘new age’ – the age of some new, post-New Testament ‘revelation of the Holy Spirit’, which would be given in the last times, and which they borrowed from occult teachings. (See, for example, the letter on the Holy Spirit in Florensky’s The Pillar and Ground of the Truth.) For these people there exists some kind of special ‘age of the Fathers’, which is already completely past. With it have also gone into the past the canons of the Fathers. In our time, instead of the Fathers there are those who have received the new revelation of the new age. And so for the Orthodox Church today ecumenism is not a particular problem which might pass some countries by. But at the same time it is only a particular case of a more widespread phenomenon – the placing of the whole of contemporary civilisation on a new principle of unity. It is on this principle that the universal religion which Hieromonk Seraphim Rose of blessed memory (+1982) called ‘the religion of the future’, the religion of the Antichrist, is being created at the present time.


     “This principle is much more clearly formulated in various movements of the ‘New Age’ and Masonry type, while ecumenism is called to carry out only one particular task: force the entry into this new unity of such people as would wish to preserve their unity with traditional forms of religion. The Antichrist will have to satisfy everyone…”[16]


     Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) wrote with regard to an article written by Archbishop James entitled “A New Epoch?”: “I suddenly felt that I had found an insight into the ‘essence of Iakovism’. Is it not, indeed, the basic heresy of chiliasm? What else, indeed, could justify such immense changes and monstrous perversions in Orthodoxy except the concept that we are entering entirely new historical circumstances, an entirely new kind of time, in which the concepts of the past are no longer relevant, but we must be guided by the voices of the new time? Does not Fr. Patrinacos, in past issues of the Orthodox Observer, justify Patriarch Athenagoras – not as a theologian, not as a traditionalist, but precisely as a prophet, as one whose heresies cannot be condemned because he already lives in the ‘new time’, ahead of his own times? Patriarch Athenagoras himself has been quoted as speaking of the coming of the ‘Third Age of the Holy Spirit’ – a clearly chiliastic idea which has its chief recent champion in N. Berdyaev, and can be traced back directly to Joachim of Fiore, and indirectly to the Montanists. The whole idea of a ‘new age’, of course, penetrates every fiber of the last two centuries with their preoccupation with ‘progress’, and is the key idea of the very concept of Revolution (from French to Bolshevik), is the central idea of modern occultism (visible on the popular level in today’s talk of the ‘age of Aquarius’, the astrological post-Christian age), and has owed its spread probably chiefly to Freemasonry (there’s a Scottish Rite publication in America called ‘New Age’). (I regret to say that the whole philosophy is also present in the American dollar bill with its masonic heritage, with its novus ordo saeculorum and its unfinished pyramid, awaiting the thirteenth stone on top!) In Christian terms, it is the philosophy of Antichrist, the one who will turn the world upside down and ‘change the times and seasons.’… And the whole concept of ecumenism is, of course, permeated with this heresy and the ‘refounding of the Church’.”[17]


August 28 / September 10, 2022.

[1] Birchall, Embassy, Emigrants, and Englishmen. The Three-Hundred Year History of a Russian Orthodox Church in London, Jordanville, N.Y.: Holy Trinity Publications, 2014, p. 425. According to one source, Archbishop John’s candidature was especially opposed by Archbishop Anthony of Geneva. The two men had never been friends... 


[2] Mikhail Tiurenkov, “Operatsia ‘Sviaschchennaia Korova’: rassekrecheny materialy TsRU o tajnakh tserkovnogo dvora” (Operation ‘Holy Cow’: CIA materials on the secrets of the church court declassified)Tsargrad, February 12, 2020, tajnah-cerkovnogo-dvora_238100

[3] Victor Gaetan, “The Church Undivided”, Foreign Affairs, May-June, 2013, p. 118.

[4] Chetverikova, Izmena v Vatikane ili Zagovor Pap protiv Khristianstva (Betrayal in the Vatican, or the Conspiracy of the Popes against Christianity), Moscow, 2011, p. 35.

[5] Ulrich Duckrow, Conflict over the Ecumenical Movement, Geneva: The World Council of Churches, 1981, p. 53. 

[6] Proclamation of the Holy Mountain, in Alexander Kalomiros, Against False Union, Seattle: St. Nectarios Press, 2000, p. 101.

[7] Monk (later Metropolitan) Ephraim, Letter on the Calendar Issue, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston. The present writer remembers meeting the head of an Athonite monastery in a convent of which he was the spiritual father in the north of Greece. He admitted that he celebrated Christmas twice – first on the Greek mainland according to the new calendar, and then on Mount Athos according to the Julian calendar. 

[8] Full text in Eastern Churches Review, vol. I, No 1, Spring, 1966, pp. 49-50.

[9] Hebblethwaite, Paul VI: The First Modern Pope, 1993; in Fr. Alexey Young, The Rush to Embrace, Richfield Springs: Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society, 1996, p. 63. 

[10] Monk Benjamin, Letopis’ Tserkovnykh Sobytij (Chronicle of Church Events), part 5,, p. 29.

[11] Pogodin, “O Chine Priniatia v Pravoslavnuiu Tserkov’” (On the Rite of Reception into the Orthodox Church); Monk Benjamin, op. cit., part 5, pp. 24-25. 

[12] It was claimed by Matushka Anastasia Shatilova that the Sorrowful Epistles were in fact written by her father, Protopresbyter George (later Bishop Gregory) Grabbe. See Andrei Psarev, “The Development of Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia’s Attitude Toward Other Local Orthodox Churches”,, p. 8. 

[13] Full text in Ivan Ostroumoff, The History of the Council of Florence, Boston, pp. 193-199.

[14] A laudatory introduction was provided by the future Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia.

[15] Senina, “And his lot is among the saints...”, Vertograd-Inform, No 15, January, 2000, pp. 15-17. 

[16] LourieĢ, “The Ecclesiology of a Retreating Army”, Vertograd-Inform, No 3, January, 1999, pp. 24- 25 (English edition). 

[17] Rose, in Hieromonk Damascene (Christensen), Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, Platina, Ca.: St. Herman of Alaska Press, 2003, p. 397. 

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