Written by Vladimir Moss



     It is six months since the “Pascha before Pascha” – the union of the GOC of Greece with the Cyprianites and three Romanian, Bulgarian and Russian Synods. Enough time has passed in which to draw, if not final conclusions about its viability, at least preliminary ones.

     First, with regard to the “Ecclesiological Statement”. Unfortunately, this document appears to be constantly changing. The first, March, 2014 variant was Orthodox in itself, but inadequate because it did not contain explicit condemnation of the Cyprianite heresy, without which the union of the Cyprianite heretics to the True Orthodox Church remains problematical. That this is indeed a problem was confirmed by the behavior of one of the Cyprianites, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Etna, who, both before and after the signing of the unia, openly rejected the thesis that the new calendarists have no grace. He has now, it is reported, resigned; but this does not remove the problem. For his place has been taken by his disciple, Bishop Auxentios, who has always expressed the same, impenitently Cyprianite views. What is needed, at the very least, is that the two bishops should be forced to keep silent. If they do not, they should be defrocked. But all the indications are that the GOC Synod will never undertake such a step.

     In June, in response to pressure from the Romanian TOC, several additions were made to the text of the Ecclesiological Statement in order to “beef it up”. These were welcome – but they should have been included in the main text of the Statement, not added as footnotes. For footnotes can always be dismissed as “optional”.

     The June version of the Statement was also notable for the fact that the Bulgarian Church was not a signatory to it. The present writer does not know what exactly is happening in the Bulgarian Church. But evidently there is deep dissatisfaction with the unia…

     It appears that the June version will not be the last version of the Ecclesiological Statement. The Romanian Church is demanding further changes… Also, one of the Cyprianite bishops, Ambrose of Methone, has said that the Statement was merely a “discussion document”… But if the Statement is merely a “discussion document”, then it is not a Confession of Faith. For Confessions of Faith are set in stone; they cannot be altered, they are not movable feasts that can be added to or subtracted from at will, nor are they simply trial balloons, “discussion papers”.

     So our first conclusion is that the Ecclesiological Statement, the foundation of the whole union, is a highly controversial document, even among its original signatories, and that its very status is unclear and problematical.



     A second major problem that has emerged in relation to the unia is the highly controversial position of Metropolitan Agathangel and his Synod. Agathangel is a schismatic from the Russian Church. He was the last bishop to leave the sinking ROCOR (L) Synod in 2007, and signed all its traitorous decisions in favour of union with the Moscow Patriarchate and against the confessing Russian bishops and clergy. He was saved from drowning completely only by his refusal to join that union in May, 2007. But then, instead of joining those Russian bishops who had abandoned the sinking ship before him, and in spite of a generous offer to unite with his former Synod of RTOC under Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk (who had every reason to distrust him), he declared all the other Russian bishops (not only of RTOC, but also of ROAC and ROCOR (V)) to be schismatics! To add injury to insult, he then proceeded to create an illegal Synod under his leadership with the aid of the heretical Greek Cyprianite bishops.

     But this was not all. It is well known that Agathangel has no idea about ecclesiology. Hence his notorious 1996 statement, shortly after he became a bishop, that not only World Orthodoxy, but also the Catholics and the Monophysites have the grace of sacraments! In accordance with this “flexible” ecclesiology, Agathangel decided to commemorate the former Patriarch Irenaeus of Jerusalem. Now Irenaeus was probably unjustly defrocked by the World Orthodox in 2004. However, he was and is a product of World Orthodoxy, and as far as we know was in full communion with World Orthodoxy during his tenure as patriarch.  Therefore for Agathangel to enter into communion without any preliminaries whatsoever, and to receive priests in the Holy Land “with the blessing of Patriarch Irenaeus” is unacceptable.

     Knowing that they could not unite with the Cyprianites without also uniting with Agathangel, the GOC Synod decided to close their eyes to his serious canonical deficiencies and enter into communion with him and his Synod virtually without examination. Moreover, they accepted the validity of the Cyprianites’ ordination of bishops for Agathangel… But they insisted on his fulfilling three conditions: (i) that he refrain from giving communion to people outside True Orthodoxy, (ii) that he gradually move to a stricter method of receiving people from World Orthodoxy (chrismation or baptism), and (iii) that he refrain from communion with Patriarch Irenaeus. 

     According to the witness of a Russian priest of GOC in Russia, Agathangel has more or less fulfilled the first condition, but not the two others. Nevertheless, without waiting for the fulfillment of these conditions, the GOC Synod in June decided to transfer the nine Russian priests formerly in their jurisdiction inside Russia into the jurisdiction of Agathangel. But some of the priests protested that Agathangel had not abandoned his Cyprianite practices, and was still in communion with Irenaeus. They wrote to the GOC Synod, but to this date (September, 2014) have not received a reply…



      So after six months it is hard to deny that the unia is not in the best of health. Problems have arisen with it in the United States, in Bulgaria, in Romania and in Russia. Of course, supporters of the union would say that these are only “teething troubles”, which will soon be sorted out, if they have not been sorted out already. Perhaps… Nevertheless, the overall impression is one of haste, mismanagement and confusion.

      Moreover, the conclusion that the present writer came to towards the end of his earlier article, “The Kallinikite Unia” has been confirmed: that True Russian Orthodoxy has been dealt a treacherous blow, and that while the union of large parts of True Orthodoxy in Greece, the Balkans and the United States may look attractive and constructive, a very high price has been paid for it – a deepening of the rift with the Church of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors, the sole real foundation for a resurrection of the Orthodox Church in our time…


September 12/25, 2014.





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