A Critique of Old Calendarist Ecclesiology

Panagiotis M.

The author of this study is a layman with a keen interest in the given subject. He has avidly researched the phenomenon of Greek Old Calendarism, and produced what is possibly the most thorough analysis and refutation of it available in English. We present it here not as an apology for the new calendar, but as a an analysis of what the holy fathers call "a temptation from the right".

* * *

Middle Ages astronomical manuscript Middle Ages astronomical manuscript
Since its inception, the Old Calendarist movement has generated a substantial degree of debate. Although not all Old Calendarist groups share the same beliefs, the following three views are certainly among the most prevalent:

1) Ceasing commemoration of heretical hierarchs is obligatory (not optional)

2) Communion ought to be broken not only with erring clergymen, but also with those who, albeit Orthodox, maintain communion with them

3) Heretical clergy lose the grace of the mysteries even prior to synodal condemnations

The purpose of this paper is to critique these tenets using a range of examples from the history of the Church. Moreover, since several other matters relating to zealotry (such as the change in the Church’s Calendar) also remain highly misunderstood amongst both Old Calendarists and New Calendarists alike, they too shall be addressed.

The New Calendar

Let us begin by addressing the claim, extraordinarily widespread in Old Calendarist literature, that the calendar currently in use by various Patriarchates was anathematised by the Pan-Orthodox Synods of the 16th century. Firstly, for the sake of accuracy, it must be noted that the 16th century condemnations applied only to the papal or Gregorian Calendar, which remains distinct from the Revised Julian Calendar currently in use today. It is also important to note that the Gregorian Calendar possesses a revised Paschalion (the set of rules for determining the date of Pascha), unlike the Revised Julian Calendar, which still retains the traditional Paschalion. Although the Revised Julian Calendar's Menaion (the yearly fixed cycle of services) was indeed changed, the only condemnation which applies to the new Menaion – sometimes called the Menologion – is contained in the so-called Sigillion of 1583. Unknown to many, however, is the fact that this Sigillion is in actuality a forgery1. This is not to say that the synod of 1583 itself did not occur, however – the historical facts are much more nuanced.

To summarise the matter briefly, the fabrications of an Athonite monk, Father Iakovos of New Skete, were eventually compiled into Codex No. 722 of the Monastery of St. Panteleimon. To this day, the codex is cited repeatedly by zealots in support of the claim that the Revised Julian Calendar is “under anathema.” Yet, to quote a well-documented Old Calendarist study on the supposed Sigillion1(pp5-6):

a. The title: a pure invention of the compiler

b. The date: this document was allegedly composed on November 20, 1583, which is actually the date of the joint Epistle of Patriarchs Jeremiah and Sylvester, whereas the text presented in the Sigillion was composed in 1616.

c. The signatures: Patriarchs Jeremiah (†1595) and Sylvester (†1590) were no longer alive in 1616, and Patriarch Sophronios had already abdicated by 1608.

d. The text: it belongs to Loukaris (1616) and not to the Synod of 1583, and its content is not only entirely unrelated to the calendar question, but is also appallingly garbled.

e. The anathema: whereas in Loukaris’ text, there are six anathemas, pertaining to Roman Catholic teachings, the compiler has added to the Sigillion a seventh anathema concerning all who follow the “newly invented Paschalion and the New Menologion of the atheist astronomers of the Pope [sic].”

According to the “Father” of Old Calendarism, Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina2(p59), the synods of the 16th century

condemned the Gregorian Calendar, but… this condemnation concerns the Latins, who implemented this calendar in its entirety, whereas the Archbishop adopted half of it, applying it to the fixed Feasts and retaining the Old Calendar for Pascha and the moveable Feasts, precisely in order to bypass the obstacle of this condemnation.

Indeed, it should be made clear that the revised Paschalion was the primary reason why the Gregorian calendar itself was condemned. Thus1(p3)

“Therefore, the Eastern Fathers, having convened a Synod in Constantinople [in 1583], when the so-called correction of the date of Pascha devised by the Roman Church was first proclaimed, resolved to uphold the Tradition of the Fathers in every way possible… I had previously sent word to Rome, proving that it was correct to celebrate Pascha according to the rule (Kανόνιον) of the Fathers and beseeching them not to increase the disagreements between the Churches…” (Meletios Pegas, Epistle XXIII)

In “the year of salvation 1587... those present synodally rejected the correction of the date of Holy Pascha made by Pope Gregory XIII as parlous, unnecessary, and the cause of many scandals to all Christian nations…” (Hypselantes, Tὰ Mετὰ τὴν Ἅλωσιν, p. 113)

On February 12, 1593...a permanent [Holy and Great, ‘Plenary’] Synod was convened… The decisions of this Synod were published in a “Synodal Act,” which included “a rejection of the New Calendar, that is, the innovation of the Latins concerning Pascha.” (Paraskevaïdes, Mελέτιος ὁ Πηγᾶς, pp. 113ff)

Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem, in the Paralipomena of Book XI of the Δωδεκάβιβλος (ch. 11, §18), repeats in summary form that the “Plenary” Synod in Constantinople in 1593 decided “that Pascha should occur as determined by the First Synod and that the calendar concocted by the Latins should be anathematized.”

[The synod of 1593] “subsequently promulgated Canons pertaining to Church order,” the eighth of which mentions the wish of the Hierarchs that “what was decided by the Holy Fathers regarding the Holy and salvific Pascha should remain unshaken”—“what was decided” being the First Canon of the Synod of Antioch (341), which the Synod of 1593 repeated verbatim (Paraskevaïdes, Mελέτιος ὁ Πηγᾶς, pp. 113ff) [Emphasis added]

Taking into consideration the above, it is evident that the anathematisation of the Gregorian calendar by the Pan-Orthodox Synods stemmed from its altered Paschalion, while the calendar in use today (without this condemned innovation1) is not the same as that which was “concocted by the Latins.” To cite yet another “True Orthodox” source,3

…it was recognized by all soundly-believing zealots in the 1930’s that the Pan-Orthodox Synods only condemned the adoption of either the complete Gregorian Menaion and Paschalion Calendar or the adoption of the Gregorian Paschalion [Emphasis added]

Clearly, the Revised Julian Calendar remains untouched by these condemnations. This is not to say, of course, that the introduction of this Calendar was the best course of action. Indeed, it may certainly be criticised - particularly due to the fact that it was unilaterally introduced in a manner contrary to Orthodox ecclesiological principles. Yet, as this paper shall conclusively demonstrate, schism is not an appropriate solution to the problem.

Firstly, it may be useful to briefly examine the view of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) vis-à-vis the New Calendar. For one, ROCOR itself allowed the New Calendar to be used in some of its jurisdictions in order to accommodate converts4. Moreover, in his letter to the Hieroschemamonk Theodosius, who was considering breaking from his Archbishop, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) stated the following5:

Of course, I do not agree with your conclusion at all. The question remains that while recognizing holy tradition and witnessing their violation, in this case by the Greeks, one must still pose the following question: does such violation justify ecclesiastical separation or only reproof? You, Father, are one step away from falling into prelest [spiritual delusion]. May the Mother of God preserve you from the next step. I write to you as a benevolent friend: do not destroy your 40-year podvig [spiritual struggle] by a judgment of the Church on the basis of your relative formalism—relative and also arbitrary. The new calendar is no less distasteful to me than it is to you, but even worse is a break from Orthodoxy and its hierarchy by self-loving monks.

The synod of bishops itself was categorical6:

Our Church keeps the Old Calendar and considers the introduction of the New Calendar to be a mistake. Nevertheless, according to the policies of Patriarch Tikhon of blessed memory, we never broke spiritual communion with the canonical Churches in which the New Calendar had been introduced.

Do ecclesiastical penalties apply automatically?

St Nikodemos the Hagiorite St Nikodemos the Hagiorite
Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the Revised Julian Calendar presently in use was condemned by the synods of the 16th century. This raises a very important question – do the ecclesiastical penalties of excommunication, deposition, and anathematisation apply automatically to wrongdoers? If this were the case, then the legitimacy of every Old Calendarist hierarchy in existence would be in doubt (as we shall see). But first, let us consider the viewpoint of St Nikodemos the Hagiorite in his famous Rudder7(pp5-6):

We must know that the penalties provided by the Canons, such as deposition, excommunication, and anathematization, are imposed in the third person according, to grammatical usage, there being no imperative available. In such cases in order to express a command, the second person would be necessary. I am going to explain the matter better. The Canons command the council of living bishops to depose the priests, or to excommunicate them, or to anathematize laymen who violate the canons. Yet, if the council does not actually effect the deposition of the priests, or the excommunication, or the anathematization of laymen, these priests and laymen, are neither actually deposed, nor excommunicated, nor anathematized. They are liable to stand trial, however, judicially, here as touching deposition, excommunication, or anathematization, but there regarding divine vengeance…

So those silly men make a great mistake who say that at the present time all those in holy orders who have been ordained contrary to canons are actually deposed from office. It is an inquisitional tongue that foolishly twaddles thus without understanding that the command of canons, without the practical activity of the second person, or, more plainly speaking, of the council, remains unexecuted, since it does not act of itself and by itself immediately and before judgement. The Apostles themselves explain themselves in their c. XLVI (46) unmistakably, since they do not say that any bishop or presbyter who accepts a baptism performed by heretics is already and at once actually in the state of having been deposed, but that they command that he be deposed, or, at any rate, that he stand trial, and, if it be proved that he did so, then “we command that he be stripped of holy orders by your decision,” they say. [Emphasis added]

The words of St Nikodemos are clear and conclusive – canonical penalties do not apply automatically prior to a synodal trial and verdict. A competent ecclesiastical authority must actually apply the penalty (i.e. deposition, excommunication, or anathematisation) to the offender in question. Moreover, it may be observed that a wide range of canons (such as those of Carthage, which anathematised Pelagianism) condemn not only disciplinary errors, but also heresies7. As such, it is interesting that St Nikodemos uses Canon XLVI (46) of the Holy Apostles as an example in his passage quoted above. The canon itself reads as follows7(p68):

We order any Bishop, or Presbyter, that has accepted any heretics’ Baptism, or sacrifice, to be deposed; for "what consonancy hath Christ with Beliar [Belial]? or what part hath the believer with an infidel?"

The issue here is not merely disciplinary (after all, according to St Nikodemos himself, the Church often allowed the use of oikonomia), but also contains a dogmatic component relevant to contemporary ecumenism. Indeed, the Saint notes in his commentary that the canon applies to those who accept heretical baptisms/sacrifices as “correct and true.”7(p68) It is telling that this canon was used as an example by the Saint in a section explaining that no one is excommunicated, or deposed, or anathematised automatically. It would appear that St Nikodemos was providentially rebuking those Old Calendarists who declare New Calendarists graceless and automatically condemned, in direct opposition to the holy canons.


Girolamo and cardinal Marco Corner investing Marco, abbot of Carrara, with his benefice, Titian, ca 1520> Photo: Wikipedia Girolamo and cardinal Marco Corner investing Marco, abbot of Carrara, with his benefice, Titian, ca 1520> Photo: Wikipedia

One example of a rather severe violation during the time of St Nikodemos is the widespread simony (the buying or selling of church offices/roles) which plagued the Church under the Sultans. According to Canon 22 of Trullo7(p315) (cf. Apostolic Canon 29; Canon 2 of Chalcedon; Canon 90 of St. Basil the Great; the Epistles of St Gennadius Scholarius and St. Tarasius of Constantinople, etc.)

We command that those men be deposed from office, whether they be Bishops or Clergymen whatsoever, who have been ordained or are being ordained for money, and not in accordance with a test and choice of life.

Commenting on this in the Rudder, St. Nikodemos remarks7(p315)

Read, and sigh, my brother, at the violation of such sacred and such momentous Canons; for today that is manner in which simony is practiced, as though it were a virtue, and not a heresy detested by God, as most saintly Gennadius calls it.

Indeed, the clergy of those times often purchased their orders and subsequently forced the laity to pay them back for their expenses, a practice strongly criticised in a document from 18068(p134):

…Oh, you vile Synod of Constantinople, in what way do you resemble the holy and God fearing apostles who carried the word and wisdom of Jesus Christ? Perhaps in the poverty and disinterestedness which you preach? But you are full of the money you steal every day from miserable Christians... Your rage for money is indescribable.

St Nikodemos presents the patristic perspective on simoniacs7(pp44, 958-959) as follows:

Pope Gregory in writing to Regas Carolus says that “the simoniacs are the greatest of all heretics” (p. 323 of the Volume of Love); and Gennadius Scholarius says that simony was the cause of Christians incurring the disasters inflicted by godless barbarians, because it is the greatest of sins and a most terrible piece of ungodliness, and because it is a heresy regarding the first article of the faith” (p. 207 of the same volume). Isidore the Pelousiotes says: “Everyone, then, that buys Holy Orders is in the same category as Caiaphas the Christ-killer. For what he cannot get entrusted to him by works, he manages to secure with ungodly dogmas” (Epistle 315)…

At this point the Saint [Tarasius] turns to the Pope and tells him that the ungodly heresy of the simoniacs is worse than the heresy of the Pneumatomach Macedonius and his party. For those persons used to say that the Holy Spirit was a creature and servant of the Father, whereas simoniacs make the Holy Spirit out a servant of their own. [Emphasis added]

Thus, the saint grieved over the violations of the canons in his own time, yet without entering into schism or establishing parallel hierarchies. Although many other transgressions (also criticised by the saint) occurred in those days, this example is significant because simony, as mentioned above, may be considered not only a canonical violation but also a heresy strongly condemned by holy councils and fathers [“greatest of all heretics”; “worse than the heresy of the Pneumatomach Macedonius” etc]. The fact that the Kollyvades did not wall themselves off raises the question – were they therefore “infected” by the errors of their hierarchs? Were they sinning in not breaking communion? If such an action is somehow obligatory, we would be forced to condemn these saints (and many others), an absurdity which no Old Calendarist would admit. Moreover, as we shall see, this example is but the “tip of the iceberg.”

Opposition to Hesychasm

Photo: stsl.ru Photo: stsl.ru

In 1341, 1347 and 1351, authoritative synods (which have already in essence been accepted as Ecumenical by the Orthodox Church, with a formal declaration likely to follow in the future) defended the doctrine of Saint Gregory Palamas on the essence-energies distinction and condemned his opponents. What is little known, however, is that the distinction itself was not the only matter under debate. Thus, in the Tomos of the synod of 13419 (pp329-330, 332-333) we read:

Furthermore, Barlaam was found to have made many misrepresentations and accusations in writing against the practitioners of the silent life. At the same time he attacked the prayer customary with them, or rather with all Christians, the “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” …

So by these words Barlaam was revealed and refuted as speaking blasphemously and heretically both about the divine light on Tabor and in his allegations against the monks concerning the sacred prayer which they practice and recite repeatedly

And therefore we declare that if, on the one hand, he [Barlaam] shows true repentance and corrects himself, and is no longer found speaking and writing concerning such matters, it is well; but if not, he shall be excommunicated and cut off from the holy, catholic and apostolic church of Christ and from the orthodox community of Christians.

Furthermore, if anyone else should appear again repeating any of his blasphemous and heretical spoken or written accusations against the monks or in any way harassing them in such matters, he will be subject to the same condemnation from Our Modesty; he shall also be excommunicated and cut off from the holy, catholic and apostolic church of Christ and from the orthodox community of Christians. [Emphasis added]

This condemnation of those who reject the Jesus Prayer/Hesychasm is important due to the fact that there have been numerous cases in Church history where it was explicitly violated. A prime example of this is in the Church of Russia. According to Grillaert10(p191),

Although Nil’s type of spirituality attracted a lot of followers in both monastic and lay circles, hesychasm and the related type of monasticism was suppressed by the church authorities and pushed into the margins of Russian Orthodoxy: there was a series of persecutions against Nil’s followers and the church started consciously suppressing the hesychast movement (Billington 1966: 63-64; Figes 2003: 294). The ban on Nil’s monasticism cut Russian religious consciousness off from the hesychast tradition, as practiced on Mount Athos and deeply rooted in the patristic tradition. Russian spiritual life and monasticism was even further in decline after the church reforms of Peter the Great in the beginning of the 18th century. Peter the Great’s (and Feofan Prokopovic’s) installation of the “Spiritual Regulation” in 1721 turned out to be detrimental for Russian spirituality: the Russian church was turned into a state-controlled and secularized institution that served the tsar’s political ambitions rather than guarding its spiritual life.

Thankfully, the patristic revival initiated by St Paisius Velichkovsky, the Optina elders and St Seraphim of Sarov gradually restored hesychasm in Russia. However, as late as 1913, S.V Bulgakov’s handbook for church servers11(p85), officially sanctioned and published by the Russian Orthodox Church, refers to hesychasm in a fashion very similar to Barlaam himself:

One finds a stunning distortion of Hesychasm in the Nastol’naia Kniga [Handbook], which has an entry on Hesychasm in a section dedicated to “Schisms, Heresies, Sects, Etc.” that informs us that the Hesychasts were

“a group of monastic mystics in Greece in the fourteenth century distinguished by the strangest reveries. They honored the navel as the center of spiritual energies and, consequently, the center of contemplation; they thought that, by lowering their chin towards the chest and gazing at their navel, they would see the light of Paradise and rejoice in seeing celestial inhabitants.”

The entry concludes by telling us that, happily, the

“nonsensical opinion of the Hesychasts about the means of the apprehension of the uncreated light was soon given over to oblivion on its own” …

As for the state of Hesychast practice in Russian monasteries at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, one need only recall the letters of Bishop Ignatii (Brianchaninov) or the persecution endured by many of the Elders of Optina Pustyn’ for the perceived novelty of Eldership.

Were the pre-revolutionary Russian bishops automatically deposed for espousing a doctrine “condemned by holy Councils, or Fathers?”7(p471) The answer to this question must be yes only if the flawed Old Calendarist interpretation of canon 15 (of the First-Second Synod) is adhered to.

Additionally, St Barsanuphius of Optina12(pp138-139), in his talk on August 11, 1909, noted that the Jesus Prayer was treated with distrust by his contemporaries:

He (Fr. Benedict) was given several tasks to perform by the elder—among other things, to find out if the Jesus Prayer was being done in monasteries. He travelled to many monasteries and convents and came to a sad conclusion: this most necessary prayer has been abandoned almost everywhere, especially in convents. Those who are still doing it are like candles that are almost burnt down.
Earlier, it was not only monks who did the Jesus Prayer—it was also done without fail by people in the world (for instance, the famous historical figure Speransky did the Jesus Prayer and was always joyful, despite his many labors). But now even monks regard this labor distrustfully. For example, one might say to another, “Have you heard?”
“Fr. Peter has begun doing the Jesus Prayer.”
“Really? Well, he’ll probably go out of his mind.”

Fr John Romanides refers to a similar phenomenon in Greece13:

It [hesychasm] was persecuted because the countries in which it had flourished started to become Westernized politically as was the case in Russia after the reforms of Peter the Great and in Greece after the revolution of 1821…

The Franks knew full well that they had correctly identified hesychasm as the source of Orthodoxy’s strength. So what did they do to get rid of it? After the Revolution of 1821 and the founding of the Modern Greek State, the Franks deliberately set out to undermine hesychasm, and Adamantios Korais took it upon himself to do just that. After the revolution of 1821, Korais declared war against hesychasm at the same time that the Russians and the Europeans were also setting their sights at undermining hesychasm and uprooting it from the Christian tradition. This is how we have reached the point where today we consider hesychasm to be an unimportant detail within Orthodox tradition and an insignificant phenomenon from the past. In fact, we learned from the textbooks that we used in junior high that hesychasm is a heresy, a trivial and marginal tradition… [Emphasis added]

In the meantime, a renowned Roman Catholic specialist on Orthodox subjects named Martin Jugie (1878-1954) writes a book in Latin about the dogmatic teaching of the Eastern Church. In this book, he announces the death of hesychasm. He writes, “We can now say that hesychasm has disappeared.” A contemporary Greek historian and author of The History of the Greek Nation has said the same thing. He triumphantly announces that hesychasm is dead, that the words romaios, romios, and romaiosyni have now disappeared from the Greek language, and that modern Greeks no longer have a problem with their ethnic identity. Since hesychasm and Roman culture are not unrelated, the plan was to extinguish them both.

Of course, Jugie was not entirely correct - hesychasm was never completely forgotten, though at times it undoubtedly existed on the periphery. Thus, in Russia, through the efforts of St Paisius14(p37),

Athonite hesychasm re-vivified the corpse of Russian monasticism in the late 18th century, culminating in Optina. Nevertheless, these groups, while manifestly saintly, existed on the fringes of Russian life, and were held in suspicion by the increasingly secular and servile Synod.

Yet, as there was no synodal trial or condemnation, the Russian Church remained inside the bosom of the Church despite the widespread Barlaamism which plagued its existence, undoubtedly condemned by both holy fathers and synods. The fact that such teachings were being promulgated, and that this did not only touch the hierarchy but even monks and laity, is significant. Contemporary ecumenism as an ecclesiological heresy is promulgated today primarily by erring hierarchs, as opposed to the many monastics, laity, and clerics who are very often opposed to such abuses.

Yet even the hierarchies in modern times are not entirely compromised. Indeed, the jurisdictions of Georgia and Bulgaria have already synodally rejected ecumenical heresies while also refraining from participating in the WCC, and a significant proportion of bishops in the Serbian and Greek hierarchies also strongly oppose syncretistic ecumenism - to provide the more obvious examples15. Moreover, many clergymen and laypeople even in the Ecumenical Patriarchate retain fully orthodox beliefs (in addition, of course, to the Athonite monks), and it could even be argued that the heresy of anti-hesychasm was more widespread in medieval Russia than ecumenism is in some “New Calendarist” jurisdictions. Since zealous Old Calendarists declare New Calendarists to be deprived of grace, by their own reasoning the abuses listed above should have rendered the Church of Russia (and Greece) equally graceless. Furthermore, if those who remain in communion with those in heresy are also under anathema, then Orthodoxy itself would have ceased to exist in those times, as no “walling off” occurred. Indeed, none of the other local Churches broke off from the Russian Church – despite the fact that in 1727 the patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem and Constantinople, as well as the Greek bishop of Trnovo, synodally reaffirmed the theology of Saint Gregory Palamas16(vol 37) – and neither did the persecuted Russian hesychasts/saints enter into schism. Ultimately, today’s Old Calendarist groups should - by their own reasoning - trace their roots to self-anathematised and invalid hierarchies.

Anti-Palamism in the 14th century

St. Gregory Palamas St. Gregory Palamas
On the matter of whether depositions occur automatically, it is also worth quoting the Palamite synod of 13519 (pp336-337, 345-346):

But he who always rejoices at our calamities [the devil] did not even thus know how to keep peace, nor did he go around seeking to remedy a lack of agents. He still had some who had kept company with Barlaam and that Akindynos, and were fatally ill with their disease. Through them he subjected to himself the one who is called bishop of Ephesus and the bishop of Gannos, Gregory and Decius. These men formed a society and collected other persons as companions, never thinking up anything healthy at any time, stirring up dissension against the church of God, zealously striving to lead the many astray and to cut them off pitiably from the church, supposing that they would obtain glory from this for themselves. So it was necessary because of this to assemble a great council, as our most clement emperor took pity on the souls which were perishing

When these men had been altogether refuted in this way, they were summoned by the church to repentance. First our most clement emperor with attractive and appealing words exhorted them vehemently not to turn away from the good medicine of repentance. But they did not accept, saying openly, "I do not wish to know your ways." For they persisted in what they understood badly from the beginning. Therefore by the glorious command of our mighty emperor and the most holy ecumenical patriarch a tome was read which had been decided a little time before for deposition of the bishops of Ephesus and Gannos and others, on the grounds that they had caught the disease of Barlaam and Akindynos. It had not yet taken effect, because they were waiting for their change of heart and repentance, and were trying by every manner and means to elicit this with all eagerness and zeal

But as he saw that even so these men were incurably ill, holding once and for all to the former blasphemies and altogether rejecting repentance, taking up zeal worthy not only of himself and his virtue since childhood, but worthy also of his patriarchal throne, he stripped the bishops of Ephesus and Gannos of their episcopal insignia and of all priestly functions, with the agreement of the holy synod… [Emphasis added]

Evidently, despite the fact that the bishops of Ephesus and Gannos preached heresy, and had a tome prepared for their deposition, the 1351 Tomos explicitly states that it “had not yet taken effect” as the church was eagerly awaiting their repentance. Evidently, the abovementioned bishops were not automatically condemned/expelled from the Church, even though the synods of 1341 and 1347 had already condemned the heresy of Barlaamism. Can one imagine any “True Orthodox” synod adopting this same attitude?

Let us also examine how the 1351 synod treated the other Barlaamites, after the deposition of the abovementioned bishops9(p346):

but the others with them, the leaders of the heresy and those who followed them in wickedness and were subject to condemnation with them, were dismissed. Some of them sought forgiveness and obtained this through repentance. And so this session ended.

From that time a few days passed, as our most clement and holy emperor had commanded, wisely keeping open the door of repentance for the dissenters. But as they still were incurable, he decided to gather another synod again [the fifth session], so that through examination the truth of orthodoxy concerning the problems raised would become more evident from the theological writings of the saints. [Emphasis added]

At the conclusion of this fifth session, the unrepentant dissenters who had been confronted with significant patristic testimony and still refused to accept Orthodoxy were “expelled from the catholic and apostolic church of Christ.”9(p371) Evidently, prior to the synodal verdict they were understood to be within the Church, as the Church would not have needed to “expel” or cast out those already outside its boundaries.

Ultimately, in the above passages one may observe a truly Orthodox ethos. Rather than a rabid disdain for the heterodox, we see a deep concern for those in heresy, and a sincere desire for their conversion. It is clear that the deposition of heretical hierarchs does not occur mechanically, but rather is contingent upon the Church’s will. The Church ultimately decides who to expel from her midst, and if she chooses to give heretics time to repent, this is her prerogative.

To provide another example, in 1368 (after the authoritative synods of 1341, 1347 and 1351), Prochoros Kydones propounded the already-condemned claim that the light of the transfiguration was created, among other heresies. However, he was not at all considered automatically deposed in relation to the issue of Barlaamism. According to Russell17(pp82, 85),

a local council was held, presided over by the bishop of Hierissos and the Holy Mountain, which anathematized Prochoros as an incorrigible heretic. When the patriarch [St. Philotheos Kokkinos] received the council's report, together with a copy of Prochoros's pittakion, he decided that the matter had to be brought as soon as possible before the 'holy and great synod' of metropolitans and bishops resident at the capital. Up to this point Philotheos had been hoping to deal with the affair himself on an administrative level. Events now forced him to initiate a legal process. The synod met in the spring of 1368. Philotheos presided and also led the interrogation of Prochoros…

Philotheos rested his case. After evidence was produced at some length of the cult rendered to Gregory Palamas in various places, each of the assembled metropolitans and bishops was asked his verdict. All found Prochoros's writings heretical - worse than those of Barlaam and Acindynus - and recommended his excommunication and deposition from the priesthood. Prochoros asked for a day's adjournment to reflect on the matter and prepare a defence, which was granted. But when the synod was reconvened, he refused to appear. After the canonical two summonses by the Great Church's legal officers, he was declared obdurate and sentence was confirmed. [Emphasis added]

Evidently, the initial council presided over by only a single bishop was not considered sufficient by Saint Philotheos, Patriarch of Constantinople. More importantly, the fact that Prochoros faced a “legal process” indicates that he was not at all considered automatically deposed by, or mechanically “under,” the previous synodal anathemas of 1341, 1347 and 1351. He was still considered a priest, subject to deposition, which is significant. He was, moreover, canonically summoned, given the opportunity to prepare a defence, and properly sentenced/condemned by the synod. By comparing this summary of the 1368 synod with various Old Calendarist actions against the “World Orthodox” (which we shall soon analyse), it should become rather obvious that the Old Calendarist perspective on synodal condemnations is far from “patristic.”

In short, then, the 14th century Palamite synods demonstrate that when a clergyman is accused of “falling under” a past condemnation, a competent synod shall summon that bishop or priest to trial to determine the truth of the accusations, and then (if the charges are found to be true and they refuse to repent) provide a sentence.

Canon 15 and other Old Calendarist misrepresentations

Before presenting additional examples from Church history, it is necessary to once again refer briefly to the much-abused canon 15 of the first-second synod. It may be noted that this particular ruling obviously cannot be used as a means for establishing new ecclesial bodies, as have the “True Orthodox.” Rather, it merely sanctions preliminary separation from a bishop who preaches heresy (openly) prior to an ecclesiastical trial. Thus, it has rightly been remarked18 that the term “pseudo-bishop”

prior to a synodal decision is heuristic or diagnostic in nature and not final and juridical or condemnatory. As a consequence of this grace-filled mysteries are still performed by the "pseudo-bishop" before a Synodal condemnation.

Given the examples that have been (and shall be) presented in this paper, it is impossible to read canon 15 as compulsory.

As an aside, it should also be mentioned that the majority (perhaps all) of the patristic proof-texts cited by Old Calendarists in support of breaking communion with “heretics” actually fit within one of the following three categories:

  1. Preliminary separation from a heretical hierarch (without establishing parallel jurisdictions or breaking off from the Orthodox hierarchs in communion with him), in accordance with canon 15. In these cases, grace has not yet departed, as the hierarch has not been deposed.

  2. Breaking communion with synodally-condemned hierarchs, which is indeed required.

  3. Avoiding communion with schismatic groups (which may or may not hold heretical beliefs). It is often forgotten that, notwithstanding synodal condemnations, individuals can also sever themselves from the Church - not by propounding heresy, but by entering into schism and thereby forfeiting divine grace. For example, even if no synod had ever condemned the Papists for their heresies, they would nonetheless have remained outside of the Church as, according to Balsamon19 (writing in 1190),

For many years the Western Church has been divided in spiritual communion with the other four Patriarchates and has become alien to the Orthodox…

The Pope ultimately established parallel jurisdictions in the sees of Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, obviously indicating the existence of a schism20. St Basil, with reference to the views of Sts Cyprian and Firmillian, stated the following regarding schismatics in his first canon21:

For the beginning of the separation came about by schism, and those who revolted from the Church no longer possessed the grace of the Holy Spirit. For the imparting thereof ceased with the interruption of the continuity…But in breaking away, they became laymen, and thus they had no authority either to baptize or to ordain, since they no longer had the power to grant others the grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves had fallen.

The schismatics referred to by St Basil were generally Orthodox in their beliefs, but formed their own churches and thereby “no longer possessed the grace of the Holy Spirit.” Thus, the beliefs of schismatics are not necessarily relevant to the fact that they find themselves outside of the Church (though of course dogmatic differences do exist between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholics). One additional example from Church history involving heretical schismatics may be observed in the Non-Chalcedonians, who rejected the Fourth Ecumenical Council, established their own hierarchies, and splintered into a range of different sects22. In principle, however, no trial was required for each of their hierarchs for violating Chalcedon, as they had already left the unity of the Church by establishing their own.

Thus, it is evident that synodal condemnations not required only in the case of schismatic bodies. In the present circumstances, however, the New Calendarist jurisdictions have not entered into schism or established parallel hierarchies – indeed, it is the so-called “True Orthodox” who have done so prior to any synodal verdict (in a manner at least somewhat similar to the “Old Believers” in the 17th century, who also splintered many times amongst themselves). Obviously, this cannot be defended on the basis of the canons. To conclude the present section, we quote the succinct words of the archimandrite and canonist Epiphanius of Athens in his letter to a certain Fr Nicodemos (dated 22 July 1971):

there are two kinds of heretics: Those whom the Church has put on trial and has convicted and excised from Her Body, and those who have neither been convicted as yet by the Church, nor have left the Church of their own volition, but instead have remained in the Body of the Church. One such case is the case of the Patriarch. Patriarch Athenagoras has preached heretical beliefs. But he has not been convicted yet by the Church, nor has he renounced the Church and removed himself from Her. He has remained inside the Church and continues to minister inside the Church and consequently, he is still a channel of Grace; He performs Sacraments.

The Seventh Ecumenical Synod

7th Ecumenical Council. Miniature from the Menologion of Basil II. 976-1025. (Vat. gr. 1613. Fol. 108). Photo: pravenc.ru 7th Ecumenical Council. Miniature from the Menologion of Basil II. 976-1025. (Vat. gr. 1613. Fol. 108). Photo: pravenc.ru

Let us now return to our investigation of examples from Church history by presenting an anathema promulgated by the Seventh Ecumenical Synod (eighth proceeding), which decreed that “If anyone breaks any ecclesiastical tradition, written or unwritten, let him be anathema.”16(vol 3, p416) Of course, it is undeniable that many Church traditions have fallen into disuse, or been replaced, since the 8th century. One such practice is the “papalethra” tonsure of clergymen (an ancient haircut designed to resemble a crown of thorns, as seen in some icons of St Gregory Palamas) which, to quote St Nikodemos, was “adopted by the entire Church, both the Eastern and the Western”7(p315). Indeed, canon 21 of Trullo alludes to the ancient practice7, which was a distinctive mark of the clergy. Interestingly, this “ecclesiastical tradition” (to quote the anathema) fell into disuse centuries ago, and today not even Old Calendarist clerics implement this form of tonsure. If synodal condemnations are somehow “automatic,” it follows that clergymen and even entire local churches throughout the centuries have been mechanically and unknowingly been placed “under anathema,” without the offenders even being summoned to court. Indeed, Old Calendarist clerics, being human, have in all likelihood violated a range of written or unwritten “ecclesiastical traditions” throughout their lifetimes (including, but not limited to, the abovementioned tonsure). To be consistent with the overly rigid and “strict” ecclesiology propounded by many zealots, it would appear that they must of necessity consider themselves under condemnation and mechanically expelled from the Church. By treating ecclesiastical condemnations as automatic, and dismissing the need for conciliar trials, many “True Orthodox” have forced themselves into such an absurd ecclesiological position.

The 1913 Russian synod

At a Russian synod in 1913, the theology of St Gregory Palamas was yet again contradicted. According to Kenworthy,23(pp99-101)

Given the general ignorance of Palamas’s theology, therefore, it should not be surprising that the Synod’s reports and final epistle were inconsistent and contradictory in the ways in which they grappled with the distinction between the essence and operations of God. [Archbishop] Nikon likewise struggled to define his position…

In short, he is willing to define the energies as “divine” and as belonging to God, but asserts that it is incorrect to call them “God” because he equates this term with the divine essence. Although Nikon is aware of the distinction between the essence and operations of God, he (like others in the debate) was only superficially familiar with the theology of Gregory Palamas and therefore was groping for language and concepts to articulate that the energies are divine and yet not the same as God’s essence. The result is confused and contradictory…

Nikon… equated it [the term “God”] only with the divine essence. This point has continued in more recent debate, in which Alfeev and others assert that the opponents... did not understand the theology of Palamas, which made no firm distinction between theos and theotis, and that it would be proper to term the divine energies “God.”

The synod itself made the same error, as another scholar points out24:

…it should again be emphasized that the Palamite dogmas in fact remained terra incognita for the Russian ecclesiastical society: even if Gregory Palamas was remembered in the nineteenth century, this did not reflect in Russian theology. This ignorance is quite well revealed in the Synodal Letter where it was claimed that Gregory Palamas “nowhere called energies ‘God,’ but taught to call them ‘divinity’ (not Theós, but Theótis),” which was absolutely contrary to the doctrine of the Palamites.

Indeed, St Gregory did of course refer to the energies/activities/operations as “God” (Theos), while the Tomos of the synod of 13519(p357) reported and confirmed the following:

Saint Anastasius says, "The designation 'God' obviously refers to energy. It does not represent the very essence of God; for it is impossible to know this; but 'God' represents and reveals his theoretic energy to us." And again the same saint says: "The name 'God' does not signify the essence of Godhead, for this is incomprehensible and nameless; but from his theoretic energy he is called 'God' [theos], as the great Dionysius says, either from theein, that is 'to run,' or from aithein, which is 'to burn.'"

But the great Dionysius says, "If we should name the supersubstantial hiddenness 'God' or 'life' or 'essence' or 'light' or 'word,' we do not have in mind anything other than the powers brought forth from it to us, which are deifying or essence-making or life-generating or wisdom-giving…

Besides this, the great gift and energy of the Spirit, namely deification, according to which the saints are deified, is called "Godhead" by the saints, but the opponents of the metropolitan of Thessalonica say it is created Godhead.” [Emphasis added]

According to Sinkewicz25(p137)

The synod [of 1351] laid down six principal doctrinal tenets: [1] there is in God a distinction between his substance and his energy; [2] the energy is uncreated; [3] this distinction does not involve composition in God, for it is not a question of two substantial realities, since both belong to one unique God; [4] the Fathers used the term ‘divinity’ or ‘God’ (theotis, theos) for the energy; [5] the Fathers also spoke of the substance that surpasses or transcends the energy; [6] likewise, the Fathers asserted very clearly the incommunicability of the divine substance, while at the same time they speak of the real participation in the divine life or energy (PG 151, 732 C 754 B). [Emphasis added]

Of course, it may be said that the sparsity of Palamas’ works in Russia led to this error on the part of the synod, that it was made in ignorance, or that there was a misunderstanding. This might well be true, and it is not the intention of this writer to univocally label the Russian synod as heretical. Yet, it cannot be denied that from a purely factual perspective, Archbishop Nikon and the 1913 synod contradicted the Tomos of 1351 by stating categorically that “God” – a term of no small importance – cannot be applied to the energies. This would at least appear to place them “under” the anathema of the abovementioned synod9 – only if, of course, anathemas are treated as automatic and self-acting.

Furthermore, how is one to judge whether any adequate defences apply to the Russian bishops in this case? Is this not precisely the purpose of a synodal trial (which zealots deem unnecessary)? Certainly, if the current Ecumenical Patriarch were to make the same remarks, it is indisputable that he would immediately be labelled a Barlaamite by the zealots without the slightest trace of goodwill or concern for his circumstances. And yet, if Old Calendarists are to be consistent with their own “logic,” the Church of Russia fell into heresy in 1913 (or much earlier, due to the abovementioned examples of widespread Barlaamism throughout its history) and lost all grace - as if such absolutism has any place in the Church.

The 1983 anathema

Let us now return to present-day circumstances. What is one to make of ROCOR’s 1983 anathema against ecumenism? Is this the “smoking gun” that many “True Orthodox” writers desire? Absolutely not. For one, most Old Calendarist groups created a schism prior to the anathema. Secondly, let us consider a letter addressed to Fr. Ephraim of Holy Transfiguration Monastery dated December 22/January 4, 1986/7, written by starotsa John Hudanish:

This [the 1983 anathema] is an eloquent condemnation of ecumenism and a clear statement of our Synod’s rejection of it. What is not so clear, however, is the fact that this anathema is legislative in nature, rather than judicial, i.e., it is a codification of a theological principle into law, but not a verdict—much less a sentence… It is legislation. It is not judgment. And this is borne out by Metropolitan Vitaly in an article he wrote for "Orthodox Life" (No. 4, 1984, p. 32) while he was still Archbishop of Montreal and Canada. He wrote:

"Time will tell whether or not the other local Churches will adopt our resolution on ecumenism as the acts of the Ten Local Councils were, in their time, entered into the Books of the Canons of the Holy Apostles, the Sacred Ecumenical Councils and the Holy Fathers of the Universal Church."

"It is important to understand that since the 1983 anathema was promulgated by our Synod of Bishops, we now have a canonical basis for dealing with ecumenism and its adherents within our midst. But as with all other laws, the penalty prescribed by the 1983 anathema cannot be meted out to anyone without due process. Stated otherwise, before anyone can be excommunicated, there must be a determination of guilt in a canonical trial or synodical investigation….

"Therefore, strictly speaking, neither the Patriarch of Constantinople nor the Patriarch of Jerusalem has been excommunicated by the anathema of 1983... Furthermore, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has not subsequently convened to investigate allegations against either patriarch, nor to anathematize them under the 1983 resolution… [Emphasis added]

Again, according to Metropolitan Vitaly26 (after 1983):

At the present time, most other Orthodox Churches have been shaken to the core of their being by two successive blows: the new ecclesiastical calendar and ecumenism. Despite their impoverished state, however, we do not declare and may the Lord save us from ever having to declare them as having lost God’s grace.

It is important to note that none of the ROCOR bishops at that time contradicted the Metropolitan on his interpretation of the anathema, which is very revealing with regards to their overall intentions. Moreover, to quote one ROCOR clergyman27,

They [anathemas] do not impose themselves on those who violate them. Anathemas are warnings to the faithful, and individuals or local Churches are only separated from the Church by an anathema when a Synod of Bishops with the authority to do so, pronounces such a verdict on them. The purpose of an anathema is the salvation of the faithful, not their damnation. Anathemas guide us to the truth, and away from error. They are not legalistic traps, designed to catch the unsuspecting and send them off to hell. [Emphasis added]

Additional evidence that the anathema has been misinterpreted by zealots is the fact that ROCOR continued to concelebrate with “World Orthodox” jurisdictions even after its pronouncement, and performed many other actions inconsistent with the view that hundreds of millions of Orthodox believers had simply been expelled from the Church on one fateful day in 1983.

Fr. Seraphim Rose. Photo: orthodoxchurchquotes.com Fr. Seraphim Rose. Photo: orthodoxchurchquotes.com


Nonetheless, let us first examine the view of ROCOR prior to the anathema (when syncretistic ecumenism was already being preached bare-headed by hierarchs in Constantinople and elsewhere). Without hoping to undertake a comprehensive analysis, which would go well beyond the scope of this paper, it will suffice for us to cite the illuminating letters of Fr Seraphim Rose, who reposed in 198228:

“When our bishops in 1971 condemned the decision of the Moscow Patriarchate to give communion to Roman Catholics, they used strong language, calling it a “heretical” act; but they did not proclaim the Moscow Patriarchate to be deprived of grace, or to be totally fallen away from the Church. The bishops, on various occasions, have specifically refused to make such a proclamation; and in their statement at the 1976 Sobor they specifically addressed the sincere and struggling priests of the Moscow Patriarchate in terms reserved only for priests who possess and dispense the grace of God (as noted in our article on Fr. Dimitry)” [Letter 304; Dec. 28/Jan. 10, 1981]

“Evidently you [Dr. Johnstone] agree with Fr. Michael Azkoul who recently stated (Orthodox Christian Witness, Aug, 10/23) that “heresy has negated these ancient Sees. There is no ‘church,’ hence no Mysteries ” in the Churches of Moscow and Constantinople. I hope you are aware that our Russian Church Outside of Russia has never taught and does not now teach this; this is an opinion which has been introduced into our midst by some converts who think themselves wiser than our bishops. I am sorry that you seem not to see the obvious meaning of our Church’s not having communion with the Soviet Church: that way we stay free of politics and do not bind ourselves to bishops who are not free and who are often forced to betray the truth. But to state that this Church has no grace is a presumption our bishops have never dared to make. This view, in my opinion, is not at all the result of a sound or strict ecclesiology, but is the result of a too-strict logic (a typical disease of our Western mentality) being applied where it does not fit.” [Letter 311; August 13/26, 1981]

“Even today our bishops refuse to “define” in this manner and make everything “black and white”; and I am sure that, perhaps without exception, our bishops not only refuse to declare them [Moscow and Constantinople] without grace, but positively believe (at least by giving the benefit of any doubt) that they do have grace.” [Letter 207; May 22/June 4, 1976]

“Recently some wished to see such a “rebaptism” performed in our Western American diocese, but our Archbishop Anthony wisely refused to allow it, in which we gave him our full support—for indeed, it would have been tantamount to an open declaration of the absence of Grace in the Greek Archdiocese. Our bishops, by the way (whether at the 1974 Sobor or later, I don’t know) explicitly refused to make such a declaration when asked to do so by one of the Greek Old Calendar jurisdictions.” [Letter 216; [April 18/May 1, 1976]

“… our Church has open communion with the Serbian Church, Jerusalem, and probably others, and leaves separate hierarchs free to serve even with Constantinople if they wish.” [Letter 227; June 30/July 13, 1976]

Elsewhere, referring to an ultra-strict zealot, Fr Seraphim made the following comment which is still relevant in our days, given the sheer number of “True Orthodox” splinter groups29:

…he [the zealot] is in communion with only his own priest and ten other monks in his group on the Holy Mountain; all of the rest of the Orthodox Church is not "pure." Perhaps there are only ten or twelve people left in the world who are perfectly "strict" and "pure" in their Orthodoxy -- this I really don't know; but it simply cannot be that there are really only ten or twelve Orthodox Christians left in the world with whom one can have true oneness of faith, expressed in common communion. I think that you can see that there is some kind of spiritual dead-end here; even if we had to believe such a narrow view of Orthodoxy according to the letter, our believing Christian heart would rebel against it. We cannot really live by such strictness; we must somehow be less "correct" and closer to the heart of Orthodox Christianity. [Emphasis added]

And again30:

…our Church suffers attacks both from the left side (from ecumenists who accuse us of being uncharitable, behind the times, and the like) and from the right side (by groups in Greece that demand that we break communion with all Orthodox Churches and declare them to be without grace)…

A few years ago one of these [Old Calendarist] groups cut off communion with our Russian Church Abroad because our bishops refused to declare that all other Orthodox Churches are without grace; this group now declares that it alone has grace, only it is Orthodox. Recently this group has attracted some converts from our Russian Church Abroad, and we should be aware that this attitude is a danger to some of our American and European converts: with our calculating, rationalistic minds it is very easy to think we are being zealous and strict, when actually we are chiefly indulging our passion for self-righteousness… [Emphasis added]

Fr Seraphim’s comments would have had him defrocked in many “True Orthodox” jurisdictions. In any case, let us now examine the post-1983 situation. In addition to the aforementioned remarks of Metropolitan Vitaly (which, again, were never disputed by the synod), let us consider the testimony of one ROCOR clergyman31:

I was ordained a Priest in the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese in the United States. When I requested a canonical release to transfer to the ROCOR in 1983, it was granted by Metropolitan Philip, who could not have done so canonically had the AA [Antiochian Archdiocese] not been “in communion” with the ROCOR.
Having served for over 20 years as a Priest in ROCOR, I have *always* been invited to serve on any occasion that I have visited a parish of *any* Orthodox jurisdiction...in spite of the fact that I was unable to accept those invitations in some cases, the offer was always made. Nor have any parishioners of mine ever been denied Holy Communion in any Orthodox Church they have visited, nor has any Orthodox Christian (who was properly prepared) been denied Holy Communion in our parish. Probably many of us can relate opposite experiences on both sides: ROCOR and non-ROCOR. Those are sad exceptions to the real general practice.

The ROCOR protopriest George Larin, in a letter dated August 18/31, 1997 (to Fr. Stefan Krasovitsky), wrote32:

…we do not even have the right to perform Divine services in our churches in the Holy Land without the blessing of his Beatitude Diodorus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and... we perform the Divine Liturgy on antimens sanctified by his Beatitude, ... we pray for him and commemorate him in the litanies before our First-Hierarch... When hierarchs and priests and deacons arrive on pilgrimage in the Holy Land, they do not have the right (according to the canons of the Orthodox Church) to perform Divine services even in our churches without the Patriarch of Jerusalem’s special permission, which is why we go from the airport first to his Beatitude for a blessing!

Yet another ROCOR clergyman verifies the aforementioned testimony and adds some interesting historical remarks33

I have been a clergyman of the Church Abroad since 1968. I was the Chancellor of the Eastern-American Diocese under Metropolitan Philaret for six years (1976-1982) and acted as his personal secretary during that time, seeing him almost every day. I can tell you unequivocally that concelebrations with clergy of the Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Serbian Patriarchate continued unabated before 1983-1986, during 1983-1986 and after that time to this day.

There was never even one moment where the clergy (both permanent and visiting, including all of the bishops of the ROCOR) did not commemorate the Patriarch of Jerusalem at all Divine Services, or did not serve on antimensia that the Patriarch had given. There was never one moment when clergy of the Church Abroad withdrew from receiving communion at the Holy Sepulchre. And in all dioceses of the Church Abroad where concelebrations with Serbs (and, in some cases, EP and Antiochicans) took place, they continued to take place throughout this entire period to this day. This included the Dioceses of Western America, Syracuse and Holy Trinity, Washington and Florida, Chicago and Detroit, Australia and all of the European Dioceses.

I and my family took a five week trip all over Europe and the Holy Land precisely in the summer of 1985, i.e. after the Anathema of 1983, and I participated in concelebrations with Serbian clergy with our Bishops in the Western-European Diocese, and in the German Diocese, as well as with clergy of the Jerusalem Patriarchate in the Holy Land… And other senior clergy of the Church Abroad will happily corroborate, from their own experience, what I have written.

Given the duration and broad scope of these post-1983 activities (spanning at least four continents), they certainly cannot be regarded as “one-offs”. Obviously, ROCOR (following the undisputed sentiments of Metropolitan Vitaly) did not interpret its own anathema in the same fashion as the zealots. Legislative anathemas, in accordance with the writings of St Nikodemos, do not act mechanically. Until such a time as an erring hierarch is subject to a synodal trial, he retains his orders and the grace of the mysteries.

The Old Calendarist Encyclicals

It is also important to briefly analyse the Old Calendarist encyclicals of 1935, 1950 and 1974, which “True Orthodox” writers occasionally refer to as “synodal condemnations.” Interestingly, these documents refer to the Church of Greece as somehow schismatic over the mere adoption of the New Calendar in 1924, and the matter of ecumenism is not referred to at all34, casting severe doubt upon the initial justifications of those who established parallel ecclesial bodies. It would appear that the encyclicals rest upon the incorrect historical claim that the Revised Julian Calendar has been anathematised, as well as the manifestly false ecclesiological presupposition that an uncanonical action somehow equates to a schismatic action. Was the 17th century Russian Church in schism for introducing the three-fingered sign of the cross (which appears to have been condemned by the Russian Stoglav Council), and for persecuting those Old Believers who opposed the change? Were the simoniacs and other transgressors of the canons throughout history in schism and deprived of grace, in contradiction to St Nikodemos’s clear remarks about non-automatic canonical penalties?

The fact remains that the New Calendarist Churches remained in communion with those local Churches which retained the Old Calendar, and certainly cannot be considered as schismatic under St Basil’s first canon. Nor did those local Churches which retained the use of the Old Calendar (e.g. the Church of Serbia) perceive their New Calendarist brethren as schismatic. Moreover, not one of the abovementioned encyclicals may be called a synodal trial - rather, each document merely claims that the New Calendarists entered into schism due to their acceptance of the RJC, and therefore lost all grace (a patently absurd assertion).

Even various post-1974 documents, which finally addressed the matter of ecumenism itself, explicitly adhered to these earlier faulty encyclicals, and instead of initiating any sort of trial or conciliar expulsion, erroneously declared that the ecumenists had already removed themselves from the Church.34 Of course, even if the zealots had taken the care to hold an actual trial (with a canonically adequate number of bishops), they nevertheless deprived themselves entirely of the opportunity to “cast out” ecumenists as they not only unjustifiably established parallel hierarchies, but also considered all New Calendarists (incorrectly) to be in schism. How could they legitimately “expel” or cast out those who they mistakenly assumed to have already left the unity of the Church? Ironically, if the “True Orthodox” were to ever hold an actual conciliar “expulsion” of ecumenists from the Church, they would implicitly be recognising that their founding documents were mistaken and, indeed, that their movement itself has held an incorrect ecclesiological position for over half a century. The fact that the “Father” of Old Calendarism, Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina, did not consider the zealot declarations of lack of grace (which he inconsistently signed) to be sufficient, and continued to await a Pan-Orthodox Council2, is certainly revealing. Indeed, the Metropolitan explicitly referred to the words of St Nikodemos we quoted earlier in this paper, and commented that

Unless it is actually implemented by a Synod, the imperative force of the Canons remains unexecuted and does not act of itself, either immediately or before a decisionFrom this it follows that no clergyman who deviates from the boundaries of Orthodoxy is reckoned to be actually deposedThus, from a canonical standpoint, the following basic legal principle and dictum holds good: “No one is to be condemned without a defense.” Hence, in order for us to declare the innovating Hierarchs schismatics in actuality, as the conventicler Bishops have arbitrarily and uncanonically done, we would have to have all the requisite ecclesiastical and canonical wherewithal for setting up an ecclesiastical tribunal. This cannot be done, except by a Church that is recognized by all the local Orthodox Churches as autocephalous and endowed with the right validly to condemn those of her clergy who sin, whether in faith or in morals.

Ultimately, rather than undertaking a fair and competent conciliar evaluation, the authors of the abovementioned Old Calendarist encyclicals adhered to a naïve and simplistic ecclesiology completely at odds with the Orthodox ethos observed in the examples throughout in this paper. As we have seen, even the hieromonk Prochoros Kydones had legitimate ecclesiastical proceedings initiated against him, was canonically summoned and given the opportunity to prepare a defence, and eventually had a synod of bishops deliver a sentence against him9. The Old Calendarists, on the other hand, felt content to label entire local Churches as graceless (based solely on a Calendar change) without initiating a single trial against any of the leading innovators.

Proto-ecumenism in Greece

Returning to our examination of circumstances from Church history, it might also be noted that ecumenism as an ecclesiological heresy arouse prior to the commencement of the Old Calendarist movement. Indeed, the 1920 encyclical of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, “Unto the Churches of Christ Everywhere,” states the following regarding the various denominations35(p2):

that they should no more consider one another as strangers and foreigners, but as relatives, and as being a part of the household of Christ and ‘fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers of the promise of God in Christ’ (Eph. 3: 6).

Metropolitan Germanos, the primary editor of the document, interpreted it thus36(p30):

How wide the conception is which the Encyclical teaches at this point becomes clear in that it widens the notion of the relationships between the members of a single church – as members of one body according to St. Paul’s wonderful teaching – so as to apply it to the relationships between several churches.

To quote Fr Peter Heers37,

The importance of this interpretation of the encyclical by its main author and the architect of the Patriarchate’s ecumenical involvement cannot be underestimated. Here is the cornerstone of the ecumenical policy of the Patriarchate and the key point of synchronization with the developing “ecumenical ecclesiology” of the Protestants. In widening the notion of the church to include bodies neither ecclesiastically, sacramentally, or dogmatically in communion with the Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Germanos is in perfect harmony both with the foregoing “evangelical ecclesiology” which speaks of a “fellowship of an invisible church of Christ to which all ‘vital’ Christians belonged,” as well as the succeeding “ecumenical ecclesiology” which, although quite similar in its admission of an existing invisible “mystical” Body of Christ, seeks a manifest unity in Christ. [Emphasis added]

Interestingly, no schism occurred as a result of the 1920 encyclical. As we have seen, it was the calendar issue (and the many misinterpretations which flowed from it) four years later that precipitated the first Old Calendarist schism. If “walling off” is obligatory in the face of heresy, or if grace is immediately lost, then 1920 is the year that should be recorded in the history books. Yet, Old Calendarist sources38 (perhaps not recognising the potential implications of this) acknowledge that, at least 35 years prior, the Ecumenical Patriarchate enacted a decision allowing Armenian Monophysites to partake of holy communion. This was apparently preceded by an agreement recognising their priesthood and mysteries.

Of course, no other local church broke communion with Constantinople at that time in response to its “uniatism.” Did the Church cease to exist prior to the advent of the Old Calendar schism? It should also be noted that the phenomenon of “proto-ecumenism” extends even further back in time in the case of Russia, when the Greek Church still held to a correct ecclesiology (we shall address this in the section below). But it should also be made clear that in more recent times, Saints praised even by Old Calendarists - such as Archimandrite Justin Popovich - did not wall themselves off from ecumenists when confronted with heresy.

To quote Bishop Athanasius Yevtich39(pp36-37),

We were closely acquainted with the Blessed Father Justin and we know that he had never broke communion with any of the Orthodox Churches or a Bishop or a Patriarch, not even with the Serbian Patriarch Germanos (1958-1990)– as some zealots ‘shamelessly lie’ — not even when the Patriarch Germanos was one of the ‘presidents of the WCC’ (a formal and honorary title without any binding conditions or duties as indeed was the participation of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the WCC). As a free and responsible member of the Church of Christ, Justin prophetically reproved and, when necessary, criticized in written form (having written a couple of criticism letters to Patriarch Germanos and the Synod, inter alia, the letters pertaining to superficial western ecumenism). But on no account did he ever create a schism, but on the contrary used to say: “Schisms are easily made but they are enormously difficult to heal” (therefore he opposed the unwisely made and increasingly deepening ‘American Schism’ just as he was against ‘the Macedonian Schism’).

Moreover, according to another source40

Few know that, while openly denouncing the teaching of Patriarch Athenogoras as heretical, he [St Justin] felt that since the latter was not condemned by the Church, he, consequently, remained a part of her. That is why, when he learned of the death of the Patriarch, he served a pannikhida for his soul. [Emphasis added]

It is also worth mentioning that the great Elder Joseph the Hesychast (who is also highly esteemed by the zealots) experienced – along with his entire brotherhood – an outpouring of grace upon leaving the Old Calendarists. To quote just one of his disciples, Elder Charalambos41:

After siding with the monasteries [leaving the zealots], at first we did not commemorate the Patriarch. After we moved to New Skete, it was necessary one day to serve Liturgy at St. Paul’s Monastery where it was definitely required to commemorate the Patriarch. “What do I do now?” I asked Geronda. “Go and commemorate him, and when you return tell me what you felt.” I did as he said, and rarely have I received so much grace during the Divine Liturgy as I did that time! The tears flowed like a river throughout the Liturgy. I could barely say the petitions. When I returned back to Geronda, he said, “Surely you were flooded with grace.” “Yes, Geronda,” I said, and I told him what I had experienced. “Do you see, my child, that you are not sinning by commemorating the Patriarch, no matter what he said or did, since he has not been deposed?” [Emphasis added]

This is experiential theology at its most sublime heights. If only Old Calendarists could comprehend this principle! Ceasing commemoration is indeed allowed in some circumstances, but it is not obligatory, and certainly does not involve condemning everyone who remains in communion with a heretic as somehow deprived of grace. Matters are not so simplistic. It should also be noted that Elder Joseph’s brotherhood opposed ecumenism and was certainly Orthodox in its orientation. For example, Elder Ephraim of Katounakia, who reposed in 1998 (in communion with Ecumenical Patriarchate), at one time experienced by divine revelation that ecumenism is of unclean spirits42. Yet, he refused to create a schism, and followed a truly discerning course.

Proto-ecumenism in Russia

Many Old Calendarist synods passionately condemn those groups which believe that “World Orthodoxy” possesses grace-filled mysteries. It would be pertinent, therefore, to draw attention to the fact that many clergymen in the Russian Church during the 19th century regarded Roman Catholic sacraments as valid, grace-filled, and even effectual for salvation. Thus, William Palmer notes that in his discussion with a Russian Archpriest, the question of heterodox sacraments arose. Although the clergyman did indeed assert that the Orthodox Church is the true Church, and that those outside of its boundaries ought to become outwardly reconciled to it, he also claimed that43 (pp268-271)

though we are unbending concerning the Eastern Church, which we believe to be altogether right, while all others have fallen away, still we are not unreasonable towards those other erring Churches and Societies, but think that, wherever there is true baptism in the name of the Trinity, there may by God’s grace be good Christians, though the Society itself may be heretical... Christ is the centre of all; for belief in Him and love of Him is all in all by which the soul regenerated in baptism grows in life, and attains a more and more perfect state, or repairs by penitence what it may have lost by sin. So if there are, as there have been many, who, under difficulty and disadvantage, having been regenerated in baptism, have cultivated this inner life, not dwelling wilfully or maliciously on the errors of their society, nor making them their own, such men are Christians indeed, and we may cultivate a fraternal charity with them in consciousness of our inner invisible unity; though we must each remain outwardly separated… [Emphasis added]

In response, Palmer pointed out that

it is a dangerous doctrine to popularize, as it may lead those who are in error to underrate the importance of Orthodoxy and of conformity to the whole will of God…When it is evident that Churches and societies excommunicated by the Orthodox Church have erred in such various degrees, and that so many men have attained in them so high a degree of divine grace, when the grace of the Holy Spirit has so shone their lives and deeds and writings; how can we do otherwise than acknowledge them for Christians?

The Archpriest replied:

The fact is that some err more, some less, and the grace of God seems to work in all according to that truth which they have retained, and according to the dispositions of each individual to seek and love God. It seems to me like a great sphere revolving round the sun. All the different Churches and sects are attracted to the same centre and revolve round the same centre, but at different distances, that Church which is simply True, Orthodox, and Catholic, that is, the Eastern, being the nearest, and being joined to it by a more close and legitimate connexion : but of the rest some are farther off, some nearer, without there being any distinct separation or difference in kind. And since it is not that formal Orthodoxy of dogmatic opinion or of rite distinguishing the Orthodox Church from all others, but that principle of faith and love, that attraction to its centre, common to it with all the rest, which constitutes essential Christianity, hence, though it can never fraternize outwardly with any of them, yet inwardly there is no definite line of demarcation, but some who are without the pale may be better Christians than many of those who are within; the only difference being that they attain eminent sanctity with a certain herculean labour, and in spite of great obstacles, while in the true Church they have great facilities. [Emphasis added]

Sanctifying/deifying/mysteriological grace was explicitly acknowledged to operate outside the boundaries of the Church. Indeed, apart from the benefit of an easier path to sanctity, there appears to be little difference between those who remain inside the Orthodox Church, and those who are outside its boundaries - according to this view.

Moreover, similar sentiments were not uncommon in those times - thus, few are aware that44 (p386)

One of the major Russian works on Dogmatics in the nineteenth century was that of M. Bulgakov who applied Western criteria for the recognition of heterodox sacraments. In dealing with the question of baptism he accepts that even of heretics, if performed in the name of the Trinity, and rejects the idea of rebaptism, which he states was not the practice of the early Church. N. Milas, the great canonist of the Serbian Church, also applied Western criteria for the judgement of the validity of heterodox sacraments.

It is interesting that Old Calendarists often cite (Bishop) Milas as an authoritative source in claiming that walling off from heretical hierarchs is obligatory, rather than optional. Yet, they ignore the fact that if they are to treat this particular canonist as an authority, then they ought to also adopt a Western understanding of the mysteries in which they may occur outside of the Church. Indeed, Milas45 explicitly contradicted the “Greek” view in this regard, arguing (inconsistently) that

if there are other Christian groups who are outside the Orthodox Church and who have conscientious intention to bring a newly-baptized person into the Church of Christ (that is, they intend to impart divine grace to him through baptism, that by the power of the Holy Spirit he will become a true member of the Body of Christ and a reborn child of God), then the baptism received in such a group will be considered valid insofar as it has been performed on the basis of a faith in the Holy Trinity, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; for when baptism is given and received with faith, it must be effective to impart grace and Christ's help will not fail to be made manifest. [Emphasis added]

This is not to mention the tensions that exist between Milas’ approach and the actions of the Church’s saints throughout the past millennium. Furthermore, according to the “True Orthodox” writer Vladimir Moss46 (p61),

…in 1847 Emperor Nicholas I concluded a concordat with Pope Gregory XVI which envisaged that the Russian Orthodox Church would carry out all the sacraments and needs for those who turned to her with such requests from the Catholics exiled for their participation in the Polish rebellions against Russia, if they were living in places where there were no Catholic churches or Catholic clergy. In accordance with the meaning of this concordat and the order of the Emperor, the Synod then issued the corresponding command, which was obligatory for the Russian Orthodox clergy, to satisfy the requests of exiled Catholics, if such requests came from them. [Emphasis added]

If this occurred today in the Ecumenical Patriarchate, claims of uniatism and gracelessness would erupt in old-calendarist circles. Those remaining in communion with the Patriarch would undoubtedly be deemed heretics themselves. And yet, inconsistently, Russia in the 19th century remains immune from criticism. The local churches which did not wall themselves off from the Russians (namely, the entire Orthodox world) certainly did not sin in remaining in communion (and obviously did not automatically “lose grace”), as otherwise the gates of hell would well and truly have prevailed over the Church.

Continuing to the next example, after 13,000 uniats reunited with the Russian Church in 1841, Bishop (at that time an Archimandrite) Porfiry47(p173) told the Ecumenical Patriarch that “the Uniats, by their inner conviction and faith, have always been in communion with our Church and had no need to be re-baptized.” Evidently, the Russians accepted the validity of heterodox baptisms per se, and not out of any sense of oikonomia. Nevertheless, the Greek Church, despite its general disagreement with the Russian position at that point in time, wisely did not pursue the path of schism.

Perhaps the most striking example of this phenomenon is Saint Philaret of Moscow48, who, although rightly rejecting intercommunion, appears to disagree entirely with the theology of the Kollyvades (expressed by Constantine Ikonomos) in relation to the validity of heterodox baptism, writing that

If Palmer were not a reliable witness it would be difficult to believe that the learned Ikonomon considers Western Baptism at the same time both valid and invalid, depending upon the will of the Church that the affused person be baptized or unbaptized. Surely the efficacy of Baptism is in the name of the Trinity and in the sacramental grace given to it by the action of its founder, Christ the Lord. Surely human will, even though it were the will of the Church, cannot make Baptism to be a simple laver, or a simple laver to be Baptism. [Emphasis added]

These were not the only claims made by St Philaret in this regard, who also stated that “an Orthodox Christian is supposed, in the spirit of love, to joyfully find outside of the Orthodox Church a preserved grace”49 (p29) and, moreover, that “no church which believes Jesus to be the Christ will I dare call false50 (p24)” – a claim explicitly rejected by St Hilarion Troitsky.

Although the writer of this paper agrees with Sts Hilarion and Nikodemos on ecclesiological matters, the issue does raise an important question – was much of the Russian Church at the time deprived of grace for recognising valid and grace-filled mysteries amongst heretics? What is one to make of the fact that a synodal decree advocated the administration of communion to Roman Catholics? If today’s “True Orthodox” had lived in those times, they undoubtedly would have entered into schism and thereby severed communion with countless saints of the Church. Yet in those times, the differences in outlook between the Church of Russia (and perhaps Serbia) on the one hand, and various other local Churches on the other, did not result in schism - even after the Constantinopolitan synod of 1755 officially pronounced that the heterodox do not possess the grace of the mysteries and consequently are entirely unbaptised. This decree was signed by the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem,51 and was preceded by the Ecumenical Patriarch publishing an “Anathema of those who accept papal sacraments,” which was read aloud in the churches during those times.21 Additionally, as is well known, the Kollyvades Fathers vigorously rejected the validity of Roman Catholic sacraments, with the Rudder referring to their baptismal rites as “pseudobaptism[s].”7(p73) Also of relevance in this regard is apostolic canon 46 (ecumenically confirmed by canon 2 of Trullo and canon 1 of Nicaea II)7 which, as we have seen, commands the deposition of clergymen who recognise the mysteries of heretical groups. To this, one may add the early synods of Carthage and Iconium (attended by Saints Cyprian and Firmilian, respectively) which also firmly rejected the validity and efficacy of heterodox baptisms7. Thus, we must ask again: were the pre-revolutionary Russian bishops automatically cast out of the Church for espousing a doctrine which all Old Calendarists would agree is a heresy?

It is also important to note that Patriarch Anthimos of Constantinople understood very well the obvious differences that existed between the Churches of Greece and Russia on this issue during his time, as well as its enormous significance, and consequently arranged for a council to be held in 1853 so that the matter could be discussed44. He refused to rashly condemn anyone, and did not create a schism, as today’s Old Calendarists would advocate. Moreover, it is interesting that the Russian hierarchs in those times also understood that differences existed between the two Churches, and even feared that the Greeks would consider them heretical.44 Nevertheless, due to a range of factors (including the onset of the Crimean war) the desired council never took place44, and in lieu of any synodal condemnations the Church of Constantinople remained in communion with the Church of Russia. Were the Greeks (and, indeed, the other local Churches) under condemnation?


Finally, it may be pertinent to briefly address the matter of Sergianism. For many Old Calendarists, the subordination of 20th century Russian hierarchs to the interests of the secular state automatically deprived the Russian Church of grace and rendered it schismatic. And yet, if this is the case, Old Calendarists would necessarily be forced to admit that the Russian Church lost divine grace much earlier, in the 18th century. This is due to the fact that a very similar phenomenon occurred in Russia during those times, particularly under the reign of Peter the Great. To quote one scholar52(p216)

No doubt the Petrine reforms led to the decisive triumph of secular principles over confessional and religious ones… the Petrine transformations are noteworthy not just for a speed and scope unseen earlier in society’s transition to secular foundations, but for the consequences stemming from the conversion of the Orthodox Church into a government institution…The Church started to serve the regime of autocracy and started submissively to consecrate all the latter’s initiatives. The conversion of the church into an office of religious affairs and the subordination of all its values to the needs of autocracy signified for the people the destruction of a spiritual alternative to the regime and to the ideas coming from the state and having their source in statism, statist concepts, and secular authority. The church, with its thousand-year traditions of preaching morals and defending the downtrodden and those subordinated by the state…became a submissive tool of the authorities and thereby largely forfeited the people’s respect as a preserver of spiritual principles. [Emphasis added].

Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky). Photo: Wikipedia Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky). Photo: Wikipedia

Moreover, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), with reference to the Russian Church’s synodal structure after the 18th century (which was still present at the time of his writing in 1912), observed that53

Our Church [in Russia] is governed by a layman, or, to say it officially, by a collegial institution never seen by the Church of Christ before... The [Russian] Church is deprived of its lawful head and is given over for enslavement to lay officials, which hide behind an assembly of six or seven hierarchs who are changed every half a year, and two presbyters. Who is not aware that such an institution is uncanonical? That it was not approved at its very inception by two Patriarchs; and even if it had been approved by all four, this would only show the unlawful deed of the Patriarchs and not the canonicity of [Russian] synodal rule, because no Patriarch can establish and authorize an institution which is unknown to Holy Orthodoxy and which was invented only to bring weakness and decay... [Emphasis added]

Indeed, it is also important to note that54(A5053)

Religious persecution and genocide were integral parts of the Russification programs launched by Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Czar Nicholas I. This program was merely perfected by Stalin and his able pupils, Khrushchev, Bulganin and Molotov.

The historical record ultimately verifies the above observations. Intimidation, execution, torture and imprisonment were aimed at55(pp 115, 111-112)

turning the clergy away from any form of independent thought, to force them to give up their dreams of some Byzantine symphony or dualism of power. The terror began under Peter, reached its extremes under empress Anna (Peter's niece: 1730-40), and did not end even under Catherine II... [The clergy] had to pledge at their ordination to report to the police any person who confessed any intended or committed actions against the tsar or his government. This was a scandalous breach of the universal Church tradition of secrecy of the confession... In January, 1721, all bishops were forced to pledge their acceptance of the new system and give an oath of loyalty, not only to the tsar but to all members of the dynasty, blasphemously recognising the tsar as their ultimate judge... This oath was to be repeated by every bishop called to a term of service in the Synod until 1901, when the bishops protested to Tsar Nicholas II that even senators were not required to give such an oath, while the Final Judge for a Christian is God, not the monarch. Nicholas agreed and had that phrase eliminated. [Emphasis added]

Ultimately, in the 18th century 14(pp30, 116)

the totalist and secular Russian state declared war on the monasteries, destroying over half of them and confiscating their property and treasures by 1800, a clear precedent for the later Bolshevik excesses... There seems to be no real difference between this era and that of the Bolsheviks, albeit one of scale. [Emphasis added]

Indeed, even the forced ecumenism under the Soviets was by no means the first time that the state manipulated the Church in a heretical fashion, as we observed earlier in this paper46(p61)

…in 1847 Emperor Nicholas I concluded a concordat with Pope Gregory XVI which envisaged that the Russian Orthodox Church would carry out all the sacraments and needs for those who turned to her with such requests from the Catholics exiled for their participation in the Polish rebellions against Russia, if they were living in places where there were no Catholic churches or Catholic clergy. In accordance with the meaning of this concordat and the order of the Emperor, the Synod then issued the corresponding command, which was obligatory for the Russian Orthodox clergy, to satisfy the requests of exiled Catholics, if such requests came from them.

The Russian Church (by Old Calendarist logic) should have lost divine grace centuries ago, meaning that those Churches which remained in communion with it (i.e. every other Patriarchate), and all of the saints who refrained from establishing parallel hierarchies, should have also been deprived of grace. Once again, the inevitable conclusion is that the Church of God on earth would have been eradicated.

Furthermore, any radical statements made by individual clergymen in ROCOR about the supposed gracelessness of the Moscow Patriarchate were never propounded the synod itself, nor by Saint John Maximovitch, as acknowledged in 1979 by an Archbishop of ROCOR56

[T]he free part of the Russian Church that exists abroad has never considered the Patriarchate of Moscow, officially recognized in the USSR, void of grace… In recent times we have been guided in our relationship with the Patriarchate by the opinion of the universally respected and venerated Archbishop John [of Shanghai], who said that of course the mysteries of the official Church in the USSR were valid; however, he maintained that the behavior of its leaders was unacceptable.

As demonstrated earlier in this paper, the synod of ROCOR did not, either before or after 1983, deny the presence of grace in the Moscow Patriarchate or any other “World Orthodox” jurisdiction.

Moreover, since ROCOR maintained communion with "World Orthodoxy" (who were believed to be graceless by most zealot groups) it should, logically speaking, been graceless and schismatic itself - according to Old Calendarist ecclesiology. How, then, can those Old Calendarist groups which trace their origins to ROCOR justify their existence? In fact, the ordinations of several Greek Old Calendarist hierarchs were performed uncanonically by a very small number of ROCOR bishops (one of whom was on the New Calendar, and another of whom taught that the Eucharist of the Roman Catholic Church was valid until Vatican II), without the blessing of Metropolitan Anastassy.57, 58 Once again, the historical data bears witness to the many contradictions which underlie the Old Calendarist movement as a whole.

Ultimately, according to the unsophisticated reasoning of many self-proclaimed “True Orthodox,” the Church of Russia should have fallen into uniatism (not to mention Barlaamism and Sergianism) long ago and thereby ceased to exist. A similar outcome should apply to the Greek Church which, as we have noted, also adopted various heresies at different times prior to advent of the Old Calendarist movement. The 14th century Palamite synods, as well as the other examples from Church history presented throughout this paper, would similarly be rendered incomprehensible by such a crude and rigid ecclesiology. If anyone who remains in communion with an erring hierarch automatically falls under their condemnation, it follows that grace must have “departed” the entire Orthodox Church centuries ago. All Old Calendarist groups, therefore, would trace their origins to invalid hierarchies.

As the examples throughout this paper have abundantly demonstrated, countless “True Orthodox” arguments, promulgated widely, quite simply do not withstand serious scrutiny. It would appear that the phronema (mindset) of many Old Calendarists, although professing to be patristic, is actually quite distant from historical Orthodoxy. Although the allure of zealotry may be strong for some, the Orthodox Christian must resist all temptations – not only from the “left,” but also from the “right.”

Panagiotis M.



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55. Pospielovsky D. The Orthodox Church in the history of Russia. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press; 1998.

56. Opoveshchenie otdela vneshnikh snoshenii pri Arkhiereiskom Sinode Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi Zagranitsei,” Pravoslavnaia Rus’ 21 (Nov. 14, 1979): 5.

57. Genuine Orthodox Church. History of the Florinite and Akakian consecrations [Internet]. Available from: http://genuineorthodoxchurch.com/histFloriniteAkakian.htm

58. Psarev A. Relations between the ROCOR and the Roman Catholic Church, 1920-1964 [Internet]. ROCOR Studies. Available from:https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.rocorstudies.org/2010/02/28/andrei-psarev-relations-between-the-rocor-and-the-roman-catholic-church-1920-1964/&source=gmail&ust=1546401770976000&usg=AFQjCNHnSGWHH04e6PKUprb-YKyomb29cA

See also
Why the Polish Church returned to the Julian Calendar Why the Polish Church returned to the Julian Calendar
Sergei Ivanov, Fr. Mark Lavreschuk
Why the Polish Church returned to the Julian Calendar Why the Polish Church returned to the Julian Calendar
Sergei Ivanov, Fr. Mark Lavreschuk
On this second day of the Church New Year according to the "old style" Julian Calendar we are talking with Polish priest-theologian and dean of the Department of Orthodox Theology of the Bialystok University Fr. Mark Lavreschuk about why the Polish Church made the unprecedented decision to return to the Julian Calendar, whether there were any difficulties regarding this move to the “old style,” and how important the calendar issue is generally for Polish Orthodox.
Elder Ephraim of Arizona Exposes Old Calendarism Elder Ephraim of Arizona Exposes Old Calendarism
John Sanidopoulos, Elder Ephraim of Arizona
Elder Ephraim of Arizona Exposes Old Calendarism Elder Ephraim of Arizona Exposes Old Calendarism
John Sanidopoulos, Elder Ephraim of Arizona
I want to say that without people of the Old Calendar knowing, although it is the Orthodox and most correct calendar and most blessed, however, because over time people were not catechized well in things and the truth, when they were returning to the Old Calendar because they said the calendar should be kept with exactitude, and as a rebuke to the Church of Greece, they arrived at the point where they made it a dogmatic and ecclesiastical offense. So when they heard it was a dogmatic error in the Church, they shrunk back and began to look at the matter differently. But it is not a dogmatic issue, but an ecclesiastical matter that simply deals with the calendar.
On the Julian Calendar, Church Tradition, and Standing for the Faith On the Julian Calendar, Church Tradition, and Standing for the Faith
Pavel Kuzenkov
On the Julian Calendar, Church Tradition, and Standing for the Faith On the Julian Calendar, Church Tradition, and Standing for the Faith
Pavel Kuzenkov
Christmas and New Year is a time when many Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian (old) calendar wonder why they do so; or rather, those who follow the Gregorian (new) calendar wonder why the old calendar Churches don’t want to change. Here is another thorough look at this question, from a number of angles.
John Michaels9/17/2023 11:08 pm
Mr. M., I didn’t see any references in your essay to this article linked here. I don’t know if you’ve ever read it, or even know if it’s existence. I thought you might be interested in it as it addresses some of your arguments. https://open.substack.com/pub/goctv/p/why-the-true-orthodox-are-truly-orthodox?r=183qac&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=post
Hans5/15/2023 8:26 am
"In fact the condemnation of any resistance to the pan-heresy of ecumenism is explicitly condemned by..." of course this should have been "In fact any resistance to the pan-heresy of ecumenism is explicitly condemned by..."
Hans5/14/2023 6:28 pm
There is no comparison between the Petrine era and Sergianism. The Bolsheviks were put under anathema by St. Tikhon and the Russian Synod. That makes all the difference. The Catacomb Church, unlike the Old Believers, did not embrace heresy. She was recognized by the ROCOR, which also has no parallel under Peter. The regal power of the Tsar was never questioned by the Church as such, while the power of the Soviets was considered completely illegitimate by the Church. While creating an uncanonical situation, Peter did not create parallel "churches" like the "living church" and the Sergianist communion. There never was a wholesale persecution of the Orthodox under Peter. It is NOT just a difference of scale.
Hans5/14/2023 6:20 pm
There are some major holes in this. The most important question is not addressed but rather brushed aside. This is that of "parallel jurisdictions." Of course, at first the Old Calendrists didn't have Bishops. Then a few Bishops from the Church of Greece joined them. Until then there was no such thing as "parallel jurisdictions." Those simply were a consequence of necessity. It must be obvious that as long as there is no support by Bishops through such essentials as making new priests, cessation of commemoration according to Canon 15 cannot possibly be sustained over time without having Bishops of one's own. So the question must be if there can be more than one Bishop for the same place. This has historically happened for instance with St. Meletios of Antioch and the "Meletian Schism." It also happens all the time now in the "diaspora." A further very interesting case is the Sergianist schism, when Met. Sergius made himself Patriarch with the help of the Soviet state against the express will of the senior Hierarchs, many who have a "Saint" before their name. He went on to declare those who opposed him schismatics and established his own Hierarchy. And this parallel Hierarchy has been accepted as the legitimate "Russian Orthodox Church" by all the Patriarchal Churches. Furthermore, what is worth examining is the position of the ROCOR Synod towards the Old Calendrists. The reason why the Synod did not make Bishops for the OCs was not a controversy of whether the OCs had legitimacy, but rather over the reaction of the official Churches. This becomes clear from the discussions of the Synods that can be read online. Met. Petros for instance, having been consecrated against the will of the Synod, was on his own, without any Synod, yet St. John and others recognized him as legitimate (rather than vagante.) Fr. Seraphim Rose of course also recognized the legitimacy of the OCs, including even the Matthewites, while decrying their extremism. The main problem with the OCs it seems has always been and still is this ecclesiological extremism the article above is mostly concerned with. On the other hand, the mainline Churches are all heavily involved in ecclesiological extremism in the form of the heresy of ecumenism. With two exceptions, all are members in the WCC, thereby tacitly agreeing to its heretical ecclesiology. Statements to the contrary are irrelevant. The obvious analogy here is adultery: If you are committing it, no "statement" to the contrary has any meaning other than showing you are not just an adulterer but also a hypocrite. One could mention the multitude of heretical documents received by the various Churches, most notably those of Kolumbari / Crete and Havana which have been received by the majority of Bishops in the official Churches. If one examines the current situation, it almost seems like the canonical order has in fact become a weapon against the Church. No amount of heretical statements and breaking of the canons on grounds of heretical views results in a deposition. However, any amount of resistance against ecumenism and modernism does. In fact the condemnation of any resistance to the pan-heresy of ecumenism is explicitly condemned by Kolumbari and the "attitude towards the non-Orthodox" (synodally approved by the Moscow Patriarchate, i.e. most official Bishops.) Add to this tendencies towards a papist model of ecclesiology, concerning not just Primates but Bishops as such. Most notably here is of course the EP, with Kirill following closely. In this respect, the differentiation between Church organization and Church organism and the many prophetic utterings concerning this from the ROCOR and Catacomb Church and others become relevant.
Jason9/26/2022 6:38 am
WOW! I am assuming that Dcn. Joseph's responses were very dangerous to the arguments presented in this article since BOTH links are no longer working, and appear to be hacked!! What's going on?
Dcn Joseph Suaiden7/20/2022 2:12 am
Sorry I missed out on responding to Panagiotis' comments to my comments! (I've had a lot of computer issues. My second response is here: https://guardingtime.com/2022/07/20/a-response-to-panagiotis-m-in-the-comments-section/
Panagiotis1/8/2021 5:28 am
Dear Theodore - the OrthoChristian editors wrote that introductory paragraph, not myself, so unfortunately I cannot answer your question.
Theodore10/21/2020 8:43 pm
Can you provide a quotation from the Holy Fathers mentioning a "temptation from the right" as claimed at the beginning of the article. That just seems like modern terminology.
Panagiotis8/23/2020 8:18 am
Part 3 - Ultimately, Dcn Joseph has evaded a question which I raise several times throughout my piece - were bishops/hierarchies centuries ago automatically condemned and graceless because of the canonical transgressions and heresies that they espoused, or not? In other words, do Old Calendarists trace their origins to automatically anathematised and graceless hierarchies? This is the logical conclusion of Old Calendarist ecclesiology if it wishes to condemn “World Orthodoxy” and remain internally consistent, yet Dcn Joseph seems to have missed this point entirely in his response. Please forgive me.
Panagiotis8/23/2020 8:16 am
Part 2 - Dcn Joseph’s handwaving does nothing to dispel these historical facts, and contrary to his claims I did indeed refer to collective synodal decisions in this regard – for example, he dismisses without argumentation the official ratification and publication of Bulgakov’s handbook for church servers which condemns the hesychasts and by OC logic would automatically “falls under” the condemnation of the Tomos of 1341. The fact that the synod didn’t hold a dedicated council about the specific matter of hesychasm is irrelevant, and exposes yet another double standard – OC’s certainly did not decide to wait for ecumenical heresies to be espoused synodally before labelling the “World Orthodox” as automatically excommunicated, schismatic, and graceless. Finally, I also did not state anything, positive or negative, regarding the Imiaslavie, but only took note of the obvious errors presented within the anti-Imiaslavie Russian synod of 1913 which remain unaddressed. His claim regarding St Paisius is also simply irrelevant to my argument. Dcn Joseph also did nothing to counteract one of the fundamental points of my paper - were hierarchs from centuries ago automatically expelled from the church and graceless for espousing a doctrine “condemned by holy fathers, or synods” (cf. 1st-2nd Synod), or not? If not, then why are today's ecumenists regarded as such? On Prochoros’s condemnation, Dcn Joseph assumes the truth of his position (that Prochoros was in actuality graceless before he was condemned) without actually establishing why this interpretation should be accepted. There are also other historical examples I presented (e.g. proto-ecumenism in the Greek and Russian churches) which Dcn Joseph did not address at all, and his treatment of my other historical examples is unfortunately plagued by deceptive – to say the least – claims (according to Dcn Joseph, I "condemned all of Orthodoxy" because of the discontinuation of the papalethra tonsure, whereas I was highlighting that this is precisely the implication of Old Calendarist ecclesiology if it wishes to remain internally consistent). Moreover, Dcn Joseph's claim regarding Patriarch Diodoros, even if true, fails to address the substance of my argument. For one, the patriarch was known to fraternize with the OC Metropolitan Cyprian, who held that the “World Orthodox” had Grace, and that World Orthodoxy was still the “Mother Church” of all OC’s. *If* Patriarch Diodoros communed with this group, it would be somewhat ironic that Dcn Joseph is raising this in support of his position, as most OC’s today regard Metropolitan Cyrpian as a “Cyprianite” heretic for his views. Moreover, according to Moss (cf. “The Sergianist Conquest of Jerusalem”), Patriarch Diodoros was also in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate. If anything, this communion between OC’s and a “World Orthodox” jurisdiction (which was also in communion with the MP) poses a fatal problem for the consistency and coherency of OC ecclesiology. As discussed, even indirect communion with the "World Orthodox” is absolutely anathema in the eyes of most Old Calendarists. Dcn Joseph also neglected to address the other examples presented in my paper – for example, ROCOR's communion with the Church of Serbia, which was not in communion with OC’s. On the flawed and confused nature of the founding encyclicals of Old Calendarism, the only reply Dcn Joseph could provide is that a single New Calendarist Archbishop seemingly also held this view. This, alas, is not an adequate reply. Dcn Joseph also mischaracterises my position on Sergianism - never did I say that "the tsars were worse" than the Soviets. Rather, I said that similar/analogous atrocities occurred even under the tsars (though naturally on a lesser scale) and this is something which OC ecclesiology is unable to grapple with... (see part 3)
Panagiotis8/23/2020 8:13 am
Dear Jonathan, as the author of this article I thank you for sharing Deacon Joseph's response. Unfortunately, I do not believe that he has responded to the substance of my arguments, and I think that his piece is more reliant upon rhetoric than rigorous argumentation. My response is below – please forgive me: On point 1 (my critique of the Old Calendarist position that “Ceasing commemoration of heretical hierarchs is obligatory, not optional”), Dcn Joseph firstly seems to neglect the fact that the relevant canons refer to the matter of clergy ceasing commemoration of their superiors, not laymen. He also does not provide any canonical justification for his position in this regard. Finally, he confuses the notion of laymen being within the Orthodox church, under an ailing hierarch, with them being in a different (heterodox) denomination altogether, which most certainly are not the same thing. It is evident that when I am referring to “heretical hierarchs” I am referring to hierarchs *within* the Orthodox Church who are erring – not those outside of the Church. As a result, Dcn Joseph is unfortunately attacking a strawman here. I also most certainly do not believe that holy individuals of unimpeachable Orthodoxy such as St Justin Popovic and countless others who disagree with Dcn Joseph’s ecclesiology, were “demonic” (God forbid!). On point 2 (the OC position that “Communion ought to be broken not only with erring clergymen, but also with those who, albeit Orthodox, maintain communion with them”), Dcn Joseph neglects the fact that, notwithstanding the truly unfortunate historical circumstances involved, this *is* a widespread tenet of old calendarist ecclesiology, and is/was undoubtedly held by many Old Calendarists today and in the past (c.f. Vladimir Moss). I was clear in my piece that Old Calendarist groups share disparate views, and that I would be responding to several of the most widespread viewpoints out there. Dcn Joseph also makes a range of claims about the specific motivations of Old Calendarists in the 20th century without citing any sources to justify his position, and seems to treat all Old Calendarist groups as sharing identical motivations even where this is idealistic and unlikely to be the case. Dcn Joseph would likely be in the minority of OC’s in not adopting point 2 as an ecclesiological tenet, but in any case this is inconsistent with the refusal on the part of OC’s (including his own synod) to attempt to enter into communion with those “World Orthodox” jurisdictions which reject ecumenism. On point 3 (the OC view that “Heretical clergy lose the grace of the mysteries even prior to synodal condemnations”), I will respond to each historical example in turn. On simony - if in Dcn Joseph's words there was a forced "no money, no patriarch" situation in Greece, which apparently justifies simony (at least to an extent), then why is this pardon not applicable to Russian hierarchs under the Soviets? After all, there was a "no collaboration, no hierarchy" scenario in Russia, which Dcn Joseph would no doubt label as inexcusable, thereby exposing a clear inconsistency in his thought. Note that I am not defending either practice, but simply highlighting a contradiction. Ultimately my intention was neither to defend nor to judge any hierarchs, but only to cite St Nikodemos's testimony (which, unlike Dcn Joseph, doesn’t offer any leeway to Simoniac hierarchs who lived in his era), in order to highlight a clear inconsistency in OC ecclesiology which remains unaddressed throughout Dcn Joseph’s response (I shall say more on this shortly). On the other historical examples, Dcn Joseph's explanations are rather deficient. I certainly did not label the entire Russian Church as Barlaamite, but I did note that certain aspects of Barlaamism were most certainly prevalent at various points throughout its history. Dcn Joseph’s handwaving does nothing to dispel these historical facts, and contrary to his claims... (see part 2)
Jonathan6/15/2020 6:44 am
It seems we have a taker, “True” Orthodox Deacon responds to the featured article. I think he made a couple of fair points, but he never addresses the ecclesiological principle articulated by St. Nikodemos from the Rudder, as featured in Mr. Panagiotis M’s article: https://sortbox.ml/2020/06/14/a-short-response-to-a-lengthy-critique-of-the-old-calendarist-movement/
Leo5/7/2020 5:41 pm
Hi Panagiotis, Reading through your article and some of the comments. Thank you for being charitable and fair in your comments. It is a joy to see someone defend their perspective in a kind and honest manner. Thank you to the editors for posting this article to facilitate thought and discussion on a touchy subject. It is always healthy for us who are learning to see multiple sides to such an issue. God bless you all. Leo
Panagiotis5/2/2020 5:21 am
Nikola - Truly He is Risen! Excellent question. You will note that I did not use simony as an example specifically in relation to the first-second synod - however, other examples in the paper address that particular issue and deal with more explicit declarations of heresy. The example of simomy does, however, demonstrate that if the saints of that time did not break communion with their simoniac hierarchs (who violated the canons and whose actions in the words of St Gregory of Rome renders them the “greatest of all heretics”), how could the zealots justify breaking communion over the calendar issue? As we saw above, the founding OC encyclicals did not refer to ecumenism at all, but rather only to the calendar issue. Max - you will note that in my paper I do not comment on whether Old Calendarists are (or were) a part of the Church or not. I merely critique their ecclesiology, which I consider to be inconsistent and incorrect. I am fully aware of the complicated relationship of ROCOR with some old calendarist groups (which eventually ceased), but I believe this poses more problems for the OCs themselves than for the “World Orthodox” - why would the OCs remain in communion with a group (ROCOR), which itself remained in communion with “World Orthodox” jurisdictions? Moreover, neither Fr Seraphim nor St John (nor ROCOR as a jurisdiction, for that matter) were truly Old Calendarist in their thinking, and rejected key aspects of OC ecclesiology as per the quotes presented above.
Max5/1/2020 11:38 pm
ROCOR’s ordinations of GOC bishops were validated by Metropolitan Philaret in 1969, and nobody denies that ROCOR was a part of the Church, so you can’t deny the validity of those ordinations even if they were uncanonical (just as the author makes the point that breaking the canons does not automatically nullify the “grace”). There are other examples in Church history of uncanonical ordinations. I’ve seen some anti-GOC commenters bring up Father Seraphim Rose. Why don’t you read his Orthodox Word magazines from 1965-1982 (for some reason Platina monastery does not have them available, hmmmmm...), and you will see that more than once he praised not only the GOC but also the Romanian “Old Calendarist” Church! He even at one point called the Romanian Old Calendarists, the GOC and the ROCOR the last bastions of True Orthodoxy. The reason the ROCOR stopped commemorating Greeks was due to infighting amongst them, they didn’t want to take the time to figure out who to be in communion with or who to not be in communion with as they saw it as petty infighting, so Met Philaret basically said once you unite then we’ll formally be in communion again. There are pictures of John Maximovitch at St. Markella’s OC Cathedral, he was in favor of ordaining them bishops. In his biography “Man of God” you can see that St. John told someone they should go be a priest with the Old Believers! It’s very interesting to note how quick the Greek church is to label “Old Calendarists” as schismatic, but never use that word for the Roman Catholics, I imagine it may have something to do with the fact that you’re essentially in communion already after the lifting of the anathema, referring to them as your “Sister Church” since the 60s for crying out loud, and even allowing the giving of communion to Romans on their death beds. If you spent as much time being outwardly vocal and confessing Orthodoxy against the ecumenist hierarchs in your churches as you did denouncing True Orthodox Christians then maybe things would change
Nikola2/7/2020 2:06 pm
Christ is risen! Question for the author: Don't you think that practice (and heresy) of simony doesn't fit in the requirement of 15. canon of the 1st&2nd Synod, which says that heresy needs to be "loudly preached and openly taught in the Church"? Because unless that requirement is fulfilled, no one has the right to wall off anyway. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's hard for me to imagine someone "openly preaching simony in the Church" in the times of Kollyvades?
Gregory Decapolite5/21/2019 7:35 am
Dear Panagiotis,Christ is Risen and thank you for this wonderful paper!

I believe it to be a solid refutation of the extremist ecclesiology which is held by many (if not most) old calendarists! I do wish, however, that the last section on Sergianism was left out as this issue is of such a complexity that I believe it exceeds the scope of this paper.
Nick3/2/2019 11:40 pm
This is a very good article. Lavrentie - those writings of St Basil indeed refer to schismatics or condemned heretics. His epistles need to be read within context and in their original language (Greek), as "heretic" had multiple meanings in ancient times. St Basil does not claim that uncondemned heretics are automatically outside of the Church etc. In fact, even if he did, no single saint is infallible, and it is clear that the facts of Church history contradict this view. As another commenter said, all it takes is for just one of the examples in this paper to be true to refute Old Calendarist ecclesiology
Lavrentie2/15/2019 2:47 pm
In fact, there are some people who put forth tgis arguement with St. Athanasius and Basil the Great.
The 245 and 251 Epistles of St. Basil concern his attitude towards some arianist heretic bishops. It is clear these were condemned or ordained by a schismatic group. I remember other Epistles which refer to some simple heretic bishops, but don't have the refference right now or if it is accurate.
John2/14/2019 12:35 pm
Lavrentie - please note that the Arians were condemned at the First Ecumenical Council. Thus, communion with them after the synod would likely entail being in communion with a condemned group with parallel hierarchies/ in schism. Thus St Athanasius was correct in warning against this. Also, which heretics are you referring to in relation to St Basil? Please provide a reference/source of this information - the bishops in question would likely have either been synodally condemned or in schism (and, due to their schism, did not need to be formally condemned)
Lavrentie2/13/2019 5:21 pm
I like very much this article and I translated it into Romanian to be published somewhere.
There still is one dubious point. How comes that St. Athanasius told to some monks to break the communion with those who had communion with the arianist ones (Τοις τον μονηρη βιον ασκουσι και... PG1188BC). It seems like you have to break the communion with those who preach a condemned heresy.
St. Basil the Great also did not receive the bishops who received their ordination from the heretics who were not deposed.
Stav2/3/2019 10:49 am
Even many moderate Old Calendarists (i.e. the GOC-K, which absorbed the Synod in Resistance) may not be all that moderate after all. On the GOC-K website, one can still find an official communication by their synod to all laity and clergy, forbiding them from venerating the saints of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate. These saints are referred to as "pseudo saints" who "died in schism." The synod also stated that the EP "continually proclaims many new-found elders as saints, in order to fortify the delusion that the communicants of Ecumenism can also be sanctified, and can become examples to follow." Source: http://www.hotca.org/documents/506-concerning-pseudo-saints
Panagiotis2/2/2019 11:25 pm
Hi Maria,

Thanks for your comment. I would be very interested in seeing the paper by Fr Theodoros Zisis. He is an able theologian who has followed a canonical course in his resistance against heresy. His positions on breaking communion in fact align with my own, and I have followed him in believing the calendar change to be a mistake, but certainly not worthy of schism. I also do not think that the article is unfair on Old Calendarists - they are never caricatured, or labelled as heretics, but the logical conclusions of their beliefs are made clear and are contrasted to the positions taken by saints of the Church throughout the past millenium.
Editor2/2/2019 8:27 pm
Maria: Yes, we would be happy to see your resources. You can either post them here or send them to editor@orthochristian.com.
Maria2/2/2019 5:34 pm
Sorry for adding more to the comments section because we are reaching 100 at this rate. It's good however we are talking about this because it shows how controversial this article has been and how divisive the topic is itself. It is not sympathetic to the Old Calendarists whatsoever and paints them very bad light which is not fair given that they cannot be accused of heresy despite their faults. Renown theologian and once an advisor to the EP, Fr. Theodoros Zisis has written a paper on the subject of Old and New Calender which I think merits to be translated in English for our readers. If the editors are interested and lack resources, I can help in this.
George2/2/2019 3:16 pm
Excellent article! I researched this topic extensively years ago, but this article brings all of the research together and makes a very strong (yet nuanced) argument against Old Calendarist ecclesiology, without unnecessary polemics and ad hominems. Very well done
Stav2/2/2019 9:48 am
Source of my previous comment: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.roacusa.org/htdocs/2.ChurchNews/2005/CN20057142.PDF&ved=2ahUKEwiC0OW_tZzgAhXGF3IKHbR7AQE4ChAWMAF6BAgIEAE&usg=AOvVaw17uUi5jBeb4k7HDXPcXMoD

Stav2/2/2019 9:44 am
I might contribute somewhat here. Another source (a "Church News" newsletter of a Russian Old Calendarist group which considers itself a successor to ROCOR) supports the author's conclusions - it reports that Archbishop Leonty "was a convinced sympathizer with Roman-Catholicism, believing that Catholics have valid sacraments in the same way as the Orthodox." This might have been based on his comments prior to the Second Vatican Council. Evidently, however, there are quite a few sources for this information even amongst OCs, so
to call the writer dishonest is not particularly fair. Source will be posted in my next comment
Paul2/2/2019 3:14 am
I still haven't seen a critic rebut a single argument in this essay. How has the author "discredited" saints? He is actually using their actions as an example and highlighting that the Old Calendarists have acted very differently to them. No one can address this, hence why they bring up Ukraine etc. to divert the reader from the real arguments.
John2/1/2019 11:19 pm
According to an *Old Calendarist* commentator, "The ROAC's own website in America has Bishop Gregory Grabbe's daughter saying that Abp Leonty of Chile believed the Papists have valid mysteries...I wrote to the ROAC bishop in America about this, Bishop Andrei, and he reponded breezily, not with a denial but with what struck me as worldly indifference:"Abp Leonty of Chile was not the only ROCOR hierarch who believed the Papists have valid mysteries." I was slackjawed." Source: http://www.euphrosynoscafe.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8535&start=35

Although this is not a direct reference, it contains two sources which verify Psarev's article and support the Panagiotis's interpretation thereof.
Panagiotis2/1/2019 11:14 pm
(continued) this point in an earlier comment.
3) I commented below that the persecutions of OCs were shameful. They should not have occurred. However, this does not justify their ecclesiology.
4) I am not “hiding,” but I prefer to let the article speak for itself rather than trying to gain more popularity. The piece should be judged by its arguments, which you have labelled as inaccurate without actually refuting. Not to mention the fact that my resources are limited and I have no desire for a personal website of my own. Again, with respect, labelling me as a "master of deception" without you having grappled with the arguments and conclusions of the piece is somewhat uncharitable.
Panagiotis2/1/2019 11:06 pm
1) With all respect, Ephraim, when you examine the quote *within* context you will see that I have not misinterpreted its meaning - immediately prior to that quote, the Archbishop states that since the RC liturgy changed again at Vatican II, "therefore I do not know whether their Eucharist is valid." Evidently, the picture painted by the Archbishop's secretary is that prior to Vatican II, the Archbishop had no qualms with the validity of the RC Eucharist - if you don’t believe me, contact Psarev himself. Even if you don’t, this point doesn’t affect my overall argument.
2) I did not approve of comparing OCs to Islamists and requested that this be removed (which it was). I already clarified
Ephraim2/1/2019 7:10 pm
Did you consider that what he writes would eventually be used against all of us that side with Moscow and the Church? You will probably read something like: “they accepted these arguments when we used them against the Old Calendarists, and even published our articles, but they reject them when used against their own extreme position!! Such hypocrisy!” I fear that you have fallen into a trap, and your rashness will be used to discredit you and this website in the future....I hope and pray that you will be ready when they do!
Ephraim2/1/2019 7:08 pm
To the editors, I respectfully ask you to address Nisibis’ comment/question. Do you realize that the arguments Panagiotis has made can be used against Patriarch Kyril and Moscow Patriarchate? Did you read his entire “paper” before giving it your endorsement and placing it on this site? Did you consider that what he writes would eventually be used against all of us that side with Moscow and the Church? You will probably read something like: “they accepted these arguments when we used them against the Old Calendarists, and even published our articles, but they reject them when used against their own extreme position!! Such hypocrisy!”
Ephraim2/1/2019 7:05 pm

Furthermore, and the question still stands; who are you? Your name is Panagiotis, and you are a layman. But who are you? Like I stated previously, V. Moss has his biography posted on the Internet for the world to read. We can contact him, question him, argue against his points and as you have done, use his writings to discredit people. In other words, the man is not hiding, but you are! Who are you? Why do you hide?
Ephraim2/1/2019 7:05 pm

It is clear from his tone, when he refers to people as “sympathizers” and approves of pravoslavie editors to compare “Old Calanderists” to “Islamisists”, that he has no true desire to analyze their position honestly, and within the context of history, which testifies to the fact that these people were heavily persecuted for sticking to Holy Tradition, and were not given any options, since the bishops that disagreed where persecuted, exiled, thrown in prison and even murdered. To paint them as extremists without understanding their pain and suffering is absolutely disgusting in my opinion!
Ephraim2/1/2019 7:04 pm

This is why I say Panagiotis, and you (since you are his apologist) are both dishonest! Panagiotis tactic throughout the entire article is to discredit saints, primates and respected people within the church by overwhelming his audience with tidbits of information that have been completely taken out of context and then applied to his faulty and thwarted line of reasoning. A proper analysis of almost each one of his citations will lead the reader to understand that Panagiotis is a master of deception and chaos.
Ephraim2/1/2019 7:02 pm
John, your advice would better be suited if addressed to your champion Panagiotis, since he is the one slandering a Bishop by stating that Archbishop Leontii “declared RC sacraments as valid”, while the footnote directs us to an article, which says nothing of the sort. Even the small quote, which you desperately took out of context and pasted in your comment does not support Panagiotis’ accusation, but if analyzed honestly and without judgment may be interpreted in a number of different ways. i.e. “the protestant bible is of benefit to protestant faithful” is very different from saying “the protestant bible is the true and valid bible of the church”.
Paul2/1/2019 3:16 pm
I don't think that many of these commentators actually understand what the article is about. Not a single one of them has addressed its main claims (e.g. determining when breaking communion and establishing parallel hierarchies are justified). It's actually jaw dropping that so many people have missed the point altogether.
Panagiotis2/1/2019 10:53 am
Dear Ephraim, first of all, I am a layman (and yes, Panagiotis is my name) with an interest in this topic. Please note that I referenced every factual claim I made throughout the article, and sought the input of others (including clergymen and OC sympathisers) to ensure that the piece is as unbiased as possible. If you re-read my comments and sources, you will see that I have not misrepresented anybody. If you wish to critique any statement of fact or conclusion in the article specifically, you are welcome to do so, but I expect that you do it fairly and rigorously.
John2/1/2019 10:40 am
Ephraim, before you make accusations against someone, take more care to investigate matters thoroughly. In footnote 58, we read that "Andruskiewitsch [Archbishop Leontii's secretary] mentioned that Archbishop Leontii used to say that before Vatican II Roman Catholic Communion was of benefit to faithful Catholics." This point is actually incidental to the entire argument of the essay and doesn't affect it in any way, but the point is that the information is from a source very close to the Archbishop (his secretary), and it is cited by the most authoritative ROCOR historian out there (Psarev) in his Master's thesis. Therefore, to try and call the author dishonest is ridiculous
Nisibis1/31/2019 5:07 pm
Did not Moscow break communion with Istanbul (EP) before a council was called to condemn the EP’s behavior and heretical tendencies? Yes!! So Panagiotis can use his arguments against the Greek Old Calendar Christians against Moscow! I suppose soon the editors will be explaining the difference between a Russian Orthodox and a “Russian Orthodoxist” or Russian Orthodoxy vs “Russian Orthodoxism”!! :)
Nisibis1/31/2019 4:34 pm
Ephraim, I agree with you. Also, I’d like to ask the editors, was it wise for you to give this man a platform at such a critical time in the church? Have you given any thought to the fact that this “New Calendarist” will eventually use a number of his flawed and incomplete arguments against those that resist his Patriarch’s innovations and heretical behavior regarding Ukraine? “Panagiotis” might well be the voice that one day says “you are just like the old calendarists in your ecclesiology...fanatic and extreme”, which is already being said by certain new calendar Greek bishops in the USA. Not a wise move dear editors!!
Ephraim1/30/2019 11:34 pm

I am not sure if anyone else has asked, but who are you? You use only a first name, but we know nothing about you! Is it even your name, or is it a pseudonymous? You attack many people, and use their writings (such as V. Moss), yet we know whom they are, but who are you? What qualifies you to write on this subject and how do we know that you are approaching it without bias, partiality and prejudice?

Ephraim1/30/2019 11:29 pm
With all due respect John, I have read the article and have been following the exchanges in the comment section, and I think that a valid rebuttal of legitimate arguments against many of the authors points, have yet to be made by Panagiotis himself or by anyone else for that matter. Also, Leonid is correct, and it is deeply grieving to see Panagiotis commit the same slanderous claim against a Bishop of our church, not just once, but twice! The source does not support your claim that the bishop "declared RC sacraments as valid"! Its a Red Herring at best, and blatant dishonesty at worse.
John1/30/2019 11:09 am
With all due respect, Leonid, your points have already been responded to by the author and other commentators. If you want to write a long article of your own, with sources, then feel free to do so. However, I am sure that Panagiotis will be able to respond in kind.
Panagiotis1/30/2019 10:39 am
(Part 3) As for remedying the Church from within, things may appear bleak at the moment, but patience is required. Simony in the Greek Church lasted for centuries, and even the Kollyvades saints could not stop it during their lifetimes. Does this mean that they were naive for staying in communion with their hierarchs? Many of the other instances presented in the essay of uncanonical and heretical actions throughout Church history also lasted for very long periods of time. However, the persecuted saints of the Church did not follow the course of the Old Calendarists. Ultimately, prayer and trust in God are required.
Panagiotis1/30/2019 10:30 am
(Part 2) “Later, in 1962, Archbishop Leonty of Chile travelled to Athens, where, together with Bishop Acacius, he ordained Archimandrite Auxentius and some others to the episcopate. This, too, was uncanonical, since it was done again without the metropolitan’s blessing.” (Cf. Vladimir Moss, “In Defence of the True Orthodox Church of Greece”).

I am also surprised that you would claim that I misled readers into thinking that all OCs believe the same thing. I actually reject this notion in the second sentence of the article. The essay itself rejects several OC arguments, some of which are promulgated only by “rigorist” groups, and others which are promulgated by both moderates and rigorists
Panagiotis1/30/2019 10:28 am
Dear Leonid, please allow me to clarify my source. In relation to the ROCOR bishop who declared RC sacraments as valid prior to Vatican 2, I was referring specifically to Archbishop Lenotii of Chile (footnote 58). The source here is actually the Archbishop’s secretary, who was recalling the teachings of his Archbishop during their conversations. You can dismiss this if you like, but I see no reason why it should be treated as spurious – after all, it is reliably cited by the ROCOR historian Fr Andrei Psarev. As for the uncanonical nature of the ordinations of Old Calendarists, even the OC author Vladimir Moss supports my sources:
Leonid1/29/2019 10:03 pm
Lastly, the accusation has been made that there were others ways for the persecuted Christians of Greece to “remedy the church from within”. My question is this…how’s that working out for people like Elder Ephraim and those “traditional Greeks” who choose to remain on the NC? Have they been able to remedy anything within the EP? Have they been able to stop his behavior and his creation of yet *another* schism? Have they been able to prevent the downward path that their “people” have been sliding down since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar? We very clearly see the results, or rather the lack thereof! A full refutation can only be made if orthochristian.com is willing to post it.??
Leonid1/29/2019 10:01 pm
(continued part 5)

It would be like saying that the ALL New Calendarists (Romania included) believe that Rome is a “sister church” and the “other lung of the body” as articulated by one of your bishops and later your wonderful Patriarch in Istanbul, and then presenting a book attacking this position!! This is what the author has done, and he has in no way articulated the position of the Greek Old Calendar church in a fair and honest manner. Furthermore, would pravoslavie be willing to post an article written by a bishop, priest or lay person of the Greek Old Calendar Church refuting these points, or would you simply dismiss them as schismatic and not give them a chance to defend themselves?
Leonid1/29/2019 9:59 pm
(continued Part 4)
Yes, there were some amongst the persecuted faithful who resisted the New Calender change, that did later state that the NC Church is graceless; this was not the case for all of them. For the author to take the position of one or two groups and label all Greek “Old Calenderists” as sharing the same position, and then going on to attack that position is simply dishonest and a very primitive form of straw-man argumentation.
Leonid1/29/2019 9:58 pm
(continued Part 3)

? Also, there is no written documentation to support that the conversation ever even took place! Why would you cite such a source, unless you were desperately attempting to find support for your pre-supposed bias? Also, as stated previously, the author, throughout his article has no problem broadly misleading his readers into thinking that all Greek Old Calendar believers i.e. “Old Calendarists” share the same ecclesiology, and attitude towards the New Calender Greeks. This is simply not true!
Leonid1/29/2019 9:57 pm
(Continued Part 2)

For example, a link that the author cites and Jason-John likes to direct us to, does not at all support the authors point, that a Bishop of the ROCOR church believed the sacraments of the Latins to be valid, but actually shows otherwise! Furthermore, the link cites a private conversation that allegedly took place between a priest and the bishop about what would happen in the event that the priest was involved in an accident, and there were no Orthodox Priests to give communion, yet we are led to believe that the bishop was somehow ecumenist and an endorser of Rome! Kind of sneaky isn’t it?
Leonid1/29/2019 9:56 pm
Let me just firstly say that I am a member of ROCOR and not a member of any Greek old Calendar Church, but I believe that a fair and honest approach is called for here, and I think that it would be wise for Jason-John (and the author) to be very careful with how this subject is approached and to insure that an honest and Christian attitude is used when citing links and sources, lest their position is undermined and all credibility is removed, while reinforcing the idea that the New Calendarists are dishonest and deceitful.....
Jason1/29/2019 4:49 pm
If a man walked up and punched me in the face without provocation, he would of course be at fault for doing so. If I respond by murdering him, I will have responded incorrectly to his provocation and would be guilty of a crime and a great sin, and I would not be justified for my incorrect response to this provocation. Similarly, the introduction of the New Calendar and the Ecumenical excesses that have occurred historically (including before the 20th century) are a provocation. Yet, one is not therefore blessed to respond however one sees fit. Catholicity is a defining characteristic of the Church, and the consensus of the churches is that schism over the calendar issue is unjustified.
John1/29/2019 11:18 am
(continued) The onus is on Old Calendarists to explain why they would even want to be in communion with ROCOR - after all, ROCOR stayed in communion with "World Orthodox" jurisdictions who were viewed as under anathema but the Old Calendarists. This is a huge inconsistency on the part of OCs, not to mention the interesting facts highlighted by the author viz. the OCs being ordained without the blessing of Met Anastassy etc. Also, ROCOR eventually rid itself of all OC groups, so to try and use them to justify OC ecclesiology is pointless.
John1/29/2019 11:11 am
(continued) Also, those who commit uncanonical and even heretical actions are *not* automatically in schism. If this were the case, then you would be led to the absurd conclusion that virtually entire local churches over the past few hundred years have been automatically placed in schism for their errors *without* synodal condemnations. That's ridiculous. Read about how schismatics are defined in St Basil's canon - the OCs initiated a schism. And to those criticising the author's conclusions, if you want to cite people and make claims, then back them up with real sources and quotes. There is too much unverified OC propaganda on the internet. Finally, the onus is on...
John1/29/2019 11:01 am
As a preface, I disagree with the introduction of the New Calendar and modern syncretism (as does author himself, as he has noted many times). However, for those who have read the article, it is evident that equally severe canonical violations and even heresies have occurred many times in the past millenium. I certainly do not support these activities, but since no one held to an Old Calendarist-type of ecclesiology back then (including many saints of the Church), how on earth can one justify their actions? All of the examples throughout the article demonstrate that the OC's DID have another choice - helping to remedy the Church from within.
Jason1/28/2019 10:15 pm
(Part 4) The calendar change in Greece did not result from pressure from the Pope, but from pressure by the State of Greece to bring the Church calendar into conformity with the civil calendar, which by that time was the Gregorian. The dates of the Revised Julian and Gregorian currently line up, but since the calculations differ, they will eventually diverge. This is not to say the adoption of the Revised Julian was a good thing, but it is incorrect to suggest the Gregorian menologion was adopted or that the change was instigated by the Pope, or that it was done in order to unite with the Pope of Rome.
Jason1/28/2019 10:13 pm
(Part 3) It is good to hope for all churches to return to the Old Calendar, but doing so will not solve all of the problems with modernism and secularism. Those who say that the Revised Julian menologion is the same as the Gregorian are not aware of the 1923 Congress where these issues were discussed, as it was specifically decided to develop a different method for calculating the menologion so that the Pope would not use the Revised Julian to claim that the Orthodox adopting the Papal calendar, and thereby further the Unia.
Jason1/28/2019 10:08 pm
(Part 2) To misapply the canons and break off from the entire Church resolves nothing, and the patriarchates are right to consider the Old Calendarists as in schism and without grace following the first canon of St. Basil, for the local churches all remained in communion with each other regardless of calendar differences, but none consider the Old Calendarists as part of the Church. The calendar did not institute modernism and secularism, but is perhaps a byproduct of modernism and secularism which has afflicted the Church for the last century.
Jason1/28/2019 10:05 pm
(Part 1)This is a very good article regarding the fallacies of Old Calendarist ecclesiology. As the author points out, the adoption of the New Calendar was not good, but the Old Calendarists who uncanonically broke communion with all Orthodox churches over the calendar issue have even less justification. There have always been problems in the Church and there is a way to canonically resolve these problems.
Leonid1/28/2019 7:02 pm
(continued part 3)
When will our Orthodox Bishops remove this cancer from our midst? St. Paul says “a little leaven leavens the whole lump”, the EP and its leaven has spread throughout the church, and it will continue to grow if the bishops do not stop it. But I fear that it may be to late!

Gus, I agree with your last comment. Who started all of this? The so called Old Calendarists had no other recourse, since all of the "canonical" bishops were against them, and any bishop who raised their voice in protest was accused of "disobedience" and defrocked or pushed out of the church. They tried to appeal, and that is where ROCOR came in and helped them, and I thank God that they did.
Leonid1/28/2019 6:54 pm
(continued part 2)
Just look at every jurisdiction using the NC, and you will see laxity, modernism, homosexual clergy, avarice, ethno-phyletism, and much, much more. This is the main problem with the NC.The Holy Fathers have been proven correct, once again. What good has it done THE CHURCH? NONE! And the same will be true of the pseudo tomos that PB just wrote. Only the pope, the diabolical powers that seek to control this world and satan himself are rejoicing at these events, and they will benefit from all of this. It will hurt the church, and her unity immensely. Over the past two hundred years division, ecumenism and great evil has come from Istanbul.
Leonid1/28/2019 6:50 pm
Hi Gary, your question must be addressed. Why is it that today, Panagiotis has to write this article? Why do we have one orthodox believer getting ready to celebrate the feast of St. Anthony the great, while another will be celebrating the feast of the Three Hierarchs? The EP’s calendar innovation, brought joy only to satan and the pope...forgive me, but this is the truth! Orthodox families were torn apart, people are in disagreement to this day, and most importantly the prophetic words of Elder Ieronymos and many others came true, which is that the adoption of the NC would be like opening a floodgate to ecumenism, modernism and many other sins, including homosexual clergy!...
Gus Langis1/28/2019 1:05 pm
A propaganda technique of new calendarists (a page out of the Latin playbook) is to keep repeating that it was the old calendarists that schismed. The schism was mutual, it takes two to tango. In the 1935 Confession we can see that not only did the two members of the Greek Synod who returned their diocese to the o.c. called it a schism of the hierarchy for not even entertaining a return to the old calendar, but creating a schism of the Greek people into two opposing camps. This has been upheld by ROCOR in the 1970's saying it is the innovator who causes schism not the one who rejects innovation. Elder Philotheos Zervakos also said the calendar issue are two opposing camps of the same church.
Panagiotis1/28/2019 9:53 am
Dear Gary - I personally think that introducing the New Calendar was a mistake, as I have noted both in the article and in the comments. Its alleged (primarily secular) benefits in my view do not outweigh the divisiveness that has arisen as a result of its introduction. I should note that this article does *not* attempt to justify the introduction of the New Calendar, nor the perpetuation of syncretistic ecumenism. Rather, it simply aims to demonstrate that schism is not an appropriate solution to these problems.
Gary Cox1/27/2019 11:29 pm
This is not saying that Bishops can't fall from grace( look at Judas). Even though I don't like the things going on with Bartholomew I do know it will take some time. I truly do wish the Patriarchs would be quicker in the decision. And what if some of them give in and make a wrong decision? The people will see this and the Orthodox Church will have a major split.Much worse than the calendar deal.In moving around I have been a part of oc and nc Churches. Each one is still truly the Church.
Gary Cox1/27/2019 11:10 pm
All of this is because of the one thing that started it all. The insistence that the Church adopt a new calendar. Has the author also studied/researched the reason for the new calendar in the first place? Again I ask - has the new calendar benefited God's people? If so then what is that benefit? I'm not asking for secular benefits( which I am not concerned with) but are there any benefits of the new calendar to Orthodox Christians? Oh Nisibis, I follow your line of thinking but it seems a purely legalistic type argument of a protestant mindset. The Bishops are ordained( put in place) by God and work through the problems the Church faces.The first council in the book of acts shows this.
Panagiotis1/27/2019 2:46 pm
Dear Leonid, thank you for your comments! The article is directed against OCs because there are multiple aspects of their ecclesiology that are problematic - not only their claims of gracelessness, but also their interpretations of canon 15, their beliefs about breaking communion and establishing parallel hierarchies etc (see points 1 and 2 in my opening paragraph). NCs do not share many of these beliefs, and therefore I think it is fair that the piece is addressed toward OCs specifically. Indeed, in some OC groups many of these beliefs are *dogmatised* and denying them is tantamount to heresy (e.g. "Cyprianism").
Nisibis1/27/2019 1:27 pm
Anna, let me try to follow your reasoning. According to you, the "Orthodox approach" states that the bishops have the Holy Spirit and the canons of the church, established through the councils of the church (guided by the Holy Spirit) are merely “abstract principles and laws”, and when disagreement arises between bishops “who have the Holy Sprit”, then it is merely something that God allows, so that He can “work out” the problem, by allowing one Bishop, who has the Holy Spirit, to argue against another bishop who also has the Holy Spirit, until one of the two bishops, guided by the Holy Spirit, becomes the obvious winner! Then we can know, who truly has the Holy Spirit? So, since Meletius’
Gary Cox1/27/2019 1:04 pm
Anna Stickler, well put, I think you put the whole thing into proper perspective. Thank you.
Nisibis1/27/2019 4:22 am
(Continued Part 3)

This is how history will read, if the other patriarchates capitulate to the pressure currently being placed upon them. Will you then say, “well, the Holy Spirit has spoken” since these bishops, by your own reasoning “have the Holy Spirit” and the canons (maybe even the apostolic traditions?) are just abstract principles and laws?

Curiously, St. Maximos the confessor was not a bishop, and yet he ALONE echoed the teachings of the Holy Fathers, and was the true instrument of the Holy Spirit. All of the primates, the emperor, and monastics were against him, yet Maximos the monk is the favorite of God, fulfilling His will, while the bishops sought the will of the earthly.
Nisibis1/27/2019 4:09 am
(Continued Part 2)

So, since Meletius’ side won, and the “New Calendar” took root, it must have been the Holy Spirit that allowed the calendar change and in the process the murder of those pesty little zealots, that the police powers of Greece had killed and thrown into prison. Is that correct? Also, one must ask; if Bartholomew was able to grant the tomos, and the patriarchates of Georgia, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Romania etc. end up capitulating to the demands of the global governments that are trying to coerce them to do their will, would it be right for our descendants to label Russia and Serbia and all of us that agree with them as zealots and extremists?
Nisibis1/27/2019 4:07 am
Anna, let me try to follow your reasoning. According to you, the "Orthodox approach" states that the bishops have the Holy Spirit and the canons of the church, established through the councils of the church (guided by the Holy Spirit) are merely “abstract principles and laws”, and when disagreement arises between bishops  “who have the Holy Sprit”, then it is merely something that God allows, so that He can “work out” the problem, by allowing one Bishop, who has the Holy Spirit, to argue against another bishop who also has the Holy Spirit, until one of the two bishops, guided by the Holy Spirit, becomes the obvious winner! Then we can know, who truly has the Holy Spirit?........
Paul1/27/2019 3:40 am
To everyone who keeps commenting about the calendar change - you are missing the point of the article. The author only addresses the calendar issue at the very beginning of the piece, and simply aims to highlight that the revised Julian calendar does not fall under the condemnations of the pan orthodox synods. The author then agrees that the New Calendar was introduced wrongly and "contrary to Orthodox ecclesiological principles", but that this is no reason for schism. In fact, in the very next section, he states that EVEN IF the new calendar was condemned, this would still be not justify a schism, and argues convincingly using historical examples.
Panagiotis1/27/2019 3:33 am
(continued) These were certainly very unfortunate and shameful. Given the length of the piece, however, I could not include too many historical details viz. the beginnings of the OC movement, though these have been satisfactorily addressed elsewhere. Rather, I saw a pressing need for a piece which corrects much of the disinformation spread over the internet in relation to when it is appropriate to break communion with one's hierarchs and declare other churches graceless etc. In other words, the piece is focused primarily upon the ecclesiological foundations of Old Calendarism and how these are problematic when compared to the actions taken throughout the history of the Church.
Panagiotis1/27/2019 3:25 am
Dear Maria - thanks for commenting! I am certain that many OCs are indeed sincere and devout. However, this does not mean that their ecclesiology is correct. If these Christians did not establish parallel hierarchies and instead tried to change the Church from *within*, we would likely not be observing the degree of modernism and syncretistic ecumenism that we do today. Although I disagree with many of the uncanonical and even heretical activities committed by certain NC hierarchs, the article demonstrates that there is a correct and an incorrect way of dealing with these issues.

As for the persecutions of OCs (to be continued):
Leonid1/26/2019 9:43 pm
The implication is that the Roman Catholics, protestants and other heretics have legitimate sacraments, whereas the Old Calendar communities, who have bishops consecrated in the church do not! Do you not find that to be a little absurd? This is why I say your paper is written against a straw man, but this straw man could be applied to the New Calendarists hypocrisy and double standard just as easily. So, the title of your paper might be changed to “a critique of the condemnation of “gracelessness” as pronounced by both the old and new calendar bishops.” Maybe this would be more accurate and fair?
Leonid1/26/2019 9:42 pm
Dear Panagiotis, I think that your paper is well written, and full of factual information, that could be used to discredit extremism in any form. As noted by another commentator, the New Calendarist have condemned many Old Calendarist as being graceless, and even go so far as to Baptize Old Calendarist upon their desire to marry a member of the New Calendar church, and they then forbid them from contact with their own family! Remember these are the same bishops who threaten their own priests with defrocking if they dare to baptize converts to the faith from heresy! So, a papist desires to enter the church through GOARCH, and the priest cant baptize him/her! Why the double standard?
Anna Stickles1/26/2019 9:17 pm
Those who give authority to impersonal canons create their own idols which they then obey instead of the bishops. When we separate the canons and give them authority and existence apart from actual use by living bishops we isolate them and take away their grace. The Church ordains bishops who have the Holy Spirit, it does not ordain canons nor canonical principles. If bishops disagree with each other on the use of the canons, then the Holy Spirit is at work in the community of the Church as a whole to gradually work out this problem.
Anna Stickles1/26/2019 9:03 pm
Excellent article thank you, very informative.
I had not heard these arguments before, but it struck me that the approach to the canons you describe is actually Scholastic/rationalistic. An Orthodox approach puts the authority in God and the bishops, not in abstract principles and laws. In the rational method principles and laws become an abstract, absolute and impersonal authority in themselves over and above the authority of our bishops and even God.
Maria1/26/2019 6:23 pm
Are the Old Calendarists as per the author's definition, the real problem in the church or is it modernism and ecumenism? "Old Calendarists" are not calendar worshippers as some would like to portray them.. They can be criticized for all their faults but they are sincere, devout Christians who want to safeguard our patristic traditions and are the first to denounce ecumenism and modernism in the Church. The author should also recall the shameful persecutions the Church of Greece and the government against these Orthodox Christians who bear this derogatory label. There lacks a balanced view because more we move away from our traditions and canons the more divisions we will be seeing.
Panagiotis1/26/2019 3:27 pm
Dear Afanassy - thank you for commenting. When writing the paper, I assumed some background knowledge of the reader, and therefore my use of terms may not be clear. If so, I apologize. By "Old Calendarist", I am not referring to those who simply follow the Julian Calendar (like the Russian Church). In fact, I prefer the Julian Calendar, and note in the essay that the New Calendar was introduced incorrectly. Rather, by "Old Calendarist" I am referring to those who created a *schism* and are not in communion with any local Orthodox Church, including those which still follow the Julian Calendar (like the Church of Russia). It is these groups which I critique in the article
Fr. James Rosselli1/26/2019 11:01 am
Some points: The New Calendar was adopted by EP Mataxakis (or sorrowful memory) in deference to Rome. The "Revised Juian" is simply the Gregorian calendar with the traditional Paschalion, made in deference to contemporary society with a bow toward Tradition. The Old Calendarist movement tends toward "canonicalism," Romanistically viewing administrative canons dogmatically.

Being in ROCOR, I follow the Old Calendar. Sometimes it's a pain in the neck. But it's the calendar we've been following for centuries, so why change? It's not "holy" in itself, but it is stable, and that contributes to holiness.

The author brushes all of these points, in a well-researched piece. Good for him!
Afanassy1/26/2019 8:44 am
Some reasons for a negative response (as "Paul" noted) to this article may be some UPFRONT omissions and implications:
1) Lack of clear definition as what constitutes "Old Calendarists".
2) Implication (intentional or not) that all those who observe the Traditional (Julian) Calendar (TJC) are therefore "Old Calendarists".
3) Lack of acknowledgement that 80% of Orthodox Christians in the world are on the TJC, but are NOT "Old Calendarists" by later understanding.
4) Use of the term "movement" to describe Old Calendarists (meaning Greeks), as opposed to all other TJC's, who haven't "moved" anywhere.
Article needs a disclaimer, without any attempted justification for the RJC.
Gary Cox1/26/2019 4:50 am
Can someone explain why we NEED the new calendar.Why the insistence on the new and the condemnation of the old? What benefit to God's people does the new calendar bring about? Did the new calendar bring people closer to God? What is so great about the new calendar? Instead of the new calendarists running down the old, why do you prefer the new ?
Panagiotis1/26/2019 3:23 am
Dear Leonid, I am the author of this article. I did not know that the editor's introduction/preamble to the piece would compare OC's to Islamists - thankfully, that part has since been removed.

To some other commentators: I am very much open to criticism, but I expect it to be fair and to accurately reflect what I have written in my piece. Since I used references to support every factual assertion I made throughout the essay, I am surprised that some have simply labelled it as inaccurate. If you wish to criticise any claim therein, you are welcome to do so, but I expect at a minimum that you appropriately reference your sources and argue fairly without ad hominem attacks. Thank you.
Paul1/26/2019 12:16 am
I am amazed that so many people have negatively commented on this article without actually reading it. The fact of the matter is that the author presents so many counterexamples to OC ecclesiology that all it takes is for just one of them to be correct to shake the foundations of Old Calendarism itself. The author nowhere claims that all Old Calendarists are graceless - this is for God to decide. However, it cannot be denied that their ecclesiology is flawed and incorrect, as the words of Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Fr Seraphim Rose, St Justin Popovic etc (presented throughout this essay) clearly attest.
Editor1/26/2019 12:00 am
Leonid: Please reread. The preamble was changed to remove that bit about the Islamists.
Leonid1/25/2019 11:21 pm
Editor, why are you removing comments that criticize you comparing all calendarists” to Islamists? Why don’t you just fix it?
John1/25/2019 10:18 pm
Gus Langis - with all due respect, making ad hominem attacks with loaded terms like "inferiority complex", and claiming that you can "easily refute" arguments in the essay without doing so, is intellectually dishonest. The article is not only about grace, but about when separating from one's hierarchs is justifiable. This article has over 50 references, many of which are from scholarly journals and Old Calendarist sources. If you wish to reply, you can write an article of your own (with references, and not unverified assertions)
Editor1/25/2019 8:12 pm
Afanassy: We'll look into increasing the comment space. Meanwhile, you can always add another comment as a continuation.
Afanassy1/25/2019 7:18 pm
Dear Editors of "OrthodoxChristian" - - -
What I would like to know is why a massive article like this, containing 14,758 words (not including your preamble or its references), can be addressed by your dearly beloved commenters in little snippets of only 700 words each?
PLEASE remove that limit! Or, if you must have a limit, then choose 2,000 or 3,000 words. The 700-word thing is outdated.
Comments from others, please?

BTW: The "Old Calendar" vs "Old Calendarist" issue would not even exist if there were not the "New Calendar" movement in the first place.


Gus Langis1/25/2019 6:11 pm
This article is hardly accurate. I as a new calendarist can easily refute most of these points. It argues with an inferiority complex on why new calendarist churches still have grace (as if someone needs to reassure themselves). Yet the new calendar churches refuse to acknowledge that they hold to the same harsh view points about their opponents. The fact is old calendarists also have incorrupt saints and probably the most famous monastery in Greece for (new calendar) women is the old calendarist Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalandou its grace acknowledged even by the Church of Greece!
John 1/25/2019 2:02 pm
This is a fantastic article. No matter how many abuses have been committed by certain New Calendarists, the real issue addressed by the paper (as Panagiotis noted below) is whether Old Calendarist ecclesiology is justifiable. Based on the arguments presented throughout the essay, it is not. OC interpretations of anathemas, canon 15 etc. are flawed and are expertly addressed throughout the essay. Some of the comments below are ridiculous - criticising the article because it is too long (i.e. comprehensive)? Making incorrect claims about the new calendar explicitly refuted in the article itself? People need to actually read what they are commenting on...
Panagiotis1/25/2019 12:52 pm
As the author of this article, I am saddened that many of the commentators thus far have missed its central argument. It is acknowledged early on in the essay that the Revised Julian Calendar was introduced incorrectly and can certainly be criticised. The point of the article is to demonstrate that no matter how uncanonically or even heretically certain ecumenist/new calendarist hierarchs have acted, a *conciliar process* exists for dealing with these matters which has not been followed by Old Calendarist groups. I have not misrepresented anybody - it is acknowledged from the outset that OC groups share different beliefs, and even the moderate view is critiqued throughout the article.
m. Cornelia1/25/2019 12:43 pm
I think that this article is important, because at fault for the change to the new calendar are the hierarchs who pushed it through, and not the ordinary faithful who belong for their own reasons to new calendar parishes and monasteries. There is a difference between ideological new calendarism and simply being on the new calendar. Once a Greek nun came to visit a monastery in Russia, and although Russians normally love and respect Greeks, a fringe group of "old calendar zealots" kept trying to prevent her from receiving Communion at one monastery. Of course the monks of the monastery did not condone such actions, but it caused her, a very sincere person, distress.
Gus Langis1/25/2019 12:11 pm
Missing from any discussion of the calendar issue is the insistence by new calendarists that the revised calendar is superior to the julian. As member of the GOARCH the revised calender is treated as dogma. Its hypocrisy for the Greeks to insist and FORCE Greek parishes to only be on the new calendar while accusing old calendarists of the same. The new calendar has impoverished the spiritual life of Greeks. Ex:vasilopita is to usher in the secular new year.
GUS LANGIS1/25/2019 10:58 am
This article is silly. First off point #3 is not true. There have always been old calendarists with a moderate ecclesiology. This is why old calendar churches with large greek communities such as in Ny or places in Melbourne pastor to new calendarists as well. There view is no different from their new calendar counterparts who say the same thing.
While its true the Sigilon of 1583, a portion of it is forged, it is not the only council that has condemned the gregorian calendar. Including condemnation of keeping feast days using the new "reckoning". I can go on, but when one studies the historical situation including how the Greek National Schism shaped these events, we are both hippocrites

Gary Cox1/25/2019 7:01 am
Can someone please tell me why the new calendar is such a big deal. Why do some people prefer it and look down on those who prefer the calendar that had been in use for a long time. My question is --- What is the benefit to God's Church and God's people to have changed it. If it benefits God's people then what is that benefit and if it doesn't benefit God's people then why the crazed determination to have it?
Afanassy1/25/2019 5:52 am
There very little "balanced" about this article: it just uses profuse verbiage and obscure research to appear that way. Let's cut to the chase.
Simple facts: the "New Calendar" (initially including the RC calculation for "Easter"!) was ram-rodded through in 1923/24, for ecumenical purposes, by a false council of 3 hierarchs illegitimately representing only 4 jurisdictions out of the 11 that existed at that time. It was NOT a proper council.
If any jurisdiction(s) want(s) to have a revised and accepted calendar, it would take a Council of ALL 14 jurisdictions now, with the number of bishops in proportion to the population of the jurisdiction, as required by the canons.
Momcilo1/25/2019 4:00 am
Christ is in our midst! Although, the question of calendar is not a dogmatic issue, it is a very serious one. And, if we are honest with ourselves and with history and we independently analyse the genealogy of the new calendar in the Orthodox Church, we will see that it did not come through the main gate, rather it "jumped the fence". It has since split the Orthodox Church right down the middle like not many other issues.It has divided, not united. It has caused schisms, not healing. It has brought "prayer schism" (this is a beautiful term I have heard from one priest long time ago) within Orthodoxy. How can we as the Body Of Christ have 2 dates for Christmas?The fruit of the newc isntgood
John1/24/2019 11:18 pm
In Church life today we observe the tragic consequences when clergy and laity ignore the inseparable relation of faith and life,both with the temptation on the left and that on the right. Whether one has shipwrecked in terms of faith or in terms of life,it matters little to the enemy of our salvation.His aim is to remove us from the full life of the Church,to deprive us of the Grace of God and make us into the "world."Whether you exit the Church on the right or the left,he cares not-so long as you exit,so long as you are removed from the Mystery and Mysteries.Fr. Peter Alban Heers 'The Work of an Orthodox Seminary Lecture'https://orthodoxethos.com/post
John1/24/2019 11:13 pm
“As the fathers say, the extremes from both sides are equally harmful…[We must]go on the royal path,avoiding the extremes on both sides.”(St. John Cassian)
"…Do not trust your mind too much; thinking must be refined by suffering, or it will not stand the test of these cruel times.I do not believe that the “logical” ones will be with Christ and His Church in the days coming upon us;there will be too many “reasons” against it,and those who trust in their own minds will talk themselves out of it."(Oct. 18/31, 1972 Letters From Father Seraphim)
Gary Cox1/24/2019 10:50 pm
The article is very slanted.when someone touches on the danger of the extreme left and then unloads on the extreme right then credibility is lost. The extreme left not only say that the murder of babies is ok but they go further and glorify it by saying they are doing it because they love women so much. ( Honey, we love and respect you so much we allow you to kill your unwanted baby). And homosexuality is good because God made you that way so gay sex is a good thing.The extreme left is the problem .Not the only problem in the world but a huge tool that the devil uses to draw people away from God. I don't think the calendar is the real issue.
Leonid1/24/2019 9:29 pm
The point is that many people such as myself, have always been part of an old calendar jurisdiction (ROCOR, Serbia, Jerusalem etc.), and I have no problem calling myself an “Old Calendarist”, simply because I do share your definition of the term, and my fellow “Old Calendarsists” do not either! There is much to critique about this article, and I hope that Pravoslavie, will present the rebuttals against the authors points, as well as the arguments and convictions for remaining on the traditional calendar in a balanced, honest and loving manner. If we love the traditional calendar of the Holy Fathers, it does not mean we want to condemn anyone else as graceless, since that is for God to do!
Leonid1/24/2019 9:17 pm
What if I were to take the worldview, theology and "ecclesiology" of the folks at Public Orthodoxy or the so-called “Orthodox Christian Studies Center” at Fordham University, and accuse all of the New Calendarists of sharing their thwarted views, and then begin to attack those views? Would some of your new calendar readers take umbrage with that? I think the New Calenderists that are part of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries would certainly take umbrage, since all of Elder Ephraim’s monasteries in North America are on the New Calendar, and consider themselves to be traditional and anti-ecumenism.
Bob1/24/2019 8:32 pm
It is controversies just like this that I believe are the sole authorship of Satan. How better to distract and divide soulful Christians than obsess ourselves with arguments of no eternal value?
John D.1/24/2019 8:18 pm
St.Philotheos Zervakos on the Calendar Issue in Paternal CounselsV1:Neither Christ nor the Holy Apostles or our Holy Fathers have ever taught us that calendars will save us.They taught us that faith and good works will save us.Calendars do not save man;the saints themselves were sanctified by pleasing God through Faith,and not through the calendars.The calendar is not God,nor do all the laws hang from it.Nowhere in the Holy Bible has the Lord mentioned that the Old Calendar will save us.Those who believe and are convinced that without the calendar the Holy Spirit is unable to consummate the Mysteries are not only heretics and deluded,they are also date-worshippers and time-worshippers.

anthony1/24/2019 8:15 pm
Sorry but this articel was just too long. It could have been published as its own journal. Just to say the underlying causes of the schism are the same. Those related to the prideful pretensions of K'polis and the pseudo Orthodox patriarchs perched upon their papal thrones. Same yesterday. Same today. And we all suffer as a result of their behaviour. Not that the other jurisdictions are much better tbh. I think it is only because of Orthodox monasticism that the Ark still manages to stay afloat. If it were up to the hierarchs most Orthodox would by now kissing the antichrist's toes in the Vatican. But with the coming gegonota!! all these heretics will be uprooted and true Orthodoxy will rise
Gary Cox1/24/2019 7:59 pm
Matthew 7:21-23. People will come to Jesus and proclaim the good things they have done for people in the name of Jesus. This is interesting. They actually do good things to help people (a Christian concept) and they claim to be Christians ( they give credit to Jesus and do them in his name). Yet claiming to be Christians (a church) is not enough. Jesus responds that they are workers of evil. If someone today claims to be a church, how do we know? We don't always know. The sure way is the ark of salvation which is the Orthodox Church. Trying to blend us into one big happy family without the true way is not the way to go.
Gary Cox1/24/2019 6:38 pm
This is an odd article. One wonders that as there is the possibility of a major schism in the Church that we have an article such as this. Maybe to soften us up to accept the Russian Church giving in to Constantinople? I hope not! I accept the author's "fact" without checking them out. There is a time element involved here. The Catholic Church that was semi-accepted by the Russian Church has changed since some of the things mentioned. Papal infallibility is now demanded by the Catholics. Not so before 1870. There are others differences also . Comparing apples to oranges is risky. Now days we have the calendar issue, robber council of Crete, and more. Constantinople is not Pope .
Rdr Andreas Moran1/24/2019 5:49 pm
A Greek priest not long ago said to me:'You know why the Greeks adopted the New Calendar? To get into heaven thirteen days before everyone else and take the best places!'
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