Athonite Elder Gabriel, disciple of St. Paisios, rebukes Patriarch Bartholomew as an enemy of God

Mt. Athos, November 6, 2019

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Elder Gabriel of the Kelli of St. Christodoulos of Koutloumousiou Monastery has written a strongly-worded open letter to Patriarch Bartholomew, condemning his abuse and neglect of the sacred canons and Orthodox dogmas, both with regards to Ukraine and to his general ecumenistic disposition.

Fr. Gabriel was a disciple of the great St. Paisios the Athonite and is himself one of the most revered elders on the Holy Mountain today. As is characteristic of holy elders, he does not shy away from speaking hard truths when he believes the occasion demands it.

For example, he was one of several Athonites who addressed the abbots of the 20 ruling monasteries in 2006 after Pope Benedict XVI was permitted to liturgically participate in the the feast of St. Andrew in Constantinople that year. In 2016, he headed a group of fathers who called on the Sacred Community to reject the Crete Council, and earlier this year, he was among the 12 Athonite elders who addressed the Sacred Community in defense of the canonical Ukrainian Church, decrying the Patriarch’s lack of respect for the canons.

Conversely, Koutloumousiou Monastery, to which the Elder’s kelli belongs, is among the most vocal of the Patriarch’s supporters.

Elder Gabriel’s new letter is dated October 24, and was originally published on It is also available in Russian and Ukrainian translations from the Union of Orthodox Journalists.

The Elder begins his letter by noting that he would like to show respect to Patriarch Bartholomew: “I very much wanted, during your recent visit to the Holy Mountain of our Mother of God, the Theotokos, to receive your blessing and kiss your feet, but I cannot do it, because it has long been immoral.”

“Would you like to hear why?” he asks before listing his points of grievance.

“In fruitless and devious dialogues with heretics,” he writes, “you have betrayed the One Church, Orthodoxy, many times recognizing the ‘diversity’ in the holy teachings of our Church and the ecclesiastical character in the sectarian gatherings of the Monophysites, the Pope, and the Theotokos-deniers, and Protestant iconoclasts.”

He also rebukes the Patriarch for his own rebuke of the great teachers of the Church, addressed to the visiting Roman Catholic delegation on the feast of St. Andrew in 1998: “Previously, you officially and irrevocably cursed the Holy Fathers as ‘unfortunate victims of the serpent who is the chief of all evils,’ to appear liberated from the need to obey their God-inspired exhortations.”

Pat. Bartholomew’s closeness with heretics is a very serious matter, in Elder Gabriel’s view: “You are an enemy of the Triune God and our Mother of God because you maintain an institutional friendship with conscious and unrepentant heretics and heterodox, subverted, and sinning, being self-condemned primates of heresies (Tit. 3:11).”

“You will have the same barren future with them, far from the Land of the Living, if you do not return to the faith,” Fr. Gabriel warns, adding a quote from the great preacher and expositor of the Orthodox faith, St. John Chrysostom: “He who receives the enemies of the King cannot be a friend of the King; he is not worthy of life.”

“Under your protection, any heresy and innovation has found refuge not only in the dioceses of the Throne, but also in the Church of Greece and in other places,” the Elder charges. While his clergy and the theologians awarded by the Patriarch, praise his “enlightened Patriarchate,” Elder Gabriel writes, they are, in fact, “all the pioneers and exarchs of all new theological delusions and institutional innovations, from post-Patristic theology and ecological and pagan earth-worship to the restoration of schismatics in Ukraine without repentance.”

“With you, all of these spiritual wolves find refuge and justification from the thunderous condemnation of the Orthodox clergy and flock, and you are their pastor and patron,” the Elder continues.

Further, he condemns the Patriarch’s consistent efforts at “cultivating in the fullness of the Church the perception that everything that … the Ecumenical Patriarchate wants, is the law of the Church… Like another Pope.”

“How strongly all the saints criticize you,” he adds.

In both word and deed, Pat. Bartholomew dishonors the canons of the Apostles, of the Local and Ecumenical Councils, and of the Holy Fathers, “which strictly forbid joint prayer, friendship, and joint worship with heretics,” Elder Gabriel believes.

Such disrespect for the canons is very revealing, Fr. Gabriel believes: “Thereby, you show that you do not believe in God, in the immortal soul, in the invisible world, in Paradise and hell, in the coming Judgment, and in retribution.”

“Perhaps, Your Holiness, your frequent meetings with representatives and benefactors from Masonic and other related orders testify that you hold inscrutable and high status and position that is incompatible and hostile to the Orthodox faith?” the Elder wonders.

And not only do Pat. Bartholomew and the Patriarchate push ecumenism, but they also isolate and silence those who do not agree, Fr. Gabriel writes. “Where possible, you use political interference, as was done on the Holy Mountain,” he charges.

Through his actions, and his emphasis on ethnic ties, the Patriarch has placed all faithful Greeks in a terrible situation: “You have forced the soul of every Orthodox Greek to resolve the dilemma: ‘To devote yourself to the love of the God-Man Christ or to the heresiarch, the Patriarch of the people?’” as St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote to the heretic Nestorius 1,600 years ago.

“And, of course, Your All-Holiness, the damage you have inflicted to the Body of Christ is a rebellion against the Savior Himself,” Elder Gabriel dares to write.

Pat. Bartholomew’ long reign has brought no peace or comfort to the hearts of the pious Orthodox, Fr. Gabriel writes, but only to those who wish to systematically destroy Orthodoxy with the Patriarch’s help.

Given the above, Elder Gabriel concludes with a call to “Repent and get off the wide and slippery path you are constantly moving along,” which damages millions of baptized souls and inter-Orthodox unity. The Patriarch will have to give answer for his deeds one day, and hell is full of unrepentant clergy and patriarchs, the Elder writes.

“The Divine Judgment first begins with us—Churchmen,” he concludes: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Pet. 4:17). Thus, Walk, Your All-Holiness, while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: when no man can work (Jn. 12:35, 9:4).”

In August, OrthoChristian reported that prayers are being requested for Elder Gabriel, who has been in poor health in recent months.

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See also
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I believe it necessary for reasons put forth in my letter to share with Your Eminence my concerns with regard to recent developments in the Orthodox Church.
“Patriarch Bartholomew does not respect the sacred canons”: 12 Athonite elders address the Sacred Community in defense of the canonical Ukrainian Church “Patriarch Bartholomew does not respect the sacred canons”: 12 Athonite elders address the Sacred Community in defense of the canonical Ukrainian Church “Patriarch Bartholomew does not respect the sacred canons”: 12 Athonite elders address the Sacred Community in defense of the canonical Ukrainian Church “Patriarch Bartholomew does not respect the sacred canons”: 12 Athonite elders address the Sacred Community in defense of the canonical Ukrainian Church
“With great sorrow and concern we learn about what is happening in the Orthodox Church as a whole because of the non-canonical granting of autocephaly to the schismatics of Ukraine without the consent of the canonical autonomous Church headed by Metropolitan Onuphry, which continues to consider the new autocephalites as schismatics, having no communion with them and, on the basis of the sacred canons, with all of those who have communion with the schismatics,” the letter opens.
Utrecht Frederick3/23/2021 3:19 am
Ehmad, this may be what you are referring. There are no accidents with God, so of course the Saints praised His decision on our Patriarcg: "Contemporary Saints of the Orthodox Church as the venerable Elder [Iakovos] Tsalikis and St. Paisios had predicted the election of the current Patriarch, and had talked with flattering words about his person. It seems, however, that they had done this in order to strengthen the Orthodox beliefs of the man and to encourage him that more significant is the holiness of God, and not the importance of the world! However, their wise words failed to dissuade the Patriarch from the worship of Antichrist." Speaking of Saint Paisios, the Patriarch had a long relationship with him. Shortly after his election he visited the Elder on the Holy Mountain, at which time the Elder said publicly, “God gave us in these difficult times the best Patriarch.” But as someone said when we came across this passage as we were translating it, “Perhaps the Elder saw what would happen with the alternatives, and rejoiced because this was the best possible outcome.” I’ll leave it at that for now.
Daniel Smith2/21/2021 9:23 am
Read Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation. Christ himself criticized his Churches while not yet disowning them, even after having fallen very far. Even the Church of Thyatira, subjected to the delusions of a false prophetess, Christ calls a Church of his own, yet commends those who do not seek to imitate those delusions. These 7 Churches are images of the various spiritual conditions a local Church can fall into, at least for a time, yet without Christ having automatically cut them off, though he threatens it. The elder is right to speak the truth and yet not usurp the role of Christ within his Church.
Emad Khourieh12/5/2020 4:52 pm
Dear John, please correct your words. You wrote that father Gabriel was "carrying the spirit of Paisios." Let me tell you that, Paisios said that "Bartholomew is the best Patriarch god has given us in this time". Can't you read the difference in utterance between Gabriel and Paisios? One has rebuked him for his falsehoods while the other praising him in spite of his falsehood.
No wonder why Paisios was declared saint so quick by Bartholomew, while the wonder worker father Philotheos Zervakos in spite of him being a known wonder worker was not canonized. Why? Because Philotheos rebuked Bartholomew for his demonic ways saying: "get up O Chrysostom, get up O Gregory and see who is sitting on your throne. You have sacrificed your selves for the folk, while he had sacrificed the flock for himself" while Paisios praised him in spite of his evil ways.
John11/8/2019 6:41 pm
Elder Gabriel is a holy man and his reputation on Mount Athos is that he is very close to God carrying the Spirit of saint paisios. He is also like a modern day Prophet Jeremiah who is not afraid to speak the truth regardless of the consequences. Many people think that the Schism is irrelevant or just political but the reality is that it is a departure from True Orthodoxy and faithful need to be zealous in maintaining to Orthodoxy
Ancient Preference11/8/2019 5:40 pm
ACatharina, Be strong and resolute. You have found the True Church, of that there is no doubt. The Apostle noted how even 2000 yrs ago there were already wolves in sheeps clothing amongst the faithful. And you are right that it is upsetting for those of us who tried to flee the world only to have the world follow, but that is our lot. Orthodoxy is struggle, and the one who restraineth has been taken away. Yet we still have it far better than those in the Ukraine or Kosovo, far better than those under the Ottomans or bolsheviks, and every age has its trials. Gold is refined through fire. The phonies will make themselves known when the going gets tough. Pray to your patron saint for help and study the Lives of Saints, Church history, and writings of those more experienced and closer to God (not modern "theologians" who introduce new ideas) than us who are sinful so that you are not decieved. Keep studying all that you can. There is much to learn and our people die for a lack of knowledge. Get under a good bishop and pray for our hierarchs. Orthodoxy is also joy, and when we make God first He takes care of our needs. We just have to forget everything we learned before Orthodoxy and as Fr Seraphim Rose said, crucify our mind.
ACatharina11/8/2019 10:57 am
AncientPreference, this is what saddens me the most, as me and my mother are on our way to conversion. We're leaving the world behind, just to meet it again in what's supposed to be Christ's holy Church. I'm afraid the disgusting political intrigues will turn away many seekers of the true Church, whose faith is yet faint. It is a miracle in itself when people even start to seriously contemplate God in modern times and seek his Holy Church. We didn't escape the devil, just to jump into his embrace in the "church" full of intrigues, masonic ideas and worldly appeasment. May God take pity on us all and let that ancient sower of discord fail.
AncientPreference11/7/2019 5:17 pm
Glory to God for the straightforwardness of Elder Gabriel! Politeness is definitely needed in our times, but in invasions, heretical takeovers, anarchy, etc. it is absurd to behave as if someone simply took an apple off your tree. We need a real council. Why do we even have a Patriarchate of Constantinople? I love to learn about the 2nd Rome, but we can't be delusional, it ended over 500 years ago. Allowing an open heretic whose actions are directed by worldy powers and spirits to snap up every vulnerable plot of land in the world where an Orthodox community exists because of nostalgia is foolhearty and dangerous. Place any lands under Bartholomew's control around the region of Turkey under the Greek, Antiochian, and Jerusalem Patriarchates according to their proximity. Let the clergy and parishoners of the more foreign areas under his control, like those in the US, decide who they want to be under. Strip the promoter of heresies of his title and rank, and let him be anathema if he refuses to repent. We need unity and strength in Orthodox Christianity so those in world have somewhere to turn when they are sick of its ways, and so our children can see the contrast between the True Church and a lie. Going green (ecological and pagan earth-worship), having a lax attitude towards infant murder, ignoring the Church Fathers for unity with false religions, love of money, and manipulation are what the world already offers in excess. We cannot be an example if we are no different than spirit in the world. And we cannot have God if we allow wolves in sheep's clothing to redefine Him and His Church.
Gary Cox11/7/2019 3:17 am
May all the people of God be this truthful and willing to stand for the truth. May God grant him many more years to rightfully divide the truth. We are in perilous times. Pray for our Patriarchs and Bishops to stand for the truth as Elder Gabriel. Gary
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