Toronto, January 27, 2021
Those who reject the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s claim to being “First Without Equals” rend the robe of Christ, lack an ecclesial consciousness, and are deserving of the title of Orthodox “Taliban,” Archbishop Sotirios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada believes.
In an article published on the Archdiocesan website on January 15, “Are There ‘Taliban’ in the Orthodox Church? On the Absence of an Ecclesial Consciousness,” the Archbishop argues that anyone who does not wait to hear the true voice of the Church coming from Constantinople is full of “luciferian egoism.”
If you read certain Orthodox blogs, whether by Patriarch, hierarchs, priests, elders, or monks, you can see that the authors “lack love, peace, prudence, humility and judgment,” the Archbishop begins. Such authors are “self-proclaimed adherents of the Church,” and “One wonders whether these authors are really Orthodox Christians.”
“Above all, they lack an ecclesial consciousness,” Abp. Sotirios declares.
They must not remember the words of Christ, that we are not to judge, that divided kingdoms cannot stand, and that the love of many grows cold where lawlessness abounds, the Constantinople hierarch writes.
For Abp. Sotirios, the universally-recognized status of “first among equals” ultimately makes no sense. “When he who is first presides over a Holy Synod (of a local Autocephalous Church or of a Patriarchate), can someone else be considered first (or equal) to him? When the leading hierarch presides over an Ecumenical Council, can someone else be first (or equal) to him?” he asks.
Interestingly, the Archbishop then essentially makes the argument for “first among equals” when he writes: “Is it not the teaching of the Church that in a Synod—any Synod for that matter—he who is first does not decide alone but respects the majority of members? Is it not equally true that neither the members can decide on their own?”
Thus, the first cannot act alone, thoguht the Archbishop fails to note that that is precisely what Constantinople did in invading Ukrainian Church territory, and what the primates of Alexandria and Cyprus did in recognizing the schismatics.
But while the first cannot act alone, nor can the members of a Synod meet and act without the first. “Such a meeting would be an unlawful assembly or an uncanonical plot. Is this not the true teaching of the Orthodox Church?” Abp. Sotirios writes.
Those who understand and adhere to the teachings of the Church “do not tear the robe of Christ. They do not place themselves above the Church. They do not allow their egotism to dominate and make them believe that they are infallible.”
However, “all kinds of Orthodox ‘Taliban’ in the Orthodox press—to the extent that we can speak of a truly Orthodox press” present different opinions, and this “cannot be allowed to stand,” the Toronto hierarch asserts.
Some people try to interpret the will of God through their own egotism, and only repentance can fix that. “Orthodox Christians, whoever you are, you need to develop humility, prudence and an ecclesial consciousness,” Abp. Sotirios advises.
Those who possess a truly Orthodox phronema do not write on blogs, but wait to hear the true voice of the Church, which comes only from he who presides over a Synod or the Synod’s official representative. On the pan-Orthodox level, this would be the Patriarch of Constantinople.
“Everything else is the noise and racket of non-Orthodox voices brought on as a result of luciferian egotism,” the Archbishop concludes.