St. Chrysostomos the New in recent history 1994 summary
Orthodox Life magazine 1994 #4 pp. 46-50
THE OLD CALENDAR CHURCH OF GREECE
Behold how good and joyous it is for brethren to
dwell together in unity (P5. 132:1)
In our days, when the Church is assailed from all sides by heresy and schism, the knowledge that we are not alone in our struggle for purity of faith can be extremely comforting. Recently, a day of great significance in the resistance against apostasy occurred: the entering into full sacramental communion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the True (Old Calendar) Orthodox Church of Greece, headed by Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili. As a visible display of unity, Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco and Bishop Kyrill of Seattle of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and Metropolitan Cyprian, and Bishops Chrysostomos of Etna and Auxentios of Photiki of the True (Old Calendar Church) of Greece concelebrated on the feast day of Saint Vladimir, Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of the Slavs, on July 15/28, 1994, in the Cathedral of the Mother of God, Joy of All Who Sorrow in San Francisco, California.
The history of the Old Calendar Church of Greece is a radiant example of strength in persecution and uncompromising love for the Holy Orthodox Faith. The Church of Greece uncanonically introduced the New, Gregorian Calendar in 1924. Initially, only a small group of laymen resisted this innovation. Gradually, a number of priests began to return to the Old Calendar, especially following the miraculous apparition of the Cross above a church outside of Athens which followed the traditional Church calendar during the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross according to the Julian (Old) Calendar. The majority of clergyman at this time (1924-1935) were monks of the Holy Mountain who travelled throughout Greece, founding parishes and monasteries. Throughout this time, the State Church persecuted the Old Calendarists: services were interrupted, clergy were arrested, processions were broken up, and churches were closed. Despite these measures, by 1934 over 800 commu- nities had been formed throughout Greece following the Old Calendar.
A breakthrough occurred in 1935 when three bishops of the State Church returned to the Old Calendar: Metropolitan Germanos of Demetrias, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Zakynthos and Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina, who later became known as the leader of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece. These three went on to consecrate four more bishops: Germanos of the Cyclades, Polykarpos of Diav]eia, Christophoros of Megara, and Matthew of Vrestheni. However, sadly, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Zakynthos and two of the newly consecrated bishops, Polykarpos and Christophoros, returned to the State Church. The remaining four bishops formed the first Holy Synod of the Church of True Orthodox Christians of Greece.
In 1937, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina, when asked whether the State Church still possessed sacramental Grace, replied that, although it was wrong in accepting the New Calendar, nonetheless it still possessed Grace, for it had not been condemned by a pan-Orthodox council. This statement caused division; Bishops Matthew and Germanos separated themselves from Metropolitan Chrysostomos, tragically weakening the strength of the Old Calendar movement. A positive event occurred however, in 1945, when Bishops Polykarpos of Diavleia and Christophoros of Megara were reunited to Metropolitan Chrysostomos, followed, in 1950, by Bishop Germanos of the Cyclades.
The fiercest persecutions of the Old Calendarists occurred starting in 1949, when Archbishop Spyridon was elected primate of the State Church. Priests and monastics were arrested, beaten, and forcibly shaved; churches were seized; Old Calendarists were barred from theological schools. Metropolitan Chrysostomos himself was arrested in 1951. Yet the members of the True Church remained firm in their defense of the Faith, preferring persecution to compromise. Only in 1954 did the persecution come to an end. Unfortunately, however, Bishops Polykarpos and Christophoros once again returned to the State Church. leaving Metropolitan Chrysostomos alone, unable to consecrate a successor before his blessed repose.
In 1960, two bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad consecrated to the episcopacy Archimandrite Akakios. Shortly thereafter, a third bishop from the Church Abroad, along with Bishop Akakios, consecrated further bishops. Following the repose of Archbishop Akakios, Archbishop Auxentios of Gardikia was elected Archbishop of the True Orthodox Church of Greece. Following a period of growth and strengthening, the direction of the church began to wane under Archbishop Auxentios‘ poor guidance. Therefore, in February, 1979, with the encouragement and agreement of Archbishop Auxentios, Metropolitan Callistos of Corinth and Antonios of Megara consecrated eight new bishops in order to strengthen the Church. Unfortunately, however, Archbishop Auxentios' fellow bishops refused to accept these consecrations. Thus, a new synod was formed by Metropolitans Callistos, Antonios, and the newly consecrated bishops. During this time communion was established with the Old Calendar Church of Romania. Following a period of confusion, Metropolitan Cyprian of Fili and Oropos was established as president of the Synod.
Metropolitan Cyprian is one of the most influential and respected hierarchs in modern day Greece. He was a spiritual son of the Blessed Archimandrite Philotheos (Zervakos)and is the founder and abbot of the Holy Monastery of Saints Cyprian and Justina in Fili, a spiritual center for all of Greece. His ecclesiastical stand is significant for its moderate, yet uncompromising, view. While separating from the State Church for reasons of faith, he refuses to declare them devoid of Grace, following the position of Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina. It is precisely this point which separates his Synod from the other, extremist, Old Calendar groups.
The Synod of Metropolitan Cyprian has parishes and monasteries throughout Greece, Africa, Australia, Sweden, and North America. It is in full ecclesiastical communion with the Old Calendar Church of Romania, headed by Metropolitan Vlasie, the Old Calendar Church of Bulgaria, headed by Bishop Photios, and now, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, headed by Metropolitan Vitaly.
Bishop Photios, the sole Old Calendarist hierarch in Romania, was consecrated to the episcopacy by Metropolitan Cyprian and Bishops Chrysostomos of Etna and Pahomie of the Romanian Church. Bishop Photios was a student and disciple of the renowned confessors of faith and theologians, Archimandrites Seraphim and Sergey of Bulgaria. Vladyka Photios concelebrated with Metropolitan Vitaly and several other bishops of the Russian Church Abroad on July 4/17, 1994, in the Church of Saint John the Baptist in Mayfield, Pennsylvania. It is our hope that the holy alliance of our sister Churches may be a show of resistance against the tide of ecumenism and modernism which have had such a devastating effect on the Church.
Source: The Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece by Archimandrite [Bishop] Chrysostomos with Hieromonk [Bishop]Ambrosios and Hieromonk [Bishop] Auxentios (Center For Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, Etna, CA, 1985).
Extract From the Minutes of the Council of Bishops of
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
On 28 June/11 July, 1994, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia addressed the question of the possibility of entering into communion in prayer and the Eucharist with the group of Old Calendarist Greeks headed by Metropolitan Cyprian.
Circumstances of the case: A petition from the synod of Metropolitan Cyprian on this matter was received by the Synod of Bishops in 1993, but was not acted upon. Soon after, a new request was received, asking that the matter be reexamined. On 21 ]u1y/3 August 1993, the Synod of Bishops appointed a committee to study this question and present a report to the Synod of Bishops. In connection with this, the Council heard the following:
1) The report of the Committee, which consisted of Their Graces, Archbishop Laurus and Bishops Daniel and Mitrophan, who studied the question of the existing divisions within the Greek Old Calendar Church;
2) A short history of the Greek Old Calendarist Church from its beginnings to the present day;
3) During deliberations, attention was also given to statements of those opposed to the union, in which questions were raised as the the canonicity of Metropolitan Cyprian's groups and their allegedly un-Orthodox teaching on
grace. The remarks of private individuals were also heard concerning this question;
4) In addition, petitions from the Romanian Old Calendarists and the Bulgarian Bishop Photios, and from several private individuals, all urging the reception of the groups of Metropolitan Cyprian into communion of prayer, were
5) During the deliberation of all the question outlined above, it was established that:
a) The Synod of Metropolitan Cyprian adheres wholly to the exact same ecclesiological and dogmatic principals as our Russian Church Outside of Russia. This is set forth in detail in their pamphlet, ”An Exposition of the Doctrine Concerning the Church, for Orthodox Opposed to the Heresy of Ecumenism”;
b) In 1986, the Synod of Archbishop Chrysostomos II tried and deposed Metropolitan Cyprian in absentia for allegedly holding to heretical teaching and for refusing to unite himself to their synod. But as the history of the Old Calendar divisions shows, Metropolitan Cyprian had never entered the synod of Archbishop Chrysostomos II, which was only formed in late 1985, but was a member of the synod of Metropolitan Callistos in 1983, Metropolitan Cyprian headed the synod of the former. Metropolitan Cyprian had never submitted to his authority; the latter therefore lack the competence to discipline him.
After deliberation and analysis of all aspects of these questions, the Council of Bishops holds that at the present time, when apostasy is spreading and many official representatives of Orthodoxy, such as the Patriarchate of Constantinople and other patriarchates, are succumbing to and embracing the position of the modernists and ecumenists, it is very important for the true Orthodox to unite, stand together and oppose the betrayers of the Orthodoxy of the holy fathers. In connection with this, the Council of Bishops has decided:
1) To establish communion in prayer and the Eucharist with the Greek Old Calendarist synod of Metropolitan Cyprian, as well as with His Grace, Bishop Photios of Triaditsa, who heads the Bulgarian Old Calendar diocese.
2) All parties refrain from interfering in each others‘ internal ecclesiastical affairs. If any questions arise which require deliberation, it is essential to take counsel together.
1) To communicate the above—cited decision to Metropolitan Cyprian and Bishop Photios.
2) To inform our clergy and flock of the Council's decision through publication in church periodicals.
The Council of Bishops