After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


Abp. Chrysostomos Death Announcement in Orthodox Word 1968

Orthodox Word magazine July-August 1968 (#21) p. 156

Death of Archbishop Chrysostomos

Archbishop Chrysostomos, who until May, 1967, was Archbishop of Athens and Primate of the Church of Greece, died on Pentecost Sunday, May 27 (June 9), 1968.  One of the last strongholds of uncompromising Orthodoxy in the Church of Greece, he devoted his life to the defense of Holy Orthodoxy and the service of the Greek people, revealing himself especially in his last years, when Primate, as a vigorous opponent of modernism and apostasy in the Church.

Born Themistocles S. Hadjistavrou, the son of an oil merchant, in 1880 in Aydin (Asia Minor), he graduated with honors from the Orthodox Theological Seminary of Halke.  After ordination he volunteered for service in Eastern Macedonia, then under Turkish rule, and whole there he helped organize Greek fighting bands.  He was sentenced to four years in prison by the Turks, but he escaped to Lausanne, Switzerland, where he studied for 18 months.

At the age of 30 he was consecrated bishop, and three years later he was given his first see, Philadelphia (now Alasehir, Turkey).  His continued patriotic activities angered the turks, and in 1914 he was condemned to death on a charge of maintaining secret contacts with Circassian rebels.  Intervention from abroad led to a commutation of the sentence to a year of house arrest.

In 1922, when the greek army was defeated by the Turks in Asia Minor, Archbp. Chrysostomos (then Metropolitan of Ephesus) was captured by Turkish irregulars, but he escaped with the aid of the captain of a British cruiser.  Two years later he served briefly as Metropolitan in Veria-Naousa, and later he took over the newly0created Diocese of Kavalla, the main port of East Macedonia, where he served for 38 years.

In 1962, at the age of 82, he was elected Primate of the Church of Greece, and for five years he occupied a leading role in the Orthodox fight against the unionizing and apostate policies of Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople.  When he first heard of the meeting of the Patriarch with the Pope in Jerusalem in January, 1964 (which involved joint prayer and other uncanonical acts), he immediately protested and called for vigils and services to be held throughout the city of Athens as a protest, himself presiding at the vigil at Petraki Monastery in Athens.

He appealed to the Holy Mountain and received in reply a Proclamation signed by numerous Abbots and monks in support of his strong stand on behalf of Orthodoxy (printed in Against False Union).

He protested again the patriarch's "lifting" of the Anathema against the Latin church in December 1965, stating officially that "the act of the lifting of the excommunication of the part of the Ecumenical Patriarch has no validity for the Ecumenical Orthodox Church.  The excommunication of the Roman church as heretical is a pan-Orthodox act, having been confirmed according to the canons of the Orthodox Church by all the Orthodox Churches..."

When he received a Greek translation of the eloquent letter of protest of Metr. Philaret (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) against the lifting of the Anathema, he was so pleased that he jumped up from his desk and went out into the halls shouting with joy for all at the Archdiocese to come and see it.

The Archbishop's enemies caricatured him as a hard, narrow-minded fanatic; but in actual fact he preserved to the end the fiery enthusiasm and open-heartedness of his youth.  When he received a Greek translation of the eloquent letter of protest of Metr. Philaret (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) against the lifting of the Anathema, he was so pleased that he jumped up from his desk and went out into the halls shouting with joy for all at the Archdiocese to come and see it.  Again, in his correspondence with Cardinal Bea he set forth his position courageously and politely, yet not with that false politeness that would demand a betrayal of the Faith.  He quoted Latin documents that prove the insincerity of the Latins themselves, and proved from the Pope's encyclicals why a "dialogue" is impossible since a prerequisite for this must be the recognition of the Papal primacy.

In Greece itself, unlike some of his predecessors who persecuted them, he was sympathetic to the Old Calendarists.  From the point of view of the strictest Orthodoxy, his adherence to the New Calendar (required by the Church of Greece) and his contacts with the Moscow Patriarchate may be considered his chief failings.

One of his last official acts was to swear in the new cabinet after it seized power in April, 1967.  A few days later, as he was leading the Great Friday procession in Athens, he collapsed with a heart attack and was hospitalized.  Within a month he was uncanonically removed by the new government.  He recovered quickly from his illness and spent the last year in the seclusion of his home near Athens.

His successor, Archbishop Ieronymos, has pursued an actively ecumenical line and has already done much to undo the work and influence of Archbishop Chrysostomos.

And thus the Orthodox Church has lost one of her modern-day champions – in fact, almost the last major hierarch outside the Russian Church Abroad to speak out openly against contemporary ecumenism and apostasy.  May God grant that, in the Church of Greece as elsewhere, there may yet be others!

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1 comment:

maximus said...

This is not the recently canonized Chrysostomos of Florina. This Hierarch has not been glorified by any one.

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