In perioada 9 – 10 iunie 2017 s-a desfasurat primul Simpozion Inter-Ortodox care a avut un caracter critic – stiintifico-teologic printre altele si la adresa pseudo sinodului din Creta. Simpozionul a avut loc in cadrul Patriarhiei Bulgariei, cu Inalta Binecuvantare a Preafericitului Parinte Patriarh Neofit al Bulgariei si organizat de Comitetul de intitiativa Sfantul Ioan de Rila al Bisericii „Sfantul Gheorghe” Rotonda care este o biserica din perioada romana si se afla exact in centrul vechiului oras bizantin Sardica, astazi Sofia, fiind ea insasi un simbol national al luptei pentru apararea dreptei credinte.
Scriitorul si teologul de marca al Bisericii Bulgare, domnul Georgi Todorov a lansat cartea: ”Creta. Duhul secularist impotriva Sfintei Sobornicitati”.
O carte care arata evolutia fenomenului Creta (pseudosinodului din Creta) de la nastere pana la maturitate, o carte care vine cu elemente istorico teologice noi, cu nasterea fenomenului eretic Creta incepand chiar din perioada de dominatie otomana. Totodata se arata implicarea fortelor de influenta englezesti si otomane asupra Patriarhiei Ecumenice de la inceputul secolului XIX. Sunt pusi in lumina reflectoarelor patriarhii Ioachim al III-lea, Meletie Metaxachis, Athenagoras, pana la Bartolomeu si rolul lor in realizarea secularizarii gandirii ortodoxe.
A doua gazda a Simpozionului a fost Facultatea de Teologie Ortodoxa din Sofia.
Domnul profesor Alexander Omarchevski, Decanul Facultatii de Teologie, a vorbit despre mostenirea Sfantului Imparat Constantin si degradarea acestei mosteniri prin secularismul promovat in ultimul timp in mediile bisericesti.
Aici au fost ascutate comunicari stiintifice importante legate de Sfantul Ioan de Rila si testamentul sau legat de apararea credintei si dogmei ortodoxe.
Prezenta reprezentantului Bisericii Georgiei a a fost o surpriza placuta si o bucurie, pentru ca Parintele Mihail Bregvadze este unul din personalitatile cheie ale Bisericii Georgiei, un smerit ieromonah si egumen, dar si profesor al Academiei din Tibilisi, mana dreapta a Patriarhului Ilie al Georgiei, care ne-a povestit despre presiunile la care au fost supusi membrii delegatiilor pentru a accepta fraze si invataturi straine duhului ortodoxiei, al Sfintilor Parinti la ultima intalnire presinodala de la Chambesy. Pentru aceea delegatia georgiana din care facea parte si pr Mihail nu au acceptat sa semneze textul despre casatoriile mixte care avea ca fond asa numita teologie baptismala, in ideea ca oricine e botezat in numele Sfintei Treimi poate fi cununat si e considerat ca facand parte din „Biserica”, o : Biserica” nevazuta, si apoi au hotarat sa nu mearga in Creta.
S-a aratat in discutiile avute la masa rotunda faptul ca speudo sinodul din Creta introduce o noua eclesiologie in Biserica, o eclesiologie neclara cu influente protestante. Nu mai este definita Biserica si cine sunt cei dinafara Bisericii in mod ortodox, patristic, intr-un limbaj inteles de omul contemporan.
Dar asa cum au observat parintele Mihail, din dorinta de a vorbi omului contemporan diafara Bisericii, s-a ajuns la secularizarea limbajului si nu se mai transmite ethosul Bisericii ci s-a ajuns la o golire de Duh prin limbajul ametitor din Creta. Golirea de Duh are ca si baza gandirea varlaamita si a lipsei de intelegere a propriei indentitati.
Parintele Mihail Bregvadze ne-a reamintit de Rezolutia Sinoadala a Bisericii Georgiei de condamnare a panereziei ecumeniste, a asa zisului dialog neortodox in cadrul CMB din 1998.
Spunea un reprezentant la masa rotunda : „Daca Creta ar fi definit Biserica Ortodoxa ca Una si Unica Biserica in care se realizeaza mantuirea si sfintirea omului si ca dialogul cu eterodocsii se face din dragoste pentru intoarcerea acestora la Biserica cea Una si Unica, daca s-ar fi condamnat teoria „bisericilor nedepline”, si pe de alta parte, daca nu se vehiculau teoriile eclesiologice eronate ale teoriei ramurilor, teologiei baptismale, casatorii mixte, denumirea de „biserici” pentru eretici si lipsa oricarei condamnari a acestor teorii atat de daunatoare Bisericii am fi mers in Creta ca la un Sinod Ortodox. Dar acum trebuie sa ne pastram mostenirea data de Sfintii Parinti, deci nu trebuie sa urmam mintea noastra si duhul secularist care trasnpira la aproape fiecare fraza din Creta.„
Biserica Rusa a avut deasemnea reprezentanti. S-a reamintit ca Sinodul Bisericii Ruse din Exil s-a exprimat clar si raspicat impotriva pseudo sinodului din Creta prin scrisoarea oficiala inaintata in Soborul Bisericii Ruse inainte de Creta, cu specificatia de a nu participa si de a nu accepta propunerile neortodoxe.
Din partea Sfintei Mitropolii a Pireului au participat protprezbiterul Anghelos Anghelakopulos si subsemnatul. Parinele Anghelos Anghelakopulos a vorbit despre Sinodul unionist de la Ferara Florenta si masurile luate imptoriva acestui pseudo Sinod.
Este important de subliniat in lucrarea parintelui Anghelos Anghelakopulos faptul ca istoria bisericeasca consemneaza masura canonica (canonul 15 de la I-II Constantinopol) de intrerupere a pomenirii episcopilor care semnasera la Ferara Florenta. Sfantul Marcu al Efesului a intrerupt orice comuniune cu Biserica Noii Rome- a Constantinopolului. In acelasi timp a fost subliniat si faptul ca fenomenul Creta este mai grav decat Ferara Florenta, chiar daca nu se prevede unirea explicita euharistica cu eterodocsii, totusi exista o unire pragmatica cu toti eterodocsii in cadrul CMB, prin impreuna rugaciuni, texte comune, declaratii comune, acceptari sinodale comune, etc. consfintite acum prin Creta. Este o Ferara Florenta mult mai vicleana.
Lucrarea mea a fost „O abordare istorica a contextului dialogului cu eterodocsii. Declaratia de la Toronto.”
Datorez multumiri teologului roman Mihai-Silviu Chirila pentru contributia sa exceptionala la acesta lucrare. In aceasta lucrare am abordat ideile periculoase vehiculate in Declararatie, si anume ideea de sistem sinodal in cadrul CMB, in care „Bisericile” angajate in dialog au drepturi egale si coexista intr-un sistem sinodal. „Biserici” insemnad pentru ei toate ereziile. Apoi minimalismul dogmatic prezent din abundenta in Creta, ceea ce insemna sa se considere o credinta minimala comuna in Sfanta Treime si Iisus Hristos si nimic altceva ca baza a existentei cuiva in „Biserica”, asa zisa neutralitate eclesiologica, unitatea in diversitate a „experientei evanghelice”, teoria „bisericlor incomplete”, etc.
Am subliniat faptul ca aceste invataturi straine bisericii, de origine protestanta au trecut acum, poate in mod subtil, intr-un sinod ce pretinde a fi panortodox si valabil pentru Biserica Ortodoxa, ceea ce este abominabil.
In acest Congres s-a laudat pozitia marturisitoare si salvatoare a Bisericii Bulgariei care deja a condamnat Creta in mod sinodal, si totodata s-a cerut in mod impetuos si in aplauzele tuturor condamnarea Declaratiei de la Toronto si a pseudo Sinodului din Creta in cadrul Bisericii Ortodoxe Universale.
In fiecare Biserica Locala exista forta de a fi respins si condamnat acest pseudo sinod secularist care a introdus cancerul ereziei in Biserica. Plelorma Bisericii nu accepta si nu va accepta in veac erezia si a respins-o deja ca pe un corp strain. S-a amintit despre caderea Romei Ortodoxe, si despre faptul ca Adevarul nu sta neaparat intr-o institutie bine organizata lumeste si cu putere politica, ci Adevarul este la cei slabi si putini, la cei neinsemnati si nebagati in sema.
S-a vorbit despre efortul de a ramane in Biserica, dar in acelasi timp de a ne delimita, fie personal, fie sinodal, fie in grup fata de orice institutie care nu predica Adevarul lui Hristos in efortul fiecaruia dintre noi de a ramane in Biserica lui Hristos, adica in Adevar.
Numai un efort comun si o credinta inflacarata, gata de jertfa si plina de dragoste si pace poate sa revigoreze hotararile deja luate ale Bisericii Ortodoxe care se impotrivesc ereziilor eclesilogice si duhului secularist din Creta.
Absolut toate aceste teorii vehiculate in Creta au fost deja condamnate de Biserica Ortodoxa cu secole in urma, inclusiv „denumirea istorica de Biserici pentru eterodocsi” a fost condamnata in Sinodul de la Ierusalim din 16 martie 1672 (Patriarhul Dositei) cand a fost anatematizata Marturisirea de credinta a Patriarhului Kiril Lukaris, marturisire de influenta calvino-reformata.
Acest Simpozion a devenit o platforma ortodoxa de dialog stiintifico teologic intre Bisericile care doresc sa ramana in Adevar. Este si un strigat catre celelalte Biserici Surori pentru a reveni la ethosul ortodox, renuntand la un pseudo Sinod rusinos, care le pune intr-un pericol iminent de pierdere a radacinii ortodoxe care duce la relativizarea si desfiintarea a acestor Biserici Locale.
S-a cerut retragerea Bisericlor Ortodoxe Locale din „Consiliul Mondial al Bisericilor”, urmand exemplul venerabilelor Biserici ale Georgiei si Bulgariei si condamnarea Declaratiei de la Toronto si condamnarea pseudo sinodului din Creta.
Ecfonisurile si rugaciunile Sfintei Liturghii s-au auzit in limbile Greaca, Bulgara, Rusa, Georgiana, Romana si Slavona.
preot Matei Vulcanescu
Protoprezbiter al Sfintei Mitropolii a Pireului
HISTORICAL APPROACH TO THE CONTEXT OF THE DIALOGUE WITH THE NON-ORTHODOX THE TORONTO STATEMENT by Fr. Matei Vulcanescu Inter-Orthodox Conference organized by the Initiative Committee of the Conference «St. John’s Readings» of the Ancient Church of Saint George (The Rotunda) of Sofia, under the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan of Sofia and Patriarch of Bulgaria, Neophytos, in Sofia, June 9-10, 2017
(This lecture was presented at the Inter-Orthodox Conference organized by the Initiative Committee of the Conference «St. John’s Readings» of the Ancient Church of Saint George (The Rotunda) of Sofia, under the blessing of His Beatitude Metropolitan of Sofia and Patriarch of Bulgaria, Neophytos, in Sofia, June 9-10, 2017)
Your Beatitude Patriarch of Bulgaria Neophytos,
In 1950, two years after the first General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Amsterdam, the Central Committee of the WCC composed a declaration which entered in history with the title Toronto Statement. Along with the Constitution of WCC, the Toronto Statement is considered to be one of the pillars of the ecumenist movement, sometimes even called the „Magna Carta” of the WCC.
Toronto Statement has been elaborated by the secretary of the WCC Willem Visser’t Hooft along with his colleague Oliver Tomkins and is the result of prior consultations with roman-catholic theologians and some orthodox theologians, among which a contribution was also made by the protopresbyter George Florovski. The purpose of this statement was the development of a conception in order to determine what the WCC represents and what it does not. The idea behind this concept was to create a place of dialogue that takes into account the diversity existing in Christian space, including the ecclesiological and dogmatic ones. As stated by Russian ecumenist Vitali Borovoy, it was the Statement that created a space of ecclesiological diversity.
The manner in which it was approved, the Toronto Statement seeks to outline some general principles on how the WCC should work and report to its member „churches”, but also contains some fundamental principles on what the Church is from an ecumenist point of view.
Orthodox theologians have long considered that the Toronto Statement provide the framework for a safe cooperation between the Orthodox Churches and the Protestant-based heresies within the WCC. Their assessment was based on some of the premises (assumptions) in the Statement, which were quoted or paraphrased in the document regarding the relation of the Orthodox Churches and the rest of the Christian World, under paragraph 19:
Premise III.1: WCC is not and must not become a super-Church
Premise III.2: The purpose of the World Council of Churches is not to negotiate unions between churches, which can only be done by the churches themselves acting on their own initiative, but to bring the churches into living contact with each other and to promote the study and discussion of the issues of Church unity.
Premise III.3: The World Council cannot and should not be based on any one particular conception of the Church. It does not prejudge the ecclesiological problem.
Premise III.4: Membership in the World Council of Churches does not imply that a church treats its own conception of the Church as merely relative.
Premise III.5: Membership in the World Council does not imply the acceptance of a specific doctrine concerning the nature of Church unity.
Premise IV.4: The member churches of the World Council consider the relationship of other churches to the Holy Catholic Church which the Creeds profess as a subject for mutual consideration. Nevertheless, membership does not imply that each church must regard the other member churches as churches in the true and full sense of the word.
Further, we will make a small analysis of these premises of Toronto Statement:
„The World Council of Churches is not and must never become a superchurch.” (Premise III.1)
The most attractive promise for Orthodox theologians was that WCC would never become a „super-church” and that in principle it would never adopt ecclesial characteristics. No later than 1961, on the occasion of the approval of the Toronto Statement by the New Delhi WCC General Assembly, in a document called “the Unity Report”, Article 49 states that „At least we are able to say that the World Council is not wholly other than the member churches. It is the churches in continuing council.” In other words, WCC does not constitute a „super-church”, but the supreme deliberative organ of the ecumenist „church”, its permanent synod. This idea is reinforced at the end of the invoked paragraph, which states: „Many christians are now aware that the Council is in some new and unprecedented sense an instrument of the Holy Spirit for the effecting of God’s will for the whole Church, and through the Church for the world”.
From the Orthodox perspective, the synodic leadership of the Church is the one that gives the measure of its catholicity. Therefore, by accepting this point of view [of the WCC] as a promise that the WCC will not become a super-church, the idea of „catholicity” has henceforth been accepted by default as WCC being the leader of the „Church of Christ„, as formulated by the New Delhi declaration. A practical application of branch theory.
The theory of the „lost unity of the Church” (premise III.2)
The second premise expresses the purpose assumed by WCC to bring the „churches” into living contact and to promote the study and discussion of the issues of Church unity. It is obvious that the „Church” that WCC is talking about is not the Orthodox Church, but what the document calls „the true Church of Christ”, „the Holy Catholic Church that the Creeds confess.” Therefore the Orthodox Church assumed, through the heretical decision of a pan-orthodox synod (Crete 2016), to take part in the realization of the unity of a „Church” other than the orthodox, an idea which contradicts the purpose and the mission of the [Orthodox] Church.
When asked, the Orthodox participants in this dialogue respond incompletely that the purpose of the presence of our Church on this platform of religious dialogue is „to confess”. The October 26, 2016 decision of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church states that „the great and holy council [of Crete] confessed that the Orthodox Church is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”
But the premise III.2 of the Statement declares that the purpose of the WCC is „to bring the churches into living contact with each other and to promote the study and discussion of the issues of Church unity”. It talks about a living contact between the „churches”, meaning a real ecclesiastical relationship between orthodox and heterodox with the purpose to realize the unity of the Church.
But nowhere in the history of the Orthodox Church we cannot find ideas about bringing the Church of Christ into a living contact with heresies. A living contact implies two living entities, which respectively implies the recognition by the Orthodox Church of some kind of ecclesiality of the dialogue partners.
We cannot understand the ecumenist concept of the „study and discussion of the issues of Church unity” if we don’t link it with other premises of the Statement, which point out the WCC’s concept about the „Church of Christ” on one hand and the „member churches” on the other.
Therefore, subscribing to the purpose of the WCC to study and discuss the issues of Church unity, the council of Crete accepts implicitly that „The member churches of the Council believe that conversation, cooperation and common witness of the churches must be based on the common recognition that Christ is the Divine Head of the Body” (premise IV.1). This premise postulates that Christ is the Head of all the denominations which claim to be christian, which, in turn, would be parts of the Body whose Head is Christ. Moreover the Statement endorses this heretical idea on a formula expressed by an orthodox delegation at the ecumenist meeting in Edinburgh in 1937, which states: „in spite of all our differences, our common Master and Lord is one –Jesus Christ who will lead us to a more and more close collaboration for the edifying of the Body of Christ”. The idea that Christ is the Head of all the heresies is a blasphemy which the orthodox participants at the Ecumenist Dialogue overlook, or, worse, some of them even believe it.
„Ecclesiological neutrality” (premise III.3)
Premise III.3 which states: „The World Council cannot and should not be based on any one particular conception of the Church” is contradicted by the Statement’s text itself. The Toronto document’s structure is based on 2 subjects: what is and what is not the WCC and what is the „Church of Christ” which WCC is trying to build. It is true that at a declarative level WCC proclaims its ecclesiological neutrality, but it is self-understood that a dialogue platform which aims at the unity of the Church must have an idea about this Church. Otherwise how could it realize this unity?
The Toronto Statement abounds in ecclesiological assertions, most of which presumably are common for the protestant majority of the members of the Council. What else if not ecclesiological principles are these assertions: „the common recognition that Christ is the Divine Head of the Body” (premise IV.1); „The member churches believe that the Church of Christ is one” (premise IV.2); „The member churches recognize that the membership of the Church of Christ is more inclusive than the membership of their own church body” (premise IV.3); „The member churches of the World Council recognize in other churches elements of the true Church” (premise IV.5) ?
Despite the fact that it proposes ecclesiological neutrality, WCC bases its premises on the most prominent Protestant ecclesiological concepts: branch theory, baptismal theology, theory of signs, theory of traditions, theory of „incomplete churches”.
„Unity in the diversity of the evangelical experience” (premises III.4, III.5)
Premises III.4 and III.5 postulate that no WCC member „church” should relativize its own ecclesiological doctrine and that membership in the World Council does not imply the acceptance of a certain ecclesiology. If they were real, these two premises would, apparently, invalidate the ultimate goal WCC proposed, the unification of everyone in the „Church of Christ” to give a common witness of Christ to the world. In addition, if none of the WCC members are obliged to relativize their own ecclesiology, then the Orthodox confession that the Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church has no chance at any time to become the official doctrine of all Christendom, a condition sine qua non for the realization of that much-desired Christian unity.
The theory of „incomplete churches” (premise IV.4)
The last of the premises that the Orthodox Churches which took part in the Council of Crete consider to be „an indispensable condition of their participation in the WCC” is the one expressed in premise IV.4: „The member churches of the World Council consider the relationship of other churches to the Holy Catholic Church which the Creeds profess as a subject for mutual consideration. Nevertheless, membership does not imply that each church must regard the other member churches as churches in the true and full sense of the word”.
First, it is said that, despite „doctrinal and canonical differences”, the member „churches” of WCC recognize one another as serving the one Lord. This heretical idea is repelled by the patristic theology, which states that there can be no doubt that „The catholic (universal) Church is the assembly of the rightful believers who profess the orthodox faith” (St. Symeon of Thessaloniki, Erminia dumnezeiescului simbol al credinţei ortodoxe, EIBMBOR, Bucharest, 2010, p. 93).
The Council Vatican II adopted the principle which in roman-catholic theology is called subsistit in and which states: „The Church of Christ subsists in the Roman-Catholic Church”. This concept replaces the statement „The Church of Christ is the Roman-Catholic Church”, leaving the assertion that outside the [Catholic] Church there are not only abandoned christians, but „elements of the Church” and even „Churches and communities which, despite not being in full comunion, rightfully belong to the One Church and represent for their members means of salvation”. By this terminological statement, Vatican II establishes „a concrete place” of the Church of Christ, and that place is in the Church of Rome. The Church of Christ is concretely in the Church of Rome. However, the Council takes note of the „working presence” of the One Church of Christ and of the other ecclesial Churches and Communities (according to the encyclical Ut una sint), even if they are not yet in communion with it.
This concept, which was adopted by the Council Vatican II as a line of ecclesiological thought, is called in theological terms as the „Theory of incomplete churches”. It was taken over from the protestant theological thought of Jean Calvin which talked about the „remnants of the true Church”.
It is a striking fact that the Orthodox Churches accepted this theory of „incomplete churches” and legalized it in the document „Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World” through the acceptance of „the historical name of other non-Orthodox Christian Churches” given to the heresies in article 6 (which in the pre-synodal version of the document was expressed as „recognizes the historical existance of the churches”, being replaced in the final version with a sweetened formula, which nevertheless has its roots in the same concept about different degrees of ecclesiality), as well as through the reasoning of this recognition with the premise IV.4 of the Toronto Statement, which was added to the pre-synodal version of the document, where it has not been cited. The distinction between „churches” and „confessions” used in the article 6 (which does not exist in the ecumenist documents, because there is used the branch theory) denotes that the document considers some heresies to be more worthy to be called „churches” and the other not (various heresies are called invariably „churches”, so this distinction reflects the perspective of the ecumenist participants in Crete on the confessional spectre). Or, if we use the terminology of the article 4 from the document about the relationships with the rest of the christian world, the Church „has always cultivated dialogue with those estranged from her”, some of them being „nearer”, others being „farther”, exactly as the theory of the „incomplete churches” states, an idea that is foreign to the patristic thought, for which all the heresies are outside the Church, not nearer or farther.
Metropolitan Seraphim of Kithiron wrote an epistle to the Patriarch of Georgia and to all heads of the orthodox local churches, where he made an analysis that suggests that Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergam tries to impose the theory of „incomplete churches” in the orthodox space, relating [these incomplete churches] to the Orthodox Church. From this perspective, one could understand the ease with which the heresies were given a „sociological” status of „churches”. Even the statement that the Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church receives a new content, since, according to the logic used by Roman-Catholicism, it does not impede the coexistence of the Orthodox Church with the other „churches.”
The text of Crete, in paragraph 19 makes a praiseful reference to the participation of the Orthodox Churches in the «World Council of Churches». Here, those who drew up and signed the text, mention positively the 1950 Toronto Statement. They wrote: «It is their deep conviction that the ecclesiological presuppositions of the 1950 Toronto Statement, On the Church, the Churches and the World Council of Churches, are of paramount importance for Orthodox participation in the Council». The title of the Toronto Statement expresses fully the protestant ecclesiology and should have not been accepted by the Orthodox representatives at that time, because it introduces an invisible «One Church» and the «other» visible churches, which equally comprise the οne «Church» and, therefore, it recognizes the same ecclesiastical status to the visible «churches»-members of the invisible «church». The text of Crete, on one hand, points rightly to paragraph 2 of the Statement, which states that the purpose of the «World Council of Churches», is not to negotiate unions between Churches, but to bring the Churches into living contact with each other, and on the other, it conceals other paragraphs, which recognize the ecclesiastical status of the heterodox, and equate the Orthodox Church to the heterodoxies. Therefore, according to the Statement, which was embraced by Orthodox signatories (such as the late Metropolitan of Thyatira Germanos and the late father George Florovsky, representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate), but also by the signatories of the text of the “synod of Crete, there is the invisible «Church of Christ» and the various «churches» on earth, and that it is fuller and more inclusive to belong to the one invisible «Church of Christ», which is constituted by both the heterodox and the Orthodox, than belonging to their own Church. Therefore, the Orthodox Church is not the «Church of Christ», but a part of this «Church». That is why the Orthodox are asked to have communion with the other, and to participate, through them, in the «Church of Christ». The Toronto Statement literally says: «The member Churches recognize that the membership of the Church of Christ is more inclusive than the membership of their own Church body. They seek, therefore, to enter into living contact with those outside their own ranks who confess the Lordship of Christ».
In the same paragraph, it is recognized that there is «church outside the Church» and that «the baptism of the heretics is valid». It is written literally: «All the Christian Churches, including the Church of Rome, hold that there is no complete identity between the membership of the Church Universal and the membership of their own Church. They recognize that there are Church members extra muros, that these belong aliquo modo to the Church, or even that there is an ecclesia extra ecclesiam. This recognition finds expression in the fact that with very few exceptions the Christian Churches accept the baptism administered by other Churches as valid».
At another point, the Toronto Statement recognizes ecclesiality in the heresies, which allegedly, as it says, is only incomplete. It is written: «The member Churches of the World Council consider the relationship of other Churches to the Holy Catholic Church which the Creeds profess as a subject for mutual consideration. Nevertheless, membership does not imply that each Church must regard the other member Churches as Churches in the true and full sense of the word. There is a place in the World Council both for those Churches which recognize other Churches as Churches in the full and true sense, and for those who do not. But these divided Churches, even if they cannot yet accept each other as true and pure Churches, believe that they should not remain in isolation from each other, and consequently they have associated themselves in the World Council of Churches. They know that differences of faith and order exist, but they recognize one another as serving the One Lord, and they wish to explore their differences in mutual respect, trusting that they may thus be led by the Holy Spirit to manifest their unity in Christ».
It is also written in the Toronto Statement that the heresies have «elements of the true Church» and «traces of Church», which are « powerful means by which God works». This, of course, is a complete reversal of the Orthodox Ecclesiology. The Statement says: «The member Churches of the World Council recognize in other Churches elements of the true Church. They consider that this mutual recognition obliges them to enter into a serious conversation with each other in the hope that these elements of truth will lead to the recognition of the full truth and to unity based on the full truth. It is generally taught in the different Churches that other Churches have certain elements of the true Church, in some traditions called vestigia ecclesiae. Such elements are the preaching of the Word, the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, and the administration of the sacraments. These elements are more than pale shadows of the life of the true Church. They are a fact of real promise and provide an opportunity to strive by frank and brotherly intercourse for the realization of a fuller unity. Moreover, Christians of all ecclesiological views throughout the world, by the preaching of the Gospel, brought men and women to salvation by Christ, to newness of life in Him, and into Christian fellowship with one another. The ecumenical movement is based upon the conviction that these „traces” are to be followed. The Churches should not despise them as mere elements of truth but rejoice in them as hopeful signs pointing toward real unity. For what are these elements? Not dead remnants of the past but powerful means by which God works. Questions may and must be raised about the validity and purity of teaching and sacramental life, but there can be no question that such dynamic elements of Church life justify the hope that the Churches which maintain them will be led into fuller truth. It is through the ecumenical conversation that this recognition of truth is facilitated».
It results from the Toronto Statement, that, apart from recognizing elements of truth in the other «churches», it is therein mutually accepted, that in the Orthodox Church does not abode the whole truth, but the fullness of truth will result from the contact and the dialogue with each other, namely the Theological Dialogues. It is written literally: «The member Churches of the Council are willing to consult together in seeking to learn of the Lord Jesus Christ what witness He would have them to bear to the world in His Name. A further practical implication of common membership in the World Council is that the member Churches should recognize their solidarity with each other, render assistance to each other in case of need, and refrain from such actions as are incompatible with brotherly relationships».
What is far worse is that in another paragraph of the Toronto Statement it was accepted that, without the other «churches», that is to say without the motley of heresies, the Body of Christ is neither built up nor renewed, but this is achieved, when we have in connectedness with the others. The Statement says: «The member Churches enter into spiritual relationships through which they seek to learn from each other and to give help to each other in order that the Body of Christ may be built up and that the life of the Churches may be renewed».
In the Toronto Statement, the other text of Porto Alegre (2006), which was agreed-upon in common by the Orthodox, also establishes the mutual recognition of baptism between the heterodox-members of the so-called World Council of Churches, with the following wording : «We affirm that there is one baptism, just as there is one body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one God and Father of us all (cf. Eph. 4:4-6). In God’s grace, baptism manifests the reality that we belong to one another, even though some churches are not yet able to recognize others as Church in the full sense of the word. We recall the words of the Toronto Statement, in which the member churches of the WCC affirm that „the membership of the church of Christ is more inclusive than the membership of their own church body. They seek, therefore, to enter into living contact with those outside their own ranks who confess the Lordship of Christ». To the same end, that of the mutual recognition of Baptism, by the members of the so called «World Council of Churches», it is noted in the Toronto Statement: «All the Christian Churches, including the Church of Rome, hold that there is no complete identity between the membership of the Church Universal and the membership of their own Church. They recognize that there are Church members extra muros, that these belong aliquo modo to the Church, or even that there is an ecclesia extra ecclesiam. This recognition finds expression in the fact that with very few exceptions the Christian Churches accept the baptism administered by other Churches as valid».
It is clear, therefore, that the Toronto Statement, with its very serious ecclesiological problems, has acquired, through the “synod of Crete”, a «synodical» validity, such of a constitutional text-of-reference for the Orthodox Church.
As it results from the above reference to paragraph 19 of the final and official text of the “synod of Crete”, and to the Statement of the Central Committee of the so called World Council of Churches, in Toronto, Canada in 1950, there really prevails in the texts of the World Council of Churches an unmixable mixture and, finally, a total confusion. Therein one can find and get what one wants. It results in the assessment that the so called World Council of Churches, is a «melting pot» with ambiguous, contradictory and mutually exclusive positions, so that all parts are satisfied. Therefore, Ecumenists of an Orthodox background, mentioned in this final official text, of the synod of Crete, from the Toronto Statement, that which would sound good to the ears of the Orthodox, but they concealed the rest of the elements, which we have mentioned, and which overturn the Orthodox Ecclesiology and affirm the comprehensive Ecclesiology of the Protestants, acknowledging elements of truth in the other «churches», that is to say in heterodoxy.
The positive and laudatory reference to the texts of the so-called «World Council of Churches», such as the Toronto Statement, the Lima, Porto Alegre and Busan texts, documents which it does not reject, means that the final official text, of the synod of Crete accepts the ecclesiastic status of the non-Orthodox, contests the uniqueness of the Orthodox Church, even though, it refers, contradictorily and misleadingly, to Her in the first paragraph, saying that : «The Orthodox Church, being the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church … » et cetera; in this regard it imitates the contradictory, unclear and «inclusive» texts of the «World Council of Churches».
So, despite the diachronic and the synchronic disapproval of our mixture with the miscellaneous heretical motley, in the protestant «World Council of Churches> and the texts of Toronto, Lima, Porto Alegre and Pusan, the final official text of the “synod of Crete”, instead of raising the issue of an Orthodox withdrawal from the «World Council of Churches», that circumvented the decision with aforethought, considering that it is self-evident and important to participate in it, since this, as well as other inter-Christian organizations «fulfill an important mission by promoting the unity of the Christian world» (§16). It simply characterized as «their own particular opinion» the withdrawal of the Patriarchates of Georgia and Bulgaria from the so-called «World Council of Churches», while this opinion expresses the self-consciousness of the Orthodox people and is in accord with the diachronic attitude of the Saints. The worst of all is that «it views favorably the Commission’s theological documents, which were developed with the significant participation of Orthodox theologians» (§21) by the «Faith and Order» Commission of the «World Council of Churches», while it remains in deafening silence regarding the unacceptable texts of Porto Alegre and Busan. Lastly, it is considered that the participation of the local Orthodox Churches in the «World Council of Churches», is based on the 1950 Toronto Statement, a text which, as we have shown, ecclesiologically, is very problematic.
In the “Synod of Crete” the words «heresy» and «heterodox» do not appear even for a single time in its texts, and thus they are essentially amnestied; also because – contrary to all the preceding and true Synods of the Church, which had condemned and anathematized heresies and heretics – this one imposed the recognition of the “historical name” of other “non-Orthodox Christian Churches”(Monophysitism, Papism and Protestantism) that enjoy honor, validity and value, as is evident in a phrase of its final official text «Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian World». Therein is says that «the Orthodox Church accepts the historical name of other non-Orthodox Christian Churches and Confessions that are not in communion with her».
The phrase «of other non-Orthodox Christian Churches and Confessions» – itself incomprehensive and difficult to explain – is contradictory and unacceptable, because, when we speak of the Church, She cannot be named non-Orthodox, that is to say heretic-heterodox, and when we speak of heterodoxy (non-Orthodoxy), that is to say about heresy, this cannot be Church, in the theological sense of the term. The definition of the Church is given to us by its very Founder, through His very truthful mouth, namely the heaven-dweller and divine Paul the Apostle, who in his letter to the Ephesians reveals that «[the Father] gave Him [Christ, to be] the head over all [things] to the Church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all». The existence of a non-Orthodox Church is, therefore, impossible, as is impossible the existence of a non-Orthodox Christ. The above definition of the Church as the Body of Christ smashes the allegation of the Toronto Statement that within the framework of the so-called World Council of Churches, «the Churches themselves have refrained from giving detailed and precise definitions of the nature of the Church», because the Church is defined by the Apostle Paul as the Body of Christ.
Thus, not only as pertains to the procedure of convening the Synod and its operation, but also in terms of its decisions and, particularly, of the attempted conciliar justification of Ecumenism and the heresies, now regarded as churches, the gathering of a minority of bishops in Crete can be considered neither a Synod, nor Holy, nor Great.
The uneasiness and worry expressed through the scientific and theological criticism of the “Synod of Crete” by Local Orthodox Churches, Hierarchs, Clerics, Monks and reputable theologians, scientists and laymen derive from the observance of the theological guideline of Saints and God-bearing Fathers and they aim, solely and exclusively, at ensuring man’s salvation.
The final, official, the text of the “Synod of Crete” entitled «Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian World», as became clear through the criticism which has been -and still is- exerted against it, is completely problematic and unacceptable. This is due, inter alia, to the fact that not only does it ignore and not take into account the negative experience gained from the Theological Dialogues with the heterodox, and from the participation of the Orthodox Church in the so-called «World Council of Churches», but also because, on the contrary, it praises the involvement of the Orthodox Church in these dialogues and the afore mentioned Council, as described in paragraphs 16, 17, 18, 19 and 21. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church becomes a small part in the jumble of those hundreds of protestants, condemned by Orthodox Synods, due to their unbelievable doctrinal teachings, and also of the non-Chalcedonians, condemned likewise by Ecumenical Councils.
Saint Justine Popovich, in many of his writings, criticizes the participation of the Orthodox in this Council (WCC). In one of these, addressing the Holy Synod of the Church of Serbia in 1974, writes with much pain : «How long will we humiliate slavishly our Holy Orthodox Church of the Holy Fathers and Saint Sava, with our anti-traditional and anti-saintly, of deplorable and horrible proportions, stance towards Ecumenism and the so-called World Council of the Churches? … Alack, unheard-of treason»!
In 2007, the Holy Community of the Holy Mountain with an extensive memorandum «On the participation of the Orthodox Church in the World Council of Churches» made an overwhelming and documented criticism targeting the participation of the Orthodox in the so-called «World Council of Churches>.
The fallacies of the «World Council of Churches», which are reflected in its texts, such as of Lima (1982), Porto Alegre (2006) and, especially, of Busan (2013), provoked the Orthodox self-awareness, resulting in that six Hierarchs of the Church of Greece, their Eminences Metropolitans of Dryinoupolis Andreas, of Glyfada Pavlos, of Kythira Seraphim, of Aetolia Kosmas, of Gortyna Ieremias and of Piraeus Seraphim, submitted to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, on 30 April 2014, their «Memorandum against the decisions of the World Council of Churches in Busan», expressing their appall for the fact that the text [of Busan] had been signed by the Greek Orthodox representatives, and calling for the withdrawal of the Church of Greece from the «World Council of Churches».
So, is it possible that a text so unacceptable as this one, issued by the “synod of Crete” and promoted with such machinations, would be accepted by the vigilant consciousness of the people of the Church?
Your Beatitude Patriarch of Bulgaria Neophytos,
Theologians (clerics and laics) of Orthodox background not only coexist and cooperate with the so-called «World Council of Churches», solely and exclusively for socio-political reasons and issues, but they also pray together, un-canonically, and jointly sign or adopt unorthodox dogmatic texts, with the Protestants who are also combating the Saints and are hostile to Virgin Mary, and with the non-Chalcedon, in the «World Council of Churches», and thus humiliate the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, trying to change it from a «pillar and foundation of the truth», from Bride of Christ and Body of Christ, to a counterpart of equal value and honor with even the smallest and most wretched among protestant and monophysite jurisdiction. We ask for the withdrawal of all the local Orthodox Churches from the so-called «World Council of Churches», following the example of the venerable Patriarchates of Georgia and Bulgaria and the condemnation of the Toronto Statement and of the “synod of Crete”.
Fr. Matheos Ion-Valentin Vulcanescu, Protopresbyter of the Holy Metropolis of Piraeus, Greece
Many thanks to Romanian theologian Mihail-Silviu Chirila for his important contribution to this work.
 Translator’s note: The word council means synod.
 Ibid, paragraph 3
 Faith and Order, «W.C.C.», Baptism, Eucharist, Priesthood, Editions of the Orhtodox Centre of Chambesy 1983. PROTOPRESV. ANASTASIOS GOTSOPOULOS, «The Synod of Crete and the World Council of Churches, in magazine Theodromia 183-4 (July-December 2016) 557-565.
 Τhe official text of the «Statement of Unity» of the 10th Assembly of the so called «World Council of Churches» (WCC), that is to say of heresies, in Busan of South Korea (8 Νοvember 2013) Statement of Unity – Revised SOURCE (of the English text) : Document No. PRC 01.1 (EN Original) For information (webside of WCC.) http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/assembly/2013-busan/adopted-documents-statements/unitystatement/@@download/file/PRC_01_1_ADOPTED_Unity_Statement.pdf
 Ibid., paragraph 6
 Eph. 1, 17-23
 ΑRCHIM. J. POPOVICH, «Orthodoxy and Ecumenism. An Orthodox Opinion and Witness», magazine Theodromia 143 (July – September 2012) 425-432.
 HOLY COMMUNITY OF MOUNT ATHOS, «Memorandum on the participation of the Orthodox Church in the World Council of Churches», magazine Theodromia 102 (April -June 2008) 207-272.
 Memorandum of five Metropolitans against the Busan decisions of the World Council of Churches, http://www.impantokratoros.gr/D416764F.el.aspx, Memorandum of His Eminence Metropolitan of Piraeus Seraphim against the Busan decisions of the World Council of Churches, http://www.impantokratoros.gr/Α8092Ε5.el.aspx
 Α´ Τim. 3, 15.
 Α´ Κor. 12, 27, Eph. 1, 23 and Eph. chap. 4 and 5.
 See Patriarch Joseph’s apology to the emperor Mihail the eighth Palaiologos, in V. Laurent – J. Darrouzes, Dossier Grec de l’ Union de Lyon 1273-1277), Paris 1976, p. 289 : «That’s why and we, the Church of Christ, which is the immaculate and amianthus bride, who Christ gοt married, guard from the miasma, please, of the Italians; do not contaminate ourselves with this miasma, because our souls’ bridegroom will turn away from us, and we will be ashamed eternally. «Do not give the devil a place». Patriarch Joseph is a saint of the Church and is commemorated on the 30th of October.
 ARCHPRIEST. THEODOROS ZISIS, Saint and Great Synod. Should we hope or worry? Ed. The Palimpsest, Thessaloniki 2016, pp. 154-173.