“Just as the disruption of war can create new circumstances favorable to peace … so, too, can ecclesial conflicts create new circumstances for unity. At the end of 2022, divisions in global Orthodoxy have rarely been so deep. That paradoxically offers new possibilities for ecumenical progress,”https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/orthodoxy-s-divisions-offer-glimmers-of-hope-for-healing-with-catholicism proclaims a prominent Roman Catholic publication, The National Catholic Register.
Of course, the “possibilities” referenced are the so-called communion and union between Orthodoxy and Rome.
The “divisions” in global Orthodoxy center heavily around ecclesial events in Ukraine where, in an abrupt and unilateral manner, the Patriarch of Istanbul, Bartholomew, recognized a conglomerate of pseudo-orthodox groups as, in his view, the legitimate “Orthodox Church” in Ukraine. He did this regardless of the fact that Ukraine had an established and canonical Orthodox Church, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, whose lead Hierarch is Metropolitan Onuphry. (For more on this subject click here to read another article of mine that provides more details on this topic.)
The Patriarch of Istanbul’s (aka – the Ecumenical Patriarch, EP) actions in Ukraine were divisive in the extreme, and are a primary root cause of the above-referenced “divisions in global Orthodoxy.” It is a great tragedy and sorrow that a proclaimed Orthodox Patriarch is willing to take actions that facilitate “divisions.” Divisions that only aid the enemies of the Orthodox Church. The whole Orthodox world is suffering because of these actions. We must remember that in truth the Church is indivisible, we will either remain with Her or leave Her and Christ Her only and true Leader and Head, to be joined to something or someone else. The divisive actions of the EP in Ukraine, it seems clear now, have a purpose and goal, and evidently they are not working for the true unity of Orthodoxy. Thus, the question must be asked – what unity is being sought?
It is telling that Papal sources are enthusiastic about the current “divisions in global Orthodoxy.” Why? Because it is working towards the goal of a greater Unia. In Part One of this series, I outlined, in brief, the history of the Uniate group within the Papal system. Read that article here. I did so because the “Union of Brest,” which constructed the prototype Unia, is clearly referenced by a major Papal figure, John Paul II, as a pattern and example that is extremely vital and relevant to “ecumenism” and most of all the effort of “unity” between Rome and Orthodoxy.
In his “Apostolic Letter for the Fourth Centenary of the Union of Brest,” he states, “In recalling the Union of Brest we must ask ourselves what this event means today. It was a union which concerned only a particular geographical region, but it is relevant for the entire field of ecumenism. The Eastern Catholic Churches can make a very important contribution to ecumenism. The Council’s Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum reminds us that ‘the Eastern Churches in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome have a special role to play in promoting the unity of all Christians, particularly Easterners, according to the principles of this sacred Synod’s Decree on Ecumenism: first of all by prayer, then by the example of their lives, by religious fidelity to ancient Eastern traditions, by greater mutual knowledge, by collaboration, and by a brotherly regard for objects and attitudes’”https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1995/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19951112_iv-cent-union-brest.html The Unia, he claims, is vital to the “entire field of ecumenism” and has “a special role to play in promoting unity;” let us not forget the essential phrase, “in communion with the … See of Rome.”
John Paul also sees the very evident connection between the “Union of Brest” and the more current “dialogue” between Rome and “Constantinople” (i.e. Istanbul, the seat of the EP). In the same above-quoted letter, he elaborates, “Pope John XXIII was fond of repeating: ‘What unites us is much greater than what divides us’. I am convinced that this attitude can be a great benefit to all the Churches. More than 30 years have gone by since the Pope made this statement. In this period of time there have been many indications which suggest to us that Christians have made progress in this direction. Eloquent signs of this progress have been the fraternal meetings between Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I, and those which I myself have had with the Ecumenical Patriarchs Dimitrios and, more recently, Bartholomaios, and with other venerable Patriarchs of the Churches of the East. All this, together with the many initiatives involving meetings and dialogue which are being promoted everywhere in the Church, encourages us to have hope: the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity, does not cease to work among Christians still separated from one another.”Ibid
Not wrongly does Pope John Paul II view the ecumenical ambitions of a number of Patriarchs of Istanbul, in concert with Popes of Rome, as the evident continuation of the Uniate spirit. This is very evident from the fact that both of the above quotes come from the same document on the Fourth Centenary of the Union of Brest. Current ecumenism is a vital continuation of the “Union of Brest.” (Sadly, there have been numerous Orthodox Hierarchs from numerous local churches that have engaged in a similar spirit, I am focusing on the EP because of its vanguard status in the “dialogue” with Rome and others.)
The common declaration of Pope Benedict XVI and Pat. Bartholomew I, made at the end of 2006, confirms John Paul’s understanding as outlined above. It states, “As far as relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople are concerned, we cannot fail to recall the solemn ecclesial act effacing the memory of the ancient anathemas which for centuries have had a negative effect on relations between our Churches. We have not yet drawn from this act all the positive consequences which can flow from it in our progress towards full unity, to which the mixed Commission is called to make an important contribution. We exhort our faithful to take an active part in this process, through prayer and through significant gestures.”https://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2006/november/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20061130_dichiarazione-comune.html The wording clearly and blatantly indicates that the goal and desire are for a “full unity.” Of course, this unity will not be founded upon the Orthodox Faith, no, for Rome will, it seems clear, never repent of its heretical teachings. The proposed unity will be founded on the compromise of Truth. Thus, the longed-for unity is not one truly founded upon the uniting Principle of Truth, that is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, rather it will be a “new” conglomeration, or “diversity” of confessions. Just makes you feel warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?
In 2014, Pat. Bartholomew issued another “common declaration” but this time with Pope Francis. This declaration reiterates the goal of “unity.” It professes, “Our fraternal encounter today is a new and necessary step on the journey towards the unity to which only the Holy Spirit can lead us, that of communion in legitimate diversity … While fully aware of not having reached the goal of full communion, today we confirm our commitment to continue walking together towards the unity for which Christ our Lord prayed to the Father so ‘that all may be one’ (Jn 17:21).”https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/may/documents/papa-francesco_20140525_terra-santa-dichiarazione-congiunta.html Keywords are, “goal of full communion” and “commitment to continue walking together towards unity.” Thus, the clear and stated goal by numerous modern Popes and Patriarchs of Istanbul is to enter into an Unia. They have unabashedly confirmed their commitment. These joint declarations expose the spirit of ecumenism; the driving force behind this spineless push for “unity” stands the spirit of relativism, humanism, and ecclesioclasm.
But who would not long for true unity? And yet, true unity can only be founded on true confession and true life in Christ, as Christianity has always taught. The price of the above proposed “union” will be the casting off of the Truth of the Apostolic Faith, for this was the same price paid at the “Union of Brest.” A “union” may be achieved, but it will not be Orthodox Christianity, it will be a “new” faith, it will retain the outward vestiges of Orthodoxy while destroying the very inner life and heart thereof.
“But we know in the last days, troubled times will come. People will be lovers of self … lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God; having an appearance of godliness but having rejected its inner meaning” (2 Tim. 3:1, 5).
I must remind the reader, that the post-1054 AD office of the Papacy, with all its adjoining ideologies, is considered steeped in heresy by the saints of the Orthodox Church. This has not changed in spite of the many proclamations by certain hierarchs. (Please click here to read my “interlude” article which is composed primarily of the writing of St. Justin Popovich on the topic.) Summing up the voice of the saints, St. Justin Popovich teaches that all the spirits of humanism “converge in the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope.”The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism, pg. 143 He soberly reminds Orthodox Christians, “Between such a world,” in which he includes Papal confession, “that willingly ‘lieth in wickedness’ and the follower of the God-Man there is no compromise. A follower of the God-Man cannot compromise, at the expense of evangelical truth, with the humanistic man who justifies and dogmatises all these things.”Ibid, pg. 144
At the core of the ongoing Unia is precisely the compromise of evangelical truth. This compromise is all the more insidious because it cloaks itself in flowery language based on Christianity. They exploit the constructs of Truth not for the Kingdom of Heaven but so that they may build their own kingdom and lord it over people, and draw them into slavery to themselves. Such is a foundation built on sand that is doomed to destruction.
Proceeding on this path of Unia, the sought-after horizon manifests itself a little clearer. We already know that the architects have a plainly stated goal of advancing Unia, and further the goal of a “common date” to celebrate Easter (Pascha) is now being presented. Pat. Bartholomew, the avid promoter of the Unia, has made clear that he would actively support the creation of a “common date” for Easter to be celebrated by Rome and supposed Orthodox. In preparation for the 1700th anniversary of the 1st Ecumenical Council (in 2025), both Pat. Bartholomew and Pope Francis are preparing the way for further “unity” through a “common Pascalion.” The reader may read two very good articles from “The Union of Orthodox Journalists” on this subject, here and here. For reference, here is a Papal source speaking on the same topic. And here is a source from Ukraine.
And that brings us back to Ukraine. One of the goals of the EP-created group in Ukraine, which poses as Orthodox, is to facilitate the deconstruction of Orthodoxy and advance a test run for the further application of the Unia. Remember the false “church” in Ukraine calls itself the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU).
The leader of the Uniate church in Ukraine (aka “The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church), Shevchuk, clearly understands the significance of Bartholomew’s deeds in Ukraine through establishing the OCU. He sees in it the hope of establishing “one” church in Ukraine, a common “Metropolitan of Kyiv,” that is composed of both “Orthodox” and “Greek Catholics.” He very rightly, in this context, states, “We are looking for ways to restore unity within the now-divided Kyivan Church, which was once born in the baptismal waters of the Dnipro River. This is entirely within the context of the modern ecumenical movement aimed at the restoration of the unity of the entire Church of Christ, the convergence of Orthodoxy and the Catholic Church.”https://aleteia.org/2019/01/13/do-changes-for-ukraines-orthodox-church-mean-unity-with-catholics-is-on-the-horizon/ Yes, such a goal is indeed entirely within the context of the current “ecumenical dialogue” between the EP and Rome. He continues to elaborate upon the trajectory of the proposed ideology of “unity,” “We are aware that this kind of unity will be possible when the ecumenical process is crowned at the universal level by the restoration of Eucharistic communion between Rome and Constantinople … This is not utopian thinking, as some people call it. This is the goal of the ecumenical movement. This is the fulfillment of the commandment of Christ, ‘that all may be one.’” Ibid. He is again very correct, the goal of all the “ecumenical” labors is “restoration of eucharistic communion.” This is what Bartholomew is working for. And this is what his goons in Ukraine, and elsewhere, are very clearly working for. This is the “unity” being pursued.
This is also the goal of every “ecumenical” organization, such as the “World Council of Churches,” the “National Council of Churches,” and many other such groups. The goal is a blending of Christianity into the nonrecognition of any of its evangelical truths, and the extraction from this concoction of a “new” faith.
Shevchuk is simply echoing the words of Bartholomew and Francis who proclaimed together, “Well aware that unity is manifested in love of God and love of neighbour, we look forward in eager anticipation to the day in which we will finally partake together in the Eucharistic banquet … By achieving this hoped for goal, we will manifest to the world the love of God by which we are recognized as true disciples of Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 13:35).”https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/may/documents/papa-francesco_20140525_terra-santa-dichiarazione-congiunta.html
Bartholomew would reorient Orthodoxy from facing East – looking steadfastly for the Rising Sun of Righteousness, the Everlasting Dayspring, and the Lightening that flashes from the East – to the man of the West, where light is fading and darkness of night is only growing.
Again, our Papal witnesses testify, “In 2023, the various patriarchs could be invited to visit Rome. Perhaps the annual delegation from Constantinople for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in June might be expanded to include representatives from other patriarchates. At a time of upheaval, Catholic-Orthodox relations can be put on a better footing. There is a great ecumenical prize that might be within reach — a joint date for the celebration of Easter, the high point of the liturgical year. In recent years, favorable noises have been made about that possibility from both Vatican and Orthodox officials. Notably, Bartholomew himself indicated the possibility in November, perhaps in time for the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea in 2025.”https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/orthodoxy-s-divisions-offer-glimmers-of-hope-for-healing-with-catholicism Ahh! A common date for Easter, the great “ecumenical prize!” Knowing how many proclaimed Christians love earthly prizes, I’m sure it will continue to be eagerly sought after.
A clear picture begins to emerge, for the “prize” of union with Rome, the EP and others are willing to sow division and discord in Orthodoxy. This is not new on the EP’s part, it used the same tactics in the institution of the “New” calendar under Meletios Metaxakis. In a stated goal of drawing closer to “Western Christians,” a fracture was perpetrated among Orthodox over the implantation of the “new” calendar (it is not my goal to elaborate on this in detail here). We may witness this tactic being once again exploited in Ukraine as the EP-created OCU is actively moving to the “new” calendar. It is then using the calendar as a weapon to be wielded against the true Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Is it possible that the change to the “new” calendar was a calculated step in the long-term goal of achieving the “prize” of a common Easter? And thus Unia with Rome? We as Orthodox do not need a “common date” for Pascha, we have the method for calculating Holy Pascha as given to us by the Holy Orthodox Church. But the constructors of the new religion need to give people a “new” date for the “celebration” of a new Easter.
Perhaps, all of the Orthodox people should rather return to the “old” calendar as an active action that would seek to heal the breach of Liturgical unity that inevitably has helped to feaster the current strife in the midst of Orthodox peoples.I am currently on the “new” calendar. I do not think it is “graceless” as some claim. I think its problem lies in the actual disunity it introduced in the common liturgical life of Orthodox … Continue reading Could all of us on the “new” calendar follow the Christian teaching of humility and humbly return to the “old” calendar for the sake of true love and unity? I think that would be momentous. After all, it is the “new” calendar that was introduced in novel and discordant means and has a number of flaws in its inner mechanism.
We manifestly witness the purpose of the OCU and it is mainly for the advancement of the Unia. Since it is devoid of the Orthodox ethos, it is already serving joint services with Lutherans, rejoicing over its “new European Christmas.” It is actively con-celebrating with Rome, to the extent of having a Latin priest serve at the “altar” during their purported “liturgy.” This is Uniatism at its finest. All supported by Pat. Bartholomew and the EP. All confirmed with a “tomos.” Why? Because this is the goal. They have told us very clearly that this is the goal. The problem is some Orthodox still don’t believe it, or more terribly some also actively desire such an Unia.
This theme is not new to me, I attempted to sound an alarm years ago on this matter. And this is not because I’m so smart, I’m not really, but because it does not take that much intelligence to comprehend that the EP’s actions in Ukraine attack and hurt only one thing – The Orthodox Church. I addressed this in past articles, here, here, and here, for example.
The disharmony between some Orthodox persons is indeed lamentable and sad. It is because I am still a slave to the passions, for I must look in my own heart first of all. Yet, we as Orthodox can never sacrifice the Holy Faith to achieve false unions with groups that have no clear intention of offering repentance for the destructive heresies they promoted and still promote. Heresy is death. We cannot be united to death no matter how whitewashed it is; no matter how beautiful the language that is used. If that happens then all such partakers of the union will be communicates of death, and therefore will no longer be participators in Life.
I believe that what we are witnessing is a demonic full-scale assault on Holy Orthodoxy. This should not surprise us. Rather we should be confident that the true Church is forever in Christ Jesus Who is the Only Truth and let us remain humbly and steadfastly in His Holy Faith. We should be founded upon this immovable truth proclaimed by our Lord Jesus, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15:20). The Body of Christ is being assailed because Christ Jesus is its Lord, Bridegroom, and Head.
This assault is not so much jackboot but rather subtle – retain your outward vestiges of Orthodoxy but receive a new heart, a new faith, a new kingdom. As the current persecution against Orthodoxy in Ukraine is making clear – accept the “new” faith or suffer discrimination and persecution from the powers of this world. The powers of this world hate true Orthodox Christianity. But if you accept the new religion, then you will be given all the privileges and advantages afforded by the kingdom of man.
May we pray for our true Orthodox brethren in Ukraine to hold fast under the severe persecution they are suffering, and yes Bartholomew knows they are being persecuted. And not a word has been spoken against it.
We should weep and wail that some Orthodox are actively working and aiding the powers of this world, which “lies in the power of the evil one” (cf. 1 Jn, 5:19), with the objective of creating an Unia of man for the kingdom of man; that they are actively facilitating the persecution of the Orthodox Church.
But we must prepare ourselves, my brethren, in our inner person, to “go outside of the camp” – of this world – “and let us bear His [Christ’s] disgrace. For we do not have here on earth an enduring city, but we seek the one that is to come” (Heb. 13:13-14).
A seductive fruit is being offered to us for eating – join in the emerging Unia and remain in all the privileges of “the camp.”
May God strengthen our resolve to leave the camp and join Him as those rejected by the system of this fallen kingdom of man.
About the author
Husband, father, and Priest.
Schooling: Kharkov State University (Ukraine); Brownsville School of Ministry; St. Tikhon's Orthodox Seminary (M.Div.).
Author and illustrator of St. Patrick, Enlightener of the Irish Lands (Conciliar Press, out of print) and illustrator of The Life of St. Brigid (authored by Jane G. Meyer).
Proprietor and writer at the Inkless Pen Blog, at which, based on the foundation of the teachings of Orthodox Christianity, a wide variety of topics are addressed. Fr. Zechariah has translated some works by St. Dimitry of Rostov and New Hieromartyr Seraphim (Zvesdensky), these translations are also available on his blog.
|↑6||The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism, pg. 143|
|↑7||Ibid, pg. 144|
|↑12||I am currently on the “new” calendar. I do not think it is “graceless” as some claim. I think its problem lies in the actual disunity it introduced in the common liturgical life of Orthodox people. Pascha is the archetype, it is very clear all Orthodox must celebrate Pascha on the same day, I believe this principle should be applied across the board for every feast day. There is great importance to all Orthodox worshiping on the same day. My thought is that the “division” sowed in worship is now manifesting itself in other areas. May God help us.|