The way and the truth of Christ and the Council of Crete

The following interview was conducted by the nuns of
the Samtavro
Monastery
, for the monastery’s journal
“Samtavros Makhvlovani,” [“The Blackberry
Bush of Samtavro”], when Fr. Peter was in Greece as
part of a delegation from the Orthodox Church of Greece to
the patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church. This is
the same monastery where the newly glorified holy ascetic,
confessor and fool-for-Christ St.
Gabriel
lived and reposed and where his relics
lay.

The delegation of theologians from Greece meeting with the hierarchs of the Church of Georgia at the patriarchate to discuss the Council of Crete and the post-council path.
The delegation of theologians from Greece meeting with the hierarchs of the Church of Georgia at the patriarchate to discuss the Council of Crete and the post-council path.

—Please give us your assessment of Cretan
Council.

—Sadly, the council in Crete is a false council
which produced unorthodox texts which now must be rejected
by the Orthodox pleroma.

Christ is the Way and the Truth and on both counts the
“Cretan Council” departed from rightly
representing Christ. Both in terms of
methodology—how it was prepared, organized and
conducted—and in terms of essence—the final
texts were heavily tainted by the non-Orthodox ecumenist
mentality—the “Cretan Council” departed
from the way and truth of the holy fathers and Oecumenical
Councils. A foreign spirit, alien to the holy fathers but
at home in this world, animated the proceedings,
proclaiming foreign teachings and not those “strange
words, strange doctrines, strange teachings of the Holy
Trinity”[1] which have been spoken in the past at
every true Oecumenical Council.

In spite of the excessive claims to the contrary, both the
preparatory process and the organization and governing
rules did not reflect the Orthodox way of conciliarity
(συνοδικότητα).
Major decisions regarding the council, including the final
decision to hold the council, were consistently made
without the knowledge, let alone the participation, of the
synods of the Local Churches. In practice, then, a new
form of Papalism was practiced and promoted, wherein the
primates of the Local Churches operated not as
“first among equals” but as “first
without equals” and as “popes” over
their bishops. This was most evident in the unprecedented
and unorthodox practice of limiting voting to the primates
of the Local Churches. As one bishop noted, without the
possibility of voting, the only difference between the
Orthodox bishops in attendance and the observers of the
various heterodox confessions was that the former [the
Orthodox bishops] could speak publicly, even if only for a
limited time.

Holy Monastery of Samtavro
Holy Monastery of Samtavro

The truth of Christ, that “sign spoken against,
“divisive” and revealing of hearts’
desires, was also absent or skewed in Crete. The
well-known criteria of all Orthodox councils is that they
were called to confront doctrinal and, by extension,
pastoral challenges to the Church’s unity and thus
chiefly addressed matters of faith (and thus heresy) and
only secondarily related matters of canonical order. In
Crete, this relation of faith and order, dogma and ethos,
was set aside, with any reference to schism and heresy,
let alone living heretics, completely absent. In this most
heretical of all ages, in which syncretism and the New Age
reigns and the devil “walks naked through
history,” the Cretan Council referred even to those
well-known heresies condemned by past Oecumenical Councils
and the consensus of Church Fathers, as
“churches.”

Unfortunately, it is also clear that the council was
neither “great” nor “holy.” It was
a minor gathering which will be remembered at best as an
episcopal conference without pan-Orthodox authority both
on account of the small number of bishops invited and the
rather secondary issues it addressed. Moreover, however,
it was also not “holy” on account of a glaring
departure from Holy Tradition and the promotion of
syncretistic ecumenism with, among other things, the
nonchalant endorsement of unorthodox texts issued in the
dialogue with the Papacy (ex. Balamand) and in the
so-called “World Council of Churches” (ex.
Pussan and Porte Alegre). This tragic departure from Holy
Tradition is also apparent in the text approved by the
council, “The
Sacrament of Marriage and its Impediments
,”
which directly overturns the 72nd canon of the Penthekte
Oecumenical Council (“in Trullo”). In allowing
for inter-marriages with the heterodox this document
subtly but clearly expresses the so-called
“baptismal theology” and the new ecumenist
ecclesiology of “partial churches” outside of
the One Church. Both it and the document “Relations
of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian
World,” which recognizes the existence of
“heterodox churches,” are unorthodox texts
which must be rejected by the Orthodox Church.

In conclusion, the overwhelming majority of the faithful
in Greece were greatly disappointed with the “Cretan
Council” and are looking forward to its clear
rejection by the hierarchies of the Local Churches which
did not attend, first of all which is the venerable Church
of Georgia, but also from the Church of Greece’s own
hierarchy, the pre-council decisions of which were
uncanonically set aside by the Archbishop of Greece when
he and his retinue accepted the “historical
name” of “heterodox churches.”

—What was the resonance of the position of
the Georgian Church in Greece?

—The Church of Georgia stands, at this moment in
history, as a light unto the faithful everywhere and their
hope for the unity of the Church and a future victory of
Orthodoxy over the new heretical ecclesiology of
syncretistic ecumenism. In particular, the pre-synodical
stance of the Holy Synod and His Beatitude, Patriarch Ilia
II, with regard to the unorthodox texts on marriage and on
the heterodox, as well as the patriarch’s epistle sent
to the Patriarch of Constantinople during the Council
itself, explaining the reasons for not attending, gave
great joy to the faithful everywhere and especially in
Greece. The faithful in Greece are now looking to the
Georgian Church to stay the course and remain strong,
standing fearlessly on the firm rock of the confession of
faith in the one and only Body of Christ, which is the
Orthodox Church, the salvation of the world. We ourselves
are engaged in a terrible struggle against anti-Christian
forces in our country, which are openly working for the
uprooting of the Christian faith from Greece. Syncretistic
ecumenism is a part of this ant-Christian agenda. Thus,
the witness of the Georgian Church is immensely important.

—What was your impression of meeting with
the patriarch of Georgia?

—Our meeting with His Beatitude was the highlight of
our visit and a great blessing. His words and graciousness
were an encouragement to us in our struggle for the saving
faith and against the new ecclesiology of ecumenism. It
was clear to us that the patriarch and hierarchy are
committed to Orthodox unity and will not be swayed to
entertain any of the divisive innovations introduced in
Crete. His Beatitude showed us that he understands that
only on the basis of the Orthodox confession of faith in
the one Church and the rejection of the new ecclesiology
can “the unity of the faith and the communion of the
Holy Spirit” be built and remain steadfast. His
Beatitude assured us that for the Church of Georgia
“there are not many churches, but only one Church,
the Orthodox Church,” and that he and the Holy Synod
will “work for the unity of all the Orthodox,”
which can only be assured on the basis of the faith once
delivered.

We will be forever grateful to His Beatitude Ilia II, the
reverend metropolitans and pious clergy and faithful of
the Church of Georgia for the exceptional hospitality and
loving kindess they showed to us during our visit. It is
our prayer that our short visit will be the beginning of a
close and fruitful cooperation between the faithful of
Georgia and Greece on the all-important matters of the
faith which binds us together in Christ and His Church.
May it be blessed!

The tombs of revered kings and queens of Georgia in the catholicon of the Holy Samtavro Monastery, Mtskheta, Georgia
The tombs of revered kings and queens of Georgia in the catholicon of the Holy Samtavro Monastery, Mtskheta, Georgia

This interview was conducted in August of
2016 and published in issues 3-4 (24-25),
August-September, 2016, pp. 7-9 of the monastery’s
journal.

Fr. Peter Heers is the rector of the parish of the
Prophet Elias, Petrokerasa, Greece, Diocese of Ierissou
and Agion Oros (Orthodox Church of Greece)

He is the author of The Missionary Origins of Modern
Ecumenism: Milestones Leading up to 1920
, as
well as
The Ecclesiological Renovation of the
Second Vatican Council: An Orthodox Examination of
Rome’s Ecumenical Theology Regarding Baptism and
the Church
.

Fr. Peter is also the translator of several books,
including the
Life of Elder Paisios and the
Epistles of Elder Paisios, The Truth of our Faith (vols 1
2)
by Elder Cleopa and Apostle to Zaire: The Life and Legacy
of Blessed Cosmas of Grigoriou
, as well as the
best-selling children’s book
From I-ville to
You-ville.

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