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Archbishop Sotirios Speaks about Extremism in the Orthodox Church

TORONTO – His Eminence Archbishop Sotirios of Canada issued a letter with the heading Are There ‘Taliban’ in the Orthodox Church? On the Absence of an Ecclesial Consciousness.

In the letter he denounces known circles which publish unfounded information and articles on websites dealing with ecclesiastical issues mostly in Greece attacking the Ecumenical Patriarchate and His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The Archbishop calls them ‘Taliban’ and he writes characteristically: “What does it mean to be first among equals? When he who is first presides over a Holy Synod (of a local Autocephalous Church or of a Patriarchate), can someone else be considered first (or equal) to him? When the leading hierarch presides over an Ecumenical Council, can someone else be first (or equal) to him?”

The entire text of Archbishop Sotirios follows:

“If you were to read the latest blogs authored by self-proclaimed adherents of the Church, you would be completely stupefied. One wonders whether these authors are really Orthodox Christians? (Patriarchs, hierarchs, priests, elders, monks)?

From their writings, we see that they lack love, peace, prudence, humility and judgment. Above all, they lack an ecclesial consciousness.

Do they remember what Christ said? “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Mat. 7:1). “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation” (Mat. 12:25). “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Mat. 24:12-13).

What does it mean to be first among equals? When he who is first presides over a Holy Synod (of a local Autocephalous Church or of a Patriarchate), can someone else be considered first (or equal) to him? When the leading hierarch presides over an Ecumenical Council, can someone else be first (or equal) to him? Is it not the teaching of the Church that in a Synod – any Synod for that matter – he who is first does not decide alone but respects the majority of members? Is it not equally true that neither the members can decide on their own? Would the members of a Synod be able to come together in session without the presence of him who is first? Certainly not. Such a meeting would be an unlawful assembly or an uncanonical plot. Is this not the true teaching of the Orthodox Church?

Those who possess an ecclesial consciousness do not tear the robe of Christ. They do not place themselves above the Church. They do not allow their egotism to dominate and make them believe that they are infallible. Not only in the Church, but also in any well-governed society, what is lately being presented by all kinds of Orthodox ‘Taliban’ in the Orthodox press – to the extent that we can speak of a truly Orthodox press – cannot be allowed to stand.

When some people reach the point where they interpret the will of God through their own egotism, then the situation becomes beyond repair, unless there is real repentance. Orthodox Christians, whoever you are, you need to develop humility, prudence and an ecclesial consciousness.

Those who truly conform to the Orthodox mind and cultivate an ecclesial consciousness do not appear on blogs, but wait to hear the true voice of the Church. The true voice of the Church is presented only by him who presides over a Synod or by the Synod’s official representative. Everything else is the noise and racket of non-Orthodox voices brought on as a result of luciferian egotism.”

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