In every instance when the Church has been assailed by one or another heresy, we find that many people are fooled by the heresy without actually understanding what is happening. Heresy is always presented as the truth and in this way many are misled.

-- Metropolitan Ephraim, Holy Orthodox Church in North America, 2001

Monday, September 17, 2012

Statement of Bishop Demetrius

September 3/16, 2012
Hieromartyr Anthimus

Beloved Faithful:

In the Holy Orthodox Church, the bishop's first responsibility is to protect and defend the purity of our Confession of Faith. Within the past few years multiple issues have arisen which have disturbed the peace of HOCNA. These issues caused separation from Bishops, clergy, and laity. Particularly in this last year, a doctrine called Name-worshipping (or Name-glorifying) has been allowed to enter into the Holy Orthodox Church in North America, especially affecting the Metropolis of Boston. The Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Church of Russia, and the Holy Mountain of Athos condemned this teaching as a heresy some 100 years ago. From then until today, the entire Orthodox Church accepted these decisions. Now, there are some persons who wish to revive this teaching. They are casting doubt on the validity of the synods and confusing the synodal decisions in order to have this teaching gain acceptance by the faithful.

Efforts in the past year to quell this invasion of false doctrine have failed. Worse, despite pleas from clergy and laity, the Synod of Bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America will not formally issue an unequivocal pronouncement accepting all the decisions condemning the heresy of Name-worshipping and excommunicating those who adhere to it. Since my responsibility is to protect and defend the purity of our Confession of Faith, I can no longer remain a hierarch on the Synod of Bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America.

I am not forming a new synod; I am not creating a schism; I am not remaining a "floating" bishop. On the contrary, I am petitioning to be received as a member of the existing synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece, whose president is Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens. This same synod was unanimously, officially, and publicly acknowledged as a rightly confessing and canonical True Orthodox Church on September 21/0ctober 4, 2010 by the Synod of Bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America. The same Synod of Bishops unanimously decided to lift the 1985 depositions against those bishops in the current GOC Archbishop Kallinikos Synod. They also dissolved the locum tenency of the throne of Athens that was held by Metropolitan Makarios of Toronto. These actions mean that Archbishop Kallinikos' Synod is the canonical successor of the True Orthodox Church of Greece under Archbishop Auxentius of Athens to which we belonged and from which we derived our hierarchy.

The Name-worshipping heresy has wreaked havoc in our Church in North America. We had already suffered division as a result of the "Awake, Sleeper" controversy. Sorne consider "Awake, Sleeper" to be a debatable theological point which unnecessarily caused controversy in the Church, while others consider it heretical as well. Name-worshipping, however, is not debatable. The synodal decisions of 100 years ago clearly condemn it as a heresy. That is why so many of our clergy and laity are disturbed by the introduction of this teaching into the Church. Metropolitan Ephraim's articles such as 'Halki' and 'Ill-Considered Decisions' subtly support the Name-worshippers by insulting the Synods that condemned the heresy. A layperson who knows nothing about a strange doctrine, but has a terrible opinion of the authorities which condemned it, will be easily led to believe the doctrine.

Numerous clergy and many of the Faithful no longer trust the Metropolitan to lead the Church. Many clergymen have asked their Metropolitan to retire, and fifteen monks of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery are leaving. Clergy and laity have indicated they have stopped or will cease commemorating their Metropolitan. The issue is the purity of our Confession of Faith.

Furthermore, questions have been arising about the very foundation of HOCNA, the purpose of its inception and existence, the reasons for Metropolitan Ephraim's insistence for independence, and intercommunion only on his terms. Issues like 'Awake, Sleeper' and 'Name-worshipping' continue to push us away from other Synods, create discord in our own Synod, and Metropolitan Ephraim will not stop. Now, those who are leaving are being branded as rebels and troublemakers for their refusal to compromise on matters of Faith.

Under normal circumstances, according to the Holy Canons, a smaller, local synod can appeal to a greater synod when questions arise concerning doctrine, the tenure of hierarchs, and canonical order. There is no such official arrangement for the Synod of Bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America. This lack of a higher authority makes resolving such disputes very frustrating. To whom can the faithful appeal? My petition to be received into the Synod of Bishops of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece is an appeal on behalf of myself, our faithful clergy, and laity, for refuge from false teaching and a witness to our Savior' s Truth.

In the love of our Lord Jesus Christ,

+ Bishop Demetrius