On the Eve of the Vth All-Diaspora
Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili
on the Church
and the Wrongfulness of the Anathema
by the ROAC Sobor
Fr. Victor Dobroff
“He who has an ear, let him hear
what the Spirit says to the churches!”
On February 17, 2007, by a
Decision of the Sobor of the
“We consider the teachings of Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos to be harmful counsel, secretly instilling ecumenist misbeliefs in the minds of the faithful, and we condemn him. All those in agreement with the teachings of Cyprian have fallen under the anathema against the heresy of ecumenism issued in 1983 by the Synod of Bishops under the chairmanship of the saintly Metropolitan Philaret (Vosnesensky), the Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.”
This menacing Decision of the ROAC Sobor was made on the basis of a speech by Bishop Andrey (Pavlovskiy), which is included in its entirety further down.
According to the wording of the approved Decision, even though the Church Abroad under the leadership of the PSEA currently enjoys full relations, as in the past, with the Synod of Resistance of the True Orthodox Church of Greece under Metropolitan Cyprian, and has its own completely independent, traditional ecclesiology separate from Met. Cyprian, there are some that still believe that the Church Abroad falls under its own anathema of 1983. It behooves us then to examine and consider the speech of the Most Reverend Andrey, as well as the Sobor Decision approved by the ROAC, and see if they are correct.
Bishop Andrey Pavlovskiy’s speech to the ROAC Sobor is provided below in its entirety, accompanied by commentary in bold from the author of this article:
On the Disreputable Teachings of Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili
Bishop Andrey Pavlovskiy
“The prince of this world is Satan, who has waged war with God from the beginning and does so now unceasingly through his servants, his followers, against Almighty God and His chosen entity – the Church of the saints and the city of his beloved (see Rev 20:8). He seeks to misrepresent God’s Truth, God’s Revelation to mankind, faith, and the teachings of the saints through the fabrication and dissemination of various false teachings and heresies in order to, if possible, tempt the chosen ones (see Matt. 24:24) and turn them away from the redemptive body of the Church of Christ and lead them to eternal damnation. Even among the small flocks of true Orthodox Christians, the enemy creates temptations and rancor. In our irreligious times, a time of tepidness in faith, he insinuates the deadly heresy of ecumenism, which has overcome all the historical patriarchates and turned them away from the Church. This heresy, in its soft and hidden form, is the new teaching of the Greek Old Calendar “Synod of Resistance,” led by Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili. – Bishop Andrey makes this claim right in the beginning of his speech, without any proof or canonical basis.
Having split in 1985 from the other bishops, Met. Cyprian of Oropos and Met. Giovanni of Sardinia formed their own Synod and created their own ecclesiology, which they consider to be the only faithful one and call all other true Orthodox “extremists.” – Time showed that Met. Cyprian was right, when, on the basis of the 15th Rule of the Double Sobor, which confessed the original ecclesiology of the Old Calendar Greek Synod developed back in 1935, he broke from the “extremists,” who his opponents actually revealed themselves to be later.
This ecclesiology was put forth by Met. Cyprian in his book,
“Ecclesiological theses or the explanation of the teachings of the Church for
those Orthodox resisting the heresy of ecumenism “ Fili,
The teachings of Met. Cyprian were judged to be unorthodox in 1985 by the Synod of the TOC of Greece under the chairmanship of Archbishop Chrysostomos II.
Archbishop Chrysostomos II was compelled to react to the departure of these bishops form his Synod on the basis of serious ecclesiological reasons.
In 1924, after the Greek Church adopted the new calendar and began to participate in the ecumenist movement, the old calendar Christians were left without a single bishop and for the next ten years were without a bishop’s omofor.
The episcopate of the old calendar Christians of Greece originated with three bishops, who came over in 1935 to the side of the old calendarists from the Synod of the Greek Church, which by then had already practiced the new calendar and ecumenism for 11 years.
This forms the first canonical inconsistency of the ecclesiology of the contemporary followers of Chrysostomos, which leads every alert observer to note the logical paradox: if grace is not present in the new calendarist and ecumenist synods, which they firmly believe, then how could three bishops “without grace” form in 1935 an old calendarist episcopate which has grace and a old calendarist synod which has grace?
Is it not Jesus who teaches us that, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33)
In 1935, Met. Chrysostomos I – the first Hierarch of the old calendarist Greek Synod announced that the sacraments of the new calendarists has grace, as the new calendarists found themselves in the state of a potential schism. After this announcement from the old calendarist “Chrysostomite heretics,” two bishops immediately broke off. One of them, Matthew of Brestensk, founded the so-called Matthew Synod by himself 13 years later in 1948.
Fifteen years later, in 1950, the Synod of Met. Chrysostomos I rejected the ecclesiology of 1935 and announced that the new calendarist ecumenists were without grace!
As we can see, the ecclesiology of the Old Calendar Greek Synod, presently headed by Met. Chrysostomos II was not consistent and wavered from one extreme to another, contradicting itself, contradicting all reasonable thinking, and contradicting the traditional ecclesiology of ROCOR, which had refrained from passing final judgments on the question of grace in other jurisdictions.
They are judged, that is the
teachings of Metropolitan Cyprian, to be false by other True Orthodox Churches
Among the Russian bishops, only one, the Most Revered Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), spoke out in 1994 against relations with them – out of all the bishops in the ROCOR Synod, only one gave his personal opinion on this matter – and gave a short critical assessment of Met. Cyprian’s ecclesiology and made the conclusion that Cyprian “confesses his personal view and definitely not the Orthodox teaching of the possible working of grace by the Holy Spirit in churches that are clearly heretical. This is a very important conclusion by the famous canonist of the 20th century, Bishop Gregory Grabbe. It is clear that Bishop Cyprian is not insisting that Grace is present in the Sacraments of the new calendarists, he simply does not preclude its possibility.
The Most Revered Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) correctly pointed out that having accepted the teachings of Cyprian, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia fell under its own anathema of 1983 against ecumenism. This claim by Bishop Andrey Pavlovskiy is incorrect. The Church Abroad at a Sobor accepted the Orthodox nature of the teachings of Bishop Cyprian’s Synod, and without altering its traditional beliefs, entered into a relationship not with the teachings, which were not different from its own ecclesiology, but with its Greek Sister-Church.
Certainly, the personal
opinion of such an esteemed canonist leads us to consider his points, but so do
the words of another esteemed bishop – a pillar of Orthodoxy, the abbe of the diaspora Metropolitan
“The majority of Local Churches have presently endured two horrible blows to their bodies: the new-style calendar and ecumenism. Nevertheless, though they might be in terrible condition, we do not dare say, keep us from this o Lord, that they lack God’s grace. We proclaimed an anathema against ecumenism for the faithful of our church only, and in this way, we humbly, yet steadfastly; tenderly, yet decisively, invite the Local Churches to consider this matter…”
Nevertheless, what matters to us Orthodox are not the personal opinions of bishops, even the most respected ones, but the opinion of the Church body. The ROCOR Sobor of Bishops of 1994 determined that the ecclesiology of the Synod of Met. Cyprian was Orthodox and that it coincided with the traditional ecclesiology of the Church Abroad and did not contradict it. The Sobor refrained from a conciliar decision on whether God’s grace was present or absent in the sacraments of other local churches, which may or may not have been brought into existence by any Local or Ecumenical Council.
In light of this, it is indeed surprising to hear the “anathemas” issuing from the mouths of former bishops and clergy of ROCOR, who previously entreated a Church that was in full communion with the Synod of Met. Cyprian to accept them and even ordain them. In this way, are they not anathematizing themselves?
The main precepts of these teachings are:
As a result, Met. Cyprian considers the
sum-total of all the churches of “global Orthodoxy” to be one church, made up
of true Orthodox Christians, in which the redemptive grace of the Holy Spirit
inhabits. It is quite clear that according to the teachings of Met. Cyprian, the
sum-total of “global Orthodoxy” is an assembly of members of the
Cyprian compares ecumenists to iconoclasts and insists that before the VIIth Ecumenical Council the iconoclasts were not heretics and that their sacraments were valid. Cyprian blasphemes, by saying that the iconoclasts were considered holy fathers not by the catholic church, but by “Orthodoxy,” thus seprataing the Church from Orthodoxy. Once again, we see how wise is Met. Cyprian. It is exactly Orthodoxy to which the members of the church who were caught up in the heresy of iconoclasm returned, since even the way they were received bears witness to this.
Also, the main precepts of the Orthodox Church aver that Orthodoxy and
the Church are indivisible, that you cannot be in the Church without believing correctly.
It was the Church, into which the Holy Fathers at the Councils received penitent heretics. It was said at the sacred VII Ecumenical Council, “let those who express their repentance before the bishops, do so as if they were before the catholic Church.” Our Lord Jesus Christ said in the Gospel, “he who does not believe has been judged already.” (John 3:18) Holy Apostle St. Peter also teaches,“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” (2 Peter 2:1) Holy Apostle Paul writes in his letter to Titus, “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11).
Each year during the week of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the Church proclaims anathema on all heretics, whose teachings were once judged at the councils, so that it would be clear to everyone that all teachings of the Holy Fathers that were accepted by the Church at the Councils are still valid to this day and that all those who are not in agreement with these correct and redemptive teachings are cast off from them.
In his commentary on the VIth Rule of the Double Ecumenical Council, the Byzantine canonist Zophar writes, “Those heretics who disagree with the Orthodox faith, whether recently or in the past, have been cast out of the Church, cast out, as Zophar says wisely, by the Ecumenical Council, whether they believed in new or old heresies.”
Similarly, the Eastern Patriarchs in their epistle to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church averred that since the Orthodox faith “has been revealed and inscribed completely, it does not allow anything to be added or removed, nor any other change; and those who dare to try, or advise to do so, or even contemplate it, have already rejected the faith of Jesus and have already willingly gone under the eternal anathema for those who profane the Holy Spirit.”
The saintly Bishop
As we can see, the judgments of the Holy Fathers and the Councils are eternal rulings and are applied to all who distort the beliefs of the Church. The 15th Rule of the Double Council calls a bishop, who prophesies heresy and who has not yet been judged by a spiritual court, to be a “false-bishop,” as he has clearly fallen under the rulings of previous holy Ecumenical Councils and judged by them.
And so, the Church, in contrast to Cyprian, has always taught and continues to teach that the heresies themselves, not the Councils, remove their proponents from the Orthodox Church and from God and deny them the Grace of God and salvation. The Church teaches that a “false-bishop” falls under the judgments of previous Holy Councils, who have condemned the heresy promoted by the heretic, and is judged by them – the Ecumenical Councils do! The Councils only loudly proclaim judgments of heresies and all those who hold to them. They confirm the dogmas of the faith and make it necessary for all those who seek to be saved to believe as they have instructed.
falsely that the one
though is foreign to Orthodox precepts, which teach that the Church, which is
the body of Christ, cannot be separated.
One can only fall away from it.
Just as Our Lord Jesus Christ cannot have several bodies, so can He not
have several Churches.
Our Lord said “and the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18), and “those who did not remain in the good
part, will be separated from it, while those who remained steadfast are not
Heretics and the
Orthodox have never been in one Church, in one body of Christ. Heretics fall away from the church. Cyprian teaches falsely that new calendarists and ecumenists are members of the Church,
while admitting it may be necessary to separate from them into a “oppositionist new creation,” “a parallel” Church, thereby
creating a “self-made gathering.” Only
those schismatics who fall away from the Church of
their own volition are separated from the Church. Met. Cyprian does
not teach separating from the Church, but to defend oneself from wrong
beliefs. Met Cyprian did not create a
self-made gathering or a new church torn away from its
Cyprian’s ecclesiology distorts Orthodox theology in a crude manner and injects disorder in the Church’s canonical rights. He reduces heresy to a simple sin. Sin can separate a person from the Church faithful, but while a sinner remains Orthodox in matters of faith, he remains in the Church and can repent. Heresy, like a mortal sin, realistically separates a person from the Church.
Our Lord Himself, in revealing to us our eventual
demise, inherently affirms the correctness of Met. Cyprian’s teaching of the
healthy and ill members of the Church by the mystery of the seven stars
(Apocalypse 1:20). Just as God is
pleased with the pure
An examination of Bishop Andrey Pavlovskiy’s presentation to the ROAC Sobor leads us to the fundamental belief that the teachings of Metropolitan Cyprian or Oropos and Fili are Orthodox, and though they may differ from the traditional ecclesiology of the Church Abroad, they do not contradict them.
The judgment passed by the ROAC Sobor on the teachings of Metropolitan Cyprian and those who agree with him is incorrect, as it is not supported by the Canons.