Open Letter to Metropolitan Silouan Oner

By pr. Matei Vulcănescu -
7 months ago

ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF SAINT EDWARD THE MARTYR 
AND SAINT PARASKEVI OF ROME
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland

His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland

United Kingdom

 12 December 2023

Your Eminence,

Your blessing!

According to Saint Ephraim of Katounakia, heresies are wrong opinions of demonic inspiration in collaboration with the pride and self-opinion of some Christians who have distorted and altered the meaning of the Faith. Heresy infests the human mind with passions, blindness, lack of clarity and correct perception of things of this life and especially of the spiritual life. According to Father John Romanides, man becomes mentally ill because of misconceptions about life and the world, which do not come from divine revelation, or which come from a poorly transmitted or altered revelation, and he is healed by the anathemas.[1]  The Holy Apostle Paul says, “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema! Maranatha!”[2]

The anathema is the greatest proof of God’s love for those caught in heresy because it gives them a warning and awakens the conscience of heretics. According to Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov, the proclamation of the anathemas is absolutely necessary and acts as a cure of this disease of the mind. 

Following the tradition of the Holy Fathers and of the Ecumenical Councils, in our parish under Your omophorion, we also proclaim the anathemas against all heresies on every Sunday of Orthodoxy and among these are the following:

  • To Jacob the Armenian, Dioscorus of Alexandria and Severus, Sergius, Paul and Pyrrhus, with Sergius the disciple of Lycopetrus: Anathema!
  • To the fallen and the anti-canonical patriarchs denying the Fourth Ecumenical Council, Karekin II of Armenia, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria the Coptic Patriarch, Abune Mathias of Ethiopia, Ignatius Aphrem II of Antioch of the Syriac-Jacobites, Baselios Marthoma Mathews III of the Malankara Indians, who mistakenly call themselves “orthodox” and those who are in communion with them: Anathema!
  • To those who deny the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Holy Ecumenical Councils, monophysites, monothelites and monenergists: Anathema! [3]

Your Eminence, 

As we are in unity with You in the Church of Antioch, under Your omophorion, Your confession of faith has to be our confession of faith as well. So, we as a parish would like to humbly ask You, do You also accept these anathemas and together with us, do You proclaim them? 

Also, the decisions from the 1991 synodal statement of the Church of Antioch on the relations with the ‘Syriac Orthodox Church’ in the time of Patriarch Ignatius IV (12 Nov 1991) have scandalised many of the Orthodox faithful. Among these decisions are the following:

  • We affirm the total and mutual respect of the spirituality, heritage and Holy Fathers of both Churches. The integrity of both the Byzantine and Syriac liturgies is to be preserved.
  • The heritage of the Fathers in both Churches and their traditions as a whole should be integrated into Christian education curricula and theological studies. Exchanges of professors and students are to be enhanced.
  • Both Churches shall refrain from accepting any faithful from one Church into the membership of the other, irrespective of all motivations or reasons.
  • If bishops of the two Churches participate at a holy baptism or funeral service, the one belonging to the Church of the baptised or deceased will preside. In case of a holy matrimony service, the bishop of the bridegroom’s Church will preside.
  • The above mentioned is not applicable to the concelebration in the Divine Liturgy.
  • What applies to bishops equally applies to the priests of both Churches.
  • In localities where there is only one priest, from either Church, he will celebrate services for the faithful of both Churches, including the Divine Liturgy, pastoral duties, and holy matrimony. He will keep an independent record for each Church and transmit that of the sister Church to its authorities.
  • If two priests of the two Churches happen to be in a locality where there is only one Church, they take turns in making use of its facilities.
  • If a bishop from one Church and a priest from the sister Church happen to concelebrate a service, the first will preside even when it is the priest’s parish.
  • Ordinations into the holy orders are performed by the authorities of each Church for its own members. It would be advisable to invite the faithful of the sister Church to attend.
  • Godfathers, godmothers (in baptism) and witnesses in holy matrimony can be chosen from the members of the sister Church. [4]

These decisions are in contradiction with the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Ecumenical Councils and allow inter-communion and concelebration with the ‘Syriac Orthodox’ who still continue to follow the heresy of Severus and Dioscorus, and reject the Council of Chalcedon. 

Does Your Eminence condemn and anathematise with us these synodal decisions in accordance with the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Ecumenical Councils? 
We would like to humbly mention that this 1991 synodal agreement has also been condemned by the Holy Synod of the Church of Georgia in 1998. [5]

Your Eminence,

The written answer to this open letter will be a very important confession of Faith from Your Eminence, especially in these times of ecumenism and apostasy, and will be published in all the main international Orthodox media to the joy of the ecumenical Orthodox Church.

We would also like to inform Your Eminence that we have also written an open letter to His Beatitude Patriarch John X and the Holy Synod, which we have enclosed with this letter. 

Our brother in Christ, Father Patrick (Ramsey), also wrote a supplementary letter to the open letter to His Beatitude Patriarch John X and the Holy Synod.

We eagerly await Your response to this open letter.

Kissing Your right hand and asking for Your prayers,

With all my love in Christ,

Protopresbyter Matthew (Ion-Valentin) Vulcanescu

Parish of Saint Edward the Martyr and Saint Paraskevi of Rome

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland

The letter continues with the signatures of the parish members, with endnotes and with bibliography.

Endnotes

[1]  Romanides, Religion is a neurobiological disease and Orthodoxy is its cure (in Greek), ch.2.4.

[2]  1 Corinthians 16:22.

[3]  Vulcanescu, The Sunday of Orthodoxy 2023.

[4]  Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, Statement of the Orthodox Church of Antioch on the Relations between the Eastern and Syrian ‘Orthodox’ Churches.

[5] Heers, The 1998 Synodical Decision of the Orthodox Church of Georgia on the Chambesy and Balamand Agreements

Bibliography

  1. Brianchaninov, Ignatius, Saint. Predică la Duminica Ortodoxiei [Homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy] (in Romanian). accessed 25 Nov. 2023. <http://www.credo.ro/predica-Duminica-Ortodoxiei-Sfantul-Ignatie-Brianceaninov.php>.
  2. Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. Statement of the Orthodox Church of Antioch on the Relations between the Eastern and Syrian ‘Orthodox’ Churches, 12 Nov 1991. accessed 28 Oct. 2023. <https://orthodoxjointcommission.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/statement-of-the-orthodox-church-of-antioch-on-the-relations-between-the-eastern-and-syrian-orthodox-churches/>.
  3. Heers, Peter, Protopresbyter. The 1998 Synodical Decision of the Orthodox Church of Georgia on the Chambesy and Balamand Agreements. 24 Nov. 2016, accessed 26 Oct. 2023. <https://www.orthodoxethos.com/post/the-1998-synodical-decision-of-the-orthodox-church-of-georgia-on-the-chambessy-and-balamand-agreemen>.
  4. Romanides, John, Protopresbyter. Ἡ θρησκεία εἶναι νευροβιολογική ἀσθένεια˙ ἡ δέ Ὀρθοδοξία ἡ θεραπεία της [Religion is a neurobiological disease and Orthodoxy is its cure] (in Greek), 1966. accessed 24 Nov. 2023. <https://www.greekorthodoxchurch.org/cure_gr.html>.
  5. Vulcanescu, Matthew, Protopresbyter. The Sunday of Orthodoxy 2023, 5 Mar. 2023. accessed 25 Oct. 2023. <https://orthodoxchurchliverpool.co.uk/2023/03/05/the-sunday-of-ortodoxy-2023/>.
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Biserica Ortodoxă este universală - Blog personal al Părintelui Matei Vulcanescu