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

28 December 2023

Your Eminence,

With reference to the letter of Your Eminence,[1] dated 23 December 2023, my humbleness would like to respond that all that we have written in our letter of cessation of commemoration,[2] dated 20 December 2023, was done in accordance and obedience to the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church as cited in our letter.

Apostolic Canon 47 states that: “If a bishop or presbyter baptises anew one having had a baptism according to truth or if not baptising one polluted [baptised] by the impious [heretics], let him be deposed as mocking the Cross and the Lord’s death and not discerning presbyters from pseudo-presbyters.“[3] Also Canon 1 of the Third Council of Carthage held during the time of Saint Cyprian (258), states that: “we declare that no one can be baptised outside of the [Orthodox] Church, there being but one baptism, and this being existent only in the [Orthodox] Church.”[4] According to Apostolic Canon 47 and Canon 1 of Saint Basil [5], it is indeed forbidden to baptise twice but this only applies to those baptised by Orthodox priests, that is within the Orthodox Church.

In the letter of Your Eminence to the clergy of our Archdiocese [6], dated 16 December 2023, which stated that: “Those who enter the Holy Orthodox Church from heretical or schismatic communions, who are nevertheless baptized in water and in the name of the Holy Trinity, are generally received by Chrismation, since it is forbidden to baptize twice”, the clause “since it is forbidden to baptize twice“, in the context of receiving converts from heresy, is in direct contradiction to the teaching of Saint Cyprian as affirmed by the Fifth-Sixth Ecumenical Council [7]. There is no regenerating baptism outside the Church and so there is no repetition of renewing to baptise them on coming into the Church. To state that one is received by Chrismation only “since it is forbidden to baptise twice” is to declare that there is regeneration in baptism among the heretics and so there is a priesthood and the Church among the heretics, which Saint Cyprian explicitly denies. Therefore, on the matter of whether there is baptism outside the Church, it has already been clearly established by the Holy Canons and the Holy Fathers that there is only one Baptism and this only exists in the Orthodox Church. Based on Canon 1 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council [8], no one can add, remove or corrupt the Holy Canons without preaching another Gospel, and those who do so come under the anathema of this canon.

Therefore, Apostolic Canon 55 [9], as invoked in Your letter [10], dated 23 December 2023, cannot apply to my humbleness because there is no insult to Your Eminence but we have only brought what is stated in the Holy Canons to Your attention. We have also not received any response from You to our open letter [11], (dated 12 December 2023) on the matter of proclaiming the anathemas against the current Anti-Chalcedonian heresiarchs[12] and 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) [13] which are in contradiction to the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Ecumenical Synods and allow inter-communion and concelebration with the ‘Syriac Orthodox’ who still continue to follow the heresy of Severus and Dioscorus, and they reject the 4th Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon.

The unanimous decision made by our parish of Saint Edward the Martyr and Saint Paraskevi of Rome in Liverpool together with my humbleness as the shepherd of the parish, to cease the commemoration of Your Eminence at all the holy services of the Church, is based exclusively on dogmatic reasons, as Your Eminence has publicly preached heresy contrary to the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church.

Therefore, according to Canon 15 of the 1st-2nd Council of Constantinople (861)[14], those who separate themselves from their bishop before a synodal decision due to the bishop publicly preaching heresy or implicitly supporting heresy as taught by his synod, are not under condemnation, but should instead be counted worthy and honoured as the Orthodox

Canon 3 of the Third Ecumenical Council [15] precisely decrees that any ecclesiastical punishment or any ecclesiastical action taken by heretics, who have already been condemned by the Holy Synods or yet to be synodally condemned, against those who remain Orthodox, is null and void. In other words, no Orthodox should accept any ecclesiastical punishment from a bishop who has evidently shown that he publicly preaches heresy.

Your Eminence,

My humbleness and the parish of Saint Edward the Martyr and Saint Paraskevi of Rome in Liverpool do not recognise and do not accept the deposition stated in the letter of Your Eminence dated 23 December 2023, nor any other ecclesiastical punishment. My humbleness continues to serve the Holy and Divine Liturgy and perform all of my priestly ministry in the Antiochian Orthodox Church, according to Canon 3 of the Third Ecumenical Council.[16]

Remaining faithful to the Orthodox Church of Antioch,

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] Metropolitan of the Orthodox Christian British Isles and Ireland, Letter to the Archdiocese.

[2] Vulcanescu, Letter of Cessation of Commemoration of Metropolitan Silouan of the British Isles and Ireland.

[3] Canon 47 of the Apostolic Canons: Agapios and Nicodemus, The Rudder, pp. 89-75.

[4] Canon 1 of the Third Council of Carthage during the time of Saint Cyprian: Agapios and Nicodemus, The Rudder, pp. 485-488 op. cit.

[5] Canon 1 of Saint Basil: Orthodox Ethos, On the Reception of the Heterodox into the Orthodox Church, pp.83-90. Canon 1 of the Third Council of Carthage and the Canons of Saint Basil have been ratified by Canon 2 of the Council of Trullo and elevated to ecumenical authority: Ramsey, The Church: Deifying Relations, footnote 295, p. 73.

[6] Metropolitan of the Orthodox Christian British Isles and Ireland, Letter to Clergy December 2023

[7] Canon of the Third Council of Carthage: Orthodox Ethos, On the Reception of the Heterodox into the Orthodox Church, pp. 80-81; Agapios and Nicodemus, The Rudder, pp. 485-488. op. cit.

[8] Canon 1 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council: Agapios and Nicodemus, The Rudder, pp. 428-429. op. cit.

[9] Canon 55 of the Apostolic Canons: If any Clergyman should insult the Bishop, let him be deposed from office. For “thou shalt not speak ill of thy people’s rule.”, Agapios and Nicodemus, The Rudder, pp. 98-99. op. cit.

[10] Metropolitan of the Orthodox Christian British Isles and Ireland, Letter to the Archdiocese. op. cit.

[11] Vulcanescu, Open Letter to Metropolitan Silouan of the British Isles and Ireland.

[12] “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!”, Vulcanescu, The Sunday of Orthodoxy 2023.

[13] 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.

[14] Canon 15 of the 1st-2nd Council of Constantinople: “[…] for those persons, on the other hand, who, on account of some heresy condemned by holy Councils, or Fathers, withdrawing themselves from communion with their president, who, that is to say, is preaching the heresy publicly, and teaching it barehead in church, such persons not only are not subject to any canonical penalty on account of their having walled themselves off from any and all communion with the one called a Bishop before any conciliar or synodal verdict has been rendered, but, on the contrary, they shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honour which befits them among Orthodox Christians. For they have defied, not Bishops, but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers; and they have not sundered the union of the Church with any schism, but, on the contrary, have been sedulous to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions.”, Agapios and Nicodemus, The Rudder, p. 471. op. cit.

[15] Canon 3 of the Third Ecumenical Council: “And if any of the clerics in any city or village were stopped from the priesthood by Nestorius and those with him because they thought rightly, we have entitled them to be restored to their own rank. And in general, we decree that those clerics who think alike with the Orthodox and the Ecumenical Synod are not to obey in any way whatever the bishops who have apostatised, or those who remove themselves (ἀποστατήσασιν ἤ ἀφισταμένοις Ἐπισκοποις), or think differently from the Synod.”; see also: Canon 3 of the Third Ecumenical Council: Agapios and Nicodemus, The Rudder, p. 228. op. cit.

[16] ibidem

Bibliography

  1. Agapios, Hieromonk & Nicodemus, Monk. The Rudder (Pedalion) of the Metaphorical Ship of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Orthodox Christians. The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 2005.
  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. Metropolitan of the Orthodox Christian British Isles and Ireland, Silouan. Letter to Clergy December 2023. 16 Dec. 2023.
  4. Metropolitan of the Orthodox Christian British Isles and Ireland, Silouan. Letter to the Archdiocese. 23 Dec. 2023.
  5. Orthodox Ethos Publication. On the Reception of the Heterodox into the Orthodox Church: The Patristic Consensus and Criteria. Uncut Mountain Press, 2023.
  6. Ramsey, John Patrick, Hieromonk. The Church: Deifying Relations. CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2018.
  7. 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/>.
  8. Vulcanescu, Matthew, Protopresbyter. Open Letter to Metropolitan Silouan of the British Isles and Ireland, 12 Dec. 2023.
  9. Vulcanescu, Matthew, Protopresbyter. Letter of Cessation of Commemoration of Metropolitan Silouan of the British Isles and Ireland, 20 Dec. 2023.