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Reply to Bishop Auxentios'
Review of The Struggle

As authors and publishers of The Struggle Against Ecumenism, we ought not respond to any review, good or bad, of our book; it is forthe reader to determine whether a review has hit the mark in its judgment.A recent review of The Struggle by Bishop Auxentios of Photiki,however, which appeared in Orthodox Tradition (Volume XV, #4 1998),requires a response, since it deals more with the motives, morals, andmethods of the publishers rather than being a measured and scholarly responseto the historical and canonical subjects and documentation presented. Wefelt that these questions should be answered in order to demonstrate oursincerity, but also to dispel some mistaken information expressed by BishopAuxentios which he presents as being commonly believed. As for The Struggle,we will leave it to each reader to determine whether it is full of "viciousslander," "rumor," "unscholarly chicanery," "ugly innuendo," "unsophisticatedtrash," "name-calling," "racial slurs," "unfair and misleading questions,"and "open fabrications," in the words of Bishop Auxentios.

In The Struggle, we published in English for the first time many documents pertaining to the Old Calendarists, e.g., theEncyclicals of 1935. Twice, Bishop Auxentios refutes this statement, sayingthat they have published the same documents "here at the Center for TraditionalistOrthodox Studies and at our Mother Monastery in Fili, Greece". We certainlywould have been grateful to have been relieved of the labor of translation.Yet we have not seen these published documents, referred to by Bishop Auxentios,not in English certainly. They do not appear in the third edition (1991)of The Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece, published by theCenter at St. Gregory Palamas Monastery in Etna, California. It would seemnatural that such documents should appear in a history of the movement,if they were available, since they are important landmarks. Rather thanasking the reader to make "a leap of faith" -- as does Bishop Auxentios'co-author, Bishop Chrysostomos, on page two of the Introduction -- presentingthe pertinent documents would have been more serious scholarship.

In their published history, in the third edition at least, they do not discuss the Encyclical of 1935 and its points of agreementor disagreement with Archbishop Chrysostomos' private letter of 1937, andthe Encyclical of 1950. Their contention that the Encyclical of 1950 wassigned by Archbishop Chrysostomos under duress is nowhere supported byany evidence. The "simple psychological analysis of language and events[which] renders such a conclusion inevitable" [pg. 42, III ed.] is neverdemonstrated.

All in all, documentation has apparently not been a priority with Bishop Chrysostomos. In his letter to Christopher Liles on the Internet (Orthodox@IUBVM.UCS.Indiana.edu) on April 9, 1997, he states, "Since Ihave little penchant for lying or making up references, I will leave mystatements from Metropolitan Chrysostomos' personal correspondence andmemoirs, as well as the reminicenses of my grandfather, who knew well theOld Calendar movement, in place. I see no reason to respond carefully tothe suggestion that my interpretations, since they are based on materialsnot available to Mr. X, will have to suffice for the moment." Oral historyis certainly valid, but unless confirmed by creditable witnesses or supportedby evidence, it can only be anecdotal. A true service would be done toserious and genuine historical research if Bishop Chrysostomos would reversehis position and permit this material, as well as the other material mentionedabove by Bishop Auxentios, to be taken from their monastery files and bepublished.

The documentation presented or referred to in The Struggle is full of references to the secrecy of the ordinations performed by Metropolitans Kallistos and Anthony in 1979. Their first proclamation in Guardiansof Orthodoxy, (Vol. 1, 1979, pp. 1-2 [in Greek]) attempts to justifythe secrecy and uncanonicity of the ordinations because only as bishopswould they be able to cleanse the church of turpitude. The clandestinesecrecy of the ordinations was never in doubt, but some claimed the tacitapproval of Archbishop Auxentios for these ordinations (The Old CalendarOrthodox Church of Greece, pp. 20, 44). The immediate response of depositionby Archbishop Auxentios confirmed his explicit denial that he had had anyknowledge of the ordinations. However, the witness to Archbishop Auxentius'lack of complicity by Metropolitan Kallinikos (The Struggle, p.103, n. 6) is important evidence since he was one of those who was secretlyordained. We do not carry a brief on Metropolitan Kallinikos, but it iscertainly excessive to call him a "renegade," as if his were the only testimonyto the secrecy of the ordinations and the ignorance of the Archbishop.It is first-hand, personal historical evidence, which gains reliabilitybecause Metropolitan Kallinikos is not shown to his advantage and it agreeswith all the public evidence. Furthermore, the other bishops who were receivedback into the Synod of Archbishop Auxentius had to admit their guilt andoffer repentance as the condition of their acceptance.

For some reason, the fact that various hierarchs werenamed with their family names put after in parentheses was perceived byBishop Auxentios as belittling on our part. In works of history, especially,this is common practice to insure accuracy, or in any writing to avoidconfusion. In his review when he referred to "Bishop Gregory (Grabbe),"Bishop Auxentios himself did the same. That this practice is not derogatory,the patron saint of his monastery should be uncontrovertible evidence.St. Gregory is almost always referred to with his surname: Palamas.

This matter of surnames has produced some unexpected ire which could easily be avoided. Most people have one surname, used socially and for legal purposes. Some aristocratic families conjoin two lines, with a dash or the word "and" to form a surname. The Windsors, until the First World War, when it was changed, rejoiced in the surname of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In any case, Bishop Chrysostomos as a layman signed the surname Gonzalezin his correspondence; and his frequently mentioned academic credentialswere obtained and are filed under that name. If in the meantime he haslegally changed his surname, a simple announcement by him would obviateany confusion and distress.

Returning to Bishop Gregory (Grabbe) and his memorandum to the Synod on the ecclesiology of Metropolitan Cyprian, Bishop Auxentios calls it "an attack against Metropolitan Cyprian," implying a personalanimosity on the part of Bishop Gregory. Bishop Gregory, however, had nopersonal differences or grievances with Metropolitan Cyprian. Furthermore,to state that Bishop Gregory wrote the memorandum since he was personallyaffronted and disgruntled because he had been retired is unwarranted. Ifit were so, there are many other issues which would have satisfied anypersonal vindictiveness on his part. Bishop Gregory in many letters, especiallyin his lengthy and eloquent letter of March 24/April 6, 1994 to MetropolitanVitaly, expressed himself as not being offended or grieved by his retirement;his only fear was the future of the ROCA and proper maintenance of Synodheadquarters. In a letter to S.Y. Krasovitsky of October 31, 1987, he succinctlywrites: "But it's all the same to me; no doubt I would have been obligedto retire soon anyway because of age and ill health. After 85, one's capacityfor work is not what it used to be. In any case, nothing happens withoutthe will of God, either directing it, or permitting it. . ." Bishop Gregory'smemorandum was not a personal attack on Metropolitan Cyprian nor motivatedby animosity and thwarted ambition. The issues raised in it are theologicaland canonical, for his concern was ecclesiological principles and canonicalorder in the church body he had served so long as secretary, theologian,and canonist. To impute unworthy motives with no supporting evidence butfounded only upon conjecture in order to refute the issues raised withoutanswering them is inappropriate for a serious review and resembles "artlessmisrepresentation of facts and motivations" and that "unscholarly chicanery"with which Bishop Auxentios charges us.

Bishop Auxentios castigates us sufficiently for the fault of "anecdotal history," but his second question-challenge is plainly anexample of such and of hearsay.

2) When I was first Ordained, then serving under Archbishop Auxentios (that is, prior to the division in the Holy Synod in 1979, myhaving followed the Bishops under Metropolitan Kallistos subsequently),my brother, an Episcopalian clergyman, was told by leaders in the HOCNA,then in the ROCA, that I was uncanonical. What happened? When did ArchbishopAuxentios regain his canonicity? Such a question which someone heard from an unnamed party who supposedly said this or that is not a serious investigation of issues, nor fit for a review of a book which deals with these matters. For example, his fifth question: 5) And finally, if we schismatics are so far from the truth, why is it that we, and not the leaders of the HOCNA, are in communion with the Church from which Archbishop Auxentios of Athens derived his Episcopal orders, while the HOCNA is not? Is it merely a matter of the ecumenismof us "Cyprianites" and the ROCA, or are there are other issues, beyondthe name-calling, racial slurs, history by anecdote, and ecclesiasticalposturing, that need to be addressed and resolved? Pages 130 to 160 of The Struggle deal specifically with this very issue. The numerous appendices also discuss specific points related to it, especially C, D, and E. Therefore, in reply to Bishop Auxentios' curiously incriminating question ("Is it merely a matter of the ecumenism of us ‘Cyprianites' and the ROCA?"), the answer, as The Struggle so plainly demonstrates, is "yes."

Bishop Auxentios accuses us furthermore of not mentioning very recent events and conditions in Greece. The sub-title of The Struggle gives him the answer quite simply: The History of the True OrthodoxChurch of Greece from 1924 to 1994. We did not attempt or claim towrite any history outside that time. We chose Archbishop Auxentios' reposeas a natural watershed of history. A subsequent book, God willing, willchronicle later events, which are yet unstable and in constant flux, withfactions forming and dissolving in a matter of weeks. However, in answerto Bishop Auxentios' question:

3) Since the "true" True Orthodox Church of Greece,in the present claims of the HOCNA leaders, continued in authentic andcanonical form only under Archbishop Auxentios, why is the HOCNA now anindependent Church (see my comments above on the unfounded accusation thatMetropolitan Cyprian formed his own jurisdiction) and separated from thosein Greece who claim to continue the line of succession of Archbishop Auxentios?Indeed, it speaks for itself that the HOCNA now has not a single Bishopin Greece. We see no mention of this. we can state that even this year, since we are one Church, our clergy has gone to Greece and has served many times in the parishesand monasteries which follow the succession of Archbishop Auxentios, including the convent founded by the Archbishop, wherein he resided before he wentto his eternal rest and is buried.

We hardly can be held responsible for not recording events outside the stated limits of our history. Certainly, we also do not haveto answer accusations which ignore what was printed in The Struggle.One might not agree with the solutions offered or with the events as presented, but vague accusations do not constitute a rebuttal. Disagreement does not permit ignoring what has been printed without mention or reference to them, and then opening the discussion de novo.

More careful reading would also not have permitted Bishop Auxentios' first question:

1) Why is not a word devoted in answer to the accusation, by the Bishops of the ROCA, that the leaders of the HOCNA left the jurisdiction of the Church Abroad, not out of concern for a long-standing diversityin ecclesiological views in that Church, but only after several leadersin the group that now constitutes the HOCNA were investigated and formallycharged with moral infractions of a shocking and incredible kind? Sincethe book is so quick to question the integrity and motivations of the leadersof other Old Calendarist factions, why are they so negligent in addressingthese charges against their own leadership?

Certainly we all hope that these allegations are untrue and without merit. Were they a matter of gossip or of personal impropriety, furthermore, they would have no significance. No one should dignify suchthings with a response, nor should they be a matter of public discussion.But they were official allegations which became public when the presentleaders of HOCNA, on the heels of these still-outstanding charges, leftthe ROCA and charged it with a fall to ecumenism and deviations in theFaith. There were clearly identified matters of the most shocking moralturpitude ("sexual perversion") in an official statement by the DeputySecretary of the ROCA and have appeared widely in the Church press.

Actually, more than "a word" is given on page 141 in The Struggle, in explanation of these events (even though this is hardlythe subject of The Struggle).

Bishop Auxentios refers to an investigation. What investigation? The "accused" were never informed in writing of any accusations or of who the accusers were. In every single case, witnesses, unacceptable in theeyes of the holy canons, were permitted to make accusations, without theircharacters first being examined. The so-called "investigating bishops"-- as witnesses can testify -- waged a campaign of slander against theaccused, sending defamatory letters to others, but not having the courageor even the civility to send them to the accused themselves. By this actalone, the investigating bishops themselves should have been placed underinvestigation. Despite the fact that the alleged accusers had perjuredthemselves, as their own letters (still in the monastery's possession)testify, this too was dismissed. Any reasonable person would conclude thatwitnesses who write letters in praise of the "accused" (even after they'veleft the monastery), who rob the monastery of thousands of dollars of materials,or who boast to other members of the community that they lie during holyconfession, can hardly be considered trustworthy witnesses. If one tellsfalsehoods during holy confession, then there is nothing to prevent himfrom telling falsehoods elsewhere to justify his own fall.

Furthermore, repeated requests for a canonical trial were ignored, as was the same request which was expressed in a letter of September 16/29, 1986, written by clergy of the New England deanery. In addition,despite many written requests for materials pertaining to this investigation-- as the monastery letters of August 28/September 10, August 30/September12, and September 27/October 10 of 1986 testify -- the accused receivedno response to these valid petitions.

In fact, except for the Ukase of September 4/17, 1986(which mentioned no accusations), the "accused" received no written communication from the ROCOR hierarchy while still with the Russian Church Abroad.

Finally, the bishops -- that is, the leaders -- of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America, have never been accused of immorality -- at least, not in writing or to their knowledge. As a matter of fact,they were all simply monks when the departure from the ROCA took placeand they were ordained priests and bishops by the Synod of Archbishop Auxentius.

In contrast, Archbishop Auxentius, upon the request of the accused immediately carried out a proper and canonical investigation, with canonical witnesses and written statements which cleared the "accused" of all the defamatory rumors and slanders that were circulating.

One other piece of information is noteworthy. There were thirty-five clergy that left the ROCA in 1986. Twenty-five of them weremarried, two of them were diocesan deans. Many of them had left their well-payingpositions in innovating jurisdictions for matters of faith and were wellknown and admired (or intensely disliked) for their uncompromising integrity.As Fr. Basil wrote in July, 1990, to Bishop Kallinikos of Kalymnos andthe Dodecanese (Kiousis Synod) when he inquired why Holy TransfigurationMonastery and the other clergy had joined themselves to Archbishop Auxentiusand not Archbishop Chrysostom (Kiousis):

For the record, it should be noted that not one of our clergy was defrocked for moral transgressions. There was no trialto examine the accusations regarding matters of morality and no court wasformed -- neither before, nor after our departure from the Russian ChurchAbroad. Not only was there no trial, there was not even an investigation.In a manner both arbitrary and completely uncanonical, it announced its"decision" of defrockment (after the passage of nine months), when we alreadybelonged to the True Orthodox Christians of Greece -- and this was notfor reasons of morality, but rather because we "created a schism." Andthis decree was directed not only against the monastery, but against thirty-fiveor more of our clergy, who, together with their parishes, broke off communionwith the Russian Church Abroad over matters of faith. Finally, in 1987, two more clergymen and their parishes in the United States, as well as several clergymen and their flocks in France, left the ROCA for the same stated reasons the thirty-five clergymen hadleft the year before. The French clergy did not immediately join ArchbishopAuxentius, but later, when they had ascertained the circumstances in Greecemore thoroughly, they did. One clergyman and his flock in the United Statesdecided against joining Archbishop Auxentius when all the other clergydid. They remained with Bishop Akakios of Diavlia until they separatedfrom him. They did not return to the ROCA, though they were privately approachedand invited to. They replied, in writing, to this invitation and explainedwhy, for reasons of matters of faith, this was not a plausible course ofaction. To imply, as the ROCA tried to do, that such a massive exodus ofclergy and faithful in North America and abroad, was for the motive ofdefending a few monastics' personal misconduct, real or imagined, is tostretch any objective observer's credulity beyond rationality.

In the final analysis, a jurisdiction that has placeditself under its own anathema (as Bishop Gregory Grabbe wrote of the ROCA)is certainly in no position to defrock anyone.

The Apostles themselves, along with the early Christians, suffered slander of the vilest sort (definitely a "bad press"). Since the malice of the devil is incited by any who oppose his kingdom, the clergyand the monasteries are singled out for his special attention. Christiansmust be vigilant for the devil's traps presenting occasions for the sinof slander in order to destroy the Christian concord of love and trust.Every Christian should be forewarned and prepared to recognize his tactics.Archimandrite Akakios of St. Gregory Palamas Monastery wrote an articletitled "A Long-Overdue Comment on the Abbotcy of Bishop Chrysostomos,"published in Orthodox Tradition (vol XII, no. 4, 1995) to defendhis monastery from rumors and slanders. Some cogent words on page 51 ofhis article bear repeating:

". . . the monks formed under him . . . point out that he should be judged by the good monks who have remained in our monastery, not the bad candidates who have left . . . so many vile lies and slanders taint the witness of good Christian clergymen and of the Church itself.The animosity of postulants dismissed from monasteries or of monks whoabandoned their sacred calling is irrational and demonic, fed as it oftenis by a fierce need for self-justification joined to the world of personalvendettas and the violation of Christian love that factionalism engenders.This animosity grows into a monstrous cancer. . . . all of us can protectourselves from their malignancy by a constant vigilance against judgmentalismand believing stories that are unlikely, irrational, and obviously meantto harm and hurt the innocent." Finally, the following words, also by Archimandrite Akakios, which appeared in Orthodox Tradition (vol. XIII, nos. 3 and 4, 1996) on page 50, are especially apt: "Rather, the reputations of many good monasteries have been damaged by the understandable hostility of those who have been asked to leave them [Ed. or who asked to return and were refused] and who, inorder to justify their failure, make every sort of unsavory and outrageousaccusation against their former spiritual guides." Concerning the slanders, anyone of good will had only toask us at that time (and to this day), and now a file of the major andpertinent documents concerning this issue can be found on the Monastery'sweb page: http://www.cybercom.net/~htm. Included there also is the canonicalinvestigation made under Archbishop Auxentius, which answered the allegationsand cleared the accused.

In The Struggle, we have presented an Orthodoxecclesiology based upon the Canons of the Church, and precedents in ChurchHistory, and statements of the Holy Fathers, portraying the breadth ofstrictness and economy in which the Church is piloted by the Holy Spirit.Bishop Auxentios, and, in general, the whole jurisdiction of MetropolitanCyprian, do not answer or refute the ecclesiology set forth in The Struggle(this is examined in detail on pp. 115-120 and Appendix J of The Struggle).Perhaps this arises from the fact that they are sincere enough believersto respect the authority of the canons and precedents cited, yet they disregardor even misconstrue them because they are overly attached to their ownunique ecclesiology, which stretches economy to limits prohibited by theLord, when they use unjustifiable and unconvincing attempts to resolvecontraries and uncompromisable matters of the Faith. If Ecumenism is aheresy -- and it is demonstrably so -- then "what fellowship hath righteousnesswith unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? andwhat concord hath Christ with Belial?" (II Cor. 6:14-15).