Recently, Dr. George Demacopoulos wrote an article on Public Orthodoxy entitled Innovation in The Guise of Tradition: Anti-Ecumenist Efforts to Derail the Great and Holy Council. The article is answering recent attempts at derailing the upcoming council and the recent neo-Orthodox denial of Trinitarian Baptism not performed within the Orthodox Church. Gabriel Sanchez at Opus Publicum posted a nice commentary on Dr. Demacopoulos’ article. I left a lengthy comment on his post since I was once an Anti-ecumenist Orthodox Christian. I decided to post the comment. I suggest reading the original article and then the post on Opus Publicum. In short, Dr. Demacopoulos’ article can be summed up by this informative quote:
…the self-proclaimed “traditionalists” are demanding that the Great and Holy Council abandon the historical and canonical practice of the Orthodox Church in order to ward off an imaginary dilution of Orthodox purity. Their claims are couched in the language of Apostolic and Patristic tradition but, ironically, their position is dangerously innovative.
I enjoyed the piece written by Dr. Demacopoulos. I feel qualified to comment on the subject since I was at one time a neo-Orthodox convert. A mixture of bad catechesis, convert zeal, and an inward moral life devoid of the actual practice of virtues, lead me down a path that took me into the Greek Old Calendar movement. In my zeal, I was rebaptized even though I had been Orthodox for a few years.
The neo-Orthodox fear the ecumenical movement as the great pan-heresy. The work of the Joint Catholic-Orthodox Theological commission has produced edifying documents on our shared faith, but many have not taken the time to read or reflect on the papers produced by the dialogue. As one example, I would argue that the North American dialogue has resolved the Filioque issue.
I can remember being so enraged at the betray of Orthodoxy at Ravenna (to read the Ravenna document, click here). I’m sure at that time my religious views on Facebook would be listed as “Orthodoxy or death.” Of course, no one I knew actually had read the whole document but everyone was sure that the Orthodox ecumenists had capitulated to the Papists.
There are of course abuses in the ecumenical movement. The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a train wreck and I am glad that the Catholic Church has stayed out of it. In some of his statements to the protestant ecclesial communities, Pope Francis has made some confusing remarks. The ecumenism worth pursuing most is with the Orthodox Church, for She too is fully Apostolic, living the full sacramental life shared with the Catholic Church.
The neo-Orthodox, while small in number, hold great influence in the Orthodox Church. A recent video of Patriarch Kyril, posted on the blog ByzTex, is proof. The Patriarch denounces false union. He particularly mentions the union achieved at Florence. To sober-minded Orthodox, one can see that Florence was an effort to solve the division in the Church but for the neo-Orthodox, it was a betrayal of Orthodoxy.
The neo-Orthodox suffer from historical amnesia. One has to simply look at the recent video I mentioned or at recent affirmations of the pseudo-synod of L’viv. They conveniently forget the complex historical realities of Catholic/Orthodox relations since the schism and pick and choose facts to suit their agendas. Contrast that with the openness of the Catholic Church regarding the past. Mistakes were made by the Catholic Church, She willingly admits it, and moves to correct those errors. I pray that this continues to happen on the part of the Catholic Church as well as the Orthodox Church, to bring about unity in the Truth.
Through God’s grace, I was lead out of the Old Calendar movement. I was just burnt out. I returned to the New Calendar Church and eventually was received into the Catholic Communion a few years later. Actually reading what the Catholic Church taught on papal primacy, and the work of sober-minded ecumenists like Pope Benedict XVI and the encyclicals of St. John Paul II, lead me to consider Catholicism. I’ve been a member of the Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church for seven years now.
I pray that the sober-minded Orthodox like the Ecumenical Patriarch prevails at the Great and Holy Council.