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Brief Orthodox Replies to
the Innovations of the Papacy

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Our Orthodox Faith is our wealth, our glory,
our race, our crown, and our boast.[i]

[Joseph Bryennios (1350-c. 1437)]

Table of Contents:

1. “Filioque”
2. Water for Baptism
3. A Eucharist of Unleavened Wafers
4. Consecration of the Holy Gifts
5. Lay Participation in the Mystery of Communion
6. Purgatory
7. The Immaculate Conception
8. Papal Supremacy
9. Statues
10. Compulsory Clerical Celibacy
11. The Gregorian Calendar
12. Holy Unction


Concerning the union of the Eastern Churches with the Church of Rome, the Great Church of Constantinople, in August of 1895, made a reply to the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903).[ii] Pope Leo said that union could only be obtained by acknowledging him as supreme Pontiff and the highest spiritual and temporal ruler of the universal church, as the only representative of Christ upon the earth and the dispenser of all grace.[iii]

The Orthodox reply was published in the patriarchal periodical Truth. Signatories included Patriarch Anthimos VII of Constantinople (1895-1898), Bishops Nicodemos of Cyzicos, Philotheos of Nicomedia, Jerome of Nicæa, Nathanael of Prusa, Basil of Smyrna, Stephen of Philadelphia, Athanasios of Lemnos, Bessarion of Dyrrachium, Dorotheos of Belgrade, Nicodemos of Elasson, Sophronios of Carpathos and Cassos and Dionysios of Eleutheropolis.

The Orthodox assume as the basis of right Faith the doctrine of the New Testament as expressed by the holy Fathers and the holy Seven Ecumenical Councils, common to all the patriarchates, because all the patriarchates, including Rome, were Orthodox during the first ten centuries of Christianity. The eastern patriarchates point out the following serious and arbitrary innovations concerning faith and practice which the Papal Church has introduced. The Orthodox assert that the innovations are clearly opposed to the ecclesiastical condition of the first nine centuries, making the longed-for union of the Church of Rome with the eastern patriarchates impossible. The Orthodox hope that the Papal Church will reject these heretical innovations and return to the ancient condition of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ.

1. “Filioque”

The first innovation was the Filioque (“and the Son”) addition to the eighth article of the Creed, concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit. This is in direct contradiction to the words of our Saviour, “When the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, Which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me” [Jn. 15:26]. Also, the Second Ecumenical Council (Constantinople I, 381), which supplemented the Creed of the First Council (Nicæa I, 325), asserts that the Creed, adopted by the 318 Fathers who had convened in Nicæa, should remain solid and inviolable. The holy Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus, 431) issued Canon VII which decreed that it is not permissible for anyone to compose and write, or to offer to those converted from any other faith to Orthodoxy another Creed than the Symbol of Faith.

Pope Leo III, in 809, denounced the addition of the Filioque and forbade its use. He also had the Creed of the First and Second Ecumenical Councils, without the Filioque, engraved upon two silver plates, in Greek and in Latin. He then wrote: “These words I, Leo, have set down for the love and as a safeguard of the Orthodox Faith”(Haec Leo posui amore et cautela fidei orthodoxae).

2. Water for Baptism

The second innovation cited is the substitution of holy Baptism with affusion (epicusis), where water is poured (ekcew) over the candidate’s head; or, aspersion (rantismos), when water is sprinkled on the candidate’s forehead. The Greek verb for “I baptize” (Baptizw) means to immerse, submerge, or plunge. It is linked philologically with the word “dip” (Baptein), and never means pouring or sprinkling. Baptism (Baptizein) by immersion (katadusis) was the universal practice in the early Church.[iv] If we look no further than the meaning of the word “baptism,” we see at once that the Latins are unbaptized. Baptism–whether we call it rebirth, renewal, regeneration–concerns the whole person, not some single member or part of the person. If the spiritual effects of Baptism concern the whole person, then its outward application ought to involve the whole body.[v]

In concert with the Lord’s command [Mt. 28:19], we baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, three times in succession. Jesus enunciated the three hypostases separately and distinctly. Canon L of the Holy Apostles and Canon VII of the Second Œcumenical Synod define triple immersion. It is unclear why from the twelfth century onwards, the Latins have come by degrees to abandon the rite of immersion, although the practice persisted in some places at least until the end of the Middle Ages.

The practice by affusion was allowed in cases of dire necessity, such as if the candidate were in danger of death. In the Didache or “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles to the Nations”(100-160 A.D.),[vi] the oldest baptismal manual extant, triple emersion is assumed and pouring allowed only in an emergency, if there is an insufficient amount of water. Apart from an emergency, St. Basil the Great (c. 330-379) says, “There is great tribulation when someone dies without Baptism, or when something in the Mystery of Baptism, as it has been handed down to us, is omitted...Whether a man has departed this life without baptism, or has received a baptism lacking in some of the requirements of the tradition, his loss is equal...For the tradition that has been given us by the quickening grace must remain for ever inviolate. He who redeemed our life from destruction gave us power of renewal, whereof the cause is ineffable and hidden in mystery, but bringing great salvation to our souls, so that to add or to take away anything involves manifestly a falling away from the life everlasting...*In three immersions and an equal number of invocations (of the individual Persons of the Trinity) the great mystery of baptism is made complete*.” [vi]

Certain passages of the New Testament, such as “so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized unto His death....Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” [Rom. 6:3-5] and we are “buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead” [Col. 2:12]. These passages would indicate that the burial of Christ in the earth and emergence from it supply the pattern that must be adhered to. Hence, the act of sinking and rising out of the water more adequately symbolizes burial and resurrection with Christ. Christ Himself mentions this when speaking to James and John, the sons of Zebedee, when they asked to sit at either side of Jesus in His glory. Christ answered, “Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” When they answered that they could, Christ said, “Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized” [Mk. 10:38, 39].

3. A Eucharist of Unleavened Wafers

The Orthodox bishops, in their reply, also denounced the third innovation of the substitution of unleavened wafers for the leavened bread hitherto used in their sacrament of the Eucharist.

When the Lord instituted the Mystery of the Eucharist, He commanded us to do as He had done. The Orthodox follow that instruction; Rome, however, does not. The Roman Pontiff has altered the Lord’s institution and the traditions of the Holy Fathers, by instituting the use of azymes or unleavened bread (crackers), and not artos or leavened bread in the celebration of the Mystery of the Eucharist. The Apostles are all unanimous in their testimony that our Lord made a point of offering leavened bread, which they show by using the word Greek artos and not the Jewish crackers or unleavened bread, which the same Apostles always specify as azymos, or azymes in English. It is very clear that the Lord, the Apostles, and the Apostolic Church all used leavened bread, not Jewish crackers, in their Mysteries. The Evangelist Luke recounts: “And He took bread (artos) and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave to them, saying, “This is My body which is being given for you; be doing this in remembrance of Me...”[Lk. 22:19]. Likewise, St. Paul and the Apostolic churches use leavened bread: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not communion of the blood of the Christ? The bread (artos) which we break, is it not communion of the body of the Christ?... For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was delivered up took bread (artos); and having given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is being broken for you; be doing this in remembrance of Me.””[1 Cor. 10:16, 11:23-24] St. Matthew also has leavened bread, not unleavened azymes, in the Mysteries: “And as they ate, Jesus took the bread (artos), and blessed it, and broke it, and was giving it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body...”[Mt. 26:26] And the same with St. Mark: “And as they ate, Jesus took bread (artos), blessed it, and broke it, and gave to them, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body...”[Mk. 14:22]

There is no disagreement among the “eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word”[Lk. 1:2].

Rome incorrectly attempts to justify its innovation by referring to the preceding words of the Evangelists that:“And on the first day of the unleavened bread, when they used to slay the passover, His disciples said to Him, “Where dost Thou wish that we go and prepare, that Thou mightest eat the passover?”...and they prepared for the passover. And it having come to be late, He cometh with the twelve. And...they reclined at table and ate,...And as they ate, Jesus took bread, blessed it, and broke it, and gave to them, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”[Mk. 14:12-22] Despite the clear use of the word artos for the Eucharist over and over again in the New Testament, Rome insists that the preceding passage must mean that the prohibition of leavened bread was already in force, in the night in which Christ instituted the Mystery of the Eucharist. Thus, Christ must have used azymes, because artos was forbidden by the Law during the feast of azymes.

Anyone who reads the Law of Moses will see that, in fact, this is not so. “On the 14th day, nigh to its evening,...you shall kill the lamb,...and you shall eat it in that night (i.e., the beginning of the 15th day)...Beginning on the 14th day, from its evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, as far as the 21st day, as far as its evening. Seven days leaven shall not be found in your houses”[Ex. 12:6-15]. Moses establishes that each day begins with nightfall and ends after the following evening with nightfall again. Moses ordains that the Passover lamb be killed nigh to the evening of the 14th day and that it be eaten that night, that is, in the beginning of the 15th day. Moses likewise commands the eating of unleavened bread to begin in the evening of the 14th day, from which it is called the 1st day of the unleavened bread, even though it is only for a few hours. Consequently, the entire period between the preceding nightfall and the evening that followed is open to being called “the first day of the unleavened bread”by the Evangelist, without contradicting himself and the rest of the Apostles by having Christ use bread (artos), when only crackers (azymoi) were permitted to be eaten.

Saint Chrysostom in Homily 81 on St. Matthew, likewise, says that “he means the day before that feast; for they are accustomed always to reckon the day from the sunset, and he makes mention of this as the one in which the passover must be sacrificed in its evening.”Christ instituted the Eucharist in the night that began the 14th of Nisan, on which they sacrificed the Passover lamb, not in the following night when they ate it.

Rome, however, by its obstinate, scriptural illiteracy, makes the Evangelists contradict themselves, saying bread (artos), where they meant crackers (azymes), and it only becomes worse still, when the Evangelist John adds that on the morning after the Mystic Supper: “Then they lead Jesus from Caiaphas into the Prætorium; and it was early. And they themselves entered not into the Prætorium, in order that they should not be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover”[Jn. 18:28]. The Jews had not yet eaten the Passover at the time when Christ was being lead to his Passion, which was the morning after He instituted the Eucharist. Rome knows neither the Holy Scriptures nor the Holy Fathers, otherwise she would not have made this glaring error. It still becomes worse yet when we compare the instructions for the night of Passover with what the Lord and His Apostles did on the night of the Eucharist.

If it were the Passover night, they would have been obliged to eat azymes, standing, and in haste, with loins girded, shoes on, and staff in hand [Ex. 12:11]. On the contrary, they ate artos, reclining at table. Christ was not girded (a mode of binding ones clothes up high in preparation for work or travel), since He only afterward girt himself with a towel. The reclining Apostles’ feet were bared for washing, not in their shoes. Simon Peter carried not staff, but had empty hands to proffer for washing. Not one Evangelist describes what would mark a Passover meal. Nowhere in the Gospel accounts is there any reference to “unleavened bread” (azuma), but only to “bread” (artos). Moreover, the Passover meal was eaten dry, without sauce or gravy, simply roasted flesh. Yet, we read that the disciples dipped in the dish and that Christ offered a “sop” [Jn. 13:26]. No Evangelist mentions lamb or bitter herbs being eaten. There was no blood upon the lintels or the doorposts. Furthermore, the Mosaic Law strictly forbade any Hebrew to go out of doors on the night of Passover. However, both the Jews and Christ with His disciples moved about freely during that Thursday night. Even the action of Judas, when he “immediately went out into the night” [Jn. 13:30], was not considered unusual nor had it evoked surprise.[viii]

No, this was not a Passover meal. The Gospel of St. John clearly states that it was “before the feast of the Passover” [Jn. 13:1] when Jesus, after the Mystic Supper, washed the disciples feet [v. 5]. Christ, the new Passover, the Lamb of God [Jn. 1:29], was sacrificed the next day, Holy and Great Friday. The Holy Fathers taught that Christ was sacrificed on the Cross on the actual day and hour when the Passover of the Law was sacrificed. Christ is a priest after the order of Melchizedek [Ps. 109:4; Heb. 5:6, 10, 20], not Aaron [Heb. 7:6]. Azymes belong the Aaronic priesthood, while Melchizedek is said to have offered bread (artos), not azymes (azuma) [Gen. 14:18].[ix]

The disciples made preparations to celebrate the Passover [Mk. 14:12], but it does not follow that they actually ate it. Christ’s words, “with desire I have desired to eat this (ts ts) Passover with you before I suffer” [Lk. 22:15], refer not to the Passover of the Law, but to the New Passover, the eating of the new and true “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world”[Jn. 1:29] which He was about to institute, and of which the former had been only typical, a “shadow”[Col. 2:17; Heb. 10:1] and “copy of the archetype”of the coming one [Heb. 8:5;Ex. 25:40]. “For also Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us”[1 Cor. 5:7], as St. Paul says.Note, Christ did not simply say “the Passover,” but “this Passover”[vii], as distinguishing it from any other Passover, meaning the new Passover, the Body and Blood broken and poured out in the coming sacrifice of Himself for the life of the world, of which His disciples that night partook.

The holy Apostles did as they were taught by Jesus, the true [Jn. 6:32] and living Bread of life [vv. 35, 51]. They always performed the Mystery of the Eucharist with leavened bread. The Church of Christ, being instructed by the Apostles, observes this same rule unchanged. We read that the early Church “continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread (artos), and in prayers” [Acts 3:42]. The same act was also seen to be done by St. Paul [Acts 20:11]. The expression “breaking of bread” is a reference by synecdoche to the Mystery of the Eucharist, as St. Paul shows when he describes the Mystic Supper in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, stating: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was delivered up took bread; and having given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is being broken for you; be doing this in remembrance of Me”[1 Cor. 11:23-24]. The breaking of the bread refers to the breaking of the consecrated Body of Christ in the Divine Liturgy.

Apostolic Canon LXX forbids any clergymen, on threat of deposition, to celebrate with the Jews a feast with azymes. All the writers of the Divine Liturgy, the Apostle James (the brother of the Lord), St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom direct the Eucharist to be celebrated with bread, not unleavened wafers. From the time of Christ, until sometime during the Ponficate of Leo IX (1049-1054 A.D.) (who, incidently, was Jewish himself, according to his biographer; cf. “On Simonaics, and the Life of St. Leo IX”by Bishop Bruno of Segni [11th century A.D.], wherein he speaks of “Our Leo of the tribe of Juda, from which tribe this Leo traced his origin...”), the Western Church celebrated Mass with artos, leavened bread. It was at this time that the Latin Churches were commanded to change to azymes or the Jewish crackers. The compliance of the Latin Patriarchal church in Constantinople with this decree and also a letter on the Latin innovations from the Greeks of south Italy to Archbishop Theophylactos of Ochrida made the Patriarchate of Constantinople aware of this innovation. The Patriarch of Constantinople reacted by closing the Latin Patriarchate’s church and denying the validity of their Mass of azymes, which was one of the grievances, mentioned by the Latins in their excommunication of the Orthodox.

4. Consecration of the Holy Gifts

The fourth innovation deals with the consecration that takes place in their Mass. The Roman Catholics believe that the bread and wine are consecrated solely by the recitation of Christ’s words, “This is My Body....This is My Blood” [Mt. 26:26, 28; Mk. 14:22, 24]. In the Liturgy of the Eastern Church, the Orthodox have always had the invocation (Epiklhsis) for the transelementation (metastoiceioumena) of the bread and wine into the very Body and Blood of Christ. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, in concert with the ancient rituals of Rome and Gaul, hold that the precious Gifts are consecrated after the prayer of the invocation (Epiklhsis) of the Holy Spirit by the blessing of the priest, not by “Words of Institution.”

The Eastern Church states that we read in Scripture that the Lord Jesus first “took bread, and blessed it, and brake it” [Mt. 26:26; Mk. 14:22]; and then “He took the cup, and gave thanks” [Mt. 26:27; Mk. 14:23]. Christ consecrated the bread and wine by thanksgiving, blessing and invocation. When Christ broke the bread, it was already His Body. The consecration comes before the fraction. The prayer Christ uttered was consecratory, because for what other purpose could Christ have said, “Take, eat, this is My Body”? Christ was distributing to His disciples what He had already blessed and consecrated.[x] When Jesus distributed what He had already consecrated it still appeared like bread and wine. Hence, the Lord explained, “This is My Body...This is My Blood.” These words are not consecratory, but we call them sacramental (musthriwdh), because they make clear the meaning of the Mystery.[xi] Note that Christ does not say, “Let this be,” or “become,” or “be made My Body,” or “This becomes My Body.” Christ said, “This is,” since the elements had already become His Body. It is the same with the other Mysteries of the Orthodox Church: consecration is effected by supplication and invocation of the Holy Trinity to effect the change and the subsequent action of the Holy Spirit, not by merely reading scriptural narratives or repeating the words of Christ.[xii]

According to Latin theology, the Pope is the vicar or substitute of Christ, endowed with all Christ’s power (and therefore, often called “Christ on Earth”). The priest, as the vicar or substitute of the Pope, holds the same power, whereby the priest represents Christ and acts in His stead, consecrating the azymes by his own power. In the Byzantine Liturgy, the priest does not speak in the person of Christ, but prays to God to effect the change. The Orthodox, in humility, with earnest prayers and fervent supplications, beseech the heavenly Father to send down His All-Holy Spirit, that He may accomplish that divine change.[xiii]

5. Lay Participation in the Mystery of Communion

The fifth innovation is that of administering communion in only one kind, excluding the laity from partaking of the chalice. The chalice is allowed only to the clergy, contrary to the Lord’s command: “Drink all ye of It...” [Mt. 26:27]. Did not Christ also say, “Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My Flesh is food indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed”? [Jn. 6:53-55]. It is impossible to reconcile the Latin practice with our Saviour’s utterance.

In the early 1960’s, however, commencing with Pope John XXIII (1958-1963), and concluding with Pope Paul VI (1963-1978), Vatican II discussed the “restoration of rites,” wherein the Roman Catholic Church provided for its laity the Communion chalice. Thus, after receiving the consecrated wafer, the communicant could partake of the cup. The Roman Missal also provides for intinction, the act of steeping or dipping the wafer in the wine.

Another innovation of the Latins was their refusal to administer Holy Communion to infants. The very children whom Christ took in His arms and blessed, and concerning whom, He gave commandment that they should be suffered to come unto Him [Mt. 19:14; Mk. 10:14; Lk. 18:16], were denied. Though this rebuke corrected His disciples, it has proved of no avail against the papists, who are not willing to admit that, if the children can be baptized Christians, they can and ought to also be communed.

6. Purgatory

The sixth innovation of the papacy is the belief in purgatorial fire. According to Roman Catholic teaching, when one sins, one incurs two debts, a debt of punishment and a debt of guilt. Forgiveness by God of sins, only does away with the debt of guilt, not the debt of punishment, the recompense or satisfaction owed for the offense against God. Purgatory, then, is the place or state where those who have died in the grace of God render this satisfaction for those venial, or lesser, sins, which, although forgiven as to guilt, have not been payed off as to the debt of punishment with sufficient suffering or other means during one’s lifetime. They must undergo such punishment and be released from all debt, before being admitted to the beatific vision of God. The Orthodox reject the existence of Purgatory and the necessity of punishment for sins that are forgiven.

The Scholastic divine, Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-74), taught that the guilt (culpa) of venial sin is expiated immediately after death by an act of perfect charity on the part of God and that only the punishment remained to be borne. According to him, the smallest pain in Purgatory is greater than the greatest on earth, it being relieved, however, by the certitude of salvation which establishes the holy souls, despite their sufferings, in deep peace. Moreover, they may be helped by the suffrages of the faithful, and especially by the offering of Mass on their behalf, a doctrine based on the Communion of the Saints, from which only the inhabitants of Hades and of limbo are excluded.[xv]

Actually the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on Purgatory was defined at the Councils of Lyons (1274) and Florence (1439), with a view of reconciling the Greek Orthodox. The Greeks, with St. Mark of Ephesus at their head, objected especially to the conception of material fire and to the distinction between debts of guilt and punishment.

The Roman Catholic Church officially encourages the offering of Masses, indulgences, and public as well as private prayers and works of devotion on behalf of the souls in Purgatory. The Orthodox condemn the system of the Pope, or anyone else, granting indulgences. According to the Latin Code of Canon Law, an indulgence is defined as “the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sin after its guilt has been forgiven, when ecclesiastical authority grants from the treasury of the church, in behalf of the living after the manner of an absolution, and in behalf of the dead after the manner of an intercession.”[xvi]

The Orthodox also reject their belief that the treasury of the infinite merits of Jesus Christ and the superabundant merits of the Virgin Mary and the saints (comprising the Church Triumphant), may be drawn upon to lessen the debt of temporal punishment for the members of the church on earth (the Church Militant), and also upon those souls in Purgatory (the Church Suffering).

Orthodox bishops disapproved of the Papal Church for inventing and heaping upon the person of the Pope, as one singularly privileged, a multitude of innovations concerning purgatorial fire. This includes the superabundance of the virtues of the saints and the distribution of them to those who need them, etc. The Orthodox also disagree with the Church of Rome that the just receive a full reward before the universal resurrection and judgment. The Orthodox cited the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, where mention is made of Abraham’s bosom [Lk. 16:23], the place of bliss–and of Hades, the place of punishment. The parable makes no mention of an intermediate place for temporal punishments. Orthodox also base their negative answer to whether the departed righteous attain entire bliss on the words of St. Paul. Speaking of the ancients, he said, they, “having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” [Heb. 11:39, 40]. St. John Chrysostom, “the lips of St. Paul”who inspired his commentary, comments on this verse: “Do you also consider what a thing it is, and how great, that Abraham should be sitting, and the Apostle Paul, waiting till thou hast been perfected, that then they may be able to receive their reward. For the Savior has told them before that unless we also are present, He will not give it them. As an affectionate father might say to sons who were well approved, and had accomplished their work, that he would not give them to eat, unless their brethren came. And art thou vexed, that thou hast not yet received the reward?... Dost thou see that we have the advantage of them? For “God” (he says) “has provided some better thing for us.” In order that they might not seem to have the advantage of us from being crowned before us, He appointed one time of crowning for all; and he that gained the victory so many years before, receives his crown with thee. Seest thou His tender carefulness? And he did not say, “that they without us might not be crowned,” but “that they without us might not be made perfect”; so that at that time they appear perfect also. They were before us as regards the conflicts, but are not before us as regards the crowns. He wronged not them, but He honored us. For they also wait for the brethren. For if we are “all one body,” the pleasure becomes greater to this body, when it is crowned altogether, and not part by part. For the righteous are also worthy of admiration in this, that they rejoice in the welfare of their brethren, as in their own. So that for themselves also, this is according to their wish, to be crowned along with their own members. To be glorified all together, is a great delight”[xvii]

The Orthodox also object on another simple but sound and Patristic principle –St. Ambrose of Milan: “For how shall the soul be summoned to judgment without the body, when account has to be rendered of the companionship of itself and the body?...And this is the course and ground of justice, that since the action of body and soul is common to both (for what the soul has conceived the body has carried out), each should come into judgment, and each should be either given over to punishment or reserved for glory. For it would seem almost inconsistent that...the mind guilty of a fault shared by another should be subjected to penalty, and the flesh, the author of the evil, should enjoy rest: and that should suffer alone which had not sinned alone, or should alone attain to glory, not having fought alone with the help of grace.”[xviii]

Likewise, the preserver of the Patristic tradition, St. John of Damascus says: “Wherefore if it is the soul by itself that engages in the contests of virtue, it is also the soul by itself that will receive the crown. And if it were the soul by itself that revels in pleasures, it would also be the soul by itself that would be justly punished. But since the soul does not pursue either virtue or vice separate from the body, both together will obtain that which is their just due”[xix]

7. The Immaculate Conception

Another erroneous teaching, which is distinctly Latin, accords the privilege to the Virgin Mary of being conceived without original sin. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was defined by Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) on December 8, 1854, in the bull Ineffabilis Deus. The most important words of this definition are the following: “...by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine, which holds that the most blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is revealed by God and therefore to be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.”[xx]

The Orthodox Church maintains that the Virgin received her hypostasis from the seed of earthly Adam, having been born to Saints Joachim and Anna. Saint Epiphanios of Cyprus (c. 315-403) writes that Mary “was a woman, not to be distinguished in nature at all from others. She was conceived by marital union and the seed of man....”[xxi] Moreover, “Mary is not God, and did not receive a body from heaven, but from the joining of man and woman; and according to the promise, like Isaac, she was prepared to take part in the divine economy.”[xxii] Saint Ambrose (339-397), Bishop of Milan, comments, “Of all those born of women, there is not a single one who is perfectly holy, besides the Lord Jesus Christ....”[xxiii]

None of the ancient holy Fathers say that God in miraculous fashion purified the Virgin Mary while yet in Anna’s womb. Only Jesus Christ is completely pure of every sin and only subject to death by violence; whereas, all others, born of Adam and Eve, have borne a flesh subject to the law of sin and death. Many have correctly indicated that the Virgin Mary, just as all men, endured a battle with sinfulness, but was victorious over temptations and was saved by her divine Son.

Saint John Maximovitch (+1966) affirms that the Church teaches that, through the fall of Adam and Eve, all the human race inherited death, becoming enslaved to the devil through the passions. The progeny of Adam and Eve are not guilty of their first parents’ tasting of the fruit; we are not being punished for this first sin or “original sin.” If, for the sake of argument, we maintain the invalid heterodox teaching that the Theotokos was preserved from this “original sin,” that would make God unmerciful and unjust. If God preserved her, why then does He not purify all people? However, that would have meant saving people before their birth, apart from their will. This teaching would then deny all her virtues. After all, if Mary, even in the womb of Anna, when she could not even desire anything either good or evil, was preserved by God’s grace from every impurity, and then by that grace was preserved from sin even after her birth, then in what does her virtue consist? She would have been placed in the state of being unable to sin.[xxiv]

The Virgin, as a true daughter of Adam and Eve, also inherited death. She was not in a state of never being able to die. Thus, St. John of Damascus writes on the occasion of her Dormition, O pure Virgin, sprung from mortal loins, thine end was conformable to nature.[xxv]

Saint John continues to comment that the most holy Virgin was not placed in the state of being unable to sin, but continued to take care for her salvation and overcame all temptations.[xxvi] The righteousness and sanctity of the Virgin Mary was manifested in the fact that she, being “human with passions like us,” so loved God and gave herself over to Him, that by her purity and virtue she was exalted above all other creatures.[xxvii]

8. Papal Supremacy

An official Vatican I (1870) proclamation read: “The Pope is Christ in office, Christ in jurisdiction and power....We bow down before thy voice, O Holy Father, as we would before Christ Himself.”[xxviii] Pope Leo XIII declared, “We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty.”[xxix] Pope Pius X (1903-1914) said, “The Pope is not only representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself, hidden under the veil of the flesh. Does the Pope speak? It is Jesus Christ Himself Who speaks.”[xxx] Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) uttered, “You know that I am the Holy Father, the representative of God on earth, the Vicar of Christ, which means that I am God on earth.”[xxxi]

According to the First Vatican Council, the Pope was infallible when he defined a doctrine concerning faith or morals. In accordance with this doctrine such a definition is infallible even previous to its acceptance by the Latin Church. Also, the Church of Rome teaches that the same infallibility attaches to whatever is taught as part of the deposit of revelation by the entire body of bishops in union with Rome, whether inside or outside of an Ecumenical Council.[xxxii]

The familiar complaint of Orthodoxy against Rome is assigning to a single bishop the infallibility which properly belongs neither to him alone nor yet to the hierarchy in general, but only to the Body of Christ as a whole. Infallibility is not to be confused with impeccability. It is not our purpose to parade the moral failings of the Popes, for these are well known to all, and Rome today does not deny the facts. An Orthodox Pope who remains in the truth is, in a certain sense, first among bishops. He enjoys a primacy of honor or, rather, a seniority with certain privileges among his peers, but not a supremacy of power or rule.[xxxiii]

The last reply of the Orthodox bishops addresses papal supremacy. The Orthodox prove by reference to the Fathers and the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils that the Pope was never considered the supreme authority and infallible head of the Church, but only the first bishop in respect of rank, as first among equals, privileges of honor having been accorded to him because he was the bishop of the capital city of the empire. The Orthodox maintain that every bishop is head and president of his own particular Church. He is subject only to the synodical ordinances and decisions of the Church universal as being alone infallible. They also assert that the Bishop of Rome is no exception to this rule (see Canon VI, First Ecumenical Council).

Canon XXVIII of the Fourth Ecumenical Council (Chalcedon, 451), states: “We too decree and vote the same things in regard to the privileges and priorities of the most holy Church of Constantinople, the New Rome. For to the throne of Old Rome, as the imperial city, the Fathers gave suitable privileges. Motivated by the same aim, the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome; rightfully judging that the city (Constantinople), being honored by a monarchy and a senate, and equal to old imperial Rome in respect of other privileges, should be magnified also, as she is in respect of ecclesiastical affairs, as coming next after her, or as being second to her.”[xxxiv]

Papal theologians state that the Apostle Peter received an exceptional gift that made him the sole foundation of the Church. They refer us to the Gospel passage: “Thou art Peter (su ei Petros), and upon this rock (epi tauth th petra) I will build My Church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” [Mt. 16:18, 19].

The Orthodox Church declares Peter’s person is not the rock of the Church, but the faith that he confessed and bore witness to when he said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” [Mt. 16:16]. It is precisely upon this confession and faith that the saving preaching of the Gospel by all the Apostles and their successors rests unshaken. Moreover, the Greek words tauth th petra (“this rock”), are feminine; they cannot refer to the person of Peter.

When the Apostle Peter received the “keys,” or spiritual authority, it was for the same reason, by virtue of his confession. Let us also direct our attention to our Saviour’s words, “I will build my Church.” The word “build” (oikodomhsw) is a verb in the future tense which refers to the establishment of the Church after the Resurrection and Descent of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, to say, “I will build” means that new members would be added to the present company, with Peter and his confession being only the first “rock” in the building of the Church.

According to the divine Paul, the members of the body of Christ, who are the Church [Col. 1:24], “are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” [Eph. 2:20]. It is therefore a novel doctrine to heap excessive privileges upon the Bishop of Rome as a successor of the Apostle Peter.

Listen to two western Fathers speak against papal supremacy. Saint Ambrose writes: “Faith is the foundation of the Church, for it was not of the person but of the faith of St. Peter that it was said that the gates of Hades should not prevail against it; it is the confession of faith that has vanquished Hades.”[xxxv] The truth professed by the disciple Peter is the foundation of the Church. No promise was made to his person. Saint Hilary of Poitiers (+358), acknowledges that it is upon the rock of Peter’s confession–that is to say, upon the divinity of Jesus Christ–that the Church is built.[xxxiii] He add, “There is but one unchangeable foundation,[xxxiv] that only rock confessed by the mouth of St. Peter, ‘Thou art the Son of the living God.’”

A contemporary of these two western Fathers, St. John Chrysostom (354-407), in concert with other Greek Fathers, recognized no supremacy in the apostolate of Rome. Saint John commented that the Apostles were equal in dignity. Peter and Paul were alike, first among the Apostles: the one for the Jews, and the other for the nations. “Christ did certainly divide His army in two parts, and entrusted the Jews to Peter and the Gentiles to Paul. The divisions of the army are indeed several, but the General is one.”[xxxv] Thus, Peter never received any exclusive supremacy over all Christendom. In fact, when the Apostles met in Synod at Jerusalem, it was not Peter who presided, but Iakovos (James) the brother of the Lord, and it was his decision which was accepted by all [Acts 15:19]. Moreover, where was St. Peter’s supremacy when St. Paul “withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” [Gal. 2:11]?

At the First Œcumenical Synod, 318 holy Fathers determined the canonical books of the New Testament and their sequence. Far from thinking that St. Peter had any supremacy, the Synod did not place his epistles first, but in their proper position, and after the Epistle of St. James.

The only Chief of the Church was, is, and ever shall be, Jesus Christ Himself. The Orthodox believe and acclaim with the Apostle Paul that Christ is the Head [Eph. 4:15] and, elsewhere, that Jesus is “the Head of the body, the Church, Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence” [Col. 1:18].[xxxvi]

Pope Gregory I, the Great (590-604), the fourth and last of the traditional Latin “Doctors of the Church,” addressed a letter to Patriarch John IV, the Faster of Constantinople (585-595), protesting the title of “Œcumenical Patriarch.”[xxxvii] It is a famous letter which absolutely condemns the modern papacy. Here are some pertinent extracts: “Peter the first of the Apostles, was a member of the holy and universal Church. Paul, Andrew, John–were they not the chiefs of certain nations? Yet, all are members under only one Head. In a word, the saints before the law, the saints under the law, and the saints under grace–do they not all constitute the body of the Lord? Are they not members of the Church?”[xxxviii]

Rome may glory that St. Peter made her illustrious when he martyred in Rome, but not that he made her Head of the Church instead of Christ.

Pope Gregory continues: “The title of ‘universal’ was offered by the holy Synod of Chalcedon to the Bishop of the Apostolic see (Rome), which, by God’s grace, I (Gregory) serve.[xxxix] Nevertheless, none of my predecessors would use this impious word, because, in reality, if a Patriarch is called ‘universal,’ he takes from all the others the title of Patriarch.” Saint Gregory considered himself a Patriarch equal to the other Patriarchs.[xl] The title “Supreme Bishop of the Universal Church,” he considered blasphemous, though it is now one of the official titles of the Pope of Rome.[xli]

Since the 11th century, partisans of the papacy have constantly asserted that the Pope has a universal authority–that he is the universal bishop–that, properly speaking, he is the only bishop, the source whence flows all ecclesiastical dignity.[xlii]

The Greeks did not attach as great importance as Rome did to whether a bishopric had been founded by an Apostle. (In fact, the Holy Fathers chiefly valued such sees on the explicit assumption that they retained the most direct and faithful transmission of the Apostolic preaching; thus it was assumed fidelity to the Gospel that gave the voice of these sees greater weight than, perhaps, others had. Without this, the historical relationship to an Apostle was merely historical in value.) Moreover, the Greeks also argued that if the Latins base the primacy of Rome on the fact that Peter lived there, then Antioch had a weightier claim, since Peter had preached there, and according to St. Gregory the Great (Epistles, Bk. VIII, Ep. XL, To Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria), St. Jerome (On Illustrious Men, Ch. I and XVI), St. John Chrysostom (“On the Inscription of the Acts”, II), and others was bishop there for many years, before he ever came to Rome. Moreover, Jerusalem could make a much more substantial claim to primacy, simply because our Lord Jesus Christ Himself had preached and died and risen again there.


9. Statues

Other novelties introduced at Rome include the use of statues instead of icons. The Evangelist Luke initiated the painting of icons. He painted the Theotokos in her lifetime and received her blessing to continue in that sacred art. The Orthodox Church neither venerates nor manufactures statues. The definition given by the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicæa II, 787) was that images be produced with paints (or colors), with mosaic, or tesselated, and with any other suitable material, such as gold and silver and other metals, as Bishop Theodosios of Amorion says in Act IV of the same Council. The images may be inscribed upon sacred utensils, divine Gospels, precious Crosses,[xliii] robes, sheets, cloths, walls, boards and houses. To this class, also, is assigned images cast in wax, which St. John Chrysostom himself loved.[xliv] No word is ever mentioned about the making of statues, sculptured figures or plaster of paris replicas. Many assert that the reason why the Church rejected the veneration of statues, apart from the legal observation and custom noted hereinabove, was in order to avoid entirely any likeness to pagan idols which were statutes of massive sculpture. A statue is too life-like, human a representation, confusable with the prototype, whereas it is obvious with a 2-dimensional representation that the icon is only a representation of another person to whom the actual reverence is felt and shown via the icon.

The veneration of icons, as opposed to statues, was once part of the tradition of Rome when it was Orthodox. All the ancient churches found in Rome and the rest of Italy have icons, frescoes, mosaics, and iconostases, which are lacking in later structures –the ancient churches themselves thereby testifying to the West that statues are a later papal innovation. Indeed, the Orthodox, pre-schism Popes stood forth as the chief defenders of icon-veneration when their Eastern Orthodox fellow Christians were suffering under the Iconoclast persecutions which lasted (off and on) for almost a hundred years (c. 754 –842 A.D.).

10. Compulsory Clerical Celibacy

The early Church historian, Socrates Scholasticus (late 4th century A.D) recounts in his Ecclesiastical History (Bk. I, Ch. XI) that at the 1st Ecumenical Council in 325 A.D., the idea of requiring clerical celibacy was raised as an innovation by some of the bishops and clergy, which met with an ardent opposition lead by St. Paphnutios, a monk, a bishop, and a confessor who had suffered mutilation for the Faith in the recent persecutions. They pleaded that not all men could bear this sacrifice, as witnessed by the words of the Savior (Matt.), that it was not hitherto the tradition of the Church to require this, and that it would be unwise to require it of all clergymen, since it would bring the weaker ones into perdition. He also feared for the continence of the wives of these clergymen thus forced to celibacy. St. Paphnutius’ appeal persuaded the Ecumenical Council to unanimously reject the proposition to require celibacy from all clergy; however, it did prohibit marriage or remarriage after ordination, in accordance with the recommendation of St. Paphnutius and already established tradition. Nevertheless, there was always an inclination to prefer whenever possible celibate men for the highest offices (e.g., the episcopate), who could devote themselves more fully to the service of God and the shepherding of the flock (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32-35), and for other practical and spiritual reasons. Consequently, it became the universal norm to draw from celibate men for consecration to the Episcopate; however, when Rome began requiring of her married lower clergy (priests, deacons, subdeacons) to take vows of celibacy and repudiate there wives, the 6th Ecumenical Council censured this practice and prohibited it to anyone under threat of deposition; however, it also ordained that the normative practice everywhere accepted by the Church of selecting bishops from among celibates, should continue and now be the fixed rule, thus making an authoritative ruling of the universal Church. Consequently, when Pope Leo IX (1049-1054) reinstituted this practice and began a crusade against the ‘heresy’ of married clergy, which became one of the reasons for his excommunicating the Orthodox, he was defying and denying the authority of the universal Church, contrary to the words of Christ, and setting himself up above the whole Church.

Throughout the Middle Ages, there were repeated efforts to enforce celibacy on those in holy orders. Canon VII of the Second Lateran Council of 1139, convoked by Pope Innocent II (1130-1143), made the marriage of clerics not only unlawful but invalid. Legislation was also repeated at the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and incorporated in the 1917 Codex Luris Canonici. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) also reaffirmed the need for celibacy.[xlv]

Western practice is neither enjoined nor even recommended anywhere in Scriptures, nor in the Apostolic and Synodical Canons; in fact, it is contrary to them. Thus Rome continues to this day to defy the authority of the Church and bring itself under Her condemnations.

11. The Gregorian Calendar

The reform of the Julian Calendar was projected under earlier Popes. A calendar change was constantly thwarted by the monastic communities of both the East and the West, supported also by reminders, fearful admonitions and anathemas of the Councils. The constant refrain of the Holy Canons is the continuance in what has been handed down from the Apostles and their saintly successors: “Let the ancient customs prevail” (Canon VI, First Ecumenical Council); “Inasmuch as custom and ancient tradition have prevailed” (Canon VII, First Ecumenical Council); and “...according to the Canons of the Holy Fathers and ancient custom...” (Canon VIII, Third Ecumenical Council). Saint Bede the “Venerable” (c. 673-735) stoutly declared, “The alleged correction of the ecclesiastical calendar is not permissible to anyone.”

Moreover, a new Ecumenical Council would encounter obstacles in changing the ecclesiastical calendar, merely on an astronomical basis, especially since astronomers never agree in their calculations. Indeed, the Gregorian Calendar is faulty too according to modern astronomers, partly as a result of the fact that it was formulated on the basis of Ptolemaic, geocentric model of the universe and predicted events on that basis, whereas modern astronomy rests on Copernican heliocentrism and the Newtonian universe model; nay, rather even these are considered inaccurate and inadequate by leading 20th and 21st century astronomers, thus proving the aforementioned point –scientists are ever reevaluating the previous generation’s calculations, finding them faulty, and are not yet in a position to ‘definitively’ ‘correct’ the calendar, even if it were permissible to us to alter the Holy Fathers’ institutions. More pertinently, the inaccurate and uncanonical Gregorian Calendar has caused the Roman Catholics often to celebrate Pascha before the Jewish Passover. Scripture clearly states that the Lord’s Resurrection took place after the celebration of the Jewish Passover, and the Apostolic Canons with the Injuctions and the First Ecumenical Council explicitly commanded that it be celebrated on the first Sunday after the Passover date. Thus, Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) ignored Apostolic Canon VII which states: “If any bishop, priest or deacon celebrate the holiday of Pascha before the vernal equinox with the Jews, let him be deposed.”[xlvi] He also fell under the condemnation of Canon I of the Council of Antioch, which deposed and anathematized those who transgress the decree of the 1st Ecumenical Council on Pascha. The Apostles, in the Injuctions and Canons, left the Church commandments concerning the time and manner of celebration of Pascha and the other major feasts and fasts of the Church. The adoption of the Gregorian Paschalion and Menologian or either separately inevitably transgresses these commandments, and perverts or abolishes important aspects of the Church’s liturgical cycle inherited from the Lord’s disciples. Even worse yet, to accept the Gregorian Calendar, the Paschalion in particular, which explicitly violates the decree of the Holy Apostles and Ecumenical Synods is to accept the superiority of Papal authority and a few humanist astronomers over that of the Holy Apostles and, indeed, of the whole, infallible Church, and thus to blaspheme the Holy Spirit which spoke through them.

Under Pope Gregory XIII, the act was finalized by a commission at the papal Villa Mondragone near Frascati on February 14, 1582. The introduction of the new, Gregorian calendar, involving the skipping and dropping of ten days from that year, commenced on 5th/14th of October, 1582. A new rule for leap years was also instituted, which further aggravates and increases the discrepancy between Gregorian year and Ecclesiatical year every century. The new calendar was adopted by the Catholic states, but the Protestant states did not follow suit for more than a 150 years, and only after the shedding of much blood.

Pope Gregory XIII repeatedly pressured Patriarch Jeremias II of Constantinople (1572-1579, 1580-1584, 1586-1595) to follow him in the calendar innovation, but the Patriarch repeatedly refused in his letters to consent to the Papal innovation. Finally, in 1583, a Synod was convened in Constantinople to address the most recent Papal innovations, which pro-Roman apostates were preaching among the faithful in Little Russia. The first Synod, held on November 20, 1583, under the presidency of the Patriarchs Jeremias II of Constantinople, Sylvester of Alexandria and Sophronios of Jerusalem, condemned the calendar introduced by Pope Gregory of Rome, and did not accept it as the Latins had requested.[xlvii]

This Synod issued a Sigillion, which was sent to all the regional Orthodox Churches, wherein it enumerates the principal heresies of the papacy and anathematizes them. They ordered that one should be anathematized if one does not profess that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father, essentially and hypostatically, although He proceeds from Father and Son in time. They also ordered that lay people should commune of the Body and Blood of Christ, and they prohibited the use of unleavened bread. They wrote: “Whosoever says that when our Christ and God comes to judge He does not come to judge the souls together with the bodies, but comes to decide only for the body, anathema to him.” They pronounced an anathema upon those that believe there is no eternal torment (as did Origen), but that the souls of Christians that repented in this life–but did not do their penance–go to Purgatory. Anathema was pronounced also upon those that confess that the Pope is head of the Church and not Christ, and that the Pope has authority to admit into Paradise with his letters, and to forgive as many sins as will be committed by one who with money receives an indulgence from him.[xlviii]

The second Synod, by the same authorities, was held in 1587. The Sigillion issued by this Synod commands every Orthodox, under penalty of punishment and anathema, not to accept the new Paschalion or the new dating of Pascha.[xlix] The third Synod, under the presidency of Patriarchs Jeremias of Constantinople, Meletios Pegas of Alexandria, Joachim of Antioch and Sophronios of Jerusalem, confirmed the condemnation of 1583, stating, “The correction of the calendar was condemned as being perilous and unnecessary and as being, rather, the cause of many dangers.”[l]

Another condemnation took place in February, 1593, which rejected “the new calendar, that is, the Latin innovation of calculating the celebration of Pascha.”The Synod excommunicated those who have dared to transgress the definitions regarding this Holy Feast. Signatories include Patriarchs Jeremias II, Joachim of Antioch, Sophronios of Jerusalem and Meletios of Alexandria. According to Bishop Polycarp of Diaulia, “...in 1593, a Council of the Orthodox Churches convened at Constantinople where the four Patriarchs, the plenipotentiary of the Russian Church, and many other Orthodox hierarchs representing the Orthodox Churches participated, stated: ‘He that does not follow, but wishes to overturn and destroy, the customs of the Church decreed by the well ordained Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils, in the observance of Holy Pascha and the Menologion (calendar of the immovable feasts), and wishes to follow the new Paschalia and Menologia of the Pope’s astronomers,...let him be anathema and outside the Church of Christ and the assembly of the faithful....’”[li]

Any Orthodox that choose to subscribe to the Papal Calendar (menologian) will find that the observance of the Apostles’ Fast, commencing the day after All Saints’ Sunday (the first Sunday after the Feast of the Pentecost) and concluding on the 29th of June, will be dropped in certain ecclesiastical years, as occurred as recently as 1983, in disobedience to the Apostolic and Patristic injunction that we keep the fast at that time.

12. Holy Unction

Another Latin innovation noted by the Orthodox is the administration of “extreme” unction to a sick person on the point of dying, not for the purpose of promoting the recovery of that one’s body and soul, but as the last provision for death. Even the name “viaticum” (meaning “provision for a journey”) was the Holy Communion given to those in likelihood of immediate death to strengthen them for their journey into eternity. Though bodily recovery was not ordinarily expected, the 1972 Roman Catholic Novus Ordo (New Order) lays much greater emphasis on healing.

Unction (E celaisn, literally “oil of prayer”) is administered by Orthodox priests for a person’s recovery from illness of body and soul, not just as a preparation for death. It may also be received by many Orthodox faithful, who may not be ill or in danger of dying, such as during Great Thursday of Holy Week. The pertinent scriptural verse from which this Mystery is derived states: “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the presbyters of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” [Jas. 5:14, 15]. We also read about the twelve disciples anointing the sick in the Gospel: “And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them” [Mk. 6:14].


All those who desire to learn the facts in detail concerning the innovations and pretensions of the Papal Church may study ecclesiastical history, the writings of the learned and especially The Rudder (The Pedalion) of the Orthodox Church. The honest reader will be left without any doubt as to which of the two communions is the true Church of the Holy Apostles and Fathers, unaltered by heresy and innovation. Space does not permit us to describe the other innovations and peculiarities not mentioned in this synodical letter. These include beliefs in created grace, “original sin,” predestination, stigmata, false Marian visions, shaven clergy, temples with pews, Papally-endorsed murders, assassinations, robberies, and forced (superficial) conversions, the Serbian genocide, the Pope as a holder of both ecclesiastical and civil offices, etc. So, through the years, diversity became disparity, privilege became right, and innovation became tradition.

We see in the modern papacy the story of an apostasy from the Church, following the road first traveled by the Angel Lucifer, who rose as the bright morning-star [Is. 14:12]. First came pride when Lucifer said, “I will set my throne above the stars of heaven....I will be like the Most High” [Is. 14:13, 14]. This pride also manifested itself by the Popes saying their throne is supreme, high above all other bishops and Councils. Saint Photios fought against this first manifestation of spiritual destruction. Secondly, came the Aristotelian investigative procedures of Scholasticism. This was an attempt by intellectual processes, by analogy and by defining, coordinating, and systematizing the data of faith, to justify western doctrine. It was borrowed almost whole cloth from contemporary Jewish and Muslim mystical and rationalistic philosophy, which had already wrought the same designs on their own creeds. Saint Gregory Palamas fought against this scholasticism which elevated reason in the minds of those in delusion (prelest) above faith. Lastly, came the action of an ecumenical union which would overlook all conditions of a true union for the sake of some imagined good. Saint Mark fought against a false union which would lead many Orthodox into apostasy.

Through the prayers of the pillars of Orthodoxy may the Lord grant us to say with the notable Joseph Bryennios: “We shall never renounce Thee, O beloved Orthodoxy! We shall never be untrue to thee, O revered tradition of the Fathers! We shall never forsake thee, O Mother Piety! In Thee were we born; and in Thee do we live; and in Thee shall we repose. And if the times require, we shall die ten thousand times for Thee!”[lii]



[i] Nicholas P. Basileiade, Saint Mark of Ephesus and the Union of the Churches [in Greek], 3rd ed. (Athens, GR: The Brotherhood of Theologians of Sotir, 1983), p. 19.

[ii] Praeclara, dated 1894. In Pope Leo’s letter Ad Anglos, dated April 14, 1895, he revealed a special anxiety for the conversion of England. In 1895, he appointed a commission to investigate the validity of Anglican orders. In view of its negative report, he pronounced them invalid in Apostolicae curae, dated September 13, 1896. In his concern for reunion, he also issued Satis cognitum, dated 1896, wherein he rejects a federation of churches as falling far short of the true mystical body of Christ. J.N.D. Kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (NY: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 312.

[iii] Orthodox and Catholic Union: The Reply of the Holy Orthodox Church to Roman Catholic Overtures on Reunion and Ecumenism, p. 1, section II.

[iv] Timothy Ware, Eustratios Argenti: A Study of the Greek Church under Turkish Rule (Willits, CA: Eastern Orthodox Books, 1974, repr. of Oxford University Press, 1964), p. 87. For immersion in the early Church, see Hermas, Sim. IX. xvi. 4; St. Basil, De Spiritu Sanctu, xv (35); Jerome, In Ep. as Eph. comm. II. iv. 5-6 (PL 26, 496B).

[v] Ware, Eustratios Argenti, p. 93.

[vi] St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit [10,12, 15].

[vii] Didache vii, 1-3.

[viii] Ware, Evstratios Argenti, p. 116; See, Argenti’s Syntagma kata Azymon or Treatise Against Unleavened Bread [in Greek], pp. 24-27, 79. Argenti wrote this treatise in c.1743.

[ix] Argenti, Treatise Against Azymes, pp. 9-12; Ware, loc. cit.;

[x] Argenti, pp. 34, 47-49; Ware, p. 117.

[xi] Argenti, pp. 92, 93; Ware, p. 122.

[xii] Ibid., p. 95.

[xiii] Ibid., pp. 166, 167, 174-180.

[xiv] Kecskemet Library, Ms. 5, ff. 125r-125v; Ware, p. 125.

[xv] “Purgatory,” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2nd ed., F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, eds. (NY: Oxford University Press, 1974), pp. 1144, 1145.

[xvi] Canon 911; John K. Ryan, “Indulgence,” The Encyclopedia Americana, 1957, p. 77.

[xvii] St. John Chrysostom, Homily 28 on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews.

[xviii] St. Ambrose of Milan, The Two Books on the Decease of His Brother Saytrus, Book II (On the Belief in the Resurrection), 52, 88.

[xix] St. John of Damscus, Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Bk. 4, Ch. 27 (On the Resurrection).

[xx] Walter S. Drum, S.J., “Immaculate Conception,” The Encyclopedia Americana, 1957, p. 711.

[xxi] “Against the Collyridians”, Panarion, taken from Blessed Archbishop John Maximovitch, The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God, trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose, (Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1987), p. 40.

[xxii] Against the Antidikomarionites; Maximovitch, p. 41.

[xxiii] Commentary on Luke, ch. 2; Maximovitch’s, loc. cit.

[xxiv] Maximovitch, Orthodox Veneration, p. 45.

[xxv] Matins Canon, 15 Aug., Ode Three, Tone Four.

[xxvi] Maximovitch, p. 44.

[xxvii] Ibid., p. 45.





[xxxii] “Infallibility,” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, op. cit., p. 701.

[xxxiii] Eustratios Argenti, George Zaviras Library (Budapest, 1744-1804), Ms. 32, pp. 42, 43. The Zaviras Library is now in the hands of the Library of the Institute of Modern Greek, Budapest University (Zaviras Collection).

[xxxiv] D. Cummings, The Rudder [Pedalion] (Chicago: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1957), pp. 271, 272.


[xxxvi] On the Trinity, Book VI, ch. 36.

[xxxvii] Ibid., Book II, ch. 23.

[xxxviii] Homily on Gal. 2:11; Abbe Guettee, The Papacy (NY: Minos Publishing Co., n.d.), pp. 158, 159.

[xxxix] The above outlined innovations are taken from extracts of the most important paragraphs of the Reply of the Great Church of Constantinople to the Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII. See, Apostolos Makrakis, The Innovations of the Roman Church, 2d ed. (Chicago, IL: Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1966); Logos: 1129 (Athens, 1895).

[xl] The Latin world and Pope Gregory translated the word “ecumenical” as universalis, which had a connotation of universal jurisdiction, that is, that such a title meant a bishop whose authority was over all bishops and churches. To the Byzantines, the word ecumeme was used to connote the Christian Empire, though it literally implied the whole inhabited world. Constantinople was the ecumenical capital, thus its Patriarch was the “Ecumenical Patriarch.” It was simply an honorific epithet, which certainly did not give him any authority over his fellow Patriarchs. In fact, the Patriarch was not the only one entitled “ecumenical,” so was the ecumenical professor at the university, as was the ecumenical librarian, etc. Steven Runciman, The Eastern Schism (London: Oxford University Press, 1956), p. 18.

[xl] The Council of Chalcedon had offered the title to Pope Leo I (440-461), who had refused it. Hefele-Leclercq, Histoire des Conciles, ii. 2, pp. 834, 835.

[xli] Guettee, p. 219.

[xlii] Guettee, p. 226.

[xliii] Dositheos, Dodekabiblos, p. 656.

[xliv] In St. John’s discourse wherein he argues that one and the same Lawgiver is the Author of both the Old and New Testaments; and in Discourse 307 on the vesture of priests; Cummings, The Rudder [Pedalion], p.415.

[xlv] “Celibacy,” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, op. cit., p. 259.

[xlvi] The Rudder, p. 9.

[xlvii] Metropolitan Meletios of Athens, Ecclesiastical History (Austria, 1784), ch. XI, p. 402.

[xlviii] This Sigillion is found in manuscript Codex 772, in the Sacred Monastery of St. Panteleimon, on the Holy Mountain, and manuscript Codes No. 285 of the cell “The Akathist Hymn” of the Sacred Skete of Kapsokalyvia, on the Holy Mountain. It was first published by the Russian Archimandrite Porphyrios Uspensky in the periodical The Roumanian Orthodox Church, Issue 12 (Bucharest, 1881). Archimandrite Porphyrios had copied it from a manuscript codex of the great library of St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mt. Sinai.

[xlix] Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mt. Athos, Codex Manuscript 772.

[l] Metropolitan Philaret (Baphides) of Didymotichon, Ecclesiastical History (Constantinople, 1912), ch. III, p. 125. See Rev. Basile Sakkas, The Calendar Question, translated from the French by Holy Transfiguration Monastery (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1973), pp. 22, 23.

[li] Bishop Polycarp of Diaulia, The Change of the Calendar (Athens, 1947), p. 13.

[lii] Joseph Bryennios, “Ta Evrethenta” [in Greek], Vol. II, Melete Peri Tis Ton Cyprion Pros Tin Orthodoxon Ekklesian Meletetheses Enosios... (Evgenios Bulgarios, pub., Leipzig, 1768-1784), pp. 16, 23; Basileiade, p. 29.

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