Lately, there have been public manifestations held by certain persons, who, in a worldly and aggressive manner, accused and slandered the hierarchs of the Romanian Orthodox Church, who participated in the Synod held in Crete, in June 2016, where over 200 hierarchs from ten sister Orthodox Churches took part.
Those who promote such a negative attitude are, in general, some rebellious clerics and uncanonical, disobedient and unstable monastics, who do not dwell in monasteries according to monastic ordinances, as well as some laypeople negatively influenced by them.
A similar group protested on the Metropolitan Hill (in Bucharest) on 30 August 2016. The group members were listened to by His Grace Varlaam of Ploieşti, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch, but they were incapable to carry out a dialogue, they were aggressive and repeated unjustified accusations; they judged and slandered the hierarchs who approved the document of the Synod held in Crete, regarding the relations of the Orthodox Church with other Christians.
In times in which the Orthodox Church is attacked by many seen and unseen exterior forces of the phenomenon of secularisation, these rebels disturb from within the interior peace and unity of the Church, under the pretext of defending the Orthodox faith, because they are not being guided by the Spirit of Christ.
Nevertheless, most clergy, monastics and faithful of the Romanian Orthodox Church keep the peace and unity of Christ’s Church and acknowledge the truth thatthe Synod held in Crete did not formulate new dogmas, but declared that the Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ,while the heterodox (non-Orthodox) churches or confessions separated from Orthodoxy, because they estranged themselves from the Orthodox faith, which represents the fundament of the unity of the Church.And since our Lord Jesus Christ prayed to the heavenly Father that His disciples and those who believe in Himto be one(John17:21), i.e. to keep the unity of the Church based on true faith, the Orthodox Church does not promote confessional hatred or “religious war”, but rather“only faith working through love”(Galatians5:6), professing Orthodoxy with humbleness and spiritual peace.
Thus, true Orthodox Christians can keep their true faith, even when carrying a dialogue or cooperating at social-philanthropic or cultural levels with other Christians, especially in countries in which Orthodox Christians are a minority. For example,in Western Europe, there are currently over 700 Romanian Orthodox parishes, out of which 670 parishes do not possess their own church buildings; the Romanian faithful can, thus, pray in places of worship rented or borrowed from Catholic, Anglican or Protestant Christians, without losing their Orthodox faith.
Therefore, a lucid and realistic Orthodox Christian can remain faithful to Orthodoxy even when carrying out a dialogue or cooperating with other Christians without being fanatic, arrogant or aggressive. But, those who are now disturbing the peace and unity of the Church have no pastoral responsibility for the Romanian Orthodox communities in the Diaspora, nor do they understand how grave is the sin of division or bringing distress in the peace and unity of the Church, claiming that only they – the protesters – are true, correct and competent faithful who can defend Orthodoxy, calling heretics all those who have a different thinking.
The wordChurchmeansassembly, not division, i.e. the assembly of Orthodox Christians in the love of the Most Holy Trinity, by professing and experiencing true faith in a fraternal communion in Christ and obedience towards the spiritual fathers, to whom the work to pastorally care for the faithful on the path to salvation was rendered (cf.Hebrews13:17).
Therefore, we must always keep the peace and unity of the Church of Christ!
Press Office of the Romanian Patriarchate