A Final Word Concerning the Reception of Archbishop Ambrose
“For God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Therefore do thou not become ashamed of the testimony of our Lord...[2 Tim. 1:7, 8].”
Archbishop Makarios of the Genuine Orthodox Christians (GOC) of Greece issued a statement on January 7th, 2008 (o.s.), denying his participation in the reception of Archbishop Ambrose into the Genuine Orthodox Church (GOC) of America.
I know Archbishop Makarios very well, and the difficult conditions in which he has to conduct the business of his Church, as well as the circumstances of the current struggle for true Orthodoxy in Greece. However, this unpleasant state of affairs does not allow him to engage in falsehood. Therefore, I want to affirm openly that his written denial is not true, and should be viewed just as political posturing to appease certain disorderly elements within his synod.
Because Archbishop Makarios’ false statement casts suspicion upon our holy Church (the GOC of America), a complete explanation along with a clarification of the current state of affairs of the true Church of Greece is warranted.
First of all, let it again be declared that we, as the legitimate successors of the Russian Church Abroad (ROCOR), gave the episcopacy to the Greek Old Calendarist Church. We have no reason to break communion with them, for they have not departed from the Faith, although at times they may say and do things that are irresponsible, such as the above mentioned denial letter written to Fr. Nikiforos Groce. From our perspective, the GOC of America is in communion with the GOC of Greece of Archbishop Makarios, not for any other reason than their confession of Faith. To break communion with brother Christians of the same Faith for petty reasons, is a sin against Christ and a sin against the unity of the Church. May God spare us!
Indeed, ever since our Russian Church gave them their episcopacy, we have been in communion with them. When the ROCOR united with the heretical Cyprianite Synod of Resistors, we both, the faithful bishops of the Russian Church and the faithful bishops of the Greek Church, broke communion with the ROCOR at the same time and for the same reason; and thus we maintained communion with each other and kept the unity of the Church. Any opinion that these two Churches are not one, is illogical and therefore unorthodox.
As we look at the history of the GOC of Greece, we have to admit that it has been plagued by two troublesome issues, which has caused no little scandal for their Church, and unfortunately, for us in America.
The first problem is the synod’s hasty consecration of bishops whose characters were not fully investigated before their elevation. These unworthy ones have caused division and scandal within Greece and abroad. They have caused the GOC of Greece to become at times dysfunctional in administrating Church business, due to their envy and ambition. This has affected us in America because these bishops, at times, have been made exarchs of our country, namely Niphon of Pireas and Christophoros of Salamina.
The second issue is the synod’s viewing of America as some kind of extension of Greece or missionary territory. The Greeks fail to remember that Orthodoxy came to America in the late 1700s, when Greece was still under the Turkish/Moslem Yoke. They fail to remember that it was through the ROCOR, with its seat in America, that the episcopacy was given to the Greek Old Calendarists in the 1960s. This was done without the knowledge or consent of the Russian Synod and yet the Greeks will never doubt the validity of the consecrations of Archbishops Seraphim of Chicago and Theophilos of Detroit who consecrated Akakios (Pappas) and later the consecrations performed by Archbishop Leonty of Chile with Akakios (Pappas) who, in turn ordained others to perpetuate their holy synod.
Disregarding all the above, they still uncanonically wish to have churches in dioceses not their own, where there is already an established Orthodox hierarchy. They desire so much to have a presence in America, that they will consider practically anyone who petitions them for acceptance. It seems they will forever be blind to the fact that their every attempt in the past to maintain churches or an episcopal existence in America has ended in complete disaster. This is exemplified by the lamentable histories of Peter, Paisios, Vincentios and Paul of Astoria, NY; and sadly Archbishop Makarios’ GOC Synod’s consideration of union with the homosexual church called HOCNA. Thanks be to God that Makarios’ GOC Synod finally rejected any HOCNA union, but it is lamentable that they accepted into their Church, HOCNA’s “spiritual” son, Father Nikiforos Groce as their representative in America, residing in Florida.
This is yet another failed example of foreign bishops trying to adequately examine someone’s history on the other side of the planet. The acceptance of this stranger to virtue, whose name adequately describes his character, was a blatant canonical sin; for he willingly left the true Church (ROCOR), which was in communion with the GOC of Greece, and preferred to unite himself with the homosexual clergy of HOCNA! Thus the canons which denounce such sins condemn those responsible. This man’s continuous mischief undoubtedly incited the letter addressed to him by Archbishop Makarios, in which the latter denies involvement in receiving the repentance of Archbishop Ambrose, and his subsequent reception into the GOC of America. The fact that the GOC of Greece has received such a clergyman into their church exhibits a fundamental lack of discretion and disregard for America. Why do they permit such a clergyman and ignore canonical order and the necessary moral standard? The answer is simply that they might have a presence where they have NO canonical right to be.
Let us reiterate the following:
1. Archbishop Makarios and I were in agreement on the reception of Archbishop Ambrose, provided the latter fulfills certain requirements, such as a document renouncing Ecumenism, which he did furnish. It was translated into perfect Greek and sent to Greece and received by Archbishop Makarios. Then he gave his approval.
2. It should be understood that this was an agreement between two hierarchs only, in order to fulfill the requirement that two bishops are needed to receive or ordain another bishop. It was also understood that Archbishop Makarios’ GOC Synod was not capable of making such a decision at the present time, due to the character or disposition of a certain member of the synod and his Groce priest in America. This bishop’s absence of Christian love and lack of apostolic zeal, especially in these last times when only a few confess the truth, is deplorable. On the other hand, Archbishop Makarios’ work of love for our church should be acknowledged and commended.
3. It should be stated that this act of reception was only on behalf of the GOC of America and was not to be understood as a statement of inter-communion between the GOC of America and the GOC of Greece, because I did not need such a statement, deeming it unnecessary to reaffirm what a childish mind could understand.
4. It should be understood that any further denial by Archbishop Makarios cannot undo any previous decision, especially if the previous decision was in accordance with the Gospel and the will of God, since our Savior Jesus Christ says, “Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay [Mt. 5:37].” And also Christ says that a man shall give an account for his every word [Mt. 12:36].
5. Lastly, it could be that the inappropriate and erroneous statements of Archbishop Makarios’ letter to Father Nikiforos, unseemly though they are, were only for the consumption and appeasement of just a few, and not intended to put on the internet. At any rate, its effect is only to the harming of the Church. Let those who harm the Church beware, for Christ said that whoever will fall upon this Stone shall be broken, but upon whomsoever this Stone will fall, it will grind him to powder [Mt. 21:44].
President of the Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church of America
In Buena Vista, June 25/July 8, 2008