Daily Readings

Daily Scripture Readings, Troparion and Kontakion

Read More
Holy Fathers Holy Fathers

Selected quotes and teachings of the Holy Fathers

Read More
Saints Lives of the Saints

Learn about the lives of the saints of the Orthodox Church

Read More

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Letter of the late Abp. Seraphim of Chicago to Abp. Auxentios (1972)

Diocese of Chicago and Detroit, Inc.
Head Office: Vladimirovo – Lost Lake
Rock City, Ill 61070
Subsidiary: 2135 North Sawyer St.
Chicago, Ill 60647 ph: 312-384-1973

The 26th October 1972 N.C.
Memory of St. Demetrius the Myrrhgusher.


The Archbishop Auxentius,
Dear Brother and Concelebrant in Christ,

Christ is in our midst.

Because recently, discussions are again arising concerning the ordination of the late Akakios Papas and as there is mention of my name, I would like to make the following points.

Bishop Akakios was ordained bishop by my unworthiness and the Rumanian bishop Theophilus. I did not ordain bishop Akakios alone. The ordination took place in Detroit, Michigan and in the Cathedral Church of bishop Theophilus.

There are eyewitnesses who are still alive, who were present during the ordination, that is, the then Archimandrites – now Bishops – Akakios and Peter.

Therefore the ordination certificate which bears my signature is accurate as far as
it mentions that my unworthiness and another bishop performed the ordination.

The second bishop is not mentioned and did not sign the ordination certificate because both bishop Theophilus and bishop Akakios – for personal reasons – did not publicly make known the incident.

As far as my participation is concerned: I explained to the then candidate Archimandrite Akakios that owing to the prohibition of his being ordained by my Synod, (that) bishop Theophilus would assist so that there be a second bishop present for the ordination. I explained to all who were interested, that bishop Theophilus followed the New Calendar, even though there existed a few communities adhering to the Old Calendar under his jurisdiction. The cathedral church in Detroit celebrates with the New Calendar. I did not hide this fact from bishop Akakios. His reply was that there was an extremely urgent need for a bishop for Greece and that he had to return as bishop, thus – consenting to bishop Theophilus’ participation in the ordination – he would overlook the fact that he celebrated with the New Calendar.

If bishop Theophilus now denies his participation in the ordination, he himself bears the responsibility. I cannot place his signature in the Ordination Certificate. Bishop Akakios accepted the ordination knowing well back then that bishop Theophilus was not going to sign any certificate whatsoever. The responsibility therefore – for the present confusion – rests with the late bishop Akakios and those with him.

Now, with the written denial of bishop Theophilus that he did not take
part in the ordination, the situation becomes complicated and a canonical issue
concerning the ordination is created. I’m truly sorry for this, but who would have foreseen or imagined the present development of the whole matter? Dear brother, is it possible that God in His Righteousness has allowed this temptation because your jurisdiction has repeatedly and excessively used the incident of the ordination of a bishop by a single bishop as argumentation against the jurisdiction of Archbishop Matthew? If humility and compassion had been shown towards those that were ordained by a single bishop and if the decision of our Synod concerning them had received acceptance, then probably this temptation would not have come upon yourselves.

Our Metropolitan Philaret – from the outset and even prior to last years appearance before our Synod of the bishops from the jurisdiction of Matthew – wrote repeatedly towards your Reverance, saying that we are convinced that, the so-much desired union between the two jurisdictions would be achieved if you could confront the above mentioned bishops with brotherly humility and if you addressed them as bishops.

The motivations of our Synod, dear brother, for the ties with our Greek brethren, were always sincere and (aimed) towards the strenghthening of Orthodoxy during this turbulent age. That is why we are always hopeful that a way would be found so that the two jurisdictions of the Genuine Orthodox Christians in Greece could unite. Towards this blessed aim we do not spare toils or time, always encouraging and advising the two jurisdictions to unite.

In your correspondence with our Holy Synod, we observe that you repeatedly throw the responsibility of no union on the other jurisdictions. However, allow me to make a few observations.

Re-examining the documents from the Synod files concerning the matters in Greece, we have the encyclical of your Reverence that was issued in Athens on the twenty seventh of August 1971 O.C. Protocol No. 532, which amongst other things mentions the following: “we declare with responsibility and categorically towards everyone, that this issue (i.e. the union with the Matthewites)is considered by many as closed for many and different reasons.”

Note that this Encyclical was written while the bishops Kallistos and Epiphanios of the Matthewite jurisdiction were still to be found in the United States of America, giving a report on their situation before the Synod. The same sorrowful expression: “that a union with the Matthewites is considered a closed case,” is to be found printed in your official journal, even after the return of the above mentioned bishops to Greece, and even after the publication of our Synod’s decision concerning them.

Our Fr. Basil Sakkas from Geneva had commented on the issue and justly questions: “… from whom and when was the issue closed?” Doesn’t this indicate a manifest unwillingness and prejudice on your part not even to merely accept the notion of the possibility to come to discussions with the Matthewites? And again, is it not a sign of unwillingness to unite with the other jurisdiction on your behalf – your ordination of the bishop of Thessaloniki, where there already presides a bishop of the Matthewite jurisdiction for more than twenty years, in fact now, during a period of hopes for union. Does not this deed complicate the situation even more and does it not reveal the unwillingness to unite on your part?

But even more, it saddens us that you discard the verdict and resolution of our Synod concerning the Matthewite Bishops, by writing in your official mouthpiece: that they can rightfully be compared with those of the Meletian Schism of Alexandria. When our decisions are to your liking, then you take great joy and accept them; when they are disagreeable, then you discard them. But such behavior does not suit serious and maturely minded men, how much less for Bishops.

You call those of the Matthewite jurisdiction: schismatics. But examining the event which lead to the separation, we note that initially the Metropolitan of Florina Chrysostom and those with him, declared the innovating church of the New Calendarists as schismatic; as follows the canons concerning schismatics were placed in effect. After a while he changed views and declared that the danger of the Calendar consititutes an irregularity of sorts and not the cause of schism. Following this, bishop Matthew and those with him departed.

In time, bishop Matthew ordained alone bishops for bishoprics of Greece, always considering the offical church as schismatic. A few months after the repose of bishop Matthew, Bishop Chrysostom issued another official declaration where he considers the innovating church of the New Calendarists of Greece as schismatic and as a consequence her mysteries being invalid.

Thus, he who studies the aforementioned facts with objectivity concludes that: at least the Matthewite jurisdiction is ultimately justified as she never changed the view that she had initially formulated. On the contrary, the jurisdiction of the bishop Chrysostom is the one that changed her initial stance and after a thirty-year period returned to that position which the Matthewite jurisdiction had preserved from the outset. How then can the Matthewites be declared schismatics? But again, irrespective of what has been said and what has occurred during the past, are not both of you (now) in agreement with regards to the official Church of Greece? With the lapse of twenty years and more since the time when bishop Matthew ordained bishops for the Greek bishoprics, have you not recently stopped ordaining titular bishops and rather ordained bishops for the Greek bishoprics? Which points divide you today?

Your jurisdiction has not shown seriousness nor stability in her expositions and resolutions. Even more so – as if the divisions, accusations and confusions that were provoked by your ordinations in Greece last year weren’t enough, we observe that you have also transferred the same situation to this hemisphere through the ordination of bishop Akakios the younger in Montreal. Concerning this anticanonical deed, both the Archbishop of Montreal Vitaly and our Synod have written to you, but unfortunately in vain. You realize, dear brother, that a single anticanonical deed against one of our bishops is considered as such against all of our bishops, because it is a sin against the Church and it cannot be considered a simple local issue. The present situation of events saddens all of us.

Initially when I took part in the ordination of the late bishop Akakios, I did it in good faith, sincerely thinking that I was helping my Greek brethen. The same can be said about the motivations of our blessed Archbishop Leonty. The confusion, the divisions, the actions, accusations that have since arisen, I had never even suspected back then. Now I have come to appreciate and comprehend the fact that your bishop Chrysostom reposed without leaving successors. The outcome of events indicates that he was a deep conversant of individuals and events, thus not desiring to be responsible for the present sorrowful predicament. I made a mistake ordaining the bishop Akakios the elder as regards to the fact that I did not know well the individuals nor the real situation of events in the Greek Church.

“I do not write these things to shame you,” dear brother, according to the word of the Apostle Paul towards the Corinthians,” “but I admonish you” and offer the opportunity to reconsider certain opinions and that you correct those which need correction. With candor I write to you in such fashion for I happen to be more responsible than anyone else for your line of ordinations and thus admonish you not only as a brother, but also as a father. I take joy in the fact that even though many years have passed and I have advanced in age, I’m still alive and able to write to you the above.

Your brother in Christ,
Seraphim, Archbishop of Chicago and Detroit.