In 1924 the Ecumenical Patriarch Meletius IV (Metaxakis) of Constantinople pushed through his will upon the Church of Greece and the jurisdiction of the EP regarding the adaptation of the papal Gregorian Calendar (colloquially referred to as the “New Revised Julian” Calendar). There was great oppossion to this calendar change. Against popular belief, this had nothing to do with mathematical and astronomical calculations. The subtext to Metaxakis’ reforms was to bring the Orthodox Church in line with “World Christianity” (i.e., the heterodox). Under this EP, there was an attempt to recognize Anglican priestly Orders. He was successful in getting the Orthodox Church involved in the Ecumenical Movement. Since the major tenant of Ecumenism is that all church bodies are equal and none superior to another it had since been considered a heresy by a minority of Orthodox Christians. The major objection to the calendar reform was (and remains) the fact that its adoption was unilateral not conciliar. The Church Calendar had been set for all time by the Council of Nicesa until another universally accepted Council make changes. But this was not the case. The Calendar Reform and the heresy of Ecumenism was forced upon the Greek people by both the State Church & the Socialist State of Greece. Noncompliance with these reforms became an act against the State. Like Arianism from inside the Church, Ecumenism & the Gregorian Calendar was championed by persecution, confiscation of sacred vessials, ikon desecrated, temples seized by the State and martyrdom occurred.
Much like the minority Athanasian Community against the majority Arians so too was the resistance by the minority “Old Calendar” Church of Greece against the majority Ecumenist who were also supported by the State government. Where else do we see this “hand in glove” cooperation between Church & State? In Russia, of course, there condemned as Sergianism. And still today, minority Russians are persecuted by State Powers at the direction of the MP. Who are being persecuted? Descendants of the Catacomb Church, Continuing ROCOR groups & the Orthodox Community that ROCOR itself had established in Russia prior to the 2007 Union with the MP. Not to mention, all the other minorities we all love for them to disappear (LBGTs, leftists of every shade, etc).
So, are the GOCs schismatics or canonical?
I had to work this out for myself years ago since in our contemporary environment it was, and continues to be, not so easily understood. Therefore, I offer you my simplest explanation. I hope those GOC Hierarchs and priests who are my Facebook friends will correct me where need be.
It has been said “Where there is a Bishop there too is the Church” (to paraphrase St Ignatius of Antioch). But in St Ignatius’ time comprehension of The Church and the Mystical Body of Christ was still being worked out.
A canonical Bishop is not a Bishop without a canonical Holy Synod.
A true Bishop must be…
1. Properly consecrated by 3 Hierarchs who themselves were properly consecrated according to the Sacred Canons. This establishes the bishop within the unbroken line of Apostolic Succession.
2. a faithful member of a vaild & true believing Holy Synod.
3. himself a true believing & true teaching Hierarch.
If anyone of these 3 criteria is missing the bishop and all within his See are non-canonical. The Holy Synod is responsible before the entire Church to preserve and teach the Patristic & Apostolic Faith. The Bishop must always conform to this Faith and is responsible to the Holy Synod he is a member. Neither the Synod nor any one of its member bishops may be joined to those who do not adhere to the True Faith.
Let’s examine the GOC situation back in the early 20th c.The Canonical Holy Synod of the State Church of Greece accepts the reforms of the heresiarch EP (Ecumenism & new calendarism). In response, 3 bishops of the State Church after preaching against these actions –unsuccessfully convincing their fellow Hierarchs, did separate themselves based on Sacred Canons. As true believing Hierarchs they reconstituted the Holy Synod of Greece in resistance to the errors of the State Church who by its acceptance of error self-excommunicated. This resistance was hoped to be a temporary action until the other Hierarchs in the State Church repented of their errors.
The State Church never repented from it’s adaptation of Ecumenism and the “new” calendar. These innovations had spread to the Alexandrian Patriarchate, eventually the majority or mainstream Orthodox.
That is the State we find ourselves still today. The EP has continued to support the Masonic agenda of Meletius IV (Metaxakis) ever since. While Ecumenism and Sergianism is alive and well in the ROC-MP. For those who will claim the Orthodox Church has stopped its participation in Ecumenism one must recognize that theological syncretism is part of the heresy of Ecumenism. In some way “World Orthodoxy” remains compromised. The Genuine Orthodox Christians are the cure for the canonical ills the Church as a whole faces.
Hieromonk Šim’on Of Syracuse.