With a majestic divine service on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross, 23 March, at the Monastery of St Nicholas in Paiania on the outskirts of Athens, the argreement of union was confirmed between the Greek TOC on one side, presided over by the Archbishop of Athens and Greece, Kallinikos, and on the other side the now-defunct Synod ''in Resistance'' (Cyprianites), the Romanian TOC presided over by Met. Vlasie of Slatioara, the Bulgarian TOC presided over by Bishop Photios of Triadia, and the jurisdiction under Met. Agathangel which claims to be the sole canonical inheritor of the fallen Russian Church Abroad.
This union is the result of long theological dialogues between the Kallinikites and the Cyprianites. As far as we understand at this point, based on the information we have, the Cyprianites have essentially renounced the heretical teaching of their teacher and founder, the reposed Metropolitan Cyprian Kotsumbas - that the ''healthy” (i.e. the Orthodox) and “ailing” (i.e., the heretics) co-exist in the Church - explaining that this teaching was their elder’s personal theological thinking – a mere theologumenon, which they have now put aside. On 21 March, the GOC and the bishops formerly of the “Synod in Resistance” signed a joint Orthodox Confession of Faith entitled "The True Orthodox Church in Opposition to the Heresy of Ecumenism: Dogmatic and Canonical Issues"and made the resolution to unite into one administrative structure; that is, the former SiR bishops have submitted to the authority of the GOC Synod under Abp. Kallinikos and have become members of the one, united GOC Synod.
The resolution of the bishops of the former SiR was supported by the Churches which until now have been in spiritual communion with them: the Churches of Romania and Bulgaria, along with the Russian group under Metropolitan Agathangel.
This unquestionably historical event brought great joy to the majority of True Orthodox throughout the whole world (in Greece they called this event a Pascha before Pascha), and hope for the beginning of the process of unification of all True Orthodox, which after so many gloomy decades of the splintering and fragmenting of True Orthodoxy, in any case foreshadows a brighter future of the strengthening of the position of the True Orthodox on the battleground with apostate official Orthodoxy.
Of course, there are those who are very sharply criticizing this move of the Greek TOC with Archbishpo Kallinikos at the head, accusing Her of lacking in principle, and that with this condescension to the Cyprianites they have abandoned the eccesiological position of their Confession of the Faith which they held until now, proclaimed in the documents of 1935, 1974, and 1991.
The “hard line”zealots perceive serious decadence of True Orthodoxy in this event and a fatal passing of oeconomia into paranomia (lawlessness). Furthermore, general suprise and various assumptions were especially caused by the ease with which Archbishop Kallinikos, until now the representative of the Matthewite line in the Greek TOC, passed over his former convictions. Was it from a sincere desire for the attainment of this great unification of True Orthodox, or for the sake of his own glory as the great uniter and protector of True Orthodoxy?
The two most important and most numerous True Orthodox Churches, the Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC) presided over by Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk and Siberia, and the Russian Orthodox Autonomos Church (ROAC) - the Suzdal Synod - presided over by Met. Theodore, have still not made a statement about this event.
We asked His Grace Bishop Akakije to make public his stance on the Kallinikos-Cyprianite unification for our ''Serbian True Orthodox'' blog. In His Grace's words, though due to the rapidity of events his personal stance on this unification has not yet crystalised, in principle it is positive. He considers that with this act, the extremes of Cyprianism and Matthewism which have brought great harm to True Orthodoxy until now have finally been abandoned.
He is especially pleasantly suprised by the change in stance of Archbishop Kallinikos on the matter of validity of the use of ecclesiastical oeconomia, his denial of which was once the main obstacle in the process of entry into communion of the Greek TOC with the Russian TOC of Archbishop Tikhon. Bishop Akakije, on the other hand, does find fault with the questionable canonicity of the Synod of Metropolitan Agathangel in relation to the True Churches of Russian origin, the RTOC and ROAC. The hasty and unconsidered reception into communion of Agathangel, Bishop Akakije states, could complicate the future discussions concerning the Greek, Romanian, Bulagarian TOC’s entering into communion with the Churches above mentioned, which will themselves sometime in the near future surely unite into a powerful unified Russian TOC, without which a Great Council of the True Orthodox Church would be incomplete, whose summoning was mentioned in the document referred to above, the joint ecclesiological statement of the newly united Churches, entitled "The True Orthodox Church in Opposition to the Heresy of Ecumenism: Dogmatic and Canonical Issues". Metropolitan Agathangel surely cannot represent the Russian Church Abroad nor the True Orthodox Church in Russia. Bishop Akakije hopes that the Greek hierarchs are keeping this in mind.
The great unification of the True Orthodox into a strong and united front, Bishop Akakije continues, in any case demands concessions. Without concessions this complex and important process would never move forward, and it would be difficult ever to attain the unification of those who fight for the purity of Holy Orthodoxy against the heresy of ecumenism, the apostasy of sergianism, and the new calendar schism.
The hierarchs of the Greek TOC with Archbishop Kallinikos at their head understood this, Bishop Akakije concludes, and thus they should be supported.
The editors of the SerbianTO blog