The English translation of the Synod in Resistance’s answer to our questions, entitled «Ecclesiological, Canonical, and Historical Clarifications of the Holy Synod in Resistance in Response to Questions from Ἐκκλησιαστικός» (formal document), was circulated in North America accompanied by an introductory note (informal document) authored by Bishop Auxentios of Photiki, auxiliary to Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna.
In his introductory note, Bishop Auxentios, noticeably irritated, tries to diminish the correspondence between Ekklisiastikos and the Synod in Resistance, exhibiting a blunt conceit toward Orthodox Christians, who in a spirit of good will and civility and observing the proper ethics and protocols, asked for clarification on a number of key points in connection with the recent dialogue between the Synod in Resistance and the Church of the G.O.C. of Greece. In this conceit of his, however, he diminishes his own Synod of Bishops in Greece. Consider his following characterization:
1. He characterizes every “theological argumentation among anti-ecumenists” as “shallow”, “superficial”, and “of no interest”, writing that this is one reason that his Elder (Archbishop Chrysostom of Etna) is uninterested in “meaningless questions” put forward by ignorant aggressive and arrogant individuals, thinking that giving an answer would simply be an exercise in antagonizing and ridiculing us “by confronting [Ekklisiastikos’] ignorance”.
Bishop Auxentios’ comments are unjust and mock even the Greek Bishops in Resistance in that not only did they devote an entire year (July 2009 – July 2010) to answer our “meaningless” questions, but also submitted their answers “to the judgment of the conscience of the Church”. In a contradictory vein, Bishop Auxentios considers these answers so important and full of “Patristic thinking and correct theological and canonical viewpoints” that he forwards them to his flock considering that they “will be edified and reinforced in [the resisters’] witness”. We, however, ask him: How is it possible to give such important and edifying answers to “meaningless questions”? And why did the Synod in Resistance not consider them as “meaningless” from the beginning, but instead published and even translated their response?
Bishop Auxentios—who claims to speak in the name of his “former professor” Elder—demonstrates, once more, his contempt of the dialogue between Ekklisiastikos and the Synod in Resistance in two more points:
2. He states that Ekklisiastikos is not seeking an “honest and sincere dialogue” but “warfare and polemics” and that our questions were put forth “in a spirit of superficiality … with astonishing arrogance and with shocking aggressiveness” and “for the sake of winning” among other things, while the answers of those in Resistance “are written in the spirit of the Fathers, with a "candid edge … but in a spirit of ‘tough love’ that honest, sincere people will respond to".
We would like to bring to Bishop Auxentios’ attention the fact that if the editorial team of Ekklisiastikos did not sincerely desire a fruitful dialogue, we would have abandoned the entire endeavor given the many delays on the part of the Synod of Resistance in replying to our correspondence. The truth is that we were patient for a whole year for the completion of the answers, having sent a second letter after the first denial by the Synod in Resistance to give answers. We persisted by sending reminders by e-mail after their promise to answer. We were careful to avoid hostile and diminishing characterizations, an attitude not reciprocated by some among the Synod in Resistance, who because of a lack of composure (and perhaps of arguments) were driven to make uncharitable characterizations of our efforts as “a superficial web of words and conjectures, hodgepodge of fixations, an arbitrary set of misnomers, arbitrariness, superficialities, misreadings, and sophistries, with a quasi-intellectual veneer and an unpardonable superficiality” as well as of our editorial team as “while informed, incapable of articulating or constructing a credible argument, never mind a theological argument”. Our sincere desire for a fruitful dialogue and unity in truth is clearly demonstrated in our patience and sober attitude, while the Synod in Resistance’s callous, unfeeling attitude toward the unity of the Church is manifested in the English translation of their response.
To all these the reader may add the recent disapproving characterizations of Bishop Auxentios and may conclude that the Synod in Resistance did not wish for a substantial and serious dialogue with the Church of the G.O.C. The reader may, thus, draw his own conclusion on whose “texts will inspire others to look to Patristics and the Gospel of love, and not to polemics, false logic and argumentation”.
3. Bishop Auxentios maintains that as in all the “exchanges between various traditionalist Orthodox groups” so too in this one, its purpose is “to pose as the winner, the most righteous churchman or layman, the champion of Orthodoxy and a guardian of the Faith” and “to find all of your opponents evil and heretical”. Let us remind Bishop Auxentios once more that Ekklisiastikos posed questions and asked for clarifications. If, in the future, we are called to answer, we will not defend the opinion (and thus the fame) of only one elder but rather Orthodox Ecclesiology expressed in the conciliar life of our Church; the same Church in which Metropolitan Cyprian was ordained and from which he broke away because of his personal ecclesiological opinion. Moreover, his modern successors still need to explain the reasons of “Faith and Justice” and the “blameworthy heresy” that forced Metropolitan Cyprian not only to break away and become a resistant but also to perform new ordinations and to form the “Synod in Resistance”. In this, though, the objective reader is able to more clearly discern who exactly is the one “posing as the winner, the most righteous churchman, the champion of Orthodoxy and a guardian of the Faith” and who wishes to demonstrate “the good Patristic thinking and the theological and canonical viewpoints” of the Genuine Orthodox Church.
We are dismayed by the reaction of Bishop Auxentios. If he characterizes our questions as “attacks”, how would he characterize any criticism of the ecclesiology of his Elder?
We recommend to our beloved readers to soberly read the documents, being careful not to be influenced by the Introductory Notes that want to poison the efforts of dialogue so as to judge objectively whether the Synod in Resistance adequately answered what we posed to them and whether they really answered anything in the selected points they made.
August 8/21, 2010.