Epistle to Pope Francis

Has anyone read the open “Epistle to Pope Francis Concerning His Past, the Abysmal State of Papism, and a Plea to Return to Holy Orthodoxy” by Orthodox Metropolitans Seraphim of Piraeus and Andrew of Dryinoupolis? An Orthodox Christian forwarded it on to a Catholic friend of mine who forwarded to me. It made me stick to my stomach. It reminded me of fundamentalist Protestant anti-Catholic tracts. It explicitly refuses to address the Holy Father as a bishop, referring to him only as the “chief of state of the Vatican”, states in no uncertain terms that the Catholic Church is not in any sense a true Church but a “religious community” poisoning the world with untold heresies (of which they include a long list, such as the use of unleavened bread and “Mary idolatry”)…they also state that they will now acknowledge our use of the title “Catholic” and instead call us “papists”. After seeing how great ecumenical relations have been between Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate this last year, this was very disheartening. How wide spread are these ideas within Orthodoxy? The Catholic magisterium holds the Orthodox in the highest regards and sees only a few doctrinal issues that are, at the end of the day, true barriers. I know Orthodoxy doesn’t tend to agree with that assessment and tends to see a much longer list of doctrinal barriers…but to go to the extreme that these two Metropolitans do?

I don’t know if the quotes are real, but there are fundamentalists and extremists in every branch of Christianity including our own Catholic Church. There are many out there that don’t want the ‘Body of Christ’ reunited, unless it looks exactly like the form of Christianity they profess. Sad!

I could be wrong, but I think it has made an appearance on this forum.

GKC

Yes, but these are hierarchs of the Orthodox church (if this is true) and they are addressing their letter to our POPE, i.e., imagine a bishop or archbishop of our Church doing the same (today), i.e., addressing a letter to the patriarch of Constantinople in such disrespectful and derogatory terms. :eek:

It’s unfortunate, but not all of our bishops have been sterling leaders ever. Stuff happens.

True, it almost sounds like a series of quotes that would have come from the ‘Westboro Baptist Church’. :shrug:

Obviously, but this is not the kind of “stuff” one would expect today.

It is exactly what I expect today. Satan is waging war and has won many battles, the attacks on the Pope, Mother Mary and the Catholic Church as a whole will only get more fierce. The Deceiver is far from done but he will not prevail.

This has nothing to do with contemporary anti-Catholicism in the West. This is Byzantine prejudice that dates back at least a thousand years to the Great Schism. It also isn’t an attack on the Mother of God, who the Orthodox revere, but rather an unfounded attack on the way in which we Catholics honour her.

Can anyone vouch for the authenticity of this letter? I can’t tell if it was really written by the ones by whom it appears to be written. I mean, is it a hoax?

The letter can be found on theorthodoxchurch.info… no idea who runs that particular site. It is also on orthodoxinfo.com. I obtained it from an Orthodox Christian.

My summary in the OP was actually pretty generous. The letter gets a lot worse - here is one particularly disturbing quote:

We reiterate that there exists a total absence of spirituality in Papism. We are not talking
about a “Church,” but a worldly organization that is, at its best moments, a religion – one
of many world religions, which is interested in fulfilling nothing more than the base
psychological-spiritual urges of its followers. Christ’s true Church is neither a worldly
organization nor is it a religion…

As others have noted, there are radicals in every group…but these are bishops. I continue to hold Orthodoxy in the highest regard, as does the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and I continue to be warmed by the ongoing good relations between Rome and Constantionple… but this still makes me sick.

I would seriously question whether such words came from orthodox bishops.

after all, orthodox bishops are members of an organizational hierarchy.

Not in the same sense catholic bishops are. These are from the two Metropolitans Andrew of Dryinoupolis, Pogoniani and Konitsa and Seraphim of Piraeus and Faliro.

vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/world-news/detail/articolo/ortodossi-ortodoxa-orthodox-francesco-francisco-francis-33491/

One of the signatories is new to these kinds of actions but this time the mile-long letter (89 whole pages of it) sent to Pope Francis by two Metropolitans of the Greek Orthodox Church - Andrew of Dryinoupolis, Pogoniani and Konitsa and Seraphim of Piraeus and Faliro – has been published in Greek and English on a popular Greek religious website.

The two Greek Metropolitans address the Pope as “His Excellency, Francis, Head of State of the Vatican City”, making no mention of his Bishop status. In the opening line of their missive they state that their letter is addressed to him with “sincere love” and motivated by the need to remind “heretics” of their “holy obligation to return to the Orthodox Church” which the “Pope” (whose title appears in quotation marks throughout the text) decided to detach himself from. The authors of the letter separate themselves (though they really need not have, it is obvious) from “western and especially ecumenist “Christianity””, branding Rome’s “heresy” and “spiritual and ecclesiastical delusion” as “Papism”. The two Greek bishops say they “unceasingly pray that our Lord Jesus Christ gather together the deluded “Pope” and his followers, through repentance and the renunciation of your delusion and heresy, into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church.”

The letter appears on several Orthodox sites. Orthodox bishops are answerable to the holy synod of their particular Church, but it is not likely that they would be “disciplined” for something like this. The Orthodox Church is very much split on its approach towards Catholicism. The approach of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch and these two Greek metropolitans is night and day…

The letter is authentic. It’s certainly no harsher than other statements I’ve read from Orthodox saints and bishops or many recent statements from Mouth Athos. You have to understand there is a tremendous amount of diversity when it comes to Orthodox beliefs about Catholicism. Beliefs run the gamut from believing that the Pope is the true Patriarch of Rome, that Catholic priests are true priests and that their sacraments are grace filled; to believing that the Pope is just a layman, as are all Catholic clergy and that Catholics sacraments are devoid of any grace. In my personal experience most believers fall somewhere in the middle trending toward the former. For example my priest recommended that a wife convert to Catholicism to be with the family because the husband would not consider Orthodoxy. He did that in good conscience because he believes the Catholic Church is a true Church. Of course you have hard liners such as these bishops who believe the opposite.

As to the question of respect I do believe the Pope is a bishop. I would ask for his blessing and kiss his hand just like any Orthodox bishop. That being said I would never call the female head of the Episcopal Church a “bishop” as an example. It has nothing to do with lack of respect and everything to do with obeying my conscience. So for an Orthodox bishop to refuse to address the Pope as a bishop has nothing to do with disrespect and everything to do with them staying true to their deeply held convictions.

Friend, I appreciate what you are saying, and I feel the same in regards to Episcopalian bishops…that being said, what these Metropolitans are saying goes far beyond what I would ever say in regards to the Episcopalians. I accept even the most liberal of Episcopalians as fellow Christians, even if their church is not a true Church from a Catholic perspective…and I would never, ever say that they are devoid of spirituality, as these Metrpolitans claim “papism” is, or force a derogatory title such as “papism” upon them in lieu of their true name. The only comparison, as I noted in my original post, is the extreme anti-Catholicism of certain fundamentalist Protestants. I continue to greatly admire the Byzantine tradition and continue to hold Orthodoxy in the highest regard…and I would gladly kiss the hands of these Metropolitans, for the Catholic Church recognizes their apostolic succession…but what they write is not only factually incorrect in numerous places (e.g. the accusation of Mary worship), and historically absurd in other places (condemning as heresy Latin practices that long predate the Great Schism), but incredibly insulting and demeaning.

I’m sorry that you are insulted. I’m quite sure that was not the intention. I think in some cases it’s just a matter of us using very different definitions. By saying you are devoid of spirituality they are simply referring to your form of Church governance being centered on the pope and all of the consequences of that. It’s difficult to explain in a forum post honestly. I also suspect that there is quite a bit lost in the translation from Greek to English. As I’m sure you know Greek is a much more nuanced language.

This letter contains numerous conspiracy theories, the most notable being that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resigned due to the sex abuse scandal in the RCC. These bishops are lying through their teeth when they say this, and it discredits this entire letter and any claim one could make about them being sincere.

Another choice quote:

Truly, Your Excellency, what good can you possibly offer to the Orthodox, you who are the chosen Jesuit “Pope” of the Jews, of the Rabbis, of the masons, of the dictators, of
America, of Ecumenism, of Pan-religion, of the “New Age of Aquarius,” and of the
“New World Order”?

:rolleyes:

Honestly I’m rather glad I found a nice Eastern Orthodox lady’s vlog on youtube because up until now the image of the Eastern Orthodox I’ve had from meeting them or reading their writings (such as this letter) has been entirely negative.

How many Orthodox do personally know? If the answer is none then you should have enough sense not to judge people based on the internet. We all know google is never wrong. :shrug:

None IRL. Heck I don’t even know any Catholics my age, beyond cultural Catholics. :frowning:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.