INTERVIEW WITH HIS BEATITUDE THE ARCHBISHOP OF ATHENS
AND ALL GREECE OF THE TRUE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH
1. Please, tell about the present state of your Church: how many
eparchies, monasteries and parishes do you have and in what
The statistical data you request can be found in detail in the
annual almanac issued by our Holy Synod. In summary, I can tell you
that our Holy Synod has 10 bishops in Greece and two in America.
Under the Holy Synod there are around 180 parishes and 85
monasteries which are served by around 145 clerics in Greece and
abroad. Abroad we have a presence in North America and some European
countries. Our clerics are insufficient in number to meet the needs
of our flock and many of them serve in more than one parish.
2. Do you have any contacts with other True-Orthodox Churches?
We were in dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
Following the schism which occurred within that Church there has
been no progress and we have a `wait and see' attitude until the
situation becomes clearer. Theological dialogue with the Matthewites
was also terminated due to their own internal problems.
3. What differentiates your synod from other Greek True Orthodox
Churches? Could you please explain the reasons of your recent
division with the Synod of Metropolitan Kallinikos? Do you see any
possibility of re-union with them?
There are no other local Churches in the same area. We are the True
Orthodox Church of Greece from which the Matthewites, the
Auxentiites, the Cyprianites, and the supporters of Kallinikos
(Chaniotis) broke away.
We have no substantive difference on matters of faith with the
Matthewites. There is - in my opinion - only a difference in
mentality. We look upon them with a friendly eye but the unfortunate
thing is that they do not do the same withus and they are extremely
fanatical. Following their internal splits they have become
extremely weakened and I do not consider that they have a future.
With the Cyprianites we have differences on ecclesiological matters.
We condemn the theory of the `Mother Church" as put forward by
Cyprian and his supporters in the New Calendarist Church. The
Cyprianites have no real influence in Greece. Their flock are mostly
New Calendarists. However, they do have good `public relations',
which is something which we lack.
The Auxentiites in Greece have split among themselves to a great
extent and the remaining few are tending towards extinction.
The supporters of Kallinikos (Chaniotis) of Lamia are another case.
They broke away from our Church in 1995 without there being any
dispute over dogma. In their declaration the then 6 bishops cited
two issues: the manner in which the case of the then Metropolitan of
Thessaloniki, Efthymios, was handled for canonical offences and the
review of the Paisos - Vikentios case, who had renounced our Church
going over to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and later returning
under agonizing conditions. Those were the reasons for their
secession in 1995 and the Synod deposed them. However, God has
condemned those who broke away, resulting in many internal splits
among themselves. Two of them, the Metropolitans of Chios (Stefanos)
and Evripos (Justinos) returned having repented, and having been
rehabilitated, were re-admitted into the Church, and are again
members of our Holy Synod.
Another two, Paisos and Vikentios, betrayed their faith and went
over to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, accepting re-ordination.
That being a sign of the condemnation and abandonment of God.
The remaining two, Kallinikos (Chaniotis) and Efthymios (Orfanos)
began performing ordinations and formed an anti-Synod and anti-
Church. They gathered all the unruly clerics in order to give an
appearance of power. It is for this reason their annual almanac
includes all our parishes and monasteries to hide their own
smallness. In reality they have a handful of followers. In relation
to the matter of `re-union' as you call it, we do not put it like
that. Our Church is not divided. Whoever left from under its wing
can return having repented. The door of repentance always remains
4. What is your opinion about the present canonical state of ROCOR
and ROAC? Do you think that True Orthodoxy is represented in Russia?
We consider that following the imposition of Communism on Russia the
True Orthodox Church of Russia is represented by the ROCA abroad and
by the Church of the Catacombs in Russia. For the last 15 years the
situation has become extremely complicated and great confusion
reigns. We here in Greece, are having so many problems to face, have
not been involved to the extent that perhaps we should be, in
examining the situation in Russia. For this reason we cannot give a
categorical answer to your question. What we are sure of is that in
Greece the True Orthodox Church is represented by our Church. Beyond
that we cannot add anything.
5. The churches of "World Orthodoxy" have now withdrawn their
participation in the Ecumenical movement. Several official churches
have already left the World Council of Churches. The Moscow
Patriarchate is also preparing for this step. Is it accurate to say
that World Orthodoxy is slowly breaking with its heretical faith and
is slowly self-purifying?
Your question is hypothetical. We have no indications to be so
optimistic. I wish they would all return to True Orthodoxy. It would
be our great joy. In relation to the process of self-purifying about
which you speak, our opinion is that if the official Orthodox
Churches returned to True Orthodoxy their canonical rehabilitation
should be done via a Pan-Orthodox Synod which would vindicate the
confessors of the faith and in which the entire body (if possible)
of Orthodox Bishops upholding our traditions would participate, also
with the participation of repentant bishops, who in the presence of
the former would declare their repentance just like the Iconoclasts
at the 7th Ecumenical Synod.
6. How possible is it, from your point of view, is a break between
the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarchate? Will it be
useful for Orthodoxy?
This question is also hypothetical. If the schism had occurred for
matters of faith, namely the return to True Orthodoxy and the
renunciation of Ecumenism, clearly it would be positive for
Orthodoxy. However we do not see any such thing on the horizon.
7. The present head of New-Calendarist Greek Church, Archbishop
Christodulos, is known as a "conservative". Does it influence the
popularity of New-Calendarists in Greece and has it caused the
reduction of Old-Calendarists?
Your information is probably not correct. Christodoulos is not
considered `conservative,' not even by the New Calendarists. On the
contrary he is considered a `reformer' who wants to impose
functional innovations and who recognizes the Pope as Bishop of Rome
welcoming him to Athens.
The conservative New Calendarists are highly critical of him, lead
by two priests, university professors, Father Georgios Metallinos
and Father Theodoros Zisis. We are not aware of any Old Calendarist
who became a New Calendarist due to the attractive influence of
Archishop Christodoulos! Anything but.
8. What do you think about the process Greece's integration of into
the European Union? What spiritual dangers does this process present
for True Orthodox Christians?
The risk of deconsecration lurks at all times either inside or
outside the European Union. Our effort lies in building up the true
faith of our followers. When the faithful are vaccinated with the
spiritual anti-bodies of True Orthodoxy, when they are living
members of our Church, then they can withstand any pestiferous
environment. No one can harm our soul if we do not betray it
ourselves. Spiritual alertness is required.