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Address by PhD Dimitrios Tselengidis

 

Address by PhD Dimitrios Tselengidis to Hierarchs of Greek Orthodox Church

 

ARISTOTLE UNIVERSITY OF THESSALONIKI

FACULTY OF THEOLOGY

SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

DEPARTMENT OF DOGMATIC THEOLOGY

PROFESSOR DIMITRIOS TSELENGIDIS

 

 

TO: Holy Synod of Bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church

Sent to: All Hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church

 

    Your Beatitude esteemed Chairperson,

    Your Graces,

 

    Having observed with a deep sense of responsibility the current situation of the Church of our time, I would like, both as a mere believer and as a University Professor of Dogmatic Theology, to humbly address You since You are the highest Governing body of our Greek local Church.

    The purpose of my sending this letter to You has come as a result of my recent discussions with some of the Metropolitans[1].

    I asked them a clear question, whether the Greek Orthodox Church at the session of the Holy Assembly had considered and taken a clear attitude toward the primacy of the Pope theme that was going to be worked on at the forthcoming two-sided theology dialogue. They answered they knew nothing about it. Thus, I judge it appropriate to write to You the following.

    A meeting of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church is to be held in Cyprus in October this year, a meeting possibly the most fateful so far. The resulting document of the meeting will  have decisive significance for further relationship between both sides in the dialogue, therefore I consider it to be my duty to request You politely to call as soon as possible a special session of the Holy Assembly of the Bishops in order to carefully discuss the theme of the forthcoming Theological Dialogue.

    The Joint International Commission will primarily be working on «the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church» ( viz. the Ravenna document, paragraph 45). I humbly believe that if our respected Hierarchy discusses the theme on theological basis and takes a clear attitude toward it, our representatives of the Joint Commission will greatly affect the final forming of the common document that will be released at the end of the Joint International Commission gathering. That is the very way for our Hierarchy to act promptly and preventatively. If it happens to come to possible theological and ecclesiastical failures in the document, a matter that could possibly compromise our representative at the Joint Commission, our Hierarchy is dutyfull to act healingly, condemning them (the failures) afterwards.

    In addition, let me express in short terms my personal theological attitude toward the issue. The planned «as more studious as possible» the theological debate over the Pope's primacy, is methodologically premature and contradictory in its very sense. Why? Because according to theological and patristic teachings, a theological dialogue about the essential dogmatic distinctions between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics should precede. Filioque, the infallibility of the Pope, and created Grace - all wrong they continue to support. These dogmatic fallacies display the real identity of the Roman Catholicism baring it its ecclesiology and mysteriology, and depriving the Church of its primar character of «theosis» of a human.

    Not until the Orthodox and Catholic dogmatic teachings become identical, can a dialogue about governing the Church follow. According to the spirit and decisions of Ecumenical Synods, the main doctrinal distinction between the Orthodox and the Catholics replaces the Catholics outside the Church, a matter that has been empirically confirmed by a millenium year time interruption of their communal sacramental communication.

    The resulting question comes: how we could rationally discuss with the Roman Catholics the institutional status of somebody (the Pope) in the Church, while he is, both essentially and officially, outside the Church?

    Let me remind You of the doubtless historical truth: the Church during its first millenium never acknowledged the primacy of authority and power over the whole world to the bishop of Rome. The primacy of authority and power has always belonged not to a single person but to Ecumenical Synods.

    After all, the Orthodox Church has never recognised the Pope's primacy the way it was explained and recognised at the First Vatican Council whose attendants proclaimed the Pope to be the infalliable interpreter of the Church's conscience, so far as being contradictory to the decisions made at Ecumenical Synods. In other words, the Pope with his «infalliability» and demanding primacy of power over the whole Church - has self-willingly replaced the Spirit of Truth.

    As a result, the Pope's primacy of power then erases not only the joint system of governing the Church but also the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

    Respected our Bishops, by what I has written above I wanted to tell how worried I was about the forthcoming Joint International Theological Dialogue and to express my theological judgement of the issue in short terms.

    Let us hope that the Holy Spirit that guides the ship of the Church into all truth should express Itself through You because it pleased the Holy Trinity God that His Church should function both institutionally and communally.

 

I most respectfully

kiss Your hand

Dimitrios Tselengidis

the Professor of the Faculty of Theology

at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

 

(Translated from Greek by bishop ARTEMIJE)

 

[1] It is important to know that in the Greek Orthodox Church all Diocesan Bishops are titled as Metropolitans, and only Vicars are titled as Bishops.

 

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