THE BALAMAND AGREEMENT. A DUBIOUS "KINSHIP"
"Latins are not only schismatics, they are heretics as well.
Therefore we simply cannot unite with them."
St. Mark of Ephesus
"It's a small flock that has not a black sheep" -- says a proverb. In an ecumenical "family" -- all are black sheep with the stamp of Judas Iscariot on them.What can one say about Australian Archbishop Stylianos (Patriarchate of Constantinople), who blasphemes the Holy Spirit in his sermon maintaining that "the individual and even the whole Church has never received the gifts of the Spirit sufficiently" and that "this is precisely why the well known characteristics of the Church, being "one, holy, catholic and apostolic" remain until the day of the Parousia both gifts and postulates at the same time" ?!.
Archbishop Stylianos, along with the other ecumenists of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, participated in the scandalously lawless and anticanonical "Council" which has condemned Patriarch Diodorus of Jerusalem for being "too Orthodox" for them. The "Robber Synod" of the Phanar made bold to prohibit two Archbishops of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem -- Timothy of Lidda and Hesychios of Capitola -- and to "cut off from the Body of the Church" layman Nicholas Sotiropulos.
This famous theologian has thus commented on his "excommunication": "the Bishops of the so called Highest and Full Synod of Phanar have rendered me, Orthodox theologian and opponent of heretics, honor and glory." The main reason for his "excommunication" Sotiropulos sees in his "denunciation of frightful
heresies of Archbishop Stylianos of Australia, who preaches Christ's participation in sin (who apart from an antichristians could be capable of this? - L.P.), who maintains that the notorious film by Kazantzakis and Scorcese "The Last Temptation", portraying our Lord as a debauchee, contains no blasphemy, who declares that Orthodoxy and Papism are in no way different and constitute one Church; that man has descended from an ape; and that Holy Scripture is a great fabrication!.. "
Orthodox ecumenists are accustomed to betrayal, it has become their second nature, and is no longer experienced as a tragedy. And it is natural: frequent meetings and friendship with heretics of various persuasions could not but result in the clouding of mind and mutation of conscience. It is not for nothing that Holy Scripture, all Teachers of the Church and all Ecumenical Councils instructed Orthodox Christians to shun those of a different disposition of mind and not to associate with them. Saint Anthony the Great was frank about it when saying that a "friendship and discourse with heretics harm the soul" and advised to avoid any communication with them. The great Abba taught: "When you meet a man, who for the love of argument enters into contention with you against what is true and obvious, stop arguing and keep away from him for his mind has become petrified. Because just as putrid water affects one's stomach, so the wicked discourses corrupt the mind and the heart". The Holy Apostle Paul forewarns that "evil communications corrupt good manners" (1 Cor. 15,33), and the 2nd Rule of the Council of Antioch instructs: "If anyone... should appear to be communing with those who have been excluded from communion, he too is to be excluded from communion." The tragedy which took place in June of 1993 in Balamand (Northern Lebanon, near Tripoli) officially known as the Seventh Plenary Session of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue Between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church was being prepared in all secrecy for a long time. In Balamand the "Orthodox" have for the first time officially accepted the "branch theory" and by refusing to confess the Orthodox Church as being Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, they actually repudiated the Creed.
In the course of its 1000-year history the Latin Church has persistently tried to impose itself on the Orthodox world. And wherever perfidy and stratagem failed, the Vatican resorted to fire and sword. "Lacking the power of life to attract the mind, the heart, and the will of man to follow it voluntarily, the Catholic faith" according to Saint John of Kronstadt, "can entice the right-thinking people only by force and deceit".
The Vatican diplomacy is very pliant, it knows how to bide its time and how to pretend to be losing and making concessions. This was also the case in Balamand: having declared Uniatism to be the method no longer effective, the Vatican has neither lost, nor sacrificed anything. On the contrary, Balamand made its dreams come true; there the Vatican managed to achieve that which the Crusaders of old and later the Papist diplomats in the Unitarian Councils in Lion (1274), Ferrara and Florence (1438-1439) failed to do.
The Orthodox Theological School of St. John Damascene at the ancient (12th century) monastery of the Mother of God of Balamand accommodated 24 representatives of the Vatican and 14 Orthodox representatives from the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Moscow, and Rumania, and also from the Churches of Cyprus, Poland, Albany, and Finland, altogether -- 9 out of 15 Local Orthodox Churches. Co-chairmen of this conference were Cardinal Edward Cassidy and the afore-mentioned Archbishop Stylianos of Australia. This meeting resulted in the endorsement of the document "Uniatism, Method for Union in the Past, and the Present Search for Full Communion", which has made history under the name of the "Balamand Union".
The communique published in Episkepsis 325 (of 23 July, 1993) reads: "In the spirit of the ecclesiology of communion and because of the fact that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches recognize each other as Sister Churches, it was observed that, in the effort to reestablish unity, it is a question of achieving together the will of Christ for those who are His disciples and the design of God for His Church, by means of a common search for full agreement in faith, and not a question of seeking the conversion of persons from one Church to the other. This latter type of missionary activity, which has been called "Uniatism", cannot be accepted either as a method to follow, or as a model for the unity which is being sought by our Churches".
But what is the meaning of this communique translated from the "Babylonian language"? As things stand, one of the reasons for the conference in Balamand was the ever-growing and very understandable concern of Orthodox population in connection with the spread of Uniatism which followed the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Vatican's attempts to convert to Catholicism the people who have just shaken off the yoke of communism. This is why both this text and the text of the Agreement itself, making use of its language of "minitruth", aims at appeasing, or to be more precise, lulling the vigilance of Orthodox people by "censuring" Uniatism and declaring it to be an outdated method.
It is worthy of attention that the Balamand Agreement condemned any missionary activity, in other words, "it denies Orthodoxy and preaches agreement with the heterodox, which in actual fact is super-Uniatism (our emphasis - L.P.) The purpose of this stratagem is to confuse the concepts of Apostolic mission and Uniatism. As it is well known, Uniatism is nothing but the Papists' method characterized by two principles: 1) all means are justified for converting people to Catholicism (economic aid, etc.); 2) converts may keep their rites and customs, provided they fully accept the Papist doctrine. In other words, Uniatism is a "fraudulent method, like sailing under an alien flag".
Moreover, one should take into account the completely different understanding of unity by Catholics and the Orthodox. "For Catholics the return to unity means the return to submission to the Pope, and at this point ecumenism, proselytism, or Uniatism are only various means of achieving the same object (see the decree on ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio of the Second Vatican Council, Ch. 1,4). Thus, a verbal condemnation of one or another method is not binding, and what is more, it does not prevent one from accomplishing one's task locally."
The situation is altogether different with Orthodoxy. "The true Orthodox may decline missionary activity only when he ceases to be Orthodox. He perceives return to unity as a return of any person, as a conversion of any heterodox person to the true faith. By substituting an abstract search for unity for conversion, ecumenism has fulfilled (in Balamand - L.P.) its task: it made the Orthodox renounce Orthodoxy. There remains one question: what sort of union is espoused by the members of these Sister-Churches?!".
Right at the very beginning (Paragraph 6) the Balamand document contains a historical-ecclesiological lie, which has been spread by the Latins from the Middle Ages on -- the notorious "schism of the Churches". This radically incorrect expression, imposed by the Vatican, has, unfortunately, become a rather commonly used (especially amongst lay people) definition of Rome's falling away in 1054 from the Ecumenical Church, which had excommunicated, i.e. anathematized Rome, because of the Latin distortion of the Creed. According to St. Mark of Ephesus this was something which no heretic has ever dared to do.
In the devious times that we live in every Orthodox person should have sound knowledge of the fact that the Church, being the Body of Christ, cannot be divided, just as Jesus Christ our Lord cannot be divided; according to the Creed it is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Those who are incompatible with its immutable holiness can fall away from it, as was the case with the Arians, Monophysites, Monothelites, Iconoclasts, Latins and other heretics who fell away from the Holy Church on account of their heresies. The "trained" Orthodox theologians (as Bishop Maximus of Pittsburg has encouragingly called them) surely knew these rudiments. Having endorsed the formulation concerning "the division between the Churches" which is alien to Orthodoxy, do they indeed, assume that they have remained "faithful to the Lord's commandments", as this Paragraph 6 suggests?!
One of the main reasons, or even the basis of the Balamand Agreement became the erroneous opinion, accepted by many Orthodox schools, about the preservation of Apostolic succession by the Papists who had fallen away from the Church. Hence also the recognition of Latin sacraments. In his historical -- theological and convincingly well-founded article "Agreement between Orthodox and Catholics" containing a brief and remarkably clear analysis of the notorious "schism", Archpriest Prof. John Romanides proves the groundlessness of the Balamand Agreement.
This Agreement is primarily based on the change of ecclesiology which took place after the Second Vatican Council and the "Pan-Orthodox" ecumenical conferences, where a transition was made from the self-affirmation of each Church that it is the only preserve of salvation to the conviction that both Churches are Sister Churches. Affirmation by the "Orthodox" of such close "kinship" with the Papists who never repented of their age-old heresies and errors, only testifies to their disgraceful capitulation. However, ecumenists do their best in trying to convince themselves and others that "such a change of position has opened the way to the dialogue of love, truth and sincerity" (our emphasis - L.P.). For the Papists, on the other hand, the set expression "Sister Churches", along with the theology of "two lungs" and "dual tradition" -- is not only an expression of ecumenic kindness, but also an essentially new instrument of the ecumenical-ecclesiological policy by means of which Rome could de facto oppose the abolition of Uniatism. During the ecumenical service in Dec. 7, 1991, Pope John Paul II said: "Catholicism and Orthodoxy actually constitute two lungs of the Christian heritage of the United Europe" . Cardinal Silvestrini reiterated the above: "The Church of Christ breathes with its two lungs, the Eastern and the Western", and in his speech "The Heritage of the Eastern Churches -- an essential element in the fullness of Christian Heritage" before the Synod in Rome (Dec. 1991), he advanced the arguments according to which "the existence of the Eastern rite Churches (i.e. Uniate - L.P.) within the Catholic Church is indispensable".
When speaking of this "theology of the two lungs" we feel like quoting a graphic description of apostatic deviations of ecumenical Orthodox Churches, especially of the Moscow Patriarchate, which "during the recent decades has been undergoing a heart transplant operation, successful at last, it seems... Life has apparently returned... even consciousness and memory have remained. Missing is only the awareness that it is now an alien heart that beats in the chest. As to everything else, almost no external damages are visible; an effort is made to remove them as soon as possible... Grant us, o Lord, to die with our own heart within us!.."
Formulas produced by the reduced Joint Commission for the Dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholics in Vienna (Jan. 1990) and Freising (June 1990), and then in Ariccia, Rome (June 1991) are almost literally repeated in the Balamand Agreement. Such, for instance, is its Paragraph 7, which insists: "In the course of centuries various attempts were made to reestablish unity. These attempts sought to achieve this end through different courses, including conciliar ones... Unfortunately none of these efforts succeeded in reestablishing full communion between the Church of the West and the Church of the East, and at times even made resistance more acute." (our emphasis - L.P.)
How tangible in this verbal subterfuge is the school of Machiavelli, the inspirer of political insidiousness, but even more so -- of the father of every insidiousness and lies -- the devil!
Under the "conciliar means" the authors of the above text probably understand, first of all, the Council of Florence of 1439, when the Unia was signed with the aim of first absorbing and subsequently annihilating Orthodoxy. Eleven years later this Unia was anathematized by the Orthodox Council in Constantinople thanks to the efforts of Saint Mark of Ephesus, a true confessor of faith.
It is quite possible that the Vatican considers the fraudulent Unia of Brest in 1596 also as a "conciliar course". This Unia began an open persecution of Orthodoxy and was accompanied by mass killing and violence against the Orthodox population in the Polish-Lithuanian state and in South West Russia. In any event, Uniatism of the so called "Eastern Church", this brain child of Jesuits, which for 400 years has been tirelessly accomplishing its pernicious task of tearing the traditionally Orthodox populations from the faith of their fathers, although declared to be an "outdated method of unification" in the language of Babylon, in actual fact received equal rights and is even "fully included in the dialogue of love" (Balamand Agreement, Paragraphs 16, 34).
As to the Paragraphs 23, 33 feigning an expression of condolence to everyone -- Orthodox, Uniates, Catholics "who endured suffering", one should remember martyrdom and confession of faith of thousands of Orthodox people who have been shedding blood when defending the purity of Orthodox faith. Endorsing the Balamand pact, Orthodox ecumenists, obedient to the Roman curia, consign to oblivion the entire criminal history of Papism and Unia.
Having mutually recognized themselves as Sister Churches in Balamand (Paragraphs 12 and 14) the representatives of both sides declared: "that which Christ has entrusted to His Church -- profession of apostolic faith, participation in the same sacraments, above all the one priesthood celebrating the one sacrifice of Christ, the apostolic succession of bishops -- cannot be considered the exclusive property of one of our Churches. In this context elimination of any re-baptism is obvious" (Paragraph 13).
This means that "Orthodox" ecumenists have lost faith in the soteriological and ecclesiological uniqueness of the Orthodox Church as the only Church of Christ. Having agreed with the Papists not to baptize Catholics who wish to convert to Orthodoxy, in practice, after Balamand they went still further by altogether refusing to accept Catholics into Orthodoxy on the grounds that they are allegedly members of the true Church anyway. Widening the concept of the Church with each passing day, ecumenists have finally embarked on the path of "those who received baptism or the sacrifice of heretics", and therefore are subject to excommunication according to the 46th Apostolic Rule.
A true baptism as an indispensable condition for joining the Church and its distinction from the false, heretical baptism at all times was understood by Orthodoxy in the same way. Historical and local distinctions in the practice of heterodox joining the Orthodox Church are not deviations of the Church from the truth, taking into account that "one general dogmatic view permits different practice", according to Holy Fathers, e.g. Cyprian of Carthage and Basil the Great. The Church's wise recourse to acrivia (strictness) and economia (condescension) depended on whether particular heterodox communities have distorted only individual points of doctrine and individual rites, or the basic maxims of faith. Besides, the measures of strictness could be determined by particularly unfavorable circumstances affecting the Church at one time or another. Thus, the Council of Moscow in 1620 and the Council of Constantinople in 1756 categorically instructed to baptize any Catholic who wished to join the Orthodox Church. Subsequently this practice was abandoned following Peter Mogila's ideas, "who had, against his own will, become the "Trojan horse" of latinization of Orthodox theology", and later on -- under the influence of Peter I "the friend of all German Lutherans", who destroyed the conciliar order of the Russian Church". The subsequent practice of accepting the heterodox into the Orthodox Church through repentance, and Latins -- even without chrismation, "has no dogmatic basis". The application of this practice for two centuries in Russia «has imparted it a semblance of antiquity, but it would be wrong to call it Tradition. It is not for nothing that St. Cyprian of Carthage says: "Habit without truth is only an old error» ("Consuetudo sine veritate, vetustas erroris est").
In our times, taking into account a catastrophic degradation of all the principles of Western Christianity (particularly after the Second Vatican Council) and the steady growth of ecumenical heresy, manifested, for example, in Roman Catholics being allowed to partake of Communion in the Moscow Patriarchate, the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad found it necessary to confirm the obligatory practice of baptizing all heretics joining the Church, by its decree of 15/28 September, 1971.
Let us keep in mind paragraphs 26, 28, and 29 of the Balamand Agreement which call on Orthodox, Catholic (or Uniate) priest "in order to avoid conflict and rivalry, to jointly organize their pastoral work, to consult one another, to unite and cooperate expressing mutual respect for the authority which the Holy Spirit has given them and also to take turns in celebrating services at the common place of worship". This thesis of the Balamand Agreement, now four years later, has surpassed all expectations: it literally "peacefully" destroys all Orthodox principles in Russia and other Slavic countries!
Paragraph 30 calls for the irreversible distortion of Church history, for the preparation in theological schools of priests unorthodox in spirit, for the rejection of "outdated ecclesiology": "Both sides must pay particular attention to the education of future priests in the spirit of new ecclesiology in order that they should be informed of the apostolic succession of the other Church and the authenticity of its sacramental life... In this way, the dissipation of the prejudices will be helped, and the use of history in a polemical manner will be avoided".
Undoubtedly, "prejudices" here refer to the definitions of Orthodox Councils regarding the hereticism, and impiety of the Papists and their denunciation by such holy hierarchs as Photius the Great, Mark of Ephesus, Gregory Palamas, as well as the spiritual struggles of many martyrs and confessors who suffered from the Latins.
All the paragraphs of the Balamand Agreement which speak of dogmatic minimalism, syncretism, rejection of holy canons and Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church, have become a reality which stifles the Orthodox spirit, misleads those at the cross-roads and seduces the "little ones".
Saint John of Shanghai and San-Francisco has thus characterized the signs of the end of the world: "There will be a mass falling away from faith, moreover many bishops will betray faith justifying themselves by pointing at the splendid state of the Church. People will be disposed to search for compromise. A forthright confession of faith will disappear. People will excel in justifying their fall, and tender evil will contribute to such general disposition, and people will become accustomed to apostasy and to sweetness of compromise and sin."
The protests of those clerics and lay people and also of very few bishops who belong to the official Churches which have taken the path of ecumenism, but who are trying to defend Orthodox positions, do not, as a rule, receive any reply, and the general apostatic orientation of bishops remains practically unchanged. Almost all bishops betrayed the faith (we speak of Orthodox bishops, since others simply have nothing to betray), except the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, the old-calendarist Greek and Bulgarian bishops old-calendarists and very few Orthodox Church communities. There are only very few true Orthodox Christians left in the world. Maybe foreseeing our violent times and our human weakness, Saint Mark of Ephesus, a luminary of Orthodoxy, said that Orthodox Christians should zealously adhere to the Orthodox Faith "which lacks in nothing" and to cherish it as the apple of our eye, so that "even if we die poor in all other virtues we could at least take Orthodoxy with us, if nothing else"