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Interview with the Archbishop Chrysostomos II, the Head of The “Florinites” Synod of the True Orthodox Church of Greece

Credo.ru: Please, tell about the present state of your Church: how many eparchies, monasteries and parishes do you have and in what countries.

Archbishop Chrysostomos: 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.

Credo.ru: Do you have any contacts with other True-Orthodox Churches?

Archbishop Chrysostomos: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.

Credo.ru: What is your difference 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?

Archbishop Chrysostomos: 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 bad thing is that they do not do the same and they are extremely fanatical. Following their internal splits they are extremely weakened and I do not consider 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.They are all New Calendarists. However, they do have good ‘public relations’, something which we lack in.

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 were re-admitted into the Church, were rehabilitated 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 show some supposed power.In effect, however, they have a handful of followers and for this reason their annual almanac includes all our parishes and monasteries so that their small size does not show.

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 open.

Credo.ru: What is your opinion about the present canonical state of ROCOR and ROAC? Do you think that True Orthodoxy is presented in Russia?

Archbishop Chrysostomos: We consider that following the imposition of Communism on Russia the True Orthodox Church of Russia is represented by 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, having so many problems to face, have not been involved to the extent that perhaps we should in examining the situation in Russia. For this reason we cannot give a categorical answer to your question. What we are sure off is that in Greece the True Orthodox Church is represented by our Church. Beyond that we cannot add anything.

Credo.ru: The churches of "World Orthodoxy" now withdraw their participation in the Ecumenical movement. Several official churches have already left World Council of Churches. Moscow Partiarchate is also preparing for this step. Does it allow to speak that World Orthodoxy is slowly breaking with its heretical faith and slowly self-purifying?

Archbishop Chrysostomos: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.

Credo.ru: How possible form your point of view is the break between Moscow Patriairchate and Ecumenical Patriarchate? Will it be useful for Orthodoxy?

Archbishop Chrysostomos: 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 something such on the horizon.

Credo.ru: The present head of New-Calendarists Greek Church archbishop Chrystodulos is known as a "conservative". Does it influence the popularity of New-Calendarists in Greece and does it cause the reduce of Old-Calendarists?

Archbishop Chrysostomos: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’ while wants to impose functional innovations and who recognized 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 attracted by the influence of Mr. Christodoulos!Anything but.

Credo.ru: What do you think about the process Greece integration of into the European Union? What spiritual dangers does this process present for True Orthodox Christians?

Archbishop Chrysostomos:The risk of deconsecration lurks at all time 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. 

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