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From The Orthodox Catholic Review, Vol. 1, No. 6, June, 1927, pp. 225/3 :

  A Basis for Orthodox Consideration of Unity

Proposed Resolution Regarding Relations Between The Orthodox Catholic Church and The Anglican Communion and Other Protestant Bodies Prepared for Presentation to the Ecumenical Council of Orthodoxy which was Expected to Have Convened on Mount Athos. Issued in Greek and English, June 1926.

  By His Eminence, The Most Reverend Aftimios,

Archbishop of Brooklyn, Head of the Syrian Greek Orthodox Catholic Mission in North America, First Vicar and, at that time, Acting Head of the Russian Orthodox Catholic Jurisdiction in North America.

The following Resolution, now published in English for the first time, was prepared a year ago when it was expected that a Pan-Orthodox Synod or Ecumenical Council of Orthodoxy would be assembled on Mount Athos by the Patriarch of Constantinople. It was expected that such a gathering would consider the question of Anglican Union with the Orthodox Catholic Church. As he was then (in the absence of the Most Reverend Metropolitan Platon) the Acting Head of the Russian Church in North America, His Eminence, Archbishop Aftimios prepared this Resolution in Greek and English for presentation to the expected Council as a Proposed Resolution on behalf of the Church in North America. Since the Council never met, the Resolution has never been given to the general public, though it has received private circulation. In view of the Meeting of the World Conference on Faith and Order at Lausanne in August of this year, this careful statement of what the Orthodox Catholic Church must require as a basis for the consideration of Union will be of timely interest and value to all those who have the sacred cause of Christian Unity at heart. It is almost certain that the Orthodox members present at that Conference will find it necessary to issue a statement insisting on the substance of this Resolution as the basis of Orthodox Catholic acceptance of any Unity proposals.

  PROPOSED RESOLUTION   Regarding Relations Between The Orthodox Catholic Church and The Anglican Communion

WHEREAS: It is and ever has been the earnest desire and fervent prayer of all Orthodox-Catholic Churches and faithful that the prayer of Our Lord and Divine Head, Jesus Christ, "that they may be one" should be realized in the union and unity on the sure and proper foundation in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of those who call on His Name but are now sadly divided and separated; and

WHEREAS: We of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in recent years have witnessed with great interest and satisfaction the growth and expression of this conscious desire for unity on the part of the various separated churches of the West; and

WHEREAS: Through their appointing and sending to us of various commissions and representatives seeking Orthodox opinions and pronouncements as to the possibility, prerequisites and ways and means of attaining organic unity and sacramental intercommunion, the churches of the Anglican Communion, i.e., the Church of England, by law established, and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A., have been foremost in expressing this desire for unity in the One Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church; and

WHEREAS: These churches of the Anglican Communion by aid and friendship to Orthodox Churches and Prelates in time of need and distress have given practical demonstration of the sincere Christian love and brotherhood essential to the unity desired; and

WHEREAS: Although in response to the urgent inquiries and requests of representatives and groups of members of churches of the Anglican Communion, various theologians, committees and prelates in the Orthodox Church have conducted certain inquiries and studies, and have expressed opinions as to certain points pertinent to the subject of unity, as regards the Anglican Communion, they have failed, nevertheless, to find any definite, authoritative, and unambiguous or uncontroverted exposition of the dogmatic teaching of the essential faith of the churches of that communion; and

WHEREAS: Although various individuals and groups of the Anglicans have expressed their own beliefs or opinions (sometimes contradictory, and opposed to each other) as to the proper interpretation of the peculiarly ambiguous and indefinite official standards of the Churches of the Anglican Communion, neither the Anglican Communion as a whole nor any of its constituent churches, as such, have at any time submitted for Orthodox consideration or study any statement that could be considered as a basis for determining the extent of dogmatic agreement or identity of essential teaching as between the Orthodox and the Anglican Communions, notwithstanding the fact that on many occasions various Orthodox theologians and Hierarchs have urgently requested such a definitive and clarifying exposition; and

WHEREAS: A certain minimum of dogmatic agreement and an identity of teaching and belief in essential matters of the Faith, together with the removal of variations or diversities radically inconsistent with this necessary dogmatic agreement and identity of teaching, is the most necessary and obvious prerequisite for any consideration of organic union and sacramental intercommunion between churches separated and divided by such great differences of origin, system, custom, rites and formal standards of doctrine as unfortunately but obviously exist between the Orthodox and the Anglican Churches; and

WHEREAS: Just as we of the Orthodox Catholic Church recognize that the expression of personal opinion by individual theologians or Prelates or the pronouncements of synods or authorities of local churches possess no value or authority, and form no basis for any regular or legal sacramental relations, even by economy, but only give rise to misunderstanding, to disorder, and to uncanonical action; even so we are aware that the expressions of belief, or interpretation, on the part of parties, groups, prelates or even official commissions and representatives of churches in the Anglican Communion have no binding force or official weight, and cannot serve as the basis for any consideration of the possibility of organic union and intercommunion on the ground of dogmatic agreement and identity of teaching in essentials of the faith; and

WHEREAS: Just as the sole authority in Orthodoxy capable of properly and authoritatively dealing with this matter is a council representative of every Orthodox Church and Diocese, determined upon by the Synods and Patriarchs of the five great Patriarchates, viz., Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Russia -- the decisions of which council of the Orthodox Church, to gain indisputable authority, must then be ratified by the several autokephalous Orthodox Churches, and be found acceptable to, and in consonance with, the life, experience and spirit of the Church at large; even so we realize that the sole source of any authoritative and binding definition of the faith and required dogmatic teaching of the Anglican Communion lies in precisely the same course of action as would be required to modify or change the canon law, constitution, Book of Common Prayer, or other standards of the churches of the Anglican Communion; and

WHEREAS: We of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic Churches desire so ardently to further the work of bringing about unity in the Church of Christ on the one and only sure and correct foundation that we would not have it possible to say that any action or pronouncement of our Holy Church in that regard had been taken on false or insufficient premises, or in ignorance or uncertainty; and

WHEREAS: We most happily are persuaded that the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church equally with us desire that union be established on the only sure and proper basis of dogmatic agreement and identity of teaching in the essential matters of the Holy Catholic Faith; and

WHEREAS: Since it is not possible that the essential meaning of the dogmatic standards and essential teaching established in Orthodoxy should be changed, it is therefore necessary as a preliminary to the establishment by economia of union and intercommunion with them that the Churches of the Anglican Communion officially pronounce, declare, and most indubitably establish, on certain essential matters, dogmatic agreement and identity of required teaching with the norm of the Orthodox Catholic Church;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: That we of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, fully convinced that we are guided and governed by the Holy Spirit Who directs His Church into the way of all truth and of unity with Himself, most prayerfully and hopefully request and urge that the Churches of the Anglican Communion adopt and present to the Churches of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic Communion an official, authoritative, and absolutely binding statement of the dogmatic position and required teaching of Anglican Churches. Obviously such a statement must proceed from the same sources and in the same manner as have been required to render effective, binding, and authoritative, the official formularies and standards of the Churches of the Anglican Communion.

That is to say: That for the Church of England this dogmatic statement and definition of its faith must proceed jointly from the Convocations of York and Canterbury and be ratified, authorized, and promulgated by the Parliament of England, and proclaimed by His Majesty the royal Sovereign of England who by law is the Supreme Head of the Church of England. In no other or less official way could any statement such as is necessary be capable of being considered official or authoritative in any sense for the Church of England, in as much as the Royal Supremacy originally enacted in the reign of Henry VIII is the sole source of ecclesiastical authority and jurisdiction; and pronouncements of such bodies as the Lambeth Conference are merely advisory in character, possessing no authority unless embodied in Acts of the King and Parliament, just as the proposal to revise the English Prayer Book must be acted upon by Parliament and receive Royal Sanction from the Sovereign before possessing authority.

For the Protestant Episcopal Church in America the sole authoritative and binding source and authority for such a statement would be of necessity the triennial General Conventions of the Church consisting of the House of Bishops with the House of clerical and lay deputies. We are under the impression that final and binding action upon such a statement as is necessary would require not less than six years from the First General Convention at which such an insertion into the organic law of the church is proposed. That is to say that the authoritative statement and definition of required dogmatic teaching must be presented for consideration at one General Convention and accepted as proper business by the requisite majority both of the House of Bishops and of the clerical and lay deputies; must then be adopted by the requisite majority of both the House of Bishops and the clerical and lay deputies in the next succeeding General Convention three years later; and finally, that this adoption must be ratified by the requisite majority of both the House of Bishops and the clerical and lay deputies in the next General Convention, i.e., in the second after the one in which the matter was first proposed for consideration. We understand that any change or modification after the first proposal delays final binding action on such matters by the full three triennial General Conventions and that the attempts to revise the Book of Common Prayer so as to eliminate some of the all too obvious Protestantism and authorize a more Catholic form of service have been in progress upwards of thirty years and are still not finally ratified.

Nevertheless, it seems to us well that in a matter of such moment there should be safeguards against hasty action; and we are well aware that the interests of Holy Church require that only the final, incontrovertibly official, authoritative, and binding action or pronouncement of the Anglican Churches can be accepted as the basis for a consideration of the establishment of so sacredly important an act as organic union and sacramental intercommunion in the Body of Christ.

The particular matters on which, as yet, there has been no certainty as to the position of the Anglican Churches, and on which the formularies and Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England and Protestant Episcopal Church are either vague, indefinite and ambiguous, or seem actually to assert a position and teaching contrary to that of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith of the undivided Church, East and West, include points vital and fundamental to the faith.

We need to be assured as to the officially binding interpretation of the ambiguities and uncertainties in these formularies and in the Thirty-nine Articles.

For even though the Thirty-nine Articles were to be repudiated as a dogmatic standard for Anglican Churches, there still must be set forth by authority a binding definition of the faith and required teaching of the Anglican Churches.

In order to establish a minimum of dogmatic agreement and identity of required teaching, we consider that such a statement as is necessary must include at least the following matters:

A. Declarations that it is the indisputable faith and most strictly required belief and teaching of all churches, clergy and faithful of the Anglican Communion:

1. Concerning the Church:

That the Church of Christ is One Holy Catholic and Apostolic institution; a divinely created and governed living Organism existing visibly and invisibly in this world and through all ages. Of which the Head is Our Lord Christ Himself and the Guide is the Holy Spirit infallibly directing into all truth and preserving from all error; in sacramental union with which alone is there assurance of salvation and life, and separation from which is separation from the Visible Body of Christ.

2. Concerning Faith and Doctrine:

That the Faith and Doctrine of the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church are infallibly true, and are derived from or witnessed by the Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition as sources and witnesses of equal authority and weight, and are formulated, accepted, and determined by the infallibly inspired, directed, and governed life and consciousness of the Church.

3. Concerning Ecumenical Councils:

That General Church Councils, properly and lawfully called and convened, representing the whole Church, are canonical and rightful organs of the mind and voice of the Church; that the dogmatic decisions and definitions of such councils, when found by experience in the life and consciousness of the Church, to be conformable to and consonant with Her Spirit, and partake of Her truth in the Holy Spirit, become, by virtue of their acceptance and subsequent ratification, binding and obligatory on every member of the Church and truly Ecumenical in their character, force and authority; that the generally accepted decisions and definitions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, recognized as such by the Orthodox Catholic Church, are of this binding and obligatory, infallible, and Ecumenical nature, truth, and authority.

4. Concerning the Creed:

That the Symbol of the Faith of the Three Hundred Eighteen Holy Fathers of Nicæa, as ratified by the Council of Constantinople, must be accepted without any ambiguity, evasions, or evasive interpretation, by every member of the Christian Church; that by the use of the irregularly interpolated Filioque clause in this Symbol of the Faith, no deviation from the true Orthodox doctrine as to the procession of the Holy Spirit is taught or intended, but that the sole meaning taught or intended to be taught is the safeguarding of the equality and unity of the Persons (Hypostases) of the Holy Trinity in the Godhead.

5. Concerning Spiritual Authority and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction:

That in no manner or sense is it possible to derive, directly or indirectly, spiritual authority or jurisdiction from civil governors or Royal Sovereigns, nor is it possible that the spiritual Headship of the Visible Church, or any part of it, should reside in, or be exercised, directly or indirectly, by any royal prince or sovereign, as such, but must inhere solely in, and be exercised only by, the ecclesiastically lawful and canonical Patriarch, Bishop, or other proper spiritual authority; that to admit or submit to any such lay, civil, or Royal usurpation of authority, in ecclesiastical or dogmatic matters, is to fall away from the unity and authority of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; and that no evil assembly or parliament is able to define or establish formularies or standards of doctrine without the free action of the ecclesiastical assemblies of Bishops and clergy; and that to submit in matters of faith or doctrine to such lay civil coercion, direct or indirect, is to be separated from the faith and unity of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

6. Concerning Sacraments in general:

That regular, canonical and valid Sacraments of the Church, as means of Grace, are necessary, and are divinely instituted for the salvation of Christians; that such Sacraments are only certain within the Authority of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church; that these consist in the effectual operation of the Holy Spirit, through the ministration of a validly and canonically ordained Priest or Bishop in and with the divinely instituted form, matter and ritual of the Church.

7. Concerning the Number of Sacraments:

That the number of Sacraments is seven, no more and no less. These are: (1) Baptism; (2) Chrismation, i.e., Confirmation or sealing of Baptismal Vows by signing with Holy Chrism; (3) Eucharist; (4) Penance; (5) Holy Orders, i.e., Priesthood; (6) Marriage; and (7) Unction.

8. Concerning Baptism and Chrism:

That in Baptism in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, there is forgiveness of all sin, both original and personal, and also an infusion of renewing and revivifying divine Grace and Energy, moving the recipient to faith and all good works; that the indispensable and necessary compliment of Baptism is its confirming and sealing, by anointing with Holy Chrism for the reception of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

9. Concerning Eucharist:

That in the Eucharist the Bread and Wine, when consecrated by the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the Priest, are changed, transmuted, or transubstantiated into the true and real Body and Blood of Christ, Crucified and sacrificed, and are effectual for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, of both the living and the dead. That the terms Body and Blood of Christ are not taken or used in any metaphorical or figurative or typical sense, but actually and literally; that the sacrifice in the Eucharist is truly and really a sacramental sacrifice of Christ Himself on behalf of all men, and not a mere service of "memorial," or of "praise and thanksgiving" only, nor yet a "sacrifice of ourselves" (as described in the communion office of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer); that the Body and Blood of Christ is really and actually present after the Bread and Wine have been changed by the Holy Spirit in consecration and is not dependent on reception by communicants either in manner of reception or in character or nature of communicant; that the communicant receives the Body and Blood of Christ really, actually, and truly, and not merely spiritually, and is thereby united anew to Christ unto sanctification and eternal life; that the true sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist is effectual for the souls of the departed as well as for those present.

10. Concerning Penance:

That Penance is necessary to the spiritual strength and life of a Christian, and to the proper reception of the Holy Eucharist. That the Sacrament of Penance must consist of three parts, none of which may be omitted: i.e., first, the personal, oral confession of the individual penitent to the Priest; second, the laying on of hands with Priestly counsel; and third, the prayer and absolution of sins.

11. Concerning Holy Orders:

That in the Sacrament of Priesthood alone lies the authority for ministering all other sacraments. Hence, that the office of Priest is primarily mediatory and sacrificial in character, and not merely one of teaching or preaching the Word.



B. Declarations as to discipline and relations with other religious bodies must also form a part of the statement necessary for the Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church if She is to pass finally upon the matter of organic union and intercommunion with churches of the Anglican Communion. In this regard, we consider two statements essential; and these should be part of the statement concerning dogmatic teaching, and should be adopted in the same manner by the same authority.

1. Concerning discipline:

That teaching and holding of the faith according to the dogmatic definitions detailed above, is absolutely obligatory upon all Anglican ministers and faithful; and, that the teaching or holding of anything contrary thereto or inconsistent therewith, or the failure to teach or hold faithfully and literally without evasion or evasive interpretations, shall necessitate the excommunication of the offending parties.

2. Concerning relations with other Religious Bodies:

That in efforts toward Christian Unity, the Churches of the Anglican Communion will require, as a basis for consideration of union or intercommunion, the same pledge as to the holding and teaching of the faith, and as to discipline, that the Churches of the Anglican Communion give to the Churches of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic Communion.



Presented on behalf of

The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in North America.

  By +AFTIMIOS,

Archbishop of Brooklyn and Head of the Syrian Greek Orthodox Catholic Mission in North America, and First Vicar and Acting Head of the Russian Archdiocese of the Aleutian Islands and North America (North America and Canada), June 10, 1926.