The truth on the incidents at the All Holy Sepulchre
From their fruit you shall know them 1
The incident that occurred before the most important and holiest of all shrines in the world, has caused us a grievous experience. Occurring before the source of the Resurrection, of joy and peace, of the Most Holy Tomb.
Few days ago scenes of frightful violence that took place there, appeared around the world. Blaspheme and impiety surpassed every boundary, while even the rules of minimum morality were trampled on. The faithful of every dogma but also often of other religions, approach this most holy place with care and piety. Alas though, these seemly occurrences were provoked and developed with enraged zeal- by some who wish to be called Christians, from the religious group of Armenians that hold certain rights on the Most Holy Shrines.
By writing these lines of course we are not possessed by some religious or national fanaticism. We respect all as they wish to proceed or as they decide to be. However, we cannot keep silent when injustice and slander becomes apparent. Especially when the name of the blameless Orthodox Faith of Christ becomes blemished and profaned.
Before we proceed with our brief comments on the incidents, we should note that beyond the pain and the sorrow of the events in question, a new pain and greater sorrow was added from the distortion of the truth. Of course when this is done by the guilty ones, it is considered natural- "Deep calleth unto deep" 2 but when the lie proceeds from a third party or from "our own", the existing wounds are scraped harshly. This mention is not about the protestants of Greece - who seized the opportunity to throw mud and base satire - but about journalists who printed such statements which were anti-Orthodox and anti-Greek.
Of course we shall not occupy ourselves with the above, however we owe it to inform everybody- especially the pious Orthodox - that those scenes of shame do not involve "priestly quarrels" or "clashes between Orthodox " of different ethnicities.
The Armenians are not Orthodox Christians but a body of Monophysiticism. The heresy which seeks to join the two natures of the Lord in some strange way, is obscure, even if they become one, due to the assumed overtaking of the human nature by the divine. Namely they deny one of the most basic dogmas of the Church. That which refers to the Godman Christ. That which confirms the hope for our salvation.
This enormous heresy has its roots in the 5th century and was condemned by the Holy Fathers during the Holy and Ecumenical 4th Synod that took place in Chalcedon (ditto: the name of Anti-Chalcedonies for the Monophysites). This is where Heaven confirmed the Faith of the Orthodox through the great miracle of great martyr Saint Euphemia 3. The "hardened in heart" ignore this but also rejected all the rest of the Holy Synods, the Saints and the miracles of sixteen whole centuries(!) of the Spiritually sacred course of the Church. It is natural for them that their life outside the Holy Fold, has fallen into numerous other heresies and anti-ecclesiastic (or antichristian) behaviours and customs4.
It is well known that heresy constitutes the worst spiritual fall of man and following close behind is the moral collapse. Virtuous life according to the Holy Fathers is inseparable from the true faith. The dogma and life are two concepts that are inter-dependent, since one presupposes the other, producing the perfect result that is sanctity. There, life is lived on an evangelical law and the dogma is expressed through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The opposite, namely what follows the acceptance of false faith, can be confirmed from history5. Specifically, the followers of Monophysitism have displayed many elements of fanaticism, being supported by their unsound dogmatic truths, a faith by its cannibalistic persuasion. Apart from the given example, characteristic is the murder through beating of Saint Flavianos, Patriarch of Constantinople in 449 at the Robber's pseudo-synod at Ephesus. Then - as recently- they did not render the slightest respect toward the Holy Altar of the Church of the Theotokos under which the Saint sought refuge 6.
More to the point, concerning the religious Armenian community in Jerusalem, the development of problems and provocations and the use of force has become a "holy tradition" for them. Symptomatically, we refer again to the obstacles they placed during the rebuilding of the Church of the Resurrection and its arson in 1808, even though later they tried to take over some section within it7.
The height of the unceasing provocations and claims against the Orthodox, were this year's four serious events8. Of course the last one (11/9/08) surpassed every boundary of forbearance and patience. Clearly manifest was the injustice and force- not to mention about reverence or simple respect- which was recorded by videocams. The events started with the unreasonable demands of the Armenians that no Agiotaphite Monk (monk from the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre) be present within the Holy Edicule during their litany (procession). This however is an accepted and most ancient right of the Orthodox. The diplomatic and peaceful efforts of the Patriarchate were in vain. Why? Is it possible the Armenians did not know? Or perhaps the rights were not clear? NO! The only truth is that the heretics know that the trampling of a right on the Holy Shrines, constitutes grounds for its acquisition. In short, they believe this way they could gain more rights and grounds.
In this unequal and unjust attack of the Armenian clerics, which we watched (only a few snapshots), we saw underhanded blows at unsuspecting ours- who tried to protest by peacefully obstructing the litany of the former- mass beatings of isolated Orthodox, desperately defending rough attacks against the Police Authority (!!).... And we cried out "At least some humanity! "However, how could it be found since they have exiled the Godman?
The commenting on such abominable actions is a task not at all pleasant since it is appraised through the prism of our Good and Peaceful Christ. This however would have been an easy justification for inaction, but it would have really been unjust and impious towards God and secondly towards the longsuffering Patriarchate and the Hagiotaphic Brotherhood (Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre) that guards the Most Holy Shrines, indeed under fear of bodily harm and even death! Fraternally we call on every individual to undertake his responsibilities. The Orthodox of the whole world owe to support the work of the Patriarchate but much more the Greek Orthodox, having the honour (and responsibility) to call it Greek Orthodox.
We confess again that our intention is not to re-ignite the fires nor to release dangerous sparks. That is why we dare address even those responsible, the Armenians, in a brotherly way and according to evangelical love. We are certain that the good Armenian people will surely condemn injustice where ever it may come from. We remember with pain their great suffering of the uprooting and genocide. Of course no one from them would wish (at least those of healthy mind) to conduct efforts to uproot the Orthodox from the Holy Land. With greater pain and love we remind them of the Heavenly Country which would prove unattainable by the heretics. Let them examine what they believe in.
From the Secretariat of the Monastery.
- 1. Matt 7:19
- 2. Psalm 42,7
- 3. The two volumes with the dogmas of the Orthodox and of the Monophysite were placed on the reliquary of the Saint and later found that of the Orthodox in her bosom while the one of the Monophysite down by her feet.
- 4. Book by Basil Stephanidou, archimandrite, Ecclesiastic History, Athens 1990, pg 413-416
- 5. Some could maintain that violations are caused also by Orthodox. Of course we do not deny something like this. However these are not the voices of Orthodoxy (the saints) and are not believed capable to formulate dogmatic truths.
- 6. Similar events happened also to the rest of the Orthodox Bishops. Book Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church, Vol 2, Feb 16
- 7. Stephanidou o.p. pg 701-702
- 8. Bk Special announcement of the Chief Secretariat of the Patriarchate.