The Traditional Orthodox Church and Its Hierarchy in the Western Hemisphere
Knowledge of the Orthodox Christian faith is growing in Latin America; there is an increasing number of clergy, parishes, and monastic institutions, and more and more materials are being published in Spanish and Portuguese, as well. This is a cause for rejoicing, as more and more people are able to find the original Christian Church, especially in an age where modernism and relativism obscure the Truth and hinder man’s salvation.
However, as Latin American people become more and more familiar with Orthodox Christianity, there is likewise a growing confusion regarding what exactly constitutes authentic and legitimate Orthodox Christianity. On the one hand, there are numerous so-called “official” jurisdictions which teach and practice things at variance with authentic Orthodox Christianity, but excuse these abuses based on their supposed canonical legitimacy and authority; on the other hand, there are numerous charlatans who take advantage of the ignorance of the common people, and set themselves up illegitimately as Orthodox clergy, without, however, having any legitimate training or the blessing of an established Orthodox Synod.
Formerly, such deception was common among Roman Catholics and Anglicans, where “independent” clergy would pose as Roman Catholic or Anglican bishops or priests, but as the Internet has helped weed out such imposters, they have taken their game to the Orthodox “scene,” where the lack of information available and the perceived exoticness of Orthodoxy has allowed them to have moderate success. In more recent times, they have even taken advantage of the schism between traditional Orthodox Christians (Genuine Orthodox Christians [GOC] or Old Calendarists) and the New Calendarist, Ecumenist heretics, in order to present themselves as traditional Orthodox Christian clergy who are separate from the “official” and “canonical” New Calendarist/Ecumenist Churches due to reasons of faith, rather than due to canonical infractions, scandals, lack of qualifications, or self-will. They are “Genuine Orthodox” in name only, but are able to manipulate the faithful with their sophistry.
Due to this confusion, I intend to begin a series of posts on this blog categorized as “Traditional Orthodoxy in Latin America.” A thorough analysis is needed, and many sub-topics can surely be explored, but for the time being, I will present one historical document and several contemporary links to photos demonstrating a link between the Church in Greece and the Church headquartered in the United States (which has jurisdiction over Latin America) due to a pressing request by our priest living in Colombia, the Rev. Fr. Félix Piñeros, pastor of St. Nectarios of Aegina Mission Parish in Bogotá, Colombia, who left the New Calendarist Church only to find himself in an uncanonical, pseudo-Old Calendarist jurisdiction, and finally made his way to canonical Orthodoxy some years ago. If you are reading this post and have further questions, please leave your comments in the section below, so I can consider them for future posts in this series.
The Origin of the Hierarchy of the GOC of Greece
In an English-speaking context, church websites which advertise their origins and apostolic succession are generally automatically assumed to be spurious. No legitimate Orthodox jurisdiction would need to defend itself by posting a lineage on a website; those who do so are often defensive and trying to establish themselves based on legal arguments of “who ordained whom”; arguments which are foreign to the Orthodox view of apostolic succession and ordination.
Nevertheless, it is occasionally necessary to demonstrate the historical connection that our Old Calendarist Greek Orthodox Church has with the universal Church, given the doubts that are raised by the arguments, claims, and actions of others. This is especially true in Latin America, where good-quality information is difficult to obtain. Therefore, in this post, I will share one historical document about the origins of the Greek Old Calendarist Church here:
An English transcription of the original:
18/31 December, 1969
To His Beatitude Auxentius,
Archbishop of the Church of the
True Orthodox Christians of Greece
Your Beatitude’s fraternal letter of 25 November 1969, was read by us at a meeting of our Synod today.
The many trials which the Orthodox Church has endured from the beginning of its history are especially great in our evil times, and, consequently, this especially requires unity among those who are truly devoted to the Faith of the Fathers. With these sentiments, we wish to inform you that the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad recognizes the validity of the episcopal ordinations of your predecessor of blessed memory, the reposed Archbishop Akakios, and the consequent ordinations of your Holy Church. Hence, taking into account also various other circumstances, our hierarchical Synod esteems your hierarchy as brothers in Christ in full communion with us.
May the blessing of God rest upon all the clergy and faithful of your Church, especially during the coming days of the Nativity in the flesh of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The President of the Synod of Bishops
+Nikon, Archbishop of Washington and Florida,
+Seraphim, Archbishop of Chicago and Detroit
+Vitaly, Archbishop of Montreal and Canada
+Anthony, Archbishop of Los Angeles and Texas
+Averky, Archbishop of Syracuse and Trinity
+Anthony, Archbishop of Western America and San Francisco
+Sabbas, Bishop of Edmonton
+Nectary, Bishop of Seattle
+Andrew, Bishop of Rockland
+Laurus, Bishop of Manhattan
Contemporary Photographs Linking the Churches of Greece and America
In addition to a request for historical proof of apostolic succession, I also received a request to demonstrate a link between the Church of Greece, headed by His Beatitude Archbishop Kallinikos, and the Church of America (a local, autonomous Eparchial Synod), headed by His Eminence, Metropolitan Demetrius. As such, the following are some links to photographs from the Church of Greece’s website, demonstrating fellowship and communion between the churches:
1) Listing of the bishops of the Holy Synod, which includes Metropolitan Demetrius of America:
2) Metropolitan Demetrius’s biography:
Τὸ 2012 ἐνετάχθη εἰς τὴν κανονικὴν Ἐκκλησίαντῶν Γ.Ο.Χ. ἀκολουθούμενος ἀπό ἰκανόν ἀριθμόν Κληρικῶν, Μοναχῶν καὶ Ἐνοριῶν ἐκ διαφόρων περιοχῶν τῶν Ἡνωμένων Πολιτειῶν Ἀμερικῆς καὶ ἀνέλαβεν τὴν Ἐπισκοπὴν Βοστώνης. Τὴν 6/19 Φεβρουαρίου 2014 ἐξελέγη Μητροπολίτης Ἀμερικῆς καὶ ἐνεθρονίσθη τὴν Κυριακὴν 18-4 / 11 – 5 – 2014 παρουσίᾳ, ἐκτὸς τῶν Ἀρχιερέωντῆς ἱερᾶς Ἐπαρχιακῆς Συνόδου Ἀμερικῆς καὶ τῆς Ἀντιπροσωπείας τῆς ἘκκλησίαςΓ.Ο.Χ. Ἐλλάδος καὶ ἐκπροσώπων τῶν Γνησίων Ὀρθοδόξων Ἐκκλησιῶν Ρουμανίας καὶ Ρωσικῆς Διασπορᾶς.
Translated into English, this is:
In 2012 he entered into the canonical Church of the G.O.C., with a sufficient number of Clergy, Monastics and parishes following him various areas of the United States of America and he undertook the Diocese of Boston. On February 6/19, 2014 he was elected Metropolitan of America, and was enthroned on Sunday April 18/May 11, 2014 in the presence of the hierarchs of the Eparchial Synod of America, and representatives of the Church of the G.O.C. of Greece, the Church of the G.O.C. of Romania, and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
3) Archbishop Visiting America, 2012:
4) New Metropolitan for America 2014:
5) Nameday of Metropolitan Demetrius 2015:
The aim of this brief post is to outline the present situation regarding Latin American Orthodoxy, demonstrate the link between the present Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians and its origins in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, and the continuity between the bishops of the Church of Greece and the local Church of America (both North and South). Further posts in this series will delve deeper into the issues mentioned, but my concern now was to answer the immediate questions of one of our clergy. Please pray for us and our mission!