Christodoulos claims that one of the main reasons he left the canonical Church was because we use the “heretical” New Calendar. This criticism is laughable, given that ever since leaving the canonical (New Calendar) Church in Greece and arriving in Australia, Christodoulos has operated under the New Calendar.

In his letter, Christodoulos attempts to justify this obvious hypocrisy by claiming that:

  • due to the “special ecclesiastical situation in Australia”,
  • he is using “much leniency and economy”, and that
  • “there will soon be a local church that will be using the Traditional calendar”.

The strength of this justification quickly evaporates when these points are examined. We address each one in turn.

Elder Paisios of Mount Athos – a contemporary elder (widely expected to be proclaimed a saint) who spoke out against Old Calendarist schismatics. Source: OrthodoxWiki

What is so special about the ecclesiastical situation here in Australia?

Christodoulos asserts that the ecclesiastical situation here in Australia is “special”, which is why the use of the New Calendar is justified. But we ask: what exactly is so special about the ecclesiastical situation in Australia, with respect to the calendar issue?

  • In Greece, the Orthodox Church of Greece uses the New Calendar while Mt Athos  (who are canonical, non-schismatic) and a handful of schismatic groups use the Old Calendar.
  • Here in Adelaide & Australia, most Orthodox (Greek, Antiochian, Romanian) use the New Calendar while the Russians & Serbs (who are canonical, non-schismatic) and a couple of minor schismatic groups use the Old Calendar.

So both here and in Greece, there is a mixture of calendar use, with the majority of Orthodox under the New Calendar, while a handful of smaller jurisdictions (some of them canonical Orthodox, some of them not) are using the Old Calendar. Thus as far as the issue of different calendars is concerned, the situation here in Adelaide or in Australia doesn’t really seem to be all that special after all.

Why the use of economy justified here, but not in Greece?

Christodoulos justifies the use of the New Calendar here in Australia as an exercise of “much leniency and economy”. For those who don’t know, “economy” in Orthodox theology is a “bending of the rules” – usually to be more lenient (but occasionally to be stricter when required) – for the benefit of the Church. Of course, in Orthodox Tradition we don’t exercise economy unless there is a good reason & the Church will benefit.

Christodoulos argues that the alleged “special ecclesiastical situation” here in Australia is a good enough reason for using economy. Of course, we already pointed out that the situation here isn’t that special, but ignoring that for a moment: why couldn’t such economy also be used in Greece? As we have noted elsewhere, schism is a terrible tragedy in the Church and must be avoided. In Greece, this single-minded insistence on using the Old Calendar by people such as Christodoulos has resulted in several schisms, and if they’d permitted the use of the New Calendar (through “much leniency and economy”) these schisms would have been prevented. Surely the prevention of such schisms should also be a good enough reason to be lenient?

Where is this new church using the Old Calendar?

Here we are, nearly three years after that letter was written, and Christodoulos is finally starting the new church in Adelaide that he wrote about. This church is still using the New Calendar, and not the Old Calendar like he claimed it would. On what basis does he justify this? It might make sense to continue using the New Calendar “by much leniency & economy” in an existing parish that is already accustomed to using the New Calendar, but it makes no sense at all for a parish that is starting from scratch! As noted above, Adelaide already has several Old Calendar parishes (both canonical Orthodox and schismatic), so it is obviously possible to run an Old Calendar parish here – there is no reason why Christodoulos couldn’t if he wanted to.

Conclusion

It would be beyond the scope of this post to go into a detailed defense of the use of the New Calendar and explain why its use is not heretical – for that, we defer to the words of our Father among the Saints, Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, who commented on the “calendar issue”. But when it comes to Christodoulos and his criticisms, all we can see is hypocrisy and expedience over principle.

“Real” die-hard Old Calendarists won’t permit or tolerate the New Calendar under any circumstances (not even the alleged “special circumstances” here in Australia) as a matter of principle, because to their way of thinking the mere use of the New Calendar is a heresy. While we (along with Elder Paisios) believe that this is misguided, at least we can afford them some amount of respect for adhering to their principle.

Christodoulos, however, is a different story. On the one hand he (like other Old Calendarists) acts as if the mere use of the New Calendar makes one guilty of heresy, and yet now he seems to think he can use the New Calendar in his own church without falling into the heresy. He can’t have it both ways – either it is possible to use the New Calendar without being a heretic, or it is not. If the former, he was not justified in leaving his canonical jurisdiction in Greece in the first place; if the latter then he is not justified in using the New Calendar in his new jurisdiction. This double-standard exposes his hypocrisy and suggests that his actions are driven more by ambition than principle. We pray that he and his followers may be enlightened to end their schism and return to the true Church.

Advertisements