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241. Nov. 4/17, 1976 St. Ioannichius the Great

Dear Father Ioannikios,

Bless! We send you our heartfelt congratulations on your namesday. May God grant you many years of fruitful labors, and the salvation of your soul. Save, О Christ God!

We were glad to receive your communication of some weeks ago, and pray that many such frank communications will be exchanged between us. Yes, we realize that our Greeks are dissatisfied with some of the things we have written, and in our letters to them we deliberately said some of the things which perhaps too long already have been left unspoken. I think in the end this will be better both for them and for us. In general our church atmosphere seems to have been suffering from a certain lack of objectivity, sometimes even amounting to a “double standard,” and it really seems that if some attempt is not made to “speak out” the unspoken differences, this may end up as two distinct camps instead of a mere double standard. If this is not to happen, then our Greeks will just have to begin to face the reality of how things seem to others, even things which to them are absolutely simple and unambiguous. We ourselves were a little shocked to see how Mathewitely “simple” the whole question of ecumenism and the New Calendar is for several of our Greek priests—certainly the soundest representatives of the Old Calendarists in Greece (Dr. Kalomiros, Archimandrite Cyprian, Father Theodoritos, etc.) do not agree with them here and are much closer to the position of our bishops. This narrowness prevents our Greeks from seeing some rather obvious things and making some elementary distinctions which are rather important for us all now and in the days ahead. Anyway, we stuck our heads out and told them some of these things, and perhaps when their displeasure dies down this will help the development of the more “objective” atmosphere in our Church which seems to us so necessary. Despite our differences, we are by no means “against” Father Panteleimon, and it would be a tragedy if two artificial “camps” were created in our Church. Fr. Panteleimon has some good and fresh emphases which could enrich our Church; but the attitude that “we are right and every other view must be crushed” which some of his followers are projecting, can only lead to trouble and disaster. The real differences in our Church today are not based on “liberal” vs. “strict” attitudes to ecumenism—that is an artificial distinction. The real difference is between an anti-ecumenism with humility, love and discretion (which also means “flexibility” without compromise), and anti-ecumenism which is narrow and rigid and in real danger of falling into fanaticism. One really does get the idea that those who come from the Greek Archdiocese are “protesting too much”—their positions often seem based more on the need to protest their own past than to face the present and future soberly and with balance.

May God be our help. We recently exchanged friendly communications with Fr. Panteleimon and pray that our relations will never become hardened. We see many signs of late that the missionary movement of true Orthodoxy in America is growing and deepening, and we would like to think that some of the recent shocks and conflicts are perhaps “growing pains” rather than signs of deep disagreements. May God grant us all the humility and love to grow and not to fight!

We have been struggling with winter firewood and such things, and our Calendar is still not ready—God willing we will start to send it out around Thanksgiving. Please pray for us.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

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