Η ΑΓΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ ΕΚΚΛΗΣΙΑ, ΕΣΤΙΝ Η ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ ΕΠΙ ΤΗΣ ΓΗΣ, Η ΑΠΟ ΚΑΤΑΒΟΛΗΣ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ, (Αγιος Νεκταριος)

 

The Neo-Iconoclasm.

 

There is a concerted effort in many local “Orthodox” Churches to remove and do-away with many orthodox icons such as: Icon of the Holy Trinity depicting the image of the Father as the Ancient of Days, the Resurrection of Christ our Lord, The icon of the Nativity, The Pentecost and all the non-Byzantine Icons.

The first attack on these Holy Icons appeared in the 1970’s and specifically 1974-1975  an assault against the Icon of the Holy Trinity was organized and carried through in the monastery of Taxiarchon at Athikia Korinthias where this Icon was removed from all the nuns cells and taken away.

 Later on, in 1976 a new episode occurs in the “Florinite” church in the parish of St. John the Theologian in Thessalonica. The episode there took and new dimension because iconoclastic documents were published and circulated amongst the faithful. Their hierarchs convened in 1979 and published their encyclical in their periodical “ FONI TIS ORTHODOXIAS” where they ordered their followers to continue the veneration of the Icon of the Holy Trinity. In the same issue of the periodical they announced that one of their hiero-monks was put on indefinite suspension for not venerating the Icon of the Holy Trinity..

The problem begins to spread in our Church and in 1980 to 1983 the neo-iconoclasm emerges once again in the Women Monastery in Keratea, where in a devious manner the icons of the Holy Trinity, the Resurrection of our Lord and all the classical or non Byzantine icons were replaced by the Hospitality of Abraham, the Descend to Hades and other Byzantine respectively.

When the sisterhood noticed the wicked action of those few nuns, they reacted and reported the incident to the direction on the monastery, (Hygoumenosymvoulion). After realizing that their concerns were not addressed by the direction they wrote, in July 1983 to the Synod reporting that the Archbishop Andreas, deacon Stephanos Tsakiroglou and seven (7) nuns including Theologia and Epistimi Tsakiroglou, both sisters of deacon Stephanos Tsakiroglou, are those responsible for the replacement of the Icons.

When this letter was discussed in the Synod, AB Andreas appeased the other Synod members, he ensured them that the nuns’ accusations are not true, the Holy Synod accepted the AB reassurance and did not get further involved.

Because the Holy Synod did not decide and furthermore, the neo-iconoclasts continued their activities, the sisterhood issued another letter to the Holy Synod in Nov. 1983 in which additional charges are brought against the AB Andreas and the directions of the monastery.

Consequently the Holy Synod met on Nov. 24, 1983  The Synod issued document # 91 dated 1983.11.24 where it was decided to look at the charges closer and also clarified the Orthodox Position on the Holy Icons. The Holy Synod decided not to publish their decision and keep this incident from the rest of the Church. They only issued their decisions to the two monasteries in Keratea. In order to protect the Archbishop the synod decided to send a committee to investigate the accusations if false ask the nuns to retract their accusations.

On the Holy Icons the Synod said:

<<Item 3  Specifically on the  Icon issue it was decided that:

A.-For the Icon of the Holy Trinity.

 The Icon with the Three Persons is to be venerated; the Hospitality of Abraham should not be preferred over the Icon of the Three Persons.

B.- For the Icon of the Nativity of the Lord.

 The bath and the midwifes must not be placed in the icon of the Nativity of Christ. For the existing icons, to avoid scandals they would remain as there are, but from now on the new icons will not depict the bath and the midwifes.

C.-The Icon of “The Descend to Hades” shall not be named Resurrection, for Resurrection is the one from the Tomb. The tomb closed.

D.-For the Icon of the Pentecost, the presence of the Theotokos is in accordance with the acts of the Apostles. …>>

Signed by:

 +Archbishop Andreas

+ Attikis & Megaridos Matthew

+Pireos & Nison Nickolaos

+Vresthenis Lazaros

+Servias Titos

 and

The secretary Hieromonk Kyrikos Kontogiannis

Present also:

Fr. Paul

Deacons Neofitos and Stephanos (Tsakiroglou)

An Orthodox Christian is obligated to abide and conform to his Synod’s decision or if he believes that his Synod made erroneous decisions on issues of faith, as the Holy Icons are, which could lead the synod into heresy, he is obliged to protect him self, separate from it and avoid falling into heresy.

The neo-iconoclasts instead of abiding with the synod’s decision or protecting them selves my leaving, decided to fight and “correct” the Church.

Not only they did not accept and conform to the Church’s positions, they didn’t even have the decency to go away and find a church that would agree with their convictions and leave the Church in peace. They decide to stay and fight the Church or change Her to fit their measure. They decided to go underground and assume the role of the “fathers” and tutors, they started the secret campaign to educate the people and save the Church from Her “delusion”. They exploited their positions and the confidence entrusted upon them by the Archbishop and also the respect that the other clergy had towards the Archbishop Andreas and started recruiting and converting disciples. Prominent people in the Church who had written and published in defense of the Icons and specifically, that of the Holy Trinity, are beginning to fall in line with the neo-iconoclasts and assume front line roles in the last phase of the neo-iconoclast’s organized attack on the Church.

There is an interesting correspondence between the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Keratea under the abbot Fr. Stephanos, mainly between monk Chrysaphios and monks Elias and  Basil in the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston under the abbot Fr. Panteleimon.

The HTM in Keratea used the resources of the neo-iconoclasts in HTM in Boston to write the papers against the Icons and against the decision of the Church.

After the regrouping period following their setback in 1983, they launched their fiercest attack which begun in 1989 with:

1        “ Iconographic Presentation of God the Father”. This 13 page publication against the Icon of the Holy Trinity signed by Hieromonk Cassian Braun. Started to circulate in the summer of 1989.

2        “ An Introduction about the Icons of the Holy Trinity and the Resurrection of the Lord”, 20 page study authored by Hieromonk Amphilochios Tambouras July 1991.

3        “About Iconography” by monk Chrysaphios of the HTM Keratea, July 1991.

4        “The Ancient of Day” a supplementary to his 1989 paper, 13 page paper by Hieromonk Cassian Braun January 1992.

5        Over and above the aforementioned a book by George E. Gabriel “coincidentally” appeared in Thessalonica in 1990 entitled “Forbidden Representations”.

The fathers of the Katounakia Holy Mounted published a 43 page document entitled “The Holy Trinity in the Orthodox Iconography” prepared by Hieromonk Chrysostomos in January 1991. In this study the Athonite fathers documented in an excellent manner the position of the Orthodox Church with regards to representation of the Icon of the Holy Trinity and the image of God the Father.