On Ecumenism from Another Point of View


Recently  we  see our church dignitaries parade all over this sinful planet walk, meet , sit with other religious dignitaries; hug and osculate; draw up and sign various resolutions; walk all over the world and bring various people to Serbia – and this, all in the name of Christian love and unity.

It is not my intention to go into the merits of their Orthodox world trotting  and meeting – as I am too weak for that.  And what would I, after all, be able to add  to what the Holy Father Justin (Popovich) of Chelije already said. In his writings, the saint already explained  all of the facts of the Orthodoxy, since the existence of the Church of Christ.

I do, however – and rightly so – want to say  few words about something I know very well, something my life experience has sustained : all this talk about the unity of ecumenism is  empty and void until  it is resurrected by the lively  existence.

From my early student days, somewhere from a distance, I have been involved in ecumenical expressions of love. My teachers, and students of European prestigious schools, were deep in ecumenical waters.  And in those, weighing  times, it was believed, naively, that if our brothers, European or others  from around the world, give us a hand,  it will get easier. It will help us get through the difficult period.

And later, when the people rushed across the borders with the Church following at their heels , I do have to admit that we did receive some help, honestly. In the early seventies, as a young man, I was living in their manger, ecumenical, indeed, for a short time. I am convinced that if they did not lend us a hand, it would have been much harder for us to remain on these foreign lands. From our Orthodox brothers, Russians, as I recall, no help came. Hence, to some extent, I understand why some of our church dignitaries wholeheartedly osculate with their brothers. But the question remains: How much faith for what kind of a dinner?
Living  in foreign countries led me to the conclusion  that these ecumenical streams, love letters and osculations, flow fast, causing strong waves, however are not in sinc with the real world, the life terrain.

If senior officials cannot see from their pedestal, I am able to ,  from a lower level, see our sad fate. Here , far from the homeland, where  Serbian exiles are coming from all over the world, I can hear harrowing tales about conversions, elimination of Orthodoxy everywhere by any and all means. Whole villages in Slavonia, Dalmatia, and around – eradicated. In one of our church’s newspapers, recently we read nonsense from “guru’s” of ecumenism, “mitropolitans without metropolis”, about how the Roman Catholic Church is “opening” for ecumenism, “how the primacy of the Roman Church was universally acknowledged”, “why the Church needs primacy and the conditions under which it can be accepted”and that “they (the Roman Catholic Church, V.T) do not want to bring us under the domination of the Pope” and other wonders. Only two – three pages after this conversation with this “one of the most influential Orthodox theologians of our time,” in the same newspaper, we hear desperate cries of those whose last traces of existence are being destroyed. “Do not touch my ruins,” they beg.

This would be enough to  convince an intelligent person, to why osculates of their “love” do not convince me; why do I think that the ecumenical dialogues on “table of love” end there, and that no crumbs of that “love” are falling to the ground . Here is an additional experience to sustain my argument:
A few years ago we took on a challenge of establishing a new parish in this area. Working people, looking for a roof over their heads, are fleeing to  the suburbs. With this in mind, we went looking for a church,  the house of the Lord, to gathered  exchange a few brotherly and friendly words. We believed that this would not be a big problem, as a lot of their temples, after all the miracles and misdeeds they pushed into the Church, are practically empty in the city center. There were a few and in the suburbs. We have heard that an Anglican church is being sold. Quickly, we formed the Church committee, got blessing and support of our Bishop, and started the talks with our “Christian brethren” from the Anglican Church. We went to our “brothers” with our naive story, harsh but true: We are newcomers, solving first our existential issues and, here with them, trying to solve the wider issues as well: the spiritual and national. Help us please: we are not seeking any discounts, just take us seriously; let us discuss how we can make this happen; where there is a will there is a way. We also told them that we gave our new parish the same name as the name of their church because it is our sincere intention to continue to use the church building as a church. We told them that, and more, however, they were deaf to our words.  We wrote them and they responded – I have that answer in the archives of the parish: they are only interested in the money and nothing more. I ran to their bishop, and she or he – how would I know – did not find it important enough to meet with me.  In anguish, I remembered that our Anglican “brothers” for several years use the Serbian Patriarch’s chapel for their holiday gatherings. Somehow, I got and the phone number of their respective priest. I asked him to help us. He wrote a nice letter in which he mentioned our hospitality and support which we are providing to them. Even that did not help. Finally, ruthlessly and mercilessly, using  tricks, “they led us thirsty across the water.”

Soon after we heard that another church was  being sold, this time from united Christians. United Christians are those who, when they do not like  certain limitations imposed by their churches, take a route   where all is permitted. Their priest from Toronto, sued the Government of Canada because they did not recognize same-sex marriage, lesbian and gay, which he was “blessing”. The State lost in court and as a result was forced  to recognize those “marriages” and open the doors wide for many of their misdeeds.
Anyway, they were  selling the  church. We hurried to meet  with a small group of old men, whose church this was. The deal was made ; we gave them the offer and they agreed. However, once their hierarchy heard of the deal, got involved, and got higher offers from somewhere else causing the annulations of our contract.  After consulting a lawyer; and were advised that we can easily win in the court, but the process will be long and costly.

All we really want is a church and a place of worship: we don’t need the courts and judges and throwing away hardly collected donations. We are largely overpowered,  by them and their fat bank accounts.

One of their officials, priestess, I suppose, one of theirs, on my story and pulling ecumenical cards, rubs thumb repeatedly over the tip of the index and middle finger, as if there is a sound of rustling, says: We are only interested in money, who cares about brotherhood and Christianity.

Eventually, we bought a property, and if God willing, and government permits, we will build a church from the ground up. In the meantime, we started looking again, for a church that we could use on a lease. From pillar to post, from one end to the other, we got the same answer everywhere:  Get out, we do not know you. On one of the last attempts they gave us the “brotherly” answer: there is only a handful of us, we are getting older, but we enjoy it. They said, literally: “We are comfortable.” “Brothers” do not want to move a bit to the side, to allocate a little bit of a living space and to us.

Now, I’m thinking: Maybe some of their priests and priestesses, male and female bishops are sitting with our church dignitaries and chatting about the “ecumenical love”. I just want to tell them that I do not believe them.