Message to The Mother Church for 1902 (Authorized Edition)

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It is, moreover, pleasing to God, and in accordance with the Gospel, to seek the mind of The Most Holy Autocephalous Churches on the subject of our present and future relations with the two great growths of Christianity, viz. The Western Church and the Church of the Protestants.

Of course, the union of them an of all who believe in Christ with us in the Orthodox faith is the pious and heart-felt desire of our Church and of all genuine Christians who stand firm in the evangelical doctrine of unity, and it is the subject of constant prayer and supplication; but at the same time we are not unaware that this pious desire comes up against the unbroken persistence of these Churches in doctrines on which, having taken their stand as on a base hardened by the passage of time, they seem quite disinclined to join a road to union, such as is pointed out by evangelical and historical truth; nor do they evince any readiness to do so, except on terms and bases on which the desired dogmatic unity and fellowship is unacceptable to us.

It is a truism that the holy catholic and apostolic Church is founded upon the Apostles and preserved by the divine and inspired Fathers in the Ecumenical Councils, and that her head is Christ the great shepherd, who bought her with his own blood; and that according to the inspired and heaven bound Apostle she is the pillar and ground of the truth and the body of Christ: this holy Church is indeed one in identity of faith and similarity of manners and customs, in unison with the decisions of the seven Ecumenical Councils, and she must be one and not many differing from each other in dogmas and fundamental institutions of ecclesiastical government.

If, as in every matter which is impossible with men but impossible with God, we cannot yet hope for the union of all as ever being a possibility, yet because divine grace is constantly active and men are being guided in paths of evangelical love and peace, one must consider very carefully whether it might be possible to prepare the at present anomalous way which leads to such a goal and to find points of encounter and contact, or even to turn a blind eye to certain irregularities until the completion in due course of the whole task, whereby might be fulfilled to our joint satisfaction and benefit our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ's saying about one flock and one shepherd.

Wherefore, if it might be acceptable to the holy brethren to follow up this suggestion, we are bold to add this fraternal question: whether the present is judged to be the right time for a preliminary conference on this, to prepare a level ground for a fraternal approach and to determine, by common agreement of members of the whole of our Orthodox Church, what might be considered the best bases, ways and means.

Clearly relevant to Christian unity are the questions concerning those Western Christians who recently separated from the Roman Church and call themselves Old Catholics, and who say that they accept the teachings of the undivided Church down to the 9th century and the decrees of the seven holy Ecumenical Councils: they claim that they are already in the Orthodox Church as a whole, and they seek union and communion with her as the remaining task of formal regularisation.

The impetuous zeal for Christian truth and evangelical love on the part of these pious Christians is all together praiseworthy, and in their fine struggle they proved themselves to be filled with it. Their conferences, resolutions and acts are well known to the Christian world, as are their dogmatic and liturgical teaching through their catechetical and symbolical books.

A clear and agreed opinion as to their professed confession of faith does not yet prevail among us, but various opinions about it are expressed by our churchmen, both by those who have known them at close quarters and also by those who have studied them at a distance: some of them have decided that on important dogmatic points this confession is still far from perfect Orthodoxy, and others on the contrary consider it not to contain essential differences which would preclude unity of faith and ecclesiastical communion but to be a well-nigh complete acceptance by hem of the complete healthy Orthodox teaching and tradition.

We think it good, therefore, to invite the pious and fraternal views of the holy Orthodox sister-Churches on this important matter, as to whether they deem it opportune and what way would be good and acceptable to facilitate the realisation of the desire of these Christians for complete union with us, as an auspicious first-fruit of the hoped-for and longed-for unity of all Christians.