GOARCH - May 26, 1998

Press Release of the Stavropegial Monastery of St. Irene $

His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon today issued a statement regarding the press release of the Stavropegial Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou concerning its official policy on anti-Semitic statements in the past. Upon reading the press release His Eminence said: "The Greek Orthodox Church of America gives thanks to God for the honest and loving rapprochement between the formerly independent Old Calendarist Churches who have not only joined the Great Church of Christ, but have repudiated any and all forms of anti-Semitism. We were privileged to bring together the Hierarchs of the Stavropegial Churches and our friend, the Interreligious Affairs Director of the American Jewish Committee Rabbi A. James Rudin at a gathering in honor of the Patriarch and Catholicos of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II. Meeting together in a spirit of fellowship and mutual respect, the seeds of Christ's commandment to love one another grew and blossomed with a rapidity that could only be of our Lord's making."

His Eminence continued: "We feel that the deep roots of our theological agreement regarding God's sovereignty over the entire created order has lead us to a new level of respect and growth in our understanding of one another. Let us build upon this firm foundation, to strengthen mutual respect and understanding between Jews and Greek Orthodox Christians everywhere. Let us trust that the Lord will illuminate our respective housed and guide each along His chosen path for us with love."

Archbishop Spyridon concluded: "After years of fruitful exchange in America and Europe and the clear and moving message enunciated by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Jewish community in America are poised on the edge of a new period in our relationship. I believe that we will expand our spiritual horizons, each remaining true to our respective traditions. In this way, we answer the call by God to understand the mystery of His Holy Presence in the life of the world. We look forward to the future of our dialogue, and are especially grateful for the warm relationship we have with the American Jewish Committee."

The Greek Orthodox Church in America has engaged in ongoing dialogues with the Jewish community through multi-lateral talks for many years. Some of these venues are: the National Council of Churches in Christ USA Jewish-Christian Consultation, the National Conference of Christians and Jews (now "The National Conference"), the biennial National Workshop on Jewish-Christian Relations, scores of interfaith gatherings and joint actions committees and numerous informal contacts. In Europe, the Ecumenical Patriarchate sponsored a bilateral conference of Orthodox Christian and Jewish theologians in Athens in 1993. Future projects include a volume of essays and studies co-published by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Office of Publications and the Anti-Defamation League.

A statement by the American Jewish Committee in response to the press release issued by the office of the monastery of St. Irene is to be released on Tuesday, the 26th of May.


Ecumenical Patriarchate
Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery
St. Irene Chrysovalantou

Press Release
For Immediate Release
May 21, 1998

Responding to reports of anti-Semitic remarks printed in The Voice of Orthodoxy, the Assistant Abbot of St. Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery, Bishop Vikentios of Apamea said: "We are saddened and deeply ashamed by these past statements regarding Jews." His Grace made this statement in conjunction with Metropolitan Paisios of Tyanna who also expressed his deep sorrow. "In the past, our publications did indeed reflect an unenlightened attitude toward Jews, perpetuating some anti-Semitic myths whose origins extend back into medieval times. We categorically deny these lies, and genuinely seek forgiveness for having communicated such un-Christian sentiments. We categorically reject all forms of anti-Semitism."

Bishop Vikentios added: "It was the official attitude of the Old Calendarist Church of Greece to say these things which we now know to be false. In rejoining the Great Church of Christ, and being guided in our return by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, we not only repent of these statements, but understand the true nature of our relationship to Jews and to people of other faiths. The Ecumenical Patriarchate's record of love and justice in this area has been a strict teacher and loving guide."

Bishop Vikentios continued: "The words of the Ecumenical Patriarch at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum continue to guide and inspire our views, and we look forward to the growth of our relationship with Jews and with the diverse peoples of the United States. It is our fervent wish to pursue peace and love in truth and open respect for all. His All Holiness said: 'The bitter truth for so many Christians of that terrible time was that they could not connect the message of their faith to their actions in the world. They were unable to manifest their faith from their deeds.' We will strive to be among those who guarantee the right of all human beings to live in dignity and respect, to love our neighbors as ourselves. We shall participate in the interfaith dialogue under the direction of our Ecumenical Patriarch."

The Stavropegial Church and Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou publishes a newspaper called The Voice of Orthodoxy. It was in this paper, some years ago that these anti-Semitic statements appeared.

  May 26, 1998 ]