By  Father Michael Azkoul

Dear Father, 
      Why is the acceptance of the Gregorian Calendar a deviation from the faith of the Orthodox Church?


     Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement has involved no compromise of the Faith? 

     The first casualty of the ecumenical movement has been the doctrine of the Church. Common prayer with heretics is forbidden by the Canons (10th, 11th, 45th - 47th, 65th, 68th Apostolic Canons; 6th Canon of Laodicea, etc.). Lex credendi et lex orandi.

   You say you will not believe that ecumenism is a heresy unless it is condemned by a General or Universal Council of the Orthodox Church? 

     Where is such a notion taught by the Scriptures, the Fathers or the Ecumenical Councils? Is chiliasm or millennialism a heresy? Which Ecumenical Council has condemned it?  Which Ecumenical Council rejected Roman Catholicism or the multitude of Protestant sects as heresies? 

The Calendar Problem
Act 7 of the Council of Constantinople (20 Nov 1583 o.s.):

    "He that does not follow the customs of the Church  and what the seven Ecumenical Councils have  decreed concerning the Holy Pascha and the calendar  which have been laid down as law for us to follow,  but desire to follow the Gregorian Paschalion and  calendar, let him, as well as the impious astronomers who contradicts all the decrees of the  Holy Councils and wishes to change and weaken them,  be anathema, separated from the Church of Christ and the assembly of the Faithful.
     What is the source for this Council's decision on the calendar? May we simply ignore a local Council? What most concerned the 1583 Council? The Paschalion? and the calendar?  Anathema --- what a strong word?  It means to be separated from the Church of Christ and the assembly of the Faithful?  Is the "calendar problem" so critical?  Why? 

     The "calendar problem" was of sufficient importance to deserve the attention of four Councils, three which condemned the New Calendar, a fourth which discarded the Old Calendar.  Who was present at the Pan-Orthodox Council of 1923, presided over by the ambitious and unscrupulous Freemason, Patriarch Meletios Metexakis? Why did his "robber synod" presume to reverse the decisions of Nicea, the Pan-Orthodox Council of 1583, etc.?  In the history of the Church, has there been another instance in which one genuine Orthodox Council, local or universal, has abrogated the decrees of another genuine Orthodox Council?  Why did Metaxakis defy 1583, etc.?  Have you read the Church history of the 1920's? 

     The Julian Calendar was adopted as the Church Calendar by the First Ecumenical Council which, according to A.N. Zelinsky (Anthology of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, 1978), introduced a "lunar course" revision (i.e., the movement of the moon through its different phases).  This correction was necessary for fixing the date of Pascha and the feasts dependent on it (see Bishop Gregory Grabbe, "The Betrayal of Orthodoxy Through the Calendar," Orthodox Life XXX, 6 (1983), 34-36). What does this suggest? 

     No serious advocate of the Old Calendar argues a priori the New Calendar is heretical; it is not a doctrine of the Church, but a hallowed custom; it is a universal custom (as opposed to local customs) among universal customs without which Orthodoxy would be incomplete (See the relevant chapters in St. Basil's On the Holy Spirit). 

     Thus, the New Calendar must be anathematized as heretical --- for its violation of sacred custom, but also for the uncanonical means by which it was adopted as well as the motives which inspired it; and surely because of the consequences which follow the alteration of an ancient and sacred custom bearing the weight of law.  True Orthodox cannot be reconciled to the attempts by certain interests within the Church to "modernize" and "westernize" Orthodox ecclesiology, like the so-called "Living Church" in Russia; and, yes, for its association with ecumenism (Patriarchal Encyclical of 1920).  The Old Calendar is only the first victim of the zeitgeist. 

     Was "updating" the ecclesiastical Calendar the only reason for the papal reform? What was the cultural and intellectual atmosphere of sixteenth century in the post-Orthodox West? Was anti-Roman Catholicism the sole motivation for the condemnation of the New Calendar by the Great Council of 1593? Did reactionary paranoia strike Patriarchs Jeremy II of Constantinople, Sylvester and Meletius Pegas of Alexandria, Sophronius of Jerusalem, Joachim of Antioch

     We are aware that Pascha antedates the Julian Calendar and the primitive Church followed various calendars. Nicea fixed the date of the Paschalion (and related feasts) for purposes of liturgical unity, cognizant of numerous religious practices as central to the protection of doctrinal unity. Clearly this was understanding of the Church of Finland's adoption of the solaced "new Paschalion" --- notwithstanding a history of counciliar opposition to "the Gregorian reform."  The Finns apparently have a different idea of the "Christian Church" than most Orthodox do.  Anyone looking for evidence of ecumenist influence on the Orthodox Church need look no further. 

     The New Calendar threatens the structure and unity of Orthodox worship which, since 325 AD, exists forever, for every member of Christ's Church everywhere. Universally sacred customs have the force of law praeter legem.  Thus, Orthodox Christians are obliged to celebrate Pascha after the Jewish Passover and the vernal equinox --- and all that this entails --- by virtue of that custom instituted by lawful counciliar decision.  We are obliged to conform to Nicea's decision and all subsequent reaffirmations of it. 

   Or do you think that "the Pan-Orthodox Council" of 1923 supersedes the authority of Nicea?  Do you hold that fathers of this Ecumenical Council are guilty of introducing a novelty into the Tradition of the Church?  Also the Councils of 1583, 1587, 1593? 

     Is it pure coincidence that those Orthodox Churches which have adopted the New Calendar have also gutted traditional Church order (pews, loss of dress code, separation of the sexes, kneeling on Sunday, absence of prostrations, comical icons, etc.)?  Or is this violation of sacred customs more clearly related to the spirit of the times? to ecumenism, perhaps?  What do you think? Does Church order have anything to do with the teaching of Church doctrine?  Lex orandi et lex credendi. 

     How sad that Orthodox dispute over something decided and practiced for almost seventeen hundred years.  The Holy Spirit would not permit His Church to do or to believe what is heretical, irrelevant, frivolous or relative for so long a time, especially something which was so naturally a part Church life, until the twentieth century. Why do you think this quarrel has arisen?