content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1"> Extracts from Fr. Neketas' Farewell Sermon  

Extracts from the Farewell Sermon of Father Neketas given at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church on January 21, 1968

     The time has come and is here when certain statements must be made without hiding and without compromise; statements which must be understood as expressing love of Christ and His Holy Church and of the Truth which He represents and is. We are witnessing in out times that of which our Lord spoke in the 24th chapter of St. Matthew. He says that in those days God’s obvious enemies will be those who appear as friends of God as Christians without being so in truth. It is from them that Christ wishes to preserve the faithful because His enemies will be able to deceive many by their manner. The very Orthodox Christian faith in these later days is being attacked by those who should be its defenders and spokesmen. For these people Orthodoxy is irrelevant and anachronistic; it is one of many religions with little spiritual value or depth for them. They enjoy its external trappings of vestments, music, architecture and art and find themselves untransformed by its message. 

     The Orthodox Christian faith is to me of incomparable value. It is not an item to be bartered, debated and finally compromised on the ecumenical altar of humanistic and anthropocentric love which excludes truth and real divine love. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in His love for us gave us the Church as “the pillar and foundation of truth” (I Timothy 3:15) “with no speck or anything like that buy holy and faultless” (Ephesians 5:27). I cannot conceive how it can be offered on the altar of ecumenical dialogue to be dissected and autopsied for the sake of some abstract “love”. 

     ...Our leaders attack the theologians as being guilty of preventing the much-desired union of the churches. But if the theologians who study God and who have spent their lives in prayer, fasting, spiritual edification offer their objections to union without dogmatic agreement, then how can out leaders say that a union can be accomplished without dogmatic and doctrinal agreement? A united church, the type our leaders advocate in which each one will maintain his own separate and conflicting dogmas, cannot be “the pillar and foundation of truth” of which St. Paul speaks. Yet, clergy and laity alike through devious means skillfully, tactfully, and resolutely are being drawn into such a position of false compromise. Only a few months ago, a Greek Orthodox bishop in Boston declared that the dogmas of papal infallibility and the immaculate conception of the blessed Virgin Mary were not serious obstacles to Orthodox-Roman Catholic union. All these years Orthodox have condemned these doctrines and now we hear from  an Orthodox bishop that they do no constitute serious obstacles to union with Rome. Obviously, something is wrong here. 

     ...Well-informed Orthodox lay-woman Katherine Menan writes in an article on Greek Orthodox renewal “that there can be no apathy over what one regards as most precious in life. It is naturally the object of vigilant thought and constant concern.” She writes that the Orthodox Faith must be important to us. It cannot be easily bartered, debated and disposed of. If our Orthodox Faith is important to us the we must speak out over the corrections and distortions of it which are being made. Our Archdiocese has become an autocratic, self-centered institution which is consolidating its authority much like Rome. All privilege and rights of Orthodox Christians are slowly but surely being taken away and the Archbishop abuses his canonical rights. Our leaders are not concerned with truth but only with image and glorification. We are told that nothing divides Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants and that the union of the churches must occur. In order to silence objectors to the ecumenical policies of the Patriarch and Archbishop we are told that the Patriarch represent all of Orthodoxy and the Archbishop is his representative in this country. Therefore, other  Orthodox who speak out are silenced because they do not represent the “official political line” of the Patriarchate. even among Roman Catholics and Anglicans we hear real concern expressed by them as to the suppressing of traditional Christian teaching in order to become modern and up-to-date. Modernization of theology in not the solution; transformation of self is. 

     The blending of various groups is beginning and soon the Orthodox will fall completely into the ecumenical funnel and will come out as a bland faith incapable of expressing truth and willing to mix with anything to give it vitality and equality which it will lose in this ecumenical blend. Orthodox are slowly being drawn into an ecumenical super-church which will somehow have the Pope as its head yet, Orthodox will retain their Patriarch, languages, customs, etc., so that they will not realize they’ve been absorbed. 

     Being part of a church which is becoming Roman Catholic in its administration, Protestant in its faith and Greek Orthodox in its ritual is not for me.... While Orthodoxy is being rapidly recognized as a “fourth major faith,” it is simultaneously losing its Orthodox character. We are keeping the external trappings and giving away our internal spiritual wealth and truth. 

     At this point, I must deplore most strenuously the deal standards of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese which have created extremely difficult and illogical situations within our church. For example, in our parish we have Orthodox Christians of a Jurisdiction which according to our Archdiocese is uncanonical and these Orthodox Christians are deprived of all rights, privileges, and services of the church. Yet, at the same time as these Orthodox Christians are deprived of all rights we see Archbishop Iakovos performing a Memorial Service for Cardinal Spellman, while our Orthodox Christians are denied these rites because they are uncanonical. 

     The Archdiocese has forced GOYA to drop its membership in the Council of Eastern Orthodox Youth Leaders of America, because an uncanonical Ukrainian group is a member and the Archdiocese has said we cannot belong to such a group which allows these uncanonical Orthodox to pray with the canonical Orthodox. While prohibiting canonical and uncanonical Orthodox to pray together, the Archdiocese encourages joint prayer services with no-Orthodox. 

     ...I feel that I must enter an Orthodox Jurisdiction which has endeavored to remain Orthodox within the confusion and contradictions of our times. This group, with which I have had personal contacts, does not consist of many hundreds of thousands as does our own Archdiocese; nor does it boast of impressive structures and unique financial money-raising ideas; it is a group whose members are few, and yet one can sense the spiritual joy and happiness of the bishops and clergy of this group. Our Lord has said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am also.”