On the Original Purpose of the Old Calendarist Movement

Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina 1870-1955

[W]e joined the struggle under the restitution of the Patristic Calendar to the Church, setting as our primary goal, not the creation of a permanent ecclesiastical division, but the pacification of the Church and the union of all [Orthodox] Christians in the celebration of the Feasts. When we raised this flag of Orthodox unity, we proclaimed right from the beginning not only that we would uphold the right-believing authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece, which the innovators have unworthily upset, but also that we would curb the excesses towards which the calendar struggle was deviating, bereft, as it was, of pastoral supervision, by way of the Hagiorite Priests who headed it, because of a lack of theological and canonical education, uncanonically re-chrismating the children of New Calendarists, to the detriment of the struggle and to the diminution of its Orthodox authority. (A Letter by Bishop Chrysostomos, Former Metropolitan of Florina, to His Grace, Bishop Germanos (Varykopoulos) of the Cyclades, in Response to the Latter’s Open Letter of October 20, 1937)

We Old Calendarists, however, do not constitute a particular, independent Orthodox Church in Greece, because no Church has recognized us as such; rather we exist within the recognized Autocephalous Greek Church as a sentinel that guards the institution of the Orthodox Festal Calendar, which was violated– as it should not have been– by the majority of the hierarchy; and we, who are continuing her history in the spirit of Orthodoxy. This erroneous and uncanonical idea, that we constitute a special Church, was thrown into the ring and introduced into political life by the late Archbishop Chrysostomos (Papadopoulos) of Athens, deliberately and maliciously, in order to portray us, in the eyes of the government and Greek society, as rebels who have lifted up our heels against the Autocephalous Church of Greece, and in this way to expose us to the ire of the government and the general disdain of society. (A Pastoral Encyclical)

The error…rests on the misapprehension that the Old Calendarists adhered to the ancestral traditions because the New Calendar Church was deprived of Divine Grace from the outset, as the conventicler bishops say. This perhaps can happen to those who follow a conventicle. But the Old Calendarists who knowledgeably belong to our Orthodox segment are well aware that following the Old Calendar is not a corollary of the validity or invalidity of the Mysteries of the New Calendarists, a question on which a valid synod alone has the right to pronounce. It is, rather, an inevitable necessity if one is to avoid sharing in the New Calendarists’ responsibility for the innovation, and a shining example of the boundless reverence and the sacred and godly zeal by which the followers of our Orthodox segment are animated with regard to the venerable traditions of the Church.

The demagogy and the opportunism of the contrary opinion lie, on the one hand, in the hope of attracting other converts to the Old Calendar, brandishing the invalidity of the Mysteries of the New Calendarists as a bugbear, and, on the other hand, in keeping these followers, and especially the gullible and lukewarm, in our sacred struggle. But the use of such demagogic and illegitimate means in order to hunt after followers for our Orthodox faction, while it may be permitted in the Latin Church, which has as an ethical maxim the Jesuit dictum, “The end sanctifies the means,” is not permitted by the Eastern Orthodox Church, which always teaches aright the word of truth. (A Clarification by Metropolitan Chrysostomos of His Pastoral Encyclical; Athens, January 18, 1945)