Wednesday, May 7, 2014

St Raphael of Brooklyn on the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher

This is from Fr Michel Najim's translation of St Raphael's Historical glance at the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, originally published in Arabic in 1893. The entire text, around 50 pages, can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Giving thanks to God, the Holy One and Provider of all good things, asking Him to lead us in the right way and to guide us to arrive at the correct conclusion, we say that the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher is a strange phenomenon in the history of the Orthodox Church, even in the history of all Christian churches. We have described it as a Greek Brotherhood because it is constituted of only Greek members who are from a foreign land and speak a foreign language. For three and half centuries they have embezzled, through their craftiness and deception, the spiritual and administrative authority in the Patriarchal See of Jerusalem from thehands of the indigenous people, and restricted it to themselves alone, so that the Church of Jerusalem has lost its legal independence and its canonical freedom, and it became autocephalous in name only. Because the necessary bond between the shepherds and the flock, which exists in every autocephalous church, has been broken; it became divided into two segments:

1- The Celibate Greek clergy, who came from a foreign land and w ho speak a foreign language, as well as their descendants, who have gained power over all the earnings of the Holy Sepulcher a nd the rest of the Holy Places in Jerusalem and Palestine.

2- The indigenous Orthodox people, who not only were prevented from entering the monastic order, but whose religious and ecclesiastical needs were actually neglected.

The emergence of this Brotherhood in the Orthodox Church is no less strange than the emergence of the Jesuit Brotherhood in the Papal Church. The stranger thing, however, is the simultaneous establishing of these two Brotherhoods, as well as the ways which they used to reach their goals. Just as the Jesuit Brotherhood was established in 1534 at the hands of the Spanish monk Ignatius Loyola, so the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher was established in the same year, i.e., 1534, at the hands of the monk Germanus the Peloponnesian. Both of them adopted a principle contradictory to the spirit of religion and humanity so that they might achieve their ambition, in other words the end justifies the means. In spite of the congruity in the date of establishment and in certain usages, whether lawful or unlawful, to reach their goal, they entertain different views in two areas which give the Jesuits preference from a religious and human standpoint over the monks of Jerusalem. For the goal of the Jesuit Brotherhood was to advocate Papal supremacy for the sake of the glory of the most high God; a goal that does not preclude any one of all the nations under the jurisdiction of the Pope from becoming a member in this Brotherhood. The Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, however, has only one objective--their self-interest covered under the pretext of Greek nationality. For this reason, it does not accept in its membership anyone who is not Greek.

What helped the founders of this Brotherhood to appropriate the spiritual authority of the Church of Jerusalem from the indigenous people, and to restrict it to its own members, was the great influence of the monks of Constantinople who belonged to the same race. Their influence was also due to their closeness to the Sublime Porte. After eliminating the autocephalicity of the Serbian and the Bulgarian Churches through their enormous prerogatives and their wide spiritual authority which had been granted to them by the late Sultan Mahmmed, the conqueror over all the Orthodox people living within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. The monks of the Phanar, who were at that time the leaders of reviving Greek nationalism, started helping in every way possible their compatriots, i.e., the monks of Jerusalem, to fulfill their national ambition. Their intent was to abduct the spiritual authority of the Church of Jerusalem from the hands of her indigenous children, coveting the tremendous incomes of the Holy Sepulcher. Through these incomes, the monks of Jerusalem have procured the abduction of the Patriarchal See of Jerusalem, making it a hereditary position to be awarded to a successor in conformity with the will of his predecessor. This took place until the time of Cyril the Patriarch of Jerusalem, when they repealed the tradition of inheritance, and started to appoint the Patriarch by an election restricted to the Greeks. The fact is that the indigenous Orthodox element declined in force to such a degree that it was deprived of any will to challenge the issue of the Patriarchal election. When Greece was liberated from the control of the Ottoman Empire through the revolution, the leaders of Greek nationalism moved from Al-Phanar to Athens. However, when the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, with the aid of Al-Phanar monks, had achieved its objective in the Church of Jerusalem--in such a manner that it maintained only few Orthodox indigenous members--it pledged to fulfill the same objective in the neighboring Church of Antioch by leaning on the support of the Greek government through its agents in Syria. Unfortunately, since the children of the Antiochian Church did not at first pay any attention to the abominable intent of the Brotherhood, it was able within a short time to somehow reach its goal. It enthroned the following three members on the Patriarchal See of Antioch: Irotheos, Garasimus and the present Patriarch Spirydon. Moreover, it did not spare any effort to, by any means available, replace all the indigenous bishops of the Church of Antioch with Greek bishops. The time came that when all the Antiochian bishops would come from the Brotherhood, thus easily excluding all the indigenous clergy from ecclesiastical offices. This further prevented them from entering a monastic order, as it had already done to the indigenous Orthodox people in Jerusalem.

 We would not have tried to disclose the secret of the Brother hood of Jerusalem and to reveal its deeds--which are contradictory to the spirit of religion and humanity--were it not for its recent ravenous attack upon the Antiochian Church. In order to procure domination over them, it makes light of the Ordinances and disdains the Laws. In such a situation it is our religious and law-abiding duty to reveal the hidden and the concealed things about the origin and the source of the Brotherhood. We must remove the veil from its deeds, plans, incomes and ambitions, by relying on the earnest historians and devout writers of Greek, Arab, and Russian nationalities, so that we can serve our fellow citizens and our fellow believers. We must also awaken those who are unmindful and those who, because of blind-heartedness or imprudent-mindedness, are coveting to obtain unjust earnings. They failed to recognize that they bring shame upon themselves and upon their fellow citizens and their fellow believers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Celibate Greek clergy, who came from a foreign land and w ho speak a foreign language, as well as their descendants

Oh, snap.