The Wisdom of Not Judging Our Bishops

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Saint Paisios of Mount Athos:

The Lord says in His Gospel, “Anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:22). How, then, will it be possible to escape the judgement of God for all those who make false accusations not against their brothers, but against the clergy ordained by the grace of God!

Sadly, many people nowadays are irking the Mother Church. The more educated have accepted its teachings with their minds, but not with the spirit of the Holy Fathers. The ignorant stick to the doctrine too rigidly and gnarl their teeth in any argument. Both do their Mother Church a great disservice that exceeds the damage that it suffers from its enemies.

Good children, I suppose, will not disparage their mother.

***

Priest George Maximov, theologian, religious scholar and Christian missionary:

Fr. George Maximov

Let me share this story. One evening, I was was having a conversation with a friend, and we started talking about some bishops of the church. Of some, I was very critical. However, I thought I was entitled to my remarks because they were factual. I was confident that my motives were right, and served the benefit of the Church.

That same night I had a dream. I was climbing under the dome of an old church, and I was already quite high above the ground, holding on to a wooden beam. To my dismay, the beams had decayed quite a lot. If any one of them broke, I would fall to the ground and die. But the beams were strong enough to hold me, despite the decay. My dream reminded me of the bishops whom I had criticised. Something dawned on me, and I asked myself, “They are holding you and keeping you from falling. How can you judge them?”

The way I tell this story may make it sound somewhat bland, but its message to me was crisp and clear. The faithful have a living connection with a bishop. Saint Ignatius of Antioch referred to it when he wrote, “where the bishop is, there is the Catholic Church.” Previously, I thought of it as something abstract or symbolic, like the line of command in an organisation. Yet my dream showed me how the bishop had a role in all the sacraments performed by his priests, as Saint Simeon had taught. The bishop provides a channel for the grace of God that uplifts me in my confession and strengthens me through the Eucharist.

Bishops may have their weaknesses. They are not immune to sin, but they keep us from falling nevertheless. When we are hanging high under the dome, that is the only thing that matters.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

About the author

The Editor of the Catalog of Good Deeds.

Comments

  1. We should not judge a bishop, nor our brothers, but we can not confuse that with discernment. When a bishop falls into heresy then we must call it out and pray for correction. And if the bishop does not return to the truth, we are obligated to find a bishop who confesses the True Faith. Today we have bishops that state openly and with bare head Orthodoxy is not the One True Faith. They preach that the fullness of grace and the Holy Mysteries exist outside the Orthodox Church. Bishops who not only embrace the papal calendar, but who want to abandon the Orthodox Paschalion. There are bishops who still embrace and do not reject sergianisn. There are bishops who join in prayer with the heterodox, in violation of the canons. There are bishops who are free masons. There are bishops who give Holy Communion to Roman Catholics and to those who reject the Seven Ecumenical Councils. And on and on. Are we to obey these “bishops”? Do we follow those who are not shepherds, but wolves? God forbid!

  2. Many Orthodox Bishops have been judged during the past 100 years. Sometimes by problems they have caused by their own actions. For example, the Calendar Change issues. Also, some issues not under the control of the Church. Example, is during Communist control of a country how and if the Church was compromised. In countries that are free and libertine, what is ” ecumenisn”.

  3. we can question a Bishop or Priest with love, clear conscious … it is our duty to do so, otherways blind we will be, not sure of ourselves, Orthodoxy … and more, it is their duty to answer … and, an honest Bishop one who has z e r o to hide, will do that with brotherly love … it means we care … correct Nectarios is

    God Bless

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