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The Filioque in the Phanar: A Public Declaration of Heresy? An Update

Updated: Jul 28

Subdeacon Nektarios, M.A.

 

The press office from the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania announced that a former member of their jurisdiction, who left and later emigrated to the United States joining the jurisdiction of the Metropolia's (OCA) Romanian Episcopate, Fr. Theophan (Arjan) Koja, was recently selected by the Heresiarch Archbishop of the Greek Archdiocese, Elpidophoros, to be elevated to the episcopacy. The Holy Synod of the Albanian Orthodox Church in a statement concerning this individual wrote on their official website:

Archimandrite Theophan (Arjan) Koja, known to the Orthodox of Albania as a leader of divisive actions, was born in Tirana in 1966. He attended for a while the seminary in Durrës and then went to Romania, where he was ordained a deacon and later a priest. Returning to the country, at the head of a group of ultra-nationalists, on October 8th, 1995, he expelled the celebrants of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy from the Holy Church of the Panagia in the Castle, in the old town of Elbasan. There he installed Nikolla Marku, “ordained” by a schismatic Bishop of the Church of Skopje, under the name “Independent National Albanian Orthodox Church of Saint Maria Elbasan” (Kisha Ortodokse e pavarur Kombetare shqiptare Shen Maria Elbasan). (For an account of this painful divisive action see the journal Ngjallja – November 1995).


Thereafter, his accomplice Nikolla Marku, has not ceased publicly calling the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania as Greek. Using purely nationalist and political terminology, Nikolla Marku continues to occupy the historic Orthodox Church of Elbasan to this day. (See more than 15 related responses in the Ngjallja journal e.g. November 2015, February 2016, April 2016, November 2018).


After his failure, Archimandrite Theophan settled in the USA, where he joined the Romanian Church. He never sought forgiveness for his disruptive actions in the early years of the restoration of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania. Three years ago, he moved to Boston and sought to become Bishop in succession to Metropolitan Nikon (Liolin). However, the leadership of the O.C.A. avoided his election, when they received reliable information of his subversive actions.


Recently he sought to join the Greek Orthodox Church of America. Archbishop Elpidophoros promised him elevation to the Episcopate, and with a rapid procedure, according to the official press release, he was elected Bishop of Philomelion “serving the pastoral needs of the Albanian Orthodox Diocese under the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople”.


Surprise and bewilderment are widespread among the Orthodox of Albania regarding this unexpected development due to the insistence of the Archbishop of America, Elpidophoros. We confine ourselves to the necessary reminder of the divisive problems provoked by Archimandrite Theophan during the reconstruction from the ruins of the longsuffering Church of Albania.

Tirana July 5, 2023

From the Secretariat of the Holy Synod [1].


However, we all know that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOARCH) and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in general, has a long history of recycling canonically defrocked clergymen and those pseudo-clergymen produced by them, such as the layman Serhii Petrovych Dumenko, also known as "Metropolitan" Epiphanius of the heretical sect of the "Orthodox Church of Ukraine" (OCU), and the now layman Mr. Alexander Belya, who was canonically defrocked by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia or bringing in dubious others into their folds. According to another announcement by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania which can be found on their Albanian language home page the Phanar, in cooperation with the Heresiarch of America, Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis), during this liturgy included the synodically condemned filioque clause in their recitation of the Nicene Creed.

The Ecumenical Heresiarch Bartholomew & the Layman, Mr Serhii Petrovych Dumenko, playing dress up as an Orthodox Hierarch

According to the official website of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, this new hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in his public confession of the Nicene Creed has included the heretical filioque clause, presumably with the approval of, or in conjunction with both Bartholomew and Elpidophoros. The statement from the Secretariat of the Holy Synod states:


The saboteur of the unity of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania is rewarded in an unprecedented manner. The one who is unfit to lead an Orthodox flock is approved in an unprecedented manner. At the decisive moment of his episcopal ordination, during the Liturgy presided over by the Archbishop of America, Mr. Elpidophoros, on July 25, 2023, Theofan Koja proclaimed the Symbol of Faith along with the Filioque.


From the press office of the Holy Synod [2].


Now, with all of the heretical activities that have been produced by both Bartholomew and Elpidophoros in the last few years, we have to wonder if they too were reciting the filioque heresy while saying the Nicene Creed as well. Unfortunately, the Synodal website of the Church in Albania does not give us this detail but knowing the track record of these two it would not come as a surprise to anyone. We know the 8th Ecumenical Council, under Saint Photios the Great condemned the filioque, but regardless nothing is going to stop these two arch-heresiarchs from accomplishing their false union with the Latin Papists in 2025.


Update

Since this story of the newly consecrated "bishop" confessing heresy at his consecration hit the Orthodox wire, it has caused a major reaction out of the Orthodox world and led to a statement of clarification from Theophan (Koja). According to this clarification, Koja states that the reason he confessed the heretical Filioque was because of the "high emotion and anxiety of the moment" and that he confesses true Orthodoxy [3]. Essentially, we are to believe, according to Koja, that although he has been an Orthodox Christian his entire life and has repeated the Nicene Creed, presumably, without the heretical Filioque; it was just this one essential moment in his Orthodox life that he confessed this heresy. How likely is it that on this momentous occasion, a slip of the heretical Filioque just spontaneously came out of his mouth during his confession of faith? Or was this more a moment of a Freudian slip or a muscle memory recitation?

Arch-Heresiarch Elpidophoros & Pseudo-Bishop Theophan Koja

In the book by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) entitled Eustratios Argenti: A Study of the Greek Church Under Turkish Rule he recounts in the history of the Orthodox Church in Constantinople that Papist missionaries undertook an "open and aggressive proselytism among Orthodox congregations, but rather to win the confidence of the Greeks to infiltrate among them, and so work upon them within. Converts, [...] were told to continue outwardly as members of their previous Church, and to receive communion there as before. Thus in the course of the seventeenth century, there was built up a powerful crypto-Roman party within outward boundaries of the Orthodox Church [...]. The crypto-Romanists included a number of Greek bishops: the missionaries persuaded them to send professions of faith to Rome, but told them not to make their submission public, nor to cease from holding office as before in the Orthodox hierarchy." [4]


Rather than a spontaneous and accidental slip of the tongue, after having read the extensive history of this very issue that has plagued the Patriarchate of Constantinople since the 17th century, I am highly doubtful that this clarified confession is genuine, especially because of the road of apostasy that the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Archdiocese of America have a well-documented track record of going down. As I have written about in a previous article the Ecumenical Patriarchate is barreling full speed ahead into a false union with the Latin Papists, which up until now has included praying with them, serving various ecumenical prayer services together and in 2016 having gone so far as to commemorate the heretical pope during a divine liturgy at the Phanar. But this heretical confession of the Filioque is a mere accident?


The consecration of Koja which has been proven to have been established on the heretical doctrine of the Filioque must now be called into question as to its legitimacy. According to theologian Kostas Nousis in his published article at Romfea this is an illegitimate consecration. The statement by Nousis states:


If the rumors are true that during the ordination of Archimandrite Theophanes Koja to Bishop at the Phanar, the Creed was recited with the addition of Filioque - a Latin heresy and erroneous addition - then automatically the ordination becomes invalid! Moreover, those who were present and remained silent are also responsible, as this constitutes a falsification of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. With matters of faith, no one can play games within the Orthodox Church, regardless of their hierarchical position within it. Unfortunately, once again, Archbishop America Elpidophoros appears to be the cause of scandal.


We remember the actions of this bishop in performing the baptism of a child by a same-sex couple. If the recent events are indeed true, this hierarch should probably apologize and step down, unless he formally seeks forgiveness from the scandalized Orthodox Flock under his care. These are perilous days. In times when even Roman Catholics largely avoid using Filioque, it is unthinkable for Orthodox clergy to engage in such actions. At the same time, the anti-ecumenists are waiting in the corner to confirm their suspicions! Let it be known to all ecumenists with dark intentions that the Church of Christ will not tolerate any compromise in matters of doctrine. Let us all stand well, let us stand with fear [5].


The circumstances around this event are indeed unfortunate, however, they seem to be par for the course for anything that has to do with either the Ecumenical Patriarchate or the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which is why the Orthodox faithful must always "Keep an eye on your bishops as far as their Orthodoxy is concerned" as Saint Gennadios Scholarios advises us to do.

 

References


[1]. "Fr. Theophan (Arjan) Koja was elected Auxiliary Bishop for Albanians in the USA!" Official Website of the Orthodox Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania, accessed July 27th, 2023, https://orthodoxalbania.org/2020/en/2023/07/05/fr-theophan-arjan-koja-was-elected-auxiliary-bishop-for-albanians-in-the-usa/


[2]. "Njoftim – Shpërblehet në mënyrë të pashembullt sabotuesi i unitetit të Kishës Orthodhokse Autoqefale të Shqipërisë," Faqja Zyrtare e Kishës Orthodhokse Autoqefale të Shqipërisë, accessed July 27th, 2023, https://orthodoxalbania.org/2020/2023/07/26/njoftim-shperblehet-ne-menyre-te-pashembullt-sabotuesi-i-unitetit-te-kishes-orthodhokse-autoqefale-te-shqiperise/


[3]. "Διευκρινιστική Δήλωση του Θεοφιλ. Επισκόπου Φιλομηλίου κ. Θεοφάνη,"Ανακοινώσεις Πατριαρχείου, accessed July 28th, 2023, https://ec-patr.org/%CE%B4%CE%B9%CE%B5%CF%85%CE%BA%CF%81%CE%B9%CE%BD%CE%B9%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%AE-%CE%B4%CE%AE%CE%BB%CF%89%CF%83%CE%B7-%CF%84%CE%BF%CF%85-%CE%B8%CE%B5%CE%BF%CF%86%CE%B9%CE%BB-%CE%B5%CF%80%CE%B9/


[4]. Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), Eustratios Argenti: A Study of the Greek Church Under Turkish Rule (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964), 24-25.


[5]. "Άκυρη η χειροτονία του π. Θεοφάνους Κόγια," Romfea, accessed July 28th, 2023, https://www.romfea.gr/katigories/10-apopseis/58051-akyri-i-xeirotonia-tou-p-theofanous-kogia

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