ROAC America

A Partial List of Righteous Bishops
Unjustly Deposed By Synods

Leaving aside the Old Testament examples of the Prophets like Jeremiah and Isaiah, who were generally not received in their day and condemned by the sanhedrin and priesthood and the people and the government, we can cite:

Christ, Himself, was condemned by a majority vote of the Presbyters of the Sanhedrin with only two dissenting, and this was accepted by the overwhelming majority of the people at the instigation of the priests.

St. Firmilian of Caesarea Cappodocia who was condemned and excommunicated along with St. Cyprian by a Western synod of bishops for refusing to accept the baptisms of heretics and to celebrate Pascha according to the Roman and Alexandrian tradition (a dispute over the interpretation of the Apostolic rules and customs concerning Pascha).

St. Athanasius the Great was deposed on false charges with false witnesses and sent into exile (St. Athanasius asserted that Constantine saw the bishops in the East were dominated by secret arians and wanted to spare St. Athanasius getting murdered, so he sent him to the Orthodox-dominated West) But regardless, he was condemned by several synods of reputedly Orthodox bishops (some of whom afterwards openly came out for Arianism) and spent most of his episcopate in formal ‘deposed’ status.

St. Eustathios of Antioch, a leader of the Nicene Synod and Orthodox, was slandered by false witnesses and deposed by an Eastern Synod along the same lines as St. Athanasios the Great. He was succeeded by St. Meletios who immediately suffered persecution and false accusation as soon as he started to proclaim Orthodoxy to the people and was likewise condemned, deposed, and exiled and replaced.

St. Ephraim the Syrian who was made a deacon by St. Basil was accused and condemned by his bishop for being the father of a child by a young unmarried woman - there was another Deacon Ephraim who was the real culprit, and St. Ephraim only was cleared of the charge by a miracle of the baby speaking and accusing the real father in the midst of the synod.

St. John Chrysostom was deposed on false testimony by the Synod of the Oak under the presidency of Theophilus and a number of Egyptian bishops along with the Emperor and a majority of his own Greek and Asian bishops. He was deposed and exiled and his followers persecuted as alleged schismatics. He died in lonely exile on the Black Sea. Even righteous men like St. Cyril of Alexandria and many others believed that the charges were true and that St. John was justly deposed - and only a vision from the Virgin Mary and a letter from his relative St. Isidore of Pelusium corrected his error.

St. Hypatius was a bishop of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate who ceased commemorating Nestorius the Patriarch when he heard him preach against calling the Virgin Mary Mother of God or Theotokos and his other blasphemies. He was deposed by a synod of bishops of the Patriarchate.

St. Flavian along with Bishop Paul and one other were deposed at the Council of Ephesus; because they alone out of hundreds of bishops and priests refused to accede to the Emperor and the majority and condemn Flavian for his deposition of the politically-connected archimandrite Evtyches (father of monophysitism). St. Flavian was deposed by a synod of numerous, mostly eastern bishops claiming to be an Ecumenical Council, but known in history as the Robber Council of Ephesus at which Patriarch Dioscorus of Alexandria presided and with the backing of the Emperor.

St. Maximos the Confessor was condemned by all the bishops of the East, with the exception of a handful who were exiled and died early on. His persecutors were also accepted and endorsed by the legates of Rome, yet he did not consider himself a schismatic or outside the Church.

St. Nicephoros the Confessor was condemned by the Council of the bishops of the Byzantine Empire in 754 at the instigation of Leo the Armenian, because he would not repudiate the canons of the 6th Ecumenical Council, wherein icons of Christ were ordered to be made and not the tendency of some to prefer allegorical symbols. Because the Council endorsed icons explicitly, the Iconoclast Emperor demanded it be repudiated, and when St. Nicephoros told the Emperor that it was impossible for him to break his consecration oath to uphold the canons, the Emperor convoked a council of numerous bishops who brought charges against him and deposed him and persecuted him, replacing St. Nicephoros with someone hoped to be more malleable.

St. Theodore the Studite was condemned and deposed along with his brother St. Stephen Archbishop of Thessalonika for refusing to concelebrate with the Patriarch of Constantinople who, while not denying any dogma of the faith, was keeping silence and not deposing the presbyter who had performed a bigamist marriage for the Emperor who had taken a nun-relative of St. Theodore’s for wife after he had forcibly tonsured his first wife. The priest had been suspended but then under imperial pressure had been reinstated and allowed to serve while the Patriarch and the bishops who had condemned the priest kept silence. Only the Archimandrite of Studion in Constantinople stuck up for the Canons and the laws of the Gospel, rigidly declaring that bishops had no authority to loose a criminal that the Apostles and Christ had bound. He and his brother were hauled into a full council of malleable bishops, threatened, deposed, and exiled because they would not serve with any bishop who concelebrated or accepted the canonically suspended priest. This was known as the Moichian or Adulterer controversy. The Patriarch was formally Orthodox but compromising (claiming ‘oeconomia’ to avoid an imperial persecution of the Church) though he afterward became a saint by confessing for the icons and suffering persecution and correcting his compromise position and accepting St. Theodore and St. Stephen. Nonetheless, a council of the bishops of the Byzantine Empire condemned and deposed St. Theodore Archimandrite and his brother Archbishop Stephen and they spent many years enduring persecution and being labelled schismatics by professedly Orthodox bishops who felt they could bend and break the canons if expediency demanded it.

St. Tarasius had also been anathematized and deposed by numerous councils of bishops for standing up for the use and veneration of icons as the sacred and canonical tradition of the Church.

St. Photios the Great was condemned by an Orthodox council of bishops of the Byzantine Empire along with the legates of the Pope, and he spent many years in prison for his confession of the faith, though an alleged schismatic. He said ‘Let them anathematize many as often as they like, they only condemn themselves and raise me toward heaven like my ancestors.’

St. Nicholas Mystikos, Patriarch of Constantinople was condemned and deposed for suspending the priest who performed a 4th marriage for the Emperor Leo known as the Wise. The Constitutions of the Apostles - Book 3 - and the canons of St. Basil had forbidden this, as well as implicitly the words of Christ and Paul in the Gospel. The Pope of Rome - ostensibly Orthodox - sent his support to the new Patriarch Euthymios who had agreed to compromise with the Emperor - who wanted a new marriage for the sake of producing a son and heir. The ruler of the Serbs supported St. Nicholas, but all others forsook him.

Patriarch Michael Cerularios was condemned in his time and persecuted for his stand against the Pope.

St. Gregory of Cyprus, Patriarch of Constantinople, was condemned by a synod of bishops aligned with new Patriarch John Veccos the Latin-Minded and exiled and replaced for not accepting the pseudo-Ecumenical Unia Council of Lyons.

St. Gregory Palamas Archbishop of Thessalonika was condemned by a pro-Barlaam/pro-Unia synod with imperial patronage.

St. Mark of Ephesus and St. Gennadius were condemned by the Byzantine bishops of their day for not going along with the others in accepting the decisions of the pseudo-Ecumenical Council of Florence.

Numerous righteous Patriarchs and Metropolitans and bishops of various sees were deposed for political reasons or on false charges by factions of jealous conspirators with the Ottomans and/or pro-Latin or pro-Protestant bishops throughout the Ottoman period.

Finally, St. Tikhon of Moscow was deposed by a synod of bishops in Moscow in or around 1923 for getting involved in ‘politics’ contrary to the place of a churchman (i.e., for not accepting adaptation to reigning antichristian political party). The council was headed by bishops who became the head of the renovationist schism after St. Tikhon refused to accept their demands and anathematized them. The decision of the Council was publically supported by the Patriarch of Constantinople who sent a letter to St. Tikhon urging him to accept the decision. The Patriarchate of Constantinople accepted the Renovationists as valid for number of years.

By way of Addendum, St. John Maximovitch did not have the support of the majority of the bishops of ROCOR when his parish council brought him to court for allegedly embezzling church funds.

Further, the ROCOR was condemned first by the Moscow Patriarchate and later at the MP’s instigation by the Patriarchates in communion with it - with the exception of the Serbian - as supposedly violating canons and being in schism from the Moscow Patriarchate. The ROCOR was reviled and persecuted but still upright back then.

At the instigation of Abp. Mark of Berlin, Metropolitan Valentine was deprived of his episcopate by Met. Vitaly and ROCOR on false charges from MP slanderers --

Some Quotations Related To The Above:

“...But St. Chrysostom, though summoned four times by the synod convened against him at the oak tree and having refused to answer, did not deserve condemnation in view of the fact that the bishops themselves who summoned were his avowed enemies and critics, and because he said that he was not trying to avoid a trial, but was only demanding that his enemies be excluded from the seats of judges and accusers whom he noted by name. The Novel of Emperor Manuel, in fact, decrees that not only bishops, but all men in general that sue or are sued at law shall be summoned with three written summonses, no matter what their standing may be, and that everyone of them shall be given thirty days time, and not less, to prepare for any case they may have (according to what Blastaris says).”

Apostolic Canon 74 Footnote 103 (Rudder, p. 384) (About the requirement to summon a bishop three times in special manner before he can be deposed in absentia.)

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“Note that if the multitudes of witnesses are not trustworthy, their manner and choice must be looked into, according to the Apostolic Injunctions, Book 2, Chapter 49. Because it is possible in many cases for two or three or even more witnesses to agree with a view to evil and to bear false witness, in the same way that they [the Jewish presbyters] bore false witness against Susanna, against Naboth, against Stephen, and against the Lord. For witnesses, says Title I of Book 21 of the Basilica (Photios, Title IX, Chapter 2), have to be trustworthy”

Footnote 106 (ibid., p. 385) (Regarding the need to investigate the witnesses to avoid false depositions.)

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Even if false hierarchs, while being in heresy, “will succeed in deceiving and enticing a certain number of ignorant ones and in gathering even a considerable number of followers, then they are outside the sacred walls of the Church just the same. But even if very few remain in Orthodoxy and piety, they are in the Church, and the authority and the protection of the ecclesiastical institution resides in them. And if they should suffer for true piety, then this will undoubtedly contribute to their eternal glory and salvation of their souls.”

St. Nicephorus the Confessor [ PG 100, 844D]

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“I exhort you, therefore, not to faint in your afflictions, but to be revived by God’s love, and to add daily to your zeal knowing that in you ought to be preserved that remnant of true religion which the Lord will find when He cometh on the earth. Even if bishops are driven from their Churches, be not dismayed. If traitors have arisen from among the very clergy themselves, let not this undermine your confidence in God. We are saved not by names, but by mind and purpose, and genuine love toward our Creator. Bethink you how in the attack against our Lord, high priests and scribes and elders devised the plot, and how few of the people were found really receiving the word. Remember that it is not the multitude who are being saved, but the elect of God. Be not then affrighted at the great multitude of the people who are carried hither and thither by winds like the waters of the sea. If but one would be saved, like Lot at Sodom, he ought to abide in right judgment, keeping his hope in Christ unshaken, for the Lord will not forsake His holy ones. Salute all the brethren in Christ from me. Pray earnestly for my miserable soul.”

St. Basil the Great
[ Epistle CCLVII, To the Monks Harassed by Arians ]

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“When Saint Hypatius understood what opinions Nestorius held, immediately, in the Church of the Apostles, he erased his name from the diptychs, so that it should no longer be pronounced at the Oblation. [This was before Nestorius’ condemnation by the Third Ecumenical Council.] “When Bishop Eulalius learned of this, he was anxious about the outcome of the affair. And seeing that it had been noised abroad, Nestorius also ordered him to reprimand Hypatius. For Nestorius was still powerful in the city. Bishop Eulalius spoke thus to Hypatius: Why have you erased his name without understanding what the consequences would be? Saint Hypatius replied: From the time that I learned that he said unrighteous things about the Lord, I have no longer been in communion with him and I do not commemorate his name; for he is not a bishop. Then the bishop, in anger, said: Be off with you! Make amends for what you have done, for I shall take measures against you. Saint Hypatius replied: Do as you wish. As for me, I have decided to suffer anything, and it is with this in mind that I have done this.”

From the Life of Saint Hypatius (Sources Chretiennes, No.177, pp. 210-214)

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“Of old the anathema was fearful and something to be avoided when it was imposed by the preachers of piety upon those who were guilty of impiety. But ever since the daring and insolent mindlessness of the pernicious contrary to every divine and human law and contrary to every way of thinking, both Greek and barbarian, became so insanely arrogant as to turn the anathema, which they deserved, back on the proponents of Orthodoxy, and as they bickered, in their barbarian frenzy, to accomplish their ecclesiastical transgression, then that fearful and last extremity of all penalties became degraded into a myth and a joke, or rather it became even desirable to the pious. Certainly, it is not the utterly presumptuous opinion of the enemies of truth that makes penalties (especially ecclesiastical penalties) fearful, but rather the culpability of those who are condemned; for guiltlessness changes their punishments into a mockery, and turns their condemnations back upon them, and results in undefiled crowns and immortal glory, rather than condemnation, for him who is castigated by them. Therefore, all the pious and holy prefer to be reviled myriads of times by those who are alienated from Christ rather than, with splendid acclamations, to have communion with their Christ-hating and God-hating villainies.”

St. Photius the Great
[Letter to Ignatius, Metropolitan of Claudiopolis,
PG 102, 833 A-C]

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“For a long span of time, every heretical council and every assembly of the Iconoclasts anathematized us (and not only us, but our father and our uncle also men who were confessors of Christ and the lustre of the hierarchy); but by anathematizing us, they caused that we be raised, though unwilling, to the archiepiscopal throne. Therefore let those who, together with the former, have irrationally strayed from the Master’s commandments and have thrown wide open the gate of all iniquity, anathematize us even now so that they may raise us, though faltering, from earth to the Heavenly Kingdom.”

St. Photius the Great
[Letter Sixty-four to Gregory,
the deacon and archivist,
PG 102, 877 B-C]

Prophecies of Last Time Proliferation of Schisms

“Do you put forward for appointment bishops worthy of the Lord, and presbyters and deacons, pious men, righteous, meek, free from the love of money, lovers of truth, having been tested, holy, not ones who take into account personalities, men who are competent to instruct others in the word of piety, and rightly imparting the teachings of the Lord. And do you show them honor as you would your fathers, your lords, your benefactors, as the source of well-being to you. Do not reprove each other with anger, but in mildness, kindness, and peacefulness. Guard well all the commandments of the Lord. Be watchful for this is your life. Let your loins be girded about and your lamps burning, and be like men waiting for their lord, whensoever he will come, at evening, or in the morning, or at cock-crowing, or at midnight. For at what hour they think not, the Lord will come...Watch, therefore, and pray, lest you fall asleep unto death. For deeds formerly done will not profit you if in the last part of your life you go astray from the true Faith. ****“For in the latter days false prophets shall increase in great numbers, even such as pervert the word, and the sheep shall be changed over into wolves, and love into hatred: for through the exceeding lawless transgressing, the love among the multitude shall cool off, for they shall do deeds of hatred against one another and shall become each others’ persecutors and betrayers. And after this shall the one misleading the world, the enemy of the truth, the prince of falsehoods, make himself openly manifest, whom the Lord Jesus shall destroy with the spirit of His mouth, that is, He takes away the wicked one with His lips; also shall the multitude of them fall by being offended at Him, but those who endure to the end, these same shall obtain salvation, even when the sign of the Son of Man shall appear visibly in the heaven; and with it shall be the voice of a trumpet by the archangel, and at that moment shall be the restoration to life of all those who have fallen asleep. And at that moment shall the Lord come, and all His saints with Him, with a great thunderclap, upon the clouds with the angels of His power, on the throne of His Kingdom, to issue decree of punishment on the one misleading the world, and to recompense each person according to what he did. Then shall the those doing bad things depart into everlasting punishment, but the upright shall enter into an everlasting life, to receive an inheritance of those goodly things which neither has eye yet seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man, which things God has prepared for those who are lovers of Him; and they shall rejoice in the kingdom of God, which belongs to Jesus Christ.”

Constitutions of the Holy Apostles through Clement the Roman, Bk. 7 (PG 1:1021B-1024B)

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The Prophecy of St. Nilus the Myrrh-Gusher of Mt. Athos (+1651) -
taken from the prophecies appendix to the 1825 Mt. Athos Life of St. Nilus.

Saint Nilus (+ 1651) was a bright beacon of sanctity who struggled valiantly in asceticism on the Holy Mountain of Athos, and who upon his repose gushed an abundant amount of myrrh that testified to his holiness and purity.

Between the years 1813 and 1819, a certain monk named Theophanes, also known as the “Prisoner”, was troubled by a demon due to his many sins, and he also suffered from a hernia. In despair over his condition he planned to leave the Holy Mountain until one day St. Nilus appeared to him. St. Nilus showed him an abandoned hut and instructed him to settle there, promising to provide for his needs. Theophanes obeyed, although at first he did not know it was St. Nilus - only later did the Saint reveal himself.

St. Nilus appeared to him several times, healed him, and taught him about spiritual warfare. Cleansed of his passions and sins through proper ascetic struggle, St. Nilus ordered him to take the Great Schema and bear the name Ekhmalotos (Prisoner) as a sign that now he was a captive of St. Nilus for healing him of demonic possession and vice.

St. Nilus told Monk Ekhmalotos he wanted a path made to his cave so that monks could go there to pray. He also wanted the Liturgy to be served in the cave church he himself had built.

When the Fathers heard this, they wished to build a new church in honor of St. Nilus. As they were digging the foundation, they found the saint’s grave. From his relics an ineffable fragrance came forth. This took place on May 7, 1815.

Then the monks informed the Fathers of the Great Lavra of their discovery. They came and transferred the relics to the Lavra, leaving only a portion of the saint’s jaw at the cave to be venerated by those who came there.

At the request of certain monks from Kafsokalyvia, Monk Ekhmalotos wrote down the appearances of the Saint, and later St. Nilus told him to write down his words in full. Because he was barely literate he dictated the story and prophecies to a Hieromonk Gerasimos from Constantinople, who recorded it word for word.

The Saint counseled that those who sought shelter on the Holy Mountain should never become despondent nor lose hope in the protection of the Mother of God. The monks should not abandon Athos until the day the Iveron icon of the Theotokos departs, but remain there in repentance, silence, humility, obedience, and especially chastity, hoping always in their salvation.

Many holy elders have seen in Monk Ekhmalotos a type of the monasticism of the end times.

The entire chronicle of St. Nilus’ teachings and prophecies to the Monk Theophanes between the years 1813 to 1819 fill a six-hundred page book, available in Greek and Russian. On page 611 of this text, we read that it was a monk by the name of Iakovos from Iveron Monastery who copied this entire text and published it in 1906. It includes prophecies of the invasion of the Holy Mountain during the Greek Revolution, the 1821 Revolution itself, the end of monasticism on the Holy Mountain, and the struggles of the monks of the last times.

The Prophecy

After the year 1900, toward the middle of the 20th century, the people of that time will become unrecognizable. When the time for the Advent of the Antichrist approaches, people’s minds will grow cloudy from carnal passions, and dishonor and lawlessness will grow stronger. Then the world will become unrecognizable.

People’s appearances will change, and it will be impossible to distinguish men from women due to their shamelessness in dress and style of hair. These people will be cruel and will be like wild animals because of the temptations of the Antichrist. There will be no respect for parents and elders, love will disappear, and Christian pastors, Bishops and priests will become vain men, completely failing to distinguish the right-hand way from the left.

At that time, the morals and traditions of Christians and of the Church will change. People will abandon modesty, and dissipation will reign. Falsehood and greed will attain great proportions, and woe to those who pile up treasures. Lust, adultery, homosexuality, secret deeds and murder will rule in society.

Apostasy

At that future time, due to the power of such great crimes and licentiousness, people will be deprived of the grace of the Holy Spirit, which they received in Holy Baptism and equally of remorse.”

The Churches of God will be deprived of God-fearing and pious pastors, and woe to the Christians remaining in the world at that time; they will completely lose their faith because they will lack the opportunity of seeing the light of knowledge from anyone at all. Then they will separate themselves out of the world in holy refuges in search of lightening their spiritual sufferings, but everywhere they will meet obstacles and constraints. And all this will result from the fact that the Antichrist wants to be Lord over everything and become the ruler of the whole universe, and he will produce miracles and fantastic signs.

Telephones, airplanes, submarines

He will also give depraved wisdom to an unhappy man so that he will discover a way by which one man can carry on a conversation with another from one end of the earth to the other. At that time men will also fly through the air like birds and descend to the bottom of the sea like fish. And when they have achieved all this, these unhappy people will spend their lives in comfort without knowing, poor souls, that it is deceit of the Antichrist. And, the impious one! – he will so complete science with vanity that it will go off the right path and lead people to lose faith in the existence of God in three hypostases.

The coming chastisement

Then the All-good God will see the downfall of the human race and will shorten the days for the sake of those few who are being saved, because the enemy wants to lead even the chosen into temptation, if that is possible... then the sword of chastisement will suddenly appear and kill the Perverter and his servants.

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On another occasion Elder Anatole [the Younger of Optina] was visiting Moscow, on February 27, 1917. Everything had already become very bad and uncertain. An unbridled mob was rioting in the streets, and one couldn’t make out what they were talking and screaming about. What was happening? What was to come? But the Elder said, “There will be a storm. And the Russian ship will be smashed to pieces. But people can be saved even on splinters and fragments. And not everyone, not everyone will perish. One must pray; everyone must repent and pray fervently. And what happens after a storm?” Someone said that after a storm comes a calm. “So it is,” said the Elder. “And there will be a calm.” At this everyone said, “But there is no more ship, it is shattered to pieces; it has perished, everything has perished!” “It is not so,” said Fr. Anatole. “A great miracle of God will be manifested. And all the splinters and fragments, by the will of God and His power, will come together and be united; and the ship will be rebuilt in its beauty and will go on its own way as foreordained by God. And thus this will be a miracle evident to everyone” (Orthodox Russia, 1970, no. 1, p. 9).

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Zinaida V. Julem, St. John Maximovitch’s quasi-monastic helper and spiritual daughter, recalls:

“On the day of his departure [being transferred from France to America] Blessed John was in our Church for his last farewell....he closed the holy gates, came out from the altar and, standing in the middle of the church, kept looking all around saying, ‘No, nothing should be changed in the church.”

“Your Eminence,” I then said, “I love our church very much, but unfortunately it is so small.”

“And soon even this will seem big,” Blessed John answered. “And in general soon our Church will remain such a tiny one”, and he pointed to the very tip of his middle finger. And again he looked in all directions, saying, “No, nothing should be changed in the Church.”

(Letter of Zinaida V. Julem, from Paris to Father Herman, Summer, 1978; Fr. Seraphim Rose and Fr. Herman P., “Blessed John the Wonderworker”, Platina, CA (1987): Brotherhood of St. Herman of Alaska, pp.135-137.)