Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew, and Archbishop Ieronymos II meet on Lesbos

Bartholomew (by Pvasiliadis) , Ieronymos II  (Stylianidis) & Francis (Rosada)


Pope Francis and leaders of the Eastern Orthodox met today on the Greek Island of Lesbos:

April 16, 2016


Three major leaders of long-separated Christian churches — Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos II — converged on this small island Saturday, issuing a stark warning to Europe that the continent will be judged on how it treats the hundreds of thousands of refugees reaching these shores. …

In the declaration, signed at a center housing some 2,500 refugees — where the walls had been whitewashed and the barbed wire removed for the high-level visit — Francis, Bartholomew and Ieronymos say they had traveled together to demonstrate “profound concern” for the migrants’ treatment.

“The tragedy of forced migration and displacement affects millions, and is fundamentally a crisis of humanity, calling for a response of solidarity, compassion, generosity and an immediate practical commitment of resources,” they state.

“From Lesbos, we appeal to the international community to respond with courage,” they continue. “We call upon all political leaders to employ every means to ensure that individuals and communities … enjoy the fundamental right to live in peace and security.”

The three leaders’ joint trip to Europe’s outer periphery, while described by the Vatican as “strictly humanitarian and ecumenical,” …

The symbolism of the unified visit — with Francis traveling east, Bartholomew traveling west, and Ieronymos welcoming them to his home country — would have been nearly unimaginable even 15 years ago, when Pope John Paul II became the first pontiff to visit a Greek archbishop in more than a millennium. …

Francis’ visit to Lesbos is unprecedented also in the velocity with which the trip was organized. The Vatican only confirmed the pontiff was considering a visit last week, after an invitation from governing Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church. http://ncronline.org/news/global/lesbos-francis-and-patriarchs-warn-europe-eternal-judgment-based-refugee-treatment

April 16, 2016

The Vatican says the pope was invited to the island by the leader of the Christian Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos. …

Bartholomew, as well as Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Jerome II,  joined Pope Francis in Lesbos.

Bernie Sanders

Earlier Saturday, Pope Francis met U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The two men had a brief morning exchange at a Vatican guesthouse where the pope lives and where Sanders and his wife spent the night.

Sanders said he told the pope he admired the work the pope is doing on raising issues like “the need for morality in the global economy.” http://www.voanews.com/content/pope-visits-migrants-on-lesbos/3288526.html

April 16, 2016

Pope Francis traveled to Greece on Saturday for a brief but provocative visit to meet with refugees at a detention center as the European Union implements a controversial plan to deport them back to Turkey.

Francis’ Alitalia charter touched down at the airport on the Greek island of Lesbos shortly after 10 a.m., some 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met him on the tarmac, along with the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians and the archbishop of Athens, who is the head of the Church of Greece.

The three Christian leaders, officially divided over a 1,000-year schism . . .

Also ahead of the visit, municipal crews scrubbed the walls of Mytilene after graffiti reading “Papa Don’t Preach” was sprayed in black at several points on the seafront in Mytilene. A handful of senior Orthodox clergy in Greece have been highly critical of Francis’ trip . . .

“He is slightly provocative,” said George Demacopoulos, chair of Orthodox Christian studies at the Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York. …

The Vatican insists Saturday’s visit is purely humanitarian and religious in nature, not political or a “direct” criticism of the EU plan.

. . . spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters . . . the ecumenical significance of a meeting between Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the head of the Church of Greece, Athens Archbishop Ieronymos II was “obvious.” http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/16/pope-francis-makes-provocative-trip-to-greece-to-meet-migrants-at-detention-center.html

I did find it of some irony that the island of Lesbos was chosen as that is the birthplace of the word “Lesbian,” which is a sexual perversion. But that meeting itself is of ecumenical significance.

This meeting of the Orthodox leaders with the pontiff itself was extraordinary for several reasons, including the fact that it was basically arranged by the Archbishop of Athen’s office.  Notice the following:

April 7, 2016 . . . the ruling Holy Synod in Athens . . . explained, the pope had expressed a desire to make a brief visit to a Greek island in order to “mobilise world opinion for an immediate cessation of the hostilities in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern region which are severely afflicting Christian communities.”  The Synod had agreed, on the understanding that it would be a brief, informal visit of a “humanitarian and symbolic” character. It was at the Synod’s suggestion that the island of Lesbos was chosen, and it was the Synod’s initiative to include the Patriarch. Further announcements made clear that the pope would be received by Greece’s worldly authorities, namely President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who would greet him as a fellow political leader. (How informal is that, you might ask?) This element of secular diplomacy will help to protect the archbishop from theological hard-liners who might accuse him (as they accused his predecessor) of betraying Orthodoxy by hobnobbing with papists. http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2016/04/pope-and-refugees

The term ‘papists’ has long been used by certain Protestants and Eastern Orthodox as a derogatory term for Roman Catholics. Many in Greece, including at least two bishops, have severe concerns about Pope Francis, his office, and his agenda. Actually, a letter sent to him by two bishops was a scathing attack against the legitimacy of the papacy and his office (see Greek Orthodox Bishops denounce Pope Francis, Church of Rome, and Ecumenism as Antichrist Plan of Freemasons).

The fact that Greek Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos II supported this meeting in Lesbos was clearly ecumenical in view of the opposition he faces.

Some in Greece are ecumenical.  And the Eastern Orthodox have an important meeting coming up in June:

April 6, 2016

As a champion of ecumenism in Greece, Gabriel Arnellos, recently said, “Europe has become insignificant in global terms because it has commodified Christianity”.

Prepared with great discretion in Rome and Constantinople with Athens’ participation, the meeting is another step towards a joint ecumenical path that is slowly but surely bringing in all the other Orthodox Churches, called to meet after almost 13 centuries, at the upcoming pan-Orthodox Synod in Crete, starting on 16 June.

This synod is not yet ecumenical since it does not involve all the Christian Churches, but it is already the expression of the will of the people of God to bring all Christians onto the joint path towards full sacramental unity, which Rome and Constantinople have been the first to herald. …

Bartholomew has repeatedly reiterated, in full harmony with Francis, that only an evangelically united Church can give an answer to the problems that have always disrupted the path of human existence.

The pan-Orthodox Synod will help to highlight this challenge and to reassess the Gospel message with the instrument of synodality, which is the evangelical expression of mutual respect and freedom, beyond any political pressures of the times. http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Francis,-Bartholomew,-and-Ieronymos:-Christian-unity-in-favour-of-refugees,-Europe%E2%20%20s-embarrassment-37148.html

That particular meeting in June originally was called ‘ecumenical,’ and was originally planned to be at the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, but it was changed.  Also, and perhaps this meeting today will be a factor, the top leadership of the Greek churches was not scheduled to attend.

Here is something reported earlier about that:


John Chryssavgis, an archdeacon and theological advisor to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, wrote, “The council of 2016, which has been on the table for discussion and preparation since at least 1961 (although there were earlier proposals for such a council in the 1920s and 1930s), will for the first time ever gather representatives from all 14 independent Orthodox Churches.

“The very conception, let alone the convocation of such a great or general council, is entirely unprecedented.

“It will be attended by patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops from the fourteen autocephalous Orthodox Churches, including those from all of the ancient patriarchates, with the exception of Rome,” …

The following primates attended the January meeting in Switzerland:

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria
Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow
Patriarch Irinej of Serbia
Patriarch Daniel of Romania
Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria
Patriarch Ilia of Georgia
Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus
Archbishop Anastasios of Albania
Archbishop Rastislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/worlds-orthodox-patriarchs-prepare-for-june-gathering-of-great-and-holy-council-in-crete/37950.htm

If Rome had been invited, this could be possibly considered as the eighth ecumenical council by the Eastern Orthodox and is supposedly the first ecumenical council in about 1200 years. To put this into historical perspective, the first so-called ‘ecumenical council’ was the Council of Nicea convened by Emperor Constantine in 325, the second was the Council of Constantinople convened by Emperor Theodosius which came up with the modern ‘trinity‘ in 381, and the seventh was the Second Council of Nicaea, which the Orthodox claim had two parts, the first in 787 and the second in 843. Many of the Orthodox call the 843 agreement ‘the triumph of Orthodoxy’ as that is when they officially got idols and icons accepted by the Church of Rome (see also Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God). These councils defined much of the Greco-Roman faiths, and those in the Church of God were condemned for not agreeing with many of the results of the councils (see also Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes?).

Having an eighth ‘ecumenical council’ is significant, though this one is a bit different.


There are several reasons, other than the length of time between the last council and this upcoming one, that I wish to cover here.

The first reason to mention is that the Eastern Orthodox define themselves by the seven previous ecumenical councils. Actually, they refer to themselves as the ‘church of the seven councils’:

“Constantine summoned the first General or Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church at Nicea in 325… Orthodox often call themselves ‘the Church of the Seven Councils’…Nicea was the first of the seven general councils; and these…occupy a central position in the history of Orthodoxy…next to the Bible, it is the seven councils which the Orthodox Church takes as its standard and guide” (Ware T. The Orthodox Church. Penguin Books, London, 1997, pp.19,35).

“Why are the Seven Ecumenical Councils so important? Because they point out what the Church universally held to be the true teaching concerning the Person of of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity” (Gillquist PE. Becoming Orthodox. Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Brentwood (TN), 1989, p. 102).

The second reason to mention is that Patriarch Bartholomew has said that a synod/ecumenical council would be necessary before the Eastern Orthodox could come into a more full communion, ecumenical unity, with the Church of Rome. Notice something I reported here years ago:

Patriarch of Constantinople’s new encyclical defends Catholic-Orthodox dialogue

Istanbul, Turkey, Feb 20, 2010 / 06:14 pm (CNA).- Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople’s newest encyclical encourages dialogue between the Orthodox Church and other Christian churches and laments those who are “unacceptably fanatical” in challenging such dialogue…“They disseminate false rumors that union between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches is imminent, while they know well that the differences discussed in these theological dialogues remain numerous and require lengthy debate; moreover, union is not decided by theological commissions but by Church Synods,” Bartholomew wrotehttp://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/patriarch_of_constantinoples_new_encyclical_defends_catholic-orthodox_dialogue/

COGwriter has been one of the few non-Roman, non-Orthodox sites to warn against the coming unity for years. However, since the Bishop of Rome is not listed as coming to this particular council in June 2016, it may mainly set the stage for what could be really called the “eighth ecumenical council.”

Notice something from March 10, 2014:

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Patriarchs of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians ended a rare summit in Istanbul on Sunday…

Twelve heads of autonomous Orthodox churches, the second-largest family of Christian churches, also agreed to hold a summit of bishops, or ecumenical council, in 2016, which will be the first in over 1,200 years…

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who will meet Roman Catholicism’s Pope Francis in Jerusalem in May, is the senior-most Orthodox leader, but his Istanbul-based church is tiny, with none of the resources the large Russian church enjoys.

Despite the prestige of his post, he has no authority over other churches, unlike the power the pope has in Catholicism, the world’s largest church with 1.2 billion members.

The communique stressed that all decisions at the council would be taken by consensus, a position the Russians strongly defended in preparations for the meeting.

The 2016 council will be held in Hagia Irene, a Byzantine church building in the outer courtyard of the Ottoman sultans’ Topkapi Palace. Now a museum, it has not been used as a church since the Muslim conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

Orthodox Christianity links 14 independent churches, based in Eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East. (Afanasieva D, Heneghan T. Orthodox Patriarchs urge peace in Ukraine, agree on council! Ecumenical News, March 10, 2014. http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/orthodox-patriarchs-urge-peace-in-ukraine-agree-on-council-22801)

The fact that the Greeks are not clearly represented, Rome was not officially invited, and that it is not to be at the Hagia Sophia, but instead in Crete, suggests that this council will mainly be used to unify more of the Eastern Orthodox, so that they may pursue other unity later. The meeting today in Lesbos was a step I believe is related to all of this.

Pope Francis is an ecumenically-oriented pontiff, and Bartholomew is perhaps the most ecumenically-oriented top Eastern Orthodox patriarch in centuries. They get along well and seem to have similar objectives.

The Bible and Roman Catholic writings warn against the type of Babylonian ecumenical unity that Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis want. Yet, some of the Orthodox actually look forward to a time of a new Babylon:

Monk Leontios (died 543): Rejoice, oh most unhappy one, oh New Babylon!…You, who are the New Babylon rejoice now on behalf of Zion! New Babylon, dance, bounce and leap greatly, make known even those in Haydes what a Grace you have received. Because that peace which was yours to enjoy in times past, and which God has deprived you of in course of battles, receive it once more from the hand of an Angel…oh, the City of Seven Hills the dominion will be yours. (Tzima Otto, H. The Great Monarch and WWIII in Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Scriptural Prophecies. Verenikia Press, Rock Hill (SC), 2000, pp. 82-83).

This is something that the Bible and at least one Catholic priest have warned against:

2…Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” 4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Revelation 18:2-5)

6 “Up, up! Flee from the land of the north,” says the Lord; “for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven,” says the Lord. 7 “Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.” (Zechariah 2:6-7)

Priest H. Kramer (20th century): In the vision of the Seer now appears a second beast rising out of the earth, having two horns like a lamb but speaking like a dragon…In other places he is called the false prophet…This prophet may re-establish the pagan Roman Empire and build the “Great Harlot”, Babylon… The False Prophet…will persuade all infidels, apostates and apostate nations to worship and adore him…Antichrist “sitteth in the temple of God” (I Thes. II. 4). This is not the ancient Temple in Jerusalem…this temple is shown to be a Catholic Church…The False Prophet will proclaim the resurrection of the Roman Empire. (Kramer H., p. 318,320-323)

Despite biblical and other warnings, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew seem determined to help fulfill prophecies that warn against what they are trying to do. Such unity will be dangerous for both the Church of Rome and the Eastern Orthodox. Signs and lying wonders may be a deceptive factor in this occurrence (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:9).

As I alluded to before, certain Eastern Orthodox leaders, especially in Greece (which was conspicuously absent from the list reported at the beginning of this article), oppose all the attempts at unity with Rome (see Greek Orthodox Bishops denounce Pope Francis, Church of Rome, and Ecumenism as Antichrist Plan of Freemasons as well as Why Should American Catholics Should Fear Unity with the Orthodox?). That is probably why they were not listed as supporters.

The reality is that the drive towards ecumenical unity between the Catholics of Rome, the Greek/Eastern Orthodox, and various Protestants is happening. The pace seems to be picking up.

Many can claim that today’s meeting was mainly about refugees, but it was much more than that–it was an ecumenical step.

Sadly, the ecumenical agenda will temporarily succeed. Those who truly believe the Bible will have no part of it.

Some items of related interest may include:

Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good? Here is a link to a related video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?
Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction! What is going on in the Protestant world? Are Protestants turning back to their ‘mother church’ in Rome? Does the Bible warn about this? What are Catholic plans and prophecies related to this? Is Protestantism doomed? watch the video Charismatic Kenneth Copeland and Anglican Tony Palmer: Protestants Beware! and World Council of Churches Peace Plan.
Do Certain Catholic Prophecies About Antichrist Warn Against Jesus? Will the final “Anti-Christ” be Jewish, insist on Saturday, be opposed to the trinity, and bring in the millennium? Certain Catholic writings indicate this, while others take a different view, but what does the Bible show? A related sermon is Will Jesus Christ be called the Antichrist?
Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction? Is the interfaith movement going to lead to lasting peace or is it warned against? A video sermon of related interest is: Will the Interfaith Movement lead to World War III? and a video sermon is also available: Do You Know That Babylon is Forming?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
Orthodox Must Reject Unity with the Roman Catholics Unity between these groups will put them in position to be part of the final end time Babylon that the Bible warns against as well as require improper compromise.
United Nations: Humankind’s Last Hope or New World Order? Is the UN the last hope for humanity? Or might its goals end up with sinister results? A related video would be United Nations and Vatican Are Planning the New World Order.
Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction! What is going on in the Protestant world? Are Protestants turning back to their ‘mother church’ in Rome? Does the Bible warn about this? What are Catholic plans and prophecies related to this? Is Protestantism doomed?
Could Pope Francis be the Last Pope and Antichrist? According to some interpretations of the prophecies of the popes by the Catholic saint and Bishop Malachy, Pope Francis I is in the position of “Peter the Roman,” the pontiff who reigns during tribulations until around the time of the destruction of Rome. Do biblical prophecies warn of someone that sounds like Peter the Roman? Could Francis I be the heretical antipope of Catholic private prophecies and the final Antichrist of Bible prophecy? This is a YouTube video.
Sola Scriptura or Prima Luther? What Did Martin Luther Really Believe About the Bible? Though he is known for his public sola Scriptura teaching, did Martin Luther’s writings about the Bible suggest he felt that prima Luther was his ultimate authority? Statements from him changing and/or discounting 18 books of the Bible are included. Do you really want to know the truth?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Some Similarities and Differences Between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Continuing Church of God Both groups claim to be the original church, but both groups have differing ways to claim it. Both groups have some amazing similarities and some major differences. Do you know what they are?
The Malachy Prophecies and “Peter the Roman” An Irish bishop allegedly predicted something about 112 popes in the 12th century. Pope Benedict XVI was number 111. Francis would seem to be number 112–if he is that one–and if so, he is to reign until Rome is destroyed. May he be an antipope/final Antichrist?

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