|COMMENTARY ON THE MINISTRY “LIMA DOCUMENT”|
|This Commentary was prepared to be presented to SCOCA (Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Churches of Australia) which was to serve as official paper of the said body as the response to “Lima Document – Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry.” - Main source that served as a foundation of this paper was Fr. Justin Popovic and his works).|
|By: Fr. Milorad Loncar|
|Mr. Srboljub Miletic ( graduate from Belgrade Theological Faculty)|
This document cannot, under no circumstances, be welcomed by the Orthodox Church, because it contains novelties which are in direct conflict with the Holy Tradition, the Holy Bible, Apostolic rules, Ecumenical and Regional Councils as well as the Teachings of the Holy Fathers. As the Seventh Ecumenical Council states:” We keep unchanged all the ecclesiastical traditions handed down to us, whether in writing or by word of mouth.” The Holy Fathers of the same Council added in the first Canon: “The pattern for those who have received for sacerdotal dignity is found in testimonies and instructions laid down in the canonical constitutions, which we, receiving with glad mind, sing unto the Lord God in the words of the God-inspired David saying:’ I have had as great delight in the way of Thy testimonies as in all manner of riches. Thou hast commanded righteousness as Thy testimonies for ever. Grant me understanding and I shall live.’ Now if the word of prophecy bids us keep the testimonies of God for ever and to live by them, it is evident that they must abide unshaken and without change.”
Let us consider some of the statements of this document:
“The role of the apostles as witnesses to the resurrection of Christ is unique and unrepeatable. There is therefore a difference between the apostles and the ordained ministers, whose ministries are founded on theirs.”
If we were to adopt this logic we would be saying that the Risen Lord who, after the Resurrection, appeared to the apostles many times and taught them, stopped being that what He was and that what He is, with the death of the last apostle. For we would not recognize His later appearances to new apostles, holy people and martyrs. Has it not been said: “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines” (Heb.13,7-9).
“An increasing number of churches have decided that there is no biblical or theological reason against ordaining women, and many of them have subsequently proceeded to do so.”
Let us pose this question: Was it necessary that two thousand years passes by since the Christ’s Resurrection, for some “churches” to conclude the above? If there is no barrier for women to be ordained we have to eccept that apostle Paul made the mistake when he said: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commended to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything let them ask they husbands at home: for it is shame for women to speak in the church” (I Cor. 14, 34-35).
“The threefold pattern (Bishops, priests and deacons) stands evidently in need of reform.”
As the visible God-man community, the Church consists of clergy and laity. They make one unity – Christ’s body. The Church’s hierarchy derives from “Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7, 21),” and from the Holy Spirit who descended upon the apostles. She is from them and they are from her; that is why the Second Person of the Holy Trinity identifies himself with the Church by saying to the apostles: “He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me (Lk, 10-16.)
Christ himself chose the apostles from whom the Church’s hierarchy extends in continuity in the Orthodox Church. This is done through “laying of hands” or ordination in the Holy Sacrament of Priesthood. For Christ said to his apostles after the Resurrection: “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And …. He breathed on them, and saith unto them, receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained (Jn. 20, 21-23).” He also gave them unlimited Divine power by saying: “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 18, 18).
Through His promise to the apostles: “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”(Mt. 28, 20), the Savior has announced that the apostolic service will extend beyond their lives, through a succession, till the end of the world. Given the authority by the Savior to hand down their hierarchical authority unto their successors, bishops, by the right of ordination, the apostles ordained bishops and enthroned them to continue their service. They believed that the bishops are given the authority by the Holy Spirit Himself (AA. 20, 28; Ipet. 5, 2-3; IITim. 4, 2-5; Tit. 1, 5).
St. Ignatius the God-bearer, an apostolic pupil, orders Christians: “All ye respect deacons as Christ’s commandments, bishops as Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father and priests as God’s gathering, as a Council of apostles. Without them there is no Church… See that you submit to bishops, priests and deacons, for who submits to them, submits to Christ who established them; and who is against them he is against Christ.”
The Church is invisibly guided by Christ as the Head of the Church and by the Holy Spirit. Apostles are not head of the Church but servants of Christ and servants of the Church. The Church, as God-Man Christ, is the only true mediator and guard of eternal God-man’s priesthood and hierarchy, which by God-man’s continually pouring, through holy mystery, divine powers necessary for human being for piety, for God-man’s life in this and in another world, for God-likeness and God-manhood.
The Church lives in the Holy Spirit, and Holy Tradition is an eternal and unchangeable presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church – the essence of her being. Should the Church separate itself from the Holy Tradition She would loose its essence, for, according to the promise of the Lord, the Triune God is ever present in the Church.
The Holy Bible is a most precious form of Holy Tradition, and if it was extracted from it, it could not be understood by any scientific means. It is generally known that all heresies are the consequence of free interpretation of the Holy Bible. St. Apostle Peter warns of this very clearly: “As our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you…speaking of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction, ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness”(I Jn. 3, 15-17)!
Man can not, by his intellect, understand the divine for this can be understood only through the Holy Spirit. To one to whom a gift of understanding, the Holy Bible and the Kingdom of Heaven, is not given from the above; one who still hasn’t managed to control his passions and experimentally experienced in oneself a resurrection of his own soul, that one has to unquestionably strictly follow Tradition and Teachings of the Church and can not under any circumstances trust in himself, but needs to ask his spiritual father, regardless of the level of his education. For the most genial human thoughts are far beyond the true life of the Spirit