July 15, 2023

Encyclical on the Bishops of Nafpaktos Who Participated in Ecumenical Synods

Pastoral Encyclical for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod

Bishops of Nafpaktos Who Participated in Ecumenical Synods


Beloved children in the Lord,

Many times I have referred to my Metropolitan Predecessors, each of whom had their own special gifts, but they also have common gifts which are the High Priesthood, which is transmitted from generation to generation with the apostolic tradition, which is the Revelation of God to the Saints, and the apostolic succession, which is the uninterrupted series of ordinations.

Among the Bishops and Metropolitans of the Diocese and Metropolis of Nafpaktos there are also four Bishops who participated in Great and Ecumenical Synods. There is Bishop Martyrios of Nafpaktos, who participated in the Synod of Sardis, i.e. today's Sofia in Bulgaria, in the year 343 AD, which was a continuation of the First Ecumenical Synod and supported Athanasios the Great. Also, there is Bishop Kallikrates of Nafpaktos, who participated in the Third Ecumenical Synod, which met in Ephesus of Asia Minor, in the year 431 AD, and decided that the Most Holy Theotokos gave birth to the true God, therefore she should be called Theotokos and not Christotokos, as Nestorius claimed. There is also Bishop Irenaios of Nafpaktos who participated in the Fourth Ecumenical Synod in Chalcedon, which was convened in 451 AD, and decided that Christ has two natures, divine and human, which natures act in His one Person "unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably". Finally, there is Bishop Antonios of Nafpaktos, who participated in the Eighth Ecumenical Synod, which was convened in Constantinople in the year 889-90 and condemned the filioque of the Franks, who claimed that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, and decided that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father and is sent to the world through the Son.

Saint Damascene the Studite, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and Arti, who excelled during the Turkish rule as a Bishop and Metropolitan, as a teacher of Patriarchs and Bishops, but also as a writer, should be added to them.
This means that the then Episcopate and later the Metropolis of Nafpaktos played an important role, through its specific Bishops, in defining the Orthodox faith with the demarcation of Sacred Revelation, i.e. the demarcation between truth and error.

The Ecumenical Synods have great value and importance in the Church, and to be precise we say that the Fathers who convened the Ecumenical Synods are deified, infallible teachers of the Church, that is why we do not simply commemorate the Ecumenical Synods, but the Fathers that assembled at them.

Next Sunday, our Church decided to celebrate the Fathers who convened at the Fourth Ecumenical Synod, which, as I said before, defined the so-called Christological doctrine, about how the two natures function in Christ, and confronted the heresy of the Monophysites who said that the human nature in Christ was absorbed by the divine nature. Those who support these are the so-called Monophysites and Antichalcedonians, since they did not accept the decisions of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod in Chalcedon. And today also there are Monophysites and Antichalcedonians who have a different faith from the Orthodox Church.

Because these four Bishops of Nafpaktos participated in the above-mentioned Synods and are deified who are honored by the Church on various dates, that's why I thought it good to honor all four of them together in our Metropolitan region.

For this purpose, I sent a letter to the Sacred Synod of the Church of Greece and asked to approve the Service of Praise for the Holy Bishops of Nafpaktos, Martyrios, Kallikrates, Irenaios and Antonios, which was composed by the native of Arachova in Nafpaktia͵ the Lawyer and Hymnographer Mr George Galanopoulos, whom I appointed as a Reader in the past, which was approved by the Sacred Synod of our Church, with its decision of June 7, 2018.

Following this, we determined the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod, which this year coincides with July 16, the Bishops of Nafpaktos who participated in Ecumenical Synods would also be celebrated.
For this reason, on Sunday July 16, these holy Bishops will be honored with a Divine Liturgy and festal services, on the one hand to honor these Hierarchs of Nafpaktos, on the other hand to renew our respect and our love for the Orthodoxy faith, as formulated by the Ecumenical Synods, and to follow our holy Fathers, who preserved it with sacrifices and struggles.

I urge all the Christians of Nafpaktos to participate in these services to show our love for the Church and this historic Holy Metropolis.

With paternal blessings,

The Metropolitan

+ Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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