Addressing False Ecumenism 1.1: The Melkite Eparchy of Newton and the denial of Ecumenical Councils


After examining the website of the Diocese of Newton for Melkites in the USA, it has been brought to our attention here at HolySynergy that the Eparchy rejects the validity of the dogmatic ecumenical councils conveyed by the Church.

This would mean that the council of Trent, the council of Florence, the five Lateran councils, and Vatican 1 etc. (prior to Vatican 2) are all fallible councils in which have no authority upon the church, something similar held within the many orthodox churches who are also in the East, that being both the Oriental and Eastern churches.

https://melkite.org/faith/religious-education/melkite-challenge-2005-set-2#GRADES%207-12

Because of the extreme ecumenism that has not only taken over the Latin Church, but the Eastern Catholic Churches as well, it is explainable why this claim would be made. Since the Melkites like to use the phrase that they are “Orthodox in communion with Rome”, it is evident that this was done to please our unfortunate schismatic brethren that are not comfortable with the councils and its dogmatic definitions, in this case papal supremacy and infallibility.

With that being said, some Eastern Catholics unfortunately even conclude that Vatican 1 was a local council only for the Latin Church since the Bishop of Rome supposedly does not have authority over the entire church, something the church condemned. (Vatican 1, chapter 3.) There is no doubt that this is a schismatic and erroneous attitude. Not only is this attitude present upon the Melkite eparchy’s website, it’s also present among modern Melkite prelates in whom make similar claims. For instance:

“In any case, valid or not, Vatican I has the same designation as the Council of Lyons, a “general” synod of the West. With this designation it is neither ecumenical nor infallible and could produce only theological opinions that can not be imposed on anyone. Besides, these theological opinions are peculiar to the circumstances of a certain historical period. And the Catholic Church itself today, with all of its bishops and theologians, would have hesitated to adopt them and especially to erect them as dogmas. ” (Ecumenical Reflections, Elias Zoghby, Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop, published by Eastern Christian Publications, 1998)

The Church has made it clear that the Ecumenical Councils of the Church must be accepted by all in order to be a faithful Christian, that being a member of the True Church. “we promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical Council of Florence , which must be believed by all faithful Christians” (Vatican 1, Chapter 3.)
Frankly, these claims are against Church teaching since Peter was given the gift of infallibility in regards to proclaiming dogmatic definitions; something Vatican 1 has done when it proclaimed the dogma of papal infallibility.
According to Byzantine Seminary Press:

“St. Peter is referred to as the Prince of the Apostles and the Vicar of Christ on earth, the visible Head of the Church. His original name was Simon, but in view of his future role in the Church, our Divine Savior changed his name to Peter, which means rock.
The significance of this name change became evident only later when Jesus Christ, praising Peter’s faith, said: “You are Peter (the rock), and on this rock I will build my Church; and the gates (powers) of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt.16:18).

On this same occasion, our Divine Savior promised Peter supreme authority in His Church, saying:

” I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you will bind on earth it shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you will loose on earth it shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16:19).
This supreme authority given to Peter was extended also to matters of faith: “I prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may never fail (infallibility), and once you have recovered (after his denial) you, in turn, must strengthen your brothers” (Lk. 22:32).
After His glorious resurrection, Jesus formally conferred this supreme authority in the Church upon Peter, saying: “Feed my sheep! Feed my lambs!” (In. 21 :15-17).

Up to that time Jesus was The Shepherd of His flock, the Church, but from that time on, Peter and his successors are to tend Christ’s flock to assure that “there be only one Fold (Church) and Shepherd” (In. 10:14-16).

Thus, Peter became the indisputed head of the primitive Church.” (The Feast of Saint’s Peter and Paul According to the Byzantine Rite).
Since Peter is the earthly head of the church, and since he has made it known through his successor Pope Pius IX that Vatican 1 is to be accepted by all, there is no room for questioning his authority. To question the authority of Peter is to put oneself outside the church.

“Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate.

Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.” (Vatican 1, chapter 3.)

Let us close with a quote from His Beatitude Maximos IV, patriarch of Antioch and all the all the east, of Alexandria, and Jerusalem:
“The primacy of Peter, the infallible primacy, is a great grace, a charism granted by God to His Church, not for the advantage of a few, nor of Catholics alone, but of all Christians, including Orthodox and Protestants.” (Ain-Traz, September 30, 1962.)

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Apologetics 1.6: Does God condemn iconography? 

Protestants make the absurd accusation that we as Catholic’s worship statues and images. In my previous post, I have made it clear that we as Catholics worship the Trinity alone and that the Catholic Church condemned idol worship. (Nicea 2).

With that being said, Protestants cite Exodus 20 which states the following:
“You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to them or serve them”
As Catholics, we complete agree with this verse. That’s because we as Catholics agree with the bible 100% being that we are bible Christians. That’s right. Protestants would say we don’t accept this, thus God’s condemnation on the construction of statues. However, what is this scripture really addressing? If you were not aware, Protestants suffer with a bad case of personal interpretation of scripture, something coming from the heretic and schismatic Martin Luther.

When examining this scripture in context, the scripture in itself is condemning the pagan use of statues, that being the construction of them in order to put them in the place of God out of pride and disobedience. Being that God is almighty and cannot be replaced, the pagans have committed the sin of idolatry. However, does God condemn the religious use of images? No, for God doesn’t contradict Himself.
Five chapters away from Exodus 20, God instructs the construction of the ark of the covenant. The ark of the covenant was a container in which held the very word of God within it, that being the tablets of the Ten Commandments.

“And you shall make two cherubim of gold [i.e., two gold statues of angels]; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece of the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be” (Ex. 25:18–20).

Also, in the book of 1 chronicles, David has commanded Solomon to make statuary. “for the altar of incense made of refined gold, and its weight; also his plan for the golden chariot of the cherubim that spread their wings and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord. All this he made clear by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all, all the work to be done according to the plan” (1 Chr. 28:18–19).

Note something, “made clear by the writing of the hand of the Lord concerning it all, al the work to be done according to the plan.” If the construction of images were idolatry in themselves, why would David make it known that this is according to God’s plan? This plan included statues of angels, something found within Catholic Churches which co exists with images of saints.

Within the book of Ezekiel, the author describes the interior of the Jewish temples of the time. It is described as having images of the cherubim. On the walls round about in the inner room and [on] the nave were carved likenesses of cherubim.” (Ezekiel 41:17–18)

During a plague of serpents sent to punish the Israelites during the exodus, God told Moses to “make [a statue of] a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live” (Num. 21:8–9).

Apologetics 1.9: Catholic teaching on idolatry, icons, and the True God!


It is commonly argued by Protestants that the Catholic Church teaches to worship saints and images of them. Even though this is commonly claimed, what does the Catholic Church really teach in this regard?

1. The Church teaches that the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) alone is God.

Proof:

The first ecumenical council of the Catholic Church, the council of Nicea (325 A.D.) in regards to the belief in God, the Trinity: I believe in one God, the Father almighty,maker of heaven and earth,of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages.God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary”

• Catechism of the Catholic Church (234) :

The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the “hierarchy of the truths of faith”.56 The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men “and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin”.

• St. Ignatius of Antioch: “The prophets, who were men of God, lived according to Jesus Christ. For that reason they were persecuted, inspired as they were by his grace to convince the disobedient that there is one God, who manifested himself through his Son, Jesus Christ, who is his Word proceeding from silence, and who was in all respects pleasing to him that sent him” (Letter to the Magnesians 8:1 [A.D. 110]).

• The ancient Creed of St Athanasius:
“Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith.For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever. This is what the Catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity.”

• Irenaeus “For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them; and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Against Heresies 1:10:1 [A.D. 189]).

What does the Catholic Church teach in regards to images of God, the Theotokos, and Mary?
The Catholic Church infallibly teaches that the worship of saints and images is blasphemy and heresy, for the Trinity alone is God.

Proof:

• The Second Council of Nicaea (787) addressed the heresy of iconoclasm. This was the heresy that taught images of God and the saints must be smashed since they were allegedly worshiped by Catholics. (Which is false and would be blasphemy and heresy.)

“[T]he one who redeemed us from the darkness of idolatrous insanity, Christ our God, when he took for his bride his holy Catholic Church . . . promised he would guard her and assured his holy disciples saying, ‘I am with you every day until the consummation of this age.’ . . . To this gracious offer some people paid no attention; being hoodwinked by the treacherous foe they abandoned the true line of reasoning . . . and they failed to distinguish the holy from the profane, asserting that the icons of our Lord and of his saints were no different from the wooden images of satanic idols.”

• The Catechism of the Council of Trent, page 227, teaches that idolatry is of the devil. In objection to the accusation that Catholics worship images, it states that this is committed when:

“As far as this Commandment is concerned, it is clear that there are two chief ways in which God’s majesty can be seriously outraged. The first way is by worshipping idols and images as God, or believing that they possess any divinity or virtue entitling them to our worship, by praying to, or reposing confidence in them, as the Gentiles did, who placed their hopes in idols, and whose idolatry the Scriptures frequently condemn.”

• The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following in regards to idolatry: “Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who ‘transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God’” (CCC 2114).

Congratulations to Brother Andrew! 


We here at HolySynergy would like to says.. Congratulations to brother Andrew of Duchovny Dom Byzantine Catholic Monastary. He has received his Great Schema! These are for Monks, whose abbots feel they have reached a high level of spiritual excellence, reach the final stage. Let us all keep him in our prayers. Lord Have Mercy!

Apologetics 1.5: The doctrine and dogma of: ‘No salvation outside the Catholic Church’

The Catholic Church has always taught that there is no salvation outside of her.
You may be wondering why the Church would teach this very truth since there are many other self professed Christian sects. However, the question remains; which Church did Jesus establish and where is it today; considering that all churches outside the Catholic Church were established by men?

These sects (which happen to be 35,000+) all disagree with each other upon doctrine because of their personal interpretation of scripture, something that is against scripture itself. (2 Peter 1:20). Scripture makes it clear that there is “one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5) What other Church, besides the Catholic Church, has been united in faith ever since 33 A.D.? What other church upholds the ancient faith? None.
First things first, let it be advised that this does not mean that all you have to do is be a member of the Church and you are saved. It’s quite the contrary since we must work out our salvation (Phil 2:12) and always repent when we sin. (Lk 13:3)

It means that the Church is necessary for salvation since she: 1. Is the true church. (1 Cor 3:15) 2. Has access to the sacraments in which are necessary for salvation. (Baptism: Mk 16:16, Eucharist: Jn 6:54, Confession: John 20:21-23 & Lk 13:3) 3. Is founded by Christ (Matt 16:18) in where Jesus is the Head (Col 1:18) (note, the church doesn’t teach that the Pope is the head, but the visible head.) and is His very body. Romans 12:5 “In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.”

1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:17 “Because there is the one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf.”‬ ‭
Note what these scriptures say: One Body. If the Church is One Body united in One Lord, One Faith, & One Baptism, who’s to say there’s salvation outside of her since there isn’t salvation outside of Christ Himself? (Acts 4:12)

To say that there are many churches of God is to say that there are many bodies of Christ. This is unbiblical since there is only One Body, UNO! To say there are many bodies is to insist that Christ is not a singular being, a blasphemous heresy insisted by the Nestorians. It also suggests that there are many bodies of Christ, again, a blasphemous heresy.
One interesting thing to note is that the bible never speaks upon there being multiple churches, but a Church. That’s right. This Church alone has the truth, and it is the truth that will set us free (John 8:32) since Christ is the Truth (John 1:14,John 1:17, John 14:6); and Truth is found within His Church alone. ( 1 Tim 3:15)


With that in mind, He established a Singular Church upon Peter the Rock (Matt 16:18). The Catholic Church is the only Church that can claim this because of the fact that no other church has complete lineage to the apostles, where as other churches were founded by men that teach heresy. (While the schismatic orthodox have apostolic succession, their religion was also founded by men, that being Photious and Michael Celuarius.)
As a kid, you may have been told the story of Noah’s ark. This ark is the very prefigurement of the Church since there was no salvation outside of it. Those who were outside of it perished. This is why she is referred to as the “Ark of Salvation”.

Saint Jerome (died A.D. 420): “As I follow no leader but Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. …This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. …And as for heretics, I have never spared them; on the contrary, I have seen to it in every possible way that the Church’s enemies are also my enemies.”

Saint Peter Canisius (died A.D. 1597): “Outside of this communion – as outside of the ark of Noah – there is absolutely no salvation for mortals: not for Jews or pagans who never received the faith of the Church, nor for heretics who, having received it, corrupted it; neither for the excommunicated or those who for any other serious cause deserve to be put away and separated from the body of the Church like pernicious members…for the rule of Cyprian and Augustine is certain: he will not have God for his Father who would not have the Church for his mother.” (Catechismi Latini et Germanici)
Since the Catholic Church is referred to as a boat, let me ask you one question. 1. During a storm or in the midsts of the sea, let’s say in the middle of the Atlantic for example, would you jump ship all because you do not like the captain? No, right? Would you also jump ship all because you disagree with Church teaching? Or because of the many sinners that are in her? To do so is to put oneself in danger.


“Then the sailors tried to escape from the ship; they lowered the boat into the water and pretended that they were going to put out some anchors from the front of the ship. But Paul said to the army officer and soldiers, “If the sailors don’t stay on board, you have no hope of being saved.”‭‭ (Acts‬ ‭27:30-31‬)
Does this mean that non Catholics cannot be saved? No. The bible, Magisterium & early church fathers teach that those who are not aware that the Church is the true church, but try to obey God’s natural law and live a holy life, can possibly be saved.
“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”(CCC 846)

Jesus’ own teaching about those who innocently reject him: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin” (Jn 15:22).
“If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (Jn 9:41). Paul taught likewise concerning the Gentiles:

“When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 2:14-15)

How to confess in the Byzantine Rite

With head uncovered, approach the priest.
Facing the icon of Christ or, if one is not available, the Gospel book and the cross:

Cross yourself twice.

Kiss the Gospel book and the cross.

Cross yourself a third time.

Penitent: I, a sinner, confess to Almighty God, the Lord, One in the Holy Trinity; to the Immaculate Virgin, the Mother of God, to Saint N. my patron saint, to all the Saints, and to you, my spiritual father, all my sins:

Here list all your sins.

Penitent: For these sins, and for all my sins which I cannot remember, I am truly sorry because I have offended God who is good.
I sincerely repent and I promise, with the help of God, to better my way of life.

And so, I ask you, my spiritual father, for saving penance and absolution.

(If you are not already doing so, kneel.)
Prayer of Absolution
The priest may place his epitrachelion (stole) over your head and will make the sign of the cross on your head.

Priest: May our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, by the grace and mercies of His love for us, pardon you, my child, N., all your faults, and I, an unworthy priest, by His authority given me, pardon and absolve you of all your sins, in the name of the ✚Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
After the priest has spoken to you and given absolution,
get up and cross yourself twice;

kiss the Gospel book and cross;

cross yourself a third time and bow.

Then turn toward the priest, bow to him, saying, “Thank you, Father,”
kiss the end of the epitrachelion (stole) which he is wearing,

and go to your place.

There, kneel down, say your penance, and thank God in your own words for His great mercy.
Then, go in peace.

 Another Short Form of Confession in the Byzantine Churches

(For those who are familiar with the Roman Catholic rite)

Penitent: Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It has been [how long] since my last confession.
Here confess your sins.
Receive any counsel or penance offered.
Crossing yourself after each declaration, say:
Penitent: God, be merciful to me, a sinner. ✚
Penitent: God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me. ✚
Penitent: I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord. ✚
The priest then says the prayer of absolution.

 – Text adapted with appreciation from The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship by the Met. Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies (Ottawa, 2004).