For years, especially since Vatican II and the papacy of John Paul II, the Unia were trumpeted and heralded as a great example of how unity with the Orthodox Churches could be accomplished. The Orthodox could retain their rituals, their praxis, their outward signs of the faith, but would recognize the headship of Rome. This has been routinely denounced as not an acceptable means to true unity, even by His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch VARTHOLOMAIOS I, himself an ecumenist with the papists. But the Vatican is an expert at diplomatic intrigue and negotiation. Once upon the time such honors were bestowed upon the Byzantine Empire, which held off its own destruction for centuries due to its diplomatic cunning. How times have changed.
Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to make a trip to Cyprus later this week. He was invited by the President of Cyprus and so it would seem that Benedict XVI is traveling there only in his capacity as head of the Vatican State which is one of his titles. However, while there, he will be meeting with the Roman Catholic faithful and be celebrating the Liturgy in a few stadiums. The problem is that the Catholics of Cyprus are Uniates, i.e. look Orthodox but are in full union with the Pope. The Holy Synod of Cyprus is rightly alarmed by the Pope's visit, but member bishops have been threatened with removal from the synod for a year by the head of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop CHRYSOSTOMOS II. These bishops realize that the Pope will be celebrating Liturgy according to the Eastern Rite alongside these uniates, a number of them from the Middle East, which will create the illusion that there were joint prayer (i.e. ecumencial) services with the Orthodox. The media can't discern between Uniates and Orthodox from outward signs because there is no outward difference and then again, for the media, the existence of an Orthodox Church is basically ALL they know about the Orthodox Church. Watch the 60 Minutes show on Patriarch VARTHOLOMAIOS I to see how the media can only picture the Orthodox through a papal lens.
Metropolitan Paul of Kyrenia, a member of the Holy Synod of Cyprus says the following:
The Roman Catholics once again proved to be excellent diplomats. As made evident in the daily Press, they had arranged the Pope's schedule in such a manner that - by means of worship congregations, especially the one that will take place in the closed stadium of Nicosia where Roman Catholic clergy from the Middle East will be present - confusion will ensue among the pious Orthodox of Cyprus, who are not in a position to discern the Uniates. Seeing them participate in the ritual, dressed in Orthodox vestments, it is certain that they will be misled and scandalized, by perceiving them to be Orthodox clergy. It is also not precluded that many foreign Press agencies - also fooled by the external appearance of the Uniates - will erroneously transmit the news that it is common prayer with "all of the Eastern Orthodox Churches". The attempts of the Vatican to exploit the opportunity and present the Pope as the leader of Christianity and the entire world is very obvious.
He is right. The Unia are dangerous and are in existence only to lure the Orthodox faithful away from the Holy Orthodox Church, the One, Holy, Catholic Church and bring them to the Papacy of the Roman Catholics. Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing as the old fable goes. That is what the Unia are--wolves in sheep's clothing.
There is talk, just talk at this point, that there may be an ecumenical council sometime in the future. We've not had one for over 1000 years, but it's time for one. Hopefully, if such were to occur, the issue of how to deal with the Unia and its dangers would be on the agenda.
This situation in Cyprus represents the dangers not only of the Unia but the Vatican and why we, as Orthodox, should be very much on guard against modern ecumenism, whether with Papists or Protestants.