Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vassula Ryden Excommunicated

The Ecumenical Patriarchate has finally excommunicated Vassula Ryden, a Greek heretic whose teachings and the seeming 'no comment' position the Church has had on them have troubled me personally since high school. More on that here. Whether Ryden's native Church of Alexandria will uphold the Ecumenical Patriarchate's decision (I pray it will!) remains to be seen.


  1. Whether Ryden's native Church of Alexandria will uphold the Ecumenical Patriarchate's decision (I pray it will!) remains to be seen.

    Your question is interesting as Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria is positive about Vassula and has welcomed her and a big True Life in God group to his community in 2007.

    I realise my posting here might not be welcome as I am a Roman Catholic and a supporter of Vassula. But I am interested in knowing what authority Patriarch Bartholomew has for making the announcement that he has appeared to make?

  2. I confess that I was surprised by the action as well. If my understanding of 'due process' between our Churches is correct, then her metropolitan in the Church of Alexandria should have excommunicated her himself, after which she could have appealed the excommunication first to the Patriarchate and then to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Doubly confusing is that the Ecumenical Patriarchate cares enough about heresy to excommunicate someone preaching it - it's rather well known in the Orthodox world for skirting the edges of Orthodoxy itself, so why it would move against someone in a similar place is beyond me :-).

  3. Thank you for this honest reply. Another point to mention about the abnnouncement from Turkey is that the document seems to be completely unsigned.

    It is perhaps significant that when the Vatican issued its own 'Notification' against Vassula in 1995, that document was also unsigned. This leads to a hope on the part of Vassula supporters that the Ecumenical Patriarchate's notice will also lead to a dialogue of the Orthodox with Vassula as happened between the Vatican and Vassula in the years 2001 and 2004. This dialogue led to a positive meeting between Cardinal Ratzinger and Vassula in 2004 - details at

  4. I'm afraid I don't have access to the originals of the decrees of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but I doubt that the members of its Holy Synod would hesitate to sign the decree. The Churches of Alexandria (of the Copts), Greece, and Crete and the Greek Orthodox Metropolises of Buenos Aires and Geneva and the Romanian Orthodox Metropolis of the Banat have already publicly spoken against her teachings and/or recognized her as being outside the Church because of her teachings and her taking communion with heretics :-/.

    I would hope that Vassula would dialogue with the Church so that she can be reconciled to it, but if she prefers her teachings to those of the Church, then of course there is very little that can be done :-/. But the Vatican has become very lenient in what it will tolerate amongst its members since Vatican II, so perhaps she will find her home in the Roman Catholic Church?

  5. Again though, I'm really surprised that the Ecumenical Patriarchate excommunicated Vassula. The current ecumenical patriarch has quite probably knowingly communed Roman Catholics at services he has celebrated and has, to all intents and purposes, concelebrated with the Popes of Rome, so why he would be troubled by Vassula is beyond me. It may be that there was pressure from the Church of Greece to uphold the 2001 ruling on Vassula by its Holy Synod, but otherwise I'm at a loss. Had Vassula been born in Russia or Romania or another more traditionally Orthodox country I think she would have been recognized as outside the Church fairly quickly...

  6. I don't want to outstay my welcome but may I ask if you are aware of any theological matters which might be a problem for the Patriarchate or, for that matter, the Greek Holy Synod? There seems to be a marked lack of specifics in rulings from these authorities.

    I realise that, from a distance, Vassula's mission might seem to be potentially very 'unorthodox' but I think that any Orthodox scholar is likely to struggle to find specific errors in her messages. I suppose the intimacy with God which the messages encourage may make some Orthodox uneasy but this is hardly theological error. Or maybe you view things differently?

  7. It's been a while since I last went through her messages (high school - almost a decade ago now), but what stands out in my memory is the New Age style of the visions she has (I've never read of similar visions in the lives of the Saints) and her ecumenism, which apparently goes beyond the kind currently fashionable in many quarters of Orthodoxy to allow for taking communion in Roman Catholic (and Anglican?) churches. I don't think Roman Catholics understand how big of a problem this is for Orthodox given how loosely the Vatican views communion in these times. For us, taking communion outside the Orthodox Church is a sin against the unity of the Church, an abandonment of the Apostolic Faith, and an endorsement of the beliefs and life of the church in which the action is taken. There simply cannot be intercommunion between the Orthodox Churches and churches that do not follow the faith and life of the Apostolic Church.

  8. And comments and counter-comments are always welcome :-).

  9. The problem here is that Orthodoxy does not speak with one voice as I'm sure you will agree.

    I wonder what you think of the words and actions of Patriarch Athenagoras I who died in 1972? When I read his words (see here) I see him as truly an embodiment of "the faith and life of the Apostolic Church".

    But how many Orthodox view him as virtually a heretic? His description of the Church as "There is only one Church, the Church of Christ; only one theology, the proclamation of Christ risen from the dead who raises us up and gives us the power to love." summarizes the unity message of True Life in God.

  10. Patriarch Athenagoras' words are beautiful and he did somehow manage to stay in the Church, but his high-handed, unilateral decisions vis-a-vis the Orthodox Churches' relations with the Roman Church were taken very much against the consensus of the Church at that time (and today) and do not match his words.

    If Vassula believes in the Church of Christ, then why does she separate herself from it? This is salvation indeed - true life in God. "For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets..."

  11. Patriarch Athenagoras' words are beautiful and he did somehow manage to stay in the Church

    This comment illustrates your understanding of 'the Church' is very different to mine. I think that you have in mind a human structure which might be a particular Orthodox 'church' or maybe 'Orthodoxy' in general. I don't think Patriarch Athenagoras would view the Church that way. I believe that Christ's Church is made up of sinful believers in Jesus belonging to many different groups, Catholics, Orthodox, Protestant...

    If Vassula believes in the Church of Christ, then why does she separate herself from it?

    Vassula has always remained faithful, yes even to the Greek Orthodox group of which she is a member. An unsigned document appearing on a website can not override the views of her legal authority, Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria who continues to support her.

  12. I do not claim to know who God saves or does not save, but He has established His Church and its boundaries are clear.

    Whether the document is signed the way Vassula thinks it should be or not is immaterial - the decision was taken by the highest authority in the Church of Constantinople and has been announced as official by that Church and is, therefore, official.

  13. He has established His Church and its boundaries are clear.

    The web page for which you have provided a link is certainly interesting. As a Roman Catholic, I would accept most of the content but when it attempts to speak of the Unity of the Church it reminds me of how I was taught my faith as a Catholic! We are right and the rest are wrong even though they might be nice people!!

    So the statement that the boundaries of the Church 'are clear' seems to involve quite a lot of wishful thinking on your part. The Church IS One because it is Christ's Body but there is much division within it and it will be Christ Himself who will unite its members.

    Anyway thank you for your responses on this matter. You will continue to hear of Vassula because the messages of True Life in God are truly a gift from heaven which can not be destroyed. Vassula must continue to undergo the persecution and suffering of any true prophet but her authenticity will eventually become known and accepted even by the Orthodox.

  14. Christ Himself does unite its members - it is wishful thinking on your part to think that people who reject fundamental aspects of the Christian Faith are still somehow part of the Body of Christ.

    Thanks for your comments on all of this! I do hope Vassula is not persecuted - she's really not a unique person in today's world. (How many people I have met like her in Africa and the West both!) Her memory will fade as Arius' has and the Church will live on. God guide you!