Missions of the AEC in Scandinavia and Continental Europe (including Hungary)

From 6 February 2015 the following changes have been in effect:

Scandinavia and Continental Europe (including Hungary)
There are no authorized AEC missions in these areas at the present time. All future activity will be under the direct authority of the Primate for the time being.

Dr Bertil Persson
Dr Persson served as Primate of the AEC between 1986 and his retirement in 1998 on health grounds. Between 1998 and 6 February 2015, Dr Persson was designated Emeritus Primate and held the titles of Archbishop of Scandinavia and of Continental Europe.

On 31 December 2014, Dr Persson submitted a request to the Primate that he should retire from all clergy duties in the AEC, and this request was duly accepted. A copy of the document issued by Dr Persson is given below.

Bertil resignation from the AEC

As of 6 February 2015, Dr Persson has not been a member of the AEC and has no authority to represent the AEC in any capacity. Any ordination, consecration or clergy appointment undertaken by him after this date will not be recognized within the AEC.

Dr Bertil Persson är inte medlem i den Apostoliska Episkopala Kyrkan efter den 5 februari 2015. Han har inte tillstånd att vidta några åtgärder på uppdrag av den Apostoliska Episkopala Kyrkan. Eventuella åtgärder som han kan ta (samordning, invigningen av biskopar, etc) kommer inte att erkännas av den Apostoliska Episkopala Kyrkan. Den Apostoliska Episkopala Kyrkan har några godkända uppdrag eller präster i Sverige eller Kontinentaleuropa.

Although the AEC appointed a titular bishop for Scandinavia and Continental Europe until February 2015, in practice there has been no authorized ministerial activity in these areas for some years, with the exception of Hungary (see below).

Excommunication of Bertil Persson

The actions of Dr Persson during the period before and after 6 February 2015 have caused Metropolitan Synod of the Apostolic Episcopal Church to formally excommunicate him. The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. His repeated disrespectful comments towards the Primate and Emeritus Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, and latterly the promotion of schism against them.
  2. His open and public endorsement of the Church of Scientology, a sect whose beliefs are completely incompatible with the Orthodox Faith professed by the Apostolic Episcopal Church.
  3. His open and public endorsement and holding of office in the Universal Peace Federation, an organization affiliated to the Unification Church (“Moonies”) of the Revd. Sun Myung Moon, a sect which again is considered completely incompatible with the Orthodox Faith as professed by the Apostolic Episcopal Church.

As evidence for the second point, let us cite the following reference from a journal of the Church of Scientology, one among many such references. The reference pertains to the erection of the “European Church of Scientology” in Malmö, Sweden: http://www.freedommag.org/special-reports/sptimes/scientology-malmo-speakers.html “Dr. Bertil Persson, Professor of Religion and Scandinavia’s Permanent Representative at the UNESCO University for Peace: “With the opening of this Church, we are really at a turning point. The future activities based on Scientology are, in fact, predestined for great success for humanity.” This statement and the beliefs and practices of the Church of Scientology are anathema to our Church and to the Orthodox Faith.

As evidence for the third point we cite the reference http://www.upf.org/chapters/sweden where Dr Persson is described as “National Peace Council Member” for the Universal Peace Federation. Whilst our Church endorses work for global peace, it cannot extend such an endorsement to an organization that has been described as a “Moonie peace group” since the beliefs and practices of the Unification Church (“Moonies”) are anathema to our Church and to the Orthodox Faith.

By resolution of the Metropolitan Synod, ordinations and consecrations conducted by Dr Persson between his episcopal consecration for the Apostolic Episcopal Church in 1971 and his resignation as Primate in 1998 will continue to be recognized within our Church. Ordinations and consecrations undertaken by Dr Persson between his resignation as Primate in 1998 and 6 February 2015 at the commission of the Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church only will also be recognized. However, any consecration or other episcopal act performed by Dr Persson after 6 February 2015 will not be recognized within our Church, and likewise any “private” ordination or consecration from before that date that was not endorsed by the Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church will also not be recognized.

Mission activity was recommenced in Hungary in November 2014. Due to the situation that had developed there by February 2015, it was decided that it was not appropriate that this work should continue to be a part of the AEC. For the purposes of clarification, as of 6 February 2015, the AEC has had no authorized missions in Hungary and no authorized clergy. No Hungarian website has been authorized to use the distinctive emblems or logos of the AEC. Nor have any Hungarian book or pamphlet publications, whether liturgical or discursive, been authorized by the AEC.

Tamas Szeles
The position of Tamas Szeles, who was appointed to the office of AEC Archbishop of Hungary in November 2014, was reviewed in the light of subsequent developments, and it was decided that his Faculties as a clergyman of the AEC should be withdrawn for cause. As of 6 February 2015 he has not been a member of the AEC and has no authority to represent the AEC in any capacity. Any ordination, consecration or clergy appointment undertaken by him after this date will not be recognized within the AEC.

Szelés Tamás nem tagja az Apostoli Egyház Episzkopális után február 6 2015. Ő nem eljárásra felhatalmazott az Apostoli Egyház Episzkopális semmilyen módon. Minden olyan cselekmény történik vele (teszi papok, püspökök stb) készülék nem ismer az Apostoli Egyház Episzkopális. Jelenleg nincs engedélyezett missziókon és weboldalak közé tartozik, és nem engedélyezett könyvek magyar nyelven.

Excommunication of Tamas Szeles

The actions of Dr Szeles during the period before and after 6 February 2015 have caused Metropolitan Synod of the Apostolic Episcopal Church to formally excommunicate him. The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. His promotion of schism against the Primate and Emeritus Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church by the establishment of a sect “Magyar Apostoli Epizkopális Egyház” (supported by Dr Bertil Persson) that illegally uses the name and symbols of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.

“Magyar Apostoli Epizkopális Egyház”
This Hungarian body has been formed by Tamas Szeles and Bertil Persson, former bishops of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, following their departure from our communion. Both men are excommunicates and neither possesses any form of jurisdiction or authority from our church. The use of the name and symbols of the Apostolic Episcopal Church on websites or videos by these men is illegal and fraudulent.

Posted in Church news, Notices

Book review by Archbishop Spataro

Turning to Tradition; Converts and the Making of an American Orthodoxy. By D. Oliver Herbel. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Reviewed by Francis C. Spataro

This is the story of recent movements in the United States which greatly expanded the Eastern Orthodox Church in America. Russian explorers to Alaska brought their Ancient Faith to North America. However, the men mentioned in this book ignited a light which still glows today.

The first of these is St. Alexis Toth who was a Catholic priest from Austria-Hungary, sent to the USA to work as a missionary among the many thousands of Uniates who had immigrated to this country to seek a better life. He ended up converting them en masse to the Russian Orthodox Church which had been the religion of their ancestors. It is an amazing study in the inability of the local Roman Catholic hierarchy to adjust to Catholics of a different Rite and History. The majority Irish bishops were trying to keep immigrants from the Irish Potato Famine from being lost to the Catholic Church. So they lost thousands of immigrants from Austria-Hungary instead.

Then we have the turning to Orthodoxy of Black Americans who eventually founded the African Orthodox Church here, in the West Indies and Africa. The first Black man ordained a priest was Fr. Raphael Morgan. Then we have Fr. Moses Berry and the Order of St. Moses the Black. Fr. Berry was first attracted to non-canonical Orthodoxy through the Holy Order of MANS and the Brotherhood of Christ the Saviour. Having personally known Metropolitan Pangratios and Bishop Joseph Langdon, I can comment knowingly about this phenomenon. Eventually,both the Order of MANS and the Brotherhood converted to canonical Orthodoxy, joining either the Orthodox Church of America (OCA) or the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

Finally we have the saga of the Evangelical Orthodox Church and Pastor Peter Gillquist. This large group from the Campus Crusades have already documented their journey in Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith. Unfortunately the change from Fundamentalist, Evangelical Protestants was too radical an effort. Many “deconverted” after joining the Antiochian Orthodox Church. In some cases ethnic Orthodoxy was not severe enough for these Fundamentalists who wanted to live like the Thebaid Monks of Egypt. Some changed to the OCA while others just went back to being Evangelical Orthodox.

This is a very fascinating book, especially for me who since 1976 through the Vilatte Guild has watched and recorded so many persons in both Independent – Autocephalous and Canonical Orthodoxy. The Bibliography is well done and very complete. I highly recommend this study to all interested in American Orthodoxy.

Posted in Reflections

Book review by Archbishop Spataro

When God Spoke Greek: the Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible By Timothy M. Law; Oxford University Press, 2013; 240pp.

Reviewed by Francis C. Spataro

The catchphrase,”when God spoke Greek,” comes from Eusebius,the famous historian of the Early Church.

LawThe Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, done in Alexandria before the Birth of Christ. Originally it included only The Torah, but later were added the Prophets, Psalms and the Wisdom literature. The legend goes that it was translated by seventy scribes, thus septuagint or “seventy interpreters”, who at the end of each day checked their translations and miraculously they always turned out to be each the same. So the popular belief was that it was the revealed Word of God in Greek!

It thus became the Bible of the Early Church and was much older than the present day Hebrew canonical or Masoretic Text. This Jewish version of the Bible was not set down until the 3rd-4th Century of the Common Era. The Masoretic Text puts in all the vowel sounds because the Jews no longer spoke Hebrew and needed to know the correct pronunciation for liturgical worship.

After the Destruction of the Temple in 70AD the evolving Rabbinical Judaism needed an authoritative text for Synagogue services. There was no Masoretic Text found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. In the New Testament whenever the writers quote the Old Testament it is from the Septuagint. It remained the Bible of the Christian Church, Eastern and Western, until the 6th-Century when Jerome decided to translate the Masoretic Text into Latin, thus the Vulgate which was to supercede the old Latin version. Luther did the same in the 16th-Century and so we now have the Protestant Bible and King James Version.

However, as stated, in the New Testament, all the writers quote the Septuagint when copying from the Old Testament. The Septuagint has influenced some basic Christian beliefs. The Virgin Birth comes from the Septuagint; it is not mentioned in the Hebrew. In the  Septuagint,”Yahweh” is called “Kyrios.” So when the New Testament writers refer to Jesus as Lord they mean He is God! The word “Christos,” is how Moshiach or Messiah is translated in the Septuagint.

St. Augustine despised Jerome’s Vulgate Translation. He refused to use its version of the Psalms for worship and accused Jerome of Judaizing. Jerome’s knowledge of Hebrew was fragmentary. He depended on Origen’s Hexapla for his Hebrew and its translation of the Septuagint. He also used Hebrew scholars who were Jewish and who often gave him on purpose the wrong meaning for words. The Vulgate is shot through with errors, especially the Clementine update. The King James Version is a much more dependable translation of the Masoretic Text of the Canonical Hebrew Scriptures. It’s when God spoke English!

Posted in Reflections

Book review by Archbishop Spataro


CREATION, a Biblical Vision for the Environment, By Prof. Margaret Barker, 326pp, T and T Clark International (A Continuum Imprint) London/NY, 2010, www.continuumbooks.com With a Foreword by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

Reviewed by Francis C. Spataro

Prof. Margaret Barker is a very well known and prolific Old Testament scholar and master of Biblical Hebrew. The central theme of her research is that the Rabbis after the destruction of the 2nd Temple created a religious reform Movement which today is Rabbinical Judaism. These were Rabbis Ben Zakkai, Ben Hakanah and Ismael. However, the early Christians kept the ancient traditions of Israel. And “Israel” meant those who saw God. This is the reason why the early Christian Church eclipsed Rabbinical Judaism because it followed an older more authentic Religion dating from the First Temple. It is this Temple Theology that is expressed in both the Epistle to the Hebrews and in John’s Revelation.

While the Septuagint(LXX) contains the true Messianic texts, the Masoretic version does not. It had been edited to back up the Reform Movement without much of the Wisdom Literature conrained in the LXX. At Qumran have been found MSS of both the Book of Enoch and Jubilees which today are canonical only in the Ethiopic Bible.

Since the Presence of God was to be found in the Holy of Holies of the Temple, when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans where is IT? According to Rabbinical Judaism, in the Torah. Thus in the synagogue, the Place where the Torah is kept represents the Holy of Holies. In the Christian Church it is the Church or Qahal/Ecclesia where the Presence of the Almighty resides. Thus the Presence of God in the world is to be found in Creation.

I had the great honor of meeting the author, Dr. Barker, at St. Vladimir’s Seminary where she gave the Schmemann Lecture for 2012. She autographed my copy of her book and we chatted briefly about her research. Dr. Barker told me that once in London, a Rabbi had approached her and said that he wanted to hug her for restoring their ancient tradition. The great Philo of Alexandria spent a life time interpreting Genesis. This book by Margaret Barker is in that category: it is a revelation about Revelation.

Posted in Reflections