Saturday, June 23, 2012
Vol. 2 Issue 4
Vol. 2 Issue 4
Volume II Issue 4
An excerpt from the Special Session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad on May 14\27, 2011:
Resolved: After reviewing and discussing the request, the Synod of Bishops RESOLVES: That until their status is decided at the upcoming Council of Bishops meeting, the parish of Holy Royal Martyr Nicholas in Zavyalov, the parish of St. Sergius of Radonezh in Meshcheryak (Udmurtia oblast, RF), and priests Archpriest Sergey Kondakov, Archpriest Mikhail Karpeev and Fr. Aleksandr Malykh will be considered parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate within the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and temporarily under the authority of the First Hierarch.
A notice on the Forum section of the Live Journal of the ROCA First Hierarch, Metropolitan Agafangel, on June 8, 2011 (http://agafa-angel.livejournal.com/):
Our Future – Page 75
Somehow without noticing it has become acceptable to consider the ROCA separate from the Moscow Patriarchate, when our fathers considered themselves a part of it. The Church Abroad also has always differentiated between the Moscow Patriarchate (the religious Russian people) and the Moscow Patriarchia (the church administration which voluntarily entered into a state of dependence from the Soviet regime). This is discussed in part in the Encyclical of the ROCA Council of Bishops of 1927. This Encyclical is applicable and binding today as well.
A notice on the Forum section of the Live Journal of the ROCA First Hierarch, Metropolitan Agafangel, on June 12, 2011 (http://agafa-angel.livejournal.com/):
An answer to questioners.
We cannot cede the entire Moscow Patriarchate, that is the complete Local Russian Church, to the “Moscow Patriarchia.” The title itself “Moscow Patriarchia” for those whom we call by that name is too laudatory and has been impertinently labeled as such with the help of the Soviet regime. Since that is what has happened, we (ROCA) have accepted the historical appellation, while always considering it the pseudo-religious administration created by Stalin. It is now time to state categorically and unequivocally that the title “Moscow Patriarchia” applies only to the unlawful administration and in no way to the entire Russian Church. The ROCA has never recognized the “patriarchs” of this “Patriarchia” and continues not to recognize them.
ENCYCLICAL EPISTLE OF THE COUNCIL OF BISHOPS
OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ABROAD
AUGUST 27\SEPTEMBER 9 1927
“Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love
our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”
We inform you, our beloved faithful, of the latest events of note in the life of our Holy Church.
In July of this year the deputy locum tenens, Metropolitan Sergius of Nizhegorod, and the Provisional Patriarchal Synod published an important epistle regarding the status of the Church in Russia and its relation to the Soviet regime and the flock abroad.
This epistle is quite remarkable.
It announces that with the start of the Patriarchal Synod’s activity, our Church in Russia “not only has a canonical, but also in light of civil statutes, a completely legal central administration” and it calls on us to “express publicly our gratitude” to the Soviet regime “for its consideration of the spiritual needs of the Orthodox population and to consider it legal and pledge loyalty to it ‘not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake’ (Romans 13:5), and to see the Soviet Union as our national homeland, whose triumphs and successes are also our triumphs and successes, whose failures are our failures” and that “every attack on the Union, will be regarded as an attack against the representatives of the Church.” The epistle deems it necessary and mandatory that all of us for whom the “interests of the Church are dear,” for those who “wish to lead it on the course of a legal and peaceful existence,” that we “representatives of the Church” show that we “are not with the enemies of the Soviet government and their senseless games of intrigues, but with our people and our government.”
The epistle also judges our clergy and laity abroad for their disloyalty to the Soviet regime and for coming out against it, with the epistle demanding that the clergy issue a written pledge of its total loyalty to the Soviet government “in all its national service,” and threatening to expel our clerics from the clergy of the Moscow Patriarchia.
Finally, the epistle reminds us that Holy Patriarch Tikhon allegedly dissolved our Synod of Bishops in 1922, that the Synod is “unchanged politically,” and allegedly “its claim of authority has even divided the church abroad into two camps.”
Such is the latest decision of the deputy Patriarchal locum tenens and his Provisional Holy Synod.
How should we comment on it?
The sacred and responsible duty of the bishops of the Church and our Christian conscience command us to say the following about this action:
The epistle of Metropolitan Sergius and members of the Holy Synod was not written freely, but under powerful pressure from the persecutors of our Holy Church and tormentors of the Russian people – the Bolsheviks, as not a single bishop free of the oppression and captivity of these evil enemies of Christ can consider their government to be lawful, cannot trust their peaceful intentions to the Holy Church and cannot hope to establish normal relations between it and the Church. The whole world knows the enormous number of servers of the altar of the Lord and the faithful sons of the Church – the laity – that has been slain by the proponents of the godless Soviet government, how many sacred sites of the Russian people have been violated and desecrated or even destroyed, how many bishops, pastors and laypeople are now enduring imprisonment, exile and deportation, abuse and suffering for the holy faith and the patristic teachings. The diabolical persecution of Christ and His Holy Church in tormented Russia have gone on for almost ten years, persecutions which bring to mind the first centuries of Christianity. How can one express gratitude publicly to such a government? How can one take joy in its joys and lament its failures? No, the goodwill of our bishops did not produce this epistle; it was done by the evil enemies of Christ.
The epistle declares an unattainable goal – to establish an unheard of and unnatural union between the atheistic government and the Holy Orthodox Church.
It can be expressed by the words of the Gospel, “what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). The successes of the Soviet government result in the impoverishment of religion and piety, an increase in lawlessness, the corruption of the people, the destruction of the Church, the suffering of faithful sons and daughters of God, the spilling of blood of the righteous and the enthronement of the kingdom of the Satan on earth. Can this possibly be a joy for the Church?
Metropolitan Sergius’ epistle is not that of a bishop or of the church. It is political and therefore cannot have any ecclesiastical or canonical significance and is not binding for us, since we are free from the oppression and bondage of the anti-God and anti-Christian government. Under the pretext of peaceful relations with the Church and allowing Metropolitan Sergius to establish a Holy Synod, the Bolsheviks compelled him and the other bishops to declare that the Soviet government is a legal one, that it should be obeyed, that it is created by God, that its interests coincide with the interests of the Holy Church and that all opposition to it is criminal and should be punished through the chastisements of the Church. In this way, the epistle of the Church’s bishops has become one of the means of propaganda for the Soviet government and the insinuation of its atheistic policies into the life of the Church.
In this way the bishops bless the anti-Christian policies of the enemies of all religions. The situation is completely unnatural for the Church and is harmful and dangerous and is capable of creating new and difficult troubles for the Church and give grounds for doubt of the purity of Orthodoxy in Russia. The Church cannot bless policies that are anti-Christian and especially atheistic. Having said that, we do not want to say that the Church has to be separated from the government. The Church must be above all political machinations and party affiliation, yet it must bless not only the Christian policies of a government, but also its battle with those opposed to Christianity and especially those who are atheists.
What else can we say? Can we consider the Soviet government to be legal? Can we sign a pledge of loyalty to this government?
No, we cannot and should not do this. We consider the Soviet government to be illegal and not established by God and that it exists by the wisdom of God for our sins and for our enlightenment. We consider the Soviet government as one which abhors God and is atheistic and which is destroying the Church and Russia. We pray to the Lord that He free our Church and Russia from the oppression and bondage of this government.
Can we consider the resolution of the Provisional Patriarchal Synod legal when it forces bishops and other clerics to relinquish their responsibilities and removes them from the ranks of the Moscow Patriarchia if they refuse to sign a pledge of loyalty to the Soviet government? Such a resolution of the Synod cannot be considered legal and canonical. It must be considered an abuse of power and that it contradicts not only the holy canons of the Church and the epistle from the imprisoned bishops of Solovetsky to the Soviet government, but the epistle of Metropolitan Sergius himself from 1926, when he said it was not possible to accept punishing the clergy abroad “for their disloyalty to the Soviet Union.”
We cannot help but note that the enemies of the Church showed their hand in the section of the epistle that speaks about our Synod of Bishops. The epistle incorrectly states that the Holy Patriarch purportedly adjourned the Holy Synod in 1922. We must declare that at that time it was not the actual Synod of Bishops that was adjourned, but the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority abroad. Our actual Synod was not adjourned by His Eminence Tikhon and not by his successor who now leads the Church, even though they all knew fully well of its existence. This is corroborated now by Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod, who did not dare declare it adjourned. By blending these two different bodies – the Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority abroad and the Synod of Bishops – the enemies of the Church tried to confuse its loyal members and deepen the turmoil in the Church abroad. The epistle falsely accuses our Synod of dividing the church body into two camps. Just the opposite, it always strived to unite all the dioceses and church missions abroad into one. Our church body was split by two metropolitans – Platon and Evlogiy. Earlier they had answered to our Synod and availed themselves of its help and support, but in 1926, unlawfully and without authorization, they separated from it and desired to head their dioceses on their own without answering to anyone and not recognizing any authority over themselves, thus placing themselves above the autocephalous hierarchs.
After a careful review of the epistle of the deputy Patriarchal locum tenens and the Provisional Holy Synod and bearing in mind that the governing church administration in Russia finds itself under great duress by the enemies of the Church and is not free to act, and that it is not possible for us to have normal relations with it, the Holy Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad has decided:
1. The part of the All-Russia Church abroad must cease all relations with the church administration in Moscow in light of the impossibility of normal relations with it and in light of its subjugation by the atheistic Soviet government, which has deprived it from the independent and canonical administration of the Church.
2. To release our episcopate in Russia from the responsibility of the part of our Church which is abroad not recognizing the Soviet government, and until we can restore normal relations with Russia and until our Church is freed from persecution by the atheistic Soviet government, the part of our Church abroad must administer itself, in accordance with the Holy Canons, the rulings of the Holy Council of the All-Russia Local Orthodox Church in 1917-18 and the decisions of Holy Patriarch Tikhon, the Holy Synod and the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority in November 7\20, 1920, and by the Synod of Bishops and Council of Bishops headed by Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev.
3. The part of the All-Russia Church abroad considers itself the indivisible branch that is united spiritually with the mighty Russian Church. It does not separate itself from its Mother Church and does not consider itself to be autocephalous. As before, it considers its primate to be the Patriarchal locum tenens Metropolitan Peter and commemorates his name during religious services.
4. If a decree of Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod follows which excludes the bishops and clerics abroad who did not desire to sign a pledge of loyalty to the Soviet government from the ranks of the clergy of the Moscow Patriarchate, then such a decree will be uncanonical.
5. We categorically reject the proposal by Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod to sign a pledge of loyalty to the Soviet government as being uncanonical and extremely harmful to the Holy Church in Russia as well as abroad.
In announcing our decision to all the faithful members of the Holy Church, we hope that our Mighty Elder Pastor, the Lord Jesus Christ, leads us to blessings, peace and joy and puts all of its enemies to shame.
“Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered…” (Psalm 68:1)
Metropolitan Anthony, Archbishop Theophan, Archbishop Seraphim, Bishop Sergius, Bishop Gabriel, Bishop Germogen, Bishop Theophan, Bishop Damian, Bishop Seraphim, Bishop Tikhon.
August 27\September 9, 1927
“Church Gazette.” 1927. Issue 17-18. Pages 1-3.