The author of this 2010 essay was at the time a monk in the ROCOR-MP. I am publishing it chiefly as a resource to provide information about the participation of World Orthodoxy in Ecumenism. The author’s opinions on the nuances of the “grace/no grace” question, and whether or how long one can remain in World Orthodoxy were his own opinions at that time.
LETTER TO THE BISHOPS
The Royal Path
of Christian Love and True Confession.
The Lament from a Monk in ROCOR/MP.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel
of the ungodly.”
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind, charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not
in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
Introduction................................3 1) The Heresy of Monophysitism.................4 2) Ecumenism..................................20
- 3) The Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement…….32
- 4) Toward full communion with the OCA………35
- 5) The Moscow Patriarchate………………..37
6) ROCOR/MP – before and now.................88
- 7) The upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council……….94
- 8) Dialogues of “Peace and Unity”…………102
- 9) A Need for a strong Orthodox Stand……..108
10) Love of this World........................113 11) The Greek Old Calendar Churches –
our former Friends........................117 12) World Orthodoxy – a new “Christianity”....119 13) “Obedience” or Faithfulness to Christ.....121
- 14) God’s Love to His Faithful in both the Old Calendar Churches and World Orthodoxy….123
- 15) An ungodly Schism or a God-pleasing Walling off from falsehood……………128
- 16) Grace or the right Confession of Faith…133
- 17) The Old Calendar Movement and its Struggle…………………….135
- 18) The Royal Path of true Love and Confession…………..145
- 19) The Sober Old Calendar Faithful and true Traditionalists in World Orthodoxy – our Unity in Love and Truth…………..150
- 20) World Orthodoxy or the Old Calendar Movement………………..153
- 21) A Word of Ending…………………….156 Appendixes………………………….162
This is a quiet, but concerned voice from the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad under the Moscow Patriarchate addressed to all Orthodox faithful.
It presents information taken from original and official sources only, or from other trustworthy sources. Nothing is from hearsay or rumors. Writing this paper, I refer to the words said in 2001 by our Synod:
“The Synod of Bishops is not at all against the statement of other views by the faithful children of the Church Abroad, or even suggestions that it review one or another of the decisions adopted at the most recent Council…[as long as] the expressions of disagreement [do not] take the form of an open call to rebellion…and schism.”[1a, p.25, point 5].
This paper is not written with the intention of condemning anyone nor with the slightest feeling of malice towards my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have no intention of being sensational, of stirring up emotions or spreading any lies or false rumors. Nor is it my intention to misuse the material presented in this paper. But neither can I close my eyes to the facts set forth in this text. These are facts regarding the general apostasy going on today, which are presented together with some personal reflections, written I believe, on the conscience of the Orthodox Church.
In May 2007 the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia (ROCOR) united with the Moscow Patriarchate and World Orthodoxy. A whole new chapter in its 90 years of true confession began. Three years have now passed. Is ROCOR/MP still being a true confessor for Christ? The material here presented may answer that question.
This paper is written not as an attack on the ROCOR/MP or anyone else, but rather as a concerned statement on where it appears that World Orthodoxy is heading – towards complete apostasy. It is my sincere hope that what I present here will not intensify the separations among us, which so many writings have been doing, but on the contrary, will help us to be faithful to the teachings and traditions of the Orthodox Church and unite us in Christ in a truly Orthodox manner
The Heresy of Monophysitism.
The Antiochian Orthodox Church
and Union with the Monophysite Churches.
In October 2008, in the main Cathedral of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Brazil (Sao-Paulo), a concelebration between hierarchs from both our Church (ROCOR/MP) and the Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchate took place [1b]. The celebrants, among others, included His Eminence Hilarion, First Hierarch of ROCOR/MP and two other ROCOR/MP bishops together with His Eminence Damascene from the Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Sao-Paulo and all Brazil.
The concelebration concerned me since, according to official documents and other statements the Antiochian Orthodox Church is in full communion with the Syrian Monophysite Church. One document – The Antiochian-Syrian Pastoral Agreement of July 22, 1991 – is important in this regard [2b-1 to 2b-3]. This document was signed by both the Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Syrian Oriental Church. Addressing its faithful, it reads that “All the meetings, the fellowship, the oral and written declarations meant that we belong to One faith…Every endeavour and pursuit in the direction of the coming together of the two Churches is based on the conviction that this orientation is from the Holy Spirit.” [2b-2, parag 3 and 5].
Thus, believing that the two Churches belong to one faith, they finally blessed this document as ”a concrete expression to the close fellowship between the two Churches.” [2b-2, parag. 6].
The Agreement thereby states that the two Churches are now allowed to serve and commune together. 14 points were agreed upon of which I will quote only one (nr. 11): “If a bishop from one Church and a priest from the sister Church happen to concelebrate a service, the bishop will preside even when it is the priest`s parish.”
The Syrian Church belongs to the group of Monophysite Churches, all of which confess the Monophysite heresy (one nature in Christ). This group includes six Churches: the Coptic, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Armenian, Syrian, and the Malankara Syrian Church (India) [2c-a; 2d-1 to 2d-3; 2h].
All these Churches are in full communion with each other, are full members of the World Council of Churches and known under various names such as the Oriental Churches, or the Non-Chalcedonian Churches [2d-1 to 2d-3]. Even the word Orthodox is officially, but incorrect used, in order to give them the appearance of Orthodoxy. The right word to use, and which the Holy Fathers and learned theologians normally used, is simply Monophysite, or Non-Chalcedonian, because of their belief in the one nature of Christ and rejection of the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon 451. Those are the terms I will use, unless I quote from a text using another term.
Regarding union with the Monophysites the Athonite fathers said in 1994:”If we understand the [issue] correctly, a union is imminent. A union that the Patriarch of Antioch has already realized in part.” [7b, parag.3].
Obviously, the Antiochian Church is already in practice engaging in such a union. Another reliable source affirms this. In 2004, an Inter- Orthodox Theological Conference was held in Thessaloniki, Greece. Sixty respected speakers, including Hierarchs from various Orthodox Churches, analyzed every aspect of Ecumenism before a packed audience of the abbots of holy monasteries, clergy, monks, and laity, among whom were many theologians and professors from theological schools. Referring to the above- mentioned Joint Declaration of 1991 between the Syrian Church and the Antiochian Orthodox Church, the conference states: “Among the most grievous errors [is] the sacramental intercommunion with the Monophysites accepted by the Patriarchate of Antioch …..” [7h,“A.Findings”, pt. 5].
Further, it states that “The issue of sacramental inter-communion of the Patriarchate of Antioch with the Monophysites [Syrian Jacobites] to be investigated…” [7h, B. Proposals, pt. 5].
An open letter from a member of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, addressed to its Patriarch Ignatius IV in the year 2009, directly indicates that the Antiochian Church also is known to commune non-Orthodox believers [2i-b] (emphasis mine): “Since the Archdiocese of North America restricts Sacraments only to Orthodox Christians and the Patriarchate permits Sacraments for all Christians regardless of their church membership, will the Patriarchate seek to regularize the Archdiocese of North America by instructing us to give Sacraments to Non-Orthodox?” [2i-b, point 5].
Another letter, this time from an Antiochian priest in America, tells us about the communion of Muslims [2i-a, third-last parag.]. Even though these letters are not official statements, their appearance on the web-site
Orthodox Christians for Accountability and their way of sober writing, justify one’s belief in the truth of these statements, showing that communion of non-Orthodox, approved directly or indirectly by the Antiochian Synod, actually is in practice in the Antiochian Church.
Like practically all the Local Churches of World Orthodoxy, the Antiochian Church is an active member of the WCC, which by the above- mentioned Conference in Thessaloniki is characterized as a “World Council of heresies and schisms.” [7h,“A. Findings”, pt. 1, parag. 1].
Besides participating in dialogues with other Monophysite Churches for a complete union through the Joint Commissions, the Antiochian Church is also following the New Calendar, a serious innovation which Orthodox believers have willingly died in order to avoid.
The Anthiochian Orthodox Church and the Melkite (Roman Catholic) Church.
“The [Roman Catholic] Melkite Holy Synod has stated that, in the event of a reconciliation between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, the Melkite Church should be reintegrated into the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch. A bilateral commission for dialogue between the Melkites and Antiochian Orthodox was established in 1995, and both sides have expressed the firm intention to heal the schism of 1724” [2c-d].
In 1996, the Melkite Church agreed on further rapprochement with the Antiochian Church while at the same time affirming its faithfulness to the Catholic Church. In a press release issued by the Melkite Church, we read that “Emphasis is placed on church unity [with the Antiochian Orthodox Church] as it existed in the first millennium when East and West were one. The document quotes Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint – That All May Be One: The Catholic Church desires nothing less than full communion between East and West.” [2e, parag. 2].
“The [Melkite] Synod strongly affirms its full communion with the Apostolic See of Rome and that this communion would not be ruptured.” [2e, parag.3 and 4].
In 2005 we see an example of how the rapprochement between the two Churches was progressing, when an inauguration of the Church of Ss. Peter and Paul was held. On the official web-site of the Antiochian Orthodox Church we read that “The event took place during the Vesper Prayer
presided over by Their Beatitudes Ignatius IV, Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and Gregorius III, Melkite Catholic Patriarch, where they prayed together and fulfilled the ceremonial inauguration of the new Church of St. Peter and St Paul, erected in Dumar Habitat Project… An enthusiastic crowd attended in which participated religious, political and diplomatic figures and a large number of clergy from both communities” [2f, parag. 1].
The Syrian (Oriental) Church and Union with the Roman Catholic Church.
In July 1984 “The Catholic-Syriac Orthodox Statement” was signed. Here we read (emphasis mine):
“The confusions and schisms that arose between our churches… arose only because of differences in terminology and culture…” [2j, pt. 3].
“It is not rare, in fact, for our faithful to find access to a priest of their own church materially or morally impossible…We therefore authorize them in such cases to ask for the sacraments of penance, the eucharist… from lawful priests of either of our two sister churches…While doing this we do not forget that we must still do all in our power to achieve the full visible communion between the Catholic Church and Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch…”[2j, pt. 9, see also 7g; p.7-8].
In 1994 an“Agreement on Interchurch Marriage” between the Malankara Syrian (Monophysite) Church and the Roman Catholic Church was signed [2c-b, “Relationships with the Roman Catholic Church; 2g, last parag.]. The agreement states that:
“The bride and groom [as well as] the wider family…are allowed to receive communion together, whether the wedding Eucharist takes place in a Catholic church or in a Malankara Syrian Orthodox church…The couples are also allowed to participate jointly in the Eucharistic celebration on special occasions when this joint celebration is socially required [as well as the] wider family.” [2g, second-last parag, under“Pastoral Guidelines”].
The Syrian Monophysite Church concelebrates also with the Catholic and Protestant Churches. An example of this was seen in March 2007, when Archbishop Mar Athanasius, Patriarchal Vicar of the Syrian Monophysite Church in Great Britain participated in an ecumenical vespers together with
Greek, Catholic and Protestant hierarchs. [5a-1; 5a-2 with photographs]. As is seen, the concelebration took place at the highest ecclesiastical level.
Thus, according to the official documents, the Antiochian Orthodox Church is in full communion with the Syriac Monophysite Church and prays and serves officially with the Catholic (Melkite) Church. The Syriac Oriental Church on its part is in full communion with the Malankara Syriac Oriental Church (both having the same Patriarch) which is in partial communion with the Roman Catholic Church (Interchurch marriage).
The Dialogues between Orthodox and Monophysite Churches.
In the work toward full communion between the Orthodox and the Monophysite Churches, Agreed Statements have been worked out by the Joint Commissions of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The First (1989) and Second (1990) Agreements led finally to an official Statement in 1993 as a Proposal for lifting the mutual Anathemas between the Orthodox and the Non-Chalcedonian Churches. According to this Proposal “The lifting of the anathemas should imply the restoration of full communion between the two families” [4a, point 3].
The members of the Joint Commissions consist of practically all of the Orthodox and Monophysite Churches [4b, parag. 3], and the purpose – as emphasized by Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland (Ecumenical Patriarchate)“is to restore full ecclesiastical communion between the Orthodox Church and the Monophysite Churches of Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Armenia and Malabar (India).”[7j, parag.2].
The holy Athonite fathers have therefore been writing apologetic papers, since, as they state: “The consciousness of the Orthodox Church recognizes that infallibility and authority in the Holy Spirit is in the Ecumenical Councils,… [and therefore] the decision of the Joint Commission concerning the possibility of lifting an anathema placed by an Ecumenical Council… is an unacceptable decision, alien to the sound mind of the Church…” [7a, pts. II and III; 7b, pt. 6c].
Even the sober and traditional Fathers in World Orthodoxy now begin to lose patience. In the Kelliotes Letter from Athonite monks to the sacred Twenty Athonite Monasteries, 2006 we read: “Besides recognition of the baptism of the followers of the Pope and of the Lutherans, we also have participation in the chalice with Monophysites, and in many cases with
papists in the Cyclades and in the Diaspora.” (Cyclades is a group of Greek islands in the South Aegean) [7i, parag. 5, four last lines].
Here is a rather strong statement from people who, we must believe, would and should know if intercommunion between the Greek Church and non-Orthodox would already be quite a common practice. And so, these holy Fathers, together with learned theologians warn us of a false union with the Monophysites, since their claim to have accepted the same Christological view as the Orthodox on Christ’s two natures is not sincere. They believe that the new wording of the Joint Commissions, even though at first sight Orthodox, perhaps is just disguised Monophysitism [7b, pt. 3, parag. 4, and pt. 4, parag. 1]. Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis, professor at the University of Thessaloniki, affirms this quite clearly, saying that (emphasis mine):
” In their texts [of St. Maximos the Confessor, St. John of Damascus and St. Photios the Great] one sees the same concessions and modifications on the part of the Non-Chalcedonians as are seen today, but which are judged by the Fathers to be insincere and a simple camouflage for Monophysitism, insofar as they do not lead to an explicit confession and enumeration of the two natures in Christ in the one person after the union, and consequently do not lead to the recognition of the fourth Ecumenical Council.” [7c, part two:“2. St.John of Damascus and the Non- Chalcedonians”, parag. 1, the end].
What the Monophysites themselves say.
The fear of a disguised Monophysitism seems to be justified, when listening to what the Monophysite Churches themselves have to say on this topic. Thus, the Coptic Patriarch Shenouda III in 1994, said that “As regards the Ecumenical Synods, we accept the first three…We deny the Synod of Chalcedon…I can say completely openly, that all the Oriental Churches cannot accept the Synod of Chalcedon…” [7b, pt. 8, parag.3].
The Doctrine of the Syrian Church likewise affirms that the confession of faith by the Monophysites does “not lead to an explicit confession and enumeration of the two natures of Christ…,” which shows how far they actually are from recognizing the Orthodox teaching on the two natures of Christ. In the Doctrine one reads: “The Syrian Church believes in one composite person of the Lord Jesus, and one composite nature that consist of two natures: divine and human…In other words, the two natures are united into one nature with no mixing, no blending…” [2c-c].
It becomes even more evident what they believe, when we read: 9
“Therefore, it is wrong, and a departure from the universal Christian faith to say that: Christ was crucified in flesh.” It must rather be said: “God the incarnate the Lord of Glory was crucified; however, we do say “He suffered and died in flesh”…To this faith adhered the Antiochian Syrians and the Alexandrian Copts, who rejected the council of Chalcedon…” [2c- c].
The Syrian Monophysite Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I further claims, that “There are no insoluble problems of doctrine between us concerning the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. We (Oriental Orthodox) affirm that our Lord Jesus Christ is perfect God and perfect man, and that he is one Person and one nature. You (Orthodox) also maintain the same faith by affirming that he is “in two natures.” Whereas we emphasize the union of natures, you insist on their distinctness.” [4c, p.83-84].
We can conclude, therefore, that the Non-Chalcadonian Churches are still not willing to accept all of the 7 Ecumenical Councils, with the result, that the Joint Commissions are now working to find a solution to this dilemma.
The Monophysites must be baptized into the Church.
In their eagerness for union with the Monophysites the Orthodox ecumenists forget one basic rule. Should the Monophysites actually come to an Orthodox belief, then that does not mean that they automatically can be considered Orthodox Christians. In order to be considered Orthodox, one must not only accept the Orthodox Faith as handed down to us through the Seven Ecumenical Councils, but also reject completely one`s former heresy together with everything else the Orthodox Church has rejected and anathematized. If these two conditions are not fulfilled, one will not be in the Church of Christ. A s The Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism (2009) states:
“The only way that our communion with heretics can be restored is if they renounce their delusion and repent…”[pt.4, first line].
“We accept everything that [the Synods and the Fathers] accept and condemn everything that they condemn; “Anyone – says Saint Ignatius of Antioch – who says contrary to what has been decreed – even if he is trustworthy, even if he fasts, even if he lives in virginity, even if he performs signs and prophesies, let him appear to you as a wolf in a sheep’s hide, aspiring to the corruption of the sheep.” [point 1].
As the article Copts and Orthodoxy (SiR) rightly points out, should the Monophysites actually agree completely to the Orthodox faith, then they ought to be received back into the Church as non-Orthodox, through either chrismation or baptism and not just by believing in the Orthodox creed or through some “official statements” [7d, parag. 1]. The Confession of Faith (2009) states that “For the incorporation of heretics into the Church, canonical precision (akriveia) requires that they be accepted through Baptism.” [pt.4, 1. parag.]. Therefore, until such a thing should occur, that being an Orthodox baptism, they must be considered heretics and outside of the Church.
The Consequences of Union with the Monophysites.
His Eminence Photios, Bishop of Triaditza (Old Calendar Church in Bulgaria) and a learned scholar as well makes it very clear what the actual consequences will be of a union with the Monophysites. Referring directly to communion with Monophysite Churches, he says (emphasis mine): “The consequences of such a false union are all too obvious. All of those who accept the Declaration, or who enter into communion with clergymen who have accepted it, can no longer be considered members of the Orthodox Church.” [7e, parag. 7, line 8].
The Conference of 2004, Thessaloniki, earlier mentioned, states very clearly and strictly what should be done with clergy who commune with Monophysite Churches. Referring directly to the intercommunion between the Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria with Monophysites we read the following: (emphasis mine): “Let the canonical principle be enforced in this case which says: “he who communes with the excommunicated is likewise excommunicated.” [7h, B. Proposals, pt. 5, line 3].
Further, the Conference suggests what the faithful should do in regard to church leaders’ inter-communion with heretics (emphasis mine): “Let it be made manifest to church leaders everywhere that, in the event that they continue to participate in, and lend support to, the pan-heresy of Ecumenism – both inter-christian and inter-religious – the obligatory salvific, canonical and patristic course for the faithful, clergy and laity, is excommunication: in other words, ceasing to commemorate bishops, who are co-responsible for, and co-communicants with, heresy and delusion. This is not a recourse to schism but rather to a God-pleasing confession, just as the ancient Fathers, and bishop-confessors in our own day have done…”[pt. 8].
These very strong statements question highly, therefore, the validity of ROCOR/MP’s (and the Moscow Patriarchate`s) communion/communing with those, who are in full communion with heretics. Since, in doing so, is ROCOR/MP (and the Moscow Patriarchate) not also “co-responsible for, and co-communicants with heresy and delusion?”
Why Communion with Heretics is impossible.
In regard to w h y it is impossible to have inter-communion with heretics, the same answer is in general given by all traditional Orthodox fathers of today.
Bishop Photios (SiR) says (emphasis mine): “The objections that can be made with regard to this statement (“Of what importance to me is it if a Priest or Bishop is an ecumenist?”, “I go to Church simply as an Orthodox Christian – ecumenism is of no concern to me”) seem to us misplaced, in this instance. For ecclesiastical communion, sacramental communion, and, above all, the mystery of Holy Communion presuppose that all who participate therein have the same ideas, the same faith.”[7e, middle of parag.7].
The Athonite Fathers Maximos and Basil in their Memorandum Appeal from 1992, are in total accord with these statements (It should be noted here, that Fr. Maximos had been living on Mt. Athos for the span of 55 years, when he wrote this Memorandum, which clearly gives much authority and weight to his words [7f, p.5; introduction, parag. 1] (emphasis mine): “The commemoration of the presiding Bishop (in this case, on Mt. Athos, the Patriarch) as well as ecclesiastical communion with him, can – and indeed ought – to take place only when there is a likeness of (correct) understanding in the faith between the one who commemorates and the one who is being commemorated; that is, when the Bishop who is commemorated does not err “in piety and righteousness” and is not worthy of being “fenced off” o r “walled off” by the pleroma “in resistance to innovation” according to the canon law of the Church…(First-and-Second Synod, Canon 15)”. [7f, p.12, top].
These words Bishop Photius explains further in total accordance with the traditional Orthodox teaching, saying (emphasis mine):
“It is well known, that the unity of the Orthodox Church is, above all, unity in the Orthodox faith…The members of this Body are all of those faithful having the same Orthodox faith in the Holy Trinity…, and who are baptized with an Orthodox Baptism…” [7e, parag.2].
The Bishop concludes, quoting Saint Maximos the Confessor: “Thus, the proof of Orthodox unity is, above all, “the correct and saving confession of the faith.” [7e, parag.5].
Only such a unity of faith, adds Fr. Theodore Zisis, is capable of truly uniting all people and leading them to peace and salvation: “There is good and bad concord and peace; bad are the concord and peace that overlook the differences in faith, because only “the unity of faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit,”, for which the Church prays daily, can establish and guarantee deep and imperturbable peace, since they are based on spiritual and sacramental unity.” [7c, parag.3].
Father Steven Allen (The Genuine Greek Orthodox Church (GOC), Chrysostomos II) summaries what have been said here: “The unity of the Church is based on our confession of faith and union in the Holy Mysteries.” [16v, part 1].
For this very reason the Orthodox Church reads the Symbol of Faith at liturgy right before the Mystery of the consecration is about to take place, followed by Holy Communion. Similarly, at liturgy, the priest says the following words:“Having asked for the unity of the faith….” Thus, emphasizing the necessity of unity in faith, the Orthodox Church does not allow any priests to participate in or approach this Mystery, if they are not Orthodox or officially have accepted another faith than the Orthodox.
Archbishop Averky of Jordanville affirms this stand of a clear Orthodox confession:“We cannot fraternize with the fierce enemies of our Orthodox Christian faith, as our enemies are doing, since we consider this a betrayal of Orthodoxy and a crossing over to the side of its enemies…We can also not partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ together with the heretics, who are distorting the dogmas of the Christian Faith, or with the modernists [Orthodox ecumenists, my note] who are overthrowing the spirit of our faith and piety handed down to us from our holy Fathers.” [17s, p. 525, parag. 4,].
Further he says (emphasis mine): “It is not we who are breaking off with the Universal Church, but they who are breaking off relations with us. The Universal Church consists not only of those living on earth but also of those Saints who have pleased God and been glorified in Heaven, having left us to preserve Holy Orthodoxy, unaltered and without deviating from Her, even if we have to suffer a martyr’s death for that…”
“Because of the continuous relationship with this triumphant Church in Heaven, our conscience does not allow us to walk on the same path as those who apostatize from Her…” [17s, p. 525, parag. 5].
Because of this clear and true ecclesiastical standpoint, the holy Fathers of the true Esphigmenou monastery (GOC, Chrysostomos II – not to confuse with thefalse new Esphigmenou brotherhood, unrighteously established by the Ecumenical Patriarch, and, sad to say, with the help of some Athonite Fathers), and other Greek Old Calendar Churches rightly do not commemorate the heretical Patriarch Bartholomew (as we ourselves also did not do in the Skete of Holy Prophet Elias, before we were expelled by the Patriarch and the official Athonite authorities) since he clearly has a faith different from the Orthodox.
The non-commemorative principle of this standpoint was very clearly approved of in the Conference of 2004 and is, as mentioned above “…not a recourse to schism but rather to a God-pleasing confession, just as the ancient Fathers, and bishop-confessors in our own day have done” [7h, “B. Proposals”, pt. 8].
And two years later, in 2006, the holy Fathers of Mount Athos actually agreed to do so. In their so-called Kelliotes Letter, written as a response to the escalation of the ecumenical endeavors, we thus read:
“We believe that after so many written and oral protests and objections, back-peddling [i.e., going back on one’s word –trans.], retreats and compromises, the only thing that will gladden the Orthodox and shame the kakodox is to cease commemoration of the patriarch and of all the bishops agreeing with him or remaining in silence.” [7i, third-last parag.].
Unfortunately, the Athonite Fathers, to my knowledge, did not fully carry out these their own words. But their words clearly speak for them of what we as Christians ought to do. Therefore, by openly concelebrating with Orthodox ecumenists, are we not also thereby “agreeing with [them] or remaining in silence”?
on Intercommunion with Monophysites.
To help us understand how important it is to avoid any contact (on an ecclesiastical level) with the Monophysite Churches (and thus, obviously, also with those who are in communion with them, as Bishop Photios clearly says), I have enclosed two letters of our late Metropolitan Philaret (ROCOR) to Archbishop Averky of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville. The latter in 1970, by a mistake, which he later regretted, blessed some Coptic (Monophysite) clergymen to serve in the lower church of St. Job here in our
Holy Trinity monastery . The letters clearly show us how far today we have moved away from the true Orthodox understanding of the dangers of the Monophysite heresy together with other heresies.
In his letter he ordered the church to be sprinkled with holy water, and prayers appointed to be read in a church that has been desecrated by heretics to be read, and that any services in the church immediately had to be discontinued until the above-mentioned directive had been carried out. Further he refers to the words of St. John of Shanghai (briefly presented here): ‘During the Second World War a man from Yugoslavia could not find any Orthodox church to attend, so for three years, he attended a Coptic Church. When the man told Vladyka John about this, Vladyka exclaimed What? You went to a Coptic Church? Intimidated (so he says) by the strict tone of His Eminence`s voice, the man replied, that he had only attended the vigils, not the liturgies. But Vladyka John ordered the man immediately to repent and confess next time, that he had attended a heretical service’.
Seeing such strictness, even when just attending a Monophysite Vigil, can one then justify serving the very liturgy with clergy who themselves are in full communion with Monophysites? Again, I do not speak only from a strict canonical view, but also from a more pastoral and principled point of view.
The Sigillion of 1583 by the Eastern Patriarchs.
In the Sigillion issued in 1583 by the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria and Jerusalem, we read the following:
“Whosoever does not follow the customs of the Church which the Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils have decreed, and the Holy Pascha and calendar which they enacted well for us to follow, but wants to follow the newly-invented Paschalion and the New Calendar of the atheist astronomers of the Pope; and, opposing them, wishes to overthrow and destroy the doctrines and customs of the Church which we have inherited from our Fathers, let any such have the anathema and let him be outside of the Church and the Assembly of the Faithful.” [16h, p.284, pt. VII].
An Armenian Chrism 2008.
In September 2008 [5e] Patriarch Bartholomew and Metropolitan Valentine of Orenburg (Moscow Patriarchate) attended the blessing of Chrism by the Armenian Monophysite Church. Participants from Monophysite, Catholic and Protestant churches were also present. Later, a
memorial service for the victims of the Armenian Genocide was held. During the service the participants offered joint prayers in their own languages for the victims. Even though the Orthodox participants did not directly participate in the service (the blessing of Chrism), they still attended. Is such participation in accordance with traditional Orthodox teaching?
The Question arises.
I believe there is enough reason to say, that not only His Eminence Damascene, Metropolitan of Sao-Paulo, with whom Metropolitan Hilarion (ROCOR/MP) served, but also the Antiochian Orthodox Church as a whole, do not have the “correct and saving confession of the faith.” We are not speaking of a person’s individual communion with heretics, but the official apostasy of a whole local Orthodox Church. And so, unity of faith between our hierarchs and His Eminence Damascene can simply not have been present at the service. This concelebration is therefore to be regretted, and one can fear that ROCOR/MP slowly begin to fall away from the Apostolic faith and the Orthodox Church.
From the voice of holy tradition we read: “Once, a monk called Theophan came to see the great elder Kyriakos. He tells the elder that in his country he is in contact with Nestorians. The elder says: “It is impossible to be saved without the right belief, but I have hope that God in His mercy will reveal the Truth to you.” And indeed the next day the monk sees someone, strange in appearance, who says to him, ‘come and find out the truth.’ And taking him he leads him to a gloomy, stinking place emitting flames and shows him Nestorius and Theodore (of Mopsuestia), Eutyches and Apollonarius, Evagrius and Didymus, Dioscorus and Severus, Arius and Origen, and others. And pointing at them he says to the monk, ‘That is the place prepared for heretics and those who taught falsely about the Mother of God and those who follow their teachings.”[7j, The Spiritual Meadow of John Moschus, at the very end: “Once a monk called…”]
As can be seen, the earliest defenders of the Monophysite heresy – Euthyches, Dioscorus and Severus – all ended up in flames. This little story must compel any Orthodox believer to reflect deeply about where ROCOR/MP and World Orthodoxy are heading.
The Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Coptic Church.
A Pastoral Agreement between the Coptic (Monophysite) Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria was signed in 2001 [3a-1; 3a-2,]. It states, that since both Churches have already accepted the outcome of the official dialogue on Christology between the Orthodox and the Oriental Churches including the lifting of anathemas and restoration of full communion signed in Chambesy 1990 and 1993, it has been agreed to have mutual recognition of the sacrament of baptism and marriage. Further it states that “Each of the two Patriarchates shall also accept to perform all of its other sacraments to that new family of Mixed Christian Marriage.” [3a- 2, third-last parag.].
But, – it reads further, – since up until now we are still waiting for the responses of the Holy Synods of some other Churches in both families (the Orthodox and Monophysite Churches), the restoration of a full communion is not yet reached between the two sides. In this regard, the Conference in Greece 2004, earlier mentioned, states:“Among the most grievous errors…..are the partial recognition by the Patriarchate of Alexandria of the mysteries of the Monophysites and the proposals for a revision of liturgical texts and determination of a typikon for the concelebration of Orthodox and Monophysites.” [7h, A.Findings, pt. 5: “The Dialogue…”].
The Coptic Church is also one of the founders of the WWC and a member of The all African Council of Churches and plays an important role in the Christian movement in resolving the theological differences with the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Presbyterian, and Evangelical Churches [3b].
The article Union with Monophysites states also that the ecumenical activity and eagerness for common union among all Christian denominations is in fact more evident in the Non-Chalcedonian Churches than actually in World Orthodoxy [7g, parag. 4]. A newsletter has been added with photographs from a Syrian-Catholic Vespers 2007, with the participation of the Coptic Metropolitan Seraphim of Great Britain, together with Catholic and Anglican Bishops. [5a-1; 5a-2].
Dialogues in general between
the Monophysite Churches and the Catholic Church.
The rapprochement between the Monophysite Churches and the Catholic Church is still being extended. In January, 2009, in Rome (Italy) the 6th meeting was held of the international Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Non-Chalcedonian Churches and the Roman Catholic Church. A statement was signed, expressing the meeting to
be “a major breakthrough towards full communion.” [3c]. Further the news release announces that “The seventh meeting of the commission is scheduled for Jan. 25-29, 2010, in Antelias, Lebanon, where talks about full communion are to be continued.”
against Monophysitism and Ecumenism.
I present here a short list of articles and letters dealing with the topic of uniting with the Monophysite Churches and in general on ecumenism. They are very sober and give a good understanding of how the union with these Churches is being prepared without their repentance [7a-7j].
St. John of Damascus and the ‘orthodoxy’ of the non-chaldedonians
(1992) by protopresbyter Theodore Zisis, professor at the University of Thessaloniki [7c] leaves no room for such a union on the basis of the current dialogues, if we were to be faithful to Orthodoxy.
Orthodox Unity Today [7e] by His Grace Bishop Photios of the Old- calendar Church in Bulgaria, gives an excellent review of how World Orthodoxy actually is betraying not only their own faith but also their fellow brothers, who are struggling in the various Old Calendar Churches.
From the Holy Fathers of Mount Athos [7a, 7b] we are being presented two concerned papers, commenting on the Orthodox Church’s proposed lifting of the anathema against the heretical Monophysite Churches. They, together with the small, but very enlightening, article Copts and Orthodoxy [7d] on the same topic, speak for themselves.
Memorandum Appeal [7f] to the Abbots and Superiors of the Twenty Sacred Monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos, by two Athonite fathers Maximos and Basil, is a protest against the unrighteous expelling of the fathers of Skete Prophet Elias in 1992, and an appeal to all to take a firm and valiant stand in favor of the moderate Old-calendar movement and the traditional teaching against the apostasy of World Orthodoxy.
Conclusions of the Inter-Orthodox Theological Conference 2004, Thessaloniki, Greece [7h] takes a very traditional and strict stand against
ecumenism and recommends the faithful finally step away from the false Orthodox leaders if they should proceed in their apostasy.
The so-Called Kelliotes Letter to the Sacred Twenty Athonite Monasteries (2006) [7i] shows how some Athonite Fathers are losing patience with the ongoing hypocrisy from the Ecumenical Patriarchs and the silence from those who ought to step forward and expose falsehood. They therefore recommend cease commemorating their Patriarch.
Union with the monophysites. What comes next?[7g] Layman Michael Woerl (ROCOR) gives concrete evidence and information and looks on the more practical consequences of a union, which would be fatal, since many of the Monophysite Churches are even more ecumenical than we are and will only drag us further towards apostasy.
Commentary on the Recommendations of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Orthodox and Oriental Churches [7j] is a sober and traditional Orthodox critique of the heretical conclusions of this Commission, taken from the Orthodox Christian Information Center.
Four basic Principles of preparing a Union.
The Athonite Fathers point out two basic principles, when establishing a union between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Churches [7b, pt. 10a and 10b]:
1) “The recognition of the other heretical Church either as a “Sister” Church or as an equally honored “family,” while giving up the claim that the One, Holy and Apostolic Church is only our own Orthodox Church.”
2) “The acceleration for union by going around our differences which are either silenced or minimalized.”
One could here add two more principles, namely:
3) ’Dialogue of love towards peace among people and nations’.
4) ‘Contacts on a personal level’.
As will be seen these principles characterize precisely some of the more traditional ways in which unions between Orthodox and non-Orthodox are being carried out today. These dialogues have the exact same goal – to
eventually unite around a common Chalice. Some, as shown above, have more or less done so, and are paving the way for others. The question remains: Should ROCOR/MP also give its share in paving that road?
Non-membership of WCC –
no guarantee for traditional Orthodoxy.
It is important to note that even though a Church is not a member of the WCC, it does not necessarily mean that the ecumenical activity automatically becomes non-existing. This is clearly seen in the lively involvement of the Catholic Church in the ecumenical movement. One must study the real motives behind an eventual parting with this Council, and not prematurely and perhaps erroneously be led into thinking that just because one of the Orthodox Churches should decide to leave the WCC it therefore automatically has become a zealous opponent of the ecumenical movement. Only a total stop of any ecumenical activity can be considered a sincere and trustworthy sign toward a traditional Orthodox stand.
The Youth-Fellowship Syndesmos.
The Orthodox youth, world wide, also takes part in the ecumenical movement. One example of such activity is the organization called Syndesmos – the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth. It was founded in 1953 to encourage contacts among Orthodox youth movements in Western Europe, Greece and the Middle East. Syndesmos is in partnership with the WCC youth program, and has today grown into a federation of 121 youth movements and theological schools in 43 different countries around the world. [9a-1, 9a-2 and 9i].
A concern of Syndesmos has been the deepening and strengthening of ties between the Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox (Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian, Syrian, and Indian) Churches. Since 1992, Oriental Orthodox youth movements have joined Syndesmos as federated members, with their own vice-president [9a-1].
Syndesmos has regularly expressed its strong support for the union between the Orthodox and Monophysite Churches and recommended in a statement (1991) ”all Orthodox and Oriental Church youth movements to
prepare their members for the imminent communion of our Churches through information, common activities and close co-operation …like mutual retreats, exchanges between students and teachers of theology etc.” [9b, parag. 5, point 1 and 3].
In 2006, at the WCC 9th General Assembly in Brazil, its members spoke on Church unity, and delivered “a plea of the Orthodox youth to our pastors for a more consistent action on the issues of Church unity, revival of conciliarity and convocation of the long awaited pan-orthodox Council… the continuation of dialogue… and rapprochement of the Eastern and Oriental Churches.” [9d, third-last parag, 6.- last line].
The approach which they suggest, of joining together, is normal with most ecumenical unions; close co-operation on a personal level between the church members by either silencing discussion of differences between their faiths or minimalizing the differences that exist. Exactly the same suggestions were made in the Encyclical of 1920 [19e, parag. 8: pts. a-k], which paved the way for the new calendar in 1924. And it is also what Fr. Theodore Pulcini, (Antiochian Orthodox Church), suggests in his talk Practical Steps toward Unity. The suggestions are:
“Encounter weekends,” in which a non-Chalcedonian [Monophysite] parish would invite a neighboring Chalcedonian [Orthodox] parish, or vice versa, to spend the weekend” [20a, “Practical Implementation in the American Setting”, pt. 1].
”Episcopal Collaboration…As soon as Chalcedonians see their bishops alongside non-Chalcedonian bishops, and vice versa, working for a common cause, bonds of fraternity will be quick to form.”[pt. 2].
He further suggests what kind of approach seminaries in World Orthodoxy – among which we now also find Holy Trinity Seminary (ROCOR/MP) – should take, namely ”To make each other known in our seminaries and houses of theological study.” [pt. 3, line 7].
Having seen our First Hierarch serving with the Antiochian Orthodox Church, one can only hope that we some day will not also be seeing our bishops “alongside non-Chalcedonian bishops,” creating “bonds of fraternity” among us.
The ecumenical Youth-Event 2001 in Germany.
In 2001, as a direct result of the official dialogues, an encounter between Orthodox and Oriental youth of Europe took place in Germany.
Orthodox and Monophysite bishops, priests, monks and laymen were participating and the group stayed in a Coptic monastery. In the span of three days, beside social events, the group attended vespers and liturgy each day according to different rites – Syrian, Orthodox Byzantine or Coptic [9g- 2, parag. 4 and 8]. Three bishops attended, one each from the Syrian, Coptic and Orthodox Churches [9g-2, parag.2, first 6 lines].
From the Romanian Orthodox Church attended Metropolitan Seraphim of Western and Central Europe [9g-2, parag. 2].
This type of meeting of the Orthodox and Monophysite clergy and faithful in Germany was held for the first time in Europe. It was decided to have similar events in other European countries, since both the Orthodox and Oriental Churches have parishes all around Europe [second-last parag.].
The above-mentioned encounter gives a good picture of how traditionally a rapprochement between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Churches is being carried out, namely on the personal level, overlooking all differences in regard to the faith. Through such an interaction in practice, even the strongest walls are eventually being torn down.
Various Ecumenical Organizations and Orthodox Participation.
Beside the World Council of Churches (WCC) there exist also worldwide a multitude of other ecumenical movements. There are ACT, CCA, CEC, CTBI, NCC, CCT, CMEA, MECC, AACC just to mention some of the bigger organizations, which you again find associated with hundreds of other organizations, associations, conferences, bodies, alliances, committees.
I will here focus a little bit on some of the more unfamiliar organizations. That will be enough for us, since the very essence of these organizations is exactly the same as all of the other ecumenical movements, namely a striving for mutual acceptance among all Christian denominations regardless of ecclesiastical differences, engineered and powered by forces out to destroy or at least weaken Orthodoxy and finally pave the way for the coming Antichrist. That is what the ecumenical movement and one World Order is about, and that is what the various Orthodox Churches gladly and perhaps naively participate in.
MECC – Middle East Council of Churches.
“MECC is a fellowship of churches relating itself to the main stream of the modern ecumenical movement, the same which gave birth to the World Council of Churches and other regional ecumenical councils throughout the world.” [10b, first parag. and 10e].
Orthodox, Monophysite, Catholic and Protestant Churches participate. From the Orthodox participates the Churches ofJerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria and Cyprus [10a].
The four abovementioned principles of ‘family-sister-Churches,’ ‘minimalizing the differences,’ ‘dialogue of love towards peace’ and ‘contacts on a personal level’ are strikingly present in all the ecumenical movements. Thus we read in the MECC-documents:
“The Council chose to organize itself as a family of families – the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox, the Catholic and Protestant families.” [10b, parag. 4, 5 and last parag].
“MECC emphasized the necessity to activate the ecumenical partnership in the theological studies, prayers and services’ dialogue… towards the unity of the church and its witness in the Middle East and the World.”
“MECC emphasized the importance of the dialogue, cooperation and communication with all the Muslims in order to build a more peaceful and just world” [10c, parag. 4, 5 two last lines].
Naturally people should always strive for peace on earth. Yet, I will still argue against a peace which would involve a betrayal of the Orthodox faith. No kind of suffering should allow us to seek ecclesiastical unity with heretics. The millions of Russian (Catacomb) martyrs sacrificed on the Soviet altar (sanctioned by the Declaration of 1927 by making them into “political enemies”) is a strong witness to that. The spiritual fall of Metropolitan Sergius and the whole episcopate of the later Moscow Patriarchate, testifies likewise to the fact that betrayal of Orthodoxy for the sake of worldly “peace” or even administrative church-order is, has, and will always be a false and evil path, which can never ever be justified.
CCT – Christian Churches Together.
C C T – Christian Churches Together – officially established in America in 2006, stems back to 2001, when its history slowly began [11b, parag. 2]. The Orthodox Churches represented include theAntiochian Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church and the OCA [11a,].
The Monophysite churches are: the Syrian Oriental Church, the Coptic Church and the Armenian Church, together with the whole span of various protestant heretical denominations [11a].
The purpose and goal of this ecumenical organization is not only directed toward helping people in need (which, of course, is good and necessary), but also toward a mutual acceptance as sister Churches, regardless of ecclesiastical differences. Their Bylaws together with the Chicago Statement thus state the following three tasks:
1) to celebrate a common confession of faith in the Triune God. 2) to discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit through prayer and
3) Engaging in common prayer. [11b, parag. 6, 11c-1, pt. III and 11d-
This organization is thereby clearly not striving for the non-Orthodox members to join the Orthodox Church, but, on the contrary, to blot out in the minds of people the fact that the Orthodox Church is in fact the only true Church of Christ. Their many statements, as for example:
“We long for the broken body of Christ made whole, where unity can be celebrated in the midst of our diversity” [11d-1), parag. 2; 11e-1, parag.3],
“An awareness of the Holy Spirit`s work among us that will foster… our brokenness to be healed by God” [11c-1, parag.3],
together with their various meetings and joint prayers clearly testifies to the fact that this organization is heretical. They combine the social aspect with the theological, using the first as a framework from which to “have a common confession of faith” even though it is impossible for Orthodoxy to have a common confession with heretics [11d-1), parag. 2 and 3].
Phrases like the ‘five Christian families,’ ’guidance of the Holy Spirit,’ ‘unity, rooted in the Spirit’ etc. are met several times. [11b, parag. 1: 11c-2, parag. 1; 11c-1, pt. III; 11d-1, parag. 3; 11e].
The organization refers to its members as ‘Christian families’ of Churches: thus we see the following five families: Evangelical/Pentecostal Churches, Historic Protestant Churches, Historic African American Churches, Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. [11c-2, parag. 1].
Contrary to what the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church teach us, joint prayers between Orthodox and non-Orthodox clergy are being publicly performed. In their documents and general information we read:
– “We meet to pray, to listen….”
– “This common witness will be visible through engaging in
common prayer” [11d-1, parag. 1 and 3].
Several photographs (on their web-site), testify to this fact. One sees, for example, Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky (OCA) praying together with non-Orthodox. Other Orthodox Clergy are also seen. [11e-3].
NCC – National Council of Churches.
NCC – National Council of Churches is “the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the US. The NCC`s member faith groups – from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, Historic African American and Living Peace churches – include 45 million persons in more than 100.000 local congregations in communities across USA” [11f, parag.1].
Their statement of faith, with which the members agree, is as follows:
“These Christian Communions covenant with one another to manifest ever more fully the unity of the Church.”
“This general statement – the official web-site states – is accepted by all of the NCC`s member communions”. [11f, beginning]
The members of this ecumenical organization are, among others, the
Greek Orthodox Church, the OCA, the Russian Orthodox Church (MP), the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Four Monophysite Churches also participate [11g].
It is interesting in this aspect to read what an American Protestant Professor wrote about this organization in his book “The Unholy Alliance” (1975), which is a thorough analysis of the NCC from 1908 to the 1975. In
the review from the inside cover of the book we read: “The dream of uniting the Christian churches of America, and eventually the world, has turned into a nightmare of political intrigue and man-centered religion. The ecumenical movement in America grew out of 19th century roots and issued forth first in the Federal Council of Churches (FCC), then in the National Council of Churches…” [11h].
In characterizing NCC, Dr. Singer writes: “Like that of the Federal Council, the avowed objective of the National Council was to be the realization of the kingdom of God on earth through the proclamation of the social gospel. America must be made truly Christian, by which the ecumenical leadership meant it must become truly collectivistic and socialistic… Its message must be the social gospel in word and deed. But there should be no mention of sin and its punishment or of the redeeming work of Christ upon the Cross” [11h, p. 180, parag.2 and p. 187, parag. 4].
SCOBA – Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America is known for its strong support of the ecumenical movement. The chairman is His Eminence Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of America [12c]. The members are all the official Orthodox Churches in America:
the Greek Orthodox Church,
the Serbian Orthodox Church,
the Romanian Orthodox Church,
the Orthodox Church in America (OCA),
the Moscow Patriarchate,
the Antiochian Orthodox Church,
the American Carpatho Russian Orthodox Church, the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church,
the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and
the Albanian Orthodox Church.
The Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is currently not a member.
In their Pastoral Letter from 2000 we are given a good picture of what this organization represents [12a]. It is obviously written by concerned Christians who are worried by the general moral decline, etc. But it is also
expressing a strong support for the ecumenical movement and thus a strong deviation from all that ROCOR normally has considered as traditional Orthodox teaching. As is normal for the ecumenical organizations in their striving for a unity among Orthodox and non-Orthodox, the Biblical words that ‘we must love one another’ and ‘that we may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You..’ are frequently being used or, perhaps more correctly, misused [12a]. So quite naturally they state that “The Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement does not run counter to the nature and history of the Orthodox Church” [12a, pt. 117, quoting from the Third Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference].
Further we read, that “Mindful of this formal dialogue between the two families of Orthodox Churches [Orthodox and Monophysites] SCOBA has decided to establish a Joint Commission with representatives of the Oriental Churches in America.” [12a, pt. 121, first line).
SCOBA is also having dialogues with the Catholic Church and various Protestant Churches. All these dialogues go back to when SCOBA began in 1960 [12a, pt. 122]. In point 123 (second line) we read something quite characteristic for all these ecumenical organizations:
“In many places, Orthodox clergy and laypersons have come together with Roman Catholics and Protestants for theological reflection, Bible study, social witness and prayer for reconciliation. Such activities have done much to overcome old misunderstandings and prejudices among Christians”.
One wonders naturally what kind of “old misunderstandings and prejudices among Christians” are being spoken about here, other than the refusal of the non-Orthodox Christian Churches to repent and be united to the Orthodox Church. One naturally also wonders that Orthodox clergy with good conscience actually are participating in all of this.
The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation.
SCOBA together with The National Conference of Catholic Bishops has established the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation. Its purpose is to “examine divisive issues, and to make recommendations regarding ways to overcome them” [12b, top].
This appendix presents a whole list of ecumenical statements and documents. The goal of the heretical Balamand Document (which will be discussed later) is in one document (of 1994) said to “’create a serene atmosphere’ for renewed progress in dialogue ‘toward the reestablishment of full communion’” (between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches).” [12j, pt. 10, first line].
In another document of October 2000 we read how the formal lifting of the 1054 anathemas between the Orthodox and Catholics was received with joy: “We look back with joy on the dramatic events of the 1960`s that brought an end to the many centuries of hostility that kept us apart from one another. The meeting between Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI in Jerusalem in 1964 was followed by the formal lifting of the 1054 anathemas on December 7, 1965. Those excommunications were reversed, to be replaced by relationships of love – they were “erased from the memory of the Church” and “consigned to oblivion”…” [12f, parag. 2].
In referring to another document entitled, “Sharing the Ministry of Reconciliation,” also issued by the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, we read further:
“We recommend this document warmly to our faithful. We make our own its evaluation of the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue and the broader ecumenical movement as rooted in the very actions of God who “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” [12f, parag. 3: last five lines.].
In conclusion the Document of October 2000 states that“We encourage our Orthodox and Catholic faithful everywhere to engage one another in an exchange of views in a spirit of openness and humility so that the Spirit`s work of reconciliation might continue, for the glory of God.” [12f, second last parag., last three lines].
The very same Document also states – rather astonishingly from an Orthodox point of view – that there is an ”urgent need to present the true nature of ecumenical dialogue, not as a betrayal of anyone`s faith, but as an effort to understand what we truly have in common at a level deeper than our divisions and theological formulae.” [12f, parag. 4, last three lines].
Again, one asks the question of what is meant by “a level deeper than our divisions and theological formulae.”
We may find the answer given in the Agreed SCOBA-Statement The Filioque: a Church-Dividing Issue?, issued in 2003. The members of SCOBA (holding various theological degrees) recommend to the members
and bishops of their own Churches that “The Orthodox and Catholics [must] refrain from labeling as heretical the traditions of the other side on the subject of the procession of the Holy Spirit.” and
“That our Churches commit themselves to a new and earnest dialogue concerning the origin and person of the Holy Spirit….”
[12g, IV. Recommendations, parag. 2, 1. and 9. line].
In order to support such anti-Orthodox statements, the commission has introduced a new approach, completely unknown to the Orthodox Church. The above-mentioned Statement: “The Filioque…” thus states that “We recommend that all involved in such dialogue expressly recognize the limitations of our ability to make definitive assertions about the inner life of God.” [12g, “IV. Recommendations”, parag. 2, line 6].
The Holy Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils have, on the contrary, on the point of the Filioque question, quite definitively explained to us at leastoneaspect of the inner life of God, namely that theHoly Spirit proceeds from the Father and not from the Son (see John 15:26). The Confession of Faith (2009) clarifies this position saying that “On account of their [the Catholic`s] blasphemy against the Holy Spirit with their teaching of the Filioque, they forfeited the presence of the Holy Spirit and therefore everything of theirs is deprived of Grace [in the Sacraments]. Not one of their Mysteires (Sacraments) is valid, according to Saint Symeon…” [pt.2, last parag.].
The Holy Orthodox Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has handed this down to us and confirmed it in the sacred Ecumenical Councils. We do not, therefore, need any further dialogues to explain this question. The Statement then ends, saying that“We offer these recommendations in the conviction…that our traditions’ different ways of understanding the procession of the Holy Spirit need no longer divide us” [12g, last parag., first line].
Such statements are in complete violation of the traditional view on the Filoque question given to us by the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church. Nonetheless, the organization in 2006 “joyfully anticipates the coming visit of Pope Benedikt XVI and his meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew… We pray that this meeting will contribute to the unity of the Churches….” [12h, parag. 10 and last parag.].
OTSA – the Orthodox Theological Society in America.
Under the auspices of SCOBA we also see the so called OTSA – the Orthodox Theological Society in America [12d]. It was founded in 1966 as a means of bringing together the faculties of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and St. Vladimir`s Orthodox Theological Seminary (OCA). The Society welcomes as members not only Orthodox Christians but also Monophysite believers of higher learning [12i, parag. 2 and 3 ].
In 2001 a rather astonishing, but not surprising Resolution was issued. OTSA welcomes the Proposal produced by a WCC/MECC Consultation in 1997 “Towards a common Date for Easter” [12l].
“The Orthodox Theological Society in America has considered the proposal “Towards a Common Date for Easter” produced by a WCC/MECC consultation at Aleppo, Syria. We endorse this proposal on the basis that it reflects most faithfully the norms for calculating the date of Pascha as set out by the Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council” [12l, top].
This means, that the present Old Calendar date for Easter is to be replaced with either a fixed or a movable date common to both Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christian Churches. Such an unheard of proposal breaks all canonical rules. It stems from an ultra-ecumenical organization with the purpose of eventually having all the Orthodox Churches joining the Catholic and Protestant Churches in communion despite the grave differences in faith. Later I will show in more detail where such a proposal originated.
The Ecumenical Activities –
at the very highest ecclesiastical Level.
Joint prayers between the Greek Orthodox, the Catholic, the Monophysite and Protestant Churches are taking place on the very highest and official ecclesiastical level. I present here four such ecumenical events which took place in 2007 and 2009. It must be noted that all four events are with four different bishops (including other Greek clergy) each from their respective dioceses. Thus participated Archbishop Gregorios of Great Britian in a Vespers with hierarchs and clergy from the Syrian Monophysite, Coptic, Catholic and Anglican Churches at Westminster Cathedral (Anglican Church), (England), in March 2007 [5a-1; 5a-2, pp.3,4,5].
Metropolitan Methodios of Boston participated in another Vespers at the St. Spyridon Cathedral in Worcester (USA) March 2009 with hierarchs and clergy from the Catholic Church [5b].
Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver served Vespers with Bishop Edward Slattery from the Catholic Church in Holy Family Cathedral, Tulsa, Oklahoma (USA), January 2009 [5c].
Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta joined together with hierarchs from the Catholic Church at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta (USA) in an “Evening of Prayer and Unity” service, May 2009 [5d].
Beside these few ecumenical organizations, we also find organizations covering other places of the world like Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), Conference of European Churches (CEC), Action by Churches Together, WCC`s Iraq page, All African Council of Churches (AACC) and others.
Having looked upon today`s ongoing apostasy, of which we ourselves have now become a part, it is paramount that we take heed to the voice of the Church. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville says that “In our holy Faith there is nothing of little significance – everything in it, to the smallest detail, has its meaning, its significance, its value. For that reason nothing is to be neglected and we must make concessions and compromises in nothing. Every concession or compromise in questions of the Faith and Church decrees leads to a greater and greater shaking of the age-old foundations of our holy Orthodoxy, to a gradual falling away from it and to the passing into the camp of the servants of the coming Antichrist.”
“This last we must fear above all in our age filled with evil, deception and betrayal.” [16n, p.11, parag. 4].
The Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement.
Holy Trinity seminary of Jordanville became a member of the pan- Orthodox OISM – the Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement in 2007 [8a].
St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (OCA) and the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, founders of the ecumenical society OTSA (which accepts Monophysite believers into its society) are both members of this organization.
The other members are schools from the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto, the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Archdiocese, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada and also of the United States. All of the OISM-schools (except Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, Jordanville) are members of the afore-mentioned ecumenical youth organization Syndesmos, which has as its members Monophysite Theological schools as well [9i].
Since 1967 the St. Vladimir Seminary (OCA) has been affiliated with the nearby St. Nersess Armenian (Monophysite) Seminary [8b, parag 5]. In 2009 the St. Vladimir Seminary encouraged closer cooperation between the two Seminaries:
“We must also take our responsibility towards our Oriental Orthodox brethren seriously. Although communion does not now exist between us, our kinship is such that our schools are the most natural place for the education of their future leaders. For decades now, St. Vladimir’s Seminary has had a close relationship with St. Nersess’ Armenian Seminary…Can we pool our resources so that we can eventually form, together, a powerhouse of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox scholars that could provide an unparalleled educational consortium?” [8c, see A Comprehensive Plan: last parag.].
In yet another news-letter of St. Vladimir’s Seminary we read:
“Possible projects include [also] ways to serve our Oriental Orthodox brethren in a more intentional fashion, and perhaps even work towards a doctoral program, so that the Seminaries of St. Vladimir and St. Tikhon can take responsibility for the education of our future teachers. “The possibilities that open up when we begin to cooperate,” said Fr. John, “are truly inspiring and visionary.” [8d, see “A shared broader Vision”].
In October 2009, St. Vladimir’s Seminary also restarted close relationships with another non-Orthodox Seminary, the Anglican Nashotah House:
“Signing an historic ‘covenant’ between Nashotah House and St. Vladimir’s Seminary, traditional Anglican leaders and their counterparts in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) have pledged themselves to work towards unity.” [12q].
“Archbishop Robert Duncan [Anglican Church] stated that signing the inter-seminary covenant, committing Nashotah House and St. Vladimir’s seminaries to mutual prayer and fellowship, “lays the groundwork of … “serious dialogue” with the OCA and “the resumption of ecumenical discussion between two separated parts of the Church.” [12q].
St. Vladimir’s Seminary also participates in the Orthodox-Catholic Consultation, mentioned above and has members there from its faculty. The Seminary hosts, together with other faculties, the commissions and lectures from both organizations [12e, top; 12h, parag. 3, 7 and 8].
It should also be mentioned that several of the current bishops of the Antiochian Orthodox Church have graduated from St. Vladimir`s [8f] and the ties between the two Churches are naturally close.
One must likewise keep in mind the fact that the various ecumenical organizations are outreaching and seminarians participate in their activities. On January 8-11, 2008, forty-five seminarians (whether they were Orthodox or non-Orthodox has been difficult to find out) thus participated in the Second Annual Meeting of CCT [11e-2 for photos and text].
Seeing such ecumenical activity, one can understand what theological falsehood students are being taught at classes and in general in the OCA. One small example will be presented here.
Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, a retired and respected teacher of Dogmatics at the St. Vladimir’s Seminary is the author of the book The Winter Pascha.Here he states that the Mother of God, even though conceiving miraculously from the Holy Spirit, nevertheless gave birth to our Savior in a manner that all women do. This means, according to Father Thomas, but completely contrary to traditional Orthodox teaching, that Her womb was opened and the virginal seal broken. Thus we read (emphasis mine):
“…Joseph and Mary were considered to be poor, since they did not offer a lamb, but rather turtle doves…We learn as well that, …Mary did in fact come for purification as the law required. This means that her womb was opened and that the Christ Child was born from her in the manner in which all children are born. In this sense, although the Church insists that Mary remains forever a virgin, the only miracle in regard to the Lord`s birth is the virginal conception. There is no teaching of any other sort of a
miracle in regard to His birth; certainly no idea that He came forth from His mother without opening her womb. (pp. 174-5).
Nevertheless ROCOR/MP continues to support further close relationships with the seminaries of the OCA. At the 15th All-American Council of the OCA, 2008, a greeting from Metropolitan Hilarion was presented [12o]: “We look with joy at the positive fruits of our cooperation that have already appeared: the close collaboration of our Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary in Jordanville with both St. Vladimir’s and St. Tikhon’s Seminaries. There is much more that we can do together, including developing youth programs, Orthodox educational materials, liturgical resources, and active missionary work. We ask that the Lord send His blessings upon this august assembly, the XVth All-American Council, and pray that this Council will work with one heart and one mind toward the benefit of the Holy Church of Christ.” [12-o, last parag.].
ROCOR/MP likewise blesses its faithful to enroll at St. Vladimir’s, and graduates from there are welcomed as teachers in our Seminary (it must be noted here that this was practiced also before the union in 2007).
Having such contact with ecumenical Orthodox (and Monophysite), Churches one may fear that we some day will also go into communion and concelebration with these ecumenical Churches on a more regular basis than we now see. As a small example, seminarians from the OISM-organizations were in summer 2009 officially invited to Holy Trinity Monastery and took part in the yearly two-day OIMS-seminar. They sang with us in the choir and some OCA seminarians took communion.
One may say this is all exaggerated, but everything has a beginning, and it is normally on a very personal level. Deviation from the Church of Christ comes naturally when being brought up in an atmosphere of common prayers and worship with ecumenical Orthodox Churches. How can we expect young and naïve seminarians to discern falsehood from the truth, when they see their very own First Hierarch together with all of our other hierarchs, joyfully sharing the Holy Chalice with Orthodox Churches which on their part officially concelebrate with non-Orthodox Churches?
Toward full communion with the OCA.
In 2009 a commission of ROCOR/MP was established which deals with the issue of an ecclesiastical union with the OCA [17k]. At the same time His Eminence Jonah, First Hierarch of the OCA is calling for the unity of all the Orthodox Churches in America and blesses OCA to participate in such pan-heretical movements as the WCC, CCT, NCC and SCOBA not to mention the acceptance of the New Calendar, which – with great sadness – nobody finds offensive anymore.
As mentioned above, the OCA has recently restarted their relationship with the Anglican Church of North America. Metropolitan Jonah said in his talk, that “the goal of the dialogue is absolute unity with one another.”
[12q and 17u (audio recording of the conference): “The Future of Anglican and Orthodox Relations. Both Deans moderated and the speakers were Archbishop William Duncan and Metropolitan Jonah.”]
Hearing the talk by His Eminence Jonah, and reading the various news releases from the conference, there is no apparent sign that the unity spoken of is a unity in the Orthodox Church.
One must also not forget that OCA up to now has never expressed any regrets for its acceptance of the Moscow Patriarchate during the time of the Soviet Union. Archpriest Oleg Kirilov, Rector of Christ the Savior Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Toronto, Canada (OCA) said in regard to the union between ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate in 2007, “We are fulfilled with a great joy over this historical event; the same way as our Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America (former Russian American Metropolia) has gone more than 35 years ago.” [15, p.8].
That was back in 1970, when the Metropolia (later OCA) went into full communion with the Moscow Patriarchate, thus trampling on all the Russian martyrs, in their acknowledgement of and finding support in the Moscow Patriarchate, which at that time supported not only the Declaration of 1927 but also ecumenism.
One may also recall the “Reply to the “Sorrowful Epistle” of Metropolitan Philaret by Fr. Alexander Schmemann,” Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, issued in 1969 [12r]. In his reply he attacked the ROCOR quite strongly and accused it of being both a schismatic and uncanonical group. Alexander Schmemann is to this day considered one of the pillers of the OCA and a leading theologian.
Father Seraphim Rose warns us of the anti-Orthodox mentality of the OCA, saying, “A typical result of the anti-Orthodox mentality which St. Maximus combated may be seen in the newest attempt of the Russian Metropolia in America to destroy the confessing stand of the Russian Church Outside of Russia.”
“A chief obstacle to unity [between ROCOR and the OCA], lies, of course, in the “autocephaly” the OCA received in 1970 from the Moscow Patriarchate at the price of acknowledging to the world the complete “canonicity” and “Orthodoxy” of the Sergianist church organization.” [12p, p.244, parag. 2].
In various interviews, His Eminence Jonah likewise reminds us of the fact that the OCA received autocephaly from the Moscow Patriarchate, and therefore has all rights to exist as a true independent Church.
It is sad to see that the OCA rejects the ideals and morals of what the Orthodox Church has always considered to be basic Christian confession. So again, will it be a wise move to seek union with the Orthodox Church of America?
The Moscow Patriarchate.
Regarding union with the Monophysites, Agreements have been made, of which the most important is: The Second Common Statement and Proposals to the Churches (1990, Chambesy, Switzerland), which “stated, that the faith of the two families was essentially identical, while differing only in notions.” [16a, parag.2].
This statement led eventually to the establishment of a bilateral dialogue in 1999 with the Oriental Churches [16a, parag. 3].
Earlier that year, Patriarch Alexis II agreed to continue the dialogue with the Oriental Churches. He stated that in the course of these dialogues it should be important not to defend agreed documents or formulae, but rather to find agreement between the two Churches on the questions of faith [16a, parag. 5 (middle and end]. Then in 2001 Metropolitan Kirill (now Patriarch) stressed the importance of renewed theological dialogue [16a, parag. 6, 4. line].
Another small but yet fairly strong indication of the ecumenical path Patriarch Kirill is taking and the Moscow Patriarchate in general, is seen in the Patriarch’s recent expression of support for WCC efforts. In his congratulations to the newly elected general secretary of the WCC (2009) – Olav Tveit of the Church of Norway – one reads the following:
“Knowing you as an active participant in the dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Church of Norway, in which you have been responsible for foreign relations for the past few years, I hope for further good relations between us… I wish you God`s help in your new task of coordinating efforts by various denominations and communities to achieve mutual understanding and build up cooperation in Christian preaching to the modern world.”[16j].
The Patriarch also stated his stand for traditional Orthodoxy but still clearly expressed his warm support for the WCC (emphasis mine):
“Inter-Christian dialogue must be based on loyalty to the traditional interpretation of Gospel values and ideals…May I assure you of invariable support by the Russian Orthodox Church for efforts to that end by the World Council of Churches.” [16j].
“Gospel values and Ideas” – a rather vague expression which in fact says only little about faithfulness to the Orthodox Church. The support is even stronger expressed by His Eminence Hilarion Alfeyev:
“With all my heart I congratulate you with the new post as general secretary of the World Council of Churches. May God help you in the decisions of those tasks, with which your work will be connected to for the good of the dialogue and interactions of the Christian Churches. May the all-merciful God send upon you spiritual wisdom and strength in the affairs of strengthening the Christian testimony of love, peace and solidarity in the face of the multitude of modern challenges. I sincerely hope for a successful development of a fruitful collaboration between us.” [16k].
Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church.
In 2009, His Eminence Hilarion, Archbishop (now Metropolitan) of Volokolamsk and Head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, met Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, Italy [16i- c]. The meeting show that the Moscow Patriarchate and the Catholic Church, even though slowly, a r e moving toward mutual recognition as Sister- Churches and union around the Chalice.
The meeting gives two signals. One points in the direction that the Russian and Roman Catholic Church must come together in the struggle for Christian moral values, peace, and prosperity on earth. This is stressed as one of the major reasons for coming together. But, from reading the various documents and interviews it seems very likely that the actual goal is a striving for a common recognition as Sister-Churches and a future union around the chalice. I will let the participants of the meeting explain this themselves. The information is taken from the web-siteRocorunited (ROCOR/MP). First Archbishop Hilarion stresses the aspect of Christian values, even though the ecclesiastical aspect clearly shines through too:
“This meeting, Archbishop Alfeyev acknowledged, would represent a major step forward in relations between Catholics and Orthodox.”
“Only united will we [Orthodox and Catholics] be able to propose to the world the spiritual and moral values of the Christian faith; together we will be able to offer our Christian vision of the family, of procreation, of a human love made not only for pleasure; to affirm our concept of social justice, of a more equitable distribution of goods, of a commitment to safeguarding the environment, for the defense of human life and its dignity,” said the Orthodox prelate [16i-c].
This social and moral aspect functions as a platform for further relationships on an ecclesiastical level. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Unity said at the meeting that “We have spoken of the exchange of priests, of theologians and of all that which might help to improve relations and also to overcome the prejudices and resistance that exist in Russia against the Catholic Church and ecumenism; however, little by little, we can also overcome this.” [16i-c].
From an Orthodox point of view these words cannot be accepted. The Orthodox Church has for centuries held the Catholic Church to be a heretical and graceless Church. Similarly, a true Orthodox confession has always taught ecumenism to be a pan-heresy. So the word “overcome” is here completely against Orthodox teaching.” Nevertheless Archbishop Hilarion states almost the same, ”expressing his hope that the relationship between Catholics and Orthodox develops more intensely and that the problems that remain between the two traditions be soon overcome.”[16i-c].
The words “two traditions,” used about the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church are, from an Orthodox point of view, quite disturbing. One can justly fear that the “relationship” spoken of here is directed toward an ecclesiastical union. This becomes more evident when we read further:
“From the beginning, Hilarion expressed his high esteem for Pope Benedict XVI, who is much appreciated in the Russian Orthodox Church; later we spoke of our relations, especially the theological dialogue that will take place in Cyprus in the coming weeks,” the cardinal explained. [16i-c].
“Therefore, said Archbishop Hilarion, the time has come to move from a failure to meet and competition, to solidarity, mutual respect and esteem; I would even say, without a doubt, that we must move to mutual love,” he stressed. “Our Christian preaching can have effect, can be convincing also in our contemporary world, if we are able to live this mutual love between us, Christians.” [16i-c].
The Balamand Statement.
The acceptance of the so called “Balamand Statement” of 1993 has yet not been withdrawn by the Moscow Patriarchate including the other eight (out of fifteen) Local Orthodox Churches, which – together with the Catholics – endorsed this document [16g-a, p.28].
The most important aspect of this Agreement is that the sacraments of both the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are mutually and fully recognized
by this Statement. This makes them in reality ‘Sister Churches,’ in spite of the dogmatic differences that still exist and which do not permit their full canonical communion [16g-a, p.12 top].
Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis, professor at the University of Thessaloniki, earlier mentioned, makes the following comment: “This [Statement] makes the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox Church equal, insofar as the Balamand Statement considers both possessors of the true Apostolic Faith, of sacramental grace, and Apostolic succession. Orthodox theologians are denying that the Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church – because the statements made in the Agreement signify that the Orthodox Church, together with the Roman Catholic Church, constitute the One Church…” [16h, p. 234, last parag.].
Further Rapprochement with the Catholic Church.
The dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church has lately progressed towards a more friendly atmosphere, especially after the election of Patriarch Kirill. The plans for a meeting in the near future, between the Pope of Rome Benedict XVI and Patriarch Kirill is currently under preparation.
From the above-mentioned September meeting in the Vatican 2009 we read: “Personally, I [Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev] hope that sooner or later the meeting that many are awaiting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow will take place.” [16i-c].
“This meeting, Archbishop Alfeyev acknowledged, would represent a major step forward in relations between Catholics and Orthodox.”[16i-c].
One can with good reason, fear that a mutual recognition and communion between the Moscow Patriarchate (together with World Orthodoxy in general) and the Roman Catholic Church, is the actual goal. This becomes evident when hearing the Catholic Archbishop of Moscow, Paolo Pezzi, commenting on such a union. One must keep in mind that the article is taken from a Catholic source. Nevertheless, it does seem to reflect the actual state of affairs between the Orthodox and Catholic Church:
Is Catholic-Orthodox Unity in Sight?
The Archbishopi said that the miracle of reunification “is possible, indeed it has never been so close.”
Also on matters of doctrine, the two churches are essentially in agreement. “There remains the question of papal primacy,” Archbishop Pezzi acknowledged,… but to me, it doesn’t seem impossible to reach an agreement.”
Prospects for union with the Orthodox have increased markedly in recent years with the election of Pope Benedict XVI, whose work as a theologian is greatly admired in Orthodox circles.”
Relations have also been greatly helped by the election of Patriarch Kirill I earlier this year as leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is by far the largest of the national churches in the Orthodox Church.”
In this connection one must also mention the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation at Saint Paul’s College, Washington, DC in October 2009 (sponsored by SCOBA, as earlier mentioned). (emphasis mine).”Co-chairing the meeting were His Eminence, Metropolitan Maximos of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh, and Roman Catholic Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, who had been with His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in New Orleans the day before the Consultation opened. Consultation members finalized a joint response to the inter-national dialogue’s 2007 “Ravenna Document.”… The members also examined a first draft of a proposed agreed statement on conciliarity and authority, titled “Steps Towards a United Church: A Sketch of an Orthodox-Catholic Vision for the Future.” Still in its preliminary stages, the text will be revised and considered again at the next meeting of the dialogue, scheduled to take place at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, MA, June 1–3, 2010.” [12-n].
The Moscow Patriarchate`s Stand towards Ecumenism.
The Moscow Patriarchate has no intention of leaving the World Council of Churches. All hopes – if there may have been such – vanish completely when hearing the position of the Russian Patriarch Kirill. In the book Patriarch Kirill: his Life and Worldview (2009, Russian edition) we read that “At this moment Patriarch Kirill believes it is possible not only to continue our participation in the WCC, but, perhaps, even enforce it. As the Patriarch says: “The World Council of Churches is a good setting for both preaching and for defending the values and interests of Orthodoxy” [160-2, p. 440, parag.2].
If the Moscow Patriarchate decides to “isolate itself by withdrawing from the World Council of Churches” the Patriarch says, this will mean, that “the Russian Church is indifferent to the destiny of this world, created by God….” [160-2, p.440-441].
The Inter-Orthodox Theological Conference in 2004, mentioned above, states on the contrary that: “It is proposed that the remaining autocephalous churches also withdraw from the World Council of Churches and bring an end to these kinds of dialogues.” [7h, p.11, “B. Proposals, pt. 1].
This authoritative voice speaks on behalf of all traditional Orthodox Christians, both in World Orthodoxy and the Old Calendar Churches.
To this voice the Patriarch replies that “It is imperative that we properly reply to the schismatics and those who mock Orthodoxy, who use the ecumenical theme as a provocation for schisms and who try to weaken the influence which the Orthodox Church can have on society.” [160-2, p.437, parag. 2].
In general, the Patriarch believes that the Moscow Patriarchate has an obligation to be a witness to Orthodoxy to the world. The WCC and various other dialogues are instruments by which this can be done. Their participation, says the Patriarch, has always been faithful to the spirit of Orthodoxy and has never made any compromises [16o-2, pp.119-140 and 433-445, 437]. Should it happen that the WCC eventually turns into “a council of impious people,” then the Moscow Patriarchate, says Patriarch Kirill, will definitely leave [16o-2, p.441, parag. 1].
The Patriarch says that up to this time no one has been given a good reason for leaving the WCC or abandoning the ecumenical dialogues [16o-2, p.440, parag. 3]. But is this true? We know that many learned and most respected theologians and monastics, together with such Saints as St. Seraphim (Sobolev) and St. Justin (Popovitch), categorically rejected this involvement. The above-mentioned Conference in 2004 likewise rejected this participation as does the Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism (2009) which stated that ”We are now lodged in the “World Council of Churches” and have essentially betrayed – with our membership alone – our ecclesiastical self-awareness. We have removed the dogma regarding the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” [point 6].
One must also not forget the Anathema issued by ROCOR in 1983 against ecumenism. It seems, therefore, that it is not a lack of reasons which is the point here, but the fact that Patriarch Kirill does not find these reasons valid in his own eyes. Thus, the criterion for our participation is not based on the voice of the Church (even though the Patriarch affirms it to be so,
pg.437, parag.2), but on the personal opinion of the Patriarch and other likeminded hierarchs.
Such support for both Orthodoxy and the World Council of Churches is not reflecting the traditional stand of the Orthodox Church. In fact it only breaks down the firm foundation of Orthodoxy, with the result that the faithful get confused and lose zeal for their faith.
The Conference in 2004 states that ”These dialogues wear down and taint the Orthodox phronema [conscience] through intermingling and obfuscation [darkening, confusion], and as a result bring harm to the faithful, since without purity of dogma, even in lesser matters, no one can be saved.” [7h, p.12, B. Proposals, pt.9].
The Confession of Faith (2009) likewise states that our involvement in the Ecumenical Movement:
a) “actively impugns our Orthodox-Patristic Tradition and Faith;
b) is sowing doubt in the hearts of their flock and unsettle man, leading to division and schism, and
c) is luring a portion of the flock into delusion, and thus, to spiritual disaster.” [point 9]
The words, said by His Eminence Kirill, may seem to express a sincere and firm wish to be a witness of Orthodoxy to the world, without compromising the Faith, however, they are not in concord with what we actually see today – namely a slowly but steady approach towards ecclesiastical union between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians. The result is that such an approach is slowly breaking down Orthodoxy in the hearts of the faithful in a most subtle way.
Looking thus at the whole picture, one gets the strong feeling that we are being slowly deceived.
Some Articles on a laity ROCOR Web-site.
In connection with this process of a fairly slow and cautious but still steady rapprochement between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Catholic Church one could mention the Australian Russian Orthodox web-site “Rocorunited.” On June 30, 2009, one is presented with a Catholic article, including a large photograph of Pope Benedict XVI. In words of hope and joy the article speaks about the process towards full communion between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. The text also mentions the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul in Rome (2009) where joint prayers between the delegates
from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Catholics are being spoken of as a most natural and joyous event [16i-a].
Another article on this web-site, mentioning the future visit of Archbishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) to the Vatican, gives a quite similar picture. The source is again taken from a Catholic web-site” and states that “…this visit will confirm the ties of friendship between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, on the solid basis of mutual understanding and respect, with a view to closer collaboration and to favour the presence of the Church in the lives of the peoples of Europe and the world”. [16i-b].
Again, the article was presented without any critical comments. Rather it is the impression that a stand of support is taken. Later, Rocorunited clearly took the side supporting the dialogue between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Catholic Church. In presenting the results of the actual meeting, the editor begins by saying that “Whilst fringe “True Orthodox” groups take an expectedly paranoid and isolationist stance towards Catholics, the meeting between Archbishop Hilarion…and the Pope was a positive step in Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. Indeed, having diplomatic relations with the Vatican is an important part of a united Christian front against the decadence of modern society. The fact is that while we Orthodox will never recognize things like papal primacy, it does not mean that we cannot maintain good ties with the world’s largest Christian Church in promoting our common values. Ed.” [16i-c].
One should, of course, always try to maintain a normal and peaceful relationship with everybody, whenever possible. Nevertheless, can an Orthodox-Catholic dialogue be a positive step, when we know that such a dialogue is slowly leading to a union between the two Churches? Can the Orthodox faithful establish “ a [true] united Christian front,” when the Orthodox Church has never considered the Roman Catholics to be part of the one true Apostolic Church, not to say “the world`s largest Christian Church?” One must not forget that the decadence of modern society is a direct result of man`s apostasy from the Church of Christ. One can, therefore, question the importance of having diplomatic relations with a Church whose apostasy it is that helps increasing this decadence.
It is sad to see that the Old Calendar Movement is characterized as “fringe groups,” and ridiculed as “True Orthodox” (in parenthesis), as “paranoid” and an “isolationist stance. Is their fear of having even close and warm diplomatic relationships with the Catholic Church actually not
well justified, especially when seeing in which direction this relationship is clearly heading?
As a last example one sees on the web-site a small photo gallery showing His Eminence Patriarch Kirill of Moscow concelebrating with His Eminence Patriarch Bartholomew in the Phanar (Phanar – an area located in today`s Istanbul – earlier called Constantinople) [16i-d]. The event is presented as a joyous one, even though Patriarch Bartholomew is a heretic in the true sense of the word. From an Orthodox standpoint any close contact with this Prelate, not to mention concelebration with him, can considered to be only a very sad event.
Some may argue that it is unavoidable for Patriarch Kirill to serve with the Patriarch of Constantinople or other compromised hierarchs. Our concern though, as Orthodox believers, is to be faithful to Christ, and to show a firm and true stand in Orthodoxy. If we take this stand and avoid these concelebrations with heretics, then, on the contrary we will strengthen the Church.
Many Orthodox believers today seem to lack a proper understanding of what the Roman Catholic Church actually represents and what harm it actually has caused mankind. The spiritual and cultural damage which the Roman Catholic Church has caused the Orthodox Church and in general mankind throughout the last millennium exceeds many, many times that of the soviet period of only seventy years. The Confession of Faith (2009) states accordingly that “According to Saint Simeon of Thessaloniki, the Mystagogue, “Papism” caused more damage to the Church than all the heresies and schisms combined.” [pt.2, last parag.].
Many countries were enlightened by Orthodoxy long before Russia, but came under the influence of Rome. These now Catholic or Protestant countries have lost their Orthodox roots completely, due to Rome’s split from Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Their spiritual and cultural Orthodox heritage has been crushed once and for all and is now hardly alive in these countries. When trying to build up what has been lost, one is forced to start all over, with no spiritual literature, churches, monasteries, services etc.
But the most tragic part is in fact not the cultural aspect, but the fact that the people have lost their Orthodox Christian roots completely. While the soviet citizens, after only seventy years of communism, still feel their Orthodox roots, these former Orthodox countries do not have one single drop of Orthodox blood left in their veins. Truly understanding this aspect, one would be much less eager to unite with such a spiritually destructive force.
One can but fear that the faithful in ROCOR/MP are slowly but surely changing their course from traditional Orthodoxy towards the spirit of World Orthodoxy. To base such a fear on just a few articles can seem to be without any valid ground. It should be noted that the web-site has presented material critical of ecumenism [17t]. But still I view the above-mentioned four articles in the light of the general atmosphere of the web-site together with all of the other material presented in this letter concerning ROCOR/MP. From a total perspective, I believe the articles are not isolated, accidental, and insignificant incidents anymore, but are a small part of a slow but gradual process of apostasy – if not of Faith, then certainly of the true spirit of Orthodoxy.
Some other sad Events in the Moscow Patriarchate.
The defrocking of His Eminence, Bishop Diomid of Anadyr and Chukotsky was of a highly questionable character. Not only was it done in a clearly uncanonical manner, it lacked furthermore a truly valid canonical ground. The reason for the defrocking was that Bishop Diomid supposedly was provoking a schism in the Church. But the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate has themselves been the cause for several schisms in the Church by accepting both the path laid out by Metropolitan Sergius and ecumenism. What it really comes down to is that Bishop Diomid valiantly and honestly spoke up against serious problems in the Moscow Patriarchate. He was therefore removed. We in ROCOR/MP accepted and voted for his defrocking, which indicates that we have no serious intentions of standing up against the false path of the Moscow Patriarchate and World Orthodoxy.
The visit of Patriarch Alexis II to the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, could also be mentioned, which was a stumbling block to many Orthodox faithful [16d, please see videos of the visit too].
The Summit of the religious leaders in 2006 in Moscow can likewise not be accepted, claiming the gods of the various non-Christian religions to be the very same God and Creator which the Orthodox Church also worships [16c, parag. 3, 5, 7, 11].
The Moscow Patriarchate participates in the ecumenical organizations WCC, NCC, SCOBA, CEC as shown above. A small example is the official ecumenical prayer service in Zurich (2008) where Orthodox clergy participated including a Russian Orthodox priest of the Moscow Patriarchate, blessing the people with holy water [11e-5].
The persecution and harassment of believers both in the Moscow Patriarchate and in other Orthodox jurisdictions, which cannot accept the
current apostasy of the Moscow Patriarchate and World Orthodoxy is also disturbing to see.
“Christian Values and Ideas.”
Today World Orthodoxy calls all Christians to form a “united Front” in order to defend “Christian values and ideas” against the decadence of the world. In order to rightly understand history, one must understand it in the light of Orthodoxy. World history is a battle between God and the evil spirits. Man is gradually falling away from God, being slowly but thoroughly prepared for the coming of Antichrist. For this the evil spirits need something which, despite all differences, can function as a factor in uniting all people. This uniting factor is the wish for peace and human morals. Today we see how both immorality and religious controversies increase. It will reach a peak, until finally people on earth have had enough. At that moment Antichrist will come and promise to end all immorality, wars, hunger, religious disputes etc. with the result that people of all nations and religions momentarily will respond to his call.
In focusing on “Christian values,” we supposedly fight for Christ and His Church, but in fact the exact opposite is taking place. We replace faithfulness to Christ and His Church with “Christian values and ideals”, and believe that to be the main purpose of our lives as Orthodox Christians. Thus, the defense of human values and ideas, social work, building of Churches, monasteries, seminaries, conferences etc. has cunningly replaced that which is most essential – faithfulness to Christ. In replacing Truth and faithfulness to Christ with these vague human values, which are found in most religions, but which never will be able to lead a person to repentance and deification, we are in fact destroying the Church and leading people away from salvation. Morals, decent Christian behavior, social work etc. are only a result and can never be a cause. True defense of Christian values and ideas must therefore begin with faithfulness to the Church itself and not the other way around.
The defense of “Christian values,” as they are being presented today, are therefore only breaking down the firm Orthodox confession, and functioning as sweet bait for the preparation of all Christians and non- Christians to eventually unite together around one Chalice and one “Savior.”
Our Russian Mother Church.
Some believe the Moscow Patriarchate to be a true and organic part of our Russian Mother Church, others that it is a graceless and evil organization. I hold to the view which I understand ROCOR has always held, that the Moscow Patriarchate stems from a church-organization (administration) which uncanonically usurped the power of the official Russian Church. This organization freely united spiritually and practically with a satanic system and was consequently not considered to be a true part of the Mother Church, but only its current, false leader.
This chapter will look into ROCOR’s traditional understanding of the Russian Mother Church. Below are two official statements from ROCOR concerning the Russian Catacomb Church:
Resolution of the Sobor of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (Sept. 1/14, 1971).
“The free part of the Russian Church, which finds itself outside the boundaries of the USSR, is heart and soul with the confessors of the faith, whom the anti-religious guidebooks call “True Orthodox Christians,” and who in common usage are often called “the Catacomb Church” [17j, p.573, parag. 1, line one]
Decision of Bishops, Ausgust 12/25, 1981.
“As the free part of the Russian Church, we can fully approve only that part of the Church in Russia which is called the Catacomb Church and only with her can we have full communion.” [17j, p. 576, parag. 2, line one].
In regard to the Moscow Patriarchate, the position of ROCOR is, of course, much different. But despite an often severe stand, ROCOR did consider the Russian Church which the Moscow Patriarchate leads to be part of the Mother Church. Archbishop Vitaly (Maksimenko) testifies to this, saying that “Our native Russian Orthodox Church is, to our great sadness, enslaved by the ungodly communist powers. And the current heads of this Church [Patriarch Alexy I] serve these powers, not out of fear, but conscientiously…” [17c, p. 35, Klivlandskii Sobor, point 2).
ROCOR’s understanding of being faithful to their Mother Church meant that they would never try to become autocephalous and thus cut ties
with that historical Russian Church, to which they have always belonged. That Church was canonically headed by the Locum Tenens Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa and not Metropolitan Sergius, whose Synod later cut itself off from the Mother Church by uniting with a satanic system. From that moment, this Synod – later to be called the Moscow Patriarchate – could no longer be considered to be truly (an organic part of) the Russian Church. This is affirmed by Archbishop Vitaly (Maksimenko): He lays out three ways which in the 1930`s were being followed in America by the Russian faithful. One of them was within ROCOR itself (emphasis mine):
“While staying free from the current administration of the Moscow Patriarchate – but without separating from the Body of the Russian Church – to suffer with the yoked Mother Church and Her much-suffering People and preserve in all its fullness and strictness the Holy Orthodox Faith of our Fathers together with the whole order of the Church, being in union and subordination to the Council and Synod of the Russian Church Abroad.” [17c, p. 43, parag. 3].
Here is a clear distinction between the administration of the Moscow Patriarchate on one hand and the Body of the Russian Church – our yoked Mother Church – on the other. The Moscow Patriarchate was obviously not considered by ROCOR to be identical with the Mother Church.
Metropolitan Anastassy pointed likewise to such a position of ROCOR in regard to the Moscow Patriarchate in a reply to their appeal of returning to the Russian Mother Church (emphasis mine):
“Only a free and lawful All-Russian Council,…will be able to be an entirely competent judge between the bishops of the Russian Church abroad and the current head of the Russian Church.” («Православная жизнь». 1976. No 6). [17l, p.137, parag. 3, line 11].
The saintly Metropolitan Philaret, First Hierarch of ROCOR, confirms this position (emphasis mine):
“Our responsibility is not only to preserve our faith undamaged while in exile, but also to observe faithfulness to our persecuted Mother Church, despite the fact that we are unable to have any relationship with Its current official leadership, which has chosen the path of mixing light with darkness and a simultaneous service to both Christ and Belial.” [17n, parag. 1].
In a small pamphlet (Society of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk) named “The New Martyrs” is a small essay “To the children of the Russian Orthodox Church abiding in the Homeland and in the Dispersion.” It speaks on behalf
of thousands of Orthodox believers in the Soviet Union and shows us their common understanding towards the Catacomb Church and the Moscow Patriarchate. The editor of the pamphlet writes (emphasis mine):
“The following essay echoes the unspoken words of thousands of Orthodox Christians behind the iron Curtain whose voice has been forcibly silenced. Written by the editor of a new Samizdat [self-made] journal “Maria,” who was recently expelled to the West, it speaks of the importance of the Glorification of Russia`s New Martyrs and fully justifies the ROCOR in taking this action on the behalf of the entire Russian Church.” [16r].
”The entire Russian Church,” without mentioning the Moscow Patriarchate at all, is clearly understood to be the Russian Catacomb Church, the ROCOR and that part of the Russian people under the Moscow Patriarchate which never accepted the spirit of its false leaders, since it is well-known that the Moscow Patriarchate was strongly opposed to the canonization of the Royal Martyrs and always claimed that there were no martyrs in the Soviet Union. Such a position is affirmed further in the essay:
“The Russian Church in the Soviet Union cannot do this [canonize the Royal Martyrs] at the present time, being robbed of the possibility of expressing her opinion and acting in accordance with her convictions.” [16r].
Again, it was not ”in accordance with the convictions” of the Moscow Patriarchate to canonize the Royal Martyrs. Regarding the Catacomb Church we see a completely different attitude. (emphasis mine):
“Without breaking away from the Mother-Church, following her life with a watchful, loving, and devoted gaze, the part abroad rejoices in her triumphs and mourns her troubles and her trials. She knows and confesses that the life of the Church in the homeland, from 1917 and to this day, walks a grievous yet glorious path; the path of martyrdom and confession, of withdrawal into the catacombs of illegal existence, of war with militant godlessness and its enslavement of the shepherds of the Church.”[16r].
It is well-known, that it was not the Moscow Patriarchate which
“walked a grievous yet glorious path; the path of withdrawal into the catacombs of illegal existence….” In contrast to the Moscow Patriarchate, the Russian Catacomb Church is here directly called our Mother Church. There is not even the slightest hint of seeing Her as something else.
The pamphlet was a reprint from Orthodox America (1982), a well- respected Orthodox church-magazine, known to represent the traditional Orthodox stand of ROCOR.
It therefore indeed seems to be that ROCOR clearly distinguished between the current leadership of the Mother Church and the actual Mother Church itself and saw them as two wholly different bodies. It would therefore be completely wrong to consider the Moscow Patriarchate (an organic part of) our Mother Church, it having been spiritually, consciously and practically one with a satanic and wholly ungodly organism.
Therefore, I believe ROCOR/MP’s unconditional acceptance of the church-organization of the Moscow Patriarchate as a legal and truly organic part of our Mother Church cannot be justified and has only further increased the divisions and confusion of where the Truth is and is not.
The Declaration of 1927 and its Justification.
The Moscow Patriarchate up to this day still justifies the path, laid out by Metropolitan Sergius in 1927, despite all talks of the opposite. In December 2007, only six months after the union between ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate, the late Patriarch Alexis II spoke at the celebration of the restoration of the Patriarchate in Russia in 1917:
“We believe that the path, outlined by His Eminence Tikon and continued by his successors in the face of all the difficulties of the political realities of the 20th century, gave the Russian Church, in contrast to the alternative “withdrawal into the catacombs,” every opportunity to occupy Its place in society.”[16e, p.9. left column top].
“It was not an easy choice, facing His Eminence Tikhon and later his successor Metropolitan Sergius. It was a choice that would decide the very destiny of the Russian Church: either to go into the catacombs—breaking with the persecuting authorities—or to stand up against the regnant atheism, preserving the legitimacy of her hierarchy and dogmatic purity and, by the very fact of her visible presence, to witness that She is in the world the very Pillar and Ground of the Truth.” [16e, p.18, right column, middle].
“Metropolitan Sergius chose the latter in order to preserve the Church, acting thus according to Christ’s commandment: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
[16e, p.18, right column, bottom].
“Understanding the true essence of all the processes going on in Russia in the twenties, Metropolitan Sergius did not give in to the temptation of apocalyptic moods, so dominant among parts of the Russian clergy and laity.” [16e, p.18, right column, bottom to p.19, left column, top].
“[Later in history] both Patriarch Aleksy I and Patriarch Pimen entered the path of serving the Church, which, while still being persecuted and trampled under foot, nevertheless was preserved by a canonical unshakeableness and was cleansed from schism and inner quarrels.”
[16e, p.19, middle column, top].
President Putin confirmed yet more the unshakeable truth of the Declaration of 1927, saying:
“The Patriarchate helped the Russian Orthodox Church together with the people to endure the cruel trials of the 20th century. It helped to defend the faith, to unite the faithful, to preserve not only the treasures of the Church, but also the national treasures, and later, during the revival of church life, to continue Her tireless service.”[16e,p.16, left column, bott.].
As is seen, the path of Metropolitan Sergius is in reality considered to be the only God-pleasing path, in complete contrast to the path of the Catacomb Church and traditional Orthodox teaching.
Similar expressions we see in the book “The Keeper of the House of God. Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia Sergius Stragorodsky, 2003. The book was blessed by the late Patriarch Alexis II, and printed by Sretensky monastery in Moscow, currently one of the largest publishing houses of religious books in Russia. In the preface of the book, written (in Russian) by Patriarch Alexis II, we read that “Among the confessors of Christ we must definitely mention Saint Tikon and His Holiness Patriarch Sergius, who both spent time in confinement and suffered heavily from their persecuters” [16o-1, p. 4, parag. 1].
There is also seen an acceptance of both paths, that of Metropolitan Sergius and that of the Catacomb Church. Patriarch Kirill expresses such an approach, saying that “Some clergy felt it was necessary to compromise with the Soviet powers,…in order to simply be able to have church services so nobody would have to hide. Others decided to reject such a path and established the “Catacomb Church,” which was almost wiped out completely. We have no right to judge any of them. They all suffered from cruel persecutions.” [160-2, p. 376, parag. 2].
From a traditional Orthodox standpoint Metropolitan Sergius cannot be considered a confessor for Christ and equal to the saints. It is incorrect and against all traditional Orthodox belief to state that there exist two equal ways in which one could go in order to confess Christ – the way of Metropolitan Sergius or of the Catacomb Church. Such a stand is wholly un- Orthodox and contradicts the traditional understanding of the Orthodox Church as a Church built on the blood of Christ and His martyrs.
In the next paragraph Patriarch Alexis continues saying t h a t “One must mention the struggle of the first post-revolution patriarchs in their preservation and reconstruction of the Church’s unity. The renovation- church, supported by the godless, together with various uncanonical groups which did not submit to the new State system, became no less dangerous than the persecution itself. The firmness in the defense of the canonical structure resulted in the fact that most of the faithful did not abandon the Mother Church, while the majority of the schismatics came back to Her.” [16o-1, p. 4, parag. 2].
From the context it seems clear that it is the ROCOR and the Catacomb Church in Russia which are being referred to here by the words “schismatics” and “various uncanonical groups…more dangerous than the persecution.”
Today, the Moscow Patriarchate still holds to its former position in regard to Metropolitan Sergius. In 2009 the book Patriarch Kirill: his Life and Worldview was issued (in Russian) by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev, MP) [16o-2]. The book is well written and leaves a very positive and sympathetic impression of Patriarch Kirill as a person and confessor in his early childhood. In regard to the Moscow Patriarchate and the path it took, it is presented as the most wise path in contrast to that of ROCOR. Thus, discussing briefly and seemingly objectively the path of ROCOR, it still clearly shines through that ROCOR in fact was the real cause for the schism which, according to the author, goes back not to 1927 with the acceptance of the Declaration, but to 1920 when ROCOR initially began its existence, thereby making the schism into a purely political one with no connection to a spiritual fall whatsoever. In the book Patriarch Kirill is described as a most faithful pupil of Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov), who saw the path of Metropolitan Sergius as the only true way to save the Church [p.193, parag. 1 and further. See also pp. 183-201] [p. 38, parag. 3].
Patriarch Kirill himself states that even though the acceptance of the Declaration w a s “not completely in keeping with the standards and traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church” such a compromise was nevertheless necessary, since “at that time there was simply no other way in
order for the Church to survive…” (“…тогда иного пути для выживания Церкви и сохранения народа Божия не было.”). Metropolitan Sergius and others who followed him were, therefore, still true confessors by the fact that they shepherded the Church during the cruel communist times [p.375]. The accusing of a betrayal, the Patriarch states, lacks therefore any foundation, since “All the activities of Metropolitan Sergius were directed toward the survival of the Church under conditions of revolutionary terror.” (“Вся деятельность митрополита Сергия имела целью выживание Церкви в условиях революционного террора.”[160-2, p.375, parag. 3. Patriarch Kirill: his Life and Worldview”, 2009].
In the book the Moscow Patriarchate is very convincingly viewed – through the voices of Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) – as the triumphant Mother Church which by the wisdom of its patriarchs has been led safely through the hard times of communism and now stands in all its glory. The path of ROCOR is thereby indirectly and quite elegantly swept off the floor as a path not to be followed, putting the whole of its history of confession into complete oblivion.
ROCOR’s Separation from Metropolitan Sergius – political or spiritual?
The reason for ROCOR to break ecclesiastical ties with the Synod of Metropolitan Sergius lies in the voluntary acceptance of the “Declaration” of 1927 and union with a demonic system – the communist regime – resulting in the loss of inner freedom. It is, therefore, so much more unfortunate to see ROCOR/MP now gradually taking another stand, claiming that the separation was of a political character and not spiritual. In an interview with Bishop Jerome of Manhattan and New York, His Eminence states the following (emphasis mine): “It was necessary to unite with the Moscow Patriarchate, since the reason for this division was historical and not dogmatical….ROCOR was cut off not because of heresy but because of the fact that a normal relationship with the Patriarchate was impossible due to the interference of the Soviet government [17b-1, p.5, parag. 1].
In another interview 2008, Metropolitan Hilarion – First Hierarch of ROCOR/MP – takes the same position, saying (emphasis mine): “The reunification of the two parts of the Church is indeed a process of healing wounds inflicted by the bloody years of the persecution of the Church. This process has been going on for a long time now in a wide variety of ways, but
officially, it surfaces as you see it now. The Russian Orthodox Church in exile, as she called herself, always considered herself a branch of one trunk, but political circumstances prevailed, and this was our common pain during the years of division.” [17b-2, question 4].
In yet another interview, September 2009, the Metropolitan repeats his position, saying: “I think that in general, there was no rift among Orthodox people, there was a political rift, but the faith remained one and the same…I think that the reunification of the Church led to reconciliation. Political trends are temporary, they quickly evaporate, but the faith remains forever.” [17b-3, answer 6: “There is no one to sign..”].
According to these statements ROCOR’s separation was:
-“ a political rift…or trend,”
-“historical and not dogmatical,… due to the interference of the Soviet government.”
-“[It was] inflicted by the bloody years of the persecution of the
Church…[because] political circumstances prevailed….”
As can be seen from these statements, the issue of a spiritual fall is not even hinted at. The separation is described as something purely external, where the guilty party is the Soviet government alone and not the Moscow Patriarchate. Understanding the separation in this way, it was therefore only natural for ROCOR to seek a reunification as soon as the communist regime fell. But is such a position true to the position which ROCOR formerly held? In answering this question, we must go a little bit back in time. Archbishop Vitaly Maksimenko, former abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery said in this respect:
“The Moscow Patriarchate wants us to unite with them. What are we, the faithful, now to do?
It is said that the Moscow Patriarchate has not changed anything, neither in the dogmas, nor in the services, nor in matters of ritual. But we will answer: “No!” The Patriarchate has violated an essential dogma concerning the Church of Christ and rejected her essential purpose – to serve the rebirth of the people, replacing it with a service contrary to the nature of the Church, namely, service to the ungodly goals of communism. This deviation is more bitter than all of the previous heresies of Arianism, Nestorianism, the iconoclasm, etc. And this is not just a personal sin of this or that hierarch, but a fundamental sin of the Moscow Patriarchate, a sin
that has been confirmed, proclaimed and bound by an oath before the whole world; it is, so to speak, an apostasy that has been made into dogma.”
[ 1 7 c , The Dogma of Christ`s Church, (Догмат о Церкви Христовой), p.25, parag. 4].
Father Seraphim Rose confirms these words, and makes it crystal clear why ROCOR separated from Metropolitan in 1927 (emphasis Fr. Seraphim): “The Catacomb hierarchs and faithful have not in the least separated from the Moscow Patriarchate because of the personal sins of its hierarchs – but rather because of their apostasy from Christ, which does indeed involve not merely the hierarchs, but also the whole of the Church’s faithful” [12p, parag. 2].
Archbishop Averky (Taushev) of Jordanville likewise affirms the spiritual fall of the Moscow Patriarchate, saying that “The destructive compromise [by the Moscow Patriarchate] with the God-fighting communist power is much more dangerous and destructive for souls than open bloody persecutions. “This is the spirit of “Apostasy” in the very midst of the Orthodox Church, which gave birth to all kinds of divisions and schism, both in the Homeland and abroad. This is the inner betrayal of Christ, preserving an external, merely seeming faithfulness to Him”[16n, p.6, parag.3].
In an Epistle of 1990, ROCOR still confessed the traditional view of our division in stating that “[Some] obviously have forgotten or do not know that the schism within the Church of Russia was caused sixty-three years ago by Metropolitan Sergius and his followers.” [17o, 6th –last parag.].
In yet another Epistle from the same year we read (emphasis mine):
“With all to whom the treasures of Orthodoxy which we have inherited are dear, we are prepared to elucidate the canonical and dogmatic problems which have created the rift between the various parts of the Church of Russia as an integral whole. The objective of such conversations cannot be to arrive at any compromise between truth and falsehood. The immovable Cornerstone of our hope is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. There cannot be communion between light and darkness.” [16s,second-last parag.].
And as late as 2001 the same position was expressed by the Synod of ROCOR in an Epistle, addressed to the Moscow Patriarchate:
“The division between you and us is dismissed as “political” by many. However, in the revolutionary events in Russia that are to blame for the beginning of our division, we see nothing political in the proper sense of the word. The motivating factors of those bloody events were lies, deception, apostasy and theomachism. You must agree that this gives us the right to evaluate the “sovietization” of Russia as a moral and profoundly religious catastrophe. Metropolitan Sergius’ declaration of 1927 expanded this catastrophe to the internal life of the Church, laying the foundation for the phenomenon we call “sergianism.” This “sergianism” was manifested especially in the cooperation of church hierarchs with the KGB.” [1d].
As is seen, the division was not due to a “political rift,” as Metropolitan Hilarion (ROCOR/MP) now states, but due to a “canonical and dogmatical rift,”“aninner betrayal of Christ”and “a profoundly religious catastrophe,…which Metropolitan Sergius expanded to the internal life of the Church, a catastrophe considered to be “more bitter than all of the previous heresies of Arianism, Nestorianism, the iconoclasm, etc.”
This has always been the traditional position of ROCOR.
It is of vital importance for the well-being of the Russian Church to properly understand this division, mentioned above. Contrary to former conviction, ROCOR/MP is now characterizing the division as a division only between two church-organizations (or sister-Churches), caused by outward political circumstances. But such a position is not the position ROCOR held in earlier days. Father Seraphim Rose said that “The division is not merely one between two totally independent church organizations (though it is that also); more basically it is a division between two entirely different views of what the Church of Christ is and how it should act in this sinful world while conducting its children to the banks of the eternal sinless life in the Kingdom of Heaven.” [17j, p.15, parag. 2].
The present position of ROCOR/MP is therefore questioning that which the Church has always held to be a cornerstone of the Church – the path of the martyrs.
“One view, continues Fr. Seraphim Rose, that of the present day Moscow Patriarchate [year 1982], sees the Church first of all as an
organization whose outward form must be preserved at any cost; disobedience to or separation from this organization is regarded as an act of “schism” or even “sectarianism.” (one, perhaps, recalls the words of His Eminence, Archbishop Mark (ROCOR/MP) that ROCOR will end up being a sect, if we will not unite)…Such apologies, products of the general decline of Orthodox church consciousness in our times, are themselves symptoms of the ecclesiastical disease of Sergianism, of the loss of contact with the spiritual roots of Orthodox Christianity and the replacement of living and whole Orthodoxy by outward and “canonical” forms.”
“The other view, that of the True-Orthodox or Catacomb Church of Russia, sees the first responsibility of the Orthodox Church to be faithfulness to Christ and to the true spirit of Orthodoxy, at whatever external cost.” [17j, p.15-16].
This second view has always been considered by the Orthodox Church to be the accepted Path, given us by Christ.
If our separation was indeed only political, then ROCOR and the holy Catacomb Saints in fact committed a grave sin by breaking ecclesiastical ties with the Synod of Metropolitan Sergius. If indeed we can be convinced of the fact that our separation was political and not spiritual, then the path of Metropolitan Sergius, and not of ROCOR or the martyrs, was indeed the true one. Then the Moscow Patriarchate has been right all along and rightly called us schismatics and an uncanonical group. Then the whole essence of what the Church of Christ is has been changed completely.
The Moscow Patriarchate – in voluntary spiritual Bondage.
This former position of ROCOR leads us to another important aspect concerning the spiritual fall of the Moscow Patriarchate.
After the Soviet regime fell in 1990, some slowly began to believe that we were obliged to unite with the Moscow Patriarchate, since an external freedom had been established. I believe though, that the Moscow Patriarchate, in actuality, never became free spiritually. In 1927 it (the Moscow Patriarchate) freely gave away its inner freedom to a purely antichristian and God-fighting system and accepted to stay in this bondage right up to its fall. The freedom was not taken away by force, since,
according to the holy Fathers, no evil force whatsoever is able to take away our freedom unless we ourselves give it away freely. For the whole span of 70 years, they consciously and voluntarily rejected the inner freedom, given to them by God, to deny the evil communist System and unite spiritually with the Russian martyrs, the Catacomb Church, and the ROCOR. They used this freedom to mock and persecute the Catacomb Saints and ROCOR. The freedom now given to them came about without any act of willpower on their part and is therefore a counterfeit illusion of a real inner freedom. This explains why, after almost a quarter of a century, they have still not any desire to reject either ecumenism or the path of Metropolitan Sergius. It was this voluntarily spiritual bondage, which caused and causes our separation from and non-acceptance of the Moscow Patriarchate. In a conversation with his parishioners, the Russian priest Father Michael Korjagin (ROCOR-A) emphasizes this point (emphasis mine):
“Not everybody who lived in the Soviet Union submitted spiritually to the soviet powers. And the other way around, from a purely external freedom does not necessarily follow a spiritual freedom. This last point is especially important for us to understand today.” [16m, p. 57, parag.7].
In characterizing what true Orthodoxy is, we read in the Orthodox Word the following difference between an inner and outward freedom:
“True Orthodoxy is one and the same whether in outward freedom or outward slavery; it is free internally to preach the unchanging Truths of Christ’s Church, and the questions before it are one and the same here and there…” [12p, p.246, parag. 3].
As mentioned earlier, Archbishop Averky likewise characterized the fall of the Moscow Patriarchate as an “inner betrayal of Christ.” Thus, true Orthodoxy is characterized by an inner freedom to be faithful to Christ whether one finds himself in an outward freedom or outward slavery. This freedom is never given automatically by an outward freedom nor can it automatically be taken away by an outward loss of freedom. This gift comes from within and is completely independent of outward conditions.
Therefore, can an Orthodoxy (of the Moscow Patriarchate), which is dependent solely on an external freedom in order to preach the unchanging Truths of Christ’s Church, be considered a true Orthodoxy – the Orthodoxy of Christ?
Why does God so zealously guard our personal freedom, to the point where He even allows us to lose our very soul for eternity in order not to violate this personal freedom? This is so, because God wants us to freely
accept Him and His Kingdom. That is why we, in our daily Christian life, are forced to struggle with our various passions and show our own wish to become free in order to eventually inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. If God were to free us without our own struggle, then where would our repentance be, our love for God, our freedom, our crown? Then the Church in vain praises daily the martyrs who, in the most elevated form ever, manifested this inner freedom to choose Christ and not Satan. It was (is) therefore only natural for the Moscow Patriarchate to reject the Russian Martyrs, being in complete opposition to the spirit of these martyrs.
The primary reason for ROCOR to break ecclesiastical ties with Metropolitan Sergius was not to betray Christ. It was a matter of both not betraying Christ and not losing the inner freedom of the Church. Whether or not it was to the communist system or to any other system was and is wholly irrelevant. The main concern of ROCOR is to stay away from that which will be a threat to its inner freedom. The Moscow Patriarchate in freely remaining in this spiritual bondage, thus represents an equal threat to our inner freedom as did the soviet power. The end result will be the same – a loss of inner freedom.
The Path of Christ.
It must be said that the Moscow Patriarchate itself does not see their compromise as a loss of inner freedom. They claim the freedom they lost was purely external while inwardly they stayed completely faithful to Christ and his Church. But (almost all of) the most respected and saintly hierarchs of the Russian Church both in the Catacombs and ROCOR did not see it in this way and therefore broke with the Synod of Metropolitan Sergius. They did so because that is how Christ Himself, together with all His martyrs, has always taught us to do in such situations. The intentions of Metropolitan Sergius together with the whole episcopate of the Moscow Patriarchate may have been most sincere. They may have felt that there was no other way in order to save the Church, and that they were going through much suffering from being in complete subordination to the communists, but that still does not justify the path they decided to take. Because it is not the path of Christ and his martyrs and will never be. As has been indicated earlier, Christ has given us only two ways to act when confronted with persecution – either to run, or when this is not possible, humbly lay down our lives for Him. A third way, that of joining the persecutors in order to save ourselves or His Church on earth has never ever existed in the history of the Church. This is easy to say when living in peace and comfort, but it makes it no less true. Our time
here in the West may very well come too – sooner than we perhaps think – and when it does, we must be ready to confront the persecution as valiantly and uncompromisingly as did (and do) the True Orthodox Catacomb Christians. If we allow the path of Metropolitan Sergius to be even an option, however slight and faint it may be, we will surely take that path in our weakness.
One must also remember that the Church, during the persecution of the Christians in the first three centuries, considered those people who – in order to avoid martyrdom – denied Christ together with those who gave money to the committee of pagans and took the certificate without denying Christ, the so called “liveloforoi,” as being apostates and sinners.
What Metropolitan Sergius did was therefore in fact to wholly undermine that force which is the most important force during persecution – a wish for martyrdom [16m, p.15]. As Father Michael Polsky says: “That existence which is wrapped up in false forms or by means of falsehood, is neither an existence nor life in the Church. It is, on the contrary, death to the soul, a weakening, paralysis, anguish and prison. It is a burden beyond one`s strength and a terrible weight on the conscience. There is freedom only outside this yoke of falsehood, even though that would have to mean a life of wandering, an absence of an outward legal Church and a life in the catacombs, together with all deprivations. Here there is freedom, truth and life with a clear conscience.” [16t, p.VI].
Unfortunately, we now erroneously believe that this purely external freedom is equal to the precious inner freedom that was preserved by the Catacomb Church and ROCOR. In doing so, ROCOR/MP has greatly jeopardized its own spiritual freedom. Therefore, for ROCOR/MP to seek a purely mechanical union, based on a likewise purely outward freedom without in the slightest way taking into consideration the actual inner spiritual state (fall) of the Moscow Patriarchate, seems neither to be justified nor the correct way to overcome such a division. The correct and canonically proper way has always been considered by ROCOR to be the All-Russian Council.
The All-Russian Council.
In order to understand to some extent the traditional position of ROCOR in earlier days regarding a future All-Russian Council, I will present a few testimonies from the Synod of ROCOR together with personal
testimonies from hierarchs, hieromonks, theologians and laymen on this subject. As will be seen this Council was expected by both ROCOR and the Russian Catacomb Church to take place in order to rightly evaluate the past and create a sound and canonical basis for the unity of the Russian Church.
In dealing with the issues of the Mother Church and the future All- Russian Council, one has to be cautious. In the history of ROCOR the picture is not always clear cut. Still I will argue that there existed a certain position towards these issues which indeed was acknowledged by ROCOR as being the general, official and most accepted one.
First I will present the position as seen from inside the ROCOR itself in the last seventy years. I will then briefly show the position of the Russian Catacomb Church.
Archpriest Lev Lebedev (who died in 1997) sums up the common hope of all true Russian Orthodox Christians. He said that when the moment arrives of freedom in Russia, a truly free and not false All-Russian Council has to be established, consisting of the free part of the Church of Russia, both in the Diaspora and in Russia, together with those worthy hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate who in spirit firmly reject the path of Metropolitan Sergius and ecumenism. Both Sergianism and the heresy of ecumenism would unconditionally have to be anathematized. A new worthy Patriarch and in general a worthy hierarchy would be elected, who truly would be able to resurrect the Church in Russia and make it not only one in spirit but also truly canonical. It must be said that Father Lev was of the opinion that such a Council would come about only with a new Russian Tsar. [16l, p.31].
O n Orthodox-info, a respected Orthodox web-site, representing a moderate, sober and traditional Orthodox position we read (emphasis mine):
“Similarly, in 1934 Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan wrote:
” I firmly believe that the Orthodox Episcopate, with brotherly union and mutual support, will preserve the Russian Church, with God’s help, in age-old Orthodoxy all the time of the validity of the Patriarchal Testament (of Patriarch Tikhon), and will conduct it to a lawful Council” (The Orthodox Word, 1977, no . 75, p. 189) [17q].
The author of the web-site continues:
“In accordance with the famous “Testament” ofMetropolitan Anastassy, Chief Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia from 1936 to 1964, a final judgment of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian church situation cannot be made now, but must wait for a free Church Council, which can obviously be assembled only after the fall of Communism. The last paragraph of this “Testament” states”:
“As for the Moscow Patriarchate and her hierarchs, inasmuch as they are in an intimate, active, and well-wishing union with the Soviet power which openly confesses its complete godlessness and strives to implant atheism in the entire Russian people, with them the Church Abroad, preserving its purity, must not have any communion whatever, whether canonically, in prayer, or even in ordinary everyday contact, at the same time giving each of them over to the final judgment of the Sobor (Council) of the future free Russian Church” (The Orthodox Word, 1970, no. 33-34, p. 239) [17q].
Obviously ROCOR is supposed to seek union after freedom has been given. But Metropolitan Anastassy adds further that there must first be established a Council of the future free Russian Church which is supposed to rightly judge the compromised hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate, in ”giving each of them over” to a final judgment of ”a future free Russian Church.
Metropolitan Anthony Krapovitsky, First Hierarch of The Russian Church Abroad, was likewise hoping for a future All-Russian Council. In 1934 he wrote the following: “I consider the acts of Metropolitan Sergius [Stragorodsky] to be criminal acts, which are indictable by a future free All- Russian Council.” [16m, p.53].
Another important document of October 1941 helps us further to understand the position of ROCOR regarding the future restoration of a canonical church administration in Russia. During the Second World War many saw an opportunity for Russia to be liberated from the Soviet power. The circumstances around such a future All-Russian church administration were therefore discussed. In a letter to Archbishop Seraphim (Ljad), October 1941, Metropolitan Anastassy presents his own view together with the view of the Synod. (16m-2, p.158).
The reconstruction of a Higher Church Administration“was considered not to be possible until Russia had been completely freed from the communists and an explanation of what had happened to the Locum Tenens Metropolitan Kirill of Kazan had been fully made.” [16m, p. 61].
Until such a time would occur it was considered necessary “to gather in Moscow, as soon as it had been liberated, a council of all those available bishops from the Russian Church, who had not compromised themselves in collaborating with Metropolitan Sergius and especially by participation in his Synod. The council must be under the leadership of the oldest in rank among the bishops and form a provisional higher church administration, which subsequently is to summon an All-Russian Council for the restoration
of the Patriarchate and the judgment of a further organization of the Russian Church [16m-2, p.158].
This subject was discussed in more detail in another document of 1942, issued by the ROCOR-Synod. In the “Project of the restoration of the canonical church administration in Russia,” which was proposed to the German department by the Synod of ROCOR (June 1942) the issue was discussed in more detail. It states that “Metropolitan Sergius cannot remain the Head of the Russian Church due to canonical reasons and because of the unacceptable way of his political actions.”[16m-2, p.159].
Father Michael Korjagin says in this regard – that here two reasons are given for not being able to accept Metropolitan Sergius as the head of the Church: canonical and moral-political [16m-1, p.61].
The document continues, stating that “One must note, that according to the canons of the Orthodox Church a hierarch may be given over to trial and thus be freed from his post due not only to his heretical error, but also due to his moral-canonical fault (Canon 81 of the Apostles). In this case the hierarchs and the faithful saw in the new politics of Metropolitan Sergius a betrayal of the Orthodox faith in the form of a compromise with the ungodly ones and the Church’s submission by him.” [16m-2, p.161-162].
Further, in declaring the necessity to summon a Council for the regulation of church life in Russia, the members of the Synod [of ROCOR] put the following question: “Who is to be considered a full member of the Council, and who can summon it?” And they answer: “Based on the canons, there can be only one answer: only those of the Russian hierarchs, who have been loyal to Patriarch Tikhon and his lawful successors – Metropolitan Kirill and Metropolitan Peter – can be members of the Council. Those hierarchs, who belong to the groups which arose due to the instigations of the soviet councils and have been condemned by Patriach Tikhon and Metropolitan Peter, together with the companions-in-arms of Metropolitan Sergius, cannot be admitted to participate in the First Constituent Council, since they are indictable by the All-Russian Council.” [16m-2, p. 163-164].
Commenting on this paragraph, Father Michael Korjagin says that “It is quite characteristic, that Metropolitan Anastassy and the Synod saw a future lawful higher administration of the Russian Church free of any persons, “who have compromised themselves in collaborating with Metropolitan Sergius and especially by participation in his Synod…”
“That is why – he continues – Metropolitan Anastassy still more than ten years later – in accordance with all the confessors of the Russian Church in the twentieth century – considered the hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate (as mentioned above) subject “to a final judgment of the Council of the future free Russian Church”
“Those were the real views of Metropolitan and of all the Russian Church Abroad regarding the canonical problems – problems which we now  also are confronted with.” [16m-1, p. 62, parag. 4-6].
Father Seraphim Rose also testifies to the fact that an All-Russian Council had to be convened before a reunification could take place (emphasis mine): “While considering the clergy and faithful of the Moscow Patriarchate as participants in apostasy and schism, True-Orthodox Christians view them with sympathy and love, but also speak the truth about them and refuse to participate in their deeds or have communion in prayer and sacraments with them, leaving their judgment to the future All-Russian council, when and if God should grant that it might be convened. [12p, The Orthodox Word, p. 240, parag. 4].
I will note here that Father Seraphim Rose frequently referred to the Russian Catacomb Church and its true spirit of Orthodoxy. There is today in Russia more than one Synod (Church) under the name Russian Catacomb Church. Which of these Synods (Churches) are identical to the Russian Catacomb Church of his time, I will let the reader decide for himself.
In his “Royal Path,” Father Seraphim Rose repeats his view on a future All-Russian Council (emphasis mine): “One can of course have no communion with such a body [the Moscow Patriarchate], dominated by atheists, but precise definitions of its status are best left to a free Russian church council in the future.” [7m, parag. 14].
Further he specifies what was to be expected from a future All- Russian Council: ”In previous Councils like this [an All-Russian Council] in the history of the Church, those most guilty of schism have been punished, while the innocent followers of schism have been forgiven and restored to communion with the Church.” [12p, p. 240, parag. 4, last 5 lines].
And in 1971, Father Seraphim Rose, commenting on the writings of Boris Talantov, affirms this, saying that they (the writings)“will doubtless be used as testimony at that longed-for Council of the entire free Russian Church, including the Churches of the Catacombs and of the Diaspora, that will finally judge the situation created by the Communist Yoke and Sergianism (emphasis mine) [17q, no.36, p.38].
Metropolitan Anastassy also explains in more detail, the character of such a Council. He states that in order for this Council to be God-pleasing, the participation of those parts of the Russian Church who had not compromised themselves with the Soviet system had to participate (emphasis mine): “Only an All-Russian Council, freely and lawfully established and completely free in its decisions, with the participation, as far as possible, of all of the bishops from abroad and especially of those who in Russia are currently in confinement – to whom we are ready to give answer for all of our acts during our time abroad – will be an entirely competent judge between the bishops of the Russian Church Abroad and the current head of the Russian Church” («Православная Жизнь». 1976. No 6). [17l, p.137, parag. 3, line 11].
It is obvious that Metropolitan Anastassy considered the free part of the Russian Church to be the major guarantee for an “entirely competent judge” at such a Council. This spiritually free part is the Catacomb Church and ROCOR. It is likewise obvious that by a Council, ROCOR did not have in mind just any Council, but a Council which would rightly evaluate the past. Even St. John of Shanghai, who has been quoted so frequently in defense of a union with the Moscow Patriarchate, confirmed the general position of ROCOR regarding an All-Russian Council. Thus, at the All- Diaspora Pastoral Conference of ROCOR, 2003, one of the official supporters for the union presented a paper in which he states (emphasis mine) that “St. John assumed that the issue of the separated parts of the Russian Church can be resolved only at an All-Russian Council.” [7n, second-last parag.].
This statement is repeated, when the author concludes the position of St. John, saying that ”The issue of church unity has to be dealt with at an All-Russia Church Council.” [7n, last parag.].
Professor Ivan Andreev mentions also a future Council, where the Moscow Patriarchate has to stand trial for its apostasy (emphasis mine): “… We, the Orthodox Russian people, [do not] predetermine the final trial over the Soviet church, a trial, which by the “ruling” of the Holy Spirit will be carried out in its time by the Russian Orthodox Synod.” [17i, p.57, last parag.].
The understanding of the importance of an All-Russian Council in the history of ROCOR continues up to our time. This becomes especially evident in the astounding 1994 Epistle of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR where we read the following (emphasis mine):
“Knowing that the Russian people can find spiritual support only in the unadulterated and pure Orthodox Church of the Holy Fathers, we trust that in fruitful and critical discussion we may make our own contribution toward the preparatory process for the free All-Russia Council of which we have spoken in our previous conciliar epistles. Such a council must, in our opinion, lead to the triumph of pure Orthodoxy and the Truth committed to us by our fathers over all the dark powers which have been arrayed against our Church and our much-suffering people in this century. Not with loud declarations, but with painstaking, patient, and perhaps even lengthy labor, we must prepare the way for the All-Russia Council, in which only healthy forces, possessed of the capacity to distinguish truth from falsehood, can take part. Only then, with God’s help, will it be able to serve as the basis for the re-establishment in Russia of true Orthodoxy which is confessed by all of us “with one mouth and with one heart.” [16s].
One notices that the epistle also here stresses the importance of having only “healthy forces, possessed of the capacity to distinguish truth from falsehood, to take part.” Among these healthy forces there could be hierarchs from the Moscow Patriarchate as well. Unfortunately, they are defrocked.
The Russian Catacomb Church held the same position as ROCOR. Thus Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd, Head of the Russian Catacomb Church, also spoke about a future All-Russian Council as the only competent judge. On Orthodox-info the author says (emphasis mine):
“The subject of this future free Council is one that has occupied the thoughts both of the Catacomb Church and the Church Outside of Russia ever since the Sergian Declaration of 1927. In that year Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd, the first real head of the Catacomb Church, wrote:
“In separating from Metropolitan Sergius and his acts, we do not separate from our lawful Chief Hierarch, Metropolitan Peter, nor from the Council, which will meet at some time in the future, of those Orthodox hierarchs who have remained faithful. May this Council, our sole competent judge, not then hold us guilty for our boldness” (The Orthodox Word, 1971, no. 36, p. 26). [17q, point 4].
Again, His Eminence, like Metropolitan Anastassy, considers those Orthodox hierarchs who have remained faithful to be the actual guarantee for a sole competent judge.
In another document of the Catacomb Church, which circulated in the Soviet Union in 1971, we hear an anonymous Catacomb believer, most likely a hierarch, testifying to a future All-Russian Council (emphasis mine):
“We believe that if the world does not perish, sooner of later in liberated Russia there will be a Local Council of our Church, to which the fruits of their labors and exploits for the long period without a Council (for one can not call Councils those convocations of Soviet hierarchs which the Council of Religious Affairs organizes together with the Patriarchate) will be brought forth by the Moscow Patriarchate and by the persecuted Russian “Catacomb” Church, to which the authors of this article belong… T o this future council the “Catacomb” Church will bring the testimony of the purity of her faith, unstained by any kind of compromises with the enemies of Christ; for prayer that has been bought is impure prayer.” [17j, p. 540, line 4 from top].
Father Michael Korjagin says that “We are all patiently waiting and hoping for such a canonical and free All-Russian Council, which will be the triumph of truth in all of the Russian Church. All the New Martyrs have been waiting for this Council as well as generations of Catacomb Christians and the hierarchs of the Russian Church Abroad.” [16m, p.53].
All this testifies to the fact that the issue of an All-Russian Council, being regularly repeated and affirmed by our Synod together with our most respected hierarchs, priests, monks and theologians, was indeed the general accepted position of ROCOR. From these few, but important documents and testimonies, we are presented with four aspects, which together fully characterize this Council, namely: its existence, its members, its purpose and its goal.
The first aspect – its existence – testifies to the fact that an All- Russian Council indeed was expected by ROCOR and the Catacomb Church to take place in order to rightly evaluate the whole period from 1927 up to the fall of the Soviet Union.
The second aspect – its members – testifies to the fact that ROCOR and the Russian Catacomb Church, and in general the whole (spiritually) free part of the Russian Church, had to take part in the Council, as a guarantee for it to be God-pleasing. Only the wholly worthy hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate who had not compromised themselves in collaborating with the communists, or who have shown sincere repentance of their former path were to partake in the Council. The Council was to be led by the eldest in rank among the bishops of the free part of the Russian Church.
Each of the Russian Old Calendar Church’s representatives would have to participate, in order to truly be able to re-establish the one Russian Church. Those hierarchs who had compromised themselves in collaborating with Metropolitan Sergius and especially participating in his Synod were not
to be admitted to the Council. In our days it would mean those hierarchs who wholeheartedly have compromised themselves in collaborating with the communists and accepted the course of Metropolitan Sergius as a righteous path.
The third aspect – its purpose – focuses on the main role of the Council – to rightly evaluate the whole period going all the way back to 1927 or perhaps even to the revolution in 1917 and thus create a sound foundation for a true reunification. This period includes the acceptance of the Provisional Government by the Russian Church, and its abandonment of the Royal Family, together with ecumenism and the voluntary submission by Metropolitan Sergius to the God-fighting and satanic communist system. The acts by Metropolitan Sergius and ecumenism were to be condemned. A new worthy Patriarch among those bishops who had not compromised themselves was then to be elected. After such a truly free and canonical election had taken place everything would be ready for the reunification.
The fourth and last aspect – its goal – brings us to the final result – “the re-establishment in Russia of true Orthodoxy”.
Confronted with the above-mentioned statements, which cover the whole period from 1927 up to our days, we therefore understand that a purely external freedom in Russia, even though essential for a union, was definitely not the only criterion for a reunification. That was just the first major step toward this union. The second step was no less essential and perhaps even more crucial – the long-waited All-Russian Council.
But none of this ever happened. Thus, we hear in 2009 the following statement from an official voice of ROCOR/MP and member of the official Commission of Dialogue in establishing the reunification with the Moscow Patriarchate: “The reestablishment of canonical communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and Church Abroad did not require an All-Russian Council. It was enough for the Council of Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate to inform the Holy Synod that the reunification process of the two parts of the Russian Church had been completed.” [17p].
And so, all the hierarchs from ROCOR/MP approved this union, having completely forgotten their very own words: “With this [the possibility of dialogue due to the collapse of the Soviet system] there can be no talk of any unification with or submission to the Moscow Patriarchate on our part; rather, we patiently await the return of the Moscow Patriarchate to the thousand-year historical path of the Russian Church, from which,
unfortunately, it has diverged. [1994 Epistle of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR, 16s].
The hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate as well do not show any desire for a true All-Russian Council. In fact, it seems that they have no wish at all to reject the false path followed by the Moscow Patriarchate the last 80 years. Thus, in 2000 ”almost all of the episcopate voted for its continued participation in ecumenism, despite the fact that the people and the clergy are opposed to this.” [1c, ROCOR-Epistle of 2001]. In 2008 the whole of the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR/MP unanimously (with the exception of two or four hierarchs) decided to defrock Bishop Diomid of Tjukotsky, for the very only reason that he spoke up against ecumenism and Sergianism. Later in 2009 the majority of the delegates elected as new Patriarch one of the most compromised hierarchs both in regard to ecumenism and Sergianism.
It is a serious mistake to think that the All-Russian Council is something which only the ROCOR and not the faithful in Russia needed in order to reestablish the one Russian Church. No, all the Russian Faithful, whether abroad or in Russia are in need of this Council, if we want the Russian Church to stay on the true Path of Christ.
Some argue that today it is simply not realistic to think that a true All- Russian Council would ever be able to take place. This is correct. But it is correct only because the Moscow Patriarchate would never allow such a Council. Some parts of ROCOR did not mind at all, since they themselves wanted to unite at any price.
Father Seraphim Rose, in the book, Russia’ s Catacomb Saints, stresses the importance of following the spirit of the Catacomb Church. In this, he says, lies the whole future of the Russian Church (emphasis mine):
“The Catacomb Church of Russia is …first of all the standard-bearer o f faithfulness to Christ, which inspires a different attitude towards the Church and its organization than now prevails throughout much of the Orthodox world. This realization will perhaps not dawn until the downfall of the godless regime; but when it does, the Sergianist church organization and its whole philosophy of being will crumble to dust. In this light, it is surely no exaggeration to say that the future of Russia, if it is to be Orthodox, belongs to the Catacomb Church.” [17j, p.21].
Unfortunately,”the Sergianist church organization and its whole philosophy of being” did not “crumble to dust.” On the contrary! The spirit of ROCOR and the Catacomb Church – the guarantee of an “entirely competent judge,” at a future All-Russian Council has been entirely
neglected. No “painstaking, patient, and perhaps even lengthy labor,… for the All-Russia Council,…which could serve as the basis for the re- establishment in Russia of true Orthodoxy” has been seen. The Moscow Patriarchate is currently more influential and powerful than ever, while the Catacomb Church and other Old Calendar Churches are persecuted. This is so because we – the Russian people both abroad and in Russia – in our complete acceptance of the Moscow Patriarchate – have rejected the spirit of the Catacomb Church – to be faithful to Christ.
In rejecting the All-Russian Council, we have completely failed to heal the wounds of the Russian Church and only made them bigger.
The Issue of Grace.
With time many people in the Soviet Union willingly or unwillingly accepted the Moscow Patriarchate as their legal administrative leader. Formally belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate, but rejecting the falsehood of Sergianism, there were still people who managed to lead a highly spiritual and God-pleasing life in the Soviet Union.
Michael Nazarov, a well-known Russian writer, dealing with the issue of Russia regarding both political and Church matters, affirms this stand. He believes there is no valid basis for considering the Church in Russia to be graceless. Through history, he states, dating back to 1927, there have never been any official statements from ROCOR, categorically considering the Church under the Moscow Patriarchate to be graceless. This, according to Michael Nazarov, is seen not only in the words of ROCOR but also in their acts. Thus, clergy from the Moscow Patriarchate, for example, which later joined ROCOR, were always received in their rank. Likewise, ROCOR never, either before or after the Second World War, re-baptized or re- married faithful from the Moscow Patriarchate [17l, p.134-142].
Professor Ivan Andreev, who was a highly learned scholar and professor, clarifies this. Before he became a teacher at Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, he spent five years in the camp of Solovki and was a member of the Russian Catacomb Church. I will present his words in full, since they explain the issue of Grace exactly to the point.
“The Grace of the Holy Spirit can emerge everywhere. The children playing the holy Eucharist – and the Holy Spirit suddenly performed a holy sacrament. Laughing and mocking at the Christians, one heathen at the circus parodied the holy sacrament of baptism, and suddenly – the holy sacrament happened. The Lord can create a miracle also in the Soviet
church – and perform there the holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. But just because of that, we cannot acknowledge either the children`s game, or the circus, or the Soviet church as being a constant establishment of grace.” [17i, p.55, parag. 2].
Here the Professor clearly distinguishes between what is a natural possession of Grace because of faithfulness to Christ, and what in God’s infinite love for mankind is given only as an extreme exception due to a clear falling away from the Truth. It will help us to understand further the complex issue about Grace in a broader sense regarding World Orthodoxy.
“Knowing the essence of the Soviet government (the spirit of antichrist) – the Professor continues – and the essence of the Soviet church (collaboration with antichrist), we do not dare refuse to doubt the grace of that church. And can an Orthodox Christian approach the Holy Chalice with doubt? But why are we saying “we doubt,” and not saying simply “no”? Because in deference to the possibility of retaining grace also in the Soviet churchfor a time – there is one more consideration. This consideration is being expressed by one of the most remarkable contemporary Archpastors (see “Letter of a Pastor to a Pastor,” Collection Troitsa, 1947, Paris).” [17i, p. 55, parag. 3].
Professor Andreev then quotes this Archpastor and the consideration expressed by him:
“The life of the Church is always a process…when the Church of Christ detached herself from the church of the Old Testament, it was also a long drawn out process, having many phases. Ananias and Caiaphas on one side, the Apostles and their closest followers on the other side, those were landmarks of two immediately-recognizable opposite camps. But in the Sanhedrin were Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus and Gamaliel, who later on became martyrs for Christ, and the Apostles themselves were together in the synagogue everyday (Acts 2:46), and this was a temple led by Ananias and Caiaphas, and already after Pentecost, that is, when the Apostles were already filled with the Holy Spirit.”[17i, p. 55, parag. 4].
And the Archpastor then continues, saying that “The question being decided through these processes stands before each person. “Patriarch” Alexei I and his closest collaborators clearly decided it for themselves: they were in full, unequivocally acknowledged unity with the God-fighting authority and against the martyrs of Christ. But the rest, all those people filling the churches, are they indeed with the “patriarch” in this question? No, they do not participate in the council and their actions do not
participate in the business of the Patriarchate, that is, in that dark side of their business, which binds them with the enemies of God and separates from Christ. And if they do not formally separate themselves from the patriarch and his clergy, then this is only because of external reasons, because this business is not yet ripened at this moment, like Apostle John, the same who later on will call the synagogue which did not acknowledge Christ – “Satan`s assemblage,” but who originally came to it for prayers together with Apostle Peter (Acts 3:1).”[17i, p.56, parag. 2].
Professor Andreev then comments on these words of the Archpastor, saying that “The thoughts expressed here are extremely serious. That the Church fell away from God and turned into an “assemblage of Satan” is a process, with this one cannot disagree. However, the Soviet church has entered the path, which is leading her to this “assemblage – of this there can be no doubt whatsoever. A church, which is in an “ideal” relation with a God-fighting government of absolute power, which puts the business of antichrist as her fundamental mission; a church which disavowed herself from the “pillar and the affirmation” of the truth of Christ – the confession of faith and martyrdom and which is calling us to “deeds” of servility for humanity and the blasphemous church-organized falsehood: a church which called a leader of worldly antichrist forces, Stalin, “the chosen of the Lord” – has entered undisputedly the frightful way of collaboration with antichrist, which will lead her to the transformation from a church of Christ to the “assemblage of Satan.” [17i, p. 56, last parag.].
“This instills terror in us. And we, the Orthodox Russian people, not predetermining the final trial over the Soviet church, a trial, which by the “ruling” of the Holy Spirit will be carried out in its time by the Russian Orthodox Synod, we must speak out clearly and determinedly: We refuse any kind of relation, whatever it may be, with the Soviet church, for we doubt that she has grace” [17i, p.57, last parag.].
I will let another quiet voice of an anonymous Catacomb hierarch affirm this moderate stand:
“The times have changed. We have no churches in the USSR now, and can we, who have gone into our solitary cells and find there everything which the churches gave us, forbid the thousands of believers who do not have such an opportunity from seeking consolation and spiritual food in the churches that do exist, and can we condemn them because they go there? We cannot imitate those ignorant ones who stupidly affirm: “Those are not churches, they are demons` temples, those who attend them defile
themselves and are deprived of saving grace,” and other such foolish sayings.”
“And so I say to you: If you do not have any other way of taking part in Divine services and receiving the Mysteries, if you are languishing with thirst for church unity and prayer, and if attending the churches gives this to you – then go there without disturbance, and do not fear that this will be a sin. The Spirit breathes where It will; and in His unutterable mercy the Lord, even through His most unworthy ministers, even through unbelievers, does not deprive Christians of His heavenly gifts.” [17j, 521-522].
Father Seraphim Rose expresses the same position, saying: “The strict rule of the Russian Church Outside of Russia forbidding her members from receiving Sacraments from clergy of the Moscow Patrirarchate is not founded on any statement that these Sacraments lack Grace, but rather on the sacred testament of Metropolitan Anastassy and other great hierarchs of the Diaspora forbidding any kind of communion with the Patriarchate as long as its leaders betray the Faith and are in submission to atheists.” [12p, p.241, parag. 2, line13].
Thus, strictly according to the Orthodox teaching and its spirit we can rightly fear that the Moscow Patriarchate – as an administrative organization – might have lost Grace. Nevertheless, God in His infinite mercy may still allow the faithful to receive Grace in the sacraments.
Father Seraphim Rose likewise took a more moderate stand in regard to Grace in the Moscow Patriarchate. Both Professor Andreyev and Father Seraphim Rose express, I believe, the general understanding of how ROCOR traditionally looked upon the Moscow Patriarchate. But doing so, they never made the wholly false conclusion that this church-organization is in reality the actual cause of such an act (of Grace), as though it was a natural, canonical and God-pleasing (part of the) Mother Church. As we have just read,”the Spirit breathes where It will; and in His unutterable mercy the Lord, even through His most unworthy ministers, even through unbelievers, does not deprive Christians of His heavenly gifts.” Therefore, the fact that Gracedoes act in the sacraments makes the Moscow Patriarchate no less worthy of condemnation, and makes it no less important to struggle against the falsehood it represents, in order to reestablish the correct canonical and spiritual order of the Church.
It is one thing to be a Soviet citizen and perhaps unwillingly be forced to accept the Moscow Patriarchate, being, as it was at that time, the only visible Church and only formally belong to them, as Professor Andreyev explained it. Another completely different thing is to joyously accept it as
the legal and God-pleasing heir to the Church of Russia, as our Mother Church. In doing so we – not to mention the Russian people themselves in their homeland – have turned all normal understanding of what the Moscow Patriarchate actually is upside down. Not only are the Russian people lying to themselves, but we in ROCOR/MP are lying to the Russian people, whom we initially so dearly wanted to help and be one spirit with. We have helped to set the future false course for the Russian Church, as long as the Moscow Patriarchate (and ROCOR/MP) in earnest does not show any desire to get out of that spiritual bondage, into which it voluntarily has fallen. Only breaking with this bondage, will it be able to firmly reject Sergianism, ecumenism, and the Antichrist.
The Tragedy of the ROCOR/MP and the Moscow Patriarchate.
Here we see the whole tragedy in our union with the Moscow Patriarchate. Instead of uniting with the spiritually sound Russian Orthodox believers, we united in spirit with a church-administration which shows all signs of turning into an “assemblage of Satan,” as Professor Andreev said.
The fall of the Soviet system has thrown a false veil of canonicity and righteousness over the Moscow Patriarchate, while in actuality it has not changed at all but perhaps only become worse. In uniting, ROCOR/MP has accepted the Moscow Patriarchate in the same form in which it was categorically rejected by the Russian Catacomb Saints and ROCOR in earlier days. The actual tragedy, therefore, of ROCOR/MP is, first and foremost, not so much their union with World Orthodoxy, as their moral and spiritual fall – their acceptance of its spirit.
The following words by Professor Ivan Andreev therefore make clear sense, stating the official position of ROCOR: “ROCOR is not recognizing – has never recognized and will never be able to recognize this false Soviet Church with its false Patriarchs.” [17d, p.30, parag. 2].
This un-recognition is naturally not referring to the Russian faithful, but specifically to that ruinous state of betrayal which is being spoken of here. It is this soul-destroying state of the Moscow Patriarchate – here called the Soviet Church, in order to more precisely characterize its essence – which ROCOR has never been able to recognize, and which – up to this day – the Moscow Patriarchate still finds itself in.
It must be stressed that these words from Professor Andreev were written in a small official booklet consisting of a collection of texts from
various authors, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of Metropolitan Anastassy as a bishop and issued by Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville in 1956. The pamphlet must, therefore, be said to reflect the general position of ROCOR in earlier days.
The tragedy of the Moscow Patriarchate is that it does not want to get out of that spiritual bondage into which it fell 90 years ago. Their continuous involvement in ecumenism and the justification of Metropolitan Sergius`s path together with their persecution of the True Orthodox Christians, testifies to this fact. Thus, the current path of the Moscow Patriarchate is a deeply deceptive path. Because, as soon as something similar to the Soviet system – or even worse – were to happen, for example the coming of Antichrist, the Moscow Patriarchate as a whole would simply join such a system, having no inner freedom, desire or Grace to go against it. And we, its flock, would follow them right into their damnation.
This aspect is pointed out by the True Orthodox Church in Russia (TOC – Archbishop Tikon) in their Statement of Confession. (emphasis mine):
“…sergianism is the inner preparedness of the Orthodox Christian for compromise with antitheism, and in a broader sense, for compromise with lies, with any evil,..In raising sergianism, that is, compromise with antitheism, into a norm of ecclesiastical life, the Moscow Patriarchate is thereby preparing its flock to recognize the power of the Antichrist as a lawful power, and to accept “the seal on their right hand” (Revel. 13.16). [16p, parag. 5].
ROCOR, as late as 2001, expressed the same concern (emphasis mine): “Although the atheistic Soviet regime of the past no longer exists, and one might assume that Sergianism has likewise passed away together with its founders, in actual fact this is far from the case. One can often hear voices within the Moscow Patriarchate defending the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky), calling it a wise decision, while it was instead a capitulation to the atheistic regime. It is essential to condemn the Declaration, so that a precedent will not be set; lest if (God forbid!) persecutions again arise, it could not be cited as a decision wise in any degree.” [1c, ROCOR-Epistle, 2001].
It is therefore time for both us in Russia and the Diaspora (and of World Orthodoxy) to honestly evaluate the path of our church-leaders. Unfortunately, our worldview and understanding of things is highly formed by the Moscow Patriarchate itself, which makes us almost incapable of
accepting any criticism of them. Such dedication to a church-organization, showing all signs of apostasy, may end in a very sad way. Innocence and sincerity is praiseworthy but it must also be mixed with discernment in order not to lead astray. As Christ Himself says: “Be ye therefore innocent as doves but wise as serpents”.
Saint John of Shanghai
and the Union with the Moscow Patriarchate.
In the process of uniting with the Moscow Patriarchate Saint John of Shanghai has been mentioned several times. It is known that Saint John in 1945 issued a decree of commemorating Patriarch Alexis I and for about two months commemorated His Eminence. This move of St. John has therefore been taken as a sure approval of the union today with the Moscow Patriarchate. But can such an approach be justified? Reading carefully the circumstances in which the decree was given, one is left with the feeling that it cannot.
The decree was issued at the time of World War Two. All five of the six bishops of ROCOR in China had accepted the Moscow Patriarchate and a pressure from them and parts of the Russian colony in Shanghai had been laid on St. John to do the same thing. Because of the war, all contact with the Synod of ROCOR had been lost and St. John therefore agreed temporarily to do so, but demanded to still commemorate Metropolitan Anastassy – First Hierarch of ROCOR. After about two months he received news that the Synod of the Russian Church Abroad still existed and he immediately stopped commemorating the Patriarch
In searching for guidance Father Michael Korjagin stresses the importance, first and foremost, to follow the guidance given by the Church in contradiction to the guidance given from individual persons, even Saints. This has always been the teaching of the Church. Only in the conciliarity of the Church, he says, will the limitations, which even saints have, be avoided in defining the Truth [16m, p. 54, third-last parag.].
One can mention several cases were saints in the course of history have taken a stand contrary to the general position of the Church. One cannot take such actions and turn them into a general, principled and approved position of the entire Orthodox Church. Statements and acts in history are always influenced by the times in which they happened and under the circumstances in which they were done. They must never be applied mechanically to our times and circumstances, and they cannot
always be turned into a general and approved position of the Church. One can perhaps illustrate this by the following small example.
If one were to save a man from drowning by jumping out from a seventy-foot-high cliff into a stormy ocean, does this automatically mean that to jump out from a high cliff in general is a sound thing to do? I think we can all agree that it is not. Only in a specific time and under certain circumstances is it indeed a good and even necessary thing to do. But on another day, under different circumstances and with other people around such an act might even be wrong and wholly dangerous. If, for example, the same person was about to drown on a beautiful sunny day with the sea all calm and a large rescuing squad around him, would it then be considered a good idea to jump from that same cliff in order to save the drowning person? I believe not. Extreme situations demand, as a rule, extreme solutions which cannot be considered to be the norm in normal circumstances.
Having said this, I believe we can draw a small parallel. In the history of ROCOR there have indeed been cases where hierarchs have united with the Moscow Patriarchate. Personally I know only of St. Seraphim (Sobolev) who in 1946 did so, due to the occupation of Romania by the Soviet Union. He decided not to leave his flock. The other case is the present one with St. John. Both decisions were taken under extreme circumstances and required therefore extreme or untraditional solutions. Now, many years later, a certain freedom has been established in Russia. Can we therefore now take the afore-mentioned two cases, which happened under extreme circumstances and apply them to a situation which is not extreme, but more normal in regard to the freedom in Russia? I believe not. The current situation which we are confronted with today – the union with the Moscow Patriarchate – had therefore to be resolved by a more normal and in generally accepted rule suitable for normal circumstances. This rule has always been considered by ROCOR and the Catacomb Church to be the future All-Russian Council.
Furthermore, with what disposition of soul did St. John (and St.Seraphim Sobolev) actually commemorate the Patriarch? In accepting the Moscow Patriarchate, there can be no doubt that he did so without compromising himself. In the book “Man of God: Saint John of San Francisco,” Father Valery Lukianov, a well-respected Protopresbyter in ROCOR/MP, writes (emphasis mine):
“It was likewise difficult for Vladika [John of Shanghai] to orient himself, having no contact with Metropolitan Anastassy, who at that time was restoring the life of the Church Abroad, which had been thrown into disarray by the war. Besides which, Vladika had a trusting soul. Although he was accused of political wavering, in his heart he never betrayed his
convictions, which he demonstrated not only in bringing repentance before the Sobor of Bishops, but in taking charge, as spiritual leader, of the exodus of Russian refugees from China, first to the Philippines and then to America.” [16q-b), p.46, parag. 2: “During the war,…”]
According to these words, we apparently also see testimonies revealing to us that St. John later repented of this act to the Synod of Bishops (commemoration of the Patriarch). According to another testimony, the document written by St. John and testifying to his repentance later disappeared [16m, p. 54: see 16q-a), p. 78 for more detail on this event].
In such case he in fact became an enemy of the Moscow Patriarchate, since he united in an external manner only and not internal. The fact that he suffered persecution from both his former ROCOR-hierarchs and the soviet authorities for commemorating Metropolitan Anastassy and refusing to unite with the Moscow Patriarchate or accept a Soviet passport testifies to this.
In fact, according to an official document, written in 1963 in San Francisco by chairman G.K.Bologov of the Russian Association of Emigrants of Shanghai together with other of its members, St. John never entered into any personal contact with the Moscow Patriarchate and never submitted to it right up to 1949, when he and 6000 Russian refugees left China. [17v, p.33-34. Please see the whole article “The truth about Vladyka John, wonderworker of Shanghai,” p.18-47 (Russian edition), issued by Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov, which reveals a much more detailed and quite different story from what officially has been known].
One must also not forget – as mentioned earlier – that in commemorating the Patriarch, St. John nevertheless did not dismiss the necessity of a future All-Russian Council, where a final evaluation of the Moscow Patriarchate had to take place.
So we see there is a very big difference in just saying that St. John accepted the Moscow Patriarchate and to investigate more closely the circumstances under which such a statement was given. If one is to draw a conclusion from the life of an individual person, it is important to base this conclusion on the general convictions of the given person, accepted throughout his life, rather than on a separate and isolated instance, accepted shortly and later rejected. Applying this approach we come to see a different picture of St. John. Father Michael Korjagin says in this regard:
“Regarding the position of the Moscow Patriarchate, Saint John writes:
“Being part of the Russian Church, we are not able to have any relationships with the church authorities, since it is in submission to and
enslaved by a power wholly hostile to the Church. To be in such submission and dependence – is a condition spiritually unhealthy. It is unnatural for a church authority to be in dependence on an authority whose goal it is to destroy the Church and the very faith in God. Those who find themselves in such dependence cannot avoid feeling the unhealthiness of such a condition. Some, whose consciences are alive, are tormented, others, with a burning conscience, accept such a situation.”
“Let us stop here for a second – continues Father Michael Korjagin – and ask ourselves the question: what would St. John have said in regard to our current fellow brothers of dialogue, who after fourteen years of freedom (2004) are still praising Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) and who do not consider the spiritual submission of the church authorities to an ungodly power to be an “unhealthy and unnatural” situation, but normal and even a “special wisdom.”?
[16m, p. 57, parag. 1, quoted from the book «СЛОВА иже во святых отца нашего Иоанна, Архиепископа Шанхайского и Сан- Франсиского Чудотворца.» p.247. М., 1998, (reprint from «Русский Пастырь», Сан-Франсиско].
In another place he continues, saying that “One must note that, contrary to the conviction of some, St. John does mention the Catacomb Church. When speaking of the general situation in the Soviet Union, St. John says:
“The times of the catacombs have revived for Russia, which it has not earlier known, because it has not earlier experienced persecution for the faith.” [“СЛОВА иже…” p. 212].
“It is here obvious – says Father Michael Korjagin – that St. John sees the existence of the catacombs as something unavoidable in times of persecution. It is exactly the persecuted Church St. John confesses his spiritual unity with.”
Further he quotes St. John of Shanghai, saying that “We remain part of the Russian Church, which is suffering and persecuted and all covered in blood…of an innumerable amount… of the new martyrs. We must be spiritually united with the persecuted, and strengthen them by our prayers. We kiss their chains and grieve over those who are wavering. We know that even the confessors of old times sometimes wavered. But we have examples of steadfastness: Theodore the Studite…Maximus the Confessor…and Patriarch Ermogen. Let us fear to go astray from the path they went, because if we find ourselves under the yoke of justifying human weakness,
then what must we say if we get frightened by just the very threat?” [16m, p.58] [“СЛОВА иже….” pp. 22-23].
“This – says Father Michael Korjagin – is the genuine spiritual position of St. John and his testament to us. Grieving over the fainthearted faithful, and wishing to justify them in all ways, St. John nevertheless confesses his spiritual unity only with those who have suffered for the truth. Their chains he kisses. Their testimony he calls sacred. In their footsteps he is ready to follow, if necessary.”
“Let us hearken to the words of this holy Hierarch. Doing so we will note that those who so hurriedly are striving for a union today (2004), in vain are trying to present St. John as like-minded with them. Rather he is their exposer. In the embrace of Orthodox Tradition and the prophecies of our Saints, St. John saw the genuine “triumph of the restoration of the Russian Church” in the restoration of a Russian State headed by the Tsar, who would be able, as it was in the times of the Ecumenical Councils, to clean the Church of all wrong thinking and impiety.” [16m, p.60-61].
Almost three years have past since the reunification. Contrary to what St. John did, the hierarchs of ROCOR/MP did that which St. John and St. Seraphim (Sobolev) never did – accepting the false spirit and acts of the Moscow Patriarchate and World Orthodoxy. We did not become their opponents in our striving for true Orthodoxy, as they did. On the contrary!
The sincere and pure intentions of a saintly hierarch, made under extreme conditions, have been misused in order to unite with World Orthodoxy. The statement of St. John has been presented outside its context while silencing important aspects of what actually took place. As Protopresbyter Valery Lukianov rightly says:
“Let everyone who reads these testimonies [about St. John during the Second World War in Shanghai], written not by the skills of intrigues, but with blood, decide for himself what kind of person our wonderful St. John was and with what sensitivity and trembling one ought to apply his holy name.”[17v. p.47].
The Spirit of true Orthodoxy.
Up to now the Moscow Patriarchate has been presented in a rather negative light. But one can indeed find expressions which definitely show a much softer attitude towards Metropolitan Sergius and the Moscow Patriarchate. ROCOR is well-known for speaking often quite diplomatically,
which some times can give the impression that we actually did recognize the Moscow Patriarchate itself as our Mother Church and even respected the “podvig” of Metropolitan Sergius. But in this paper I am trying to understand the actual and general view that ROCOR held.
My aim is not only to understand the general position of ROCOR as it was in earlier days, but also to grasp the spirit of true Orthodoxy and how it teaches us to view everything around us. It is my personal feeling that the very learned clergy of ROCOR, which supported the union with the Moscow Patriarchate, have stepped away from this very spirit of true Orthodoxy. By their eloquence they have been able to confuse the actual picture and in fact turn all former understanding of right and wrong in ROCOR – and the Orthodox Church in general – upside down. Many faithful felt strongly the falsehood by which the process of the union was attained. That feeling has never left many of us to this day and it grows even stronger with time.
In order to better understand what the lack of the spirit of Orthodoxy really means, one can look at the following two examples: The acceptance of the New calendar, and the acceptance of the “Declaration” in 1927 by Metropolitan Sergius. Neither of these two acts can, strictly speaking, be said to violate any dogma in regard to the Faith. But they are clearly in contrast to the spirit of Orthodoxy and violating the moral aspect of faithfulness to Christ and his Church, together with the dogma of the sacred unity of the Church and its freedom. Even though they are both said to be (supposedly) of secondary importance, since neither of them are directed essentially against the Faith itself, we understand today quite clearly the dramatic consequences these two acts have played, and are playing, in destroying the Orthodox Church. It is in this spirit that ecumenism and modernism have been accepted, and it will be in this very same spirit that the Antichrist joyously will also be accepted. Such a disposition of man is exactly what the evil spirits are trying to achieve, since in this way Orthodoxy will still look authentic on the surface, while inside it will be full of decay, leading people to complete apostasy without their even realizing it. This false Orthodoxy is precisely what Father Seraphim Rose spoke about (emphasis Father Seraphim): “The apostasy – he says – of our times, to a degree unique in Christian history, is proceeding not primarily by false teachings or canonical deviations, but rather by a false understanding of Orthodoxy on the part of those who may even be perfectly Orthodox in their dogmatic teaching and canonical situation. A correct “Orthodoxy” deprived of the spirit of true Christianity – this is the meaning of Sergianism, and it cannot be fought by calling it a “heresy,” which it is not, nor by detailing its
canonical irregularities, which are only incidental to something much more important.” [17j, p. 257, parag. 2].
This “correct “Orthodoxy” deprived of the spirit of true Christianity” is what ROCOR/MP and the Moscow Patriarchate have accepted.
And so, many in ROCOR are still suffering from deep frustration and confusion. On the altar of obedience they have been asked to accept falsehood as the criterion for Truth. By falsehood is naturally not meant the union itself, which we all long for, but the denial of what has always been the traditional path of the Orthodox Church. All that we have always believed in and have accepted as a standard of Truth crumbles now under our feet.
The mind and soul have gone into a fierce battle. On one hand we hear the arguments, so convincing, and logically we are almost forced to agree with what is said, but on the other hand the soul is languishing and cries out that something is completely wrong. That is why one of the main struggles of ROCOR/MP today is to fight our conscience. Because the mind and eyes can more easily be controlled than the conscience, since the conscience is under the direct influence of God Himself and not man. One of the ways to do so is through our rejection of the Old Calendar Churches and “obedience,” not to God but to the Church authorities of the apostatizing World Orthodoxy. The loss of this spirit has now become wide spread in World Orthodoxy. Father Seraphim Rose mentions this: “The real crisis of Orthodoxy today lies in the loss of the savor of True Christianity. This savor has been largely lost not only by the Moscow hierarchs, but by most of the Russian “dissidents” as well, as likewise by the “Paris” school of émigré theologians, by the apostate Patriarch of Constantinople and all who follow him, by new calendarists and renovationists and modernists of every sort, and by the simple people everywhere who imagine they are Orthodox because their fathers were or because they belong to a “canonical church organization [12p, p. 242, last parag].
When Antichrist will appear it will be neither our minds nor our eyes or ears which will be able to tell us where the truth is, but only our conscience through an experience of the savor and true spirit of Orthodoxy. Without this fundamental part of true Orthodoxy, World Orthodoxy – notwithstanding its “canonicity, correctness and even a strong stand in “traditional” Orthodoxy – is doomed to accept Antichrist.
Has the Moscow Patriarchate changed?
It is said that the Moscow Patriarchate has changed. But having read the above-mentioned words from the late Patriarch Alexis II in 2007 and of the current Patriarch Kirill, this seems to lack any serious foundation. A statue of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) has been erected in his hometown. The books The Keeper of the House of God (2003) and Patriarch Kirill: his Life and Worldview glorify the memory and path of both Metropolitan Sergius and the whole Moscow Patriachate. The Moscow Patriarchate (together now with ROCOR/MP) defrocks its own bishops for raising serious problems and is still participating in the WCC and other ecumenical organizations. It has tightened its bonds even more with the current Russian – and some would say – anti-Christian and criminal government. It was through President Putin – head of FSB (KGB) – and in cooperation with the Moscow Patriarchate, that the union was established. They made (and are continuing to make) ROCOR naively believe that ROCOR was (is) actually held in honor and esteem, while in reality the Moscow Patriarchate never considered it a union between two equal sister- Churches, but rather the return of the schismatic Karlovits group to the Mother Church.
The Moscow Patriarchate (and now ROCOR/MP) – as we see it today – is not capable at all of showing us the true path to salvation. For this we need a Russian Church willing to cut ties – once and for all – with the ideals of Sergianism and ecumenism. Only a strong and pious Tsar, which we are all praying for, seems to be able to cut through all this falsehood and create the foundation for a true Russian Orthodox Church, around which we will all be able to unite. When that happens, will ROCOR/MP, with a clear conscience, be able to look straight into his eyes?
The Election of a new Russian Patriarch.
At the recent election of the new Patriarch of the Moscow Patriarchate, one was witness to a most strange event. Thus, one saw how Metropolitan Kirill was left as almost the only candidate. One of the two other candidates (Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk) suddenly stepped aside and suggested the delegates give Metropolitan Kirill his votes. One seminarian here from Russia and loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate, a pious young man, was very sad to hear that they were not going to draw lots, and he was somewhat shocked to hear otherwise. Even such an option was resolutely rejected by Metropolitan Kirill and thus showed even more the
fruits of the Moscow Patriarchate. It also showed that the Russian episcopate is still lying in spiritual bondage, having no power or wish to lead the Church in Russia onto a salvific path.
Seeing the process of the election, it is therefore hard to have any hopes for the future and to believe that the Moscow Patriarchate has in fact changed at all. As said earlier, it seems that it has even become worse.
Notwithstanding all the fine qualities of the newly-elected Patriarch, what the Russian Church is in need of is not a good administrator and politician, though he may be even an excellent one, powerful, eloquent and intelligent, and able to establish an external order and unity, as did Metropolitan Sergius, but a holy Elder, who will walk the straight, uncompromising and honest path of the True Orthodox Christians. This did not happen because both ROCOR/MP and the Moscow Patriarchate – not to mention the faithful in Russia itself – completely rejected the opportunity to rightly evaluate the past seventy years of falsehood as has been discussed earlier, and, once and for all, break the bondage into which we have fallen.
The “Social Concept” of 2000.
Referring to the supposed repentance of the Moscow Patriarchate outlined in the “Social Concept” of 2000, Father Michael Korjagin says: “Some will argue that the “Social Concept” of 2000 clearly rejects sergianism. But this document does not even mention the “Declaration” or the soviet system. Nothing concrete is mentioned neither about the first nor the second. There is no condemnation of sergianism as a spiritual subordination of the hierarchy to this power. There is no repentance for the lies about the Soviet system or for the Patriarchate`s collaboration with it. The document is only outlining the general principles of the relationship between the Church and the State, which are well known to us and which have been mentioned many times before by the holy Fathers, Byzantine thinkers and in apostolic writings. It is not possible to “cross out” a concrete deed and act by general principles. A sin is corrected and abolished only by the acknowledgement of this same sin, and the confession of truth which must be diametrically opposite to this sin” [16m, p.9, middle].
The “Social Concept” states only [III, 5] that if the government forces the faithful to go against Christ and His Church they must reject such a compromise [16o-2, p.168. parag. 1]. It does not specifically mention the Declaration and did not categorize it as a completely unacceptable deed, as
it should have. Instead it avoids it quite elegantly. The reason why, is that the path of Metropolitan Sergius simply is not considered by the Moscow Patriarchate to go against Christ and His Church. In doing so, they consciously left the doors wide open for a similar acceptance in the future.
One must further keep in mind, as said earlier, that in order to be truly Orthodox it is not enough to agree to an Orthodox general teaching, while still clinging to another wholly false teaching. One m u s t still reject everything which the Church has also rejected throughout its history.
The Consequences of non-Repentance.
Archpriest Lev Lebedev (ROCOR, who died in 1997) said that there is only one worthy way out of our misfortunes, and that is a sincere repentance of Sergianism and ecumenism, both of which the Moscow Patriarchate has taken part in. Thus, he says, it is the Moscow Patriarchate, which is the real cause of a schism in the one Russian Orthodox Church.
For the time being, he says, it is clear that the Moscow Patriarchate has no intention of any repentance. If such stubbornness will continue, and repentance will not be seen, the Moscow Patriarchate will eventually join those new political forces in its service, which will appear after the fall of the Soviet System and which will be bearers of the spirit of evil. [16m-1, p. 53 and 16l, p.28]. As we now see, the words of Father Lev have become a reality. But even more astonishing are the following words of Father Lev:
“One can with a great deal of certainty assume that in the case of a political change – the fall of the Soviet System – the Moscow Patriarchate will, in letter only, reject the “Declaration” of Metropolitan Sergius, putting all the blame on the regime of Stalin. They will perhaps even canonize the New Martyrs of Russia, including the Royal Family. Perhaps they will even go so far as to curse the communists, whenever this will be allowed by the new System. But the Moscow Patriarchate will never reject the path of ecumenism and the service of the spirit of evil, in whatever concrete political forms it will take. In order to achieve this a real and sincere repentance is required” [16m, p.54 and 16l, pp. 28-29].
“All of this – says Father Michael Korjagin – is happening right in front of our very own eyes. The New Martyrs have been canonized. One hears critical voices in regard to the “Declaration,” even though with reservations of justification. We hear the truth concerning the persecution of
the Church in Russia by the godless authorities. But the Moscow Patriarchate has evidently no intention of leaving the ecumenical movement, as well as changing their support for and approval of any political powers in Russia, whatever they may be. And what is most sad, together with all of this, we see a complete lack of any intonations of repentance, as though the whole terrible 20th century was only some “triumphal procession” of the Moscow Patriarchate to the present “Triumph of Orthodoxy” [16m, p.54].
I n The Orthodox Word we read further that “If normal Orthodox Church life is not restored to Russia, the Moscow Patriarchate will follow the path of Roman Catholicism and eventually wither and die in apostasy, and the innocent people who follow it will find themselves beyond any doubt outside the Church of Christ. And then it will only be those who are with the True-Orthodox Christians of Russia who will still be in the Church’s saving enclosure.” [12p, p. 242, parag. 1, last 6 lines].
We can now see how prophetic the words of Father Lev Lebedev and Father Seraphim Rose have become. The Moscow Patriarchate, together with other Orthodox Patriarchates are indeed in the process of uniting with the Roman Catholic Church. This shows further that even though the Moscow Patriarchate (together with the ROCOR/MP) may claim that they have changed and repented, their deeds tell us something else.
ROCOR/MP – before and now.
The Epistle 2001 of the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR.
In 2001, the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR stated in an Epistle that
“During these days of universal apostasy, which, through the pan-heresy of ecumenism, has even infected most of the Local Orthodox Churches, we must stand united, that the enemy of our salvation may not use our divisions to destroy the voice of our confession in the homeland and the diaspora.” [1a, p.26, left column, last parag, line 5].
Because, says the Epistle: “there can be no outward unity if there is no unity in the Truth.” [1a, p. 26, left column, parag. 4, line 3].
This Epistle was signed by bishops, all later supporters of joining World Orthodoxy (with the exception of Metropolitan Vitaly).
Why did ROCOR wish to join these ”Local Orthodox Churches,” when they had declared them to be infected by apostasy only 6 years earlier? And why do they now concelebrate with ecumenical Orthodox clergy, who do not have the same ”unity in the Truth,” as ROCOR/MP claims to have? And if ROCOR once believed, that ”we must stand united, then why did we, on one hand, ever split with the traditional Orthodox Old Calendar Churches, who do have the voice of [a true] confession – as we ourselves believed them to have, thus breaking down our unity – and instead now follow ecumenical Orthodox Churches, so the enemy of our salvation now, on the contrary, joyously uses our divisions to destroy the voice of our confession in the homeland and the Diaspora?
The stand of Father Seraphim Rose in regard to “World Orthodoxy” was quite clear and not to be misunderstood (emphasis Fr. Seraphim):
“Just as in the days of St. Maximus the Confessor, let us also “have in our heart whatever faith we want,” but “be silent about our differences for the sake of the peace of the Church.”…With what “mercy” and “love” this offer of “eucharistic communion” is made, in the interest of bringing back the Russian Church Outside of Russia into communion with “World Orthodoxy” – that apostate “Orthodoxy” which has lost the savor of Christianity – and deprive it precisely of solidarity with the True-Orthodox
Church of Russia.” The devil himself could not have devised a slyer, more “innocent” temptation, which plays so strongly on the emotions and on humanitarian motives.” [12p, p.244, parag. 3: “Indeed, such…”].
From this it is clear that having united with World Orthodoxy, we have done exactly what Fr. Seraphim believed to be a temptation, which plays so strongly on the emotions,…and which even the devil himself could not have devised more slyer. The results of this temptation are that we have deprived ourselves of solidarity with the Old Calendar believers.
The Russian Church Abroad
under His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel.
Regarding the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia under His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel, how can one say that they (and other Old Calendar Churches) are graceless schismatics, just because they are not following World Orthodoxy? These Old Calendar faithful are in fact trying to uphold the traditional beliefs of the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church has always said no to the New calendar. It has always taught against uniting with heretics or even having joint prayers with them. It has always held to the belief that we should not join the strong of this world in order to avoid persecution for the sake of Christ. These essential foundations of the Orthodox Church are being preserved by the True Orthodox Christians, while World Orthodoxy is now rejecting them.
The defrocking of His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel.
Our Synod of Bishops decided in September 2009 to defrock His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel, First Hierarch of ROCOR(A), since they believe His Eminence broke without good cause and therefore created “a rebellion.” The following four points will help determine whether or not the defrocking can be justified.
1) ROCOR/MP publicly serves with the Antiochian Orthodox Church, which is officially in complete union with a Monophysite Church and partially with the Roman Catholic Church. We also officially concelebrate with the OCA and the Patriarchate of Constantinople which both publicly preach the heresy of Ecumenism.
2) We have prematurely – before the All-Russian Council – united with the Moscow Patriarchate which further publicly serves with all the ecumenical Orthodox Churches, which officially is a full member of the WCC and other ecumenical organizations and which, up to this day, has yet not fully rejected the path of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky).
3) We publicly renounce our former stand of separation from the Moscow Patriarchate. We have also completely accepted the Moscow Patriarchate as the true Mother-Church of Russia.
4) We publicly show our sympathy to Churches which are officially preaching the heresy of Ecumenism. Similarly we lend our support to and take part in the false path of World Orthodoxy by our concelebrating with the aforementioned ecumenical Orthodox Churches, and by our non- acceptance of the sober Old Calendar Churches with which we once were in union.
Bishop Nikodim of Dalmatia, in his interpretation of the 15th Canon of the First and Second Council in Constantinople says (emphasis mine):
“But if any of the bishops, metropolitans or patriarchs begins to preach any heretical teaching, contrary to the teaching of the Orthodox Faith, then the rest of the clergy has all right and are even obliged to separate themselves immediately from these bishops…”.
Thus, Metropolitan Agafangel has followed the Biblical injunction—
We command you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from all brethren that walk disorderly, and not after the tradition that you have received from us (II Thes. 3: 6).
It was for this reason thatROCOR/MP decided to defrock Metropolitan Agafangel. The words of Father Seraphim Rose, in his defense of the Catacomb Church in Russia, help us to understand whether or not Metropolitan Agafangel today – and other Old Calendar Synods with him – has a right to separate himself from an ecclesiastical body which officially preaches heresy (emphasis mine):
“Today , it is true, the Moscow Patriarchate allows Roman Catholics to receive its Sacraments and implicitly already teaches the ecumenist doctrine that these Catholics too are “part of the Church.” But this fact only shows how far the Moscow Patriarchate has departed from the universal Orthodox tradition of the Church into an erroneous ecclesiology,
and how correct the True-Orthodox Church is in refusing to have communion with an ecclesiastical body which not only allows its policies to be dictated by atheists, but openly preaches the modern heresies of ecumenism and chiliasm.” [12p, p. 242, parag. 1].
One should also keep in mind that ROCOR/MP has united not only with the Moscow Patriarchate but with the whole of World Orthodoxy – a body which officially is clearly stepping away from the Truth. Officially we claim ourselves to be against ecumenism and Sergianism. But all of this is only appearance. Reality shows another, more sinister, picture. There are many ways in which one can preach heresy, just as there are many ways in which one can be an accomplice of murder without even raising a hand or uttering one word. As Professor Ivan Andreyev says: “In order to perform a betrayal of Christ, one need not declare oneself His enemy; one need not even slander Him. A kiss is sufficient.” [17j, p.533, second last parag.].
Without making any overstatements, one can firmly testify to the fact that we, together with the Moscow Patriarchate and World Orthodoxy, are participating – directly or indirectly – in heresy. It is therefore without any valid ground for defrocking His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel. On the contrary, he rightly decided to avoid any contact with heresy and simply decided to stay with those Old Calendar Churches with which we were formerly in union. His purpose with doing so is simply to stay true to the traditional path of ROCOR, without deviating either to the right or to the left.
How ROCOR looked upon the Moscow Patriarchate.
In this respect it would be most edifying to listen to the actual understanding ROCOR had of the Moscow Patriarchate in earlier days. At the opening of the Synod of Bishops in October 1959, Metropolitan Anastassy said the following:
“We must follow the example of the Holy Hierarchs of Moscow, whose Feast we celebrated today. They stand in front of us as Orthodox zealots, and we are obliged to follow their example, in all ways avoiding the impiety of those who currently have mounted their throne. O, should they rise up today, they would not only not recognize their succession, but would also attack them with threatening words of exposure. With great zeal the holy Hierarch Philip would flare up against the faint-heartedness of Church-representatives, who with indifference look at how the innocent
blood of their flock is shed. They do not only not expose the enemies of the Church, but even try in all ways to flatter the ungodly Soviet power. The great pillar Patriarch Germogen, would flare up, seeing how the hierarchs cunningly keep silent while the ungodly propaganda is unfolding right in front of them, forgetting that, by their silence, God is betrayed. Let us in all ways avoid them, but also arm ourselves with apostolic zeal. We must shun as plague any relations with them. You know that these people with a burned conscience will never end their battle against us, even though they constantly change the form of battle. Sometimes they fight us directly, sometimes they make a turning movement, in order to hide their true intentions. Sometimes they take on the appearance of an angel of light, in order to entice, if possible, even the elect. Unfortunately, many do not understand this and fall into their nets.” [16u, p.1-2].
How would Metropolitan Anastassy, together with the holy Hierarchs of Moscow, view the reunification with a Patriarchate which still shows no repentance for its former path? Ironically, it was an immediate successor of these unrepentant hierarchs whom ROCOR in 2007 accepted as a true and lawful Patriarch of the Russian Church. It was yet another of their immediate successors, who led the funeral of the late Metropolitan Laurus a year later in 2008.
The Anathema against Ecumenism.
I would also like to refer to the well known Anathema against the heresy of ecumenism, issued in 1983 by ROCOR. In view of what has been presented in this paper, how are we now to understand the following words:
”…Therefore, to those who knowingly have communion with these afore-mentioned heretics or who advocate, disseminate, or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians, Anathema!” .
Having served with various ecumenical Orthodox Churches, it is hard to now deny that we are communing with heretics, indirectly or perhaps even directly, and are defending their heresy by knowingly joining them in communion and cordially fraternizing with them under the pretext of brotherly love, instead of exposing their heretical acts and views.
One must remember that the Orthodox Church, solemnly and with the sound of the trumpet, rejects all heresy on the day of Triumph of Orthodoxy. This is the very day when God Himself makes a clear statement, eliminating
all heresy, falsehood and everything else which presents a threat to Orthodoxy.
Almost all of the Churches of World Orthodoxy are gradually stepping away from the Truth. The Church leaders who are advocating these ecumenical dialogues and other kinds of falsehood mentioned here, can therefore justly be called enemies of Christ by leading the Orthodox believers into complete apostasy. It is due time for all Orthodox Christians to say stop. It is due time for us to firmly reject all those hierarchs and their followers who are leading us away from Christ and His Church. Therefore “let the canonical principle be enforced, which says: he who communes with the excommunicated is likewise excommunicated – in other words, ceasing to commemorate bishops, who are co-responsible for, and co- communicants with, heresy and delusion.” [7h, see p.12].
It is therefore time for all of us – Archimandrites, abbots, hieromonks, monks, nuns, deacons and all faithful both abroad and in Russia to speak up and let the church leaders understand that we will not accept their betrayal of Orthodoxy. Let no one think for one second that this is harmful to the Church. On the contrary! It will do the Church and ourselves much good as long as we act with humility, love and sobriety. Let us not allow fear or the comfort of this world to silence our voice of confession any longer, and allow it to turn us into pitiful caricatures of followers of Christ.
The upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council.
Having united with World Orthodoxy, ROCOR/MP entered an abyss of a multitude of interfaith dialogues, eventually turning into a complex ecumenical web, in which none of us need be entangled. A part of this web is the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council. The agenda for the preparatory Pan- Orthodox Councils has 10 paragraphs [18a]. Issues are raised, which call for serious concern among the traditional Orthodox faithful. I will focus on a few of these paragraphs:
Paragraph 5. Establishing a Common Calendar for Feasts.
This paragraph is closely connected with organizations opposed to Orthodoxy. In 1997 the WCC and MECC held a consultation at Aleppo, Syria, where they issued a “Proposal toward a Common Date of Easter” [18b-1, 18b-2]. The consultation was hosted by the Syrian Monophysite Church and among the participants were also the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Moscow Patriarchate, The Antiochian Orthodox Church and the OCA [18b-1, at the end: Participants] [18b-2, last parag.].
If we now turn to the agenda of the Preparatory Councils, it asks for a common date for Feasts, which practically speaking is the same as a common date for Easter. In reading the Proposal, one sees how the participants are obviously trying to deceive their readers into accepting something which a traditional Orthodox Christian believer cannot accept. Here I will briefly sum up the essence of the report without distorting either the meaning or the spirit of it.
The Proposal says there is a ”growing urgency” to find a common date in order for all Christian Churches to be able to give a ‘united witness to the resurrection of Christ’ [18b-1, pts. 1 and 19]. The arguments for a common date are taken from the Scriptures and focus naturally on the day of Easter, the resurrection of Christ:
”[The Resurrection] is a victory which marks the beginning of a new era, [and] is the ultimate expression of the Father`s gift of reconciliation and unity in Christ through the Spirit…a unity and reconciliation which God wills for the entire creation.” [18b-1, pt. 5].
What the Proposal here clearly wants to conclude, is that even God Himself commands both Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians to establish a common date for Easter. The argument here for a common date is Christ’s
Resurrection through which all mankind is reconciled with God. So in order to make our unity complete in Christ and thus complete the work of God’s reconciliation, we must – they argue – join around a common date for Easter. They use the Holy Scripture – as a sure and beloved source for all of us – for their unholy goal. In order to additionally persuade the faithful that a common date is sanctioned by God, they also refer to the early Apostolic Church “which was first and foremost the community of the resurrection… and which therefore focused on God`s reconciling love” [18b-1, pt. 6, line 4- 5].
Using concepts which are dear to us all, we are eloquently being persuaded into accepting a clearly unacceptable issue. In order for us to focus on ”God`s reconciling love,” as did the early Apostolic Church, all Christians today also have to ”first and foremost [be a] community of the resurrection,” which – according to the Proposal – will come about only through the acceptance of a common date of Easter.
They then begin to draw a most strange parallel between their consultation and the Council of Nicea 325, since this Council (in 325) also strove for unity among the various local Orthodox Churches in the matter of a common date of Easter:
”The Council of Nicea`s decisions are expressive of the desire for unity, and – the report concludes – was aware that disunity in such a central matter was a cause of scandal.” [18b-1, pt. 10b, first and last line].
Obviously, the Proposal wants to tell its readers that if we were to reject an ecumenical unity, this would be ”a cause of scandal…in such a central matter…” Finally the Consultation ends its report hoping, that “the establishment of a common date of Easter will happen as soon as possible… as a step towards preparing for a united witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” [18b-1, pt. 16 and pt. 19].
Let me briefly point to some important aspects – from a traditional and true Orthodox point of view.
First, the acceptance of a new Paschalion has always been rejected and anathematized by the Orthodox Church, since the purpose of such an innovation is clearly to “overthrow and destroy the doctrines and customs of the Church which we have inherited from our Fathers.” [16h, Sigillion of 1583 by the Eastern Patriarchs. See p.15 in this paper].
Secondly, one must keep in mind who actually issued this report. It was an ultra ecumenical organization, from where only an anti-Orthodox
position can be expected. It should also be remembered that the heretical Encyclical of 1920 has this very same proposal for a common date on the very top of its list [19e, parag. 7, point a]. One should also not forget the uncanonical Pan-Orthodox Congress in 1923, which actually implemented the new Gregorian calendar among the Orthodox Churches. [18g-2, parag. 12]. One must also keep in mind who it is who actually is pushing for a Pan- Orthodox Council – namely the Patriarchs Bartholomew and Kirill, who are both known to highly support ecumenical dialogues in both their ways.
Thirdly, as their main support for a common date, the Proposal focuses on the unity of Christians, based on the ‘Father`s gift of reconciliation” with mankind “and unity in Christ” for a common witness to the world. Thus referring to true Orthodox-Christian unity in Christ, commanded by God Himself, they argue for a false unity among Orthodox and non-Orthodox Churches. In a similar way, they refer to the Nicean Council in 325, where the problem with a common date also was being resolved for the sake of unity. However, one cannot compare the unity among true Orthodox Churches back in 325 with a wholly false unity between Orthodox and heretical Churches today. If unity of Orthodoxy was actually what concerned the faithful, then let those who in fact are the cause of the divisions – namely the New Calendar Orthodox and non-Orthodox Churches – come back to the Old Church calendar, as was the normal practice for more than 1500 hundred years.
Fourthly, God Himself has several times blessed specifically the Old Calendar while paying no attention to the New Calendar. The Holy Fire appearing every year is just one and an extremely strong example. It never happens on the Latin Holy Saturday except when that coincides with the Orthodox Holy Saturday. Another strong and well known example was in 1925 when the Holy Cross in Greece appeared over an Old Calendar Church – the church of St. John the Theologian in suburban Athens – celebrating the feast of the Exaltation of the All-Honourable and lifegiving Cross of our Savior. Also at the Feast of Transfiguration a cloud every year miraculously appears over the Church on Mount Tabor – on the Old Calendar date.
Fiftly, the Orthodox Julian Calendar is not just a simple formal calendar which can be replaced mechanically. Through its use over many centuries it has become sanctified, similar to when a simple piece of wood – used for an icon – turns into a holy object and even into a wonder-working icon. Nobody in his right mind would throw a blessed, wonder-working icon
out for a brand new icon painted on a piece of new wood, even though this icon would be without cracks and of much higher quality.
Sixthly, the Church Calendar has, in our times of severe apostasy, become a strong symbol of traditional and true Orthodoxy. It is all too obvious – and the report does not hide this fact – that the actual reason for a new calendar, common to both the Orthodox and non-orthodox Christian Churches, is to create a strong base for a future full communion in one heretical pan-Christian Church.
It is very sad to see, that the Moscow Patriarchate and other Orthodox Churches endorse such a betrayal of true Orthodoxy. It is worthy of mentioning, that this Proposal is being supported by all the ecumenical minded Orthodox faithful, while rejected by the true Orthodox believers.
To show even more clearly the un-Orthodox approach of this paragraph and perhaps even the whole agenda, one needs only to glance at the uncanonical Pan-Orthodox Congress in 1923, mentioned above. Here we find the exact same three paragraphs as presented in the Preparatory Agenda. (5, 6 and 7) [18g-2, parag. 12]:
1) of a common date.
2) of impediments to marriage. 3) of the fasts.
Seeing such a connection between the Preparatory Agenda of 2009 and the WCC/MECC Consultation in 1997, together with the uncanonical Pan-Orthodox Congress in 1923, one naturally begins to fear whether all of the paragraphs of the Agenda do not also stem from the very same un- Orthodox forces, which obviously have beset these Orthodox Churches. One naturally also begins to fear that this Pan-Orthodox Council is perhaps altogether being established by forces eager to destroy Orthodoxy completely.
Paragraph 7: The Question of fasting in the contemporary world.
Regarding questions of fasting, all Orthodox Christians, after 2000 years of practicing, already know what the Church says about fasting. We have always been taught to fast according to the teaching of the Church, instead of according to the world. That is the teaching of the Orthodox Church and we are not in need of knowing more than this.
Paragraph 8: Relationships with the other Christian confessions.
The Orthodox Church has always considered all other Christian confessions to be heretical. We must love all men – non-Orthodox Christians as well as non-Christians – and always treat them with equal love and sincerity, but still, they must be baptized into the Orthodox Church in order to have any spiritual communion with us.
Paragraph 9: The Ecumenical movement.
Such a paragraph, from a true Orthodox stand, is wholly superfluous. According to traditional Orthodox teaching, any involvement in the ecumenical movement is unacceptable. It is deeply heretical and goes against all that the Orthodox Church stands for.
Having thus all the multitude of ecumenical reports, statements, documents etc. between the Orthodox and non-Orthodox Churches in mind, carefully prepared through the last few decades, and now just waiting to be given the final official approval by World Orthodoxy for full communion, such a historic Pan-Orthodox Council could certainly come to play an extremely unpleasant role for the Orthodox Church, and eventually lead it into complete apostasy and final gracelessness. Such an approval is perhaps exactly what many are waiting for. The above-mentioned paper, Practical Steps towards Unity, written by the Antiochian Orthodox priest Fr. Theodore Pulcini points in this direction. Speaking about a regional union between his own Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church (as explained in chapter one) both of which have their Patriarchates located in Syria, he says (emphasis mine):
”The late Father John Meyendorff [OCA] recognized this sort of regional union as a means to a broader union between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox. He clearly considered formal proclamation at a Great Council to be the most proper means of achieving union, he admitted that “the history of the Church has also known precedents for initiatives taken regionally… [20a, parag. 5].
Having entered into communion with Orthodox Churches, which officially have accepted heresy, and – what is even worse – slowly are adopting their way of thinking, one can fear that we soon will have neither intellectual nor spiritual power to stand up for the Truth. Theoretically, perhaps, we will not agree to the decisions, and maybe even sign various
documents defending Orthodoxy, but having become one of them, we lose both our willpower and discernment, with the consequence that we silently will accept and agree to whatever is decided.
In 1968, when Patriarch Athenagoras announced a “Great Synod, for the unity of all Christian churches,” Metropolitan Philaret, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia, replied with a firm letter of warning:
“Not every convocation of a Council calls forth joy, and not every Great Council, however many representatives of autocephalous Churches may have attended it, has been honored by the recognition of the Church… For this, every new Council must be in full accord with all previous Ecumenical Councils.” An Ecumenical Council is convened “in order to condemn and eliminate, in agreement with ancient tradition, innovation in the form of arbitrary doctrine, which is the fruit of human pride, of compliance with the mighty of this world, or of accommodation of the Church to a wide-spread error…” [17r].
Father Seraphim Rose characterizes the true essence of such a Council, which he calls the “Eighth Ecumenical Council”:
“Probably, indeed, it is already too late to prevent the renovationist “Eighth Ecumenical Council” and the “ecumenical” Union which lies beyond it; but perhaps one or more of the Local Churches may yet be persuaded to step back from this ruinous path which will lead to the final liquidation (as Orthodox) of those jurisdictions that follow it to the end; and in any case, individuals and whole communities can certainly be saved from this path, not to mention those of the heterodox who may still find their way into the saving enclosure of the true Church of Christ.”[7m, parag.9].
We will be forced to take a stand. Are we with Christ or are we against Him? If we believe ourselves to be with Him, are we then spiritually prepared to act according to our beliefs?
What we could and should do.
In connection with the above-mentioned preparatory meetings, we now have a good opportunity to be true to our promise of supporting the traditional standpoint of Orthodoxy. It would be highly desired if ROCOR/MP brought up some of the more grave problems which have been
lying heavily on World Orthodoxy the last many decades. These problems are among others:
We should make our stand known and firm. Up till now our voice has been quiet and timid. To point out the more positive, it is definitely a good sign that we still believe “Ecumenism to be a stumbling block to us and that we would like World Orthodoxy to rethink their position.” It also gives hope to see The Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism from the Convention of Orthodox Clergymen and Monks (2009) being signed by bishops, monastics and clergy from World Orthodoxy. But can these words be taken seriously if we nevertheless joyously continue to serve and fraternize with the very same ecumenical and even heretical Orthodox Churches and scorn the Old Calendar Churches?
The communion of the Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria with the Monophysites.
Such a union must categorically be rejected as it has always been by the holy Fathers of the Church.
The acceptance of the New Calendar.
The only true Orthodox Stand is a complete rejection of the New Calendar and a return to the Old Church Calendar, as it was before 1924. To accept the New Calendar is to accept schism and heresy.
The acceptance of the Declaration of 1927 and the path of Metropolitan Sergius.
Up to this time a firm and uncompromising standpoint, neither in word nor deed, has not yet been displayed by the Moscow Patriarchate.
Father Michael Korjagin points to this fact. He stresses the essential requirement of unequivocal condemnation and repentance of the historical act of Sergianism and not just a formal proclamation of some abstract, even though true, principles between the Church and State as has been seen in the Social Concept of 2000 [16m, p. 25, parag. 5].
This same essential requirement is seen in the Confessional and Ecclesiological Foundations of the Russian True Orthodox Church (TOC):
“We affirm that true Orthodoxy in our suffering Fatherland cannot be regenerated without a consciousness of the sergianist fall and without repentance for this fall.” [16p].
The issue of Sergianism, therefore, cannot be swept aside as something insignificant in the past. This is clearly understood by Father Michael Korjagin, who states that “sergianism is not only an agreement with the godless ones, but also a justification of such an agreement. Sergianism belongs therefore not only to the past, but also to the present, and not only to Canon Law but also to Dogmatics, as a sin and error against faith in the Church (the 9. member of the Symbol of Faith). It was exactly in this form sergianism was anathematized by the Catacomb Church.” [16m, p. 20, parag.1].
Thus, being faithful to our promises, we now have an opportunity to raise our voice in the defense of the truth. This is our obligation as mentioned by Fr. Seraphim Rose:
“Is it not time at last, then, for the True-Orthodox Christians of the free world to raise their voices in defense of the trampled-down Truth? Is it only the persecuted Orthodox in Russia who have the courage to speak boldly against the lies and hypocrisies of the Church leaders and proclaim their separateness, on grounds of Truth and Orthodox principles, from the apostate hierarchs? As a matter of Church principle, the question is in reality the same here as there; the only difference is that in the Soviet Union the hierarchs participate in apostasy ostensibly under the dictatorship of atheists, whereas in the free world the hierarchs do the same thing freely.” [12p, p. 245, parag.2].
Dialogues of Peace and Unity.
It is quite characteristic of the present day ecumenical movement and political agendas to speak about love and peace. One sees that both Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christians, together with secular and political organizations all over the world, are emphasizing this aspect. This is what pushes for One World Order, for one United Church so there can be ‘a common witness of God to the whole world in order for peace and love to prevail among all men.’ As the Encyclical of 1920 says:
“Above all, love should be rekindled among the churches, so that they should no more consider one another as strangers and foreigners, but as relatives and… ‘fellow heirs, members of the same body and partakers of the promise of God in Christ’ (Eph.3.6).” [19e, parag.6].
Archbishop Averky of Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, addressed our attention to this phenomena already 50 years ago, saying:
“Peace!..peace!..peace!..is heard now from every side” “mutual disarmament!..peaceful coexistence!..we shall struggle for peace!..
“Can one in general believe that any sort of secure and reliable peace can be established on earth with the crude flouting of God`s Truth, with the lies and hypocrisy which are so clearly characteristics of the life of modern mankind?” [17h, p.11]
Let me illustrate how this aspect is seen both in the secular and ecclesiastical world.
The World Conference on Dialogue in Madrid 2008.
In 2008 a World Conference on Dialogue was held in Madrid, Spain, by the Muslim World League. The Conference aimed at promoting dialogue between the world’s main religions. More than 200 leaders of different religions, including Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Marxism attended the three-day Conference [18c]. Representatives from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Coptic Church participated. From the Moscow Patriarchate participated Patriarch Alexis II and Metropolitan Kirill together with other delegates [18e, List of Invitees of World Conference for Dialogue, no. 7-8 and 128-132].
The very reason for convening the Conference is the growing suffering of mankind [18e, parag. 1]. The cure for this suffering is dialogue. Thus we read in the section ”About the Conference” (emphasis mine):
“The whole world looks forward to the followers and leaders of religions and cultures to make substantial contribution in the salvation of mankind from the dangers that surround it and threaten its future…”[18e, parag 2].
The Madrid Declaration states that “Built on the agreement among the followers of religions and leading cultures…the value of dialogue is the best way to achieve…peaceful coexistence among nations” [18d, parag. 7].
These two quotes show us fairly well the essence of this Conference. One naturally wonders about the words “salvation of mankind.” Likewise we see how the suffering of mankind is used as a platform for uniting. Thus, in the section ”About the Conference” we read that “The UN has adopted 2001 as Dialogue Year Among Civilizations…This confirms the fact that the nations all over the world desire the process of holding and supporting dialogue as well as rejecting the calls for conflict and clash of civilizations.” [18e, 6. parag].
And who does not want peace? But as Christians, the peace we seek is primarily directed towards an inward peace, according to the words of Christ Himself – the Kingdom of Heaven is within you. Our peace and salvation does not come from various ecumenical dialogues or political agendas, but from Christ Himself and our steadfast belief in His Orthodox Church as the one and only true Church.
The Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches 2008.
As said earlier, the ecclesiastical world also constantly stresses this aspect. In the Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches 2008 [18f] one sees a strong concern for the suffering mankind and how it must be solved through unity in love. One cannot but notice the utopia described in this text: “The Orthodox Church…can and must promote to the contemporary world the teaching not only regarding the restoration in Christ of the unity of the entire human race, but also regarding the universality of His work of redemption, through which all the divisions of the world are overcome and the common nature of all human beings is affirmed.” [18f, point 2].
“The divisions among people deprive billions of people of basic goods and lead to the misery for the human person;…” [18f, point 5, parag. 2].
Therefore the Message, among other recommendations, states also t h a t “our desire to continue, despite any difficulties, the theological dialogues with other Christians, as well as the inter-religious dialogues, especially with Judaism and Islam, given that dialogue constitutes the only way of solving differences among people, especially today, when every kind of division, including those in the name of religion, threaten people`s peace and unity.” [18f, point 13iii].
As we can see, these aspects and solutions are exactly the same as stressed above in the World Conference of Madrid and the UN adoption of 2001 as a Dialogue Year. One can likewise mention the September meeting, 2009, in the Vatican, earlier referred to, as a characteristic example of the present atmosphere in World Orthodoxy. Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev (MP) said in regard to the rapprochement between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Catholic Church: “Only united will we be able to propose to the world the spiritual and moral values of the Christian faith; together we will be able to offer our Christian vision of the family, of procreation, of a human love made not only for pleasure; to affirm our concept of social justice, of a more equitable distribution of goods, of a commitment to safeguarding the environment, for the defense of human life and its dignity,” said the Orthodox prelate [16i-c, last two parag].
Homily by Patriarch Kirill 2009.
Similarly, in his Homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy 2009, Patriarch Kirill chose as his main theme unity preserved by love versus heresies and schisms, saying that“Unity is there where there is love and where there is love is God.”
“We must preserve the unity.. of Universal Orthodoxy from every heresy and schism…we must preserve the unity of our local Church as the apple of our eye…” [16f, parag. 10 and second-last parag.].
Of course, it is true, what his Eminence says. The only flaw in all this, is the fact that His Eminence uses the words love and unity in an Orthodox context in order to promote, in a more wider and future scope, a unity of false love, namely a unity of all the apostatizing Orthodox Churches with the non-Orthodox Churches and thus slowly create in people an urge for such unity. In this speech, the topic was the unity in World Orthodoxy. This unity is in fact the unity of sick bodies, which, strangely enough, reject all
attempts to get healed. The enemy of this unity (and of its healing) is clearly indicated to be the Old Calendar Movement. Thus, World Orthodoxy is eloquently associated with the positive words love and unity, while the Old Calendar Movement indirectly is associated with the strongly negative words heresy, schism, anger. The well-written homily successfully creates a hostile atmosphere toward the Old Calendar Movement in general and characterizes it as evil.
Has ROCOR/MP forgotten with whom we recently were in union? Have we forgotten that the precise same words were used to characterize ROCOR up to very recently by the Moscow Patriarchate?
In comparison to these dialogues of “peace and unity” Archbishop Averky of Jordanville says that “For the true Christian there can be only one desirable unity – unity in the Truth of Christ – the pure, undistorted, uncorrupted Truth, without any admixture of diabolic falsehood, not envenomed by any compromise with it.”
“The “unity” which is now envisaged by the enemies of the pure truth of Christ is not unity in Christ. It is that unity which the Antichrist, who wishes to subject all to himself and to found his kingdom on earth, is striving to create.” [16n, p. 9, parag. 2].
“Peace and Love” versus Wars.
Along with this message of “peace and unity” we also experience the constant threat of wars. I believe these two aspects – “peace and unity” and “wars and rumors of war” – are but two sides of one coin. We see how wars have taken a worldwide aspect. Antichristian forces are striving for one world-order, and for that they need to be in control. This they do through wars. More security and unity is needed. People are naturally slowly getting exhausted by all these wars. When this exhaustion begins to manifest itself, the other part conveniently steps in – the constant stressing on “unity and love,” “peace and dialogue.” These words are being constantly used, in whatever context it may be, secular or ecclesiastical, ecumenical or Orthodox. The goal is to have us slowly accept the very concept of unity and peace. Such a constant focus on this issue, together with our gradual exhaustion from wars, violence and divisions, slowly break down our spiritual discernment and willpower and make us feel a longing for peace and unity. When that has been accomplished, Antichrist is ready to appear with his “peace”.
Archimandrite Lazar Abashidze, a most respected Georgian Orthodox writer on contemporary Orthodoxy, points out how “peace and unity” are being used by political and ecclesiastical leaders around the world to accomplish an ungodly unity, which again will be closely connected with the coming of the Antichrist. First he characterizes the essence of this very phenomenon itself, saying that “It is obvious that we are coming closer to a time of the most subtle, intricate falsehood, when the utmost radical evil is clothed in the most comely, well-behaved, sweet, cheerful and affable appearances. The way of thought, character of life, direction of activity, spirit of religion are already being created today, in correspondence to and favorably disposed to demonic seduction, preparing the accession to the throne of Antichrist. Much of what we today joyously are welcoming with applause or towards which we are smiling with reserve – as will be seen tomorrow – was likewise a web, a snare, a bait and a subtle insidiousness from the enemy of mankind” [17g, p.43, middle].
Then straight away follows an example of how“this subtle insidiousness from the enemy of mankind” in fact manifests itself:
“As an example [of this insidiousness] one sees how much has been spoken about peace in the whole world, about the unity of people and nations, about political, economic, cultural and religious concord and brotherhood of people. Indeed, what can be more desired than peace – when we are so tired of so much evil, of wars, of quarrels? …Many politicians and preachers of various religions – knowing this weakness of mankind that people are getting tired of wars and are hungering for peace – are speculating in peace and prosperity.”
“Even many Christians today are of the belief, that “peace in the whole world,” and “friendship and peace among people and our prayers for “peace for the whole world” and “for the union of all,” – that all this is actually one and the same hope and one and the same essence of concept. Many begin to think that the ideals of today’s “progressive world,” its humane spirit and purposefulness, and the “spiritual” ideals and hopes of all Christians are two absolutely agreeable currents of the highest human moral and spiritual activity, and which are getting closer and closer to each other, and without fail, will unite and meet as brothers of one family.”[17g, p.43, last parag.].
“But – continues Archimandrite Lazar – “peace” as understood by the world and “peace” as understood by the Orthodox Church – are diametrically opposed to each other both in meaning and significance! The
Lord says: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” (John, 14:27).
As Professor Ivan Andreev says: “On the Day of Judgement the Lord will ask not only whether we fed the hungry, but mainly in who`s name and why we did it: for God, for our personal glory or in the interests of Antichrist?” [17i, p.54, second-last parag.].“For if you, like the communists, will feed only those hungry who, for a piece of earthly bread will renounce the Heavenly Bread – then what reward will be yours for that from the Lord?” [17i, p.54, last parag.].
The true Nature of ecumenical Dialogues.
In our days when the apostatizing World Orthodoxy and the secular God-fighting societies constantly admonish us to unite and love, one can fear that the words of warning from the “strange in appearance” to the deluded monk, earlier mentioned, will eventually be applied to us also:
“I tell you: even though a man be adorned with all the works of charity, but does not have right belief he will find himself in that [gloomy, stinking place, emitting flames]” [7j, second-last parag., last two lines].
Avoiding such “peace, love and unity” the Old Calendar Churches are being regarded as “enemies of the people” and ‘destructors of Church Unity,’ ‘possessed by demonic fire of pride’ as Patriarch Kirill eloquently puts it in his above-mentioned Homily, [16f, fourth-last parag., last three lines].
“The contemporary ‘dialogue of love,’ – says Fr. Maximos in his Memorandum Appeal – which is carried on under the form of naked sentimentality, is in reality an unbelieving denial of the saving sanctification of the Spirit and… ‘love of the truth’ (2 Thessal. 2:10-13). [7f, p.29, parag. 2].
He exposes the true essence of these ‘dialogues of love, saying that
“The essence of love is the Truth. Let us [therefore] not be deceived. There exist also a ‘dialogue of falsehood’, when those in engaging in dialogue consciously or unconsciously lie to one another. Such a dialogue is familiar to the ‘father of lies,’ the Devil…“Thus, there is no ‘dialogue of love’ without the dialogue of truth.” [7f, p.29, parag. 3, line 7].
The essence, therefore, of these dialogues between Orthodox and non- Orthodox are in fact the absence of repentance and truth and a rejection of our very salvation. The non-Orthodox are players in the great scheme of weakening and destroying Orthodoxy. That is actually what is taking place.
T h a t is the actual reason for the suffering of mankind. And World Orthodoxy has now become their co-players on the Devil`s playground.
A Need for a strong Orthodox Stand.
Metropolitan Philaret valiantly exposed all heretical activities with authority and to the point, but still with worthiness. We should do the same. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is happening. With one hand, we reach out to ecumenical hierarchs, and with the other we gently pull our brothers and sisters towards ourselves and the ecumenical Churches, not to mention how, with that very same hand, we crush out our very own fellow-hierarchs for speaking up against falsehood.
The Visit of Archbishop Demetrios to ROCOR/MP – Synod.
One small but strong example of how vague our standpoint is, we see in the official visit His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, made to our Synod, 2009 [19a; 19b]. It was the second meeting, since already in 2008 our First Hierarch had been received at the Headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese [19b].
In the biography of His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, one read of a highly educated man, who clearly has done many good things and not spared himself in his work [19c]. He has been all over the world and met various important people. He seems to be a very pleasant man and the biography gives without doubt a true picture of His Eminence. However, it also shows us a bishop who is highly supportive of the ecumenical movement. In 2004, for example, he participated in the historic Ecumenical service at the Vatican together with Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope John Paul II, celebrating the Return of the Holy Relics of Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Gregory the Theologian to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople [19c, p.5]. In 2006 he participated in the historic Papal Voyage of Pope Benedict XVI to the Ecumenical Patriarchate [19c, p.5].
Archbishop Demetrios and the Encyclical of 1920.
In a speech in 2005, His Eminence Demetrios highly praises the Patriarchs Athenagoras and Bartholomew for their ecumenical endeavours together with the WCC and the lifting of the anathemas between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches [19d]. He emphasizes this standpoint even more, referring to the encyclical of 1920, issued by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and addressed “Unto the Churches of Christ Everywhere,” saying:”It is an unprecedented encyclical of global scope urging all Christian churches to take concrete actions to come closer together in their common faith.”
This prominent encyclical is proudly proclaimed in his speech to be the beginning of the ecumenical activities. The encyclical states that “Our own Church holds that rapprochement between the various Christian Churches and fellowship between them is not excluded by the doctrinal differences which exist between them” [19e, first two lines].
It was exactly because of this encyclical of 1920 that the Calendar reform was later introduced and which eventually led to the severe persecution of the Greek Old Calendar believers. As His Eminence rightly points out, the ecumenical movement owes its beginning to this Encyclical. Unfortunately, it also caused most of the Orthodox Churches to fall into apostasy. Very rightly do the Anthonite fathers Maximos and Basil conclude in their Memorandum Appeal that “The Patriarchal “Encyclical” of 1920 not only completely fails to echo the “true voice of the Church,” but, on the contrary, intentionally overlooks its own Orthodox “foundation.” Judged from an Orthodox canonical standpoint, it deserves the greatest condemnation… [7f, p.24, parag. 3 and p. 25, parag. 2].
Thus, His Eminence Demetrios is clearly representing a view which is in complete opposition to what the Orthodox Church traditionally has been teaching us.
One may believe in the correctness of such a polite and supposedly moderate approach, shown to His Eminence Demetrios by our Synod, but the fact is that it is breaking down the firm stand of Orthodoxy. It has nothing to do with moderation or soberness, but is a deviation from the true spirit of uncompromised Orthodoxy.
One must also recall the three ecumenical concelebrations, earlier mentioned, between the Greek Orthodox Church and various Catholic, Protestant and Monophysite Churches held in America last year (2009) [5b – 5d]. These services could hardly have taken place without the blessing of the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in North America, namely His Eminence Demetrios, whom we so cordially invited to our Synod.
Thus, we see a highly esteemed primate who praises the lifting of the Anathemas, calls the Catholic Church our Sister-Church, glorifies the encyclical of 1920, recommends all to join Patriarch Bartholemew in his apostasy, and blesses concelebrations and intercommunion with Non- Orthodox believers, and still he is received with apparent great honor at our Synod and led into the Holy of Holies as a true Apostle of Christ, while those faithful to Orthodoxy, sincerely struggling to avoid all such things, are considered graceless schismatics by us and persecuted by bishops supported by His Eminence.
The confusion increases further, whenon October 27, 2009, Metropolitan Hilarion (ROCOR/MP) participated in an Ecumenical Luncheon in honor of Patriarch Bartholomew. The reception was hosted by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. [19g].
We must not consider this weak and compromised stand as love for our neighbour. Let the reader take a look at the photographs presented and judge for himself, where ROCOR/MP is heading.
ROCOR/MP-Concelebrating with the OCA.
Another example of our weak stand in the defense of Orthodoxy is well-illustrated by our concelebration with the Orthodox Church of America. As mentioned earlier, a commission has been established with the purpose of dealing with the issue of whether or not we should concelebrate with the OCA [17k]. Even though ROCOR/MP is supposedly not in communion with the OCA, official concelebrations are nevertheless taking place on the very highest ecclesiastical level. I will show this with three examples.
According to the official web-site of ROCOR/MP, His Grace Bishop Jerome of Manhattan participated in the celebration of the enthronement of Metropolitan Jonah, the newly-elected Head of the OCA (December 2008) [17e-2b]. Bishop Jerome concelebrated with the new Metropolitan, after which he read a congratulatory message from the First Hierarch, which states that “We hope and pray that this, your time of service, will be one of continuing, increasingly cordial ties between the Orthodox Church in America, and our Russian Orthodox Church Abroad”. [17e-2b].
It must be noted that Metropolitan Hilarion blessed Bishop Jerome to participate only in the reception and not to actually concelebrate. One can question though, whether the Metropolitan was sincerely against the concelebration when reading not only the above-mentioned congratulatory
message but also the following. In August 2009 Metropolitan Hilarion concelebrated in the St. Seraphim Church in Sea Cliff, NY (ROCOR/MP) with the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky from the OCA, an official participant and supporter of the ecumenical movement, as earlier mentioned [17e-2a and17e-3]. With him co-served three Archpriests, one priest and seven deacons, all from ROCOR/MP [17e-2d].
Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky is director of external affairs of the Orthodox Church in America, and a moderator of Religions of Peace, the largest multi-religious coalition of faith organizations working together to build peace through common action. He has served as moderator of Action by Churches Together, a Geneva-based ecumenical alliance of Christian relief organizations. He is also the representative of the OCA in the WCC, [17e-3]. He is likewise a president in the Steering Committee of the afore- mentioned ecumenical organization – CCT – Christian Churches Together and takes part in common prayers with non-Orthodox members of this organization which has all been shown earlier in this letter [11a, 11e-3].
Then, on November 16, 2009, when the ROCOR-commission was gathered in Jordanville for further evaluation of our relationship with the OCA, Metropolitan Hilarion met with Metropolitan Jonah at the headquarters of the OCA. Having greeted each other they served a funerary litiya together to commemorate His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia, who had died the day before. Present at the service was also Protopriest Leonid Kishkovsky [17e-2c] (It must be noted, that it is not the funerary litiya itself which is the object here, but the concelebration of this service).
One may ask, why ROCOR/MP so openly concelebrate with OCA- clergy when we officially are yet not in full communion with them. Does ROCOR/MP not take into consideration the ecumenical activity and liberalism of OCA and their open acknowledgement of the Moscow Patriarchate from early days and lack of repentance from this? Have we forgotten the words of Archbishop Averky, earlier mentioned, whose conscience did not allow him to serve with modernists or those who apostatize from the Church? (see p.13 in this paper).
It is hard to take ROCOR/MP seriously as strong upholders of the Truth, when we see our bishops officially disrespecting their very own commissions and concelebrating with clergy who pride themselves in their acceptance of the soviet Moscow Patriarchate in the 70-ies and rightly can be called ecumenists in the every sense of the word.
How the Orthodox Church
traditionally looks upon Visits by Heretics.
I will quote from the Conclusion of the Greek Theological Conference of 2004, showing how the participants looked upon visits of the Popes, that is of heretics, to Orthodox countries: “Can one imagine one of the Holy Fathers organizing receptions in order to honor and embrace Arius, Nestorius, Eutichius, etc? Likewise, let the unacceptable entry in the Calendar of the Church of Greece be erased which records the visit of the pope as a great event…” [7h, part two: B.Proposals., point 4, line 2].
With this in mind one could also highly question the forthcoming meeting of Patriarch Kirill with Pope Benedict XVI. One can illustrate this even further with one small comparison. Can one imagine the Savior inviting the Pharisees and Sadducees to His house, receive them with great honor, present them with precious gifts, praise their good deeds, wish them the help from Heaven above and then, after they have left, pronounce this visit all over the world as a most joyous, God-pleasing event? On the contrary, our Saviour addressed the Pharisees and Sadducees very differently, as is well known.
A Promise to firmly defend the Truth.
His Eminence Hilarion, First Hierarch of ROCOR/MP, has promised firmly to defend the Truth and be faithful to Orthodoxy. But can we now, with a clear conscience, say that that is actually what we are doing? We have joined the Moscow Patriarchate and after only three years, we begin to see the fruits more clearly. Receptions, banquets, meetings, symposiums and official exchanges with World Orthodoxy have become the order of the day. It is a matter for deep concern to see our obvious change in attitude towards concelebrations with ecumenical Orthodox Churches [17e-1, 17e-2] together with the glorification of the Patriarchs Alexis II and Kirill and their ideals.
Unfortunately, the bishops and faithful in ROCOR/MP (and in the Moscow Patriarchate) do not raise their voice anymore because – and this is very sad to say – they desire to be accepted by World Orthodoxy and receive the practical and material support and benefits from such a relationship. One condition, therefore, is to be strictly followed by ROCOR/MP (and all bishops and faithful under the Moscow Patriarchate) – and that is to be quiet. Such a stand is wholly understandable, very practical and safe – but not in the least Orthodox.
Therefore, through the voice of Archbishop Averky of Jordanville, we need to listen to the holy Fathers of ROCOR, if we shall not completely lose the savor of Christ: “Now is the time of confession – of standing firm, if necessary even to death, for our Orthodox Faith, which is being subjected everywhere to open and concealed attacks and oppression on the part of the servants of the coming Antichrist.” [16n, p.11, parag.4].
Love of this World.
“If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
Thus says the Apostle and Evangelist John. Love of the world does not necessarily have to take on the form of pure fleshly desires. It can easily take more virtuous forms, as for example, the building of churches, printing of books, conferences, philanthropical undertakings – in general everything which is connected to church life. One can as easily be attached to these things as to merely fleshly passions and be ready to compromise with falsehood in order to preserve them and one’s comfortable position and career.
Two factors play a central role in man`s life – that of an outward security and that of a comfortable life. Man`s life and decisions can thereby be controlled by these two factors – making him into a complete obedient servant. That is why these two factors have become a main concern in the world today. This makes people an easy prey in the hands of Antichrist. If one wishes to break with the powers of falsehood, one is immediately deprived of either of these factors or even both. If one does not wish to abandon comfort, one does whatever one is told. This is what we see today in World Orthodoxy.
”Sergianism, as said earlier, is the inner preparedness of the Orthodox Christian for compromise with evil, with the aim of preserving an outer establishment. It is the path of survival, which is in absolute contrast to the essence of the Church, which is sacrifice unto death. In Sergianism lies a hidden love for this world which rejects the Cross. It is a worldly understanding of the Heavenly Kingdom, where man and not Christ is made into the Savior. Sergianism – as a “God-pleasing Christian way” of survival – will therefore be accepted by those whose reason, even in the most hidden forms, is formed by the love of this world. Archbishop Averky emphasizes the importance of rejecting such love, saying that ”Nothing so contributes to destructive spiritual blindness as the seduction of earthly goods. “Mankind
led by carnal reasoning,” say the Holy Fathers, “not only will not recognize the Antichrist, not seeing in him its perfidious enemy, but on the contrary it will recognize him as its benefactor and proclaim him as its god” (Saint Ignaty Brianchaninov). [16n, p.12, parag. 1].
Of course, nobody will directly say that they love their comfort more than God, so a justification is needed. This is done by claiming that the erroneous path of World Orthodoxy is in fact a true path. Thus, love of this world, being wrapped up in spiritual and ecclesiastical forms, is being turned into a virtue. Sergianism is therefore much more dangerous than ecumenism is. It is the root from which everything else grows, while ecumenism is only the branches or leaves. One can therefore easily reject ecumenism and nevertheless be part of World Orthodoxy. Traditional Orthodoxy is therefore not the same as true Orthodoxy. Traditional Orthodoxy – at least on the surface being traditional – can still be one in spirit with this world, while true Orthodoxy, by its very essence, cannot. It rejects this spirit completely, being on the path of the holy martyrs. We see therefore how World Orthodoxy is represented by two mainstreams – one is purely heretical, the other is claming its traditional stand in Orthodoxy. But the essence of both streams is the same – love of this world. They will therefore most likely accept the Antichrist, while the true Traditionalists of World Orthodoxy eventually will end up in the Catacombs together with the true Old Calendar Faithful.
Love of this world is in diametrical opposition to the path of the Cross, as much as Antichrist is in diametrical opposition to Christ. When ROCOR/MP says that they are still continuing the same path as before, it cannot be farther from the truth. ROCOR/MP, therefore, was and is not interested in an All-Russian Council, as was traditionally awaited, since such a Council would be in complete opposition to the spirit of ROCOR/MP today and would only interfere in their path of comfort. That is why the issue of Sergianism in ROCOR/MP is being erased from our minds, as something obsolete and of no actuality, while in fact it is more important than ever to address this issue and once and for all anathematize it.
One may think that I am now advocating that all faithful leave ROCOR/MP (or the Russian Church under the Moscow Patriarchate) at any price. This is not so. However, what I a m doing, is to call all of us to seriously reflect upon the dangerous path we have now entered and our promises we once made of being faithful to Orthodoxy. I do not see a ROCOR/MP having wholly accepted ecumenism or Sergianism – yet, but a ROCOR/MP which is gradually accommodating itself to World Orthodoxy and its spirit; which rejects its own ideals and now raises its children to go
against their own conscience and the conscience of the Orthodox Church for the sake of pleasing the world and its love for the world; which believes it can be faithful to Christ and at the same time be friends with the apostatizing World Orthodoxy. That is what I see – a ROCOR which is fallen, and yet considers this fall to be a glorious victory.
ROCOR/MP (and the Moscow Patriarchate) is in great danger of completely accepting falsehood and even Antichrist himself, despite the fact, that it may very well be opposed to it all. But it does it, simply because it has begun to love the world. That is the ROCOR/MP I see today.
The Substitution of Concepts
and the Justification by worldly Morals.
Love of this world manifests itself in our justification of lies. Man justifies his deeds either by Christian truths, or by worldly morals. Christian truths always blame oneself, while worldly morals justify falsehood, using worldly laws and rational “just” arguments to achieve its goals. Christians, using worldly morals, will seldom tell you the actual reason for their behaviors, that they in fact desire to satisfy only their own passions, obtain money, glory and comfort. They will in stead try to maintain an outward purity and righteousness. This we see everywhere and in everyone, from the simple faithful to monastics, priests and bishops. We see an example of such worldly morals in the defrocking of Bishop Diomid, who was raising important church-issues, not welcomed by the Moscow Patriarchate. Instead of applying Christian truths, forcing them to humbly admit that Bishop Diomid was in fact a threat to their power and comfort of life – or at least admit that he was indeed right in his defense of Orthodoxy – they turned to legalistic justification and worldly argumentation in order to fight him, saying that he was violating the correct procedure when addressing problems, that he was destroying peace and good order of the Church and causing division. They even went so far as to enumerate his “many” personal sins. Exactly what the Pharisees did with Christ.
Another example is the acceptance of the Declaration of 1927. The worldly logic of preserving an outward church-structure overruled all moral and Christian truths, wholly forgetting that, what Metropolitan Sergius in actuality was doing, was to save not the Church of Christ, but merely an outward lifeless church-organization, at the same time undermining the
Christian willpower to fight against evil. The true Church of Christ, which was faithfully following Christian truths, had gone into the Catacombs.
Yet another example is our union with the Moscow Patriarchate. ROCOR has always been against ecumenism and sergianism, and still we united in spirit with World Orthodoxy. Naturally, ROCOR does not say that it has betrayed its holy Fathers. Instead we pointed to the facts that there is now (supposedly) freedom in Russia, that we must love one another, that church-history is always full of difficulties, and that we have to help the Russian people in their struggle after the fall. ROCOR, it was said, has to survive, in order not to turn into a “sect” and to achieve this, basic Christian truths were and are elegantly set aside.
The characteristics of worldly morals, is that they are capable of transgressing Christian virtues and ideals, and at the same time keeping an appearance of outward righteousness and piety. But ”apearance, says Fr. Steven Allen (GOC), is the rein of Antichrist, while the rein of Christ is reality…We should be very cautious about beautiful manufactured realities and we should look for what is going on behind the screen, what is really going on, because it involves compromise” [16v, part 3]. These two words – appearance and reality – are keywords not only in our personal struggle as Christians, but also in our understanding of the apostasy going on today. There exists in the world only two kingdoms – that of Christ, which is reality or Truth and that of Antichrist, which is appearance or falsehood. A third kingdom does not exist. Everything which is not of the Kingdom of Christ belongs therefore in actuality to the kingdom of Antichrist – to appearance and lies.
The substitution of concepts, so similar to real Orthodox concepts, but in factvoid of the true essence of Orthodoxy, has become common everywhere. Thus, faithfulness to Christ, as mentioned earlier, is being substituted by “Christian values,” sacrifice for Christ by survival, obedience to Christ by obedience to Church Authority, the spirit of Orthodoxy by rational legalism, the love of God by the love of man, Truth by tolerance and political correctness, and Orthodoxy by pseudo-Orthodoxy.
It is a clear sign, that we are now coming closer to the time of Antichrist, when basic Christian truths are being substituted for a purely outward and cold set of legalistic rules and worldly morals. Such rules and morals, wrapped up in a veil of outward and good, orderly church life, has now been accepted by World Orthodoxy, justifying its love of the world.
All these substitutions have but one goal – to destroy the Church of Christ and prepare for the coming of Antichrist. World Orthodoxy takes part in this preparation.
The Greek Old Calendar Churches –
our former Friends.
Now, after the union with World Orthodoxy, as with a touch of a magic wand, ROCOR/MP suddenly proclaims, that grace has left those Old Calendar Churches with which we were recently in communion. One recalls, for example, Archbishop Mark’s comments to the Monastery of St. Edward in England, when they asked for a canonical release. His Eminence could not accept their wish, since he then would have to “agree to place them outside the Orthodox Church” and thus leave them in the hands of a Church – namely the Synod in Resistance, whose sacraments, the German hierarch stated “are null and void” and “serve for the condemnation rather than the salvation of those who partake thereof.” [17m, p.9, par.7 and p.10, par. 4].
Another more personal account testifies to the same. One Sunday when the commemoration books were read at our monastery, I noticed how bishop Andronik’s name (now under Met. Agafangel, and former Head of our Mission in Jerusalem for more than a decade), along with other names of faithful who had followed him, had been crossed out (by some unknown person). Addressing one of our bishops in the altar, asking if that really was necessary, he laconically said: “Of course the names must be crossed out – they are outside the Church.” I left, sad of heart. Interestingly enough and quite characteristically, the bishop signed the “Confession of Faith against Ecumenism” (issued 2009 by New Calendar Traditionalists).
In comparison one can present the view toward the True Orthodox Christians of Greece as it is presented by Fr. Seraphim Rose:
“In Greece the movement of protest, by a similar Orthodox instinct likewise took the name of “True Orthodox Christians.” From the beginning in 1924 this movement has been especially strong among the simple monks, priests and laymen of Greece;…and today it continues its fully independent life and organization, comprising about one-fourth of all the Orthodox Christians of Greece, and perhaps one-half or more of all the monks and nuns. Although popularly known as the “old calendarists,” the True
Orthodox Christians of Greece stand for a staunch traditionalism in Orthodox life and thought in general, viewing the calendar question merely as a first stage and a touchstone of modernism and reformism.”
”Against this loss of the savor of Orthodoxy there has arisen one great movement of protest in the 20th-century” that of the True-Orthodox Christianswhether of Russia, Greece, Mount Athos, or the Orthodox Diaspora. Among these True-Orthodox Christians are to be found the authentic Orthodox confessors and martyrs of our times.” [12p, p. 242, last parag.].
Indeed there is a difference in approach. What caused ROCOR to take such a radical turn in its position towards the True Orthodox Christians in general? I believe it is because we in ROCOR/MP have lost that very “instinct” and discernment of true Orthodoxy of which Father Seraphim is speaking here. The Athonite Fathers tells us what will happen, if we do not stand up for the Truth (emphasis mine): “Patriarch Bartholomew has gauged our responses, and because they are half-hearted, and many times non-existent, he proceeds without hindrance toward union with an unrepentant pope.” [7i, parag. 6, line 4].
And they – together with many of us in ROCOR/MP in regard to our spiritual leaders – continue in more strong words, saying that “We have been scandalized by the silence and inaction of our spiritual leaders on Mount Athos, and together with us, the entire assembly of monastic-loving Orthodox Christians, both in Greece and throughout the world.” [7i, parag. 7, line 1].
And having lost all patience they further exclaim very laconically: “It is no longer time for words, but for actions” [7i, parag.10, line 4].
Why it is time for actions, they answer themselves: “We want to set at ease our monastic and Orthodox conscience; we want to follow the conduct of the Holy Martyrs and Confessors” [7i, parag. 10, line 6].
What these actions imply they also answer themselves: “The only thing that will gladden the Orthodox and shame the kakodox is to cease commemoration of the patriarch and all of the bishops agreeing with him or remaining in silence.” [7i, third-last parag., line 2].
World Orthodoxy – a new “Christianity.”
Today another form of Christianity is slowly taking the place of true Orthodoxy. Archbishop Averky of Jordanville, says that “We must first of all understand and never forget… that there now also exists pseudo- Orthodoxy, which we must fear and from which we must flee as from fire.” [17h, p.5: “On Apostasy”].
This religious substitute, so similar in appearance to true Orthodoxy, is what Antichrist needs in order for him to successfully conquer the world. Archmandrite Lazar Abashidze, writes in this respect:
“The devil is in no way an opponent of religion altogether, on the contrary: he is actually the founder of most of the religions. The devil is always trying to turn the Orthodox Christians not into unbelief but into a distorted belief. He needs religion, but only as non-dogmatical and indistinct as possible, in order for him to draw as many people as possible towards Antichrist.” [17g, 14, top].
It must be a religion – a Christianity created by the fallen man. That will be the substitute for true Orthodoxy. Archmandrite Lazar says: “Is it not evident that it is not the exterior, spoken sermon of the Gospel which the devil will try to hinder, but the performance of Christ`s Commandments, the penetration into the real essence of Christianity? That he in all ways will try to secularize the understanding of the faith of Christ, draw it down to a worldly level and rationalize it? A secularized Christianity, with two wings cut off, is in itself not only not fearful for the devil but will even do him a good turn, since the Antichrist himself will pose as the Messiah,.” [17g, p. 19, parag. 1].
The main difference from true Orthodoxy will thus be love of this world and the absence of the Cross. It will be a Christianity based on a social agenda, where its goal is unity of all people in order for the world to live in peace and happiness. Archmandrite Lazar comments on this, saying: “Everything which Christ promised to give His followers the Antichrist will promise too, with the exception that he will abolish the cross: and in this lies
the whole mystery of his insidious powers, the reason why all nations and people will be following him.” [17g, p.39, middle].
That is why we will all accept him. The formula for this earthly Utopia will be the Gospel, but not as it was preached by Christ, but as it was preached by Satan, when he tempted Him in the desert. Archmandrite Lazar explains this, saying that ”The devil will promise the Heavenly Kingdom itself without any hardships at all or struggles of piety. The Antichrist will promise people heaven on earth, with which knowledge, comfort and pleasantness of life, art, various inventions and improvements in materialistic life will easily be combined.” [17g, p. 39].
In order for Antichrist to deceive people, it is therefore important for him to develop an earthly spirituality. This is so, since he himself will be a spiritual leader acting as the Messiah, but with a spirituality wholly grounded on fallen man. Archmandrite Lazar writes: “Even though the kingdom of the devil will be a kingdom totally of the flesh, it will try to appear heavenly.. And in this way the Antichrist plans to darken the true teaching of the Christian faith with a new teaching, a new order – softer, pleasant and in conformity with the inclinations of the carnal man – and will try in every way possible to present himself as Christ… from this stems his power and the danger that he will be able to allure even the very elect.”[17g, p.39].
ROCOR/MP should therefore with all good reason fear the path of World Orthodoxy. Archbishop Averky sums up excellently what has been said: “The fundamental task of the servants of the coming Antichrist is to destroy the old world with all its former concepts and “prejudices” in order to build in its place a new world suitable for receiving its approaching “new owner” who will take the place of Christ for people and give them on earth that which Christ did not give them…”
“One must be completely blind spiritually, completely alien to true Christianity not to understand all this.” [17h, p.10].
or Faithfulness to Christ.
The issue of a new “Christianity” brings us to another aspect, closely connected to our times of apostasy, namely the almost blind obedience which the official Church authorities expect of their faithful – in spite of their apostasy. Such obedience has become a major factor in creating a pseudo-Orthodoxy.
Having the authority as Church-leaders, but using it for obtaining obedience to a path which is against the traditional teaching of the Orthodox Church, the faithful are slowly losing their ability to think independently and to trust their own conscience, even when this conscience is in concordance with the true conscience of the Church. A kind of paralysis occurs among the faithful, when we no longer dare to follow our own conscience, but begin to trust wholly the conscience of the “official” church organization. Our understanding of the “official church organization” as being the true and infallible Church of Christ, despite the obvious falsehood it preaches, is slowly being developed in such a direction, that any deviation from it is equal to war against God and a sure way to lose one`s soul. This false obedience can go so far as to even persecute the defenders of true Orthodoxy – all done in the name of Christ. It will eventually also make them accept Antichrist. Father Seraphim Rose wrote that“some people can find themselves in a position that may be ‘legally correct’ but is at the same time profoundly un-Christian – as if the Christian conscience is compelled to obey any command of the church authorities, as long as these authorities are properly ‘canonical.’ This blind concept of obedience for its own sake is one of the chief causes for the success of Sergianism in our century – both within and outside the Moscow Patriarchate.” [17j, p.258].
Even a traditional stand in World Orthodoxy is far from a guarantee of not accepting Antichrist. On the contrary, it is well known what the holy Fathers say about the condition of the official Church in the end-times. The main goal of Antichrist will primarily not be to have us deny our Orthodox
faith or even Christ, but first and foremost to acknowledge his authority and receive his mark. The traditional faithful, whether in World Orthodoxy or in the Old Calendar Movement will therefore be allowed and even encouraged to keep their traditional stand – they just have to bow down to the Antichrist. And that isexactly what the “official church organization” of World Orthodoxy eventually will do, even though they strongly assure us of the opposite. That only testifies to their complete blindness to what they are doing and where they are going. Woe then, to him who has given himself completely over to such “obedience,” having trampled down not only his own conscience but especially the conscience of the Church. Will he be able to withstand not only the pressure laid on him by his authorities and closest ones, but also from the psychologically strong bond of “obedience” which has been built up in him for years?
It is exactly such a “salvation” of soul, based solely on “obedience” and a formal membership in the “official” Church which destroys all true faith in Christ. It is exactly such conformity that World Orthodoxy is nurturing. The result is that we – its faithful – turn into nice and obedient but spiritually dead objects. It is therefore not so much a “traditional” stand that is the most essential factor in our defense of Orthodoxy and for discerning between good and evil. Such a stand can be wholly formal and even lead us away from Christ. As mentioned earlier by Father Seraphim Rose, the apostasy of our times is characterized by a “correct Orthodoxy” but “deprived of the spirit of true Christianity.” The loss of this spirit has now become widespread in World Orthodoxy as Father Seraphim said: “The real crisis of Orthodoxy today lies in the loss of the savor of True Christianity. [12p, p. 242, last parag].
What is essential is therefore to acquire this spirit or fragrance of Orthodoxy. And that is what Father Seraphim Rose first and foremost is referring to, when he defends the path of the True Orthodox Christians, being wholly free of any formality. This spirit of Orthodoxy is never bound to any jurisdictions, “parties” or church-organizations. It is a spirit, which clearly exposes superficiality and formality, and is able to see right through the hypocrisy and falsehood whether it is in World Orthodoxy or in any Old Calendar Church.
God’s Love to His Faithful
in both the Old Calendar Churches and World Orthodoxy.
I believe we have now entered a very special unprecedented time in history. The Orthodox Church has been extremely shattered, as Archbishop Averky many times said. And yet, World Orthodoxy, I believe, has not yet lost Grace. But this is so not because World Orthodoxy is actually walking on the right path, but because God is extremely long-suffering and does not want anyone to perish. World Orthodoxy must, therefore, understand that God is not pleased with what He sees.
Today there exist several Churches or Synods in the Old Calendar Movement, essentially confessing the very same Orthodox faith yet not in communion. This phenomenon is still, I believe, not completely to be understood. It is definitely a grave mistake to simply reject them as graceless schismatics and fallen from the Church. The times are all too complex in order to make such categorical conclusions. In the Holy Scriptures, though, we may find some help in explaining this situation.
The Message by God to the Church of Laodicea.
In the message to the Church of Laodicea, representing the very last of the seven Churches in the Apocalypse, God sternly admonished Her, saying:
“Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of My mouth”. (Revelation 3:16).
Since World Orthodoxy believes itself to be the one true Apostolic Church, then we – from our point of view – must consider these words to be addressed to us. This fact alone should make us reflect – and tremble. We in World Orthodoxy are therefore neither cold towards the pleasures of this fallen world, nor are we hot, burning with fervent zeal for Christ until death. We are lukewarm, trying to please both the world and the Church. Nevertheless God still considered the Church of Laodicea to be His Church.
Now Christ Himself has even come right up to the door and knocks (“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock…” (Rev. 3:20), as though He is pleading with us to come to our senses. And indeed, so it is! He pleads with us, saying: “be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:19).
So now, are we in World Orthodoxy actually being zealous and repenting? It does not look like it. And thus, for the time being, God – as though only getting ready to ”spew” us out as worthless servants – in His infinite mercy, still bears with us, hoping for our repentance. But for how long? Almost a century has gone by since World Orthodoxy embarked on the path of ecumenism and Sergianism and no repentance is being seen. Therefore, even though World Orthodoxy in general can still be considered a part of the Church of Laodicea – the Church of God – She is now standing on the very threshold of being rejected by God completely – to be spit out. This seems to explain the confusion many of us have today as to whether or not to consider World Orthodoxy graceless. We see now – standing on this very threshold – a whole confusing mixture of signs. Some of them show us that World Orthodoxy actually seems to have Grace, but others that it actually cannot and logically should not.
Those faithful in His Church (of Laodicea), who actually are taking the words of our Savior seriously – be zealous and repent – are in fact the Churches of the Old Calendar Movement. It is they who have reacted to His call, for which they are being scorned and persecuted by us, their very own fellow brothers and sisters. “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20).
The Shipwreck suffered by Apostle Paul.
Another incident which could also throw some light on the extremely complex situation we see today is the story about the shipwreck in the Acts of the Apostles. We remember how St. Paul together with more than two hundred and fifty people suffered a shipwreck, but were eventually all saved on the small island of Malta (Acts 27:39 -28:1). The Holy Scripture tells us that, having escaped the ship, which was being destroyed by the waves, some were saved on boards, others on broken pieces of the ship.
Could it not be that we see an analogy to the many Old Calendar Churches, so fragile and broken, some big, some tiny, and all dispersed in the stormy waters of the sinful world and apparently with no resemblance to the Universal Orthodox Church, speaking of size, wealth and administration, but not of essence? These broken planks on which the people at sea were
saved, were also of the exact same material as that of the original ship. The Old Calendar Churches (in general), therefore, preserving the teaching and Traditions of the Orthodox Church, likewise have the Grace to save anyone who clings to them in sincere faith. This is also God’s love for mankind.
The people who were saved on the planks did initially not wish to leave the ship. They wanted to stay, if possible. But eventually seeing no hope, they were forced to leave in order to be saved. The ship evidently lost its ability to save the people on board and was finally completely destroyed in the sea. We in World Orthodoxy should reflect a little bit on this.
Trying to understand it in this way, I do not, of course, say, that Christ’s Church has been destroyed, but that God now mysteriously is saving people in various Old Calendar Churches, and He is doing it in a way similar to the way the people at sea were saved. They were saved after the ship – again by God’s allowance – had been shattered into pieces, when the “master and the owner of the ship…and the more part” (Acts, 27:11) willingly had disobeyed the true voice of the Church, namely Apostle Paul, not to leave the safe harbour“ (of a correct and saving confession of faith”) for the winter. Thus, what was once a whole complete ship (speaking of the jurisdictional and administrative order of the Church), ended up being shattered into pieces (jurisdictions), thus saving the passengers by its planks.
I believe, God bears and suffers with all of the Old Calendar Churches. But still, it can be profitable for them to still keep in mind that when Apostle Paul suffered shipwreck, not all of the planks served as lifeboats, but some sank to the bottom of the sea, having served no use at all.
The Church has been shattered greatly in the past century and it is therefore no wonder that we today see the various Old Calendar Churches lying around as though an earthquake had taken place. The call to the Church of Laodicea(showing us that World Orthodoxy can still be considered to belong to the Church of God) and the stranding of St. Paul on the island of Malta (pointing to the fact that the Old Calendar Churches are without doubt also within the Church of Christ) can therefore help us to better understand that God has not abandoned either the resistant Churches or World Orthodoxy, until the final and complete apostasy will occur in the days closer to the time of Antichrist. I sincerely believe it will be of much more benefit for us and for the well-being of the Orthodox Church in general, if we would try to look at the Old Calendar Churches from this aspect. It would perhaps also be beneficial for the Old Calendar Churches themselves if they would try to understand their own position from the above-mentioned perspective.
Who actually is within the Church from a canonical Point of View.
Besides this rather philosophical approach, there is also the pure canonical aspect, which we cannot reject. Bishop Photios says, that:
“Orthodox Christians have the right, based on the canons of the Church, to break ecclesiastical communion with any Bishop who teaches heresy publicly and openly in the Church and to cease his commemoration in liturgical services”(canon IV, First and Second Council in Constantinople).
“If a Bishop or a clergyman of lower rank is faulty in the domain of the faith, “flee from him and separate yourself from him, whether he be a man or even an Angel from Heaven,” says St. John Chrysostomos.”
[7e, parag.10: “Orthodox Christians have…,” line 3].
It is well known that ROCOR/MP once was in full communion with the Genuine Greek Old Calendar Church (GOC), the Catacomb Church of Russia, and later also the Synod in Resistance together with the Romanian and Bulgarian Old Calendar Churches.
As Orthodox Christians, we firmly believe, as stated above, that the Orthodox Church is one and that it consists only of members sharing the exact same faith. This is and has always been the true teaching of Christ’s Church. One faith, one Church, one baptism as St. Paul says it. Strictly speaking, that essentially means that only those who believe and confess this Apostolic faith are within the Church. Since both ROCOR and the above mentioned Old Calendar Churches (without mentioning the issue of Grace, which has absolutely nothing to do with what I am speaking about here) always believed in the “correct and saving confession of the faith,” then they agreed to go into communion with each other.
I have a photograph, which shows Archbishop Petros of Astoria (GOC – Chrysostomos II) in a friendly gathering at the GOC-church – St.Markella (NY, USA) – together with St. John of Shanghai, and the saintly ROCOR-bishops Leonty of Chile, Averky (Jordanville), Savva and others. Another similar photograph shows the same saintly hierarchs gathered outside the building [21a]. One could also mention a video of Archbishop Averky of Jordanville and Archbishop Laurus (later Metropolitan of
ROCOR/MP), serving together with Archbishop Petros of Astoria both at St. Markella’s and in our very own Holy Trinity monastery [21b].
Thus, ROCOR and the Old Calendar Churches, with which we were once in union, together confessed the same Apostolic faith and therefore were within the Church.
Let us now look at World Orthodoxy. As shown above – through well-documented material I would say – we can say for sure, that in general World Orthodoxy officially does not confess the same faith as these Old Calendar Churches or the old ROCOR. For this reason the Old Calendar Churches have “walled themselves off” from World Orthodoxy. That is why we now, together with World Orthodoxy, naturally call them, and all those with whom they are in union, graceless schismatics. Such a stand is completely natural – from our point of view. In this way ROCOR/MP testifies to the fact that the Apostolic faith, which these Old Calendar Churches still confess and which we also once confessed, actually is in opposition to that “apostolic” faith we now confess. It is therefore the Old Calendar Churches and not we, who show constancy in the true Orthodox faith.
So, if we really want to go into the matter of Grace, we see more clearly now, who it actually is, who is within the Church, and who actually has Grace, – not only by the mercy of God and through economy – but by their actual virtue of a “correct and saving confession of faith.”
An ungodly Schism
a God-pleasing Walling-off from Falsehood.
Frequently we hear the Old Calendar Churches being labeled as graceless schismatics. Such an opinion is now widespread among monastics as well as laity. It is therefore necessary to touch upon this subject, and show where the difference between an ungodly “schism,” which will not be forgiven, and a God-pleasing walling-off from falsehood lies.
Preserving the Unity of Faith.
The Old Calendar believers strive to preserve the unity of Faith and faithfulness to the Tradition of the Church. The ecumenists, however, on their part, and those who accepts the path of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) are introducing novelties and heresies into the Church, which are and always have been foreign to Orthodoxy. The only way unity can be preserved in the Church is through unity of Faith and Tradition. That has always been the traditional stand in the Orthodox Church. As the 7th Ecumenical Council says that “For the unity of the Church we must, as obedient children, have absolute trust in the apostolic teaching of the Holy Fathers and the Traditions of the Church” (7l, p. 18, middle).
Regarding the question of breaking the unity of the Church, which is one of the main accusations, directed against the Old Calendar Churches, it is important to understand that it is World Orthodoxy which is the actual violator of this sacred unity by:
- – breaking the unity of the Feasts in accepting the New Calendar,
- – breaking the unity of the Faith in accepting heresy. One argument against leaving World Orthodoxy is that the Old Calendar Churches are isolating themselves. Such argumentation is wholly missing the point in what it means to wall oneself off from falsehood. The Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, written to Pope Pius IX in 1848 states
the following: “All, therefore, innovating, either by heresy or schism, have voluntarily clothed themselves, according to the Psalm (cix.18), “with a curse as with a garment,” whether they be Popes, or Patriarchs, or Clergy, or Laity; nay, if any one, though an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” [7k, point 20].
Father Seraphim Rose affirms the principled truth of such a stand. Referring to the Russian Catacomb Church and their separation from the Moscow Patriarchate, he says: “True-Orthodox Christians, for the sake of the purity of Christ`s Church, must remain separate from the schismatic body and thereby show it the way of return to the True Church of Christ.” [12p, p. 240, last parag].
For this reason the True Orthodox Christians have decided to protect themselves, “to wall themselves off” from falsehood and heresy. Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili (Synod in Resistance) says that “In this way they [the true Orthodox Christians] are not being the cause of schism in the Church, but, on the contrary, hearken to the voice of the Holy Fathers and the Holy Canons, which praise those who – because of dogmatic reasons – disassociate themselves from hierarchs who openly are preaching falsehood and heresy” [7l, Russian edition p. 23].
“A schism can rightly be called so, when a part of the clergy and laity ceases to have any communion with their canonical hierarchs “without any reason” and “in remediable questions” or due to some hierarch’s personal sins” [7l, p.23].
“The heresy of ecumenism cannot be considered as something insignificant or “a remediable question,” since it has been absolutely truthfully determined as “something much worse than all-heresy,” as “a sickness unto death,” as “a most ominous syncretism,” as “an unheard- of treason” [7l, pp. 23-24].
The path which World Orthodoxy has entered upon began almost a century ago. It is a path which officially accepts ecumenism, Sergianism and worldliness, and cannot and should not be taken as something insignificant. These issues are all heresies or innovations and give the Old Calendar Churches a canonical and moral right to “wall themselves off.”
“Therefore, Metropolitan Cyprian continues, the Old Calendar Faithful are not only not schismatics, but are actually struggling for the peace and unity of the Church” [7l, p. 24, top].
“In this way, “schism” and “God-pleasing walling-oneself-off from heresy” are two diametrically opposed phenomena and can in no way or manner be considered to be the same thing” (p. 24, top).
“It is therefore in vain that the Orthodox anti-ecumenists are being condemned for having supposedly left the Church. This walling-oneself-off from heresy does not mean to leave the Church, but on the contrary to draw oneself closer to Christ our Savior and to be in security inside the strong walls of the Orthodox Truth” [p. 35, bottom to 36 top].
Bishop Photios clarifies this aspect further, saying that”The participation of the Primates and Synods of nearly all of the local Orthodox Churches in the ecumenical movement has divided the members of these Churches into those who follow the heresy of ecumenism and the calendar reform which it produced, and those who have defended the pure and whole Orthodox faith and the unity of the Orthodox Church in that faith [7e, parag. 5 (line 8)].
The canons together with examples from the saints themselves show us that separation – done correctly, for the right causes and at the right moment – is not isolation, but a necessary protection of both oneself and the true faith in order to stay within the Church. It is a misconception to believe that to leave World Orthodoxy (as we know it today) – at any moment and in any circumstances – is wrong altogether. As Protopresbyter (later Bishop) George Grabbe (ROCOR) said in regard to the betrayal of Orthodoxy: “It is better for us to be isolated than to allow ourselves to be drawn into a spiritual quagmire” [16x, p.31]. The Old Calendar Churches are not going into isolation, but are being isolated, simply because they do not want to follow our path of apostasy.
The apostasy going on today, has escalated to such a degree, that there is a canonical and moral justification for leaving. But at the same time there is also a justification for staying. This point we fail, it seems, to understand. How contradictory as it may sound, this is the situation we find ourselves in today.
Accepting the ruinous spirit of World Orthodoxy, we naturally have to consider all who leave us to have fallen away from the Church and lost Grace. If one is to accept the falsehood of World Orthodoxy, it simply cannot be otherwise. Thus – amid falsehood – we manage to keep ourselves “pure.”
Who is to blame for Schisms?
We believe that the faithful who have left ROCOR/MP because of the union with World Orthodoxy, have jumped into the pit of schismatic gracelessness. But is it actually not ROCOR/MP, who by its broken promises and rejection of a true Orthodox stand, have stumbled and fell? Is it not us, who have actually been pushed, or more correctly, have willingly walked all the way up to the edge and have jumped?
Sadly enough, many of us have become a bit cynical in our view of World Orthodoxy. So many times have we seen promises being broken, confirmations of faithfulness trod upon and truth being turned upside down in the most eloquent and scholastic way. Sad to say, the childlike naivety and trust most of us had has slowly been replaced with a more real and cynical understanding of things. Somewhere our hearts have become hardened a little. When confronted with the reality of falsehood and hypocrisy, which has threatened to deceive us so many times, our reaction sometimes becomes somewhat harsh.
Our Betrayal of our Orthodox Brothers and Sisters.
There has been no serious protest from ROCOR/MP against the general apostasy, neither have we shown any support for the Old Calendar Churches. On the very contrary, as Bishop Photios sadly points out:
“It is also worthy of note, that the ‘Orthodox’ ecumenists often shamelessly and in a brutal manner betray their Orthodox brothers, who have the courage to defend the purity of their faith.” [7e, second-last parag.].
This is correct. The Old Calendar faithful are a small persecuted flock, who struggle with all the various problems coming from being so small. They have been abandoned and left to defend themselves not only against the sin of the world, but even against us – their fellow Christian brothers and sisters. We ridicule them and justify ourselves with joyous satisfaction, when seeing them struggle hard with internal problems. One can rightly ask whether their problems actually are more serious than heresy and apostasy. Love of this world is the easy path, it demands of us no particular efforts, but the path of the Cross is the hard path.
We in World Orthodoxy accuse the Old Calendar Movement of “having no love.” But how do we ourselves show the love of God to our fellow brothers and sisters? The history of the Old Calendar Movement shows, sadly enough, that we have been – and are being – quite cruel in our attitude toward the True Orthodox Christians. It seems to be that our love stops here. What is left is often a complete lack of understanding of them,
animosity, and hatred – not much different from what we accuse the True Orthodox Christians of having.
Father Seraphim Rose testifies to the importance of being in spiritual union with the true confessors of Orthodoxy:“We Orthodox in the free world are without any excuse if we fail to show precisely our solidarity with the Catacomb Church and her fearless confession of God`s Truth and righteousness. The True-Orthodox Church is the standard of Orthodoxy in Russia today, and it requires no “imagination” or secret information for us to know that standard and measure ourselves by it.” [12p, p. 245, parag. 1].
This explains why ROCOR/MP defrocked Metropolitan Agafangel.
The defrocking can only be described as a deeply destructive act, since it was done deliberately with the purpose of further cutting all ties with the Old Calendar Churches. As with the Pharisees, who accused our Savior of not only breaking the Law of Moses and being from “Galilee,” but also “rebelling” against their church-authority, so also we now discredit the Old Calendar Churches by focusing on our own outward legalism, while wholly overlooking the very essence of why the Old Calendar Churches actually are acting as they do.
Freedom to serve Christ.
World Orthodoxy, in its close bonds (economically, politically etc.) with the anti-Orthodox institutions and governments of this world, has lost its possibility to be completely free in its decisions. The loss of this inner freedom was what ROCOR feared most of all.
“The True Orthodox Church, says Fr. Steven Allen (GOC), is free to be Christians. We are not given money by, we are not controlled by the new world order…We are free from the spirit of Antichrist…” [16v, part 3].
Father Steven Allen characterizes the essence of World Orthodoxy today saying that it is “collaboration with the spirit of this world and the ruler of this world – which is the devil – and the institutions the devil is using to prepare the rein of Antichrist.” World Orthodoxy has thus become – or is becoming – an instrument in the preparation and acceptance of Antichrist. The Old Calendar Faithful will simply not take part in any of this.
The holy fathers of ROCOR, continues Fr. Steven Allen, said that
“The essential difference between the Catacomb Church and the Moscow Patriarchate, and ROCOR and the other groups is that we have freedom in
Christ. Our soul is free to follow our conscience. When one loses his conscience, he has nothing.” [16v, part 3].
Grace or the right Confession of Faith.
One may argue that since I believe Grace to be present in World Orthodoxy, then there is no justification for people to leave. But that is not so at all. As Father Seraphim Rose so often stressed, it is paramount to approach today’s church-issues not only with the mind but also with the heart. Thus he says:“If there seems to be a “logical contradiction” here (“if you don’t deny her Mysteries, why don’t you have communion with her?”), it is a problem only for rationalists; those who approach church questions with the heart as well as the head have no trouble accepting this position, which is the testament bequeathed to the Russian Church of the Diaspora by her wise Chief Hierarch, Metropolitan Anastassy (+1965).”
Another aspect (beside Grace) which has been put forth as a valid reason for union with the Moscow Patriarchate is the fact that the Russian people in their homeland are openly and freely expressing their faith. And truly, it warms the heart to see our brothers and sisters in Christ sincerely living a conscious Orthodox life. Monasteries, churches, schools etc. are being built. But does all this have any connection with whether or not we, including the Russian faithful themselves, ought to accept and unite in spirit with the Moscow Patriarchate – a church organization which obviously is confessing falsehood?
During the Soviet period, ROCOR always expressed its spiritual ties with its suffering brothers and sisters in the homeland. We rejoiced and lamented with them, but it never became a reason for prematurely uniting with the Moscow Patriarchate. If one were to take the great number of Russian believers now openly expressing their sincere and pious faith, as a valid reason for union, then one could also easily begin to look toward the equally sincere and pious Monophysite, Catholic, and Protestant believers. Are we supposed to take manifestations of sincere faith and piety among people as valid grounds for accepting a church organization which clearly participates in and accepts falsehood? If we are, then we will very likely become victims of Antichrist, who will make all efforts to focus only on external aspects, while neglecting the inner aspects of faithfulness to Christ. With this I naturally do not deny the sincerity and piety of the Russian
people. What I mean is that Antichrist will allow each of us to live a conscious and sincere Christian life. He will ask of us only to acknowledge him as our leader – should it be even just informally and quite superficially. We must not make the crucial mistake of believing that it will never be of any significance to acknowledge a false and truly antichristian church- administration of the Antichrist if we just personally strive to live a truly pious Christian life. But this is indeed the mistake we are making. This is what we are slowly being prepared to believe and do, from 1927, until now.
Therefore, the right question to ask is actually not, whether or not there is Grace in World Orthodoxy, or whether or not we see manifestations of sincere piety among the people, but whether or not World Orthodoxy confesses the right faith and walks on the path of the Cross. And that, we see, as a whole, it does not.
Another important aspect must also be noted. A tendency has been seen today to focus on miracles and signs as proof of one`s beliefs. Such a tendency though, may be deceitful. One must not forget that the power of Antichrist`s deceit will lie in his “miracles” combined with an extreme spiritual charismatic power and eloquence. According to human reason, he will be perfect in all ways. We must therefore not search for the Truth in something outward, but only on that which is truly authentic Orthodoxy. As has been said earlier, the Christianity of Antichrist will look exactly the same as true Orthodoxy, and yet be completely permeated with the spirit of this world and based wholly on man`s reason. Signs and miracles or any other outward manifestations, therefore, should not be trusted as guides to where the truth is and is not.
The faithful, therefore, look to the Scriptures and the holy Fathers as Christ teaches us. God Himself asks of us to follow His commandments. So the Old Calendar Churches have chosen to be obedient to that command and some do it with true soberness and worthiness. These Churches are actually the ones showing true obedience to Christ, and not we in World Orthodoxy. The spiritually sober Old Calendar Churches have thus quietly stepped away – not from the Church – but from falsehood, hoping that their brothers and sisters in Christ one day will come to understand the false path they have taken.
The Old Calendar Movement and its Struggle.
The Old Calendar Movement consists of Churches or Synods which have all separated themselves from World Orthodoxy. Throughout its short history these Churches have been struggling with internal problems, which to some extent have overshadowed an otherwise courageous stand. It becomes further complicated, when some of these Churches lack even a wholly valid ground for their existence. We have seen examples of spiritual and administrative instability, questionable divisions, a judgmental attitude and lack of moderation, together with a focus on that which perhaps is not of such primary importance in the defense of Orthodoxy. This chapter will look into some of these sorrowful and difficult issues of the Old Calendar Movement.
The issue of Grace versus no Grace.
One of these issues, I believe, is the issue of Grace. Thus, the Sacraments of the New Calendar Churches are considered graceless by some Old Calendar Churches, based solely on the acceptance of the New calendar. Even though disagreeing with such a stand, one can easily understand the reason for it. The Old Calendar, even though not a dogma of Faith, has always been seen as a strong symbol of faithfulness to Christ. Hence, with the introduction of the New Calendar in 1924, the issue of gracelessness was quite naturally raised. Such a stand is therefore wholly understandable, but still, I believe, not altogether justified.
The position of those who believe that Grace in the Sacraments, for the time being, is still present, is more, I believe, in concordance with the reality we actually see today. Because, even though the process of losing Grace definitely began almost a century ago and is currently speeding up – due not only to the introduction of the New Calendar but now also to direct heresy – the very result of this process – the loss of Grace, in view of what we see today, obviously did not happen instantly among the faithful itself. The words of Professor Andreev, even though said more than 50 years ago, still justify, I believe, such a stand. He allows some doubt – either of Grace or of no Grace. But in allowing Grace to be present, he at the same time
stressed the importance of distinguishing between a natural flow of Grace – due to faithfulness to Christ, – and an unnatural flow (so to say), sent by God in His infinite mercy toward us.
What he tried to explain was that one must never consider a given Church or church administration, which in actuality has fallen away from the Truth, to be a natural receiver of Grace, when there actually is no canonical basis for such a stand. If one begins to do so, one begins also to ascribe undue holiness to such an administration and to accept whatever it may say, while considering those who do not agree with it, as being in error. One will then automatically emulate the deeds and thoughts of it, and slowly but surely turn into what that Church is. This is what actually has taken place in our recognition of the Catholic and Monophysite Churches as Grace-filled Churches. Such a process did also occur when the Moscow Patriarchate acknowledged the Soviet Union to be God-given. This is exactly what is now happening to ROCOR/MP, having wholly accepted the Moscow Patriarchate.
One can indeed understand if somebody would dare doubt Grace to be present in certain Orthodox Churches today, and it would be much easier to state that Grace has left World Orthodoxy altogether. There is basis for such a conclusion, since World Orthodoxy must be viewed as One Church which has welcomed heresy into its bosom. God is the God of order and not of confusion, so why would He allow confusion among His faithful, by suddenly “accepting” that which the canons do not accept as a rule?
Despite all the complete logic of such reasoning, I am nevertheless inclined to accept the fact that God does allow Grace to act for the time being. God is the God of order, but first and foremost He is the God of love, and He does not accept falsehood, but He bears with us in His love and gives us time for repentance. He warns us, though, that if we will not repent, He will eventually spit us out – meaning, take His Grace away.
The Church of Christ versus the Church-organization.
One must remember that the Church of Christ and the administrative organization of the Church here on earth cannot always be considered to be one in the same. The first has Grace forever, being the Body of Christ, while the latter can in fact lack this Grace, due to heresy, being merely an institution. The organizational part of World Orthodoxy today can very likely lack Grace, due to its path of apostasy, while the troubled faithful, in
God`s mercy, for the moment nevertheless receive Grace without hindrance. Steven Allen (GOC) expresses it the following way:These (World Orthodox) bishops are heretics and thus they are outside the Church. That is clear. But simultaneously our intuition tells us that not all of their flock are outside the Church just yet, by some mysterious economy of the merciful God. So what can we do? Lord have mercy! “
The Confession of Faith (2009) expresses, quite surprisingly, a very similar thought: “This pan-heresy has been accepted by many Orthodox patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, clergymen, monks and laity. They teach it, “bareheaded,” they apply it and impose it in practice, communing with heretics in every possible manner – with common prayers, with exchanges of visits, with pastoral collaborations – thus essentially placing themselves outside the Church. (emphasis mine).
In a footnote the authors then explains this statement in more detail, saying that “What is not meant here is an institutional departure from the Church by excommunication or anathema. And this is clear by the use of the terms “essentially” and “placing themselves.” Rather, what is meant is that by their actions and their words they have separated themselves in essence from the Church – from Her Fathers, Her Way and Her Life. They have essentially removed themselves from the Church by no longer following the Holy Fathers, no longer expressing the Orthodox Faith.”
What is said here, if understood correctly, is that it is not the local Church as a whole, but only the heretical bishops and faithful, which the authors believe have cut themselves off from the Church due to heresy. The authors apparently make a distinction between the individual heretical bishops (even though they officially do preach heresy) and the whole local Church. The bishops, they state, are essentially outside the Church but not their flock. This is exactly my point. God in His infinite mercy – for the time being “by some mysterious economy” – still allows the flock to receive Grace in the Sacraments.
This in fact justifies (and explains) both positions held in the Old Calendar Churches in regard to Grace, depending on which part you speak about in World Orthodoxy – the Church-organization or the Orthodox flock.
Now, does this mean that we must be obedient to these bishops in their heresy? No, of course not.
The Confession`s statement is very important, since it (finally) straight forwardly explains what is in fact taking place today and how we as faithful must response to this apostasy. There is absolutely nothing blameworthy of this, neither is there any fanaticism in such a stand. On the contrary, the authors deserve all praise for having finally called things by their right name
and helped to set some firm and necessary guidelines for the faithful to follow.
What are we the faithful then to do? The Confession does not leave us without an answer. In the same point 8 we read further:
“Our stance, per the Conciliar canonical decisions and per the example of the Saints, is obvious. Each one must now assume his responsibilities.” In the footnote these words are explained by the authors: “The passage draws on the 15th canon of the 1st -2nd Synod…[a passage which the Old Calendar Churches have likewise always drawn on]. It leaves the particular course of action – based on the canons and councils and fathers – to the discretion of each. The Confession follows suit, clearly naming the heresy and calling all to appropriate response, but leaving the particulars to each one`s discretion (“Each one must now assume his responsibilities”).
Some Old Calendar Churches, though, believe the canon does not leave it up to only one`s discretion in order to cease commemoration and even to leave World Orthodoxy, but makes it into an obligation, based on the commentary of the most respected Nikodim Milash. But this is not my point here. What is important to notice here, is the fact that the Traditionalists in World Orthodoxy – if we are to understand the words as they are being said – actually also justify now a ceasing of commemoration, if one wishes to do so.
One cannot but sense here how the authors are seriously beginning to lose patience with their bishops. One could even be inclined to believe that they are also beginning to slowly but very cautiously open the (hereto closed) possibility of leaving World Orthodoxy altogether. In any case, it shows us, that many Traditionalists in World Orthodoxy are getting more and more impatient with their church-leaders.
A humble Stand.
I believe God bears not only with World Orthodoxy but also with all the Old Calendar Churches and is merciful to them all. Humbly accepting this stand the Traditionalists both in World Orthodoxy and the Old Calendar Movement will be expressing a more sober understanding of their own imperfection that leaves room to accept mistakes from within and criticism from without, without immediately judging the other side, defrocking clergy and hierarchs or creating new divisions. It will keep us on more even ground and help unite us. If such an approach should be taken, it would also help unite the Old Calendar Churches among themselves.
Some people would probably consider this something like the infamous branch-theory; how can both World Orthodoxy and the Old Calendar Churches have grace? It seems to lack all logic. But that is exactly the mistake we make. Orthodoxy can never be put into some logical and mathematical formula, where one plus one equals two. Such an approach, if used purely categorically and without looking into the essence and process of a falling away, may be in danger of not being Orthodox at all. It may seem strictly canonical, even Orthodox, but perhaps not in the exact spirit of either these same Canons or of the Church. This refers also to World Orthodoxy in their approach to the Old Calendar Churches.
World Orthodoxy is in serious danger though, perhaps sooner than later, of falling off completely like a branch and dying. This process of eventually losing grace is now speeding up rapidly due to our continuously unrepentant state and apostasy. So what we today actually are witnessing is a World Orthodoxy going through the process of further and further withering, further and further dying from the moment it began its path of ecumenism and Sergianism. World Orthodoxy is standing on the threshold of being spit out, to turn into “an assemblage of Satan.”
The Union between the GOC,
the Russian Catacomb Church and ROCOR.
It must also be stressed that such saintly hierarchs as St. John of Shanghai, the saintly Philaret of New York, Archbishops Leonty, Averky, Seraphim, Savva and others like Father Seraphim Rose and professor Andreev, all were in one spirit with the True Orthodox Christians of the Old Calendar Churches and considered them our Sister-Churches for decades. Accepting a more moderate approach in regard to the issue of Grace, it is obvious that they did not consider this issue to be a reason for divisions among the True Orthodox Christians. Therefore I also see no problem at all since the path of these Churches clearly has been sanctified by God through our saintly hierarchs. One has only to read the history of the Old Calendar Movement in Russia, Greece, Rumania, Bulgaria and other Orthodox countries to understand how many truly amazing Old Calendar believers have literally laid down their lives for Christ in order to defend Orthodoxy.
We see that the history of the Old Calendar Movement in Greece and the Russian Catacomb Church consisted of a cruel persecution from the Official Churches, Churches with which we now joyously concelebrate.
Many Traditionalists of the New Calendar Church of Greece in those days (even up to our day) condemned the stand of their fellow brothers and sisters in the Old Calendar Church and in this way let, and are still letting, them down in their struggle.
The Issue of Conciliarity and Stability.
Another issue among the Old Calendar Churches is their lack of conciliarity. Even though they essentially confess the exact same Orthodox faith, many of them are not able to unite. One reason for this is their disagreement on the issue of Grace.
Yet another problem with some Old Calendar faithful is their lack of stability and basic spiritual discernment. Minor mistakes or issues of secondary importance become all too quickly valid reasons for divisions – not only from ROCOR in the past, but also from each other among themselves – with no fear of breaking the sacred unity of the Church or Synod to which they belong. Some Churches cannot be said to have even a canonical or moral justification for their existence.
Some overly zealous believers have a tendency to turn minor issues among themselves into something essential, on which the whole of Orthodoxy literally stands and falls, while perhaps these issues do not deserve such attention. In many cases, these issues could easily be resolved if only a spirit of moderation and understanding of what truly is important were present. Father Steven Allen (GOC) rightly points out, that much could have been avoided if only the Old Calendar Churches would have agreed to disagree on the two questions of Grace and communion of New Calendarists.
And yet, Father Seraphim Rose warned us not to dismiss the Old Calendar Movement as something extreme just because of their internal problems: “Unfortunately, it sometimes happens, especially in the heat of controversy, that basically sound Orthodox positions are exaggerated on one side, and misunderstood on the other, and thus an entirely misleading impression is created in some minds that the cause of true Orthodoxy today is a kind of “extremism,” a sort of “right-wing reaction” to the prevailing “left-wing” course now being followed by the leaders of the “official” Orthodox Churches. Such a political view of the struggle for true Orthodoxy today is entirely false” [7m, parag. 10: “It is of…”].
Thus, Father Seraphim Rose, even in his time, testified to the fact that among the most sober Old Calendar Churches a striving for a more moderate
stand was increasing: “This struggle [of true Orthodoxy], on the contrary, has taken the form, among its best representatives today—whether in Russia, Greece, or the Diaspora—of a return to the patristic path of moderation, a mean between extremes; this is what the Holy Fathers call the ROYAL PATH.” [7m, parag. 10].
Father Seraphim Rose speaks here about the Russian Catacomb Church of his time and the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece (GOC). Among their best representatives a return to the patristic path of moderation was seen (Fr. Seraphim Rose died in 1982).
Along with these Churches we also see other representatives of the moderate path. Thus four, even though quite small, Old Calendar Churches have united: the ROCOR under His Eminence, Metropolitan Agafangel, the Synod in Resistance and the Bulgarian (Bishop Photios) and Romanian (Bishop Vlasy) Old Calendar Churches. It is interesting to notice that the unity among these parts of the Old Calendar Movement seems to be stable and fairly easily attained. Furthermore, following the traditional stand of ROCOR, they have carefully been avoiding extreme proclamations which normally only complicate things.
Generally speaking, we see that World Orthodoxy tends to focus more on merely an outward formal order and unity and less on the inward faithfulness to Christ, while the Old Calendar Movement is focusing on this inward disposition of being faithful to Christ, but suffering from a lack in outward unity.
But this lack of outward unity is explained in the story about the shipwreck of St. Paul, where the planks and boards where all scattered in the sea. The situation, in which the Old Calendar Movement find itself today, can therefore also not be considered a truly normal state of the Church, but – as we see – under certain conditions it can be a necessity and even God- pleasing. It is a phenomenon which will become clearer with time. The Old Calendar Movement is being characterized as a sectarian group which eventually is bound to die out. Such has, is and will always be the general stand in World Orthodoxy and is, naturally, not surprising. The reality, though, is quite different. The Old Calendar Movement, in general, is in fact very alive spiritually and not dying out at all. But its existence is hidden, and quiet, living under very humble and difficult circumstances. It is guided by simple and pious, but not unlearned, faithful, who have as their only goal faithfulness to Christ – even unto death. “With God`s help, says Fr.Steven Allen (GOC) we will not compromise the dogma`s of the Church or the Orthodox life, to serve an anti-Christian philosophy, and anti-Christian
institutions and take part in the spirit of Antichrist and the preparations for his coming.” [16v, part 3].
This is the path of the future – the Catacombs. If we, while in World Orthodoxy, do not acquire this spirit now, we will not be able to acquire it in the future.
This is said not to justify divisions as a rule. Division in essence is evil. It can never be accepted as an ideal or virtue. There is no such thing as a God-pleasing division, there can only be a God-pleasing walling off from falsehood. Our soul should always be inclined to union, as long as this does not run counter to the Orthodox Faith and spirit. Sometimes such unity demands much effort and personal sacrifice, because we fallen human beings are, as a rule, much too proud to humble ourselves. Unfortunately, the path of some Old Calendar believers is founded not on this God-pleasing walling off from falsehood, but simply on pride. Their soul is not inclined to union, even if the possibility were to occur, but only to separatism. In fact, this kind of separation from World Orthodoxy (and other Old Calendar Churches), based on human passions, has only harmed the Church. That is why the acquiring of the spirit of Orthodoxy is so important – this feeling of authentic Orthodoxy, based on spiritual discernment. This is not acquired by the intellect alone or by reading the canons; not even by having a correct Faith, but only through sincere humility as shown us by Christ Himself.
Canonicity or the Spirit of Orthodoxy.
Observing the history of the Old Calendar Churches, one notices that many of these Churches cannot be considered to be completely without some canonical irregularities. World Orthodoxy looks, therefore, categorically at all Old Calendar Churches as completely uncanonical and graceless groups. In this way they stress something which, in comparison to faithfulness to Christ and His Church, is wholly secondary.
There is, in many cases, a reason for the above-mentioned irregularities. The condition in which we find World Orthodoxy today, is – due to its apostasy – far from normal. Many of these irregularities (but not all) must therefore be evaluated in the light of this apostasy, in order to be understood properly. When done so, we understand that they actually are a result of this apostasy. Even though these irregularities do exist and perhaps could have been avoided in some instances, they can nevertheless not be
considered to be the major problem of today. They are only the result of something much more serious.
The most serious of all problems today is the betrayal of our Faith and especially the lack of the spirit of Orthodoxy, whether in World Orthodoxy or in some Old Calendar Churches. This is so because the apostasy, leading to the acceptance of Antichrist, will first and foremost be the lack of that very spirit and not canonicity. That is why the essence of the apostasy of World Orthodoxy (including some Old Calendar Churches) actually is the lack of this spirit of Orthodoxy resulting in a focus on the outward appearance of Orthodoxy supported by its “canonicity” and “legalism” (and over-intellectualism). Thus, membership in World Orthodoxy, and not faithfulness to Christ, has slowly become the main criterion for being among the “chosen people.” The Church-organization has replaced the Church of Christ. In the exact same spirit, Antichrist will be accepted as the “legal” and “God-elected” King. This formality and legalism, rooted in the love for this world, was what Christ so strongly fought against and which eventually nailed Him to the Cross. The exact same phenomenon can be seen with some Old Calendar believers as well, in their focus on a mathematically outward Faith, while being inwardly deprived of its spirit of discernment, love and humility.
Problems occur, therefore, in cases where the spirit of Orthodoxy is lacking and not so much because of canonical irregularities. Acknowledging these problems, one understands that the loss of the savor of Orthodoxy is far from limited only to World Orthodoxy. This loss is seen in the whole Christian world due to the general spiritual decline.
Love and spiritual Soberness.
We have also noticed among some of the Old Calendar faithful, behaviors which are not always Christian. It has been seen to be sectarian, and a normal relationship can sometimes be quite difficult and unpleasant.
A tendency among some Old Calendar faithful to zealously defend Orthodoxy, without having acquired even the most basic virtues of humility and Christian love, discredits what otherwise could be a glorious example to follow. A tendency has also been seen among some believers – despite their moderation – of an over-eagerness to constantly pick up on everything which could compromise the faithful, either in World Orthodoxy or other Old Calendar Churches, without any proper documentation. Thus slander and animosity are created. Combined with their divisions and mutual
accusations, one can understand why the faithful in ROCOR/MP become cautious when confronted with this. The Old Calendar Churches are unfortunately now all looked upon as one whole, as a fanatic and schismatic movement, while the true picture is much more different than that.
The Old Calendar faithful – God`s people.
While it is true that we do see some Old Calendar believers whose spiritual state is lamentable, one can certainly not conclude from this that such is the general state of all the Old Calendar Churches. One must remember that these people once were children of World Orthodoxy, and yet we did not conclude from this that World Orthodoxy as a whole was or is a fanatical graceless group. Such people belong to World Orthodoxy as well as to the Old Calendar Churches. Regarding the majority of faithful in the Old Calendar Movement – they are sincere, loving and pious people who are simply trying to stay true to Christ as best they can. “We pray to God, says Fr. Steven Allen (GOC) that He will give us enough to take care of our families, to build our churches, to take care of our people, but without compromising our faith.” [16v, part 4].
These simple words express in general very well the actual picture of the Old Calendar Movement.
It is important to differentiate between the spiritually sober faithful and the spiritually unhealthy ones in order to understand properly this Movement. One must keep in mind that the problems of the Old Calendar Churches are a result of an extremely difficult struggle. One should therefore be careful not to confuse these problems with the otherwise sound Orthodox stand which they have taken against apostasy. It is important to remember that, despite their courageous stand of confession, these faithful are, as well as everyone else, also influenced by the general spiritual decline which we see today.
The Old Calendar Churches are the planks and boards in the sea, all broken and influenced by the imperfection of human nature, but still serving their goal as the Body of Christ – to save those who in sincerity cling to them. Father Steven Allen (GOC) says that the Old Calendar faithful do not believe themselves to be “something special. ” “We are not the greatest Orthodox who have ever lived, we are the worst, but we are still in the Church, we are still Orthodox….We are hanging on to Orthodoxy by our fingernails, but World Orthodox have let go…” [16v. part 4].
The Old Calendar Movement is being characterized as a sectarian group which eventually is bound to die out. Such has, is and will always be the general stand in World Orthodoxy and is, naturally, not surprising. The reality, though, is quite different. The Old Calendar Movement, in general, is in fact very alive spiritually and not dying out at all. But its existence is hidden, and quiet, living under very humble and difficult circumstances. It is guided by simple and pious, but not unlearned, faithful, who have as their only goal faithfulness to Christ – even unto death. “With God`s help, says Fr.Steven Allen (GOC) we will not compromise the dogma`s of the Church or the Orthodox life, to serve an anti-Christian philosophy, and anti- Christian institutions and take part in the spirit of Antichrist and the preparations for his coming.” [16v, part 3].
This is the path of the future – the Catacombs. If we, while in World Orthodoxy, do not acquire this spirit now, we will not be able to acquire it in the future.
The Royal Path of true Love and Confession.
The traditional faithful in World Orthodoxy have decided to stay where they are out of fear – as they believe – of breaking the unity of the Church. Such a feeling of godly fear (of breaking the sacred Church-unity) is definitely worthy of praise. For the time being these faithful in World Orthodoxy bear the falsehood with a troubled heart – out of love for God and His creation. Unfortunately, many Old Calendar faithful fail to understand such a stand, and consider it a betrayal of Christ. On the other hand, Traditionalists in World Orthodoxy look with only little favor on the Old Calendar Churches. That is a grave mistake on their part and does also not help fight falsehood. We speak about love and yet we reject our very closest brothers and sisters in Christ, who are confessing Christ.
As has already been shown fairly clearly we Traditionalists in World Orthodoxy have no justification for condemning the stand of the sober Old Calendar Churches. On the contrary, it is they who justly can condemn our deviation from a traditional Orthodox stand. It is we who essentially are the cause of the many so-called “schisms” and jurisdictional (not to mention personal) confusion. We must therefore humble ourselves more and change our attitude towards the sober Old Calendar Churches, when we consider their stand of “walling themselves off from falsehood” to be misguided and deluded.
Made in the Image of Christ.
People are made in the image of Christ, Who is love and Truth. Today, when the love of Christ – so essential for a normal human existence – slowly is growing cold, people even more begin to feel an urgent personal need for this love. People just want a normal and loving Christian relationship with their fellow brothers and sisters. This explains to some extent why so many sincere ecumenical Christians, whether Orthodox or non-Orthodox, are emphasizing love so much. In their church and parish life a sincere care and concern for the individual is often shown. Indeed, without love and care, expressed directly between people on a daily and personal basis, nothing will last. It is without this love that families break up, schools fail, parishes split, and monasteries are abandoned.
Such emphasis on love is only natural and quite understandable. But in order for this love to be not only pleasant, but also truly God-pleasing and salvific, it must be combined with a true confession of Faith. This is a command from Christ Himself and has always been the teaching of the Church.
In willingly accepting a teaching contrary to what Christ has handed down to us in His Church, the non-Orthodox Christians have set themselves outside the Church of Christ.
They are thus deprived of the Holy Mysteries, without which there is no life, according to the words of our Savior. Consequently, their love, which they have, essentially stems from the natural but fallen man, and not from God. True love for God would never reject His Church.
In rejecting the historical and Apostolic Church, founded by Christ Himself, they destroy the unity of His Church and the unity of the one Faith. This has resulted in a multitude of Christian sects and denominations, each holding to their own teaching and sometimes immoral decisions.
These Churches – emphasizing love on a personal human level – are capable of satisfying only the basic needs of spirituality and human fellowship, which we all have, but they will never be able to bring a person to deification, which is our main goal here on earth. Taking these crumbs for real bread, they are thus denying themselves the true life. Their reasoning and logic stem from the fallen man, resulting in the complete rejection of the One true Apostolic Church – the Body of Christ. That is the core of their deception. They stubbornly reject that Church which Christ founded 2000 years ago, which was not the Catholic, nor the Protestant Church, but the Orthodox Church. Thus, left to themselves, without the guidance, reasoning and Grace of the true Church of Christ, they build their own Christian Churches, with their own set of moral and dogmatic rules, according to what their human and fallen reason dictates. Only rarely can they be convinced that what they believe is their own man-made Christian Church, which has neither the ability to truly differentiate between good and evil, nor the salvific Grace in their Sacraments.
As is seen, one extreme cannot be compensated by another extreme. The only way is the Royal path of both love and true confession. This Royal Path exists only and exclusively in the One Holy Apostolic Orthodox Church, founded by Christ Himself. For this reason, Christ said of Himself, that He is both Love and Truth, thus showing us what we need in order to be true human beings and receive salvation.
Sincere Christian love and true confession is our very main criterion for being in the Church of Christ. Because that criterion will tell us that neither the emphasis on a true faith alone (which leads to Pharisaism) nor on a personal Christian love (which leads to Protestantism and apostasy) will each individually represent the fullness of Christ’s Church, but only both of them together. That, in general, we see today in the spiritually sober Old Calendar Churches as, for example, the ones with which we were formerly in union. But I would at the same time argue that we also find this (true Faith and love) in the truly sincere Traditionalists within World Orthodoxy, who with a deeply troubled heart are trying to be faithful to Christ. That, I believe, is – for the time being – the common ground, which the sober and moderate Traditionalists, both in the Old Calendar Churches and World Orthodoxy, share. There we should meet and unite for a true witness of Orthodoxy, despite our jurisdictional separation.
I believe therefore that, for the time being, World Orthodoxy together with the Old Calendar Churches are all to be considered part of the Church of Christ – the Church of Laodicea. Who, then, of the faithful, are on the right path? I believe that for the moment the only answer to this question is: only those who sincerely walk on the Royal path of Christian love and true confession of the Orthodox Faith.
The Justification of being in World Orthodoxy.
Some ask the question: how can one walk on the Royal path of true confession while still being in World Orthodoxy? For them it is like a play with words or simply a betrayal of Orthodoxy. This is so because they approach faithfulness to Christ in a much too formal and categorical way. To be faithful to Christ is – for the time being – not a matter of just belonging to an Old Calendar Church, but more of acquiring the spirit of Orthodoxy – of Christ. If a person acquires this spirit he is, without doubt, justified for the moment, in being in World Orthodoxy. World Orthodoxy, though, is on its way to completely losing Grace. When it does lose it, there can, of course, be no justification anymore. The dangerous part, therefore, in being in World Orthodoxy, is that one perhaps will not see or know when that moment occurs. In order to be able to see or know that, one must not take part in any falsehood – whether personally or officially – as we now do.
Many in ROCOR/MP have chosen to accept their staying in World Orthodoxy, understanding the falsehood as only a part of their struggle – a falsehood that eventually will pass. In that case, it is again of utmost importance that we – all the faithful under the Moscow Patriarchate – reject this falsehood wholeheartedly, that we are in World Orthodoxy only because of love for God and His Church, and not because we believe World Orthodoxy is on the right path, because it is not. And we must not pretend that it is.
There can be no doubt that sooner or later, the true Traditionalists in World Orthodoxy will be forced to part with their ecumenical and sergianist hierarchs and in this way eventually end up as a small and persecuted group – exactly as the many True Orthodox Christians are now. That is why it is so important to acknowledge the path of the spiritually sober Old Calendar Churches. Because in categorically rejecting their path we have already now made our choice of accepting the Antichrist. The very moment we take part in or even just silently accept any of the falsehood in World Orthodoxy, we immediately lose all justification for being there. If we therefore continue to show our acceptance of the apostatizing World Orthodoxy, our voluntary union with them will unquestionably turn out to be to our very own condemnation.
The Justification of being in the Old Calendar Movement.
Likewise, the only thing, I believe, which could rightly justify a separation from World Orthodoxy is sincere love for God and man. This love must not be of an abstract character, but be expressed daily in our personal relationship with both God and our fellow brother. Without that, one will not benefit from joining an Old Calendar Church, but only harm himself and the Church of Christ. Without a true love for God and man, without humility in the true sense of the word, the very existence for the Old Calendar Movement (and World Orthodoxy) loses all its justification. Zeal for Orthodoxy is truly praiseworthy, but if it is not tempered with moderation and spiritual soberness, itwill fall into extremity and sectarianism. To join the Church of Christ in order to be saved from falsehood, one must do so with the disposition of love, repentance and humility, not the opposite.
Confession without Compassion – Path to Damnation.
In speaking of spiritual soberness I refer not so much to the question of Grace as to whether or not the faithful are demonstrating sincere love and a sound, humble Christian behavior and mindset. In my experience with the GOC in America (Chrysostomos II), for example, I certainly see Christian love and a sound Christian behavior there from the faithful I have met, from both hierarchs, clergy and laity. One can also mention, I believe, other Old Calendar faithful belonging, for example, to the Tikhonites, ROAC and other Catacomb and Old Calendar Churches, whose piety and right belief conscientiously have being preserved. One cannot measure the truth of a path only by its moderation in regard to Grace. The true measurements are humility together with Christian love and a right belief.
The various Old Calendar (and World Orthodox) faithful who are not demonstrating sincere love and true humility find themselves in a very dangerous position, even more dangerous than that of World Orthodoxy. This is justified by the many “woes” to the Pharisees, who in everything rightly confessed the Jewish faith, down to the smallest iota, but nevertheless were called children of Satan. That is something for both World Orthodoxy and some Old Calendar Churches to reflect upon.
Professor Andreyev therefore says that “an honest, chaste mind, who does not depend on himself, but feeds on the mind of Christ, and the loving heart filled with the love of Christ – these are the Orthodox conditions of sobriety and discernment, helping the believing church-going man to correctly understand all questions.” [17i, p. 53, last parag.].
“We must start with love and humility, and then go on to the rest”
says Elder Paisios. Without a loving heart and true faith we are all deprived of salvation. Confessing a true faith but lacking in love and humility we may technically be in the Church, but we deprive ourselves of salvation. Such “confession” is as dangerous as heresy. On the other hand, if we show only “love”, but confess heresy we set ourselves outside the Church. Fr. Steven Allen (GOC) says that “We must, above all, be living the Orthodox life. In true Orthodoxy we cannot just say we believe in the dogmas and the canons. We also have to have the content of Orthodoxy, which is prayer, the spiritual life. This is very important.” [16v, part4].
True faith and true love come therefore from a sincere repentance, which is the mother of the two. That is why the very first words of Christ to the jews was “Repent!”
The Sober Old Calendar Faithful
and true Traditionalists in World Orthodox
our Unity in Love and Truth. Four Categories of the Orthodox Faithful.
I would say all the Orthodox faithful could be divided into four categories or groups today. World Orthodoxy consists of two groups. In the first group, being the majority of Orthodox believers, we see the ecumenists, together with those believers who indifferently just follow along the mainstream World Orthodoxy. The second group consists of the Traditionalists who are against ecumenism and Sergianism.
The last two groups are represented by the Old Calendar faithful. On one side we see those faithful who are spiritually sober, on the other the spiritually unhealthty faithful, bordering on being sectarian in behavior and mindset. The ecumenists in World Orthodoxy and the spiritually unhealthy Old Calendar faithful both represent their own extreme stand. They are characterized by having gone astray from the Royal Path of Orthodoxy – they have lost the spirit of Orthodoxy. These two paths should be avoided.
The Old Calendar Churches, as for example the Russian Church Abroad (Metropolitan Agafangel) ,together with the Greek Old Calendar Church (GOC, Chrysostomos II), the Synod in Resistance, the Bulgarian and Romanian Old-calendar Churches, represent, I believe an example of the Royal Path, where both a firm, traditional Orthodox faith and Christian love is being preserved. (I mention only these, since I – to some extent – know them personally. Without doubt, there are other sober Old Calendar Churches).
The Royal Path and our Unity in Spirit.
When Father Seraphim Rose spoke about the Royal Path, he essentially had in mind the sober uncompromising stand of True Orthodoxy in Greece, Russia or the ROCOR. For him this was the way of true confession:“We may say that the “royal path” of true Orthodoxy today is a mean that lies between the extremes of ecumenism and reformism on the one side, and a “zeal not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2) on the other. True Orthodoxy does not go “in step with the times” on the one hand, nor
does it make “strictness” or “correctness” or “canonicity” (good in themselves) an excuse for pharisaic self-satisfaction, exclusivism, and distrust, on the other.”… “It is of critical importance, therefore, that this voice be actually one of true, that is, patristic Orthodoxy. [7m, parag. 10 and 13].
The Royal Path, according to Father Seraphim Rose, is therefore faithfulness to Christ, but with a loving and humble heart as its foundation. Such a loving and humble heart always allows a certain room and flexibility to act, both on a personal and official level, without compromising the faith. The “zealous path not according to knowledge,” mentioned by Father Seraphim Rose, is ruled more by the intellect, demanding strict mathematical order and logic, completely in contradiction to the spirit of Christ and His Church. The harmfulness of such “zeal” lies, perhaps not so much in the strictness of viewing things, as when this strictness is combined with an unloving heart and pride, “pharisaic self-satisfaction, exclusivism, and distrust.” Strictness, correctness and canonicity are good in themselves, as Father Seraphim Rose pointed out, but only when applied with a loving and “contrite,” heart. When done so, the strictness loses its sharp edges, which hurts so much and only splits into pieces, and instead receives the ability to unite, soften and heal like the wine and oil, poured on the wounds of the unfortunate man by the Good Samaritan. In regard to ROCOR/MP, our strictness has turned into that same “pharisaic self-satisfaction, exclusivism, and distrust,” when we claim the Old Calendar Churches to be outside the Church and without Grace, while at the same time clearly stepping away from Christ ourselves.
The true Traditionalists in World Orthodoxy are in many ways close to the group of spiritually sober Old Calendar faithful. Their common ground is a stand on the Royal Path of Orthodoxy – of sincere Christian love and true confession. Their difference though, lies in the way they have decided to fight falsehood, either from inside or from outside. The side effect of each being on the opposite side, despite their common ground, is that they begin to look upon each other with mutual animosity. But in doing so, they only further increase that gulf, which already exists between them. Thus, the rejection of Grace, which both World Orthodoxy and some Old Calendar Churches each hold on to, seems in fact to be an extreme which perhaps appeals to the mind and logic, but in actuality has only one purpose – to further divide the spiritually sober and zealous faithful.
There is in fact no need for disagreement at this moment of history as long as they both have decided to walk on the Royal Path of faithfulness to Orthodoxy and a loving heart. If only they could unite in spirit – creating a
union based on the spirit of Christian love and true confession, completely in opposition to the ruinous spirit of World Orthodoxy – then there would be a good balance of stability, moderation, wisdom, love, and godly zeal. This unity is not to be understood as an administrative unity, which is a whole issue in itself and quite complex, but simply as a mutual understanding, that we essentially share the same ideals and admit each other to have Grace.
Father Seraphim Rose himself expressed an understanding of the traditionalist stand in World Orthodoxy, even though he definitely was on the side of the Old Calendar Churches. In his “Royal Path” he says:
“Some, seeing the “official” jurisdictions as now irrevocably set on a course of anti-orthodoxy, are abandoning them as sinking ships and joining the ranks of the True Orthodox Christians; others, still hoping for the restoration of an Orthodox course in world Orthodoxy, think it enough for now to express sympathy for the True Orthodox Christians or to protest boldly against the “reformist” mentality in the official jurisdictions.”[7m, parag. 8].
Unfortunately, we in ROCOR/MP do not even “express sympathy for the True Orthodox Christians or protest boldly against the “reformist” mentality in the official jurisdictions.”
If we allow such issues to divide us as the issues of Grace, canonical irregularities, or the very fact that one is either in World Orthodoxy or in an Old Calendar Church, then I believe we will all be making a serious mistake. The hater of mankind uses all these issues to divide us and thus further create disunity and jurisdictional chaos among us. Our mutual rejection and animosity is thereby destroying the Church and not strengthening it. The true Traditionalists of both World Orthodoxy and the Old Calendar Churches should – for the time being – acknowledge the stand each of them has taken, as long as it is a sincere stand on the Royal path of true Faith and a loving heart.
“It is a time for weeping, mourning, and repentance, and for not being so sure of our opinions,says Father Steven Allen (GOC). Archimandrite Constantine [ROCOR] wrote that many who are far away (Protestants, Catholics) will unite with us against the Antichrist, and that many close (the official Orthodox) will unite with Antichrist against us. We will see amazing and terrible things! When we behold the Face of the Lord, who shall be able to stand before him ???”
World Orthodoxy or
the Old Calendar Movement.
The whole issue of what one ought to do and should do – either to stay in World Orthodoxy or join an Old Calendar Church – is not as simple as some would make it, because both sides in general have in various ways compromised themselves and in some aspects lost their credibility.
A wise bishop (GOC) once said to me, that “one can be saved in World Orthodoxy, but he will not be safe.” The path of the spiritually sober Old Calendar Churches is the straight path, while the path of World Orthodoxy has become the path of compromise and inevitably endangers the possibility of staying faithful to Christ and His Church. Often it does also not instill credibility to their account as true defenders of Orthodoxy. This is even more so when the sober part of the Old Calendar Movement is being discredited by the Traditionalists in World Orthodoxy.
But when that is said, one can in fact apply the exact same words, said by the wise bishop, to certain less sober Old Calendar Churches. This again, shows us, that the only true path is the Royal path of both love and true confession. As Father Seraphim said, the future of Russia depends on whether or not we are willing to follow the spirit of the Russian Catacomb Church – faithfulness to Christ. There can be no doubt whatsoever that the future lies in the Catacombs. Whoever follows the spirit of World Orthodoxy will not be able to follow that path.
It is quite clear that World Orthodoxy has no intention whatsoever of changing their course of apostasy. Let us therefore beware of being too quick to judge our fellow brothers and sisters in the Old Calendar Churches – if, of course, we have not already chosen the side of World Orthodoxy – of apostasy.
Faithfulness to Christ.
True faithfulness to Christ is manifested in both a loving heart and true confession. The foundation of this faithfulness is repentance and a true disdain for the love of this world.
Our faithfulness to Christ, which we in World Orthodoxy claim we have today, has slowly shifted direction and is no longer to Christ only, but also to ourselves. It is the spirit of modern man to please himself. It is an attempt to combine faithfulness to Christ with the love for this world. Thus,
we disagree with falsehood but only so far as not to endanger our position of comfort and friendship with World Orthodoxy. We accept eagerly such a half-hearted stand because it gives us a two-fold peace: to live righteously and to live comfortably. Going against falsehood, at least superficially, we are nevertheless not asked to make any substantial sacrifice. Many stand bewildered. They look at their fellow brothers in World Orthodoxy sitting in sack-clothes with ashes on their heads, while simultaneously filling their stomachs with expensive wines and delicious foods. Such an inner position of man is exactly what the evil powers have worked for at all times. World Orthodoxy has thus become the very platform on which Antichrist will come to power.
To set at Ease our Orthodox Conscience.
Like the troubled Athonite Monks, who only wished to ”set at ease their monastic and Orthodox conscience and to follow the conduct of the Holy Martyrs and Confessors,” so also others are beginning to listen to this inner call, and leave World Orthodoxy. Being in World Orthodoxy is like constantly inhaling polluted air. Sooner or later one just has to get out. We must therefore try to understand that there are Faithful who finally cannot bear this falsehood any longer and God accepts this. He leads these Christian souls to a place where they can be at peace and not in constant agony over the fact that they are compelled to participate in falsehood. God does not want a heart full of agony, but a heart full of joy and faith. The spiritually sober Old Calendar Churches is a safe haven for such a soul. There it can be faithful to its conscience and Christ. It is not an easy path, but a path which shows great faith in Him. It is a path of faithfulness to Christ and His Church. It is a path where finally one can breathe again, among staunch and loving faithful, both monastics and laity. To leave World Orthodoxy does therefore not mean to be guided by rationalism or a cold, unloving heart. Such a view has been created by World Orthodoxy for its own convenience. It shows, on the contrary, that one is still alive spiritually. It is out of true love for God and man that many have left World Orthodoxy, but these faithful are neither seen nor heard. They are the little flock.
The personal Path.
Some perhaps would argue that the best thing to do is to pay no attention to the apostasy taking place today and just concentrate on one`s
inner spiritual life. This is true, but only to a certain point. As Orthodox Christians the path of our salvation goes through the Church, not through ourselves as individuals, as in the Protestant Churches. Our faith is indeed personal, but it becomes truly salvific only when confirmed in the Orthodox Church. Our path to Heaven, therefore, goes through the Church. When the Church itself is showing signs of apostasy, our salvation is in danger and one has to react. But one has to react with spiritual discernment without endangering one`s or others spiritual life. One must remember that even though a preservation of the dogmatic teaching of Christ is essential, a spiritually sober Christian life still needs much more than just a formal acceptance of this teaching. It needs a loving heart, humility, moderation, stability, discernment, sober zeal and the like.
There are not two persons who are alike. Some are very sensitive to falsehood, others feel troubled but bear it, others again do not even pay attention to it and just concentrate on their personal struggle in Christ; others again are not even aware of what is going on. So we see how many different sides of the Christian life there are. Still some people try to confine all of these various spiritual, emotional, psychological, and practical aspects of man into a small and limited category of what to do and where to go. And this we do, even though God accepts each one of these people wherever they are, whether in World Orthodoxy or in an Old Calendar Church, as long as they sincerely strive to be faithful to Him and their own conscience, as long as they personally stay within the limits of the Orthodox Faith and try to live according to the law of Christian love, as long as they do not make decisions based on love for this fallen world.
As mentioned earlier, I believe there is still justification in staying in World Orthodoxy, and there is justification in leaving. It is, therefore, in our days of confusion and instability still not possible, I believe, to give one single answer of what to do, which mechanically could be applied to each and every person. This is so, because World Orthodoxy (at least the sincere faithful) and the Old Calendar Churches are still, I believe, both within the Church of Christ. Furthermore, whatever path one has decided to follow, such a path is often conditioned by extreme personal circumstances. What is important though, for this personal path to be God-pleasing, is a loving heart and a personal true confession – a faithfulness to Christ and His Orthodox Church. This is actually the one single answer of what to do today. Such a path – accepted in its true form – is bound to unite the true Traditionalists in both World Orthodoxy and the Old Calendar Churches.
A word of Ending.
I have pointed out some aspects which I believe we must honestly take into consideration. It has been done with the purpose of reminding ourselves of the path handed down to us by the Church – to be faithful to our Orthodox Faith in a loving but truly uncompromising way. I ask forgiveness, if I have offended anyone or unintentionally presented anything not according to the truth.
I believe that the faithful, from the various ecumenical Orthodox and non-Orthodox Churches in general are loving people and their desire for an ecumenical union stems often from a sincere heart. But it is a love, founded on the reasoning of the fallen man. It is therefore bound to go astray, since it is totally going beyond the boundaries Christ Himself has set, (and is) extending to ecclesiastically embrace even heretics.
It is my hope, that the reader will understand how erroneous and even blasphemous the opinion of gracelessness in the Old Calendar Churches is. In fact, the spiritually sober Old Calendar faithful are faithfully striving to uphold Orthodoxy in its purity. It is a staunch stand which ROCOR/MP once praised as heroic but now openly rejects. In doing so, we reject our very own history and what we once held to be the true path. We thereby lose all justification for our being in World Orthodoxy. It is therefore not only important but even necessary for us, if we wish to have any further justification for our staying in World Orthodoxy, to embrace the spirit of the Russian Catacomb Saints – of the True Orthodox Christians.
The motive of the true Old Calendar faithful in not following World Orthodoxy is simple: to be faithful to Christ. They have left World Orthodoxy out of love for God. They humbly try to honor those Saints whom they daily commemorate and simply yearn for that Grace which comes from faithfulness to Christ.
But the Old Calendar faithful are also struggling with their own problems, problems which sometimes have overshadowed an otherwise glorious stand of true confession. It shows us that the times in which we live are indeed the end-times, where a general spiritual decline has become worldwide, manifested even in those who courageously defend Orthodoxy.
The most serious problem not only in World Orthodoxy but also among some Old Calendar faithful is the lack of the spirit of Orthodoxy. When either love or true faith vanishes, then there is no justification for our very existence, wherever one find himself. Sincere Christian love and a true
confession of faith – these are the very basic foundations for walking on the Royal Path of faithfulness to Christ. World Orthodoxy, therefore, can simply not lay claim to be a truly God-pleasing path. In fact, not even the Old Calendar Movement as such can – strictly speaking – do that. Only the stand on the Royal Path – an uncompromising, but sober zeal together with a Christian loving heart – can do this.
The Moscow Patriarchate once freely gave away its inner freedom and fell into a spiritual bondage. This bondage has, until now, never been broken, and the Moscow Patriarchate has stayed the same, or has perhaps become even worse, despite an outward appearance of righteousness. It would therefore be fatal to believe that the outward freedom we now see today in Russia is a witness to their inner freedom. That is the mistake we are making. If indeed this bondage has been broken, the results would have been a wholehearted rejection of both Sergianism and ecumenism. Our perhaps naïve acceptance of the Moscow Patriarchate, has thus thrown us into the same inner bondage as they have been in for the last 80 years.
Having looked at various materials, I believe we can say without exaggeration that ROCOR/MP i s deviating from its former stand of confession. The tragedy of ROCOR/MP is not so much its union with the Moscow Patriarchate and World Orthodoxybut its personal fall in accepting wholeheartedly their path and spirit. ROCOR/MP has not only compromised itself in the most sad way, but has also deeply disappointed not only many faithful in ROCOR, but also our sincere and pious brothers and sisters in Christ inside the Moscow Patriarchate and World Orthodoxy itself, who expected to see this Champion of Truth courageously expose all falsehood. The pain of witnessing this fall is even more intensified when one is asked to accept it as a glorious victory.
The reunification is said to be a healing of wounds. But in order for a wound to heal properly, the right medicine must be applied. Instead, ROCOR – together with the majority of faithful in Russia – accepted the Moscow Patriarchate unconditionally as our Mother Church, and disregarded completely the necessity of an All-Russian Council, even though our former stand was in complete opposition to such a move. This Council is not only a question of our reunification, but goes much further than that. It is a Council which the whole Russian Church desperately needs in order to create a firm “basis for the re-establishment in Russia of true Orthodoxy”. All of us both in ROCOR/MP and in Russia have thus failed – and keep failing – to rightly evaluate the past 90 years, an evaluation which would have been able to truly restore the unity and the conscience of the Russian Church.
The essential question with which we are confronted today is the following: which paths to follow? Is it that of ecumenism and “survival” – of betrayal – or is it that of the true Orthodox Christians – of faithfulness to Christ?
Our faithfulness to Christ means that we must condemn apostasy both in principle and specifically. First we must condemn the acts of apostasy in principle, mainly ecumenism and Sergianism. This has already been done by ROCOR and the Russian Catacomb Church. But that is not enough if we want to remain firm in our Orthodoxy and not get confused by what is allowed and what is not. We must further apply these principles or ecclesiastical rules to the various specific acts of apostasy which have occurred in the last century. If we fail to do so, these acts will never lose their power but will constantly tempt us to deviate once more from Christ. We must uncompromisingly and firmly condemn the New Calendar and apply strong pressure on those who have accepted it, to persuade them to come back to the former Old Calendar. Likewise the union with the Monophysites, accepted by the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch, together with the mutual concelebration and fraternization with the Catholic Church by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and other Orthodox Churches, must be strongly condemned. We must further strongly condemn publicly, once and for all, the act of Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) in 1927, so that every faithful person will fully understand how such a stand goes against the very essence of the Church. This essence is sacrifice for Christ even unto death and not survival, a wholly new and false concept, which allows compromise with falsehood in order to preserve an outward structure, or avoid persecution and death.
Unfortunately, up to now neither Sergianism nor ecumenism has categorically been rejected. In failing to do so, we ourselves have accepted falsehood and are now forced to deal with it, willingly or unwillingly. But we have a free will, given to us by God, to reject evil. For this we need to take a firm and fearless stand, both in word and deed. Sad to say, we – the faithful in the Moscow Patriarchate – do not do that, because we have made a very practical and safe – but completely un-Orthodox – agreement with World Orthodoxy – to keep quiet. In return we enjoy the comforts of their company.
The Moscow Patriarchate has not changed its stand, neither in regard to its acceptance of ecumenism nor in regard to Metropolitan Sergius and the path he chose. At the same time, we also know how ROCOR in the past categorically rejected both of these two paths. From this it is obvious that to accept the Moscow Patriarchate and World Orthodoxy, as we know them
today, and at the same time confirm that ROCOR/MP has not changed its former position of confession, is simply not possible. To do so, will simply be lying or at best deceiving oneself.
There is only one way to be faithful to Christ – our sincere repentance and firm rejection of all falsehood. These two criteria are closely connected. As long as we still accept the path of both Metropolitan Sergius and ecumenism we have not yet truly repented. Seeing the strong position of the Moscow Patriarchate, still lying in spiritual bondage, combined with the weak stand both in the Diaspora and in Russia, the only hope for the Russian Church seems to be the coming of a new and God-elected Russian Tsar, who will put a stop to all the falsehood we see today. But are we worthy?
Every Orthodox Christian is obliged to oppose any falsehood which will separate us from Orthodoxy. We are obliged to speak up and do what is in our power to defend the Faith. This we can do only if we firmly renounce the comfort and glory of this world. But our struggle must be done calmly, with discernment and with extreme humility. Otherwise, the result will be harmful to the Church, our unity and mutual love.
The apostasy has spread not only to the whole of World Orthodoxy but even to some Old Calendar Churches. It manifests itself in our betrayal of both the true Faith and the spirit of Orthodoxy and stems from pride and the love of this world. The spiritual apostasy, the loss of the spirit of Orthodoxy, is by far the most refined and dangerous of the two and will be the main factor in our acceptance of the Antichrist. World Orthodoxy has entered a path which is leading us to the “assemblage of Satan” – in this there can be no doubt whatsoever. God, therefore, is about to “spew” World Orthodoxy out of His mouth due to its continued unrepentant state and apostasy.
If no signs of a serious change in course will be seen in the near future, we faithful in World Orthodoxy, will be obliged to follow the way appointed to us by the True Orthodox Confessors and Martyrs – a stand which was also approved of by the Inter-Orthodox Theological Conference in Greece, 2004, as well as the Confession of Faith (2009) – namely to “cease commemoration of those hierarchs, who are co-responsible for, and co-communicants with, heresy and delusion.” [7h, B. Proposals, pt 8].
Let it be known, that we traditional faithful in World Orthodoxy will not follow our church-leaders on their course of apostasy.
Today we see clear signs of the coming of Antichrist. We should not be carried away by a sectarian approach when confronted with this, but we
must also not just close our eyes and pretend nothing is happening. With the strong emphasis on “peace and ecumenical dialogues,” World Orthodoxy is paving the way for the acceptance of Antichrist.
The authority of Christ’s Church is slowly but surely being substituted by the authority of World Orthodoxy – a pseudo Christianity, which is expecting a blind obedience, despite the path of apostasy it has taken. This substitution of concepts – concepts so similar to true Orthodox concepts, but void of the fragrance of Orthodoxy – have now penetrated World Orthodoxy. It is an Orthodoxy permeated by a secular spirit. It will be that very “Christianity,” which the Antichrist eventually needs in order to establish his empire – an Orthodoxy based on proper forms and outward appearance, supported by its “canonicity” andlegalistic, worldly justification of falsehood. But inside all will be decay. The conscience of the faithful, not according to the fallen state, but according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, is thereby being destroyed, together with the will power to act against evil.
A few aspects have been pointed out here which show how inconsistent and confusing our stand is – in some points even threatening to set us outside the Orthodox Church. Some will perhaps blame me for creating an atmosphere of rebellion towards the Moscow Patriarchate and ROCOR/MP – others of supporting ecumenism and liberalism. It is not my intention to be rebellious. I am only stressing that our participation in and acceptance of both ecumenism and Sergianism must come to an end. God says no to all this through our Saints and that is all we need to know.
The very fact that I am still a faithful member of ROCOR, (as I have been all my 20 years of Orthodoxy), shows clearly that I am not easily inclined to make any hasty moves, but on the contrary only wish for the unity of the Russian Church and of World Orthodoxy in general. The unity, though, must be faithful to the Truth and not founded on falsehood, love of this world or of ourselves.
I believe that the only path which can be justified is the Royal path of a loving Christian heart, together with an uncompromising Orthodox confession. If these two are not both present, then neither World Orthodoxy nor the Old Calendar Churches will be of any help in our salvation. If this is properly understood, then one will see that this is not a compromised and self-loved justification of both World Orthodoxy and the Old Calendar Churches, but only the justification for the one single and unconditional Royal path of the Church of Christ, eventually uniting all true Orthodox faithful, wherever they may be.
Finally, I am not a learned theologian, and perhaps some of my reflections may not hold up under a thorough theological analysis. My words are first and foremost a cry from the depth of my soul, and not so much a theological thesis. I have tried to look on the whole matter from my own love for God and man – and the love of God towards us. In no way or manner do I say that these reflections without fail represent the absolute, inerrant truth. But I can say for certain that they have been written with a sincere heart, in love for God, His Orthodox Church and my neighbor, and without the slightest malice towards anyone. Let the reader, therefore, judge for himself where the truth is and where it is not.
Without the love of God everything crumbles to pieces. The love of God not only fervently seeks out the Truth and is willing to die for it, it also seeks out man in his extremely fallen state, despite all rationality.
My forbearance for the apostatizing World Orthodoxy may for some seem to have gone too far, according to canonical order. Others may likewise consider my sympathy and love for the Old Calendar Movement to be without any sober basis. Still, I feel that my forbearance and sympathy, for the moment is within the limits of God’s love, and faithful to Orthodoxy without mixing it neither with heresy nor with fanaticism.
It is not only my hope that we all, both abroad and in Russia, will come back to our former stand of confession, but also that all true Traditionalists within both World Orthodoxy and the Old Calendar Churches will be able to unite in spirit despite the path they each have taken. The love of God has the power to humble us, open doors, which seemingly cannot be opened, to weaken our hardness and prideful minds and soften our hearts toward each other. Let us therefore emulate the Samaritan woman, who opened her heart in humility and abandoned everything – heresy and comforts of life – in order to be with Christ.
In writing this paper, neither my spiritual father nor my saintly fellow brothers have had any knowledge of my doing so. Therefore, I solely take all the responsibility on myself for whatever has been written here.
I ask your holy prayers.
With love in Christ,
Father Theophan, a sinful but Orthodox monk.
Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY, USA, 2010. The Sunday of the Samaritan Woman.
1a) Epistle of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, 2001. Living Orthodoxy, #126, vol.XXI # 6.
1 b ) Concelebration of Metropolitan Hilarian, First-Hierarch of ROCOR/MP with His Eminence Damascene (Antiochian Orthodox Patriarchate).
– See also: «Православная Русь» (Pravoslavnaja Rus`), October
1/14, 2008, pg. 2-6.
1c)Address of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to Its Flock–October, 2001. http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/english/pages/poslania/addresstopeo ple.html
1d) The Reply of the Council of Bishops to the Brotherly Epistle of the Bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate, October 2001
2a) To the Members of the Holy Synod of Antioch, 1991. http://www.monachos.net/forum/showthread.php?t=5778 (please scroll down to
“post #5”). http://www.geocities.com/mfignatius/others/byzantine04.html
2b-1, 2b-2 and 2b-3: These are referring to the same document, but from three different sources: the Syrian Monophysite Church, the Antiochian Orthodox Church, and finally the Joint Commission of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches.
2 b – 1 ) “Syrian-Antichian Pastoral Agreement 1991”. Syrian OrthodoxResources: http://sor.cua.edu/Ecumenism/19911112socrumorthstmt.html
2b-2) “Antiochian-Syrian Pastoral Agreement 1991”. http://www.roacbulgaria.org/contents/Antiohia.htm
2b-3)“Statement from the Patriarchate of Antioch, 1991.” Restoring the
Unity in Faith. The Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox Theological Dialogue. The
Joint Commission of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, 2007.
Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 50 Goddard Avenue, Brookline, Massachusetts 02445.
2c) Concerning Relations between the Syriac and Antioch Churches. From various sources:
a) Wikicipedia, the free Encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syriac_Orthodox_Church
b (Relationships with the Roman Catholic Church) http://sor.cua.edu/Ecumenism/index.html (please scroll down to “Relationships
with the Roman Catholic Church”).
c) (The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all East).
(please scroll down to “3. The Doctrine of the Syrian Church”.
d) The Melkite Catholic Church. http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:e0fkwHaE9ccJ:www.cnewa.org/ecc- bodypgus.aspx%3FeccpageID %3D68+melkite+Greek+Catholic+Church+Antiochian+Orthodox+bilateral+commission &cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
2d-1) Oriental Orthodox Churches (1) http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/ecumenical/ooc-e.html
2d-2) Oriental Orthodox Churches (2) Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
2d-3) Oriental Orthodox Churches (3)
2e) “A Call For Unity – the Melkite Synod.” http://www.melkite.org/sa3.htm
2f) “03. feb. 2005. A new church is inaugurated”. http://antiochpat.org/english/news/index.php? PHPSESSID=93cf204e67f567e2d06b49d4535ddf86#115 (pleaseScroll down to 3. February 2005).
2 g ) Agreement on Inter-marriage 1994 with the Catholic Church.
(Syriac Orthodox Church).
2h) :“Relationships with Other Non-Chalcedonian Churches”. http://sor.cua.edu/Ecumenism/index.html (scroll down to “Relationships with Other Non-Chalcedonian Churches”).
2i) Two letters from faithful in the Antiochian Orthodox Church.
2j) “Dialogue and Joint Declarations with the Roman Catholic Church.” (Syrian Orthodox Resources: http://sor.cua.edu/Ecumenism/RC.html
2k) “Oriental Orthodox-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation”, New
York, June 12, 2000.
3a-1 and 3a-2: These are referring to the same document, but from two different sources.
3a-1) ”Statement from the Patriarchate of Alexandria, 2001.” Restoring The
Unity In Faith. The Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox Theological Dialogue. The
Joint Commission of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. 2007.
Holy Cross Orthodox Press. 50 Goddard Avenue, Brookline, Massachusetts 02445.
3a-2)“Coptic-Orthodox Pastoral Agreement 2001.”
http://antiochian.net. (please click on “Orthodox Church Relations” or just
print out the abovementioned title in search. 3b) The Coptic Church.
3 c )Joint Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Statement, 2009. http://www.americancatholic.org/news/newsreport.aspx?id=676
4a)”Proposals for Lifting Anathemas (1993).” http://www.orthodoxunity.org/state04.php.
4b) Texts of the Agreed Statements of the Joint Commissions. http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache:fUgndDzkH3cJ:stmarkfellowship.org/ %3Faction%3Ddownload%26file_id %3D67+texts+of+the+agreed+statements+of+the+joint+commission+monachos.net&hl= en&gl=us
4c)“Restoring the Unity in Faith. The Orthodox-Oriental Orthodox Theological Dialogue. The Joint Commission of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches.” 2007.
Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 50 Goddard Avenue, Brookline, Massachusetts 02445.
Appendix 5: Newsletters with photographs of ecumenical prayers.
5a-1) Syrian-Catholic-Orthodox-Protestant vesper at Westminster, march
5a-2) Syrian-Catholic-Orthodox-Protestant vesper at Westminster. http://www.westminstercathedral.blogspot.com/2007/03/syrian-orthodox-vespers-at- cathedral.html
5b)Greek-catholic vesper. http://www.boston.goarch.org/news/metropolis_news/407.html
5c) Greek-Catholic vesper. http://news-nftu.blogspot.com/2009/02/churches-cross-great-divide-orthodox.html
http://www.georgiabulletin.org/local/2009/05/14/share/ (in case only the home-page comes up, click archives 2009, then May, then the date 14.)
A l s o p o s t e d o n http://news-nftu.blogspot.com/2009/05/ecumenism-another-big- ecumenical.html, may 15 2009.
5e) Armenian Chrism with World Orthodoxy. http://vertograd-eng.blogspot.com/2008/09/hierarchs-of-world-orthodoxy.html or www.vertograd-eng.blogspot.com. (Click on “Hierarchs of World Orthodoxy Participated Ecumenical Services in Armenia”.
Two Letters from Metropolitan Philaret to Vladyka Averky (Taushev).
Appendix 7 (Papers against Monophysitism and ecumenism taken from: www.orthodoxinfo.com, (except from 7f, 7l and 7n).
7a)”Concerning the Dialogue Between the Orthodox and Non-
Chalcedonian Churches” (A Memorandum of the Sacred Community of
7b)”Suggestions of a Committee from the Sacred Community of the Holy
Mountain Athos” (Concerning the Dialogue of the Orthodox with the Non-
7c) “St. John of Damascus and the ‘Orthodoxy’ of the Non-Chalcedonians” (Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis).” http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/zisis.pdf
7d)”Copts and Orthodoxy (Orthodox Tradition, vol.IX, no.1, pp.8-10).” http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/copts_orth.aspx
7e)”Orthodox Unity Today” (By the right Reverend Photios, Bishop of
7f)”Memorandum Appeal”, (By Hieromonk Maximus and Monk Basil)”, Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, St.Gregory Palamas Monastery, P.O.Box 398, Etna, Ca 96027.
7g)”Union with the Monophysites: What comes next?”, by Michael Woerl. http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/unionmon.pdf
7h)”Conclusions of the Inter-Orthodox Theological Conference. “Ecumenism: Origins Expectations Disenchantment”, september 2004, Thessaloniki, Greece. http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/thess_conclusions.aspx
7i)”An Open Letter to the Holy Abbots and the Holy Representatives of the Sacred Twenty Monasteries in the Holy Community of the Holy Mount Athos” (The so called Kelliotes Letter to the sacred Twenty Athonite Monasteries (2006).”
7j) ”Commentary on the Latest Recommendations of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Orthodox and Oriental Churches.”.
http://188.8.131.52/search? q=cache:kiczygvhZYgJ:www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/mono_chamb.aspx+ %E2%80%9DCommentary+on+the+Latest+Recommendations+of+the+Joint+Commissi on+for+Theological+Dialogue+Between+the+Orthodox+and+Oriental+Churches. %E2%80%9D.&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
7k) “Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848”. http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/encyc_1848.aspx
7l) “Orthodoxy and Ecumenism”, vol. II, Fili, Attika, 2001, Russian text. 7m) “The Royal Path” by Father Seraphim Rose.
7n) St. John, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco and His View of the Russian Church in the 20th Century http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/01newstucture/pagesen/legacy/stjohnin20thcentur y.html
8a) OIMS-meeting at St. Vladimirs. http://www.antiochian.org/node/18570
8b) St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. http://www.stnersess.edu/about/history.php
8c) “Teaching for the Future” http://www.svots.edu/News/Recent/2009-0824-teaching-for-the-future/
8d) “Dean and Chancellor enjoy constructive dialogue with St. Tikhon`s Orthodox Theological Seminary”:
8e) “Faculty of St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary: http://www.svots.edu/Faculty/index.html/
8f) Biographies of Bishops of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in North
9a) What is Syndesmos. http://www.syndesmos.org/content/en/index.php
9b) Syndesmos Document. Meeting in Egybt, 1991. http://www.orthodoxunity.org/state08.php
9c) Syndesmos Conference in Lebanon. http://www.orthodoxunity.org/news02.php
9d) Syndesmos speaks on Church Unity, 2006. http://www.syndesmos.org/content/en/press_releases/index.php?task=view&id=18
9e) Message of the Ecumenical Patriarch to Syndesmos. http://www.holy-trinity.org/general/bartholemew.html
9f) ”Unity in diversity.” http://www.syndesmos.org/content/en/publications/syndesmos_news/teyxh/18_1/pages/9 _13.pdf
9g-1) “Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Encounter, Germany 2001.” http://www.orthodoxunity.org/news06.php
9g-2)”Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Encounter, Germany 2001.” www.orthodoxunity.org/news07.php
9h) “Conference in Helsinki, 2003”. http://www.orthodial.com/helsinki2003.html
9 i ) SYNDESMOS International Directory of Orthodox and Oriental Theolocal Schools. http://www.syndesmos.org/content/en/addresses/theological_schools/
Appendix 10: MECC. (10a -10e: http://www.mec-churches.org). 10a) Member Churches.
10b) Introduction to the MECC. http://www.mec-churches.org/about_mecc.htm
10c) MECC 9th General Assembly 2007. http://www.mec-churches.org/events/GeneralAssembly9/finalStatement.htm
10d) Ecumenical Organizations. http://www.mec-churches.org/Links/Links.htm
10e) Annual Report 2007. http://www.mec-churches.org/general_secretary/reports07/AnnualNarrativeReport07.htm (look, please, at the very first part: “General Introduction”).
Appendix 11: (CCT and NCC – documents): (11a-11e: www.christianchurchestogether.org).
11a) Various memberlists. Steering-committee. http://www.christianchurchestogether.org/members/
11b) Frequently asked questions. http://www.christianchurchestogether.org/about/faqs.html
1) Organization Plan;
1) The Chicago Statement:
11e-1) The current status of CCT. http://www.christianchurchestogether.org/current/
11e-2) – A Seminarian Steward Program offered for 2009 Annual Meeting http://www.christianchurchestogether.org/newsletter/pdf/newsletter_vol2no2.pdf (please scroll down to Seminarian Steward Program Offered for 2009 Annual Meeting).
–Seminarians participating in CCT-activity: (Second Annual Meeting, 8-11 of January, 2008, photos and text). http://www.christianchurchestogether.org/events/2007/pasadena/photos/photos01.html
11e-3) Photo-gallery of Joint Prayers between Orthodox and non-Orthodox clergy in CCT: http://www.christianchurchestogether.org/events/2008/2008am_images.pdf
http://www.christianchurchestogether.org/newsletter/pdf/newsletter_vol3no1b.pdf (pgs. 1 and 4).
11e-4) Video by CCT (http://www.christianchurchestogether.org/events/2007/pasadena/video/
11e-5) Concelebration in Zurich 2008: http://www.orthodoxunity.org/
11f) National Counsel of Churches (NCC). http://www.ncccusa.org/about/about_ncc.htm
11g) Member-list of NCC. http://www.ncccusa.org/members/index.html
1 1 h ) “The Unholy Alliance”, Dr. C. Gregg Singer, Arlington House- Publishers. New Rochelle, N.Y. 1975: review on inside of frontcover; pg.180 top; 198 top).
Appendix 12 (SCOBA-documents, http://www.scoba.us).
12a) A Pastoral letter 2000.
(please scroll down to: (“A Community of Healing and Reconciliation”)
12b) List of various ecumenical SCOBA-Reports. http://www.scoba.us/resources/orthodox-catholic.html
12c) Hierarchs of the Jurisdictions in SCOBA. http://www.scoba.us/jurisdictions.html
12d) Commissions and endorsed organizations. http://www.scoba.us/ministries/commissions.html
12e) Baptism and Sacramental Economy, 1999. http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/Orth-Cath_Agreed.aspx
12f) Statement on the Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue at the Dawn of a New Millenium. http://www.scoba.us/resources/orthodox-catholic-bishops/newmillenium.html
12g) A Statement on the Issue of the Filioque, 2003. http://www.scoba.us/resources/orthodox-catholic/2003filioque.html
12h) A Statement regarding meeting of Pope Benedikt XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew, 2006. http://www.scoba.us/articles/2006-11-01-statement-on-papal-visit-to-patriarchate.html
12i) About the Orthodox Theological Society in America (Frequently asked
12j) Regarding the Balamand Document, 1994. http://www.scoba.us/resources/orthodox-catholic/27.html
12k) Statement from OTSA on the Relationship of the Orthodox Church to
the WCC, 1998..
12l) Endorsement by OTSA of the ‘Proposal towards a Common Date for Easter, 2001.
12m) The Joint Committee of Orthodox and Catholic Bishops. http://scoba.us/resources/orthodox-catholic-bishops.html
12n) NA Orthodox-Catholic Theological consulation holds 77th meeting in DC.
12o) Greetings from His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion to the XV-th All- American Council (OCA), August, 2008. http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/eng2008/11enmhocagreeting.html
1 2 p ) “The Catacomb Tikhonite Church 1974”, The Orthodox Word,
12q) NASHOTAH: Traditional Anglicans Restart Unity Talks With Orthodox Church. Two Seminaries Sign Historic Covenant in Unity Pledge http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=11331
12r) A Reply to the “Sorrowful Epistle” by Fr. Alexander Schmemann. http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/schmem_azkoul.aspx
The Conference of European Churches (CEC).
Churches together in Britain and Ireland.
The Heritage, Russian Canadian Cultural Aid Society Magazine,
winter 2008, issue 2, pgs. 6 and 8.
16a) Russian-Oriental dialogue 2001. http://www.orthodoxunity.org/news05.php
16b) Russian-Oriental dialogue 1997. http://www.orthodoxunity.org/state12.php
16c) Message of the World Summit of Religious Leaders (2006). http://www.interfax-religion.com/?act=documents&div=78
16d) Patriarch Aleksy in the Notre Dame Cathedral, 2007. http://www.russiatoday.com/Top_News/2007-10-04/Russian_Ortho…
16e) Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate: “Celebration, dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Restoration of the Patriarchate in the Russian Orthodox Church”). # 12, 2007, pg. 8-21. Translation from «Журнал Московсой Патриаяхии» # 12, 2007, «Торжества, посвященные 90-летию восстановления Патриаяшества в Русской Православной Церкви
16f) Homily of Patriarch Kirill on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, 2009. http://incendiarious.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/homily-of-patriarch-kirill- on-the-sunday-of-orthodoxy/
http://www.incendiarious.wordpress.com Look under 12. of March 2009.
16g) a) “The Balamand Union. A Victory of Vatican Diplomacy.” pg.12. Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies. St. Gregory Palamas Monastery,
Etna, CA 96027.
b) “Is Catholic-Orthodox Unity in Sight?” http://www.ncregister.com/daily/catholic-orthodox_unity_in_sight/#When:15:10:59Z
16h) “The Struggle Against Ecumenism. The History of the True Orthodox
Church of Greece from 1924 to 1994.”
The Holy Orthodox Church in North America. Boston, Massachusetts, 1998.
16i) Four articles on Rocorunited-website:
a) “Role of Bishop of Rome – key to Catholic-Orthodox progress”.
b) “First visit to Rome by Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk.” http://rocorunity.blogspot.com/2009/09/first-visit-to-rome-of-archbishop.html
c) “Pope Benedikt XVI receives Archbishop Hilarion”. http://rocorunity.blogspot.com/2009/09/pope-benedict-xvi-receives-
d) “Patriarch Kirill celebrates liturgy with Patriarch Bartholomew.” Photogallery.
16j) “Patriarch Kirill congratulates Olav Tveit with the election of general secretary of WCC”:
16k) “Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev congratulates new general secretary of
16l) “Why I decided to join the Russian Church Abroad? Archpriest Lev Lebedev, 1991 (“Почему Я перешел в Зарубежную часть Русской Православной Церкви? Протоиерей Лев Лебедев, 1991 год.).
16m) 1) A conversation by a Russian Priest with his parish-children about current issues in church life, fall 2004.
“Беседа русского священника со своими прихожанами о текущих событиях церковной жизни, осень 2004 года.
2) “The Policy of the Third Reich in regard to the Russian Orthodox Church in the light of materials from archives. (A Collection of Documents). 2003, Moscow. (Russian edition).
«Политика Третьего рейха по отношению к Русской Православной Церкви в Свете архивных материалов 1935-1945 годов. (Сборник документов).» М.В.Щкаровский. Издательсво Крутского Патриаршего Подворя. Общество любителей церковной истории, Москва 2003.
16n) “On the situation of the Orthodox Christian in the Contemporary World” by Archbishop Averky of Syracuse. St. John of Kronstadt Press, Liberty, TN, USA. Second Printing, 1995.
16o) 1) The Keeper of the House of God. Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia Sergius Stragorodsky,Sretensky monastery in Moscow, 2003. (Страж Дома Господня. Патриарх Московский и всея Руси Сергий Страгородский, 2003 г).
2) Patriarch Kirill: his Life and Worldview, EKSMO, Moscow, 2009, by Archbishop Hilarion Alfeev (Патриарх Кирилл: жизнь и миросозерцание, ЭКСМО, 2009. Архиепископ Волоколамский Иларион (Алфеев).
16p) The Confessional and Ecclesiological Foundations of the Russian True Orthodox Church. http://ripc.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=64&lang=eng
16q) New Zion In Babylon.
a) – The Orthodox Church in the Twentieth Century, by Vladimir Moss.
b) – “Man of God: Saint John of San Francisco”, Redding, Ca: Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society, 2002, p. 46. Memories of Protopriest Valery Lukianov (ROCOR). Matushka Anastasia Shatilova writes that she saw St. John’s letter of repentance to the Synod in the Synod archives (Church News, April, 1998, vol. 10, No 4
(71), p. 6).
16r) “The New Martyrs” (St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Society), a small pamphlet with the essay: “To the Children of the Russian Church abiding in the Homeland and in the Dispersion”, Reprinted from Orthodox America, October, 1982.
16s) 1994 Epistle of the Synod of Bishops of the ROCOR. – Orthodox Life, 1994, vol. 44, # 6, p.7-10.
16t) The New Martyrs of Russia (Russian edition: Новые Мученики Российские), Jordanville, 1957, vol. 2.
16u) “Pravoslavnaja Rus`, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY, 1959, # 21, p.1-2.
«Православная Русь» Свято-Трщицкий Монастырь, Джорданвилл, США, 1959 г., No 21, ст. 1-2.
16v) An interview with Father Steven Allen (GOC, Chrysostomos II), St.
Spyridon Parish, Michigan, USA.
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75AhGD3ft-c&feature=related Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l15XYEBMv-s&feature=related Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ydy_78oqFs&feature=related Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr8lNOpcgpM&feature=related
16x) The Dogma of the Church, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY, USA, by Protopresbyter George Grabbe.
17a) 1 ) “Православная Рус”, No 1, 1/14 января, 2009. (Pravoslavnaja Rus`, January 1/14 2009. 2):
2) “Orthodox Life”. No.1, 2009.
17b-1) “A Conversation with bishop Jerome about the unity of the Russian
«Православная Рус» , No22, 15/28 ноября, 2008. (Pravoslavnaja Rus`, November 15/28 2008, pg.5).
17b-2) Interview with Metropolitan Hilarion 2008. 178
17b-3) Interview with Metropolitan Hilarion 2009. http://rocorunity.blogspot.com/2009/09/editors-in-chief-of-magazine-tribune-of.html
17c) «Мотивы моей Жизни»: Архиепископ Виталий Максименко. («Motivy moei zhizny”: Archepiskop Vitalii (Maksimenko)). Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, N.Y
17d) «К Пятидесятилетию служения в архиепископом сане Первосвятителя Русской Зарубежной Церкви Высокопреосвященнейшаго Митрополита Анастасия», Сборник. Типография Преп. Иова Почаевскаго. 1906-1956. Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville. N.Y. (In Honor of the 50th anniversary as bishop of His Eminence Anastassy, Metropolitan of the Russian Church Abroad – 1906-1956).
A Collection. The Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, N.Y. 1956, pg.30.
17e-1) Concelebrations of ROCOR/MP with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Antiochian Orthodox Church and others. 12th of February, 2009 and 8th of
http://www.diocesedegeneve.net/index.php? option=com_content&task=view&id=192ltemid=1 and http://www.diocesedegeneve.net/index.php? option=com_content&task=view&id=194<emid=1 (the official website of the diocese of Geneva and West-Europe,ROCOR/MP).
http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/2009/2paris3hierarchs.html (russian text)
http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/eng2008/2enparis3hierarchs.html (English text) (official website of ROCOR/MP).
17e-2) Concelebrations with OCA:
a) New York: August 4, 2009
The feast day of St Seraphim celebrated in the Eastern American Diocese http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/eng2009/8enstseraphimead.html http://www.eadiocese.org/News/2009/august/seaclif.en.htm
b) Bishop Jerome of Manhattan Participates In the Enthronement of the Newly-Elected Head of the Orthodox Church in America, December 2008.
(Congratulatory message of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion to newly- elected Metropolitan Jonah (OCA)). http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/eng2008/12enmhlettermj.html
c) New York: November 18, 2009
Metropolitan Hilarion Meets With the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America.
d) A list of clergy who co-served with His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of ROCOR/MP, August 1, at St. Seraphims`s Church in Sea Cliff, NY:
17e-3) Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky: http//www.oca.org/news/1282
17e-4) Metropolitan Philip receives Metropolitan Hilarion at Headquarters
of the Antiochian Orthodox church, 2008.
17f) Visit of His Eminence Mark (Antiochian Orthodox Church) to the Holy Cross Monastery, West Virginia (ROCOR/MP). http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/eng2009/5enbpmarktoledo.html
17g) “To the Angel of the church of the Laodiceans,” by Archmandrite Lazar Abashidze. Russian Edition. 1999). Translation from
«Ангелу Лаодикийской Церкви», Архимандрит Лазарь (Абашидзе). Издание Сретенского Монастыря. 1999.
17h) “Stand fast in the Truth”, From the teachings of Archbishop Averky, compiled by Father Demetrios Serfes. 2618 West Bannock Street, Boise, Idaho 83702. Translated from the Russian, by Rev.Father Seraphim Johnson, Orthodox Russia, Issue # 7, 1979, pp.5-7, St. Job of Pochaev Press, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, New York.
17i) “Is the Grace of God Present in the Soviet Church?”,
Professor Ivan M. Andreyev, (translated from the Russian published original in Jordanville, New York 1948), 2000, Monastery Press, Wildwood, Alberta.
1 7 j ) “Russia`s Catacomb Saints, Lives of the New Martyrs by Ivan Andreyev”. Saint Herman of Alaska Press, Platina, California, 1982.
17k) The Commission on Dialogue with the OCA. http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/eng2009/8enocacommissionmeeting.html
17l) “The Dialogue between ROCOR and the MP: “Union can only be in the Truth”, translation from the Russian text: “Диалог РПЦЗ и МП: “Соединение может быть только в Истине, ” Michael Nazarov, Moscow, Russkaja Ideja, 2004.
17m) “The Shepherd, February 2007. “Move to Fili”. http://www.saintedwardbrotherhood.org/0207/shepherd1.html
17n) “Arch-pastoral Epistle from the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad”,Pravoslavnaja Rus`, # 2, January 15/28, 1966. Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, New York, 13361, U.S.A.
17o) Epistle of the Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, 1990. http://184.108.40.206/search?
17p) Archpriest Nikolai Artemov on the occasion of the Russian Local Council, 2009.
1 7 q ) OrthodoxInfo: About a Future All-Russian Council (from:”The Response to Elder Tavrion”):
http://220.127.116.11/search? q=cache:kLDWWT4SWBUJ:www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/tavrion.aspx+metropol itan+anastassy+future+all+russian+council&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
17r) OrthodoxInfo: Towards the “Eighth” Ecumenical Council.
http://18.104.22.168/search? q=cache:p2xY2MudnJQJ:www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/towards.aspx+site:www.or thodoxinfo.com+all+russian+council+future&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
17s) “Slova i retji” , vol. IV, 1974-1975. Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, N.Y., 1976.
17t) “OCA Metropolitan Jonah Furthers Ties With Anglicans” http://rocorunity.blogspot.com/2009/10/oca-metropolitan-jonah-furthersties.html
17u) Audio recordings from “In the footsteps of Tikhon and Grafton Anglican and Orthodox Identity, Ministry and Mission in the 21th Century.”
17v) «Объединение Русской Зарубежной Церкви Московской Патриархии. Реальность Истинного Единения. Доклады и Обращения 2003-2006. Протопресвитер Валерий Лукианов, 2006 г.
18a) The Pan-Orthodox Synod. http://www.asianews.it/index.php?1=en&art=14708
18b-1)WCC/MECC-Consultation 1997: Towards a common Date for Easter. http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-commissions/faith-and-order- commission/i-unity-the-church-and-its-mission/towards-a-common-date-for- easter/towards-a-common-date-for-easter.html
18b-2) “WWC-press release”: Proposal to Set a Common Date for Easter.
18c) MECC participates in World Conference, 2008. http://www.mec-churches.org/news_brief/news_brief_july08.htm (scroll down to “MECC participates in World Conference on dialogue Convenes in Madrid”)
18d) The Madrid Declaration, 2008.
http://www.world-dialogue.org Choose the language: “English” Then “International Conference for Dialogue”. Then “Madrid Declaration”.
18e) About the Conference 2008.
http://www.world-dialogue.org Choosethelanguage:“English”.Then “International Conference for Dialogue”, then “About Conference” or “invitees.” (List of Invitees of World Conference for Dialogue).
18f) Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches. http://www.ec-patr.org/docdisplay.php?lang=en&id=995&tla=en
18g-1 and 2) The 70th Anniversary of the Pan-Orthodox Congress. Bishop
Photius of Triaditsa.
19a) Archbishop Demetrios to ROCOR-Synod 2009 (ROCOR-source). http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/eng2009/5enarbpdemetrios.html (English text).
http://www.russianorthodoxchurch.ws/synod/2009/5arbpdemetrios.html (Russian text)
19b) Archbishop Demetrios to ROCOR-Synod 2009 (Greek source). http://www.goarch.org/news/visitrocor-05-06-2009
19c) Biography of Archbishop Demetrios. http://www.goarch.org/archbishop/demetrios/biography
19d) Speech of Archbishop Demetrios 2005. http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith9454
19e) Encyclical of 1920. http://www.plasticsusa.com/ortho/enc1920.htm
19f) Encyclical of 1920. A Collection of Short Critiques. http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/encyc_critique.aspx
19g) Ecumenical Luncheon in honor of His All Holiness Patriarch 183
Bartholomew with NY area religious leaders
Appendix 20: (other ecumenical documents, papers). 20a) Practical Steps towards Unity (Fr. Theodore Pulcini).
20b) Two Families of Orthodoxy. http://www.britishorthodox.org/2church.php
21a) Photograph of Archbishop Petros (GOC) with ROCOR-bishops. http://readysite1.com/bx/_files/1002images/art_big/Petros_Standard_e_mail_view.jpg
21b) Video of Archbishop Petros (GOC) with ROCOR-bishops. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moENYpcpKDA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5nKe22liCk
”The ROCOR’s Anathema Against Ecumenism (1983).”
This is exactly my point. God in His infinite mercy – for the time being “by some mysterious economy” – still allows the flock to receive Grace in the Sacraments.
One cannot but sense here how the authors are seriously beginning to lose patience with their bishops. One could even be inclined to believe that they are also beginning to slowly but very cautiously open the (hereto closed) possibility of leaving World Orthodoxy altogether. In any case, it shows us, that many Traditionalists in World Orthodoxy are getting more
and more impatient with their church-leaders.
The Old Calendar Movement is being characterized as a sectarian group which eventually is bound to die out. Such has, is and will always be the general stand in World Orthodoxy and is, naturally, not surprising. The reality, though, is quite different. The Old Calendar Movement, in general, is in fact very alive spiritually and not dying out at all. But its existence is hidden, and quiet, living under very humble and difficult circumstances. It is guided by simple and pious, but not unlearned, faithful, who have as their only goal faithfulness to Christ – even unto death. “With God`s help, says Fr.Steven Allen (GOC) we will not compromise the dogmas of the Church or the Orthodox life, to serve an anti-Christian philosophy, and anti- Christian institutions and take part in the spirit of Antichrist and the preparations for his coming.” [16v, part 3].
This is the path of the future – the Catacombs. If we, while in World Orthodoxy, do not acquire this spirit now, we will not be able to acquire it in the future.