Vth All-Diaspora Council

This page will contain documents pertaining to the Vth All-Diaspora Council.

PSEA Chairman's Report
Act of Canonization
Decision on Act
Decision on Sergianism
Archpriest Nikita Grigoriev's speech on sergianism 

 

Proposed Council Determinations

1. Directive
2. Opening Ceremony
3. ROCA PSEA Declaration of the Opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council
4. The Council Schedule
5. The Order of the Services for the Opening of the Council
6. The Council Agenda
7. List of delegates

 

Commentaries related to the forthcoming Sobor
1. Fr. Andrey Trachuk - Some comments on our spiritual priorities.
2. A Letter from Archpriest Igor Chitikov and the Parish Council of the Church of St. Andrew Stratelates and Bishop Agafangel's Answer.

Directive

To convene the Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen. 

I.

  1. This Directive is for the convocation of the Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen.
  2. The All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will be based on the Word of God, the Holy Canons, and the legal provisions of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the legal provisions set forth by the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
  3. The Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen will be held at the Comfort Inn Hotel in Nanuet, NY, USA.
  4. The ROCA PSEA Chairman will open, close, and chair the Council.

II.

Attendees of the Vth All-Diaspora Council:

  1. The Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen will be made up of:
    1. the episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad;
    2. clergy and laymen, who have been elected according to the rules of the All-Diaspora Council;
    3. representatives of parish schools;
    4. guests invited by the ROCA PSEA Chairman;
    5. representatives of the local organizational committee;
    6. according to accepted tradition, all delegates of previous Councils, who have remained loyal members of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and who are not under church censure;
  2. Every Council delegate has the right for one vote.
  3. The agenda of the All-Diaspora Council is tentatively decided by the ROCA PSEA, and later, at the Council, by the Bishops’ Council.
  4. The determination that the All-Diaspora Council was held properly will be made by the ROCA Bishops’ Council.

 III.

The General Meeting of the All-Diaspora Council:

  1. A binding quorum will be considered when half of the delegates to the All-Diaspora Council are present.

IV.

Regarding the Advisory Council and committees of the All-Diaspora Council:

  1. The Advisory Council of the All-Diaspora Council is composed of the Council Chairman, the Vice-Chairman (with the office of presbyter), the Senior Secretary and his assistants, and who are all elected by the Bishops’ Council.
  2. The Advisory Council of the All-Diaspora Council determines the procedures for the meetings, carries out directives of the All-Diaspora Council, and if necessary, has the power to conclude the Council and also has the authority to decide all questions.
  3. The Bishops’ Council establishes the following committees:
    1. Credentials Committee, which will verify the credentials of all delegates arriving at the All-Diaspora Council, as well as informing the Meeting of who is present and who is absent.
    2. Tabulating Committee, which tallies all votes during voting.
    3. Editorial Committee, which prepares drafts of resolutions, epistles, and other documents as directed by the Meeting, and also, confirms official releases of the All-Diaspora Council to the press.
  4. The members of each committee will be confirmed by the Bishops Council of the All-Diaspora Council.

V.

Procedures for discussing issues at the All-Diaspora Council.

  1. The Vice-Chairman officiates at each meeting, leading the discussion, and if necessary, admonishes speakers.  If a speaker is warned twice or more, he can suspend a speaker’s right to speak.
  2. Each delegate will be allowed no more than 5 minutes to speak during a discussion of any issue at the All-Diaspora Council.
  3. Each delegate has the right to speak out no more than two times on any one topic.
  4. A delegate who wishes to speak, may allot his time to another delegate only once.
  5. All-Diaspora Council delegates are obligated to conduct themselves in a Christian manner, with respect for others, and not use any sharp or offensive words or expressions during discussions.
  6. All issues at the All-Diaspora Council will be decided by a majority of votes.
  7. The Chairman has the right to ask for a closed vote, using ballots.

 VI.

The Bishops’ Council at the All-Diaspora Council.

  1. All the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad are members of the Bishops’ Council, which can meet as needed during the proceedings of the Council.
  2. The Chairman of the Bishops’ Council is the Chairman of the ROCA PSEA.

VII.

The Secretariat of the All-Diaspora Council.

  1. The Bishops’ Council names the Senior Secretary and his assistant for the All-Diaspora Council.
  2. The Secretariat handles the minutes of the All-Diaspora Council.
  3. The Secretariat continues its work until the end of the All-Diaspora Council, after which it prepares all the documents of the Council and submits them to the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
  4. The Secretariat also contains an administrative office, which is organized by the Senior Secretary of the All-Diaspora Council.

Draft

Directive of the ROCA PSEA on the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.

 In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  The Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad gives thanks to God, who has allowed the wishes of our God-loving flock to be fulfilled, and announces the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.  May the All-powerful Bishop of heaven and earth, our Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who created His holy Church for our salvation, turn His loving gaze upon our Sobor and send down upon us His Holy Spirit and bless us with His Grace, so that our minds may become enlightened, that our decisions may be wise, that our will may be strong, and that we approach each good deed with love and zeal, so that we come together as one in a spirit of peace and love in order that all the works of the Sobor fulfill His commandment: seek first the Kingdom of God and His truths, glorify His holy Name, so that together, with one heart and one lips, we can unceasingly confess our God, One by the Trinity, for ages and ages.  Amen.

Signatures

Draft

 Opening Ceremony of the Vth All-Diaspora Council

The church bells will toll at 08:55 on November 18, 2008.  The bishops will gather in the altar preparing for the meeting of the ROCA PSEA Chairman, dressed in their mantiyas.  A Gospel and a cross lie on a lectern in the center of the church.  A table for the bishops stands on the ambo, where the archpastors will sit during the opening.  On the soleas, on either side of the Royal Gates, there will be lecterns with sacred items upon them.  The delegates of the Vth All-Diaspora Council, both clergy and laymen, will enter as their names are called and will take their places in the chairs on either side of the church interior and around the bishops’ cathedra (laymen will be seated behind the clergy), and then the laypeople will occupy the rest of the church interior.  Priests must be in cassocks, wearing their crosses and kamilavkas (if they have the right to wear them).  If not, then with skufias or nothing on their heads.  Choir members will join on the left kliros.

Then the Royal Gates will open, and after the bishops venerate the altar table, they will come out in mantiyas without staffs to meet the ROCA PSEA Chairman.  Sub-deacons and attendants holding the staffs will stand at the entrance to the church.  The bishops will stand in order of seniority, as when priests gather to meet bishops.  The church rector will stand there with a cross on a tray and the protodeacons of the church will stand facing west, with their backs to the cathedra, holding censers and the dikiriy and trikiriy.

 The ROCA PSEA Chairman will be met at 0900, with the choir singing “The Sun from the East” and “Ton Despotin.”  The Chairman will venerate the Gospel and cross laying on the lectern in the middle of the church.  A moleben will be served to open the Vth Council.  At the end, while “Ton Despotin” is sung, His Eminence will bless the faithful from the ambo.  Then one of the bishops will take his place on one of the soleas and will read the following ROCA PSEA Declaration on the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council:

 In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad gives thanks to God, who has allowed the wishes of our God-loving flock to be fulfilled, and announces the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.  May the All-powerful Bishop of heaven and earth, our Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who created His holy Church for our salvation, turn His loving gaze upon our Sobor and send down upon us His Holy Spirit and bless us with His Grace, so that our minds may become enlightened, that our decisions may be wise, that our will may be strong, and that we approach each good deed with love and zeal, so that we come together as one in a spirit of peace and love in order that all the works of the Sobor fulfill His commandment: seek first the Kingdom of God and His truths, glorify His holy Name, so that together, with one heart and one lips, we can unceasingly confess our God, One by the Trinity, for ages and ages.  Amen.

ROCA PSEA Chairman

(the signatures of the ROCA PSEA members will follow)

Having declared the Vth All-Diaspora Council open, the Most Reverend Bishop Agafangel will ask everyone to sing the Creed and “Dnes blagodat Svyatago Dukha nas sobra.”  The Chairman prays facing the altar table.  The Council participants sing.  Then the bishops take their seats at the bishops’ table.  Sub-deacons and attendants holding the staffs will stand behind the ROCA PSEA Chairman, who sits at the Chairman’s place at the table.  The Council participants take their seats.

The ROCA PSEA Chairman, Bishop Agafangel, will make an opening remark.  Then the Vth All-Diaspora Council Declaration will be read, along with the decision of the ROCA PSEA, which will have been made the day before, as to the make up of the Sobor Council, and the Secretariat, Editorial, Credentials, and Tabulating committees.  Then the bishops and delegates of the Vth All-Diaspora Council will come up to venerate the Gospel and cross, just as the ROCA PSEA Chairman did, and according to rank.  Having venerated these sacred items, the bishops and delegates of the Vth All-Diaspora Council will go to the ROCA PSEA Chairman, who will bless the clergy, deacons, and laymen with Holy Water.  Everyone will gather for a group photograph.  After that is done, the Chairman and the bishops will enter into the altar through the Royal Gates, and after bowing to the altar table, remove their vestments.

Draft

The Order of the Services for the Opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council

November 4\17, 2008, in the year of Our Lord, in  the 27th week after Pentecost, in the Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh in Valley Cottage, NY, at 4:15 PM, a panikhida for the Hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad; Metropolitans Anthony, Anastasy, Philaret, and Vitaly, will be served, officiated by the bishops and clergy.  Vigil will begin this day at 6:00 PM.

November 5\18, 2008, at 7:30 AM, Divine Liturgy will take place, after which, the bishops, clergy, and delegates of the Vth All-Diaspora Council will conduct a moleben and the ceremonial opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.

Draft

 Directive of the ROCA PSEA on the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.

 In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Provisional Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad gives thanks to God, who has allowed the wishes of our God-loving flock to be fulfilled, and announces the opening of the Vth All-Diaspora Council.  May the All-powerful Bishop of heaven and earth, our Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who created His holy Church for our salvation, turn His loving gaze upon our Sobor and send down upon us His Holy Spirit and bless us with His Grace, so that our minds may become enlightened, that our decisions may be wise, that our will may be strong, and that we approach each good deed with love and zeal, so that we come together as one in a spirit of peace and love in order that all the works of the Sobor fulfill His commandment: seek first the Kingdom of God and His truths, glorify His holy Name, so that together, with one heart and one lips, we can unceasingly confess our God, One by the Trinity, for ages and ages.  Amen.

Signatures

Draft

 Directive

To convene the Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen.

 I.

  1. This Directive is for the convocation of the Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen.
  2. The All-Diaspora Council of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad will be based on the Word of God, the Holy Canons, and the legal provisions of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the legal provisions set forth by the Bishops’ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.
  3. The Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen will be held at the Comfort Inn Hotel in Nanuet, NY, USA.
  4. The ROCA PSEA Chairman will open, close, and chair the Council.

II.

Attendees of the Vth All-Diaspora Council:

  1. The Vth All-Diaspora Council with the participation of the clergy and laymen will be made up of:
    1. the episcopate of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad;
    2. clergy and laymen, who have been elected according to the rules of the All-Diaspora Council;
    3. representatives of parish schools;
    4. guests invited by the ROCA PSEA Chairman;
    5. representatives of the local organizational committee;
    6. according to accepted tradition, all delegates of previous Councils, who have remained loyal members of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and who are not under church censure;
  2. Every Council delegate has the right for one vote.
  3. The agenda of the All-Diaspora Council is tentatively decided by the ROCA PSEA, and later, at the Council, by the Bishops’ Council.
  4. The determination that the All-Diaspora Council was held properly will be made by the ROCA Bishops’ Council.

 III.

The General Meeting of the All-Diaspora Council:

  1. A binding quorum will be considered when half of the delegates to the All-Diaspora Council are present.

IV.

Regarding the Advisory Council and committees of the All-Diaspora Council:

  1. The Advisory Council of the All-Diaspora Council is composed of the Council Chairman, the Vice-Chairman (with the office of presbyter), the Senior Secretary and his assistants, and who are all elected by the Bishops’ Council.
  2. The Advisory Council of the All-Diaspora Council determines the procedures for the meetings, carries out directives of the All-Diaspora Council, and if necessary, has the power to conclude the Council and also has the authority to decide all questions.
  3. The Bishops’ Council establishes the following committees:
    1. Credentials Committee, which will verify the credentials of all delegates arriving at the All-Diaspora Council, as well as informing the Meeting of who is present and who is absent.
    2. Tabulating Committee, which tallies all votes during voting.
    3. Editorial Committee, which prepares drafts of resolutions, epistles, and other documents as directed by the Meeting, and also, confirms official releases of the All-Diaspora Council to the press.
  4. The members of each committee will be confirmed by the Bishops Council of the All-Diaspora Council.

 V.

Procedures for discussing issues at the All-Diaspora Council.

  1. The Vice-Chairman officiates at each meeting, leading the discussion, and if necessary, admonishes speakers.  If a speaker is warned twice or more, he can suspend a speaker’s right to speak.
  2. Each delegate will be allowed no more than 5 minutes to speak during a discussion of any issue at the All-Diaspora Council.
  3. Each delegate has the right to speak out no more than two times on any one topic.
  4. A delegate who wishes to speak, may allot his time to another delegate only once.
  5. All-Diaspora Council delegates are obligated to conduct themselves in a Christian manner, with respect for others, and not use any sharp or offensive words or expressions during discussions.
  6. All issues at the All-Diaspora Council will be decided by a majority of votes.
  7. The Chairman has the right to ask for a closed vote, using ballots.

VI.

The Bishops’ Council at the All-Diaspora Council.

  1. All the bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad are members of the Bishops’ Council, which can meet as needed during the proceedings of the Council.
  2. The Chairman of the Bishops’ Council is the Chairman of the ROCA PSEA.

VII.

The Secretariat of the All-Diaspora Council.

  1. The Bishops’ Council names the Senior Secretary and his assistant for the All-Diaspora Council.
  2. The Secretariat handles the minutes of the All-Diaspora Council.
  3. The Secretariat continues its work until the end of the All-Diaspora Council, after which it prepares all the documents of the Council and submits them to the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops.
  4. The Secretariat also contains an administrative office, which is organized by the Senior Secretary of the All-Diaspora Council.

Draft

 Agenda of the Vth All-Diaspora Council 

  1. Determination about the Supreme Church authority in the ROCA.
  2. Ruling on the Act of Eucharistic Communion of May 17, 2007.
  3. The canonization of Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), Hierarch of the ROCA.

Delegates of the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor

 EPISCOPATE

Most Reverend Agafangel, Bishop of Taurida and Odessa

Most Reverend Andronik, Bishop of Ottawa and North America

Most Reverend Sofroniy, Bishop of St. Petersburg and Northern Russia

Most Reverend Georgiy, Bishop of Bolgrad

Most Reverend Ioann, Bishop of Buinsk and Volzhsk

Most Reverend Afanasy, Bishop of Vologodsk and Velikoustyuzhsk

 Australian Diocese

Hegumen John (Shmelts)

Protodeacon Vasiliy Yakimov

Aleksey Serdtsev

 South American Diocese

Archpriest Vladimir Shlenev

Archpriest Georgiy Petrenko

Fr. Aleksandr Ivashevich

Fr. Vladimir Petrenko

 Eastern American Diocese

Archpriest Wsewolod Dutikow

Fr. Daniel Meschter

Fr. Nikita Grigoriev

Protodeacon Iov Chemerov

Deacon Dimitri Dobronravov

George Gerasimowicz

Mark Kotlaroff

 Western American Diocese

Archpriest Aleksy Mikrikov

Fr. Elias Warnke

 Canadian Diocese

Fr. Andrew Kencis

Hieromonk Arseniy (Manko)

Vladimir Skok

Nicholas Timtsenko

Aleksey Freis

Odessa Diocese

Archpriest Valery Alekseyev

Fr. Leonid Plyats

Fr. Aleksandr Martynenko

Hieromonk Methodius (Gerb)

Aleksandr Mutilin

Yuriy Sosyurko

Georgiy Sakharuta

Sergey Savchenko

 St. Petersburg Diocese

Fr. Aleksandr Shchipakin

Reader Mikhail Balashov

 Vologodsk Diocese

Fr. Aleksandr Lipin

 Central Russian Administrative District

Archpriest Valery Kravets

Archpriest Oleg Mironov

Hieromonk Nikon (Yost)

Fr. Valery Leonichev

Monk Diodor Pashentsev

Reader Aleksandr Khitrov

 Pre-Sobor Committee Members

Archpriest Igor Hrebinka

Archpriest Gregory Kotlaroff

Archpriest Sergey Klestov

Archpriest Konstantin Busygin

Fr. Victor Dobrov

Dimitri Gontscharow

Peter Koltypin

Nikolai Tchertkoff

 Delegates of Previous All-Diaspora Sobors

Archpriest Igor Chitikov

Reader Daniel Olson

John Herbst

Andrey Kotchoubey

George Schidlovsky

 Mission Representatives

Archpriest Gregory Williams

 Representatives of Organizations

Evgeniy Magerovsky

Oleg Rodzianko

Sergey Sauer

 Sobor Guests

Most Reverend Cyprian, Bishop of Oreoi

His Eminence Vlasie, Metropolitan of Slatioara and Suceava

Most Reverend Photii, Bishop of Triaditza

(and those invited by them to accompany them)

 

A Commentary on Our Spiritual Priorities

 “..we do not desire victory, but the return of brothers,

as the separation from them torments us.”

St. Gregory the Theologian Discourse 41: “On Holy Pentecost”  

In anticipation of the Vth All-Diaspora Sobor of the ROCA, I would like to touch on some important topics related to our past and present Sacred struggle. To properly orient ourselves for the the foreseeable future, it is necessary to correctly identify the main spiritual priorities of our common efforts. To do this, we need someone to act as a clear spiritual focal point, capable of consolidating around him all the disparate forces of the «fragments» of the old ROCA. I hope no one is not in doubt, that for the reunification process to pccur, we need an honest reassessment of the past and present, coupled with Christian goodwill. The entire “holy remnant” of the ROCA needs to focus on our old traditional spiritual values which dominated our Church from 1964 to 1985. We need an authoritative person from the past, an unimpeachable authority of the church, whose spiritual image has the ability to unite all the divided groups. There is no doubt that the image and work of the Holy Confessor Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), the Third Hierarch of the ROCA, can help us in this difficult undertaking. Why does the image of Met. Philaret attract our special attention? Precisely, because he specified the points of orientation, which should be used to guide our church life. Much has been said lately about the correctness of the course upon which the humble Met. Philaret led the ROCA, because he certainly tried to lead the church on the Royal way. In those days, our Holy Church was the undisputed forepost of True Orthodoxy. It became enriched spiritually and grew in number, to become a life-saving Vessel for many who sought the Truth, and was the foreshadowing of the Philadelphia Church. Now ROCA is diminished not only in number, but unfortunately, spiritually as well. The recent Union with the “sergianist-ecumenical” MP confirms the sad fact of the universal spiritual confusion and widespread loss of appreciation of true Orthodoxy. Now we are reaping the evil fruits of many disloyal actions and an almost complete departure from the prudent course charted by Met. Philaret. This is a fair cost for the slyness, careerism, and excessive desires of some church leaders who changed the entire inner spirit and structure of the Church. They plunged the ROCA truly into a Laodicean state. The dissimulation, hypocrisy, and baseless, Pharisean “hyper-correctness” pushed many true-orthodox Christians sincerely desirous of the glory of God away from the ROCA.

 We imperceptibly lose the salt of the earth, but many do not want to see this! The “fragments” of the ROCA have become bogged down in internecine warfare for the so-called “legacy” of the historic ROCA. Time is passing relentlessly, and sooner or later, the Lord will ask strictly all the “church leaders” who have artlessly squandered the opportunity for reconciliation, given to us all not for our merits, but by the special grace of God for the sake of bringing peace to the warring factions before the coming Apostasy.

 As we know, God resists the proud and blesses the humble with wisdom and grace. Therefore, we will not achieve apparently any time soon desired spiritual unity. Unfortunately, the historic moment has been lost, while hostility is gaining momentum. Competition is known to be an integral part of market economics or even the primitive bazaar, but it should have no place in the Holy Church. Unfortunately, though, competition is firmly entrenched even in the camps of those who defend the principles of the TOC and the “old” ROCA in internet publications. I tell you Fathers and Brothers, our case is very bad! The momentary successes offer no consolation, as there is no change for the better! We need to change our behavior and way of thinking, to confirm not only by word, but by deed, that the impending canonization of Met. Philaret, is not just a tribute to fashion and not the fruit of that same competition, but a conscious, penitential act. Only in this way can we please God and His Holy Servant Met. Philaret!

 Among our brothers from various self-styled, small, true-Orthodox groups, as well as among our part of the ROCA that recognizes the authority of the PSEA, the need to restore the “old” ROCA is raised more and more often. This fact cannot but please all the supporters of this idea, which is absolutely correct. But as it turns out, in fact, the term “old ROCA” is not understood in the same way, and unfortunately, “old ROCA” means something different to everyone. Inevitably, the obvious question emerges. How do we all understand “old ROCA”? What is the meaning we invest in this name? What are we going to restore, and what are our priorities? The spirit and principles of which period of “old ROCA” do we intend to restore? It is important to clarify! Will we chose as a model of governance the period of St. Philaret of New York? Or do we seek to restore the spirit and principles of “old” ROCA the period of the late Met. Vitaly (Ustinov)? We certainly have to honestly confess, without considering either one personally, that the spirit, methods, and principles of Church Orthodoxy of these two periods are very different.

 For our common spiritual benefit, we need to resolve to conduct a critical, honest audit of all that has occurred in our church from 1986 to 2007. Without an honest analysis of the past, we certainly will be unable to avoid wrong actions and tragic mistakes in the future! It should be done soberly, without the undue emotions of arrogance and critically reflect on what happened during the above-mentioned period of time. What problems must be addressed first?

 First, we must decide our position in regard to the Anathema on Ecumenism of 1983. There is a great need to clarify the extent of the boundaries and limits of this Anathema. This is a very important issue that requires its immediate resolution. It is directly related to the revisionism of our past. What opinion will we hold to now?  Will we continue to uphold the ambiguous positions expressed by Met. Vitaly (Ustinov) in the mixed message of the Christmas Epistle of 1986? Or do we have enough courage to listen to the critical arguments and fair comments made by the other True Orthodox Churches (TOC)? We must calmly, without any extreme emotions, consider and weigh all the reasons “for” and “against”. For the sake of fairness, we need to recognize that we have violated the regulations of that ban. It is necessary and desirable for all our “fragments”, the entire “holy remnant” of the ROCA to return to the original position of the Holy Met. Philaret of New York.

Through this re-evaluation, we would not only by word, but by deed confirm our sincere commitment to the views of St. Philaret and His “old” ROCA. Otherwise, the future canonization of St. Philaret is not much different from the “sergianist” canonization of the Holy New martyrs.  After all, in recognizing their undeniable holiness, they did not recognize their sacred beliefs and ideals of struggle. Let us say in all conscience, such a canonization would be a mere formality and nothing more. In the Holy Scripture, such a formal version of the glorification of the Prophets, because of the presence of wickedness is deplored uncompromisingly. What transpired before the Anathema of 1983 has not been refuted by anyone.  Nevertheless, in 1986 and in subsequent years, the Anathema was regularly violated by ROCA, especially during the time of Met. Lavr and this is awful! Who understands the force of an anathema will not persist in their errors, even those that may not have been deliberate. De facto and de jure, because of these violations we are still reminded of the words known to all: “... and fall under one’s Anathema.” We tasted the bitter fruits of the terrible consequences of these violations in 2007. We should reflect on how it might affect us not only here, but most importantly, for eternity! This is no joke, and now is not the time to save face and strike distinguished poses!

 In discussing this matter with humility, let us determine for ourselves the clear boundaries and spread of this holy Anathema.

 Secondly, it is necessary for the good of our Church to review the matter of the censures placed on those members of ROCA who, for various reasons, withdrew from it from 1986 to 2007, during the times of Metropolitans Lavr and Vitaliy. The difficulty in addressing this issue is clear, but with Christian goodwill it can get a fair settlement. That is, of course, if we sincerely desire to have an atmospehere of brotherhood and fairness. For the Lord himself has commanded us to bless those who speak ill of us.

 During the time of the Hierarch Met. Philaret, ROCA teemed with various contradictions among the episcopate, clergy, monastics and lay people. Even then the future division loomed between the so-called “Party” and this historical fact, but due to the wise and fair policies of the Hierarch Met. Philaret, who did not belong to any of the “parties”, feuds were not allowed in ROCA and freedom of opinion was preserved. He was like an invisible wall separating rivals, for he was not guided by the principle of expediency, but strictly adhered to the principle of conscience and maximum impartiality in his judgments. Many had great respect and admiration of him for this fact! In those years ROCA grew and was worthy of being called the Philadelphia Church, and among all the local TOCs, its head, Met. Philaret was known as the Angel of the Philadelphia Church. Contemporary church historians rightly named the period of his rule as a Golden era. ROCA at that time was dominated by pastoral love, strict spiritual discipline opposed to any despotism and moderate observance of absolute official Orthodoxy!

 Beginning in 1986, a narrow party line of one of the “groups” prevailed over the church, and as a result, the balance of forces was disrupted, resulting in increased authoritarianism and violation of sobornost. Some who protested against the innovations were expelled from ROCA, others were “put out to pasture” for the good of the cause, while others, in order to survive, transformed themselves like chameleons. As a result, these turncoats completely surrendered our Church in 2007 into the “paws” of the “church of the dissemblers”.

 Bp. Gregory (Grabbe) of blessed memory, admitted with great sorrow, that with the death of Met. Philaret, charity within ROCA was replaced by very strict discipline and intolerance of dissent. Bp. Gregory himself became a victim of the intrigues and the change in the church’s course. Here are his words: “... We have before us the example of Los Angeles diocese, where because of severity instead of love and the desire for punitive action to bring down a small diocese (about 10 parishes) - to just one!” (Bp. Gregory’s Letter to Met. Vitaly, 24 March / 6 April 1994).

 Bp. Gregory writes in another of his letters: “You are mistaken about the ones who left us. First of all, it is not only the Greeks, but there are also Russians and Americans. I have always been able to work easily with them. They moved away from us, because our Bishops drove them away. These are the fruits of adversarial plotting and chauvinism on our part (of some bishops), and the elimination of the guidance of love in our deliberations. After all, Fr. Panteleimon was condemned without any investigation. Not a single investigator ever went to the monastery, let alone Met. Vitaly. None of the psoitive material that I passed along  was taken into account; the prosecution was built on the testimony of people who, according to the canons, cannot be witnesses against priests. It is significant that all the brothers remained with Fr. Panteleimon. The system of the main investigator, Abp. Anthony of Los Angeles, was simple; to force a person into despair at the unfairness, to compel him to leave and then defrock him. It is an easy system, but un-Christian.  Applying it in the cases of Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Anthony was admitted by Metropolitan in a conversation with a delegation of clerics. I was removed because I always reminded everyone of the canons. It was not possible to conduct unlawful hearings with my involvement... By the way, Fr. Panteleimon had always spoken out earlier against the fact that we would have a Greek bishop. He left only when the selected hegumen was approved, who himself was accused without trial within a few days, while the pastorship was given over to Abp. Anthony of Los Angeles, who clearly acted as a ram to destroy the monasterym which had large and very valuable assets, collected by Fr. Panteleimon.”

 Therefore, recognizing the clearly flagrant injustice and prejudice, and taking into account the possibility of a wrong judgment, it is necessary to review the lawfulness of the determinations. Instead of agreeing with the repressive past decisions of our previous Synods made after 1986, we should, at least for the sake of our consciences, review these decisions to make sure once again that they were just.

 For the sake of gaining benefits from the actions by the church and our Holy Struggle, everyone must refrain from making statements about someone's lack of Grace and schismatic actions. May all the “fragments” of the traditional ROCA for whom the legacy of St. Met. Philaret is dear not just in words, make similar proper judgments on the relationship of these Minor Sobors to the topics above. It will show what everyone is “made of” and who is closer to the Truth. This will help us to gradually reach a consensus, agreement, and to the sense of reliance on each other.

 If we stand on the firm foundation of the ecclesiology and sensible church policies professed by St. Philaret, then we will have the prerequisite for real unity. Otherwise, if we do not understand the main priorities, and each small Sobor of the TOCs elevates their authority among the churches to the rank of infallibility, then we definitely have to forget for some time to come any ideas of reconciliation, unification, or oness of belief.

 It is now evident that all the TOCs have big problems brewing inside and small successes in terms of acquiring small groups, which then align themselves with Synods at war with one another.  This should not give them any comfort or ally their vigilance and Christian conscience. Everyone should understand that by gathering faithful from other jurisdictions, as well as counting the church “tourists,” a real superiority is not achieved by anyone. The merger and consolidation is necessary of some of the autonomous TOCs, that are close to one another views. It may seem from the outside that the situations for the TOCs is perhaps slightly better compared to the way it was before, but the inner condition of the circumstances of the so-called “merged” and “defectors” has not changed for the better, perhaps even - on the contrary. In fact, in the words of St. Basil the Great: “The circumstances are strongly tending toward the destruction of churches”, and “the general situation of the Church ... is likened to old clothes that are easily torn by trivial reasons”. We are also gradually sinking into a state of strife which St. Basil said was akin to a state of self-destruction. “What will we compare this state to? ... Is not this storm among Churches fiercer than any marine tempest? ... Attacking each other, denigrating each other. If an opponent wounds one of us (in our case a “sergianist,” “ecumenist,” or an “atheist”), our defenders also attack! If the enemy is deposed and fallen, your previous defender attacks you... and evil seem so rooted that we have become foolish, mute beasts, because if they are of one nature they live as one herd, and we must battle our own.” and now “everyone is a theologian, even though there are thousands of stains on his soul”.

 Elsewhere St. Basil also said: “In this evil time ... love in all of us has grown cold, unity among brothers has disappeared, and consensus has become a thing of the past.  Respect among friends has stopped, Christian charity is nowhere to be found, a compassionate tear is not shed. Now one trips the other, others mock the fallen, while others applaud”. (St. Basil the Great, “On the Holy Spirit”, chapter 30, par. 76, 77, 78)

Therefore, let us be tolerant of the views of each other. And here we can all benefit from the useful experience of church policy of the “old” ROCA in the times of St. Met. Philaret.  As was said earlier, conditions within ROCA in his time were not very quiet, but nevertheless, freedom of opinion and expression were preserved. Criticism of specific people in the Church was tolerated and this criticism often led to serious clashes between the “parties”, but the spiritual culture and the great credibility of Met. Philareta did not allow anarchy and the annihilation of the warring factions. Unfortunately, the spiritual authority of the magnitude of St. First Hierarch of ROCA Met. Philaret no longer exists among us. However, if the above-mentioned Christian goodwill exists, along with polite written statements on the Internet and respect towards the views and critical articles of our opponents, then we can gradually attain the desired unity (at least) on the Eucharistic level, and later, if necessary, on a canonical-administrative level. We are all for the unity of all true – Orthodox groups, and we must decide what is spiritually dear to us and most valuable from the past of the TOC and ROCA. This will help us regain “underfoot” a really solid spiritual foundation by the grace of God, devoid of any deceit, pettiness and personal ambitions. We are obliged to adopt a uniform system of spiritual priorities for all of us, and a common point of reference is need for that purpose. It is necessary to honestly determine the moment in history, when all the unrest began in ROCA and the departure from the life-saving course charted by St. Philaret, the Third Hierarch of ROCA. Such a pledge can contain the remedy to our current difficult situation.

 Only with such an honest approach, without any fuss and ambiguity will we have a reason to hope that we will be celebrating a new Week of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. May this occur as soon as possible by the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors and all the Saints. Amen.

Fr. Andrew Trachuk

 

A Letter from Archpriest Igor Chitikov and the Parish Council of the Church of St. Andrew Stratelates

and Bishop Agafangel's Answer.

 

His Eminence

Most Reverend

Bishop Agafangel

PSEA Chairman

 

October 5\22, 2008

Hieromartyr Phocas

 

Your Eminence, bless,

 

The Parish Council of the Church of St. Andrew Stratelates in St. Petersburg, Florida, met on October 5, 2008, and reviewed the current status of our parish.

 

After the Act was signed, our parish remained with its bishop, the Most Reverend Bishop Gabriel, who spoke out, as you had, against the signing of the Act.  Our rector, Archpriest Igor Chitikov, wrote and spoke about the unlawfulness of the Act and called for the dissolution of ROCA.  After the Sobor of Bishops, we were finally convinced that the bishops who had left ROCA would not return.  Then when our beloved Bishop Gabriel was removed from the Synod administration and transferred to Canada, we made the difficult decision to leave ROCOR(MP).

 

We carefully investigated the circumstances of your censure and saw that the game-playing of the “two ukazes” was symptomatic of the cheap “political strategies” of the functionaries of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.  Unfortunately, those who never lived or worked in the former USSR, often do not see or understand what is truly occurring there.  For us, the entire last year was a year full of political maneuvering.  Before we knew it, we found ourselves in a ROCOR MP which had become a banal, post-Soviet department outside of Russia.

 

We are deeply grateful to you, that you understood our circumstances and took us under your omofor.  Yet we have concerns regarding the forthcoming Vth All-Diaspora Sobor.  We are troubled by the following issues:

 

  1. In our opinion, ROCA has fulfilled its mission.  What grounds are there to create a church body outside of the borders of the Homeland, similar to the many divisions in the Greek Church based on the calendar?  Would it be more correct for the parishes in the US and Canada to integrate into the bodies of the lawful churches here?

 

  1. What is the basis for the canonization of Metropolitan Philaret?  What documentation exists for this?  How does one become familiar with this documentation?  Who makes up the committee for canonization?  Since when is Met. Philaret more venerable in the Church Abroad than Metropolitans Anastasy or Anthony?

 

The reason we are writing this letter to you was the decision to include our parish in the ranks of parishes in Bishop Andronik’s diocese.  We believe this was done prematurely.  We did not make any requests to Bishop Andronik, since there was no administrative district here in our Church before May 17, 2007.  We turned to you not as the head of some new church body, but as the only ROCA bishop (out of the ones listed on May 17, 2007) who did not agree with the “Act of Eucharistic Communion.”  We do not consider the MP to be our enemy.  But we firmly believe that there is no one in North America who has the right to force us to be an “Embassy of Russia” (in the words of Archpriest V. Potapov).  On the other hand, we are even more worried about becoming part of another orthodox schism.

 

Your Eminence’s humble servants,

Archpriest Igor Chitikov and the members of the Parish Council

 

________________________________________________

 

Dear Friends in Christ Fr. Igor and members of the Parish Council!

 

You brought me great pleasure that you react in an engaged and straight-forward manner to events transpiring in the Church.  This is a testament to your concern for your salvation, which can also help us to see and recognize our possible errors.

 

The questions which you pose to me should be decided rightly only at a Sobor.  I can only give my personal opinion of them.

 

  1. My personal opinion can be summed up by saying ROCA will fulfill its mission only then, when a lawful and free Local Sobor of the Russian Church is held at which ROCA will have to give an account of all the time of its existence as a part of the Russian Church separated from it because of political events, and whose dogma was changed due to these events.  Our founding bishops, along with all those who split with Met. Sergey (Stragorodsky), considered such sobors to be the supreme administrative bodies of the ROC and we are subject likewise to them.  We are not self-contained and exist independently only until the situation of the entire Russian Church is finally settled.  Before we consider the matter of “integrating into the bodies of the lawful churches here,” we should, I believe, carefully consider these bodies, and if possible, develop good relations with them.  Only after that, should we consider your question.  We do not have the right to make decisions that will lead to confusion among our flock and push our now much smaller Church to the edge of schism.  We should be able to prove and explain the correctness of any of our decisions.  All decisions must be made at a sobor and we should learn how to obey decisions made on a sobor level.

 

  1. A final decision about the canonization of Met. Philaret must also be made at our Sobor.  The grounds for it are: the incorruptible remains of the holy man, the many miracles resulting from praying to him (these accounts were even printed earlier in Pravoslavnaya Rus (Orthodox Russia)), his disciplined and ascetic life, as well as his steadfastness in confessing the Orthodoxy of the Holy Fathers.  Accounts of the miracles are being gathered and will be presented at the All-Diaspora Sobor.  This reverence of Met. Philaret does not diminish in any way our love and respect for Metropolitans Anastasy or Anthony.

 

The decision to accept your parish was made personally by me, because of the desire of the parish to engage in missionary activities.  Therefore, the final status of the parish must be decided together with you and Bishop Andronik, since the parish is located in territory under his authority.  In spite of this, I pledge to you that the status will not be imposed upon you.  It will be confirmed only with everyone’s agreement.  This is spelled out in our list of parishes.

 

Yours in Christ,

+Bishop Agafangel

 

October 7\September 24, 2008 – Holy Protomartyr and Equal-to-the-Apostles Thecla