NEW YORK: September 6, 2006
The Synod of Bishops Makes a Decision on the "Act on Canonical
The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
Russia, at its regular session on August 24/September 6, 2006,
The report of the Secretary of the Commission on discussions with
the Moscow Patriarchate, Protopriest Alexander Lebedeff, on the
results of the seventh joint meeting of the Commissions held in late
June of this year.
After an exhaustive discussion of the matter, decreed:
1. To take into consideration the report of Protopriest Alexander
2. On the basis of the decision of the Council of Bishops of May 15-
19, 2006, to confirm and approve the "Act on Canonical Communion" in
its revised form as prepared by the church Commissions at the
seventh joint meeting, along with other materials developed by the
3. In accordance with the directions of the Council of Bishops of
2006, to instruct the Commission on discussions with the Moscow
Patriarchate, jointly with the Commission on dialog with the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, to work out the details of the
ceremony of the signing of the "Act" and the Rite of establishment
of canonical communion of both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church.
4. Also, in accordance with the decision of the Council of Bishops,
to authorize Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany, Chairman of the
Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate, to
coordinate together with Archbishop Innokenty of Korsun the
simultaneous publication of the "Act" which has been confirmed by
both Holy Synods on the official websites of the two parts of the
Russian Orthodox Church.
5. To consider at the next expanded session of the Synod of Bishops,
to be scheduled at the time of the feast day of the Kursk-Root Icon
of the Mother of God this year, on the proposals prepared by the
joint Commissions at their next meeting.
6. To inform the flock through a special Address on the present
state of the negotiation process and the proposed plans for the
+ Metropolitan Laurus President
+ Archbishop Mark
+ Archbishop Kyriil
+ Bishop Michael
+ Bishop Peter
Address of ROCOR's Synod of Bishops to the Faithful
Dear in the Lord Fathers, Brothers and Sisters!
For 90 years now, the dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church
Outside of Russia have existed on all continents, along with
monasteries, publishing houses and parishes. Everything that
signifies church life: parish councils, sisterhoods, schools, youth
groups, general parish meetings, magnificent choirs, altar boys,
etc. gathered around them. All this arose as diocesan conferences
and Church Councils convened, which regulated all of church life.
Thus, through the chaos of the persecution of the Russian Church,
the Russian Orthodox people gathered to stand around their
Hierarchy, which found itself abroad, and strove to serve towards
the emancipation and rebirth of their people on the foundation of
the Orthodox Faith.
Within the boundaries of Russia, persecution took the form of the
absolute destruction of faith in Christ. Much was destroyed, many
suffered. But the Lord did not permit the disappearance of the
Church in our Homeland. In those places where ancient churches
survived, people are once again gaining spiritual nourishment. That
which was destroyed is being rebuilt. Church life is rising from the
ashes. Archpastors, clergymen and believers are trying to rebuild
Orthodox Russia anew. This process of renascence requires effort and
the strength of will, since it is necessary to conduct spiritual
educational work with the descendants of the generations of godless
violence which touched absolutely every person without exception.
Many obstacles remain on this path, but we see that these obstacles,
and the remnants of Soviet times, are gradually being overcome.
The day has arrived when we must seek the reestablishment of
communion with the wellspring of our own traditions. For there are
two wills at workone being that of those Russians who are children
of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, prepared in every
way to cooperate in the reestablishment of church life and
development of the spirituality of the people, and the other is from
our brethren and sisters in Russia, who labor towards her rebirth
and extend their hand to us.
Positive changes in the church life of our Homeland spurred the
Council of Bishops of October 2000 to establish a Committee on the
unity of the Russian Church and to bless the organization of
scholarly conferences on church history with the participation of
the members of our Church and representatives of the Church in
Russia. These conferences were held in 2001 and 2002. Then, in
December 2003, a Commission on discussions with the Moscow
Patriarchate was formed. At the same time, the Holy Synod of the
Moscow Patriarchate decided to create a similar Commission on dialog
with our Church. This bore witness to the earnest and good-willed
effort of both parts of the Russian Orthodox Church to make sense of
the tragedy of our common history, so that we "may discuss
whatever question there is which separates your
communion from us," as we read in Canon 92 (103) of the Council of
Carthage, which called upon the flock to trust their Hierarchy,
which possessed the right to heal the divisions between the Orthodox
and the Donatists.
The "Regulations of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia,"
the by-laws under which our Church lives, demand that we regularize
the situation of the Local Russian Church. It is important to note
that a commission to revise the "Regulations of the Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia" was established before the year 2000.
This shows that even then it was apparent that our "Regulations" are
in need of amendment. Since 2000, new possibilities emerged in this
regard. Now, in connection with the adoption of the "Act on
Canonical Communion," our by-laws can be reexamined, taking into
account new possibilities.
Still, it is necessary to point out that we are not discussing
the "self-abolishment" of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
Russia. Our Church will exist as before, as attested to by the first
paragraph of the "Act on Canonical Communion:" "The Russian Orthodox
Church Outside of Russia, conducting its salvific service in the
dioceses, parishes, monasteries, brotherhoods and other
ecclesiastical bodies that took shape through history, remains an
indissoluble part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church." These words
in the "Act" attest to the recognition on the part of the Moscow
Patriarchate of our historical path and of the living bond between
the entire Local Russian Orthodox Church and its part abroad, which
always existed and which we never denied. This historical document
will reestablish the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church, through
this mutual act acknowledging the lawful status of the Russian
Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate in Russia. Each side,
preserving its identity as a Church, will continue to exist in full
legality and independence, but now recognizing the other side and
declaring the unity of the Russian Church. For this reason, this
means the reconciliation and mutual recognition of each other while
yet preserving our administrative self-governance, for we understand
the needs of our clergy and of our flock better than they understand
them in Moscow.
The IV All-Diaspora Council and the Council of Bishops that followed
approved the steps towards reestablishing unity already taken by our
Hierarchy, and blessed its continued progress.
The above-mentioned "Act" has been approved and confirmed by the
Synod of Bishops, but it will be finally adopted when it is signed
by the Primates of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Working out the details of this signing, and also the Rite of the
establishment of canonical communion has been assigned to the
Commission on discussions with the Moscow Patriarchate. It is
expected that it will embark on this task jointly with the
Commission on dialog with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of
Russia at their next meeting. Then, the results of this meeting will
be considered at the next session of the Synod of Bishops, which
will be held in December of this year.
Dear in the Lord fathers, brothers and sisters! We do not intend to
depart from our positions of principle, in particular with regard to
the ecumenical movement. We intend to continue to firmly speak out
in condemnation of the so-called "branch theory" and of joint prayer
with heretics, which is emphasized in our anathema of ecumenism
adopted by the Council of Bishops of 1983. This is reflected in the
documents of the church Commissions confirmed by both Holy Synods
and published in the official publications of the two parts of the
Russian Orthodox Church. From this we see that in the Moscow
Patriarchate, our attitude towards the heresy of ecumenism has long
ago been absorbed. That is why we are not compromising the inherited
principles which have always guided us. Still, we were always open
to dialog with everyone, but on the condition that this be done
without any hindrance to Orthodox teaching. In the decisions of the
Councils of Bishops we always held fast to the ecclesiology of
moderation, and never rejected the presence of grace in the Moscow
Patriarchate or in other Local Churches.
We will continue to maintain the spirit of our great fathers, the
founders of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, following
their legacy and the historical path of our Church. To carry this
great inheritance to Russia is the mission we strive to fulfill.
We will always remember that only in the Kingdom of Heaven will
everything be perfect and good, that in the Church on earth we will
perpetually experience difficulties caused by human passions,
failings, temptations and sins, which must be overcome by means of
beneficial fraternal dialog and cooperation, condescension,
understanding and a Christian attitude towards each other, as
Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians: "correct such a one in the
spirit of meekness" (Galatians 6:1).
In conclusion, let us remember Schema-Archimandrite Amvrossy
(Kurganov) of blessed memory, the Abbot of Vvedensky Milkovo
Monastery in Serbia, whence came several bishops of the Russian
Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, since departed. The eminent
church figure of the Russian diaspora, P.S. Lopukhin, writing on the
Christian death of Fr Amvrossy, said: "I preserve in my memory this
image of a man, weeping in joy on his death bed for Divine unity."
Blessed Metropolitan Anthony said of Fr Amvrossy that in spirit he
was closer to him than anyone.
May God grant all of us to experience this feeling of "spiritual joy
in Divine unity," leading us to the successful conclusion of the
process of reconciliation of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox
May the Lord help us! Amen.