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Statement of Nicholas A. Ohotin, Communications Director of the Synod of Bishops and New York Representative of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    2005.02.04 ROCOR: Statement of Nicholas A. Ohotin, Communications Director of the Synod of Bishops and New York Representative of the Russian Ecclesiastical
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4 10:17 PM
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      2005.02.04 ROCOR: Statement of Nicholas A. Ohotin, Communications
      Director of the Synod of Bishops and New York Representative of the Russian
      Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem
      STATEMENT


      NEW YORK: February 4, 2005
      Statement of Nicholas A. Ohotin, Communications Director of the Synod of
      Bishops and New York Representative of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission
      in Jerusalem

      Since the statement made by the Secretary of Inter-Orthodox Affairs of
      the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate has
      caused consternation even among those who support the rapprochement of the
      two parts of the Russian Church, and has complicated the situation, it is
      worth noting that the declaration of the representative of the DECR,
      Protopriest Nikolai Balashov, was an unfortunate attempt to whitewash the
      violent, unlawful actions of 1997-2000, in which the DECR was directly
      involved. This statement by the DECR Secretary is of no significance to the
      joint Committees, their work and joint decisions.

      The two appointed Committees exist on the Synodal level. They are
      directed to draft joint documents which are being submitted for approval by
      the Hierarchies. No limitations exist in the scope of the points of
      contention being considered. No alleged exclusions from the matters placed
      before the Committees of questions pertaining to the Holy Land or matters
      connected with this complex issue were envisioned. Property questions are
      not excluded from the agenda, nor are questions on the actual cessation of
      lawsuits over property, or the filing of new claims. The reference to a
      future united Russian Church which would decide everything is irrelevant,
      since the task of the Committees consists of determining the path of
      towards this future.

      At the next meeting, planned for early March, it is expected that all the
      obstacles standing between the two parts of the Russian Church will be
      considered with the aim of drafting joint resolutions, or possible options
      thereof, to present to the Hierarchies. It may be that the apparent
      violation of the Committees' own rules by the Secretary of the Committee of
      the Moscow Patriarchate in his capacity of a secretary of the DECR will be
      discussed. It is beyond belief that one Committee member tried to make such
      an unusual political play of the internal questions on the Committees'
      agenda by making such a suggestion. It was intentionally decreed from the
      beginning that the Committees would work behind closed doors. It was with
      the aim of avoiding harmful polemics in the press and to protect the work
      of the Committees from external pressure that the decision was made to work
      in a closed forum, even though this has led to criticism. The Synod of
      Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia may send a request
      to the Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate to publish the entire set of
      documents thus far drafted, but any such decision depends on the consent of
      both sides, on the Synodal level.

      Meanwhile, the statement made by the President of the Committee of the
      Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany,
      was unavoidable--and legitimate. The problem is that a matter set before
      the Committees was presented in a one-sided fashion, without consideration
      of the very existence of the Committees. The reference to a status quo is
      unjustified. In fact, it is at this very moment that the status quo is
      being violated. The desire to legally formalize that which has not yet been
      formalized that was expressed is a new development in the real
      circumstances today. As is well known, the actual status quo involves the
      presence on the territory of the Jericho monastery of monastics belonging
      not only to the Moscow Patriarchate but to the Russian Orthodox Church
      Outside of Russia. Finally, the seizure of the monasteries in Jericho and
      Hebron through the use of force on the part of the Palestinian
      Administration under Yassir Arafat was viewed in the Holy Land as a
      violation of the status quo of holy sites in Palestine. This disruption of
      the status quo greatly alarmed and troubled not only the Jerusalem
      Patriarchate but many other Christians in Palestine.

      The process of dialog with the Moscow Patriarchate was begun in the
      German Diocese, specifically by His Eminence Archbishop Mark, in 1993. This
      dialog lasted several years and was accompanied by the blessing of the
      Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, but
      was interrupted by the seizure of the Hebron monastery in the summer of
      1997. The participants of the dialog issued a Statement in December of
      1997, stressing the mutual desire to continue their constructive meetings.
      In January of 2000, the monastery in Jericho was seized. Despite this, new
      steps towards the renewal of dialog were made by the Russian Orthodox
      Church Outside of Russia in the second half of 2000. In this context, the
      suggestion that there is some new status quo, and the suggestion that
      certain topics are to be blocked out, are unacceptable.

      Since the beginning, both sides stressed that the work of the Committees
      would be laborious. This has now been proven true. But what is least of all
      needed now are fresh attempts to justify the policies of recent years which
      might undermine trust. Such attempts can only inflict new wounds. This
      instance shows the importance of caution and care. And especially crucial
      is the prayerful support for the work of the Committees.

      Nicholas A Ohotin
      Communications Director, Synod of Bishops and
      New York Representative of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in Jerusalem

      Further references (in Russian):

      http://www.rocor.de/Vestnik/20001/index.htm
      http://www.rocor.de/Vestnik/20002/html/chronika.htm
      --
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